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  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Twenty years ago, at the close of the 1991 Gulf War, the imposition of a UN-mandated no-fly zone contributed to the formation of a safe haven for Iraqi Kurds, resulting in the liberation of nearly three million people from Baathist dictatorship a full decade before the rest of Iraq. In 1992, new UN-mandated no-fly and no-drive zones were established in southern Iraq and the Balkans to contain rogue regimes and protect civilians from government repression. Given the current developments in Libya, it is natural to consider employing such options once again. Yet history shows that exclusion zones are particularly tricky operations. If not configured properly, they can be worse than useless, signaling fecklessness instead of resolve while providing little real protective value to civilians.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Insurgency, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Libya, Arabia, Arab Countries, United Nations, Balkans, North Africa
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The uprising in Libya has evolved into a significant military struggle. The Qadhafi regime and, to a lesser extent, its opponents are employing substantial levels of violence, including the use of heavy weapons. Thousands have been killed and wounded.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Libya, Arabia, Arab Countries, North Africa
  • Author: Simon Henderson, David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Following this weekend's widespread disturbances in Libya, Muammar Qadhafi could lose power within hours or days as his military units and security services crumble in the face of popular discontent. Alternatively, he could decide -- in the ominous words of his son Saif al-Islam -- to "fight to the last bullet," which suggests even more horrific levels of violence and anarchy. In a rambling television broadcast today, February 22, the colonel pledged to "die as a martyr."
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Libya, Arabia, Arab Countries, North Africa
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the wake of the UN speeches and Netanyahu's acceptance of unconditional talks, Abbas now seems to be the odd man out, though renewed Israeli construction in east Jerusalem could alter that dynamic.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Treaties and Agreements, United Nations, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Arabia
  • Author: David Makovsky, Ghaith al-Omari, Amos Yadlin
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Palestinian decision to appeal to the UN is rooted in frustration with Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government and the conviction that negotiations are futile at the moment. Furthermore, they believe that President Obama's efforts, while admirable, will not produce results. These beliefs -- combined with the sense of urgency imparted by the Arab Spring and the growing perception that the Palestinian leadership can no longer back down from the initiative -- makes it likely that they will head to the UN this month as planned.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Self Determination
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, United Nations
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On January 6 -- Christmas Eve according to the Eastern Orthodox calendar -- six Coptic Christians and a policeman were killed in a drive-by shooting while exiting church in Naga Hammadi, Upper Egypt. The attack, which came in retaliation to an alleged rape of a twelve-year-old Muslim girl by a Christian man, was the largest assault on Copts in Egypt since a January 2000 massacre left twenty dead in Sohag. The days since the shooting have been marked by violent clashes and the burning of Christian and Muslim property. These developments have unfolded against the background of increased political pressure on Islamists -- evoking the 1990s, when the killing of Copts by Islamist militants was a routine occurrence and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) was banned from political participation. Thus, while Naga Hammadi might be an isolated incident, it could also presage the return of Egypt's Islamists to the bloody sectarian attacks of the 1990s.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: U.S. Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell will return to the region next week in a bid to restart talks that have been stalled since the beginning of the Obama administration. In a television interview earlier this month, Mitchell declared that he would like to complete peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians within two years, if not sooner. Senior U.S. officials, including President Obama, have called for an unconditional return to the negotiating table. The official position of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is that talks cannot resume until Israel extends its settlement moratorium to east Jerusalem. He also wants the pre-1967 boundaries to serve as the baseline for negotiations. At the same time, he has made a statement indicating that he regrets how he reached his current position, hinting that the current impasse does not serve the Palestinian people's interests. Is there more convergence between the two sides than is readily apparent?
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: David Makovsky, Robert Satloff, Jacob Walles
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The absence of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations over the past year is both surprising and troubling given the high priority President Obama assigned to resolving the conflict. The failure to resume talks stems largely from a lack of urgency on both sides.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Jerusalem, Arab Countries
  • Author: Stephen Tankel
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In his February 2 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair highlighted the growing danger posed by Pakistani militant organization Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Calling the group a "special case," he asserted that it is "becoming more of a direct threat and is placing Western targets in Europe in its sights." He also expressed concern that it could "actively embrace" a more anti-Western agenda. Given its global capabilities with regard to fundraising, logistics, support, and operations, LeT could pose a serious threat to U.S. interests. Consequently, weakening it should be a high priority for Washington.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Europe, Washington, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji, David Cvach, Ali Alfoneh
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The means for assessing political fissures in Iran are by nature very limited and have become even more so since the June 12, 2009, election. Independent studies and data on the Iranian public, such as opinion polling, are sparse and not useful, and the Iranian press follows very strict red lines in discussing politics. Western diplomats in Iran are also restrained from understanding the political environment due to the oppressively formal nature of relations with Iranian officials, who rarely discuss sensitive issues with their Western counterparts. The latter are thus forced to gather information anecdotally, in private meetings with business leaders, cultural elites, and journalists -- hardly a sufficient sample of Iranian society.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Washington, Middle East
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: February 11, the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, is the most important official holiday in Iran. The public faces of the opposition Green Movement, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karrubi, have called for street demonstrations to mark the occasion. Meanwhile, government officials at every level have warned against such protests, threatening tough action against any participants. In this tense atmosphere, what are the prospects that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will agree to political compromise?
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Islam
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Jeffrey White, Loring White
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: What if Iran's hardline leadership emerges from the current confrontations at home strengthened and emboldened? If so, the nuclear issue will be back with a vengeance. And three recent war games focused on the Iranian nuclear weapons issue suggest that the prospects for halting the regime's progress toward nuclear weapons are not good.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, War
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Having raised Arab expectations months ago with the idea of a settlement freeze, the Obama administration now has the unpleasant task of coaxing Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas to tacitly accept an agreement on settlements that offers less than expected -- if more than was offered in the past. Therefore, it is uncertain whether the United States will succeed at arranging a trilateral summit involving President Barack Obama, President Abbas, and Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the UN next week that would culminate in the announcement of a formal relaunching of peace negotiations.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Nearly three months have passed since Iran's bloody crackdown on the mass protests over the controversial June 12 presidential election. The Obama administration, however, has yet to determine a strategy to support the first serious challenge to the regime since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Last week's statement by Iran's top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei -- that he saw no proof the British or the West were behind the protests -- should encourage the United States to pursue a more assertive approach to support Iranians working for change. Nevertheless, the State Department's Iran Democracy Fund -- currently the only tool available for promoting democracy in Iran -- has been extremely cautious in its funding decisions since President Barack Obama's inauguration.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Diplomacy, Islam, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iran
  • Author: David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: With rumors in the air of a U.S.-brokered, mid-September meeting between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, various regional actors are busy positioning themselves for the coming round of diplomacy. Analysis of these dynamics provides some useful perspective on the road ahead, beyond the usual focus on the minutiae of settlement construction, prisoner exchanges, or other immediate concerns.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Michael Knights, Ahmed Ali
