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  • Author: Kheder Khaddour
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Since the early days of the Syrian uprising in 2011, President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has made it a priority to keep state agencies running, allowing Assad to claim that the regime is the irreplaceable provider of essential services. Breaking the regime’s monopoly on these public services and enabling the moderate opposition to become an alternative source of them would weaken the regime and prevent the radical jihadist Islamic State from emerging to fill power vacuums across the country.
  • Topic: Civil War, Democratization, Islam, Governance, Sectarian violence, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Lina Khatib
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The self-proclaimed Islamic State is a hybrid jihadist group with a declared goal of establishing a “lasting and expanding” caliphate. Its strategy for survival and growth blends military, political, social, and economic components. Yet the U.S.-led international intervention against it has largely been limited to air strikes. The gaps in the international coalition’s approach as well as deep sectarian divisions in Iraq and the shifting strategies of the Syrian regime and its allies are allowing the Islamic State to continue to exist and expand.
  • Topic: Civil War, Islam, Terrorism, Insurgency, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Cornelius Adebahr
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: After years of tension, sanctions, and deadlocked negotiations, Hassan Rouhani, Iran's relatively moderate new president, has provided an opening for improved relations between the Islamic Republic and the West. While Rouhani has not ushered in a new Iran, Tehran has adopted a more conciliatory tone on its nuclear program since he took office. This shift is more than just talk, but the West will have to carefully calibrate its response to determine whether Rouhani's changed rhetoric signals the beginning of a new direction for Iran.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Islam, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Richard Youngs
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Politics in the Middle East are increasingly polarized and fragmented. The Arab Spring's citizen-led spirit of reform is still alive, but societies are increasingly torn apart by bitter tensions between Sunni and Shia, secular liberals and Islamists, and governments and civil society. As polarization has deepened, the concern with engaging in dialogue to bridge differences has intensified. The relationship between these mediation efforts and support for systemic reform will be a pivotal factor in the Middle East's future political trajectory.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Democratization, Islam, Regime Change, Governance, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Lina Khatib
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Long a minor regional actor in the shadow of Saudi Arabia, Qatar wants to increase its influence. But Doha's expansionist foreign policy has been plagued by miscalculations, domestic challenges, and international pressure—all issues connected to Doha's relationship with Riyadh. As a result of these setbacks, Qatar's regional role has diminished, and for the foreseeable future, its external influence is likely to remain under the direction of Saudi Arabia.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar
  • Author: Alexey Malashenko
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Russia has spent over a decade trying to recapture the influence the Soviet Union once enjoyed in the Middle East, but President Vladimir Putin's attempts to position Moscow as a key regional player have come up short. With revolutions across the Arab world overturning old orders and ushering in Islamist governments, Russia's chances for strengthening its position in the region look increasingly slim. The Kremlin must change course and ensure that its approach to the Middle East and Islamists reflects post–Arab Spring realities.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, Post Colonialism, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Soviet Union, Arabia
  • Author: Paul Salem
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: A decade after Saddam Hussein's fall, Iraq still lacks a centralized foreign policy that advances its national interests. Internal divisions, such as those between the Shia-dominated regime in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government in Erbil, have given rise to alternative power centers with their own policy priorities. Iraqi foreign policy will remain disjointed and incoherent until Baghdad resolves the issues polarizing the country.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Islam, Oil, Governance
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: As political upheavals spread over much of the Middle East and North Africa in 2011, regimes throughout the region were shaken and a few fell. But in both the West Bank and Gaza, a soft authoritarianism that has provoked uprisings elsewhere has only been further entrenching itself.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Democratization, Education, Islam
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Gaza, Cameroon
  • Author: Ibrahim Saif, Muhammad Abu Rumman
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Islamist parties have gained newfound political power across the Arab world. Four parties in particular—Tunisia's Ennahda, Egypt's Freedom and Justice Party, Morocco's Justice and Development Party, and Jordan's Islamic Action Front—have either made a strong showing at the ballot box or are expected to in upcoming elections. Their successes have dredged up fears about their political and social ambitions, with worries ranging from the enforcement of sharia law to the implications for Western tourists on these countries' beaches. Meanwhile, the parties' economic platforms have largely been overlooked, despite the serious challenges that lie ahead for the economies of the Arab world.
