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  • Author: Edward C. Chow, Andrew J. Stanley
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: After the Soviet Union collapsed and Russia was roiled by political and economic chaos, many state-owned assets were privatized based on political connections and corrupt practices. The oil sector was a particularly attractive, but by no means the only, target for these privatizations. By the end of the 1990s, almost all of Russia’s oil production was privately owned. In spite of continued nontransparency, the oil sector began to resemble a competitive market with private investors introducing Western technology, financial accounting, and operating and management practices. It also started to attract major foreign investments. The remaining state oil assets were managed by a sleepy state enterprise named Rosneft that, in spite of its name (Russian Oil), produced less than 5 percent of Russia’s oil. Today, majority state-owned Rosneft produces almost half of Russia’s oil. Its daily oil production of 4.6 million barrels, according to its last reported quarterly results, is double that of the world’s largest oil company by market capitalization, ExxonMobil, which last reported daily liquids production of 2.3 million barrels. Rosneft’s rapid rise coincided with the rule of Vladimir Putin, who first became president of Russia in 2000. Its production increases were built largely on the backs of controversial acquisitions of assets previously held by private companies such as Yukos, TNK-BP, and Bashneft. Rosneft’s acquisition spree accelerated after Putin’s close associate and Russia’s then-deputy prime minister Igor Sechin became chairman of its board of directors in 2004. Sechin left government in 2012 to take over as Rosneft’s chief executive officer. Rosneft’s board of directors is now chaired by former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Rosneft’s transformation as Russia’s national oil champion is consistent with Putin’s policy of regaining state control over the commanding heights of the Russian economy, which is more reliant on oil income today than the Soviet Union ever was. Rosneft is Russia’s largest taxpayer and contributed a quarter of government revenue in 2014. Until recently, Rosneft concentrated mainly on consolidating its dominance over the domestic oil patch. It is also Russia’s leading refiner and is increasing natural gas production for direct sales to domestic gas users, producing 67 billion cubic meters in 2016. In 2014, Russia was hit by the twin shocks of a global oil price collapse and Western economic sanctions enacted after its aggression against Ukraine in the Donbas region and annexation of Crimea. These developments affected Rosneft severely since it involved the value of the commodity it produces and sells and restricted Rosneft’s access to international financing when it was heavily indebted from the aforementioned acquisitions. A normal company might hunker down, repair its balance sheet, and wait for external conditions to improve. Instead Rosneft has done the exact opposite and expanded its international business aggressively. As part of the 2014 U.S.-led sanction efforts, Igor Sechin, as the leading figure of Russia’s largest petroleum company and his having “shown utter loyalty to Vladimir Putin,” was directly sanctioned. Further Russian sanctions enacted by Congress in 2017 called on the U.S. Department of the Treasury to submit a detailed report on senior political figures, oligarchs, and parastatal entities as determined by their “closeness to the Russian regime and their net worth.” While the unclassified version of the report released to Congress on January 29 included Igor Sechin, the report was poorly received and largely regarded as nothing more than a “rich list” by Russian experts. However, the report also contains classified annexes, including a list of parastatal entities and supporting analysis, which by definition would have included Rosneft. Although Rosneft’s rapid international expansion is too recent to assess definitely, this paper describes some of Rosneft’s overseas ventures and explores possible motivations, economic and political, behind them.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Oil, Foreign Direct Investment, Sanctions, Gas, Transparency, Private Sector
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Tom Karako, Wes Rumbaugh
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: President Trump’s 2019 budget request includes $12.9 billion for missile defense programs, including $9.9 billion for the Missile Defense Agency and about $3 billion in modernization in the military services, building upon the acceleration initiated in the $323 million FY 2017 Above Threshold Reprogramming and the FY 2018 Budget Amendment of $2.0 billion. The proposed budget continues the recent trend of procurement consuming a greater portion of overall missile defense spending, reflecting a choice for prioritizing near-term capacity over longer-term capability. With the exception of two new Pacific radars and a modest effort for tracking hypersonic threats, the request includes strikingly few changes to the program of record. The submission fails to address past shortfalls for more research and development of new missile defense technologies and capabilities, most significantly with its lack of real movement toward a space-based sensor layer for tracking and discrimination, as opposed to merely missile warning. Pursuit of more advanced capabilities will require substantial programmatic changes in the 2020 budget, or with a budget amendment later this year, if such capabilities are recommended by the forthcoming Missile Defense Review. On February 12, the Department of Defense (DoD) released its budget request for FY 2019, which included a total of $12.9 billion for missile defense-related activities. The proposed topline for the Missile Defense Agency comes in at $9.9 billion, comprising $2.4 billion for procurement, $6.8 billion for research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E), $500 million for operations and maintenance (O&M), and $206 million for military construction (MILCON). The $9.9 billion request is a 26 percent increase from the FY 2018 budget request of $7.9 billion. Funding for ballistic missile defense within the services includes about $3 billion, largely for the procurement of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (PAC-3 MSE) and Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) interceptors. Overall, the budget reflects a near-term focus on capacity of existing programs, even at the expense of capability improvements. In its current form, the request boosts funding for all four families of interceptors. For homeland missile defense, this includes the continued improvements to the capacity and reliability of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system by continuing to deploy an additional 20 interceptors, several testing spares, and a new missile field at Fort Greely, Alaska. The request also deepens the magazines for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), Aegis, and Patriot interceptors, continuing a procurement-heavy trend from last year.1 The focus on capacity does not answer the question, however, how missile defense efforts will be adapted to the new reality of great power competition described by the National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy.2 One of the few new muscle movements in the entire budget is the addition of two radars in the Pacific for discriminating long-range missile threats to the homeland. The idea of a discrimination radar for Hawaii had been publicly floated over the past two years, and had previously been part of the yet-unpassed appropriations marks from the House and Senate appropriations committees. The Hawaii radar is scheduled for a 2023 deployment, with an additional radar deployed by 2024 at a yet-undisclosed location. The two radars will cost approximately $2.5 billion over the course of the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP). The inadequacy of the request lies not with the top line, but rather with the capabilities and strategy that the top line fails to prioritize. Although these radars would be useful to close the near-term Pacific midcourse gap against limited ballistic missile threats to the homeland, such funds must be weighed against the opportunity cost for larger improvements in capability provided by a space-based sensor layer that could provide substantially more capable birth-to-death tracking and discrimination on a more global scale and against a wider diversity of threats. The choice for capacity over capability reflects a near-term time horizon, but further delay in more advanced technologies will carry costs at a later time. In sum, the administration’s budget request for FY 2019 prioritizes near-term readiness against limited but growing ballistic missile threats from sources such as North Korea. This choice, however, falls short of connecting missile defense efforts to the reality of renewed great power competition as articulated in the National Defense Strategy. The inadequacy of the request lies not with the top line, but rather with the capabilities and strategy that the top line fails to prioritize. The 2019 request’s modesty of ambition is manifested by low funding for more advanced programs, such as boost-phase intercept, space-based sensors, and volume kill. Should the forthcoming Missile Defense Review address some of these issues and recommend programmatic changes, their implementation may have to wait until the 2020 budget, unless a budget amendment of some kind prioritizes them for the coming fiscal year.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Budget, Missile Defense
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Asia, North America
  • Author: William A Carter, William Crumpler
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Machine Intelligence (MI) is poised to create profound changes to our lives, jobs, and economy. In breadth and scale of impact, MI will rival or exceed past technological revolutions while potentially altering centers of economic power and regional and global influence. Many countries are already making significant policy decisions to prepare for the impact of MI and are investing in MI research and development to outpace allies and competitors across economic and national security dimensions. If the United States wants to avoid being left behind in the “MI Revolution” we need to develop a coordinated national strategy that covers research and development, industrial specialization, and the social impacts of these technologies. This report offers a framework for determining which guiding principles should shape U.S. policy in response to the growth of MI applications in defense, education, health care, and the economy. The authors offer recommendations for how the United States can maintain a competitive advantage in MI and navigate the risks and challenges associated with it.
