Barry Pavel, Atlantic Council vice president and director of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, joins Federal News Radio to speak about why America's rebalance to Asia and the Middle East makes our relationship with European countries and NATO different.
Frederic C. Hof, senior fellow with the Hariri Middle East Center, appeared on Australia’s primetime news program to discuss the G8 countries’ talks on the Syria conflict, the Obama administration’s plans to arm the Syrian opposition while seeking a negotiated settlement, and the broader regional implications of the Syria conflict.
Atlantic Council managing editor James Joyner asks in The National Interest, "Why Should Congress and the Courts Care About Snooping If Citizens Don't?"
J. Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council’s Michael S. Ansari Africa Center, was interviewed by Brian Todd on CNN’s Situation Room in a segment on the discovery of evidence in northern Mali that al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) may have acquired surface-to-air missiles.
Michele Dunne, director of the Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, was featured on CNN for a forum on the situation in Syria and its potential impact on its neighbors. Her piece is below and on CNN.
Dunne: Democracy takes time
When I travel to the Middle East, it is striking how in the eastern part of the Arab world, sectarian issues are right on the surface of public discourse and shape the way people look at the uprisings.
For example, the same person might support the uprising in Syria but not the one in Bahrain, or vice versa, depending on whether that person is Sunni or Shiite Muslim.
There are many reasons for this, including the rise of Iran and the unleashing of sectarian sentiments in Iraq after Saddam Hussein was deposed. Sectarian feeling is less pronounced in the western part of the Arab world, which is largely populated by Sunnis.
Last summer, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states abandoned al-Assad and withdrew their ambassadors from Syria. Perhaps they did this partly because they saw how strong the popular uprising in Syria was and assessed that al-Assad might not be able to outlast it. Perhaps they also saw a chance of getting a Sunni majority government into power in Syria, which would make the Gulf states more comfortable. Probably, their desire to change the regional sectarian and political power balance has largely dictated their policies toward Syria.
Certainly, Syria has been a key cog in the machine of Iran's influence in the Levant. Syria has provided the avenue through which Iran could project political influence into Lebanon and Palestine through Hezbollah and Hamas.
The Hamas link with Syria has already been broken. Hamas has turned against al-Assad, partly out of support for the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and partly because Damascus is no longer a safe haven for them. Hamas is now working on closer relations with Egypt, where the Brotherhood controls close to half of the parliament, is running a candidate for president and is likely to have a strong presence in the new Cabinet.
We are not going to see in any of the Arab countries a neat transition to a democracy in a year or two. Countries do not make that shift -- from authoritarianism to democracy -- so rapidly. Achieving a well-functioning democracy could happen in perhaps 10 to 15 years. There will be setbacks, bloodshed and disappointments along the way. But we have to stay with this for a while, develop sustainable strategies to help these countries, and not abandon them a year or two into their transitions.
The opportunity to establish functioning democracies in the Arab world is a tremendous and historic one for the Middle East, and the risks if these transitions fail -- with all that could bring in terms of instability, safe havens for terrorists, etc. -- are also enormous.
On June 24, the Brent Scowcroft Center of the Atlantic Council will host a panel discussion on the most recent claims of Chinese cyber espionage and the implications of this threat for the US-China relationship and China's ties with its neighbors in Asia.
On June 27, the Atlantic Council’s Iran Task Force will launch a new issue brief by Ramin Asgard and Barbara Slavin entitled US-Iran Cultural Engagement: A Cost Effective Boon to US National Security, along with a public briefing on people-to-people exchanges with Iran.