Our blog

Political Risk in North Africa

Transnational Crime in North Africa

Over the past decade, the expanding threats from global jihadism and the sudden escalation of irregular migration in the Mediterranean have galvanized international attention and prompted prioritised support to the security infrastructure and border capacity of the states in the Maghreb. These actions, in response to the dominant threats of terrorists and migrants, have broadly been assumed to also cover the requirements of the region in terms of responding to the subsidiary, yet not inconsiderable, concern of organized crime.

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Governing ungoverned spaces: The case of Libya

The collapse of Libya into failed statehood following its 2011 revolution has been a widely lamented and yet largely misunderstood and understudied phenomenon. The general narrative suggests that this failure followed the 2014 civil-war, which ruptured the state, generated parallel administrations, and further fractured Libya’s militia-centric security provisions. The fact that the migration crisis erupted, and the city of Sirte fell to Daesh in 2015 is considered testament to this narrative which has underscored most international attempts to stabilise Libya through reconciling political factions.

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The Brewing Storm: Climate Security Risks in a Fast-Warming North Africa

North Africa is by most measures already an exceedingly hostile environment. It has relatively little arable land, next to no rainfall beyond the narrow coastal strip, and extreme temperature highs, which regularly top 45°C. Such is the region’s stark aridity that one can travel from the Nile river to the Atlantic Ocean, some 4000km (2500 miles), without stumbling on a single surface water source. These natural challenges have long posed considerable governance difficulties for regional states, who have  struggled to bring development or prosperity to their poor, unsettled desert interiors. That failure has contributed to much of the Sahara’s emergence as a lawless node of discontent and instability.

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Energy in North Africa: Challenges and Opportunities

North Africa represents one of the most important oil and gas producing regions in the world, and has the potential to be a renewable energy powerhouse as well. Its geographic situation makes it a crossroads between Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and an important transit corridor for global energy markets. Today, North African countries face a range of pressing socio-economic challenges, including solving the problems of poverty and high levels of structural unemployment, in the context of fast demographic growth. Energy is an essential commodity enabling socio-economic development. The current energy situation in the countries is characterized by a rapid increase of energy demand, low energy efficiency and low domestic energy prices due to extensive and universal consumption subsidies.

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Russia’s growing influence in North Africa

While Moscow’s Syria intervention has captured much of the world’s attention, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s vision in the region always spanned beyond Syria alone. Since coming to power, Putin prioritized restoration of Russia’s image as a great power. This goal...

read more

Troubled waters ahead: The restless Maghreb

2019 is a big year for politics in the Maghreb. In April, Algeria is due to vote on whether to return President Bouteflika for a fifth mandate with few doubting the results, but on Friday 22 February, large protests broke out in cities all across Algeria in opposition...

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Russia 2030

Russia’s Foreign Policy – Coping with Overextension and Uncertainty

Nothing in its recent behaviour suggests reasons to be optimistic that Russia’s foreign policy will become more accommodating, less defensive or less aggressive in the next decade or so. Nothing suggests either that any single actor, whether a state or organisation, is in a position to be regarded and heard by the Kremlin as a critical friend and so to sway Russia’s foreign policy.

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Russia’s economy until 2030: Falling behind

Russia’s economy is going through a period of long-term stagnation. GDP growth is expected to average close to 1.5 percent over the next number of years, which is low considering Russia’s level of economic development (International Monetary Fund, World Bank). Year by...

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The future of Russia-China relations

Russia’s policy towards China has been one of adaptation and accommodation. Despite increasing asymmetry in power between the two states, Moscow and Beijing have reinforced cooperation and managed to overcome a number of challenges. At the same time, Russia and China have not transformed their relationship into a fully-fledged alliance.

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The Future of the Arctic is Russian. Or is It?

One look at the map of the Arctic allows us to understand why the region is strategically important to Russia. In control of nearly half of the latitudinal circle, vast natural resources and militarily critical parts of the region, Moscow has both high stakes and a unique position to influence the regional developments.

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The uncertain future of Russia’s domestic politics

Something seems to be happening in Russian society. Despite the small size of protests compared to the whole of the population, their societal and political resonance has become stronger than before. Citizens appear to be more determined to protest. And it seems that only Putinʼs interventions can calm down those regularly erupting grievances.

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Arctic Futures

The Arctic: Stable Governance Amid Melting Ice

Governance of the Arctic region is robust, orderly and sound. There are multiple forums for cooperation. These forums have survived and thrived through conflict and tension. There is no indication that any state might withdraw from any of these forums, or that the future of any institution is in question.

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The Arctic: rising temperatures, rising tensions?

According to recent assessments, the Arctic Ocean may be largely ice-free during summers by the late 2030s, if not sooner. The dramatic changes currently taking place in the northern part of the globe may affect interstate relationships and regional security dynamics in a number of ways.

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Petroleum Resources of the Arctic Ocean: A Broken Promise?

Over ten years ago, the US Geological Survey estimated that over 22% of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas resources are located in the Arctic, most of it offshore. Since then, there has been a string of reports about the ensuing ‘race’, ‘fight’, and ‘scramble’ for these resources. But the predicted rush for Arctic resources has not begun.

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The Future of the Arctic is Russian. Or is It?

One look at the map of the Arctic allows us to understand why the region is strategically important to Russia. In control of nearly half of the latitudinal circle, vast natural resources and militarily critical parts of the region, Moscow has both high stakes and a unique position to influence the regional developments.

read more

China’s Global Role

Beijing’s Perspective on the EU’s new China policy

In the past few months, the European Union (EU) has pursued a noticeable transition in its China policy, suggesting that Europe is taking an increasingly critical stance on China. In March 2019, a ten-point plan published by the European Commission explicitly described China as “an economic competitor in pursuit of technological leadership and a systemic rival promoting alternative models of governance”. Calling China a “strategic competitor” reflects the EU’s growing concerns of rising competition with China. Moreover, it institutionalizes the reoccurring criticism over the lack of reciprocity of market access for European companies in China. The EU has also raised security concerns over foreign direct investment (FDI) from Chinese state-owned enterprises and technology companies.

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The future of Russia-China relations

Russia’s policy towards China has been one of adaptation and accommodation. Despite increasing asymmetry in power between the two states, Moscow and Beijing have reinforced cooperation and managed to overcome a number of challenges. At the same time, Russia and China have not transformed their relationship into a fully-fledged alliance.

read more

China’s Trojan Herd

Through its “Made in China 2025” industry strategy, China is making great strides to become the global leader in high-tech industries and manufacturing. The initiative was launched in 2015 as part of a government funded effort for Beijing to achieve its goal of surpassing the likes of the US and Germany to dominate global tech and automation by 2049

read more

Community

2018 In Review: A Letter from Our Editorial Team

The debates around the Atlantic Community in 2018 showed us that something is changing in transatlantic relations.  This becomes obvious when reflecting on the thoughts of our contributors on how the developments in transatlantic relations have impacted their own countries and areas of expertise. From Washington to Berlin, from London to Tokyo, our contributors have given us their analyses, thoughts, fears, and hopes for the state of transatlantic relations this past year and prepare us for what lies ahead in 2019.

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Why Franco-German Defence Cooperation Is Difficult, But Without Alternative

Since the 1963 Elysee Treaty and the ensuing reconciliation process between hereditary enemies – Europe’s 20th century geopolitical miracle  – France and Germany have been the driving force in European integration. Since the inception of this process, defence has been on the agenda. On paper, everything is always great in Franco-German relations, both bilaterally and in a larger European context. But when it comes to defence, Franco-German relations prove to be rather complicated.

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Brexit and Defence Negotiations

In the enthusiasm about the EU’s numerous new defence initiatives in Germany, a discussion of the consequences of Britain’s withdrawal from the union is often curiously absent. Close alignment between post-Brexit Britain and the EU27 in the...

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Trumping Transatlantic Relations

President Trump’s last international trip to the G7 Summit resulted in the worst meeting of its kind since its inception, given his outburst at America’s usual allies, and was compounded  by the contrast a day later with his cordial meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jung Un in Singapore. Many Transatlanticists were prepared for the worst as Trump made his way to NATO and the UK before seeing Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. The good news, is that the NATO summit went better than expected, though many commentators still called it the worst in history. The bad news, however, is that despite lowered expectations, damage was still done to transatlantic relations. The question now is: how severe and long-lasting will this damage be?

