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Showing posts from February 27, 2014

Saudi Arabia Overhauls Its Strategy for Syria

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal at a news conference in Islamabad on Jan. 7. (AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


Saudi Arabia is running into trouble in its strategy to weaken Iran by supporting rebels who are trying to topple the Syrian regime. Riyadh is working to develop a more independent foreign policy doctrine after its biggest ally, the United States, opted not to engage in military action against Syria and opened talks with the kingdom's biggest enemy, Iran. Between a lack of sufficient international support for the Syrian rebels and the fact that Syria has become a major destination for jihadists of varying ideologies, Riyadh will find it difficult to achieve its goals in Syria.

Analysis
Saudi Arabia is looking for alternative means to remove the Syrian regime, following the divergence in Saudi and U.S. interests pertaining to the Levant. From Washington's point of view, ousting Syrian President Bashar al Assad is not worth the cost of supporting Sala…

Russia Reminds the World It Still Has a Military

Russia is using Ukraine to show its neighbors, and indeed the world, that it is still a military power to be reckoned with. On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered snap military drills to test the combat readiness of the armed forces across the Western and Central military districts of Russia. Some 150,000 troops, 90 aircraft, 880 tanks, 1,200 piece of military hardware and more than 120 helicopters participated in the exercises, which involve operations along Russia's western borders, including those with Ukraine. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the drills are not related to the events in Ukraine.

"Routine" military drills might not be so concerning had they not preceded military invasion before. Russia performed several exercises in the North Caucasus before invading Georgia in 2008, and the type of exercises -- not to mention the rhetoric coming out of Moscow -- is too similar for Kiev to ignore. Russia already has military personnel sta…

Before the British Vote, Germany Tries to Keep the EU Intact

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and British Prime Minister David Cameron at the 2013 G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia. (ALEXANDER VILF/Host Photo Agency via Getty Images)

Summary


The European Union will eventually need to reform its treaties to satisfy some members' demands, but reform may not come soon enough for the United Kingdom. British Prime Minister David Cameron will host German Chancellor Angela Merkel in London on Feb. 27 to discuss the United Kingdom's plans to renegotiate its role in the European Union. If the ruling Conservative Party is re-elected in the British general elections in 2015, Cameron will want the British Parliament to repatriate some powers from Brussels and for national parliaments to have veto power on EU issues, all before the United Kingdom holds a referendum on its EU membership in 2017.

Germany, Europe's largest economic and political power, does not necessarily disagree with enhancing the union's democratic accountability but …