  • Topic: Intelligence, Science and Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Industrialization
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Whatever his other limitations, Vladimir Putin has shown he is a master in exploiting Russian nationalism and American and European sensitivities. His latest gambit—publicizing new Russian nuclear systems—several of which are still developmental, may have key components that are untested, or do not yet exist—give him political credibility in asserting Russian national strength in a Russian election year, and emphasize the one key area where Russia remains a leading global super power: its possession of nuclear weapons. The key question is whether they represent any real change in the nuclear balance, Russian and U.S. ability to pose an existential threat to the other state, and mutual assured destruction. If they do not, they are more technological status symbols or “toys” than real threats, although the proliferation of such weapons might allow smaller nuclear powers like Iran and North Korea to defeat today’s missile and air defense systems and technologies. An analysis of the actual content of his speech, the changing nuclear and conventional balance between the superpowers—the U.S., Russia, and China, the global balance of deployed nuclear weapons, the shifts taking in US and Russian balance since the Cold War, and as a result of START, the full range of new U.S. and Russian nuclear programs, and of what Putin did and did not say about Russia's new programs, provides a very different picture from the one Putin portrayed in his speech. It shows that Putin focused on the "toy factor" in emphasize technology over any real world aspects of the balance, arms control, and war fighting.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Nationalism, Military Strategy, Authoritarianism, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Richard Downie
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: During the past decade, donors and companies have begun to build viable coffee and cocoa sectors in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The locus of activity has been in eastern Congo, where decades of conflict and poor governance have displaced populations and ruined livelihoods. While the political and security environment in the DRC does not favor large-scale cash crop production, the climatic conditions do. Eastern Congo, particularly the provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu, produces excellent coffee and cocoa. Furthermore, eastern Congo has a successful history of large-scale coffee production, first under the Belgian colonists, then in the first decades of independence before the sector fell apart under President Mobuto Sese Seko. The recent entry into eastern Congo of development dollars and private-sector partners, ranging from small traders to retail giants like Starbucks, has provided a foundation to expand the DRC’s agricultural export sector. These groups and individuals have taken a risk on a country that has largely been written off by an international community disillusioned by endemic crisis and corruption. Now it is up to the DRC to reward this show of faith by taking steps to attract a larger pool of investors focused on achieving both financial returns and positive social impact. The DRC can only do this by forging a vision for the cash crop sector, putting its own resources into its development, and taking actions to improve the business environment. Any credible strategy for expanding the agricultural export economy in eastern Congo must be centered on sustainable growth that benefits smallholder farmers and their communities and helps cement peace in a volatile region. With future global supplies of coffee and cocoa threatened by farmer poverty, the impact of climate change, and corporate doubts about the sectors’ profitability, the DRC can create a market opportunity for itself, provided it shows vision and intelligence. If the DRC can learn from mistakes made by other producing nations, it has the potential to build a thriving cash crop sector that not only benefits the national economy but improves the lives of some of its most vulnerable citizens. Realizing this vision, however, will not be easy. Daunting barriers stand in the way of a large, successful cash crop sector. Farmers are poor, lack support, and struggle to access finance. Their trees are old, badly maintained, and low-yielding. Companies worry about the expense and logistical challenges of getting produce out of the country, at volume. Insecurity and poor governance create a level of unpredictability that deters potential investors. This report weighs up the size of these risks, compared with the opportunities on offer, and suggests some strategies for overcoming them. Material is drawn from expert interviews and a literature review of global best practices in the coffee and cocoa sectors. The evidence suggests that expectations for the DRC should be realistic. Eastern Congo is highly unlikely to become the next Colombia of coffee production or displace Côte d’Ivoire as the world’s leading source of cocoa. Nevertheless, there is potential to scale up coffee and cocoa production in the DRC in a sustainable way that improves the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. Success will depend on: Effective partnerships between donors, private-sector actors all the way along the value chain, and the Congolese government, which must lay out a compelling strategy for expanding the agricultural export sector and rally support around it. Sustained training of farmers and cooperatives that increases production of coffee and cocoa without compromising on quality. Increasing the flow of capital into eastern Congo’s agricultural sector by deploying new, innovative financing mechanisms and technologies. Finding new ways to market Congolese products that connect with consumers and shift a greater share of value chain profits toward smallholder farmers.
