Entries with Categories Global Affairs World order, diplomacy and governance .

[I. H. Daalder & James M. Lindsay, The Empty Throne. America's Abdication of Global Leadership. Public Affairs. New York, 2018. 256 p.]


review / Salvador Sánchez Tapia

The Empty Throne. America's Abdication of Global Leadership

The arrival of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States in January 2017 has unleashed a significant flow of publishing house that continues to this day, and in which numerous pens question, in substance and form, the new occupant of the White House from different angles.

In this case, two authors from the field of American think tanks , close to Barack Obama – one of them served during his presidency as US ambassador to NATO – offer us a very critical view of President Trump and his management at the head of the U.S. executive branch. With the solid support of numerous quotes, statements and testimonies collected from the media, and in an agile and attractive language, they compose the portrait of an erratic, ignorant president – in one passage his "ignorance on many issues, his unwillingness to accept the advice of others, his impulsiveness, and his lack of critical thinking capacity" are unmitigated. arrogant and irresponsible.

The authors of The Empty Throne argue that President Trump's actions and words show how he has broken with the traditional line of U.S. foreign policy since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, based on the exercise of leadership oriented to collective security, the opening of global markets and the promotion of democracy. of human rights and the rule of law, and that it has result very beneficial for the United States. Trump, they argue, would have abdicated that leadership, embracing instead another purely transactional policy, made out of a simple calculation of self-interest.

This new way of conceiving international politics, based on the logic of competition and domination, would be justified by the Trump administration with the argument that the old one has been highly pernicious for the United States, since it has led to friends and allies obtaining significant profits at the expense of American prosperity.

Paraphrasing Trump's campaign slogan America First, the authors argue that this new policy will result in an America Alone, and that it will benefit China instead, assuming that it will be China that nations look to for a new leader.

To support your thesis , the authors take a look at the management of Donald Trump in the year and a half between his inauguration in early 2017 and the book's publication date in 2018. In their arguments, they review the management of the presidents the nation has had since the end of World War II, and compare it to the internship by the Trump administration.

An important part of the criticism is directed at the controversial presidential style deployed by Donald Trump, exhibited even before the elections, and which is evident in events such as the withdrawal of the label accustomed in the world of international relations, especially hurtful in its relations with friends and allies; the lack of interest shown in coordinating with the Obama administration an orderly transition, or the making of certain decisions against its national security team or even without consulting its members.

Not acknowledging these facts would be to deny the evidence and call into question the inescapable reality of the uneasiness that this new way of treating nations with which North America shares so many interests and values, such as those of the European Union, or others such as Japan, Canada or Australia, firm allies of the United States for decades, produces for many. There is, however, some criticism of the arguments.

First of all, and leaving aside the lack of time perspective to make a evaluation final of Trump's presidency, the authors make a comparison between the first year and a half of the current president's term and those of all his predecessors since the end of World War II to demonstrate Trump's return to the America First policy that prevailed until Roosevelt. This contrast requires certain nuances because, based on the common denominator of the international leadership strategy that all of Trump's predecessors practiced, the country experienced during this time moments of greater unilateralism such as that of George W. Bush's first term, along with others of less global presence of the country such as, perhaps, those of the Eisenhower presidencies. Ford, Carter, and even Obama.

In the case of Obama, moreover, the fundamental differences with Trump are not as many as they seem. Both presidents are trying to manage, in order to mitigate it, the loss of relative American power caused by the long years of military presence in the Middle East and the rise of China. It's not that Trump believes the U.S. should abandon ideas of global leadership and multinational interaction; in fact, while he is accused of leaving traditional allies to their fate, he is reproached for his rapprochement, almost complicity, with others such as Saudi Arabia and Israel. Rather, what he intends is to exercise leadership, but, yes, dictating his conditions so that they are favorable to the United States. From inspirational leadership to leadership by imposition.

The question would be: is it possible to maintain leadership under these conditions? According to the authors, no. In fact, as a consequence of this U.S. "abdication of leadership," they offer two scenarios: a return to a world in which no nation leads, or the irruption of another nation – China, of course – that will fill the vacuum created by that abdication.

The authors do not consider a third option: that of traditional allies adapting to the new style of leadership, even if it is reluctantly, out of necessity, and in the confidence that one day, Trump's presidency will be history. This idea would be consistent with the premise set forth in the book, and with which we agree, that American leadership continues to be essential, and with the very acknowledgment made at the end of it, that there is some basis in the grievances that Trump presents and that the president's attitude is leading many of America's friends and allies to reconsider their defense spending. to rethink the rules of international trade to make them more palatable to North America, and to take a more active role in solving the most important global challenges.

Time will tell which of the three options will prevail. Even considering the challenges involved in the attention With the current head of the White House, the United States continues to be united with its traditional partners and allies by a dense network of common interests and, above all, shared values that transcend people and that will endure beyond them.

Categories Global Affairs: North America World order, diplomacy and governance Book reviews

[Amil Saikal, Iran Rising: The survival and Future of the Islamic Republic. Princeton University Press. Princeton, 2019. 344 p.]


review / Ignacio Urbasos Arbeloa

Iran Rising: The survival and Future of the Islamic Republic

Since its establishment in 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been a conflictive actor, isolated and misunderstood by the international community and, to a greater extent, by its regional neighbours. Its origin, revolutionary and antagonistic to the model The Shah's pro-Western pro-Western regime completely changed the geopolitics of the Middle East and the role of the United States in the region. Both the Hostage Crisis and Saddam Hussein's bloody war on Iraq left deep wounds in Iran's relations with the outside world. More than 40 years after the Revolution, the country continues in a dynamic that makes it impossible to normalize its international relations, always under the threat of armed conflict or economic sanctions. In this book, Amin Saikal describes in depth the ideological and political nature of the Ayatollahs' regime with the intention of generating a better understanding of the motivations and factors that explain their behavior.

In the first chapters, the concept of governance devised by Ayatollah Imam Khomeini, known as Velayat-E Faqih or Governance of the Guardian of Islam, is developed. One model defended by a non-majority faction of the revolution that managed to impose itself due to the charisma of its leader and the enormous repression on the rest of the political groups. The political system resulting from the 1978 Revolution seeks to bring together the Shiite teachings of Islam and a model It is representative with institutions such as the Majlis (parliament) or the President, which to some extent simulates Western liberal democracy. This model it is unique and has never been imitated despite the Islamic Republic's efforts to export it to the rest of the Muslim world.

In the internship, the system has proven to subject Iranian politics to schizophrenia, with a constant struggle between the power of the clerics – Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader – the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader. committee of Guardians – vis-à-vis the executive and legislative branches elected through elections. This tension, referred to as Jihadi-Itjihadi (conservatism-flexibility ) by Khomeini himself, has led to a result be a resounding failure. The lack of clarity in the roles that religious groups play in the system results in unlimited power to repress and eliminate political opponents, such as the house arrest of Khatami or Moussaoui. This struggle generates duplicities at all levels with the omnipresence of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the armed forces, intelligence, social services and public enterprises. The lack of political transparency generates corruption and inefficiencies that hinder the development of a Economics that it does not lack human capital and natural resources to thrive.

Chapters 2 and 3 deal with the evolution of the system after the death of leader Khomeini in 1988 and the end of the war against Iraq. This new context allowed the entrance of new ideas to the discussion Iranian politician. The controversial appointment of the ultra-conservative Ali Khamenei in 1989 as the new Supreme Leader reinforced the authoritarianism and rigidity of religious power, but now without the undisputed leadership that Khomeini exercised. The presidency of Rafsanjani, a pragmatic conservative, marked the beginning of a trend within Iran that advocated normalizing the country's international relations.

However, it was Khatami who, since 1997, has been committed to a reconversion of the system towards a real democracy that respects human rights. Your bet staff The attempt to improve relations with the U.S. failed to meet with inordinate distrust from the Bush administration. Not even Iran's exemplary response to the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York with an official condemnation of the attack and even a minute's silence respected by 60,000 people in Tehran on September 13, 2001 was enough for G.W. Bush to reconsider Iran as part of the famous Axis of Evil that it constituted together with Syria. North Korea and Sudan. Despite achieving an average economic growth of 5% of GDP under his presidency, the lack of reciprocity on the part of the international community generated a total rupture between the reformist president and the conservative faction led by the Supreme Leader.

The period between 2005 and 2013 was marked by the presidency of the ultra-conservative Ahmadinejad, who ended without Khamenei's confidence after failing to win the presidency. subject and bring Iran to the brink of armed conflict. During this period, the IRGC grew to dominate many ministries and 70% of Iran's GDP. His controversial re-election in 2009 with accusations of fraud by the civil service examination It spawned the Green Movement, the largest protests since 1979, which were harshly repressed.

Rouhani's arrival in 2013 could have been a historic occasion by aligning for the first time since 1988 the vision of a moderate president with that of the Supreme Leader. Rouhani, a moderate pragmatist, took office position with the goals of improving the living conditions of Iranians, reconciling relations with the West, increasing the rights of minorities and relaxing control over society. In subject of foreign policy, the Supreme Leader assumed the need to achieve a agreement on the nuclear program knowing that, in its absence, an economic improvement in Iran would be very complicated. The JCPOA, although imperfect, made it possible to bring positions between the West and Iran closer together. The arrival of Donald Trump blew up the agreement and with it the harmony between Supreme Leader Khamenei and Rouhani, who is now facing a growing civil service examination conservative in considering his foreign policy a failure.

For the author, it is essential to understand the battle between elected institutions and religious institutions. Iranian politics functions as a pendulum between the dominance of conservative factions protected by the religious and reformist factions boosted by elections. If you offer benefits to reformist moderates when they are in power, the chances of bringing about political change in Iran are greater than if you treat them with the same harshness as conservatives, Amin Saikal argues in the fourth and fifth chapters. In addition, there is a correlation between those who know the West and those who do not. Khamenei and Ahmadinejad, the main representatives of the hardliners, have never visited Europe or the United States, while Rouhani, Khatami and Sharif are fluent in English and Western culture.

With a population under the age of 30 accounting for 50% of the total and a growing modernization of society in Tehran, demands for reform seem unstoppable. According to Amin Saikal, an intransigent policy towards Iran when there is a desire for openness only generates mistrust and reinforces the most conservative positions. Trump's policy with Iran, he concludes, demonstrates the lack of knowledge and understanding of their society and political system.

