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  • Author: Kheder Khaddour
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Since the early days of the Syrian uprising in 2011, President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has made it a priority to keep state agencies running, allowing Assad to claim that the regime is the irreplaceable provider of essential services. Breaking the regime’s monopoly on these public services and enabling the moderate opposition to become an alternative source of them would weaken the regime and prevent the radical jihadist Islamic State from emerging to fill power vacuums across the country.
  • Topic: Civil War, Democratization, Islam, Governance, Sectarian violence, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Lina Khatib
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The self-proclaimed Islamic State is a hybrid jihadist group with a declared goal of establishing a “lasting and expanding” caliphate. Its strategy for survival and growth blends military, political, social, and economic components. Yet the U.S.-led international intervention against it has largely been limited to air strikes. The gaps in the international coalition’s approach as well as deep sectarian divisions in Iraq and the shifting strategies of the Syrian regime and its allies are allowing the Islamic State to continue to exist and expand.
  • Topic: Civil War, Islam, Terrorism, Insurgency, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Samuel Helfont
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The term “post-colonial” has presented a seminal problem for historians of the 20th century Middle East. As this essay will detail, debates over the term have provided an important axis around which discussions of political identity revolve. Following World War Two European power in the Middle East crumbled and a number of post-colonial states emerged. These states often justified their existence in terms of ideologies that were tied to specific post-colonial, political identities. Endless debates have occurred over how much emphasis to put on the post-colonial nature of these states and their political identities. In this essay, I will discuss whether a state’s status as post-colonial matters. If so, how? And what are the consequences? Following a general discussion of debates over post-colonialism, will look more closely at three case studies: Egypt, Iraq, and Iran.
  • Topic: Development, Islam, Nationalism, Post Colonialism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Dr. W. Andrew Terill
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: In an unexpected effort to protect a key Middle Eastern ally, the Kremlin intervened in Syria with military forces in late September 2015. This effort was undertaken to protect the Bashar Assad regime from Islamist and secular rebels now threatening his regime. Moscow initiated this action with a limited force that may be primarily designed to prevent Assad’s ouster but does not have the capabilities to help him retake large tracks of the country from the rebel groups that are now holding them. The Russian leadership made the decision to use military units in Syria at some political cost, aware that it was poisoning relations with many conservative anti-Assad Arabs and complicating its troubled relationship with Western powers.1 At some point, the Russians will have to consider the questions of how well these efforts have met their goal of bolstering the regime and what will be their next moves. They may also be rapidly faced with pressure to escalate their commitment to support the regime, if current actions do not produce meaningful results. They may also learn the painful lesson of other great powers, that military intervention in the Middle East is often much more problematic than national leaders initially expect.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Civil War, Islam, Politics, War, Military Strategy, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Cornelius Adebahr
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: After years of tension, sanctions, and deadlocked negotiations, Hassan Rouhani, Iran's relatively moderate new president, has provided an opening for improved relations between the Islamic Republic and the West. While Rouhani has not ushered in a new Iran, Tehran has adopted a more conciliatory tone on its nuclear program since he took office. This shift is more than just talk, but the West will have to carefully calibrate its response to determine whether Rouhani's changed rhetoric signals the beginning of a new direction for Iran.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Islam, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Robert D. Lamb, Sadika Hameed, Kathryn Mixon
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The United States has a number of interests and values at stake in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, or "South Asia" for the purposes of this analysis. But it also has a broader set of such concerns at stake regionally (in the greater Middle East, Eurasia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia)—and, of course, globally as well. Any long- term policy or strategy frame- work for South Asia needs to be built around the global and regional concerns that are most likely to persist across multiple changes in U.S. political leadership regardless of political party.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Foreign Policy, Islam, War, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia, Middle East, India
  • Author: Katherine Zimmerman
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Yemen is at a pivotal moment today, three years after the outbreak of popular protests, and the future of America's strategy against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is on the line. Yemen is in the midst of a political transition process that will eventually reform and decentralize the government. But the success of the effort is by no means assured. The reforms will not, in any case, address the deteriorating socioeconomic conditions that provide fertile ground for al Qaeda. Moreover, the central state, never fully able to exercise its sovereignty throughout the country, is weaker than it was before 2011. Opposition groups, which have turned to violence in the past, may still seek to form independent states of their own, potentially collapsing the fragile Yemeni state structure entirely. American interests are bound up in this process by the fact that AQAP is among the most virulent al Qaeda affiliates that poses a direct threat to the U.S. homeland. Syria, Iran, and other foreign and domestic policy issues are distracting the United States and its regional partners from sustained engagement in Yemen. Without international support, the country is much less likely to ride this transition process smoothly and our security interests will be severely harmed.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Danielle Pletka, Frederick W. Kagan, J. Matthew McInnis
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: A review of the soft-power strategies of both the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Middle East and Afghanistan makes clear a disturbing fact: Tehran has a coherent, if sometimes ineffective strategy to advance its aims in the Middle East and around the world. The United States does not. This project began with two tour d'horizon reviews of Iranian activities throughout areas Iran has, by its actions, defined as its sphere of influence. From the Persian Gulf through the Levant and into neighboring Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic has consistently invested in soft- and hard-power activities designed not only to extend its own influence but also to limit both American and hostile Arab aims. And while the latter part of the Ahmadinejad administration saw waning rewards for Tehran's efforts-a result more of the growing Sunni-Shia divide in the Middle East than of changes in strategy-the continued existence of a coherent Iranian strategy to dominate or destabilize the region should not be ignored. This report, the culmination of a process of both examining Iranian actions and surveying American policy, policy responses, and soft-power strategies in the region, focuses on the US side of the equation. Despite the Obama administration's commitment to replace hard power with smart power, what the United States pursues in the Middle East is a set of incoherent, ineffective, and increasingly irrelevant policies.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Islam, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Iran, Central Asia, Middle East
  • Author: Richard Youngs
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Politics in the Middle East are increasingly polarized and fragmented. The Arab Spring's citizen-led spirit of reform is still alive, but societies are increasingly torn apart by bitter tensions between Sunni and Shia, secular liberals and Islamists, and governments and civil society. As polarization has deepened, the concern with engaging in dialogue to bridge differences has intensified. The relationship between these mediation efforts and support for systemic reform will be a pivotal factor in the Middle East's future political trajectory.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Democratization, Islam, Regime Change, Governance, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Ahmed Ali
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Iraq's 2014 national elections are taking place at a difficult time. The country is at a crossroads, presented with the possibility of widely different futures. Deteriorating security conditions frame political thought in ways that harken back to Iraq's first national elections in 2005. The Iraqi state does not hold control of territory in some of Iraq's key political provinces, such as Anbar, Ninewa, and Diyala. The disenfranchisement of Iraq's Arab Sunnis; the rising threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS); and the activation of Ba'athist groups collectively discourage electoral participation.
  • Topic: Islam, Armed Struggle, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Marisa Sullivan
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Hezbollah's deepening involvement in Syria is one of the most important factors of the conflict in 2013 and 2014. Since the beginning of 2013, Hezbollah fighters have operated openly and in significant numbers across the border alongside their Syrian and Iraqi counterparts. They have enabled the regime to regain control of rebel-held areas in central Syria and have improved the effectiveness of pro-regime forces. The impact of Hezbollah's involvement in Syria has been felt not just on the battlefield, where the regime now has momentum in many areas, but also in Lebanon where growing sectarian tensions have undermined security and stability.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The controversial Hariri trial will unfold amid growing sectarian violence in Lebanon, the seemingly interminable war in Syria, and a longstanding political stalemate regarding Hezbollah's role in government.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Terrorism, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • 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: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The longer the war in Syria continues, the greater the threat these fighters will likely pose. Last week, ten Jordanian Islamists who were apprehended while attempting to join the jihad in Syria were sentenced by the State Security Court to five years of hard labor. And last month, Jordanian F-16 fighter jets destroyed a convoy purportedly carrying al-Qaeda-affiliated anti-Assad-regime rebels traversing the border from Syria. These "spillover" incidents are only the latest in a disturbing trend. Over the past year, reports of Jordanian Salafi jihadists have become routine, raising the specter of terrorism returning to the kingdom.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Border Control
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Jordan
  • 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: Nichole Dicharry
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: ISIS published images of Eid celebrations in Mosul showing kids and teenagers playing at a large carnival. The images also showed ISIS members handing out candy to children. This comes after residents from Mosul and ISIS reported that the organization launched a radio station in the city.
