Against the backdrop of the Middle East’s ongoing upheaval, especially the violence in neighboring Syria, Turkey’s once-vaunted “zero problems” foreign policy strategy now looks severely outdated. Though Turkey will continue to seek a balanced, multivector foreign policy, the liabilities of its strategy, as illustrated in Syria, have laid bare Ankara’s continued Western moorings. The unrest in Syrian began as an extension of the Arab Spring protests earlier this year, but grew into a full-scale uprising after government security forces unleashed bloody crackdowns that have caused more than 1,400 deaths to date. Thousands of refugees have since streamed across the Turkish […]

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — A U.N.-backed court in Cambodia has begun its initial hearings into war crimes allegations with mixed success and predictions of a long and bumpy road ahead for a tribunal described by legal experts as more complex than the Nuremberg trials held immediately after World War II. Its importance was underscored by the United States ambassador at large for war crime issues, Stephen Rapp, who called the Khmer Rouge tribunal “the most important trial in the world.” Rapp, in Phnom Penh for the start of the proceedings, drew parallels between the Khmer Rouge tribunal and the trials […]

In retrospect, the gradual crumbling last year of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel was a harbinger of some of the changes that would subsequently come to the rest of the region. For decades, Turkey was one of the few Muslim nations that had good relations with the Jewish state. Ankara maintained strong diplomatic, military and economic ties with Israel. But then democracy started gaining ground in Turkey, and when an Islamic party came to power, the relationship started to deteriorate. Now, with politicians in both countries having scored points over the rift, calculations on both sides point to the […]

Global Insider: Africa’s Grand Free Trade Area

African leaders recently agreed to take the first steps toward integrating three existing African trade blocs, which would create a 26-member trade group stretching from Egypt to South Africa. In an email interview, Peter Draper, a senior research fellow at the South African Institute of International Affairs, discussed the proposed Grand Free Trade Area. WPR: What is the driving force behind combining Africa’s regional trade blocs into a broader African free trade bloc? Peter Draper: There is no single driving force; rather, at least three separate motivations can be identified. At the level of high politics, the ideal of creating […]

Mexico’s next major political milestone, the 2012 presidential election, is still off on the horizon, but for the impatient, Sunday’s gubernatorial contest in Mexico state offers a sneak preview of what to expect a year from now. The campaign to govern the most populous state in the country pits the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s (PRI) Eruviel Ávila against Luis Felipe Bravo Mena of the National Action Party (PAN) and Alejandro Encinas of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Despite the stature of both Bravo Mena and Encinas — a former presidential chief of staff and a former mayor of Mexico […]

U.S. Aid and Central America’s Drug War

Coverage of last week’s regional security conference in Guatemala City was dominated by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s announcement that the U.S. intends to spend some $300 million helping Central American governments combat drug-related violence. While the announcement might be considered politically delicate, given the growing unpopularity in Mexico of similar U.S. assistance in recent years, it also raises the question of how much Central American nations may be willing to match the U.S. commitment. “What you see is that Central America governments’ own investment doesn’t match the magnitude of the problem, particularly when it comes to dedicating resources […]

Long-Suppressed Shias Shape New Iraq

Iraq’s long-suppressed Shia majority is in the ascendancy. Thousands of pilgrims flocked to a Baghdad shrine this week in a vibrant expression of religious identity that would not have been tolerated under the ruler of former dictator Saddam Hussein.

New IMF Chief to Take Over Changing Institution

The International Monetary Fund was conceived 67 years ago, during World War II, in an effort to oversee the international monetary system after the war. This report by the U.S. government-funded Voice of America looks into the institution’s history and the challenges that lie ahead.

The public commentary on the International Monetary Fund’s search for a new managing director to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn consistently stressed the need for a non-European to be selected in order to relegitimize the IMF. Now that French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde has been named to the job, one could understandably expect the fund to slide into irrelevance. Whether this is the case, however, depends less on the actual selection process and more on how Lagarde handles the day-to-day operations of the fund once she takes over. Maintaining some continuity with the fund’s Strauss-Kahn era, while breaking with it on Greece, […]

The Libya intervention has capped a difficult decade for airpower. While the combination of airstrikes and special forces units on the ground quickly overthrew the Taliban regime in 2001, the utility of airpower in counterinsurgency was called into question over the course of the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was hoped that the intervention in Libya would restore airpower’s luster by quickly defeating a tyrant bent on destroying his political enemies. But the campaign launched by the West’s most powerful air forces has thus far failed to dislodge Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, or even to force him to […]

Global Insider: China-Sri Lanka Relations

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse recently met with Chinese President Hu Jintao on the sidelines of an economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, where the two leaders pledged closer cooperation. In an email interview, Swaran Singh, a professor and chairman of the Center for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, discussed China-Sri Lanka relations. WPR: What is the recent history of China-Sri Lanka relations, and what is driving the relationship? Swaran Singh: China has been a major source of economic, military and technical assistance for Sri Lanka, which in turn supports China on its […]

BEIJING — China’s expanding economic engagement with Latin America has been largely based on securing access to the continent’s abundant natural resources. But despite the opportunities presented by the wave of Chinese capital, concerns have arisen over the asymmetric and one-dimensional nature of China’s relations in the region, which generally conform to the classic center-periphery model. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping’s recent three-country tour of the continent was aimed at addressing these concerns, outlining a blueprint for how China’s incoming leadership intends to deepen its international relations and consolidate recent economic foreign policy gains. In 2010, more than 90 percent […]

Khmer Rouge Trial Important Catharsis for Cambodia

The start of a U.N.-backed war crimes trial for the four surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge may finally set the stage for Cambodia to bring real closure to the graphic horrors it suffered during the latter half of the 20th century. “The trial is highly important in terms of Cambodian culture,” says Luke Hunt, a World Politics Review contributor and freelance journalist who has covered Cambodia and greater Asia for the past three decades. “I’ve spoken to many Khmers who believe in the total cathartic experience of seeing their tormentors put in the dock and their personalities laid bare […]

The triple catastrophe represented by Japan’s March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear emergency has thus far had two main effects on Japan’s national security policies. First, the crisis has focused the attention of Japanese security managers inward toward domestic humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. Second, it has reinforced the Japanese-U.S. alliance, which had already been strengthened by the Japanese government’s decision to abandon its earlier quest for a more independent security policy in light of increased external threats from the East Asian mainland. Given this increased salience of external threats, Japan’s earthquake-induced domestic preoccupation may prove to be of […]

Any hopes that volatile global oil markets would settle has been dispelled by events over the past two weeks: With OPEC unable to agree on a price target at its latest meeting, the International Energy Agency (IEA) decided to release 60 million barrels of strategic reserves. As a result, markets have little idea how to set prices. A 7 percent price drop following the IEA’s actions suggests that the market is trending downward. But while lower prices will be welcome news to consuming countries, the IEA is playing a dangerous game in seeking to influence short-term sentiment by putting more […]

Global Insider: India-Myanmar Relations

Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna recently visited Myanmar, the first high-level trip since Myanmar’s military junta installed a nominally civilian government last year. In an email interview, K. Yhome, a research fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, discussed India-Myanmar relations. WPR: What is the recent trajectory of India-Myanmar relations? K. Yhome: India-Myanmar relations have come a long way since New Delhi adopted a pragmatic approach toward Myanmar in the early 1990s. Even as relations began to improve with important initiatives taken to step up security and economic cooperation, such as joint military operations and border-trade measures, the […]

The debate over humanitarian intervention has a way of calling forth unconditional answers to a question that ought to elicit subtle reflection: What responsibilities do citizens of some or all states have to those of another state who are suffering grave harm? Realists argue that, however tragic, such situations seldom if ever touch on the fundamental interests of other powers, and thus no response is justified. Anti-imperialists maintain that most of the outside powers that have the ability to intervene cannot do so justly or disinterestedly, for reasons of history and current political economy. Purists claim that interventions are not […]

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