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IMAGO / ITAR-TASS

BRICS invites Argentina in troubled times

BRICS Group welcomes admission of South American country

During the XV BRICS Summit held in South Africa, the group took a significant step by deciding to extend the alliance to include Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on January 1, 2024. The Argentinian government formally applied for a membership in 2022, but the decision came as an unexpected development, especially considering the recent absence of consensus within the group regarding potential expansion. Consequently, Argentina refrained from sending any delegates to the Johannesburg summit. This strategic maneuver adds an unexpected dimension, as the discourse around BRICS membership coincides with the presidential election campaign, thereby underscoring the country's pronounced political polarization, even concerning foreign policy matters.

IMAGO / APAimages

The Jordanian Paradox

Participation and control

Jordan wants to enable more political participation and strengthen parliamentarism. The legal course has been set. At the same time, the scope for critical expression of opinion is narrowing, most recently as a result of a new law to combat cybercrime. But the country's modernization can only succeed if the state has confidence in its citizens.

Adobe Stock / UPI Photo

The Gulf goes BRICS

Gulf states form the core of the latest BRICS expansion

In a surprising expansion, three states from the Gulf region are now part of the BRICS group of states. The inclusion of Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE is not a watershed event, but follows an already familiar pattern: middle powers in the Gulf and elsewhere strengthen their international position in the context of global great power rivalries. While Riyadh and Abu Dhabi seek to diversify their foreign policy relations, the regime in Tehran is once again trying to break through its international isolation. All three Gulf states are hoping for economic stimulus as well as a gain in power. The traditional BRICS agenda of establishing an alternative global financial and monetary system could also gain new momentum with three important energy exporters as new members.

IMAGO / IPON

Israel's regional foreign and security policy

Between Domestic Volatility, Regional Frictions and External Threats

Just days after Israel's President Isaac Herzog reassured the Biden administration about the state of democracy in Israel and praised the importance of bilateral relations with the US in his speech before the US Congress, the Knesset passed a portion of the controversial judicial reform shortly before its parliamentary summer break in late July. The debates surrounding the reform, which its opponents view as a threat to the democratic nature of the state, along with protests from various groups, have significantly heightened societal polarization in Israel over the past few months.

Additionally, security experts have increasingly warned of risks to Israel's internal and external security. These concerns were seemingly confirmed when, in the course of the last few weeks, more and more reservists declared their refusal to serve - in protest against the government's plans. Fears of a progressive erosion of social cohesion and consequently diminishing national resilience, which is considered by Israelis as an essential component of both internal and external security, are finding their foreign and security policy equivalent in the tense security situation on Israel's northern border, an escalating spiral of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, a more aggressive settlement policy under the current government, as well as closed doors for Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington and in the Arab Gulf.

Israel's Prime Minister, who in the past was attested by supporters and opponents alike to have an excellent sense of foreign and security policy – often referred to as "Mr. Security" – has propelled himself into a predicament in this area as well; his hardline political coalition partners have played a not inconsiderable role in this. An overview of the current regional foreign and security policy developments highlights the various areas of tension.

IMAGO / Xinhua

BRICS is growing

Ethiopia’s new relevance in geopolitics and trade

The BRICS community of states will be history from 1 January 2024 and will receive a new acronym through the admission of six new member states. Ethiopia will also join the BRICS next year and has high hopes for its membership. But what does this mean for the fundamental positioning of Africa's most populous country after Nigeria in world politics?

Pixabay / dMz

The world's most populous country

Blessing or curse?

According to the latest UN report entitled "8 Billion People, Infinite opportunities", which was published in April 2023, India is now the most most populous country in the world. It has surpassed its geopolitical rival China, whose population in 2022 declined for the first time in six decades, with a birth rate of only 1.24 children per woman. The average Indian is now is now about 10 years younger than his Chinese counterpart. But what are the consequences and implications of India's population increase? Are these effects bound to national borders or do they have international implications? Can we speak of a demographic dividend or rather of a demographic crisis? And what impact does the demographic trend have on the country's rapid economic growth?

IMAGO / Lehtikuva

Government work involving right-wing nationalist parties

Current experiences from Sweden and Finland

Since the fall of 2022, Sweden has had a conservative minority government made up of the Moderates, Christian Democrats and Liberals, supported by the right-wing nationalist "Sweden Democrats" (SD) via a cooperation agreement, the so-called "Tidöavtalet." While cooperation on issues such as fighting crime, expanding nuclear power, as well as in economic and budgetary matters seems to be working, the SD's rhetoric on the EU, migration and Islam has become increasingly strident in recent weeks. Although the Sweden Democrats have officially endorsed Sweden’s membership in NATO in the wake of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, the party’s action about Koran burnings has complicated the ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership by Turkey and contributed to the destabilization of Sweden’s domestic security situation.

Since June 2023, Finland has also had a conservative government, which – unlike in Sweden - brought the right-wing nationalist Perussuomalaiset (PS) into government as a coalition partner with a portfolio covering 8 ministries. Within just a few days of the formation of the government, however, cracks began to show - the PS's economy minister was forced to resign over ties to neo-Nazi circles, and two other PS ministers had to publicly apologize for making racist comments. The finance minister and PS party leader is also under pressure after a violent, xenophobic blog post she had written surfaced. Leader of the conservative National Coalition Party and Prime Minister Orpo has now invited the leaders of the governing parties to an internal debate about racism and discrimination immediately following the summer break. As a result, there is a high degree of confidence that the work of the government can progress. This process was important for the continued viability of the coalition, as the increasing number of scandals surrounding right-wing PS politicians, or their statements put the three other coalition members under immense political pressure.

IMAGO / Panthermedia

Elections in Ecuador

Runoff between Entrepreneur and Correísta

In Ecuador, which is characterized by increasing drug-related crime and eroding institutionality, the extraordinary presidential elections took place on August 20, 2023. After an election campaign overshadowed by violence, culminating in the assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio on August 9, 2023, the elections were held in a climate of great fear and uncertainty. With 23.73% of the vote, the 35-year-old center-right candidate Daniel Noboa surprisingly succeeded in advancing to the runoff election on October 15, 2023, against Luisa González from the Correístas camp, who, as expected, was the formal winner of the first round with 33.26% of the vote.

imago / ZUMA Wire

"Change and the future" - Hope has triumphed

Presidential elections in Guatemala: result clear-impact open

After the surprising outcome of the 1st round of presidential elections on June 20, 2023, Guatemalan democracy came under intense pressure in the weeks that followed. The fact that the runoff election with the two top finishers in the 1st round could now actually take place shows that basic democratic structures are still in place and capable of acting. The election results are clear: based on 99.59% of the votes counted, Bernardo Arévalo won 58.14% for the SEMILLLA party against 37.10% for Sandra Torres of the UNE party. This result is a sensation and would have been considered impossible weeks ago. However, the stress test for Guatemala's political system may not yet be over.

Adobe Stock / vladimirfloyd

A lot of news in the East: NATO combat brigades for the Baltic States

6 countries - 2 ways - 1 common purpose: Scaling the trip wire to heavy ordnance

Russia's expanded and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine since February 2022 continues to determine NATO's course. While the response to the vaguely formulated Ukrainian membership perspective in NATO varied widely after the recent summit in Vilnius, the allies' positioning against Russia's aggression is supported by a broad consensus. Both, the measures agreed upon by the allies in the summits' communiqué and further bilateral agreements reached in recent months, leave no doubt: NATO partners stand together.