President Barack Obama is under increasing public pressure to alter his strategy on Iran. Instead of diplomatic engagement with the current regime to end the nuclear stand-off, many feel he should encourage its collapse — or at least its fundamental modification — at the hands of the Green Movement. According to this line of reasoning, it makes no sense for Washington to negotiate with a government that might be on the verge of being overthrown altogether. The risk of the alternative approach, of course, is that Iran might cross the nuclear finish line before the regime has been forced to […]

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NewsHour’s Margaret Warner interviews Luis Rueda, former deputydirector for counterintelligence at the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center.Rueda says that though Al Qaida’s command and control seem to haveweakened, they have adapted to fight a more fragmented war, focusing onsophisticated counter-intelligence operations. In response to thisstrengthening intelligence, the CIA is reviewing and vetting its ownagents to find out “who’s good, who’s bad and what the signs are,” saysRueda. The former field agent says that the CIA is keeping up with theterrorist organization, but that “it’s a race against time.”

For the last month, Washington has been abuzz with talk about what the United States government should do about Yemen. Should the U.S. give Ye­men more military aid? Should it begin a large-scale economic assistance pro­gram? Should it help Yemen establish a governmental reform program, help implement a de-radicalization program, or boost special forces training? Yemen is a weak and poor nation, and the United States is a strong and wealthy one. With the right package of assistance, most assume, we can work together on shared goals. The reality is messier than that, though. From a Yemeni perspective, the common […]

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With 2009 and its year-end Top 10 lists comfortably packed away, the Carnegie Council held an event last week to usher in the New Year with a list of what to worry about in 2010. Panelists included Eurasia Group president — and WPR contributor — Ian Bremmer; the executive director of the U.N. Global Compact, Georg Kell; the editor in chief of strategy+business, Art Kleiner; and the executive director of the World Policy Institute, Michele Wucker. Bremmer kicked things off with highlights from his recently published Eurasia Group report. Here’s a sample from his overall list, with each risk weighted […]

JERUSALEM — At about 5 p.m. on Jan. 14, a loud blast rang out along the Jordanian road that leads to the main bridge connecting the Hashemite kingdom with its neighbor, Israel. The target of the remote-controlled explosion was a two-car convoy carrying Israeli diplomats posted to Jordan, traveling back to Israel for the weekend. The assassination attempt failed, but it triggered a number of investigations as well as rampant speculation on both sides of the Jordanian-Israeli border. Differing theories point to various possible extremist perpetrators. The most intriguing reports, however, quote insiders in Jordan’s security services who claim that […]

Turkey continues to work along different tracks in its strategy to become the “gas hub” of Europe, as demonstrated by the official visit to Ankara of Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov in late December. Mammadyarov’s visit should set to rest speculation about Turkey’s waning political support for the Nabucco pipeline, as well as Ankara’s supposed reorientation toward Russia. Mammadyarov was received in Ankara by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul before meeting behind closed doors with his Turkish counterpart, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Although the details of the talks have not been disclosed, the enthusiastic declarations of […]

The long war between Israel and the Palestinians is not the root cause of all conflicts between Islam and the West, but it exacerbates every such conflict. From Northern Europe through North Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, and down to Australia, there are violent opponents of “the West” motivated, in part, by indignation at the sufferings of the Palestinians. Various solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been proposed — the “Jordanian option” (or “no state” solution), the “one state” solution (i.e., a single multicultural state), and so on. But for the present, at least, the […]

In the aftermath of Copenhagen, many observers are lamenting the apparent unwillingness of governments to confront climate change. However, this unwillingness simply reflects an essential truth about public policy: The immediate always trumps the distant. For most policymakers, the threat of climate change remains a distant one. Governments prioritize immediate threats, even if doing so hastens the melting of glaciers and the rising of sea levels that may eventually destroy habitats and nations. Another vivid illustration of this mindset is the acquisition by foreign governments of vast tracts of farmland across the developing world. These land deals leave immense carbon […]

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Robert Grenier, the former chief counter-terrorism official at the CIA, talks to Al Jazeera’s David Foster about the agency’s efforts abroad. Though Grenier says that in some regions terrorist groups are gaining traction, he believes nationals in those countries are becoming increasingly resistant to the groups, forcing the organizations to operate from less governed areas such as within Yemen’s borders.

In a WPR blog post earlier this week, Judah Grunstein described the “Yemen frenzy” induced by the failed Christmas Day airliner bombing plot as a post-9/11, “Pavlovian response.” But there’s more to the conditioned behavior than just the push for a massive, whole-of-government intervention in a country linked to an attempted domestic terrorist attack, and in which al-Qaida has a presence. A second factor at play is the tendency of the U.S. government — and indeed, of the entire political establishment — to dart from crisis to crisis, pouring time, treasure and resources into responding to the headlines of the […]

JERUSALEM — The Obama administration is working hard to correct the missteps it made in the opening phases of its attempt to mediate a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The principal challenge now is persuading the Palestinian side to return to the negotiating table. This challenge emerged, ironically, as the direct result of Washington’s early errors in its quest for peace. The administration is learning from its mistakes and better understanding the nuances of this complicated conflict. And yet, its propensity to make counterproductive moves persists. A recent statement by the U.S. negotiator George Mitchell showed just how easy it […]

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Until last week, I was among those who didn’t believe that 9/11 had really “changed everything.” I still don’t think it irrevocably altered global geopolitics, certainly not as much as the U.S. reaction to it did. But in the aftermath of the failed Christmas Day terrorist plot, I was struck by the degree to which 9/11 really did change America. The Yemen frenzy, which seems to be subsiding, nevertheless revealed the extent to which America’s foreign policy and defense posture has gone micro, with engagement conceived of less in terms of actors (i.e., a country’s government and military), and more […]

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Russian Prime Minister Vladamir Putin joined Turkish Prime MinisterRecep Tayip Erdogan in talks on energy issues as well as otheropportunities to expand the Russia-Turkey economic partnership. Turkey,scrambling to be relevant in an EU landscape, is hoping thatpositioning itself as an energy broker between the union and Russiawill work to its diplomatic advantage.

As part of its escalating campaign against Islamic terrorists based in Yemen, the U.S. government has expanded efforts to crack down on terrorist financiers in the Middle Eastern country. But the counter-finance approach in Yemen is complicated by the same factors that have stymied similar efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Extremists operate increasingly cheaply — and what little money they do require, they can often raise without outside help. Yemen is increasingly a terror crossroads. U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hassan, who killed 13 fellow soldiers in a November shooting at Fort Hood in Texas, reportedly had ties to radical Muslim […]

For the past seven months, countless parallels have been drawn between the current uprising gripping Iran and the events that ultimately led to the demise of the Pahlavi monarchy some 30 years ago. Whether or not the comparisons are accurate, one irony that cannot be escaped is that the regime is facing increasingly vocal dissent from the very clerical class that brought it to power. In fact, as the Islamic Republic deviates more and more from its theocratic roots and transforms into a military dictatorship, it risks alienating the very marjas who have given it legitimacy since its inception. Most […]

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Charlie Rose interviews U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East GeorgeMitchell about the Israeli-Palestinian stand off. At the heart of theconflict, Mitchell says, is Jerusalem. The city was annexed by Israelin 1980, but the annexation is not officially recognized by any othercountry, including the United States. Mitchell says that Israel’sdesire for security and Palestine’s want of a state are goals that relyon one another for progress.

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas seems to be softening his stance on conditions for talks with Israel while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces a ten-month development freeze in the West Bank. Both are good signs for movement in the stalled Middle East peace process.Alon Ben-Meir, a senior fellow at New York University’s School of Global Affairs talks to WorldFocus’ Daljit Dhaliwal about the progress.

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