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.
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.
Despite Sudan’s checkered diplomatic history with the United States, the Trump administration has an opportunity to recalibrate what could be a constructive relationship in a critical part of the world. In determining what a successful US-Sudanese relationship could look like, the administration has an opportunity to both serve US interests in Sudan and beyond and encourage peace and security for Sudan’s citizens.
To many, the European Union (EU) is a complex entity overburdened by rules. In The European Union Could Be Simple, Inclusive, or Effective. Pick Two., author Dimiter Toshkov, an associate professor at the Institute of Public Administration at Leiden University, presents the structural dilemma facing the EU: accommodating the diverse interests of twenty-eight member states while delivering effective policies for over 510 million citizens in a simple way.
This report is based on a series of interviews with US officials and details two efforts to achieve US objectives to take back territory from ISIS in Syria—with elements trained in Turkey, as part of the Train and Equip program, and through the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the dominant local force in northeastern Syria.
We are living in a world awash in data. Accelerated interconnectivity, driven by the proliferation of internet-connected devices, has led to an explosion of data—big data. A race is now underway to develop new technologies and implement innovative methods that can handle the volume, variety, velocity, and veracity of big data and apply it smartly to provide decisive advantage and help solve major challenges facing companies and governments.
China's global influence is on the rise. In Latin America, Chinese firms are not only increasing their investment, but rapidly expanding to new areas of the economy. To explore the implications for all stakeholders in the region, the Atlantic Council, in partnership with the OECD, launched on June 26 a revealing study analyzing data not previously available to the public. New numbers show dramatic rises in FDI from China in Latin America—beyond oil and mining, China is today focusing on ICT, electricity, finance, and alternative energy.
For the past three decades, Libya has been a rich recruiting ground for the global jihad. Investigating the precursors and then subsequent evolution of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and other extremist actors throughout this period presents actionable insights into how jihadist actors coalesce; how they interfere in post-conflict state building; the threats they pose to civilians, nascent economies, and external states; and finally, what complexities remain when their hold on territory has been eradicated, but their adherents have not been killed nor their ideology debunked. In The Origins and Evolution of ISIS in Libya, Jason Pack, Rhiannon Smith, Karim Mezran examine ISIS’s pre-history, birth, expansion, consolidation, and dispersal in Libya, as well as the broader political context of the country. They offer advice and recommendations for how Western governments and militaries should approach jihadist actors globally.