Due to proximity and historical ties, no other country is as well placed as Iran to play a dominant role in Afghan society, as Middle East Institute senior fellow Alex Vatanka shows in his new paper, "Iran's Bottom Line in Afghanistan."
This new issue brief argues that the United States should craft a realistic Turkey policy, given the current state of tensions over regional policy and the entrenchment of authoritarianism and illiberalism in Turkey. The piece contends that the trajectory of the relationship between the United States and Turkey suggests a need for the United States to focus on "transactionalism," wherein the majority of bilateral talks are simply aimed at managing a troubled but important relationship, rather than waiting for tensions over US actions in Syria to subside.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has managed to hold onto power through the civil war and has the determined support of Iran to thank for his position. In “Tehran Stands Atop the Syria-Iran Alliance,” author Danielle Pletka examines ties between Syria and Iran, the power relationship that has emerged, and the legacy it leaves for the next Syrian ruler.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have vexed US policy makers for generations. But for American citizens, problems of stability on the peninsula, and North Korean threats to its neighbors were problems over there. Not anymore. North Korea’s dual advances in nuclear weapons and intercontinental delivery systems are edging the situation toward profound. Ever since the term proliferation of weapons of mass destruction entered the lexicon, we have dreaded the idea of a dangerous, wildly unpredictable state—seemingly impervious to sanction—acquiring the capability to hold the US homeland hostage. Yet, that time is approaching. North Korea may be a few years off, as it still needs to perfect its long-range ballistic missiles and miniaturize a nuclear warhead on its cone, but strategic thresholds have been crossed, and we appear no closer to solving the problem.
In Aligning Economic Sanctions, author John Forrer, associate research professor of strategic management and public policy at the School of Business at George Washington University, explains why developing better aligned economic sanctions is critical for this vital foreign policy tool to achieve its desired outcomes.
In “Iran's Fingerprints in Yemen: Real or Imagined?”, Dr. Elisabeth Kendall, nonresident senior fellow with the Brent Scowcroft Center's Middle East Peace and Security Initiative and senior research fellow in Arabic and Islamic studies at Pembroke College at Oxford University, investigates the true extent of Iran's presence in Yemen, including both military and cultural aspects.
“Ukraine’s displaced persons can and should play a role in a sustained peace process, and many are already building bridges and fostering local reconciliation,” write authors Lauren Van Metre, Steven E. Steiner, and Melinda Haring, in "Ukraine’s Internally Displaced Persons Hold a Key to Peace," a new issue brief by the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center and the United States Institute of Peace. After four years of ongoing conflict, Ukraine is home to the world’s ninth-largest population of internally displaced persons (IDPs), with nearly 1.6 million Ukrainians officially registered as IDPs. One third of the displaced Ukrainian population plans to integrate into local communities rather than return to their original home, creating a unique model of local support and integration during conflict. This issue brief examines Ukraine as a possible model for an “enlightened” resettlement process that promotes social cohesion, democratic development, and a constituency for peace.
Understanding what drives Iran’s regional policies is crucial to confronting its challenges. In her new paper, entitled "The Roots and Evolution of Iran’s Regional Strategy," Suzanne Maloney, deputy director of foreign policy and senior fellow for Middle East policy at the Brookings Institution, explores how the Islamic Republic operates throughout the Middle East, and the ideological and strategic underpinnings of its actions. The issue brief concludes that, in addition to core realpolitik, Iran’s policies are driven by its view of itself as an inheritor of the Persian empire’s legacy, Shia ideology, anti-imperialist beliefs, domestic politics, and paranoia for the regime’s security.
In “The New Russia Sanctions Law–What It Does and How to Make It Work,” authors Ambassador Daniel Fried, distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council and former coordinator for sanctions policy at the US State Department, and Brian O’Toole, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, explain that Congress primarily adopted the law to block a unilateral lifting of sanctions, which was under consideration in the early days of the Trump administration. Fried and O’Toole add that, by passing the act, Congress was able to demonstrate its determination to resist Russian aggression in Ukraine and elsewhere and to penalize Russia for hacking the 2016 US presidential election. This paper includes an analysis of the law’s key sanctions provisions, suggestions to the administration about how to implement them, and key areas for the business community to watch, from two former US government officials who helped design and run US sanctions on Russia until earlier this year.
As German Chancellor Angela Merkel enters her fourth term in office, the US-German relationship will need to overcome trade and policy disagreements in order to thrive in today’s uncertain political climate. The administrations in Berlin and Washington, DC should seek new opportunities for closer cooperation, particularly related to security around NATO, policy toward Russia, bilateral trade, and the energy sector. The shared interests of the United States and Germany should drive both administrations to pursue these areas of cooperation in order to strengthen the alliance on which they will continue to depend as the world grows more insecure and the challenges more complex.