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Ambassador Chester Crocker on President Bush’s Legacy

A former assistant secretary of state for Africa, Amb. Crocker was appointed to USIP’s Board of Directors by President Bush. Reflecting on the late president’s legacy, Crocker said, “George H.W. Bush understood we had many audiences in our foreign policy and that we have to talk to all of them, be understood by all of the them and be able to put everything into a kind of overall balance.”


Bill Taylor on Russia's Seizure of Ukrainian Ships

“There’s no doubt in my mind that President Vladimir Putin knew what was going on and had given the general guidance,” says William B. Taylor, regarding Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian ships in a vital maritime trade route for Ukraine. The United States and Europe must jointly apply additional economic sanctions and provide military assistance to Ukraine to pressure Russia to cease its aggressive actions.


Moeed Yusuf on the 10th Anniversary of the Mumbai Attacks

Ten years ago this week, 10 members of Lashkar-e-Taiba—a Pakistan-based terrorist organization—carried out a series of coordinated attacks in Mumbai. Moeed Yusuf explains how the attacks derailed the most promising peace process India and Pakistan had ever managed and how U.S. mediation was critical to averting war in South Asia in the aftermath of “India’s 9/11.”


Johnny Walsh on Election Season in Afghanistan

As Afghans wait for official results from the parliamentary polls, Johnny Walsh says that the country is already entering “high political season” in preparation for the critical April 2019 presidential election. Although the Taliban continues to carry out high-profile attacks across the country, Walsh says that many Afghans are focused on the presidential polls and its implications for the peace process.


Thomas Hill on Libya

Since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, successive U.S. administrations have watched Libya’s continuing collapse, mistakenly believing that the country’s unraveling threatens only Europe, says Thomas Hill. Ahead of the Palermo conference, which aims to find a solution to the crisis in Libya, Hill says that United States’ should play a more direct role in stabilizing the country.


Charles North on Russia in Ukraine

“In its fifth year, Russia's armed aggression in Ukraine's Donbas region has become a costly burden with little strategic benefit,” says Charles North. One possible exit ramp has emerged from recent negotiations: a U.N.-mandated peacekeeping operation to facilitate a peace process resulting in Russia’s departure from Donbas and the return of control to Ukraine.


Vikram Singh on the South China Sea

With trillions in goods moving through the South China Sea annually, it’s arguably the most important shipping lane on the planet, says Vikram Singh. While China says that it wants to keep the sea free and open for trade, most worryingly for the United States, Beijing has claimed it can deny access to military vessels, challenging the U.S.’ ability to maintain a balance of power in the region.


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.