Northern Ireland's Brexit Problem (by Henry Farrell)

29 March 2018

Edge of Change (Issue 006)The problem of the Irish border after Brexit has been the British government’s Achilles heel ever since the withdrawal negotiation with the EU started. The free border between the independent Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland which remains part of UK, has been one of the major conditions that cemented the 1997 Good Friday agreement ending the protracted civil conflict between unionist and nationalists who believed it would gradually bring the majority of the population in the North closer to Ireland. However, European negotiators made it clear that the only means to preserve this border would be for UK to remain part of the Customs Union- much to the anger of a considerable part of the Conservative party (including one of potential party leaders, Mr. Rees-Mogg) who won’t accept “Brexit-lite” and may spur a government crisis. Things are made even worse by lingering political polarization in Northern Ireland, where moderate forces behind the 1997 agreement have declined and the region is mostly divided between radical nationalists from Sinn Fein (in favour of reunification with the Republic) and hardline Democratic Unionists, supporters of radical Brexit who helped Prime Minister May to hold parliamentary majority last year. So, as there is a year left to the declared date of Brexit, the Irish question will only grow more urgent and the room for maneuver may dramatically shrink for London.

 

Not All Russia-Friendly Policies Are Nefarious (by Franz-Stefan Gady)

30 March 2018

Franz-Stefan Gady criticizes Austria’s policy of keeping friendly relationships with Russia after the Skripal case. Austria refused to expel Russian representatives or take any other actions against Moscow, while more than 20 countries expelled Russian diplomats as a sign of solidarity with the UK. Austrian Federal Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz cites the Austria’s neutrality doctrine to explain the current foreign policy course. According to the Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, Austria maintains close ties with Russia since the country considers itself as a bridge builder between East and West. However, Gady argues that Austria’s neutrality may encourage laxity toward international law. Opponents of the neutrality doctrine believe that the Austrian government selectively invokes its “neutralist” stance whenever its interests are under a threat. 

 

The Right Way to Coerce North Korea (by Victor Cha and Katrin Fraser Katz)

1 April 2018

Edge of Change (Issue 006)In this piece of theirs, Victor Cha and Fraser Katz is giving a recommendation on the best way of coercion strategy for North Korea. The author's state agrees that Trump’s “madman” behavior and White House’s maximum pressure played an important role during the process, however, they support the idea that coercion should have clearly defined U.S. objectives, leverage Washington’s most effective diplomatic and military tools as well as align the Korea policy with the broader U.S. strategy. Considering the South Korean government’s positive contribution and U.S.’s economic pressure, North Korea seems to back up for now which is reflected in upcoming Kim’s meeting with Trump. Cha and Katrin set out certain steps for the U.S. success. They suppose that the U.S. should bolster the strategy that ramps up the regional and international pressure on North Korea by creating a global coalition, setting sanctions using statement on non-proliferation, upgrading alliance with Japan and South Korea. Then, the authors argue that Washington should make it clear that an attack on one state will be considered an attack against all. This will also be followed by holistic economic and political strategies for allies. The authors strongly discourage a potential U.S. military strike due to its adverse effects on possible coalition and on its allies.

 

A US pullback from Syria is a terrible idea (by Kersten Knipp)

2 April 2018

Edge of Change (Issue 006)Kersten Knipp analyses the reasons and possible outcomes of Mr. Trump’s idea to pull the U.S. troops out of Syria. He believes that the president’s statement on the Syrian situation is a mere act of spontaneity, because withdrawal of the U.S. troops would be a proof of the inappropriate and lazily formulated policy in the region. Besides, the American policy in the region would risk to become utterly meaningless, leading to detrimental outcomes. Other actors such as Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran would definitely take advantage of Washington’s step back. Most probably, Russia would dominate in the region. Although the current U.S. policy has not achieved any significant success in the region until now, its pullback will not bring any better results either. 

 

An Emerging Arab-Israeli Thaw (by James S. Robbins)

3 April 2018

Edge of Change (Issue 006)On March 13, the first ever publicly known diplomatic meeting involving the representatives of Israel and several Gulf states (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, UAE and Bahrain) took place in Washington, D.C. At the same time, Saudi Prince Mokhammed bin Salman met with several Jewish organisations and the Gulf countries opened their airspaces for the Israel-heading planes for the first time. James S. Robinson on the pages of National Interest attributes such an unprecedented change to the Iranian expansion in the region. Tehran has recently become the arch-enemy not only of Tel Aviv but of the Gulf monarchies, too. The author considers it symbolic that both Israel and Saudi Arabia have Iran-made rockets falling on their territory. Though officials of Arab states make multiple reservations about the ties with the Jewish state regarding the Palestinian problem, the author believes this issue will inevitably move to thebackground and even full-fledged diplomatic relationships between the sides may be formed. He considers the Obama government’s nuclear deal a gross mistake and urges the American government to support the rapprochement. 

 

Not only England. How the West strengthens the fight against dirty Russian money (by Ilya Shumanov)

3 April 2018

Edge of Change (Issue 006)Ilya Shumanov argues that the effect of the measures taken against Russia in the aftermath of the Skripal scandal, may be exacerbated by the recent trend of fighting dirty money that is on the rise in the West. The U.S. and UK authorities have recently introduced much stricter legal measures against “toxic investment” in the real estate sector (in some posh London areas, Russian businessmen hold biggest shares in property investment) as the public is growing much less tolerant towards it, especially amid the political confrontation with Russian and the alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. election. It is widely suggested that some tough investigations into the Russian oligarchs’ assets in Britain are pending, and the judiciary is expected to take a hard line this time. The article argues that this scenario may hurt Moscow much more than any diplomatic or economic sanctions introduced this far. 

 

Trump’s Views on Trade Aren’t a Passing Fad (by Peter Rough)

3 April 2018

While in March the U.S. made his intention to raise metal tariffs clear, recently they agreed to exempt the EU from the action. In this article, Peter Rough analyzes this step; he argues that although the issue is resolved, there is a potential danger since Trump is capable of applying coercion even on his closest allies. Furthermore, he adds that despite of it, regardless of who is a president, U.S. will start to pursue more competitive trade relations from now on due to mainly two reasons, which are the American workers are blighted by the globalization and a shift in the international distribution of power. In this sense, the public also will push the U.S. to apply a more zero-sum approach to its trade relations. Taking into account all possible outcomes, the author advises the EU member states such as Germany to follow the two-pronged strategy of accommodation and reorientation, rather than confrontation. In this regard, he offers closing trade deficit with the United States and bandwagoning Washington in an offensive against the Chinese trade practice. 

 

Europe is losing the fight against dirty money (by Guilia Paravicini)

4 April 2018

Edge of Change (Issue 006)The piece published at Politico reveals the disturbingly low rates of success in dealing with illegal money flows in the EU. Rob Wainwright, head of Europol (the EU’s law enforcement agency) claims that only 1% of these flows, most modestly estimated at about 27 billion euros per year, ever get seized. The national governments of the EU member states still have much of policy discretion in this field left for themselves and as a result, European-wide enforcement capabilities remain limited. The pending Brexit is an additional headache since the conditions on which future Britain may continue to get access to Europol databases, are yet to be defined. The situation in this sphere is contrasted with counterterrorism strategies which have greatly improved during the recent years; since the 2016 Brussels attack, the number of respective intelligence entries in the Europol system has skyrocketed, and coordinated operations have grown much more sophisticated and successful.