The Singapore Summit between US President Trump and North Korean leader Kim was lighting a beacon of hope on the Korean Peninsula. After almost 70 years of unending war, a new historical chance was emerging that would gradually bring peace to the divided nation. But, after the summit, renewed frustration about a lack of progress was not long coming. Particularly, the US administration returned to old patterns of negotiation and demonstrated an ambiguous agenda.
The United States looks at the upcoming Egyptian presidential elections with mixed – although increasingly critical – feelings. During his recent state visit to the Middle East, at the end of January, Vice President Mike Pence paid traditional lip service to Cairo’s strongman, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, confirming President Trump’s will to re-establish good political relations “after a time when our countries seemed to be drifting apart”.
Donald Trump’s first year as President of the United States has been, to put it mildly, tempestuous. After a bitterly divisive campaign and a razor-thin victory (he won in the Electoral College with only 46.4% of the national popular vote), Trump took office with the lowest initial approval rating of any president in the modern polling era, and has remained historically unpopular for a first-year president.
Among all those who try to evaluate South Korea’s position in the midst of the latest sharp rise in tensions on the Korean peninsula, the best, yet striking, definition has so far been provided by someone very close to the administration, in the person of Moon Chung-in, special advisor for unification, diplomacy and national security to President Moon Jae-in.
Unpredictable, erratic, prone to contradiction and potentially very dangerous. Donald Trump’s policies towards China could turn out or indeed continue to be all of that. Then again, they could be none of that or something completely different and we already got a very good taste of what may lie ahead in terms of surprises of how he and (some of) his controversial advisers are planning to deal with Beijing.
This evening, the EU heads of state and government will meet in Malta to discuss the "external dimension of migration". The spotlight will be put on the Central Mediterranean route and, particularly, on Libya. The aim is to step up cooperation with the Libyan authorities in order to implement immediate measures to "stem migratory flows, break the business model of smugglers and save lives".
As the Trump administration assumes office, it faces a major challenge in Libya, where the country’s situation continues to deteriorate as an ongoing conflict worsens. The Libya Peace Agreement produced in 2015 by a UN-backed process, which established a Presidential Council and Government of National Accord (PC/GNA), is floundering. The PC/GNA has failed to garner credibility on the ground since landing in Tripoli almost a year ago and it has suffered from significant infighting.
The conventional wisdom is that Barack Obama is America’s first ‘Pacific president’. Obama grew up in Hawaii and Jakarta. The ‘pivot to Asia’ is Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement. And the Trans-Pacific Partnership is the cornerstone of Obama’s trade policy. By contrast, Europe is – or at least appears to be – less important to the U.S. President. Obama has few if any obvious European roots. His attention to European security has been sporadic rather than strategic. And his determination to conclude the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) before the end of his administration is more rhetorical than real.
This conventional wisdom is pervasive. It is also misleading. The transatlantic relationship is bigger than any sitting president. Moreover, Obama’s policies toward Europe show more continuity with his predecessors than change. Relations have changed across the Atlantic despite this continuity.
Attempts by Washington and Brussels to push Russia to the fringes of global politics because of the Ukrainian crisis seem to have failed. Thanks to its important role in mediating the Iranian nuclear agreement, and to its unexpected military intervention in Syria, Moscow proved once again to be a key player in international politics.
However, Russia’s recovered assertiveness may represents a challenge to the uncertain leadership of the West. This report aims to gauging Russia’s current role in the light of recent developments on the international stage. The overall Russian foreign policy strategy is examined by taking into account its most important issues: Ukraine and the relationship with the West; the Middle East (intervention in Syria, and ongoing relations with Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia); the development of the Eurasian Economic Union; the Russian pivot towards Asia, and China in particular. The volume also analyzes if and to what extent Moscow can fulfill its ambitions in a context of falling oil prices and international sanctions.
In this summer of geopolitical realignments, Oman confirms to be the subtle centre of Middle Eastern diplomacy: in these days, Muscat has been hosting informal talks on the Yemeni crisis and seeks to find a minimum room for dialogue about Syria. Oman is the first Arab country that has received Damascus’ foreign minister since 2011.