Turkmenistan comes into focus
Long neglected by all but devoted regional specialists, Turkmenistan has recently begun to matter in international politics. The reason is a sharp drop in energy prices, which has turned the gas-rich country into an economic basket case, and the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan. Both developments have Russian and Chinese policymakers concerned about their vital interests in Central Asia.
Ecuador picks up the pieces
Ecuador is a small country that embodies many of Latin America’s problems in miniature. Overdependence on commodity exports and Chinese loans, unsustainable public finances, poverty, corruption, crime, refugees and tensions with the U.S. are just a few items on the list. Most of all, its minority government must clean up after former President Rafael Correa’s failed “Citizens’ Revolution,” trying to build sound institutions on a legacy of personalistic governance.
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.
Tanzania tries bulldozing its way to growth
Tanzanian President John Magufuli seems to have based his rule on an unusual combination of traits: a pugnacious, personalized style of power politics; a statist approach to the economy; and a strong efficiency fetish. While this formula has brought some early successes, it may not be sustainable for long.
GIS Dossier: Europe as a global player: The Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa
The most important part of Europe’s security perimeter in the 21st century may be its southern rim. The migration crisis of 2015 was only a foretaste of the demographic, economic and political pressures that are building up in the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa. Yet the approaches tried by European powers in this vital and growing region have generally failed. They need to get it right as new rival enters the neighborhood – China.
Regional integration at the Three Seas summit
With the third summit of the Three Seas Initiative, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe are trying to come together on issues like energy and infrastructure. The effort comes after several failed attempts at regional integration in the 20th century, and this one remains mostly on paper. If the European Union and outside investors will buy into the idea, several proposed projects could help lift all boats.
Togo faces two years of turmoil
Togo is another instance of “third termism” in sub-Saharan Africa, as a long-time ruler determined to stay in power collides with an increasingly angry populace. President Faure Gnassingbe appears to be losing his grip ahead of the 2020 presidential elections, while his well-organized opponents may be able to count on outside intervention from ECOWAS, West Africa’s regional bloc.
GIS Dossier: Trumponomics
Eighteen months into his presidency, Donald Trump has already implemented several major economic initiatives, including big tax cuts and rewriting American trade policy. Neither the disaster foreseen by his critics nor the miracle envisioned by his supporters has materialized. Instead, there has been a mix of positives and negatives for the U.S. economy, just as GIS experts had predicted since the election. This GIS Dossier reviews the unexpected consequences of “Trumponomics” and the impact it is likely to have in the future.
Cuba in transition
Cuba will get a new leader in April, after President Raul Castro hands over the presidency to First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel. As the country tentatively introduces decentralizing reforms and embraces globalization, the new leadership will have to answer the question of how much freedom it can allow while retaining a tight political and economic grip over the country.