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  • Author: Dana Stroul, Hanin Ghaddar
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Apart from its military intervention, Tehran has pursued a wide range of economic and social tactics for increasing its sway in Syria, but Washington can still push back with targeted assistance, innovative sanctions, and strategic messaging. This PolicyWatch is the first in a two-part series on how to counter Iran’s expanding activities in Syria amid talk of U.S. military withdrawal. Part 2 will discuss the array of Iranian-backed armed groups currently operating there
  • Topic: International Affairs, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu hopes to capture his fifth term in the April 9 national elections, and polls show he has a clear lead over other candidates, retaining support from approximately a quarter of the electorate. Yet it is insufficient to merely have the most votes; to govern, the winner must subsequently cobble together a majority of at least 61 seats in the 120-member Knesset. Netanyahu is also under the shadow of potential corruption indictments pending a hearing that would occur after the elections.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Author: David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As the United States prepares to withdraw its 2,000 troops from Syria, it has one last essential mission to accomplish. Those U.S. forces have fought successfully, hand in hand, with 60,000 Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) against Islamic State terrorists for the past four years. And President Trump’s latest statement about this, on January 2, noted his desire to protect these Kurds. So, despite all obstacles, the United States should still try to protect that brave and loyal militia in the short term, and secure a safer medium-term future for the Syrian Kurds and their local partners.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Jerusalem seeks to mitigate the potential risks of the president’s decision by shaping its implementation and obtaining U.S. security guarantees, though long-term concerns still loom. Israeli officials have been careful not to publicly criticize President Trump’s recent announcement that all U.S. military forces will be pulled out of Syria. Below the surface, however, they have exuded dissatisfaction, concern, and a desire to make the best out of the situation. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s initial public response was lukewarm, stating that Israel will continue to take care of its security and “will not abide Iranian entrenchment in Syria.” He followed those remarks with hectic bilateral discussions on the matter, holding a phone call with President Trump, meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the sidelines of a gathering in Brazil, and hosting National Security Advisor John Bolton in Jerusalem. These discussions elicited U.S. public assurances about Israel’s security and, so it appears, opened opportunities to affect the manner in which Trump’s decision is implemented.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jana Juzová
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Europeum Institute for European Policy
  • Abstract: The Visegrad countries have since their own accession to the EU been one of the most active European actors advocating for further EU enlargement towards South- Eastern Europe. On the joint Visegrad-level as well as in their own foreign policies, the Western Balkans have a special position; the V4 countries provided them support on their path of European integration with transfer of know-how based on the V4’s own successful experience with economic and political transformation, regional cooperation and Euro-Atlantic integration. However, the Visegrad approach towards the Western Balkans is now being undermined and is losing its legitimacy due to several factors outlined in this paper. In spite of the positive impact of the Visegrad policy towards Western Balkans1, recent trends, such as worsening state of democracy in Hungary, Hungarian PM Orbán’s connections to autocratic leaders in the region (recently granting the asylum to former Macedonian PM Gruevski who escaped to Hungary from a jail sentence at home) are weakening not only Visegrad’s legitimacy as advocate for transformation of the region and its integration into the Euro-Atlantic structures, but also the normative power of the EU. Other V4 countries’ indifference towards this trend coupled with Poland’s new involvement in the Berlin Process framework, another EU member states’ initiative focused on the Western Balkans, only contribute to raising doubts about the commitment and legitimacy of Visegrad’s Western Balkan policy.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Andreas Bøje Forsby
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Until recently, we were operating under the assumption that the liberal world order would prove sufficiently inclusive, productive and resilient to serve as a stable framework for international cooperation. But such optimism seems increasingly unwarranted as a wide host of existential challenges have materialized, including the return of geopolitics, the resurgence of autocratic leadership, the revival of economic protectionism and the rising tide of populism and nationalism.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Louise Riis Andersen
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Anti-corruption is central to building capable and legitimate security institutions in fragile states. However, military capacity-building programs often do not include anti-corruption measures. Denmark should strive to put the fight against military corruption on the international agenda
  • Topic: Corruption, International Affairs, Global Security
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Tony Bricktua, Abigail Lawson
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EastWest Institute
  • Abstract: Report Recommends Approaches to Meet Needs of Law Enforcement While Managing Risks to Cybersecurity and Privacy
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Wael Abdul-Shafi, Jan Hanrath
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EastWest Institute
  • Abstract: The repercussions of climate change and environmental challenges pose enormous risks to Iran and Saudi Arabia alike. While there are differences in geography and climate in both countries, they also have many environmental challenges in common. Problems such as sand and dust storms or diminishing water resources are border-crossing phenomena that no country can deal with alone; therefore, cooperation is key. At this point in time, however, willingness to cooperate is utterly lacking in a region marked by geo-strategic rivalries, ongoing military conflicts and deep-rooted mutual distrust between regional rivals, and between Saudi Arabia and Iran in particular.
