Issue Briefs

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In the issue brief "Europe's Southern Gas Corridor: The Italian (Dis)connection," Atlantic Council senior fellow John M. Roberts gives an update on where things stand in completing a crucial component of the Southern Gas Corridor, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). The pipeline - which will bring Shah Deniz gas from Azerbaijan to Greece, Albania, Italy and other Western European markets - is officially scheduled to open in 2020.

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Iran began its military involvement in Syria in 2011, at the outbreak of the civil war. Tehran’s immediate objective was to defeat the Syrian opposition militarily to save Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The maintenance of the Shia-Alawi-dominated regime in Damascus was key to the Islamic Republic’s long-term regional strategy, the creation of a contiguous Shia arc of influence in the region, linking Iran through Iraq to Syria and Lebanon. The Syrian theater also witnessed changes to Iran's traditional use of proxies, militias, and plausible deniability.

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African film, music, and fashion are exploding in popularity on the global stage. From Nigeria’s Nollywood film industry to the visual arts in South Africa, creative and cultural industries (CCI) represent a new realm of economic op­portunity. From artists to distrib­utors, Africa’s creative economy is currently estimated to employ about half a million people, generates $4.2 billion in revenue, and is growing rapidly. In order to expand Africa’s share of the $2.25 trillion global entertainment market, African governments, busi­nesses, and investors should find innovative ways of supporting, promoting, and investing in CCI.

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In a new issue brief, “Beyond the Three Seas: A Strategy for Extending the 3SI Energy Security Vision to Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova,” Global Energy Center Senior Fellow for Energy Diplomacy David Koranyi outlines the importance of the Three Seas framework for Ukraine and Moldova, and the importance of these countries for the initiative. While not formally a part of The Three Seas framework, which aims to enhance north-south interconnections in energy, transportation, and communications, Ukraine and Moldova are crucial countries for European energy security and would benefit from enhanced interconnections in all three areas—namely energy.

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Of all the political ideas to defend themselves before the court of human history, few have proven as potent and as compelling as that of electoral democracy. Yet in recent years, electoral democracy has once more come under challenge, facing off against popular discontent, revisionist governments, and—most significantly—the rise of new media and digital technologies. These technologies have at times demonstrated exhilarating promise, but they have also created new vulnerabilities that malicious actors have proven able and willing to exploit. This Issue Brief aims to provide a taxonomy of different forms and levels of state involvement in election interference, giving states a common lexicon to respond to cyber threats. It is not enough to simply speak of “hacking the vote”—and hopefully, by providing these initial terms, this report will spur a wider discussion on defining actions and sponsorship in this domain.

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Seven years from the Syrian revolution, the conflict in Syria has altered the course of history for the generation coming of age in the region. It has killed, wounded, or displaced millions of Syrians, worsened regional sectarianism, raised the risk of war between Israel and Iran, generated the worst refugee crisis since World War II, and created a new and more pernicious wave of violent radicals. Its effects extend beyond the region, shaping the outcome of politics around the world.

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Growing international trade and economic ties between the United States and India increasingly shape bilateral relations. However, major challenges including deficiencies in infrastructure, business practices, and protectionist policies pose complex challenges for the future of the US-India trade relationship. The Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center launched the “Unlocking US-India Trade Potential Conference” in Bengaluru, India in November 2017 to address these challenges and explore policy recommendations to further facilitate economic partnership. This report outlines the key discussions that unfolded at the conference and the recommendations offered by experts to elevate the trade relationship between the United States and India to new heights.

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While the West continues to support efforts to democratize the countries of the Eastern Partnership (EaP), shifting international trends threaten to slow the momentum. Increasing confrontation among Western leaders—evidenced, inter alia, by the outbreak of protectionist trade policies and Donald Trump’s dissociation from G7 positions at the June 2018 summit in Quebec—can have unintended consequences across the EaP region, which needs Western harmony if it is to align with Euro-Atlantic visions of common values and security.

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Recent Sino-Indian and Indo-Russian informal agreements to undertake joint projects in Afghanistan mark a geographical paradigm shift in the strategic ambitions of the region’s largest stakeholders. Partnerships in economic and regional connectivity offer the potential to reinvigorate interest in the Afghan peace process and to initiate shifts in regional alignments. But challenges to cooperation remain, including uncertainties regarding US policy in South Asia and Iranian sanctions, the threat of the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran spilling over into the region, the role of Pakistan, and questions regarding the ultimate agenda of the Taliban. Despite these challenges, the opportunity for cooperation between India, China and Russia in the region signals new thinking regarding the Afghan War, and the potential beginning of enhanced cooperation between key stakeholders of an increasingly volatile and unpredictable international system.

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Since the recession of 2008-09, the Russian economy has experienced dramatic highs and lows. Oil prices, sanctions, and geopolitics have all had an impact. Dr. Sergey Aleksashenko, a nonresident senior fellow for global economy and development at the Brookings Institution, analyzes the scale of the impact and the impact of the Russian government's economic and financial support. Dr. Aleksashenko discusses the short-term constraints and the long term challenges for Russian economic growth.

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