Earlier this month, Abu Dhabi officially green-lighted construction of its first nuclear power plant, under the stewardship of the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), at the Braka site located just west of the Emirati capital. The historic construction marks the first nuclear power plant on the Arabian Peninsula and highlights how the oil-flush region has been forced to recalibrate its energy strategy in light of soaring demand for electricity. The move also acts as a soft hedge against the potential weaponization of Iran’s nuclear program, which is a primary security concern for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and its neighbors […]

Among countries that exemplify poorly managed economies, Afghanistan figures prominently. Many factors currently weigh down the Afghan economy, including negative current account balances, unrestrained government spending, low productivity, negligible income taxes, years of cheap and fraudulent lending and widespread graft. The prospects for the future are no more optimistic. The impending international troop drawdown combined with inadequate security and looming uncertainty beyond 2014 have made the country a financial no-go zone for foreign investors. Afghanistan is beginning to suffer from the departure of the large sums of foreign capital and investment it has largely depended on for years. Reportedly, every […]

In the month since Washington Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran published “Little America,” his brutal review of the U.S. and allied war effort in Afghanistan, it has been interesting to observe the reactions from the various tribes of the Beltway. No one escapes criticism in Chandrasekaran’s narrative, this columnist included, but the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Marine Corps come under especially heavy fire. The reaction from the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. military as a whole has been to add the book and its criticisms to the list of lessons that need […]

A remarkable transformation is underway in a country where most people were nomadic herders a generation ago. Mongolia has the fastest-growing economy in the world, with GDP increasing by more than 17 percent last year. It sits on vast precious metal and mineral resources: The 10 biggest deposits alone are estimated to be worth almost $1.5 trillion. Given all this wealth in a country of only 3 million people, Mongolia has the potential to become an Asian version of Norway. However, popular anger is growing as fast as the economy. Despite the “gold rush,” the poverty rate increased between 2008 […]

In the traumatic months after the attacks of Sept. 11, the United States struggled to understand the new world it faced and to redirect its security strategy away from “rogue states” relying on conventional military power to the shadowy and ambiguous terrorist threat. Some components of the new strategy, such as augmented homeland security and increased assistance to partner states, were obvious and fell easily into place. How to use U.S. military power in an offensive way against terrorism was not so clear. The initial reaction of the Bush administration reflected the old saw that when all one has is […]

On Sept. 30, 2011, Anwar al-Awlaki was riding in a convoy in northern Yemen’s al-Jawf province with several other suspected members of the terrorist group al-Qaida. Awlaki, a Yemeni cleric, had long been on a so-called kill list of terrorist leaders targeted by the U.S. government for elimination. On that day, two Predator drones operating in the skies above fired seven Hellfire missiles, killing Awlaki and, among others, a colleague named Samir Khan. In itself, the killing was simply another skirmish in the 10-year U.S.-led war on terror, which since Sept. 11, 2001, has stretched from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the […]

Thanks to the Obama administration’s aggressive use of classified leaks to the press, we are encouraged to believe that President Barack Obama has engineered a revolutionary shift in both America’s geopolitical priorities and our military means of pursuing those ends. As re-election sales jobs go, it presses lukewarm-button issues, but it does so ably. But since foreign policy has never been the president’s focus, we should in turn recognize these maneuvers for what they truly are: an accommodation with inescapable domestic realities, one that at best postpones and at worst sabotages America’s needed geostrategic adjustment to a world co-managed with […]

It looks like the vaunted U.S. pivot to Asia is going to be delayed. The ongoing conflict in Syria and the escalation of tensions with Iran make it highly unlikely that Washington will be able to shift away from its long-held priority focus on the Middle East anytime soon. When the Asia pivot was first floated by the Obama administration in 2009, it was based on a series of strategic assessments about the likely future of the Middle East. There was guarded optimism that a combination of effective sanctions and deft diplomacy could produce a workable deal on the Iranian […]

The head of a Chinese military delegation visiting the Seychelles earlier this month said that his country was interested in developing closer military ties with the Indian Ocean nation. In an email interview, Jonathan Holslag, a researcher at the Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies, discussed China’s relations with the Seychelles. WPR: What is the current state of China-Seychelles political, trade and military relations? Jonathan Holslag: The partnership is characterized more by great expectations on the part of the Seychelles rather than a great Chinese presence. China’s visibility is growing. More tourists are discovering the island states, and some private […]

If the critics of the United Nations were to design a scenario to make the organization seem absolutely irrelevant, it would look a lot like this week’s debacle over Syria. On Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council was meant to vote on a Western resolution to impose sanctions on Syria unless the government of embattled President Bashar al-Assad ceased significant military operations within 10 days. The vote was delayed after three high-ranking members of Assad’s inner circle, including his brother-in-law Assef Shawkat and Defense Minister Gen. Dawoud Rajiha, were killed in Damascus that day. But with fighting escalating in Syria, the […]

On Monday, a U.S. Navy refueling ship in the Persian Gulf opened fire on what turned out to be a fishing boat, killing one Indian man and wounding three others after they ignored several warnings to stop their rapid approach. While the U.S. has offered condolences to the families of the fishermen, it has suggested that the use of force was justified, particularly in the context of a Navy that is more wary than ever of the dangers small boats can pose to large ships. “Starting with the USS Cole attack, the U.S. Navy came to recognize that there were […]

This past week, during an unannounced visit to Kabul, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that the Obama administration had designated Afghanistan a “major non-NATO ally.” Though the status does not carry with it any sort of legal expectation that the United States will consider an attack against Afghanistan as an attack on the U.S., it is one of the most significant designations in America’s diplomatic arsenal in terms of upgrading a bilateral relationship outside a formal treaty of alliance. Most reports indicate that this status was granted to Afghanistan to reassure the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai […]

One evening last week, the Chinese government threw a dinner party for a visiting international delegation. If the menu that night in Beijing was strictly kosher, it was because the guests of honor for the event came from Israel. And the day had featured a remarkable event. Just hours earlier, China’s Minister of Transportation Li Shenglin and his Israeli counterpart, Yisrael Katz, had signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on a multibillion dollar project inside Israel that some say could constitute an alternative trade route to the Suez Canal. While it is doubtful the Suez Canal’s importance will be […]

Uzbekistan formally withdrew from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) on June 28. In an email interview, Alexander Cooley, the Tow professor of political science at Barnard College, Columbia University, discussed Uzbekistan’s rationale for leaving the Russian-backed security organization. WPR: What were the causes, both underlying and immediate, behind Uzbekistan’s exit from the CSTO? Alexander Cooley: Uzbekistan had been a nonenthusiastic member of the Russian-led CSTO since 2006, when it rejoined the organization after falling out with the West over the government’s brutal crackdown on protesters in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijan in May 2005. However, Tashkent has long […]

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