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  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: On 5 June 2017, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt, in marked succession, cut diplomatic relations with Qatar. Within a matter of hours, it became clear that this was not simply a move to sever ties, but a plan for a full embargo, an unprecedented step at a time of peace between these nations. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain blocked flights to Qatar, closed land and sea borders, and ordered Qatari citizens out of their countries while calling on their own nationals to leave Qatar. The same day, Maldives, Mauritius (though it later denied the news), the Libyan Tobruk-based government (which is not recognised internationally), and the Yemeni government based in Riyadh followed suit and cut ties with Qatar, unable to resist Saudi pressure. The next day, Jordan downgraded diplomatic relations with Qatar and revoked the licence of Al Jazeera’s bureau in Amman, while Mauritania severed diplomatic relations with Qatar. Mauritius, in an official statement, denied it had cut ties, raising questions of whether some party took the initiative on behalf of the Mauritian government. The actions taken at dawn on 5 June were the culmination of an unprecedented, anti-Qatar media blitz initiated by Emirati, Saudi, Bahraini and Egyptian media on the evening of 23 May. The campaign intensified until it assumed official imprimatur with the decision to cut ties and blockade Qatar. What, then, is happening to relations between countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)? After Gulf leaders came together in a scene of friendship, cooperation and solidarity during US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, why are relations between three GCC states and Qatar deteriorating so rapidly and in such unprecedented fashion? Was there an immediate cause that spurred Saudi Arabia and its partners to take this stance, or were these actions planned in advance? Is this simply a fleeting crisis in relations between GCC states, or could the break persist?
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: Abstract It appears from his decision to replace Abdelilah Benkirane with Saadeddine Othmani as head of the government that Moroccan King Mohammed VI does not want to deviate from the requirements of the constitution and democratic methods. He is attempting to use his constitutional powers to find an acceptable solution to end the stalemate and form a government. Othmani has succeeded in reaching a tentative agreement to form the government and is likely to succeed in its formation and leadership. However, he will head a heterogeneous government afflicted by many contradictions, which may implode if it falls under excessive pressure. The government would then be in crisis, which it would have to overcome with a cabinet reshuffle to avoid a complete collapse, especially given the strong position of the king who wants the Justice and Development Party to continue leading the government in future.
  • Topic: Democratization, International Affairs, Governance
  • Political Geography: Morocco
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: Abstract The commander of Operation Dignity, Khalifa Haftar, shocked supporters even more than his opponents when he agreed to meet the Chairman of the Presidential Council, Fayez al-Sarraj, in Abu Dhabi on 2 May 2017, having previously refused to recognise him. This about-face may be attributable to the acquiescence of Haftar’s regional allies to direct international pressure. Reactions to the rapprochement between al-Sarraj and Haftar varied across the eastern and western fronts. Khalifa Haftar’s status in the east precludes serious opposition to his decisions, while in the western region a substantial segment of the population blessed the meeting in hopes that a détente would stop the deterioration of the security and economic situation. In contrast, western political and military factions were incensed, and some responded violently. Haftar’s acceptance of consensual agreement and reconciliation clearly grows out the waning possibility of assuming control of the country through decisive military action. From his standpoint, it therefore makes sense to attempt to impose his conditions through negotiations, which means the Skhirat agreement could collapse or undergo radical revisions.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Libya
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: The Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey has officially announced that the Yes camp has won the constitutional amendments by just over 51 per cent, in contrast to the camp rejecting the amendments which received just over 48 per cent, although these results are not yet final. Surprisingly, an overwhelming majority of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), though its leadership and the majority of its parliamentary bloc supported the amendments, voted ‘no’. The five major cities – Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Adana and Antalya – all voted ‘no’. The Kurdish vote clearly played a very important role in the Yes supporters’ victory. In other words, those who said ‘yes’ to the changes in cities with a significant Kurdish population exceeded the total votes of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the MHP in the recent parliamentary elections. In the external sphere, the referendum’s outcome is not expected to have a direct impact on heated regional issues, particularly in Syria, as well as most regional issues.
  • Topic: Democratization, International Security
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: This paper reviews the importance of western Mosul to all parties in the conflict: the Iraqi forces and their allies, on the one hand, and the Islamic State’s forces, on the other, and the obstacles to any of these parties resolving the conflict. It also touches on the extent of their forces and the clear dominance of the offensive forces, and it discusses the military strategies for the battle and potential outcomes in addition to the available options for the Islamic State (IS). It anticipates an end to the fight in favour of the Iraqi forces within a few weeks if the battle and its results progress at a similar pace to that of its first week. This will depend on any unaccounted for variables during the battle that would change the equation on the ground. It concludes by discussing the available options for IS after the battle ends, with the expectation that IS will fight until the end; while its commanders will inevitability lose the battle, this will not eliminate threats to security and stability in Iraq in the foreseeable future.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War, International Security
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: Since the beginning of the Astana process, Moscow seems to be in a race against time to establish the foundations of a solution in Syria before arriving in Geneva: first, by reforming the opposition’s delegation to the negotiations, an effort Moscow has been working on ever since the military intervention in Syria began, and second, by redrawing the solution’s main parameters, which Moscow exerted great effort towards during marathon negotiations conducted with the former US Secretary of State, John Kerry. Through these negotiations, Moscow has been able to change the rules at Geneva by prioritising an agreement to change the constitution, followed by the formation of a non-sectarian representative government, and then calling for presidential elections with Assad’s participation, so ‘the Syrian people can decide his fate’.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Civil War, International Security
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: The Justice and Development Party (AKP) could not possibly have received approval for the proposed constitutional amendments in parliament and needed the Nationalist Movement Party’s support in order to carry out a referendum. A difficult election campaign for the amendments awaits the two opposing parties; however, there is no way to be certain before the announcement of the referendum results. Nevertheless, the most important issue relates to the long-term consequences for the AKP, particularly in terms of its Kurdish base. In terms of ethnicities, the AKP is considered the party of Turks, Kurds, Arabs, Circassians and all other Turkish ethnic groups, while the Nationalist Movement Party has traditionally been committed to the most severe position against the Kurdish Nationalist Movement, including its armed and unarmed wings.
  • Topic: Democratization, Constitution
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: The referendum on the Kurdish secession ended in a victory for self-determination; Baghdad, Ankara, and Tehran move to take punitive actions.
  • Topic: International Security, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Kurdistan
  • Author: Chafic Choucair
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: The battle of Arsal occurred in the context of a gradual easing of the Syrian conflict after its unprecedented exacerbation, and the party’s efforts to confront regional and international developments that target it. However, it also revealed the party’s multiple hegemonies over Lebanese authority.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Security
  • Political Geography: Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Basheer Al Zoghbi
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: This paper addresses the phenomenon of settlers’ acts of violence and attacks directed against Palestinian civilian population, civilian property and livelihood in the occupied territory of the de jure State of Palestine in the context of international humanitarian law and human rights law.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine