The Syrian civil war and now Ukraine. These are only two examples of crises over which the United States and Russia have bumped heads recently. Some might be tempted to call this a “new Cold War,” but it’s really not. Yes, the geopolitical competition and power struggle might be obvious and similar. And even the race for maximizing the spheres of influence. But the ideological context is different and therefore there is no clash of politico-economic systems, not to mention that calling the current international system “bipolar” is simplistic, to say the least. What we have now is a primarily intra-systemic, capitalist, geo-economic competition fueled and exacerbated by identity politics, history and national security considerations.
This reality calls for a reevaluation of the nature of the contemporary international system and the role of nation-states within it. Starting with the former, there is an on-going debate about whether we live in a unipolar, a multipolar, a non-polar, or a uni-multipolar international system. Each of these characterizations expresses how much power and influence the US has in relation to other great powers. In the 1990s, right after the end of the Cold War, the international system was indisputably unipolar, with the US being not only the dominant but also the only superpower with unmatched material and ideological capabilities. Things today might appear to be the same, but they are not. The change lays not so much in the capabilities of the US but in their relation to the capabilities of the rest of the world. Continue reading
It was June, 2013. I arrived in Ankara, Turkey, right on time to witness the development of the protests that began at Istanbul’s Gezi Park and spread throughout the country’s urban centers, as well as to experience and participate in the social and political discussion that was taking place at that time. The purpose of my visit included the participation in a conference on Turkish foreign policy and some field research. That gave me the opportunity to speak and exchange views with students of International Relations, academics, experts, and diplomats.
A widespread understanding was that Turkish society had been left without a political alternative. In other words, the political opposition – most notably the Republican People’s Party, CHP – was not an adequate opponent to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). And there was no other option. Most of the people I discussed with were open in expressing their discomfort with the AKP’s policies. Others, mostly people affiliated in one way or another to the government, appeared more reluctant to directly criticize the AKP. Yet the consensus was clear: The AKP has made significant improvements with regard to the country’s democratization, economy, and foreign policy. But this did not change the fact that it became gradually authoritarian by having a majoritarian approach to democracy. As often argued, this was also reflected in foreign policy. Continue reading
Egypt has lifted its three-month state of emergency on Tuesday. The measure would mean an end to night-time curfews that choked economic life in the country. The court decision comes amid continued protests across the country. Meanwhile, the government edges a step closer to passing a law on demonstrations that the opposition says could be a new way to curb protests. Zenonas Tziarras, Teaching Assistant at the University of Warwick and Junior Research Scholar at the think-tank “Strategy International”, Greece, shared his insight in the situation in Egypt in an interview with the VoR. Continue reading
The unfolding events in Egypt, which initially started with the break out of the revolt in 2011, are very important in terms of their social and political impact. Particularly important are not the events themselves, but rather the dynamics and prospects which have been developed through them, both at the domestic and the regional level.
To begin with, it is today clear that the social turmoil of 2011 was not a revolution which brought about systemic changes to Egypt’s political scene, but rather a revolt with limited political and ideological cohesion and goals.[i] Yet, the second, and more massive, revolt of the summer of 2013, which also led to the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, is indicator of an important fact: The Egyptian society is currently at a point of rupture of the historical cycle during which it had become de-politicized through imposed top-down policies. It is undergoing a process of re-politicization and it is gradually realizing its rights and power; and thus the refusal of the masses to accept the governance of a Muslim Brotherhood that did not meet their demands. Continue reading
Ο διεθνολόγος κ. Ζήνωνας Τζιάρρας, διδακτορικός ερευνητής στο University of Warwick και ερευνητής σε ζητήματα Τουρκικής Εξωτερικής Πολιτικής στο Ινστιτούτο Μελετών Strategy International μιλά αποκλειστικά στην κάμερα του newsit.com.cy, αναλύοντας το τι πραγματικά συμβαίνει στην Ανατολική Μεσόγειο και δίνει τις δικές του απαντήσεις για τις καταιγιστικές εξελίξεις στην περιοχή μας που μας αφορούν άμεσα.
Ο κ. Ζήνωνας Τζιάρρας απάντησε σε σειρά ερωτήσεων του Ανδρέα Θεμιστοκλέους σχετικά με τους λόγους και τα αίτια των Αραβικών εξεγέρσεων, αξιολογώντας τις μέχρι στιγμής εξελίξεις και αποτελέσματα, τα οποία και επηρεάζουν άμεσα και την Κύπρο. Continue reading
Author’s Note: The following article, titled “The Thoughtlessness of the Intervention Advocates – Syria,” was published by Al Yunaniya on June 16th, 2012. It makes the case against an intervention in Syria. Sadly, more than one year later things have remained largely the same in terms of the Western stance and rhetoric vis-à-vis the Syrian crisis. Once again, at a crucial juncture it seems that the “International Community” (admittedly dominated by Western countries) is contemplating an intervention in Syria. Wrongfully, in this author’s opinion, the debate revolves around legalistic, tactic-related, and grand strategy arguments. Even more problematic is the effort to exploit a “moralistic” pretext, such as the use of chemical weapons, to the accomplishment of immoral ends – related to international, economic and geopolitical interests. In this respect the International Crisis Group report was absolutely right to point out that should an intervention is decided, it would be undertaken “for reasons largely divorced from the interests of the Syrian people.” And that is all that matters.
Let us and the international society not fool ourselves: The International Community, NATO, and even individual countries willing to get involved in an intervention in Syria – be it authorized by the UN or not – will comprise a coalition of national and international elites completely dissociated from the intentions and interests of the public opinion and, even worse, dissociated from the interests of the Syrian people. Any effort of political communication by (inter)national leaders in favor of an intervention in Syria advocating that the operations would be “surgical” and that there would be benefits rather than new problems for the Syrians is largely misleading. Continue reading
It has been reported that Israel conducted two airstrikes in Syria in the last few days. It is also said that these airstrikes targeted military facilities and equipment that was destined for Hezbollah. After a Syrian official called Israel’s attack “a declaration of war”, many speak of a turning point in the Syrian crisis and a war between Syria and Israel.
Things are both simple and complicated at the same time. This is indeed a turning point in the crisis not so much because of what Syrian officials have stated but because Israel’s actions demonstrated that the security risk stemming from Syria just reached the point where regional powers cannot remain unresponsive; it is within this framework that we should also evaluate Turkish Prime Minister’s remarks that Assad will pay for the deaths of thousands in Syria. This in turn means that as long as the Syrian regime escalates the violence and its cooperation with militant groups, such as Hezbollah, we will witness an increase in such actions/attacks. Continue reading