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  • Author: David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As the United States prepares to withdraw its 2,000 troops from Syria, it has one last essential mission to accomplish. Those U.S. forces have fought successfully, hand in hand, with 60,000 Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) against Islamic State terrorists for the past four years. And President Trump’s latest statement about this, on January 2, noted his desire to protect these Kurds. So, despite all obstacles, the United States should still try to protect that brave and loyal militia in the short term, and secure a safer medium-term future for the Syrian Kurds and their local partners.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Author: Thomas Renard
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: The European Union is increasingly active on cyber issues internationally, guided by its various foreign policy documents and strategies, including its 2013 Cybersecurity Strategy and the 2015 Council conclusions on cyber-diplomacy. In line with these documents, the EU has deepened its bilateral ties with a number of key countries, resulting in a network of cyber partnerships. This article explores these partnerships in depth. It seeks to explain the different types of purposes that they fulfil, and the various mechanisms that underpin them, based on an ambitious mapping exercise. In essence, it is argued that the EU’s cyber partnerships aim not only for bilateral cooperation, but also for ‘reflexive’ results (whereby the EU aim to develop its cyber and diplomatic agency) and ‘structural’ results (whereby bilateral partnerships aim to strengthen the multilateral fabric and global internet governance). Once assessed against these multiple and intertwined purposes, these cyber partnerships appear more useful than meets the eye.
  • Topic: International Security, Cybersecurity
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Çağlar Açıkyıldız
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: The events in Syria since the beginning of the conflict in 2011 have been a source of concern for the international community. The ongoing civil war has caused many military and civilian casualties. Reports on the state of the country indicate that both government forces and rebels have committed both crimes against humanity and war crimes. What began as a crisis in March 2011, turned into a civil war between the Syrian government and armed opposition groups and has resulted in over 465,000 deaths. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), as of April 2017, there were more than 5 million Syrian refugees and at least 6.3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs). Over 13.5 million Syrians remain in dire need of humanitarian assistance, with 4.5 million people in inaccessible areas, including at least 419,900 people trapped in 10 besieged communities. Besides, Islamic State has been very effective in the country especially since 2014. The Islamic State took control of some land and equally committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. Therefore, Syria demonstrates a clear case of a state unable or unwilling to protect its own citizens; hence, enough ground to invoke Responsibility to Protect (R2P) to save civilian lives in Syria. However, it is difficult to assume that the international community has a solution to the problem. In this paper, the validity of the R2P and problems of its implementation in the Syrian case are discussed.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Author: Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: Turkey’s projection of its military presence in the Middle East has become a source of worry to the “moderate” Arab states and specifically to Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Omar Shaban
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: PalThink For Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: For four consecutive Fridays, tens of thousands of Gaza’s gather close which began on Friday, 30/3/2018 to the Gaza border with Israel what became known as “Gaza Great Return March, GRM. According to several reports, it can be said that the most the important motive for the Great Return Marches, are the tragic conditions in which Gaza’s live. Gaza has been besieged for more than 11 years. It suffers from a severe Palestinian division, and its people are suffering from a shortage of electricity, water scarcity, and inability to travel. Not to forget the three previous wars that destroyed everything in the Gaza Strip. Not to mention the failure of both options; the peace process led by the PA and armed resistance led by Hamas. The GRM was driven by the siege, the high level of unemployment, the ongoing consequences, up to today of the three wars, and the prevention of freedom of movement. However, raising the slogan “right of return” for the march was a unifying factor that helps to mobilize tens of thousands of participants. This slogan goes beyond any ideologies or socio-political issues. The march has achieved part of the goals, which is to have peaceful movements that begin with the commemoration of Land Day on March 30 till May, 15, the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba.
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Palestine
  • Author: Mark Furness, Julian Bergmann
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: The question of how the EU should finance peacebuilding in developing countries has challenged policy-makers and pundits for many years. At one level this is a technical and legal issue of budget lines and financing rules. It nevertheless touches on the much deeper political and even moral issues of whether the EU should use development aid to finance security provision, how best the EU can respond to the legitimate needs of partners in conflict-affected countries and what kind of civil and/or military engagements the EU can support as part of its external relations. The question has come to resemble the proverbial can being kicked along the road by successive European Commissioners, Council working groups and parliamentary committees. It has come to a head again because intra-EU negotiations for the next Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027 are starting in earnest. This time, a sensible proposal is on the table which can potentially provide a pragmatic and workable solution, at least for a while.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Samar Batrawi, Ana Uzelac
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: Syrian society is more socially, politically and geographically fragmented than ever before. None of the social problems that caused the 2011 protests have been resolved. Nevertheless, during recent months the Syrian regime has been trying to foster the image that Syria is entering a post-war phase in which a unified and stable Syria can flourish under President Bashar al-Assad. The fact that more than half of the country’s pre-war population is living in exile and has no part in this new social contract of sorts is conveniently omitted from the image presented of this ‘new’ Syria. These refugees will likely continue to live in precarious conditions, with few prospects for safe and voluntary return.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Security
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Author: James M. Acton
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: This policy brief is based on “Escalation through Entanglement: How the Vulnerability of Command-and- Control Systems Raises the Risks of Inadvertent Nuclear War,” which appears in the summer 2018 issue of International Security.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Paul Holtom, Irene Pavesi
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Small Arms Survey
  • Abstract: The 2018 Small Arms Trade Transparency Barometer (the Barometer) identifies the most and least transparent of 49 major small arms exporters, based on their reporting of their arms-trading activities undertaken in 2015.1 For the first time the Barometer assesses Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and UN Programme of Action on small arms (PoA) reports to determine small arms exporters’ levels of transparency. These sources provide new information for the Barometer’s assessment of national transfer control systems, while ATT annual reports on arms exports reveal new data compared to national arms export reports; United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database (UN Comtrade) data, and the UN Register of Conventional Arms (UN Register). Despite the increase in reports containing information on national transfer control systems and small arms exports assessed by the Barometer, no major exporter received full marks for transparency.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs, Arms Trade
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Wolfram Lacher
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Small Arms Survey
  • Abstract: Since the arrival of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli in March 2016, four large local militias have gradually divided up the capital between themselves. Though nominally loyal to the government, they now exert a degree of influence over state institutions and resources that is unprecedented in post-Qaddafi Libya. This Paper examines the rise of a militia cartel in Tripoli, and concludes that the situation is untenable, as it risks provoking a major new conflict over Tripoli fought by those who have been excluded from access to the state and impedes efforts to establish a meaningful unity government
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Libya
  • Author: Jovana Carapic, Paul Holtom
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Small Arms Survey
  • Abstract: This Briefing Paper analyses the emergence of a life-cycle management of ammunition (LCMA) system in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) during the period 2012–16, with reference to four of the five elements of the Small Arms Survey’s LCMA model: national ownership, planning, stockpile management, and disposal. The paper examines the key challenges faced by the international community and BiH government in addressing the safety and security risks posed by BiH’s post-conflict ammunition surplus, focusing on the international community’s role in facilitating the development, and transfer to national ownership, of an LCMA system. The paper notes ‘ten lessons learned’ that could apply to other post-conflict countries. These lessons stress the importance of building sustainable national capacity in states receiving international assistance. Training, infrastructure, and operating standards need to be country specific to achieve this goal and reduce the risk of unplanned explosions at munitions sites (UEMS) and diversion in the long term.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: Khashoggi’s assassination has seriously eroded Saudi Arabia’s reputation, interests and international relations. This puts the kingdom’s allies and MBS boosters in a tight spot, wondering if they should disassociate themselves from the kingdom to best preserve their own reputations.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Signe Marie Cold-Ravnkilde, Peter Albrecht, Rikke Haugegaard
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Peacekeepers in the UN stabilization mission in Mali (MINUSMA) operate under very difficult conditions, especially in the outskirts of the mission. The recent jihadist attack on a military base in Gao in northern Mali, killing 60 and wounding more than 100, is the latest example of how dangerous working in this part of the country is. This policy brief, based on fieldwork in Mali, analyses the challenges to the mission of supplying fuel, food and water to these areas. In doing so, it describes the inequality that exists between African and non-African soldiers.
  • Topic: United Nations, International Security, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Mali
  • Author: Andrew J. Tabler
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In this new Transition 2017 paper, Institute expert Andrew J. Tabler argues that Syria remains de facto partitioned, making the establishment of safe zones in non-Assad-controlled areas the Trump administration's most expedient course of action. Moreover, it would further Washington's cause to drive a wedge into the country's Russia-Iran alliance, and both isolate and pressure the Assad regime. If Washington's objectives in Syria are to defeat U.S.-designated terrorist groups and stem the outflow of refugees, President Bashar al-Assad is under no circumstances the right person to entrust with these missions. Simply in practical terms, he lacks the manpower to retake and hold the two-thirds of Syrian territory outside his control any time soon, despite having sufficient support from Russia and Iran to maintain control in large parts of the country. But more important, Assad is an avowed adversary of the West, undeserving of its cooperation.
  • Topic: International Relations, Civil War, International Security, International Affairs, Neoimperialism
  • Political Geography: Russia, America, Iran, Syria
  • Author: Lori Plotkin Boghardt, Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Trump administration has an opportunity to reset, tighten, and maximize America's strategic relations with the Gulf states. For the United States, expanded security cooperation and coordination could be a force multiplier in campaigns to achieve key policy goals, such as countering Iran's destabilizing policies and defeating the Islamic State. Gulf leaders have expressed optimism over the new administration's gestures, despite its "America First" rhetoric. But the administration also faces challenges, including those brought about by its own emphasis on "radical Islamic terrorism." This two-part Transition 2017 paper, featuring contributions by Gulf experts Lori Plotkin Boghardt and Simon Henderson, navigates the complex U.S.-Gulf relationship. The first essay provides an overview of its basic tenets, stressing the importance of rapport to bilateral ties and discussing key policy priorities. The second essay narrows the focus to the Washington-Riyadh link, the most important U.S. tie with the conservative Gulf. It analyzes differences in viewpoint, policy options, and some anticipated Saudi responses on the core issues of oil, terrorism, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Gulf allies, and the Sunni bloc.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Cooperation, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East
  • Author: Irene Costantini
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: The Shia Block is realistically the key determinant for national reconciliation to occur in Iraq. However, its internal divisions make it a problematic and non-unitary interlocutor for national, regional, and international initiatives. So far, the Block has outlined two separate and independent plans: al-Hakim’s “Historical Settlement” and al-Sadr’s roadmap
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Security
  • Political Geography: Iraq
  • Author: Tomáš Kaválek
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: On 3 March, clashes erupted between the PKK-linked forces and the KDP’s Rojava Peshmerga near Khanasor in the district of Shingal. These events now more than ever highlight the need for a negotiated compromise between the KRG and the PKK; and for the international community to actively intervene.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, Political Theory
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Irene Costantini
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: Iraq and Libya are facing similar challenges: addressing the hurdles of socio-economic recovery in areas liberated from the Islamic State (IS); facing a fiscal crisis in the midst of continuous political tensions; and striking a power balance between central and local authorities, serving the interests of the people.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, ISIS
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Katarina Djokic
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belgrade Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: This paper presents a performance analysis of the G-4 Super Galeb military trainer aircraft modernization project. The analysis shows that the Ministry of Defense has to review the need for this project as soon as possible, in view of the announced equipping of the Serbian Armed Forces with MiG-29 fighter planes, several-year delay of the beginning of the project and Su- per Galeb maintenance difficulties. The paper also shows that the Ministry of Defense and the Serbian Armed Forces cannot effectively plan modernization and equipping projects without a top-level political decision on what type of army Serbia needs, and without a more decisive fis- cal policy, which would ensure funds for priority projects on a medium-term level.
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Serbia
  • Author: Maha Yahya, Jean Kassir
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: A sustainable political settlement to end the multiple conflicts in Syria will not be possible without a real focus on the challenges of refugee returns. The complexities of the Syrian wars as well as previous international experiences with similar conflicts underscore that ensuring long-term peace requires a more focused attention on the challenges for effective repatriation of refugees and internally displaced persons, including significant security and protection guarantees. Without these, and irrespective of the eventual shape of a political solution, their return may be neither possible nor sustainable—with significant repercussions for peace in Syria, neighboring countries, and states beyond.
  • Topic: War, International Security, Refugee Crisis
  • Political Geography: Syria