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  • Author: Lorenzo Vidino
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: In the past few years, the MENA region witnessed a rise in jihadist extremism and radicalization, as countries in the area were rocked by a series of deadly terrorist attacks. As authorities responded to the threat, it became clear that in order to effectively counter the phenomenon, traditional repressive measures had to now be accompanied by alternative methods of prevention, rehabilitation and dissuasion. How have different governments around the Mediterranean responded? What sort of alternative measures have been taken? How effective have these policies been? What further steps can be taken to strengthen the response of the authorities? These are just some of the key issues that this ISPI Report seeks to cover. The experts in this volume illustrate the policies of contrast, prevention and de-radicalization that have been adopted by countries in the MENA region, revealing emerging trends, lessons learned and overviews of this security status.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Radicalization
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: IEMed/EuroMeSCo
  • Abstract: On 12 October ISPI in cooperation with the IEMed organised a workshop “New Euro-Mediterranean Dynamics in the Eastern Mediterranean”. The event was organised in the framework of the EuroMeSCo ENI Project, co-funded by the European Commission. This dialogue workshop aimed at discussing the initial research results of the Joint Policy Study and engaging the participants in analyzing and sharing their perspectives on whether the Russian moment in the MENA region corresponds to opportunism, a new strategy or it falls in between these options. Additionally, this workshop aimed at shedding light on the role Russia is currently playing, how this can influence the balance of power as well as how regional players look at Russia. The present report is a summary of main points raised in workshop discussions
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Geoffrey Kemp
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Nixon Center
  • Abstract: America’s Middle East policy must adapt to a changing region. The lack of an overarching theory of vital U.S. interests in the Middle East and of a strategy narrowly tailored to defending them has rendered U.S. policy reactive and largely incoherent. To the extent that it has coherence, it is driven by a strategy of primacy—by a complex of ideas in which active, armed American management of the region is essential for stability, in which states do not have a strong tendency to seek balance against threats, and in which increasing U.S. involvement will generally increase stability—and do so at costs acceptable to the United States. This strategy has undergirded costly choices like striking Libya, invading and occupying Iraq, putting American boots on the ground in Syria, and supporting unsavory partners against their internal opponents. This strategy faces building headwinds: public frustration, a growing national debt, and better-armed foes. Primacy comes at a growing opportunity cost: power tied up in the Middle East is unavailable to address a rising China or a more active Russia. And this strategy seems out of step with the region’s rapidly shifting strategic alignments. The time is ripe to go back to the basics, prioritizing the threats that require U.S. action in relation to the other international crises that affect vital U.S. interests, especially in East Asia and Europe
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Joe Barnes
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Nixon Center
  • Abstract: President Barack Obama’s Middle East policies have come under increasingly sharp criticism since the emergence of ISIL as a threat to Iraq during the summer of 2014. Some of this criticism has come from predictable quarters: neoconservatives and liberal interventionists who have long been critical of the Obama administration’s relatively “soft touch” approach to the region, notably its hesitance to get the United States more deeply involved in the Syrian civil war. But a sense of drift in U.S. policy toward the Middle East has spread to the general public, as well.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Hassan Hassan
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The collapse of ISIS’s caliphate and its subsequent flight from much of its former territory has been a triumph for the anti-ISIS coalition in Iraq and Syria. However, for ISIS, expulsion from former urban strongholds is the end of one chapter and the beginning of another: the group has since rolled out a well-developed strategy to assure its future resurgence. This paper examines ISIS’s actions, publications, and communications to determine its insurgency strategies and long-term organizational outlook, emphasizing sources that have been largely overlooked by forces fighting the group. By analyzing the strategies ISIS uses and has used in its previous incarnations, this paper argues that insurgent groups like ISIS will continue to operate within the ungoverned space along the Syria-Iraq border, and that if left unchecked, the group is likely to re-emerge
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Global Focus
  • Author: Itamar Radai
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: “On the deck of the Titanic,” thus sailed the members of the Joint List of Arab parties on the eve of the 2015 Knesset (parliamentary) elections, according to senior journalist Wadea Awawdy.[1] Four years later, in light of the results of the 2019 elections, it seems that this prophecy has almost materialized, even though the ships have narrowly escaped the iceberg, at least for the time being. The Hadash-Taʿal list attained 193,293 votes, equivalent to six seats in the Knesset, while Raʿam-Balad barely crossed the electoral threshold of 3.25 percent with 143,863 votes, giving them four seats. Arab voters’ turnout declined to a historic low of about 50 percent, as opposed to the overall turnout of around 68 percent.[2] The sharp drop in Arab voter turnout led to Arab parties’ political representation declining from 13 seats in 2015 to 10. Israeli Hebrew-language media coverage explained this change in terms of Arab alienation and marginalization. However, the mainstream Hebrew media outlets tend to neglect the coverage of Arab politics, including the election campaigns,[3] hence ignoring at large an important internal factor: the collapse of the Joint List on the eve of the 2019 elections, and its implications. This article will focus on the rise and dramatic fall of the Joint List, and its repercussions.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs, Elections
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Adam Garfinkle
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: By now the world knows that U.S. military forces for the first time since the onset of the Syrian civil war in 2011 have attacked regime targets. Plenty of the basic facts are known about what transpired about 18 hours ago, but a few important ones are not—at least not in the public domain. For example, we have only a very general Bomb Damage Assessment (BDA) report. This matters because Tomahawk cruise missiles are very accurate if “lite” weapons. Knowing what the four dozen or so missiles hit and missed, deliberately and otherwise, could tell us a lot about why the President, presumably with Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ guidance and concurrence, chose the lesser of three options presented at what has been described as a meeting of considerable length. That, in turn, could tell us if the intention ultimately is to coerce the Russians into coercing the Syrians to stop doing monstrous things to their own people, and possibly coercing them to support a compromise political settlement to the war; or if it’s just an Eff-You gesture designed only to relieve the sudden pressure of moral unction that unexpectedly came upon our new Commander-in Chief—who seemed to lurch from coldblooded Randian to “Godtalk” invoker of the American Civil Religion in the wink of an eye. In other words, knowing more about the target set would tell us whether there is any political strategy attached to the use of force, or not. Probably not.
  • Topic: International Security, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Paola Sartori, Alessandra Scalia
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The research that forms the basis of this study aims to address women’s roles within peace operations, as well as their contribution to security and peace-building. Based on Italy’s contribution to the NATO-led missions – the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and, currently, Resolute Support (RS) – the subject of the analysis is Afghanistan, and particularly Herat Province. The research e ort is speci cally aimed at assessing the impact of the civil–military cooperation (CIMIC) initiatives implemented by Italian troops in Herat, with a speci c focus on gender and Afghan women. The rst part of this paper addresses the theoretical framework on women’s participation in stabilization and reconstruction e orts. It introduces concepts such as gender analysis and gender mainstreaming, and, consequently, the bene ts of focusing on gender when carrying out CIMIC initiatives within peace operations. The second part focuses on the CIMIC activities implemented by the Italian contingent in Herat Province. The concluding section of the paper provides some “food for thought”, aimed at contributing to further enhancing the e ectiveness of the CIMIC projects carried out by the Italian military and their related e ects.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Ammar al-Hakim’s announcement on July 24, 2017 that he is stepping down as the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) came after generation- al con icts surfaced between a number of the Coun- cil’s senior gures, who had visited Tehran to demand that he should be pressured over his reliance on the youth. Moreover, al-Hakim himself rejected attempts by senior members of the council to assume govern- ment positions, and even sought to build unique rela- tions with Arab and Western countries by presenting himself as an acceptable moderate Shiite gure. The outgoing leader is preparing for the upcoming elec- tions to be held across Iraq.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The escalating crisis between the United States and North Korea is of special importance for Iran. Firstly, the US Administration of President Donald Trump has designated both Iran and North Korea as an imminent threat to the national security of the United States. The approach builds on the administration of former president George W. Bush’s repeated labelling of Iran and North Korea, as well as Iraq, as key rogue states of the so-called axis of evil, who sponsor terrorism and seek to ac- quire weapons of mass destruction.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East