Articles

WASHINGTON — Libya’s future looked promising after its dictator was overthrown nearly three-years-ago.
 
But its recent history has been chaotic: a succession of weak prime ministers at the mercy of militias more loyal to regions, ideologies and individuals rather than to a central government in Tripoli.

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Given the large turnover in newly elected members of both houses of Congress and the ascent of the twenty-somethings to positions of power in the White House, it is pretty clear why American governments suffer from near fatal bouts of historical amnesia or, worse, ignorance.  Understanding the past is not a panacea for predicting the future.  But not every crisis or issue is tabula rosa and many have roots deep in history.

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REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvil

One of Europe’s Most Persistent Conflicts Simmers on in Ukraine’s Shadow

Twenty years after Armenians and Azerbaijanis signed a truce in their war over Nagorno-Karabakh, almost no subsequent progress has been made in settling what is one of Europe’s most persistent remaining conflicts. Instead, especially in the past few years, sniper attacks, shelling and land mines have killed increasing numbers of people – most recently about thirty annually. Armenia and Azerbaijan are increasing their military budgets. Baku in particular has raised its military spending from $175 million in 2003, the year that President Ilham Aliyev was inaugurated, to $3.7 billion in 2013. The crisis surrounding Ukraine, and particularly Russia’s annexation of Crimea, is making resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict even more elusive.

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Riyadh and Abu Dhabi Get to Work

Since the formation of the modern Arab state system in the mid-twentieth century, no Arab country has succeeded in building and sustaining an indigenous national defense industry. Egypt tried hard, but ultimately failed because it lacked the requisite financial and human capital. Under Saddam Hussein, Iraq came closest, thanks to its skilled population and oil wealth, but it was stymied by corruption, mismanagement, and war. The Gulf countries, meanwhile, have spent lavish sums on the most modern U.S. and European arms, which they often lack expertise in handling and servicing. "Arabs don't do maintenance," the adage went.

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How can Latin American cities achieve inclusive development?

In April, a record 22,000 people attended the seventh World Urban Forum, convened by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), in Medellín, Colombia. This nearly doubled attendance from four years ago. Growing interest in urban development highlights how cities are increasingly transcending boundaries to shape national and global policy.

At the Forum, Medellin’s innovations and transformations took center stage and provided a roadmap for achieving inclusive growth. Across Latin America, Medellín is cited as an urban planning model in areas such as citizen mobility, public-private collaboration, and participatory governance. Still, Latin American cities remain the most unequal in the world. What will the future of these cities look like?

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Migration has dramatically reshaped Georgia. More than one million people have left the country due to the civil wars, unrest, unemployment, and overall chaos in the country following the breakup of the Soviet Union. This has resulted in a demographic crunch, an aging population, and low birth rates. But Georgians abroad are also the bedrock of the country’s financial well-being: some $1.3 billion in remittances were sent to Georgia in 2012, according to government figures, constituting roughly 8.4 percent of Georgia’s gross domestic product (GDP). Georgians abroad can further help their country’s Euro-Atlantic integration through investment, skills transfer, and sharing of best business and government practices.

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The results of last week's Geneva conference on Ukraine offer a glimmer of hope. We're a long way from seeing calm return to Ukraine, but the text of the agreement provides the most hopeful sign yet that a Crimea redux, or worse, can be averted in the Donbas, Ukraine's turbulent, Russophone east.

That's one take on what happened at Geneva.

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As U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gear up for a timely summit, a festering sense of uncertainty and unease stalks the U.S.-Japan alliance as it approaches a critical juncture.

After an exciting first year marked by renewed economic dynamism and impressive efforts to enhance Japan’s global strategic posture, Abe’s pragmatic streak appears to have been overshadowed by his conservative nationalism, marked by his Dec. 26 visit to Yasukuni Shrine to pay homage to Japan’s war dead.

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Atlantic Council's New Eurasia Center Director is Former Envoy to Kyiv

John Herbst, the newly appointed director of the Atlantic Council's Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, served as the US ambassador to Ukraine from 2003 to 2006. Here, he offers an overview of the crisis in Ukraine.

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Russia-Ukraine Crisis Is Now Unlikely to Let Russian Gas Keep Flowing Smoothly to Europe 

European countries from Germany and Poland to Italy and Turkey now need to ensure they have emergency plans in place to deal with a possible cut-off of Russian gas supplies. At risk are the roughly one-fifth of their supplies delivered via pipelines through Ukraine, and even greater volumes if other Russian pipelines are affected.  Any one of several events could reduce or halt this flow, which amounts to around 86 billion cubic meters a year.

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