The World’s Ten Most Fragile States in 2014

Published June 24, 2013 | By J. J. Messner & Kendall Lawrence

Identifying and exploring the fragility of states creates the opportunity to address how they might be able to combat pressures in the future. Learning what pressures states have been able (or unable) to reduce in the past year gives insight into the capacities that exist (or do not) within each state and their governments. The top ten are profiled to give context to why they fall on this end of the Index and how they have changed since the previous year. Only two countries within the top ten saw a worsening in their individual scores, South Sudan and Central African Republic. Seven showed improvement and one experienced little change.

The Haqqani Network

Published October 14, 2011 | By Kendall Lawrence

The Haqqani Network is an insurgent group that operates from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) region of Pakistan. The group has been active mainly in the southeast of Afghanistan—in Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Ghazni Wardak and, occasionally, Kabul provinces. For the past two years, the group has focused on gaining support and control of Kurram Agency, a province of Pakistan not far from Kabul, which is mostly beyond the scope of U.S. drone activity. It is led by Siraj Haqqani, the son of the network’s founder, the famous anti-Soviet fighter and former CIA asset, Jalaluddin Haqqani. The Network falls under the larger umbrella of the Taliban, although they maintain their own command and control structures.

Threat Convergence in South Asia

Published October 14, 2011 | By Ryan Costello

Revelations from the 2004 exposure of the A. Q. Khan network have highlighted the importance of this region in global nonproliferation efforts. While terrorism is by no means constrained to the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, the confluence of intent, knowledge and materials is found in this region. It remains uncertain if all nodes of the Khan network have been identified. Other leading Pakistani scientists have demonstrated a willingness to share nuclear knowledge if not material capabilities.

Nuclear Meltdowns

Published April 19, 2011 | By Ryan Costello

Concerns regarding the safety of nuclear energy, particularly after the meltdowns at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, have hindered its continued development over the past few decades. However, increasing energy demand and fears of climate change have led to a “nuclear renaissance” in which states have increasingly pursued nuclear power as a carbon-free energy source. Given the evolving nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the future of nuclear energy is once again in doubt because of concerns about safety and health risks. When discussing the potential hazards of nuclear power, it is useful to bear in mind the cost of burning fossil fuels, such as coal. The burning of coal is a primary contributor to global warming, and it emits numerous hazardous air pollutants that likely result in thousands of deaths annually. Furthermore, around the globe thousands of coal miners die each year in mine accidents. Thus, the death toll from fossil fuels is higher than that of nuclear power.

Counterterrorism and Nuclear Security in Pakistan

Published February 1, 2011 | By Ryan Costello

Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and materials represent a significant proliferation risk that could become a target for terrorist groups operating within the country and in neighboring countries, such as Afghanistan. Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and materials exist in the context of state instability and fragility, the legacy of the A.Q. Khan network, and alleged ties between the government and Islamist militants. The possibility that terrorists could obtain nuclear weapons or materials, either through an assault on nuclear facilities or with internal assistance, should not be underestimated.