Published 27 April 2018

 

Eagle Eye Issue 310


 

BRIEFS

 

ARMENIA: Protests Lead to Prime Minister’s Resignation and Democratic Progress

Summary: Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan stepped down after massive protests, signaling democratic progress and new challenges for Armenia.

Development:On 23 April, following 10 days of protests, Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan stepped down, ending a decade of key leadership. Sargsyan, formerly Armenia’s president, was elected prime minister absent any opposition candidate after reaching his two-term presidential limit. Protests quickly erupted in the Armenian capital as a result, spreading to other major cities in the nation. Mostly composed of young Armenians, the demonstrators railed against the government, ignoring previously used arguments to justify weak democratic practices. Most commonly, Armenian officials tout the need for unvarying Armenian leadership to combat negative relations with neighboring Azerbaijan and Turkey as a primary reason to resist democratic change. Armenia has fought with neighboring Azerbaijan for almost 30 years over a disputed Armenian ethnic majority area, Nagorno-Karabakh.

Analysis:The events transpiring in Armenia highlight democratic progress, contrasting the frequent democratic backsliding experienced by former Soviet nations. Sargsyan voluntarily stepping down avoided further escalation of the already tense situation, as past Armenian leaders often resisted calls to step down with force. Despite this victory, however, Armenia still faces a lagging economy, rampant corruption, and increasingly strained relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan. The disarray of the Armenian government may create an opportunity for Azerbaijan to make a move, as well as create another issue for the new prime minister to tackle. Additionally, the Russian role in Armenia may also see a shift, as pro-Putin Sargsyan steps down. If Armenian constituents continue to abandon establishment politicians, Russia may lose some of its influence, which may cause Moscow to exert its economic leverage to keep Armenia from opening to Western influence. 
[Gianna Geiger, gianna.geiger.ee@gmail.com]

 

FRANCE: Macron Rebukes Nationalism in Address to US Congress

Summary: Macron’s speech to the US congress indicates his strong opposition to nationalism and his desire to maintain the current global world order to tackle France’s main foreign policy concerns. 

 Development: On 25 April, French President Emmanuel Macron delivered an address to the US Congress as part of his state visit to the US. Macron spoke about a variety of topics, including climate change, the Iran nuclear deal, North Korea, and nationalism. Specifically, Macron expressed his desire for the US to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, a treaty that Macron has championed, and to resist isolationist and nationalist tendencies. Many analysts view Macron’s speech as a rebuke of the President’s foreign policy. Macron also affirmed his commitment to blocking Iran’s nuclear program by maintaining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement between the US, China, Russia, the UK, France, Germany, and Iran. 

 Analysis: Through his speech, Macron indicated his desire to both maintain a commitment to globalization among Western nations and to keep the US active in global affairs concerning France. Macron’s speech shows France’s opposition to Trump’s nationalist foreign policy initiatives, and implicitly, likely intends to send a message to European allies to maintain unity in the face of challenges such as climate change and Russian influence in the region. Macron maintains a clear passion for both the Paris Accord and resistance to Russia, issues that he believes require a united coalition of Western nations for effective action. Macron probably sees France and Germany as the world’s two leading powers actively fighting against nationalism. As part of this, France and Germany will likely continue to compete for regional hegemony in Europe. Macron will almost certainly continue speaking out against nationalism because it suits his nation’s interests, and for the adjacent reason that it possibly distracts from France’s domestic issues. 
[Zach Coffee, zach.coffee.ee@gmail.com]

 

GERMANY: Playing in Great Power Politics, Military to Increase Spending

 Summary: Germany announced increases in military spending, indicating that it may look to increase its influence in Europe and NATO. 

Development: On 23 April, the German military, the Bundeswehr, revealed a purchase request of over $500 million to upgrade and purchase 18 pieces of military equipment. The money would primarily go to the upgrade of tanks, helicopters, and the leasing of armed drones. The Bundeswehr also announced a $1 billion deal to lease drones from Israel and on 6 April agreed to purchase $2.5 billion in drones from the US. On 19 February, Germany’s defense ministry issued a report stating the Bundeswehr lacked basic resources to carry out its mission. Germany has also faced criticism for falling short of spending 2% of its GDP on its military, a requirement of NATO members. 

