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  • Author: Amy Hawthorne, Frances G. Burwell, Danya Greenfield
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: A new Atlantic Council report warns against the tendency of Europe and the United States to sideline political and economic reform in the Middle East while they pursue urgent security priorities in this turbulent region. Instead, the transatlantic partners should forge a shared strategy to encourage political systems that can protect Arab citizens' basic rights, provide security, deliver broad prosperity, and mitigate violent extremism.
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East
  • Author: Danya Greenfield, Faysal Itani
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: To cling to current short-sighted policies and to help sustain dysfunctional states in the Middle East for the sake of short-term security would condemn the region to poverty and further instability, which threaten to have negative consequences for US interests.
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Bilal Y. Saab, Michael S. Tyson
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: In September 2014, Bilal Y. Saab, Resident Senior Fellow for Middle East Security at the Atlantic Council's Brent Scowcroft on International Security, and Michael S. Tyson, Marine Corps Senior Fellow at the Scowcroft Center, predicted in a simulation exercise (for results, see "ISIS War Game: The Coming Stalemate") conducted at the Scowcroft Center's Middle East Peace and Security Initiative that the most likely scenario was a military stalemate. They also realized that such a stalemate was not stable. Since the conclusion of the first war game, ISIS's regional attacks have increased in scope, lethality, and level of sophistication, as evidenced by its military and terrorist operations in Libya, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Lebanon.
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt
  • Author: Bilal Y. Saab
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: September 2015 marked the one-year anniversary of President Barack Obama's speech outlining the administration's strategy to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Yet, ISIS celebrated in June its own first-year anniversary of setting up a state by conducting three nearly simultaneous terrorist operations in three different countries—France, Tunisia, and Kuwait. Just this past month, ISIS also shocked the world with its attacks in Paris and Beirut and its downing of a Russian airliner in Egypt, killing more than 400 people combined and injuring hundreds more. While nobody expected the destruction of a resilient and agile foe such as ISIS within a couple of years, it is deeply troubling that the coalition is having such a hard time even disrupting its activities.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, War, Counterinsurgency, Fragile/Failed State, ISIS
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Kristin Diwan
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Shaped by a new media environment and emboldened by the early success of the Arab Awakening, activist youth are bringing new forms of civic engagement and political contestation to the Arab states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The emerging Gulf youth movements are distinctive in their comprehensive critique of the ruling system and in their dismissal of existing political leaders as incapable of delivering fundamental political reform.
  • Topic: Youth Culture, Social Movement
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Faysal Itani, Nathaniel Rosenblatt
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: As the conflict in Syria enters its fourth year, US policy has consistently failed to achieve its stated object: a negotiated political transition based on the mutual consent of the regime and opposition. The United States and its Western allies have focused on summits and high-level diplomacy as the most effective means to that laudable end. This approach ignores an essential missing ingredient: an opposition able to coordinate different anti-regime forces, exercise agency on their behalf, and provide decent local governance, without which Syrians will continue to suffer and fight irrespective of whether the regime is overthrown.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Syria, North America
  • Author: Mohsin Khan
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The popular uprisings that swept the Middle East in early 2011 dramatically altered the political landscape of the region with the overthrow of autocratic regimes in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen. These uprisings gave hope to citizens that this was the beginning of a long-overdue process of democratic transition in the Arab world. The monarchies of Jordan and Morocco also went through profound political changes, even though the rulers maintained their power. While the promise of democracy in the Arab transition countries was seen as the driving force in the uprisings, economic issues were an equally important factor. The explosive combination of undemocratic regimes, corruption, high unemployment, and widening income and wealth inequalities all created the conditions for the uprisings. The citizens of these countries thus expected governments to simultaneously address their political and economic demands.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Economics, International Trade and Finance, International Monetary Fund
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Yemen, Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia
  • Author: Mustansir Barma
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: “Bread, freedom, and social justice,” is the familiar slogan chanted across the Middle East and North Africa since the Arab uprisings erupted in December 2010. Labor issues fit into this trifecta: bread is a symbol of earning a decent living, freedom is tied to worker rights such as assembly and industrial action, and social justice is linked to dignity derived from employment and better working conditions. Egyptian workers remain frustrated about the lack of progress in achieving the labor rights that are fundamental to this rallying cry.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Food
