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IMAGO / Xinhua

East Africa: When it rains, it pours

What influence do current floods have on the socio-political development of the region?

In East Africa, record droughts are being followed by floods that have displaced 1.5 million people so far. This is exacerbating the multiple crises in the region. Food security is deteriorating further and exacerbating the already high rate of urban growth. At the same time, the region's govern-ments are grappling with massive over-indebtedness, further complicating the necessary invest-ments in climate-resilient measures.

IMAGO / UPI Photo

No surprises?

US election campaign heading for another Biden-Trump duel

The first primaries have taken place, in which Democrats and Republicans determine their presidential candidates. So far there has been little surprise: Democrat Joe Biden and Republican Donald Trump are heading for the presidential nomination of their respective parties.

Auslandsbüro Mongolei

Steinmeier in Mongolia: More than an anniversary

50 years of German-Mongolian diplomatic relations

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will visit Mongolia on 7 February 2024. The occasion is the 50th anniversary of German-Mongolian diplomatic relations. For Mongolia, the visit is part of a foreign policy strategy aimed not least at securing its own sovereignty and independence. The country also hopes that the visit will intensify and enhance bilateral cooperation. It remains to be seen whether the German President can fulfil the high expectations of the Mongolians.

IMAGO / ITAR-TASS

Super election year starts super boring

At the beginning of February, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev will be re-elected for a further seven years in office

One of the first votes in the “super election year” of 2024 will take place in the South Caucasus: Early presidential elections are scheduled for 7 February in Azerbaijan. In early December, President Ilham Aliyev, who has been in office since 2003, surprisingly signed a decree bringing forward the vote by 14 months. There was initially no official justification for this decision, which led to intense speculation. The leading opposition parties announced that they would again boycott the ballot. Nevertheless, there are a total of seven candidates, all of whom (have to) praise the incumbent.

Daniel Braun

The citizens of Kosovo now also have the freedom to travel to the European Union

Kosovo is the last country in the Western Balkans to receive visa liberalization with the EU

At the beginning of the year, visa liberalization with the European Union came into force in Kosovo, the last country in the Western Balkans to do so. The freedom to travel, which was achieved after a long wait compared to neighboring countries, is causing much euphoria, especially among the younger generation. However, there is also concern that the freedom to travel could trigger a large wave of emigration of workers and an additional brain drain to the EU states, which would exacerbate the already existing labor shortage in certain economic sectors.

IMAGO / Pond5 Images

Mexico 2024

Outlook for the super election year

The global super election year 2024 will also see the largest elections in the history of the world's most populous Spanish-speaking country: In Mexico, 97.6 million eligible voters will decide on more than 20,000 mandates at all levels of government. This includes a new legislature and the office of head of state, which will be held by a woman for the first time. But the political cards are also being reshuffled in many of the 32 federal states, with governorships (cf. prime minister), state parliaments and municipal office holders across the country up for election. The heightened election temperature has been clearly noticeable since the end of last year.

Adobe Stock / One Dragon

Myanmar three years after the coup: where is the country heading?

A landmark year for Myanmar - new dynamics, alliances and scenarios for a "post-war state"

February 1 marks the third anniversary of the military coup (Tatmadaw) against the democratically elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi. Peaceful protests in the country continue to be bloodily suppressed and the humanitarian situation is catastrophic. Refugee movements, particularly to Thailand and India, and fighting on the Chinese border are turning the conflict in Myanmar into a supra-regional risk that the ASEAN community has so far done little to counter. Armed resistance has formed in large parts with the People's Defense Force. Since October last year, this has been supported by a number of powerful, highly armed ethnic organizations in the west, north and northeast of the country. The military appears vulnerable for the first time. Debates about a "post-junta" state are gaining momentum, although the ideas of the actors involved in the struggle (democratization vs. expansion of territorial claims) could not be more different. Myanmar is facing a landmark year full of dynamics.

IMAGO / Lehtikuva

Finland Relies on Popular Politicians in Times of Crisis

Alexander Stubb in first place after the first round of the presidential elections

Finland has enjoyed special attention in the security policy context at least since the country joined NATO in April 2023 and due to its comprehensive strategy of defensive democracy ("total defense"). Hybrid attacks from the Russian side have increased since Russia's attack on Ukraine. Finland recently had to close its border posts in the east due to migration controlled by Russia. The Finnish president, who is directly elected every six years, is the commander-in-chief of the army and is responsible for enacting laws, appointing ministers and foreign and security policy. Sauli Niinistö, who is still in office, negotiated the path from his country's application to NATO membership prudently and purposefully with an overwhelming vote of the Finnish population and thus also received a great deal of international recognition. Alexander Stubb, like Niinistö from the conservative Rally Party, is now likely to succeed him. He received 27.2% of the vote on election night, but was closely followed by Pekka Haavisto, former Green Foreign Minister in the Marin cabinet, with 25.8%.

IMAGO / Pond5 Images

New defence strategies for Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia

Baltic Bastions

"[...] they will be treated like pigs in their own country". This sentence comes at the end of a long series of blatant threats by Russian President Putin against the three Baltic States, in this case Latvia. The statement was made in response to the alleged mistreatment of Latvia's Russian-speaking population. Such statements cause great fear of attack in these states, which had to fight hard for their independence from Russia. Faced with the feared reduction of Western support for Ukraine and the resulting sharp increase in the potential threat from Russia, the three Baltic States published new defence strategies in 2023. But how do the Baltic States intend to secure their independence, and are these concepts a blueprint for other states?

IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

China's powerlessness in the Red Sea

Houthi attacks pose a strategic dilemma for Beijing

Washington has asked Beijing for support to curb attacks by Yemen's Houthi rebels on merchant ships in the Red Sea, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing US government circles. China's own interest in de-escalation and securing trade and supply chains appears to be obvious. However, why China is holding back in the conflict, even though it is economically heavily dependent on exports, raises questions.

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