Iraq: Is the United States returning to the Middle East?

  9 July 2014

Author: Ilona Kuusi

After the hasty withdrawal of the US troops from Iraq in 2011, the Western-supported prime minister Nouri al-Maliki was left with the responsibility of furthering the democratization process in the country. Yet, instead of ensuring the equal representation of each demographic group, Maliki tried to minimize the internal threats for his regime by centralizing political and military power: the former by means of ensuring a monopoly on state institutions, and the latter by creating a chain of command guaranteeing his direct influence on the execution of operations. These policies left a large part of the population, most remarkably the Sunnis, without a voice. Further, the violent repressions of Sunni criticism towards Maliki’s policies brought led the country to an extremely volatile state. After the start of the Syrian civil war in 2012, the group later known as ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) – began to gain influence. Bashar al-Assad had left areas in eastern Syria uncontrolled, which created fertile soil for ISIS to grow and flourish while the Kurds also started to extend their areas. Now the situation has escalated to a point where the Iraq that US forces left three years ago to develop as a legitimate democracy is falling to pieces, while ISIS has gained control over several areas, winning the Sunni population to their side.

Read more

posted by: RKK/ICDSComments

The West Should Boost Cyber Security Assistance to Its Eastern Partners

 29 June 2014

Author: Piret Pernik

It might be a matter of time when more advanced cyber weapons will be used by states. Providing greater support to build-up the civilian and military cyber security/defence capabilities of the Eastern partners is therefore timely and advantageous for the West. Against this background the EU should now come up with a support package for these cyber security aspects that were uncovered by NATO’s package.

Read more

posted by: RKK/ICDSComments

Energy as a Weapon: Call Russia’s Bluff and Stem Ukraine’s Corruption

 17 June 2014

Author: Matthew Bryza

In a moment of friendly candor, one of Russia’s most senior diplomats once told me privately, “We Russian diplomats negotiate hard because we know we are weak. When we have an issue on which we know we are strong, we will fight like mad. And, for us, that key issue is energy.”

Read more

posted by: RKK/ICDSComments

Two Birds, One Stone

 16 June 2014

Author: Martin Hurt

In early June, the Estonian government moved to launch negotiations with the US for the purchase of third-generation Javelin anti-tank missile systems. What might seem like merely a deal to replace somewhat obsolete equipment made back in the Cold War is actually quite significant for several reasons.

Read more

posted by: RKK/ICDSComments

Kaks kärbest

 16 June 2014

Autor: Martin Hurt

Juuni alguses otsustas Eesti valitsus alustada läbirääkimisi Ameerika Ühendriikidega kolmanda põlvkonna tankitõrjeraketisüsteemide Javelin hankimiseks. Ühest küljest võib tunduda, et tegemist on pelgalt ühe uue relvasüsteemi hankega asendamaks külma sõja ajal toodetud mõnevõrra vananenud varustust. Aga hankel on mitu tähendust.

Read more

posted by: RKK/ICDSComments

Presidential Elections: Eastern Ukraine under Fear and Intimidation

 23 May 2014

Authors: Anna Bulakh and Emmet Tuohy

DONETSK, May 23 – Two days before the Ukrainian presidential election, outside intimidation has virtually silenced the region. The various gangs of separatists calling themselves the “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk are doing their best to prevent the election from happening. There are 34 district election committees in the region; almost all have been attacked, with equipment confiscated, and voter lists destroyed. There has been major difficulty in staffing these committees after Kremlin-backed gunmen began kidnapping election officials and threatening others in an effort to derail the presidential vote.

Read more

posted by: RKK/ICDSComments [1]

Who Controls Eastern Ukraine: Oligarchs, Gunmen, or Putin?

 21 May 2014

Author: Anna Bulakh

DONETSK, Ukraine, 21 May—Despite almost 3 months of crisis, eastern Ukraine remains in a state of flux. One fact is explicit after the failure of the Crimea scenario—that is, Russian annexation—of the Donbas region is that none of the local or external “powers” is in control. In fact, there is no one in charge: not the so-called people’s republics, not regional oligarch and power broker Rinat Akhmetov, not the Ukrainian government in Kyiv, and certainly not Russia. The Donbas has become a ball in a ping pong match among multiple teams, while local residents are also divided; some have backed the separatists, some have fought for Ukrainian unity, while a majority remain passive, hoping that some leader will emerge to give them “stability,” a word mentioned in seemingly every political speech or discussion for the past two decades.

Read more

posted by: RKK/ICDSComments

The Lennart Meri Lecture 2014

 19 May 2014

Author: Jaakko Iloniemi

We have seen in recent months and weeks that a state, determined to use whatever force is necessary, can achieve its objectives by acting unexpectedly and in a defiant manner. The Americans have been, and indeed are, preoccupied with their domestic agenda dedicating little attention to Europe which, after all, has been relatively calm since the Georgian war of 2008. The members of the European Union have been struggling with their economic worries and their politicians have dedicated almost all of their time to common and domestic issues. They have not been prepared to a challenge of a military nature in the middle of Europe. The strike came out of the blue, and it succeeded.

Read more

posted by: RKK/ICDSComments

Non-NATO Nordic Countries Marching Forward, Shoulder to Shoulder: Another Boost to Swedish-Finnish Defense Cooperation

 10 May 2014

Author: Pauli Järvenpää

On 6 May 2014, Defense Ministers Karin Enström of Sweden and Carl Haglund of Finland held a press conference with broad smiles on their faces. They had a good reason to be satisfied, as they had just signed an action plan on behalf of their respective governments for deepening defense cooperation between Sweden and Finland.

Read more

posted by: RKK/ICDSComments

How Euromaidan Saved NATO

 28 April 2014

Author: Jānis Kažociņš

The article is based on a presentation prepared for Lennart Meri Conference 2014.

What if Euromaidan had turned out differently? The Berkut brutalities of 30 Nov and 11 Dec only inflamed protests. But the introduction of the draconian law package No. 3879 on 17 Jan could have been followed by a more sustained and violent campaign against Euromaidan. Intimidation, personal targetting, terror in the streets and maximum use of Titushky, Berkut and the heavily Russian infiltrated SBU (Ukrainian Security Service) special forces could have broken the back of Euromaidan. What would have followed?

Read more

posted by: RKK/ICDSComments