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  • 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: Tomáš Kaválek
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: On 3 March, clashes erupted between the PKK-linked forces and the KDP’s Rojava Peshmerga near Khanasor in the district of Shingal. These events now more than ever highlight the need for a negotiated compromise between the KRG and the PKK; and for the international community to actively intervene.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, Political Theory
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Irene Costantini
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: Iraq and Libya are facing similar challenges: addressing the hurdles of socio-economic recovery in areas liberated from the Islamic State (IS); facing a fiscal crisis in the midst of continuous political tensions; and striking a power balance between central and local authorities, serving the interests of the people.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, ISIS
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Athanasios Manis
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: The Iraqi and Turkish leadership have restored direct contact, thus providing an opportunity for dialogue. However, the extent to which this can lead to a sustainable normalisation process and furthermore to a deepening of their relationship is highly questionable. This policy brief argues that the main problem lies with the fact that a win-win scenario of overlapping or complementary interests does not seem to be driving the leaderships’ actions. Instead, it is ad hoc developments external to their bilateral relationship that have a positive effect for the time being, such as the rapprochement between Russia and Turkey, and subsequently a concerted attempt between Russia, Turkey and Iran to stabilise the region.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: François Godement
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Xi Jinping took a bold stance at this year's Davos summit, claiming that China could be the leader and protector of global free trade. However, he fell short of pronouncing the same commitment to the international order. • While China finds little to criticise in globalisation, which has fuelled its rapid economic rise, it has an uneasy relationship with the international order, picking and choosing what parts of it to engage with. • China's governance model at home is fundamentally at odds with the liberal international order. Whether in climate talks, international arbitrations, or on the topic of open markets, China resists any parts of the order that infringe on its sovereignty. • Facing an increasingly interest-driven China, and a US in retreat from the international order, the EU must stand by its values if it wants to protect them. Faced with Donald Trump, Xi has sent a clear message about his country's commitment to internationalism. The EU should hold China to its word on this.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Hamza Meddeb
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Six years since the revolution, the success of democracy in Tunisia depends on those parts of the country where the popular uprising began: its ‘periphery’, whose regions lag far behind the country’s economically more developed coast. Tunisia’s periphery regions suffer from weak economic growth and high levels of poverty and unemployment – a legacy of decades of underinvestment. Regional conflict, terrorism and organised crime have led the government to crack down on security threats in the periphery regions. This has disrupted the informal and illegal economic networks on which much of the population relies and caused it to lose faith in the government. Tunisia has enjoyed extensive support from international partners since 2011 – money is not the problem. Instead, the country must strengthen its regional governance and address fragmentation at the heart of government. Europeans can radically alter the terms of debate by offering Tunisia membership of the European Economic Area, galvanising change in support of its journey towards democracy and stability.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Hayder al-Khoei, Ellie Geranmayeh, Mattia Toaldo
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: ISIS has suffered significant setbacks in both Iraq and Libya with the battles for Mosul and Sirte representing potential turning-points. • Without a clear political strategy to guide post- ISIS efforts, these military gains could quickly be lost. Both countries could again become breeding grounds for conflict and extremism, exacerbating European security and migration challenges. This risk is especially high for Iraq given the conflict in neighbouring Syria. • The new US administration is likely to invest less energy than its predecessors in strengthening political orders which provide stability. European states must step up their own efforts
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: On 5 June 2017, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt, in marked succession, cut diplomatic relations with Qatar. Within a matter of hours, it became clear that this was not simply a move to sever ties, but a plan for a full embargo, an unprecedented step at a time of peace between these nations. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain blocked flights to Qatar, closed land and sea borders, and ordered Qatari citizens out of their countries while calling on their own nationals to leave Qatar. The same day, Maldives, Mauritius (though it later denied the news), the Libyan Tobruk-based government (which is not recognised internationally), and the Yemeni government based in Riyadh followed suit and cut ties with Qatar, unable to resist Saudi pressure. The next day, Jordan downgraded diplomatic relations with Qatar and revoked the licence of Al Jazeera’s bureau in Amman, while Mauritania severed diplomatic relations with Qatar. Mauritius, in an official statement, denied it had cut ties, raising questions of whether some party took the initiative on behalf of the Mauritian government. The actions taken at dawn on 5 June were the culmination of an unprecedented, anti-Qatar media blitz initiated by Emirati, Saudi, Bahraini and Egyptian media on the evening of 23 May. The campaign intensified until it assumed official imprimatur with the decision to cut ties and blockade Qatar. What, then, is happening to relations between countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)? After Gulf leaders came together in a scene of friendship, cooperation and solidarity during US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, why are relations between three GCC states and Qatar deteriorating so rapidly and in such unprecedented fashion? Was there an immediate cause that spurred Saudi Arabia and its partners to take this stance, or were these actions planned in advance? Is this simply a fleeting crisis in relations between GCC states, or could the break persist?
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: Abstract The commander of Operation Dignity, Khalifa Haftar, shocked supporters even more than his opponents when he agreed to meet the Chairman of the Presidential Council, Fayez al-Sarraj, in Abu Dhabi on 2 May 2017, having previously refused to recognise him. This about-face may be attributable to the acquiescence of Haftar’s regional allies to direct international pressure. Reactions to the rapprochement between al-Sarraj and Haftar varied across the eastern and western fronts. Khalifa Haftar’s status in the east precludes serious opposition to his decisions, while in the western region a substantial segment of the population blessed the meeting in hopes that a détente would stop the deterioration of the security and economic situation. In contrast, western political and military factions were incensed, and some responded violently. Haftar’s acceptance of consensual agreement and reconciliation clearly grows out the waning possibility of assuming control of the country through decisive military action. From his standpoint, it therefore makes sense to attempt to impose his conditions through negotiations, which means the Skhirat agreement could collapse or undergo radical revisions.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Libya
  • Author: Andrea Charron, James Fergusson
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: While most attention on NORAD and North American defence cooperation is focused on the modernization of the North Warning System (NWS), significant developments have occurred that suggest modernization will be accompanied by significant evolutionary changes to the Command. The new threat environment, centered upon Russian behaviour in Crimea, Ukraine and Syria, a new Russian strategic doctrine, and a new generation of advanced Russian long-range cruise missiles dictate not only layered, multi-sensor early warning system, but also changes in NORAD command arrangements. In addition, the maritime component of the cruise missile threat, alongside continuing concerns of terrorists employing freighters as cruise missile platforms, raise the question whether NORAD should evolve into a binational air-maritime defence command. These considerations are central to the ongoing Evolution of North American Defence (EVONAD) study, emanating from the Canada-US Permanent Joint Board on Defence, under the lead of NORAD, in collaboration with the Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) and US Northern Command (the tri-command structure). The final result is difficult to predict. However, it is clear that both modernization and evolution will be driven by the militaries engaged, with civilian authorities guiding the process, and the public and Canadian government not paying attention.
  • Topic: International Relations, Defense Policy, International Security
  • Political Geography: Canada