By Eduardo Lacerda - 12 December 2011
A Featured Essay for the Autumn 2011 Quarterly Release
by Jacob Derr (Ohio, U.S.A.)
Edited by Director Matthew Bishop
This paper analyzes the type of actions, both diplomatic and military, that the United States can take in dealing with the African groups Boko Haram, Al Shabaab, and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Specifically, it analyzes the type of conflict the U.S. may become involved in, the tactical organization of the three groups, and whether democracy should be extended to the insurgent elements. It does so with an eye to earlier developments in the Bush Administration’s War on Terror as compared with recent NATO actions supporting aspirants in the Arab Spring. The United States must make three major decisions among many in formulating policy towards this new and developing conflict: 1) will it fight a ground war or act in a multilateral or support capacity with local governments or international organizations 2) will it treat the three groups as one contiguous threat, or work to disaggregate them and solve conflicts individually, and 3) will it support current regimes, or work for the legitimate democratic aspirations of the insurgents in each country? The paper will examine multiple sides of each issue.
Jacob Derr is a senior studying Political Science Pre-Law and Broadcast Journalism at Ohio University. He studies conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa with a focus in counterinsurgency tactics.
An Autumn 2011 Quarterly Release Featured Essay
by Elmira Cheremisova (St. Petersburg, Russian Federation)
Edited for English language and linguistics by Associate Editor Nicholas Prephan and Director Matthew Bishop
The ongoing civil conflict in Afghanistan has been much discussed by contemporary scholars and researchers. Most of them suggest various recommendations of what could be done to stop the war. However it still remains unclear why, after the operation lasting for more than 10 years, Afghanistan is still seen as “The Residence of Evil”. Attempting to fill the gap in previous studies, this research looks deeply into the technical side of the current UN-NATO operation in Afghanistan. Civil-military dialogue of the UN and NATO is examined in detail to reveal shortcomings in the operation’s strategic planning. All statistical analysis show that both the UN and NATO fail to achieve their own goals. There is hardly any improvement in the social, economic and political situation in the country. At the same time progress is not possible without reliable armed forces able to prevent and to contain insurgency. The National Afghan Army is the crucial body that is to maintain law and order throughout Afghanistan if the international coalition withdraws. Nevertheless statistical analysis shows that currently it fully depends on International Security Assistance Forces. This was concluded as the key factor for ISAF’s permanent presence in Afghanistan. The specific feature of this research is that it is based not only on academic but also on professional military literature. Officers’ handbooks and field manuals for planning and conducting military operations have been used to figure out theoretical concepts and analyze the nature of coordination between the UN and NATO during the operation.
The author is grateful to Dr. Darya Pushkina (Professor of International Relations, Associate Dean for International Students, Bard College and St.Petersburg State University) for invaluable help and advice while doing this research.
Elmira Cheremisova is a M.A. student at Saint Petersburg State University (Russian Federation) in a joint program with Bard College (U.S.A.). She got her B.A. degree majoring in International Relations and Linguistics. Her research interests while studying International Relations have been primarily concentrated on the study of Conflict Resolution and Middle Eastern Studies. Currently she is working on a dissertation entitled “Democracy in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan” which analyzes the peculiarities of democratization in Afghanistan.
Nonviolent Resistance in Palestine: Exploring Reasons for Failure in the Past and Methods for Success in the Future
This essay explores why nonviolent movements in Palestine have failed in the past and how they may succeed in the future. The main arguments are that: There is a fear among Palestinian nonviolent actors of violent Israeli persecution (assassination); There is a lack of belief in the power of nonviolence; That this lack of belief is itself a product of actual, failed nonviolent movements; That those movements failed, in addition to the reasons above, due to the lack of a sympathetic, empowered international or Israeli audience; That the state of Palestine as it is is itself a sort of opponent of the nonviolent movements; That fair protrayal of events by the media and by both small-time and big-time reporters must be the first step in facilitating successful nonviolence in Palestine.
Editor's Note: This essay, originally published in June under the Palestine/Israel news section, has now been relocated to this section as a result of the merging of the Palestine/Israel and Middle East/North Africa news sections.
Author's Updates, 27 August: Since the original publication of this essay in June 2011, Netanyahu's government has made social and political dissent illegal. Neither Israelis nor Palestinians have the legal right to protest the abuses of the Israeli regime. After this law was passed, the Israeli government announced the seizure of another 200 apartment buildings in East Jerusalem and subsequently arrested and prosecuted the dissenters. In these past few days (Aug 24-27) more than 30 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli government. The international media largely covered these events as if they were a reaction to Palestinian aggression, whereas in reality an Israeli airstrike was what breached the most recent peace accords and, far from being violent, unarmed Palestinian practitioners of civil disobedience are now being arrested en masse alongside their Israeli compatriots. During the march to the border, in which 500,000 unarmed Palestinans came to show their support for a Palestinian state, troops fired on the lines of civilians and killed at least 12 Palestinian protesters. In the midst of the Arab spring uprisings, events in Palestine still go largely unreported for fear of reprisal from American government, media, business, and lobbyist authorities. In other nations around the world, countries reaffirm their support for an independent Palestine and cry out for international coverage of human rights abuses at the hands of Netanyahu's Israel, but American media giants still ignore what happens in the Levant, and the struggle described in the essay below continues.
8 July 2011 – Matthew Bishop
Tahrir Square was packed today with protesters demanding real reform, the kind they expected after Mubarak fell, but which is still denied to them. This newest “million man march”, which turned out tens of thousands in the Square, comes as a direct result of recent trials, where several high-profile cases of ministers, officers and officials accused of killing large numbers of protesters were set free without any charges. The protesters now demand a new wave of political purging, including the resignation of the many ministers who served under Mubarak and remain powerful political officials today. Head of the military government, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who served as defense minister under Mubarak, has become the focal point of this new wave of demonstrations in Tahrir, but the demands strech far and wide, indicating that only when a truly new government has come to power will the people of Egypt be content.
Many of the governors who served the NDP were already ousted months ago and replaced with governors traditionally unaffiliated with the NDP, but the central command structure is still very much influenced—and led by—the ministers and officials who worked with the NDP under Mubarak. While protests in Alexandria and Suez have also erupted, it is, perhaps because of this, Cairo that is the absolute center of attention, as it is Cairo where these ministers reside. Many ministers have already fled.
These events occur in the midst of a single fear that the revolution has not succeeded, and that if it does not continue and ultimately succeed, it will therefore fail—that failure manifests itself in the stubbornness of the remains of the NDP and in the failed trials of those responsible for the deaths of the protesters. Alongside this fear exists another fear that, given the recently failed trials and the upcoming trials of even more officials and even more ministers, justice will not be done, and that even more of those responsible for the deaths will be allowed to roam free.
The movement still retains a very large part of its origins—it is a social and labor movement for rights, equality, and pay, and at the same time it is a movement protesting the power of the government which, in the eyes of the protesters, is corrupt. Government persecution is not as open and inflammatory as it was under Mubarak, but it is persecution nonetheless, in the eyes of the people, and their reaction is the same. Instead of directing that reaction against the old dictator Mubarak, they are now directing it against those who still hold offices but who, under Mubarak, committed what we could consider breaches of human rights—namely torture and murder.
While next to no one among the guilty officials has been charged and convicted, it is the civilians who have been--7,000 civilians, in fact. They have been tried by the military tribunal which has taken hold in post-Mubarak Egypt. And while they cry for justice, they are convicted of disturbing the peace.
ELLIA HAMRICK - JUNE 15, 2011
Canada yesterday became the seventh state to recognize the National Transitional Council of Libya as the country’s official government. The Council represents one of the main armed opposition forces to Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi.
Canada’s House of Commons voted almost unanimously to extend the country’s presence in Libya until September. Promises to recognize the Council and to increase humanitarian aid helped win support for the measure.
However, the New Democratic Party offered its support tepidly, threatening not to support any additional extension requests and encouraging Canada to prosecute rape as a weapon of war in Libya more actively while avoiding the use of troops on the ground.
France, Germany, Qatar, Spain, Italy and the United Arab Emirates had already recognized the Council. Recognition by other states is generally considered a definitional component of sovereign statehood.
Guest Writer Sarah Bishop reports from Morocco on the wearing of the hijab and the traditional Moroccan veil as a product of social and cultural thought:
Behind the Veil: Veiling and Globalization in Morocco
In a country with limited freedoms, most women agree that veiling or wearing the hijab is in fact a matter of personal choice. This decision is primarily religiously based for those who veil, as many believe it is explicitly stated in the Qur’an and linked to being a practicing Muslim, although it is also culturally and socially based. In addition to the reasons why women choose to veil or not, my paper will discuss the construction of identity through this practice and the privileges and consequences associated with it. Furthermore, I will discuss the effects of globalization on the choice of whether or not to wear the veil or hijab.
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About the Authors: Middle East and North Africa
Matthew Bishop is the founder of World Report and is conducting research in the history of political media in revolutions. He specializes in US foreign policy, Palestine/Israel, media politics, revolutions, and revolutionary politics.