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Key international developments for 2014

Key international developments for 2014

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Published by Open Briefing
Briefing paper from Open Briefing (United Kingdom, 31 January 2014).
Briefing paper from Open Briefing (United Kingdom, 31 January 2014).

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Published by: Open Briefing on Jan 31, 2014
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Open Briefing |
Briefing paper
| 31 January 2014
 Key international developments for 2014
In Decemer 2013 and January 2014! analysts from t"e Open Briefing intelligence unit revie#ed t"e $ey international developments li$ely to occur over 2014% Included in t"is riefing are ten of t"ese developments% &"ey are not offered as a 'top 10( list ut all #arrant serious attention over t"e ne)t 12 mont"s* 1%
 military uild+up in t"e ,rctic% 2%
-aritime territorial disputes in t"e
East China Sea.
, stalled
 transition% 4%
, pivotal year in
/areful optimism over
nuclear programme% %
&"e opportunities presented y
economy% %
,n uncertain future in
Instaility in
fforts to contain t"e fig"ting in
Central Africa Republic.
/ivil unrest in
5ussian military uild+up in t"e ,rctic
In a meeting #it" t"e 5ussian -inistry of Defence in Decemer 2013! 6ladimir 7utin asserted t"at one of 5ussia(s top priorities for 2014 #ill e t"e protection of its economic! political and security interests in t"e ,rctic% &"e president ordered a military uild+up in t"e region t"is year! including t"e formulation of ne# military units and infrastructure% 7utin "as spo$en in t"e past of 5ussia(s need to increase its military capacity in t"e ,rctic ut t"is #as "is most direct statement yet%
Vladimir Putin asserted that one of Russia’s top priorities for 2014 will be the protection of its economic, political and security interests in the Arctic.
5ussia increased its manoeuvres in t"e ,rctic over 2013% In 8eptemer 2013! t"e /ommander+in+/"ief of t"e 9avy! ,dmiral 6i$tor /"ir$ov! announced t"at 5ussia #ould resume a permanent military presence in t"e ,rctic% In a symolic move! t"e 5ussian 9avy sent a tas$ group of 10 #ars"ips :"eaded y t"e flags"ip of t"e 9ort"ern ;leet! 7eter t"e <reat=! as #ell as nuclear+po#ered icerea$ers! along t"e 9ort"ern 8ea 5oute > a s"ipping lane et#een t"e ,tlantic and 7acific Oceans! running along 5ussia(s ,rctic coast from t"e nort"ern port city of -urmans$ to ast ,sia%
Open Briefing |
 In t"e later mont"s of 2013! 5ussia egan reuilding 8oviet+era infrastructure in t"e ,rctic! including t"e &emp airfield on Kotelny Island near t"e city of 9orils$ and t"e uran facilities in &i$si! 9aryan+-ar and ,nadyr% &"e 5ussian ,rmy also reinstated a military ase in t"e 9ovosiirs$ ,rc"ipelago :also $no#n as t"e 8ierian Islands=! #"ic" "ad een aandoned in 13% On 10 Decemer 2013! t"e -inister of Defence! 8ergei 8"oigu! also stated t"ere are plans to 'create a group of troops and forces to ensure military security and protection of t"e 5ussian ;ederation(s national interests in t"e ,rctic in 2014(% In 2014! 5ussia loo$s set to continue reinstating ot"er nort"ern airfields! suc" as &i$si and 8everomors$! and ases on t"e 9e# 8ierian Islands and ;ran? Josef @and ,rc"ipelago% 5ussia(s primary interest in t"e ,rctic is economic% )perts elieve t"at t"e land "olds 1.A of #orld(s undiscovered oil and 30A of t"e #orld(s undiscovered natural gas! as #ell as deposits of gold and platinum% &"e ,rctic also offers maritime transport via t"e 9ort"ern 8ea 5oute and t"e potential for foreign investment in 5ussian ,rctic proects! suc" as t"e plan to construct floating nuclear+po#er stations in t"e ocean to allo# <a?prom to access t"e oil and gas reserves% &"e increased 5ussian military presence is also li$ely a reaction to t"e competition it faces from ,rctic neig"ours 9or#ay! /anada and Denmar$ to gain access to ,rctic natural resources% ;urt"ermore! in -ay 2013 t"e Cnited 8tates announced t"at it #ould invest  illion in ,rctic proects! emp"asising t"at it #ould not e left e"ind in t"e race for t"e region(s natural resources and sea routes%
-aritime territorial disputes in t"e ast /"ina 8ea
<loal media focussed t"eir attention on maritime territorial disputes in t"e ast /"ina 8ea t"roug"out 2013% &"e editorial line often dre# on 114E2014 analogies and pointed to t"e possiility of pre+Forld Far I dynamics revisiting t"e #orld a century on% &"e sta$es are "ig" and nationalistic sentiment palpale% Japanese 7rime -inister 8"in?o ,e appears to e testing t"e resolve of t"e Cnited 8tates and ot"er regional allies to support Japanese security #it" "is uncompromising posturing and intentional inflaming of 8ino+Japanese relations% Beiing and t"e 7eople(s @ieration ,rmy "ave responded in $ind and t"ere are ovious ris$s of miscalculation%
apanese Prime !inister "hin#o Abe appears to be testin$ the resol%e of the &nited "tates and other re$ional allies to support apanese security.
&"e region can proaly e)pect more fis"ing+oat pro)y confrontation! nationalistic activism! assertions of aerial and resource sovereignty and island nationalisation in 2014% Go#ever! it is possile t"at ot" ,e and /"inese 7resident Hi Jinping! #"ile revelling in nationalistic identities! are more preoccupied #it" securing domestic economic ascendency% &"e t"eatre of diplomatic confrontation in ot" t"e ast and 8out" /"ina seas is more a portal into t"e active reconfiguration of regional security alliances and an arena to test t"e strengt" of suc" relations% 2014 is a year to #atc" "o# or #"et"er Indonesia and India! post national election! engage in regional security dialogues and "o# ,8,9 forums respond to ast and 8out" /"ina 8ea confrontations%
Open Briefing |
, 8talled -yanmar &ransition
It is "ard for t"e international community to not get caug"t up in t"e fairy+tale prospect of -yanmar s#iftly rea$ing from almost five decades of military rule and rapidly recapturing t"e regional economic dynamism of pre+1.0 Burma% &"e political reform! t"e dialogue et#een 7resident &"ein 8ein and t"e leader of t"e 9ational @eague of Democracy! ,ung 8an 8uu Kyi! t"e removal of sanctions! increased foreign investment and slo# progress on ceasefires #it" armed et"nic forces s"o# unprecedented promise% 8ein(s reformist agenda could possily steer -yanmar a#ay from insecurity and economic stagnation and onto a pat" of prosperity and "uman development%
'espite the positi%e o%ertures of reform, there are concernin$ si$ns that a de%astatin$ mi(ture of intercommunal %iolence, resource conflict and ethnic conflict could be rei$nited.
Go#ever! despite t"e positive overtures of reform! t"ere are concerning signs t"at a devastating mi)ture of intercommunal violence! resource conflict and et"nic conflict could e reignited in t"e eastern and #estern perip"eries of t"e country% 8ectarian violence in 5a$"ine :,ra$an= 8tate! conflict over land gras and illegal e)propriation! sporadic violence in Kac"in 8tate and strong anti+/"inese sentiment in relation to large infrastructure proects indicate t"at -yanmar(s transition pat" remains a long road to travel%
, pivotal year in ,fg"anistan
2014 #ill e a decisive year for ,fg"anistan% &"ree $ey factors #ill come toget"er over t"e ne)t 12 mont"s t"at #ill s"ape t"e future direction of t"e country* t"e election in ,pril! t"e c"ange of mandate for C8+9,&O forces at t"e end of t"e year and t"e rene#ed relative autonomy of ,fg"anistan(s security forces! economy and administration% &"e ,pril elections #ill lead to a c"ange of government! as 7resident Gamid Kar?ai is not eligile for a t"ird term% It is "ig"ly li$ely t"at t"e election period #ill e surrounded y a climate of "eig"tened insecurity! as t"e &alian "ave pledged to #age a terror campaign to derail t"e electoral process% Go#ever! recent trends suggest t"at t"e &alian are li$ely to s"ift t"e focus of t"eir attac$s% In previous elections! muc" emp"asis "ad een put on intimidation tactics to prevent t"e pulic from voting! #"ic" proved ineffective and t"ere #as a large turnout at polling stations% ,s a result! it is very proale t"at t"e &alian #ill instead focus on targeting and $illing election officials! as evidenced y t"e 8eptemer 2013 assassination of ,manulla" ,man! t"e /"ief lection Officer of ,fg"anistan(s Kundu? province% 31 Decemer #ill mar$ t"e end of 9,&O(s mandate in ,fg"anistan% Go#ever! tal$ of a #it"dra#al is misleading! as t"at troop levels #ill not drop to ?ero after 2014% Instead! a s"ift in 9,&O(s mandate #ill occur #it" operation 5esolute 8upport! #"ic" #ill include troop reductions and s"ifting responsiilities% &"e scope of t"is s"ift #ill e "ig"ly dependent on t"e capailities of t"e ,fg"an 9ational 8ecurity ;orces :,98;= to ta$e over la# and order in t"e country% /ontinued involvement in ,fg"anistan y t"e Cnited 8tates and its allies is "ig"ly li$ely due its strategic importance for regional staility t"ere are concerns over neig"ouring 7a$istan(s staility and t"e security of its nuclear arsenal! as #ell as t"e t"reat posed y al+aeda and li$e+minded terrorist groups operating from 7a$istan%

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