Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2008-2015

The newest available Congressional Research Service report providing quantitative data on conventional arms transfers to developing countries by the United States and other nations over the preceding eight year period.

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Saudi Arabia

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia, ruled by the Al Saud family since its founding in 1932, wields significant global influence through its administration of the birthplace of the Islamic faith and by virtue of its large oil reserves. Close U.S.-Saudi official relations have survived a series of challenges since the 1940s. In recent years, shared concerns over Sunni Islamist extremist terrorism and Iranian government policies have provided some renewed logic for continued strategic cooperation.
Political upheaval and conflict in the Middle East and North Africa appear to have strained bilateral ties, but the Trump Administration has stated its intent to strengthen ties to the kingdom. Successive U.S. Administrations have referred to the Saudi government as an important partner, and U.S. arms sales and related security cooperation programs have continued with congressional oversight and amid some congressional opposition.
Since 2009, the executive branch has notified Congress of proposed sales to Saudi Arabia of major defense articles and services with a potential aggregate value of more than $119 billion. The United States and Saudi Arabia concluded formal arms sale agreements worth more than $58 billion, from FY2009 through FY2015. Since March 2015, the U.S.-trained Saudi military has used U.S.-origin weaponry, U.S. logistical assistance, and shared intelligence in support of military operations in Yemen. Some Members of Congress have expressed concern about Saudi use of U.S.-origin weaponry, skepticism about Saudi commitment to combating extremism, and doubts about the extent to which the Saudi government shares U.S. priorities. Nevertheless, U.S.-Saudi counterterrorism ties reportedly remain close, and Saudi leaders have taken action against the Islamic State at home and abroad.
In parallel to close security ties, official U.S. concerns about human rights and religious freedom in the kingdom have in part reflected deeper concerns for the kingdom’s stability. Saudi activists advance limited economic and political reform demands, continuing trends that have seen Saudi liberals, moderates, and conservatives press for domestic change for decades. While some limited protests have occurred since unrest swept the wider region in 2011, clashes involving Saudi security forces have not spread beyond certain predominantly Shia areas of the oil-rich Eastern Province. The Obama Administration endorsed Saudi citizens’ rights to free assembly and free expression. Saudi leaders reject foreign interference in the country’s internal affairs.
The death of King Abdullah bin Abd al Aziz in January 2015 brought to a close his long chapter of national leadership. His half-brother King Salman bin Abd al Aziz assumed the throne and has moved to assert his authority at home and pursue Saudi prerogatives abroad. Succession arrangements have attracted particular attention in recent years, as senior leaders in the royal family have passed away or faced reported health issues. A series of appointments and reassignments since 2015 has altered the responsibilities and relative power of leading members of the next generation of the Al Saud family, the grandsons of the kingdom’s founder.
U.S. policy makers have sought to coordinate with Saudi leaders on regional issues and help them respond to domestic economic and security challenges. Saudi authorities are attempting to reorient and revitalize the nation’s economy, while streamlining public expenditure. Shared security challenges have long defined U.S.-Saudi relations, and questions about Saudi domestic and foreign policy may become more pertinent as leadership changes occur in the kingdom and conflicts and competition continue in the Middle East region. Saudi leaders’ assertiveness in confronting perceived threats and the effects of their sharpening tensions with Iran could affect U.S. security interests, including with regard to Yemen, Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq.

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Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans

On December 15, 2016, the Navy released a new force-structure goal that calls for achieving and maintaining a fleet of 355 ships of certain types and numbers. CBO estimates that the earliest the Navy could achieve the 355-ship fleet would be 2035. Procuring the additional ships needed to achieve and maintain the Navy’s 355-ship fleet would require several billion dollars per year in additional shipbuilding funds.
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21st Century U.S. Energy Sources

Since the start of the 21st century, the U.S. energy system has seen tremendous changes. Technological advances in energy production have driven changes in energy consumption, and the United States has moved from being a growing net importer of most forms of energy to a declining importer, and possibly a net exporter in the near future. The United States remains the second largest consumer of energy in the world, behind China.
The U.S. oil and natural gas industry has gone through a renaissance of production. Technological improvements in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have unlocked enormous oil and natural gas resources from tight formations, such as shale. Oil has reached a level of production not seen in decades, and is projected to surpass the previous peaks of the early 1970s. Natural gas has set new production records almost every year since 2000.
In conjunction with the rise in oil and natural gas production, U.S. production of natural gas liquids has also increased. The rise in production of these fuel sources has also corresponded with increased consumption and exports of each. The rise in U.S. oil and natural gas production has taken place mostly onshore and on nonfederal lands. Nonfederal crude oil production nearly doubled over the past decade. While production on federal land has increased, it has not grown as fast as nonfederal oil production, causing the federal share of total U.S. crude oil production to fall from its peak of nearly 36% in 2009 to about 22% in 2015 (the latest data available).
U.S natural gas production shifted even more dramatically, with total U.S. production nearly doubling since 2006, while production on federal lands declined by almost 26% over the same time period. The federal share decreased from 28% in 2006 to 15% in 2015.
The electric power industry is in the process of transformation, especially with natural gas becoming the main electric generation fuel in 2016 and the growth in renewable forms of energy. The electricity infrastructure of the United States is aging. Uncertainty exists about how to modernize the grid and what technologies and fuels will be used to produce electricity in the future. Unresolved questions about transmission and reliability of the grid are arising due to potential cybersecurity threats and continuing interest in renewable energy and other low carbon sources of electricity.
Concerns about reliability and electricity prices are complicated by environmental regulations and the rising availability of natural gas for electric power production. While renewable energy is currently a relatively small portion of the total U.S. energy sector, renewables production and consumption have increased since the turn of this century. As a source of total primary energy, renewable energy increased 97% between 2001 and 2016.
Unlike some other energy commodities (e.g., crude oil), renewable energy is available in a variety of distinct forms that use different conversion technologies to produce usable energy products (e.g., electricity, heat, and liquid fuels). Therefore, it is important to distinguish between renewable fuel sources and uses. The United States has the largest coal resources in the world. Coal is used primarily for electricity generation. Although its prices have stayed low, coal has faced increasing competition from natural gas and renewables. U.S. consumption peaked in 2007 and has since declined by 35%. Meanwhile, nuclear output has stayed flat during the time period, but has faced significant stress as a future source of electric power generation.

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Can Egypt Lead the Arab World Again?

This monograph examines the potential for Egypt to lead the Arab world again, and what that role would mean for U.S. foreign and security policy and cooperation in the region. Although Egypt is currently looking inward as it deals with domestic economic and political issues, it has encountered such problems before and has recovered from them, leading Egypt to reassert a prominent role in regional affairs.

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Impunity: Countering Illicit Power in War and Transition

Strategies that weaken illicit power structures and strengthen legitimate state authority are vital to national and international security. As Dr. Henry Kissinger observed, we may be “facing a period in which forces beyond the restraints of any order determine the future.” Because threats to security emanate from disorder in areas where governance
and rule of law are weak, defeating terrorist, insurgent, and criminal organizations requires integrated efforts not only to attack enemy organizations, but also to strengthen institutions essential to sustainable security.
Successful outcomes in armed conflict require confronting illicit networks. A failure to do so effectively frustrated efforts to consolidate gains in Afghanistan and Iraq, and after more than a decade of war and development, the international community and the governments of those countries, continue to contend with the violence and instability that are the result. In Afghanistan, corruption and organized crime networks perpetuate state weakness and undermine the state’s ability to cope with the regenerative capacity of the Taliban.
The failure to counter militias and Iranian proxies that infiltrated the government and security forces in Iraq led to a return of large scale communal violence and set conditions (along with the Syrian Civil War) for the rise of a terrorist proto-state
and a humanitarian catastrophe that has adversely impacted the entire Middle East.
These and other cases illustrate how governments and international actors struggle to establish security and rule of law, and reveal incomplete plans and fragmented efforts that fail to address the causes of violence and state weakness.
While challenging, success in confronting illicit power structures is not impossible.
While still works in progress, successful efforts, such as those in Colombia and Sierra Leone, are the result of integrated diplomatic, military, economic, development, informational, intelligence, and law enforcement efforts directed toward well-defined political outcomes. The case studies and analyses in this volume make clear that understanding the dynamics associated with illicit power and state weakness is essential to preventing or resolving armed conflict.
These case studies also point out that confronting illicit power requires coping with political and human dynamics in complex, uncertain environments. People fight today for the same fundamental reasons the Greek historian Thucydides identified nearly 2,500 years ago: fear, honor and interests. They further remind us that that illicit power structures often depend on the perpetuation of violence and the conflict economy.
Crafting effective strategies to address the challenge of weak states must begin with an understanding of the factors that drive violence, weaken state authority, and strengthen illicit
actors and power structures. Terrorist, insurgent, and criminal networks exploit fear and anger over injustice, portraying themselves as patrons or protectors of a community in competition with others for power, resources, or survival. Thus military and law enforcement capabilities provide only one component of what must be comprehensive, civilian and military approach to confronting illicit power.

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Past is Prologue: Abroad in Syria With the Ghosts of Iraq

In the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the short-lived Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) briefly held a mandate to lead post-war reconstruction efforts. The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) under L. Paul Bremer replaced ORHA before its plans could be implemented. Au-topsies of replacing the ORHA and the consequences of the CPA’s subsequent handling of the Iraq mission abound, but they focused on the Iraq mission as a historical narrative.

 However, the United States (US) now faces a lengthening list of probable reconstruction and stabilization (R&S) missions in the near future. Rather than burying the autopsies, the contrast between ORHA’s plans and the CPA’s implementation offers instructive lessons for future R&S missions. Such a study is of paramount importance as the short list of countries likely to need R&S assistance includes Syria, Libya, Yemen, Central African Republic and South Sudan as well as, sadly, Iraq again.

Whether or not the US military is deployed to bring an end to the crises, failure to assist in R&S processes following a ceasefire is not an option. The power vacuums that follow crisis are a perfect breeding ground for extremism, transnational crime and recurrent violence, all of which have international, as well as national and regional security ramifications.This paper presents a framework that planners can use to speed the planning process and improve traction. R&S contexts require the ability to function at a high level within conditions of ambiguity, violence and chaos. Using past lessons as principles rather than fixed points on a checklist speeds implementation and guides efforts from a stronger and more flexible start-ing point. As governance reform is a core thrust within US intervention frameworks, this document argues for improving future operations through a paradigm shift away from top-down R&S interventions.

This shift changes the interveners’ focus from producing effective stable democratic government structure. Instead, operations should flexibly analyze the social, economic and political conditions that local populations aspire to, and support the design and growth of fit-for-purpose structures of governance to produce stable democra-cies, ensuring civil society involvement in decision-making and design.

The author bases this recommendation on the recognition that both failures and successes tend to show commonalities. Repeated failures tend to show a check-list mentality, and the inclination to prioritize technical fixes over building relationships and developing inclusive processes. Off-the-shelf institution-building without sufficient up-front analysis of local conflict dynamics and social schisms often leads to temporary gains at best, or abject failure at worst. Successes are often tied to adaptive structure that correct the top-down approach.

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