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Sudan: Abyei’s Independence Referendum

December 24, 2013

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Since South Sudan voted for independence in 2011, tensions with Sudan have been exceptionally high, particularly in relation to the geographical alignment of Abyei, a small region on the North-South Border. After the Ngok Dinka held a unilateral referendum in October 2013 to push Abyei into the South, ethnic violence and disagreements over oil exports may threaten to destabilize the region making Abyei a critical security concern for the international community.

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Iraq: Current Causes of Sectarian Conflict

November 16, 2013

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The reasons for sectarian dissidence and violence in Iraq are both complex and numerous. While recognizing that there are many factors that contribute to the current situation in Iraq, there are two primary antecedents to the current growth of violence. First, the renewed vigor and aggressiveness of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI); second, government corruption in the Maliki administration.

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Venezuela: Towards a More United Western Hemisphere

November 1, 2013

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Venezuela is one of the United States’ key trading partners in Latin America and the ideological leader of the anti-U.S. contingent after Cuba. It is currently undergoing a significant political succession and experiencing massive inflation and economic tension, providing an excellent opportunity for U.S. diplomacy to stabilize a previously dysfunctional relationship and decrease tension across Latin America.

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The State of American Cyber Security

October 31, 2013

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American cyber security efforts have been severely restricted. Domestic political pressures like sequestration and the government shutdown have undercut U.S. cyber defenses. Foreign political pressures have also increased in the wake of the Edward Snowden incident. These pressures have left the United States more vulnerable to cyber attacks from both state and non-state actors. If these trends continue, America will face increasingly serious threats from state actors and even more serious threats from terrorist organizations.

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Syria Update October 2013

October 15, 2013

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As the United States embraces a plan to get rid of all chemical weapons in Syria, the Syrian rebels are reorganizing themselves into Islamic coalitions that are independent of the US-backed Syrian National Coalition and are in opposition to an ascendant al-Qaeda. This reorganization represents a significant loss of US influence among the rebels, their willingness to adopt a hard-core Islamist character, and the probability of internal fighting between al-Qaeda and the other Sunni rebels in Syria.

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