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  • 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
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The Islamic Resistance Movement (more commonly known as Hamas) has recently intensified its efforts to enhance its relations with Iran, especially after President Hassan Rouhani was elected for a second term. It also seeks to invest favorable official attitudes inside Iran where most main- stream political parties are urging for what they believe is necessary support to some organizations operating across the region, including the occupied Palestinian Territories, and resume full- fledged relations with Hamas.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Andrea Teti
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Transformations Project, University of Aberdeen
  • Abstract: The Arab Transformations Project is an international research project operating within the European Commission’s FP7 framework. The project looks comparatively at attitudes and behaviours in the context of the social, political and economic transformations taking place across Middle East and North Africa since February 2011. The countries covered are Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Andrea Teti, Pamela Abbott, Paolo Maggiolini, Valeria Talbot
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Transformations Project, University of Aberdeen
  • Abstract: Survey data from the ArabTrans 2014 survey contains a unique battery of questions pertaining to the perception of the European Union. This report builds on those questions to analyse perceptions of the EU, its development cooperation programmes, its promotion of democracy, the appropriateness of its response to the Arab Uprisings, and the perception of the EU as an international actor. Overall, the data suggests low levels of awareness and relatively negative opinions of the EU’s actions both in general and in the specific context of its response to the Arab Uprisings. However, respondents’ preferences also suggest avenues for policy development for the Union such that it might simultaneously achieve its interests and meet the demands of MENA populations. Throughout, the paper also takes note of specific patterns and conditions found in individual countries which present particular challenges for the EU.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East
  • Author: Pamela Abbott
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Transformations Project, University of Aberdeen
  • Abstract: The MENA countries which this Project has considered form part of a ‘band’ across the map from Morocco in the West to perhaps India in the East which is profoundly patriarchal in its norms and values, treating half the population like children where they are not thought of more as property. Such treatment also brings social cohesion into question, however: women cannot sensibly be part of a consensus about fair dealing and equal treatment when even the laws are not fair with respect to them. The main conclusion of this Report is that there is that there is little support among either men or women in MENA for gender equality and the empowerment of women. Women are much more supportive than men, although even among women support is low. The gap in support between men and women is noticeably larger in Morocco, Jordan and Iraq and lowest in Libya, with Tunisia and Egypt lying between. The more educated, the better off and those living in urban areas are more supportive and those who support all status law being based on shari’a are less supportive. As in other research, age makes no difference, indicating that young people are no more supportive than older ones and confirming that there has been no generational shift to more liberal values. The differences between countries are statistically significant, with Iraq being the most supportive, closely followed by Morocco and Tunisia, and Libya the least supportive closely followed by Egypt. Jordan lies between the two groups. This finding is much as would be expected. Egypt has long been recognised as one of the countries most restrictive of women’s rights in the MENA region and the information emerging from Libya since the fall of Gadhafi indicates very conservative attitudes to women’s rights. Tunisia and Morocco have been widely reported as having more progressive attitudes to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. Iraq is not frequently mentioned in the literature as having progressive attitudes, but until the new Constitution of 2005 it had some of the most progressive status law in the region. The analysis suggests that since the beginning of the 21st Century attitudes towards gender equality and the empowerment of women have become more conservative in Egypt and less conservative in Morocco and Iraq. In Tunisia support for personal status law being enacted in accordance with shari’a has increased noticeably, possibly possiby to the influence of Political Islam in the country since 2011. The findings also confirm those of more recent
  • Topic: Gender Issues, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Pamela Abbott, Andrea Teti
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Transformations Project, University of Aberdeen
  • Abstract: This working paper considers relations between the region and the European Union, something on which the ArabTrans survey was specifically designed to offer information. We supplement the ArabTrans survey by drawing on data from Waves II (2010/11) and III (2013) of the Arab Barometer and from the Gallup World Poll for 2011 and 2014. The Report considers what impact the policies pursued by the EU and its member countries have had on the lives of people living in four countries in the region - Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia - and how they view the EU and its involvement with their countries. It considers ordinary people’s attitudes to the EU and its policies but also discusses what ordinary people want and the extent to which EU policies address these concerns.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Amaia Goenaga
  • Publication Date: 09-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: IEMed/EuroMeSCo
  • Abstract: The European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed) and Casa Árabe, with the collaboration of ICEX (Spain Trade and Investment), organised in 2016 an international conference entitled "Post-conflict re-construction in MENA: Previous experiences and stakeholders’ inclusive involvement in the future reconstruction of Libya, Syria and Iraq". The aim was to tackle the different aspects and challenges related to reconstruction in post-conflict countries in the region. Given the dimension and complexity of the subject, the conference was structured in a double meeting, bringing together stakeholders, academics and experts. The first one took place in Barcelona on the 11 April 2016 and the second one on the 19 September 2016 in Madrid. This document gathers and assesses the main conclusions and recommendations reached in both meetings. Thus issues tackled have been grouped into five main lines of discussion, which are divided into epigraphs devoted to some key concrete issues:
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Stig Jarle Hansen, Mohamed Husein Gaas, Ida Bary
  • Publication Date: 09-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Although it may seem that the Muslim Brotherhood has weakened since the onset of the "Arab Winter" in 2013 and onward, organizations with their origins in the Brotherhood still have access to power in countries as diverse as Somalia, Bahrain, Morocco, and Yemen, and might regain power in other countries as well. Most Brotherhood-affiliated movements are committed to some form of democracy, unlike many of their rivals in the Middle East. Even the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have sought allies among Brotherhood affiliates, despite banning a majority of affiliated organizations.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Lori Plotkin Boghardt, Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Trump administration has an opportunity to reset, tighten, and maximize America's strategic relations with the Gulf states. For the United States, expanded security cooperation and coordination could be a force multiplier in campaigns to achieve key policy goals, such as countering Iran's destabilizing policies and defeating the Islamic State. Gulf leaders have expressed optimism over the new administration's gestures, despite its "America First" rhetoric. But the administration also faces challenges, including those brought about by its own emphasis on "radical Islamic terrorism." This two-part Transition 2017 paper, featuring contributions by Gulf experts Lori Plotkin Boghardt and Simon Henderson, navigates the complex U.S.-Gulf relationship. The first essay provides an overview of its basic tenets, stressing the importance of rapport to bilateral ties and discussing key policy priorities. The second essay narrows the focus to the Washington-Riyadh link, the most important U.S. tie with the conservative Gulf. It analyzes differences in viewpoint, policy options, and some anticipated Saudi responses on the core issues of oil, terrorism, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Gulf allies, and the Sunni bloc.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Cooperation, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East
  • Author: Tomáš Kaválek
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: On 3 March, clashes erupted between the PKK-linked forces and the KDP’s Rojava Peshmerga near Khanasor in the district of Shingal. These events now more than ever highlight the need for a negotiated compromise between the KRG and the PKK; and for the international community to actively intervene.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, Political Theory
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Irene Costantini
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: Iraq and Libya are facing similar challenges: addressing the hurdles of socio-economic recovery in areas liberated from the Islamic State (IS); facing a fiscal crisis in the midst of continuous political tensions; and striking a power balance between central and local authorities, serving the interests of the people.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, ISIS
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Athanasios Manis
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: The Iraqi and Turkish leadership have restored direct contact, thus providing an opportunity for dialogue. However, the extent to which this can lead to a sustainable normalisation process and furthermore to a deepening of their relationship is highly questionable. This policy brief argues that the main problem lies with the fact that a win-win scenario of overlapping or complementary interests does not seem to be driving the leaderships’ actions. Instead, it is ad hoc developments external to their bilateral relationship that have a positive effect for the time being, such as the rapprochement between Russia and Turkey, and subsequently a concerted attempt between Russia, Turkey and Iran to stabilise the region.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Hayder al-Khoei, Ellie Geranmayeh, Mattia Toaldo
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: ISIS has suffered significant setbacks in both Iraq and Libya with the battles for Mosul and Sirte representing potential turning-points. • Without a clear political strategy to guide post- ISIS efforts, these military gains could quickly be lost. Both countries could again become breeding grounds for conflict and extremism, exacerbating European security and migration challenges. This risk is especially high for Iraq given the conflict in neighbouring Syria. • The new US administration is likely to invest less energy than its predecessors in strengthening political orders which provide stability. European states must step up their own efforts
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: On 5 June 2017, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt, in marked succession, cut diplomatic relations with Qatar. Within a matter of hours, it became clear that this was not simply a move to sever ties, but a plan for a full embargo, an unprecedented step at a time of peace between these nations. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain blocked flights to Qatar, closed land and sea borders, and ordered Qatari citizens out of their countries while calling on their own nationals to leave Qatar. The same day, Maldives, Mauritius (though it later denied the news), the Libyan Tobruk-based government (which is not recognised internationally), and the Yemeni government based in Riyadh followed suit and cut ties with Qatar, unable to resist Saudi pressure. The next day, Jordan downgraded diplomatic relations with Qatar and revoked the licence of Al Jazeera’s bureau in Amman, while Mauritania severed diplomatic relations with Qatar. Mauritius, in an official statement, denied it had cut ties, raising questions of whether some party took the initiative on behalf of the Mauritian government. The actions taken at dawn on 5 June were the culmination of an unprecedented, anti-Qatar media blitz initiated by Emirati, Saudi, Bahraini and Egyptian media on the evening of 23 May. The campaign intensified until it assumed official imprimatur with the decision to cut ties and blockade Qatar. What, then, is happening to relations between countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)? After Gulf leaders came together in a scene of friendship, cooperation and solidarity during US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, why are relations between three GCC states and Qatar deteriorating so rapidly and in such unprecedented fashion? Was there an immediate cause that spurred Saudi Arabia and its partners to take this stance, or were these actions planned in advance? Is this simply a fleeting crisis in relations between GCC states, or could the break persist?
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • 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