Analysis: Germany, compared to other NATO members such as France, the UK, and the US, has limited involvement in NATO operations. Germany’s increased military spending may reflect a calculation that the US and UK have reduced their global activism and that Germany can step up as a global military leader. Germany’s new coalition government has an opportunity to capitalize on French President Emmanuel Macron’s domestic problems and Brexit’s strain on the UK to become the regional hegemon in Europe. Additionally, the German government may also see its renewed military drive as a means to divert public attention away from recent labor strikes. Germany may begin to package the boost in military spending as a possible job creator and a way to fight terrorism and may even go as far as to make a commitment regarding the NATO rules on military spending. Germany may not fully commit to spending 2% of its GDP yet, but may set smaller goals to assert itself as a key member of NATO. 
[Zach Coffee, zach.coffee.ee@gmail.com]

 

INDIA: Resistance to China’s One Belt One Road Initiative Likely to Continue

Summary: India firmly withheld its support for China’s One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR), declining to join the Beijing-led multinational initiative. Consequently, China may seek to annex India’s neighboring nations into the project to continue its expansion across Eurasia.

Development: On 24 April, India abnegated its support for China’s OBOR during the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). All other members of SCO reaffirmed their support for OBOR, leaving India the only nation to deny it. India joined SCO along with Pakistan last year, uniting with China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan under this Eurasian political, economic, and security alliance. New Delhi also objects to the $57 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)—a key artery of OBOR—because it cuts through Pakistan-controlled but India-claimed Kashmir. Due to India’s lack of support, China already inked agreements to build a connectivity infrastructure with India’s neighbors, Nepal and Sri Lanka, to which India responded that it would not be pressured by China’s efforts to “rope in” other South Asian countries into OBOR. However, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Beijing on 27 and 28 April to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, in which the topic of India joining OBOR may be revisited.

Analysis: India seems firm in its resolve to remain apart from OBOR and will likely continue to hinder Chinese influence within its territory. India especially opposes joining the initiative because it takes offense to CPEC, stating that the project infringes on its sovereignty. India considers China’s development of Pakistani controlled Kashmir an insult because it believes it has territorial claims on the region, and probably expects China to recognize this and seek its consent beforehand. Even if China does this, it still might not convince India to join OBOR because India’s main reason in denying its support to the initiative revolves around its objective to inhibit China’s expanding security and economic links in its region as well as the rest of South Asia. India probably cannot fully prevent this, however, as China has already found its way around India’s nonparticipation by starting a connecting infrastructure with Nepal and Sri Lanka, thus possibly giving China access to the Bay of Bengal as well as the Indian Ocean—regardless of India’s lack of support or “approval.” Nevertheless, Xi will most likely continue to coax India to give its support to OBOR during his meeting with Modi on 27 and 28 April. Whether or not Xi gains Indian cooperation, China will probably still find its way around this setback and use a “back road” to weave OBOR through Eurasia, calling upon other nations in the region to take part in the initiative to advance China’s spreading influence and increasing globalization. While India will likely continue to protest and abstain from OBOR, it may eventually give in to Xi’s wishes as its efforts to counter expanding Chinese hegemony fail. 
[Bea Francia]

 

SOUTH EAST ASIA: Data Protection Regulations a Potential Threat for Companies

Summary:The lack of insurance and the new data regulations imposed by the EU may put many Asian companies at risk due to the stringent fines and policies in a region where cyber-attack protections are often lacking. 

Development:On 22 and 23 April, multiple reports acknowledged the extreme risk Asian companies face in the realm of cybersecurity. This includes Asian companies that fall under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as it comes into effect in May. Cyber-attacks generally target those with a lack of knowledge in the area of cybersecurity, which largely includes smaller companies due to their lack of resources set aside for cybersecurity. The GDPR offers legal protection for any company containing personal information, including