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Patrick O'Reilly
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: NATO leaders have cited missile defense as an example of applying the principles of the Smart Defense initiative endorsed at the 2012 NATO Summit to enhance collective defense at minimum cost. As ballistic missiles continue to proliferate and become more accessible to both state and nonstate actors, it is important to foster global partnerships to pursue NATO's missile defense mission and protect North American and European interests. NATO should consider opportunities to further apply the principles of Smart Defense now to reduce future costs of deterring and countering missile proliferation.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, NATO, Arms Control and Proliferation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Asia, North America
  • Author: Amy Hawthorne
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Three years into Egypt's post-Mubarak transition, the near-term prospects for democratization are bleak. The military-security alliance that ousted the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president, in July 2013 is consolidating power. Government repression against the Islamist opposition, and more recently against secular dissenters, is harsher and society is more polarized than in any point in recent memory.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Democratization, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North America, Egypt
  • Author: Pinar Dost-Niyego, Orhan Taner
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The recent events in Ukraine have revived the question of European dependence on Russian natural gas. The security of Europe's natural gas supply has been a consistently important issue in Russian-European Union (EU) relations. Russia provided 34 percent of EU gas in 2012, and Russian policies can have a direct impact on EU supplies. After the West-Russian confrontation over Ukraine, a lot has been said about the 'US shale gas revolution' and the possibilities of the United States becoming an energy exporter for future European energy needs. Although US energy independence seems to promise new perspectives for future European energy security, as well as for the balance of power in the Middle East, this is not for this decade. We cannot expect that the European Union would be able to cut off all of its energy relations with Russia, but we can foresee–or at least agree–that the European Union should diversify its natural gas supplies.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Economics, Energy Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Ukraine, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Rafat Al-Akhali
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The 2011 protests against corruption, lack of accountability, limited access to basic services, and the extreme centralization of power transformed Yemen. In November of that year, the main political parties signed a transition plan, brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council, which provided the framework and process to achieve a peaceful transfer of power. Two of the key steps agreed upon in the transition plan were the convening of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC), followed by drafting a new constitution based on the outcomes of the National Dialogue.
  • Topic: Corruption, Government, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen
  • Author: Karim Mezran, Mohsin Khan
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The popular uprisings that swept the Arab world in 2011 passed Algeria by. While there were sporadic street demonstrations calling for political change, principally in the country's capital Algiers, they quickly petered out due to lack of support from the general public. Unlike in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, the political power system in Algeria remained intact. The autocratic government of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has been the president since 1999, retained complete control, culminating in his reelection on April 17 for a fourth term despite his obviously failing health.
  • Topic: Democratization, Governance, Social Movement, Popular Revolt, Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Arabia, North America, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Kenneth Katzman
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Since the seizure of US hostages in Iran following the 1979 revolution, the US government has imposed a succession of economic penalties against the Islamic Republic. The complexity and severity of these sanctions intensified following Iran's resumption of a uranium enrichment program in 2006. However, there are a variety of ways to provide extensive sanctions relief should there be a deal placing long-term restrictions on Iran's nuclear activities.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, Nuclear Weapons, Sanctions, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, North America
  • Author: Faysal Itani
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Jihadists are steadily capturing territory and resources and establishing a state in Syria and Iraq. The most capable jihadist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), now controls swathes of territory, energy resources, and sophisticated military hardware in both countries. Although the extremists are currently occupied with fighting other nonregime armed groups and the Syrian and Iraqi regimes, these efforts are a means to an end: building a state from which to confront and target the United States, its allies, and its interests in the region. These jihadist groups also bring boundless suffering to the populations they control, and serve as a magnet for and inspiration to jihadists worldwide.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Karim Mezran, Mohsin Khan
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: In contrast to popular uprisings throughout the Middle East and North Africa in 2011, Morocco has emerged relatively unscathed, avoiding destabilizing political upheaval or economic impact. The case of Morocco has surprised many observers because its weak and problematic social, political, and economic indicators are much like those of the other transitioning countries.
