Global Security

America’s Challenges in the Middle East

September 23, 2008 | Harvard University Symposium Remarks By Specialist Hillel Fradkin
One may say that American interests in the Middle East remain the same, only more so. For some time we have had a primary interest—and primary responsibility—for the security and stability of the region of the Persian Gulf. A more recent primary interest is protecting ourselves from terrorism rooted in this region. We have other interests as well, such as preventing the region from going nuclear. But this is subordinate to and derivative from these two primary concerns. (A third interest is more general and does not apply exclusively to the Greater Middle East: the maintenance of our credibility.)

Pakistan: Nuclear Power with Feet of Clay

May 22, 2007 | By Specialist Husain Haqqani
Pakistan has become a dysfunctional state, a tinderbox that may not light up for years, but could also go up in flames in an instant. That this strife-ridden country with a booming economy seems precariously balanced between chaos and growth should not, however, be a source of comfort. Given widespread anti-Americanism and signs of rising support for Islamist sentiment in the military, Washington cannot count on the military to keep the balance. If Pakistan falls from its shaky perch, the consequences for the region and the US could be dire.

Democracy in Pakistan Might Bring Tension with Washington

February 22, 2008 | By Specialist Husain Haqqani
The decision by the opposition parties that won Pakistan’s February 18 parliamentary election to work together offers the hope of bringing democratic stability to a dysfunctional nuclear state. The army has dominated Pakistan’s politics for most of its 60-year existence as an independent country. In the past, coup-making generals, like President Pervez Musharraf, have taken advantage of differences among politicians instead of allowing politicians with popular support to negotiate compromises and run the country according to its constitution.

Uzbekistan: The Key to Success in Central Asia?

June 15, 2004 | By Specialist Zeyno Baran
The U.S. and allies like Uzbekistan are in the midst of an existential war, which is yet to be defined and fought effectively. While it may take some more time for us to develop correct strategies against the new enemy, we need to keep in mind that Uzbekistan is a strategic nuisance for militant Islamist groups because it may be one of the few countries that can defeat them if the government can create political space to allow the native, tolerant form of Islam to flourish.

For now, unfortunately, the U.S. and the Uzbek government are losing the battle for the hearts and minds of the Uzbek people. The reasons are simple: Post-Soviet transition problems, worsened by the politically and economically oppressive policies of the current regime have produced tremendous poverty, corruption and resentment among the people. Uzbekistan has a horrendous human rights record, with ongoing torture in its prisons, creating many "Enemies of State," as the title of a recent Human Rights Watch report correctly identifies. At least a third of the people live below the poverty line, and the existing clans and corrupt officials make it nearly impossible for economic reforms to uplift the general population. Foreign investment is rare and those that have been operating in Uzbekistan may leave. These are the textbook conditions for the growth of radical Islamist groups, which first came to Uzbekistan when perestroika provided a political opening; since then, these groups have gradually established a network of cells to organize and carry out attacks on Karimov’s secular regime.

In Pakistan, Islam Needs Democracy

February 16, 2008 | By Specialist Waleed Ziad
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan. While it’s good news that secular moderates are expected to dominate Pakistan’s parliamentary elections on Monday, nobody here thinks the voting will spell the end of militant extremism. Democratic leaders have a poor track record in battling militants and offer no convincing remedies. Pakistan’s military will continue to manage the war against the Taliban and its Qaeda allies, while President Pervez Musharraf will remain America’s primary partner. The only long-term solution may lie in the hands of an overlooked natural ally in the war on terrorism: the Pakistani people.

Defeating the Taliban in Pakistan

November 2, 2009 | By Specialists Waleed Ziad and Mehreen Farooq
It’s the strategy, stupid. Once again, we’re hoping that Pakistan’s latest offensive in the tribal belt will solve the Taliban problem. Our military-centric strategy, which has cost us eight years and $10 billion tax dollars, is incomplete. What’s missing is the complementary soft-power component necessary to secure the pivotal conflict zone in the war on terror.

A Lebanon Freedom Foundation

March 18, 2005 | By Specialist Dr. Hedieh Mirahmadi
Lebanon and the whole of the Arab world are at a turning point, presented with a singular opportunity that would have seemed impossible only years before. Rather than revolution by bloody coup or an external plot for regime change, there is a peaceful, grassroots coalition for independence clamoring for change. And their lineage, their boldness, can be clearly drawn from the democratic transformation of Iraq.

The Cedar Revolution in Ferment

January 24, 2005 | By Dr. Hedieh Mirahmadi
As for what the international community can do, the Lebanese desperately need international nongovernmental organizations like the International Republic Institute, the U.S. Institute of Peace, and others to quickly set up operations before the violence escalates and opportunities for intervention decrease. An international peace-keeping force may also be necessary if the violence continues. Either way, it is clear this is a country in transition–one hopes that does not mean a return to sectarian war.

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