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International Relations

Despite the fact that other countries of the Western Balkans are already part of NATO and the EU, Serbia is pursuing close ties both with Eastern and Western powers. Ana Brnabic, Serbia’s Prime Minister, has stated that “Serbia should not be asked to choose between the West and Russia.” According to her, Serbia is pursuing a “balanced foreign policy.” Such a policy is not necessarily new, as during the Cold War, the former Yugoslavia cooperated with both the East and the West. But in today’s contentious geostrategic climate, such a “neutral” policy means precariously walking on a tightrope bedeviled by pitfalls and competing interests. The EU’s Increasingly Ambiguous Appeal For centuries, Serbia has been Russia’s main ally in the Balkans. …

Saudi Arabia has been omnipresent in the headlines recently. By detaining several significant business figures and senior ministers, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has demonstrated the scope of his newly-inherited authority and violently asserted his power. What followed since, if not utterly unexpected, has been greatly intriguing and perplexing. Developments, however, are not limited to internal Saudi affairs, but also have regional implications. There are signals of a growing Saudi-Israeli cooperation and aligning of interests in their wish to counteract Iran. Two weeks ago, Ayoub Kara, Israeli Communications Minister invited Saudi’s Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh to visit Israel, and a few days later, Saudi online journal Elaph, recorded Israel’s chief-of-staff Gadi Eizenkot saying that Israel is ready to share intelligence …

Over the last months, the escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea over the latter’s nuclear programme have dominated news headlines. US President Donald Trump has called North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un “rocket man” in front of the United Nations, labelled him crazy and insane, and stated he was willing to halt Kim’s pursuit of nuclear weapons by all means, while North Korea labelled Trump a “dotard.” Not everyone might like Trump’s colourful rhetoric, but his remarks strike a chord with many. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), or North Korea, threatens to turn Seoul into “a sea of fire” and to destroy the United States. Repeated rockets launched towards Japan seem like a preamble to a …

Summits are not just — or even mostly — about what happens in the formal leaders’ meetings. What happens on the sidelines often has the largest effect on steering the course of international politics. This is the first year that the G20 summit could end up as a failure, advancing little in the way of substantive progress on the global governance agenda, chiefly owing to the group now having to contend with Donald Trump taking America’s seat at the summit table. Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda — typified by its economic protectionism and rejection of the established multilateral order — is entirely antithetical to the G20’s previous commitments to reject protectionism and safeguard the liberal, rules-based, multilateral governance order. This year’s G20 …

Peacekeeping is at the centre of the UN’s efforts to maintain international peace and security. Today, more than 100,000 soldiers and police from 125 countries are serving as blue-helmeted UN peacekeepers around the world. These soldiers and police are endeavouring to keep the peace within, or between, more than 20 conflict-affected states and territories. How effective are UN peacekeeping efforts? There have been spectacular failures (Rwanda) and notable successes (El Salvador) but how great is the contribution of UN peacekeeping overall? Scholars are divided on this question. Virginia Page Fortna’s seminal work on the impact of UN peacekeeping operations (UNPKOs) suggests that the presence of UNPKOs significantly improves the chances of peace surviving following the cessation of hostilities. In the …

Many interpretations of international conflict share common assumptions regarding the default oppositional nature of states or cultures.  According to Realism, the predominant theory of International Relations, conflict arises inevitably, and is a natural outcome of a highly competitive international environment.  It is also a reflection, and extension, of the competitive, selfish and power driven nature of man. In a larger sense, “man” can refer both to individuals and to larger communities (or tribes, in ancient times) that one belongs to and toward which one feels protective – by virtue of sharing an in-group identity. For some thinkers, including some Realists, the origin of this perpetual conflictual mode can be traced to irreconcilable cultural differences. Samuel Huntington’s well-known “clash of civilizations” …

“When you kill innocent children – innocent babies – babies – little babies with a chemical gas that is so lethal, people were shocked to hear what gas it was, that crosses many, many lines. Beyond a red line, many, many lines,” Trump said when asked about Tuesday’s chemical weapons attack in Syria that killed some 80 civilians and injured many more. Thursday night he swiftly followed through with his remarks, launching missile strikes on Shayrat airfield in Syria, where the attack is suspected to have originated. Commentators have been quick to point out Trump’s remarkable U-turn on Syria. From his ‘America First’ rhetoric, to his cosying up to Putin and repeated statements that he thinks ‘many very bad things …

By all accounts the relationship between President Donald Trump and the Kremlin holds the makings of a dark, Hollywood thriller. Trump is a US President at war with his own intelligence agencies, whilst denying – only to later admit – Russian interference in the election. Freshly inaugurated, he already faces comparisons to a modern-day Manchurian Candidate, referring to the 1959 novel about a brainwashed president controlled by sinister, external forces. But how fair is this? And do we really know what the Russians are up to? As a political scientist, my research examines the tools of contemporary warfare and influence used by the Kremlin. Thus far I have identified over 40 tools of Russian state power, military and non-military. The …