When in doubt, dispatch an envoy. That’s become an old diplomatic standby, and it is currently under consideration for the Horn of Africa, where a civil war rages in Ethiopia and has ensnared neighboring Eritrea, Somalia, and Sudan. The conflict, which broke out in November 2020, has left millions in dire need of lifesaving humanitarian assistance. The U.N. special adviser on the prevention of genocide recently warned that “the risk of atrocity crimes in Ethiopia remains high and likely to get worse.” If the crisis continues to fester, it will have grave consequences for U.S. interests in a region situated on the crossroads between Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.
Many peace processes experience at least short-term reversions to violence. Even a successful Afghan peace process will be at risk of the same, especially in the likely event that the United States and its allies continue to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Ideally, such troop reductions would move in parallel with de-escalatory measures by the Taliban and other armed actors on the ground. A healthy dose of realism is in order, however. Though the Taliban and others in Afghanistan are unlikely to ever fully disarm or demobilize, persistent resources and attention from the United States and its allies can help prevent any regression to full-scale violence during the years of any peace agreement’s implementation.
Weeks after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to dramatically upgrade his nuclear arsenal, the Biden administration is reviewing U.S. policy on North Korea. A reality check is overdue. The Trump administration’s headline-grabbing threats and summits were just new packaging for the decades-old approach of expecting Beijing’s help to pressure Pyongyang to surrender its nuclear program. This failed again, and North Korea’s threatening capabilities grew. The Biden administration should—and can—establish a more pragmatic, realistic policy to urgently counter this threat, shore up stability, avoid war and advance a deeper, longer game of fundamental change in North Korea.
The announcement on February 8 of a new Cabinet in Khartoum—the product of a peace accord signed by Sudan’s transitional government with several armed groups in October 2020 through a deal brokered by South Sudan—offers hope that the broader inclusion of political leaders can help address Sudan’s pressing challenges and create peace dividends. Unfortunately, the lengthy process of selecting new Cabinet members revealed additional fractures among both signatories to the peace deal and civilian political elements that seemingly offer competing visions for the transition and beyond.
The Biden administration should commit to the Afghan peace process but seek an extension of the May troop withdrawal deadline stipulated in the February 2020 U.S.-Taliban deal, said the bipartisan Afg...
Ten years ago, a wave of unprecedented unrest ignited the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region as citizens took a stand against regimes with a long history of authoritarianism and fraying socioeconomic stability. Ever since, there has been an abundance of analysis surrounding the impact of the Arab uprisings on MENA countries. But one critical element of a thorough reflection is missing: Why have the post-2011 governments—transitional and elected—been unsuccessful in fulfilling the expectations of their people?
Among the many challenges facing the Biden administration will be addressing the infamously dysfunctional U.S.-Pakistan relationship. Anyone familiar with how Islamabad and Washington have interacted over the last 74 years will resort to tired metaphors: a roller-coaster ride, a sine wave, the dynamic between an overbearing mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law. These clichés reflect the reality that the relationship has rarely been stable and usually is either declining precipitously or accelerating unsustainably. The challenge for the new administration will be to find a way to work productively with Pakistan without oscillating between peaks of enthusiasm and depths of cynicism.
In December 2019, Congress established the Afghanistan Study Group and tasked it with identifying policy recommendations that “consider the implications of a peace settlement, or the failure to reach a settlement, on U.S. policy, resources, and commitments in Afghanistan.” The Study Group’s report, released on February 3, 2021, concluded that there is a real opportunity to align U.S. policies, actions, and messaging behind achieving a durable peace settlement to end four decades of violent conflict in Afghanistan. This new approach would...
The national security advisors to Presidents Biden and Trump discussed the main security threats and challenges to the United States, including China, Russia and Iran. In the shadow of a turbulent transition, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and his predecessor, Ambassador Robert O’Brien, spoke together in a rare policy dialogue between officials of the Biden and Trump administrations.
A little over 30 years ago, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent reunification of Germany were far from certain. It took visionary and courageous leaders—and a healthy dose of trust between them—to navigate what was a tumultuous period in history.