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Scott Worden on Afghanistan’s Elections

Just back from Kabul, Scott Worden shares his analysis about the mood on-the-ground with the long overdue parliamentary elections set to take place this weekend. Taliban interference, fraud and voter turnout will greatly impact the election’s legitimacy, which will foreshadow what to expect for the more critical 2019 presidential election.


Mona Yacoubian on the State of Play in Syria

Mona Yacoubian discusses the state of play in Syria ahead of important withdrawal deadlines this week for removing heavy weapons from Idlib province. Yacoubian also discusses the waves of migration forced by the crisis, noting that 2018 has been the worst year to date for internally displaced Syrians; and the recent news that U.S. special operations forces are likely to remain in the country indefinitely to prevent a possible re-emergence of ISIS.


Jonas Claes on Election Risk in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ukraine

Jonas Claes provides risk analysis for elections taking place in the Democratic Republic of Congo in December and in Ukraine in March, 2019. A combination of complicating factors ranging from ongoing conflicts, outside meddling, logistical hurdles and voter apathy top Claes’ concerns that election violence could be stoked in both elections.


Philippe Leroux-Martin on Russia's Intentions in Macedonia and Kosovo

Philippe Leroux-Martin explains Russia’s intentions for interfering in both Macedonia and Kosovo to thwart possible NATO expansion and EU membership, and Western efforts to counter the Russian moves. Macedonians head to the polls on September 30 to vote in a referendum to change the country’s name to North Macedonia to resolve a long-running disagreement with Greece, which could ease the way to joining the Western blocs. Meanwhile, Serbia and Kosovo are discussing a land swap that could...


Amb. Joseph Yun on the Latest with North Korea

With the diplomatic process between the U.S. and North Korea at a stalemate, Ambassador Joseph Yun discusses the key takeaways from this week’s inter-Korean summit and the improvement in North-South relations. For Washington and Pyongyang to move forward, Yun says the two sides need to first agree on a definition of, and process for, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.


Nancy Lindborg on Addressing Extremism in Fragile States

Seventeen years after the 9/11 attacks, Nancy Lindborg details the findings of an interim report from the congressionally mandated Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States. Convened by USIP, the Task Force will devise a comprehensive new strategy for addressing the underlying causes of extremism in fragile states, says Lindborg, a member of the Task Force.


Sarhang Hamasaeed on Iraq’s Government Formation

Four months after Iraq held elections, a new government has yet to form as the majority Shia factions remain divided. Sarhang Hamasaeed discusses the complicated route to forming a government and the recent unrest in Basra aimed at the current government for its failure to provide electricity and other basic services.


Frank Aum on North Korea Negotiations

Since the Singapore Summit, Washington and Pyongyang have been mired in a stalemate over the sequencing of an end of war declaration and North Korea’s disarmament. Yet, even after the cancellation of Secretary Pompeo’s visit, USIP’s Frank Aum says talks will likely continue, as both sides are invested in a successful outcome.


Johnny Walsh on Peace in Afghanistan

Despite the Taliban’s failure to accept the Kabul government’s offer of another cease-fire this week, Johnny Walsh says that a political solution to the Afghanistan war is the best alternative to the current military stalemate. Even absent a cease-fire, hope remains that the peace process can move forward in 2018.


Payton Knopf on the Geopolitical Tensions in the Red Sea

Both the eastern and western shores of the Red Sea increasingly function as a common political and security arena in which the U.S. has significant interests, including the free flow of $700 billion in commerce and competition for influence from external powers like China and Iran. To address the region’s interlinked challenges requires a comprehensive U.S. strategy, says Payton Knopf.


Mona Yacoubian on Syria

As the Assad regime consolidates power across Syria, Mona Yacoubian says that regime change is increasingly unlikely seven years into the civil war. But, the conflict remains complex, as the U.S. and coalition forces continue to work to eradicate remnants of ISIS and Israel becomes increasingly concerned over Iran’s military presence in neighboring Syria.


Susan Hayward on Advancing Religious Freedom

Following last week’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom at the U.S. Department of State, Rev. Susan Hayward discusses the worldwide uptick in religious discrimination in recent years—which particularly impacts minority communities—and how religion shapes conflict and peace around the world.


Moeed Yusuf on Pakistan’s Elections

On Pakistan’s Election Day, Moeed Yusuf analyzes the significance of the country holding its third democratic election in a row amid a persistent power imbalance between the military and civilian spheres. Concerning U.S. interests, Yusuf says American engagement with Pakistan must go beyond Afghanistan issues, which Islamabad does not view as a top priority.


Nancy Lindborg on Libyan Migration into Europe

U.S. Institute of Peace President, Nancy Lindborg discusses the flow of Libyans migrating to Europe and explains the core issues that are pushing them to leave their homes and risk their lives.


Ezra Shearer on a Year as a Peace Teacher

After completing an academic year as one of four USIP Peace Teachers, Ezra Shearer discusses his experience engaging, empowering, and challenging students on how to mitigate conflict. Building negotiation and communication skills, says Shearer, a teacher at Sentinel High School in Missoula, Montana, is a critical life skill for students.


Ambassador Bill Taylor on Russia and NATO

Ahead of the highly anticipated Trump-Putin meeting and the NATO summit in Europe later this month, Ambassador Taylor discusses the key issues that will be on the agenda at both, including Russian meddling in U.S. elections and Moscow’s aggressive actions in Europe as well as NATO members’ progress as it relates to U.S. concerns over burden-sharing.


Susan Stigant on South Sudan

Can South Sudan—the world’s youngest country—find peace? USIP’s Susan Stigant discusses the country’s political crisis and how its exacerbated by the outgrowth of opposition groups, millions of displaced citizens, and other complex challenges to restoring stability. Nevertheless, Stigant explains that peace is possible with U.S. leadership.


Steve Hege on Colombia’s Election

Following a peaceful run-off election in Colombia, Steve Hege shares his analysis on the victory of right-wing candidate Ivan Duque over leftist Gustavo Petro. At the top of Duque’s agenda, according to Hege, will be amending the peace accord with the FARC, resuming more aggressive drug eradication programs, increasing security, and strengthening the U.S.-Colombia relationship.


Scott Worden on the Taliban in Afghanistan

A temporary cease-fire between the Afghan government and the Taliban to mark the end of Ramadan may offer an opportunity to pursue a more ambitious political solution to end the conflict in Afghanistan, says USIP’s Scott Worden. While there is a chance that the cease-fire—the first since the war began in 2001—will be fleeting, as cease-fires are fragile by nature, it is an important trust-building measure. Combined with Afghanistan’s neighbors recently expressing their desire for an end to...


Frank Aum on the North Korea Summit

Just days out from the historic U.S. – North Korea Summit, Frank Aum reflects on pitfalls that previous administrations struggled with, and shares his thoughts about the Trump administration’s approach to North Korea.