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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  • What if Trump did not accept electoral defeat?

    EPC | 20 Oct 2020

    The astonishing question that awaits American politics as we enter the last month before presidential elections is whether President Trump will accept electoral defeat. Trump has several times indicated that he may not accept the result of the November presidential election if he is defeated by his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden.

  • Phenomenon of "Independents" in Elections of Egypt’s House of Representatives

    Amr Hashem Rabea | 14 Oct 2020

    Egypt is on the eve of the first of two stages in its parliamentary elections, scheduled to begin in the last week of October and ending in the second week of December. The window for nominations has closed, and candidates (many of whom are running as independents) have begun campaigning, under the oversight of the National Elections Authority. This paper will examine the phenomenon of independent candidates in the Egyptian elections and the impact that they have had on elections and the Egyptian parliament.

  • Al-Assad and Russia: A Substantial Disagreement or a Mere Exchange of Roles?

    EPC | 14 Oct 2020

    In the first week of October, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made a series of statements through Russian platforms on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the Russian intervention in his country. Remarkably, these statements sharply contradicted declared Russian policy regarding basic aspects of the Syrian issue. This raises the question as to whether Russia is still following the same strategy used since its military intervention in Syria, which involves a complete lack of clarity and seems to have multiple interpretations, or whether it has actually entered into a deep disagreement with the ruling regime in Damascus and is unable to impose its visions and policies on Assad.

  • Southern Syria between Russian and Iranian Influence: Escalation’s Dynamics and Repercussions

    Malik al-Hafez | 13 Oct 2020

    In late September 2019, skirmishes erupted between local factions from Al-Suwayda Governorate — the self-named “Al-Karama Forces“ — and an armed faction from Dara’a Governorate known as the Eighth Brigade, which is on the payroll of the Russian‑backed Fifth Corps. The recent tensions in southern Syria have revealed a feverish struggle between the Iranian and Russian influences in the region, which will crystallize during the coming period.

Featured Topic

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  • COVID-19, the oil price collapse and the Iraqi economy

    Zeinab Shuker | 21 Oct 2020

    The OPEC+ member states, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, agreed in April 2020 to slash oil production by 9.7 million barrels per day (mbpd) in May and June – the deepest cuts ever agreed by the world’s oil producers. They aim to stabilize both oil markets and prices, which reached their lowest level in almost two decades due to the coronavirus. Iraq – the second largest oil producer after Saudi Arabia – agreed to a cut of 850,000 barrels per day (bpd). However, as with some other producers in the region, Iraq faces both the short-term challenges to its crisis-ridden economy posed by COVID-19 and those that necessitate fundamental long-term changes to its oil-dependent economic structure.

  • The Possibility of Military Escalation between Turkey and Greece and Likely Scenarios

    Dr. Nizar Abdul Kader | 11 Oct 2020

    Tensions in the eastern Mediterranean are at their highest in decades following Turkey’s decision to send a research vessel, the Oruç Reis, to prospect for gas and oil in maritime areas which Turkey believes fall within its exclusive economic zone, a claim disputed by both Greece and Cyprus. The roots of the crisis stretch back several years to when commercial quantities of oil and gas were first discovered in the marine areas off the coast of the two countries. Given the geographic overlap between the two, both Athens and Ankara claimed rights to those resources, which has greatly complicated the issues of sovereignty and economic rights in the exclusive economic zones claimed by both sides. Before delving into the causes of the dispute — in which Greece and Cyprus together are facing off against Turkey — and the possible outcomes, it will be useful to take a quick look at the history of relations between the three countries, which have so often been characterized by the threat of escalation and a growing sense of hostility.

  • Has Iraq Become a Field for Iranian-Turkish Agreement?

    EPC | 01 Oct 2020

    ​On 8 September 2020, the sixth meeting of the Iran-Turkey Cooperation Council was held under the chairmanship of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The meeting approved many common issues between the two sides as a gateway to enhancing their strategic relations at this stage. However, what is striking is that the meeting, which took place by means of videoconferencing, confirmed that the two countries would take joint steps in the region in a way that serves their interests, “including joint military and security operations, in countering terrorism and organised crime” groups. These are directly linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Iranian Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK). It did not take long hours before reports emerged of an escalation of Turkish and Iranian bombardment of the areas where these two organisations are deployed in the cities of Erbil and Dohuk in Iraqi Kurdistan.

  • “Katyusha Cells”: The Long Arm of Iran-Backed Factions in Iraq

    ​Firas Elias | 30 Sep 2020

    The beginning of 2020 marked the actual emergence of the so-called "Katyusha cells" in Iraq. The killing of the commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards General Qasem Soleimani, accompanied by the Deputy Chairman of the Popular Mobilisation Committee (PMC) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in the vicinity of Baghdad International Airport at the beginning of 2020, was the practical beginning of the formation of those cells, which took it upon themselves to attack the headquarters and bases in which the US forces are located, as well as the US Embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone. Despite the lack of clarity of the structure of those cells and of their organisational and administrative links, what is certain is that they came about as a result of an agreed internal fission between the [pro-Iran] loyalist factions in order to carry out irresponsible missile attacks against the US forces and exert more pressure on the Iraqi government regarding the issue of removing the US forces from Iraq.

Scenarios

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  • Morocco’s Experience of Combating Terrorist Threats: Indicators of Success and Future Possibilities

    Shereen Mohammed | 13 Oct 2020

    The Moroccan model for dealing with violent and terrorist groups, in particular Islamic State (IS) and Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, is one of very few cases of a pre‑emptive mechanism for preventing national security threats. Most Arab States have, by contrast, taken a curative approach to dealing with the consequences of terrorism (i.e. retrospectively, once the impact has grown), in particular after the 2011 revolutionary movement and the armed conflict that subsequently spread throughout several Arab States. This article will examine the “multi‑pronged pre-emptive” approach adopted by the Moroccan government, which blends political and security dimensions, especially in view of important economic factors compounded by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The Resumption of Conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh: Geopolitical Dimensions and Likely Scenarios

    ​Ahmed Diab | 04 Oct 2020

    On 27 September 2020, after an inconclusive ceasefire period that lasted nearly three decades, military confrontations erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan through a barrage of artillery shelling, during which heavy armour was deployed along the confrontation line separating the two countries regarding the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region and its neighboring areas. The confrontations quickly turned into an escalating military conflict between the two countries, which reinforced fears of potential destabilising repercussions in the Caucasus.

  • Participation of Islamic Action Front in Jordan’s Parliamentary Elections: Significance and Likely Scenarios

    Shereen Mohammed | 30 Sep 2020

    ​On 21 September 2020, the Islamic Action Front (IAF, Jabhat al-Amal al-Islami) party in Jordan (the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood) announced its participation in the parliamentary elections scheduled to be held on 10 November 2020, according to an IAF statement that was read by the IAF Deputy Secretary-General Wael al-Sakka. This paper analyses the implications of the IAF’s participation in the upcoming parliamentary elections, the challenges it faces, both from within it and in the surrounding environment, and the possible scenarios for the IAF’s tactics during the next phase.

  • The “October Surprise” Scenarios in the Upcoming U.S Elections

    EPC | 20 Sep 2020

    ​The concept of the "October Surprise" constitutes an integral part of the US political vocabulary during the US presidential election years. This term usually refers to the occurrence of an internal or foreign policy event only weeks before Americans go to the polls in early November, which may affect the election result. The presidential elections in November 2020 entail higher risks in case of such an event, given the severe political polarisation in the US. The presence of a small number of undecided voters in swing states is likely to determine the final outcome of the election. It is also likely that the decision of those swing voters will come in response to their automatic reactions to last-minute developments.