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  • 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: 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: Paul Wee
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Nigeria currently faces a three-pronged crisis involving Muslim-Christian relations, the Niger Delta region, and presidential term limits. The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) held a public workshop in March 2006 for the purpose of assessing the situation in Nigeria and considering ways in which the international community might respond.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Religion
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Nigeria
  • Author: Shlomo Brom
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The landslide victory of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in the January 25 Palestinian legislative elections has been met with concern and alarm by Israel, the United States, and others in the international community. This concern is rooted in Hamas' history as an organization that sponsors terrorism and that is ideologically committed to the destruction of Israel. For many observers in Israel and throughout the international community, Hamas' victory signaled the end of Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.
  • Topic: International Relations, Peace Studies, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Emily Hsu, Beth DeGrasse
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Since they reorganized their forces in Pakistan in 2003, Taliban and other anti-government militia have sought to disrupt democratization efforts and sow a climate of fear in Afghanistan. As a result, violence has crept back onto the international radar screen in the last couple of years, a brutal reminder the insurgency is far from defeated. This rise in bloodshed is particularly problematic today, as U.S. forces begin this summer to transfer control of insurgent-heavy regions of the country to NATO. The U.S. Institute of Peace held a recent special session of its Afghanistan Working Group dedicated to this topic, with counterinsurgency experts Seth Jones of the RAND Corporation and Colonel David Lamm of National Defense University. Beth DeGrasse, coordinator of USIP's Afghanistan Working Group
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Asia
  • Author: Dorina Bekoe, Kelly Campbell
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Civilians and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Darfur, western Sudan, are increasingly being attacked by militia groups. At the same time, it is progressively more difficult to deliver humanitarian assistance to Darfur as aid agencies are hampered by increased banditry and continued obstruction by the government of Sudan (GOS). Moreover, the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) does not offer adequate protection as it continues to operate with severe budgetary constraints, inadequate amounts of military officers and equipment, and a limited mandate that does not allow it to prevent incidents or respond sufficiently to attacks. On December 14, 2005, the Sudan Peace Forum of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) convened to address the continuing challenges facing the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Darfur. Firsthand accounts of the humanitarian crisis were presented by Sloan Mann of the United States Agency for International Development; Michael Heller Chu of the United Nations Organization for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance; and Jonathan Morgenstein of USIP. Ambassadors Chester Crocker and Francis Deng co-chaired the meeting. This USIPeace Briefing summarizes the discussion on the rising insecurity faced by civilians in Darfur, the challenges facing AMIS, the response by the GOS, and the opportunities for the international community to facilitate humanitarian assistance in Darfur.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Government, Humanitarian Aid
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Sudan
  • Author: Kelly Campbell, Adams Fusheini
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: On June 19-20, 2006, the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), in partnership with the West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), hosted a workshop entitled "Challenges to Peace and Reconstruction in Côte d'Ivoire" in Accra, Ghana. Fourteen representatives of diverse Ivoirian civil society organizations (CSOs) attended the conference, as well as representatives from the United Nations Mission in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and other nongovernmental organizations.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States
  • Author: Emily Hsu, Beth DeGrasse
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: With the September 18 parliamentary elections, Afghanistan completes its internationally mandated blueprint for democracy and enters a new phase of state building in uncharted waters. This transition occurs against the backdrop of rising threats to security and an economy dominated largely by illicit production and export of opium. On October 12, 2005, the U.S. Institute of Peace convened a meeting of the Afghanistan Working Group to review the recent parliamentary elections. The presenters at the meeting included Robert Varsalone, resident country director for Afghanistan for the International Republican Institute; Sam Zia-Zarifi, research director for the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch; Larry M. Sampler, former chief of staff for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan; and Barnett R. Rubin, chairman of the Afghanistan Working Group. The following USIPeace Briefing summarizes views expressed at the meeting. The views expressed here do not reflect those of the Institute, which does not take positions on policy issues.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Asia