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  • Author: Alessandro Marrone
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The Italian armed forces need to adjust to a changing operational environment, whereby threat levels are on the rise and the United States is more reluctant to lead military operations than in the past.
  • Topic: International Relations, NATO, Armed Forces, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Tony van der Togt
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: A global multilateral rules-based order, supported by a pro-active and interventionist United States, is gradually being replaced by a more fragmented world, in which geopolitics and geo-economics are becoming the dominant factors and universal rules, norms, and values are increasingly questioned. For the EU such developments are particularly challenging, as it has long perceived itself as a post-Westphalian soft power, mainly projecting its norms and values in its relations with both its direct neighbors and the world at large. A more isolationist US, a more assertive Russia, and the growing global influence of China have raised questions about the EU’s place and role in the world, which become even more pertinent after Brexit. Therefore, Commission President Von der Leyen intends to lead a “geopolitical Commission” and we are hearing calls for European strategic autonomy or even strategic sovereignty.
  • Topic: International Relations, European Union, Geopolitics, Multilateralism
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Haizam Amirah-Fernandez
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: There is something deeply and comprehensively flawed in the EU’s relations with its Mediterranean neighbourhood. After more than 50 years of European cooperation, agreements, declarations and plans with the southern Mediterranean and the Arab countries, only one new democratic state (Tunisia) has emerged. A benevolent observer would say this democratisation process was not initiated as a result of the EU’s resolute support for a population demanding freedom from an authoritarian regime. A blunter observer, however, would argue that Tunisians managed to topple their former autocrat despite the support he received from certain European quarters until the very last minute. So much for decades of European pro-democracy rhetoric.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, European Union, Crisis Management, Trade
  • Political Geography: Europe, Mediterranean
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Israel resides at the cusp of the widening US-Chinese divide, as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent visit to Israel attests. Pompeo’s visit was for the express purpose of reminding Jerusalem that its dealings with Beijing jeopardize its relationship with Washington.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Arms Trade, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Middle East, Israel, Asia, Palestine, North America, United States of America
  • Author: George N Tzogopoulos
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Greece, Israel, and five other countries of the Eastern Mediterranean have established the East Med Gas Forum. Turkey is not a member and is employing its own muscular approach in the region. The US would like the Forum to be more inclusive, specifically toward Ankara. Athens and Jerusalem could launch a diplomatic initiative to explore Turkey’s participation, as they have nothing to lose and much to gain from such an initiative.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Gas, Trade
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Israel, Greece, Palestine, Mediterranean
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: It is early days, but first indications are that the global coronavirus pandemic is entrenching long-drawn Middle Eastern geopolitical, political, ethnic, and sectarian battle lines rather than serving as a vehicle to build bridges and boost confidence. Gulf states are taking contradictory approaches to the problem of ensuring that entrenched conflicts do not spiral out of control as they battle the pandemic and struggle to cope with the economic fallout.
  • Topic: International Relations, Bilateral Relations, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North America, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: The coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout may rewrite the security as well as the political and economic map of the Middle East. The crisis will probably color Gulf attitudes towards the region’s major external players: the US, China, and Russia. Yet the Gulf States are likely to discover that their ability to shape the region’s map has significantly diminished.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, International Relations, Security, Trade
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Middle East, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Paul Rivlin
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: In this issue of Iqtisadi, Paul Rivlin delves into the structural factors that led to protests and the overthrow of Sudan's longtime dictator, Omar al-Bashir, in 2019. This background along with more recent developments, explains why some of the leadership in Sudan today believe engagement with Israel makes good economic sense.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economy, Omar al-Bashir
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Kelly M. McFarland, Lori Clune, Danielle Richman, Wilson D. (Bill) Miscamble, Seth Jacobs, Vanessa Walker, Joseph S. Nye Jr.
