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  • Author: Oded Eran
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This PolicyWatch is the first in a three-part series examining the situation in Lebanon two years after the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. This series coincides with the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Marine barracks bombing by Hizballah in Lebanon on October 23, 1983, an attack that continues to inform U.S. policymaking in Lebanon and throughout the Middle East.
  • Topic: Terrorism, United Nations, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: Nicholas Blanford
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This PolicyWatch is the second in a three-part series examining the situation in Lebanon two years after the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. This series coincides with the twenty-fifth anniversary of the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon on October 23, 1983, an attack that continues to inform U.S. policymaking in Lebanon and throughout the Middle East.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Terrorism, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: Michael Singh
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This PolicyWatch is the third in a three-part series examining the situation in Lebanon two years after the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. This series coincides with the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Marine barracks bombing in Lebanon on October 23, 1983, an attack that continues to inform U.S. policymaking in Lebanon and throughout the Middle East.
  • Topic: Terrorism, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Today, oil ministers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meet in Vienna to discuss a possible production cut. Originally planned for November, the meeting was brought forward because of falling oil prices. With the perilous state of world financial markets, seldom has an OPEC meeting been so critical for both itself and the world. Although hard hit by falling revenues, oil market conditions give Saudi Arabia the opportunity to show strong leadership, most likely by limiting any production cut. But the oil-consuming nations would prefer no cut at all, so any reduction would discomfit relations between Washington and Riyadh. The kingdom was unhelpful as prices rose above $100 per barrel months ago, and both presidential candidates have called for independence from foreign -- implying Saudi -- oil.
  • Topic: Oil
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Arabia, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although recognized as a political flashpoint, the Iraqi province of Kirkuk is suffering from a largely overlooked security crisis that has improved little since the beginning of the 2007 U.S. military "surge." The decline in reported insurgent attacks in Kirkuk has been relatively small, dropping from a monthly average of 169 violent incidents in 2007 to 122 in 2008. This 28 percent decline compares with 91 percent in Baghdad during the same period, and the per capita number of attacks in Kirkuk city is actually twice that of Baghdad. Considering these statistics, providing security support for the political process in the tense months and years to come has become a critical priority.
  • Topic: Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The next U.S. president will be a wartime president. Developments in the Middle East almost ensure that either John McCain or Barack Obama will have to manage one or more wars involving the United States or its allies in the region.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: When Barack Obama assumes office on January 20, 2009, the president-elect will face many pressing issues. The strategic case for careful and active management of Iraq policy, however, remains strong. Iraq has at least 115 billion barrels of proven oil reserves (9.3 percent of the world total) and borders Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. This vital Middle Eastern country could become a terrorist thoroughfare and the scene of future regional wars or it could become a stable and prosperous U.S. ally. What matters now is not how U.S. presence in Iraq started, but how it will change in the next four years. It may be far more economical to finish stabilizing Iraq under the relatively favorable present conditions compared to the unknown and potentially unfavorable situation of the future. Iraq retains the potential to contribute to U.S. policy objectives in the Persian Gulf region and the broader Islamic world. It could yet emerge as a strong democratic state at the center of the Middle East.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Saudi king Abdullah is in the United States this week to discuss issues of considerable interest to both countries. Tomorrow and Thursday, he is in New York City for an interfaith meeting he is sponsoring and which President Bush will be attending. On Friday and Saturday, the Saudi monarch will be at the White House, where he will be the sole Islamic or Arab representative at a summit of major economic powers discussing the world financial crisis. In a separate meeting with President Bush, he is expected to report on Saudi mediation efforts with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Despite some common interest in all these areas, perspectives differ significantly on issues such as radical Islam and the price of oil. The United States, particularly during a time of presidential transition, should be careful not to concede ground on continuing points of disagreement.
  • Topic: Economics, Oil
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Middle East, Asia, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad's congratulatory letter to U.S. president-elect Barack Obama was the first of its kind in the history of the Islamic Republic. In his letter, Ahmadinezhad expressed his hope for fundamental change in U.S. domestic and foreign policies. Although some observers speculate that the letter suggests a transformation in the mindset of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, about normalizing relations between Iran and the United States, this is unlikely. Majlis speaker Ali Larijani expressed the widespread attitude of Iranian leaders on November 9, saying, "Whoever thinks that Obama will change the U.S. foreign policy is naive."
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Yoram Cohen
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Last week, Israeli forces entered Gaza, destroyed an underground border tunnel, and battled Hamas fighters, leaving several militants dead. In response, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired around eighty rockets into southern Israel, including the Israeli city of Ashkelon. Despite this breach of the tahdiya, or ceasefire, both Hamas and Israeli leaders have stressed their desire to deescalate the situation. But considering Hamas's history of violence against Israel, the organization's commitment to the tahdiya is open to serious question.
  • Topic: Security, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 10, Israelis head to their first national election in nearly three years. With the exception of the 1977 election, this will be the only Israeli campaign in which no incumbent has run for the office of prime minister. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni leads the Kadima party, which is neck and neck with Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud party; each is expected to garner approximately 30 seats in the 120-member Israeli parliament. Since their views on the peace process differ, the election's outcome will directly affect U.S. regional policy and the future of the Annapolis process.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Clashes, rocket fire, and threats of escalation challenge Gaza's five-month-old ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. In the past two weeks, Israeli forces have reportedly killed 17 Palestinian fighters, while militant groups in Gaza have fired over 140 rockets into Israel. Despite the ceasefire's benefits -- for Israel, the end of cyclical clashes, rocket attacks, and civilian casualties, and for Hamas, a reprieve from Israel's intense military and economic pressure -- there is no guarantee it will hold. As such, it is worth considering how the ceasefire might end, what renewed conflict might look like, and what this means for Israel's long-term confrontation with Hamas.
  • Topic: Economics, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: David Schenker, Patrick Clawson
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: High on the agenda of the November 27-28 meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors (BOG) will be the November 19 report from Director General Mohammed ElBaradei about Syria. How the IAEA responds to the Syrian challenge may determine whether future urgent proliferation concerns are taken to the IAEA and UN Security Council or resolved through military force, such as Israel's airstrike last year on Syria's Dayr al-Zor site.
  • Topic: Security, International Organization, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Author: Matthew Levitt, Becca Wasser
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Thirteen years after the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Israeli security officials are expressing heightened concern that a new wave of violent extremism among fringe elements in the Jewish settler movement threatens not only Palestinian civilians, but also Israeli national security and the future of any potential peace diplomacy.
  • Topic: Political Violence
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: After several political and military setbacks, Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have waged an effective campaign against Hamas's political, economic, and military position in the West Bank. And as long as Israeli security forces remain in the West Bank, a Hamas seizure of power there is effectively impossible. Although this is an important positive development, Hamas is an adaptive opponent that should not be counted out in the long-term power struggle in the Palestinian territories.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Larisa Baste
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On December 1, President-elect Obama announced his nomination of Senator Hillary Clinton as U.S. secretary of state. The following are her remarks on key Middle East issues made during the course of the Democratic presidential primary campaign.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On December 14, the European Union is slated to initial an association agreement with Syria. The pact had been on hold since 2004 because the EU "deemed that political circumstances were so far not right for its signature and ratification." These "circumstances" mostly concerned Damascus's pernicious policies in Lebanon, including its presumed role in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri. In recent months, however, Syria has rehabilitated its image in Europe, helping the pariah state end a lengthy period of international isolation. If it is signed, the agreement would be the latest in a series of cost-free diplomatic gains for Damascus in Europe.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This PolicyWatch is the first in a two-part series examining the situation in Gaza as the December 19 expiration date of the Israeli-Hamas ceasefire approaches. The first focused on the challenges the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) would face in undertaking any large-scale action; the second looks at the IDF's choices, and their implications, regarding the scope and duration of a potential incursion.
  • Topic: Imperialism, Islam, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Walter B. Slocombe, Montgomery C. Meigs, J. D. Crouch II
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On December 10, 2008, Walter B. Slocombe, J. D. Crouch II, and Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs (Ret.) addressed a Policy Forum luncheon at The Washington Institute to launch a new strategic report entitled Security First: U.S. Priorities in Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking. Mr. Slocombe, currently an attorney at Caplin Drysdale, served as undersecretary of defense in the Clinton administration and worked in the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. Mr. Crouch, former deputy national security advisor and assistant secretary of defense, is currently a senior scholar at the National Institute for Public Policy. General Meigs served in the U.S. army for thirty-five years, including two tours in Bosnia commanding NATO forces; he is now a visiting professor at Georgetown University. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Peace Studies, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This PolicyWatch is the second in a two-part series examining the situation in Gaza as the December 19 expiration date of the Israeli-Hamas ceasefire approaches. The first part focused on the challenges the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) would face in undertaking any large-scale action; the second looks at the IDF's choices, and their implications, regarding the scope and duration of a potential incursion.
  • Topic: Security, Treaties and Agreements, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israel's current Gaza operation represents the strongest attack on Hamas since summer 2006, and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are creating the conditions for broader military action. Although it is unclear how far the IDF will take the current operation, its attacks are already posing a significant challenge to Hamas. The Palestinian group has no means of defending against Israel's air raids and can take measures only to reduce the effects. Similarly, Hamas's offensive options, while potentially painful for Israel, cannot prevent the destructive air attacks. Although Operation Cast Lead may not aim directly at toppling Hamas, it will certain weaken the organization's military and police capability and hence its capacity to enforce its rule in Gaza.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, War, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Responding to the Israeli military campaign against Hamas in Gaza, the Lebanese Shiite militia cum political party Hizballah denounced the Jewish state and organized large rallies. Hizballah secretary general Hassan Nasrallah went so far as to call for a popular insurrection against the pro-West regime in Egypt, whose stance was not deemed sufficiently supportive of Hamas. Despite the strong rhetorical response, however, four days into the Israeli operation the organization had still not fired a single rocket into Israel in defense of the Palestinians. Absent a dramatic change of conditions on the ground, Hizballah is unlikely to participate in this round of hostilities.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The legacy of Israel's inconclusive thirty-four-day war with Hizballah in 2006 hovers over Israel's current military operations in Gaza. Israel believes its deterrence was lost in that war, and Israel's current campaign against Hamas should be seen as an effort to regain that deterrence. Israeli military officials believe that if Hamas feared Israel, they would not be firing rockets at Israeli towns but would have instead renewed the six-month ceasefire.
  • Topic: Islam, Treaties and Agreements, War, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: David Makovsky, Michael Eisenstadt, Mehdi Khalaji, Dennis Ross, Neil Crompton, Shimon Peres, Robert Kimmitt, Kurt Campbell, Sami al-Faraj, Charles Hill
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: I would like to discuss with you tonight the new and important role of the Treasury Department in combating national security threats. It is hard to imagine that we would have had a conversation like this when The Washington Institute held its first Soref Symposium event in 1988. It is only in recent years that the challenges of counterterrorism and counterproliferation have moved beyond the traditional province of foreign affairs, defense, intelligence, and law enforcement. Treasury and other finance ministries around the globe have evolved since September 11, and the world of finance now plays a critical role in combating international security threats.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The two main topics in Turkey today are the booming economy and worries about the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The political stability provided by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which came to power in 2002, has resulted in a notably strong economic growth. As a result, Turkey now benefits from an improved European-style infrastructure, a dynamic private sector, and a vibrant middle class. The country's major businesses, most of which are secular, have benefited significantly from the economic growth and are generally supportive of the AKP, although some seem to disagree with the party's social and cultural agenda.
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Simon Henderson, David Makovsky, Michael Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On December 17, a donor conference will convene in Paris with the goal of bolstering Palestinian governance in the West Bank -- the first such meeting since the 2006 Stockholm conference. Current Middle East envoy Tony Blair has expressed optimism that the international community will support President Mahmoud Abbas and technocratic prime minister Salam Fayad. A sum of $5.6 billion is needed for the 2008-2010 period, and with the price of oil close to $100 per barrel, that target could be reached easily with contributions from the Gulf. But how much are the Gulf Arab states actually prepared to contribute to an issue that would seem to rank as one of their great political priorities?
  • Topic: Development, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Hassan Barari
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: During last month's elections in Jordan, the Islamists suffered an unprecedented defeat. Previously, the Islamic Action Front (IAF) -- Jordan's largest political party -- controlled an impressive bloc of 17 of 110 seats. But the IAF ran only twenty-two candidates in the latest contest and won just six seats. This stunning defeat has generated recrimination among the Islamists, providing insight into the internal politics of this secretive party. The following is an analysis of the dynamics within the IAF and Jordanian society that caused this electoral collapse, and the implications of these developments for the kingdom's Islamist trend.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Jordan
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On December 3-4, Arab leaders representing Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Oman met in the Qatari capital, Doha, for their annual Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) summit, which for the first time was attended by an Iranian president. In November, the UAE set a precedent by impounding an Iranian-bound shipment of undisclosed material banned by UN Security Council Resolutions 1737 and 1747 because of its potential use for nuclear weapons or missile programs. All of this came against the background of the new U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, which assessed that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Kuwait, Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar
  • Author: Patrick Clawson
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The just-released National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), "Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities," is about weaponization, not the enrichment and fuel cycle issues that have been the focus of multiple UN Security Council and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board resolutions regarding Iran's nuclear program. The NIE only suggests that Tehran has changed its sequence -- something that does not slow the country's progress toward a nuclear weapon by a single day. Therefore, it is not clear how this report affects the current thrust of U.S. policy: to stem Iran's nuclear fuel cycle capabilities.
  • Topic: Intelligence, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Annapolis summit featured an impressive display of international support for renewed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Beyond the headlines and photo-ops, the most significant aspect of the event was that President Bush offered little sign he plans to devote the final months of his administration to a high-stakes personal quest for a permanent peace treaty between the two parties.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Recently, the Palestinian Authority (PA) shut down several Islamic charity committees in the West Bank, stating that Hamas was using them as a means to transfer funds to the group's activists there. Meanwhile, on October 22, the U.S. federal trial of the Dallas-based Holy Land Foundation (HLF) and several of its officers -- accused of financing Hamas (a U.S.-designated terrorist group) by funding some of these same charities -- ended in mistrial.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Robert Rabil
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As the end of the Lebanese presidential term neared and then passed on November 23, domestic and international forces have ratcheted up their involvement in electing the country's new president. But the political focus of the presidential elections has shifted from democratic and constitutional ideals to concerns about preventing civil strife -- a potential reality if no consensus on a candidate is reached between the two major Lebanese camps, the pro-Western March 14 alliance and the Hizballah-led opposition.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In recent weeks, the United States has reduced expectations that the upcoming Annapolis peace conference will culminate in a diplomatic breakthrough for all parties after almost seven years of terror, violence, and non-engagement. Instead, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice seeks to revive the moribund 2003 Roadmap, and introduce a new dual-track approach. She wants the parties to implement the first phase of the Roadmap, which deals with modifying the behavior of both sides, while simultaneously -- rather than sequentially according to the 2003 plan -- negotiate the third phase, which deals with the final status issues such as Jerusalem, refugees, borders, and security.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The purpose of the Annapolis summit now is to launch negotiations within the framework of the Roadmap to Middle East peace, the dormant and often maligned plan that provides neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians a setting to establish a "political horizon" for a future Palestinian state. With lowering expectations over the past few weeks, the event itself is -- almost by definition -- doomed to succeed. Only a few days remain before the conference begins, but the following critical questions remain unanswered.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: James Lindsay
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Former British prime minister Tony Blair, now the Quartet's special Middle East envoy, has announced that he will soon determine the first set of projects meant to improve economic conditions in the West Bank, specifically mentioning projects around the town of Jericho. Although Blair will no doubt ignore calls from Hamas supporters to bolster their Gaza regime, it remains to be seen which projects in the West Bank he believes are worthy of funding. Regardless of what he decides, there are a few considerations he should take into account in trying to ensure West Bank stability at a time when new peace initiatives are unfolding.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Humanitarian Aid, International Organization
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The huge turnout of an estimated 250,000 Fatah supporters at a November 12 Gaza rally commemorating the third anniversary of Yasser Arafat's death reflects not only the worsening economic conditions since Hamas's June takeover, but also the factional rivalry over who is authorized to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinians at the upcoming Annapolis peace meeting. Since it is unable to provide services to Palestinians in Gaza, Hamas is using the meeting to delegitimize the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), threaten the delicate security situation in the West Bank, and solidify its own domination of Gaza. Meanwhile, Fatah seeks to restore its influence in Gaza, challenge Hamas's claims of authority, and protect its control of the West Bank.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On November 5, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and deputy chief of military staff Gen. Ergin Saygun visited President Bush in Washington to discuss the growing threat posed by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The composition of the Turkish delegation was symbolically important and demonstrates a new political stability based on the working relationship between the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Turkish military. Yet the newfound weight of the PKK issue may prove problematic for the United States -- and, in the long term, for Turkey as well.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Public remarks by top U.S., Israeli, and Palestinian officials this week indicate that the character of the upcoming Middle East peace conference in Annapolis has changed. First, instead of the expected pre-conference declaration of final status -- principles and conceptual tradeoffs on core issues such as Jerusalem, borders, security, and refugees -- Annapolis will only mark the beginning of negotiations on these issues. Second, the November conference will attempt to revive the moribund Quartet Roadmap laid out by the United States, UN, European Union, and Russia in 2003, with particular focus on the plan's first phase: cooperative on-the-ground action by both sides to improve Palestinian security performance and curb Israeli settlement activity, among other issues. Finally, the United States will seek to use Annapolis as a means of galvanizing international support for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Mahmoud Abbas.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Over the next few days, oil is likely to break the $100 per barrel mark -- a price that will further raise U.S. consumer costs and conflict with economic measures such as the October 31 interest rate cut. Ironically, good news, such as predictions of greater economic growth, is just as likely to push oil prices above $100 as bad news. In either case, the price spike means both continuing danger and new opportunities for U.S. policy in the Middle East.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Oil
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On October 31, Saad Hariri, leader of the "March 14" majority bloc in the Lebanese parliament, met with opposition leader Michel Aoun, head of the Hizballah-allied Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), the largest Maronite Christian party in Lebanon. Discussions focused on the September 25-November 25 presidential elections, which will decide whether Lebanon's next chief executive will align with the pro-Western, reform-minded March 14 coalition or follow the path of current president Emile Lahoud and align with Syria. Despite increasing pressures on the March 14 forces -- including an apparent Syrian-orchestrated assassination campaign -- a breakthrough agreement between the majority and the opposition remains unlikely. Meanwhile, Hizballah has warned the March 14 bloc that if it does not compromise on the choice of president, the opposition will adopt a "more direct" approach.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter, Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Tomorrow, around 400,000 Omani men and women are expected to vote in elections for eighty-five seats on the nation\'s Majlis al-Shura, or Consultative Council. Among the conservative Arab states of the Persian Gulf region, Oman -- a key U.S. ally and exporter of oil and gas, strategically positioned opposite Iran -- is often considered to be the most politically progressive, perhaps even evolving slowly toward a constitutional monarchy. But the country remains dominated by its ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, and for now, the council is limited to advice on public services and infrastructure.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics, Elections
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia, Oman
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Today, the State and Treasury Departments announced a new package of sweeping unilateral sanctions targeting multiple entities in Iran, including three banks, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its Qods Force, the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, several IRGC-affiliated companies, and eight individuals. Can such sanctions be effective in halting Iran's nuclear program? If they are used as part of a comprehensive strategy to create diplomatic leverage, absolutely. Absent this leverage, however, policymakers will eventually be left with the unenviable task of deciding between using military force and tolerating a nuclear Iran.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The October 20 announcement of Ali Larijani's resignation as Iran's chief nuclear negotiator and secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) has intensified pressure on President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad. Faced with criticism over the resignation, Tehran ensured that Larijani attended the Iran-European Union (EU) nuclear talks in Rome on October 23. His continued presence in the negotiations raises serious questions about who is in charge of Iran's nuclear policy and other key issues, making the regime's intentions even more of an enigma to the Europeans. As EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana stated after the Rome meeting, "I found the same Larijani I had met before, and he had the role of chief negotiator."
  • Topic: Government, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, Tehran, Rome
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On October 21, Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) operatives carried out an attack from northern Iraq into Turkey, killing twelve Turkish soldiers. This incident followed the killing of more than thirty people in recent weeks, including an incident in which the PKK pulled a dozen civilians off a public bus and shot them. The Turkish public has responded to the attacks by calling for incursion into northern Iraq to eliminate PKK camps there.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Turkey, Middle East, Armenia
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The September 6 Israeli bombing of a presumed North Korean-supplied nuclear weapons facility in Syria highlights the ongoing policy challenge posed by Damascus. More than three years after President Bush signed the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act (SAA), Syria continues to support terrorism, destabilize Iraq, meddle in Lebanon, and develop weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile systems. This week's headlines tell the story: on September 19, yet another anti-Syrian parliamentarian was assassinated in Lebanon; the same day, Jane's Defence Weekly reported that a July 2007 chemical weapons accident in Syria -- involving mustard gas and VX and sarin nerve agents -- killed fifteen Syrian officers and dozens of Iranian engineers.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Israel, North Korea, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently visited Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to get personal briefings from each leader regarding their sensitive discussions on peace. Such briefings are designed so that Rice can identify the existing gaps between the parties and fashion U.S. strategy in advance of a planned November meeting in Washington. These gaps will likely determine the scope of her potential shuttle diplomacy during her next visit to the region in the coming weeks. They will also become increasingly clear as Israeli and Palestinian delegations meet and begin drafting a potential declaration of principles (DOP) within ten days time, as a senior Israeli official has reported.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The September 6 Israeli airstrike in northeastern Syria has produced intense speculation. According to the New York Times, Israeli intelligence believes the target was part of a clandestine Syrian nuclear weapons program aided by North Korea. This raises broader questions about the status of Syria's strategic weapons programs, which would likely play a crucial role in any future confrontation with Israel.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: New York, Middle East, Israel, North Korea, Syria
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A series of congressional hearings and media interviews by Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker this week offered insights into the U.S. strategy in Iraq, and several yardsticks by which future progress there may be evaluated.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: During the first eighteen months following its January 2006 electoral victories, Hamas took an incremental approach toward official integration into the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Since its takeover of Gaza in June 2007, however, Hamas has changed tactics and imposed an independent, authoritarian regime. After an initial period of calm, there are increasing signs of public discontent over the faction's nascent rule. Yet, Hamas has a near monopoly on the means of force -- its disciplined and well-organized security forces have managed to control Fatah-led disturbances. The group will continue to consolidate its rule in Gaza unless PA officials in the West Bank initiate a clear strategy aimed at the long-term restoration of authority there. Without such an effort, Hamas will further undermine the legitimacy of President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayad, limiting their mandate to negotiate on behalf of all Palestinians at the planned international peace conference this fall.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On September 3, 550 British troops evacuated one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces in Basra via the Shatt al-Arab waterway, retreating to Basra airport, the last British base in Iraq. Britain remains responsible for security in the city and for the major supply route from Kuwait, fifty miles to the south. But there is an increasing presumption that British forces will soon withdraw completely, and that U.S. forces will have to replace them.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, United Kingdom, Europe, Middle East, Kuwait