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  • Author: David H. Shinn
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: After the september 11 attacks, the Bush administration's foreign policy toward Somalia focused primarily on counterterrorism. This focus was a result of Somalia's proximity to the Middle East, U.S. concern that al-Qa'ida might relocate to the country, a history of terrorist bombings targeting Western interests in nearby Kenya and Tanzania and early contact between al-Qa'ida and individuals in Somalia. Although ties exist between al-Qa'ida and Somalia's al-Shabab militant group, the overwhelming objective of U.S. policy in Somalia should not be confronting international terrorist activity. Instead, the United States should contribute to creating a moderate government of national unity in Somalia, which offers the best hope of minimizing Somali links to international terrorism. Long-term U.S. interests in the Horn of Africa will not be served by a policy that is consumed with military action to the detriment of supporting economic development and a broad based Somali government.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Middle East, Tanzania, Somalia
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: This section is intended to give readers an overview of President-elect Barack Obama's positions on the Middle East peace process as he begins his tenure. The baseline for gauging Obama's views may be his failed 2000 race for Congress. At that time he made statements viewed as pro-Palestinian because they urged the United States to take an "even-handed approach" toward Israeli-Palestinian peace-making. As an Illinois state senator, Obama had cultivated ties with Chicago's Arab American community, which was partly concentrated in his state senate district. He won a U.S. Senate seat in 2004 with significant support from Chicago's Lakeside liberals, who included leading Chicago Jewish Democrats. His position on the Arab-Israeli conflict remained an issue during the 2008 presidential race, however, and Obama made a point of laying out his positions at several points during the campaign, in contrast to his Republican challenger Sen. John McCain, who did not detail his positions.
  • Topic: Security, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Middle East, Arabia, Chicago
  • Author: Amitai Etzioni
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Old international institutions must be updated to tackle transnational challenges. The most promising model for doing so is the Proliferation Security Initiative, a recent cooperative effort to interdict weapons of mass destruction.
  • Topic: Security, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, North Korea
  • Author: Amir M. Haji-Yousefi
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations
  • Institution: Prof. Bulent Aras
  • Abstract: After the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, it became evident that Iraq's Shia majority would dominate the future government if a free election was going to be held. In 2004, Jordan's King Abdullah, anxiously warned of the prospect of a “Shia crescent” spanning Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. This idea was then picked up by others in the Arab world, especially Egypt's President Mubarak and some elements within the Saudi government, to reaffirm the Iranian ambitions and portray its threats with regard to the Middle East. This article seeks to unearth the main causes of promoting the idea of a revived Shiism by some Arab countries, and argue that it was basically proposed out of the fear that what the American occupation of Iraq unleashed in the region would drastically change the old Arab order in which Sunni governments were dominant. While Iran downplayed the idea and perceived it as a new American conspiracy, it was grabbed by the Bush administration to intensify its pressures on Iran. It also sought to rally support in the Arab world for US Middle East policy in general, and its failed policy toward Iraq in particular. Thus, to answer the above mentioned question, a close attention would be paid to both the Arab and Iranian agenda in the Middle East after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in order to establish which entities benefit most from the perception of a Shia crescent.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Iraq, America, Iran, Middle East, Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt
  • Author: Michael T. Klare
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The National Interest
  • Institution: The Nixon Center
  • Abstract: PRESIDENT BARACK Obama has often stated that one of his highest priorities is to vanquish the "tyranny of oil" by developing alternative sources of energy and substantially reducing America's reliance on imported petroleum. But we will not be energy independent for the next thirty to forty years, even with a strong push to increase energy efficiency and spur the development of petroleum alternatives. During this time, America will remain dependent on oil derived from authoritarian regimes, weak states and nations in the midst of civil war.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Iraq, America, Middle East
  • Author: William Hale
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Barack Obama's inauguration as America's new president has been welcomed as opening a 'new era' in Turkey's relations with the United States. May 2009 also saw the appointment of a new foreign minister in Ankara, in the person of Professor Ahmet Davutoğlu. This article examines how these new directions are playing out in the Middle East, one of the world's most turbulent regions which also has crucial economic and strategic importance for Turkey. It focuses on Turkey's relations with four regional states – Iraq, Israel/ Palestine, Syria and Iran. The article closes by assessing whether Turkey has been able to achieve the government's ambition of 'zero problems' with its neighbors, and the degree to which it has been able to develop a new role as conciliator and go-between in addressing the region's bitter conflicts.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Bronwyn Bruton
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Washington's repeated attempts to bring peace to Somalia with state-building initiatives have failed, even backfired. It should renounce political intervention and encourage local development without trying to improve governance.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Somalia
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 19, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad submitted his list of cabinet nominees to the Majlis (Iran's parliament). The president's choice of individuals clearly shows his preference for loyalty over efficiency, as he fired every minister who, while strongly supportive of him on most issues, opposed him recently on his controversial decision to appoint a family relative as first vice president. Ahmadinezhad's drive to install loyalists involves placing members of the military and intelligence community in the cabinet, as well as in other important government positions. Despite the president's positioning, Iran's top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, remains in firm control of the country's vital ministries.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 10, Fatah concluded its sixth congress, the first in twenty years. Although media attention has focused on some of the summit's disturbing pronouncements, significant political developments have occurred. Over the span of seven days, Fatah leaders discussed the key issues and challenges facing the party, including organizational and political issues affecting its unity, the role of its power centers, the peace process, and the group's relationship with Hamas and the Palestinian government. Whether Fatah is now able to overcome its organizational deficits and restore its popularity and leadership among the Palestinian people remains to be seen. But Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas has undoubtedly emerged stronger, competing powers within Fatah seem to have accepted coexistence, and the conflict between Fatah and Hamas is expected to escalate.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Political Power Sharing
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Widespread reports suggest that Sadeq Larijani, a young and inexperienced cleric with close ties to Iran's military and intelligence agencies, will officially replace Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi as head of the Iranian judiciary on August 16. This appointment is particularly significant, since the judiciary in Iran wields considerable power -- albeit through the approval of Iran's top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei -- and has a great deal of latitude to make decisions without reference to law or Islamic concepts, especially when "safeguarding the interests of the regime" is deemed necessary.
  • Topic: Government, Power Politics, Law Enforcement, Law
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Six weeks after the pro-West March 14 coalition defeated the Hizballah-led alliance in Lebanon's parliamentary elections, no new government has been formed in Beirut. Although March 14 leader Saad Hariri was given a mandate back in early June to become prime minister and form a cabinet, he has still not completed the sensitive and contentious negotiations with the opposition. Hariri's difficulties in allocating seats among his coalition allies and political adversaries were anticipated, and to a certain extent are routine for Lebanon. But the calm that followed the free and fair elections is eroding, as Hizballah and its allies in Damascus press for more political concessions from Hariri. These developments, coupled with the apparent failure of Saudi-Syrian reconciliation efforts, are elevating tensions, threatening a banner tourism season, and raising the possibility of a return to violence in Beirut.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Simon Henderson, Robert Jordan
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 13, 2009, Ambassador Robert Jordan and Simon Henderson addressed a special Policy Forum luncheon at The Washington Institute to discuss succession in Saudi Arabia and the challenges it could pose for the United States. Simon Henderson is the Baker fellow and director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at The Washington Institute. His most recent Policy Focus, After King Abdullah: Succession in Saudi Arabia, will be released this month. Robert Jordan is a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, where he was posted shortly after the September 11 terror attacks.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Islam, Regime Change, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Yusuf Sevki Hakyemez
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: This policy brief aims to discuss the limits of the freedom of political parties in Turkey. The political party bans consitute one of the most important problems threatening the freedom of political parties in Turkey. The restrictions on the political parties come to the fore in two different forms: dissolution after the military coups and closure by means of legislation. In the current context of the case opened against the AK Party, it may be possible and advisable to apply an amendment, bringing Turkish jurisprudence in such matters in line with the standards of the European community.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Jeremiah S. Pam
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The U.S. Treasury Department's approach to helping states build and strengthen their public institutions responsible for financial management is worth studying both because of the intrinsic importance of these institutions to an adequately functioning government and because it illustrates some key dynamics underlying state-building assistance more generally. A key premise of Treasury's approach is a primary orientation toward assisting local government institutions on mutually agreed-upon reform programs, based on a thorough understanding of the local administrative systems to be reformed. This orientation is reinforced by the fact that Treasury's contribution is typically only a small number of policy officials and embedded technical advisors, rather than large U.S.-funded programs. In the conventional case where state-building and institution-strengthening are pursued as part of a long-term development strategy, Treasury provides assistance through two activities that are organizationally and functionally distinct: advisors fielded by Treasury's Office of Technical Assistance (OTA), who are technical experts and usually based within local institutions at the request of host governments, and financial attachés, who act as financial policy officials/diplomats and are based at the U.S. embassies in a smaller group of countries. extraordinary situations where state-building follows an intervention (as in Iraq), deployed technical experts need to be partnered with a senior policy official (such as the Treasury attaché) who can create space for local institution–oriented work by shaping (and, where necessary, resisting) the many “centrifugal” external forces— from Washington, the military, and other civilian and international agencies—pulling in other directions. Improving interagency coordination mechanisms in Washington might do relatively little to enhance effectiveness by itself. Indeed, tighter Washington interagency “alignment” could end up strengthening Washington coordinating bodies at the expense of knowledgeable field officials and experts. It may be better to create the conditions for more effective interagency coordination in the field by deploying senior policy champions who both understand the importance of a local institution-oriented approach and possess sufficient delegated authority to tame the centrifugal forces necessary to make space for it. An expeditionary corps of technical experts by itself is insufficient to deal with the unconventional challenges presented by post-intervention state-building operations because the centrifugal forces present in such an environment are strong enough to undermine even the most sound assistance program absent the support of appropriately oriented policy champions.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Washington, Middle East
  • Author: Jacqueline Grapin
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: European Affairs
  • Institution: The European Institute
