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Middle East/North Africa Security

Iraq and Syria: Do Profits Perpetuate Violence?

Years of civil war and political instability in Iraq and Syria have seen non-state actors rise to prominence. Many take a hybrid form, in which they have been semi-institutionalised by the state, qualifying them for the state payroll. However, the majority of these militias sustain themselves in other ways, notably from the shadow economy. This begs the question: for how long will illicit and informal economic activity persist and does its profits perpetuate violence?

Politics South and Central Asia

Russia-Armenia Ties Complicate Turkish Regional Plans

In ending Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territories in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Russian-brokered accord between Armenia and Azerbaijan in November 2020 removes the Azerbaijani condition for the creation of a regional stability pact in the South Caucasus first proposed in 1999. The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, hopes that Armenia will now take the steps needed to establish such a security system. However, the political crisis in Armenia since the November ceasefire calls into question whether Yerevan will have the willingness to commit to this regional initiative.

International South and Central Asia

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: How Delhi is losing the Indian-Chinese soft power game in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has increasingly become a focus of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in the last decade. The Hambantota port development project is a notable example, an ambitious but costly endeavour by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, which was in the end handed over by the government to a Chinese enterprise on a 99-year lease in 2017 to reduce its spiralling debt burden.

Europe Security

The Turkish intervention in Nagorno-Karabakh may favour EU interests

As mediator in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Russia has sought to maintain influence in Azerbaijan and Armenia following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In pursuing a strategy based on balancing competing Armenian-Azerbaijani interests over the disputed territory, Moscow is able to wield leverage in the South Caucasus without antagonising either Baku or Yerevan. However, the Turkish intervention on the issue in 2020 in full support of Azerbaijan tilted the power-balance of the conflict and cemented Ankara as a new security actor in the region.

Politics Southeast Asia

Potential Backlash of EU Sanctions for People of Myanmar

Countries around the world have had conflicting responses to the military coup that removed Aung San Suu Kyi and replaced Myanmar’s democratically elected government with the Tatmadaw. While some countries, such as the United States, are choosing to target specific members of this junta, the bloc of nations that comprise the European Union (EU) are considering targeting military businesses with sanctions following the violent crackdown that has left 61 peaceful protesters dead. If the EU places sanctions on these junta affiliated conglomerates, a true quagmire will reveal itself, as the general population in Myanmar will be the most afflicted. 

Middle East/North Africa Natural resources and energy

What to expect in the Gulf Cooperation Countries in 2021: Key trends to watch

The history of the Gulf Cooperation Council is a story of the equally blessing and cursing natural resources, monarchies and Muslim Brotherhood. Since its establishment in 1981, this political and economic union has been subject to heightened economic pressures and long-standing geopolitical dynamics. This article explores the key trends to expect from the partnership of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates throughout 2021.

Latin America Politics

Cuba: Will Political Change follow Economic Liberalisation?

In response to crippling economic stagnation, Cuba has passed regulations which hint at a turn towards a more market-driven economy. However, political control over key sectors including education and the media still lies heavily with the state. The most striking policy, which allows thousands of professions to run outside the remit of the state, will change the character of business within Cuba and may lead to increased innovation and interaction with international markets. Could Cuba’s economic liberalisation lead to further political freedoms?

Africa Politics South Africa

South Africa’s Secondary Pandemic: A Crisis of Gender Based Violence

In South Africa, sometimes known as the ‘destination of femicide’, more than 2,700 women have been murdered as result of gender-based violence (GBV) since 2000. Although grassroots organisations have persistently campaigned to end GBV, many women in South Africa continue to suffer abuse. Now, South Africa’s GBV problem is worsening, as lockdown measures have trapped women inside with their abusers.

 

Africa Politics

Somalia’s Election Impasse: History Repeating Itself

Somalia has found itself in a situation that is very familiar – an election impasse. Despite hopes of a smooth transition of power and a new election model being implemented, multiple challenges faced the election, which was scheduled for February 8th, 2021. However, these challenges are not new, and one has to wonder how Somalia has found itself in this situation again. Regardless of the outcome of the election impasse, the impacts thereof will have long lasting effects on Somalia’s democratic hopes.

Middle East/North Africa Security

The early dilemmas of Biden’s foreign policy towards the Middle East and the Iranian factor

During his first speech on foreign policy earlier in February, President Biden announced his decision to terminate US support for Saudi Arabia’s military operations in Yemen. Suspending offensive aid for the Saudi-led coalition, the recently-elected President decided to reverse one of the last foreign policy moves of Trump’s administration, by lifting the designation of Yemeni Houthi as a terrorist group.