Current Regional Issues

  1. Current Bilateral Issues
  2. Current Regional Issues

The U.S. Department of State is deeply committed to peace, prosperity, and security throughout the Middle East and North Africa region. Below you can find information on a number of regional issues Important to the United States in the Middle East, including the fight against the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant (ISIL), International Religious Freedom, the respect for Human Rights, and others.

John R. Allen is the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL.

The Deputy Special Presidential Envoy is Brett McGurk.

The ISIL Threat: A Global Challenge

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has dramatically undermined stability in Iraq, Syria and the broader Middle East and poses a threat to international peace and security. ISIL continues to commit gross, systematic abuses of human rights and violations of international law, including indiscriminate killing and deliberate targeting of civilians, mass executions and extrajudicial killings, persecution of individuals and entire communities on the basis of their identity, kidnapping of civilians, forced displacement of Shia communities and minority groups, killing and maiming of children, rape and other forms of sexual violence, along with numerous other atrocities. ISIL presents a global terrorist threat which has recruited thousands of foreign fighters to Iraq and Syria from across the globe and leveraged technology to spread its violent extremist ideology and to incite terrorist acts. As noted in UN Security Council Resolution 2170, “terrorism can only be defeated by a sustained and comprehensive approach involving the active participation and collaboration of all States… which is why our first priority is to encourage others to join in this important endeavor.”

The Global Coalition to Degrade and Defeat ISIL

Over 60 coalition partners have committed themselves to the goals of eliminating the threat posed by ISIL and have already contributed in various capacities to the effort to combat ISIL in Iraq, the region and beyond.

The breadth and diversity of partners supporting the coalition demonstrate the global and unified nature of this endeavor. Below are some (this list is not exhaustive) of the partners that have joined this effort to date, and we expect the number to grow.

  • Albania
  • Arab League
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Bahrain
  • Belgium
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Egypt
  • Estonia
  • European Union
  • Finland
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Iraq
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Kosovo
  • Kuwait
  • Latvia
  • Lebanon
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Macedonia
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro
  • Morocco
  • The Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Qatar
  • Republic of Korea
  • Romania
  • Arabia
  • Serbia
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Somalia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Taiwan
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

The Five Lines of Effort

Secretary Kerry and Secretary Hagel set forth five mutually reinforcing lines of effort to degrade and defeat ISIL at an early September meeting with NATO counterparts.

These lines of effort include:

  • Providing military support to our partners;
  • Impeding the flow of foreign fighters;
  • Stopping ISIL’s financing and funding;
  • Addressing humanitarian crises in the region; and
  • Exposing ISIL’s true nature.

As Secretary Kerry has said, “there is a role for every country to play” in degrading and defeating ISIL. Some partners are contributing to the military effort, by providing arms, equipment, training, or advice. These partners include countries in Europe and in the Middle East region that are contributing to the air campaign against ISIL targets. International contributions, however, are not solely or even primarily military contributions. The effort to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL will require reinforcing multiple lines of effort, including preventing the flow of funds and fighters to ISIL, and exposing its true nature.

Humanitarian assistance to those affected by the conflict is equally important to meeting urgent needs and maintaining regional stability, and contributions to humanitarian assistance, including a critical contribution of $500 million by Saudi Arabia to the humanitarian response in Iraq, have been essential. With the needs of vulnerable civilians continuing to grow, additional contributions from the international community are necessary in order to address the greatest needs—including shelter, food and water, medicine and education.

The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices are submitted annually by the U.S. Department of State to the U.S. Congress in compliance with sections 116(d) and 502B(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA), as amended, and section 504 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended. The law provides that the Secretary of State shall transmit to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, “a full and complete report regarding the status of internationally recognized human rights, within the meaning of subsection (A) in countries that receive assistance under this part, and (B) in all other foreign countries which are members of the United Nations and which are not otherwise the subject of a human rights report under this Act.”

2014: Full Report | Oman Country Narrative | Arabic Translation of the Executive Summary (PDF 200 KB)

2013: Full Report | Oman Country Narrative | Arabic Translation Oman Country Narrative (N/A)

2012: Full Report | Oman Country Narrative | Arabic Translation Oman Country Narrative (N/A)

2011: Full Report | Oman Country Report | Arabic Translation Oman Country Report (PDF 1.5 MB)

2010: Full Report | Oman Country Report | Arabic Translation Oman Country Report (PDF 1.5 MB)

2009: Full Report | Oman Country Report | Arabic Translation Oman Country Report (PDF 1.5 MB)

2008: Full Report | Oman Country Report | Arabic Translation Oman Country Report (PDF 1.18MB)

The International Religious Freedom report is submitted to Congress annually by the Department of State in compliance with Section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. This report supplements the most recent Human Rights Reports by providing additional detailed information with respect to matters involving international religious freedom. It includes individual country chapters on the status of religious freedom worldwide.