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  • Author: Luis Simón, Vivien Pertusot
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Elcano Royal Institute
  • Abstract: Europe’s southern neighbourhood is a diverse but interlinked geopolitical ensemble, whose specificities need to be carefully assessed before Europeans devise dedicated security strategies, divide responsibilities and make policy decisions. This exercise in geopolitical scoping seeks to make sense of the main security challenges present in Europe’s broader European neighbourhood, a space encompassing areas as diverse as the Gulf of Guinea, the Sahel, North Africa, the Levant and the Persian Gulf. It identifies (some of) the main sub-regions that make up the ‘South’, offers an overview of the threat environment in each of them and identifies relevant differences as well as common themes. In doing so we aim to provide a conceptual referent for further policy research on the security of Europe’s ‘South’, and to help inform future strategic and policy discussions within the EU, NATO and their Member States.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: William Chislett
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Elcano Royal Institute
  • Abstract: UN-brokered talks to finally reunify Cyprus after 43 years offered hope, but obstacles remained and any deal would have to be approved in referendums on both sides. Greek Cypriots rejected the settlement put forward by the United Nations in 2004. The reunification of Cyprus is one of the world’s longest running and intractable international problems. The latest talks in Geneva in January 2017 between Nicos Anastasiades, the Greek-Cypriot President, and Mustafa Akıncı, his Turkish-Cypriot counterpart, after 20 months of negotiations, made significant progress. The issues of territorial adjustments and security and guarantees are the most sensitive and core issues yet to be resolved and ones that will determine whether a solution can be reached and approved in referendums on both sides.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Greece, Cyprus
  • Author: Daniel Keohane
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Elcano Royal Institute
  • Abstract: It is vital that France, Germany and the UK cooperate constructively on military matters after the British leave the EU. Supporters of EU defence policy have seized on the Brexit decision of the British people as an opportunity to strengthen that policy. In the past the UK had blocked some proposals, which France, Germany and others now wish to implement. But a more energised EU defence on paper will not quickly transform into a stronger policy in practice. More important for the security of Europeans is that France, Germany and the UK ensure that they cooperate constructively on military matters after the British leave the EU.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: European Union
  • Author: Karim Mezran
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: As the Trump administration assumes office, it faces a major challenge in Libya, where the country’s situation continues to deteriorate as an ongoing conflict worsens. The Libya Peace Agreement produced in 2015 by a UN-backed process, which established a Presidential Council and Government of National Accord (PC/GNA), is floundering. The PC/GNA has failed to garner credibility on the ground since landing in Tripoli almost a year ago and it has suffered from significant infighting.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Cooperation, International Affairs, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: America, Libya
  • Author: Giuseppe Dentice
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: The Egyptian military response through heavy air strikes on the cities of Darnah and Sirte – as a consequence of the kidnapping and beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts by a Libyan cell affiliated to the Islamic State (IS) in February 2015 – represents so far the peak of Egypt’s involvement in the Libyan affaire.
  • Topic: International Security, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Libya, Egypt
  • Author: Virginie Collombier
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: More than one year after the signing of the Libyan Political Accord (LPA) in Skhirat, implementation of the agreement is impeded by obstacles which now look insurmountable. Despite efforts by Western countries and the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to empower the Presidential Council (PC) of the Government of National Accord (GNA), major constituencies have continued contesting its legitimacy and refusing its authority.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Libya, Global Focus
  • Author: Arturo Varvelli
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: During 2016 and in the first few weeks of 2017, it has become clear that General Khalifa Haftar is gaining support both locally and internationally. Egypt, the Emirates, Russia, and France, all played a role in strengthening his power.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Cooperation, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Libya, Global Focus
  • Author: Wolfgang Pusztai
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: After the 1969 revolution, Libya’s previously close links to the United States quickly deteriorated. At the same time Muammar al-Gaddafi sought closer links to the Soviet Union. The clear majority of the equipment of the “Armed Forces of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya” originated from the Soviets or the Eastern Bloc. Many of the officers of all services were educated at military training facilities of the Soviet Armed Forces. After the break-up of the Soviet Union, Russia remained as one of Libya’s key allies.
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Russia, Libya
  • Author: Nancy Porsia
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: Fighting at Tripoli’s international airport was still under way when, in July 2014, the diplomatic missions of European countries, the United States and Canada were shut down. At that time Italy decided to maintain a pied-à-terre in place in order to preserve the precarious balance of its assets in the two-headed country, strengthening security at its local headquarters on Tripoli’s seafront. On the one hand there was no forsaking the Mellitah Oil & Gas compound, controlled by Eni and based west of Tripoli.
  • Topic: Migration, Political and institutional effectiveness
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Sami Zaptia
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: Six years on from its February 2011 revolution, Libya’s political scene is characterized by fragmentation and polarization. The constantly shifting political and military allegiances and contested legitimacy since 2014 have today resulted in three Libyan ‘‘governments’’ claiming legitimacy.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Libya
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: There is no doubt that the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign is an orchestrated strategy, delivering the same disinformation stories in as many languages as possible, through as many channels as possible, and as often as possible.
  • Topic: International Security, Political Theory, Post Truth Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Tim Oliver, Michael Williams
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: LSE IDEAS
  • Abstract: Even before Donald Trump won the US presidential election he left an indelible mark on US politics and on views of the US in Britain and around the world. his victory means those views will now have to be turned into policy towards a president many in Britain feel uneasy about. Current attitudes to Trump can be as contradictory and fast changing as the president-elect’s own political positions. They can be a mix of selective praise and horror. he has in the past been criticised by British political leaders from the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to the Mayor of london Sadiq khan. In early 2016 a petition of over half a million signatures led Parliament to debate (and reject) banning Trump from entering the Uk. Yet he has also drawn the support of politicians such as UKIP leader Nigel Farage, and polling showed support amongst the British public for his 2015 proposal to ban Muslims from entering the US. After the presidential election British ministers were quick to extend an olive branch. Johnson himself refused to attend a hastily convened EU meeting to discuss Trump’s election. Instead he called on the rest of the EU to end its collective ‘whinge-o-rama’.
  • Topic: International Relations, Political stability, Post Truth Politics, Populism
  • Political Geography: Britain, America
  • Author: Dmitry Streltsov
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: International analytical center “Rethinking Russia” presents a commentary of Dmitry Streltsov, doctor of history, head of the Department of Oriental studies of the MGIMO University, on the results of Vladimir Putin’s visit to Japan.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, Japan
  • Author: Robert Satloff, Sarah Feuer
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The countries of northwest Africa -- Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia -- have proven either more resilient or more adaptive than other Middle East states to the political upheavals that have engulfed the region over the last half-dozen years. To varying degrees, however, stability remains a major challenge for all these countries as they face transnational terrorism, spillover from the conflict in Libya, abrupt shifts in domestic political dynamics, potential flare-ups of regional conflicts, and unforeseen events that could ignite deep-seated resentment at a local mix of stagnant economies, endemic corruption, and profound disparities between wealth and poverty. In this Transition 2017 essay, Robert Satloff and Sarah Feuer warn against overlooking a corner of the Middle East that doesn't attract the same attention as areas facing more-acute conflict. Outlining America's key strategic interests in this region, they discuss specific ways the Trump administration can advance these interests in terms of both bilateral and regional relations.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs, International Development
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Northwest Africa
  • Author: David Makovsky, Dennis Ross
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Like many of his predecessors, President Trump has come to office pledging to solve the decades-long Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In this paper, two veteran U.S. peace negotiators point out the repeated failure of past efforts to reach "all-or-nothing" solutions to this conflict, urge the president not to seek a comprehensive settlement, and instead recommend an approach based on reaching an understanding with Israel on steps that could, preserve the potential for a two-state outcome in the future; blunt the delegitimization movement against Israel; and give the administration leverage to use with the Palestinians, other Arabs, and Europeans. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has faded in significance in the Middle East against the backdrop of the conflict in Syria, the rise of ISIS, and the regionwide clash of Sunni and Shiite powers. Both the likelihood for a return to the negotiating table and the prospects for a two-state solution are growing dim.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine
  • Author: James F. Jeffrey, Dennis Ross
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Given the unprecedented turmoil and uncertainty afflicting the Middle East, the new administration will need to devote particular care and urgency to understanding the essence of America's interests in the region, and applying clear principles in pursuing them. This is the advice offered by two U.S. diplomats with a distinguished record of defending those interests under various administrations. As Trump and his team take office, they face a regional state system that is under assault by proxy wars that reflect geopolitical rivalries and conflicts over basic identity. Rarely has it been more important for a new administration to articulate clear goals and principles, and Ambassadors James Jeffrey and Dennis Ross outline both in this transition paper. With 30 percent of the world's hydrocarbons still flowing from the Middle East, safeguarding that supply remains a critical U.S. national security interest, along with preventing nuclear proliferation, countering terrorism, and preserving stability. In their view, the best way to pursue these interests is to emphasize a coherent set of guiding principles, namely:
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: If President Trump decides to honor his commitment to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, he should move quickly to consult with Israel, assess and prepare responses for potential security challenges, and engage key regional and international partners in the context of a broader adjustment of U.S. policy, according to a new presidential transition paper by Washington Institute executive director Robert Satloff. "Past presidents -- both Democratic and Republican -- who made and then broke this promise were evidently convinced that the relocation of America's main diplomatic mission to Jerusalem would ignite such outrage and trigger such violence that the costs outweighed the benefits," he writes. "This analysis, however, takes ominous warnings by certain Middle East leaders at face value, builds on what is essentially a condescending view of Arabs and Muslims that assumes they will react mindlessly to incendiary calls to violence, and fails to acknowledge the potential impact of subtle, creative, and at times forceful American diplomacy."
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Author: Fuad Olajuwon
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council on International Policy (CIP)
  • Abstract: Japan is in a unique position. With the rise of Trump and the changing of the American political landscape, the world faces a new challenge. That challenge is uncertainty. If you’re from a realist background, that raises concern. The shifting of the global narrative is one to look out for, as countries across Europe and the Western world are shifting away from the “liberal world order” and more into an ideologist that puts the concerns of the host over that of the guest. With Brexit and “#AmericaFirst” rhetoric gaining momentum, what is the fate of East Asia? One thing is sure: this is a unique time as ever for Japan to stand on its own two feet.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Japan, America
  • Author: Debalina Ghoshal
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council on International Policy (CIP)
  • Abstract: InOctober2016,RussianPresidentVladmirPutin suspendedthePlutoniumDispositionManagementAgreement (PDMA) that mandated both the United States and Russia to eliminate a sufficient quantity of weapons grade plutonium. The suspension of the PDMA represents a step away toward achieving nuclear disarmament, a crucial component of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) under Article VI.
  • Topic: International Security, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Russia, Global Focus
  • Author: Debalina Ghoshal
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council on International Policy (CIP)
  • Abstract: For years, the Chinese have remained soft towards North Korea when it came to imposing sanctions on them for their nuclear and ballistic missile tests. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has prohibited Pyongyang from testing nuclear and ballistic missiles but yet Pyongyang has continued to do develop and conduct nuclear and ballistic missile tests. In February 2017, North Korea test fired a ballistic missile which was reported to be a modified version of their Musudan missile with range of 2500-4000km. At present, North Korea’s missile arsenal consists Scud-D, Nodong, Taepo Dong-1 and 2 and Musudan ballistic missiles. In addition, North Korea is also working on submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM).
  • Topic: Energy Policy, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: China, North Korea
  • Author: Olli Ruohomäki
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Finnish Institute for International Affairs
  • Abstract: Despite the complexity Afghanistan entails, it is possible to outline the main contours of the fragmented reality and geopolitical fault lines that inform the situation on the ground. It is with this in mind that this Briefing Paper examines the cur- rent state of affairs in Afghanistan with a focus on the highly contentious politics, precarious security situation and the role of the difficult neighbourhood. The paper concludes with reflections regarding the prospects for peace, which do not appear promising.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Taliban, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East
  • Author: Thomas Wright
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: The 2016 US presidential election is the most consequential election for international order since the Second World War. America’s status as a liberal superpower is on the ballot. To understand Donald Trump’s foreign policy, we must distinguish between his three core beliefs that he has held for many decades and rarely if ever waivered from, the central themes of his campaign, and other issues. His core beliefs are opposition to America’s alliance arrangements, opposition to free trade, and support for authoritarianism, particularly in Russia. If he is elected president and governs in a manner consistent with these beliefs, the United States will be transformed from the leader of a liberal international order into a rogue superpower that withdraws from its international commitments, undermines the open global economy, and partners with Putin’s Russia.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Elections, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: IN EARLY 2017, Iraqi security forces (ISF) are likely to liberate Mosul from Islamic State control. But given the dramatic comebacks staged by the Islamic State and its predecessors in the city in 2004, 2007, and 2014, one can justifiably ask what will stop IS or a similar movement from lying low, regenerating, and wiping away the costly gains of the current war. This paper aims to fill an important gap in the literature on Mosul, the capital of Ninawa province, by looking closely at the underexplored issue of security arrangements for the city after its liberation, in particular how security forces should be structured and controlled to prevent an IS recurrence. Though “big picture” political deals over Mosul’s future may ultimately be decisive, the first priority of the Iraqi-international coalition is to secure Mosul. As John Paul Vann, a U.S. military advisor in Vietnam, noted decades ago: “Security may be ten percent of the problem, or it may be ninety percent, but whichever it is, it’s the first ten percent or the first ninety percent. Without security, nothing else we do will last.”
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Defense Policy, International Security, Reconstruction, ISIS
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Pierre Vimont
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Painfully and hesitatingly, the EU has managed to stem its migration crisis, regaining control of its borders and ensuring a dramatic drop in the flow of migrants. Yet, the migration issue is not going away, and the political debate around it persists. Europeans need to work together in a field where in the past they have been eager to act on their own; and they must define an integrated policy based on a genuine sense of solidarity.
  • Topic: Migration
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The July 15 attempted coup, which exposed rifts within the Turkish military, coupled with the August 9 meeting between Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian president Vladimir Putin, and the Turkish incursion into Syria on August 24, appear to signal a change in trajectory for Turkey’s Syria policy. Since Erdogan’s ouster of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in May 2015, Turkey has already implemented some significant foreign policy shifts, including normalization with Israel and a desire to mend ties with Russia.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Civil War, Peace Studies, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Syria
  • Author: Robert Levy
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: It’s doubtful that new gun controls—imposed mostly on persons who are not part of the problem—will be ef- fective. Accordingly, they should expire automatically after a reasonable test period. If they work, they can be reenacted. The Second Amendment doesn’t bar sensi- bleregulations,butitdemandsrigorfromourlawmak- ers and the courts in legislating and reviewing gun control measures.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Mark W. Lippert
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: The relationship between the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) is often framed against the backdrop of our shared goals to deter and defend against the North Korean threat, something I saw first-hand in my previous positions at the White House and the Pentagon. Our shared commitment to a robust North Korea (DPRK) policy that aims, among other things, to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula through authentic and credible negotiations and ensure that the universal human rights of the people of North Korea are protected and promoted is a critical part of our relationship.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Peacekeeping, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: America, North Korea, Korea, Democratic People's Republic of
  • Author: W. Robert Pearson
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: Director General of the Foreign Service, 2003-2006 United States Ambassador to Turkey, 2000-2003 July 15, 2016 will live in the minds of Turks the way 9/11 is fixed in the minds of Americans. That evening a small group of mostly military officers attempted to forcibly overthrow the government and possibly assassinate Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Air Force planes bombed Turkey’s parliament while it was in session. A FaceTime call from President Erdogan mobilized thousands of citizens, who poured into the streets, directly confronting troops participating in the coup attempt, and within a short period of time, the coup collapsed. President Erdogan described the crushing of the coup as a “gift from God.”
  • Topic: Power Politics, Military Affairs, Popular Revolt
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Author: David O’Sullivan
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: This may sound like a gloomy time to ponder Europe’s future, particularly in print, but as a veteran of many ups and downs in the EU’s history, I believe it’s important to go beyond the headlines and take stock of what is being done to relaunch the European Union in a way that is both sustainable and better understood by everyday people. It is this gap between the perception and reality of what the European Union is and does that poses perhaps the biggest internal challenge to European integration.
  • Topic: Political stability, Europe Union, Brexit
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Daniel H. Rubinstein
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: Though I came to Tunisia as Ambassador in the Fall of 2015, my relationship with the country and its people actually began in the late 1990s. In some ways, the Tunisia I returned to in 2015 is the one I knew years before—the Arabic and French linguistic mélange, the stambeli and malouf music, the local soccer and handball rivalries, the pine nuts floating atop mint tea. Yet alongside those resilient traditions, the Tunisia I returned to is now in its fifth year of the post-Ben Ali era, and is a country in the midst of an exciting but difficult transition. That transition is replete with a challenging self-realization, as the country and its citizenry redefine themselves and learn what it means to be a democracy in the wake of the 2011 revolution. Tunisians are still deciding how they want to incorporate democratic principles into day-to-day life, and through their decisions are defining what it means to be Tunisian for future generations. As a longtime friend—our diplomatic relations with Tunisia date to 1795—and strategic partner, the United States will continue to support the new Tunisia as it looks to the future.
  • Topic: Democratization, Regime Change, Popular Revolt, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Tunisia
  • Author: Donald T. Bliss
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: As the United Nations welcomes a new Secretary-General, and the United States elects a new Administration and Congress, we have a unique opportunity to reset relationships, building on the United Nations’ successes and addressing its failings as we adapt to the changing demographics and global challenges of this century.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, United Nations, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Charles A. Ford
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: The United States is the world’s leading exporter, the world’s leading importer, and the world’s primary source and destination of funds for foreign investment. Our position as the best place in the world to do business—the most reliable in which to buy, the most lucrative in which to sell, and the safest and surest in which to invest or to raise capital—is the cause, not an effect of American global leadership. Protecting and expanding the US role as the world’s supplier and customer of choice for goods, services, ideas, capital, and entrepreneurial energy should be a foreign policy objective second only to securing the homeland.”
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, International Political Economy, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: America, Global Focus
  • Author: Jr. James D. Melville
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: In August, Estonia marked 25 years since the end of Soviet occupation and the restoration of its national institutions. Estonia’s rapid reintegration with the West as a sovereign, stable, and prosperous democracy is nothing short of remarkable, and it serves as an inspiration to other nations. Theirs is a journey made possible through disciplined leadership, solid regulatory frameworks, strategic decisions, and a steadfast commitment to being a contributing member of European, transatlantic, and international alliances. Our partnership is one of allies with synchronized goals and values, a rare combination that gives both countries leverage to do even more.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Estonia
  • Author: Rufus Gifford
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: Denmark is one of America’s closest partners. Near the pinnacle of global indices of wealth, well-being, and democracy, Denmark is uniquely positioned to work alongside the United States in support of our shared approaches to addressing 21st century global challenges. It is the only Nordic country that is a member of all three vital multinational organizations: NATO, EU, and Arctic Council. Denmark very much reinforces President Obama’s now-famous foreign policy quote in the April 2016 edition of The Atlantic: “If only everyone could be like the Scandinavians, this would all be easy.”
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Denmark
  • Author: Bruce A. Heyman
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: Canada is arguably our most important bilateral relationship. Our exceptional and unique ties are rooted in a common border that stretches for 5,525 miles, over 200 years of closely interwoven history and culture, our largest economic relationship worldwide, our similar values. We have amazingly intertwined supply chains; we work closely as NATO allies; and partner extensively to address global challenges. As President Obama put it during Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit to Washington in March 2016, “Of course, no two nations agree on everything...But in terms of our interests, our values, how we approach the world, few countries match up the way the United States and Canada do.”
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Canada
  • Author: John Berry
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: Over 200 years ago, one of our founding fathers Benjamin Franklin urged us to innovate, with the warning: “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” One of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, was not only a talented statesman, he was an inventor and tinkerer extraordinaire. Innovation lies at the very heart of what it means to be an American. From the beginning, our country was a grand experiment. We believed then—and now—that freedom plus hard work equals progress. Innovation, invention, and creativity help turn progress into success.
  • Topic: Development, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Global Focus
  • Author: William J. vanden Heuvel
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: On January 6, 1941, President Roosevelt came before the Congress and gave us a vision of the world that would be worthy of our civilization. He spoke—simply, eloquently—of a nation dedicated to the Four Freedom everywhere in the world
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Ryhor Nizhnikau
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Moldova’s presidential elections offer no hope for change in a country run by a destructive and shortsighted elite. Igor Dodon won the elections, but the main victor in 2016 is the oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc, who has monopolized power in Moldova.
  • Topic: Power Politics, Political Power Sharing, Elections, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Moldova, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Bart Gaens
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The evolving Asia-Pacific region is marked by increased balancing strategies, the forging of flexible partnerships between countries, and economic interconnectedness. In order to retain a central role and achieve a new equilibrium, the US will need to adapt to these changes.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Affairs, Geopolitics, Political stability
  • Political Geography: America, Asia-Pacific
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: As US President Barack Obama’s term in office is nearing its end, he may choose to present parameters for an Israeli-Palestinian final-status agreement before departing from the White House, similar to what President Bill Clinton did in 2000. The window of opportunity for this is between the US presidential elections (November 8, 2016) to the inauguration of the next president (January 20, 2017).
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Cooperation, International Affairs, Fragile States
  • Political Geography: America, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Dahlia Scheindlin
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Cyprus conflict has been a protracted, unresolved conflict for roughly five decades. The two conflicts share ethno-nationalist and territorial dimensions; tension between a sovereign state and a sub-state entity, and a hostile military presence; decades of failed negotiations, with both sides showing ambiguous commitment to the intended political framework for resolution (two states, or a federated state, respectively); and high involvement of the international community. This paper maps points of comparison related to conflict resolution efforts in both cases, including references to the civil society, public, political leadership, and negotiation processes.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Ido Zelkovitz
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The Fatah movement and the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Movement) leadership are experiencing a deep internal crisis. In 1969, Fatah leader Yassir Arafat took control of PLO institutions and imposed a political containment policy, combined with a heavy hand, against his opponents. Since then, the Palestinian national liberation movement has been characterized by a highly centralized authority structure. Mahmoud Abbas, an absolute ruler, inherited three ‘hats’ from his predecessor Arafat: In addition to serving as Chairman of the PLO’s Executive Committee and President of the Palestinian Authority, Abbas also serves as Chairman of the Fatah movement. Fatah is the ruling party in PLO institutions, and constitutes the political backbone of the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian justification for the establishment of such centralized rule was the complexity of the negotiations that were held with Israel in the 1990s.
  • Topic: Peace Studies, International Affairs, Fragile States, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Palestine
  • Author: Dahlia Scheindlin
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: It is rare to hear any good news about conflicts de-escalating. This week, the world rallied around the implementation of a ceasefire between the notorious and shadowy FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and the Colombia government. The conflict has dragged on for over fifty years. The most obvious and optimistic point is that a long and bloody past need not be the future forever. But other useful points are emerging, for comparison and maybe inspiration.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, International Cooperation, Peace Studies, International Security
  • Political Geography: Israel, Colombia, Palestine
  • Author: Sven Biscop
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Elcano Royal Institute
  • Abstract: If it cannot offer more than building up resilience, the EU risks locking itself out of its own neighbourhood. While external and regional powers are engaged in fierce geopolitical competition in Europe’s neighbourhood, the EU itself wants to focus on building up the resilience of its neighbours. Not only is it far from clear who is to be made resilient against what where there is no more or less benign government but, where countries are only just coming out of war, their first priority is national survival and their demand is for security guarantees. Would sovereignty and equality not be a better Leitmotiv for EU strategy in the neighbourhood?
