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  • Author: Faysal Itani, Nathaniel Rosenblatt
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: As the conflict in Syria enters its fourth year, US policy has consistently failed to achieve its stated object: a negotiated political transition based on the mutual consent of the regime and opposition. The United States and its Western allies have focused on summits and high-level diplomacy as the most effective means to that laudable end. This approach ignores an essential missing ingredient: an opposition able to coordinate different anti-regime forces, exercise agency on their behalf, and provide decent local governance, without which Syrians will continue to suffer and fight irrespective of whether the regime is overthrown.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Syria, North America
  • Author: Pinar Dost-Niyego, Orhan Taner
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The recent events in Ukraine have revived the question of European dependence on Russian natural gas. The security of Europe's natural gas supply has been a consistently important issue in Russian-European Union (EU) relations. Russia provided 34 percent of EU gas in 2012, and Russian policies can have a direct impact on EU supplies. After the West-Russian confrontation over Ukraine, a lot has been said about the 'US shale gas revolution' and the possibilities of the United States becoming an energy exporter for future European energy needs. Although US energy independence seems to promise new perspectives for future European energy security, as well as for the balance of power in the Middle East, this is not for this decade. We cannot expect that the European Union would be able to cut off all of its energy relations with Russia, but we can foresee–or at least agree–that the European Union should diversify its natural gas supplies.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Economics, Energy Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Ukraine, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Faysal Itani
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Jihadists are steadily capturing territory and resources and establishing a state in Syria and Iraq. The most capable jihadist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), now controls swathes of territory, energy resources, and sophisticated military hardware in both countries. Although the extremists are currently occupied with fighting other nonregime armed groups and the Syrian and Iraqi regimes, these efforts are a means to an end: building a state from which to confront and target the United States, its allies, and its interests in the region. These jihadist groups also bring boundless suffering to the populations they control, and serve as a magnet for and inspiration to jihadists worldwide.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Jason Marczak, Peter Schechter
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Why is now the right moment to commission a poll on the US public's views toward Cuba and US-Cuba relations? Why is a new, nonpartisan Latin America center reaching out to grab the third rail of Latin American foreign policy in the United States? Both good questions. Sometimes in foreign policy, structural impediments or stark policy differences will stymie progress in a certain area. Relations with China could not proceed until the United States recognized a “one China” policy that forever downgraded US relations with Taiwan. An activist foreign policy with Africa was impossible until the United States denounced apartheid.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Reform
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, China, Cuba, Latin America
  • Author: Richard LeBaron
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Tension between the United States and its partners in the Gulf flared up visibly in the last several months, notably with Saudi Arabia's public displays of displeasure with the US approach to the Syria conflict, nervousness about an interim nuclear deal with Iran, and sharp differences over Egypt. Gulf distrust of US intentions and actions is nothing new, and is in no small part rooted in the Gulf states' deep frustration with how the United States executed the war in Iraq, which they perceive as placing Iraq under Iran's sphere of influence. But these latest tensions also point to a fundamental gap in expectations about the US role in the region and its commitment to security for the Gulf states.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt
  • Author: J. Peter Pham
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The links between the United States and Morocco are among the oldest of the US' diplomatic bonds. In 1777, Morocco's Sultan Mohammed III was the first foreign sovereign to recognize the independence of the thirteen former British colonies. Subsequently, the 1786 Treaty of Peace and Friendship—negotiated by Thomas Barclay and signed by Thomas Jefferson and John Adams—established diplomatic relations between the two countries. Modified in 1836 with the addition of various security and commercial protocols, the accord is still in force, making it the United States' longest unbroken treaty relationship. But as venerable as this history is, the strategic importance of Morocco to pursuing the Atlantic community's interests in the security and development of northwestern Africa has only recently become fully apparent to US policymakers and analysts. President Barack Obama's invitation to King Mohammed VI to make an official visit to the United States this year indicates the importance that both countries attach to this significant strategic relationship.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, North America, Morocco, Northwest Africa
  • Author: Barbara Slavin, Fatemah Aman
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: When compared to its often rocky relations with Arab countries to the west, the Islamic Republic of Iran has managed to retain largely cordial ties with its neighbors to the east. Historic linguistic, religious, and cultural connections have helped Iran keep its influence in South Asia and become a key trading partner despite US-led sanctions. Because of its strategic location on the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea, Iran provides India with access to Afghanistan and Central Asia that does not require transit through Pakistan. However, Iran and its neighbors, including Pakistan, face acute challenges such as scarce and poorly managed water resources, ethnic insurgencies, energy imbalances, and drug trafficking that require regional solutions.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Iran, South Asia, Central Asia, Middle East, Arabia, North America, Persia
  • Author: Barry Pavel, Magnus Nordenman
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The current turbulent global landscape recalls past key transition points in history such as 1815, 1919, 1945, and 1989, when the path forward was not so clear-cut and the world faced the possibility of very different global futures. As the US National Intelligence Council suggested in its landmark 2012 report, Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds, the transatlantic community is entering a new era in history that will pose a very different set of challenges and offer unprecedented opportunities. If it is to survive, the NATO Alliance must navigate this crucial period by fundamentally reconsidering its place in the global landscape as well as its future roles, missions, and functions from a strategic, long-term perspective. The world is changing rapidly, and if NATO does not adapt with foresight for this new era, then it will very likely disintegrate.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, NATO, Demographics, Economics, Politics, Military Strategy, Reform
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jeffrey Mankoff, Müjge Küçükkeleş
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Growing disorder throughout the Middle East has created the possibility for major changes to the status of Kurdish minorities in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Turkey's handling of its Kurdish population and its relations with Kurdish groups throughout the region are creating new challenges for US foreign policy and US-Turkish relations. US policy toward the Kurds remains subordinate to wider regional security interests. Officially, the United States does not support the establishment of an independent Kurdish state. In practice, however, US policy is often inconsistent: the United States backs Kurdish groups in some states while opposing them in others.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Ethnic Government, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, North America, Kurdistan
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: President Barack Obama faces a relatively short timeframe in which to peacefully address the most significant near-term foreign policy and security challenge for his second term. Due to Iran's persistent nuclear advances, Obama's repeated pledge that the United States would stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons could well be tested in the coming months, requiring intensified diplomatic engagement and careful calculation of the repercussions (regionally and globally) of a military response.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Humanitarian Aid, Sanctions, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Atlantic Ocean