Protesters burn pictures of U.S. President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden outside the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Tehran, Nov. 28, 2020 (AP photo by Vahid Salemi).

Many world leaders, dismayed by four years of Donald Trump, are hoping that President-elect Joe Biden will return to an American foreign policy that is more pragmatic and balanced, less fickle and pettily punitive. One region crying out for an urgent recalibration in the U.S. approach is the Persian Gulf. Thanks to an emerging European initiative to help bring a modicum of calm to the tense region, Biden will have the opportunity to do a lot of good early in his term without having to invest too much political capital. Ever since the 1979 Iranian revolution, tensions between Iran and […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan attend an official welcome ceremony in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Oct. 15, 2019 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

Reports this week that the United Arab Emirates is potentially financing Russian mercenaries in Libya affiliated with the notorious Wagner Group, according to a Pentagon watchdog, appear to be sending mini shockwaves through Washington. But the UAE has long had a fixation on mercenaries, and the fact that Russia is a regular supplier of soldiers of fortune should surprise no one. Much more worrying is the lack of policy coherence in Washington on what to do about it. A seemingly insatiable appetite for proxy wars and hired guns has helped fuel the rise of these shadow armies. President-elect Joe Biden’s […]

Jordan’s King Abdullah II, right, meets with then-Vice President Joe Biden at the Husseiniya Palace in Amman, Jordan, March 10, 2016 (AP photo by Raad Adayleh).

Few governments were as relieved as Jordan’s at the results of last month’s presidential election in the United States. King Abdullah II was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Joe Biden for his victory over Donald Trump, and Biden spoke with Abdullah by phone last week, his first call with an Arab leader since winning office. Despite a long history of cooperation on economic and security issues, U.S. ties with Jordan were strained under Trump’s presidency, largely due to Trump’s lopsided approach to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Under Biden, the relationship is likely to “go back to what […]

Jordan’s King Abdullah II and President Donald Trump during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, June 25, 2018 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

The usually warm relationship between the United States and Jordan has come under strain during President Donald Trump’s time in office. Jordanian leaders have criticized many of Trump’s policies in the region, especially his support for Israeli settlements in the West Bank, his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his one-sided proposal for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. It was no surprise, then, that Jordan’s King Abdullah II was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Joe Biden for his victory over Trump in last month’s presidential election. And in a phone […]

Then-Vice President Joe Biden chairs a summit on international peacekeeping operations on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters in New York, Sept. 26, 2014 (AP photo by Jason DeCrow).

Over the past four years, America’s relationship with the United Nations underwent a dramatic shift, as the U.S. undermined, withdrew from or threatened withdrawal from some of the most important multilateral organizations, processes and accords. These include the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris climate agreement, the U.N. Human Rights Council, the World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization, to name a few. But it isn’t just America that drew away from multilateralism. Major and middle powers around the world have distanced themselves from multilateral institutions to embrace more naked forms of nationalism. This has led to greater risks of […]

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The year 2020 may well mark the tipping point for the oil and gas industry. Amid a global pandemic that has slashed oil demand by some 8 million barrels per day, the governments of key countries—China, Japan, South Korea, South Africa and others—have announced that they aim to reach net-zero emissions by the middle of the century. After President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January, he will likely add the United States to the list, and when he does, net-zero targets will apply to more than three-fifths of global CO2 emissions. It seems that the world is about to double […]

A visitor looks at a display of Australian wines at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai, Nov. 5, 2020 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Australia is suddenly facing a broad economic assault from China, by far its largest trading partner. Last week, Beijing imposed tariffs of more than 200 percent on imports of Australian wine, essentially shuttering the industry’s largest export market. China has halted shipments of Australian coal, leaving ships stranded off China’s coast, and has blocked or restricted imports of a dozen other products, including Australian beef, sugar and timber. The sanctions so far have affected one-third of all Australian exports to China. It’s all Chinese retaliation for moves by the Australian government that have irritated Beijing, which presented Canberra with an […]

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