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: A Roundtable on Joseph S. Nye, Jr. Do Morals Matter?: Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Political Theory, International Relations Theory, Political Science, American Presidency, Morality
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Mitchell Lerner, Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, Arissa H. Oh, Zachary M. Matusheski, Peter Banseok Kwon, Monica Kim
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: A Roundtable on Monica Kim The Interrogation Rooms of the Korean War: The Untold History
  • Topic: International Relations, Cold War, War, History, Military Affairs, United States , Korean War, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea, Korea, Korean Peninsula
  • Author: Chester Pach, Cindy Ewing, Kevin Y. Kim, Daniel Bessner, Fredrik Logevall
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: A Roundtable on Daniel Bessner and Fredrik Logevall, “Recentering the United States in the Historiography of American Foreign Relations”
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, International Relations Theory, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Jeffrey A. Engel, R. Joseph Parrott, Heather Marie Stur, Steven J. Brady, Timothy Lynch
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: Roundtable on Timothy J. Lynch, In the Shadow of the Cold War: American Foreign Policy from George Bush Sr. to Donald Trump
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, American Presidency, Post Cold War, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Philippe Le Corre
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Kazakhstan is one of China’s direct neighbours, and a prominent one by size and border. As the Chinese proverb states, “a close neighbour is more valuable than a distant relative”,[1] hence the importance of Sino-Kazakh ties, especially at a time when Beijing tries to promote its “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) across Eurasia. The country has a 1782.75 km-long border with China, and shares much history and people with the former Middle Kingdom. Although data is sparse, it is known that many Uyghurs –the main tribe of Xinjiang, China’s troubled autonomous region – live in Kazakhstan. There are also ethnic Kazakhs living on the Chinese side, in Xinjiang (many of them facing great political difficulties, if not persecutions).
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: John Edwards
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: The outlines of a trade deal between the United States and China are there. But without a return to the negotiating table, the dispute could rapidly escalate, magnifying the damage to world growth. With the Osaka G20 meeting looming, Chinese analysts and policymakers visited in Beijing are pessimistic about the prospects for a trade deal with the United States. If they are right, global financial markets are in for a much wilder shock than anything yet seen in this quarrel. Yet much of a deal has already been agreed, while the consequences of not reaching a deal have become increasingly dire.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Trade and Finance, Trade Wars, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Nicola Casarini
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Should the EU enforce a containment policy towards the People’s Republic of China (PRC – or simply China), joining efforts undertaken by US President Donald Trump, who has unleashed a trade and technological war against Beijing with the aim of permanently subordinating the Asian giant to the West? Or should the EU continue its engagement policy towards Beijing – and even seek to maximise Sino-European ties to put limits on those US unilateral policies that are detrimental to Europe’s interests and fundamental values? What would be the best policy mix of engagement and containment for EU–China relations? And to what extent should the EU align its China policy with that of the US?
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Institutions
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, United States of America, European Union
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: With a population of 650 million and an annual GDP of $2.8 trillion, ASEAN is a key component of the US Indo-Pacific Strategy. Two visitors to the East-West Center, Kavi Chongkittavorn and Anu Anwar, emphasized that the United States needs to take several steps to strengthen working relations with ASEAN. Priorities for the Trump administration include: Attend the annual ASEAN-sponsored East Asia Summit; Establish personal rapport with ASEAN leaders; Participate actively in all ASEAN-led mechanisms, including the ASEAN Regional Forum, the ASEAN Defense Ministerial Meeting Plus, and the Lower Mekong Initiative; Appoint an American envoy to ASEAN, a position that has been vacant for more than 30 months; Maintain the ASEAN-focused programs and activities initiated under previous US administrations; Expand educational, cultural, and youth programs; Strengthen the US-ASEAN security commitment, in particular maritime and cyber security.
  • Topic: International Relations, Geopolitics, Donald Trump, ASEAN
  • Political Geography: North America, Asia-Pacific, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Andrew J. Bacevich
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: Let us stipulate at the outset that President Trump is a vulgar and dishonest fraud without a principled bone in his body. Yet history is nothing if not a tale overflowing with irony. Despite his massive shortcomings, President Trump appears intent on recalibrating America’s role in the world. Initiating a long-overdue process of aligning U.S. policy with actually existing global conditions just may prove to be his providentially anointed function.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Global Focus
  • Author: Khury Petersen-Smith
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: It is sickening that the U.S. would deliver the Kurds to Turkish violence, but that doesn’t mean we should embrace the U.S. presence in Syria.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Brendon J. Cannon, Federico Donelli
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: In December 2017, at the end of a bilateral meeting, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Sudanese counterpart Umar al-Bashir announced a deal to restore Suakin, a ruined Ottoman port town on Sudan’s Red Sea coast. The agreement also gave Turkey the right to build a naval dock to maintain civilian and military vessels. More than one year later there are doubts as to how much work Turkey will do beyond restoring the Ottoman town. However, certain regional states are uncomfortable with the apparent consolidation of a permanent Turkish presence in the region, thereby feeding a process of perceived securitization in and around the Red Sea. A few months later, in April 2018, the flag of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) began to flutter on the small island of Socotra. The position of this isolated Arabian Sea island makes it a strategic outpost for the conduct of ongoing UAE military operations in Yemen as well as control of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the entrance, from the south, to the Red Sea. The two seemingly unrelated events are yet more evidence, for some, of a complicated game of chess between rival ideological and political blocs in the Middle East that now stretches into Africa. The Middle East region has been the scene, for decades, of political balancing acts amidst continuous power and influence scrambles due to its structural characteristics – a highly dynamic and amorphous regional system in which power relations are fluid and order is in short supply – and the lack of a clear regional hegemon. As noted by professor Fawaz Gerges, following the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, a “psychological and epistemological rupture” has occurred in the Middle East.[1] Although mostly limited to the domestic dimension of the states, these dynamics appear to have taken on an extra-regional dimension that increasingly feeds perceptions and narratives of shifting distributions of power. A wide range of academic and think tank literature has emphasized these changes in light of an emerging identity Cold War pitting conservative Sunni monarchies against a revolutionary Shi’a Iran. Recent security interactions across the Red Sea seem to form part of this intertwined rebalancing dynamic across the wider Middle East regional security complex (MERSC).
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Power Politics, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan, Turkey, Middle East, Horn of Africa
  • Author: Maddalena Procopio
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: As the first-ever Russia-Africa summit made headlines around the world in the past few weeks, the comparison between the Russian and the Chinese approach to Africa was recurrent. It originated in the fact that both China and Russia are not Western countries, both have seemingly ‘returned’ to Africa in the 21st century for economic and political reasons, both advocate a non-interference approach in the internal affairs of other countries and both are perceived as great powers in international relations. This makes them potentially able to shake the status quo and arouses paranoia, especially in the West, about their intentions and the consequences of their actions for Africa and other external actors. However, while there are similarities in China and Russia’s engagements with Africa, many more are the differences.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Soft Power
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia, Asia, Africa
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: LSE IDEAS
  • Abstract: This report, building on a workshop held at LSE IDEAS in December 2018 and supported by the Horizon 2020 UPTAKE and Global Challenges Research Fund COMPASS projects, brings together some of the UK’s foremost scholars on Russia, the EU and the post-Soviet space to evaluate the challenges and opportunities facing Russia’s 'Greater Eurasia’ foreign policy concept.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: India has recently exempted Iranian oil payments from taxes and fees, in a move aimed at fostering its relations with Tehran, in the wake of the US temporary waivers, in November, to India along with seven other countries from the sanctions on Iranian oil imports, in order to be able to develop the Iranian port of Chabahar. The US waivers have allowed India to resume trade and investment relations with Iran, albeit in a limited manner. However, despite the expected gains, economic relations between India and Iran will hinge on the extent to which the US administration will renew the waivers granted to the eight countries, to continue buying Iranian oil after the current grace period expires.
  • Topic: International Relations, Oil, Sanctions, Tax Systems
  • Political Geography: Iran, South Asia, Middle East, India, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Haim Koren
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: Haim Koren analyzes the ongoing relationship between Israel and South Sudan. From the beginning, it made strategic sense for Israel to provide military aid to rebels in South Sudan. This would serve as a useful distraction to Egypt and Sudan, and would open a new and vulnerable front against the Arab World. However, it wasn’t until the June 1967 war that Israel truly acted upon this opportunity, following Khartoum’s decision to support Egypt in that conflict. [1] Joseph Lago, then the leader of the South Sudanese Anya-Nya ("Viper Venom") guerrilla organization, appealed desperately to Israel, asking it to help in preventing integration of Sudanese units within the Egyptian army by pinning them down in an ongoing conflict with the fighters of South Sudan. This would carry a number of advantages for Israel, including strengthening Israel’s operational connections with Kenya and Ethiopia, which were states within Israel’s geo-strategic ‘second circle.’ Providing such aid would also carry moral weight: Israel would help a nation struggling for independence against what south Sudanese felt to be Islamic “tyranny.”
  • Topic: International Relations, Bilateral Relations, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan, Middle East, Israel, South Sudan
  • Author: Rina Bassist
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: Rina Bassist analyzes Morocco's motivations for joining the African Union, and the concomitant evolution of its regional policy.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, African Union
  • Political Geography: North Africa, Morocco, Africa
  • Author: Todd Estes, William E. Weeks, Walter L. Hixson, David C. Hendrickson, Jasper M. Trautsch
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: A Roundtable on Jasper M. Trautsch, The Genesis of America: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Formation of National Identity, 1793-1815
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Thomas J. Knock, Nicole M. Phelps, Jeremi Suri, Robert David Johnson, Ellen D. Tillman, Jack (John M.) Thompson
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: A Roundtable on John M. Thompson, Great Power Rising: Theodore Roosevelt and the Politics of U.S. Foreign Policy
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, History, American Presidency, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Amanda Demmer, Richard A. Moss, Scott Laderman, Luke A. Nichter, David F. Schmitz, Robert K. Brigham
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: A Roundtable on Robert K. Brigham, Reckless: Henry Kissinger and the Tragedy of Vietnam
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, War, History, Vietnam War, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: United States, Vietnam
  • Author: Calder Walton
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: Spies, poisonings, Russian election meddling, disinformation, FBI scandals, international terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, mass surveillance, cyber espionage, and data harvesting: the use and abuse of intelligence is one of the most contested and scrutinized subjects in contemporary news and current affairs. It generates almost daily news headlines across the globe. For anyone on social media, it often seems as if barely an hour passes without another spy scandal breaking. Such scandals are the subjects of many heated dinner-party conversations on university campuses.
  • Topic: International Relations, Intelligence, History, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States
  • Author: Katrina Ponti
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: I n its early years the United States, a nation attempting to distinguish itself from the monarchal norms of Europe, sought to arrange its own rules of foreign engagement. What was the diplomacy of a republic supposed to look like? Who would conduct the activities of foreign affairs? Thanks to the formidable digital project Founders Online a cooperative effort from the National Archives and the University of Virginia Press, one can begin to trace the development of American diplomacy through its first thirty fragile years, 1783–1812.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, History, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Laura Hein, Michael J. Hogan, Aaron O'Connell, Carolyn Eisenberg, Curt Cardwell, Grant Madsen
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: A Roundtable on Grant Madsen, Sovereign Soldiers: How the U.S. Military Transformed the Global Economy After World War II
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, History, World War II, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael B Greenwald
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: In the post-9/11 era, Washington has waged innovative campaigns against terrorism finance, sanctions evasion, and money laundering. Leveraging America’s heavyweight status in the international financial system, the United States Treasury has isolated and bankrupted rogue regimes, global terrorists, and their enablers. As financial technology transforms global business, the traditional financial system faces new competition across a suite of offerings, ranging from brokerage services to peer to peer lending. In no area is this clearer than in mobile payments, where a global hegemon lies ready to exercise its weight, and it is not the United States
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs, Financial Markets
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Zeliha Eliaçık
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: To the contrary of its relatively “new” relations with the United States of America, Turkey’s relations with the West have been established and continued via Europe since the period of the Ottoman Empire.1 The military alliance and cooperation initiated between Turkey and Germany in the late 19th century have gained a human dimension in the frame of the “Turkish Labor Force Agreement” signed upon the settlement of Turkish workers in Germany in the 20th century. Bilateral relations have been maintained without interruption despite occasional fluctuations in the intensity of these relations. Recently, the two countries have maintained closer ties as they both are affected by the U.S. sanctions and “trade wars.”
  • Topic: International Relations, International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Germany, Global Focus
  • Author: Malcolm Cook
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Australia’s dialogue partner relationship with ASEAN is more suitable for Australian interests in Southeast Asia than the idea of ASEAN membership. Australian membership in ASEAN is currently not possible. Australia’s dialogue partner relationship with ASEAN supports Australian policy autonomy and Australia’s engagement with Southeast Asia. The ASEAN–Australia dialogue partner relationship has significant room for growth.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Regional Cooperation, Partnerships, Regional Integration, Trade
  • Political Geography: Australia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Greg Colton
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Greater Australian engagement in the Pacific Islands region is needed if Canberra wants to ensure regional stability and underpin Australia’s national security. Inconsistent engagement by Australia, the United States, France and New Zealand in the Pacific Islands region has created space that non-traditional powers have exploited to engage with sovereign Pacific Island states. There is an increasing risk of geostrategic competition in the region, particularly with the growing influence of China and the economic leverage it holds over some indebted Pacific Island nations. The Australian Government should pursue a deliberate strategy of forging stronger links with its traditional partners in the region, and more equitable partnerships with its Pacific Island neighbours, if it is to underpin regional stability and strengthen Australia’s national security.
  • Topic: International Relations, National Security, Regional Cooperation, Geopolitics, Economy
  • Political Geography: China, France, Australia, Asia-Pacific, United States of America
  • Author: Mark Lutter, Karlijn L. A Roex, Daria Tisch
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Anomie and imitation have been prominent mechanisms explaining the Werther effect, i.e., the effect of celebrity suicides on a general population’s suicide rate. This study presents a new approach to empirically disentangle both mechanisms. Imitation theory suggests that celebrities act as role models, and that the Werther effect is triggered by the status of the celebrity in question. Anomie theory, on the other hand, suggests that the Werther effect is triggered by the unexpectedness of the event. To this end, we empirically compare the effects of celebrity suicides with the effects of celebrities who died unexpectedly from causes other than suicide (accidents, illnesses, alcohol abuse). Based on language and page-link data from 3,855 Wikipedia pages of 495 celebrities who committed suicide between 1960 and 2014, we measure the status a celebrity has in a particular country and calculate the potential country-specific imitation effect of their suicide. In the same manner, we measure status effects of celebrities who died unexpectedly from accidents, illnesses, or alcohol abuse to reflect anomie-related effects. We use these measures in a time-series cross-sectional dataset for 34 OECD countries to assess their effects on a country’s overall annual suicide rate. Fixed-effects analyses reveal that country-specific status effects of celebrity suicides lead to significant increases in overall suicide rates, while anomie-related, unexpected celebrity deaths show no effects. The findings remain robust across a number of alternative specifications, such as controlling for further anomic factors at the macro level (divorce or unemployment rate, for instance). We conclude that the results support the imitation mechanism as an essential social explanation for the Werther effect.
  • Topic: International Relations, Health
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Fred Strasser
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: As the U.S. seeks to advance its interests in South Asia 17 years into the Afghanistan war, a basic policy question unavoidably presents itself: How much leverage does America really have in the region?
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: America, South Asia
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Over the past decade, transnational and deadly violent extremist movements—such as ISIS, Boko Haram, the Taliban, and al-Shabab—have risen out of instability and conflicts and repeatedly inflamed and perpetuated hostilities. These movements recruit followers and destabilize regions by harnessing agendas and exploiting grievances such as social marginalization, political exclusion, state repression, and lack of access to justice and resources.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Misha Nagelmackers-Voinov
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Long considered a natural partner for peace through economic diplomacy and bilateral trade agreements, business has increasingly become ignored or demonised. The private sector comprises a wide diversity of organisations and is the part of the economy that is not run by a state, but by individuals and companies for profit. Small businesses/micro-companies serve as a good starting point for a conflict resolution process because they often constitute the only form of economic activity in a conflict zone. MNCs have a range of options to respond to conflict, but cannot openly take part in conflict resolution and peacebuilding initiatives, and rarely become involved officially. Track Two diplomacy is their more likely area of involvement. The United Nations has frequently supported the view that the private sector can be a powerful agent of change. However, the UN still engages only two players in conflict resolution and peacebuilding: civil society/NGOs and armed actors. UN peace operations have never been expressly mandated to consult with business or use its influence to build peace. Combining the resources, expertise and leverage of all possible actors would produce a more formidable force for peace. World affairs would benefit from integrating the private sector into a new UN system of governance; new routes are possible for a truly inclusive approach, recognising the business sector’s positive contribution to sustainable peace through informal mediation and collaborative engagement.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Economy, Business , Peace, Sustainability
  • Political Geography: United Nations, Global Focus
  • Author: Sarah Hellmüller , Marie-Joelle Zahar
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: On March 15, 2018, the Syrian armed conflict entered into its eighth year. Since 2011, attempts to facilitate a political solution to the Syrian conflict have either failed or stalled. Amidst this deadlock, one track that has not stalled is the civil society track. Against the odds, progress can be observed at this level as Syrian civil society has become better organized and more tightly interconnected, and as its voice in the process has grown stronger.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Iran has shown a particular interest in improving its bilateral relations with Turkey, mainly at the economic level. This was evident in the visit of Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, to Turkey, on December 20, to participate in the fifth session of the Supreme Council for Strategic Relations between the two countries, accompanied by a mostly economic delegation. Tehran believes that there are several factors, related to developments in the regional and international arenas over the past period, which can help achieve this goal, namely increasing the volume of trade between both countries to USD 30 billion. However, Iran’s betting on the Turkish role seems to have limits due to the ever-changing and unstable nature of Turkish policy, which casts doubts over the possibility of reaching such level of rapprochement.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Sanctions, Hassan Rouhani
  • Political Geography: Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Russia seems to be gearing for fresh efforts to reach new political arrangements in Syria, after the balance of power has shifted in favor of the Syrian regime. During a speech at the Valdai International Discussion Club at Sochi resort on October 18, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that his country achieved its goals in Syria. He noted that the Russian military intervention was aimed at fighting terrorism and preventing the fragmentation of Syrian territory, invoking the case of Somalia as a model that Russia prevented its recurrence in Syria, adding that the next stage will be devoted to settlement in the United Nations. However, this does not negate the fact that such efforts may encounter many challenges, over the key outstanding issues, foremost among is the position of the Syrian regime itself.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Politics, United Nations, Vladimir Putin
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Eurasia, Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: With the second batch of US sanctions on Iran, coming into effect today, the government of President Hassan Rouhani is taking preemptive measures to strengthen its ability to confront sanctions. It seeks to exploit the sanctions to endorse its candidates for the four ministerial portfolios whose ministers were dismissed in the past months, following a no-confidence vote in the Consultative Assembly.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Sanctions, Donald Trump, Hassan Rouhani
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The dynamics of the Middle East region have gained special attention from the three Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden and Denmark) over the past years. There are numerous indicators for this rising level of interest. The most prominent of which are the establishment of institutes for dialogue and cooperation, launching programs for the Danish-Arab partnership, opening Middle East studies center in a Swedish university, and hosting a new round of dialogue for the parties to the Yemeni conflict. Other indicators include providing funds to support future local elections in Libya, supporting non-governmental organizations aimed at assisting internal displaced persons and refugees through local integration or resettlement, and increasing financial incentives for refugees, who return to their home countries. There are various motives behind the Scandinavian interest in the region, including curbing refugee flows, preventing terrorist attacks, containing the threat of extremism, and confronting the Iranian threat.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Neutrality
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Scandinavia
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Iran is keen to maintain good relations with the European countries at the current stage because they can help it cope with US pressures. These relations gained added importance after the withdrawal of the US from the nuclear deal and the re-imposition of sanctions on Tehran. However, Iran has not changed some elements of its foreign policy, which continually widens the differences between it and European states and may eventually undercut its ability to contain the repercussions of the US sanctions, with the approaching date of the toughest batch of sanctions, set to start on November 5.
  • Topic: International Relations, Treaties and Agreements, Sanctions, European Union, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, France, Syria
  • Author: Kobi Michael, Gabi Siboni
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: The Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip is heavily engaged in preparations for a the “Great March of Return,” scheduled for May 14, 2018, when thousands of Gaza’s Palestinians will march toward the security fence and position themselves in tent cities along the Israeli border. The event is intended to highlight the Palestinian refugee issue and connect it to the plight of those living the Gaza Strip
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Gaza
  • Author: Yoel Guzansky, Kobi Michael
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: Qatar’s support for Hamas and its investment in the Gaza Strip, though based more on pragmatism than on ideological identification, suit its foreign policy, which supports political Islam and aims to increase Doha’s influence in the Middle East.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • 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: 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