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Zero-Sum Games, Media, Megalomania & Cold Calculation

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin both celebrate the summit in Helsinki as a success, showing once again their mastery of public relations. Cold negotiating Putin and the intuitive American president seem to have dealt with several open conflicts in a constructive manner. Yet, their logic of geopolitics and zero-sum games doesn’t allow for much long-term détente – lest for their European partners.

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Beyond the NATO Summit: Why There Is Long-Term Transatlantic Trouble Ahead

NATO summits are usually highly organized events. Heads of State and Government adopt previously negotiated decisions and define work plans up to the next summit. Above all, they aim to demonstrate unity and solidarity so that friend and foe alike believe that the NATO allies will defend each other in the event of a crisis. But this summit threatens to disrupt this process, because no one knows how US President Trump will behave. Will we see a revival of a brash Mr. Trump G7 Summit when the US President retrospectively ‘unsigned’ the communiqué via tweet? Or will he act as a patriarch, whose stubborn grumblings are ultimately met with cooperation, and keep the family bound together?

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European Security and Brexit

EU Strategic Partnerships: A model for future EU-UK relations?

Assuming the UK and EU stick to their respective red lines on sovereignty and autonomy, a future security partnership is likely to be modeled technically on ones the EU already has. In this case, even an EU-UK security partnership unprecedented in ambition will fall well short of the cooperation reserved for EU members—at a time when that cooperation is becoming more consequential in the global arena.

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Why Brexit is about security

Security does and will continue to play a role in the Brexit negotiations. The main risk is that an acrimonious divorce could sour discussions to develop a strong and comprehensive EU-UK security partnership. It is in both the British and the European interest that this does not occur.

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Strategic autonomy and European security after Brexit

Although EU strategic autonomy and European strategic autonomy are different issues, one is likely the condition for the other, and vice versa. From outside the European Union, the United Kingdom would have a strong case to make that European strategic autonomy is a prerequisite of European security, and indeed a necessary precondition of EU strategic autonomy.

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Britain and European Defence: New opportunities after Brexit?

Britain is leaving the EU just as the EU is getting serious about defence cooperation; indeed, the fact that it’s getting serious about defence cooperation is linked to the departure of Britain, which consistently opposed such steps. With the UK out of the picture, the remaining EU members can integrate their defence at liberty. That leaves the UK the sole outsider, a loser as European allies form the closer union that’s necessary in order to maximise the region’s collective might.

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Europe’s defence industry after Brexit: What role for Britain?

. While London certainly has to end the uncertainty over its exit and avoid a no-deal outcome, from the EU side, Brussels should resist impatience, move beyond bureaucratic technicalities and think of Brexit and its impact on European defence and security as a strategic issue. Ultimately, ensuring continuous cooperation is in the interest of both sides.

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Security

The INF Treaty is Dead. Long Live the Arms Race.

On August 2, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the United States and Russia officially collapsed, freeing the world’s two largest nuclear hoarders to develop weapons once banned by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. Less than three weeks later, with the corpse of the Treaty still cooling, the United States launched a new ground-based cruise missile off the coast of Los Angeles with a range previously prohibited by the defunct agreement.

read more

Transnational Crime in North Africa

Over the past decade, the expanding threats from global jihadism and the sudden escalation of irregular migration in the Mediterranean have galvanized international attention and prompted prioritised support to the security infrastructure and border capacity of the states in the Maghreb. These actions, in response to the dominant threats of terrorists and migrants, have broadly been assumed to also cover the requirements of the region in terms of responding to the subsidiary, yet not inconsiderable, concern of organized crime.

read more

Russia’s growing influence in North Africa

While Moscow’s Syria intervention has captured much of the world’s attention, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s vision in the region always spanned beyond Syria alone. Since coming to power, Putin prioritized restoration of Russia’s image as a great power. This goal...

read more

Brexit in the Age of Hybrid Threats

2019 will be remembered as the year of Brexit: bar an extension or cancellation, the UK will cease to be a member of the European Union. Even in the benign geopolitical climate, such an event would represent a significant setback to Europe as a project of peace,...

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Economy

Russia’s economy until 2030: Falling behind

Russia’s economy is going through a period of long-term stagnation. GDP growth is expected to average close to 1.5 percent over the next number of years, which is low considering Russia’s level of economic development (International Monetary Fund, World Bank). Year by...

read more

Europe’s defence industry after Brexit: What role for Britain?

. While London certainly has to end the uncertainty over its exit and avoid a no-deal outcome, from the EU side, Brussels should resist impatience, move beyond bureaucratic technicalities and think of Brexit and its impact on European defence and security as a strategic issue. Ultimately, ensuring continuous cooperation is in the interest of both sides.

read more

Troubled waters ahead: The restless Maghreb

2019 is a big year for politics in the Maghreb. In April, Algeria is due to vote on whether to return President Bouteflika for a fifth mandate with few doubting the results, but on Friday 22 February, large protests broke out in cities all across Algeria in opposition...

read more

China’s Trojan Herd

Through its “Made in China 2025” industry strategy, China is making great strides to become the global leader in high-tech industries and manufacturing. The initiative was launched in 2015 as part of a government funded effort for Beijing to achieve its goal of surpassing the likes of the US and Germany to dominate global tech and automation by 2049

read more

Urgent Need for Renegotiation

The WTO has succeeded to globally promote free trade and to economically integrate developing countries over the last 25 years. As a consequence, the WTO was probably the most successful approach in fighting global poverty in history. With the US as guarantor for a multilateral ruled-based trade order, the triumph of free trade and market economy seemed irreversible until recently. However, the US has apparently become sick of its role as ‘benevolent dictator’—not only in free trade but also in security aspects—and thus, it increasingly challenges what it has proclaimed for decades. In the light of this remarkable turnaround in US foreign policy, we must rethink the global order.

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The French approach to ‘America First’: Disagreement, but with Dialogue

Ours is a time when even the most Atlanticist countries talk about Europe’s need for strategic autonomy, and when some of its leaders are realizing that “the times when we could fully rely on others are to some extent over,” to use Angela Merkel’s words. So readers may have been surprised when they saw France’s president praise his relationship with his US counterpart, especially with this US president, who was instrumental at convincing Merkel that “we have to fight for our own future ourselves.”

But if Emmanuel Macron is taking great care of his personal relationship with Donald Trump, it does not mean that he dismisses France’s traditional pursuit of independence. Since his election, Macron has been rather consistent with his campaign references to De Gaulle. Beyond the displays of “bromance,” Macron had several occasions in Washington to make his differences clear, and he seized them.

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Does India benefit from a closer Transatlantic Alliance?

India’s history with the transatlantic alliance has, for much of its history, been problematic. On one hand, for Indian society at large, the values and lifestyle of the US-Europe compact were aspirational, both in terms of looking up to the West, from an academic standpoint, as an anthropological end goal, as well as the West being a prime destination for economic migration. Politically however, there was a sharp contrast. The rapid industrialisation of agrarian states that socialism seemed to achieve, was seen as desirable in what was and remains a desperately poor country. Being the only democracy that refused to tow a moral line with regards to personal freedoms put India at odds with the US-Europe grouping.

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Global Perspectives

Beijing’s Perspective on the EU’s new China policy

In the past few months, the European Union (EU) has pursued a noticeable transition in its China policy, suggesting that Europe is taking an increasingly critical stance on China. In March 2019, a ten-point plan published by the European Commission explicitly described China as “an economic competitor in pursuit of technological leadership and a systemic rival promoting alternative models of governance”. Calling China a “strategic competitor” reflects the EU’s growing concerns of rising competition with China. Moreover, it institutionalizes the reoccurring criticism over the lack of reciprocity of market access for European companies in China. The EU has also raised security concerns over foreign direct investment (FDI) from Chinese state-owned enterprises and technology companies.

read more

The future of Russia-China relations

Russia’s policy towards China has been one of adaptation and accommodation. Despite increasing asymmetry in power between the two states, Moscow and Beijing have reinforced cooperation and managed to overcome a number of challenges. At the same time, Russia and China have not transformed their relationship into a fully-fledged alliance.

read more

China’s Trojan Herd

Through its “Made in China 2025” industry strategy, China is making great strides to become the global leader in high-tech industries and manufacturing. The initiative was launched in 2015 as part of a government funded effort for Beijing to achieve its goal of surpassing the likes of the US and Germany to dominate global tech and automation by 2049

read more

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