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Showing posts from April 23, 2014

Turkish Trade and Investment With Africa

Turkey's efforts to broaden its presence in Africa through trade and investment moved forward April 11, when Senegal established a business council with the republic. On April 9, Kenya opened an embassy in Ankara and signed several agreements on trade and security cooperation. However, the growing conflict between Fethullah Gulen's religious network known as the Hizmet movement and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party has the potential to damage or even reverse potential gains in Africa. This developing rift prompted Erdogan to order Turkish schools run by the Gulen movement overseas to be shut down. Problematically, Hizmet nongovernmental organizations and schools have over time become the main conduit for Turkish "soft power," enabling Ankara to establish and maintain relations with African states.

Turkey's activity in Africa over the past decade, most notably in East Africa in recent years, has largely depended on Hizm…

Tensions Grow Between Hezbollah and the Syrian Regime

Hezbollah fighters carry the coffin of Al-Manar cameraman Mohammad Mantash, who was killed in Syria, during his funeral in the southern Lebanese village of Kfar Sir on April 15.(MAHMOUD ZAYYAT/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


Several recent incidents have highlighted the tension that can flare up between Hezbollah fighters and Syrian soldiers, especially those at the local level. But despite occasional acrimony, Hezbollah and the Syrian regime will keep their relationship largely intact because each side depends heavily on the other.

Analysis


In early April, as rebel forces advanced in the al-Rashidin district of Aleppo, a Syrian Republican Guard officer reportedly killed a Hezbollah unit commander in a dispute over the direction of the battle. In response, the Hezbollah unit tried to withdraw from the front and was reportedly brought back to action only after high-ranking officials from both sides intervened. Several interviews with low-ranking loyalist and Hezbollah fighters have also emphasiz…

China Struggles With Environmental Concerns and Economic Needs

Buildings are shrouded in smog Jan. 14 in Changsha, Hunan province.(ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)

Summary


China's central authorities are working to enhance the powers of the country's top environmental regulators. However, Beijing's need to accelerate environmental protection efforts will conflict with the need to sustain industrial activity and employment amid China's gradual, uncertain economic rebalancing and restructuring.

Analysis
In recent years, the Chinese government has put in place some of the world's toughest emissions standards for airborne pollutants such as sulfur dioxide. Beijing has also drafted plans to limit coal use in key urban areas and to curb wasteful production in heavy polluting industries. These actions have accompanied pledges by the country's leaders to shift China from a political-economic model that prioritizes rapid growth over the environment, among other things, to one that places more emphasis on environmental pr…

In Yemen, a Bombmaker's Possible Death Will Weaken al Qaeda

This undated file photo released Oct. 31, 2010, by Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Interior purports to show Ibrahim al-Asiri, chief bomb maker for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.Saudi Arabia Ministry of Interior, File

Summary


In the wake of the unprecedented airstrikes and military operations in Yemen over the past weekend, a great deal of murkiness remains. One of the rumors emanating from the attacks is that Ibrahim al-Asiri, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's chief bombmaker, was killed in a targeted attack. Al-Asiri is known for innovative designs that could stay ahead of security measures. If he is dead, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula will lose some of its capabilities.

Analysis


The uncertainty following the recent spate of airstrikes and attacks stems partly from the difficulty of media reporting in Yemen's remote areas, where reporters are at risk of being kidnapped or killed, and partly from the history of misinformation and disinformation that tends to thrive in Ye…