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  • Author: Ahmad Khalid Majidyar
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: For decades the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been America's indispensable ally in the Middle East, and the ­Kingdom's stability remains vital for US strategic interests in the region. While antigovernment protests in the Kingdom's Sunni-majority regions have been small and sporadic in the wake of Arab Spring, there has been an unremitting unrest in the strategic Eastern Province, home to Saudi Arabia's marginalized Shi'ite minority and major oil fields. As in the 1980s, if government repression and discrimination push the Shi'ites to extremes, some may resort to violence and terrorism, jeopardizing American interests in the region, benefitting Iran and ­al-Qaeda, disrupting the equilibrium of global oil markets, and adversely affecting economic recovery in the West. To ensure lasting stability in the Kingdom, the United States must work with the Saudi government to achieve gradual but meaningful reforms that include integrating the Shi'ites into the Kingdom's sociopolitical system.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Islam, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Kuwait is perhaps America's closest Arab ally; it remains the only country in the Middle East on whose behalf the United States went to war. Although the Islamic Republic of Iran has at times tried to leverage Kuwait's large Shi'ite minority against the Kuwaiti state, it has mostly been unsuccessful. Indeed, Kuwait's Shi'ite ­community has repeatedly worked to prove its loyalty to Kuwait. Recent political instability, however, is again opening the door for sectarian forces to undermine Kuwait and, by extension, an important pillar of US defense strategy.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Defense Policy, Islam, Bilateral Relations, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Dr. Cengi Günay
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: The “January 25 Revolution” was not a classic revolution. President Mubarak's fall did not entail the overthrow of the regime, neither alter the elites or destroy their institutions, nor reverse the social situation. Although power structures and economic patterns were not removed, Mubarak's fall set an end to exclusive authoritarian despotism and initiated a process of power sharing; a so called passive revolution characterised by the absorption of the “enemies' elites” into the system. From this perspective, legalisation has been only a further step in the Islamists' long and rocky road of integration through moderation. Initially based on tactical considerations, shifts in methods and behaviour usually also evoke a shift in emphasis from ideological conceptions to political pragmatism. The absorption of the Islamist elites supported a process of embourgeoisement and de-­â€ ideologization. This did not entail a departure from Islamic tenets, but rather from ideological conceptions which seemed more and more unrealistic in a globalized world. The integration of de-­â€radicalised and moderated socially conservative Islamist groups with market economy and parliamentary democracy promises not only the prevention of political and economic turmoil, but also guarantees the reinforcement of the existing patterns of domination.
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Africa, Arabia
  • Author: Aitemad Muhanna
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: Women's participation in the Arab uprisings has been inspired by the expansion of an Islamist-based model of Arab women's activism and a gradual shrinking of secular liberal women's activism. The uprisings have provided outcomes that prove the possibility of combining Islam with democracy through the political success of Islamist parties in the post-uprisings era, like in Tunisia and Egypt. Although this new de facto political map of the region has largely frightened liberal women, the victory of moderate Islamist voices may also be promising, especially when they are in a position to provide a state governance model. The determining factor in combining Islam with democracy is the willingness of the two major players – Islamist parties and the international community – to ensure that the main debatable issues – religion, gender and human rights – are not discriminated against in the name of either religion or Western democracy. However, the actual practice and outcomes of moderate Islamist discourse remains under experimentation, and it is a space for Islamist and secular women's and human rights organisations to co-operate, monitor, negotiate and strategise, to ensure that gender issues are engaged in policy discussions and formulations as a substantial issue for real democratisation.
  • Topic: Democratization, Gender Issues, Islam
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Jad Chaaban
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: The Middle East and North African region is currently faced with one of the toughest socioeconomic challenges in its modern history: a "youth bulge" of almost 100 million young people, of which a quarter are unemployed. Between 40 and 50 million new jobs need to be created in the region's countries over the next decade, and this implies that governments in the region should embark on a labour-intensive and job-creating growth trajectory. Special attention should be given to reducing the unemployment and emigration of skilled youth, and to integrating young women into the labour market. Policies that tackle the institutional and structural impediments to meaningful job creation should be pursued, together with public interventions in social protection and housing programmes that would reduce youth's social exclusion in the region.
  • Topic: Demographics, Gender Issues, Islam, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Marleen Nolten
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: The 25th of January 2011 uprising in Egypt called for freedom, dignity and social justice. The uprising was full of opportunities and challenges for Egyptian men and women who have been deprived of their political, social and economic rights. Hence, the revolution has given women a sense of freedom and empowerment, and seemed like a perfect opportunity to claim their rights. However, while many groups, including women, overcame their fear to speak out against violations of their basic rights, the changed power relations threatened to ignore women's rights or even reverse gains that were won in the past. Oxfam partners in Egypt have increased their efforts during the last year to collectively formulate priority demands on women's rights and bring these demands to the forefront.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Human Rights, Islam, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: "Seldom in the history of the Middle East and North Africa have so many changes taken place so dramatically, so quickly, and at the same time." This observation, made by a participant at the International Peace Institute's 2012 Vienna Seminar, helps explain the world's current focus on the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East. The purpose of the forty-second annual Vienna Seminar was to make sense of these changes and see what steps can be taken to encourage the positive trends, and to promote peace and security in the region.
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Regime Change, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Yemen, Arabia, North Africa, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Vienna
  • Author: Martin Hartberg
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: The ceasefire agreed between the Government of Israel and Hamas on 21 November 2012, following the recent military escalation in Gaza and southern Israel, provides an unprecedented opportunity to end the cycle of violence that has affected too many innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians. In the ceasefire understanding, the parties agreed to negotiate 'opening the crossings' into the Gaza Strip and to put an end to 'restricting residents' free movement and targeting residents in border areas'. It is therefore also a unique chance to once and for all lift the Israeli blockade on Gaza, which has had a devastating impact on the lives and well-being of Gaza's civilian population and on Palestinian development.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence, Islam, War, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Gaza
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Human Rights First
  • Abstract: The U.S. government has made a firm commitment to support peaceful democratic change in Egypt. The challenge now is how to fulfill that commitment while at the same time pursuing U.S. national security and economic objectives. In the long term these objectives are mutually consistent and re inforcing. But in the short term the challenge is to craft policies that lay the foundation for building strong democratic state institutions in Egypt and supporting those in civil society who are committed to working toward that objective, while at the same time dealing with the formidable economic challenges now facing Egypt as well as the local and regional security issues in which the government of Egypt has a key role to play. President Mohamed Morsi's November 23 decree and the various reactions to it, have underscored both the scope of these challenges and the critical need for the U.S. government to respond well.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Economics, Human Rights, Islam, Regime Change, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Arabia, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Clint Watts
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Al Qaeda today only slightly resembles the al Qaeda of yesteryear. Al Qaeda operatives or "al Qaeda-like" organizations stretch throughout North Africa, across the Middle East and into South Asia. This disparate string of organizations hosts a handful of al Qaeda's original Afghanistan and Pakistan veterans but mostly consist of newcomers inspired by al Qaeda's message -- disenfranchised young men seeking an adventurous fight in the wake of a tumultuous Arab Spring. Al Qaeda, or more appropriately jihadism pursued under al Qaeda's banner, has morphed in several waves over the course of more than two decades.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Defense Policy, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Canada, Arabia