Dr James Jay Carafano

Despite a partial lifting of American sanctions against Iran and a flurry of high-level talks between the two sides, there is little sign of any inter-party cooperation in the United States on common security issues including Afghanistan and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many experts are predicting that the Republican Party will take control of both houses of Congress this autumn, which could spark calls for President Barack Obama to take a tougher stand on relations with Tehran. Failure in the negotiations could bring closer ties between Iran and Russia. read


The impact of sanctions on the Russian economy

Professor Stefan Hedlund

The impact of sanctions on the Russian economy

Professor Stefan Hedlund

The Russian and the European Union sanctions and counter-sanctions imposed on each other over the Ukraine crisis have come at a time when the economies of both are particularly vulnerable. Far from one gaining leverage over the other, the result will be that all sides are likely to suffer hardship. The recovery of the eurozone will slow and Russia could be pushed back into the bleak years of the Soviet period of economic stagnation, food queues, black markets and civil unrest. A negotiated settlement is the only way out. read


Professor Dr Blerim Reka

Germany’s Angela Merkel takes initiative over Balkans’ membership

Professor Dr Blerim Reka

Germany is hosting the first of a series of annual conferences to help the Western Balkans join the European Union. EU countries have used their veto powers over the last 10 years to block any Balkan countries - apart from Croatia - from joining. The German initiative is a wake-up call for Europe to recognise the geopolitical importance of including Balkan countries in EU plans. read


Geopolitics
There are no winners from the Ukraine crisis

Professor Stefan Hedlund

There are no winners from the Ukraine crisis

Professor Stefan Hedlund

US President Barack Obama's administration spoke of ‘pressing the reset button’ with Russia when it took office in 2009. Five years later, relations between Moscow and the West are at rock bottom and there is a serious danger of full-scale war between Russia and Ukraine. It is impossible to see an endgame where Russia ‘wins’ Ukraine, but it is obvious that Western taxpayers will have to contribute untold billions in aid to rebuild what is left of that nation when the conflict finally ends. A negotiated solution remains the only way out, but it currently looks very distant. read


Professor Dr Jaime Pinto

Ebola virus threatens West Africa's success

Professor Dr Jaime Pinto

West Africa has transformed itself from a region of war-torn countries depending on foreign aid to a beacon of success. An outbreak of the world’s deadliest virus in West Africa commands the headlines but political stability and the exploitation of natural resources is transforming the region which still faces many challenges and threats. read


Economics
Indonesia’s new leader faces challenges as he prepares for power

Yang Razali Kassim

Indonesia’s new leader faces challenges as he prepares for power

Yang Razali Kassim

Joko Widodo has emerged from obscurity to become president-elect of Indonesia, a vast archipelago previously led by retired generals or the political elite. Before taking power in October he has to strengthen his coalition – he faces leading a minority government – and form a competent cabinet. In government, his aims will be to create growth, cut fuel subsidies and develop infrastructure. Watching his every move will be his rival for power, Prabowo Subianto. read


Professor Enrico Colombatto

Central bankers in world’s key economies face crucial choices

Professor Enrico Colombatto

The performance of the economies of China, the United States and Europe, and their interaction over the coming months will define global scenarios for years to come. Prospects for both China and the US look brighter with faster growth as central bankers seem to have learned lessons. The European outlook, however, remains gloomy in the short and medium term. read


Professor Enrico Colombatto

Italy faces a new economic and political crisis

Professor Enrico Colombatto

The turmoil in Italian politics continues and is likely to come to a head before the end of 2014. Six months after promising a catalogue of reforms, new Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has delivered little and the economy has got worse. Now he faces finding 20 billion euros to meet the commitments he has made to Brussels. read


Defence & Security
Hezbollah and its part in the Middle East turmoil

Professor Dr Amatzia Baram

Hezbollah and its part in the Middle East turmoil

Professor Dr Amatzia Baram

The Syrian civil war has turned into a fully-blown regional conflagration. Shia Muslim groups are on one side, linked across Lebanon, through Syria, to Iraq and Iran. On the other side are Sunni Arabs, including Islamic State extremists, backed by the Arab Gulf states for whom the Islamic Republic of Iran is a primary foe. The deep involvement of the powerful Shia group Hezbollah, based in Lebanon and supporting Syria’s al-Assad regime, is a major factor in the ongoing conflict. Fighting has now spilled over to Hezbollah’s home territory. read


Professor Stefan Hedlund

Russian tactics in Ukraine test divided West’s defence policy

Professor Stefan Hedlund

Fears of an overwhelming Russian ground invasion of Ukraine did not materialise. But the conflict has given the Kremlin the chance to flex its military muscles, deploy irregular forces while remaining insistent that it is not involved, and gamble – successfully – that Nato would not intervene militarily. If Moscow now destabilises other countries with the same methods, the West will again risk being locked into a disorganised retreat by way of empty threats. read


China's military rise - a conflict between ideology and modernisation

China's mounting firepower and military intentions are causing significant concern among its neighbours and the United States. But its political leaders stress that its expansion and rapidly growing military budgets are for peaceful ends, despite increased tensions across the South and East China Seas, writes GIS guest expert Rogier Creemers. However, although China has convinced the world it is a serious military player, its army – the armed wing of the country’s Communist Party - lags behind in experience and professionalism, weakening its strength while raising the risk of conflict. read


Bernard Siman

Japan adds military muscle to defend its regional allies and neighbours

Bernard Siman

A change to Japan’s constitution, giving it the ability to take part in armed conflict, could change the region’s geopolitics through building bilateral alliances. This more aggressive foreign and defence policy approach is likely to have the backing of the US - Japan’s main ally. It can also be seen in conjunction with a number of treaties and alliances Japan is making with its neighbours to counteract China’s growing regional threat and influence. read


Energy
Russia’s South Stream pipeline widens EU division

Dr Frank Umbach

Russia’s South Stream pipeline widens EU division

Dr Frank Umbach

The European Union’s declared energy security policy is in tatters along with its will to impose economic sanctions over Ukraine. Russia’s South Stream gas pipeline has widened the divisions between member-states which see national economic advantages to partnering Russia on the project. But moves by Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy and Austria increase rather than reduce Europe’s dependence on Russia. read


Dr Carole Nakhle

Fresh approach needed in reforming Indonesia’s energy sector

Dr Carole Nakhle

There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the future policies of Indonesia's President-elect Joko Widodo, especially with respect to the energy sector. One thing is certain: the sector needs a fresh approach to halt the decline in oil and gas production, to reinstate investors’ confidence and strengthen the economy. read


Nick Loris

Export ban under pressure from US crude oil glut

Nick Loris

The US ban on crude oil exports, introduced in the wake of the 1973 Arab oil embargo, is being challenged because advances in technology have vastly increased production and decreased the need for imports. The shale oil industry produces light crude. There is now a glut and some restrictions on its export have already been lifted. But this move raises issues for energy markets all around the world. read


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