Middle Eastern Affairs

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Kuwait: Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy

Kuwait has been pivotal to the decades-long U.S. effort to secure the Persian Gulf region because of its consistent cooperation with U.S. military operations in the region and its key location in the northern Gulf. Kuwait and the United States have a formal Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA), under which the United States maintains over 13,000 military personnel in country and prepositioned military equipment in Kuwait to project power in the region. Only Germany, Japan, and South Korea host more U.S. troops than does Kuwait.

Kuwait usually acts in concert not only with the United States...

Iran Sanctions

The multilateral nuclear accord (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA) provided Iran broad relief from U.N. and multilateral sanctions, as well as U.S. secondary sanctions (sanctions on foreign firms that do business with Iran) on Iran’s civilian economic sectors. Upon the January 16, 2016, implementation of the JCPOA, U.S. Administration waivers of relevant sanctions laws took effect, relevant executive orders (E.O.s) were revoked, and corresponding U.N. and EU sanctions were lifted. Remaining in place were a general ban on U.S. trade with Iran and U.S. secondary sanctions imposed...

The United Arab Emirates (UAE): Issues for U.S. Policy

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been a significant U.S. partner in Gulf security for more than two decades, helping to address multiple regional threats. About 5,000 U.S. military personnel are stationed at UAE military facilities, hosted there under a bilateral defense cooperation agreement (DCA) that remains in effect. The UAE is a significant buyer of U.S. military equipment, including the most sophisticated missile defense system sold by the United States, demonstrating support for U.S. efforts to forge a coordinated missile defense network.

As the UAE has gained capability to...

Oman: Reform, Security, and U.S. Policy

The Sultanate of Oman has been a strategic ally of the United States since 1980, when it became the first of the Persian Gulf states to sign a formal accord permitting the U.S. military to use its facilities. Oman has hosted U.S. forces during every U.S. military operation in and around the Gulf since then, and it is a partner in U.S. efforts to counter regional terrorism and related threats. Oman’s ties to the United States are unlikely to loosen if its ailing leader, Sultan Qaboos bin Sa’id Al Said, leaves the scene in the near term. He underwent cancer treatment abroad for nearly a year...

Lebanon

Since having its boundaries drawn by France after the First World War, Lebanon has struggled to define its national identity. Unlike other countries in the region, its population included Christian, Sunni Muslim, and Shia Muslim communities of roughly comparable size, and with competing visions for the country. Seeking to avoid sectarian conflict, Lebanese leaders created a confessional system that allocated power among the country’s religious sects according to their percentage of the population. The system was based on Lebanon’s last official census, which was conducted in 1932.

As...

The War in Yemen: A Compilation of Legislation in the 115th Congress

The 115th Congress continues to debate the extent and terms of the United States’ involvement in the ongoing conflict in Yemen, where fighting has continued unabated since March 2015. Lawmakers have questioned the extent to which successive Administrations have adhered to existing law relating to providing security assistance, including sales or transfers of defense goods and defense services, while upholding international human rights standards (e.g., 22 U.S.C. §2754 or 22 U.S.C. §2304). They also have proposed new legislation that would condition or prohibit the use of U.S. funds for...

Qatar: Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy

The State of Qatar has employed its ample financial resources to exert regional influence and avoid domination by Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of the alliance of six Gulf monarchies called the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Oman). Qatar has intervened in several regional conflicts, including in Syria and Libya, and has engaged both Sunni Islamist and Iran-backed Shiite groups in Lebanon, Sudan, the Gaza Strip, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Qatar has maintained consistent dialogue with Iran while also supporting U.S. and GCC...

Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations

This report provides an overview of the key issues for Congress related to Egypt and U.S. foreign aid to Egypt.

Historically, Egypt has been an important country for U.S. national security interests based on its geography, demography, and diplomatic posture. The United States has provided significant military and economic assistance to Egypt since the late 1970s. Successive U.S. Administrations have justified aid to Egypt as an investment in regional stability, built primarily on long-running cooperation with the Egyptian military and on sustaining the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty....

Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations In Brief

Turkey, a NATO ally since 1952, is significant for U.S. interests. It is a constitutional republic with a large, diversified economy and a Muslim-majority population that straddles Europe and the Middle East.

The history of the U.S.-Turkey relationship is complicated. Although the United States and Turkey support each other’s interests in some vital ways, harmonizing priorities can be difficult. These priorities sometimes diverge irrespective of who leads each of the two countries, based on contrasting geography, threat perceptions, and regional roles.

Significant challenges to bilateral...

Bahrain: Reform, Security, and U.S. Policy

An uprising against Bahrain’s Al Khalifa ruling family that began on February 14, 2011, has diminished in intensity, but incarceration of oppositionist and periodic demonstrations continue. The mostly Shiite opposition to the Sunni-minority-led regime has not achieved its goal of establishing a constitutional monarchy, but the unrest has compelled the ruling family to undertake at least some modest reforms. The mainstream opposition uses peaceful forms of dissent, but small factions, reportedly backed by Iran, have stockpiled increasingly sophisticated weaponry and have claimed...

Afghanistan: Background and U.S. Policy In Brief

Afghanistan has been a central U.S. foreign policy concern since 2001, when the United States, in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, led a military campaign against Al Qaeda and the Taliban government that harbored and supported Al Qaeda. In the intervening 16 years, the United States has suffered more than 2,000 casualties in Afghanistan (including 14 in 2017) and has spent more than $120 billion for reconstruction there. In that time, an elected Afghan government has replaced the Taliban, and nearly every measure of human development has improved, although future...

Iran Nuclear Agreement

On July 14, 2015, Iran and the six powers that negotiated with Iran about its nuclear program since 2006 (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, and Germany—collectively known as the P5+1) finalized a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The JCPOA required constraints that seek to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program can be used for purely peaceful purposes in exchange for a broad lifting of U.S., European Union (EU), and United Nations (U.N.) sanctions on Iran. The agreement replaced the Joint Plan of Action (JPA), an interim nuclear accord in effect from 2014...

Iran’s Foreign and Defense Policies

Iran’s national security policy is the product of many, and sometimes competing, factors: the ideology of Iran’s Islamic revolution; Iranian leaders’ perception of threats to the regime and to the country; long-standing Iranian national interests; and the interaction of the Iranian regime’s various factions and constituencies. Iran’s leadership:

seeks to deter or thwart U.S. or other efforts to invade or intimidate it, or to change its regime.

has sought to take advantage of opportunities of regional conflicts to overturn a power structure in the Middle East that Iran asserts favors the...

Iran: Politics, Human Rights, and U.S. Policy

Since the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, the United States and Iran have been broadly at odds. During the 1980s and 1990s, U.S. officials identified Iran’s support for militant Middle East groups as the primary threat posed by Iran to U.S. interests and allies. Iran’s nuclear program took precedence in U.S. policy after 2002 as the potential for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon increased. Beginning in 2010, the United States orchestrated broad international economic pressure on Iran to persuade it to agree to strict limits on the program—pressure that contributed to the June 2013...

Israel: Background and U.S. Relations in Brief

Israel relies on the following strengths to manage potential threats to its security and existence: overwhelming regional conventional military superiority; undeclared but universally presumed nuclear weapons capability; and de jure or de facto arrangements with the authoritarian leaders of its Arab state neighbors aimed at preventing regional conflict. Another Israeli strength is the support it receives from the United States. Israeli officials closely consult with U.S. counterparts in an effort to influence U.S. decisionmaking on key regional issues. Israel’s leaders and supporters...

U.S. Foreign Aid to the Palestinians

Under the Obama and Trump Administrations, the executive branch and Congress have taken significant measures to reduce and delay U.S. aid to the Palestinians. Questions surround the future of this aid as policymakers try to evaluate whether it is effective in accomplishing its specific programmatic purposes, as well as in improving regional stability and U.S. political influence. Some observers, including Israelis, express concern about various aspects of the aid while also voicing caution that more major changes could affect stability and Israeli security.

Reductions and delays in aid...

U.S. Decision to Cease Implementing the Iran Nuclear Agreement

On May 8, 2018, President Donald Trump announced that his Administration would cease implementing U.S. commitments under the 2015 multilateral Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran and reimpose all U.S. sanctions that were in place prior to the JCPOA. His announcement made reference to his previous statements on the issue, including an October 13, 2017, announcement of U.S. strategy on Iran and a January 12, 2018, statement pledging to leave the agreement unless Congress and U.S. allies acted to address the full range of U.S. concerns on Iran. In his May 8 and earlier...

Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy

Libya’s political transition has been disrupted by armed non-state groups and threatened by the indecision and infighting of interim leaders. After an armed uprising ended the 40-plus-year rule of Muammar al Qadhafi in 2011, interim authorities proved unable to form a stable government, address pressing security issues, reshape the country’s public finances, or create a viable framework for post-conflict justice and reconciliation. Qadhafi left state institutions weak and deprived Libyans of experience in self-government, compounding stabilization challenges.

Elections for legislative...

Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response

The Syria conflict, now in its eighth year, remains a significant policy challenge for the United States. U.S. policy toward Syria in the past several years has given highest priority to counterterrorism operations against the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIL/ISIS), but also included assistance to opposition-held communities, support for diplomatic efforts to reach a political settlement to the civil war, and the provision of humanitarian assistance in Syria and surrounding countries. The counter-IS campaign works primarily “by, with, and through” local partners, per a broader U.S....

Yemen: Civil War and Regional Intervention

This report provides information on the ongoing crisis in Yemen. Now in its fourth year, the war in Yemen shows no signs of abating and may be escalating. In recent weeks, the northern Yemeni armed militia and political movement known as the Houthis have launched several missile attacks into Saudi Arabia, while the Saudi-led coalition, a multinational grouping of armed forces primarily led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has continued to conduct air strikes inside Yemen. Including combatants, the war in Yemen may have killed more than 10,000 Yemenis and has...

U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel

This report provides an overview of U.S. foreign assistance to Israel. It includes a review of past aid programs, data on annual assistance, and analysis of current issues. For general information on Israel, see CRS Report RL33476, Israel: Background and U.S. Relations, by Jim Zanotti.

Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $134.7 billion (current, or noninflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding. Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of...

Iraq: In Brief

Iraq’s government declared military victory against the terrorist insurgents of the Islamic State group (IS, aka ISIS/ISIL) in December 2017, and Iraqis are shifting their attention toward recovery and the country’s political future. Security conditions have improved but remain fluid, and daunting resettlement, reconstruction, and reform needs occupy citizens and decisionmakers. National legislative elections are scheduled for May 2018, and campaigning reflects issues stemming from the 2014-2017 conflict with the Islamic State as well as a range of preexisting internal disputes and...

Jordan: Background and U.S. Relations

This report provides an overview of Jordanian politics and current issues in U.S.-Jordanian relations. It provides a brief discussion of Jordan’s government and economy and of its cooperation with U.S. policies in the Middle East.

Several issues are likely to figure in decisions by Congress and the Administration on future aid to and cooperation with Jordan. These include Jordan’s continued involvement in attempting to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace and the stability of the Jordanian regime, particularly in light of ongoing conflicts in neighboring Syria and Iraq. U.S. officials may...

Al Qaeda and U.S. Policy: Middle East and Africa

After a more than a decade and a half of combating Al Qaeda (AQ) in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the United States faces a diverse array of threats from Al Qaeda affiliates in the Middle East and Africa. While senior Al Qaeda figures reportedly remain based in Pakistan, the network includes a number of affiliates across the Middle East and Africa including Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and Al Shabaab. Al Qaeda also retains a small but possibly growing presence in Afghanistan. U.S. officials have stated that Al Qaeda still maintains a...

Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy

The United States, partner countries, and the Afghan government are attempting to reverse recent gains made by the resilient Taliban-led insurgency since the December 2014 transition to a smaller international mission consisting primarily of training and advising the Afghanistan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). The Afghan government has come under increasing domestic criticism not only for failing to prevent insurgent gains but also for its internal divisions that have spurred the establishment of new political opposition coalitions. In September 2014, the United States...

Saudi Arabia: Background and U.S. Relations

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 have created new challenges, and...

Iraq: Background and U.S. Policy

The 115th Congress and the Trump Administration are considering options for U.S. engagement with Iraq as Iraqis look beyond the immediate security challenges posed by their intense three-year battle with the insurgent terrorists of the Islamic State organization (IS, aka ISIL/ISIS). While Iraq’s military victory over Islamic State forces is now virtually complete, Iraq’s underlying political and economic challenges are daunting and cooperation among the forces arrayed to defeat IS extremists has already begun to fray. The future of volunteer Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and the terms...

The Palestinians: Background and U.S. Relations

This report covers current issues in U.S.-Palestinian relations. It also contains an overview of Palestinian society and politics, along with descriptions of key Palestinian individuals and groups —chiefly the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the Palestinian Authority (PA), Fatah, Hamas (a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization), and the Palestinian refugee population. The “Palestinian question” is important not only to Palestinians, Israelis, and their Arab state neighbors, but to many countries and nonstate actors in the region and around the world—including the United...

Arms Sales in the Middle East: Trends and Analytical Perspectives for U.S. Policy

This report analyzes state-to-state arms sales in the Middle East with a particular focus on U.S. transfers, as authorized and reviewed by Congress. The information in this report, including sales data, is drawn from a number of official and unofficial open sources.

Arms sales are an important tool that states can use to exercise their influence. The Middle East has long been a key driver of the global trade in weapons, disproportionately so when accounting for population. Some states in this heavily-militarized and contested region are major arms purchasers, empowered by partnerships with...

Russia: Background and U.S. Policy

Over the last five years, Congress and the executive branch have closely monitored and responded to new developments in Russian policy. These developments include the following: increasingly authoritarian governance since Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidential post in 2012; Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and support of separatists in eastern Ukraine; violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty; Moscow’s intervention in Syria in support of Bashar al Asad’s government; increased military activity in Europe; and cyber-related influence...

Israel and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement

This report provides information and analysis on a boycott, divestment, and sanctions (“BDS”) movement against Israel. The BDS movement is generally seen as a loose grouping of actors from various countries who advocate or engage in economic measures against Israel or Israel-related individuals or organizations, though defining precisely what may or may not constitute BDS activity is subject to debate.

The report also analyzes economic measures that “differentiate” or might be seen as differentiating between (1) Israel in general and (2) entities linked with Israeli-developed areas and...

The Islamic State and U.S. Policy

The Islamic State (IS, aka the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL/ISIS, or the Arabic acronym Da’esh) is a transnational Sunni Islamist insurgent and terrorist group that seized large areas of Iraq and Syria, has affiliates in several other countries, has attracted a network of global supporters, and disrupts international security with its campaigns of violence and terrorism. A U.S.-led coalition military campaign against the Islamic State organization in Iraq and Syria has evolved since 2014, reducing the area controlled by the group considerably and eliminating thousands of its...

Overseas Contingency Operations Funding: Background and Status

The Department of Defense (DOD) estimates that through FY2016 Congress has appropriated $1.6 trillion for DOD war-related activities since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. When combined with an estimated $123.2 billion in related State Department and Foreign Operations appropriations, the DOD, Department of State (DOS), and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have received an estimated $1.7 trillion for activities and operations in support of the broad U.S. government response to the 9/11 attacks.

Funding for these activities has been largely provided through...

Kurds in Iraq and Syria: U.S. Partners Against the Islamic State

Since 2014, the United States and members of a coalition it leads have partnered with a politically diverse set of Kurdish groups to combat the Islamic State organization (IS, also known as ISIS/ISIL or by the Arabic acronym Da’esh). For background information on these groups and their relationships in the region, see CRS In Focus IF10350, The Kurds in Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and Iran, by Jim Zanotti and Bolko J. Skorupski.

The capabilities of various Kurdish ground forces have advanced some U.S. objectives in connection with ongoing anti-IS operations. At the same time, as these operations...

Israel: Background and U.S. Relations

Since Israel’s founding in 1948, successive U.S. Presidents and many Members of Congress have demonstrated a commitment to Israel’s security and to close U.S.-Israel cooperation. Perceptions of shared democratic values and religious affinities have contributed to strong bilateral ties. The question of Israel’s security regularly influences U.S. policy considerations regarding the Middle East, and Congress provides active oversight of executive branch dealings with Israel and other actors in the region. Israel is a leading recipient of U.S. foreign aid and a frequent purchaser of major U.S....

Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations

Several Turkish domestic and foreign policy issues have significant relevance for U.S. interests, and Congress plays an active role in shaping and overseeing U.S. relations with Turkey. Members of Congress regularly engage in oversight or legislative activities on the following subjects with respect to Turkey, among others: U.S.-Turkey military cooperation, including arms sales and aid; Turkey’s interactions with countries such as Armenia, Cyprus, and Israel; general Turkish domestic issues; concerns regarding Christians, Jews, and other religious minorities in Turkey; and bilateral trade....

Coalition Contributions to Countering the Islamic State

On September 10, 2014, President Obama announced the formation of a global coalition to “degrade and ultimately defeat” the Islamic State. Subsequently, 66 nations and partner organizations have agreed to participate, contributing either military forces or resources (or both) to the campaign. The military component of the counter-IS campaign is Operation Inherent Resolve, which has three primary elements: targeted special operations out of northern Iraq and northern Syria, airstrikes, and training and equipping of local forces. All of these activities are designed to empower Iraqis and...

Natural Gas Discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean

Since 2009, a series of large natural gas discoveries in the Levant Basin have altered the dynamics of the Eastern Mediterranean region. Israel’s discovery of the Tamar Field and subsequent discovery of the larger Leviathan Field created the potential for the country to become a regional player in the natural gas market. Since the initial Israeli discoveries, Cyprus and Egypt have also found new gas deposits in the Mediterranean. The Aphrodite Field was discovered by U.S. firm Noble Energy in Cypriot waters in late 2011 and the massive Zohr Field was found in Egyptian waters by Italian...

The Orlando Mass Shooting: CRS Experts

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Iraq: Politics and Governance

Iraq’s sectarian and ethnic divisions—muted toward the end of the 2003-2011 U.S. military intervention in Iraq—are fueling a major challenge to Iraq’s stability and to U.S. policy in Iraq and the broader Middle East region. The resentment of Iraq’s Sunni Arabs toward the Shiite-dominated central government facilitated the capture in 2014 of nearly one-third of Iraqi territory by the Sunni Islamist extremist group called the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIL, ISIS, or the Arabic acronym Da'esh). Iraq’s Kurds are separately embroiled in political, territorial, and economic disputes with...

Oil, Natural Gas, and Coal: CRS Experts

Fossil fuels play a dominant role in U.S. energy. The United States is a major producer and consumer of oil (and petroleum products), natural gas, and coal. U.S. fossil fuel reserves, production, processing and refining, distribution, markets, and use are of perennial interest among policymakers and the public. Ongoing concerns include retail gasoline prices, oil and other commodity markets, potential for expanded domestic supply, environmental effects of continued fossil combustion, and the benefits and drawbacks of trade in these commodities. The following tables provide access to names...

The Islamic State—Frequently Asked Questions: Threats, Global Implications, and U.S. Policy Responses

In the wake of the deadly November 13, 2015, terrorist attacks in Paris, U.S. policymakers are faced with a wide range of strategy and operational considerations related to the activities of and threats emanating from the Islamic State (IS). A terrorist attack such as this prompts an examination of U.S. domestic security precautions; the role of allies and coalition partners; the appropriate military and diplomatic reactions; the safety and security of infrastructure and that of travelers; and numerous additional discrete issues that require the active involvement of dozens of federal,...

Aiding Israel after the Iran Nuclear Deal: Issues for Congress

This report discusses recent indications from the Obama administration that the United States may provide Israel with additional military aid during the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran.

U.S. Foreign Assistance to the Middle East: Historical Background, Recent Trends, and the FY2016 Request

This report is an overview of U.S. foreign assistance to the Middle East and North Africa. It includes a review of the President’s FY2016 request for the region, a description of selected country programs, and an analysis of current foreign aid issues. We anticipate updating it annually.

Since 1946, the United States has provided an estimated total of between $282 billion to $292 billion (obligations in current dollars) in foreign assistance to the region. For FY2016, overall non-humanitarian bilateral aid requested for Middle East and North Africa countries amounts to $7.14 billion, or...

Russian Deployments in Syria Complicate U.S. Policy

This report briefly discusses Russia's military presence in Syria. In recent weeks, Russia has moved military equipment and personnel to Syria, which could potentially be used to resupply the Asad regime or lead to a direct Russian intervention in the Syrian civil war.

Procedures for Congressional Action in Relation to a Nuclear Agreement with Iran: In Brief

An April 2015 framework for negotiations on a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran suggests that a final agreement that would ease many existing sanctions on Iran might be reached. Amid concerns among some in Congress about the terms of the potential agreement with Iran, Congress passed, and the President signed, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (P.L. 114-17). The act establishes a period for Congress to review any comprehensive agreement with Iran, during which certain presidential actions to provide relief from sanctions on Iran are barred. It also provides for...

Iran Nuclear Agreement: CRS Experts

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R44139 Summary Congress is currently in a period of formal review, being conducted on the basis of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (P.L. 114-17), of the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA) nuclear agreement concluded between Iran and six negotiating powers (“P5+1”) on July 14. The period for initial congressional review under the Act is to conclude on September 17. The agreement has raised a wide variety of questions in Congress. Issues include the specific terms of the deal; the implications for inspections, proliferation,...

Iran Nuclear Agreement: Selected Issues for Congress

The nuclear agreement between Iran and six negotiating powers (“P5+1:” United States, France, Britain, Germany, Russia, and China), finalized on July 14, 2015, raises a wide variety of issues as Congress undertakes a formal review under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (P.L. 114-17). The Administration submitted the 150+ page text (including annexes) of the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” (JCPOA) to Congress on July 19, 2015, and the period for congressional review under the act is to conclude on September 17. Should the agreement stand after review processes in Congress and in...

Turkey After June 2015 Elections: Erdogan and the AKP Fall Short

This report discusses the parliamentary politics of Turkey in the wake of elections held on June 7, 2015. Although Turkey's Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) won the most seats in parliamentary elections, it lost the governing majority it had enjoyed since 2002--probably ending President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's (air-doe-wan) hopes for constitutional change to increase his formal powers.

European Fighters in Syria and Iraq: Assessments, Responses, and Issues for the United States

The rising number of U.S. and European citizens traveling to fight with rebel and terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq has emerged as a growing concern for U.S. and European leaders, including Members of Congress. Several deadly terrorist attacks in Europe over the past year—including the killing of 17 people in Paris in January 2015—have heightened the perception that these individuals could pose a serious security threat. Increasingly, terrorist suspects in Europe appear to have spent time with groups fighting in the Middle East, especially with the Islamic State organization (also known...

Israel After the 2015 Elections: What Does Netanyahu's Victory Mean for U.S. Policy?

This report discusses the U.S. policy towards Israel after prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu's victory in 2015 elections.

Nigeria's Boko Haram and the Islamic State

This report discusses the Nigerian Islamist insurgent group Boko Haram, and their statement pledging loyalty to the leader of the Syria/Iraq-based Islamic State (IS/ISIL) organization and the implication for U.S. foreign policy and national security.

The Islamic State in Egypt: Implications for U.S.-Egyptian Relations

This report discusses Islamist militancy in Egypt; specifically the presence the Islamic State organization (IS, aka the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL/ISIS). The report also briefly discusses what the propagation of militants means for relations between the United States and Egypt.

Jerusalem: Recent Israeli-Palestinian Tensions and Violence

This report discusses Israeli-Palestinian tension in the wake of the November 20th attack by two Palestinian men that left four Israelis dead in a West Jerusalem Synagogue.

Turkey-U.S. Cooperation Against the "Islamic State": A Unique Dynamic?

This report discusses the U.S.'s relationship with Turkey in fighting the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL): "[The] U.S. strategic objectives regarding cooperation with Turkey, a NATO member and Sunni Muslim-majority country, in countering the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL) in Syria and Iraq appear to include: avoiding attacks on or the destabilization of Turkey; minimizing the use of Turkish territory by extremists; and using Turkish territory and airspace and/or partnering with Turkish forces for military purposes and to further strengthen and diversify Sunni...

Palestinian Authority: U.S. Payments to Creditors as Alternative to Direct Budgetary Assistance?

A September 24, 2014, congressional notification (CN) from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) may reflect a new executive branch approach in assisting the Palestinian Authority (PA) to pay off some of the debts it incurs in providing various benefits and services to West Bank and Gaza residents. The CN indicates that USAID plans to obligate a total of $100 million in FY2014 bilateral economic assistance for the Palestinians toward direct U.S. payments to PA creditors. This report briefly discusses the details and implications of this new alternative method.

Israel's Iron Dome Anti-Rocket System: U.S. Assistance and Coproduction

This report provides a background of Israel's Iron Dome anti-rocket system and then briefly touches on other topics including U.S.-Israeli co-production of the system, and proposed future U.S. funding.

The "Khorasan Group" in Syria

This report briefly discusses the Syria-based terrorists referred to as the "Khorasan Group" and the U.S. airstrikes conducted against them in late September 2014.

The Islamic State in Syria and Iraq: A Possible Threat to Jordan?

This report briefly examines the extent to which the Islamic State (IS, formerly referred to as ISIS or ISIL) may pose a threat to Jordan, an "important U.S. partner." The report discusses Jordanian actions to address threats, and U.S. policy implications.

Iraq Crisis: CRS Experts

The table below provides names and contact information for CRS experts on various policy concerns of interest to Congress relating to the ongoing crisis in Iraq. Policy areas identified include the conflict in Iraq, al Qaeda affiliates, embassy security, military operations, war powers, sanctions, energy security, humanitarian issues and displaced persons, issues in the Middle East region, the United Nations, and other international actors.

Afghanistan: Drug Trafficking and the 2014 Transition

Afghanistan is the world’s primary source of opium poppy cultivation and opium and heroin production, as well as a major global source of cannabis (marijuana) and cannabis resin (hashish). Drug trafficking, a long-standing feature of Afghanistan’s post-Taliban political economy, is linked to corruption and insecurity, and provides a source of illicit finance for non-state armed groups. Based on recent production and trafficking trends, the drug problem in Afghanistan appears to be worsening—just as the U.S. government finalizes plans for its future relationship with the government of...

Select Committee on Benghazi: CRS Experts

The following table provides names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to the Select Committee on Benghazi (H.Res. 567). In addition to the policy expertise identified below, related CRS products include CRS Insight IN10055, House Select Committee Precedents and Procedures and H. Res. 567, Establishing a Select Committee on the 2012 Benghazi Attack, by Christopher M. Davis; CRS Insight IN10022, Diplomatic Security After Benghazi, by Alex Tiersky; CRS Report R43195, Securing U.S. Diplomatic Facilities and Personnel Abroad: Legislative and Executive Branch...

Egypt in Crisis: Issues for Congress

This report provides a brief overview of the key issues for the 113th Congress related to Egypt.

Possible U.S. Intervention in Syria: Issues for Congress

Reports of a mass casualty chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus are reshaping the long-running and contentious debate over possible U.S. intervention in Syria’s bloody civil war. Obama Administration officials and some foreign governments report that on August 21, 2013, forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al Asad attacked opposition-controlled areas in the suburbs of the capital with chemical weapons, killing hundreds of civilians, including women and children. The Syrian government has denied the accusations categorically and blames the opposition for the attack. United...

Possible Intervention in Syria: CRS Experts

The table below provides names and contact information for CRS experts on various policy concerns of interest to Congress relating to the prospect of international military responses to the suspected use of chemical weapons in Syria. Policy areas identified include the conflict in Syria, chemical weapons, military operations, intelligence issues, war powers, the humanitarian response, issues in the Middle East region, the United Nations, other international actors, and other foreign policy instruments.

No-Fly Zones: Strategic, Operational, and Legal Considerations for Congress

In conflicts in Kosovo, Iraq, and Libya, the United States has taken part in establishing and maintaining no-fly zones. As no-fly zones represent a significant commitment of U.S. forces, and may prove a precursor to other military actions, Congress may wish to consider issues surrounding the strategy, international authorization, congressional authorization, operations, and costs of establishing and maintaining no-fly zones.

The military strategy designed to support U.S. grand strategy, it has been suggested, might be based on these considerations: the operational-level military objectives...

Nuclear Weapons R&D Organizations in Nine Nations

Seven nations—China, France, India, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—possess nuclear weapons. North Korea tested a nuclear explosive device in 2006, and announced that it had conducted a test in 2009 and another in 2013. Israel is widely thought to have nuclear weapons. As an aid to Congress in understanding nuclear weapons, nuclear proliferation, and arms control matters, this report describes which agency is responsible for research and development (R&D) of nuclear weapons (i.e., nuclear explosive devices, as distinct from the bombers and missiles that deliver...

Israel: Possible Military Strike Against Iran’s Nuclear Facilities

Several published reports indicate that top Israeli decisionmakers are seriously considering whether to order a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, and if so, when. Twice in Israel’s history, it has conducted air strikes aimed at halting or delaying what Israeli policymakers believed to be efforts to acquire nuclear weapons by a Middle Eastern state—destroying Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1981 and a facility the Israelis identified as a reactor under construction in Syria in 2007. Today, Israeli officials generally view the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran as an unacceptable threat...

Recent Protests in Muslim Countries: Background and Issues for Congress

Muslims in a number of countries have responded in recent days with anger at the United States that many observers describe as a response to a privately produced film circulating on the Internet that denigrates Islam and the prophet Mohammed. In some cases, this outrage has taken the form of public expressions by relatively small groups of demonstrators, and in other countries the demonstrations have been larger. In the most extreme cases, such demonstrations have been accompanied by violent attacks against U.S. diplomatic personnel and diplomatic facilities. Pre-existing anti-U.S....

Afghanistan: U.S. Foreign Assistance

The U.S. program of assistance to Afghanistan is intended to stabilize and strengthen the Afghan economic, social, political, and security environment so as to blunt popular support for extremist forces in the region. Since 2001, nearly $83 billion has been appropriated toward this effort.

Since FY2002, nearly two-thirds of U.S. assistance—roughly 62%—has gone to the training and equipping of Afghan forces. The remainder has gone to development and humanitarian-related activities from infrastructure to private sector support, governance and democratization efforts, and counter-narcotics...

Change in the Middle East: Implications for U.S. Policy

The political change and unrest that have swept through the Middle East and North Africa since early 2011 are likely to have profound consequences for the pursuit of long-standing U.S. policy goals in the region with regard to regional security, global energy supplies, U.S. military access, bilateral trade and investment, counter-proliferation, counterterrorism, and the promotion of human rights. The profound changes in the region may alter the framework in which these goals are pursued and challenge the basic assumptions that have long guided U.S. policy.

This report assesses some of the...

Lebanon and the Uprising in Syria: Issues for Congress

As Congress exercises oversight and prepares to consider programs for Lebanon in the coming year, some observers have expressed fear that Syrian instability may negatively affect Lebanon. Syria exerts a strong political influence on Lebanon and Syrian business interests remain prominent in the Lebanese economy. Both Lebanon and Syria have diverse societies where ethnic and sectarian groups compete and cooperate as they seek power within the confines of a rigid political system. Primary concerns about the implications of Syrian unrest include:

Negative effects on the Lebanese economy;...

Iran’s Threat to the Strait of Hormuz

Some officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran have recently renewed threats to close or exercise control over the Strait of Hormuz. Iran’s threats appear to have been prompted by the likely imposition of new multilateral sanctions targeting Iran’s economic lifeline—the export of oil and other energy products. In the past, Iranian leaders have made similar threats and comments when the country’s oil exports have been threatened. However, as in the past, the prospect of a major disruption of maritime traffic in the Strait risks damaging Iranian interests. U.S. and allied military...

Application of Religious Law in U.S. Courts: Selected Legal Issues

Controversy has surrounded attempts by several state legislatures to limit the consideration of Islamic religious law (commonly referred to as sharia) or religious law generally, in domestic courts. In one of the most publicized examples, Oklahoma voters definitively approved a state constitutional amendment that prohibited state courts from considering “sharia law,” but the amendment has not taken effect pending the outcome of a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality. Other states have introduced variations of this limitation, with some generally prohibiting the use of religious...

Muslims in Europe: Promoting Integration and Countering Extremism

Many European countries have large and growing Muslim minorities. This is particularly true for the countries of Western Europe that have experienced influxes of Muslim immigrants over the last several decades from a variety of Middle Eastern, African, and Asian countries, as well as Turkey and the Balkans. Today, although some Muslims in Europe are recent immigrants, others are second- or third-generation Europeans. While expanding Muslim communities pose significant social and economic policy questions for European governments, the realization that some segments of Europe’s Muslim...

Osama bin Laden’s Death: Implications and Considerations

The May 1, 2011, killing of Osama bin Laden (OBL) by U.S. forces in Pakistan has led to a range of views about near- and long-term security and foreign policy implications for the United States. Experts have a range of views about the killing of OBL. Some consider his death to be a largely symbolic event, while others believe it marks a significant achievement in U.S. counterterrorism efforts. Individuals suggesting that his death lacks great significance argue that U.S. and allied actions had eroded OBL’s ability to provide direction and support to Al Qaeda (AQ). For these analysts, OBL’s...

Al Qaeda and Affiliates: Historical Perspective, Global Presence, and Implications for U.S. Policy

Al Qaeda (AQ) has evolved into a significantly different terrorist organization than the one that perpetrated the September 11, 2001, attacks. At the time, Al Qaeda was composed mostly of a core cadre of veterans of the Afghan insurgency against the Soviet Union, with a centralized leadership structure made up mostly of Egyptians. Most of the organization’s plots either emanated from the top or were approved by the leadership. Some analysts describe pre-9/11 Al Qaeda as akin to a corporation, with Osama Bin Laden acting as an agile chief executive officer issuing orders and soliciting...

U.S. Initiatives to Promote Global Internet Freedom: Issues, Policy, and Technology

Modern means of communications, led by the Internet, provide a relatively inexpensive, open, easy-entry means of sharing ideas, information, pictures, and text around the world. In a political and human rights context, in closed societies when the more established, formal news media is denied access to or does not report on specified news events, the Internet has become an alternative source of media, and sometimes a means to organize politically.

The openness and the freedom of expression allowed through blogs, social networks, video sharing sites, and other tools of today’s...

The Middle East: Selected Key Issues and Options for the 112th Congress

The Middle East, broadly defined as an area stretching from North Africa to Afghanistan, presents an array of challenges to U.S. foreign policy. Although the United States maintains strong relations with several key Arab and non-Arab states such as Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Turkey, other state and non-state actors, such as Iran, the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Palestinian Sunni group Hamas, are aligned against U.S. interests. The United States and its regional and international allies continue to work to limit the influence of these actors while...

Hamas: Background and Issues for Congress

This report and its appendixes provide background information on Hamas, or the Islamic Resistance Movement, and U.S. policy towards it. It also includes information and analysis on (1) the threats Hamas currently poses to U.S. interests, (2) how Hamas compares with other Middle East terrorist groups, (3) Hamas’s ideology and policies (both generally and on discrete issues), (4) its leadership and organization, and (5) its sources of assistance. Finally, the report raises and discusses various legislative and oversight options related to foreign aid strategies, financial sanctions, and...

Turkey: Selected Foreign Policy Issues and U.S. Views

This report focuses on the foreign policy of Turkey, a long-time valued U.S. NATO ally, and examines the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) recalculation of the country's approach to foreign affairs and its possible effects on relations with the United States. This report surveys Turkish foreign policy issues that are of critical interest to U.S. officials and Members of Congress.

Iran’s Economic Conditions: U.S. Policy Issues

The Islamic Republic of Iran, a resource-rich and labor-rich country in the Middle East, is a central focus of U.S. national security policy. The United States asserts that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism and that Iran’s uranium enrichment activities are for the development of nuclear weapons. To the extent that U.S. sanctions and other efforts to change Iranian state policy target aspects of Iran’s economy as a means of influence, it is important to evaluate Iran’s economic structure, strengths, and vulnerabilities.

Since 2000, Iran has enjoyed broad-based economic growth. However,...

CRS Issue Statement on the Middle East

Israeli-Arab Negotiations: Background, Conflicts, and U.S. Policy

After the first Gulf war, in 1991, a new peace process consisting of bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon achieved mixed results. Milestones included the Israeli-Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Declaration of Principles (DOP) of September 13, 1993, providing for Palestinian empowerment and some territorial control, the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty of October 26, 1994, and the Interim Self-Rule in the West Bank or Oslo II accord of September 28, 1995, which led to the formation of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to govern the West...

Iran: Regional Perspectives and U.S. Policy

As the Administration and Congress move forward to pursue engagement, harsher sanctions, or both, regional actors are evaluating their policies and priorities with respect to Iran. Iran’s neighbors share many U.S. concerns, but often evaluate them differently than the United States when calculating their own relationship with or policy toward Iran. Because Iran and other regional concerns—the Arab-Israeli peace process, stability in Lebanon and Iraq, terrorism, and the ongoing war in Afghanistan—have become increasingly intertwined, understanding the policies and perspectives of Iran’s...

NATO in Afghanistan: A Test of the Transatlantic Alliance

The mission of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Afghanistan is seen by many as a test of the alliance’s political will and military capabilities. Since the Washington Summit in 1999, the allies have sought to create a “new” NATO, capable of operating beyond the European theater to combat emerging threats such as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Afghanistan is NATO’s first “out-of-area” mission beyond Europe. The purpose of the mission is the stabilization and reconstruction of Afghanistan. The mission has proven difficult, an...

Pakistan—Internal Stability and U.S. Response: CRS Experts

Iraq: Regional Perspectives and U.S. Policy

Iraq’s neighbors have influenced events in Iraq since the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003, and developments in Iraq have had political, economic, and security implications for Iraq’s neighbors and the broader Middle East. Lower levels of violence in Iraq and the planned drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq are fueling consideration of Iraq’s future and the current and potential policies by Iraq’s neighbors. Policy makers and observers are now considering several potential “Iraq scenarios,” ranging from the resolution of outstanding Iraqi political disputes and the successful...

Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses

Much of the debate over U.S. policy toward Iran has centered on the nature of the current regime; some believe that Iran, a country of about 70 million people, is a threat to U.S. interests because hardliners in Iran's regime dominate and set a policy direction

intended to challenge U.S. influence and allies in the region. President George W. Bush, in his January 29, 2002, State of the Union message, labeled Iran part of an "axis of evil" along with

Iraq and North Korea. This report discusses the political history of Iran, U.S. strategy in Iran, and the Obama Administration's policies...

U.S. Policies on Iraq: CRS Experts

The following table provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to Iraq. Policy areas identified include: U.S. policies on Iraq; governance in Iraq and U.S. military issues; refugees, internally displaced persons, and humanitarian assistance; prospects for Iraq's economy; resource and funding requirements; and the international context--the regional political and security environment.

Israel and Hamas: Conflict in Gaza

This report closely examines the conflict in Gaza (2008-2009), assessing the impact of the conflict on civilians, possible consequences and unresolved issues, the regional and international implications and possible modes of action for the 111th Congress to consider in response.

Iraqi Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons: A Deepening Humanitarian Crisis?

Some aspects of the humanitarian crisis many feared would take place in March 2003 with the initial military operation in Iraq unfolded later as a result of the ongoing insurgency and sectarian violence. It is estimated that in total (including those displaced prior to the war) there may be as many as 2 million Iraqi refugees who have fled to Jordan, Syria, and other neighboring states, and approximately 2.7 million Iraqis who have been displaced within Iraq itself.

Between 2004-2007, the violence and insecurity resulting from the ongoing sectarian strife, terrorism, and insurgency in Iraq...

Comparing Global Influence: China’s and U.S. Diplomacy, Foreign Aid, Trade, and Investment in the Developing World

This report compares the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) and U.S. projections of global influence, with an emphasis on non-coercive means or “soft power,” and suggests ways to think about U.S. foreign policy options in light of China’s emergence. Part One discusses U.S. foreign policy interests, China’s rising influence, and its implications for the United States. Part Two compares the global public images of the two countries and describes PRC and U.S. uses of soft power tools, such as public diplomacy, state diplomacy, and foreign assistance. It also examines other forms of soft power...

FY2008 Spring Supplemental Appropriations and FY2009 Bridge Appropriations for Military Operations, International Affairs, and Other Purposes (P.L. 110-252)

On June 30, 2008, President Bush signed into law a bill, H.R. 2642 (P.L. 110-252), that makes supplemental appropriations for FY2008 and FY2009, extends unemployment payments, and expands veterans’ educational benefits. The House approved the measure on June 19 and the Senate on June 26. As enacted, the bill reflects compromises with the White House on several key issues. It extends unemployment benefits for 13 weeks but not 26, allows veterans’ educational benefits to be transferred to dependents, does not include an offsetting tax increase, limits other domestic spending, and delays...

Lebanon

This report provides an overview of Lebanese politics, recent events in Lebanon, and current issues in U.S.-Lebanon relations.

The “Red-Dead” Canal: Israeli-Arab Efforts to Restore the Dead Sea

Regional cooperation in halting continued overuse of scarce water resources has been a casualty of the long-running Arab-Israeli conflict. The Dead Sea has been a victim of this neglect, and scientists estimate that it will decrease substantially in the coming decades due to overexploitation of the Jordan River. One possible solution is to construct a canal from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea to pump sea water into the salt lake while generating hydroelectric power for use in desalination. The governments of Israel and Jordan have been enthusiastic proponents of the “Peace Canal,” and are...

FY2008 Supplemental Appropriations for Global War on Terror Military Operations, International Affairs, and Other Purposes

During the 1st session of the 110th Congress, in calendar year 2007, the Administration requested emergency FY2008 supplemental appropriations of $196.5 billion to cover costs of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, for war-related and other international affairs programs, and for some other activities. The request included $189.3 billion for the Department of Defense, $6.9 billion for international affairs, and $325 million for other agencies.

Through the end of December 2007, Congress provided $86.8 billion in emergency funds for the Defense Department and $2.4 billion for...

FY2008 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for International Affairs

Congress approved an FY2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 2764) during the week of December 17, 2007, that included some emergency supplemental funding for international affairs requested by the White House. The President signed the spending measure on December 26 (P.L. 110-161). The White House had submitted emergency supplemental requests to Congress for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and international affairs programs totaling $196.5 billion. The request was made in two installments—an estimate of additional expenses was sent to Congress with the FY2008 regular...

U.S. Foreign Aid to the Palestinians

FY2007 Supplemental Appropriations for Defense, Foreign Affairs, and Other Purposes

On Thursday, May 24, the House and Senate approved a compromise on H.R. 2206, a bill providing $120 billion in supplemental appropriations for FY2007. The President signed the bill into law, P.L. 110-28, on May 25. In the House, the key vote to pass the bill was on approval of the rule, H.Res. 438, which was adopted by 218-201. The rule deemed the bill to be passed after the House adopted two amendments, which were subsequently approved by votes of the Senate then approved the House-passed measure by a vote of 80-14.

The final bill provides money for military operations in Iraq,...

Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade: Key Issues for the 110th Congress

The 110th Congress will face a number of pressing foreign affairs, defense, and trade issues in the opening days of its tenure. This report identifies major issues most likely to be on the legislative agenda, discusses critical policy choices at stake, and summarizes some of the major alternatives that Congress may consider. The report lists Congressional Research Service reports that address these issues, and it identifies key analysts and their areas of responsibility.

