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  • Author: Marc Valeri
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The sultan of Oman traveled to Germany to receive medical care in July 2014. His prolonged stay since then has revived concerns across Omani society about the future of the country without the “father of the nation.” A taped, four-minute television address in early November by Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said—who looked emaciated and expressed regret that he was unable to return home for National Day celebrations later in the month—failed to silence rumors of cancer that have been circulating in the Gulf since he left the country. The anxiety about the health of the seventy-four-year-old ruler, who has no designated heir, came as the supposed “sleepy sultanate,” long thought to be a model of stability, was affected by the winds of protest blowing across the region. In 2011 and 2012, the sultanate of Oman experienced its widest popular protests since the 1970s and the end of the Dhofar war, in which the southern region rose up against Qaboos's father, who then ruled the country.
  • Topic: Islam, Oil, Governance, Popular Revolt
  • Political Geography: Arabia, Germany
  • Author: Hafez Ghanem
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Morocco has so far been a success story in the Arab world. It has followed a gradual approach to political reforms and democratization, which led to the adoption of a new constitution and the holding of free parliamentary elections in 2011. At the same time, economic growth averaged 4.5 percent between 2000 and 2010, reached 5.0 percent in 2011, 2.7 percent in 2012, and 4.4 percent in 2013. That is, Morocco has avoided the political upheavals and economic meltdowns that plagued other Arab Countries in Transition (ACTs). Maintaining this record of success will require continued political and economic reforms.
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Arabia, Morocco
  • Author: Frederic M. Wehrey, Ariel I. Ahram
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Since the eruption of the Arab Spring in 2011, centralized military power has broken down in North Africa, the Levant, and Yemen, and several weak Arab states have turned to local militias to help defend regimes. While these pro-government militias can play important security roles, they have limited military capacity and reliability. Transitioning militia fighters into national guard forces with formal ties to the national command structure can overcome some of these limitations, but the shift must be accompanied by a wider commitment to security sector reform and political power sharing.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Yemen, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Muhammed Kürsad Özekin, Hasan Hüseyin Akkaş
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations
  • Institution: Prof. Bulent Aras
  • Abstract: This article pursues two main objectives. First, mainly drawing on empirical evidences rather than journalistic impressions and reports on the Arap Spring, it aims to provide an in-depth analysis of the sets of socio-economic and socio-political factors that have been deeply rooted in the region for more than half a century and which have driven (and continue to drive) a wave of uprisings across the region commonly labelled as the 'Arab Spring'. Thus, this study expects to present a slightly different reading of the Arap Spring by placing the issue into the socio-economic and socio-political context of the recent past. Secondly, by considering a range of factors such as the responses of the regimes, the role of security forces, the ethnic and sectarian makeup of the societies and the politico-institutional feature of states, it explains how the unfolding of events has differed from country to country and why some uprisings have succeeded in toppling regimes and others have not.
  • Political Geography: Arabia
  • Author: Nilüfer Karacasulu, Irem Aşkar Karakır
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: This paper discusses EU-Turkey relations with a specific reference to regional developments in the Middle East after the Arab Spring. In the last decade, the Turkish government has tried to intensify Turkey's influence in the region. However, increasing activism in Turkey's foreign policy toward the region was not accompanied by a parallel commitment in its relations with the EU. In the meantime, the EU was caught unprepared by the Arab Spring in the middle of the Euro-zone crisis, and now its strategic interests are being threatened by regional instability. Both sides have been faced with the task of adapting their policies to the political transitions in the region. After an analysis of their contemporary regional policies, this article argues that even though their strategies are not totally in line with each other, Turkey follows the same objectives that the EU neighborhood policy has pursued towards the Middle East.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: King Salman has confirmed his reputation as a religious conservative through the reappointment of traditionalist clerics However he has also made some effort to streamline the Saudi government Recent changes have given considerable power to two men from the next generation: King Salman's son and his nephew The result may be good for hard security measures, but less certain for the soft measures necessary for Saudi Arabia to weather the storm.
  • Topic: Security, Development, Economics, Islam, Political Economy, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: The Islamic State's murder of Jordanian hostage Lt Moaz al-Kasasbeh was both a message to the group's fighters that it can counter the coalition's relentless airstrikes as well as an offensive move designed to provoke a high-profile overreaction The air campaign against the Islamic State has been relentless while at the same time has receded from the headlines-a double blow to the group in that it suffers the losses but doesn't benefit from the attendant spectacle The drawn-out 'negotiations' over this past month-while the hostage was already dead-were likely intended to sow division and tension in Jordan, and draw attention to the issue as long as possible before the gruesome finale While Jordan is understandably enraged and will have to strike back, the most effective response might be an escalation that continues to kill the group's fighters away from the headlines.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: Like a page out of the 2004 extremist manifesto "Management of Savagery," the Islamic State has tried to goad the international community into near-sighted reactions without long-term approaches by highlighting the barbarity of its executions of hostages This tactic has thus far failed to ignite the overreaction (outside of press reporting) of Western powers, leaving the group without an important recruitment and incitement tool The Islamic State needs consistent replenishment of fear to overcome its inherently terrible local governance, and so it depends on shocking savagery to serve as both its recruitment magnet and opposition suppression As the group encounters less and less Westerners, given the danger of their presence in the region, it will find increasingly fewer ways to incite the 'us-versus-them' battle it needs to survive.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: While the threat of an immediate escalation between Israel and Hizballah appears to have subsided after deadly tit-for-tat attacks, the trend lines suggest greater conflict ahead In an important and ominous speech on January 30, Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah created, in effect, one long front against Israel that now includes Syria and the Golan Heights as well as Lebanon, increasing the potential for conflict with Israel Iran is no longer moving in the shadows but rather is openly coordinating strategy with its proxy Hizballah as the two seek to strengthen and expand 'the resistance' against Israel All parties involved have specific reasons to avoid a near-term conflict-the upcoming Israeli elections, ongoing Iranian nuclear negotiations, Hizballah's commitments in Syria-but shifting regional power dynamics will only increase the likelihood of serious fighting between them.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Jonathan Rynhold
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 23, Jonathan Rynhold and Elliott Abrams addressed a Policy Forum at The Washington Institute. Rynhold is a senior researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA), director of the Argov Center for the Study of Israel and the Jewish People, and author of the just-released book The Arab-Israel Conflict in American Political Culture (Cambridge University Press). Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and former deputy national security advisor in the George W. Bush administration. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Arabia