Policy Forum Reports

The Muslim Brotherhood: Friend or Foe? – April 24, 2014

The Muslim Brotherhood was founded by Hasan al-Banna in 1928, in order to spread Islamic morals and oppose British colonial rule. While the Brotherhood’s early work primarily consisted of providing medical, educational, and other types of services to the poor, the group’s later focus has been to promote a more traditional view of Islam, and to call for a return to the use of the Qur’an and sharia law as the basis for personal and political life. Read the full report.

Terrorism in the Greater Horn of Africa – February 18, 2014

The Greater Horn of Africa is one of the most conflicted regions in the world, and terrorism has been on the rise since the 1990s. Contributing factors include widespread poverty, rampant unemployment, an overabundance of weapons, and highly porous (in some places, undefined) borders. In addition, the collapse of governments and upheaval of other institutional structures—as in places like Somalia and South Sudan — enable terrorist groups to step in to fill the vacuum, as was the case with Al-Shabaab after the dissolution of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) in Somalia. Read the full report.

Afghanistan – November 12, 2013

The planned withdrawal of the remaining US troops from Afghanistan and the upcoming national elections make 2014 a pivotal year. Key issues discussed at this latest Policy Forum included U.S. negotiations with the Taliban and the non-participation of the Afghan government; concerns about free and fair elections; the reintegration of warlords into civil society; the disparity in how Afghanistan’s economic, educational and technological progress has been perceived in Afghanistan and the United States; expressed opposition to violence by religious leaders, and recommended actions for the United States to address these matters. Read the full report.

Political Islam and its Effects on Transitioning States: Contemporary Developments in Bangladesh – May 2, 2013

The topics discussed at this Forum on Bangladesh included concerns regarding political party tactics and tensions, the controversial International Criminal Tribunal (ICT), and mounting inter-religious tensions. These factors grow ever more complex in light of upcoming elections. In addition, the political friction between India and China is placing Bangladesh at the geopolitical center of an increasingly tense situation. Read the full report.

Egypt – February 21, 2013

The Forum on Egypt centered around a discussion of the obstacles to Egypt’s democratic transition – including political divisions and the role of the military – as well as economic challenges and US-Egypt relations. Read the full report.

Lebanon – November 8, 2012

The discussion on Lebanon explored the Lebanese-Syrian relationship, the effect of Syrian violence on Lebanon, the role of regional actors, and the role of the United States and its policy options. Read the full report.

Yemen – September 27, 2012

Themes from this Policy Forum involved Yemen’s political transition, the perceptions of the U.S.’s role, terrorism and drone strikes, developmental challenges, tribal roles, and the southern separatist movement. Read the full report.

Sudan – May 3, 2012

The discussion on Sudan covered historical and current factors including internal tensions, religious intolerance and extremism, resources and economic challenges, and challenges for the US.   Read the full report.

Iran – April 12, 2012

Key issues discussed at the policy forum include Iran’s nuclear program, human rights, and regional dynamics and Iranian influence. Options discussed for US Action include military action, sanctions, government diplomacy, and citizen diplomacy.  Read the full report.

Pakistan at the Crossroads – February 23, 2012

Pakistan is the foremost U.S. national security challenge in the world today in terms of the potential linkage of religious extremism to nuclear weapons. The second most populous Muslim country in the world, Pakistan has a challenging history and a political and social system that is heavily influenced by patronage and family networks. However, it seems unlikely that an “Arab Spring” revolutionary-style movement will develop in Pakistan because of the country’s democratic leanings and its judiciary whose independence is growing over time. Read the full report.

Religious Minorities in Middle East Countries – January 19, 2012

Religious minorities in the Muslim world have typically been at greatest risk in times of political or social upheaval. With the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, the regime change in Egypt, and the uprisings in Syria, religious minorities such as Christians, Shias, Alawites, Druze, and Bahai’s have often felt increasingly endangered, in some cases losing their lives or being forced to flee the country. Read the full report.

Palestine – October 26, 2011

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas applied for full membership of the United Nations on Sept. 23. In addition, the PA separately sought membership to UN bodies, including UNESCO. The PA is pushing ahead despite the US resolve to veto, unless peace talks are involved. To this point the Quartet: the United States, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations have not agreed on a set of negotiating guidelines on borders, security, refugees and Jerusalem.  Read the full report.

Syria – September 26, 2011

The Syrian regime continues to torture and kill civilians, including extra-judicial executions of prisoners. While the uprising continues to grow, and more people are secretly donating funds to the resistance, the majority of the Syrian elites appear to be refraining from action, with the intent of joining whichever side wins. Motivating factors need to be found for them to fully realize what is happening and support the uprising. Read the full report.

Bahrain – July 7, 2011

The protests in Bahrain, which have been ongoing since February despite government attempts to limit them, are being led by the younger generation protesting against their disenfranchisement caused by job shortages, inflation, and a lack of political freedom. While the Bahraini protestors are framing their movement with “Western” terms such as “social justice,” the protests are recognized as legitimate internal movement. Unlike previous protests in the 1990s, the current protest movement is committed to nonviolence, and is “leaderless”, making it more difficult to negotiate with but also more difficult to suppress. Read the full report.

Libya – April 27, 2011

The current crisis in Libya is a popular uprising against an oppressive government, not a civil war. In contrast to democratic uprisings elsewhere in the Arab world, the Libyan people directly requested military assistance from the international community in response to a severe military crackdown by the Libyan government. This assistance has been delivered with multilateral support from the UN, NATO, the United States, the EU, and the Arab League. The decision by the international community to intervene should be viewed as a direct response to unique circumstances and not as a template for future military intervention elsewhere. Read the full report.

The Future of Democracy in the Muslim World – March 23, 2011

The topic of this first Forum was the future of democracy in the Muslim world, exploring Turkey as a possible model for future developments and Tunisia as the Arab state which comes closest to the Turkish model. The following ideas were put forth during the discussions. Read the full report.

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