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  • Author: Andrew J. Tabler
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In this new Transition 2017 paper, Institute expert Andrew J. Tabler argues that Syria remains de facto partitioned, making the establishment of safe zones in non-Assad-controlled areas the Trump administration's most expedient course of action. Moreover, it would further Washington's cause to drive a wedge into the country's Russia-Iran alliance, and both isolate and pressure the Assad regime. If Washington's objectives in Syria are to defeat U.S.-designated terrorist groups and stem the outflow of refugees, President Bashar al-Assad is under no circumstances the right person to entrust with these missions. Simply in practical terms, he lacks the manpower to retake and hold the two-thirds of Syrian territory outside his control any time soon, despite having sufficient support from Russia and Iran to maintain control in large parts of the country. But more important, Assad is an avowed adversary of the West, undeserving of its cooperation.
  • Topic: International Relations, Civil War, International Security, International Affairs, Neoimperialism
  • Political Geography: Russia, America, Iran, Syria
  • Author: Lori Plotkin Boghardt, Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Trump administration has an opportunity to reset, tighten, and maximize America's strategic relations with the Gulf states. For the United States, expanded security cooperation and coordination could be a force multiplier in campaigns to achieve key policy goals, such as countering Iran's destabilizing policies and defeating the Islamic State. Gulf leaders have expressed optimism over the new administration's gestures, despite its "America First" rhetoric. But the administration also faces challenges, including those brought about by its own emphasis on "radical Islamic terrorism." This two-part Transition 2017 paper, featuring contributions by Gulf experts Lori Plotkin Boghardt and Simon Henderson, navigates the complex U.S.-Gulf relationship. The first essay provides an overview of its basic tenets, stressing the importance of rapport to bilateral ties and discussing key policy priorities. The second essay narrows the focus to the Washington-Riyadh link, the most important U.S. tie with the conservative Gulf. It analyzes differences in viewpoint, policy options, and some anticipated Saudi responses on the core issues of oil, terrorism, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Gulf allies, and the Sunni bloc.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Cooperation, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East
  • Author: David Pollock, Marc Lynch
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Public opinion polls and the media tell us that Arabs disliked the George W. Bush administration and have high hopes for President Barack Obama. Indeed, the new administration enjoyed majority Arab approval ratings throughout 2009 (up to 50 percentage points higher than his predecessor), while the overall U.S. image in Arab countries also recovered significantly. Yet the question remains: what is the record of actual Arab behavior toward the United States? This question was the starting point of the forthcoming study, which presents a new model for understanding U.S.-Arab relations since the Clinton administration -- one that emphasizes actions much more than attitudes.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Arabia
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Last week in Beirut, the United Nations Special Tribunal charged with investigating and prosecuting the killers of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri brought six members of Hizballah in for questioning. The tribunal's decision to interview Hizballah in connection with the 2005 murder appears to confirm a 2009 report in Der Speigel -- corroborated more recently by Le Monde -- implicating the Shiite militia in the conspiracy. A shift in the short-term focus of the investigation from Syria to Hizballah will have a profound impact on domestic politics in Lebanon, and potentially on U.S.-Lebanese relations.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Law, Terrorism, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Lebanon
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In less than forty-eight hours, U.S.-Israel relations went from "unbreakable," according to Vice President Joe Biden, to "perilous," as ascribed to an "unnamed senior U.S. official." This drastic mood swing risks overshadowing the great achievement of the vice president's Middle East trip -- the affirmation for Israelis (as well as those Arabs and Iranians following his words) that the Obama administration is "determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons."
