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  • Author: Robert Sedgwick
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: CIAO Focus
  • Institution: Columbia International Affairs Online
  • Abstract: A brief overview and timeline examining the origins and trajectory of the little known terror group that was initially shunned and finally disowned by al-Qaeda as it developed into the world's most feared militant Muslim organization.
  • Topic: Islam, Post Colonialism, Terrorism, War, Counterinsurgency, ISIS, Islamic State
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Manata Hashemi
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Regional Studies: CIRS
  • Abstract: Disproportionate levels of youth unemployment and economic marginalization in the Middle East have prompted many regional observers to conclude that socioeconomically disadvantaged Middle Eastern youth are more prone to radicalization and thereby constitute a threat to national and international security. The general consensus in these accounts is that low levels of occupational opportunities leave poor youth more disposed to frustration and fatalism, which in turn are strongly linked to radical politics. Alternatively, scholars in the language of rational choice argue that these young people engage in a deliberate calculation of means and ends in order to attain the power and wealth necessary for upward mobility. These scholars posit poor youth as rational, autonomous agents whose goals are defined by individual interests and preferences. However, these respective theories are unable to account for 1) the absence of political radicalism among poor youth in many countries of the Middle East, and 2) the presence of seemingly irrational acts among these youth that neither maximize self-interest, nor necessarily reflect individual preferences. Given the shortcomings of each of these prevailing theories, this paper, instead, synthesizes these two approaches and assesses the social conduct of poor youth in the Middle East from the perspective of aspirations-bounded rationality. From this vantage point, the behaviors of poor youth are not determined by individual economic interests or by pure emotion, but by aspirations. This paper proposes that these youth struggle and create strategies to improve their lives that are conditioned by experience and observation of those who inform their social worlds.
  • Topic: Youth Culture, Employment
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Mathilde Dugit-Gros
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: Has Western involvement in the Arab Spring generated more scepticism in North Africa and the Middle East about foreign influence? This study compares public opinion about foreign influence across five MENA countries: Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and Tunisia. Using data sets from the second and third waves of the Arab Barometer, the study compares the periods pre- and post-2011.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Cornelius Adebahr
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: After years of tension, sanctions, and deadlocked negotiations, Hassan Rouhani, Iran's relatively moderate new president, has provided an opening for improved relations between the Islamic Republic and the West. While Rouhani has not ushered in a new Iran, Tehran has adopted a more conciliatory tone on its nuclear program since he took office. This shift is more than just talk, but the West will have to carefully calibrate its response to determine whether Rouhani's changed rhetoric signals the beginning of a new direction for Iran.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Islam, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Robert D. Lamb, Sadika Hameed, Kathryn Mixon
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The United States has a number of interests and values at stake in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, or "South Asia" for the purposes of this analysis. But it also has a broader set of such concerns at stake regionally (in the greater Middle East, Eurasia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia)—and, of course, globally as well. Any long- term policy or strategy frame- work for South Asia needs to be built around the global and regional concerns that are most likely to persist across multiple changes in U.S. political leadership regardless of political party.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Foreign Policy, Islam, War, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia, Middle East, India
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Sam Khazai
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: As events in late December 2013 and early 2014 have made brutally clear, Iraq is a nation in crisis bordering on civil war. It is burdened by a long history of war, internal power struggles, and failed governance. Is also a nation whose failed leadership is now creating a steady increase in the sectarian divisions between Shi'ite and Sunni, and the ethnic divisions between Arab and Kurd.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Insurgency, Fragile/Failed State, Governance, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Ari Kerkkänen
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Few would dispute the assertion that human security has failed in Syria. Authoritarian regimes in the Arab world have had well-documented deficits in human security emerging from coercive internal politics, a lack of respect for human rights such as freedom of expression, and limited freedom from fear and want. The concept of human security has developed mainly within the domain of UN development policy, but it has also made headway in security policy, being advocated as one approach in international crisis management and peacekeeping. Less attention has been paid to its adaptability in forming the basis for the internal security policy of any given state. The main argument of this paper is that human security principles can be the cornerstones of state security, potentially preventing, mitigating, and remedying security issues within a state that could lead to societal upheaval. The argument is presented by outlining some major developments in the history of modern Syria up to its present state of civil war. The paper shows that the security paradigm exercised in Syria has led to a double failure in which human insecurity has resulted in turmoil for ordinary people and has shattered the authoritarian governance. The paper suggests that the rebuilding of security sectors must be based on the principles of human security, not only in Syria but also in the Arab world at large.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Human Rights, Governance, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Katherine Zimmerman
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Yemen is at a pivotal moment today, three years after the outbreak of popular protests, and the future of America's strategy against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is on the line. Yemen is in the midst of a political transition process that will eventually reform and decentralize the government. But the success of the effort is by no means assured. The reforms will not, in any case, address the deteriorating socioeconomic conditions that provide fertile ground for al Qaeda. Moreover, the central state, never fully able to exercise its sovereignty throughout the country, is weaker than it was before 2011. Opposition groups, which have turned to violence in the past, may still seek to form independent states of their own, potentially collapsing the fragile Yemeni state structure entirely. American interests are bound up in this process by the fact that AQAP is among the most virulent al Qaeda affiliates that poses a direct threat to the U.S. homeland. Syria, Iran, and other foreign and domestic policy issues are distracting the United States and its regional partners from sustained engagement in Yemen. Without international support, the country is much less likely to ride this transition process smoothly and our security interests will be severely harmed.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Danielle Pletka, Frederick W. Kagan, J. Matthew McInnis
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: A review of the soft-power strategies of both the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Middle East and Afghanistan makes clear a disturbing fact: Tehran has a coherent, if sometimes ineffective strategy to advance its aims in the Middle East and around the world. The United States does not. This project began with two tour d'horizon reviews of Iranian activities throughout areas Iran has, by its actions, defined as its sphere of influence. From the Persian Gulf through the Levant and into neighboring Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic has consistently invested in soft- and hard-power activities designed not only to extend its own influence but also to limit both American and hostile Arab aims. And while the latter part of the Ahmadinejad administration saw waning rewards for Tehran's efforts-a result more of the growing Sunni-Shia divide in the Middle East than of changes in strategy-the continued existence of a coherent Iranian strategy to dominate or destabilize the region should not be ignored. This report, the culmination of a process of both examining Iranian actions and surveying American policy, policy responses, and soft-power strategies in the region, focuses on the US side of the equation. Despite the Obama administration's commitment to replace hard power with smart power, what the United States pursues in the Middle East is a set of incoherent, ineffective, and increasingly irrelevant policies.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Islam, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Iran, Central Asia, Middle East
  • Author: Claude Bruderlein
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The Syrian refugee crisis represents one of the greatest humanitarian challenges the international community has faced over the recent years, prompting record-high levels of international aid. In view of the complexity of the political and social environment in which these challenges arise and the historical scale of the population affected, innovative and creative programmatic responses are essential to address the short and middle-term needs of refugees and reducing instability in the Middle East region. Over 20 students from Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard School of Public Health participated in "Assessment of the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Jordan and Critical Review of the National and International Responses," a winter field study course in Jordan supported by the Middle East Initiative and led by Professor Claude Bruderlein. Read more about their learning experience below and in the attached report.
  • Topic: Human Welfare, Humanitarian Aid, International Cooperation, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Richard Youngs
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Politics in the Middle East are increasingly polarized and fragmented. The Arab Spring's citizen-led spirit of reform is still alive, but societies are increasingly torn apart by bitter tensions between Sunni and Shia, secular liberals and Islamists, and governments and civil society. As polarization has deepened, the concern with engaging in dialogue to bridge differences has intensified. The relationship between these mediation efforts and support for systemic reform will be a pivotal factor in the Middle East's future political trajectory.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Democratization, Islam, Regime Change, Governance, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Emmanuel Comolet
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Jordan is in the eye of the Arab cyclone. It remains stable while surrounded by chaotic political situations in Syria, Iraq, Palestine and the Sinai Peninsula. Jordan has not experienced the massive demonstrations aimed at regime change that have been seen elsewhere in the region, and its relative stability has enabled it to cash in on the geo-political services it provides. These services include: hosting refugees from Palestine, Iraq or Syria; remaining a reliable ally for many international powers; featuring a strong army that plays a stabilizing role in the region; serving as an intermediary when neighboring countries need a host or a dealmaker; and providing qualified Jordanian workers to fill open vacancies for companies and countries, especially in the Gulf. The current stability in Jordan matches well its historic capacity to resist and adapt to shocks. However, the contemporary situation of the labor market reveals that the weaknesses observed in the countries having experienced revolutions (e.g., Tunisia and Egypt) are also present in Jordan; labor market participation is low with very few women active, and the unemployment rate of educated young people is worrisome. Both the number of Jordanians working abroad and the number of migrant workers in Jordan show the discrepancy between demand and supply of labor in Jordan. This could become problematic, since the economic situation has been worsening, notably with fewer public jobs available. Hence there is a need for international donors to keep supporting Jordan in a difficult regional environment, for the government of Jordan to wittily manage the balance between Transjordanians and West Bankers in the near future and for new workers to alter their expectations in searching for opportunities outside the public sector.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Democratization, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Iraq, America, Middle East, Arabia, Syria, Tunisia
  • Author: Enrico Carisch, Loraine Rickard-Martin
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: This manual is intended as a tool for officials of UN member states, international organizations, companies, and corporations to support sanctions implementation. The manual delivers to frontline actors in the public and private sectors specific guidance to enable more effective compliance with UN non-proliferation sanctions on Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North Korea, United Nations
  • Author: Richard Outzen
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: Dating from Bashar al-Asad's first suppression of mass demonstrations in April 2011, the war in Syria is now 3 years old, has killed more than 130,000 Syrians, and displaced nine million Syrians, two million as refugees into neighboring countries. Foreign intervention has increasingly shaped the course of the fighting and will continue to have substantial regional consequences. The complexity of this bitter, nominally internal struggle has dampened American enthusiasm for joining the fray or even paying much attention to Syria, notwithstanding the chemical weapon attacks on Gouta, east of Damascus, last August, which captured the attention of the American people, media, and policy community. With an international taboo broken and a Presidential redline crossed, public debate spiked in August-September 2013 over U.S. interests in Syria and the limits on what we will do to secure them. Debate did not result in a consensus for action.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Raphaël Lefèvre
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Syria's civil war is having a dramatic impact on its neighbors, particularly Lebanon. The spillover is glaring in the northern city of Tripoli, where street violence is rising, sectarianism is at unprecedented levels, and Sunni extremism is flourishing. This instability threatens to spread to other areas of the country. Yet, Lebanon's problems have as much to do with domestic dynamics as with the unrest in Syria. Lebanese policymakers must address a number of issues that have long been ignored.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Robert M. Shelala II
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The waterways of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA region) are among the most important in the world. They facilitate the export of large volumes of oil and natural gas from the region, while also bridging traders in the Eastern and Western worlds through the Red Sea and Suez Canal. While political tensions in the region have at times played out in these waterways since the mid-20th century, their vulnerability has been exasperated in recent years by the failure of bordering governments to promote internal stability, the lack of adequate maritime security capabilities of nearby states, and the potential naval threats posed by the government of Iran.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, International Security, Military Strategy, Maritime Commerce
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Over the years since the formation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Southern Gulf states and the US have developed a de facto strategic partnership based on a common need to deter and defend against any threat from Iran, deal with regional instability in countries like Iraq and Yemen, counter the threat of terrorism and extremism, and deal with the other threats to the flow of Gulf petroleum exports.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Defense Policy, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia, North America
  • Author: Laura Diaz Anadon, Afreen Siddiqi, Farah Ereiqat
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Water resources development options are usually selected on a least-cost basis. While economic considerations are dominant in choosing projects, there are also a mix of other factors including social demands, political expediency, social equity, and environmental considerations that impact final decisions and development of water supply systems. Understanding local priorities in water resource management decisions can allow for forming expectations of future regional water availability. In this research, we propose that future water availability in arid regions may be assessed by considering key projects that have been identified or planned by regional experts. Using Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis methods as a framework to organize set of decision criteria and their relative salience, the likelihood of selection (and development) of a project can be determined and used to form expectations of future regional water availability. We use this approach in a case study for Jordan, and find that large-scale desalination projects–that have been in the planning books for decades-are now most likely to be pursued and implemented in the country. Finally, we discuss strengths, limitations, and the general applicability of this method for assessing future water availability in other arid regions.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Environment, Natural Resources, Water
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Bruce Jones, David Steven, Emily O'Brien
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: On December 16, 2013, Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, Saudi Arabia's powerful former intelligence chief, gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal. He was speaking out after a turbulent four months in Middle East and Persian Gulf diplomacy, diplomacy that culminated in an interim nuclear deal between Iran and the major powers. Prince Turki, long a close friend to the United States, used the interview to blast American policy. He was critical of U.S. strategy in the region as a whole, but particularly vehement about leaving Saudi Arabia out of the loop as the United States engaged in secret bilateral diplomacy with Iran. "How can you build trust when you keep secrets from what are supposed to be your closest allies?" he fumed.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Economics, Energy Policy, International Trade and Finance, Oil
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Ana Villellas
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: The Kurds in Syria, Turkey and Iraq face complex challenges. Among the current Kurdish realities, the emergence of Kurdish self-governing areas in northern Syria controlled by what is considered to be the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) generates considerable uncertainty. The complex civil war in Syria and antagonism between the Kurdish Democratic Union Party and a fragmented Kurdish political spectrum generate many questions as to the future of these Kurdish areas in Syria. In the case of Turkey, old and new internal and regional factors have threatened the dialogue under way between Turkey and the PKK. These include the lack of clear state policies to resolve the conflict, Turkey's current internal crisis, the complications of cross-border dynamics, and the mutual impact of the Kurdish questions in Syria and Turkey. In Iraq, tensions continue between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the country's central administration. The consolidation of Kurdish autonomy – with new elements such as the energy agreement between Erbil and Ankara – continues to generate uncertainty in a context where many issues remain unresolved.
  • Topic: Civil War, Economics, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Ahmed Ali
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Iraq's 2014 national elections are taking place at a difficult time. The country is at a crossroads, presented with the possibility of widely different futures. Deteriorating security conditions frame political thought in ways that harken back to Iraq's first national elections in 2005. The Iraqi state does not hold control of territory in some of Iraq's key political provinces, such as Anbar, Ninewa, and Diyala. The disenfranchisement of Iraq's Arab Sunnis; the rising threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS); and the activation of Ba'athist groups collectively discourage electoral participation.
  • Topic: Islam, Armed Struggle, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Marisa Sullivan
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Hezbollah's deepening involvement in Syria is one of the most important factors of the conflict in 2013 and 2014. Since the beginning of 2013, Hezbollah fighters have operated openly and in significant numbers across the border alongside their Syrian and Iraqi counterparts. They have enabled the regime to regain control of rebel-held areas in central Syria and have improved the effectiveness of pro-regime forces. The impact of Hezbollah's involvement in Syria has been felt not just on the battlefield, where the regime now has momentum in many areas, but also in Lebanon where growing sectarian tensions have undermined security and stability.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Jessica Lewis
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Anbar is not the only front in Iraq on which Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), now operating as the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), is fighting in 2014. ISIS has also established a governorate in Diyala. Its spokesman has named the province the central front in the sectarian conflict he has urged. The security situation and sectarian tension in Diyala province are grave. ISIS has returned to fixed fighting positions within Muqdadiyah, Baqubah, and the Diyala River Valley. Shi'a militias are now active in these areas as well. Increasing instances of population displacement demonstrate the aggregate effect of targeted violence by both groups. It is important to estimate the effects of this displacement and the presence of armed groups within Diyala's major cities in order to understand how deteriorated security conditions in this province will interfere with Iraq's upcoming parliamentary elections. Furthermore, violence in Diyala has historically both driven and reflected inter-ethnic and inter-sectarian violence in other mixed areas of Iraq, including Baghdad. Diyala is therefore a significant bellwether for how quickly these types of violence will spread to other provinces.
  • Topic: Security, Ethnic Conflict, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Valerie Szybala
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Damascus is the Syrian regime's center of gravity. The capital of Syria has long been viewed by the rebel forces as the key to winning the war in Syria, and its loss is unthinkable for Bashar al-Assad. Thus the struggle for Damascus is existential for the regime as well as the opposition. An operational understanding of the battle for Damascus is critical to understanding the imminent trajectory of the war. This report details the course of the conflict as it engulfed Damascus in 2013; laying out the regime's strategy and describing the political and military factors that shaped its decisions on the battlefield.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Civil War, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: In a region of troubles, the negotiations over Iran's nuclear program stand out. The first-step agreement, signed in November 2013, broke a decade of futile diplomatic forays punctuated by mutual escalation. The product of a rare confluence of political calendars and actors, it set a framework for a balanced arms-control agreement that could form the basis of a comprehensive nuclear accord. But reasons for caution abound. It is easier to pause than to reverse the escalation pitting centrifuges against sanctions. Mistrust remains deep, time is short, and the process remains vulnerable to pressure from domestic and regional detractors. In bringing the sides together, the accord revealed the chasm that separates them. Success is possible only with political will to isolate the deal – at least for now – from its complex regional context. It will ultimately be sustainable only if the parties, building on its momentum, recognise that their rival's legitimate interests need to be respected. But a far-reaching resolution of differences will be possible only after a relatively narrow, technical nuclear agreement.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: With the Syrian regime and opposition locked in a see-saw battle, Kurdish forces have consolidated control over large portions of the country's north. Their principal players, the Democratic Union Party (Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat, PYD) and its armed wing, the People's Protection Units (Yekîneyên Parastina Gel, YPG), now dominate three large, non-contiguous enclaves of Kurdish-majority territory along the Turkish border, over which the PYD proclaimed in November 2013 the transitional administration of Rojava (Western Kurdistan). Kurdish governance is unprecedented in Syria and for the PYD, an offshoot of the Turkish Kurdish insurgent movement PKK, from which it draws ideological, organisational and military support. But it is unclear whether this is a first step toward stability and the Kurdish aspiration for national recognition, or merely a respite while the civil war focuses elsewhere. The PYD alone will not determine the fate of Syria's north, but it could greatly increase its chances by broadening its popular appeal and cooperating with other local forces.
  • Topic: Security, Ethnic Conflict, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Syrian crisis crashed onto neighbouring Turkey's doorstep three years ago and the humanitarian, policy and security costs continue to rise. After at least 720,000 Syrian refugees, over 75 Turkish fatalities and nearly $3 billion in spending, frustration and fatigue are kicking in. Turkey's humanitarian outreach, while morally right and in line with international principles, remains an emergency response. Ankara needs to find a sustainable, long-term arrangement with the international community to care for the Syrians who arrive daily. While spared the worst of the sectarian and military spillover, Turks are reminded of the security risks by deadly car bombs and armed incidents on their territory, especially as northern Syria remains an unpredictable no-man's-land. The conflict was not of its making, but Ankara has in effect become a party. Unable to make a real difference by itself, it should focus on protecting its border and citizens, invigorate recent efforts to move back from the ruling party's Sunni Muslim-oriented foreign policy to one of sectarian neutrality and publicly promote a compromise political solution in Syria.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Refugee Issues
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Stefan Lehne
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: As the financial crisis recedes and the European Union (EU) regains a measure of internal stability, pressure in Europe\'s neighborhood is on the rise. The Ukraine crisis and turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa have elevated foreign policy to the top of the EU\'s agenda. Whether the EU can make its external action more effective will depend in large part on institutional decisions made in 2014—the selection of a new leadership team and the reorganization of the European Commission.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Economics, Human Rights, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ukraine, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Nadwa Al-Dawsari, Erica Gaston
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Yemen has long had a vibrant tradition of community-based dispute resolution, particularly tribal dispute resolution, which has become even more dominant in the transition period that followed the 2011 Arab Spring protests. As the Yemeni state has struggled to regain political equilibrium, rule of law has deteriorated and criminality and armed conflict have increased. State institutions have weakened and now struggle to meet citizens' demands. In response, citizens increasingly turn to traditional or community-based dispute resolution for their justice needs. In addition to long-standing actors or mechanisms, a number of new dispute resolution actors have emerged. Some areas have seen a retribalization, while in others, armed actors dominate. Although alternative dispute resolution actors have been an important gap-filler during this time, they have also found their authority challenged. The political uncertainty and the rise in lawlessness have simultaneously weakened both formal and informal actors' ability to resolve disputes sustainably and to prevent conflict. The result has been more limited options for peaceful dispute resolution overall, which feeds instability and has the potential to exacerbate broader conflict dynamics and weaknesses in the rule of law. Strengthening the options for lower level dispute resolution and conflict prevention are critical to restoring stability. Because of the centrality of these community-based justice mechanisms in Yemen, efforts to strengthen rule of law must take a more holistic view of justice provision to include these mechanisms and practices. Program interventions should not preference or target one system over the other but instead take an integrated approach and consider the significant role that alternative dispute resolution plays. Critical elements include supporting greater understanding of and dialogue with dispute resolution actors, incorporating alternative dispute resolution into the justice sector strategy, and focusing on reforms and adaptions on both sides.
  • Topic: Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although President Rouhani has persuaded the Supreme Leader to adjust the IRGC's economic functions, he has not challenged its role in shaping Iran's nuclear policy. President Hassan Rouhani's relationship with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is a central dynamic in the country's politics and economy. As always, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ultimately determines the roles of the president and the IRGC, so Rouhani has sought to pursue his economic imperatives without crossing the Supreme Leader or the military elite on the nuclear issue.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Israeli leader showed himself capable of making bold policy reversals when he felt the country's welfare as a democratic Jewish state was at stake. Former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, at death's door today at age eighty-five after eight years in a stroke-induced coma, incarnated many of the contradictory dimensions of his entire country: courageous, and so unavoidably controversial; steadfast in his core convictions, yet flexible, impulsive, and even unpredictable in carrying them out; supremely self-confident, yet always acutely concerned about his country's security.
  • Topic: Armed Struggle, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Ehud Yaari
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: With Israeli acquiescence to de facto alterations of the 1979 peace treaty, Egypt has deployed substantial military forces into the Sinai to combat terrorists. But Israel remains hesitant about Cairo's inclination to increase pressure on Hamas in Gaza. Over the past year, Israel and Egypt have used a little-known, legally permissible understanding -- the Agreed Activities Mechanism -- to bypass restrictions on the number and type of Egyptian forces permitted in much of the Sinai. In doing so, they have made de facto modifications to their 1979 peace treaty without resorting to the diplomatically risky procedure of "reviewing" the treaty itself. As a result, considerable Egyptian army forces are now constantly deployed in central and eastern Sinai (Areas B and C of the peninsula, respectively), in a manner and scope never envisaged by the teams that negotiated the treaty more than three decades ago. Going forward, this new reality on the ground is unlikely to be reversed and is bound to have profound consequences for Egyptian-Israeli security cooperation, Cairo's ongoing counterterrorism campaign, and the fate of Hamas in the neighboring Gaza Strip.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Terrorism, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza, Egypt, Sinai Peninsula, Cairo
  • Author: Adel El-Adawy
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Given the limitations and internal divisions of Egypt's various power centers, neither the military nor any other single institution is solely in charge at the moment.
  • Topic: Regime Change, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Andrew J. Tabler
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Given that Assad and his backers want to gut the transition process called for in the Geneva Communique, Washington should plan to take other steps in parallel to the Geneva process.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, International Cooperation, Armed Struggle, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Geneva, Britain, United States, Iran, Washington, Turkey, Middle East, France, London, Germany, Saudi Arabia, United Nations, Italy, Syria, Switzerland, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Assad is still standing, but he is not standing alone -- and he likely no longer makes decisions alone either.
  • Topic: Armed Struggle, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The controversial Hariri trial will unfold amid growing sectarian violence in Lebanon, the seemingly interminable war in Syria, and a longstanding political stalemate regarding Hezbollah's role in government.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Terrorism, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Alon Paz
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Regional circumstances point to both the possibility and the need for enhanced Arab-Israeli efforts to address challenges in the security, energy, food/water scarcity, and public-health domains.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Egypt, Maghreb
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The ongoing clashes between rival rebel factions will likely be protracted and indecisive, and the resultant diversion of effort is already working to the regime's advantage.
  • Topic: Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Ehud Yaari
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Concerned about the possible drift of al-Qaeda affiliates to areas adjacent to the Golan Heights border, Israel finds itself obliged to increase its assistance to local rebel militias in southern Syria.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Armed Struggle, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Amid the swirl of Middle East chaos, Israelis are enjoying relative calm and real prosperity. External events -- from the counterrevolution in Egypt and the deepening sectarian war in Syria to the spread of Iranian influence across the region -- should provoke deep concern, but the political class is consumed with the politics and diplomacy of negotiations with the Palestinians.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Territorial Disputes, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Egypt
  • Author: Andrew J. Tabler
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: By focusing on the Syrian regime's faltering commitment to eliminate its chemical weapons, Washington can decisively push Damascus and Russia toward real progress on larger issues -- and also set the table for limited military strikes if they prove necessary.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements, United Nations, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Russia, Washington, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt, Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: U.S., Israeli, and Palestinian negotiations could lower the heat and shed some light on the clash over Jordan Valley security arrangements by promoting a public debate grounded in the facts of current and prospective Israeli deployments.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North America
  • Author: Adel El-Adawy
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The military chief has some strong assets and likely staying power, but he will still face great pressure if he is elected as anticipated, since the benchmark for success will be his ability to satisfy an Egyptian polity filled with unrealistically high socioeconomic expectations.
  • Topic: Regime Change, Reconstruction, Military Affairs, Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: James F. Jeffrey
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Ukraine situation will affect Washington's Middle Eastern priorities, but not to such a degree that it will stymie a strong U.S. response to Russian actions, since America has the power to act in the region without Moscow if necessary. Ukraine could well make it necessary.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Ukraine, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker, Eric Trager
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Cairo's possible purchase of advanced weapons systems from Russia could become another irritant in U.S.-Egyptian relations.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Economics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Ukraine, Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, James F. Jeffrey
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Issues such as energy dependence, deep-rooted fears of the Russian military, and Black Sea navigation policy all offer clues to Prime Minister Erdogan's vacillating response to Russian activities in Crimea.
  • Topic: Territorial Disputes, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Turkey, Ukraine, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Neri Zilber
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Far from disenfranchising certain groups, the pending legislation could spur smaller parties to form new political alliances that would likely favor the center-left opposition in future elections. As the Israeli Knesset prepares to pass a series of electoral reforms under the rubric of a new "Governance Law," one provision has drawn particularly strong criticism: the raising of the threshold required for political parties to obtain seats in the legislature to 3.25% of total votes cast. Media attention has focused on opposition concerns about the measures being "anti-democratic" and potentially disenfranchising Arab Israeli citizens. Yet close analysis of recent electoral results and political realities indicates that the new law could actually help the Israeli center and left.
  • Topic: Mass Media, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The regime's recent military successes are by no means sweeping, but its incremental gains in Aleppo and Damascus belie perceptions of stalemate and could shift the war's direction in its favor. The fighting in Syria is frequently described as either a stalemate or a war of attrition -- there are few dramatic movements and no decisive actions, even though both sides repeatedly declare that they are winning and the other side is losing. And some have suggested that there is "no military solution."
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Armed Struggle, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Simon Henderson, David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A deal to buy Israeli natural gas can help mitigate the kingdom's energy shortage and steer Amman away from problematic nuclear plans, but it risks stirring domestic opposition. In February, two private Jordanian firms signed a contract with a private U.S.-Israeli consortium to import natural gas from Israel's giant Tamar field, located under the bed of the Mediterranean Sea fifty miles offshore from Haifa. The Arab Potash Company and the Jordan Bromine Company -- both partially owned by the Jordanian government -- will pay Houston-based Noble Energy and its partners $500 million over the course of fifteen years to supply a power plant at Jordanian industrial facilities by the Dead Sea. At just $33 million per year, the deal is not financially significant, but it may set a huge precedent in terms of fostering regional economic cooperation and establishing a framework for Jordanian energy security. The political challenges are significant, however, particularly following the March 10 shooting of a Jordanian man at an Israeli-controlled West Bank crossing point.
  • Topic: Economics, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: David Pollock, James F. Jeffrey
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Washington must urgently reestablish the credibility of its military threat, along with other steps, to guard against noncompliance from Tehran.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, North America
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt, Alon Paz
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The growing capabilities of Iran's navy will enhance the country's soft power and its peacetime reach, while providing an alternative means of supplying the "axis of resistance" if traditional means of civilian transport become untenable.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Peacekeeping, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gaza
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: There is no guarantee that a peace deal will be reached within the current timeline, but a Palestinian return to armed struggle would be a far greater political, economic, and humanitarian disaster than any short-term frustration with the negotiations. Peace processes are rarely peaceful processes, and the current U.S.-led effort to reach an Israeli-Palestinian "framework agreement" is no exception. As the tempo of negotiations between the main parties picks up speed, more radical actors have reemerged to violently oppose the process, from Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Popular Resistance Committees, to Salafi jihadist groups, to Marxist factions such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Many observers have focused on the sharp increase in rockets fired at Israel from Gaza in the past few weeks and the prospect of another Gaza war. But that issue, while crucial, has drawn media attention away from two equally troubling trends: the increase in violence across the West Bank, and new signs that some officials from the Palestinian Authority and its leading party, Fatah, may be hedging their bets and preparing for wider violence if the peace process fails.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Terrorism, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Lori Plotkin Boghardt
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A number of U.S. interests could be served by expanding support to strategic Gulf partners in their efforts to curb Iranian aid to local fighters. On March 6, Bahrain's foreign minister told the UN Human Rights Council that the ongoing violence in his country "is directly supported by elements of the Islamic Republic of Iran." The statement does not accurately explain all political violence in Bahrain, but not every claim of Iranian support for violence should be assumed to represent part of a government propaganda campaign. U.S. intelligence assesses that Iran is in fact providing arms and more to Bahraini and other fighters in the Arabian Peninsula, and Washington should increase support to important Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) partners to curb it.
  • Topic: Security, Human Rights, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, United Nations
  • Author: Gilad Wenig
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A closer look at how the supreme military council will operate now that Field Marshal Sisi has thrown his hat into the presidential ring, including a chart illustrating the SCAF's likely new membership. Today, following months of speculation, Field Marshal Abdul Fatah al-Sisi announced his resignation as Egypt's defense minister and his candidacy for president. Sedki Sobhi, former chief of staff under Sisi, has been promoted to colonel general -- one rank below field marshal -- and appointed as the new defense minister, while Mahmoud Hegazy, former director of military intelligence, has been promoted to lieutenant general and will be the new army chief of staff. The resultant restructuring of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) will likely put some of Sisi's closest allies in key positions and should provide him with a strong base of military support and influence once he wins the presidency as expected.
  • Topic: Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Simon Henderson, Olli Heinonen
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although Iran's nuclear potential will likely dominate talks between President Obama and King Abdullah on March 29, Riyadh's own nuclear plans should also be part of the discussion. A major probable consequence of Iran achieving a nuclear weapons capability is that Saudi Arabia will seek to match it. With President Obama currently rating the chances of diplomatic success as 50-50 and Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei giving a "zero" probability, this weekend's U.S.-Saudi summit will be an opportunity to check whether Saudi planning can help the diplomacy rather than hinder it.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Vish Sakthivel
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Secretary Kerry's visit comes amid Morocco's efforts to expand its regional influence and an upcoming vote in Algeria. Next week, Secretary of State John Kerry will head to Rabat and Algiers to reconvene the Strategic Dialogues that were postponed in November when he had to travel to Geneva for urgent Iran negotiations. While the broader themes to be discussed remain the same, certain developments in the two countries' diplomatic positioning will likewise inform the talks.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Morocco
  • Author: David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A closer look at Palestinian views on prisoner releases, the Jewish state question, economic needs, and other issues suggests diplomatic openings are far from exhausted. As the United States works to salvage the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the Palestinian public in the West Bank and Gaza is more prepared to accept various diplomatic compromises than official positions or elite attitudes would suggest. A number of new polls by different Palestinian pollsters, and in-depth discussions with Palestinian scholars and others in late March, indicate that Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas has greater latitude to make a deal than is often supposed. The polls cited here are from the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) and Arab World for Research and Development (AWRAD), both based in Ramallah, and the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCPO), based in Bethlehem.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, North America
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The current impasse in Israeli-Palestinian talks is buffeted by a series of profound global and regional challenges, including Ukraine, Iran, and Syria, among others. In the immediate arena, while Israel and the Palestinian Authority may have dysfunctional political and diplomatic relations, they also have reasonably effective security cooperation and economic coordination. Therefore, a principal challenge for U.S. policy and for local leaders is to find ways to preserve, even enhance, the latter even as disagreement over the former worsens.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Ukraine, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Syria, North America
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Washington has rightfully avoided backing a candidate in next week's elections, but it should still use counterterrorism assistance and other levers to push Baghdad on pluralism and KRG oil revenue sharing during the presumably lengthy transition period. On April 30, the Iraqi public will vote in national parliamentary elections, establishing the next four-year term of the 328-seat Council of Representatives. Thereafter, an equally consequential bargaining process will commence, taking the formation of the next government out of the public's hands and cloistering it behind closed doors. The United States has repeatedly prodded Baghdad to ensure that the vote is held on time, in all districts, and in a free and fair manner. Washington's role in the government formation process could be equally constructive, but it presents a far trickier challenge. Indeed, how the U.S. government acts during the postelection process could set the tone for bilateral relations throughout the next government's term.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East
  • Author: Ehud Yaari, Neri Zilber
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Even as the deal offers short-term political benefits for both sides, it fails to resolve key issues separating them. The April 23 Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement announced in the Gaza Strip is the latest in a long line of attempts to bridge the intra-Palestinian divide. The timing of the agreement amid U.S.-brokered peace talks, as well as both parties' internal weaknesses, points to more serious intent than past efforts. However, the deal fails to address the most sensitive issues separating the two sides and likely can be explained by the political boost it offers to both leaderships. The only certainty is that the reconciliation deal severely complicates efforts to extend Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations past their April 29 deadline.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The thorny parliamentary process of selecting a new president could rekindle violence if it results in substantial delays or further sectarian friction. Last week, Lebanon's parliament convened for the first round of balloting to elect a new president. While Samir Geagea -- who leads the Christian "Lebanese Forces" party, which is aligned with the pro-Western March 14 coalition -- received the most votes, he failed to secure the requisite two-thirds parliamentary support. In the coming weeks, legislators are slated to continue meeting until a president is selected. Unlike last week's session, in which the Hezbollah-led March 8 bloc did not challenge Geagea's candidacy, the voting promises to become increasingly contentious in subsequent rounds. Perennial sectarian tensions exacerbated by the war next door in Syria have complicated the historically wrought and arcane election process. Should a compromise candidate not emerge by May 25, the term of current president Michel Suleiman will expire, leaving the post vacant. In the past, the presidency -- which by law must be held by a Christian -- was the dominant office in Lebanon's government. But the 1989 Taif Accord effectively stripped the position of its powers, delegating them to the prime minister, who must hail from the Sunni Muslim constituency. Given the post's largely symbolic nature, some might argue that the tense selection process is much ado about nothing. Yet the presidency remains an emotionally evocative issue for Lebanese Christians, and both the March 8 and March 14 blocs see a sympathetic chief executive as an important advantage worth fighting for.
  • Topic: Religion, Power Politics, Regime Change, Public Opinion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Haroon Ullah, Eric Trager, Vish Sakthivel
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A senior State Department advisor and two Washington Institute scholars discuss what lessons can -- and cannot -- be drawn from the Islamist political experience in Egypt, Pakistan, Morocco, and other countries.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Middle East, Arabia, Egypt, Morocco
  • Author: Lori Plotkin Boghardt
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Washington should look for small changes in Kuwait and Qatar's political and security calculus that could provide opportunities to support counter-terrorist financing measures there. On April 30, the U.S. State Department noted that private donations from Persian Gulf countries were "a major source of funding for Sunni terrorist groups, particularly...in Syria," calling the problem one of the most important counterterrorism issues during the previous calendar year. Groups such as al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), previously known as al-Qaeda in Iraq, are believed to be frequent recipients of some of the hundreds of millions of dollars that wealthy citizens and others in the Gulf peninsula have been donating during the Syrian conflict.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Border Control
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Washington, Middle East, Kuwait, Arabia, Syria, Qatar
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The longer the war in Syria continues, the greater the threat these fighters will likely pose. Last week, ten Jordanian Islamists who were apprehended while attempting to join the jihad in Syria were sentenced by the State Security Court to five years of hard labor. And last month, Jordanian F-16 fighter jets destroyed a convoy purportedly carrying al-Qaeda-affiliated anti-Assad-regime rebels traversing the border from Syria. These "spillover" incidents are only the latest in a disturbing trend. Over the past year, reports of Jordanian Salafi jihadists have become routine, raising the specter of terrorism returning to the kingdom.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Border Control
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Jordan
  • Author: Ehud Yaari, Michael Morell
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A CIA veteran and an Israeli security expert discuss the growing presence of al-Qaeda affiliates in Sinai and Syria.
  • Topic: Terrorism, International Security, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Aaron Y. Zelin
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Security crackdowns will not be enough to eradicate jihadist networks in Tunisia and Libya, which have the patience and ideological conviction to weather drastic reorganization. Eight months ago, the Tunisian government officially designated Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia (AST) as a terrorist organization. Since then, Tunis has cracked down on the group's activities, going after both its dawa campaign (i.e., proselytization and social-welfare efforts) and any links members have to terrorist plots. On the whole, AST's public response has been to keep relatively quiet. Yet recent developments indicate that the group may be rebranding itself as Shabab al-Tawhid (ST; the Youth of Pure Monotheism), a shift that would have important implications for efforts to counter Tunisian jihadists and their associates in Libya.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Border Control
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Arabia, Tunisia
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As narratives about the root causes of the impasse in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations take shape, U.S. leaders have a major decision to make about whether to disengage from diplomacy or deepen involvement in less high-profile ways.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Ehud Yaari
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Recent developments indicate a credible, previously unseen rebel threat to Damascus. While rebel militias have lately suffered serious setbacks in central and northern Syria, they are now recording significant successes in the south -- the region lying between Damascus and the Israeli and Jordanian borders. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's loyalists are on the defensive on all related fronts, risking the loss of this strategically important sector. It is becoming increasingly evident that a rebel push toward the capital from the south may be more promising militarily than an offensive from the so-far-stalemated front lines north of Damascus. The next few weeks may witness further major rebel gains on the southern front, which may ultimately pose the main threat to Assad's control.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Mohamed Salah Tamek
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Morocco has had a largely successful record of countering violent extremism within its borders, including the dismantling of numerous cells linked to al-Qaeda core or its North African offshoot, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Thousands of suspects have been arrested for perpetrating assassinations, assaults, and robberies; huge caches of heavy weapons have been confiscated; and authorities have foiled many attempts to attack security services, tourist attractions, diplomatic delegations, and places of worship for Christians and Jews. In addition, two channels of recruitment for jihadists in Mali were dismantled in late 2012, and two months ago, Moroccan and Spanish security forces jointly dismantled a transnational cell recruiting fighters for Syria and Mali.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Syria, Morocco, Northern Mali
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Bahraini government will need to distinguish better between protestors and terrorists if it wants Washington and other foreign partners to believe its claims of Iranian support for local militants. On May 5, in what has become an increasingly typical event in Bahrain, several individuals threw Molotov cocktails at a police post in a Shiite village, damaging storefronts but causing no casualties. Such incidents have intensified over the past few months in villages surrounding the capital, Manama -- in March, three police officers were killed by a bombing in al-Daih; last month, an explosion wounded another officer in the same village; days later, a police car was firebombed in Hamad Town.
  • Topic: International Relations, Political Violence, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Washington, Middle East, Bahrain
  • Author: Azeem Ibrahim
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The Syrian civil war has allowed al-Qaeda to recover from its setbacks up to 2010. Its main affiliate in the region seems to be testing a new strategy of collaboration with other Salafist-Jihadist groups and a less brutal implementation of Sharia law in areas it controls. In combination, this might allow the Al Nusrah Front to carve out the sort of territorial control of a region (or state) that al-Qaeda has sought ever since its eviction from Afghanistan. On the other hand, Syria has also seen a civil war between two al-Qaeda inspired factions (Al Nusrah and the Iraq based Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIS]) and indicates there are limits to its ability to cooperate with other anti-Assad factions and gain popular appeal. The extent that the Syrian civil war offers the means for al-Qaeda to recover from its earlier defeats will determine whether the organization has a future, or if it will become simply an ideology and label adopted by various Islamist movements fighting their own separate struggles.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Nawaf Obaid
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: This proposal for a Saudi Arabian Defense Doctrine (SDD) hopes to initiate an essential internal reform effort that responds to the shifting demands of today and the potential threats of tomorrow. In the last decade, the world has watched as regime changes, revolutions, and sectarian strife transformed the Middle East into an unrecognizable political arena plagued by instability, inefficiency, and failing states. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)—the Arab world's central power and last remaining major Arab heavyweight on the international scene—has emerged as the ipso facto leader responsible for regional stability and development.
  • Topic: Security, Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The power balance in Yemen's north is shifting. In early 2014, Zaydi Shiite fighters, known as the Huthis or Ansar Allah (Partisans of God), won a series of battles, in effect consolidating their control over Saada governorate, on the border of Saudi Arabia, and expanding southward to the gates of the capital, Sanaa. Now a patchwork of shaky ceasefires is in place, albeit battered by bouts of violence. Tensions are high between Huthis and their various opponents – the Ahmar family, Major General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar (no relation to the Ahmar family) and his military allies, Salafi fighters, and the Sunni Islamist party, Islah, and their affiliated tribes. Fear is growing that an escalation could draw the state into a prolonged conflict. To head off a conflagration, the parties must turn the inchoate understandings reached during the country's National Dialogue Conference (NDC) into an implementable peace plan.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Armed Struggle, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Saudi Arabia
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Carter Center
  • Abstract: This report outlines constitutional and legislative options for a political transition in Syria under the umbrella of the Final Geneva Communiqué, issued by the Action Group on Syria on 30 June 2012, and revived in early May 2013 at a meeting in Moscow between the U.S. and Russia. The Communiqué embodies the greatest degree of consensus that the international community has been able to achieve regarding the Syrian conflict, detailing a potentially viable path to a negotiated end to the civil war. Since May 2013, efforts by UN and Arab League Joint Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and others to host a peace conference on Syria (dubbed "Geneva II"), have reinforced the importance of developing possible constitutional and legislative modalities for a transition.
  • Topic: Civil War, Government, International Cooperation, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Amr Adly
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Egypt's economy is in crisis as the new military-backed regime seeks to reestablish its authority. Fiscal restructuring and austerity measures are necessary to spur economic recovery, but they may be politically difficult to pass at this time. The new regime, therefore, will have to broaden its base and forge a more inclusive coalition of supporters in order to stabilize Egypt, retain power, and restore economic growth.
  • Topic: Security, Economics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the coming days, the Obama administration faces key decisions on how to respond to a Palestinian government "backed by Hamas," whether to condone Hamas participation in Palestinian elections, and what strategy to adopt in response to another effort by Palestinians to enhance their status in the UN.
  • Topic: Armed Struggle, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, United Nations
  • Author: Andrew J. Tabler
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As extremists continue to move into southern Syria, growing security and humanitarian problems may soon outstrip Jordan's ability to handle spillover from the war.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Phillip Smyth
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Afghan Shiite militants have been fighting on the Assad regime's side for some time, and the scope and strategic purpose of Iran's involvement is becoming increasingly clear.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Mirette F. Mabrouk, Stefanie A. Hausheer
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Three years after the citizens of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen took to the streets demanding freedom, dignity, and greater economic opportunity, they are struggling with a harsh reality: political change is a slow, painful process. In many cases, the goals of the revolutions are far from being realized. Yet despite the lack of momentum—and in some cases, notable setbacks—there is a recognition that the wall of fear has been broken. This profound shift means that citizens in these countries will continue to demand basic freedoms and more accountable governments that deliver for their people.
  • Topic: Democratization, Human Rights, Human Welfare, Social Movement
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Blythe Lyons
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: US national security is enhanced by energy security. The United States is enjoying a unique opportunity to bolster its energy security by increasing domestic production of oil and gas resources. The recent explosion in domestic unconventional production will allow an expanded bandwidth of US responses to the turmoil in the Middle East and Europe. If further exploited, the move toward energy self-sufficiency also gives the United States a cushion to reassess its global strategic policies. Expanding the domestic resource base further provides the United States with an industrial advantage in global commerce.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, International Trade and Finance, National Security, Oil
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East
  • Author: Bilal Y. Saab
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Because of their sizeable financial resources, close relations with Washington, and privileged access to the top transatlantic defense companies, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are in a unique position to explore opportunities and make important strides in the military-industrial domain that other countries can simply ill-afford to make. Moreover, over the past decade, globalization and the information technology (IT) revolution in military affairs (RMA) have opened up the international defense market and made it less exclusive, allowing Saudi Arabia and the UAE to overcome some of the key scientific and technological challenges that accompany the building and sustaining of indigenous defense industries.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Magnus Nordenman
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: As NATO winds down its long combat operation in Afghanistan, the Alliance is facing a new and dynamic security environment that is more strategically constraining and competitive than at any time since the end of the Cold War. This is spurred by a set of long-term trends that are driving a transformation of global arrangements and power relationships and is further reinforced by fiscal austerity and uncertain political leadership on both sides of the Atlantic. Furthermore, along with these long-term challenges, increasing turbulence in the Middle East and the Ukraine crisis mean that NATO today has serious security concerns to tend to on the immediate periphery of Alliance territory.
  • Topic: NATO, Demographics, Science and Technology, International Security
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Ukraine, Middle East, Asia, Syria
  • Author: Valerie Szybala
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Following the January 2014 uprising by rebel groups in Syria against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), ISIS contracted its footprint in Syria. The group was pushed out, tactically withdrew, or went below the radar in cities and towns across much of Idlib, Aleppo, and Deir ez-Zour. It continued to battle the Kurds in Hasaka, but constituted most of its strength in ar-Raqqa, where it is in firm control of the provincial capital and several other towns. In Syria's eastern province of Deir ez-Zour, ISIS is attempting a resurgence. At the end of March 2014, ISIS began to move forces from the north into place for an offensive back into the heart of rebel territory in Deir ez-Zour province. This resurgence has come in the form of an offensive largely against Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic Front, which are predominant in the province. Local tribal militias have come to play an increasing role as well.
  • Topic: Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Jessica Lewis
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: There are indications that ISIS is about to launch into a new offensive in Iraq. ISIS published photos of a military parade through the streets of Mosul on June 24, 2014 showcasing U.S. military equipment, including armored vehicles and towed artillery systems. ISIS reportedly executed another parade in Hawijah on June 26, 2014. These parades may be a demonstration of force to reinforce their control of these urban centers. They may also be a prelude to ISIS troop movements, and it is important to anticipate where ISIS may deploy these forces forward. Meanwhile, ISIS also renewed the use of suicide bombers in the vicinity of Baghdad. An ISIS bomber with a suicide vest (SVEST) attacked the Kadhimiya shrine in northern Baghdad on June 26, 2014, one of the four holy sites in Iraq that Iran and Shi'a militias are most concerned to protect. ISIS also incorporated an SVEST into a complex attack in Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad, on June 25, 2014 in a zone primarily controlled by the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and Shi'a militias on the road from Baghdad to Karbala. These attacks are demonstrations that ISIS has uncommitted forces in the Baghdad Belts that may be brought to bear in new offensives. ISIS's offensive has not culminated, and the ISIS campaign for Iraq is not over. Rather, as Ramadan approaches, their main offensive is likely imminent.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Armed Struggle, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Nichole Dicharry
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Forces from the Peshmerga were deployed to the Mosul Dam. The new force is reportedly larger and better equipped than the forces that had clashed with ISIS previously in the area. Also, unconfirmed reports suggest that the Peshmerga have retaken the area of Wana, located near the dam, that fell to ISIS yesterday.
  • Topic: Armed Struggle, Refugee Issues, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Nichole Dicharry
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: ISIS published images of Eid celebrations in Mosul showing kids and teenagers playing at a large carnival. The images also showed ISIS members handing out candy to children. This comes after residents from Mosul and ISIS reported that the organization launched a radio station in the city.
  • Topic: Islam, Governance, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Rasha Abdulla
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: More than three years after the January 25 revolution toppled then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, Egypt continues to struggle with an authoritarian media sector and constraints on freedom of expression. Postrevolution regimes have not capitalized on opportunities to reform state and private media, and critical voices have been harassed and marginalized by state and nonstate actors. As long as Egypt continues to be governed by rulers who believe controlling the media is in their best interest, reform will only come about through the few dissident voices in the media backed up by support from civil society and the masses.
  • Topic: Democratization, Communications, Social Movement
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Michael Rubin, Ahmad Khalid Majidyar
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Shi'ism has a public relations problem, at least, in the United States. Most Americans formed their perception of Shi'ism not by reading its rich internal debates or exploring its diversity and cultural heritage, but rather by seeing Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini lead chants of "Death to America" after the 1979 Iranian revolution and Iranian hostage takers scaling embassy walls and then parading blindfolded, abused diplomats on television. Less than four years later, Shi'ite operatives in Lebanon rammed a truck bomb into the headquarters of US Marines serving as peacekeepers in Beirut, killing 241 in an incident that propelled suicide terrorism to the forefront of the American conscience.
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Middle East
  • Author: Mathew J. Burrows
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: With new crises sprouting almost on a daily basis in the Middle East, there is increasing interest in knowing the possible medium- and long-term consequences of the cascading developments in the region. This report attempts to think about the alternative futures possible in the Middle East over the next five to ten years. This is a shorter-term forecast than usual, but in the Middle East more deep-seated and structural factors are in flux than in most other regions. A longer-term forecast would allow for more optimism, but would be less useful for decision-makers who not only need a bird's eye view of where developments are headed but also a notion of the pressure points to effect positive change now.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Regime Change, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Sven Biscop
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: Russia's annexation of the Crimea and subsequent meddling in Ukraine does not constitute a game-changer. It is just a reminder that at least since the war with Georgia in 2008 Russia has been and still is playing the same game: a "game of zones",aimed at (re)establishing an exclusive sphere of influence. Many of us Europeans had forgotten that, or had pushed it to the back of our minds, preferring to believe that we were not engaged in a zero-sum game in our eastern neighbourhood.
  • Topic: Security, Sovereignty, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Middle East
  • Author: Lina Khatib
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Long a minor regional actor in the shadow of Saudi Arabia, Qatar wants to increase its influence. But Doha's expansionist foreign policy has been plagued by miscalculations, domestic challenges, and international pressure—all issues connected to Doha's relationship with Riyadh. As a result of these setbacks, Qatar's regional role has diminished, and for the foreseeable future, its external influence is likely to remain under the direction of Saudi Arabia.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar
  • Author: Aram Nerguizian
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The United States and its allies compete with Iran in a steadily more unsettled and uncertain Levant. The political upheavals in the Middle East, economic and demographic pressures, sectarian struggles and extremism, ethnic and tribal conflicts and tensions all combine to produce complex patterns of competition.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Creating an effective transition for the ANSF is only one of the major challenges that Afghanistan, the US, and Afghanistan's other allies face during 2014-2015 and beyond.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Middle East
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Creating an effective transition for the ANSF is only one of the major challenges that Afghanistan, the US, and Afghanistan's other allies face during 2014 2015 and beyond. The five other key challenges include: Going from an uncertain election to effective leadership and political cohesion and unity. Creating an effective and popular structure governance, with suitable reforms, from the local to central government, reducing corruption to acceptable levels, and making suitable progress in planning, budgeting, and budget execution. Coping with the coming major cuts in outside aid and military spending in Afghanistan, adapting to a largely self-financed economy, developing renewal world economic development plans, carrying out the reforms pledged at the Tokyo Conference, and reducing the many barriers to doing business. Establishing relations with Pakistan and other neighbors that will limit outside pressures and threats, and insurgent sanctuaries on Afghanistan's border. Persuading the US, other donors, NGCO, and nations will to provide advisors to furnish the needed aid effort through at least 2018, and probably well beyond.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East
  • Author: Frederick W. Kagan, Kimberly Kagan, Jessica D. Lewis
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The Islamic State poses a grave danger to the United States and its allies in the Middle East and around the world due to its location, resources, the skill and determination of its leaders and fighters, and its demonstrated lethality compared to other al Qaeda-like groups. In Syria, the Assad regime has lost control of the majority of the state, and the regime's atrocities and sectarianism have fueled violent Islamists, particularly ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra (JN). In Iraq, the government has lost control over large portions of territory that the Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish Peshmerga are incapable of retaking without significant foreign support. The Sunni Arabs of Iraq and Syria are the decisive human terrain. Al-Qaeda and similar groups can only flourish in distressed Sunni communities. Any strategy to counter al-Qaeda requires working with these communities, as the U.S. and the Iraqi government did during the Awakening in 2007. Having neglected Iraq and Syria, the U.S. currently lacks the basic intelligence and contextual understanding to build a strategy. The U.S. must adopt an iterative approach that tests assumptions, enriches understanding, builds partnerships with willing Sunni Arabs, and sets conditions for more decisive operations.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Richard Barrett
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: Over 12,000 fighters from at least 81 countries have joined the civil war in Syria, and the numbers continue to grow. Around 2,500 are from Western countries, including most members of the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. There are also several hundred from Russia. But the great majority are from the Arab World. Most are fighting with rebel groups, and increasingly with the most extreme among them; but many are also fighting with the Government, or with ethnic or faith communities that are trying to protect themselves from both sides. A lot are young, often teenagers, and a fair percentage of those arriving from non-Muslim majority countries are converts to Islam. These and others who share their faith commonly express their motivation as a religious obligation to protect fellow Muslims from attack. This sense of duty is captured by their loose use of the word 'jihad'.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, International Security
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Middle East, Canada, Arabia, Australia, Syria, New Zealand
  • Author: Jacqueline Page
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: As the complex global security environment faced by NATO members continues to evolve in the coming years, terrorism – waged by actors both in and outside of their borders – will remain a vexing challenge. For over a decade, NATO's counterterrorism strategy has been built on taking the fight abroad. Member nations have been intimately involved in this effort as contributors to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, to the Multi-National Force in Iraq and in a variety of smaller missions around the globe. In recent times, however, there has been growing attention to the threat posed by “homegrown” terrorism and foreign fighters returning from Syria and elsewhere to their home countries throughout the Euro-Atlantic area.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, International Security
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Steven A. Zyck
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: Yemen remains the only site of an Arab Spring uprising that has ended in a negotiated agreement and a structured, internationally supported transition process. As Jamal Benomar, the United Nations Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Yemen, stated, “Yemen was definitely heading towards a Syria-type scenario” before international actors, including the United Nations (UN), helped to shepherd a complex transition process, which continues at the time of writing. Benomar, with support from a wide array of stakeholders, helped avert an escalating conflict in Yemen by stepping in to offer the good offices of the UN secretarygeneral without waiting for the UN Security Council or the embattled Yemeni regime to demand UN action. Benomar's interventions— including bringing Yemen's major political parties together amid the uprising—helped ensure that the country did not devolve into civil war when President Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down after thirty-three years in power. That is, the UN opened a space for dialogue where none had previously been considered possible.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Treaties and Agreements, Popular Revolt
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Keith David Watenpaugh, Adrienne L. Fricke, James R. King
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute of International Education
  • Abstract: On a warm June afternoon in Reyhanlı, Turkey, more than 30 displaced and refugee Syrian university students, some with their parents, gathered in the living room of the apartment that serves as the headquarters of the Union of Free Syrian Academics (UFSA). They had assembled to talk with our research team about their efforts to finish their university studies. Before the war in Syria Began, Reyhanlı had been a sleepy border town on the road between Antakya and Aleppo, frequented by smugglers. Today, it hosts tens of thousands of Syrians who have crossed into Turkey at one of the few border crossings that remain in the hands of the Western and Turkish-supported Free Syrian Army. Parts of Reyhanlı now feel like a refugee camp – with the sense of boredom, frustration, and expectation one finds in camps – but without barbed wire and restrictions on movement. We were visiting the town because it is home to several initiatives and programs related to higher education and other necessary support for Syrian students and scholars.
  • Topic: Education, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Mohammed El-Katiri
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: For the United States, the Arabian Gulf region remains one of the most geostrategically important locations in the world. Home to over half of the world's oil reserves and nearly a third of its natural gas, the Gulf states continue to supply world markets with an important share of their energy supplies. Continuing to be one of the world's largest regional suppliers of energy and holding much of the world's spare capacity in crude oil production makes the region central to the stability of the global oil market.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia