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/

27
Oct

 

Evans Wadongo_21102014 (41)

Written By Matthew Pelton, IE Master in International Relations Student, 2014/2015 Intake

 

Kenyan entrepreneur Evans Wadongo, the Founder and Executive Director of Sustainable Development for All (SDFA), conducted a seminar with the MIR class on Tuesday 21 October.  Mr. Wadongo discussed his entrepreneurial journey from rural Kenya to the world stage, as an accomplished social entrepreneur recognized as a CNN Hero and Schwab Foundational Social Entrepreneur of the Year for the widespread impact of his solar lantern enterprise.  Building off the MIR’s Base of the Pyramid workshop, the session addressed the power of innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa and discussed the changing relations within Africa and between Africa and the world.  The session concluded with interactive Q&A on recent course topics, and MIR student Matt Pelton provided context based on his previous work experiences at the African Leadership Network.

Innovation and Opportunities

As economic growth continues, and the “Africa Rising” story garners attention, there are questions whether social development is following closely behind.  The UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI) might provide a different perspective.  The continent’s largest economy, Nigeria, ranks very low (#152 out of 187) based on the most recent HDI data.  As such, there still is a need for African entrepreneurs to create social impact through their businesses.  With foreign aid and government initiatives further removed from the needs and opportunities in local communities, Mr. Wadongo emphasized the significant opportunity to build innovative, local solutions from the bottom up. Using savings from his student loan, Mr. Wadongo developed a simple solution to a widespread problem.  He grew up in rural Kenya and developed eye sight problems at a young age due to kerosene oil.  His solar lanterns are made from recycled materials and provide a sustainable and healthier alternative to more expensive kerosene lanterns.  SDFA’s innovative business model provides solar lanterns on loan to women, who then use their kerosene savings to start businesses that support their households.  SDFA provides capacity-building support to the women entrepreneurs and to the unemployed youth that are trained to build the low-cost lanterns. Africa has become a growing hub for technology entrepreneurs in recent years (World Bank blog), but innovation can be found in sectors beyond technology and energy, such as financial services, agriculture, and education.  Examples provided in the seminar included a nano-lending mobile platform based in Kenya, an organic fertilizer made from bat droppings found in Madagascar caves, and an innovative chain of low-cost African universities, among others.  The continent’s population is rapidly growing, and UNICEF believes the youth population (under 18 years) will grow to nearly 1 billion by 2050.  Entrepreneurship and related education initiatives will play a key role in ensuring that unemployment is minimized through sufficient job creation.  With proper education and job opportunities, youth will be less likely to join rebel groups and extremist terrorism organizations, which recently has become a threat to local and international security.  

Read more…

22
Oct

president sisi

 

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi finished his first 100 days in office with diplomatic flourish this September. He addressed the U.N. General Assembly in New York and met with President Barack Obama for the first time in what could be a turning point in the frosty relationship between the United States and Egypt. Much hinges, however, on the next few months and how Egypt addresses the multiple challenges it faces at home and in the region.

Sisi returned home with the same daunting list of challenges he faced before the trip: a need to spark economic growth to create jobs, a host of domestic and foreign security threats, and the country’s struggle over power in the midst of an incomplete political transition process. Perhaps Sisi’s biggest accomplishment since taking office has been his ability to keep Egypt’s myriad challenges from becoming full-blown crises. But he did so without offering a longer-term, sustainable plan for the country’s economic and political future.

The economic, security, and political challenges are intertwined, and how Sisi navigates them will be critical to both his political legitimacy at home, as well as to the amount of support he can build and maintain from abroad, including from the United States. The United States appears poised to open a new chapter in bilateral relations, but progress greatly depends on whether Egypt makes choices that position it to become a reliable partner, one that is capable of addressing its challenges and that builds a stable foundation for the country’s future. Read more…

 

By Brian KatulisMokhtar Awad, and Hardin Lang | October 20, 2014

Published in http://www.americanprogress.org/

20
Oct

Arancha GonzalezArancha Gonzalez (7)

Arancha González, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC), addressed the MIR class on Thursday 16 October. Ms. González gave an insightful lecture on “Global Governance, International Trade Trends and Geopolitics” that was followed by Q&A from the audience and a lively discussion with the participation of Mr. Guillermo de la Dehesa, Chairman of the International Advisory Board of IE Business School.

Read more…

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