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  • Author: Robert Rabil
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As the end of the Lebanese presidential term neared and then passed on November 23, domestic and international forces have ratcheted up their involvement in electing the country's new president. But the political focus of the presidential elections has shifted from democratic and constitutional ideals to concerns about preventing civil strife -- a potential reality if no consensus on a candidate is reached between the two major Lebanese camps, the pro-Western March 14 alliance and the Hizballah-led opposition.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On November 5, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and deputy chief of military staff Gen. Ergin Saygun visited President Bush in Washington to discuss the growing threat posed by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The composition of the Turkish delegation was symbolically important and demonstrates a new political stability based on the working relationship between the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Turkish military. Yet the newfound weight of the PKK issue may prove problematic for the United States -- and, in the long term, for Turkey as well.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter, Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Tomorrow, around 400,000 Omani men and women are expected to vote in elections for eighty-five seats on the nation\'s Majlis al-Shura, or Consultative Council. Among the conservative Arab states of the Persian Gulf region, Oman -- a key U.S. ally and exporter of oil and gas, strategically positioned opposite Iran -- is often considered to be the most politically progressive, perhaps even evolving slowly toward a constitutional monarchy. But the country remains dominated by its ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, and for now, the council is limited to advice on public services and infrastructure.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics, Elections
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia, Oman
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The October 20 announcement of Ali Larijani's resignation as Iran's chief nuclear negotiator and secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) has intensified pressure on President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad. Faced with criticism over the resignation, Tehran ensured that Larijani attended the Iran-European Union (EU) nuclear talks in Rome on October 23. His continued presence in the negotiations raises serious questions about who is in charge of Iran's nuclear policy and other key issues, making the regime's intentions even more of an enigma to the Europeans. As EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana stated after the Rome meeting, "I found the same Larijani I had met before, and he had the role of chief negotiator."
  • Topic: Government, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, Tehran, Rome
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On October 21, Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) operatives carried out an attack from northern Iraq into Turkey, killing twelve Turkish soldiers. This incident followed the killing of more than thirty people in recent weeks, including an incident in which the PKK pulled a dozen civilians off a public bus and shot them. The Turkish public has responded to the attacks by calling for incursion into northern Iraq to eliminate PKK camps there.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Turkey, Middle East, Armenia
  • Author: H. Akin Unver
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 9, the Turkish parliament elected Koksal Toptan, a deputy from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) as its speaker. The AKP, which won 46 percent of the vote in July 22 parliamentary elections, controls 341 seats in the 550-member Turkish parliament. Thus has Turkey begun a very busy political season, with serious issues put off since the April constitutional crisis over the AKP's attempt to appoint its foreign minister, Abdullah Gul, as president.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 31, in a contest widely seen as a tune-up for November's parliamentary balloting, Jordanians went to the polls for municipal elections. Amman had hoped these would showcase Jordan's relatively advanced style of representative democracy in the Middle East. Instead, in a surprise development, the Islamic Action Front (IAF) -- the political party of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood -- withdrew hours into the voting, claiming that government-sponsored fraud had "overstepped the bounds." Subsequently, independent and progovernment candidates swept the elections.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Jordan
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Jordanians go to the polls tomorrow to elect nearly 1,000 local representatives and 92 mayors. On their own, these elections are of minimal interest to Washington: municipalities have small budgets, limited responsibilities, and scant independence from the central government. But the voting comes just a month after the Hamas takeover of Gaza, during a spike in the violence in Iraq, and a week after a landslide victory for the Islamist-leaning Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the Turkish national elections. Adding to the significance of the Jordanian ballot is the fact that, after boycotting the 2003 contest, the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood's political party, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), will participate in this year's elections. A potential IAF victory highlights growing concern that Islamists are on a political roll throughout the Middle East, and that Jordan may be vulnerable.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Washington, Middle East, Gaza, Jordan
  • Author: Patrick Clawson, Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Reports that Ayatollah Ali Meshkini has either died or is on the brink of death shed light on the nature of power in Iran. Meshkini is speaker of the Assembly of Experts -- a body that, despite its traditionally minor role in Iranian politics, is constitutionally empowered to not only elect a new Supreme Leader if the post becomes vacant, but also to dismiss a sitting leader. Current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei cannot be pleased that this body may now be headed by deputy speaker Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, a former president known to be a wily comeback artist. Although Khamenei has taken full advantage of the constitution to make the Supreme Leader the ultimate arbiter of Iranian politics, that could change depending on his health and Rafsanjani's scheming.
