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  • Author: Leah Mason, Jodi Sanger
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute of International Education
  • Abstract: This paper explores U.S. government scholarship opportunities available to U.S. students interested in an international experience, highlighting different sponsoring agencies. It analyzes how the scholarships support U.S. government programming goals of encouraging citizen diplomacy, strengthening national security, and building a globalized workforce. Case studies presented in this paper demonstrate the contributions of U.S. government scholarship programs to study abroad and the international experiences of U.S. students.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Education, Globalization, Government, National Security, Study Abroad
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Abdullah Al-Arian
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: Prof. Abdullah Al-Arian discusses how Islamist movements have historically viewed diplomacy as important to their activist missions.
  • Topic: International Relations, Cold War, Diplomacy, Politics, History, Islamism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North America, Egypt, United States of America
  • Author: Ksenia Svetlova
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: In the few months that have passed since the signing of the historical Abraham Accords, Israel and the UAE have opened embassies and exchanged ambassadors, launched direct flights between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi, hosted dozens of businesses, cultural and academic delegations (among them a high-ranking Emirati delegation led by the UAE ministers of finance and economy), and facilitated visits of thousands of Israeli tourists to Dubai. Universities and think tanks from both countries have established connections, and news outlets have launched different forms of cooperation. Israel, the UAE, and the US set an investment fund worth 3 billion USD (the fund is not operational yet) and banks on both sides established agreements on financial services. The scope of activity between the two countries is impressive, and it seems that in case of Israel and the UAE, the seeds of peace have fallen on fertile ground, mainly due to high level of economic development and mutual geopolitical interests and concerns, such as the Iranian threat (although both sides evaluate and treat it differently).Today, it is almost impossible to imagine that just a few years ago Israeli athletes were only allowed to compete in the UAE if they agreed to participate without their national flag or national anthem sung at the closing ceremony. Why is it that the peace between Israel and the UAE appears to be such a stark contrast from previous peace agreements that Israel has signed with other Arab countries? Several factors have facilitated the newly established relationship: the positive image of the UAE in Israel; the lack of past hostilities, casualties, and territorial demands between the two countries; the unofficial ties forged long before the official recognition; the many mutual interests that seem to be aligned together; and the right timing that allowed for this bold and important development. Will the parties be able to maintain a similar level of enthusiasm also when the honeymoon stage passes? How will the two countries deal with various regional and international challenges? This paper presents an Israeli perspective on the first months of the relationship between Israel and UAE, and looks at prospects for the near future of these relations.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Economy, Peace, Abraham Accords
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, UAE
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: The year 2020 was characterized by the intensification of US-China confrontation and strategic competition, which had been pointed out in the Strategic Annual Report 2019, in all areas from military and security affairs as well as dominance in advanced technologies and supply chains to narratives on coronavirus responses. Amid this confrontation, the rules-based international order faced even more severe challenges; the multilateral framework established after World War II with the United Nations at its core lost its US leadership and fell into serious dysfunction. While the international community is struggling to cope with the rapidly expanding outbreak of the novel coronavirus, China has been moving to expand its influence through increasingly authoritarian and assertive domestic and international policies on the rule of law and territorial issues, as well as through economic initiatives such as the existing “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) and its responses to the pandemic. The confrontation with the United States is becoming more and more pronounced, and the Indo-Pacific region is turning itself into divided and contested oceans. In this transforming strategic environment, expressions of support for the vision of a rulesbased “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) that Japan has been promoting for the past several years, or announcements of similar visions have followed one after the other. The year 2020 also saw significant strengthening of the cooperative framework among four countries – Japan, the United States, Australia, and India (QUAD) – together with the enhancement of bilateral cooperation between countries in this group. At the same time, progress was also made in a regional cooperation framework that includes China with the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement in East Asia. The Strategic Annual Report 2020 looks back at major international developments since last year’s Report through the end of 2020, focusing on the transformation of the strategic environment in the Indo-Pacific region and the response of the international community.
  • Topic: International Relations, Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Science and Technology, Bilateral Relations, Multilateralism, COVID-19, Destabilization
  • Political Geography: Russia, Japan, China, Middle East, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Yuki Tatsumi
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: Abe Shinzo is the longest-serving prime minister in post-World War II Japan. Having occupied the office since December 2012, Abe has attempted to leverage his stable tenure to increase Japan’s international presence. In particular, Abe has tried to reshape the way Japan conducts its foreign policy, from being responsive to proactive. “A proactive contribution to peace with international principle” or chikyushugi o fukansuru gaiko (diplomacy that takes a panoramic view of the world map) symbolizes his government’s approach, part of an earnest attempt to remain relevant on the international scene even as the country grapples with irreversible trends including population decline and aging.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia
  • Author: Malcolm Davis, Khwezi Nkwanyana
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: Earlier this year, ASPI and the Embassy of Japan in Australia convened a hybrid workshop on responsible behaviours in space; a concept which has emerged as a key focus of the international space policy community. At the workshop, participants discussed the stable and sustainable use of space and management of security challenges in space, and ways to define responsible behaviour in space, including through UN General Assembly Resolution 75/36. Participants at this workshop included academics, practitioners, government representatives, military personnel and legal experts from Australia, Japan, Britain and Southeast Asia. This workshop and report were sponsored by the Embassy of Japan in Australia.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Diplomacy, National Security, Science and Technology, Space
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, Australia
  • Author: Christine Hübner, Jan Eichhorn, Luuk Molthof, Srđan Cvijić
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Open Society Foundations
  • Abstract: France is one of the European countries with the highest rates of popular disapproval of countries in the Western Balkans joining the European Union. What is this disapproval based on, and how important is the issue of EU enlargement in the Western Balkans for people in France? Using a combination of 2020 survey data representative of the adult French population and in-depth focus groups with French voters, this report offers a comprehensive insight into the views of the French on whether or not the countries of the Western Balkans should join the European Union.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements, European Union, Regional Integration
  • Political Geography: Europe, France, Balkans
  • Author: Kelsey Davenport, Julia Masterson
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Arms Control Association
  • Abstract: Addressing the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons is one of the most significant and complex challenges facing the United States. Developing, implementing, and sustaining a verifiable diplomatic process that reduces risk and rolls back Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program requires a whole of government approach, including constructive contributions from members of the U.S. Congress. While crafting and implementing such an approach will be the prerogative of the Executive Branch, the role that Congress can play in supporting or hindering such a process should not be overlooked. Congress has used an array of tools to put in place conditions for negotiations, express its support or opposition to administration policy, and implement coercive measures toward North Korea designed to punish Pyongyang for its violations of international law and stymie its weapons development efforts. Using survey data and in-depth interviews from the late months of 2020, this report provides insight into how Congress views the North Korean nuclear threat and U.S. approaches to engaging with Pyongyang. More clarity into Congressional views and attitudes may lead to more effective policymaking.
  • Topic: Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Helen McEntee
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: On December 5, 2019, Georgetown University welcomed Ireland’s Minister of State for European Affairs, Helen McEntee, to the conference “Bridging the Atlantic: Ireland’s Role in EU-US Relations after Brexit.” Following the event, GJIA and The Europe Desk sat down with Minister McEntee to discuss the Good Friday Agreement, Brexit, and transatlantic relations. The Europe Desk is a podcast launched by the BMW Center for German and European Studies where leading experts discuss the most pertinent issues facing Europe and transatlantic cooperation today.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Negotiation, Interview
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, Ireland
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: What’s new? Deadly July 2020 clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces left dozens dead, civilians among them, and forced villagers to flee their homes on the Armenia-Azerbaijan state border. Shooting across the trenches along the border is more frequent today than anywhere else on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict’s front lines. Why does it matter? Efforts by Baku and Yerevan, including through limited diplomacy, a communication channel set up in 2018 and an agreement between the two sides to safeguard farmers, have largely failed to create conditions that would deter people from leaving border areas. Violence there also risks permanently damaging wider peace efforts. What should be done? The two sides should use the communication channel to warn each other about planned engineering works or other activities that might be misconstrued and lead to escalation. They should begin talks on limited cooperation to allow farmers to harvest crops, repair water networks and clear mines.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Territorial Disputes, Conflict, Violence, Peace
  • Political Geography: Caucasus, Armenia, Azerbaijan
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: What’s new? Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy came to power in 2019 promising to bring peace to Ukraine’s Donbas region, where government and Russian-backed separatist forces are locked in low-level combat. Yet a full, sustained ceasefire remains elusive. Although casualties have dropped from their 2014-2015 peak, fighting continues to kill soldiers and civilians. Why does it matter? Each of the warring parties wants a ceasefire but only if it will lead to peace on its own terms. All prefer to tolerate continued fighting rather than stop the shooting under conditions they deem unfavourable. What should be done? A comprehensive ceasefire is likely unattainable under today’s political conditions. In its absence, the parties should pursue sectoral bilateral disengagements with clear humanitarian and related goals, even as they seek a durable political settlement through talks.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Territorial Disputes, Peace, Armed Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Ukraine, Eastern Europe
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: What’s new? A U.S. resolution seeking to extend UN arms restrictions on Iran beyond their October 2020 expiration failed at the Security Council. Washington has asserted that it will claim the right to unilaterally restore UN sanctions, which were terminated as part of the 2015 nuclear agreement. Why does it matter? Any U.S. attempt to reimpose sanctions will be controversial, given the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and likely to create deadlock at the Security Council. The administration’s goal is clear: kill the deal or make it that much harder for a successor administration to rejoin it. What should be done? The remaining parties to the deal should be united in resisting Washington’s efforts, as should other Security Council members. They should essentially disregard a U.S. “snapback” – restoring sanctions – as ineffectual, obstruct attempts to implement it and discourage Iran from overreacting to what will end up being a symbolic U.S. move.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, United Nations, Sanctions, UN Security Council
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: What’s new? A COVID-19 outbreak has injected new energy into diplomatic efforts to end Yemen’s regionalised civil war, now in its sixth year. But the parties remain stubbornly opposed to compromise and the UN’s two-party mediation framework no longer provides a realistic pathway to peace given the country’s political and military fragmentation. Why does it matter? The war has killed more than 112,000 people and has left 24 million in need of some form of humanitarian assistance. The pandemic could further decimate a population lacking access to health care and particularly vulnerable due to malnutrition. The worst may be prevented if the war can be halted. What should be done? The Yemeni government and Huthis should right-size expectations regarding a political settlement and accept inclusion of other political and armed factions in UN-led negotiations. The UN Security Council should draft a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire and inclusive settlement and table it if the parties stick to their positions.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Peace, Humanitarian Crisis, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Yemen, Gulf Nations
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: For years, Gulf powers have mulled the notion of regional dialogue to calm existing crises and head off new ones. Today, with several active Middle Eastern conflicts, all sensitive to rising U.S.-Iran tensions, it is an idea whose time has come. What’s new?* Middle East tensions spiked in the past year following attacks on oil tankers and Saudi oil facilities, the U.S. killing of a senior Iranian commander and Iranian military retaliation. Some of Washington’s allies, losing confidence the U.S. will reliably extend military protection, have started making cautious diplomatic overtures to Iran. Why does it matter? While these tentative steps toward de-escalation are welcome, they risk being inadequate, particularly in the absence of regular, high-level communication channels among potential conflict actors. Existing UN-led mechanisms for resolving individual conflicts, such as Yemen, are worthwhile but insufficient to lessen region-wide tensions. What should be done? Diplomatic efforts are needed to both de-escalate tensions and make progress toward resolving regional conflicts. Gulf actors, supported by external stakeholders, should consider launching an inclusive sub-regional dialogue aimed at reducing the risk of inadvertent conflict by opening new communication channels.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: In the years right after apartheid fell, South Africa was a leader in continental diplomacy, brokering peace accords and bolstering multilateral institutions. Its role subsequently diminished, but today it is well placed to make a positive difference in several trouble spots. What’s new? Midway through its term on the UN Security Council, and having just become chair of the African Union, the South African government led by Cyril Ramaphosa has a strong platform from which to reassert Pretoria’s continental leadership in efforts to mitigate Africa’s violent conflicts. Why does it matter? As Africa deals with more challenges to regional stability than it can readily handle, South Africa’s re-emergence as a leader in conflict prevention would be good for Pretoria, good for a continent that continues to prefer African solutions to African problems and good for the people of conflict-affected areas. What should be done? South Africa should enhance its focus on Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, which lie at the intersection of national, AU and UN priorities. Pretoria should also redouble efforts to steer neighbouring Zimbabwe away from crisis.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Africa, South Africa, Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Author: Jakob Lindgaard, Moritz Pieper, Cecilie Felicia Stokholm Banke
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Turkey-NATO relations are still sufficiently strong to keep the relationship from the brink, a new DIIS-report finds. But more dynamics are also gaining strength to render further troubles increasingly likely. The future of Turkey’s NATO membership has been the subject of heated debate of late, from both outside and within Turkey. What ramifications will Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 surface-to-air anti-missile system have for Turkey’s NATO future? Has the Syrian conflict exposed deep strategic differences between Turkey and other key NATO members? In response to such questions, a number of foreign policy practitioners as well as researchers and long-standing Turkey watchers have cautioned that a number of centripetal forces – dynamics that keep member states together - remain sufficiently strong at a structural level to keep Turkey-NATO relations on track. There seems to be widespread agreement on both sides that the alternative is simply worse. At the same time, the report also argues that these centripetal forces are losing their strength, and that centrifugal forces pulling the alliance apart are gaining strength and salience. Barring wild card developments, the net result is that this will increase the likelihood of further troubles ahead for Turkey-NATO relations The report is based on an analysis of the published policy commentary, scholarly literature, as well as a series of semi-structured interviews conducted with practitioners and academic experts during the course of 2019.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, International Organization
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Turkey, Middle East, Denmark
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Turkey, Russia, and Washington have compelling reasons to welcome a new ceasefire agreement, however imperfect, but they still need to address the longer-term dangers posed by the Assad regime’s murderously maximalist strategy. Recent fighting between Turkish and Syrian regime forces in Idlib province has seemingly wiped away the last vestiges of the September 2018 Sochi agreement, brokered by Russian president Vladimir Putin as a way of pausing hostilities and dividing control over the country’s last rebel-held province. Beginning last December, renewed Russian and Syrian attacks against civilians sent a million residents fleeing toward the Turkish border, creating another humanitarian disaster. Then, on February 27, thirty-three Turkish soldiers were killed when their unit was attacked in Idlib—Ankara’s largest single-day loss in Syria thus far. Turkey initially blamed Bashar al-Assad for the deaths, but eyes soon turned to his Russian patron as the more likely culprit, elevating tensions between Ankara and Moscow to a level not seen since Turkish forces shot down a Russian plane in November 2015. Meanwhile, the Turkish military and its local partner forces launched a string of attacks against the Syrian regime and its Iranian-backed militia allies. On March 5, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet with Putin in Moscow to discuss these rising tensions. If the two leaders reach another ceasefire deal, will it last any longer than the short-lived Sochi agreement? More important, what effect might it have on the latest refugee crisis threatening to wash over Turkey and Europe?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Syrian War, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, United States of America, Idlib
  • Author: Van Jackson
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: To help U.S. policymakers better manage the myriad risks they face on the Korean Peninsula, this report assesses whether and how to pursue national security diplomacy with North Korea. This concept of engagement responds to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020 regarding the benefits and risks for U.S. national security. Persistent engagement with North Korea’s national security elites, the report argues, is a policy wager with a large potential upside and very little cost and risk.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Migration, National Security, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Jacob Stokes
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: China’s foreign policy is expanding in scope and depth and now reaches across the globe. Yet its diplomatic efforts focus on its own complex neighborhood. To advance these interests, China’s leaders practice an interlocking set of foreign affairs activities they refer to as “periphery diplomacy.” This report details the main tools Beijing uses to engage the countries with which it shares borders, assesses the campaign’s effectiveness, and lays out the implications for peace and security in Asia.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Diplomacy, Peace
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Vibeke Schou Tjalve, Minda Holm
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In this policy note, we explore the nature, strength and tensions of the contemporary US-Central Eastern Europe relationship. We describe the expanding US-CEE ‘brotherhood in arms’: growing trade relations, intensified military cooperation, and rekindled diplomatic ties. Further, we unpack the striking and largely ignored dimensions of the US-CEE ‘brotherhood in faith’: the many ways in which the United States and Central and Eastern Europe are tied together by overlapping ideologies of national conservatism and a particular version of Christian ‘family values’. This involves addressing the complexities of an increasingly influential and ambitious Visegrád Group, whose key players – Poland and Hungary – may be brothers, but are by no means twins. It also means raising some broader, burning discussions about the future of NATO and the meaning of ‘Europe’. Universalist, multicultural and postnational? Or conservative, Christian and sovereigntist?
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Conservatism, Alliance, Ideology, Christianity, Trade Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Eastern Europe, Central Europe
  • Author: Karol Wasilewski
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Turkey has sent aid to fight the COVID-19 pandemic to more than 20 countries. Although the gesture has a humanitarian dimension, it is also calculated to achieve political and economic benefits in the future. The challenge to these plans is the dynamics of the pandemic in Turkey, which may force the authorities to focus on the internal situation.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Humanitarian Aid, Coronavirus, Pandemic
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Sara Nowacka
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The fight against the spread of the coronavirus in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has forced cooperation between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, which were in conflict within the GCC. At the same time, the UAE took advantage of other countries’ need for support in countering COVID-19 to strengthen relations with China, Iran, and Syria, among others. The UAE’s activity emphasizes its ambition for domination of the region, which may lead to a new dispute within the GCC between the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Gulf Cooperation Council, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Michał Wojnarowicz
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The plan announced by U.S. President Donald Trump will not break the deadlock in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. For all involved parties, the plan will remain a point of reference for political and diplomatic actions in the coming months. The key factors of future developments would be Israel’s decision on the possible annexation of parts of the West Bank and, in the long-run, the outcome of this fall’s U.S. presidential elections.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Politics, Peace, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Lauren Speranza
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Tackling hybrid threats, particularly from state actors such as Russia and China, remains one of the greatest challenges for the transatlantic community. Hybrid threats have gained more traction among policymakers and publics across Europe and the United States, especially in a world with COVID-19. Over the last five years, Euro-Atlantic nations and institutions, such as NATO and the European Union (EU), have taken important steps to respond to hybrid issues. But, as hybrid threats become more prominent in the future, policymakers must move toward a more coherent, effective, and proactive strategy for countering Russian and Chinese hybrid threats. To develop such a transatlantic counter-hybrid strategy for Russia and China, this paper argues that two major things need to happen. First, transatlantic policymakers have to build a common strategic concept to guide collective thinking on hybrid threats. Second, transatlantic policymakers need to take a range of practical actions in service of that strategic concept. In a strategic concept for countering Russian and Chinese hybrid threats, Lauren Speranza offers five strategic priorities that could form the basis of this strategic concept and presents a series of constructive steps that NATO, the EU, and nations can take, in cooperation with the private sector and civil society, to enhance their counter-hybrid capabilities against Russia and China.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Politics, Science and Technology, European Union, Innovation, Resilience, Non-Traditional Threats
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Eurasia, Asia
  • Author: Emerson T. Brooking, Suzanne Kianpour
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Iran has invested significant resources and accumulated vast experience in the conduct of digital influence efforts. These clandestine propaganda efforts have been used to complement Iranian foreign policy operations for the better part of a decade. Nonetheless, Iranian influence capabilities have gone largely unstudied by the United States, and only came to widespread attention in August 2018 with the first public identification of an Iranian propaganda network. Following the US assassination of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani and a sharp escalation in US-Iranian tensions, it is important to understand the perspective, methods, and intent of Iranian influence efforts. For Iran, information dominance represents a central focus of both foreign and domestic policy. Iran sees itself as engaged in a perennial information war: against Sunni Arab powers, against the forces of perceived Western neocolonialism, and particularly against the United States. Should the information conflict be lost, many Iranian officials believe the collapse of the state will soon follow. Accordingly, Iran has prioritized the development of digital broadcast capabilities that cannot be easily targeted by the United States or its allies. Iran has also prioritized information control. Although Iran boasts roughly fifty-six million Internet users, these users must navigate a culture of censorship and frequent state intimidation. Following the 2009 Green Movement, the Iranian government came to see social media activism as enabling an existential threat. Authorities created special cyber-police units, built a new legal framework for Internet regulation, and outlawed most Western digital platforms. They also began to develop systems to remove Iranian users from the global Internet entirely. In pursuit of foreign and domestic information dominance, Iran began operating Facebook and Twitter sockpuppets as early as 2010. As the United States and Iran entered into a period of rapprochement and negotiation, the number of accounts grew exponentially. These accounts have been used to launder Iranian state propaganda to unsuspecting audiences, often under the guise of local media reports. To date, Facebook has identified approximately 2,200 assets directly affecting six million users. Twitter has identified eight thousand accounts responsible for roughly 8.5 million messages. Much of this Iranian content cannot be characterized as “disinformation.” In sharp contrast to the information operations of Russia, which routinely disseminate false stories with the aim of polluting the information environment, Iran makes less use of obvious falsehood. Instead, Iran advances a distorted truth: one that exaggerates Iran’s moral authority while minimizing Iran’s repression of its citizens and the steep human cost of its own imperial adventures in the wider Middle East. As a whole, Iran’s digital influence operations represent a continuation of public diplomacy, albeit conducted through misleading websites and social media sockpuppets. Iran broadcasts a fairly consistent message to many different audiences: in Africa, in Southeast Asia, in Europe, in North America, and, most notably, in Latin America and the Middle East. The aim of these efforts is to “tell Iran’s story,” the same as any Western government broadcaster might strive to do. The difference is that, as an international pariah, Iran must pursue this work through more clandestine means. Global observers have long learned to doubt the truthfulness and sincerity of Iranian-branded media. As the United States considers policies to safeguard its elections and confront Iranian influence activities, three conclusions can be drawn about the nature of Iran’s modern propaganda apparatus. Iran’s digital influence efforts involve centralized goals and disparate agents. Different elements of Iran’s digital propaganda apparatus evidence the involvement of different government agencies. It is not clear how, or if, these agencies coordinate their operations. These goals are closely tied to Iran’s geopolitical interests. Nearly all content spread by Iran’s digital influence efforts relates directly to its worldview or specific foreign policy objectives. Consequently, it is easier to identify the operations of Iran than those of other actors like Russia, whose content is more likely to be politically agnostic. Iran may attempt direct electoral interference in 2020 and beyond. To date, there is little evidence that Iran has sought to affect the outcome of a US election. This does not, however, preclude future such campaigns based on Iranian interest in achieving rapprochement with the United States.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Politics, Media, Conflict, Disinformation
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Karim Mezran, Alessia Melcangi
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: In the last days of September 2020, Libya’s oil industry seemed to be on the verge of restarting its production after Gen. Khalifa Haftar announced the reopening of the oil fields and terminals that he had occupied and closed in the course of his offensive against Tripoli. The main damage caused by Haftar’s blockade is the dramatic plummet of oil production to less than 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) from the previous 1.2 million. The importance of the oil and gas industry in Libya cannot be underestimated since it is the main driver of the Libyan economy and accounts for about 60% of the country’s GDP. Oil production revenues and the dividends from oil sales are one of the main causes of the conflict that has been continuously ravaging the country since the fall of Muammar Qadhafi in 2011. The announced reopening represents good news that bodes well not only for a real resumption of political talks between the warring parties, but also for a more general improvement of the economic and social condition in the country, which is now on the verge of collapse. After the January 2020 blockade, the quick shutdown of oil sales led to a budget collapse: In April 2020, oil production data showed a drop of more than 80% with a loss of more than $10 billion in oil revenues. The economic impact of this stoppage directly hit the Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC), preventing the company from fulfilling contracts with international oil companies. After so many years of civil war, it has become evident that competition among various actors is principally over the country’s resources and control of its financial institutions. According to the 2015 UN-backed Libyan Political Agreement, the Tripoli government headed by Fayez Sarraj retains control of the Tripoli-based NOC and oversees the allocation of state funds deposited in the Tripoli-based Central Bank — these are the two channels through which oil revenues can flow legally and the only two institutions recognized by the UN Security Council. Haftar and the Eastern government accuse Tripoli of mismanaging hydrocarbon revenues and state funds, using them to fund militias backing the Government of National Accord (GNA), and failing to carry out reforms to stabilize the economy. For this reason, the Eastern authorities demand a change of leadership in both institutions: The Central Bank and the NOC. Indeed, the problem for Haftar has always been that he controlled oil production, but not oil revenues. After almost a year locked in a stalemate, the situation on the battlefield was reversed in April 2020. Thanks to Turkey’s military support, the GNA was able to counterattack and defeat the Haftar-controlled Libyan National Army (LNA) and push them back to the gates of the city of Sirte near the “oil crescent,” a coastal area home to most of Libya’s oil export terminals. The ceasefire proposed by the GNA at the end of August 2020 and accepted by the Tobruk parliament and its spokesman, Aguila Saleh, has restarted the political dialogue between the conflicting parties. Meanwhile, the malcontent of the population in both Tripoli and Benghazi, due to the deterioration of living conditions and lack of economic reforms, led to protests and demonstrations in both cities.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Economy, Conflict, Proxy War
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa
  • Author: Ilan Goldenberg, Michael Koplow, Tamara Coffman Wittes
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: Today’s realities demand that the United States change its approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Its current focus is on high-profile diplomatic initiatives that aim for a permanent agreement in which the United States is the central mediator. Instead, the United States must focus on taking tangible steps, both on the ground and diplomatically, that will improve the freedom, prosperity, and security of all people living between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, while also cultivating the conditions for a future two-state agreement negotiated between the parties.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Territorial Disputes, Conflict, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine, United States of America
  • Author: Elizabeth Rosenberg, Peter Harrell, Paula J. Dobriansky, Adam Szubin
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: U.S. policymakers will continue to intensively use a growing array of coercive economic tools, including tariffs, sanctions, trade controls, and investment restrictions. The growing use reflects a desire by policymakers to use coercive economic tools in support of a growing range of policy objectives. Diplomacy around these tools has long been challenging and can require hard choices. To use these tools effectively, policymakers should focus on articulating clear objectives and measuring effectiveness and costs. U.S.-China competition raises the stakes for getting the use of coercive economic statecraft right. Policymakers in the next presidential administration and Congress would be well-served to spend at least as much effort focusing on the positive tools of statecraft. These include domestic economic renewal, international finance and development incentives, and positive trade measures, among others.
  • Topic: Development, Diplomacy, Sanctions, Economy
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ilan Goldenberg, Elisa Catalano Ewers, Kaleigh Thomas
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: It appears unlikely that Iran will engage in diplomatic negotiations with President Donald Trump’s administration before the U.S. elections. However, the international community may find Iran ready to consider a return to negotiations in 2021—regardless of the results in November—either because of Iran’s interest in engaging a Biden administration or in an effort to avoid four more years of the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign. This report lays out potential options for a new U.S. administration to engage Iran in 2021. Many of the ideas also can be adapted for a second term Trump administration as described at the end of this report.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Engagement
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Emma Moore, Kayla M. Williams, Zachary Jaynes
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: Aclose history of collaboration in national security and diplomacy between the United States and United Kingdom leads to many similarities between military personnel of both countries, both during and following service. These similarities mean both countries have much to learn from one another regarding best practices for supporting the military community broadly, despite differences in political systems, governance, and cultural norms. The United Kingdom’s veteran support landscape is sometimes considered behind that of the United States, in part due to the sector’s smaller size; however, the robust nature of the U.K.’s welfare state, combined with renewed engagement from the government, have led to significant progress in recent years. U.K. charities fill gaps in areas the government does not serve, while corporations look to recognize veteran skill sets and challenge existing societal narratives of service. The unique role of the Royal Family and Royal Foundation adds a nationwide focus on mental well-being with a key focus on the armed forces community. This landscape analysis provides an overview of support for veterans in the United Kingdom to better understand how the United States’ closest ally supports veterans from a government, charity, and corporate perspective. In addition to examining the efforts of each sector’s support for veterans, this analysis examines the status of veterans across the United Kingdom’s devolved nations.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, National Security, Military Affairs, Veterans
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe
  • Author: Gabriel Mitchell
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Established in January 2019, the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) is the most significant multinational organization in a geopolitical space often associated with conflict and competition. Currently comprised of Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Greece, Italy and the Palestinian Authority, the forum’s purpose to advance opportunities for energy development and cooperation between Eastern Mediterranean states in order to maximize the commercial potential of the region’s hydrocarbon reserves. This paper analyzes the diplomatic processes that resulted in the EMGF’s formation, the current challenges the forum faces, and Israel’s capacity to shape this nascent body’s future. If the forum hopes to grow in the postcoronavirus era, then it must commit to seeking pathways towards economic cooperation, enhancing its scope to include renewable energy, while also prioritizing conflict resolution and the establishment of a new maritime order.
  • Topic: Development, Diplomacy, Energy Policy, Geopolitics, Gas, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Greece, Palestine, Italy, Egypt, Jordan, Cyprus, Mediterranean
  • Author: Thair Abu Ras
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This paper provides an historic overview of Israel's relationship with the Arab world followed by an in-depth review of cooperation between Arab states and Israel on solving and managing the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinian issue served to enable and limit relations between Israel and Arab states along the years. Reviving Palestinian-Israeli negotiations and improving the status of the Palestinians have been the central tenants of cooperation between Israel and Arab states. The Palestinian issue serves as a legitimizing factor for Israeli-Arab cooperation, and the occupation remains an obstacle to accomplishing regional stability. The Abraham Accords may intensify Israeli-Arab cooperation on the Palestinian issue, thus making the quest for a peaceful resolution to the Palestinian issue more central to Israel's regional foreign policies.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Conflict, Regional Integration, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Ksenia Svetlova, Mor Yahalom
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Cooperation can yield stability, continued development and strengthened ties between states. Broad, fruitful Israeli cooperation with Arab states will open many economic, security, intelligence, energy, tourism, and medical opportunities, with the potential for more to come. Therefore, this goal must be identified and pursued. This paper is intended to enrich the theoretical and practical knowledge of Israel’s regional cooperation and provide background for understanding and assessing the variety of existing practices that Israel employs, on the governmental level, to advance regional cooperation and implement it. The paper details the various Israeli ministries and agencies tasked with managing and developing cooperation with Arab states, the division of responsibility among them and the practices they employ. It also identifies current opportunities and characterizes the challenges hampering and delaying potential cooperation.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Government, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Roee Kibrik, Einat Levi
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Civilian cooperation between Israel and Arab states takes place on various levels and in different fields despite the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict that often prevents and always challenges the establishment of full, normal relations between the citizens of Israel and the region. This paper is intended to serve anyone seeking to promote Israel-Arab normalization, peace and cooperation, by spotlighting the wide array of existing civilian relations and trying to learn from experience for the sake of expanding future cooperation. Learning from experience is important both in order to efficiently and effectively advance regional cooperation toward peace, and also to advance existing cooperation, especially given its potential for offering better conditions for a political-diplomatic process. The potential for regional cooperation does not rely only on formal diplomatic, security and economic agreements between states, but also on ties between civilians. That is especially true for the desire to advance normalization as reflected in relations on the civil society level and the public legitimization of relations in a wide variety of fields. This paper analyzes civilian cooperation practices between Israelis and residents of states in the Middle East and North Africa, in the environment, sports, tourism, science, religion and heritage, culture and humanitarian aid.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Karl Friedhoff
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: North Korea’s promise to deliver an end-of-year “Christmas gift” went unfulfilled amid signs that the United States wanted to continue diplomacy with the Kim regime. This has led to a continued lull in tensions between the two countries, although actual progress in negotiations remains elusive. With that lack of progress, President Donald Trump has reportedly told his advisers that he does not want another summit with Kim Jong Un before the US presidential election in November. In a survey conducted from January 10–12, 2020, the American public is now less concerned about the threat posed by North Korea, but little else has changed in terms of Americans’ policy preferences to deal with North Korea’s nuclear program. Majorities still oppose airstrikes against North Korea and support long-term military bases in South Korea.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Public Opinion, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Arik Burakovsky, Dina Smeltz, Brendan Helm
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: With both Russia and China facing increasingly confrontational relations with the United States, the two countries have increased ties with each other and have pursued similar approaches in opposition to the US government concerning Iran, Syria, and Venezuela. Steve Biegun, US Deputy Secretary of State, recently characterized the developing relationship between Russia and China as one built on “mutual determination to challenge the United States.” To better understand how experts think about Russia’s relations with the other great powers, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs recently conducted a survey of 201 American experts on Russia. The survey finds that a majority describe the relationship between Russia and China today as one of mostly partnership. They also describe India as primarily a partner to Russia, both today and in the future. By contrast, they say that Russian relations with the United States and the European Union are mostly competitive. But they anticipate that in 20 years, rivalry between Russia and China will grow, perhaps creating space for reducing tensions with the United States.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Power Politics, Partnerships
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Arik Burakovsky, Dina Smeltz, Brendan Helm
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: US Experts Anticipate Future Decline for Russia Among the Great Powers OCTOBER 6, 2020 By: Arik Burakovsky, Assistant Director, Russia and Eurasia Program, Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, Tufts University; Dina Smeltz, Senior Fellow, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy; Brendan Helm, Research Assistant Although President Trump initially hoped for improved relations between the United States and Russia, during his tenure the US government has overtly declared Russia a top threat to US national security. Congress and the administration widened Obama-era sanctions against Russia after alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Data from a recent survey of American experts on Russia, conducted by The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs paints Russia as a declining power. The results show that while experts anticipate changes in the global balance of power in the next 20 years, with China overtaking the United States, they do not expect Russia to come out stronger over that time frame. Experts draw attention to Russia’s cracked economic and political foundation in the present and its likely decline over the next two decades due to economic mismanagement and faltering soft power. Now there are the lingering economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to add to this list.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Power Politics, Economy, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Anna Kosovac, Keith Hartley, Michele Acuto, Darcy Gunning
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: Conducting City Diplomacy: A Survey of International Engagement in 47 Cities OCTOBER 7, 2020 By: Anna Kosovac, Research Fellow, International Urban Policy, University of Melbourne’s Connected Cities Lab; Kris Hartley, Nonresident Fellow, Global Cities; Michele Acuto, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Global Cities; Darcy Gunning, Research Assistant, University of Melbourne’s Connected Cities Lab Executive Summary The impact of global challenges such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic manifests most acutely in urban settings, rendering cities essential players on the global stage. In the 2018 report Toward City Diplomacy, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs presented findings from a survey of 27 cities on the capacity of local governments around the world to network internationally—and the perceived barriers to that engagement. The report found that cities “need to invest in resources, expertise, and capacity to manage their relationships and responsibilities to conduct city diplomacy effectively.” In our new survey of 47 cities, we find that advice to still ring true. City officials broadly recognize the importance of engaging internationally but lack the necessary formal diplomacy training and resources for conducting that engagement to maximum effect. Nevertheless, cities maintain a strong commitment to global agendas, and international frameworks are increasingly influential in municipal affairs. For example, more than half of survey respondents said they track their city’s performance against the metrics of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Furthermore, we found that cities and their leaders are confident in their capacity to tackle global challenges. For instance, the majority of survey respondents said that city governments have greater potential for impact on climate change mitigation than their national government counterparts do, especially when acting collaboratively through city networks and multilateral urban programs. The individual stories of five cities whose officials participated in the study offer lessons for a variety of challenges and approaches to city diplomacy. Based on the survey results, we discuss the three primary obstacles cities must overcome in order to strengthen the role of city diplomacy globally: inadequate funding and resources for international engagement, insufficient training in city diplomacy, and the failure of national and multilateral bodies to fully recognize and formalize city engagement in diplomacy. We conclude with a framework for ensuring that city-diplomacy efforts are systematic and institutionalized rather than reliant on the personalities and connections of powerful city leaders. This capacity-building strategy can help cities leverage international coordination, information sharing, and intersectoral collaboration to address the complex and interconnected problems that will characterize the 21st century.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Diplomacy, Sustainable Development Goals, Urban, Cities, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Dina Smeltz, Brendan Helm
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: On January 3, the United States launched a drone strike in Iraq that killed Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, ramping up tensions between Washington and Tehran. Results from a just-completed Chicago Council survey show that more Americans think the strike has made the United States less safe than more safe, and more name Iran as the country posing the greatest threat to the United States than any other country. If Iran restarts development toward a nuclear weapon, the US public prefers diplomacy, but more Americans now support military action against Iran.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Public Opinion, Qassem Soleimani
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Lars Hauch
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: This report examines Syria’s Constitutional Committee process and parallel military developments during the Syrian civil war to reveal that the two have so far been interconnected. It arrives at the conclusion that the Government of Syria and Russia created and subsequently manipulated various linkages between conference room and battlefield to increase their own advantage. This has included the use of the Constitutional Committee as a placeholder to avoid greater Western diplomatic, or even military, efforts to resolve the conflict; the deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure to force opposition bodies out of Syria; and polarization of the Committee by engaging in continuous human rights abuses among the Syrian population during negotiations. The Constitutional Committee can still help build bridges, but this requires redressing the balance of forces on the battlefield first. A joint Turkish-European military humanitarian intervention in northwestern Syria can serve this purpose and revitalize efforts to negotiate a (late) solution to the war.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Constitution, Humanitarian Intervention, Syrian War, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Mohammed Cherkaoui
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: Foreign manipulation defies the wisdom of envisioning a political settlement of the Libyan conflict. All international diplomatic gestures need to be aligned via the UN platform, with a well-defined trajectory, rather than any zero-game equation or realist calculation.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Politics, United Nations, Conflict, Legitimacy
  • Political Geography: Africa, Libya, North Africa
  • Author: Mohammed Cherkaoui
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: On June 6, 2020, the Qatari crisis entered its fourth year with two parallel political discourses, which have endured the complexity of issues between Qatar and the Quartet [Saudi Arabia, Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt] since early June 2017: a) diplomatic hopes in the U.S.-backed Kuwaiti mediation amidst several gestures of rapprochement between the Qataris and the Saudis; and b) disparity of positions by the disputing parties while maintaining status quo politics. The Trump administration has urged the Quartet capitals to reopen their airspace for Qatari airlines as a step toward ending the open-ended blockade. The Wall Street Journal quoted U.S. officials saying "there is a greater sense of urgency to resolve the airspace issue. It's an ongoing irritation for us that money goes into Iran's coffers due to Qatar Airways overflights." (1) The Trump White House has been irritated by the so-called "overfly fees" that Qatar pays to Iran to use its airspace. There is growing hope Washington’s call will trigger momentum for lifting the land and sea blockade imposed on Qatar as well. Qatar’s foreign minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani hopes “the initiative will produce results, we are open to dialogue and ready to meet each step forward with 10 steps from our side.” (2) Unlike the Saudis, the Emiratis have maintained the 2017 demands, and UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash insists “this issue will stay with us, and we have to manage it in a better way until we reach a future stage.” He has often characterized the blockade as “a result of Doha's interference policies," and argued "the solution for this crisis should be based on dealing with the causes of it." (3) As a result, the three-year blockade is causing a hurting stalemate for both sides of the Gulf conflict. In his new book “Qatar and the Gulf Crisis”, Kristian C. Ulrichsen argues the blockade has become “stuck at a political level where the Saudi and Emirati leadership—and especially Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Mohammed bin Zayed—appear reluctant to make the first move to offer concessions or progress to a negotiated compromise.” (4) This paper examines some major narrative turns of the Quartet-Qatar showdown and the transformation of Trump’s position. It traces the possibility of a de-escalation shift along Washington’s pursuit of mediation in the framework of the Kuwaiti diplomacy; and weighs on the future of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), as a counterbalance of the Arab Gulf strategic (dis)unity and common existentialism in a turbulent region.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Abu Dhabi
  • Author: Kayhan Barzegar
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: As the dice of the “maximum pressure” and “maximum resistance” policies are rotating between Iran and the United States, a new synthesis, seemingly satisfactory for both parties, emerges and that is appealing to a “minimum containment” policy and avoiding an unwanted war.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Geopolitics, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Matthew Goodman
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: The Abe administration has adopted a strategy that combines three main lines of effort: enhanced diplomatic and economic engagement with Beijing; hedging and balancing, including deepening integration with other countries of the Indo-Pacific region and attempting to keep the United States engaged in the Indo-Pacific region; and leadership on regional and global economic rule-making. The main strands of this approach are likely to continue after Abe leaves office, though uncertainty surrounds them all.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Strategic Interests
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia
  • Author: Brad Glosserman
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: While the sources of contention are deep and enduring, relations between Japan and South Korea have been especially troubled in the last few years. The two countries are grappling with deeply entrenched, emotional legacies that have been inflamed by recent controversies, rendering history both immediate and real. This chapter explores Japan’s perception of and reaction to those events. While it aims to provide an objective assessment of Japanese thinking, it does not purport to be even-handed or balanced. It is an analysis of the Japanese view of the relationship with South Korea. To be brief and blunt, Japanese are frustrated with and angered by South Koreans. Frustrated because they have been unable to build a future with them that rests on a foundation of shared concerns and values; domestic politics continues to override strategic interests. Angry because Korean complaints deny the many changes that have occurred in Japan since the end of World War II. Japanese do not deny that atrocities took place, but they are offended when they are laid at the feet of current generations. A growing number of Japanese believe that Koreans prefer to occupy the moral high ground over building a mutually beneficial long-term partnership. This belief increasingly colors the way that Korean actions and statements are interpreted.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Partnerships
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia
  • Author: See-Won Byun
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have experienced periods of conflict and cooperation since officially forging “partnership” relations in 1998. From a historical perspective, Korea was among the most willing participants of the Sinocentric tribute system and its underlying cultural hierarchy. Yet the 2003-2004 dispute over the ancient Koguryo kingdom’s identity marked the first major downturn in the China-ROK relationship since normalization. The rapid expansion of trade, at an average annual rate of 18 percent since 1992, has not prevented the two sides from fighting over political grievances. Most notably under the current Xi Jinping leadership, Beijing’s assertions of unprecedented friendship quickly turned into accusations of betrayal requiring economic punishment. Why and how did China’s policy toward South Korea shift so drastically after two decades of diplomatic normalization? To answer, we must focus on the expectations raised by China’s national identity for ties with South Korea. This study examines the evolution of Chinese views of South Korea with a focus on elite and popular narratives since 2013. Despite increased interdependence, these narratives point to China’s increasingly fragile political ties with Asian partners. Most importantly, China’s growing weight facilitates its strategic combination of economic and discursive tools of diplomacy framed by national identity. Recent tensions over the U.S.-ROK military alliance displayed Beijing’s denial of direct economic retaliation under the cover of public hostility, conveniently blurring the lines between state-led and voluntary actions. By hardening the identity dimensions of conflict, such strategies may only have long-term counterproductive effects of constraining Beijing’s political influence at home and abroad. The four sections below proceed as follows. First, I review two decades of China-ROK relations since the establishment of partnership ties in 1998. I identify two related trends: the intensification of political disputes despite trade, and China’s growing economic leverage in managing those disputes, keeping an eye on the role of national identity. Second, I assess the pessimistic turn in China’s domestic discourse on South Korea in the Xi Jinping period, using official, academic, and media sources. Third, I trace the interaction of elite and popular narratives, focusing on the 2016-2017 dispute over a U.S. missile defense system, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). I briefly extend the discussion to public clashes over Hong Kong in 2019 to underscore the enduring impact of China’s major power and domestic political identities on China-ROK relations. To conclude, I consider the trajectory of bilateral relations under the leadership of Xi Jinping and Moon Jae-in, including the domestic and foreign policy implications of nationalist discourse.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, Public Opinion, Elites
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea
  • Author: Scott W. Harold
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: U.S. views of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have been hardening for at least two decades, from George W. Bush characterizing China in the 2000 presidential campaign and the first months of his presidency as a “strategic competitor,” to the Obama administration’s pursuit of a “pivot” to the Asia–Pacific in response to China’s growing assertiveness, to the Trump administration describing China’s rise as signaling the “return of an era of great power competition.” Does this trend reflect changes in U.S. self-conception and national identity? Evolving assessments of threat in light of Chinese behavior and what these imply about the regime’s intentions? A reaction to shifts in the overall balance of power between the two countries, perhaps a reflection of a declining superpower facing a rising challenge, “tragically” destined to participate in a “contest for supremacy in Asia” that will ineluctably result in a “Thucydides trap” or war of hegemonic transition? Or is it instead an inevitable clash between a liberal, democratic, rule of law capitalist hegemon and a resilient authoritarian challenger that is a communist dictatorship increasingly reliant on aggressive nationalism since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and evolving rapidly towards national socialism or fascism? While each of these perspectives provides some purchase on the recent developments in U.S. – China relations as seen from Washington, this chapter focuses on the role of national identity, arguing that identity is by no means the sole or best explanation, but that it is an important factor that should not be overlooked or underestimated.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Mark Tokola
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: Does the forty-fifth president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, have a foreign policy, not least of all inclusive of the vital Northeast Asian region? The question is not flippant. Policy is usually thought of as a set of principles that guide action towards a desired outcome. Trump may, as he professes, act from instinct – reactively and transactionally rather than from an intent to implement an established policy. In the eyes of some of his supporters, this would be a virtue. They elected him expressly for the purpose of breaking with a traditional Washington policy machinery that they did not believe was serving their interests. However, Trump and his administration do assert and describe a distinct foreign policy. They even have a name for it, “principled realism.” Moreover, when Trump was running for the presidency in 2016, he announced his intention to “develop a new foreign policy direction for our country, one that replaces randomness with purpose, ideology with strategy, and chaos with peace.” He stated, “It’s time to shake the rust off America’s foreign policy.”
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Geopolitics, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Fergus Hanson, Emilia Currey, Tracy Beattie
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is increasingly deploying coercive diplomacy against foreign governments and companies. Coercive diplomacy isn’t well understood, and countries and companies have struggled to develop an effective toolkit to push back against and resist it. This report tracks the CCP’s use of coercive diplomacy over the past 10 years, recording 152 cases of coercive diplomacy affecting 27 countries as well as the European Union. The data shows that there’s been a sharp escalation in these tactics since 2018. The regions and countries that recorded the most instances of coercive diplomacy over the last decade include Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and East Asia. The CCP’s coercive tactics can include economic measures (such as trade sanctions, investment restrictions, tourism bans and popular boycotts) and non-economic measures (such as arbitrary detention, restrictions on official travel and state-issued threats). These efforts seek to punish undesired behaviour and focus on issues including securing territorial claims, deploying Huawei’s 5G technology, suppressing minorities in Xinjiang, blocking the reception of the Dalai Lama and obscuring the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. China is the largest trading partner for nearly two-thirds of the world’s countries, and its global economic importance gives it significant leverage. The impacts of coercive diplomacy are exacerbated by the growing dependency of foreign governments and companies on the Chinese market. The economic, business and security risks of that dependency are likely to increase if the CCP can continue to successfully use this form of coercion.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, European Union, Economy, Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Medea Ivaniadze
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgian Foundation for Strategic International Studies -GFSIS
  • Abstract: The digest covers China’s political, diplomatic, economic and other activities in the South Caucasus region and relations between China and the South Caucasus countries. It relies on a wide variety of sources, including the Chinese media. It is worth noting that the Chinese media is controlled by the Communist Party of China (according to the World Press Freedom Index China is nearly at the bottom of the list and ranks 177th out of 180 countries).
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Politics, Media, Economy, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
  • Political Geography: China, Eurasia, Caucasus, Asia, South Caucasus