The CSS Blog Network

The Real and Hidden Costs of Russia’s Foreign Policy

Image courtesy of Vitaly V. Kuzman. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

This article was originally published by the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) in February 2018.

Russia is set to hold presidential elections on 18 March 2018, and Vladimir Putin has expressed his intention to run for another term. His high approval ratings, the vast administrative resources at his disposal and the non-competitive political environment in Russia make the outcome a foregone conclusion. However, if the election result is predictable, it is still unclear what direction the country will take afterwards. In recent years, Russia has resorted more and more frequently to military force to advance its foreign policy objectives. This overreliance on force, however, came with a price tag attached. In this context, it is useful to explore whether Russia’s foreign policy will take a softer and more economic-oriented turn after the elections. Alternatively, if Russia continues down the same path, which factors will be responsible?

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Organized Crime: Fueling Corruption and Mali’s Desert War

Image courtesy of Magharebia/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

This article was originally published by IPI Global Observatory on 27 February 2018.

In discussions of Mali’s chronic problems, one factor tends to be overlooked: organized crime. Illicit activities have a long tradition in remote areas across the Sahel. Mali’s vast north, an area larger than France, is sparsely populated, and historically marginalized by the Malian state. Many people survive by smuggling items like subsidized food or cigarettes. Criminal rents are how people make a living in the marginalized north, but have also funded a myriad of armed groups and corruption networks. Efforts by international actors like the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSMA), or by regional alliances like the G5 Sahel, increasingly recognize the threat organized crime poses to regional security, governance, and economic development. But why have their efforts fallen short?

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A New Beginning for European Defence

Image courtesy of European Parliament/Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

It is time to move past institutional integration and develop practical European security capabilities.

Europe is facing multiple security challenges. Russia aims to undermine the European security order and has shown its willingness to violate other countries’ sovereignty and increase its nuclear power. The Middle East and North Africa are on fire, homegrown terrorism threatens the streets of Europe, and cyber and information warfare are on the rise.

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Turkey Invades, NATO Benefits

Image courtesy of Kaufdex/Pixabay

This article was originally published by Geopolitical Futures on 26 January 2018.

Less than a week after Turkey began its invasion of Afrin – the northwestern pocket of Syria that borders Turkey and is controlled by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG – NATO has voiced its consent of the operation. On a visit to Istanbul, NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller told a Turkish newspaper that NATO recognizes the threat terrorism poses to Turkey. While the language Gottemoeller used wasn’t highly specific, she was referring to the threat posed to Turkey by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, an internationally recognized terrorist group. Over the past three decades, the PKK has led an insurgency that has caused the deaths of roughly 40,000 people.

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New Protests in Tunisia, But is the Government Listening?

Image courtesy of 1266784/Pixabay

This article was originally published by IPI Global Observatory on 26 January 2018.

Seven years into a relatively peaceful political transition that has given Tunisia a reputation for stability, protests have again spread across the country. The successful adoption of an inclusive constitution, the enactment of laws prohibiting violence against women and girls, and the holding of free and fair elections have in themselves not been enough to address underlying structural problems that have persisted since the 2011 transition. While the political and social reality that demonstrators are responding to does require serious attention, there are also reasons to hope that the current juncture is an opportunity to build on Tunisia’s successes.

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