  • Topic: Privatization, Governance, Trade, Coffee, Cocoa
  • Political Geography: Africa, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Author: Rhys McCormick, Andrew Philip Hunter, Gregory Sanders
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: In light of Section 881 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, which expanded the legal definition of the National Technology and Industrial Base (NTIB) to include the United Kingdom and Australia, this report informs NTIB partners on barriers and opportunities for effective integration. The expansion of the NTIB is based on the principle that defense trade between the United States and its closest allies enables a host of benefits, including increased access to innovation, economies of scale, and interoperability. In order to reap the greatest benefits of a new era of NTIB, this report uses the lessons learned from study of the present state of integration to identify areas of opportunity for policy reforms and greater cooperation.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, International Cooperation, Science and Technology, Reform
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, Australia
  • Author: Kathleen H. Hicks
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Northern Europe, and specifically the Baltic and Norwegian Seas, has been the site of increasingly provocative and destabilizing Russian actions. The country’s use of a range of military, diplomatic, and economic tools to undermine the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and its allies highlights the need to monitor and understand Russian activity. The region is characterized by complex factors like unique geographic features, considerable civilian maritime traffic, the presence of advanced Russian and Western military capabilities, and strategic proximity to Russia and the Kola peninsula, home to the Russian Northern Fleet. While the Norwegian and Baltic Seas do differ in key ways, they are linked by the emerging risk posed by Russia’s long-range strike capabilities. Responding to Russian challenges across the competitive space requires a deep understanding of the Northern European maritime environment. Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), defined by the United States as the effective understanding of anything associated with the maritime domain that could impact the security, safety, economy, or environment of a nation or region, is an exceptionally broad concept. At its core, MDA has three functions: the collection of raw data, the analysis of that data, and the action of disseminating information to and coordinating among the different components of the framework. In order to provide security in Northern Europe, NATO and its allies must use MDA frameworks to understand and respond to the challenges above, on, and underneath the sea, as well as the surrounding land environment. While some constructive work has been done to address the evolving Russian threat, NATO and its partners must make changes to their current MDA capabilities to evolve alongside with it. Russia presents three challenges of particular concern to the MDA efforts in Northern Europe: maritime hybrid warfare, electronic and cyber warfare capabilities, and long-range strike systems. Maritime Hybrid Warfare—The Russian military is experienced and effective in its use of hybrid warfare, seen in Syria, Crimea, and Northern Europe. The ambiguity possible in the maritime domain lends itself well to this strategy. Russia uses three specific approaches in this realm: deception through different types of vessels including civilian ships, deniable forces like the amphibious and light infantry that easily navigate the complex Baltic and Norwegian Seas, and the country’s well-developed and diverse force for seabed warfare. Cyber and Electronic Warfare—Russia’s advanced EW capabilities have the potential to hinder information gathering and dissemination methods, which are both vital functions of MDA. These capabilities are challenging for military personnel but potentially devastating in civilian contexts, especially as civilian networks and technology (like GPS) are far less secure. Long-Range Strike Capabilities—New challenges for NATO and Northern European partners have emerged with Russia’s development of a long-range precision strike complex. The weapons, now being mounted on new and existing Russian naval vessels, give these vessels the option to stay in the Barents or White Seas and strike targets across Northern Europe. This, combined with air force capabilities based on the Kola Peninsula and in Kaliningrad, presents threats unlike any seen by NATO before. These capabilities require NATO and its partners to use MDA frameworks to monitor launch platforms across the domain. The modern history of MDA begins in the United States, with Homeland Security Presidential Directive – 13 (HSPD-13) / National Security Presidential Directive – 41 (NSPD-41) issued in 2004 by President George W. Bush. The document lays out core interests for the United States to enhance security in the maritime domain and creates a cooperative framework to support MDA operations across different spheres. At the same time, the European concept of maritime security awareness was built upon the U.S. definition of the challenge, placed within the context of rising illicit traffic in the Mediterranean. A weakness of the original MDA and Maritime Situational Awareness (MSA) concepts is that many of the associated capabilities and frameworks are focused on civil maritime issues. Given the global proliferation of advanced military capabilities, like antiship cruise missiles, NATO and its partners require a holistic understanding of the maritime environment that focuses on everything from civil maritime actions to high-end military operations and even issues associated with the maritime environment. A key implication of the heightened maritime threat environment is the need to improve the integration of and attention to undersea aspects of MDA. Antisubmarine warfare (ASW), a traditional strength of Western naval intelligence and operations, has atrophied since the end of the Cold War. Today, Russian submarines with conventional long-range missiles pose a threat to NATO. ASW must be integrated with MDA to address these concerns. Comprehensive understanding of the undersea realm should extend beyond ASW. Russia’s amphibious special forces and combat swimmers threaten more than just military targets, including civilian vessels and undersea cables, which are an integral part of MDA. ASW technology can be useful in countering these and other threats. In the Norwegian Sea, the biggest challenge for NATO is detecting advanced ultra-quiet submarines. This issue is sharpened by dramatically depleted stockpiles of sonobuoys, a constant need for increasingly advanced sonobuoy technology, and an American unwillingness to share highly classified information about the undersea domain. NATO would benefit from an apparatus like the ASW Operations Centers (ASWOC), used most prominently during the Cold War to streamline ASW operations. Integration of platforms is a challenge in the Baltic Sea as well, largely because Sweden and Finland are not NATO states, making data sharing challenging. Frameworks like Sea Surveillance Co-Operation Baltic Sea (SUCBAS) and the Maritime Surveillance (MARSUR) project facilitate the work of regional states to address these issues but more must be done. Additionally, NATO monitoring of the Baltic region is largely domain specific and suffers from not examining the maritime domain holistically. The alliance and its partners should also act to focus on resiliency to continue to operate in the face of jamming and nonkinetic attacks from Russia. The key to enhancing MDA capabilities in Northern Europe is the integration of frameworks across the maritime domain. Cooperation between NATO states and allies is vital to understanding the complex environment. The CSIS study team has identified seven recommendations of particular importance: Create a Baltic Sea MDA analytic center at the Baltic Maritime Component Command (BMCC) at Rostock, Germany; Empower a small analytic team at the BMCC to focus on maritime hybrid issues; Develop a training course for military intelligence officers on best practices for Baltic Sea MDA analysis; Create a classified Baltic Sea data environment that can incorporate both NATO and partner states; Develop a multinational operational framework for the Baltic Sea; Integrate subsurface sensors and antisubmarine warfare into a comprehensive MDA framework; and Acquire significant stockpiles of advanced sonobuoys and associated acoustic processing systems. These priority recommendations are presented in detail in Chapter 4 of the report, along with others. Collectively, their implication would markedly enhance security in Northern Europe by closing identified gaps and ensuring capabilities for collection, analysis, and action in MDA.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Maritime
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, North Atlantic, North America, Western Europe, Baltic Sea, Norwegian Seas
  • Author: Bonnie S. Glaser, Matthew Funaiole
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The papers in this compendium were written by the 10 members of the 2017 CSIS Taiwan-U.S. Policy Program (TUPP) delegation. TUPP provides a much-needed opportunity for future leaders to gain a better understanding of Taiwan through first-hand exposure to its politics, culture, and history. Each participant was asked to reflect on his or her in-country experience and produce a short article analyzing a policy issue related to Taiwan. These papers are a testament to the powerful impact that follows first-hand exposure to Taiwan.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Taiwan, Asia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Jon B. Alterman
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: n 2014, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) embarked on a bold experiment: It began drafting young men into the military. This move was not only a departure for the Emirates, it was a departure from world trends. Governments have been moving away from national service requirements for decades as military missions have changed and governments have sought to create highly skilled all-volunteer armies. But the UAE move to press young men into military service was meant to build the country, not just the army. Several factors contributed to the decision to adopt conscription. One was a deeply unsettled regional environment. Another was a drive to promote a stronger sense of shared Emirati identity. A third was a growing fear that young Emirati men were becoming lazy and “soft” just as the government eyed an increasing imperative to shape its workforce for a world less centered on oil. A fourth consideration was the UAE’s resolve to blunt the forces that contributed to the Arab uprisings in 2011. Staring down all of these factors, the UAE leadership decided a bold intervention was needed. The leadership constructed a program combining intensive physical fitness training with military training, national education, and character education. It did not only reach 18 year-olds. Everyone 30 years of age and younger is required to register, pulling men from their jobs and families to live with their peers in barracks, perform predawn calisthenics, and clean toilets. Those lacking the fitness for military training—nearly one in five—are not exempted, but rather are trained for civilian roles in vital sectors. The UAE drew from careful studies of other national service programs around the world—especially in Finland, Singapore, and South Korea—and had indirect knowledge of Israel’s program. Compared to these countries, the UAE has made innovations in its approach to citizenship education, workforce development, and public health. Women can volunteer, but fewer than 850 have done so, compared to 50,000 male conscripts. Women are cast largely in a supportive role as relatives of conscripts.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Women, Citizenship, Services
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Persian Gulf, UAE
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The shifts in Saudi Arabia's power structure that have taken place since King Salman came to power in January 2015 have created a new set of Saudi priorities for shaping Saudi Arabia's future. These new priorities have led to major changes in Saudi Arabia’s national security structure and leadership, and to calls for major social and economic reform. They have changed the leadership of the Saudi Ministry of Interior, National Guard, and Foreign Ministry. These new priorities have led to participation in a major war in Yemen, efforts to isolate Qatar that have broken up an already weak and divided Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and deeper tensions with Iran over its military build-up and efforts to expand its regional influence. Most of the earlier changes at top levels of the Saudi government and security structure were motivated by new King's desire to consolidate power at the top of the government and royal family. In the process they have made Mohammed bin Salman bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (normally referred to as Mohammed bin Salman or “MBS”) the Crown Prince, First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, and President of the Council for Economic and Development Affair – combining the responsibilities for Saudi Arabia’s security, civil sector, and economic development to one man. The more recent changes to the Saudi national security sector and military command made in February 2018 are harder to interpret. There is no way­­—as of yet— to put the changes in the Saudi national security sector and military command structure into perspective. One can speculate that these changes were either a further effort to assert control by a new regime, or part of a serious effort by the Crown Prince to improve Saudi military planning, budgeting & fiscal management, and military operations. Mohammed bin Salman may have been reacting to the lack of progress in the war in Yemen, Saudi tensions with Qatar, and MBS's feelings that too much of the Kingdom's security spending has been wasteful, poorly planned, and involved some element of corruption. Speculation aside, there are no credible reports that provide a reliable "inside" picture of what is happening. What is clear, however, is that the Kingdom has been spending far too large a portion of its economy on security priorities that have yielded uncertain results. This spending on security is large enough to compete with Saudi Arabia's ability to fund its 2030 plan to reform and modernize its economy and social structure. Saudi Arabia must better balance its civil and national security spending by reducing its security spending and using its resources far more effectively.
  • Topic: National Security, Military Strategy, Budget, Leadership, Military Spending
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Persian Gulf