After decades of conflict, Afghanistan is closer to a political settlement than ever before. But with new reports of Russian bounties on U.S. soldiers, USIP’s Andrew Wilder says there’s concern the issue “distracts from the bigger-picture need for the U.S. to continue to support the peace process.”
After a four-month offensive by the western U.N.-backed government, the Libyan conflict has fallen back into a stalemate. USIP’s Thomas Hill says the question now is whether the new stalemate “will lead to a political solution or is just another step in the road … until one side controls all of the oil wealth.”
The humanitarian crisis in Venezuela is reaching proportions not seen in Latin America since the 1930s. Meanwhile, USIP’s Keith Mines says the country is at a “tragic impasse, and that impasse is entirely political,” as both Juan Guaidó and Nicolás Maduro maintain their respective claims to power.
As the United States and Iraq engage in important talks this month, USIP’s Sarhang Hamasaeed says the focus should be “Iraq-centric policy,” even as Baghdad “is under a lot of pressure from Iran and its allies … to use the dialogue to put pressure on the United States to withdraw its troops and limit U.S. influence.”
Lebanon’s leaders have lacked a cohesive strategy to respond to COVID-19, exacerbating tensions that sparked mass protests last fall. But while the government struggles, and Hezbollah’s influence weakens, USIP’s Elie Abouaoun says, “Unfortunately, the protest movement is as fragmented as the government.”
In recent weeks, Chinese and Indian soldiers have been fighting on their long-disputed border. USIP’s Vikram Singh says these skirmishes are not new—but that the latest hostilities echo China’s aggression in other parts of the region, saying, “It seems like China is flexing its muscle in every direction.”
After Beijing passed a new law curtailing freedom in Hong Kong, protests have again erupted in the territory. USIP’s Jacob Stokes says Hong Kong’s democracy poses a threat to Beijing’s legitimacy, and that if China “can’t produce enough economic growth … then that threat … becomes much more acute.”
A political deal to resolve the disputed 2019 presidential election was finally reached over the weekend. USIP’s Scott Worden says the agreement “is quite significant” because it will give the Afghan side “more political coherence to negotiate with the Taliban and, if implemented, it will show the Taliban they can’t divide Afghans.”
With coronavirus spreading in the Red Sea region, USIP’s Patricia Kim says Red Sea states don’t want to be forced to choose between major powers. “When things like the COVID-19 pandemic peak in fragile places,” says Kim, “this definitely requires cooperation between the United States and China.”
A “mixed” response from the international community is threatening a worst-case scenario for fragile states facing COVID-19. USIP’s Tyler Beckelman says countries need to recognize “the best strategy for defeating the virus is defeating it everywhere” and cooperate on aid in fragile contexts.