All Briefings

Rebel Divisions Already Plague Latest Round of Mali Peace Talks

By Hannah Rae Armstrong
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Tuareg rebels and Malian officials have begun meeting in Algeria to try and hammer out the terms of a lasting peace in northern Mali. In July, the parties signed a road map deal that paved the way for talks on an array of political and security issues. In September, they will return to Algiers for three weeks of negotiations. But so far, divisions among rebel groups threaten to complicate the prospects for peace. more

How Latin America Can Maximize Its Shale Gas Potential

By Eric Farnsworth
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Thanks to technological advances, shale gas is revolutionizing the world’s energy landscape. The size of reserves within the Western Hemisphere in particular provides the region with an enviable opportunity for leadership in global shale gas. But Latin America still has work to do to maximize its energy potential. The natural resources clearly exist; fully developing shale remains a matter of political will. more

Uganda’s Longtime Strongman Faces a New Rival: His Restless Soldiers

By Harry Verhoeven
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Nearly 30 years after taking power, President Yoweri Museveni still dominates Uganda’s politics. While the civilian opposition appears impotent to legally break his grip on power, the internal dynamics of the armed forces are another matter. Museveni has a twin strategy of keeping the army under control and having his son Muhoozi Kaneirugaba succeed him, but resentment in the military is festering. more

Jokowi's Test: Managing Indonesia's Old Guard—and Civil Society's Hopes

By Sue Gunawardena-Vaughn
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With their central role in his successful campaign, Indonesian civil society groups’ expectations run high that Joko Widodo’s presidency will be marked by transparency, accountability, rule of law and respect for human rights. But it remains to be seen if Jokowi can deliver on all that, given Indonesia’s notoriously fractious politics, decentralized Kafkaesque bureaucracy and messy political infrastructure. more

Iran’s Rouhani Stokes Domestic Backlash With Attack on Critics

By Nader Habibi
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In an address last week to Foreign Ministry officials, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani did not hold back his frustration with critics of nuclear negotiations with the P5+1. Deviating from his usual calm and moderate tone, Rouhani told his critics to go “to hell.” The backlash could further polarize Iranian politics and bring deep-rooted tensions between reformists and conservatives to the surface. more

Ukraine Crisis Torpedoes Russia-Japan Rapprochement

By Richard Weitz
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One of the major sticking points to improved Japan-Russia relations has long been the two sides’ territorial dispute over the Southern Kurils. Now the two countries have an opportunity to change matters. For the first time in decades, both have leaders who could negotiate a territorial compromise and then sell it domestically. But the Ukraine crisis has put an end to earlier hopes for a resolution. more

With Eye on Russia, Poland Reshapes Military Modernization Plan

By Tomasz Szatkowski
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Compared to other Central European countries, the Polish military might appear to be a giant, due to Poland’s size but also its relatively high fixed level of defense spending. But it still has to face a seriously deteriorated security environment with fewer expectations of help from its Western allies. Poland needs to craft a more cohesive military modernization plan to respond to an array of challenges. more

U.S., India Seek to Move Defense Ties Beyond Arms Sales

By Saurav Jha
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Last week, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel visited India to sound out Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Defense Trade and Technology Initiative, the “centerpiece” of the U.S.-India security relationship. To sustain ties with a new Indian government focused on leveraging weapons manufacturing for jobs, Washington realizes it must move beyond arms sales to co-development and co-production agreements. more

West Can Use Nagorno-Karabakh Tensions to Push Azerbaijan to Reform

By Aslan Amani
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Clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh have prompted worries of a full-fledged war. But Russia’s presence in Armenia suggests that the escalation has less to do with the two belligerent parties and more with Russia’s growing geopolitical ambitions. The West shouldn’t abandon Azerbaijan but must make clear that the usual way of doing business will not work. more

Chile’s Bachelet Tacks Center to Pursue Needed Reform at Home

By Eric Farnsworth
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Eyebrows arched in Chile late last month when President Michelle Bachelet canceled her participation in a MERCOSUR summit in Venezuela to focus on her domestic agenda, including education reform. Critics suggested this was because the signature reforms are in trouble. But Bachelet chose to remain in Chile to work on issues of real importance to Chileans, and to her own political fortunes and legacy. more