Search Penny Hill Press

Loading...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Iran Sanctions


Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

There appears to be a growing international consensus to adopt progressively strict economic sanctions against Iran to try to compel it to compromise on its further nuclear development. Measures adopted since mid-2010 by the United Nations Security Council, the European Union, and several other countries complement the numerous U.S. laws and regulations that have long sought to try to slow Iran’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs and curb its support for militant groups. The U.S. view—shared by major allies—is that sanctions should target the development of Iran’s energy sector that provides about 80% of government revenues, and try to isolate Iran, particularly its Revolutionary Guard Corps, from the international financial system. U.S. efforts to curb international energy investment in Iran’s energy sector began in 1996 with the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA), a U.S. law that mandates U.S. penalties against foreign companies that conduct certain business with Iran’s energy sector. ISA represented a U.S. effort, which is now broadening, to persuade foreign firms to choose between the Iranian market and the much larger U.S. and other developed markets. In the 111th Congress, the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA, P.L. 111-195) expanded ISA significantly to try to restrict Iran’s ability to make or import gasoline, for which Iran depends heavily on imports. CISADA also adds a broad range of other measures further restricting the already limited amount of U.S. trade with Iran and restricting some high technology trade with countries that allow WMD-useful technology to reach Iran.

CISADA’s enactment followed the June 9, 2010, adoption of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929, which imposes a ban on sales of heavy weapons to Iran and sanctions many additional Iranian entities affiliated with its Revolutionary Guard, but does not mandate sanctions on Iran’s energy or broad financial sector. European Union sanctions, imposed July 27, 2010, align the EU with the U.S. position, to a large extent, by prohibiting EU involvement in Iran’s energy sector and restricting trade financing and banking relationships with Iran, among other measures. National measures announced by Japan and South Korea in early September 2010—both are large buyers of Iranian energy—impose restrictions similar to those of the EU.

Because so many major economic powers have imposed sanctions on Iran, the sanctions are, by all accounts, having a growing effect on Iran’s economy. The sanctions are reinforcing the effects of Iran’s economic mismanagement and key bottlenecks. Among other indicators, there has been a stream of announcements by major international firms during 2010 that they are exiting the Iranian market. Iran’s oil production has fallen slightly to about 3.9 million barrels per day, from over 4.1 million barrels per day several years ago, although Iran now has small natural gas exports that it did not have before Iran opened its fields to foreign investment in 1996. Sales to Iran of gasoline have fallen dramatically since CISADA was enacted. U.S. officials say that the cumulative effect could harm Iran’s economy to the point where domestic pressure compels Iranian leaders to accept a nuclear compromise - the key strategic objective of the sanctions. However, there is a consensus that sanctions have not, to date, caused such an Iranian policy shift. Possibly in an effort to accomplish the separate objective of promoting the cause of the domestic opposition in Iran, the Obama Administration and Congress are increasingly emphasizing measures that 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 opposition. 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: December 13, 2010
Number of Pages: 62
Order Number: RS20871
Price: $29.95

Follow us on TWITTER at
http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

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, December 21, 2010

Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance

Kenneth Katzman Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

The limited capacity and widespread corruption of all levels of Afghan governance are growing factors in debate over the effectiveness of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, as expressed in an Administration assessment of policy released December 16, 2010. A competent, respected, and effective Afghan government is considered a major prerequisite for a transition to Afghan lead that is to take place by 2014, a timeframe agreed by the United States, its international partners, and the Afghan government. Afghan governing capacity has increased significantly since the Taliban regime fell in late 2001, but there is a broad view the Afghan government is ineffective, with many positions unfilled or filled by weak leaders, and that President Hamid Karzai has not moved decisively to reduce corruption. Karzai has agreed to cooperate with U.S.-led efforts to build the capacity of several emerging anti-corruption institutions, but these same institutions have sometimes caused a Karzai backlash when they have targeted his allies or relatives. Some of the effects of corruption burst into public view in August 2010 when major losses were announced by the large Kabul Bank, in part due to large loans to major shareholders, many of whom are close to Karzai. Some in Congress have sought to link further U.S. aid to clearer progress on the corruption issue.

Purportedly suspicious that U.S. and other donors are trying to undermine his leadership, Karzai has strengthened his bonds to ethnic and political faction leaders who undermine rule of law and are often involved in illicit economic activity. These alliances, although a consistent feature of Afghan politics long predating the thirty year period of instability there, compound continuing international concerns about Afghan democracy and political transparency. In the August 20, 2009, presidential election, there were widespread charges of fraud, many substantiated by an Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC). The ECC invalidated nearly one-third of President Karzai’s votes, although Karzai’s main challenger dropped out of a runoff and Karzai was declared the winner. He subsequently faced opposition to many of his cabinet nominees by the elected lower house of parliament, and seven permanent ministerial posts remain unfilled. Many of the flaws that plagued the 2009 election recurred in the parliamentary elections held September 18, 2010. The alleged fraud is purportedly being addressed more openly and transparently by Afghan election bodies, but Karzai and his allies appear to be trying to use their institutional powers to alter the results in their favor, provoking a degree of political crisis.

Electoral competition aside, there is growing ethnic and political fragmentation over the terms of a potential settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan. Some leaders of minority communities boycotted a June 2-4, 2010, “consultative peace jirga (assembly)” in Kabul that endorsed Karzai’s plan to reintegrate into society insurgents willing to end their fight against the government. However, Karzai has named a senior Tajik leader as chair of the 68-member High Peace Council that is to approve any settlement, if one is reached. Women, who have made substantial gains (including appointment to cabinet posts and governorships and election to parliament) fear their rights may be eroded under any “deal” that might erode legal protections for women. For more information, see CRS Report RL30588, Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy, by Kenneth Katzman; CRS Report R40747, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan: Background and Policy Issues, by Rhoda Margesson; and CRS Report R41484, Afghanistan: U.S. Rule of Law and Justice Sector Assistance, by Liana Sun Wyler and Kenneth Katzman 
.


Date of Report: December 17, 2010
Number of Pages: 32-
Order Number: RS21922
Price: $29.95

Follow us on TWITTER at
http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

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.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Afghanistan Casualties: Military Forces and Civilians

Susan G. Chesser
Information Research Specialist

This report collects statistics from a variety of sources on casualties sustained during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), which began on October 7, 2001, and is ongoing. OEF actions take place primarily in Afghanistan; however, OEF casualties also includes American casualties in Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Guantanamo Bay (Cuba), Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines, Seychelles, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Yemen.

Casualty data of U.S. military forces are compiled by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), as tallied from the agency’s press releases. Also included are statistics on those wounded but not killed. Statistics may be revised as circumstances are investigated and as records are processed through the U.S. military’s casualty system. More frequent updates are available at DOD’s website at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/ under “Casualty Update.”

A detailed casualty summary of U.S. military forces that includes data on deaths by cause, as well as statistics on soldiers wounded in action, is available at the following DOD website: http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil/personnel/CASUALTY/castop.htm.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) does not post casualty statistics of the military forces of partner countries on the ISAF website at http://www.isaf.nato.int/. ISAF press releases state that it is ISAF policy to defer to the relevant national authorities to provide notice of any fatality. For this reason, this report uses fatality data of coalition forces as compiled by CNN.com and posted online at http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2004/oef.casualties/index.html.

The United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) reports casualty data of Afghan civilians semiannually, and the U.S. Department of Defense occasionally includes civilian casualty figures within its reports on Afghanistan. From July 2009 through April 2010, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) included statistics of casualties of members of the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police in its quarterly reports to Congress. SIGAR has ceased this practice, and there is no other published compilation of these statistics. This report now derives casualty figures of Afghan soldiers and police from the press accounts of the Reuters “Factbox: Security Developments in Afghanistan” series and the Pajhwok Afghan News agency. Both services attribute their reported information to officials of the NATO-led ISAF or local Afghan officials. Pajhwok Afghan News frequently concludes its accounts with statements from representatives of the Taliban, however, these figures are not included in this report.

Because the estimates of Afghan casualties contained in this report are based on varying time periods and have been created using different methodologies, readers should exercise caution when using them and should look to them as guideposts rather than as statements of fact.



Date of Report: December 8, 2010
Number of Pages: 6
Order Number: R41084
Price: $19.95

Follow us on TWITTER at
http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

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, December 15, 2010

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


Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

The UAE’s relatively open borders, economy, and society have won praise from advocates of expanded freedoms in the Middle East while producing financial excesses, social ills such as prostitution and human trafficking, and relatively lax controls on sensitive technologies acquired from the West. These concerns—as well as concerns about the UAE oversight and management of a complex and technically advanced initiative such as a nuclear power program—underscored dissatisfaction among some members of Congress with a U.S.-UAE civilian nuclear cooperation agreement. The agreement was signed on May 21, 2009, and submitted to Congress that day. It entered into force on December 17, 2009. However, U.S. concerns about potential leakage of U.S. and other advanced technologies through the UAE to Iran, in particular, are far from alleviated.

Despite its social tolerance and economic freedom, the UAE government is authoritarian, although with substantial informal citizen participation and consensus-building. Assessments by a wide range of observers say that members of the elite (the ruling families of the seven emirates and clans allied with them) routinely obtain favored treatment in court cases, obtain access to lucrative business opportunities, and exert preponderant influence on national decisions. The UAE federation president, Shaykh Khalifa bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan, technically serves a five-year term, renewable by the Federal Supreme Council (composed of the seven heads of the individual emirates), although in practice leadership changes have generally taken place only after the death of a leader. After several years of resisting electoral processes similar to those instituted by other Gulf states, and despite an absence of popular pressure for elections, the UAE undertook its first electoral process in December 2006. The process was criticized as far from instituting Westernstyle democratic processes, because the electorate was limited and selected by the government, and it voted for only half of the membership of a body with limited powers. The other half of the body continues to be appointed.

Partly because of substantial UAE federal government financial intervention and ample financial reserves, the political and social climate remained calm through the 2008-2009 global financial crisis and recession. The downturn hit Dubai emirate particularly hard and called into question its strategy of rapid, investment-fueled development, especially of luxury projects. Many expatriate workers left UAE after widespread layoffs, particularly in the financial and real estate sectors, and the decline affected property investors and the economies of several neighboring countries, including Afghanistan.

For details and analysis of the U.S.-UAE nuclear agreement and legislation concerning that agreement, see CRS Report R40344, The United Arab Emirates Nuclear Program and Proposed U.S. Nuclear Cooperation, by Christopher M. Blanchard and Paul K. Kerr.



Date of Report: December 7, 2010
Number of Pages: 17
Order Number: RS21852
Price: $29.95

Follow us on TWITTER at
http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

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, December 12, 2010

Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses


Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

The Obama Administration views Iran as a major 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. Particularly in its first year, the Obama Administration altered the previous U.S. approach 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 repeatedly insisted that it did not seek to change Iran’s regime. It held to this position even at the height of the protests by the domestic opposition “Green movement” that emerged following Iran’s June 12, 2009, presidential election.

Iran’s refusal to accept the details of an October 1, 2009, tentative agreement on nuclear issues caused the Administration to shift toward building multilateral support for additional economic sanctions against Iran. The Administration efforts bore fruit throughout the summer of 2010 with the adoption of new sanctions by the U.N. Security Council (Resolution 1929), as well as related “national measures” by the European Union, Japan, South Korea, and other countries. Additional measures designed to compel foreign firms to exit the Iranian market were contained in U.S. legislation passed in June 2010 (the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act, P.L. 111-195). Still, the Administration and its partners assert that these sanctions are intended to pave the way for successful diplomacy with Iran to limit its nuclear program. Iran has tentatively accepted December 5, 2010, and Geneva, as a date and venue for continued talks on its nuclear program as well as regional security issues that Iran demands to discuss.

There is broad agreement that the U.S., U.N., and other sanctions enacted since mid-2010 are pressing Iran economically. However, because the sanctions have not and might not cause Iran to fundamentally alter its commitment to its nuclear program, some are pressing the Administration not to de-emphasize military action as a means of setting Iran’s nuclear program back. The Administration has stepped up arms sales and engagement with regional states that might be helpful to contain Iranian power, were Iran’s nuclear program to advance dramatically. Some believe that only a victory by the domestic opposition in Iran, which in late 2009 appeared to pose a potentially serious challenge to the regime’s grip on power, can permanently reduce the multiplicity of threats posed by Iran’s regime. Congressional resolutions and legislation since mid-2009 show growing congressional support for steps to enhance the opposition’s prospects, but Obama Administration officials say that believe that the opposition’s prospects are enhanced by a low U.S. public profile on any unrest. For further information, see CRS Report RS20871, Iran Sanctions; CRS Report R40849, Iran: Regional Perspectives and U.S. Policy; and CRS Report RL34544, Iran’s Nuclear Program: Status.



Date of Report: November 29, 2010
Number of Pages: 70
Order Number: RL32048
Price: $29.95

Follow us on TWITTER at
http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

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.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Hamas: Background and Issues for Congress


Jim Zanotti
Analyst in Middle Eastern Affairs

This report and its appendixes provide background information on Hamas, or the Islamic Resistance Movement, and U.S. policy towards it. It also includes information and analysis on (1) the threats Hamas currently poses to U.S. interests, (2) how Hamas compares with other Middle East terrorist groups, (3) Hamas’s ideology and policies (both generally and on discrete issues), (4) its leadership and organization, and (5) its sources of assistance. Finally, the report raises and discusses various legislative and oversight options related to foreign aid strategies, financial sanctions, and regional and international political approaches. In evaluating these options, Congress can assess how Hamas has emerged and adapted over time, and also scrutinize the track record of U.S., Israeli, and international policy to counter Hamas.

Hamas is a Palestinian Islamist military and sociopolitical movement that grew out of the Muslim Brotherhood. The United States, Israel, the European Union, and Canada consider Hamas a terrorist organization because of (1) its violent resistance to what it deems Israeli occupation of historic Palestine (constituting present-day Israel, West Bank, and Gaza Strip), and (2) its rejection of the off-and-on peace process involving Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) since the early 1990s. Since Hamas’s inception in 1987, it has maintained its primary base of political support and its military command in the Gaza Strip—a territory it has controlled since June 2007—while also having a significant presence in the West Bank. The movement’s political leadership is currently headquartered in exile in Damascus, Syria. Hamas receives assistance and training from Iran, Syria, and the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah. Hamas is often discussed alongside other groups in the region that engage in militant and terrorist activities to achieve their ends, yet Hamas has confined its militancy to Israel and the Palestinian territories—distinguishing it from the broader aspirations expressed by Al Qaeda and its affiliates.

The overarching U.S. goal regarding Hamas is to deter, transform, marginalize, or neutralize it so that it no longer presents a threat to Israel’s security, to a peaceful and lasting resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or to other U.S. interests—either in its own right or as a proxy of Iran or other actors. Various legislative and policy initiatives designed to accomplish this goal have at most achieved temporary or partial success. It is possible to conclude that U.S. and other international support for Israel and the Palestinian Authority/PLO dominated by Fatah (Hamas’s main rival faction) has been counterproductive to some extent when comparing Hamas’s domestic, regional, and international strength in the early 1990s—measured by factors such as popularity, military force, and leverage with other actors (including Israel and Fatah)—to its current strength. The Israeli-Egyptian closure regime in Gaza and various U.S. and international initiatives constrain and isolate Hamas to a point and may exacerbate its internal organizational tensions and tactical disagreements. Yet, the threats Hamas continues to pose to Israel, to prospects for a two-state solution and to the future of Palestinian democracy presents considerable risks and difficult trade-offs for any U.S. policy decisions going forward.

The following CRS reports contain additional information on Hamas: CRS Report RL34074, The Palestinians: Background and U.S. Relations, by Jim Zanotti; CRS Report R40101, Israel and Hamas: Conflict in Gaza (2008-2009) , coordinated by Jim Zanotti; CRS Report R40092, Israel and the Palestinians: Prospects for a Two-State Solution, by Jim Zanotti; CRS Report R40664, U.S. Security Assistance to the Palestinian Authority, by Jim Zanotti; and CRS Report RS22967, U.S. Foreign Aid to the Palestinians, by Jim Zanotti.


Date of Report: December 2, 2010
Number of Pages: 67
Order Number: R41514
Price: $29.95

Follow us on TWITTER at
http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

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.