While there is perhaps more than a touch of politics behind the timing of the tweet—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, is likely to get a boost ahead of elections on April 9—an actual shift in US policy on this sensitive issue could have serious consequences.
The presence of US troops and military equipment in Europe is important, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph F. Dunford said on March 21, as Moscow would “be much happier if there was not a physical manifestation of our commitment to NATO because their message that we are not willing to meet our alliance [commitments] would be much easier to sell.”
It wasn’t all bad news for Rutte. His liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) still placed second and his government will not, as it feared, be completely dependent on the Greens in the new Senate. It should be able to do deals with the Labor Party and smaller parties on the center-right as well.
Despite a year of public criticism and uncertainty on both sides of the Atlantic, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hailed 2018 as a year of tremendous progress for the transatlantic Alliance. Launching his Annual Report for 2018 on March 14, Stoltenberg said allies are “doing a lot more together — in more ways and in more places — than ever before.”
Throughout 2018, NATO allies and their partners took steps to bolster the Alliance’s capabilities, strengthen its defense, and respond to changing security threats and technologies. Here is a quick look at what the Alliance accomplished in 2018, according to Stoltenberg’s new report.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s choice of the United States for his first official international visit as president did not come as a surprise given his vocal desire to reposition Brazil closer to the United States and his admiration for US President Donald J. Trump.
Bolsonaro was joined on his March 18-19 visit by six of his twenty-two ministers, including Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, Justice Minister Sérgio Moro, and Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo. The Brazilians had a clear agenda: expand and deepen the areas of cooperation between the two largest economies in the Western hemisphere and gain the support Brazil needs to further attract trade and foreign direct investment.
This MoU is not a trade agreement—only the European Union (EU) can sign trade agreements—but rather part of a political initiative that was launched in 2012 when eleven EU member states and five Balkan countries signed an MoU with China on investment, transport, finance, science, education, and culture.
On March 19, Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, made a brief statement on television declaring that he would resign the next day. Why prompted his decision and what will be its consequences?
Nazarbayev has discussed his possible resignation aloud for the last couple of years, so it appeared to have been well-prepared. He is seventy-eight, has ruled Kazakhstan since 1989, and is considered to be in frail health, so his decision to resign makes perfect sense. He sets a good example for the region, where leaders have been ousted or other former colleagues in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan have died in office. His voluntary and well-planned resignation shows that Nazarbayev remained in full control and by no means was forced out.
President steps down after almost thirty years in office
By resigning from the presidency after almost thirty years, Nursultan Nazarbayev may have given his greatest gift to Kazakhstan: a peaceful transition to a new generation following nearly three decades of stability—a stability that was likely solidified by Nazarbayev’s willingness to commit human rights abuses and corruption.
Nothing should be taken for granted. In general, transitions in the former Soviet Union have proved difficult, sometimes involving revolutions, internal coups, and last-minute changes in the succession before the new leader takes control.
But although Nazarbayev effectively became president-for-life in 2007 when he secured a right to contest presidential elections indefinitely, he has in fact been planning carefully for at least twelve years to ensure a smooth transition in the event of his retirement or death in office.