Ethnopolitics Papers | Volume 4 (2014-2015)By Timofey Agarin on 23 December 2014
All manuscripts below are freely available for download.
Ethnopolitics Paper No. 26
Iran’s Nuclear Policy: Concealed Intentions, Suspicious Behaviours
Since the public revelations of Iran’s concealed nuclear facilities in August 2002, and despite years of inconclusive technical investigations by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Iranian regime has been widely suspected of pursuing nuclear weapons ambitions by Western officials, their regional allies, and analysts. Adopting a constructivist perspective, this paper argues that the limited belief in the exclusively peaceful aims of Iran’s nuclear programme is strongly conditioned by the framing of its nuclear activities as a threat to international peace and security. To this end, the article engages with the three main factors that have shaped this particular understanding of Iran’s nuclear activities. It first analyses the rogue-state status of the Islamic Republic of Iran in order to shed light on the trust-deficient and securitised context within which the nuclear issue has unfolded. This article then engages with the main threat-based assessments regarding the likely effects of nuclear weapons acquisition on Iran’s decision-making calculus. In light of its attributed identity and preferences as a rogue state, Iran is not expected to behave like other nuclear-weapon states; thus further securitising its pursuit of sensitive nuclear technologies.
Ethnopolitics Paper No. 27
The Costs of Inadequacy: Violence and Elections in Iraq
Iraq is currently witnessing the highest levels of violence since 2008 and with the failure to adequately adjust the election laws the ethnic and sectarian violence is only set to increase following the 2014 elections. This paper examines the core political factors that have contributed to the escalation of violence and the intensification of the conflict following the last national elections in 2010. It also analyses potential changes to the election laws that could solve many of the issues highlighted and thus reverse the escalation of violence.
Ethnopolitics Paper No. 28
Afghanistan’s 2014 Presidential Election: Assisting Democratisation
Afghanistan’s 2014 presidential election is the third such poll since the Bonn Agreement of 2001 and is significant for representing the first democratic transfer of power. It is also significant for reinvigorating a sense of legitimacy amidst a greater democratisation process which was severely setback by the fraudulent election of 2009. However, this democratisation process (and associated elections) is just one aspect of the international community’s engagement concerning the state-building and counterinsurgency efforts within Afghanistan. Furthermore, these elections and the developing polity of the Islamic Republic must be seen to conform to the distinct socio-political, ethnic, and historical context of Afghanistan’s power structures. In Afghanistan the Single Non-Transferable Vote (SNTV) is for the candidate, not the political party. However, within the democratisation process it may be argued that the winning candidate is less important than the flavour of democracy which they promote. Observations within this commentary paper are indicative of the need to pursue a distinct Afghan mode of democracy, and for international aid donors to assist this in order for democratisation to progress towards fruition.
Ethnopolitics Paper No. 29
Iraq’s 2014 elections: A prelude to the country’s partition?
Iraq is currently experiencing profound socio-political and security crises. This paper examines the April 2014 parliamentary elections, and the subsequent political brinkmanship over the appointment of Iraq’s Speaker of Parliament, its President and its yet to be determined Prime Minister. It argues that the elections have exposed the depth of internal divisions and the inability of state institutions to project and deliver, both symbolically and practically, an inclusive future for all Iraqis. Iraq has been beset by profound issues of poor governance, sectarian polarisation and spiralling violence. Whilst Nouri al-Maliki’s power-seeking ambitions and behaviour bear significant responsibility for these internal dynamics, this paper contends that the post-2003 institutional arrangements and ensuing ethnic and group dynamics have also played a role. More recently, the rapidly changing regional environment has substantially impacted on Iraq’s internal divisions and narratives of grievances, fear and estrangement. The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, as well as other Sunni insurgent groups, have capitalised on its weakened and divided political terrain. In addition, their significant advances within Iraq’s national territory have further polarised the country’s elite and heightened the power dynamics between the Shia, the Sunni and the Kurdish political groupings. As domestic and external actors continue to manoeuvre for the position of Prime Minister, Iraq’s future very much remains in the balance. Whether or not it remains a unitary state, and however de-centralised it may become, the plight of its communities continues.
Ethnopolitics Paper No. 30
Gauging Divisions in Northern Ireland: Sinn Fein and the 2014 Local Elections
The aim of this article is to determine whether ethno-national divisions in Northern Ireland have become less salient in the post-Good Friday (or Belfast) Agreement era. It argues that if this is so, election campaigns in the North would be highly policy driven and bear significant resemblance to those in the Republic of Ireland due to the absence of any significant ethno-national divisions in that state. This article, therefore, analyses Sinn Fein’s Northern and Southern 2014 local government election manifestos through an ethno-symbolist lens to elucidate whether the level of nationalist symbolism and rhetoric of the former is comparable to that of the latter. It concludes that the party’s nationalism is more moderately expressed in its Southern manifesto, which places greater emphasis on socio-economic policies and is less focused on issues concerning the constitutional future of the island of Ireland. This dissonance is attributed to the continued significance of unionism and nationalism in Northern Ireland.
Ethnopolitics Paper No. 31
The 2014 Presidential Elections in Turkey: Old Wine in a New Bottle?
Onur Bakiner and Bahar Baser
The paper provides an overview of the 2014 presidential elections in Turkey, a seminal moment in Turkish political history. President-elect Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s aspiration for transforming Turkey into a presidential system is expected to have significant ramifications for Turkey and the Middle East. The paper examines the unique aspects of the presidential elections, focusing on the nomination process and election campaigns. It also sheds light on the external voting campaign and its results, as the diaspora vote constituted one of the novelties of these elections. Future implications of the election results are analysed by focusing on the current political situation in Turkey. The paper concludes that the presidential election process did not overcome the hardening divisions among the key groupings in Turkey, political polarization is therefore likely to continue and the election process has actually added to the climate of uncertainty regarding the design and functioning of political institutions.