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  • Author: Cornelius Adebahr
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: After years of tension, sanctions, and deadlocked negotiations, Hassan Rouhani, Iran's relatively moderate new president, has provided an opening for improved relations between the Islamic Republic and the West. While Rouhani has not ushered in a new Iran, Tehran has adopted a more conciliatory tone on its nuclear program since he took office. This shift is more than just talk, but the West will have to carefully calibrate its response to determine whether Rouhani's changed rhetoric signals the beginning of a new direction for Iran.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Islam, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Katherine Zimmerman
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Yemen is at a pivotal moment today, three years after the outbreak of popular protests, and the future of America's strategy against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is on the line. Yemen is in the midst of a political transition process that will eventually reform and decentralize the government. But the success of the effort is by no means assured. The reforms will not, in any case, address the deteriorating socioeconomic conditions that provide fertile ground for al Qaeda. Moreover, the central state, never fully able to exercise its sovereignty throughout the country, is weaker than it was before 2011. Opposition groups, which have turned to violence in the past, may still seek to form independent states of their own, potentially collapsing the fragile Yemeni state structure entirely. American interests are bound up in this process by the fact that AQAP is among the most virulent al Qaeda affiliates that poses a direct threat to the U.S. homeland. Syria, Iran, and other foreign and domestic policy issues are distracting the United States and its regional partners from sustained engagement in Yemen. Without international support, the country is much less likely to ride this transition process smoothly and our security interests will be severely harmed.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Mary Habeck
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Current national security policy is failing to stop the advancement of al Qaeda and its affiliates throughout the Muslim-majority world. While there are many reasons for this failure, three key issues stand out: a poor definition of the enemy, an incorrect view of its objectives, and the adoption of a strategy that will not defeat the latest evolution of this adaptive organization. If the US understood al Qaeda as it is: the leadership and field army of an insurgency with worldwide linkages that hopes to impose its extremist version of shari'a , govern territory, and overthrow the leaders of every Muslim- majority country, the current national strategy for combating al Qaeda would not be confined to counter - terrorism and attrition, but would instead make counterinsurgency-without large numbers of American ground forces-its main technique for confronting and defeating the organization.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Islam, Terrorism, Military Strategy, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • 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: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: President Obama has addressed the need to deal with Ukraine and the Islamic State in speeches and at the NATO Ministerial meeting Afghanistan, however, has become the forgotten war at a time when the Taliban is making steady gains, civilian casualties are rising there is still no effective Afghan government the Afghan economy is in crisis, and there still are no clear plans for any post 2014 aspect of transition.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Central Asia
  • Author: Frederick W. Kagan, Kimberly Kagan, Jessica D. Lewis
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The Islamic State poses a grave danger to the United States and its allies in the Middle East and around the world due to its location, resources, the skill and determination of its leaders and fighters, and its demonstrated lethality compared to other al Qaeda-like groups. In Syria, the Assad regime has lost control of the majority of the state, and the regime's atrocities and sectarianism have fueled violent Islamists, particularly ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra (JN). In Iraq, the government has lost control over large portions of territory that the Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish Peshmerga are incapable of retaking without significant foreign support. The Sunni Arabs of Iraq and Syria are the decisive human terrain. Al-Qaeda and similar groups can only flourish in distressed Sunni communities. Any strategy to counter al-Qaeda requires working with these communities, as the U.S. and the Iraqi government did during the Awakening in 2007. Having neglected Iraq and Syria, the U.S. currently lacks the basic intelligence and contextual understanding to build a strategy. The U.S. must adopt an iterative approach that tests assumptions, enriches understanding, builds partnerships with willing Sunni Arabs, and sets conditions for more decisive operations.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Richard Weitz
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Until a few years ago, the relationship between Washington, DC, and Ankara, Turkey, was perennially troubled and occasionally terrible. Turks strongly opposed the U.S. 2003 invasion of Iraq and have subsequently complained that the Pentagon was allowing Iraqi Kurds too much autonomy, leading to deteriorating security along the Iraq-Turkey border. Disagreements over how to respond to Iran's nuclear program, U.S. suspicions regarding Turkey's outreach efforts to Iran and Syria, and differences over Armenia, Palestinians, and the Black Sea further strained ties and contributed to further anti Americanism in Turkey. Now Turkey is seen as responding to its local challenges by moving closer to the West, leading to the advent of a “Golden Era” in Turkish U.S. relations. Barack Obama has called the U.S.-Turkish relationship a “model partnership” and Turkey “a critical ally.” Explanations abound as to why U.S.-Turkey ties have improved during the last few years. The U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq removed a source of tension and gave Turkey a greater incentive to cooperate with Washington to influence developments in Iraq. Furthermore, the Arab Awakening led both countries to partner in support of the positive agenda of promoting democracy and security in the Middle East. Americans and Turks both want to see democratic secular governments in the region rather than religiously sanctioned authoritarian ones. Setbacks in Turkey's reconciliation efforts with Syria, Iran, and other countries led Ankara to realize that having good relations with the United States helps it achieve core goals in the Middle East and beyond. Even though Turkey's role as a provider of security and stability in the region is weakened as a result of the recent developments in Syria and the ensuing negative consequences in its relations to other countries, Turkey has the capacity to recover and resume its position. Partnering with the United States is not always ideal, but recent setbacks have persuaded Turkey's leaders that they need to backstop their new economic strength and cultural attractiveness with the kind of hard power that is most readily available to the United States. For a partnership between Turkey and the United States to endure, however, Turkey must adopt more of a collective transatlantic perspective, crack down harder on terrorist activities, and resolve a domestic democratic deficit. At the same time, Europeans should show more flexibility meeting Turkey's security concerns regarding the European Union, while the United States should adopt a more proactive policy toward resolving potential sources of tensions between Ankara and Washington that could significantly worsen at any time.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Ethnic Conflict, Islam, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Paul Kamolnick
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Disrupting, dismantling, and ultimately defeating al-Qaeda-based, affiliated, and inspired terrorism is the declared policy of the U.S. Government (USG). Despite noteworthy success in attacking the al-Qaeda (AQ) terrorist network and securing the homeland from terrorist attack, the United States has yet to execute an effective methodology for countering radicalization and recruitment to AQ. This monograph proposes a distinct War of Deeds methodology for accomplishing this.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Defense Policy, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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: Andre LeSage
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: Despite its reputation for peace and stability in a troubled region, the East African country of Tanzania is experiencing a rising number of militant Islamist attacks that have targeted local Christian leaders and foreign tourists, as well as popular bars and restaurants. These attacks, which began in 2012, rarely make the headlines of international media. However, they should serve as a wake-up call for U.S. policymakers to increase short-term engagement with Tanzanian officials and support for Tanzanian security agencies to preempt the emergence of a more significant threat to U.S. and international interests in East Africa.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Terrorism, International Security
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Tanzania