Recent remarks by a prominent Saudi Arabian royal have fanned new fears that Iran’s advancing nuclear program could kick-start a nuclear arms race in the region. Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former Saudi ambassador to the U.S. and the kingdom’s ex-intelligence chief, suggested that given the failure to denuclearize the Middle East, Saudi Arabia should also consider an arsenal of its own. “Our efforts and those of the world have failed to convince Israel to abandon its weapons of mass destruction, as well as Iran,” he said during a Gulf security forum in Riyadh. “Therefore it is our duty toward our […]
In the first decade of the 20th century, Brazil attempted to stake out a space for itself as a major Western Hemisphere naval power, ordering a pair of dreadnought battleships from British yards in 1906. Dubbed Minas Gerais and Sao Paulo, these ships were as capable as any then in operation among the world’s navies, and indeed outgunned early British, German and American contemporaries. The acquisition of the two ships — as well as the planned purchase of a third — set off a naval race in the Southern Cone, with Chile and Argentina soon following suit. Unfortunately, the battleships […]
Last week’s historic visit to Myanmar by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton represents the culmination of the Obama administration’s policy shift toward the pariah state. Launched in September 2009 to establish a new starting point in the relationship between the two countries, the engagement with Myanmar is part of the broader U.S. effort to play a primary role in the fast-evolving Asia-Pacific region. By contrast, the European Union seems unable to keep up with the economic and political changes taking place in Asia, and instead appears simply to follow Washington’s lead without needed policy debates within the union. EU […]
Tens of thousands of Colombians have taken to the streets in an outpouring of national anger against FARC rebels. The protests are in response to the FARC’s killing of four hostages, all members of the armed forces shot during a raid by government troops on a FARC hide-out last month.
The recent formalization of a new regional cooperation bloc that includes every country in the Americas except Canada and the United States has been largely dismissed in the English-language media as little more than a new soap-box from which the region’s more flamboyant leftists, namely Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, will now spew anti-American rhetoric. To some extent, the potential for such an outcome exists. But it is also worth noting that the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC by its Spanish acronym, has now been given an official stamp of approval from not just left-leaning heads of […]
On Nov. 28, the Turkish government reluctantly imposed comprehensive sanctions against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Meanwhile, Turkish leaders are now calling for Assad to step down, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan comparing him to Hitler. Thus far, the Turkish government has relied on diplomatic, political and economic instruments to achieve its goals of regime change in Syria. But the possibility of active military intervention, though previously excluded and still unlikely, is becoming more plausible. Historically, relations between Turkey and Syria have been troubled, but they experienced a noticeable improvement since Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party […]
There is no question that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will easily return to the Kremlin as president next year and that he will be fully in charge of Russia when he does. But the steady erosion of his regime’s grip over the Russian public was on full display Sunday, when Russian voters elected a new Duma. In the previous legislative elections in 2007, Putin’s United Russia party polled almost two-thirds of the vote and gained enough seats to change the constitution as well. This time around, even with the help of widespread electoral fraud, the party failed to reach […]
During a recent visit to Ottawa, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and his Canadian counterpart, Defense Minister Peter MacKay, announced that military cooperation agreements between Israel and Canada would be forthcoming by end of the year. In an email interview, Rex Brynen, a professor of political science at McGill University, discussed Canada-Israel relations. WPR: What is the recent history of Canada-Israel diplomatic, economic and security relations? Rex Brynen: While Canadian-Israeli ties have long been very friendly, there has been a marked shift to even closer relations under Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and recent Conservative governments. This has been manifest […]
Times are changing in the Eastern Mediterranean, defined for the purposes of this article as the area bounded to the north by Greece and Turkey, to the south by Egypt and to the east by the Levantine coast. The area has recently been the scene of several naval incidents sparked by the Arab-Israeli and related conflicts as well as by equally well-established tensions between Greece and Turkey, largely — but not wholly — over the divided island of Cyprus and related issues. As U.S. naval priorities shift and those of Europe decline, major offshore energy discoveries have raised tensions and […]
It was an ignominious start for a potentially profound technological revolution. On June 21, 2011, a U.S. Navy MQ-8 Fire Scout robotic reconnaissance helicopter was shot down near Tripoli by forces loyal to then-Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The 24-foot-long, gray-painted drone was one of two launched from the frigate USS Halyburton and remotely controlled by operators aboard the vessel. Carrying classified sensors, the Fire Scouts likely helped detect targets for NATO forces flying top cover for Libyan rebels. The Fire Scouts’ Libyan missions represent the major combat debut for the U.S. Navy’s growing arsenal of unmanned vehicles. In coming years, […]
The sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan by a North Korean submarine in March 2010 has already been recognized as a human tragedy and a significant escalation by Pyongyang in its multi-decade confrontation with Seoul. But in the years ahead, the Cheonan incident may come to be remembered more as the inaugural event in a new era of subsurface naval competition and confrontation in the Asia-Pacific region. Asia’s rising powers are investing in submarine capabilities at unprecedented levels, and the nature of this investment is fundamentally changing the region’s subsurface environment. While this trend is certainly part of a […]
The United States is on the verge of an industrial renaissance, according to energy experts enthusiastic about technological advances surrounding the “fracking” of shale gas and the processing of “tight oil.” America is sitting on a century-worth of natural gas, and the Western hemisphere boasts five times the reserves in unconventional oil as the Middle East claims in the conventional category. Suddenly, all our fears of resource wars with China and never-ending quagmires in Southwest Asia seem to melt away, heralding with great certainty another American century based on the promise of energy independence. As “deus ex machina” moments go, […]
Recent reports from Syria of military defectors attacking an Air Force intelligence building in Hasrata highlight the growing likelihood that Syrian military sites will become a target in the country’s ongoing conflict. While no other similar attacks have been reported since then, the Hasrata incident illustrates the possibility of escalating instability within Syria’s military command, which could in turn lead to difficulties in controlling and securing Syrian military assets. In such a climate, Syria’s alleged chemical weapons program is cause for particular concern. The international community suspects Syria of having a comprehensive chemical weapons program that includes production and delivery […]
Israel reportedly test-fired a long-range missile in early November capable of hitting Iran. In an email interview, Dinshaw Mistry, an associate professor at the University of Cincinnati and the author of “Containing Missile Proliferation,” discussed Israel’s missile capabilities. WPR: What is the current size of Israel’s ballistic missile arsenal (short- and mid-range missiles and ranges, and long-range ICBMs)? Dinshaw Mistry: Israel is believed to deploy at least several tens of Jericho ballistic missiles. In the 1970s, Israel developed and deployed the single-stage Jericho-1 missile, which had a range of 250-300 miles and could reach Israel’s immediate neighbors. In the 1980s […]
I had the pleasure of participating in France 24’s panel discussion program, The World This Week, last Friday. The other panelists were Time magazine’s Vivienne Walt, Newsweek and the Daily Beast’s Christopher Dickey and France 24’s Melissa Bell. Topics included Islamist electoral victories in Tunisia and Egypt, and the European debt crisis. Part one can be found here. Part two can be found here.