Entries with Categories Global Affairs Security and defence .

The deployment of nearly 19,000 peacekeepers has reduced violence, but human rights violations continue

President Joseph Kabila's leverage of power and social and tribal resentment have fueled violent conflict inside the Democratic Republic of the Congo over the past year and a half. So far, 3.9 million people have been displaced; In 2017 alone, 3,300 deaths were recorded. The UN intervention has reduced the levels of violence, but the conflict in Kasai province is still alive.

Forces of the mission statement UN Stabilization Agency in the DRC

▲Forces of the mission statement UN Stabilization Agency in the DRC [MONUSCO/Sylvain Liechti]

article / Eduardo Villa Corta

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is in the midst of a major civil crisis that has been going on for a long time. While this country has had numerous internal problems and conflicts, the one in the Kasai region, in the south-central part of the country, stands out for its high issue of deaths and human rights violations.

The origin of this conflict dates back to 2016, when President Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001, decided to delay the elections in order to remain in power longer. The death of his main opponent, Étienne Tshisekedi, facilitated Kabila's intentions to remain in the presidency, but he has since had to confront a civil service examination Kamuina Nsapu's militia.

To understand the status It is necessary to start from the tribal division present in the DRC. Territorial chiefdoms and divisions are administered by a traditional chief and his committee. These hereditary lines follow a succession process, which must be ratified by the Ministry of the Interior. In the case of the Kamuina Nsapu tribe, in January 2012 there was a problem with the access to the leadership of Jean Pierre Nsapu Pandi, because the Ministry of the Interior (appointed by Kabila) did not recognize the new leader. After some time, he received word that the Ministry had selected another chief from outside the tribe. This selection generated resentment that led to a revolt. From that moment on, Nsapu Pandi decided to start recruiting people in the area.

Among the reasons why this movement grew and expanded in the region is in the first place the status of widespread poverty. Given low living conditions and low economic growth, the leader's promises were a popular incentive. The knowledge of the language Local Tshilub and the Charisma itself staff Nsapu Pandi also helped him gain supporters, so that by the end of July 2016 some 800 young people were following him. It was then that the militia, called Kamuina Nsapu out of devotion to their leader and guide, the revolt began, with the burning of a police station 20 kilometers from the city of Tsimbulu.


The Kasai conflict, in the heart of the Congo


The conflict took a leap a few weeks later, when a clash broke out between police and military in Tsimbulu. The episode ended with Pandi's death order in combat, given by the president himself. From that moment on, the newly formed militia was grouped with the civil service examination Kabila and went from being a group to become a national one. It is now a militia in civil war with the government, in a confrontation that has devastated the Congolese population.

The Kamuina Nsapu militia and its atrocities had a swift response from Kabila. The latter responded with disproportionate and disproportionate force, since in their actions against the militia the authorities caused some 400 deaths in the first weeks, both among armed elements and among the civilian population. The group has grown exponentially due to the strong civil service examination Kabila, who nevertheless continues to hold power in Kasai to this day. Both sides of the conflict have been involved in atrocities and serious human rights violations.

The data about deaths and harm to people are not easy to obtain. According to sources in the Catholic Church, in 2017 alone the conflict caused at least 3,300 deaths. That same year, 1.7 million people left their homes and moved to neighbouring countries in search of asylum. To date, a total of 3.9 million people have been displaced. The conflict has exacerbated famine in the country, which has reached 7.7 million people. Of these, 3.3 million are located in the Kasai region, which is the hardest hit by the conflict. In January 2018, it was estimated at 400,000 issue of malnourished children. The numbers are only rising due to migration and the status of danger suffered by thousands of people. The DRC has order the World Bank $1.7 billion to be able to establish and help the population. But this sum has not been delivered nor has there been any financial contribution from any international organization.

The truth is that these atrocities are the responsibility of both sides in the conflict. The involvement of both parties can be seen in the finding of mass graves (80 have been found in the area) following a United Nations initiative. It showed that everything from beheadings to mutilations had been committed, and that the victims ranged from soldiers to children. The UN has sent observers and "blue helmets" to the area: a total of 19,000 troops whose troops are being sent to the area. mission statement It is to try to keep the peace, support civilians and investigate the events that happened. So far, 2,800 human rights violations have been recorded. At least two UN observers were beheaded in the Kasai region, which is difficult for international organisations to access due to government restrictions and the very unfolding of violence.

This conflict is based on social and tribal resentment and the struggle for control of the country. In order for the country to recover, both Kabila and the Kamuina Nsapu would have to reach some point in the country. subject complimentary. To achieve this, the international community should reiterate the pressure exerted in 2016 at the start of a conflict that has escalated over almost two years. The African Union and the UN should push both parties to the dispute towards a ceasefire, in mediation both regionally and extracontinentally. The most conducive solution to the stabilization of the country is the holding of free elections.

Categories Global Affairs: Africa Security and defence Articles

China, India and Japan are investing in their respective air forces with an eye on the neighbor

North Korea is making headlines about space-faring weaponry, but it is Asia's great powers – China, India and Japan – that are striving for full air potential.

Chinese J-20 Stealth Fighter

▲Chinese J-20 Stealth Fighter

article / Sebastian Bruzzone

North Korea is not the most powerful military air power in Asia. The exuberant parades and frequent ballistic missile launches by this nation are certainly far from their actual firepower, although they invest roughly 15% of their GDP in it. Military air hegemony is mainly in three centres-states:

Japan. The Japanese air force, established in 1954, combines its level of technique and sophistication with U.S. aircraft. Both countries, also with South Korea, carry out exercises in the airspace of the Pacific Ocean. Its aviation fleet varies from generation to generation. It has modern F-15 and F-2 aircraft manufactured by Mitsubishi Industries (Japanese, national company) and Lockheed Martin (American company), and older aircraft such as the Phantom F-4. Similarly, it has an early warning team and attendance and another for tanker planes to keep the rest of the aircraft in the air for as long as possible.

India. The Indian Air Force possesses Soviet and domestic technology, as well as a training system and management of the British Royal Air Force. Its fleet has 300 state-of-the-art fighters supplemented by older MiG-21s. In addition, 200 offensive ground attack aircraft and C-17 Globemasters in the field of logistics to ensure cargo transport and refueling and immediate warning.

