The violent Basque separatist group ETA recently declared a definitive end to its armed activity, 52 years after its founding. The declaration came in response to an appeal made on Oct. 17 by a group of international peacemakers, led by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, that gathered in San Sebastián, Spain, for a carefully choreographed peace conference to help bring a close to what the group called “the last armed confrontation in Europe.” The phrase, and the presence of the peacemakers, irritated many in Spain who see ETA’s actions solely in terms of terrorism and have long considered the organization […]

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — For the past month, the word on everyone’s lips across Kyrgyzstan has been “raskol,” meaning “schism,” as voters nervously await a presidential election on Oct. 30 that will be an important test for the unity of the state. With the wounds of last year’s revolution and ethnic violence still fresh, fears of a national conflict along north-south lines are running high, a possibility that holds important implications for regional politics and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Eighteen months after the April 2010 revolution that toppled authoritarian President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, Kyrgyzstan is struggling to consolidate its democracy in […]

Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series examining the European Union’s approach toward the integration of the Balkans into the union. Part I examined the record of EU integration to date. Part II examines the road ahead. With the global spotlight focused on the European Union’s ongoing debt crisis, the European Commission’s recently issued reports on the progress Western Balkan countries are making toward accession may seem marginal. But for these nations, the achievement of EU membership is an essential symbolic and practical goal. As the reports indicate, this goal is still a long way off, even […]

With President Barack Obama’s announcement last week that all U.S. troops will be out of Iraq by the end of this year, most Americans breathed a sigh of relief. Lost in those headlines was the collective shudder of national security experts and practitioners who know Washington’s dirty little secret: More than 10 years after the war against violent extremism began, the United States still lacks true deployable civilian power. The handover in Iraq from the Defense Department to the State Department at the end of this year will showcase this Achilles’ heel, one that will haunt U.S. foreign policy until […]

Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series examining the European Union’s approach toward the integration of the Balkans into the union. Part I examines the record of EU integration to date. Part II will examine the road ahead. The European Commission’s (EC) recent progress reports on the Western Balkan countries, released in October, mark the latest stage in a long process designed to bring a region devastated by post-Communist conflict into the European fold. The European Union’s influence on the Balkans over the past decade has certainly been positive, drawing the countries away from armed conflict and […]

Under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Indonesia has emerged as a success story in many ways. It has waged a resilient campaign against terrorism, achieved the third-highest economic growth rate among G-20 countries and demonstrated dynamic leadership within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Moreover, this political and economic stability has been achieved in a context of deepening democratic consolidation, after a period of suppression of political rights and civil liberties during the Suharto era. But Yudhoyono’s tenure has also seen the rise of radical Islam, which some view as the greatest threat to Indonesian democracy. Groups such as the […]

Recently, authorities in Myanmar have made a series of moves that some observers have interpreted as signaling a new course under the government of President Thein Sein, elected in March. Prominent among these shifts are the suspension of the Chinese-sponsored Myitsone dam project on the Irrawaddy River and an amnesty that has freed more than 6,000 prisoners, including at least 200 political prisoners. Yet, with these moves, the government seems to be searching more for ways to ease China’s political and economic influence in the country than for avenues of democratic reform. On Sept. 30, Thein Sein announced in parliament […]

The Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act, approved in the U.S. Senate last week by a majority of 63 to 35, risks damaging U.S.-China relations and further eroding Washington’s economic standing in the international community, and all for very little reward. The bill calls for retaliatory trade measures against countries that maintain an undervalued currency, and while it does not mention China by name, the United States’ largest trading partner is clearly its main target. The Chinese yuan is without doubt undervalued, but this is only one of a number of factors contributing to the U.S. trade deficit. Moreover, at […]

Last year, the European Investment Bank, the European Union’s major development arm, invested a record $3.6 billion in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and other southern Mediterranean countries to demonstrate support for sustainable growth and job creation in the region. But despite these economic initiatives, the EU lacks a political strategy for dealing with the Arab Spring. Nowhere is this clearer than in the continuing debate over whether Brussels should establish official relations with the Muslim Brotherhood. What has prevented an objective appraisal of this question, in addition to a long-standing fear of Islamists, is that the Arab Spring has led many […]

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered an important policy address on what she called “economic statecraft.” In it, she announced that the United States will update its foreign policy priorities to include economic considerations, arguing that doing so will strengthen both our standing abroad and our economy at home. Among other measures, Clinton said that the State Department will do more to help U.S. companies compete for opportunities in emerging markets, including advocating for them and working to level the playing field between private companies operating on market principles and state-owned companies pursuing strategic goals. Clinton is […]

Over the past few years, the Turkish defense industry has focused its research and development efforts on a range of new weapons systems, driven by the goal of an overall technological modernization of Turkey’s armed forces. In the process, defense exports have doubled, demonstrating that Turkish defense firms also have the potential to impose themselves on the global market. Turkish defense companies, backed by Turkish diplomats, have signed a number of high-profile export deals in 2011. Earlier this year, Turkish President Abdullah Gul’s official visit to Indonesia — which, with a majority Muslim population of 246 million, is likely to […]

The reaction in much of the Western press to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s proposal of a Eurasian Union at the beginning of October was more or less predictable to longtime Russia watchers. Familiar accusations of Russian neo-imperialism and wild claims about a “new Soviet Union” abounded, feeding into a general narrative of Russia as a looming threat that must be contained. These fears are premature, to say the least. As Richard Weitz pointed out in his WPR column last week, the idea of some form of overarching supranational organization for the post-Soviet states has been a hallmark of Russian […]

China-Russia relations took another step forward during Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s visit to Beijing last week. With the Arab Spring throwing the two governments into an unexpected alliance at the United Nations this year, the visit marked the continuation of attempts to build a deeper and less volatile bilateral relationship. The two sides signed off on trade deals worth $7 billion, demonstrating a tangible effort to move beyond energy-based economic ties, while Putin suggested a greater focus on China for the Kremlin’s foreign policy after the recent period of rapprochement with the U.S. This suggests that, although mistrust and suspicion […]

LAMU, Kenya — Supported by military planes and helicopters, Kenyan tanks, military trucks and columns of troops streamed across the Somali border Sunday in coordination with Somali government soldiers. Initially reported by locals, the operation was soon confirmed by Kenyan government spokesmen. The mobilization comes in the wake of a spate of kidnappings along Kenya’s vast, porous border with Somalia that prompted the Kenyan government Saturday to effectively declare war on al-Qaida-linked Al-Shabaab militants. Delivering a joint statement with the country’s top security chiefs, Internal Security Minister George Saitoti vowed to pursue the group in both rural and urban areas. […]

Thirty years of globalization has propelled widespread economic growth across Southeast Asia. In recent decades, the number of people in the region living on less than $1.25 a day has dropped by half. Yet, these positive development trends are accompanied by a darker side of globalization: trafficking in drugs and small arms, piracy, human smuggling, the marketing of counterfeit goods and nuclear proliferation. The size and scope of these challenges threaten to undercut the remarkable gains of the past quarter-century. Preserving those gains will require collaboration between Southeast Asian governments, the identification of novel streams of security and development assistance […]

The strategic partnership agreement signed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi last week made front-page news across the region and beyond. The attention it attracted is hardly surprising: The agreement, the first of its kind for Afghanistan, includes the provision of training for Afghanistan’s military and police, the establishment of social and cultural exchanges, and measures to enhance economic ties. It also comes in the context of increasing tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan. A day prior to the announcement, Karzai harshly criticized Islamabad for not supporting ongoing peace and stability operations in […]

In a move that signals India’s resolve to stay the course in Afghanistan after NATO troops withdraw in 2014, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) with visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai in New Delhi last week. The SPA includes a major security component, with India “agreeing to assist, as mutually determined, in the training, equipping and capacity-building programs for Afghan National Security Forces.” That this was the first security pact of any kind signed by India on the subcontinent was not lost on Islamabad, with former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf immediately dubbing the pact “anti-Pakistan.” […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 251 2 Last