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  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: While there is understandable concern that an unknown percentage of foreign fighters fighting for the so-called Islamic State (IS) might return to their home countries intent on continuing the fight, IS appears intent on using them in suicide attacks in both Iraq and Syria IS goes to great length to publicize the foreign fighters who die in suicide attacks, which greatly enhances the group in the eyes of unstable people looking for martyrdom, creating a feedback loop of death A recent statement by IS showed that 80% of the suicide attacks in Iraq between September and early October were committed by foreign fighters; this continues a trend of IS using their foreign fighters in suicide attacks while Iraqi fighters take on the role of traditional soldiers Along with Saudi nationals, who conducted 60% of the suicide attacks referenced above, fighters from North Africa consistently feature prominently in IS suicide attacks, which closely matches the suicide bombing statistics from the 2003 Iraq war, though now there are more suicide operatives from western Europe
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Danya Greenfield, Barbara K. Bodine
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: With the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and the explosion of violent conflicts from Tripoli to Gaza, the Middle East is looking more unstable and unpredictable than ever. While the focus in Washington is centered on jihadist extremists in Iraq and Syria at present, the threat from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) against the United States continues. Top al-Qaeda leadership in Yemen is hailing the territorial gains of ISIS in Iraq, and some al-Qaeda operatives are imitating ISIS' techniques such as public slaughters of those deemed infidels, prompting fears of cooperation between two of the most active Islamist militant networks. Recent aggression by the Houthi movement, a Zaydi Shia rebel militia, against state institutions and tribal opponents has opened a new front of instability and security vacuum that AQAP is all too ready to exploit. Inattention to the interconnected nature of tribal conflict, terrorist activity, poor governance, economic grievances and citizen discontent is proving to be a dangerous combination for both Yemen and the United States. The Yemeni context may seem far from the current focus on Baghdad and Damascus, but getting the US strategy right in Yemen will have consequences for regional stability and core US interests throughout the Arabian Peninsula and beyond.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Economics, Terrorism, Foreign Aid, Labor Issues, Reform
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Bassem Bouguerra
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The December 2010 self-immolation of twenty-six-year-old itinerant fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi sparked popular protests in Tunisia that rippled throughout the Arab world. Like so many of Tunisia's youth, Bouazizi felt disenfranchised by the Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali regime. For over twenty-three years, a corrupt security apparatus allowed Ben Ali to rule the country with an iron fist. The public avoided criticizing the regime or even mentioning Ben Ali's name for fear of reprisal. During the Tunisian revolution, protesters demonstrated their anger at the security institutions that perpetuated the regime's hold on power by attacking police stations. With the fall of the regime, Tunisians began to publicly voice their opinions on previously forbidden issues such as politics, corruption, and police abuse.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Reform
  • Political Geography: Arabia, Tunisia
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Depuis le soulèvement populaire de décembre-janvier 2010-2011, la Tunisie surmonte avec succès ses crises politiques, mais le pays semble moins disposé à absorber le choc d'attaques jihadistes plus importantes. Malgré le dialogue national qui a fortement réduit les tensions et a fait débuter l'année 2014 sur une touche optimiste, l'inquiétude grandit de nouveau. Cette appréhension peut s'expliquer par la montée des violences à la frontière algérienne, le chaos libyen et l'avancée de l'islamisme radical au Moyen-Orient, mais également par le discours antiterroriste ambiant. Caisse de résonnance des conflits qui agitent la région, le pays a besoin d'aborder la question terroriste de manière sereine et dépolitisée, malgré les enjeuxinternationaux. La lutte contre le terrorisme et la lutte contre le crime organisé sont indissociables. Le gouvernement gagnerait ainsi à accompagner ses mesures sécuritaires par des mesures économiques et sociales destinées à ramener les populations frontalières dans le giron de l'Etat.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Arabia
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Le duel qui oppose le président sortant Moncef Marzouki à l'ancien chef de gouvernement Béji Caïd Essebsi dans le cadre du second tour de la présidentielle, prévu le 21 décembre 2014, révèle les lignes de fracture de la société tunisienne que les élites politiques croyaient avoir résorbées grâce à leur sens du consensus et du compromis. La cartographie électorale des législatives et du premier tour montre une Tunisie divisée entre un Nord en grande partie pro-Essebsi et son parti Nida Tounes, et un Sud majoritairement pro-Marzouki et favorable au parti islamiste An-Nahda. Afin d'éviter que les craintes réciproques finissent par conduire à des violences, le vainqueur de ce premier scrutin présidentiel libre et concurrentiel devra d'abord reconnaitre les inquiétudes de l'électorat du vaincu. Pouvoir exécutif et législatif devront s'engager de concert à traiter la question du déséquilibre régional et prévenir les risques de blocage institutionnel ou de répression des oppositions.
