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  • Author: Patrick Clawson, Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Two intriguing developments have unfolded in Iran over the past week: the election of a new Assembly of Experts Speaker on September 4 and the appointment of a new Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander in chief on September 1. Both suggest the growing power of former president Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, a powerful politician who is openly critical of President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad and his policies.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Nick Francona
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Hamas's June 2007 victory over Fatah was more than a political achievement -- it was a military bonanza. From its capture of Fatah's security headquarters, Hamas acquired stockpiles of American-made small arms and ammunition as well as a wide range of military equipment and vehicles originally transferred to bolster Fatah forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas. In addition, increased smuggling activity since June has reportedly provided Hamas with Russian-made weapons, including antitank and antiaircraft missiles. Israel's Shin Bet estimates that forty tons of explosives entered Gaza in the two months following Hamas's takeover, along with 150 rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launchers in August alone. In all, according to Israeli public security minister Avi Dichter, it would have taken Hamas approximately one year to obtain the amount of weaponry seized during the Gaza takeover through smuggling or other means.
  • Topic: Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Foreign aid is an important and effective tool for buttressing allies, alleviating poverty and suffering, supporting key foreign policy objectives, and promoting the image and ideals of the United States abroad. Indeed, as its own website attests, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) "plays a vital role in promoting U.S. national security, foreign policy, and the War on Terrorism." Toward these goals -- and considering that several agency-approved aid recipients have been linked to terrorist groups in recent years -- USAID's proposed new partner-vetting system (PVS) is a welcome and overdue development.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Humanitarian Aid, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Andrew Exum
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 14, the anniversary of the end of last summer's Lebanon war, Hizballah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel of a "big surprise" if it initiated a new conflict in the South. Analysts immediately began speculating over the nature of the promised surprise. But what is most important to note is that Hizballah, a year after its last war, is making serious preparations for the next one.
  • Topic: Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, H. Akin Unver
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 7, Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki and Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in Ankara against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Although the PKK, based in northern Iraq, is on the U.S. State Department's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, lack of action against the group by Washington and Baghdad is poisoning Turkey's relations with both. Moreover, because the group operates from an area of Iraq controlled by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the PKK issue affects Turkey's ties with Iraqi Kurds as well. Does the MOU represent a breakthrough on any of these fronts?
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Turkey, Middle East, Kurdistan
  • Author: Patrick Clawson, Michael Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A terrorist designation for the Revolutionary Guards would mark the culmination of the administration's recent campaign to highlight the IRGC's dangerous activities. Speaking in Dubai in March 2007, U.S. undersecretary of the treasury Stuart Levey warned, "When corporations do business with IRGC companies, they are doing business with organizations that are providing direct support to terrorism." In a July 2007 speech, Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson focused on the Revolutionary Guards, arguing, "The IRGC is so deeply entrenched in Iran's economy and commercial enterprises, it is increasingly likely that if you are doing business with Iran, you are somehow doing business with the IRGC."
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Understanding the impact of Washington's expected designation of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization requires knowing what role the Revolutionary Guards play in Iranian society. Apart from being a military force with naval, air, and ground components organized in parallel to the conventional Iranian military, the Revolutionary Guards are the spine of the current political structure and a major player in the Iranian economy.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Washington, Middle East
  • Author: Andrew Exum, Gerri Pozez
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 14, 2007, in a speech marking the first anniversary of the ceasefire ending the 2006 summer war, Hizballah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel of the consequences of further conflict. Addressing a mass rally in Beirut via a video link, he said: "Zionists, if you think of launching a war on Lebanon . . . I promise you a big surprise that could change the fate of war and the fate of the region." Israel is still trying to secure the release of two soldiers kidnapped from its territory by Hizballah in July 2006 -- the incident, along with the killing of three other soldiers, that provoked the war. Meanwhile, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) -- comprising approximately 14,000 soldiers from thirty countries -- endeavors to maintain a tenuous peace.
  • Topic: United Nations, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: H. Akin Unver
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 9, the Turkish parliament elected Koksal Toptan, a deputy from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) as its speaker. The AKP, which won 46 percent of the vote in July 22 parliamentary elections, controls 341 seats in the 550-member Turkish parliament. Thus has Turkey begun a very busy political season, with serious issues put off since the April constitutional crisis over the AKP's attempt to appoint its foreign minister, Abdullah Gul, as president.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 31, in a contest widely seen as a tune-up for November's parliamentary balloting, Jordanians went to the polls for municipal elections. Amman had hoped these would showcase Jordan's relatively advanced style of representative democracy in the Middle East. Instead, in a surprise development, the Islamic Action Front (IAF) -- the political party of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood -- withdrew hours into the voting, claiming that government-sponsored fraud had "overstepped the bounds." Subsequently, independent and progovernment candidates swept the elections.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Jordan
  • Author: Jake Lipton, Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: July 18 marked the thirteenth anniversary of Argentina's deadliest terrorist attack: a 1994 car bombing carried out by Hizballah at Iran's behest. The attack targeted the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA), a Jewish community organization, killing 85 and wounding more than 200. Last week also saw the release of a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) warning of an increased likelihood that Hizballah could attack U.S. soil if it, or Iran, feels directly threatened by the United States. Washington continues to take action against the organization, but given Hizballah's impressive fundraising capabilities and Iranian support -- both highlighted recently by Argentinean officials involved in the long-running AMIA case -- the task is challenging.
  • Topic: Intelligence, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Argentina, South America
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Jordanians go to the polls tomorrow to elect nearly 1,000 local representatives and 92 mayors. On their own, these elections are of minimal interest to Washington: municipalities have small budgets, limited responsibilities, and scant independence from the central government. But the voting comes just a month after the Hamas takeover of Gaza, during a spike in the violence in Iraq, and a week after a landslide victory for the Islamist-leaning Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the Turkish national elections. Adding to the significance of the Jordanian ballot is the fact that, after boycotting the 2003 contest, the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood's political party, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), will participate in this year's elections. A potential IAF victory highlights growing concern that Islamists are on a political roll throughout the Middle East, and that Jordan may be vulnerable.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Washington, Middle East, Gaza, Jordan
  • Author: Patrick Clawson, Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Reports that Ayatollah Ali Meshkini has either died or is on the brink of death shed light on the nature of power in Iran. Meshkini is speaker of the Assembly of Experts -- a body that, despite its traditionally minor role in Iranian politics, is constitutionally empowered to not only elect a new Supreme Leader if the post becomes vacant, but also to dismiss a sitting leader. Current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei cannot be pleased that this body may now be headed by deputy speaker Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, a former president known to be a wily comeback artist. Although Khamenei has taken full advantage of the constitution to make the Supreme Leader the ultimate arbiter of Iranian politics, that could change depending on his health and Rafsanjani's scheming.
  • Topic: Government, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: President Bush's July 16 address on the Middle East peace process was a mix of the old and the new, offering neither an unequivocal reaffirmation of past approaches nor a thoroughly novel direction for Arab-Israeli diplomacy in the wake of Hamas's coup in Gaza.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Directly reaching the Iranian people can be achieved in two ways: (1) supporting political opposition groups that explicitly advocate regime change, and (2) empowering human rights and other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that do not directly engage in political action but support issues such as women and children's rights, labor rights, and religious freedom. Although the latter groups do not pursue political goals, the Iranian regime considers them subversive entities seeking to overthrow the Islamic Republic.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Non-Governmental Organization
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 19, the Turkish Supreme Elections Board, an independent body that monitors the elections process, finalized the candidate lists for the July 22 early parliamentary polls. The outcome at the polls should be easier to estimate now that the electorate can judge the parties as well as their candidates. Will the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) win? How will the other major parties fare? And what issues will dominate, among them the Constitutional Court's decision yesterday to overturn President Ahmet Sezer's veto of the AKP's proposal for direct presidential elections?
  • Topic: International Political Economy, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Could Hamas members in the Gaza Strip join ranks with the global jihadist movement led by al-Qaeda? There is merit to this question, given the recent Hamas takeover of the territory and al-Qaeda's call for Muslims around the world to finance and arm Hamas. The interpersonal relationships between Hamas and al-Qaeda members present a significant danger. Although, as an organization, Hamas is not about to join al-Qaeda, individual Hamas members could (see Jake Lipton, "The War of Words between Hamas and al-Qaeda," PolicyWatch no. 1254). Moreover, a lawless Gaza -- like Iraq's Anbar province, Pakistan's federally administered tribal areas, and Somalia -- could quickly become a safe haven for both homegrown and imported jihadists.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Iraq, Middle East, Gaza
  • Author: Jake Lipton
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 14, Hamas evicted Fatah security forces from the Gaza Strip, establishing full control over the territory. Eleven days later, al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri issued a statement calling on Muslims to support Hamas fighters -- the latest in an ongoing, public dialogue in which al-Qaeda and Hamas leaders have alternatively decried and praised each other's organizations. An analysis of this public exchange reveals that al-Qaeda is uncomfortable with Hamas leaders even as it fully supports the movement's militants.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gaza
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi, Ben Fishman
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Hamas's victory in Gaza last week was a military coup of Fatah's security forces -- not a Palestinian civil war involving the majority of each faction's supporters. Fatah's armed forces collapsed in the face of a long-planned, well-executed campaign targeting the headquarters and leadership of the faction's security organizations. The coup and the grisly violence that accompanied it reveal much about Hamas's politics and long-term objectives as a movement.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gaza
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Hamas's success caps a forty-year evolution of the Palestinian role in the larger Arab-Israeli conflict. In 1967, Israel's military victories rocked the armies and regimes of neighboring Arab states, energizing the previously marginal Palestinian nationalist movement and, especially, Fatah. That term, "Fatah," is a reverse Arabic acronym for "Harakat Tahrir al-Watani al-Filastini," the Palestinian National Liberation Movement.
  • Topic: Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Yesterday's car bombing in Beirut, which killed Future Party parliamentarian Walid Eido, underscores the Syrian-backed multifront campaign to undermine stability in Lebanon. One front is the Palestinian refugee camps, particularly Nahr al-Bared, where the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) are currently fighting Fatah al-Islam, an al-Qaeda affilate with ties to Syria. A second front is Beirut itself, via terrorist attacks designed to destabilize the state. The blast that killed Eido was the sixth such attack in the past month, and Lebanon's Internal Security Force (ISF) has interdicted several other ambitious terrorist conspiracies, including a plot described by the Lebanese daily as "the Lebanese September 11."
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, Zeynep Eroglu
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 8, a day after reports that Turkish troops had crossed into northern Iraq to pursue members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Iranian aircraft bombed the camps of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), also in northern Iraq. PJAK, which operates in the mountains of northern Iraq and adjacent areas of Iran, has around 3,000 members. Analysts describe the group as the Iranian branch of the PKK, which has been carrying out attacks on Turkish military and civilian targets for decades and is on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations. PJAK insists that it is distinct from the PKK, but interviews with its leaders and members, along with a look at its history, suggest that the two groups have similar ideologies and methodologies. They also share leadership and membership, in addition to operating in overlapping areas. Given that both Turkey and Iran view PJAK as a threat, the group poses unique challenges to U.S.-Turkish relations.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Kurdistan
  • Author: Dennis Ross, Samuel Lewis, Wendy Chamberlin
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The historical record has made it increasingly clear that in the May-June 1967 Middle East conflict, public assurances from world powers -- or the lack thereof -- greatly influenced the decisionmaking of regional leaders. Specifically, Soviet encouragement of Egypt -- both public and private -- played a large role in influencing Egyptian chief of staff and military commander Abdul Hakim Amer as he brought President Gamal Abdul Nasser to the brink of war with Israel. At the same time, however, the U.S. government under President Lyndon Johnson extended no parallel public assurances to Israel. This absence of commitment from a major foreign power or the UN in a moment of crisis affected the mindset of Israel's policymakers whenever they faced national security dilemmas thereafter, leading them to take many unilateral actions in subsequent years.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Egypt
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, Ali Koknar
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Yesterday, the Associated Press (AP) reported that thousands of Turkish troops had crossed into northern Iraq to pursue members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an organization on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations. Later, the AP corrected this, reporting that only a few hundred Turkish troops were involved in the incursion. Meanwhile, the White House, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari issued statements that no Turkish troop incursion had taken place in Iraqi territory.
  • Topic: Political Economy, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: David Makovsky, Shimon Peres
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Can Israel live with an Iranian nuclear bomb? If the Iranians continue to do three things simultaneously -- namely, develop nuclear weapons, be a center of terror, and be fanatical in their ambition to run the entire Middle East -- eventually the three will mix and nuclear bombs may fall into the irresponsible hands of terrorists. Then it will be a problem for the rest of the world. The world cannot live with terrorists obtaining nuclear capacity, and sooner or later the world will take action. However, I do not believe that Israel has to be a volunteer or pioneer in that endeavor.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi, Wafa' Abdel Rahman, Owen Kirby
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Democratic development in the Palestinian Authority (PA) is at the top of the Bush administration's priorities. While the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections of January 2006 were democratic, democratic elections by themselves do not constitute a democratic system. The current situation in the West Bank and Gaza cannot be called democratic by international norms. Respect for the rule of law and human rights and observation of individual rights and freedoms do not currently prevail in the PA.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Michael Jacobsen
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Media headlines following the April 30 release of the State Department's annual report on global terrorism developments, Country Reports on Terrorism 2006, focused on the theme of increased terrorism. But the335-page document, along with its accompanying statistical assessment produced by the National Counter terrorism Center (NCTC), also contained important insights into the U.S. administration's evolving strategy to counter the terrorist threat.
  • Topic: International Relations, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Robert Kimmitt
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: What are the relative constraints of a multilateral approach versus a bilateral approach to the use of financial tools against illicit activity? Anytime we see a threat to the country through the financial system, we are going to take action immediately using the domestic authorities we have. We try to be careful, however, to make sure that those are carefully targeted to conduct and are not extra territorial. That provides a good basis for entering into discussion with friends and allies throughout the world, both on a bilateral basis with others and then on a multilateral basis.
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, Yuksel Sezgin
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 20, thousands of secular Turks demonstrated in the Black Sea port city of Samsun against the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has an Islamist pedigree. It was the most recent display of protest in a power struggle between the AKP and its opponents over determining a replacement for outgoing president Ahmet Necdet Sezer. In addition to the protestors and Sezer, the courts and the Turkish military have weighed in against the AKP. Far from backing down, as Turkey's Islamists would have done in the past, the AKP has stepped up the pressure by introducing a constitutional amendment package that calls for direct presidential elections to replace the current system of voting in parliament. President Sezer could decide the fate of this package, but the political crisis will continue.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Despite the public bluster of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the regime's behavior shows that it suffers from deep self-doubt. The arrests of visiting Iranian-born U.S. scholars Haleh Esfandiari (director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson Center) and Kian Tajbakhsh (a consultant for philanthropist George Soros's Open Society Institute programs) reflect Tehran's fear that political change could be easily sparked. A May 22 ABC News report that President Bush has authorized a covert CIA program against the regime will only add to Iran's suspicions.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The May 28 meeting between the U.S. and Iranian ambassadors to Iraq was mostly notable for its length -- four hours -- and the lack of anything to show for all that time together. And the very next day, Iran announced that three detained Iranian Americans visiting their homeland, including renowned scholar and women's rights advocate Haleh Esfandiari, were being formally charged with espionage -- charges that would be merely laughable if they were not so tragic.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This week, the Egmont Group -- an international body of more than 100 national financial intelligence units (FIUs) -- is holding its annual plenary session and working group meetings in Bermuda. One of the issues on the agenda is whether to admit a Syrian FIU into the group. Although Syria may in fact technically qualify for membership despite some significant shortcomings, extending membership to a state the United States regards as a sponsor of terrorism would raise serious questions about Egmont's standards and continued efficacy in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Emanuele Ottolenghi
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: President Bush is in Europe this week, where his meetings -- several of which are directly linked to aspects of U.S. Middle East policy -- represent important opportunities to build diplomatic bridges. Today, he visits Prague to address a democracy promotion conference organized by former Czech president Vaclav Havel, former Israeli deputy prime minister Natan Sharansky, and former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar. The president's next stop is Heiligendamm, Germany, for the G8 meeting between the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Russia. On June 8, he continues on to Poland, Italy, Albania, and Bulgaria in order to boost new democracies, cement alliances in the former Communist Bloc, and meet with the Pope.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Jacobson, David Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 10, 2007, President Bush and U.S. Treasury secretary Henry Paulson launched an "open investment" initiative to encourage foreign investment in the U.S. economy. In a statement, the president emphasized that his administration "is committed to ensuring that the United States continues to be the most attractive place in the world to invest." Washington's focus on this issue is at least partly a reflection of the ongoing fallout from last year's Dubai Ports World (DPW) controversy. Although it is still premature to gauge the long-term economic impact of the DPW case, the process for reviewing foreign investments has already changed significantly.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Barry Rubin, Theodore Kattouf
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 30, 2007, Barry Rubin and Theodore Kattouf addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Professor Rubin, a visiting fellow at the Institute, is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA), and author of the just-released book The Truth about Syria (Palgrave). Mr. Kattouf, a former U.S. ambassador to Syria and the United Arab Emirates, is president and CEO of AMIDEAST, a nonprofit group dedicated to enhancing educational links between the United States and the Middle East. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, International Relations, Development
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Syria
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The just-released Winograd Report, an investigation of Israeli decisionmaking in the 2006 summer war with Hizballah, has put Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in a battle for survival. Today, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni publicly called for Olmert's dismissal. Will the prime minister's tenure last beyond this growing crisis?
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Meral Varis Kiefer
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 30, 2007, the Turkish stock market slumped and the value of the lira dropped following a massive demonstration in Istanbul against the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, coupled with a statement by the military voicing support for secularism. Previously, the comparatively healthy Turkish economy had boosted the chances that the AKP, rooted in the country's Islamist movement, would achieve further electoral victories this year. On April 24, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan named Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul as his party's candidate for president -- a legislatively elected post. In the April 27 parliamentary session, however, the secular opposition boycotted the vote, and the AKP failed to muster the required two-thirds majority. The Turkish constitutional court subsequently annulled the vote, and the status of the presidential election is now uncertain. In the meantime, the parliament has moved legislative elections up from November to July 22.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt, Andrew Exum, Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 26, 2007, Jeffrey White, Andrew Exum, and Michael Eisenstadt addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Mr. White is the Institute's Berrie defense fellow and coauthor, with Mr. Eisenstadt, of the Institute Policy Focus Assessing Iraq's Sunni Arab Insurgency . Mr. Exum, a Soref fellow at the Institute, served in the U.S. Army from 2000 to 2004, with tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Mr. Eisenstadt is director of the Institute's Military and Security Studies Program. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Vice President Dick Cheney departed today on a trip to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan. A bland statement issued from his office on May 3 said he was asked to travel by President Bush and would be having "discussions with the leaders of these countries on key issues of mutual interest." No details were offered of the subjects of these discussions, but vice presidents do not travel halfway around the world unless there is important business to conduct.
  • Topic: International Relations, Nuclear Weapons, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Michael Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 1-5, the seventeen Arab members of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF) met in Jordan to discuss terrorism financing and money laundering in the region. Although the task force's record to date shows some promise, the organization can do far more to address these critical issues.
  • Topic: Economics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: At an April 3 news conference in Tehran, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad unexpectedly announced the decision to release fifteen captured British marines and sailors. In a theatrical gesture that included assailing Western policy in the Middle East and accusing the British crew of entering Iranian waters, he pardoned the detainees to mark both the Prophet Muhammad's birthday on March 30 and what he reportedly called "Christian Passover." (In Farsi, "Pesah" means Passover and "Fash" means Easter. According to the Islamic Republic News Agency report of his remarks, the president used Pesah instead of Fash.)
  • Topic: International Relations, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The State Department's International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, released on March 1, offers a little-noted reference to a dubious claim: an Iranian government statement (made to the UN) that Tehran has established a Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). The report notes that Iran has provided no further details. Even if the Iranian claim were true, the creation of an FIU would do little to combat terrorism financing in the nation, given Tehran's official support for terrorist groups. In other countries, FIUs are an important element of effective counterterrorism policy -- though the record of key Middle Eastern nations is somewhat mixed in this regard.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: David Satterfield
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 27, 2007, Ambassador David Satterfield addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Ambassador Satterfield's public service career has included tours as ambassador to Lebanon as well as key Middle East affairs positions with both the State Department and the National Security Council. Formerly deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, he now coordinates Iraq policy at the State Department, serving as a senior advisor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad, Lebanon
  • Author: Michael Oren
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 9, 2007, Michael Oren addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. A historian and senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, Dr. Oren authored the recent bestseller Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 23, at 10:30 a.m. local Iraqi time, fifteen British naval personnel were seized by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the northern Persian Gulf. The British personnel -- eight from the Royal Navy and seven from the Royal Marines -- were in two light craft returning to the frigate HMS Cornwall after successfully inspecting a merchant ship for goods being smuggled into Iraq. Iran has accused the personnel, who include one woman, of illegally entering Iranian territorial waters, and has threatened to put them on trial. The incident is a diplomatic and military embarrassment to Britain. Meanwhile, fears of escalation in the Gulf have contributed to a global surge in oil prices.
  • Topic: International Relations, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Britain, Iraq, United Kingdom, Europe, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 17, the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) approved the formation of a Hamas-Fatah national unity government by an 83–3 margin. This culminated a process that began in early February with the Mecca accord facilitated by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah. Many governments have withheld comment since that accord. One reason for their relative silence is reluctance to criticize a project associated with King Abdullah, who is emerging as a leading force in the Arab world and a linchpin of U.S. efforts to isolate Iran. Another is bated hope that the new government guidelines will be a marked improvement over those of the current Hamas government. Since Hamas's victory in January 2006 parliamentary elections, the focus has been on three principles proposed by the Quartet (the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the UN): (1) recognition of Israel, (2) disavowal of violence, and (3) adherence to past written commitments.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, Palestine, Arabia, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 8, 2007, a French court ordered the Wiesenthal Center's director for international relations in Paris to pay a symbolic €1 fine in a defamation suit brought by a U.S.-designated Hamas front organization. The Comité de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens (Committee for Welfare and Aid to the Palestinians) (CBSP) charged that it had been defamed by allegations that it finances terrorism and raises funds to support the families of suicide bombers recruited by Hamas. Atlhough the French court acknowledged that the 150 exhibits submitted by the defense "indeed constituted an impressive body of evidence," it nonetheless issued a symbolic ruling in favor of the plaintiff.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, Paris, France
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Next week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will return to the Middle East, where she plans to meet Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas for what has become a monthly trilateral session. The question is whether Rice still believes both parties can actually agree on a so-called "political horizon" -- namely, the definition of actions to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The odds have slimmed to nearly nil since the idea was first discussed by Rice and Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni at a December 2006 meeting. That was prior to the Mecca accord, where the concept of a Palestinian national unity government was conceived. Meanwhile, both Fatah and Hamas have announced that they are ready to form such a government.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Seth Wikas
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the coming weeks, Syria will participate in two important regional conferences. On March 10, it will join Iraq's other neighbors and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council in Baghdad. On March 28-29, it will participate in the Arab League summit in Riyadh. Syria's detractors continue to criticize Damascus for failing to seal the border with Iraq and for meddling in Lebanese internal affairs in violation of UN Security Resolution 1701. Of equal importance is the downturn in Syria's relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran. Last week's Saudi-Iranian summit has Damascus worried about its role in Lebanon and the possibility of an international tribunal on the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, a crime for which Syria is widely believed to be responsible. Will the upcoming conferences give Syria a chance to improve its regional standing, or will its isolation continue?
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Baghdad, Arabia, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Does this week's surprise U.S. declaration of a new international conference on Iraq, scheduled for March 10, represent a major shift in U.S. policy or just a minor shuffle? Why is it happening now? And will it have any more of an impact than other recent international meetings on Iraq?
  • Topic: Development, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East