Issue Briefs

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It might be true that history does not repeat itself, but it can provide examples of what to do and what does not work. In the spirit of the adage that “those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it,” History’s Lessons for Resolving Today’s Middle East Conflicts, by Mathew J. Burrows, examines past precedents for resolving highly complex conflicts, by delving into seven historic examples of peacemaking. Each conflict is different, but there are common patterns for resolving them. Based on our study of historical precedents, we list seven key requirements for success based on outcomes in these examples and have highlighted several of the precedents of special relevance to the situation today in the Middle East.

 
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Considering its geographic distance and lack of formal allies, the Middle East has played an outsized role in the history of Australia's global engagement. While Australia's interests in the region are real and increasing, as a middle power with finite resources it must take a smart approach to pursuing them. Australia has a strong track record of effective security partnership and investing in a close relationship with a key partner there offers a range of benefits. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is an ideal candidate as the two countries have rapidly built a strong and collaborative relationship, and they share a surprising number of mutual interests. But an expanded relationship faces several natural constraints, and both countries must have a clear-eyed and well-articulated understanding of the benefits and limitations if it is to mature.

 

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NATO faces a worsening security environment defined by Russia's growing willingness to challenge the West and a Europe whole, free, and at peace. In this new geo-political context the Black Sea region is one of the central friction zones between Russia and NATO. While the Alliance has recently pledged to protect its eastern flank against aggression, overall capacity challenges have resulted in little increased presence in the Black Sea. "A NATO Strategy for Security in the Black Sea Region" takes stock of the security and defense challenges in the broader region and offers operational and policy recommendations for NATO to address security in the Black Sea region. 

 
The rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and the concurrent war in Syria present serious challenges to European and Middle Eastern security. For many in the West, the direct appeal by ISIS for scores of men and women to travel to Syria and Iraq in order to live in a self-declared caliphate has overwhelmed intelligence organizations. In Tunisia, Iraq, Libya, France, and Belgium, people who had spent time in Syria or Iraq returned home to carry out terror attacks. Turkey has faced a similar spate of large-scale attacks since the start of the Syrian conflict... READ FULL ANALYSIS ONLINE

 


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China and Russia do not have an established history of prolonged cooperative engagement. However, beginning in 2014, the two countries began laying the foundation for an enduring energy partnership. A secure energy relationship between China and Russia could have profound geopolitical effects in Asia, as well as in Europe. The ramifications of this relationship could alter the role and influence of the United States in Asia.

In this issue brief, Dr. Miyeon Oh, nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center and Brent Scowcroft Center, provides critical analysis of the evolving relationship between China and Russia vis-à-vis energy trade. Examining the evolution of various energy agreements, Dr. Oh breaks her analysis into three stages: relations before the gas deals were signed, relations at the time of signing, and relations following signing. 

 

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The pace with which Iran’s conventional missile program has been developing in recent years suggests that the country’s missiles could become much more accurate, and thus deadly, within a few years, potentially providing Tehran with a new set of military options and a higher degree of operational flexibility. This would force (and most probably already has forced) the Pentagon to strategize and plan for a range of Iran-related military contingencies in the region like never before. As the utility of Iranian missiles expands beyond deterrence and possibly enters the realm of offense, the likelihood of military crises and kinetic flare ups in the Gulf rises.

 

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Iran and Afghanistan have no major territorial disputes, unlike Afghanistan and Pakistan or Pakistan and India. However, a festering disagreement over allocation of water from the Helmand River is threatening their relationship as each side suffers from droughts, climate change, and the lack of proper water management. In “Water Dispute Escalating Between Iran and Afghanistan,” Fatemeh Aman analyzes the issues related to these ancient waterways and lakes that have historic, economic, and national importance for both Iran and Afghanistan.

 
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With the current American election campaign and change in presidential administrations due in January 2017, the debate over appropriate levels of US engagement in an unstable Middle East assumes vital importance. Should a new administration be more proactive in seeking to address threats, resolve conflicts, support allies, and deter foes? Should the new US president be wary about excessive American involvement in complex overseas problems, and focus on other concerns and issues closer to home? What should be done directly by Washington, and what is best addressed by local actors, alliances, and coalitions of the willing? What is the appropriate balance between doing too little and trying to do too much?

 

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Bahrain has been in the political doghouse in Washington ever since its government crushed Arab Spring-inspired popular protests in February 2011, leading to a political crisis between the government and the opposition that has deepened over the past few weeks. So, it was not surprising when the Bahraini government justified its latest crackdown against Al Wefaq, the largest Shiite opposition faction in the country, its explanations fell mostly on closed American ears.

 

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In the midst of Brazil’s current political earthquake, projecting the future of power and politics in the country is an uncertain endeavor. But the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center is taking that chance. The Center has engaged one of Brazil’s top thinkers, our nonresident senior Brazil fellow and economist Ricardo Sennes, to analyze what current trends tell us about who might be the winners and losers of Brazilian politics through the 2018 elections.

The result is a new Atlantic Council brief, "The Path to Power in Brazil," co-written by the Center’s Associate Director, Andrea Murta. "The Path to Power in Brazil" is more than a mere exercise in futurology, it discusses some of the most fundamental questions facing Brasília. Find out where we place our bets!