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 17, Iraq's Council of Ministers approved a draft legislation that would require the ratification of the U.S.-Iraq Security Agreement, also known as the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), in a national referendum coinciding with the national elections on January 16, 2010. Out of the 275 Iraqi parliamentarians, a simple majority is needed to authorize the draft law when the National Assembly reconvenes on September 8, 2009. If a referendum takes place, and the Iraqis reject the security agreement, U.S. forces would be required to leave Iraq by January 16, 2011, instead of December 31, 2011. The referendum could also change the nature of the upcoming national elections, focusing attention on nationalistic posturing at the expense of the U.S.-Iraqi relationship, and distracting Iraqi politicians and voters from the many serious issues facing the country.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence, War, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: At its recently concluded General Congress, Fatah established a new political program that will affect both its terms of reengagement with Israel and its relations with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Fatah's new constraints on negotiations with Israel, however, may harm Mahmoud Abbas -- PA president and the party's top leader -- who needs to respond positively to international peace initiatives that may conflict with the organization's new rules of engagement. Abbas might ignore these congressional decisions, believing its program is intended only for internal consumption to fend off the accusations of the party's hardline members. Fatah's renewed efforts to reunite the West Bank and Gaza could lead to an escalation with Hamas, since many observers doubt unity can be achieved peacefully.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Terrorism, Power Politics, Political Power Sharing
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Matthew Levitt, Stephanie Papa
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In recent interviews, Hamas leader Khaled Mashal has offered to cooperate with U.S. efforts to promote a peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, indicated a willingness to implement an immediate and reciprocal ceasefire with Israel, and stated that the militant group would accept and respect a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. But the conciliatory tone of this hardline Hamas leader, who has personally been tied to acts of terrorism and is himself a U.S.-designated terrorist, is belied by the group's continued violent actions and radicalization on the ground, as well as the rise to prominence of violent extremist leaders within the group's local Shura (consultative) councils. Hamas's activities of late appear to be diametrically opposed to the compliance of Mashal's statements.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Two and a half months after U.S. president Barack Obama and Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu first hit an impasse over the settlement issue, the dispute has not only continued, it has also grown more complex. Saudi Arabia has now rebuffed requests from Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell to pursue confidence-building measures toward Israel, even in return for a moratorium on settlement construction. Although the Obama administration has not yet leveled any public criticism against Riyadh, it continues to be critical of Israeli settlements. To move diplomacy forward, Washington will have to engage in some creative policymaking.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies, Terrorism, Treaties and Agreements, Political Power Sharing
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 29, the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) issued the provisional results of last month's presidential and parliamentary elections in Iraqi Kurdistan. The election outcome -- the traditionally entrenched political bloc losing ground to a newly formed party -- has exposed an opening in the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). Consequently, the region has taken a step away from a fully "managed democracy" toward a more fluid and unpredictable political system.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Kurdistan
  • Author: Michael Singh
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A number of top U.S. national security officials are visiting Israel this week, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates and National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones, and Iran will surely be at the top of their agenda. With Iran making steady progress toward nuclear weapons capability and remaining silent on the U.S. offer to negotiate, and with the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran looming ever closer, U.S. officials' public message on the consequences for Iran should engagement fail will draw close scrutiny. Although the Obama administration appears to understand the need for serious consequences, its public messaging on this point has been uneven, blunting its effectiveness.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran
  • Author: Ehud Yaari
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Egypt has been scrambling to formulate a new policy toward the Gaza Strip this week after being challenged by Hamas, which opened more than eleven crossings along the Israeli-constructed wall that serves as the Egypt-Gaza border. Up to 750,000 Palestinians have flooded the northeastern corner of the Sinai Peninsula since January 23, spending approximately $130 million in local markets, while tens of thousands of Egyptians took advantage of the lack of immigration, customs, and security controls to cross into Gaza. This massive movement of people caught many by surprise and may have serious ramifications for Israel, Egypt, and the Palestinians.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza, Egypt
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt, Andrew Exum, Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 26, 2007, Jeffrey White, Andrew Exum, and Michael Eisenstadt addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Mr. White is the Institute's Berrie defense fellow and coauthor, with Mr. Eisenstadt, of the Institute Policy Focus Assessing Iraq's Sunni Arab Insurgency . Mr. Exum, a Soref fellow at the Institute, served in the U.S. Army from 2000 to 2004, with tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Mr. Eisenstadt is director of the Institute's Military and Security Studies Program. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: David Satterfield
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 27, 2007, Ambassador David Satterfield addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Ambassador Satterfield's public service career has included tours as ambassador to Lebanon as well as key Middle East affairs positions with both the State Department and the National Security Council. Formerly deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, he now coordinates Iraq policy at the State Department, serving as a senior advisor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad, Lebanon