  • Topic: Corruption, Democratization, Islam, Political Economy, Regime Change, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: All political forces in Egypt seem to agree: The country's premier religious institution, al-Azhar, must be made more independent from the regime. But that agreement is deeply misleading; it masks a struggle within al-Azhar and among leading political forces over its role in Egyptian society. Part mosque, part university, part center of religious research and knowledge, al-Azhar is perhaps the central—and certainly the most prestigious—element in the state-religion complex in Egypt.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown, Amr Hamzawy
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The Muslim Brotherhood, the dynamic Islamist movement that has tried to navigate Egypt's semi-authoritarian system for over six decades, is facing a shrinking political space. For most of the past decade, the Brotherhood has expanded its political role, increasing from 17 to 88 members of Egypt's 620-member People's Assembly. Its success has brought increasing repression from the government. A range of measures have limited the Brotherhood's effective-ness in the People's Assembly, preventing it from forming a political party. This environment has led the movement to prioritize internal solidarity over parliamentary activities and refocus efforts on its traditional educational, religious, and social agenda. While the Brotherhood is unlikely to renounce politics altogether, the movement's center of gravity is shifting toward those who regard it as distracting, divisive, and even self-defeating.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Sarah Grebowski, Amr Hamzawy
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Recognition by Egypt's leading Jihadists that violence has failed to achieve political change and in fact has been counterproductive has led them to a remarkable change of course.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Sarah Phillips
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: News that the failed Christmas Day attack on a U.S. passenger jet was tied to al-Qaeda elements in Yemen prompted questions of whether the fractious Arab state might give rise to a Taliban-style regime. For its part, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has stated its intent to achieve “our great Islamic project: establishing an Islamic Caliphate” but it is vulnerable to the threat that Yemen's tribes may ultimately find its presence a liability.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Taliban, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Muriel Asseburg
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Since the Middle East peace conferences in Madrid (1991) and Washington (1991–1993), Europeans have gradually stepped up their political involvement in the Middle East. While Europeans have had strong trade and cultural relations with their neighboring region for decades, they have, in parallel with the Middle East peace process and the development of European Union (EU) foreign policy instruments, moved to assert their political interests more forcefully. These policies have largely been motivated by geographic proximity and geopolitical considerations—chiefly, the fear of security threats emanating from Europe's neighborhood (a spillover of conflict in the form of terrorism, organized crime, migration, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction), Israel's security, and access to energy resources. The implicit assumption has been that these different European interests can best be reconciled in an environment where there is peace between Israel and its neighbors (and therefore no contradiction between good relations between the EU and Israel and good relations between the EU and the wider, resource-rich region) and where the people of the Mediterranean and the Middle East find decent living conditions in their countries. As a consequence, Europeans have first focused their efforts on the realization of a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian confl ict, which they consider to be the core of the region's instability. They have, second, aimed at supporting comprehensive peace between Israel and its neighbors. And they have, third, sought to provide an environment conducive to peace in the region as well as to deflect what were (and still are) perceived as security risks emanating from the region.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Energy Policy, International Cooperation, Islam
  • Political Geography: Europe, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Amr Hamzawy
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Like Islamist parties across the Arab world, Yemen's Islamist Congregation for Reform (Islah) has a religious ideology and platform. Islah participates in legal politics in hopes of accomplishing constitutional and socioeconomic reforms, and over time it has committed itself to upholding democratic procedures internally as well as externally.
