The Gulf Arabs recognize a strategic reality that has eluded the stove-piped U.S. foreign and security policy bureaucracy for too long: The Horn of Africa is an integral part of the Middle East’s security landscape, and increasingly so. No country demonstrates this more clearly than Ethiopia. That country’s escalating internal crises pose an increasingly grave threat not only to the country’s citizens but to international peace and security and to the interests of the United States and its partners in the Middle East, principally Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The January 3, 2020 U.S. drone strike that killed powerful Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani on Iraqi soil marked an escalation in already simmering U.S.-Iran tensions. For Iraqi leaders, the Soleimani strike exacerbated an already challenging balancing act in maintaining Baghdad’s relationships with the United States and Iran, with whom it shares a long border and religious and social ties. During the past tumultuous year for Iraq, U.S. forces and Iranian-allied armed groups engaged in tit-for-tat attacks in Iraq. USIP’s Elie Abouaoun and Sarhang Hamasaeed look at how U.S.-Iran tensions played out last year in Iraq and the region and if the incoming U.S. administration, and its desire to reengage in nuclear talks with Iran, could help allay the impact on Iraq.
Iran, proud and passionate, has been a conundrum since its 1979 revolution. For decades, a confluence of challenges—political and cultural repression, menacing rhetoric, and defiance over its nuclear program—complicated dealing with the Islamic Republic. Iran’s revolution has passed through at least five phases.
Home to about 2 billion people, South Asia has become a strategic focal point for China’s growing global influence. USIP’s Jacob Stokes says to properly counterbalance Beijing in the region, the United States should focus “less about responding to China … and more engaging with the states of South Asia.”
China has embarked on a grand journey west. Officials in Beijing are driven by aspirations of leadership across their home continent of Asia, feelings of being hemmed in on their eastern flank by U.S. alliances, and their perception that opportunities await across Eurasia and the Indian Ocean. Along the way, their first stop is South Asia, which this report defines as comprising eight countries—Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka—along with the Indian Ocean (particularly the eastern portions but with implications for its entirety). China’s ties to the region are...
The United States and India inked on October 27 a key agreement that will help New Delhi get real-time access to American geospatial intelligence. The agreement, known as the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), was a result of the 2+2 ministerial dialogue between U.S. and Indian defense and foreign affairs chiefs, following a trend in recent years of deepening military cooperation geared toward pushing back on China’s increasingly assertive policies in the region. This comes after a spate of skirmishes this year on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), a Sino-Indian disputed border region. USIP’s Vikram Singh looks at India’s evolving defense posture, deepening U.S.-Indian ties, and how it relates to India’s rocky relationships with China and Pakistan.
With news of a breakthrough in Afghan peace talks, USIP’s Scott Smith warns that future troop withdrawal should “switch from a time-based deadline approach to a conditions-based approach” because if the Taliban believe withdrawal is inevitable, “they have no incentive to compromise.”
Susan Stigant, director of Africa Programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace, testified on December 3, 2020 at the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organization's hearing on “The Unfolding Conflict in Ethiopia.” Her expert testimony as prepared is presented below.
As violence continues over control of the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray, Ethiopia’s future remains unsettled, even if the conflict ends soon. Achieving the federal government’s security objectives in Tigray is unlikely to resolve both new and entrenched political challenges, and already delayed national elections, now expected in 2021, may prove a severe test of Ethiopia’s political order, and consequently affect broader regional stability. Reconciling the electoral process with efforts for reconciliation and national dialogue is now even more imperative.
As rising violence in Ethiopia threatens to pull neighboring Eritrea into the fray, USIP’s Susan Stigant says, “There is a real need for some external, independent investigator to help diffuse some of that escalation” and look into disturbing reports of human rights violations stemming from the conflict.