BEIJING — China’s expanding economic engagement with Latin America has been largely based on securing access to the continent’s abundant natural resources. But despite the opportunities presented by the wave of Chinese capital, concerns have arisen over the asymmetric and one-dimensional nature of China’s relations in the region, which generally conform to the classic center-periphery model. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping’s recent three-country tour of the continent was aimed at addressing these concerns, outlining a blueprint for how China’s incoming leadership intends to deepen its international relations and consolidate recent economic foreign policy gains. In 2010, more than 90 percent […]

The discovery of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, has raised uncomfortable questions about both Islamabad’s relationship with terrorism and Washington’s relationship with Islamabad. Even as the U.S. edges toward its goal of “disrupting, dismantling and defeating al-Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” a cocktail of other groups in Pakistan — Harakat-ul-Jihad ul-Islami (HuJI), Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) key among them — are ready to step into any void left by al-Qaida, often with official support. In fact, Islamabad has an economic incentive to keep them alive: As long as such groups are active, the U.S. will provide Pakistan with […]

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Last week, the Islamist group Boko Haram bombed Nigeria’s police headquarters in Abuja, killing six. In an email interview, Jennifer Giroux, a senior researcher at the Crisis and Risk Network at ETH Zurich, discussed Nigeria’s rebel groups. WPR: Who are the main rebel groups in Nigeria, and what are their main objectives? Jennifer Giroux: Nigeria is a complicated case. One can delineate two types of rebel groups. The first operates in the south in the Niger Delta, where decades of poor natural-resource management has left the region in a state of low development, high poverty and significant environmental damage. The […]

Against the backdrop of an escalating crisis with Vietnam over territorial claims in the waters off the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, China declared that it would boost its “offshore surveillance capability.” This, a Chinese state media report claimed, was aimed at forestalling any aggressive moves by China’s neighbors in its claimed maritime territories. Though the report did not name any particular nation, the message was seen as being squarely directed at Vietnam, which Beijing has described as being “overtly hostile” in its recent actions and pronouncements. China’s decision to enhance its ocean surveillance capability is not surprising. […]

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The latest round of U.N.-sponsored talks to resolve the conflict over Western Sahara foundered recently. In an email interview, Yahia H. Zoubir, a professor of international relations and international management and the director of research in geopolitics at Euromed Management in Marseilles, France, discussed the Western Sahara talks. WPR: What are the major issues involved in the Western Sahara conflict? Yahia H. Zoubir: There are two major issues. First is the illegal occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco, which invaded the territory in 1975, despite an opinion issued by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The ICJ had refuted Morocco’s […]

With oil prices nearing $120 a barrel and Libyan exports shut down, all eyes were on the 12 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) during their meeting in Vienna earlier this month. The International Energy Agency (IEA) had strongly urged OPEC, which produces 40 percent of the world’s oil and holds much of the spare capacity, to raise production output to stem rocketing oil prices and prevent a potential double-dip recession. That did not happen. In what Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi labeled one of the worst meetings he had attended, the proposal by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, […]

In his greeting sent to the 16th World Meteorological Congress, which wrapped up in Geneva on June 3, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomed proposals on the congress’ agenda that he said (.pdf) would “assist the poorest and most vulnerable countries [to] adapt to inevitable impacts [of climate change].” Ban urged members to “continue [their] work to improve predictions and early warning on impending weather and climate hazards. This issue will only grow in importance.” Indeed, increases in climate variability have negatively affected the economic development and welfare of the least developed nations over the past several decades. For much […]

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Sudan and Ethiopia recently reached a initial agreement to explore and develop mineral resources along their shared border. In an email interview, David Shinn, a former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia and a current adjunct professor of international relations at George Washington University, discussed Ethiopia-Sudan relations. WPR: What is the recent history of relations between Ethiopia and Sudan? David Shinn: Ethiopia and Sudan have a long history of alternating periods of conflict and cooperation. Following the outbreak of war between Eritrea and Ethiopia in 1998, Ethiopia’s relationship with Sudan shifted from hostile to cordial as Ethiopia sought to ensure peace on […]

Chile and Brazil have both been in the news in recent weeks due to massive and controversial hydroelectric projects that have provoked heated debates and large-scale protests. Both countries are struggling with the delicate issue of how to balance the need for increased energy supplies to fuel modernizing and booming economies, with important environmental concerns in cherished parts of each country — the Amazon in Brazil and Patagonia in Chile. Like most people in emerging economies, Brazilians and Chileans are unwilling to renounce a modern lifestyle that increasingly demands access to reliable and affordable energy supplies. But the controversy surrounding […]

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Vietnam’s live-fire naval exercises this week may signal a new stage of regional tension over disputed areas of the potentially oil- and gas-rich South China Sea. At a minimum, says Abraham Denmark, a senior adviser at the Center for Naval Analysis in Washington and a World Politics Review contributor, the exercises were designed to send a message to China, which in recent months has become more assertive in its claims of sovereignty over the sea. “It’s fairly clear that Vietnam is signaling its resolve to China that they’re not going to back down on disputed claims in the South China […]

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Kenya and Ethiopia recently agreed to boost security along their shared border following deadly cross-border raids in May. In an email interview, Edmond J. Keller, chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Los Angeles,* discussed Kenya-Ethiopia border security. WPR: What are the main areas of concern with regard to the Ethiopia-Kenya border? Edmond J. Keller: The border between Ethiopia and Kenya is more than 500 miles long and rests in very remote and underdeveloped parts of both countries. On the Kenya side, elements of the Turkana cattle herders are the population; on the Ethiopia side, […]

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Iraq in May to discuss investments in Iraqi energy projects, among other issues. In an email interview, Marat Terterov, director and principal founder of the European Geopolitical Forum in Brussels, discussed Russia-Iraq relations. WPR: What is the recent history of Iraq-Russia relations? Marat Terterov: Russia, along with France, was one of Iraq’s closer allies during the 1990s, when Baghdad was heavily isolated and subject to U.N. sanctions. Moscow frequently lent diplomatic support to Baghdad during this period, pushing for the lifting of the oil embargo against Iraq and condemning occasional U.S. and U.K. airstrikes […]

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Ukraine is moving to liberalize its land market, but, according to recent statements by the country’s agriculture minister, foreigners will be prohibited from purchasing agricultural land. In an email interview, Leo A. Krasnozhon, a visiting assistant professor of economics at the University of Texas at Arlington, discussed Ukraine’s agricultural land policies. WPR: What is the extent of Ukraine’s agricultural trade, and who are its major trading partners? Leo A. Krasnozhon: Agricultural trade plays a very important role in Ukraine’s economy. Ukraine is one of the top world exporters of grain, which generates 15 percent of the country’s exports, or $7.5 […]

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Uganda recently held talks with Southern Sudan about importing oil from the soon-to-be-independent state. Meanwhile, Sudan engaged in broad-ranging talks with two of its western neighbors, the Central African Republic and Chad. In an email interview, Jonathan Temin, director of the U.S. Institute of Peace’s Sudan program, discussed the regional implications of south Sudan’s secession. WPR: How do Sudan’s sub-Saharan neighbors view South Sudan’s upcoming independence? Jonathan Temin: Historically, Sudan’s sub-Saharan neighbors, especially Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia, have been supportive of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and its political wing, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, as well as of […]

It is time for President Barack Obama to initiate an informal, tripartite dialogue with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev about stabilizing the global price of oil. Leaving the decision in the hands of speculators has not served the interests of any of these three countries. At midweek, the price, while coming down, still stood higher than $100 a barrel, with Brent crude currently trading at roughly $112 a barrel. Counterintuitively, oil producers are hoping the price descends further, because if oil gets too expensive, customers begin looking for other sources of energy. Last week, speaking […]