As COVID-19 cases appear in the Middle East and Africa, USIP’s Nancy Lindborg talks about opportunities for peace amid the humanitarian and security risks posed by an outbreak. “The hope is that everyone uses this opportunity to put down their arms and think differently about conflict,” says Lindborg.
As the coronavirus pandemic spreads in both countries, USIP’s Sarhang Hamasaeed examines the obstacles facing Iraq’s newly appointed prime minister, as well as whether addressing the crisis might open the door for de-escalation between the U.S. and Iran, saying, “I do hope that these unfortunate challenges still come with some opportunity.”
Idlib is the site of Syria’s largest displacement crisis since the conflict began nine years ago, with nearly one million displaced in the province. As the Assad regime continues to reclaim Idlib, USIP’s Mona Yacoubian looks at the future for Syria, saying “the fact of the matter is that Syrians are terrified to live under Assad’s rule.”
Since 2001, Afghan women have assumed larger roles in society—becoming teachers, doctors and government officials. With intra-Afghan talks expected to begin this month, USIP’s Belquis Ahmadi says it’s important the Taliban “accept the reality that today’s Afghanistan is very different from the country they ruled” when it comes to women’s rights.
The visit did not yield a bilateral trade agreement, as many hoped it would. But USIP’s Vikram Singh says that despite the trade impasse, the trip did deliver defense and energy deals and reinforced “the symbolism of this partnership continuing to grow basically as it has for the entire 21st century.”
Amid news of an interim U.S.-Taliban deal, Afghanistan’s election commission announced President Ashraf Ghani has won reelection—a result his opponent has openly rejected. USIP’s Scott Worden warns this kind of political infighting weakens the government’s negotiating position ahead of possible intra-Afghan talks, saying “the Taliban profit from political chaos.”
As Arab Gulf states and Turkey ramp up their competition for influence in the Horn of Africa, USIP’s Payton Knopf says the increased attention “has tended to exacerbate some of the internal tensions and political insecurities” in Ethiopia and Sudan—two states undergoing democratic transitions vital for regional stability.
After direct military confrontations between the Assad regime and Turkey in Syria’s Idlib province, USIP’s Dr. Elie Abouaoun explains how the Turkish and Russian governments are trying to contain the fallout, saying “I do not think any party has an interest right now in provoking a full-blown escalation.”
Discussing the Trump administration’s long-awaited peace plan, USIP’s Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen says that although the proposal nods toward a two-state solution, the details leave one “hard pressed to see how it serves as a formula or basis for bringing both parties back to the table.”
At the Berlin Conference last weekend, participants reached a “gentlemen’s agreement” to halt the influx of arms from international actors into Libya’s conflict. USIP’s Thomas Hill says that while “th...