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  • Author: Benjamin Augé
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: Until recently, Saudi Arabia was the country out of the Gulf countries that had the greatest number of diplomatic missions in Africa. Although it is now outstripped by Qatar, which has been striving since the beginning of the Emirati-Saudi embargo that started in June 2017 to open a large number of diplomatic posts in Africa. The Saudi diplomatic network was formerly established in predominantly Muslim states (in the Maghreb, West Africa and in the Horn of Africa) and in South Africa. The kingdom can mainly rely on experienced diplomats, who have maintained a presence in Africa since the 1970s, boosted after the 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution and the desire to prevent a spread of Shiism on the continent. Nowadays, Saudi Arabia is also clearly involved in Africa as elsewhere, to counter the influence of its Qatari neighbor.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Islam, Soft Power, Trade Policy
  • Political Geography: Africa, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Euan Graham
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: The Trump–Kim summit is a distinct new phase in the dramatic cycle that defines the North Korea nuclear issue and the peninsula’s highly theatrical brand of geopolitics. Now that North Korea has finally reached the threshold of a nuclear missile capability to directly threaten the US mainland, its scripted brand of hyperbole and brinksmanship is encountering a different sort of melodrama: the political theatre of Donald Trump. The North Korean nuclear issue cannot be understood without an appreciation of the fundamental tension within inter-Korean relations. There is no precedent for a minor, revisionist power developing an asymmetrical nuclear deterrence relationship with the United States. The result is unlikely to be stable.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Bilateral Relations, Weapons , Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Thomas Gomart, Robin Niblett, Daniela Schwarzer, Nathalie Tocci
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), will severely degrade regional and global security. His decision has increased the risk of war and a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and beyond. He has undermined attempts to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons through multilateral diplomacy, as unilateral withdrawal equals non-compliance with a legally-binding UN Security Council resolution. This is a rejection of the UN as arbiter of international peace and security, as well as of international law as a lynchpin of international relations. The steps that Europeans now take will have serious consequences for their alliance with the US, for security in the Middle East, as well as for their relations vis-à-vis China, Russia and the wider world.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Benjamin Augé
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: On June 5th 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain broke off diplomatic relations with Qatar and agreed to isolate the Emirate via an air and land blockade. These countries decided to punish Qatar under the pretext of a speech the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, would have made on May 23rd, which reiterated the strong ties between his country and Iran.[1] The situation has been at a deadlock for a year, and Qatar refuses to apply the Emirati and Saudi Arabian list of the 13 demands. The latter mainly include the closure of the Al Jazeera TV station and the Turkish military base on its territory, downgrading diplomatic relations with Iran, as well as a total separation with movements such as Hezbollah or even the Muslim Brotherhood.[2] However, although this crisis only pits Persian Gulf countries against each other, apart from Egypt, both sides have tried to win support. Donald Trump has adopted the stance of the Saudi-Emirati side[3] – but the State Department under Rex Tillerson (2017-2018) has always remained cautious –, Europe remains neutral with no leader daring to choose one side rather than another. The confrontation was particularly marked in West Africa. Four countries in this area – Senegal, Mauritania, Chad and Niger – quickly downgraded their diplomatic relations with Qatar shortly after the start of the crisis. However, their strategy vis-à-vis this wealthy gas Emirate has changed considerably over the last twelve months, as Doha's efforts to obtain new support in the rest of West Africa has started to bear fruit.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Economics
  • Political Geography: Saudi Arabia, West Africa, Senegal, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Chad, Mauritania, Niger, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Kevin Rudd
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Asia Society Policy Institute
  • Abstract: U.S.-China relations have now entered into a new structural phase. Officially, the Americans describe this as a change from 40 years of “strategic engagement” to a new period of “strategic competition.” The precise definition of strategic competition, as an operational rather than a declaratory strategy, has yet to fully emerge. But we would be foolish not to recognize that there has been a fundamental systemic shift in U.S. sentiment toward China
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Aaron L. Connelly
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Donald Trump has put US policy in East Asia on autopilot. But that could leave the United States far off course — and in a crisis, Trump will be required to fly the plane. Despite President Donald Trump’s promise to adopt an America First foreign policy, US policies in East Asia — on issues from trade, to diplomatic engagement, to the North Korean nuclear crisis — now more closely resemble those of Trump’s predecessors than his campaign vision. There are few advisers around President Trump with the necessary expertise, experience, and inclination to implement an America First foreign policy in Asia. Most principals hold conventional Republican views, and lead institutions that have advanced conventional policies. As a result, US policy in East Asia is on autopilot. The greatest risks are not a deliberate crash, but that of a crisis, in which the autopilot will disengage and President Trump will be required to fly the plane; or that the United States will drift far off course before a qualified pilot can retake control.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Government, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Asia, North America, United States of America
  • 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: June Teufel Dreyer
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Palm Beach heaved a collective sigh of relief as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s plane lifted off from the county airport. Gone were the noisy cheers of his supporters and the anti-Xi banners and jeers of Falongong practitioners, human rights advocates, and admirers of Tibet and Taiwan. The Palm Beach Post reverted from moment-to-moment briefings from the chief of police on street blockages and security precautions to issues of more immediate concern like rip tides and coverage of the Master’s golf tournament competition. Members of Trump’s exclusive Mar-a-Lago private club, whose initiation fee had doubled to $200,000 after his election, could now return to accessing the privileges for which they had paid so handsomely.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: China, America
  • Author: Monica Damberg-Ott
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Ambassadors Review
  • Abstract: The U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program, or IVLP, is often referred to as the “gold standard” of exchange programs th within the public diplomacy community. The program celebrated its 75 anniversary in 2015, and more than 200,000 International Visitors have engaged with Americans through the IVLP, including more than 505 current or former Chiefs of State or Heads of Government,1 since its inception in 1940. Margaret Thatcher, Hamid Karzai, and Indira Gandhi, to name just a few, are alumni. But with recent budget constraints and the need to demonstrate immediate, results-driven programming, the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) is placing greater emphasis on its most flexible rapid-response exchanges. Among those programs is the highly adaptable and policy-responsive option: the IVLP On Demand. So how does it differ from the original model, how does it compare, and how might it help show results more quickly?
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America
  • 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