Issue Briefs

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With the meteoric rise of Islamic political movements in 2011, the issue of Sharia law has come to the forefront of a debate around the role of religion in governance. In his issue brief “Islam and Sharia Law,” Atlantic Council’s Nonresident Fellow Yussef Auf identifies and explains the challenges of incorporating Sharia law into the legal framework of modern governments, using the example of Egypt to enumerate the difficulties of codifying religious doctrine into law. Auf discusses how Sharia law attempts to regulate public life in three different domains: political governance, the Islamic legal system, and the economic system.

 


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Turkey has been the most engaged regional player in northern Syria and is the external actor most responsible for the emergence of the opposition to the Syrian regime. In “Turkey’s Syria Predicament,” authors Faysal Itani and Aaron Stein of the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East examine Turkey’s involvement, its implications for Turkish domestic politics, its impact on the Syrian insurgency and course of the war, and the implications for US foreign policy.

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Political mistrust in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is high and this, in turn, has historically led to shortsighted economic policies and disjointed coordination. As India asserts itself as a global economic player, its leadership, specifically in SAARC, may lead to the political successes necessary to ensure broader connectivity and cooperation in the region. In this new issue brief, “Cooperation in South Asia: The Case for Redefining Alliances,” Dr. Manjari Chatterjee Miller and Dr. Bharath Gopalaswamy re-examine SAARC and point to realignments within SAARC that may boost the effectiveness of the often-times ineffective body.


 

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In January 2016, oil prices fell to their lowest levels in more than a decade. Meanwhile, China, the world’s second-largest economy, is experiencing its most sluggish growth in a quarter-century—dragging down commodity prices and dampening the global economic outlook. The effects of this broad slowdown will hurt African economies more than most, because China and other emerging markets are not only primary consumers of African commodities, but also are the primary source of financing for the major infrastructure and other development projects that are essential to Africa’s future growth.

 


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Russia’s increasingly hostile actions and the emerging Anti-Access/Area-Denial (A2/AD) challenge in Europe’s northeast have demonstrated that bolstering defense and deterrence on NATO’s eastern flank is a strategic imperative for the Alliance–especially for the Baltic states. An effective maritime framework would be a critical element in an integrated NATO deterrence and reassurance strategy for the Baltic Sea region. 


 


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2015 brought important reforms to Ukraine, particularly in the energy sector. It is in this light that Dr. Anders Åslund, Resident Senior Fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, examines the promises kept and broken by the Post-Maidan government in Ukraine. “Never before has a Ukrainian government carried out so many sensible energy reforms, and in no other area has the Ukrainian government achieved reforms as radical as in the energy sector in 2015” states Dr. Aslund.

 

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The Internet of Things (IoT) is the next step in the evolution of wireless networks. Analysts predict the IoT will double in size to nearly 50 billion devices by 2020, comprising a $1.7 trillion market. One of the greatest opportunities still lies ahead in the form of the “smart home.”

 

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Far-right parties are on the rise in Europe, particularly in the post-soviet space. The 2008 financial crisis provided these parties with an electoral boost, and the refugee crisis threatening the continent has inflamed nationalist and xenophobic populism. In this new issue brief, “What’s Left of Europe if the Far Right Has Its Way?”, Dr. Alina Polyakova, Deputy Director of the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, and Dr. Anton Shekhovtsov, a visiting fellow at the Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna, Austria, explore the realities and repercussions of the rise of far-right parties in Eastern Europe.

 

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NATO exercises play a vital role in ensuring that Alliance forces can respond to any contingency quickly and effectively. In light of new threats along NATO’s eastern and southern borders, exercises have become increasingly important. Alliance exercises improve militaries’ operational skills, reassure member states, and deter NATO adversaries. Despite its importance, NATO’s exercise program as it currently stands is not as efficient and effective as it could be.

 

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With a population of almost 80 million people and unparalleled natural resources, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the DRC or the Congo) is a country of tremendous potential—but only that. One of the most violent places on earth, its people suffer from the brutality of armed groups and political instability. Now, President Joseph Kabila’s steadfast refusal to move forward with constitutionally required elections in 2016 is a worrying indicator that new waves of violence may not be far off.
 

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