  • Topic: Democratization
  • Political Geography: Arabia
  • Author: Karen E. Young
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The conservative Gulf Arab states are functioning more cohesively again after a year of diplomatic tensions, but questions persist about political reform, economic integration, and demographic issues. The thirty-fifth annual Gulf Cooperation Council summit, held December 10 in Qatar, was probably the most efficient meeting the group has ever held. With the diplomatic schism between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain papered over three weeks earlier, Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani hosted the rulers of Kuwait and Bahrain, as well as senior substitutes for the ailing leaders of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Oman.
  • Political Geography: Kuwait, Arabia, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: Boaz Ganor, Hussain Abdul-Hussain
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A detailed discussion of the various factors fueling or constraining chaos on Syria's borders, including Arab tribal politics, Israeli security calculations, Iranian-Hezbollah military strategy, and a seemingly hesitant U.S.-led air campaign.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Israel, Arabia, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Maissaa Almustafa, Evan Cinq-Mars, Matthew Redding
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Since its endorsement in 2005, the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) has become central to how the global community responds to genocide and mass atrocities. The norm presently faces the “risk of relevance” as a result of the interventions in Libya and Côte d'Ivoire and the deadlock over the situation in Syria. The recommendations in this brief will strengthen preventive capacities, maximize the protection afforded to civilians and ensure the norm's future relevance.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Genocide, Human Rights, Armed Struggle, Regime Change, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Africa, Arabia
  • Author: Steven E. Steiner
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Ongoing dialogues and forums on nations in transition reinforce the commonality of challenges related to women's rights and roles in society, especially leadership in government. Women leaders in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Arab Spring countries face major challenges, including heightened insecurity and the risk of women's rights being rolled back significantly. Steps to address these challenges are to build coalitions across internal divides, engage male religious leaders and other men to support women's rights, reach out to youth, develop gender-based budgeting, and underscore the importance of women's economic empowerment. Keys to progress in these areas include obtaining grassroots support and taking a long-term strategic focus in international programs.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Gender Issues, Government, Labor Issues, Governance
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: The equity market has had a tough few months due to a combination of concerns, including fears that a US-led attack on Syria might lead to a wider Middle East conflict and threaten oil supplies. Of greater concern for equities are worries that a turn in the US monetary policy cycle could eventually kill off the US recovery. However with valuation not looking like a barrier to further gains, this four-and-a-half year equity bull market will in all likelihood climb the wall of worry and set another new high before the year is out.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: It is now looking all but certain that the United States will launch some form of attack on Syria. What is unclear is the severity and duration of the attack. Leaving aside the political ramifications, the immediate economic effects are likely to be limited (and are mostly already factored in). Opposing impacts on inflation and activity means that changes to central bank policy could be postponed. A prolonged campaign could have wider ramifications, not least if there is a risk of a geographical widening of the conflict.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Şadi Ergüvenç
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: The Mediterranean is where the atmosphere of mutual distrust, fear and polarization prevail. Arab Israeli dispute and Turkish Greek differences over the Aegean and Cyprus impede efforts for developing mutual confidence and co operation. Recently, economic and financial crises and the “Arab Risings” have brought along more reasons for concern. Islamophobia and racism versus Islamic jihadism increase the risk of confrontation. Turkey together with Spain appeals for an “Alliance of Civilizations” and exploits its double identity, European and Muslim, through a proactive and multilateral poli cy for finding peaceful solutions to chronic regional solutions. Greece and Greek Cypriot governments should refrain from unilateral attempts to declare maritime borders.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Islam, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Alan J. Kuperman
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Many commentators have praised NATO\'s 2011 intervention in Libya as a humanitarian success for averting a bloodbath in that country\'s second largest city, Benghazi, and helping eliminate the dictatorial regime of Muammar al-Qaddafi. These proponents accordingly claim that the intervention demonstrates how to successfully implement a humanitarian principle known as the responsibility to protect (R2P). In-deed, the top U.S. representatives to the transatlantic alliance declared that “NATO\'s operation in Libya has rightly been hailed as a model intervention.” A more rigorous assessment, however, reveals that NATO\'s intervention backfired: it increased the duration of Libya\'s civil war by about six times and its death toll by at least seven times, while also exacerbating human rights abuses, humanitarian suffering, Islamic radicalism, and weapons proliferation in Libya and its neighbors. If this is a “model intervention,” then it is a model of failure.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, NATO, War, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: United States, Libya, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Carolyn Barnett
