Asia

  • Putin Muscles into Africa

    Russian leader Vladimir Putin recently bought himself into an African country for a relative pittance, working through Yevgeny Prigozhin, his favorite contractor for such special projects, which have ranged from tipping US elections to saving Syria’s dictator.
     
    With that partner, he won an insider’s influence over the strategically placed Central African Republic (CAR) and priority access to its oil, diamonds, gold and uranium resources. At least that’s how one US government official, with years of experience tracking such matters, explains this bargain basement price of geopolitical cunning.

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  • Holly Dagres interviewed in BBC Newsroom: Could Iran-Japan talks lead to a Trump summit?


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  • Barbara Slavin quoted in Think Progress: Japanese PM’s visit to Iran might cool tensions between Tehran and Washington


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  • Mark Katz quoted in Lobe Log: Will US And Israel Convince Russia To Alter Its Syria Policy?


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  • Japan’s Historic Opportunity to Play Peacemaker Between the US and Iran

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will finally make a trip to Iran on June 12. Since becoming prime minister at the end of 2012, every time Abe attempted to visit Tehran, the idea was eventually withdrawn mainly due to US disapproval, according to rumors. 

    However, Prime Minister Abe has met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani seven times already, not only in New York on the sideline of the UN General Assembly every year since 2013, but also at the sixtieth annual Asia-Africa Conference in Indonesia during 2015. The Tehran visit will be the eighth meeting between Abe and Rouhani. It will be the first visit by a Japanese prime minister since 1978. (However, it will be Abe’s second visit to Iran since he accompanied his father, then Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe, in 1983.)

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  • Trump's Risky Trade Game

    The effectiveness of President Donald Trump’s unprecedented weaponization of tariffs in addressing non-trade issues is facing its most significant tests yet in Mexico and China.
     
    In the case of Mexico, he had threatened new 5% tariffs on Mexican goods – which were to be imposed as early as Monday. The aim was to force the Mexican government to stem the flood of undocumented migrants across US borders.

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  • A Close Call: US and Russian Ships Avoid Collision

    The near collision of US and Russian warships in the Philippine Sea on June 7 is just the latest close call between the two nations’ militaries that have increasingly found themselves in tense encounters around the globe. While a crisis was averted, the next time may be different.

    Barry Pavel, senior vice president, Arnold Kanter chair and director of the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council, said with close calls like the one on June 7 “the risks of escalation are very significant.”


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  • Can the United States and China Cooperate in the Middle East?

    While the United States and China grapple over trade, intellectual property rights, technology transfer, and geopolitical tensions in East Asia, open competition has not yet extended to the Middle East, a region where Washington remains a major player and Beijing has rapidly expanded its influence.

    “The story has not been written yet on the Middle East,” William Wechsler, director of the Atlantic Council’s Middle East programs, said on June 6. “There are a number of places where the United States’ and China’s interests align. And there are a number of places where the United States’ and China’s interests do not.”


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  • Nader Uskowi quoted in Ahval: Turkey and Russia tussle in Syria’s Idlib


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  • Senior Pentagon Official Warns of Moscow’s Ambitions in the Middle East

    Russia’s support for Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria is just the beginning of Moscow’s designs on the wider Middle East, Kathryn Wheelbarger, acting US assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, warned on May 30.

    “Syria is a prime example of Moscow’s efforts to influence world events for its own advantage and prestige in a manner that contributes nothing but additional instability to the region and beyond,” Wheelbarger said in remarks at the Atlantic Council in Washington. In addition to rebuffing US efforts to support the political opposition to Assad, Russia’s actions in Syria provided Moscow an “opportunity to reestablish its great power status in the region, assert its pragmatic brand of security cooperation and assistance, demonstrate and improve its military capabilities, and expand its access to hold NATO’s southern flank at risk,” she explained.


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