Reports

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The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is experiencing a time of great transformation and as well as tumult. Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Dr. Karim Mezran and Dr. Arturo Varvelli of the Italian Institute for International Political Studies gathered experts to explore decentralization and political Islam in six MENA countries in “The Arc of Crisis in the MENA Region: Fragmentation, Decentralization, and Islamist Opposition.”

The report is divided into three parts. The first explores whether decentralization can positively contribute to more effective governance in fragmented environments across the region. The second examines the diverse manifestations of political Islam following the changes several countries experienced after the 2011 uprisings. The third addresses the issue of energy, including the challenges and opportunities it presents in the current political climate.

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International political dark money is a crucial, but little-understood, part of a toolkit of techniques that have been used, with accelerating intensity, to influence major liberal democracies and transition states over the last decade. Using three concrete case studies, this report outlines the active threat of dark money in the context of hostile powers’ subversion operations, explains how current legislation and enforcement mechanisms are inadequate, and proposes a “layered defense.”

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For several years, Turkey has been hosting the world’s largest refugee population. This report, “Toward Long-Term Solidarity with Syrian Refugees? Turkey’s Policy Response and Challenges,” takes a comprehensive look at the policies, actors and issues that have characterized Turkey’s approach to Syrian refugees since 2011. In this age of mass refugee flows, Turkey distinguishes itself from other countries for demonstrating both financial and organizational capacities, as well as a strong political will to welcome refugees. Open door, camps and temporary protection have been at the core of Turkey’s approach. But an uninterrupted inflow of refugees, as well as a complicated foreign and domestic political environment, has put some limitations on Turkey’s welcome. And Turkey’s praised policy put in place in 2014-2015 has been slowly dismantled over time (with the sidelining of camps, the closing of the border, the limitation on freedom of movement for Syrians, early returns, possible push backs, etc.), and a new sense of direction now needs to be put in place.

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In an era of increasing technological, cultural and geo-political change, the rise of disinformation undermines the institutions that nations rely on to function and creates risks across society. At the heart of the challenge is the battle of truth and trust. In this report, “Whose Truth: Sovereignty, Disinformation and Winning the Battle of Trust, John Watts draws upon a rich discussion on the threat that disinformation poses to state’s sovereignty by a diverse group of experts as part of a US Special Operations Command program. The paper explores the themes and key takeaways of a discourse that explored the causes and impacts of the current complex information environment, its implications for state sovereignty, the range of threats it poses and how a natural maturation of the changed environment can be accelerated by groups at every layer of society.

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With our modern-day reliance on digital technology, software and system vulnerabilities have become increasingly hard to avoid. Thoroughly eliminating all these vulnerabilities can be a challenge, but through a coordinated vulnerability disclosure (CVD) program, governments and private companies can mitigate them with the help of independent security researchers. When instituted and followed, a CVD program allows companies to manage the process of disclosure and handling of vulnerabilities in a controlled fashion by working with security researchers to coordinate a set of common terms and a timeline.

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In a new report, Three Pipelines and the Three Seas: BRUA, TAP, the IAP and Gasification in Southeast Europe, Global Energy Center Fellow John Roberts takes a comprehensive look at the state of gas infrastructure and interconnections throughout southeast Europe.

Integration in the region, which includes countries that were formerly members of the Warsaw Pact, is crucially important not just for economic development and the further integration of the European gas market, but also as a bulwark against reliance on Russian gas supplies. Interconnection offers options and liquidity—crucial for competition and energy security.

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The Republic of Moldova, a sliver of land bordering the European Union (EU) and NATO’s eastern edge, finds itself at a critical crossroads twenty-seven years after gaining independence from the Soviet Union. Eager to forge closer ties with Brussels and Washington, the government has made concerted efforts to bring the country closer in line with the West’s expectations and conditions required for a strong ally and partner. Genuine progress has been made over the past couple of years and the country has achieved financial and economic stability with the support of its development partners; it has reached over 4 percent economic growth, lowered inflation, fixed huge problems in the banking sector, and replaced Russia with the EU as its main trading partner.

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In “Climate Leadership in Uncertain Times,” authors Joshua Busby and Nigel Purvis argue that international climate cooperation continues to have promise and potential, even in the current political climate. The authors lay out a comprehensive view of climate leadership, examining climate policy in the United States under President Trump, the potential for climate leadership around the world, best practices for pursuing change, and areas to target for effective cooperation and maximum impact.

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Sweden’s leadership in pushing European values in former Soviet republics, combined with the end of its neutrality, has placed the country in a values-based conflict of interest with Russia. Sweden faces a time of political turmoil. In recent years the migration crisis in Europe has come to dominate Swedish politics, with the debate growing more polarized and an increasing number of voters turning to antiestablishment parties.

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The Islamic Tradition and the Human Rights Discourse is a collection of thought provoking articles that aim to elevate the conversation on Islam and human rights beyond the confines of "compatibility." The report, compiled and edited by Dr. H.A. Hellyer, nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, sheds light on new methods for the exploration and engagement of the Islamic tradition and the rights discourse, featuring theoretical and practical accounts by Muslim scholars, academics, and human rights practitioners.

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