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Policy Analysis: Featured

Fighting Corruption is Essential to Kurdish Independence

Jeffrey Koncsol

On September 25, 2017, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq will hold a referendum on independence and succession. An independent Kurdish state is something that Kurds have sought for generations, but the notion of a referendum among Iraqi Kurds has gained strength in recent years due to disintegrating relations with Baghdad. While the region faces numerous hurdles to actual independence, purposefully and earnestly tackling corruption is key to the success of an independent Kurdistan.

Fikra Forum

New Jordan Poll Reveals Surprisingly Moderate Public Opinion

David Pollock

As President Trump meets with foreign leaders at the UN General Assembly this week, new poll data demonstrate that his agenda – combating jihadi terrorists, countering Iran, and broadening Arab-Israeli dialogue – has great popular appeal in at least one key Arab country: Jordan. A reliable survey conducted in Jordan last month shows that many Jordanian now hold unexpectedly moderate views on all these topics, and more, including Islamic reform, relations with the United States, and even cooperation with Israel. In this one society, at least, these findings are so striking that they turn conventional wisdom about “the Arab street” on its head.

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Qatar-Egypt Rivalry at Heart of UNESCO Election

Joseph Hammond

The most interesting election of 2017 may be its least transparent. In October, the United Nations will elect the next Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in a race as wild as any presidential or parliamentary contest. The next director will manage over $500 million in donations to the organization over a five-year term, and earns a highly-visible profile in the UN and international politics writ large. Last year, outgoing UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova came within a few votes of being voted Secretary-General of the United Nations.

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Pragmatic Options for Gaza

Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib

Ever since Hamas violently ejected the Palestinian Authority’s forces from Gaza in 2007, report after report has detailed the degradation of infrastructure and the inevitability of crises. The United Nations has warned that Gaza will become unlivable by 2020 — a warning repeated almost annually since 2012, louder and sterner since the 2014 war between Hamas and Israel. Though it might sound counterintuitive, big strategic plans for the reconstruction and development of Gaza are of little use for the time being. What is urgently needed are calculated, pragmatic, and tactical steps to shake up the status quo, without requiring unrealistic prerequisites prior to the initiation of such actions.

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How Qatar Seeks To Establish New Trade Routes

Sigurd Neubauer

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt severed diplomatic ties with Qatar over allegations that Doha is supporting terrorism and that it embraces Iran and its regional agenda. The Saudi-led quartet (Quartet) also imposed an economic embargo of Qatar – which includes cutting off all food supplies and access to medicine - by closing off land and maritime borders. Towards that end, the Quartet also closed down all air routes to and from Doha from their respective countries, which has dramatically impacted Qatar Airways’ ability to compete against its regional competitors.

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