Highlights

Spilling the beans, Riyadh style

Spilling the beans, Riyadh style

Eckart Woertz, Senior Research Fellow, CIDOB

Saudi Arabia and other oil rich Gulf countries don’t want to live in the shadow of an Iranian nuclear bomb. Yet when the US embarks on an agreement to prevent this very possibility, they fear it might lead to a grand bargain that gives Iran carte blanche for expansionism in the Middle East.

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Misunderstandings and tensions, a new normality in EU-Russia relations?

Misunderstandings and tensions, a new normality in EU-Russia relations?

Nicolás de Pedro, Research Fellow, CIDOB. Elina Viilup*, Policy Analyst, European Parliament, and Associate Researcher, CIDOB

Russia poses the greatest challenge to the EU’s strategic and foreign policy agenda. The annexation of Crimea, the Russian military intervention in eastern Ukraine, the subsequent European sanctions and Russian counter-sanctions have dragged the relationship between the EU and Russia to its lowest point.   

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The World in Europe

The World in Europe

Pol Morillas, Research Fellow, CIDOB (coord.)

The World in Europe is the collective effort of the CIDOB researchers to reflect on the crises and global trends that, inevitably, insert the European Union into current international dynamics and determine its position in the world. 

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TTIP: MORE THAN A FREE TRADE AGREEMENT

TTIP: More than a Free Trade Agreement

Jordi Bacaria, Director of CIDOB

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership known as the TTIP is not envisaged as a classic trade agreement that limits itself to eliminating tariffs and opening markets up to investment, services and public procurement. 

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Standing Up to Saudi: Pakistan´s Unprecedented New Pragmatism

Standing Up to Saudi: Pakistan´s Unprecedented New Pragmatism

Emma Hooper, Associate Senior Researcher, CIDOB

The Pakistan parliament´s recent “no” vote to the motion put forward by the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on whether to provide support to Saudi Arabia in its proxy war against Iran in Yemen was nothing short of groundbreaking in terms of historical geopolitical alignments. 

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Redesigning European Monetary Union governance in light of the eurozone crisis

When political leaders met at Maastricht in December 1992 and took the historic decision to create the EMU, they were responding to several challenges.

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A very European election (against all odds)

A very European election (against all odds)

Pol Morillas, Research Fellow, CIDOB

Next Thursday’s election will probably be the most contested one that the UK has ever had. The outcome of the vote will turn the UK’s political system into one similar to its continental neighbours. The two big parties, Conservatives and Labour, will lose seats. This will benefit smaller parties, and will force either a minority government or a coalition rule. 

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The Deepening China-Pakistan Friendship: Not All Fortune Cookies & Cakes?

When recently I asked a Pakistan-based economic investment advisor how he was doing, his reply was: “ Learning Chinese ” – a telling comment in the light of China´s $46 billion investment deal and the 51 Memoranda of Understanding for energy and infrastructure projects with Pakistan signed during the Chinese President´s two day visit to Islamabad on April 20 and 21 2015. 

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Talking to adversaries: the US opening to Cuba and Iran

Talking to Adversaries: the US Opening to Cuba and Iran

Agnieszka Nimark, Associate Senior Researcher, CIDOB

The restoration of the US political ties with Cuba and Iran signals Obama’s determination to deliver on his promise made as presidential candidate to reiterate the principle of engaging one’s enemies. Like his predecessors: Richard Nixon visited the Peoples Republic of China in 1972 and Ronald Reagan negotiated arms reductions with the Soviet Union in 1987; Obama made a historic move by starting the process of normalisation of the U.S. relations with Cuba and by making a preliminary agreement with Tehran within the P5+1 negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. 

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Rethinking Europe Foreign Policy

Rethinking Europe's Foreign Policy

Francis Ghilès, Associate Senior Researcher, CIDOB

Europeans discovered the suction effect of an unstable periphery during the post-Yugoslav wars of the 1990s but were convinced that such effect could be confined to the relatively manageable Balkans region. Little did they anticipate that state failure, social strife, economic collapse, new forms of terrorism and asymmetrical warfare would stretch in a long arc from Belarus and Ukraine through the Caucasus to the Middle East and from there to the African shores of the Mediterranean, Morocco and across the Sahara desert. 

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The Americas: full backing for an irreversible historical fact

 

The historic summit to reunify the American hemisphere was completed. The VIIth Summit of the Americas on April 10 th and 11 th , 2015 ended an exclusion that had been in place since December 1994 in Miami, when Bill Clinton was US president. At the Panama summit, the 35 leaders of the continent hailed Cuba’s inclusion in the meeting following the historic thawing of relations with the United States, simultaneously announced by Raul Castro and Barack Obama on December 27 th , 2014.

