Middle East & North Africa

19 Items

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.

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.

(MENARA)

(MENARA)

Paper

The Implications of the Syrian War For New Regional Orders

| Sep. 12, 2018

This paper argues that the impact of the eight-year war in Syria will reverberate across the region for years to come, and explores, in particular, four noteworthy legacies. First, it examines the series of interventions in Syria by regional and foreign powers (including Russia, Turkey, Iran, the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) that reconfigured the role of such powers across the region. Second, it reveals the emergence of two opposing alliances in the region, each comprising Arab states, regional Arab and non-Arab powers, global powers and local nonstate actors. These or similar alliances may well reappear in other Middle Eastern conflicts. Third, it analyses the striking number and variety of foreign forces that either directly fought in Syria or indirectly supported warring factions. Since 2012, these forces have included at least twenty states and major non-state players, alongside hundreds of smaller tribal, Islamist and secular rebel and pro-Assad groups. Finally, the paper suggests that the international community’s weak response to the untold war crimes on both sides, and its apparent de facto acceptance of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s incumbency, portend continuing regional authoritarian and violent political systems for the foreseeable future.

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

The Meaning of Russia's Campaign in Syria

    Author:
  • Stephen R. Covington
| December 9, 2015

Stephen Covington explains the strategic and tactical reasons for Russia’s deployment to Syria and helps the reader see the world through the eyes of President Putin and his advisors. Together with his earlier paper, “Putin’s Choice for Russia,” published with the Belfer Center in August 2015, this paper provides the reader with the strategic threads that run through contemporary Russian geopolitics. His insights into Russian strategic thinking are based on years of study and practical experience with the Russian military and, his opinion matters as a person who advises NATO’s senior military leaders on Alliance security anddefense matters.

(From Foreword by BG Kevin Ryan (U.S. Army retired), Director, Defense and Intelligence Projects)

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

Disrupting the Chessboard

| October 2015

Various narratives explaining Russia’s recent decision haveemerged which portray Russia alternatively as attempting tore-establish its role as a world empire or as a power-balancerprotecting its interests in the Middle East. This publicationaims to present different scholarly perspectives and viewpointson Russian objectives in Syria and the implications it holds forworld politics. It does so by gathering the opinions of severalexperts with different backgrounds and analytic viewpointsfrom across the world.

Report

Challenges to U.S. Global Leadership

In a Harvard Kennedy School IDEASpHERE session titled "Challenges to US Global Leadership," Graham Allison, Nicholas Burns, David Gergen, David Ignatius, and Meghan O’Sullivan discussed challenges as well as opportunities facing the United States. Burns moderated the session.

Challenges include the rise of China and the future of the U.S.-China relationship, the crises taking place around the world, and the reputation of the U.S. worldwide. An unexpected opportunity is the increase in available energy sources in the United States.

U.S. General David Petraeus, Commander designate, U.S. Central Command, leaves 10 Downing Street in London after a meeting with the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Sept. 29, 2008.

AP Photo

Paper - International Security Program, Belfer Center

U.S. Interagency Regional Foreign Policy Implementation: A Survey of Current Practice and an Analysis of Options for Improvement

| April 2010

The United States has a complex, multi-agency structure to plan, synchronize, and execute foreign policy and national security. By statute, the State Department is the lead agency for foreign policy. However, in practice, the much larger and better-funded Department of Defense conducts much of America's foreign policy activity, often with little coordination with the State Department or other relevant agencies. Over the past two decades, the military's Geographic Combatant Commands have taken an increasing lead in planning and executing foreign policy activities around the world. This has often effectively put a military face and voice on America's foreign policy, sometimes to the detriment of broader U.S. goals and relationships. More effective U.S. foreign policy requires greater interagency coordination at all levels and a greater role for the State Department as America's lead agency for foreign policy.

Paper

Strategies for Acquiring Foreign Nuclear Assistance in the Middle East: Lessons from the United Arab Emirates

The path to acquiring a peaceful civilian nuclear program is fraught with challenges for countries in the Middle East. Given Israel's proactive policies in preventing the proliferation of its neighbors and nuclear supplier states' consternation about the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region, Arab states face  a number of unique obstacles in acquiring foreign nuclear assistance. Yet as the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) recent success in courting the assistance of a number of nuclear supplier states demonstrates, these obstacles are not insurmountable. This piece explores the UAE's strategies in obtaining foreign nuclear assistance to uncover the generalizable insights that may be of use to other Middle Eastern countries seeking to develop peaceful nuclear programs.