A Chaotic Start: Foreign Affairs in the New U.S. Congress

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 7, No. 2, February 2019

By William R. Hawkins

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) meets with Nechirvan Barzani, outgoing Prime Minister of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), in the province’s capital Arbil during a Middle East tour, on January 9, 2019. The eight-day tour comes weeks after the US President announced that the United States would quickly pull its 2,000 soldiers out of Syria, declaring that IS — also known as ISIS — had been defeated. Credit: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty.

It is widely held that the direction of foreign policy has shifted almost wholly to the executive branch. The only issue being under which president did this happen? Ronald Regan? Franklin Roosevelt? Woodrow Wilson? Teddy Roosevelt? Or even George Washington as the inherent result of the creation of the presidency itself. The Constitution was created to correct the lack of national leadership in the prior Confederation period when there was only a Congress. But one only needs to look at the first actions of the 116th Congress to understand why a major factor in this evolution of power has been the confusion and institutional flaws that render Congress unsuited for the conduct of international affairs. Its role is limited to being a forum for supporting or opposing the policies set by the Commander-in-Chief.

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Senate Undermines America as an Alliance Partner: The Resolution to Ban US Military Assistance in Yemen

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 7, No. 12, December 2018 

By William R. Hawkins

Tribal gunmen loyal to the Huthi movement brandish their weapons on March 26, 2015 during a gathering in Sanaa to show support to the Shiite Huthi militia and against the Saudi-led intervention in the country. Warplanes from a Saudi-led Arab coalition bombed Huthi rebels in support of Yemen’s embattled president, as regional rival Iran warned the intervention was a “dangerous” move. Credit: MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images

Those who pushed the U.S. Senate to adopt Senate Joint Resolution 54 (S.J.Res.54), “A joint resolution to direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress” in mid-December sought to avoid any mention of the strategic importance of Yemen, the nature of the civil war that has been raging there, or the support Iran has been giving the Shia Houthi rebels who started the conflict. Instead, the resolution aimed only at the U.S.-Saudi alliance and the Saudi-led coalition that is fighting to defend the internationally recognized Yemen government. No American combat units are involved in the Yemen conflict. The U.S. has been providing intelligence and logistical support to give a critical edge to the coalition forces that are doing the actual fighting.

The supposed purpose of the resolution was to “punish” Riyadh over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi activist working to topple the regime. He is commonly called a “journalist” but was actually only a writer of opinion pieces published by The Washington Post and other liberal outlets. His views were not compatible with American interests in the Middle East as I outlined in the October 20 issue of this journal.

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Khashoggi was Not a Friend of America

It would be ironic if his death led the U.S. to take actions harmful to itself

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 7, No. 10, October 2018 

By William R. Hawkins

Iran’s Navy Commander Admiral Habibollah Sayari points at a map during a press conference in Tehran on December 22, 2010, as saying that Iran will launch 10 days of naval drills from December 24, covering east of the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman to the Gulf of Aden. Credit: Hamed Jafarnejad/AFP/Getty Images.

Returning from his trip to Saudi Arabia and Turkey, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told President Donald Trump on Thursday that the Saudi Arabian government needs s “a few more days” to investigate the fate of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi writer and activist who disappeared on October 4 while visiting a Saudi consulate in Turkey. It has been alleged that Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi agents because of his criticism of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the young reform-minded de facto leader of the country.  Pompeo told the press, “We made clear to them that we take this matter very seriously.” As a sign of this, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin withdrew from an investment conference in Riyadh and President Donald Trump threatened “severe consequences” if Khashoggi’s murder was state sponsored. Yet, Pompeo also reminded his audience, “We have a have a long strategic relationship with Saudi Arabia. We need to be mindful of that.” And well we should, as it provides the larger strategic context in which the fate of Khashoggi must be placed.

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Civil Society and Its Resistance Under Authoritarian Regimes: The Arab Youth Climate Movement

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 5, No. 7, August 2017

By Lena G Deutsch

Download the report as a pdf by using the link in this heading, or, continue reading the full report below. Lena G Deutsch – Civil Liberties and Resistance Under Authoritarian Regimes

Authoritarian regimes function with consistency through the use of coercion, military force, government subsidies, spending, and the legacy of functioning under a rentier economy. Rentier states receive a large amount of their national revenues from renting natural resources to external clients (e.g. the Suez Canal, oil pipelines, uranium mining, etc). These external clients may be foreign governments or individuals. While these mechanisms of control are similar to each other, it must be emphasized that respective authoritarian regimes are not the same despite their similar frameworks. This holds true post Arab Spring, where regime responses to civilian rebellion in Libya, Yemen, and Bahrain, informed different models of regime responses to the uprisings.[1] I will follow the Arab Youth Climate Movement (AYCM) in Egypt, Qatar, and Jordan, to understand the ways environmental movements via Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) function under authoritarian regimes. This will be conducted by outlining the laws that restrict civil society from their civil liberties in each respective country, followed by the analysis of these restrictions in relation to the actions executed by the movement in each respective chapter.

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Gulf Geopolitics Casts Shadow Over Somalia

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 5, No. 7, July 2017

By Haroon Mohamoud

Tribal infighting—of which the recent Gulf blockade on Qatar is merely a modern manifestation—is nothing new to the Arabian Peninsula. Feuding among the Al Sauds, Al Thanis, Al Khalifas, Al Sabahs and a handful of other royal families—who rule Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and the emirates of the UAE—is almost as old as their respective genealogies (1).

In the early twentieth century, the discovery of the world’s largest oil reserves in the region brought a gradual end to scarcity, thereby removing the fuel for much of this turbulence among warring factions. And just as petrodollars financed the modernisation of the barren deserts particularly with ever higher glass towers, it has also created powerful regimes in the region that seek to enhance their geopolitical clout.

One particular arena where this export of influence is acute is in the Horn of Africa (2). Prized for its strategic position for centuries, it is fast becoming a stage where the Gulf blockade is being played out (3). The process could well be drawn out, its results long-lasting.

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