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Blogs

Ernesto Gallo and Giovanni Biava Column

27 september
2016
Ernesto Gallo, Giovanni Biava

The Labyrinths of the Middle East

On 12 September 2016 Syria declared a week-long ceasefire. Will it be the beginning of the end of more than five years of civil war? Or will this remain just a wishful thinking? Middle Eastern affairs are as usual tangled beyond imagination, like a true labyrinth. Let us consider three possible scenarios, from the most optimistic to a highly pessimistic one.

02 september
2016
Ernesto Gallo, Giovanni Biava

Europe: Game Over!

After Brexit the EU is once again in the eye of the storm. That said, we should not forget that the European Union is just an organisation and as such it has and probably will always have strengths and weaknesses. What is far more worrying is the general loss of momentum of the idea and process of European integration, which once was seen as a noble project but in the last ten-fifteen years seems to have lost any appeal to European hearts and minds. A lot of explanations have been proposed but we claim that two are crucial: the relentless rise of neoliberalism and the errors of Europe’s political classes.

Rating: 42

01 july
2016
Ernesto Gallo, Giovanni Biava

Brexit: An Opportunity!

Few were really expecting it. On the long-awaited ‘Referendum Day’ (Thursday 23 June) financial markets were upbeat and soon after polling stations closed, Mr Farage, Britain’s ‘Leave Campaign’ leader, seemed to concede, ‘It looks like Remain will edge it’. But then Brexit has been. Financial markets have collapsed, while Europe and especially Britain have plunged into uncertainty and even anarchy. However, such a big crisis can also be seen as an opportunity. In what ways?

19 april
2016
Ernesto Gallo, Giovanni Biava

One Silk Road, Two Great Powers

The ‘New Economic Silk Road’ was launched by China’s President, Xi Jinping, in September 2013 in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana. A few months later Astana became one of the three capital cities of the Eurasian Economic Union, which started with Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia, and later enlarged to Kyrgyzstan and Armenia. Is a new ‘Great Game’ under way? Who will control Eurasia? More specifically, how are relations between China and Russia evolving? Can the two ‘Great Powers’ co-exist in the region?

30 march
2016
Ernesto Gallo, Giovanni Biava

Men of Donald

It is difficult to remember a more heated race to the White House on both sides, Republican and Democratic. While Hillary Clinton has been embarrassingly defeated by Bernie Sanders in 13 states, Donald Trump has so far gained 739 delegates, a significant lead over Ted Cruz (465) and John Kasich (143). Important candidates such as Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, who were favoured by the establishment, have left the race. Will The Donald make it to the Republican nomination? Who is going to support him? Who are his men (and women)? Who is going to work with him on foreign policy?

26 january
2016
Ernesto Gallo, Giovanni Biava

Where are you going, NATO?

During the Cold War, NATO’s role was rather clear. Despite tensions, NATO had a well-defined agenda, that of containing and at times opposing the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact (formed in 1955). Since 1992, however, NATO’s purposes have become increasingly unclear. Its forces have been involved in highly questionable wars and its enlargement has been constant, pushing its boundaries east. But what is NATO’s purpose as of 2016? Does this alliance still make sense? Let us attempt to figure out some of its current objectives, which are usually not illustrated in official documents.

24 november
2015
Ernesto Gallo, Giovanni Biava

G20 or G2?

Antalya’s G 20 (15-16 November) was supposed to show to the world the wonders of Erdoğan’s Turkey, but reality has been different. The events in Paris have pushed terrorism high on the agenda, and the instability of the world economy was of course the other key issue. In fact little in Antalya has been achieved. An agreement between the West and Russia in fighting terrorism has not yet been finalised; and on economic issues, the USA and China dominate and leave everyone else far behind.

13 november
2015
Ernesto Gallo, Giovanni Biava

Saudi Arabia: Felix or Deserta?

Riyadh is now facing a choice. Either will the House of Saud co-operate with Russia against ISIS, accept a negotiated solution to Syria’s war, and enact democratising reforms at home or they will risk losing credibility abroad and ending up proposing some short-term cosmetic change at home. The latter strategy is doomed; it would work only in the very short term.

01 october
2015
Ernesto Gallo, Giovanni Biava

TTIP…free trade or US domination?

In the general silence of the media, the EU and the USA are negotiating a key free trade agreement, the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). What is it exactly? That’s the main problem. We do not know much about it and, especially as EU citizens; we would like to know more. The EU often boasts about transparency, but here there seems to be little of it.

14 september
2015
Ernesto Gallo, Giovanni Biava

Dynasty

Not only will US voters in 2016 risk having to choose between two political dynasties – a Clinton VS a Bush. They will also likely see again many well-known decision-makers who have already worked with the Clintons and Bush over the last decades. Millions of US citizens, however, are highly disaffected with this state of affairs and might go for a jolly. In this sense, eccentric Donald Trump is the man. But who are the main candidates and what do they propose? In particular, what are their ideas (and related teams) on foreign affairs?

15 june
2015
Ernesto Gallo, Giovanni Biava

Erdoğan’s Hubris?

In Turkey’s recent general election (7 June) its President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, hoped his AKP party to win 400 parliamentary seats; 330 were necessary to start a procedure of constitutional revision and modify the Constitution in a presidential sense. Yet Turkish voters thought otherwise and Erdoğan’s AKP garnered just 258 seats. Quite surprisingly, the leftist and pro-Kurdish HDP (People’s Democratic Party) obtained 80 seats and other two parties – the Republicans (CHP) and the Nationalists (MHP) – won together 212 seats. Now the AKP has to try to form a coalition government, which will not be easy, if we consider its often confrontational attitude throughout the election campaign.

13 april
2015
Ernesto Gallo, Giovanni Biava

Who is the Friend: Saudi Arabia or Iran?

In the latest days, the Middle East has once again been centre stage. While ISIL wrecks havoc in Iraq and Syria, Saudi Arabia and other nine states have intervened in ravaged Yemen. Meanwhile, negotiations have carried on in Lausanne, and the ‘nuclear deal’ was apparently struck with Iran. But how long will it last? How will Iran’s arch-enemy, Saudi Arabia (and Israel), react? Who is then the Friend, Iran or Saudi Arabia?

24 february
2015
Ernesto Gallo, Giovanni Biava

The Greek precedent

If we leave aside Mister Draghi, ‘the politician’, we realise that the European Union is currently in shatters. Greece’s endless vicissitudes testify to the EU’s limits, and the substantial failure of its integration project. Moreover, new players have emerged and are already changing Europe’s political and social perspectives; in particular in the problematic Mediterranean region.