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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.

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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.

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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.

View the video here