Geography and Resources Articles

Oil pumps work at sunset in the desert oil fields of Sakhir, Bahrain, Oct. 14, 2014 (AP photo by Hasan Jamali).
World Citizen

As Oil Prices Drop, Some Seek Hidden Hands Behind Market Forces

By Frida Ghitis
, , Column

The recent precipitous drop in global oil prices has generated a flurry of conspiracy theories. While it is possible the U.S. and Saudi Arabia worked together to flood the market and weaken regimes like Russia, Iran and Venezuela, there are more obvious economic explanations. more


Global Insider

Chad Uses Environmental Rules to Keep Tight Grip on Oil Sector

By The Editors
, , Trend Lines

Chad is currently in talks with the Chinese National Petroleum Company over oil-extraction licenses that were revoked due to environmental violations. In an email interview, Celeste Hicks, a freelance journalist specializing in Africa, discussed Chad’s oil sector. more

Angola Modernizes Navy to Protect Maritime Resources

By Francisco Galamas
, , Briefing

Last month, in another sign of their strategic partnership, Brazil and Angola signed an agreement for the Brazilian navy to support the development of Angola’s naval capabilities. The deal fits into Angola’s broader strategy to secure its maritime borders and safeguard its oil and fishing resources. more

Rising to the Challenge: Can Latin America Escape Its Past?

By The Editors
, , Report

Electoral democracy is flourishing across Latin America. But if the region has eagerly embraced pluralism, many problems remain, ranging from insecurity and corruption to balancing economic growth with environmental concerns. This report covers the full spectrum of Latin America’s challenges. more

Global Insider

Once Foes, Uganda and DRC Cooperate, but Friendly Ties Far Off

By The Editors
, , Trend Lines

Last month, senior diplomats from Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo met to discuss bilateral relations. In an email interview, Gaaki Kigambo, a journalist in Uganda, discussed current efforts to improve relations between between the two countries. more

How Latin America Can Maximize its Shale Gas Potential

By Eric Farnsworth
, , Briefing

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

Ukraine Crisis Torpedoes Russia-Japan Rapprochement

By Richard Weitz
, , Briefing

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

Nagorno-Karabakh’s Summer of Violence

By Laurence Broers
, , Feature

This year, while Europe commemorated 100 years since the beginning of World War I, a long-forgotten conflict on the edge of the continent rumbled on. Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a contest for control over Nagorno-Karabakh for more than 25 years. Following a particularly dismal stretch of the peace process over the past two years, tensions have come to a head in a summer of violence along the front line. Yet while front-line casualties have dominated the headlines, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has also become a formidable weapon for both Armenia and Azerbaijan to securitize politics, exclude opposition and explain away the absence of domestic reforms. more

New Agenda Reflects Growing Energy Role for Lusophone Bloc

By Francisco Galamas
, , Briefing

Last week, the 10th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, held in East Timor, accepted a new member: Equatorial Guinea, the third-largest oil exporter in sub-Saharan Africa. With Equatorial Guinea, the CPLP is collectively now the fourth-largest oil exporter in the world, demonstrating its shifting focus from political and cultural issues to economic ones. more

In Need of Investment, Peru Rolls Back Environmental Standards

By Paul Shortell
, , Briefing

President Ollanta Humala recently unveiled reforms intended to stabilize Peru’s slowing economy and shore up investor confidence. Controversially, the new laws will roll back pollution standards and fast-track environmental licensing for new energy and mining projects. Such deregulation threatens to reverse positive environmental protections and will not alleviate broader challenges facing Peru’s economy. more

Climate Change Driving Farmer-Herder Conflict in Niger River Basin

By Owen McAleer
, , Briefing

West Africa’s Niger River Basin has been the location of many high-profile conflicts in recent years. However, another form of conflict has also gripped the region: violence between farmers and herders. The two have long coexisted through traditional social arrangements for land and water use. But mounting environmental stress and institutional confusion have strained these ties and sparked violence. more

Heavily Invested, China Cannot Escape the Iraq Powder Keg

By Emanuele Scimia
, , Briefing

Like it did with the crisis in Ukraine, China is trying to keep out of the chaos in Iraq. But as Iraq’s government confronts the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, it will be hard for China to preserve a policy of noninterference. This time around, China cannot keep out of another sovereign nation’s internal affairs—until now a cornerstone of its diplomacy—given Beijing’s huge economic interests in Iraq. more

World Citizen

In Venezuela, Party Divisions Are Maduro’s Greatest Challenge Yet

By Frida Ghitis
, , Column

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has struggled from the moment his mentor, Hugo Chavez, named him as his successor. Maduro faced countless crises: an economy circling the drain, crime rates skyrocketing and huge opposition protests. In recent weeks, the most dangerous of all Maduro’s problems has emerged: a fracturing of support among Chavista loyalists. If Maduro loses his party, he will lose power. more

Global Insider

Spain’s Exclaves Prove to Be Security Boon as Well as Risk

By The Editors
, , Trend Lines

Spanish police have recently begun to crack down on Islamist militants in its exclaves Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa. In an email interview, Gerry O’Reilly, senior lecturer in geography and international affairs at St Patrick’s College, Dublin City University, discussed Spanish policy toward both autonomous territories. more

With Eye on Oil, China Raises Security Profile in South Sudan

By Martha Molfetas
, , Briefing

China has agreed to deploy additional peacekeepers to South Sudan, significantly raising its security profile there. With the failure of two cease-fires in South Sudan’s six-month-long conflict, China has committed a brigade of 850 soldiers to the U.N. peacekeeping mission, bringing the force’s total deployment to roughly 20,000. The move reinforces a shift for China, from noninvolvement toward forging peace. more

Agriculture and the Global Trade Agenda

By Timothy Josling
, , Feature

International trade in agricultural commodities is a relatively small component of total trade in goods and services, but it accounts for a disproportionate share of time and effort in trade negotiations and is the topic of many of the most contentious trade disputes. Agriculture’s place on the global trade agenda is now being discussed in a number of bilateral and multilateral venues. The outcome of these talks will determine the regime for agricultural and food trade in the decades to come. more