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  • Author: Daniel Seidemann
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: What are Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's real intentions vis-à-vis Israeli–Palestinian negotiations and the two-state solution? What does he really want? Speculation aside, a great deal can be gleaned about both Netanyahu's core beliefs and his intentions by examining his words and his actions with respect to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is universally recognised as a key permanent status issue, which, for any peace agreement, will require the reconciling of competing Israeli and Palestinian claims as well as recognition and protection of Jewish, Muslim and Christian equities. In the context of the current political stalemate, however, it has become much more than that. Today, Jerusalem is both the volcanic core of the conflict – the place where religion and nationalism meet and combine in a potentially volatile mix – and a microcosm of the conflict and the imbalance of power that characterises developments on the ground.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Judy Barsalou
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: The dominance of neo-patriarchal, semi-authoritarian regimes with little interest in justice, accountability or other values associated with democratic governance has meant that, until recently, the Arab region has had limited experience with transitional justice (TJ). Several states have started down the TJ path since the emergence of the “Arab Spring”, but their progress is uneven. In Egypt, much depends on the nature and speed of the transition, whose outcomes remain uncertain. Whether and how Arab transitional states embrace TJ – especially how they manage the fates of their deposed rulers and essential institutional reforms – will indicate whether they intend to break with the past and build public institutions that inspire civic trust.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Aitemad Muhanna
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • 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: Jean-Paul Marthoz
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: Online media, global TV and social networks played a significant role in the Arab Spring and will be important factors in determining the direction of these “revolutions”.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Science and Technology, Mass Media, Regime Change, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Youssef Courbage
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: Since December 2010, the speed, suddenness and scope of events in North Africa and the Middle East have taken everyone by surprise. They nevertheless had to happen. Given the universality of human nature – differences between a European and an Arab are ultimately of minor importance – the processes that began in Europe in the seventeenth century and spread throughout the world would have inevitably reached the Arab countries.
  • Topic: Demographics, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: David Gardner
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: The reign of Arab strongmen supported by the West is drawing to an end. Europe has the duty and the opportunity to get on the right side of history, and to assist in reform and reconstruction, if and when requested. The economic dimension is about more than aid and trade, and will turn importantly on ideas and debate. Policy should be driven by a blatant bias towards democracy and its defenders, the support of competitive politics and open societies, education and the building of institutions, law-based regimes and the empowerment of women – everything many Arabs still find attractive about Western society.
  • Topic: Post Colonialism, Regime Change, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Jad Chaaban
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • 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: Yossi Alpher
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: Syria is geo-strategically, historically and politically the most central of Middle East countries, hence the over-riding importance of the conflict there. Yet any discussion of the regional implications of that conflict is necessarily highly speculative. Its points of departure are the instances of regional intervention and "overflow" from the situation already taking place. Turkey, with its open support for the armed Syrian opposition, is the leading candidate to establish "safe zones" or even "humanitarian corridors" that could conceivably lead to war. Ankara's growing rivalry with Iran is increasingly being acted out in Syria and is interacting with tensions between Sunni Muslims and Alawites/Shias not only in Syria, but in Lebanon and Iraq as well.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Regime Change, Bilateral Relations, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Steffen Hertog
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries' financial sectors are solid, but not very sophisticated: business is mostly financed through bank lending rather than bonds or stock issues, and banks continue to rely on state support and, in many cases, are directly state owned.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Andrew Gardner
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: Although large-scale migration to the Arabian Peninsula is often framed as a new or novel situation, an examination of historical accounts reveals cities, ports and peoples intricately connected with the greater Indian Ocean world for more than a millennium. For much of the past century, however, migration to the region has been organised through the kafala , or sponsorship system, which is almost ubiquitously posited as the causal force behind current labour-related problems. The right to work in the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states has been globally commodified, and low-skilled workers often pay $2,000 or more for the right to work in Arabia for a year or more. Low-skilled workers in the GCC states are best conceptualised as emissaries of a larger household livelihood and investment strategy. Living quarters for such workers in Arabia are often substandard, and the enforcement of existing laws, regulations and policies is often poor to inadequate. Youthful and worldly local populations have a demonstrably different attitude to labour rights and issues than their predecessors and elders, and these growing trends should be broadly supported through policy planning in the region. The enforcement of existing regulations and labour laws should also be supported where possible. Finally, the overall number of international organisations now focused on labour rights in Arabia provides ample opportunity for policy planners to seek collaborative relationships that might strategically yield significant benefits.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Rights, Migration, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Joe Stork
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: Human rights conditions in the five smaller Gulf states are quite poor overall. Political and economic power is the monopoly of hereditary ruling families. There is little respect for core civil and political rights such as freedom of expression, assembly and association. Peaceful dissent typically faces harsh repression. The administration of justice is highly personalised, with limited due process protections, especially in political and security-related cases. The right to participate in public affairs by way of election to offices with some authority is extremely limited; the only exception is Kuwait.
