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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation and Security Issues

Paul K. Kerr
Analyst in Nonproliferation

Mary Beth Nikitin
Analyst in Nonproliferation

Pakistan's nuclear arsenal consists of approximately 60 nuclear warheads, although it could be larger. Islamabad is producing fissile material, adding to related production facilities, and deploying additional delivery vehicles. These steps will enable Pakistan to undertake both quantitative and qualitative improvements to its nuclear arsenal. Whether and to what extent Pakistan's current expansion of its nuclear weapons-related facilities is a response to the 2008 U.S.-India nuclear cooperation agreement is unclear. Islamabad does not have a public, detailed nuclear doctrine, but its "minimum credible deterrent" is widely regarded as primarily a deterrent to Indian military action. 

Pakistan has in recent years taken a number of steps to increase international confidence in the security of its nuclear arsenal. In addition to dramatically overhauling nuclear command and control structures since September 11, 2001, Islamabad has implemented new personnel security programs. Moreover, Pakistani and some U.S. officials argue that, since the 2004 revelations about a procurement network run by former Pakistani nuclear official A.Q. Khan, Islamabad has taken a number of steps to improve its nuclear security and to prevent further proliferation of nuclear-related technologies and materials. A number of important initiatives, such as strengthened export control laws, improved personnel security, and international nuclear security cooperation programs have improved Pakistan's security situation in recent years. 

Instability in Pakistan has called the extent and durability of these reforms into question. Some observers fear radical takeover of a government that possesses a nuclear bomb, or proliferation by radical sympathizers within Pakistan's nuclear complex in case of a breakdown of controls. While U.S. and Pakistani officials continue to express confidence in controls over Pakistan's nuclear weapons, continued instability in the country could impact these safeguards. For a broader discussion, see CRS Report RL33498, Pakistan-U.S. Relations, by K. Alan Kronstadt. This report will be updated.


Date of Report: February 4, 2010
Number of Pages: 23
Order Number: RL34248
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Monday, February 22, 2010

CRS Issue Statement on South Asia

K. Alan Kronstadt
Specialist in South Asian Affairs

Long considered a "strategic backwater," South Asia has emerged in the 21st century as increasingly vital to core U.S. foreign policy interests, including cooperative efforts to combat terrorism, halt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, reduce the incidence of religious extremism, and protect human rights, including through the promotion of democracy and rule of law. In the interests of regional stability, the United States strongly encourages the resumption of an India-Pakistan peace initiative and remains concerned about the potential for conflict over Kashmiri sovereignty to cause open hostilities between these two nuclear-armed countries. A major terrorist attack in Mumbai, India, in November 2008 placed major strain on the bilateral dialogue. The United States also has a region-wide interest in economic development and the continued liberalization of South Asian economies, especially in the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations. Moreover, South Asia is a source of large numbers of immigrants to the United States, making U.S. immigration law a related issue of concern.


Date of Report: January 12, 2010
Number of Pages: 4
Order Number: IS40387
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

U.S. Trade and Investment Relationship with Sub-Saharan Africa: The African Growth and Opportunity Act

Vivian C. Jones
Specialist in International Trade and Finance


Following the end of the apartheid era in South Africa in the early 1990s, the United States sought to increase economic relations with Sub-Saharan Africa. President Clinton instituted several measures that dealt with investment, debt relief, and trade. Congress required the President to develop a trade and development policy for Africa. 

The economic challenges facing Africa today are serious. Unlike the period from 1960 to 1973, when economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa was relatively strong, since 1973 the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa have grown at rates well below other developing countries. There are some signs of improvement, but problems such as HIV/AIDS and the debt burden are constraining African economic growth. The global economic crisis and its aftermath have also profoundly affected the region. 