China. Since the end of World War II, the Chinese government has invested in its aerial weaponry to become the continent's leading military power. Today, it has 600 fighters of the 4th and 4.5th generations, as well as the aircraft of the aforementioned countries. Unlike Japan and India, the main manufacturer of their equipment is the country itself and they have not been imported from any other nation. What stands out most about the Chinese Air Force is the evolution in recent years. It has gone from having a very large and poorly trained fleet to being made up of pilots who can spend more than 24 hours on a plane. However, the Chinese aviation industry still has quality issues in its engines. Still, we may be talking about the most important air power in Asia.

Categories Global Affairs: Asia Security and defense Articles

Great Wall of China, near Jinshanling

▲Great Wall of China, near Jinshanling [Jakub Halin-Wikimedia Commons]

COMMENTARY / Paulina Briz Aceves

The Great Wall of China was completed after decades of successive efforts by different dynasties, not only as a defensive line, but also as a sign of China's attitude towards the outside world. Although this wall currently has no use, other than to be a tourist attraction, it has been an example for the creation of another great wall, which, although not physical, has the same effects as the original: isolating the Chinese community from the outside world and protecting itself from attacks that threaten its sovereignty.

The "Great Firewall of China" – the government's online surveillance and censorship effort – monitors all traffic in Chinese cyberspace and allows authorities to both deny access to a variety of selected websites, and disconnect all Chinese networks from the Internet. network of the Internet. In addition to the Great Firewall, the Chinese government has also created a domestic surveillance system called the "Golden Shield," which is administered by the Ministry of Public Security and others Departments government and local agencies. The Chinese government understands how valuable and powerful technology, innovation, and the Internet are, which is why it is cautious about information disseminated on Chinese soil, due to its constant fear of possible questioning of the Communist Party and disruption of China's political order.

China's cyber policies and strategies are barely known in the international world, but what is known is that China's network security priorities are motivated by the goal the main challenge of the Communist Party to stay in power. China's rulers understand that cybernetics are something that is already fully integrated into society. Therefore, they believe that in order to maintain political stability, they must keep an eye on their citizens and control them, leaving them in the shadows by censoring not only general information, but also sensitive issues such as the massacre in the city. place Tiananmen or Hong Kong's Umbrella Revolution .

Filters that control what citizens see on the web have become more sophisticated. In addition, the government has employee around 100,000 people to monitor the Chinese internet, to control information not only coming from the West, but even that which is generated in China itself. It is true that this meddling in the media has undoubtedly caused the Chinese government to assert its power over society, because it is clear that whoever has the information definitely has the power.

Categories Global Affairs: Asia Security & Defense Comments

Mobilisation of the Royal Thai Armed Forces in 2010

▲Mobilisation of the Royal Thai Armed Forces in 2010 [Roland Dobbins-WC]

COMMENTARY / Álvaro Aramendi Baro

Terrorism is hitting harder and harder in Thailand. The causes of this incipient growth are difficult to pin down. However, the coup d'état of the Royal Armed Forces led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha on May 22, 2014 and, obviously, the subsequent political repressions played a very important role. Nor should we forget the pressure exerted by the BRN (Barisan Revolusi Nasional), which for decades has been fighting for the independence of Pattani (located in the south of Thailand). group revolutionary also operates in northern Malaysia. This terrorist organization is currently used by ISIS. ISIS's strategy, as well as that of Al-Qaeda, is based on encouraging and incentivizing nationalist insurgencies in order to have easier access to those territories under its target.

Despite this, the jihadist influence has taken different paths from those we already know, such as in Iraq or Syria. It is enough to follow the media to guess that the self-styled Islamic State prefers global media expansion to national expansion. This is not the case in Thailand. Both the objectives of terrorism and its communication strategy are national and rather hidden, in the shadows. Because of this, the relationship between them is not entirely evident today.

The status It's not what it should be. If there is one thing Thailand needs today, it is a period of peace in order to recover from past events. In the last century, there have been at least twelve successful coups d'état, the last of them, and not counting the one in 2014, in 2006. There is an urgent need for a quiet period in which to establish a strong foundation, and other structure, for its constitutional monarchy (similar to that of England).

Perhaps the best way to resolve the conflict is to avoid falling into the error of other countries, such as Burma or the Philippines, and to avoid strong repression. That is why, as Crisis Group warns, the best option would be dialogue and not the exclusion of ethnic minorities such as the Rohingya, in the case of Burma, or the Muslim community in Thailand (with a Buddhist majority). Should this happen, the terrorist pressure would become more and more unbearable, until the pot could only explode. Annexation to groups such as ISIS can occur for a variety of reasons, not adding one more to the list is essential.

Categories Global Affairs: Asia Security & Defense Comments

The new EU cooperation programme should lead to increased investment in security and defence.

After seven long years of hibernation, the European Union's Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) was launched on 11 December, with the aim of achieving greater convergence in security and defence matters, mission statement . The initiative represents a leap forward in the process of European integration, overcoming the period of stagnation and hesitation brought about by the last economic and financial crisis.

Soldiers carrying the European Union flag in front of the EU institutions, 2014.

Soldiers carrying the flag of the European Union in front of the EU institutions, in 2014 [European Parliament].

article / Manuel Lamela Gallego

The very year in which the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome was commemorated ended with a certain sense of vindication and reaffirmation on the part of the European Union and its member states, having succeeded against all odds in generating investment and cooperation in the areas of security and defence. The implementation of Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) is the response to the urgent need for investment in these two areas, a need that the EU has had for decades and that not even the failure in the Balkans managed to address.

We speak of reaffirmation in the face of the evident crisis that the European Union has suffered in recent years, when doubts have been raised about its own continuity. Despite this delicate situation status, the EU has acted with admirable flexibility and has considered its own role on the world stage with the aim of continuing to make a positive difference in the world goal . It is in this context of reflection and change that the launch of PESCO should be framed.

To this recent loss of credibility must be added the collection of 'failures' that the EU has accumulated in generating a common defence strategy. Javier Solana's words in 2003 acknowledging the failure and fracture of the Union in the Iraq crisis management cast a shadow of impotence and ineptitude that the EU has so far been unable to shake off. area The implementation of PESCO represents a great flash of light in Europe's external action, as it demonstrates the unity within the European project in the highly sensitive area of security and defence.   

