After Pyongyang has conducted its sixth nuclear test and North Korean missiles continue to fly over Japanese territory and territorial waters, tensions over North Korea have reached a fever pitch. Analysts and commentators fear that the exchange of hostile rhetoric between Kim Jong–un and US President Donald Trump may soon get out of control. Just days after Trump threatened in his UN General Assembly speech that the United States might “totally destroy” North Korea, on September 23 Pyongyang’s Foreign Minister replied in kind.
Last Sunday Chechen police declared having registered 1.1 million people participating in the protest against the “genocide” of Muslims in Myanmar held in the center of Grozny (the capital of the Chechen republic). The number of participants may be overestimated, since the Republic's overall population is 1.3 million people, but the importance of this protest for Russia’s internal stability and international political agenda is hard to overestimate.
After the 1969 revolution, Libya’s previously close links to the United States quickly deteriorated. At the same time Muammar al-Gaddafi sought closer links to the Soviet Union. The clear majority of the equipment of the “Armed Forces of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya” originated from the Soviets or the Eastern Bloc. Many of the officers of all services were educated at military training facilities of the Soviet Armed Forces. After the break-up of the Soviet Union, Russia remained as one of Libya’s key allies.
Latin America is at a crossroads. The “golden age” inaugurated with the turn of the new millennium seems a faint memory. Economies that had grown at a steady pace are now slowing down, while some are in freefall.
Politically, the “pink tide” of populist movements is now ebbing. From Brazil to Venezuela, from Argentina to Bolivia, left-leaning leaders across the region seem to have lost their bond with the people. Their promises of an equitable society through an apparently never-ending redistribution of wealth crashed against the reality of shortsighted and unsustainable policies. Political and social turmoil are heralding an era of changes and – maybe – of new opportunities for Latin America. And this ‘great transformation’ is precisely what this volume is all about.
Where is it leading to? Does it mark the beginning of a new age? Which lessons can be learnt from the past? Leading international scholars and experts scratch beneath the surface of Latin America’s current crisis to have a clearer glimpse of what the future holds and draw policy recommendations, especially for the EU.
The trauma of the July bailout
One year after the annexation – or reunification, depending on the point of view – of Crimea, Russian mass media is doing its best to keep up the degree of patriotism – or nationalism, again according to the point of view – within the population.
Abenomics is at a crisis point. The economy slipped back into recession in Q3, prompting a delay to the second planned consumption tax hike and a snap election. The Bank of Japan meanwhile has also reacted to weak growth by expanding its monetary easing programme. The latter decision may avoid a return to deflation but unless the ‘third arrow’ of Abenomics – structural reform – is activated, Japan’s relative economic decline is set to continue.
The deal struck last Friday by the leaders of the so-called Independent Square protest and the President Viktor Yanukovich may prove a major progress in the Ukrainian crisis. The agreement has put an end to the violent clashes with the police that in the previous days had reportedly caused more than a hundred dead in Kiev and across the country, pushing back the prospect of a potentially devastating civil war.
A variety of indicators at the political and military level explain Iraq’s deteriorating security situation in 2013. First, in terms of the violent physical conflict, the resurgence of al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) and its bombing campaign has reached a level unprecedented since the 2006-2008 sectarian conflict, and was highlighted by the recent raids on the Abu Ghraib and Taji prisons. Second, armed clashes between the Iraqi security forces and Arab Sunni protestors have led to calls to reactivate Arab Sunni militias. Third, in the face of these threats, both the regular armed forces and the intelligence agencies remain divided, with various units either reporting directly to Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki or the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). Fourth, the security forces suffer from the problem of divided loyalties, where members use the coercive arms of the state to pursue the interests of militias, such as the Shi’a Badr Corps, Muqtada’s Al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army, the Arab Sunni Reawakening militias, or the Peshmerga forces of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) or the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
Ibrahim Al-Marashi is Assistant Professor of Middle East History at California State University San Marcos.