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  • Author: Dr. W. Andrew Terill
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: In an unexpected effort to protect a key Middle Eastern ally, the Kremlin intervened in Syria with military forces in late September 2015. This effort was undertaken to protect the Bashar Assad regime from Islamist and secular rebels now threatening his regime. Moscow initiated this action with a limited force that may be primarily designed to prevent Assad’s ouster but does not have the capabilities to help him retake large tracks of the country from the rebel groups that are now holding them. The Russian leadership made the decision to use military units in Syria at some political cost, aware that it was poisoning relations with many conservative anti-Assad Arabs and complicating its troubled relationship with Western powers.1 At some point, the Russians will have to consider the questions of how well these efforts have met their goal of bolstering the regime and what will be their next moves. They may also be rapidly faced with pressure to escalate their commitment to support the regime, if current actions do not produce meaningful results. They may also learn the painful lesson of other great powers, that military intervention in the Middle East is often much more problematic than national leaders initially expect.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Civil War, Islam, Politics, War, Military Strategy, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Syria
  • 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
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: The still-unresolved hostage situation involving Jordan, Japan, and the Islamic State is unlike any of the group's previous kidnappings Jordan is in a precarious position, as it seeks the release of one of its citizens-a national hero who comes from a prominent tribe-while not wanting to free one of the perpetrators of the worst terrorist attack in the country's history By demanding the release of failed suicide-bomber Sajida al-Rishawi from Jordanian custody, the Islamic State is trying to elevate itself to the status of negotiating nation-state, and weaken and embarrass a vital member of the coalition seeking its destruction In a striking difference with previous Islamic State hostage situations, current circumstances provide a chance for the group to bolster its standing in the vital Iraqi province of al-Anbar-where al-Rishawi is from-and perhaps slightly lessen tribal pressure on the group The issue is causing tensions between the Iraqi-born leadership of the Islamic State, who want to make the exchange, and a small faction of primarily Saudi fighters, who want to execute the Jordanian pilot for bombing the group.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Japan, Middle East, Arab Countries, Jordan
  • Author: Emmanuel Comolet
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Jordan is in the eye of the Arab cyclone. It remains stable while surrounded by chaotic political situations in Syria, Iraq, Palestine and the Sinai Peninsula. Jordan has not experienced the massive demonstrations aimed at regime change that have been seen elsewhere in the region, and its relative stability has enabled it to cash in on the geo-political services it provides. These services include: hosting refugees from Palestine, Iraq or Syria; remaining a reliable ally for many international powers; featuring a strong army that plays a stabilizing role in the region; serving as an intermediary when neighboring countries need a host or a dealmaker; and providing qualified Jordanian workers to fill open vacancies for companies and countries, especially in the Gulf. The current stability in Jordan matches well its historic capacity to resist and adapt to shocks. However, the contemporary situation of the labor market reveals that the weaknesses observed in the countries having experienced revolutions (e.g., Tunisia and Egypt) are also present in Jordan; labor market participation is low with very few women active, and the unemployment rate of educated young people is worrisome. Both the number of Jordanians working abroad and the number of migrant workers in Jordan show the discrepancy between demand and supply of labor in Jordan. This could become problematic, since the economic situation has been worsening, notably with fewer public jobs available. Hence there is a need for international donors to keep supporting Jordan in a difficult regional environment, for the government of Jordan to wittily manage the balance between Transjordanians and West Bankers in the near future and for new workers to alter their expectations in searching for opportunities outside the public sector.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Democratization, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Iraq, America, Middle East, Arabia, Syria, Tunisia
  • Author: Raphaël Lefèvre
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Syria's civil war is having a dramatic impact on its neighbors, particularly Lebanon. The spillover is glaring in the northern city of Tripoli, where street violence is rising, sectarianism is at unprecedented levels, and Sunni extremism is flourishing. This instability threatens to spread to other areas of the country. Yet, Lebanon's problems have as much to do with domestic dynamics as with the unrest in Syria. Lebanese policymakers must address a number of issues that have long been ignored.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Valerie Szybala
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Damascus is the Syrian regime's center of gravity. The capital of Syria has long been viewed by the rebel forces as the key to winning the war in Syria, and its loss is unthinkable for Bashar al-Assad. Thus the struggle for Damascus is existential for the regime as well as the opposition. An operational understanding of the battle for Damascus is critical to understanding the imminent trajectory of the war. This report details the course of the conflict as it engulfed Damascus in 2013; laying out the regime's strategy and describing the political and military factors that shaped its decisions on the battlefield.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Civil War, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Bahraini government will need to distinguish better between protestors and terrorists if it wants Washington and other foreign partners to believe its claims of Iranian support for local militants. On May 5, in what has become an increasingly typical event in Bahrain, several individuals threw Molotov cocktails at a police post in a Shiite village, damaging storefronts but causing no casualties. Such incidents have intensified over the past few months in villages surrounding the capital, Manama -- in March, three police officers were killed by a bombing in al-Daih; last month, an explosion wounded another officer in the same village; days later, a police car was firebombed in Hamad Town.
  • Topic: International Relations, Political Violence, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Washington, Middle East, Bahrain
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The power balance in Yemen's north is shifting. In early 2014, Zaydi Shiite fighters, known as the Huthis or Ansar Allah (Partisans of God), won a series of battles, in effect consolidating their control over Saada governorate, on the border of Saudi Arabia, and expanding southward to the gates of the capital, Sanaa. Now a patchwork of shaky ceasefires is in place, albeit battered by bouts of violence. Tensions are high between Huthis and their various opponents – the Ahmar family, Major General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar (no relation to the Ahmar family) and his military allies, Salafi fighters, and the Sunni Islamist party, Islah, and their affiliated tribes. Fear is growing that an escalation could draw the state into a prolonged conflict. To head off a conflagration, the parties must turn the inchoate understandings reached during the country's National Dialogue Conference (NDC) into an implementable peace plan.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Armed Struggle, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Mohammed El-Katiri
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: As part of the radical political changes that have affected a number of Arab countries over the past 4 years, the toppling of regimes and the organization of the first fair and free elections in several Arab states have allowed Islamist parties to rise to power. This highly visible political trend has caused mixed reactions, both within these countries and internationally. Prior to the Arab Spring, most countries in the region banned Islamist movements from forming political parties. For decades, members of such movements were jailed, tortured, and exiled from their home countries. Even in those states where Islamist political parties were allowed, they had limited freedom and were under the scrutiny of the regimes, as was, for example, the Moroccan Justice and Development Party.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Democratization, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Elazar Barkan
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: This anthology explores the dynamics of shared religious sites in Turkey, the Balkans, Palestine/Israel, Cyprus, and Algeria, indicating where local and national stakeholders maneuver between competition and cooperation, coexistence and conflict. Contributors probe the notion of coexistence and the logic that underlies centuries of "sharing," exploring when and why sharing gets interrupted--or not--by conflict, and the policy consequences. These essays map the choreographies of shared sacred spaces within the framework of state-society relations, juxtaposing a site's political and religious features and exploring whether sharing or contestation is primarily religious or politically motivated. Although religion and politics are intertwined phenomena, the contributors to this volume understand the category of "religion" and the "political" as devices meant to distinguish between the theological and confessional aspects of religion and the political goals of groups. Their comparative approach better represents the transition in some cases of sites into places of hatred and violence, while in other instances they remain noncontroversial. The essays clearly delineate the religious and political factors that contribute to the context and causality of conflict at these sites and draw on history and anthropology to shed light on the often rapid switch from relative tolerance to distress to peace and calm.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Religion, International Affairs, Culture
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Eastern Europe, North Africa
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231169943
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Author: Mohsin Khan
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The popular uprisings that swept the Middle East in early 2011 dramatically altered the political landscape of the region with the overthrow of autocratic regimes in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen. These uprisings gave hope to citizens that this was the beginning of a long-overdue process of democratic transition in the Arab world. The monarchies of Jordan and Morocco also went through profound political changes, even though the rulers maintained their power. While the promise of democracy in the Arab transition countries was seen as the driving force in the uprisings, economic issues were an equally important factor. The explosive combination of undemocratic regimes, corruption, high unemployment, and widening income and wealth inequalities all created the conditions for the uprisings. The citizens of these countries thus expected governments to simultaneously address their political and economic demands.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Economics, International Trade and Finance, International Monetary Fund
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Yemen, Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia
  • Author: Joris Couvreur
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: On the eve of the Geneva II conference and amid continued fighting on the ground, this short paper seeks to draw up a roadmap, indicating the different stages and steps on the way to a sustainable political settlement of the conflict in Syria. A longer term perspective is put forward, adopting a broad-based and inclusive approach, focused on a Syrian-led transition process under international supervision with the assistance of key third countries, thus preparing the w ay for a multi-party democratic post-Baath future.
  • Topic: Political Violence, International Cooperation, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: More than seven weeks after the most devastating war yet waged in Gaza, its underlying causes remain unresolved. Hamas did not achieve an end to Gaza's closure; Israel did not attain the demilitarisation of the Strip or Hamas. The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) remains unrepresentative and its credibility continues to fade. Fatah's popularity has sunk while Hamas's has increased to levels unseen since its 2006 electoral victory. Small steps toward reconciliation between Hamas and the PLO have been taken, but they are very distant from the end goal of a unified, representative Palestinian leadership. But in reconciliation lies the only hope of achieving a sustainable ceasefire and, more broadly, of bringing Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank under one authority.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Arms Control and Proliferation, War, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: The Kurdish forces now provide the necessary boots on the ground in the framework of Operation Inherent Resolve. However, the strong backing of the Kurds presents a number of challenges and difficult balancing acts for Western and regional actors.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Defense Policy, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Sam Khazai
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Iraq is a nation with great potential and its political divisions and ongoing low - level violence do not mean it cannot succeed in establishing stability, security, and a better life for its people . Iraq cannot succeed, however, by denying its growing level of violence and the responsibility of Iraq's current political leaders for its problems.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Nicholas S. Yarosh, Chloe Coughlin-Schulte
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The political dynamics and violence that shape the current series of crises in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) – and daily events in Bahrain Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia, Syria, and Yemen – dominate the current course of virtually every aspect of these states including much of the current course of violence and instability in the region. Political dynamics and the current levels of, however, are only part of the story.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Development, Economics, Islam
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Libya, Yemen, Arabia, North Africa, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Bahrain, Tunisia
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The question of Sunni Arab participation in Iraq's political order that has plagued the transition since its inception is as acute and explosive as ever. Quickly marginalised by an ethno-sectarian apportionment that confined them to minority status in a system dominated by Shiites and Kurds, most community members first shunned the new dispensation then fought it. Having gradually turned from insurgency to tentative political involvement, their wager produced only nominal representation, while reinforcing feelings of injustice and discrimination. Today, with frustration at a boil, unprecedented Sunni-Shiite polarisation in the region and deadly car bombings surging across the country since the start of Ramadan in July, a revived sectarian civil war is a serious risk. To avoid it, the government should negotiate local ceasefires with Sunni officials, find ways to more fairly integrate Sunni Arabs in the political process and cooperate with local actors to build an effective security regime along the Syrian border.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Political Economy, Terrorism, Fragile/Failed State, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Nicholas Rostow
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: Transitional justice is the provision of justice in the transition from one form of government, often perceived as illegitimate, unjust, and tyrannical, or an anarchic society, to one that observes the rule of law and administers justice. It also is about choices: how to allocate scarce prosecutorial, judicial, police, and prison resources. The goal is to make the rule of law ordinary. A 2004 report of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General on the rule of law and transitional justice in conflict and postconflict societies observed that most examples of transitional justice involved states emerging from civil war or widespread civil unrest such that government became impossible.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Islam, Peace Studies, Treaties and Agreements, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, United Nations, Syria
  • Author: Nelly Lahoud
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: This report analyzes jihadi discourse in the wake of the "Arab Spring" to address two related questions: (1) why have global jihadi leaders been struggling to advance a coherent and effective response to the events of the Arab Spring, and (2) why, despite strong rhetoric of militancy, have we witnessed little action on the part of new jihadi groups that have emerged in countries that underwent regime change (i.e., Tunisia, Egypt and Libya) as a result of the Arab Spring? To answer these questions, this study focuses on original Arabic sources in the form of public statements released by global jihadi leaders in response to the Arab Spring and by new groups projecting a jihadi worldview that have emerged in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. It reveals that the factors that are causing the current ideological incoherence of jihadism are the same factors that had once served as the cornerstone of its plausibility in the eyes of its adherents.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Diplomacy, Islam, Armed Struggle, Regime Change, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Arabia, North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Elizabeth Ferris, Osman Bahadir Dinçer, Vittoria Federici, Sema Karaca, Kemal Kirisci, Elif Özmenek Çarmikli
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Strategic Research Organization (USAK)
  • Abstract: On April 29, 2011, the first Syrian refugees crossed the border into Turkey. Two years later, the country hosts some 600,000 Syrian refugees—200,000 of them living in 21 refugee camps with an additional 400,000 living outside of the camps (see charts 1 and 2 below). These estimates, reported by both the Turkish government and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), are conservative. Indeed, officials working directly with refugees on the ground suggest that the number living outside of the camps may be as high as 800,000.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Humanitarian Aid, Islam, Migration, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Joseph Holliday
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The conflict in Syria transitioned from an insurgency to a civil war during the summer of 2012. For the first year of the conflict, Bashar al-Assad relied on his father's counterinsurgency approach; however, Bashar al-Assad's campaign failed to put down the 2011 revolution and accelerated the descent into civil war. This report seeks to explain how the Assad regime lost its counterinsurgency campaign, but remains well situated to fight a protracted civil war against Syria's opposition.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Dr. Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou, Christian Koch, Dr. Klejda Mulaj
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: As the Middle East continues to grapple with challenging questions of continuity and change, a group of distinguished thinkers on the region's politics and society met in Gstaad, Switzerland, to analyze current political dynamics and their implications for the region and beyond. This 11th Annual Conference organized jointly by the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), the Crown Centre for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University, and the Gulf Research Center (GRC) aimed to take stock of developments in the Middle East over the previous year and bring about a greater understanding of the complex problems faced by a perplexingly disordered region. Following on the 10th meeting in 2012, the primary focus of the discussion was on the Arab revolutions, their overall significance and outlook as well as their impact in the region with a specific emphasis on Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan. In addition, Iran's domestic politics and its international security implications; the GCC states and their place in the broader Middle East; as well as Israeli-Palestinian relations also featured prominently. The meeting opened by looking at the broader geopolitical and regional dynamics and concluded with a session considering policy implications in relation to present regional political dynamics. This report summarizes discussions held in the course of this meeting and in the tradition of previous reports on this Conference series, no direct, personal attributions are made herein. The Conference's program is attached.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Governance, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Geneva, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Syria, Switzerland, Egypt
  • Author: Omar Shaban
  • Publication Date: 02-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: IEMed/EuroMeSCo
  • Abstract: The ceasefire agreement signed on Wednesday evening, 22nd November 2012 in Cairo between Hamas and Israel, which ended eight days of fighting between the two sides, was certainly not the first ceasefire since the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, and unfortunately will not be the last. There are many indicators that warn that the cycle of violence may start not after years but after months" writes Omar Shaban.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Treaties and Agreements, War, Territorial Disputes, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Lorenzo Vidino
  • Publication Date: 02-2013
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Few observers foresaw the Arab Spring, but it should not have surprised anyone that the Islamist movements - the most organized movements in the Arab world - became the main beneficiaries of the turmoil that ensued. Islamism, in its gradualist and pragmatic approach embodied by the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots worldwide, seems ready to reap the rewards of its three decades-old decision to abandon violence and focus on grassroots activities. This monumental change has created many concerns among liberals, religious minorities and, more generally, all non-Islamists in the countries where Islamists have won. In addition, Arab states ruled by non-Islamist regimes have expressed concern. The former worry that Islamist ideology - even in its more contemporary, pragmatic form - remains deeply divisive and anti-democratic, often at odds with their values and interests. The latter believe that on foreign policy issues, most of the positions of various Brotherhood-inspired parties are on a collision course with the policies of established regimes in the region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Political Violence, Islam, Self Determination, Political Activism, Elections, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Faysal Itani, Sarah Grebowkski
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: To describe the increase in violence and instability in Lebanon since the civil war in Syria began as simply a spillover is misleading. it risks casting Lebanon as a victim to negative externalities divorced from its own political dysfunction. in truth, Lebanon's troubles long preceded the war in Syria, and the conflict's more complex and pernicious effect on Lebanon has been the exposure and deepening of pre-existing rifts among Lebanese.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Human Rights, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Refugee Issues
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Marina Ottaway, Danial Kaysi
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Within days of the official ceremonies marking the end of the U.S. mission in Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki moved to indict Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi on terrorism charges and sought to remove Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq from his position, triggering a major political crisis that fully revealed Iraq as an unstable, undemocratic country governed by raw competition for power and barely affected by institutional arrangements. Large-scale violence immediately flared up again, with a series of terrorist attacks against mostly Shi'i targets reminiscent of the worst days of 2006.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Democratization, Development, Ethnic Conflict, Terrorism, War, Fragile/Failed State, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Kurdistan
  • Author: Nadwa Al-Dawsari
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The power-sharing deal signed by Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh in November 2011 mentioned presidential elections, the formation of a national unity government, and a military commission to reform the armed forces. It was at best the first step in Yemen's recovery from the protracted turmoil and instability that wracked the country for months.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Democratization, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Charles Schmitz
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The Yemeni economy is often portrayed as a dire picture of impending disaster, as the country runs out of oil and even more devastatingly of water. Yemen's economic problems are real, but they are not caused by an absolute, irreparable shortage of resources. Rather, it is Yemen's contentious politics and its lack of institutional development that constitute the main obstacle to surmounting present economic difficulties.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Development, Economics, Poverty, Natural Resources, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Andrea Dessì
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: While spared from internal turmoil, Israel and the Palestinian Territories have nonetheless been affected by the region's political transformation brought about by the Arab Spring. Reflecting what can be described as Israel's “bunker” mentality, the Israeli government has characterized the Arab revolutionary wave as a security challenge, notably given its concern about the rise of Islamist forces. Prime Minister Netanyahu has capitalized on this sense of insecurity to justify his government's lack of significant action when it comes to the peace process. On the Palestinian side, both Hamas and Fatah have lost long-standing regional backers in Egypt and Syria and have had to contend with their increasingly shaky popular legitimacy. This has spurred renewed efforts for reconciliation, which however have so far produced no significant results. Against this backdrop, the chances for a resumption of serious Israeli-Palestinian peace talks appear increasingly dim. An effort by the international community is needed to break the current deadlock and establish an atmosphere more conducive for talks. In this context, the EU carries special responsibility as the only external actor that still enjoys some credibility as a balanced mediator between the sides.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Syria, Egypt
  • Author: Leila Stockmarr
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Changing with rapid speed, the current political geography of the occupied Palestinian territory has de facto come to undermine a two-state solution and is turning the official aim and end point of international negotiations at best into a naïve mirage for policymakers and at worst into a façade for a very different political game playing out in the occupied territory of the West Bank and Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem: that of Israel's ongoing territorial expansion into Palestinian land. The study shows how the settlement policies inside what are internationally-recognised Palestinian territories are not merely undermining the realisation of the two-state solution: the territorial claims put forward and pursued in practice and their anchoring in strategies of legitimisation reach far beyond international legal standards. This reveals a very different political narrative embedded at the core of the conflict from that projected by those images often appearing in the mainstream media and policy circles: a narrative of an ongoing struggle over land detached from any 'Peace Process' measures.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Any estimate of energy risk is highly uncertain. The reality can vary sharply according to national and global economic conditions, politics, war, natural disasters, discoveries of new reserves, advances in technology, unanticipated new regulations and environmental issues, and a host of other factors.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Energy Policy, Islam, Oil
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Nicolas Pelham
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: When the West Bank and Gaza first split between two rival Palestinian governments in 2007, Western governments promised to turn the West Bank under President Mahmoud Abbas, their Fatah protégé, into a model state and reduce Gaza under its Islamist rulers, Hamas, to a pariah. Almost five years on, the tables have turned. While the West Bank slips into economic and political crisis, Gaza is fast reviving. Abbas finds himself bereft of a political horizon for achieving a two-state settlement and the state-building experiment of his prime minister, Salam Fayyad, has reached an impasse. Gaza's economy, by contrast, has grown strongly under Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, who is experiencing a wave of increasing popularity, as Hamas looks to tie the enclave ever more closely to the political economies of North Africa, where the Arab awakening is bringing affiliated Islamist movements to power. A recent agreement signed in the Qatari capital, Doha, between Abbas and Hamas's exiled leader, Khalid Meshal, is intended to heal the split between Palestine's two halves. Under the agreement, the separate governments governing Gaza and the West Bank would be replaced by a single technocratic government under Abbas, which is a radical about-turn on the part of the exiled Hamas leadership that Hamas politicians in Gaza find difficult to swallow. For its own reasons, Israel too rejects the agreement. With so many previous attempts at intra-Palestinian reconciliation ending in failure and so many obstacles dogging this latest round, the prospects for the Doha agreement remain bleak, but not beyond the realm of the possible.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Islam, Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Martin Beck, Simone Hüser
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This article deals with the Arab Spring as a process of deep political change in the Arab world, previously the only major world area where authoritarianism persisted unchallenged for decades. While in various countries of the Arab world mass protests in 2011 forced rulers to resign, other authoritarian regimes have – despite political and economic pressure – so far been able to remain in power, or have even been only insignificantly affected. This paper applies central social science approaches in order to analyze recent developments in the region – a major task of theoretically oriented social sciences in the coming years. In addition to providing an overview of the existing literature on the Arab Spring, the article examines the empirical results of political diversification in the Arab world. A two ‐ by ‐ two matrix of political rule that differentiates according to the type of rule and the degree of stability is presented and discussed. Although the analysis draws heavily on rent theory, it also applies findings from transition theory and revolution theory to illuminate the current political dynamics in the Middle East.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Islam, Regime Change, Governance, Hegemony
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: There they went again–or did they? The war between Israel and Hamas had all the hallmarks of a tragic movie watched several times too many: airstrikes pounding Gaza, leaving death and destruction in their wake; rockets launched aimlessly from the Strip, spreading terror on their path; Arab states expressing outrage at Israel's brute force; Western governments voicing understanding for its exercise of self-defence. The actors were faithful to the script: Egypt negotiated a ceasefire, the two protagonists claimed victory, civilians bore the losses.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Islam
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Egypt
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Syria's conflict is leaking out of its borders, but in few places are risks higher than in Lebanon. This is not just a matter of history, although history bodes ill: the country seldom has been immune to the travails of its neighbour. It also is a function of recent events, of which the most dramatic was the 19 October assassination of top security official Wissam Hassan, an illustration of the country's fragility and the short-sight edness of politicians unwilling to address it. Lebanon's two principal coalitions see events in Syria in a starkly different light – as a dream come true for one; as a potentially apocalyptical night- mare for the other. It would be unrealistic to expect Lebanese actors to be passive in the face of what is unfolding next door. But it is imperative to shield the country as much as possible and resist efforts by third parties – whether allies or foes of Damascus – to drag the nation in a perilous direction. In the wake of Hassan's assassination, this almost certainly requires a new, more balanced government and commitments by local and regional actors not to use Lebanese soil as an arena in which to wage the Syrian struggle.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Regime Change, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: ees van der Pijl
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: The “moderate Islam” that has developed in Turkey could play a role in shaping the outcome of the Arab revolt that began in 2011. The modern Turkish state established by Atatürk after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire had to find ways to integrate Islam politically. Turkey was a late-industrialising country and the Islamic political current tended to have an anti-Western, antiliberal profile on this account. Two tendencies within Turkish political Islam are distinguished: one connecting religion to economic nationalism, the other primarily cultural and willing to accommodate to neoliberalism. The 1980 military coup geared the country to neoliberalism and cleared the way for this second tendency to rise to power through the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of R.T. Erdo ˘gan. For the West and the Gulf Arab states the export of this model to the Arab countries destabilised in the popular revolt would amount to a very favourable outcome. Gulf Arab capital was already involved in the opening up of state-controlled Arab economies, including Syria. Although the situation is still in flux, by following the Turkish model Muslim Brotherhood governments could potentially embrace political loyalty to the West and neoliberal capitalism.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Civil Society, Democratization, Development, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Human Rights First
  • Abstract: In its brutal crackdown on civilians, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria has committed mass atrocities. These crimes are not only a human rights catastrophe but also, as the Obama Administration says, a threat to U.S. national security. Yet American diplomatic efforts have failed to curb the violence.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Political Violence, Human Rights, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East, Syria
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: One year into the Syrian uprising, the level of death and destruction is reaching new heights. Yet, outside actors – whether regime allies or opponents – remain wedded to behaviour that risks making an appalling situation worse. Growing international polarisation simultaneously gives the regime political space to maintain an approach – a mix of limited reforms and escala ting repression – that in the longer run is doomed to fail; guarantees the opposition' s full militarisation, which could trigger all - out civil war; and heightens odds of a regional proxy war that might well precipitate a dangerous conflagration. Kofi Annan' s appointment as joint UN/Arab League Special Envoy arguably offers a chance to rescue fading prospects for a negotiated transition. It must not be squandered. For that, Russia and others must understand that, short of rapidly reviving a credible political track, only an intensifying military one will remain, with dire consequences for all.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Müjge Küçükkeleş
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Suspension of Syria's Arab League membership in November 2011 could be characterized as a turning point in Arab league's 66-year old history. By condemning the Syrian and Libyan regimes for disproportionate use of violence against their own people, the Arab League has somewhat found rightful the demand of Arab people. the League has signaled with these decisions that it would move away from ideas of Arab nationalism and Arab unity in pursuit of further integration with the international system. On the other hand, the authoritarian state systems of most of the member states of the League make it difficult to regard Arab League decisions as steps supporting democracy. The League's ''democratic stance'' is an outcome of the pressure of revolutions as much as of harmony of interests among the member states. Even though strengthening democracy in the region seems like an unrealistic desire of member states, these decisions push each member towards thinking about change and thus pave the way for democratic reform process. The study at hand consists of two parts. The first part addresses the League's policy proposals, decisions, and reactions regarding the Syrian crisis and concentrates on what these all policy measures mean for the League as a regional organization. The second part examines regional dynamics that play a crucial role in the current crisis by looking at different positions of regional and global actors on the Syrian crisis.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Regional Cooperation, Regime Change, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Nathan M. Jensen, Persephone Economou, Paul Antony Barbour, Daniel Villar
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: The events of the Arab Spring have dramatically increased the risk perceptions of foreign investors. In directly affected countries, these events led to disruptions in economic activity including plummeting tourism and foreign direct investment (FDI) flows, all of which negatively impacted economic growth. While the economic impact was uneven across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, for the region's developing countries the growth rate assumption underpinning survey analysis in the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency's (MIGA's) World Investment and Political Risk Report for 2011 was 1.7%. How much will these developments affect future FDI?
  • Topic: Political Violence, Regime Change, Foreign Aid, Fragile/Failed State, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Stephen J. Hadley, Steven A. Cook, Madeleine Albright
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Among the most important developments in international affairs of the past decade is the emergence of Turkey as a rising regional and global power. Turkey has long been an important country as a stalwart member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), an aspirant to European Union (EU) membership, and an important link between the West and the East. Yet the changes in Turkey over the past decade have been so dramatic—with far-reaching political and economic reforms, significant social reforms, and an active foreign policy—that the country is virtually unrecognizable to longtime Turkey watchers. Today Turkey is more democratic, prosperous, and politically influential than it was five, ten, and fifteen years ago.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Political Violence, Democratization, Economics, Human Rights, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Central Asia, Turkey, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: As the 10 April deadline Kofi Annan (the UN and Arab League joint Special Envoy) set for implementation of his peace plan strikes , the conflict ' s dynamics have taken an ugly and worrying turn. Syrians from all walks of life appear dumbfounded by the horrific levels of violence and hatred generated by the crisis. Regime forces have subjected entire neighbourhoods to intense bombardment, purportedly to crush armed opposition groups yet with no regard for civilians. Within the largest cities, innocent lives have been lost due to massive bomb attacks in the vicinity of key security installations. Perhaps most sickening of all have been pictures displaying the massacre of whole families, including the shattered skulls of young children. The first anniversary of what began as a predominantly peaceful protest movement came and went with only scattered popular demonstrations. Instead, there was immeasurable bloodshed.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Armed Struggle, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, United Nations, Syria
  • Author: Martin Hartberg
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: The ceasefire agreed between the Government of Israel and Hamas on 21 November 2012, following the recent military escalation in Gaza and southern Israel, provides an unprecedented opportunity to end the cycle of violence that has affected too many innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians. In the ceasefire understanding, the parties agreed to negotiate 'opening the crossings' into the Gaza Strip and to put an end to 'restricting residents' free movement and targeting residents in border areas'. It is therefore also a unique chance to once and for all lift the Israeli blockade on Gaza, which has had a devastating impact on the lives and well-being of Gaza's civilian population and on Palestinian development.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Political Violence, Islam, War, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Gaza
  • 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
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: It is early days, and the true measure of what the Egyptian people have accomplished has yet to fully sink in. Some achievements are as clear as they are stunning. Over a period of less than three weeks, they challenged conventional chestnuts about Arab lethargy; transformed national politics; opened up the political space to new actors; massively reinforced protests throughout the region; and called into question fundamental pillars of the Middle East order. They did this without foreign help and, indeed, with much of the world timidly watching and waffling according to shifting daily predictions of their allies' fortunes. The challenge now is to translate street activism into inclusive, democratic institutional politics so that a popular protest that culminated in a military coup does not end there. The backdrop to the uprising has a familiar ring. Egypt suffered from decades of authoritarian rule, a lifeless political environment virtually monopolised by the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP); widespread corruption, cronyism and glaring inequities; and a pattern of abuse at the hands of unaccountable security forces. For years, agitation against the regime spread and, without any credible mechanism to express or channel public discontent, increasingly took the shape of protest movements and labour unrest.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Desperate to survive at all costs, Syria's regime appears to be digging its grave. It did not have to be so. The protest movement is strong and getting stronger but yet to reach critical mass. Unlike toppled Arab leaders, President Bashar Assad enjoyed some genuine popularity. Many Syrians dread chaos and their nation's fragmentation. But whatever opportunity the regime once possessed is being jeopardised by its actions. Brutal repression has overshadowed belated, half-hearted reform suggestions; Bashar has squandered credibility; his regime has lost much of the legitimacy derived from its foreign policy. The international community, largely from fear of the alternative to the status quo, waits and watches, eschewing for now direct involvement. That is the right policy, as there is little to gain and much to lose from a more interventionist approach, but not necessarily for the right reasons. The Syrian people have proved remarkably resistant to sectarian or divisive tendencies, defying regime prophecies of confessional strife and Islamisation. That does not guarantee a stable, democratic future. But is a good start that deserves recognition and support.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Regime Change, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa, Syria
  • Author: Vicken Cheterian
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The Arab revolt that started in Tunisia and over¬threw the reign of Zein El-Abedeen Ben Ali is taking the form of a huge wave. The regime of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, the central state of the Arab World, followed suit. Uprising in Libya continues, in spite of attempts by the Kaddhafi regime to kill it in blood and fire. Ali Abdallah Saleh of Yemen declared that he will not seek a new mandate, a concession which only emboldened both opposition and youth revolt. King Abdallah of Jordan sacked the unpopular government of Samir Rifai, and named Maruf Bakhit as the new prime minister and asked him to bring “true political reforms”. In a word, the entire Arab World is facing an unprecedented wave of revolt.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Corruption, Economics, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Thomas Hegghammer
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: A salient feature of armed conflict in the Muslim world since 1980 has been the involvement of so-called foreign fighters. These foreign fighters are unpaid combatants with no apparent link to the conflict other than religious affinity with the Muslim side. Since 1980, between 10,000 and 30,000 such fighters have inserted themselves into conflicts from Bosnia in the west to the Philippines in the east.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Bosnia, Middle East, Philippines, Arabia