You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Middle East’ tag.

The present NATO strategy in Afghanistan is referred to as COIN (counterinsurgency strategy). The main objective of this strategy is gaining the trust of Afghan civilians by winning their “hearts and minds,” a strategy that decreased violence and possibly prevented an all out civil war in Iraq in 2007. In Afghanistan however, violence has increased dramatically the past two years, and although it is still early to say whether the COIN strategy is working or not, the statistics show a dark image of the future of the country. Lorenzo Zambernardi, a University of Bologna-Forli lecturer and doctoral candidate of Ohio State University’s Political Science department has written an interesting article on the “impossible trilemma of counterinsurgency.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

By Tahira Saleem, GPS Issue Analyst on Iraq and Afghanistan

The Afghan President Hamid Karzai has recently announced the formation of a new Peace Council headed by the former President Burhanudin Rabbani. The new peace council is another effort for reintegration of the Taliban in the country’s political system. The earlier Kabul conference and London conference had similar aims of brokering peace with the warring factions in Afghanistan. But the question arises about whether this new council promises any hope for the war-torn country.

The peace council, the brainchild of Karzai, has neglected the Afghan traders, intellectuals, and the members of civil society. All of its 69 hand-picked members are Afghan warlords; the key figure among them is Burhanudin Rabbani, who is implicated in war crimes of killing and displacement of Afghan people.

Read the rest of this entry »

Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said that Iran is ready to resume talks with the West regarding its nuclear program. He stated however, that any negotiations will fail if the West does not clearly come out against Israel’s suspected nuclear arsenal. He made it clear that there will be no achievements whatsoever if the West does not change its policy towards Israel, Iran’s archrival. The West, especially the U.S., will have to make great sacrifices in its foreign relations with Israel in order to meet Iran’s demands, which is something that is highly unlikely to happen. It may appear that Iran is using Israel’s suspected nuclear program in a way to move tensions away from its own.

EU foreign affairs and security Chief Catherine Ashton has suggested the talks to be held in Vienna in November with the P5+1 Countries (the U.S., the U.K., China, France and Russia plus Germany) while U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said it was up to Iran to set a date. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has signaled that October or November seems like a suitable time for talks with P5 + 1.

Read the rest of this entry »

One of the main reasons for the declining violence in Iraq the past few years was that the Sunni insurgents gave up their arms and started working with and for the American military and the Shia government. Salaries from the Americans and promises of jobs and influence within the government made the Sunnis realize that supporting Al-Qaeda would have devastating results for Iraq and possibly throw the country in to an all-out civil war. This switch of sides is known as the “Sunni Awakening”, and it has helped in restoring hopes for a more secure Iraq.

In the past few months however, Iraq has seen an increase in violence, as the Americans are withdrawing and the country is at a political standstill. Members of the Sunni awakening group are also switching sides again, due to an Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia recruitment offensive. The Sunni ex-insurgents are complaining that they are not getting the relevant jobs they were promised by the government, and that salaries are rarely being paid. An ex–Awakening Council leader, Nathum al-Jubouri says that “The Awakening does not know what the future holds because it is not clear what the government intends for them.”  Less than half of all Awakening members have been offered jobs within the government, and rejoining Al-Qaeda and the insurgency seems like the only solution for many of the Awakening members.

Read the rest of this entry »

By James Robertson
James is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about James below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

President Obama’s recent announcement of an end to combat operations in Iraq signals a turning point in American operations there. A war which contributed to American students’ perceptions of American foreign policy will now enter a new stage focused on fortifying the young Iraqi government’s ability to protect and oversee its own people. While the latest round of terrorist attacks cast doubt upon the country’s ability to furnish its citizens with an environment of security, the newly revised U.S. diplomatic mission seeks to provide Iraqi security forces with the guidance and training they need to address future defense concerns.

Much rests upon this important point in Iraq’s progress towards a functioning democratic state. The costs of failure cannot be understated, a position the current administration intends to address by more than doubling the number of private security units in Iraq. This is a commitment that will likely be reflected by private investing, aid, and advocacy groups. The President also noted that Iraq must take control of its future by addressing its own problems. Historically, young people and students in particular have always served as a driving force for development in developing nations, and Iraq is no different.

