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  • Author: Nicolas Pelham
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: When the West Bank and Gaza first split between two rival Palestinian governments in 2007, Western governments promised to turn the West Bank under President Mahmoud Abbas, their Fatah protégé, into a model state and reduce Gaza under its Islamist rulers, Hamas, to a pariah. Almost five years on, the tables have turned. While the West Bank slips into economic and political crisis, Gaza is fast reviving. Abbas finds himself bereft of a political horizon for achieving a two-state settlement and the state-building experiment of his prime minister, Salam Fayyad, has reached an impasse. Gaza's economy, by contrast, has grown strongly under Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, who is experiencing a wave of increasing popularity, as Hamas looks to tie the enclave ever more closely to the political economies of North Africa, where the Arab awakening is bringing affiliated Islamist movements to power. A recent agreement signed in the Qatari capital, Doha, between Abbas and Hamas's exiled leader, Khalid Meshal, is intended to heal the split between Palestine's two halves. Under the agreement, the separate governments governing Gaza and the West Bank would be replaced by a single technocratic government under Abbas, which is a radical about-turn on the part of the exiled Hamas leadership that Hamas politicians in Gaza find difficult to swallow. For its own reasons, Israel too rejects the agreement. With so many previous attempts at intra-Palestinian reconciliation ending in failure and so many obstacles dogging this latest round, the prospects for the Doha agreement remain bleak, but not beyond the realm of the possible.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Islam, Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: ees van der Pijl
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: The “moderate Islam” that has developed in Turkey could play a role in shaping the outcome of the Arab revolt that began in 2011. The modern Turkish state established by Atatürk after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire had to find ways to integrate Islam politically. Turkey was a late-industrialising country and the Islamic political current tended to have an anti-Western, antiliberal profile on this account. Two tendencies within Turkish political Islam are distinguished: one connecting religion to economic nationalism, the other primarily cultural and willing to accommodate to neoliberalism. The 1980 military coup geared the country to neoliberalism and cleared the way for this second tendency to rise to power through the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of R.T. Erdo ˘gan. For the West and the Gulf Arab states the export of this model to the Arab countries destabilised in the popular revolt would amount to a very favourable outcome. Gulf Arab capital was already involved in the opening up of state-controlled Arab economies, including Syria. Although the situation is still in flux, by following the Turkish model Muslim Brotherhood governments could potentially embrace political loyalty to the West and neoliberal capitalism.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Civil Society, Democratization, Development, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Roland Marchal
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: Muammar Qaddafi's overthrow was interpreted in the West as the removal of a tyranny and an expression of regional democratisation dynamics. Concerned with their own interests, Western powers have not paid attention to key factors affecting political developments in the wider region.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War, Democratization, Regime Change, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Virginie Collombier
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: Even before the current uprising began in Egypt, major changes in the political system had begun to threaten the stability of the Mubarak regime as the presidential succession became imminent. Constitutional reforms and electoral fraud could have resulted in a political deadlock in 2011. At the same time, the relative openness and freedom of expression that has emerged in Egypt since 2005 had laid the ground for new political movements to emerge and develop. Events in Tunisia, combined with a severe degradation of economic and social conditions in Egypt, and the growing perception that its citizens would have no say in the coming presidential succession, have created a favourable context for the unprecedented mobilization in Tahrir square.
  • Topic: Democratization, Insurgency, Political Power Sharing
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Bassma Kodmani
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: The recent democratic revolution in Tunisia swept away the authoritarian regime of President Zein el Abidin Ben Ali who had long held a tight grip on power in the country. He used the police to spread fear among the population, appointed loyalists to the head of the national union and ensured the ruling party was the only real player in the political system. His family were a hive of corruption. When the population revolted, it was therefore swift and decisive.
  • Topic: Democratization, Insurgency, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia