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  • Author: Sven Bernhard Gareis
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies
  • Abstract: The People's Republic of China has long been a very visible actor in international politics. With 1.4 billion inhabitants, it is the most populous country in the world, with a land mass of 9.6 million square kilometers bordering 14 states in East, South, and Central Asia. China has a long Pacific coastline, along which it claims vast areas of the South China Sea. A nuclear power since 1964, the People's Republic of China has the largest armed forces in the world, numbering approximately 2.3 million soldiers. China has been a permanent member of the UN Security Council since 1971; for many years, it has figured prominently in all decision making processes with global impact.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: China, Central Asia
  • Author: Joseph Holliday
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The conflict in Syria transitioned from an insurgency to a civil war during the summer of 2012. For the first year of the conflict, Bashar al-Assad relied on his father's counterinsurgency approach; however, Bashar al-Assad's campaign failed to put down the 2011 revolution and accelerated the descent into civil war. This report seeks to explain how the Assad regime lost its counterinsurgency campaign, but remains well situated to fight a protracted civil war against Syria's opposition.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Elizabeth O'Bagy
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Fragmentation and disorganization have plagued Syria's armed opposition since peaceful protestors took up arms in December 2011 and began forming rebel groups under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army. A lack of unity has made cooperation and coordination difficult on the battlefield and has limited the effectiveness of rebel operations. Since the summer of 2012, rebel commanders on the ground in Syria have begun to coordinate tactically in order to plan operations and combine resources. This cooperation has facilitated many important offensives and rebels have taken control of the majority of the eastern portion of the country, overrunning their first provincial capital in March 2013 with the capture of al-Raqqa city. However, rebels have been unable to capitalize on these successes, and fighting has largely stalemated along current battle fronts particularly in the key areas of Aleppo, Homs and Damascus. In order to overcome the current military stalemate, the opposition needs to develop an operational level headquarters that can designate campaign priorities, task units to support priority missions, and resource these units with the proper equipment to execute their missions. Recently, the opposition has established a new national military structure that may grow to serve this purpose. On December 7, 2012, rebel leaders from across Syria announced the election of a new 30-member unified command structure called the Supreme Joint Military Command Council, known as the Supreme Military Command (SMC). The Supreme Military Command improves upon previous attempts at armed opposition unification through higher integration of disparate rebel groups and enhanced communication, which suggest that it could prove to be an enduring security institution. The SMC includes all of Syria's most important opposition field commanders, and its authority is based on the power and influence of these rebel leaders. Its legitimacy is derived from the bottomup, rather than top-down, and it has no institutional legitimacy apart from the legitimacy of the commanders associated with the council. Thus, the SMC is not structurally cohesive, and its ability to enforce command and control is dependent on the cooperation of each of its members. The incorporation of rebel networks has resulted in chains of command that are not uniform across the five fronts, with each sub-unit retaining their own unique authority structures. The SMC's primary function to date has been to serve as a platform for coordination. Regardless of the limits of its current command and control, the SMC has played an important role in syncing rebel operations with several notable successes. It has allowed for greater opportunities for collaboration and coordination among the disparate rebel groups operating in Syria. As the SMC develops its institutional capacity, its ability to assert greater authority will likely depend on its transactional legitimacy and its ability to distribute critical resources to rebel-held communities. To date, disparate sources of funding have significantly handicapped the rebels' ability to unite and consolidate authority on a national level. Although private sources of funding will likely continue outside the parameters of the SMC, uniting the support channels of rebels' main state sponsors will be fundamental to ensuring the legitimacy of the new organization. The ability to provide resources and material support to its sub-units is the determining factor in whether or not the SMC will be able to unite rebel forces under its command and establish a level of command and control. The SMC has the potential to serve as a check on radicalization and help to assert a moderate authority in Syria. If the SMC can create enough incentives for moderation it will likely be able to marginalize the most radical elements within its structure. To this end, the SMC has recognized the importance of the inclusion of some of the more radical forces, while still drawing a red line at the inclusion of forces that seek the destruction of a Syrian state, such as jihadist groups like Jabhat Nusra. Ultimately, even if the SMC only serves as a mechanism for greater cooperation and coordination, it is a significant development in that it has united the efforts of rebel commanders across Syria. It is the first attempt at unity that incorporates important commanders from all Syrian provinces and has enough legitimacy on the ground to even begin the process of building a structure capable of providing a national-level chain of command. Syria's state security apparatus will collapse as the Assad regime finishes its transformation into a militia-like entity. The Supreme Military Command is currently the only organization that could serve to fill the security vacuum left by this transformation. As the Syrian opposition begins to build a transitional government, the SMC could create a framework for rebuilding Syria's security and governing institutions if properly supported. The SMC's ability to act as a basis for a national defense institution will be an important component in filling the power vacuum left by Assad's fall and will aid in a secure and stable Syria. There remain a number of critical obstacles ahead for the SMC. They include the incorporation of existing command networks, which will have an impact on command and control and resource allocation; mitigating the strength of extremist groups; and managing disparate sources of financing. Overcoming these obstacles will be difficult, especially as the nature of the conflict transforms and the sectarian polarization makes it more challenging to create a strong military institution and professional armed force. Although the SMC must do its part internally to overcome these obstacles, its success will largely depend on greater international support and access to more resources. The goal behind U.S. support to the opposition should be to build a force on the ground that is committed to building a nonsectarian, stable Syria, with a government more likely to respect American interests. Working with the SMC could enhance America's position vis-à-vis Syria's armed opposition and provide a mechanism for stability should the Assad regime fall.
  • Topic: Security, Civil War, Military Strategy, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Marisa Sullivan
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: Today, political and military power in Iraq is highly centralized in the Prime Minister Maliki's personal office. The national unity government that was formed in the wake of the 2010 parliamentary elections has given way to a de-facto majoritarian government in which Maliki has a monopoly on the institutions of the state. This will have important implications for the future of Iraq and the trajectory and durability of its democratic transition. Maliki is the dominant force over Iraq's conventional military forces, special operations units, intelligence apparatus, and civilian ministries. Maliki began his security consolidation not long after taking office in mid-2006. Maliki's security consolidation enables the prime minister to prevent any coup attempts, to aggressively target Sunni terrorist groups, and to check political rivals through the implicit or explicit threat of force. Since 2007, Maliki has used the creation of extra-constitutional security bodies to bypass the defense and interior ministries and create an informal chain of command that runs directly from his office to the commanders in the field, allowing him to exert direct influence over the both the targeting of individuals and the conduct of operations. Chief among these are the Office of the Commander in Chief (OCINC) and provincial-level operations commands. OCINC reports directly to the prime minister and is staffed by Maliki loyalists. The extra-constitutional body has no legal framework to govern its existence and therefore no accountability or oversight, yet it has significant powers and resources. Maliki has also attached Iraq's most elite units to his military office, and has used them for political purposes. Maliki relies on the operations commands to coordinate government responses to security challenges. He maintains direct control over these headquarters through OCINC and through the appointment of trusted commanders. The lack of oversight on military appointments has allowed Maliki to choose his preferred officers (nearly all Shi'a) to head the most significant command positions in Iraq—those of the Iraqi Army Divisions and Operations Commands. Maliki has appointed these senior military officers in acting capacities to bypass requisite parliamentary approval and oversight. The individuals who benefit from these appointments become, in turn, invested in Maliki's success and continuation as prime minister. After the 2010 election, Maliki greatly expanded his control over many of Iraq's civilian institutions, including the judiciary and independent bodies such as the elections commission, central bank, and the anti-corruption watchdog. Through his consolidation of power, Maliki has subverted the system of checks and balances that was intended in the Iraqi constitution. His growing influence over and limitations on supposedly independent institutions have tarnished the legitimacy and efficacy of these bodies, particularly the judiciary and the parliament. Politicization at the national level has effectively compromised the role of the judiciary as an independent check on the other branches of government. The judiciary has been an accomplice to the centralization of power by Prime Minister Maliki through a series of controversial rulings that have empowered the executive and restrained or removed his political rivals. Maliki has used his parliamentary allies and favorable judicial rulings to remove key personnel deemed obstacles to his control of Iraq's independent