Negotiations are set to resume in September between Iran and the P5+1 countries — the five permanent U.N. Security Council members along with Germany — with an eye to restarting a diplomatic process that might lead to a resolution of the stand-off over Iran’s nuclear program. The question is whether something akin to the 2003 Libyan breakthrough is possible — or even desirable. By that scenario, Iran would stop all of its efforts to achieve a nuclear weapons breakout capability — notably, the ability to enrich uranium. In return, the U.S. and its Western allies would agree to lift sanctions […]

Stepped-up hostilities between Turkish forces and Kurdish guerrillas in southeastern Turkey and predominantly Kurdish northern Iraq coupled with a high-powered Iraqi Kurdish campaign to achieve greater autonomy are complicating U.S. efforts to ensure that Iraq remains united once American troops leave the country. The increased hostilities couldn’t come at a worse time for the Obama administration, which is preparing for next year’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. The U.S. had hoped that closer Turkish-Iraqi Kurdish cooperation and Ankara’s conciliatory moves toward Turkey’s estimated 15 million Kurds — who account for approximately 20 percent of Turkey’s population — would end […]

Brazil has a serious problem: Its economy is growing too fast. No kidding. In today’s global environment of sluggish growth and fears of a recessionary “double dip,” word of this peculiar challenge facing Brazilian policymakers might sound like the setup for a joke. But don’t wait for the punch line. Brazil, like much of Latin America, is showing astonishing resilience in the face of a daunting economic environment that cuts across borders. The region that popularized words such as junta and caudillo, and the countries that for decades served as the inspiration for caricatures of tin-pot dictators — not to […]

DENPASAR, Indonesia — Washington’s decision to partially lift the ban on contact with Indonesia’s Kopassus special forces command has angered human rights organizations within the country and beyond. The decision, which had been rumored for some time, was announced by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates at a meeting last Thursday with Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Jakarta. The ban on Kopassus was part of a U.S. military embargo imposed more than a decade ago in response to repeated human rights abuses committed by Kopassus units and by Indonesia’s military, the TNI, in Papua, Aceh and East Timor. The […]

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British Prime Minister David Cameron’s comments in support of Turkey’s EU membership bid offer a good opportunity to underline an important point: The question of whether or not Turkey belongs in the EU was already decided when the union offered Turkey membership. Clearly, member states enjoy a wide range of political methods for dragging out or blocking the subsequent negotiation chapters. Slovenia, for instance, has used its veto power to block Croatia’s membership negotiations over a border dispute that the two have since agreed to resolve by arbitration. It’s also worth mentioning that Turkey has played a significant role in […]

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It hasn’t gotten a lot of attention yet, but the Israeli helicopter that crashed in Romania is actually a major story. The copter had flown non-stop to Romania, with an in-flight refueling over Greece, as part of a “joint” air exercise designed to sharpen the IAF’s long-range search-and-rescue capabilities in unfamiliar terrain. In the past, the IAF has conducted similar drills, as well as long-range mock bombing runs, in Greek airspace. The implications of this latest setback for Israel’s military on a theoretical airstrike against Iran are significant. If this was a psychological operation targeting Tehran, it backfired. If it […]

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I haven’t had the time to read anything other than second-hand commentary on the WikiLeaks document dump, but as “revelations” go, this one seems to be weak tea. The direct effect on the Afghanistan War will most likely be felt in some of the relationships the U.S. must manage (Pakistan and India, for instance). There’s also the risk that some of the granular information they contain, which extend to some NATO coalition partners, could accelerate the crumbling of support in Europe. Beyond that, as Joshua Foust noted, there is the human cost faced by Afghan informants and other strategic assets […]

Fifteen days after twin suicide bombings killed 76 people in Kampala, Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni used an African Union summit in the capital city to declare war on the Somali group responsible for the July 11 bombing — as well as on foreign fighters aiding the group. “The terrorists should be wiped out of Africa,” Museveni said on Monday. “Let us act and sweep them out of Africa and to where they came from in Asia and the Middle East.” But to secure its borders, cities and regional interests, Uganda must do more than target terrorists. Roving rebel groups, many […]

As Gen. David Petraeus takes over the U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan, he is right to continue a strategy of counterinsurgency and to strengthen it with a plan that seeks to give local Afghan communities the means to defend themselves. However, both the recently announced local defense plan, which pays community members to don a rifle and police uniform, and the over-arching counterinsurgency of which it is a part take the wrong path to reducing violence in Afghanistan. As Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said in 2008, the U.S. “cannot kill its way to victory.” Yet, the Pentagon has emphasized “providing […]

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As the final installment of a three-part series on Iran’s relations with the Gulf states, Global Insider explores Iran-Qatar relations. In an e-mail interview, Mehran Kamrava, interim dean of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar and director of the Center for International and Regional Studies, discusses the state of Iran-Qatar relations. You can read Kamrava’s interview on Iran-UAE relations here, and on Iran-Bahrain relations here. WPR: What is the current state of Iran-Qatar diplomatic relations? Mehran Kamrava: Unlike the UAE or Bahrain, Qatar has maintained very cordial and close diplomatic relations with Iran over the last few years. […]

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There have been a couple of “confirmed” inflection points in the Obama administration’s approach to Iran, Russia and China in the past few weeks, and the contrast between the outcomes is revealing, both about the relative challenges of the three portfolios, but also about the relative development of the three countries. With regard to Iran, although there are not yet any concrete outcomes, the Obama administration’s strategy of open-ended engagement accompanied by staged sanctions has clearly isolated Tehran, to an extent that many critics of the Obama approach — myself included — did not anticipate. In the past week, Iran […]

In terms of volume, the more than 90,000 documents posted on the WikiLeaks Web site has to be one of the largest publications on the Internet of classified U.S. government material. But in terms of content, the so-called Afghanistan War Logs don’t tell us anything that most people who have been following the war even casually don’t already know. For example, U.S. officials have long complained about support within Pakistan’s powerful spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), for foreign terrorist groups — including the Taliban, which the ISI helped establish. The large number of Afghan civilian casualties resulting from coalition […]

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India’s chief of naval staff called for increased bilateral cooperation with Sri Lanka during a visit to the country late last month. In an e-mail interview, Eurasia Group’s Asia analyst, Maria Kuusisto, discusses evolving relations between India and Sri Lanka. WPR: What is the historical context of India-Sri Lanka relations? Maria Kuusisto: India-Sri Lanka relations have been marked by both tension and cooperation. The relationship has been historically driven by the shared Tamil ethnic community: India has a Tamil community of 60 million and Sri Lanka has a Tamil community of three million. When the Tamil ethnic insurgency in Sri […]

At the 2008 summer Olympic Games in Beijing, the New York Times columnist Tom Friedman observed something intriguing about the powerful American team, which won the overall medal count for the games. After wandering through the athletes’ village, he noted, “The Russian team all looks Russian; the African teams all look African; the Chinese team all looks Chinese; and the American team looks like all of them.” The United States, Friedman said, is the clearest example of a nation whose “strength comes from diversity.” The most powerful nations in history have all followed a similar formula. In “Day of Empire,” […]

Over the last three decades, international migration has become an important part of the world economy, providing vital labor for industrial countries. Migration has also become a major resource for origin countries, helping to lift millions of people out of poverty and contributing to national income and development finance. The global economic crisis (GEC), which led to massive declines in investment and production all over the world, was widely expected to also lead to a fall in migration. Analysts also expected that many migrants would return to their homelands, and that worker remittances would decline. Although the current fragmentary data […]

A very alarmist mood has lately become the norm among experts of Islam in Europe. Is Europe doomed to become an extension of the Arab West? If you ask the eminent historian Bernard Lewis, the answer is yes. Migration and demography are working toward creating “Eurabia.” This allegedly unstoppable march of Islam in Europe is causing unprecedented anxiety for both Europeans and Americans. Emotions run high, and facts are in short supply on both sides of the Atlantic. Americans are understandably concerned about the “next” Sept. 11. After all, wasn’t Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the hijackers that struck that […]

KYIV, Ukraine — To many observers, Ukraine’s recently elected President Viktor Yanukovych is the same pro-Russian stooge he was in 2004, when he walked away the loser of the Orange Revolution that catapulted pro-Western former President Viktor Yushchenko into power. The apparent evidence of Yanukovych’s pro-Moscow slant abounds. Since taking office in February, he extended the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s lease on its Ukrainian base in Sevastopol, a move attacked by opponents as endangering Ukraine’s sovereignty. He also signed an array of cooperation agreements across several sectors during one of his many meetings with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. And he […]

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