Unrest in the Middle East and North Africa: Ramifications for U.S. Homeland Security

Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence

SOURCE: Center for American Progress

CAP Action Senior Fellow Brian Katulis testifies before the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. Read the testimony (CAP Action).

More than three months into the Middle East uprisings, the United States faces dangerous threats on a daily basis from that region of the world. Fast-moving events in the Middle East risk pulling our country deeper into the tactical, reactive, and crisis management mode that has frequently characterized U.S. foreign policymaking in the Middle East for decades.

That is why it is important to take opportunities like today’s hearing to step back from the daily events and assess the security implications of the recent changes in the Middle East.

At the start of this year, the Middle East entered a transition period that will likely take years to unfold. There may not be full clarity about the full implications of the changes underway until the latter part of this decade. The changes underway represent the fourth major strategic shock to the Middle East experienced at a regional level since 1979—the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, the 1991 Gulf War, and the 2001 start of the global war on terrorism. Each had their own ripple effects on the region. But the current uprisings and battles underway could do more to change the daily lives of people in the region for the better than those previous events.

A major regional transformation appears inevitable given the overwhelming economic, political, and social problems many countries in the region face. The United States has a choice: attempt to preserve an unsustainable status quo that started crumbling years ago, or use its considerable powers to shape outcomes in ways that make Americans safer while increasing security and prosperity for the people of the Middle East.

CAP Action Senior Fellow Brian Katulis testifies before the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. Read the testimony (CAP Action).