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Key Military Decisions in Iraq and Afghanistan Taken with Insufficient Political Direction

November 25, 2013 Comments off

Key Military Decisions in Iraq and Afghanistan Taken with Insufficient Political Direction
Source: Chatham House

The British government decision-making process failed under the pressure of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, operating in a way which was incoherent, inconsistent and opaque, says a new report, Depending on the Right People, British Political Military Relations 2001-10, by James de Waal.

The report challenges the widespread view that Britain’s politicians, notably Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, should bear the sole blame for the country’s military difficulties. It draws on recent evidence, including from the Chilcot Inquiry, to show that Britain instead suffered a wider failure of the government system, with politicians, senior military officers and civil servants all playing their part. It argues that government policy-making must become more systematic in order to avoid repeating these mistakes in future wars.

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New Report: Yemen’s Stability Threatened

October 7, 2013 Comments off

New Report: Yemen’s Stability Threatened
Source: Chatham House

Yemen’s political transition, which has been held up as a potential model for conflict-affected states, is due to come to an end with a round of elections scheduled for 2014. Backers of the country’s peace plan believe that it will usher in a new, more equitable and peaceful era for Yemen.

But new research from Chatham House’s Yemen Forum shows that the structure of the political economy built up under former president Ali Abdullah Saleh has not been significantly affected by the transition, and that the same elite actors who set the country on a path to economic ruin are likely to prevail after the elections.

A new report, Yemen: Corruption, Capital Flight and Global Drivers of Conflict, argues that international factors, including capital flight to tax havens, play a role in encouraging corruption and developmental dysfunction in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country. Similar drivers are likely to play a role in blocking reform in the future.

Yemen was the world’s fifth largest source of illicit capital flows among Least Developed Countries between 1990 and 2008, with $12bn leaving the country. For every dollar spent on aid during that period, $2.7 left Yemen illegally, with politicians routinely using private banking channels to transfer their money into safer, more profitable jurisdictions outside Yemen, often in donor states.

The chronic problem of capital flight links Yemen to a wider global governance agenda over tax havens (secrecy jurisdictions), an issue that has been steadily rising in importance on the G8 and OECD policy agendas. While Yemen’s elites are able to systematically extract rents from oil, smuggling and aid, and siphon them out of the country, they have little or no incentive to improve the domestic situation, and tax revenues that are needed to fund Yemen’s development are undermined.

Meanwhile, security interests have shaped the strategy of Western and Gulf states in Yemen in the past decade, in which military aid to the Saleh regime has grown much more rapidly than development aid. However, short-term counter-terrorism priorities are not always consistent with domestic perceptions of political legitimacy, and the US drone strategy – supported by President Hadi – risks undermining Yemen’s stability in the long term.

All too often the focus on ‘fragile states’ revolves around domestic dynamics and ignores the international factors that incentivize personal enrichment at the cost of good governance. The report recommends that Western donors widen the scope of their political economy analysis to address the interaction between domestic and international factors that cause corruption in Yemen, and that the role of secrecy jurisdictions should be included in the revised Millennium Development Goals, beyond 2015.

New Report: Stolen Nigerian Crude Oil and Profits Laundered Around the World

September 30, 2013 Comments off

New Report: Stolen Nigerian Crude Oil and Profits Laundered Around the World
Source: Chatham House

Nigeria lost at least 100,000 barrels of oil per day, around 5% of total output, in the first quarter of 2013 to theft from its onshore and swamp operations alone, a new Chatham House report estimates. This illicit oil is likely to have found ready buyers in West Africa, the US, Europe and several Asian countries.

Stolen Nigerian crude and the profits from it are laundered around the world, threatening the integrity of financial markets and the legitimate oil business. Within Nigeria, the world’s 13th largest oil producer, the practice is tied to political violence, corruption and instability.

Despite this, no Nigerian oil thieves have been prosecuted internationally, and knowledge of the illegal business and its practitioners remains poor, says Nigeria’s Criminal Crude: International Options to Combat the Export of Stolen Oil.

Criminal Crude – the first independent, in-depth report on the international dimensions of Nigerian oil theft – explores the problem in the context of legal trading markets and Nigeria’s own oil sector and political culture.

The report describes oil theft as a species of organized crime that is almost totally off the international community’s radar.

