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  • Author: Catherine Powell
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The significant gains that Afghan women and girls have made since the 2001 U.S.-led military invasion and overthrow of the Taliban are endangered. Presidential elections and possible peace efforts with the Taliban raise uncertainties about whether the future leadership in Afghanistan will protect gender equality. Further, President Barack Obama's plan to completely draw down U.S. troops in the country by the end of 2016 risks withdrawing critical security protection, which has provided Afghan women and girls with increased safety and opportunities to participate in education, employment, the health system, politics, and civil society. With these political and security transitions underway, the United States should act now, in coordination with Afghanistan and its partners, to cement and extend the gains and prevent reversal.
  • Topic: Development, Education, Human Rights, Islam, Culture, Reform
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Central Asia
  • Author: John Campbell
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The April 2014 kidnapping of more than 250 schoolgirls from Chibok in northern Nigeria by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram—and the lethargic response of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's government— provoked outrage. But the kidnapping is only one of many challenges Nigeria faces. The splintering of political elites, Boko Haram's revolt in the north, persistent ethnic and religious conflict in the country's Middle Belt, the deterioration of the Nigerian army, a weak federal government, unprecedented corruption, and likely divisive national elections in February 2015 with a potential resumption of an insurrection in the oil patch together test Nigeria in ways unprecedented since the 1966–70 civil war.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Terrorism, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Nigeria
  • Author: Seth G. Jones, Keith Crane
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Afghanistan will undergo three major transitions in 2014: from a Hamid Karzai–led government to one presumably headed by another president following the 2014 election; from a U.S.-led to an Afghan-led counterinsurgency; and from an economy driven by foreign expenditures on military support and assistance to one more reliant on domestic sources of growth, as the United States and other countries reduce their presence. The United States and its allies will need to shape each of these transitions in ways that safeguard their interests.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Islam, Terrorism, War, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Author: F. Gregory Gause III
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: There is arguably no more unlikely U.S. ally than Saudi Arabia: monarchical, deeply conservative socially, promoter of an austere and intolerant version of Islam, birthplace of Osama bin Laden and fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers. Consequently, there is no U.S. ally less well understood. Many U.S. policymakers assume that the Saudi regime is fragile, despite its remarkable record of domestic stability in the turbulent Middle East. “It is an unstable country in an unstable region,” one congressional staffer said in July 2011. Yet it is the Arab country least affected in its domestic politics by the Arab upheavals of 2011. Many who think it is unstable domestically also paradoxically attribute enormous power to it, to the extent that they depict it as leading a “counterrevolution” against those upheavals throughout the region. 2 One wonders just how “counterrevolutionary” the Saudis are when they have supported the NATO campaign against Muammar al-Qaddafi, successfully negotiated the transfer of power from Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen, and condemned the crackdown on protestors by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, and how powerful they are when they could do little to help their ally Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Islam, Oil, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Daniel Markey
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: India faces the real prospect of another major terrorist attack by Pakistan-based terrorist organizations in the near future. Unlike the aftermath of the November 2008 attack on Mumbai, in which 166 people died, Indian military restraint cannot be taken for granted if terrorists strike again. An Indian retaliatory strike against terrorist targets on Pakistani soil would raise Indo-Pakistani tensions and could even set off a spiral of violent escalation between the nuclear-armed rivals. Given Washington's effort to intensify pressure on al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated militants operating from Pakistani territory, increased tensions between India and Pakistan would harm U.S. interests even if New Delhi and Islamabad stop well short of the nuclear threshold because it would distract Pakistan from counterterror and counterinsurgency operations, jeopardize the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, and place new, extreme stresses on Islamabad.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, South Asia, Washington, India, New Delhi, Mumbai
  • Author: Katherine J. Almquist
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Sudan faces the prospect of renewed violence between north and south over the next twelve to eighteen months. Under the terms of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended Sudan's bloody civil war, which claimed two million lives and displaced four million more, a referendum in southern Sudan must be held by January 2011 to determine whether it remains united with the north or secedes from it. Given that popular sentiment in the south overwhelmingly favors secession, two basic scenarios are conceivable: the south secedes peacefully through a credible referendum process, or the CPA collapses and the south fights for independence. There is no scenario in which the south remains peacefully united with the north beyond 2011. Further complicating prospects for averting renewed violence are the ongoing conflict in Darfur and potential conflicts in other marginalized areas of the north. The violent secession of the south would hinder efforts to resolve these conflicts, as well as increase the prospect for greater internecine fighting among historic rivals in the south. The resulting significant loss of life and widespread political unrest would threaten regional stability and challenge U.S. interests in Africa.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Islam, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Sudan
  • Author: Richard N. Haass
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Asserting that the Iranian theocracy has become a "thugocracy," CFR President Richard N. Haass says the Iranian regime will likely prevail because of its use of force against the population. This makes the urgency of negotiating an end to the country's nuclear program more pronounced, and possibly more difficult, Haass says. "The Iranian challenge still exists, and may actually be somewhat worse," he says. "I'm talking about the nuclear program, their influence in Afghanistan and Iraq, their support of Hezbollah and Hamas. None of that has changed." Haass says the Obama administration "still ultimately has to try to deal with [Iran]" but adds: "It has become extraordinarily difficult to talk to this regime, and Iran has become in absolute and relative terms far more capable."
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East