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  • Author: Nadwa Al-Dawsari, Erica Gaston
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Yemen has long had a vibrant tradition of community-based dispute resolution, particularly tribal dispute resolution, which has become even more dominant in the transition period that followed the 2011 Arab Spring protests. As the Yemeni state has struggled to regain political equilibrium, rule of law has deteriorated and criminality and armed conflict have increased. State institutions have weakened and now struggle to meet citizens' demands. In response, citizens increasingly turn to traditional or community-based dispute resolution for their justice needs. In addition to long-standing actors or mechanisms, a number of new dispute resolution actors have emerged. Some areas have seen a retribalization, while in others, armed actors dominate. Although alternative dispute resolution actors have been an important gap-filler during this time, they have also found their authority challenged. The political uncertainty and the rise in lawlessness have simultaneously weakened both formal and informal actors' ability to resolve disputes sustainably and to prevent conflict. The result has been more limited options for peaceful dispute resolution overall, which feeds instability and has the potential to exacerbate broader conflict dynamics and weaknesses in the rule of law. Strengthening the options for lower level dispute resolution and conflict prevention are critical to restoring stability. Because of the centrality of these community-based justice mechanisms in Yemen, efforts to strengthen rule of law must take a more holistic view of justice provision to include these mechanisms and practices. Program interventions should not preference or target one system over the other but instead take an integrated approach and consider the significant role that alternative dispute resolution plays. Critical elements include supporting greater understanding of and dialogue with dispute resolution actors, incorporating alternative dispute resolution into the justice sector strategy, and focusing on reforms and adaptions on both sides.
  • Topic: Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Thomas Pierret
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Syrian conflict's internal dynamics have reshuffled regional alignments alongside unprecedentedly clear-cut sectarian dividing lines; this has often occurred against the preferences of regional state actors−including Saudi Arabia and Iran. Foreign states have generally adopted expedient policies that followed sectarian patterns for lack of alternatives. Iran bears significant responsibility for exacerbating the conflict's sectarian character at the regional level. There is no such “diplomatic shortcut” to regional appeasement; it is the domestic Syrian deadlock that must be broken in order to alleviate sectarian tensions across the Middle East, not the opposite.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Frederic M. Wehrey
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Like the Iraq war and, to a lesser extent, Lebanon's 2006 war, Syria's internecine conflict has enabled the Gulf's ruling families, media commentators, clerics, parliamentarians, and activists to invoke and amplify Sunni-Shia identities, often for goals that are rooted in local power politics. By-products of the mounting sectarian tension include the fraying of reform cooperation among sects and regions, and pressure on the Gulf's formal political institutions. Traditional and social media have served to amplify the most polarizing voices as well as provide reform activists new means for cross-sectarian communication that circumvent governmental efforts to control or block such activities.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Fanar Haddad
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In Iraq, as elsewhere in the Middle East, the social, political, and technological changes of the 21st century are giving birth to a new sectarian landscape. The three most consequential drivers behind the change in sectarian relations have been the political change in Iraq of 2003; the near simultaneous spread of new media and social networking in the Arab world; and – perhaps as a consequence of the first two – the ongoing search for alternatives to familiar but moribund forms of authoritarianism, as demonstrated most dramatically by the “Arab Spring.” 2003 highlighted the uncomfortable fact that there were multiple, indeed contradictory, visions of what it meant to be an Iraqi and by extension what it meant to be a part of the Arab world. New media, social networking, user-generated websites, and private satellite channels helped to make Iraq's accelerated sectarianization contagious. The mainstreaming of sectarian polemics has increased the relevance of religious, doctrinal, and dogmatic differences in views regarding the sectarian “other,” a particularly dangerous development.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Joseph Bahout
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: When the Arab revolutions reached Syria, the Sunni-Shia cleavage in Lebanon was already well in the making. Syria's turmoil only added fuel to an existing fire in Lebanon. Syria's crisis is intensifying Sunni-Shia tensions in Lebanon on two levels, symbolic and identity-based on the one hand, and geopolitical or interest based, on the other hand. The shift toward identity-based or symbolic forms of sectarianism can probably be explained by the existential character the struggle in the Levant is taking, whereby both “communities,” however imagined or over-constructed, are coming to perceive themselves as defending not only their share of resources or power, but their very survival. Lebanon's minority communities – including Christian and Druze – are increasingly anxious about the changing regional environment. Lebanon and Syria must face the difficult equation of sectarian diversity and national unity.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Insurgency, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Melani Cammett
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Syrian crisis has had a negative impact on Lebanon's political scene, including the dynamics among political factions within and across the country's major sectarian communities. The political fragmentation of the Sunni community has implications for the growing trend toward political violence triggered by the Syrian conflict. The rise of challengers and the decline of centralized authority within the Sunni community further increase the probability of violence perpetrated by in-group factions. Despite the pressures from the Syrian conflict, mounting sectarian tensions will not inexorably spark another all-out civil war. If Lebanon does not move past the current political deadlock and stagnation, the spillover from the Syrian crisis stands to undermine the country's stability in the longer term.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Insurgency, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Donald J. Planty
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Arab Awakening opened the door to democratic political change in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Security sector reform (SSR) is an integral component of the nascent democratic process in the region. While SSR is a long-term process, it should be a key part of institution building in the new democracies. Democracy requires security institutions that are open, professional, and responsive to public needs. The transitions to democracy are varied in nature and scope. SSR will differ by country and must be tailored to the political realities and specific circumstances of each state. The international community can foster successful SSR processes by calibrating its assistance according to the reform efforts in each country. A general or “one-size-fits-all” approach to SSR will not be successful. A sense of political powerlessness, an unresponsive bureaucracy, a general lack of opportunity, economic stagnation (including high unemployment), and repressive security forces all contributed to the Arab Awakening. As a result of the upheaval, democratic forces in several of the MENA countries are pushing for transparency and accountability in the security services. SSR must be undertaken in a holistic manner, couched within the framework of overall democratic reform and linked to other broad policies such as justice sector reform, evolution of the political process, and economic development. SSR will only be achieved if it is integrated and pursued in unison with these larger processes of democratic change. The international community, especially the United States and the European Union, need to foster democratic developments and, in particular, to support and coordinate SSR.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Democratization, Economics, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Kathleen Kuehnast, Hodei Sultan, Manal Omar, Steven E. Steiner
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In transitioning countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, women are increasingly finding their rights limited by state and religious leaders. Cultural and national stereotypes can be quickly overcome by the shared backgrounds, accomplishments, obstacles, and aspirations of women in transitioning countries. Women living in countries in transition value opportunities to network with women from other countries in similar situations. Women leaders from Afghanistan and Iraq have genuine concerns about the challenges facing women in the Arab Spring. Their valuable opinions are based on their own experiences of overcoming those challenges. It is essential that women work together and with men to further women's rights. Women must plan for a transition before it happens and have a strategy of work going into the transition process. Laws empowering and protecting women do not work if they are not enforced. International donors need a long-term view of women's programming, as much of the required work will take time. Donors should consider nonurban areas when working with women, and when possible nonelite partners, as these leaders understand the limitations of local conditions. It is possible for women's groups to find common ground with religious leaders.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Development, Gender Issues, Islam, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Evelyne Schmid
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Over the past several decades, dozens of countries have established truth commissions and other bodies to investigate mass atrocities or systematic human rights abuse. Lessons learned from past truth-finding processes are invaluable to help address the legacies of human rights violations in countries transitioning to democratic regimes in the Middle East and North Africa and elsewhere. Truth commissions aim to uncover and acknowledge abuses from the past by recognizing the suffering of victims and making recommendations to prevent a recurrence of violence in the future. When convening authorities establish a truth commission, they need to select a process to choose the commission's membership, decide on the subject matter and a deadline for the work it will do as well as its legal powers, its duration and the extent to which its work is public. USIP has established a Truth Commissions Digital Collection (http://www.usip.org/publications/truth-commission-digital-collection) that provides summaries and vital statistics of 41 past commissions from 35 countries, along with copies of most of their legal charters and final reports. Each commission has a dedicated page along with information on subsequent developments, such as reforms, prosecutions and reparations to victims. The Truth Commissions Digital Collection is a resource for researchers and implementers seeking to learn and apply lessons from the past to make current “truth processes” more effective.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Genocide, Human Rights, Human Welfare, Torture
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East
  • Author: Robin Wright, Garrett Nada
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Middle East faces even bigger challenges in 2013 than it did during the first two years of the so-called Arab Spring. So far—a pivotal caveat—the Arab uprisings have deepened the political divide, worsened economic woes and produced greater insecurity. Solutions are not imminent either. More than 120 million people in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen have experienced successful uprisings that ousted four leaders who together ruled a total of 129 years. But more than half of the Arab world's 350 million people have yet to witness any real change at all. Defining a new order has proven far harder than ousting old autocrats. Phase one was creating conditions for democracy. Phase two is a kind of democratic chaos as dozens of parties in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia do political battle (and in some cases physical battle) over constitutions. Ancien regimes have not totally given up, as in Yemen. The cost of change has exceeded even the highest estimates, as in Syria. So most Arabs are probably disappointed with the “Arab Spring” for one of many reasons. Nevertheless the uprisings were never going to happen in one season. This is instead only the beginning of a decades-long process—as most in the West should know from their own experiences.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Democratization, Post Colonialism, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Yemen, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Patricia Weiss Fagan
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Programs to return refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their homes after conflict, implemented by national authorities with international support, frequently leave far too many without viable futures. The measures are often inadequate for three reasons: a widely shared but flawed assumption that the need to create a future for returnees is satisfied by restoring them to their prior lives; a lack of long-term engagement by implementing authorities; and a focus on rural reintegration when many refugees and IDPs are returning to urban areas. These arguments are illustrated in four country cases—Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Burundi. In each case, the places that refugees and IDPs were forced to flee have been greatly reshaped. They often lack security and economic opportunities; governance is weak and services are inadequate. Returnees have made choices about their futures in large part on the basis of these factors. While reclaiming land or receiving compensation for losses is important, the challenge for many returnees is to settle where they can maintain sustainable livelihoods; find peaceful living conditions; have access to health care, education, and employment opportunities; and enjoy full rights of citizenship. This may mean a move from rural to urban areas and a change in the source of income generation that has to be accounted for in the design of reintegration programs. Returning refugees and IDPs should be assisted for a sufficient amount of time to determine which location and livelihood will suit them best. For international organizations, this may involve greater creativity and flexibility in supporting returnees in urban settings. To accommodate inflows of returnees and their general mobility, national and local governments should develop urban planning strategies to manage the growth of their cities, coupled with regional development plans in rural areas that may involve investment in commercial agriculture. Linking rural and urban areas by strengthening government institutions can also provide returnees with more livelihood options and promote development.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Refugee Issues, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Middle East, Balkans, Burundi
  • Author: Sean Kane
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The two rising powers in the Middle East—Turkey and Iran—are neighbors to Iraq, its leading trading partners, and rapidly becoming the most influential external actors inside the country as the U.S. troop withdrawal proceeds. Although there is concern in Washington about bilateral cooperation between Turkey and Iran, their differing visions for the broader Middle East region are particularly evident in Iraq, where a renewal of the historical Ottoman-Persian rivalry in Mesopotamia is likely as the dominant American presence fades. Turkey aims for a robust Iraqi political process in which no single group dominates, sees a strong Iraq as contributing to both its own security and regional stability, and is actively investing in efforts to expand Iraqi oil and gas production to help meet its own energy needs and fulfill its goal of becoming the energy conduit from the Middle East to Europe. Iran prefers a passive neighbor with an explicitly sectarian political architecture that ensures friendly Shiite-led governments; sees a strong Iraq as an inherent obstacle to its own broader influence in the region and, in the nightmare scenario, once again possibly a direct conventional military threat; and looks askance at increased Iraqi hydrocarbon production as possible competition for its own oil exports. Baghdad meanwhile believes that it can become a leader in the Middle East but is still struggling to define an inclusive national identity and develop a foreign policy based on consensus. In its current fractured state, Iraq tends to invites external interference and is subsumed into the wider regional confrontation between the Sunni Arab defenders of the status quo and the “resistance axis” led by Shiite Iran. Turkey has an opening in Iraq because it is somewhat removed from this toxic Arab-Persian divide, welcomes a strong Iraq, and offers the Iraqi economy integration with international markets. Ankara could now allay Iraqi Shiite suspicions that it intends to act as a Sunni power in the country and not allow issues on which Turkish and Iraqi interests deviate to set the tone for their relationship. The U.S. conceptualization of an increased Turkish influence in Iraq as a balance to Iran's is limited and could undermine Turkey's core advantages by steering it towards a counterproductive sectarian approach. A more productive U.S. understanding is of Turkey as a regional power with the greatest alignment of interests in a strong, stable, and selfsufficient country that the Iraqis want and that the Obama administration has articulated as the goal of its Iraq policy. On the regional level, a strong and stable Iraq is a possible pivot for Turkish and Iranian ambitions, enabling Ankara and hindering Tehran. Washington may well have its differences with Turkey's new foreign policy of zero problems with its neighbors, but the Turkish blend of Islam, democracy, and soft power is a far more attractive regional template than the Iranian narrative of Islamic theocracy and hard power resistance. The United States should therefore continue to welcome increased Turkish-Iraqi economic, trade, and energy ties and where possible support their development as a key part of its post-2011 strategy for Iraq and the region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Imperialism, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Søren Jessen-Petersen
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: With the end of the Cold War, internal conflicts targeting civilian populations proliferated. As international political institutions struggled to figure out how to deal with these conflicts, humanitarian action often became a substitute for decisive political action or, more worryingly, was subsumed under a political and military agenda. The increasing militarization and politicization of humanitarian efforts have led to growing ineffectiveness of humanitarian action on the ground and greater dangers for humanitarian workers. Without a vigorous restatement of the principles of humanitarianism, humanitarian action will remain in a state of crisis and continue to be a selective tool for the powerful and hence fail in its global mission of protecting and restoring the dignity of human life. There are six main causes of the humanitarian crisis, which first began to manifest itself in the former Yugoslavia and Kosovo and later in Afghanistan and Iraq. These causes are principally structural and operational in nature. The new post–Cold War types of conflict have thrown humanitarian workers and organizations into the middle of conflicts, with a constant risk of being perceived as taking sides. Many humanitarian agencies and their donors too easily and uncritically accept the conditions for involvement set by the military in those increasingly frequent operations where security forces are part of the integrated response to a crisis. This problem is aggravated by the fact that key military forces often come from the countries that are also donors to the humanitarian organizations. As recent events in the Arab world demonstrate, there can be no stability if human security is not protected. The main protection responsibility is the legal protection of the displaced and refugees. Today, humanitarian staff is often obliged to provide physical protection and assistance in the midst of conflict zones. There are far too many humanitarian organizations present in new and major emergencies. For example, in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, there were more than nine hundred international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) on the ground. Although there has been considerable improvement in the coordination among humanitarian agencies, a continued lack of coherence among political, security, development, humanitarian, and human rights agencies continues to pose serious problems. In too many operations, the presence of a noticeable number of humanitarian NGOs from the North and the West give weight to the perception in many countries in the South that humanitarian operations are an integral part of a political strategy to maintain and increase the power and dominance of the North and West. The challenges confronting humanitarian action have no easy answers. To begin to address the crisis, the international community should pay more attention to conflict prevention to minimize human costs and to mitigate the need for humanitarian action. Militaries should be trained in how to respect humanitarian principles in their operations, and humanitarian organizations should be proactive in maintaining impartiality and independence of action.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Cold War, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Middle East, Balkans
  • Author: Robert M. Perito
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In 2004, the U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi security forces faced a growing challenge from insurgents and militia groups as the country drifted toward civil war. In street battles with heavily armed insurgent and militia groups, Iraq's fledgling police units mutinied under fire and resigned en masse, pointing out shortfalls in the U.S. police training program. In response, the U.S. government transferred leadership of the U.S. police assistance program from the State Department to the Defense Department, which created heavy police tactical units capable of dealing with armed groups. At the same time, the Iraqi interior ministry independently organized police commando units composed of former Iraqi soldiers that successfully fought alongside U.S. military forces. In 2005, the installation of a new Iraqi government and the escalation of sectarian violence brought a change in the composition of the Iraqi police commando units. The new interior minister, a senior Shiite party official, enabled members of Shiite militia groups to take over the police commando units and engage in the kidnap, torture, and murder of Sunnis. To control police death squads, the U.S. military combined all of Iraq's heavy police and police commando units into a new entity, the Iraq National Police (INP). In October 2006, the U.S. military began a program to retrain police commando units that were engaged in sectarian violence. Over the following year, Iraq's new interior minister, Jawad al-Bolani, undertook a program to reform the INP, appointing a new commanding general, purging the officer corps, and inviting a training team from the Italian Carabinieri to provide advanced instruction for INP units. In 2007, INP units successfully partnered with U.S. combat brigade teams that were deployed to Baghdad as part of President Bush's surge of U.S. military force into Iraq. Over the next two years, the valor of Iraqi constabulary units and their acceptance in both Sunni and Shiite areas brought a new name, the Iraq Federal Police (IFP), and the deployment of an IFP unit to every province in the country. Lessons learned in the development of an indigenous police constabulary in Iraq should be applied to current and future stability operation.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Law Enforcement, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Mark Sedra
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The events of the Arab Spring are a unique and unprecedented opportunity for democratic political change for the Middle East and North Africa, but the political transitions in that region remain fragile. The United States and other external actors can help the new democratic regimes by supporting their efforts at security sector reform (SSR).
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Theo Dolan, Alexis Toriello
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Salam Shabab (Peace Youth) is a unique reality TV series filmed in Iraq that brought together youth from six provinces of Iraq to compete for a chance to become youth “Ambassadors of Peace.” The views of young Iraqis participating in Salam Shabab, along with new surveys on youth perspectives, have begun to create a potential profile of the next generation of Iraqi leaders. Many Iraqi youth express conflicting views on politics and youth participation in Iraq. They are disappointed about not having their voices heard by political and civil society leaders, yet optimistic about their role in shaping the future of their country. Iraqi teenagers express tremendous pride in their local communities, which they associate with peace, unity and coexistence. Yet, the same youth often cannot clearly define what national identity means to them. Regarding their perceptions on building peace, Iraqi youth indicate that peace in Iraq can be achieved through unifying factors such as cross-cultural dialogue. According to them, the similarities among diverse people are more powerful in building peace than their differences. If given the opportunity, a vast majority of Iraqi youth are willing to take on a peacebuilding role, in part by connecting with other youth in Iraq and internationally.
  • Topic: Mass Media, Youth Culture
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Raymond Gilpin, Amal A. Kandeel, Paul Sullivan
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Limited opportunities for economic progress and political expression helped force Egypt's youthful population on the streets and precipitated the demise of long-time leader Hosni Mubarak. Prospects for stability are linked to the government's ability to address youth employment—a core demand of the protesters. The January/February 2011 protests could be the tip of the iceberg. Robust and sustained action is needed to improve human security, starting with employment and income generation opportunities. An effective economic transition in Egypt need not be a zero-sum game. Done correctly, employment-based economic restructuring that focuses on the most vulnerable (and volatile) segments of the population could lay the foundation for a stronger, stable and more peaceful Egypt. The next steps in Egypt's revolution will tackle the difficult task of expanding economic opportunity and providing space for more representative, accountable and participatory governance. Fundamentally, this would require the Egyptian government and military to progressively cede control of the levers of economic power. Employment creation that focuses on the youth is not a silver bullet and will not guarantee success on its own. It will, however, broaden the constituency for reform by making Egypt's youth bulge more involved in shaping the destiny of the country's 82 million citizens.
  • Topic: Demographics, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Jason Gluck
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Countries emerging from authoritarianism frequently face constitutional challenges, among them sequencing constitutional reform with a transition to democracy, designing a constitutional review process that is seen as legitimate, and addressing substantive constitutional concerns. Sequencing constitutional reform and elections begs the questions who should lead the constitutional reform and when should it be conducted. Constitutional reform prior to elections can leave stewardship over the constitution-making process to unelected and perhaps not wholly trusted transitional governments. Elections prior to constitutional reform may be tantamount to simply handing the machinery of authoritarianism to a new set of actors. Egypt and Tunisia offer different paths to transition and each face criticism. In the end, a less “democratic” solution might be the best one. Whatever the chosen process for constitutional reform, legitimacy must remain the sine non qua of a successful constitution-making moment. Adherence to guiding principles of inclusivity, participation, transparency, consensus and national ownership can legitimize the constitution-making process and the final document itself. Just as the history, society, culture, and preferences of every country is unique, so too is every constitution. Certain common issues, however, are likely to be front and center for countries transitioning from authoritarian rule to democracy. This Peace Brief offers a brief examination of many of these commonly recurring issues.
  • Topic: Democratization, Popular Revolt
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Jason Gluck, Scott Worden, Colette Rausch, Vivienne O'Connor
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Popular uprisings throughout the Middle East and North Africa are demanding justice, security, and accountability— defining features of the rule of law. Constitutional reform is a priority, but it must be done by legitimate representatives of the people, not hangovers from the past. Principles of inclusivity, transparency, and participation must be at the heart of the process.
  • Topic: Democratization, Law
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Kosovo, Nepal, North Africa
  • Author: Toby C. Jones
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Saudi Arabia is pursuing a combination of domestic and regional policies that risk destabilizing the Persian Gulf and that risk undermining the United States interests there. Amid calls for political change, Saudi Arabia is failing to address pressing concerns about its political system and the need for political reform. Instead of responding favorably to calls for more political openness, the Kingdom is pursuing a risky domestic agenda, which ignores the social, economic, and political grievances that might fuel popular mobilization.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Democratization, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Emma Sky
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Since the fall of the former regime in 2003, there has been continuous concern that fighting might break out between the Arabs and the Kurds over Kirkuk and the boundary of the Kurdistan Regional Government.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Diplomacy, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Sean Kane, William Taylor
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: With U.S. military forces scheduled to depart Iraq in December of this year, the State Department and other civilian agencies are being asked to assume a scale of operational and programmatic responsibilities far beyond any other embassy in recent memory. The capacity of the U.S. civilian agencies to assume these responsibilities does not now fully exist. Notably, securing and moving U.S. civilians will require more than 5,000 security contractors. A limited U.S. military contingent post-2011 may well be more cost-effective than private security guards and could also relieve State and other civilian agencies of logistical and security responsibilities. This would enable them to focus on their comparative advantages: diplomacy and development assistance. Planning for the post-2011 U.S. mission in Iraq, however, remains hampered by uncertainty as to whether the Iraqi government will request an extension of the American military presence in the country. A small follow-on U.S. military force would appear to safeguard Iraqi stability and make the achievement of U.S. strategic objectives in Iraq more likely, but cannot be counted on. Should such a request not be received from the Iraqi government, the U.S. may need to reduce the planned scale and scope of its operations and goals in Iraq.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Amr al-Azm
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Syrian regime was initially able to count on its neighbors in two key areas: ensuring that their territories do not become a safe haven for Syrian dissidents and continuing to receive their support on the regional and international level. This support has since eroded as a result of the regime's inability to contain the ever-escalating level of violence being perpetrated against the protesters. The gravest concern for the regime is the emergence of a Benghazi scenario in a city like Aleppo as a result of Turkish military intervention. The Syrian regime now finds itself in an ever-increasing cycle of isolation and increased internal repression.
  • Topic: Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Sean Kane, Elie Abouaoun
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iraq's reaction to the popular uprising in Syria is mostly determined by the chaos its Shiite-led government believes would follow the sudden collapse of Bashar al-Assad's regime. Baghdad possesses limited ability to influence the course of events in Syria, but is using this to provide modest support to the Assad regime. The fractured and sectarian nature of Iraqi politics, however, militates against Baghdad developing a decisive position on the way forward in Syria.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Mona Yacoubian
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Lebanese society is starkly divided on Syria, but all sides fear the country's potential descent into a sectarian civil war and seek to insulate Lebanon from its fallout. Lebanon's key political actors hold vastly different views on their definitions of interests, threat perceptions and desirable outcomes in Syria. Lebanon has already witnessed some negative Syrian spillover. Going forward, key concerns will center on both directed threats and uncontrolled fallout from worsening instability inside Syria. Lebanon's ability to influence the conflict dynamics inside Syria is limited.
  • Topic: Islam, Armed Struggle, Regime Change, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Emile Hokayem
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The unrest in Syria offers the Gulf States an opportunity to weaken or even dislodge an Assad regime aligned with Iran, but their ability to project power or shape events in Syria is limited. Dislike of the Assad regime doesn't necessarily align Gulf interests and long-term vision for Syria. Moreover, cooperation on diplomacy and strategy is lacking. Sectarianism, most evidenced in media commentary and clerical statements, is already a major feature of Gulf discourse on Syria. Parts of the Syrian opposition have approached and have been courted by Gulf governments. Still, a degree of unease and mistrust continues to define their relations.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Ehud Eiran
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Israel has been generally quiet regarding the recent turmoil in Syria, a reflection of the issue\'s relative low priority, as well as Israel\'s limited influence on internal Syrian matters. Israel\'s preferred outcome would be a stable Syrian regime that disassociates itself from the “axis of resistance,” poses no bilateral threats, and controls the border area—though Israel sees no clear path for achieving these aims. The view in Israel is that the basic structure of deterrence still holds vis-à-vis Syria and the regime—even in its desperate circumstances—is unlikely to provoke Israel in dramatic ways.
  • Topic: Security, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Edward W. Gnehm Jr
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The Government of Jordan is deeply concerned about the turmoil in Syria, fearing the spillover effect and knowing Syria's historic capacity to undermine Jordanian internal stability. Initial official Jordanian reaction has been cautious, to avoid antagonizing Syria and provoking retaliation. There is great anxiety over what may follow the collapse of the Assad regime. Jordan is under increased pressure from both internal elements and external powers to toughen its public posture toward Damascus. Ultimately, Amman will react carefully to events in Syria, taking actions that best ensure the security of the state and the survival of the monarchy.
  • Topic: Security, Regime Change, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Daniel Brumberg
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This report offers a set of general and country-specific findings and recommendations to assist the Obama administration in its efforts to tackle escalating security challenges while sustaining diplomatic, institutional and economic support for democracy and human rights in the Greater Middle East.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Rusty Barber, William B. Taylor
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Successful attacks on key government buildings underscore worries about whether Iraqis can manage their own security. They mask, however, something new in Iraqi society: an emerging vox populi that found potent expression in provincial elections last January, despite the odds. As national elections approach in March, political leaders are realizing that they ignore this growing voice at their peril. Aware that American attention is shifting towards other problems at home and abroad, Iraqis are nervously contemplating how much U.S. support they can expect going forward in their fragile experiment in democratic governance. The U.S. role in helping Iraqis prepare for national elections has been crucial and largely welcome—it should continue through the transition to a new government. Successful complete withdrawal by 2012 depends on an Iraqi government that is responsive to its people’s basic needs and capable of evolving peacefully via fair elections. Longer term, there are several critical areas on which a distracted and resource stretched America should focus. These include intensifying efforts to help Arabs and Kurds resolve disputes and forestall the need for an extended U.S. military presence in northern Iraq. Helping Iraq protect its borders – a vulnerability highlighted by Iran’s recent incursion—and nudging the Gulf Arab states to more actively engage Iraq as an emerging partner in regional security and economic structures will also be key to stability inside and beyond Iraq’s borders. If water is the “new oil” in terms of its resource value and potential to create conflict, that future is now playing out in Iraq. Shortages and poor quality are already causing serious health and economic problems, displacement and raising tensions with Iraq’s neighbors. The U.S. can help here on both the diplomatic and technical sides of the issue.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Robert M. Perito
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This report offers a set of general and country-specific findings and recommendations to assist the Obama administration in its efforts to tackle escalating security challenges while sustaining diplomatic, institutional and economic support for democracy and human rights in the Greater Middle East.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Security, Defense Policy, International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Sean Kane
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iraq's March 2010 elections delivered a surprising virtual tie in the ethnically mixed and strategically important province of Kirkuk, making it an opportune time for fresh thinking on how to address persistent disputes over its status.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Governance
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Semira Nikou
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iran has subsidized petroleum products, basic foodstuffs, medical goods and utilities since 1980, first to manage hardships during the eight-year war with Iraq, and then to prevent political and economic challenges after the war. Since the 1990s, three presidents have tried to cut back subsidies that are now estimated to cost Iran between $70 billion and $100 billion annually. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won parliamentary approval for a controversial plan to phase out subsides by 2015. Under the plan, universal price controls are to be replaced with small cash payments to families and direct support of industries. Some economists are concerned that lifting price controls will trigger dramatic rises in inflation and unemployment. The cutbacks come at a time the government already faces serious economic troubles and tougher international sanctions. For the public, the change is likely to produce the most economic disruption since the revolution. Economic reforms have triggered unrest in the past. If reform succeeds, however, the program could help reduce waste, shrink state outlays and enhance efficiency and productivity.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Tara Nesvaderani
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iran has the most politically active youth among the 57 nations of the Islamic world. As the most restive segment of their society, Iranian youth also represent one of the greatest longterm threats to the current form of theocratic rule. Young activists have heavily influenced the Islamic Republic's political agenda over the past 13 years. After the 2009 presidential election, youth and women were the two biggest blocs behind the region's first sustained “people power” movement for democratic change, creating a new political model in the Middle East. The Islamic Republic has forcibly regained control over the most rebellious sector of society through mass detentions of young activists, expulsions from universities and widening the powers of its own young paramilitary forces. Nevertheless, the demands from young people have not changed over the past year, and their anger is boiling just beneath the surface. The regime also remains vulnerable because it has failed to address basic socioeconomic problems among youth. The impact of Iran's youth on the political, economic and social agenda of the country over the next 25 years is important for U.S. policymakers to consider when facing complex decisions in balancing Iran's nuclear program and its internal political turmoil.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics, Youth Culture
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The top concern for both Riyadh and Damascus remains blowback from Iraq: the ascendance of ethnic and sectarian identity and the spread of Islamist militancy. The need to contain this threat is the dominant force that shapes their relations with Iraq. Both Syria and Saudi Arabia have a vital interest in ensuring that Iraq's emerging political order is inclusive of Sunni Arab Iraqis, who have not yet been fully incorporated into Iraqi institutions. Syria and Saudi Arabia do not look at Iraq in isolation, nor do they assign it top priority among their foreign policy concerns. For them, Iraq is merely one element in a comprehensive view encompassing other regional players (including the U.S. and Iran) and other regional crises, particularly the Arab-Israeli conflict. Lingering resentment and bitterness toward Washington is now mixed with intense curiosity and modest optimism about President Barack Obama. Saudis still bristle when recalling how the Bush Administration sidelined Riyadh on Iraqi matters; as do Syrians, who believe the previous administration was intent on isolating and undermining Damascus. Iraq remains very much isolated in its neighborhood. Recent Progress on regional cooperation notwithstanding, these two neighbors are still focused more on containment than engagement.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Ethnic Conflict, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Steven Simon
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: From a strategic perspective, Syria has gained some advantages and some disadvantages since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. President Bashar al - Asad, considered a callow leader five years ago, faced a testing period in 2003–06 and did more than merely survive. He withstood a threat of imminent regime change at the hands of the United States, and weathered heavy international fallout from the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and the summer war in 2006 between Israel and Hezbollah, which Syria has long supported. Bashar has emerged a cagey geopolitical operator, able to manage a delicate strategic balance, and Syria is now stronger than it has been at any time in recent history. Yet Syria faces a number of internal challenges due to Iraq's instability. Primary among these is coping socially, economically, and politically with a huge influx of Iraqi refugees, and mitigating the effect that sectarian (Shia-Sunni) and ethnic (Arab-Kurd) conflict in Iraq has on the fragile status quo in Syria.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Regional Cooperation, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Daniel Brumberg, Eriks Berzins
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: On February 23, 2009, the Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), together with the United Nations Association-USA and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, held a roundtable discussion among top Middle East experts and former United States Government officials. Held at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, the meeting's purpose was to discuss prospects for creating a diplomatic framework through which the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran can address issues of common concern in the Middle East and South Asia, and in so doing, advance an engagement dynamic that might eventually open the doors for rapprochement between the two countries.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Foreign Policy, Peace Studies, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Asia, United Nations
  • Author: Paul Scham, Osama Abu-Irshaid
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Although peaceful coexistence between Israel and Hamas is clearly not possible under the formulations that comprise Hamas's 1988 charter, Hamas has, in practice, moved well beyond its charter. Indeed, Hamas has been carefully and consciously adjusting its political program for years and has sent repeated signals that it may be ready to begin a process of coexisting with Israel. As evidenced by numerous statements, Hamas is not hostile to Jews because of religion. Rather, Hamas's view toward Israel is based on a fundamental belief that Israel has occupied land that is inherently Palestinian and Islamic. For Hamas, “recognition” of Israel would represent a negation of the rightness of its own cause and would be indefensible under Islam. It considers unacceptable for itself the actions of those Muslim countries that have recognized Israel, such as Egypt and Jordan, and those that have indicated their willingness to do so, such as Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab League, because they have provided no theological justification for their policies toward Israel. Although Hamas, as an Islamic organization, will not transgress shari'a, which it understands as forbidding recognition, it has formulated mechanisms that allow it to deal with the reality of Israel as a fait accompli. These mechanisms include the religious concepts of tahadiya and hudna and Hamas's own concept of “Palestinian legitimacy.” Tahadiya refers to a short-term calming period between conflicting parties during which differences are not put aside. A tahadiya stopped most violence between Hamas and Israel from June to December 2008. Hudna is a truce for a specific period, which is based on the practice of the Prophet Mohammad and on subsequent events in Muslim history. Hamas has indicated on a number of occasions its willingness to accede to a hudna with Israel, assuming basic Palestinian rights as set forth in the Arab Peace Initiative (API) are agreed to first. Palestinian legitimacy is a term employed by Hamas to describe its willingness to consider accepting a binding peace treaty, such as the proposal set forth in the API, so long as the treaty is first ratified by the Palestinian people in a referendum. Although Hamas would not directly participate in peace negotiations with Israel, Hamas has indicated that it would be willing to be part of a Palestinian coalition government with Fatah under which Fatah would negotiate the actual treaty. Although a peace process under such circumstances might, for Israelis and Westerners, seem involved, arcane, and of dubious utility, it is necessary to consider the possibility of such a process because there is no realistic scenario under which Hamas will disappear. Understanding the Islamic bases of Hamas's policies and worldview will be essential for the success of any process in which it is engaged.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan
  • Author: Elizabeth F. Thompson
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Foreign affairs experts routinely use historical analogy to develop and justify policy. However, as professional historians have long noted, attractive analogies often lead to bad policies. Officials regularly choose analogies that neglect or distort the historical case they aim to illuminate. Nonetheless, history can be used effectively in international relations. To do so, practitioners must first recognize the difference between historical analogy and precedent. Historical precedent, drawn from the past of the region in question, is a safer guide to policy than historical analogy, which is based on comparisons to events in other regions. Because historical precedent is a self-limiting form of analogy restricted to a certain place, people, and time, it provides a better indication of how a certain society understands and responds to a given situation. The recent U.S. intervention in Iraq highlights the misuses of history: American leaders employed analogies to World War II to justify the invasion and to predict success in establishing a democratic regime after. These analogies proved to be a poor guide to nation building in the short term. In the long term, they have deeply aggravated U.S. relations with Iraqis and the rest of the Arab world. A more effective use of history would have been to refer to the precedent of World War I, a crucial moment when American policy could have supported indigenous Arab constitutional democracy—but, fatefully, did not. For the new administration, the Arabs' experience of “justice interrupted” after World War I can still be a useful touchstone for promoting democracy in the region. This precedent alerts us that foreign intervention can spark a deep-seated and negative political reaction in the postcolonial Arab world and that reform in Arab politics must begin with respect for national sovereignty. It also reminds us that constitutionalism and the desire to participate in the community of international law are enduring values in Arab politics.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: David Waldner
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Post-conflict, post-totalitarian societies like Iraq possess many economic, political, social, and cultural characteristics that are not conducive to democratic governance. A central pillar of democracy promotion is that judicious institutional engineering—crafting new institutions and other elements outlining the democratic rules of the game—can overcome these obstacles and engender stable democracies.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Democratization, Government, Regime Change, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Deborah Isser, Peter Van der Auweraert
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iraq has experienced several waves of mass displacement over the last forty years that have left complex land and property crises in their wake. As security has improved and some of the nearly five million displaced Iraqis have begun to come home, resolution of these issues are at the fore of sustainable return.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, Migration, Religion, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Frederic C. Hof
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Syrian-Israeli “proximity” peace talks orchestrated by Turkey in 2008 revived a long-dormant track of the Arab-Israeli peace process. Although the talks were sus¬pended because of Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip, Israeli-Syrian peace might well facilitate a Palestinian state at peace with Israel.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: David Smock, Qamar-ul Huda
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Muslims in general and Muslim leaders particularly have often been severely criticized for not more energetically condemning the violent acts of Muslim extremists. Violent extremists are on one edge of the Muslim community. They are counter-balanced by a growing movement of Muslim peacemakers.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Elizabeth Detwiler
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: USIP recently hosted Dr. Ali Al-Dabbagh, official spokesman for the Iraqi government, He unveiled a far-reaching regional initiative to increase economic and strategic cooperation in the Middle East. The initiative represents a new level of consciousness and independence in Iraqi foreign policy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Alistair Harris
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Last week's international donor conference to address the question of humanitarian assistance to Gaza underscores the myriad challenges confronting the process. Namely, how should the international community respond to the complex issues surrounding assistance in post-conflict recovery and reconstruction, particularly when several key donors reject any contact with Hamas, the governing authority on the ground? By any estimation, the Gaza reconstruction process will face several perplexing issues: How can billions of US dollars be effectively, transparently and accountably dispersed in a coordinated way, when several key donors and the Government of Israel reject any moves that will bolster the fortunes of Hamas, who m they classify as a terrorist organisation? What impact will an emerging Palestinian National Unity Government have on the mechanisms for overcoming many donors' reluctance to deal directly with Hamas? What opportunities and challenges does the reconstruction of Gaza pose for a rapprochement between Hamas and Fatah? Who will lead the reconstruction process and how will meaningful activity take place in the face of severe restrictions on access and movement? With Hamas in power in Gaza and Israel ref using to consider opening their common borders until kidnapped Israeli Defence Forces Corporal Gilad Shalit is released by Hamas, how is meaningful recovery and reconstruction even possible? In the absence of a credible political process, what use is reconstruction anyway if it merely returns the population of Gaza to their pre-conflict socio-economic imperilment? Lebanon faced a similar situation following the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Political Violence, Humanitarian Aid, Peace Studies, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza, Lebanon
  • Author: Daniel Serwer, Sam Parker
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In meetings conducted in Baghdad in May 2009, senior Iraqi leaders indicated how they interpret January's provincial election results, expressed concerns about the recent downturn in security, lamented the tremendous financial pressure the government is feeling due to the decline in oil prices, and projected their hopes for national elections slated for 30 January 2010. The Iraq is, numbering about 20, represented the highest level of nearly all of the main Iraqi political factions, including leaders in the Council of Representatives (COR), members of the presidency, and top officials in the government.
  • Topic: Democratization
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad, Arabia
  • Author: Yehuda Greenfield-Gilat
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The widely discussed Syrian-Israeli peace park concept is rooted in the assumption that Syrian and Israeli "good will" for cooperation is sufficient to mobilize a long-lasting, firm peace treaty between the two countries. The current discussions on a layout for a peace park provide a description of the mechanisms that will control and maintain the park, but fail to provide the insights for how to keep these mechanisms functioning in one, five or ten years into the future. This paper argues that given the lack of stabilizing factors in an Israeli-Syrian partnership, even if negotiations succeed and an agreement is signed, the probability of failure during implementation is high.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: A. Heather Coyne, Barbara Zasloff, Adina Shapiro
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: President Barack Obama declared in his June 4thaddress at Cairo University that “all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century.” His emphasis throughout the speech on the importance of educational initiatives reflects the central role that education can play in preparing communities for change. This is particularly relevant in regard to the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. Education can be an important component of fostering positive change in social values, attitudes and skills that are necessary to overcome the pain of conflict and to cope with the frustrations involved in a peace process. Alternatively, education can reinforce conflict-producing myths and stereotypes, serving as a battleground where social groups are demonized, and different communities compete over history and the society's narratives.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Middle East, South Africa, Arabia, Germany, North Ireland
  • Author: Mona Yacoubian
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Lebanon's recently announced national unity government has eased fears that the country would once again be mired in a dangerous political stalemate. Yet, despite the recent breakthrough, Lebanon's unstable equilibrium -- marked by both internal and regional tensions -- could still devolve into serious violence. Deep seated sectarian animosities persist, raising the prospects for political instability and civil strife if unaddressed. Regionally, mounting tensions with Israel raise the worrisome possibility of isolated border incidents spiraling into more serious conflict. Taken together these two underlying challenges to stability -- internal civil unrest and regional conflict with Israel -- could undermine Lebanon's fragile peace. This paper will examine internal challenges to Lebanon's stability.
  • Topic: Democratization, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Lebanon
  • Author: Joel Whitaker, Anand Varghese
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In an event titled "Online Discourse in the Arab World: Dispelling the Myths," the U.S. Institute of Peace's Center of Innovation for Science, Technology, and Peacebuilding, in collaboration with Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet Society, presented findings from an unprecedented, comprehensive mapping of the Arabic-language blogosphere.
  • Topic: Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Barbara Slavin
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iran has been a significant player in the Middle East, influencing and being influenced by its neighbors since long before the advent of the petrodollar or the Islamic revolution of 1979. But in the past five years, Iran's regional power has expanded considerably. Benefit - ing from Bush administration policies—especially the toppling of Saddam Hussein—as well as record oil prices, Iran has deepened its relationships with militant factions in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine and accelerated a nuclear program that could give it the ability to make atomic weapons within the next few years. President Bush, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and other administration officials have repeatedly labeled Iran a major, if not the major, threat to U.S. interests and U.S. allies in the Middle East. Yet Iran's reach remains constrained by an open-ended U.S. military presence in the region, domestic weakness, and historic divisions between Arabs and Persians, Sunnis and Shiites, and among Shiites. Though happy to take advantage of power vacuums, Iran neither wants nor is able to recreate the Persian Empire, nor is it about to become a second Soviet Union. As Mohammad Atrianfar, a veteran publisher of Iranian reformist newspapers, said in a March interview in Tehran, “We are not going to stretch our legs beyond the capacity of our carpets.”
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Robert M. Perito
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Section 1207 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of FY 2006 and FY 2007 authorized the Defense Department (DOD) to provide up to $200 million over two years in funds, services, and defense articles to the State Department (DOS) for security, reconstruction, and stabilization. The DOD transferred over $99 million in Section 1207 assistance to the DOS to fund projects in Haiti ($20m), Somalia ($25m), Nepal ($10m), Colombia ($4m), trans- Sahara Africa ($15m), Yemen ($8.8m), and Southeast Asia ($16.9m). Congress's intent in authorizing this program was to jump start the new State Department Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization. It was also to promote a “whole of government” approach to security-assistance programs. After two years' experience, publication of principles and guidelines for 1207 project applications should solve problems resulting from a lack of awareness of the program and confusion over leadership and application procedures. Adding USAID to the decision-making Technical Advisory Committee should remove the largest source of interagency tension that has troubled the program. Greater clarity is needed concerning the relative weight of the program's priorities, which include security, counterterrorism, stabilization, and reconstruction and avoiding the need to deploy U.S. military forces. There is a need for the DOD and DOS to provide additional resources to embassies that are expected to complete a relatively complicated application form. There is also a need for the DOD to streamline the provision of funds so the money arrives in real time before circumstances change and projects cannot be implemented. Ultimately, the DOS and DOD need to honor the intent of Congress and request that Congress appropriate funds directly to the DOS for these projects.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Middle East, Central America
  • Author: David Steele
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: A Window of opportunity now exists for post-conflict reconstruction in Iraq despite the resurgence of violence in the spring of 2008. The creation of Sunni Awakening Councils, the ongoing presence of sufficient U.S. troops, and the decrease in combat activity by the Mahdi Army provide a real, though tenuous, opportunity to continue building on the gains of the past year. In all societies emerging from conflict, reconciliation efforts are the glue that holds the post-conflict reconstruction process together. Reconciliation must be pursued not only on national but also on local levels and not only in the political but also in the social domain. At all points within a society, people and groups must be encouraged to work together constructively for the common good. Reconciliation in Iraq must be approached with sensitivity to its shame-oriented culture, which emphasizes community, authority, honor, and hospitality. Reconciliation must also be approached with an awareness of the importance of primary identity markers—religion, ethnicity, tribe, and family—and the possibilities for creating bonds based on secondary markers—class, profession, internally displaced persons (IDP) status, and so forth. Moving toward reconciliation in the context of slevere and widespread violence requires that special attention be given to steps one can take to break the pattern of revenge and transform relationships. These steps include mourning, confronting fears, identifying needs, acknowledging responsibility, envisioning restorative and operational justice, and choosing to forgive. When good groundwork has been laid in relationship building, then groups in conflict are better able to engage in constructive dispute resolution. Seven elements form the basis for this process of negotiation or problem solving: identifying interests, alternatives, options, and criteria, and working on relationships, communication, and commitments. Internationals need to develop programming that focuses on process, rather than substance, to train and equip local Iraqis to be more effective mediators and facilitators. This programming should include conflict assessment, psychosocial and spiritual healing, conflict resolution training, facilitated dialogue, and problem solving.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Donald C. F. Daniel
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Much progress has been achieved over the last decade and a half in the development and use of peace operations as a tool to quell conflicts, but there are limits to how much more progress can be expected. The number of troop contributors and troops deployed to peace operations has recently reached unprecedented highs, but the bulk of troops came from a limited number of states. The relationship between the United Nations and non-UN peacekeepers seems for the most part complementary. Nonetheless, the rise in non-UN peace operations has probably led to the United Nations becoming too dependent on too small a base of lesser-developed states. The characteristics of most troop contributors (e.g., type of governance, national quality of life, ground-force size) correlate with their level of contribution, but even politically willing nations with the “right” characteristics can likely deploy only a small percentage of their troops to operations at any one time. While Europe and Africa have achieved the most progress in developing institutional capacities, each continent confronts problems of interinstitutional relations and resource shortages. Russia's hegemonic role in Eurasia and the United States' historical legacy in Latin America have hindered development of comprehensive institutional capacities for peace operations in each region. East Asia may slowly be moving beyond ideational strictures that crippled efforts to develop regional capacities. Institutional progress is not expected in South Asia and the Middle East, and states of each region should not be expected to send military units to intraregional operations. Nearly all South Asian countries, however, will be major players in UN operations. A few exceptions aside, Mideast states will remain bit players on the world scene. Demand for easy or moderately challenging operations will generally be met, but the hazardous missions most apt to occur will be called for by states possessing the wherewithal to take them on and bring others along.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, International Cooperation, Peace Studies, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, United States, Europe, South Asia, Eurasia, Middle East, East Asia, Latin America
  • Author: Jeremiah S. Pam
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The U.S. Treasury Department's approach to helping states build and strengthen their public institutions responsible for financial management is worth studying both because of the intrinsic importance of these institutions to an adequately functioning government and because it illustrates some key dynamics underlying state-building assistance more generally. A key premise of Treasury's approach is a primary orientation toward assisting local government institutions on mutually agreed-upon reform programs, based on a thorough understanding of the local administrative systems to be reformed. This orientation is reinforced by the fact that Treasury's contribution is typically only a small number of policy officials and embedded technical advisors, rather than large U.S.-funded programs. In the conventional case where state-building and institution-strengthening are pursued as part of a long-term development strategy, Treasury provides assistance through two activities that are organizationally and functionally distinct: advisors fielded by Treasury's Office of Technical Assistance (OTA), who are technical experts and usually based within local institutions at the request of host governments, and financial attachés, who act as financial policy officials/diplomats and are based at the U.S. embassies in a smaller group of countries. extraordinary situations where state-building follows an intervention (as in Iraq), deployed technical experts need to be partnered with a senior policy official (such as the Treasury attaché) who can create space for local institution–oriented work by shaping (and, where necessary, resisting) the many “centrifugal” external forces— from Washington, the military, and other civilian and international agencies—pulling in other directions. Improving interagency coordination mechanisms in Washington might do relatively little to enhance effectiveness by itself. Indeed, tighter Washington interagency “alignment” could end up strengthening Washington coordinating bodies at the expense of knowledgeable field officials and experts. It may be better to create the conditions for more effective interagency coordination in the field by deploying senior policy champions who both understand the importance of a local institution-oriented approach and possess sufficient delegated authority to tame the centrifugal forces necessary to make space for it. An expeditionary corps of technical experts by itself is insufficient to deal with the unconventional challenges presented by post-intervention state-building operations because the centrifugal forces present in such an environment are strong enough to undermine even the most sound assistance program absent the support of appropriately oriented policy champions.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Washington, Middle East
  • Author: John W. Limbert
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Both Iranian and American sides come to the negotiating table burdened with years of accumulated grievances and suspicions. Their recent history has led both sides to assume the worst about the other and to see it as infinitely devious, hostile, and duplicitous. Yet, while talking to Iran may sometimes be difficult and unpleasant, it is also worth doing and may help both sides to find common interests lurking behind walls of hostility and distrust. To enhance the prospects of a fruitful encounter, American officials should pay attention to a variety of traits that their Iranian counterparts are likely to demonstrate. Although some of these characteristics might make productive negotiation difficult, American negotiators should remain patient and focused on the issues under discussion. Iranian negotiators may base their arguments on an abstract ideal of “justice” instead of defined legal obligations. This distrust of legalistic argument springs from the belief held by many Iranians that the great powers have long manipulated international law and the international system to take advantage of weaker countries. The American negotiator should, therefore, look for unambiguous, mutually agreeable criteria that both define ideals of justice and avoid legal jargon. The combination of Iran's great imperial past and its weakness in the last three hundred years has created a gap between rhetoric and reality. Yet, while history certainly matters to Iranians, they will on occasion bury the past to reach an agreement, especially if that agreement serves a larger interest. There are parallel governing structures within the Islamic Republic, making it difficult but also important for American negotiators to be sure they are talking to the right people. The factionalization of the Iranian political system can make Iranian negotiators reluctant to reach an agreement lest they become vulnerable to charges of “selling out” to foreigners. Grand gestures may overshadow the substance of issues under negotiation, and American negotiators need to be able to distinguish substance from political theater. Iranians feel that they have often been treated as fools in political contacts, and they will be very sensitive to American attitudes. If they sense that the American side considers them irrational and unreasonable, they are likely to react in exactly that way. American negotiators should thus treat their Iranian counterparts with professional respect and not lecture them on what is in Iran's national interest. The Islamic Republic believes itself surrounded by hostile American, Arab, Turkish, and Sunni forces, all determined to bring about its downfall. Conspiracy theories are very popular, and events such as the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War are often considered the outcome of great power plots. If an American negotiator senses that that the Iranians are overplaying a hand and pushing a momentary advantage beyond its value, the best response is to ask, “On what basis are you asking for that?” and to insist that the Iranian side come up with some understandable basis for its position. Mediation or arbitration by an impartial body can sometimes help to counter what appear to be unreasonable demands. What works in any negotiation—preparation, knowing each side's best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA), building relationships, and understanding underlying interests—will work in negotiations with Iranians. What can undermine any negotiation—such as ill-advised public statements—can also compromise negotiations with Iranians.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Imad Harb
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iraq's higher education sector has the potential to play an important role in overcoming the country's widening sectarian divides and fostering long-term peace and stability. As a leading actor within Iraq's civil society, it could offer an institutional venue for resolving the country's political, social, and economic problems while promoting respect for human rights and democratic principles both on campus and in the wider society. Iraq's universities flourished in the 1960s and 1970s. However, after the rise of Saddam Hussein to power in 1979, they gradually lost their intellectual dynamism and became increasingly politicized in the service of the regime. UN sanctions imposed after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 helped to isolate and impoverish the higher education sector. Universities, many of which were already in poor physical shape, were looted in the chaos that accompanied the invasion of 2003. Hundreds of millions of dollars are needed to rehabilitate campuses, but the budget for higher education is meager and most is earmarked for wages and salaries. Universities have also been hit hard by the violence that has followed the invasion. Hundreds of university professors and administrators have been killed and thousands have fled abroad. Meanwhile, sectarianism has begun to cast a dark shadow over student life. Campuses are highly politicized with student organizations vying, sometimes violently, for influence. There also has been an increase in religiosity and in efforts, especially in the south, to enforce veiling of women and separation of the sexes. The dismal situation is made worse by the fact that curriculum materials in all fields are in short supply, textbooks are outdated, administrative authority is overcentralized, new students are poorly prepared, and the teaching staff is inadequately trained. The international community has made a variety of efforts to support the rejuvenation of Iraq's universities by donating funds, providing expertise, and launching cooperative initiatives. International assistance has been helpful, but if the higher education sector is to reclaim its earlier dynamism and play a leading role in national reconstruction, it needs a comprehensive program of reform. Any package of reforms must emphasize the need to update and expand the curriculum. Universities should embrace new disciplines that will instruct students in conflict resolution, reconciliation, intercommunal tolerance, institution building, civil society development, women's studies, democracy, and human rights. Another pressing requirement is to give academics and students access to foreign scholars and publications through a series of international seminars and workshops and via a large-scale program of translating foreign-language books and journals into Arabic. Efforts must also be made to train faculty in new technologies and subjects and to increase the number of faculty who hold doctoral degrees. Foreign donors and governments should also offer scholarships abroad to Iraqi students and professors to help alleviate the burden of training a new class of university personnel. Like other public-sector institutions, higher education institutions are overcentralized and need more freedom to determine their own policies, procedures, and curricula. Iraqis cannot accomplish these reforms by themselves. They need the sustained support of foreign governments, international bodies, and non-governmental organizations if they are to demonstrate how universities in a divided society can play a leading role in promoting civic peace.
  • Topic: Democratization, Education, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Robert Grace
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Over the past several months, Syrian authorities have engaged in a harsh campaign of repression against leading dissidents and human rights activists. The crackdown, overshadowed by developments elsewhere in the region, has received scant media coverage in the U.S. and Europe. To shed light on recent developments in the Syrian political scene, USIP recently convened a public discussion on human rights in Syria, featuring the Institute's Radwan Ziadeh, Mona Yacoubian, and Steven Heydemann, and Joe Stork of Human Rights Watch. This USIPeace Briefing summarizes their presentations and the subsequent discussion.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Kelly Campbell
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The results of Iran's March 14, 2008 parliamentary elections-a 70 percent victory for conservatives within Iran-came as little surprise. The ruling elite disqualified approximately 1,700 reformist candidates before the elections, minimizing the risk of a conservative defeat. However, the results revealed a growing divide between conservatives allied with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and a "third way" movement led by pragmatic conservatives who, though loyal to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, are critical of Ahmadinejad's economic policies and confrontational rhetoric with the West. The surprising electoral success of these pragmatic conservatives may pose a significant challenge to Ahmadinejad in Iran's 2009 presidential elections.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Robert M. Perito
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In December 2006, the Iraq Study Group reported that the Iraqi Interior Ministry (MOI) was confronted by corruption, infiltrated by militia and unable to control the Iraqi police. In July 2007, the Los Angeles Times reported that Iraq's MOI had become a "federation of oligarchs" where various floors of the building were controlled by rival militia groups and organized criminal gangs. The report described the MOI as an eleven-story powder keg of factions where power struggles were settled by assassinations in the parking lot. In its September 2007 report, the congressionally mandated Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq described Iraq's MOI as a ministry in name only, dysfunctional, sectarian and suffering from ineffective leadership. Even Iraq's Interior Minister, Jawad al-Boulani, has called for the comprehensive reform of his ministry.
  • Topic: Democratization
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Alistair Harris
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: On the surface, peace has broken out in Lebanon, bringing to an end the 18-month political impasse between the governing March 14th coalition and opposition March 8th parties. Following a week of sectarian violence in Beirut, Tripoli and the Chouf mountains—the worst since the end of Lebanon's 15-year civil war in 1990—the opposing sides agreed to undertake talks in Qatar to resolve their longstanding political stalemate. The Qatari-sponsored Doha Accord that broke the logjam paved the way for the May 25 election of former Army Commander Michel Suleiman as a consensus president, to be closely followed by the formation of a national unity government and the adoption of a revised election law. The re-invigoration of Lebanon's political institutions, the opening of parliament and ending of the presidential vacuum are welcome signs of a return to what passes for normalcy among Lebanon's confessional elites; they are not however a return to the status quo ante. For many months Arab League Chairman Amr Moussa, like French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, had tried to cajole the Lebanese belligerents into a compromise deal based on the much-vaunted concept of "no victor, no vanquished". These efforts failed. The fact that Doha succeeded where others did not is a clear indicator that there were indeed winners and losers. Therein lies the potential for future conflict.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Elizabeth Detwiler
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This USIPeace Briefing, summarizing remarks from a former commander for detainee operations in Iraq, discusses recent successes in improving the conditions of insurgent detainees in the country.
  • Topic: Government, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Jason Gluck
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: On February 13, 2008 the Iraqi parliament simultaneously passed a law that sets forth the relationship between the central and provincial governments, an amnesty law and the 2008 national budget. The passage of these laws was the result of months of negotiation and last-minute substantive and procedural compromises that could portend a shift away from merely ethnic and sectarian-based alliances to inter-ethnic and sectarian issue-based politics. At the same time, Iraqi lawmakers may have discovered a strategy of simultaneous consideration of multiple matters that could increase the likelihood of consensus and resolution—a sharp contrast to what has until now been an issue-by-issue approach that has often resulted in impasses and political gridlock.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Robert Perito
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In January 2007, President Bush announced that the U.S. would double the number of Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in Iraq as part of his plan for a "New Way Forward." PRTs are small, civilian-military units that assist provincial and local governments to govern more effectively and deliver essential services. These new PRTs would be embedded with Brigade (Army) and Regimental (Marine) Combat Teams (B/RCTs) participating in the "surge" of U.S. forces into Baghdad, Anbar and Erbil provinces. The new ePRTs would begin as four person interagency teams, but would expand to include civilian experts in a broad range of specialties. These new PRTs were staffed with Defense Department civilians and members of the National Guard and Army Reserve until funds became available to the State Department to hire civilian contractors. The process of deploying civilian experts is now underway, but the B/RCTs to which they are being assigned will return to the United States by August 2008.
  • Topic: Development, Government, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad
  • Author: Mona Yacoubian
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: As the third anniversary of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri approaches, Lebanon is witnessing its worst crisis since the 15-year civil war. Hariri's February 14th assassination—widely suspected to have been orchestrated by Syria—enraged the Lebanese who took to the streets one month later, demanding the withdrawal of Syrian troops. Dubbed the Cedar Revolution, this mass protest movement succeeded in ending nearly 30 years of Syrian military occupation. It was to have ushered in a new era of democracy. Instead, Lebanon has suffered through bombings, assassinations, war between Hezbollah and Israel, and bouts of sectarian violence.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Daniel Serwer, Rend Al-Rahim Francke
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In meetings conducted in Beirut and Baghdad in mid-January 2008, a high-ranking and broad cross-section of the Iraqi political spectrum expressed views on the current political situation, main priorities for the next year, prospects for moving forward on key issues, and the American military presence in Iraq. The Iraqis, numbering about 40, included parliamentary leaders, members of the presidency and their staffs, top government officials and leaders in both the Anbar and Baghdad "Awakenings" (tribal groups prepared to fight Al Qaeda and guard their own neighborhoods.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Elizabeth Detwiler
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: On October 3, 2008, six prominent Iraqis resident in the U.S. offered advice on Iraq policy to the incoming U.S. administration at an event convened by USIP. The panelists were: Qubad Talabani, U.S. representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government; Nesreen Barwari, former Iraqi minister of municipalities and public works (2003-2006);Raid Juhi al-Saedi, Middle East fellow, Cornell University School of Law, Clark Center for International and Comparative Legal Study, and former USIP Jennings Randolph Fellow; Feisal Istrabadi, visiting professor, Indiana University School of Law and former deputy permanent representative of the Iraqi Mission to the United Nations(2004-2007);Ghassan Atiyyah, visiting fellow, Washington Institute for Near East Policy;Karim Almusawi, U.S. representative of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. This USIPeace Briefing summarizes the event's main themes of discussion. Despite a few sharp disagreements, the speakers agreed that the next U.S. administration should support Iraq in its transition by 1) maintaining security while respecting Iraqi sovereignty; 2) strengthening institutions; 3) ensuring free and fair elections; and 4) encouraging positive regional engagement.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Elizabeth Detwiler
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The looting of Iraq's museums and archaeological sites is an overlooked consequence of the 2003 invasion. The loss of such precious history would be tragic for any nation or culture. As Iraqis struggle to redefine a sense of nationhood after five years of war, they will need to draw on that common heritage to reconstruct their communities. In the words of Donny George Youkhanna, former director general of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, “The oil will finish one day, but the antiquities will always be there.” The most immediate priorities are to secure Iraq's existing heritage sites, recover stolen artifacts, and develop an infrastructure for their conservation. The question should also be asked: what can be done to prevent such looting in future conflicts?
  • Topic: Crime, International Cooperation, International Organization, Arts
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad
  • Author: Julie Montgomery
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The dramatic improvement in security in Iraq has changed the U.S. policy debate. The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are taking a bigger role, the Maliki government's capacity is improving and the U.S. is gradually stepping aside.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Sam Parker, Rusty Barber
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Since their 2005 inception in Iraq, PRTs have struggled to fully define their mission, overcome structural problems, learn to work alongside their military counterparts and assist Iraqis down the path to self-governance and stability so that U.S. forces can withdraw. While the concept was born in the Afghan conflict, PRTs in Iraq bear little resemblance to their Afghan cousins, which are led and largely staffed by military officers. PRTs in Iraq are largely civilian-led and are required to address a host of issues including local governance, economic and women's development, health, agriculture, rule of law and education. In this respect, they resemble mini development task forces, harnessing civilian expertise sourced from the U.S. and augmented by military civil affairs officers.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Economics, Health, Terrorism, War, Governance
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The following U.S. interests underlie any U.S. consideration of policy toward Iraq and should guide the Obama administration: Restore U.S. credibility, prestige and capacity to act worldwide. Improve regional stability. Limit and redirect Iranian influence. Maintain an independent Iraq as a single state. Prevent Iraq from becoming a haven or platform for international terrorists. These interests cannot be fully achieved without continued U.S. engagement, even as the level of American forces needed to maintain security declines. Iraq is important to the U.S. Ignoring or hastily abandoning Iraq could risk a collapse with catastrophic humanitarian and political consequences that the new Administration would not be able to ignore.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Humanitarian Aid, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Rend Al-Rahim Francke
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: People who live in the red zone have mixed experiences of the security situation. Residents of some “hot” neighborhoods of Baghdad say that the presence of Americans has a deterrent effect on militias, gangs and snipers—and thus gives comfort to citizens- - whereas Iraqi forces, including the police, army units, or pesh merga sent down from Kurdistan, do little to confront trouble-makers. For example, some neighborhoods within the larger Amiriya district have benefited from U.S. intervention, while others, such as Furat and Jihad, are still in conflict because U.S. forces have not intervened and Iraqi police and army do a poor job of stopping violence and intimidation. The higher U.S. profile is also credited for a decline in the number of suicide bombings and a decrease in mass sectarian killings and kidnappings in the city. Another factor contributing to a sense of greater safety in Baghdad is the success of U.S.-Iraqi force in the area south of Baghdad (the so-called Triangle of Death), where Sunni tribes have recently cooperated with U.S. forces. Residents of some neighborhoods said that for the first time in over a year they have been able to shop in their area in relative peace and stay out after dark.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Foreign Policy, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, America, Middle East, Baghdad
  • Author: Mona Yacoubian
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Parliamentary elections across the Middle East have led to a wave of Islamist victories. Islamist parties typically boast leaders who are young and dynamic, with strong ties to the community; their party organizations brim with energy and ideas, attracting those who seek change. The U.S. government has quietly engaged moderate Islamist parties for several years. U.S. engagement has been most successful where democratic reform is already underway and where the government is genuinely committed to political opening. Other factors include the Islamist parties' political sophistication, popular credibility, and openness to working with U.S. organizations. A successful Islamist engagement strategy both empowers individuals and strengthens institutions to yield greater transparency, more accountability, and shifts toward greater moderation. Of the three cases addressed in this paper—Morocco, Jordan, and Yemen—Morocco appears to hold the greatest promise for U.S. engagement with moderate Islamists. Meanwhile, Jordan and Yemen offer important though limited instances of success. U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East affects the ability of U.S. organizations to promote democracy there. At times, Islamist parties have cut off contact with U.S. democracy promoters to protest specific aspects of U.S. foreign policy, such as the war in Iraq. Ultimately, U.S. engagement of moderate Islamists must be understood within the broader political context of the ideological battle in the Muslim world over the place of Islam in public life. Moderate Islamist parties that reject violence and practice democratic ideals are an important counterweight to Islamist extremism, and their work should be encouraged.
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Yemen, Jordan, Morocco
  • Author: Jon B. Alterman
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iraq's Persian Gulf neighbors supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq in order to preserve the status quo—a weak and self-absorbed Iraq—rather than to impose a new one. However, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and its aftermath have not brought stability to the Gulf States as much as they have shifted the most serious challenges from external threats (of a hostile Baghdad) to internal threats (the threat of conflict spillover from Iraq). Kuwait fears the growth of Iranian influence in Iraq and the possibility that Iraqi Shia unrest will spill across its own borders. Although many Kuwaitis question the wisdom and capacity of the United States in managing Iraq's internal problems, Kuwait has provided significant support to U.S. military action in Iraq and the country's reconstruction efforts. Qatar has supported U.S. military actions in Iraq by hosting the U.S. Central Command but still maintains the perception of nonalignment. For example, Doha hosts prominent former Iraqi Baathists, not to mention Saddam's own family members. The interest of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Iraq is secondary to its concern over Iran, with which it has a long-standing dispute over ownership of three islands in the Gulf. The unresolved dispute with Tehran over the islands heightens the UAE's concerns about the rising Iranian influence in Iraq. To bolster its relationship with the United States, the UAE offered training to hundreds of Iraqi troops and police recruits in 2004–2005, hosted the first Preparatory Group Meeting for the International Compact with Iraq in September 2006, and funded reconstruction efforts in Iraq through the United Nations and the World Bank. On post-Saddam regional security issues, member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) seem to be more “market takers” than “market makers,” showing little inclination to shape the nature of a larger and potentially more powerful neighbor. Instead, they are focused on immediate choices for calibrating a proper relationship with Washington in a way that accommodates many other important relationships.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Kuwait, Tehran, Baghdad, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Persia
  • Author: Babak Rahimi
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Since spring 2003, Sistani has become the preeminent and best financed of the grand ayatollahs remaining in the city of Najaf—and by extension, in Iraq. He remains one of the most powerful figures in Iraq and he brings the Shi'is closer together across the greater Middle East. Since 1997, the Internet has increased the size and the prestige of Sistani's social organization to an astonishing degree on a global basis. Like his father, Sistani is an adherent of a democratic Shi'i tradition that dates back to the Persian Constitutional Revolution of 1906 to 1911 and continued with the Khatami reformist movement (1997–2005). As the general representative of the Hidden Imam, quietist Sistani can remain totally aloof from all political matters, while at times of perceived moral decadence, political corruption, great injustice, or foreign occupation, he can become more active in political affairs by engaging in activities such as consultation, guidance, and even the promotion of sacred norms in public life. Sistani's religious network is increasingly becoming an important source of local governance in southern Iraq, where many Iraqis are hired and at times agree to conduct duties that are usually carried out by the state. Sistani's insistence on recognizing Islam as a fundamental component of the Iraqi constitution is not intended to make Iraq an Islamist state based on juridical sharia strictures, but rather to limit the total secularization of the constitution, which would deprive a Muslim country of an “authentic” national identity based on its Islamic heritage. Sistani could contribute to reducing sectarian tensions by working with other Sunni and Shi'i religious leaders (including tribal leaders) to organize a National Reconciliation Initiative in order to display a united, powerful Sunni-Shi'i front with an emphasis on common Islamic ideals; to express condemnation of anti-Shi'i Wahabi extremism and anti-Sunni Shi'i radicalism; and to form communal solidarity through the ceremonial process of intersectarian group gatherings. Sistani remains a key religious figure who has influence as a peacemaker and mediator among various Shi'i factions and ethnic groups in Basra and Kirkuk that are competing for economic and territorial dominance in the northern and southern regions of the country. As long as the state army is unable to independently fight off the Sunni insurgency and Shi'i militias, it is highly unlikely that Sistani will call for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Sistani is mainly concerned with maintaining stability in the region while rejecting any form of U.S. military adventurism that could seriously endanger the integrity and autonomy of Muslim countries in the greater Middle East. Although Sistani is still a powerful figure within Iraq, his influence has diminished since the bombing of the Shi'i shrine in Samarra in February 2006 and the ensuing increase in Sunni–Shi'i violence. Washington should recognize that until the sectarian warfare subsides, there is no effective way for Sistani to become involved in the Iraqi political process. However, Washington should engage Sistani now, because of the positive role he would have in the democratization of Iraq if the sectarian tensions subside.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Kirkuk, Basra
  • Author: Timothy Carney
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The military surge that was launched in February 2007 has improved the security situation in Baghdad and adjacent regions. It has curbed sectarian violence in the capital and reduced the freedom of action and the support base of insurgents and terrorists in the central governorates. The rationale for the surge was to provide an opportunity for political agreements to be negotiated among Iraqis, but political progress has been stalled and has not matched the security improvements. A political settlement is essential for sustaining the security gains and for longer- term stability. Despite the declaration of a national reconciliation plan by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki in June 2006, by the fall of 2007 only limited progress had been made toward reconciling the differences between the political groups and forging a national agenda. The dominance of sectarian political groups has fueled polarization, and the inability of the government and Parliament to adopt crucial legislation is a measure of continuing distrust between the groups. Serious political dialogue between the sect- based parties has proved difficult and the results are limited. At the same time intra-sectarian rivalries are increasing, particularly in the southern governorates, where the Sadris and the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq vie for political and economic control of the region. Iraqi institutions have lost ground in the past year. Iraqi ministers from Sunni, Shia, and secular groups have withdrawn from the cabinet, adversely affecting the performance of the government. The sectarian blocs that entered Parliament in December 2005 have lost their cohesiveness. The Shia United Iraqi Alliance has unraveled, and the Sunni Tawafuq coalition is strained. The emergence of tribal forces in Anbar governorate presents opportunities and challenges to the Sunnis and the Shia alike. As the sectarian blocs weaken and the Anbar tribes seek a political role, new alliances are beginning to emerge, and some may succeed in crossing sectarian and regional divides. The debate in Washington has been restricted to the level and duration of U.S. troop presence in Iraq. In the coming months, the debate should turn to means of supporting the political process and strengthening governance in Iraq as a path to stability. Bottom-up approaches to reconciliation and accommodation do not obviate the need for a broader political settlement. The United States should support a sustained international mediation effort led by the UN Security Council resulting in an Iraqi compact endorsed by Iraq's neighbors and the international comm unity. Iraqi efforts to develop cross-sectarian political alliances and national platforms need to be encouraged. The incorporation of the Anbar tribes into national politics is important to sustaining security gains. A competent national government in Baghdad is essential to the long-term stability of Iraq. A weak government will be unable to ensure the internal and external security of the country or manage revenues. More effort and resources are needed to strengthen the competence and effectiveness of the Iraqi government.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Robert M. Perito
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) are small civilian-military units that assist provincial and local governments in Iraq to govern effectively and deliver essential services. In January 2007 President Bush announced that the United States would double the number of PRTs as part of his plan for a “New Way Forward.” Ten new PRTs will be embedded with Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) in Baghdad, Anbar, and Babil. The new PRTs will differ significantly from the ten original PRTs set up in Iraq in November 2005. Led by the State Department, most of the original PRTs are located on U.S. military bases and rely on the military for security and logistical support. Both types of PRTs in Iraq differ in staffing and organization from PRTs in Afghanistan. Start-up of the PRT program in Iraq has been troubled by interagency differences over funding, staffing, and administrative support and by the overriding challenge of providing security. Embedding the new PRTs with BCTs should help overcome many of these problems. Despite the problems, PRTs provide a U.S. civilian presence in areas that would not be served otherwise. Participants in PRTs believe they are having a positive effect.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Shlomo Brom
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Despite the current stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians, the issue of Palestinian statehood is sure to reemerge. Israeli national security thinking on Palestinian statehood and the two-state solution has undergone a revolutionary change in the past two decades from total rejection to broad acceptance. After the 1967 war, Israeli thinking was characterized by the denial of the existence of a Palestinian national identity, and the perception that a Palestinian state would pose an existential threat to Israel. The first intifada, which broke out at the end of 1987, convinced the Israeli security community that the denial of Palestinian national identity was pointless and that only a political solution could resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although security measures alone may have contained the conflict, they simultaneously perpetuated it. At the same time, Israel's regional threat perceptions began to change as the conventional balance of power tilted in Israel's favor, and the likelihood of large-scale ground war was gradually replaced by the threats of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles on one hand, and terrorism and guerrilla warfare on the other. These new perceptions led Israel's political leadership to initiate the Oslo process, which enjoyed wide support among the security community. This process led to mutual recognition between the state of Israel and the Palestinian people, and implicitly to Israel's recognition of the Palestinian right to statehood. The collapse of the Oslo process in 2000 and the outbreak of the second intifada had a conflicting impact on Israeli national security thinking. On one hand it had a moderating effect on Israeli thinking about the terms of the resolution of the conflict and led to broad acceptance of Palestinian statehood, while on the other it deepened Israel's mistrust of the Palestinians and shook its belief in the feasibility of negotiating a permanent status agreement with the Palestinians. The most salient facet of present Israeli national security thinking is the growing importance of demography over geography because current population trends threaten Israel's Jewish and democratic character. As the acquisition of territory has become less important, national security is being defined in broader terms to include threats to the character of the state. The wide acceptance of Palestinian statehood has not precluded an intense debate on the nature of this state and its relationship with Israel. Those who assume that it will be a dysfunctional state hostile to Israel favor unilateral separation, while those who believe in the feasibility of a Palestinian state living in peace with Israel continue to argue for a negotiated settlement.
  • Topic: International Relations, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Oslo
  • Author: Phebe Marr
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In 2006, a new group of Iraqi leaders came to power through elections. In the absence of strong bureaucratic and military institutions, the qualities and skills they bring to bear and their capacity and willingness to cooperate, especially across ethnic and sectarian lines, will determine whether Iraq collapses into chaos or moves forward toward stability. Three characteristics of these leaders are striking. First is how new and inexperienced most of them are. Rapid political mobility and change in ministers was prevalent in previous cabinets, but it has intensified in this government. This degree of change has made it difficult for leaders to acquire experience in national governance, create institutions, establish networks across ministries, and cultivate constituencies outside the central government. Second, the current leadership is still dominated by “outsiders”—exiles who have spent much of their adult life outside Iraq, or by Kurds who have lived in the north, cut off from the rest of Iraq. Most of these exiles have spent time in Middle Eastern, not Western, societies. “Insiders” who lived in Saddam's Iraq and endured its hardships are still a minority. This fault line between insiders and outsiders helps explain some of the lack of cohesion in the government. Third, and most important, many of the current leaders have spent the best part of their adult life engaged in opposition to the Saddam regime, often in underground or militant activities. Those who had any affiliation with, or simply worked under, the old regime have still found it very difficult to gain entry. The result has been a profound distrust between the new leadership and those with some association with the old regime. The continuation of the insurgency has helped this political struggle metamorphose into an ethnic and sectarian war. A fourth parameter is emerging as significant: the development of political parties and groups, often accompanied by militias. While ethnic and sectarian divisions in Iraq have grabbed most of the headlines, it is these parties and their constituencies that are shaping the political agenda and are likely to be determinative in the future. The most important of these parties now occupy seats, not only in the assembly but in the government. They include the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), Da'wah, and the Sadrist movement in the dominant Shi'ah United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), the Kurdistan Democratic party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in the Kurdistan Alliance, Tawafuq (Iraqi National Accord) among the Sunnis, and the weaker Iraqiyyah (Iraqi) ticket among the secularists. Each of these parties has different positions on issues and different constituencies to satisfy; in a number of cases these cross ethnic and sectarian divides. Among the most important of these common interests are (a) economic development, (b) oil legislation, (c) management of water resources and the environment, and (d) the role of religion and the state. Even more divisive issues, such as federalism and a timetable for withdrawal of multinational forces, find allies on one or another side of these issues among different ethnic and sectarian groups. This suggests that despite ethnic and sectarian strife, a new political dynamic could be built in Iraq by focusing on one problem at a time and dealing with it by encouraging party, not communal, negotiations. Although such agreements will take time, they may provide a means of gradually building much-needed trust and a network of people and institutions that can work across ethnic and sectarian boundaries. Such a process will have a far better outcome over the long term—an intact, more durable Iraqi state, than the ethnic and sectarian divisions now being pushed by events on the ground and by some outside policy analysts.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Kurdistan
  • Author: Robert Perito
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In December 2006, Iraq's “Year of the Police” ended with the completion of several milestones. The Multi-National Security Transition Command's (MNSTC-I) program trained and equipped 135,000 members of the Iraq Police Service. Training and equipment was also provided to the 24,400 members of the Iraq National Police (constabulary) and 28,360 members of the Border Police. Nearly 180 American Police Transition Teams and 39 National Police Transition Teams were embedded with Iraqi forces, while a 100-member Ministry Transition Team was assigned to the Ministry of Interior to improve its operations.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Daniel Serwer
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: As vice president for peace and stability operations at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Daniel Serwer has for three years supervised a Congressionally-funded peacebuilding effort in Iraq, after a decade spent on Balkans peacebuilding efforts both at the State Department and USIP. This USIPeace Briefing, prepared as testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in early January 2007, presents his personal views, not those of the Institute, which does not take positions on specific policies.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Balkans
  • Author: Paul Wee
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The interfaith peace movement in the Middle East has foundered recently, a casualty of major geo-political events, among them the war in Iraq, the increase in hostility between Iran and the West, the Israel-Hezbollah war, and the failure of efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In addition, fallout continues from the Danish cartoon controversy and the remarks of Pope Benedict XVI in 2006. These and related factors have contributed to undermine interfaith efforts and limit opportunities for meaningful dialogue and common action.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Islam, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Mona Yacoubian
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This is the fourth in a series of USIPeace Briefings on Syria published by the Institute's Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention. Written by Mona Yacoubian, director of the Institute's Syria Working Group and special adviser to the Muslim World Initiative, it is based on discussions at a recent seminar held at the Institute. The views expressed do not reflect those of the Institute which does not take policy positions.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Hesham Sallam
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iran's recent detention of 15 British sailors and marines, captured in the contested waters of the Shatt al-Arab near the Iranian coast, has exacerbated tensions between the United States and Iran. The incident also underscored the opacity of the Iranian political system; it is unclear on whose directive the Iranian navy acted. With U.S.–Iranian relations already strained due to the Islamic Republic's activities in Iraq and its nuclear ambitions, understanding the Islamic Republic's power structure and decision-making processes has become increasingly important. To answer the question "Who rules Ahmadinejad's Iran?" USIP's Iran Policy Forum convened an off-the-record discussion with leading specialists on Iranian politics. This USIPeace Briefing highlights the main points made during the discussion and does not represent the views of USIP, which does not advocate specific policies.
  • Topic: Government, Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Kelly Campbell
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Western policy toward Iran relies heavily on economic pressure, and Iran's political trajectory is shaped in large part by its economic prospects and constraints. A toughened regime of UN Security Council sanctions against Iran and uncertainties about the viability of its petroleum sector—compounded by deep structural distortions caused by a history of economic mismanagement—raise real questions about the state of the Iranian economy. The Iran Policy Forum at the United States Institute of Peace convened a meeting to discuss the status of Iran's economy and energy sector; the effect of Iran's uncertain political climate and concerns over its nuclear program on the economy; and actions the government should take to avoid future economic troubles. This USIPeace Briefing summarizes the discussion.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Mona Yacoubian
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This is the fifth in a series of USIPeace Briefings on Syria published by the Institute's Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention. Written by Mona Yacoubian, director of the Institute's Syria Working Group and special adviser to the Muslim World Initiative, it is based on discussions at a recent seminar held at the Institute. The views expressed do not reflect those of USIP, which does not take policy positions
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Christina Parajon
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The much-discussed and often delayed Iraqi hydrocarbon law, approved by the Iraqi cabinet in February, is a bellwether for the future of the Iraqi state. Successful passage and implementation of the law would reflect a strong spirit of compromise and help to calm violence. If, on the other hand, the proposed law fails to pass, it will have negative repercussions for Iraq's social, economic and political stability.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Scott Lasensky
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The international response to the Hamas takeover of Gaza has largely focused on building support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, including announcements by the United States and the EU that the 15-month aid embargo was ending, with assistance to be channeled through the "emergency" government led by Salam Fayyad. But the Hamas takeover has also led to a variety of calls for greater international intervention in Gaza, well beyond the work of the UN and other aid agencies, the Egyptian mediation team, and the European Union monitoring force at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, International Relations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries, Egypt
  • Author: Linda Bishai, Sara Dye
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: On March 22, 2007, the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH) Task Force on Public Health and Conflict held its third symposium, "Iraq: Rebuilding a Nation's Health." The Task Force is committed to raising the profile of conflict analysis and resolution in the field of public health education.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Health
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Christina Caan
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Over the past four years, suicide bombings have become a choice weapon of the insurgency in Iraq. Today, terrorists and insurgents perpetrate suicide attacks regularly, taking a profound physical and psychological toll on the local population and the multinational forces serving in the country. Curbing the incidence of these attacks depends in part on understanding the motivations that trigger them. In his latest book on this challenging topic, Mohammed Hafez offers trenchant insights into the deadly phenomenon of suicide bombing, shedding much needed light on the strategy and ideology behind what often appears to be an inexplicable act of terror.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Daniel Serwer
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The United States faces a set of unparalleled challenges in the Middle East at a moment when its capacity to respond is circumscribed and the regional and global situations are deteriorating. It is far more likely that things will get worse before they get better, though there are ways of trying to improve the odds.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Kelly Campbell
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Sudan's elections, scheduled to take place by July 2009, are a major milestone of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Domestic and international institutions are already planning for the elections, although many legal and logistical issues must be resolved before they take place. The U.S. Institute of Peace convened a meeting of the Sudan Peace Forum on July 13, 2007 to discuss the major tasks remaining in the organization of elections. The following USIPeace Briefing summarizes the status of electoral preparations and identifies critical conditions to ensure their timely organization.
  • Topic: Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan, Middle East
  • Author: Neil Kritz
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: U.S. and Iraqi politicians and analysts consistently agree on one central point concerning Iraq: serious political reconciliation amongst Iraqi groups is needed to reduce the violence and create a viable government. Centrifugal forces fueled by armed conflict, competition for power and resources, and the intervention of foreign powers and neighbors has stalemated the political process in Baghdad for months.
  • Topic: Democratization, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Daniel Serwer
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: War in Iraq has lasted more than four years. It has required far greater resources than anticipated. The longer-term goals are still far from realization. The price the United States and Iraq are paying in blood and treasure continues to mount. The time has come to chart a clearer path forward, taking into account the regional and global contexts. Americans want an approach that protects U.S. vital interests and can therefore be supported across a wide range of the political spectrum. As Washington prepares for a critical debate in Congress this fall on what should be done in Iraq, the United States Institute of Peace convened over the summer a group of experts with many different political affiliations to consider next steps over a three-year time horizon. This USIPeace Briefing, prepared by Daniel Serwer, USIP vice president for peace and stability operations, describes their main conclusions. Areas of serious disagreement are noted. Those participants in the discussions wishing to be identified are listed at the end. This USIPeace Briefing does not represent the views of the United States Institute of Peace, which does not take positions on policy issues.
  • Topic: Democratization, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: George Adams
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in countless other hotspots around the world, religion has been a major factor in matters of war and peace. Since religion often plays a significant role in conflicts, it also needs to be one of the factors addressed in mediating conflicts. Yet, because the United States separates religion from political matters to a greater degree than many other areas of the world, Americans frequently have difficulty understanding the crucial role religion can play in conflict transformation.
  • Topic: Peace Studies, Religion
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Scott Lasensky
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Jordan wants a strong, stable, moderate, and unified Iraq. Having wrestled with the dilemmas of an assertive Iraq for many years, Jordan—like Iraq's other neighbors— now faces a myriad of challenges presented by a weak Iraq. The kingdom, for years a linchpin in the U.S. strategy to promote peace and stability in the region, is now less secure in the wake of the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. Jordanian leaders worry that Iraq is becoming a haven for terrorist groups, a fear dramatically heightened by the November 2005 suicide bombings in Amman. Jordan also has an interest in the development of an Iraq that does not inspire radical Islamist politics in Jordan. Moreover, the kingdom is anxious about growing Iranian involvement in Iraqi politics, and—more broadly—increasing Iranian and Shiite influence in the region. Despite periodic crises of confidence and lingering Iraqi resentment over Jordan's close ties with Saddam Hussein, the two countries have managed to forge deep ties; in fact, Jordan has taken the lead among Arab states. In the face of repeated attacks and threats, Jordan has maintained a strong diplomatic presence in Baghdad. The kingdom has also played a positive, if modest, role in stabilization and reconstruction efforts. The economic impact of the Iraq crisis in Jordan has been mixed. Jordan has benefited greatly from serving as a “gateway” to Iraq for governments, aid workers, con - tractors, and businesspeople; its real estate and banking sectors are booming, and it stands to reap more benefits from increased trade and transport should the situation in Iraq improve. However, with the fall of Saddam Hussein, Jordan lost the sizable oil subsidies and customary shipments it received from Iraq. One of Jordan's principal economic interests in the new Iraq is securing future energy assistance. Unlike many of Iraq's other neighbors, Jordan can claim only modest influence over developments in Iraq. The kingdom does have notable intelligence capabilities vis-à- vis Iraq, and it reportedly helped the United States track down and kill Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Although some Jordanians highlight cross-border tribal and family connections with Iraqi Sunni Arabs, they pale in comparison to those of Iran, Turkey, and Syria. Jordan's most significant means of influence is its hosting of a large and ever-changing Iraqi expatriate community, composed mostly, but not solely, of Sunni Arabs. Jordan's relationship with the United States remains strong. Viewing Jordan as a reliable and friendly government is nothing new in Washington, but what is new is the determination of King Abdullah to make a strategic relationship with the United States a centerpiece of Jordan's foreign policy. Although the kingdom's behind-the- scenes support for the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq widened the credibility gap with the public, King Abdullah is willing to pay the cost for his close alliance with the United States in order to pursue what he sees as Jordan's larger interests. For Jordan, “the Palestinian Question” looms larger than Iraq. Given their support for U.S. policy in Iraq and their contributions to the global campaign against terrorism, along with the country's central role in Arab-Israeli peacemaking, Jordan's leaders have been disappointed with what they see as U.S. inaction on the Middle East peace process. Moreover, given the turmoil in both Iraq and the Palestinian territories, Jordan must contend with the twin prospects of “state” failure to its east and west.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Washington, Turkey, Middle East, Palestine, Arabia, Syria, Jordan
  • Author: Alan Schwartz
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Three workshops explored hundreds of forces and factors relevant to insurgency outcomes and focused on key drivers to develop five alternative scenarios. These scenarios reflected the participants' perception that positive outcomes would be hard to achieve, and negative outcomes could be foreseen much more easily. The workshops' principal finding is that U.S. goals for Iraq and the region should be reexamined and scaled back. The administration's expressed goal of “an Iraq that is peaceful, united, stable, democratic, and secure, where Iraqis have the institutions and resources they need to govern themselves justly and provide security for their country” is possible only in the very long term. Avoidance of disaster and maintenance of some modicum of political stability in Iraq are more realistic goals—but even these will be hard to achieve without new strategies and actions. The scenarios include recommended adjustments to U.S. goals and strategies to achieve reduced expectations. Unfortunately, the United States is now in a position to influence but not to control outcomes; it will have to engage and enlist the cooperation of Iraq's neighbors to attain success. This report broadly outlines the strategies that appear best suited to the current situation and the unfolding futures the participants envisioned.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Camille Pampell Conaway
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: It is widely recognized that women and young people are primary victims of conflict. During war, women are displaced, subjected to sexual violence and HIV/AIDS by fighting forces, and assume the caretaking role for children and the elderly. They are vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, sexual slavery, disease, and forced recruitment into armed groups. Yet as the survivors of violent conflict, women also bear the burden of reconstruction. They return to destroyed communities and begin the process of rebuilding infrastructure; restoring and developing traditions, laws, and customs; and repairing relationships. Despite rapid progress within the U.S. government to recognize the importance of women's inclusion in stabilization and reconstruction operations, no overarching strategy, mandate, or program exists to ensure implementation. Initiatives, funding, and projects remain ad hoc; research and best practices have not been consolidated; and much depends upon the individual knowledge, commitment, and insight of relevant staff at headquarters and in the field. The challenge of the Working Group on the Role of Women in Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations and the purpose of this report is to present a comprehensive list of recommendations to the U.S. government, as well as highlight several critical action areas with the potential to significantly impact the protection and participation of women in postwar situations. An ongoing, at-the-ready capability must be institutionalized within the U.S. government to enhance and protect the role of women in stabilization and reconstruction operations. The steps taken prior to an intervention will make all the difference in the success of the mission. The U.S. government should undertake the following necessary actions to make this capability an integral part of the policy process.
  • Topic: Development, Gender Issues
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Jill Shankleman
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This report analyzes the particular challenges of stabilization and reconstruction missions in countries rich in hydrocarbons and minerals and provides lessons learned from the recent experience of such countries as Iraq, Sudan, Angola, Liberia, and Afghanistan. It offers recommendations for the U.S. government and others involved in natural resource–rich countries emerging from conflict and also to the extractive industry companies and banking sectors––that play a critical role in these states. War-torn countries rich in hydrocarbons and minerals face particular problems in the stabilization and reconstruction of their states despite the apparent promise that natural resource wealth holds. Unless deliberate efforts are made to avoid the “resource curses”—corruption, economic instability, conflict over the distribution of resource wealth and control of resource–rich areas—these curses will undermine peace building. Elite groups who receive royalties and taxes paid by extractive industry companies have shown themselves consistently resistant to democratization. Control over natural resources is fundamental to sovereignty. Ultimately, it is the governments and people of resource–rich countries who must put in place the systems that enable resource wealth to support stability and development However, through early and consistent action, the international community can play an important role in helping resource–rich states emerging from conflict manage the wealth that accrues from these resources, and can make proper wealth management a condition for donor assistance. It is essential that international missions and indigenous transitional governments immediately secure effective control of natural resource wealth (physical and monetary) and establish the laws, institutions, and capacity to manage that wealth transparently, accountably, and in ways that support reconstruction. Achieving these goals requires prior planning by relevant U.S. agencies, a willingness to confront vested interests, a consistent approach from the international community and donors, the involvement of civil society, and the deployment of human resources, such as forensic accountants able to “follow the money,” as part of the mission staff. To be successful, the extractive industries and their bankers, the international financial institutions, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) must be brought into this process
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Environment
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Sudan, Middle East, Liberia, Angola
  • Author: Pierre Hazan
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Facing the Atlantic and Mediterranean, just nine miles from the Spanish coast, Morocco is essential for stability in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and American interests in these regions. The United States and the European Union fully recognize its strategic importance. Its proximity, large diaspora, and extensive trade with Europe place it at the top of the EU's Mediterranean strategy agenda. The United States has designated Morocco a major non-NATO ally; it also was one of the first Arab countries to sign a free-trade agreement with the United States. The Kingdom of Morocco is facing four challenges: weak economic growth; a social crisis resulting from social inequalities, with 20 percent of the population in absolute poverty and 57 percent illiterate; lack of trust in the governing institutions because of the high level of corruption; and an unstable regional and international environment. These factors strengthen the appeal of various Islamist movements, from moderate to more radical groups such as the authors of the deadly bombings in Casablanca in 2003 and Madrid in 2004. Moreover, the conflict over the Western Sahara places Morocco's and Algeria's armies, the two most powerful in North Africa, toe to toe. Unlike Tunisia and Algeria, since the end of the Cold War Morocco has taken steps toward political liberalization, and its pace has accelerated since Mohammed VI came to the throne in 1999. As part of the process of liberalization, the king established a truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) in January 2004. This is one of very few cases in which a TRC was created without a regime change. Thousands of victims tortured during the reign of King Mohammed's father, King Hassan II, have been given the opportunity to voice their sufferings publicly and have been promised financial compensation. Such outcomes are unprecedented in a region known for its culture of impunity. Morocco is the first Arab Islamic society to establish a TRC. Its experience shows that political factors play a primary role in the functioning of such a body, while religious and cultural factors are of secondary importance. Although the Moroccan TRC is not an exportable model, it could inspire other majority Muslim societies, such as Afghanistan and Lebanon, which are envisaging or might set up TRCs to confront crimes of past regimes. Some security experts hoped the TRC would be effective in the “soft war” against terrorism by winning the hearts and minds of the population. The actual experience in Morocco shows the limits of this approach. The tension is too strong between the perceived requirements of the antiterrorist struggle and a process to establish accountability for past crimes and advance democratization. In the final analysis, the “war against terrorism” has limited the TRC's impact in Morocco. The report of the Moroccan TRC, published in early 2006, recommended diminution of executive powers, strengthening of parliament, and real independence for the judicial branch. The king and the political parties must decide in the coming years if they will permit the transformation of the “executive monarchy” of Morocco into a parliamentary monarchy. This decision will affect the stability of the kingdom, North Africa, and, to a lesser extent, Europe and the Middle East.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Development
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Africa, United States, America, Europe, Middle East, Arabia, Algeria, Spain, North Africa, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia