Archive for the ‘Regions’ Category

6
Feb

MANILA — President Benigno S. Aquino III called on Tuesday for nations around the world to do more to support the Philippines in resisting China’s assertive claims to the seas near his country, drawing a comparison to the West’s failure to support Czechoslovakia against Hitler’s demands for Czech land in 1938.

Like Czechoslovakia, the Philippines faces demands to surrender territory piecemeal to a much stronger foreign power and needs more robust foreign support for the rule of international law if it is to resist, President Aquino said in a 90-minute interview in the wood-paneled music room of the presidential palace.

“If we say yes to something we believe is wrong now, what guarantee is there that the wrong will not be further exacerbated down the line?” he said. He later added, “At what point do you say, ‘Enough is enough’? Well, the world has to say it — remember that the Sudetenland was given in an attempt to appease Hitler to prevent World War II.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan caused a stir in Davos, Switzerland, when he noted last month that Britain and Germany went to war in 1914 even though they had close economic ties — much as China and Japan have now.

Japan has been locked in an increasingly tense standoff with China over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, and even South Korea, which has been quieter about Chinese claims, expressed alarm last year when Beijing announced that it had the right to police the skies above a vast area of ocean, including areas claimed by Japan and South Korea.

While China’s efforts to claim rocks, shoals and fishing grounds off the coast of the Philippines in the South China Sea have been less high-profile, the Chinese have moved faster there.

The Philippines already appears to have lost effective control of one of the best-known places of contention, a reef called Scarborough Shoal, after Philippine forces withdrew during a standoff with China in 2012. The Philippine forces left as part of an American-mediated deal in which both sides were to pull back while the dispute was negotiated. Chinese forces remained, however, and gained control. Read more…

by Keith Bradsher

Published in the NYT on 4 Feb http://www.nytimes.com

4
Feb

Arab

On Friday 31 January, the IE School of International Relations and the Toledo International Centre for Peace (CITpax) had the honor of hosting a fascinating panel discussion entitled An Overview of the Political and Social Transformation in the Arab Region.

Three distinguished guest speakers from the region composed the “A Team”, as Ambassador Emilio Cassinello, Director General of CitPax quipped.  The panel included  Marwan Muasher,    Vice President for Studies at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Jordan; Nassif Hitti, Senior Arab League Official, former Head of the Arab League Mission in Paris, and permanent observer at UNESCO; and Dr. Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou, Visiting Professor at the Graduate Institute and Head of Program at the Geneva Center for Security Policy.

Mr. Muasher began the seminar by presenting his latest book The Second Arab Awakening and the Battle for Pluralism. The Second Awakening is a referral to the First Awakening in the Arab region that started as an intellectual movement in the mid-20th century. It later led to the independence of many Arab states, but not to democratic rule in these countries. If the Second Awakening that is taking place today in the Arab world is to be a successful continuation of the First one, it must necessarily lead to the creation of a pluralistic government. Three years after the Arab Spring, achieving pluralistic rule is no easy task. What we see today is the struggle between religious and secular elements that are exclusionist in their desire to control power. Yet Islam as a solution in the Arab world has lost its appeal. The “Arab street”, as Mr. Muasher calls it, does not want more religion (they are quite religious as it is). What they want is a better economy, an improved livelihood. In his words, performance trumps ideology. People will judge whomever is in power not by their religion or values but by how the economy is doing under their mandate. In the end, neither a theological government such as the one seen in Iran or a secular dictatorship such as the Mubarak regime is the solution. Both types oppress the people and strip them of their rights. A pluralistic government should be the end goal.

How long will a successful transition to democracy take in the Arab world? According to Muasher and his co-panelists, perhaps decades. Democracy took centuries to get established in Europe, so how can one expect it to be firmly consolidated in the Arab region in only just 3 years? This is an unrealistic expectation.  Pluralistic rule will be achieved over time through toil and sacrifice.  For this, education is fundamental and this entails teaching the youth critical thinking , not just absolute truths as it is being done today.

What are the threats to a transition to pluralism? All three panelists agree that a big problem in the Arab region is the lack of national unity or national identity. Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya were created as states without taking into account the different nations or minorities that composed them. The result is a lot of sectarian violence within these countries and a struggle for citizenship. Another threat is the rise of extremism. Indeed the road to democracy means that everyone has a voice including extremists that use ideology and demagogy to control power. Linked to this is the threat of transnationalism as we are currently seeing in Syria, where jihadists from other countries come to fight the secular oppressor but only add to the turmoil.

To conclude: is there reason for optimism? Yes. In spite of many problems and obstacles, the road to democracy is being paved by the new generation. This generation will need leaders who are willing to sweat and toil in order to make pluralism a reality. Tunisia is an example of an Arab state that is slowly transitioning to a democracy without the interference of the armed forces or the West. Let us hope this model is followed in the rest of the region.

28
Jan

A New Franco-German Foreign Policy?

Written on January 28, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in Europe, Foreign Policy, Op Ed

Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, may have had some diplomatic successes recently. But the implementation of the EU’s new foreign policy structure can hardly be called a triumph. The main culprits are the big member states, which are too hesitant to use the new service and breathe life into it. When it comes to major issues, France, Germany, and the UK still prefer to act on their own instead of working with their peers and the EU institutions to develop a joint approach.

That’s why a recent initiative by the German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, to work more closely with France on foreign policy is most welcome. It has the potential to raiseEurope’s foreign policy game.

In a joint declaration on January 21, Steinmeier and his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, agreed to consult each other before EU summits, to travel together to “regions of particular interest to both countries and the EU,” and to cooperate on early crisis identification and prevention.

For their first joint trip, Steinmeier and Fabius intend to visit Moldova and Georgia, the two countries of the EU’s Eastern Partnership that are most interested in strengthening ties with the EU. A trip to West Africa is planned as well.

Good intentions are welcome but not enough; the Steinmeier-Fabius initiative needs to be backed up by substantial political will. There are incentives for closer Franco-German cooperation on foreign policy.

France feels overburdened with its military engagements in Africa, and Paris is eager to play a bigger role in the Arab world. That is becoming more urgent in an era in which the United States is trying to retreat from its regional leadership role. To sustain its engagement in sub-Saharan Africa and fill some of the vacuum that a disengaging United States leaves in North Africa and the Middle East, France needs the support of its European partners. Berlin is central for that support, because of Germany’s own resources and because it holds the key to turning French foreign policy ambition into a common European policy.

However, the challenge for France is to overcome its traditional unilateralism in foreign policy making and to Europeanize its approach. That means including European partners and the EU institutions at an early stage of policy planning and developing joint policies instead of going it alone first and pushing for support later. Read more…

Posted by: ULRICH SPECK FRIDAY, JANUARY 24, 2014 in http://www.carnegieeurope.eu

27
Jan

Rusia ha derrotado a la UE en Ucrania. Mientras nos lamemos las heridas, recordemos. Empecemos con un poco de historia. Volvamos a la Crónica General del Rus (a.D. 860). “A estos vikingos se les conocía como rusos, lo mismo que a otros vikingos se les llama suecos, normandos, anglos o godos (…) Rurik llegó a ser el Señor de todos ellos (…) Dos de los hombres de Rurik, Askold y Rir, navegaron Dniéper abajo y, en el curso de su viaje, vieron una pequeña ciudad sobre una colina (…) Askold y Rir se asentaron en esta ciudad y, después de reunir a muchos vikingos, reinaron sobre el país de los polacos (Polianis). Rurik reinó en Nóvgorod”.

Así pues, vemos que Kiev y Nóvgorod son los dos puntos políticos originales de Rusia. Nóvgorod subsistió como república propia, sobre el modelo hanseático, hasta los días de Iván el Terrible. Kiev cayó antes. Ante la imposibilidad de defender la ciudad de las invasiones mongolas (a.D. 1.280), los rusos abandonaron la urbe y se protegieron de la Horda Dorada parapetándose tras los bosques de Moscú. Ucrania se recuperó para Rusia a finales del s. XVIII con Catalina la Grande. Desde entonces, y hasta la caída de la URSS, formará parte de la polis rusas.

Estrategia. Dejando aparte los Caballeros Teutónicos, el corredor ucraniano ha sido el lugar privilegiado de todas las invasiones que Rusia ha conocido. Lo que se le opuso a Rusia en este frente fueron enemigos epónimos, todos ellos parte nuclear del relato nacional. Los polacos de Tarás Bulba; los jesuitas italianos de Boris Godunov; los suecos que retrató Von Heidenstam, y a los que mandaba un rey temerario como Carlos XII; los turcos a los que derrotó Potemkin mientras leía, moribundo, las cartas de amor de Catalina la Grande; los revolucionarios franceses de Guerra y Paz de Tolstói y la Obertura 1.812 de Tchaikovsky; y, finalmente, los nazis de Vasili Grossman o los nacionalistas ucranianos de la “Guardia Blanca” de Bulgakov. Recomiendo al lector el testimonio de Chaves Nogales para la I Guerra Mundial (El maestro Juan Martínez que estaba allí) y, para la II Guerra Mundial, a Jonathan Littell (Las benévolas). Leer mas…

 

Escrito por el Ambajador José A. Zorrilla el 25 de enero en El Confidencial http://blogs.elconfidencial.com/espana/

24
Jan

An Overview of the Political and Social Transformation in the Arab Region

Madrid, Friday 31 January 2014

12:00-14:30 at IE School of International Relations

c/Serrano 105

IE School of International Relations and the Toledo International Centre for Peace (CITpax) are pleased to invite you to the discussion An overview of the Political and Social Transformation in the Arab Region, Friday, 31 January 2014, between 12:00 and 14:30 at IE School of International Relations (c/Serrano, 105). This discussion will include the participation of Marwan Muasher, Dr. Amr Hamzawy, Dr. Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou and Nassif Hitti. It will take advantage of the recent publication of Marwan Muasher´s new book, The Second Arab Awakening and the Battle for Pluralism, as well as the expertise and knowledge of the other participants, to launch a dialogue on the future of the Arab world and its political and social transformation.

The planned programme is:

12:00 – 12:10 Welcome Remarks: Ambassador Emilio Cassinello, Director General, CITpax and Dr. Arantza de Areilza, Dean, IE School of International Relations

12:10 – 12:40 Session I: Presentation by Mr. Marwan Muasher based on his book “The Second Arab Awakening and the Battle for Pluralism”

12:40 – 13:00 Session II: Dr. Amr Hamzawy on recent developments in Egypt

13:00 – 13:30 Session III: Panel discussion: Mr. Marwan Muasher, Dr. Amr Hamzawy, Mr. Nassif Hitti and Dr. Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou

13:30 – 14:30 Session IV: Conclusions and questions

Speakers:

-       Dr. Amr Hamzawy, President of the Egypt Freedom Party and Professor of political science at the American University in Cairo

-       Mr. Nassif Hitti, Senior Arab League Official; former Head of the Arab League Mission in Paris; and permanent observer at UNESCO

-       Mr. Marwan Muasher, Vice President for Studies at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Jordan

-       Dr. Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou, Visiting Professor at the Graduate Institute and Head of Program at the Geneva Center for Security Policy

 

Please kindly confirm attendance at International.Relations@ie.edu

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