Newly-installed Secretary of State John Kerry recently returned from his first foreign trip, which was described as a “listening tour.” During the eleven-day, nine-nation swing through Europe and the Middle East, Kerry got an earful about U.S. policy toward Syria, Egypt, and Iran, while signaling increased U.S. attention to Europe. In a sense, Kerry’s honeymoon trip exhibited “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.”
The Arab Spring brought a new reality to Egypt: a democratically elected Islamist government, and a population that found its voice. Despite this seismic shift, U.S. policy toward Egypt is stuck in the framework of the Mubarak era. The Obama administration’s perceived backing of the Muslim Brotherhood risks empowering forces that could yet prove hostile to U.S. interests while spurning the very reformers we profess to support.
One of the fears about regime change in Syria is that it will lead to sectarian civil war similar to Iraq. These fears are not without merit, but applying lessons learned in Iraq could improve the outcome in Syria. Specifically, the U.S. should encourage Syria not to purge its government of Ba’athists or disband the army. We also should support practical steps that focus on security, jobs, and political inclusion.
A surge of terrorist activity has been unfolding in northern Africa and its Sahel region. The administration needs to recognize the threat al Qaeda continues to pose and show more urgency in its response. The incoming national security team should heed recent events in crafting a comprehensive strategy for the next phase of the war on terror.
Co-Authored by Yelena Altman
January 23rd will mark the one-year anniversary of the official establishment of Syria’s al-Nusra Front, also known as Jabhat Al-Nusra. In just twelve months, al-Nusra has become one of the most visible revolutionary groups in Syria, as well as a major foreign policy problem for the U.S. As the conflict in Syria continues, the U.S. must take a more active role in strengthening Syria’s moderates to ensure this jihadist group does not wreak havoc in a post-Assad Syria..
President Obama’s expected nominee for Secretary of Defense comes with a remarkable amount of baggage. Former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel may yet be confirmed, but his nomination has generated substantial opposition from both the left and the right. Senators need to get to the bottom of serious questions about Hagel’s temperament, views on Iran and Israel, and commitment to adequate defense spending.
Proponents of economic sanctions as a tool of foreign policy cite Burma, also known as Myanmar, as evidence that sanctions work. The full story is more complicated, but shows the power of sanctions even in cases where the direct economic effects of a trade embargo may be small. U.S.
Co-authored by Yelena Altman
The creation of a new coalition to represent the Syrian opposition could prove to be a watershed moment in resolving Syria’s crisis. The coalition has the potential to further galvanize international and domestic support for the Syrian opposition and could to play a crucial role in finally deposing Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad.
The crisis in Syria predictably has spilled over into neighboring countries, triggering military confrontations with Turkey, Jordan, Israel, and Lebanon. Of these, tension between Syria and Turkey warrants the most attention.