Defense & Security
Military strategy, alliances, weapons, troops and firepower. Defense and security issues shape geopolitical events now more than ever. GIS experts provide scenarios for future military developments.
2019 Global Outlook: The volatile Moscow-Kiev-Brussels triangle
In 2019, the geopolitical interplay between Russia, Ukraine and Europe will depend on their leaders. In Russia, President Vladimir Putin will have to decide whether to continue his assertive foreign policy. In Ukraine, the presidential election could bring the mercurial Yulia Tymoshenko to power – how she will deal with the war in the east remains a mystery. In Europe, the Franco-German alliance is losing traction. Rifts in the EU will deepen, making it impossible to present a united front on the challenges Russia and Ukraine present.
A new military buildup in the Balkans
Throughout the world, military spending is reaching new heights, as countries beef up their defense forces. The trend is evident in the Balkans, where both Russia and NATO plan to build new bases and countries in the region reverse their postwar demilitarization. With Kosovo deciding to create its own army and a dangerous land-swap deal with Serbia on the table, tensions are rising.
2019 Global Outlook: The Fertile Crescent
The single most important development in the Middle East has been the end of Syria’s civil war, which was unequivocally won by the Baath regime. Even the hammer blows of a determined religious opposition could not destroy the post-World War I system that created Syria, Iraq and Jordan as Arab states. But with the announced U.S. withdrawal from Syria and the victory of the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian sponsors, the way could be cleared for an explosive confrontation with Israel.
The U.S. and Canada: chilly relations won’t sever the ties that bind
President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have a contentious relationship. Yet the economic, security and administrative ties that bind the United States and Canada together are far stronger than any hostility between the two countries’ leaders. Though differences in defense policy will exacerbate tensions over the next few years, trade will strengthen their bonds.
Withdrawal from Syria: George Washington’s warning revisited
President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria was neither a bolt from the blue nor a departure from his predecessor’s strategy. Even so, the announcement allowed a new and perhaps more stable configuration to emerge in the Middle East. While the short-term winner appears to be Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the longer-term advantage may be with the United States.
Opinion: India nudges China toward Belt and Road changes
India has long warned of the strategic dangers posed by China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Today, more and more countries are voicing their suspicions about the BRI’s potential effects. The project also faces difficulties due to financial problems within China. Beijing seems to be recasting the BRI as a smaller, more open project. India and many other countries remain wary.
Dire consequences of ending the INF treaty
If the United States walks away from the 1987 treaty banning intermediate- and shorter-range nuclear weapons, as President Donald Trump claims he wants to do, a cornerstone of the existing arms control system will be removed. The chances of it being replaced with a better, multilateral agreement involving China and a handful of other nuclear powers are very slim.
Tajikistan: A Sino-Russian flashpoint?
The drawdown of American troops in Afghanistan and Chinese persecution of the Muslim Uighur minority in Xinjiang could turn Central Asia into a hotbed of jihadist terrorism. One country that is particularly vulnerable to such a resurgence is Tajikistan. It is also the area where Russian and Chinese security interests could most easily come into conflict.
Gaza and the Hamas problem
Cut off by their neighbors, the people of the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip suffer from high unemployment, low investment and only sporadic electricity. With Hamas having proven itself dangerous to Egypt, Israel and the Ramallah-based Palestinian government, it is not difficult to see why the sanctions continue. Qatari aid may give temporary respite, but Gaza’s fate remains sealed by the terrorist organization’s determination to destroy Israel.
Opinion: A road map for peace in the Middle East
Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and Israel are all vying for supremacy in the Middle East through direct confrontation and proxy wars. This may trigger an all-out conflict with dire consequences for the region and for Europe. Reversing the logic of war and replacing it with cooperation is difficult but possible, as all the involved parties stand to gain from it.