Eurasia/Central Asia

  • Is the Raw Coal Ban a Silver Bullet to Solving Air Pollution in Mongolia?: A Study of the Mongolian Government’s Air Pollution Reduction Policies and Recommendations in the Context of COVID-19

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021
    by Soomin Jun
    Since 2005, Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia, has become infamous for being one of the most polluted cities in the world. In response to growing public concerns over air pollution, on May 15, 2019, the Government of Mongolia (GoM) implemented a ban on raw coal – a type of fuel that poor citizens in the city use to survive harsh winters in the world’s coldest capital – and introduced “refined coal briquettes” at a subsidized price close to the price of raw coal. Since the COVID-19 outbreak and the country-wide economic shutdown, lower-income families are struggling to afford food, let alone refined coal briquettes; as a result, they are resorting to burning cheap, dirty fuel, including trash to keep themselves warm. Despite GoM’s efforts to reduce air pollution, in October 2020, Ulaanbaatar’s air quality, again, ranked the worst in the world, ahead of Lahore, Pakistan; Delhi, India; Chengdu, China, and other cities infamous for hazardous levels of air quality. While reducing raw coal consumption is critical to improving air quality, the raw coal ban is not a panacea to solving Mongolia’s air pollution. Poverty is the true culprit behind Ulaanbaatar’s subpar air quality. If Mongolia is to sustainably reduce air pollution, the raw coal ban must be accompanied by social and economic policies that aim to lift people out of poverty.
  • Reforming U.S. Export Controls to Reflect the Threat Landscape

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021
    by Zach Weinberg
    Certain features of U.S. export controls fail to reflect the immediate threat from East Asia and the emerging threat from Europe as it relates to the theft of American defense and dual-use technologies. While both the Obama and Trump administrations made a concerted effort to better regulate the commercial sale and shipment of technologies deemed sensitive for reasons of national security, one critical component of the export controls regime—the U.S. Department of Commerce (USDOC) country-specific export control licensing requirements—has yet to be revised to account for European and East Asian industrial espionage. Imposing the most export licensing requirements on average to countries in Europe and East Asia would accurately account for the persistent attempts to illicitly acquire U.S. defense technologies. Instead, countries in the Near East and South and Central Asia are, on average, assigned the most reasons for control listed on the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Commerce Country Chart (CCC)—likely a carry-on objective from the U.S. Global War on Terror (GWOT) when military operations were heavily focused on these regions. Furthermore, BIS imposes a blanket set of export controls on countries throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, failing to recognize the varying risk profiles posed by different African states. These misallocated export controls demonstrate how specific trade barriers fail to move beyond an outdated GWOT mentality and result in over-regulating the Near East, South and Central Asia, and Africa. The following paper proposes the need for a thorough review of the CCC to ensure that it accurately reflects a country’s current risk profile and takes into consideration the consistent industrial espionage threat from East Asia and the emerging threat from Europe. As a result of this type of export control reform, there would be a relaxation of licensing requirements levied on regions that show little interest in illicitly procuring American defense technologies.
  • Lessons from Ukraine: Shifting International Surrogacy Policy to Protect Women and Children

    Friday, May 1, 2020
    by Emma Lamberton
    Ukrainian surrogacy companies now hold over a quarter of the global surrogacy market since a series of human rights violations caused India, Thailand, and Nepal to close their borders. Similar violations are occurring in Ukraine, including the abandonment and trafficking of children and the abuse of surrogates. The Ukrainian government is not taking action, despite concerns expressed by both lawmakers and surrogates that the industry engages in unethical practices. This paper proposes that the Hague Conference’s Experts’ Group on the Parentage/Surrogacy Project spearhead international ratification of a holistic series of policies focused on protecting women and children from exploitation.
  • Echoes of Abstention: Russian Policy in Libya and Implications for Regional Stability

    Tuesday, May 21, 2019
    Russia’s abstention from UNSCR 1973, which allowed a no-fly zone in Libya and ultimately led to the collapse of the Qadhafi regime, has resounded across both Russian foreign policy and the security environment of the Near East. Competing theories claim the abstention was either a carefully-planned strategy or a tactical miscalculation, but the result—Russian rejection of regime decapitation and Western distaste for further intervention—is easily observed. In addition to tangible military and political benefits, the chaotic and unsustainable Libyan status quo bolsters Russia’s political capital by discrediting that of the West. Although Russia is unlikely to intervene kinetically in Libya, it can passively destabilize the country at almost no cost, stymying Western efforts to end the crisis. Only by recognizing and accommodating Russia’s interests in Libya can the West negotiate a lasting settlement for Libya and secure vital U.S. interests in the region.  
  • What Should Washington Do When the Belt and Road Comes to Russia?

    Monday, May 20, 2019
    Increasing military and economic cooperation between Russia and China has led some to believe that America's two primary adversaries are joining together in an anti-U.S. alliance. However, this emerging relationship amounts to little more than a convenient alignment rather than a steadfast alliance. This analysis delves into emerging Sino-Russian competition and cooperation in Central Asia and the Arctic to illustrate diverging strategic interests and also provides recommendations for U.S. policymakers to capitalize on divides between America's competitors.
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