Even as Vietnam and China continue to conduct tit-for-tat naval maneuvers in the South China Sea, Hanoi has started making direct calls for foreign involvement in the two nations’ maritime territorial dispute. While many commentators saw this as a thinly veiled invitation to the United States, it could also be a precursor to India establishing a permanent presence in Vietnamese waters. India has apparently responded favorably to Vietnam’s offer of permanent berthing rights in Na Thrang port. The move would not only add military heft to India’s “Look East” policy, but is also emblematic of a larger Indian effort to […]
The crackdown on opposition protesters by Malawi’s democratically elected government led to the deaths of 19 people last week and triggered the U.S. suspension of a prized $350 million development grant to the tiny sub-Saharan African nation. According to Kim Yi Dionne, a political scientist at Texas A&M University and former Fulbright Scholar in Malawi, the U.S. held off in announcing the suspension until this week in hopes that Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika might condemn the crackdown. “The U.S. probably waited to see if he didn’t order the police to shoot people,” Dionne told Trend Lines yesterday. “They didn’t […]
Coming on the heels of Berlin’s decision to phase out nuclear power, the recently signed memorandum of understanding between German utility RWE and Russia’s state-owned Gazprom to negotiate a joint venture on downstream gas and power plants could spell bad news for Europe on three levels. First, if it bears fruit, the partnership will undermine European diversification efforts, since RWE was the leading utility behind the European Union’s Nabucco pipeline designed to tap new Central Asian supplies. Second, it will bolster oil-indexed pricing schemes against the impact of wholesale spot prices, serving to keep prices on an “artificial” footing. Third, […]
The United Nation’s declaration of a famine in two regions of southern Somalia has been accompanied by horrific reports of starvation and news of more than 100,000 internally displaced people flooding into Mogadishu. Already bearing the burden of a 20-year-old civil war, the Somali capital now appears to be emerging as the epicenter of the famine’s misery as well. However, the exodus of starving Somalis may also have volatile regional ramifications, specifically in neighboring Ethiopia and Kenya, says Elizabeth G. Ferris, codirector of the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement in Washington. Ferris reminded Trend Lines yesterday that Kenya is already […]
Earlier this month, U.N.-led negotiations between Cyprus and Turkish Cyprus on the status of the divided island ended without any significant breakthroughs. In an email interview, Michális S. Michael, deputy director of the Center for Dialogue at La Trobe University, discussed the Cyprus talks. WPR: What are the primary areas of progress in talks between Cyprus and Turkish Cyprus, and how do they compare with the final status of talks in 2004? Michális S. Michael: In contrast to 2004, and despite 126 high-level meetings since 2008, little progress has been achieved on the core issues separating the two sides. While […]
BEIJING — Since 2009, China’s credit-fueled economic stimulus plan has dramatically increased overall indebtedness and created new risks to long-term headline growth. Among the most acute of these is mounting local government debt, which has tripled as a percentage of GDP since 2008 amid a carnival of inefficient spending. Clearing up the mess has emerged as a key challenge for maintaining strong economic growth. However, the solution is as much political as economic and requires a fundamental rebalancing of the power relations between central and local government. Compared to most developed economies, China’s national debt levels remain low at around […]
With the Obama administration and Republican congressional leaders locked in an impasse over the U.S. debt ceiling, U.S. diplomats are trying to convince China there is nothing serious to worry about: The debt ceiling will soon be raised, and America will not default on its foreign-held loans. That is reassuring news for China, which by some estimates is holding hundreds of billions of dollars in U.S. Treasury bonds. But if the political gridlock in Washington has been the cause of some economic jitters in Beijing, it is generally understood that the U.S. default crisis is politically generated and will, one […]
Matthew C. DuPée’s WPR briefing last week on Afghanistan’s counternarcotics efforts skillfully analyzes how U.S, U.N. and Afghan policies are failing to achieve an enduring reduction in the country’s opium production. Now neighboring governments, especially Russia, are growing increasingly worried that NATO’s withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan will force them to confront the problem largely by themselves. At present, the main threat Russia faces from Afghanistan comes in the form of Afghan narcotics exports. According to the United Nations, Russians are consuming much of the recent surge in Afghan narcotics production, which has occurred despite stagnant or even declining […]
Economic and diplomatic relations between Iran and Turkey have improved significantly in recent years, and for good reason. Each side offers something the other needs. Turkey needs oil and gas for its growing economy and a market for its export products. Iran is Turkey’s second-largest supplier of natural gas and is eager to buy many Turkish products. Iran also needs trade partners who are willing to ignore American and international sanctions to sell it the products others won’t. Turkey has done just that, ignoring the sanctions selectively and periodically. In 2010, for example, Turkey exported gasoline to Iran at a […]
There’s a peaceful revolution underway on the windswept high plains of Bolivia. It’s about gaining access to power — electrical power, that is. Small communities now have access to electricity for the first time through solar and wind power systems.
The Qatari energy corporation Qatargas recently signed a deal with Argentina to provide 16 percent of the Latin American country’s natural gas needs for 20 years. In an email interview, Giacomo Luciani, Princeton global scholar and scientific director of the international energy program at the Paris School of International Affairs, discussed Qatar’s natural gas industry. WPR: What is the extent of the global liquefied natural gas (LNG) market, and what is Qatar’s share, including its major LNG trade partners? Giacomo Luciani: The global LNG trade has been rapidly expanding and can be expected to continue to do so. According to […]
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has met with Chinese leader Hu Jintao for bilateral trade talks during his visit to China. While the Chinese leader’s eyes are on Iraqi oil, Maliki is eying Chinese investments to redevelop war-ravaged Iraq.
The Nord Stream natural gas pipeline has the potential to deliver much of northern Europe’s natural gas requirements from a reliable source in Siberia to the German coast. It is one of Russian energy giant Gazprom’s best-planned and most-ambitious projects, involving a consortium of construction firms around the Baltic region and investors from Europe’s major energy firms. Yet when the first of the project’s two planned pipelines through the Baltic Sea was completed in May, it became apparent that Nord Stream’s cost was much higher than originally projected. Though the impact will be felt by all of the project’s European […]
Depending on your perspective, the original “Red Dawn,” released in 1984, was either a coming-of-age milestone or a crime against the medium of cinema. The movie pitted a high school football team in rural Colorado against the better part of a Soviet airborne brigade, the former led by Patrick Swayze and the latter led, for some reason, by a Cuban colonel. Not surprisingly for an American film, the Americans do quite well, although they are eventually overwhelmed by the firepower of Soviet helicopter gunships. Later this year, a remake of “Red Dawn” will hit the screens in the United States. […]
NEW DELHI — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in India yesterday for the second strategic dialogue between the two countries. The meeting’s agenda was dominated by the need to strengthen strategic counterterrorism and defense cooperation, iron out wrinkles over nuclear cooperation and adapt to the tectonic shift in the geopolitics of the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. The bilateral strategic dialogue was put into motion during Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna’s visit to Washington in March. Though there was nothing to rival the high-adrenaline excitement surrounding the 2008 Indo-U.S. nuclear deal or the histrionics that characterized U.S. President Barack Obama’s November […]