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  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the sixth in a series of TRANSITION 2021 memos examining the Middle East and North Africa, Matthew Levitt reimagines the U.S. counterterrorism enterprise with a view to its long-term sustainability. Since the September 11 attacks, Washington has poured funding into a largely military-led response to terrorism, but today both Democrats and Republicans stress the need to end “forever” wars, focus limited resources on protecting the homeland, and lean more on foreign partners to address terrorism in their neighborhoods. Yet any shift in posture must seek a maximum return on the twenty-year U.S. investment in counterter­rorism while also keeping up with terrorists’ exploitation of new technologies, from drones to encrypted communication to social media. This will require finding areas of policy overlap between counterterrorism and Great Power competition, and disentangling U.S. counterterrorism budgets from the military budgets on which they have been grafted over the past two decades. More broadly, the author explains, “convincing partners to share more of the counterterrorism burden will require that Washington repair its damaged credibility and demonstrate the staying power to meet its alliance commitments.” In the coming weeks, TRANSITION 2021 memos by Washington Institute experts will address the broad array of issues facing the Biden-Harris administration in the Middle East. These range from thematic issues, such as the region’s strategic position in the context of Great Power competition and how to most effectively elevate human rights and democracy in Middle East policy, to more discrete topics, from Arab-Israel peace diplomacy to Red Sea security to challenges and opportunities in northwest Africa. Taken as a whole, this series of memos will present a comprehensive approach for advancing U.S. interests in security and peace in this vital but volatile region.
  • Topic: Security, Military Affairs, Counter-terrorism, Military Spending, 9/11
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Saud Al-Sharafat
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The pandemic has not ended terrorism in Jordan, and ISIS is still a significant threat. Last year’s abnormally low terrorist activity in Jordan could be interpreted as an indication that the threat of ISIS in the country has diminished significantly. Unfortunately, this is not the case; while there are several explanations for the low occurrence of terrorist attacks in Jordan in 2020, none of them point to a future in which ISIS does not continue to pose a threat to Jordanian security. On the contrary, the decrease in ISIS activity in Jordan last year was primarily a result of effective counterterrorism efforts, not the special circumstances of the pandemic or any other factor. Accordingly, Jordanian anti-terror institutions should not relax their guard. Rather, they should capitalize on their successes, expanding cooperation with their partners and enhancing their resources in combatting extremism. Jordanian security forces should be especially concerned with activities along their borders. There have been several recent international and UN reports that confirmed the rising activities of terrorist groups in countries that border Jordan. Iraq in particular has seen a recent rise in terrorist attacks, including two suicide bombings in Baghdad on January 21, 2021 that killed 32 people and injured 110 others. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks. In turn, ISIS's mounting activities in Iraq have led to increased terrorist activity in the Badia al-Sham region and the Jordanian Syrian-Iraqi border triangle, where terrorist militants move in small, highly mobile groups. This increase in activity has prompted Jordanian security forces to strengthen their presence on the borders with Iraq and Syria. Following a Russian air campaign in the Badia region in late February, in which Russian planes launched at least 130 air strikes in one day against terrorist groups in the area, Jordan started to strengthen and tightened its security presence on the borders to prevent infiltration of ISIS elements into Jordan. Russian strikes were especially targeted at ISIS, which extends between the governorates of Homs and Deir al-Zour at the border with Iraq.
  • Topic: Security, Counter-terrorism, Peace, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, Jordan
  • Author: Robert Satloff, Sarah Feuer
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Modest invest­ments of U.S. diplomatic capital, economic aid, and security assistance can help these three countries and advance American interests. In the third in a series of TRANSITION 2021 memos examining the Middle East and North Africa, Robert Satloff and Sarah Feuer look at the U.S. relationship with Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. All three countries are facing sharp challenges, from economic strains exacerbated by the pandemic to potential instability arising from the conflicts in Western Sahara and Libya. But this far corner of the region also offers strategic opportunities for the Biden administration to help these countries and, in turn, advance a range of key U.S. interests. “In contrast to many other areas of the Middle East, northwest Africa offers a realm in which relatively modest invest­ments of American diplomatic capital, economic aid, and security assistance can yield substantial returns, and the point of departure for the incoming administration’s bilateral engagement will, for the most part, be not one of tension but rather of opportunity,” write the authors. In the coming weeks, TRANSITION 2021 memos by Washington Institute experts will address the broad array of issues facing the Biden-Harris administration in the Middle East. These range from thematic issues, such as the region’s strategic position in the context of Great Power competition and how to most effectively elevate human rights and democracy in Middle East policy, to more discrete topics, from Arab-Israel peace diplomacy to Red Sea security to challenges and opportunities in northwest Africa. Taken as a whole, this series of memos will present a comprehensive approach for advancing U.S. interests in security and peace in this vital but volatile region.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Foreign Aid, Economy, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Algeria, North Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, United States of America
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt, David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Areas for especially timely U.S.-Israel cooperation include climate resilience, agtech, and medical research, as well as longstanding work in the military and security arenas. In the fifth in a series of TRANSITION 2021 memos examining the Middle East and North Africa, Michael Eisenstadt and David Pollock assess the multifaceted strengths of the U.S.-Israel partnership and its prospects for growth under the Biden administration. Areas for especially timely cooperation include climate resilience, agtech, and medical research, as well as longstanding work in the military and security arenas. Israel’s recent normalization deals with several Arab states only further widen the horizon. “Israel is a world-class innovator in technologies that will be critical to meeting future challenges, including artificial intelligence, information technology, and cybersecurity; sustainable water, food, and energy solutions; and high-tech medicine,” explain the authors. “All these areas are supportive of America’s foreign policy priorities.” In the coming weeks, TRANSITION 2021 memos by Washington Institute experts will address the broad array of issues facing the Biden-Harris administration in the Middle East. These range from thematic issues, such as the region’s strategic position in the context of Great Power competition and how to most effectively elevate human rights and democracy in Middle East policy, to more discrete topics, from Arab-Israel peace diplomacy to Red Sea security to challenges and opportunities in northwest Africa. Taken as a whole, this series of memos will present a comprehensive approach for advancing U.S. interests in security and peace in this vital but volatile region.
  • Topic: Security, Climate Change, International Cooperation, Alliance
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Farhan Zahid
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Pakistan’s restive Baluchistan province has experienced a fresh wave of nationalist-separatist terrorist attacks since 2019, with new targets indicating shifting trends. Baluch nationalist–separatist militant groups have not only ramped up their attacks, but also have changed strategy and formed a new alliance. The implications of this are a steep incline in attacks against the Pakistani security forces.
  • Topic: Security, Nationalism, Insurgency, Non State Actors, Islamism, Separatism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia
  • Author: Alice Billon-Galland
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: At the time of writing, the COVID-19 pandemic still wreaks havoc around the world. Its scale and duration, as well as the full social and economic impact of lockdowns and social distancing measures, are yet to be seen. Exactly how the pandemic and its aftermath will impact the defence policies of European states in the long-term remains uncertain for a while yet. However, some Europe-wide trends--economic strategic, and geopolitical--are already visible. These will impact how Europeans (re)think their security after the pandemic, and therefore have implications for defence planners, decision-makers and armed forces throughout the continent.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Geopolitics, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Claudia Major
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 crisis is teaching European countries that a pandemic can destabilize societies, the economy and political institutions to the same extent that military or hybrid threats do. However, while the pandemic's impact on European security seems massive, it is difficult to isolate the COVID-19 factor: what is uniquely pandemic-driven, and what is the result of other elements, such as the lack of US leadership, is not always easy to determine.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Institutions, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Stephen J. Mariano
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: NATO created the Strategic Direction South--the "Hub"--in 2017, in response to illegal migration into Europe from war-torn Libya, Syria, and Iraq, highlighting humanitarian and internal security concerns. As evidence began to emerge that criminal organizations and terrorist groups were leveraging migration flows, these fears coalesced with other security concerns, not only disrupting the stability of European societies but also threatening the security of European societies but also threatening the security of the Alliance. Eventually, NATO recognized that the situation was connected to deeper sources of instability and that solutions would require a comprehensive approach to the southernmost parts of "the South".
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Migration
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America
  • Author: Tina J. Park
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: As NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg puts it, North Korea remains a "global threat that requires a global rsponse". The threats posed by North Korea are arguably imminent, with the potential to cause serious harm to the security of NATO member states. Since 2006, North Korea has conducted six nuclear tests, in clear defiance of the Treaty on Non -Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) that the regime withdrew from in 2003. To date, the international community has failed to tame North Korea's nuclear ambitions, despite various diplomatic and political efforts. In addition to its nuclear capabilities, Pyongyang has made significant advances with conventional weapons, both chemical and biological, as well as with its cyber capabilities. North Korea's substantive linkages to China and Russia, and non-state terror groups like Hezbollah and Hamas in the Middle East, amplify their threats beyond the borders of the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Diplomacy, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Michael Ruhle
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: Environmental change is increasingly recognized as one of the major factors that will shape the global security environment. According to most experts, rising global temperatures will lead to rising sea levels and cause more extreme weather events, such as storms, flooding, droughts and wildfires. The firestorms that engulfed parts of Australia in late 2019 and early 2020, burning an area the size of Belgium and Denmark combined, and severely decimating that continent's wildlife, were a stark reminder of the force of these changes.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Climate Change, Environment
  • Political Geography: Global Focus