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  • Author: Olivier Appert
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: The 14 July 2015 Vienna agreement on Iran’s nuclear activities (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – JCPoA) was a game changer on the geopolitics in the Middle East and for the oil market. The oil sanctions were lifted and Iran increased significantly its production and exports. On 8 May 2018, President Trump announced that the United Stated (US) would withdraw from the agreement. Financial sanctions were reintroduced. From 5 November 2018 onwards, further sanctions will be re-imposed more specifically on petroleum related transactions, including the purchase of petroleum, petroleum products and petrochemical products. What could be the impact of this new embargo? Is there a risk of a new oil supply and price shock?
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Oil, Treaties and Agreements, Sanctions, Global Markets
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Isabelle Rousseau
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: Mexico’s Energy Reform (hereafter, the Reform) enacted on December 20th 2013, and the Secondary Laws adopted on August 11th 2014, marked a milestone in the history and the development of the Mexican energy sector. These major changes were unexpected considering that multiple sectorial reforms pursued since the 1990s had systemically failed to address the structural problems which had been mounting over the years.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Governance, Reform, Legislation, Investment
  • Political Geography: Central America, Mexico
  • Author: Anna Fichtmüller
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: The middle classes have at times been heralded to be a guarantee for democracy. Studies that find a positive correlation (which should not be confused with causation) often use national economic data as a proxy for class and compare it to the current regime type. Beyond the recurrent problem of a lack of a common definition of the term “middle class”, these studies fail to provide insights into how the concerned groups think, and even more so, act, which raises foremost questions: how does “democratic” thinking and acting manifest itself, particularly in a non-democratic regime? Is voting in an authoritarian system an expression of a democratic right or a legitimization of a regime that holds elections as a mere lip service? Is the decision not to participate in a demonstration for free elections, a silent confirmation of the current regime, even if one has to fear violent repercussions? However, studies, which highlight the ambivalent attitude of the middle class towards the regime rely on more ethnographic data and, thus, succeed in painting a more nuanced picture.Scrutinizing the attitudes and behaviors of members of the Ugandan middle class can help shed some light into the black box “middle class”. We can observe that indeed, the middle class has a critical stance on the current regime, which is becoming increasingly authoritarian. However, this does rarely lead to any actions that could give rise to democratic reforms or regime change. Instead, political pragmatism seems to prevail. Fault lines, which do exist, seem to run along with other criteria than class.
  • Topic: Politics, Elections, Democracy, Protests, Class
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa
  • Author: Vedran Dzihic
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Austrian Institute for International Affairs (OIIP)
  • Abstract: The internal weaknesses of the process of democratisation in the Western Balkans ensue from reinforcing a system where (ethno)politics and (ethno)political entre-preneurs use all available strategies to deprive citizens of any political agency, thus working towards obedient democracies while keeping real political power within closed circles. The conscious deepening of differences, maintaining negative tensions and instrumentalising – predominantly ethnic – identities for political or other particular purposes are some of the crucial features of (ethno)politics in the Western Balkans.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Balkans
  • Author: Richard Nephew
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Center on Global Energy Policy
  • Abstract: The president’s recent statement that OPEC should reduce their prices may merely be an attempt to assign blame for rising gasoline prices in the midst of the US driving season or an even more cynical attempt to rally his political base in opposition to globalism. Or, it may have something to do with the president’s own decision to create a crisis with Iran. While attention is duly paid to how much Americans have to pay at the pump, a more subtle and complicated story will soon play out with respect to Iran and the reapplication of US sanctions ordered by Trump on May 8, 2018. In fact, unless oil prices are contained, the primary result of the president’s action may be to ensure that Iran profits from the oil market risks that sanctions have created.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Geopolitics, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: America, Iran, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Asia Society Policy Institute
  • Abstract: HISTORY TEACHES US THAT PICKING WHEN ONE AGE ENDS AND ANOTHER BEGINS is a tricky business. None of us has the powers of reflection, perception, or anticipation to identify when certain tipping points of historical significance are reached. And when we reach such conclusions, it’s usually with the full benefit of 20/20 hindsight, which for those of us working in the rarefied world of contemporary public policy is not particularly useful
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • 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: James Kadtke
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Marine Corps University Press, National Defense University
  • Abstract: Rapid globalization of science and technology (S&T) capacity presents a serious and long-term risk to the military and economic security of the United States. To maintain U.S. preeminence, our domestic science and technology enterprise requires a new paradigm to make it more agile, synchronized, and globally engaged. U.S. technological competitiveness depends not only on research but also on legal, economic, regulatory, ethical, moral, and social frameworks, and therefore requires the vision and cooperation of our political, corporate, and civil society leadership. Re-organizing our domestic S&T enterprise will be a complex task, but recommendations presented in this paper could be first steps on the path to maintaining our future technological security.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ian Anthony
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: International Centre for Defence and Security - ICSD
  • Abstract: On 11-12 July 2018, the heads of state and government of the North Atlantic Alliance met in Brussels. Political and public attention centred almost exclusively on the Allies’ defence expenditure, the issue of spending 2% of national GDPs on defence, and President Donald Trump’s criticism of Canada and European nations. The political agenda of the summit, however, and the range of decisions taken there, was much broader and much more substantial. It was the third summit in a row since 2014 that dealt with NATO’s far-reaching and long-term adaptation to the fundamentally changed security environment since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the illegal occupation of Crimea, as well as the emergence of the terrorist organisation ISIL/Daesh. The Wales summit of 2014 adopted the Readiness Action Plan (RAP) as an initial response to Russia’s aggressive posture.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jonatan Vseviov
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: International Centre for Defence and Security - ICSD
  • Abstract: Jonatan Vesviov is the Estonian Ambassador to the US. Before this he worked in the Estonian Ministry of Defence for 10 years. He served as Director of the Policy Planning Department, the ministry’s representative in the Washington embassy, acting and later substantive Undersecretary for Defence Planning, and for two and a half years, Permanent Secretary. This decade saw tumultuous developments in the international situation—the Russian offensive against Georgia, intervention in Syria, the occupation and annexation of the Crimea and ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine in the east of the country. Reorganisation within NATO to respond to Russian behaviour, part of which was the deployment of allied forces to the eastern border of the Alliance, also occurred during this period.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus