• Research Briefing

    Syria: no end in sight?

    In summer 2012, the tempo of the Syrian conflict suddenly appeared to quicken. After long months during which many predicted a stalemate between the two sides, a bomb killed some of the Syrian government’s top security personnel, the authorities appeared to be losing control of much larger areas of the country, and more senior figures defected, including the Prime Minister.

  • Research Briefing

    Arab uprisings: an update

    Two of the three countries that have had elections since the Arab uprisings – Tunisia and Egypt – have seen mainstream and more radical Islamists dominating. In Libya, the third of the three, a pragmatic and relatively secular politician who had been former Prime Minister during the rebellion did well. It is still early to know what these new governments will do.

  • Research Briefing

    Libya’s General Assembly election 2012

    On 7 July 2012, Libya held its first democratic election since 1964. Preliminary results suggest that the former interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril won a landslide victory among seats reserved for party candidates. However, this should not yet be interpreted as a victory for liberals over Islamists. 120 of the 200 seats are reserved for independents and their politics are not yet clear. Mahmoud Jibril has denied that he is a secularist. Nevertheless, it is very different from election results in Egypt and Tunisia, where the parties associated with the Muslim Brotherhood did well.

  • Research Briefing

    Iran: could there be a compromise?

    For the first time since January 2011, the negotiating group that deals with Iran’s nuclear programme is in talks with Iranian representatives. Whether or not this is a result of increased economic pressure and a growing threat of military action, there has been some speculation that this times the talks may be serious and that there is a prospect of a compromise.

  • Research Briefing

    Bahrain: an update

    Despite some progress in Bahrain, most reports suggest that the reform programme has been half-hearted at best. Unrest and reports of abuse continue and some fear an impending crisis.

  • Research Briefing

    Armenia 2012

    Armenia has recently held a parliamentary election that appeared to show that the country’s political culture is making some progress. There remain two big problems in Armenia’s relations with other countries: its occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh, which observers fear may spark another war, and the argument over whether the 1915 massacres amounted to genocide.

  • Research Briefing

    The Syrian Crisis: Update May 2012

    On 21 March, the UN Security Council supported a peace plan devised by Kofi Annan that called for a ceasefire, humanitarian access to Syria and the withdrawal of forces from urban areas. All sides declared their willingness to adhere to the plan. The Annan plan is at present the only hope of ending the accelerating violence in Syria, which has now caused more than 9,000 deaths, according to UN estimates.

  • Research Briefing

    Palestine update 2012

    Talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians on a two-state solution have stalled, with scarcely any meetings since 2010, but the Palestinian question has been displaced from the headlines by the crisis in Syria and mounting concerns about the Iranian nuclear programme.

  • Research Briefing

    The Russian crisis and Putin’s third term

    Recent parliamentary and presidential elections in Russia led to the return of Vladimir Putin as President of Russian Federation from May 2012. There has been a crisis in legitimacy of Putinism and moves to restore faith in the system, but the looming economic problems threaten the system and carrying through genuine reform will be difficult.

  • Research Briefing

    Is Iran building a nuclear weapon?

    Iran’s nuclear programme remains at the top of the international agenda. Many commentators think that Iran has not made a decision to build a nuclear weapon, but that Iran may want to be at the threshold, with the technical ability and materials to build a weapon fairly quickly if the decision were to be made.

  • Research Briefing

    Palestinian elections?

    A date of 4 May has been agreed for Palestinian legislative and presidential elections. Observers are unsure whether they will in fact take place on that date, as much depends on the fraught reconciliation negotiations between Hamas and Fatah.