Russia in Africa: the ‘covert action’ strategy
While China has received much attention for its diplomatic and economic efforts in Africa, Russia has been quietly seeking a foothold in the Central African Republic. Years of chaos and a violent civil war have set the stage for Russia’s entrance in the country, where it is now plying security expertise and pursuing investments in the mining sector. Russia’s discreet, low-stakes approach may help ensure its success.
Foreign meddling in elections: a form of ‘alternative truth’
Apparently, the president of the United States is not going to be charged with cooperating with the Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. An in-depth investigation has found no proof that any collusion occured. The talk in Europe that the Kremlin is hell-bent on corrupting the electoral process here as well also seems intended to conceal the real problem of the ruling establishments: they have governed poorly and are losing popular support.
The future of Russia’s Special Operations Forces
Russia’s special forces have gained prominence and valuable combat experience in recent years playing crucial roles in Crimea and Syria. Now they are training to engage their NATO counterparts. As a result, Western militaries have been forced to change the way they approach this threat. Though Russian special forces are still playing a game of technological catch-up, they are a tool the Kremlin is increasingly likely to use.
Uzbekistan emerging from isolation
The rise of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to power in Uzbekistan has brought with it economic reform and billions of dollars in new investment. The country desperately needs foreign partners, both to diversify its economy and strengthen its military. China and Russia, respectively, have stepped in to play these roles. At the same time, the U.S. is withdrawing from the region. As the influence of Beijing and Moscow grows, President Mirziyoyev’s options will shrink.
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.
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: Populism as Reformation
Though it is popular to contrast “populism” with “democracy,” the two are more alike than different. Like the Reformation 500 years ago, today’s populist movements aim to wrest power from the elites and give it back to the people. Instead of petering out, variations on the democratic populist system are likely to multiply, and traditional democratic models may undergo a radical renewal.
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.