Intersecting conflicts across the Middle East and North Africa pose significant risks to U.S. national security and the international community. The Islamic State in particular has spawned unprecedented terrorism and chaos, helping fuel the Syrian civil war, which, in turn, has triggered a refugee crisis reverberating as far as Europe. Working on the ground with local partners, the U.S. Institute of Peace fosters peaceful outcomes in community conflicts inflamed by religious, ethnic and ideological divides. The Institute works to strengthen the rule of law and improve governance, seeing both as effective strategies to undermine the lure of extremism.
As the Arab Spring’s birthplace and its sole fledgling democracy, Tunisia represents an encouraging yet incomplete victory against authoritarian rule and violent extremism. Tunisia’s progress since the revolution in 2011 makes it an important democratic partner in a volatile region. However, a persistent economic crisis, political disaffection, and the inherent difficulties of a major political and social transition continue to threaten the country’s stability.
Elections in late 2019 swept in a new mosaic of smaller political movements reflecting the public’s deep dissatisfaction with the status quo and the stalled transition. This broad array of new parties has struggled to form a cohesive government capable of overcoming complex partisanship.
The killing of Qassem Soleimani was the boldest U.S. act in confronting Iran since the 1979 revolution, tantamount to an act of war. Although U.S. officials have characterized the move as “decisive defensive action.” However, if Iran had assassinated the general who heads Central Command (the unit overseeing U.S. military operations in the Middle East and South Asia), Washington would have similarly viewed it as tantamount to an act of war.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are in the middle of a rapid-fire series of bilateral meetings. Beijing and Moscow’s relationship spans a number of areas including energy, defense, infrastructure, trade, and finance. A shared sense of geopolitical competition with the United States over issues ranging from nuclear weapons to sanctions to human rights propels bilateral ties as well.