J. Chaaban, D. Haidar, R. Ismail, R. Khoury and M. Shidrawi |
09 Oct, 2016
In an article published by The Economist on May 11 2016, the magazine predicted that Lebanon’s political newcomer “Beirut Madinati’s impressive share [in municipal electoral votes] may be enough to give it momentum to make next year’s general election a lot more interesting. ” Although legislative elections are different in both form and in content from municipal ones Beirut Madinati made change possible, which could well impact national elections. This hope for a snowball effect, however, must not be taken for granted and the gains of Beirut Madinati should not be limited to an illusion of change. For this reason, the results of the municipal elections should be studied so that actual gains might be made, and a way forward identified.
This paper assesses the position of the armed Syrian opposition four years after the militarization of the country’s revolution. It considers the implications of the shift in operations to ISIL-held territories in the north, which have become pivotal to the outcome of the conflict. Within this context, the continued internecine divisions that have paralyzed the armed Syrian opposition, specifically those armed groups operating as part of the Free Syrian Army, are considered anew. Internal divisions continue to reflect not only a multiplicity of foreign funding sources but are further rooted in the diversity of circumstances that lead to the formation of each group.
Where one camp regards Russia’s moves in Syria as a genuine effort from Moscow to combat terrorism, and is seen as a part of Moscow’s own war on terror, others suspect Putin of pursuing a secret agenda in the Middle East. This latter camp holds that, in launching strikes, Moscow aims to eradicate the moderate Syrian opposition so that it might keep Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad’s crumbling regime afloat.
This analysis argues that the main factors driving Russia’s intervention were: the changing military dynamics in Syria that began in spring 2015 and saw a real challenge posed to regime forces, the shifting balances in the international system after the P5+1 agreement, and Russia’s desire to flex its military muscle in the Middle East. The paper then goes on to examine the implications of Russia’s military intervention for Turkish foreign policy.
The Obama administration’s strategy to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has come under the spotlight once again with the fall of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s al-Anbar province, to ISIL control on May 17, 2015. Hugely outnumbered and outgunned, a mere several hundred ISIL fighters forced the flight of Iraqi army regulars from Ramadi, who abandoned their American weaponry behind them – a scene recalling all too clearly the fall of Mosul just one year earlier. Washington’s difficulties were compounded by the fall, only a few days later, of the Syrian town of Palmyra, as ISIL expelled the Syrian regime’s forces. These two successes of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria were achieved despite nearly nine months of air strikes launched against it by the United States and a number of its allies, giving rise to further doubts concerning the extent to which Obama’s strategy of “degrading” and then “destroying” ISIL can be said to be actually working.
The “republican march” held in Paris on January 11, following the attack on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, was rich in symbolism. It also provided some participating Arab leaders with the opportunity to proclaim their stance, send strong policy messages on their role in combatting terrorism, enhance their international standing and confront their domestic opponents.
Tunisia has thus far been the most successful post-Arab Spring state in terms of the efforts towards a democratic transition. This Case Analysis examines the factors that motivated Tunisian voters during the October, 2014 parliamentary elections which preceded the presidential elections two months later.
The Israeli assault on Gaza in July, 2014, was the latest in a series of attacks on the territory by the Israelis. Unlike the December, 2012 Israeli attack, however, "Operation Protective Edge" came at a time when the Arab regional order was torn about its response to the Arab Spring and, crucially, when Egypt was ruled by a military regime opposed to Hamas. Khaled Walid Mahmoud examines the factors behind the economic and political effort to rebuild the tiny Palestinian enclave.
Expectations were high that the latest round of negotiations held in Vienna in November between Iran, Germany and the five permanent member states of the Security Council –the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China – would conclude with an agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme. Resilient dialogue between Washington and Tehran, whether via letters between President Obama and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, telephone calls between President Obama and President Rouhani, or the frequent communications between the Iranian and US Foreign Ministers, were promising signs of a potential deal finally being reached. Yet, after almost a year of talks, negotiators have once again extended talks for a comprehensive agreement, this time until July 2015.