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Council on Foreign Relations Religion and Foreign Policy Bulletin
August 2012

Spotlight on Knox Thames

Knox Thames is director of policy and research at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), the independent, bipartisan, federal body that monitors religious freedom conditions abroad and recommends policies to enhance freedom where it is imperiled. Mr. Thames is the author of numerous articles on a range of human rights issues. His recent work includes a paper for the European University Institute, "Making Religious Freedom of Religion or Belief A True EU Priority," and a post on, "Why Aren't We Encouraging More Religious Tolerance in Afghanistan?"

August 2012

Renewed Violence in Iraq

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(Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)


In this CFR Contingency Planning Memorandum, Douglas Ollivant, senior national security fellow at the New America Foundation, warns that an unstable Iraq jeopardizes the stability of the entire region, not to mention global oil supply. For the United States, "Iraq is a frontline state in the conflict between moderate Islam and al-Qaeda," and our fight against terrorism requires a democratic Iraq. For him, the major fault lines in Iraq are between Sunni-Shia, Arab-Kurd, and intra-Shia factions.

To learn more, read "Renewed Violence in Iraq."

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The Rise of Settler Terrorism

Israeli authorities in the West Bank have long worried about stopping radical Palestinian attacks. Now, they need to add a new item to the agenda: stopping radical Jewish settlers from attacking Palestinians and Israeli soldiers alike. Daniel Byman, professor at Georgetown University and director of research at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center, and Natan Sachs, fellow at the Saban Center, agree that it is up to Jerusalem to stop the violence, and Washington should help. Read more from Foreign Affairs »

Zealotry in Sri Lanka

Militant Buddhism was a driving force behind the 25-year war between Sri Lanka's majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils. William McGowan's Foreign Affairs Snapshot reveals that rebel monks continue to inflame religious tensions on the island, threatening to shake up the country's fragile peace. Read more »

Gender Equality and Development Outcomes

CFR Fellow for Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Terra Lawson-Remer reminds us "that societies with greater gender equality achieve higher levels of social and economic rights fulfillment for all members."

"Improving gender equity in itself may be a goal with clear, intrinsic value. However, a substantial body of research now suggests that gender equity and the achievement of other development goals, such as health, education, social and economic rights fulfillment, and even growth, are inseparable."

To learn more about the positive effects gender balance has on developing societies, visit CFR's Development Channel, an interactive forum that highlights promising innovations in global economic development.