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  • Author: Michal Yaari
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This article focuses on relations between Israel and Qatar, analyzing them in historical context, in the context of Qatari foreign policy and in terms of their potential and the limitations imposed by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The article describes the shift from a mutual conception of hostility to unusual cooperation over the Gaza crisis. While Israel aspires to avoid additional rounds of violence with Gaza, Qatar seeks to strengthen its regional role as a mediator, and mutual interests converge into joint activity to avert an additional military clash between Hamas and Israel. The cooperation between the states illustrates how the Palestinian issue can leverage regional cooperation. At the same time, the untapped diplomatic, economic and civilian potential of Israel-Qatar relations points to the limitations imposed by the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Economy, Conflict, Hamas
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza, Qatar
  • Author: Haim Koren
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Since President Abdel Fatah a-Sisi’s rise to power in 2014, Israeli-Egyptian ties have been marked by defense-strategic cooperation. This is based on the shared perception of Iran and radical Islamist terror organizations as a threat, and the common interest in managing the Palestinian issue, in general, and specifically the Gaza arena. In the inherent tension between ideology and national interests, Egypt continues to strive for an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians (Fatah, Hamas and the other Palestinian factions) and seeks to bring about internal Palestinian reconciliation beforehand (between the leaderships in Ramallah and Gaza). Its role as a key mediator between Hamas and Israel is crucial, and is in line with Egypt’s international standing as an important regional leader.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Bilateral Relations, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza, Egypt
  • Author: Einat Levi
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This article examines the current Israel-Morocco cooperation and its development through 2019. It briefly describes developments in diplomatic, security, economic and civilian arenas in order to find common ground and identify trends. Naturally, the paper will not elaborate much on the security-intelligence aspect of the cooperation, despite its centrality, due to its classified nature.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Bilateral Relations, Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, North Africa, Morocco
  • Author: Yitzhak Gal
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The year 2019 saw additional deterioration in Israel-Jordan relations to the point where ties can be described as “toxic”. Israel’s continued callous disregard of Jordanian sensitivities and interests on policy issues (such as al-Haram a-Sharif/Temple Mount) and economic issues (such as water), was further exacerbated by the particularly volatile issue of the Jordan Valley annexation. Strong security ties continued to provide the basis of the relationship, although they are conducted largely behind the scenes. Economic and civilian cooperation declined, except for the Israeli gas exports to Jordan, which are of strategic importance. Nonetheless, and despite Jordan’s frustration, anger and disappointment with Israel, new content can be infused into the relationship in order to rehabilitate it. Both states have a clear interest in cooperation.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations, Peace, Trade
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Jordan
  • Author: Zoltán Egeresi
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: In this issue of Turkeyscope, Zoltán Egeresi, research fellow at the Hungarian Institute for Strategic and Defence Studies, analyzes the negative Turkish reaction to the normalization deals made between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Abraham Accords
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Bahrain, United States of America, UAE
  • Author: Moran Zaga
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The relations between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel are primarily characterized by mutual interest and cautious rapprochement steps. The rapprochement can be attributed to the pragmatic character of the two states and their shared interests, including, inter alia, opposition to the Iranian nuclear program, opposing religious extremism, regional trade, modernization processes, handling similar environmental issues, and participation in global events and projects. The cautious approach and the limitations in these relations derive mainly from the UAE’s avoidance of official normalization with Israel due to the latter’s conduct regarding the Palestinian issue.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Conflict, Rapprochement
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Yemen, Palestine, United Arab Emirates
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: In October 2018, the Mitvim Institute held its annual Israel-Turkey policy dialogue, for the seventh consecutive year. The dialogue took place in Istanbul, in cooperation with FriedrichEbert-Stiftung, and was participated by Dr. Nimrod Goren, Dr. Roee Kibrik and Arik Segal of the Mitvim Institute. The policy dialogue included a series of meetings and discussions, with Turkish scholars, journalists, former diplomats, and civil society activists. It focused on Israel-Turkey relations, in light of the current crisis in ties, and on Turkey’s foreign policy in the Middle East. The policy dialogue aimed at helping improve Israel-Turkey relations, by enabling experts from both countries to exchange views on regional developments, to identify opportunities for better bilateral relations, and to increase cooperation between researchers and policy analysts from both countries. Throughout the dialogue, there was a sense that Turkey and Israel can find a way to overcome their current crisis and to reinstate ambassadors. Nevertheless, such progress is not expected to lead to a significant breakthrough in the relations. The Turkish counterparts expressed hope that Israel and Turkey will resume talks on natural gas export from Israel; shared their concern over what they perceive as Israel's support of the Kurds in northern Syria; and pointed out that Turkey and Iran should not be considered by Israel as allies, but rather as countries that cooperate at times regarding shared interest but are also competing with each other and adhering to different ideologies and beliefs. The dialogue also emphasized the importance attributed in Turkey to Jewish community in the US, and to the impact it has on the American discourse towards Turkey as well as on US policy towards the Middle East. This paper highlights key insights from the meetings and discussions that took place throughout the policy dialogue. It does not reflect consensus among all participants.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Nimrod Goren, Nitzan Horowitz, Ronen Hoffman, Yohanan Plesner, Zehava Galon, Nadav Tamir, Ofer Shelah, Maya Sion-Tzidkiyahu, Zouheir Bahloul, Elie Podeh, Einat Levi, Merav Michaeli
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The Mitvim Institute’s second annual conference took place in Tel Aviv on December 30, 2018. The conference explored alternative directions for Israeli foreign policy towards the April 2019 general elections. In recent years, Mitvim has formulated a series of guiding principles for a new Israeli foreign policy paradigm – a pro-peace, multi-regional, internationalist, modern and inclusive foreign policy. The conference sought to translate these principles into concrete policy directions, which will enable Israel to improve its foreign policy, increase its regional belonging in the Middle East and Europe, and make progress towards peace with the Palestinians. The conference featured Members of Knesset (MKs) Ofer Shelah and Merav Michaeli, Dr. Nimrod Goren, Dr. Ronen Hoffman, Zehava Galon, Nadav Tamir, Yohanan Plesner, Dr. Maya Sion-Tzidkiyahu, Zouheir Bahloul, Prof. Elie Podeh, and Einat Levi. It was moderated by Nitzan Horowitz and Merav Kahana-Dagan of Mitvim. The conference was held in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, and can be watched (in Hebrew) on Mitvim’s YouTube channel.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Government, National Security, Diaspora, Democracy, Resilience
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, European Union
  • Author: Haim Koren
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This article describes the relationship and cooperation between Israel and Egypt, and discusses the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on them. It focuses on the current political and security cooperation between the two countries regarding the Gaza Strip, the fight against terror, the Palestinian issue, the relations with the US administration, and the regional rivalry between Arab Sunni states and Iran. The article emphasizes that when it comes to civil and economic ties between Israel and Egypt, the potential for cooperation has yet to be fulfilled. Nevertheless, there are a few signs for economic cooperation in the areas of natural gas and industry (with the enlargement of the QIZ system), and to some positive change in the public attitude of the Egyptian government towards relations with Israel. The challenges to bolstering Israel-Egypt relations include bureaucratic, economic and politicalsecurity (e.g. the nuclear issue) components. Above all, however, stands the Israeli- Palestinian conflict and the perception of the Egyptian public that normalization with Israel cannot be reached prior to a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Politics, Regional Cooperation, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Egypt
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: In Israel, former diplomats do not tend to play a significant public role. However, they have the potential to make a real contribution to improving the public and political Israeli discourse on foreign policy. Israel’s former diplomats have dozens of years of experience, diplomatic skills, knowledge of various countries and organizations, intricate networks of social ties around the world, analytic capacity and deep understanding of the international arena and of Israel’s place among nations. This valuable experience often goes down the drain. A Mitvim Institute task-team recommended to increase their role in Israel’s public sphere, in order to empower Israel’s diplomacy and Foreign Service. On February 3, 2019, the Mitvim Institute hosted a policy workshop to discuss how this can be done. It was carried out in cooperation with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and with participation of senior former diplomats (including Foreign Ministry directors-general and deputy directors-general). Discussants presented examples from other countries, outlined the situation in Israel, described the challenges to optimizing the potential impact of Foreign Ministry retirees, and identified recommendations to promote change.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Nimrod Goren, Merav Kahana-Dagan
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Benjamin Netanyahu won Israel’s election and declared he would form a new rightwing government. This will affect diverse aspects of Israel’s foreign policy. This document includes commentaries by Mitvim Institute experts regarding the election results and their possible foreign policy implications: Dr. Ehud Eiran argues that while Netanyahu presented himself ahead of the election as a super-diplomat, he also proved he is part of the global populist wave; Dr. Nimrod Goren claims that Israel’s right-wing government will have more leeway to implement its policies given weak domestic and foreign opposition; Dr. Roee Kibrik foresees increased tensions between Israel and leading global democratic forces; Dr. Lior Lehrs explains why the new government will face the threat of flare-ups at several Israeli-Palestinian flashpoints; Dr. Moran Zaga points out why Netanyahu constitutes an obstacle to promoting ties with Gulf States, as does the lack of a broad Israel strategy on relations with the Arab world; Former Ambassador Michael Harari claims that renewed peace process with the Palestinians is needed to take advantage of global and regional opportunities; Kamal Ali-Hassan assesses that Israel’s Arab population is losing trust in the state establishment and will seek to promote regional ties on its own; Dr. Eyal Ronen urges the new government to deepen its partnership with the EU rather than to continue its efforts to weaken and divide it; Yael Patir argues that Israel’s crisis with the US Democratic Party could deepen, especially as the 2020 presidential election draws near.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Politics, Elections
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: In recent years, the Eastern Mediterranean has become a central focus of world powers, of states in the Middle East, Europe, and beyond, and of international corporations. Regional geopolitical developments, as well as economic opportunities generated by natural gas discoveries in the Mediterranean, have contributed to this trend and turned the Eastern Mediterranean into a distinct sub-region perceived as having unique features. Israel plays a central role in this development. Israeli diplomacy identified these trends correctly, successfully becoming an active and dominant player in the region. The natural gas findings in Israel’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) provide it with a wider range of diplomatic options, helping it promote relationships with various states in the region; including some engaged in conflict with each other. Israelis regard the Mediterranean as an important component of their identity, as reflected in the 2018 Israeli Foreign Policy Index of the Mitvim Institute, in which 22 percent of those surveyed claimed Israel belongs predominantly to this region (compared with 28 percent who said it belongs to the Middle East and 23 percent to Europe).
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Greece, Palestine, Lebanon, Cyprus, Mediterranean
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: For the past two years, Mitvim Institute experts have been studying the changing relations between Israel and key Arab states – Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq. They examined the history of Israel’s ties with each of these states; the current level of Israel’s diplomatic, security, economic and civilian cooperation with them; the potential for future cooperation and the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Israel’s ties in the Middle East. Based on their research and on task-team deliberations, the experts put together a snapshot of the scope of existing and potential cooperation between Israel and key Arab states, as of mid-2019.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, United Arab Emirates
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: For the past two years, Mitvim Institute experts have been studying the changing relations between Israel and key Arab states – Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq. They examined the history of Israel’s ties with each of these states; the current level of Israel’s diplomatic, security, economic and civilian cooperation with them; the potential for future cooperation and the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Israel’s ties in the Middle East. Based on their research and on task-team deliberations, the experts put together a snapshot of the scope of existing and potential cooperation between Israel and key Arab states, as of mid-2019.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Economy, Peace
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: Yuval Steinitz, Ofer Shelah, Merav Michaeli, Yisrael Beiteinu, Nitzan Horowitz, Ofer Cassif
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: On 9 September 2019, the Mitvim Institute convened a pre-elections event on Israel’s foreign policy. The event focused on paths to advance peace with the Palestinians; to deepen Israel’s regional belonging in the Middle East, Europe and the Mediterranean; and to empower Israel’s diplomacy Foreign Service. Senior politicians from six political parties spoke at the event: Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud), Member of Knesset (MK) Ofer Shelah (Blue and White), MK Merav Michaeli (Labor-Gesher), MK Eli Avidar (Yisrael Beiteinu), Nitzan Horowitz (Chair of the Democratic Union) and MK Ofer Cassif (Joint List). Each of them was interviewed by Arad Nir, foreign news editor of Channel 12 News. Dr. Nimrod Goren and Merav Kahana-Dagan of Mitvim delivered opening remarks in which they presented recent trends in Israel’s foreign policy and findings of a special pre-elections Mitvim poll. This document sums up the key points made at the event.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Government, Politics, Elections
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The seventh annual public opinion poll of the Mitvim Institute on Israel’s foreign policy was conducted in September 2019. It was carried out by the Rafi Smith Institute and in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, among a representative sample of Israel’s adult population (700 men and women, Jews and Arabs) and with a margin of error of 3.5%. This report presents the poll’s key findings, grouped under four categories: Israel’s foreign relations, Israel’s Foreign Service, Israel and its surrounding regions, and Israel and the Palestinians.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Lior Lehrs
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The question of the affinity between the Israeli-Palestinian track and the Israeli-Arab track is a contentious issue in Israeli public discourse. Prime Minister Netanyahu repeatedly claims that the Palestinian issue can be bypassed on the road to normalization with the Arab world, even without progress on that front. However, the history of Israeli-Jordanian relations attests to the strong and intrinsic link between these two arenas. The breakthrough that led to the 1994 peace treaty with Jordan was enabled by progress in negotiations with the Palestinians, and every crisis since in the Palestinian arena is reflected in relations with Jordan. All attempts to warm relations with Jordan and increase cooperation on civil issues (beyond the intelligence and military cooperation) require a parallel move vis-à-vis the Palestinians.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Affairs, Bilateral Relations, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Jordan
  • Author: Yitzhak Gal, Ksenia Svetlova
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Towards the 25th anniversary of the peace treaty with Jordan, Mitvim experts visited Amman for a series of meetings with political, security, media and civil society figures in Jordan. The purpose of the visit was to assess the current status and challenges of Israeli-Jordanian relations, better understand how these challenges are impacted by the situation in Jordan and developments in the region, and identify opportunities for improving relations between the two countries.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Jordan
  • Author: Dlawer Ala'Aldeen
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: The latest tension between Iran and the United States has created an unhealthy debate among local actors in Iraq and the wider Middle East, reflecting minimal insight into Washington or Tehran’s policy environment. This in itself can be extremely detrimental to their own national agenda as well as the overall dynamics. The question here is: where is this US-Iran escalation leading and what policy would be best for the local players in Iraq (and elsewhere) to pursue?
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Imperialism, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Tehran, Washington, D.C.
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: At the outset of this panel, Dlawer Ala’Aldeen invited the Prime Minister (PM) to share his vision and strategy for his 4-year term in office. Ala’Aldeen observed that Masrour Barzani’s cabinet is a coalition of different political parties, and that the internal coordination demonstrated during its first four months has provided good reason for hope. He stated that observers acknowledge the PM’s former track record of success, and have high expectations for what he will be able to accomplish in office.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: Over the past decade and a half, the KRI’s share of the federal budget and oil revenue has been the most significant point of tension between Erbil and Baghdad. Each year, when the budgetary law is formulated and voted upon, a new crisis is initiated; the next is already brewing, as the budget law is currently under discussion. According to journalist Hiwa Osman, this bilateral relationship is also affected by ongoing neutralisation disagreements over the disputed territories, which are manifested in the positionalities of the Peshmerga, paramilitary, and federal security forces.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Budget
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad, Erbil
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: In her introduction, panel chairman Tanya Gilly highlighted that Middle East history has long been marked by turmoil and transition. While the region is no stranger to overlapping and intractable conflicts, she emphasized that recent dynamics have introduced new complexities. Buffeted by competing regional and global entities, and littered with fragile and failing states, the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East has become fraught with militarization, mass population displacement, and communal fragmentation. Gilly explained that this panel would focus on recent geopolitical developments in Northern Syria, and that panelists would be pressed to consider how they might influence the next evolution of the Middle East to create an environment conducive to lasting peace.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Geopolitics, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Amos Yadlin
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: After a year in which Iran opted for "strategic patience," in the hope that European nations would compensate for the United States sanctions, it now seeks to present a price tag for the US measures against it, and has thus embarked on a response comprising action in three realms: nuclear, military, and oil exports from the Gulf. In the current circumstances, Iran and the United States are demanding conditions that would make a resumption of negotiations difficult, although both sides apparently understand that dialogue may ultimately be the less dangerous option for them. The latest developments embody the potential for escalation and miscalculation that is liable to affect Israel's security, and therefore the security cabinet should convene to craft an appropriate policy for the near, medium, and long terms.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Oil, Military Strategy, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, North America
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Few recent American foreign policy decisions have been as divisive as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear arms control agreement with Iran. Advocates of the agreement have focused far too exclusively on its potential benefits. Opponents equally exclusively on its potential faults. Both sides tend to forget that any feasible arms control agreement between what are hostile sides tends to be a set of compromises that are an extension of arms races and potential conflicts by other means. As a result, imperfect agreements with uncertain results are the rule, not the exception. President Trump has made it clear that he opposes the agreement and would like to terminate it. His dismissal of Rex Tillerson as Security of State, and his replacement by Mike Pompeo – along with his dismissal of General H.R. McMaster and replacement with John Bolton – indicate that President Trump may well seek to terminate the agreement in the near future – action which might or might not have significant bipartisan support. He faces a May 5th to decide whether to again waive economic sanction against Iran, a decision which comes up for renewal every 120 days.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Deterrence, JCPOA
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Sarah Ladislaw, Frank A. Verrastro
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: On May 8, President Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear agreement endorsed by Iran, the United States, France, Germany, China, Russia, and the United Kingdom. Concurrent with that action, Section 1245 of the National Defense Authorization Act of FY 2012 (NDAA) was reactivated, along with other U.S. sanctions under the Iran Freedom and Counter-proliferation Act (IFCA), the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA), and the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (ITRSHRA). Departments and agencies are implementing these sanctions with 90-day and 180-day wind down periods, after which time the applicable sanctions come back into full effect.1 Since May, administration officials from several agencies have been travelling around the world to explain the rationale for the decision to pull out of the JCPOA and persuade countries to comply with the sanctions program. Earlier this week (following the end of the first 90-day wind down period), the administration announced that on August 7 sanctions would be reimposed on: Iran’s automotive sector; Activities related to the issuance of sovereign debt; Transactions related to the Iranian rial; Iran’s trade in gold and other precious metals; Graphite, aluminum, steel, coal, and software used in industrial processes; The acquisition of U.S. bank notes by the government of Iran.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Sanctions, JCPOA
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Safi Khalilullah, Joseph Mohr
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination, Princeton University
  • Abstract: This paper seeks to reflect the views of those fighting the Afghan government, which includes the movement of the Afghan Taliban. The movement of the Afghan Taliban grew out of multiple sources, but came mainly from primarily local bands of religious students who joined the anti-Communist uprising of Afghan religious scholars. These bands of religious students captured branches in some of the Pakistan-based religious resistance parties, and were frequently integrated in provincial organizations as separate “fronts” inside Afghanistan. The religious students did not appropriate the modernizing Islamist discourse of Hezb-i Islami and other parties, but demanded the creation of an Islamic system of governance, the "Islamic Emirate," headed by the commander of the faithful (amir al-muminin), and not a President. This vision was realized in 1998, two years after the fall of Kabul. Pakistani support had been used up to this point by all parties in order to capture power in Afghanistan as a tactic. With the fall of the Islamic Emirate, this tactic changed to become the strategy for their survival, come-back and counter-offensive. Every time the Taliban used Pakistan in order to secure their leadership, establishing command centers, recruitment, or any other activity, the increasing reliance colored their whole activity. In the matter of recruitment, this meant that Pakistani youth would be admitted into the Afghan Taliban ranks as full members. Ultimately, this reliance also opened up the Afghan Taliban to Pakistani penetration and influence. Mullah Omar, the “amir al-muminin” tried to counter this trend by relocating into hiding inside Afghanistan, where he also died. In the process, he had ceded much actual control to his messengers, who could operate in Pakistan and the world in his name. The article provides an overview of Mullah Omar’s movements between Afghanistan and Pakistan after the fall of the Taliban Emirate up to his death. In light of President Trump speech on 21 August 2017, and subsequent briefings by Secretary of Defense Mattis and General Dunford to the Senate on 3 October, a stronger focus of the United States on Pakistan’s role in supporting the Taliban is evident. The views of the Taliban and Al-Qaida operatives on the role played by Pakistan appear to support this shift in American focus from President Obama’s approach.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Peacekeeping, Al Qaeda
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Middle East
  • Author: Clare Castillejo
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: The issue of inclusive peacebuilding has moved up the international agenda in recent years. There is now unprecedented policy-level commitment among the international community to promote inclusion in conflict-affected contexts; growing evidence of the importance of inclusion for sustainable peace and development; emerging lessons on best approaches for promoting inclusion; and a recognition among international actors of the need to learn from past weaknesses in this area. This report examines the current policy context for providing international support to inclusive peacebuilding. It identifies how international actors can strengthen their efforts to promote inclusion by learning from previous experience and drawing on new knowledge and approaches. It goes on to look at how international actors have supported inclusion in three very different conflict-affected contexts, Afghanistan, Somalia and Nepal, and asks how international actors have engaged on issues of inclusion in these contexts, what factors shaped this engagement, and what the results have been.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Africa, Middle East, Asia, Nepal, Somalia
  • Author: Roee Kibrik, Nimrod Goren
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This document briefly outlines major trends in Israel’s regional foreign policies over the past six months. It is based on the Mitvim Institute’s monthly reports that cover ongoing developments in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process/conflict, Israel’s relations with the Middle East, Europe and the Mediterranean, and the conduct of Israel’s Foreign Service.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, International Affairs, Peace
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Greece, Jerusalem, Gaza, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Cyprus, European Union
  • Author: Jonathan Benthall
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Regional Studies: CIRS
  • Abstract: This paper records and interprets the rise and decline of Saudi overseas humanitarian charities, with special reference to the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO or IIROSA). Founded in 1975, IIROSA grew as a vehicle for a distinctively Saudi version of Islamic humanitarianism. By the mid-1990s, IIROSA was the world’s largest Islamic charity. Following the dismissal of its secretary general in 1996, and the crises of 9/11 and the Al-Aqsa Intifada, which cast a cloud to varying degrees over nearly all Islamic charities, IIROSA’s activities were reduced but efforts were made to revive them. In 2017, however, the kingdom’s new policy of centralization, and its disengagement from the “comprehensive call to Islam,” resulted in a remodeling of IIROSA’s role in support of the kingdom’s diplomatic interests but marginalized and stripped of religious content.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Humanitarian Aid, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Persian Gulf
  • Author: Dlawer Ala'Aldeen
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: Ever since Saddam’s regime was toppled in 2003, Iraq has three competitive parliamentary elections in 2005, 2010 and 2014. In all of these, pre-election alliance building and post-election coalition building processes were fairly predictable given the confessional nature of Iraq’s political system. Essentially, the system is centered on a politically conventional power-sharing arrangement among the country’s three main ethno-sectarian powerhouses: Shi’ite Arab Muslims, Sunni Arab Muslims, and the Kurds. This arrangement has prompted small political parties to forge alliances with these confessional powerhouses. This time round, this trend is likely to continue in the upcoming elections scheduled on 12 May 2018, but perhaps on a smaller scale. What gravitates political entities are political expediency and nationalist sentiments. These two factors seem to be shaping and forming some alliances such as between secular and civil-minded parties, the Shiite Sadrist movement via Hizb Istaqama (the Integrity Party), and the Iraqi Communist party. On 22 January 2018, Iraqi legislators ratified a decision to hold much-debated anticipated parliamentary elections on 12 May 2018, thereby ending the stalemate by some lawmakers to postpone it. Iraq is at a crossroads, and much of what is at stake will depend on which of the 27 registered electoral alliances emerge as winners. The large number of alliances suggests that political entities are aware of the competitive advantages inherent to forming these, versus running independently. Indeed, because of Iraq’s particular parliamentarian arrangement, the 24 million eligible voters in the 18 national electoral districts, representing the country’s 18 governorates, will not be electing the next prime minister – they will, instead, be picking an electoral alliance, which will engage in post-election coalition building negotiations to nominate the prime minister and form the next government. While it is still premature to forecast the ultimate composition of the next government, it is most likely to be led by one of four viable options: Eitilaf al-Nasr (Victory Alliance) led by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi; Eitilaf al-Wataniya (National Alliance) led by former Prime Minister Ayad Alawi; Eitilaf Dawlat al-Qanun (State of the Law Alliance) led by former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki; and Tahaluf al-Fatah (Conquest Alliance) led by al-Hashd al-Sha’abi (Popular Mobilization Units) commander Hadi al-Ameri. However, given the unpopularity of Iraq’s political class, no single alliance is expected to win a majority of parliamentary seats, forcing the formation of a grand-coalition government. This, nevertheless, may help build broad-based support and legitimacy given Iraq’s oversized economic, security, and political challenges. Furthermore, the next election is expected to maintain the status quo due to the existence of potent structural forces inspired by political and electoral confessionalism. However, and encouragingly, the status quo may prove ephemeral in the face of internal divisions within the traditional confessional centers of power, the rising popular discontent with the quality of the existing democratic system and the limited progress it has made over the past fifteen years. It would be safe to say that an inclusive government can increase popular support, reduce the likelihood of ethno-sectarian civil war, minimise the influence of external powers, and bolster the nation’s attractiveness to foreign investors. In the long term, Iraq needs a government that is ambitiously reformist to transform the state’s political, electoral, and economic systems.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nationalism, Religion, Elections, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad, Kurdistan
  • Author: Assaf Orion, Amos Yadlin
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: At the strategic level, the convergence in time and space of the events following the chemical weapons attack in Duma by the Syrian regime portend a dramatic development with substantial potential impact for Israel’s security environment. The attack on the T4 airbase, attributed to Israel, falls within the context of the last red line that Israel drew, whereby it cannot accept Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria. The attack in Duma reflects the Syrian regime’s considerable self-confidence at this time. As for Trump, the attack provides him with another opportunity to demonstrate his insistence on the red lines that he drew and take a determined stance opposite Putin. Thus, Israel’s enforcement of its red line and the United States’ enforcement of its red line have met, while Russia finds itself exerting efforts to deter both countries from taking further action that could undermine its achievements in Syria and its positioning as the dominant world power in the theater. However, the strategic convergence does not stop at Syria’s borders, and is unfolding against the backdrop of the crisis emerging around the Trump administration’s demands to improve the JCPOA, or run the risk of the re-imposition of sanctions and the US exiting the agreement. Indeed, the context is even wider, with preparations for Trump’s meeting with North Korean President Kim on the nuclear issue in the far background. Therefore, the clash between Israel and Iran in Syria on the eve of deliberations on the nuclear deal could potentially lead to a change from separate approaches to distinct issues to a broader and more comprehensive framework with interfaces and linkages between the issues.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Hezbollah
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Asia, North Korea, Syria, North America
  • Author: Ephraim Asculai, Emily Landau, Daniel Shapiro, Moshe Ya'alon
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: Against the backdrop of the visit to Washington by President Macron and the scheduled visit by Chancellor Merkel in an effort to persuade US President Trump not to leave the JCPOA, this article zeros in on the key issues that need to be addressed by the allies. Guided by what is not only necessary but feasible at this late stage, the topics addressed include missiles, inspections, lack of transparency, sanctions, and the sunset provisions. Everything turns on political will – if it exists, agreeing to the proposed steps should not entail a lengthy process, and implementation can realistically begin in relatively short order. Significant results will mean the international community emerges with reinforced solidarity and a strengthened JCPOA. If negotiations progress seriously on this basis, it would make sense for the Trump administration to allow additional time beyond May 12 to complete them.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, North America
  • Author: Shimon Arad
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: In January 2018, the United States and Egypt signed a bilateral communications security agreement known as the Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA), which protects and regulates the use of sensitive American avionics and communications systems. This development now allows, for the first time, the acquisition by Egypt of US-made high precision GPS-based air-to-ground weapon systems and components, as well as advanced air-to-air missiles. Over the years, Israel’s concerns over the sale of large quantities of US weapon systems to Egypt were moderated by the quality cap dictated by the absence of a CISMOA agreement. Israel thus needs to raise this issue with Washington, within the context of the Qualitative Military Edge (QME) discussions. Given the unreliability of enduring stability in the Middle East, as exemplified by the events in Egypt since 2011, Israel should not disregard possible future scenarios in which its QME versus Egypt may matter. Based on the current convergence of security interests between Israel and Egypt, raising this issue with the US, though likely to upset Cairo, is not expected to undermine the practical manifestations of this relationship.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Military Strategy, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, North America, Egypt
  • Author: Eldad Shavit
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: In the May 6, 2018 elections in Lebanon, the Shia bloc led by Hezbollah succeeded in increasing its power in the parliament at the expense of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s party. Nevertheless, due to the country’s electoral system, the political status quo achieved in December 2016 will likely be maintained. The process of forming the government will once again reignite the power battle between Hezbollah and Iran on the one hand and al-Hariri and his supporters in Saudi Arabia and in the international community, mainly France and the United States, on the other hand. The election results will encourage Hezbollah to continue to consolidate its power and its ability to wield influence in the Lebanese political arena. The drive to promote this objective may also act as a restraining factor in the organization’s conduct vis-à-vis Israel. Therefore, at the present time, Hezbollah will presumably opt to continue to use Syria as its preferred theater for action against Israel.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Elections, Hezbollah
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon
  • Author: Shmuel Even
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: Israel’s exposure of the Iranian nuclear archive was an impressive and professional operation. It was meant to help prepare public opinion for President Trump’s statement and to make it more difficult for the other leaders who are party to the agreement and who are in no hurry to enter into a confrontation with Iran. In light of the importance of the great threat that Iran poses to Israel, the exposure operation was a vital step in a long struggle. The alternative of not exposing the material would have meant giving up the chance of using the information to create cognitive value and leaving it in the archives of the intelligence community.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, North America
  • Author: Alimar Lazkani
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: The Syrian Army has inherited a few of the norms and customs the French used for running army affairs following the French occupation. These did not include any provisions on regulating the army. After the Baa’th Party came to power, particularly after Hafez Assad had assumed office, the norms and customs guaranteeing minimum rights for army soldiers, non-commissioned officers, and officers faded gradually, leaving room for cronyism and allegiance to individuals and to the regime as the sole guarantor for the military to gain their rights. Leaders of military units became almost governors of their own units where nothing could take place without their blessings The Russians became fully in charge of the Syrian Army and started to instil rules and regulations that would ensure discipline and transform the army to a professional force capable of actual missions on the ground. Such rules included entrenching among Syrian soldiers, non-commissioned officers, and officers’ allegiance to Russian military officers and meant to subdue and prevent them from exercising their authority. This has established the Russians as the de facto leaders in the minds of members of the Syrian army. This has mainly shifted the responsibility for all the atrocities committed by the Assad forces under the Russian leadership to the Russians together with the regime’s officers and leaders. Despite their inability to make decisions, they are responsible, in terms of political structure and posturing, for all cases of genocide, chemical attacks, displacement, starvation and other violations. It has therefore become difficult in the Syrian context to separate between the Russian leadership and the Syrian Army, except in terms of differentiating between the leader and the follower, a divide that Russia has been working on consolidating in the media and in its diplomacy as an entity “assisting to achieve peace and combat terrorism”, while it undoubtedly deserves the description of “occupier” with its ability to run a lot of important issues on Syrian soil.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Genocide, Political structure, Military Intervention
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Michael Elleman, Mark T. Fitzpatrick
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Institute for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: Iran has the largest and most diverse ballistic-missile arsenal in the Middle East – could these systems one day be used to launch nuclear weapons? In a new report, IISS analysts Michael Elleman and Mark Fitzpatrick offer a detailed assessment of the design intentions behind each missile within Iran’s inventory. The result is a clear picture as to which platforms the United States and its allies should seek to remove, and which ones can be discounted. The common claim that Iran’s missile development must be stopped altogether because these systems could deliver nuclear weapons in the future rests on broad generalisations. While there is reason for concern, priority attention should be given to those missiles that might realistically be used for such a purpose, if Iran were to go down a perilous nuclear path. The international standard – but not treaty – for determining the inherent nuclear capability of missiles is the threshold developed in 1987 by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which seeks to forestall exports of missile systems able to deliver a 500kg payload a distance of 300km or more. Eight of Iran’s 13 current ballistic missile systems – the largest and most diverse arsenal in the Middle East – exceed this threshold and are thus deemed to be nuclear capable. The other five, all within the Fateh-110 family of missiles, are certainly lethal, especially when shipped to Hizbullah for use against Israel, but they are clearly not intended for nuclear use. Because capability does not equal intent, the MTCR guidelines should be just the first step in an assessment of Iran’s intentions for its missiles. When the United Nations Security Council drafted a new resolution in July 2015 to accompany the Iran nuclear agreement finalised that month, an element of intent was added to previous sanctions resolution language that prohibited launches of Iranian missiles that were ‘capable of delivering nuclear weapons’. The 2015 resolution calls upon Iran not to engage in activity concerning missiles ‘designed to be’ capable of delivering nuclear weapons. What it means ‘to be designed’ is undefined. Judging intent is partly subjective, but technical clues and intelligence information can guide analysis. The soundest approach is to disaggregate Iran’s various missile systems, and to assess design intentions on the basis of the technical capabilities and lineage of the different missiles.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Israel, North America
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
  • Abstract: There was general agreement that the JCPOA was a very positive solution to a complex issue, providing a constructive and peaceful way forward for the Middle East in particular, and the non-proliferation regime in general. The deal contained in the JCPOA is working as intended. Iran has been determined by the IAEA on multiple [6] occasions to be in full compliance with its obligations, and now has the most comprehensive safeguards and verification regime in history. World powers have followed through with some sanctions relief thereby aiding the Iranian economy. Furthermore, there have been other positive dimensions, including an effective joint commission process, greater transparency among parties, as well as communications and interactions taking place in a more positive atmosphere. At the same time, it was recognized that the deal is unstable: although the terms of the JCPOA were ring-fenced from the wider geopolitical environment of the Middle East, political manoeuvring can threaten its continued implementation. The spill-over of non-nuclear issues, often labelled under “Iranian behaviour”, should not be allowed to derail the process. It was noted in a positive sense that all the main candidates in the Iranian Presidential campaign have signalled their desire to continue with the JCPOA. However, several participants felt that some of Iran’s regional policies could undermine this, risking a negative reaction from the US and other states. Some argued that given Iran’s disputed compliance history with IAEA safeguards agreements (which even two years later remains heated) and, in general, the uneasy relations in the past between Iran and IAEA, it is important that Iran continue to strictly comply to the letter of the JCPOA. The US domestic context provides perhaps the greatest potential risk to the sustainability of the JCPOA. It was noted that President Trump may not, after all, ‘tear up’ the deal. The possibility was raised that, because many in his national security team were seen as hostile to Iran, any minor safeguards violation may be seized upon to terminate the deal. Such a hard-line approach could isolate the US from a global consensus and weaken its hand in other relevant matters. There is further danger that Congress could act alone in enacting a bill (of which many are on the table) that would be in contravention of the JCPOA. This possibility was considered unrealistic by some participants. Some details of Security Council resolution 2231 were seen as problematic in a number of ways: the explicit provisions on ballistic missiles were viewed as an unnecessarily punitive measure unrelated to the main goals of the JCPOA; equally, some of the inquiry and resolution mechanisms were seen by some as unbalanced. The JCPOA should in any case be understood as a temporary solution. Even though continuing to implement it effectively would build more confidence, ultimately trust between Iran and some Western states will likely never be high. However, the deal does hold the potential for transformative progress in Iran-US relations, pending further steps to de-escalate and normalize relations. Many of Iran’s neighbours worry that the remaining latent nuclear capacity has only delayed the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran down the road; at the same time, many regional states are also pursuing nuclear fuel cycle programs. The JCPOA should also offer the international community an opportunity to consider how to extend some measures indefinitely and extend them to other countries. Regional stability and non-proliferation could be enhanced by extending some of the JPCOA provisions to the Middle East and beyond it. As such, Pugwash should make efforts to convene and organize meetings to explore far-reaching initiatives that are in the spirit of the agreement; for example: initiatives to discuss ‘internationalizing’ the nuclear fuel cycle; forward-looking regional agreements, such as a threshold of uranium enrichment, a ban on plutonium reprocessing, or limits on stockpiles of LEU; innovative safeguards measures, such as advanced monitoring technology, enhanced access to centrifuge production facilities, or explicitly set times for snap inspections; further multilateral scientific and technical cooperation, such as the SESAME project.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Nuclear Power, Nonproliferation
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Nikolay Kozhanov
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Transatlantic Relations
  • Abstract: This paper is part of CTR's Working Paper Series: "Russia and the West: Reality Check." The current level of Russian presence in the Middle East is unprecedented for the region since the fall of the Soviet Union. Records of diplomatic and political contacts show increased exchange of multilevel delegations between Russia and the main regional countries. After 2012, Moscow has attempted to cultivate deeper involvement in regional issues and to establish contacts with forces in the Middle East which it considers as legitimate. Moreover, on September 30, 2015, Russia launched air strikes against Syrian groupings fighting against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Before that time, Russia had tried to avoid any fully-fledged involvement in the military conflicts in the region. It was also the first time when it adopted an American military strategy by putting the main accent on the use of air power instead of ground forces. Under these circumstances, the turmoil in the Middle East, which poses a political and security challenge to the EU and United States, makes it crucial to know whether Russia could be a reliable partner in helping the West to stabilize the region or whether, on the contrary, Moscow will play the role of a troublemaker.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Military Intervention, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Libya, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, United States of America, European Union, Gulf Cooperation Council
  • Author: Clare Castillejo
  • Publication Date: 09-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution
  • Abstract: The issue of inclusive peacebuilding has moved up the international agenda in recent years. There is now unprecedented policy-level commitment among the international community to promote inclusion in conflict-affected contexts; growing evidence of the importance of inclusion for sustainable peace and development; emerging lessons on best approaches for promoting inclusion; and a recognition among international actors of the need to learn from past weaknesses in this area. This report examines the current policy context for providing international support to inclusive peacebuilding. It identifies how international actors can strengthen their efforts to promote inclusion by learning from previous experience and drawing on new knowledge and approaches. It goes on to look at how international actors have supported inclusion in three very different conflict-affected contexts, Afghanistan, Somalia and Nepal, and asks how international actors have engaged on issues of inclusion in these contexts, what factors shaped this engagement, and what the results have been.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Africa, Middle East, Asia, Nepal, Somalia
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Regional Studies: CIRS
  • Abstract: The Red Star and the Crescent (Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2018) provides an in-depth and multi-disciplinary analysis of the evolving relationship between China and the Middle East. Despite its increasing importance, very few studies have examined this dynamic, deepening, and multi-faceted nexus. James Reardon-Anderson has sought to fill this critical gap. The volume examines the ‘big picture’ of international relations, then zooms in on case studies and probes the underlying domestic factors on each side. Reardon-Anderson tackles topics as diverse as China’s security strategy in the Middle East, its military relations with the states of the region, its role in the Iran nuclear negotiations, the Uyghur question, and the significance and consequences of the Silk Road strategy.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, Iran, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Dlawer Ala'Aldeen
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: This year is the 25th anniversary of the election of the first Parliament and government of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq(KRI). Thanks to the safe haven that the United States and its European allies created in 1991 to protect the displaced Kurdish population from Baghdad’s brutal attacks, the Kurds turned a crisis into an opportunity to build a forward-looking nation with democratic aspirations. The journey was a tough one, with many successes and failures, but U.S.-KRI relations grew stronger and developed into a mutually rewarding partnership. The United States continued to protect the Iraqi Kurds from Saddam Hussein’s regime in 1990s and ensured that they would have their fair share in the post-Saddam Iraq. The U.S. once again came to the rescue of the KRI in the face of the Islamic State (ISIS) onslaught in 2014 and continued its support to date. The Kurds have reciprocated with unreserved loyalty and solid support for U.S. policies in Iraq. Peshmerga forces became indispensable partners in the U.S.-led global coalition and instrumental in the ultimate military defeat of ISIS in Iraq. Some consider this KRI-U.S. partnership a tactical and temporary one, not only because ISIS is being defeated, but also because the United States will ultimately stop relying on the Kurds due to their inability, like the rest of Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries, to promote the rule of law and good governance, and to control corruption, which runs unacceptably deep. However, the U.S. and the KRI can prove otherwise. For a start, the United States continues to need strategic partners in the ever-changing Middle East, where its vital interests will remain at stake. In a region that is in turmoil and where terrorism is on the rise, the U.S. and Europe face much-reduced space, presence and leverage for driving and shaping events. Regional state and sub-state actors (like the KRI) have grown in influence across borders. A multitude of nonstate actors, legitimized or not, have become increasingly influential in driving events. The KRI, lying in the heart of the Middle East, is just what the United States needs, where it is most needed. The Kurds have proven themselves skillful and dynamic survivors in a conflict zone that is overwhelmed by powerful rivals. They have strong, collaborative, love-hate relations with the Shia political elite of Iraq. They share a long border with the previously ISIS-occupied Sunni Arab territories, where the challenge of stabilization is greatest. They accommodated the majority of the displaced Sunni Arabs and other ethnic and religious minorities during the ISIS war. Internationally, despite the complexity and sensitive nature of the Middle East’s politics, the political parties of the KRI have actively engaged and maintained relatively good neighborly relationships with both Iran and Turkey. Being a Muslim-majority country and having been part of Iraq, the KRI leaders have had unhindered access to most of the Arab countries. On the issue of KRI’s internal governance challenges, the United States can help a great deal via constructive engagement. The KRI, as a small, emerging nation, remains vulnerable in the world’s toughest neighborhood. This gives the U.S. plenty of leverage that it has never used effectively. In fact, the U.S. has the same kind of leverage with all of its allies in the Middle East but was never willing to use it in fear of negative reactions. On the contrary, the previous U.S. administration chose to almost totally disengage with the region, particularly Iraq, and virtually abandoned its obligation to spread the values of liberty and the rule of law in the Middle East. The consequences were disastrous, forcing the U.S. to return and face a war against the most radical of terrorists. It might be rare for politicians to request or accept conditional help, but the KRI leaders do when such requests come from trusted friends. They are, and have been, responsive to terms and conditions that are linked to good governance, designed to help their country become a better, stronger and more prosperous place. KRG leaders viewed these conditions as incentives and opportunities to reform. Many used them to convince their fellow leaders to endorse change. In short, tough love works with the Kurds and the United States should help the KRI become the partner it deserves, and the partner KRI deserves to be.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Sunni, Shia
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Kurdistan
  • Author: Yasir Kuoti
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: Relations between Iraq and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) have remained largely cold or nonexistent since the 2003 Iraq War, an outcome of the war itself that saw the empowerment in Iraq of Riyadh’s regional archrival, Iran. Since January 2017, however, bilateral relations improved considerably as Saudi officials flocked to Baghdad to meet Iraqi counterparts. Iraqi officials and public figures reciprocated, in speed, with their own visits to the KSA. The surprising rapprochement agenda have thus far resulted in, among other things, restoring Saudi diplomatic representation in Iraq, opening al-Jadidah Arar border-crossing on the Saudi northern borders with Iraq, and inaugurating the Saudi Arabia-Iraq Coordination Council, opening a new era of strategic ties between the two countries. Iraqi media now reports that the Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman will start an official visit to Iraq in November. In the process, he will become the highest-level Saudi official to do so since 1990. What explains the timing of this rapprochement policy?
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Trade and Finance, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Nancy Gallagher, Ebrahim Mohseni, Clay Ramsay
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM)
  • Abstract: Summary of Findings 1. Rouhani’s Re-election Seen as Endorsement of His Foreign Policy and JCPOA, Not Revolutionary Change There is no consensus among Iranians about what type of mandate Rouhani was given by the 57 percent of Iranians who voted to give him a second term. Fewer than 12 percent offered the same answer when asked an open-ended question. When presented with alternative interpretations, large majorities agree that Rouhani's re-election means that most Iranian people approve of his foreign policy and the nuclear deal he negotiated with the P5+1 countries. They disagree with the assertion that his re-election means most people disapprove of the ideals of the Islamic Revolution, or that they want religion to play a lesser role in policy making. 2. Approval of Nuclear Deal Increased during Presidential Campaign, Despite Disappointment with its Economic Benefit After steady declines in enthusiasm for the JCPOA prior to the May 2017 presidential election, approval of the agreement rose during the election process. Two in three Iranians approve of the agreement, while about a third oppose it. The agreement divides those who voted for Rouhani from those who did not. While eight in ten Rouhani voters approve of the deal, only four in ten of those who voted for Raisi approve of the agreement. Two years since the signing of the agreement, majorities believe that Iran has not received most of the promised benefits and that there have been no improvements in people’s living conditions as a result of the nuclear deal. A plurality thinks that the agreement for Iran to purchase passenger airplanes from the United States will likely have little impact on Iran’s economy. Still, there is some optimism that the deal will eventually improve people’s living conditions. 3. U.S. Seen as Actively Obstructive, Contrary to Commitment under JCPOA Most Iranians lack confidence that the United States will live up to its obligations under the JCPOA. They believe either that the United States is finding other ways to keep the negative effects of sanctions that were lifted under the deal, or that the United States has not even lifted the sanctions it was supposed to lift. A growing majority also believes that contrary to the terms of the agreement, the United States is trying to prevent other countries from normalizing their trade and economic relations with Iran. While a majority still express some confidence that other P5+1 countries will abide by the agreement, most say Europeans are slow in investing and trading with Iran primarily due to fear of punishment by the United States. 4. Majority Support Retaliation if U.S. Abrogates JCPOA Iranians expect President Donald Trump to be more hostile toward Iran than was former President Barack Obama. Seven in ten Iranians believe it likely that Trump may decide not to abide by the terms of the nuclear agreement. Attitudes about how Iran should respond if the United States violates the JCPOA have hardened: A clear majority now thinks that instead of taking the matter to the UN, Iran should retaliate by restarting the aspects of its nuclear program it has agreed to suspend under the JCPOA, if the United States abrogates the deal. A large majority see the new sanctions that Congress is likely to impose on Iran as being against the spirit of the JCPOA, with half saying it would violate the letter of the agreement as well. 5. No Appetite for Renegotiating the Nuclear Deal with Trump Large majorities say that Iran should refuse to increase the duration of the special nuclear limits it accepted under the JCPOA, or to terminate its nuclear enrichment program, even if offered more sanctions relief in return. 6. Majority Opposes a Halt to Missile Testing, Even in Return for More Sanctions Relief Over three in five say that Iran should continue testing ballistic missiles despite U.S. demands for Iran to halt such tests and find the proposition that Iran reduce testing missiles in return for the lifting of more sanctions unacceptable. Two thirds reject the notion that Rouhani’s re-election means most Iranians oppose testing of missiles by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). 7. Greater Support for Self-Sufficiency An increasing majority think Iran should strive to achieve economic self-sufficiency rather than focusing on increasing its trade with other countries. Six in ten say current changes in the world make it necessary for Iran to have a president who will stand up for Iran’s rights and refuse to compromise. Majorities reject offering various steps in exchange for more sanctions relief—steps such as Iran reducing its missile testing, or recognizing Israel, or ceasing its aid to the Syrian government and Hezbollah. Rejection of these steps is significantly lower, though, among those who think the nuclear deal has improved the living condition of ordinary Iranians. 8. Economy is Seen as Bad, and Reducing Unemployment is Given the Highest Priority Large majorities say Iran’s economic situation is bad, and less than a quarter think the economic condition of their family has improved over the last four years. Half think that the country’s economic situation is getting worse. Eight in ten say reducing unemployment should be a top priority for Rouhani in the next four years. 9. Rouhani Seen as Successful in Foreign Policy, not in Reducing Unemployment Majorities see Rouhani as being successful in improving Iran’s relations with other countries and getting international sanctions on Iran lifted. Majorities also see his re-election to mean that most Iranians approve of his foreign policy and the JCPOA. In fact, the nuclear agreement is regarded as Rouhani’s most important accomplishment during his first four years in office. Rouhani, however, gets low marks on the unemployment situation in Iran. Six in ten say he has been unsuccessful in reducing unemployment and half say he has thus far failed to improve the economy. 10. Rouhani's Reelection was Not Certain until Ghalibaf Left the Race Election polls were quite accurate in predicting the outcome of the election. Pre-election polls suggested that if Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf had been Rouhani’s main opponent rather than Raisi, the election results would have been much closer. After the second presidential debate, Rouhani was ahead of Ghalibaf by less than 6 percentage points, while his lead over Raisi was more than 20 points. While an overwhelming majority of Raisi supporters said that if Raisi pulled out they would vote for Ghalibaf, less than half of Ghalibaf supporters said they would vote for Raisi if their candidate pulled out. Indeed, when Ghalibaf pulled out of the race nearly half of his supporters switched to Rouhani and helped him pass the 50 percent threshold. 11. Turnout Helps Rouhani About a quarter of those who said they rarely vote in Iranian presidential elections reported that they voted in the May 2017 election, and seven in ten said they voted for Rouhani. Large majorities believe that both the Guardian Council and the Interior Ministry were fair and impartial as they fulfilled their election-related responsibilities. About five percent, however, say that they went to their voting stations but for one reason or another were not ultimately able to cast their ballots. 12. Rouhani and Zarif's Popularity Increase after Re-Election, but General Soleymani is Most Popular Political Figure The Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, is the most popular politician in Iran, with President Rouhani coming in second. Although Rouhani’s popularity increased somewhat during the recent election, it is still substantially lower than the first time he ran for office and after he signed the JCPOA. 13. Post-election Terrorist Attacks: ISIS Seen as Primary Culprit, but Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the United States Likely Helped A large majority of Iranians thinks that ISIS conducted the June 7 attacks in Tehran. Most Iranians also think that Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the United States probably provided guidance or support to the perpetrators. 14. Strong Support for Fighting ISIS, but Not for Collaboration with U.S. The June 7 attacks seem to have increased support for Iran playing a more active role in the Middle East. More than eight in ten call increasing Iran’s security a top priority; seven in ten say this about fighting ISIS and increasing Iran’s influence in the region. A growing majority of Iranians support their government helping groups that are fighting ISIS, although the number that favors sending troops has remained roughly constant. Two in three support Iran sending military personnel to Syria to help the Assad government against armed Syrian rebels, including ISIS. Support for Iran and the United States collaborating with one another to help Iraq’s government counter ISIS is at its lowest, with an increasing majority saying they would oppose such cooperation. 15. Views of P5+1 Countries Majorities regard Russia, China, and Germany—half of the P5+1—favorably, and the other half—the U.S., France and Britain—unfavorably. While six in ten believe that most P5+1 countries (but not the United States) will fulfill their obligations under the JCPOA, views toward all the Western powers that took part in the JCPOA negotiations are now less positive. Though a majority believes that Iran’s relations with European countries have improved as a result of the deal, only a quarter say that about the United States. Still, far from showing implacable hostility toward the West, a majority continues to think it is possible for the Islamic world and the West to find common ground.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Elections
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East