Categories Global Affairs: Middle East World Order, Diplomacy and Governance Book Reviews Iran

Dubai Air Visa [Pixabay]

▲ Dubai Air Visa [Pixabay]

essay / Sebastián Bruzzone Martínez


In ancient times, the territory was inhabited by Arab tribes, nomadic farmers, artisans and traders, accustomed to plundering merchant ships of European powers that sailed along its coasts. Islam settled into the local culture in the 7th century AD, and Sunni Islam in the 11th century AD. From 1820, United Kingdom signature with the leaders or sheikhs of the area a peace treaty to put an end to piracy. In 1853, both parties signed another agreement whereby the United Kingdom established a military protectorate in the territory. And in 1892, on the pretensions of Russia, France, and Germany, they signed a third agreement which guaranteed a monopoly on trade and exploitation only for the British. The Emirati area was renamed the "Pirate Coast" to the "Trucial States" (the current seven United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain).

During World War I, the airfields and ports of the Gulf took on an important role in the development of the development of the conflict in favour of the United Kingdom. At the end of World War II in 1945, the League of Arab States (Arab League) was created, formed by those who enjoyed some colonial independence. The organization caught the attention of the Truce States.

In 1960, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was created, with Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Venezuela as its founders and headquartered in Vienna, Austria. The seven emirates, which would later form the United Arab Emirates, were united in 1967.

In 1968, the United Kingdom withdrew its military force from the region, and the Truce States organized the Federation of the Persian Gulf Emirates, but it failed when Qatar and Bahrain became independent. In the years that followed, the exploitation of the huge oil wells discovered years earlier began.

In 1971, six Emirates gained independence from the British Empire: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, um al Qaywayn and Fujairah, forming the federation of the United Arab Emirates, with a legal system based on the 1971 constitution. Once consolidated, on June 12 they joined the Arab League. The seventh emirate, Ras Al-Khaimah joined the following year.

Beginning with the 1973 oil crisis, the Emirates began to accumulate enormous wealth, due to the fact that OPEC members decided not to export any more oil to the countries that supported Israel during the Yom Kippur War. Currently, 80-85% of the UAE's population is an immigrant. The United Arab Emirates became the third largest oil producer in the Middle East, after Saudi Arabia and Libya.



By the constitution of 1971, the United Arab Emirates is constituted as a federal monarchy. Each State is governed by its Emir (degree scroll nobility of the sheikhs, Sheikh). Each emirate has a great deal of political, legislative, economic and judicial autonomy, each having its own executive councils, always in correspondence with the federal government. There are no political parties. Federal authorities are made up of:

committee Supreme of the Federation or Emirs: is the supreme authority of the State. It is composed of the governors of the 7 Emirates, or those who replace them in their absence. Each Emirate has one vote in the deliberations. It lays down the general policy on matters entrusted to the Federation, and studies and establishes the aims and interests of the Federation.

President and Vice-President of the Federation: elected by thecommittee Supreme among its members. The President exercises, under the Constitution, important powers such as the presidency of the committee Supreme; signature of laws, decrees or resolutions ratified and issued by the committee; appointment of the President of the committee of Ministers and the Vice-President and Ministers; acceptance of their resignations or suspension from office proposal of the President of the committee of Ministers. The Vice-President exercises all presidential powers in his absence.

By tradition, not recognized in the Emirati Constitution, the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi is the President of the country, and the Sheikh of Dubai is the Vice President and Prime Minister.

Thus, currently, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Sheikh of Abu Dhabi, has been the President of the United Arab Emirates since 2004; and Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Sheikh of Dubai, has been the Prime Minister and Vice-President since 2006.

committee of ministers: composed of the President of the committee of Ministers, the Vice-President and the Ministers. It is the executive body of the Federation. Overseen by the President and committee Supreme, his mission statement is to manage internal and external affairs, which are of skill under the Constitution and federal laws. It has certain prerogatives such as monitoring the implementation of the general policy of the Federal State at home and abroad; propose draft federal laws and move them to the committee Supreme Court of the Federation; supervise the implementation of federal laws and resolutions, and the implementation of international treaties and conventions signed by the United Arab Emirates.

Federal National Assembly: what would resemble a congress, but it is a consultative body only. It is composed of 40 members: twenty elected by the voting citizens, by census suffrage, of the United Arab Emirates through general election, and the other half by the rulers of each Emirate. In December 2018, President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan issued a decree calling for fifty percent of the Federal National Assembly (FNC) to be occupied by women, with the intention of "further empower Emirati women and strengthen their contributions to the development of the country." It is distributed with seats: Abu Dhabi (8); Dubai (8); Sharjah (6); Ras Al Khaimah (6); Ajman (4); um Al Quwayn (4); and Fujairah (4). Federal and financial bills are submitted to it before they are submitted to the President of the Federation for submission to the committee Supreme Court for ratification. It is also the responsibility of the Government to notify the Assembly of international covenants and treaties. The Assembly studies and makes recommendations on matters of a public nature.

The Federal Administration of Justice: The judicial system of the United Arab Emirates is based on Sharia law or Islamic law. Thearticle Article 94 of the Constitution establishes that justice is the basis of the Government and reaffirms the independence of the judiciary, stipulating that there is no authority above the judges, except the law and their own conscience in the exercise of their functions. The federal justice system is made up of first-class courts written request and courts and appeals (civil, criminal, commercial, contentious-administrative, etc.)

There is also a Federal Supreme Court, made up of a president and vocal judges, with powers such as studying the constitutionality of federal laws and unconstitutional acts.

In addition, the local administration of justice will deal with all judicial cases that do not fall within the competence of the federal administration. It has three levels: first written request, appeal and cassation.

The Constitution provides for the existence of an Attorney General, who presides over the Federal Public Prosecutor's Office, which is responsible for submitting lists of documents position offences committed in accordance with the provisions of the Code, and procedure of the Federation.

For promote understanding between federal and local administrations, since 2007 a committee of Judicial Coordination, chaired by the Minister of Justice and composed of presidents and directors of the judicial organs of the State. [1]

It is important to know that the Constitution of the Federation provides guarantees for the reinforcement and protection of human rights in chapter III on public freedoms, rights and obligations, such as the principle of equality on the basis of extraction, place of birth, religious belief or social position, although it does not mention gender, and social justice (art. 25); freedom of citizens (art. 26); freedom of opinion and the right to express it (art. 30); freedom of movement and freedom of movement residency program (art. 29); freedom of religion (art. 32); right to privacy (arts. 31 and 36); rights of the family (art. 15); the right to social security and social security (art. 16); Right to Education (art. 17); the right to health care (art. 19); Right to work (art. 20); Right to association and the establishment of associations (art. 33); the right to property (art. 21); and the right to complain and the right to litigate before the courts (art. 41). [2]

At first glance, it seems that these rights and guarantees enshrined in the Emirati Constitution of 1971 are similar to those of a normal European and Western Constitution. However, they are nuanced and not as effective in the internship. On the one hand, because most of them include references to the specific and applicable law, saying "... within the limits set by law; in accordance with the provisions of the law; or in cases where the law so provides." In this way, the legislator will ensure that these rights are consistent and compatible with Sharia or Islamic law, or with political interests, as the case may be.

On the other hand, these rights and guarantees fully protect Emirati citizens, nationals. Taking into account that 80-85% of the population is foreign, 15% of the total population of the State would be protected in an entirely constitutional manner. By Federal Act No. 28/2005 on the Statute of Persons staff, the law applies to all citizens of the State of the United Arab Emirates provided that there are no special provisions specific to their confession or religion for non-Muslims among them. Its provisions also apply to non-nationals when they are not obliged to comply with the laws of their own country.

Legal safeguards include the Federal Penal Code (Act No. 3/1987); the Code ofprocedure Criminal Law (Act No. 35/1992); Federal Act on the Regulation of Penitentiary Reform Institutions (No. 43/1992); Federal Law on the Regulation of Labour Relations (No. 8/1980); Federal Act on Combating Trafficking in Persons (No. 51/2006); Federal Statute Act staff (No. 28/2005); Federal Act on Juvenile Offenders and Homeless Persons (No. 9/1976); Federal Law on Publications and Publishing (No. 15/1980); Federal Law on the Regulation of Human Organs (No. 15/1993); Federal Law on Associations Declared to be of Public Interest (No. 2/2008); Federal Law on Social Security (No. 2/2001); Federal Law on Pensions and Social Insurance (No. 7/1999); Federal Law on the Protection and development the environment (No. 24/1999); and Federal Law on the Rights of Persons with Special Needs (No. 29/2006).

Military service of 9 months is compulsory for university men between the ages of 18 and 30, and two years for those who do not haveprograms of study Upper. For women, it is optional and subject to the agreement of his tutor. Although the country is not a member of NATO, the Emirates has decided to join the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) coalition, and provide weapons assistance in the war against the Islamic State.

With regard to international treaty guarantees and international cooperation, the United Arab Emirates has made a great effort to include in its Constitution laws and principles protected by the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as a member of the UN and by acceding to its treaties: International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1974); Convention on the Rights of the Child (1997), United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (2007), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (2004); United Nations Convention against Corruption (2006), among others.

They have also ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the Arab Charter on Human Rights, and conventions on the organization of the International Criminal Court. work. It is a member of the WHO, ILO, FAO, UNESCO, UNICEF, WIPO, World Bank and IMF. They are also linked by cooperation agreements with more than 28 international organizations of the United Nations, carrying out advisory tasks of a technical and ministerial nature.

They are members of the Arab League and the Organization of the Arts. lecture By strengthening and promoting Arab work in its regional activities and programmes.

The Emirati police maintain public order and state security. The Ministry of the Interior puts human rights at the forefront of its priorities, focusing on justice, equality, impartiality and protection. Members of the police force must commit to 33 rules of conduct before taking office. The Ministry of the Interior provides administrative units to citizens to supervise police activity and take the necessary measures. However, there is a certain distrust of foreigners towards the police. Most of the complaints come from Emirati citizens.

The Ministry of the Interior must provide diplomatic and consular missions with lists that include data on their nationals interned in penitentiary institutions.



The Emirati government has promoted civil societies and national institutions such as the association of the Emirates for Human Rights (under Federal Act No. 6/1974), the General Federation of Women, association of Jurists, association of Sociologists, association of Journalists, General Administration Human Rights Protection Authority attached to the Dubai Police Headquarters, Dubai Charitable Foundation for Women and Children's Care, National Commission to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Social Support Centre of the Dubai Police, General Administration Abu Dhabi Police, Zayed Charitable Institution, average Emirates Red Crescent, Institution of development Familia, and the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation for Charitable and Humanitarian Works, or the Marriage Fund, among many others.

Importantly, the development of political participation is following a progressive process. To date, there are full and general elections to appoint half of the members of the Federal National Assembly, with census suffrage, for Emirati citizens and through the publication of lists.

Also, the importance of women in Emirati society is growing thanks to the legislative and legal measures taken by the government to empower women, through membership of the committee of development Social of the committee Economic and Social Affairs, which provide opportunities for women who actively participate in the development and the integration of women in the government and private-business sectors (22.5% of the Assembly is women, 2006; it is expected that from 2019 it will be 50% by decree)[3], and promoting female literacy to the point of equalizing it with that of men. However, despite being signatories to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, in the internship They are discriminated against in marriage and divorce proceedings. Fortunately, Emirati legislation providing for the ill-treatment of women and minor children by the husband or father was abolished as long as the aggression did not exceed the limits allowed by Islamic law. Also, once married, women must render obedience to their husbands and be authorized by them to take up a job. It is also prohibited, under prison sentences, cohabitation between unmarried men and women, and sexual relations outside marriage. Polygamy is present even in the royal family.

As in the rest of the Arab countries, homosexuality is considered a serious crime and punishable by fines, imprisonment and deportation in the case of foreigners, although its application is very limited.

The media plays an important role in Emirati society. They are supervised by the committee National Media Agency, which acts largely as a censoring body. They have reached a high technical and professional level in the journalistic sector, hosting in the Dubai average City to more than a thousand specialized companies. However, journalism is controlled by the Federal Law on Press and Publications of 1980, and the Charter of Honor and the Morality of the Journalistic Profession, which have been signed by the heads of the essay. For example, some news that may be unfavorable to Islam or the government would never be published in domestic newspapers, but would be published in foreign newspapers (the case of Haya of Jordan). Since 2007, by means of a decree of the committee It was forbidden to imprison journalists if they made mistakes in the course of their professional duties. However, it ceased to apply with the entrance the Cybercrime Act adopted in 2012.

The government is striving to meet an improvement in the Terms and Conditions work, as the United Arab Emirates is convinced that human beings have the right to enjoy adequate living conditions (housing, working hours, means, labour courts, health insurance, protective guarantees in labour disputes at the international cooperative level, etc.). However, the "Sponsor" or " Kafala" system is still in force, whereby a employer exercises the sponsorship of your employees. Thus, there are cases in which the sponsor retains the passports of its employees during the term of the contract, which is illegal, but they have never been investigated and punished by the government (case of the project of Saadiyat Island), despite being a signatory to conventions on work of the UN.

The last report envelope development Human , corresponding to the year 2018, places the United Arab Emirates in 34th place out of a total of 189 countries. Spain is in 26th place. The State has ensured the Education free and quality up to the university stage for all Emirati citizens, and the integration of disabled people. University and Education Universities such as the University of the United Arab Emirates, Zayed University, or New York University in Abu Dhabi have been positively encouraged. Health care has improved considerably with the construction of hospitals and clinics, with lower fees and increasing life expectancy, standing at 77.6 years (2016). The State allocates money from the public treasury to the social care of the most disadvantaged sectors of the Emirati population and the elderly, widows, orphans or the disabled. It has also ensured that citizens have decent housing, through government agencies such as the Ministry of Public Works, the Zayed Housing Programme, which offers interest-free mortgage loans, the Ministry of Public Works, loan Abu Dhabi Mortgage, the Mohammed bin Rashid Housing Institution that provides loans, or the Sharjah Public Works Authority.

In terms of religion, approximately 75% of the population is Muslim. Islam is the official denomination of the United Arab Emirates. The government pursues a tolerant policy towards other religions, and prohibits non-Muslims from interfering in religion. Education islamic. The evangelization of other religions is prohibited, and the internship of the same must be carried out in the places authorized for this purpose.

On 3 February 2019, at the beginning of the Year of Tolerance, Pope Francis was received with the highest honours in Abu Dhabi by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President and Emir of Dubai Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, and Ahmed al Tayyeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University and leading Islamic theological reference. It was the first time that the head of the Catholic Church set foot in the Arabian Peninsula. Similarly, the Pope celebrated a mass in Zayed Sport City before 150,000 people, saying in his homily: "Let us be an oasis of peace." The event was described by Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State, as "a historic moment for religious freedom."

Exist Projects for the development of remote regions, which seek to modernize the infrastructures and services of those areas of the State furthest from the population centers. Also, by virtue of Federal Act No. 47/1992, the Marriage Fund was established. goal is to encourage marriage between male and female citizens, and promote The family, which according to the Government is the basic unit and fundamental pillar of society, offering financial subsidies to those citizens with limited resources in order to help them meet wedding expenses and contribute to the family stability of society.



Since 1973, the United Arab Emirates has undergone a huge transformation and modernization thanks to the exploitation of oil, which accounted for 80% of GDP at that time. In recent years, with the knowledge that in less than 40 years oil will run out, the government has diversified its Economics towards financial services, tourism, trade, transport and infrastructure, making oil and gas only 20% of the national GDP.

Abu Dhabi has 90% of the world's oil and gas reserves, followed by Dubai, and in small quantities in Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah. The country's petroleum policy is carried out through the committee Supreme Petroleum Corporation and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). The main foreign oil companies operating in the country are BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Total, Petrofac and Partex, and Spain's CEPSA, of which the Emirati sovereign wealth fund Mubadala owns 80% of the company. business.

The lending capacity of financial corporations was severely adversely affected during the 2008 economic crisis. The entrance The number of large foreign private capitals came to a standstill, at the same time as investment in the property and construction sectors. Falling property values forced liquidity restriction. In 2009, local companies were seeking moratorium agreements with their creditors on a $26 billion debt. The Abu Dhabi government provided a $5 trillion bailout to reassure international investors.

Tourism and infrastructure is a success for the country, especially in Dubai. [4] The construction of luxury tourist attractions such as the Palm Islands and the Burj al-Arab, and the good weather for most of the year, has attracted Westerners and people from all over the world. According to the Emirati government, the tourism industry generates more money than oil currently. Large investments are being made in renewable energy, most notably through Masdar, thebusiness government, which has the project Masdar City initiated, creating a city powered solely by renewable energy.



The United Arab Emirates is made up of seven Emirates and ruled by six families:

Abu Dhabi: by Al Nahyan Family (Al Falahi House)

Dubai: by the Al Maktoum Family (Al Falasi House)

Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah: by the Al Qassimi family

Ajman: by the Al Nuaimi family

um Al Quwain: by the Al Mualla family

Fujairah: by the Al Sharqi family

It is important to know the terminology used in the family tree of Emirati royal families: " Sheikh" means sheikh , and an emir is degree scroll nobility attributed to the sheikhs. In the composition of the names, in the first place, the proper name of the descendant is placed, followed by the infix " bin " which means "of", plus the proper name of his father, and the surname of the family. The infix is " bint" for women.

For example: Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the father of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

It is common for marriages to take place between the ruling families of the various Emirates, intertwining dynasties, but the rule will always prevail. surname of the husband over that of the wife in the name of the children. Unlike the great European monarchies in which the kingdom is passed down from father to son, in Emirati families power is transmitted first between brothers, by appointment, and as second resource, to the children. These positions of power must be ratified by the committee Supreme.

The Al Nahyan family of Abu Dhabi is an offshoot of the Al Falahi House. This is a royal house that belongs to Bani Yas and is related to Al Falasi House to which the Al Maktoum family of Dubai belongs. Bani Yas is known to be a very ancient tribal confederation of the Liwa Oasis region. There are few data about its exact origin. The Al Nahyan royal family is incredibly large, as each of the brothers has had several children and with different women. The most important and recent governors of Abu Dhabi would be those who have been in power since 1971, when the United Arab Emirates was consolidated as a country, ceasing to be a Truce State and British protectorate. Are:

Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (1918-2004): was governor of Abu Dhabi from 1966 until his death. He collaborated closely with the British Empire to maintain the integrity of the territory in the face of Saudi Arabia's expansionist pretensions. He is considered the Father of the Nation and founder of the United Arab Emirates, along with his counterpart Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum of Dubai. Both pledged to form a Federation together with other rulers after the British military withdrawal. He was the first president of the United Arab Emirates, and was re-elected four times: 1976, 1981, 1986 and 1991. Zayed was characterized as sympathetic, peaceful and united with neighboring emirates, charitable in terms of donations, relatively liberal and permissive of private means. He was considered one of the richest men in the world by Forbes magazine, with a net worth of twenty billion dollars.

He died at the age of 86 and is buried in Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. He replaced him in the position his first-born son Khalifa as governor and ratified president of the United Arab Emirates by the committee Supreme.

He had six wives: Hassa bint Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, Sheikha bint Madhad Al Mashghouni, Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi, Mouza bint Suhail bin Awaidah Al Khaili, Ayesha bint Ali Al Darmaki, Amna bint Salah bin Buduwa Al Darmaki, and Shamsa bint Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan; and thirty children, some of whom are as follows:

Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1948–present): Eldest son of the above, whose mother is Hassa bint Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, is the current governor of Abu Dhabi and president of the United Arab Emirates. His wife is Shamsa bint Suhail Al Mazrouei, with whom he has eight children. He also holds other positions: Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, President of the committee Petroleum Authority, and chairman of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. He was educated at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the United Kingdom. Previously, he was appointed crown prince of Abu Dhabi; Head of the department Abu Dhabi Defence Ministry, which would become the Emirates Armed Forces; Prime Minister, Chief of Staff of Abu Dhabi, Minister of Defence and Finance; Second Deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and President of the committee Abu Dhabi Executive. Dubai's Burj Khalifa is named after him, as he brought in the money needed to complete its construction. He intervened militarily in Libya by sending the Air Force along with NATO, and pledged support for the democratic uprising in Bahrain in 2011.

According to a WikiLeaks leak, the U.S. ambassador describes him as a "distant and uncharismatic character." It has been criticised for its wasteful nature (purchase of the yacht Azzam, scandal of the construction of the palace and purchase of territories in the Seychelles, the Panama Papers and the revelation of properties in London and shell companies...)

In 2014, according to the official version, Khalifa suffered a stroke and underwent surgery. According to the government, he is in stable condition, but has virtually disappeared from the public eye.

Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1961–present): Khalifa's brother, but whose mother is Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi. He is the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and entrusted with the execution of presidential affairs, receptions of foreign dignitaries and political decisions due to the poor state of health of the President. Also, like Khalifa, he was educated at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He has been an officer in the Presidential Guard and a pilot in the Air Force. He is married to Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, and has nine children.

It has been characterized by its activist foreign policy against Islamist extremism, and its charitable character (partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for vaccines in Afghanistan and Pakistan). International governments such as France, Singapore and the United States have invited Mohammed to various bilateral events and dialogues. He has even met with Pope Francis twice (Rome, 2016; Abu Dhabi, 2019), promoting the Year of Tolerance.

In subject He is the chairman of the Mubadala sovereign wealth fund and head of the committee Abu Dhabi for the development Economic. Has C billion-dollar economic stimulation projects for the modernization of the country in the energy sector and infrastructure.

It has also promoted women's empowerment, welcoming a delegation of female officers from the Military and Peacekeeping Programme for Arab Women, who are preparing for United Nations peace operations. It has encouraged the presence of women in public services, and has pledged to meet regularly with female representatives of the country's institutions.

Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1955–present): Zayed's second son. He has six children. He is the son of Shamsa bint Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan. He was educated at Millfield School and Sandhurst Military Academy like his two previous brothers. He is the third Deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, a member of the committee He is a member of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1963–present): Zayed's fifth son, whose mother is Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi. He is married to Shamsa bint Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Nahyan. He was educated at the Sandhurst Military Academy. He occupied the position Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs until 2009. Currently, he is the emir's representative in the western region of Abu Dhabi. Is graduate in Political Science and Business Administration from the University of the United Arab Emirates.

Nahyan bin Mubarak al Nahyan (1951–present): son of Mubarak bin Mohammed Al Nahyan. He is the current head of the UAE's Ministry of Tolerance since 2017. From 2016 to 2017, he was Minister of Culture anddevelopment of the knowledge. He also dedicated years of his life to the creation of Education as the University of the United Arab Emirates (1983-2013), technical school of Technology (1988-2013), and Zayed University (1998-2013). He is also the president of Warid Telecom International, a business of Telecommunications, and the President of the group Abu Dhabi, Union National Bank and United Bank Limited, among other companies.

Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1972–present): Zayed's ninth son, whose mother is Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi. He is married to Al Yazia bint Saif bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, with whom he has five children. Occupies the position Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates since 2006. Is graduate in Political Science from the University of the United Arab Emirates. During his tenure, the Emirates have seen a great expansion in its diplomatic relations with countries in South America, the South Pacific, Africa and Asia, and a consolidation with Western countries. He is a member of the committee of the country's National Security, Vice President of the committee Permanent Border Officer, President of the committee National Media Organization, President of the board of Directors of the Emirates Foundation for the development of Youth, Vice-President of the board of Directors of the Abu Dhabi Fund for the development and Member of the board of the high school of National Defense. He was Minister of Information and Culture from 1997 to 2006, and President of Emirates average Incorporated.

Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1970–present): Zayed's eighth son, whose mother is Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi. He is married to two women, Alia bint Mohammed bin Butti Al Hamed, and Manal bint Mohammed Al Maktoum, with whom he has six children in total. He has held the positions of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs of the United Arab Emirates since 2009. He is president of the committee Ministerial of Services, the Emirates Investment Authority and the Emirates Racing Authority. He is a member of the committee Supreme Court of Petroleum and Petroleum committee Abu Dhabi Investments. He was educated at Santa Barbara Community College in the United States, and received a bachelor's degree in International Affairs from the University of the United Arab Emirates. He presides over the National Documentation and Documentation Centre research and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Humanitarian development. He was president of First Gulf Bank until 2006.

He has a developed business vision. He is the owner of the English soccer team Manchester City, and co-owner of New York City of the MLS, an American professional soccer league. He is a member of the board He is a board member of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, has a 32% stake in Virgin Galactic, a 9.1% stake in Daimler, and owns Abu Dhabi average Investment Corporation, by which he owns the English newspaper The National.

Saif binZayed Al Nahya (1968–present): Zayed's twelfth son, whose mother is Mouza bint Suhail Al Khaili. occupies the position Deputy Prime Minister since 2009, and Minister of the Interior since 2004. Its role is to ensure the internal protection and national security of the United Arab Emirates. Is graduate in Political Science from the University of the United Arab Emirates. Was Director General of the Abu Dhabi Police in 1995, and Undersecretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs in 1997, until his appointment as Minister.

Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1965–present): Zayed's fifth son, whose mother is Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi. He is married to Mozah bint Mohammed bin Butti Al Hamed, with whom he has five children. He holds the post of Minister of National Security of the United Arab Emirates, Vice-President of thecommittee Executive of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Chairman of the Emirates Identity Authority.

Nasser bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1967-2008): Zayed's son, whose mother is Amna bint Salah Al Badi. He was president of the department Planning & Economics of Abu Dhabi, and was a royal security officer. According to the official version, he died at the age of 41 when the helicopter in which he was traveling with his friends crashed off the coast of Abu Dhabi. He was buried in the Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Mosque, and three days of mourning were declared throughout the United Arab Emirates.

Issa bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1970–present): Zayed's son, whose mother is Amna bint Salah Al Badi. It is a prestigious real estate developer in the city of Dubai, but it does not occupy any position politician in the government of the Emirates. He was involved in a case in which, in a leaked video, he allegedly tortured two Palestinians who were his business associates. The Emirati court declared Issa innocent because he was the victim of a conspiracy and sentenced the Palestinians to five years in prison for drug use, recording, publication and blackmail. International observers harshly criticized the Emirati judicial system and called for an overhaul of the country's penal code.

From my point of view, and with the experience of having lived in the country, the United Arab Emirates is a very unknown country for Spanish youth and that has incredible professional opportunities due to the demand for work foreign, a very high quality of life at an affordable price, as salaries are quite high, and a strong and modernized administration and institutions. The culture shock is not very great, as the state makes sure to avoid situations of discrimination, unlike other Arab countries. I can say with complete conviction that cultural tolerance is real. However, foreigners should keep in mind that it is not a Western country, and that it is recommended to respect the nation's customs regarding dress, sacred places and public performances, and to know the Emirati Basic Law.

Categories Global Affairs: Middle EastWorld Order, Diplomacy and Governance TestsSaudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf

[Bruno Maçães, Belt and Road. A Chinese World Order. Penguin. Gurgaon, India, 2019. 227p.]

review / Emili J. Blasco

Belt and Road. A Chinese World Order

Covered the moment of literature devoted to presenting the novelty of the project A Chinese leader of the New Silk Road, Bruno Maçães leaves aside many of the specific specifics of the Chinese initiative to deal with its more geopolitical aspects. That is why throughout the book Maçães uses the name Belt and Road all the time, instead of its acronyms – OBOR (One Belt, One Road) or the lately more used BRI ( Belt and Road Initiative) – because he is not referring so much to the layout of transport connections themselves as to the new world order that Beijing wants to model.

Through this economic integration, according to Maçães, China could project power over two-thirds of the world, including Central and Eastern Europe, in a process of geographical cohesion of Eurasia to which this politician and the European Union has already been able to achieve this goal. researcher He dedicated his earlier work.

Compared to other essays on the New Silk Road, this one directs a lot of attention to India (this is true in its general content, but also in this one). review A special edition has been used for that country, with a particular introduction).

Maçães grants India the role of core topic vault in the project integrator of Eurasia. If India decides not to participate at all and instead gamble on the alternative promoted by the United States, along with Japan and Australia, then the design China will not reach the dimension desired by Beijing. "If India decides that life in the Western order will be better than under alternative arrangements, the Belt and Road will struggle to achieve its original ambition," says the author.

However, Maçães believes that the West is not entirely that attractive to the subcontinent. In that Western order, India can only aspire to a secondary role, while the rise of China "offers it the exciting possibility of a genuinely multipolar, rather than merely multilateral, world in which India can legitimately hope to become an autonomous center of geopolitical power," at least on the same level as a declining Russia.

Despite these apparent advantages, India will not go completely to either side, Maçães predicts. "It will never join the Belt and Road because it could only consent to join China in a project that it was new. And it will never join a U.S. effort to rival the Belt and Road unless the U.S. makes it less confrontational." So, "India will leave everyone waiting, but it will never make a decision on the Belt and Road."

Without the involvement of Delhi, or even more so, with resistance from the Indian leadership, neither the US nor China's vision can be fully brought to fruition. internshipMaçães continues. Without India, Washington may be able to preserve its current model of alliances in Asia, but their ability to compete on the scale of the Belt and Road would collapse; For its part, Beijing is realizing that it alone cannot provide the financial resources needed for the ambitious project.

Maçães warns that China has "ignored and disdained" India's positions and interests, which may end up being "a big miscalculation." He believes that China's impatience to start building infrastructure, due to the need to demonstrate that its initiative is a success, "can become the worst enemy."

An adventure that the Chinese can correct the shot. "It is likely – perhaps even inevitable – that the Belt and Road will grow more and more decentralized, less Chinese-centric," he says, commenting that in the end this new Chinese order would not be so different from the structure of the existing world order led by Washington, where "the United States insists on being recognized as the state at the apex of the international power hierarchy" and leaves some autonomy to each regional power.

If Maçães puts India in a status Non-alignment plenary session of the Executive Council, does provide for an unequivocal partnership of that country with Japan. In his view, it is a "symbiotic" relationship, in which India sees Japan as its first source of technology, while Japan sees the Indian navy as "a partner indispensable in its efforts to contain Chinese expansion and safeguard freedom of navigation" in the region's seas.

As for Europe, Maçães sees it in the difficult position "of not being able to oppose a project economic integration, while it is equally incapable of joining as a mere participant" in the Chinese initiative, in addition to the seed of division that the project in the European Union.

Bangladesh to Pakistan and Djibouti

Despite the above-mentioned differences, Maçães believes that the relationship between China and India can develop positively, even if there is some element of latent conflict, encouraged by a certain mutual distrust. The commercial linkage of two such immense markets and production centers will generate economic ties "called dominating" the economy. Economics towards the middle of this century.

This movement of goods between the two countries will make Bangladesh and Myanmar the centre of a major trade corridor.

For its part, Pakistan, in addition to being a corridor for the exit to the Indian Ocean from western China, will be increasingly integrated into the Chinese production chain. Specifically, it can feed raw materials and basic manufactures to the textile industry that China is developing in Xinjiang, its export gateway to Europe for goods that can optimize rail transport. The capital of that province, Urumqi, will become the fashion capital of Central Asia in the next decade. agreement with the forecast of Maçães.

Another interesting observation is that the shrinking of Eurasia and the development of internal transport routes between the two ends of the supercontinent, may cause the container ports of the North Sea (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Hamburg) to lose weight in trade between Europe and China at the expense of greater transit of those in the Mediterranean (Piraeus, especially).

The author also ventures that Chinese infrastructure works in Cameroon and Nigeria can help facilitate connections between these countries and Doralé, the port that China manages in Djibouti, which in this way, through these trans-African routes, could become "a serious rival" to the Suez Canal.

If China has its first, and so far only, military base outside its territory, it must be borne in mind that Beijing may give a possible military use to other ports whose territory is not the same. management has assumed. As Maçães recalls, in 2016 China approved a framework This is a legal law that obliges civilian companies to support military logistics operations requested by the Chinese Navy.

These are all aspects of a thought-provoking book that does not allow itself to be carried away by the determinism of China's rise, nor by an antagonistic vision that denies the possibility of a new world order. It is the work of a European who, although he served in the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a director for Europe, is realistic about the EU's weight in the design of the world.

Categories Global Affairs: Asia World order, diplomacy and governance Book reviews

The deterioration of recent years seems to have been corrected in several indicators on democratic health and economic environment.

Costa Rica has traditionally been a model of democratic functioning in a region with serious institutional deficits, which has earned it a mediating role in different conflicts. The increase of internal problems -strikes, citizen protests, bipartisan crisis...- have seemed to have diminished Costa Rica's international prestige in recent years. Is Costa Rica suffering from democratic and institutional deterioration?

Facade of the National Theater of Costa Rica, in San José [Pixabay].

▲ Facade of the National Theater of Costa Rica, in San José [Pixabay].

article / Ramón Barba

The political unrest of recent years in Costa Rica, in a regional context of the "angry vote" and the consequent "outsider phenomenon", has given the impression of a setback in the country's institutional virtues. The goal of this article is to determine, based on different indicators on democratic health and economic and political satisfaction, if there are objective data that ratify this perception.

For this purpose we will first analyze a set of indicators, elaborated by the World Bank, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and The Economist magazine, and then we will also take into account some results of the survey Latinobarómetro. We will compare the values recorded in 2010, 2013, 2016 and, when possible, 2018.


Regarding the Democracy Index elaborated by The Economist, although Costa Rica maintains its second place among Latin American democracies, behind Uruguay and ahead of Chile (these are the three countries that usually obtain better grade in the different institutional parameters of the region), in the last decade a Costa Rican democratic decline is observed, apparently overcome in the most recent report. From a score of 8.04 achieved in the 2010 Democracy Index, Costa Rica dropped to 8.03 in 2013 and 7.88 in 2016, to regain ground in 2018 with an 8.07. The country remains the best democracy in Central America, followed at a distance by a stable Panama.

The deterioration of recent years has also been picked up by the Index of development of Democracies in Latin America (IDD-LAT), of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, which has not yet published data referring to 2018, so this index cannot endorse whether there has been a recent recovery. In 2010, Costa Rica had a score average of 9.252; it barely varied in 2013, with a figure of 9.277, but dropped clearly in 2016, with 8.539 points. The components of the index that suffered the most were welfare policy creation and economic efficiency, where it dropped from 1st and 5th place, respectively, to 8th and 12th. The fact that Costa Rica remained between 1st and 3rd place in civil and political rights and in institutional and political efficiency in those years sample shows that the social concern of those years was more in the economic sphere than in the institutional sphere.

The World Bank's Good Governanceindicators also registera small regression in the case of Costa Rica between the years 2013 and 2016 (data more recent ones have not yet been published). Regarding the Rule of Law and Government Effectiveness scales the score dropped from 0.6 and 0.5, respectively, to 0.5 and 0.4. There has been little change in the Control of Corruption scale.


evaluation citizen

The above indicators are prepared by experts who, by applying standardized criteria, seek to offer an objective estimate. But we also wanted to take into account the opinion of the citizens themselves, as expressed in the survey Latinobarómetro. These can be useful to indicate the perception that exists among the population regarding the institutional health of the country: the satisfaction that exists regarding the government system and the economic system.

The value of democracy is maintained in high percentages in Costa Rica, despite a negative trend in the region as a whole. Attending to four values that Latinobarómetro has included in its surveys corresponding to the years here chosen for our comparison, we see that indeed in 2016 the citizen perception was that of a worsening of status, but in 2018 an improvement is observed, reaching even more positive levels than in 2013. As for the evaluation of democracy, its consideration as the best system of government dropped from 77% to 72% and then has risen again to 77%, while its cataloging as a preferable system has been increasing: 53%, 60% and 63%.

The perception of the economic environment, for its part, had a blip in 2013, but today it is in better condition. The statement "progress is being made" fell from 15% to 12%, but in 2018 it reached 22%, while satisfaction with future personal economic prospects fell from 45% to 20% to stand in 2018 at 52%.


Political unrest

Costa Rica is a country that retains strong institutions, although the political landscape is more divided. test of this is the end of the two-party system (1953-2014), brought about by less support for the National Liberation Party (PLN) and the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC) and the emergence of the Citizen Action Party (PAC), to which the country's current president, Carlos Alvarado, belongs.

Corruption issues such as the "cimentazo case", the high public debt that has forced cutbacks in a country with certain well-established social benefits and a regional and international environment prone to populist solutions may be behind the political unrest observed in Costa Rica in recent years.

This occurs in a context of the "angry vote" in Latin America, which arises as a consequence of the political actions of the last twenty years in the region and a strengthening of the middle classes. Citizen dissatisfaction has led to the emergence of outsider politicians: people with relative popularity, short degree program political, without a determined strategy and with an "anti-political" speech . This is a patron saint that, although it is in the emergence of the PAC, in any case does not fully correspond to the personality of President Alvarado, who actually seems to have contributed to redirect the Costa Rican restlessness.


Thus, from the analysis of the data observed here, it can be concluded that there was indeed a slight deterioration in both institutional circumstances and especially in economic conditions or expectations between 2013 and 2016, but the different scales have returned in 2018 to previous values, even improving in some cases to levels of ten years ago. This is something that can be observed both in the indicators at position of experts that follow standardized objective procedures and in the surveys of subjective citizen perception.

The sample used and the temporal tastings carried out have not been exhaustive, so it is not possible to specify whether the variations noted here are circumstantial fluctuations or part of a trend pointing in a certain direction.

Categories Global Affairs: World order, diplomacy and governance Articles Latin America

[Condoleezza Rice, Amy B. Zegart, Political Risk: How Businesses and Organizations can Anticipate Global Insecurity. Hachette Book Group. New York, May 2019]


REVIEW / Rossina Funes Santimoni

Political Risk: How Businesses and Organizations can Anticipate Global Insecurity

Every year Stanford Graduate School of Business offers their students a seminar in Political Risk. The classes are taught by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the renowned academic Amy B. Zegart. Motivated by their students, they decided to turn their classes into a book in order to allow more people and organizations to navigate the waters of political risk.

The work titled Political Risk: How Businesses and Organizations can Anticipate Global Insecurity is divided into ten chapters. The authors start by explaining the contemporary concept of political risk. Consequently, theoretical framework is added as they advance in the explanation, in this way making it useful for the reader in order to understand, analyze, mitigate and answer efficiently to political risks. Their ultimate objective is to provide functional framework that can be utilized in any organization or by any person to improve political risk management. 

Rice and Zegart define the twenty-first-century political risk as the probability that a political action could significantly affect a company's business. Nowadays, the public and the private sphere are constantly changing and evolving. Everything is more complex and intertwined. Governments are no longer the only ones playing an important role in business decisions. The authors emphasize how companies need to efficiently deal with the political risks spawn by an increasing diversity of actors, among which is anyone with access to social average. In order to illustrate the latter, the authors make use of real-life examples, for instance the Blackfish Effect. It is named after a low-budget investigative documentary with the same title that depicted how SeaWorld Entertainment's treatment of orcas harmed both the animals and their human trainers. The film that started with one woman reading a story about orcas triggered political action at the grassroots, state and federal levels, ending up with devastating consequences from which the company has still have not recovered up to now. These cascading repercussions of the film have been denominated the Blackfish Effect. 

The work is well equipped with more examples about distinguished companies' experience. Among the organizations cited are Lego Company Group, FedEx, Royal Caribbean and Nike. Some have excelled in dealing with political risk and some have failed. However, both sides of the coin are useful to learn and to understand how the convoluted world of political risks management work.

Nowadays, risk generators perform at five intersecting levels including individuals, local organizations and governments, national governments, transnational organizations, and supranational and international institutions. Therefore, today's risks are different from the old ones, even if those still persist. With this in mind, Rice and Zegart shed a light on these days' top ten political risks: geopolitics, internal conflict, policy change, braches of contract, corruption, extraterritorial reach, natural resource manipulation, social activism, terrorism and cyber threats.

Nevertheless, even if the theory is laid out, the question still haunts us: Why is good political risk management so hard? The authors dedicate a whole chapter investigating it and conclude that there are "Five Hards". Political risk is hard to reward, hard to understand, hard to measure, hard to update, and hard to communicate. Therefore, in order to succeed at its management, one must get right the four basics: understanding, analyzing, mitigating and responding to risks. Rice and Zegart dedicate the remaining four chapters of the book expanding on each basic and, again, employing examples to better illustrate their knowledge.

The thing about political risks is that they are always there. They are imminent and we can do nothing more than try to prevent them and learn from them, to use the present in order to make the best of it for the future. It is not about predicting the future, which is impossible. "No one ever builds a disaster recovery plan that allows for the destruction of everybody in the office at 8:45 am. That is never the plan," assures Howard W. Lutnick, CEO at Cantor Fitzgerald on the how the company dealt with the 9/11 terrorist attack aftermath. Paradoxically, Rice and Zegart maintain that the best way to deal with crises is not having them. Henceforth, they dedicate a whole chapter to providing key takeaways in order to better respond to crises. Politics has always been an unpredictable business. There is no one that can discern accurately how human history is going to unfold. However, the authors are convinced that managing political risks does not have to be pure guesswork and that being prepare is essential and can improve companies performances in a great deal.

Political Risk: How Businesses and Organizations can Anticipate Global Insecurity completely revamps the way we reflect on the topic. It is easy to notice both authors proficiency in the field. On one hand, the past experiences of former U.S Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice serve as anecdotes to elucidate the build-up of the theoretical framework. It is valuable to have such a persona to act as a primary source that has lived among other high-end characters and important people in history. On the other hand we have Professor Amy B. Zegart, who with her natural eloquence excels in conveying the importance of political risk management nowadays. Consequently, everyone can get a precious lesson from this book, ranging from students that are interested in navigating the sphere, to everyday workers, company owners and public servants.

Categories Global Affairs: North America World order, diplomacy and governance Book reviews

Iran Strategic Report (July 2019)

This report will provide an in-depth analysis of Iran's role in the Middle East and its impact on the regional power balance. Studying current political and economic developments will assist in the elaboration of multiple scenarios that aim to help understand the context surrounding our subject.

J. Hodek, M. Panadero.


Iran Strategic Report (July 2019)Report [pdf. 15,5MB] [pdf. 15,5MB


This report will examine Iran's geopolitical presence and interests in the region, economic vulnerability and energy security, social and demographic aspects and internal political dynamics. These directly or indirectly affect the evolution of various international strategic issues such as the future of Iran's Nuclear Deal, United States' relations with Iran and its role in Middle East going forward. Possible power equilibrium shifts, which due to the economic and strategic importance of this particular region, possess high relevance and significant degree of impact even outside the Iranian territory with potential alteration of the regional and international order.

With the aim of presenting a more long-lasting report, several analytical techniques will be used (mainly SWOT analysis and elaboration of simple scenarios), in order to design a strategic analysis of Iran in respect to the regional power balance and the developments of the before mentioned international strategic issues. Key geopolitical data will be collected as of the announcement of the U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo on the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran on November 2, 2018 with a projection for the upcoming years, thus avoiding a simple narration of facts, which transpired so far.

First part of this report will be dedicated to a more general analysis of the geopolitical situation in the Middle East, with a closer attention to Iran's interests and influence. Then, after a closer look on the internal dynamics within Iran, several scenarios will be offered out of which some will be categorized and selected as the most probable according to the authors of this report.

Categories Global Affairs: Middle East World Order, Diplomacy and Governance Reports Iran

From Iranian strategic perspective, the Sunni-Shi'a divide is only part of its larger objective of exporting its revolution.

Military scene from a high relief from ancient Persia [Pixabay]

▲ Military scene from a high relief from ancient Persia [Pixabay]

ESSAY / Helena Pompeii

At a first glance it may seem that the most important factor shaping the dynamics in the region is the Sunni-Shi'a divide materialized in the struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran over becoming the main hegemonic power in the region. Nonetheless, from the strategic perspective of Iran this divide is only part of its larger objective of exporting its revolution.

This short essay will analyze three paths of action or policies Iran has been relying on in order to exert and expand its influence in the MENA region: i) it's anti-imperialistic foreign policy; (ii) the Sunni-Shi'a divide; and (iii) opportunism. Finally, a study case of Syria will be provided to show how Iran made use of these three courses of action to its benefit within the war.


The Sunni-Shi'a division alone would not be enough to rocket Iran into an advantaged position over Saudi Arabia, being the Shi'ites only a 13% of the total of Muslims over the world (found mainly in Iran, Pakistan, India and Iraq). [1] Even though religious affiliation can gain support of a fairly big share of the population, Iran is playing its cards along the lines of its revolutionary ideology, which consists on challenging the current international world order and particularly what Iran calls US's imperialism.

Iran does not choose its strategic allies by religious affiliation but by ideological affinity: opposition to the US and Israel. Proof of this is the fact that Iran has provided military and financial support to Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in Palestine, both of them Sunni, in their struggle versus Israel. [2] Iran's competition against Saudi Arabia could be understood as an elongation of its anti-US foreign policy, the Saudi kingdom being the other great ally of the West in the MENA region along with Israel.


Despite the religious divide not being the main reason behind the hegemonic competition among both regional powers Saudi Arabia (Sunni) and Iran (Shi'a), both states are exploiting this narrative to transcend territorial barriers and exert their influence in neighbouring countries. This rivalry materializes itself along two main paths of action: i) development of neopatrimonial and clientelistic networks, as it shows in Lebanon and Bahrain[3]; ii) and in violent proxy wars, namely Yemen and Syria.

to. Lebanon

Sectarian difference has been an inherent characteristic of Lebanon all throughout its history, finally erupting into a civil war in 1975. The Taif accords, which put an end to the strife attempted to create a power-sharing agreement that gave each group a political voice. These differences were incorporated into the political dynamics and development of blocs which are not necessarily loyal to the Lebanese state alone.

Regional dynamics of the Middle East are characterised by the blurred limits between internal and external, this reflects in the case of Lebanon, whose blocs provide space for other actors to penetrate the Lebanese political sphere. This is the case of Iran through the Shi'ite political and paramilitary organization of Hezbollah. This organization was created in 1982 as a response to Israeli intervention and has been trained, organized and provisioned by Iran ever since. Through the empowerment of Iran and its political support for Shi'a groups across Lebanon, Hezbollah has emerged as a regional power.

Once aware of the increasing Iranian influence in the region, Saudi Arabia stepped into it to counterbalance the Shi'a empowerment by supporting a range of Salafi groups across the country.

Both Riyadh and Tehran have thus established clientelistic networks through political and economic support which feed upon sectarian segmentation, furthering factionalism. Economic inflows in order to influence the region have helped developed the area between Ras Beirut and Ain al Mraiseh through investments by Riyadh, whilst Iranian economic aid has been allocated in the Dahiyeh and southern region of the country. [4]

b. Bahrain

Bahrain is also a hot spot in the fight for supremacy over the region, although it seems that Saudi Arabia is the leading power over this island of the Persian Gulf. The state is a constitutional monarchy headed by the King, Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, of the Sunni branch of Islam, and it is connected to Saudi Arabia by the King Fahd Causeway, a passage designed and built to prevent Iranian expansionism after the revolution. Albeit being ruled by Sunni elite, the majority of the country's citizens are Shia, and have in many cases complaint about political and economic repression. In 2011 protests erupted in Bahrain led by the Shi'a community, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates stepped in to suppress the revolt. Nonetheless, no links between Iran and the ignition of this manifestation have been found, despite accusations by the previously mentioned Sunni states.

The opposition of both hegemonic powers has ultimately materialized itself in the involvement on proxy wars as are the examples of Syria, Yemen, Iraq and possibly in the future Afghanistan.

c. Yemen

Yemen, in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula, is a failed state in which a proxy war fueled mainly by the interests of Saudi Arabia and Iran is taking place since the 25th of March 2015. On that date, Saudi Arabia leading an Arab coalition against the Houthis bombarded Yemen.

The ignition of the conflict began in November 2011 when President Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced to hand over his power to his deputy and current president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi (both Sunni) due to the uprisings product of the Arab Spring. [5]

The turmoil within the nation, including here al-Qaeda attacks, a separatist rising in the south, divided loyalties in the military, corruption, unemployment and lack of food, led to a coup d'état in January 2015 led by Houthi rebels. The Houthis, Shi'ite Muslims backed by Iran, seized control of a large territory in Yemen including here the capital Sana'a. A coalition led by Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-majority nations are supporting the government.

Yemen is a clear representation of dispute over regional sovereignty. This particular conflict puts the Wahhabi kingdom in great distress as it is happening right at its front door. Thus, Saudi interests in the region consist on avoiding a Shi'ite state in the Arabian Peninsula as well as facilitating a kindred government to retrieve its function as state. Controlling Yemen guarantees Saudi Arabia's influence over the Gulf of Aden and the Strait of Baab al Mandeb, thus avoiding Hormuz Strait, which is currently under Iran's reach.

On the other hand, Iran is soon to be freed from intensive intervention in the Syrian war, and thus it could send in more military and economic support into the region. Establishing a Shi'ite government in Yemen would pose an inflexion point in regional dynamics, reinforcing Iran's power and becoming a direct threat to Saudi Arabia right at its frontier. Nonetheless, Hadi's government is internationally recognized and the Sunni struggle is currently gaining support from the UK and the US.


The Golf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a political and economic alliance of six countries in the Arabian Peninsula which fail to have an aligned strategy for the region and could be roughly divided into two main groups in the face of political interests: i) those more aligned to Saudi Arabia, namely Bahrain and UAE; ii) and those who reject the full integration, being these Oman, Kuwait and Qatar.

Fragmentation within the GCC has provided Iran with an opportunity to buffer against calls for its economic and political isolation. Iran's ties to smaller Gulf countries have provided Tehran with limited economic, political and strategic opportunities for diversification that have simultaneously helped to buffer against sanctions and to weaken Riyadh. [6]

to. Oman

Oman in overall terms has a foreign policy of good relations with all of its neighbours. Furthermore, it has long resisted pressure to align its Iran policies with those of Saudi Arabia. Among its policies, it refused the idea of a GCC union and a single currency for the region introduced by the Saudi kingdom. Furthermore, in 2017 with the Qatar crisis, it opposed the marginalization of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and the UAE and stood as the only State which did not cut relations with Iran.

Furthermore, the war in Yemen is spreading along Oman's border, and it's in its best interest to bring Saudi Arabia and the Houthis into talks, believing that engagement with the later is necessary to put an end to the conflict. [7] Oman has denied transport of military equipment to Yemeni Houthis through its territory. [8]

b. Kuwait

A key aspect of Kuwait's regional policy is its active role in trying to balance and reduce regional sectarian tensions, and has often been a bridge for mediation among countries, leading the mediation effort in January 2017 to promote dialogue and cooperation between Iran and the Gulf states that was well received in Tehran. [9]

c. Qatar

It has always been in both state's interest to maintain a good relationship due to their proximity and shared ownership of the North/South Pars natural gas field. Despite having opposing interests in some areas as are the case of Syria (Qatar supports the opposition), and Qatar's attempts to drive Hamas away from Tehran. In 2017 Qatar suffered a blockade by the GCC countries due to its support for Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and militant groups linked to al-Qaeda or ISIS. During this crisis, Iran proved a good ally into which to turn.. Iran offered Qatar to use its airspace and supplied food to prevent any shortages resulting from the blockade. [10] However as it can be deduced from previous ambitious foreign policies, Qatar seeks to diversify its allies in order to protect its interests, so it would not rely solely on Iran.

Iran is well aware of the intra-Arab tensions among the Gulf States and takes advantage of these convenient openings to bolster its regional position, bringing itself out of its isolationism through the establishment of bilateral relations with smaller GCC states, especially since the outbreak of the Qatar crisis in 2017.


Iran is increasingly standing out as a regional winner in the Syrian conflict. This necessarily creates unrest both for Israel and Saudi Arabia, especially after the withdrawal of US troops from Syria. The drawdown of the US has also originated a vacuum of power which is currently being fought over by the supporters of al-Assad: Iran, Turkey and Russia.

Despite the crisis involving the incident with the Israeli F-16 jets, Jerusalem is attempting to convince the Russian Federation not to leave Syria completely under the sphere of Iranian influence.

Israel initially intervened in the war in face of increasing presence of Hezbollah in the region, especially in its positions near the Golan Heights, Kiswah and Hafa. Anti-Zionism is one of Iran's main objectives in its foreign policy, thus it is likely that tensions between Hezbollah and Israel will escalate leading to open missile conflict. Nonetheless, an open war for territory is unlikely to happen, since this will bring the UyS back in the region in defense for Israel, and Saudi Arabia would make use of this opportunity to wipe off Hezbollah.

On other matters, the axis joining Iran, Russia and Turkey is strengthening, while they gain control over the de-escalation zones.  

Both Iran and Russia have economic interests in the region. Before the outbreak of the war, Syria was one of the top exporting countries of phosphates, and in all likelihood, current reserves (estimated on over 2 billion tons) will be spoils of war for al-Assad's allies. [11]

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps took control of Palmira in 2015, where the largest production area of phosphates is present. Furthermore, Syria also signed an agreement on phosphates with Russia.

Iran has great plans for Syria as its zone of influence, and is planning to establish a seaport in the Mediterranean through which to export its petroleum by a pipeline crossing through Iraq and Syria, both under its tutelage[12]. This pipeline would secure the Shi'ite bow from Tehran to Beirut, thus weakening Saudi Arabia's position in the region. Furthermore, it would allow direct oil exports to Europe.

In relation to Russia and Turkey, despite starting in opposite bands they are now siding together. Turkey is particularly interested in avoiding a Kurdish independent state in the region, this necessarily positions the former ottoman empire against the U.S a key supporter of the Kurdish people due to their success on debilitating the Islamic State. Russia will make use of this distancing to its own benefits. It is in Russia's interest to have Turkey as an ally in Syria in order to break NATO's Middle East strategy and have a strong army operating in Syrian territory, thus reducing its own engagement and military cost. [13]

Despite things being in favour of Iran, Saudi Arabia could still take advantage of recent developments of the conflict to damage Iran's internal stability.

Ethnic and sectarian segmentation are also part of Iran's fabric, and the Government's repression against minorities within the territory –namely Kurds, Arabs and Baluchis- have caused insurgencies before. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States aligned with its foreign policy, such as the UAE are likely to exploit resentment of the minorities in order to destabilized Iran's internal politics.

The problem does not end there for Iran. Although ISIS being wiped off the Syrian territory, after falling its last citadel in Baguz[14], this is not the end of the terrorist group. Iran's active role in fighting Sunni jihadists through Hezbollah and Shi'ite militias in Syria and Iraq has given Islamist organization a motivation to defy Tehran.

Returning foreign fighters could scatter over the region creating cells and even cooperating with Sunni separatist movements in Ahwaz, Kurdistan or Balochistan. Saudi Arabia is well aware of this and could exploit the Wahhabi narrative and exert Sunni influence in the region through a behind-the-scenes financing of these groups.


[1] Mapping the Global Muslim Population, Pew Research Center, 2009

[4] Ibid.

[7] Reuters 'Yemen's Houthis and Saudi Arabia in secret talks to end war', 15 March, 2018

[8] Bayoumy, Y. (2016), 'Iran steps up weapons supply to Yemen's Houthis via Oman', Reuters, 30 October.

[9] Coates Ulrichsen, K., 'Walking the tightrope: Kuwait, Iran relations in the aftermath of the Abdali affair', Gulf States Analytics, 9 August, 2017

[10] Kamrava, M. 'Iran-Qatar Relations', in Bahgat, Ehteshami and Quilliam (2017), Security and Bilateral Issues Between Iran and Its Neighbours.

[11] The current situation in Syria, Giancarlo Elia Valori, Modern Diplomacy, January 2019

[12] Iran in the Era of the Trump Administration, Beatriz Yubero Parro, IEEE, 2017

[13]  The current situation in Syria, Giancarlo Elia Valori, Modern Diplomacy, January 2019

Categories Global Affairs: Middle East World Order, Diplomacy and Governance Tests Iran

The need for labour has traditionally led Sweden to welcome waves of immigrants; Sectors of society today experience it as a problem

Oresund Bridge, between Denmark and Sweden, seen from Swedish territory [Wikipedia]

▲ Oresund Bridge, between Denmark and Sweden, seen from Swedish territory [Wikipedia]

ANALYSIS / Jokin de Carlos

Sweden has had a reputation, since World War II, for being a country open to immigrants and for developing tolerant and open social policies. However, the increase in issue The slow cultural adaptation of some of these new communities, especially the Muslims, and the problems of violence generated in areas of greater vulnerability have led to an intense discussion in Swedish society. The view that a generous migration policy may be destroying Swedish identity and making life more difficult for native Swedes has fuelled the vote of some civil service examination The Social Democrats last year revalidated public support for a government that maintains traditional policies with a certain greater emphasis on the expulsion of those whose application has been rejected.

Migration policy

One of Sweden's historical problems has been its leave By the 1960s, the fertility rate had fallen to the threshold of 2.1 children per woman needed for population replacement. That was something that threatened Sweden's notorious welfare state, because of the need for tax revenues to maintain generous public services, so the country promoted the influx of immigrants. At the same time, the need for manpower was also raised by the development of the national industry.

Sweden emerged from World War II in good condition. It did not suffer the destruction of other nations, as it remained territorially on the margins of the conflict, and it was able to consolidate a metallurgical industry that, thanks to the production of its iron mines, had benefited from selling to both sides in the war. That development required a great deal of work that the leave The concentration of the population on the coast and in the south, outside the industrial centres, made it difficult to gather. In addition, Sweden's welfare state and continued decades of peace created a class average that he did not want to work in the new industry because of the low wages it offered to be competitive.

To solve the labor shortage and thus maintain economic progress, Sweden turned to immigration since the 1950s. The government first opened the border to asylum seekers or work and then built clusters of dwellings, usually of leave near industrial areas where newcomers could find jobs without any language. When the cultural impact of these additions was too great in some areas, the government proceeded to close the borders, restricting immigration. When new workers were needed, the government reopened the border.

This system helped to advance economically, but it also isolated many social groups, who were stuck in low-income areas with little possibility of development or social integration.

development historical

Both during and after World War II, Sweden was an important destination for people from Norway, Denmark, Poland, Finland and the Baltic Republics escaping war or the destruction it created; It was also a neutral destination for many Jews. In 1944, there were more than 40,000 refugees in Sweden; While many returned to their countries after the war, a group A considerable number of them remained, mainly Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians, whose home nations were incorporated into the USSR.

In 1952, Sweden, Denmark and Norway formed the committee Nordic, creating a area of free trade and freedom of movement, which Finland joined in 1955. With this, thousands of migrants went to Sweden to work in the industry, mainly from Finland but also from Norway, which had not yet discovered its oil reserves. This increased the percentage of the immigrant population from 2% in 1945 to 7% in 1970. All this helped Tage Erlander (Prime Minister of Sweden from 1946 to 1969) to create the project "Strong Society", aimed at increasing the public sector and the welfare state. However, this influx of labour began to harm native Swedish workers, and consequently, in 1967, trade unions began to pressure Erlander to limit labour immigration to the Nordic countries.

In 1969, Erlander resigned from the position and was replaced by his protégé, Olof Palme. Palme was a member of the most radical wing of the Social Democrats and wanted to further increase the welfare state, continuing the project of its predecessor on a larger scale.

In order to attract a larger workforce without angering unions, Palme began using pro-refugee rhetoric, opening Sweden's borders to people escaping dictatorships and war. At the same time, these people would be moved to industrial neighborhoods, built especially for them in nearby industrial areas where they would work. At the same time, Palme sought to make Sweden an attractive country for immigrants through assimilation policies in favor of multiculturalism.

During this period, people of many nationalities began to arrive in the country: from those fleeing conflict in Yugoslavia or martial law in Poland to those fleeing the Middle East and Latin America. These new populations settled far from native Swedish demographics; Because of this, many neighborhoods in the class They became isolated ghettos. In 1986, Palme was assassinated and his successor, Ingvar Carlsson, changed immigration policy and began accepting only those they configured as refugees from the United States. agreement with United Nations standards.

During the 1990s, increased conflicts in places like Somalia, Yugoslavia, and several African nations increased the flow of war refugees, with many of them going to Sweden. The Ministry of Migration and Asylum Policy was established in 1996. However, the two largest movements of people from foreign countries would occur in the wake of the subsequent conflicts in Iraq and Syria. The conservative government of Fredrik Reinfeldt began taking in a large volume of Iraqi refugees, who in 2006 became the country's second-largest minority, after the Finns. In 2015, the Social Democratic government of Stefan Löfven opened the border to Syrian refugees, who arrived en masse, fleeing the Syrian Civil War and the push of Daesh.

This succession of waves of immigrants from the Middle East aggravated some problems: in many neighborhoods, outsiders don't feel like they're in Sweden, mainly because they were built to "not be Sweden"; In addition, difficult integration and low-paying jobs fuel gangs and organized crime. All of this led Löfven to implement a stricter migration policy in 2017, accepting fewer asylum seekers and beginning to expel those whose asylum claims had been denied.

As you can see, the trend in Sweden is to open borders to immigration when it is needed and to close them when it starts to cause social tensions.

Origins of the Immigrant Population

Sweden has become a very ethnically diverse society, where almost 22% of the population has a foreign background. Until 2015, the largest ethnic minority in the country were Finns, who numbered more than 200,000 at the end of the last century. In the wake of the war in Iraq and the Syrian migration crisis, people from the Middle East have become the largest group.

Currently, 8% of the inhabitants of Sweden come from a country with a Muslim majority – mainly from Syria and Iraq, but also from Iran – although only 1.4% of the population practices the Muslim religion (around 140,000 people in 2017), as there are also immigrants from these countries with other religious affiliations. such as Christians, Druze, Yazidis or Zoroastrians. These numbers may have increased slightly, though not to cause very drastic changes in demographics.

Despite not being particularly numerous, the Muslim community has generated media attention as a result of various controversies. In 2006, Mahmoud Aldebe, a member of the committee A Muslim from Sweden, he put forward in a letter to the political parties of the Riksdag and the Swedish government especially controversial demands, such as the right to specific Islamic holidays, special public funding for the construction of mosques, that all divorces between Muslim couples be approved by an imam, and that imams be allowed to teach Islam to Muslim children in public schools. These demands were rejected by the authorities and the class Sweden's politics. It has also been the case that some Muslim associations or mosques have invited radical preachers, such as Haitham al-Haddad or Said Rageahs, whose lectures were eventually banned.

Vulnerable Areas and Organized Crime

The Swedish government has designated some neighbourhoods as Vulnerable Areas (Utsatt Område). They are not strictly "No-Go Zones", because they can be entered by police officers, health services or the media. These are areas of lower security that require greater attention from the authorities.

Some of them are located in Malmö, the city with the highest crime rate in the country, mainly due to its location. Malmö is located on the other side of the Oresund Bridge, which connects Denmark to Sweden and is the only overland route between Sweden and the mainland without having to go around the Baltic. There, various gangs and mafias participate in drug and human trafficking, while at the same time confronting each other in a struggle for control of space. Groups of this subject they also operate in Rotterdam, in relation to the activity generated by its important port.

Despite the impression given by certain anti-immigration messages, crime in Sweden is at levels similar to those of 2006. After that year, the issue crime prices fell, only to rise again in 2010 and 2012. A link could be made between this rise and the economic crisis, which led to an increase in unemployment, but its link to immigration records is less clear. The arrival of Iraqis in 2005 did not lead to greater insecurity on the streets of Sweden, nor has the reception of Syrians in recent years. Sweden's homicide rate is 1.1 per 100,000 inhabitants – below many other European countries – and there are more crimes recorded by native Swedes than by foreigners, according to the committee Swedish National Crime Prevention.

However, the mafias operating in Sweden are mostly made up of certain ethnic groups. His training it stemmed especially from the influx of people from Yugoslavia, both workers in the 1970s and refugees from the Balkan wars of the 1990s. Chief among these groups, known as the Yugo Mafia, is today led by Milan Ševo, nicknamed "The Godfather of Stockholm." Other groups include K-Falangen and Naserligan, composed of Albanians; the Werefolf Legion, made up of South Americans, and the Gangsters, originally made up of the Assyrians (Syria's Christian minority). However, one of the largest is Brödraskapet or the Brotherhood, founded in 1995, with more than 700 members who are all native Swedes and with a large presence in Swedish prisons.


Migratory movements in Sweden between 1850 and 2007. In red, arrival of immigrants; in blue, departure of emigrants [Wikipedia-Koyos]

Migratory movements in Sweden between 1850 and 2007. In red, arrival of immigrants; in blue, departure of emigrants [Wikipedia-Koyos]



Since 2011 there have been three terrorist attacks in Sweden; A fourth attack could have been avoided as its preparation was detected in time. The first was made by Anton Lundin Pettersson, a Swedish neo-Nazi who in 2015 attacked the Trollhättan School, killing four people, all of them immigrants. The next was perpetrated by the Nordic Resistance Movement, a neo-Nazi organization, which acted against a refugee center and the café of a left-wing organization; Only one person was injured in the attack. The third, the most well-known, was perpetrated in 2017 by a man from Uzbekistan apparently recruited by Daesh, who rammed a truck into pedestrians in central Stockholm, killing five people and injuring fourteen.

Of the three attacks, only one was jihadist-motivated, unlike the weight that Islamist terrorism has had in other European countries with larger Muslim populations. In any case, the segregation experienced in some communities and the radical indoctrination that takes place in them led young Swedish Muslims to go to Syria to join Daesh and the authorities are closely monitoring their possible return.

Hits and misses

For a long time, the European left held up Sweden as an example of model successful social democrat; Now, from certain right-wing groups, he is held up as an example of failed multiculturalism. Both statements are probably an exaggeration for partisan purposes. However, the truth is that Sweden has a generous well-being that is difficult to maintain, and that in its also generous opening of borders it has made mistakes that have not facilitated the integration of the new population. Everything seems to indicate that Löfven continues the path he began in 2017 and there has been an increase in police presence on the streets as well as a hardening of immigration policies, in turn following the policies made in Denmark.

Time will have to pass to see what results these policies will have in a future Sweden.

In Norse mythology, Valhalla is a huge, majestic hall that, in the afterlife, heroes aspire to enter

Categories Global Affairs: European Union World order, diplomacy and governance Analysis

[Winston Lord, Kissinger on Kissinger. Reflections on Diplomacy, Grand Strategy, and Leadership. All Points Books. New York, 2019. 147 p.]

review / Emili J. Blasco

Kissinger on Kissinger. Reflections on Diplomacy, Grand Strategy, and Leadership

At 96 years old, Henry Kissinger sees the publication of another book largely his own: the transcription of a series of long interviews related to the main foreign actions of the Nixon Administration, in which he served as national security adviser and secretary of state. Although he himself has already written extensively about those moments and has provided documentation for others to write about – as in the case of the biography of Niall Ferguson, whose first volume appeared in 2015 – Kissinger wanted to return to that period of 1969-1974 to offer a synthesis of the strategic principles that motivated the decisions taken at the time. There are no new developments, but there are details that may be of interest to historians of that time.

The work does not respond to Kissinger's last-minute desire to influence a particular reading of his work. bequest. In fact, the initiative to maintain the dialogues transcribed here did not come from him. It is, however, part of a wave of vindication of the presidency of Richard Nixon, whose strategic vision in international politics was tarnished by Watergate. The Nixon Foundation promoted the making of a series of videos, including various interviews with Kissinger, carried out throughout 2016. These were led by Winston Lord, partner during his time in the White House and in the department of State, together with K. T. McFarland, would then be a civil servant under him (and, for a few months, issue two of the committee of Homeland Security under Donald Trump). More than two years later, that conversation with Kissinger is now published in a small-format and short work. His last books had been "China" (2011) and "World Order" (2014).

Kissinger's oral history here deals with a few issues that focused his activity as a great architect of American foreign policy: the opening to China, the détente with Russia, the end of the Vietnam War, and the greater involvement in the Middle East. Although the conversation goes into detail and provides various anecdotes, what is substantial is what can be extracted beyond these specifics: they are the "reflections on diplomacy, grand strategy and leadership" indicated by the subtitle of the book. It might be tiresome to re-read the intra-history of a diplomatic action about which the protagonist himself has already been prolific, but on this occasion reflections are offered that transcend the specific historical period, which for many may already be very far away, as well as interesting recommendations on the decision-making processes in leadership positions.

Kissinger provides some clues, for example, on why the United States has consolidated the committee of National Security as an instrument of the president's foreign action, with an autonomous – and sometimes conflictive – life with respect to the department of State. The Nixon Administration was its great promoter, following the suggestion of Eisenhower, for whom Nixon had been vice president: interdepartmental coordination in foreign policy could hardly be done from a single point of view. department –the administrative office of state, but had to be carried out from the White House itself. While the National Security Adviser can concentrate on those actions that are most in the president's interest, the Secretary of State is obliged to disperse further, having to attend to a multitude of fronts. Moreover, unlike the greater promptness of the department in support of the Commander-in-Chief, the department The State of State, accustomed to elaborating multiple alternatives for each international issue, may take time to fully assume the direction imposed by the White House.

In terms of negotiating strategy, Kissinger rejects the idea of privately setting a maximum goal and then trim it little by little, like slices of a salami, as you reach the end of the negotiation. Instead, he proposes to set from the beginning the basic goals that one would like to achieve – perhaps adding 5% because something will have to be given – and to spend a lot of time explaining them to the other party, with the idea of reaching a conceptual understanding. Kissinger advises a good understanding of what motivates the other party and what their own objectives are, because "if you impose your interests, without linking them to the interests of others, you will not be able to sustain your efforts," since at the end of the negotiation the parties have to be willing to support what has been achieved.

As on other occasions, Kissinger does not take sole credit for the Nixon Administration's diplomatic successes. While the press and a certain part of academia have given greater recognition to the former Harvard professor, Kissinger himself has insisted that it was Nixon who decisively set the policies, the maturation of which had previously been carried out separately, before collaborating in the White House. However, it is perhaps in this book that Kissinger's words most praise the former president, perhaps because he was made in the framework of an initiative born from the Nixon Foundation.

 "Nixon's fundamental contribution was to establish a patron saint of foreign policy thinking, which is seminal," Kissinger says. According to him, the traditional way of approaching U.S. foreign action had been to segment issues in order to try to solve them as individuated problems, making their resolution the question itself. "Nixon was – apart from the Founding Fathers and, I would say, Teddy Roosevelt – the American president who thought of foreign policy as grand strategy. For him, foreign policy was the structural improvement of the relationship between countries so that the balance of their self-interests promoted global peace and the security of the United States. And he thought about this in terms of relative long-range."

Those who have little sympathy for Kissinger – a character of passionate defenders but also staunch critics – will see in this work another exercise in self-congratulation and self-aggrandizement typical of the former adviser. To stay at that stage would be to waste a work that contains interesting reflections and I think that it completes well the thought of someone of such relevance in the history of international relations. What Affirmation staff Rather, the publication refers to Winston Lord, who here claims to be Kissinger's right-hand man at the time: in the first pages the complete photo of the interview between Nixon and Mao appears, the margins of which were cut off at the time by the White House so that Lord's presence would not disturb the secretary of state. who was not invited to the historic trip to Beijing.

Categories Global Affairs: North America World order, diplomacy and governance Book reviews