The International Spectator, Vol. 49, No. 3, September 2014

Sezioni speciali su The MENA Region and the West e Secessionism in Europe

Can the World Afford to Condone the 'Divided States of Syria'? Free
Recent Publications Free

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The MENA Region and the West


Iran-US Relations in the Light of the Nuclear Negotiations
Kayhan Barzegar
The nuclear negotiations between Iran and EU3+3 have provided the grounds for establishing direct talks between Iran and the United States, subsequently creating a positive prospect for solving the Iranian nuclear standoff after a decade of negotiations. The effect of economic sanctions and political change in Iran have made it possible to bring an important foreign policy issue into domestic politics discourses. The fact that the nuclear negotiations put Iran in a position comparable to the other world powers strengthened a sense of movement towards a win-win situation among Iranian political forces. All of this created a relative political consensus among Iran's ruling elites regarding the need to initiate direct talks with the United States in order to solve the Iranian nuclear standoff. The nuclear programme is also linked with the regional equation, the result of which has been the emergence of a new kind pragmatism in the conduct of Iranian regional policy in hope of revising Iran's place in US Middle East policy.
Keywords: Iran-US direct talks, Iranian nuclear issue, confidence-building measures, regional equation
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Obama's Iranian Gamble
Sanam Vakil
US-Iranian relations have been stalled for over three decades due to missteps in timing, distrust, hostility and ideological differences between Tehran and Washington. Six American presidents have experimented with different political and economic tools in an effort to reverse Iranian support for terrorist groups, its opposition to Israel and its pursuit of a nuclear programme. President Barack Obama's direct engagement with Tehran to end the nuclear standoff is a first step towards improved relations between two estranged countries that share a number of mutual interests.
Keywords: United States, Iran, Middle East, nuclear deal, rapprochement
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Europe and Iran's Nuclear Issue: The Labours and Sorrows of a Supporting Actor
Riccardo Alcaro and Aniseh Bassiri Tabrizi
At the time of writing, representatives from Iran and the E3/EU+3 are trying to work out an agreement that will guarantee that Iran's controversial nuclear programme, widely suspected of having a military purpose, serves only peaceful ends. As the negotiations enter their most crucial phase, the time is ripe to attempt an assessment of the role played by the only actor, besides Iran, that has been on stage since it all began over ten years ago: Europe. Throughout this long drama, Europe's performance has had some brilliant moments. Yet the quality of its acting has decreased as a new protagonist, the US, has come on stage. Overall, the Europeans' record is positive, albeit not entirely spotless.
Keywords: EU foreign policy, Iran, transatlantic relations, nuclear non-proliferation
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Can the World Afford to Condone the 'Divided States of Syria'?
Hassan Mneimneh
After more than three years of corrosive wars, Syria no longer exists as a nation-state. It has been replaced by disparate entities and precarious arrangements – to the detriment of the Syrian population. The 'Divided States of Syria' are in large part the result of the survival strategy of the regime, aided by the futile pursuit of a 'political solution' by the international community. As the tragedy deepens, the recovery of Syria becomes more difficult, and the implications for regional stability increase in gravity. The West – the United States in particular – has abstained from forceful engagement. Yet, the price to pay today may in retrospect pale in light of the political, strategic and moral catastrophes that the current reserved approach is enabling.
Keywords: Syria, Levant, Responsibility to Protect
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The EU and the Syrian Crisis as Viewed from the Middle East
Lorenzo Trombetta
Seen through the eyes of Syrian activists and other observers based in the Middle East, EU policy towards Syria could in some ways appear inconsistent and ambiguous. In Brussels, EU representatives remind us that the Syrian crisis is the most difficult one the European Union has had to face so far, for the unprecedented scope of the humanitarian catastrophe, its geographic proximity to the Union's borders, and the difficulties in deciphering a fluid and multi-dimensional conflict. After more than three years since the eruption of violence, the EU is trying hard to play a pivotal role in the Syrian issue, despite the complexity of balancing its institutions, the different political sensibilities of its 28 member states, and the pressures exerted by influent external actors.
Keywords: European Union, Syria, activism, civil society
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The EU and Libya and the Art of the Possible
Florence Gaub
In spite of geographic proximity and a number of shared interests, the European Union and Libya have a history of strained relations. The war of 2011 provided an opportunity for a fresh start, but so far neither side has been able to reap benefits from an entirely new political situation. Instead, Libya's difficult internal situation has not only slowed down the process of rapprochement, but also increased EU concern. At a time when cooperation becomes a necessity rather than a choice, Libya is now down-spiralling into implosion at the levels of security, bureaucracy and economy, to the point where it cannot absorb the offers being made.
Keywords: European Union, Libya, post-conflict
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Libyan Arms and Regional Instability
Francesco Strazzari
As security continues to be a primary challenge in post-Qadhafi Libya, the availability of weapons to nearby opposition groups and armed insurgencies is a source of major concern for Libya's neighbours and the international community. Uncontrolled weapons proliferation and the rise of new armed groups have gone hand in hand across various conflict fronts. While what is known about weapons acquisition dynamics does not make it possible to establish a strict causal relationship, by observing variations in the various contexts, critical factors can be identified, such as the emergence of a protection market, the multiplication of tactical options and splintering processes, which facilitate comprehension of how greater circulation of weapons is related to regional volatility and destabilisation.
Keywords: Libya, weapons proliferation, Sahel, North Africa
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Supporting the Transitions in North Africa: The Case for a Joined-Up Approach
Hélène Michou, Eduard Soler i Lecha and José Ignacio Torreblanca
The EU's response to the Arab Spring is seen as one of its biggest missed opportunities. It has been unable to bring together its different tools of foreign, development and security policy into a strategic joined-up approach. The interconnectedness of the socio-economic and political demands of the popular uprisings across the north of Africa represented a unique opportunity to implement such a joined-up approach. The EU's ambitious rhetoric and pledges to promote 'deep democracy' have not been matched at policy level in the fields of money, market or mobility. Whilst certain member states have sought to overcome the different operating logics of the development, diplomatic and security communities in their regional Arab Partnership programmes, a number of structural and circumstantial factors limit the effectiveness of these attempts, at both the EU and member state level.
Keywords: Arab Spring, EU foreign policy, joined-up approach, development
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Secessionism in Europe