  • Topic: Government, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi, Ben Fishman
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Hamas's victory in Gaza last week was a military coup of Fatah's security forces -- not a Palestinian civil war involving the majority of each faction's supporters. Fatah's armed forces collapsed in the face of a long-planned, well-executed campaign targeting the headquarters and leadership of the faction's security organizations. The coup and the grisly violence that accompanied it reveal much about Hamas's politics and long-term objectives as a movement.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gaza
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: In April 2006, key donors including the US A, EU, and Canada suspended international aid to the Palestinian Authority government (PA), following the overwhelming victory of Hamas in parliamentary elections. The Government of Israel had previously suspended the transfer of the tax and customs revenues it collects on behalf of the PA.
  • Topic: Government, Humanitarian Aid
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Thomas Donnelly, Colin Monaghan
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The White House has recently taken important steps to ensure that the tenets of the Bush Doctrine endure beyond the end of President George W. Bush's administration, including a new strategy in Iraq and an increase in the size of U.S. land forces. But as time grows short, the president needs to attend closely to three matters. The first of these—a surge in U.S. efforts in Afghanistan—was discussed in the February 2007 edition of National Security Outlook, is a need as obvious and pressing as Iraq and an important factor in the urgency of rebuilding land forces, especially the Army. The second and third factors are less frequently discussed but essential for the long-term viability of the Bush Doctrine and the continuation of the Pax Americana: articulating a strategy for the “Long War” in the greater Middle East and devising a genuinely global response to the rise of China. This issue of National Security Outlook is devoted to the second factor, the strategy for winning the Long War in the Middle East.
  • Topic: Government, National Security, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, China, Iraq, America, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Hesham Sallam
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iran's recent detention of 15 British sailors and marines, captured in the contested waters of the Shatt al-Arab near the Iranian coast, has exacerbated tensions between the United States and Iran. The incident also underscored the opacity of the Iranian political system; it is unclear on whose directive the Iranian navy acted. With U.S.–Iranian relations already strained due to the Islamic Republic's activities in Iraq and its nuclear ambitions, understanding the Islamic Republic's power structure and decision-making processes has become increasingly important. To answer the question "Who rules Ahmadinejad's Iran?" USIP's Iran Policy Forum convened an off-the-record discussion with leading specialists on Iranian politics. This USIPeace Briefing highlights the main points made during the discussion and does not represent the views of USIP, which does not advocate specific policies.
  • Topic: Government, Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Emanuele Ottolenghi
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: President Bush is in Europe this week, where his meetings -- several of which are directly linked to aspects of U.S. Middle East policy -- represent important opportunities to build diplomatic bridges. Today, he visits Prague to address a democracy promotion conference organized by former Czech president Vaclav Havel, former Israeli deputy prime minister Natan Sharansky, and former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar. The president's next stop is Heiligendamm, Germany, for the G8 meeting between the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Russia. On June 8, he continues on to Poland, Italy, Albania, and Bulgaria in order to boost new democracies, cement alliances in the former Communist Bloc, and meet with the Pope.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East
  • Author: Meral Varis Kiefer
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 30, 2007, the Turkish stock market slumped and the value of the lira dropped following a massive demonstration in Istanbul against the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, coupled with a statement by the military voicing support for secularism. Previously, the comparatively healthy Turkish economy had boosted the chances that the AKP, rooted in the country's Islamist movement, would achieve further electoral victories this year. On April 24, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan named Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul as his party's candidate for president -- a legislatively elected post. In the April 27 parliamentary session, however, the secular opposition boycotted the vote, and the AKP failed to muster the required two-thirds majority. The Turkish constitutional court subsequently annulled the vote, and the status of the presidential election is now uncertain. In the meantime, the parliament has moved legislative elections up from November to July 22.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 17, the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) approved the formation of a Hamas-Fatah national unity government by an 83–3 margin. This culminated a process that began in early February with the Mecca accord facilitated by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah. Many governments have withheld comment since that accord. One reason for their relative silence is reluctance to criticize a project associated with King Abdullah, who is emerging as a leading force in the Arab world and a linchpin of U.S. efforts to isolate Iran. Another is bated hope that the new government guidelines will be a marked improvement over those of the current Hamas government. Since Hamas's victory in January 2006 parliamentary elections, the focus has been on three principles proposed by the Quartet (the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the UN): (1) recognition of Israel, (2) disavowal of violence, and (3) adherence to past written commitments.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, Palestine, Arabia, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 8, 2007, a French court ordered the Wiesenthal Center's director for international relations in Paris to pay a symbolic €1 fine in a defamation suit brought by a U.S.-designated Hamas front organization. The Comité de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens (Committee for Welfare and Aid to the Palestinians) (CBSP) charged that it had been defamed by allegations that it finances terrorism and raises funds to support the families of suicide bombers recruited by Hamas. Atlhough the French court acknowledged that the 150 exhibits submitted by the defense "indeed constituted an impressive body of evidence," it nonetheless issued a symbolic ruling in favor of the plaintiff.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, Paris, France
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 20, the Lebanese cabinet—with a Hizballah-led opposition boycott—extended the term of the UN commission investigating the February 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri. While the commission's work can now continue for as long as one more year, any future decision about organizing an international tribunal to try those indicted for the murder remains hostage to a vote—requiring the opposition's assent—in the paralyzed Lebanese parliament. Meanwhile, Hizballah continues to press its demand for increased political power within a “national unity” government, threatening civil disobedience should its demands not be met.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Arabia, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As recently as December, Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas refused to back a proposal for a unity government offered by Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member and head of the Independent Palestine list Mustafa Barghouti. That deal was based on the concept of a technocratic compromise under which Hamas officials would not have held the prime ministership or led any ministries. Yet under the terms of the February 8 Mecca accord, the current prime minister, Hamas's Ismail Haniyeh, will stay on as head of the next government, and the only portfolios Hamas members specifically will not hold are the finance, foreign affairs, and interior ministries, which will be headed by independents acceptable to both sides. The key question then is why Fatah settled for a unity agreement in February that provided it far less gains than previous unity proposals rejected by Abbas.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Gaza, Mecca
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi, Dennis Ross, Ghaith al-Omari
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: There are three possibilities for the future of the troubled Hamas-Fatah relationship. The first is the default option, involving perpetual tension with progressively worsening violence—and no decisive victor. Each side mistakenly believes that it can swiftly defeat the other. Hamas believes it can win through continued rearmament and resistance, and that its political message resonates with its constituency. Its own efforts—along with Hizballah's perceived victory in summer 2006—have lent Hamas confidence in its current footing. For its part, Fatah believes it has historical claim to both power and representation, and that its rule of the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and the governmental security apparatus are ingredients of a decisive victory, regardless of the continuing arms race.
  • Topic: Government, Peace Studies, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As international pressure on the Iranian government toughens, the Iranian regime is facing more fragmentation at home. In an unprecedented action against a sitting president, 150 of the 290 members of the Iranian Majlis (parliament) signed a letter blaming President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad for raging inflation and high unemployment, and criticizing his travel to Latin America at a time when he has not sent the Majlis a draft budget for the fiscal year that starts March 21. Under Iranian law, this letter constitutes the first step required if the Majlis wants to remove the president from office.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Latin America
  • Author: Stephen Zunes
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: President George Bush gave his 2007 State of the Union address on January 23. While the speech covered many domestic issues, Bush also laid out his foreign policy approach to Iraq, Iran, terrorism, and democracy promotion. Excerpts from the president's speech are in italics; my comments follow.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Recent election results in several Arab countries have transformed formerly theoretical questions into pressing policy concerns: Can Islamist political parties operate within the boundaries of a democratic system? Will participation breed moderation? Strong showings by Hizbollah in Lebanon and by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt have made these questions seem less speculative. And the victory of Hamas in the first election it contested has made the questions impossible to avoid.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Islam, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Jordan, Mumbai
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown, Amr Hamzawy, Marina S. Ottaway
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: In today's Arab world, Islamists have assumed the role once played by national liberation movements and leftist parties. They are the mass movements of the twenty-first century. They are well embedded in the social fabric, understand the importance of good organization, and are thus able to mobilize considerable constituencies. Their ideology prescribes a simple solution to the persistent crises of contemporary Arab societies—a return to the fundamentals, or true spirit, of Islam. Indeed, “Islam is the solution” has been the longtime slogan of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. Like all successful movements, Islamists have been able to distill a long, complex philosophical tradition into simple slogans that have quickly supplanted the Pan-Arabism and socialism that dominated the region until the 1970s. As a result, in most countries Islamists represent the only viable opposition forces to existing undemocratic regimes.
  • Topic: Government, Human Rights, Islam, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Arab Countries
  • Author: Jonathan Morrow
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The cycle of violence in Iraq is, in part, constitutional: it derives from competing visions of the Iraqi state that have not been reconciled. An amendment to Iraq's constitution to delay the creation of new federal regions, together with a package of legislation and intergovernmental agreements on oil, division of governmental power between Baghdad and the regions, and the judiciary, may be enough to slow or even arrest this decline in the security situation, and may be achievable. A “government of national unity,” though desirable, will not by itself be able to generate the necessary constitutional consensus. Iraq's new legislature, the Council of Representatives, is now considering the process of constitutional amendment described in Article 142 of the constitution. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has announced the constitutional review as part of his government's platform. This amendment process, assuming it proceeds, will come in the wake of widespread opposition to the constitution from Sunni Arab Iraqis in the October 2005 referendum. It is expected that a Constitution Review Committee (CRC) will soon be appointed, in line with Article 142. To the extent that it was opposed by Sunni Arabs, the constitution lacks the essential criterion of any constitution: the consent of all major national communities. The 2005 Iraqi constitution may nonetheless, as a legal text, be a sufficient and necessary framework for the radically regionalized Iraqi polity which the constitution drafters envisaged. The constitutional challenge in Iraq is first about peacemaking, not state building. As the Iraqi parliament faces the challenge of appointing, mandating and staffing a CRC, the first, and essential, set of questions is therefore political: How can the amendment process be used as a vehicle to remedy the political failure of last year's constitution drafting process? How can consensus be built, and in particular how can Iraq's Sunni Arabs be encouraged to give their assent to the new federal Iraq? How can Iraq's Kurdish and Shia leaders be encouraged to make worthwhile constitutional concessions to Sunni Arab positions so as to elicit that consent? The second set of questions is legal: What are the minimum constitutional amendments needed, if any, to ensure that Iraq is a viable, if not a strong, state? To the extent that the Sunni Arab position has been one that purports to defend the Iraqi state, legal or technical improvements to the text that support Baghdad's ability to govern may draw support from Sunni Arabs, thereby generating clear political benefits. There are additional legal questions that, though not strictly related to the Sunni Arab problem, are pressing: in particular, What are the minimum constitutional amendments needed, if any, to ensure that the human rights of all Iraqis receive adequate protection? It is not only the Sunni Arabs who feel disenfranchised by the constitution; nationalists, some women's groups, and groups representing Iraq's minorities express similar views. It will be very difficult to pass constitutional amendments of any sort, especially those that seek to shift power from Iraq's regions to the central government. Regional interests have the upper hand, constitutionally and politically. There is no reason to expect that the constitution's Kurdish and Shia authors will see the need for constitutional amendments to the text that they themselves deliberately, if hastily, constructed. The referendum procedure for amendment is onerous, with a three-governorate veto power. High expectations of the amendment procedure will lead to disappointment and may amplify, rather than reduce, violence. For this reason, legal instruments other than constitutional amendments must be considered as ways to remedy the political and legal deficiencies of the constitution. A CRC should be established, with strong Sunni Arab membership. Given the pressing and complex nature of the necessary constitutional deal, the CRC should be mandated to make recommendations, where appropriate, not only for constitutional amendments, but also for (1) legislation, (2) intergovernmental agreements and, where appropriate (3) interparty agreements and (4) international agreements, all of which might encourage Sunni Arab political commitment to the Iraqi constitution and ensure viability for the Iraqi state. A three-part formula, concerning the creation of new regions, oil, and the delineation of powers between the central government and the regions, offers a way forward for the CRC to heal the wounds caused by the deficiencies in the 2005 drafting process. That formula would not require the Kurdistan party or the hitherto most influential Shia party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), to make major modifications to their constitutional positions.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Kurdistan
  • Author: Ghazi Ahmad Hamad
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces
  • Abstract: Prior to the Palestinian elections of 25 January 2006, Hamas had not been expecting at all that it would suddenly find itself in a position to govern. Until the last moment, the movement had anticipated to gain only some 25 seats. It had not hoped for more, but simply to become a strong opposition force in the new PLC (Palestinian Legislative Council). As such, it wanted to push political and administrative reforms.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine
  • Author: Amjad Atallah, David Makovsky, Graham T. Allison, Richard Haass, R. Nicholas Burns, Moshe Yaalon, Dan Meridor
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: I want to present some thoughts about the way we should look at modern Iran, the threat it poses to the United States, what we can do as Americans to confront that threat, and what your government is doing and should be doing along those lines.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Government, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: By electing a parliament dominated by Hamas, Palestinians have sharply challenged U.S. policy. The initial American reaction—undermining the new government—will leave the population in chaos, with various Palestinian groups vying for influence. Political constraints preclude anything but a Hamas government in the short term. But the Hamas victory should not be viewed as a defeat for the American vision of reform—which, indeed, may offer a path out of the current deadlock. The United States should develop a policy for the longer term to continue calming the Israeli- Palestinian conflict; maintain the Palestinian Authority; and work for political reform by focusing on the judiciary, media, and other institutions that are independent of the current regime.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: After Hamas kidnapped nineteen-year-old Corporal Gilad Shalit on June 25, Israeli forces launched an assault on Gaza to win his release. Arab condemnation was swift. Saudi Arabia's pro- government al-Jazira daily called Israel “a society of terrorists.” Egypt's state-controlled al-Gumhuriyah condemned Israel's “heinous crimes” in Gaza. Following a July 8 meeting in Tehran, foreign ministers from countries neighboring Iraq denounced the “brutal Israeli attacks.”
  • Topic: International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Tehran, Gaza, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Vance Serchuk
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: When rioting sparked by a fatal traffic accident involving the U.S. military suddenly broke out in Kabul in May, most in the city were taken by surprise. Less shocking was the response of the Afghan National Police (ANP) to the unrest. Rather than dispersing the mobs and restoring order, Kabul's cops were reported fleeing their posts and, in some cases, joining the looters. “The reaction of our police was really shameful,” acknowledged Jawed Ludin, chief of staff to President Hamid Karzai. Unfortunately, the sorry performance of the ANP was not an isolated event, but a reflection of a much bigger problem. Nearly five years since the ouster of the Taliban and more than three since the fall of Saddam, the Bush administration has repeatedly stumbled in its efforts to create effective foreign police forces. In marked contrast to the army-building efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have begun to yield encouraging results, the indigenous police in both countries appear stuck in a transition to nowhere, slaughtered by insurgents and infiltrated by militias and warlords.
  • Topic: Government, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Middle East, Taliban, Kabul
  • Author: Abdeslam Maghraoui
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Throughout the Muslim world, Islamist parties have emerged as major power brokers when allowed to compete in free elections. Yet their positions on many crucial governance issues remain unknown or ambiguous. Most debates on the potential to moderate and integrate Islamists in the democratic process have focused on Islam's compatibility with democracy or on debates over Islamists' normative commitment to democracy separately from the mechanics of achieving political power.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Government, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Ben Fishman, Mohammed Yagi
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Rumors of a newly formed Palestinian unity government have been ubiquitous in recent weeks, yet Hamas and Fatah appear to be closer than ever to reaching an agreement. Their unity talks survived even the tragic killing of twenty Palestinian civilians on November 8 in Beit Hanun, an incident that would ordinarily derail such negotiations. Both Hamas and Fatah understand the severity of the current political crisis and recognize they must move beyond this impasse to avoid further civil violence.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine
  • Author: Ehud Yaari
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The governments on both of our “hot” fronts, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority, are on the verge of change, with practical, immediate implications for Israel—and unfortunately, not positive ones. Rather, the storm clouds continue to gather on the strategic horizon.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Government, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza
  • Author: Robert Gates
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 24, 2004, Gates was interviewed by Bernard Gwertzman of the Council on Foreign Relations: Gwetzmann: “Do you have any predictions as to how Iraq is going to turn out?” Gates: “No. We have the old line in the intelligence business that everything we want to know is divided into two categories: secrets and mysteries.” Gwertzman: “And Iraq is which?” Gates: “Iraq is very much the latter.”
  • Topic: International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: David Makovsky, Dennis Ross, Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 25, 2006, Jeffrey White, David Makovsky, and Dennis Ross addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Jeffrey White is the Berrie Defense Fellow at The Washington Institute and the coauthor, with Michael Eisenstadt, of the Institute Policy Focus Assessing Iraq's Sunni Arab Insurgency. David Makovsky, senior fellow and director of The Washington Institute's Project on the Middle East Peace Process, is author of the Institute monograph Engagement through Disengagement: Gaza and the Potential for Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking. He, like Jeffrey White, recently returned from a trip to Israel. Dennis Ross, the Institute's counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow, is a former U.S. Middle East peace envoy and author of The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: David Makovsky, Dennis Ross, Moshe Yaalon
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 10, 2006, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon, David Makovsky and Dennis Ross addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. General Yaalon, a distinguished military fellow at the Institute, is the former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff. Mr. Makovsky, senior fellow and director of The Washington Institute's Project on the Middle East Peace Process, is author of the Institute monograph Engagement through Disengagement: Gaza and the Potential for Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking. Ambassador Ross, the Institute's counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow, is a former U.S. Middle East peace envoy and author of The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Rana Shaab, Nicholas Ravella, Nathan Hodson, Daniel Fink
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The outbreak of hostilities after Hizballah's July 12 raid into Israel, in which it captured two Israeli soldiers and killed eight others, has elicited a variety of responses from government officials and other prominent figures throughout the Middle East. Though it is not surprising to see harsh statements about Israel, it is unusual to see Arab leaders criticizing Hizballah for its role in precipitating the conflict. The usually cautious Saudi authorities implicitly criticized Hizballah for adventurism; is seems that Riyadh may be wary of Iranian influence. The following is a sampling of Middle Eastern reactions, compiled from various regional and international media sources.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Lebanon
  • Author: Samer Abu Libdeh
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Even while Israelis and Palestinians are locked in deepening conflict over the kidnapping of a young Israeli soldier and the future of the Hamas government, political life on the East Bank of the Jordan River is increasingly focused on internal Jordanian concerns.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Jordan
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's pursuit of a referendum on the Palestinian National Accord has been widely interpreted by commentators and reporters as a power play designed to circumvent the Hamas-led government and force it to implicitly accept Israel's existence. But while the process of conducting a referendum -- the legality of which remains questionable -- would shift power away from the government and the legislature, the actual text of the document, which a group of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails negotiated, more closely resembles the political program of Hamas than that of Abbas. Moreover, Hamas has recovered from its initial surprise at the referendum initiative and has mounted an effective response, first by challenging the legality of a referendum, then by dragging Abbas into negotiations over the substance of the Accord. Despite a possible compromise that may emerge in coming days and shift the composition of the government or modify the language of the Accord, Hamas has used the internal Palestinian debate over a referendum to secure its internal legitimacy and advance many of its governing priorities.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: William McCoy, James Jeffrey
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 18, 2006, Ambassador James Jeffrey and Maj. Gen. William McCoy addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Ambassador Jeffrey is senior advisor to the secretary of state and coordinator for Iraq policy at the U.S. Department of State. He previously served as deputy chief of mission and charge d'affairs in Baghdad, ambassador to Albania, and deputy chief of mission in Turkey and Kuwait. General McCoy is commander of the Gulf Region Division, Army Corp of Engineers, in Baghdad, where he oversees most of the U.S. government's major infrastructure projects in Iraq. Previously, he served as assistant commandant of the U.S. Army Engineer School, held command and staff positions in various combat engineer units, and served in Saudi Arabia. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Turkey, Middle East, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 7, Lebanese Druze leader and member of parliament Walid Jumblat told reporters in Cairo that Hizballah should disarm. These comments came just four days after Jumblat offered his assistance to the Syrian opposition in establishing "a democratic and free Syria." Jumblat has always been an enigmatic and unpredictable interlocutor, and his recent statements on Syria and Hizballah typify his disregard for the conventions of the Lebanese political establishment. While many Lebanese may quietly support Jumblat's truth telling, his statements are sure to increase his list of powerful enemies.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 18, the Jordanian government announced it had discovered a cache of weapons -- including rockets, C-4 explosives, and small arms -- in a northern Jordanian town. Jordanian authorities said the weapons belonged to Hamas and had entered Jordan from Syria. Subsequently, Jordan arrested ten Hamas militants and cancelled a scheduled visit by Palestinian Authority (PA) foreign minister Mahmoud al-Zahar, a Hamas leader. While the discovery of these weapons underscores Hamas's continuing efforts to prepare for terrorist acts even while it proclaims a tahdiya (period of calm), it also has important implications for internal Jordanian politics and the rising influence of Jordan's own Islamist movement.
  • Topic: Government, Religion, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Syria, Jordan
  • Author: Ben Fishman
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 7, the State Department announced its plan for restructuring aid to the Palestinians in response to the formation of a government led by Hamas, which has refused Quartet demands to recognize Israel, cease violence and terror, and accept past diplomatic agreements. In order to target assistance toward the Palestinian people rather than the Hamas leadership, the United States will now provide the vast majority of its aid (some $203 million) for humanitarian needs, including food, health, and education programs primarily administered by United Nations agencies such as the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the UN World Food Program. An additional $42 million is allocated for "securing and expanding democracy," in an effort that "protects and promotes moderation and democratic alternatives to Hamas." Assisting the development of such a peaceful and democratic alternative -- as distinct from an immediate overthrow of Hamas -- will require the United States to support programs driven internally by Palestinians that can foster a broad-based political movement. Bolstering a centralized Fatah-like organization run by elites will only lead to further corruption and the continued alienation of the Palestinian public.
  • Topic: International Relations, Corruption, Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Palestine
  • Author: Emily Hunt
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Sami al-Arians plea agreement, unsealed last week in Tampa, Florida, has been almost universally billed as a domestic counterterrorism victory. Al-Arian pleaded guilty to providing financial and material support to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a U.S. specially designated terrorist group, and agreed to be deported. He is one of a small but important number of U.S. deportees (out of approximately 200,000 annually) who have connections to international terrorism.Many in the United States will say good riddance to people like al-Arian, a sentiment shared by a substantial portion of Europeans whose governments are increasing their own efforts to send terrorist suspects back to their countries of origin. Since the July 7 London transit bombings, Britain has signed deportation agreements with Jordan, Libya, and Lebanon, and is negotiating a similar one with Algeria. Spain, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands have all recently introduced or passed legislation that will facilitate deportation on national security grounds, while the French for their part wonder why other Western democracies have been so slow to catch on. France has been deporting terrorist suspects and other extremists for more than a decade, including more than a dozen radical imams in 2005 alone. American and European deportation policies differ in key areas. U.S. policy is aimed at lawbreakers generally, whereas Europe, because of its more ingrained challenge of domestic radicalism, targets extremist imams and other purveyors of jihadist ideology who can have a pervasive radicalizing effect on a community. Nevertheless, the same rationale underpins deportation on both sides of the Atlantic, and enthusiasm for the policy seems almost universal. Sending problem immigrants back to their native countries allows Western governments to deal with extremists outside the framework of domestic legal codes that remain woefully ill-equipped to address the threat of terrorism. Deportation minimizes the need to adopt draconian measures such as indefinite detention. It is counterterrorism on the cheap, and has become the policy of first choice for domestic law enforcement agencies that lack the personnel and resources to conduct adequate surveillance on all potential terrorists. But although deportation of terrorist suspects may be the most appealing of several bad policy options, it is by no means a perfect solution. Deportation is designed to displace the threat, but it may ultimately create a host of other challenges for the West in Muslim countries and ultimately on its own territory.
  • Topic: Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Britain, United States, America, Europe, Middle East, France, Libya, London, Palestine, Germany, Algeria, Spain, Lebanon, Italy, Jordan, Netherlands
  • Author: John Vines
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 13, 2006, Lt. Gen. John Vines addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. General Vines served until January 2006 as commander of the Multinational Corps–Iraq (MNC–I). The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Washington, Middle East
  • Author: Elizabeth Young
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As the international donor community struggles to determine its stance on aid to the Palestinians under the Hamas government, it is important to remember the extent to which the Palestinian economy is dependent upon Israeli decisions. Last year the international community gave the Palestinians $1.4 billion in aid; Israel has the potential to affect at least that sum through its policies on trade, Palestinian workers in Israel, and the tax revenue it collects.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In a surprise move prior to Israel's March 28 election, Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert unveiled a proposal that Israeli settlers be consolidated into West Bank settlement blocs largely adjacent to the Green Line. A week after the announcement, Israeli public reaction suggests his gamble seems to have paid off. According to a Yediot Ahronot poll released on March 17, Israelis favor Olmert's unilateralist proposal by a margin of 52 percent to 45 percent. Moreover, Olmert's poll standing was not negatively impacted by the proposal, despite the fact that it could mean the removal of an estimated 60,000 settlers from dozens of settlements scattered across the larger part of the West Bank outside Israel's security barrier. (Inside the Israeli security barrier, there are approximately 193,000 settlers, mostly in blocs, in the 8 percent of the West Bank largely adjacent to the pre-1967 boundaries. By comparison, President Clinton's final proposal in 2000 involved Israel keeping 5 percent of the land.) An Olmert security advisor and former Shin Bet head, Avi Dichter, says the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) will not be withdrawn from the West Bank. Olmert was able to use his commanding lead to answer critics who say that the new party leader lacks Ariel Sharon's track record and therefore the authority to ask the public to trust his decisions. In the March 17 poll, Olmert's Kadima stood to win 39 seats in the 120-seat Knesset; Labor was polling at 19 seats and Likud, 15 seats. Olmert's standing was undoubtedly assisted by Israel's March 15 operation to seize from a Jericho prison the assassins of Israeli cabinet minister Rehavam Zeevi. Olmert hopes the operation will burnish his security credentials and undercut Netanyahu's argument that he is uniquely tough enough to challenge Hamas. (Olmert needs to be concerned about the 22 percent of Israelis who are undecided—the equivalent of twenty-five Knesset seats.)
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Emily Hunt
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As Israelis assess the implications of Hamas's victory in January elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council, a new threat may be developing in Lebanon. Al-Qaeda–linked terrorists have been present in Lebanon for a decade, but recent statements by Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi suggest that the dual objectives of destabilizing Arab regimes and targeting Israel proper are becoming top al-Qaeda priorities. Al-Zarqawi–linked terrorists in Lebanon have already engaged in low-level targeting of Israeli and Lebanese interests, yet several obstacles may hinder their ability to launch significant attacks in or from Lebanon. The Lebanese government, although weak, has a clear interest in preventing both internally and externally directed al-Qaeda activity. The dynamic among Hizballah, the Palestinians, and al-Qaeda remains more ambiguous, but early signs suggest potential antagonism among the groups. Together, Israel and the United States may be able to help Lebanon contain this emerging threat.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: At a time when attention is focused on the problems democracy has brought in one part of the Middle East, such as the Palestinian territories, it has been easy to overlook how democratic processes were key to resolving a crisis in another Middle Eastern country: Kuwait. The January 15 death of Kuwait's emir, or ruler, Sheikh Jaber brought to power the physically and mentally incapacitated Sheikh Saad al-Abdullah al-Sabah. But the crisis engendered by his ill health and his refusal to abdicate was resolved quickly through democratic processes. On January 24, the parliament of the oil-rich Persian Gulf state of Kuwait exercised a previously unused constitutional power and voted to oust Sheikh Saad. The new emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, is expected to be confirmed by parliament on January 29, and is now under pressure from some members of parliament to choose a prime minister from outside the ranks of the ruling al-Sabah family.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Kuwait
  • Author: Michael Young
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: When Shiite ministers recently “suspended” their participation in the Lebanese cabinet, though without resigning, it highlighted an increasingly apparent reality in post-Syria Lebanon: Two powerful camps coexist today. One, led by Hizballah, in alliance with the Amal movement, sits atop a Shiite community generally, though not unanimously, supporting their positions. The other reflects a cross-communal parliamentary majority, the cornerstone of which is the Sunni-led Future Movement of Saad Hariri, son of the murdered former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria