THE UKRAINE CRISIS. BREXIT BRITAIN IS PROVING ITSELF AN INTERNATIONAL FORCE: HERE’S WHAT WE SHOULD DO NEXT
Ranj Alaaldin | Conservative Home | February 21, 2022
British foreign policy is in the midst of a honeymoon period. Post-Brexit Britain is defining itself on the international stage, thanks to its support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and the resettlement in the UK of tens of thousands of Hongkongers fleeing China’s repressive rule.
Irrespective now of whether a Russian invasion of Ukraine materialises, Britain’s valiant effort to push back against Russia’s aggression has exemplified resolve, conviction and moral authority, allowing the British flag to emerge as a beacon of freedom and democracy in a matter of just months.
When the Integrated Review was published last year, its critics rejected it as a pipe dream, premised on the notion that Britain could not be a “soft power superpower” outside of the European Union, but our approach to Ukraine has highlighted an ability to balance our soft power tools with our hard power capabilities: the dispatching of weapons to Ukraine and the mobilisation of our allies might just de-escalate tensions, and one could argue that our muscular approach has forced Europe to get its act together, potentially paving the way for the Russians to contemplate a diplomatic resolution that may have previously been unfathomable.
The same critics of the report who predicted Brexit would lead to a Britain less relevant in global affairs are also currently disparaging the Government for spearheading the global pushback against Russia. Opponents of Brexit warned that the withdrawal from the EU would diminish the country’s capacity to shape the contours of international affairs, but the logic of that argument meant that less Europe would mean more responsibility.
The Government has, therefore, rightly adopted a proactive and assertive foreign policy that allows Britain to be both global power and global broker to work closely with like-minded nations to address common threats.
Our approach to Ukraine should continue to set the tone for British foreign policy moving forward, namely by deploying the country’s reputational assets and global reach to address ongoing and future threats, and to mobilise our allies into action in increasingly complex and multi-layered challenges to international security. The shape and nature of long-standing and evolving security threats, which at times inter-connect, requires a re-calibration of how we combat them.
BRITAIN’S POST-BREXIT FOREIGN POLICY CAN BE A FORCE FOR GOOD
Ranj Alaaldin | Foreign Policy | April 16, 2021
An assertive and proactive Britain—one that has the willingness, resources, and global infrastructure to fill the policy voids that result from failed collaborative efforts to address global crises—is absolutely critical as the international community grapples with ongoing wars, Russian belligerence, and China’s human rights atrocities. Although Brexit has raised some doubts over Britain’s future role on the global stage, London retains wide-ranging international linkages; important institutional positions in the G-20, G-7, the U.N. Security Council, NATO, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank; a diplomatic and security service that is among the best in the world; and an economy that will still be the sixth or seventh largest in the world in 2030.
The government’s publication last month of the long-awaited “Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy” indicates that a bold and realistic foreign policy looms on the horizon, one that recognizes the strengths and limits of British influence and adapts the resiliency of the country to modern-day challenges and new frontiers in warfare, including cyberspace and artificial intelligence.
The indications that the U.K. will look to make a stronger mark on the global stage have been exemplified by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s leadership on combating climate change, the response to China’s egregious human rights abuses, the imposition of sanctions on Syrian officials involved in war crimes, and the commitment to raise defense spending by 16.5 billion pounds ($21.9 billion) by 2024. Johnson has also committed to advancing girls’ education around the world and to making this a key part of his legacy as prime minister—and rightly so: Globally, 132 million girls do not go to school, and nearly two-thirds of the world’s 781 million illiterate adults are female. These conditions enable fragile states and weak institutions and the proliferation of terrorist groups and criminal enterprises that exploit the weak and destitute to swell their ranks.
CONFLICTS, PANDEMICS AND PEACEBUILDING: NEW PERSPECTIVES ON SECURITY SECTOR REFORM IN THE MENA REGION
The Covid-19 pandemic is not only a health challenge. In the MENA region, against the backdrop of protracted conflicts, instability, and an overall deterioration in socio-economic conditions, the coronavirus crisis adds another layer of vulnerability and has already had long-lasting repercussions on human security across the region. Moreover, as hybrid actors take on an important role as security providers amid the pandemic in a context of limited or absent oversight, risks associated to a lack of accountability, ethno-religious discrimination, human rights abuses and gender-based violence grow. While classical approaches to security provision tend to portray non-state actors and the State as inherently at odds, the complexity of a rapidly evolving security landscape throughout the region should trigger a revision of the very concept of effective governance. Against this backdrop, how should Security Sector Reform (SSR) strategies and programmes adapt? What lessons can be drawn from selected case studies such as Iraq, Libya, and Yemen? Ranj Alaaldin spoke to the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance and the Italian Institute for International Political Studies as part of a panel discussion.
U.S. INFLUENCE IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND COMPETITION FROM CHINA
Dr. Ranj Alaaldin of the Brookings Institution and Brookings Doha Center discussed the future of U.S. policy in the Middle East and whether China and Russia can compete with the U.S. in the region. The discussion took place as part of a Chatham House and Sharq Forum event on great power competition in the Middle East. He argues China’s prospects of displacing the West in the Middle East are slim, given the West’s long-standing and wide-ranging relations with both states and societies in the region.