A major issue confronting the new Congress is what to do in Iraq. The Baker/Hamilton-led Iraq Study Group recommended...

9/11 Commission Recommendations: Implementation Status

This report provides a review of the 9/11 Commission recommendations and the status of their implementation at the end of the 109th Congress. The discussions herein are organized on the basis of policy themes that are at the core of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, rather than through a review of each numbered item set out in the Commission’s final report. The analysis was produced by a large team of CRS Specialists, analysts, and attorneys who are responsible for the wide variety of policy areas covered by the 9/11 Commission in its work. The authors of the varied segments of this...

Lebanon: The Israel-Hamas-Hezbollah Conflict

This report analyzes the conflict between Israel and two U.S. State Department-designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), the Lebanese Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah and the radical Palestinian Hamas organization. On July 12, 2006, what had been a localized conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip instantly became a regional conflagration after Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers in a surprise attack along the Israeli-Lebanese border. Israel responded by carrying out air strikes against suspected Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, and Hezbollah countered...

International Efforts to Control the Spread of the Avian Influenza (H5N1) Virus: Affected Countries’ Responses

A strain of the avian influenza virus known as H5N1 threatens to develop into a human pandemic. First appearing in birds and humans in Hong Kong in 1997, the virus re-surfaced in late 2003 and since has spread throughout Asia, causing over 100 reported human deaths from Vietnam to Turkey and appearing in birds in Africa and Europe. The strain is considered particularly dangerous because of its human fatality rate to date of over 50% and because of the risk that the virus may develop the ability to pass efficiently between humans.

This report focuses on the efforts of overseas governments...

FY2006 Supplemental Appropriations: Iraq and Other International Activities; Additional Hurricane Katrina Relief

This report discusses the two separate FY2006 supplemental appropriations requests submitted on February 16, 2006. The first, totaling $72.4 billion, would fund ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan ($67.9 billion), non-DOD intelligence operations ($0.3 billion), State Department operations in Iraq and various foreign aid programs, including additional assistance for Iraq ($4.2 billion), and other counter-terrorism funding for other agencies ($12 million). The other supplemental would provide $19.8 billion for recovery and reconstruction activities in hurricane affected Gulf...

Fatah and Hamas: the New Palestinian Factional Reality

For the first time in its history, the Palestinian parliament is set to be led by Hamas, which the United States and European Union have designated a foreign terrorist organization. Although some lauded the generally free and fair election in January 2006, others criticized the outcome and accused Hamas of “hijacking” democracy. This report provides an overview of the new political realities in the West Bank and Gaza after the election, the challenges Fatah and Hamas face, and possible implications for U.S. policy.

Israel's Disengagement from Gaza

In December 2003, Prime Minister Sharon announced that Israel would unilaterally withdraw from the Gaza Strip; the evacuation of settlers began on August 17, 2005, and was completed on August 23. Disengagement was carried out efficiently, rapidly, and without major violence. Related issues coordinated with the Palestinians included disposition of settler assets and security. The implications of disengagement for the West Bank, the “Road Map,” and a future Palestinian state are uncertain. The total cost of disengagement exceeds $2 billion, and Congress may deal with a special Israeli...

Foreign Relations Authorization, FY2006 and FY2007: An Overview

The foreign relations authorization process dovetails with the annual appropriation process for the Department of State, foreign policy, and foreign assistance. Congress is required by law to authorize the spending of appropriations for the State Department and foreign policy activities every two years. The last time Congress passed a stand-alone foreign relations authorization bill was in FY2003 ( P.L. 107-228 ). Foreign assistance authorization measures (such as authorization for the U.S. Agency for International Development, economic and military assistance to foreign countries,...

Removing Terrorist Sanctuaries: The 9/11 Commission Recommendations and U.S. Policy

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission) issued its final report on July 19, 2004. A major recommendation in the report was that the U.S. government should identify and prioritize actual or potential terrorist sanctuaries and, for each, to employ a realistic strategy to keep possible terrorists insecure and on the run, using all elements of national power. U.S. strategy to combat global terrorism, even prior to 9/11, included efforts to deny sanctuary to terrorist groups by isolating and applying pressure on states that sponsor or...

Al Qaeda: Profile and Threat Assessment

Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade: Key Issues for the 109th Congress

The 109th Congress will likely address a number of pressing foreign affairs, defense and trade issues. This report identifies the issues most likely to be taken up in the first session, and provides information and analysis to support Congress in shaping U.S. policy on these key issues. The report also provides lists of selected CRS products that provide more detailed analysis. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress has increasingly been confronted with issues relating to the war on terrorism and homeland security. Congress will likely be particularly interested in...

Al Qaeda: Statements and Evolving Ideology

Arafat’s Succession

H.R. 10 (9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act) and S. 2845 (National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004): A Comparative Analysis

This comparative analysis of H.R. 10 (9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act) and S. 2845 (National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004) is an assessment of major similarities and differences between the two bills as passed by the House (October 8, 2004) and Senate (October 6, 2004) and under conference consideration.

References to the two bills are to engrossed versions. The presentation is organized to follow the basic construct of the House bill, because its coverage remained more stable through the legislative process to date. For purposes of clarity, we refer to the House-passed bill as...

Armenia Update

Armenia has experienced domestic political turmoil since independence. Since political assassinations in October 1999, President Robert Kocharian has outmaneuvered his opponents and secured his March 2003 re-election amid accusations of electoral irregularities. The economy is rebounding, except a majority of the people remain poor. A cease fire holds in the war with Azerbaijan over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. In general, Armenia relies on Russia for security and on the United States for economic aid. Its relations with neighboring Iran are good, but those with Turkey are troubled....

Greece: Threat of Terrorism and Security at the Olympics

The summer 2004 Olympic Games will take place in Athens, Greece. The Greek government is planning unprecedented security measures to deal with possible terrorist threats. Athens is preparing mainly for external threats, although anarchists and anti-globalization groups may be disruptive as well. The Greek Ministry of Public Order is in charge of security and Greece requested assistance from NATO and others, including the United States. The U.S. Administration is taking its own steps to protect the U.S. Olympic team. This report will be updated if developments warrant. See also CRS Report...

Foreign Relations Authorization, FY2004 and FY2005: State Department and Foreign Assistance

The foreign relations authorization process dovetails with the annual appropriation process for the Department of State (within the Commerce, Justice, State and Related Agency appropriation) and foreign policy/foreign aid activities (within the foreign operations appropriation). Congress is required by law to authorize the spending of appropriations for the State Department and foreign policy activities every two years. Foreign assistance authorization measures (such as authorization for the U.S. Agency for International Development, economic and military assistance to...

Iraq: International Attitudes to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Reconstruction

On May 1, 2003, President Bush announced the end of the combat phase of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. President Bush referred to the war as a "victory" and claimed that "in the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." ("President Bush Announces that Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended," White House Press , May 1, 2003). In the aftermath of the war, the U.S. military presence in postwar Iraq persists. Approximately 130,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq and are partaking in the reconstruction and stabilization of the country. Under UNSC Res. 1483, the Administration's...

The Middle East and North Africa: Political Succession and Regime Stability

This report discusses the political future of various countries in the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region. A change in the leadership in these countries could significantly affect their policies toward the United States and their willingness to cooperate with the United States in achieving the stability needed to advance U.S. interests in this important region.

Iraq's Economy: Past, Present, Future

This report discusses the government of Iraq and its active role in stimulating and directing the Iraqi economy.This report identifies issues to be addressed before Iraq can participate normally in the world economy.

Iraq: Turkey, the Deployment of U.S. Forces, and Related Issues

On March 1, 2003, the Turkish parliament rejected a resolution authorizing the deployment of U.S. forces to Turkey to open a northern front in a war against Iraq. The rejection resulted from strains within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), an inexperienced leadership, competing influences, and the overwhelming opposition of Turkish public opinion. Moreover, the powerful Turkish military had not actively supported the government's position before the vote, and the President had suggested that the resolution would be unconstitutional. For a long time, Turkey had serious...

Iraq: Divergent Views on Military Action

Islam: A Primer

Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade: Key Issues for the 108th Congress

The 108th Congress will be faced early on with a number of pressing foreign affairs, defense, and trade issues. This report provides background information on the issues most likely to be taken up in the first session, analyzes the congressional role in shaping U.S. policy on these key issues, and lists CRS products that provide more detailed discussion and analysis. The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon dramatically altered the U.S. political environment, pushing issues of war and homeland security to the top of the policy agenda. Of particular concern to...

Iraqi Challenges and U.S. Responses: March 1991 through October 2002

This report is designed as a source of ready reference for congressional offices interested in instances of use of force by the United States against Iraq from the end of the 1990-1991 Gulf war until October 11, 2002.

Turkey's November 3, 2002 National Election

In Turkey's November 3, 2002 national election, voters vented their frustrations over an impoverishing recession, a painful International Monetary Fund program, and endemic corruption by expelling the governing coalition parties and others. The Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has Islamist roots, won by occupying the terrain of the majority center-right of Turkish politics. It will form a government without its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been banned because of an Islamist speech. AKP's highest priorities are economic recovery and accession negotiations with the...

Foreign Relations Authorization, FY2003: An Overview

Congress is required by law to authorize the spending of appropriations for the State Department and foreign policy activities every two years. The authorization process dovetails with the annual appropriation process for the Department of State (within the Commerce, Justice, State and Related Agency appropriation) and foreign policy/foreign aid activities (within the foreign operations appropriation). While Congress intended the legislation would serve as authorization for both FY2002 and FY2003, the delay in getting it through Congress led to a waiver of the authorization...

Iraq: The Turkish Factor

European Counterterrorist Efforts: Political Will and Diverse Responses in the First Year After September 11

The attacks of September 11 prompted the Bush Administration to improve law enforcement and other coordination between the United States and European governments dealing with international terrorism. European governments have also taken measures to enhance cooperation among themselves. Most notable are European Union efforts to enhance cross-border sharing of intelligence and police information, extend the reach of warrants, and strengthen external border controls. Some European countries have a long history of fighting terrorism, and have refined existing practices as part of their...

Turkey: Issues for U.S. Policy

The Shib'a Farms Dispute and Its Implications

Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000 left several small but sensitive territorial issues unresolved, notably, a roughly 10 square mile enclave at the southern edge of the Lebanese-Syrian border known as the Shib’a Farms. Israel did not evacuate this enclave, arguing that it is not Lebanese territory but rather is a part of the Syrian Golan Heights, which Israel occupied in 1967. Lebanon, supported by Syria, asserts that this territory is part of Lebanon and should have been evacuated by Israel when the latter abandoned its self-declared security zone in May 2000. On June...

The Barcelona Process: The European Union's Partnership with the Southern Mediterranean

The European Union (EU) has identified the Mediterranean (MED) region as a key external relations priority. EU policy towards the region is governed by the comprehensive Euro-Mediterranean Partnership Initiative, launched at the 1995 Barcelona Conference between the EU and the 12 Mediterranean partners. The Barcelona Process entails a new, broader and more far-reaching agenda of cooperation with the non-EU Mediterranean countries, including the creation of a Euro-MED free trade area to be established by 2010. The Barcelona Agreement contains three chapters of cooperation: the political...

Turkey: Financial Crises in Context

In December 1999, with International Monetary Fund support, Turkey launched a major economic reform program intended to cure chronic inflation. Its main elements were a crawling exchange rate peg, structural reforms, and privatization. Some progress was made in 2000, but implementation was uneven. A severe liquidity crisis in late November 2000 required a new IMF loan. On February 22, 2001, after a second crisis, Turkey abandoned the currency peg and, with it, the program. Analysts concur that stabilization, privatization, and banking reform are still needed, but Turkey's statist ideology...

Gulf Cooperation Council Defense Agreement

a summit meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), held in Bahrain at the end of 2000, saw the attending heads of state and government take a number of modest measures in the areas of economic and security cooperation which are the organization's objectives. The most important of those measures, in terms of U.S. interest, was the signing of a mutual defense treaty which would, if ratified, formally commit the members of the organization to consider an external aggression against one member as an attack on all. The United States currently provides the security umbrella for those...

Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Policy: Key Issues in the 107th Congress

Among the 107th Congress' first orders of business will be dealing with the initiatives--both domestic and foreign policy--proposed by President Bush throughout his presidential campaign. The 2000 congressional campaigns suggested that the agenda of the 107th Congress will be largely domestic: Social Security, health care, education, taxes, and military pay were prominent in campaigns across America and on post-election news programs. Indeed, many issues discussed in this report will be affected by the resolution of a contentious battle for the presidency. In the Congress, the 50-50...

Jonathan Pollard: Background and Considerations for Presidential Clemency

Jonathan Jay Pollard and his wife, Anne Henderson Pollard, were arrested in 1985 on charges of spying for Israel. Pollard pleaded guilty and received a life sentence, and remains in prison. Anne Henderson Pollard received a five-year sentence, and was released early in 1989. At first, the Israeli government claimed Pollard's activities were not sanctioned by the Israeli government and were part of a rogue operation, but the Israeli government granted citizenship to Pollard in 1996, and admitted that Pollard was spying for the government of Israel in 1998. Israeli Prime Ministers on...

The Current Palestinian Uprising: Al-Aqsa Intifadah

Facing a September 13, 2000 deadline for concluding a comprehensive Israeli- Palestinian agreement on all permanent status issues, President Bill Clinton convened a trilateral summit with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat at Camp David on July 11, 2000. The summit, which lasted until July 24, 2000, did not produce an agreement. Members of 106th Congress responded to the al-Aqsa Intifadah by introducing bills that supported Israel’s actions, encouraged the U.S. Administration to oppose any anti-Israel resolutions in the...

Syria after Hafiz al-Asad

Iraq’s Opposition Movements

Greece: Election and Aftermath

Prime Minister Simitis of Greece called an early election for April 9, 2000 because he believed that his government's achievement in meeting the criteria for entry into the European Monetary Union (EMU) would return his PanHellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) party to power. PASOK's narrow victory endorsed Simitis's decision, but the opposition New Democracy's (ND) strong showing also validated Costas Karamanlis's leadership of that party. The election continued a trend toward bipolarism, as votes for smaller parties, except for the Communists, declined appreciably. Simitis reappointed...

Israel: Missile Defense Cooperation With the United States

The growing number and sophistication of ballistic missile threats in the Middle East has prompted the United States to help Israel develop several missile and rocket defense programs. The centerpiece of these efforts, the Arrow Weapons System, has demonstrated successes in tests and Israel unveiled it to the public on March 14, 2000. Some argue that these efforts cannot guarantee Israel's security, and that Israel's national interests are better served by peace agreements with its neighbors and other measures. Others believe that even if peace agreements are achieved, Israel will need a...

Morocco: Royal Succession and Other Developments

King Hassan II of Morocco succumbed to a heart attack on July 24, 1999, and was succeeded by his 36-year old elder son, who became King Mohammed VI. The new King’s progressive agenda highlights efforts to fight poverty, advance economic development, support the opposition-led government, and redress human rights abuses. In foreign policy, his priorities include improving relations with Europe and Algeria, and he has reached out to the Moroccan Jews of Israel. The long-standing U.S. friendship with Morocco continues. For background, see CRS Report 98-663(pdf) , Morocco: Political and...

Iran: U.S. Policy and Options

Iran: U.S. Policy and Options

Iran and the United States have been adversaries, and have sometimes engaged in low-level military hostilities, since Iran's Islamic revolution on February 11, 1979. During its first term, the Clinton Administration sought to build on earlier policies designed to contain Iran and moderate its behavior. The Clinton Administration initially placed its policy of containing Iran within a broader framework for keeping both Iran and Iraq weak, terming the policy "dual containment." The Administration maintained that dual containment was a necessary departure from past Persian Gulf policies in...

Afghanistan: Connections to Islamic Movements in Central and South Asia and Southern Russia

After several years of relative peace in Central Asia and southern Russia, Islamic extremist movements have become more active in Russia and in Central and South Asia, threatening stability in the region. Although numerous factors might account for the upsurge in activity, several of these movements appear to have connections to the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban regime in Afghanistan. These linkages raise questions about whether the United States, as part of a broader effort to promote peace and stability in the region, should continue to engage the Taliban regime, or strongly...

Turkey: After the Earthquake

On August 17, 1999, Turkey was struck by a severe earthquake, leaving about 15,000 dead, 24,000 injured, and 250,000 homeless. The high casualty toll, aggravated by shoddy construction, has been partly attributed to corrupt builders and government officials. Turkish media, earthquake victims, and other observers criticized the government and military for their slow responses to the disaster. Yet, neither the political system nor the government are likely to change soon. Turkey had been in a recession before the quake, and economic growth will continue to decline in the short term but...

Qatar: Background and U.S. Relations

Jerusalem: The U.S. Embassy and P.L. 104-45

Report discussing the legislation proposal to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Algeria: A New President and His Policies

The powerful Algerian army appears to have sought President Liamine Zeroual's early departure from office and, in elections held in April 1999, Abdulaziz Bouteflika was elected to replace him. The opposition charged that the elections were fraudulent. Bouteflika had served as Foreign Minister from 1963-78, but had been absent from the country for some years. After seven years of civil war between government security forces and Islamist militants, Bouteflika has proposed a "civil concord" or amnesty to advance the prospects for domestic peace. Rising oil prices could enable him to address...

Iraq: Compensation and Assets Issues

A U.N. process to compensate the victims of Iraq's invasion and occupation of Kuwait is proceeding, aided by revenues generated by the U.N. "oil-for-food" program in Iraq. However, the amount of money available relative to outstanding claims suggests that the compensation process will not be completed in the foreseeable future. On a related issue, progress to decide the disposition of frozen Iraq assets held by U.S. banks has been hampered by differences over which claimants should have priority. (1) A bill that gives priority to members or veterans of the U.S. armed forces was...

Kosovo: Greek and Turkish Perspectives

Western governments have cited a danger of the Kosovo conflict spreading to NATO allies Greece and Turkey as justification for military intervention in Kosovo. These two eastern Mediterranean neighbors have difficult bilateral relations. Their overarching goals for Kosovo are similar, but their views of NATO's military campaign differ. Greece opposes NATO's approach for reasons based on history, culture, competing foreign policy goals, and public opinion. Its sympathies lie with the Serbs. Turkey supports NATO out of alliance loyalty and because of its shared history, culture,...

The Persian Gulf: Issues for U.S. Policy, 1999

The Persian Gulf region contains both challenges and opportunities for the United States in 1999. Since October 1997, the United States and its partners on the United Nations Security Council have faced repeated crises with Iraq over its failure to cooperate with U.N.-mandated disarmament efforts. As 1998 ended, U.N. weapons inspectors from the U.N. Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) reported that they were unable to perform their disarmament mission. They left Iraq just prior to a 70 hour U.S./British bombing campaign against Iraqi sites that could be used to reconstitute weapons of...

Turkey: Government Update

Capping three years of political instability, a fourth government since the December 1995 election has been formed in Turkey to lead the country to new elections on April 18, 1999. The maneuvering of politicians and the interference of the powerful Turkish military in politics have produced the governmental turnovers. The military continues to be wary of a possible strong showing by Islamists in the coming vote. New Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, an ardent secularist and nationalist, reportedly has little hope of accomplishing much during his very brief tenure. Pending foreign policy issues...

Foreign and Defense Policy: Key Issues in the 106th Congress

When the 106th Congress comes to work in January, its first order of business will be to deal with the impeachment of the President of the United States. The 1998 congressional campaigns and elections suggested that the agenda of the 106th Congress also will be largely domestic in its focus: Social Security, health care, and education were the order of the day in campaigns across America and on post-election news programs. Indeed, of the issues discussed in this report, only increased defense spending to address military readiness and retention of trained military personnel has been...

Iraq: U.S. Policy Options

In the aftermath of the December 16-19 U.S.-British bombing campaign against Iraq (Operation Desert Fox), the United States continues to search for a sustainable and effective means of ending the threat posed by Iraq. Many in Congress believe that U.S. policy should focus primarily on removing Saddam Husayn from power. The Administration says it is working toward that outcome but that achieving it will be difficult. According to the Administration, near term U.S. policy should focus primarily on preventing any restart of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs and on containing...

Russian Missile Technology and Nuclear Reactor Transfers to Iran

Many in Congress and the Clinton Administration charge that Russian entities are assisting Iran in developing ballistic missiles. Russia is also building a nuclear power station in, and is furnishing other nuclear services to, Iran. Congress has passed legislation requiring the President to impose sanctions for missile technology transfers, arms sales, nuclear technology transfers, and large-scale investments in Iran. H.R. 2709 , which includes the "Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act of 1997," is one of several bills designed to tighten existing sanctions law. It was amended and...

Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process: The Wye River Memorandum

On October 23, 1998, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasir Arafat signed the Wye River Memorandum which delineates parallel, incremental steps to be taken over a 12-week period to complete implementation of prior agreements. A time line attached to the Memorandum defines an exchange of Israeli redeployments from the West Bank for concrete security measures to be taken by the Palestinians. Congress may be concerned about provisions that appear to expand the U.S. role, especially about unusually visible Central Intelligence Agency activity...

Iraq Crisis: U.S. and Allied Forces

Iraq Crisis: U.S. and Allied Forces

Terrorism: Middle Eastern Groups and State Sponsors, 1998

During the 1980s and the early 1990s, Iran and terrorist groups it sponsors have been responsible for the most politically significant acts of Middle Eastern terrorism. In late 1997, signs began to appear that major factions within Iran want to change Iran's image from a backer of terrorism to a constructive force in the region. If this trend in Iran takes hold, there is a chance that state-sponsored Middle Eastern terrorism will decline over time as Iran moves away from active opposition to the Arab-Israeli peace process. The Arab-Israeli peace process is a longstanding major U.S....

Algeria: Developments and Dilemmas

This report provides background information on the civil strife in Algeria, updating developments since the government abandoned talks with the Islamist Salvation Front in 1995 and began a process of institution-building. The result, however, did not restore peace. Rather, violence has become more indiscriminate. The culprits are harder to identify and may include government forces as well as Islamist extremists. Policymakers face the dilemma of wishing to hold the government to a higher standard of conduct as the upholder of the rule of law, while not wanting terrorists to benefit...

Morocco: Political and Economic Changes and U.S. Policy

This report describes the unprecedented strides in democratization and economic liberalization occurring in Morocco, where the first opposition-led government took power in February 1998. The government of this long-term U.S. ally is trying to address endemic economic and social problems while adhering to stringent International Monetary Fund economic guidelines. Active Islamist groups capitalize on societal ills and create a troubling context for the government's efforts. They and others are victims of human rights abuses. The overall human rights situation is deficient; yet...

Israeli-Turkish Relations

Agreements reached in the Arab-Israeli peace process from 1993 until 1995 made relations between Israel and its Arab and Muslim neighbors more acceptable in the latter circles. Israeli-Turkish ties are the most portentous development in this area, and they have not been impeded by subsequent difficulties in the peace process. The main dimension of Turkish-Israeli relations is military. Landmark agreements on military cooperation in February 1996 and on military industrial cooperation in April 1996 have produced unprecedented military exercises and training, arms sales, and strategic...

South Asia Crisis: Effects on the Middle East

The May 1998 nuclear tests by India and Pakistan have raised concerns that these countries, particularly Pakistan, might transfer nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction technology to Iran or other Middle Eastern states. Iran has developed military ties to both India and Pakistan, and has tried to acquire advanced technology from Pakistan, but political and other differences have limited these relationships. There is little evidence that other Middle Eastern countries have tried to acquire weapons of mass destruction technology from India or Pakistan. This paper will not be updated.

Armenia: Unexpected Change in Government

This report describes the recent change in the Armenian government and its possible consequences. President Levon Ter-Petrosyan resigned on February 3, 1998, primarily because of domestic opposition to his acceptance of an international peace plan to resolve the conflict over Nagorno- Karabakh with Azerbaijan. Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan assumed power for an interim period and then won the special presidential election of March 1998. His new government wants to advance market reforms and change the Constitution to balance power among the branches of government. Kocharyan rejects the...

Jerusalem: Legislation to Move the U.S. Embassy

Report discussing the legislation proposal to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Turkey: Situation Update

This report briefly discusses recent political, economic, and security issues in Turkey, especially relating to Turkey's relationship with Greece, the European Union, and the United States.

Turkey: Situation Update

Turkey's year-long experiment with Islamist-led government ended in July, when a multi-party secularist coalition headed by Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz took office for what is viewed as a transition to early national elections sometime in 1998. The political situation is fluid. The government is addressing some economic problems and redirecting Turkey's foreign policy back toward the West and toward Turkic kin in Azerbaijan and Central Asia. There are problems in Turkey's relations with the European Union, with efforts to reach an international settlement on Cyprus, and in Turkish-Greek...

Greece and Turkey: Aegean Issues -- Background and Recent Developments

For many years, NATO allies Greece and Turkey have been adversaries in bilateral disputes which have produced crises and even brought them to the brink of war. One series of disputes involves Aegean Sea borders. The two disagree over the border in the air, continental shelf, and territorial sea, over the status of islands in the Sea, and over the ownership of Aegean islets. In the aftermath of a January 1996 crisis over the sovereignty of the Imia/Kardak islet, various dispute resolution initiatives were undertaken. NATO proposed military-related confidence-building measures, some of...

Greece and Turkey: The Rocky Islet Crisis

The dispute between Greece and Turkey over the sovereignty of Imia/Kardak islet escalated rapidly because bilateral relations are hampered by historic distrust and unresolved issues, and because both countries have weak governments. Each marshalled legal arguments to support its position. The United States acted to defuse the crisis and restore the status quo ante, but some State Department comments complicated U.S.-Greek relations. In the aftermath, a politically damaged Greek government temporarily distanced itself from the United States and sought support from its European Union...

Israeli-Palestinian Agreement

On August 27, 1993, Israel and the Palestinians announced that Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) official Mahmoud Abbas (also known as Abu Mazen) had initialed a landmark agreement on August 19 in Oslo, Norway on a Declaration of Principles on interim self-government for the West Bank and Gaza Strip. On September 9, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin exchanged letters of unprecedented mutual recognition. On September 10, President Clinton welcomed the agreement, thanked Congress for its support, and...