WPR is taking a hiatus from publishing this week, as we do every August. Our briefings, columns, interviews and other series will return Tuesday, Sept. 6. While we’re gone, we thought we’d leave you with a few key articles from our archives that should help you better understand current issues and events. Syria is Turkey’s Litmus Test in the New Middle East The Turks have not been so actively involved in the Middle East since the days of the Ottoman Empire. But Turkey’s leaders have found it difficult to balance the region’s competing interests while staying above the fray. With […]

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series. Part I examined the need for a global economic grand bargain. Part II examines what such an economic grand bargain might look like. BEIJING — The recent market correction and an increasingly bleak economic outlook have sharpened the case for a G-20 economic grand bargain. China has the capacity to take a lead in any such arrangement, using its $3 trillion foreign exchange reserves as bargaining chips for reshaping the global economy to better suit its interests. This could form the bedrock of broad-based and coordinated policy action to address […]

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Côte d’Ivoire recently announced that it would not be able to make payments on its external debt in 2011, prolonging a default that originated in the crisis following the country’s disputed 2010 presidential elections. In an email interview, Yvan Guichaoua, a lecturer in politics and international development at the University of East Anglia, discussed Côte d’Ivoire’s economy and finances. WPR: What are Côte d’Ivoire’s main agricultural and industrial sectors, as well as its principal export and trade relationships? Yvan Guichaoua: Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s largest producer of cocoa. This cash crop represents 70 percent of the country’s export earnings […]

As the Libya operation enters what appears to be its final phase, the debate is only beginning as to what it portends for the future of U.S. policy and the international system as a whole. The course of events in Libya over the past months validates what I have termed the “just enough” doctrine. The Obama administration successfully resisted pressure — from Libyan rebels, European allies and domestic critics alike — to increase the U.S. role in order to achieve a faster outcome in Libya. If that doctrine takes on greater coherence, it could strengthen the arguments for limited, targeted […]

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Myanmar allowed a U.N. human rights envoy to visit the country for the first time in more than a year this week, prompting reports that President Thein Sein may be seeking a new era of dialogue with the international community — particularly those critical of the country’s repeated bloody crackdowns on democracy advocates. Western rights organizations and governments have long called for the release of more than 2,000 political prisoners in Myanmar, and, according to Renaud Egreteau, a political scientist and Myanmar specialist at the University of Hong Kong, “Thein Sein now aims to reconnect with regional players.” Egreteau, who […]

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series. Part I examines the need for a global economic grand bargain. Part II, which will appear tomorrow, will examine what such an economic grand bargain might look like. BEIJING — When the global financial crisis broke in 2008, rather than allow economic forces to run their course, policymakers intervened to set the unholy precedent of nationalizing financial market risks. Moreover, this was done without addressing the structural imbalances behind the boom and bust. Events of the last three weeks have demonstrated the fundamental ineffectiveness of previous interventions and underscored the […]

President Benigno Aquino of the Philippines surprised many when he covertly met Murad Ibrahim, the leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in Tokyo on August 4. The meeting was a clear step forward in a peace process that has haltingly dragged on for some 14 years. Yet the ripple effects it generated exemplify the intractability of the Moro issue and have added a new sense of urgency to the process. Although the content of the meeting remains unreported, it is generally agreed that the event was at least a useful trust-building exercise between warring parties struggling to overcome […]

The future of Libya was never terribly important to the U.S. That has now changed. Under the rule of the flamboyant Col. Moammar Gadhafi, Tripoli managed to garner a lot of attention, but, in fact, the country had only marginal strategic importance to the West. Then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates admitted as much soon after the U.S. agreed to join a NATO effort on the side of the rebels seeking to topple the regime. Once NATO launched its operation in Libya, however, the stakes for Washington suddenly grew. And now more than ever, with Gadhafi out of power, Libya has […]

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With the world’s spotlight now shining on the climactic events in Libya, the struggle for meaningful transformation in neighboring Tunisia, whose authoritarian president was ousted by demonstrations some eight months ago, has largely been left in the dark. Tunisia’s youth uprising has widely been credited with sparking the greater Arab Spring. But the nation has yet to form an assembly to reform its constitution, and its economy has suffered increasingly this summer amid a near collapse in the nation’s tourism industry. There is, however, reason to feel optimistic, according to Emad Shahin, a Middle East specialist at Notre Dame’s Kroc […]

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Turkish President Abdullah Gul was in Saudi Arabia last week to discuss the situation in Syria with Saudi King Abdullah. In an email interview, Gareth Jenkins, senior fellow at the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and the Silk Road Studies Program, discusses Turkey-Saudi Arabia relations. WPR: What is the current status of Turkish-Saudi relations, and how have they evolved in recent years? Gareth Jenkins: Turkey and Saudi Arabia have enjoyed cordial rather than close relations since the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in Turkey in 2002 and began to focus more on strengthening Ankara’s relations with other Muslim countries […]

With the breaking of Libya’s many-month stalemate, the end of a 42-year reign of megalomaniacal tyranny has arrived. As the rebels attempt to consolidate power in Tripoli, however, what lies ahead for Libya as a nation and for the foreign powers that paved the way for Moammar Gadhafi’s ouster remains far from certain. Key to the future of a viable Libya will be law, stabilization and reconstruction so that civil society can be re-established swiftly. After four decades of inequity, revenge will be hard to avoid. Nonetheless, Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) has emphasized to rebel fighters that retribution against […]

Over the past few days, Libyan rebels supported by NATO airstrikes have seized most of Tripoli. The rebels’ apparent military success has quieted, at least for the moment, many critics of NATO’s military strategy in Libya. While a full account of the lessons learned from the conflict must await the writing of a full history — not to mention the end of the actual war — the events of the past few days demand a degree of re-evaluation of how the campaign was conducted. Indeed, this column has offered several critiques of NATO’s performance, including commentary on the dubious legality […]

Following a violent struggle for control of two checkpoints on the Kosovo-Serbia border, the immediate danger of an escalating crisis has been averted. But the cost has been to reinforce the message that violence delivers results. On the night of July 25, Kosovan Prime Minister Hashim Thaci sent special police to seize a pair of border posts in the country’s lawless, Serb-dominated north, resulting in the death of one Kosovo Albanian police officer and injuries to four others. The police withdrew under fierce resistance from the locals, leaving Kosovo Serbs barricading roads to prevent their return. Others torched one of […]

The first public showings of post-Soviet Russian-made aircraft were held last week at Russia’s recently completed International Aviation & Space Salon exhibition, known as MAKS-2011 and held at Zhukovsky airfield outside Moscow. More than 400,000 visitors attended the five-day biennial aviation event, at which hundreds of aerospace firms were represented, including many foreign ones. The exhibition shed considerable light on the revival of Russian military aviation as it attempts to break free from lingering Soviet-era constraints. Until a few years ago, Russian aerospace companies struggled to keep Soviet-era weapons platforms operational through upgrades. The Russian military-industrial complex rarely produced any […]

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The Peruvian government’s suspension of coca eradication operations last week raised the question of whether newly elected President Ollanta Humala might embrace a pro-coca legalization policy in line with that of President Evo Morales in neighboring Bolivia. In addition to suspending eradication, Humala also replaced Peru’s top counterdrug and intelligence officials. However, according to Coletta Youngers, a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America and specialist in international drug control policy, neither development signals an aggressive shift in Peru’s counternarcotics policy. Youngers cautioned Trend Lines this morning not to “read more into what has happened with [Peru’s] eradication […]

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Iran announced last month that it would send aid to Malawi, shortly following cuts in aid to the Southeast African country by the U.S. and the U.K. In an email interview, Scott Lucas, an expert on Iran at the University of Birmingham, discussed Iran-Africa relations. WPR: What is the current state of Iran’s development aid and investment in Africa? Scott Lucas: Iran has continued, despite — and arguably because of — international sanctions, to make a significant effort to further its diplomatic and economic ties with African countries. High-ranking Iranian officials, including the foreign minister, have toured the continent, and, […]

In recent weeks, pundits, diplomats and assorted foreign policy wonks have started raising the alarm on U.S.-Russia relations, with the Obama administration’s much-trumpeted “reset” seeming to be increasingly under threat. A recent travel ban by the U.S. State Department on certain Russian officials believed to be involved in the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky elicited an angry response from Moscow threatening cooperation in areas ranging from Afghanistan to North Korea. Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, has started grousing about U.S. missile defense plans again. And all of this comes against a backdrop of increasing criticism from Prime Minister Vladimir […]

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