With the Iran-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline project a casualty of U.S. opposition and persistent mistrust between New Delhi and Islamabad, India has increasingly turned to Qatar to meet its growing natural gas requirements over the past decade. Holding the world’s third-largest gas reserves after Russia and Iran, Qatar is a natural choice for such a role. But after the recent visit of Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani to India, the two states are looking to broaden their economic ties beyond trade in energy. Qatar is set to emerge as a strategic investor in India’s infrastructure plans, while […]

In the annals of “strange bedfellow” political encounters, the recent broadcast in which WikiLeaks boss Julian Assange interviewed Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah stands out as a remarkable episode. After all, who would have expected to see Assange — the master hacker, iconoclastic atheist and publicity-loving poster child for technological assaults on orthodoxy — crossing paths with Nasrallah — the reclusive leader, ancient-garb wearer and head of a theocratic organization based on centuries-old scriptures? On closer examination, however, the debut episode of Assange’s show, “The World Tomorrow,” on the Kremlin-funded RT network, which featured Nasrallah as its first guest, is less […]

With the world’s eyes again focused on Bahrain thanks to both a high-profile motor sports event as well as continued political strife, last week would have been a tough one in which to declare one’s support for the ruling regime. Yet that is exactly what Ed Husain of the Council on Foreign Relations did, earning him much derision on blogs and social networking sites. On Twitter, Husain first praised Bahrain’s foreign minister, Khalid al-Khalifa, as “visionary” and then disparaged what he referred to in scare quotes as the “opposition,” as if the Shiite Bahrainis who have been protesting for greater […]

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Citing a payment dispute, Egyptian Natural Gas Holding has announced that it is terminating its deliveries of natural gas to Israel, bringing an end to a deal that, since it was signed in 2005, had supplied Israel with 40 percent of its natural gas. Media reports have focused on the impact this sudden termination of the deal might have on the fragile peace agreement between the two countries. But Brenda Shaffer, an energy policy expert at the University of Haifa in Israel, told Trend Lines that the news does not have serious implications for Israel’s longer-term energy security, as the […]

There is a popular tendency to characterize globalization as an elite-based conspiracy or as something imposed by greedy outsiders upon unsuspecting native populations, hence the enduring belief in the possibility of its systemic reversal. In truth, the spread of modern globalization reflects a bottom-up demand function, not a top-down supply imposition. People simply crave connectivity — in all its physical and virtual forms — as well as the freedom of choice that it unleashes. This simple truth is worth remembering when we contemplate America’s global role in the decades ahead. Why? Time is most definitely on our side. Given enough […]

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UN chief Ban Ki-moon has called for more peacekeepers and aircraft to be deployed in Syria to monitor the truce there. This report by Russian government-owned Russia Today questions whether the major forces in the conflict are truly interested in a long-term ceasefire. World News Videos by NewsLook

A few weeks ago, in discussing how Hezbollah might respond to an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear program, I mentioned that both the United States and Hezbollah are more or less held hostage to the drama unfolding between their respective allies. For the United States, part of that dynamic includes the uncertainty it faces concerning whether or not Israel will in fact strike Iran’s nuclear program and, if so, when. The United States is Israel’s closest ally in the world. The United States has provided Israel an average of $3 billion in grants, almost all of it military aid (.pdf), […]

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Qatar refused earlier this month to hand over visiting Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi to the Iraqi central government, which has charged him with running death squads. In an email interview, Reidar Visser, a research fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs and member of the Gulf Research Unit at the University of Oslo, discussed Iraq-Qatar relations. WPR: How have Iraq-Qatar diplomatic and trade relations evolved since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003? Reidar Visser: Like most other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, Qatar has had a strained relationship with Iraq since 2003, in particular after the emergence […]

ISTANBUL — Amid the mostly positive spin following the Iran nuclear talks in Istanbul on Saturday, one person who won’t have long to celebrate is Helga Schmid. The European Union deputy foreign policy chief was charged with the daunting task of coming up with a detailed agenda and substantive work plan to present to the six nations of the P5+1 group — the United States, United Kingdom, China, France, Russia and Germany — and Iran when they meet again in Baghdad late next month. International negotiators declared the talks with Iran, the first held in 15 months, a success, noting […]

Turkey’s gradual transition to democracy under the rule of a moderate Islamist party has prompted much praise, along with a concerted effort — particularly by Ankara — to promote the Turkish model as a template for the post-Arab Uprising states. Indeed, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has achieved much since ascending to power a decade ago. Democratic plaudits, however, miss a gaping crack in the democratic structure the AKP has built: the government’s frontal assault against freedom of the press. Turkey has become one of the world’s top violators of press freedom. The most recent ranking from Reporters Without […]

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As clashes between rival Libyan militias continue, with a particularly violent battle erupting earlier this week, the fighting that has left hundreds dead or displaced threatens to divide the country. The violence also poses a problem for reconstruction efforts, in part because of its potential to undermine the country’s upcoming elections, currently scheduled for June 20. “These clashes have complicated things in a number of ways. The biggest is that international workers and programs and organizations will have to assess what’s going on in Libya in terms of safety and operability before they send people out, and, for a country […]

Mitt Romney’s recently described Russia as the “No. 1 geopolitical foe” of the United States, arguing that Moscow consistently “lines up” with America’s adversaries. But does the claim stand up to closer scrutiny? After all, Moscow has not extended material and financial support to the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, arguably the greatest challenges to the United States, even though there are ample geopolitical justifications to try and bog Washington down in multiple Middle Eastern quagmires, thereby deflecting American attention from Eurasia. Nor does Russia reflexively block any and all U.S. priorities, as the Soviet Union routinely did during the […]

As tensions over Iran’s nuclear program rise, assertions that Israel’s increasing closeness to Azerbaijan, a predominantly Muslim state on Iran’s northern border, represents the emergence of an anti-Iran “tag team” are gaining currency. But despite undoubtedly warming ties between the two countries, there is no indication that Baku is in any hurry to sacrifice its national interests by participating in a conflict that could possibly drag it into a regional conflagration. Though a recently signed $1.6 billion arms deal has put the Israel-Azerbaijan relationship in the spotlight of late, an article on the Foreign Policy website, vaulted the South Caucasus […]

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