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Showing posts from June 25, 2014

The Effects of the Ukraine Crisis Reach the Caucasus

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a news conference in Moscow on May 26.(VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


The standoff between Russia and the West over the former Soviet periphery is having ripple effects throughout the region, and the Caucasus is a prime area for potential change. In its efforts to reduce its dependence on Russian energy, Europe is focused on countries in the region, particularly on Azerbaijan. In response, Russia has stepped up its activity in the Caucasus and is particularly focused on Nagorno-Karabakh, a region that Armenia and Azerbaijan dispute. It is not yet clear that a major change is in the making, but Russia's flurry of diplomatic activity regarding the region suggests that anything is possible.

Analysis


Located between Europe and Asia, the Caucasus region is characterized by a web of complex relationships. First, there is Georgia, which is oriented toward the West and at odds with Russia. The government in Tbilisi aspires to join the Europe…

Libya's New Government Will Face Old Challenges

A man passes parliamentary campaign posters in Tripoli, Libya, on June 22.(MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


Libyans will head to the polls June 25 to elect an interim political body to replace the embattled and largely ineffective General National Congress. The new legislature, the House of Representatives, will oversee the stalled constitutional drafting process and eventually hold elections for a permanent national government as defined by the future constitution.

The General National Congress was elected in 2012 in what Western observers deemed a free and fair election with high voter turnout. Subsequent elections have not fared as well; boycotts by ethnic minorities, low turnout and localized violence marred the Feb. 20 constituent assembly polls. The upcoming elections are an attempt to reset the current political impasses in Tripoli, but they also represent one of the few opportunities left for Libya to cobble together a national political order before the country fractures …

In Iraq, Airstrikes May Create New Allies

Free Syrian Army members examine an unexploded bomb that was dropped on Aleppo by a Syrian MiG fighter jet. Syrian aircraft reportedly hit targets in western Iraq on June 24.(ANDREW CAMPBELL/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


Syrian aircraft reportedly carried out airstrikes June 24 against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant targets in the Iraqi town of Qaim, located at the Syrian border in Anbar province. This is not the first time that the Syrian air force has acted against such targets along the border. Recently, these airstrikes have occurred in the militant-controlled areas of western Iraq, though these strikes will not dramatically change the situation on the ground. However, the fact that three bitter adversaries -- the United States, Iran and Syria -- are defending the Iraqi government and responding to the militant threat against it shows that even historical rivals can cooperate, if only temporarily.

Analysis


Any airstrike in Iraqi territory is noteworthy. The U.S.-led invasion per…