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Israeli-Palestinian political landscape has been rather bleak over the last several years. Between 2000-2004, the second intifada brought almost unremitting terror and violence. Despite Israel's pullout from Gaza in the summer of 2005, the parliamentary victory of the rejectionist Hamas party in January 2006 contributed to this downward trend.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As recently as December, Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas refused to back a proposal for a unity government offered by Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member and head of the Independent Palestine list Mustafa Barghouti. That deal was based on the concept of a technocratic compromise under which Hamas officials would not have held the prime ministership or led any ministries. Yet under the terms of the February 8 Mecca accord, the current prime minister, Hamas's Ismail Haniyeh, will stay on as head of the next government, and the only portfolios Hamas members specifically will not hold are the finance, foreign affairs, and interior ministries, which will be headed by independents acceptable to both sides. The key question then is why Fatah settled for a unity agreement in February that provided it far less gains than previous unity proposals rejected by Abbas.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Gaza, Mecca
  • Author: Seth Wikas
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The first annual International Media Forum on the Golan Heights, held November 5-7, 2006, in the city of Quneitra on the Syria-Israel border, highlighted Syria's stated desire for the return of the entire Golan. The forum's backdrop was a litany of controversial statements made by Syrian president Bashar al-Asad about his next moves in relation to Israel.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On October 20, 2006, eighty-three-year-old King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia announced changes to the kingdom's “Basic Law”—effectively its constitution—that appear to formalize procedures for the selection of future kings. However, it is difficult to know how much the current system of succession will actually change. For the foreseeable future, it is most likely that the world's largest oil exporter and the center of the Islamic world will still be led by an octogenarian, with the probability that his successor will be of similar age, and perhaps even infirm.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Christopher Hamilton, Barak Ben-Zur
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As part of the international effort to ensure that the cessation of hostilities between Lebanon and Israel can become a sustainable ceasefire, much attention has been paid to blocking arms shipments to Hizballah, as called for in UN Security Council Resolution 1701. But another threat to peace in the region is Hizballah's potent terrorist wing. Arguably its most dangerous offensive weapon, Hizballah's terrorist wing was active throughout this recent conflict.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: David Makovsky, Dennis Ross, Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 25, 2006, Jeffrey White, David Makovsky, and Dennis Ross addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Jeffrey White is the Berrie Defense Fellow at The Washington Institute and the coauthor, with Michael Eisenstadt, of the Institute Policy Focus Assessing Iraq's Sunni Arab Insurgency. David Makovsky, senior fellow and director of The Washington Institute's Project on the Middle East Peace Process, is author of the Institute monograph Engagement through Disengagement: Gaza and the Potential for Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking. He, like Jeffrey White, recently returned from a trip to Israel. Dennis Ross, the Institute's counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow, is a former U.S. Middle East peace envoy and author of The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt, Emile El-Hokayem, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Daniel Christman
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 23, 2006, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Daniel Christman, Emile El-Hokayem, and Michael Eisenstadt addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. General Christman is senior vice president for international affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and previously served as assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Emile El-Hokayem is a Middle East analyst at the Henry L. Stimson Center. Michael Eisenstadt is director of The Washington Institute's Military and Security Studies Program. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Security, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington
  • Author: Cecile Zwiebach
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: While U.S. and coalition forces—and increasingly the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF)—struggle to defeat the Sunni insurgency in Iraq, they are also dealing with a range of armed groups that complicate the security scenario. Militias and ad hoc units with different levels of government sanction are growing in strength, and the training of the ISF is progressing unevenly. While it is not possible to conduct a comprehensive survey of both independent groups and ISF units, a sampling of less publicized units illustrates how diffuse military power in Iraq has become.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq
  • Author: Christopher Hamilton, Barak Ben-Zur
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Earlier this week, Israel began its long-anticipated ground offensive in Lebanon intended to degrade Hizballahs military apparatus, pacify Israels northern border with Lebanon, and lay the foundation for what is now frequently referred to as a sustainable ceasefire. Reaching a consensus on the precise meaning of the term sustainable will be a difficult prerequisite. But however such a ceasefire is defined beyond the presence of a robust international force, there is widespread agreement that it must include the participation of Syriaparticularly a commitment by Damascus to adhere to UN Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1680. So far, Syria has given no indication that it will agree to such a course, and, given the events of the past several weeks, it is difficult to imagine the circumstances under which Syrian president Bashar al-Asad might change his mind. That said, Israels new ground offensive in Lebanon represents a significant change in the status quo, one that may force Syria to reconsider.