Regional Relations

Vol. 7 No. 1 | Summer 2020

Crime in the Northern Triangle

Mark L. Schneider

        Violence and crime in the Northern Triangle Countries (NTC) of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras continue to endanger citizen security in those countries, as well as in Mexico and in the United States. The extent, conditions, and policy responses are important in and of themselves, but also because this violence constitutes one of the significant factors driving migration toward the United States.[1]...


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[1] Central American Migration: Root Causes and U.S. Policy, Congressional Research Service, IF11151 · VERSION 2, July 13, 2019. row/IF11151.pdf.

Mark L. Schneider

Mark L. Schneider is a Senior Advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a former assistant administration for Latin America at USAID, former U.S. Peace Corps director and former deputy assistant secretary of State for Human Rights.


The Levant Express: The Arab Uprisings, Human Rights and the Future of the Middle East

A Conversation with Dr. Micheline Ishay

Interviewed by Grady Jacobsen

Fletcher Security Review: Good afternoon, Professor Ishay. Thank you for coming to the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies here at the Fletcher School and for agreeing to speak with us at The Fletcher Security Review. I had a chance to read the introduction to your book, The Levant Express, before your talk today, and I can't wait to go back and finish it. I'd like to ask you a few questions about the future of the Middle East, how renewed civil unrest could affect the security situation, and unpack the human rights situation in the region.

So, let's get started. Do you believe we are experiencing a new phenomenon in these renewed protests, or do you believe the Arab Spring is still ongoing and has just been dormant since 2013?

Micheline Ishay (MI): My recent book The Levant Express: The Arab Uprisings, Human Rights and the Future of the Middle East, anticipated that another wave of protests would follow the failures of the Arab Spring. The original uprisings occurred in the context of U.S. retrenchment from the region, intensifying regional proxy wars, failed political reforms, lingering economic crises with high youth unemployment, and the heightened capacity for mass mobilization using new digital tools to spread human rights ideals. These factors are still in place, and the problems that led to the uprisings have only worsened. Therefore, it is no surprise to see renewed protests in the streets of Algeria, Sudan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran. They represent a second wave of the Arab Spring — a renewed stand against even deeper regional authoritarianism...

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Dr. Micheline Ishay


Dr. Micheline Ishay received a Ph.D. in Political Science and International Studies from Rutgers University where she was a fellow at the Center for Critical Culture and Contemporary Analysis. She was later an Assistant Professor at both Hobart and William Smith College, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Democracy Collaborative at University of Maryland, the Lady Davis Visiting Professor at Hebrew University (2006), a Visiting Professor at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi (2010-2013), and a Resident Fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center in Italy, (Fall 2015).

As a female American scholar in human rights, Ishay offered a unique perspective during her work in the Gulf region (2010-2013) where she taught one of the first human rights courses in the Arab world at Khalifa University. During that time, she also met regularly with diplomats, world leaders, scholars and journalists to provide insight on this historical period of change in the Middle East.


Fletcher Security Review (FSR): Thank you very much for speaking with us today, Dr. Schmitt. As we know, the liberal world order and the national security of the United States and its allies are increasingly under threat from so-called “revisionist states.” Can you start by explaining what this means?

Gary Schmitt (GS): Sure. One of the issues that’s arisen, particularly since 2014, is the rise of China and the sort of rise in great power competition moving from the unipolar moment. I don’t think that captures exactly what's going on. It’s certainly true that China's power has increased and Russian power, arguably, increased. What matters as much as the power difference, however, is the character of the rising power and that power’s strategic ambitions.

So “revision” essentially captures the fact that these states aren’t liberal and have an interest in modifying or undermining the more liberal global order via security measures, economic measures, etc. But there’s always a tension with the character of the regime, in this case, China, but also with an authoritarian Russia. Authoritarian Iran is also there. Iran has expanded its sights on trying to integrate and use Shia populations throughout the Persian Gulf region to set itself up as the regional hegemon. So, overturning not so much a liberal order, because it’s really not on the border. You know, Iraq is a functioning democracy, even though it has its problems, but in this particular case, it’s really about Iran's attempt to create a Shia order as opposed to a Persian Gulf order, in which the United States tries to provide stability for both Sunni and Shia...

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Dr. Gary Schmitt

Gary J. Schmitt is a resident scholar in strategic studies and American institutions at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he studies national security and longer-term strategic issues affecting America’s security at home and abroad. Dr. Schmitt also writes on issues pertaining to American political institutions, the Constitution, and civic life.

A former minority staff director of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Dr. Schmitt was executive director of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board (then known as the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board). Before joining AEI, he was executive director of the Project for the New American Century.