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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