18 March 2016   Leave a comment

A little over a year ago, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia began bombing Houthi rebels in Yemen.   The bombing highlighted a more aggressive foreign policy by the new King Salman of Saudi Arabia toward what he considered a group allied with Iran.  The bombing has been intense, and, in the eyes of many, indiscriminate.  A UN representative raised today the prospect that Saudi Arabia was guilty of war crimes in Yemen.

It has been two years since Russia annexed Crimea, an act that most states in the West have refused to recognize as legitimate.  But there is no evidence whatsoever that Russia has altered its position.  Indeed, it has hardened it as far as European affairs are concerned.  Natalie Nougayrède has written an essay for The Guardian which relies heavily on an essay recently written by the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov.  Her impression is that the argument of Lavrov’s essay is this:  “What Russia wants is nothing short of fundamental change: a formal, treaty-based say on Europe’s political and security architecture. Until Russia gets that, goes the message, there will be no stability on the continent. The key sentence in the article is this: ‘During the last two centuries, any attempt to unite Europe without Russia and against it has inevitably led to grim tragedies.'”  When analyzing Russia’s objectives, it is also necessary to interpret Russia’s recent decision to pull out of Syria.  Aron Lund of the Carnegie Endowment has written an intriguing essay speculating on the possible ways to interpret the Russian Syrian decision.

By any metric, Nigeria should be the wealthiest country in Africa.  It is blessed in a number of ways, not the least of which is a robust, dynamic culture.  But often some blessings are actually curses, and that certainly seems to be the case with Nigeria’s oil wealth.  Its oil revenues have not been used well, and much of those revenues are unaccounted for.  The wealth of the country is also an opportunity for corruption on a vast scale, even with an oil company ostensibly controlled by the state.

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Posted March 18, 2016 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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