The Arab uprisings — in which local youths accomplished through weeks of nonviolent action what al-Qaeda had failed to do through years of terrorism and bloodshed — have created significant opportunities to counter radical Islamist propaganda and leverage financial tools against violently repressive regimes. Yet, they have also strained the intelligence community’s resources, forcing agencies to shift personnel and re-prioritize their collection and analysis efforts.
Indeed, the implications of this ongoing phenomenon for counterterrorism and intelligence efforts are extensive and fundamental. The toppling of longstanding regimes will affect whether the United States can continue partnering effectively with key governments to combat terrorism and counter violent extremism. In fact, the regional shifts have already had an impact on how U.S. authorities go about collecting and analyzing intelligence.
The Washington Institute’s new compendium, “Finding the Balance: U.S. Security Interests and the Arab Awakening,” delves into these issues in depth with essays by myself and senior officials from the FBI, DIA, Treasury Department, State Department, and more.