Issue Briefs

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In “Iran's Fingerprints in Yemen: Real or Imagined?”, Dr. Elisabeth Kendall, nonresident senior fellow with the Brent Scowcroft Center's Middle East Peace and Security Initiative and senior research fellow in Arabic and Islamic studies at Pembroke College at Oxford University, investigates the true extent of Iran's presence in Yemen, including both military and cultural aspects.

 

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“Ukraine’s displaced persons can and should play a role in a sustained peace process, and many are already building bridges and fostering local reconciliation,” write authors Lauren Van Metre, Steven E. Steiner, and Melinda Haring, in "Ukraine’s Internally Displaced Persons Hold a Key to Peace," a new issue brief by the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center and the United States Institute of Peace. After four years of ongoing conflict, Ukraine is home to the world’s ninth-largest population of internally displaced persons (IDPs), with nearly 1.6 million Ukrainians officially registered as IDPs. One third of the displaced Ukrainian population plans to integrate into local communities rather than return to their original home, creating a unique model of local support and integration during conflict. This issue brief examines Ukraine as a possible model for an “enlightened” resettlement process that promotes social cohesion, democratic development, and a constituency for peace.

 
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Understanding what drives Iran’s regional policies is crucial to confronting its challenges. In her new paper, entitled "The Roots and Evolution of Iran’s Regional Strategy," Suzanne Maloney, deputy director of foreign policy and senior fellow for Middle East policy at the Brookings Institution, explores how the Islamic Republic operates throughout the Middle East, and the ideological and strategic underpinnings of its actions. The issue brief concludes that, in addition to core realpolitik, Iran’s policies are driven by its view of itself as an inheritor of the Persian empire’s legacy, Shia ideology, anti-imperialist beliefs, domestic politics, and paranoia for the regime’s security.

 

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In “The New Russia Sanctions Law–What It Does and How to Make It Work,” authors Ambassador Daniel Fried, distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council and former coordinator for sanctions policy at the US State Department, and Brian O’Toole, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, explain that Congress primarily adopted the law to block a unilateral lifting of sanctions, which was under consideration in the early days of the Trump administration. Fried and O’Toole add that, by passing the act, Congress was able to demonstrate its determination to resist Russian aggression in Ukraine and elsewhere and to penalize Russia for hacking the 2016 US presidential election. This paper includes an analysis of the law’s key sanctions provisions, suggestions to the administration about how to implement them, and key areas for the business community to watch, from two former US government officials who helped design and run US sanctions on Russia until earlier this year.

 

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As German Chancellor Angela Merkel enters her fourth term in office, the US-German relationship will need to overcome trade and policy disagreements in order to thrive in today’s uncertain political climate. The administrations in Berlin and Washington, DC should seek new opportunities for closer cooperation, particularly related to security around NATO, policy toward Russia, bilateral trade, and the energy sector. The shared interests of the United States and Germany should drive both administrations to pursue these areas of cooperation in order to strengthen the alliance on which they will continue to depend as the world grows more insecure and the challenges more complex.

 
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As a global challenge with profound implications at the local level, climate change provides new opportunities for individual engagement. Communities around the world have their own unique experiences with the effects of climate change, as well as drastically different climate adaptation needs. This gives individuals an unprecedented role to play in sharing information and guiding policymaking through citizen-based observation. In “Using Citizen-Based Observations to Plan for Climate Change,” Sarah Abdelrahim looks at the work of a variety of citizen-based observation networks, also known as citizens’ observatories. She recommends greater cooperation and support from government agencies and decision-makers for these networks as a key aspect of any and all climate change adaptation strategies.

 
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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. 

 

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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.”

 

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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. 

 

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NATO currently finds itself in an increasingly competitive international environment, with potential adversaries who field, among other things, progressively capable ballistic and cruise missile capabilities. This is particularly the case with Russia, which has proven itself capable of fielding conventional long- range strike capabilities that can reach far into NATO territory. Russia’s ballistic missiles, such as the Iskander system, represent a real threat not only to NATO members in the region, but also to potential forward basing locations needed for US and NATO reinforcements in a crisis.

 

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