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  • Author: Michael McFaul
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: President-elect Joseph R. Biden has an opportunity to forge a bipartisan, sustained grand U.S. strategy for Russia. With decades of experience in foreign affairs, especially transatlantic relations, he knows Russia, he knows Vladimir Putin and, equally important, he knows the region. When I worked at the National Security Council during the Barack Obama administration, I traveled with then-Vice President Biden to Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova and Russia. Unlike his immediate predecessor, President Biden rightfully will not try to befriend Putin. He and his expert team of foreign policy advisors understand that the central objective in U.S. policy towards Russia today is to contain Putin’s belligerent behavior abroad. At the same time, the incoming Biden administration offers the U.S. a chance to develop a more predictable pattern of bilateral relations with the Russian government and Russian people, supported by Republicans and Democrats alike. After relations with China, competing with Russia is the second-greatest foreign policy challenge of our time, complicated by the fact that China and Russia today are closer to each other now than they were during the Cold War. To successfully achieve American objectives will require the implementation of a comprehensive, sophisticated and nuanced strategy for containing Putin’s belligerent actions abroad and simultaneously cooperating with Moscow on a small set of issues of mutual benefit.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Conflict, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Greg Delawie
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008, is the most pro-American country in the world. From 2012 to 2013, it was also the world’s per-capita biggest source of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) in Syria. It would seem those two statements could not possibly both be true, but they are. This is the story of how the professional diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Pristina, aided by experts from the United States, played a major role in helping the new country bring the FTF problem under control for our mutual benefit. Between 2012 (when the Syrian civil war started) and 2016, more than 300 Kosovo citizens went to fight with al-Nusra, or ISIS. U.N. Development Program analysts who interviewed FTFs identified two categories of reasons for this phenomenon: “push factors” and “pull factors.” Among the push factors were Kosovo’s poverty, weak rule of law (enabling porous borders), corruption and high unemployment, especially among the young (60%, compared to 30% overall, in a population with 50% age 25 or younger). The pull factors were more complicated: After the 1998-1999 Kosovo war, “humanitarian” NGOs from the Middle East came to build mosques and provide aid, also importing Wahabi-style Islam, which is very different from Kosovo’s Hanafi Islamic tradition. Some Kosovo imams trained in Middle Eastern religious schools came back with a more radical Islam. ISIS recruiters proclaimed a religious duty for Kosovars to help Syrian Muslims threatened by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Radical imams operating outside the Kosovo Islamic community recruited young men, often offering computer or English classes as bait.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Conflict, Rule of Law
  • Political Geography: Europe, Kosovo, Balkans
  • Author: Heni Nsaibia, Caleb Weiss, Seth Loertscher, Nick Kramer, Robin Simcox, Hannah Stuart, Amarnath Amarasingam, Marc-Andre Argentino
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: Earlier this month, the United Nations monitoring team that tracks the global jihadi threat warned the Security Council that “ISIL franchises in West Africa and the Sahel continued to enjoy operational success in early 2020, as have those of Al-Qaida, heightening international concern about stability in the region.” Concern over the threat has grown despite the fact that a year ago clashes erupted between the Islamic State and al-Qa`ida franchises in the region, turning what had been an often amicable and sometimes cooperative relationship into fighting between them in Mali and Burkina Faso. In our feature article, Héni Nsaibia and Caleb Weiss assess that a number of factors ended the “Sahelian anomaly” of amicable relations between the regional Islamic State and al-Qa`ida groupings, “including the hardening of ideological divisions, pressure from Islamic State Central for its regional satellite to take on a more confrontational approach toward its rival, and tensions created by the growing ambition of the Islamic State affiliate in the Sahel.” They note that “while some argue that fighting between jihadi groups is positive for the counterterrorism landscape, it is also possible that the two groups are in effect engaging in a process called ‘outbidding,’ wherein a group aims to show ‘greater resolve to fight the enemy than rival groups.’” Our interview is with Chris Costa, who during the first year of the Trump administration served as the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Counterterrorism. Building on a study of terrorist recidivism in Belgium by Thomas Renard published in the April issue of CTC Sentinel, Robin Simcox and Hannah Stuart examine the problem set created by jihadi prisoners in Europe from two different angles. Firstly, they examine the nature of the threat by analyzing a dozen alleged jihadi terror plots and attacks that occurred inside and outside prisons in Western Europe since 2014 in which at least one of the attackers/plotters had been convicted in Europe of a previous terrorism offense. Secondly, they look at the scale of the threat by calculating the rates of various forms of recidivism from a comprehensive database relating to U.K. jihadi terror activity. Amarnath Amarasingam and Marc-André Argentino assess the emerging security threat posed by the QAnon conspiracy. They write: “A survey of cases of individuals who have allegedly or apparently been radicalized to criminal acts with a nexus to violence by QAnon, including one case that saw a guilty plea on a terrorism charge, makes clear that QAnon represents a public security threat with the potential in the future to become a more impactful domestic terror threat. This is true especially given that conspiracy theories have a track record of propelling terrorist violence elsewhere in the West as well as QAnon’s more recent influence on mainstream political discourse.”
  • Topic: Terrorism, Prisons/Penal Systems, Counter-terrorism, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Conflict, QAnon
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Sahel, United States of America
  • Author: J. Kenneth Wickiser, Kevin J. O'Donovan, Michael Washington, Stephen Hummel, F. John Burpo, Raffaello Pantucci, Nuno Tiago Pinto, Tomasz Rolbiecki, Pieter Van Ostaeyen, Charlie Winter
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has renewed concerns over bioterror threats, with Microsoft founder Bill Gates recently warning that a bioterror attack involving a pathogen with a high death rate “is kind of the nightmare scenario” facing the planet. In this month’s feature article, J. Kenneth Wickiser, Kevin J. O’Donovan, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Washington, Major Stephen Hummel, and Colonel F. John Burpo assess the potential future threat posed by the malevolent use of synthetic biology. They write that synthetic biology “is a rapidly developing and diffusing technology. The wide availability of the protocols, procedures, and techniques necessary to produce and modify living organisms combined with an exponential increase in the availability of genetic data is leading to a revolution in science affecting the threat landscape that can be rivaled only by the development of the atomic bomb.” The authors, who all serve at, or are affiliated with, the Department of Chemistry and Life Science at the United States Military Academy, note that synthetic biology has “placed the ability to recreate some of the deadliest infectious diseases known well within the grasp of the state-sponsored terrorist and the talented non-state actor” and that “the techniques used to propagate bacteria and viruses and to cut and paste genetic sequences from one organism to another are approaching the level of skill required to use a cookbook or a home computer.” They argue that “an effective response to the threats posed by those using synthetic biology for nefarious purpose will require vigilance on the part of military planners, the development of effective medical countermeasures by the research community, and the development of diagnostic and characterization technologies capable of discriminating between natural and engineered pathogens.” In our interview, Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union’s longtime Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, speaks to Raffaello Pantucci. Nuno Pinto presents a detailed case study of an alleged Portuguese Islamic State network with strong connections to the United Kingdom that sheds significant light on the foreign fighter recruitment pipeline between Europe and Syria in the last decade. Tomasz Rolbiecki, Pieter Van Ostaeyen, and Charlie Winter examine the threat posed by the Islamic State across Africa based on a study of its attack claims. They write: “As the second half of 2020 unfolds, it is critical that military and counterterrorism policymakers recognize what is at stake in Africa. The Islamic State is not just fighting a low-grade insurgency on the continent; in at least two countries, it has been able to seize and hold territory and subsequently engage in pseudo-state activities.”
  • Topic: Terrorism, European Union, Counter-terrorism, Weapons , Islamic State, Biological Weapons , Foreign Fighters
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Middle East, Syria, Portugal
  • Author: O. Lebedeva
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs: A Russian Journal of World Politics, Diplomacy and International Relations
  • Institution: East View Information Services
  • Abstract: ThE DISINTEGRATION of the Soviet Union has led to a new geopolit- ical zone appearing on the world map – the so-called post-Soviet space where Russia plays a dominant role even though post-Soviet countries have different development paths, political regimes and economies. Amid the escalating relations between Russia and the West, the pressing prob- lem for Russia right now is to build relations with its immediate neigh- bors. Therefore, maintaining diplomatic relations with post-Soviet coun- tries is an important geopolitical goal for Russia, since this is a zone of strategic economic and political interests. however, not only Russia is interested in establishing strong diplomatic ties but also former Soviet countries. This is largely because Russia is at the center of the post-Soviet space, with many countries, including EaEU member states, pursuing trade and economic relations via Russia.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Conflict, Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia, Post-Soviet Europe
  • Author: Ye. Zinkov
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs: A Russian Journal of World Politics, Diplomacy and International Relations
  • Institution: East View Information Services
  • Abstract: ThE PROBLEM of the acquisition and sale of Alaska, and to whom it belongs, excites the minds of researchers to this day. There are supposi- tions that once the first Russians had traversed Siberia, they settled in Alaska during the second half of the 16th century.1 The next period, in which Alaska gets mentioned by Russian people, dates to 1648, in connection with the names of the Cossack Semyon Dezhnev and his associate Fedot Popov, who circumvented the Asian continent, then passed from the Arctic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean basin.2 Later on, an official expedition was organized; its commander, Vitus Bering, announced in 1728 his discovery that Asia and America did not have a land bridge between them.3 The first legal documentation of Alaska’s coastline took place on August 21, 1732, when the crew of the St. Gabriel, under the leadership of surveyor Mikhail Gvozdev and navigator Ivan Fyodorov (or K. Moshkov, according to other sources), recorded its contours without going ashore. From this date began the jurisdictional affiliation of Alaska with the Russian Empire. however, the territory for a long time contin- ued to be developed on the basis of civil law. The bureaucrats of the Russian Empire did not duly administer the land in Alaska. This situation contributed to the consolidation of legal relations within civil society on the territory along the lines of the Novgorod Republic.
  • Topic: International Law, Law, Land, Jurisdiction
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, North America, Alaska, United States of America
  • Author: Sergey Ryabkov
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs: A Russian Journal of World Politics, Diplomacy and International Relations
  • Institution: East View Information Services
  • Abstract: Interview with Sergey Ryabkov, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, World Health Organization, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: D. Demurin
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs: A Russian Journal of World Politics, Diplomacy and International Relations
  • Institution: East View Information Services
  • Abstract: The Approaching 75th anniversary of the end of World War II gave a new lease of life to the so-called “memory wars.” On September 19, 2019, the European Parliament passed a resolution “On the importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe”1 that, among other things, shifted the burden of equal responsibility for World War II onto Germany and the USSR. The same document accuses Moscow of decades of occupation of Eastern Europe which slowed down their socio-economic and democratic development and suggests another Nuremberg tribunal to conduct legal inquiries into the crimes of “Stalinism,” etc. On the whole, this document is the fullest presentation of what the Western political elites think about the Soviet Union and its role in World War II. On December 20, 2019, speaking at an informal summit of the CIS countries, President of Russia Vladimir Putin presented convincing evi- dence of falsification by our Western colleagues of the facts related to the beginning of World War II including documents that unequivocally con- firmed the responsibility of West European countries that had encouraged Hitler to spread his expansion eastward and Poland’s unsavory role in the division of Czechoslovakia. This stirred up an extremely negative response by many European politicians and political scientists who raised their voices against what they called revisionist history. At the same time, it should be said that this resolution did not drop out of the sky – it was a result of many years of efforts of the European establishment to transform the European historical space.
  • Topic: History, Memory, World War II
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: F. Michael Wuthrich, David Ingleby
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Democracy
  • Institution: National Endowment for Democracy
  • Abstract: Drawing from the 2019 mayoral elections in Turkey, this paper highlights a path that opposition parties might take to defuse polarized environments and avoid playing into the political traps set by populists in power. The particular type of moral and amplified polarization that accompanies populism’s essential “thin” ideology builds a barrier between a populist’s supporters and the opposition. Yet the CHP opposition in Turkey has recently won notable victories with its new campaign approach of “radical love,” which counteracts populism’s polarizing logic and has exposed Erdoğan’s weakness.
  • Topic: Elections, Democracy, Populism, Authority
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Asia
  • Author: Alberto Gasparetto
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Rest: Journal of Politics and Development
  • Institution: Centre for Strategic Research and Analysis (CESRAN)
  • Abstract: This paper focuses on Turkey’s foreign policymakers’ attitudes in the context of the 2003 US decision to wage war against Iraq. The main goal is to assess and downplay the impact of religion in relation to security-related concerns. Drawing on official speeches, interviews, declarations by key figures in the foreign policy process, the paper argues that religion is nothing more than an intervening factor in the case of Turkey’s approach to the 2003 war in Iraq. Therefore, notwithstanding the role of Islamist elites in the foreign policy decision-making of Turkey, Turkey’s foreign affairs were rather inspired by realist behaviour, driven by pragmatic considerations, aimed at pursuing rationalist goals.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, War, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, North America, United States of America