After a decade of gradual rapprochement anchored by booming bilateral energy ties and close coordination on combating Kurdish separatists, Iran and Turkey are struggling to maintain a veneer of mutual amity and cooperation. In recent months, Iran and Turkey have shown growing signs of estrangement. At the heart of their differences lie the Syrian crisis and Ankara’s gradual alignment with the West’s efforts to check Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The two neighbors continue to be bound, however, by a complex and deepening state of energy interdependence, which explains why both sides continue to exercise a measure of self-restraint in their engagements […]

Though Russian oil production continues to rise and is currently approaching Soviet-era levels, forecasts predict it will soon peak and then decline, causing potential problems both for global oil importers and the Russian government’s budget. Averting this decline will require applying more-advanced production techniques to existing fields and exploiting new ones in the Arctic Ocean and elsewhere. Russia’s oil companies will be unable to accomplish this transformation on their own, however. To do so, they will need to secure greater foreign investment and partnerships offering more-advanced technologies and the exposure to better management skills. The benefits of increased foreign investment […]

With peace talks engaged for the first time in a decade, and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) at its weakest point in history, Colombia’s once-stifled oil and mining sectors have taken off, enabling oil production to reach a record of 1 million barrels per day in late-December. Yet the extractive industry has found itself increasingly targeted by the FARC and other rebels who are seeking to force concessions from the government, putting foreign investment, now at all-time highs, at risk. The FARC are suspected in the bombing of a gas pipeline in La Guajira in Northeastern Colombia on […]

Venezuela president Hugo Chavez.

Although it is difficult to predict the precise course of Venezuela’s current leadership transition, it is almost certain that President Hugo Chavez will pass away within the coming weeks or months. His departure will impact not only Venezuela, but also the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), the regional bloc that Chavez founded to promote his vision of Bolivarian socialism. While conventional wisdom assumes these impacts will be mostly negative, this is not necessarily the case. In fact, another outcome is possible: A rejuvenated ALBA could take shape, one centered on a new coalition of pragmatists and restructured around economic […]

On Dec. 5, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia heard testimony from American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Michael Rubin on Iran’s influence in the South Caucasus. While Rubin detailed Iran’s close ties to Armenia and contrasted them to Iran’s uneasy relationship with Azerbaijan, he closed his testimony with unexpected warnings of a potential Georgian alignment with Iran (pdf). “The victory of [Prime Minister] Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream party in October 2012 elections threatens to radically reorient the Republic of Georgia, which, under President Mikheil Saakashvili, has been reliably pro-Western,” cautioned Rubin, adding that Ivanishvili’s pledge to […]

The Arctic is melting faster than anyone predicted. The World Meteorological Organization announced that ice melt in the Arctic reached a new record in 2012 when an area of ice larger than the continental United States vanished between the months of March and September. The seasonal thaw contributed to a new record in regional shipping as well, with more vessels than ever hauling cargo between Europe and Asia across the top of the world. And international energy companies spent record time searching for oil and gas beneath the frigid waters. But in spite of these trends, the Arctic probably won’t […]

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When the world thinks of up-and-coming economies, the only non-Asian country that readily comes to mind is Brazil. That, however, may soon change. The stars are aligning, presaging what could prove to be a brilliant future for Mexico. Latin America’s second-largest economy has long suffered from a combination of problems, some of which produced gruesomely bad press along with a hard-to-erase negative image. The problems, to be sure, have been real. But the image has been anything but balanced. Pictures of brutal killings in the country’s drug wars and high-pitched debates in the U.S. about waves of impoverished Mexican immigrants […]