In this way, and in compliance with the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty, on 13 November, and after several months of insistence by the European committee , 23 Member States signed a notification that represents the first step towards the implementation of Permanent Structured Cooperation. This moment was declared "historic" by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. This is undoubtedly a turning point in the history of the European Union, since after several decades it has managed to break with the tendency to reduce European cooperation to the sphere of economic integration. PESCO aspires to lay the foundations from which, with truly binding projects, common and shared strategies can be generated that will gradually shape the new Europe of security and defence. In its measure, Permanent Structured Cooperation is positioned like the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) Commission, whose decision-making dimension was one of the pillars for the expansion of European supranationalism into other, more ambitious areas.      

Legal basis

The legal basis for PESCO is found in Articles 42(6) and 46, together with protocol issue 10, of the Lisbon Treaty (2009).

article 42(6): "Member States which fulfil higher military capability criteria and which have made more binding commitments on subject to perform the most demanding tasks will establish permanent structured cooperation on framework of the Union. This cooperation shall be governed by article 46 and shall not affect the provisions of article 43".

If anything should be emphasised about the Permanent Structured Cooperation it is its binding nature, whereby states will be truly bound by their commitments, as we can see from article 46(4): "If a participating Member State no longer fulfils the criteria or can no longer assume the commitments referred to in Articles 1 and 2 of the protocol on permanent structured cooperation, the committee may adopt a decision suspending the participation of that State".

PESCO's lack of influence over state sovereignty is one of its fundamental characteristics. This is clearly reflected in articles 46(5) and 46(6) of the Lisbon Treaty. The first clarifies the steps to be taken by a Member State to leave project: it need only notify committee of its intention to leave withdrawal. The second deals with decision-making within the Permanent Structured Cooperation: decisions will be taken unanimously, in a unanimity constituted by the votes of the representatives of all Member States participating in PESCO.

expense of 2% of

On 11 December, the European committee finally decided to launch PESCO, an initiative that Ireland and Portugal joined, bringing the issue membership to 25 countries. This led to the adoption of the first 17 projects on which participating states commit to cooperate and which will be formally adopted by committee in 2018. These projects will cover various areas of European security and defence, such as the training of troops or the standardisation and facilitation of cross-border military transport (the latter of which has been in high demand by NATO in recent years). In addition to this list of projects, it is worth highlighting the commitment of states to steadily and continuously increase defence budgets in real terms. After several years of economic and financial recession in most European states, defence spending falls short of the 2% of GDP agreed at the NATO summit in Wales in 2014. This is undoubtedly one of the most important tasks for PESCO to fulfil in order to continue with a stable development .

The Permanent Structured Cooperation initiative was taken by France, Germany, Spain and Italy, which confirms the functioning of the two-speed Europe, although in the end project has been joined by practically the entire Union, with the only absences being Malta, Denmark (which does not participate in European defence) and obviously the United Kingdom, which is planning to leave in March 2019. It remains to be seen whether this high participation does not jeopardise the initial ambition of project. Although the very nature of PESCO facilitates the coexistence of the two Europes as long as the minimum commitments are met.

The friction that PESCO and NATO may have or the future position that the UK will hold in European defence after its exit from the EU are other questions that PESCO raises. Only its implementation will dispel these uncertainties. Leaving these doubts aside for a moment, what can be said is that Permanent Structured Cooperation opens up a wide horizon and that it is exclusively in the hands of European citizens to take advantage of it.

As the current French Minister of Economics and Finance, Bruno le Maire, says: "Europe is not a certainty, it is a fight".



Council of the EU. (11 December 2017). Retrieved from Cooperation on subject defence: statement press

Council of the European Union (2017). Legislative acts and other instruments (PESCO), (p. 20). Brussels.

European Union (2009). Treaty of Lisbon. Lisbon, Portugal.

The Council and the High Representative of foreign affairs and security policy (2017). Notification on Permanent Structured Cooperation, (p. 10).

Categories Global Affairs: European Union Security and defence Articles

Moscow continues militarization of the peninsula to prevent other forces from entering the region

Since the turn of the century, Russia had been losing economic, political and military influence in several Black Sea littoral countries; the seizure of Crimea attempted to correct the status. The Kremlin has just deployed a new missile group on the peninsula, in the framework of a long-term rearmament program deadline that seeks to ensure that operationally the Black Sea is a Russian 'lake'.

▲Putin in Sevastopol during the 2014 celebration of the victory in World War II [Kremlin].

article / Vitaliy Stepanyuk

"The bear will not ask anyone's permission." This was the allegory used by Russian President Vladimir Putin, at a Valdai Discussion Club meeting in October 2014, to reflect that Russia will not seek anyone's permission when pursuing its national interests and those of its people.

These words were pronounced a few months after the Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula. The process of change of government had been initiated and troops had been mobilized to the newly incorporated territory, making any subject Ukrainian intervention to regain their land impossible. Approximately four years later, the militarization of the peninsula continues its course by the Russian Federation.

Thus, the deployment of a new defense system in Crimea has just become known, an action justified by Moscow as a measure to protect the airspace over the Russian-Ukrainian border, and also to deal with continued threatening activity on the border, arising mainly from the presence of NATO.

Since the occupation of Crimea, the Kremlin has initiated a long-term rearmament program deadline to achieve a zone (A2/AD) that would prevent other forces from accessing the region. This zone would limit the freedom of both air and ground maneuver for potential invaders. Together with other missile systems in Armenia, Krasnodar and elsewhere, this establishes a truly comprehensive anti-access zone. The establishment of advanced defense systems, the update of radars, the modernization of the Black Sea Fleet and the deployment of fighter aircraft are some of the initiatives undertaken to create such a blockade zone against any outside advance. In the coming years, six new attack submarines and six new surface ships are planned to be added to that Fleet, which could operate beyond the Black Sea, even supporting military operations in Syria.

Moving away from the old satellites

The increase in NATO troops and their presence in countries bordering Russia is seen by Russia as a threat to its security. Countries such as Poland, where NATO mobilized in January 2017 about 3.500 soldiers, and others such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary see the deployment as necessary in view of the status occurred in Ukraine and Russian military exercises near their borders: a clear example is Zapad 2017, a set of strategic and military exercises carried out jointly by Russian and Belarusian troops, in Belarus, in the Kaliningrad Oblast and along the entire northern strip bordering NATO countries.

Map from Wikimedia Commons

Looking back over the recent history of the last 20 years, we can see how Russia has been losing economic, political and military influence over the territories bordering the Black Sea since the beginning of the century. Thus, in Georgia (2004) and Ukraine (2005), more pro-Russian presidents were replaced by more pro-Western ones. In addition, Bulgaria and Romania had become members of NATO, while Georgia and Ukraine were working on it.

Operations in the Black Sea area

Threatened by this status, Russia decided to do everything possible to prevent Georgia and Ukraine from becoming NATO members, while at the same time developing strategies to remove the remaining states from NATO's influence.

With the invasion of Georgia in 2008, the Kremlin showed its determination to contain NATO, maintaining to this day a B military influence in various regions of that country. The same happened in Ukraine after the flight of former President Viktor Yanukovych, when Russia invaded Crimea in March 2014. In this way, it secured control over the naval base of its Black Sea Fleet located in Sevastopol (Crimea). It also militarily supports pro-Russian separatists in the war in Eastern Ukraine, destabilizing the country.

In other countries bordering the Black Sea, Russia has acted differently. In the case of Bulgaria and Romania, the only countries bordering the Black Sea that are members of the European Union, Russian influence prevails in supporting pro-Russian political parties and establishing strong ties at subject business. However, Romania is another region that constitutes a challenge to Russian foreign policy, due to its impetus in defending NATO's presence in the Black Sea.

In the case of Turkey, which unlike several of the countries mentioned above was not part of the USSR or the Soviet bloc, the Kremlin has supported the authoritarianism carried out by the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, seeking mainly two basic objectives: to dissociate Turkey from NATO, to which it has belonged almost since its beginnings (1952), and to ensure its friendship with the country that exercises control over the Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits, which allow access to the Mediterranean Sea. If Turkey were to close the straits, the Russian fleet would be isolated and unable to exert its influence beyond the Black Sea. This could happen if Turkey and Russia were to find themselves at odds with each other in a conflict. In such a case, as the second strongest military power in the region, Turkey could be a clear threat to isolated Russian troops. On the other hand, the relationship with Turkey presents numerous challenges for Moscow: one example is the disagreement over the Syrian conflict, where Turkey opposes the Assad regime, while Russia supports it. 

Importance of the Black Sea

At final, Russia seeks to strengthen its influence and dominance over the Black Sea. This is mainly due to some essential characteristics: firstly, this sea is an important strategic point, as it would allow access to the various adjoining territories; secondly, control over ports and trade routes would give the power to obstruct trade and energy supplies (it is a territory crossed by a multitude of energy transport pipelines); finally, Russia could greatly influence regions that share a common history with Russia, infringing on its relationship with NATO.

Immediate challenge

In conclusion, it is interesting to understand that the main challenge facing Russia is to maintain the status quo, according to Yuval Weber, a professor at Harvard University. To do so, Russia has to be able to maintain the separatist group in the Ukrainian war, until the Kiev government falls and can then engage in conversation with a possible puppet government that will accept a solution on Russian terms. However, maintaining such a state of affairs implies having to deal simultaneously with international intervention and Russia's own weak domestic economic status , where there is growing social dissatisfaction over wages, cutbacks in services, poverty in some regions, among other problems.

Both Russia's internal and external status , as well as that of its territories of influence, are contingent on the results of the upcoming Russian presidential elections, to be held on March 18, 2018. The World Cup is not the only thing at stake.

Categories Global Affairs: Central Europe and Russia Security and defense Articles

▲Trilateral summit of Russia, Turkey and Iran in Sochi in November 2017 [Turkish Presidency].

ANALYSIS / Albert Vidal and Alba Redondo [English version].

Turkey's response to the Syrian Civil War (SCW) has gone through several phases, conditioned by the changing circumstances of the conflict, both domestically and internationally: from giving support to Sunni rebels with questionable affiliations, to being one of the targets of the Islamic State (ISIS), to a failed coup attempt in 2016, and always conditioning its foreign policy decisions on the Kurdish issue. Despite an initially aggressive stance against Assad at the beginning of the Syrian war, the success and growing strength of the Kurdish civil service examination , such as result of its role in the anti-ISIS coalition, has significantly influenced Turkey's foreign policy .

Relations between Turkey and Syria have been fraught with difficulties for the past century. The Euphrates River, which originates in Turkey, has been one of the main causes of confrontation between the two countries. Turkey's construction of dams limits the flow of water to Syria, causing losses in its agriculture and generating a negative impact on the Syrian Economics . This problem is not limited to the past, as currently the project GAP (project of Southeastern Anatolia) threatens to further compromise the water supply of Iraq and Syria through the construction of 22 dams and 19 hydroelectric dams in southern Turkey.

In addition to disputes over natural resources, Hafez al-Assad's support for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the 1980s and 1990s greatly hindered relations between the two countries. However, conflict was avoided altogether with the signature of the protocol of Adana in 1998. Another source of discord between Syria and Turkey has been the territorial claims made by both nations over the province of Hatay, still claimed by Syria, but administered by Turkey, which incorporated it into its territory in 1939.

Despite the above issues, Syria and Turkey enjoyed a good relationship during the decade leading up to the Arab Spring and the revolutions of the summer of 2011. The international response to the Syrian regime's reaction to the uprisings was mixed, and Turkey was unsure of what position to take until, in the end, it chose to support the rebel civil service examination . Thus, Turkey offered protection on its territory to the rebels and opened its borders to Syrian refugees. This decision signaled the initial stage of the decline in Syrian-Turkish relations, but the status significantly worsened after the downing of a Turkish plane on June 22, 2012 by Syrian forces. This resulted in border clashes, but without the direct intervention of the Turkish Armed Forces.

From a foreign policy perspective, there were two main reasons for reversing Turkey's non-intervention policy. The first reason was a growing series of Islamic State (ISIS) attacks in July 2015 in Suruc, Central Station in Ankara and Atatürk Airport in Istanbul. The second, and arguably the most important reason, was Turkey's fear of the creation of a Kurdish proto-state in its neighboring countries: Syria and Iraq. This led to the launch of Operation Euphrates Shield (also known as the Jarablus Offensive), considered one of Turkey's first direct military actions in Syria since the SCW began. The main goal was to secure a area in northern Syria free from control of ISIS and Democratic Union Party (PYD) factions. The Jarablus Offensive was supported by article 51 of the UN Charter (the right of nations to self-defense), as well as several UN Security committee resolutions (Nos. 1373, 2170, 2178) pertaining to the global responsibility of countries to fight terrorism. Despite being successful in achieving its objectives, the Jarablus offensive ended prematurely in March 2017, without Turkey ruling out the possibility of similar future interventions.

Internally, Erdogan's military intervention and assertive posturing aimed to gain public support from Turkish nationalist parties, especially the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Grand Unity Party (BBP), as well as general public backing for the constitutional changes then being proposed. That would give Erdogan greater executive powers as president. Consequently, a foreign distraction campaign was more than welcome, given the growing domestic unrest and general discontent, following the coup attempt in July 2016.

Despite Turkey's assertiveness sample towards Syria, Turkish military intervention does not indicate strength. On the contrary, Erdogan's actual invasion of northern Syria occurred in the wake of disputes (between Syria and Iraq) that threatened to undermine Turkish objectives, both at home and abroad. Thus, limited United States (US) interference and the failure of rebel forces to topple the Assad regime meant the perpetuation of the terrorist threat; and, more importantly, the continued strengthening of Kurdish factions, which posed the most effective force against ISIS. Indeed, the Kurds' success in the anti-ISIS coalition had helped them gain worldwide recognition similar to that of most nation-states; recognition that meant increased financial support and increased provision of weapons. A Kurdish region, armed and gaining legitimacy for its efforts in the fight against ISIS, is undoubtedly the main reason for Turkish military intervention. In any case, the growing Kurdish influence has resulted in Turkey's shifting and ambiguous attitude towards Assad throughout the SCW.


▲visit of Erdogan to the command of Operation Olive Branch, January 2018 [Presidency of Turkey].


Turkey's changing stance on Assad

While Turkey aggressively supported Assad's ouster at the beginning of the SCW, this stance has increasingly taken a back seat to other more important issues of Turkey's foreign policy with its neighboring states, Syria and Iraq. Indeed, recent statements by Turkish officials openly acknowledge the resilience of the Assad government, a fact that opens the door to future reconciliation between the two sides. These statements also reinforce a very profuse view, according to which, Assad will be a piece core topic in any future agreement on Syria. Thus, on January 20, 2017, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek said,"We cannot keep saying that Assad should go. A agreement without Assad is not realistic."

This easing of rhetoric towards Assad coincides with a positive shift in Turkey's relations with the Syrian regime's allies in the conflict (Iran and Russia), in its attempts to bring about a resolution of the conflict. However, the official Turkish position towards Assad lacks consistency, and appears to be highly dependent on circumstances.

Recently, a war of words initiated by Erdogan with the Syrian president took place, in which the Turkish president accused Assad of being a terrorist. Moreover, Erdogan rejected any subject negotiations with Assad on the future of Syria. For his part, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem responded by accusing Erdogan of being manager of the bloodshed of the Syrian people. On January 2, 2018, forces loyal to Assad fired shells towards Turkish territory. Such a launch prompted an immediate response from Turkey. On January 18, Mevlüt Çavusoglu (Turkish Foreign Minister) announced that his country intended to carry out an air intervention in the Syrian regions of Afrin and Manbij.

A few days later, Operation Olive Branch was launched, under the pretext of creating a "security zone" in Afrin (in Syria's Aleppo province); although it has focused almost entirely on expelling what Erdogan calls Kurdish "terrorists," which are actually composed of Kurdish factions backed by the U.S. These Kurdish groups have played a crucial role in the anti-ISIS coalition. The operation was reportedly launched in response to U.S. plans to create a border force of 30,000 Syrian Kurds. Erdogan stated in a recent speech :"A country we call an ally insists on forming a terror army on our borders. Who can that terrorist army attack if not Turkey? Our mission statement is to strangle it before it is born." This has significantly worsened relations between the two countries, and triggered an official NATO response, in an attempt to avoid confrontation between NATO allies in Manbij.

The US is seeking a balance between the Kurds and Turkey in the region, but has maintained its formal support for the SDF. However, according to analyst Nicholas Heras, the US will not help the Kurds in Afrin, as it will only intervene in the areas of mission statement against ISIS; starting from Manbij and towards the East (thus Afrin is not under US military protection).

Impact of the Syrian conflict on Turkey's International Office

The Syrian conflict has had a strong impact on Turkish relations with a wide range of international actors; of which the most important for both Turkey and the conflict are Russia, the United States, the European Union and Iran.

The downing of a Russian SU-24 aircraft in 2015 led to a deterioration of relations between Russia and Turkey. However, thanks to the Turkish president's apology to Putin in June 2016, relations normalized, ushering in a new era of cooperation between the two countries. This cooperation reached its pinnacle in September of the same year when Turkey purchased an S-400 defense missile system from Russia, despite warnings from its NATO allies. In addition, the Russian business ROSATOM has planned to build a nuclear power plant in Turkey worth $20 billion. Thus, the partnership between the two nations has been strengthened in the military and economic spheres.

However, despite the rapprochement, there are still significant differences between the two countries, particularly with regard to foreign policy perspectives. On the one hand, Russia sees the Kurds as important allies in the fight against ISIS; and considers them essential members in the post-conflict peaceful resolution (PCR) meetings. On the other hand, Turkey's priority is to bring democracy to Syria and prevent Kurdish federalism, which translates into its refusal to include the Kurds in PCR talks. Nevertheless, the ties between Turkey and Russia seem to be quite strong at the moment. This may be due to the fact that the (in Turkey's case, increasing) hostility of both countries towards their Western counterparts outweighs their differences regarding the Syrian conflict.

The relationship between Turkey and the United States is more ambiguous. As important members of NATO, both countries share important ties from work. However, looking at recent developments, one can see how these relations have been deteriorating. The main problem between Washington and Ankara has been the Kurdish issue. The US supports the People's Protection Units (YPG) militias in the SCW, however, the YPG is considered a terrorist group by Turkey. It is not yet known how their relationship will evolve, but possibly both sides will reach a agreement regarding the Kurdish issue. As of today (January 2018), the confrontation in northern Syria is at a stalemate. On the one hand, Turkey does not intend to give in on the Kurdish issue, and on the other hand, the US would lose its prestige as a superpower if it decided to succumb to Turkish demands. Support for the Kurds has traditionally been based on their role in the anti-ISIS campaign. However, as the campaign winds down, the US is finding itself in a bind trying to justify its presence in Syria in any way it can. Its presence is crucial to maintain its influence in the region and, more importantly, to prevent Russian and Iranian domination of the contested theater.

The US refusal to extradite Fethullah Gülen, a bitter enemy who, according to Ankara, was one of the instigators of the failed 2016 coup, has further strained their relations. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, only 10% of Turks trust President Donald Trump. In turn, Turkey recently declared that its agreements with the U.S. are losing validity. Erdogan subryaed that the dissolution of ties between the two countries would seriously affect the legal and economic sphere. In addition, Turkey's Zarrab was convicted in a trial in New York, for helping Iran evade sanctions by enabling a money laundering scheme, which was filtered through US banks. This has been a big problem for Turkey, as one of the defendants had ties to Erdogan's AKP party. However, Erdogan has called the trial a continuation of the coup attempt, and has dealt with potential criticism by organizing a media campaign to spread the idea that Zarrab was one of the perpetrators of the conspiracy against Turkey in 2016.

With respect to the European Union, relations have also deteriorated, despite the fact that Turkey and the EU have strong economic ties. As result of Erdogan's "purge" after the failed coup, the continued deterioration of freedoms in Turkey has strained relations with Europe. In November 2016, the European Parliament voted in favor of fail EU accession negotiations with Turkey, justifying its decision on the abuse of human rights and the decline of the rule of law in Turkey. By increasingly adopting the practices of an autocratic regime, Turkey's accession to the EU is becoming impossible. In a recent meeting between the Turkish and French presidents, French President Emmanuel Macron emphasized the ties between the EU and Turkey, but suggested that there was no realistic chance of Turkey joining the EU in the near future.

Since 2017, after Erdogan's victory in the constitutional referendum in favor of changing the system (from a parliamentary to a presidential system), EU accession negotiations have ceased. In addition, several European bodies, which deal with human rights issues, have placed Turkey on a "black" list, based a assessment, according to which the state of democracy in Turkey is in serious danger due to the AKP.

Another topic related to the Syrian conflict between the EU and Turkey is refugees. In 2016, the EU and Turkey agreed to transfer €6 billion to support Turkish reception of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. While this appeared to be the beginning of a fruitful cooperation, tensions have continued to rise due to Turkey's limited capacity to host such issue of refugees. The humanitarian crisis in Syria is unsustainable: more than 5 million refugees have left the country and only a small issue of them have received sufficient resources to restart their lives. This problem continues to grow day by day, and more than 6 million Syrians have been displaced within its borders. Turkey hosts, as of today, more than 3 million Syrian refugees and, consequently, Ankara's policies have result been greatly influenced by this crisis. On January 23, President Erdogan stated that Turkey' s military operations in Syria would end when all Syrian refugees in Turkey could return safely to their country. The humanitarian financial aid is being sent to civilians in Afrin, where Turkey launched the latest offensive against Kurdish YPG militiamen.

Regarding the relationship between Iraq and Turkey, in November 2016, when Iraqi forces arrived in Mosul to fight against the Islamic State, Ankara announced that it would send the army to the Iraqi border, to prepare for possible developments in the region. The Turkish Defense Minister added that he would not hesitate to act if Turkey's red line was crossed. This received an immediate response from Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi, who warned Turkey not to invade Iraq. Despite this, in April 2017, Erdogan suggested that in future stages, Operation Euphrates Shield would be extended to Iraqi territory: "a future operation will not only have a Syrian dimension, but also an Iraqi dimension. Al Afar, Mosul and Sinjar are in Iraq."

Finally, Russia, Turkey and Iran have cooperated in the framework Astana negotiations for peace in Syria, despite having somewhat divergent interests. In a recent call between Iranian President Rouhani and Erdogan, the Turkish president expressed his hope that the protests in Iran, which occurred in late 2017, will end. The relations between the two countries are strange: in the SCW, Iran supports the Syrian (Shiite) government, while Turkey supports the Syrian (Sunni) civil service examination . Something similar happened in the 2015 intervention in Yemen, where Turkey and Iran supported the opposing factions. This has led to disputes between the leaders of the two countries, however, such tensions have eased since Erdogan made a visit to Iran to improve their relationship. The Qatar diplomatic crisis has also contributed to this dynamic, as it positioned Iran and Turkey against Saudi Arabia and in favor of Qatar. Although there is an enduring element of instability in relations between the two countries, their relationship has been improving in recent months as Ankara, Moscow and Tehran have managed to cooperate in an attempt to overcome their differences to find a solution to the Syrian conflict.

What lies ahead for Turkey in Syria?

Thanks to the negotiations in Astana, a future agreement peace in the region seems possible. The "cessation of hostilities" zones are a necessary first step, to preserve some areas from the violence of war, as outlined in the Turkish strategic plan from the beginning. That said, the result is complicated by a number of factors: the strength of the Kurdish factions is a major element of discord, as well as a source of conflict for the powerful who will manage the post-conflict transition.

There are two main factors that have clearly impacted Turkey's foreign policy decisions regarding the Syrian conflict. The first has to do with the long and complex history of Turkey and its Kurdish minorities, as well as its obsession with preventing the Kurds from achieving a Degree territorial autonomy. If achieved, this would embolden the Turkish Kurds and threaten Turkey's territorial integrity. Turkey unilaterally attacked positions of the Kurdish civil service examination , including some backed by a NATO ally (the US), thus demonstrating how far it is capable of going to ensure that the Kurds are not part of the solution at the end of the civil war. All this produces uncertainty and increases the chances of new conflicts in Syria.

The second factor is related to the changing nature of the government in Turkey, with a move away from the Western-democratic model towards a more authoritarian and quasi-theocratic model , taking Russia and Iran as political allies. In its pivot to the east, Turkey maintains a fragile balance, considering that its objectives differ from those of its new friends (Russia and Iran), with respect to the political result in Syria. Recent developments indicate, however, that Turkey seems to be reaching a agreement on the Assad issue, in exchange for more flexibility in dealing with the Kurdish issue (part of the anti-ISIS coalition), which it considers a threat to its national security.

Currently, in January 2018, the relationship between Turkey and the U.S. appears to be at an impasse, especially in relation to the U.S.-backed group SDF. Erdogan has stated that, after his operation in Afrin, he will continue with a move towards Manbij. Therefore, under NATO auspices, a agreement is being negotiated to clearly delineate the areas in which both countries are militarily active. There is great uncertainty as to how long such partition agreements (under the guise of an anti-ISIS coalition) can last before a new conflict breaks out. However, it seems likely that one of the two possible scenarios will occur to avoid the possible outbreak of war between the great powers in the Middle East.

There are two options. Either a agreement is reached regarding the future role of the SDF and other Kurdish factions, with Turkey's consent, or else the US will withdraw its support for the Kurds, based on the mandate that their alliance was limited to joint fighting in the anti-ISIS coalition. In the latter case, the US risks losing the political and military advantage that the Kurds give it in the region. It also risks losing the confidence of its Kurdish allies, a fact that could have serious strategic repercussions for US involvement in this region.

Categories Global Affairs: Security and defense Middle East Analysis

▲The H6K of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force, in flight over the Pacific


COMMENTARY / Ignacio Cristóbal Urbicain* [English version]

Only three countries in the world have strategic or long-range bombers (the US, Russia and China). The mission statement of this subject Weapons is to project the force at very long distances, usually within enemy airspace in order to destroy, with its significant armament load, strategic objectives, i.e. industry, infrastructure, logistics, etc. It is also an important deterrent.

In the case of China, its strategic aviation mainly has the latter mission statement with respect to the defence of their interests by projecting a threat to very distant distances, i.e. avoiding rapprochement and entrance of the U.S. Navy's battle groups (aircraft carriers and attack cruisers) to the South China Sea.

For this task, China has the Xian H-6. This aircraft is a derivation of the Russian Tupolev Tu-16 developed 60 years ago. In 2007, the Chinese modernized their H-6s by changing the old engines to reach a longer range (3,500 km). Again Russian engines were chosen, although there are sources who have said that a new Chinese engine (WS-18) is being developed. A general electronic modernization and the air-to-ground radar were also carried out. Their ability to pursue targets is unknown. The bomb bay was reduced to put another inner fuel tank and modified to house the Wayside Cross CJ-10 with a range of 2,200 km. In this way, the H-6K was created, much more modern than the previous version, which maintains the possibility of carrying nuclear weapons, as well as the YJ-12 supersonic anti-ship missiles.

A squadron of 15 of these aircraft (i.e., the issue that Jane's Defence thinks are in service) can fire around 100 missiles, creating a major problem for a number of naval with bad intentions. Note also that in recent weeks the H-6Ks have been seen for the first time with bombs on the outer wing mounts.

The future

In December 2016, sources in the Chinese Ministry of Defense confirmed the rumors about the development of a new long-range bomber. This new project it's probably sneaky (very leave It can be used to ensure that it has been able to load a large amount of conventional weaponry in an internal hold, which will improve stealth against enemy radars.    

The designation is currently H-X, although Jane's Defense already calls it H-20. It appears that the bomber will not have the capability to carry nuclear weapons, as China has a "no strike first" nuclear policy, meaning it will not be the one to start a conflict with nuclear weapons. For all these reasons, it has a nuclear arsenal linked to the idea that the country would survive a first attack and would be able torefund the coup.

The function of this new bomber will be to ensure that a force of American aircraft carriers with their group closer than it should to their areas of interest. These aircraft, carrying long-range air-to-surface missiles against such well-defended naval groupings, will be one of the three legs of Chinese deterrence. The other two are attack submarines and ballistic missiles.

Probably your design, commissioned to Xian Aircraft Corporation, is similar to the American B-2 bomber, following the Chinese tradition of practically copying Western models (the J-20 fighter is similar to the American F-22) and its first flight may be in 2025. Another question is when it will be operational, but seeing what the first flight of the J-20 has cost and its operability, it seems very distant in time. Hence the modernization of the H-6 discussed at the beginning of the article.

Fighter jets are very complex weapons systems and it is not enough for them to fly. They must do so with the characteristics for which they have been designed. In this case, China has historically been heavily dependent on Russian engines. Theirs have not worked as expected. Not to mention electronics, which in this field the U.S. still beats it by far.

*Teacher School of Economics and Business, University of Navarra

Categories Global Affairs: Asia Security & Defense Comments

The well-trodden step, decisive in the strategies of both countries to counter each other

A thermometer to measure the future pulse of forces between China and India will be the Strait of Malacca, a passage through the Strait of Malay core topic for the connection between the northern Indian Ocean and the Asia-Pacific region. India is responding to the further expansion of Chinese maritime interests, which force Beijing to pay close attention to Malacca, by advancing positions towards the western mouth of the strait.

▲Map of the Indo-Pacific [US DoD]

article / Alejandro Puigrefagut [English version]

Sea routes are the basis of trade and communication between more than 80% of the world's countries. This fact makes the natural geographical location of States of great strategic importance. A particularly important point for maritime traffic is the Strait of Malacca. core topic for the trade of the most populous region on the planet.

The Strait of Malacca, which links the South China Sea with the Burma Sea on its way to the Bay of Bengal, is the world's busiest commercial passage and is therefore a strategic location. This corridor , which surrounds the western coast of the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is used by approximately 60% of the world's maritime trade, exceeding one hundred and fifty ships per day, and is the main oil supply route for two of Asia's main consumers: the People's Republic of China and Japan. This geographical point is core topic for the entire Indo-Pacific region, ensuring the free movement of ships is strategic. That is why many states in the region, including China and the United States, see the need to protect this passage in order to be able to supply themselves, export their goods and not be blocked by the control of a third country over this area.

In relation to China, it is not easy to think that a blockade of its supply due to problems in the Strait of Malacca will happen. For this to happen, an armed conflict of extraordinary dimensions would have to be generated, propitiating this blockade by a subject that could control – and potentially interrupt – the passage to the other countries of the region. This potential risk, which today can only be generated by the U.S. Navy, forces China to be vigilant and have to develop sufficient military capabilities to protect what it considers its territories in the South China Sea and, by extension, the supply of vital resources that must necessarily pass through the Strait of Malacca.



The Asian giant's positions and presence in the South China Sea and in the areas adjacent to the Strait of Malacca have increased in recent years, with the aim of increasing its influence over the states of the region. Moreover, in order to defend its supplies of oil and natural gas (from the Persian Gulf), China has extended its presence to the Indian Ocean, although this is not enough. The reality is that in this area there is a large skill between two of the most influential Asian powers in the region: China and India. Due to the growing presence and influence of the People's Republic in the Indian Ocean, India has been forced to take proactive measures to improve peace and stability in the region, mobilizing and expanding its presence from its east coast to the vicinity of the Strait, in order to rebalance the regional balance of power. In this way, India can dominate the western access to the Strait and, consequently, have a longer reaction time to manoeuvre in the Indian Ocean as well as in the Strait itself and even access the waters of the South China Sea more quickly.