Students will undoubtedly play an important role in Iraq’s transition to a democratic state. This presents an exciting opportunity for American students to engage and assist a foreign people in their work towards a self-governing society. American students will soon be presented with the chance to affect change in their world by assisting their counterparts in Iraq with the understanding and application of democratic ideals. The result of such an exchange of cultural and educational and values could contribute greatly to the establishment of a democratic peace in Iraq.

My name is James Robertson. I am currently studying Political Science and English at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. The current American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan dominates foreign affairs and will undoubtedly shape American foreign policy for years to come. Accordingly, today’s students will play an important role in determining how relations with these two countries and the Middle East will proceed. Each of us has a voice and I believe it is our duty to stand up and speak out for democracy in these changing times.

About 40 % of the Afghan population are Pashtuns, and there are 4 million Pashtuns living in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is a nation divided, a nation that holds the key to security in the region. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, a Pasthun native, has to some degree neglected the Pasthun population the past 9 years, and while keeping up a tight relationship with India, Pakistan is stirring up the Pashtuns in order to undermine the Afghan government.

The relationship amongst the Pashtun people is one of the reasons why the U.S. objective of a secure and stable Afghanistan has failed so far. Pashtunwali, the Pashtun social code, was one of the reasons the Pashtun population of Baluchistan, FATA and the North West Frontier Province in Pakistan gave shelters to the Taliban and al-Qaeda warriors, and thereby letting them regroup and conduct operations, rest and recreate, and train from inside their bases within Pakistan. This creates a situation that makes it difficult for the U.S. and NATO to achieve their goals in Afghanistan, as most of the main insurgent groups have their bases in Pakistan. The provinces of Helmand, Kandahar and Kunar are the most violent regions in Afghanistan, and the insurgents in these provinces conduct their operations from Pakistan (e.g. the Quetta Shura and the Haqqani network)

Read the rest of this entry »

As the international community views all Israel settlements as illegal, Israelis moved in to 4 new villages only hours after the 10 month building moratorium was over. The political goal of the settlers is to occupy so much land that a shared state between Israel and Palestine will be impossible. What will happen to the peace talks between Israel and Palestine now is uncertain. The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said this Saturday that Israel now will have to choose between “peace or settlements”. Abbas now is in a tight spot, as he risks losing support with both the Palestinians and members of his own Fatah party if he continues the peace talks even though the Israelis are restarting their settlements processes. At the same time, Fatah has started a reappeasement process with Hamas, and they have appearantly agreed upon the procedures for new elections. As Israel sees Hamas as a terrorist group, and so does the EU and the U.S., it might be difficult for Abbas to have a normalized relationship with Hamas, and still negotiate peace talks with Israel.

Abbas has said that the peace talks will end if Israel restarts the building of the settlements, but the Palestinian president has called a meeting with the Arab League on October 4th to discuss the situation, and review his options. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has said that his intentions for peace are genuine. The big issue still remains that as long as the Israelis are building settlements in the middle of the West Bank, the more unlikely will we see a two-state solution to this conflict. And even if the peace talks will be somewhat successful, the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip will still be in conflict with Israel, as Israel only recognizes Hamas as a terrorist organization.

However, the U.S. pressure to keep the peace talks going might be the extra push to the backs of both the Palestinians and the Israelis (at least to get back on track). The U.S., in the long run, is hoping that the parties will go back to negotiate the Arabian Initiative from 2001/02 that said that if Israel will withdraw from the occupied areas, there will be a total peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a meeting with the Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem. Syria is essential in this, considering that Israel still occupies the Golan Heights. Even though such an agreement may seem long ahead in the future, it is a beginning.

By Jenn Piatt
Jennifer is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about Jennifer below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

The question has been asked, what role does one envision young people possessing in the context of US-Muslim relations. Before one can define a particular role for the nation’s youth, one must understand what is meant by “US-Muslim relations”.

The “Muslim World” does not fit into a box. “US-Muslim relations” should be understood as the relationship between the US and Muslim countries and the separate, but important perspective of the US and its own American Muslims.

As of 2009, Muslims made up nearly 23% of the world’s population and inhabited at least five continents. For many, the typical Muslim image is that of a Middle Easterner with Bedouin robes. Yet, nearly 60% of the world’s Muslims are Asian. While the faith remains consistent, the practices and daily life of the world’s Muslims are drastically different. American youth must learn to understand the difference. Indeed, the danger to the long-term relationship between the US and Muslims is the notion that the “Muslim World” somehow speaks, acts, and looks the same. Americans would hardly entertain the notion that all of its youth supported President Obama and in the alternative, President Bush.

In the context of pluralism, American youth are appropriately positioned to address this issue. The specific role can materialize in many ways, but perhaps the easiest is doing what youth naturally know to do; remain open to new ideas, engage the world, its people and its food at every opportunity, strive to see the similarities and explore the differences, travel and perhaps most importantly, talk to their fellow students about what they discover. These natural actions have a great and lasting impact and will undoubtedly produce a generation of youth more capable of approaching the world’s problems.

Jennifer is currently a JD/MS candidate at Creighton University’s School of Law in Omaha, Nebraska. Jennifer earned a BA in Political Science, minoring in Chicano/Latino Studies and is interested in working on U.S. Policy to the Middle East. Jennifer is married to a Muslim from Saudi Arabia and has two children. She believes in the capacity of students to bring about a more peaceful and sustainable world through travel, mobilization and engagement.

By Kevin Hudnell
Kevin is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about Kevin below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

Faced with the challenge of improving “U.S.-Muslim relations,” three people could come up with three different interpretations of exactly what that term encompasses. One would be concerned with how American society continues to view the American Muslim population with prejudice and suspicion. The second might be concerned about how the U.S. treats the worldwide Muslim population and how that population thinks of the U.S. in turn. A third might be concerned with the faltering relations between the U.S. and various Muslim governments.

Yet these three problems are all connected. The treatment of Muslims in America has to square with our message of tolerance to Muslims abroad, and the success of U.S. interaction with Muslim governments is limited by how those governments see the U.S. treating Muslims at home and abroad. So, while the average American has little power to directly better the chances of amicable relations with Iran or bring about a peaceable resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, efforts to advance U.S.-Muslim relations here at home can advance U.S.-Muslim relations abroad as well.

There’s no unique role for college students to play in determining how the U.S. treats its Muslim population. But people, in general, have a responsibility here and young people are best poised to shoulder it. We have the option of inheriting stereotypes and prejudices passed down to us by the elder generation or passed on to us by the media, or not. We have the option of going out in the streets protesting the “Ground Zero Mosque,” or not. We have the option of looking no better to foreign audiences than Hezbollah supporters burning American flags look to us, or not.

Young people cannot directly affect U.S. foreign policy. We can, however, start working to engender an atmosphere in which well-reasoned and intelligent policy can take root.

Kevin Hudnell graduated from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill with a double major in Peace, War and Defense and Public Policy Analysis. His research interests focus on relations both among Middle Eastern states and between the Middle East and the U.S. He has traveled and studied in Egypt, Syria, and Turkey. His peers have described him variously as a strategic genius, a political pragmatist, and a jerk.

By Eamon Penland

As a follow-up to my first post, and in a response to a recent AIDemocracy tweet, I decided to address the issue of development with regards to our security.

Just the other night I had a conversation with a friend who tried to argue against our foreign aid budget. He argued that development should neither be an objective of U.S. foreign policy, nor an issue we should be concerned with.

I think the role that the United States plays in the development of other countries is still seen by many in the light of “liberal tree huggers that just want to save the world”. It should be seen in a light of the ultimate form of American protectionism.

We need to realize that terrorism is more than just an ideology. It is an economic system as well. In David Kilcullen’s book, The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One, Kilcullen argues that a majority of terrorists have no interest in what he calls “Takfiri Islam”. This is the radical form of Islam that we associate with terrorism. Takfiri believers infiltrate tribes by marrying into families, thus they are able to conceal themselves amongst the local more moderate believers. These radicals are small in numbers, and they become extremely difficult to pick out of local populations.

Read the rest of this entry »

Calendar

October 2017
M T W T F S S
« Dec    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

Twitter Posts

%d bloggers like this: