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  • Author: Andrew J. Tabler
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Washington's nascent policy of "uncoordinated deconfliction" with Bashar al-Assad's regime in the fight against the "Islamic State"/ISIS may not be a formal alliance, but it does have the potential to foster serious problems. The regime's tacit agreement to avoid firing on coalition strike aircraft -- juxtaposed with long delays in the Obama administration's train-and-equip program for the Syrian opposition and the president's October 2014 letter to Iran's Supreme Leader on cooperation against ISIS -- is creating widespread perceptions that the United States is heading into a de facto alliance with Assad and Tehran regarding the jihadists. If Washington continues this policy as is, it will merely contain ISIS, not "defeat" or "destroy" the group as called for by President Obama. Worse, it could lead to a deadly extremist stalemate in Syria between Iranian-backed/Hezbollah forces and jihadists, amplifying threats to U.S. national security interests.
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Syria
  • Author: Jonathan Rynhold
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 23, Jonathan Rynhold and Elliott Abrams addressed a Policy Forum at The Washington Institute. Rynhold is a senior researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA), director of the Argov Center for the Study of Israel and the Jewish People, and author of the just-released book The Arab-Israel Conflict in American Political Culture (Cambridge University Press). Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and former deputy national security advisor in the George W. Bush administration. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Robert Rabil
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 13, Robert Rabil addressed a Policy Forum at The Washington Institute. Dr. Rabil is a professor of Middle East studies in Florida Atlantic University's Department of Political Science and the Lifelong Learning Society (LLS) Distinguished Professor of Current Events. He is the author of Salafism in Lebanon (Georgetown University Press, October 2014). The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks.
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Lebanon, Florida
  • Author: Jennifer Spence
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: In April 2015, Canada will hand the chairmanship of the Arctic Council to the United States. As the chair, the United States will have an opportunity to shape the priorities of the Arctic Council for the next two years and communicate its vision for the future of the circumpolar region. In anticipation of acquiring this leadership role, the United States first provided a sense of its vision for the chairmanship on September 30, 2014 in Washington, DC, during the Passing the Arctic Council Torch conference supported by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Centre for International Governance Innovation.
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Canada
  • Author: Ashley J. Tellis
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: China is poised to become a major strategic rival to the United States. Whether or not Beijing intends to challenge Washington's primacy, its economic boom and growing national ambitions make competition inevitable. And as China rises, American power will diminish in relative terms, threatening the foundations of the U.S.-backed global order that has engendered unprecedented prosperity worldwide. To avoid this costly outcome, Washington needs a novel strategy to balance China without containing it.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Development, Emerging Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, China, America, Washington, Beijing, Asia
  • Author: Lori Plotkin Boghardt
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Washington should use the State Department's upcoming annual "Trafficking in Persons" report to amplify international calls for strategic Persian Gulf partners to reform their expatriate labor practices.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Human Rights, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: Washington
  • Author: James F. Jeffrey
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although Washington should have no illusions about resolving the region's wider problems, it can build on early successes against ISIS by making the commitments needed to fully defeat the group in Iraq and Syria, including a modest, enduring U.S. military presence.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Washington, Syria
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Friday's meeting offers an opportunity to discuss the kingdom's domestic challenges, the proposed no-fly zone in northern Syria, and the potential ramifications of ramped-up training of Syrian opposition forces on Jordanian territory.
  • Political Geography: Washington, Syria, Jordan
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Amid electoral boycotts and continued concerns about ISIS and Iran, King Hamad has reappointed a prime minister whom Washington regards as an impediment to political progress.
  • Political Geography: Iran, Washington, Bahrain
  • Author: Patrick Clawson, Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Implementing a nuclear agreement will be no easier than reaching one, and Washington will have little influence over what Iran decides to do over time about the deal.
  • Political Geography: Iran, Washington
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As the Iran deadline approaches, violence flares up in Jerusalem, and respective election cycles ebb and flow, U.S. and Israeli officials will need to work harder than ever to manage bilateral tensions. In the coming weeks, a number of foreign and domestic developments will affect U.S. and Israeli policy, with each potentially testing the already tense bilateral relationship. One key date is November 24, the deadline for negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. President Obama has publicly said there is a "big gap" between the parties, making the prospects of a breakthrough unclear, but high-level U.S., EU, and Iranian envoys have completed two days of talks in Oman in a bid to reach such a breakthrough. If a deal is in fact made and the terms are not to Israel's liking, then the war of words with Washington may resume on this very sensitive issue.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Washington, Israel, Oman
  • Author: Stuart Eizenstat, Ruth Gavison
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: What does it mean for Israel to identify as "both Jewish and democratic?" Watch a discussion with Ruth Gavison and Stuart Eizenstat on the hotly debated political, legal, and diplomatic consequences of Israel's core self-definition. On October 31, 2014, Ruth Gavison and Stuart Eizenstat addressed a Policy Forum at The Washington Institute. Gavison is the Haim H. Cohn Professor of Human Rights Law at Hebrew University. Eizenstat co-chairs the board of directors for the Jewish People Policy Institute and has held senior positions in the White House and the Treasury, State, and Commerce Departments. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Political Geography: Washington, Israel
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The moderate rebel force currently envisioned by Washington would take far too long to arrive on the battlefield and could be easy prey for ISIS and Assad. As the Obama administration's plans for raising a moderate Syrian opposition force become clearer, its approach seems to center on a lengthy recruitment, training, and deployment program initially dedicated to defense against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). If carried out, this plan promises a long delay before significant forces are on the battlefield. It would also limit their potential effectiveness in the near to midterm and perhaps commit them to a protracted enterprise in which defeat is likely.
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Washington, Syria
  • Author: Kenneth P. Thomas
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: As I discussed in an earlier Perspective, the use of investment incentives is pervasive and growing. The most recent example of a big bidding war was when Boeing threatened to move production of its 77 7 - X aircraft out of Washington state, prompting some 20 states to offer incentive packages to the company (including $1.7 billion from Missouri). In the end, Washington gave Boeing a package of tax incentives worth a record - breaking $8.7 billion over the 2 025 – 2040 period to stay, and the unions made substantial concessions regarding pensions.
  • Political Geography: Washington
  • Author: Andrew A. Michta
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The following National Security Outlook is the eighth in AEI's Hard Power series-a project of the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies that examines the state of the defense capabilities of America's allies and security partners. In it, Andrew Michta outlines the case of Poland, which he notes is determined both to expand its indigenous defense industrial capabilities and to increase overall defense spending. As numerous accounts of NATO defense trends over the past two decades elucidate, Poland's decision to increase defense spending is far more the exception than the rule when it comes to America's other major allies. This is largely driven, according to Michta, by Poland's desire to fend as much as it can for itself in light of what it sees as Russian revanchism and Washington's growing disengagement from Europe in defense matters. Not surprisingly, this has led to a shift in Warsaw's security agenda since Poland joined NATO in 1999. Despite Poland being one NATO ally that has responded positively to Washington's calls for increasing defense capacities, today Warsaw increasingly feels compelled to look to its own resources and to neighboring capitals as potential security partners. Whether this drift in transatlantic ties is permanent or inevitable remains an open question, and will to a large extent depend on how US security relations with Europe develop in the coming years.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO
  • Political Geography: Europe, Washington
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Human Rights First
  • Abstract: Egypt's political crisis has become a constant source of low-level disquiet for U.S. policy makers in a region of proliferating crises. In normal circumstances, the collapse of a mostly reliable strategic partner in one of the region's most populous and influential countries would be a first priority concern for U.S. policy makers, but concern over Egypt in U.S. policy circles has been, strangely, mostly muted. It seems when Egypt is mentioned at all, it is usually said to be in the midst of a transition to democracy, which may be bumpy or troubled, but is generally heading in the right direction, towards an inclusive democratic future, that Washington claims to favor.
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Egypt
  • Author: Moeed Yusuf
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Out of the proposed alternatives for dealing with Pakistan discussed in Washington, one that seems to have gained some traction calls for aggressively playing up Pakistan's civil-military divide by propping up civilians while dealing harshly with the military and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). While normatively attractive, the approach to deal with Pakistan as two Pakistans is unworkable. It grossly exaggerates the U.S.'s capacity to affect institutional change in Pakistan and fundamentally misunderstands what underpins the civil-military dynamic. In reality, any attempt by the U.S. to actively exploit this internal disconnect is likely to end up strengthening right wing rhetoric in Pakistan, provide more space for security-centric policies, and further alienate the Pakistani people from the U.S. A more prudent approach would be one that limits itself to targeted interventions in areas truly at the heart of the civil-military dichotomy and that would resonate positively with the Pakistani people: by continuing to help improve civilian governance performance and by providing regional security assurances to Pakistan.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Corruption, Islam, Terrorism, War, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, South Asia, Washington
  • Author: Nick Bisley
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell has just completed a lightning visit to Australia for formal discussions with newly installed Foreign Minister Bob Carr. In spite of the political turmoil that brought Carr to office, the Australia-US alliance is in the best shape of its 60-year history. Having begun as a Cold War convenience, about which the United States was not enthusiastic, it has become a key part of Washington's regional role and a cornerstone not only of Australia's defense and security policy, but of its broader engagement with the world. The arrival in early April of the US Marine Corps to begin six-month training rotations in Darwin is emblematic of the alliance's standing and its evolution.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Cold War, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Asia, Australia/Pacific
  • Author: Denny Roy
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Taiwan's elections on January 14, which for the first time combined polls for the presidency and the legislature, displayed further positive evolution in Taiwan's now well-established democracy. The results also precluded an immediate disruption in relations between Taiwan and the PRC, which is good news in Washington. In Beijing's view, however, the goal is not stability across the Taiwan Strait, but unification. Chinese impatience might weigh more heavily on President Ma Ying-jeou, and by extension on the United States, during Ma's second term.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Democratization, Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Washington, Taiwan, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Alain Guidetti
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The international strategic landscape is evolving at an unprecedented pace. The widespread assumption is that the global balance of power is shifting from the West to the East (and the South), as a consequence of the convergence of two variables: the sustained economic growth of China and Asia over recent decades, and the Western economic downturn since the 2008 global financial crisis. Though interpretations differ on the meaning and magnitude of this power shift, the prevailing assumption is that it reflects the weakness, and for some the relative decline, of the US and the West against Asia's and primarily China's strong rise. The implications of these developments across the Asia-Pacific are deep and have already led to growing strategic competition between Beijing and Washington for preeminence over the Asia-Pacific and new uncertainties over global and regional governance.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Rights, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Washington, Beijing, Asia, Australia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Daniel Green
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 2, Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power since 1978, declared that he would not press for a constitutional amendment allowing him to seek another term during the next election, currently scheduled for 2013. He also pledged that he would not pass power to his son, Ahmed, head of the country's Republican Guard. His remarks were apparently intended to preempt a "day of rage" in the capital, Sana, scheduled by opposition groups for February 3. In addition to parallels with Tunisia and Egypt, Washington will be watching with great attention given Yemen's reputation as a sanctuary for al-Qaeda and its supporters.
  • Topic: Democratization, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter, David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Inspired by events in Tunisia, tens of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets on January 25 in major cities from Alexandria to Cairo, the largest demonstrations to hit the country since the bread riots of the 1970s. The government, which did not initially confront demonstrators in Cairo's Tahrir Square, finally took forceful action to remove them late last night. Today, January 26, the Interior Ministry announced that public gatherings and protests will no longer be tolerated; there were further clashes in Cairo and Suez. More protests are anticipated after Friday prayers (January 28). Will the government's tactics quell the demonstrations or cause them to spread? And what approach should Washington take?
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Washington, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia, Cairo
  • Author: Iskander Rehman
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In March 1996, the waters of the Taiwan Strait were roiled by Chinese live missile firings and massive military exercises. Washington answered Beijing's blunt demonstration of coercive military diplomacy by promptly dispatching two aircraft carriers to the scene.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Washington, Taiwan
  • Author: Adam Segal
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: After years of dismissing the utility of international negotiations on cyberspace, U.S. officials now say that they will participate in talks to develop rules for the virtual world. But which norms should be pursued first and through which venues? As a start, the United States should issue two “cyber declaratory statements,” one about the thresholds of attacks that constitute an act of war and a second that promotes “digital safe havens”—civilian targets that the United States will consider off-limits when it conducts offensive operations. These substantive statements should emerge from a process of informal multilateralism rather than formal negotiations. Washington should engage allies and close partners such as India first and then reach out to other powers such as China and Russia with the goal that they also issue similar statements. Washington should also reach out to the private corporations that operate the Internet and nongovernmental organizations responsible for its maintenance and security.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, International Cooperation, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Washington
  • Author: Ashley J. Tellis
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Although meaningful cooperation in the region surrounding Afghanistan is of vital importance, it has been elusive because Afghanistan\'s key neighbors have significantly divergent aims. Engineering a successful regional solution would require the United States to fundamentally transform either these actors\' objectives or their dominant strategies. Achieving the latter may prove more feasible, most crucially vis-à-vis Pakistan. The region\'s history of discord is mainly rooted in the troubled relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Although Pakistan\'s involvement in Afghanistan is colored by its rivalry with India, its relations with Afghanistan are a geopolitical challenge independent of India because of its fears of disorder along its western borders, the unwelcome idea of “Pashtunistan,” and a related long-standing border dispute. Pakistan\'s reaction to these problems has only exacerbated them. As Islamabad, by supporting the Taliban insurgency, has sought to exercise preponderant, if not overweening, influence over Kabul\'s strategic choices, it has earned Kabul\'s distrust, deepened the Kabul–New Delhi partnership, and increased the risk to its relations with Washington—not to mention threatening the lives of U.S. and other coalition forces operating in Afghanistan. Despite widespread support in Afghanistan for ending the war through a negotiated settlement if possible, the Afghan Taliban leadership is unlikely to consider reconciliation unless it is faced with the prospect of continued losses of the kind sustained as a result of coalition military operations in 2010. A regional solution is similarly unlikely as long as Afghanistan and its neighbors, including India, perceive Islamabad as bent on holding Kabul in a choking embrace. Solving these problems lies beyond the capability of American diplomacy, and right now even of the promised diplomatic surge. The best hope for progress lies in continuing military action to alter the realities on the ground— thereby inducing the Taliban to consider reconciliation, while simultaneously neutralizing the Pakistani strategy that is currently preventing a regional solution. To increase the probability of military success, however, President Obama will need to forgo the politically calculated drawdown of combat troops this summer and instead accept the advice of his field commanders to maintain the largest possible contingent necessary for the coming campaign in eastern Afghanistan. Hard and unpalatable as it might be for the president, this course alone offers a solution that will protect the recent gains in Afghanistan and advance American interests over the long term.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Diplomacy, Peace Studies, Treaties and Agreements, War, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, America, Washington
  • Author: Daniel Markey
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: U.S.-Pakistani relations are in crisis. For Washington, Osam a bin Laden's safe haven in Abbottabad raises questions about Pakistan's complicity and/or incompetence. For Islamabad, bin Laden's killing shows its vulnerability to U.S. operations on its own soil .
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism, War, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, Washington
  • Author: Gary J. Schmitt, Thomas Donnelly
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: National security is neither a "sacred cow" nor just another federal budget line item. Providing for the common defense of the American people and our homeland is the primary responsibility of policymakers in Washington. However, in an effort to protect social entitlements like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the health care reform law from serious deficit and debt reduction efforts, President Obama has proposed not only to raise taxes, but also to cut another $400 billion more from future national security spending. As Obama said on June 29, 2011, "[Outgoing Secretary of Defense] Bob Gates has already done a good job identifying $400 billion in cuts, but we're going to do more."
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Debt, War
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Washington
  • Author: Steven Horwitz
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Politicians and pundits portray Herbert Hoover as a defender of laissez faire governance whose dogmatic commitment to small government led him to stand by and do nothing while the economy collapsed in the wake of the stock market crash in 1929. In fact, Hoover had long been a critic of laissez faire. As president, he doubled federal spending in real terms in four years. He also used government to prop up wages, restricted immigration, signed the Smoot-Hawley tariff, raised taxes, and created the Reconstruction Finance Corporation-all interventionist measures and not laissez faire. Unlike many Democrats today, President Franklin D. Roosevelt's advisers knew that Hoover had started the New Deal. One of them wrote, "When we all burst into Washington ... we found every essential idea [of the New Deal] enacted in the 100-day Congress in the Hoover administration itself."
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Political Economy, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington
  • Author: Ray Takeyh, Patrick Clawson
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the wake of Iran's June 2009 presidential election and the development of an opposition movement, analysts are confronted with two questions: What impact will international diplomacy regarding the nuclear issue have on Iran's domestic politics? And what impact will Iran's domestic politics have on the issues of most concern to the international community? The newly released Washington Institute report Much Traction from Measured Steps offers good, bad, and mixed answers.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Iran, Washington, Middle East
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Yemen's reemergence in the headlines as a crucial player in the fight against al-Qaeda raises questions about Washington's next steps. What sort of relationship will the Obama administration have with President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the longtime leader of what could be the world's next failed state? Saleh spoke with President Barack Obama by telephone on December 17, 2009, and later met in Sana with General David Petreaus, the head of U.S. Central Command, on January 2. But the lessons of Saleh's relationship with the Bush administration suggest that close ties can be matched by sharp policy differences.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Stephen Tankel
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In his February 2 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair highlighted the growing danger posed by Pakistani militant organization Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Calling the group a "special case," he asserted that it is "becoming more of a direct threat and is placing Western targets in Europe in its sights." He also expressed concern that it could "actively embrace" a more anti-Western agenda. Given its global capabilities with regard to fundraising, logistics, support, and operations, LeT could pose a serious threat to U.S. interests. Consequently, weakening it should be a high priority for Washington.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Europe, Washington, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji, David Cvach, Ali Alfoneh
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The means for assessing political fissures in Iran are by nature very limited and have become even more so since the June 12, 2009, election. Independent studies and data on the Iranian public, such as opinion polling, are sparse and not useful, and the Iranian press follows very strict red lines in discussing politics. Western diplomats in Iran are also restrained from understanding the political environment due to the oppressively formal nature of relations with Iranian officials, who rarely discuss sensitive issues with their Western counterparts. The latter are thus forced to gather information anecdotally, in private meetings with business leaders, cultural elites, and journalists -- hardly a sufficient sample of Iranian society.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Washington, Middle East
  • Author: Steven Pelak
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In recent weeks, calls for additional sanctions against Iran and increased prosecutions of violators have highlighted the need for effective enforcement mechanisms. Although enhanced sanctions may be valuable, they will have little effect if there is no penalty for violations. As part of its effort to reinforce sanctions regulations and ensure that U.S. national security interests are preserved, the Justice Department has sought to disable Iranian procurement networks that may involve U.S. companies, citizens, or goods.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Washington
  • Author: Simon Henderson, George Perkovich, Gregory Schulte
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A year ago in Prague, President Obama warned that nuclear terrorism poses "the most immediate and extreme threat to global security." Accordingly, he vowed to lead an international effort to "secure all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years." The Nuclear Security Summit is intended to advance that goal
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, International Security
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Vienna
  • Author: John Feffer
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: I'm not a big fan of Dana Rohrabacher, the grandstanding Republican congressman from California. But last week at a congressional hearing on U.S.-Japan relations, he ably cut through the Pentagon's doublespeak.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Washington
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 6, Britain went to the polls to elect a new government, producing no clear result but forcing the resignation of Labor Party leader Gordon Brown. Within hours of taking over as prime minister, Conservative Party leader David Cameron had created a new body, a British national security council, whose first meeting focused on "discuss[ing] the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and review[ing] the terrorist threat to the UK." Apart from Britain's economic problems, these issues and Middle East policy in general will likely dominate the new government's agenda -- and its relations with Washington.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Terrorism, International Security, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, United Kingdom, Washington, Middle East
  • Author: Jeffrey J. Schott
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: For the past 18 months, the G-20 summit countries have worked together to contain the global economic crisis and encourage a sustainable economic recovery. As part of these efforts, the G-20 leaders have sought to constrain the protectionist pressures that invariably arise during times of economic stress and to maintain an open international trading regime. The G-20 trade agenda, as enunciated in the three summit declarations, has covered two specific trade actions: a “standstill” on new protectionism and a charge to complete the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations.
  • Topic: Development, Human Rights, International Organization, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington
  • Author: Zachary Devlin-Foltz
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Africa Center for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: Africa's fragile states create political and security environments that enhance the leverage of Islamist extremists in their ongoing struggle with moderates for influence. Countering extremism in Africa, therefore, cannot be separated from building stronger, more legitimate states. Robust state security operations can neutralize extremists in the short term. However, they are an insufficient long-term counterextremism strategy unless coupled with opportunities for moderates to engage in the political process. In fragile states, maintaining moderate Islamist support for the state should be a central stabilization objective.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Terrorism, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Africa, Washington
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak's recent health scares -- including major surgery in Germany in March --have raised critical questions regarding the future of one of America's most important allies. In the event of his death, how would his successor be chosen, and who would it most likely be? Will the next president respect core U.S interests or challenge them? And how would the United States advance those interests in post-Mubarak Egypt? To reflect on these questions, The Washington Institute's Project Fikra recently brought together leading scholars, former senior U.S. diplomats, and other officials and activists for an off-the-record discussion on what to expect from Egyptian succession. Much of this PolicyWatch is based on that discussion.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Egypt
  • Author: Laurence Copeland
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In response to the recent financial crisis, many governments chose to ban or restrict short sales, hoping to mitigate the impact of the stock market downturn. Stock markets function as a continuous election, held to determine the allocation of resources with buyers voting for and sellers voting against investment in particular stocks. Banning short selling is akin to disenfranchising the "no" voter, thereby creating a distortion in the resource allocation process. Ban-induced price distortions damage the integrity of stock prices among investors and potentially cause stocks to expand beyond what is optimal for the firms and the economy.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Global Recession, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Washington
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: U.S. military operations in Afghanistan are now entering their tenth year and policymakers in Washington are looking for a way out. A policy review is due in December but the outline is already clear: U.S. forces will try to pummel the Taliban to bring them to the table, responsibility for security will increasingly be transferred to Afghan forces and more money will be provided for economic development. NATO partners agreed at the Lisbon summit to a gradual withdrawal of combat troops with the goal of transitioning to full Afghan control of security by the end of 2014. The aim will be a dignified drawdown of troops as public support wanes while at the same time ensuring that a post-withdrawal Afghanistan, at the very least, does not become the epicentre of transnational terrorism. While success is being measured in numbers of insurgents killed or captured, there is little proof that the operations have disrupted the insurgency's momentum or increased stability. The storyline does not match facts on the ground.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Washington, Taliban, Lisbon
  • Author: Tai Ming Cheung
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, University of California
  • Abstract: The Minerva project on "The Evolving Relationship Between Technology and National Security in China" held a two-day workshop on the "Military and Geo-Strategic Implications of China's Rise as a Global Technological Power" in Washington, D.C., in November 2010. Presentations were given by academic experts Susan Shirk, Barry Naughton, Tai Ming Cheung and David Meyer (all from UC San Diego), Alice Miller (Stanford University), Bates Gill (Stockholm Peace Research Institute), and Thomas Mahnken (Naval War College). This brief provides a summary of the workshop findings.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, Science and Technology, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: China, Washington, Asia
  • Author: Martha Brill Olcott
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: With Washington's influence on the Caspian region at its lowest ebb in many years, the Obama administration could reverse this trend with a new approach that accepts Russia's presence and China's interest as historical and geographical givens and emphasizes short- and medium-term problem solving in multilateral and bilateral settings instead of long-term political and economic transformations. The United States can accomplish more in the Caspian region by focusing on military reform and building security capacity than on forming military alliances. The United States should switch from a multiple pipeline strategy to a policy that advances competition by promoting market pricing for energy producers, consumers, and transit states. The United States could facilitate the introduction of renewable sources of energy as a stimulus to economic recovery and a source of enhanced social security. The United States should develop a nuanced strategy that encourages political development through social and educational programs and local capacity building. The Obama administration should name a high-level official as a presidential envoy to this region.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Development, Economics, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Washington, Central Asia
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: In early March, two senior U.S. officials traveled to Damascus for the highest-level bilateral meeting in years, part of the new administration's policy of "engagement." Washington seeks to test Damascus' intentions to distance itself from Iran. While a "strategic realignment" of Damascus is unlikely, in the short term the diplomatic opening is sure to alleviate international pressure on Damascus. The Assad regime made no secret of its preference for Barack Obama last November. At the same time, Syrian regime spokesmen appear to be setting preconditions for an effective dialogue, saying Washington would first have to drop the Syria Accountability Act sanctions and remove Syria from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. U.S. diplomatic engagement with Syria comes at a particularly sensitive time, just a few months before the Lebanese elections, where the "March 14" ruling coalition faces a stiff challenge from the Hizbullah-led "March 8" opposition, and Washington has taken steps to shore up support for its allies. Should the U.S. dialogue with Damascus progress, Washington might consent to take on an enhanced role in resumed Israeli-Syrian negotiations. However, U.S. participation on the Syria track could conceivably result in additional pressure for Israeli concessions in advance of any discernible modifications in Syria's posture toward Hizbullah and Hamas. Based on Syria's track record, there is little reason to be optimistic that the Obama administration will succeed where others have failed. Washington should not necessarily be faulted for trying, as long as the administration remains cognizant of the nature of the regime. Damascus today remains a brutal dictatorship, which derives its regional influence almost exclusively through its support for terrorism in neighboring states and, by extension, through its 30-year strategic alliance with Tehran.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Washington, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Lenny Ben-David
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: The appointment of former Senator George J. Mitchell as Middle East envoy was warmly received in Washington, Jerusalem, and Ramallah. Yet, the Middle East that Mitchell will confront today is much changed from the one he wrestled with eight years ago as chairman of the 2001 Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee, which was created to investigate the outbreak of the Second Intifada. The 2001 Mitchell Report was seen as an "even-handed" document, reflecting President Clinton's directive to "strive to steer clear of...finger-pointing. As a result, the committee attempted - even at the risk of straining credibility - to split the blame for the crisis. The Mitchell Committee could not ignore Palestinian terrorism and the Palestinian use of civilians as human shields. Israel's transgression - and there had to be one to balance Palestinian sins - was its settlement activity. The committee recommended a "freeze [of] all settlement activity, including the 'natural growth' of existing settlements." Israelis objected that the freeze - never mandated in the interim stages of the Oslo Accords - would serve to reward the Palestinians' terrorism. The committee was appointed before the 9/11 al-Qaeda attack. Its report came prior to the capture of two weapons-laden ships bound for Gaza - the Santorini in May 2001 and the Karine A in January 2002 - and prior to President Bush's 2004 recognition of "new realities on the ground [in the territories], including already existing major Israeli populations centers." Bush continued: "[I]t is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949." The 2001 Mitchell Report was issued years before Hamas' coup in Gaza. Hamas remains dedicated to Israel's destruction. Its alliance with Iran and its affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood mark Hamas as an enemy of moderate Arab regimes. Hamas may yet prove to be a fatal flaw to Mitchell's axiom that "there is no such thing as a conflict that can't be ended."
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Dana Moss, Max Mealy
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This week, in a striking symbol of improved U.S.-Libyan relations and Tripoli's reengagement with the international community, Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi is set to address the UN General Assembly. Previously, Qadhafi refused to visit the UN headquarters because it was located within the borders of "an enemy of humanity." Although the dynamic has changed, in the aftermath of the release of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the convicted perpetrator of the Lockerbie bombing, few have high expectations for Qadhafi's UN visit. Nevertheless, the Libyan leader could capitalize on his visit to draw closer to the Obama administration, although it is impossible to know how Libyan domestic considerations or other factors will impact Qadhafi's behavior in New York. These may eventually dictate a more inflammatory path.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, New York, Washington, Arab Countries, North Africa
  • Author: Michael Singh
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: With Iran's September 14 acceptance of a meeting with the P5+1 countries on October 1, the Obama administration finally appears poised to engage in direct talks with Iran. In entering these talks, Washington faces two obstacles: first, Iran's reputation for recalcitrance in negotiations and its stated refusal to discuss the nuclear issue, upon which American concerns center; and second, the perception that the administration is lending legitimacy to a regime fresh from violent repression of its political opponents.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Washington, Middle East
  • Author: Myriam Benraad
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Last month, Kamal Hassan, a Somali-American living in Minnesota, pled guilty to training and fighting with al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group in Somalia. In July, two other Somali-Americans in Minnesota pled guilty to similar charges, with the FBI continuing to investigate more than a dozen others who may have traveled from the United States to Somalia. The FBI also recently arrested seven individuals in North Carolina on terrorism-related charges, including one who had spent time in Afghan training camps. These and other recent events have raised new concerns in the United States about the threat of homegrown radicalization.
  • Topic: Security, Crime, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Africa, Europe, Washington, North Carolina
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter, David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 18, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak travels to Washington for a White House meeting with President Barack Obama. The trip -- Mubarak's first visit to the United States in six years -- marks the culmination of a six-month effort by the Obama administration to hit the reset button with Cairo. After years of tension resulting from the last administration's focus on human rights and democratic development, the traditional U.S.-Egyptian bilateral "bargain" has been effectively restored. In exchange for cooperation on key mutual interests -- the peace process and the Iranian threat --Washington appears to have shelved longstanding concerns over internal Egyptian governance. While the new dynamic may help mitigate some regional crises, the political and economic challenges Cairo faces will not age well, particularly as the state enters its first period of leadership transition in twenty-eight years.
  • Topic: Democratization, Human Rights, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Washington, Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Two and a half months after U.S. president Barack Obama and Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu first hit an impasse over the settlement issue, the dispute has not only continued, it has also grown more complex. Saudi Arabia has now rebuffed requests from Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell to pursue confidence-building measures toward Israel, even in return for a moratorium on settlement construction. Although the Obama administration has not yet leveled any public criticism against Riyadh, it continues to be critical of Israeli settlements. To move diplomacy forward, Washington will have to engage in some creative policymaking.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies, Terrorism, Treaties and Agreements, Political Power Sharing
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Johannes F. Linn, Colin I. Bradford
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: In November 2008, President George W. Bush convened the first G-20 summit in Washington to address the worst global financial economic crisis since the Great Depression. This summit provided a long-overdue opportunity for a dramatic and lasting change in global governance. This was followed by the election of Barack Obama, who had campaigned on a distinctly different foreign policy platform compared with his Republican rival, Senator John McCain. These two events were no mere coincidence.
  • Topic: International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Washington
  • Author: Ashley J. Tellis
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: India's Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, will come to Washington on November 24, 2009, for the first state visit hosted by President Barack Obama. This event will be widely viewed as evidence of the importance attached to maintaining the upward trajectory in U.S.–Indian relations. By all accounts, the two leaders have already established a good working relationship—something skeptics feared was impossible given the prime minister's warm regard for President George W. Bush and the differences between Bush and Obama on many issues involving India. The global economic crisis, however, appears to have enhanced the personal collaboration between the two leaders, as many of Singh's ideas for stimulating the global revival have been backed by Obama in various forums, including most recently at the Group of Twenty's summit in Pittsburgh.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Climate Change, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, India
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Defense Information
  • Abstract: The international Global Zero Commission, a group of political and military leaders from the United States, Russia and other key countries, held an intensive two-day meeting in Washington, D.C. on June 28-29, 2009 - where they presented a practical and comprehensive plan calling for the phased and verified elimination of all nuclear weapons over the next 20 years, and briefed senior Obama administration officials on their recommendations in advance of the July 6-8 Moscow Summit.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Washington, Moscow
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On December 14, Lebanese president Michel Sulaiman is scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama at the White House. It is widely anticipated that during his visit, Sulaiman will request administration support for an increase in U.S. military assistance. Despite concerns that U.S. materiel will leak to Hizballah, Washington will likely agree to augment this funding, given the Lebanese Armed Force's excellent security record with equipment of U.S. origin. The question of U.S. military funding for Lebanon highlights recent developments in Lebanese politics that point to the resurgence of Hizballah -- and its Syrian and Iranian backers -- in Beirut. Although the pro-West March 14 coalition scored an impressive electoral victory in June, six months later, the government that has emerged constitutes a setback for Washington and its Lebanese allies. The scope of the setback -- for both the coalition and the United States -- was recently summarized by Syrian Ambassador to the United States Imad Mustafa, who said, "We love it!... It is exactly the sort of government we think should rule Lebanon."
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Arabia, Lebanon
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On December 7, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Washington to meet with President Barack Obama. The meeting follows Obama's April visit to Turkey, during which the U.S. leader reached out to Ankara in an effort to realign the countries' interests after the tumultuous years of the Bush administration. Despite Obama's efforts, Turkish foreign policy seems to be drifting farther away from the United States, especially on issues such as Iran and Sudan. To what extent can Washington use the upcoming visit to continue seeking alignment between U.S. and Turkish foreign policy objectives?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Central Asia, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Christopher DeMuth
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: AEI senior fellow Irving Kristol—godfather of the neoconservative movement and one of the towering intellectual figures of the twentieth century—died peacefully on September 18 at the age of eighty-nine. Mr. Kristol's connection to AEI began long before he became a full-time scholar at the Institute in 1988. In 1973, he gave the first of AEI's Distinguished Lectures on the Bicentennial of the United States. The lectures were delivered at historic sites around the country, and Mr. Kristol's lecture, “The American Revolution as a Successful Revolution,” was given at St. John's Church in Washington, where many of the nation's presidents have worshipped. We reprint excerpts from it below after a tribute to him written by Christopher DeMuth, the D. C. Searle Senior Fellow at AEI.
  • Topic: Cold War, Politics, International Affairs, Political Theory
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington
  • Author: Douglas H. Paal
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Washington has no proactive vision toward a “rising Asia”; “more of the same” will not advance U.S. interests. Decide early on clear U.S. strategic objectives in the region, and signal to China where constructive cooperation will lead. Appoint a high-level advocate for Asia befitting its status as the new global “center of gravity.” Prioritize the bewildering alphabet of organizations and venues to achieve those objectives. Consider inviting China and India to join the G8. Anticipate greater Chinese and Indian military and trade capabilities by developing new multilateral security and economic arrangements in the region. Avoid coalitions based on common values or democracy. Asia is too diverse and complicated for them to succeed. Ditch the “war on terror” rhetoric, which has proved divisive and counterproductive.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Diplomacy, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: China, Washington, India, Asia
  • Author: Jean-Pierre Katrib
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The May 25 election of Gen. Michel Suleiman as Lebanon's twelfth president was a central element of the Qatari-brokered compromise between the March 14 coalition and the Hizballah-led opposition. The agreement was greeted with relief in Washington and other international capitals, allaying fears that Lebanon was once again heading toward civil war. Now that Fouad Siniora has been re-designated as prime minister, the Doha agreement's remaining elements include the difficult task of establishing a "national unity government" and holding parliamentary elections in 2009. The new law governing those elections will determine whether Lebanon will have a solid future foundation or if the day of final reckoning has been merely postponed.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In response to the February 12 assassination of chief of operations Imad Mughniyeh, Hizballah has ratcheted up its threats, warnings, and saber rattling. In turn, Israel has locked down its foreign missions, put its military on heightened alert, and deployed Patriot missiles near Haifa. And in Washington, the FBI issued a bulletin to its field offices warning of possible attacks on U.S. soil.
  • Topic: Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Yesterday's assassination of arch-terrorist Imad Mughniyeh was welcome news in Washington, Buenos Aires, Tel Aviv, and, albeit quietly, Beirut and Baghdad. For Hizballah and Damascus, however, the loss of Mughniyeh -- who was a brilliant military tactician, a key contact to Tehran, and a successful political leader -- is a severe blow to their ongoing activities and operations.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Tehran, Baghdad, Lebanon, Syria, Beirut
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Last week, Lebanese president Michel Suleiman met with President Bush at the White House -- the first visit by a Lebanese head of state since 1996 -- and reportedly pressed for a continued U.S. commitment to the bilateral military assistance program. Since the program's revitalization after the election of the pro-West March 14 coalition in 2005, the administration has provided nearly $400 million in foreign military financing (FMF) to Beirut, making Lebanon the second largest per capita recipient of U.S. military assistance after Israel. While Washington continues to back Beirut (the administration has requested $60 million in military assistance for Lebanon for 2009), Hizballah's recent political gains and lingering questions about the future disposition of the Lebanese government will likely prevent the administration from expanding either the quantity or quality of the military requests.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Today, oil ministers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meet in Vienna to discuss a possible production cut. Originally planned for November, the meeting was brought forward because of falling oil prices. With the perilous state of world financial markets, seldom has an OPEC meeting been so critical for both itself and the world. Although hard hit by falling revenues, oil market conditions give Saudi Arabia the opportunity to show strong leadership, most likely by limiting any production cut. But the oil-consuming nations would prefer no cut at all, so any reduction would discomfit relations between Washington and Riyadh. The kingdom was unhelpful as prices rose above $100 per barrel months ago, and both presidential candidates have called for independence from foreign -- implying Saudi -- oil.
  • Topic: Oil
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Arabia, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The current reconciliation process between the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fatah) is a continuation of their struggle through other means. The goals pursued by the two movements are domestic and regional legitimacy, together with consolidation of territorial control – not national unity. This is understandable. At this stage, both parties see greater cost than reward in a compromise that would entail loss of Gaza for one and an uncomfortable partnership coupled with an Islamist foothold in the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) for the other. Regionally, Syria – still under pressure from Washington and others in the Arab world – has little incentive today to press Hamas to compromise, while Egypt and Saudi Arabia are tilting more pointedly toward Fatah. It will take significant shifts in domestic, regional and international attitudes for this to change. Palestine's political-territorial division, now over a year old, is set to endure.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Gaza, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt
  • Author: Dmitri V. Trenin
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: U.S.–Russian relations matter again. To succeed where Bush has failed, Obama needs to approach Russia strategically: enhancing cooperation where possible, mitigating conflict where necessary. To prevent new conflict and receive Moscow's cooperation, Washington needs to deal seriously with Russian concerns. Leave Russia's domestic politics to the Russians. To keep Ukraine whole and free, the EU integration way is the way. NATO has reached the safe limits of eastward expansion. To protect against missile threats, a pan-European TMD system—which includes Russia—is the best option. On Iran and Afghanistan, Russia should be treated as an equal partner
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Russia, United States, Europe, Iran, Washington, Ukraine, Moscow
  • Author: Rose Gottemoeller
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Washington and Moscow's failure to develop a working relationship could lead to a dangerous crisis—perhaps even a nuclear one. There is an immediate need to grab onto the superstructure of the relationship through the STA RT and CFE treaties, both of which require urgent action. A new architecture should follow that to broaden the relationship, including the creation of a new future for security in Europe. Both capitals need to devise a strategy as well as a mechanism to manage the relationship and prevent future crises. A commission of past presidents—U.S. and Russian—would have the authority to confront these monumental tasks.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, America, Europe, Washington, Eastern Europe, Moscow, Georgia
  • Author: Karim Sadjadpour
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Although Tehran and Washington appear hopelessly divided, issues of broad mutual concern reveal important overlapping interests. The United States can more effectively support democracy and human rights in Iran with policies that facilitate, rather than impede, Iran's modernization and reintegration in the global economy. The next U.S. president should not immediately seek comprehensive engagement with Tehran, as this might enhance Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's chances of reelection in Iran's June 2009 presidential elections. The United States must deal with those who hold power in Tehran, namely Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Given the widespread mutual mistrust between Washington and Tehran, confidence should be built with negotiations on areas of common interest, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, rather than those of little or no common interest, such as the Palestinian–Israeli conflict or the nuclear issue. When it comes to U.S.–Iranian interaction, the record shows that “secret” or “private” discussions out of public earshot have a greater success rate. Building confidence in the public realm will be difficult, as politicians on both sides will likely feel the need to use harsh rhetoric to maintain appearances. It is imperative that Washington maintain a multilateral approach toward Iran, especially regarding the nuclear issue. Tehran is highly adept at exploiting rifts in the international community and diplomatic efforts to check Iran's nuclear ambitions will unravel if key countries approach Iran with divergent redlines. Powerful spoilers—both within Iran and among Iran's Arab allies—have entrenched economic and political interests in preventing U.S.–Iranian reconciliation.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iran, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Tehran, Palestine
  • Author: Bülent Aras
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: In an age of war on terror, Turkey pursues its own war against the escalating PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) terror. The dynamics that led to a parliamentary motion for a cross border operation into Northern Iraq will have implications for Turkey's relations with Washington, Baghdad and other capitals in the region. The Expanded Meeting of the Neighboring Countries of Iraq held in Istanbul on 2-3 November 2007 coincided with Turkey's intensive regional diplomacy. There are serious challenges to ending PKK terrorism and finding a lasting solution to the Kurdish problem. The Erdogan Government must fight terrorism in a way that will not jeopardize the process of democratization and political reforms in Turkey.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Democratization, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Washington, Turkey, Middle East, Baghdad
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Understanding the impact of Washington's expected designation of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization requires knowing what role the Revolutionary Guards play in Iranian society. Apart from being a military force with naval, air, and ground components organized in parallel to the conventional Iranian military, the Revolutionary Guards are the spine of the current political structure and a major player in the Iranian economy.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Washington, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Jordanians go to the polls tomorrow to elect nearly 1,000 local representatives and 92 mayors. On their own, these elections are of minimal interest to Washington: municipalities have small budgets, limited responsibilities, and scant independence from the central government. But the voting comes just a month after the Hamas takeover of Gaza, during a spike in the violence in Iraq, and a week after a landslide victory for the Islamist-leaning Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the Turkish national elections. Adding to the significance of the Jordanian ballot is the fact that, after boycotting the 2003 contest, the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood's political party, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), will participate in this year's elections. A potential IAF victory highlights growing concern that Islamists are on a political roll throughout the Middle East, and that Jordan may be vulnerable.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Washington, Middle East, Gaza, Jordan
  • Author: Michael Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 29, 2007, the Bush administration unveiled a long-anticipated package of sanctions against Sudan, designating thirty Sudanese companies for their ties to the regime of President Omar al-Bashir, as well as two government officials, a rebel leader, and a transportation company for their role in the Darfur genocide. In announcing the targeted companies and individuals, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson stated that Washington was "calling attention to their horrific acts" and attempting to "further isolate them from the international community." Although these sanctions do not impose significant additional legal restrictions on business dealings with Sudan, they could nevertheless have some impact if they are effectively implemented.
  • Topic: Genocide, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Washington, Sudan
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Hamas's military takeover of Gaza is the sort of clarifying act of violence that should trigger, among all relevant parties, a period of reassessment. So far, however, it is not apparent that the Bush administration has taken a critical look at the policies that failed -- in the pre-Hamas period -- to help develop the Palestinian Authority (PA) into a truly effective, accountable, transparent government, or -- in recent months -- to impede Hamas's rise or strengthen the forces arrayed against it. Before Washington proceeds too far down the path of propping up President Mahmoud Abbas and resuscitating Fatah without reflecting on how U.S. action (or inaction) contributed to the current situation, the administration should revisit the basic principles underlying U.S. relations with the PA.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America, Washington, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Ashley Tellis
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Many Americans have blamed the resurgence of al-Qaeda and the Taliban on Pakistan's lackluster performance in the war on terror. Islamabad has indeed been ambivalent, but the convulsive political deterioration in the North West Frontier Province in Pakistan, Islamabad's military ineptitude in counterterrorism operations, and the political failures of the Karzai government in Afghanistan have all exacerbated the problem. Making U.S. aid conditional on Pakistan's performance in the war or undertaking unilateral strikes against terrorist targets in Pakistan would inflate suspicion of Washington's motives, and risk casting Pakistan, a nuclear-armed state, as an American adversary. U.S. policy must instead convince Pakistani elites that defeating terrorist groups serves their own interest, while emphasizing that a terrorist attack emanating from Pakistan would push Washington to adopt more painful tactics.
  • Topic: Security, Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, America, Washington, Asia, Taliban
  • Author: Roger Noriega
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: U.S. policy in Latin America and the Caribbean always seems to inspire criticism: Too much, too little, too late. Back off. Get in the game. Don't just stand there, do something. Don't do something, just stand there. Our geographic closeness has meant a rich, natural partnership, but this proximity easily stirs concerns over sovereignty. When the United States is preoccupied with events in other parts of the world, regional pundits accuse Washington of indifference. If we speak clearly on the issues in Latin America, we are excoriated for poking our nose “where it doesn't belong.” So where does this leave U.S. foreign policy in the region? It could be that what we do may not be as important as how we do it. The first step in developing a new paradigm for engaging the Americas is using the 2008 election cycle here at home to develop a serious domestic constituency for our policy. Then we should shape that policy through a conscientious dialogue with stakeholders in the region.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Washington, Moscow, Latin America
  • Author: Samuel Thernstrom, Lee Lane
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: President George W. Bush was widely expected to propose ambitious new initiatives to control greenhouse gas emissions in the State of the Union address on January 23. The week before the speech, his top environmental advisor told a Washington Post columnist that a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system would be “the most elegant” solution to climate change, raising expectations that a proposal along those lines might be forthcoming. In the end, however, the president proposed a remarkably modest (and poorly conceived) initiative to cut gasoline consumption by 20 percent in the next ten years. This was an important lost opportunity for leadership at a crucial juncture.
  • Topic: Development, Environment, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Washington
  • Author: Ken Berry
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EastWest Institute
  • Abstract: The United States and Russia have the biggest responsibility for countering nuclear terrorism because together they account for the overwhelming share of global nuclear materials, expertise and weapons. The two countries also have between them the most substantial capacities in counter-terrorism intelligence and response. There is little to separate the two in their policies against nuclear terrorism. Where there are differences in approach on some aspects of nuclear proliferation, the two countries have accepted an obligation as the pre-eminent nuclear powers to try to narrow their differences. The international community cannot defeat nuclear terrorism or limit it without an active and vigorous alliance between Washington and Moscow.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Development, International Cooperation, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Washington, Moscow
  • Author: Jeff Procak
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EastWest Institute
  • Abstract: On April 25, 2007, the EastWest Institute, together with the Kennan Institute, organized in Washington DC a two-hour roundtable discussion on the current state and outlook for US-Russia relations. The roundtable used President Putin's speech presented to the 43rd Conference on Security Policy in Munich on February 10, 2007 as a point of reference. The purpose of this gathering was to examine strategies and approaches to reverse the significant decline in Russian-American relations over the last several years. The seminar was attended by 20 prominent experts from the US and Russia, including foreign policy advisors, representatives of the academic, business, and NGO communities, and mass media. Topics discussed included the most important issues on the US-Russia geostrategic agenda: arms control and nuclear non- proliferation, international energy, Russia's WTO accession, trade and economic cooperation, mutual perceptions and role of the media.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Washington, Asia
  • Author: Lynn Tesser
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: On November 21, 2006, Nepal's government and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) signed a comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) to formally end their ten-year conflict, which has resulted in an estimated 13,000 deaths. The agreement has been widely hailed as historic and many observers feel cautiously optimistic, in spite of the hurdles that lie ahead. On January 22, 2007, the U.S. Institute of Peace sponsored a one-day program in Washington, D.C., to address the challenges Nepal now faces. It brought together a broad spectrum of attendees, from representatives of academia and international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to the U.S. Departments of State and Justice. Presenters were asked to comment on particular challenges that Nepal faces during the peace process. This USIPeace Briefing provides an overview of the presentations given at the conference, and includes remarks from Ambassador Julia Chang Bloch (former U.S. ambassador to Nepal and president of the U.S.–China Education Trust); Dr. Chitra K. Tiwari (journalist, The Washington Times); Dr. Jaya Raj Acharya (senior fellow, USIP); and Kul Chandra Gautam (assistant secretary-general of the UN and deputy executive director of UNICEF). It was prepared by Lynn Tesser, program officer in USIP's Jennings Randolph Fellowship program.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Government, International Law
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Asia, Nepal
  • Author: Karon Cochran-Budhathoki
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This USIPeace Briefing highlights the findings regarding the security situation in Nepal in the run up to constituent assembly elections scheduled for November 22, 2007. Since February 2007 the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) has held individual meetings and group dialogue sessions on strengthening security and the rule of law in Nepal. These events have taken place in Washington, D.C., Kathmandu, Banke, Siraha, Kailali, Jhapa, Chitwan and Rupandehi Districts. During the sessions and meetings, including with members of the security sector, challenges and solutions to strengthening security and the rule of law were identified and discussed. While election security for the upcoming Constituent Assembly Election was not the primary subject of the discussions, various participants offered a number of recommendations and raised several concerns. Additionally, general security issues, many of which are related to election security, were discussed and can be included in a broader long-term security strategy.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Asia, Nepal
  • Author: Martha Ross, Kathy Patrick
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Low-income residents of Washington, DC are in poorer health and have less access to regular medical care than more affluent residents. A citywide community health worker program could increase primary care visits among low-income residents, improve their health and reduce potentially avoidable emergency department visits and hospitalizations. Community health workers (CHWs) are well-trained community members whose backgrounds are similar to those they serve, and who provide health education, links to health services, and support in managing health conditions. CHWs serve communities with cultural, linguistic, or economic barriers to health care services. A growing body of research suggests that CHW programs improve access to primary and preventive care, reduce emergency department overcrowding, and are cost-effective.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Human Welfare, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Washington
  • Author: Martha Ross, Nicole Lurie
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Low-income residents of Washington, DC have poorer health outcomes and less access to primary care than more affluent residents of the city. Residents in low-income areas of the city are less likely to have insurance and a regular doctor, are more likely to have chronic health problems, and are more likely to be hospitalized for conditions that should not result in hospitalization if treated early and effectively in a primary care setting.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Human Welfare, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Washington
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In their April 21 press release following their spring meeting in Washington, D.C., the G7 finance ministers and central bank governors added an important sentence to their usual bland statement that exchange rates should reflect economic fundamentals: Greater exchange rate flexibility is desirable in emerging economies with large current account surpluses, especially China, for necessary adjustments to occur. In their April 21 press release following their spring meeting in Washington, D.C., the G7 finance ministers and central bank governors added an important sentence to their usual bland statement that exchange rates should reflect economic fundamentals: Greater exchange rate flexibility is desirable in emerging economies with large current account surpluses, especially China, for necessary adjustments to occur. The G7, significantly, also called for an increased role for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help countries, including those in the G7 but also China and others in emerging Asia, meet the macroeconomic and financial policy challenge of globalization. Specifically, the G7 supported the strengthening of IMF surveillance, including through increased emphasis on the consistency of exchange rate policies with domestic policies and a market-based international monetary system and on the spillover effects of domestic policies on other countries. The G7s endorsement of greater exchange-rate flexibility and of an enhanced IMF role in implementing it is important. The IMF, having been founded after World War II to maintain stable exchange rates among major economies, has become an advocate on behalf of the major economies of global exchange-rate flexibility. The lesson regarding the need for G7 currency flexibility was learned after Americas August 1971 abandonment of fixed exchange rates, which was followed by a decade of adjustments to higher oil prices that would have wreaked havoc under fixed exchange rates. The lesson for needed currency flexibility in emerging markets was learned after the disastrous attempt, fostered in part by the IMF, to impose fixed exchange rates during the Asian and Russian crises of 1997 and 1998, which prolonged and exacerbated the market gyrations caused by the crises. Sadly, China response to the G7-IMF call for greater currency flexibility has been both negative and misguided. China's foolishly insouciant attitude, captured in a comment by Zhou Xiao-chuan, governor of the Peoples Bank of China, carries with it serious risks both for China and for the world economy. Zhous remark was quoted on April 24 in the Wall Street Journal: [T]he speed of moving forward (on yuan appreciation) is OK. Its good for China and welcomed by many other countries. China's currency has appreciated only 1.2 percent since its initial 2.1 percent revaluation last July 21. That is less than OK. The total 3.3 percent revaluation against the dollar really represents no adjustment at all in view of the 1 to 2 percent inflation differential (lower in China) that has persisted between the United States and China over the past two years. If China had allowed prices to rise instead of mandating caps on prices of important commodities like gasoline, there would be less pressure for the yuan to rise in value. Both the intervention to cap the yuans appreciation and the capping of domestic prices are building up potentially disruptive inflation pressure inside China, as we shall see below. The most dangerous aspect of China's increased efforts to prevent yuan appreciation, as measured by accelerating reserve accumulation over the past year, is the rising pool of liquidity inside China that has resulted. The level of excess reserves in Chinese banks is now larger, relative to GDP, than the level of excess reserves built up in Japan from 2001 to 2005 during the years of a prolonged, desperate struggle against deflation. China's currency undervaluation, coupled with the massive liquidity buildup in its banking system, has resulted in excessive investment in China's state enterprises that have close traditional ties with the liquidity-sodden banks. The usual Chinese response to excess reserves has been to boost reserve requirements for its banks. But to absorb the huge pool of excess reserves now in place, reserve requirements would have to be boosted by 5 percentage points to 12.5 per-cent, going far beyond previous moves of 0.5 to 1 percentage point, and far beyond what China's shaky, insolvent banks could endure. When the Peoples Bank of China boosted its one-year benchmark lending rate on April 26 by 27 basis points (to 5.85 percent), it took a tiny step that will do little to tighten China's monetary stance.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Washington
  • Author: James Q. Wilson
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Federal district court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor has ruled that the warrantless interception of telephone and Internet calls between a foreign agent and American persons is illegal and unconstitutional. It is possible that she is right about the illegality, but she is almost surely wrong that it is unconstitutional. The government has appealed this decision to the Sixth Circuit. No one can say what it will decide, although other appeals courts have tolerated such surveillance. Ultimately the Supreme Court will have to decide the matter. The Constitutional arguments against the surveillance are unpersuasive. A Washington Post editorial dismissed them as “throat clearing.” Judge Taylor refers to the free speech provision of the First Amendment but fails to explain how listening to a conversation or reading e-mail abridges anyone's right to speak. Taken literally, a Constitutional ban on intercepts would make it impossible to overhear the mafia plotting murders or business executives fixing prices.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Human Rights, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington
  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: On February 2, 2006, the International Atomic Energy Agency will meet in Vienna to discuss the nuclear crisis in Iran and, in all likelihood, refer Iran to the United Nations Security Council for being in breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty's safeguards agreement. Such a referral will mark a turning point in a decade-long saga. Europe's engagement with Iran has failed. The United States and its European allies have been resolute in their condemnation of the Iranian government decision to resume uranium enrichment. In contrast to previous diplomatic impasses with Tehran, neither Washington nor its European allies appear willing to make further concessions. On January 23, U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said, “I don't see much room for further discussion in any format [with Iran].” At a January 13, 2006, press conference with German chancellor Angela Merkel, George W. Bush condemned Iran. “Iran, armed with a nuclear weapon, poses a grave threat to the security of the world,” Mr. Bush said. “We will not be intimidated,” Ms. Merkel added. Already, though, there has been one casualty of the diplomatic crisis: the European Union's policy of engagement.
  • Topic: International Relations, Nuclear Weapons, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Iran, Washington, Middle East, Tehran, Germany, Vienna
  • Author: Edward Blum, Roger Clegg, Abigail Thernstrom
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Government memos leaked to the press are nothing new in Washington, yet they can still command a front-page, above-the-fold headline. The latest came on December 2, 2005, when the Washington Post trumpeted, “Justice Staff Saw Texas Districting as Illegal; Voting Rights Finding on Map Pushed by DeLay Was Overruled.” (Part of this story was recycled by the Post on Monday, January 23, in another front-page, above-the-fold story.) The story that followed loosely described the contents of a 2003 internal Department of Justice memo written by career staffers in the voting section of the civil-rights division. Those staffers—five lawyers and two analysts—had concluded that the Congressional redistricting plan Texas had recently submitted to them for approval was in violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act because it “retrogressed”—or, more simply, “diminished”—the electoral position of blacks and Hispanics. Then attorney general John Ashcroft and the political appointees in the civil-rights division—as well as, incidentally, a career lawyer higher in the chain of command (a fact that the Post failed to note)—rejected the memo's findings and allowed Texas to implement the new plan.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington
  • Author: David Makovsky, Dennis Ross, Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 25, 2006, Jeffrey White, David Makovsky, and Dennis Ross addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Jeffrey White is the Berrie Defense Fellow at The Washington Institute and the coauthor, with Michael Eisenstadt, of the Institute Policy Focus Assessing Iraq's Sunni Arab Insurgency. David Makovsky, senior fellow and director of The Washington Institute's Project on the Middle East Peace Process, is author of the Institute monograph Engagement through Disengagement: Gaza and the Potential for Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking. He, like Jeffrey White, recently returned from a trip to Israel. Dennis Ross, the Institute's counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow, is a former U.S. Middle East peace envoy and author of The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt, Emile El-Hokayem, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Daniel Christman
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 23, 2006, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Daniel Christman, Emile El-Hokayem, and Michael Eisenstadt addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. General Christman is senior vice president for international affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and previously served as assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Emile El-Hokayem is a Middle East analyst at the Henry L. Stimson Center. Michael Eisenstadt is director of The Washington Institute's Military and Security Studies Program. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Security, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington
  • Author: Seth Wikas
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 15, Syrian president Bashar al-Asad gave a significant policy speech to the Syrian Journalists Union in which he expressed his support for Hizballah. More importantly, the address sought to redefine Syria's position in the Arab world. Building on Washington's talk of the birth of a new Middle East, Asad described his own vision for a new Middle East, one with an empowered Arab resistance, a weakened Israel, and a renewed regional unity against Western interests.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Shimon Peres
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 1, 2006, the Honorable Shimon Peres addressed the Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum to discuss Israel's political and military strategy in its war against Hizballah. Shimon Peres is the deputy prime minister of Israel and a member of Knesset from the Kadima Party. A former prime minister, defense minister, and foreign minister, he has played a central role in the political life of Israel for more than half a century and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994. The following is a rapporteur's summary of Mr. Peres's remarks.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 25, 2006, Robert Satloff and David Pollock addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Dr. Satloff is the executive director of The Washington Institute and the author most recently of the Institute monograph Assessing What Arabs Do, Not What They Say: A New Approach to Understanding Arab Anti-Americanism. Dr. David Pollock, formerly head of Near East research in the U.S. Information Agency, currently works in the Office of the Undersecretary of Global Affairs at the Department of State. His remarks were off the record. The following is a rapporteur's summary of Dr. Satloff's remarks.