  • Abstract: We recently lost one of the most respected figures in Europe, just at a time when he would have been most needed. Bronislaw Geremek, who died in a car accident in Brussels in July, was a former Polish foreign minister and then a distinguished member of the European Parliament. Historically, he was a pivotal figure in the fight of the Solidarity movement to end Communist rule in Poland and one of the leading statesmen of the democratic era that followed. A professor of history who had become Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland before being elected to the European Parliament, at 76, Geremek was in full stride as a man who had distilled personal and political wisdom from his involvement in history both as an historian and as an actor in European developments. He was a friend of the United States and one of the most ardent supporters of the European Union, who was Chairman of the Jean Monnet Foundation in Lausanne. I remember meeting him by chance as we were both literally running down the street in the center of Warsaw on the 14th of July 1997, trying to reach in time the place where President Bill Clinton was going to address a huge crowd a few minutes later. All the buildings were decorated with American flags, and the crowds were full of excitement. It struck me that this high official - recognizable to everyone with his white beard - could walk freely in a public street, without a limousine or bodyguards: at every corner in the old city, people of all walks of life greeted him naturally. On his visits to The European Institute in Washington, he always conveyed his dedication to the goal of turning politics into a noble art. A difficult challenge, but perhaps not impossible. At this juncture, amid confusion about how to surmount the crisis for the EU caused by the negative vote of the Irish electorate on the Lisbon Treaty, it is worth remembering the advice given by Professor Geremek in an article that appeared in Le Monde almost simultaneously with his death.1 He stressed that every effort should be made to ensure that the treaty be ratified in all the other EU countries where it is signed. Don't ask the Irish people to vote on this again, Geremek said in substance, because the outcome of the Irish referendum should be respected and governments should not try to bypass the popular will. He recommended that the other 26 governments should do their best to ratify the treaty: whatever else, the result will be a text signed and ratified in a majority of the other 26 member states. In effect, a majority will have approved the Lisbon treaty, and that will add legitimacy for the European Council to proceed, together with the European Commission and the European Parliament, to implement some measures which do not require changes in the existing treaty. For instance, the Council can decide that the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (now Javier Solana) will from now on permanently chair the Council of Foreign Ministers and be responsible for a newly created European Foreign Service. Similarly, the European Council could decide that the President of the European Commission will chair the meetings of the European Council. While not fully representing the EU abroad, the President of the European Commission would represent the European institutions. The European Council could also propose that the European Parliament be recognized as having the right to propose legislative initiatives on the basis of public petitions (that garner, for example, one million signatures). The European Parliament could also be encouraged to take initiatives to reinforce its cooperation with the national parliaments in preparing European legislation. Increasing the rights of the European Parliament could be done by unanimous decisions of the European Council. Of course, there are changes that cannot be accomplished without a new treaty, particularly with regard to the voting system in the Council. Geremek was particularly firm that the principle of unanimity should be changed. It reminded him of a similar historical disposition in 18th-century Poland, the liberum veto that had led the country to political disaster. For the EU now to produce a new, more practical majoritysystem and to decide one or two questions that cannot be settled with the existing treaties, he suggested a new approach. Instead of bundling texts of existing treaties into a complex new proposal to be put to the public, two or three clear questions should be submitted to voters in all 27 EU member countries at the same time - for instance, on the election days for the European Parliament in June 2009. Such a process would be consistent with democratic principles. Moreover, at a moment when Russia's actions press the Old Europe and the New Europe to agree among themselves and with the United States, the West cannot afford to cling blindly to institutional arrangements that everyone knows are inadequate to the needs of the situation. Enlargement has not reduced the EU's ability to make decisions as much as many expected, but the rules of the treaty of Nice from 2001, which was supposed to be temporary and short-lived, must be improved. Both Europe and the United States feel the need for an efficient decision-making machinery in the EU at a juncture when both face the same challenges - defining relations with Russia, China, and the emerging economies; ensuring energy security; boosting economic growth; fighting terrorism and poverty; stabilizing the Middle East. It is tempting for sovereign European nations and for the powerful United States to let the role of the European institutions be minimized. But Europeans and Americans would be better served if they sought to share an ambitious vision of what the European Union should be able to provide - and how.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Lisbon
  • Author: Mustafa Şentop
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Female students with headscarf are currently prevented to enter the university in Turkey although there is no legal ground for such a ban. The ongoing controversy about the type of clothing for female students at the higher education institutions has become more intensified since the recent constitutional change in February 2008 to lift the de facto headscarf ban. The debate over this question revolves around whether headscarf is a religious attire or a political symbol, whether it should be banned to protect the secular foundations of the state or conversely allowed on the basis of individual freedom of religion as a corollary of secularism. The solution lies in the implementation of constitutional amendments without a further delay.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Education, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Saban Kardas
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: The Turkish Constitutional Court's verdict annulling the Parliament's amendments to Articles 10 and 42 of the Constitution disregards popular will, legalizes arbitrary restrictions on the right to equal access to education, and erodes the separation of powers by permitting itself to act outside of the legal order. The emergence of a new precedent of judicial activism is now the biggest threat to the future of Turkish democracy. Turkey cannot afford an unaccountable judiciary exercising substantial powers of governance through judicialization of politics. The Parliament must reassert its authority and reconfigure the Court's competences and composition to bring it into line with liberal-democratic principles as part of a comprehensive constitutional reform.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Aylin S. Gorener
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Perhaps the most consequential and drastic decision in Turkish foreign policy in recent months was to engage in direct negotiations with Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq. This is significant because, since the onset of Iraq War in 2003, Turkey has sought to ignore or marginalize Iraqi Kurds, and has refrained from all acts that could be viewed as concessions or de facto recognition. Although the Iraqi Kurdish leadership has received red-carpet ceremony in Ankara in the1990s, Turkish foreign policy toward northern Iraq, since the war, has been stymied by anxiety and emotional rhetoric. Indeed, the fear of Iraq's disintegration and the rise of an independent Kurdish enclave in the north, inspiring or even assisting separatist sentiments in Turkey, have appeared to cloud the possibility of rational evaluation of the pros and cons of policy alternatives. As a result, the policy of projecting illegitimacy to the Kurdish Regional Government has cost Turkey a significant loss of clout not only in northern Iraq but also in the wider Iraqi political affairs, as Kurds have come to occupy significant positions in the central government as well.
  • Topic: Government, International Political Economy, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Ihsan D. Dagi
  • Publication Date: 08-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: The Constitutional Court ruled not to close down the AK Party, relieving Turkey from an unprecedented level of political uncertainty, social and economic turmoil, and potential chaos. Instead, the court chose to keep the ruling party under close scrutiny by declaring it “a focal point of anti-secular activities,” and imposing financial measures.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Nazar Janabi
  • Publication Date: 08-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 7, the Iraqi parliament went on summer recess after failing to pass a critical election law, delaying the country's provincial elections until sometime next year. The failure comes after the parliament successfully passed the law on July 22, only to be vetoed by the Iraqi Presidency Council in less than thirty-six hours. The core dispute involves the oil-rich Kirkuk province, which is currently witnessing an alarming escalation of demonstrations and politically motivated attacks. This forced Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki to send his defense minister and an Iraqi brigade to the region in an attempt to deter further problems. As a result of Baghdad's political squabbling, the desperately needed provincial elections may seem unattainable.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 08-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayad recently appealed to the World Bank in an effort to bridge the current budget gap preventing the Palestinian Authority (PA) from paying government salaries this month. Despite a three-year $7.5 billion assistance pledge from the 2007 Paris donor conference, the PA remains in a financial crisis, with a projected shortfall of $400 million for the second half of 2008, as reported by the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee in May. Since Fayad's technocratic government has no independent political base, its legitimacy stems from the PA's financial solvency. He has survived ongoing attacks from rival Fatah leaders only because Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas recognizes him as the linchpin to Western donor assistance. If the financial crisis persists, however, Fayad's political future is in doubt.
  • Topic: Government, International Political Economy, Financial Crisis, World Bank
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This week, Lebanon's new national unity government is slated to announce its ministerial statement (bayan waziri), the policy document that will define Beirut's working parameters and agenda through the spring 2009 elections. For the pro-West majority March 14 coalition, the priority will be to incorporate into the statement a reference to UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1701, which prohibits weapons movement to Hizballah and expands government sovereignty throughout Lebanon. Hizballah, for its part, will look to maintain the legitimacy of "the resistance." Although March 14 still maintains a government majority, three years of hostility and self-inflicted wounds have left the ruling party dramatically weakened, making it unclear whether the coalition will be able to prevent Hizballah from consolidating further political gains.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This week, Lebanon's new national unity government is slated to announce its ministerial statement (bayan waziri), the policy document that will define Beirut's working parameters and agenda through the spring 2009 elections. For the pro-West majority March 14 coalition, the priority will be to incorporate into the statement a reference to UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1701, which prohibits weapons movement to Hizballah and expands government sovereignty throughout Lebanon. Hizballah, for its part, will look to maintain the legitimacy of "the resistance." Although March 14 still maintains a government majority, three years of hostility and self-inflicted wounds have left the ruling party dramatically weakened, making it unclear whether the coalition will be able to prevent Hizballah from consolidating further political gains.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 4, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas marked the anniversary of the 1967 War by making a surprise call for dialogue with Hamas. In response to multiple challenges to his authority -- impasse on the peace process, ongoing dissent within Fatah, and regional pressure to resolve the internal Palestinian conflict -- Abbas has abandoned his demands for Hamas to return Gaza to its pre-June 2007 condition and apologize for its violent coup. However, a gulf remains between Hamas and Fatah, and it is unlikely that renewed dialogue can bridge the gap. Abbas's move may be an effort to pressure the United States to become more involved, and to maintain a fallback position if peace is not achieved. Accordingly, his call to Hamas should be seen as tactical, rather than a strategic, turning point toward Palestinian reconciliation.
  • Topic: Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Jean-Pierre Katrib
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The May 25 election of Gen. Michel Suleiman as Lebanon's twelfth president was a central element of the Qatari-brokered compromise between the March 14 coalition and the Hizballah-led opposition. The agreement was greeted with relief in Washington and other international capitals, allaying fears that Lebanon was once again heading toward civil war. Now that Fouad Siniora has been re-designated as prime minister, the Doha agreement's remaining elements include the difficult task of establishing a "national unity government" and holding parliamentary elections in 2009. The new law governing those elections will determine whether Lebanon will have a solid future foundation or if the day of final reckoning has been merely postponed.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 14, the Iranian government arrested six prominent Bahai leaders and accused them of "endangering national security." The timing of the arrests has led some to speculate that the Iranian government is trying to link these leaders to the April explosion at a religious center in Shiraz that killed fourteen people. Considering Iran's clerical establishment believes the existence of religious minorities undermines official Shiite orthodoxy, these latest arrests are just another black mark on Iran's long and dismal record of protecting individual human rights and religious freedom.
  • Topic: Government, Human Rights, Human Welfare, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 21, after five days of mediation, Qatari officials announced a compromise solution to the Lebanese crisis between the pro-Western government and Hizballah-led opposition backed by Iran and Syria. According to preliminary reports, the negotiations centered on presidential elections and electoral reform, yet avoided the critical issue of Hizballah's weapons. Although details are still emerging, the broad outline of the agreement suggests that Hizballah has translated, at least temporarily, its May 7 military victory into a political victory. But given the potential outcome of the 2009 parliamentary elections, the Shiite group's victory may be short lived.
  • Topic: Government, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji, David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Tomorrow, Kuwait's nearly 400,000 voters -- more than half of them women -- will go to the polls to elect a new parliament. The incoming body will replace the 2006 parliament that was dissolved by the ruling emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Sabah, for failing to work together with the cabinet. Kuwait's parliament is relatively powerful compared to others in the region, but tension with the royal family has often produced only deadlock. Still, the elections are an important and interesting exercise in Arab democracy and may even produce a more constructive political environment.
  • Topic: Democratization, Gender Issues, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Kuwait
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This week, the democratically elected, pro-Western Lebanese government took the bold and unprecedented decision to confront Hizballah. Since its election in 2005, the government had avoided direct conflict with the well-armed Shiite militant political party, but several of the organization's activities -- including apparent preparations for yet another war with Israel -- led the government to provoke a showdown. In response to a May 8 cabinet statement that focused on Hizballah's "attack on the sovereignty of the state," the Shiite organization took to the streets. In the ensuing violence -- the most intense since Lebanon's civil war -- Hizballah began occupying parts of Beirut, leaving the future of Lebanon in doubt.
  • Topic: Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon, Beirut
  • Author: Nazar Janabi
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The recent military offensive in Basra was the first sizeable operation in which Iraqi government forces took the initiative to pursue armed groups in one of the country's most politically charged regions. Although the operation was a military success, its political aftermath will be crucial for the survival of both Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government and Muqtada al-Sadr's militia.
  • Topic: Government, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 19, Kuwaiti emir Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah dissolved the country's parliament and called for new elections to be held on May 17. This drastic step reflects two distinct sets of tensions, both of which Kuwait has overcome in the past: tensions between the executive branch and parliament, and tensions between fundamentalists from the Sunni majority and the Shiite minority. The conjunction of these divisions is unusual and poses a serious political test for this small but strategically vital state -- a nation that borders Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, pumps more oil than Iraq, and quietly hosts about 70,000 U.S. troops at any given moment. The political troubles have become all the more sensitive because many Kuwaitis suspect Iran of fomenting new sectarian strife within their borders.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, H. Akin Unver, Hale Arifagaoglu
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 14, Turkey's chief prosecutor, Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya, filed a case with the country's Constitutional Court asking it to shut down the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and ban seventy-one of its members from seeking elected office for five years. He accused the party of spearheading "anti-secular activities" in violation of the Turkish constitution. Although the court's disposition is uncertain, the case is likely to strengthen the AKP regardless of the outcome.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Government, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As Iran's March 14 parliamentary elections approach, the prospects for the reformist/technocratic coalition are predictably bleak. Yet, President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad is expected to lose ground as well. Although his conservative critics are likely to pick up a significant number of seats, the big winner will be Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, whose role as arbiter and decisionmaker will be reinforced even more.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: After a six-week delay following the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, Pakistanis will go to the polls on February 18 to elect a new National Assembly. Pakistan and Afghanistan are "where many of our most important interests intersect," as Director of National Intelligence J. Michael McConnell told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on February 5. Accordingly, the election results could affect the position of a key U.S. ally in the war on terror -- the increasingly unpopular President Pervez Musharraf.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Nazar Janabi
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Away from the headlines, Sunnis and Shiites are testing the waters of reconciliation in the Iraqi parliament with an agreement that may come at the expense of country's Kurdish population. The Kurdish political reaction to such an agreement could potentially exacerbate anti-Kurdish sentiment among many Arab parliamentarians, costing the Kurds some of the hard-earned political ground they have gained thus far.
  • Topic: Government, Political Economy, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Elizabeth Detwiler
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This USIPeace Briefing, summarizing remarks from a former commander for detainee operations in Iraq, discusses recent successes in improving the conditions of insurgent detainees in the country.
  • Topic: Government, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Rodger Shanahan
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: The government's decision to withdraw Australian combat elements from southern Iraq by the middle of 2008 has the potential to consign the Arabian Gulf region 1 to the periphery of Australian policy interests. There is a consequent temptation to focus our security policy on Australia's immediate region, or within West Asia only on Afghanistan where our combat forces will likely be operating for some time to come. To do so, however, flies in the face of our substantial, diverse and growing economic interests in the Gulf (including an upcoming Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) free trade agreement), our interests in counterterrorism and counter-proliferation, and our record of regularly deploying Australian Defence Force (ADF) elements into the region over the last 20 years. These factors, along with the government's recognition that '...the challenges (that) Australia faces will require us to be more internationally active, not less' 2 mean that, in an uncertain world where our strategic horizon extends beyond Southeast Asia, it is prudent to maintain and consider enhancing the diplomatic and security connections we have built up in the Gulf, albeit in a piecemeal fashion, over nearly two decades.
  • Topic: Security, Government
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East, Arabia, Australia, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: Jason Gluck
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: On February 13, 2008 the Iraqi parliament simultaneously passed a law that sets forth the relationship between the central and provincial governments, an amnesty law and the 2008 national budget. The passage of these laws was the result of months of negotiation and last-minute substantive and procedural compromises that could portend a shift away from merely ethnic and sectarian-based alliances to inter-ethnic and sectarian issue-based politics. At the same time, Iraqi lawmakers may have discovered a strategy of simultaneous consideration of multiple matters that could increase the likelihood of consensus and resolution—a sharp contrast to what has until now been an issue-by-issue approach that has often resulted in impasses and political gridlock.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Robert Perito
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In January 2007, President Bush announced that the U.S. would double the number of Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in Iraq as part of his plan for a "New Way Forward." PRTs are small, civilian-military units that assist provincial and local governments to govern more effectively and deliver essential services. These new PRTs would be embedded with Brigade (Army) and Regimental (Marine) Combat Teams (B/RCTs) participating in the "surge" of U.S. forces into Baghdad, Anbar and Erbil provinces. The new ePRTs would begin as four person interagency teams, but would expand to include civilian experts in a broad range of specialties. These new PRTs were staffed with Defense Department civilians and members of the National Guard and Army Reserve until funds became available to the State Department to hire civilian contractors. The process of deploying civilian experts is now underway, but the B/RCTs to which they are being assigned will return to the United States by August 2008.
  • Topic: Development, Government, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad
  • Author: Nazar Janabi
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On September 22, the Iraqi parliament belatedly passed a provincial elections law, ending a long and costly deadlock. Parliament ratified the initial version of the law on July 22, but it was later vetoed by two members of Iraq's presidency council. This time it is likely that the bill will survive council scrutiny because of the compromises and concessions made in the long negotiation process. Nevertheless, passing the law marks only the beginning of a vital political transition that could lead to either a unified democratic state or a fractured sectarian country prone to foreign influence.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Sarah Ellen Graham
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Australian National University Department of International Relations
  • Abstract: Two key themes stand out within current US government reports and foreign policy commentaries on American public diplomacy. These are: firstly, that US efforts to attract 'hearts and minds' in the Middle East were inadequate before and immediately after the 11 September 2001 attacks on America and must be improved, and secondly that the administration of public diplomacy has required major reform in order to meet the challenge of engaging Arab and Muslim audiences into the future. This paper assesses US public diplomacy in a regional context that has not been subject to significant scrutiny within the post-11 September debates on US public diplomacy: the Asia–Pacific. This oversight is lamentable, given Washington's significant security and economic interests in the Asia–Pacific, and because the Asia–Pacific is a region undergoing significant economic, diplomatic and political shifts that are likely to complicate Washington's ability to bring about desired outcomes in the future. This paper demonstrates, furthermore, that the Asia–Pacific represents an important case study from which to reflect on the administrative and substantive questions raised in recent critiques of US public diplomacy at a general level.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Development, Diplomacy, Government
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East, Australia/Pacific
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Never has the cause of political reform in the Arab world received as strong verbal support— on both the international and domestic political levels—as it did in Palestine between 2002 and 2006. And while much of the Palestinian reform agenda remained unrealized, Palestinian governance changed in fundamental ways during the reform wave. But international backers of reform in particular had a remarkably short-term focus, a highly personalized view of the process, and a very instrumental view of reform, leading them to turn harshly against the achievements of the Palestinian reform movement when it brought unexpected results. What can this combination of success and disillusioned failure teach us about the cause of Arab political reform?
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Hamas's takeover of Gaza and President Abbas's dismissal of the national unity government and appointment of one led by Salam Fayyad amount to a watershed in the Palestinian national movement's history. Some paint a positive picture, seeing the new government as one with which Israel can make peace. They hope that, with progress in the West Bank, stagnation in Gaza and growing pressure from ordinary Palestinians, a discredited Hamas will be forced out or forced to surrender. They are mistaken. The Ramallah-based government is adopting overdue decisions to reorganise security forces and control armed militants; Israel has reciprocated in some ways; and Hamas is struggling with its victory. But as long as the Palestinian schism endures, progress is on shaky ground. Security and a credible peace process depend on minimal intra-Palestinian consensus. Isolating Hamas strengthens its more radical wing and more radical Palestinian forces. The appointment of Tony Blair as new Quartet Special Envoy, the scheduled international meeting and reported Israeli-Palestinian talks on political issues are reasons for limited optimism. But a new Fatah-Hamas power-sharing arrangement is a prerequisite for a sustainable peace. If and when it happens the rest of the world must do what it should have before: accept it.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gaza
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: It has been a year since Hamas formed its government – and what a dismal year it has been. The Islamists thought they could govern without paying an ideological price, Fatah that it could swiftly push them aside and regain power. By imposing sanctions and boycotting the government, the Quartet (U.S., European Union (EU), Russia and UN) and Israel hoped to force Hamas to change or persuade the Palestinians to oust it. Washington promised security and economic aid to encourage Fatah to confront Hamas and help defeat it. The illusions have brought only grief. The 8 February 2007 Saudi-brokered Mecca Agreement between the Palestinian rivals offers the chance of a fresh start: for Hamas and Fatah to restore law and order and rein in militias; for Israelis and Palestinians to establish a comprehensive ceasefire and start a credible peace process; and for the Quartet (or at least those of its members inclined to do so) to adopt a more pragmatic attitude that judges a government of national unity by deeds, not rhetoric. The adjustment will not be comfortable for anyone. But the alternative is much worse.
  • Topic: Development, Government, International Organization
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Rend Al-Rahim Francke
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: People who live in the red zone have mixed experiences of the security situation. Residents of some “hot” neighborhoods of Baghdad say that the presence of Americans has a deterrent effect on militias, gangs and snipers—and thus gives comfort to citizens- - whereas Iraqi forces, including the police, army units, or pesh merga sent down from Kurdistan, do little to confront trouble-makers. For example, some neighborhoods within the larger Amiriya district have benefited from U.S. intervention, while others, such as Furat and Jihad, are still in conflict because U.S. forces have not intervened and Iraqi police and army do a poor job of stopping violence and intimidation. The higher U.S. profile is also credited for a decline in the number of suicide bombings and a decrease in mass sectarian killings and kidnappings in the city. Another factor contributing to a sense of greater safety in Baghdad is the success of U.S.-Iraqi force in the area south of Baghdad (the so-called Triangle of Death), where Sunni tribes have recently cooperated with U.S. forces. Residents of some neighborhoods said that for the first time in over a year they have been able to shop in their area in relative peace and stay out after dark.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Foreign Policy, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, America, Middle East, Baghdad
  • Author: Robert M. Perito
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) are small civilian-military units that assist provincial and local governments in Iraq to govern effectively and deliver essential services. In January 2007 President Bush announced that the United States would double the number of PRTs as part of his plan for a “New Way Forward.” Ten new PRTs will be embedded with Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) in Baghdad, Anbar, and Babil. The new PRTs will differ significantly from the ten original PRTs set up in Iraq in November 2005. Led by the State Department, most of the original PRTs are located on U.S. military bases and rely on the military for security and logistical support. Both types of PRTs in Iraq differ in staffing and organization from PRTs in Afghanistan. Start-up of the PRT program in Iraq has been troubled by interagency differences over funding, staffing, and administrative support and by the overriding challenge of providing security. Embedding the new PRTs with BCTs should help overcome many of these problems. Despite the problems, PRTs provide a U.S. civilian presence in areas that would not be served otherwise. Participants in PRTs believe they are having a positive effect.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Phebe Marr
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In 2006, a new group of Iraqi leaders came to power through elections. In the absence of strong bureaucratic and military institutions, the qualities and skills they bring to bear and their capacity and willingness to cooperate, especially across ethnic and sectarian lines, will determine whether Iraq collapses into chaos or moves forward toward stability. Three characteristics of these leaders are striking. First is how new and inexperienced most of them are. Rapid political mobility and change in ministers was prevalent in previous cabinets, but it has intensified in this government. This degree of change has made it difficult for leaders to acquire experience in national governance, create institutions, establish networks across ministries, and cultivate constituencies outside the central government. Second, the current leadership is still dominated by “outsiders”—exiles who have spent much of their adult life outside Iraq, or by Kurds who have lived in the north, cut off from the rest of Iraq. Most of these exiles have spent time in Middle Eastern, not Western, societies. “Insiders” who lived in Saddam's Iraq and endured its hardships are still a minority. This fault line between insiders and outsiders helps explain some of the lack of cohesion in the government. Third, and most important, many of the current leaders have spent the best part of their adult life engaged in opposition to the Saddam regime, often in underground or militant activities. Those who had any affiliation with, or simply worked under, the old regime have still found it very difficult to gain entry. The result has been a profound distrust between the new leadership and those with some association with the old regime. The continuation of the insurgency has helped this political struggle metamorphose into an ethnic and sectarian war. A fourth parameter is emerging as significant: the development of political parties and groups, often accompanied by militias. While ethnic and sectarian divisions in Iraq have grabbed most of the headlines, it is these parties and their constituencies that are shaping the political agenda and are likely to be determinative in the future. The most important of these parties now occupy seats, not only in the assembly but in the government. They include the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), Da'wah, and the Sadrist movement in the dominant Shi'ah United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), the Kurdistan Democratic party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in the Kurdistan Alliance, Tawafuq (Iraqi National Accord) among the Sunnis, and the weaker Iraqiyyah (Iraqi) ticket among the secularists. Each of these parties has different positions on issues and different constituencies to satisfy; in a number of cases these cross ethnic and sectarian divides. Among the most important of these common interests are (a) economic development, (b) oil legislation, (c) management of water resources and the environment, and (d) the role of religion and the state. Even more divisive issues, such as federalism and a timetable for withdrawal of multinational forces, find allies on one or another side of these issues among different ethnic and sectarian groups. This suggests that despite ethnic and sectarian strife, a new political dynamic could be built in Iraq by focusing on one problem at a time and dealing with it by encouraging party, not communal, negotiations. Although such agreements will take time, they may provide a means of gradually building much-needed trust and a network of people and institutions that can work across ethnic and sectarian boundaries. Such a process will have a far better outcome over the long term—an intact, more durable Iraqi state, than the ethnic and sectarian divisions now being pushed by events on the ground and by some outside policy analysts.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Kurdistan
  • Author: Marten Zwanenburg
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Human Rights Human Welfare (University of Denver)
  • Abstract: “Because the legal advice was we could do what we wanted to them there” (22). This is how a top-level Pentagon official, in David Rose's Guantánamo: The War on Human Rights explains why detainees held by the United States have been detained at Guantanamo Bay. It is just one illustration of the important role that lawyers have played in the “War on Terror”—a role, along with factors that have or that may have influenced it, that forms the topic of this essay.
  • Topic: Government, Human Rights, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: The meeting of the Lebanese Parliament on Tuesday 23 October 2007 to elect a new President of the Republic has been adjourned to 21 November. After earlier attempts to hold the vote failed to take place and without any parliamentary consensus on procedures or candidates, this IFES Lebanon briefing paper outlines some of the key constitutional and procedural issues that may arise.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Lebanon
  • Author: Zühtü Arslan
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: This paper aims to analyse the basic parameters of the new draft constitution in Turkey. Having outlined the radical amendments to the current Constitution in terms of both fundamental rights and state organs, the paper takes up the procedural and substantial criticisms directed against the draft Constitution. It also contains a number of policy recommendations for taking necessary measures to ensure the broadest possible participation of the Turkish people in the constitution making process. The paper concludes that adoption of the proposed constitution will remove the physcological obstacle to democratisation of the Turkish political regime by disproving the deeply embedded belief that civilians in Turkey cannot make a new constitution under truly democratic circumstances.
  • Topic: Government, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East