bodies, the most important of which are the Iraqi High Electoral Commission (IHEC), the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI), and the Integrity Commission. The prime minister has also used his influence over these bodies to check his political rivals and shield his political allies. Free and fair elections will be nearly impossible in the current political environment without an impartial and independent IHEC. Thus, Maliki's efforts to influence, if not control, IHEC are particularly concerning because it suggests his effort to subvert Iraq's electoral process. The Council of Representatives (CoR) has not been an effective check on executive authorities. The parliament's internal dysfunction, combined with Maliki's own efforts to undermine the body, has limited its oversight ability. Maliki has adopted a strategy meant to keep his parliamentary opposition fragmented and prevent the coalescing of a broad anti-Maliki bloc. This has proved largely successful, aided by the opposition's own internal divisions. Maliki's requests have prompted judicial rulings that have curbed the legislating and accountability powers of the parliament, namely by preventing the CoR from initiating legislation and limiting its ability to question ministers. Maliki uses his control over the security and civil institutions mentioned above in various ways to advance his interests. One objective is to dismantle Iraqiyya's senior leadership, while another is to expand his control over Iraq's financial institutions. Maliki has also used his control over the security forces and judiciary to defuse a federalism challenge from several Iraqi provinces. De-Ba'athification, along with accusations of terrorism and corruption, have become convenient political tools to discredit and even remove opponents. Maliki is not the only politician in Iraq to use these tools, but he has the most latitude in doing so on account of his growing executive authority. Maliki still faces some challenges to his power that he will likely have to face in the near future. The first stems from his rivalry with the Sadrists for political dominance among Iraqi Shi'a. The second comes from the growing Sunni discontent with the status quo. While the demonstrations have thus far remained largely peaceful, they have mobilized a significant number of Sunnis in opposition to the government, something that Maliki has sought to avoid. There is also the danger that Sunni discontent and the instability in Syria may translate into a resurgence of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Any security crackdown or further actions seen as disenfranchising the Sunni participation might actually exacerbate the drivers of instability that could fuel a regeneration of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Maliki will seek to keep the Sunni fragmented by alienating or removing leaders from rival political parties (such as Nujaifi, Issawi, and Allawi), while cultivating allied Sunni politicians and political groups. The promise of patronage that participation in the Maliki government affords is often a strong motivator for politicians. The upcoming provincial and parliamentary elections present an important political test for Maliki. If the status quo prevails in the coming months, Maliki will emerge from these next elections in a better political position. A strong electoral showing in the provinces would allow him to increase his number of seats in the parliament, to regain the premiership, and to make the parliament even more of a rubber stamp, ideally by installing amore pliable speaker to accelerate the move toward majoritarianism. The United States has largely stayed quiet on the issue of Maliki's consolidation. This silence gives the perception of consent, even if the United States harbors reservations about Maliki's authoritarian behaviors and intentions. U.S. engagement with Iraq in recent years has focused more on the need for preserving stability and providing Iraq with security assistance. Such assistance has ignored the political context that is helping to fuel security challenges and has only strengthened the hand of the prime minister, especially given Maliki's tight control of the security forces. Maliki—in his willingness to support the Assad regime in Syria and unwillingness to abide by U.S. sanctions on Iran—is pursuing a regional policy that is much closer to Iran's than that of the United States. The U.S. does retain leverage within Iraq, but it must use it more effectively. In light of these factors, the United States should reevaluate its relationship with Maliki and be more vocal in rejecting any actions that undermine the democratic process in Iraq. The United States should seek a better understanding of how power is exercised within the Iraqi state. Additionally, American officials should engage more broadly in the political sphere and not simply focus on security cooperation. Greater attention to the timing and means of engagement will also be necessary to break the perception of unwavering U.S. support for Maliki's actions. The United States and other international actors can play a vital role in enabling (or inhibiting) Iraq's exit from Chapter VII. A willingness to speed, slow, or stop weapons sales under the Foreign Military Sales program may also serve as a vehicle to exert influence. Supporting an authoritarian leader in the name of stability will have the opposite outcome and only exacerbate tensions and divisions within Iraq. Ultimately, the United States must recognize that stability in Iraq will only come through an inclusive, representative, and fair political system that protects the rights of all Iraqis—goals that run counter to Maliki's current aims, policies, and behaviors.
  • Topic: Security, Armed Struggle, Governance, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Stephen Wicken
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The political participation of the Sunni Arab minority in Iraq is critical to the security and stability of the state. At present, they are functionally excluded from government, with those that do participate coopted by the increasingly authoritarian Shi'a Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Without effective political representation, the Sunni in Iraq are left with few alternatives to address their grievances against the Maliki government. The important decisions lie ahead on whether to pursue their goals via political compromise, federalism, or insurgency.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Insurgency, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Christopher Harmer
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The Iranian regime has among its strategic objectives expanding its power in the Middle East and rolling back U.S. influence in the region. Iranian leadership considers the Persian Gulf and much of Central Asia to be a "near abroad" where Iranian culture and interests should have significant influence. Recent developments confirm that Iran is committed to this ambition, has a strategy to realize this outcome, and is making significant progress towards it. Iran also clearly has ambitions to be a significant and relevant actor on the global stage, whose capabilities and intentions must be taken into consideration by superpower nations.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Hegemony
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Central Asia, Middle East
  • Author: Aaron Reese
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The first half of 2013 has demonstrated clearly that sectarian conflict is spreading in the Middle East. This conflict is a product of developments over the course of 2012, including Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's consolidation of power and the development of an armed opposition movement in Syria. A turning point, however, came this year with the Syrian opposition's loss of the strategic town of al-Qusayr in early June to regime forces backed by Lebanese Hezbollah. The intervention of this prominent Shi'a militant group has heightened the "sectarianization" of the conflict. Sectarian narratives provide an emotional rallying point for popular mobilization, and are easily leveraged by actors involved in the conflict to achieve their goals. The rise in sectarian violence sponsored by external actors poses an existential threat to these already-fragile states.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Armed Struggle, Refugee Issues, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Lucyna Kornecki
  • Publication Date: 02-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: Inward foreign direct investment (IFDI) represents an integral part of the United States (U.S.) economy, with its stock growing from US$ 83 billion in 1980 to US$ 3.5 trillion in 2011. The United States, which had earlier been primarily a home for multinational enterprises (MNEs) rather than a host for affiliates of foreign MNEs, has become a preferred host country for FDI since the 1980s. Foreign MNEs have contributed robust flows of FDI into diverse industries of the U.S. economy, and total FDI inflows reached US$227 billion in 2011, equivalent to 15% of global inflows, the single largest share of any economy. Inflows of FDI, with a peak of US$ 314 billion in 2000 and another of US$ 306 billion in 2008, have been an important factor contributing to sustained economic growth in the United States. The recent financial and economic crises negatively impacted FDI flows to the United States and opened a period of major uncertainty. The effectiveness of government policy responses at both the national and international levels in addressing the financial crisis and its economic consequences will play a crucial role for creating favorable conditions for a rebound in FDI inflows.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Rights, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Rachel B. Vogelstein
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The practice of child marriage is a violation of human rights. Every day, girls around the world are forced to leave their families, marry against their will, endure sexual and physical abuse, and bear children while still in childhood themselves. This practice is driven by poverty, deeply embedded cultural traditions, and pervasive discrimination against girls. Yet in many parts of the world, this ancient practice still flourishes: estimates show that nearly five million girls are married under the age of fifteen every year, and some are as young as eight or nine years old.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Human Rights, Poverty
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Allison M. Garland
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
  • Abstract: Within the last five years, the global population reached a critical turning point, making the demographic shift from rural to urban; for the first time in history, the majority of the world's people now live in cities. Over the next two decades the number of city dwellers will soar to nearly five billion, 60 percent of the world's population. Virtually all of this urban growth is occurring in cities of the developing world, overwhelming ecosystems and placing tremendous pressure on the capacity of local governments to provide necessary infrastructure and services.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Human Rights, Poverty, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: United Nations