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The critical question of whether or not the current conflict in Lebanon will escalate to a broader regional war is being answered in two overly simple ways. One such analysis is that this is a “meltdown” with escalating violence and mounting pressures for further escalation. A second, equally simplistic view is that since no one has an interest in escalating to a regional conflict it will not happen. Both of these views do not account for the complex set of dynamics and the real possibility that accident and error can intervene.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On Wednesday, an international conference will open in Italy to discuss the state of Lebanon and explore potential formulas for an Israeli-Hizballah ceasefire. Current conditions make an immediate ceasefire unlikely, but should changing events make a ceasefire possible, one of the first priorities for the Bush administration and the international community will be to find a mechanism to reinvigorate and implement the remaining stipulations of UN Security Council Resolution 1559. In particular, that means disarming Hizballah. The group will no doubt oppose international and domestic efforts to disarm it, but the Lebanese government and the international community can take steps in the context of a ceasefire to consolidate Lebanese resentment toward Hizballah and press ahead with Resolution 1559.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Treaties and Agreements, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Hizballah has been deployed along the blue line, the internationally accepted border between Lebanon and Israel, since May 2000 when the Israeli army left southern Lebanon. Hizballah's fulltime strength is 500–600 well trained, combat experienced fighters, but in an emergency the organization can also call upon thousands of other fighters with elementary training. Training continues in the eastern Bekaa valley, although at a much reduced rate compared to the 1990s. At present, Hizballah uses Shebaa Farms to justify its military operations and continued weapons possession, a rationale based on the claim that the Shebaa Farms are Lebanese territory occupied by Israel, even as the United Nations considers this territory to be Syrian.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's pursuit of a referendum on the Palestinian National Accord has been widely interpreted by commentators and reporters as a power play designed to circumvent the Hamas-led government and force it to implicitly accept Israel's existence. But while the process of conducting a referendum -- the legality of which remains questionable -- would shift power away from the government and the legislature, the actual text of the document, which a group of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails negotiated, more closely resembles the political program of Hamas than that of Abbas. Moreover, Hamas has recovered from its initial surprise at the referendum initiative and has mounted an effective response, first by challenging the legality of a referendum, then by dragging Abbas into negotiations over the substance of the Accord. Despite a possible compromise that may emerge in coming days and shift the composition of the government or modify the language of the Accord, Hamas has used the internal Palestinian debate over a referendum to secure its internal legitimacy and advance many of its governing priorities.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi, Ben Fishman
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas's surprise May 25 announcement that he would call for a national referendum should Palestinian factions fail to reach agreement during their national dialogue was wrongly interpreted as a peace plan by many in the press. The document Abbas threatened to put to a popular vote is intended to quell the daily gun battles, kidnappings, and assassination attempts among rival armed groups in Gaza. However, since each party will interpret the document to affirm its own interests, the vague language on relations with Israel could be interpreted either as advocating a one-state solution that would eliminate prospects for peace or as recognizing a two-state solution. Abbas and Fatah may view the “national accord,” negotiated earlier in May among prominent prisoners in Israeli jails, as a means of forcing Hamas into a corner on negotiating with Israel, but the text of the document much more closely resembles Hamas's own political program. (Read an English translation of the national accord in PDF format).
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany consult today about what measures to take to influence Iran's decisions about its nuclear program, it is worth evaluating what impact outside pressure would have on President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad's administration and its ability to overcome internal political and economic challenges. International pressure has already increased tensions between different factions within the Islamic Republic and laid bare the contradictory aspects of the president's political and cultural management.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: Iran, Germany
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 7, Lebanese Druze leader and member of parliament Walid Jumblat told reporters in Cairo that Hizballah should disarm. These comments came just four days after Jumblat offered his assistance to the Syrian opposition in establishing "a democratic and free Syria." Jumblat has always been an enigmatic and unpredictable interlocutor, and his recent statements on Syria and Hizballah typify his disregard for the conventions of the Lebanese political establishment. While many Lebanese may quietly support Jumblat's truth telling, his statements are sure to increase his list of powerful enemies.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: John Vines
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 13, 2006, Lt. Gen. John Vines addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. General Vines served until January 2006 as commander of the Multinational Corps–Iraq (MNC–I). The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Washington, Middle East