In May 2000, Congress approved a new U.S. trade and investment policy for Sub-Saharan Africa in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA; Title I, P.L. 106-200). U.S. trade with and investment in Sub-Saharan Africa have comprised only 1%-2% of U.S. totals for the world. AGOA extends preferential treatment to imports from eligible countries that are pursuing market reform measures. Data show that U.S. imports under AGOA are mostly energy products, but imports to date of other products have grown. AGOA mandated that U.S. officials meet regularly with their counterparts in Sub-Saharan Africa, and six of these meetings have been held. 

AGOA also directed the President to provide U.S. government technical assistance and trade capacity support to AGOA beneficiary countries. Government agencies that have roles in this effort include the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa (established by statute under AGOA), the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Export-Import Bank, the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, and the Trade and Development Agency. In addition to bilateral programs, the United States is a member of several multilateral institutions that provide trade capacity building. 

In AGOA, Congress declared that free-trade agreements should be negotiated, where feasible, with interested Sub-Saharan African countries. Related to this provision, negotiations on a freetrade agreement with the Southern African Customs Union, which includes South Africa and four other countries, began in June 2003, but were suspended in April 2006. 

Several topics may be important to the 111th Congress in the oversight of AGOA and in potential legislation amending the act. First, S. 1141 (Feinstein, introduced May 21, 2009, the TRADE Act of 2009) seeks to establish a trade preference program for least-developed countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Yemen. Second, an emerging area of concern for Sub-Saharan African countries is growing interest in Congress over reforming trade preference programs by combining existing programs, some of which are due to expire at the end of 2010, into a unified package. H.R. 4101 (McDermott, introduced November 18, 2009) proposes such an approach. Some African leaders have expressed concern that a preference program giving trade benefits similar to those enjoyed by AGOA countries, or creating one trade preference program for all developing countries, would lead to erosion of the preferences granted to African countries under AGOA, and place them in direct competition for U.S. market share and investment with other developing and least-developed countries such as Bangladesh and Cambodia.



Date of Report: February 4, 2010
Number of Pages: 35
Order Number: RL31772
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Madagascar’s Political Crisis

Lauren Ploch
Analyst in African Affairs


Political tensions on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar between President Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina, the former mayor of the capital city, escalated in early 2009, culminating in the President's forced removal from office. In preceding weeks, over 135 people had been killed in riots and demonstrations. Under intensifying pressure from mutinous soldiers and large crowds of protestors, Ravalomanana handed power to the military on March 17, 2009. The military then transferred authority to Rajoelina, who has declared a transitional government. Rajoelina's "inauguration" as president of the transitional authority was followed by days of protests by thousands of supporters of Ravalomanana. Several subsequent demonstrations have led to violent clashes with security forces. Negotiations in August 2009 between the parties led to the signing of an agreement in Mozambique to establish an inclusive, transitional government, but Rajoelina subsequently appointed a new government seen to be primarily composed of his own supporters. Southern African leaders and Madagascar's opposition parties rejected the proposed government, and negotiations in Mozambique resumed. On October 6, the parties announced that they had reached agreement on posts in the new government, which would be led by Andry Rajoelina until new elections are held. Ravalomanana reportedly agreed to the arrangement on the condition that Rajoelina would not vie for the presidency in those elections. Rajoelina later rejected the accord and announced that elections would be held in March 2010. The international community objected to the proposed date, arguing that elections cannot be held without opposition consensus. In late January 2010 Rajoelina reportedly consented to postpone the elections and re-engage in negotiations. 

The political uncertainty has strained relations between international donors and Madagascar, which was the first country to sign a U.S. Millennium Challenge Account compact, worth an estimated $110 million. That compact was terminated in May 2009. Following coups in Mauritania and Guinea in 2008, the African Union, the United States, and the European Union, among others, warned against an unconstitutional transfer of power on the island nation and have suspended most foreign aid and threatened sanctions. The African Union and the Southern African Development Community have suspended Madagascar until constitutional order is restored.



Date of Report: February 1, 2010
Number of Pages: 14
Order Number: R40448
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Morocco: Current Issues

Carol Migdalovitz
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

The United States government views Morocco as a moderate Arab regime, an ally against terrorism, and a free trade partner. King Mohammed VI retains supreme power but has taken incremental liberalizing steps. Since 9/11, Moroccan expatriates have been implicated in international terrorism, and Morocco has suffered terror attacks. Morocco takes a proactive approach to countering terror, but some of its measures may be setting back progress in human rights. Morocco's foreign policy focuses largely on Europe, particularly France and Spain, and the United States. In the Middle East, it supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has severed diplomatic relations with Iran for bilateral reasons.

The Moroccan royal dynasty has ruled the country since 1649. The reigning king, Mohammed VI, ascended to the throne in 1999. He is committed to building a democracy, but he remains the preeminent state authority. The king chairs the Council of State that endorses all legislation before it goes to parliament, appoints the prime minister and ministers of foreign affairs, interior, defense, and Islamic Affairs, and approves other ministers. He sets the agenda of parliament in an annual Speech from the Throne, dissolves parliament, calls elections, and rules by decree. The king also has a "shadow government" of royal advisors and is head of the military. Reforms depend on the king's will, and he has undertaken several hallmark liberalizing initiatives. The king also is said to be tied to significant economic enterprises in the country.

See also CRS Report RS21464, Morocco-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, by Raymond J. Ahearn and CRS Report RS20962, Western Sahara: Status of Settlement Efforts, by Carol Migdalovitz.


Date of Report: February 3, 2010
Number of Pages: 13
Order Number: RS21579
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Iran Sanctions

Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs


Iran is subject to a wide range of U.S. sanctions, restricting trade with, investment, and U.S. foreign aid to Iran, and requiring the United States to vote against international lending to Iran. Several laws and Executive Orders authorize the imposition of U.S. penalties against foreign companies that do business with Iran, as part of an effort to persuade foreign firms to choose between the Iranian market and the much larger U.S. market. Most notable among these sanctions is a ban, imposed in 1995, on U.S. trade with and investment in Iran. That ban has since been modified slightly to allow for some bilateral trade in luxury and humanitarian-related goods. Foreign subsidiaries of U.S. firms remain generally exempt from the trade ban since they are under the laws of the countries where they are incorporated. Since 1995, several U.S. laws and regulations that seek to pressure Iran's economy, curb Iran's support for militant groups, and curtail supplies to Iran of advanced technology have been enacted. Since 2006, the United Nations Security Council has imposed some sanctions primarily attempting to curtail supply to Iran of weapons-related technology but also sanctioning some Iranian banks. 

U.S. officials have identified Iran's energy sector as a key Iranian vulnerability because Iran's government revenues are approximately 80% dependent on oil revenues and in need of substantial foreign investment. A U.S. effort to curb international energy investment in Iran began in 1996 with the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA), but no firms have been sanctioned under it and the precise effects of ISA—as distinct from other factors affecting international firms' decisions on whether to invest in Iran—have been unclear. International pressure on Iran to curb its nuclear program has increased the hesitation of many major foreign firms to invest in Iran's energy sector, hindering Iran's efforts to expand oil production beyond 4.1 million barrels per day, but some firms continue to see opportunity in Iran. 

Some in Congress express concern about the reticence of U.S. allies, of Russia, and of China, to impose U.N. sanctions that would target Iran's civilian economy. In an attempt to strengthen U.S. leverage with its allies to back such international sanctions, several bills in the 111th Congress would add U.S. sanctions on Iran. For example, H.R. 2194 (which passed the House on December 15, 2009), H.R. 1985, H.R. 1208, and S. 908 would include as ISA violations selling refined gasoline to Iran; providing shipping insurance or other services to deliver gasoline to Iran; or supplying equipment to or performing the construction of oil refineries in Iran. Several of these bills would also expand the menu of available sanctions against violators. A bill passed by the Senate on January 28, 2010 (S. 2799), contains these sanctions as well as a broad range of other measures against Iran, including reversing previous easings of the U.S. ban on trade with Iran. 

In light of the strength of the democratic opposition in Iran, one trend in Congress is to alter some U.S. sanctions laws in order to facilitate the democracy movement's access to information, and to target those persons or institutions in the regime who are committing human rights abuses against protesters. For more on Iran, see CRS Report RL32048, Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses, by Kenneth Katzman. 
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Date of Report: February 2, 2010
Number of Pages: 30
Order Number: RS20871
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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

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

John Rollins, Coordinator
Acting Section Research Manager/Specialist in Terrorism and National Security

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 Soviets, 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 ideas from subordinates. 

Some would argue that the Al Qaeda of that period no longer exists. Out of necessity, due to pressures from the security community, in the ensuing years it has transformed into a diffuse global network and philosophical movement composed of dispersed nodes with varying degrees of independence. The core leadership, headed by Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, is thought to live in the mountainous tribal belt of northwest Pakistan, where it continues to train operatives, recruit, and disseminate propaganda. But Al Qaeda franchises or affiliated groups active in countries such as Yemen and Somalia now represent critical power centers in the larger movement. Some affiliates receive money, training, and weapons; others look to the core leadership in Pakistan for strategic guidance, theological justification, and a larger narrative of global struggle. Over the past year senior government officials have assessed the trajectory of Al Qaeda to be "less centralized command and control, (with) no clear center of gravity, and likely rising and falling centers of gravity, depending on where the U.S. and the international focus is for that period." While a degraded corporate Al Qaeda may be welcome news to many, a trend has emerged over the past few years that some view as more difficult to detect, if not potentially more lethal. 

The Al Qaeda network today also comprises semi-autonomous or self radicalized actors, who often have only peripheral or ephemeral ties to either the core cadre in Pakistan or affiliated groups elsewhere. According to U.S. officials Al Qaeda cells and associates are located in over 70 countries. Sometimes these individuals never leave their home country but are radicalized with the assistance of others who have traveled abroad for training and indoctrination through the use of modern technologies. In many ways, the dispersion of Al Qaeda affiliates fits into the larger strategy of Bin Laden and his associates. They have sought to serve as the vanguard of a religious movement that inspires Muslims and other individuals aspiring to join a jihadi movement to help establish a global caliphate through violent means. The name "Qaeda" means "base" or "foundation," upon which its members hope to build a robust, geographically-diverse network. 

Understanding the origins of Al Qaeda, its goals, current activities, and prospective future pursuits is key to developing sound U.S. strategies, policies, and programs. Appreciating the adaptive nature of Al Qaeda as a movement and the ongoing threat it projects onto U.S. global security interests assists in many facets of the national security enterprise; including, securing the homeland, congressional legislative process and oversight, alignment of executive branch resources and coordination efforts, and prioritization of foreign assistance. 

The focus of this report is on the history of Al Qaeda, actions and capabilities of the organization and non-aligned entities, and an analysis of select regional Al Qaeda affiliates. This report may be updated as events warrant. 



Date of Report: February 5, 2010
Number of Pages: 32
Order Number: R41070
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Defense Logistical Support Contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan: Issues for Congress

Valerie Bailey Grasso
Specialist in Defense Acquisition

This report examines logistical support contracts for troop support services in Iraq and Afghanistan (for Afghanistan, beginning with LOGCAP IV) administered through the U.S. Army's Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP). LOGCAP is an initiative designed to manage the use of civilian contractors that perform services during times of war and other military mobilizations. On April 18, 2008, DOD announced the Army's LOGCAP IV contract awards to three companies—DynCorp International LLC, Fort Worth, TX; Fluor Intercontinental, Inc, Greenville, SC; and KBR, Houston, TX, through a full and open competition. The LOGCAP IV contract calls for each company to compete for task orders. Each company may be awarded up to $5 billion annually for troop support services with a maximum annual value of $15 billion. Over the life of LOGCAP IV, the maximum contract value is $150 billion. Under LOGCAP IV, the U.S. Army Sustainment Command awarded the first performance task order on September 25, 2008 to Fluor Intercontinental, Inc., for logistical support services in Afghanistan. 

The U.S. Army's Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP), an Army program designed to manage civilian contractors, is now in transition. The current LOGCAP III contractor supports the drawdown in Iraq by providing logistical services, theater transportation, augmentation of maintenance services, and other combat support services. According to Army contracting officials, all LOGCAP requirements in Kuwait have successfully transitioned from LOGCAP III to LOGCAP IV contracts. The transition of requirements is continuing from LOGCAP III to LOGCAP IV contracts, and will be used for combat support services in Afghanistan. 

Congress is concerned about the Federal oversight and management of DOD contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, particularly under programs like LOGCAP. Recent assessments from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), DOD Office of the Inspector General (DOD-IG), and the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) reveal a lack of accountability for large sums of money spent for Iraq contracts. According to the recent congressional testimony of Charles Williams, Director of the Defense Contract Management Agency, there are more than 600 oversight positions still vacant in Iraq and Afghanistan. Congress is also concerned about contractor insurance premiums through the Defense Base Act (DBA); such premiums comprise significant costs under LOGCAP. The DBA requires that many Federal government contractors and subcontractors provide workers' compensation insurance for their employees who work outside of the United States. The U.S. Army's LOGCAP contract covers costs for DBA insurance and includes significant overheard and other costs beyond the costs of the actual insurance claims. 



Date of Report: January 27, 2010
Number of Pages: 38
Order Number: RL33834
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Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy

Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs


Upon taking office, the Obama Administration faced a deteriorating security environment in Afghanistan, despite a steady increase in U.S. forces there in recent years. Signs of deterioration included an expanded area and greater intensity of militant operations, higher levels of overall violence, Afghan and international disillusionment with corruption in the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and the ease of infiltration of Taliban militants from safe havens in Pakistan. Building on assessments completed in the latter days of the Bush Administration, the Obama Administration has conducted two "strategy reviews" the results of which were announced on March 27, 2009, and on December 1, 2009, respectively. The outcome of both reviews was to add combat troops but with the intent of creating safe conditions to expand Afghan governance and economic development. As part of the early 2009 review, the President announced an increase of 21,000 U.S. troops, which arrived by November 2009 and brought U.S. force levels to about 68,000, in partnership with about 39,000 international forces from 43 other nations, and about nearly 200,000 Afghan security forces. 

Following the early 2009 review, the Administration decided that more innovative military tactics were also needed to promote U.S. goals, and in May 2009, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, was replaced by Gen. Stanley McChrystal. On August 30, 2009, McChrystal submitted his review of the military strategy, recommending a fully resourced, comprehensive counter-insurgency strategy in order to avoid mission failure. He subsequently recommended that about 40,000 additional U.S. combat forces could be needed to implement his recommended strategy. On December 1, 2009, following a second high level policy review, President Obama announced the following: 

• The provision of 30,000 additional U.S. forces to begin deploying by January 2010 to "reverse the Taliban's momentum and strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan's security forces and government so that they can take the lead." 

• A conditions-based plan to begin to draw down U.S. forces beginning in July 2011. 

• A call for additional partner contributions, much of which have been pledged. 

The international community will review all aspects of policy in Afghanistan at a major international meeting in London on January 28, 2010. Some focus will be on the legitimacy and performance of the Afghan government, called into question most recently by widespread fraud allegations in the August 20, 2009, presidential election. Following extensive investigation and President Hamid Karzai's acknowledgment that he did not achieve a first round victory, his main opponent pulled out of a run-off and Karzai was declared the winner. He has since had difficulty obtaining parliamentary confirmation of a new cabinet; after two rounds of nominations and confirmation votes, at least ten ministries lack confirmed ministers. One dispute, over the feasibility of holding parliamentary elections in May 2010 in accordance with constitutional deadlines, was settled on January 24 with a decision to postpone them until September 18, 2010. 

