All analyses in chronological order - Afro-Middle East Centre

By Ahmet Davutoglu

In May 2010, Turkey agreed to a groundbreaking 'uranium trade deal' with Iran. A closer examination of Turkey's foreign policy reveals how it is elevating its position among the society of states. In this article, Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, outlines the main methodological and opreational principles driving his government's foreign policy.

Davetoglu writes that there are three methodological and five operational principles driving Turkey's foreign policy.

Somalia's Divided Islamists

  • 25 May, 2010
  • Published in Somalia

By International Crisis Group

Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) must engage dissidents among the country's insurgent groups in order to strengthen its authority and combat al-Qaeda inspired extremists.

'Somalia's Divided Islamists', the latest briefing from the International Crisis Group, reviews the religious, ideological and clan rifts that have developed between the country's main Islamist factions since the election of Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed as leader of the TFG. It concludes that the government must reach out to elements of Harakat Al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (the Mujahideen Youth Movement) that are disenchanted with the influence of foreign jihadis in the group and the al-Qaeda sympathies among its leadership. It also suggests that many in the Somali nationalist Hizb al-Islam (Islamic Party) could be more receptive to TFG overtures.

By Ebrahim I. Ebrahim 

Remarks by South African Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ebrahim I Ebrahim, at the opening of the international conference organised by AMEC on 'Locating Ethnic States in a Cosmopolitan World: The Case of Israel', Colosseum Hotel, Pretoria, South Africa, 12 April 2010.

By International Crisis Group

After almost two decades of unsuccessful U.S.-sponsored negotiations, Palestinians are re-evaluating their approach to peace.

Tipping Point? Palestinians and the Search for a New Strategy, the latest International Crisis Group background report, discusses why Palestinians, who are most in need of a resolution, balk at resuming negotiations; why, although President Obama appears willing to be engaged and confront Israel, Palestinians have denied him the chance to advance talks; and why, seventeen years after Oslo, the best that can be done is get the parties to talk indirectly. The answer is not that the PLO or its leadership have given up on talks and the two-state solution. They have invested too much for too long to shift course swiftly and radically. Rather, they seek to redress the power imbalance with Israel by pressing their case internationally, reinvigorating statebuilding, and encouraging a measure of popular resistance.

By International Crisis Group

Istanbul/Brussels: Turkey's sometimes controversial new Middle East activism is an asset to the EU and U.S., and attractive in the region, but only if Ankara pursues its long-standing integration with the West.

Turkey and the Middle East: Ambitions and Constraints, the latest International Crisis Group report, assesses the country's growing regional engagement within the broader frame of its foreign and trade policy. In the past several years, Ankara has launched multiple initiatives aimed at stabilising the Middle East by facilitating efforts to reduce conflicts and engaging in multilateral regional platforms.

By Basheer Moosa Nafi

In the recent Iraqi elections, the Al-Iraqiya alliance secured a victory over the list of the State of Law coalition by only two seats. This is not a significant difference, but it is a definite win in the shadow of fragmenting Iraqi politics, and a win which occurred despite the fact that Al-Iraqiya was the only list which did not have supporters inside the Electoral Commission. A number of questions arise as a consequence of the results of the second Iraqi election to have taken place since the invasion and the beginning of the occupation of that country. What do these results mean for the position of major Iraqi political powers? What are the scenarios for possible coalitions which are necessary for the formation of the next government? What future do these results predict for the state and for Iraq as a whole?

By AlJazeera Centre for Studies

It is not an exaggeration that domestic Turkish politics has been experiencing an ongoing crisis since the 1960 military coup, which resulted in the overthrow of the long-standing Menderes government and condemned the head of state to the gallows. In the five decades since the coup d’état, Turkey has witnessed two direct military interventions and three indirect interventions; this is apart from countless covert interventions.

By Ramananda Sengupta

The savage attack on Kabul hotels housing Indian workers on 26th February 2010 - the fourth major attack on Indian interests in Afghanistan since July 2008 - is part of the proxy war between India and Pakistan fought on Afghan soil. Both South Asian nations see Afghanistan as a critical element of their strategic sphere of influence.

A day before the hotel attacks, though neither side admitted it officially, Afghanistan had brought the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan together in Delhi. The 25th February meeting was the first between India and Pakistan since the Mumbai terrorist attack of November 2008.

The dispute over Palestine is a political one but it is conducted within a legal framework. From the outset – the notorious Partition Plan contained in General Assembly Resolution 181(II) - international law has played an important role in the dispute. Today, the dispute is probably more characterized by legal argument than at any time before. It is, therefore, appropriate to consider the dispute in legal terms, as we shall be doing in this Conference.

Since the declaration of the state of Israel over sixty years ago Israel has consistently been in violation of international law. Over the years it has violated – and is still violating- some of the most fundamental norms of international law. It has been held to be in violation of international law by the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council, human rights treaty monitoring bodies and the International Court of Justice. In this respect it resembles apartheid South Africa which for over forty years violated international law by practicing racial discrimination, engaging in political repression, manufacturing nuclear weapons and carrying out military offensives against its neighbours. But there the similarity ends.

By International Crisis Group

As a rule, Iraq's post-Saddam elections have tended to magnify pre-existing negative trends. The parliamentary polls to be held on 7 March are no exception. The focus on electoral politics is good, no doubt, but the run-up has highlighted deep-seated problems that threaten the fragile recovery: recurring election-related violence; ethnic tensions over Kirkuk; the re-emergence of sectarianism; and blatant political manipulation of state institutions. The most egregious development was the decision to disqualify over 500 candidates, a dangerous, arbitrary step lacking due process, yet endorsed by the Shiite ruling parties. Under normal circumstances, that alone might have sufficed to discredit the elections. But these are not normal circumstances, and for the sake of Iraq's stability, the elections must go on. At a minimum, however, the international community should ramp up its electoral monitoring and define clear red lines that need to be respected if the results are to be considered legitimate. And it should press the next government to seriously tackle the issue – long-neglected yet never more critical – of national reconciliation.

By Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

There has been much talk in recent weeks about the possibility of another war between Israel and Hizballah and/or HAMAS (the Middle East's two most prominent resistance movements, both supported by Iran) in coming months. Perhaps most notably, President Obama's national security adviser, James Jones, told a Washington think tank audience last month that "when regimes are feeling pressure, as Iran is internally and will externally in the near future, it often lashes out through surrogates, including, in Iran's case, Hizballah in Lebanon and HAMAS in Gaza. As pressure on the regime in Tehran builds over its nuclear program, there is a heightened risk of further attacks against Israel".

By AlJazeera Centre for Studies

The London Conference, held at the end of January 2010 in recognition of, and support for, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, was the sixth international conference on Afghanistan to be held since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. It was also a consolidation of the resolutions of the Istanbul Summit, held a few days earlier, which brought together the presidents of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey and called for dialogue with the Taliban or, rather, with "the moderates among them". The first significance of the London conference is that it revealed the failure of the military option, and gave legitimacy to the Taliban and to whoever has talks with them.

By AlJazeera Centre for Studies

President Barack Obama's administration placed the stumbling Middle East "Peace Process" at the top of its list of priorities, with the intention of achieving a "two-state solution" for Palestine and Israel. To this end, Obama appointed veteran Congressman George Mitchell as his special envoy. Mitchell, and even Obama himself, have made strenuous efforts to achieve a breakthrough, albeit with the launch of new negotiations.

 

 

Summary

The continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank seems to have finally locked in the permanence of Israel's colonial project. Israel has crossed the threshold from the Middle East's only democracy to the only "apartheid regime" in the Western world. But outside intervention may offer the last hope for a reversal of the settlement enterprise and the achievement of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Since the US is no longer the likely agent of that intervention, it is up to the Europeans and to the Palestinians themselves to fashion the path to selfdetermination in the occupied territories. Essential to the success of these efforts is setting aright the chronic imbalance of power between Israel and the Palestinians. If left to their own devices – including, as some have proposed, to reconcile their conflicting historical "narratives" – the further usurpation of Palestinian lands, and the disappearance of the two state option, is all but ensured.

By Dr. Ijaz Shafi Gilani

U.S. President Barack Obama's plan to negotiate with the Taliban in Afghanistan has generally been welcomed in Pakistan. It is being seen as a vindication of the Pakistani government's long-held position that a solution to the Afghan problem should be sought through a combination of political and military means. The turmoil in Afghanistan has weighed heavily on Pakistan - more than on any other external actor related to the Afghan conflict. Thus Pakistan is genuinely keen to achieve a peaceful and stable neighbour. Its concern is to ensure that any plan for dialogue is carried to its logical conclusion, and that it does not collapse prematurely.

 

Al-Qa'ida Hot Spots

By AlJazeera Centre for Studies

At the end of the phase known as the "Afghan Jihad", most Arabs and Muslims who participated in the Afghan war returned to their homelands. Some formed the nucleus for the dissemination, in their countries, of the ideas that they carried or developed during the "jihad" period. The al-Qaeda organisation, based on the principle of global jihad, is the most prominent embodiment of these "new" ideas; new when compared to the ways that other Islamic organisations have evolved.

Differences exist in the manner in which the various al-Qaeda "branches" emerged; they vary not only in the means and methods of work but even, in some cases, in their objectives. These differences depend on circumstances prevailing in the countries where each al-Qaeda member organises. Nevertheless, there has been a common understanding that the original birth home – Afghanistan – provides the fundamental guidance to the organisation.

This paper examines al-Qaeda in three critical locations, which recently rose to prominence, in the Islamic world. It discusses the movement and some of its members; the methodology and activities of the organisation; its local and periodic objectives; its ideologies and influence; and will chart future trends for the organisation. The three locations studied here are:Pakistan and Afghanistan, Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula, and Somalia.

 

By Hassan Nafaa

Over the centuries, Egypt's foreign policy has been associated with geo-strategic factors that were dictated by geographical and historical realities, and has been characterized by relative stability. Geography has caused Egypt to rely almost entirely on the water of the Nile River which originates outside its territory and passes through several countries before reaching its southern border.

History informs us that most invaders arrived in Egypt via the north-eastern gate and often continued their advance in the direction of Palestine and the Levant to secure their occupation. The invaders who intended to occupy Palestine and the Levant usually continued their advance in the direction of Egypt to ensure their survival in the East, thus making Egypt, Palestine, and the Levant a single strategic cluster with a single linked destiny.

By AlJazeera Centre for Studies

Early in December 2009, and after lengthy consultations, United States president Barack Obama announced his strategy in Afghanistan. At first glance, it seemed as if the approach chosen by the U.S. president aimed at the Afghanisation of the conflict; pitting Afghans against Afghans. It also seemed that his plan was based on a specific target date by which he wanted to get American troops out of the battlefield which was inaugurated by his predecessor.

Indeed, Obama's announcement makes the war in Afghanistan an American war more than in any other period since October 2001, the date that the invasion of Afghanistan began.

By Ramananda Sengupta

"Nervous China may attack India in 2012." That was the title of a recent column by Bharat Verma, editor of the Indian Defence Review, a respected quarterly published in New Delhi. Picked up and disseminated by Indian wire and news services, the article sparked numerous public and private debates in the country - not on whether Verma was correct, but on whether India was prepared for such an attack by its northern neighbour.

When the world's two fastest growing economies (even though China is way ahead in the numbers game; India's GDP per capita of $1016 pales before China's $6,100) prepare to face off, the rest of the world cannot but worry. The events in these nations will probably determine the world's future over the next decade.

By Sourav Roy

Come April 2010, officials from the sleepy Polish municipality of Morag will be gearing up for perhaps their most critical assignment in the new decade. Their job will be to provide Polish military officials overall support for the deployment of American Patriot missiles barely seventy kilometres from the Russian border. Targeted to be fully functional by the middle of this year, the main battery of this missile system will contain up to eight intercepting missiles, manned by about 100 American soldiers deployed at Morag. The Poles recently acknowledged that Morag had been strategically chosen by the Obama administration to offer the best military support and technical propping system for American forces in Europe. In other words, it will help cement America's position as the big bullying brother in Eurasia.

 

By AlJazeera Centre for Studies

Recently, the protest movement in Iran has gained fresh momentum, seizing two opportunities: the hightened tension that accompanied the funeral of the Shi'a cleric Hussain Muntadhiri, who is widely considered to be the spiritual father of the call to reform wilayat al-faqeeh or "rule of the clergy" principle from an absolute to a constitutional limited rule; and Ashura, a shi'a religious festival which masses can celebrate in public congregations without the need for a permit -something which the government has consistently refused to grant the opposition. The protests are another episode in a spiral movement that has continued since President Ahmadi- Nejad's re-election.

By Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett 

The first anniversary of Barack Obama's inauguration as President of the United States came this week. The sharpest criticism of Obama's first-year record on domestic and economic affairs came from the Nobel prize-winning economist, New York Times columnist, and Princeton professor Paul Krugman.

This line from Krugman encapsulates the concern many of us have:

"I'm pretty close to giving up on Mr. Obama, who seems determined to confirm every doubt that I and others ever had about whether he was ready to fight for what his supporters believed in."

Sudan: Preventing Implosion

  • 18 December, 2009
  • Published in Sudan

By International Crisis Group

A new report on Sudan by the International Crisis Group, called Sudan: Preventing Implosion, argues that if the international community does not step in to ensure full implementation of Sudan's North-South peace deal and shore up other failing centre-periphery agreements, the country risks a return to all-out civil war.

Sudan: Preventing Implosion, examines the situation in the run-up to national elections due next year and the early 2011 referendum on self-determination in the South. It concludes that key elements of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended the two-decades-long civil war between North and South Sudan, have not been implemented. The failure to foster democratic transformation in the North has also undermined the chances for political settlement in Darfur and exacerbated tensions in other parts of the country.

By Aisling Byrne

"Sincerely speaking," said General Dayton, "as far I am concerned, Hamas is a political issue. I do not interfere in this matter." He continued: "I would appreciate if you do not ask me political questions because, as a soldier, I do not speak in politics." Such innocuous protests from General Dayton – who, since 2005, has been the US Security Coordinator for the Palestinians – are untrue: Dayton is a political actor who essentially is overseeing and facilitating a process of political cleansing in the West Bank, the consequences of which are damaging, if not disastrous, for the Palestinian national project, for political reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, and for political engagement and prospects for peace. In essence, Dayton's work serves to enforce Israel's occupation, even if this is not its explicit intention.

Salvaging Fatah

  • 12 November, 2009

By International Crisis Group The threat by the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas not to run in the next elections is only the latest sign of the crisis facing Fatah, the movement he heads. Fatah's challenge is to clearly define its agenda, how to carry it out and with whom.

Palestine: Salvaging Fatah, the latest background report from the International Crisis Group, examines the current state of the 50-year-old movement which has been the heart of Palestinian nationalism. It argues that while Fatah has begun long-overdue internal reforms to revitalise the movement, much remains to be done. In particular, Fatah's leaders need to clarify its political strategy if it is to play an effective role in leading Palestinians toward a two-state solution.

Follow Us On Twitter

Find Us on Facebook