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  • Author: Robert Satloff, Sarah Feuer
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The countries of northwest Africa -- Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia -- have proven either more resilient or more adaptive than other Middle East states to the political upheavals that have engulfed the region over the last half-dozen years. To varying degrees, however, stability remains a major challenge for all these countries as they face transnational terrorism, spillover from the conflict in Libya, abrupt shifts in domestic political dynamics, potential flare-ups of regional conflicts, and unforeseen events that could ignite deep-seated resentment at a local mix of stagnant economies, endemic corruption, and profound disparities between wealth and poverty. In this Transition 2017 essay, Robert Satloff and Sarah Feuer warn against overlooking a corner of the Middle East that doesn't attract the same attention as areas facing more-acute conflict. Outlining America's key strategic interests in this region, they discuss specific ways the Trump administration can advance these interests in terms of both bilateral and regional relations.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs, International Development
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Northwest Africa
  • Author: James F. Jeffrey, Dennis Ross
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Given the unprecedented turmoil and uncertainty afflicting the Middle East, the new administration will need to devote particular care and urgency to understanding the essence of America's interests in the region, and applying clear principles in pursuing them. This is the advice offered by two U.S. diplomats with a distinguished record of defending those interests under various administrations. As Trump and his team take office, they face a regional state system that is under assault by proxy wars that reflect geopolitical rivalries and conflicts over basic identity. Rarely has it been more important for a new administration to articulate clear goals and principles, and Ambassadors James Jeffrey and Dennis Ross outline both in this transition paper. With 30 percent of the world's hydrocarbons still flowing from the Middle East, safeguarding that supply remains a critical U.S. national security interest, along with preventing nuclear proliferation, countering terrorism, and preserving stability. In their view, the best way to pursue these interests is to emphasize a coherent set of guiding principles, namely:
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East
  • Author: Genci Mucaj
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Ambassadors Review
  • Abstract: A few years ago, it would have been difficult to imagine the regional transformation underway in the Middle East. From the Arab Spring to the rise of ISIS, to a catastrophic Syrian war, we see a Middle East in turmoil and crisis. While the region’s geopolitical map varies, the root causes of conflict remain the same.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Marc Finaud
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Since Egypt, Iran, and Israel have signed but not ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), they agree to the goal of prohibiting the testing of nuclear weapons. As a building block towards the establishment of a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone (WMDFZ) in the Middle East, they could jointly or concurrently ratify the CTBT, thus creating a de facto nuclear-test-free zone in the region that Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen could join. This could act as a confidence-building measure and facilitate the participation of these states in the activities of the CTBT Organization (CTBTO), which verifies compliance with the test ban.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for International and Regional Studies: CIRS
  • Abstract: Following the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, many had high hopes not only for democratization but also for transitional justice to address the myriad abuses that had taken place in the region, both during the uprisings and for decades prior to them. Despite these hopes, most of the transitions in the region have stalled, along with the possibility of transitional justice. This volume is the first to look at this process and brings together leading experts in the fields of human rights and transitional justice, and in the history, politics and justice systems of countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, Bahrain and Morocco. While these countries have diverse histories, political institutions, and experiences with accountability, most have experienced non-transition, stalled transition, or political manipulation of transitional justice measures, highlighting the limits of such mechanisms. These studies should inform reflection not only on the role of transitional justice in the region, but also on challenges to its operation more generally.
  • Topic: Democratization, Human Rights, Law, Arab Spring
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Patrick Martin
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) surged in northwest Mosul in a bid to clear the city prior to Ramadan, anticipated to begin on May 26. Emergency Response Division (ERD) and Federal Police (FP) units joined 9th and 15th Iraqi Army Division units in northwest Mosul on April 28. The combined forces recaptured the neighborhoods of Mushairfa and 30 Tamouz, and are fighting to seize the denser neighborhoods of Harmat, 17 Tamouz, and Hawi Kanisa as of publication. Meanwhile, Counter-Terrorism Services (CTS) recaptured three neighborhoods in western Mosul. ISF are unlikely to clear the city prior to Ramadan. ISIS claimed to launch attacks to retake two Old City gates, Bab al-Jadid and Bab al-Toub. ISIS will also continue to defend the Old City by conducting suicide attacks and attempting to draw fire on civilian gatherings. ISIS will concentrate its defenses around al-Nuri Great Mosque, where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi appeared publicly in 2014.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Alexandra Gutowski, Jesse Rose Dury-Agri
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: U.S.-backed forces continue to advance on the major ISIS-held urban centers of Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria. Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have encircled ISIS in Mosul’s Old City. The U.S.-backed, Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) captured Tabqa, a city adjacent to Raqqa that contains Syria’s largest dam. ISIS also lost terrain in southern Syria, as various factions of the Syrian opposition, including some with U.S. backing, cleared ISIS from positions in Suweida and the Qalamoun mountains. ISIS will attempt to offset these losses during its annual Ramadan offensive campaign, anticipated to begin around May 27. ISIS’s campaign in 2017 increasingly resembles its 2013 insurgent campaign; ISIS’s Ramadan plan will likely focus on synchronizing spectacular attacks across different locations for combined effect. Potential targets include religious sites, security forces, and oil infrastructure. ISIS may also conduct ground attacks in Salah ad Din, Anbar, and central Syria where ISIS retains latent combat capability.
  • Topic: War, ISIS
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Chris Kozak, Genevieve Casagrande, Tom Ramage
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Pro-regime basing data accurate through March 21, 2017. Syria Control of Terrain data accurate through April 3, 2017.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Carter Center
  • Abstract: Since its inception, Daesh has been successfully recruiting women across national and ideological lines to assume key positions in advancing the organization’s objectives. According to recent estimates, out of 31,000 fighters within Daesh territories, almost one-fifth, roughly 6,200, are women. Yet, to date, research and policy focus on women’s involvement in Daesh has been scant. Several media accounts that have covered female participation tend to be alarmingly reductionist in their description of the roles women play in Daesh. These reports primarily categorize women as either passive victims, “Jihadi brides,” or subsidiary supporters of male guardians with negligible influence. This approach not only ignores the multiplicity of roles played by women to expand Daesh’s ideological and operational agenda, but also oversimplifies the motivations behind their decisions to join Daesh. Just like their male counterparts, women are complex human beings with conflicting aspirations, ideological leanings, and life struggles that inform the choices they make.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Gender Issues, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Carter Center
  • Abstract: During the reporting period, elements of an Astana de-escalation plan were enacted while pro-government forces advanced in Hama and the Eastern Ghouta region of Damascus. Opposition infighting in Eastern Ghouta and Idleb appears to have stopped for the time being. Fighting in and around Daraa city remained high this week, and both opposition and the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continued to take territory from ISIS.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War
  • Political Geography: Middle East