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.
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.
China’s threat to Russia’s Far East: Real or perceived?
The vulnerability of Russia’s Far Eastern and Siberian regions to Chinese expansion has become a truism. Yet most Russians seem to favor closer ties with China, and bilateral relations may be at their best in history, without a trace of military or political tension. There are also few signs of Chinese economic penetration, at least on a level that exceeds Japan’s or South Korea’s. Migration pressure from China into the underpopulated Russian north may be the hollowest of these popular myths.
Iraq at a crucial moment (Part 2)
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s to-do list reads like Mission Impossible. Staff his cabinet with honest officials; rebuild war-torn Sunni areas in the north; placate an angry Shia south that is desperately short of water and power; deal with Kurdish demands; reintegrate Iranian-backed militias into civilian life; balance carefully between Iran and the U.S. He must do all this without a secure parliamentary majority or even a solid support base. Mr. Abdul Mahdi’s position as an honest broker gives him great strength, but if he fails, Iraq could become Libya.
Opinion: In the U.S., the 2020 presidential race is on
For U.S. President Donald Trump, Republican defeat in the 2018 midterm elections at least turned the GOP into his party. With economic successes to his credit and growing constraints on his power imposed by a Democratic Congress, the question is whether he will tone down the polarizing style that has worked so well for him. On the domestic front, this seems unlikely, but international policy may provide an arena where Trumpism’s theatrical conflicts could yield constructive solutions.
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.
GIS Dossier: Europe as a global player – the basics
As tensions increase within the transatlantic alliance, Europe has begun to reconsider its own place in the world. With the U.S. continuing a long-term strategic retrenchment, its allies across the Atlantic may need to grow beyond their role as Washington’s junior partners. From the migrant crisis to the Iran nuclear deal, from trade wars to dealing with Vladimir Putin, Europe is being forced to declare itself. Will it act like a great power or an imposter?
Congress balks at needed revamp of infrastructure system
President Donald Trump’s $1.5 trillion plan to rebuild U.S. infrastructure is grand in ambition, bold on reform and going nowhere at present. But federal data do not support the notion that the U.S. is suffering an infrastructure crisis. Instead, analysts say, the problem is excessive regulatory barriers and a flawed funding system that favors “shiny objects” instead of mundane but essential maintenance.
ASEAN: A nexus of conflict and prosperity
For the first time since the Vietnam War, Southeast Asia has become a cockpit for great-power rivalries. China’s inexorable rise has split the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which had become a regional broker for peace and prosperity. The ASEAN countries have the demographics and infrastructure to leapfrog into the ranks of the advanced economies, but everything depends on whether China’s growing dominance can be accommodated peacefully.
GIS Dossier: The Western Balkans
Of all Europe’s trouble spots, the Western Balkans have a solid claim to being the most troublesome. One hundred years after the end of World War I, the region is finally stable and – save for a violent flare-up or two – peaceful. But plenty of tensions remain, corruption runs rampant and the rule of law is unevenly applied. With all these potential stumbling blocks, the region’s road toward prosperity remains bumpy. This Dossier reviews GIS reports on this region, so critical to Europe’s lasting peace.