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Abstract: This Policy Brief examines the real and imagined influence of al-Qa‘ida in North Africa and the Sahel. Despite a perception of the transnationalization of terrorist movements in North Africa under al-Qa‘ida’s banner, robust evidence of an effective al-Qa‘ida’s expansion in the Maghreb and the Sahara/Sahel region remains elusive at best. Rather, doubts about al-Qa‘ida’s actual threat and the efficacy of international response in the context of pervasive state failure in the Sahel raise questions regarding the policy objectives of US-led counter-terrorism in the region.
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 policy brief focuses on a case study. It is suggested that an environmental disaster during the summer of 2010 in the Black Sea region triggered in winter 2011 a food crisis in the Arab World; in turn, this led to massive riots, revolts, political instability, a NATO operation and, alas, an oil crisis that accentuates an already suffering global economy. Coextensively, it may be suggested that an environmental crisis triggered a political crisis, which escalated in a series of conflicts that are of major concern for traditional security structures in Europe and beyond. In sum, the argument is made that as a result of this experience, the human security agenda must have a direct effect on our traditional security agenda. The question addressed at this point is how these interrelated chains of events affect the security establishment and our notions of a ‘high strategy.’
Abstract: The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya has witnessed
unprecedented civil unrest since 16 February
2011. As the security situation deteriorated and
casualties mounted, many countries called on
their citizens to leave the country.
Before the crisis, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
reportedly hosted over 2.5 million migrant workers
from neighbouring countries, as well as Africa and
Asia. Thousands of these workers have fled the
country since the outbreak of violence, and many
governments have requested assistance from the
International Organization for Migration (IOM) to
ensure the safe and timely return home of their
nationals. As of 28 May, over 885,600 persons,
including Libyans, have crossed the Libyan border,
with thousands more waiting to cross the border
or stranded at sea and in airports.
The purpose of this report is to provide a cumulative
overview of the evacuation operations of IOM and
its partners over the past three months through
28 May, supplemented with graphs and photos to
provide more detail. In addition to the macro-level
information, highlights of activities and caseload at
the country level are also presented in subsequent
sections. The report’s final section gives a human
face to the crisis through the personal accounts
of migrants and TCNs who benefited from IOM
Abstract: Where does Tunisia, the unlikely igniter of the Middle Eastern upheavals, stand on the democratic transition scale three months after the overthrow of the long reigning autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali? And can the country, which stood mostly by choice at the margins of Arab political life since achieving independence in 1956, serve as a democratizing exemplar for other Arab states?
Abstract: On June 2, 2011, Peacebuild, with the financial support of the International Development
Research Centre, convened a day-long discussion on the tumultuous changes taking place in the
Middle East and North Africa.
Objectives for the roundtable were to share up-to-date information on current and longer-term
political issues and dynamics, to assess areas for possible support for democratic transitions in
the region, identify areas of relevant Canadian expertise – diaspora, NGO, academic, business
sector, governmental -- and, based on the discussion, generate a set of policy options and/or
recommendations for people-to-people support, NGOs, academics and the Government of
Participants in Cairo, Ottawa and Montreal were linked into a wide-ranging discussion, which
first focused on hearing activist and expert views from the epicentre of regional change – Egypt.
Among the questions explored with human rights activist Hossam Baghat, strategic analyst
Mustafa El-Labbad, activist author May Telmissany and IDRC regional expert Roula El-Rifai were
the makeup of the reform movements in the region and their objectives, what is the real extent
of political Islam’s influence in the Middle East and what has been the role of the armed forces
in the transitions?
Abstract: North Africa is bracing itself. Not since Algeria’s brutal civil war a generation ago has the region witnessed so much turmoil and uncertainty. Angry and frustrated masses demanding improved governance and greater socioeconomic opportunities present regimes with new challenges. The need for governments to address these grievances is urgent. Failure to respond will intensify public pressure and heighten the risk of more violence.
Abstract: At the conclusion of a seven day visit to Tunisia by a delegation of anti-torture experts, the World
Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) calls on the transitional authorities and all actors in the
transition process to make the eradication of torture a priority objective. Overcoming the legacy of
a policy of widespread and systematic torture in Tunisia will be a key to the success of the
transition process. It requires a firm plan of action and a policy of zero tolerance to any incident of
torture, or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
The delegation was composed of Mr. Yves Berthelot, President of the OMCT, Mr. Eric Sottas, Secretary General of the OMCT, Mr. Gerald Staberock, Deputy Secretary General of the OMCT, as well as Mr. Roberto Garreton, member of the national human rights institute of Chile and member of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and Mr. Emilio Ginés, Vice-President of the Federation of Spanish human rights associations, and a member of the UN Sub-Committee on the Prevention of Torture (both joining this mission as OMCT expert and not in official UN function).
Abstract: On February 11, 2011, Egypt had its revolution when President Hosni Mubarak finally stepped down after 18 days of massive protests. With the military taking control and promising a transition to democracy, the question of what comes next has acquired a particular urgency. Specifically, Western fears of the Muslim Brotherhood stepping into the political vacuum have re-energized a longstanding debate about the role of Islamists in Middle Eastern politics, and the dilemma that poses for the United States. Missing from the discussion is an attempt to put the Brotherhood’s actions during the protests in historical perspective. Doing so reveals that the Brotherhood’s cautious approach to the protests over the last few tumultuous weeks has been in large part an extension of the group’s strategy of the past decades: a preference for incremental rather than revolutionary change, caution and pragmatism, and close cooperation with other Egyptian political actors.
This issues covers:
AQIM’s Objectives in North Africa;
Baltimore’s Jamaat al-Muslimeen: Promoting a Radical but Disciplined Message on Jihad;
Recent Highlights in Terrorist Activity;
Revolution in Tunisia and Egypt: A Blow to the Jihadist Narrative?;
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Role in the Egyptian Revolution;
The Tribal Allegiance System within AQIM;
The Violent Shift in Hizb al-Tahrir’s Rhetoric.
Understanding the ideological underpinnings of violent groups is crucial to countering and defeating terrorist entities. This research program examines the ideas driving modern terrorism, the transmission of those ideas, and the doctrinal schisms within violent movements.
Abstract: The world’s worst online oppressors are using an array of tactics, some reflecting astonishing levels of sophistication, others reminiscent of old-school techniques. From China’s high-level malware attacks to Syria’s brute-force imprisonments, this may be only the dawn of online oppression.
In reporting news from the world’s most troubled nations, journalists have made a seismic shift this year in their reliance on the Internet and other digital tools. Blogging, video sharing, text messaging, and live-streaming from cellphones brought images of popular unrest from the central square of Cairo and the main boulevard of Tunis to the rest of the world. Yet the technology used to report the news has been matched in many ways by the tools used to suppress information. Many of the oppressors’ tactics show an increasing sophistication, from the state-supported email in China designed to take over journalists’ personal computers, to the carefully timed cyber-attacks on news websites in Belarus. Still other tools in the oppressor’s kit are as old as the press itself, including imprisonment of online writers in Syria, and the use of violence against bloggers in Russia.
To mark World Press Freedom Day, May 3, the Committee to Protect Journalists is examining the 10 prevailing tactics of online oppression worldwide and the countries that have taken the lead in their use. What is most surprising about these Online Oppressors is not who they are—they are all nations with long records of repression—but how swiftly they adapted old strategies to the online world.
In two nations we cite, Egypt and Tunisia, the regimes have changed, but their successors have not categorically broken with past repressive practices. The tactics of other nations—such as Iran, which employs sophisticated tools to destroy anti-censorship technology, and Ethiopia, which exerts monopolistic control over the Internet—are being watched, and emulated, by repressive regimes worldwide.
Here are the 10 prevalent tools for online oppression.
Abstract: La Tunisie est le pays où tout a commencé. C’est également
le pays où la transition démocratique présente aujourd’hui
les plus fortes chances de succès. Les raisons en
sont multiples, mais la plus significative réside dans l’activisme
politique et la mobilisation sociale qui ont marqué
l’histoire contemporaine du pays et que des décennies de
répression n’ont pu mettre à mal. Cette tradition aura fortement
aidé la nation pendant le soulèvement, lors duquel
travailleurs, sans-emplois, avocats et membres de la classe
moyenne conjuguèrent leurs forces en un vaste mouvement.
Elle devra à nouveau être mise à contribution alors
que la Tunisie affronte des défis majeurs : comment satisfaire
à la fois l’envie d’un changement profond et l’impératif
de stabilité ; comment intégrer l’islamisme dans le
nouveau cadre politique ; et comment remédier aux
immenses problèmes socio-économiques qui furent à
l’origine de la révolution politique mais qu’en elle-même
cette révolution est incapable de résoudre.
Abstract: The political transitions in Egypt and Tunisia have rekindled
the interest in how states and societies have moved from authoritarian
regimes to democracy after overthrowing old regimes.
This report responds to that interest by providing a factual
overview of transitions to democracy of nine European states
between 1974 and 1991.
The states covered fall into two geographical regions:
Southern Europe, and Central and Eastern Europe. The context
of transition in each of these regions was different. The transitions
in Southern Europe took place as mainly discrete events
with little influence of one country over another. In contrast,
there was a strong regional dynamic in Central and Eastern
Europe, where all transitions were influenced by Gorbachev’s
policies of perestroika and glasnost and the loosening of the
Soviet Union’s grip on its satellite states.
Abstract: Based on a series of ten focus groups conducted in March 2011, this report explores young Tunisian's (ranging from 25-35 years of age) opinions of the recent events that led to the overthrow of the Ben Ali regime and of the political transition underway. Findings include the following:
Tunisian youth are eager to participate in their country’s democratic transition, but skeptical about available channels. Respondents were nearly unanimous in expressing a genuine desire to participate in Tunisia‘s political transition, particularly through voting in the constituent assembly elections scheduled for July 24, 2011. Such participation is seen as the logical next step for young people who are proud of their role in overthrowing the Ben Ali regime and aspire to oversee the ensuing political transition. Furthermore, having only witnessed falsified elections, youth voiced profound excitement over the prospect of electing their representatives. Young Tunisians are wary, however, about the political process and the role of the current elite. They express concern about individuals, political parties and civil society organizations attempting to profit from the revolution for personal gains. While civil society organizations fare slightly better, young people remain suspicious about lending formal support to any organized institutions.
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: Since the end of January 2011 Arab countries have been confronted with the biggest upheaval
since their establishment. Besides all political aspirations towards democracy, political participation,
rule of law or civil rights one should not forget root causes that have led to these revolutions.
Population growth, a disproportionally high number of young people, unemployment, less
developed industry and agriculture, as well as migration pressure from sub-Saharan countries, are
remaining and unresolved challenges.
The EU is facing serious internal and external challenges in tackling the revolutions on the other
side of the Mediterranean Sea. Internally coherent and cohesive action is needed; while externally
the biggest problem could be to (re)gain credibility and trust because of the long period of good
relations with the former autocratic regimes and leaders. The decisive point will be to change the
strategic approach from containment to inclusive partnership. A new Overall Strategy is required
– the time is ripe for an “EU-Master Plan”.
Abstract: Lowy Institute Research Fellow Fergus Hanson writes for ISN Insights that Twitter may be just another way of sharing inane chatter, but if you have written the service off, think again. Social media has emerged as a powerful new tool in international relations, and it deserves closer attention.
Abstract: While erstwhile authoritarianism and absolutist rule may no longer be possible, it
would be naïve to expect that the Middle East will undergo a metamorphosis. There
would undoubtedly be changes, greater openness, increased transparency, enhanced
governance and increased popular participation. Even these changes would not be
uniform and/or happen immediately. But the process would be on and the
governments, especially ruling elites, would be monitored more closely by the ruled.
Yet, it is extremely unlikely that the current wave of protests will transform the
Middle East into an oasis of democracy. Samuel Huntington’s third wave of
democracy is unlikely to sweep the region any time soon. Relaxing, increasingly
transparent and reforming status quo is perhaps the maximum that one can anticipate
from the current wave of unrest in the Middle East. This being so, what are the
options for the Indian Government? While individuals could demand a more liberal
and people-centric platform, governments have limited space for manoeuvre.
Though ideal, siding with the democratic aspirations of the Arab people is not a
viable option for a state. Wrong moves, missteps or ideology-driven actions would
bring misery for a vast majority of the Indian population.
Abstract: An animated map of recent protests in the Middle East as they spread from country to country, updated with the most recent events. Particular outcomes indicated with descriptions of the progression of events for each nation.
Every revolution has its own peculiar causes. We should not exaggerate the possibility that the revolutions in Tunisia,
Egypt and Libya will set off a chain reaction throughout the Arab world or the wider Muslim world.
The activeness many expected to see from Islamic radicals has not been forthcoming so far.
The Arab governments in Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, Yemen and Oman have correctly judged the situation and agreed
to concessions and even dialogue with the opposition as a way of lowering tensions.
We should not exaggerate the influence of these recent events on the Middle East conflict, because no matter what
kind of government emerges in Egypt, it will concentrate its attention above all on domestic issues.
Authoritarian regimes in Central Asia are using the events in North Africa, especially in Libya, as an added argument in
favor of a firm hand guaranteeing stable government in their countries.
Abstract: The overthrow of autocratic governments in Egypt and Tunisia has radically changed the course of Middle Eastern politics. Emboldened by the peaceful mass protests that brought Ben Ali and Mubarak to their knees, young protesters have taken to the streets in many Arab capitals, demanding a better life and a more accountable government. Demographics and the political momentum seem to be on their side.
As the Arab revolution spreads, the international community grapples with its causes and consequences. Are other Arab regimes likely to fold? What will replace them? And what will the long-term impact be?
Abstract: The peoples of the Middle East are instituting profound changes that will affect us all. We in
Canada, and in the West, must be fully involved, in our own interests, and theirs, by responding
generously to viable requests for aid and assistance across a gamut of challenges: justice
mentoring, education, small business, civil society and unemployment.
They need to feel change in their conditions now. They need a Marshall type plan with
immediate impact. If not these revolutions in the sand could turn sour fast. Everything from
education in village schools, to the prospects for good governance, to peace in the region, is at
stake. Well established countries with homogeneous populations such as Egypt and Tunisia
stand a good chance of making it; others with little sense of national identity and little in the way
of civil society, like Yemen, do not. Some, like Bahrain, are ruled by minorities with an alienated
underclass. They are burdened by powerful neighbours, Saudi Arabia and Iran in this case, who
see their own conflicting interests directly at stake. The Americans are not indifferent.
Canada’s role is circumscribed by our politics, which rules us out from anything verging on the
political or strategic. But there is still plenty to do, if the will exists.
Abstract: Even before the popular wave from Tunisia and Egypt reached Yemen, President Saleh’s regime faced daunting challenges. In the north, it is battling the Huthi rebellion, in the south, an ever-growing secessionist movement. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is showing mounting signs of activism. Sanaa’s political class is locked in a two-year battle over electoral and constitutional reforms; behind the scenes, a fierce competition for post-Saleh spoils is underway. Economic conditions for average Yemenis are dire and worsening. Now this. There is fear the protest movement could push the country to the brink and unleash broad civil strife. But it also could, and should, be a wake-up call, a catalyst for swift, far-reaching reforms leading to genuine power-sharing and accountable, representative institutions. The opposition, reformist ruling party members and civil society activists will have to work boldly together to make it happen. The international community’s role is to promote national dialogue, prioritise political and economic development aid and ensure security aid is not used to suppress opposition.
Abstract: Beyond noting the fluidity, ambiguity and ambivalence associated with the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, there is little consensus on causes and likely consequences. Do these geopolitical earthquakes constitute an “Arab Spring” leading to transition democratization, akin to 1989 in Central and Eastern Europe? Or should we look to 1979 in Iran, and the prospect of Sunni rather than Shia theocracy taking hold? Might the wider Muslim world – Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Turkey – provide alternative potential governance models for the MENA region, given indigenous variants appear exhausted and no longer able to self-reproduce? What are the lessons which other MENA incumbent regimes and the international community will identify? How might those lessons be learned?
Abstract: Several weeks of violent anti-government demonstrations in Tunisia, which on 14 January led to
the resignation of President Zin al-Abidin Ben Ali are an unprecedented event in the history
of the state. France’s highly restrained position on these incidents is consistent with previous
French policy towards Tunisia. For more than two decades, support from Paris for the former president
was intended to guarantee stability in Tunisia and protect the country against the development
of Islamic fundamentalism within its territory. In the future, any assistance to Tunisia should be conditioned
on Tunisian authorities’ respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.