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The February 24 attack by al-Qaeda on Saudi Arabia's giant oil processing facility at Abqaiq failed. At least two of the attackers were killed, along with two security guards. On February 27, Saudi authorities said they had killed another five terrorists linked to the Abqaiq attack in a clash in Riyadh, and they were interrogating a further suspect. The failure of the attack and the reported success of the subsequent counterterrorist operation give the impression of Saudi efficiency, but it should at least as much serve as a warning. The planned attack, targeting the world's largest oil exporter, should give impetus to President Bush's determination, declared in his January State of the Union address, to wean the United States off foreign oil.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Economics, Oil
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Emily Hunt
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On November 2, Iraq's Defense Ministry appealed to junior officers from Saddam Hussein's disbanded army to return to service. The decision to include these soldiers is part of an ongoing strategy to minimize support for terrorism by reintegrating Sunnis into the political fabric of the new Iraq. This latest effort comes as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group steps up targeting of Shiite civilians in an effort to spark retaliatory attacks against Sunnis. But as Zarqawi's attacks on Shiites exact growing toll among civilians, his tactics may be causing a divide within the ranks of the resistance.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 08-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Though armed insurgencies can last for a decade or more, they also can have decisive periods in which their paths are set, even if those paths do not become apparent for some time. Iraq appears to be entering just such a period of decision.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Daniel Zisenwine
  • Publication Date: 08-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The August 3 bloodless military coup in Mauritania that removed president Maaouiya Ould Taya from power took place in one of the world's most impoverished nations, situated on Africa's northwest coast between Arab North Africa and black sub-Saharan Africa. The coup had all the familiar trappings of an African military overthrow of a corrupt and detested civilian regime. Mauritania has supported the American-led war on terror and actively supports Washington's counterterrorist and training operations in the trans-Sahara region. It is also among only three Arab League members (along with Egypt and Jordan) that maintain full diplomatic relations with Israel. As Mauritania's new leaders seek to stabilize their authority, they are likely to come under considerable pressure from local opposition forces opposed to existing pro-American policies and its links with Israel.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Government, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Africa, Washington, North Africa
  • Author: Jeffrey White, Jack Keane, Francis West
  • Publication Date: 08-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Daily images of carnage from Iraq and uncertainty over how to measure coalition progress continue to stoke debate in the United States. How does one assess the status of the insurgency? How are the efforts to recruit and train Iraq's security forces proceeding? What are America's options in Iraq?
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Development
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Vietnam, Syria
  • Author: Mohammed Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Empowering Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas and fellow moderates at this critical time may be in the interest of everyone who favors a return to peace negotiations, but Abbas himself faces immense challenges to his authority that make him unlikely to be able to implement significant changes in the four months left before Palestinian legislative elections in January. The weakened position Abbas inherited included limited control over security forces, paralyzing rivalries within the Fatah movement that limit any support for difficult decisions, and an increasingly assertive Hamas that constantly flaunts its ability to act independently. None of these sources of Abbas's weakness is likely to change significantly in the coming months. And, despite Abbas's intentions to establish law and order and begin economic revitalization in Gaza as articulated in a speech delivered on September 13, the chaos exhibited along the border at Rafah and in the old Israeli settlements immediately after the Israeli withdrawal demonstrates just how difficult his task will be.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On September 12, the last departing Israeli forces closed the gates of Gaza behind them, followed by a salvo of Palestinian rockets aimed at southern Israel. In the unsettled aftermath of the Israeli disengagement from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank, only one camp seems clearly to know where it is heading -- the militant Palestinian Islamist groups, led by Hamas. These groups now profess their intention to continue their violent campaign in and from the West Bank. Their strategy, using armed and political capabilities, poses a serious challenge to both Palestinian and Israeli leaderships and may undermine prospects of improved Israeli-Palestinian relations.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israeli disengagement from Gaza and the northern West Bank settlements has left in its wake three important crises for the religious Zionist movement that spearheaded settlements in Israel. These crises involve the settlers' future relationships with the Israeli public, the Israeli state, and the political secular right. For settlers, these three relationships are now colored by a sense of betrayal, raising the question of whether disengagement will radicalize the ideological settlers.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza
  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's July 22-24 visit to the Israeli-Palestinian scene came amid critical domestic challenges to the Palestinian leadership against the backdrop of imminent Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank, scheduled to begin August 15. In an unprecedented step, Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas recently demonstrated the will to enforce his policy of nonviolence on Hamas and curb the group's efforts to become an alternative armed authority. Given his precarious vacillation between appeasement and enforcement, the international community should encourage Abbas to continue down the latter path and provide him with practical support toward that end.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza