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  • 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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
  • Author: Jonathan Morrow
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The cycle of violence in Iraq is, in part, constitutional: it derives from competing visions of the Iraqi state that have not been reconciled. An amendment to Iraq's constitution to delay the creation of new federal regions, together with a package of legislation and intergovernmental agreements on oil, division of governmental power between Baghdad and the regions, and the judiciary, may be enough to slow or even arrest this decline in the security situation, and may be achievable. A “government of national unity,” though desirable, will not by itself be able to generate the necessary constitutional consensus. Iraq's new legislature, the Council of Representatives, is now considering the process of constitutional amendment described in Article 142 of the constitution. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has announced the constitutional review as part of his government's platform. This amendment process, assuming it proceeds, will come in the wake of widespread opposition to the constitution from Sunni Arab Iraqis in the October 2005 referendum. It is expected that a Constitution Review Committee (CRC) will soon be appointed, in line with Article 142. To the extent that it was opposed by Sunni Arabs, the constitution lacks the essential criterion of any constitution: the consent of all major national communities. The 2005 Iraqi constitution may nonetheless, as a legal text, be a sufficient and necessary framework for the radically regionalized Iraqi polity which the constitution drafters envisaged. The constitutional challenge in Iraq is first about peacemaking, not state building. As the Iraqi parliament faces the challenge of appointing, mandating and staffing a CRC, the first, and essential, set of questions is therefore political: How can the amendment process be used as a vehicle to remedy the political failure of last year's constitution drafting process? How can consensus be built, and in particular how can Iraq's Sunni Arabs be encouraged to give their assent to the new federal Iraq? How can Iraq's Kurdish and Shia leaders be encouraged to make worthwhile constitutional concessions to Sunni Arab positions so as to elicit that consent? The second set of questions is legal: What are the minimum constitutional amendments needed, if any, to ensure that Iraq is a viable, if not a strong, state? To the extent that the Sunni Arab position has been one that purports to defend the Iraqi state, legal or technical improvements to the text that support Baghdad's ability to govern may draw support from Sunni Arabs, thereby generating clear political benefits. There are additional legal questions that, though not strictly related to the Sunni Arab problem, are pressing: in particular, What are the minimum constitutional amendments needed, if any, to ensure that the human rights of all Iraqis receive adequate protection? It is not only the Sunni Arabs who feel disenfranchised by the constitution; nationalists, some women's groups, and groups representing Iraq's minorities express similar views. It will be very difficult to pass constitutional amendments of any sort, especially those that seek to shift power from Iraq's regions to the central government. Regional interests have the upper hand, constitutionally and politically. There is no reason to expect that the constitution's Kurdish and Shia authors will see the need for constitutional amendments to the text that they themselves deliberately, if hastily, constructed. The referendum procedure for amendment is onerous, with a three-governorate veto power. High expectations of the amendment procedure will lead to disappointment and may amplify, rather than reduce, violence. For this reason, legal instruments other than constitutional amendments must be considered as ways to remedy the political and legal deficiencies of the constitution. A CRC should be established, with strong Sunni Arab membership. Given the pressing and complex nature of the necessary constitutional deal, the CRC should be mandated to make recommendations, where appropriate, not only for constitutional amendments, but also for (1) legislation, (2) intergovernmental agreements and, where appropriate (3) interparty agreements and (4) international agreements, all of which might encourage Sunni Arab political commitment to the Iraqi constitution and ensure viability for the Iraqi state. A three-part formula, concerning the creation of new regions, oil, and the delineation of powers between the central government and the regions, offers a way forward for the CRC to heal the wounds caused by the deficiencies in the 2005 drafting process. That formula would not require the Kurdistan party or the hitherto most influential Shia party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), to make major modifications to their constitutional positions.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Kurdistan
  • Author: Patricia Karam, A. Heather Coyne
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The U.S. Institute of Peace was the venue for a roundtable session in mid-July to discuss the prospects for mediation of the current crisis in Lebanon. The discussants included former White House and State Department officials, as well as regional experts with experience in mediating previous conflicts between Israel and Lebanon. This USIPeace Briefing highlights the central points made during that discussion and does not represent the views of the Institute, which does not advocate specific policies.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Development
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Yll Bajraktari
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: A UN/World Bank survey conducted after the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime revealed that even though women represented about 55 percent of Iraq's population, they made up only 23 percent of the workforce. Although the international community and Iraqis have since devoted considerable attention to boosting the status of women in Iraq, most of these efforts have focused on the social and political empowerment of women. Full democratic consolidation in Iraq can only be achieved by guaranteeing, in addition, a leading economic role for women in Iraq.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Gender Issues
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Abdeslam Maghraoui
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Throughout the Muslim world, Islamist parties have emerged as major power brokers when allowed to compete in free elections. Yet their positions on many crucial governance issues remain unknown or ambiguous. Most debates on the potential to moderate and integrate Islamists in the democratic process have focused on Islam's compatibility with democracy or on debates over Islamists' normative commitment to democracy separately from the mechanics of achieving political power.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Government, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Scott Lasensky
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This is the second in a series of USIPeace Briefings written by Scott Lasensky and Mona Yacoubian of USIP's Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention. It is based on discussions at a recent seminar. The views expressed do not reflect those of USIP, which does not take policy positions. One year after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and facing mounting international pressure, the Syrian regime is consolidating its hold on power and adopting a more defiant stance, both in the region and toward the West. On December 12, Lebanese journalist Gibran Tueni—who had been staunchly opposed to Syrian involvement in Lebanon—was killed by a car bomb in Beirut. The attack occurred amidst continued Syrian intimidation of key witnesses as well as an orchestrated Syrian campaign to discredit the UN's Hariri investigation. Then, in a late December interview on al-Arabiya, former Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam accused the Syrian regime of directly threatening Hariri just before his death. Khaddam is now openly calling for regime change, even reaching out to exiled leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. In February 2006, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice criticized the Syrian government for encouraging violence and inflaming popular anger over the Danish cartoon controversy.
  • Topic: Development, Politics, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Imad Harb
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Over the past year and a half, Lebanon has witnessed tremendous political upheaval. In September 2004, Parliament extended the term of the country's president, Emile Lahoud, for three years after heavy-handed Syrian interference. Attempts were made on the lives of several public figures; among those killed was former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. A popular uprising forced Syria to withdraw the troops it had deployed in Lebanon since 1976. New parliamentary elections were held in May and June, 2005, and resulted in a new majority coalition of reform-minded, albeit sectarian, leaders who promised an overhaul of Lebanese politics.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Mona Yacoubian, Scott Lasensky
  • Publication Date: 12-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This USIPeace Briefing , written by Scott Lasensky and Mona Yacoubian of the Institute's Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention, is based on discussions at a recent seminar. The views expressed do not reflect those of the Institute, which does not take policy positions. Syria is facing unprecedented pressure from the international community on issues ranging from Syrian meddling in Lebanon to its support for terrorist groups. The United Nations investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri will release its second report in mid- December 2005. The current crisis has increased speculation about prospects for political change in Syria. The opacity of Syrian politics means there are more questions than answers. Nonetheless, a number of key indicators suggest a changing political environment, in a country where political development has essentially been frozen for thirty-five years.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Courtney Rusin
  • Publication Date: 12-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iraq will elect a new parliament on December 15th. The new government—whatever its composition—will then be in a race to build a democratic order before the insurgency creates enough chaos to break it down. Whether or not the government succeeds depends on how political events of the past two years have set the stage for the December elections—and on the prospects of creating a national narrative that encompasses all of Iraq's main political and ethno-sectarian groups.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East