Egypt’s Tahrir Square uprising in January 2011 sent waves of anxiety coursing through the Israeli establishment. By mid-February, a close partner had been deposed in Cairo, and popular Egyptian sentiment demanded a tough, polemical line against Israel: no more gas deals, no security cooperation, no political collaboration. The strategic relationship reached its nadir that fall, when a crowd in September stormed the Israeli Embassy while the Egyptian military stood by. A phone call from Washington was required to resolve that crisis, prompting the Egyptians to intervene before any Israelis were injured. Fast-forward to today, and the Israel-Egypt strategic relationship appears […]

Last month, the Israeli navy took control of a Panamanian ship off the coast of Sudan that was carrying Iranian munitions to Gaza. The Red Sea operation underscored the growth of the navy’s role in Israel’s power projection, which has accelerated in the 21st century after many decades in which maritime strategy was something of an afterthought for Israel’s military. A maritime perspective was central in pre-state Zionist strategic thinking, because the seas were the gateway for Jewish immigration into Palestine. However, once the state of Israel was created in 1948, the seas and the navy lost their significance in […]

It was no surprise when pro-Russian forces seized eight European military monitors in eastern Ukraine last week. A growing number of international observers have deployed to Ukraine over the past two months, and it was only a matter of time before some were snatched. A United Nations envoy, Robert Serry, had to make a quick exit from Crimea in early March after an encounter with a posse of armed men. The monitors’ captors have accused them of being NATO spies and forced them to make a humiliating appearance before the press, although one officer has since been released for medical […]

Despite the turbulence in South Africa’s domestic politics during the troubled presidency of Jacob Zuma, South Africa has continued to be viewed as the African continent’s natural leader, its principal conflict manager and its chief interlocutor with major external powers and international organizations. However, within the space of a week in late March and early April 2014, two separate yet related developments combined to bring this conventional wisdom into serious question for the first time. The first was on March 25, when the 2014 South African Defense Review—details of which were leaked to Reuters—highlighted a “critical state of decline” in […]

Corruption in the public sphere is typically defined as the use of public office for private gain, and in addition to undermining public faith in governmental legitimacy, it also carries a significant economic cost in terms of growth and development. Using data from 2001-2002, the World Bank Institute estimated that $1 trillion in bribes is paid every year and that addressing corruption would quadruple income per capita in the long term. Beginning in the 1990s, increased attention was paid to addressing corruption, with the lead primarily taken by governments, including the U.S., and international organizations, including the World Bank and […]

By the numbers at least, there was plenty at stake in Indonesia’s April 9 parliamentary elections. On that single day, more than 200,000 candidates contested almost 20,000 seats in 532 legislatures across the country. But to what extent were these elections a referendum on the sitting government? What do the elections tell us about the July presidential election and Indonesia’s future political landscape? And what do they reveal about the state of democracy in Indonesia? The only significant loser on election day was Partai Demokrat (PD), President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s party, which won approximately 9 percent of the national parliamentary […]

The geopolitics surrounding the crisis in Venezuela captures the new normal of inter-American relations. The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), a regional South American body created in 2008, has stepped up its involvement and, through a three-member delegation of Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador’s foreign ministers, is playing a prominent role in fostering dialogue. Meanwhile, the United States, though keen to shape the post-Chavez trajectory of Venezuela, is in the background, unsure of how to make a constructive impact. This unfolding episode serves as further reminder that U.S. foreign policy toward South America remains largely unsettled. Washington’s preferences do not […]

Returning the aging and ailing Abdelaziz Bouteflika to the presidency for a fourth term, the April 17 elections in Algeria delivered few surprises—much to the relief of the United States, France and the Algerian economic and political elite. At the same time, some Algerians questioned the legitimacy of the electoral process, whether by staying home in large numbers or through violent clashes in Kayblia, the Berber region in the northeast. Bouteflika’s supporters at home and abroad repeatedly underlined the necessity of stability in Algeria, a country with violent Islamist movements in the Sahara and one that suffered an exceedingly bloody […]

As Iraq gears up for general elections scheduled for April 30, the political constellation that has allowed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to stay in power for two terms is realigning in unexpected ways, raising questions about Maliki’s ability to retain Iraq’s top job. Apart from the similar context of violence in which it will likely take place, this round of voting will be greatly different from the three other national elections held since 2005. First, the country’s political landscape is more fragmented than it used to be. Former large alliances have given way to smaller entities, even as the electoral […]

China’s leadership has long vowed it will clean up the country’s bureaucracy and break up government monopolies. But the state apparatus has often seemed unwilling or unable to push through substantive implementation measures—until now. Under Xi Jinping, we are witnessing the most sustained and well-strategized attack on vested interests in at least 15 years. This campaign is unfolding at a pace and on a scale that is surpassing the expectations of most analysts and may yield substantive progress on critical issues, ultimately accelerating the marketization of the world’s second-largest economy. Commitments from senior Chinese officials to eradicate corruption, improve regulatory […]

Over the next few weeks, more than 800 million Indians will head to the polls to vote in a general election in the world’s largest democracy. Early signs indicate that Narendra Modi, the opposition candidate from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), will beat the ruling Congress party’s Rahul Gandhi despite the latter’s ties to the powerful Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. While this is testament to Congress’ poor performance during its decade in power, the eventual election outcome—whatever that may be—could in fact bring more continuity than change for India. When Congress defeated the BJP in an upset election in 2004 […]

Nepal is keenly watching India’s ongoing parliamentary elections, where the presumed victory of Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi is raising questions about the future of the Himalayan nation’s transition from a Hindu monarchy to a secular democracy. In 2006, Nepal agreed to abolish its 240-year-old Hindu monarchy as part of the Comprehensive Peace Accord ending a decade-long Maoist insurgency. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), then the main opposition party in India and leader of the National Democratic Alliance, wasn’t happy with the change at the time, and BJP nostalgia for its neighbor’s official Hindu identity has lingered. “We used to feel […]

El Salvador’s leftist FMLN won the country’s presidential election in March by a razor-thin margin, despite pre-election polls that indicated the party would score an easy victory over the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA). After a “final scrutiny” of the second-round vote, the country’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) declared that the FMLN’s Salvador Sanchez Ceren had won a majority of the vote—50.11 percent to 49.89 percent for ARENA’s Norman Quijano. Two weeks later, both the TSE and the Supreme Court’s Constitutional Chamber rejected petitions from ARENA alleging fraud and demanding a ballot-by-ballot recount. Following ARENA’s relatively poor first-round performance, the […]

At a parliamentary group meeting today, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed his country’s courts for acting as part of a parallel state undermining his government. Erdogan’s remarks were the latest maneuver in an ongoing struggle between Turkey’s judiciary and the prime minister and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), a contest that Michael Koplow described in an article for World Politics Review in January. With the dispute showing no signs of flagging, WPR spoke via email with Koplow, program director at the Israel Institute and the author of the blog Ottomans and Zionists, to review the latest […]

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott pulled off an impressive feat in Asia last week as he embarked on a tour of Japan, South Korea and China, forging free trade agreements and announcing closer security relations on each stop along the way. The conservative Abbott government came to power in 2013 declaring that Australia was “open for business” and promising to fast-track stalled free trade agreements with East Asia’s three economic powerhouses. Accompanied by an unprecedented delegation of more than 600 high-level Australian businesspeople and the premiers of six Australian states as well as the chief minister of the Northern Territories, […]

The first European Union-Africa summit since 2010 was held in Brussels earlier this month. Much of the media focus leading up to the summit was on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s failed bid to instigate a boycott of the meeting by African leaders after his wife was refused a visa to enter Europe. Beyond these headlines, however, the issue of trade relations between the two parties continues to be one of pressing importance. The EU has been negotiating Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries since 2002. The final declaration of the Brussels summit this year included […]

Americans are having a hard time coming to terms with the effect of National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden’s leaks and the damage they have done to America’s status in the world. In part, U.S. leaders do not want to admit that the leaks were merely the final straw for the growing discontent with American global leadership that predated Snowden and has many causes, including failure in Iraq and Afghanistan and the global economic crisis that spread from Wall Street. The unipolar moment was never popular—the leaks confirm that it is over. Snowden’s material has been shaped to portray […]

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