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  • Author: Ali Al-Mawlawi
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: The decentralization agenda emerged in Iraq after 2003 as an imperative to create an internal balance of power that would mitigate against the rise of another authoritarian regime. By exploring the political motivations and calculations of elites, this paper sheds light on why devolution of powers to sub-national entities failed to bring about meaningful change to the daily lives of ordinary Iraqis. While administrative authorities have been largely devolved, fiscal decentralization lags due to resistance from concerned central authorities, leaving sub-national actors with limited capacity to exercise their newly afforded powers.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, State Formation, State Building, Decentralization
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad
  • Author: Bassma Kodmani
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: Before the Syrian uprising morphed into a full-scale war, Syria was probably the most authoritarian regime in the Arab region, unequalled in the scale of its repressive practices except by the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. Authoritarianism is hardly compatible with decentralization. An authoritarian government’s key concern is to spread the tentacles of its surveillance apparatus across all regions in order to exert full control over the lives of the citizens. A process of decentralization – in which power is genuinely devolved – is practically impossible, therefore, in an authoritarian system of governance. Yet equating centralization with authoritarianism and decentralization with democracy is an assertion that deserves discussion. Some democracies have functioned in a highly centralized manner. Perhaps, one of the best-known examples is France (on which the Syrian state was modelled) that remained highly centralized since the early days of the state formation almost 1000 years ago. The French revolution of 1789 upheld freedom and equality and announced a democratic system. The very idea of decentralization was rejected at the time in the name of equality understood as uniformity. Yet even France found it necessary to engage in some form of decentralization. Since the early 1980s, it engaged in a process of decentralization, mainly for administrative and financial efficiency. Although it continued to consider identity politics as dangerous for the unity of the nation, it was forced to concede to one particular identity-driven demand, that of the Corsicans, by designing a special status for the island.1 And decentralized systems do not necessarily produce democratic or more representative systems. Mexico is a case in point. Although it was always a federation, its political system remained a one-party rule for some seventy years before it transitioned to democracy in the early 2000s. Decentralization and democracy are, therefore, not inherently inseparable. However, a centralized system, even if democratic, inevitably reduces and often denies the specific identity of certain groups within society. It might operate in a democratic manner when national identity is homogeneous, but the world is composed of states where homogeneity is an exception. In diverse societies such as those of the Middle Eastern countries, centralization together with the demagogic discourse of authoritarian regimes using national cohesion as a pretext and brandishing foreign interference as a permanent threat, have served to deny diversity and basic rights of both individual citizens and specific communities. Syrian society faces a historic challenge and possibly an existential one: it needs to craft a model of decentralization as part of a new social contract while its national institutions are all but failing and its regional environment challenges the integrity of its territory and its sovereignty. Given the uncertainty shrouding the future of Syria, the paper is organized in two parts. The first lays out the discussion about decentralization based on the current reality of the Syrian regime in a scenario in which it regains control after having lived through nine years of gradual foundering of state institutions. The second part considers options for a new decentralized order in a context of democratic political transition. This is not to say that the first option is viable while the second is an ideal order for a fictitious future. On the contrary, the paper shows that the destruction of state institutions is a reality and a consequence of the conflict, that violence and other forms of resistance will continue, and that peace cannot be brought to the country under the existing political system. The second option is, therefore, a necessity which Syrians will need to define with the support of the international community. The paper lays out the process with concrete steps for achieving democratic decentralization.
  • Topic: Fragile/Failed State, Democracy, Decentralization , regionalism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, Damascus
  • Author: Marie kortam
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: Those who visited Palestinian camps in Lebanon last month could not have missed a new upsurge in the popular mobilization on Palestinian streets. Their enthusiasm can be sensed in the spirits of the youth, their chants, and round-the-clock occupation of public spaces. This upsurge in mobilization was not only the result of the Lebanese Labour Minister’s implementation of his plan1 to combat businesses employing foreign labour without a permit – after giving them one month to regularize their situation.2 It was also the outcome of an accumulated sense of frustration, injustice, humiliation, indignation, deprivation and finally, anger that crystallized in these latest rounds of collective political action. The question then remains: why have Palestinians in Lebanon reached a breaking point at this stage, and why did the movement take this shape? There is no doubt that this anger accumulated gradually. First, it arose from the political-security arrangement for Palestinians in Lebanon, along with the historical absence of a socio-political contract with the Lebanese state. Second, it is the outcome of the deprivation, oppression, racism, and discrimination against Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, which was finally exacerbated by international resolutions hostile to the Palestinian cause, threatening the refugee cause and the right of return. Moreover, the economic situation of Palestinian refugees has deteriorated and was further compounded after the USA cut off its funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). However, alone these factors are not enough to fully explain this mobilization. These latest developments are also the product of a degree of practical awareness among the Palestinian youth and their discourse which explains their involvement in a movement demanding civil rights and an arrangement in which Palestinians are an agent of change against injustice. This movement is also proof of the existence of a new paradigm of the oppressed, who no longer identifies with the oppressors and becomes dependent on them, but instead seeks to break free from their oppression, and in so doing, spontaneously and effectively imposes a new social formula and project. This paper discusses the emergence of this popular mobilization and its transformation into a social movement, the challenges it has faced, and how its actors built a common framework for action to address their status as oppressed. It relies on field interviews – formal and informal – with actors and politicians, participatory observation, the analysis of organized groups, and contributions via WhatsApp and Facebook. The paper focuses on the movement in Ain al-Hilweh camp as one of the largest Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, with its political and security context that distinguishes it from other camps.
  • Topic: United Nations, Diaspora, Social Movement, Refugees, Social Media, Repression
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon
  • Author: Osamah Al-Rawhani
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: Local governance has been viewed by academics, analysts and some political leaders in Yemen as a panacea to redress the excessive control of the central government, bring the state closer to its citizens and provide those citizens with socio-economic and political stability. Federalism, as a form of local governance, was adopted at the end of the National Dialogue Conference in 2013-2014, although there were disagreements over the number of regions and the federal map. It was posited as a viable vehicle for power-sharing and decentralization in Yemen and is considered a likely outcome after the conflict. However, there are several prerequisites for the effective devolution of power that are not yet in place in Yemen, most prominently the existence of strong consolidated central institutions. In short: it is a mistake to view federalism as a means of achieving stability, rather than a future goal once stability has been achieved.
  • Topic: Democracy, State Formation, Decentralization , Federalism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Sana'a
  • Author: Anis Chérif-Alami
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: This paper examines the uprisings that have been taking place in different parts of Lebanon since 17 October relying on direct observation of the protests and interviews with various participants. Acknowledging that the protest movement and the situation in Lebanon remain highly dynamic, it proposes some elements to better understand and contextualize the movement. Although Lebanon generally avoided the wave of protests that swept the Arab world in 2011, there were early attempts to criticize the sectarian system and dysfunctional public services. The paper outlines what current events owe to a recent history of protests in Lebanon, in particular, the short-lived 2011 protests demanding the fall of the sectarian regime and the 2015 “you stink” movement (Tala’at Rihatkum) which denounced the public mismanagement of garbage and called for accountability for political corruption. While the current protests have some roots in past citizens’ activism, it is also clear that there are new aspects that continue to evolve as protesters experiment day by day with new ways of doing politics.
  • Topic: Corruption, Social Movement, Political Activism, Arab Spring, Protests
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Beirut
  • Author: Hashim Al-Rikabi
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: The stability and legitimacy of the post-2003 Iraqi state are undermined by the provision of poor basic services, soaring unemployment, and political paralysis. This has driven ordinary citizens towards waves of protests that peaked in August 2018 and re-surged again in October 2019, demonstrating that without addressing the underlying causes behind these protests, much larger and more aggressive protest waves may shock the system, again and again, threatening its existence. The initial phase of the 2019 protests was similar to the first period of 2018 protests (April - June) in terms of their small scale, their focus on specific issues such as unemployment, and their largely peaceful nature. But quickly, within a few weeks, the 2019 protests escalated with protesters blocking key economic facilities and attacking government buildings and political parties’ headquarters. This escalation mirrored the trajectory of the 2018 which also intensified over time, but what is striking is the speed with which the 2019 intensified and moved from socio-economic focused demands to demands for fundamental political reforms, including new elections. While the involvement of political actors was evident in efforts by politicians, such as Muqtada Al-Sadr, to try to ride the wave of protests as well as the crackdown on protests by armed elements of certain political parties, the 2019 mobilization has also shown the emergence of a new generation of protesters and the rising role of new social actors, such as professional groups. The increasing frequency of protests since 2018 and their widening and deepening scope suggest that the post-2003 Iraqi governance model, with its stalemate between the different political actors, needs a fundamental new formulation that is able to renew trust in a reformed political system. The stalemate could either develop into genuine reforms to address the ills of the post-2003 political and economic system, away from ethno-sectarian politics, or descend into violence.
  • Topic: Imperialism, Social Movement, Protests, State Building
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad
  • Author: Fares Halabi
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: Only a few hours after the start of 17 October 2019 demonstrations in Lebanon, protesters started to demand the overthrow of the regime under the slogan “all [of them] means all [of them]”. What does this slogan mean in Lebanon today, eight years after it was first launched? And how has the discourse of overthrowing the regime developed since 2011? When I was a university student in 2011, I took part in several demonstrations calling for the overthrow of the regime. However, it quickly dawned on me that the immediate conditions for such a demand were not then available, making the slogan, without it being adapted to the Lebanese context, inappropriate relative to other countries. In this paper, I aim to revisit the 2011 campaign to critique it and highlight the reasons behind its failure. This is pertinent given its close affiliation with what have been observed in Lebanon since 17 October. In the last few weeks, I have had conversations with six people1 who were active in the 2011 campaign and are involved in the current revolution. We discussed their understanding of the developments in the Lebanese political landscape since 2011, the accumulated experiences that have pushed the Lebanese public to revolt against the regime in a broad mobilisation that has been ongoing for more than two months. We discussed how the slogan “overthrowing the regime” has developed into its current formulation of “all means all” which is met with broad public resonance.
  • Topic: Social Movement, Arab Spring, Protests, Revolution
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Beirut
  • Author: Bassma Kodmani
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: The Collapse of the Syrian state is largely a reality. Both Russia and Iran, Assad’s allies, know he is not the guarantor of the continuity of the state any more but continue to hold on to him to sign off on projects that consolidate their control. This paper argues that instead of a failed state, a two-headed system has emerged, with Iran and Russia each pushing for their own vision of the country.
  • Topic: Imperialism, Fragile/Failed State, Authoritarianism, Military Intervention, Repression
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Iran, Middle East, Syria, Damascus
  • Author: Markus Loewe, Bernhard Trautner, Tina Zintl
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: The social contract is a key concept in social science literature focusing on state–society relations. It refers to the “entirety of explicit or implicit agreements between all relevant societal groups and the sovereign (i.e. the government or any other actor in power), defining their rights and obligations towards each other” (Loewe & Zintl, forthcoming). The analysis of social contracts helps the understanding of: (i) why some societal groups are socially, politically or economically better off than others, (ii) why some revolt and demand a new social contract and, thus, (iii) why a country descends into violent conflict. In addition, the concept shows how foreign interventions and international co-operation may affect state–society relations by strengthening the position of the state or of specific societal groups. It illustrates that state fragility, displacement and migration can arise from social contracts becoming less inclusive. Nevertheless, the term “social contract” has so far been neither well defined nor operationalised – to the detriment of both research and of bi- and multilateral co-operation. Such a structured analytical approach to state–society relations is badly needed both in research and in politics, in particular but not exclusively for the analysis of MENA countries. This briefing paper sets the frame, suggesting a close analysis of (i) the scope of social contracts, (ii) their substance and (iii) their temporal dimension. After independence, MENA governments established a specific kind of social contract with citizens, mainly based on the redistribution of rents from natural resources, development aid and other forms of transfers. They provided subsidised food and energy, free public education and government jobs to citizens in compensation for the tacit recognition of political regimes’ legitimacy despite a lack of political participation. But with growing populations and declining state revenues, some governments lost their ability to fulfil their duties and focused spending on strategically important social groups, increasingly tying resource provision to political acquiescence. The uprisings that took place in many Arab countries in 2011 can be seen as an expression of deep dissatisfaction with social contracts that no longer provided either political participation or substantial social benefits (at least for large parts of the population). After the uprisings, MENA countries developed in different directions. While Tunisia is a fair way towards more inclusive development and political participation, Morocco and Jordan are trying to restore some parts of the former social contract, providing for paternalistic distribution without substantial participation. In Egypt’s emerging social contract, the government promises little more than individual and collective security, and that only under the condition of full political acquiescence. Libya, Yemen and Syria have fallen into civil wars with no countrywide new contract in sight, and Iraq has been struggling for one since 2003. In addition, flight and migration also affect the social contracts of neighbouring countries such as Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon. All MENA countries are designing, or will need to design, new social contracts in order to reduce the current instability and enable physical reconstruction. This briefing paper informs on the status of conceptual considerations of social contract renegotiation in MENA countries and its meaning for international co-operation with them.
  • Topic: Government, Governance, Legitimacy, Institutions, Services, Social Contract
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Ilan Goldenberg, Jessica Schwed, Kaleigh Thomas
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Global Energy Policy
  • Abstract: In recent months, Iran has responded to rising tensions with the United States—particularly the US launch of the “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran—by attacking oil tankers and infrastructure in the Persian Gulf region around the Strait of Hormuz (the Strait). These actions have been designed to signal to the United States, the Gulf states, and the international community that the American strategy of strangling Iran economically will not be cost-free, and to Saudi Arabia in particular that it is highly vulnerable to Iranian retaliation. As the Strait of Hormuz is one of the world’s most critical energy chokepoints, the implications of Iran’s efforts merit close scrutiny and analysis. This study was designed to examine three scenarios for military conflict between Iran and the United States and assess the potential impacts on global oil prices—as one specific representation of the immediate economic impact of conflict—as well as broader strategic implications. The three scenarios are: Increasing US-Iran tensions that ultimately lead to a new “Tanker War” scenario similar to the conflict of the 1980s, in which Iran attacks potentially hundreds of ships in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman over a prolonged period while also launching missiles at Gulf oil infrastructure. An escalation of tensions between Iran and the United States in which Iran significantly increases the scope and severity of missile attacks directed at major oil and energy infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. A major conflict between Iran and the United States that includes damage to Gulf oil infrastructure and a temporary closure of the Strait of Hormuz. Its main conclusions are: The risk of a major military confrontation between the United States and Iran has increased in recent months but still remains relatively low, as neither the United States nor Iran wants war. That said, the September 14, 2019, attack on the Abqaiq and Khurais facilities was a strategic game changer and shows that the biggest risk is a prolonged, low-intensity military conflict. The fact that Iran was willing to conduct such an attack was a surprise to most analysts and to the US government and its Gulf partners. The level of accuracy it showed in the strike demonstrated a technical proficiency the US government and outside analysts did not believe Iran had. In the more moderate and likely conflict scenarios, increasing tensions between the United States and Iran are unlikely to dramatically affect global oil prices. The most profound costs in the more likely scenarios are not energy-related but security-related. Even in the less escalatory scenarios, the United States would be forced into long-term deployments of a large number of air and naval assets that would need to remain in the Middle East for years at a cost of billions of dollars. Such deployments would take away resources that would otherwise be dedicated to managing great power competition with China and Russia. In the more extreme conflict scenarios, major loss of life and an even bigger and longer-term American military deployment would be expected. In the lower likelihood scenario of a major military confrontation between the United States and Iran, global oil prices would be dramatically affected, though price impacts would not be prolonged. All assumptions about the potential impacts on oil prices are based on the supposition that the United States protects global shipping lanes, but that theory deserves further scrutiny. For more than a generation, the United States has viewed securing global shipping lanes that are critical for commerce and energy as a core vital interest. But given the isolationist tendencies in the United States and President Donald Trump’s attitude that America should stop underwriting the defense of its allies, it is conceivable he may choose not to respond in the types of scenarios described in this paper or demand that countries most dependent on oil trade from the Gulf—most notably China—step up instead. Another wild card for oil prices in a major crisis scenario would be President Trump’s unpredictable policies regarding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Typically, an administration would be expected to coordinate an international response with the International Energy Agency (IEA) to release the SPR of a number of countries, but this cannot be assumed in the current administration. Though these conclusions are to some extent comforting, the authors acknowledge that a key issue with any analysis of this situation is the unpredictability of the United States. In the present moment, neither US adversaries nor partners know quite what to expect—and, for that matter, neither does the US government or its observers.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Energy Policy, Oil, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Iran, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Münevver cebeci
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Uluslararasi Iliskiler
  • Institution: International Relations Council of Turkey (UİK-IRCT)
  • Abstract: Arguing that the European Union’s (EU) imposition of its norms and values on Turkey is a continuation of the logic of “European standards of civilisation”, this article offers a second reading of European discourses about Turkey. It regards enlargement conditionality as an apparatus through which the EU constructs its own identity as “ideal” and its others as imperfect. Thus, it attempts to deconstruct the EU’s standards of civilisation through three major lines on which they are built: the authoritative application of standards, unequal treatment and a geopolitical approach – as set by Hartmut Behr in 2007.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Civilization
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, European Union
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Alternative Politics
  • Institution: Department of International Relations, Abant Izzet Baysal University, Turkey
  • Abstract: As one of Syria’s neighbors, Turkey has become a refuge for more than 3.5 million forced Syrian migrants. Though many of them are living in Turkey’s border cities, in or around the refugee camps, many others have already dispersed to other cities. Among these cities, Istanbul has the largest Syrian community. Drawing on a qualitative field work in Istanbul’s neighborhoods, this study explores the Syrian migration to Istanbul and reports the attitudes towards this movement of the local neighborhood and village headmen, known as muhtars in the Turkish local administrative system. As the study shows, their attitudes towards forced Syrian migrants are paradoxical, marked both by feelings of disturbance, worry and uneasiness, and at the same time welcome and support. The study concludes by discussing historical and cultural reasons for these paradoxical attitudes by relating them to the understanding of hospitality in Turkish society to show how socio-psychological explanations of attitude formation towards Syria’s forced migrants seem more appropriate.
  • Topic: Migration, Regional Cooperation, United Nations, Diaspora, Refugees
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, Istanbul, Syria, Ankara
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Alternative Politics
  • Institution: Department of International Relations, Abant Izzet Baysal University, Turkey
  • Abstract: In 2015 the forced displacement of Syrians entered a new phase with the sharp rise in the numbers of refugees arriving at Europe’s shores mainly through the Eastern Mediterranean route. Grabbing widespread media and public attention, this unprecedent refugee influx and its surrounding events are commonly dubbed as ‘Europe’s refugee crisis’, which as some scholars highlight, is a ‘re-contextualised’ version of already existing processes of politicisation and mediatisation of immigration. This paper intends to contribute to the debate on ‘mediatisation of refugee crisis’ by giving an insight on the role of Turkish media in telling its readers what to think about the ‘refugee crisis’ during this period of particular significance. The paper relies on a content analysis of front-page articles from three Turkish newspapers (Birgün, Hürriyet and Yeni Akit) between July and November 2015. By limiting our analysis to ‘small data’, we look closely how these newspapers on different sides of the political spectrum react to the spread of the refugee crisis to Europe and its implications on Turkey. We highlight the type of coverage and the definition of issues in this particular media content. Overall, we find that the highly mediatised coverage of the Aylan Kurdi incident triggered a significant discursive shift as it has in other national contexts. While all the three newspapers –regardless of ideological stance– were responsive to the spread of the refugee crisis into Europe, news coverage about topics such as socio-economic vulnerabilities of refugees, issues of legal status and social integration in the domestic context was minimal within our period of analysis. We also assert that the way the three newspapers frame the ‘refugee crisis’ especially in relation to domestic or foreign politics shows significant variation. While we find that issues related to border security and border violations received the most intense coverage during the analysis period, we highlight that the coverage is embedded in a humanitarian narrative rather than a security narrative.
  • Topic: Migration, United Nations, Mass Media, Diaspora, European Union, Media, Refugee Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, Syria
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: H.E. Mohammed Baharoon Director General, b'huth LTG. (ret.) Michael Nagata Former director of Strategic Operational Planning, National Counterterrorism Center; Hanada Bridge, LLC Randa Slim Senior fellow and director, conflict resolution and Track II Dialogues, MEI Gonul Tol Director, Turkish studies, MEI Muna Shikaki, moderator Correspondent, Al Arabiya
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, International Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt
  • Author: Rafif Jouejati, Jomana Qaddour, Sarah Hunaidi, Charles Lister
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The Middle East Institute hosted a public event featuring a panel of influential Syrian women, focusing on the important role of women within Syrian civil society and in local and international initiatives aimed at shaping a better future for Syria. The panel focused particularly on the contributions made by women in Syria’s ongoing political processes, including the nascent Geneva negotiation track, as well as in the recently UN-convened Constitutional Committee.
  • Topic: Political Activism, Women, Syrian War, Peace, Justice
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Avner Gvaryahu, Daniel Seidemann, Celine Touboul, Bashar Azzeh
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: While some corners of Washington and the international community are waking up to the reality of Israel's de facto annexation of Palestinian land in the West Bank and recurrent crisis in Gaza, few policymakers understand how the policies that have created this brutal and often tedious reality look like on the ground. This panel of seasoned Israeli experts will untangle the mess of occupation and annexation facing Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, as well as the decisions required to address Gaza’s chronic problems.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Occupation, Annexation
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Jerusalem, Gaza, West Bank
  • Author: Dima Zayat, Serene Dardari, Mona Yacoubian
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: In recent months, refugees in Lebanon are facing a dismal climate of social polarization, opportunistic political rhetoric, and increasing hostility, with the demolition of some informal camp settlements, enhanced labor law restrictions, and widespread protests. Humanitarian programs must navigate tensions between host, Palestinian and Syrian refugee communities against the backdrop of Lebanon’s serious economic and environmental difficulties. The Middle East Institute (MEI) and Anera held a panel discussion of the many challenges facing Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Dima Zayat and Serene Dardari, two experts with years of experience in the humanitarian sector in Lebanon, were joined by discussant Mona Yacoubian to assess these challenges and explore potential avenues to address them. Randa Slim (MEI) moderated the discussion.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Labor Issues, Financial Crisis, Refugees, Economy, Protests, Xenophobia
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Nathan Stock, Khaled Elgindy, Muna Shikaki
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The Middle East Institute (MEI) hosted panel discussion surrounding the release of MEI scholar Nathan Stock's paper, "There Is No "Status Quo": Drivers of Violence in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict." In his paper, Stock examines surges of violence within the sociopolitical context of continued occupation, Israel’s unwillingness to recognize Palestinian statehood, and the absence of a strong, representative Palestinian leadership. The report highlights trends such as the Trump administration’s radical reduction of aid to Palestinians, the absence of a plan to elect a Palestinian leader to succeed President Abbas, and the tense political environment in Israel as worrying indicators of increased violence on the ground. Nathan Stock was joined in conversation with Khaled Elgindy (Brookings Institution) to explore the key themes of his paper and their relevance to policymaking. Muna Shikaki, correspondent for Al-Arabiya News Channel, moderated the conversation.
  • Topic: Elections, Occupation, Conflict, Violence, Development Aid
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Efe Baysal
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: Let us face it: we are in the midst of a catastrophe, a state of calamity unprecedented in human history. We are living in those scenarios that once depicted a terrible future due to “global warming”. Extreme weather events, not-so-natural disasters have become the new norm. Given the fact that more than half of the world’s population now live in urban areas, it is fair to say that these new climate norms pose an especially dire threat to cities.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Governance, Economy, Crisis Management, Urban
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Global Focus
  • Author: Bircan Polat
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: Following the March 31, 2019 local elections, the indebtedness of local governments has once again emerged as a subject of public debate in Turkey. Local government expenditures took center stage in these debates, yet much less attention has been paid to potential sources of revenue for local governments. Generation of internal sources of municipal revenue is no less important than the issue of expenditures as it pertains to the relative financial independence of municipalities from the central government. Among potential sources of municipal revenue, a significant one is taxation on urban (land) rent which occurs as a result of a few distinct processes: transformation of agricultural land into urban land due to population increase, migration, industrialization; zoning change that renders the property more valuable due to a number of potential factors such as greater proximity to parks, attractions, or highway systems.
  • Topic: Governance, Economy, Tax Systems, Public Sector, Urban
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Bertil Emrah Oder
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: The recently announced Judicial Reform Strategy was subject to public debate with a series of promises ranging from issuing green passports to lawyers as a privileged of visa exemptions to the introduction of an appeal process in criminal cases concerning the freedom of expression.1 The fundamental shortcoming of this new strategy and other reform efforts is the lack of a specific agenda on the representation of women professionals in the judiciary, especially in the leading positions including the apex courts. Policies on women’s representation in the judiciary remained “invisible” in recent reform efforts on judicial policies.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Law, Women, Inequality, Courts, Criminal Justice, Representation
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Sezai Ozan Zeybek
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: I aim to open to discussion one of the critical barriers to potentially transformative environmental policies. In response to challenging problems there are moves being carried out to save the day, to make it seem like the issue is already solved. These moves end up postponing the real solutions. This is a trap that not only municipalities, public institutions and companies, but even civil society falls into.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Climate Change, Environment, Governance, Democracy, Urban
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Hakkı Onur Arıner
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: Turkey’s Law on Foreigners and International Protection (LFIP) was adopted on 4 April 2013 by the Turkish Grand National Assembly. In the five years that has passed since the coming into force of the LFIP in its entirety, it appears that the LFIP has been made to adapt to the conditions of Turkey, rather than the other way around, due to the sheer unexpected size of the phenomenon of immigration into Turkey, and the challenges encountered in establishing the institutional capacity and the inter- institutional cooperation necessary to deal with the inflows as required by the Law.
  • Topic: Government, Human Rights, Migration, Refugee Issues, Law
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Zeynep Gülru Göker
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: A recent study published by TESEV shows that science and research is one of the areas with the lowest female participation in high level decision making.1 Among all 201 universities in Turkey, only 9% of the rectors, 10% of the vice rectors and 21% of the deans are women; and again, in Turkey, countrywide, 31% of the professors are women and 69% are men.2 This numerical inequality, as well as being a sign for a lot of other problems, is just the visible or easier-to-see tip of the iceberg. To talk about the obstacles women face in academia and the gender inequality in a wider sense, one must examine all written and non-written rules, practices and norms in every area of academic life, and establishing equality requires transformation in structural, institutional and individual levels. In this report, I will be talking about some of the obstacles women face climbing the career steps in academia and participating in high level decision making and the steps that have been taken and can be taken to ensure gender equality in academic life.
  • Topic: Education, Gender Issues, Women, Inequality
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Itır Akdoğan
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: In this report, we enquire into the issue of gender equality by investigating different sectors at once to offer recommendations for improvement. In this project, which is supported by the Swedish Consulate General in İstanbul, we first examine, in light of data gathered and disseminated by European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), the percentage of women high-level decision makers in Turkey’s politics, public administration, local government, civil society organizations, social partners, business, media, judiciary and education/science/research. We compare these rates in their historical transformation and with the rates of European Union countries, thus inspecting them in their wider quantitative context. Next, we conduct in-depth interviews with women (if not present, men) high-level decision makers in these areas to carry out a qualitative assessment of women’s participation in Turkey.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Gender Issues, Politics, Women, Inequality
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, European Union
  • Author: Enea Gjoza, Benjamin H. Friedman
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Defense Priorities
  • Abstract: The Yemeni Civil War is in its fourth year, and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and their allies are not close to a victory over the Houthi rebels.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Military Spending, Military Intervention, Peace
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Benjamin H. Friedman
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Defense Priorities
  • Abstract: The war in Afghanistan—now America’s longest at nearly 18 years—quickly achieved its initial aims: (1) to destroy the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization and (2) to punish the Taliban government that gave it haven. However, Washington extended the mission to a long and futile effort of building up the Afghan state to defeat the subsequent Taliban insurgency.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, War, Military Strategy, Peacekeeping, Military Affairs, Military Intervention
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Alan McPherson
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Strategic Visions
  • Institution: Center for the Study of Force and Diplomacy, Temple University
  • Abstract: Strategic Visions: Volume 18, Number II Contents News from the Director ................................2 Spring 2019 Colloquium.........................2 Spring 2019 Prizes...................................2 Diplomatic History...................................3 SHAFR Conference.................................4 Thanks to the Davis Fellow.......................4 Note from the Davis Fellow..........................5 Note from the Non-Resident Fellow...............6 News from the CENFAD Community............8 Spring 2019 Interviews...................................11 Erik Moore..............................................11 Eliga Gould Conducted by Taylor Christian..........13 Nancy Mitchell.......................................15 Book Reviews.................................................18 Jimmy Carter in Africa Review by Brandon Kinney................18 The Girl Next Door: Bringing the Home front to the Front Line Review by Ariel Natalo-Lifotn...........20 Armies of Sand: The Past, Present and Future of Arab Military Effectiveness Review by Brandon Kinney...............23 Jimmy Carter in Africa Review by Graydon Dennison...........25
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Gender Issues, Power Politics, Military Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Middle East, Global Focus
  • Author: Daniel Maxwell
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Feinstein International Center, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Attention to the growing number of people caught in crises characterized by extreme and often protracted levels of food insecurity, malnutrition, and mortality is increasing. The information systems that track these conditions and inform humanitarian decision-making have expanded substantially in the past two decades and in many cases have reached a degree of unprecedented sophistication. These famine early warning systems have become increasingly sophisticated in the past decade, but they still tend to be based on several assumptions that are important to understand. This paper briefly describes existing famine early warning systems and outlines some of the assumptions on which they are based— both in theory and in practice. Then it gives four brief case studies of recent famine or “famine-like” events and pieces together the formal analysis process with an attempt to reconstruct events on the ground from a conflict analysis perspective—highlighting the extent to which the formal famine analysis did or did not deal with conflict analyses and the political kryptonite around the discussion of “intent.” It closes with a summary of gaps in the current system and an assessment of the risks of trying to address those gaps through famine EWS or alternative means.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Humanitarian Aid, Food, Famine, Food Security, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Middle East, Yemen, North Africa, Ethiopia
  • Author: Daniel Maxwell, Peter Hailey, Lindsay Spainhour Baker, Jeeyon Janet Kim
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Feinstein International Center, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Since 2014, Yemen has been engaged in a civil war between the Houthi group and supporters of Yemen’s internationally recognized government. By the end of 2018, the UN estimated that 15.9 million people—more than half the population—were facing severe acute food insecurity and in need of immediate food assistance. This report analyzes the challenges facing famine analysis in Yemen, including the Famine Risk Monitoring system recently put in place, and the integrated Phase Classification (IPC) system, used globally. The IPC is managed by a technical working group with the support of the food security and nutrition clusters and close involvement of the Yemeni authorities. Following the analysis, the report offers recommendations for ways to improve data collection and analysis on famine and famine risk in Yemen.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, War, Food, Food Security, Refugees, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, North Africa
  • Author: Ofer Israeli
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: American Diplomacy
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: After a century of an American world order established by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson at the end of the First World War, we are facing a shift in Washington’s global attitude. President Trump’s approach to world affairs is different. Although Obama, and to some extent Bush before the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, was starting to withdraw from the U.S. historical position of key global superpower, President Trump’s approach to world affairs is a much more drastic acceleration of this move. Continuing in this direction means we may soon face a collapse of America’s century-long preeminence, and the creation of a new world order in which the U.S. is no longer leading the global power, but only first among sovereigns, if at all.
  • Topic: International Relations, Cold War, Government, World War I, World War II, Institutionalism
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Soviet Union, United States of America
  • Author: William A. Rugh
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: American Diplomacy
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: Despite the focus on the results of the Yemeni conflict, its underlying causes have not been very well understood. It is a complicated story but this essay seeks to highlight three important factors behind the current turmoil in Yemen that are often overlooked. First, the country has major domestic divisions that are the primary reasons for the conflict in the first place. Second, Saudi direct intervention in Yemen is nothing new and is motivated by Saudi leadership’s strong views about the country. Third, American policy toward Yemen has more to do with Saudi Arabia and the region than with Yemen itself.
  • Topic: Civil War, Cold War, Diplomacy, Politics, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Soviet Union, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Benjamin Tua
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: American Diplomacy
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: Efforts to portray Muslims and their faith as threatening diminish our society by stigmatizing a significant American minority. They also can facilitate costly foreign policy blunders such as the 2017 Executive Order banning entry into the US of visitors from several Middle Eastern majority-Muslim countries, an order purportedly based on terrorist activity, technical hurdles to properly document these countries’ travelers, and poor coordination with US officials. Two recent books, “Mohammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires” and “What the Qur’an Meant: And Why it Matters,” take on the task of broadening Americans’ still unacceptably low understanding of Islam. The authors – Juan Cole, a professor of history at the University of Michigan, and Garry Wills, a Pulitzer Prize winning lay scholar of American Catholicism – approach their subject in distinctly different manners. Yet, their message and conclusions are remarkably similar – namely, that ignorance of and distortions of Islam and what the Quran says both alienate vast numbers of Muslims and have led to foreign policy missteps. The books complement each other nicely.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, Peace Studies, Religion, Judaism, Islamophobia, Xenophobia
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Ukraine, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Soviet Union, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Alon Ben-Meir
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: American Diplomacy
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: The EU is in a unique position to prevent the outbreak of a war between Israel and Iran that could engulf the Middle East in a war that no one can win.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Civil War, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, United States of America
  • Author: Ophir Falk
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: American Diplomacy
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: Today, after years of modern terrorism and counterterrorism, the international community still does not agree on a single definition of terrorism. Despite the daily threats posed to many states, the definition conundrum prevents an agreed classification that could better facilitate the fight against terrorism and thwart the public legitimacy that most terrorist organizations seek. When a problem is accurately and acceptably defined, it should be easier to solve. Terrorism is an overly used term often heard in different discourses and contexts. It is used by the general public and in the course of academic, political, and legal debates, not to mention constantly referenced in the media. It may not be feasible to verse one universal definition for all discourses, but the term’s key criteria can and should be agreed upon.
  • Topic: International Law, Politics, Terrorism, Military Affairs, Violence, Hezbollah, White Supremacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Haviland Smith
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: American Diplomacy
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: It is clear that there are powerful people both in the United States and in Iran who would like to force a real confrontation between our two countries. What is completely unclear is whether or not those hawks on both sides want a modified Cold War type confrontation, built perhaps on cyber warfare, or an all-out military confrontation. What this situation, with all its incredibly profound dangers and possible disastrous outcomes, has done is once again prompt the question, “what is the United States doing in the Middle East and what precisely are our goals there?”
  • Topic: Cold War, Islam, Religion, Terrorism, Minorities, Ethnicity
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Edward Marks
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: American Diplomacy
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: The Trump Administration Middle East Plan appears to call for a Palestinian “Bantustan” (maybe two with Gaza) and legally enforced separation of communities based on ethnic grounds. It is difficult to believe that this resurrection from the discredited past could be acceptable to anyone but its authors, who appear to be completely oblivious to the history of South Africa. That includes Netanyahu, who has obviously been fully engaged in the plan’s development. However the plan will be unacceptable to everyone else, including Saudi Arabia and other Arab governments who have been flirting with Israel and the US in an informal anti-Iranian alliance. The plan would certainly exacerbate – if that is possible – the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians. The Kushner Plan would be like throwing oil on a fire; it will end badly for everyone concerned.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Apartheid, Development, Diplomacy, Economic growth
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, North America, United States of America, West Bank, Golan Heights
  • Author: Vânia Carvalho Pinto
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Contexto Internacional
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro
  • Abstract: That societies should be gender-equal is a prevailing normative ideal to which states at the very least pay lip service. The UAE as a highly globalised state that aspires to a superior status has not stood outside of these dynamics. Whereas in the decades since independence in 1971 women’s rights were emphasised as a sign of the country’s progress, nowadays, the UAE government portrays women’s rights as being advanced to such an extent that they are setting up a new gender empowerment benchmark for the Middle Eastern region. Additionally, the UAE has also proclaimed the goal of becoming one of the top 25 gender-equal states in the world by 2021. I suggest that these official proclamations are indicative of a signalling strategy whose aim is to advocate to an international audience that the UAE deserves a status higher than it currently holds. Based on Larson and Svechenko’s interpretation of social identity theory, I claim that the UAE’s strategy is one of social creativity. It rests on creating a new value – the Emirati standard of gender equality – within the Arab group. The former is operationalised through, on the one hand, ‘teaching to the test’ tactics in the area of women’s political participation, a field that can be easily regulated by the government. And on the other, on overemphasising the professional deeds of a small group of high-achieving women. In the latter case, as the numbers of females in employment are rather low, the government elects to call attention to women in specific and unconventional positions so as to lend greater credence to the existence of their own superior standard of gender equality within the Arab region.
  • Topic: International Relations, Gender Issues, Women, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: Amr Hamzawy
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Brown Journal of World Affairs
  • Abstract: The current Egyptian political scene reveals an important paradox: since its ascendancy to power in 2013, the military-led authoritarian government has not faced significant challenges from civil society despite systematic hu- man rights abuses and continuous societal crises. Apart from limited protests by labor activists, student movements, and members of syndicates, Egyptians have mostly refrained from protesting, instead hoping that the government will improve their living conditions despite a rising poverty rate of 33 percent, an inflation rate between 11 and 12 percent, and unemployment at eight percent. This popular reluctance to challenge the authoritarian government has continued to shape Egypt’s reality since the collapse of the short-lived democratization process from 2011–2013.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Democracy, Rule of Law, Protests, Dictatorship
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Dana Moss
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Brown Journal of World Affairs
  • Abstract: Transnational social movements play a critical role in the fight against authoritarianism, and a growing field of diaspora studies shows that exiles, émigrés, emigrants, and refugees are especially well positioned to undermine dictatorships from abroad. Given their cross-border ties, diasporas often mobilize against abuses taking place in their homelands, move aid to war zones and refugee camps, and fuel revolutionary social change. Exiles who gain the right to protest and lobby in their places of settlement can also become powerful players in international relations. Iraqi expatriate Ahmed Chalabi, who helped to justify the United States-led invasion of Iraq by fabricating evidence of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, is just one example of how influential exiles can be when exacting revenge on the autocrats who abused them.
  • Topic: Diaspora, Authoritarianism, Democracy, Protests
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Pamela Moss, Michael J. Prince
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Berghahn Books
  • Abstract: As seen in military documents, medical journals, novels, films, television shows, and memoirs, soldiers’ invisible wounds are not innate cracks in individual psyches that break under the stress of war. Instead, the generation of weary warriors is caught up in wider social and political networks and institutions—families, activist groups, government bureaucracies, welfare state programs—mediated through a military hierarchy, psychiatry rooted in mind-body sciences, and various cultural constructs of masculinity. This book offers a history of military psychiatry from the American Civil War to the latest Afghanistan conflict. The authors trace the effects of power and knowledge in relation to the emotional and psychological trauma that shapes soldiers’ bodies, minds, and souls, developing an extensive account of the emergence, diagnosis, and treatment of soldiers’ invisible wounds.
  • Topic: Military Affairs, Psychology, Trauma, Masculinity , PTSD
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Europe, Middle East, Vietnam
  • Author: Steven C. Dinero
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Berghahn Books
  • Abstract: The resettlement of the Negev Bedouin (Israel) has been wrought with controversy since its inception in the 1960s. Presenting evidence from a two-decade period, the author addresses how the changes that took place over the past sixty to seventy years have served the needs and interests of the State rather than those of Bedouin community at large. While town living fostered improvements in social and economic development, numerous unintended consequences jeopardized the success of this planning initiative. As a result, the Bedouin community endured excessive hardship and rapid change, abandoning its nomadic lifestyle and traditions in response to the economic, political, and social pressure from the State—and received very little in return.
  • Topic: Development, United Nations, Anthropology, Repression
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Richard Youngs, Gareth Fowler, Arthur Larok, Pawel Marczewski, Vijayan Mj, Ghia Nodia, Natalia Shapoavlova, Janjira Sombatpoonsiri, Marisa Von Bülow, Özge Zihnioğlu
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: As the domain of civil society burgeoned in the 1990s and early 2000s—a crucial component of the global spread of democracy in the developing and postcommunist worlds—many transnational and domestic actors involved in building and supporting this expanding civil society assumed that the sector was naturally animated by organizations mobilizing for progressive causes. Some organizations focused on the needs of underrepresented groups, such as women’s empowerment, inclusion of minorities, and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights; others addressed broader societal issues such as economic justice, social welfare, and antipoverty concerns. In many countries, the term “civil society” came to be associated with a relatively bounded set of organizations associated with a common agenda, one separate from or even actively opposed by conservative political forces. However, in the past ten years, this assumption and outlook are proving increasingly incorrect. In many countries in the developing and postcommunist worlds, as well as in long-established Western democracies, conservative forms of civic activism have been multiplying and gaining traction. In some cases, new conservative civic movements and groups are closely associated with illiberal political actors and appear to be an integral part of the well-chronicled global pushback against Western liberal democratic norms. In other cases, the political alliances and implications of conservative civil society are less clear. In almost all cases—other than perhaps that of the United States, where the rise of conservative activism has been the subject of considerable study—this rising world of conservative civil society has been little studied and often overlooked. This report seeks to correct this oversight and to probe more deeply into the rise of conservative civil society around the world. It does so under the rubric of Carnegie’s Civic Research Network project, an initiative that aims to explore new types of civic activism and examine the extent to which these activists and associations are redrawing the contours of global civil society. The emerging role and prominence of conservative activism is one such change to civil society that merits comparative examination. Taken as a whole, the report asks what conservative civic activism portends for global civil society. Its aim is not primarily to pass judgment on whether conservative civil society is a good or bad thing—although the contributing authors obviously have criticisms to make. Rather, it seeks mainly to understand more fully what this trend entails. Much has been written and said about anticapitalist, human rights, and global justice civil society campaigns and protests. Similar analytical depth is required in the study of conservative civil society. The report redresses the lack of analytical attention paid to the current rise of conservative civil society by offering examples of such movements and the issues that drive them. The authors examine the common traits that conservative groups share and the issues that divide them. They look at the kind of members that these groups attract and the tactics and tools they employ. And they ask how effective the emerging conservative civil society has been in reshaping the political agenda.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Politics, Political Activism, Conservatism
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa, Europe, South Asia, Turkey, Ukraine, Caucasus, Middle East, India, Poland, Brazil, South America, Georgia, North America, Thailand, Southeast Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Edward P. Djerejian, Marwan Muasher, Nathan Brown, Samih Al-Abid, Tariq Dana, Dahlia Scheindlin, Gilead Sher, Khalil Shikaki
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The Israeli and Palestinian communities are growing ever closer physically while remaining separated politically. Any solution must adequately address the needs of both sides. This report attempts to look at actualities and trends with a fresh and analytical eye. At first glance, the two halves of this report contain two very different views of a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: one presents the case for a two-state solution, the other suggests that it is time to look at the idea of a single state with all its variations. But the two halves do not differ on the facts of the current situation. Nor do they differ much on the trajectory. The same facts can be used to support two different conclusions: Do we need new ideas or new determination and political will behind previous ones? The two chapters also highlight an important political reality: any solution must adequately address the needs of both sides. Imposed solutions will not work. The section authored by the Baker Institute does not deny that a one-state reality is emerging and the two-state solution is in trouble, but it argues that the two-state solution should not be abandoned as it provides the most coherent framework for a democratic Israeli state living in peace and security next to an independent and sovereign Palestinian state. Carnegie’s section recognizes that a one-state reality is emerging, whether desirable or not, and calls for scrutinizing solutions that take this reality into account instead of wishing it away. At a time when ideas to solve the conflict are being speculated about without much context, this report attempts to objectively analyze and present the two major options for a negotiated peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians and to explain the consequences of both for the parties involved and the international community. It is our hope that it will serve as not only a reminder of past efforts but also an incubator for future ones.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes, Conflict, Negotiation, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Maha Yahya, Jean Kassir, Khalil El-Hariri
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: As the Syrian regime regains territory, there have been growing calls in neighboring countries for refugees to go home. Yet refugees have conditions for a return—conditions that political efforts to resolve the Syrian conflict have largely ignored. To understand refugee attitudes toward return, the Carnegie Middle East Center listened to the concerns of Syrians—both male and female, young and old—struggling to build meaningful lives in Lebanon and Jordan. What is most striking is that despite the increasingly difficult challenges they face, a majority are unwilling to go back unless a political transition can assure their safety and security, access to justice, and right of return to areas of origin. Economic opportunity and adequate housing are important but not requirements. Above all, their attitudes make it clear that both a sustainable political settlement and a mass, voluntary return are contingent upon international peace processes that account for refugee voices.
  • Topic: Security, Refugee Crisis, Conflict, Syrian War, Peace, Justice, Transition
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The United States, its allies, and international organizations are just beginning to come to grips with the civil dimensions of "failed state" wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, the Sudans, Syria, and Yemen. In each case, it is clear that the civil dimension of the war will ultimately be as important as the military one. Any meaningful form of "victory" requires far more than defeating the current extremist threat in military terms, and reaching some temporary compromise between the major factions that divide the country. The current insurgent and other security threats exist largely because of the deep divisions within the state, the past and current failures of the government to deal with such internal divisions, and the chronic failure to meet the economic, security, and social needs of much of the nation's population. In practical terms, these failures make a given host government, other contending factions, and competing outside powers as much of a threat to each nation’s stability and future as Islamic extremists and other hostile forces. Regardless of the scale of any defeat of extremists, the other internal tensions and divisions with each country also threaten to make any such “victory” a prelude to new forms of civil war, and/or an enduring failure to cope with security, stability, recovery, and development. Any real form of victory requires a different approach to stability operations and civil-military affairs. In each case, the country the U.S. is seeking to aid failed to make the necessary economic progress and reforms to meet the needs of its people – and sharply growing population – long before the fighting began. The growth of these problems over a period of decades helped trigger the sectarian, ethnic, and other divisions that made such states vulnerable to extremism and civil conflict, and made it impossible for the government to respond effectively to crises and wars.
  • Topic: Security, War, Fragile/Failed State, ISIS, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Africa, United States, Iraq, Middle East, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sundan
  • Author: Melissa Dalton
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: 2017 marked a significant shift in the two wars in Syria. Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Coalition forces drove ISIS from its self-proclaimed caliphate capital in Raqqa, across northern Syria, and down the Euphrates River Valley. Meanwhile, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, backed by Russia and Iran, secured key population areas and strategic locations in the center and coast, and stretched to the eastern border to facilitate logistics and communications for Iranian-backed militias. In both wars, Syrian civilians have lost profoundly. They also have shown incredible resilience. Still, the outcome of both wars is inconclusive. Although major areas have been cleared of ISIS, SDF and Coalition forces are fighting the bitter remnants of ISIS in the Middle Euphrates River Valley. Enduring security in ISIS-cleared areas now depends on governance and restoration of services. Turkey’s intervention into Syrian Kurdish-controlled Afrin risks pulling the sympathetic Kurdish components of the SDF away from the counterterrorism and stabilization efforts in Syria’s east in order to fight Turkey, a U.S. ally. With a rumbling Sunni insurgency in pockets of Syria’s heartland, Assad and his supporters continue to pummel Eastern Ghouta outside Damascus and threaten Idlib. They are unleashing both conventional and chemical weapons on the remnants of Syrian opposition fighters and indiscriminately targeting civilians. The Trump administration now is attempting to connect the outcome of these two wars. The Obama administration tried similarly but ultimately prioritized the counter-ISIS mission. The drivers of the Syrian civil war and the ISIS war are rooted in the same problem: bad governance. Thus, a sensible resolution of both wars must address Syria’s governance. However, squaring U.S. policy goals with current operations and resources the United States has employed in Syria will require a degree of calibration, stitching together several lines of effort, and committing additional U.S. and international resources. Orchestrating this level of U.S. effort has proven elusive over the last six years.
  • Topic: Civil War, Violent Extremism, ISIS, Civilians
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Daniel F. Runde, Romina Bandura
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) is a small independent federal agency whose mission is to help American “companies create U.S. jobs through the export of U.S. goods and services for priority development projects in emerging economies.” USTDA links American businesses to export opportunities in emerging markets by funding activities such as project preparation and partnership building in sectors including transportation, energy, and telecommunications. Since it was established 25 years ago, the agency has generated a total of $61 billion in U.S. exports and supported over 500,000 American jobs. In connecting American business to such opportunities, USTDA also links American technology’s best practices and ingenuity with U.S. trade and development policy priorities. USTDA is an instrument to enable American-led infrastructure development in emerging economies and, therefore, frequently sees increasing competition from government-backed Chinese firms and the challenge they can pose to American commercial engagement under the flag of One Belt, One Road (OBOR). OBOR is paving the way for Chinese engineering, procurement, and construction companies to prepare and develop infrastructure projects in OBOR countries in a way that favors Chinese standards, thereby exerting significant pressure to select Chinese suppliers. This creates a potentially vicious cycle—the more China builds, the faster their standards become the international norm, and, ultimately, this cycle could foreclose export opportunities for U.S. businesses and harm American competitiveness in global infrastructure development. U.S. exporters are increasingly requesting USTDA intervention at the pivotal, early stages of a project’s development, to compete in markets, such as the OBOR countries, where they frequently face Chinese competition. Of note, 40 percent of USTDA’s activities in 2016 were in OBOR countries across South and Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Although there are other agencies that may seem to do work similar to USTDA, there are various aspects that make it a unique agency. This paper provides a brief description of USTDA, its origin and evolution, the impact on the U.S. economy and its proactive collaboration across U.S agencies. Finally, it offers a set of recommendations for USTDA on how to improve its operations and strengthen its role in the developing world.
  • Topic: Development, Energy Policy, Communications, Infrastructure, Trade, Transportation
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Middle East, Asia, North America
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The U.S. has learned many lessons in its wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria—most of them the hard way. It has had to adapt the strategies, tactics, and force structures designed to fight regular wars to conflicts dominated by non-state actors. It has had to deal with threats shaped by ideological extremism far more radical than the communist movements it struggled against in countries like Vietnam. It has found that the kind of “Revolution in Military Affairs,” or RMA, that helped the U.S. deter and encourage the collapses of the former Soviet Union does not win such conflicts against non-state actors, and that it faces a different mix of threats in each such war—such as in cases like Libya, Yemen, Somalia and a number of states in West Africa. The U.S. does have other strategic priorities: competition with China and Russia, and direct military threats from states like Iran and North Korea. At the same time, the U.S. is still seeking to find some form of stable civil solution to the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria—as well as the conflicts Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and West Africa. Reporting by the UN, IMF, and World Bank also shows that the mix of demographic, political governance, and economic forces that created the extremist threats the U.S. and its strategic partners are now fighting have increased in much of the entire developing world since the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001, and the political upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa in 2011. The Burke Chair at CSIS has prepared a working paper that suggests the U.S. needs to build on the military lessons it has learned from its "long wars" in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries in order to carry out a new and different kind of “Revolution in Civil-Military Affairs,” or RCMA. This revolution involves very different kinds of warfighting and military efforts from the RMA. The U.S. must take full advantage of what it is learning about the need for different kinds of train and assist missions, the use of airpower, strategic communications, and ideological warfare. At the same time, the U.S. must integrate these military efforts with new civilian efforts that address the rise of extremist ideologies and internal civil conflicts. It must accept the reality that it is fighting "failed state" wars, where population pressures and unemployment, ethnic and sectarian differences, critical problems in politics and governance, and failures to meet basic economic needs are a key element of the conflict. In these elements of conflict, progress must be made in wartime to achieve any kind of victory, and that progress must continue if any stable form of resolution is to be successful.
  • Topic: Civil Society, United Nations, Military Strategy, Governance, Military Affairs, Developing World
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Iraq, Middle East, West Africa, Somalia, Sundan
  • Author: Jon B. Alterman
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: n 2014, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) embarked on a bold experiment: It began drafting young men into the military. This move was not only a departure for the Emirates, it was a departure from world trends. Governments have been moving away from national service requirements for decades as military missions have changed and governments have sought to create highly skilled all-volunteer armies. But the UAE move to press young men into military service was meant to build the country, not just the army. Several factors contributed to the decision to adopt conscription. One was a deeply unsettled regional environment. Another was a drive to promote a stronger sense of shared Emirati identity. A third was a growing fear that young Emirati men were becoming lazy and “soft” just as the government eyed an increasing imperative to shape its workforce for a world less centered on oil. A fourth consideration was the UAE’s resolve to blunt the forces that contributed to the Arab uprisings in 2011. Staring down all of these factors, the UAE leadership decided a bold intervention was needed. The leadership constructed a program combining intensive physical fitness training with military training, national education, and character education. It did not only reach 18 year-olds. Everyone 30 years of age and younger is required to register, pulling men from their jobs and families to live with their peers in barracks, perform predawn calisthenics, and clean toilets. Those lacking the fitness for military training—nearly one in five—are not exempted, but rather are trained for civilian roles in vital sectors. The UAE drew from careful studies of other national service programs around the world—especially in Finland, Singapore, and South Korea—and had indirect knowledge of Israel’s program. Compared to these countries, the UAE has made innovations in its approach to citizenship education, workforce development, and public health. Women can volunteer, but fewer than 850 have done so, compared to 50,000 male conscripts. Women are cast largely in a supportive role as relatives of conscripts.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Women, Citizenship, Services
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Persian Gulf, UAE
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The shifts in Saudi Arabia's power structure that have taken place since King Salman came to power in January 2015 have created a new set of Saudi priorities for shaping Saudi Arabia's future. These new priorities have led to major changes in Saudi Arabia’s national security structure and leadership, and to calls for major social and economic reform. They have changed the leadership of the Saudi Ministry of Interior, National Guard, and Foreign Ministry. These new priorities have led to participation in a major war in Yemen, efforts to isolate Qatar that have broken up an already weak and divided Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and deeper tensions with Iran over its military build-up and efforts to expand its regional influence. Most of the earlier changes at top levels of the Saudi government and security structure were motivated by new King's desire to consolidate power at the top of the government and royal family. In the process they have made Mohammed bin Salman bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (normally referred to as Mohammed bin Salman or “MBS”) the Crown Prince, First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, and President of the Council for Economic and Development Affair – combining the responsibilities for Saudi Arabia’s security, civil sector, and economic development to one man. The more recent changes to the Saudi national security sector and military command made in February 2018 are harder to interpret. There is no way­­—as of yet— to put the changes in the Saudi national security sector and military command structure into perspective. One can speculate that these changes were either a further effort to assert control by a new regime, or part of a serious effort by the Crown Prince to improve Saudi military planning, budgeting & fiscal management, and military operations. Mohammed bin Salman may have been reacting to the lack of progress in the war in Yemen, Saudi tensions with Qatar, and MBS's feelings that too much of the Kingdom's security spending has been wasteful, poorly planned, and involved some element of corruption. Speculation aside, there are no credible reports that provide a reliable "inside" picture of what is happening. What is clear, however, is that the Kingdom has been spending far too large a portion of its economy on security priorities that have yielded uncertain results. This spending on security is large enough to compete with Saudi Arabia's ability to fund its 2030 plan to reform and modernize its economy and social structure. Saudi Arabia must better balance its civil and national security spending by reducing its security spending and using its resources far more effectively.
  • Topic: National Security, Military Strategy, Budget, Leadership, Military Spending
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Persian Gulf
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Few recent American foreign policy decisions have been as divisive as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear arms control agreement with Iran. Advocates of the agreement have focused far too exclusively on its potential benefits. Opponents equally exclusively on its potential faults. Both sides tend to forget that any feasible arms control agreement between what are hostile sides tends to be a set of compromises that are an extension of arms races and potential conflicts by other means. As a result, imperfect agreements with uncertain results are the rule, not the exception. President Trump has made it clear that he opposes the agreement and would like to terminate it. His dismissal of Rex Tillerson as Security of State, and his replacement by Mike Pompeo – along with his dismissal of General H.R. McMaster and replacement with John Bolton – indicate that President Trump may well seek to terminate the agreement in the near future – action which might or might not have significant bipartisan support. He faces a May 5th to decide whether to again waive economic sanction against Iran, a decision which comes up for renewal every 120 days.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Deterrence, JCPOA
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Gurmeet Kanwai
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Issue The development of Gwadar Port is a key element of the greater China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It speaks to both the strength of the China-Pakistan relationship and the reach of China’s grand strategy. With Pakistan’s two other major ports operating near capacity with no room for expansion, projects in Gwadar promise to eventually handle one million tons of cargo annually, while also providing significant industrial, oil, and transportation infrastructure. Though a “monument of Pakistan-China friendship,” there are misgivings on both sides about CPEC, including the safety of Chinese workers, the resentment of Baloch nationalists, and the growing debt trap created by the project. The prospect of the PLA Navy in Gwadar poses greater security questions, as it forms another link in China’s efforts to expand its maritime presence in the Indo-Pacific region. The members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or “Quad,” comprised of India, Japan, Australia, and the United States, should counter China’s strategic outreach by networking with other like-minded countries on cooperative security frameworks to ensure a free, open, prosperous, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
  • Topic: Security, Oil, Regional Cooperation, Global Political Economy, Trade
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, Japan, China, Middle East, India, Asia, Australia
  • Author: Seth G. Jones
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: With President Donald Trump threatening to pull out of Syria, the Bashar al-Assad regime ramping up its military campaign against rebels, and the Islamic State in decline, al Qaeda has attempted to resurge and reposition itself at the center of global Salafi-jihadist activity. Syria has been perhaps its most important prize. For some, al Qaeda’s cunning and concerted efforts in Syria and other countries highlight the group’s resilience and indicate its potential to resurge and rejuvenate. Yet a growing body of evidence suggests that al Qaeda has largely failed to take advantage of the Syrian war. Confusion and finger-pointing have been rampant as individuals have clashed over ideology, territorial control, personalities, loyalty to al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, and command-and-control relationships. Al Qaeda’s struggles in Syria have also highlighted some weaknesses of al-Zawahiri. The al Qaeda leader has had difficulty communicating with local groups in Syria, been slow to respond to debates in the field, and discovered that some Salafi-jihadist fighters have brazenly disobeyed his guidance. As one Salafi-jihadist leader remarked, “The situation in Syria for the jihad is extremely dire.”
  • Topic: Terrorism, Violent Extremism, Al Qaeda
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Nicholas Harrington
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Middle East has long been one of the most unstable regions in the world, and there are no present prospects for change in the near future. This instability is the result of ongoing conflicts and tensions, and a variety of political tensions and divisions. It also, however, is the result of a wide variety of long-term pressures growing out of poor governance, corruption, economic failures, demographic pressures and other forces within the civil sector.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Governance, Political stability, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Seth G. Jones
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Issue Some U.S. policymakers have argued that the United States should withdraw its military forces from Syria. But the United States has several interests in Syria: Balancing against Iran, including deterring Iranian forces and militias from pushing close to the Israeli border, disrupting Iranian lines of communication through Syria, preventing substantial military escalation between Israel and Iran, and weakening Shia proxy forces. Balancing against Russia, including deterring further Russian expansion in the Middle East from Syrian territory and raising the costs—including political costs—of Russian operations in Syria. Preventing a terrorist resurgence, including targeting Salafi-jihadist groups like the Islamic State and al Qaeda that threaten the United States and its allies. Our Recommendations: Based on U.S. interests in Syria, Washington should establish a containment strategy that includes the following components: Retain a small military and intelligence footprint that includes working with—and providing limited training, funding, and equipment to—groups in eastern, northern, and southern Syria, such as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Coordinate with regional allies such as Jordan and Israel to balance against Iran and Russia and to prevent the resurgence of Salafi-jihadists. Pressure outside states to end support to Salafi-jihadists, including Turkey and several Gulf states. As the war in Syria moves into its seventh year, U.S. policymakers have struggled to agree on a clear Syria strategy. Some U.S. policymakers have argued that the United States needs to withdraw its military forces from Syria. “I want to get out,” President Trump said of the United States’ military engagement in Syria. “I want to bring our troops back home.”1 Others have urged caution, warning that a precipitous withdrawal could contribute to a resurgence of terrorism or allow U.S. competitors like Iran and Russia—along with their proxies—to fill the vacuum.2 In addition, some administration officials have argued that the Islamic State has been decimated in Syria and Iraq. The National Security Strategy notes that “we crushed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorists on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq.”3 But between 5,000 and 12,000 Islamic State fighters remain in Syria and continue to conduct guerrilla attacks, along with between 40,000 and 70,000 Salafi-jihadist fighters in Syria overall.4
  • Topic: Civil War, Terrorism, Military Strategy, Military Intervention
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Author: Jon B. Alterman, Heather A Conley, Donatienne Ray
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: U.S. strategy in the Eastern Mediterranean is long overdue for revision. Policies, priorities, and activities girded by U.S.-led alliance structures were developed to stabilize Europe and deter Soviet aggression at the dawn of the Cold War. Seventy years later, they are no longer fit for purpose. However, the region remains a linchpin for an array of vital U.S. interests. In the last decade alone, regional conflicts and state fragmentation have caused millions of migrants and internally displaced to flee their homes, creating one of the largest migration crises since World War II. The arrival of an unprecedented number of migrants has triggered political backlash and polarized domestic politics in Europe and in the Eastern Mediterranean. Many of the littoral states in the Eastern Mediterranean have faced destabilizing economic crises that have created deep political and strategic vulnerabilities. Significant natural gas deposits discovered off the coasts of Israel, Cyprus, and Egypt could boost regional economic prospects as a potential energy-producing region, but a divided Cyprus, historical animosities, as well as a lack of infrastructure connectivity hinder this regional economic potential.
  • Topic: Imperialism, Military Strategy, Infrastructure, Fragile/Failed State, Military Intervention, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Middle East, Israel, Egypt, Cyprus, Mediterranean
  • Author: Anthony H Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Iraqi election in May 2018 has both highlighted Iraq's political uncertainties and the security challenges the United States now faces in Iraq and the Middle East. What initially appeared to be a relative honest election gradually emerged to have involved massive potential fraud, and forced a manual recount of the results of a failed electronic voting system. Its results have cast Iraq's ability to form an effective post-ISIS government into serious doubt, along with its ability to carry our follow-up provincial and local elections in October. At the same time, even the initial results of the election raised serious concerns over the level of future U.S. confrontation with Iran. The United States faced grave uncertainties regarding Iran's influence in Iraq even when it seemed that Iraq's existing Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, was likely to win the election. The election's uncertain results, and U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA nuclear agreement, now virtually ensure that a far more intense struggle for influence will take place in Iraq and the rest of the region.
  • Topic: Elections, Democracy, ISIS, Election watch, JCPOA
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Seth G. Jones
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Issue: Hezbollah and Iran have accumulated a substantial amount of weapons and fighters in Syria that pose a threat to the United States and its allies in the region. In response, Israel has conducted a growing number of strikes against Iranian, Hezbollah and other targets in Syria. An escalating war has the potential to cause significant economic damage, lead to high numbers of civilian casualties and internally displaced persons, and involve more countries in the region than did the 2006 Lebanon War. The stakes are high, making it critical for Washington to help prevent such an escalation.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Violent Extremism, Syrian War, Hezbollah
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Author: Shaan Shaikh, Ian Williams
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Hezbollah is a Lebanese political party and militant group with close ties to Iran and Syria’s Assad regime. It is the world’s most heavily armed non-state actor—aptly described as “a militia trained like an army and equipped like a state.”1 This is especially true with regard to its missile and rocket forces, which Hezbollah has arrayed against Israel in vast quantities. The party’s arsenal is comprised primarily of small, man-portable, unguided artillery rockets. Although these devices lack precision, their sheer number make them effective weapons of terror. According to Israeli sources, Hezbollah held around 15,000 rockets and missiles on the eve of the 2006 Lebanon War, firing nearly 4,000 at Israel over the 34-day conflict. Hezbollah has since expanded its rocket force, today estimated at 130,000 rounds.2 Hezbollah asserts that its rocket forces are primarily for deterrence—a means to retaliate against Israel in the event of conflict. In May 2006, Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah explained “The purpose of our rockets is to deter Israel from attacking Lebanese civilians…The enemy fears that every time he confronts us, whenever there are victims in our ranks among Lebanese civilians, this will lead to a counter-barrage of our rockets, which he fears.”3 Indiscriminate rocket fire, particularly from small, easily transportable launchers makes the suppression of fire with airpower more challenging. This forces Israel to rely more heavily on ground forces in a conflict. Lacking any air force of its own, Hezbollah prefers ground wars in its own territory to bombardment from the skies. As Human Rights Watch notes, however, none of these arguments justifies targeting civilians under international law.4 The continued growth of Hezbollah’s missile and rocket forces is undesirable for several reasons. It may, for example, embolden the party to overstep Israeli red lines. Hezbollah’s push to acquire longer-ranged and precision-guided munitions could likewise spur Israel into preemptive action. Hezbollah’s weapons acquisition also raises the prospects for the proliferation of missile technology and know-how. According to Saudi and UAE officials, Hezbollah militants have worked with their Houthi forces in rocket development and launch divisions in Yemen.5 Hezbollah forces in Syria and Iraq similarly operate with various Shiite militias. Growing relations among these groups presents risks for the dissemination of missile technology and knowledge. The following is a summary compilation of Hezbollah’s missile and rocket arsenal. It is limited by the availability of public source information and does not cover certain topics such as rocket strategies, evolution, or storage locations. This brief instead focuses on the acquisition history, capabilities, and use of these forces.
  • Topic: Non State Actors, Violent Extremism, Missile Defense, Hezbollah
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon
  • Author: Sarah Ladislaw, Frank A. Verrastro
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: On May 8, President Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear agreement endorsed by Iran, the United States, France, Germany, China, Russia, and the United Kingdom. Concurrent with that action, Section 1245 of the National Defense Authorization Act of FY 2012 (NDAA) was reactivated, along with other U.S. sanctions under the Iran Freedom and Counter-proliferation Act (IFCA), the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA), and the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (ITRSHRA). Departments and agencies are implementing these sanctions with 90-day and 180-day wind down periods, after which time the applicable sanctions come back into full effect.1 Since May, administration officials from several agencies have been travelling around the world to explain the rationale for the decision to pull out of the JCPOA and persuade countries to comply with the sanctions program. Earlier this week (following the end of the first 90-day wind down period), the administration announced that on August 7 sanctions would be reimposed on: Iran’s automotive sector; Activities related to the issuance of sovereign debt; Transactions related to the Iranian rial; Iran’s trade in gold and other precious metals; Graphite, aluminum, steel, coal, and software used in industrial processes; The acquisition of U.S. bank notes by the government of Iran.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Sanctions, JCPOA
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Melissa Dalton
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton assemble their own senior Middle East teams, a number of U.S. interests hang in the balance in Syria: the enduring defeat of ISIS and al-Qaeda in the Levant; the vulnerability of neighboring Iraq to extremist disruption; the return of Syrian refugees; the mitigation of Iranian influence; the need to both compete and cooperate with Russia to end the civil war; and the security of regional partners and allies. U.S. values are also at stake: the conflict has precipitated a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions, with over 500,000 civilians dead and 12 million displaced. The U.S. ability to shape high-level outcomes in Syria is limited. Russia and Iran have outmaneuvered the United States there. With their backing, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is extending his control throughout Syrian territory—most recently via an offensive on southwestern Syria, previously the site of a “de-escalation zone” agreed between the United States, Russia, and Jordan, precipitating immense civilian displacement. Assad’s consolidation of extremists in Idlib amongst civilians raises the specter of another slaughter like Aleppo in 2016. The UN-backed Geneva process is moribund, though still worth supporting, while the United States has limited influence in the Astana and Sochi processes, which are also demonstrating limited returns. More broadly, Assad is already also brutally shaping the facts on the ground regarding “reconstruction” through forcible movement of populations, demographic engineering, constricting property rights, and predatory governance that favors loyalists. In his meeting with President Putin, President Trump reportedly discussed Syria, although there was no official joint summary of the summit. The discussion may have included options for drawing down U.S. forces in Syria in exchange for Russia convincing Iran to minimize its presence in Syria. However, Russia lacks the will and leverage over Iran to fulfill such a bargain. The national picture is bleak. Zooming into the Syrian map more closely, one subnational enclave currently outside of Assad’s control has taken some steps towards stability. Eastern Syria still offers leverage to salvage a marginally but meaningfully better outcome for U.S. interests and the Syrian population. In the weeks ahead, the United States should: take stock of the sources of leverage in eastern Syria; articulate its goal for translating these sources of leverage into a defined political endstate; develop this stated goal into a broader stabilization operational framework; and then execute “the art of deal” in developing a burden-sharing plan to support these objectives.
  • Topic: Civil War, Fragile/Failed State, Al Qaeda, Refugees, ISIS, Displacement
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The report draws on a wide range of official sources and is designed to provide an overview of official reporting on major trends rather than make an independent analysis. The U.S. provides a vast amount of detail on its annual budget request for military and international affairs spending – much of it in graphic, tabular, and summary form. The material presented here is an attempt to pick the key materials to show where the U.S. is focusing its military spending, how it relates to its strategy, how major force improvements will affect U.S. capabilities, and how the U.S. is dealing with its strategic partners and potential threats. However, the user should be aware that much of the material presented is often uncertain and is not comparable from source to source. There also is no easy or single way to summarize the trends in the U.S. defense budget. The materials that go into just the unclassified portions of the Department of Defense’s annual submission of President’s budget request to Congress, and the subsequent Congressional review of that request, run well over several thousand pages. It is also critical for the reader to understand that only the portion of the report dealing with the National Defense Authorization Act (pages 24-43) represents the final result of Congressional action and the FY2019 budget signed by the President, and not all of the portions of reference action by the key Committees involved were approved in exactly the form shown in the final bill signed by the President. Much of the material is drawn from sources that precede the final Congressional markup because the Department never updates most of the tables and charts in the Department of Defense request until the following year and new budget submission. The material presented also shows that different sources define total defense spending in different ways, and include different expenditures and convert current to constant dollars in different ways. More importantly, most sources report in terms of “Budget Authority” (BA) – the total money the Congress authorizes in a given Fiscal Year that can be spent over a period of years. This is the best estimate of what the Congress is actually approving. However, some sources in terms of “Budget Outlays” (BO) – only the money that can be spent in 12-month period of that U.S. Fiscal Year. (Which begins on 1 October of the year the Congress acts upon, and ends on 30 September of the following year). This is the best way of assessing the impact of spending on how well the budget is balanced, the size of the deficit, and impact on the federal debt. Budget projections for future years present other problems. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) provides detailed estimates of how the President’s budget request – and the final budgets the Congress authorizes – will impact over time. Many such estimates precede Congressional action on the budget, and it then takes several months for the CBO to estimate the probable future trends in the total federal budget and impact of the final Congressionally approved levels of U.S. defense spending on that total federal budget and the U.S. GDP. This often creates major lags in official estimates of the trends in every aspect of federal spending, the budget deficit, and the national debt. More broadly, the Department of Defense has effectively abandoned any serious effort to create a program budget, and to provide a realistic estimate of the cost of the Future Year Defense Program beyond the fiscal year directly under review. It essentially rolls forward current activities and plans to make estimates of the next four years that are based on the spending levels in the budget year under review. It bases such estimates largely on input categories such as personnel, O&M, RDT&E, and procurement. The Department of Defense does not report expenditures by major mission or command. The Department defines “strategy” largely in terms of broad concepts and goals. It does not tie its “strategy” to net assessments of the balance in terms of threats and strategic partners, to specific force plans, to specific actions and schedules, to specific costs, or to measures of success and effectiveness. Unclassified reporting in “PPB” – or planning, programming, and budgeting– form has become a functional oxymoron. The Congress does hold strategy hearings and directs studies of key strategic issues, but these efforts rarely address any of the practical details of any aspect of the nature and cost of U.S. strategy. Similarly, the outyear estimates of military spending by the Department of Defense, OMB, and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) focus on a “baseline” that assumes the United States does not actually use its military forces in any operational form. The limited estimates provided for future Overseas Contingency Operations are “placeholders” and not actual estimates. This is partly inevitable given the inability to predict the future, but it creates a practical problem in a country whose civil plans call for major future increases in mandatory spending on retirement, medical case, and welfare. This means the official U.S. projections of civil spending rise relative to military spending in ways history indicates will be highly unrealistic.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Budget
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, North America
  • Author: Andi Zhou, Sam Kanson-Benanav, Collin Smith, Yi Xu, Amn Nasir, Sameer Anwar, Saim Rashid, Muqueet Shahzad, Lauren Eades, William O'Connell, Caper Gooden, Paige KW Gasser, Laurie Georges, Seleeke Flingai, Erika Parks
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Woodrow Wilson School Journal of Public and International Affairs
  • Institution: Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
  • Abstract: These are critical times for those who work to further the public interest. Across the globe, divisions and distrust erode the clarity required to tackle the great challenges of our day. Those who advocate for truth find themselves under attack from those who fear what they might lose if the status quo is changed. There is exceptional need today for powerful voices speaking on behalf of sound policy. The 10 articles in this 29th edition of the Journal of Public and International Affairs all reflect a dogged determination among young policy professionals around the world to press ahead in spite of the headwinds. These pages contain fresh ideas on electrifying rural Myanmar, reforming the U.S. banking system, strengthening the Jordanian labor market, and preventing recidivism among convicted sex offenders in Texas, to name just a few. The JPIA was born from the conviction that graduate students have a unique and invaluable voice in key policy debates. The authors of these articles, together with the 45 editors from 13 graduate programs around the world who selected and reviewed them, will shape the future of economic, international, domestic, and development policy in the decades to come. We strive continually, especially at this moment, to amplify their voices.
  • Topic: Development, International Cooperation, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, International Affairs, Bilateral Relations, Labor Issues, Business , Mental Health, Accountability, Public Sector, Hezbollah, Services, Electricity, Pollution, Waste
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Africa, South Asia, Middle East, Canada, Brazil, South America, Central America, Lebanon, Mozambique, North America, Mexico, Jordan, Southeast Asia, Myanmar, United States of America
  • Author: Geoffrey P. Macdonald, Luke Waggoner
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The October suicide bombing in the heart of Tunis demonstrated the continued need for Tunisia’s government to refine and bolster its efforts to combat violent extremism. Yet, instability within the ruling coalition threatens to undermine much-needed reforms to Tunisia’s countering violent extremism (CVE) and counterterrorism (CT) strategies, which fail to address the underlying drivers of radicalization. The public’s rising expectations for economic and social progress following Tunisia’s 2011 revolution, which deposed Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s authoritarian government, have not been met. This has fostered disillusionment regarding democracy’s efficacy and has fed the rise of anti-establishment ideologies such as Islamic extremism. Only a stable governing coalition can develop CVE/CT polices that more effectively obstruct the path to radicalization and redress the persistent governance failures that inspire violent extremism.
  • Topic: Government, Reform, Violent Extremism, Arab Spring
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Lauren Mooney
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Autocrats are making a comeback. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent reelection, and the preceding repression of journalists and dissenters, is a prime example of this resurgence and sheds light on the playbook that many aspiring autocrats follow today. Erdoğan and other autocratic leaders voted into power through democratic means are part of a new breed of dictators—ones who swiftly dismantle the democratic system of checks and balances and the separation of powers designed precisely to prevent tyranny. The resulting system is an electoral autocracy—a system that retains the vestiges of democracy, but looks and acts like a traditional dictatorship. And this democratic erosion is ascending in prevalence—from 2000 to 2010, it accounted for 40 percent of all democratic failures. Personalist rule—a distinct mold of autocracy in which power is concentrated in the hands of one individual, sometimes referred to as strongman leaders—is also on the rise. Today, 40 percent of all autocracies are ruled by strongmen.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Authoritarianism, Democracy, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: David Coghlan
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Unless Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is found to have personally ordered Khashoggi’s execution, his position is secure.
  • Topic: Crime, Authoritarianism, News Analysis, Journalism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Lana Baydas
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in July 2017. In December 2017, he announced that a joint effort between the Iraqi government and Kurdish forces, supported by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, had liberated all Iraqi territory from ISIS. The 2017 operations in Mosul, Tel Afar, and Hawija marked the formal end of a bleak era for swaths of the Iraqi populace after being subjected to the horrors of ISIS rule.
  • Topic: Crime, Human Rights, Islamic State, Conflict, Accountability
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Douglas Barrie, Howard Gethin
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: In September 2015, the Russian military, predominantly though not exclusively through the use of air power, intervened in Syria’s civil war. Moscow’s aim appears to have been to bolster the Bashar al-Assad regime with even a comparatively modest Russian force, to allow it to prevail against the disparate array for opposition forces reined against the Baath administration. As 2017 drew to a close this appeared to be paying off, with the Syrian regime in an increasingly strong position, and the Russian political and military leadership effectively proclaiming success and the end of substantive hostilities. Russia’s credibility as an ally has been enhanced in the region and beyond.
  • Topic: Civil War, Imperialism, Military Strategy, Weapons
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Kevin Koehler
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: Since the 2016 Warsaw Summit, the notion of projecting stability has made a return to NATO’s policy discourse. A central tenet of this agenda is the idea of securing the Alliance by stabilizing its periphery: “If our neighbours are more stable, we are more secure”, says the Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. At the core of this approach is therefore an attempt at shaping the security environment in NATO’s neighbourhood, relying to a significant extent on partnership with individual countries and other international organizations. But how does projecting stability work in practice? Can NATO develop a type of small-footprint, large-effect interaction with partners in its periphery? How can potential interest asymmetries between NATO and partners be addressed in this context? The new NATO
  • Topic: NATO, Imperialism, Regional Cooperation, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, North Atlantic, Middle East, North America
  • Author: Rodger Shanahan
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Terrorists have manipulated the humanitarian crisis in Syria to create a cover for foreign fighters and to raise funds for terrorist groups under the guise of charitable donations. While terrorist abuse of charitable donations is a limited problem, even small amounts of funding can have disproportionately large effects. Early government intervention in setting due diligence standards for humanitarian aid groups operating in, or raising funds for use in, high-risk conflict zones is essential. The Australian Government should use the ‘declared area’ legislation more widely to raise the risk threshold for those seeking to use humanitarian assistance as cover for supporting terrorist causes overseas.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Conflict, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Australia, Syria
  • Author: Mason Hill
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This is the second in a three part series on Turkish constitutionalism one year after the 2017 constitutional referendum. At Erdoğan’s election in 2002, he appeared to be the latest in a line of populists elected to office. Initially, his success seemed the result of an ability as an Islamist to appease the concerns of the secular establishment. This was bolstered by his stated commitment to Turkey’s accession to the European Union. While in the 1990s Islamist reformers failed to pass institutional reforms aimed at decreasing military control of Turkish politics, the military allowed Erdoğan the space to pursue institutional reform that would enhance Turkey’s chances of becoming a member of the European Union. This attempt by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to reimagine Turkish democracy for the 21st century took the form of a general push for constitutional reform.
  • Topic: Politics, Governance, Law, Elections, Constitution, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Coup
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Mason Hill
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This is the first in a three part series on Turkish constitutionalism one year after the 2017 constitutional referendum. Constitutions are nations’ mission statements, and articulate pre-political commitments that turn residents into citizens, and borders into a nation. In Turkey, generations of political leaders have used constitutional reform as an opportunity to set their political agenda and highlight their priorities. The 2017 referendum must be understood in the context of a democracy where voters have experienced successive constitutional reforms aimed at complementing the mission each new generation of leaders gives itself. A view of modern Turkish history reveals the tendency of leaders to use constitutional reform to address deficiencies in their respective administrations, and reflects the latent tension between populism, military intervention, and constitutional integrity.
  • Topic: Politics, History, Law, Reform, Constitution
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Mason Hill
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This is the third in a three part series on Turkish constitutionalism one year after the 2017 constitutional referendum. the 2017 Constitutional Referendum have only entrenched that reality. Erdogan’s dominance in Turkish politics should not obscure the fact that the individual office holder rather than an ideologically-grounded bloc is now the fulcrum upon which Turkish politics shifts. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) that came to power promising reform, religious pluralism and market-friendly economic policies has become a vehicle for Erdoğan’s personal ambition. After the Gezi Park protests and amid allegations of his son’s corruption, Erdogan became an increasingly polarizing personality in Turkish politics who weighed down the AKP brand in the 2015 parliamentary elections. Yet Erdoğan’s popularity returned during the pivotal moment of the 2016 coup attempt, when he appeared in a live interview with a reporter via Facetime. By the time 2017 referendum campaign, Erdoğan personally rather than AKP parliamentarians was the medium around which responses were polarized. The extension of Erdoğan’s personal control over the levers of power was particularly apparent in the referendum’s changes to the structure of the legislative and judicial branches of the Turkish government, granting legal justification to Erdoğan’s de facto force of personality regime. Developments over the past year have made clear that Turks are increasingly casting votes for and against candidates rather than parties.
  • Topic: Politics, Elections, Constitution, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Coup
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Arega Hovsepyan
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: After the attempted coup d’état of 15 July 2016, discussion inside expert circles about the construction of a “new” Turkey took on a new urgency. The result of the 2017 constitutional referendum remade Turkey’s political institutions, but the events of the 2016 coup attempt also catalyzed changes to the symbolism of the state. The ruling Justice and Development Party, whose slogans had long promised “a new Turkey,” was at the forefront of the surge in hardened messaging. The cornerstone of this “new Turkey” is а classical concentration of political power in the hands of one person, specifically President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Kemalism, Turkey’s founding ideology, is in the process of being replaced by the new ideology of the new president. Although it is still early to characterise this new ideology in Turkey as “Erdoğanism”, the similarities and contradictions of Kemalism and Erdoğanism lend insight on the structure of Turkish politics. The era of Erdoğan has been unleashed in Turkey, and moreover, its eponym is eager to not only replace the personality cult of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, but also to surpass the historic founder’s titanic image.
  • Topic: Politics, History, Authoritarianism, Ideology, Coup
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: James Aird
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Five months after Iraq’s May 2018 parliamentary elections, rival political blocs have broken deadlock and are set to form a new government. On October 2nd, the Iraqi parliament selected Barham Salih, a career politician from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), for the Iraqi presidency. Shortly after his election, Salih named Adil Abdul Mahdi, Iraq’s former oil minister, as prime minister. Iraqis and international observers applauded the selection of these politicians who have eschewed sectarian rhetoric as a victory for political compromise, but Salih and Abdul Mahdi face the challenge of answering popular calls for government reform after a summer marked by violent protests.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Politics, Water, Elections, Employment, Protests, State
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Deniz Çıtak
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: On January 20, 2018 at 17:00 local time, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) entered Afrin, a city in northern Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan named the military operation “Operation Olive Branch” (Zeytin Dalı Harekâtı) for the region’s many olive trees. According to Turkey, the operation does not violate international law because the operation was against the PYD and YPG as an act of self-defense, aiming to guarantee the security of Turkey’s borders. For Turkey, the links between the PKK and Syrian Kurdish groups classify Kurdish activity in northern Syria as a threat to Turkey’s domestic security.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Military Intervention, Conflict, Syrian War, Kurds
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: John Millock
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: ISIL recruited children through a variety of means, including abducting children from orphanages and hospitals, or offering to pay parents hundreds of dollars a month in exchange for each child’s attendance at military training. Additionally, child soldiers were often taken from particular ethnic groups or religious communities, such as Yazidis and Christians, as a means to terrorize these groups. Since the territorial collapse of ISIL began in 2017, many of these child soldiers have defected; some fled ISIL territory and are living anonymously in Europe while others returned to their home countries. Debates about how national legal systems should handle these former child soldiers have arisen in all of these jurisdictions. In Iraq, which has dealt with a particularly large number of former ISIL child soldiers, there have been concerns about the national justice system’s capacity to adequately address the prosecution and rehabilitation of ISIL’s former child soldiers.
  • Topic: United Nations, Law, Children, Violent Extremism, Islamic State, Transitional Justice, Conflict, Criminal Justice
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Adham Sahloul
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: The murder of Saudi Arabian columnist Jamal Khashoggi on October 2nd in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul has been a clarion call for the Washington foreign policy community, one that is redefining the United States’ relations with the Saudi Kingdom and, by extension, US strategy in the Middle East. The Khashoggi affair will outlive President Donald Trump; the reputation of Saudi’s leadership is beyond repair, and with Global Magnitsky sanctions and the newly proposed bipartisan Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act, the US Congress appears ready to act where the executive has fallen short. The CIA has concluded that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) ordered Khashoggi’s murder. Trump, who has threatened “severe consequences” for whomever is found responsible, seemed over the past month to be looking for a way out of naming, shaming, and punishing MbS himself. In his statement on November 20th, Trump confirmed many observers’ worst fears about this president’s worst instincts, saying that US security, economic, and political interests transcend this incident. For a sitting US president to balk at the notion of holding an ally accountable and making even a symbolic effort to address such a gruesome crime with clear chains of responsibility constitutes a new low in US foreign policy
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Crime, Human Rights, Politics, Trump, Journalism, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, North America, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Fridtjof Falk
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: On November 5th, 2018, the Trump administration re-imposed severe sanctions on Iran. These sanctions, which President Obama called the “toughest sanctions ever faced by the Iranian government,” were lifted by the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran Deal. The JCPOA was signed with a view to blocking Iran’s alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons, allowing international inspectors into Iran in return for sanctions relief. Withdrawing the United States (US) from the deal was a prominent promise of Donald Trump leading up to the presidential elections of 2016. In a May 2018 speech that described the deal as rooted in “fiction,” President Trump made good on his promise to leave the JCPOA and to move to unilaterally re-impose sanctions on Iran.
  • Topic: International Relations, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Sanctions, Nuclear Power, Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Nicholas Norberg
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: In the backdrop of negotiations over drafting Syria’s new constitution and a transition in UN representation on Syria, the conflict in Idlib continues to simmer. Unrest in Idlib and dissatisfaction there with the internationally-recognized opposition, the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), leaves residents of Syria’s northwest excluded from constitutional committee. This is significant because the constitutional convention is increasingly viewed as a precondition for advancing the larger peace process. The constitutional committee is no place to hammer out granular differences between warring factions in Idlib, but the course of events there hold significant implications for the future of the broader peace process.
  • Topic: Peace Studies, Conflict, Syrian War, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, United Nations, Syria, Idlib
  • Author: Karim Makdisi
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: This paper asserts that the Arab–Israeli conflict, and in particular the question of Palestine, has been the major issue of regional concern across the Middle East for over a century. It claims that the failure to resolve the question of Palestine will continue to impact on the region’s stability and its geopolitical dynamics and to shape popular opinion while limiting Arab leaders’ options. It first situates the Arab–Israeli conflict as a core regional issue in historical context – which is crucial for understanding where we are today – before critically reviewing the Oslo “peace process” and its failure to deliver a just and sustainable peace within the framework of a “two-state solution”. It suggests that this failure has resulted in the ramping up of lingering regional problems (e.g. southern Lebanon, the Golan Heights, refugees and in Palestine itself) and the rise of new challenges and frameworks (e.g. the Resistance Axis and the BDS movement). It concludes that the time has come for the international community – including the European Union, which has contributed to the failure of the two-state solution – to consider alternative paradigms and actions.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Refugees, Syrian War, Negotiation, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Maria Saide Liperi, Asli Selin Okyay
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: On 6 December 2018, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Rome (FES) and Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) co-organized the conference “External Borders and Internal Divisions of Europe: Policies and Politics of Migration” to foster debate on European migration and asylum governance by approaching it both as a policy issue and a political question. While the scale of migratory flows is no longer the main problem, countries at the Southern external borders continue facing different policy challenges. The lack of political will and continuing tensions among the member states stand out as the main obstacles blocking substantial policy reform at the European level. This context also provides fertile ground for further polarization of the political debate between the two extreme positions of open versus closed borders, highlighting the need for more balanced and neutral narratives on migration in the run up to the European elections. Report of the conference “External Borders and Internal Division of Europe: Policies and Politics of Migration”, organized in Rome on 6 December 2018 by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Rome and Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI).
  • Topic: Migration, Politics, Refugees, Borders, Institutions
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Greece, Balkans, Spain, Italy, Mediterranean, European Union
  • Author: Robin Mills
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Despite its dominance as the world’s key exporting region of hydrocarbons, energy connectivity within the Middle East, in the form of cross-border oil and gas pipelines, electricity grids and related institutions, is lagging. There has been limited progress in the Eastern Mediterranean area and with Turkey. But so far unfavourable commercial conditions, persisting subsidies, and regional political suspicions and disputes, have hampered progress. Key changes in the world energy market – a period of lower oil prices, with the expansion of US shale production, the globalisation of natural gas trade, the rise of renewable energy, and growing action on climate change – should encourage more intra-regional links. To realise the prize of 25 billion to more than 100 billion US dollars of savings available from greater energy trade, regional states will have to liberalise energy markets, establish multilateral institutional frameworks, and make the most of support from international energy corporations and influential political players, notably the US, China, EU and Russia. Paper prepared in the framework of the IAI-Eni Strategic Partnership, December 2018.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, International Trade and Finance, Natural Resources, Regional Integration
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Cornelius Adebahr
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Europe and Iran had begun to invest in a closer commercial relationship just when the United States withdrew from the nuclear deal in May 2018. Since then, Washington has re-imposed its stringent economic sanctions, targeting Iran’s oil exports as a major source of government revenue but also banning financial transactions with the country. This poses an enormous challenge for the EU, which had intended to use the 2015 agreement as a stepping stone to promote regional cooperation and, ultimately, a more comprehensive relationship with Iran. Paper produced in the framework of the IAI-FEPS project entitled “Europe and Iran in a fast-changing Middle East: Confidence-building measures, security dialogue and regional cooperation”, December 2018.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations, Sanctions, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America, European Union
  • Author: Karim Makdisi
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Refugee movements are not a new phenomenon in the Middle East and North Africa. The history of the region has been shaped by waves of displacement and refugee crises, and the most recent, the dramatic case of Syria, is still in process. This paper investigates refugee movements in the region and their impact on regional dynamics by focusing on two important case studies: Lebanon and Turkey. It explores each country’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis in detail, while addressing the role of relevant stakeholders, such as international organizations, civil society and government, in humanitarian relief efforts as well as in refugee protection and management.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Migration, Refugees, Syrian War, Mobility
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Lebanon, Syria, European Union
  • Author: Danielle Pletka
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In connection with an assessment of AEI’s work on the Middle East over the past two decades, I drafted the following survey. The arc of our scholarship in this critical region is fascinating and illuminates the continuity and evolution of the challenges the United States faces in the Middle East. What is ultimately clear is that in the region both the challenge of destructive ideas and the fostering of better ones will shape outcomes.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Houssem Ben Lazreg, Phil Gursky
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Islamic State (IS) has demonstrated unprecedented capabilities in attracting foreign fighters, particularly from Western countries. Between 2011 and 2015, Western foreign fighters coming from North America, Europe, and Australia traveled to Iraq and Syria in order to join IS and the Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Al-Nusra. As IS has been significantly weakened, authorities in many western countries are increasingly worried that returning fighters will come back to their home countries radicalized, battle hardened, and eager to commit terrorist attacks. This concern is clearly manifested in Phil Gursky’s book cover which features a striking image of a Belgian returnee from Syria, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who has been named by security officials as one of the architects of the attacks in Paris in 2015. ​ In Western Foreign Fighters: The Threat to Homeland and International Security, Phil Gursky, a former analyst at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, elaborates on the phenomenon of ‘Western Foreign Fighters.’ This book aims at addressing two fundamental issues: “why people leave their homeland to join terrorist groups?” and “do they pose a threat upon their prospective return?”[1] To answer those questions, Gurski relies not only on a detailed analysis of the excerpts and statements by the fighters recently engaged in violent extremism at home and overseas, but also on accounts that delineate historical parallels and differences with previous conflicts sharing similar dynamics. ​ Gurski divides his analysis into eight substantive chapters, an appendix, a glossary and a suggested reading list, using accessible, non-academic prose. He conducts the majority of his historical analysis in chapter three. His discussion of western volunteers—mainly Canadians and Americans—and their involvement in previous conflicts such as the Spanish Civil War and the Boers Wars provides informative and engaging insights, mostly for a general readership.[2] It also sets the stage for shedding light on why Westerners join terrorist groups like IS, and what threat they pose to homeland/international security. Obviously, these issues will be of most interest to intelligence officers, policy makers, scholars, and practitioners...
  • Topic: Terrorism, International Security, Violent Extremism, Islamic State, Homeland Security, Book Review
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Middle East, Syria, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Carole Nakhle
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: The Middle East has several features that distinguish it from the rest of the world. Apart from sitting on the largest proven oil and gas reserves, the region is famous for its complicated politics, challenging demographics and fragile economic structures. ​ For oil- and gas-rich states, limited economic diversification is acute; this is where we find government dependence on hydrocarbon revenues reaching as high as 95 percent in countries like Iraq. This is also where we find a poorly diversified primary energy mix, which is heavily reliant on oil and gas, in a sharp contrast to the norm elsewhere where local energy needs are met by diverse sources of energy, mainly oil, gas, coal, nuclear, and renewable energy. ​ The lack of diversification – both in terms of the economy and energy mix – brings serious challenges for the region. The economic performance of the oil- and gas-rich states has simply mimicked the volatile and unpredictable movement in oil prices: when oil prices are high, these economies grow rapidly, but when oil prices go in the other direction, they shrink in tandem. Additionally, the dependence on oil and gas to meet local energy needs has caused two problems: first, the trade-off between the more lucrative exports and the highly subsidized domestic market, and second, the higher carbon footprint because of the absence of greener sources of energy. ​ In a world where international competition for global market share in oil and gas and the fight against climate change intensify, the region’s leaders seem to be increasingly convinced that the old model of governance is simply not sustainable...
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, International Trade and Finance, Oil, Governance, Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Global Focus, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Robert Hamilton
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: U.S. Army Colonel Robert E. Hamilton is a Black Sea Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and is a professor in the Department of National Security and Strategy at the U.S. Army War College. He has served as a strategic war planner and country desk officer at U.S. Central Command, as the Chief of Regional Engage- ment for Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan, and as the Chief of the Office of Defense Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Georgia and as the Deputy Chief of the Security Assistance Office at the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan. Colonel Hamilton was a U.S. Army War College fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, where he authored several articles on the war between Russia and Georgia and the security situation in the former Soviet Union. Colonel Hamilton holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of Virginia. Colonel Robert Hamilton spoke with The Fletcher Security Review in early November 2017 at Fletcher’s Religion, Law and Diplomacy Conference. The following conversation is an excerpt from their extensive interview.
  • Topic: Security, Conflict, Syrian War, Identities, Interview
  • Political Geography: Bosnia, Middle East, Syria, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ryamizard Ryacudu, V. Arianti, Alberto Ballesteros
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The November issue features three articles highlighting the need for flexible and adaptive counter-terrorism frameworks. In the digital age, rigid and bureaucratic models of counter-terrorism slow the pace of Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE) interventions while giving an edge to violent extremist groups. As such, contemporary counter-terrorism policies should focus on gendered-specific roles, qualitative changes in terrorist-landscapes of different conflict theatres and evolving tactics by violent-extremist groups. In the lead article, Ryamizard Ryacudu underscores the need for intelligence sharing, coordination and joint counter-terrorism frameworks in Southeast Asia to overcome the ever-changing threat of terrorism. The author notes that Southeast Asian threat landscape has evolved in two waves: Al-Qaeda-centric and Islamic State-centric phases. The current landscape which comprises of the third generation of Islamist militants is decentralised and necessitates collaborative efforts by security agencies to prevent violence. As such, adopting the Our Eyes Initiative (OEI) in October 2018 will facilitate strategic information exchange among ASEAN Member States on terrorism, radicalism and violent-extremism as a template to create more regional platforms. As terrorists operate, train and grow with networks transcending geographical boundaries networked efforts by the nation-states at the regional level are critical to defeat terrorism. V. Arianti examines the participation of children and their parents, in a wave of terrorist attacks in Surabaya in May 2018. The author notes that due to the institutionalised indoctrination of children by groups affiliated with the Islamic State (IS), participation of children could become a trend in Indonesia’s militant landscape. As many as 101 children from Indonesia have been trained by IS as ‘cubs of caliphate’ in Iraq in 2017. The author has examined the schooling of children in five Jamaah Ansharud Daulah (JAD) operated madrassas (also known as Pesantren) in South Java, South Sumatra and Central Sulawesi. These schools promote and inculcate a pro-IS ideology while providing employment to pro-IS individuals as teachers and administrators. The current anti-terror laws and other legal frameworks in Indonesia do not address the indoctrination of extremism towards children. Notwithstanding the significantly low number of pro-IS madrassas in Indonesia, the author highlights the need for joint government and civil society intervention to curb the pro-IS indoctrination. Lastly, Alberto Ballesteros explores structural and ideological differences between Euskadi Ta Askatasuna’s (ETA) nationalist-separatist terrorism and IS-inspired Islamist militancy in Spain. The author argues that the counter-terrorism strategy which defeated ETA is outdated in the present struggle against Islamist extremism. The author notes that Islamist militant groups’ focus on Spain is due to the country’s history of being ruled by Muslims (then known as Al-Andalus), Western/un-Islamic values and participation in international military campaigns against Al-Qaeda and IS. There is a need for holistic counter-terrorism approaches to deal with the challenges of Islamist extremism in Spain. Spanish authorities have relied extensively on intelligence gathering, sharing and coordination, border security and other law-enforcement related measures. However, more focus on social integration and trust-building between the mainstream and marginalised communities is necessary.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Political stability, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Middle East, Spain, North Africa, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Rohan Gunaratna, Muhammad Haniff Hassan, Patrick Blannin, Zohreh Vakilpour, Behnam Rastegari
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The October issue observes different dynamics of responses to terrorism, in terms of observing case studies, deconstructing methods and improving mechanisms to deal with the evolving threat. The articles focus on key aspects of counter-terrorism – through transnational cooperation and specifically interoperability, countering violent extremism – through counter-ideology and rehabilitation. Overall, while there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to fight terrorism, there is a need to holistically incorporate diverse approaches that both counter terrorism and counter violent extremism in order to witness tangible and measurable gains. In the lead article, Rohan Gunaratna discusses the circumstances surrounding the death of Bahrun Naim, the effects on the threat landscape in Indonesia and lessons for effective counter-terrorism. Bahrun Naim’s links to the Islamic State (IS) and ability to radicalise and recruit supporters in Southeast Asia until his death, while operating from Syria, highlights the success of social media propaganda and outreach. The article also focuses on his recruitment tactics and network base that enabled him to plan multiple terrorist attacks, highlighting the need for long-term collaboration, cooperation and information sharing between security agencies within and beyond the Southeast Asian region. Next, Patrick Blannin discusses cooperation within the Indo-Pacific region as a key aspect of counter-terrorism efforts. The author puts forward the concept of interoperability, in which two or more states act in a coordinated manner to address a common problem. This will facilitate the translation of policy-making rhetoric into operational responses to security threats. It is argued that improved interoperability will enhance regional counter-terrorism cooperation at the strategic and tactical levels. Muhammad Haniff Hassan delves into the counter-ideology domain and attempts to refute IS’ claims on jihad as a personal obligation where the consent of parents is not necessary. The author analyses the IS’ argument and counters it with the historical story of Uwais Al-Qarni, who did not participate in jihad or migrate to Medina because he was taking care of his sick mother. The author contends that use of historical Islamic examples can assist in countering IS’ extremist arguments that are intended to reduce barriers to engaging in violence. This story can then also be useful in countering the extremist thoughts of groups such as Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). Lastly, Zohreh Vakilpour and Behnam Rastegari focus on the need for a rehabilitation programme in Iran for terrorists, specifically with the rise of the Islamist extremist threat since 2017. The authors state that while Iran has a rehabilitation programme for non-terrorist offenders, it remains limited in terms of legislation on its methods, scope and implementation. This requires improving the existing rehabilitation programme while using the relatively successful rehabilitation programmes for terrorists in countries such as Singapore and Sri Lanka as models for Iran.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Violent Extremism, Counter-terrorism, Islamic State, Political stability, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Iran, South Asia, Middle East, Sri Lanka, North Africa, Syria, Singapore, Southeast Asia, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: C. Nna-Emeka Okereke, Syed Huzaifah Bin Othman Alkaff, Abdul Basit
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The continuing terrorist attacks in the West and different parts of Asia and Africa underscore the resilience, adaptability and regenerative nature of the prevailing global terrorist threat. With these attacks, the contours of the post-IS threat environment are now becoming increasing clear. It entails four major issues: a decentralised threat landscape, the challenge of returning foreign fighters from Iraq and Syria, the emergence of new IS hotspots in the Philippines, Afghanistan and parts of Africa, and cyber radicalisation. This requires continued vigilance, collaborative responses and sharing of best practices between security institutions and intelligentsia. In the context of continuing terrorist threat, the massacre of over 500 civilians in Eastern Ghouta in Syria by the Bashar Al-Assad regime is concerning for several reasons. The brutal use of violence will continue to fuel jihadist recruitment, strengthen the extremist narrative and create space for IS-linked and other militant groups to survive. Whether it is Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan, the absence of conflict stabilisation has undermined counter-terrorism efforts in these war-torn territories. The imagery of civilian killings in Ghouta plays right into the hands of groups like Al-Qaeda and IS as these groups continue to be the by-products of anarchy and lawlessness in active conflict zones. Against this backdrop, the first article by Abdul Basit explores the urban footprint of pro-IS jihadists in South Asia. The author observes that the dissemination of IS ideology of Jihadi-Takfiri-Salafism has galvanised a new generation of South Asia jihadists, which is narrowly sectarian, brutally violent and tech savvy. This pro-IS generation of jihadists uses various social media platforms for propaganda dissemination, recruitment and operational planning. In recent months, they have moved from open-end to encrypted social media applications. This development coupled with their segregated cell-formations makes their detection challenging. In conclusion, the author suggests that in addition to robust social media monitoring capabilities and operational preparedness, various South Asia governments would also require robust counter-ideological responses to overcome and neutralise IS appeal in this generation of South Asia jihadists. Highlighting the threat from social media, Syed Huzaifah Bin Othman Alkaff examines the trajectory of online radicalisation of a young Filipino girl, whose quest to atone herself from a ‘sinful’ past life exposed her to IS-recruiters online. The recruiters encouraged her to undertake the so-called ‘hijra’, after which she emerged as the head of IS’ female wing in Marawi (Mindanao, Phillipines). Syed highlights the need for a proactive approach by the governments and mainstream Islamic scholars to impart correct interpretations of key Islamic concepts such as jihad, caliphate, hijra and takfir to Muslim youth. It is argued that these efforts will circumvent the exploitation of these concepts by violent-extremist groups. Departing from the discussion on Islamist terrorist groups, this issue carries an article by C. Nna-Emeka Okereke focusing on the dynamics of the current indigenous Anglophone (English-speaking population) crisis in Cameroon and the escalating violence between the community in the northwest and southwest and the government. The Anglophone community is resentful towards what is perceived to be their marginalisation and the erosion of their unique identity as a result of various government actions relating to issues such as the creation of a centralised state from a two-state federation, and status of the English language. A segment of the Anglophone community has resorted to violence to address its grievances, conducting arson attacks and bombings targeting schools, government and security personnel. The instability has resulted in the displacement of thousands of refugees into Nigeria and poses security challenges to the country as it goes into the Presidential elections, and to the entire Lake Chad Basin.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Islamic State, Political stability, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, South Asia, Middle East, East Asia, Philippines, North Africa, Syria, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Rohan Gunaratna, Iftekharul Bashar, Syed Huzaifah Bin Othman Alkaff, Remy Mahzam, Nodirbek Soliev
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The global terrorism threat has become decentralised, unpredictable, hard-to-detect and resilient with regenerative capacities. The global jihadist movements, principally the so-called Islamic State (IS) and Al-Qaeda, have glocalised to exploit indigenous grievances, recruit aspiring jihadists and fight for local and global causes. Overall, both IS and Al-Qaeda have become underground terror networks which will allow them to sustain themselves for longer and perpetrate more violent attacks. With a radical Islamist jihadist ideology, multiple wilayat (provinces), sleeper cells, lone-wolves, online radicalisation and skilful exploitation of modern technologies, the terrorism threat remains challenging despite the successful expulsion of IS from its heartlands in Iraq and Syria in 2017. Moving forward, in 2018, the terrorist threat will be characterised by attacks mounted by politico-religious, ethnic-political and left/right wing groups. The major risk to the West, the Middle East, Africa and Asia will come from Islamist extremist groups with radicalised segments of migrant and diaspora communities perpetrating attacks in North America, Europe and Australia. Notwithstanding the operational and military setbacks IS and Al-Qaeda have suffered over the years, their affiliates in the global south will continue to mount attacks against military, diplomatic, political and economic targets. Despite security measures, threat groups will seek to hit aviation, maritime and land transportation targets. In addition, self-radicalised and directed attacks will focus on populated locations for large-scale impact, with suicide attacks as the preferred tactic. The favoured modus operandi of IS-inspired and directed jihadists in the West will be low-end terrorism relying on vehicle-ramming and stabbing as witnessed throughout 2017. Broadly, the world has witnessed the rise of three generations of global terrorist movements. ‘Global Jihad 1.0’ emerged after Al-Qaeda attacked the US in September 2001 and captured the imagination of multiple militant groups in Asia, Africa, Middle East and the Caucasus. The second generation, ‘Global Jihad 2.0’, emerged after al-Baghdadi declared a ‘caliphate’ and announced the formation of the ‘Islamic State’ (IS) on 29 June 2014. The third generation, ‘Global Jihad 3.0’, represents the global expansion of IS outside Iraq and Syria. IS now relies on its wilayat as its operational bases in the Middle East, Africa, Caucasus and Asia. IS and its affiliates control territorial space in varying degrees in countries with active conflict zones, and maintain a presence in cyber space. The group’s strength also lies in affiliated and linked groups, networks, cells and dedicated jihadists who are willing to fight and die for IS.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Homeland Security, Political stability, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Middle East, North Africa, Singapore, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Neta C. Crawford
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University
  • Abstract: All told, between 480,000 and 507,000 people have been killed in the United States’ post-9/11 wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. This tally of the counts and estimates of direct deaths caused by war violence does not include the more than 500,000 deaths from the war in Syria, raging since 2011, which the US joined in August 2014.
  • Topic: War, Conflict, 9/11, War on Terror, Statistics, Transparency, Iraq War
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, South Asia, Central Asia, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Neta C. Crawford
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University
  • Abstract: The United States has appropriated and is obligated to spend an estimated $5.9 trillion (in current dollars) on the war on terror through Fiscal Year 2019, including direct war and war-related spending and obligations for future spending on post9/11 war veterans. This number differs substantially from the Pentagon’s estimates of the costs of the post-9/11 wars because it includes not only war appropriations made to the Department of Defense – spending in the war zones of Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and in other places the government designates as sites of “overseas contingency operations,” – but also includes spending across the federal government that is a consequence of these wars. Specifically, this is war-related spending by the Department of State, past and obligated spending for war veterans’ care, interest on the debt incurred to pay for the wars, and the prevention of and response to terrorism by the Department of Homeland Security. If the US continues on its current path, war spending will continue to grow.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Government, Military Affairs, Budget, Military Spending, War on Terror, Veterans
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, South Asia, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Ammar A. Malik, Hamutal Bernstein, Edward Mohr, Yasemin Irvin-Erickson
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: As the Syrian refugee crisis enters its eighth year, leveraging the private sector’s financial capital and capacity for innovation has emerged as an attractive solution to protracted displacement. But little evidence exists on the feasibility and effectiveness of this approach. This case study highlights a unique type of private-sector engagement in which mainstream business interests align with the needs of refugees and host communities. The IKEA–Jordan River Foundation (JRF) partnership demonstrates how diverse stakeholders can identify synergies, overcome legal and practical barriers, and sustain collaborations through effective management structures.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Refugees, Business , Displacement, Private Sector
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, Jordan
  • Author: Ammar A. Malik, Edward Mohr, Yasemin Irvin-Erickson
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: With the global displaced population exceeding 68 million, the global humanitarian response system is under unprecedented stress. With widening funding gaps and no resolution in sight, new solutions are needed to address the needs of over 68 million displaced people worldwide. The private sector’s innovative and financial capacity is emerging as one such avenue, resulting in dozens of partnerships with local and international nonprofits. Depending on local policy environments, such working arrangements create both opportunities and risks for partners and hosts. This report is an attempt to learn lessons from existing experiences and offer insights on what works under given circumstances. Through desk research on existing partnerships, semistructured interviews with key stakeholders, site visits with partners in Jordan and Uganda, expert roundtables, and public discussions, we gather insights on both conceptual and practical aspects of partnerships benefiting refugees. We introduce a conceptual framework on the variety of options available to partners and offer recommendations for organizing win-win partnerships in the future.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Immigration, Refugees, International Development, Displacement, Private Sector
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa, Middle East, Jordan
  • Author: Matthew Schwartz
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Fourth Freedom Forum
  • Abstract: This policy brief explores the oft-under examined question of state-perpetrated violence and its treatment within the global preventing and countering violence extremism (PCVE) agenda. While there has been a gradual recognition that human rights, good governance and human security are critical factors in violence prevention, PCVE policy and programming continues to focus on addressing only violence associated with specific radical ideas and is overwhelming centered on individuals and communities of particular identity groups. This agenda often obscures and disregards substantial levels of violence perpetrated by states and other actors. Against the backdrop of growing body of work highlighting the biases, inconsistencies and assumptions of mainstream radicalization theory over the past decade, a paradigm shift is long overdue. To that end, this policy brief highlights the intersections of political violence, violent extremism, and human insecurity through a series of thematic vignettes on corruption, human rights abuses, and war-making. illustrating ways in which state conduct plays a central role in manifesting or escalating political violence from which violent extremism and terrorism emerge. Recognizing the scale and magnitude of state-perpetrated violence and its role in manifesting further violence is essential for charting a new course toward a more holistic response to violent extremism that adequately accounts for and responds to a wider spectrum of political violence, including the violence perpetrated by states.
  • Topic: Corruption, Human Rights, Violent Extremism, Counter-terrorism, Rule of Law, Criminal Justice, State Violence, Impunity
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Africa, Iraq, Middle East, Asia, Libya, Yemen, United Nations, Syria, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Tracey Durner, Danielle Cotter
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Fourth Freedom Forum
  • Abstract: This report provides good practices for the design and implementation of effective capacity development programs on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT). It first reflects on the current AML/CFT landscape, including recent changes to AML/CFT evaluation methodologies, diverging responses to money laundering and terrorist financing, unintended consequences of AML/CFT measures, and the integration of financial inclusion objectives into AML/CFT efforts. Against this background, the report outlines good practices for the development of regional and national AML/CFT capacity development programs. It explores each stage of the program cycle: inception and design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation. The report concludes with reflections on how technical assistance providers can help reconcile international standards, existing policies, and practical implementation contexts.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Finance, Islamic State, Financial Crimes
  • Political Geography: Middle East, United Nations, United States of America