Revolution Unveiled: A Closer Look at Iran’s Presence and Influence in the Middle East, by Phillip Smyth, Tim Michetti, and Owen Daniels, pieces together snapshots of Iran’s influence in the region using photographic analysis, geolocation, social media monitoring, and other methods. Through four case studies, this report systematically examines new or lesser-known methods Iran employs to project its influence beyond its borders. By using proxy Shia groups, ideology, arms provision, and transnational networks, Tehran destabilizes and strikes at regional adversaries to achieve its strategic and policy objectives.
Although often overshadowed by significantly larger energy systems in India and China, Indonesia is assuming an increasingly important role in international energy markets and global efforts to address climate change. In Transforming the Power Sector in Developing Countries: Indonesia’s Diversification Challenge,” Global Energy Center nonresident Senior Fellow Dr. Robert F. Ichord, Jr. identifies the challenges Indonesia faces in the energy sector and provides recommendations for policy makers and other stakeholders on strategic priorities. As Ichord points out, Indonesia is a critical country for international power sector transformation—the question is how to meet Indonesia’s growing electricity needs in a clean, efficient, and affordable manner.
In our latest Spotlight publication, David Goldwyn, chairman of the Atlantic Council Energy Advisory Group and nonresident senior energy fellow at the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, outlines four ways NAFTA can improve energy market integration and competitiveness.
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China’s major financial commitments to Africa, coupled with its double digit returns, have discouraged American companies from breaking into African markets. Amid growing concerns regarding China’s expanding economic influence on the continent, a reassessment of America’s business edge and overall competitiveness is past due.
For America’s consumer goods companies, the latest shifts in African consumer trends hold much promise. Africa’s population is growing at an outstanding rate and spending by consumers and businesses on the continent is forecast to grow significantly over the next decade. However, US investors often oversimplify and misunderstand African markets, which remain highly segmented, fluid, and absent of a discernible “middle.”
The Atlantic Council's State Department Reform Report—written by a group of ten foreign policy experts—explores the critical subject areas of structure and process, personnel, budget, congressional relations, and USAID. The report serves as a foundation for reform efforts that will lead to the empowerment of the State Department at a time when a rapidly evolving global environment consistently poses new challenges and threats. The department's role is indeed unique and vital in the US national security apparatus; diplomacy based in continued and robust support for US interests and values is critical to favorable long-term outcomes, including a more secure and stable global environment.
The US Congress enacted the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA) to ensure that the American people were aware when foreign governments funded media sources; at the time, their concerns focused on the Nazi regime in Germany. Today, this issue has resurfaced with concerns about the Russian propaganda outlet RT (formerly Russia Today). RT broadcasts are reliably consistent with official statements of the Russian government, which is unsurprising, as it is 99 percent funded by the Kremlin. In Agent of Influence, author Elena Postnikova not only argues that RT should register with FARA but makes a legal case for it while laying out recommendations for policy makers. At a minimum, RT’s activities warrant a thorough investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Strong evidence supports the conclusion that Russia’s RT is owned, controlled, and financed by the Russian state. RT advances Russia’s interests abroad and uses communication channels to influence US domestic and foreign policy. RT has not presented evidence to support that it is a bona fide media organization, which would be excluded from registration. If RT fails to respond to a DOJ inquiry or to present ample evidence that it should be exempt, an enforcement action should follow.
US energy policy is on the brink of a dramatic shift as President Donald Trump seeks to dismantle the Obama Administration’s environmentally-friendly energy initiatives, remove environmental and climate concerns from US energy policies, and reorient focus on producing low-cost energy and creating American jobs. To achieve the desired increase in domestic fossil fuel production and energy employment, President Trump, his administration, and his allies have promised to implement the America First Energy Plan, intended to reinvigorate the US coal industry, expand domestic fossil fuel production, cut regulations, open federal land for fossil fuel exploration, and reduce federal support for climate and environmental programs.
The Venezuela Spotlight is authored by David Mortlock, former director for International Economic Affairs at the White House National Security Council and nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center; and Francisco Monaldi, fellow in Latin American Energy Policy at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and founding director of the Center for Energy and the Environment at the Management Studies Institute (IESA) in Venezuela. Together, they break down the options and lay out principles to be applied as the international community assesses next steps.
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