New Report: Energy Conservation Key Security Goal for Gulf

August 21, 2013 Comments off

New Report: Energy Conservation Key Security Goal for Gulf
Source: Chatham House

The systemic waste of oil and gas in the Gulf is eroding economic resilience to shocks and increasing security risks, including to citizens’ health. Success or failure in setting and meeting sustainable energy goals in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries will have a global impact, says a new report Saving Oil and Gas in the Gulf.

The six GCC countries – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, the UAE and Bahrain – now consume more primary energy than the whole of Africa. Yet they have just one twentieth of that continent’s population. Energy intensity in the region is high and rising in contrast to other industrialized regions and is driven by systemic inefficiencies.

Almost 100% of energy in the region is produced from oil and gas without carbon dioxide abatement, and water security is increasingly dependent on energy-driven desalination. If the region’s fuel demand were to continue rising as it has over the last decade, it would double by 2024. This is a deeply undesirable prospect for both the national security of each state and the global environment.

Saving Oil and Gas in the Gulf is the first report to offer practical recommendations that address the key challenges of governance, political commitment and market incentives from a GCC-wide perspective. It draws on the results of two years of research and workshops in the region, with representatives of over 60 local institutions w ith a critical interest in and influence over domestic energy.

The report concludes that efficiency savings are urgent, achievable and will build a bridge to renewables deployment.

New Report: Solving Iraq’s Political Divisions Key to Stemming Internal Violence

July 30, 2013 Comments off

New Report: Solving Iraq’s Political Divisions Key to Stemming Internal Violence
Source: Chatham House

Iraq’s political groups must pursue meaningful domestic reconciliation and formulate a strategic response to the crisis in Syria or risk exacerbating a wider regional conflict, says a new report.

Iraq on the International Stage: Foreign Policy and National Identity in Transition, argues that Iraq’s foreign relations are increasingly intertwined with the country’s own divisions, and the increasing polarisation of key Middle Eastern countries over Syria threatens to escalate Iraq’s internal crisis. Drawing on interviews with key stakeholders across Iraq, the report offers a rare insight into Iraqi perspectives on these challenges.

The report is launched at a time of escalating tensions and growing fears of a new Iraqi civil war. The UN estimates that more than 1,000 Iraqis died in political violence in May, the highest monthly death toll in years. Meanwhile, Syria has become the most divisive foreign policy issue facing Iraq, with little consensus on how to respond to spillover from the conflict next door.

New Report: Developed Countries Are in for a Prolonged Period of Low Growth

July 17, 2013 Comments off

New Report: Developed Countries Are in for a Prolonged Period of Low Growth
Source: Chatham House

Prospects for the world’s manufacturing landscape are uncertain and developed countries are in for a prolonged period of low growth, says a new report, The World’s Industrial Transformation.

The financial crisis and recession mean a long period of tepid growth is likely in the West, whilst developing countries such as China – now the world’s largest manufacturer – and India, should continue to grow at a healthy rate, partly owing to the emergence of a huge middle class that will need consumer goods and vast infrastructure investments.

The World’s Industrial Transformation assesses which industries will change the global manufacturing landscape and drive future growth. The report examines four key sectors: aircraft, automotive, pharmaceutical and retailing. From the aircraft and automotive studies comes a clear recommendation that governments should support free trade and resist protectionist pressures.

Global agreements such as the stalled Doha round now seem to be beyond the reach of the international community but fresh attempts to promote international trade and investment, including regional initiatives such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, should be strongly supported.

New Report: Famine risk is well understood and badly managed

April 29, 2013 Comments off

New Report: Famine risk is well understood and badly managed

Source: Chatham House

Food crises are the deadliest natural disasters, resulting in up to 2 million deaths since 1970, yet responses to them are reactive, slow and fragmented.

A new report, Managing Famine Risk: Linking Early Warning to Early Action argues that whilst famine early warning systems have a good track record of predicting food crises, they have a poor track record of triggering early action to protect lives and livelihoods.

Major improvements in the sophistication and capabilities of famine early warning systems provide the opportunity for decisive early action, but also the opportunity for prevarication, delay and buck-passing among governments and humanitarian agencies.

There is also added political pressure not to report food crises, says Rob Bailey, the report’s author.

‘Governments in at-risk countries may suppress famine early warnings if they are concerned it will challenge their record on hunger reduction,’ he said.

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