Brazil as a Positive Force in Africa

September 2, 2012 by

Policy makers in the U.S. have exaggerated Chinese involvement in Africa, even though other rising powers are attempting similar inroads. For example, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brazil are trying to expand their ties with the region in spite of China’s safari. While on a recent trip to Luanda, the capital of Angola, I discovered that the Chinese are overcrowding the suburbs having built their own Chinatown’s. Perhaps there are more than 80,000 Chinese nationals residing in Luanda alone.

Iran and the Non-Aligned Movement’s Struggle for Relevance

September 1, 2012 by

Last week’s unanimous decree by the 120-country non-aligned movement (NAM) supporting Iran’s development of a nuclear power capability has delegitimized the U.S. government’s claim that Iran lacks global support for its nuclear ambitions. The Tehran Declaration was unanimous in its support for Iran’s pursuit of nuclear power development and its right to develop uranium enrichment, while predictably criticizing America’s attempt to punish and isolate Iran.

A Fresh Dose of Pragmatism in Mexican Politics

August 31, 2012 by

Former Mexico City Mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) hates to lose. Narrowly defeated in Mexico’s 2006 presidential election, AMLO refused to recognize the results. He demanded a recount, declared himself the winner and occupied Mexico’s City’s central square (the Zócalo) and other streets for several months. While such actions did little to curry favor with the incoming National Action Party (PAN) administration, his protests did enjoy widespread support from Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) supporters.

On the Poisoning of Yasser Arafat

August 30, 2012 by

It is the language of brutal indifference – words that are chewed, gnawed, spat out with derision. But when asked whether the Israeli authorities might have had a hand in the death of Yaser Arafat, the reaction is stubbornly predictable. “Israel did not have any hand in this,” claimed Dov Weisglass, the relevant chief of staff of then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2004. “We did not physically hurt him when Arafat was in his prime…so all the more so we had no interest in this kind of activity when he was politically sidelined.”

The Crisis in Mali

August 26, 2012 by

The reports filtering out of Northern Mali are appalling: a young couple stoned to death, iconic ancient shrines dismantled, and some 365,000 refugees fleeing beatings and whippings for the slightest violations of Sharia law. But the bad dream unfolding in this West African country is less the product of a radical version of Islam than a consequence of the West’s scramble for resources on this vast continent, and the wages of sin from the recent Libyan war.

Britain, Ecuador and the Case of Julian Assange

August 26, 2012 by

A decade ago, the British government of Labour prime minister Tony Blair decided to back President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq even though foreign office lawyers in London had warned that such an attack had no “legal basis in international law.” In the midst of sharp divisions in government and British society, the invasion went ahead in March 2003. The consequences were far-reaching and they undermined the Blair government’s authority at home.

Mali: Not on Clinton’s Farewell Agenda

August 24, 2012 by

On August 10, 2012 Secretary Hillary Clinton ended her ten day trip to nine sub-Saharan African countries: Senegal, Uganda, South Sudan, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Benin. The trip was publicized as her last to the continent, as Secretary of State in the Obama Administration. The common thread throughout her structured remarks was on the building blocks for democratic institutions, good governance, rule of law, corruption, security, and trade.

Mohamed Morsi’s Evolving Relationship with Egypt’s Military

August 24, 2012 by

Ever since early April when he became an official candidate in the first post-revolution presidential election, Dr. Mohamed Morsi has been generally dismissed by most political observers as a weak and unimpressive politician. In fact, he was an accidental contender since he was the stand-in candidate for the Muslim Brotherhood’s (MB) first choice, senior leader Khairat Al-Shater.

Exploring Sino-Russian Relations: The Dynamic Partnership

August 23, 2012 by

Exploring the dimensions of Sino-Russian relations reveals a perplexing question, “who is the junior partner?” No definite answer presents itself because Sino-Russian relations change depending on different issues and situations. In the post Cold War era, China has proved to be very adaptable to change while Russia has struggled to restructure to the new order.

U.S. Must Tread Carefully in Zimbabwe

August 23, 2012 by

Council of Foreign Relations senior fellow Ambassador John Campbell recently released a policy innovation memorandum entitled, “Zimbabwe: An Opportunity for Closer U.S.-South Africa Relations.” It is heartening to see analysts writing on topics they perceive as beneficial to closer relations between the United States and South Africa. Campbell, a former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, makes a number of valid points, and in principle, the tone of his brief is correct. Both sides want an end to the political crisis.

Post-Assad Syria: A Region in Turmoil

August 21, 2012 by

Syria is in dire straits. The once regal and prosperous cities of Damascus and Aleppo have now become the primary battlefields of the Syrian Army against opposition forces. Since the start of the Syrian uprising in March 2011, the calm and serenity of both Damascus and Aleppo were often touted by the Syrian regime to the world as indicators of Syrian stability. The swift change from peace to turmoil however, has happened almost overnight, with President Assad describing the current battle in Aleppo as decisive of Syria’s fate.

Diplomatic Showdown Looms Between Britain and Ecuador

August 20, 2012 by

The political asylum granted by Ecuador to the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange may devolve into a mess if Britain resorts to a military option against Ecuador to forceably remove him from their Embassy. Despite a stern British warning coupled with a threat to the government of Ecuador to strip it of its diplomatic status and storm its embassy in London to arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Ecuador granted political asylum to Assange on Thursday ignoring British threats not to do so.

UK-Latin American Relations after the Assange Scandal

August 19, 2012 by

On August 2nd, I wrote a brief commentary for IPD with my thoughts about Ecuador’s foreign policy which I argued that, while Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa is not necessarily as ambitious as his Venezuelan friend and counterpart, Hugo Chavez (nor does he have the same amount of resources) Quito has carried out several interesting foreign policy initiatives in the past few years.

Barack Obama’s ‘Intelligence Finding’ and the Syrian Civil War

August 12, 2012 by

The revelation about President Barack Obama’s decision to provide secret American aid to Syria’s rebel forces is a game changer. The presidential order, known as an “intelligence finding” in the world of espionage, authorizes the CIA to support armed groups fighting to overthrow Bashar al-Assad’s government. But it threatens far more than the regime in Damascus.

America’s Broken Political Process: Russian Bills Fail in Congress

August 6, 2012 by

In spite of the fact that the U.S. economy continues to suffer and Europe is imploding, the U.S. Congress has left Washington for its traditional five-week summer recess. Among the plethora of legislation that Congress failed to address prior to its departure were two bills concerning Russia — the establishment of permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) and the ‘Magnitsky Act.’

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