Monthly political analysis on nations in
economic or political transition


November 2014

IRAN: The Proxy War with Saudi Arabia Intensifies; Hungary: A Failing Democracy; UKRAINE: A Wretched Year in Ukraine.

Iran: The Proxy War with Saudi Arabia Intensifies

Whilst the western world follows the depredations of the Islamic State as its forces rage around Syria and Iraq right up to the Turkish border, what we are really witnessing is the heightened proxy war being fought out between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the two comparative regional giants still standing.

Any serious consideration of the events we describe below as indicating friendship for the west and support for the Alliance’s objectives, amongst any of these regional states is futile, as illustrated by Turkey’s showing its colours through its clearly negative stance towards any hostile moves at all by the ‘coalition’ against the IS. They are in fact, as we had suggested in previous issues, backing the other side!

The Saudis have smartly announced that they too will not be engaging in any land or air fighting against IS, as they ‘have no interests at stake’. Wildly untrue though that may be, it is significant that having failed over more than three years via their sponsored rebel militias, to bring down Assad’s government in Syria, and feeling challenged by the elected Shi’ite dominated government in Iraq, they appear to prefer to annoy the US, rather than to antagonise IS. Like the Saudi's themselves, salafist, this self-declared ‘state’ occupying and growing throughout a large area of Mesopotamia and the Levant, putting the hated governments of Shi’ite Iraq and Alawite Syria on the back foot, can work very well for them, particularly if it can in due course overwhelm or neutralise the Iraqi and Syrian armies. [...]

Hungary: A Failing Democracy

The European Union is unquestionably proud of the democratic record of its 28 strong national members where all but 5 are in the forefront of world democracy, as measured by Human Rights, Political Rights, Freedom of Speech and the Absence of Public Corruption. These are the criteria followed by our sister publication World Audit.

There are only 37 nations out of the 150 with populations greater than a million that meet these qualifications, as of the current 2014 World Democracy report. Hungary ranked 33rd last January. The next ‘State of World Democracy’ report will be published 1st January 2015.

The particular problem in commenting on Hungary is that whilst there is unquestionably a continuing decline in democratic standards, it is not one tyrannically imposed from above, but rather reflects a large element of public illiberal attitudes which threatens that there may be worse to come. [...]

Ukraine: A Wretched Year in Ukraine

The idea that during this precarious peace Russia may not be demilitarizing in the region, has gained traction due to seemingly aggressive moves around other states. Over the past few weeks Sweden has been searching for a supposed Russian submarine which appeared in its waters (that used to be an episodic event during the Cold War); and Estonia has complained that a Russian fighter jet recently entered its airspace not for long, but long enough…

Ukraine where in our last report (October) we looked at how this wretched year unfolded, has now held an election, of sorts, with the Donbas region largely opting out. We review the implications and prospects. [...]


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