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CRS — State Sponsors of Acts of International Terrorism–Legislative Parameters: In Brief (February 27, 2015)

April 23, 2015 Comments off

State Sponsors of Acts of International Terrorism–Legislative Parameters: In Brief (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria are identified by the U.S. government as countries with governments that support acts of international terrorism. As the 114th Congress is sworn in and begins its first session, U.S. foreign policy and national security policies toward Cuba, Iran, and North Korea are in a state of close scrutiny, with an eye to easing sanctions, including removing Cuba and Iran from the terrorist lists, and with an eye to returning North Korea to the same lists. While it is the President’s authority to designate, and remove from designation, terrorist states, Congress is likely to weigh in as the reviews proceed.

This brief report provides information on legislation that authorizes the designation of any foreign government as a state sponsor of acts of international terrorism. It addresses the statutes and how they each define acts of international terrorism; establish a list to limit or prohibit aid or trade; provide for systematic removal of a foreign government from a list, including timeline and reporting requirements; authorize the President to waive restrictions on a listed foreign government; and provide (or do not provide) Congress with a means to block a delisting. It closes with a summary of delisting in the past.

Roundup of Recent Congressional Research Service Reports on the Middle East

April 21, 2015 Comments off

Roundup of Recent Congressional Research Service Reports on the Middle East (PDFs)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

CFR Backgrounder: Islamic State

April 8, 2015 Comments off

CFR Backgrounder: Islamic State
Source: Council on Foreign Relations

The self-proclaimed Islamic State is a militant movement that has conquered territory in western Iraq and eastern Syria, where it has made a bid to establish a state in territories that encompass some six and a half million residents. Though spawned by al-Qaeda’s Iraq franchise, it split with Osama bin Laden’s organization and evolved to not just employ terrorist and insurgent tactics, but the more conventional ones of an organized militia.

When Jihadis Come Marching Home: The Terrorist Threat Posed by Westerners Returning from Syria and Iraq

April 2, 2015 Comments off

When Jihadis Come Marching Home: The Terrorist Threat Posed by Westerners Returning from Syria and Iraq
Source: RAND Corporation

Although the numbers of Westerners slipping off to join the jihadist fronts in Syria and Iraq are murky, U.S. counterterrorism officials believe that those fighters pose a clear and present danger to American security. This Perspective seeks to examine the scope of the threat posed by Western fighters who return to their homes after fighting in Syria and Iraq; what can be done to reduce the threat, and whether military action is necessary in combating it, as well as whether a more ambitious American military intervention in Iraq and Syria is required.

CRS — Yemen: Civil War and Regional Intervention (March 26, 2015)

April 2, 2015 Comments off

Yemen: Civil War and Regional Intervention (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This report provides material on the latest crisis in Yemen and the U.S. policy response. For further background and analysis on Yemen, see CRS Report RL34170, Yemen: Background and U.S. Relations, by Jeremy M. Sharp.

Israel After the 2015 Elections: What Does Netanyahu’s Victory Mean for U.S. Policy?, CRS Insights (March 24, 2015)

April 2, 2015 Comments off

Israel After the 2015 Elections: What Does Netanyahu’s Victory Mean for U.S. Policy?, CRS Insights (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Israeli Knesset elections held on March 17, 2015, were a subject of significant interest for the United States. The leading candidates openly differed on how to manage disagreements with the United States and the international community on various matters, though how that might have translated into substantively different policy stances is unclear. The timing and manner of official Israeli statements and actions influence regional and international attitudes and developments, and may shape how the Obama Administration and Congress work together and with Israel on these issues.

Minorities in Iraq – Pushed to the brink of existence

April 1, 2015 Comments off

Minorities in Iraq – Pushed to the brink of existence
Source: European Parliament Think Tank

Iraqi minorities (Turkmens, Yazidis, Christians and other smaller communities) have long been discriminated against in Iraq. Violence against them has increased dramatically in areas of Iraqi territory that have fallen under the control of the Islamist terrorist group that has declared itself ‘the Islamic State’ (known variously as IS, ISIS or ISIL, and by the Arabic acronym ‘Daesh’ or ‘Da’esh’). After coming into power, this terrorist group called into question the very existence of several of these minorities, not least non-Muslim minorities, subjecting them to murder, rape, slavery and organ trafficking. Fearing for their life, people have been fleeing in unprecedented numbers: mass killings have led to the displacement of more than 2 million people, mainly to refugee camps in the Kurdistan region, these displacements are tangible evidence that the country is going through a process of reconfiguration and fragmentation. Past experience has shown that few displaced people ever return to their homes.

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