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  • Author: Frank Gorenc
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: As the world enters an era of great-power competition, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) faces a renewed challenge from an old adversary. A Europe whole, free, and at peace is now at risk as Russian aggression challenges the traditional rules-based world order. Russia’s activities in and against Ukraine and Georgia, rampant intrusion on Western democratic processes and political discourse, blatant assassination attempts on NATO soil, support for rogue regimes in Syria and Iran, and military deployments and force accumulation in Kaliningrad and Crimea, as well as in the Sea of Azov, demonstrate that the threat is as real and compelling as it ever was.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Democracy, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Magnus Nordenman
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The global and European security environments have changed drastically in just a few years. The world is entering a new era of great power competition, which will play out alongside continued political instability and weakening states in key regions of the world. This has profound implications for the United States and its friends, allies, and partners including those in Europe. Bilateral US defense and security relationships must be examined and evolved in order to be relevant for a new era. One example of this is the US-Denmark defense and security relationship
  • Topic: International Affairs, Global Security
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: David Koranyi
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: As energy markets and technologies rapidly change, international oil companies (IOCs) are facing a set of interconnected challenges that will fundamentally affect their business models. From changes in the supply and demand picture, to shifts in how energy is produced and consumed, to public pressure to decrease greenhouse gas footprints, companies have a wide range of issues to consider as they decide how to prepare for an unpredictable future. In a new issue brief, “Navigating the Energy Transition: International Oil Company Diversification Strategies,” Global Energy Center Senior Fellow David Koranyi provides a macro picture of select IOC’s strategic (re)thinking and explores some of the strategies IOCs have undertaken to diversify their portfolios and prepare for the unfolding energy transition.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Tatiana Mitrova
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The fate of the “Russian Energy Strategy Up to 2035” paper—a key document defining the country`s strategic priorities in this critically important industry and submitted by Russia’s Energy Ministry every five years—illustrates well the contradictory predicament of Russia’s energy sector. In 2015, after two years of preparations, the latest version was submitted to the government, but national authorities have not approved it until now. Behind the scenes, many conflicting interests prevent the setting of a clear and coherent long-term vision.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Borzou Daragahi
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: For much of its four decades, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been blessed with a weak political opposition. While Iran has faced competent and powerful foreign enemies—such as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the United States, and Israel—its Iranian political challengers, both domestically and abroad, have been largely fragmented, unrealistic in their aims, and sometimes as authoritarian as the regime. But, though few credible Iran watchers argue that opposition groups and figures arrayed against Tehran’s establishment pose a serious threat, Iran treats them as if they are mortal dangers to the regime. This paper attempts to sketch out the landscape of the various major political opposition groups, and begin to grapple with the question of why Iran perceives them as such a challenge
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Gaiane Safarova
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Like every country, Russia has a very specific demographic footprint; its fertility, mortality, and migration rates, as well as its age composition, all affect its performance domestically and on the world stage. Russia’s current demographics were shaped by its history, particularly crises like World War II, and its future will be deeply affected by conditions like its dropping fertility rate and aging population
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: T. X. Hammes
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Perhaps the most famous quote from Thucydides is “the strong do what they can, the weak suffer what they must.”1 For thousands of years, it has been accepted that the weak must comply or face the fate of the Melians. Today, the technology of the Fourth Industrial Revolution may be revising that truth. It is creating a wide range of small, smart, cheap weapons that can provide small states combat power previously reserved to major powers
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Richard L. Morningstar
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: This brief emerged from discussions during an Atlantic Council Global Energy Center roundtable on European energy security held in Brussels on March 27, 2019, as well as other events and individual meetings with government officials, private sector executives, and leading academics in the global energy sector. The collective dialogues and key takeaways are reflected in this brief. Because the conversations took place under the Chatham House Rule, the information will not be attributed to any specific individual. The brief will provide a current assessment of EU energy security focusing on the role of gas markets, while future briefs in the European Energy Security series will take a closer look at other critical issues impacting European energy security. Following these briefs, a final report in 2020 will propose specific recommendations for the US and EU governments on how to address transatlantic energy security issues.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mark Katz
