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  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 17, a gunman chanting Islamist slogans attacked the Turkish Council of State (the Danistay, or high court for administrative affairs) in Ankara. The gunman killed one judge and wounded four others who were sitting in the Council's second chamber, which has recently upheld Turkey's ban on “turbans” in schools. In accordance with the European and Turkish notion of secularism (laïcité in French) as freedom from religious symbols in the public sphere, Turkey bans public officials and school students wearing turbans—a specific style of women's headcover that emerged in the mid 1980s and that the courts consider an Islamist political symbol. (Turbans are distinct from traditional headscarves, which are not banned.) Photographs of the judges had earlier been published in Islamist newspapers with headlines targeting them.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, Düden Yegenoglu, Ekim Alptekin
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Turkey opened accession talks with the European Union (EU) on October 3. In the aftermath of the March 2004 Madrid bombings, the November 2004 murder of film director Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam, and the July 2005 London bombings, all committed by radical Islamists, some people in Europe wonder whether Islam is compatible with European values and, accordingly, whether letting the predominantly Muslim Turkey join the EU is a good idea. Will Turkey's EU accession compound Europe's problem with radical Islam, or is Turkey's version of Islam a panacea for Europe's Islamist problem?
  • Topic: International Relations, Religion
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: David Makovsky, Elizabeth Young
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A key issue in the runup to January's Palestinian parliamentary elections is whether the radical Islamist party Hamas will be allowed to participate and under what conditions. Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and foreign minister Silvan Shalom have insisted that the group disarm, disavow terror, and end its call for Israel's destruction before it is permitted to run in elections. Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas has favored an unconditional acceptance of Hamas's electoral participation, believing that it could coopt Hamas within the Palestinian political fold. However, he said in a Washington Post interview published on September 11, 2005, "A political party plus a militia is unacceptable," but he did not elaborate specific plans that would prevent Hamas from participating in elections as both party and militia.
  • Topic: International Relations, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Patrick Clawson
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Iran nuclear issue will be on the international agenda in the coming months. The often-postponed visit to Tehran by the head of Russia's Atomic Energy Agency (Minatom) Alexander Rumyantsev to sign an agreement on the delivery of nuclear fuel for the Bushehr power plant is now set for January. Meanwhile, early January will see the second round of negotiations between the Europeans and Iran, which is insisting it will end its voluntary suspension of uranium enrichment unless there is significant progress within the three-month timeframe set in the November 15 Paris Accords. That is no easy matter, given that in response to Iran's demands that the negotiations cover a wide range of security and economic issues, the initial European position evidently was to raise the full set of concerns which led to suspension of EU-Iran talks about a Trade Cooperation Agreement, namely, terrorism (such as al-Qaeda), Middle East peace, human rights, and all of Iran's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Martin Kramer
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The usual Western assumption is that "minority rule" is illegitimate and an inversion of natural order. This is, however, a very modern and European idea. Minority rule has a long tradition in the Middle East, where it has never had the same stigma that the modern West attaches to it.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Patrick Clawson
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As European and Iranian officials began negotiations December 14 on whether to make permanent Iran's temporary suspension of uranium enrichment, eight former Western foreign ministers issued a joint statement calling on Washington to support the European efforts by engaging with Iran. There is a growing chorus claiming that Iran will keep its nuclear program suspended only if offered significant incentives by the United States, such as security guarantees, an end to hostility, or at least normal relations.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Libya, Arab Countries
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, Mark Parris, Egemen Bagis
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On October 6, 2004, the European Commission released its final report on Turkey's progress toward satisfying the EU's accession rules, known as the Copenhagen Criteria. Although the report stated that "Turkey satisfies the Copenhagen Criteria sufficiently" to enter accession talks, many European counties and the EU itself are still debating whether or not to take that step. This fact serves as proof that Turkish accession is not only a technical process -- defined for other candidate countries as satisfying the Copenhagen Criteria -- but also a political one in which other "non-Copenhagen" criteria and expectations play a role. Hence, even though Ankara has satisfied the Copenhagen Criteria, Turkey's EU membership is not yet a certainty.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Orhan Babaoglu
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On November 23, 2004, Gen. James Jones, NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe, praised Operation Active Endeavour (OAE) for its role on the war on terror. OAE is NATO's post-September 11 answer to the question of naval security in the Mediterranean Sea. With the threat of terrorism on the open waters gaining increasing attention, especially in the aftermath of the 2000 USS Cole bombing in Yemen and the September 11 attacks, the Mediterranean basin (including the Black Sea) has become a new focal point for policymakers. The basin lies between three dangerous conflict areas -- the Middle East, the Balkans, and the Caucasus. Moreover, as a passageway between developed and underdeveloped nations, with access to three strategically important sea passages -- Gibraltar in the west, the Suez Canal in the south, and the Turkish Straits in the north -- the Mediterranean gives terrorists, human traffickers, and drug and arms smugglers easy access to the long and difficult to patrol coastlines of Europe. Is the West doing an adequate job of confronting the new threats in the Mediterranean? What role does the U.S.-Turkish alliance play in this enterprise?
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Turkey, Caucasus, Middle East, Yemen, Arab Countries, Balkans
  • Author: Patrick Clawson
  • Publication Date: 11-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On November 25, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors will meet to consider Iran's nuclear program, in light of the November 14 Paris Accords between Iran and Britain, France, and Germany (the E3). If the Paris Accords are going to work as a stepping-stone toward ending Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions -- rather than as a stalling tactic while Iran makes progress on that program -- several steps will be necessary to clarify and build on the Paris Accords.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Britain, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Paris, France, Germany, Arab Countries
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On October 6, the European Union (EU) Commission, the executive arm of the EU, will issue its much-anticipated report on whether Turkey has satisfied the EU's accession rules, the Copenhagen Criteria. The report will serve as a recommendation to the EU Council, the top ministerial body of the union, which will meet on December 17 to decide on Turkey's EU accession prospects. Based on the commission's recommendations, the council will either open accession talks with Turkey -- paving the way toward the country's eventual EU membership -- or keep Ankara's application, which dates back to 1987, on the backburner. Is Ankara ready for the EU? And, if so, is Brussels ready for Turkey?
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Arab Countries