By December 31, 2021, the United States will have completed its second formal withdrawal from Iraq in a decade. Just three years after the last American withdrawal, the Iraqi state was in peril, with a third of the country fallen to the Islamic State and Baghdad and Erbil under direct threat. The result was the return of U.S. combat operations in Iraq in 2014, and thus a second occasion to withdraw today.
In some of the countries of the Western Balkans, criminal groups and political elites have grown increasingly interdependent. In particular, Serbia’s and Montenegro’s societies have suffered the most from these links. The two countries have long been considered frontrunners in the EU integration process, whose final completion, however, is difficult to foresee. Similarly, Albania’s EU negotiating process has also been delayed for years, in part because of the country's role in global drug trafficking schemes.
A series of houses demolished overnight without any police intervention, a strange deal between a state-owned munitions factory and a private company, a smear campaign against an independent media outlook that has been investigating over these and similar episodes.
The August 15th events in Afghanistan caught off guard not only the Afghans but much of the rest of the world. Following intensified negotiations between the Taliban and the US government and Biden’s announcement to withdraw troops by 11th September 2021, many Afghans expected a major shift in the country's political landscape, especially the return of the Taliban in some form. However, no one anticipated what transpired on August 15th, which was largely precipitated by former President Ghani's escape.
Very few expected the Taliban to have reformed since they were deposed from their seat of power in 2001. Amid their two decades-long violent campaign to recapture power, the Taliban leaders themselves reached out to the international media describing how they are willing to forsake their earlier obscurantist image that made them unacceptable to the international community.
The MED This Week newsletter provides expert analysis and informed comments on the MENA region’s most significant issues and trends. Today, we turn the spotlight on Iraq, where citizens are called to the polls in an early attempt to re-shape a political landscape that has struggled to meet people’s expectations since 2019.
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Under the Italian G20 Presidency, as the T20 National Coordinator and Chair, ISPI co-hosted the T20 Summit (4-6 October) with Bocconi University (T20 Summit Co-Chair). During the Summit, the final communiqué - with its its policy recommendations for the G20 Leaders - was handed over the Italian Presidency.
Despite the pandemic-related difficulties, over 800 people attended the Summit in person and more than 16.000 virtually, while the T20-related videos had more than 1 million views.
Did you miss the events? Catch up with our highlights!
If the "Pivot to Asia" — the strategic rebalancing of American interests from Europe and the Middle East to East Asia — was former President Barack Obama’s goal, it seems to be now more than ever US President Joe Biden’s mantra, given the bolder approach of the current administration to counter Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s increasingly assertive policy. This is happening not without jolts from Washington, which has pulled more than a few blows to its allies.
The Rome MED This Week newsletter provides expert analysis and informed comments on the MENA region’s most significant issues and trends. Today we turn the spotlight on Libya, where the protracted debate on the new electoral law and the no confidence vote against Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah threaten the country’s fragile transition process and raise concerns over Libyan stability ahead of the election.
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Finally, the UN climate summit (COP26) is approaching! In November, the world will meet again in Glasgow. But hold on… Wasn’t COP26 supposed to take place in 2020? Correct! Despite the urgency to achieve progress regarding the climate crisis, the conference had to be postponed due to the even more immediate threat of the crisis caused by the coronavirus.