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  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: This paper reviews the importance of western Mosul to all parties in the conflict: the Iraqi forces and their allies, on the one hand, and the Islamic State’s forces, on the other, and the obstacles to any of these parties resolving the conflict. It also touches on the extent of their forces and the clear dominance of the offensive forces, and it discusses the military strategies for the battle and potential outcomes in addition to the available options for the Islamic State (IS). It anticipates an end to the fight in favour of the Iraqi forces within a few weeks if the battle and its results progress at a similar pace to that of its first week. This will depend on any unaccounted for variables during the battle that would change the equation on the ground. It concludes by discussing the available options for IS after the battle ends, with the expectation that IS will fight until the end; while its commanders will inevitability lose the battle, this will not eliminate threats to security and stability in Iraq in the foreseeable future.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War, International Security
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Adel Bakawan
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute Français des Relations Internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: Iraqi Kurdistan, previously known as a secure and stable region amidst the chaotic and shaken Middle East, was struck by a wave of attacks in 2016. Between September and December of that year, there were five recorded terrorist operations led by 249 Kurdish jihadists rallied by the Islamic State (ISIS) or Daesh, of which 47 were killed and 43 were arrested by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). In fact, Iraqi Kurdistan, with a population of five million inhabitants, has supplied ISIS with 2,000 jihadists. Since the launch of the Mosul offensive on 17th October 2016, Kurdistan has been preparing itself, like many other countries in the region and a number of European countries, to face its worst nightmare: the Kurdish jihadists’ return to the country. Although a series of threats weigh upon the leaders of the KRG, such as social and economic crises, political division between rival parties; Masoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Jalal Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the prospect of a new civil war, and the intervention of neighbouring countries – the return of the Kurds of Daesh is currently the most troublesome.
  • Topic: Terrorism, International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Arab Transformations Project, University of Aberdeen
  • Abstract: EU policy towards its Southern Neighbour- hood aims to ensure the security of Member States and is underpinned by an assumption of a shared interest in democracy, security, and prosperity through economic liberalisation. It sees the main way of achieving these aims as promoting Western-style liberal democracy as a political system capable of providing peace and stability. Evidence from public opinion survey research shows this ambition is supported by citizens of Arab countries, where public opinion polls for over a decade report strong support for democracy. However, these citizens do not share the EU’s procedural conception of democracy, a conception in which civil and political rights are decoupled from – and prioritised over – social and economic rights. The Arab Transformations survey carried out in 2014 in six Arab states (Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq) suggests few people demanded this brand of democracy. Furthermore, most people thought the EU has not done a good job of supporting transitions to democracy, nor did they have much appetite for EU involvement in the domestic politics of their countries.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, International Affairs, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Andrea Teti, Pamela Abbott
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Arab Transformations Project, University of Aberdeen
  • Abstract: The EU views itself as a normative actor and stresses the importance of working in partnership with its Southern Neighbourhood in reaching its intertwined goals of security, stability, inclusive development and shared prosperity, and of strengthening democratisation, human rights and the rule of law across the Mediterranean. The Arab Transformations Project public opinion survey carried out in 2014 in six countries – Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia – sheds some light on this on how citizens viewed the EU and its involvement with their own countries, as well as the extent to which they thought EU policies addressed their concerns.
  • Topic: International Affairs, International Development
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East
  • Author: Andrea Teti, Pamela Abbott
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Arab Transformations Project, University of Aberdeen
  • Abstract: The main drivers of the Arab Uprisings were economic grievances and a perceived growth in inequalities. Poor economic growth and lack of inclusive policies are the underlying causes of insecurity in the region The main concerns of people in the MENA are economic security and corruption. People think that the best way in which the EU can help their countries in the wake of the Uprisings is with support for inclusive economic development. The EU needs to develop its policies so that they bring economic benefits to the countries in the region as well as to the EU the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme under grant agreement no #320214 Summary: The main drivers of the Arab Uprisings were economic grievances and a perceived growth in inequalities. Poor economic growth and lack of inclusive policies are the underlying causes of insecurity in the region The main concerns of people in the MENA are economic security and corruption. People think that the best way in which the EU can help their countries in the wake of the Uprisings is with support for inclusive economic development. The EU needs to develop its policies so that they bring economic benefits to the countries in the region as well as to the EU
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Andrea Teti, Pamela Abbott
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Arab Transformations Project, University of Aberdeen
  • Abstract: The Arab region retains deeply conservative gender attitudes against the trend of moves to more liberal values generally across the globe.  Arab citizens say they support gender equality but women are generally treated as second class citizens especially in family law.  Islam is often blamed for gender conservatism, but the systematic repression of political alternatives to Islamism and often-perfunctory way in which women's equality agendas are treated by autocratic regimes are more important.  Efforts to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women need to be led by Arab women and men and incorporate Islamic feminists as well as secular ones
  • Topic: Gender Issues, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Andrea Teti, Pamela Abbott
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Arab Transformations Project, University of Aberdeen
  • Abstract: Corruption is the antithesis of the Rule of Law and erodes the discourse of fairness and mutual consideration which is necessary for peace, prosperity and socioeconomic development. It increases the risk of state capture and resistance to change by the political elite. It results in poor public management and resource allocation and an inequitable distribution of resources and national wealth. It is a problem not just for individual countries but also for harmonious diplomatic and economic relations. The European Union’s Neighbourhood Policy is intended to help its near neighbours develop into a sustainable economic, social and political stability. At the same time the EU deploys normative leadership to promote a social and political security based on a respect for human rights, a dependence on the Rule of Law and a style of governance which can listen to its people and can face replacement, if need be, without the need for armed confrontation. For this, the extent of corruption in MENA is a serious problem. Keywords: Corruption, Middle East, Arab Spring
  • Topic: Corruption, International Law
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East
  • Author: Andrea Teti, Pamela Abbott, Munqith Dagher
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Arab Transformations Project, University of Aberdeen
  • Abstract: With ISIS' influence declining, Iraq faces the challenge of rebuilding both its economy and its political system. • Amidst the devastation left by conflict, Iraq's political leaders have the opportunity to address the internal divisions which made ISIS possible. • Any post-conflict settlement must take into account the population's concerns and priorities. • Sectarian identity is less influential than commonly assumed in shaping people's political priorities: often more important are local conditions, particularly regarding security, the economy, and migration. • Ignoring popular priorities risks undermining post-ISIS attempts to build a stable country, with knock-on effects at a regional level.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Andrea Teti, Pamela Abbott
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Arab Transformations Project, University of Aberdeen
  • Abstract: Data from the Arab Transformations public opinion survey provides strong indications about the nature of population movements from Middle East and North African (MENA) countries. As such they are crucial in designing responsive, evidence-based policy. ArabTrans data shows those who have considered migrating tend to be young, male, and with higher levels of education (the notable exception being Libya). In all countries surveyed, young people are more likely to have considered migrating; in nearly all countries the economy is the main driver of migration; and although a substantial portion of those considering migration think of a permanent move, large proportions are considering only temporary migration. This underscores the importance of economic policies which actually deliver inclusive growth and social cohesion. Two major conclusions can be drawn from this data: first, that the economic causes and strong temporary dimension of migration provide EU Member states with opportunities to reap the benefits of migration, both to the economy as a whole and to welfare systems in particular; second, that MENA countries of origin present significant internal differentiation suggesting policy should reflect specific national circumstances. The single major obstacle to public discussion and designing evidence-based policies which maximise the benefits of migration to both host countries and countries of origin is a political context which conflates and securitizes refugees and migrants. Paradoxically, the tone of this debate and the way policy is designed and implemented may have much to do with any socio-political polarisation of migrants in host countries
  • Topic: Migration, International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Inga Schierholz
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Disputes over water constitute a major area of disagreement between Israel and Palestine. The uncoordinated and irresponsible environmental actions on both sides have created serious ecological and humanitarian hazards that require rapid, yet sustainable action. Those who argue that the water problem can be resolved only as part of a comprehensive peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians fail to recognise both the urgency and the potential of cross-border water cooperation. The bottom line of this Flanking Cooperative Idea is that because water- and sanitation-related issues extend both horizontally across national borders and vertically across various sectors, environmental cooperation can be used to create positive linkages with and spill-overs into other policy fields with the potential to initiate new forms of collaboration in currently deadlocked areas, including the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Middle East