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Foreign affairs

The MENA Region: A Great Power Competition

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The MENA Region: A Great Power Competition
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Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Monday, October 7, 2019
Abstract in English: 
The MENA Region: A Great Power Competition volume deals with competition among regional and external players for the redistribution of power and international status in the Middle East and North Africa, focusing on Russia’s renewed role and the implications for US interests. Over the last few years, a crisis of legitimacy has beset the liberal international order. In the context of global reassessment, the configuration of regional orders has come into question, illustrated by the current collapse in the Middle East. The idea of a ‘Russian resurgence’ in the Middle East set against a perceived American withdrawal has captured the attention of policymakers and scholars alike, warranting further examination. This volume gathers analysis on the policy choices pursued by Washington and Moscow in the MENA region and develops case studies of the two powers’ policies in the countries beset by major crises. The volume was compiled and edited by Arturo Varvelli, Karim Mezran, and Emily Burchfield and features analysis from Andrey Chuprygin, Abbas Kadhim, Mark N. Katz, Andrey Kortunov, Scott Lasensky, Chiara Lovotti, Vera Michlin-Shapir, Nicola Pedde, Omer Taspinar, Gonul Tol, and William Wechsler.
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Operationalizing Nuclear Disarmament Verification

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Publication date: 
Monday, April 29, 2019
Abstract in English: 
This SIPRI Insights seeks to contribute to the operationalization of nuclear disarmament verification. It explores existing solutions to define a baseline for new arms control and disarmament verification regimes, and considers the requirements for verification under the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Existing solutions might be sufficient to enable several near-term disarmament steps and to lay the foundations for a comprehensive nuclear disarmament verification regime supporting the TPNW. However, more technical work is needed to achieve all the preconditions for a nuclear weapon-free world, particularly on verifying the dismantlement of nuclear weapons. At the same time, a more favourable political context could reduce the extent to which technical challenges are perceived as obstacles to nuclear disarmament. Even in the absence of new disarmament treaties, the operationalization of disarmament verification can begin at a conceptual and discursive level, by adopting a more policy-oriented approach to disarmament verification.
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Trends in world military expenditure

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Publication date: 
Monday, April 29, 2019
Abstract in English: 
Total global military spending rose for the second consecutive year in 2018, to the highest level since 1988—the first year for which consistent global data is available. World spending is now 76 per cent higher than the post-cold war low in 1998.* World military spending in 2018 represented 2.1 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP) or $239 per person. ‘In 2018 the USA and China accounted for half of the world’s military spending,’ says Dr Nan Tian, a researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure (AMEX) programme. ‘The higher level of world military expenditure in 2018 is mainly the result of significant increases in spending by these two countries.’
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12
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ESPAS Report 2019 : Global Trends to 2030

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Friday, April 5, 2019
Abstract in English: 
For something as unknown as the future, it appears to have become surprisingly predictable. A Google search of ‘future 2030’ yields more than 97 million results, all more or less claiming similar things: that 2030 will see a more connected, yet fragmented world, with hazardous shifts in demography and energy, and dangerous changes in technology, environment, and politics.
The future, while overall negative, appears to be a rather certain place.
This illusion of definitiveness is created by two dynamics: first, the pessimistic tone that runs through the vast majority of foresight reports. This is a common feature when it comes to future thinking, with one study showing that all studies undertaken on the future over the last 70 years have one thing in common; pessimism. The reason for this is simple: although both optimism and pessimism are natural human dispositions, the latter is more prevalent by far. Humans are, genetically speaking, biased towards the negative – some studies even indicate that this is particularly the case for Europeans. Second, pessimism in foresight is encouraged by the grave air that surrounds it: in general, negative statements are given more attention than positive ones. That said, more pessimism in foresight does not equal greater accuracy, as one study shows.
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52
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Unexpected Developments in International Politics. Foresight Contributions 2018

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Publication date: 
Wednesday, September 5, 2018
Abstract in English: 
How might we have to imagine the Middle East if there were a political thaw between Iran and Saudi Arabia? Could Turkey leave NATO in the near future? What would happen if security-related EU databases were successfully hacked; if South Korea were to arm itself with nuclear weapons; or if an American woman were to head the United Nations? Of course, these situations, as explored in the SWP’s latest Foresight research paper, are only hypothetical. Why address them? Because unexpected events have abounded in international politics in recent years. Brexit; the election of Donald Trump as US President; and Russia’s annexation of Crimea are only the most striking examples. Science and politics should therefore ready themselves for likely future surprises. The Foresight research paper aims to assist with this. We cannot and do not want to predict the future. However, with the help of systematic foresight we can better prepare for unplanned situations. This means improving our view of conceivable – albeit unlikely – developments that would seriously impact on German and European foreign and security policy. It also includes reviewing previous expectations – as this research paper likewise tackles. What actually happened to the battery revolution that was supposed to secure our power supply? Did the negotiation process on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU unfold as experts had anticipated? Such reviews are instructive, and can be used to gain insights for the future.
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50
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Munich Security Report 2019: "The Great Puzzle: Who Will Pick Up the Pieces?"