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Tal Becker, Hussein Ibish
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A great deal of misinformation and disinformation surrounds Israel's desire to be recognized as a Jewish state. In practice, the concept refers to acknowledgment of the Jewish people's right to self-determination in the land of Israel, also known as Zionism. The land does not necessarily encompass what many call "Greater Israel," which includes the West Bank, or deny the right to self-determination of neighboring Palestinians, who deserve a state of their own. The issue of Israel's recognition as a Jewish state has grown in prominence in the last year as Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has made it a point of emphasis.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Allis Radosh, Ronald Radosh
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: When Harry Truman became president in April 1945, he had not thought deeply about the exact form a Jewish national home in historic Palestine would or should take. Following his landmark decision to recognize the state of Israel in May 1948, he would suggest that his support for such a development had been unwavering, and that his decisions had come easily. Yet the record shows otherwise. Between Truman's first days as president and Israel's formation, his approach to the idea of a Jewish state evolved significantly, at times seeming to change in response to the last person with whom he met. Although he ultimately made the historic decision, a Jewish state had never been, in his mind, a foregone conclusion.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, New York, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: U.S. special envoy for Middle East peace George Mitchell is currently in Jerusalem amid wide expectation that on Saturday the Palestinians will approve proximity talks with Israel. For its part, Israel has already agreed to the talks.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: When Congress returns from its summer recess after Labor Day, the Department of Defense will provide informal notification of the U.S. intention to sell up to $60 billion in military equipment to Saudi Arabia. The likely deal is part of a U.S. commitment predating the Obama administration to strengthen regional allies in the face of a growing threat from Iran. For the Saudis, the transaction represents a clear return to considering the United States as its principal arms supplier, a position the Americans risked losing to France as recently as 2006.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, International Security
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Ash Jain
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Four years ago this week, Israel launched a military campaign in Lebanon in retaliation for a brazen Hizballah attack on its soldiers. The goal, according to an Israeli official, was "to put Hizballah out of business." But neither war nor subsequent U.S. diplomatic efforts aimed at weakening the group have succeeded, and some in the Obama administration now appear to view direct engagement as an option worth exploring. Reaching out to Hizballah, however, at a time when it is politically and military emboldened, would be an exercise in futility that could prove counterproductive.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi, David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Israeli military campaign in Gaza has exacerbated the already strained relationship between Hamas and Egypt, and threatens to further undermine their ties. Under increasing stress from Israeli air operations over the past week, Hamas has been pressing Egypt to open the Rafah Crossing to provide sanctuary to ordinary Gazans and the organization's targeted leadership. Instead of helping Hamas, however, Cairo -- which views its own Islamists with increasing concern -- seems more interested in weakening the organization. Although the relationship appears poised for a breakdown, Hamas, with only Israel and Egypt on its borders, will continue to depend heavily on Cairo if it hopes to remain in power in Gaza.
  • Topic: International Relations, Insurgency, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Israel, Gaza, Egypt
  • Author: Patrick Clawson, Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: While the United States is concentrating on the G-20 summit and the October 1 meeting with the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Iranian attention has been focused on the potentially destabilizing protests planned for September 18, Quds Day. This critical difference of agenda -- with Iran focused more on its domestic turmoil than on simmering international issues -- will be a major complicating factor in negotiations between the international community and Iran in the coming weeks.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, International Cooperation, Islam, Nuclear Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran
  • Author: Michael Singh
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: With Iran's September 14 acceptance of a meeting with the P5+1 countries on October 1, the Obama administration finally appears poised to engage in direct talks with Iran. In entering these talks, Washington faces two obstacles: first, Iran's reputation for recalcitrance in negotiations and its stated refusal to discuss the nuclear issue, upon which American concerns center; and second, the perception that the administration is lending legitimacy to a regime fresh from violent repression of its political opponents.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Washington, Middle East
  • Author: Farah Pandith
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The United States currently has an exceptional opportunity to create a new framework for engaging Muslim communities worldwide. As the new administration aims to counter the narratives of the past and break down existing stereotypes, President Barack Obama has set a tone of innovation and engagement based on "mutual interest and mutual respect." This fresh approach inspired Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to establish the Office of the Special Representative to Muslim Communities (OSRMC).
