Research Units

Publications

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  • Mass Protests and the American-Iranian Competition in Iraq

    EPC | 16 Jul 2020

    Iraq today finds itself at a crossroads, beset by challenges and life-and-death decisions. The public protests that erupted in early October 2019 revealed a number of deep structural crises in the country, growing public resentment vis-à-vis the political elite, and an expanding rift between these political forces and the Iraqi street. They have ignited a conflict that has opened the door to all manner of possible future scenarios for the nation.

  • 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.

Briefs

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  • Israeli Political Landscape: Controversy of Early Elections and Continuing Defections in the Right-Wing Camp

    EPC | 12 Jan 2021

    ​Israel is heading towards holding early elections, the fourth in less than two years, after the failure of the Likud and Kahol Lavan (Blue and White) parties to reach a settlement on the state’s budget, which would prevent the Israeli Knesset (parliament) from dissolving itself. Meanwhile, Gideon Saar’s split from Likud reversed the political balance in Israel, constituting a threat to Netanyahu’s renewed rise to power, especially after Water Resources Minister Zeev Elkin, who is close to Netanyahu, resigned and joined Saar.

  • The Stumbling Block of Ain Issa and the Struggle for Eastern Syria

    EPC | 31 Dec 2020

    ​The ongoing negotiation and military conflicts over Ain Issa underline the importance of eastern Syria for all the players involved in the Syrian crisis. Influence in this region has come to be calculated in metres. Given Russia which aspires to achieve a breakthrough in a region of an important economic and strategic importance, Turkey which aspires to enhance its influence in the Syrian map, and the US which considers the eastern Syria regions of a critical importance in managing its policies towards the Syrian issue, this region, which is located outside what is known as "Useful Syria", is an important site in the strategies of local players, considering the important economic and political returns from controlling it.

  • Economic Challenges Facing New Yemeni Government

    EPC | 30 Dec 2020

    The recently formed Yemeni government pursuant to the Riyadh Agreement is expected to face complex economic challenges that may paralyse its ability to fulfill the aspirations and hopes placed on it. The most important of those challenges are the significant decline in the Yemeni riyal exchange rate, and the difficulty of paying the salaries of public sector employees.

  • Will Iran Attack American Forces in Syria to Avenge Soleimani’s Killing?

    EPC | 23 Dec 2020

    ​There is talk in the region about arrangements and operations that Iran is preparing to carry out on the first anniversary of the assassination of Lieutenant General Qasem Soleimani, the former commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Perhaps what raised the level of belief in the possibility of Iran's retaliation is the tweet by the Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei, posted on 16 December 2020, in which he said that "whoever ordered and carried out the assassination of Lieutenant General Qasem Soleimani must pay the price", and that "this revenge is inevitable", considering that "Soleimani's shoes are more honourable than his killer’s head".

Featured Topic

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  • Poverty, Conflict and Political–Economic Crisis in a Fragile Iraq

    Zeinab F. Shuker | 21 Jan 2021

    Iraq’s economic outlook has rapidly deteriorated since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. For many years, economic progress and state legitimacy in the country have been undermined by an undiversified economy, as well as Iraq’s dependence on oil revenues, bloated public sector, rigid budget, rampant corruption and weak state capacity. This economic and political deterioration has inspired conflict and instability, contributing in 2019 to the rise of one of the country’s biggest social and political uprisings. It has also left the country with limited capacity to mitigate and manage the COVID-19 crisis and its socio-economic impacts. However, unlike previous crises, the current economic breakdown and its resultant political consequences are far from temporary. The 2021 year does not promise any significant improvement in this regard, with a budget deficit estimated at 63 trillion dinars (US $43 billion) – the biggest in Iraq’s history and the highest among the OPEC countries. The measures implemented now by Iraq’s ruling elites will be instrumental in determining the future of the country and the overall stability of the region. Therefore, how will the country's worsening economic situation and rising poverty affect its already unstable political structure?

  • The US Designates Houthis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization: Likely Consequences

    EPC | 12 Jan 2021

    ​On 10 January 2021, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that his Department intends to notify Congress of its intention to designate the Houthi Ansar Allah (Supporters of God) group as a "foreign terrorist organization" (FTO). In the same statement, which was posted on the website of the Department of State, he also announced his intention to designate three Houthi leaders, namely Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, Abd al-Khaliq Badr al-Din al-Houthi, and Abdullah Yahya al-Hakim, on the list of international terrorists. The US Secretary of State pointed out that the designations “will provide additional tools to confront terrorist activity and terrorism by [Ansar Allah]”. It is also intended “to hold [Ansar Allah] accountable for its terrorist acts, including cross-border attacks threatening civilian populations, infrastructure, and commercial shipping”. He also added that the designations are “intended to advance efforts to achieve a peaceful, sovereign, and united Yemen that is both free from Iranian interference and at peace with its neighbors”. These sanctions are scheduled to take effect on 19 January 2021, the day before US President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

  • Russian-Iranian Agreement in West of the Euphrates: Objectives, Interests and Outcomes

    EPC | 11 Jan 2021

    For the first time since their intervention in Syria, the Russian forces have reached the Iraqi borders at the Albu Kamal crossing in December 2020. This area is considered to be purely under Iranian influence since control over it was regained from the Daesh (Islamic State, ISIS) organisation in 2018. There are indications of an unannounced Russian-Iranian agreement, many of whose details are unclear. This raises questions about the considerations that prompted the two countries to conclude this agreement, and whether it constitutes a prelude to changing the conditions of the players in the Syrian-Iraqi border area. This paper sheds light on the current developments in the region of West Euphrates and explores the potential prospects for them.

  • Muqtada al-Sadr’s Bid to Nominate Iraq’s Next Prime Minister

    EPC | 11 Jan 2021

    Seven months before the date set for the early parliamentary elections, in June 2021, the Sadrist Movement launched its electoral campaign by revealing that it seeks to win the majority of seats in the next parliament and thus have the right to name the Prime Minister. This came through a series of coordinated positions by the Movement’s leader Muqtada al-Sadr and his senior aides, and was met with a mixture of caution and skepticism on the part of the political and popular circles, given the radical changes that this would cause in the map of the distribution of influence between the main Shiite actors and, subsequently, in the Iraqi political balances.

Scenarios

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  • Sudan-Ethiopia Dispute Over al-Fashqa Area and its Potential Outcome

    Samir Ramzi | 03 Jan 2021

    ​The dispute between Sudan and Ethiopia over the Fashaqa border area has recently escalated. This is a long-standing dispute that began in the 20th century. This paper attempts to analyse and explore the consequences of escalation in the border dispute between the two neighbouring African countries in the light of the mechanisms adopted by the two sides to manage the dispute between them during 2020.

  • Chances for the Recent “OPEC+” Agreement in Succeeding to Control Prices

    Sherif Abou El-Fadl | 29 Dec 2020

    After several days of talks between members, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the countries allied to it from outside OPEC, led by Russia, in what is known as the OPEC+ coalition, agreed on 3 December 2020 to raise crude supplies by half a million barrels per day starting from January 2021. While the move constituted a positive support for the oil markets, this optimism remains fraught with caution due to the fragility of the markets as a result of the blurred expectations about the future of the return of economic activity.

  • Diplomatic Crisis between Somalia and Kenya: Motivations and Likely Trajectories

    EPC | 22 Dec 2020

    The Somali-Kenyan relations deteriorated once again after the Somali federal government announced, in mid-December 2020, that it is severing diplomatic relations with Kenya against the backdrop of what it described as "the Kenyan violations of Somalia's sovereignty and its open interference in Somalia’s internal affairs". Subsequently, Somalia ordered all its diplomats in Kenya to return to the country, and requested Kenyan diplomats in Somalia to leave its territory within seven days. Despite the atmosphere of optimism surrounding the meeting between the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo at the opening of the recent extraordinary summit of the African Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) countries in the Djiboutian capital, the crisis seems likely to continue between the two sides until the date of the next Somali elections.

  • Biden and Challenges to the American Strategy in Iraq

    EPC | 09 Dec 2020

    ​Iraq constituted one of the most important agenda items that were absent from the US election race in 2020, in contrast to previous elections in which it was, specifically since 2003, strongly present in the presidential debates or even in the statements of the candidates. This absence can be attributed to the fact that Iraq may constitute a secondary foreign policy issue for the US in the coming stage, and that other Middle Eastern affairs, including the Iranian nuclear agreement and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, constitute more urgent concerns. This raises a question about the extent of Iraq’s importance for the new US administration led by President Joe Biden. This paper is an attempt to shed light on the nature of the approach with which President Biden will deal with the Iraqi issue, and his future options.