  • Topic: Democratization, Gender Issues, Human Rights, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Kuwait, Arabia, Bahrain, Oman
  • Author: Kristian Coates Ulrichsen
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: This overview paper examines the challenges facing regional security co-operation in the five smaller Gulf States. It demonstrates the resilience and durability of intra-regional differences, particularly scepticism of Saudi Arabia's greater size and regional objectives. With the notable exception of Bahrain, differences of outlook have continued into the post-Arab Spring period as Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman hold significant reservations about moving toward a closer Gulf union. The Arab Spring has injected urgent new domestic considerations into a regional security complex hitherto marked by external instability. Yet the bold political action and longer-term planning that is needed to address these issues is lacking, because ruling elites prioritise short-term policies designed to ensure regime security in a narrower sense. This means that security remains defined in hard, “traditional” terms and has not evolved to include the security of individuals and communities rather than rulers and states. The future of regional security co-operation is therefore uncertain and bleak, and the closing of ranks may yet herald a closer Gulf union as rulers come together to deal with the pressures generated by the Arab Spring.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Kuwait, Arabia, Bahrain, Oman
  • Author: John Bowlus
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: On December 26, 2011, in response to US, European, and potential Asian sanctions on Iranian oil exports, the government in Tehran issued a threat to “cut off the Strait of Hormuz.” The US Defense Department responded that any blockade of the strait would be met with force. On first read, it is easy to dismiss such saber rattling as another chapter in the new Cold War in the Middle East between Iran and its allies – including Syria, Hamas, and Hezbollah – and the US, Israel, and the Sunni Gulf States, mostly notably Saudi Arabia. Iran has since backed away from its threat, but the event still carries importance because it is unclear how both the US and Iran will continue to respond, particularly as the diplomatic and economic pressures grow more acute while Iran's controversial nuclear program advances. Could such a verbal threat by Iran to cut off the Strait of Hormuzignite a military conflagration in the region? The relationship between military conflict and oil supply disruptions is well established; however, policymakers and analysts tend to focus on the incidents in which military conflict causes disruptions in oil supplies and sharp increases in prices. The first and most obvious example of this dynamic was the Arab-Israeli War of 1973. The subsequent oil embargo by the Arab members of the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) against the United States and the Netherlands for their support of Israel caused prices to soar as oil-consuming nations endured supply shortages. The Iranian Revolution from 1978 to 1979 was another event that curtailed Western nations' access to oil and caused prices to spike. When thinking about the relationship between military conflict and oil supply disruptions, however, policymakers and analysts should also recognize that the competition over oil – and even verbal threats to disrupt oil supplies by closing oil transit chokepoints – have either led directly to military conflict or have provided a useful cover under which countries have initiated military conflict. By examining past episodes when countries issued threats to close oil transit chokepoints, this Policy Brief helps illuminate the dangers associated with the current crisis over the Strait of Hormuz.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Economics, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, Asia, 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: Sumathy Permal
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Maritime Institute of Malaysia
  • Abstract: The Indian Ocean (IO) is the world’s third largest ocean with an area of 73.5 million sq. km or 28.5 million sq. miles. It is strategically located adjacent to Asia in the North, Australia to the East, Antarctica to the South, and Africa to the West. IO forms two large indentations in South Asia, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. The ocean can be accessed through several chokepoints i.e., from the West via Cape of Good Hope and the Straits of Madagascar, from the North via the Bab el-Mandeb at the end of the Red Sea; the Sunda and Lombok-Straits and the Ombai-Wetar-Straits and the Straits of Hormuz at the exit of the Persian Gulf, from the East via the Straits of Malacca and, by way of geographical extension, to the South China Sea.
  • Topic: Security, International Law, International Trade and Finance, Maritime Commerce
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Malaysia, Asia, Arabia, Kobani
  • Author: Mohsin Khan, Svetlana Milbert
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The Arab Spring that swept the Middle East last year dramatically altered the political landscape of the region for the better with the overthrow of autocratic regimes. But it also generated considerable uncertainty over the future of economic policies and economic reforms in the Arab world. Will the political transition triggered by the Arab Spring lead to a continuation of the market-oriented economic reforms that most Arab countries had embarked upon over the past two decades, or will more populist regimes emerge that will undo these reforms and adopt economic policies that cater primarily to the immediate demands of the restive public?
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • 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
  • Author: Thomas Hegghammer
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: A salient feature of armed conflict in the Muslim world since 1980 has been the involvement of so-called foreign fighters. These foreign fighters are unpaid combatants with no apparent link to the conflict other than religious affinity with the Muslim side. Since 1980, between 10,000 and 30,000 such fighters have inserted themselves into conflicts from Bosnia in the west to the Philippines in the east.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Bosnia, Middle East, Philippines, Arabia
  • Author: Daniel Tavana
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: This policy brief analyzes Egypt's electoral framework in light of legal and political changes following the popular revolt that overthrew Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. Over the course of a three and a half month period, Egyptians will elect representatives to lower and upper houses of Parliament: the People's Assembly and the Shura Council, respectively. Once both houses convene in March 2012, a 100-member constituent assembly will be selected to draft a new constitution.
  • Topic: Democratization, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Duncan Pickard
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The paper is intended for all policy analysts interested in Tunisia, but it could be especially helpful for members of the NCA and the legal advisory committee, chaired by Yadh Ben Achour, that was recently established to advise the NCA on constitutional law and drafting procedure. The National Constituent Assembly of Tunisia (NCA) will act as the constitutional convention and transitional legislature of Tunisia and was elected on 23 October 2011.1 Decree No. 582, released on 20 May 2011, extends a one-year mandate to the NCA to write a new constitution for the republic. This commitment was also reflected in a September 18 agreement signed by Tunisia's largest political parties. Drawing from recent cases and academic literature, this paper explores key procedural questions that will confront the NCA in its first month in office.
  • Topic: Democratization, Politics, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Arabia, North Africa, Tunisia