The asymmetrical proxy conflict currently being fought in Syria has many interested state parties and Qatar has taken a prominent, multi-track approach to influence the outcome. The Qataris have met with Assad, armed rebels, provided facilities for the US to train militants, paid defectors and–employing a novel methodology– used the trappings of civil society in the form of a ‘report’ on torture and the coverage provided by a ‘free press’. Qatar’s participation raises some interesting questions: What is the goal of this geopolitical manoeuvring? Are they using a civil society façade to achieve state goals? » More
The world is in extraordinary turmoil — a violent Islamic Caliphate overturning the borders of Syria and Iraq; a war in Europe pitting Russia and pro-Russian rebels against the new regime in Ukraine; Israel invading Gaza and trading rocket exchanges with Hamas; Egypt, Libya and Yemen disrupted by the Arab uprisings; confrontations among Japan, China, Vietnam and the Philippines in the South and East China Seas; and gang wars in Central America driving thousands of young families and children across borders. Worse yet, Europe is caught up in its own internal squabbles, leaving the U.S. without the full support of its most powerful and reliable allies in dealing with these crises. » More
The BRICS countries met for their sixth annual summit in Brazil this month, setting out to establish a counterweight to Western-dominated global financial institutions.
The summit’s key achievement was the establishment of the long-awaited BRICS New Development Bank. The bank will press for a bigger say in the global financial order — which is centred on the IMF and the World Bank. While China won the race for the bank’s headquarters, set to be located in Shanghai, India secured the presidency. The bank is a sign of the growing influence of the BRICS which together account for 18 per cent of world trade, 40 per cent of the global population and a combined GDP of US$24 trillion. » More
In September, the NATO allies will meet at the summit to discuss issues ranging from the end of NATO’s combat mission in Afghanistan to the reinforcement of NATO’s eastern flank.
The agenda and areas of consensus will mostly be prepared by national officials and the NATO staff well in advance of the meeting. Most likely not on the agenda, however, is a philosophical but critical question that hangs over the alliance: does the ‘West’ still exist? » More
From Scotland to Syria to Somalia, various groups are seeking to create independent states. The Scots will vote on independence this September. Kurds in northern Syria and Iraq have revived their hopes for an independent Kurdistan as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) envisions redrawing the map of the Middle East. And tribal leaders in northwest Somalia govern the territory they claim more effectively than the internationally-recognized Federal Government of Somalia controls the south. » More