  • Topic: Environment, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Thomas Renard
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: The European Union is increasingly active on cyber issues internationally, guided by its various foreign policy documents and strategies, including its 2013 Cybersecurity Strategy and the 2015 Council conclusions on cyber-diplomacy. In line with these documents, the EU has deepened its bilateral ties with a number of key countries, resulting in a network of cyber partnerships. This article explores these partnerships in depth. It seeks to explain the different types of purposes that they fulfil, and the various mechanisms that underpin them, based on an ambitious mapping exercise. In essence, it is argued that the EU’s cyber partnerships aim not only for bilateral cooperation, but also for ‘reflexive’ results (whereby the EU aim to develop its cyber and diplomatic agency) and ‘structural’ results (whereby bilateral partnerships aim to strengthen the multilateral fabric and global internet governance). Once assessed against these multiple and intertwined purposes, these cyber partnerships appear more useful than meets the eye.
  • Topic: International Security, Cybersecurity
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Thomas Renard , Rik Coolsaet
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: Some 5000 men, women and children have travelled from Europe to Syria and Iraq since 2012. An estimated 1500 of these foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) have returned so far. Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands represent a third of European FTF and returnees. This report looks into the evolution of policies on returning foreign fighters in these three countries, comparing responses with regard to fighters that are still in the conflict zone, policies to deal with returnees in prison and attitudes towards the children of foreign fighters. It is the very first systematic and in-depth study into national approaches and policies vis-à-vis returnees. Its added value lies in the wealth of data, including data that has not been published before, and in the comparative angle.
  • Topic: Human Rights, International Affairs, Refugees
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jann Lay, Kerstin Nolte, Kacana Sipangule
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: In light of the surge in large‐scale farms in developing countries, concerns have been raised that smallholders may be negatively affected. There is, however, very little evidence beyond case studies to support these claims. Drawing on nationally representative house‐ hold data sets and an inventory of large‐scale farms in Zambia, this study investigates the relationship between large‐scale farms and smallholders. First, we analyse the geograph‐ical contexts of wards that host large‐scale farms and show that large‐scale farms are found in wards with good infrastructure and soil quality. Second, we adopt a difference‐ in‐differences approach to estimate the impacts of large‐scale farms on smallholders’ area cultivated, maize yields, and access to fertiliser. We find that smallholders in wards with large‐scale farms increase their area cultivated and maize yields, but have lower fertiliser usage. This hints at positive spillovers at the extensive and intensive margins but not at improved access to agricultural inputs. It is likely that these results are also driven by the emergence of medium‐scale farms in these regions.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Zambia
  • Author: Amal Cemal Ertürk
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: Since the end of World War II, foreign policy and security issues have haunted the European dreams of complete integration in terms of alignment in a highly challenging field, which is also constantly interrupted by sovereignty concerns of member states. Within today’s changing dynamics, the EU’s current instruments seem to fall short of preventing terrorism or providing a meaningful answer to the problems in the Middle East. The EU’s capacity to act in this field needs to be strengthened. The newest approach presented by the European External Action Service (EEAS) is called PESCO (the Permanent Structured Cooperation) and aims to change this current structure of “inactivity”. This short paper will briefly analyze this new instrument.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Michael Asiedu
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi indicated in a televised broadcast on 16 January, 2018 that his country neither wants war with Sudan nor Ethiopia; Egypt was also not looking to meddle in the internal affairs of these two countries. These pronouncements came at the backdrop of what is proving to be a challenge for these three countries, the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the largest hydro-electric dam project in Africa. This policy brief gives a snapshot of the brewing tension surrounding the GERD and some of the regional geopolitical concerns as well as an alternative for a workable solution.
