When United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon selected his predecessor Kofi Annan last week as his envoy to mediate the ongoing crisis in Syria, most observers thought it was an obvious choice. But Ban’s decision represents an important twist in a sometimes complex relationship between the two men — and a high-stakes attempt to maintain the U.N.’s role in the Middle East, where it has been active since the 1940s. Ban had reportedly looked for an Arab envoy, but divisions in the region over how to deal with Damascus made it hard to find a consensus candidate. By contrast, Annan is […]

This month marks the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the United States and the post-Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, a country that is currently playing a vital role in sustaining NATO forces in Afghanistan, supporting Georgia and other U.S. friends in Eurasia, and helping to moderate Iranian and Russian ambitions in the energy-rich Caspian Basin region. But Washington needs to prioritize its ties with Baku to strengthen the partnership and to make sure that Azerbaijan and its fragile neighbors in the geopolitically vital South Caucasus region remain strong and stable. Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Azerbaijan was among the […]

Whether in the run-up to the Libya operation or current discussions about the merits of intervening in Syria or Iran, the debate over whether or not to go to war reveals as much about the global conversation over intervention as it does about any particular case. This special report uses WPR’s coverage of recent debates over intervention to review the terms of the debate over the eternal “next war.” Below are links to each article in this special report, which subscribers can read in full. Not a subscriber? Purchase this document for Kindle or as a PDF from Scribd. Or […]

Iran’s decision this week to bar International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors from visiting the Parchin military base, which Tehran allegedly used to test components needed to create a nuclear weapon, may prove to be a turning point in the diplomatic standoff over the country’s nuclear program. Up to this point, the “rising democracies” — especially Turkey, India and Brazil — have been unwilling to support efforts by the United States and Europe to further isolate Iran, in part because they have a much narrower definition of what constitutes a “nuclear weapons capability,” which the U.S. says is an unacceptable […]

On Jan. 5, Turkey’s Defense Industry Executive Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, authorized the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries to open negotiations with Lockheed Martin for the purchase of two F-35 multi-role combat fighters by 2015. Though Turkey’s defense minister today clarified that Turkey still intends to follow through with its intention to acquire 100 F-35s, the small initial purchase represents yet another setback for the troubled program.* It was followed by Britain’s declaration in February that it will postpone making any formal commitment to the F-35 until 2015. Australia, too, is currently reconsidering plans to buy 12 […]

Sometime in the next few months, Israel may very well go to war against Iran, and it could draw the United States into the conflict. The global strategy firm Wikistrat, at which I am a senior analyst, recently laid out 10 scenarios for such a war breaking out, each plausible in its own way. Thomas P.M. Barnett wrote in a recent WPR column that he believes that war is inevitable, and even war opponents such as Peter Beinart and Bernard Finel believe that the “Iran hawks” have taken control of the debate. The case for attacking Iran relies overwhelmingly on […]

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Six people have been named as suspects in an alleged Iranian bomb plot targeting Israeli diplomats in Bangkok, Thailand, last week. Though the suspects mistakenly set off the explosives while inside their house, the homemade, improvised bombs matched those used in twin attacks the day before in New Delhi, India, and Tbilisi, Georgia. The device in New Delhi, planted on a car door, left four people wounded; the device in Georgia was defused. Israel has accused Iran of being behind the attacks, which Tehran denies. But the method used in Thailand, India and Georgia looked a lot like that used […]

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Iran is engaged in a four-day military exercise aimed at protecting its nuclear sites from an attack. The exercise, which comes amid speculation that Israel may attack one or several sites as tensions mount between Tehran and the West, has involved the deployment of missiles, anti-aircraft artillery, radars and warplanes, according to Iranian state media.

At first glance, the ongoing efforts to remove Bashar al-Assad from power in Syria and the unrecognized referendum held in the majority-Serbian areas of northern Kosovo would not appear to have much in common. But both are symptoms of a larger problem that has accelerated in recent years: the delegitimization of the territorially defined state. The classic definition of a state in the international system, as provided by Max Weber and incorporated into international law by the 1933 Montevideo convention, gives the national government the exclusive right to use force to secure its existence and territory. But that norm is […]

When a bomb attached to an Israeli diplomat’s car exploded in New Delhi earlier this week, it not only injured at least four people, it also seriously damaged India’s hopes of staying out of the conflict over Iran’s nuclear program. There is no confirmation that the attack was carried out by Iran or its ally Hezbollah, as Israel maintains. Still, the incident points to the increasingly untenable efforts by Indian officials to simultaneously nurture close ties with the U.S and strengthen relations with Israel, while maintaining valuable ties with Iran in the face of U.S. and international sanctions. At the […]

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