Even before the conflict in Ukraine, the liberal state model looked much less attractive for the broader Middle East region than it had only a decade earlier, at the height of the Arab Spring. The failures of Western efforts in Iraq, Libya, and above all in Afghanistan, where there had been the greatest international attempt to create a state that could combine local traditions and liberal ideals, contributed to this shift in sentiment.
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The MED This Week newsletter provides expert analysis and informed insights upon the most significant developments within the MENA region, bringing together unique opinions on the topic and reliable foresight on possible future scenarios. Today, we turn the spotlight on Yemen, where the expiry of a six-month ceasefire threatens to rekindle the war and aggravate the condition of millions of people.
Over the past decade, the security crisis in the Sahel exposed the region’s extreme political and developmental fragilities. From the very beginning, the security scenario was made all the more complex by the interests and interventions of a range of diverse external players, from multilateral actors to individual countries from outside the continent with an established or emerging role in the area. While some such foreign actors take part to joint initiatives, others turned the Sahel into a terrain for their rivalries.
After years shaped by enormous economic difficulties –aggravated by a devastating COVID-19 pandemic– and growing diplomatic isolation, Brazil is heading towards a presidential election which will have a profound impact on the country’s place in the world.
The two years preceding the Russian invasion of Ukraine suggested that Russia had adopted a measured policy toward the post-Soviet space. Faced with social protests in Belarus, a coup in Kyrgyzstan, the victory of pro-European president Maia Sandu in Moldova, the second war in Nagorno-Karabakh, and riots in Kazakhstan, Russia showed diplomatic ability without any hard arm-twisting of partners. In 2020, then Carnegie Moscow Center director Dmitry Trenin even concluded that “there will be no new edition of the empire”.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is endangering the international world order, so much so that NATO and the European Union have recognized Russia as a main threat to their collective security. Meanwhile, Russia’s warmongering has propelled Finland and Sweden into applying for NATO membership.
The MED This Week newsletter provides expert analysis and informed commentary upon the most significant issues and trends in the MENA region. Today we focus on Iraq, where a new wave of violence between conflicting Shia factions has erupted within the capital and across the country. In the midst of a deepening political crisis, clashes have followed Muqtada al-Sadr's announcement of his retirement from the Iraqi political scene.
On August 15th, 2021, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, the Taliban swept into Kabul, and the Islamic Republic’s institutions collapsed. A few weeks later, on September 7th, the Taliban announced an interim government and the re-estalishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
Together with the morale and logistical collapse of the Afghan military caused by the US withdrawal from the country, the political leadership’s breakdown and ultimate flight precipitated the crisis and allowed the Taliban a swift and unopposed entry into Kabul in August 2021.
One year after the fall of Kabul into the hands of the Taliban, it is time for a first assessment of how the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has performed so far. It is worth pointing out that it has not imploded yet, despite the dire economic situation. The Taliban are able to raise about $2 billion per year in customs and taxes, keeping the state more or less afloat. The lack of resources has nonetheless ensured that intra-Taliban tensions have remained high over the past twelve months.