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  • Author: Princeton N. Lyman, Robert M. Beecroft
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Special envoys or representatives (SE/SRs) have been used by nearly every administration to address high-stakes conflicts. They are most useful when a conflict situation is of major importance to the United States, has strong regional as well as bilateral aspects, and exceeds the State Department's capacity to address it. To be effective, an SE/SR must be recognizably empowered by the president and the secretary of state, have clear mandates, and enjoy a degree of latitude beyond normal bureaucratic restrictions. While the secretary of state needs to be actively engaged in the conflict resolution process, the envoy should be sufficiently empowered to ensure that the secretary's interventions are strategic. Chemistry matters: in minimizing tensions between the SE/SR and the relevant State Department regional bureau and with ambassadors in the field, in overcoming State- White House rivalries over policy control, and in mobilizing support of allies. There are no “cookie cutter” solutions to overlapping responsibilities and the envoy's need for staff and resources; rather, mutual respect and flexibility are key. Senior State Department officials have the required skills for assignments as SE/SRs. Enhancing the department's resources and reinforcing the ranks of senior department posi¬tions would increase such appointments and the department's capacity to support them.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Frances Z. Brown
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The U.S. military and civilian surge into Afghanistan starting in late 2009 aimed to stabilize the country through interconnected security, governance, and development initiatives. Despite policymakers’ claims that their goals for Afghan governance were “modest,” the surge’s stated objectives amounted to a transformation of the subnational governance landscape. Three years later, the surge has attained localized progress, but it has not achieved the strategic, sustainable “game change” in Afghan subnational governance it sought. The surge has not met these objectives because its success depended upon three initial U.S. assumptions that proved unrealistic. First, surge policy assumed that governance progress would accrue as quickly as security progress, with more governance-focused resources compensating for less time. Second, surge policy assumed that “bottom-up” progress in local governance would be reinforced by “top-down” Afghan government structures and reforms. Third, surge policy assumed that “absence of governance” was a key universal driver for the insurgency, whereas in some areas, presence of government became a fueling factor. Once the surge was in motion, other miscalculations emerged: the confusion of discrete successes with replicable progress, the mistaking of individuals’ improvements with institution building, the confusion of “local” with “simple,” and the overreliance on technological solutions to address problems that were fundamentally political in nature. As the surge draws down, the U.S-Afghan Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement represents a promising opportunity for longer-term strategic planning. As the international community moves to transition, it should exert its remaining leverage to impact select systemic issues—such as by resolving district council makeup, improving line ministries’ recurring services, and bolstering provincial administrations—rather than tactical-level ones. The international community should also prioritize a few key, attainable efforts, such as providing training that is consistent with current Afghan government functions, while avoiding creating additional structures. Finally, all the usual Afghan local governance recommendations still apply: resolving Afghanistan’s subnational challenges requires long-term commitment and systematic execution.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Insurgency, Governance
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Asia
  • Author: Sean Kane
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The two rising powers in the Middle East—Turkey and Iran—are neighbors to Iraq, its leading trading partners, and rapidly becoming the most influential external actors inside the country as the U.S. troop withdrawal proceeds. Although there is concern in Washington about bilateral cooperation between Turkey and Iran, their differing visions for the broader Middle East region are particularly evident in Iraq, where a renewal of the historical Ottoman-Persian rivalry in Mesopotamia is likely as the dominant American presence fades. Turkey aims for a robust Iraqi political process in which no single group dominates, sees a strong Iraq as contributing to both its own security and regional stability, and is actively investing in efforts to expand Iraqi oil and gas production to help meet its own energy needs and fulfill its goal of becoming the energy conduit from the Middle East to Europe. Iran prefers a passive neighbor with an explicitly sectarian political architecture that ensures friendly Shiite-led governments; sees a strong Iraq as an inherent obstacle to its own broader influence in the region and, in the nightmare scenario, once again possibly a direct conventional military threat; and looks askance at increased Iraqi hydrocarbon production as possible competition for its own oil exports. Baghdad meanwhile believes that it can become a leader in the Middle East but is still struggling to define an inclusive national identity and develop a foreign policy based on consensus. In its current fractured state, Iraq tends to invites external interference and is subsumed into the wider regional confrontation between the Sunni Arab defenders of the status quo and the “resistance axis” led by Shiite Iran. Turkey has an opening in Iraq because it is somewhat removed from this toxic Arab-Persian divide, welcomes a strong Iraq, and offers the Iraqi economy integration with international markets. Ankara could now allay Iraqi Shiite suspicions that it intends to act as a Sunni power in the country and not allow issues on which Turkish and Iraqi interests deviate to set the tone for their relationship. The U.S. conceptualization of an increased Turkish influence in Iraq as a balance to Iran's is limited and could undermine Turkey's core advantages by steering it towards a counterproductive sectarian approach. A more productive U.S. understanding is of Turkey as a regional power with the greatest alignment of interests in a strong, stable, and selfsufficient country that the Iraqis want and that the Obama administration has articulated as the goal of its Iraq policy. On the regional level, a strong and stable Iraq is a possible pivot for Turkish and Iranian ambitions, enabling Ankara and hindering Tehran. Washington may well have its differences with Turkey's new foreign policy of zero problems with its neighbors, but the Turkish blend of Islam, democracy, and soft power is a far more attractive regional template than the Iranian narrative of Islamic theocracy and hard power resistance. The United States should therefore continue to welcome increased Turkish-Iraqi economic, trade, and energy ties and where possible support their development as a key part of its post-2011 strategy for Iraq and the region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Imperialism, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Wu Xinbo
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In an era of increased economic interdependence and shared security issues, it is vital that China and the United States become genuine partners, based not on shared ideology or traditional geopolitical interests, but on the needs of global governance. This, however, requires both countries to respect the other's legitimate core interests; if they do not, the resulting distrust and misinterpretation of intentions make cooperation less likely. To date, China has emphasized protection of its core interests, while the United States has emphasized developing areas of common interest while maintaining its expansive approach to foreign policy. This difference in emphasis has set up both areas of friction and possibilities for greater interaction. China's interests in Taiwan, Tibet, and Xinjiang lies at the heart of its national security concerns and their management is considered fundamental to the country's survival and development. As China has declared, continuing U.S. involvement with these issues is viewed as a challenge to China's core interests. If the United States eases its policies toward China's core interests, this could, in turn, encourage China to respect U.S. core interests and foster cooperation as China's material power and international influence are both growing. Developing common interests, meanwhile, can create more momentum for the two countries to manage and resolve their differences. Potential areas for successful cooperation include building a permanent peace mechanism on the Korean Peninsula; helping to secure strong, sustainable, and balanced global economic growth; and bringing about a global arrangement on creating an international environmental regime.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Taiwan, Sinai Peninsula
  • Author: Graciana del Castillo
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The longest war and one of the largest relief efforts in U.S. history- in Afghanistan and Haiti, respectively-are testing the cost-effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance in conflictravaged or disaster-torn countries. U.S.-led economic reconstruction in both countries is clearly off track and becoming increasingly costly and unpopular-both at home and in the respective countries. Reconstruction zones (RZs), consisting of two distinct but linked areas to ensure synergies between them-a local-production reconstruction zone (LRZ) producing for local consumption and an export-oriented reconstruction zone (ERZ) producing exclusively for export- could be used to replace the fragmented way aid is provided to these countries with an integrated strategy for economic reconstruction. With an appropriate legal and regulatory framework, ERZs-operating as free-trade zones- could create appropriate links to the national economy as well as positive externalities or spillovers. Such a framework would avoid the problems created by these zones operating as enclaves in Haiti in the past. By targeting aid to provide adequate infrastructure and services within the RZs at a manageable scale, countries could jump-start their productive sectors and create jobs and entrepreneurship in agriculture, light manufacturing, and services, both for domestic consumption and for exports. By creating dynamic and inclusive growth, RZs could help countries stand on their own feet, consolidate peace, and overcome the unsustainable aid dependency to which they have grown accustomed.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Humanitarian Aid, War, Natural Disasters, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Caribbean
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The top concern for both Riyadh and Damascus remains blowback from Iraq: the ascendance of ethnic and sectarian identity and the spread of Islamist militancy. The need to contain this threat is the dominant force that shapes their relations with Iraq. Both Syria and Saudi Arabia have a vital interest in ensuring that Iraq's emerging political order is inclusive of Sunni Arab Iraqis, who have not yet been fully incorporated into Iraqi institutions. Syria and Saudi Arabia do not look at Iraq in isolation, nor do they assign it top priority among their foreign policy concerns. For them, Iraq is merely one element in a comprehensive view encompassing other regional players (including the U.S. and Iran) and other regional crises, particularly the Arab-Israeli conflict. Lingering resentment and bitterness toward Washington is now mixed with intense curiosity and modest optimism about President Barack Obama. Saudis still bristle when recalling how the Bush Administration sidelined Riyadh on Iraqi matters; as do Syrians, who believe the previous administration was intent on isolating and undermining Damascus. Iraq remains very much isolated in its neighborhood. Recent Progress on regional cooperation notwithstanding, these two neighbors are still focused more on containment than engagement.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Ethnic Conflict, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Daniel Brumberg, Eriks Berzins
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: On February 23, 2009, the Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), together with the United Nations Association-USA and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, held a roundtable discussion among top Middle East experts and former United States Government officials. Held at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, the meeting's purpose was to discuss prospects for creating a diplomatic framework through which the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran can address issues of common concern in the Middle East and South Asia, and in so doing, advance an engagement dynamic that might eventually open the doors for rapprochement between the two countries.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Foreign Policy, Peace Studies, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Asia, United Nations
  • Author: Leonard S. Rubenstein
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The stabilization and reconstruction of states emerging from conflict has gained increasing attention in U.S. foreign policy as means to promote well-governed states, avoid future conflict and alleviate the enduring human suffering from war. Over the last two decades, stabilization and reconstruction initiatives supported by the United States and other donors have sometimes included investments in re-establishing – or in some cases, establishing for the first time – a system of health services for the population. Despite the knowledge generated and the encouraging outcomes of many of these programs, however, and the increasing attention to and financial commitments to global health in U.S. foreign assistance, the place and priority of health reconstruction as part of post-conflict U.S. stabilization initiatives remain undefined.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Humanitarian Aid, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Barbara Slavin
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iran has been a significant player in the Middle East, influencing and being influenced by its neighbors since long before the advent of the petrodollar or the Islamic revolution of 1979. But in the past five years, Iran's regional power has expanded considerably. Benefit - ing from Bush administration policies—especially the toppling of Saddam Hussein—as well as record oil prices, Iran has deepened its relationships with militant factions in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine and accelerated a nuclear program that could give it the ability to make atomic weapons within the next few years. President Bush, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and other administration officials have repeatedly labeled Iran a major, if not the major, threat to U.S. interests and U.S. allies in the Middle East. Yet Iran's reach remains constrained by an open-ended U.S. military presence in the region, domestic weakness, and historic divisions between Arabs and Persians, Sunnis and Shiites, and among Shiites. Though happy to take advantage of power vacuums, Iran neither wants nor is able to recreate the Persian Empire, nor is it about to become a second Soviet Union. As Mohammad Atrianfar, a veteran publisher of Iranian reformist newspapers, said in a March interview in Tehran, “We are not going to stretch our legs beyond the capacity of our carpets.”
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Robert M. Perito
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Section 1207 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of FY 2006 and FY 2007 authorized the Defense Department (DOD) to provide up to $200 million over two years in funds, services, and defense articles to the State Department (DOS) for security, reconstruction, and stabilization. The DOD transferred over $99 million in Section 1207 assistance to the DOS to fund projects in Haiti ($20m), Somalia ($25m), Nepal ($10m), Colombia ($4m), trans- Sahara Africa ($15m), Yemen ($8.8m), and Southeast Asia ($16.9m). Congress's intent in authorizing this program was to jump start the new State Department Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization. It was also to promote a “whole of government” approach to security-assistance programs. After two years' experience, publication of principles and guidelines for 1207 project applications should solve problems resulting from a lack of awareness of the program and confusion over leadership and application procedures. Adding USAID to the decision-making Technical Advisory Committee should remove the largest source of interagency tension that has troubled the program. Greater clarity is needed concerning the relative weight of the program's priorities, which include security, counterterrorism, stabilization, and reconstruction and avoiding the need to deploy U.S. military forces. There is a need for the DOD and DOS to provide additional resources to embassies that are expected to complete a relatively complicated application form. There is also a need for the DOD to streamline the provision of funds so the money arrives in real time before circumstances change and projects cannot be implemented. Ultimately, the DOS and DOD need to honor the intent of Congress and request that Congress appropriate funds directly to the DOS for these projects.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Middle East, Central America
  • Author: Rend Al-Rahim Francke
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: People who live in the red zone have mixed experiences of the security situation. Residents of some “hot” neighborhoods of Baghdad say that the presence of Americans has a deterrent effect on militias, gangs and snipers—and thus gives comfort to citizens- - whereas Iraqi forces, including the police, army units, or pesh merga sent down from Kurdistan, do little to confront trouble-makers. For example, some neighborhoods within the larger Amiriya district have benefited from U.S. intervention, while others, such as Furat and Jihad, are still in conflict because U.S. forces have not intervened and Iraqi police and army do a poor job of stopping violence and intimidation. The higher U.S. profile is also credited for a decline in the number of suicide bombings and a decrease in mass sectarian killings and kidnappings in the city. Another factor contributing to a sense of greater safety in Baghdad is the success of U.S.-Iraqi force in the area south of Baghdad (the so-called Triangle of Death), where Sunni tribes have recently cooperated with U.S. forces. Residents of some neighborhoods said that for the first time in over a year they have been able to shop in their area in relative peace and stay out after dark.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Foreign Policy, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, America, Middle East, Baghdad