At the same time, India's growing approach to the South China Sea is watched with concern in Beijing, and some analysts even see India as a threat in the hypothetical case of a war between the two regional powers and India blocks the Strait and, therefore, China's access to certain raw materials and other resources. For this reason, China has conducted a number of joint military exercises with third States in the Strait of Malacca over the past three years, especially with Malaysia. During the first exercises in the area, the Ministry of Defense of the People's Republic of China concluded that bilateral relations with Malaysia were strengthened in terms of security and defense cooperation and that the joint response capability to security threats was "increased." In addition, for China, the protection of the Strait is a priority because of its great strategic value and because countries such as the United States are a key factor in the protection of the Strait . The U.S. and Japan also want to control it.

Categories Global Affairs: Asia Security & Defence World Order, Diplomacy & Governance Articles

[Admiral James Stavridis, Sea Power. The History and Geopolitics of the World's Oceans. Penguin Press. New York City, 2017. 363 pages]


review / Iñigo Bronte Barea [English version].

In the era of globalisation and its communication society, where everything is closer and distances seem to fade away, the body of water between continents has not lost the strategic value it has always had. Historically, the seas have been both a channel for human development and instruments of geopolitical domination. It is no coincidence that the great world powers of the last 200 years have themselves been great naval powers. The dispute over maritime space is still going on today and there is nothing to suggest that the geopolitics of the seas will cease to be crucial in the future.

These principles on the importance of maritime powers have changed little since they were set out in the late 19th century by Alfred T. Mahan. Today, Sea Power. The History and Geopolitics of the World's Oceans, by Admiral James G. Stavridis, who retired in 2013 after leading the US Southern Command, the US European Command and the supreme command of NATO.

The book is the fruit of Mahan's early reading and an extensive degree program of nearly four decades on the seas and oceans with the US Navy. At the beginning of each explanation of the different sea spaces, Stavridis recounts his brief experience in that sea or ocean, then continues with the history, and the development they have had, until arriving at their current context. Finally, there is a projection of the near future of the world from the perspective of marine geopolitics.

Pacific: China's emergence

Admiral J.G. Stavridis begins his voyage in the Pacific Ocean, which he categorises as "the mother of all oceans" because of its immensity, since it alone is larger than the entire land surface of the planet combined. Another remarkable point is that in its vastness there is no considerable landmass, although there are islands all over the world subject, with very diverse cultures. This is why the sea dominates the geography of the Pacific like nowhere else on the planet.


The great dominator of this marine space is Australia, which is very much aware of what might happen politically in the island archipelagos in its vicinity. It was Europeans, however, who explored the Pacific well (Magellan was the first, around 1500) and tried to connect it with their world in a way that was not merely transitory and commercial, but stable and lasting.

The United States began its presence in the Pacific with the acquisition of California (1840), but it was not until the annexation of Hawaii (1898) that the huge country was definitively catapulted into the Pacific. The first time this ocean emerged as a total war zone was in 1941 when Pearl Harbour was massacred by the Japanese.

With the return of peace, the Japanese revival and the emergence of China, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong caused trans-Pacific trade to overtake the Atlantic for the first time in the 1980s, and this trend is still continuing. This is because the Pacific region contains the world's major powers on its shores.

degree program At area geopolitics a major arms race is taking place in the Pacific, with North Korea as a major focus of global tension and uncertainty.

Atlantic: from the Panama Canal to NATO

As for the Atlantic Ocean, Stavridis refers to it as the cradle of civilisation, since the Mediterranean is included among its territories, and even more so if we consider it as the nexus between the peoples of the Americas and Africa and Europe. It has two great seas of great historical importance, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.

Undoubtedly the historical figure of this ocean is Christopher Columbus, since his arrival in America (Bahamas 1492) initiated a new historical period that ended with practically the entire American continent being colonised by the European powers in the following centuries. While Portugal and Spain concentrated on the Caribbean and South America, the British and the French concentrated on North America.

During the First World War, the Atlantic became an essential transit zone for the war development as the United States transported troops, war materials and goods to Europe during the conflict. It was here that the idea of an Atlantic community began to take shape, leading to the creation of NATO.

As for the Caribbean, the author sees it as a region that is rooted in the past. Its colonisation was characterised by the arrival of slaves to exploit the region's natural resources for purposes of economic interest to the Spanish. In turn, this process was characterised by the desire to convert the indigenous population to Christianity.

The Panama Canal is a driving force for the region's Economics , but Central America is also sailing along the coasts of the countries with the highest violence fees on the planet. Admiral Stavridis sees the Caribbean coast as a kind of Wild West, which in some places has evolved little since the days of pirates, and where drug cartels now operate with impunity.

Since the 1820s, with the Monroe Doctrine, the United States carried out a series of interventions through its navy to bolster regional stability and keep Europeans out of places such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Central America. In the 20th century, politics was dominated by caudillos, and soon communism and the Cold War came with them to the Caribbean, with Cuba as ground zero.

Indian Ocean and Arctic: from unknown to risky

The Indian Ocean has less history and geopolitics than the other two great oceans. Despite this, its tributary seas have gained geopolitical importance in the post-World War II era with the rise of global shipping and the export of oil from the Gulf region. The Indian Ocean today could be seen as a region for wielding smart power rather than hard power. While the slave trade and piracy have dwindled almost everywhere, they are still present in parts of the Indian Ocean. It is a region where countries around the world could work together to combat these common problems.

The history of the Indian Ocean does not inspire confidence about the potential for peaceful governance in the years to come. An important core topic to unlock the region's potential would be to resolve the existing conflicts between India and Pakistan (a conflict with the risk of nuclear weapons) and the Shia-Sunni divide in the Persian Gulf, issues that make it a very volatile region. Due to tensions in the Gulf countries, the region is today a kind of cold war between the Sunnis, led by Saudi Arabia, and the Shiites, led by Iran, and between these two sides, the United States, with its Fifth Fleet, is at the centre.

Finally, the Arctic is currently an unknown quantity. Stavridis sees it as both a promise and a danger. Over the centuries, all oceans and seas have been the site of epic battles and discoveries, but there is one exception: the Arctic Ocean.

It seems clear that this exceptionality is coming to an end. The Arctic is an emerging maritime frontier with increasing human activity, rapidly melting ice shelves and significant hydrocarbon resources coming within reach. However, there are major risks that will dangerously condition the exploitation of this region, such as weather conditions, unclear governance due to the confluence of five bordering countries (Russia, Norway, Canada, the United States and Denmark), and geopolitical competition between NATO and Russia, whose relations have deteriorated in recent years. 

Categories Global Affairs: European Union North America Asia Security and defense World order, diplomacy and governance Book reviews Arctic and Antarctica