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Abstract: The recent political upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa region have exposed growing concerns about conflict risk, political stability, and reform prospects across its societies. Given the prevalence of oil and gas resource endowments in the region, which a voluminous literature suggests can be associated with adverse development consequences, this paper examines the interplay between their associated rents and political economy trajectories. The contribution of the paper is threefold: first, to examine the quantitative evidence of violent conflict in the region since 1960; second, to provide a nuanced review of the regional case study literature on the relationship between resource endowments, political stability, and conflict risk; and third, to assess how prospective political transitions have implications for the World Bank Group's work in the region on public sector management and private sector development. The authors find that resources and regimes have intersected to provide stability and limited violent conflict in the region, but that these development patterns have yielded a set of policy choices and development patterns that are proving increasingly brittle and unsustainable. A major institutional challenge for reforms will be to consolidate a requisite degree of inter-temporal credibility and stability in these regimes, while expanding inclusiveness in state-society relations.
Abstract: This year Kuwait is celebrating 50 years of independence. But for around 10 per cent of its population—known as “bidoon”—the anniversary also marks 50 years of statelessness.
”Bidoon” means “without” in Arabic, indicating that this group—estimated to range between 90,000 and 180,000 people—lives without nationality. Not considered as nationals by Kuwait or any other state, bidoon are stateless. While Kuwaiti nationals enjoy a large number benefits and subsidies, stateless people in this small but very wealthy country live in slum-like settlements on the outskirts of its cities, where they suffer numerous human rights violations.
This report outlines the history of the bidoon issue in Kuwait and their current situation. It discusses the relevant legal framework, with particular focus on discrimination in access to and withdrawal of nationality. It also analyzes Kuwait’s international obligations in the areas of nationality and statelessness, and offers policy recommendations.
Abstract: National security is normally seen in terms of military strength and internal security operations against extremists and insurgents. The upheavals that began in Tunis, and now play out from Pakistan to Morocco,. have highlighted the fact that national security is measured in terms of the politics, economics, and social tensions that shape national stability as well. It is all too clear that the wrong kind of internal security efforts, and national security spending that limits the ability to meet popular needs and expectations can do as much to undermine national security over time as outside and extremist threats.
It is equally clear that calls for democracy are at best only the prelude to dealing with critical underlying problems, pressures, and expectations. It is far from certain that even successful regime change can evolve into functional democracies and governance. Countries with no political parties and experienced leaders, with no history of checks and balances in government, with weak structure of governance led by new political figures with no administrative experience, will often descend into chaos, extremism, or a new round of authoritarianism. Even the best governments, however, are unlikely to change an economy and national infrastructure in less than half a decade, and existing demographic pressures will inevitably go on for at least the next decade.
Abstract: Kuwait has been pivotal to nearly two decades of U.S. efforts to reduce a threat posed by Iraq. After U.S. forces liberated Kuwait from Iraqi invading forces in February 1991, Kuwait was the central location from which the United States contained Saddam during 1991-2003, and it hosted the bulk of the U.S.-led force that invaded Iraq in March 2003 to remove Saddam from power. It is the key route through U.S. troops have been withdrawing from during 2009-2011.
Although Kuwait remains a staunch U.S. ally, it is troubled domestically. For the past five years, wrangling between the elected National Assembly and the ruling Al Sabah family primarily over the political dominance and alleged corruption of the Al Sabah has brought virtual political paralysis to Kuwait. Political infighting has tarnished Kuwait's reputation in the Persian Gulf as a model of protections of rule of law and human rights as the Al Sabah have turned to increasingly harsh measures to suppress dissent. These measures have included beatings of demonstrators and imprisonments of journalists. However, Kuwait's tradition of vibrant civil society and expression of opinion led to the resignation of the Interior Minister, held responsible for repressive measures, on February 7, 2011, in advance of a planned public demonstration.
