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  • Author: Eric Trager
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Low Salafist turnout for this week's constitutional referendum could signal a broad base of support for growing jihadist violence against the post-Morsi government. The January 14-15 referendum on Egypt's draft constitution is being billed as a referendum on the military's July 3 ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Muhammad Morsi. Yet the vote is unlikely to alter the country's short-term political trajectory: no matter the results, the military-backed government will continue repressing pro-Morsi forces, who will in turn continue resisting a process they view as illegitimate. The extent to which Salafists participate in the referendum may have longer-term implications, however. High Salafist turnout would suggest an embrace of the Nour Party's decision to participate in the post-Morsi process, whereas low turnout would reflect strong feelings of disenfranchisement that could lead more Salafists to embrace jihadism.
  • Topic: Religion, Armed Struggle, Regime Change, Reform
  • Political Geography: Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Haroon Ullah, Eric Trager, Vish Sakthivel
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A senior State Department advisor and two Washington Institute scholars discuss what lessons can -- and cannot -- be drawn from the Islamist political experience in Egypt, Pakistan, Morocco, and other countries.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Middle East, Arabia, Egypt, Morocco
  • Author: Aaron Y. Zelin
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Security crackdowns will not be enough to eradicate jihadist networks in Tunisia and Libya, which have the patience and ideological conviction to weather drastic reorganization. Eight months ago, the Tunisian government officially designated Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia (AST) as a terrorist organization. Since then, Tunis has cracked down on the group's activities, going after both its dawa campaign (i.e., proselytization and social-welfare efforts) and any links members have to terrorist plots. On the whole, AST's public response has been to keep relatively quiet. Yet recent developments indicate that the group may be rebranding itself as Shabab al-Tawhid (ST; the Youth of Pure Monotheism), a shift that would have important implications for efforts to counter Tunisian jihadists and their associates in Libya.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Border Control
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Arabia, Tunisia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: There is no one way to measure the level of security and stability in given countries, the conditions of life, or the rising threat posed by internal; and domestic terrorism. This analysis provides a wide range of metrics from reporting by the World Bank, UN, and US government. It focuses on trends and it will be immediately clear to the reader that it does not always reflect the shattering impact of the violence and upheavals that have taken place in some countries since 2011.
  • Topic: Religion, Terrorism, International Security, Governance
  • Political Geography: Arabia
  • Author: Susan Hayward
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The field of religious peacebuilding has begun to move closer to the mainstream of conflict resolution practice and theory. The 2011 unrest in the Middle East and North Africa—the Arab Spring—reflects ongoing challenges and opportunities for the field. American and European nongovernmental organizations, agencies in the U.S. government, academia, and international organizations—sectors that once held religious issues at a distance or understood religion mainly as a driver of violence—increasingly engage religious communities and institutions as partners in creating peace. Meanwhile, religious organizations that have been involved in creating peace for decades, if not longer, increasingly have institutionalized and professionalized their work, suggesting ways that religious and secular organizations could coordinate their efforts more closely. The U.S. Institute of Peace's own programs on religion reflect the development of the wider field, having moved from research and analysis to on-the-ground programming to foster interfaith dialogue in the Balkans, Nigeria, Israel-Palestine, and Sudan. In addition, it has trained religious actors in conflict management in Sri Lanka, Iraq, and Colombia and developed peace curricula based on Islamic principles for religious and secular schools in Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, and elsewhere. As the U.S. field of religious peacebuilding continues to develop, challenges include integrating further with secular peacebuilding efforts, engaging women and youth and addressing their priorities, working more effectively with non-Abrahamic religious traditions, and improving evaluation, both to show how religious peacebuilding can reduce and resolve conflict and to strengthen the field's ability to do so.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Peace Studies, Religion, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Europe, Arabia
  • Author: Steven Simon
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: From a strategic perspective, Syria has gained some advantages and some disadvantages since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. President Bashar al - Asad, considered a callow leader five years ago, faced a testing period in 2003–06 and did more than merely survive. He withstood a threat of imminent regime change at the hands of the United States, and weathered heavy international fallout from the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and the summer war in 2006 between Israel and Hezbollah, which Syria has long supported. Bashar has emerged a cagey geopolitical operator, able to manage a delicate strategic balance, and Syria is now stronger than it has been at any time in recent history. Yet Syria faces a number of internal challenges due to Iraq's instability. Primary among these is coping socially, economically, and politically with a huge influx of Iraqi refugees, and mitigating the effect that sectarian (Shia-Sunni) and ethnic (Arab-Kurd) conflict in Iraq has on the fragile status quo in Syria.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Regional Cooperation, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Robert Springborg
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The social, political and economic power of moderate Middle East and North African Islamist movements has been growing for a generation or so. The question of how to deal with Islamists who reject violence, embrace democracy and outperform their competitors at the polls has therefore become a central concern not only of incumbent Middle East elites, but also of interested foreign actors such as the EU and US. Robert Springborg sees the need for the EU to clarify its policies towards the MENA region and Muslim democrats within it. The present lack of EU policies on engaging with moderate Islamists leads them to be at best curious about the EU and at worse to be suspicious of it. Engagement might itself help to contribute to policy formation in this important area, and serve as a vehicle to disseminate information about relevant EU policies.
  • Topic: Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Arabia, Arab Countries, North Africa
  • Author: Senem Aydin, Rusen Çakir
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: Turkey differs from the Arab states studied in the CEPS–FRIDE Political Islam project in not only in having a European Union membership prospect, but also in the fact that a broadly Islamist-oriented party has been in office since 2002. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) still enjoys the primary support of pro-Islamic constituencies in Turkish society and its orientation towards the EU has not changed since its assumption of power. An overwhelming majority in the party still sees the EU as the primary anchor of Turkish democracy and modernisation despite the inferred limitations of cooperation on issues relating to the reform of Turkish secularism. Yet the growing mistrust towards the EU as a result of perceived discrimination and EU double standards is beginning to cloud positive views within the party. Decreasing levels of support for EU membership in Turkish society and the fact that explicitly Euro-sceptic positions are now coming from both the left and the right of the political spectrum suggest that the sustainability of the pro-European discourse within the party could be difficult to maintain in the longer run.
  • Topic: Development, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Arabia
  • Author: Martha Brill Olcott
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Sufism is a mystical form of Islam that has flourished in the Muslim world for centuries. Sufism has placed a distinctive stamp on the way the religion has been practiced in many Arab countries, in parts of Africa, in Turkey, and especially in Central Asia.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Africa, Central Asia, Turkey, Kuwait, Arabia
  • Author: Amr Hamzawy, Marina S. Ottaway
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Secular parties in the Arab world—a broad range of political organizations that vary in their political orientation from liberal positions to vaguely socialist programs—are facing a crisis. Caught between regimes that allow little legal space for free political activity on one side and popular Islamist movements that are clearly in the ascendancy throughout the Arab world on the other, they are struggling for influence and relevance, and in some cases even for survival.
  • Topic: Politics, Religion, War
  • Political Geography: Arabia
  • 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
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The bomb attack on a sacred Shiite shrine in Samarra on 22 February 2006 and subsequent reprisals against Sunni mosques and killings of Sunni Arabs is only the latest and bloodiest indication that Iraq is teetering on the threshold of wholesale disaster. Over the past year, social and political tensions evident since the removal of the Baathist regime have turned into deep rifts. Iraq's mosaic of communities has begun to fragment along ethnic, confessional and tribal lines, bringing in stability and violence to many areas, especially those with mixed populations. The most urgent of these incipient conflicts is a Sunni-Shiite schism that threatens to tear the country apart. Its most visible manifestation is a dirty war being fought between a small group of insurgents bent on fomenting sectarian strife by killing Shiites and certain government commando units carrying out reprisals against the Sunni Arab community in whose midst the insurgency continues to thrive. Iraqi political actors and the international community must act urgently to prevent a low-intensity conflict from escalating into an all-out civil war that could lead to Iraq's disintegration and destabilise the entire region.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Amy Hawthorne
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: IN THE THREE YEARS SINCE THE TERRORIST ATTACKS of September 11, 2001, the question of Arab reform not only has become closely linked in the minds of Western policy makers to the fight against Al Qaeda, but also has become a dominant theme of discussion in the region itself. Arab satellite television stations broadcast talk shows featuring vigorous discussions about the persistence of authoritarian rule in Arab countries and the incompetence of incumbent regimes. The opinion pages of Arab newspapers are replete with articles championing democratic reform as the only way to strengthen the region against Western control, or, conversely, to connect it with globalization and “modernity.” Civil society groups, political parties, and even business organizations are promulgating reform manifestos with increasing regularity. Political reform is also the focus of heated debates in unexpected circles such as the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the Saudi royal family. All Arab governments have acknowledged the need for reform in principle (some have even talked of democracy), and many have announced their own reform initiatives.
  • Topic: Democratization, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Arabia, Arab Countries, Egypt
  • Author: Andrew Coulson
  • Publication Date: 03-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This paper describes the threat posed to U.S. national security by militant schools in lessdeveloped nations, evaluates current policies for dealing with that threat, and suggests an alternative set of policies that would likely be more effective and also more consistent with the laws and principles of the United States.
  • Topic: Education, International Trade and Finance, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Arabia
  • Author: Paul T. Levin
  • Publication Date: 11-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International Studies, University of Southern California
  • Abstract: It was Turkish membership in the European Union that the Viennese social worker quoted in the Guardian was against. As the Commission of the European Union has recently delivered a report that suggests the opening up of EU accession negotiations with Turkey, old fears seem to be awakening on the continent; “Turcophobia”, as the Guardian calls it. The liberal Viennese news weekly Profil the same week described the prospect of Turkish membership as “not so much a risk as a danger” in an editorial titled “The Turks at the Gates of Vienna.” But not only Turks are experiencing a resurrection of animosities that many thought were long since buried. In the aftermath of the attacks on September 11, anti-Arab sentiments surged along with verbal and physical attacks on Muslims in both Europe and the U.S. Perhaps the secretly held view of too many in Europe and the “West” is that of Britain's Robert Kilroy-Silk. According to his column in the Sunday Express on September 25 of this year, Arabs are no more than "suicide bombers, limb-amputators, women repressors". This essay digs deep to find the historical roots of today's images of Turks, Arabs, and Muslims.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Organization, Regional Cooperation, Religion
  • Political Geography: Britain, United States, Europe, Turkey, Arabia
  • Author: Judith S. Yaphe
  • Publication Date: 06-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: One year after liberation, most Iraqis are impatient with the military occupation of their country. Although grateful for the removal of Saddam Hussein's cruel and repressive regime, many assumed the United States and its coalition members would soon go home and leave them to sort out their political, economic, and military fate. The war, after all, had been fought to liberate Iraqis from political tyranny, not to defeat the Iraqi people. Both U.S. and Iraqi expectations were high that the transition from oppression to democracy would be smooth and quick and that Iraqi political elites would move swiftly to ensure democratic rule.
  • Topic: Government, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Arabia
  • Author: Shibley Telhami
  • Publication Date: 03-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Under the sponsorship of the Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, Shibley Telhami prepared a public opinion survey for Zogby International, which interviewed 2,620 men and women in Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan. The survey was conducted between February 19 and March 11. It focuses on perceptions of the United States in specific political scenarios and on views of United States policy abroad. Previous polls done by Shibley Telhami and by Zogby International in the Middle East showed that neither United States policy nor the United States was viewed favorably.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco
  • Publication Date: 04-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The 11 September 2001 attacks in the U.S. and revelations that the al-Qaeda network made extensive use of charitable institutions to raise funds for its operations, have reinforced concerns about the relationship between Islamic social welfare activism and terrorism. The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), which has conducted a series of devastating armed attacks during the current conflict, particularly against Israeli civilian targets, and which supports an extensive network of social welfare organizations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, has come in for particular scrutiny.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Arabia, Gaza
  • Publication Date: 11-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: As attacks against the occupying forces and suicide bombs against civilian targets intensify, the need for a new political formula that will increase the powers, legitimacy and representative quality of Iraqi governing institutions is becoming more urgent than ever. The response to date, reflected in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1511, has been to tie the transfer of the exercise of sovereignty to the drafting of an Iraqi constitution, its adoption in a referendum and ensuing national elections.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Ethnic Conflict, Government, Politics, Religion, Sovereignty
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Arabia, United Nations
  • Publication Date: 02-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Tucked away in a handful of villages in a remote pocket of Iraqi Kurdistan, a small group of radical Islamist fighters has been accused of being the Kurdish offspring of the al-Qaeda network, and thus has become a fresh target in the international war on terrorism. To compensate for its limited reach and popularity, this group, called Ansar al-Islam (Partisans of Islam), has built on tenuous regional alliances to survive in the harsh mountainous environment above the town of Halabja in northwestern Iraq, just shy of the border with Iran. These alliances have enhanced its role as a minor spoiler in predominantly secular Kurdish politics in the Suleimaniyeh governorate.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Arabia, Kurdistan
  • Author: Abdelwahab El-Affendi
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster
  • Abstract: Sudan – Africa's largest country (area: 2.5 million square kilometres; population: 36 million) – has been described as a microcosm of the continent, as it embodies the continent's characteristic ethnic and religious diversity. The majority of its inhabitants (70 per cent) are Muslim. The rest adhere to traditional African beliefs (25 per cent) or various Christian denominations (5 per cent). The majority of Muslims are Arabic speaking (though not all are ethnically Arab), and Arabic is both the official language and the lingua franca. However, over 500 ethnic groups live in Sudan, and some 75 languages are spoken in the country. The bulk of the Arabic-speaking Muslims live in the north, while the south is inhabited by a predominantly non-Arab and non-Muslim population.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Religion
  • Political Geography: Sudan, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Bechir Chourou
  • Publication Date: 03-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The emergence of a political ideology based on Islam is commonly attributed to Jamal Eddine al-Afghani (1838-1898) of Afghanistan, Mohammad Abduh (1849-1905) of Egypt and Abdurrahman al-Kawakibi (1849-1902) of Syria. These early Muslim intellectuals are called "reformers," because they advocated a reversal of what they perceived in their era as a slow but inexorable decline of Islam. In their views, this could be accomplished only through a purification of the faith and a return to strict observance of the word of Allah (i.e. the Koran) and imitation of His prophet's behaviour (i.e. the Sunna). But at the same time, those thinkers believed that Muslims should not shun science and knowledge even if they came from non-Muslims. Thus saved from decay and decadence, the reformed and renovated Islam could inaugurate a period of renaissance (nahdha) that would allow it to join and participate in the economic and social transformations that were under-way in the West.
  • Topic: Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East, Arabia, Egypt