  • Topic: Islam, Governance, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Lina Khatib
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Long a minor regional actor in the shadow of Saudi Arabia, Qatar wants to increase its influence. But Doha's expansionist foreign policy has been plagued by miscalculations, domestic challenges, and international pressure—all issues connected to Doha's relationship with Riyadh. As a result of these setbacks, Qatar's regional role has diminished, and for the foreseeable future, its external influence is likely to remain under the direction of Saudi Arabia.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar
  • Author: Frederick W. Kagan, Kimberly Kagan, Jessica D. Lewis
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The Islamic State poses a grave danger to the United States and its allies in the Middle East and around the world due to its location, resources, the skill and determination of its leaders and fighters, and its demonstrated lethality compared to other al Qaeda-like groups. In Syria, the Assad regime has lost control of the majority of the state, and the regime's atrocities and sectarianism have fueled violent Islamists, particularly ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra (JN). In Iraq, the government has lost control over large portions of territory that the Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish Peshmerga are incapable of retaking without significant foreign support. The Sunni Arabs of Iraq and Syria are the decisive human terrain. Al-Qaeda and similar groups can only flourish in distressed Sunni communities. Any strategy to counter al-Qaeda requires working with these communities, as the U.S. and the Iraqi government did during the Awakening in 2007. Having neglected Iraq and Syria, the U.S. currently lacks the basic intelligence and contextual understanding to build a strategy. The U.S. must adopt an iterative approach that tests assumptions, enriches understanding, builds partnerships with willing Sunni Arabs, and sets conditions for more decisive operations.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Richard Weitz
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Until a few years ago, the relationship between Washington, DC, and Ankara, Turkey, was perennially troubled and occasionally terrible. Turks strongly opposed the U.S. 2003 invasion of Iraq and have subsequently complained that the Pentagon was allowing Iraqi Kurds too much autonomy, leading to deteriorating security along the Iraq-Turkey border. Disagreements over how to respond to Iran's nuclear program, U.S. suspicions regarding Turkey's outreach efforts to Iran and Syria, and differences over Armenia, Palestinians, and the Black Sea further strained ties and contributed to further anti Americanism in Turkey. Now Turkey is seen as responding to its local challenges by moving closer to the West, leading to the advent of a “Golden Era” in Turkish U.S. relations. Barack Obama has called the U.S.-Turkish relationship a “model partnership” and Turkey “a critical ally.” Explanations abound as to why U.S.-Turkey ties have improved during the last few years. The U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq removed a source of tension and gave Turkey a greater incentive to cooperate with Washington to influence developments in Iraq. Furthermore, the Arab Awakening led both countries to partner in support of the positive agenda of promoting democracy and security in the Middle East. Americans and Turks both want to see democratic secular governments in the region rather than religiously sanctioned authoritarian ones. Setbacks in Turkey's reconciliation efforts with Syria, Iran, and other countries led Ankara to realize that having good relations with the United States helps it achieve core goals in the Middle East and beyond. Even though Turkey's role as a provider of security and stability in the region is weakened as a result of the recent developments in Syria and the ensuing negative consequences in its relations to other countries, Turkey has the capacity to recover and resume its position. Partnering with the United States is not always ideal, but recent setbacks have persuaded Turkey's leaders that they need to backstop their new economic strength and cultural attractiveness with the kind of hard power that is most readily available to the United States. For a partnership between Turkey and the United States to endure, however, Turkey must adopt more of a collective transatlantic perspective, crack down harder on terrorist activities, and resolve a domestic democratic deficit. At the same time, Europeans should show more flexibility meeting Turkey's security concerns regarding the European Union, while the United States should adopt a more proactive policy toward resolving potential sources of tensions between Ankara and Washington that could significantly worsen at any time.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Ethnic Conflict, Islam, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Mohammed El-Katiri
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: As part of the radical political changes that have affected a number of Arab countries over the past 4 years, the toppling of regimes and the organization of the first fair and free elections in several Arab states have allowed Islamist parties to rise to power. This highly visible political trend has caused mixed reactions, both within these countries and internationally. Prior to the Arab Spring, most countries in the region banned Islamist movements from forming political parties. For decades, members of such movements were jailed, tortured, and exiled from their home countries. Even in those states where Islamist political parties were allowed, they had limited freedom and were under the scrutiny of the regimes, as was, for example, the Moroccan Justice and Development Party.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Democratization, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Jean-loup Samaan
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: For 7 years now, the border area between Israel and Lebanon has witnessed calm and stability. At first sight, this has all the appearances of a paradox. The 2006 war between the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and the Lebanese organization, Hezbollah, was followed neither by a peace agreement nor by a mere diplomatic process. Both sides prepared their forces to wage the next war and additionally have been confronted in past years to major changes in the distribution of power in the Middle East in the midst of the so-called “Arab Spring.”
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Richard Barrett
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: The self-styled Islamic State is an accident of history, emerging from multiple social, political and economic tensions in the Middle East and beyond. It has challenged the territorial divisions imposed on the region following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire by carving out for itself a large area of territory. But ultimately, its impact will flow as much from its challenge to established concepts of government, national sovereignty, and national identity. The Islamic State is most notable for the violence with which it asserts control, but its ruthless tactics will likely prevent the group from ruling effectively and building broader support beyond the front line fighters who protect its security and the authoritarian killers who patrol its streets.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Micah Zenko
  • Publication Date: 01-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Over the past decade, the use of unmanned aerial systems—commonly referred to as drones—by the U.S. government has expanded exponentially in scope, location, and frequency. From September 2001 to April 2012, the U.S. military increased its drone inventory from fifty to seventy-five hundred—of which approximately 5 percent can be armed. Yet despite the unprecedented escalation of its fleet and missions, the U.S. government has not provided a clear explanation of how drone strikes in nonbattlefield settings are coordinated with broader foreign policy objectives, the scope of legitimate targets, and the legal framework. Drones are critical counterterrorism tools that advance U.S. interests around the globe, but this lack of transparency threatens to limit U.S. freedom of action and risks proliferation of armed drone technology without the requisite normative framework.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Middle East
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Robert M. Shelala II
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The US faces major challenges in dealing with Iran, the threat of terrorism, and the tide of political instability in the Arabian Peninsula. The presence of some of the world's largest reserves of oil and natural gas, vital shipping lanes, and Shia populations throughout the region have made the peninsula the focal point of US and Iranian strategic competition. Moreover, large youth populations, high unemployment rates, and political systems with highly centralized power bases have posed other economic, political, and security challenges that the GCC states must address, and which the US must take into consideration when forming strategy and policy. An updated study by the CSIS Burke Chair explores US and Iranian interests in the region, Gulf state and GCC policies toward both the US and Iran, and potential flash-points and vulnerabilities in the Gulf to enhanced competition with Iran. This study examines the growing US security partnership with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE – established as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It analyzes the steady growth in this partnership that has led to over $64 billion in new US arms transfer agreements during 2008-2011. It also examines the strengths and weaknesses of the security cooperation between the southern Gulf states, and their relative level of political, social, and economic stability. The study focuses on the need for enhanced unity and security cooperation between the individual Gulf states. It finds that such progress is critical if they are to provide effective deterrence and defense against Iran, improve their counterterrorism capabilities, and enhance other aspects of their internal security.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Oil, Terrorism, Natural Resources, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Bryan Gold, Chloe Coughlin-Schulte
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Strategic Research and Analysis
  • Abstract: This report analyzes four key aspects of US and Iranian strategic competition - sanctions, energy, arms control, and regime change. Its primary focus is on the ways in which the sanctions applied to Iran have changed US and Iranian competition since the fall of 2011. This escalation has been spurred by the creation of a series of far stronger US unilateral sanctions and the EU's imposition of equally strong sanctions – both of which affect Iran's ability to export, its financial system, and its overall economy.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Islam, Nuclear Weapons, Oil, Regime Change, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Helle Malmvig
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: The Middle East regional security order is under rapid transformation. The Arab Uprisings and the Syrian War are changing not only the relationship between state and societies, but also some of the region's core norms and historical divisions. This report analyses key changes in regional security order the Middle East in the period after 2010. It identifies five key issues where regional order is changing: State-society relations Relations with the West and foreign policy posturing The impact of the Iran-Syria –Hezbollah Axis (the Resistance Front) and radical-moderate divide The Sunni-Shia rift and the rise of identity politics The Saudi-Qatar rivaling, and the role of the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Civil War, Islam, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria, Qatar
  • Author: Ali Murat Aydın
  • Publication Date: 02-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: What is corruption? Is it a plague on the modern state that should be avoided? Or is it a necessary engine oil which turns the turbines of a stopped-up bureaucracy? In the most basic denotation, corruption is the abusing of a public power by a public actor for the interest of an individual or a group in return for private interest. Governments are always confronted with difficulties in fighting corruption. The reason is the diversity of perception against corruption in each society. This research aims to compare the models of corruption in Turkish and French bureaucracy. When we consider the direct relation in structuring between the traditional Turkish bureaucracy and French bureaucracy, we can more simply understand the collateral relation of these two countries in their models of corruption. The most important problem confronted about corruption in Turkey and in France is the unlimited financing of political parties without a legal circumscription. In fighting against corruption, the two countries each have to exponentially unite their anti-corruption institutions in a single superior administration. This will lead to an advancement in efficiency in the fight against corruption. It should be kept in mind that, the ethic is not a divine or a holy concept. It's a public term. If we look at the problem from an ideal perspective, we have to obstruct the erosion of ethical values in the democratic systems in the name of efficiency and the market.
  • Topic: Corruption, Crime, Democratization, Development, Islam, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Walter Kemp, Jérémie Labbé, Lilianne Fan
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: As the situation in Syria continues to deteriorate, could the humanitarian crisis afflicting the country and its neighbors provide an entryway for regional cooperation? This policy paper examines how regional responses to humanitarian crises have succeeded or failed to meet humanitarian objectives in order to inform approaches to contemporary crises. It also assesses whether such regional responses contributed to strengthening regional integration and cooperation, paving the way for increased regional stability and an improved capacity to respond to emergencies. The report explores two different humanitarian crises: the war in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar in 2008. Examining the ways in which countries in each region and regional organizations addressed humanitarian needs, it draws a number of lessons that could be applied in contemporary crises: Regional ownership over the response is crucial, but not necessarily spontaneous. External actors can usefully contribute through a balanced mix of pressure and technical support. Preexisting regional organizations can provide a valuable institutional framework on which to build the response. An approach that focuses on the specific needs of the most vulnerable individuals can help to depoliticize discussions while strengthening trust among regional stakeholders. Complementary policy-level and expert-level processes can equip the response with both political commitment and regular working relationships for addressing tangible needs.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War, Humanitarian Aid, Islam, Regional Cooperation, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Yugoslavia, Syria, Myanmar
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Negotiations underway since late 2012 between Turkey's government and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) are stalling. A ceasefire announced on 23 March 2013 remains precarious, as maximalist rhetoric gains renewed traction on both sides. While the PKK should be doing more to persuade Ankara that it wants a compromise peace, the government has a critical responsibility to fully address the longstanding democratic grievances of Turkey's Kurds. One reason it frequently gives for its hesitation is fear of a nationalist backlash. In fact, the peace process has already demonstrated how willing mainstream Turks would be to accept steps towards democratisation. A much bigger risk for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), as it heads into a two-year cycle of local, presidential and parliamentary elections, would be if the three-decade-old conflict plunges into a new cycle of violence.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Islam, Peace Studies, Terrorism, Treaties and Agreements, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Turkey, Middle East, Kurdistan
  • Author: Alexey Malashenko
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Russia has spent over a decade trying to recapture the influence the Soviet Union once enjoyed in the Middle East, but President Vladimir Putin's attempts to position Moscow as a key regional player have come up short. With revolutions across the Arab world overturning old orders and ushering in Islamist governments, Russia's chances for strengthening its position in the region look increasingly slim. The Kremlin must change course and ensure that its approach to the Middle East and Islamists reflects post–Arab Spring realities.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, Post Colonialism, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Soviet Union, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: More than a decade into the “war on terrorism,” much of the political debate in the US is still fixated on the legacy of 9/11. US politics has a partisan fixation on Benghazi, the Boston Marathon bombing, intelligence intercepts, and Guantanamo. Far too much US attention still focuses on “terrorism” at a time the US faces a much broader range of threats from the instability in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) and Islamic world. Moreover, much of the US debate ignores the fact that the US has not actually fought a “war on terrorism” over the last decade, and the US failures in using military force and civil aid in Afghanistan and Iraq. The US has not fought wars as such, but rather became involved in exercises in armed nation building where stability operations escalated into national building as a result of US occupation and where the failures in stability operations and nation building led to insurgencies that forced the US into major counterinsurgency campaigns that had little to do with counterterrorism. An analysis of the trends in the Iraq and Afghan conflicts shows that the US has not been fighting a war on terrorism since Bin Laden and Al Qaida Central were driven into Pakistan in December 2001. The US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and then made stability operations and armed nation building its key goals. It was US mishandling of these exercises in armed nation building that led to major counterinsurgency campaigns although – at least in the case of Afghanistan --the US continued to label its military operations as a struggle against “terrorism.” By 2013, the US had committed well over $1.4 trillion to these exercises in Afghanistan and Iraq. At the same time, the US made massive increases in its domestic spending on homeland defense that it rationalized as part of the fight against terrorism but often had little or nothing to do with any aspect of counterterrorism. At the same time, the US failed to develop consistent or useful unclassified statistics on the patterns in terrorism and its counterterrorism activities. The US government has never provided a meaningful break out of federal activities and spending at home or abroad which actually focus on terrorism, or any unclassified measures of effectiveness. The OMB has lumped a wide range of activities that have no relation to terrorism it its reporting on the President's budget request – activities whose total cost now approach $60 billion a year. The Department of Defense has never provided a meaningful estimate of the total cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, or a break out of the small portion of total overseas contingency operations (OCO) spending actually spent on counterterrorism versus counter insurgency. The State Department and US intelligence community provide no meaningful unclassified data on the cost of their counterterrorism effort and it is unclear that they have developed any metrics at any level that show the cost-benefits of their activities. The annual US State Department country reports on terrorism come as close to an unclassified report on the status of terrorism as the US government provides. While many portions are useful, the designation of terrorist movements is often political and shows the US designation of terrorist movements conflates terrorism and insurgency. The closest the US has come to developing any metrics on terrorism has been to develop an unclassified database in the National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC) that never distinguished terrorism from insurgency. This database formed the core of the statistical annex to State Department reporting, but has since been withdrawn without explanation. As this analysis shows in detail, it now has been replaced by a contractor effort that makes all of the previous mistakes made by the NCTC. The end result is a set of official reporting and statistics in the annex to the State Department report where “terrorism” remains remained poorly defined, badly structured, ignored in parts of the world, and conflates terrorism with counterinsurgency, instability, and civil war. A review of the Afghan, Iraq conflicts, and other recent conflicts in the MENA region shows just how serious these problems are in distorting the true nature of the wars the US is fighting and the threats it faces. The same is true of the unclassified reporting the US government provides on terrorism. A detailed review of the most recent State Department report on terrorism provides important insights into key terrorist movements, but the narratives generally ignore their ties to insurgent movements, their statistical data include some major insurgent movements and exclude others, and many of the data seem to include violence that is not truly terroristic in character.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Nicholas S. Yarosh, Chloe Coughlin-Schulte
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The political dynamics and violence that shape the current series of crises in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) – and daily events in Bahrain Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia, Syria, and Yemen – dominate the current course of virtually every aspect of these states including much of the current course of violence and instability in the region. Political dynamics and the current levels of, however, are only part of the story.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Development, Economics, Islam
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Libya, Yemen, Arabia, North Africa, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Bahrain, Tunisia
  • Author: Matt Bryden
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Somalia marked a milestone in September 2012 with the establishment of a new federal government that has since won the support and recognition of the international community. After more than 20 years of conflict, crisis, and statelessness and 12 years of ineffectual transitional authorities, the Somali federal government (SFG) has been widely welcomed as Somalia's first “post-transition” government. It has been greeted with such a groundswell of optimism that many observers, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, have drawn parallels with the “Arab Spring” that has transformed parts of the Middle East. It is tempting to imagine that Somalia is finally on the path to recovery.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War, Development, Islam, Fragile/Failed State, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Arabia, Somalia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Robert M. Shelala II, Omar Mohamed
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Yemen is the most troubled state in the Arabian Peninsula. It remains in a low - level state of civil war, and is deeply divided on a sectarian, tribal, and regional level. A largely Shi'ite Houthi rebellion still affects much of the northwest border area and has serious influence in the capital of Sana and along parts of the Red Sea coast. Al Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) poses a threat in central Yemen, along with other elements of violent Sunni extremism, there are serious tensions between the northern and southern parts of Yemen, and power struggles continue between key elements of the military ruling elite in the capital and outside it.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Foreign Policy, Islam, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Nur Laiq
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: The political landscape of the Arab world has undergone dramatic changes since 2011, the effects of which will continue to reverberate into the foreseeable future. The overthrow of authoritarian rule in Tunisia by popular protest was followed by the collapse of longstanding regimes in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen, leading many to celebrate a new dynamic between citizen and state in the Arab world. In late 2013, the situation looks quite different. The first democratically elected president in Egypt has been deposed, hundreds of his supporters killed, and the Muslim Brotherhood banned. In Tunisia, parliament has been suspended; two politicians have been assassinated; and a campaign calling for the ouster of the Islamist-led government has gained momentum. In both countries, the population is divided and the anciens régimes fight to restore the old order. Will the ideals that sparked revolution be subsumed by counterrevolution? Or will the trajectories of revolution bend toward democratic consolidation?
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Regime Change, Youth Culture, Popular Revolt
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Yemen, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Nicholas Rostow
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: Transitional justice is the provision of justice in the transition from one form of government, often perceived as illegitimate, unjust, and tyrannical, or an anarchic society, to one that observes the rule of law and administers justice. It also is about choices: how to allocate scarce prosecutorial, judicial, police, and prison resources. The goal is to make the rule of law ordinary. A 2004 report of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General on the rule of law and transitional justice in conflict and postconflict societies observed that most examples of transitional justice involved states emerging from civil war or widespread civil unrest such that government became impossible.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Islam, Peace Studies, Treaties and Agreements, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, United Nations, Syria
  • Author: John W. Parker, Michael Kofman
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: Russia's institution of a ban on American adoptions of Russian orphans, an appalling response by the Duma to U.S. sanctions against officials involved in the Sergei Magnitsky case,1 was a clear indicator that bilateral relations will assume a lower priority in the next 4 years for both capitals. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the measure despite open misgivings by some of his own key aides and against the opposition of most of Russia's civil society. The Russian Internet response was scathing, producing an instant winner for best sick joke of 2012: “An educated American family has decided to adopt a developmentally disabled Duma deputy.”.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Islam, Nuclear Weapons, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: The plight of Syrians living as refugees in neighbouring countries has been documented on many levels. Accurately assessing their needs is vital to ensure that the aid essential for their survival is provided. However, the majority of studies have focused on primary needs, with most evaluations employing rapid techniques of data gathering and analysis, which rely on second-hand information and formal records. Oxfam commissioned the Beirut Research and Innovation Center (BRIC) to carry out a wide survey investigating in detail refugees' perceptions of both their current situation and their future prospects. The survey's aim is to paint a bigger picture of the long-term conditions and needs of Syrian refugees living in Lebanon.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Health, Human Rights, Humanitarian Aid, Islam, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Nelly Lahoud
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: This report analyzes jihadi discourse in the wake of the "Arab Spring" to address two related questions: (1) why have global jihadi leaders been struggling to advance a coherent and effective response to the events of the Arab Spring, and (2) why, despite strong rhetoric of militancy, have we witnessed little action on the part of new jihadi groups that have emerged in countries that underwent regime change (i.e., Tunisia, Egypt and Libya) as a result of the Arab Spring? To answer these questions, this study focuses on original Arabic sources in the form of public statements released by global jihadi leaders in response to the Arab Spring and by new groups projecting a jihadi worldview that have emerged in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. It reveals that the factors that are causing the current ideological incoherence of jihadism are the same factors that had once served as the cornerstone of its plausibility in the eyes of its adherents.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Diplomacy, Islam, Armed Struggle, Regime Change, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Arabia, North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Paul Salem
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: A decade after Saddam Hussein's fall, Iraq still lacks a centralized foreign policy that advances its national interests. Internal divisions, such as those between the Shia-dominated regime in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government in Erbil, have given rise to alternative power centers with their own policy priorities. Iraqi foreign policy will remain disjointed and incoherent until Baghdad resolves the issues polarizing the country.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Islam, Oil, Governance
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Henner Fürtig
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: The 1979 Iranian Revolution undoubtedly belongs to the "great" revolutions of modern times – all of which were characterized by universalistic efforts and the claim to have set new social, political and cultural norms with global validity. In this sense, the Iranian revolutionaries felt the obligation to actively reintroduce Islam as a revelation for the whole world, not only for Muslims. Yet, they soon became aware that most Muslims viewed their export strategy as either an attempt to enforce Shiism, or – even worse – to conceal mere national megalomania. Therefore, the current leadership argues that the revolution should no longer be exported actively, but that Iran should serve as an example. Consequently, Supreme Leader Khamenei called the events of the Arab Spring a "natural enlargement of Iran's Islamic revolution of 1979" and credited his country for being the catalyst of this "Islamic awakening." The present article will analyze selected regional reactions to the Islamic awakening concept, which did not altogether meet Iranian expectations.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Development, Islam, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Elizabeth Ferris, Osman Bahadir Dinçer, Vittoria Federici, Sema Karaca, Kemal Kirisci, Elif Özmenek Çarmikli
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Strategic Research Organization (USAK)
  • Abstract: On April 29, 2011, the first Syrian refugees crossed the border into Turkey. Two years later, the country hosts some 600,000 Syrian refugees—200,000 of them living in 21 refugee camps with an additional 400,000 living outside of the camps (see charts 1 and 2 below). These estimates, reported by both the Turkish government and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), are conservative. Indeed, officials working directly with refugees on the ground suggest that the number living outside of the camps may be as high as 800,000.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Humanitarian Aid, Islam, Migration, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Ali Hussein Bakeer
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Strategic Research Organization (USAK)
  • Abstract: This report seeks to evaluate the current situation of Syria through a carefully considered analysis. It aims to navigate safely through at times a conflicting myriad of information disseminated on the media and the Internet and make a projection about the future of the Syrian state as well as describing the various scenarios that may result.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Islam, Regime Change, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: David W. Lesch
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: This is the final report of the Harvard-NUPI-Trinity Syria Research Project (HNT). The project is sponsored by Harvard Negotiation Project at Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA), the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (or NUPI, Oslo, Norway), and Trinity University (San Antonio, Texas, USA).
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Insurgency, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Stephen Wicken
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The political participation of the Sunni Arab minority in Iraq is critical to the security and stability of the state. At present, they are functionally excluded from government, with those that do participate coopted by the increasingly authoritarian Shi'a Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Without effective political representation, the Sunni in Iraq are left with few alternatives to address their grievances against the Maliki government. The important decisions lie ahead on whether to pursue their goals via political compromise, federalism, or insurgency.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Insurgency, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Julie Elisabeth Pruzan-Jørgensen
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Islamic women's activism may appear a contradiction in terms to many Western audiences accustomed to presentations of Islam as counterproductive to the promotion of women's empowerment and the situation of women more generally. Yet in the Arab world (and beyond) many different groups and individuals – as scholars, as charity and welfare providers, and as religious or political activists – work to empower women based on Islamic arguments and references.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Islam, Politics, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Ebru Oğurlu
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Over the last few years, the Eastern Mediterranean has been increasingly fraught with growing competition between regional players, most notably Turkey, Cyprus, and Israel, signalling an apparent return of power politics in regional relations. Of all actors involved, Turkey stands out for being both an ever more influential power and a source of serious concern to other countries in the region due to its greater assertiveness and perceived hegemonic ambitions. Against the backdrop of recent regional developments and their international implications, including the dispute over drilling rights off Cyprus' coasts, Turkey's image as a constructive and dialogue-oriented country, a critical achievement pursued by a generation of Turkish politicians, diplomats and officials, risks being replaced by one of an antagonistic/assertive power. Facing the first serious challenge to its claim to embody a benign model as a secular Muslim democracy and a responsible international actor, Turkey should not indulge in emotional reactions. It should opt instead for a more moderate and balanced approach based on the assumption that only cooperation and constructive dialogue, even with rival countries, can help it realize its ambition of being the regional pivot.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization, Development, Islam, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, Israel, Greece, Asia, Colombia, Cyprus
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Since it assumed power after Hosni Mubarak's ouster, the performance of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has been, at times, head-scratching. Extolled in the wake of the uprising as the revolution's protector, many have come to view it as an agent of the counter-revolution. It often has been obstinate, before abruptly yielding to pressure. It values its long ties with Washington, from which it receives much assistance, but seemed willing to jeopardise them by targeting U.S.-funded NGOs. Suspected by Islamists of seeking to deprive them of opportunity to govern and by non-Islamists of entering a secret pact with the Muslim Brotherhood, it finds itself in the worst of both worlds: an angry tug-of-war with liberal protesters and a high-wire contest with Islamists. It displays little interest in governing, wishing instead to protect privileges, but erratic behaviour threatens even that. On the eve of presidential elections that have become a high-stakes free-for-all, the SCAF should take a step back and, with the full range of political actors, agree on principles for a genuine and safe political transition.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Islam, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: As political upheavals spread over much of the Middle East and North Africa in 2011, regimes throughout the region were shaken and a few fell. But in both the West Bank and Gaza, a soft authoritarianism that has provoked uprisings elsewhere has only been further entrenching itself.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Democratization, Education, Islam
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Gaza, Cameroon
  • Author: Ibrahim Saif, Muhammad Abu Rumman
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Islamist parties have gained newfound political power across the Arab world. Four parties in particular—Tunisia's Ennahda, Egypt's Freedom and Justice Party, Morocco's Justice and Development Party, and Jordan's Islamic Action Front—have either made a strong showing at the ballot box or are expected to in upcoming elections. Their successes have dredged up fears about their political and social ambitions, with worries ranging from the enforcement of sharia law to the implications for Western tourists on these countries' beaches. Meanwhile, the parties' economic platforms have largely been overlooked, despite the serious challenges that lie ahead for the economies of the Arab world.
  • Topic: Corruption, Democratization, Islam, Political Economy, Regime Change, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Any estimate of energy risk is highly uncertain. The reality can vary sharply according to national and global economic conditions, politics, war, natural disasters, discoveries of new reserves, advances in technology, unanticipated new regulations and environmental issues, and a host of other factors.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Energy Policy, Islam, Oil
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Nicolas Pelham
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: When the West Bank and Gaza first split between two rival Palestinian governments in 2007, Western governments promised to turn the West Bank under President Mahmoud Abbas, their Fatah protégé, into a model state and reduce Gaza under its Islamist rulers, Hamas, to a pariah. Almost five years on, the tables have turned. While the West Bank slips into economic and political crisis, Gaza is fast reviving. Abbas finds himself bereft of a political horizon for achieving a two-state settlement and the state-building experiment of his prime minister, Salam Fayyad, has reached an impasse. Gaza's economy, by contrast, has grown strongly under Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, who is experiencing a wave of increasing popularity, as Hamas looks to tie the enclave ever more closely to the political economies of North Africa, where the Arab awakening is bringing affiliated Islamist movements to power. A recent agreement signed in the Qatari capital, Doha, between Abbas and Hamas's exiled leader, Khalid Meshal, is intended to heal the split between Palestine's two halves. Under the agreement, the separate governments governing Gaza and the West Bank would be replaced by a single technocratic government under Abbas, which is a radical about-turn on the part of the exiled Hamas leadership that Hamas politicians in Gaza find difficult to swallow. For its own reasons, Israel too rejects the agreement. With so many previous attempts at intra-Palestinian reconciliation ending in failure and so many obstacles dogging this latest round, the prospects for the Doha agreement remain bleak, but not beyond the realm of the possible.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Islam, Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: André Bank, Roy Karadag
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: In 2006/2007 Turkey became a regional power in the Middle East, a status it has continued to maintain in the context of the Arab Spring. To understand why Turkey only became a regional power under the Muslim AKP government and why this happened at the specific point in time that it did, the paper highlights the self-reinforcing dynamics between Turkey's domestic political-economic transformation in the first decade of this century and the advantageous regional developments in the Middle East at the same time. It concludes that this specific linkage – the “Ankara Moment” – and its regional resonance in the neighboring Middle East carries more transformative potential than the “Washington Consensus” or the “Beijing Consensus” so prominently discussed in current Global South politics.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, Regime Change, Governance
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Turkey, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Martin Beck, Simone Hüser
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This article deals with the Arab Spring as a process of deep political change in the Arab world, previously the only major world area where authoritarianism persisted unchallenged for decades. While in various countries of the Arab world mass protests in 2011 forced rulers to resign, other authoritarian regimes have – despite political and economic pressure – so far been able to remain in power, or have even been only insignificantly affected. This paper applies central social science approaches in order to analyze recent developments in the region – a major task of theoretically oriented social sciences in the coming years. In addition to providing an overview of the existing literature on the Arab Spring, the article examines the empirical results of political diversification in the Arab world. A two ‐ by ‐ two matrix of political rule that differentiates according to the type of rule and the degree of stability is presented and discussed. Although the analysis draws heavily on rent theory, it also applies findings from transition theory and revolution theory to illuminate the current political dynamics in the Middle East.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Islam, Regime Change, Governance, Hegemony
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Rouzbeh Parsi (ed)
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: This Chaillot Paper examines recent domestic developments in the Islamic Republic of Iran. It presents an in-depth assessment of the profound changes that the Iranian state and Iranian society have undergone in the past three decades, with a particular focus on the last tumultuous five years. In its exploration of this theme it not only shows the growing rift between the official discourse and self-image of the ruling elite and the society they govern, but also highlights the fact that external observers have many misperceptions about Iran.
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Nuclear Weapons, Political Economy, Governance, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Austin Long
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies
  • Abstract: War is fundamentally a clash of organizations. Organizations provide the vital mechanisms that mobilize and convert resources into combat power as well as applying that combat power against the enemy. This is true not only of conventional militaries, but also of insurgent and terrorist groups. Organizational capacity is thus a crucial determinant of success in conflict. Stephen Biddle, for example, attributes heavy causal weight for success in modern conventional military conflict to the relative capacity of military organizations to employ a set of techniques he terms “the modern system.” Philip Selznick argues that organization is equally crucial for success in political combat, where subversion of other organizations is as important as brute force.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Austin Long
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies
  • Abstract: The possibility of Israeli military action against the Iranian nuclear program has existed since at least 2002. However, beginning in the fall of 2011, Israeli rhetoric and international concerns about military action against Iran have reached unprecedented levels. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak began to proclaim that Iran was nearing a “zone of immunity” to Israeli attack and therefore Israel would have to act soon. In contrast, former heads of Israel's foreign and domestic intelligence services question the utility of such an attack.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Diplomacy, Islam, Nuclear Weapons, Sanctions, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Simon Henderson, Olli Heinonen
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: At a time of hot debate over possible military action against Iran's nuclear program, the need for a clear understanding of the issues and the controversial science and technology behind them has never been more acute. Toward that end, scholars from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs have copublished an interactive online glossary of terms used in the discussion about Iran. The report was prepared by proliferation expert Simon Henderson and Olli Heinonen, former deputy director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Covering the jargon and history behind IAEA inspections, centrifuge enrichment, basic nuclear physics, and early nuclear weapons development in Pakistan and the United States, the glossary provides an indispensable guide to an increasingly complex problem.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Defense Policy, Islam
  • Political Geography: Iran, Washington, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: There they went again–or did they? The war between Israel and Hamas had all the hallmarks of a tragic movie watched several times too many: airstrikes pounding Gaza, leaving death and destruction in their wake; rockets launched aimlessly from the Strip, spreading terror on their path; Arab states expressing outrage at Israel's brute force; Western governments voicing understanding for its exercise of self-defence. The actors were faithful to the script: Egypt negotiated a ceasefire, the two protagonists claimed victory, civilians bore the losses.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Islam
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Egypt
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: The papers included in this report relate to a conference co-hosted by the New York University Abu Dhabi Institute, the NYU Center on International Cooperation (CIC) and the Brookings Institution on 21-22 February in Abu Dhabi on “The Use of Force, Crisis Diplomacy and the Responsibilities of States.”
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Democratization, Islam, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Frank Lin
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: The 2012 American presidential election features two candidates, incumbent President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney, with contrasting foreign policy visions for the United States, particularly with regards to the Middle East. How could these differences between the two candidates affect bilateral relations between the United States and Turkey, which—aside from Israel—is generally seen by the United States as its most stalwart ally in the Middle East? This paper will examine the recent history of bilateral relations between Turkey and the United States, from the George W. Bush administration to the Obama administration, as well as current issues surrounding relations between the two countries. It will also explore how the predicted policies of each candidate could impact the future course of bilateral relations between Turkey and the United States.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Kathleen Kuehnast, Hodei Sultan, Manal Omar, Steven E. Steiner
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In transitioning countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, women are increasingly finding their rights limited by state and religious leaders. Cultural and national stereotypes can be quickly overcome by the shared backgrounds, accomplishments, obstacles, and aspirations of women in transitioning countries. Women living in countries in transition value opportunities to network with women from other countries in similar situations. Women leaders from Afghanistan and Iraq have genuine concerns about the challenges facing women in the Arab Spring. Their valuable opinions are based on their own experiences of overcoming those challenges. It is essential that women work together and with men to further women's rights. Women must plan for a transition before it happens and have a strategy of work going into the transition process. Laws empowering and protecting women do not work if they are not enforced. International donors need a long-term view of women's programming, as much of the required work will take time. Donors should consider nonurban areas when working with women, and when possible nonelite partners, as these leaders understand the limitations of local conditions. It is possible for women's groups to find common ground with religious leaders.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Development, Gender Issues, Islam, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Abstract: In 2012 Western sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran's oil and gas industry, aimed at putting economic pressure on it to change its nuclear policy, have reached an unprecedented level. Since the Iranian revolution in 1979, Iran has been in a state of hostility with the US, and has had cool relations, at best, with most European states. Sanctions against official Iranian financial institutions, individuals associated with the Islamic Republic and organisations suspected of being involved in nuclear proliferation activities have been mounting for some time. However, it is only recently that Iran's oil and gas sector has been specifically targeted by both the US and the EU in such a co-ordinated manner. Importantly, this marks the first time since the foundation of the Islamic Republic of Iran that the EU member states have collectively put in place sanctions on the export of Iranian crude oil—until now an action that, with a few exceptions, had only been taken by the US. The stakes have therefore been raised in Iran's confrontation with Western powers over the nuclear issue.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Islam, Oil, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Bulent Aliriza, Bülent Aras
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The partnership between the United States and Turkey, which traces its origins to the Cold War, has gone through constant adjustment since the beginning of the post–Cold War era.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Islam, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Central Asia, Turkey, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Liechtenstein Institute on Self Determination, Princeton University
  • Abstract: The Liechtenstein Institute on Self Determination at Princeton University convened a special Colloquium, “Diplomacy from the Mediterranean to the Hindu Kush: A Holistic and Proactive Approach” in Triesenberg, Principality of Liechtenstein, April 19-22, 2012. The colloquium brought together over seventy participants, including senior representatives, experts, academics, and civil society representatives from Austria, Azerbaijan, the European Union, Germany, Georgia, France, Iran, Israel, Liechtenstein, Russia, Qatar, Switzerland, Syria, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Participants engaged in both plenary and working group discussions about ways to address the four key issues: crisis diploma - cy with Iran; the ongoing crisis in Syria; Afghanistan in transition; and preventing the escalation of crises in this macro region. This was the third LISD-sponsored colloquium on developments in the Mediterranean to Hindu Kush region since the Arab Spring. The colloquium was off the record according to Liechtenstein Colloquium rules, and was financially supported by LISD, The House of Liechtenstein, the Government of the Principality of Liechtenstein, and the SIBIL Stiftung in Vaduz. The Colloquium was chaired by Wolfgang Danspeckgruber, Director of LISD. This chair's summary includes an updated postscript.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Arms Control and Proliferation, Islam, Nuclear Weapons, War, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Russia, Iran, Middle East, France, Arabia, Germany, Syria, Qatar, Austria
  • Author: Mustafa Kutlay, Osman Bahadir Dinçer
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Strategic Research Organization (USAK)
  • Abstract: The aim of this study is to assess Turkey's capacity as a regional power in the Middle East. Within this context, emphasis has been placed on the structural components of Turkey's growing regional influence.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Islam, Political Economy, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Strategic Research Organization (USAK)
  • Abstract: Türkiye'de kritik enerji altyapi unsurlari (KEAU) güvenligini mercek altina yatirarak mevcut durumu tespit etmek, bu konuda farkindalik yaratmak ve sorunlar ile çözüm önerilerini kamuoyunun ve yetkili birimlerin dikkatine sunmak amaciyla bir çalisma yapilmistir. Nitekim, "Kritik Enerji Altyapi Güvenligi Projesi" adli bu çalismanin tüm boyutlarini ve detayli sonuçlarini içeren bir rapor hazirlanmistir.
  • Topic: Development, Energy Policy, Islam, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Elizabeth O'Bagy
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: This report examines the presence of jihadist groups within Syria, explains where various Syrian rebel groups and foreign elements operating in Syria fall along the spectrum of religious ideology, and considers their aggregate effect upon the Islamification of the Syrian opposition. The Syrian conflict began as a secular revolt against autocracy. Yet as the conflict protracts, a radical Islamist dynamic has emerged within the opposition. There is a small but growing jihadist presence inside Syria, and this presence within the opposition galvanizes Assad's support base and complicates U.S. involvement in the conflict. Internally, Assad has used the threat of jihadists within the opposition to build support for the regime among the Alawite and Christian communities. It has also served to discourage middle and upper class Sunnis from joining the opposition. Externally, Russian and Iranian leadership have consistently pointed to the presence of radical Islamists as a critical rationale for their support of the Assad regime. Compared to uprisings in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, the opposition in Syria faces a much greater threat of jihadist infiltration. Many jihadi elements now operating in Syria are already familiar with the terrain, having been sponsored by the Assad regime for over three decades. These jihadi elements turned against their former regime allies in 2011 and are now cooperating with local jihadists. Moderate political Islam is not incompatible with democratic governance. However, ultraconservative Sunni Islamists, known as Salafists, envision a new world order modeled on early Islam that poses a significant threat to both democracy and the notion of statehood. Salafi-jihadists are those who commit to violent means to bring about the Salafi vision. It is difficult to distinguish between moderate Islamists and Salafi-jihadists in the context of the Syrian civil war. Assad's security solution transformed the largely peaceful uprising into an open civil war, and now even political Islamists and Syrian nationalists are engaged in violent means. Additionally, the mainstream use of jihadi iconography by non-Salafist rebel groups distorts perceptions about their ideologies and end-goals. It is significant to draw the distinction in order to understand which Islamist opposition groups are willing to work within a state system. hh The vast majority of Syrians opposing the regime are local revolutionaries still fighting against autocracy; while they are not Islamists, in the sense that their political visions do not depend upon Islamic principles, they espouse varying degrees of personal religious fervor. There are also moderate Islamists operating within the Syrian opposition, including those who comprise rebel groups like Suquor al-Sham and the Umma Brigade, who are typified by a commitment to political Islam that is compatible with democracy. hh On the more extreme end of the spectrum are groups like Ahrar al-Sham, which is comprised of conservative Islamist, and often Salafist, member units. Ahrar al-Sham's leadership espouses a political Islamist ideology, though it is clear that the group has attracted more radical and extreme elements of the opposition including many Salafi-jihadists. The brigade also has notable ties to Syria's indigenous jihadist organization, Jabhat Nusra. Al-Qaeda's direct involvement in Syria has been exaggerated in the media. However, small al-Qaeda affiliated networks are operating in the country, including elements of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abdullah Azzam Brigades, Fatah al-Islam and Jordanian Salafi-jihadists. Rather than sending large numbers of operatives, these networks are providing operational support, including trainers and bomb makers, in order to capitalize on the instability in Syria and expand their influence in the region. Jabhat Nusra, Syria's homegrown Salafi-jihadist group, has important links to al-Qaeda affiliates and demonstrates a higher level of effectiveness than many other rebel groups. Jabhat Nusra has demonstrated sensitivity to popular perception and they are gaining support within Syria. The emergence of indigenous Salafi-jihadist groups such as Jabhat Nusra is far more dangerous to the long-term stability of the Syrian state than foreign jihadist groups because it represents a metamorphosis of a Salafi-jihadist ideology into a domestic platform that is able to achieve popular resonance. The U.S. cannot afford to support groups that will endanger Syria's future stability. However, if the U.S. chooses to limit its contact with Islamist groups altogether, it may alienate a majority of the opposition. Identifying the end goals of opposition groups will be the key to determining whether their visions for Syrian governance are compatible with U.S. interests. The U.S. Government has cited concern over arming jihadists as a reason for limiting support to the Syrian opposition. However, U.S. allies are already providing material support to the Syrian opposition, and competing sources of funding threaten Syria's future stability by enhancing the influence of more radical elements. The confluence of jihadist interest with that of the Gulf states raises the possibility that these states may leverage jihadists for their own strategic purposes, while simultaneously limiting Western influence. In order to counter this effect, the U.S. should seek to channel this support in a way that bolsters responsible groups and players while ensuring that Salafi-jihadist organizations such as Jabhat Nusra are unable to hijack the opposition movement. If the U.S. hopes to counter this threat and stem the growing popularity of more radical groups, it must clearly identify secular and moderate Islamist opposition groups and encourage the international community to focus resources in support of those groups alone. Such focused support would increase the influence of moderate opposition groups and undercut the appeal of Salafism in Syria.
  • Topic: Islam, International Security, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Border Control
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Libya, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Sam Wyer
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: This report examines the political, religious, and military resurgence of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) in Iraq since the withdrawal of U.S. Forces, identifying the group's key actors, their present disposition and strategy, and their regional expansion. AAH is an Iranian-backed Shi'a militant group that split from Moqtada al-Sadr's Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM) in 2006. Since that time, AAH has conducted thousands of lethal explosively formed penetrator (EFP) attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces, targeted kidnappings of Westerners, rocket and mortar attacks on the U.S. Embassy, the murder of American soldiers, and the assassination of Iraqi officials.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Sam Wyer
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Since the withdrawal of U.S. Forces from Iraq in December 2011, the rate and lethality of attacks against civilian targets have steadily risen. Most notably, there have been seven major attack waves, defined here as a series of simultaneous and coordinated attacks that target at least 10 cities within one day. The attacks targeted a combination of security posts, government facilities, and Shi'ite shrines and neighborhoods. The Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), an umbrella organization formed in 2006 for many Sunni insurgency groups including al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), has claimed credit for a large majority of these attacks.3 This summer has seen a further alarming development with the announcement of ISI's "Destroying the Walls" campaign.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Clint Watts
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The attacks of September 11, 2001 spawned a decade of al Qaeda inspired radicalization of disaffected Middle Eastern and North African youth and a handful of young Western men. Ten years later, foreign fighters to Afghanistan, Iraq and other jihadi battlefields appear to be declining while in contrast analysts have pointed to an uptick in United States (U.S.) based “homegrown extremism” - terrorism advocated or committed by U.S. residents or citizens.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Daniela Pioppi
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: It is a common place in the literature that the Muslim Brotherhood (jama'a al-ikhwan al-muslimin) is - after its re-emergence on the political scene back in the seventies - the main (if not the only) real, organised and mass-based opposition force in Egypt. Events in Egypt in January 2011 have recast attention on this question. This paper aims to evaluate, inasmuch as it is possible, the state of health of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) today, after forty years of coexistence with the Egyptian (neo)-authoritarian regime. Has the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood represented a real alternative to the incumbent regime? Or it is more correct to speak today in terms of an almost 'functional' opposition, tamed by recurring political repression and limited freedom of action? To what extent has the Muslim Brotherhood been able to shape or at least to influence the Egyptian political and social agenda, both with respect to the regime and to other opposition forces?
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The recent Israel-Hamas escalation returns a spotlight to Gaza and the Islamist movement's relationship with more militant organisations. Gaza arouses multiple concerns: does Hamas seeks to impose religious law; has its purported Islamisation stimulated growth of Salafi-Jihadi groups; and will al-Qaeda offshoots find a foothold there? Hamas faces competition from more radical Islamist groups, though their numbers are few, organisation poor, achievements against Israel so far minor and chances of threatening Gaza's government slight. The significance of Gaza's Salafi-Jihadis is less military capability than constraints they impose on Hamas: they are an ideological challenge; they appeal to members of its military wing, a powerful constituency; through attacks within and from Gaza, they threaten security; by criticising Hamas for not fighting Israel or implementing Sharia, they exert pressure for more militancy and Islamisation. The policy of isolating Gaza and ignoring Hamas exacerbates this problem. As the international community seeks new ways to address political Islam in the Arab upheaval's wake, Gaza is not the worst place to start.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: Barbara Freyer Stowasser
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: Time is essential to the very structure of Muslim communal life. Times of ritual and worship of Muslim obligation are regulated according to celestial events, both lunar and solar, meaning that they are always place-specific and are seasonally adjusted on a daily basis. The sun measures the day with its four daylight prayers and—by the length of its absence—also controls the fifth, the night prayer. The moon measures the months and so also the year with its seasons of ritual celebrations. The Islamic calendar is an essential but oft-forgotten institution that has held the Islamic world together over wide geographic distances and for well-nigh a millennium and a half. One of its greatest advantages may have been that it was so low maintenance. By adopting a strictly lunar calendaric system, the beginnings (and thereby the ends) of the twelve months of the year, and therefore the year as a whole, could be determined empirically, anywhere, by way of sighting of the new moon that signaled a new month's beginning.
  • Topic: Islam, Political Theory, Culture
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Andre Le Sage
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: The United States faces an important strategic question in northwest Africa: what level of activity by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) would constitute a sufficient threat to U.S. national security interests to warrant a more aggressive political, intelligence, military, and law enforcement response? AQIM already poses the greatest immediate threat of transnational terrorism in the region, and its operational range and sophistication continue to expand. Since 2007, the group has professed its loyalty to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda's senior leadership and claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks in the subregion. These attacks have included the use of suicide bombers, improvised explosive devices, kidnapping operations, and assassinations.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: All political forces in Egypt seem to agree: The country's premier religious institution, al-Azhar, must be made more independent from the regime. But that agreement is deeply misleading; it masks a struggle within al-Azhar and among leading political forces over its role in Egyptian society. Part mosque, part university, part center of religious research and knowledge, al-Azhar is perhaps the central—and certainly the most prestigious—element in the state-religion complex in Egypt.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Katherine Didow, Jinnyn Jacob
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: In January 2011, protests started in Tunisia and Egypt, sparking a string of uprisings in the Muslim world, with consequences yet unknown. These monumental shifts caught many politicians, academics, journalists and pollsters by surprise. As world leaders scramble to formulate policy to confront these new realities, there is an urgent need for accurate and relevant public opinion data on the Muslim world.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Leila Stockmarr
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: The emergence of new Islamist groups challenging Hamas from within is demarcating a new tendency towards inter-Islamist rivalry in Gaza. Based on original empirical data this report maps the Islamist milieu in Gaza. It offers a critical examination of how Hamas has governed Gaza since 2007 and why new Islamist groups in Gaza have emerged. The report argues that the phenomenon of new Islamists is diffuse and intangible. It does, however, relate to the question of the ideological price of governing in Palestine, and the repercussions of Hamas' rule and external policies upon the Islamist milieu in Gaza where, for the first time, an Islamist political body is in power. Two major aspects are motivating the emergence of new Islamist agendas: people's ideological grievances towards those in power and the instrumentalisation of ideology and religion in the midst of a power struggle between an increasingly authoritarian political body and its dissidents and challengers. In the face of governments which are failing to deliver, non-organised religious activity has become political power in Gaza.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: F. Gregory Gause III
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: There is arguably no more unlikely U.S. ally than Saudi Arabia: monarchical, deeply conservative socially, promoter of an austere and intolerant version of Islam, birthplace of Osama bin Laden and fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers. Consequently, there is no U.S. ally less well understood. Many U.S. policymakers assume that the Saudi regime is fragile, despite its remarkable record of domestic stability in the turbulent Middle East. “It is an unstable country in an unstable region,” one congressional staffer said in July 2011. Yet it is the Arab country least affected in its domestic politics by the Arab upheavals of 2011. Many who think it is unstable domestically also paradoxically attribute enormous power to it, to the extent that they depict it as leading a “counterrevolution” against those upheavals throughout the region. 2 One wonders just how “counterrevolutionary” the Saudis are when they have supported the NATO campaign against Muammar al-Qaddafi, successfully negotiated the transfer of power from Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen, and condemned the crackdown on protestors by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, and how powerful they are when they could do little to help their ally Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Islam, Oil, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Joshua Himes
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The Arab Spring has fomented increasing uncertainty in the Middle East, a circumstance in which Iran's regional intentions are of increasing concern. U.S. attempts to isolate the regime are driven by concerns over Iran's nuclear program, the enduring energy chokepoint at the Strait of Hormuz, and Iran's export of radical Shi'a militancy through proxy groups across the region, particularly as it affects Iraq, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon.
  • Topic: Islam, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Lisa Wedeen
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: The issue of state fragility and the presence of radical religious movements in Yemen have occasioned misperceptions and confusions in recent debates about the country. This report argues that the language of “failed states” arises nearly exclusively in relation to countries deemed threatening to US security interests. Moreover, this language obscures rather than reveals how regime incentives to build state institutions can be incompatible with regime interests in survival. The result is that a seemingly neutral analytical category misrepresents local realities even while it is used as a warrant for policy initiatives that are likely to be counterproductive.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Terrorism, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Ahmed Abdelkareem Saif
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: Yemen's problems have frequently been ascribed to neocolonialism, regional politics and domestic power struggles. Though these factors are contributory, they are only the tip of the iceberg. The real problems are endemic and deeply rooted in the nature of society and the evolution of the state. Although modern political institutions exist in Yemen, such as a supreme court, parliament, political parties, trade unions and a free press, these institutions do not necessarily operate as might be expected. In fact, what exists in Yemen is merely a despotic authority, where decision-making usually takes place outside the formal institutions. The weakness of the state limits its capacity to penetrate society, creating a void that has been filled by intermediaries who benefit from the regime's durability. These intermediaries also play a crucial role in the survival of the regime by controlling the peripheries.
  • Topic: Islam, Post Colonialism, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Deborah Horan
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: National Endowment for Democracy
  • Abstract: Media in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are freer than they were a decade ago, with a proliferation of satellite television news channels leading the way. Arab newscasts cover events in real time, sometimes scooping their Western competition with spot news coverage of regional conflicts. Talk shows regularly stir controversy by airing contentious views, breaking social taboos, and giving regional platforms to political opposition groups. Government-run media have been forced to compete or lose audiences. Yet most governments in the MENA region have managed to retain a tight grip on media, whether through the arbitrary application of restrictive and vague press laws, limits on media production, or a kinship, political, or business relationship with media owners. There are exceptions, and transnational news channels generally operate under fewer constraints than local broadcasts. But only three Arab countries, for instance, were ranked “partly free” for media by Freedom House in its 2009 Freedom of the Press index; the rest remained “not free.” Similarly, the International Research Exchanges Board (IREX), in its 2006/2007 Media Sustainability Index (MSI) for the Middle East and North Africa, found that media freedom in a majority of Arab countries had worsened or remained stagnant since a 2005 survey; only in five of the 18 countries surveyed had media freedoms slightly improved.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Islam, Mass Media
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Turkey is launching initiative after ambitious initiative aimed at stabilising the Middle East. Building on the successes of its normalisation with Syria and Iraq, it is facilitating efforts to reduce conflicts, expanding visafree travel, ramping up trade, integrating infrastructure, forging strategic relationships and engaging in multilateral regional platforms. For some, this new activism is evidence that Turkey is turning from its traditional allies in Europe and the United States. In fact, its increased role in the Middle East is a complement to and even dependent on its ties to the West.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Islam, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown, Amr Hamzawy
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The Muslim Brotherhood, the dynamic Islamist movement that has tried to navigate Egypt's semi-authoritarian system for over six decades, is facing a shrinking political space. For most of the past decade, the Brotherhood has expanded its political role, increasing from 17 to 88 members of Egypt's 620-member People's Assembly. Its success has brought increasing repression from the government. A range of measures have limited the Brotherhood's effective-ness in the People's Assembly, preventing it from forming a political party. This environment has led the movement to prioritize internal solidarity over parliamentary activities and refocus efforts on its traditional educational, religious, and social agenda. While the Brotherhood is unlikely to renounce politics altogether, the movement's center of gravity is shifting toward those who regard it as distracting, divisive, and even self-defeating.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Sarah Grebowski, Amr Hamzawy
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Recognition by Egypt's leading Jihadists that violence has failed to achieve political change and in fact has been counterproductive has led them to a remarkable change of course.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Sarah Phillips
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: News that the failed Christmas Day attack on a U.S. passenger jet was tied to al-Qaeda elements in Yemen prompted questions of whether the fractious Arab state might give rise to a Taliban-style regime. For its part, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has stated its intent to achieve “our great Islamic project: establishing an Islamic Caliphate” but it is vulnerable to the threat that Yemen's tribes may ultimately find its presence a liability.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Taliban, Yemen, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The June 2009 swearing in as prime minister of Saad Hariri, leader of the Sunni Future Current movement, marks a turning point, the end of a period of exceptional domestic political turbulence and regional tensions that began with the 2005 murder of his father, Rafic; led to institutional paralysis; and culminated with the violent May 2008 showdown between government and opposition. It also presents the new leader with a host of novel challenges. The man who took the helm of a once deeply divided Sunni community must discard much of what enabled his rise, if he is to succeed now that he is in power. With Hizbollah, the principal Shiite movement, he must move away from the sectarianism that has become Lebanon's political stock-and-trade. The Future Current should initiate the process of becoming a more genuine, institutionalised party, breaking from the clientelism that will otherwise inhibit the prime minister's transition from community leader to statesman. And Hariri must continue to navigate the difficult normalisation with Syria, over coming deep mistrust among his constituency toward Damascus.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics, Governance, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Irfan Shahid
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: The tragic events of Black September, 2001, the year that opened the twenty-first century and the third millennium, more popularly called 9/11, is now a landmark in American history that is deeply carved in the psyche of the American people and is annually perpetuated by commemorative anniversaries. It practically destroyed the bridges that had been constructed between America and the Arab-Muslim world. What had been America's main adversary in the Cold War, namely Communism, has now become the Arabs and the Islamic world, which, ironically, had been America's allies against Communism.