Abstract: This paper will explore the connections between internal security, external stability and international events in the Gulf States. It will examine how Gulf security has been affected by globalisation and the emergence of the Global War on Terror. This has occurred within the context of a changing international environment characterised by the deeply-flawed projection of unilateral American military power in Iraq and the rise of Russia, China and India as regional competitors for the region’s energy resources. Therefore the paper will focus on the multiple and overlapping challenges to Gulf security, and assess how the six member-states of the Gulf Cooperation Council can best adapt to the shifting international order. It will place security issues within the broader political and economic context and examine the cross-border and ideational challenges to internal security and external stability.
Abstract: This paper discusses the diverging perceptions
and responses of Middle Eastern Arab states to the
issue of climate change. It shows how these states’
policies at the regional and international level have
been shaped, even conditioned, by motivations of
economic security of the oil revenue-dependent
states in the region. It also points out the problems
of this kind of an approach and gives suggestions and
justifications for a more balanced policy approach to
climate change. It is argued that the Gulf oil exporting
monarchies need to take a more constructive and
balanced approach to international climate change
mitigation, as this is the precondition for achieving
functional regional cooperation in this area. In the
future, failing to cooperate regionally will exacerbate
climate change-induced problems and instability in
the entire region. Climate change is by its nature a transboundary
problem. The Middle East is considered to be one
of the most vulnerable regions in the world to its
negative impacts. This is even more significant given
that the Middle East is also one of the most volatile
regions in the world in terms of inter- and intrastate
conflict and instability.
Abstract: As the governments of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) undertake the difficult process of enacting social and political change, the unequal status of women presents a particularly formidable challenge. In Iraq, deliberations over women's legal status have been as contentious as negotiations over how to structure the government. In Jordan, measures to increase penalties for so-called honor crimes faced strong resistance by ultraconservative parliamentarians and ordinary citizens who believe that tradition and religion afford them the right to severely punish and even murder female relatives for behavior they deem immoral. These debates are not just legal and philosophical struggles among elites. They are emotionally charged political battles that touch upon fundamental notions of morality and social order.
In order to provide a detailed look at the conditions faced by women in the Middle East and understand the complex environment surrounding efforts to improve their status, Freedom House conducted a comprehensive study of women's rights in the region. The first edition of this project was published in 2005. The present edition offers an updated examination of the issue, with a special focus on changes that have occurred over the last five years. Although the study indicates that a substantial deficit in women's rights persists in every country in the MENA region, the findings also include notable progress, particularly in terms of economic opportunities, educational attainment, and political participation.
Abstract: Kuwait, which has been pivotal to nearly two decades of U.S. involvement in Iraq, has been
mired for the past three years in internal wrangling between the elected National Assembly and
the ruling Al Sabah family primarily over the political dominance of the Al Sabah. In March
2009, this infighting led to the second constitutional dissolution of the National Assembly in the
past year, setting up new parliamentary elections on May 16, 2009. Among other effects, the
political stalemate has delayed or caused cancellation of key energy projects, including some
projects involving major foreign energy firms, as well as of measures to help Kuwait deal with
the effects of the global financial and economic crisis.
The elections produced many new deputies in the 50-seat Assembly, including four women, the
first to be elected to the Assembly in Kuwait since women were given the vote in 2005. However,
the elections did not resolve the government-Assembly political disputes or produce meaningful
progress on major issues, and there is the potential for yet another dissolution of the Assembly
and new elections.
Abstract: In this talk, Richard Barrett opens with remarks about al-Qaida's current status (in particular the slackening pace of attacks), and moves into a survey of al-Qaida's affiliates in the various regions of the world, then covers al-Qaida and the Taliban in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region in considerable depth. He says, "I think the capabilities that al-Qaida and its affiliates have have also reduced. I think there are fewer really
competent people engaged in terrorism, and I want to talk a little later about some of the people
who have been killed recently, but also the nature of the new recruits to some of these groups.
And I think also, the whole presentation of al-Qaida as an international movement with groups
acting in concert all over the world – that, too, has deteriorated. They’ve not been able to sustain
that image in the short term. And most of the targets for terrorist groups are now essentially
local, and they are no longer so obviously linked to some sort of global agenda."
Abstract: While much of the world has focused on Iran’s missile developments, and possible nuclear capabilities, this is only one of the risks that threaten the flow of petroleum products from the Gulf – a region with some 60% of the world’s proven conventional oil reserves and 40% of its natural gas. Far more immediate threats have emerged in terms of asymmetric warfare, terrorism, piracy, non-state actors, and other threats.
The Burke Chair at CSIS has developed a new briefing that provides an overview of these threats, showing current trends and highlighting the strategic geography involved. This brief looks beyond Gulf waters and examines the problems created by Iran’s ties to other states and non-state actors throughout the region. It highlights Iran’s capabilities for asymmetric warfare, but it also examines the threat from terrorism and the role it can play in nations like Yemen. It looks at the trends in piracy and in the threat in the Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, and Indian Ocean.
The key issues addressed are: Terrorism, asymmetric Warfare, maritime and Border Security, combating piracy, critical facilities and infrastructure, role of chokepoints, and role of State and non-state actors.
Abstract: Those who live through dramatic democratic transitions, whether in Spain, Poland, or the Philippines, often describe a similar sequence of feelings—first wisps of hope, then tremendous uncertainty followed by elation during the transition itself, concluding with the slow disillusionment that the extraordinary birth of democracy leads to a mundane day-to-day politics in which various individuals and groups work the system to realize their short-term interests.
Residents of the Arab world have been denied this set of experiences. But in a sense, Kuwaitis have been living through a very drawn out version of a democratic transition. And they have experienced some of the emotions described above, but in an odd sequence.
Abstract: A brainstorming session on the impact of conflict-driven displacement in the ESCWA region was
held at UN House, Beirut on 9 February 2009. The session was organized by the Section for Emerging
and Conflict Related Issues (ECRI) in order to discuss and solicit inputs and comments on a
forthcoming ESCWA study on the socio-economic impact of displacement in the ESCWA region. The
session provided an opportunity to discuss the challenges posed by displaced populations on host
countries in the region, as well as possible solutions to these challenges. Other topics covered during
the session included the need to formulate clear policy recommendations for ESCWA member countries
and future collaboration between ECRI and United Nations agencies on regional responses to the
problem of displacement.
Abstract: The Obama administration's emphasis on "smart power" is by now well known. To most observers, that has meant the need to "balance and integrate all elements of our national power" in order to deter and defeat emerging threats, as President Barack Obama himself put it in a speech at National Defense University in Washington on March 12.
Many have focused on Obama's insistence, in the same speech, that "we cannot continue to push the burden on to our military alone" and his commitment to "comprehensive engagement with the world." What has gotten less attention is the central role Obama foresees in this approach for "strengthened partnerships with . . . foreign militaries and security forces that can combat . . . common enemies."
The principle underpins Obama's new, "cooperative" strategy for the Afghanistan war, announced last week. But it also applies to the Middle East, where Washington is quietly building an alliance of heavily armed, pro-U.S. nations meant to contain Iran.
This plan relies on record levels of arms sales to friendly Middle Eastern governments, particularly of missile-defense systems. "Bilateral active missile-defense measures underway are vital elements of regional deterrence and of defensive cooperation, and they should be expanded," Gen. David Petraeus, commander of all U.S. forces in the Middle East and Central Asia, said at a December summit in the United Arab Emirates.
U.S. government-brokered Foreign Military Sales doubled to more than $20 billion between 2005 and 2006. By 2008, proposed FMS deals had reached a record $50 billion. Three-quarters of the sales were requested by Middle East allies. Washington subsidizes around 20 percent of the weapons deals to the region.
Abstract: It was 1990 and tensions were rising in the Middle East as Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had begun using progressively heated rhetoric toward the United States. First, in a February 1990 speech, he blasted “the faint-hearted who would argue that, as a superpower, the United States will be the decisive factor and others have no choice to submit.” Then at Iraq’s Revolution Day celebration on July 17 of that year, Hussein again taunted the West, saying that “O God almighty, be witness that we have warned them,” threatening unspecified harm. And perhaps most boldly, in that same Revolution Day speech, Hussein said that “If words fail to protect Iraqis, something effective must be done to return things to their natural course and to return usurped rights to their owners.”
Just days later, Hussein turned his bluster into action by ordering 100,000 troops from Iraq’s Army, then the fourth largest Army in the world, to Iraq’s border with Kuwait. On August 1, 1990, Iraqi Republican Guard T-72 tanks, blazing under the cover of darkness, stormed into Kuwait. International reaction led by President George H.W. Bush was swift. On August 5, Bush deployed U.S. troops to the Gulf, seeking withdraw of Iraqi forces from Kuwait and telling the nation that Iraq’s aggression “would not stand.” After a several-month troop buildup, and facing what appeared to be an unyielding Iraqi regime steadfast in its desire to stay in Kuwait, President Bush in a November 1990 speech suggested that the US buildup in Saudi Arabia would culminate in offensive action against Iraq – a marked departure from his original assertion that the US would assume only a defensive posture.
Two months after that speech, claiming that “the world could wait no longer,” Bush announced on January 16, 1991 that the US military had begun conducting airstrikes against Iraq. The 100 hours war as it would later be called, lasted less time than most experts had predicted – a coup for the US military.
Against the backdrop of the Soviet Union’s collapse, America’s lightning-fast victory over Iraq appeared to signal an era of unipolarity. And as the first war to unfold in real-time on 24-hour cable news networks, the indelible images of American military prowess in the Persian Gulf – Patriot Missiles and Humvee All-Terrain Vehicles to name a few – earned worldwide acclaim. But perhaps just as important as these glamorous tools of battle, yet burdened with a remarkably lower profile, were US Civil Affairs assets, which made monumental contributions in support of combat and post-combat efforts in Iraq and Kuwait.
Indeed, this case study illuminates the numerous contributions of US Civil Affairs assets both in Iraq and Kuwait during combat and post-combat phases. From preventing civilian interference with US combat missions, to taking care of displaced citizens/refugees, to providing essential emergency support for Kuwaitis in the hours immediately following that country’s liberation, Civil Affairs personnel played a vital role in Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM. By any standard, CA operations in DESERT SHIELD/STORM were highly effective, aiding displaced citizens, helping rebuild Kuwait, and even saving lives. Perhaps most notable among these Civil Affairs achievements was the contribution of the Kuwait Task Force, which in the pre-war months identified functional experts and planned for post-war liberation by closely coordinating with the Kuwaiti government-in-exile and with US Government civilian agencies.
But in addition to these dramatic successes, this case study will also identify and address the hiccups, hurdles and roadblocks that limited CA effectiveness. Among the items to be discussed include planning for Civil Affairs that was ad hoc, infrequent, and ill-informed, Army and US government (USG) misunderstanding of CA assets, and uneven distribution of CA assets.
Abstract: Pendant longtemps, le Moyen-Orient a été vu essentiellement à travers les menaces qui pesaient sur l'approvisionnement des pays occidentaux en pétrole et la confrontation entre Israël et les pays arabes. Le champ géographique était ainsi localisé, les menaces et conflits étaient bien identifiés avec ds périodes de tension pouvant déboucher sur des crises ouvertes comme en 1967, 1973 ou 1979. Certes, les conflits perduraient, qu'il s'agisse du Liban ou de la Palestine, mais des gestions de crise pragmatiques permettaient d'en circonscrire la portée. Depuis le début de ce siècle - le 11 septembre 2001 étant considéré à cet égard comme une rupture -, les turbulences de cette région s'intensifient, se développent et s'étendent géographiquement vers l'est, faisant apparaître de nouveaux acteurs. Du Liban au Pakistan, les fronts de crise se multiplient.
Abstract: Has the association of democracy promotion with U.S. foreign policy, and especially with the occupation of Iraq, spawned a backlash and led ordinary Arab citizens to question whether democracy is appropriate for their countries? Certainly the United States’ lack of even-handedness in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has long been a major Arab complaint, and more recently the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq have given rise to widespread anti-American sentiment in the Arab world. Associated with this is U.S. government insistence that its actions in Iraq are part of an effort to promote democracy in the Arab world.
To examine the relationship between anti-Americanism based on antipathy toward U.S. foreign policy, on the one hand, and views about desirability of democracy on the other, we analyze data from the Arab Barometer project. With scientific and administrative leadership provided by a team that includes prominent scholars from five Arab countries, as well as the present authors, the Arab Barometer carried out in 2006-2007 face-to-face interviews with large and representative national samples of ordinary citizens in seven Arab societies: Algeria, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, and Yemen. A total of 8,555 men and women were interviewed. Information about the organization, methodology and findings of the Arab Barometer may be found at http://www.arabbarometer.org/.
Three charts based on data from the Arab Barometer surveys are presented in order to assess whether and how anti-Americanism and judgments about U.S. foreign policy influence attitudes about democracy. The first chart examines the level of support for democracy in the seven Arab Barometer countries and shows that support is consistently strong. A second chart presents responses to a question about U.S. democracy promotion efforts. The view that U.S. actions in the Arab world are not contributing to democratization hints at broader discontent with U.S. involvement in the region. Indeed, as shown in Chart 3, dissatisfaction with U.S. policy is strong enough to lead many Arab citizens to agree with a statement that asks whether "U.S. involvement in the region justifies armed operations against the U.S. everywhere."
Abstract: The Shi‘a political ascendancy in Iraq, Hizbullah’s gains in Lebanon and the
increasing assertiveness of Iran within the Persian Gulf region have given rise
to fears amongst some Sunni leaders of the emergence of a so-called ‘Shi‘a
crescent ’challenging the established political order in the Middle East. These
concerns are particularly strong in a number of oil-rich Gulf states. A closer
examination of the political situation in which the Shi‘a of Kuwait, Bahrain
and Saudi Arabia find themselves, however, reveals that such fears are
The Iranian Revolution in 1979 had sparked similar fears and while the
1980s were marked by tensions, and sometimes by violent confrontations,
between Shi‘a and Sunni in a number of Gulf countries, the trend since then
has been for most Arab Gulf Shi‘a to seek political change through
conciliation rather than confrontation. In addition, the socio-economic and
political situations that the Gulf Shi‘a find themselves in differs markedly
between states. They are well integrated into the system in Kuwait, achieving
greater recognition in Saudi Arabia but are politically marginalised in
Bahrain despite constituting a majority of the population. Rather than
looking for the rise of any Shi‘a ‘crescent’, it is far more instructive in terms
of future regional Sunni/Shi‘a relations to examine how individual states
have responded to Shi‘a demands for an improvement in their political and
Abstract: Once a year, the Gulf Research Center (GRC), the Geneva Center for Security Policy (GCSP), the RAND Corporation and the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University gather in Gstaad, Switzerland, to analyze and take stock of the strategic situation of the Middle East Region. The 2008 conference focused on the various geopolitical and regional dynamics including the emergence of the Arab Gulf States as significant factors in regional relations; the changing priorities vis-à-vis the Middle East from external actors such as Europe, Asia and Russia; the evolving priorities of the United States as it deals with the continuing challenges of Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and the Arab-Israeli conflict; the economic consequences as a result of the rising price of oil; and the broader transition taking place with the rise of non-state actors, the erosion of state power and the emergence of sub-regional dynamics. Within the context, the conference also took an issue-specific view that included the Arab-Israeli Conflict, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and its relationship with the Middle East, and Iran and the Arab Gulf States. The central themes that ran through this conference included the growing interconnection between problems in the region, therefore making it more difficult to articulate an analysis along national lines; the emergence of ‘bottom-up’ or ‘micro’ politics in Lebanon, Israel (among the Arab population), and the Kurds in Northern Iraq and Turkey; the continuing need for the US in the Middle East; the confusion between transactional and transformational policies; and, finally, the idea of “wildcards”, i.e. unpredictable events which could change the dynamics of the region. The conference concluded with the following assessment: “Regardless of the uncertainty surrounding what the future holds for the Middle East, one thing is certain. We are living a transitional period. In the past, outside powers dealt with one leader, who assumed control over all coercive parts of the states (the security state). This was easier to a certain extent, though the West bemoaned the lack of democracy. Now, the West is regretting the weakness of states and the often --too- lively, and unpredictable politics. Iraq and Lebanon appear to be losing control, but perhaps because a different political culture is emerging. We are experiencing the end of the autocratic, authoritarian period, and heading towards a new era. In the meantime, however, we see something stirring and unpredictable taking place. Perhaps, we should therefore look at it without judgment?”
Abstract: When the United Arab Emirates announced in June it was forgiving billions of dollars in Iraqi debt (Al Arabiya), President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed vowed to alleviate "the economic burden faced by the brotherly Iraqi people." But some observers saw the move more as an investment in security than an economic bailout. "The bottom line is that the Iraqi crisis can spill over to impact the political, security, and strategic scene" in Gulf Arab states, writes Abdulaziz O. Sager, chairman of the Gulf Research Center in Dubai. Arab diplomacy may be " a first step" to containing that threat, Sager writes.
Abstract: The present report is submitted pursuant to paragraph 14 of Security Council resolution 1284 (1999), in which the Council requested me to report every four months on the compliance by Iraq with its obligations regarding the repatriation or return of all Kuwaiti and third-country nationals or their remains and every six months on the return of all Kuwaiti property, including archives, seized by Iraq. Since June 2006, the frequency of reports on the compliance by Iraq with its obligations regarding the repatriation or return of all Kuwaiti and third-country nationals or their remains has been reduced from every four months to every six months (see S/2006/468 and S/2006/469). Since then, my reports under paragraph 14 of resolution 1284 (1999), including the present one, have covered both issues: Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and property. My twenty-fifth report (S/2007/712) was submitted in December 2007. Following the untimely demise of Ambassador Yuli Vorontsov in December 2007, and after conducting consultations with the parties concerned, I appointed Ambassador Gennady Tarasov of the Russian Federation as the High-level Coordinator for the repatriation or return of all Kuwaiti and third-country nationals or their remains and the return of all Kuwaiti property, including archives, seized by Iraq. The effective date of his appointment is 24 April 2008.
Abstract: Australia’s withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq should not signal a
withdrawal of Australian security engagement in the Gulf region.
Australia’s ongoing economic, political and security interests in the
region require a coherent approach rather than one of benign neglect
interspersed with occasional bursts of self-interested attention.
Abstract: A new report by the Burke Chair at CSIS focuses on the range of uncertainties that will shape events before the new President takes office. It is not enough, however, for a President to take the oath of office, It takes time to put a new team in place and to take effective action. In the real world, the next President will not be able to fully shape a policy for either war, and gather real momentum in implementing it, until the fall of 2009. That is two military campaign seasons and a host of political developments from now.
This means pragmatic, realistic policy has to be based on how events have changed between this spring and mid to late 2009. If things get steadily better in Iraq in the interim, it would be irresponsible to withdraw without recognizing that fact and seeking some form of victory. If things fall apart in ways that make Iraq security and stability impossible to achieve, it would be equally mindless to irresponsible until 2013.
Abstract: Le 17 mai prochain se tiendront au Koweït des élections législatives anticipées. Dans ce contexte, et pour mieux comprendre le cadre dans lequel se dérouleront ces échéances électorales, il peut paraître utile de revenir sur le fonctionnement politique de ce petit émirat relativement méconnu en France.
Abstract: On March 19, Kuwaiti emir Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah dissolved the country's parliament and called for new elections to be held on May 17. This drastic step reflects two distinct sets of tensions, both of which Kuwait has overcome in the past: tensions between the executive branch and parliament, and tensions between fundamentalists from the Sunni majority and the Shiite minority. The conjunction of these divisions is unusual and poses a serious political test for this small but strategically vital state -- a nation that borders Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, pumps more oil than Iraq, and quietly hosts about 70,000 U.S. troops at any given moment. The political troubles have become all the more sensitive because many Kuwaitis suspect Iran of fomenting new sectarian strife within their borders.