SMALL WARS COUNCIL
Go Back   Small Wars Council > Conflicts -- Current & Future > Other, By Region > Middle East

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 07-25-2006   #1
Tc2642
Council Member
 
Tc2642's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 56
Default The Middle East (general catch all)

From The Independent,

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/...cle1195264.ece
Tc2642 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-20-2006   #2
Jedburgh
Council Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,097
Default The Arab World

Not the "next small war", but a good brief article on the ever-changing political environment in the Mid-East and the problems of perception management...

The Economist, 19 Oct 06:

Resistance to the West, and rejection of Israel, are the pillars of a rapidly strengthening alliance in the world's most volatile region.
Quote:
...So entrenched now is the idea of an American-led assault on Muslims that virtually any new development is immediately enlisted as further evidence. The fact that terror attacks on Westerners, carried out in the name of Islam, may have raised some hackles goes without mention. So does the fact that countries such as Syria, under the cloak of resistance to the West, continue to promote agendas in Lebanon and elsewhere that have nothing to do with anti-Americanism, but with cementing their own regional influence.

Even high-minded Western initiatives now arouse suspicion. The effort to deploy a tougher peacekeeping force in Darfur, where some 200,000 people have been killed and perhaps 1m displaced by a government-assisted slaughter of Darfuris, is widely seen as a subterfuge. The head of the Egyptian lawyers' union, a group which might be expected to defend the rights of the weak, recently declared that the true target of UN peacekeepers was Egypt: Sudan was simply “the next stop after Iraq on the road to the heart of Cairo”.

The manner of the ceasefire in Lebanon aroused scepticism, too. To many, the insertion of a UN peacekeeping force was aimed at recouping by diplomacy what Israel had lost by fighting. A recent poll found that 84% of Lebanese believe the war was “a premeditated attempt by the United States and Israel to impose a new regional order in the Middle East”. As for the international siege of the Palestinians until they renounce terrorism and accept the right of Israel to exist, the popular perception is that the West, having claimed to support democracy, is now punishing Palestinians for having elected Hamas in a fair vote...
Jedburgh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-10-2006   #3
SWJED
Small Wars Journal
 
SWJED's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Largo, Florida
Posts: 3,988
Default USIP Arab Case Studies

Case studies recently posted at the United States Institute of Peace:
SWJED is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-18-2007   #4
Jedburgh
Council Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,097
Default 1946 - Islam: A Threat to World Stability

The thread title is taken from an article in Intelligence Review - 14 February 1946 - and as with that article, it is a bit misleading in regard to the substantive content of the piece. Although certain of the terms used clearly date the writing, it is clear not a helluva lot has changed from the basic premise back in 46:
Quote:
The Present Estimate

If the Moslem states were strong and stable, their behavior would be more predictable. They are, however, weak and torn by internal stresses; furthermore, their peoples are insufficiently educated to appraise propaganda or to understand the motives of those who promise a new Heaven and a new Earth.

Because of the strategic position of the Moslem world and the restlessness of its peoples, the Moslem states constitute a potential threat to world peace. There cannot be permanent world stability, when one-seventh of the world's population exists under the economic and political conditions that are imposed upon the Moslems.
Jedburgh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-19-2007   #5
goesh
Council Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,188
Default

1946, about the time the great oil boom was getting ready to start and untold hundreds of billions of dollars have been generated in oil revenues in the subsequent 61 years since that Intel report. I don't see much improvement in the quality of life for the average muslim on the planet despite the staggering wealth. In looking at social evolution in relationship to economic growth we here see steady expansion since 1946. In that year, Black veterans in many places couldn't sit down to eat in a cafe with fellow White veterans. Many Blacks couldn't vote. There were many jobs women simply didn't even apply for, let alone do. Lobotomies were a method of treatment for the mentally ill. The handicapped were pretty much excluded from employment. Kids with special needs never had their abilities developed. People that seriously mistreated animals for the most part were never prosecuted. Drunk drivers were often laughed at. Smoking was considered glamorous. I see little correspondence in social evolution in the Islamic world despite the presence of wealth to enable said evolution.
goesh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-03-2007   #6
tequila
Council Member
 
tequila's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 1,665
Default Vali Nasr: The Shia Revival

Article by Vali Nasr summarizing his book in the latest MR, arguing that the American invasion of Iraq and the subsequent election of a Shia-dominated religious government has empowered Shiism throughout the Middle East.
tequila is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2007   #7
Jedburgh
Council Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,097
Default

CEIP, 25 May 07: Fighting on Two Fronts: Secular Parties in the Arab World
Quote:
Secular parties in the Arab world—a broad range of political organizations that vary in their political orientation from liberal positions to vaguely socialist programs—are facing a crisis. Caught between regimes that allow little legal space for free political activity on one side and popular Islamist movements that are clearly in the ascendancy throughout the Arab world on the other, they are struggling for influence and relevance, and in some cases even for survival.

