While the U.S. remains the world's strongest military and economic power, its place and role on the international stage is shifting. There are potentially dramatic implications for international peace and security from a U.S. foreign policy that is increasingly inward-looking, less predictable, less multilateral, and more reliant on the threat or use of military force to achieve its objectives. In 2017, Crisis Group established its first program dedicated to analysing U.S. policy, understanding who makes and shapes it, and offering recommendations to help guide its trajectory.
At May’s end, the police killing of George Floyd sent a wave of unrest rolling through U.S. cities. Rather than easing tensions, the Trump administration has used incendiary rhetoric, called military units to Washington and threatened to send them elsewhere. Cooler heads must prevail.
Originally published in U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs
Naval incidents in the Gulf have spotlighted the danger that a U.S.-Iranian skirmish could blow up into war. The two sides have little ability to communicate at present. They should hasten to design a military-to-military channel to lower the chances of inadvertent conflagration.
COVID-19 is ravaging Iran, due to government mismanagement exacerbated by the effects of U.S. sanctions. Instead of pointing fingers at each other, and again risking heightened military confrontation, Tehran and Washington should pursue humanitarian diplomacy aimed at containing the virus and releasing detainees.
Talks between the U.S. and the Taliban insurgency are suspended, though an agreement is reportedly ready for signature. The U.S. should resume negotiations and seal the deal, so that a broader peace process in Afghanistan can go forward.
Should U.S.-Iranian tensions escalate to a shooting war, Iraq would likely be the first battleground. Washington and Tehran should stop trying to drag Baghdad into their fight. The Iraqi government should redouble its efforts to remain neutral and safeguard the country’s post-ISIS recovery.
Two successive U.S. administrations have backed the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention in Yemen, helping deepen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Congress should continue pressing the White House to end this support, while working to strengthen its war powers role in the future.
President Donald Trump has ordered U.S. troops to withdraw from north-east Syria. This risks chaos and drives home the urgent need for a deal that restores Syrian state sovereignty to its north east, assuages Turkish security concerns and allows for some degree of Kurdish self-rule.
[When the U.S. military] is out there laying down so-called ‘nonpersistent smart mines’ that will time out after 30 days, there’s still a field of mines out there.
The outpouring of grief for Qassim Suleimani is the country’s first act of retaliation.
Netanyahu fears this incident lacks a broader U.S. strategy and would either merely escalate dynamics without restraining Iran’s nuclear program and regional activities.
A strike that the [U.S] administration claims was intended to deter Iranian attacks is almost certain to trigger far more of them.
L'EI constitue toujours une menace qui pourrait métastaser si les FDS voient leur attention et leurs ressources détournées [...] au profit d'une bataille défensive contre la Turquie.
[By deciding to withdraw its troops from North East Syria] the United States just threw away the last leverage it had.
As the coronavirus spreads, and the U.S. presidential election looms, the Trump administration and Mexican government continue to deport migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Some deportees are carrying the virus. Central American states should press their northern neighbours for more stringent health measures.
Washington and Tehran could use the public health emergency to show goodwill, dial down tensions while saving face, and avoid a dangerous confrontation.
Originally published in Foreign Policy
In this testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Crisis Group expert Olesya Vartanyan analyses the conflict dynamics in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the breakaway territories from Georgia recognised as independent by Russia, and explains how Washington can promote stability there.
To help justify its coercive measures against the Islamic Republic, Washington often evokes Iranian women’s struggles for inclusion and equality. But evidence from today’s Iran shows that U.S. policies are instead contributing to holding women back.
With the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, the U.S.-Iran standoff has shifted from attrition toward open conflict. Tehran will retaliate – the only question is how – prompting another response from Washington. Allies of both should intercede to stop the exchange from spinning out of control.