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  • Author: Aviezer Ravitsky
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 24, 2005, Aviezer Ravitsky, a professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an expert on religious Zionism, addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks. The impending Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip and four settlements in the northern West Bank threatens the ideological foundations of many settlers. This is particularly true for religious settlers, most of whom view Israeli habitation of the West Bank as the fulfillment of a biblical mandate initiated by the Hebrew patriarchs. The fact that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a prime architect of the settlement movement during his tenure as housing minister in the late 1970s, unilaterally proposed the disengagement epitomizes what many settlers see as their abandonment by the political establishment. They fear that Israel will eventually withdraw from most, if not all, of the West Bank. That prospect threatens to undermine the cause of the national-religious camp in Israel, which has championed the settlement movement above all else since Israel assumed control over the territories in 1967.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel, Gaza
  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The June 21 meeting between Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas highlighted the widening expectations gap between the two parties. Less than two months before Israel commences its pullout from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank, the security situation is worsening, while the PA appears largely unprepared to assume effective security control over these areas. Without an urgent predisengagement "crash program" to improve security, the opportunity afforded by Yasser Arafat's departure from the scene and Israel's departure from Gaza will be lost.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Niyazi B. Gunay, Ismail Cem
  • Publication Date: 04-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 28, 2001, His Excellency Ismail Cem, foreign minister of Turkey, addressed The Washington Institute's Policy Forum. The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks. Over the past four years Turkish foreign policy has been experiencing a transformation. Turkey now sees itself not only as part of Europe but also as part of Asia. The Asian character of Turkey, which has been downplayed for decades, has been revitalized, making Turkish foreign policy more active in the Middle East and the former Soviet Union and helping Turkey to improve relations simultaneously with the Arabs and Israel. Turkey's relations with the European Union are progressing favorably; EU membership is a goal, but not an obsession for Turkey.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Washington, Turkey, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Alan Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 03-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Turkey's economic crisis is naturally the leading issue in bilateral U.S.-Turkish relations, and it is almost certainly topping the agenda of today's meetings of Foreign Minister Ismail Cem with Vice President Richard Cheney and other senior officials. Of course, these meetings pose the difficult question of how much Washington should do, if anything, to bail out its strategically vital ally. But this is only one of several uncertainties characterizing U.S.-Turkish relations in the early days of the Bush administration. Because so much of Turkey's importance to the United States derives from its critical strategic location, bilateral relations are greatly affected by U.S. policies toward other states in Turkey's region. Of most concern to Turkey will be the evolution of Bush administration policy toward Iraq, Iran, and Russia, and also toward Europe's nascent bid to develop an autonomous security capacity.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Defense Policy, Economics, Energy Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Iraq, Europe, Iran, Washington, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Ramin Seddiq
  • Publication Date: 03-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is set to rule tomorrow on the longstanding border dispute between two Persian Gulf sheikdoms, Qatar and Bahrain. This dispute has preoccupied the ruling families in both countries for decades. It and the much better known Iraq–Kuwait border dispute (not detailed here) are hardly the only ones on the Arabian Peninsula. Indeed, almost every country on the peninsula has — or until very recently, has experienced — a disagreement over border demarcation.
  • Topic: International Relations, Sovereignty
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Kuwait, Arabia, Bahrain, Arabian Peninsula
  • Author: Raymond Tanter, Meghan O'Sullivan, Ramin Seddiq
  • Publication Date: 03-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Sanctions provide the United States with a middle option that has the "least risk" in dealing with problematic Middle Eastern regimes. Sanctions are less costly than military intervention and better than doing nothing at all. During the Cold War, an evaluation of the success of a sanctions policy was not centered on whether or not the sanctions achieved compliance, but on whether such a measure resulted in the prevention of some negative event, such as the seizure of American citizens as hostages in the target states or enhanced Soviet intervention in the region.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Middle East, Soviet Union
  • Author: Yossi Baidatz
  • Publication Date: 03-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In recent weeks, a simmering debate between the two major power centers in domestic Lebanese politics has spilled into public view. This debate pits newly installed Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, who represents those who want Lebanon to take advantage of Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon to focus on internal stability, economic reconstruction and securing foreign investment, against Hizballah leader Shaykh Hassan Nasrallah, who — with the support of Syria and Iran — champions maintaining Lebanon's role on the front line of the ongoing revolutionary resistance against Israel. This tension was described in the Lebanese newspaper an-Nahar as the choice between "Hanoi" (Nasrallah) and "Hong Kong" (Hariri). As with most Middle East crises, the development of this delicate and flammable dispute carries both risks and opportunities for Lebanon and other players on the Middle East scene.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Economics, International Political Economy, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Syria, Hong Kong
  • Author: Brenda Shaffer
  • Publication Date: 03-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Iranian president Mohammed Khatami will conduct an official visit to Russia on March 11 through March 15. This constitutes the highest-level visit of an Iranian official to Russia since 1989. There could be an intensification of cooperation between Russia and Iran during Khatami's visit — including on arms sales. In addition to military issues, the delineation of borders along the Caspian Sea will be a focus of discussion. Following talks in Moscow, Khatami will visit St. Petersburg and Kazan, the capital of the autonomous Russian republic of Tatarstan.
  • Topic: International Relations, Sovereignty
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Asia, Moscow
  • Author: Patrick Clawson
  • Publication Date: 02-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 26, U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell begins his tour of Iraq's Arab neighbors just as UN secretary-general Kofi Annan is scheduled to hold discussions with Iraqi foreign minister Mohammad Said al-Sahhaf in New York. Key themes in these meetings will be the return of UN weapons inspectors to Iraq; the future of UN sanctions; the need to prevent Iraqi adventurism, especially into the Arab–Israeli arena; and the larger U.S. goal of "regime change" in Iraq.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, New York, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Mohamed Abdel-Dayem
  • Publication Date: 02-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Arab reactions to Ariel Sharon's overwhelming victory in the recent Israeli national election were mixed. Some condemned him with a confrontational tone, while some suggested that the election made no difference — that is, that all Israeli leaders have basically the same stance. Several Arab leaders opted to take a "wait and see" approach. An optimistic minority of Arab commentators viewed Sharon's leadership in a positive light. The following is a representative sampling of Arab reactions to Sharon's victory.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt
  • Publication Date: 02-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Palestinian officials have threatened an intensification of violence, should — as is expected — Ariel Sharon be elected prime minister of Israel tomorrow. The Palestinian leadership that "rewarded" Prime Minister Ehud Barak's diplomatic flexibility with the "al-Aqsa Intifada" thus seems poised to "punish" the Israeli public for electing Sharon with an escalation of the bloodletting. Its goal would be to force Israel to soften its negotiating position, and perhaps provoke a harsh response that would place world opinion — largely unsympathetic to Sharon to begin with — squarely on the Palestinian side.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Ethnic Conflict, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Alan Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 01-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This is the second of two PolicyWatch articles about Syria, marking the six months since Bashar al-Asad became president on July 17. This article examines the implications of Syria's foreign policy; the previous article (PolicyWatch #512, January 17) looked at the domestic political scene and economic reforms in Syria. For a region used to the late Hafiz al-Asad's stodgy predictability, his son Bashar's six-month-old presidency has displayed a surprisingly active foreign policy, including a willingness to break with the past. However, on issues of greatest importance to the United States — peace with Israel, control over Lebanon, and support for Palestinian terrorist groups — Bashar's regime is mainly a carbon copy of his father's.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Ray Takeyh
  • Publication Date: 01-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: After much experimentation, the Clinton administration settled on a policy of incremental normalization with Iran, whereby the United States and Iran would gradually improve their relations through mutual concessions and confidence-building measures. As the Bush team assesses policy options towards Iran, it is important to note the meager results of the Clinton team's creative efforts.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Patrick Clawson
  • Publication Date: 01-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: While President Bill Clinton is laying out his plans for peace in the Middle East, others are talking about their readiness for war. Iraqi dictator Saddam Husayn's defiant January 6 Army Day speech supporting the Palestinian revolt followed on the December 31 four-hour "Al Aqsa Call" military parade in Baghdad dedicated to the Palestinian cause. By some reports, this parade included hundreds of tanks, dozens of helicopters, new troop-transport trucks, and new short-range missiles — impressive, given that the Iraqi army was assumed to be having problems maintaining its equipment, much less acquiring new systems. One unconfirmed report suggests that elements of the Hamurabi Republican Guard Division would be permanently stationed west of Baghdad on the road to either Syria and Jordan.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Syria, Jordan
  • Author: Rovert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 03-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the Middle East, this week witnessed a series of events occurring at such breakneck speed that it is important not to lose the significance of each: On Thursday, President Bush issued an unprecedented statement calling on Chairman Yasir Arafat to "stop the violence," a statement that could lay down a marker by which the administration judges the efforts of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and which could determine the direction of the U.S.–Palestinian relationship under the new administration. On Wednesday, Israel's national unity government launched retaliatory attacks against Arafat's personal guard, Force 17, underscoring Israel's intent to hold the chairman personally responsible for the terrorism emanating from within his close circle. On Monday and Tuesday, bombs went off inside the heart of Israel — responsibility for which was claimed by the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad, suggesting that Tehran is eager to tap pro-Hizballah sympathy and compete with the Tanzim and other Fatah elements for the pacesetter's role in the Palestinian uprising. Also on Tuesday, the PA chose an all-or-nothing option at the United Nations, demanding a Security Council vote on a resolution that the United States had no trouble vetoing — one calling for an international protection force for Palestinians — rather than pursuing diplomacy to bring to a vote a watered-down, but still problematic, resolution on which Washington was prepared to compromise. And on Sunday, Israel's Likud-led government issued a communique affirming its intent to seek the full implementation of signed agreements with the Palestinians, specifically citing its willingness to fulfill the requirement for a third "further redeployment" — territorial withdrawal in the West Bank — in the context of full compliance with the Wye River Memorandum. Each of these items alone has significant ramifications for the direction of Arab–Israeli relations, the Palestinian uprising, and U.S. policy toward the peace process. Taken together, they suggest a situation in great flux with emerging trends that are both ominous (e.g., Iran's deepening role) and positive (e.g., Bush's forthrightness on violence, Israel's balance of diplomacy and force).
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, International Organization
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Tehran, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Reuven Paz
  • Publication Date: 03-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As Arab leaders gather in Amman for the first regular Arab summit in a decade, non-Arab Iran is keenly watching to see whether Arab heads-of-state once again make grandiose promises to support the Palestinians. If Arab leaders fail to deliver on these promises, as has been the case with Arab financial commitments to the Palestinians, it would open the door for Tehran to build on Hizballah's success in Lebanon and to deepen its already worrisome role in the Israeli–Palestinian arena.
  • Topic: International Relations, Ethnic Conflict, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Tehran, Palestine, Arabia, Jerusalem, Lebanon, Beirut
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 02-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: While the main purpose of Secretary of State Colin Powell's first foray into the Middle East was to discuss Iraq, he also visited Israel and the Palestinian Authority and injected a dose of what some would call "evenhandedness" — giving each both something to be pleased about and something to be unnerved about.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 02-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The deadline has now passed for Ehud Barak to step aside in favor of rival Shimon Peres in Israel's prime ministerial face-off next Tuesday, February 6, against Likud leader MK Ariel Sharon. Analysts have already written off this election for Barak, as Sharon's lead in the polls has barely budged from a 16 to 20 point margin over the last two months. Given that Barak won a landslide victory by a 12.1 percent margin less than two years ago, the scope of his probable defeat is striking — perhaps the most lopsided electoral debacle since Menachem Begin's Herut lost to the Labor forerunner Mapai in 1959 by a margin of 24.7 percent. Barak's electoral free-fall is especially remarkable given that his opponent is someone long regarded as unelectable, due to his advanced age, right-wing political views, checkered past, and evident discomfort with the new media age. Nevertheless, Barak has pressed on, insisting that the real campaign has only just begun. His decision to stay in the race has heightened speculation that he may plan on joining a Sharon-led "national unity government," despite carefully worded protestations to the contrary.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Dore Gold
  • Publication Date: 01-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: February marks ten years since the end of the Gulf War. The situation in the Middle East today is vastly more dangerous than in 1991. The favorable regional conditions in 1991 that allowed the current peace process to begin have been reversed. Three key trends are the following: After Iraq's defeat in the Gulf War, it was placed under UN monitoring and extensive sanctions, thereby removing a major threat from Israel's calculus. Today, the situation is drastically different, with the absence of UN inspections for more than two years and the deterioration of sanctions against Iraq. In 1991, Iran was still recovering from its exhaustive war with Iraq and could not fully participate in regional, specifically Arab–Israeli, affairs. By contrast, Iran is currently testing intermediate-range missiles and is expressing its strategic weight in places like Lebanon, where it has increased its support to Hizballah. In 1991, the USSR was crumbling before its eventual collapse and was no longer in a position to offer strategic and military support to the enemies of Israel, while its successor — the Russian Federation — has more or less acquiesced to U.S. positions on the Middle East. Since 1996, however, Russia has taken a contrary approach to many U.S. policies and leadership in the region, in particular with regard to Iraqi sanctions and weapons inspections and the transfer of missile technology to Iran.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Foreign Policy, Peace Studies, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Lebanon