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Publication date: 
Friday, February 15, 2019
Abstract in English: 
This year's report analyses the reshuffling of core pieces of the international order. Besides looking at major powers like the United States, China and Russia, the report also highlights actors of the "second row": liberal democracies such as France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada and Japan. In addition, the report assesses current security policy developments in selected regions such as in the Western Balkans, in the Sahel region and in the Middle East. It examines the global challenge to arms control against the background of the recently suspended INF Treaty and emerging technologies such as hypersonic weapons. Other global issues covered are the security policy implications of current developments in the areas of international trade, transnational organized crime and artificial intelligence.
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102
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What if....? Scanning the horizon: 12 scenarios for 2021

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Friday, January 25, 2019
Abstract in English: 
Foresight is about choice, decision and action – and not, as is repeated time and again, predicting the future and getting it wrong.
This Chaillot Paper aims to alert decision-makers to potential developments with significant strategic impact while they can still prepare for, or even avoid them. This is done using two methods combined: horizon-scanning as well as single scenario-building. Taken together, they produce plausible events set in 2021 – with strategic ramifications well beyond that. All 12 scenarios in this Chaillot Paper reflect the expertise and imagination of the researchers who wrote them: some explore potential conflicts, while others look at disruptive political developments, or indeed at crises with significant ramifications.
That said, all are designed in the hope of drawing attention to foreign and security policy aspects which are potentially overlooked, and all are extrapolated from ongoing and recent developments.
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74
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North Korea IN FOCUS: Towards a More Effective EU Policy

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Friday, September 7, 2018
Abstract in English: 
The EU has an important role to play in the management of the threat posed by North Korea. Indeed, Brussels already has a policy of ‘critical engagement’ towards Pyongyang which combines diplomatic and economic carrots with a number of sticks. This policy, however, is in need of an update to attend to two recent developments on the Korean Peninsula: North Korea’s status as a de facto nuclear power and the flurry of engagement and diplomacy involving North Korea—including top-level meetings with the US, South Korea and China.
In this context, the EU should support its partners, South Korea and the US, as they launch a process that could lead to sustainable engagement with North Korea, denuclearisation, and, as a result, a more stable Korean Peninsula. Working with its partners, Europe should creatively use its power of engagement and cooperation to change behaviour. This will enhance the position of the EU as a constructive actor in Asian affairs, support efforts by the US and South Korea to engage North Korea and, ultimately, offer a better opportunity for the EU to achieve its goals.
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20
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Putin’s fourth term - The twilight begins?

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Monday, November 19, 2018
Abstract in English: 
The Russian electoral cycle began with parliamentary and partial local elections in September 2016, continued with presidential elections in March 2018, and ended with a series of regional elections in September 2018. The incumbent United Russia (UR) party boosted the number of seats it controls in the lower house of parliament, the Duma, by 105 compared to 2011, and despite a few local defeats in 2018, remained the dominant political force across the country.
Moreover, President Putin not only avoided any weakening of his own position but, on the contrary, arguably grew stronger as he was re-elected by almost 10 million more votes than in 2012.2 There are no serious potential challengers on the horizon and he remains the sole person who takes important domestic and foreign policy decisions. Nevertheless, several factors are gradually undercutting his standing, a process which, in turn, is likely to have future knock-on effects for Russia’s entire political edifice. What vulnerabilities does President Putin face in his fourth term in office? What are the drivers behind them? And how might these play out in the future?
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8
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Strategic autonomy: towards ‘European sovereignty’ in defence?

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Friday, November 30, 2018
Abstract in English: 
Strategic autonomy. Two familiar words that are yet again in vogue in Europe but which cause confusion and, in some quarters, even alarm. The last time strategic autonomy stirred controversy was in 2003 during the run-up to the Iraq War, but perhaps the most well-known instance followed the Balkan crisis of the 1990s.
The objective of this Brief is to better comprehend how the EU conceives of strategic autonomy, rather than dwell on a broader focus on ‘Europe’ or ‘NATO Europe’. To this end, the Brief compares the range of defence initiatives that have been developed by the EU since 2016 against three different conceptual visions of strategic autonomy: autonomy as responsibility, autonomy as hedging and autonomy as emancipation. Each of these forms of autonomy have implications for transatlantic burden sharing and the EU’s level of ambition on security and defence.
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