Results of recent elections across the region have exposed the weaknesses of secular parties and thus created a new sense of urgency among their leaders and members. They no longer hide—from themselves or others—the depth of the crisis they are facing, but they have no ready solutions. They know that they have stagnant or even dwindling constituencies, whereas the Islamists have growing and increasingly well-organized ones. And most admit that, at present, they do not have a strategy on how to regain the ground they have lost in countries such as Morocco and Egypt or to take advantage of new opportunities in countries such as Yemen and Kuwait. There is often a plaintive tone to the arguments set forth by secular parties in the Arab world. They feel victimized by authoritarian governments that thwart their activities. They feel disadvantaged by the competition of Islamist movements that use mosques for proselytizing and charitable institutions to build constituencies. They feel, in other words, caught in the middle and fighting on two fronts...
Jedburgh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-30-2007   #8
Jedburgh
Council Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,097
Default Arab Insight

First issue of a new pub from the World Security Institute: Arab Insight

Unfortunately, individual articles are not linked, so you have to download the entire 112 page pdf:
Quote:
U.S. Foreign Policy and Islamists

Is “Brotherhood” with America Possible?
Khalil al-Anani, Egypt

Alone at the Ballot Box: American Rejection of Islamists
Atef Abou Saif, Palestinian Territory

Trial and Error: Washington and Iraq’s Shiite
Ibrahim al-Baydani, Iraq

The Cold Embrace: U.S. & Islamists in North Africa
Mohamed el-Ghali, Morocco

Islam Outside the Mosque

Islamic Roots of Good Governance
Mazen Hashem, Syria

Islam and Human Rights: Revisiting the Debate
Jumana Shehata, Egypt

A Response to Western Views of Islamist Movements
Radwan Ziadh, Syria

Separation of Islam & Political Islam: The Case of Morocco
Hossam Tamam, Egypt
Jedburgh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-30-2007   #9
Nat Wilcox
Council Member
 
Nat Wilcox's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 106
Default Sharia vs. Islamic Law vs. fiqh

Thanks for posting this. I am getting into it.

I'm having some difficulty understanding the difference between these three terms:

Sharia

Islamic Law

Fiqh

I have a feeling, based on different things I have read, that there is a great deal of confusion concerning these three terms. Different sources (both Arab and English) seem to use them in different ways.

One of the three seems to correspond closely to what we in Anglophone countries would call "common law," but I have seen each of these three terms described in a way that resembles common law. One of the authors in Jedburgh's post describes fiqh as Islamic Jurisprudence which is then defined by the author as "an aggregation of individual opinions and juristic interpretations, which differ not only from one country to another, but which also change with the passage of time." That author then says that Islamic Law is based on fiqh. That sounds a lot like our idea of common law; but is that somehow a wrong metaphor?

One of them almost certainly has more to do with abstract principles, like "constitutional" parts of law. Is this Sharia? Or is Sharia an older version of Islamic Law?

Is there someone amongst us who has the sophistication to help me out on this?

Last edited by Nat Wilcox; 07-30-2007 at 04:09 PM.
Nat Wilcox is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-30-2007   #10
Nat Wilcox
Council Member
 
Nat Wilcox's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 106
Default One answer to my question...

I have an Arab friend who is an expert on Islamic banking and finance (which is intimately connected to Islamic legal thinking), so I asked him to help me out with the question I just asked. Here is his answer. Please note that it is one answer (he says "I have argued" which is a sure sign he means that his answer is his considered opinion and that there is some controversy here...fyi).

Quote:
Hello Nat:

I have argued that practical Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) has in fact been common-law like. The reason for lack of transparency, however, is that the rhetoric of Islamic law sounds as if it is an immediate interpretation of a canon law (Shari`a). To add to confusion, most Arab countries have secular civil codes, adapted from French and Swiss codes, and that has shaped their understanding of Islamic law as well.

Let me see if I can make the terms clear to you:

* Shari`a is the Arabic equivalent of the Jewish Halakha, an all encompassing code for life. It includes things such as honor, etc., which far exceed "law" in the narrow sense.

* Authors are often careless re the distinction between Shari`a and Fiqh. The formal legal definition of Shari`a refers to revealed, immutable Law (capital L), as present in the Canon consisting of the Qur'an and Prophet Tradition. Fiqh literally means "understanding", i.e. the application of the Law to a specific instance, which requires going through multiple stages: (1) understanding the issue, (2) legal framing of the question, (3) application of the Legal (capital L) principle to the specific event.

* It is very common for people to usurp Divine authority, as it were, by using the term Shari`a for matters that are really issues of fiqh. Legal scholars distinguish between the two by saying that Shari`a is immutable, but that fiqh, exercised through the two channels of qada' (court rulings) and fatwa (scholarly opinion), varies by time, place and circumstance. When you call your preferred policy an application of Shari`a, it sounds more authoritative, and makes it more difficult for others to argue against your position.

* People who use the term "Islamic law" often mean Shari`a, rather than fiqh. Unfortunately, Shari`a is consistent with many different interpretations, and there has not been a coherent codification of Islamic fiqh since the fall of the Ottoman Empire. That is why British courts twice dismissed provisions of applying Shari`a in contracts, since they concluded that different scholars will interpret Shari`a provisions differently for the cases before them, and "Islamic law" did not qualify as the law of a sovereign nation and therefore could not be applied based on the Rome convention.

I like the writings of Wael Hallaq, but they are a bit involved.

The book that best compares Islamic law to Anglo-American common law, as you requested, would be Lawrence Rosen's The Justice of Islam, Oxford, 2000.

A good text for western audience is Bernard Weiss's The Spirit of Islamic Law, U. Georgia Press, 1998.

I hope that this helps.
I'm afraid that this more or less confirms what I thought from my own reading. Different writers use these terms in varying ways, so we're stuck with paying attention to context and not expecting too much consistency of usage across authors.

Also, it sounds like we should be a little suspicious of claims that something is a matter of Shari`a, as my pal suggests that such claims are frequently little more than a rhetorical device.
Nat Wilcox is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-31-2007   #11
Tom Odom
Council Member
 
Tom Odom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: DeRidder LA
Posts: 3,949
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nat Wilcox View Post
I have an Arab friend who is an expert on Islamic banking and finance (which is intimately connected to Islamic legal thinking), so I asked him to help me out with the question I just asked. Here is his answer. Please note that it is one answer (he says "I have argued" which is a sure sign he means that his answer is his considered opinion and that there is some controversy here...fyi).

I'm afraid that this more or less confirms what I thought from my own reading. Different writers use these terms in varying ways, so we're stuck with paying attention to context and not expecting too much consistency of usage across authors.

Also, it sounds like we should be a little suspicious of claims that something is a matter of Shari`a, as my pal suggests that such claims are frequently little more than a rhetorical device.

Nat

The differences in what many wrongly characterize as a rigid religion are what have driven the creation and the conflict between the various and many schools of Islamic thought. There is no simple answer for the question you posed to your friend or us here. It was a good question, one impossible to answer terms or any fashion combining both brevity and accuracy.

Best

Tom
Tom Odom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2007   #12
bourbon
Council Member
 
bourbon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 901
Default House of Commons--"Global Security: The Middle East"

Quote:
House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Global Security: The Middle East.
Eighth Report of Session 2006–07
Report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence
Published on 13 August 2007 by authority of the House of Commons
Hat Tip: Prof./Col. Richard Augustus Norton
bourbon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2007   #13
Jedburgh
Council Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,097
Default

WINEP, Sep 07: Pushback or Progress? Arab Regimes Respond to Democracy's Challenge
Quote:
....Arab regimes usually neutralized the democratic challenge by using a multilayered response that included repression, redefinition, and co-optation. In some cases—which deserve more attention than they have received to date—governments even made some domestic changes. Clearly, every country managed the issue in different ways.

What is most significant, however, is not that the democratization project was largely a failed effort, but rather that the way regimes responded to this challenge is defining how Arab governance will work in the coming decades. Assessing whether Arab regimes will become weaker and more unstable because of this reaction, as well as how such efforts have affected the relative chances of competing forces in the future, is extremely important.

Although the balance differs in each country, the main responses include reassertion of a traditional agenda, delegitimization of opponents, repression and harassment, pretense or co-optation, and, finally, actual reforms. Both liberal and Islamist oppositions have adjusted in this process, and the strategies of both are examined in this paper....

Last edited by Jedburgh; 01-30-2011 at 05:06 PM. Reason: Fixed link.
Jedburgh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-09-2007   #14
Jedburgh
Council Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,097
Default

Arab Insights, Fall 2007: Missing in Action: The Democracy Agenda in the Middle East
Quote:
Over the last several decades, the United States government has claimed to have significantly changed its policies toward the Middle East. After decades of supporting repressive and undemocratic Middle Eastern regimes during the Cold War, President George W. Bush announced that the United States would begin a policy of democracy promotion in the Middle East. However, that democratic agenda has been unevenly applied and even reversed when democratic elections produce governments that did not favor U.S. policies. Supporting elections in Egypt and the Palestinian Territories until the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas were democratically favored, the U.S. government appears to show only conditional support for Middle East democracies. In its occupation of Iraq, the U.S. has made an even greater blunder: under the guise of “spreading freedom,” it has actually increased chaos and insecurity throughout the Middle East.

Arab perceptions of America have been greatly harmed by the ways in which the U.S. government has attempted to spread democracy in Iraq and beyond. The negative perceptions of the United States fostered by Cold War policy could have been alleviated by peaceful promotion of democracy in the Middle East; instead, however, the forceful methods and double standards of democracy building have further damaged the U.S. image in the Arab world.....
Jedburgh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-12-2007   #15
Jedburgh
Council Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,097
Default

USIP, Nov 07: The Challenge of Islamists for EU and US Policies: Conflict, Stability and Reform
Quote:
....In the first section of this volume, two contributions look at the challenges for and the framing of policies for the Muslim world. The contributions offer insights into the diverse factors that shape US debates and policies towards the region, including threat perceptions and geo-strategic interests. While Daniel Brumburg focuses on the question of why certain foreign policy paradigms dominate at certain times, Steven Heydemann develops a matrix to understand the different elements that add up to specific policies at particular junctures. The second section examines the political inclusion of Islamists in Muslim majority democracies. Steven Cook points out the tremendous reform achievements that the Islamist AKP government in Turkey has realized. Felix Heiduk stresses the complexity of the Islamist scene in Indonesia. In both Turkey and Indonesia, EU and US policies, while being quite different, have been inadequate with regards to promoting democratic transitions. The third section focuses on the use and abuse of Islam in framing conflicts and policies. Two contributions, from Dorina Bekoe on Sudan and Anette Weber on Somalia, analyze the role of Islam in violent conflicts and point to the multiple sources of conflict behind religious appeals. They also underscore teh relevance of the inclusion of Islamist actors for the peaceful transformation of conflicts. The fourth section on the political participation of Islamists in authoritarian systems discusses the relevance of Islamist actors for the peaceful transition of authoritarian systems and European and US policies towards Islamist movements, parties and authoritarian governments. Eva Wegner looks at the effects that political inclusion has had on the development of the Islamist movement in Morocco. Mona Yacoubian points out the relevance of the Islamist-secular opposition alliance in the case of Yemen. Les Campbell summarizes the experiences that the National Democratic Institute (NDI) has made in engaging Islamists in democracy promotion efforts. A final paper by Muriel Asseburg sketches out elements of a shared US-EU agenda towards the Muslim world in the fields of democracy promotion, stabilization policies and efforts to peacefully transform conflicts......

Last edited by Jedburgh; 01-30-2011 at 05:04 PM. Reason: Fixed link.
Jedburgh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2008   #16
Jedburgh
Council Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,097
Default

CSIS, 10 Jan 08: Security and Stability in the Greater Middle East
Quote:
Six Strategic Challenges

• Energy export capacity and security

• Adjustment of military posture in Iraq, and the Gulf.

• Deciding how to deal with Iranian proliferation, growing asymmetric warfare capabilities, and use of proxies.

• The lack of near-term prospects for a real Arab-Israeli peace process, and potential further military clashes in Lebanon and between Israel and the Palestinians and/or Syria.

• The region-wide impact of Neo-Salafi Islamist extremism. The franchising of Al Qaida, and its impact inside and outside the region.

• Dealing with the war in Afghanistan, potential destabilization of as nuclear Pakistan, and its impact on proliferation and Islamist extremism in the Middle East.
Complete 53 slide briefing in pdf format at the link.
Jedburgh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2008   #17
Jedburgh
Council Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,097
Default

22 Jan 08 testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on That Which is Not Obligatory is Forbidden: Censorship and Incitement in the Arab World:

Joel Campagna, Committee to Protect Journalists

Richard Eisendorf, Freedom House

Kenneth Jacobson, Anti-Defamation League
Jedburgh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-02-2008   #18
Jedburgh
Council Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,097
Default

FIIA, 1 Feb 08: Sectarian Identities or Geopolitics? The Regional Shia-Sunni Divide in the Middle East
Quote:
The purpose of this study is to enhance understanding of the new geopolitical situation currently unfolding in Middle Eastern politics that has emerged since the onset of the United States-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The paper focuses on the notions of the Sunni-Shia divide and the Rise of the Shia.

In this study it is argued that the present dynamics of the regional-level Sunni-Shia divide are reinforced and catalysed by both geopolitical considerations and the national security interests of states. History and identity alone are not sufficient to explain the logics of the divide at the regional level. The study seeks to explain how and why geo- and power politics reinforce the present-day sectarian divide in the Middle East. It also suggests that the divide has the potential to become an era defining feature of the post-Saddam Middle East in the way pan-Arabism and pan-Islam have defined the past decades of the region.

The study takes as its point of departure the division of Middle Eastern politics into two levels of analysis: the domestic level and the regional level. Different kinds of geopolitical readjustments and power balancing take place at the two levels, on which different fault lines can be identified. The analysis in this study is concentrated on the regional level, where the sectarian dynamic or rhetoric is not yet as apparent as at the domestic level (in some states), where sectarian struggles have brought two states, namely Iraq and Lebanon, almost to breaking point....
Complete 62 page paper at the link.
Jedburgh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2008   #19
Jedburgh
Council Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,097
Default

CEIP, 26 Feb 08: The New Middle East
Quote:
.....The Middle East of 2008 is indeed a vastly different region from that of 2001, and the war in Iraq has been the most important driver of this transformation, although by no means the only one. The outcome, however, is not what the Bush administration envisaged. On the contrary, the situation has become worse in many countries. Despite the presence of over 160,000 U.S. troops in Iraq at the end of 2007 and an improvement in the security situation, Iraq remains an unstable, violent, and deeply divided country, indeed a failed state. Progress is being undermined by the refusal of Iraqi political factions to engage in a serious process of reconciliation, as the Bush administration has repeatedly warned. Furthermore, with the demise of Saddam Hussein, the balance of power between Iran and Iraq has been broken, increasing the influence of Tehran in the Gulf and beyond. Meantime, Iran continues its uranium enrichment program undeterred by United Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions or the threat of U.S. military action.

The Israeli–Palestinian conflict remains unsolved, but its parameters have changed considerably, with a deep split in the Palestinian ranks and the effects of decades of unilateral Israeli actions calling into question whether a two-state solution can possibly be implemented. Although Lebanon has been largely liberated from direct Syrian domination, the country is deeply divided and teeters on the brink of domestic conflict. The power of Syria has been diminished by the forced withdrawal of its troops from Lebanon, but the country maintains its potential as a spoiler. The threat of nuclear proliferation is not just limited to Iran; from Morocco to the Gulf, a growing number of countries are declaring their intention to develop a nuclear capacity—for civilian use, to be sure, but a nuclear capacity nevertheless. Confessional and ethnic divisions have acquired greater saliency in many countries.

There has been no successful democratic revolution in any Middle Eastern country. Instead, the democratic openings advocated and supported by the United States have either led to sectarian division or revealed the greater popular appeal and strength of Islamist rather than liberal organizations, one of several reasons the United States has retreated from democracy promotion. Far from having leapfrogged over old problems, the United States is now confronting most of the old problems, often in a more acute way, as well as new ones.....
Complete 48 page paper at the link.
Jedburgh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2008   #20
Tom Odom
Council Member
 
Tom Odom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: DeRidder LA
Posts: 3,949
Default

I am sure this will be warmly reviewed at AEI...
Tom Odom is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Tags
al-queda, arab spring, arab world, egypt, iraq, isis, islam, islamism, middle east, politics, saudi arabia, strategy, syria, yemen

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Brigadier General Selections for 2008 Cavguy The Whole News 8 07-22-2008 05:15 PM
President Bush Addresses United Nations General Assembly SWJED The Whole News 2 09-19-2006 06:28 PM


All times are GMT. The time now is 04:41 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9. ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Registered Users are solely responsible for their messages.
Operated by, and site design © 2005-2009, Small Wars Foundation