For the past year and a half, the Arab Spring has convulsed the Middle East. It has resulted in the overthrow of four leaders who only two years before seemed destined to rule for life, plunged another country into a fratricidal civil war and placed even long-established monarchies under renewed political and economic stress. What triggered this tsunami of political upheaval? And is it localized to the Arab world, or could it spread? It is no secret that authorities in Beijing and Moscow are playing close attention, attempting to ferret out any indications that a prerevolutionary situation may be building […]

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Boston University acted as a safeguard for the oral histories of former Northern Irish militants. Participants were promised their stories would remain private until their deaths. But new clues in an unsolved murder in Ireland triggered the U.S. Department of Justice to subpoena the tapes.

Police in Greece conducted a massive immigration operation earlier this month that resulted in thousands of arrests. In an email interview, Gabriella Lazaridis, a senior lecturer in the department of politics and international relations at the University of Leicester, discussed Greece’s immigration crackdown. WPR: What is the current situation in terms of trends in legal and illegal immigration to Greece as well as Greek immigration policy? Gabriella Lazaridis: Since the beginning of the 1990s, Greece has changed from an emigration to an immigration country. In the first quarter of 2012, some 64 percent of all irregular migrants in the European […]

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu visited France last month in an effort to improve the two countries’ strained bilateral relationship. In an email interview, Dorothée Schmid, head of the Turkey program at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), discussed France-Turkey relations. WPR: What explains the deterioration of Franco-Turkish relations over the past several years? Dorothée Schmid: Three main issues became contentious between France and Turkey over the past decade. In chronological order, the recognition of the Armenian genocide came first: The French Parliament passed a bill in 2001 officially calling the events of 1915 a genocide, triggering an immediate […]

Editor’s note: Ulrike Guérot is on a two-week break. Guest columnist Richard Gowan will be writing the Continentalist while she is gone. The Syrian civil war is becoming simultaneously more brutal and more confusing. As the battle for Aleppo has dragged on and diplomatic efforts to forge a peace deal have been derailed, it has been hard to assess whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime are close to collapse or able to sustain a protracted war. Yet there is a growing sense that, if and when Assad falls, some sort of international peacekeeping force will likely be needed […]

Recent high-level visits by Russian officials to Islamabad and an upcoming trip by Russian President Vladimir Putin, the first-ever by a Russian head of state since Pakistan’s independence, are highlighting Russia’s efforts to bolster strategic ties with the South Asian country. While looking to secure its near abroad in advance of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan in 2014, Russia is also moving to deepen its geo-economic ties with South Asia as a whole, with Pakistan serving as a gateway for energy trade to the entire subcontinent. For Pakistan, Russia can not only help the civilian government in Islamabad […]

Several European Union countries recently asked the European Commission to consider sanctions against Iceland for allegedly exceeding its fishing quota for mackerel. In an email interview, Eirikur Bergmann, an associate professor of political science at Bifrost University in Iceland, discussed the mackerel dispute between the EU and Iceland. WPR: What is the background of the current fishing dispute between Iceland and the European Union? Eirikur Bergmann: Backed by France, Portugal, Ireland and Spain, the European Union is considering sanctions against Iceland and the Faroe Islands for overfishing of mackerel, a pelagic fish stock in the North Atlantic. Mackerel has an […]

Last month Slovenia threatened to block Croatia’s accession to the European Union over an unresolved banking dispute. In an email interview, Kristof Bender, the deputy chairman of the European Stability Initiative, discussed relations between Croatia and Slovenia in the context of the European Union. WPR: How have Slovenia-Croatia relations evolved since the breakup of Yugoslavia? Kristof Bender: Most of the time relations between Slovenia and Croatia have been good, particularly if measured by post-Yugoslav standards. Exceptions include a row over the management, ownership and financing of a jointly operated nuclear power plant; a dispute over more than $210 million in […]

The back-to-back visits to India last month by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, in charge of that country’s military-industrial complex, demonstrate the heightened competition for India’s defense import market, currently the largest in the world. India has been the leading global arms importer in recent years, with its weapons purchases totaling $12.7 billion from 2007-2011, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Over that period, 80 percent of India’s defense imports came from Russia, making New Delhi the leading purchaser of Russian arms. But Russian officials fear that various […]

Editor’s note: Ulrike Guérot is on a two-week break. Guest columnist Richard Gowan will be writing the Continentalist while she is gone. Is the European Union about to engage in a proxy war in the Sahara? In late-July, European foreign ministers directed EU officials to come up with “concrete proposals” for supporting an African stabilization force in Mali. There’s no doubt that Mali needs stabilizing: Islamist separatists with links to al-Qaida have seized the north of the country, and the south has been in political turmoil since a coup in March. What can the EU do to contain and resolve […]

There are several reasons why American presidential candidates include overseas trips as part of their campaigning. First, and particularly important for those aspirants who lack significant foreign policy experience, it allows American voters to get a preview as to how the candidate might represent the United States on the global stage by interacting with foreign leaders and communicating with international audiences. In 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama’s jaunt across the Atlantic, especially his “rock star” rally in Berlin’s Tiergarten and his visit to U.S. troops in Iraq, was quite successful in positioning the junior senator from Illinois as a plausible world […]

When the United States led an international coalition in a military intervention against the regime of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi last year, I was among those who argued the campaign was not in the vital interests of the United States. Libya, a country of just 6 million people and around 3 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, was simply not important enough to risk the lives of U.S. servicemen — or any more treasure, given what the United States had already spent in Iraq and Afghanistan. My own experiences in both of those countries as a soldier have […]