It’s too soon to know how the events of this fast-fading year will ultimately reshape our world, but the upheaval we witnessed in 2011 will most assuredly keep future historians ponderously occupied. Indeed, it was a year of uprooting, breaking up and tilling the geopolitical soil — a year that will have mattered in many ways, many of which we don’t yet fully understand, but that clearly represent a turning point. Ten events in particular reshaped the global landscape in 2011. The Arab Uprisings. The spark lit by Tunisian food vendor Mohammed Bouazizi at the end of 2010 set much […]

article card

Russia presented a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council on Thursday that condemned the violence in Syria after nine months of protests and 5,000 deaths in that country. The proposal, which demands that “all parties in Syria immediately stop any violence irrespective of where it comes from,” followed months of deadlock over whether and how the Security Council should respond to the ongoing crisis. But while the draft resolution may represent a step closer to compromise, the debate over what comes next will continue, says Richard Gowan, an associate director at New York University’s Center on International Cooperation. […]

The Iraq War began with “shock and awe.” It ended with quiet dignity, with battle flags coming down from their standards, with a free but fragile Iraq walking into the unknown and a bloodied but unbowed U.S. military saluting its commander-in-chief and marching home. Much about America’s war in Iraq was remarkable: the rapid collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime, the surprising absence of WMDs, the unexpectedly high economic and human costs, the patience of the American people — eight years is a long war for this nation’s short attention span — the ferocity of the postwar occupation, the sacrifice and […]

The “Arab Spring” that started early in 2011 has shaken the entire Middle East. Rulers who had reigned for decades have been toppled; power has changed hands; and the few regimes that are resisting changes are still undergoing tumultuous unrest. Beijing has been forced to face the rapidly changing developments and make adjustments both to monitor the potential repercussions at home and to protect its growing commercial interests in the region. Beijing has responded to the events in the Middle East with tentative policy adjustments aimed at securing domestic stability and minimizing economic losses resulting from the unforseen and sudden […]

After a groundswell of anti-government protests enveloped many corners of North Africa a year ago, observers around the world began to wonder how far this democratic contagion would spread. In particular, many wondered whether northern Africa would inspire its neighbors in sub-Saharan Africa, which share many of the same demographic characteristics found in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), including a large percentage of unemployed young people, high food prices and years of oppression and unrealized opportunity at the hand of often-brutal dictators. At the time, political commentators in several corners of Africa seemed optimistic that the Arab Spring […]

Will the Arab Spring finally end the European Union’s lethargic approach to the southern Mediterranean and lead to more serious support for democratization? Don’t hold your breath. There are three key reasons why “business as usual” with only cosmetic changes is likely to remain the norm. First and foremost is the fact that Europe is in deep economic and financial crisis. With growing discord between France, Britain and Germany, not only the future of the euro but the very foundations of the European Union are at stake. Consumed by its own existential crisis, a serious rethinking of foreign policy is […]

The most striking image from last weekend’s demonstrations in Moscow against the regime of former president and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is that of protesters holding up iPads and iPhones over their heads, broadcasting the momentous events live over the Internet. The sight of young Russians, bundled up against the Moscow cold, speaking out for democracy via social media brings to mind the wave of political protests that have defined 2011 — from the Arab uprisings in the Middle East, to the Occupy movement in developed economies, and now in Russia. And it raises the question of just how […]

This week in the small Western Saharan town of Tifariti, delegations are arriving for the 13th Conference of the Polisario Front, the United Nations-recognized group that has fought since the 1970s for Western Sahara’s independence from Morocco. The gathering, to be held Dec. 15-20, is expected to draw some 1,500 people from the region, as well as from Asia, Europe and Latin America. It will broach a topic that has otherwise gone largely overlooked in the aftermath of the Arab Spring uprisings that have swept the Middle East and North Africa in the name of greater representation and government accountability: […]

The National Transitional Council of Libya has much on its plate, including most notably rebuilding the country in the wake of civil war while also preparing it for constitutional democracy. However, military challenges still beckon. In addition to residual fighting and managing the demands of competing militias, the Transitional Council is faced with the task of centralizing authority over violence and building a new, modern and professional Libyan military. The rump Libyan military is unlikely to be of much help. Although Moammar Gadhafi cultivated conflict with neighbors and distant foes alike, he relied more on Libya’s vast, inhospitable geography than […]

article card

The latest front in the Arab Spring opened up in the oil-rich Gulf kingdom of Kuwait when Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed Al Sabah issued a decree on Dec. 6 dissolving Kuwait’s parliament in response to months of protests. The decree, which requires that new elections be held within 60 days, has now become the focus of the growing political crisis in what has historically been the Gulf’s most liberal kingdom. Mark Katz, a George Mason University political scientist and an expert on Gulf politics, told Trend Lines that the situation, however chaotic, isn’t particularly surprising. “The idea of a parliamentary […]

article card

Turkey and China signed a deal last month for the construction of an underground natural gas storage facility at Lake Tuz in Turkey. In an email interview, Selcuk Colakoglu, an associate professor at the International Strategic Research Institution (USAK) in Ankara, Turkey, discussed relations between Turkey and China. WPR: What is the nature of trade relations between Turkey and China, including the main sectors of trade and direct investment? Selcuk Colakoglu: One of the main motivations of Ankara’s rapprochement with Beijing in the late-1990s was to gain economic benefits for Turkish businessmen in China. However, the increasing trade volume with […]

The recent elections in Egypt and Russia have important lessons for both Washington and Beijing about the contour of politics in the 21st century — and the limits of both authoritarianism and Western-style liberalism. For the past 12 years, as part of its campaign to modernize Russia, the Kremlin has encouraged the spread of new communications technology. However, over the course of his time first as president and then as prime minister, Vladimir Putin’s concern with mass communications focused primarily on shaping television coverage. Meanwhile, the growth in Russians’ mobile phone usage, in particular, has been quite dramatic. If less […]

article card

With the European financial crisis dominating headlines, little attention has been given to the Eueopean Union’s recently announced plan to send a team of police and security experts to North Africa to ramp up counterterrorism efforts against al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. The development, announced earlier this week, comes after a spate of kidnappings of Westerners by AQIM-affiliated groups, along with mounting concerns that weapons from the conflict in Libya could end up in the organization’s hands. That the EU has decided to focus on police training rather than military assistance can best be explained by the nature of the […]

article card

In a memorandum issued by President Barack Obama and a speech made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the administration on Tuesday unveiled a plan to “promote and protect” the human rights of gay people around the world. In addressing the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Clinton acknowledged that the “obstacles standing in the way” of protecting gay rights “rest on deeply held personal, political, cultural and religious beliefs.” According to Mark Bromley, chair of the Council for Global Equality, that suggests that Clinton has anticipated the tensions that will surely arise with the promotion of a global gay rights […]

It is impossible to predict with certainty what the future, even in the short or medium term, holds for the countries of the Middle East. But there is no question that the future of Lebanon is closely linked to that of its neighbor, Syria. With the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad under growing pressure from the domestic opposition, the fragile status quo in Lebanon is also in play. If and when the Assad regime is toppled in Damascus, his fall will unleash fierce political winds in Beirut. Assad has played a key role in the emergence of Hezbollah as […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 291 2 Last