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 What is so Attractive About the "Islamic State"?

What is so Attractive about the "Islamic State"?

Moussa Bourekba, Researcher and Project Manager, CIDOB

20,000: that is the number of foreign jihadists who have gone to Iraq and Syria to swell the ranks of the Islamic State organisation (hereafter, IS) and other groups,  as of  January 2015. The spectacular growth of IS’s strength in the region and its global repercussions (an international coalition, terrorist acts in the name of IS and so on) is today obliging a number of European countries to fight against a phenomenon that is global in scale: the growing number of young and less young people leaving the countries where they have always lived in order to reach countries where extreme violence coexists with a politico-religious utopia.

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Saudi Arabian Nightmares

Saudi Arabian Nightmares

Eckart Woertz Senior Research Fellow Felow, CIDOB

The military intervention of Saudi Arabia in Yemen marks a departure from its traditional checkbook diplomacy and reveals a heightened sense of urgency after a string of setbacks.

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Juncker’s EU Army: a Tool of Politics more than Defence

Jean-Claude Juncker has revived the debate on a European army, an old, periodically torpedoed aspiration. In the 1950s, when the European integration process was in its embryonic phase, six nations led the European Defence Community.

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Tunisia: The EU Must Put its Money Where its Mouth Is

Tunisia: The EU Must Put its Money Where its Mouth Is

Francis Ghilès, Associate Senior Researcher, CIDOB

The NATO-backed intervention in Libya in 2011 was “a huge mistake on the part of the international community and the Libyans” one of alliance’s most senior officials told a delegation of senior Algerians in Brussels last month

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 Five responses to the terrorist threat in the Maghreb

Five responses to the terrorist threat in the Maghreb

Eduard Soler i Lecha, Research Coordinator, CIDOB

It is no accident that Tunisia has been hit by terrorism, nor that the attackers directly targeted tourism and the parliament. This was an attack on democracy and on Tunisia's opening up to the outside world and it is easy to surmise that the terrorists will measure their success not only by the number of victims but by the damaging impact it may have on both the Tunisian transition and the country's fragile economy. 

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Opposition to fracking fuels a wider debate

Opposition to fracking fuels a wider debate

Francis Ghilès, Associate Senior Researcher, CIDOB

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika insists that “all energy sources, whether conventional or not, are a gift from God and it is our duty to use them for the development of the country, while strictly respecting the environment”. Protestors respond with an open letter to the head of state published in the daily El Watan on 27 February asking him to put further drilling for shale on hold. 

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La coopération Sud-Sud au profit de la sécurité alimentaire: Cas de la filière des céréales dans les pays du Maghreb

La question alimentaire dans le Maghreb est devenue un problème crucial, sous l’effet de plusieurs facteurs socioéconomiques, démographiques et environnementaux.

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The Hidden Potential of Agroforestry Systems in the Chapare Coca Production Area, Bolivia

The Hidden Potential of Agroforestry Systems in the Chapare Coca Production Area, Bolivia

Eduardo Lopez Rosse, Independent Professor at the Valle del Sacta Experimental Unit-UMSS

Tropical regions are the main sources of the fruit, meat and non-forestry timber products that contribute to the state’s food security and sovereignty, enhance producers’ livelihoods and satisfy consumer demand.

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Libya: intervention, indifference and interference

Libya: intervention, indifference and interference

Eduard Soler i Lecha, Research Coordinator, CIDOB

The videos made by Islamic State have the undoubted potential to affect international policy. Designed to fan the flames of the conflict, they have been achieving this in Syria and Iraq for months and it is now Libya's turn. Neither the choice of the victims nor the location is accidental.

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 "Operation Nemtsov": Disinformation, Confusion  and Some Worrying Hypotheses

"Operation Nemtsov": Disinformation, Confusion and Some Worrying Hypotheses

Nicolás de Pedro, Research Fellow, CIDOB and Marta Ter, Head of the North Caucasus department at the Lliga dels Drets dels Pobles

The investigation into the assassination of Boris Nemtsov reminds previous ones on high-profile political killings, although the uncertainties grow with every new revelation. The verified, documented connection between the main suspect, Zaur Dadayev, and Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechen strongman and close ally of Putin strengthens the theory linking the crime to the Kremlin and suggests possible internal fighting within the state security apparatus. 

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European Central Bank decision-making – Reform, Old Commitments and New Realities

New decision-making rules apply to the European Central Bank (ECB) from 1 January 2015, the day Lithuania adopted the euro and the euro area club enlarged to nineteen. According to the new rules Governors will take turns to vote in the ECB’s decision-making body, the Governing Council. This rotation takes place with asymmetric frequency, depending on the size of euro area economies measured by their GDP and banking sector. All euro area central bank Governors will continue to participate in Governing Council meetings and discussions.

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Economics will be the Test of Tunisian Exceptionalism

Economics Will Be the Test of Tunisian Exceptionalism

Francis Ghilès, Senior Research Fellow, CIDOB

The revolts which started four years ago ushered in a period of change in the Arab world which has been more violent and chaotic that most observers foresaw. Syria is self-destructing. Libya is disintegrating. Egypt has reverted to military rule. The emergence of the Islamic State has further destabilised the region.

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Spain and the European Union-Russia Conflict: the Impact of the Sanctions

Spain and the European Union-Russia Conflict: the Impact of the Sanctions

Antonio Sánchez Andrés, Lecturer in the Department of Applied Economics, Universidad de Valencia, and Nicolás de Pedro, Research Fellow, CIDOB

Relations between the European Union and Russia are at the lowest point in their history. Some Russian analysts even warn that we are approaching the point of breakdown. Moscow is attempting to impede the tightening of the sanctions and, at the same time, destroy the fragile—although for the moment holding—European unity on the subject.

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Modernising its Army Allows Algeria to Play a More Active Regional Role

Modernising its Army Allows Algeria to Play a More Active Regional Role

Francis Ghilès, Associate Senior Researcher, CIDOB

Following the bombing by the Egyptian air force of terrorist groups in eastern Libya – who claim affiliation with the Islamic State - in retaliation for the execution of Egyptian Coptic workers Italy, France and Egypt have called on the United Nations to mount a military operation against the north African country.

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Fifteen Trends for 2015

Fifteen Trends for 2015

Eduard Soler i Lecha, Research Coordinator, CIDOB*

Without a crystal ball, daring to imagine the future and putting it in writing is playing with fire. Making predictions about the immediate future is even riskier than doing so at two decades' distance. A look at the recent past, at the wave of protests that shook the Arab world from December 2010 to March 2011, for example, reminds us that it is one thing to identify the existence of conditions that are ripe for the breakout of a crisis and quite another to guess when it will happen and what the detonator will be.

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France's deep Identity Crisis

France's Deep Identity Crisis

Francis Ghilès, Associate Senior Researcher, CIDOB

After Napoleon’s final defeat in 1815, France began to search its soul about its loss of dominance in Europe but remained proud of its culture and society. Constrained by the Treaty of Vienna, it decided, in the words of Alexis de Tocqueville to project its “grandeur” in Africa – hence its conquest of Algeria in 1830. Dominance in Europe passed to the United Kingdom after 1815 and Germany after 1870.

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France "is Charlie", but for how long?

France "is Charlie", but for how long?

Moussa Bourekba, Researcher and Project Manager, CIDOB

"We are Charlie". So goes the message of unity we may take from the Place de la République in Paris on Sunday 11th January. As a result of the hunt for and capture of those responsible for the terrorist attacks on January 7th—the siege on Charlie Hebdo—and January 8th in Montrouge, French citizens, political leaders (except the Front National) and around 50 heads of state and government took part in the enormous republican marches organised in Paris and throughout France to commemorate the death of the victims but equally and, above all, to send out a message of national unity in the face of the danger confronting France.

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Greece: its European elections

Greece: its European elections

Eduard Soler i Lecha, Research Coordinator and Héctor Sánchez Margalef, Researcher, CIDOB

The Greeks are worried about the EU and the EU is worried about Greece. The attention the rest of Europe is giving to Greek politics is a clear demonstration that what happens in one EU member state—especially one in the eurozone—has clear repercussions for the rest of Europeans.

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 The Response Ulrich Beck Would Have Liked to Hear

The Response Ulrich Beck Would Have Liked to Hear

Yolanda Onghena, Senior Researcher, CIDOB

The death of Ulrich Beck leaves us bereft of that always lucid, special perspective found in each of his articles or in the new publication that arrived on just the day that, for the umpteenth time, we were doubting our own theories or missing someone to lend a hand and help us understand the world.

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The Army and the Exercise of Power in Burkina Faso

The Army and the Exercise of Power in Burkina Faso: Lessons from the popular uprising on October 30th and 31st, 2014

Boureïma N. Ouedraogo*, Doctor of Sociology, Université de Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

In Burkina Faso an inextricable link exists between the army and the exercise of power. In the context of recent events, the role of the army is an essential element for understanding their causes as well as the issues surrounding the fall of the Blaise Compaoré regime and his subsequent flight from the country on October 31st.

