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Archive for the ‘Middle East’ Category

Fatal Attraction: Western Muslimas and ISIS

July 1, 2015 Comments off

Fatal Attraction: Western Muslimas and ISIS
Source: Perspectives on Terrorism

More than 550 Muslim women from Western countries have joined ISIS and moved to its proclaimed ‘Caliphate’ in Syria and Iraq. No extremist group has been able to attract so many female Western recruits so far, and their number continues to grow. This article is intended to explain the reasons behind such unprecedented success, the motivation of Western Muslimas to join ISIS and their roles in the ‘Islamic State’. It also compares living conditions under ISIS’ rule with the expectation induced by ISIS’ recruiters in women from the West who had shown an interest to make hijra and join ISIS. Understanding these factors is vital to figure out how to stop this trend and to assess the security threat posed to the West by possible female returnees, or radicalized sympathizers who are unable to leave their countries of residence.

Middle Eastern and North African Immigrants in the United States

June 26, 2015 Comments off

Middle Eastern and North African Immigrants in the United States
Source: Migration Policy Institute

As of 2013, approximately 1.02 million immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region resided in the United States, representing 2.5 percent of the nation’s 41.3 million immigrants. Migration from the MENA region to the United States, motivated mainly by political instability in the region and economic opportunities abroad, began in the 18th century and has occurred in three phases.

Country Analysis Brief: Iran

June 26, 2015 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Iran
Source: Energy Information Administration

Iran holds some of the world’s largest deposits of proved oil and natural gas reserves, ranking as the world’s fourth-largest and second-largest reserve holder of oil and natural gas, respectively. Iran also ranks among the world’s top 10 oil producers and top 5 natural gas producers. Iran produced almost 3.4 million barrels per day (b/d) of petroleum and other liquids in 2014 and an estimated 5.7 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of dry natural gas in 2013.

The Strait of Hormuz, off the southeastern coast of Iran, is an important route for oil exports from Iran and other Persian Gulf countries. At its narrowest point, the Strait of Hormuz is 21 miles wide, yet an estimated 17 million b/d of crude oil and refined products flowed through it in 2013 (roughly 30% of all seaborne traded oil and almost 20% of total oil produced globally). Liquefied natural gas (LNG) volumes also flow through the Strait of Hormuz. Approximately 3.7 Tcf of LNG was transported from Qatar via the Strait of Hormuz in 2013, accounting for more than 30% of global LNG trade.

The Costs of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

June 12, 2015 Comments off

The Costs of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Source: RAND Corporation

For much of the past century, the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has been a defining feature of the Middle East. Despite billions of dollars expended to support, oppose, or seek to resolve it, the conflict has endured for decades, with periodic violent eruptions, of which the Israel-Gaza confrontation in the summer of 2014 is only the most recent.

This study estimates the net costs and benefits over the next ten years of five alternative trajectories — a two-state solution, coordinated unilateral withdrawal, uncoordinated unilateral withdrawal, nonviolent resistance, and violent uprising — compared with the costs and benefits of a continuing impasse that evolves in accordance with present trends. The analysis focuses on economic costs related to the conflict, including the economic costs of security. In addition, intangible costs are briefly examined, and the costs of each scenario to the international community have been calculated.

The study’s focus emerged from an extensive scoping exercise designed to identify how RAND’s objective, fact-based approach might promote fruitful policy discussion. The overarching goal is to give all parties comprehensive, reliable information about available choices and their expected costs and consequences.

Seven key findings were identified: A two-state solution provides by far the best economic outcomes for both Israelis and Palestinians. Israelis would gain over three times more than the Palestinians in absolute terms — $123 billion versus $50 billion over ten years. But the Palestinians would gain more proportionately, with average per capita income increasing by approximately 36 percent over what it would have been in 2024, versus 5 percent for the average Israeli. A return to violence would have profoundly negative economic consequences for both Palestinians and Israelis; per capita gross domestic product would fall by 46 percent in the West Bank and Gaza and by 10 percent in Israel by 2024. In most scenarios, the value of economic opportunities gained or lost by both parties is much larger than expected changes in direct costs.

Roundup of Recent CRS Reports About the Middle East and the Arab World

May 18, 2015 Comments off

Roundup of Recent CRS Reports About the Middle East and the Arab World (PDFs)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

 

CFR Backgrounder: Europe’s Migration Crisis

May 13, 2015 Comments off

CFR Backgrounder: Europe’s Migration Crisis
Source: Council on Foreign Relations

The growing numbers of migrants and asylum seekers fleeing turmoil in Africa and the Middle East poses complex challenges for European policymakers still grappling with weak economic growth and fractured national politics. Europe, according to a 2014 report from the International Organization for Migration, is currently the most dangerous destination for irregular migration in the world, and the Mediterranean Sea the world’s most dangerous border crossing. To date, the European Union’s collective response to its growing migrant crisis has been ad hoc and, critics charge, more focused on securing the bloc’s borders than on protecting the rights of migrants and refugees. With nationalist parties ascendant in many member states and concerns about Islamic terrorism looming large across the continent, it remains unclear if political headwinds will facilitate a new climate of immigration reform.

CRS — State Sponsors of Acts of International Terrorism–Legislative Parameters: In Brief (February 27, 2015)

April 23, 2015 Comments off

State Sponsors of Acts of International Terrorism–Legislative Parameters: In Brief (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria are identified by the U.S. government as countries with governments that support acts of international terrorism. As the 114th Congress is sworn in and begins its first session, U.S. foreign policy and national security policies toward Cuba, Iran, and North Korea are in a state of close scrutiny, with an eye to easing sanctions, including removing Cuba and Iran from the terrorist lists, and with an eye to returning North Korea to the same lists. While it is the President’s authority to designate, and remove from designation, terrorist states, Congress is likely to weigh in as the reviews proceed.

This brief report provides information on legislation that authorizes the designation of any foreign government as a state sponsor of acts of international terrorism. It addresses the statutes and how they each define acts of international terrorism; establish a list to limit or prohibit aid or trade; provide for systematic removal of a foreign government from a list, including timeline and reporting requirements; authorize the President to waive restrictions on a listed foreign government; and provide (or do not provide) Congress with a means to block a delisting. It closes with a summary of delisting in the past.

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