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Morocco
  • Author: Richard LeBaron
  • Publication Date: 02-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Two important issues are testing relations between the United States and its allies in the Gulf: democratic transitions in the Arab world and regional security. Their outcome will either strengthen or disrupt what has been a long-term partnership. The United States and its Gulf allies are well into their second year of reacting to, and attempting to influence, the rapid political change in the Middle East and North Africa, but their efforts are informed by differing motivations. Meanwhile the looming threat of Iran attaining nuclear weapons has brought greater urgency to efforts to enhance Gulf security, but also some disquiet in the Gulf about any possible US deal with Iran that would serve global non-proliferation interests but threaten their vital regional security interests.
  • Topic: Democratization, International Security, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, North Africa, North America
  • Author: Odeh Aburdene
  • Publication Date: 02-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: It is in the interest of the world community to increase all energy resources—oil, gas, coal, solar, green, and nuclear. There are 7 billion people on this planet today. By 2100 that number will rise to 10 billion people. We can only meet their needs by maximizing energy production and using it in the most efficient means available.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, International Trade and Finance, Oil, Biofuels
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Michele Dunne, Barry Pavel
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: In President Barack Obama's first term, his administration withdrew US forces from Iraq, ratcheted up pressure to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions, began the adjustment to relations with post-authoritarian governments in Arab countries including Egypt, struggled with how best to handle an increasingly bloody rebellion in Syria, and attempted to restart diplomacy on the Israeli/Palestinian problem. At the beginning of his second term, US interests are at significant risk as the region continues to undergo profound changes, and Arab and European allies are asking for greater US engagement. The region also presents the United States with unanticipated opportunities, such as the development of Arab democracies and a reduction in Iranian influence. The challenge facing the United States is how to lead without dominating, and how to protect and promote US interests without absolving other actors of responsibility. Thus, the task for this administration is to develop a strategy: to match the president's positive rhetoric with meaningful follow-up in terms of diplomacy, assistance, and security cooperation.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Security, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, North Africa, North America
  • Author: Mahmoud Hamad
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Egypt's judiciary has played a central role in the country's transition since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. The political forces that led the uprising agreed on almost nothing except their profound rejection of dictatorship, corruption, and injustice. The military generals who took over from Mubarak lacked the imagination or the will to set out a clear roadmap to democracy. Ultimately, it fell to the judiciary to shape many aspects of the transition. In the legally murky climate of the past two years, judges drew fire from forces across the political spectrum, issuing decisions affecting the public perception of their objectivity.
