The Congressional Research Service recently published a report on conventional arms transfers that identifies Russia as the world’s leading arms supplier to developing countries in 2005. According to CRS calculations, Russia ranked first in arms sales agreements with developing nations, with contracts worth approximately $7 billion. Although Russia’s current arms exports have decreased considerably since the Soviet period, its revenue per transaction is now greater because Russian firms have yielded much of the lower-end market to lower-cost suppliers like China, India, and former Soviet bloc allies. In addition, whereas the U.S.S.R. transferred much weaponry under easy commercial terms or without […]

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If Iraq is, as the Bush administration suggests, the central front in the war on terror, the United States is at risk of being outflanked on other fronts. While the violence in Iraq justifiably dominates the attention of policymakers and analysts, the war in Iraq represents only the largest challenge amidst a troubled region at risk of further destabilization. While the situation in Iraq is discouraging, the Iraq Study Group — the bipartisan group of prominent Americans tasked by Congress to present policy options — offers some hope. While the study group, led by former Secretary of State James Baker […]

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Although NATO countries have made some progress in promoting intelligence sharing and mutual law enforcement assistance as part of the Global War on Terrorism, they need to substantially improve their cooperation in researching, developing, and testing homeland security technologies. A strategic and coordinated approach — directed towards generating science and technology (S&T) contributions in areas of highest priority — would help optimize allied countries’ collective response to common security challenges. The Nov. 28-29 NATO summit in Riga, Latvia, could provide an opportune occasion for launching several initiatives to promote such an integrated multinational S&T approach. Europe’s uneven approach towards developing […]

HONG KONG — Mum rang the other day. It was only unusual because we had already spoken between Melbourne and Hong Kong twice that week, for her 70th birthday, and this conversation was stilted, though she assured me everything was fine. Then she blurted out: “You might think me silly but it rained last night. Oh it rained and rained from midnight until eleven in the morning and it was heavy. It’s just that,” she hesitated. “It hasn’t rained for so long.” Such is the drought afflicting Australia — the worst in living memory — that it warranted a call […]

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of articles by Rhea Wessel on the rights of Muslim women in Europe, particularly Turkish women in Germany. The stories will appear occasionally on World Politics Review. Read the first article in the series here. FRANKFURT, Germany — Fed up with the status quo, a Turkish-born German politician in the Green Party has done just what many German politicians are afraid to do: She has called on Muslim women to take off their headscarves and “arrive in the modern world, arrive in Germany.” “Show that you have the same civil and […]

ANKARA, Turkey — Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and several conspiracy-themed books depicting Turkey as under attack by American and European influences sell briskly in local bookstores. Turkey’s $10 million movie “Valley of Wolves,” the most expensive to date, vilifying Christians and Jews pulls in record crowds. A 28-year-old lawyer shoots a secularist judge to death inside Turkey’s High Court. The Islamic and far-right press is filled with stories of missionaries within Turkish borders converting “defenseless” Muslims to “infidels.” Masked by Turkey’s 80-year Kemalist embrace of secularism, these recent trends reflect a hard fact: Beneath the surface of the West’s most […]

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — Donald Abinan, 25, ekes out his existence in this West African metropolis by energetically directing cars in and out of empty parking spaces. He earns, by his estimate, slightly more than a dollar a day. Abinan’s turf is the street in front of the downtown mosque under construction, close to a small shopping center. But when President Laurent Gbagbo’s young partisans marched in often-violent, city-congesting demonstrations in support of their champion, he said he joined in. “I am not pro-Gbagbo, but I like his politics,” Abinan said. What attracted Abinan is not a program of economic […]

There are no good options in Iraq, which means Americans — who are inclined to believe there is a solution to every problem — are ill-equipped to plot a way forward. The country lies in ruins. Bush’s policy of simply lurching from one bloodbath to the next, from one political crisis to the next, has failed. The military is considering a temporary increase in troop strength, or a longer-term plan to embed many more advisers with Iraqi forces. At this point neither of those plans is likely to succeed, but both represent a last-ditch attempt to avert an utter catastrophe […]

Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki seemed set Monday on keeping his mid-week rendezvous with President Bush in Amman, Jordan, even though it could mean risking the survival of his government. The summit called by Bush is opposed by Moqtada al-Sadr, the combative Shiite cleric and a crucial prop to Maliki’s government. Al-Sadr, who is virulently against the continued U.S. presence in Iraq, has threatened to withdraw his political support if the prime minister meets Bush on Wednesday. On Saturday, Al-Jazeera, the Arab satellite television news service, quoted Faleh Hasan Shanshal, al-Sadr’s political aide, as saying, “We have asked al-Maliki […]

CARACAS, Venezuela — Fond of mocking George W. Bush and railing at the U.S, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has called his country’s number one oil customer, otherwise known as “the empire,” the greatest threat to human existence today. On the verge of reelection, Chavez has said that his geopolitical mission is nothing less than “saving the world” from the evils of U.S-style capitalism. As part of this plan, say analysts, Chavez has reached out to China. Eager for oil to fuel its economy, China has agreed to form a “strategic alliance” with Venezuela, strengthening bilateral ties through oil agreements and […]

We can only begin to imagine the despair now coursing through the veins of Arab reformers as they watch the unfolding of the future New Middle East. In Beirut, killers eliminated yet another critic of Syria’s strongman Bashar al-Assad, murdering Pierre Gemayel, a Christian cabinet member and a fierce critic of Syrian interference in Lebanon. Gemayel died in a hail of bullets just as the United States prepares to abandon the collapsing experiment to bring democracy to the Middle East, aiming to replace it with a return to the old-style “realpolitik” of making friends with distasteful characters, regardless of what […]

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What is civil war? The question is often raised about the disorders in Iraq. Does the violence between Iraqi religious and political factions amount to civil war, or is it best described another way? The US-led coalition’s spokesmen, echoing the views of the White House and Downing Street, refuse to call the disorders civil war. Presumably they believe that to do so would be to admit defeat in their project to set up a stable, legitimate new Iraq. To assess the situation in Iraq, it is helpful to understand how a civil war differs from an inter-state, cross-border war. There […]

Five years ago this month, Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, was liberated from the tyranny of the Taliban regime and its “guests,” al-Qaida. Five years later, Afghanistan, and indeed the world, lives under the threat of another brutal tyrant: the narcotics trade and the terrorism it funds. Despite this threat, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who once so passionately announced that counter-narcotics was a top concern, appears to have wilted on the anti-drug message while the opium poppy, from which heroin is derived, flourishes to record levels – the area cultivated increased an astonishing 60 percent over last year, according to the United […]

NAIROBI, Kenya — For a number of reasons, including an agricultural sector that enjoys relatively low land and labor costs, many see sub-Saharan Africa as well suited to pioneer the development of biofuel as an alternative energy source for the continent and the world. Development analysts say it may be decades before biofuel becomes a significant alternative source of energy for Africa, but significant production could mean a boost for sub-Saharan economies by both providing new income and reducing the continent’s reliance on imported fossil fuels. For many countries in Africa, oil makes up a significant portion of gross imports, […]

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — After more than a year of exploratory talks, the Colombian government and the country’s second largest guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), decided last month to enter a new phase of negotiations and start formal peace talks. It is hoped that further talks will push forward an eventual peace agreement between the two parties and bring an end to 42 years of fighting between government forces and ELN rebels. Last September, ELN’s commander and spokesperson, Francisco Galan, was temporarily released from a Colombian high security prison, where he is serving a 30-year sentence for rebellion and […]

Just a single sentence among the many tens of thousands uttered in Hanoi this past week by 14,000 delegates and their retinues sums up the futility of APEC, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum: “One of the major outcomes that is anticipated from the leaders’ meeting will be the Hanoi Action Plan to implement the Busan roadmap to achieve the Bogor goals,” said Vietnam’s Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Le Cong Phung, at the start of the week-long jamboree. Busan was the South Koreans’ turn at staging the event last year. Bogor was Indonesia’s contribution back in 1994. The political and business […]

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RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — In a step toward solving one of Latin America’s most unrelenting problems, five Latin American countries sent delegates from police and civil society last week to a conference in Brazil to discuss police reform. The delegates from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico met in Rio de Janeiro at a seminar sponsored by non-governmental organizations, including the Open Society Institute. Next year, they plan to invite five more countries in an attempt to create a permanent forum on the issue. The problems are well known: violence, corruption and a lack of respect for the common […]

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