Religion Conflict

The Central African Republic – Politics or Religion?

Photo: flickr/mwfearnley

The ongoing conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) is not a ‘religious’ war. As in other cases, it is a politically-motivated conflict between people that happen to be members of different religions. And behind this all-too-familiar, opportunistic and now uncontrolled misuse of religion stands Michel Djotoda, a key leader of the Seleca rebellion, which lasted from December 2012 through March 2013, and the CAR’s beleaguered president from 24 March 2013 until 10 January 2014.

Government Development

Oman: Wasta Par Excellence

This article was originally published by FPRI on 19 May 2014.

Oman has recently opened the doors of a new school in downtown Muscat to teach Persian language classes to its residents, both national and expatriate. It is being run by the Omani Ministry of Education, but students who complete the 12-week courses will receive a certificate from the Ferdowsi University of Mashhad in Iran. The Iranian Ambassador to Oman, Ali Akbar Sibeveih, hopes that Oman will open an equivalent Arabic language institute in Tehran in the near future.[1] Undoubtedly, some of the first to register will be some of the 100-person delegation of Omani businessmen who have made plans to visit Iran in the upcoming months to develop cross-country business ties.[2] Or perhaps those interested in furthering plans for a proposed natural gas pipeline that will run between Oman, Iran, and India.[3]

Since the final vestiges of Persian rule were finally cleared out of Oman in the 18th century, Oman and Iran have maintained fairly consistent friendly ties, even when such ties appeared to be inconsistent with Oman’s joining the GCC with its Saudi-led antipathy toward Iran.

Government Technology Defense

Aircraft Stories: The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (Part I)

Joint strike fighter of the US Navy, courtesy of Mark Schierbecker/wikimedia

This article was originally published May 16 2014 by The Disorder of Things.

How big is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter? By one set of measures, it is three times bigger than the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System, ten times bigger than either the Apollo Project or the International Space Station or Hurricane Katrina, or one hundred times bigger than the Panama Canal. These comparisons are only moderately outlandish. US$1.45 trillion is the Pentagon’s own December 2010 estimate of lifetime operating and supporting costs for the 2,443 copies of the F-35 currently on order by the United States government, which we can then compare to the known price tags, in 2007 dollars, of these five projects.[1] Costs—also variously prefaced as procurement, actual, sunk, fly-away, upgrade, true and so on—and their contestations are central to a discourse of accountancy that surrounds all projects that require large-scale mobilization of public power. But enormous as they are, these numbers still cannot capture the size of this particular weapons program. To understand just how big the F-35 is, I wish to suggest in this two-part post, we ought to conceive it as a proper assemblage—a heterogeneous association of human and nonhuman elements that is at once split, processual, emergent, and, most importantly, constitutive of the modern international.

Government Security Defense

French Warships Should go to Europe, not to Russia

Photo: Wikimedia commons.

This article was originally published by Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) on 13 May 2014.

While Germany has already put its arms exports to Russia on hold, this kind of decision is still due in France. In particular, one delicate deal, signed by Paris in 2011, is of considerable political and industrial importance: Up to four navy vessels of the Mistral type are to be delivered to Russia for 1.2 billion Euros; the first ship is to be supplied by the end of 2014. This kind of ship can accommodate troops, helicopters and serve as a landing craft for an invasion from sea to land. But it can also function as a swimming headquarters for all sorts of military operations or as a military hospital.

International Relations Security Terrorism

Brahimi Resignation Signals Geopolitical Shift Favoring Assad

Lakhdar Brahimi with his grandsons. Image: Wikipedia.

This article was originally published by IPI Global Observatory on 16 May 2014.

Lakhdar Brahimi, the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and League of Arab States for Syria, finally submitted his resignation, effective at the end of May. Brahimi was appointed by UN Secretary-General (SG) Ban Ki-moon in September 2012 to succeed the first special envoy, the former UNSG Kofi Annan.

While this was hardly unexpected, it carries significant symbolic meaning and offers insight into the emerging balance of power in the region.