Reports & Papers

232 Items

Tractors on Westminster bridge

AP/Matt Dunham

Paper - Institut für Sicherheitspolitik

The Global Order After COVID-19

| 2020

Despite the far-reaching effects of the current pandemic,  the essential nature of world politics will not be transformed. The territorial state will remain the basic building-block of international affairs, nationalism will remain a powerful political force, and the major powers will continue to compete for influence in myriad ways. Global institutions, transnational networks, and assorted non-state actors will still play important roles, of course, but the present crisis will not produce a dramatic and enduring increase in global governance or significantly higher levels of international cooperation. In short, the post-COVID-19 world will be less open, less free, less prosperous, and more competitive than the world many people expected to emerge only a few years ago.

A satellite view of Djibouti, showing the U.S. Navy’s Camp Lemonnier (bottom) and the People’s Liberation Army Support Base (top).

2020 Google Earth / Maxar Technologies, used with permission.

Paper

Cooperation, Competition, or Both? Options for U.S. Land Forces vis-à-vis Chinese Interests in Africa

| June 2020

This paper responds to a topic from the Army War College’s Key Strategic Issues List, 2018-2020: Evaluate the ramifications of China’s and/or Russia’s interests in Africa for U.S. land forces and suggest options, both to compete and to cooperate, to further U.S. interests.

While U.S. land forces may benefit from competition or cooperation with Chinese elements in Africa, I judge that they possess limited agency to compete or cooperate in the context of these definitions. Therefore, I will take a whole-of-government approach to furthering U.S. interests in Africa vis-à-vis China.

A large refugee camp on the Syrian side of the border with Turkey, near the town of Atma, in Syria’s Idlib province, April 19, 2020.

AP Photo/Ghaith Alsayed

Paper

Syria Redux: Preventing the Spread of Violent Extremism Through Weaponized Populations and Mobile Safehavens

| May 2020

The resurgence of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the next evolution of violent extremist ideology will undoubtedly flow from this region. Regional and global actors have protracted the conflict and stymied the peace process. This paper is not an exposé on the plight of Syrian refugees nor is a plea to rebuild Syria. Instead, this paper discusses the national security threat components of weaponized populations and mobile safe havens used by violent extremist organizations and offers policy recommendations to support a long-term strategy to reduce violence in the region, contain these new threats, and set conditions for reconciliation and peace.

Report - International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence

Will ‘We Won’ Become ‘Mission Accomplished’? A US Withdrawal and The Scramble for Northeastern Syria

| Dec. 16, 2019

This report charts some of the major developments in northeastern Syria from the December 2018 withdrawal announcement up until the start of Operation Peace Spring on 9 October 2019. It describes and notes the significance of the bitter dispute between Ankara and Washington over a proposed "safe zone," analyses how the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have sought to navigate the crisis and gauges the strength of the so‑called Islamic State (IS) in Syria. Providing this context enables this report to selectively incorporate more limited analysis on the latest and most pertinent developments in northeastern Syria at the time of this writing.

The nuclear archive warehouse outside Tehran (Satellite image via Google).

Satellite image via Google

Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

The Iran Nuclear Archive: Impressions and Implications

In mid-January, a team of scholars from the Belfer Center’s Intelligence and Managing the Atom Projects traveled to Tel Aviv, Israel to examine samples of, and receive briefings on, an archive of documents related to Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The large cache includes some 55,000 pages of documents and a further 55,000 files on CDs that included photos and videos. A clandestine Israeli intelligence operation spirited the materials out of Iran in early 2018.

The documents that the Belfer group were shown confirm that senior Iranian officials had decided in the late 1990s to actually manufacture nuclear weapons and carry out an underground nuclear test; that Iran’s program to do so made more technical progress than had previously been understood; and that Iran had help from quite a number of foreign scientists, and access to several foreign nuclear weapon designs. The archive also leaves open a wide range of questions, including what plan, if any, Iran has had with respect to nuclear weapons in the nearly 16 years since Iran’s government ordered a halt to most of the program in late 2003. 

This brief report summarizes the group’s conclusions about what the archive reveals about Iran’s program and questions that remain open.

Fans react as they watch the “Greatest Royal Rumble” event in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Friday, April 27, 2018. A previous WWE event held in 2014 was for men only, but Friday night’s event included both women and children in attendance. AP Photo/Amr Nabil

AP Photo/Amr Nabil

Paper - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Profile of a Prince: Promise and Peril in Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030

| April 2019

This report, based on three prolonged trips to the Kingdom over the past year, the most recent in January 2019, will take a deep look at Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who dominates every aspect of foreign and domestic policy, to try to answer what lies behind his Mona Lisa smile. It will also examine the Kingdom’s social progress, its economic stagnation and its growing political repression. Readers will have to evaluate for themselves whether the social progress he has offered Saudis in general—and women in particular—offset his autocratic tactics at home and abroad.

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Paper - Harvard Business School

In the Shadows? Informal Enterprise in Non-Democracies

| February 2019

Why do regimes allow some low-income business owners to avoid taxes by operating informally? Electoral incentives are central to prevailing explanations of governments’ forbearance of informal enterprise. Yet many unelected regimes host large informal economies. This article examines forbearance in non-democracies. We argue that unelected regimes forbear their supporters’ informal businesses. We test this argument in Jordan. Using survey data of over 3,800 micro and small enterprises (MSEs), we find that informal businesses are more likely to operate in districts with higher rates of public sector employment, the crown jewel of the Jordanian regime’s patronage. Interviews with over sixty of the surveyed firm owners across four strategically paired districts illustrate that business owners covet forbearance, and that kinship ties to public sector employees limit forbearance to regime supporters. Communities that attract higher rates of public sector employment forfeit higher levels of fiscal revenue by permitting informality. This complementarity between public sector employment and forbearance amplifies inequalities between regime supporters and opponents in non-democracies.

(POMEPS Studies)

(POMEPS Studies)

Report Chapter - Project on Middle East Political Science

A landing strategy for Saudi Arabia

| January, 2019

With rising population and incomes, the “rentier” mode of development in Saudi Arabia has long been unsustainable. While the issue of fiscal stabilization will occupy policy-making in Saudi Arabia in the short and medium terms, the long-term challenge of finding new sources of growth to complement oil has only been made starker by the recent drop in oil prices. Analysis of the prospects for such reforms in KSA has long been divided between two opposite camps: those who believe that the inadequacies of the rentier model will necessarily usher a doomsday scenario sooner or later, regardless of economic policies; and those who believe the impending crisis can be met by moving from the current mono-sector economy to a modern and diversified knowledge based economy OECD-style.

Russia's Energy Foray into Asia: Implications for U.S. Interests

kees torn/Flickr

Paper - National Bureau of Asian Research

Russia's Energy Foray into Asia: Implications for U.S. Interests

This essay examines Russia’s growing role in Asia’s energy markets, assesses the implications for the U.S., and examines the claim that closer Sino-Russian energy ties are adding new incentives for a broader strategic alignment.

Report - Project on Middle East Political Science

POMEPS Studies 31: Social Policy in the Middle East and North Africa

This spring, major protests swept through Jordan over economic grievances and subsidy reforms. In July, protestors took to the streets in the south of Iraq, demanding that the government address persistent unemployment, underdevelopment, and corruption. Meanwhile, earlier in 2018, Tunisians launched a wave of protests to oppose tax hikes on basic goods and increased cost of living. Such highly politicized responses to social policy concerns are the norm rather than the exception across the Middle East and North Africa.