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Omayma Abdel-Latif
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Sunni Islamist movements are gradually emerging as a significant part of Lebanon's power scene. The Lebanese army's three-month military campaign against one such movement, Fateh al-Islam, in the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in North Lebanon, which ended in early September, triggered a fierce debate about these groups and their political and social agendas. Until recently, Islamist arguments did not resonate with the majority of Lebanon's Sunni Muslims. However, turbulent events and an incoming tide of public opinion following the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the assassination of former prime minister Rafi q al-Hariri in February 2005, a rising tide of sectarianism across the region, and the Israeli war against Hizbollah and Lebanon in July 2006 have all given Islamists a framework for advancing their agenda among Lebanon's Sunna. They are no longer an irrelevant political force.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Lebanon
  • Author: Ömer Taspinar
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: In what represents a remarkable departure from its policy of non-involvement, Turkey is once again becoming an important player in the Middle East. In recent years, Ankara has shown a growing willingness to mediate in the Arab– Israeli conflict; attended Arab League conferences; contributed to UN forces in Lebanon and NATO forces in Afghanistan; assumed a leadership position in the Organization of Islamic Conference and established closer ties with Syria, Iran, and Iraq.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, Islam, Nationalism, Religion
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Author: Omayma Abdel-Latif
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: In September 2007, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt released its first political party platform draft. Among the heavily criticized clauses was one that denied women (and Copts) the right to be head of state. “Duties and responsibilities assumed by the head of state, such as army commanding, are in contradiction with the socially acceptable roles for women,” the draft stated. In previous Brotherhood documents there was no specific mention of the position of head of state; rather, they declared that women were allowed to occupy all posts except for al-imama alkubra, the position of caliph, which is the equivalent of a head of state in modern times. Many were surprised that despite several progressive moves the Brotherhood had made in previous years to empower women, it ruled out women's right to the country's top position.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Islam, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Marina Ottaway, Amr Hamzawy
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Islamist parties and movements in Arab countries that have strategically chosen to participate in the legal political process, acknowledging the legitimacy of the existing constitutional framework, have gained great political importance. Their participation raises two major questions: are they truly committed to democracy? And will participation have a positive, moderating influence on their positions, pushing them to focus on public policy platforms rather than ideological debates?
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Martha Ottaway, Omayma Abdel-Latif
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Women are beginning to play a bigger role in shaping the politics of Islamist political movements in the Middle East. Mounting evidence suggests that women activists have made important inroads in Islamist movements by creating strong women's branches and pushing for broader political participation and representation in the upper echelons of the entire movements. Although women in these movements deny that they are embracing a Western-style feminist agenda and remain instead quite concerned with the preservation of Islamist values, most display dissatisfaction at being relegated to the women's branches of their respective movements. They want to be seen as potential leaders, not just as dedicated organizational foot soldiers, and in many countries they are pushing the leadership of their movements for change. To some extent the women's demand for greater recognition of the importance of their role in the service of the Islamist cause is also translating into activism in the cause of women's rights and equality more generally, just as it has with women activists in other political movements elsewhere in the world.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Islam, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Amr Hamzawy, Dina Bishara
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The 2006 Lebanon war has had a profound effect on Islamist movements that have chosen to compete as legal parties in the political systems of their countries, testing their relationship with the ruling regimes as well as their respect for pluralism and tolerance.
  • Topic: International Relations, Islam, Religion, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Arab Countries, Lebanon
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Recent election results in several Arab countries have transformed formerly theoretical questions into pressing policy concerns: Can Islamist political parties operate within the boundaries of a democratic system? Will participation breed moderation? Strong showings by Hizbollah in Lebanon and by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt have made these questions seem less speculative. And the victory of Hamas in the first election it contested has made the questions impossible to avoid.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Islam, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Jordan, Mumbai
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown, Amr Hamzawy, Marina S. Ottaway
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: In today's Arab world, Islamists have assumed the role once played by national liberation movements and leftist parties. They are the mass movements of the twenty-first century. They are well embedded in the social fabric, understand the importance of good organization, and are thus able to mobilize considerable constituencies. Their ideology prescribes a simple solution to the persistent crises of contemporary Arab societies—a return to the fundamentals, or true spirit, of Islam. Indeed, “Islam is the solution” has been the longtime slogan of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. Like all successful movements, Islamists have been able to distill a long, complex philosophical tradition into simple slogans that have quickly supplanted the Pan-Arabism and socialism that dominated the region until the 1970s. As a result, in most countries Islamists represent the only viable opposition forces to existing undemocratic regimes.
  • Topic: Government, Human Rights, Islam, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Arab Countries