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Geopolitics

  • The Real Reason Behind Argentina's Renewed Interest in the Falkland Islands

    Argentina is persisting with its claims to the Falkland Islands, perhaps with a dangerous insistence that many in London had underestimated. Hector Timerman, the Argentine Foreign Minister, recently made outlandish statements and claims, and led open rows with British officials during his recent visit to London.As Argentina’s claims on the islands began to resurface again, last year Britain had to divert assets and investment from other more pressing situations in West Africa and the Middle East, in order to build up its naval forces in the South Atlantic.Stripping away the layers it is actually interesting to look at the history…

  • With Jewell, Obama Says Go Green or Go Home

    Sally Jewell, President Barack Obama's choice to replace Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, comes with a resume filled not only with big oil credentials but also with environmental street credibility. The top executive at outdoor retailer Recreational Equipment Inc has no government experience and yet comes to a job with historic divisions over allegiance. Her pro-business qualifications may give those in the energy sector something to rally around as they press harder for access to public lands. Energy hawks, however, have taken a wait-and-see approach. Environmentalists, meanwhile, lauded the choice because of her "love" for conservation. While boasting a resume that…

  • Assassination in Tunisia, Trigger for Revolutionary Revival

    Bottom Line: The assassination on 6 February of opposition politician Chokri Belaid, a notable opponent of the Islamist-led government, is the trigger that will push the ongoing political crisis and socio-economic unrest over the edge. The public response to the shooting of Belaid outside his home in the capital Tunis was immediate and country-wide. Protests, always ongoing, have erupted with a renewed force giving a common voice to what will be a definitive popular uprising. Islamist officials had late last year warned of a military coup, which may now become a self-fulfilling prophecy.Analysis: Unlike Egypt, Tunisia has a secular president,…

  • Turkish Leftist Group Claims Ankara Bombing

    Bottom Line: A leftist group has claimed responsibility for the bombing of the US Embassy in Ankara, but if this is a message about Turkey’s role in the Syrian conflict then it sets a dangerous precedent for Turkish security and the first real blowback for its actions in support of the Syrian opposition. Analysis: The leftist Revolutionary People’s Liberation Army (DHKP-C) has claimed responsibility on its website for the 1 February suicide attack on the US Embassy in Ankara. As you know from our earlier cable, the attacker blew himself up just inside the security gatehouse and the single casualty…

  • The Syrian End Game: A Private Actor Arena

    Bottom Line: Our attempts at offering probability scenarios for an end game in Syria are crippled by the intensified meddling of a growing number of private actors who have formed dubious alliances. These private actors have exponentially increased their footprint in Syria and this is causing reverberations among the Syrian rebel formations, as well as additional splits that have too many groups vying for weapons, funding and logistics support. This meddling is working to further sideline the Syrian opposition’s attempts at overthrowing Assad. Analysis: The profile of one particular group presents a troubling scenario as it involves private actors from…

  • Africa No.1 Risk Area for Oil Tankers

    First, the good news.Piracy off Somalia is down. In 2012, there were 297 piracy attacks and 28 hijackings worldwide, according to the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Center, with 75 incidents attributed to Somali pirates, who captured 250 hostages.Royal Dutch Navy Commodore Ben Bekkering, the former commander of the NATO counter piracy task force, said, “The numbers of successful pirate attacks are going down, but I am also pretty sure that as soon as we turn away and go somewhere else, they will be back in big numbers.” In the past few years, NATO and the U.S. have led multinational…

  • Foreign Energy Investors Should Not Give Up on Egypt

    Egypt is not only hungry for energy—it’s starving, and this starvation will play a role in the underlying revolutionary instability that has foreign investors asking whether the other boot is about to drop and should they quit the country. Most immediately, Egypt is hoping to buy 968,000 tons of diesel fuel for April-June delivery to stave off a worse energy crisis amid country-wide protests that threaten the Muslim Brotherhood’s hold on power ahead of April parliamentary elections. The past four weeks have been very rough—against the backdrop of political unrest, tensions simmer as a result of fuel shortages that have…

  • Mali, Nigeria, and the Bigger Picture

    The Mali War will be neither simple nor quick, ‘though the players all wish it so.  Timboctou, almost a year in the hands of militants, had fallen to French and Malian forces by January 29, 2013. It appeared to the world’s media that the domination of Northern Mali by self-styled jihadist fighters - most of them intruders from a range of foreign countries - was rapidly coming to an end. By January 30, 2013, the last al-Qaida-linked rebel town, Kidal, had been cleared of jihadists. Gao, in the south-east, had been taken by French and Malian forces before that, and…

  • U.S. Violating its Own Sanctions on Iran

    An audit of U.S. defense spending in Afghanistan finds the Pentagon may have spent a significant amount of money on fuel for the military there that came from Iran. Congress appropriated billions of dollars of taxpayer money to support the Afghan military and the lack of strict oversight means some of that money may have wound up in Tehran's coffers. A week ago, Iran said it was taking pre-emptive measures by cutting off whatever is left of its European consumer base from oil and natural gas. Demand from vibrant Asian economies, meanwhile, has provided a boost to Iranian oil exports.…

  • Investors Beware: Egypt's Revolution is Not Over

    In April, Egypt will hold crucial parliamentary elections. Preparations for this are being undertaken against an extremely volatile backdrop of violent protests, a state of emergency in three key provinces, weapons caches discovered in Cairo, and growing calls from radical Salafi forces who think the Muslim Brotherhood has far too moderate an agenda. All of these should be warning signs for investors, if economic indicators aren’t enough. Popular Uprising, Take IIA number of developments over the past months, weeks and days have triggered country-wide unrest in Egypt, which was already volatile. •    The Muslim Brotherhood president made a very controversial…