The recent review conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which took place April 8-19, addressed many important issues, including the need to completely eliminate the Russian and U.S. Cold War-era arsenals; states of proliferation concern that have refused to join the CWC; suspected chemical weapons use in Syria; tensions over technology-sharing and export controls; and the growing financial resource constraints on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which has the lead responsibility for administering and verifying the convention. But overshadowing all these issues are revolutionary and interrelated changes in chemistry, biology and nano and information technologies. […]

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano designated Enrico Letta the country’s new prime minister Wednesday, tasking him with forming a government after months of stalemate. Letta “knows he has a very difficult task ahead of him,” Silvia Francescon, head of the Rome office of the European Council on Foreign Relations, told Trend Lines. “He said, ‘I feel the weight on my shoulders,’ and he is not sure if he can bear this weight, if his shoulders are strong enough.” But as Francescon wrote in a blog post the day Letta was named, there is no alternative for a country so “hampered by […]

When authorities revealed the identity of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings, the news that the two men, Tamerlan and Dzokhar Tsarnaev, were of Chechen origin might have put a smile of satisfaction on Vladimir Putin’s face. After all, the Russian president might have concluded, a terrorist attack by Chechens in America would go some way in vindicating his hard-line approach to Chechen rebels. The fact, however, is that the evidence so far does not support that view. Judging by what we know at this point, while the Tsarnaev brothers came from a Chechen family, their ideology had little […]

Last month, the agricultural ministers of the European Union agreed to significant reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy governing member states. In an email interview, Wyn Grant, a political scientist with research interests in agricultural policy and the European Union, explained the main reforms and how they will be implemented. WPR: What are the main reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy included in the proposal adopted by the Council of the European Union last month? Wyn Grant: It is important to note that the CAP budget proposed for 2014-2020 will be about $20 billion below what the European Commission wanted, […]

Later this month, representatives from Russia, Norway, Denmark, Canada and the United States will meet in Washington to discuss a possible accord that would regulate commercial fishing near the North Pole. Until recently, lack of regulation over the Arctic Ocean was not a priority for world powers, since ice made its waters inaccessible. But as the world warms, more and more polar ice thaws during the summers, creating newly opened waters and the need to address commercial exploitation. The agreement under discussion, a possible fishing moratorium, “would set an important precedent by way of deviating from the frontier mentality that […]

article card

The significance of the ethnicity of the two Boston Marathon bombers is still unclear, as are the reasons for the Tsarnaev brothers’ transformation into Islamist terrorists, but the latest evidence seems to suggest that the elder brother’s trip last year to the North Caucasus played a key role. Many of the family’s friends and relatives still live in the North Caucasus, which includes the republics of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia. The region has been a hotbed of radicalism and militarism for at least a century. The North Caucasus became radicalized after Czarist Russia conquered the previously independent Muslim peoplesin the […]

Even without the tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon this week, it is unlikely that the visit of U.S. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon to Moscow would have generated front-page news. But his meetings — including direct contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin, to whom Donilon handed over a personal letter from President Barack Obama — could end up being quite significant. After a year in which U.S.-Russia relations have deteriorated, Donilon’s visit, which had already been postponed twice, was intended to reverse this decline and break the deadlock created by disagreements over Syria and human rights. Unfortunately, Donilon arrived […]

The International Energy Agency, an organization comprising 28 industrialized countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) aimed among other things at preserving global energy security, is reportedly seeking to expand energy cooperation with emerging powers. In an email interview, Thijs Van de Graaf, a postdoctoral fellow at the Ghent Institute for International Studies specializing in global energy politics and international institutions, explained the IEA’s expansion drive and its likely effects. WPR: What is motivating the IEA’s push to form an “association” with emerging economies for the first time in its 40-year history? Van de Graaf: When […]

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen recently undertook a week-long visit to Japan and South Korea, highlighting NATO’s growing role in Asian security in partnership with nonmember governments. Rasmussen is convinced that NATO needs to deepen cooperation with partner states to address global security issues that can negatively impact NATO members’ security. Conversely, NATO has unique capabilities and experience in leading multinational military campaigns, as in Afghanistan and Libya, which can be applied to joint efforts among NATO and partner states to address security concerns in Asia and beyond. Since taking office in August 2009, Rasmussen has tried to induce alliance […]

article card

The announcement this week that Jabhat al-Nusra (the Nusra Front), one of the main armed groups battling to take down the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has formally announced its allegiance to al-Qaida could signal a major shift in Syria’s two-year-long civil war. It certainly complicates matters for the United States. Over the past several months, Washington has concentrated its efforts on two parallel but complementary tracks: forging a broad-based, secular-leaning, pro-Western provisional government that could take over the administration of areas where the government in Damascus has lost control; and encouraging different rebel military groups to develop a […]

Georgia’s recent announcement of its intention to contribute to the European Union military training mission in Mali signals not only Tbilisi’s continued role as a reliable supplier of forces for Euro-Atlantic security missions, but also the Georgian military’s ambitions as a niche counterterrorism force. Under the new Georgian Dream coalition government, the Defense Ministry is embarking on a series of reforms to fit its force structure to this mission set. After the surprise victory of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream coalition in Georgia’s October 2012 parliamentary elections, the new government was quick to reaffirm the country’s Western orientation. This included carrying […]

article card

Experts are debating what precisely are the motives behind North Korea’s recent spike in belligerent rhetoric and posturing, with answers ranging from the opinion that “war talk” is an attempt by the North’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, to solidify his hold on power to the worry that the regime is losing its grip on reality. What is more certain, however, is the set of assumptions guiding Pyongyang’s strategic calculus. Whether the North Korean leadership’s assessments are accurate or not — and what steps the other powers in the region take to correct them — may help determine how this […]

Leaders from Serbia and Kosovo, who came together in Brussels earlier this week for the last of eight rounds of formal talks mediated by the European Union, failed to come to an agreement on the status of northern Kosovo. Kosovo, a former Serbian province, declared its independence in 2008, but Serbia has never recognized it as an independent state. Ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo reject the authority of the government in Pristina, Kosovo’s capital. Marko Prelec, director of the International Crisis Group’s Balkans Project, told Trend Lines in an email interview that there is still time to strike a deal […]

Turkey and Israel are moving toward reconciliation at the same time that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has declared a cease-fire in its armed struggle with the Turkish state. Combined, the two developments have paved the way for Ankara to achieve its longstanding goal of becoming a regional energy transit hub, but ongoing disputes with Cyprus and Iraq mean that further progress remains uncertain. On March 24, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized on Israel’s behalf to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the deadly Gaza flotilla raid by Israeli forces in 2010. The apology is expected among other […]

In mid-March, three suspected militants were killed by Russian forces in the North Caucasus, a region that has long been a site of Islamist and separatist violence, beginning with the Chechen wars in the 1990s. In an email interview, Domitilla Sagramoso, a lecturer in security and development at King’s College London who specializes in conflict, security and development in Russia, the Caucasus and Central Asia, explained the roots of the ongoing violence in the region and the evolution of Russia’s response to it. WPR: What is the immediate background and current extent of the insurgency in Russia’s North Caucasus? Domitilla […]

In recent weeks, the Republic of Belarus has been attempting to break out of its near isolation from the European Union and end a period of tension that began after Belarus’ December 2010 presidential election. Following the arrests of more than 700 protesters in Minsk’s Independence Square after the election, the EU revived its travel sanctions on leading Belarusian political and judicial figures, headed by President Alexander Lukashenko. In response to the EU’s actions and its demand for the release of all political prisoners, including former presidential candidate Mikalai Statkevich, Belarus moved measurably closer to Russia. Belarus is a full-fledged […]

On March 8 in Caracas, Raúl Castro, looking somber, stood in a place of honor beside Hugo Chávez’s casket during the late Venezuelan president’s state funeral. Castro was no doubt pondering what Chávez’s death means for Cuba’s ambitious economic reform program — or “updating” of the economic model, as Cubans prefer to call it. Not long after Chávez’s first election victory in 1998, he and Fidel Castro signed the first of what would become more than 100 bilateral cooperation agreements. By the time Chávez died, Venezuela was providing Cuba with some 110,000 barrels of oil daily at subsidized prices, worth […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 181 2 Last