In January 2016, oil prices fell to their lowest levels in more than a decade. Meanwhile, China, the world’s second-largest economy, is experiencing its most sluggish growth in a quarter-century—dragging down commodity prices and dampening the global economic outlook. The effects of this broad slowdown will hurt African economies more than most, because China and other emerging markets are not only primary consumers of African commodities, but also are the primary source of financing for the major infrastructure and other development projects that are essential to Africa’s future growth.
Russia’s increasingly hostile actions and the emerging Anti-Access/Area-Denial (A2/AD) challenge in Europe’s northeast have demonstrated that bolstering defense and deterrence on NATO’s eastern flank is a strategic imperative for the Alliance–especially for the Baltic states. An effective maritime framework would be a critical element in an integrated NATO deterrence and reassurance strategy for the Baltic Sea region.
2015 brought important reforms to Ukraine, particularly in the energy sector. It is in this light that Dr. Anders Åslund, Resident Senior Fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, examines the promises kept and broken by the Post-Maidan government in Ukraine. “Never before has a Ukrainian government carried out so many sensible energy reforms, and in no other area has the Ukrainian government achieved reforms as radical as in the energy sector in 2015” states Dr. Aslund.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the next step in the evolution of wireless networks. Analysts predict the IoT will double in size to nearly 50 billion devices by 2020, comprising a $1.7 trillion market. One of the greatest opportunities still lies ahead in the form of the “smart home.”
Far-right parties are on the rise in Europe, particularly in the post-soviet space. The 2008 financial crisis provided these parties with an electoral boost, and the refugee crisis threatening the continent has inflamed nationalist and xenophobic populism. In this new issue brief, “What’s Left of Europe if the Far Right Has Its Way?”, Dr. Alina Polyakova, Deputy Director of the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, and Dr. Anton Shekhovtsov, a visiting fellow at the Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna, Austria, explore the realities and repercussions of the rise of far-right parties in Eastern Europe.
NATO exercises play a vital role in ensuring that Alliance forces can respond to any contingency quickly and effectively. In light of new threats along NATO’s eastern and southern borders, exercises have become increasingly important. Alliance exercises improve militaries’ operational skills, reassure member states, and deter NATO adversaries. Despite its importance, NATO’s exercise program as it currently stands is not as efficient and effective as it could be.
With a population of almost 80 million people and unparalleled natural resources, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the DRC or the Congo) is a country of tremendous potential—but only that. One of the most violent places on earth, its people suffer from the brutality of armed groups and political instability. Now, President Joseph Kabila’s steadfast refusal to move forward with constitutionally required elections in 2016 is a worrying indicator that new waves of violence may not be far off.
In December 2015, a forty-year ban on US crude oil exports lifted. Rapid advancements in US shale oil production played a crucial role in lifting this ban. However, in an energy market awash in oil surplus, whilst large-scale exports are unlikely, there is a significant appetite for “test cargoes” globally.
In recent years, the ambitious Russian military build-up, coupled with revanchist Russian rhetoric and increasingly aggressive behavior, has made it clear that the security environment in the Baltic Sea region has changed. This situation is likely to last for a long time, emphasizing the need for a coherent response and deeper defense cooperation. In "Enhanced Defense Cooperation: New Opportunities for US engagement in the Baltic Sea Region," the Swedish Embassy's Defense Adviser Johan Raeder argues that it is in the interests of Finland and Sweden, already strong partners, to contribute to Baltic security by facilitating NATO's efforts and promoting US engagement and presence. Whether developing NATO's Readiness Action Plan, planning for Baltic Air Policing, or supporting forces stationed in Europe, enhanced Finnish and Swedish defense cooperation would provide the United States with new opportunities and help develop standards for smart defense.
On January 16, 2016, the International Atomic Energy Agency verified that Iran had implemented key measures under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. As a result, nuclear-related sanctions previously imposed by the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States were lifted. The removal of these sanctions opens up a wide range of possibilities for investment in and trade with Iran.