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  • Author: Amal Cemal Ertürk
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: Since the end of World War II, foreign policy and security issues have haunted the European dreams of complete integration in terms of alignment in a highly challenging field, which is also constantly interrupted by sovereignty concerns of member states. Within today’s changing dynamics, the EU’s current instruments seem to fall short of preventing terrorism or providing a meaningful answer to the problems in the Middle East. The EU’s capacity to act in this field needs to be strengthened. The newest approach presented by the European External Action Service (EEAS) is called PESCO (the Permanent Structured Cooperation) and aims to change this current structure of “inactivity”. This short paper will briefly analyze this new instrument.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Michael Asiedu
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi indicated in a televised broadcast on 16 January, 2018 that his country neither wants war with Sudan nor Ethiopia; Egypt was also not looking to meddle in the internal affairs of these two countries. These pronouncements came at the backdrop of what is proving to be a challenge for these three countries, the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the largest hydro-electric dam project in Africa. This policy brief gives a snapshot of the brewing tension surrounding the GERD and some of the regional geopolitical concerns as well as an alternative for a workable solution.
  • Topic: International Relations, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Ethiopia
  • Author: Mikkel Runge Olesen, Matthew Hinds
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: The election of Donald Trump as US president was met with considerable unease in Europe. This has not least been the case among those who, like the UK and Denmark, consider themselves among America’s closest allies. In the policy brief, Matthew Hinds and Mikkel Runge Olesen take stock of the US special relationships in Europe – large and small. In the policy brief they discuss both the classical “Special Relationship” between the US and the UK, as well as the US-Danish relationship, as an example of a small power that has chosen to give the relationship to the superpower premium priority. Hinds and Runge Olesen find that Trump may destabilize relations, but also that he may open up for new opportunities as well – especially for the UK.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Britain, America, Europe
  • Author: Andrew J. Tabler
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In this new Transition 2017 paper, Institute expert Andrew J. Tabler argues that Syria remains de facto partitioned, making the establishment of safe zones in non-Assad-controlled areas the Trump administration's most expedient course of action. Moreover, it would further Washington's cause to drive a wedge into the country's Russia-Iran alliance, and both isolate and pressure the Assad regime. If Washington's objectives in Syria are to defeat U.S.-designated terrorist groups and stem the outflow of refugees, President Bashar al-Assad is under no circumstances the right person to entrust with these missions. Simply in practical terms, he lacks the manpower to retake and hold the two-thirds of Syrian territory outside his control any time soon, despite having sufficient support from Russia and Iran to maintain control in large parts of the country. But more important, Assad is an avowed adversary of the West, undeserving of its cooperation.
  • Topic: International Relations, Civil War, International Security, International Affairs, Neoimperialism
  • Political Geography: Russia, America, Iran, Syria
  • Author: Lori Plotkin Boghardt, Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Trump administration has an opportunity to reset, tighten, and maximize America's strategic relations with the Gulf states. For the United States, expanded security cooperation and coordination could be a force multiplier in campaigns to achieve key policy goals, such as countering Iran's destabilizing policies and defeating the Islamic State. Gulf leaders have expressed optimism over the new administration's gestures, despite its "America First" rhetoric. But the administration also faces challenges, including those brought about by its own emphasis on "radical Islamic terrorism." This two-part Transition 2017 paper, featuring contributions by Gulf experts Lori Plotkin Boghardt and Simon Henderson, navigates the complex U.S.-Gulf relationship. The first essay provides an overview of its basic tenets, stressing the importance of rapport to bilateral ties and discussing key policy priorities. The second essay narrows the focus to the Washington-Riyadh link, the most important U.S. tie with the conservative Gulf. It analyzes differences in viewpoint, policy options, and some anticipated Saudi responses on the core issues of oil, terrorism, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Gulf allies, and the Sunni bloc.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Cooperation, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East
  • Author: Tomáš Kaválek
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: On 3 March, clashes erupted between the PKK-linked forces and the KDP’s Rojava Peshmerga near Khanasor in the district of Shingal. These events now more than ever highlight the need for a negotiated compromise between the KRG and the PKK; and for the international community to actively intervene.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, Political Theory
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Irene Costantini
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: Iraq and Libya are facing similar challenges: addressing the hurdles of socio-economic recovery in areas liberated from the Islamic State (IS); facing a fiscal crisis in the midst of continuous political tensions; and striking a power balance between central and local authorities, serving the interests of the people.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, ISIS
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Athanasios Manis
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: The Iraqi and Turkish leadership have restored direct contact, thus providing an opportunity for dialogue. However, the extent to which this can lead to a sustainable normalisation process and furthermore to a deepening of their relationship is highly questionable. This policy brief argues that the main problem lies with the fact that a win-win scenario of overlapping or complementary interests does not seem to be driving the leaderships’ actions. Instead, it is ad hoc developments external to their bilateral relationship that have a positive effect for the time being, such as the rapprochement between Russia and Turkey, and subsequently a concerted attempt between Russia, Turkey and Iran to stabilise the region.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: François Godement
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Xi Jinping took a bold stance at this year's Davos summit, claiming that China could be the leader and protector of global free trade. However, he fell short of pronouncing the same commitment to the international order. • While China finds little to criticise in globalisation, which has fuelled its rapid economic rise, it has an uneasy relationship with the international order, picking and choosing what parts of it to engage with. • China's governance model at home is fundamentally at odds with the liberal international order. Whether in climate talks, international arbitrations, or on the topic of open markets, China resists any parts of the order that infringe on its sovereignty. • Facing an increasingly interest-driven China, and a US in retreat from the international order, the EU must stand by its values if it wants to protect them. Faced with Donald Trump, Xi has sent a clear message about his country's commitment to internationalism. The EU should hold China to its word on this.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Hamza Meddeb
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Six years since the revolution, the success of democracy in Tunisia depends on those parts of the country where the popular uprising began: its ‘periphery’, whose regions lag far behind the country’s economically more developed coast. Tunisia’s periphery regions suffer from weak economic growth and high levels of poverty and unemployment – a legacy of decades of underinvestment. Regional conflict, terrorism and organised crime have led the government to crack down on security threats in the periphery regions. This has disrupted the informal and illegal economic networks on which much of the population relies and caused it to lose faith in the government. Tunisia has enjoyed extensive support from international partners since 2011 – money is not the problem. Instead, the country must strengthen its regional governance and address fragmentation at the heart of government. Europeans can radically alter the terms of debate by offering Tunisia membership of the European Economic Area, galvanising change in support of its journey towards democracy and stability.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Hayder al-Khoei, Ellie Geranmayeh, Mattia Toaldo
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: ISIS has suffered significant setbacks in both Iraq and Libya with the battles for Mosul and Sirte representing potential turning-points. • Without a clear political strategy to guide post- ISIS efforts, these military gains could quickly be lost. Both countries could again become breeding grounds for conflict and extremism, exacerbating European security and migration challenges. This risk is especially high for Iraq given the conflict in neighbouring Syria. • The new US administration is likely to invest less energy than its predecessors in strengthening political orders which provide stability. European states must step up their own efforts
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: On 5 June 2017, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt, in marked succession, cut diplomatic relations with Qatar. Within a matter of hours, it became clear that this was not simply a move to sever ties, but a plan for a full embargo, an unprecedented step at a time of peace between these nations. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain blocked flights to Qatar, closed land and sea borders, and ordered Qatari citizens out of their countries while calling on their own nationals to leave Qatar. The same day, Maldives, Mauritius (though it later denied the news), the Libyan Tobruk-based government (which is not recognised internationally), and the Yemeni government based in Riyadh followed suit and cut ties with Qatar, unable to resist Saudi pressure. The next day, Jordan downgraded diplomatic relations with Qatar and revoked the licence of Al Jazeera’s bureau in Amman, while Mauritania severed diplomatic relations with Qatar. Mauritius, in an official statement, denied it had cut ties, raising questions of whether some party took the initiative on behalf of the Mauritian government. The actions taken at dawn on 5 June were the culmination of an unprecedented, anti-Qatar media blitz initiated by Emirati, Saudi, Bahraini and Egyptian media on the evening of 23 May. The campaign intensified until it assumed official imprimatur with the decision to cut ties and blockade Qatar. What, then, is happening to relations between countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)? After Gulf leaders came together in a scene of friendship, cooperation and solidarity during US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, why are relations between three GCC states and Qatar deteriorating so rapidly and in such unprecedented fashion? Was there an immediate cause that spurred Saudi Arabia and its partners to take this stance, or were these actions planned in advance? Is this simply a fleeting crisis in relations between GCC states, or could the break persist?
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: Abstract The commander of Operation Dignity, Khalifa Haftar, shocked supporters even more than his opponents when he agreed to meet the Chairman of the Presidential Council, Fayez al-Sarraj, in Abu Dhabi on 2 May 2017, having previously refused to recognise him. This about-face may be attributable to the acquiescence of Haftar’s regional allies to direct international pressure. Reactions to the rapprochement between al-Sarraj and Haftar varied across the eastern and western fronts. Khalifa Haftar’s status in the east precludes serious opposition to his decisions, while in the western region a substantial segment of the population blessed the meeting in hopes that a détente would stop the deterioration of the security and economic situation. In contrast, western political and military factions were incensed, and some responded violently. Haftar’s acceptance of consensual agreement and reconciliation clearly grows out the waning possibility of assuming control of the country through decisive military action. From his standpoint, it therefore makes sense to attempt to impose his conditions through negotiations, which means the Skhirat agreement could collapse or undergo radical revisions.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Libya
  • Author: Andrea Charron, James Fergusson
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: While most attention on NORAD and North American defence cooperation is focused on the modernization of the North Warning System (NWS), significant developments have occurred that suggest modernization will be accompanied by significant evolutionary changes to the Command. The new threat environment, centered upon Russian behaviour in Crimea, Ukraine and Syria, a new Russian strategic doctrine, and a new generation of advanced Russian long-range cruise missiles dictate not only layered, multi-sensor early warning system, but also changes in NORAD command arrangements. In addition, the maritime component of the cruise missile threat, alongside continuing concerns of terrorists employing freighters as cruise missile platforms, raise the question whether NORAD should evolve into a binational air-maritime defence command. These considerations are central to the ongoing Evolution of North American Defence (EVONAD) study, emanating from the Canada-US Permanent Joint Board on Defence, under the lead of NORAD, in collaboration with the Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) and US Northern Command (the tri-command structure). The final result is difficult to predict. However, it is clear that both modernization and evolution will be driven by the militaries engaged, with civilian authorities guiding the process, and the public and Canadian government not paying attention.
  • Topic: International Relations, Defense Policy, International Security
  • Political Geography: Canada
  • Author: Matt Preston
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: The Korean Peninsula has dominated the news out of Asia as of late. From assassinations reminiscent of James Bond villains and ballistic missiles aimed at U.S. bases in Japan, to Chinese anger over advanced missile defence systems, and harsher than ever sanctions by China on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRIK), there is no shortage of headlines. But below the radar, some more important events have been taking place across the Tsushima Strait. On March 4, Japan’s Liberal Democrat Party approved a rule change that would allow the party’s president to continue for a third term. This means that should the LDP win another election, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could serve until 2021, making him the longest-serving Japanese prime minister in the postwar era.1 Upon the rule’s approval, Abe announced: “It’s the historic mission of the LDP, which has held up the backbone of Japan throughout the postwar period, to lead a specific debate toward a proposal to amend the constitution.” To Abe and the conservative faction he heads within the LDP, that largely means repealing Article 9 — the ‘no war’ clause. Simultaneously, controversy has arisen over a potential conflict of interest story regarding the sale of land far below market value to a nationalistic primary school that originally named Abe’s wife, Akie, as honourary principal.2
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: Japan
  • Author: Alan Stephenson
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: It is time for the Canadian government to conduct a holistic review of Canada’s national security complex. The Defence Policy Review is floundering as a consequence of an uncooperative world, Canada’s domestic security institutions require legislative empowerment, and the election of Donald Trump has placed increased pressure on Canadian security and defence. Securing the U.S.’s northern border is a no-fail mission for Canada as peace and prosperity depend upon it. However, this must be done within Canadian security norms and values. Only a ground-up examination of the Canadian national security system will elicit a comprehensive understanding of the current deficiencies that will allow focused alignment of government objectives, policies and public funds. Crisis management requires a strategic plan with clear objectives from which to conduct concurrent and coordinated activities. The Trudeau government has the team in place; now, it needs a new National Security Policy statement to assist in “lead turning” an unconventional U.S. administration steadfast in its stance over national security.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, Immigration
  • Political Geography: America, Canada
  • Author: Flemming Splidsboel Hansen
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: The basic tenet of the Russian disinformation strategy is the claim that all news is constructed and therefore contested. In the best postmodern tradition they claim there is no ‘objective news’ – only different, rivalling interpretations which purport to show different aspects of what may be called ‘reality’. And what the Russian media outlets present are merely possible explanations which serve as alternatives to the stories offered by Western media. It is a strategy which is both cunning and elegant as it preys on the enlightenment tradition and on the vulnerabilities of liberal democratic media. The Russian authorities seem to believe that (dis-) information campaigns hold great prospects. In a 2017 article, the Russian Chief of Staff informed the public about the Russian military thinking on the topic of ‘war’ and on the role of the non-military or "non-kinetic" in this. It seems premature to conclude that this thinking sees the possibility of war as an exclusively non-kinetic activity – this at least was not announced in the article – but the development points strongly in this direction and we should therefore expect to see an increased Russian focus on (dis-) information campaigns designed to bring well-defined outcomes. There will not be any easy or fix-it-all solutions to this development. Rather, liberal democracies, especially vulnerable as a result of their free media culture, should prepare themselves for a long-term commitment to countering disinformation and to building up cognitive resilience to ensure that the former has minimal effect.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Mikhaïl Souslov
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute Français des Relations Internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: This paper traces the evolution of the diaspora policies and visions from the early 1990s to the present, and argues that the understanding of Russian “compatriots abroad” has never been the same; rather, it travelled a long road from revanchist irredentism of the red-brown opposition in the 1990s, to the moderately liberal pragmatism of the early 2000s, to the confrontational instrumentalization of Russian “compatriots” as a lever of Russia’s soft power in the late 2000s, and, finally, back to the even more confrontational, irredentist and isolationist visions after the Ukrainian crisis of 2014.
  • Topic: International Relations, Migration, International Affairs, Diaspora
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Zahid Hussain
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute Français des Relations Internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: The CPEC is a nodal part of China’s larger Belt and Road Initiative that envisages connecting China to Europe, the Middle East and Africa. As part of the project, Pakistan welcomes investments worth tens of billions of dollars for infrastructure and power sector development at a time when it desperately needs foreign investment to boost its fledgling economy. The addition of an expected 10,000 MW of electricity to the national grid by end 2018 will help overcome energy shortages and give a major boost to the economy. Similarly, the development of roads and other transport infrastructure will also improve connectivity inside the country as well with other neighboring countries in the future. The connectivity part of the project could actually become a game changer for Pakistan
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, China
  • Author: Anaïs Marin
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute Français des Relations Internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: Since they signed a “comprehensive strategic partnership” agreement in 2013, military-industrial cooperation has intensified, thereby substantiating Belarusian hopes for closer ties with China, which are meant to counterbalance Minsk’s complex relations with Moscow and Brussels. In the eyes of its Chinese partners, however, Belarus seems to enjoy only limited appeal compared with other central and eastern European (CEE) countries, which are more advanced on the road to economic transformation and better integrated into the global system
  • Topic: International Relations, Defense Policy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: China