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, Arabia
  • Author: David Makovsky, Shimon Peres
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Can Israel live with an Iranian nuclear bomb? If the Iranians continue to do three things simultaneously -- namely, develop nuclear weapons, be a center of terror, and be fanatical in their ambition to run the entire Middle East -- eventually the three will mix and nuclear bombs may fall into the irresponsible hands of terrorists. Then it will be a problem for the rest of the world. The world cannot live with terrorists obtaining nuclear capacity, and sooner or later the world will take action. However, I do not believe that Israel has to be a volunteer or pioneer in that endeavor.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi, Wafa' Abdel Rahman, Owen Kirby
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Democratic development in the Palestinian Authority (PA) is at the top of the Bush administration's priorities. While the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections of January 2006 were democratic, democratic elections by themselves do not constitute a democratic system. The current situation in the West Bank and Gaza cannot be called democratic by international norms. Respect for the rule of law and human rights and observation of individual rights and freedoms do not currently prevail in the PA.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Michael Jacobsen
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Media headlines following the April 30 release of the State Department's annual report on global terrorism developments, Country Reports on Terrorism 2006, focused on the theme of increased terrorism. But the335-page document, along with its accompanying statistical assessment produced by the National Counter terrorism Center (NCTC), also contained important insights into the U.S. administration's evolving strategy to counter the terrorist threat.
  • Topic: International Relations, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, Yuksel Sezgin
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 20, thousands of secular Turks demonstrated in the Black Sea port city of Samsun against the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has an Islamist pedigree. It was the most recent display of protest in a power struggle between the AKP and its opponents over determining a replacement for outgoing president Ahmet Necdet Sezer. In addition to the protestors and Sezer, the courts and the Turkish military have weighed in against the AKP. Far from backing down, as Turkey's Islamists would have done in the past, the AKP has stepped up the pressure by introducing a constitutional amendment package that calls for direct presidential elections to replace the current system of voting in parliament. President Sezer could decide the fate of this package, but the political crisis will continue.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Despite the public bluster of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the regime's behavior shows that it suffers from deep self-doubt. The arrests of visiting Iranian-born U.S. scholars Haleh Esfandiari (director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson Center) and Kian Tajbakhsh (a consultant for philanthropist George Soros's Open Society Institute programs) reflect Tehran's fear that political change could be easily sparked. A May 22 ABC News report that President Bush has authorized a covert CIA program against the regime will only add to Iran's suspicions.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The May 28 meeting between the U.S. and Iranian ambassadors to Iraq was mostly notable for its length -- four hours -- and the lack of anything to show for all that time together. And the very next day, Iran announced that three detained Iranian Americans visiting their homeland, including renowned scholar and women's rights advocate Haleh Esfandiari, were being formally charged with espionage -- charges that would be merely laughable if they were not so tragic.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Barry Rubin, Theodore Kattouf
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 30, 2007, Barry Rubin and Theodore Kattouf addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Professor Rubin, a visiting fellow at the Institute, is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA), and author of the just-released book The Truth about Syria (Palgrave). Mr. Kattouf, a former U.S. ambassador to Syria and the United Arab Emirates, is president and CEO of AMIDEAST, a nonprofit group dedicated to enhancing educational links between the United States and the Middle East. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, International Relations, Development
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Syria
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Vice President Dick Cheney departed today on a trip to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan. A bland statement issued from his office on May 3 said he was asked to travel by President Bush and would be having "discussions with the leaders of these countries on key issues of mutual interest." No details were offered of the subjects of these discussions, but vice presidents do not travel halfway around the world unless there is important business to conduct.
  • Topic: International Relations, Nuclear Weapons, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Jake Lipton
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 14, suicide bombers unsuccessfully targeted the U.S. consulate and an American cultural center in Casablanca, four days after another group of bombers blew themselves up in a confrontation with city police. On April 11, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (formerly the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, or GSPC) claimed responsibility for two suicide car bombings in Algiers, one targeting the prime minister's office and the other a police station. No group has claimed responsibility for the Moroccan incidents, but together with the Algerian attacks -- which killed 33 and wounded up to 330 -- they indicate that both northwestern Africa and the United States face an acute threat from established regional militant groups allied with international terrorist networks.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: North Africa
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: At an April 3 news conference in Tehran, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad unexpectedly announced the decision to release fifteen captured British marines and sailors. In a theatrical gesture that included assailing Western policy in the Middle East and accusing the British crew of entering Iranian waters, he pardoned the detainees to mark both the Prophet Muhammad's birthday on March 30 and what he reportedly called "Christian Passover." (In Farsi, "Pesah" means Passover and "Fash" means Easter. According to the Islamic Republic News Agency report of his remarks, the president used Pesah instead of Fash.)
  • Topic: International Relations, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The State Department's International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, released on March 1, offers a little-noted reference to a dubious claim: an Iranian government statement (made to the UN) that Tehran has established a Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). The report notes that Iran has provided no further details. Even if the Iranian claim were true, the creation of an FIU would do little to combat terrorism financing in the nation, given Tehran's official support for terrorist groups. In other countries, FIUs are an important element of effective counterterrorism policy -- though the record of key Middle Eastern nations is somewhat mixed in this regard.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Simon Henderson, David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 28, the Arab League will convene the annual summit of its twenty-two member states in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Despite a record of disunity and inconclusiveness, this annual meeting of Arab leaders remains the subject of intense interest in the region. Rising Sunni-Shiite tensions, talk of a peace opening with Israel, and developments in Iraq, the Palestinian Authority (PA), and Lebanon have generated more attention for this year's summit than usual.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Palestine, Arabia, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Riyadh
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 23, at 10:30 a.m. local Iraqi time, fifteen British naval personnel were seized by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the northern Persian Gulf. The British personnel -- eight from the Royal Navy and seven from the Royal Marines -- were in two light craft returning to the frigate HMS Cornwall after successfully inspecting a merchant ship for goods being smuggled into Iraq. Iran has accused the personnel, who include one woman, of illegally entering Iranian territorial waters, and has threatened to put them on trial. The incident is a diplomatic and military embarrassment to Britain. Meanwhile, fears of escalation in the Gulf have contributed to a global surge in oil prices.
  • Topic: International Relations, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Britain, Iraq, United Kingdom, Europe, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Andrew Exum, Zack Snyder
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On December 26, 2006, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak proposed a package of amendments to the Egyptian constitution with the purported aim of introducing more democratic freedom into Egypt's sclerotic political system. In effect, however, these "reforms" will serve only to strengthen the ruling party's stranglehold on Egyptian politics and send Egypt farther down the road toward authoritarian rule. On Monday, March 26, after minimal public debate, the Egyptian populace will vote on this package of amendments through referendum. Opposition groups are expected to boycott the vote.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization
  • Political Geography: United States, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Seth Wikas
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the coming weeks, Syria will participate in two important regional conferences. On March 10, it will join Iraq's other neighbors and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council in Baghdad. On March 28-29, it will participate in the Arab League summit in Riyadh. Syria's detractors continue to criticize Damascus for failing to seal the border with Iraq and for meddling in Lebanese internal affairs in violation of UN Security Resolution 1701. Of equal importance is the downturn in Syria's relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran. Last week's Saudi-Iranian summit has Damascus worried about its role in Lebanon and the possibility of an international tribunal on the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, a crime for which Syria is widely believed to be responsible. Will the upcoming conferences give Syria a chance to improve its regional standing, or will its isolation continue?
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Baghdad, Arabia, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 20, the Lebanese cabinet—with a Hizballah-led opposition boycott—extended the term of the UN commission investigating the February 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri. While the commission's work can now continue for as long as one more year, any future decision about organizing an international tribunal to try those indicted for the murder remains hostage to a vote—requiring the opposition's assent—in the paralyzed Lebanese parliament. Meanwhile, Hizballah continues to press its demand for increased political power within a “national unity” government, threatening civil disobedience should its demands not be met.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Arabia, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Selahattin Ibas
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, led all countries to assess the threat of terrorism and generate new perspectives on countering it. This is necessarily a global effort. Even when terrorist activity is executed in a single country, the preparatory training, planning, directing, financing, and logistical support are conducted in several.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 20, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Jihad al-Bina, Hizballah's construction company in Lebanon, effectively shutting the terrorist group's firm out of the international financial system. While the designation will not take effect at the United Nations -- sanctions under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 only target elements associated with al-Qaeda or the Taliban, to the exclusion of any other terrorist groups -- international lenders and donors, including financial institutions, NGOs, and governments, are unlikely to want to assume the reputational risk of working to rebuild Lebanon in partnership with Hizballah instead of the Lebanese government. Moreover -- and contrary to conventional wisdom -- the designation presents a rare public diplomacy opportunity in the battle of ideas in the war on terror.
  • Topic: International Relations, Peace Studies, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Taliban, Lebanon
  • 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: Selahattin Iban
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The general view held by Middle Eastern nations is that political sensitivities make it impossible for regional or neighboring countries to perform peacekeeping in the area. However, the example set by the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) in the past twelve years points to the fallacy of this view.
  • Topic: International Relations, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Fatah-Hamas unity agreement reached in Mecca last week has powerful implications for all regional players. The most serious challenge it poses is to U.S. diplomacy.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Mecca
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: One year after Hamas\'s sweeping electoral victory, Palestinian politics is not only locked in a dysfunctional stalemate, but also marred by increasingly deadly factional violence in Gaza. Since a roadside bomb exploded on January 25—targeting a vehicle carrying members of Hamas\'s Executive Force—more than thirty-two people have been killed, seventy-five injured, and dozens kidnapped in the deadliest wave of fighting between Hamas and Fatah to date. Despite a truce that was supposed to have gone into effect this morning, fighting persists in Gaza.
  • Topic: International Relations, Civil Society, Development
  • Political Geography: Gaza
  • Author: David Schenker, Andrew Exum
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Violent clashes in Beirut on January 25 between students of rival political parties have overshadowed the promising news that Lebanon received pledges of $7.6 billion at the Paris III donor conference on Lebanons economy. The violence, which was largely along sectarian lines, was the latest in a series of escalating political/religious confrontations. This troubling trend raises the specter that Lebanon may once again be sliding toward civil war.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, International Relations
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On January 25, Lebanon will participate in Paris III, the third international donor conference for Lebanon convened by French president Jacques Chirac since February 2001. The top agenda items are grants and soft loans for Lebanon and the economic reform plan of Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora. For Siniora and his "March 14" ruling coalition, the success of the conference -- i.e., international commitments to provide billions to Lebanon -- is exceedingly important, as the government is coming under increasing pressure from the Hizballah-led opposition. Indeed, this week, the opposition upped the ante in its continuing effort to topple the Siniora government, closing key Lebanese arteries, including the highways into Beirut and the airport road. If Paris III is broadly perceived as "successful," it will strengthen Siniora and demonstrate that the March 14 coalition can govern and advance key Lebanese interests without Hizballah participation in government. Should international donors not prove particularly generous, the momentum will shift toward the opposition.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, France
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As international pressure on the Iranian government toughens, the Iranian regime is facing more fragmentation at home. In an unprecedented action against a sitting president, 150 of the 290 members of the Iranian Majlis (parliament) signed a letter blaming President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad for raging inflation and high unemployment, and criticizing his travel to Latin America at a time when he has not sent the Majlis a draft budget for the fiscal year that starts March 21. Under Iranian law, this letter constitutes the first step required if the Majlis wants to remove the president from office.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Latin America
  • Author: Martin Walker, Joe Klein
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: President George W. Bush's plan of a troop surge coupled with counterinsurgency tactics comes too late for Iraq. Securing Baghdad is a precondition for establishing a secure Iraq. The success of U.S. counterinsurgency tactics is contingent upon a functional central government. The resources that will be devoted to securing Baghdad could be best employed in Afghanistan. Currently, the Iraqi government is a fig leaf for Shiite militias and it is doubtful that Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki's government will wage war on Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Andrew Exum
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the context of debate surrounding U.S. military strategy in Iraq, Prussian military philosopher Carl von Clausewitz offers this classic directive: it is essential to understand the nature of the war you are fighting. To this end, the U.S. military in Iraq no longer faces a traditional insurgency conflict -- as those the French fought in Algeria or the United States fought in Vietnam -- in which one faction seeks to undermine and supplant the national government. Instead, the strategic landscape of Iraq today bears far more resemblance to the Lebanese civil war of the 1970s and 1980s, in which various sectarian militias battled each other for control of specific parts of the country. The Iraq war has indeed become a militia war.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Vietnam, Algeria
  • 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: Christopher Hamilton, Dvorah Chen
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israel's summer war with Hizballah has again raised legal questions about the imprisonment of terrorists in Israel. From its founding, the state of Israel has been forced to confront belligerent activities by hostile states and organizations seeking to destroy it. The struggle against Palestinian terrorism has taken an enormous toll over the course of the second intifada, during which time more than one thousand Israelis have been killed and thousands more wounded. Enemy combatants are imprisoned in order to prevent them from causing further destruction. Therefore, terrorist detentions play a central role in the struggle to prevent terrorist activities, and the legal issues surrounding these detentions pose crucial concerns for the entire international community. There are two major processes for the prosecution of terrorist detainees in Israel: (1) through the normal civilian criminal track based on penal legislation, and (2) through special administrative measures under the minister of defense.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Ehud Yaari
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The governments on both of our “hot” fronts, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority, are on the verge of change, with practical, immediate implications for Israel—and unfortunately, not positive ones. Rather, the storm clouds continue to gather on the strategic horizon.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Government, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza
  • Author: Robert Gates
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 24, 2004, Gates was interviewed by Bernard Gwertzman of the Council on Foreign Relations: Gwetzmann: “Do you have any predictions as to how Iraq is going to turn out?” Gates: “No. We have the old line in the intelligence business that everything we want to know is divided into two categories: secrets and mysteries.” Gwertzman: “And Iraq is which?” Gates: “Iraq is very much the latter.”
  • Topic: International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Robert Satloff, Akbar Ahmed, Gregg Rickman
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Of all the forms of anti-Semitism in Arab societies, Holocaust denial is one of the most pernicious and widespread. Generally it takes one of three forms: outright denial, Holocaust glorification, and Holocaust minimization or trivialization. One does no favor to Arabs by exempting them from this history, whatever its connection to their political dispute with Israel. And because jihadists' conspiracy theories target a coalition of “Crusaders and Jews,” exempting Arabs from Holocaust history certainly does America no favor either.
  • Topic: International Relations, Genocide, Religion
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, America, Israel
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On September 1, 2006, Gen. Yasar Buyukanit became Turkey's new chief of staff. Compared with his predecessor, Gen. Hilmi Ozkok, who came into office about the same time as the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, General Buyukanit is a more vocal personality on many issues, including secularism. As Turkey prepares for the April 2007 election of a new president by parliament, General Buyukanit's term marks a new, crucial era in military-civilian relations in Turkey. What are the dynamics of this new era, and what implications does it have for U.S. policy?
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey
  • Author: Ben Fishman, Mohammed Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Since the breakdown in talks over the formation of a unity government in mid-September, the Palestinian political environment has become more dangerous and dysfunctional. Paralyzed by ongoing international economic and political isolation, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has essentially ceased to function as tens of thousands of public sector employees continue to strike in protest against unpaid salaries. Factional violence assumed a new level of intensity on October 1 when the Hamas interior minister, Sayed Siam, ordered Hamas's security force to break up demonstrations by the mainstream Fatah-dominated security services, who were protesting after not receiving salary payments. The resulting gun battles left twelve people dead and dozens injured. Fatah loyalists responded to the incident in Gaza by targeting Hamas interests in the West Bank, burning offices, kidnapping officials, and threatening to assassinate Hamas leaders.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Economics, Environment, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On September 20, amid reports of al-Qaeda plots against local American targets, the people of the strategically important but impoverished Arabian Peninsula state of Yemen go to the polls to elect a president. The president will not be new -- the incumbent Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power for twenty-eight years, is expected to be reelected. Apart from last-minute doubts about the poll caused by the security crisis, the main question is how sweeping his victory will be. The last time elections were held, in 1999, President Saleh polled 96 percent, including the vote of his only opponent, a member of his own political party who said he considered Saleh more worthy. This time the field includes four other candidates. Saleh's main rival is Faysal bin Shamlan, a former oil minister who is backed by an alliance of opposition parties and whom Saleh has linked to an arrested "major terrorist."
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: America, Yemen
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Lebanon has secured pledges for assistance roughly equal to its $3.6 billion estimate of what is required to rebuild from the recent war. Though foreign assistance will be an important element in the short-term physical reconstruction, it will do little to help Beirut contend with the longstanding structural maladies afflicting the economy—particularly $40 billion in government debt. Lebanon also faces the challenge of how to reinforce central government authority in the face of Hizballah's efficient reconstruction efforts.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon