With Russia due to play a central role in multilateral institutions over the next two years, its obstructionism over Syria does not bode well. However Europeans may find – to their benefit – that it is actually China that calls the shots on the international stage.
Syria / Iraq / Lebanon
As civil war engulfs Syria talk of politics and diplomacy has fallen silent. But the West should be redoubling its political and diplomatic efforts, even as it offers indirect support for the arming of the rebels in Syria.
The eyes of the world are on Syria's bloody villages. But now the revolution is finally coming to the once quiet, now tense streets of inner Damascus.
Julien Barnes-Dacey has just returned from a visit to Syria, and returned deeply pessimistic about the situation on the ground, with hopes for a political solution appearing all but dead.
A growing number of diplomats are arguing Kofi Annan's peace plan is failing. But is it better for the U.N. to oversee, and arguably provide cover for, the current violence or retreat and open the way for something potentially worse?
The case of Syria shows that Europe maintains a limited ability to shape its Southern neighbourhood. For the time being it remains a fairly insignificant political actor in the unfolding Syrian crisis.
Kofi Annan has created a diplomatic framework for dealing with the Syrian crisis. However, the security situation has changed and Annan must move with deliberate caution to make the 'Syrian-led political process' a success.
No one wants to deal with dictators. But one year after the Syrian uprising began, the harsh truth is that Bashar al-Assad maintains the upper hand and the opposition – with its international backers – may have little choice but to cut a deal with him if they want to ease the Syrian people’s suffering.