In Greenland the snows usually lie until May; this year I landed at the Cold War era airstrip at Kangerlussuaq in April and the bare hillsides were already visible. Under those slopes sit a wealth of minerals and the coveted rare earths, and many Greenlanders believe this bounty is their ticket to prosperity and independence from Denmark.
This has opened up the possibility of large-scale Chinese involvement in getting hold of those minerals. Beijing’s thirst for such resources is well known, and it has become very interested in what lies beneath the melting icecaps of the Arctic region.
That headline has been so compelling that a top level EU negotiator even told the French AFP news agency that 2000 Chinese workers were on the ground in Greenland. A former top American diplomat, Thomas Pickering, wrote in the New York Times about Chinese ambitions of reaching up into the Arctic
Qatar’s gung-ho foreign policy (discussed in greater depth in ECFR’s latest Gulf Analysis) is so often depicted by big moves and big money. Before the Syrian uprising in 2011, Gulf powers, including Qatar, had sought a rapprochement of sorts with Damascus, hoping to move Syria out of Iran’s regional orbit and closer to itself. Since then, Qatar, more so than its heavyweight neighbour Saudi Arabia, has pursued a policy for Bashar al-Assad’s head at seemingly whatever cost. This has meant that, rather than actually delivering on humanitarian commitments and seeking a de-escalation of violence against Syria's people, Qatar’s insistence to continue arming opposition groups looks increasingly like dangerously amateurish brinksmanship.
Qatar may be vying for an endgame that outstrips the ambitions of any of its Gulf neighbours and allies, but they are not likely to defeat Assad
US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Rome from Moscow, where he convened with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to call for an international conference, possibly by the end of the month, to discuss a political solution for Syria to “end the bloodshed, the killing, and the massacres.” The diplomatic breakthrough aimed to recuperate the Geneva communiqué and to create a transitional government. (The implementation of the agreement, discussed back in June 2012, was blocked, however, because the question of the future of President Bashar al-Assad was left unsolved.)
This is Kerry's second visit to Italy since his appointment as secretary of state. The impression is that he has grasped the value of its historic role as a bridge between East and West, and between North and South. Italy's geographic and cultural proximity to the Mediterranean may now turn into a great diplomatic
There is some symbolic value in the fact that Russia’s deputy Prime Minister Vladislav Surkov resigned one year and one day after the start of President Putin’s third term. It does not matter what exactly lay behind his resignation: his conflicts with the Investigative Committee; contacts with the opposition; or the failure of Medvedev's government to perform in the way the president would have liked it - these are all technicalities. In a way, Surkov simply had to leave, because his era – the era of “managed democracy”, when the powers could manipulate the elections with the consent of the electorate – ended in late 2011. Putin is still in office, but the way his regime operates has changed, and Surkov has no place in the new order of things.
Surkov had an amazing career that created and exposed many paradoxes in Russian politics. For example it is noteworthy that the front pages
Since 2011, member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have expressed interest in full political and economic integration in a much-touted Gulf Union. As regional organisations are strengthening amidst an increasingly multipolar international order, the move is not illogical. But in the Middle East and North Africa, regional organisations – be they the GCC, the League of Arab States, or the Organisation of the Islamic Conference – have suffered from a lack of vision and coherence. As the GCC itself has witnessed mixed fortunes at best, observers are reminded that regional integration here has been a schizophrenic affair, which begs the question: whether on economics, trade or security, what is a union good for?
Enhancing trade, boosting common security, and projecting power through a stronger foreign policy – the hallmarks and benefits of integration – are not especial
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