  • Topic: International Relations, Islam, Terrorism, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Of all the explanations why calm has prevailed in the Israeli-Lebanese arena since the end of the 2006 war, the principal one also should be cause for greatest concern: fear among the parties that the next confrontation would be far more devastating and broader in scope. None of the most directly relevant actors – Israel, Hizbollah, Syria and Iran – relishes this prospect, so all, for now, are intent on keeping their powder dry. But the political roots of the crisis remain unaddressed, the underlying dynamics are still explosive, and miscalculations cannot be ruled out. The only truly effective approach is one that would seek to resume – and conclude – meaningful Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Lebanese peace talks. There is no other answer to the Hizbollah dilemma and, for now, few better ways to affect Tehran's calculations. Short of such an initiative, deeper political involvement by the international community is needed to enhance communications between the parties, defuse tensions and avoid costly missteps.
  • Topic: Islam, Armed Struggle, Hegemony, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Tehran, Arabia, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Lars Erslev Andersen
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Following the July 2005 London terrorist attacks the focus of anti-terrorism efforts has moved towards radicalisation within European societies and away from the conflicts in the Middle East and South Asia. This report argues that this shift in focus is based on a misconstrual of al-Qaida as it mistakes effect for cause. Based on an examination of the communication strategy of al-Qaida and the political rhetoric of Salafism the need for an analysis of militant Salafism in its political and societal context is demonstrated. The radicalisation theory is criticised and it is argued that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the increased focus on efforts to counter radicalisation within European societies more or less have failed because al-Qaida has been able to exploit this strategy and reorganise itself around an operational centre in Pakistan. The report concludes that only politically viable solutions in South Asia and the Middle East can effectively suppress al-Qaida and militant Salafism.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Mass Media, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Europe, South Asia, Middle East
  • Author: Marie-Louise Koch Wegter, Karina Pultz
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: In 2003, the Danish government launched the Partnership for Dialogue and Reform (PDR) with the dual objective of 1) establishing a basis for improved dialogue, understanding and cooperation between Denmark and the Arab region; and 2) supporting existing local reform processes in the Middle East and North Africa. With the first objective, which is the focus of this study, PDR was intended to demonstrate the trivialization of Huntington's thesis of a clash of civilizations that Al Qaeda, only few years before, had brought back to the limelight of international politics and endeavoured to prove. PDR was to show populations in Europe and the Arab world that there was indeed a strong, shared agenda between the so-called West and the mother-region of the Islamic world and that mutual misconceptions and prejudice could be overcome through the joined pursuit of this agenda of progress.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Islam, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Arabia, Denmark, North Africa
  • Author: Carolin Goerzig
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: Despite the clear necessity of an inclusive approach that involves all relevant actors, the Middle East Quartet (comprising the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia) has made political and financial cooperation with the Palestinian Authority dependent on the recognition of the three Quartet principles — the recognition of Israel, the renunciation of violence and adherence to previous diplomatic agreements — in exchange for the recognition of a Palestinian government. But instead of compelling Hamas to consider compliance, the Quartet principles have in fact led the group to become more entrenched in its defiant stance. There is a fundamental problem with the three Quartet conditions. While decision-makers proclaim that the three principles come as a package and are inseparable, it is precisely the fact that they are so interlocked and that Hamas is required to comply with them simultaneously that makes compliance problematic. This is the case because the three principles are mutually constraining to such an extent that complying with one principle effectively prevents Hamas from complying with another. Originally, the three Quartet principles were intended as a basis or a framework for a potential peace process. They define the conditions a negotiating partner has to fulfil in order to take part in Middle East peace talks. In reality, however, they have acted as an impediment. This paper seeks to find a way of overcoming the constraints that the EU has imposed upon itself by insisting on simultaneous adherence to the three Quartet principles. It looks at what room for manoeuvre there remains for the EU within the framework of the Quartet conditions and at how they can be modified in such a way that they facilitate rather than obstruct compliance.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Politics, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, United Nations
  • Author: Djavad Salehi-Isfahani
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Young people in Iran have emerged as important players on the country's political scene but remain marginal on its economic scene. They were a vital part of President Khatami's political base and contributed to his landslide victories at the polls, in 1997 and 2001. In June 2009 they again played a key role, this time in challenging President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's controversial reelection, which led to massive anti-government protests in the nation's largest cities. A year later the political crisis appears to have subsided, but the economic crisis that has engulfed the country since early 2008 has deepened, and with it the crisis facing Iran's youth. Youth unemployment is at record high levels and, for the majority of youth, marriage and family formation are increasingly becoming challenges to overcome rather than celebrations of reaching adulthood.
  • Topic: Islam, Labor Issues, Youth Culture
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: A.J. Racy
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: Throughout history, the emotional power of music has concerned philosophers, scientists, educators, moralists, and musicians. Growing up in a small rural village in southern Lebanon, I observed such power first hand. When the mijwiz (a double-pipe reed instrument) was played, traditionally using the technique of circular breathing, I saw the local listeners succumb to the instrument's magic spell. Its irresistible Dionysian ethos seemed to compel them to sing and dance. Some villagers maintained that the mijwiz enabled the shepherds, who often played it, to entrance their goats and make them stand still and listen. As an ethnomusicologist who specializes in music of the Middle East, especially of the Arab world, I have come across other similarly compelling cases of musical transformation. When singers chanted their poetry at medieval Abbasid courts in Baghdad, the listeners, including the caliphs themselves, displayed a variety of strong reactions, including moving their feet, dancing, sobbing, weeping, and tearing their garments—or in some cases listening to the performers attentively and bestowing upon them lavish compliments. Meanwhile, medieval Arabic treatises, which in the ancient Greek tradition often treated music as a science, left us ample writings about music's extraordinary cosmological associations and therapeutic effects. And for the Sufi mystics, music and dance became an integral path to transcendence, or the attainment of spiritual ecstasy.
  • Topic: Islam, Arts, Culture
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Lebanon
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Yemen's Committee for Religious Dialogue was established in September 2002. It was an innovative and timely step undertaken by the Yemeni Government towards terrorist rehabilitation. This report seeks to document the lessons learnt from the ICPVTR delegation's visit to Yemen from 17 to 21 July 2010. The visit sought to get an in-depth understanding of the rehabilitation efforts by the Religious Dialogue Committee that was founded by the Minister of Endowment and Guidance of Yemen, Judge Hamoud Al-Hitar. In addition, the visit also aimed at understanding the role of other Yemeni agencies in their efforts to combating terrorism.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Prematurely and exaggeratedly highlighted by the regime, belatedly and reluctantly acknowledged by the opposition, the presence of a powerful Salafi strand among Syria's rebels has become irrefutable. That is worrisome, but forms only part of a complex picture. To begin, not all Salafis are alike; the concept covers a gamut ranging from mainstream to extreme. Secondly, present-day Syria offers Salafis hospitable terrain – violence and sectarianism; disenchantment with the West, secular leaders and pragmatic Islamic figures; as well as access to Gulf Arab funding and jihadi military knowhow – but also adverse conditions, including a moderate Islamic tradition, pluralistic confessional make-up, and widespread fear of the kind of sectarian civil war that engulfed two neighbours. Thirdly, failure of the armed push this past summer caused a backlash against Salafi groups that grabbed headlines during the fighting.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Jelle Puelings
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: During the last five years, and more specifically since the US invasion of Irak, different Sunni policy makers and religious actors have ventilated their concern for what they see as the rise of Shiite Islam. Although the condemnation of Shiism by more rigorous currents such as Wahhabism is hardly new, recently different governments in the Middle East have taken concrete measures against Shiite actors. The same 'Cold War scenario' the region witnessed immediately after the Iranian Revolution seems to appear again, making Arab Sunni voices reverberate up to Western policy makers, who start to worry themselves about the role of Iran and its allies. In this paper we will try to give an evaluation of this alleged shift in the Sunni-Shi`a power balance, and point out the possible consequences for Belgium and the EU emanating from this controversy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, Bilateral Relations, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Arabia, Belgium
  • Author: Marisa Cochrane Sullivan
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: This backgrounder provides an update on the political landscape in Iraq on the eve of parliamentary elections. The paper begins with a brief overview of the electoral process. The second part of the backgrounder documents the Shi'a, Sunni, and Kurdish political landscapes. This paper concludes with some considerations on the post-election period of government formation.
  • Topic: Islam, Armed Struggle, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: On 31 January, Iraqis will head to the polls in fourteen of eighteen governorates to elect new provincial councils. The stakes are considerable. Whereas the January 2005 elections helped put Iraq on the path to all-out civil war, these polls could represent another, far more peaceful turning point. They will serve several important objectives: refreshing local governance; testing the strength of various parties; and serving as a bellwether for nationwide political trends. In several governorates, new parties or parties that failed to run four years ago may oust, or at least reduce the dominance of, a handful of dominant parties whose rule has been marred by pervasive mismanagement and corruption. This in itself would be a positive change with far-reaching consequences as the nation braces for parliamentary elections later in 2009.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Civil War, Democratization, Ethnic Conflict, Islam, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia