The Antarctic versus Dubai – The Planetary Crisis Rules (5)

Three seemingly unrelated events occurred in April 2014. The IPCC, the international body of scientists tasked with monitoring climate change, released its fifth report, assessing that, between today and 2100, climate change could induce a rise of one metre of the sea level, and the radical necessity to start adaptation policies (IPCC, fifth report, 2014). Meanwhile, in Dubai, the immense beach, which has become the support for a gigantic tourist and real estate industry, welcomed the first open water swimming championships on 18 and 19 April 2014 (1st Dubai International Open Water Swimming Championships). While this sportive event was taking place, a gigantic iceberg, six times the size of Manhattan, was breaking off from an Antarctic glacier into the open ocean (Will […]

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Iran, China and the New Silk Road

Given the rising tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia since the beginning of the twenty-first century, reaching new heights in early 2016 with the beheading of a Shi’a Cleric by Saudi political authorities, which generated violences on Saudi diplomatic representations notably in Iran, in turn leading to the Saudi decision to break diplomatic relations with Iran (e.g. BBC News, 4 Jan 2016), understanding the new dynamics existing between Iran and China is even more important, as they may carry new weight, usually not considered as far as the Middle East is concerned. On 4 March 2013, an Iranian military fleet, which had left the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, docked at the Chinese port of Zhangjiagang, after a forty days journey (“Thread: Iran 24th fleet heading […]

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Tempobs – State(s) of Mutual Hostility: Saudi Arabia and Iran

Let’s get started on mapping the Iran-Saudi relationship. To recapitulate our method, we shall build upon the intuitive model introduced in the previous two posts (“Mindfully Mapping a Middle Eastern Morass – Saudi Arabia and Iran” & “Mapping an Interactive Network for Iran and Saudi Arabia Relations“) that conceptualizes the two countries’ behaviors as outcomes of the interplay of various influencing forces (e.g. political, economic, security-focused) at the domestic, bilateral, regional, and international levels. Drawing upon analytic commentary and event reporting in the news and academic media, we will identify the most significant forces relevant to our focal question—movement toward war or cooperation—and the direction in which these forces are driving behavior. The map will serve as a framework for […]

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Tempobs – Mapping an Interactive Network for Iran and Saudi Arabia Relations

This post is the fourth of our temporal observatory project (Tempobs) and related series focused on the future of the relationships between Saudi Arabia and Iran and aiming at improving the handling of time-related issues in strategic foresight and warning, risk, or more broadly anticipatory analysis. It answers and builds upon Dr Warren Fishbein’s (hereinafter Warren) previous article (Mindfully Mapping a Middle Eastern Morass – Saudi Arabia and Iran), as we designed the series as a dialogue where we progressively build the understanding related to the foresight issue by mapping the corresponding conceptual network, continuously scan the relevant literature and news, which will allow us, finally, to assess the future, to use Warren’s apt presentation of the work involved. Here we shall present the new tool (best on desktops […]

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At War against the Islamic State – From Syria to the Region

Between 29 September and 21 October 2015, the U.S. led coalition conducted 95 airstrikes on Syrian territory against the Islamic State (U.S. Central Command, Operation Inherent Resolve, briefing 22 Oct 2015). On 27 October, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that the U.S. would step up its campaign against the Islamic State with the “‘three R’s’ – Raqqa, Ramadi, and Raids”, involving notably ramping up U.S. and coalition air strikes as well as “direct action on the ground” – the “Raids”  (“Secretary of Defense Ash Carter opening statement on counter-ISIL Senate Armed Services Committee”, October 27, 2015), anticipating the announcement of  the deployment of a very small special force on the ground in Northern Syria (Reuters, 31 Oct 2015).  As a […]

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Multiplicating Crises: Strategic Surprises or Strategic Shocks?

Over the last two decades, strategic surprises have accumulated and accelerated rather than receded, and they continue to do so. Various actors, from governments and international organisations to the corporate world through citizens seem to be constantly and increasingly surprised by events they fail to anticipate, and thus for which they are unprepared. The Arab Spring (e.g. […]

Climate Nightmare in the Middle East

The summer of 2015 has been a terrible climate moment and an energy game changer in the Middle East. From the end of July to the middle of August, a terrible heat wave has swept the whole region, from Iran and the Persian Gulf to Egypt, causing hundreds of deaths and a heavy pressure on the health of people, the infrastructures and social cohesion (Kyle Jaeger, “”Heat Dome” in the Middle East is ravaging region’s residents”, ATTN, August 4th, 2015). At the end of this sequence, at the beginning of September, the Italian oil giant corporation ENI announced having found a mammoth off shore deposit of natural gas in the Egyptian economic exclusive zone (Jeff Reed, “ Elephant discovery made […]

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2015/16 Risk Analysis & Crisis Management – Syllabus Sciences Po – PSIA

Here is the full syllabus with its detailed bibliography for Academic Year 2015/2016, Fall Semester. For each week, in bold, right after the description of the week’s course are the required readings for that week. Follows then an explanation of the case study for the week with its readings (bold for required). The last section is about recommended but not required readings. Course requirements Class Presentation (33 percent): The class presentation will address, for the first part of the course, the case study of the week, and for the second, the group project. Class participation (33 percent): Students will be expected to actively participate in the seminar discussions and to prepare assignments. Each week, all students are required to prepare the […]

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China and the New Silk Road: From Oil Wells to the Moon… and Beyond

 On 25 May 2015, the Chinese political authorities agreed to finance the building of a pipeline between Pakistan and Iran, dubbed the “peace pipe line” (Valantin, “China, and the new silk road: the Pakistani strategy”, The Red Team Analysis Society, May 18, 2015). As we saw, this agreement is part of the Chinese strategy called “the New Silk Road”, which is defined by the concept of “One belt, One road”. The “road” is aimed at creating a worldwide “land and sea” system (“Belt and Road Nations account for 26 per cent of China’s trade”, The Beijing Review, April 29, 2015), in order to attract supplies and diverse resources much-needed by the rapidly growing Chinese economy and urban development. Each “segment” of […]

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Greece and the BRICS Bank, a Forgotten Scenario?

The decision by Prime Minister Tsipras (e.g. The Guardian) on 26 June 2015 to consult Greek citizens in a referendum on their wish to accept or not the never-ending austerity measures demanded as part of the current bailout was obviously an unexpected move for Greece’s creditors. From the Greek government’s point of view, it was, however, a logical one considering […]