  • Topic: Democratization, Regime Change, Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Barbara Slavin, Yasmin Alem
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Iran has never had what the West would regard as free, fair, and competitive elections. Some would point to the brief periods following the 1906 Constitutional Revolution and between the end of World War II and 1953, when a CIA-backed coup re-installed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, as possible exceptions to this rule. The upcoming presidential elections this June will be no such exception, with candidates restricted to eight proven loyalists to the regime. Nevertheless, the vote will be an important barometer of the stability and durability of an embattled regime that is increasingly unpopular domestically and isolated internationally. The elections will also produce a new turn of the kaleidoscope within Iran's shrinking political elite, as existing factions break apart and regroup. The next president is likely to be more moderate in tone, if not in policy, and more competent and less divisive than the outgoing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This could have important implications not just for the country's domestic course but for Iran's confrontation with the United States and the international community over the nuclear question.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Islam, Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Barbara Slavin, Ramin Asgard
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: This issue brief of the Atlantic Council's Iran Task Force outlines the 179-year history of US contacts with Iran, which have experienced periods of breakdown but currently are continuing at a low level despite the absence of formal diplomatic ties. It also recommends actions to advance these exchanges as a national security imperative—especially as the nuclear dispute with the Iranian government could well persist.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North America
  • Author: Faysal Itani, Sarah Grebowkski
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: To describe the increase in violence and instability in Lebanon since the civil war in Syria began as simply a spillover is misleading. it risks casting Lebanon as a victim to negative externalities divorced from its own political dysfunction. in truth, Lebanon's troubles long preceded the war in Syria, and the conflict's more complex and pernicious effect on Lebanon has been the exposure and deepening of pre-existing rifts among Lebanese.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Human Rights, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Refugee Issues
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Faysal Itani
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The Syrian civil war is accelerating Lebanon's political and institutional decline and poses a serious long-term threat to its economy. Lebanon has largely been spared the political upheavals of the Arab Spring, its fractious political system is intact, and the weakness of its central government means there is no authoritarian order to revolt against. However, Lebanon's own political dysfunction, the regional powers' stakes in Lebanese politics, and their anxieties over the geopolitical challenges that the Arab uprisings pose magnify the economic dangers of Syria's disintegration.
  • Topic: Economics, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Barbara Slavin, Jason Healey
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: When most people think of the "military option" against Iran, they imagine a US attack that takes out Iran's most important known nuclear facilities at Natanz, Fordow, Arak, and Isfahan. They expect Iran to retaliate by closing the Strait of Hormuz, sending missiles into Israel, and/or supporting terrorist attacks on US personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Topic: Security, Science and Technology, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, North America
  • Author: Danya Greenfield
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: While Jordanians are focused on the conflict raging in neighboring Syria and the prospect of violence spilling over onto Jordanian soil, below the surface the same kind of political, economic, and social grievances that launched a wave of uprisings in the Arab world are present and intensifying in Jordan with each passing day. As calls for political change swept through Cairo, Tunis, Tripoli, and Sanaa in the spring of 2011, periodic protests emerged throughout Jordan as well, where a diverse mix of people came out in calls for greater freedoms and economic opportunity. Many of the anti-government demonstrations were led by youth, representing a broad spectrum from conservative East Bank tribes to the urban Palestinian-Jordanian elite, and the normally politically apathetic youth population seemed engaged in unprecedented ways. Young Jordanians struggle to land decent jobs, find affordable housing, and save enough money to get married; with 55 percent of the population under the age of twenty-five, and a 26 percent unemployment rate among males between fifteen and twenty-five years old, there is reason to be cognizant about youth discontent emerging in unexpected or critical moments of pressure.
  • Topic: Economics, Youth Culture, Social Movement, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia, Jordan
  • Author: Guillaume Lasconjarias, Jean-loup Samaan
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: In recent years, the issue of missile defense has become one of the most prominent features of Israel's military debate. During Operation Pillar of Defense in the Gaza Strip on November 2012, air defense systems such as Iron Dome proved crucial against rockets targeting Israeli territory. As a result, they have attracted increasing political attention. Against this backdrop, international media and policy circles now focus on Israel as the most advanced case to test the validity of missile defense. NATO, in particular, has dedicated a lot of attention to the Israeli experience in missile defense and the lessons to be drawn from it.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Karim Mezran, Mohsin Khan
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The Libyan economy collapsed in the wake of the popular uprising in February 2011 that led to the overthrow of the Muammar Qaddafi regime later that year. As the war raged, virtually all economic activity, especially oil production (the mainstay of the Libyan economy) witnessed a dramatic decline. While there was some recovery in 2012 when the war ended and oil production came back faster than expected, the economy has not yet reached a point of sustained, longer term economic growth. In fact, by 2013, the economy has only just got back to what it was prior to the uprising.
  • Topic: Economics, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya
  • Author: Faysal Itani
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Although it appears Jordan has survived the Arab uprisings thus far, all is not well in the Hashemite Kingdom. Over the past twenty years, its political economy has changed profoundly, putting pressure on the foundations of regime stability. The state in Jordan has been retreating from many citizens' economic lives, shrinking its circle of privilege and patronage, and leaving the population to fend for itself in a dysfunctional economy. Worryingly, the segment of the population most affected is the monarchy's base, which sees the Palestinian-Jordanian population as benefiting from the new status quo. Today, Jordan is also coping with hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, many of whom may remain in the country long term. Yet the real danger to the monarchy's stability is not the immediate cost of refugee care but the alienation of its traditional power base.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia, Jordan
  • Author: Richard LeBaron
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Tension between the United States and its partners in the Gulf flared up visibly in the last several months, notably with Saudi Arabia's public displays of displeasure with the US approach to the Syria conflict, nervousness about an interim nuclear deal with Iran, and sharp differences over Egypt. Gulf distrust of US intentions and actions is nothing new, and is in no small part rooted in the Gulf states' deep frustration with how the United States executed the war in Iraq, which they perceive as placing Iraq under Iran's sphere of influence. But these latest tensions also point to a fundamental gap in expectations about the US role in the region and its commitment to security for the Gulf states.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt
  • Author: Barbara Slavin, Fatemah Aman
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: When compared to its often rocky relations with Arab countries to the west, the Islamic Republic of Iran has managed to retain largely cordial ties with its neighbors to the east. Historic linguistic, religious, and cultural connections have helped Iran keep its influence in South Asia and become a key trading partner despite US-led sanctions. Because of its strategic location on the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea, Iran provides India with access to Afghanistan and Central Asia that does not require transit through Pakistan. However, Iran and its neighbors, including Pakistan, face acute challenges such as scarce and poorly managed water resources, ethnic insurgencies, energy imbalances, and drug trafficking that require regional solutions.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Iran, South Asia, Central Asia, Middle East, Arabia, North America, Persia
  • Author: Jeffrey Mankoff, Müjge Küçükkeleş
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Growing disorder throughout the Middle East has created the possibility for major changes to the status of Kurdish minorities in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Turkey's handling of its Kurdish population and its relations with Kurdish groups throughout the region are creating new challenges for US foreign policy and US-Turkish relations. US policy toward the Kurds remains subordinate to wider regional security interests. Officially, the United States does not support the establishment of an independent Kurdish state. In practice, however, US policy is often inconsistent: the United States backs Kurdish groups in some states while opposing them in others.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Ethnic Government, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, North America, Kurdistan
  • Author: Michele Dunne
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: With Egypt in the midst of a political transition, this is a crucial time to rethink the US's relationship with Egypt, argues Atlantic Council Director of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East Michele Dunne in this policy brief for the Project on Middle East Democracy.
  • Topic: Democratization, Diplomacy, Economics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Barry Pavel, Jeffrey Lightfoot
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The "tough love" farewell speech of former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates last June was more than a major policy speech on the state of NATO. His remarks were also highly symbolic, coming from a legendary Cold Warrior whose forty-year career had been oriented around the transatlantic relationship. Secretary Gates used his final appearance at the bully pulpit not only to warn Europeans that declining defense budgets risked undermining the credibility of the Alliance among US policymakers, but also that a new wave of American decision-makers would not necessarily share his generation's knowledge of, concern for, or sentimental attachment to the transatlantic alliance.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, International Cooperation, International Security
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Europe, Middle East, North America
  • Author: Mara Revkin, Yussef Auf
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: All eyes are on the ballot box as Egypt prepares for the second round of the first post-Mubarak presidential election on June 16-17, a controversial run-off between the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP, the party founded by the Muslim Brotherhood) candidate Mohamed Morsi and Hosni Mubarak's former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik, two of the most polarizing candidates in the race who together won only 49 percent of the votes cast in the first stage of polling on May 23-24. Egyptians are now faced with a choice between Islamists—who already hold a parliamentary majority and now stand to gain control of two out of the three branches of government—and a symbol of the former regime and military establishment.
  • Topic: Democratization, Human Rights, Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Mohsin Khan, Svetlana Milbert
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The Arab Spring that swept the Middle East last year dramatically altered the political landscape of the region for the better with the overthrow of autocratic regimes. But it also generated considerable uncertainty over the future of economic policies and economic reforms in the Arab world. Will the political transition triggered by the Arab Spring lead to a continuation of the market-oriented economic reforms that most Arab countries had embarked upon over the past two decades, or will more populist regimes emerge that will undo these reforms and adopt economic policies that cater primarily to the immediate demands of the restive public?
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Barbara Slavin
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Over the past three decades, the Islamic Republic of Iran has shown remarkable endurance. It has survived an eight-year war with Iraq, mounting economic sanctions, and serious domestic unrest. It has benefited from the missteps of adversaries, which have created opportunities for Iran to expand ties to militant movements in Iraq, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories, and to increase its influence in Afghanistan. Recent uprisings against Arab governments long allied with Washington have encouraged the Iranian government to portray itself as the fulcrum of a "new" anti-Western Middle East.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, Palestine, Lebanon
  • Author: Barbara Slavin
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: For a country that has been accumulating nuclear know-how since the Eisenhower administration, Iran has hardly been sprinting toward a bomb. Indeed, repeated prognostications that Tehran was on the verge of becoming a nuclear power have a Chicken Little quality: The sky did not fall over the past decade, and it seems unlikely to do so for the next year or two or three. Still, Iran has made steady progress accumulating the elements and expertise required to make nuclear weapons, and it would be naive and irresponsible to discount what appears to be a cottage industry of piecemeal proliferation.
  • Topic: Security, Intelligence, Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Barbara Slavin
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Sanctions and China's growing economic clout have altered Iran's trading patterns in ways that are reducing Iran's access to hard currency but may also be insulating the Iranian government and political elite from further US unilateral pressures.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Bilateral Relations, Sanctions, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: China, Iran, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Michele Dunne
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: As Egypt prepares to hold its first post-Tahrir elections, the transitional military government is trying to turn de facto influence into de jure powers written into the new constitution, such as freedom from civilian control over senior appointments and budgetary oversight. While most political parties have agreed not to challenge the extensive influence and economic perquisites of the military for now—understanding that full civilian oversight might take years to achieve—allowing the military to formalize such powers would create enormous new obstacles to eventual democratization. Egypt is now in danger of producing a post-revolutionary system similar to that of Pakistan, where elected civilian institutions are relatively powerless while unelected and unaccountable military and intelligence services actually run the country, fanning the flames of sectarianism and terrorism.
  • Topic: Democratization, Terrorism, Sectarianism, Political Power Sharing
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Middle East
  • Author: Danya Greenfield
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: While ownership of the transition belongs to those who initiated and drove the uprisings in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, the West has a great stake in the outcome. A failure of these revolutions would likely lead to a rise in radicalism across the Arab world, increased threats to the security and stability of the Mediterranean region, potential disruption in energy flows to Europe and beyond, and enhanced pressures on migration to Europe, both legal and illegal.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Libya, North America, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Barbara Slavin
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Seventeen months after disputed presidential elections, the Iranian government has forced opposition protestors off the streets but continues to face an unprecedented crisis of legitimacy that is undermining its capacity to implement effective domestic and foreign policies.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Jones James
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Retired Marine General James Jones, Chairman of the Atlantic Council, chaired the Committee that produced this report assessing Iraq's national police force. The report's overall assessment said "the Iraqi armed forces - Army, Special Forces, Navy, and Air Force - are increasingly effective and are capable of assuming greater responsibility for the internal security of Iraq; and the Iraqi police are improving, but not at a rate sufficient to meet their essential security responsibilities. The Iraqi Security Forces will continue to rely on the Coalition to provide key enablers such as combat support (logistics, supply chain management, and maintenance), and training. The Commission assesses that in the next 12 to 18 months there will be continued improvement in their readiness and capability, but not the ability to operate independently. Evidence indicates that the ISF will not be able to progress enough in the near term to secure Iraqi borders against conventional military and external threats."
  • Topic: Security, War, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Ronald Bruce St. Jon
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: On the evening of December 19, 2003, the Libyan Foreign Ministry issued a statement, the product of nine months of tough negotiations with the United Kingdom and United States, renouncing weapons of mass destruction and related missile delivery systems. The statement said Libya had “decided, with its own free will, to get rid of these substances, equipment and programmes and to be free from all internationally banned weapons.” It added Libya intended to comply with the Missile Technology Control Regime, the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the International Atomic Energy Agency (iaea) Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol, and international biological and chemical weapons agreements and treaties. It pledged to “take these measures in a transparent way that could be proved, including accepting immediate international inspection.” Soon after the issuance of this statement, Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi publicly endorsed the move, terming it a “wise decision and a courageous step.”
  • Topic: International Relations, Security
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Middle East, Libya, North Africa
  • Author: Geoffrey Kemp, Bruce Stokes, William Drozdiak, Flynt L. Leverett, Christopher J. Makins, Christopher Caldwell
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Europeans and Americans view the Middle East through historical lenses of different hues. Their different experiences of the region and differing priorities and interests greatly contributed to the transatlantic rift over the war in Iraq and other issues in 2003. During 2004, however, there have been some more hopeful signs of potential transatlantic rapprochement over the broader Middle East. The prospective advantages of closer U.S.-European cooperation on the Middle East remain enormous. With a new U.S. administration due to take office in January 2005, it is timely to review the prospects for such cooperation.
  • Topic: International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East
  • Author: Richard Murphy
  • Publication Date: 02-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Winning the peace in Iraq – assuming the current regime will be displaced by war or by other means – will require successful management of several challenges. Chief among these is building the necessary consensus on a common vision for the future of Iraq. In this connection, three interrelated issues merit the highest priority attention: power sharing arrangements, Iraq's economy and oil sector, and regional stability.
  • Topic: Peace Studies, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Geoffrey Kemp, James Steinberg, Christopher J. Makins, Rita Hauser, J. Robinson West, Marc C. Ginsburg, Craig Kennedy
  • Publication Date: 09-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The current transatlantic relationship as it concerns the Middle East can only be understood in a broader context. The History of U.S.-European Relations on the Middle East. The affairs of the Middle East have been uniquely contentious between the principal European countries and the United States for over 50 years. This has derived primarily from differing approaches to the Arab-Israel problem. The 1990s were an unusual and short-lived interlude in this hi story of differences. The recent emergence of the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union and a growing awareness of a broader common European interest in the region based on history, proximity, trade, migration and the changing role of Islam, have prompted the European Union to engage increasingly in the region and to seek a position as a true partner for the United States and not just as 'a wallet.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East
  • Author: C. Richard Nelson, David H. Saltiel
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Any government in Tehran will be inclined to seek weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and missile delivery options given the realities of its strategic environment. These weapons might help Iran to deter potential external threats, to achieve equality with other major regional powers armed with WMD, and to attain self-reliance in national security, given the isolating experience of arms embargoes. A more pluralist leadership in the future, however, may examine broader choices and trade-offs, and perhaps be less likely to cross key thresholds in WMD acquisition. In any event, Iran's WMD behavior is likely to be determined by both external factors, mainly the availability of crucial components, and internal factors, including calculations of costs, risks, and benefits. Among the benefits, psychological factors, such as prestige, will play an important role. Other important factors that might well shape Iran's WMD behavior include developments in Iraq, relations with the United States and other Gulf states, Israeli-Palestinian relations and the future price of oil.
  • Topic: Security, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Brent Scowcroft, C. Richard Nelson, Lee H. Hamilton, James Shlesinger
  • Publication Date: 05-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The current stalemate between the United States and Iran, while emotionally satisfying to many Americans, does not serve overall U.S. interests well. It hinders the achievement of several key U.S. geopolitical interests, especially over the longer term. These interests include, but are not limited to, regional stability, energy security, and the broader and evolving geopolitical relationships between the United States and China and Russia in the Persian Gulf and Caspian basin. Furthermore, the leading industrial countries are moving to improve relations with Iran.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Middle East
  • Author: Roger Kirk, Jack M. Seymour Jr., John Lampe, Louis Sell
  • Publication Date: 06-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Basic Factors Underlying a Regional Settlement 1. Any overall settlement in the Balkans should be area-wide and coordinated among the entities directly involved, the neighboring states, the key nations of the outside community, and the relevant political and economic international institutions. 2. It will have to include political arrangements, international security guarantees, and substantial economic assistance as a basis for genuine peace and reconciliation. 3. It must embrace generally accepted international standards, including respect for human rights and rights for ethnic minorities; right of return for all area refugees; rule of law; effective media freedom; and free elections supervised or, where necessary, organized by the international community. 4. The settlement should promote and institutionalize political and economic cooperation, regional trade and/or formal ties among the participating states and entities of the former Yugoslavia, and neighboring states as feasible, including the free flow of goods, labor and capital. 5. International assistance in reconstruction, economic reform and development of economic ties among the peoples of the region and with the European Community must be massive. It should, however, be designed to promote democratic institutions, market reform, adherence to peace agreements, and respect for human rights. 6. Such assistance should target the private sector, encourage local initiatives, and help governments pursue effective economic reform policies. It should seek to curtail corruption and the maintenance of unprofitable state industries. It should avoid encouraging international dependency. The purpose should be to build societies and practices conducive to self-reliance, international cooperation, and outside investment. Positive and negative lessons can be drawn from experiences in Bosnia. 7. The support of the broad population of Serbia will be necessary if peaceful and economically viable regional arrangements are to last. The reconstruction process implied in these arrangements will itself be an incentive for the Serbs to opt away from destructive nationalist policies and join in the regional reconstruction process. 8. Neither lasting peace in the Balkans nor democracy in Serbia can be achieved as long as Slobodan Milosevic remains in power. He has been indicted by the Tribunal in The Hague for crimes against humanity and his removal from power is a prime NATO objective. There are increasing and encouraging signs of popular Serb desire to be rid of Milosevic, but it is not certain that he will depart in the near future. 9. A regional settlement may have to be negotiated indirectly with, or imposed upon, Milosevic as the ruler of Serbia. It should nevertheless be made clear that the West condemns Milosevic\'s actions, that Serbia cannot resume its rightful place in Europe as long as it is governed by indicted war criminals, and that the West will help the people of Serbia in their efforts to bring forth new, democratic, cosmopolitan leadership in their country. 10. The Kosovar Albanians cannot be expected to live under Serbian control again for the foreseeable future. Arrangements short of formal independence such as an international protectorate or trusteeship are possible, indeed likely, for a transitional period. A more permanent and self-sustaining arrangement is highly desirable if it can be achieved without creating more instability in the former Yugoslav space and the neighboring area. 11. A credible international military presence is needed to encourage the return of the remaining Albanian-Kosovars, the continued residence of Serb-Kosovars and to maintain peace and order within Kosovo and on its borders. Such a presence will also be a lasting part of any transitional arrangement. Any foreseeable regional settlement will similarly require a prolonged foreign military presence. This settlement should, however, lay the foundation for an end to that presence by, among other things, providing for supervised demilitarization of the states and entities involved, and a comprehensive regional arms control agreement. 12. A central objective of any regional settlement should be to promote conditions that will encourage a stable political and military environment, economic growth, and increasing self-reliance. These changes will permit an end to the foreign military, political, and economic presence in the region, though no date for that termination should be set.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Kosovo, Balkans