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Elections and Peace in Africa: Perspectives for 2015

Elections and Peace in Africa: Perspectives for 2015

Anna Lührmann, Doctoral Researcher, Humboldt University, Berlin

2015 promises to be a record election year for Africa because 17 African countries have scheduled national elections. In the last decades almost all African countries established some sort of national practice to hold elections.

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China in Africa: New Perspectives  on Development

China in Africa: New Perspectives on Development

Artur Colom-Jaén, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona; SOAS University of London

Times are changing in Africa. After two decades of poor developmental records, since the beginning of this century the prospects for many African countries are improving in terms of growth and development, although the challenges ahead remain huge.

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The EU and international order: accommodation or entrenchment

The convergence of an EU in crisis and a changing world order (power transition) is the subject of analysis in this edition of the Revista CIDOB d’Afers Internacionals

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Pakistan: Overview of Sources of Tension with Regional Implications 2014

Having witnessed a peaceful transfer of power from one elected government to the next in 2013, Pakistan seemed poised for aperiod of political stability in 2014. This has not, however, beenthe case, with the government facing allegations of electoral fraud, anddealing with sustained street demonstrations and calls to resign from atleast one opposition party, in addition to a politico-religious group withpolitical aspirations. Similarly, the negotiation of a loan with the IMF under the Extended Fund Facility in September 2013 has not resulted in significant economic reform, and growth projections remain below potential.

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Afghanistan: Overview of Sources of Tension with Regional Implications 2014

2014 has been a crucial year not only for Afghanistan but also for the region. It seems Afghanistan’s transition is, in a way, a transition for thewhole region, with the regional powers eagerly following the developmentsin Afghanistan and reacting accordingly. This year, the region as awhole geared its efforts more and more towards ensuring stability in thiswar-ravaged country. This is especially true when it comes to Russia and China – in addition to India, obviously.

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Afghanistan: Monitoring the Key Regional Powers. Report 4

Afghanistan: Monitoring the Key Regional Powers. Report 4

Malaiz Daud, Associate Researcher, CIDOB

The purpose of this series of quarterly monitoring reports (2014) is to monitor and track the actions,public statements of five key STAP RP regional actors (India, Iran, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia) onAfghanistan; the development of, and their participation in relevant international and regionaldiscussion meetings, including the Istanbul Process, Heart of Asia, RECCA, SCO; the five key regionalactors’ economic decisions and agreements, including, but not limited to, the energy and infrastructuresectors, which have implications for the identified sources of tension in Afghanistan with regionalimplications (see CIDOB STAP RP Mapping Document at www.cidobafpakproject.com).

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 What happened in the world in 2014? A vision from CIDOB

Leaving 2014 behind. This was a year in which the EU was unable to completely overcome the crisis holding it back since 2008 and a year in which it also found itself surrounded by three serious conflicts: Syria, Libya and Ukraine. At CIDOB we analysed these overlapping crises while at the same time paying close attention to the apparent fragility of the main emerging powers and their impact on the world order.

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Illicit Financial Flows are the Achilles Heel of Capitalism

Illicit Financial Flows are the Achilles Heel of Capitalism

Francis Ghilès, Associate Senior Researcher, CIDOB

“Save for a brief slowdown during the financial crisis, illicit financial flows have been allowed to go unchecked over the past decade. In 2012, illicit outflows reached a staggering new peak of $991bn.” The report just published by the Global Financial Integrity in Washington argues that, if this is put into perspective, it means that for every single one of the $89.7bn in development aid that entered these developing countries in 2012, over $10 in illicit financial flows came out. If the problem of illicit financial flows is allowed to go unchecked, development aid will continue to fight and uphill, and in many instances, a losing battle.

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“Power from the People, for the People”: the Communist Party of China and Political Reform with Chinese Characteristics

“Power from the People, for the People”: the Communist Party of China and Political Reform with Chinese Characteristics

Sean Golden, Director East Asian Studies & Research Centre, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Senior Research Associate, CIDOB

In recent years the Communist Party of China (CPC) has shown an increasing concern for basing its legitimacy on the support of the people as well as the need to continue to deserve the people’s support. On 1 September 2010, in a speech to the Party School of the Central Committee, Xi Jinping (who would go on to become General Secretary of the CPC in 2012, and President of the PRC thereafter) called on Party members to have a “correct view of the world, of power and of their work” and defined “citizen empowerment” (公民赋权 gōngmín fù quán ), by saying, “the Marxist view of power can be summed up in two phrases: power is given by the people, and power is used for the people [权为民所赋, 权为民所用 quán wéi mín suǒ fù , quán wéi mín su ǒ yòng ].

