Research Units

Publications

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  • Social Forces in Contemporary Iran

    EPC | 23 Apr 2020

    Our neighbor, Iran, is currently experiencing significant social turmoil in the face of escalating economic challenges and political crises – largely manifested in the form of ongoing public protests.

  • Internal and External Dynamics of a Rapidly Changing Turkey

    EPC | 07 Oct 2019

    Turkey is today undergoing significant political turbulence. President Erdogan’s popularity is in decline and the incumbent Justice and Development Party (AKP) appears increasingly vulnerable to

  • The UN Peacemaking Role in Yemen

    EPC | 01 Oct 2019

    From the initial crisis surrounding political transition, and through the ensuing war, the United Nations (UN) has played a variety of roles in Yemen, under its mandate from the international community.

  • Iraq’s Shifting Political Landscape and Foreign Policy Trajectories

    EPC | 25 Aug 2019

    Following the defeat of ISIS in late 2017, Iraq has entered a new era. A number of key internal and external factors will determine Iraq’s future in this new epoch and will have a significant bearing on the security and stability of the entire region.

Briefs

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  • Return of the Controversy over Control of the Lebanese-Syrian Border: Entanglements and Complexities

    Mohamad Kawas | 27 May 2020

    Debate has returned anew in Lebanon over the existence of serious and increasing international interest in controlling the border with Syria. There has been an increase in positions that shed light on the smuggling phenomenon through 161 corridors on Lebanon’s eastern border, constituting the largest waste outlet of the country’s economic resources.

  • The Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic on the Upcoming U.S Presidential Elections

    Amr Abdelatty | 18 May 2020

    The COVID-19 pandemic constitutes an unprecedented challenge for the US presidential elections. It coincides with the middle of the first of three scheduled steps to hold them, namely the choice by each party of a candidate through the primary elections or caucuses. This has led some states to delay their primary elections till the summer, in the hope that circumstances will get better for voters to go to the polls.

  • Signs of Renewed Tension in Dara’a Governorate in Syria: Dynamics and Prospects

    EPC | 17 May 2020

    The Syrian Daraa province is experiencing escalating tension amidst a fragile security situation and a multiplicity of actors with conflicting goals and policies. While the province is subject to a settlement deal based on a Russian guarantorship, a US understanding and regional support, the security situation in the province is prone to explosion.

  • Iraq after the Formation of Al-Kadhimi’s Government: Opportunities and Expectations

    Mohamad Kawas | 13 May 2020

    Mustafa al-Kadhimi has managed to gain the confidence of the Iraqi parliament and became officially Iraq’s Prime Minister. Doubtlessly, this is an important event, not just because others have failed to form a new government since the resignation of former Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, but also because the name of al-Kadhimi, his political and professional background and the circumstances of the formation of his government warrant a deeper reading of the shifts in the regional and international landscapes.

Featured Topic

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  • Returning to the Mechanisms of the Nuclear Agreement: US Attempts to Prevent Iran from Obtaining the Right to Weapons under the Agreement

    EPC | 20 May 2020

    In October 2020, the ban on trade in conventional weapons with Iran imposed under article 5 of Annex II of the nuclear agreement — which prohibits all countries from trading in such weapons with Iran — will come to an end. The ban was scheduled to last for five years from the day that the agreement came into effect, ending in October of this year. The various parties to the agreement are ramping up their political maneuvers, however, as the US administration and the remaining parties to the agreement appear to hold incompatible positions regarding the end of the embargo.

  • The Impact of US and Russian Oil Policies on the Future of the Oil Markets

    EPC | 19 May 2020

    The policies adopted by the leading countries in the oil market influence the shape of the market and how it responds to changes. In March 2020, Russian policy drew the country into a price war with Saudi Arabia, leading to a sharp drop in crude oil prices. In response, the USA changed its short-term approach in order to protect the US shale oil industry, by pushing for an end to the Russian–Saudi price war and the completion of the OPEC+ deal, which was concluded on April 12. The deal is evidence of the many overlapping interests that these countries share, which enabled them to reach a deal on a number of policies despite having different objectives for the oil market.

  • Al-Assad-Makhlouf Dispute: Background and Dimensions

    EPC | 18 May 2020

    The current dispute between the president of the Syrian regime Bashar al-Assad and Syria’s top businessman Rami Makhlouf constitutes a new variable in the policy of the Syrian regime and its way of dealing with the problems that erupt within the narrow circle of decision making. While Rami Makhlouf is not a political figure and has no specific position within the Syrian power hierarchy, it is no secret that in addition to being a relative of Assad, he represents a strong economic centre that owes its status to the significant role played by the regime policy. This makes him organically linked to the Syrian ruling system. This is evidenced by the fact that Rami Makhlouf benefitted a lot from the economic transformation that occurred in Syria under Assad the son’s presidency, that is the shift from planned to market economy which required the issuance of hundreds of presidential decrees to rehabilitate the legal and political structure accordingly. This paper sheds light on the background of the dispute between the two men and Russia’s position thereon in its capacity as the most influential player in Syrian policies.

  • Somalia’s 2020/2021 National Elections: Problematic Issues and Potential Scenarios

    EPC | 18 May 2020

    Preparations are underway to hold the presidential and parliamentary elections at the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021 in Somalia. A new draft electoral law has been developed by the Ministry of the Interior after consultation with the five federal states and the parties concerned. It was then approved by the Council of Ministers and both chambers of Parliament, to be ratified by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo in February 2020. Holding elections in a federal country with weak institutions in both the centre and the periphery constitutes a completely new adventure. The political scene lacks federal states that are united, strong and capable of negotiating. Neither is there a strong centre that is capable of delegating some of its powers to the periphery. On the contrary, there is a federal government that has failed to take control of many areas and that acts as if it is in control of the whole of Somalia. In contrast, there are regional states that are weak and incapable of properly controlling the areas where they are located. This paper aims to analyze the political process in Somalia, monitor the main influential actors at the current political scene, and build potential scenarios for those elections.

Scenarios

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  • The Impact of Coronavirus Pandemic on the EU and its Future

    EPC | 19 May 2020

    Europe has become the global epicentre of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic since the end of April 2020. Despite the accelerating increase in infections and deaths in February and March in Italy, which was the first and most affected European country by the virus, and even the country with the then highest number of infections globally, the response of the European Union (EU) was extremely slow. At first, EU institutions seemed unaware of the size of the danger threatening its member states. The initial response of the EU was described as awkward, which brought it under severe criticism by the most affected countries such as Italy and Spain. French President Emmanuel Macron warned of the collapse of the EU as a political project if it does not take serious steps to support the economies of the afflicted countries.

  • Coronavirus Pandemic and Britain’s Uncertain Future after Brexit

    Mohamad Kawas | 29 Apr 2020

    The years following the referendum on Britain’s exit from the European Union (Brexit) have revealed that the “European club” is capable, despite the painful Brexit blow, of showing resilience and adeptly facing the British precedent. They have also shed light on imminent questions within the UK regarding the future, unity, stability and nature of the country that the UK aspires to be. The cornonavirus epidemic has raised the challenge to severe levels that have shaken the UK’s reputation in terms of its claim about being capable of resistance alone, without Europe, to fulfil aspirations that its EU membership had prevented.

  • Future of Somalia’s Ruling System in Light of Upcoming Presidential Elections

    Ahmad Askar | 06 Apr 2020

    Somalia is on tenterhooks following the approval by Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo of a new elections law, based on the principle of “one person, one vote”. Views among the country’s political forces vary, with the law already having faced a wave of criticism and calls for its reconsideration on the grounds that it is not suited to the current political, economic, and security conditions. The government and the political opposition in Somalia are highly polarized at a time when the country is preparing to hold its first direct elections at the end of 2020. Such polarization has led to further speculation about the future of the elections and of the president’s regime in the coming period.

  • Designation of Adnan al-Zurfi to form the Iraqi government and the chances of success

    EPC | 28 Mar 2020

    Following the elapse on 19 March 2020 of the statutory period given to the political blocs to nominate a prime minister and Iraq’s entry into a stage of constitutional vacuum, President Barham Saleh designated former Najaf governor and member of the Nasr Alliance Adnan al-Zurfi to form the provisional government. This was soon strongly rejected by some parties close to Teheran, in spite of their previous participation in the consultations of the seven-member committee in which the main parliamentary blocs were represented. This raises questions about the possible failure of the prime minister-designate to obtain Parliament’s confidence, similar to the previous designate Mohammed Allawi. This paper sheds light on the behind-the-scenes circumstances of the designation of al-Zurfi, the positions of political blocs vis-à-vis his designation, and the chances of success of his designation.