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Sovereignty
  • Political Geography: European Union
  • Author: Alfred Tovias
  • Publication Date: 12-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Elcano Royal Institute
  • Abstract: At the two Western and Eastern geographic extremes of the Mediterranean basin, Spain and Israel –both OECD member countries– have been developing over the past three decades in totally different directions. Spain is increasingly looking North towards the EU but also towards Latin America, while Israel is actively developing its relations with emerging economies such as India and China and strengthening ever more its relations with the US. Could it be that the two countries are ignoring each other and missing out on potential complementarities? Before Spain’s accession to the European Community (EC), the latter considered Israel and Spain in tandem in the context of a Global Mediterranean Policy, as they both represented semi-industrialised economies in the same league. The demographic and economic structures of the two countries have diverged since then, offering clear prospects of fruitful cooperation, especially in the fields of energy and technology.
  • Topic: International Security, Geopolitics, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Israel, Spain
  • Author: Maria Solanas Cardín
  • Publication Date: 12-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Elcano Royal Institute
  • Abstract: The II National Action Plan for the implementation of Resolution 1325, currently being prepared by the Spanish Government, should build on lessons learnt and include specific measures and best practices if it aims to achieve any advancement in the women, peace and security agenda. Nine years after the approval of the I National Action Plan for the implementation of Resolution 1325 –and mainly driven by its participation, as a non-permanent member, in the United Nations Security Council during the 2015-16 biennium–, the Spanish Government has marked the women, peace and security agenda as a priority, undertaking to draft a II National Action Plan. The number of challenges outstanding, almost 16 years after the approval of Resolution 1325, calls for a global commitment that is sustained over time and for actions and measures in field operations supported by sufficient funding (the most serious and persistent impediment for implementation of Resolution 1325). The alliance with local organisations and agents, mainly women’s organisations, has proved to be the most efficient way to promote and ensure a significant participation by women in the prevention of conflicts and in peace-building. Only a Plan based on such premises will effectively contribute towards the implementation of Resolution 1325.
  • Topic: Development, Gender Issues, International Security, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Lauren Baker
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: Late in the evening of July 15, a faction of the Turkish army blocked key bridges into Istanbul and occupied several locations throughout the country. The attempted coup failed before morning, but its consequences will reverberate far into the future. The government’s response was immediate and harsh: mass arrests and a purge of not only the military, but also civil servants, judges, academics, and political opponents. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned cleric Fethullah Gulen as the chief conspirator and demanded his extradition from self-imposed exile in the United States. Meanwhile, some opponents of Erdogan suggest that the government orchestrated the attempt as a “false flag” operation to consolidate power and crackdown on dissidents. Turkey is not new to coups, but looking at previous conflicts and the political science literature on coups can tell us why this failed attempt is unique and what its repercussions will be in Turkey and the broader Middle East. The pieces in POMEPS Briefing 30 offer insightful and timely analysis from top scholars of the region published in the Monkey Cage blog on the Washington Post.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Author: Lauren Baker
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: On February 26, 2016, Iran held elections for its Assembly of Experts, the body tasked with choosing the next supreme leader, and the Islamic Consultative Assembly (its parliament or majlis). As the first major round of voting since 2015’s historic Joint Plan of Comprehensive Action nuclear agreement, the world watched the results closely — and Iran’s leaders leveraged this international focus. While many reformist candidates were barred from running, and those who did were censored on state media, new forms of communication and social media aided existing organizing networks for a strong showing for the reformist candidates, most notably in Tehran. Coalitions between moderates and reformists potentially herald a new era of politics in the Islamic Republic, though it has yet to be seen if these changes will translate mean greater democracy. POMEPS Briefing 29 collects a series of reflections from top regional scholars that provide political context and important analysis of these watershed elections
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Author: Lauren Baker
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: On January 2, Saudi Arabia executed 47 men, including prominent cleric and political activist Nimr al-Nimr. This sparked immediate backlash, especially among domestic and global Shiite communities. Unfortunately, such rising sectarian tensions are nothing new in the region. Although the media is quick to highlight the Sunni-Shiite divide, it generally points to this split as the root cause of conflicts. How are we to get beyond this primordialist rhetoric and study the real impacts and causes of sectarianism in the region? POMEPS Briefing 28, “The Gulf’s Escalating Sectarianism,” collects 16 pieces previously published by the Project on Middle East Political Science and the Monkey Cage to provide a more nuanced look of this divisive trend. There is a growing body of scholarship that places sectarianism within the study of comparative politics and international relations, rather than treating sectarian identity as an unchanging, essentialist trait. Authors in this collection demonstrate how political elites use sectarian language to legitimize authoritarian rule, consolidate power, and rally against internal and external foes. What appear on the surface as entrenched confessional divides are often more about political and economic power than religion. Interested readers should also look at the 2013 POMEPS Studies 4 “The Politics of Sectarianism,” much of which remains relevant today. Analysis of individual Gulf states’ domestic and geopolitical maneuvering supports this theoretical framework. In Saudi Arabia, the new leadership is able to refocus attention away from its international and domestic failures by increasing pressure on Shiite dissidents and provoking its main regional rival, Iran. And, in the wake of the nuclear agreement, the increasing Iranian influence gives Saudi Arabia another reason to amp up the sectarian vehemence. Meanwhile in Yemen, the labels of sectarianism fail to tell the whole story, while in Iraq and Syria violence in the name of sectarian identity continues to polarize and entrench both sides. The Arab uprisings challenged the traditional regional powers, and Sunni leaders continue to vie for prominence in this new order. Meanwhile, the increasing use of information technology and social media reinforces existing communities, while further polarizing users and citizens.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Gulf Nations
  • Author: John Ryan
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: LSE IDEAS
  • Abstract: On 4 February 2015, the European Central Bank (ECB) unexpectedly and suddenly cancelled acceptance of Greek bonds as collateral for liquidity funding unless Greece obeyed the Troika agreement. The ECB’s irresponsible and incompetent actions call into question their respect for the Greek government’s attempts to resolve its debt crisis in a sustainable way. The ECB may or may not have good reasons to cut off Greece, depending on your point of view, but it is clear that such a move would be political. A central bank that is supposed to be the lender of last resort and guardian of financial stability would be taking a deliberate and calculated decision to undermine the Greek banking system. The ECB is now seen in some quarters as arrogant, unaccountable and authoritarian.1 This Strategic Update discusses the most recent problems for the Eurozone, namely the Greek crisis and the European Central Bank’s (ECB) lack of democratic accountability which has contributed to considerable difficulties for the stability of the Eurozone.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Greece
  • Author: Tan Sri Munir Majid
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: LSE IDEAS
  • Abstract: While the close British decision to get out of the European Union was made in a referendum a while ago on 23 June, there is still the feeling in the UK: What have we done? Where do we go? How do we get there? Questions that should have been asked at the referendum, rather than after it. But there you are. When raw emotion and shallow argument reign, profound decisions are made without proper reflection or preparation. Since then the question has also been raised whether or not such a thing could occur in ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It won’t but then again it may. First of all, let’s be clear. It is not likely there will ever be such a surplus of democracy in ASEAN, whether among individual member states or as a group, that there could be an ‘In or Out’ referendum like the one which resulted in Brexit.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Affairs, Global Markets, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia
  • Author: Tim Oliver
  • Publication Date: 06-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: LSE IDEAS
  • Abstract: A British withdrawal from the EU would be a process not an event. This Strategic Update sets out the nine overlapping series of negotiations that would be triggered and the positions the 27 remaining EU countries and the EU’s institutions would take, gathered from a network of researchers across the continent.
  • Topic: Brexit
  • Political Geography: Britain, European Union
  • Author: Tim Oliver
  • Publication Date: 02-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: LSE IDEAS
  • Abstract: A vote by the British people to withdraw from the EU – also known as a ‘Brexit’ – will have significant implications for the EU, the ideas and structures of European integration, and European geopolitics. Opinion polls show that a vote to withdraw is a distinct possibility. The EU, the rest of Europe, allies around the world and the UK itself need to prepare for the wider international implications of such a move. This Strategic Update examines how likely a Brexit is and explores what it could mean for the EU, European integration, and Europe’s economics and security.
  • Topic: Geopolitics, Brexit
  • Political Geography: Britain, European Union
  • Author: Josh Reubner
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: his retrospective assessment argues that despite the arrival in office in 2009 of a president who articulated the case for Palestinian rights more strongly and eloquently than any of his predecessors, U.S. official policy in the Obama years skewed heavily in favor of Israel. While a negotiated two-state resolution of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians continued to be the formal goal of the United States, Israel’s defiant refusal to stop settlement expansion, the administration’s determined actions to perpetuate Israeli impunity in international fora, as well as the U.S. taxpayer’s hefty subsidy of the Israeli military machine all ensured that no progress could be made on that score. The author predicts that with all hopes of a negotiated two-state solution now shattered, Obama’s successor will have to contend with an entirely new paradigm, thanks in no small part to the gathering momentum of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: America, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Phyllis Bennis
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: This essay examines the discourse on Palestine/Israel in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, charting the impact of the Palestine rights movement on the domestic U.S. policy debate. Policy analyst, author, and long-time activist Phyllis Bennis notes the sea change within the Democratic Party evident in the unprecedented debate on the issue outside traditionally liberal Zionist boundaries. The final Democratic platform was as pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian as any in history, but the process of getting there was revolutionary in no small part, Bennis argues, due to the grassroots campaign of veteran U.S. senator Bernie Sanders. Bennis also discusses the Republican platform on Israel/Palestine, outlining the positions of the final three Republican contenders. Although she is clear about the current weakness of the broad antiwar movement in the United States, Bennis celebrates its Palestinian rights component and its focus on education and BDS to challenge the general public’s “ignorance” on Israel/ Palestine.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Dr. Jan (eds) Woischnik, Dr Jans Woischnik
  • Publication Date: 12-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Brazilian Center for International Relations (CEBRI)
  • Abstract: In the last decade of the 20th century, when the Cold War came to an end, there was a growing understanding that International Law was consolidated as legitimation body for state actions. It was the begin- ning of a new peaceful world order, the world hoped that an old problem of geopolitics could finally be fully addressed by the International Law, a problem which the Athenian General Thucydides observed already more than 2000 years ago, according to which in the realm of the international, “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must”. In this new world order right was supposed to finally come before might.
  • Topic: International Law, Political Theory, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Andrey Korobkov
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: The 2016 electoral campaign outcome came like a complete bolt out of the blue for the American establishment, including the ruling elites, as well as academics, journalists, and other groups safeguarding the elites’ interests. Ironically, the showy campaign and the scandalous behavior of US billionaire and TV star Donald Trump, now 45th President-elect, overshadowed the fact that such a candidate per se exposed a deep systemic crisis in American society. Both the general public and professionals had overlooked the phenomenon. The crisis is caused by the exhausted potential of the US political and socio-economic system, which took shape in the 1960s and is over 50 years old. That is why the problems that the campaign laid bare will not merely fade away after the elections.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Organization, International Affairs, Elections
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Edward Luttwak
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: In the recent months the US-Russian relations have been in this weird place where Russia suddenly emerged again as a topic of a heated and very controversial electoral campaign and again in a form of an Evil Empire. The relations have been strained since 2014 following the events in Crimea, Ukraine and the sanctions rounds even though the same two countries managed to cooperate around Iran, and were rubbing shoulders in Syria. The recent storm has been caused by the leakage of the Democratic party emails, allegedly done by Moscow with the end goal to undermine Hillary Clinton (who is holding firm anti-Russian position) and support Donald Trump (who has praised Vladimir Putin in the past). With the elections taking place this week, Rethinking Russia spoke to an influential Republican geostrategist, CSIS senior associate Edward Luttwak about the current state of the Russian-American elections.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, America
  • Author: Thomas Graham
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: Beware of rapid improvement in US-Russian relations. It cannot be sustained, and it always ends in sorrow for both countries. That at least is the history of relations since the end of the Cold War, to which each American president – Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama – can attest.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Organization, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, America
  • Author: Christopher Phillips
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: Military conflict in Syria is in its 5th year. What was initially seen as another strike of the wave of democratization known as the “Arab Spring” has now become an extremely complicated multi-level regional conflict, where authorities in Damascus, estranged from the Western countries, are fighting against several groups, including ISIS1. The international dimension of the Syrian conflict is usually seen as the reluctance of the USA to get engaged, and Russia’s readiness to do just the opposite – while many other regional players get lost in the background. In order to establish different patterns and to articulate the plurality of motives that guided international actors, Rethinking Russia spoke to Christopher Phillips – senior lecturer at the School of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary University and associate fellow at the Middle East and North Africa programme at Chatham House, who just published a meticulously researched book “The Battle for Syria: International Rivalry in the New Middle East” that documents the international dimension of the conflict.
  • Topic: Civil War, International Security, Political Power Sharing
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Andrey Korobkov
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: The 58th quadrennial U.S. presidential elections were held on November 8, 2016. Republican Donald Trump won the White House. Following the elections, «Rethinking Russia» think-tank has collected a set of comments by Russian and foreign experts.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Organization, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Danielle Ryan
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: As the world comes to terms with the knowledge that Donald Trump will soon be handed the keys to the White House, Moldovans are preparing to vote in a runoff presidential election which will set their country either on a firmly pro-Western course or on the path toward better relations with Russia.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Moldavia
  • Author: Yan Vaslavskiy
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: The 13th Valdai Discussion Club session was held in Sochi October 24-27. Ever since its establishment in 2004, the Club has gained the reputation, first of all, as a forum for Russian and foreign experts to compare notes on a wide range of international issues. Secondly, the President of Russia drops into the exclusive club on quite a regular basis.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Tatyana Alekseeva
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: The International Primakov Readings Forum took place November 29-30, 2016, in commemoration of Yevgeny Primakov. The meeting was organized by the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO led by Alexander Dynkin) and was backed by the World Trade Center, the Russian Science Foundation, the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy, and the University of Pennsylvania. In his address to the Forum, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin argued that Primakov had succeeded in predicting the events unfolding in today’s world, especially in the Middle East. As the Head of State put it, “Actually, I was always taking heed of Primakov’s assessments, as he was a wise and astute diplomat. I trusted him and asked to accomplish responsible and sensitive missions rather than ordered him”. Besides, the Primakov Readings Conference brought together Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Chair of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko, and President’s foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov who delivered an opening speech. The Forum was also attended by most leading experts on international relations. The Rethinking Russia Think Tank presents the comment of Tatyana Alekseeva, a participant of the Primakov Readings Forum.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, Global Focus
  • Author: Bryan MacDonald
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: At the start of 1917, rumours reached London that something was stirring in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg). As a result, the concerned Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, urgently dispatched Lord Milner, a diplomat of some repute, to the Russian capital. His Lordship visited the Tsar and spoke to ministers and members of the Duma, who informed him that enemies of the state were spreading groundless yarns. Sadly, being a creature of his class, Milner believed that only the elites mattered so he neglected to consult any of the general public. Thus, cocooned in his bubble, the peer reported to London that there was nothing the government could not handle and no need to expect no major changes. However, the same British travelling party also included Lloyd George’s private secretary Philip Kerr. A little more clued in, Kerr walked the streets and interviewed the plain folk. Armed with their predictions, he sent a telegram to Downing Street which asserted that Russia was on the verge of an unstoppable revolution. As it happens, the man who stepped out of the comfort zone was right because Nikolai II was shorn of his crown before the British delegation made it home. We know this story because many years later the ‘Welsh Wizard,’ Lloyd George, revealed the details to Ivan Maisky, the Soviet ambassador to London. And almost a hundred years later, it is a salutary lesson in the dangers of the establishment refusing to acknowledge ordinary people’s concerns when evaluating the causes of political upheaval.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, Global Focus
  • Author: Dejan Skoric
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belgrade Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Applying the "PRO-CURE" methodology, Dejan Skoric from the Association Resource Centre Majdanpek, conducted an analysis of the expediency of the spending of public funds from the budgets of local governments for the purchase of fire-fighting vehicles and equipment.
  • Topic: Corruption, National Security
  • Political Geography: Serbia
  • Author: Ana Aćimov
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belgrade Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The case study applies "PRO-CURE" methodology to analyse performance of expenditures for equipping the traffic police at the local level. The author particularly questions the difference between the proclaimed strategic priorities of the Ministry of Interior and its annual procurement plans, as well as the the distribution of the burden of financing the traffic police between Ministry of Interior and local governments.
  • Topic: Finance
  • Political Geography: Serbia
  • Author: Miroslav Mijatović
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belgrade Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Applying the "PRO-CURE" methodology for assessing the procurement expediency, Miroslav Mijatovic of Podrinjski Anti-Corruption Tim Loznica, conducted a study on the procurement of anti-hail rockets in Loznica in 2014 and 2015. In this study the author has also provided an overview of the overall state of hail protection in Serbia, as well as recommendations for improvement of this system.
  • Topic: Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: Serbia
  • Author: Jeremy Shapiro
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The transatlantic relationship is likely to face difficult challenges whatever the result of the US election. If Trump wins he will launch a revolutionary presidency — pulling back from NATO and other security guarantees, undermining key parts of the global free trade regime and building closer relations with strong-man leaders than allies. Even if Hillary is elected the transatlantic relationship could still face difficult albeit more everyday challenges. Her poor relations with Moscow, exacerbated by gender issues, could threaten transatlantic unity on Russia. Europe would be foolish not to learn lessons from the experience of Trump’s candidacy. Trump represents only an extreme version of a growing feeling in the United States that, in a time of relative decline, the country is getting a raw deal from its allies. The EU should not be complacent in assuming that the transatlantic relationship will continue as it is and should begin to take more responsibility for its own defence and build resilience against a potentially more self-interested US.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Lauren Baker
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: On October 9, the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its work shepherding a peaceful transition of power. This accolade highlighted Tunisia’s success creating compromise and building coalition, while avoiding much of the violence and authoritarian backsliding of its neighbors. What lessons can be learned from its example, and what challenges still await this fledgling democracy? POMEPS Briefing 27 “Tunisia’s Volatile Transition to Democracy” brings together 20 essential articles published by the Project on Middle East Political Science and the Monkey Cage that illuminate this small but important state’s internal politics and regional impact. The National Dialogue came at a pivotal moment for the nascent Tunisian democracy. As trust in its first democratically elected government waned, the nation had to navigate the resignation of the Troika government, without following Egypt’s path to anti-Islamist authoritarianism. The parliamentary and presidential elections of 2014 marked a democratic milestone as the centrist Nidaa Tunis took over from Islamist Ennahda, then — to the frustration of some members in both parties — brought it into a coalition government. The contrast between the fate of Islamists in Tunisia and Egypt on one hand and Turkey on the other is marked. However, despite these notable achievements, the Tunisian democracy has failed to represent a significant portion of the population and overall confidence in the democratic process is slipping. Many of the revolutionaries who initially participated in the uprisings remain disenchanted with their options for representation. Meanwhile, citizens in the interior continue to struggle with staggering levels of unemployment, as elites work the outdated system to their advantage. Though it was the main motivator for the revolution, the economic situation in the country has made little progress. Citizens must also balance their desire for personal freedoms with the need for security, and recent terror attacks have done little to assuage these concerns.
  • Topic: Democratization, International Affairs, Popular Revolt
  • Political Geography: Tunisia
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: Turkey Brief 26 Turkey’s Democratic Struggles POMEPS Briefing 26 — June 17, 2015 On June 7, Turkish voters denied a majority to the long-ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and pushed the Kurdish Democratic People’s Party (HDP) over the electoral threshold for the first time. A number of critical trends in Turkish politics came together in the June 2015 parliamentary election: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian ambitions, Kurdish political evolution, an unpopular Syria policy and the stunning break between AKP and the Islamist Gulen movement. POMEPS Briefings 26 “Turkey’s Democratic Struggles” brings together more than a dozen essays published by the Project on Middle East Political Science and the Monkey Cage that help to make sense of the stakes and results of this crucial election.
  • Topic: Democratization, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Author: Bryan R. Gibson
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: LSE IDEAS
  • Abstract: After nearly 20 months of near continuous negotiations, in 2015 Iran and the P5+1 reached a deal designed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capability in exchange for relief from the sanctions that have been crippling its economy over the course of the past decade. How was this momentous agreement reached? This Strategic Update traces the story of this major diplomatic breakthrough, through the historical context of long term US-Iran relations and the tireless international effort to prevent domestic political crises from derailing the negotiations.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Author: Karine Lisbonne-de Vergeron
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: LSE IDEAS
  • Abstract: espite obvious differences, the EU’s most comprehensive partnership with an emerging power has been with China. This Strategic Update argues that this is partly due to China's identification with Europe's ancient culture and summarises current 'soft power' diplomacy.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Political Power Sharing
  • Political Geography: China, European Union
  • Author: Olivia Gippner
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: LSE IDEAS
  • Abstract: On the road to the Paris climate change conference in December 2015, what are the prospects for a deal among the key international players - the United States, China, and India? This Strategic Update asks what the EU can do to influence a higher level of ambition and continue to have a leadership role in the global climate community.
  • Topic: Climate Change
  • Political Geography: European Union
  • Author: Georgia Mavrodi
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: LSE IDEAS
  • Abstract: The idea of 'Fortress Europe' has dominated debates on EU immigration policies from the 1990s to current concerns in the Mediterranean. However, this focus on security and illegal migration has obscured important developments in EU policy on authorised migration. This strategic update analyses the construction of common EU policies that recognise the need for particular categories of international migrants.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: European Union
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: Syria’s nearly four year civil war took a dramatic new turn this month as the United States and its coalition partners began bombing militants from the Islamic State group (formerly know as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate Jubhat al-Nusra. The U.S. intervention opens up profound uncertainties about the objective and targets of the military action, the responses of the dizzying array of actors on the ground, and the potential for escalation. In December 2013, POMEPS published “The Political Science of Syria’s War,” a collection of original essays by many of the top civil wars and insurgencies scholars, which helped to place the Syrian war into a broad theoretical and comparative perspective. This new collection of articles originally published on “The Monkey Cage” explores the evolution of the conflict, the nature of the Islamic State, and key debates about Syria’s horrific war.
  • Topic: War, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: Iraq’s long-simmering political conflicts and violence erupted in June with the stunning capture of Mosul and advances toward Baghdad by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The collapse of the Iraqi army and the rapid seizure of territory by ISIS took most observers by surprise, but the crisis had been developing for years. This POMEPS Briefing collects more than a dozen recent articles by academics writing for The Monkey Cage and other leading online publications that explore both the immediate crisis and its underlying causes.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Iraq
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan occupied a dominant political position not too long ago. In June 2011, his Justice and Development Party (AKP) won nearly 60 percent of the seats in parliament while expanding its lead over its closest competitor. Turkey seemed well primed to take advantage of the Arab uprisings, with its independent foreign policy and criticism of Israel playing well with Arab audiences. Erdogan even seemed keen to find a resolution to the long-running struggle with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and reconcile with the country’s Kurdish citizens. Those days seem distant indeed. For at least the last six months, Erdogan has struggled to respond to sustained popular protests, a growing corruption scandal, a stalled peace process with the PKK, a deeply unpopular and ineffective Syria policy, and dissent from within his own party. How did Erdogan’s fortunes reverse so quickly? Are his problems primarily the natural decay of a leader too long in power or do they speak to deeper problems with his party’s ideology or the foundations of Turkish democracy? The 14 deeply researched and analytically powerful Foreign Policy Middle East Channel essays collected in this POMEPS Briefing go deeply into the origins, dynamics, and likely implications of Turkey’s new political scene.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: How should analysts understand the combination of the June 30 massive popular mobilization and the July 3 military coup against then-President Mohamed Morsi? Should these events be understood as a continuation of the January 25 revolution, a second revolution, a straightforward military coup, or a restoration of the Mubarak-era order? Does the blame for the failure of Egypt’s first popularly elected presidency lie with Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, with a recalcitrant opposition, with a resistant state, or with the deep problems which any transitional leadership would have confronted? Can a pathway toward a democratic order still be found?
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Popular Revolt
  • Political Geography: Egypt
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: Yemen began its long-awaited National Dialogue Conference this week in Sanaa. The NDC hoped to find some zone of consensus for moving forward in its transition from the long rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh. It has been beset by many problems of representation, withdrawals and boycotts, deeply entrenched divisions, and the perception of irrelevance to the real problems of Yemenis. For a while it looked like it might never actually convene.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Yemen