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  • 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: 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: Bill Brownell, Scott Stone
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The release of the second installment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fifth Assessment Report on March 31, 2014, provoked the usual calls for urgent and immediate action in response to climate change, including in particular at the international level in the form of a new climate treaty built upon domestic regulatory regimes. Irrespective of whether these calls for action are overly strident or carefully measured, the law plays a central role. In almost any discussion, the breadth and stringency of national and sub-national regulations and the extent to which a treaty can make them “legally binding” assumes paramount importance. But this emphasis on law is misplaced, because it runs headlong into the hard reality that would confront any international climate agreement in the US Senate. And given the soaring use of coal around the world, it also draws attention and resources away from far more achievable opportunities to develop and deploy advanced coal technologies that would allow the world's most abundant, accessible, and affordable energy resource to meet critical energy needs in balance with each country's environmental, economic, and security priorities.
  • Topic: Security, Climate Change, Economics, Energy Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Franklin D. Kramer
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: As the Ukraine crisis demonstrates, in an unpredictable world, military capabilities can be a critical factor. The longstanding goals of the United States and its NATO allies have been to create a Europe whole and free, and globally to support such goals through collective defense, crisis management, and cooperative security. Ukraine raises the issue of how best to accomplish those ends. As part of the Ukraine response, there have been and will continue to be diplomatic, economic, and energy efforts. However, one key element will be to create more effective integrated capabilities that will support NATO's military tasks, and thus the values and goals that NATO represents.
  • Topic: NATO, Diplomacy, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Ukraine, North America
  • 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Karl-Heinz Kamp
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: While the withdrawal of all combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 will be welcomed in most NATO capitals, it raises stark questions for the future of the Atlantic Alliance. Can it justify its existence without a direct threat to the security of its members? Is it enough for NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to state that the Alliance has to evolve from “deployed NATO to prepared NATO,” without answering the question: prepared for what? Or will NATO have to accept that it is now less relevant, placing itself in standby mode to hibernate until it is reawakened by a new mission inside or outside Europe?
  • Topic: Defense Policy, International Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Europe, North America
  • Author: J. Peter Pham
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The links between the United States and Morocco are among the oldest of the US' diplomatic bonds. In 1777, Morocco's Sultan Mohammed III was the first foreign sovereign to recognize the independence of the thirteen former British colonies. Subsequently, the 1786 Treaty of Peace and Friendship—negotiated by Thomas Barclay and signed by Thomas Jefferson and John Adams—established diplomatic relations between the two countries. Modified in 1836 with the addition of various security and commercial protocols, the accord is still in force, making it the United States' longest unbroken treaty relationship. But as venerable as this history is, the strategic importance of Morocco to pursuing the Atlantic community's interests in the security and development of northwestern Africa has only recently become fully apparent to US policymakers and analysts. President Barack Obama's invitation to King Mohammed VI to make an official visit to the United States this year indicates the importance that both countries attach to this significant strategic relationship.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, North America, Morocco, Northwest Africa
  • 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: David Koranyi
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The fundamentals of the natural gas sectors of the United States and European Union (EU) are on divergent paths. While the US prepares for gas exports on the back of the unconventional gas revolution, Europe is facing declining indigenous production and growing dependence on imports. The Central and Southeastern Europe (CSEE) region has moved closer to integrate into the EU's internal energy market, but it remains in a vulnerable position in the short-term compared to the rest of the EU and especially the US due to the region's historic exposure to Gazprom's monopolistic abuse. A concerted US, EU, and regional effort is needed to implement a diversification strategy, where US liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports could make a real difference. In the medium and long run, the region can benefit from and play a crucial role in Europe's gas supply diversification strategy and may even succeed in adapting the US unconventional experience, contributing to a healthier energy import balance on the continent.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, Science and Technology, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, North America
  • 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: Banning Garrett, James B. Steinberg, David Ignatius, Uri Dadush
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: How will the US economy evolve over the next twenty years and what might be the impact of various US economic scenarios on the global system? Will the United States have a Japan-like decade or two of anemic growth? If so, would this lead the United States to reduce its foreign involvement and commitments, become more protectionist, and focus on its internal problems? Or will the United States solve its fiscal and debt problems, reinvigorate growth and innovation, and return to sustainable economic growth? Would this underpin a renewed commitment to active US global leadership in mobilizing international cooperation to manage security, economic growth, and global challenges?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Debt, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Hegemony
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • 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: Jason Healey
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Over the course of 2011, the United States government released a coordinated set of policies that represents the most energetic cyber statecraft in nearly a decade.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: United States, North America