ARAB GEOPOLITICS 2020
THE MIDDLE EAST: WHAT KIND OF FUTURE?
POLICY BACKGROUND PAPER
Almost ten years after the start of the uprisings against the anciens régimes in North Africa and the Middle East, the region is still in turmoil. Despite the considerable exception of Tunisia, in the vast majority of the cases, the old guard has been successful in neutralising the revolutionary wave of 2011. Nevertheless, in the past two years the old grievances expressed during the Arab Spring season are getting vocal again.
WHEN AND ORDER ENDS
This article intends to discuss three points: the quest for a new world order, echoing the one established in 1945, is pointless; what should be done when an existing order cannot be adapted, and how the transition to a different order should be presently governed.
“CAN AN UNSTABLE WORLD BE MADE SAFER?”
SPEECH IN MEMORY OF THE RT HON EDWARD HEATH
(Salisbury, 20th November 2019)
One of the most unproductive exercises in public discourse is to speculate on what this or that deceased person would be saying about some contemporary event. It is a cliché too often worked to death. And yet, and yet, it does not strain the imagination to breaking point to speculate on what Ted Heath would be making of what his Party is doing today on Brexit. Outrage, dismay, confusion and seething anger; to claim that these might be his feelings at this moment is to be on reasonably safe ground.
THE SULTAN AND THE CZAR:
ERDOGAN AND PUTIN’S GAME-CHANGING POLICIES IN LIBYA
Despite the growing number of Covid-19 victims in Libya in mid-May, the civil war in the country is reaching new highs. The capital Tripoli has been under siege from the leader of eastern Libya-based self-styled Libyan Arab Armed Forces (LAAF), Khalifa Haftar, since last April, who last January sensed total victory.
THE EURO-MEDITERRANEAN ENERGY RELATIONSHIP:
A FRESH PERSPECTIVE
Energy is a fundamental component of the economic relationship between the European Union and the ‘southern neighbourhood’ Mediterranean countries. This dates back to the 1960s, when discussions started on the first large-scale energy infrastructure in the Mediterranean region – a gas pipeline connecting Algeria to Italy via Tunisia.
THE MIRAGE OF STABILITY:
NORTH AFRICA AFTER THE PANDEMIC
The COVID-19 potentially represents a watershed moment in contemporary history, uniting Global North and Global South in the multi-faceted challenge of the pandemic, which is causing havoc and raises doubts on the ruling neo-liberal model. The reinforcement of the state’s powers and the shrinking space for civil liberties and political rights are without any doubt two of the major consequences resulting from the spread of the pandemic.
THE MARITIME DOCTRINE OF 2015
AND ITS EFFECT ON THE RUSSIAN BLACK SEA STRATEGY
The Black Sea, being a proximity sea, represents an area of great interest for the Russian Federation, as indeed clearly confirmed by the Maritime Doctrine of 2015, which underlines precisely the specific importance of coastal areas for the Russian Federation. The coastal areas worth vigilant attention for the Russian Federation are the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov, the Caspian Sea, the Baltic and the Arctic.
PANDEMICS AND GLOBAL TRENDS
Pandemics are nothing new in human history and also in contemporary one. Since WHO does not have either a scientific or a quantifiable definition of pandemic (something that has raised some questions on the concrete logic and dynamics that lead to a pandemic declaration), one has to take into account past examples just as a rule of thumb:
- Spanish flu, 100 million dead (1918-1920);
- Asiatic flu, 1,1 million (1957-1958);
The sensitive strategic position of Belarus between the Russian Federation, EU and NATO
The choice that leads to neutrality, de facto, if not de jure, often occurs when a small country tries to protect itself from a bigger and powerful neighbour or to break free from a bond of subordination, vassalage and dependence on its old colonial master.
This applies to former colonies of the old European empires as well as to some states of the post-Soviet space, following the implosion of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The 2019 NATO-Industry Forum
Not Much Sparkle but Some Progress from ACT and Industry
The Seventh NATO Industry Forum (NIF) was held in Washington, DC on November 13-14. As is well known, the NIF is a periodic event whose purpose is to promote effective interaction between NATO and Industry, Academia, Research Institutions, Think Tanks, etc., and assess incremental progress. It is jointly organized by ACT (the Allied Command of Transformation) and the NATO Defense Investment (DI) Division…read more.
CONFRONTING CRIMINAL/TERRORIST THREATS. THE RESHAPING OF NON-STATE ACTORS
POLICY BACKGROUND PAPER
The 27th of October, President Donald Trump proudly announced the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). He killed himself during a raid in the Barisha village (Idlib Province, north-western Syria, near the Turkish border) by elements of the 75th Ranger Regiment and the Delta Force. As in other cases, the death of a chief does not…read more.
A crisis of NATO or a crisis around NATO?
It is rather interesting to collect the different trenchant critiques collected by the Alliance in three years. Let us start from the US President’s tweets and remarks:
- “I said a long time ago that NATO had problems: Number one, it was obsolete, because it was designed many, many years ago.” (16/1/2017);
- “NATO was weak, but now it is strong again (bad for Russia).” (17/7/2018);
- Fox news host: “Membership in NATO obligates the members to defend any other member that’s…read more.
40 YEARS AFTER THE NATO DOUBLE TRACK DECISION
On 3rd and 4th December, NATO Leaders will gather in London to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Atlantic Alliance. It will be eight months late and, probably, will be hosted in a not very convenient place, because of the ongoing local Brexit paranoia. It will be good, nevertheless, to have a candid and comprehensive discussion on the future of the Euro-Atlantic security community, at the highest political level. So far, the prologue is quite scary: on one side, the US President seems always eager to blame any initiative taken by the EU and its Member States; on the other side, the French President responds, announcing NATO’s “brain death”. It is appropriate to quote Mark Twain (“Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”) and it is fair recalling …read more.
Two years after the fall of the Caliphate the Arab world has still been unable to express a stable regional order built upon the material and political/moral ruins left. The end of the territorial dimension of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) could have represented a turning point to re-discuss and re-arrange a new concert of powers in the region. On the other hand…read more.
BALKAN PERSPECTIVES. ADAPTING THE PARTNERSHIP AND INTEGRATION PATHS
POLICY BACKGROUND PAPER
When the European leaders made the solemn commitment of enlarging the Union towards the Western Balkans at the Thessaloniki EU Council in 2003, the general mood about the region was rather positive. Politicians, diplomats and analysts thought that the Western Balkans would have joined NATO and the EU within 15 years, following the same path of Central Europe…read more.
It is common knowledge that the world situation is characterised by increasing geopolitical tensions, local wars, a somewhat unpredictable behaviour of the three superpowers (US, China and Russia) and the ever present, even if discontinuous, terrorist threat. Most countries are therefore facing a raising number of real or perceived threats, while the continuous technological evolution, occasionally disruptive, makes those threats even more difficult to predict and counteract.
This geopolitical quandary has generated a bigger attention to defence and security issues and an increase in the demand for military equipment…read more.
Hybrid WARFARE IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES
PRESENTATION FROM THE MAX WEBER INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP – “FEAR OF TROLLS AND LITTLE GREEN MAN. DOES HYBRID WARFARE WORK, FOR WHOM, AND WHEN?”
In 2005 British General Rupert Smith wrote that “War no longer exists”. He continued: “Confrontation, conflict and combat undoubtedly exist all around the world. […] Nonetheless, war as known to most non-combatants, war as battle in the field between men and machinery, war as a massive deciding event…read more.
The reaction of the Arab armies to the 2011 uprisings is a subject is a subject that has been frequently examined, but the evolution and reform of Arab armies is a neglected topic. In times of global interdependence, the Atlantic Alliance must be ready to understand and interact with the changing Middle East….read more.