  • Topic: International Relations, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Ethiopia
  • Author: Çağlar Açıkyıldız
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: The events in Syria since the beginning of the conflict in 2011 have been a source of concern for the international community. The ongoing civil war has caused many military and civilian casualties. Reports on the state of the country indicate that both government forces and rebels have committed both crimes against humanity and war crimes. What began as a crisis in March 2011, turned into a civil war between the Syrian government and armed opposition groups and has resulted in over 465,000 deaths. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), as of April 2017, there were more than 5 million Syrian refugees and at least 6.3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs). Over 13.5 million Syrians remain in dire need of humanitarian assistance, with 4.5 million people in inaccessible areas, including at least 419,900 people trapped in 10 besieged communities. Besides, Islamic State has been very effective in the country especially since 2014. The Islamic State took control of some land and equally committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. Therefore, Syria demonstrates a clear case of a state unable or unwilling to protect its own citizens; hence, enough ground to invoke Responsibility to Protect (R2P) to save civilian lives in Syria. However, it is difficult to assume that the international community has a solution to the problem. In this paper, the validity of the R2P and problems of its implementation in the Syrian case are discussed.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Author: Alice Dabarre
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: While humanitarian action was traditionally designed to be a short-term emergency response, this is increasingly perceived as inaccurate and even undesirable. Humanitarian actors have acknowledged a responsibility to work toward bridging the “humanitarian-development divide” and not to overlook the nexus between addressing and reducing humanitarian needs and building the foundations for sustaining peace.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: Current drug policy too often has a negative impact on communities and runs counter to efforts to ameliorate poverty through sustainable development. However, this is often not captured by the metrics used to measure the impact of drug policy. One way to improve these metrics is to align them with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This would not only help overcome many of the limitations of drug policies resulting from suboptimal metrics but also make sure these policies enhance, rather than hinder, efforts to achieve the SDGs.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Narcotics Trafficking
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Lesley Connolly, Cheryl He
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: In December 2016 Gambians took to the polls and successfully replaced longtime president Yahya Jammeh with current President Adama Barrow, ushering in a political transition. More than a year into this transition, the country is at a tipping point. Public expectations remain high, and the list of competing priorities, from increasing economic opportunities to implementing transitional justice, is long.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Gambia
  • Author: Guillio Coppi
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: Two years into its current crisis, Yemen is torn apart by an interlinked series of conflicts with intricate and mobile front lines. These have resulted in what the UN has called “the largest humanitarian crisis in the world.” While compounded by decades of conflict, violence, and underdevelopment, the major cause of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen remains the conflict between the two competing governments, along with the intervention of the Saudi-led coalition.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Yemen
  • Author: Els Debuf
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: IPI’s research project on mechanisms to investigate attacks on healthcare aims to assist the Security Council, relevant UN organs, member states, and other stakeholders in operationalizing Resolution 2286 and the UN secretary-general’s recommendations for its implementation. The project focuses on recommendations regarding the use of international mechanisms to ensure that the “full, prompt, impartial and effective investigations” required by Resolution 2286 are carried out when parties to the conflict are unable or unwilling to do so themselves. Through a combination of desk research, key informant interviews, and an expert meeting bringing together stakeholders in the implementation of Resolution 2286 and experts on international fact-finding and investigation into violations of international humanitarian law, the project developed a set of tools, available on this page. These include:
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus