The POMED Wire

Security Assistance Monitor Spotlight: “Return on Investment” for U.S. Military Aid

The Center for New American Security (CNAS) released a report titled, “Security Cooperation and Assistance: Re-thinking the Return on Investment.” Authors Dafna Rand and Stephen Tankel produce a detailed assessment of the efficacy and implications of the growing American security assistance apparatus, offering recommendations and improvements for future strategic military cooperation.

The CNAS report is pertinent as POMED contributes to the Security Assistance Monitor project, a database that promotes transparency for U.S. security assistance across the globe.

The report begins by acknowledging the importance of security assistance as a critical tool to help the United States achieve diplomatic and security objectives. It then identifies deficiencies within American security assistance efforts and categorized them as either Strategic or Structural deficiencies.

Strategic Deficiencies as identified:

  1. When security assistance is thought to be a “quick fix” to a complex security issue
  2. The difficulty in developing evaluative metrics to determine the effect of American security assistance
  3. The failure to address efficacy, as well as the potential overreliance on security assistance as a tool of statecraft
  4. When a security relationship becomes an end rather than a means to address long-term security concerns

Structural Deficiencies as identified:

  1. American and foreign authorities who have limited coordination and

Sens. Wyden and Rubio Introduce Bill to Hold Arms Sales to Bahrain

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Resolution S.2009, to prohibit the sale of arms and other equipment to Bahrain contingent on reforms, was introduced by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) this week. The bill (text available here) “would block the sale or transfer of certain arms to Bahrain until the State Department certifies that Bahrain has fully implemented all of the recommendations by an independent oversight commission [the BICI].” Following harsh suppression of pro-democracy protests in 2011, Bahrain formed the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) and vowed to implement all 26 of the commission’s recommended reforms. However, the vast majority of recommendations have not been implemented according to a State Department assessment.

The legislation comes after the June decision by the Obama administration to lift the hold on arms sales which had been in place since the 2011 crackdown. On lifting the hold, the State Department cited “meaningful progress on human rights reform and reconciliation.” However, after the U.S. announcement to resume sales, recently released opposition politician Ibrahim Sharif was re-arrested and human rights groups questioned the extent of the government’s reforms.

Regarding the bill, Wyden stated, “This legislation sends the clear message U.S. arms should not aid and …

Tension Increases in Bahrain

Tension has been escalating in Bahrain during recent weeks as the country faces attacks on police officers and threats of ISIS attacks on Shi’a mosques. An aspiring bomber was killed when his bomb detonated prematurely, a police officer was wounded in a second incident, and two police officers were killed in an attack in Sitra, which was claimed by a new Shi’a militant group Soraya Wa’ad Allah. This came as Bahraini authorities announced they have intercepted an illicit shipment of arms and explosives from Iran and bound for use in Bahrain. Authorities also accused Iran of having provided training to Shi’a Bahrainis in the use of such weapons.

Bahrain’s political opposition and Shi’a religious establishment condemned the use of violence, and insisted that peaceful efforts at reform continue. Opposition leaders from the al-Wefaq political society and Wa’ad have recently faced arrest and other harassment from the authorities.

After the Sitra bombing, arbitrary arrests and extensive house raids in Sitra were reported in what was characterized as “collective punishment.” Amnesty International urged Bahrain to refrain from torture and other abuses while investigating the bombing. Amnesty pointed out widespread accusations of torture and ill-treatment during the investigations of previous bombings. The group …

United States Assumes Presidency of Community of Democracies

On July 22nd, 2015, the United States assumed presidency of the 27-member Governing Council of the Community of Democracies (CD) for the 2015-2017 term. The CD is a “global, intergovernmental coalition of states” that works to strengthen democratic values and institutions across the world by empowering governments, civil society, and the private sector. Founded by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Prof. Bronislaw Geremek in 2000, the CD abides by the principles of the Warsaw Declaration, which details the norms and practices for the “effective establishment and consolidation of democracy.”

A press release states that the United States will work with the Secretary General during its two-year presidency to prioritize “critical governance issues, including supporting civil society, strengthening democratic institutions,” and “promoting good governance and protecting human rights.” In a video message to the CD at the biennial ministerial conference in El Salvador, President Barack Obama expressed gratitude for the “broad support” for the U.S. presidency, stating that the United States will hold the next Governing Council meeting in late September.  UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon also made a statement at the conference, noting that while democracy is on the rise, it faces many

Hearing: Nomination of Ambassador to the Republic of Tunisia

On July 30th, 2015, the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a hearing for the nomination of Daniel H. Rubinstein as Ambassador to the Republic of Tunisia. The hearing also included nominees for Ambassadors to the Central African Republic,the Republic of Gambia, the Republic of Benin, and the Togolese Republic. To watch a video of the hearing, click here. To view these notes as a PDF, click here.

Rubinstein began his statement by thanking President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry for his nomination, asserting that Tunisia is an important partner and major non-NATO ally to the United States. He noted that his years of experience as a foreign service officer and an extensive background in economic and counterterrorism efforts will be critically useful in his posting to Tunisia. Rubinstein voiced his “abiding respect and admiration for the country, its culture, and its people,” and pledged to work to advance U.S. national interests in Tunisia as well as help deepen the partnership between the two nations. In May, Essebsi and Obama affirmed the “enduring partnership” of the United States and Tunisia based on shared values, which Rubinstein said is an important reminder and counterpoint …

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