Venezuela: How not to run an oil sector
Venezuela sits on the world’s largest oil reserves but it is not even one of the top 10 global oil producers – and output is falling sharply. Socialist, resource-nationalist policies implemented by former President Hugo Chavez – and continued by President Nicolas Maduro today – are behind the country’s poor performance. With an utter economic dependence on oil, the country has become destitute. Only a drastic change in policy can reverse Venezuela’s course.
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.
Iraq at a crucial moment (Part 1)
Iraq’s new prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, was reportedly hand-picked at meeting in Beirut by the leaders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps and Hezbollah. Yet the man they chose is far from a radical. Close examination of Mr. Abdul Mahdi’s career shows him to be an experienced, honest and gutsy politician, friendly to the U.S. and hardly in Tehran’s pocket. The task he faces is gargantuan, but Mr. Abdul Mahdi has hidden strengths.
U.S.-India ties are still strengthening
India imports oil from Iran and buys arms from Russia, while trying to mend fences with Beijing. All this seems anathema to American policy, and now President Donald Trump has turned down an invitation to visit India in January. But reports that the U.S.-India relationship is on the rocks are premature.
Saudi Arabia’s key role in the Middle East
Journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder has upset the Middle East’s geopolitical balance in two dimensions: the three-sided rivalry between Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and the conflict between the Muslim Brotherhood and stable monarchies in the region. For the Saudis, the crisis poses an unexpected opportunity to improve governance. For the West, it presents a choice between triggering chaos and a possible radical takeover, or helping the kingdom make a difficult transition.
Opinion: The ‘military option’ in Venezuela is an illusion
The Chinese government is reportedly considering helping Venezuela’s government meet its most pressing domestic needs and start rebuilding the nation’s hydrocarbons industry. The United States, meanwhile, is hinting that it could use force to remove the increasingly brutal regime. Collective pressure on Caracas from the Latin American community, however, remains the only realistic way of resolving the crisis.
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 Middle East and North Africa
Europe’s influence as a great power is nowhere more apparent than in the attraction it exerts on the poorer countries to its south – in the Middle East and Northern Africa. This is the region where European Union member states, often without U.S. support, have deployed their full foreign-policy arsenal, from diplomacy and military intervention to financial aid and investment, with mixed success. Yet as migration and terror show, problems the EU fails to address “out there” tend to wind up on its doorstep.
OPEC’s next phase
OPEC has regained influence on the back of its cooperation with Russia. Some analysts suggest this partnership could be made more formal, for example by admitting Russia into the group, while others say doing so would make the organization even more unwieldy. Now, as OPEC continues to try to achieve “fair” and stable prices, it faces a new challenge: legislation in the U.S. could allow American officials to sue the organization for price fixing.