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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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

Observers of the uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia and other countries in the Arab world have focused with great excitement on the role played by new media, suggesting the events demonstrate the power of social networks to build a revolution. The rebellion, they say, was a uniquely 21st-century product of Twitter, Facebook and even Wikileaks. The reality, however, is much more complex. Many factors came into play to unleash the chain reaction that came crashing into Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Some of those factors are as new as the iPhone, others as old as the slingshot. But what made the long-simmering popular […]

As the recession recedes, fuel prices have begun to soar across Latin America, confronting governments with the dilemma of how to balance fiscal demands with energy subsidies that are increasingly wreaking budgetary havoc, especially in the Andean nations. The Bolivian and Chilean governments’ recent efforts to confront that dilemma led to dramatic images of unrest, with protesters in both nations burning tires, throwing rocks and building barricades in response to announced policy changes. At the end of December, major cities across Bolivia erupted when President Evo Morales’ government decided to remove price controls that were artificially depressing fuel prices. The […]

India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), announced in late December that it would no longer allow Indian importers to trade with Iran using the Asian Clearing Union (ACU), saying it wanted to explore an alternate means of facilitating trade-related payments. The move came as something of a surprise, even though the U.S. had been pushing India to take this measure for quite some time. For its part, Iran did not welcome the move and initially put the onus on India to find an alternative mechanism. Talks are currently underway to resolve the issue. Nevertheless, the episode has […]