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The Shock of Collapsing Oil and Gas Prices

The Shock of Collapsing Oil and Gas Prices

Francis Ghilès, Associate Senior Researcher, CIDOB

The consequences of the near halving of oil and natural gas liquids prices since last summer depend on whether you are a country highly dependent on such exports or a major importer. Why this decline has happened and how long it might last help to explain what this decline spells for the world economy.

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Elections in Uruguay:  Same colours, new government, greater challenges

After a resounding victory in the first round of voting, with the candidate from the ruling party prevailing by more than 17 points over his closest competitor (Luis Lacalle Pou of the Partido Nacional (PN)), few doubts remained about who would eventually be elected in these elections. Former president Tabaré Vázquez (2005-2010) received 56% of the vote; the best result for a Uruguayan head of state in the last 70 years.

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Pakistan: Monitoring the Key Regional Powers. Report 4

Pakistan: Monitoring the Key Regional Powers. Report 4

Pak Institute for Peace Studies, Islamabad

The purpose of this series of quarterly monitoring reports (2014) is to monitor and track the actions as well as public statements of five key STAP RP regional actors (India, Iran, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia) on Pakistan; the development of, and their participation in relevant international and regional discussion meetings, including the Istanbul Process, Heart of Asia, RECCA, SCO; the five key regional actors’ economic decisions and agreements, including, but not limited to, the energy and infrastructuresectors, which have implications for the identified sources of tension in Pakistan with regional implications (see CIDOB STAP RP Mapping Document at www.cidobafpakproject.com).

The purpose of this series of quarterly monitoring reports (2014) is to monitor and track the actions aswell as public statements of five key STAP RP regional actors (India, Iran, Russia, China, SaudiArabia) on Pakistan; the development of, and their participation in relevant international and regionaldiscussion meetings, including the Istanbul Process, Heart of Asia, RECCA, SCO; the five key regionalactors’ economic decisions and agreements, including, but not limited to, the energy and infrastructuresectors, which have implications for the identified sources of tension in Pakistan with regionalimplications (see CIDOB STAP RP Mapping Document at www.cidobafpakproject.com).

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The Iranian Nuclear Issue: what Next?

The Iranian Nuclear Issue: what Next?

Roberto Toscano, Associate Senior Researcher, CIDOB

No agreement was reached within the deadline that the two sides (the 5+1 and Iran) had agreed, and yet it would be a mistake to describe the situation as one of failure, and even of stalemate. The negotiation is still on, and the intermediate results that have been reached are very significant, very substantial. More important still, neither side can really envisage a breakdown of the negotiation: President Obama, in particular, cannot afford another focus of confrontation at a time when the Syria/Iraq situation is definitely not under control and threatens further regional destabilization; President Rohani's chances for implementing his program of moderate reformism are totally dependent from the success of the nuclear negotiations, and would most probably be doomed by a failure, since the hardliners within the regime could easily convince the Supreme Leader to turn the page and shift back to a radical political platform, similar to what had characterized the Ahmadinejad years.

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 2014: Point of departure for the new Ibero-American direction

2014: Point of Departure for the New Ibero-American Direction

Jordi Bacaria, Director, CIDOB and Anna Ayuso, Senior Research Fellow, CIDOB

Veracruz, Mexico's largest port city hosted the 24th Ibero-American Summit on December 8th and 9th 2014. Mexico was also the venue for the first summit in 1991 in Guadalajara, and this time the aim was to initiate a change of cycle to adapt the Ibero-American conferences to the new global and inter-regional context.

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Kosovo: Multiple Crises and a Challenging Future

Kosovo: Multiple Crises and a Challenging Future

Raquel Montes, Independent Foreign Affairs Analyst

Kosovo is going through a period of deep crisis on several fronts. On one hand, the institutional and political crisis has been preventing the formation of a new government for almost six months after the June elections. Additionally, the recent scandal related to corruption allegations within EULEX has shaken its strongest institutional pillar and rendered the most important foreign EU mission questionable.

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  Abenomics and its regional dimension

Abenomics and its regional dimension

Lluc López i Vidal, Lecturer in International Relations at the UOC and UAB

The announcement made by the prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, of a snap election mid-way through the term of a parliament in which he holds the absolute majority of the seats took nobody by surprise.

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