Archive for the ‘Regions’ Category

8
Nov

Arab Awakening

 Written by Marine Andraud, MIR Student, 2014/2015 Intake, Co-President of the IR Club

The IR Club started off its 2014/2015 Speaker Series with expert Haizam Amirah (@haizamamirah) looking into the aftermath of the “Arab Awakening”. A topic that is of significant interest to many at IE, so much so, that we had a full house and some. Everyone seemed eager, for one reason or another. Eager to learn, contribute, dispute, clarify, question. With an active audience, Haizam began by setting the stage: why had most Arabs been living under their potential for so long, what factors lead to this unprecedented awakening of the Arab world, and why now?

To answer these questions, he first highlighted three overarching societal deficits: freedoms, women empowerment (which, he argued, was a result of a patriarchal society propagated by the mothers themselves) and lastly the spread of knowledge through education. However, as we would come to witness in 2010, societies would no longer stand for these injustices. What Haizam, and many, identify as factor X: a young street vendor setting himself on fire in the middle of a market place in a small town of Tunisia, would soon come to ignite a fire that would consume an entire region. One that, according to Mr. Amirah, had three specific drivers:

  • Demographics, a young population, ⅔ of which was under 30 and whom felt totally disconnected from their aging authoritarian leaders.
  • Equally as important, the women within that youthful population. They had been marginalized for so many generations prior, and who were now seizing the opportunity to become literate, pursue higher educations, and join the workforce.
  • Thirdly, technology, although this one was contested, which for the first time allowed individuals to become producers of information rather than simple consumers.

Having framed the Arab awakening, Haizam went on to classify what ensued under the three broad outcomes that aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. Read more…

4
Nov

Britain ‘At Point Of No Return’ over EU Membership

Written on November 4, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in EU Expansion, Europe

MERKEL CAMERON

Angela Merkel has given David Cameron an ultimatum over his intransigence on European Union freedom of movement, warning that Britain is fast reaching “the point of no return” when it comes to exiting the union.

Der Spiegel news magazine quoted sources within the German chancellor’s office and German foreign ministry as saying that Merkel made clear she will withdraw her support for Britain’s continued EU membership if Cameron insists on pressing for measures which would undermine the principle of the free movement of labour.

At a recent summit in Brussels, Merkel is said to have made it abundantly clear Germany would not accept any tinkering or redrawing of freedom of movement principles, bluntly telling him: “That’s it.” It should, Der Spiegel noted, “have left the British Prime Minister in no doubt”.

The Prime Minister, who is under pressure to tighten Britain’s immigration controls to counter the rise of Ukip, has already torn up one proposal to impose quotas on low-skilled EU migrants in the face of German opposition, according to The Sunday Times.

The newspaper said that Cameron was now looking at plan to stretch the EU rules “to their limits” in order to ban migrants who do not have job and to deport those who are unable to support themselves after three months.

The Prime Minister was said to want to be able to present a “German-compliant” plan to re-negotiate the terms of Britain’s membership ahead of the Conservatives’ promised in/out referendum by the end of 2017.

Downing Street would not comment on the reports, but did not deny that they had taken place.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “The Prime Minister will do what is right for Britain, as he has repeatedly made clear.”

Cameron is under pressure on both sides of the channel, heighted by the imminent Rochester by-election likely to be won by Ukip defector Mark Reckless. But he also faces a haranguing from some colleagues. Arch pro-European former cabinet minister Ken Clarke who dismissed Ukip as an “extreme right-wing protest party” and said that free movement of labour was “absolutely essential” to the working of the single market.

“If you’re going to have a sensible single market, if we want to compete with the Americans and the Chinese and so on and modern world, we need the free movement of labour,” he told BBC1′s Sunday Politics.

“All our companies, multinational companies, will go spare if you start inferring with that.”

Published on 3 November  in http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/11/03/merkel-cameron-eu_n_6091982.html?1414999633&utm_hp_ref=uk

31
Oct

IR Guest Speaker_Tom Burns

On Oct. 30th, the IE School of International Relations welcomed Tom Burns, Journalist & Essayist, Managing Partner, Eurocofin for an engaging discussion on different aspects of nationalism. Mr. Burns began his lecture by identifying several key figures in the history of nationalism. He first mentioned Johann Gottfried von Herder, a German philosopher, theologian, poet, and literary critic who emphasized the importance of the German language. Herder rejected the influence of French, so prevalent in cultural circles at the time. He wanted the German people to be proud of their language and their heritage.

Mr. Burns then showcased Sir Walter Scott, a pillar of the Scottish establishment in the 18th century. In addition to being a prolific writer, Sir Walter Scott celebrated the folklore and ballads of Scotland. He made being Scottish acceptable, respectable. A little bit later in the 19th century and early in the 20th, Joan Maragall, a Catalan poet and journalist also took pride in the Catalan culture, and language. This was not necessarily a political movement but was more focused on celebrating the Catalan culture, in line with Herder’s canon earlier. These thinkers and poets sowed the seeds of nationalism in the 18th and early 19th century. Mr. Burns last identified Gavrilo Princep, the Bosnian Serb nationalist who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Sophie. To this day, Gavrilo Princep is considered a hero in Serbia. His nationalism was political as opposed to cultural in the above examples cited by Mr. Burns.

Today the resurgence in nationalism in Europe, in Spain and Scotland, is largely due to the recent in economic crisis in 2008. A lot of those clamoring for independence are left leaning blue collar workers who reject big government, globalization, the IMF, austerity measures and the hardship brought on by the crisis. These movements, even if they fail short term, are unlikely to go away any time soon. The MIR students in the audience had many questions for Mr. Burns that he answered with candor and humor. On a more personal note, one student asked Mr. Burns why he had special interest in nationalism. “Because it’s a good story”, was his response. “One of the great stories of our time”. Spoken as a true journalist indeed. 

31
Oct

Japan Moves to Defuse Maritime Dispute with China

Written on October 31, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in Asia, Foreign Policy, Security

Japan de-escalates the Senkaku-Diaoyu dispute

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and China’s President Xi Jinping are set to meet for the first time in their respective tenures at the APEC meeting in Beijing in November. However, the privilege of meeting the Chinese head of state comes with a cost for Shinzo Abe. The Japanese PM has conceded to a significant change of attitude in the dispute about the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.

While Japan previously denied there being any dispute in the first place, now the wording has changed into an acknowledgement of the fact that “China has a case as well.” Since China has refused talks with Japan until the existence of the conflict in the East China Sea was acknowledged, this has prevented the two nations’ heads from meeting.

The proposal to Xi Jinping from Shinzo Abe, of which the admission that the islands are indeed disputed is one part, contains further points. Japan suggests that it, together with China, settle the issue bilaterally over time, and that no statements or other documents detailing this agreement be officially released.

These additional points are, however, secondary to Japan’s huge concessions to Chinese demands on this matter. Indeed, as Abe stated during a press conference at the UN Summit, “Senkaku is an inherent part of the territory of Japan in light of historical facts and based upon international law, and the islands are under the valid control of Japan.” He noted that Chinese government vessels regrettably continue to invade Japanese waters, and that Japan would not make concessions on territorial sovereignty but would avoid a further escalation. It seems fair to say that Japan just did make concessions. Read more…

Published on Oct. 28 by Mikala Sorenson in http://globalriskinsights.com/

30
Oct

Tunisia: A Model for Turkey

Written on October 30, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in Democracy & Human Rights, Middle East

Nidaa Tounes supporters 28 Oct 2014

Tunisia, the North African country that initiated the “Arab Spring” in 2011, continues to be the only democratic success story in the Arab world. Last weekend, Tunisians freely and peacefully voted to change their government for the second time since the overthrow of their longtime dictator, Ben Ali, more than three years ago. (Notably, as political scientists point out, democracy begins to take root only when power is changed twice, not just once, via the ballots.) The count was still ongoing as I wrote these lines, but the apparent winner was not the Islamist En-Nahda Party that had won the previous elections in 2011. It was rather their secular rival: Nidaa Tounes.

Yet what really matters is not who won these elections. It is that Tunisians, as a nation, so far have been able to move forward with democracy, without devolving into civil war, such as in Syria, or military coup, such as in Egypt. Moreover, unlike Turkey, which has been yet unable to draft a much-hailed “civilian Constitution” due to political polarization, Tunisia accepted a fairly liberal national charter last February with a very broad national consensus. The civility of the Tunisian political elite, including the wise and humble leader of En-Nahda, Rashid al-Ghannushi, has been key to this success. Instead of mutual demonization and chest-beating, which is so common in this part of the world, Tunisians have opted for concession and consensus.  Al-Ghannushi showed his moderation once again after last weekend’s elections, by congratulating the victory of his secular opponents. (He did not declare, for example, that Nidaa Tounes was a pawn of a Zionist conspiracy or some similar bilge, which is again so common in this part of the world.)

Back in Turkey, I have been watching this democratic experience in Tunisia with admiration, if not envy. As I wrote last February in an International New York Times piece, titled “Turkey’s Model Nation.” I said: “Turkey sorely lacks the consensus-making skills that Tunisians so clearly possess. Turkish politics is poisoned by bitter fighting between leaders who view compromise as cowardice. Quarreling political figures condemn one another for ‘high treason,’ and often resort to extravagant conspiracy theories to delegitimize opponents. The result is that confrontation is common, and agreement all too rare.”

I still think along these lines. Turkey’s true problem, I believe, is not its competing ideologies and identities. It is the arrogant, aggressive, rude, confrontational and paranoid political culture in which they all swim or sink.” None of this is to deny Tunisia’s obvious problems and Turkey’s obvious assets. Turkey’s economy is incomparably more advanced and its democratic experience is much older and deeper. Turkey is also lucky to lack the troubles caused by the Salafis, the ultra-orthodox and ultra-literalist Sunnis, in Tunisia. It is even perhaps fair to say that the liberal-leaning Islamic ideas of al-Ghannushi are more readily accepted among Turkey’s Islamists then those of Tunisia. However, the same Islamists in Turkey also bitterly lack the civilized political language that their Tunisian counterparts have. That is why I keep saying, “they are too Turkish, not too Islamist.” That is also why I am increasingly convinced that if we need a “model” nation in the Muslim Middle East, it should be not Turkey, but Tunisia.

 

Written by Mustafa Akyol; Published on 29 October in http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/

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