Including FY2009, the United States has provided over $40 billion in assistance to Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban, of which about $21 billion has been to equip and train Afghan forces. 



Date of Report: January 27, 2010
Number of Pages: 92
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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Afghanistan and Pakistan Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs), H.R. 1318/H.R.1886/H.R. 2410 and S. 496: Issues and Arguments

Mary Jane Bolle 
Specialist in International Trade and Finance


On June 9, 2009, the House Rules Committee issued a rule providing for the consideration of H.R. 1886, the Pakistan Enduring Assistance and Cooperation Enhancement Act. The rule inserted, with modifications, H.R. 1318, the Afghanistan-Pakistan Security and Prosperity Enhancement Act, the ROZ legislation, into the base text of H.R. 1886. On June 11, 2009, the House passed H.R. 1886 by a vote of 234 to 185, and the clerk was directed to add it as new matter to the end of H.R. 2410, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011. On September 24, 2009, by Unanimous Consent, the Senate passed S. 1707, the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009, in lieu of H.R. 1886. It did not include the House ROZ language. It became law (P.L. 111-73) on October 15, 2009. 

The Afghanistan-Pakistan Security and Prosperity Enhancement Act (H.R. 1318) and the Afghanistan and Pakistan Reconstruction Opportunity Zones Act (S. 496) would establish a unilateral U.S. trade preference program for Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan. In an effort to promote economic development in both countries, the legislation would permit certain goods produced in designated geographic areas called Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) to be imported into the United States duty-free. ROZs would be a specific type of export processing zone, and thus part of a world-wide network of free trade zones. Free trade zones are typically fenced-in industrial parks. As such they are self-contained islands of infrastructure necessary to support manufacturing, often located in relatively undeveloped geographic locations. They support economic development by facilitating cooperative production among workers in more than one country. 

Both Pakistan and Afghanistan are currently exporting certain goods to the United States dutyfree under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). The ROZ program would offer additional tariff benefits to Afghanistan and Pakistan. In turn, it would place additional requirements on both countries. 

The 300 top U.S. import categories from Pakistan are valued at $3 billion. These 300 represent 98 % of all dutiable imports from Pakistan, almost all of which are textile and apparel products. The ROZ proposal would remove tariffs on about half the value of these imports–98 items which are mostly textile products such as towels, sheets, comforters, and curtains, which carry an average trade-weighted tariff rate of 8.1%. The ROZ proposal would not remove tariffs on 195 items of which are mostly apparel items, such as shirts, trousers, blue jeans, socks and underwear, which carry an average trade-weighted tariff rate of 14.9%. 

The legislation appears to be of primarily political and symbolic importance for U.S. relationships with Afghanistan and Pakistan, and was specifically supported by President Obama in his March 27 announcement of a new U.S. strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Proponents of the legislation see it as a way of promoting economic development in remote and restive areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. On the other hand, there are those who point out restrictions: 

• the limited possible locations for ROZ production in order to be eligible for tariff-free treatment; 

• the limited range of products eligible for tariff-free treatment; 

• the labor requirements in H.R. 1318; and 

• security concerns.



Date of Report: January 22, 2010
Number of Pages: 39
Order Number: R40627
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Thursday, February 4, 2010

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

Carol Migdalovitz
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs


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 Bank and Gaza Strip. However, Israeli-Syrian negotiations were intermittent and difficult, and postponed indefinitely in 2000. Israeli-Lebanese negotiations also were unsuccessful, leading Israel to withdraw unilaterally from south Lebanon on May 24, 2000. President Clinton held a summit with Israeli and Palestinian leaders at Camp David on final status issues that July, but they did not produce an accord. A Palestinian uprising or intifadah began in September. On February 6, 2001, Ariel Sharon was elected Prime Minister of Israel, and rejected steps taken at Camp David and afterwards. 

On April 30, 2003, the United States, the U.N., European Union, and Russia (known as the "Quartet") presented a "Road Map" to Palestinian statehood. It has not been implemented. Israel unilaterally disengaged (withdrew) from the Gaza Strip and four small settlements in the West Bank in August 2005. On January 9, 2005, Mahmud Abbas had become President of the PA. The victory of Hamas, which Israel and the United States consider a terrorist group, in the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections complicated prospects for peace as the United States, Israel, and the Quartet would not deal with a Hamas-led government until it disavowed violence, recognized Israel, and accepted prior Israeli-Palestinian accords. President Abbas's dissolution of the Hamas-led government in response to the June 2007 Hamas forcible takeover of the Gaza Strip led to resumed international contacts with the PA. On November 27, at an international conference in Annapolis, MD, President Bush read a Joint Understanding in which Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to simultaneously resume bilateral negotiations on core issues and implement the Road Map. On May 21, 2008, Israel, Syria, and Turkey announced that Syria and Israel had begun indirect peace talks in Istanbul via Turkish mediators. Later in the year, Israeli and U.S. elections appeared to disrupt negotiations on all tracks and the end of the Israeli-Hamas cease-fire in December and the subsequent outbreak of violence in Gaza led to the official suspension of peace talks. President Obama has affirmed U.S. support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and named former Senator George Mitchell as his Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, but negotiations have not resumed. 

Congress is interested in issues related to Middle East peace because of its oversight role in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy, its support for Israel, and keen constituent interest. It is especially concerned about U.S. financial and other commitments to the parties, and the 111th Congress is engaged in these matters. Congress also has endorsed Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, although U.S. Administrations have consistently maintained that the fate of the city is the subject of final status negotiations. See also CRS Report R40101, Israel and Hamas: Conflict in Gaza (2008-2009) , coordinated by Jim Zanotti, CRS Report RS22768, Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process: The Annapolis Conference, by Carol Migdalovitz, CRS Report RL33566, Lebanon: The Israel-Hamas-Hezbollah Conflict, coordinated by Jeremy M. Sharp, and CRS Report RS22967, U.S. Foreign Aid to the Palestinians, by Jim Zanotti.


Date of Report: January 29, 2010
Number of Pages: 58
Order Number: RL33530
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Burma and Transnational Crime

Liana Sun Wyler
Analyst in International Crime and Narcotics

Transnational organized crime groups in Burma (Myanmar) operate a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that stretches across Southeast Asia. Trafficked drugs, humans, wildlife, gems, timber, and other contraband flow through Burma, supporting the illicit demands of the region and beyond. Widespread collusion between traffickers and Burma's ruling military junta, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), allows organized crime groups to function with impunity. Transnational crime in Burma bears upon U.S. interests as it threatens regional security in Southeast Asia and bolsters a regime that fosters a culture of corruption and disrespect for the rule of law and human rights. 

Congress has been active in U.S. policy toward Burma for a variety of reasons, including combating Burma's transnational crime situation. At times, it has imposed sanctions on Burmese imports, suspended foreign assistance and loans, and ensured that U.S. funds remain out of the regime's reach. The 110th Congress passed P.L. 110-286, the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act of 2008 (signed by the President on July 29, 2008), which imposes further sanctions on SPDC officials and prohibits the indirect importation of Burmese gems, among other actions. On the same day, the President directed the U.S. Department of Treasury to impose financial sanctions against 10 Burmese companies, including companies involved in the gem-mining industry, pursuant to Executive Order 13464 of April 30, 2008. 

The second session of the 111th Congress may choose to conduct oversight of U.S. policy toward Burma, including the country's role in criminal activity. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in February 2009 the beginning of a review of U.S.-Burma relations. In September 2009, the conclusions of this policy review were released, noting in particular the beginning of direct dialogue with Burmese authorities on international crime-related issues, including compliance with U.N. arms sanctions and counternarcotics. Already in the first session of the 111th Congress, both the Senate and the House have held hearings in which crime issues related to Burma have been addressed. 

This report analyzes the primary actors driving transnational crime in Burma, the forms of transnational crime occurring, and current U.S. policy in combating these crimes. This report will be updated as events warrant. For further analysis of U.S. policy to Burma, see CRS Report RL33479, Burma-U.S. Relations, by Larry A. Niksch. 


Date of Report: January 21, 2010
Number of Pages: 19
Order Number: RL34225
Price: $29.95

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Executive Order 13438: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq

M. Maureen Murphy
Legislative Attorney

On July 17, 2007, President Bush issued Executive Order No. 13438, "Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq." It is the latest in a series of executive orders based on the national emergency declared by President Bush with respect to "the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by obstacles to the orderly reconstruction of Iraq, the restoration and maintenance of peace and security in that country, and the development of political, administrative and economic institutions in Iraq." 

The President's authority to issue the executive order stems from the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977 (IEEPA). The executive order covers financial transactions and authorizes property controls with respect to three categories of persons: (1) individuals or entities determined "to have committed, or to pose a significant risk, of committing an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of ... threatening the peace or stability of Iraq ..."; (2) individuals or entities determined "to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support for, or goods or services in support of, such an act or acts of violence or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order ..."; and (3) individuals and entities determined "to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order...." 

This report provides a brief history of the development of presidential powers in peacetime. It discusses some of the issues that might be raised in light of the contrast between the executive order's broad language and its narrow aim—supplementation of sanctions applicable to Al Qaeda and former Iraqi regime officials to cover terrorists operating in Iraq. It examines the reach of the executive order and provides legal analyses of some of the constitutional questions raised in the courts by similar sanctions programs, noting that the broad language of the executive order is not unprecedented. In view of the fact that there is an expectation that the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) will publish names of persons designated under the executive order and issue regulations further refining its terms and applicability, the report examines some of the procedures available to challenge OFAC sanction regulations and briefly discusses OFAC's rules, which may be of concern to attorneys representing individuals and entities subjected to sanctions or involved in transactions with sanctioned persons.


Date of Report: January 19, 2010
Number of Pages: 25
Order Number: RL34254
Price: $29.95

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Afghanistan: U.S. Foreign Assistance

Curt Tarnoff
Specialist in Foreign Affairs

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, about $47 billion has been appropriated toward this effort. More than half of U.S. assistance—roughly 57%—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 counternarcotics programs. 

Key U.S. agencies providing aid are the Department of Defense, the Agency for International Development, and the Department of State. 

In December 2009, Congress approved the FY2010 State, Foreign Operations appropriations (H.R. 3288, Division F, P.L. 111-117), providing $2 billion in the Economic Support Fund (ESF) and $420 million in the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INCLE) accounts. It also approved the FY2010 DOD appropriations (H.R. 3326, P.L. 111-118), providing $6.6 billion to the Afghan Security Forces Fund (ASFF) and allocating $1 billion for the Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP) activities in Afghanistan.

 This report provides a "big picture" overview of the U.S. aid program and congressional action. It describes what various aid agencies report they are doing in Afghanistan. It does not address the effectiveness of their programs. It will be updated as events warrant. 

For discussion of the Afghan political, security, and economic situation, see CRS Report RL30588, Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy, by Kenneth Katzman. For greater detail on security assistance provided by the Department of Defense, see CRS Report R40156, War in Afghanistan: Strategy, Military Operations, and Issues for Congress, by Steve Bowman and Catherine Dale. For fuller information on U.S. counter-narcotics efforts in Afghanistan, see CRS Report RL32686, Afghanistan: Narcotics and U.S. Policy, by Christopher M. Blanchard. For discussion of allied security and reconstruction aid activities, see CRS Report RL33627, NATO in Afghanistan: A Test of the Transatlantic Alliance, by Vincent Morelli and Paul Belkin. For information on the United Nations effort, see CRS Report R40747, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan: Background and Policy Issues, by Rhoda Margesson. 
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Date of Report: January 21, 2010
Number of Pages: 19
Order Number: R40699
Price: $29.95

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