New Year celebrations

2010 will be a year of confusion, further confounded by ongoing violence, for west-south-central Asia. The region will be in flux, shifting from nowhere to nowhere, rather than in a transition for which the journey is charted and the destination known.

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2009 was a year of major decisions in South Asia, especially in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater, as local populations and governments took decisive actions.

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In addition to the obvious trouble spots – Afghanistan, Iraq and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict – the countries that will preoccupy the Obama administration in the coming year are the PITEY nations: Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, and Yemen.

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To most Americans, with deference to climate change and Iran, the major national security threat to the nation emanates from al-Qaida. Yet strategic incompetence on our part may be a greater danger. This characteristic is not new.

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The recent and growing attention to the critical situation in Yemen, where al Qaeda's presence is spreading and the government is weak and does not control much of the physical space, is perhaps the best argument for pursuing a vigorous Afghanistan policy.

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The details of the thwarted attack on Northwest 253 on Christmas are still emerging.  Nevertheless, there are several issues worth exploring even as investigations continue.  Many commentators seem to feel that this event requires a major rethinking of our approach to counter-terrorism. 

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Time to Retire the Russia Reset Button

In 2010, one New Year's resolution for the Obama administration would be to retire the entire "Russia reset" meme. From its ill-omened launch with the presentation of a button by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov – inscribed in Latin (not Cyrillic) letters with a Russian word that implies a party is being shortchanged – the "reset" has labored under an apparent curse.

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Alexandros Petersen, a nonresident senior fellow at the Council's Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, was interviewed by Azerbaijan's Today.az on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

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Mark Mardell, North America Editor, BBC

Sarwar Kashmeri, a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council's International Security Program, continues his interview with Mark Mardell, North America editor of the BBC, for the New Atlanticist Podcast Series.  In this second installment, Mardell discussed relations between NATO allies.

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For America's 16 intelligence agencies, employing some 100,000 spies and analysts with a budget of $50 billion, it is almost mission impossible to figure out what terrorists and would-be terrorists are up to in cyberspace.

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