Reports

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New US sanctions on Russia now being implemented by the administration were imposed in August 2017and included additional sanctions on the energy sector. This new legislation both tightens earlier sanctions and includes sanctions against entities supporting or investing in Russia's oil and gas pipeline networks. The sanctions were intended to delay and hamper Russia's ability to develop various energy projects, but Russia recently reached noteworthy levels of oil production and gas exports. In his new report, "Impact of Sanctions on Russia's Energy Sector," Global Energy Center Non-Resident Senior Fellow Bud Coote addresses the impact of US and European Union sanctions on Russia's energy sector, Moscow's strategy and actions to deal with energy-related sanctions, and some of the geopolitical and other implications of Russia's ability to cope with these sanctions. Coote's analysis highlights how Moscow has managed to successfully pursue its energy goals, despite the broader negative impact of sanctions on other areas of the Russian economy.

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The buildup and threatening exercise of Russian conventional forces has been an important component of Russia’s multifaceted anti-Western campaign. NATO has the inherent capacity to deter, or if necessary prevail in, a conventional conflict. Its forces, however, while large, are currently neither adequately ready nor oriented to ensure that such deterrence is fully credible or that a warfighting campaign could be promptly successful. This report proposes that NATO should enhance its deterrent and warfighting posture in Europe by adopting at the 2018 NATO Summit the strategy of “Effective Deterrence by Prompt Reinforcement,” specifically in reference to Russian activities that have increased the conventional challenge to the Alliance. Key components of the strategy include a readiness initiative, enhanced intelligence, rapid decision-making, prompt reinforcement by United States and European ground and air forces, expanded maritime capabilities, integration of highly capable cyber nations’ capacities, and establishment of an integrated plan for the multi-domain defense of Europe.

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This report analyzes four country-level case studies to examine the factors that have shaped countries’ ability to react to a sudden influx of asylum seekers or refugees, and demonstrates a spectrum of success in integration. The paper looks at three Arab countries—Lebanon, Tunisia, and Egypt—that have hosted large numbers of asylum seekers and refugees, particularly since 2011, and Germany, which willingly took on one million Syrian asylum seekers and refugees starting in 2015. Germany stands out in contrast to the other countries in this report for several reasons: it is neither in the Middle East nor bordering or near a conflict zone, it has a robust economy and sophisticated legal system for integrating refugees, and, foremost among its European neighbors, it willingly accepted the refugees, whereas others took them in largely involuntarily.

 

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Power and Influence in a Globalized World outlines the strategic framework of the international system's capabilities and interactions amongst the global community. The report shows how power and influence are derived from more than just coercive military capabilities, but are exercised through networks of economic, political, and security interactions involving states as well as non-state actors. The function of this report is to fill in the conceptual and empirical gaps, by creating a new index, the Foreign Bilateral Influence Capacity (FBIC) Index. The FBIC is tasked with identifying the key influencers in the international community, and analyzing those that register above or below their weight in the world, altogether clarifying where the United States and others stand in the international system. The FBIC Index is based on the interaction between states, as well as the relative dependence of one state on another.

 

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Across the Middle East and North Africa, population growth is driving demand for air conditioning, water, and infrastructure, which has in turn led to more demand for electricity. Middle Eastern countries, particularly in the Gulf, are increasingly looking to renewable energy to meet their growing energy needs. Much of the emphasis is on solar, including photovoltaic panels and concentrated solar power, along with increased interest in wind energy. 

 

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Oil production already provides much-needed revenue and economic development and underwrites the Iraqi federal budget. Meanwhile, gas development could also play a key role in Iraq’s future by fostering broad based economic development, improving electric service provision, and fostering value-added industries, according to the report, Shaping Iraq’s Oil and Gas Future, launched at The Atlantic Council’s 2018 Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi. 

 

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When global oil and gas prices fell in 2014, many oil-producing countries, including those in the Gulf, felt the consequences and began to face the stark reality that oil revenue-based economies must diversify in order to continue prospering. In the wake of the dramatic price change and the expectation that prices will not return to their previous highs, many oil revenue-based economies in the Gulf region began to implement, or are planning to enact, economic reforms. Four such countries are Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait. Their reforms are important, but for these four nations, in order to continue innovating and prospering economically, it is crucial to craft policies that strive to include women in the workforce. 

 

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As climate change increases the vulnerability of communities to major natural disasters, cities are taking on leadership roles in climate adaptation planning and implementation. This requires deep coordination between leaders across jurisdictions and significant infrastructure investment. Many cities have already begun planning for current and future climate threats, often with the help of international networks dedicated to bringing local leaders together to share best practices.

 

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The United States faces threats from outside its borders, but also from within. While domestic issues including healthcare, immigration, and tax reform occupy the media, a more sinister threat exists underfoot. The political system that once created a strong, prosperous, and united nation now sows division. Many of the country’s public institutions, most notably Congress, seem increasingly inept and dangerously dysfunctional. Permanent campaign mode is distracting the country’s institutions from their responsibilities, alienating the public from civic processes, and leaving the country vulnerable to foreign interference.

 

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Rebuilding Syria by Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Faysal Itani and independent international security analyst Tobias Schneider, focuses on large, strategic policy questions: Why should the international community help rebuild Syria? Should it work with the Syrian government? If so, can the promise of rebuilding be used as leverage? Who are the local partners? What are the priorities in terms of sequencing?

 

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