March - 6 - 2018
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Our blog site for readers direct response, including at the beginning of each month, updated geopolitical analysis covering many relevant 20 nations, as well as our invited midmonth contributed essays on current affairs topics.

MARCH 2018






Almost a year has passed since the UK government in March 2017 triggered its intended withdrawal from the EU by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. This gave the UK two years to negotiate a deal on its future relationship with the EU. The conflicting signals emanating from government on Brexit highlight its weakness, disunity and incoherence. They give no confidence that the government can negotiate effectively with the EU. The Brexiteers in the Conservative parliamentary party are in a minority but, emboldened by the referendum result, their support and acquiescence are needed for Theresa May’s survival as leader. Inconsistent and self-contradictory policy pronouncements have exacerbated the uncertainty and anxiety felt in Britain and across Europe.

Since the article was written, Theresa May admitted in a speech on 2nd March that the government’s decision to leave the EU single market and customs union will mean less good access to Britain’s largest export market than it currently enjoys. On the same day, Donald Trump dashed any hopes that a free trade agreement with the US would compensate for that loss. The president announced his intention to impose swingeing import duties on steel and aluminium, including on imports from the US’s partners in free trade areas such as Canada. Peter Crisell writes an update on recent events in the sorry Brexit saga.


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China’s Belt Road Initiative: What is it and Who Wants it?

China’s Belt Road Initiative (BRI) is a project of monumental scale and significance. It involves 65 nations, more than half the population of the planet, almost 40% of global GDP, and it costs an estimated $1 trillion. It is the single largest infrastructure development since the Marshall plan of 1948. As Trump pulled out of the Trans Pacific Partnership and turns his back on Asia, the BRI assumes even greater significance. The ‘belt’ is the ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’, a series of overland corridors connecting China with Europe and passing through Central Asia and the Middle East. The ‘road’ is a sea route, connecting the southern coasts of China with East Africa and the Mediterranean. The initiative involves immense infrastructure construction: power plants, wind farms, factories, railways, pipelines, industrial parks.

In this issue, Sara Bielecki discusses the various reactions of the countries affected from the wary interest of Russia to the indifferent but slightly hostile response of the US and Europe, and from the enthusiasm of Pakistan to the deep suspicion of India. Whatever, the attitudes to the BRI may be, it marks a profound shift in global politics.


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The Syrian Civil War: No End in Sight

Seven years into the Syrian civil war, the Bashar al-Asad regime is still in power, a situation few would have dared to predict. He has survived ISIS, al-Qaida, the Turks, the Americans, Saudis and Qataris, thanks to his allies, the Russians, Iranians and Hezbollah. It has been a humiliating defeat for the uncertain and dithering West which has always wanted Bashar al-Asad to be defeated. It has also increased Israel’s feeling of insecurity. Paradoxically this has led it to form alliances with some jihadi groups.

In this issue, Alessandro Bruno unravels the complex game of power politics which the Syrian war has produced, a war that is played out with little regard to the appalling human suffering endured by citizens trapped within its confines.



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Clive Lindley – Publisher/Editor

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