An Independent Scotland? The Scottish National Party's Bid for Independence and its Prospects
Paolo Dardanelli and James Mitchell
The September 2014 referendum is a milestone in Scotland's history. After 307 years of union with England and a 15-year experience with devolution, Scottish nationalism is within reach of its ultimate goal. Independence would be consensual and Scotland and the rest of the UK would retain multiple links. The EU dimension looms large in the debate and is entangled with the UK's own review of its membership. Scotland's referendum is part of a wider trend seeing other 'stateless nations' in the democratic world pursuing independence. Even if opinion polls indicate voters will likely reject secession, Scotland's experience holds important lessons for the wider world.
Keywords: Scotland, UK, independence, Europe
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Catalan Secessionism: Young People's Expectations and Political Change
Montserrat Guibernau
Various factors have triggered the recent shift from devolution to secession in Catalonia: the Aznar government's lack of response to demands for greater autonomy for Catalonia, the legal challenging of the 2006 Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia and, increasingly, economic arguments as Catalan society endures a harsh economic crisis. After evaluating the impact of the Spanish transition to democracy upon younger generations' expectations regarding the meaning and content of democracy in post-Franco Spain, it is argued that democracy based upon 'consensus' rather than 'majoritarian democracy' would be better suited to respond to national minorities' demands in Spain.
Keywords: secessionism, Catalan nationalism, emancipatory nationalism, majoritarian democracy
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The Crystal Curtain: A Postscript on Europe's North-South Divide
Fabrizio Tassinari
The European Union's sovereign debt and banking crisis has made apparent a gnawing gap between the northern and southern parts of Europe. Over the course of this past half decade, this divide has been brought into the public debate through a myriad of perspectives, from social trust to competitiveness. Yet, the governance sources of the divide are underestimated in policy practices and misrepresented in the political discourse. A governance approach can help clarify why the pursuit of convergence underpinning EU crisis-resolution mechanisms has become a contributing factor, rather than a prospective solution to the North-South gap. In doing so, governance also forms the basis for recommendations to policymakers in both halves of the continent, especially when confronted with the challenge of populist Euroscepticism.
Keywords: future of Europe, North-South divide, bureaucratic autonomy, convergence
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Book Reviews

Reconsidering the Libya Intervention
Tim Haesebrouck
Review of: Toppling Qaddafi. Libya and the Limits of Liberal Intervention, by Christopher S. Chivvis, Cambridge University Press, 2014
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Private Enforcement of European Union Competition Law
Federico Casolari
Review of: Competition Damages Actions in the EU: Law and Practice, by David Ashton and David Henry, Edward Elgar, 2013
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Recent Publications
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