Atlantic Council

Publications

THIS LAST week's deeply contrasting stories of two New Englanders caught in the Middle East's maelstrom of violence — the savage murder of James Foley and the joyous release from captivity of Peter Theo Curtis — point to a central question: Why do some hostages die while others are released?

Read More

For over a decade, NATO has greatly improved its cyber capabilities. In a new issue brief, “NATO’s Cyber Capabilities: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow,” Jason Healey, director, and Klara Tothova Jordan, assistant director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative in the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council, argue that there is still much that NATO can and should do to reinforce the Alliance’s cyber defenses.

pdfRead the Issue Brief (PDF)

Read More

Bottom Line Up Front:
  • Opposing militias are battling for the control of Libya among the worst violence since the fall of the Qadhafi regime in 2011; a civil war which may continue for years has begun
  • The Libyan government's mistakes early during the transition process after the fall of Qadhafi included delegation of policing authority to newly formed militias whose members were bound by allegiance to clan, city, or region rather than the newly formed government
  • The civil war is increasingly taking the form of casts of many ethnic and sectarian factions
  • After the 2011 revolt, the economy went into a tailspin, but surged in 2012 as oil and natural gas exports and commensurate GDP growth resumed; but failed governance in late 2012 caused energy sector exports to plummet
  • Since mid-2013, GDP declined by almost 10%, and the government's current account is almost in negative territory, infrastructure investment has ground to a halt, and government payrolls are at risk
  • Stabilization efforts will most likely be led by military forces from the nearby and broader region—Algeria, Egypt, and United Arab Emirates, with material assistance and logistical advice provided by NATO and the US
  • The stabilization of Libya is critical, however, to regional states' national interests as the conflict can easily spill into nearby Tunisia, Egypt, Niger, Algeria, and Mali.

Read More

A report by the Atlantic Council's Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center argues that Mexico's recently enacted energy reform will "transform Mexico into a major energy and industrial power."

Co-authored by the Arsht Center's Senior Nonresident Energy Fellow and former US State Department Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, David Goldwyn, NEW report reviews the implementing legislation for the energy reforms signed by President Peña Nieto on August 11, 2014. It concludes that the reforms seek to increase investment in Mexico's hydrocarbons sector and boost oil and gas production levels, and also present ample investment opportunities in the pipeline or midstream infrastructure that will bring natural gas to and throughout Mexico. "Natural gas is the lynchpin of the energy reform", said Goldwyn, "The key to delivering lower cost and more reliable electric power to Mexico is increasing access to natural gas first by pipeline from the U.S., and then over time from indigenous production."

pdfRead the Report (PDF)

pdfEnergy Reform Fact Sheet (PDF)

Read More

Only weeks after the recent Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing suggested a US-China relationship moving forward, there are growing fears among US experts and, if a recent Pew poll of Asian opinion is accurate, among many in Asia, that the US and China may be on a collision course.

It is the topic of endless Washington think tank meetings: What are China's intentions? There are concerns that China's assertive maritime behavior seeks to subtly change the status quo through small, incremental steps, and in the process, erode US credibility in the region.

Read More

The impressive results of U.S. air strikes in Iraq this month are prompting new calls from some quarters for similar U.S. intervention in Syria.

Abdulrahman Dadam, president of the Free Aleppo Governorate Council, wrote an impassioned plea for a U.S./NATO no fly zone to protect his historic city from both the Islamic State (IS) and the regime of Bashar al-Assad and establish a safe corridor from Turkey for humanitarian aid.

Read More

At the onset of the Arab Spring, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that the foundations of the Middle East risked "sinking into the sand" of unrest and extremism. Three years later, the region is still in a period of prolonged tumult and uncertainty. A large youth bulge, poor economic prospects, and uneven development across the region presents significant challenges to a more stable Middle East, but, more positively, the next five to ten years could see a reintroduction of Iran to the international community and a new regional dynamic if the ongoing P5+1 talks reach a lasting nuclear agreement. What is certain is that the future of the Middle East will have profound effects globally and will continue to substantially influence the global political, economic, and security environment.

pdfRead the full report (PDF)  

Read More

Over the past two decades, nuclear weapons have been deemphasized in NATO planning, but this should not be interpreted to mean that the Alliance has abandoned the core principle that a nuclear attack will meet a nuclear response, or that NATO will not retain the necessary means to deliver such a response.

pdfRead the Issue Brief (PDF)

Read More

President Barack Obama is clearly not happy about ordering U.S. military intervention in Iraq again.

But with Islamic State militants (ISIS) terrifyingly close to the Kurdish capital, Irbil, and 40,000 members of a religious minority facing death on a mountaintop, Obama decided to deploy a limited amount of U.S. airpower in a country where U.S. combat operations supposedly ended four years ago.

Iraq has now become Obama's war, too, if to a lesser extent than his three predecessors.

Read More

Among the casualties of the latest Gaza war were nine relatives of a journalist colleague of mine, Asmaa al-Ghoul. They died Sunday, just a day before Israel and Hamas finally accepted a three-day truce.

Two missiles fired by a U.S.-supplied Israeli F-16 collapsed their one-story house in the Rafah refugee camp, killing Asmaa's uncle, Ismail, his wife, Khadra, their two sons, Wael and Mohammed, their two daughters, Hanadi and Asmaa, and Wael's three children, Ismail, Malik and Mustafa, the last only 24 days old. According to my colleague, none of them were members of Hamas or any other Palestinian political faction.

It is easy to be cynical about this latest orgy of Middle Eastern violence. Why single out nine deaths when more than 1,800 other Palestinians – and more than 60 Israelis – also died in the last month, and scores of noncombatants are still perishing every day in Syria, Iraq and Libya?

Read More