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  • Author: Mohsin Khan, Karim Merzan
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, a civil society group comprising the Tunisian General Labor Union; the Tunisian Union of Industry, Trade, and Handicrafts; the Tunisian Human Rights League; and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, October 9, 2015 "for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia." In a new Atlantic Council Issue Brief, "Tunisia: The Last Arab Spring Country," Atlantic Council Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East Senior Fellows Mohsin Khan and Karim Mezran survey the successes of Tunisia's consensus-based transition and the challenges that lie ahead. "The decision to award this year's Nobel Peace Prize to Tunisia's National Dialogue Quartet is an extremely important recognition of the efforts made by Tunisian civil society and Tunisia's political elite to reach a consensus on keeping the country firmly on the path to democratization and transition to a pluralist system," says Mezran. With the overthrow of the authoritarian regime of President Zine El Abedine Ben Ali in 2011, Tunisia embarked on a process of democratization widely regarded as an example for transitions in the region. The National Dialogue Conference facilitated by the Quartet helped Tunisia avert the risk of plunging into civil war and paved the way for a consensus agreement on Tunisia's new constitution, adopted in January 2014. In the brief, the authors warn that despite political successes, Tunisia is hampered by the absence of economic reforms. Facing the loss of tourism and investment following two terror attacks, Tunisia's economy risks collapse, endangering all of the painstaking political progress gained thus far. Unless the Tunisian government moves rapidly to turn the economy around, Tunisia risks unraveling its fragile transition.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Economics, Political Activism, Reform
  • Political Geography: Arab Countries, Tunisia
  • Author: Bilal Y. Saab, Barry Pavel
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: President Barack Obama's summit meeting with Gulf leaders at Camp David on May 14 will end in failure if the administration does not propose a substantial upgrade in US-Gulf security relations that is as bold and strategically significant as the nuclear agreement–and likely formal deal–with Iran. While the summit will not suddenly eliminate mistrust and resolve all differences, it presents an historic opportunity to put back on track a decades-old US-Gulf partnership that has served both sides and the region well, yet lately has experienced deep turbulence. Failure to strengthen these ties will have consequences, the most dramatic of which could be the acceleration of the regional order's collapse. In a March 2015 Atlantic Council report entitled Artful Balance: Future US Defense Strategy and Force Posture in the Gulf, we made the case for a mutual defense treaty between the United States and willing Arab Gulf partners. In this issue in focus, we offer a more comprehensive and detailed assessment of the risks, concerns, benefits, and opportunities that would be inherent in such a treaty. We recommend a gradualist approach for significantly upgrading US-Gulf security relations that effectively reduces the risks and maximizes the benefits of more formal US security commitments to willing Arab Gulf states.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Iran, Persian Gulf
  • Author: Olan Bilen, Mike Duane, Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Ilona Sologoub
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Since the Maidan revolution, the Ukrainian government has embarked on a comprehensive reform agenda. But almost two years since the revolution, reforms are still lacking in core areas. The most prominent achievements are the establishment of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau to fight high-level corruption, the introduction of a new police force in the cities of Kyiv, Odesa, and Lviv, the reform of the banking system, and the restructuring of the natural gas sector. However, there were few attempts to reform the civil service and businesses continue to claim that middle-and low-level employees at tax and customs agencies remain corrupt. The authors of "Ukraine: From Evolutionary to Revolutionary Reforms" warn that, if the Ukrainian government does not follow through with an ambitious reform agenda, public support for reforms will wane while dissatisfaction will increase, threatening political stability and the country's successful future. There is no time for slow evolutionary changes. Radical and revolutionary reforms are the only way to success.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Civil Society, Reform
  • Political Geography: Ukraine
  • Author: Mark Seip
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The United States and the Nordic states enjoy a strong, productive relationship. However, stability in the Nordic-Baltic area is under increasing stress, which has implications for both NATO and its partner members, Finland and Sweden. In "Nordic-Baltic Security and the US Role," the Atlantic Council's US Navy Senior Fellow Mark Seip argues that the United States must prioritize bolstering assurance among NATO members, principally the Baltic states. Additionally, the United States and NATO should enhance its capabilities through collaboration, leverage soft power instruments, and find mutuality between NATO and its key partners, Finland and Sweden. In doing so, the United States and the Nordic nations stand to solidify the gains of the thriving region and strengthen European security.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Politics
  • Political Geography: Nordic Nations
  • Author: Amy Hawthorne
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Three years into Egypt's post-Mubarak transition, the near-term prospects for democratization are bleak. The military-security alliance that ousted the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president, in July 2013 is consolidating power. Government repression against the Islamist opposition, and more recently against secular dissenters, is harsher and society is more polarized than in any point in recent memory.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Democratization, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North America, Egypt
  • Author: Duncan Pickard, Karim Mezran
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Among the many problems facing Libya's troubled transition to democracy is the challenge of constructing a state in a country with a legacy of weak institutions. Muammar al-Qaddafi's brutal forty-two-year dictatorship employed a policy of de-institutionalization, leaving the presence of the state feeble throughout the country. Those organs that were powerful, including the secret security apparatus, lost their leader with Qaddafi's fall in 2011, leaving a power vacuum that nonstate actors have scrambled to fill. Some of the most influential political groups in Libya today are militias formed during and after the revolution. Although some are loosely affiliated with the ministries of interior or defense, most, if not all, do not demonstrate any particular loyalty to the government. Militias have kidnapped the prime minister (the militia responsible called it an “arrest”), assassinated judges and police officers, physically occupied the office of the justice minister, and engaged in an urban battle in Tripoli. They also seek to advance their political interests—which vary, but include influence over officials, rent seeking, and some Islamist agendas—with threats against ministries or officials. And yet the state relies on militias to provide essential security services such as running checkpoints and protecting the airport because no ministry force is up to the task. The ascendancy of these militias points to two troubling realities: the state lacks a monopoly over the use of force and the country faces an ongoing deterioration of the rule of law.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Reform
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa
  • Author: Bill Brownell, Scott Stone
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The release of the second installment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fifth Assessment Report on March 31, 2014, provoked the usual calls for urgent and immediate action in response to climate change, including in particular at the international level in the form of a new climate treaty built upon domestic regulatory regimes. Irrespective of whether these calls for action are overly strident or carefully measured, the law plays a central role. In almost any discussion, the breadth and stringency of national and sub-national regulations and the extent to which a treaty can make them “legally binding” assumes paramount importance. But this emphasis on law is misplaced, because it runs headlong into the hard reality that would confront any international climate agreement in the US Senate. And given the soaring use of coal around the world, it also draws attention and resources away from far more achievable opportunities to develop and deploy advanced coal technologies that would allow the world's most abundant, accessible, and affordable energy resource to meet critical energy needs in balance with each country's environmental, economic, and security priorities.
  • Topic: Security, Climate Change, Economics, Energy Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, 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: James Hasik, Byron Callan
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Just what makes a military technology disruptive? How does one know who will disrupt, and who will be disrupted? How can we aim to develop disruptive technologies, and how can we spot them before others use them to disrupt our security? Recent studies suggest that five factors matter most in developing those technologies into real military capabilities: financial resources, industrial readiness, systems integration, cultural receptivity, and organizational capacity. Prototyping and field experimentation leverage all these factors, and help make the potentially disruptive ultimately decisive in war.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Science and Technology, Military Strategy, Governance
  • 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: Valerie Stocker
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The fall of Muammar Qaddafi's regime in 2011 after four decades of authoritarian rule gave rise to numerous armed groups competing for territory and influence. More than three years since the uprising began, persistent instability threatens not only Libya's fragile democratic transition but also security in North Africa and the Sahel zone. Tripoli is at the center of a power struggle among competing political factions. Benghazi is the scene of ever more brutal political violence, which now risks drawing the country into a civil war. Then there is the southwestern province of Fezzan, Libya's "Wild West," where human trafficking and smuggling thrive and transnational jihadists hide.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Governance, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa
  • Author: J. Peter Pham, Ricardo Rene Laremont
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Africa is home to seven of the world's ten fastest-growing economies. By 2050, the continent's population is expected to overtake India's and China's, doubling to two billion people. Moreover, those two billion Africans will be younger than their counterparts in every other region of the world and will account for one in four workers globally by mid-century. Africa's rich endowment of natural resources, including about 30 percent of the world's known reserves of minerals and 60 percent of the planet's uncultivated arable land, is already well-known to investors.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Morocco
  • Author: Karim Mezran, Mohamed Eljarh
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The French intellectual Jean Baudrillard once said, “It is always the same: once you are liberated, you are forced to ask who you are.” In the case of Libya, this question should have been at the center of every political initiative immediately following the collapse of Muammar Qaddafi's regime. Libya's new leadership had the opportunity to convene a national dialogue in an effort to explore questions of national identity and a new vision for a national mission. Unfortunately, the Libyan elites who emerged from the 2011 civil war did not make national dialogue a priority, opting to appease local forces—armed and political—rather than to undertake the difficult but critical task of nation-building.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa, Libya
  • Author: Barbara Slavin, Jason Healey
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: When most people think of the "military option" against Iran, they imagine a US attack that takes out Iran's most important known nuclear facilities at Natanz, Fordow, Arak, and Isfahan. They expect Iran to retaliate by closing the Strait of Hormuz, sending missiles into Israel, and/or supporting terrorist attacks on US personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Topic: Security, Science and Technology, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, North America
  • Author: Celeste Wallander
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The Obama administration's goals for arms control and security cooperation with Russia are the right ones, but they cannot be achieved as long as US-Russian strategic stability is in question. Unless leaders in both capitals confront the new requirements for strategic stability in the twenty-first century, they will fail to seize the opportunity for further arms reductions and enhanced national security.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States
  • 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: Banning Garrett
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: “This is some of the best driving I've ever done,” Steve Mahan joked at the end of a ride in the Google self-driving car. Mahan's 2012 drive—to buy tacos for lunch and pick up his laundry—was especially remarkable since he is 95 percent blind. His hands-free test drive (accompanied by Morgan Hill Police Department Sergeant Troy Hoefling and recorded in a YouTube video) would have been impossible not only without advanced sensors, computers, and software, but also without big data, which both enabled development of the driverless car and inform its movement along the streets and freeways of California. The Google car itself gathers nearly 1 gigabyte of data per second as it scans and analyzes its environment. Think of the potential data gathering of 100 million self-driving cars on the roads of the United States. How will that data—100 million gigabytes per second—be transmitted, stored, and analyzed?
  • Topic: Security, Human Rights, Intelligence, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: United States, California
  • Author: Douglas Townsend
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Upon its conclusion in December 2011, the main part of the sixty-sixth United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 66) session adopted forty-seven resolutions and five decisions in its continuing effort to encourage a more flexible approach to revitalizing the multilateral disarmament process.
  • Topic: Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, International Trade and Finance, Nuclear Weapons, Bilateral Relations, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: United States, Central Asia