  • Topic: International Relations, Demographics, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Arabia
  • Author: David Makovsky, Dennis Ross, Moshe Yaalon
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 10, 2006, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon, David Makovsky and Dennis Ross addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. General Yaalon, a distinguished military fellow at the Institute, is the former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff. Mr. Makovsky, senior fellow and director of The Washington Institute's Project on the Middle East Peace Process, is author of the Institute monograph Engagement through Disengagement: Gaza and the Potential for Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking. Ambassador Ross, the Institute's counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow, is a former U.S. Middle East peace envoy and author of The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Patrick Clawson, Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 17, 2006, Brig. Gen. Michael Herzog and Patrick Clawson addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. General Herzog, an active officer in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), is a visiting military fellow at The Washington Institute. General Herzog recently published Iranian Public Opinion on the Nuclear Program: A Potential Asset for the International Community, an Institute monograph available for free download. Dr. Clawson is deputy director for research at The Washington Institute, and recently published Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos. Mehdi Khalaji also contributed to the panel; his remarks appear in a separate PolicyWatch. The following is a rapporteur's summary of General Herzog and Dr. Clawson's remarks.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Nuclear Weapons, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Iran, Washington, Israel
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Hizballah has been deployed along the blue line, the internationally accepted border between Lebanon and Israel, since May 2000 when the Israeli army left southern Lebanon. Hizballah's fulltime strength is 500–600 well trained, combat experienced fighters, but in an emergency the organization can also call upon thousands of other fighters with elementary training. Training continues in the eastern Bekaa valley, although at a much reduced rate compared to the 1990s. At present, Hizballah uses Shebaa Farms to justify its military operations and continued weapons possession, a rationale based on the claim that the Shebaa Farms are Lebanese territory occupied by Israel, even as the United Nations considers this territory to be Syrian.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Acting Lebanese interior minister Ahmad Fatfat arrived in Washington June 20 for his first official visit in his new capacity. The U.S. trip comes one month after a radical Sunni Islamist organization was legalized in Lebanon, and just weeks after thousands of Shiite Hizballah supporters rioted in Beirut after the broadcast on LBC television of a comedy skit satirizing Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah. These developments highlight growing tensions between Sunnis and Shiites in Lebanon. Unchecked, this dynamic could lead to a resumption of the type of conflict that has long plagued Lebanon and threaten the gains of the Cedar Revolution.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Development, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Efraim Halevy
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the current global circumstances, the role of intelligence gathering and analysis in policymaking has become increasingly important. As a result, intelligence leaders have ever more influence in the policymaking process. This is particularly the case in Israel, where some of the political leadership's most significant decisions came on the heels of Mossad and Military Intelligence initiatives and assessments.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Politics
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel, Jerusalem
  • Author: David Makovsky, Dennis Ross
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Ehud Olmert is proposing a plan to withdraw 60,000 settlers from the West Bank and consolidate Israel's borders. His reasoning is that these settlers have been in limbo for thirty-nine years. He does not want their presence in the West Bank to jeopardize Israel's democratic nature, nor to use them as human bargaining chips in negotiations. He is looking at the issue from the perspective of security instead of ideology.
  • Topic: Security, Migration, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The second meeting in a new round of twice-yearly strategic dialogues between the United States and Saudi Arabia will be held May 18 in Washington. Established at the Crawford summit between President George W. Bush and then Crown Prince Abdullah in April 2005, the first meeting was held in the Saudi city of Jeddah last November. The meetings were instituted because of the bilateral problems highlighted at the Crawford talks. The issues then were discussed "frankly and plainly" (the Saudi description) and the talks were "candid" (the American official description) -- diplomatic codes for little agreement. This time the Saudi side is spinning "the prospects of expanding cooperation," though the United States is still concerned about the "lag" it sees between official Saudi statements and action. Six working groups were established at the Jeddah meeting in November: counterterrorism; military affairs; energy; economic and financial affairs; consular affairs and partnership; and education exchange and human development. The generic titles obscure some major differences. As the labels suggest, the Saudis have successfully avoided any direct reference to political reform and human rights, areas that have been particularly criticized by a succession of U.S. officials and congressional figures. Even when such issues were raised, reports say that in the case of human rights, the Saudi side immediately riposted with concern about the circumstances of Saudi detainees at Guantanamo Bay, where they are said to form the single largest national contingent.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 30, the Sunday Times of London reported that Israeli Mossad chief Meir Dagan had warned U.S. officials during a secret visit to Washington of covert Iranian plans for enriching uranium, which may mean Tehran was "nearer to acquiring nuclear weapons than widely believed." The same report quoted Knesset Foreign and Defense Committee chairman Yuval Steinitz as saying that Iran might be only a year from developing a bomb. Meanwhile, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director-general and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammed ElBaradei is on the record as saying that, once Iran can enrich uranium in quantity, making an actual bomb would only take "a few months." And, in August 2005, the Washington Post reported that the new U.S. National Intelligence Estimate "projected that Iran is about a decade away from manufacturing [sufficient highly enriched uranium] for a nuclear weapon, roughly doubling the previous estimate of five years." In such circumstances it is small wonder if the public is confused, wondering whether some officials are exaggerating the potential danger of a nuclear-armed Iran while others seem to be almost irresponsibly unconcerned. In fact, the statements above are not mutually inconsistent, reflecting instead the discrepancy between hard fact and plausible interpretation. Since Iran's controversial uranium enrichment technology was initially acquired from Pakistan, an examination of that country's progress toward a nuclear bomb is both worthwhile and illuminating.
  • Topic: Security, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, Iran, Washington, Middle East, Tehran
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt, Jeffrey White, Matt Sherman
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 28, 2006, Jeffrey White, Matt Sherman, and Michael Eisenstadt addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Jeffrey White, the Berrie Defense Fellow at The Washington Institute, spent thirty-four years with the Defense Intelligence Agency. Matt Sherman recently returned from Iraq after serving for two years as the senior coalition advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior. During his tenure, he counseled four interior ministers and was the lead coordinator for policy on Iraqi police services. Michael Eisenstadt is director of The Washington Institute's Military and Security Studies Program, and is the coauthor, with Jeffrey White, of the Institute Policy Focus, Assessing Iraq's Sunni Arab Insurgency. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Washington
  • Author: John Vines
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 13, 2006, Lt. Gen. John Vines addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. General Vines served until January 2006 as commander of the Multinational Corps–Iraq (MNC–I). The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Washington, Middle East
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Iran's nuclear program presents one more issue on which Washington sees Middle East developments in a different light than does the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government in Turkey. Since coming to power in November 2002, AKP leaders have pursued rapprochement with Damascus and enhanced dialogue with Iran. In March 2006, the AKP welcomed Hamas leaders in Ankara. It is surprising that Turkey, a traditional bastion of Western policies in the Middle East, is promoting close ties with anti-Western actors that have hurt Turkey for decades—Syria provided safe haven to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and Iran supported the PKK and radical Islamist terrorists. Why do the Turkish people not resent such policies? The Iraq war and the U.S. agenda for political transformation in the Middle East have clashed with the Turkish people's desire to preserve the Middle Eastern political landscape. What is more, U.S. inaction against the PKK's Qandil enclave in Northern Iraq is angering most Turks in the way Syrian and Iranian support for the PKK upset them in the 1990s. Turkish confusion and anger toward the United States stands in sharp contrast with the improved image of Syria and Iran in Turkey. Meanwhile, with AKP discussing Middle Eastern politics in terms of Islamic codes, some Turks now identify with the region through Islam and not their national identity. The challenge for Washington is to find a way to prevent Turkey's popular slide away from the United States.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Washington, Turkey, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Syria