After seven long years, the Indian government has decided that the time has come to once again make its presence felt in Iraq by naming an envoy to the country. The previous ambassador to Iraq was withdrawn in 2004 as the security situation in the country spiraled out of control. Even after the situation in Iraq had stabilized, with largely peaceful elections last year and the U.S. decision to withdraw its forces completely by the end of this year, New Delhi took its time to come to terms with the rapidly changing realities on the ground. After all, when it […]

A lot of international relations theories are being stress-tested by events in the Arab world right now, with some emerging better than others. Two in particular that are worth mentioning are Ian Bremmer’s 2006 book, “The J Curve,” which predicts a dangerous dip into instability when closed, authoritarian states attempt to open up to the world; and Evgeny Morozov’s new book, “The Net Delusion,” which critiques the notion that Internet connectivity is inherently democratizing. (In the interests of transparency, I work as a consultant for Bremmer’s political risk consultancy, Eurasia Group, and penned a pre-publication blurb for Morozov’s book.) Both […]

Global Insider: African Union Naval Force

The African Union recently announced its intention to develop an African naval force, which would fight illegal fishing, piracy and environmental problems in Africa’s collective exclusive economic zone (EEZ). In an e-mail interview, Johan Potgieter, a retired captain in the South African navy and a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies in South African, discussed the AU’s proposed naval force. WPR: What need does this proposal respond to? Johan Potgieter: Thirty-nine of the 54 countries in Africa are either coastal states or islands, with another five situated on the vast Great Lakes of central Africa. As a consequence, […]

Will the collapse of Moammar Gadhafi’s regime be the salvation of Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela? Even without a forcible overthrow of the “Brother Leader” and the uncertainty of a subsequent interregnum, a protracted Libyan civil war that damages the country’s energy infrastructure could drive energy prices back to 2008 levels. Joshua Schenyer, surveying the landscape, concluded grimly, “Regardless of what comes next in Libya’s lethal political standoff, the OPEC country’s oil sector is nearly certain to suffer, bringing long-lasting supply disruptions or even permanent damage. None of several potential outcomes is benign for Libya’s oil industry — the lifeblood […]

Much analysis of the wave of unrest sweeping the Middle East has identified economic hardship as a crucial motivation for the uprisings. Many Middle East experts pointed to unemployment and the rising price of food in Tunisia to explain that country’s uprising. The same experts pointed to unemployment and mass poverty to explain the subsequent Egyptian uprising. But after Egyptians successfully ousted Hosni Mubarak, unrest subsequently spread to Libya, Algeria, Iran, Bahrain, Yemen and Jordan, countries with very diverse economic conditions. Standards of living in Bahrain and Libya, for example, are much higher than in Egypt and Yemen. Furthermore, the […]

Global Insider: East African Community Infrastructure

The East African Community, comprising Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, recently launched a $300 million infrastructure program aimed at reducing the cost of doing business in the region. In an e-mail interview, Andrew Roberts, senior operations officer in the World Bank’s Africa Regional Integration Department, discussed infrastructure and development in the East African Community. WPR: What are the major areas of underdeveloped infrastructure within the East African Community? Andrew Roberts: Electricity access in the countries in the subregion is very low, ranging from 5 percent in Burundi and Rwanda to 30 percent in Sudan in 2008. Because demand is […]

The current wave of upheaval in the Arab world that has unexpectedly swept away the long-lasting presidents of Tunisia and Egypt and which may trigger regime changes all over the region has also steepened the ongoing rise in oil prices and raised fears about the stability of the global oil market. On Jan. 31, after five days of upheaval in Egypt, the price of a barrel of Brent crude on the London-based Intercontinental Exchange passed the $100 threshold for the first time since the financial meltdown of September 2008. Brent crude is currently trading for more than $105, while prices […]

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series on the G-20. Part I examined efforts to rebalance the global economy. Part II examines efforts to reform the global monetary system. Leading up to and throughout the G-20 finance ministers meeting last weekend, murmurs were heard about the role of the dollar and the need to reform the global monetary system. This is nothing new, of course, as a variety of major economies have expressed an interest in demoting the dollar since the global financial crisis broke out in 2008. The most recent examples came from Brazil and China, […]

Global Insider: Chile-Argentina Energy Relations

Argentina and Chile are considering entering into a long-term energy agreement. In an e-mail interview, Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas, discussed Chile-Argentina energy relations. WPR: To what degree have Argentina and Chile been energy partners in the past? Eric Farnsworth: Chile has little in the way of its own traditional energy resources and has therefore long depended on Argentina for much of its energy supply, particularly natural gas. Under normal circumstances, Chile’s natural partners on the energy side would be Bolivia and Peru, rather than Argentina, since the gas that Chile now obtains from Argentina […]

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series on the G-20. Part I examines efforts to rebalance the global economy. Part II will appear tomorrow and will examine efforts to reform the global monetary system. Over the weekend, G-20 finance ministers met in Paris to discuss steps on how to address persistent global current account imbalances that some fear could send the global economy back into recession. From the outset, the meetings reinforced what we already know about the group: Preferences among the members are incredibly diverse, making progress toward cooperation painfully slow. This is exacerbated by the […]

As waves of unrest continue to roil the Middle East, there is a great deal of uncertainty as to what the future might bring. Will a successor to former President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt maintain the peace treaty with Israel, cooperate in isolating Hamas in the Gaza strip and maintain the intelligence relationship with the United States? And should a revolutionary regime overthrow the Khalifas in Bahrain, will it reject the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet from the island? Most prognostications on the region’s future assume that revolutions that depose status quo governments automatically reverse the policies of their predecessors. One […]

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series examining Ecuador under President Rafael Correa. Part I examined Correa’s domestic policy. Part II examines his foreign policy. Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa’s radical “Citizen’s Revolution” has surprisingly translated into a foreign policy marked by pragmatism. Some of his moves — such as embracing China, Russia and Iran — have raised eyebrows, while others, such as the forced restructuring of Ecuador’s foreign debt, have prompted some foreign investors to question the wisdom of making long-term investments in the country. But his administration has also restored full diplomatic and commercial ties with […]

Brazil has profited handsomely over the past decade from its economic relationship with China. Exports to the People’s Republic have shot up nearly 20-fold since 2000, and last year alone, Brazil enjoyed a bilateral trade surplus of $5.2 billion, largely thanks to China’s seemingly insatiable appetite for iron ore and soybeans. In 2009, China supplanted the United States to become Brazil’s biggest trade partner, an arrangement that allowed Brazil to skirt the global recession by insulating it from the precipitous drop in exports that most other Latin American countries suffered. The relationship is not likely to change in the near […]

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series examining Ecuador under President Rafael Correa. Part I examines Correa’s domestic policy. Part II, appearing tomorrow, will examine his foreign policy. Four years have passed since Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa joined his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Ch├ívez, in Latin America’s revolutionary fold. Correa came to office promising to usher in a new era in Ecuador and put an end to the “dark night of neoliberalism.” Now, despite some notable successes, there are increasing doubts about the Correa administration’s stability and longevity as well as about the legacy it will leave behind. […]

Chinatowns’ Avant-Garde in Northern Iraq

About 500 Chinese people are said to live in Sulaimaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan’s second city. Many work in the new Kawa Mall where Chinese flags, lucky cats and paper lanterns present an incongruous scene on the Kurdish landscape. Such immigration and foreign investment is becoming more prominent in the semi-autonomous area run by the Kurdistan Regional Government.

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