This report discusses the political future of various countries in the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region. A change in the leadership in these countries could significantly affect their policies toward the United States and their willingness to cooperate with the United States in achieving the stability needed to advance U.S. interests in this important region.
Women have become an integral part of the armed forces, but they are excluded from most combat jobs. Several issues remain. One is whether to reduce, maintain, or expand the number of women in the services as the total forces are being reduced. A second question is to what extent women should continue to be excluded from some combat positions by policy. Would national security be jeopardized or enhanced by increasing reliance on women in the armed forces? Should women have equal opportunities and responsibilities in national defense? Or do role and physical differences between the sexes, the protection of future generations, and other social norms require limiting the assignments of women in the armed forces? Opinion in the United States is deeply divided on the fundamental issues involved.
Deficient productive capacity has not yet caused an oil crisis, but that does not mean it never will. Significant increases in world oil demand will have to be met primarily from Persian Gulf supplies. This is a region with a history of wars, illegal occupations, soups, revolutions, sabotage, terrorism, and oil embargoes. To these possibilities may be added growing Islamist movements with various antipathies to the West. If oil production were constrained, oil prices could rise abruptly along with adverse world economic repercussions. If the IEA and EIA are correct on the demand side, deficient world oil productive capacity could cause an oil crisis within 15 years and political disruptions in Saudi Arabia could cause one sooner. However, if the increases in world oil demand were more moderate, and there is long-term relative peace in the Middle East, with increasing foreign participation in upstream oil activities, a business as usual world oil demand and supply situation would be a likely scenario for much of the next century.
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