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  • Author: Karim Mezran, Mohamed Eljarh
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The French intellectual Jean Baudrillard once said, “It is always the same: once you are liberated, you are forced to ask who you are.” In the case of Libya, this question should have been at the center of every political initiative immediately following the collapse of Muammar Qaddafi's regime. Libya's new leadership had the opportunity to convene a national dialogue in an effort to explore questions of national identity and a new vision for a national mission. Unfortunately, the Libyan elites who emerged from the 2011 civil war did not make national dialogue a priority, opting to appease local forces—armed and political—rather than to undertake the difficult but critical task of nation-building.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa, Libya
  • 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: C. Boyden Gray
  • Publication Date: 02-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: In the aftermath of World War II, the greatest concern facing the United States and its European allies was restraining the Soviet Union and preventing the spread of communism. Cooperation on military security was paramount, and the United States and Europe rose to the challenge by creating NATO, a new type of multilateral defense agreement. Once again, the transatlantic relationship is at a new and perilous crossroads. But now it is economic, rather than military security that is at risk. Crisis grips the economies of Europe, just as the United States, mired in historic levels of unemployment in the wake of the 2008 recession, is rethinking its strategic priorities and place in the world. As before, fears mount concerning the future of liberal democracy and Western capitalism. The question is whether transatlantic cooperation will again rise to the challenge.
  • Topic: NATO, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Financial Crisis, Reform
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, 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: Laura Linderman
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Georgia experienced its first ever democratic transfer of power on October 1 when the ruling United National Movement (UNM) conceded its defeat to the opposition Georgian Dream coalition (GD). Building on this democratic success will not be easy and will require navigating an awkward cohabitation between Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili's new government and President Mikheil Saakashvili, each of whom have significant executive functions despite competing party agendas and the fact the two leaders personally dislike each other.
  • Topic: Regime Change, Bilateral Relations, Governance
  • Political Geography: United Nations
  • Author: Banning Garrett, Robert A. Manning
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: As China's National Party Congress gathered in early March to anoint Xi Jinping and the next generation of Chinese leaders, Beijing's behavior at home and abroad strongly suggested that, while they have strategic goals, they have no strategy for how to achieve them. Beijing seems unable to change course from following a development model it has outgrown and pursuing assertive, zero-sum foreign policies that are counter to its long-term interests.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Corruption, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Adnan Vatansever, David Koranyi
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Europe's energy discourse has been unjustifiably preoccupied with concerns about potential physical disruptions of Russian gas. Yet, the real challenge for European-Russian energy relations, and in fact, for European energy security, lies in settling on a price that leaves both sides content. While Europe will come under increasing pressure to acquire affordable energy resources to enhance its competitiveness, Gazprom may find it increasingly difficult to deliver gas at lower prices in the coming years.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, International Trade and Finance, Oil, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • 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: Karim Mezran, Fadel Laman, Eric Knecht
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Piecing together the nascent political picture in Libya is essential to understanding the current roadblocks to democracy. Unlike Egypt, no single party, force, or personality anchors the political scene. Unlike Tunisia, no coalition provides a gauge of the relative strength of political groups. In Libya, where parties were banned even before the reign of Muammar al-Qaddafi, post-revolution politics remain fluid, loyalties fleeting, and ideological fault lines less defined than in its North African neighbors. Nevertheless, ten months after the country's first free elections, an early snapshot of the contemporary political scene is coming into focus.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Regime Change, Reform
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa, Tunisia
  • 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: Duncan Pickard
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Tunisians are waiting for a new constitution to cement a democratic order after decades of dictatorship. The constitution-making process has dominated politics since the January 2011 revolution; what can be expected when the constitution is complete? How will presidential and parliamentary elections proceed under this new constitution, expected early next year? Although the constitution will initiate a form of legal stability, party politics and new institutional arrangements could converge to complicate decision-making and obscure consensus.
  • Topic: Democratization, Regime Change, Governance
  • Political Geography: North Africa
  • 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: Robert A. Manning, Peter Engelke
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: After the economic crisis ground global business to a halt, leaders on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean began to recognize that ensuring a stable and prosperous future would require building greater resiliency to structural risks. In the coming decades, episodic banking crises and regional economic imbalances will interrupt global growth. Robotics and computer networks will upend entire industrial sectors. Stressed global ecosystems, a changing climate, pandemics, and demographic decline will all add other risks. While no one can yet say how these risks may manifest, they will shape the future.
  • Topic: Economics, Science and Technology, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Robert A. Manning
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Six years ago, Bill Gates created a buzz in the high tech community when he published an article in Scientific American suggesting robotics was becoming the next "new thing." Entitled "A Robot in Every Home," the Microsoft cofounder's essay argued presciently that the state of robotics paralleled that of the computer industry in the 1970s when it approached a tipping point, launching the PC revolution.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Science and Technology, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Celeste Wallander
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The Obama administration's goals for arms control and security cooperation with Russia are the right ones, but they cannot be achieved as long as US-Russian strategic stability is in question. Unless leaders in both capitals confront the new requirements for strategic stability in the twenty-first century, they will fail to seize the opportunity for further arms reductions and enhanced national security.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States