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Showing posts from April 22, 2014

Ecuador's Correa Seeks Another Presidential Term

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa (R) and Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez on the balcony of the Carondelet Palace in Quito on March 14.(RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP/Getty Images)


Ecuador's ruling coalition, Alianza Pais, has decided to pursue a third term for Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa without holding a public referendum on the issue, according to media reports. The move will require constitutional reform, which can be done in one of two ways, and if Correa chooses the course of action he is expected to, he will need to begin within the next few months so that a bill may be presented to the parliament by October. With that process complete, there would be few legal obstacles to Correa's re-election. He is popular with voters because of his oil-funded social spending and subsidies, and the opposition has few means to stop him.


Although Correa is barely a year into his second presidential term, he and other members of Alianza Pais have been openly discussi…

Geopolitical Calendar: Week of April 21, 2014

April 22: By this date EU countries are expected to give feedback on an EU Commission assessment of possible financial and trade sanctions against Russia.April 23-27: Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa will travel to Spain and Italy.April 24: The EU Competitiveness Council will hold an informal meeting in Athens.April 27: Macedonia will hold parliamentary elections and the second round of its presidential election.FORMER SOVIET UNION
April 21: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will visit Ukraine to discuss the latest events in the eastern part of the country.April 21: The leaders of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs are expected to travel to Ukraine.April 21: New Kazakh Defense Minister Serik Akhmetov is expected to pay an official visit to Azerbaijan.April 21-25: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen will lead a high-level delegation to Azerbaijan and Belarus to discuss bilateral relations.April 22: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is scheduled to travel to Moscow…

Iran: The Nature of the Resistance from Within

(L) Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech in Tehran on Feb. 11, 2014. (R) Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps head Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari speaks at a press conference in Tehran on Sept. 3, 2007.ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images -/AFP/Getty Images


The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps -- along with other conservative factions in Iran -- is attempting to wield influence over Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's government and its negotiations with the United States on Iran's nuclear program. Rouhani's opponents do not seek to torpedo the talks altogether; rather, they wish to shape the negotiations to protect their interests. Although the corps and its allies have limited options for influencing the diplomatic endeavors, Rouhani eventually will have to find a way to ease their concerns. Despite increasing disruptions and potential delays, the negotiations will likely remain on a long-term track toward a comprehensive settlement between Iran and the United St…

Saudi Arabia Balances Liberals and Conservatives

Saudi girls wave the national flag during National Day celebrations in 2012.(FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)


Saudi Arabia has reached a critical moment in its evolution as a nation-state. The House of Saud is struggling with the difficult task of appeasing conservatives while pressing ahead with reforms that cater to the demands of a large youth population whose worldview has been shaped by advances in information technology (especially social media) in an age of democratization. All the while, Riyadh is facing a growing number of unprecedented external challenges. Now more than ever it needs harmony on the domestic front.


On April 16, a group of religious and tribal conservatives staged a rare demonstration in front of the Royal Court in Riyadh, protesting what they perceive as "Westernization" of the country. In particular, they cited the Saudi Consultative Council's call to allow sports classes in girls' schools. Sheikh Salih al-Luhaydan, a senior r…