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The continuing clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces in Venezuela are being watched with a view toward the national interest in Caribbean and Latin American countries, most notably Cuba, which is feeling the impact of the contest for Caracas with particular intensity. The fall of President Nicolas Maduro and the end of the policies instituted by his mentor, the late President Hugo Chavez, would have strong repercussions in the region. Even if Maduro holds on, the Chavista goal of exporting Venezuela’s “Bolivarian” revolution and bringing Chavez’s brand of “21st century socialism” to the rest of Latin America has already […]

Last week, Saudi Arabia and China signed four agreements to expand bilateral cooperation and investment. In an email interview, Naser al-Tamimi, a Middle East analyst with a focus on Middle East-Asia relations, explained the recent trajectory of Saudi Arabia’s relationship with China and with East Asia more broadly. WPR: What has been the recent trajectory of Saudi-China relations, and what are the key areas of cooperation? Naser al-Tamimi: Energy and trade are at the heart of the growing links between Saudi Arabia and China. The bilateral relationship centers mostly on crude oil, petrochemical industries, refining, China’s cheap consumer goods and […]

Acting Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk traveled to Washington on Wednesday to plead for urgent U.S. help for his country, especially emergency assistance in coping with the country’s dire economic straits. Yet two polls of U.S. public opinion released this week will be little comfort to those pundits who advocate a more assertive American foreign policy, particularly in dealing with the current crisis in Ukraine. The Pew Center released data indicating that 56 percent of Americans eschew any major U.S. involvement in Ukraine, especially in confronting Russia over the situation in Crimea. A related CNN poll reveals only 6 percent […]

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was removed Tuesday after failing to stop a tanker from sailing away with an illicit shipment of Libyan oil. The event underscores the crucial role of the oil industry in the country’s current political instability, while further eroding initially optimistic expectations about Libya’s transition and the return to health of its oil industry. Not so long ago, the political and economic prospects for Libya looked brighter. The toppling of the Gadhafi regime in 2011 set the country on the path of a democratic transition. The oil sector, which is the backbone of the Libyan economy, […]

No, this is not a “war for oil,” to cite the old cliche. But behind all the maneuvering, speculation and strategizing in Russia’s conflict with Ukraine and the West, oil and gas reserves and the pipelines that turn them into cash lie in the background, just a step behind the principal action. Russia’s vast hydrocarbon stocks figure into the calculations of the major players, who worry Moscow may deploy them once again as a weapon. Oil has played a decisive role in the arsenal of geopolitical disputes. And Russia has proved willing to use its massive exports of natural gas […]

Russia’s military and diplomatic opposition to the overthrow of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has raised concern that Russia might cut off Ukraine’s gas as it has in previous disputes, disrupting broader European energy markets. In an email interview, Keith Smith, a former U.S. ambassador to Lithuania who is currently a distinguished resident fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, explained how Russia’s leverage over energy markets has changed since it last cut off gas supplies to Ukraine. The views expressed here are Smith’s and do not represent those of any organization. WPR: How has Ukraine’s position in the […]