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: uring the Cold War, the Soviet Union posed a challenge to the United States throughout the entire world, including in the Middle East. Soviet activity in the Middle East, though, was also a challenge for many US allies in the region, and beyond. Soviet influence in the Middle East expanded during the 1950s and 1960s, in particular, as many in the Arab world became angry about US support for Israel, and as several pro-Western Arab governments were overthrown and replaced by anti-Western ones that actively sought Soviet support. Due to several factors, however, many of the gains made by the Soviets in the Middle East ended up being lost. These included: the defection of Gamal Abdel Nasser’s successor in Egypt, Anwar Sadat, from the Soviet to the US camp; Washington’s successful 1970s-era diplomacy in bringing about an Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement; genuine fear of the Soviet threat on the part of Saudi Arabia and other Arab monarchies; the 1979 Iranian Revolution, in which the downfall of a pro-Western regime did not lead to the rise of a pro-Soviet one, but to the rise of one that was both anti-American and anti-Soviet; and, finally, the collapse of both communism and the Soviet Union itself from 1989 to 1991
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Borzou Daragahi
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: For much of its four decades, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been blessed with a weak political opposition. While Iran has faced competent and powerful foreign enemies—such as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the United States, and Israel—its Iranian political challengers, both domestically and abroad, have been largely fragmented, unrealistic in their aims, and sometimes as authoritarian as the regime. But, though few credible Iran watchers argue that opposition groups and figures arrayed against Tehran’s establishment pose a serious threat, Iran treats them as if they are mortal dangers to the regime. This paper attempts to sketch out the landscape of the various major political opposition groups, and begin to grapple with the question of why Iran perceives them as such a challenge.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Frank Gorenc
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: As the world enters an era of great-power competition, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) faces a renewed challenge from an old adversary. A Europe whole, free, and at peace is now at risk as Russian aggression challenges the traditional rules-based world order. Russia’s activities in and against Ukraine and Georgia, rampant intrusion on Western democratic processes and political discourse, blatant assassination attempts on NATO soil, support for rogue regimes in Syria and Iran, and military deployments and force accumulation in Kaliningrad and Crimea, as well as in the Sea of Azov, demonstrate that the threat is as real and compelling as it ever was
  • Topic: International Organization, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Magnus Nordenman
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The global and European security environments have changed drastically in just a few years. The world is entering a new era of great power competition, which will play out alongside continued political instability and weakening states in key regions of the world. This has profound implications for the United States and its friends, allies, and partners including those in Europe. Bilateral US defense and security relationships must be examined and evolved in order to be relevant for a new era. One example of this is the US-Denmark defense and security relationship
  • Topic: International Relations, International Organization, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: David Koranyi
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: As energy markets and technologies rapidly change, international oil companies (IOCs) are facing a set of interconnected challenges that will fundamentally affect their business models. From changes in the supply and demand picture, to shifts in how energy is produced and consumed, to public pressure to decrease greenhouse gas footprints, companies have a wide range of issues to consider as they decide how to prepare for an unpredictable future. In a new issue brief, “Navigating the Energy Transition: International Oil Company Diversification Strategies,” Global Energy Center Senior Fellow David Koranyi provides a macro picture of select IOC’s strategic (re)thinking and explores some of the strategies IOCs have undertaken to diversify their portfolios and prepare for the unfolding energy transition.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Philip Breedlove, Alexander Vershbow
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: North Central Europe has become the central point of confrontation between the West and a revisionist Russia. Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia is determined to roll back the post-Cold War settlement and undermine the rules-based order that has kept Europe secure since the end of World War II. Moscow’s invasion and continued occupation of Georgian and Ukrainian territories, its military build-up in Russia’s Western Military District and Kaliningrad, and its “hybrid” warfare against Western societies have heightened instability in the region have made collective defense and deterrence an urgent mission for the United States and NATO
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s persistent efforts to influence the domestic politics of his neighbors and countries well beyond Russia’s borders have posed enormous challenges in Europe and across the Atlantic. More than any other country, Ukraine has been the unwanted recipient of Moscow’s attention, particularly during the past five years. The Kremlin has sought to place a pliable client in command in Kyiv and block Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations, including by pressuring the previous Ukrainian leadership against signing. The March 2019 presidential election will be a pivotal event in Ukraine’s history
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs, Elections
  • Political Geography: Ukraine
  • Author: Philip Breedlove
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: In September 2018, the Atlantic Council established a Task Force on US Force Posture in Europe to assess the adequacy of current US deployments, with a focus on North Central Europe. The Task Force is co-chaired by General Philip Breedlove, former supreme allied commander Europe, and Ambassador Alexander Vershbow, former NATO deputy secretary general. A full report will be completed in January 2019. This paper is a summary of the task force’s conclusions and recommendations.
  • Topic: International Organization, International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Samantha Sultoon
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Economic sanctions have become a policy tool-of-choice for the US government. Yet sanctions and their potential pitfalls are often misunderstood. The Economic Sanctions Initiative (ESI) seeks to build a better understanding of the role sanctions can and cannot play in advancing policy objectives and of the impact of sanctions on the private sector, which bears many of the implementation costs.
  • Topic: Human Rights, International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • 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
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The postponement of parliamentary elections in Egypt, scheduled for March 2015, marked a setback in the country's democratic political process. Electoral politics are effectively on hold. Meanwhile, Muslim Brotherhood supporters have adopted a violent confrontational strategy toward the state, secular opposition parties are increasingly ineffectual, and voter fatigue remains a serious dilemma. In "To Vote or Not to Vote: Examining the Disenfranchised in Egypt's Political Landscape," the Atlantic Council's Sarah El Sirgany assesses the electoral environment in Egypt. She examines voter apathy, particularly the sort fueled by marginalization and disenfranchisement, and explains the deterioration of the Islamists' electoral gains and the rising trend within the Muslim Brotherhood of eschewing electoral participation in favor of violent confrontation. She also outlines the challenges that secular parties face.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Self Determination, Elections
  • Political Geography: Egypt
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Ukraine's economy is flagging. But a Ukrainian economy, integrated with the rest of Europe and by extension, the world economy, is essential for the country's political stability and its ability to withstand Russian aggression. While the international community is yet to develop a large-scale macro-economic assistance program on the order of the Marshall Plan, the US government can utilize existing programming through its development agencies to provide an immediate positive jolt to the private sector economy in Ukraine.
  • Topic: Economics, Self Determination
  • Political Geography: Ukraine
  • Author: Hon. James Cunningham
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: It is the core purpose of the Atlantic Council to foster bipartisan support for policies that promote the security of the United States and the transatlantic community. The signatories of this piece have either served in Afghanistan, been involved in the formation of US policy in government, or otherwise devoted considerable time to Afghan affairs. They have come together to register a broad, bipartisan consensus in support of certain principles that they believe should guide policy formation and decision-making on Afghanistan during the remainder of the Obama administration and the first year of a new administration, of whichever party. It is critical that the current administration prepare the path for the next. A new president will come into office facing a wave of instability in the Islamic world and the threat from violent extremism, which stretches from Asia through the Middle East to Africa. This will continue to pose a considerable challenge and danger to American interests abroad, and to the homeland. The signatories support the continued US engagement required to protect American interests and increase the possibilities for Afghan success.
  • Author: Jean-Francois Seznec
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Despite the sectarian barbs traded between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Iran's unique ability to meet the kingdom's fast growing demand for electricity may help spur a reconciliation, according to the Atlantic Council's Jean-François Seznec. In his report Crude Oil for Natural Gas: Prospects for Iran-Saudi Reconciliation, Seznec argues that the two dominant energy producers do not necessarily need to see their energy production as competition. Saudi Arabia's currently fuels its stunning 8 percent annual rise in demand for electricity with precious crude oil due to little low cost domestic natural dry gas reserves. Iran's vast gas reserves could be used to meet the kingdom's growing needs, but after decades of punishing sanctions its dilapidated gas fields need an estimated $250 billion in repairs. If Saudi Arabia used its investment power or buying power to help revitalize Iran's gas industry, it would both secure the energy it needs to meet its citizens' demands and free up its crude oil for export. While the sectarian rhetoric hurled back and forth may seem unstoppable and the timeline for reconciliation may be long, Seznec contends that both sides are rational at heart and highlights that that the benefit of economic cooperation on energy issues could open up better relations on a range of issues.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Oil, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: Iran, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Mohsin Khan, Karim Merzan
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, a civil society group comprising the Tunisian General Labor Union; the Tunisian Union of Industry, Trade, and Handicrafts; the Tunisian Human Rights League; and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, October 9, 2015 "for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia." In a new Atlantic Council Issue Brief, "Tunisia: The Last Arab Spring Country," Atlantic Council Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East Senior Fellows Mohsin Khan and Karim Mezran survey the successes of Tunisia's consensus-based transition and the challenges that lie ahead. "The decision to award this year's Nobel Peace Prize to Tunisia's National Dialogue Quartet is an extremely important recognition of the efforts made by Tunisian civil society and Tunisia's political elite to reach a consensus on keeping the country firmly on the path to democratization and transition to a pluralist system," says Mezran. With the overthrow of the authoritarian regime of President Zine El Abedine Ben Ali in 2011, Tunisia embarked on a process of democratization widely regarded as an example for transitions in the region. The National Dialogue Conference facilitated by the Quartet helped Tunisia avert the risk of plunging into civil war and paved the way for a consensus agreement on Tunisia's new constitution, adopted in January 2014. In the brief, the authors warn that despite political successes, Tunisia is hampered by the absence of economic reforms. Facing the loss of tourism and investment following two terror attacks, Tunisia's economy risks collapse, endangering all of the painstaking political progress gained thus far. Unless the Tunisian government moves rapidly to turn the economy around, Tunisia risks unraveling its fragile transition.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Economics, Political Activism, Reform
  • Political Geography: Arab Countries, Tunisia
  • Author: Peter Engelke
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: In the latest FutureScape issue brief from the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security's Strategic Foresight Initiative, author Peter Engelke discusses the long-term economic, environmental, and policy implications of urbanization. Entitled "Foreign Policy for an Urban World: Global Governance and the Rise of Cities," the brief examines how urbanization is hastening the global diffusion of power and how cities themselves are increasingly important nodes of power in global politics.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Urbanization
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Bilal Y. Saab, Barry Pavel
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: President Barack Obama's summit meeting with Gulf leaders at Camp David on May 14 will end in failure if the administration does not propose a substantial upgrade in US-Gulf security relations that is as bold and strategically significant as the nuclear agreement–and likely formal deal–with Iran. While the summit will not suddenly eliminate mistrust and resolve all differences, it presents an historic opportunity to put back on track a decades-old US-Gulf partnership that has served both sides and the region well, yet lately has experienced deep turbulence. Failure to strengthen these ties will have consequences, the most dramatic of which could be the acceleration of the regional order's collapse. In a March 2015 Atlantic Council report entitled Artful Balance: Future US Defense Strategy and Force Posture in the Gulf, we made the case for a mutual defense treaty between the United States and willing Arab Gulf partners. In this issue in focus, we offer a more comprehensive and detailed assessment of the risks, concerns, benefits, and opportunities that would be inherent in such a treaty. We recommend a gradualist approach for significantly upgrading US-Gulf security relations that effectively reduces the risks and maximizes the benefits of more formal US security commitments to willing Arab Gulf states.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Iran, Persian Gulf
  • Author: Olan Bilen, Mike Duane, Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Ilona Sologoub
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Since the Maidan revolution, the Ukrainian government has embarked on a comprehensive reform agenda. But almost two years since the revolution, reforms are still lacking in core areas. The most prominent achievements are the establishment of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau to fight high-level corruption, the introduction of a new police force in the cities of Kyiv, Odesa, and Lviv, the reform of the banking system, and the restructuring of the natural gas sector. However, there were few attempts to reform the civil service and businesses continue to claim that middle-and low-level employees at tax and customs agencies remain corrupt. The authors of "Ukraine: From Evolutionary to Revolutionary Reforms" warn that, if the Ukrainian government does not follow through with an ambitious reform agenda, public support for reforms will wane while dissatisfaction will increase, threatening political stability and the country's successful future. There is no time for slow evolutionary changes. Radical and revolutionary reforms are the only way to success.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Civil Society, Reform
  • Political Geography: Ukraine
  • Author: Mark Seip
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The United States and the Nordic states enjoy a strong, productive relationship. However, stability in the Nordic-Baltic area is under increasing stress, which has implications for both NATO and its partner members, Finland and Sweden. In "Nordic-Baltic Security and the US Role," the Atlantic Council's US Navy Senior Fellow Mark Seip argues that the United States must prioritize bolstering assurance among NATO members, principally the Baltic states. Additionally, the United States and NATO should enhance its capabilities through collaboration, leverage soft power instruments, and find mutuality between NATO and its key partners, Finland and Sweden. In doing so, the United States and the Nordic nations stand to solidify the gains of the thriving region and strengthen European security.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Politics
  • Political Geography: Nordic Nations
  • Author: Faysal Itani
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Since August 2014, the US-led air campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has successfully inflicted casualties on ISIS and weakened its oil revenues. However, the same efforts have also accelerated the rise of the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate, and the near-collapse of nationalist rebel forces. In "Defeating the Jihadists in Syria: Competition before Confrontation," Faysal Itani of the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East details the unintended consequences of the coalition air campaign and proposes a revised US strategy. He argues that the United States can effectively assist nationalist insurgents to defeat ISIS and the Nusra Front by enabling them to compete with and contain these groups before ultimately confronting them. Itani writes that the US-led campaign thus far and the train-and-equip initiative set to begin next month undermine and weaken nationalist rebel forces. He criticizes these efforts for failing to provide sufficient support to the rebel forces, while directing them to target ISIS instead of the regime. Meanwhile, the Nusra Front and other jihadist organizations have greater resources and have been effective in targeting the Assad regime. As such, nationalist rebel forces and local populations have increasingly aligned with the Nusra Front and even tolerate ISIS in order to protect themselves against regime violence, criminality, and chaos. Itani's proposed US strategy offers a practical and workable response to the rise of jihadists groups in Syria; this revised strategy seeks to support rebel forces to compete with the Nusra Front for popular support and to take control of the insurgency, contain ISIS, and build capacity for an eventual offensive against the jihadists. This approach will build on positive results in southern Syria by significantly increasing direct financial and material support and training for vetted nationalist groups that have already shown significant success. Simultaneously, in the north the campaign can provide sufficient material support to nationalist forces while expanding coalition air strikes to target ISIS's frontlines, allowing the nationalist insurgency to defend and govern territory. Only once nationalist insurgent forces have successfully competed with the Nusra Front and contained ISIS can they confront and ultimately defeat the jihadist groups in Syria.
  • Topic: Politics, Terrorism, International Security
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Syria
  • 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: Robert A. Manning
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The eyes of the world are on the United Nations Climate Conference, also known as COP21. Leaders from around the world are gathered in Paris in an effort to combat the effects of climate change. One of the best chances we have to mitigate these harmful effects are renewable technologies.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Industrial Policy, International Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Alan Riley
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Germany may be seeking to expedite the construction of Russia's Nordstream 2 pipeline by shielding the controversial project from tough the laws of the European Union (EU), according to a transcript of talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Energy Minster Sigmar Gabriel, Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Alan Riley writes in "Nordstream 2: Too Many Obstacles, Legal, Economic, and Political to Be Delivered?".
  • Topic: Energy Policy, International Law, International Trade and Finance, Natural Resources, European Union
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Franklin D. Kramer, Melanie J. Teplinsky
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Cyber has become the new conflict arena. It ranks as one of the greatest national security challenges facing the United States for three reasons. First, as the revelations about the National Security Agency's (NSA's) activities suggest, cyber offense has far outpaced cyber defense. Second, cyber capabilities are prevalent worldwide and increasingly are being used to achieve the strategic goals of nations and actors adverse to the United States. Third, it is highly unlikely that cyber espionage and other cyber intrusions will soon cease. While the NSA disclosures focus on the United States and the United Kingdom, there is little doubt that China, Russia, Iran, North Korea and others are engaged in significant cyber activities. The fundamental question is whether the cyber realm can, consistent with the national interest, be made more stable and secure.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Science and Technology, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, United Kingdom, Iran, North Korea
  • 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: Duncan Pickard, Karim Mezran
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Among the many problems facing Libya's troubled transition to democracy is the challenge of constructing a state in a country with a legacy of weak institutions. Muammar al-Qaddafi's brutal forty-two-year dictatorship employed a policy of de-institutionalization, leaving the presence of the state feeble throughout the country. Those organs that were powerful, including the secret security apparatus, lost their leader with Qaddafi's fall in 2011, leaving a power vacuum that nonstate actors have scrambled to fill. Some of the most influential political groups in Libya today are militias formed during and after the revolution. Although some are loosely affiliated with the ministries of interior or defense, most, if not all, do not demonstrate any particular loyalty to the government. Militias have kidnapped the prime minister (the militia responsible called it an “arrest”), assassinated judges and police officers, physically occupied the office of the justice minister, and engaged in an urban battle in Tripoli. They also seek to advance their political interests—which vary, but include influence over officials, rent seeking, and some Islamist agendas—with threats against ministries or officials. And yet the state relies on militias to provide essential security services such as running checkpoints and protecting the airport because no ministry force is up to the task. The ascendancy of these militias points to two troubling realities: the state lacks a monopoly over the use of force and the country faces an ongoing deterioration of the rule of law.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Reform
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa
  • 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: 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: James Hasik, Byron Callan
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Just what makes a military technology disruptive? How does one know who will disrupt, and who will be disrupted? How can we aim to develop disruptive technologies, and how can we spot them before others use them to disrupt our security? Recent studies suggest that five factors matter most in developing those technologies into real military capabilities: financial resources, industrial readiness, systems integration, cultural receptivity, and organizational capacity. Prototyping and field experimentation leverage all these factors, and help make the potentially disruptive ultimately decisive in war.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Science and Technology, Military Strategy, Governance
  • 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: Valerie Stocker
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The fall of Muammar Qaddafi's regime in 2011 after four decades of authoritarian rule gave rise to numerous armed groups competing for territory and influence. More than three years since the uprising began, persistent instability threatens not only Libya's fragile democratic transition but also security in North Africa and the Sahel zone. Tripoli is at the center of a power struggle among competing political factions. Benghazi is the scene of ever more brutal political violence, which now risks drawing the country into a civil war. Then there is the southwestern province of Fezzan, Libya's "Wild West," where human trafficking and smuggling thrive and transnational jihadists hide.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Governance, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa