Search Penny Hill Press

Loading...

Friday, May 28, 2010

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

Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

Kuwait has been pivotal to nearly two decades of U.S. efforts to reduce a threat posed by Iraq. After U.S. forces liberated Kuwait from Iraqi invading forces in February 1991, Kuwait was the central location from which the United States contained Saddam during 1991-2003, and it hosted the bulk of the U.S.-led force that invaded Iraq in March 2003 to remove Saddam from power. It is the key route through which about 45,000 U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Iraq during the summer of 2010. Kuwait's relations with the current government of Iraq are hampered, in part, by issues not fully resolved from the August 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. 

For the past four years, wrangling between the elected National Assembly and the ruling Al Sabah family primarily over the political dominance and alleged corruption of the Al Sabah has brought virtual political paralysis to Kuwait. In March 2009, the broad infighting led to the second constitutional dissolution of the National Assembly in the past year, setting up new parliamentary elections on May 16, 2009. The elections produced many new deputies in the 50-seat Assembly, including four women, the first to be elected to the Assembly in Kuwait since women were given the vote in 2005. However, the elections did not resolve the government-Assembly political disputes or produce meaningful progress on major issues. In late 2009, there appeared to be the potential for yet another dissolution of the Assembly and new elections. However, the fall of the government was avoided when National Assembly deputies who are most critical of Prime Minister Shaykh Nassir al-Muhammad al-Ahmad Al Sabah could not muster a majority on a December 2009 vote of no confidence against him. Divisions within the Al Sabah family have expanded as well. 

Nor did the election break long-standing logjams holding up key energy projects, including some projects involving major foreign energy firms, or on measures to help Kuwait deal with the effects of the global financial and economic crisis. The political infighting has also tarnished Kuwait's reputation on rule of law and human rights record as the Al Sabah have purportedly sought to silence critical journalists or buy off political adversaries. 

On other regional issues, the political stalemate in Kuwait has caused Kuwaiti leaders to generally defer to Saudi Arabia and other more active Gulf states. Kuwait has not attempted to take a leadership role in mediating disputes within the Palestinian territories or to try to determine Iran's role in Gulf security and political arrangements. Kuwait had been somewhat sympathetic toward Iran as a counterweight to Saddam Hussein, but has become more critical of Iran since Saddam's removal. Kuwait still sees itself as a potential arena for Iran to assert itself as a protector of Shiite minorities and to try to pose a threat to U.S. forces based in the region. 
.


Date of Report: May 18, 2010
Number of Pages: 16
Order Number: RS21513
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Iran’s Nuclear Program: Tehran’s Compliance with International Obligations

Paul K. Kerr
Analyst in Nonproliferation

In 2002, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) began investigating allegations that Iran had conducted clandestine nuclear activities. Ultimately, the agency reported that some of these activities had violated Tehran's IAEA safeguards agreement. The IAEA has not stated definitively that Iran has pursued nuclear weapons, but has also not yet been able to conclude that the country's nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes. The IAEA Board of Governors referred the matter to the U.N. Security Council in February 2006. Since then, the council has adopted five resolutions, the most recent of which (Resolution 1835) was adopted in September 2008. 

The Security Council has required Iran to cooperate fully with the IAEA's investigation of its nuclear activities, suspend its uranium enrichment program, suspend its construction of a heavywater reactor and related projects, and ratify the Additional Protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement. However, a February 2010 report from IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano to the agency's Board of Governors indicated that Tehran has continued to defy the council's demands by continuing work on its uranium enrichment program and heavy-water reactor program. Iran has signed, but not ratified, its Additional Protocol. 

Iran and the IAEA agreed in August 2007 on a work plan to clarify the outstanding questions regarding Tehran's nuclear program. Most of these questions have essentially been resolved, but then-IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei told the agency's board in June 2008 that the agency still has questions regarding "possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme." The IAEA has reported for some time that it has not been able to make progress on these matters. 

This report provides a brief overview of Iran's nuclear program and describes the legal basis for the actions taken by the IAEA board and the Security Council.


Date of Report: May 21, 2010
Number of Pages: 17
Order Number: R40094
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

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

Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs


Following two high-level policy reviews on Afghanistan in 2009, the Obama Administration says it is pursuing a fully resourced, integrated military-civilian strategy that will pave the way for a gradual transition to Afghan security leadership beginning in July 2011. The policy is intended to address what the Obama Administration considered to be a security environment that was deteriorating despite a gradual increase in U.S. forces there during 2006-2008. Some of the deterioration has been attributed to Afghan disillusionment with insufficient, ineffective, and corrupt Afghan governance, and the relative safe haven in parts of Pakistan enjoyed by Afghan militants. 

Each of the two high-level policy reviews in 2009 resulted in a decision to add combat troops, with the intent of creating the conditions to expand Afghan governance and economic development, rather than on hunting and defeating insurgents. A total of 51,000 additional U.S. forces were authorized by the two reviews, which will bring U.S. troop levels to approximately 100,000 by September 2010. Each review also resulted in force increases by U.S. partners in Afghanistan. 

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was appointed top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan in May 2009, is a key architect and proponent of the current strategy. The strategy is predicated not only on creating secure conditions, but also empowering and improving Afghan governance and promoting economic development. These functions have involved a significant buildup of U.S. diplomats and other civilians as advisors and mentors. U.S. diplomats are also adjusting their approach to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who was weakened by U.S. criticism of his failure to curb corruption and by the extensive fraud in the August 20, 2009, presidential elections. He was declared the winner but subsequently had difficulty obtaining parliamentary confirmation of a new cabinet. His domestic difficulties and strains between him and some in the Obama Administration nearly led to a revocation of President Obama's invitation for Karzai to visit the United States May 10-14, 2010, (an invitation issued during President Obama's visit to Afghanistan on March 28, 2010). 

A major issue during the Karzai visit to Washington D.C. is the effort to persuade insurgent fighters and leaders to end their fight and join the political process. The effort was also the focus of an international meeting on Afghanistan held in London on January 28, 2010.There is not universal international support for Karzai's vision of reconciling with high-level insurgent figures, potentially including Taliban leader Mullah Umar. However, Karzai says he plans to pursue this initiative at a "peace jirga" to convene in Kabul planned on/about May 20. As U.S. strategy unfolds, a greater sense of U.S. official optimism has started to take hold, with comments to this effect by Gen. McChrystal, Secretary of Defense Gates, and CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus. Their comments have coincided with the partial success of "Operation Moshtarak" to stabilize Marjah, and successful arrests of and strikes on key Afghan militants in Pakistan. A more extensive operation—although characterized more by political engagement than actual combat—is planned for June 2010 in the major province of Qandahar. 

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: May 11, 2010
Number of Pages: 97
Order Number: RL30588
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses

Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

The Obama Administration has not changed the Bush Administration's characterization of Iran as a "profound threat to U.S. national security interests," a perception generated not only by Iran's nuclear program but also by its military assistance to armed groups in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the Palestinian group Hamas, and to Lebanese Hezbollah. However, in its first year, the Obama Administration altered the U.S. approach for reducing the Iranian threat by expanding direct diplomatic engagement with Iran's government and by offering Iran's leaders an alternative vision of closer integration with and acceptance by the West. To try to convince Iranian leaders of peaceful U.S. intent, the Obama Administration downplayed discussion of potential U.S. military action against Iranian nuclear facilities and has repeatedly insisted that the United States is not directly or materially supporting the domestic opposition movement that emerged following Iran's June 12, 2009, presidential election. 

The domestic opposition—which in late 2009 appeared to pose a potentially serious challenge to the regime's grip on power—may present the Administration with greater leverage over Iran than was the case previously. In December 2009, Administration statements shifted toward greater public support of the domestic opposition "Green movement," but Administration officials appear to believe that the opposition's prospects are enhanced by a low U.S. public profile on the unrest. Congressional resolutions and legislation since mid-2009 show growing congressional support for steps to enhance the opposition's prospects. 

Even at the height of the Green movement protests, the Obama Administration did not forego diplomatic options to blunt Iran's nuclear progress and says it remains open to a nuclear deal if Iran fully accepts a framework Iran tentatively agreed to in multilateral talks on October 1, 2009. However, Iran did not accept the technical details of this by the notional deadline of the end of 2009, nor has it adequately responded to international concerns about possible work on a nuclear weapons program. These concerns have sparked renewed multilateral discussions of more U.N. sanctions and apparently have prompted the Defense Department to try to develop additional options for preventing or containing a nuclear Iran. New U.N. sanctions under negotiation would target members and companies of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is not only a pillar of Iran's nuclear program but is also the main element used by the regime to crack down against the protesters. 

Additional U.N. Security Council sanctions would build on those put in place since 2006. These sanctions generally are targeted against WMD-related trade with Iran, but also ban Iran from transferring arms outside Iran and restrict dealings with some Iranian banks. Separate U.S. efforts to persuade European governments to curb trade with, investment in, and credits for Iran, and to convince foreign banks not to do business with Iran, are intended to compound the U.N. pressure. In the 111th Congress, conference action is underway on separate legislation to try to curb sales to Iran of gasoline, which many Members believe could help pressure Iran into a nuclear settlement or undermine the regime's popularity even further. Others believe such steps could help the regime rebuild its support by painting the international community as punitive against the Iranian people. For further information, see CRS Report RS20871, Iran Sanctions, by Kenneth Katzman; CRS Report R40849,
Iran: Regional Perspectives and U.S. Policy
, coordinated by Casey L. Addis; and CRS Report RL34544, Iran's Nuclear Program: Status, by Paul K. Kerr.


Date of Report: May 3, 2010
Number of Pages: 66
Order Number: RL32048
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Iran Sanctions

Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

Numerous laws and regulations have been adopted or issued to try to slow Iran's weapons of mass destruction programs and curb its support for militant groups. U.S. sanctions are intended to reduce the revenue available to Iran's government and to generate domestic pressure within Iran to adopt policies more acceptable to the international community. International sanctions have been enacted since 2006, primarily to try to curtail supply to Iran of weapons-related technology, rather than inflict damage on Iran's civilian economy. The wide range of U.S. sanctions restrict U.S. trade with and investment in Iran, prohibit U.S. foreign aid to Iran, and require 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. Foreign subsidiaries of U.S. firms remain generally exempt from the trade ban since they operate under the laws of the countries where these subsidiaries are incorporated. 

Successive U.S. Administrations have identified Iran's energy sector as a key Iranian economic 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's energy sector began in 1996 with the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA), but no firms have been sanctioned under it. Still, ISA, when coupled with broader factors, may have influenced some international firms' decisions to refrain from investing in energy projects in Iran. Possibly as a result, Iran has been unable to expand oil production beyond 4.1 million barrels per day, although it does now have a gas export sector that it did not have before Iran opened its fields to foreign investment in 1996. In an effort to exploit Iran's dependence on imports of gasoline, in the 111th Congress, H.R. 2194 (which passed the House on December 15, 2009), would add 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. A Senate version was passed on January 28, 2010 (S. 2799), which contains these sanctions as well as a broad range of other measures further restricting the already limited amount of U.S. trade with Iran. It was passed as an amendment to H.R. 2194 on March 11, 2010, and conference action on the differing versions began in late April. 

The effectiveness of U.S. and international sanctions on Iran, by most accounts, is unclear. Some Iranian economic sectors have clearly been harmed by sanctions, but any such effects have not, to date, caused a demonstrable shift in Iran's commitment to its nuclear program. However, the growing perception that Iran is an international outcast has caused several major international firms to announce, in late 2009 and early 2010, an end to their business pursuits in Iran. To try to further Iran's isolation by highlighting its authoritarian political system, the Obama Administration appears to be shifting—in U.S. regulations and in discussions with U.S. allies on a possible new U.N. Security Council Resolution—to targeting Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for sanctions. This shift is intended to weaken the Guard as a proliferationsupporting organization, as well as to expose its role in trying to crush the democratic opposition in Iran. A parallel trend in Congress, reflected in several bills that have passed or are in various stages of consideration, would sanction Iranian officials who are human rights abusers, facilitate the democracy movement's access to information, and express outright U.S. support for the overthrow of the regime. For a broader analysis of policy on Iran, see CRS Report RL32048, Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses, by Kenneth Katzman.


Date of Report: May 4, 2010
Number of Pages:42
Order Number:RS20871
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Qatar: Background and U.S. Relations

Christopher M. Blanchard  
Analyst in Middle Eastern Affairs

Qatar, a small peninsular country in the Persian Gulf, emerged as a partner of the United States in the mid-1990s and currently serves as host to major U.S. military facilities. Qatar holds the third largest proven natural gas reserves in the world, and its small population enjoys the second highest per capita income in the world. The emir of Qatar, Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, has managed a course of major economic growth and very limited political liberalization since replacing his father in a bloodless palace coup in 1995. The emir has undertaken several projects to capitalize on Qatar's hydrocarbon resources and improve educational opportunities for Qatari citizens in support of economic diversification. As part of Qatar's liberalization experiment, the Qatari monarchy founded Al Jazeera, the first all-news Arabic language satellite television network, in 1995. In an April 2003 referendum, Qatari voters approved a new constitution that officially granted women the right to vote and run for national office. The latest elections for the Central Municipal Council were held in April 2007. Elections are being planned for a national Advisory Council established by the new constitution, but no target date has been set. 

Following joint military operations during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, Qatar and the United States concluded a Defense Cooperation Agreement that has been subsequently expanded. In April 2003, the U.S. Combat Air Operations Center for the Middle East moved from Prince Sultan Airbase in Saudi Arabia to Qatar's Al Udeid airbase south of Doha, the Qatari capital. Al Udeid and other facilities in Qatar serve as logistics, command, and basing hubs for the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of operations, including Iraq and Afghanistan. 

In spite of serving as the host to a large U.S. military presence and supporting U.S. regional initiatives, Qatar has remained mostly secure from terrorist attacks. Terrorist statements indicate that energy infrastructure and U.S. military facilities in Qatar remain potential targets. U.S. officials have described Qatar's counterterrorism cooperation since 9/11 as significant; however, some observers have raised questions about possible support for Al Qaeda by some Qatari citizens, including members of Qatar's large ruling family. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, Qatar's current Interior Minister provided safe haven to 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed during the mid-1990s, and press reports indicate other terrorists may have received financial support or safe haven in Qatar after September 11, 2001. 

Human rights concerns persist. The 2009 State Department human rights report on Qatar notes that basic civil liberties are restricted and states that the foreign workers who make up most of the country's population of 1.67 million "in many cases worked under circumstances that constituted forced labor." Since 2007, the State Department has reported that enacted safety and labor rights regulations remain largely unenforced, and foreign diplomats' visits to labor camps revealed "the majority of unskilled foreign laborers living in cramped, dirty, and hazardous conditions, often without running water, electricity, or adequate food." 

Qatari officials have taken an increasingly active diplomatic role in recent years, seeking to position themselves as mediators and interlocutors in a number of regional conflicts. Qatar's willingness to embrace Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas as part of its mediation and outreach initiatives has at times appeared to anger officials in other regional countries. In February 2010, Qatar signed a defense cooperation agreement with neighboring Iran. The Obama Administration has not voiced public concern about Qatar's foreign policy and, like the Bush Administration, has sought to preserve and expand military and counterterrorism cooperation with Qatar.


Date of Report: May 5, 2010
Number of Pages:30
Order Number:RL31718
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance

Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

The performance and legitimacy of the Afghan government figured prominently in two reviews of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan during 2009 and continues to color U.S. relations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. In his December 1, 2009, speech on Afghanistan, which followed the second review, President Obama stated that the Afghan government would be judged on performance, and "The days of providing a blank check are over." President Obama pressed Karzai to move more decisively to address his government's deficiencies, particularly corruption, during a March 28, 2010, visit to Afghanistan. The Obama visit may have contributed to two subsequent statements by Karzai accusing the international community of exercising undue pressure on him and on Afghanistan. These issues will likely be further discussed during Karzai's planned May 12, 2010, meeting with President Obama in Washington, DC (a visit that was nearly scuttled following Karzai's comments). 

The Afghan government's widespread official corruption, as well as its ineffectiveness, is identified by U.S. officials as feeding the insurgency. At the same time, Karzai's alliances with key ethnic and political faction leaders have reduced his ability to fill the government with politically neutral and technically competent officers. Despite diminished confidence in Karzai, he went into the August 20, 2009, presidential election as the favorite. Amid widespread charges of fraud, many substantiated by a U.N.-backed Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), nearly one-third of Karzai's votes were invalidated, leaving Karzai just short of the 50%+ total needed to avoid a second-round runoff. Asserting that more fraud was likely, Karzai's main challenger dropped out of the race on November 1, 2009, and Karzai was declared the winner. He has since had difficulty obtaining parliamentary confirmation of a full cabinet, and 11 permanent ministerial posts remain unfilled. Most of the well-regarded economic ministers were confirmed. 

Karzai's hopes to rebuild international support for his leadership at a major international conference on Afghanistan in Britain on January 28, 2010, were only partly fulfilled. The conference endorsed—and agreed to begin to fund—his proposals to try to persuade insurgent fighters to give up their fight. For his part, Karzai committed to several specific steps to try to weed out official corruption and to ensure that all future elections are free and fair. That pledge was undermined, to an extent, in February 2010 when Karzai issued an election decree to govern the National Assembly elections on September 18, 2010. The decree eliminated the three U.N.- appointed positions for international officials on the ECC, although a subsequent compromise between Karzai and U.N. officials restored two non-Afghan seats on the ECC. 

Because most insurgents are, like Karzai, ethnic Pashtuns, stabilizing Afghanistan requires winning Pashtun political support for the Afghan government, which requires effective local governing structures. The Obama Administration has emphasized empowering local governing bodies in part by expanding the presence of U.S. government civilians as advisors outside Kabul. The Administration also has appointed senior civilian officials to work jointly with their military counterparts in the five regional commands around Afghanistan. For more information, see CRS Report RL30588, Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy, by Kenneth Katzman, and CRS Report R40747, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan: Background and Policy Issues, by Rhoda Margesson.


Date of Report: May 6, 2010
Number of Pages: 41
Order Number: RS21922
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Iraq: Politics, Elections, and Benchmarks

Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

Iraq's political system, the result of a U.S.-supported election process, has been increasingly characterized by peaceful competition, as well as by attempts to form cross-sectarian alliances. However, ethnic and factional infighting continues, sometimes using key levers of power and seemingly undemocratic means. This was in evidence in the successful efforts by Shiite Arab political leaders to disqualify some prominent Sunni Arab candidates in the March 7, 2010, national elections for the Council of Representatives (COR, parliament), which will form the next government. Election-related violence occurred before and during the election, although not at levels of earlier years or at a level to significantly affect voting, except perhaps for Baghdad city. 

With all votes counted, the cross-sectarian "Iraqiyya" slate of former Prime Minister Iyad al- Allawi unexpectedly gained a plurality of 91 of the 325 COR seats up for election. Nuri Kamal al-Maliki's State of Law slate came in a close second, with two fewer seats, and a rival Shiite coalition was a distant third with 70. The main Kurdish parties, again allied, won 43. Allawi's slate had been expected to get the first opportunity to put together a majority coalition to form a government. However, Maliki and other Shiite parties—opposing what they claim is the mostly Sunni Arab base of the Allawi slate—are in extensive discussions to put together a coalition that would be able to determine the next government. To bolster his claim to remain prime minister, Maliki's slate requested, and a court agreed, to a recount of votes in crucial Baghdad province; Maliki hopes the recount will deprive Allawi's bloc of its plurality of seats. Another court's disqualification (on "de-Baathification" grounds) of one winning and 51 losing candidates will require a recalculation of seat allocations, presumably to Maliki's benefit. 

Allawi, who is viewed as even-handed and not amenable to Iranian influence, is considered to be favored by the Obama Administration and by Sunni-dominated regional neighbors such as Saudi Arabia. However, many expect that neither the United States nor these neighbors can or will intervene decisively to shape a new government. The domestic tensions over the election result— although likely to delay the formation of a new government until well into the summer—have not, for now, altered the Obama Administration's planned reduction of the U.S. troop presence in Iraq. The current U.S. troop level is about 95,000, and a reduction to 50,000 is planned to be completed by September 1, 2010, according to the top U.S. commander in Iraq, General Raymond Odierno. Odierno adds that U.S. drawdown plans would change only if the postelection political process turns highly violent—a development that has not happened to date and is not widely expected. Under the U.S.-Iraq Security Agreement that took effect January 1, 2009, and which President Obama has said would be followed, all U.S. forces are to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011. U.S. officials are hoping that not only will a new government be assembled, but that it will overcome the long-standing differences that have thus far prevented passage of key outstanding legislation considered crucial to political comity going forward, such as national hydrocarbon laws. See CRS Report RL31339, Iraq: Post-Saddam Governance and Security, by Kenneth Katzman.


Date of Report: April 28, 2010
Number of Pages: 25
Order Number: RS21968
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Defense Logistical Support Contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan: Issues for Congress

Valerie Bailey Grasso
Specialist in Defense Acquisition


This report examines Department of Defense (DOD) logistical support contracts for troop support services in Iraq and Afghanistan administered through the U.S. Army's Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP), as well as legislative initiatives which may impact the oversight and management of logistical support contracts for the delivery of troop support services. 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. As of March 2010, each company has been awarded at least one task order under LOGCAP IV. Over the life of LOGCAP IV, the maximum contract value is $150 billion. 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. 

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. Twelve tasks orders have been awarded under LOGCAP IV, and a total of $1.8 billion has been obligated under LOGCAP IV contracts. 

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), the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), and the Defense Contract Audit Agency reveal a lack of accountability for large sums of money spent for Iraq contracts. According to the 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 the size of 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. In March 2009, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) appointed a Panel on Defense Acquisition Reform to conduct a systematic review of the defense acquisition system. On March 23, 2010, the panel issued its final report, and provided the HASC its findings and recommendations. Largely as a result of the panel's work, H.R. 5013, the Implementing Management for Performance and Related Reforms to Obtain Value in Every Acquisition Act (IMPROVE) of 2010, was introduced on April 14, 2010. The bill seeks to improve the management and oversight of DOD's procurement of goods and services. The bill was amended by the HASC on April 21, 2010, discharged by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on April 23, 2010, and reported favorably in a HASC vote of 56-0.


Date of Report: April 28, 2010
Number of Pages: 44
Order Number: RL33834
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Iran Sanctions

Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs


Numerous laws and regulations have been adopted or issued to try to slow Iran's weapons of mass destruction programs and curb its support for militant groups. U.S. sanctions are intended to reduce the revenue available to Iran's government and to generate domestic pressure within Iran to adopt policies more acceptable to the international community. International sanctions have been enacted since 2006, primarily to try to curtail supply to Iran of weapons-related technology, rather than inflict damage on Iran's civilian economy. The wide range of U.S. sanctions restrict U.S. trade with and investment in Iran, prohibit U.S. foreign aid to Iran, and require 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. Foreign subsidiaries of U.S. firms remain generally exempt from the trade ban since they operate under the laws of the countries where these subsidiaries are incorporated. 

Successive U.S. Administrations have identified Iran's energy sector as a key Iranian economic 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's energy sector began in 1996 with the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA), but no firms have been sanctioned under it. Still, ISA, when coupled with broader factors, may have influenced some international firms' decisions to refrain from investing in energy projects in Iran. Possibly as a result, Iran has been unable to expand oil production beyond 4.1 million barrels per day, although it does now have a gas export sector that it did not have before Iran opened its fields to foreign investment in 1996. In an effort exploit Iran's dependence on imports of gasoline, in the 111th Congress, H.R. 2194 (which passed the House on December 15, 2009), would add 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. A Senate version was passed on January 28, 2010 (S. 2799), which contains these sanctions as well as a broad range of other measures further restricting the already limited amount of U.S. trade with Iran. It was passed as an amendment to H.R. 2194 on March 11, 2010, and conference action on the differing versions began in late April. 

The effectiveness of U.S. and international sanctions on Iran, by most accounts, is unclear. Some Iranian economic sectors have clearly been harmed by sanctions, but any such effects have not, to date, caused a demonstrable shift in Iran's commitment to its nuclear program. However, the growing perception that Iran is an international outcast has caused several major international firms to announce, in late 2009 and early 2010, an end to their business pursuits in Iran. To try to further Iran's isolation by highlighting its authoritarian political system, the Obama Administration appears to be shifting—in U.S. regulations and in discussions with U.S. allies on a possible new U.N. Security Council Resolution—to targeting Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for sanctions. This shift is intended to weaken the Guard as a proliferation supporting organization, as well as to expose its role in trying to crush the democratic opposition in Iran. A parallel trend in Congress, reflected in several bills that are have passed or are in various stages of consideration, would sanction Iranian officials who are human rights abusers, facilitate the democracy movement's access to information, and express outright U.S. support for the overthrow of the regime. For a broader analysis of policy on Iran, see CRS Report RL32048, 
Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses, by Kenneth Katzman.


Date of Report: April 30, 2010
Number of Pages: 40
Order Number: RS20871
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail
Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Syria: Background and U.S. Relations

Jeremy M. Sharp
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs


Despite its weak military and lackluster economy, Syria remains relevant in Middle Eastern geopolitics. Syria plays a key role in the Middle East peace process, acting at times as a "spoiler" by sponsoring Palestinian militants and facilitating the rearmament of Hezbollah. At other times, it has participated in substantive negotiations with Israel. Syria's longstanding relationship with the Iranian clerical regime is of great concern to U.S. strategists. As Syria grew more estranged from the United States throughout this decade, Syrian-Iranian relations improved, and some analysts have called on U.S. policymakers to woo Syrian leaders away from Iran. Others believe that the Administration should go even further in pressuring the Syrian government and should consider implementing even harsher economic sanctions against it. 

A variety of U.S. legislative provisions and executive directives prohibit direct aid to Syria and restrict bilateral trade relations between the two countries, largely because of Syria's designation by the U.S. State Department as a sponsor of international terrorism. On December 12, 2003, President Bush signed the Syria Accountability Act, H.R. 1828, as P.L. 108-175, which imposed additional economic sanctions against Syria. In recent years, the Administration has designated several Syrian entities as weapons proliferators and sanctioned several Russian companies for alleged WMD or advanced weapons sales to Syria. Annual foreign operations appropriations legislation also has contained provisions designating several million dollars annually for programs to support democracy in Syria. 

In recent months, the Obama Administration and the 111th Congress have increased calls for greater U.S. engagement with Syria. Several Congressional delegations have visited Syria, and Administration officials recently held talks with their Syrian counterparts. Whether or not this dialogue will lead to substantial changes in the U.S.-Syrian bilateral relationship remains to be seen. 

H.Res. 1285, which was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on April 21, 2010, "strongly condemns the Government of Syria for transferring Scud missiles and other advanced weapons and missile systems to the Hezbollah terrorist organization" and, among other things, "urges the President to reevaluate the nomination of Robert Ford as Ambassador to Syria." 

This report analyzes an array of bilateral issues that continue to affect relations between the United States and Syria. 
.


Date of Report: April 26, 2010
Number of Pages: 24
Order Number: RL33487
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

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

Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs


Following two high-level policy reviews and the appointment of a new overall U.S. commander in Afghanistan in 2009, the Obama Administration says it is pursuing a fully resourced, integrated military-civilian strategy that will pave the way for a gradual transition to Afghan security leadership beginning in July 2011. The policy is intended to address what the Obama Administration considered to be a security environment that was deteriorating despite a gradual increase in U.S. forces there during 2006-2008. Some of the deterioration has been attributed to Afghan disillusionment with corruption in the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and the relative safe haven in parts of Pakistan enjoyed by Afghan militants. 

Each of the two high-level policy reviews in 2009 resulted in a decision to add combat troops, with the intent of creating the conditions to expand Afghan governance and economic development, rather than on hunting and defeating insurgents. A total of 51,000 additional U.S. forces were authorized by the two reviews—21,000 in March 2009 and another 30,000 in December 2009. Each review also resulted in force increases by U.S. partners in Afghanistan. 

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was appointed top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan in May 2009, is a key architect and proponent of the current strategy. The strategy is predicated not only on creating secure conditions, but also empowering and improving Afghan governance and promoting economic development. These functions have involved a significant buildup of U.S. diplomats and other civilians as advisors and mentors. U.S. diplomats are also adjusting their approach to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who was weakened by U.S. criticism of his failure to curb corruption and by the extensive fraud in the August 20, 2009, presidential elections. He was declared the winner but subsequently had difficulty obtaining parliamentary confirmation of a new cabinet. His domestic difficulties and strains between him and some in the Obama Administration nearly led to a revocation of President Obama's invitation for Karzai to visit the United States May 10-14, 2010 (an invitation issued during President Obama's visit to Afghanistan on March 28, 2010). 

A major issue under discussion in Afghanistan, and a focus of an international meeting in London on January 28, 2010, on Afghanistan, is efforts to try to persuade insurgent fighters and leaders to end their fight and join the political process. There is not universal international support for Karzai's vision of reconciling with high-level insurgent figures, potentially including Taliban leader Mullah Umar, although Karzai has been pursuing such an initiative and will continue that effort at a "peace jirga" in Kabul planned for May 20. As U.S. strategy unfolds and reintegration and reconciliation talks gather strength, a greater sense of U.S. official optimism has started to take hold, with comments to this effect by Gen. McChrystal, Secretary of Defense Gates, and CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus. Their comments have coincided with the apparent success of "Operation Moshtarak" to push insurgents out of Marjah and establish Afghan governance there, and successful arrests of and strikes on key Afghan militants in Pakistan. A more extensive operation—although characterized more by political engagement than actual combat—is planned for June 2010 in the major province of Qandahar. 

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: April 20, 2010
Number of Pages: 95
Order Number: RL30588
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

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

Shayerah Ilias
Analyst in International Trade and Finance


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, strong economic performance has been hindered by high levels of inflation and unemployment and low levels of foreign investment. Some contend that President Ahmadinejad's expansionary monetary and fiscal policies have worsened unemployment, inflation, and poverty in Iran. With the onset of the global economic downturn, Iran's economic growth was expected to slow in 2009 and through 2010. 

Iran has long been subject to U.S. economic sanctions and more recently, to United Nations sanctions, over its uranium enrichment program and purported support for terror activities. Such sanctions are believed by some analysts to contribute to Iran's growing international trade and financial isolation. 

Iran's economy is highly dependent on the production and export of crude oil to finance government spending, and consequently is vulnerable to fluctuations in international oil prices. Although Iran has vast petroleum reserves, the country lacks adequate refining capacity and imports gasoline to meet domestic energy needs. Iran is seeking foreign investment to develop its petroleum sector. While some deals have been finalized, reputational and financial risks may have limited other foreign companies' willingness to finalize deals. 

While Iran-U.S. economic relations are limited, the United States has a key interest in Iran's relations with other countries. As some European countries have curbed trade and investment dealings with Iran, other countries, such as China and Russia, have emerged as increasingly important economic partners. Iran also has focused more heavily on regional trade opportunities, such as with the United Arab Emirates. 

High oil prices have increased Iran's leverage in dealing with international issues, but the country's dependence on oil and other weak spots in the economy have to come to light by the 2008 international financial crisis, which may portend a slowing down of Iran's economy. 

Members of Congress are divided about the proper course of action in respect to Iran. Some advocate a hard line, while others contend that sanctions are ineffective at promoting policy change in Iran and hurt the U.S. economy. In the 110th Congress, several bills were introduced that reflect both perspectives. Policies toward Iran remain a key issue for the 111th Congress.



Date of Report: April 22, 2010
Number of Pages: 41
Order Number: RL34525
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.