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: While rulers in the Maghreb and the Gulf have long engaged one an-other, until recently neither region held essential strategic importance for the other. Now, several GCC countries are seeking greater influence around the region, including in the Maghreb. Gulf countries have demonstrated their growing interest in the Maghreb through aid and investment, though aid disbursements have been slow to materialize. Tunisia, Libya, Morocco and Algeria all have delicate relationships with the Gulf that intersect with domestic politics, debates over Islam and authority, concerns about instability, the need for stronger economic growth, and aversion to foreign interference. Promoting constructive GCC-Maghreb relations will be most feasible on the economic front. Successful management of enduring tensions will not ensure political and economic stability, but it will make that stability much more likely.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Political Economy, Islam
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Arabia, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia
  • Author: Jeff D. Colgan
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Although the threat of “resource wars” over possession of oil reserves is often exaggerated, the sum total of the political effects generated by the oil industry makes oil a leading cause of war. Between one-quarter and one-half of interstate wars since 1973 have been connected to one or more oil-related causal mechanisms. No other commodity has had such an impact on international security.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, International Trade and Finance, Oil, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Jean Pascal Zanders
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: Since the chemical weapons (CW) attacks on the Ghouta district just outside Damascus on 21 August, political developments have taken several unexpected twists leading Syria to become the 190th party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Russia and the United States reached agreement on a framework for the dismantlement of Syria's chemical warfare capacity, in which the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) as well as the United Nations will play central roles. Western threats of military force – although they undeniably contributed to Syria's acceptance of the deal – have receded for the time being. And while the deferral of international justice regarding the Ghouta strikes will frustrate many parties, the emphasis on disarmament may actually open up the prospect of a negotiated end to the conflict.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, International Law, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Florence Gaub
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: Nearly two years have passed since the end of Colonel Qaddafi's dictatorship, but all is not well in Libya. What began as a popular uprising - that later gained international support through UN Security Council Resolution 1973 - has now turned into a potentially toxic security vacuum, culminating in the resignation of Chief of Staff Youssef al-Mangoush on 10 June and repeated clashes between civilians and a legalised militia in Benghazi which have left at least 35 people dead.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Crime, Islam, Regime Change, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Libya, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Patrick Nopens
  • Publication Date: 02-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: Three major geopolitical events are putting the stability of the Eastern Mediterranean at risk. Most of the region is in a deep monetary and economic crisis. The Arab Spring is causing turmoil in the Levant and the Maghreb. Gas and oil discoveries, if not well managed, could further destabilise the region. At the same time, Russia and Turkey are staging a comeback. In the face of these challenges, the EU approaches the Greek sovereign debt crisis nearly exclusively from a financial and economic viewpoint. This brief argues that the EU has to develop a comprehensive strategy for the region, complementing its existing multilateral regional framework with bilateral agreements in order to secure its interests in the Eastern Mediterranean.
  • Topic: Security, Debt, Oil, Regime Change, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Turkey, Arabia
  • Author: Thomas Pierret
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Syrian conflict's internal dynamics have reshuffled regional alignments alongside unprecedentedly clear-cut sectarian dividing lines; this has often occurred against the preferences of regional state actors−including Saudi Arabia and Iran. Foreign states have generally adopted expedient policies that followed sectarian patterns for lack of alternatives. Iran bears significant responsibility for exacerbating the conflict's sectarian character at the regional level. There is no such “diplomatic shortcut” to regional appeasement; it is the domestic Syrian deadlock that must be broken in order to alleviate sectarian tensions across the Middle East, not the opposite.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Frederic M. Wehrey
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Like the Iraq war and, to a lesser extent, Lebanon's 2006 war, Syria's internecine conflict has enabled the Gulf's ruling families, media commentators, clerics, parliamentarians, and activists to invoke and amplify Sunni-Shia identities, often for goals that are rooted in local power politics. By-products of the mounting sectarian tension include the fraying of reform cooperation among sects and regions, and pressure on the Gulf's formal political institutions. Traditional and social media have served to amplify the most polarizing voices as well as provide reform activists new means for cross-sectarian communication that circumvent governmental efforts to control or block such activities.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria