Issue Briefs

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!
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On the eve of the 2016 Warsaw Summit, NATO faces a new and challenging security environment dominated by a revanchist Russia increasingly willing to challenge the West and turbulence and violence across the Mediterranean's southern rim. In this new security environment, the maritime domains around Europe are potential friction zones and where these challenges increasingly play out. The Russian navy is growing its capabilities, is increasingly active, and challenges NATO at sea. In April, Russian attack jets buzzed the USS Donald Cook at close range in the Baltic Sea, but that is only one example of recent risky interactions. The Alliance, however, has not yet done enough to prepare for these new challenges in the maritime domain. The current Alliance Maritime Strategy, approved in 2011, does not reflect this challenging security environment and is instead focused on lower-end missions and challenges, such as counter-piracy.

 

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On June 23, 2016, a referendum will decide whether Britain will leave the European Union (EU) or remain a member. Britain’s departure from the EU would affect the rest of the world, because it would have implications for a broad spectrum of international concerns–very importantly, international security. For the United States, Britain remains among the most important allies across the security spectrum, but the prospects of a Brexit leave the future of UK-US security cooperation uncertain.

 

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Since the start of the Ukraine crisis, the Baltic States have come into sharp focus as a key friction zone between a much more assertive Russia on the one hand, and the United States, NATO, and the broader transatlantic community on the other. NATO and the United States have made promising first steps to better secure the Baltic States and the surrounding region. But meeting the challenge of an assertive Russia under Vladimir Putin will require a long-term strategy by NATO, and the United States in particular. In this piece, the Atlantic Council’s Damon Wilson and Magnus Nordenman argue that a coherent strategy for the region must be built on a clear vision, a determined force posture, regional cooperation, and a focused program—supported by resources from across the Alliance—to build Baltic deterrent capabilities. These efforts, backed by strong US leadership, will ensure northeast Europe remains stable, secure, and prosperous.

 

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