Carlos Eduardo Lins da Silva

A plane crash which killed one of Brazil’s presidential election candidates has created an unpredictable outcome. It has pitted former environment minister Marina Silva against President Dilma Rousseff in what looks likely to be a head-to-head battle in October. The two women clashed when they both held top jobs under President Lula da Silva. Now the election race is too close to call. read


The strategic implications of Russia’s record-breaking gas contract with China

Dr Frank Umbach

The strategic implications of Russia’s record-breaking gas contract with China

Dr Frank Umbach

Russian energy giant Gazprom has landed one of the biggest gas deals in history with China. But the 30-year contract, worth US$400 billion depends on laying thousands of miles of pipelines from new remote gas fields. It raises doubts about the profitability of the bilateral deal and which power emerges as the likely winner. read


Dr Uwe Nerlich

Nato is in search of a mission

Dr Uwe Nerlich

Russia’s support for Ukrainian separatists fighting for independence in eastern Ukraine has raised concerns about European defence to a new level. Nato’s two-day summit saw greater unanimity and determination to place Europe’s defence back on the agenda. But the real work was achieved in a 30-minute side-meeting between key players. read


Geopolitics
Africa needs Europe’s help to redraw its borders

Charles Millon

Africa needs Europe’s help to redraw its borders

Charles Millon

Many African countries are suffering from conflict. Tribal and religious differences are involved, along with the division of natural resources. In some cases a strong leader may bring stability, but many experts advocate African federalism – the creation of subsidiary entities within the states. The borders inherited from the colonial period have demonstrated their limitations, so a new deal cannot be made without a major international conference bringing together the Western governments, especially those of Europe. read


Professor Stefan Hedlund

West stumbles into an abyss of indecision over Ukraine

Professor Stefan Hedlund

Ukraine warns of a 'Great War' with Russia. President Vladimir Putin highlights the federation’s nuclear capabilities. Nato plans a rapid-reaction force capable of deploying quickly to eastern Europe. But Ukraine troops fight on alone. Despite talks of a ceasefire, a major war looms large. The cost to the world of missed opportunities for dialogue between Russia and the West will be substantial. read


Economics
Acid test for economic technocrats in the European Union

Professor Enrico Colombatto

Acid test for economic technocrats in the European Union

Professor Enrico Colombatto

Professional economists rather than politicians are being called in by political leaders facing economic difficulties. French President Francois Hollande is the latest to follow this path. But such appointments can spell danger when the technocrat fails to understand that their role is the scapegoat for government failure and not a pathway to international economic stardom. read


Professor Enrico Colombatto

The EU and the euro are easy targets in political blame-game

Professor Enrico Colombatto

Politicians are using the European Union and the euro currency to raise their profile and popularity by blaming them for national ills. This scapegoating diverts attention from the real issues. But Europe’s politicians lack the courage and vision in the short term to take the major step to leave the EU or the euro currency. read


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


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


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


Energy
China’s growing hunger for energy resources

Dr Frank Umbach

China’s growing hunger for energy resources

Dr Frank Umbach

China faces enormous challenges as its economy drives forward. The demand for energy continues to grow too so it is relying on increased imports and the risks that go with these. But it faces the challenge of having to reduce emissions and competition within the region for new offshore energy supplies. read


Dr Frank Umbach

EU’s credibility at stake over South Stream pipeline

Dr Frank Umbach

Russia is using its controversial South Stream pipeline project to divide opinion among countries in the European Union about imposing tougher sanctions over the Ukraine crisis. Some countries are taking a narrow view of their trade with Russia rather than a wider geopolitical context. This flies in the face of the EU’s own energy security policies. read


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


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