Iran in 2013: Three possible crises
December 17th, 2012
07:41 PM ET

Iran in 2013: Three possible crises

This is the latest in a series of entries looking at what we can expect in 2013. Each weekday, a guest analyst will look at the key challenges facing a selected country – and what next year might hold in store.

By Mark N. Katz, Special to CNN

Mark Katz is a professor of government and politics at George Mason University, and is the author of ‘Leaving without Losing: The War on Terror after Iraq and Afghanistan.’

In addition to its ongoing economic problems, which are unlikely to be overcome next year, there are three potential crises that could affect Iran in 2013. One is the possibility of public unrest concerning the succession to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who cannot run for a third consecutive term as president. Another possibility is the incapacitation or death of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei setting off a power struggle to succeed him which also results in public unrest. A third possibility is that the Iranian nuclear crisis boils over, and either the U.S. or Israel (or both) launch an armed attack to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

The next Iranian presidential election is scheduled to take place on June 14, 2013. The leadership of the Islamic Republic very much wants to avoid the outburst of opposition that occurred in response to the widely-disbelieved announcement that Ahmadinejad had won re-election by a wide margin in June 2009. New regulations that further tighten clerical control over who is allowed to run for president are likely to be put into effect which even some regime insiders – most notably President Ahmadinejad himself – have voiced objection to. If indeed the only candidates allowed to run for president are just those few approved by the regime, the Iranian public may come to regard the entire presidential election process as illegitimate. With the downfall of long-ruling leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen (and possibly Syria by mid-2013) providing role models for what popular uprisings can accomplish, the Iranian public may launch a more concerted effort in response to what it regards as an illegitimate presidential election outcome in 2013 than it did in 2009.

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Topics: 2013: What's Next? • Iran • Middle East
December 13th, 2012
04:04 AM ET

Pakistan in 2013: Yes, it could get worse

This is the third in a series of entries looking at what we can expect in 2013. Each weekday, a guest analyst will look at the key challenges facing a selected country – and what next year might hold in store.

By Michael Kugelman, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Michael Kugelman is the senior program associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. You can follow him @michaelkugelman. The views expressed are his own.

Four years ago, the U.S. Congress announced the findings of a bipartisan investigation into weapons of mass destruction.

Chillingly, the study predicted a nuclear or biological attack by the end of 2013 – with a high likelihood that it would originate in Pakistan.

Could this prediction come true next year? The risk of Pakistani nukes falling into the wrong hands is certainly high. Last August, militants attacked an air force base near Islamabad thought to store nuclear weapons. Several weeks later, security officials acknowledged a “serious” threat from the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) to assault one of Pakistan’s largest nuclear installations. All this in a country where, according to an unsettling Atlantic report, assets are frequently exposed: “[N]uclear bombs capable of destroying entire cities are transported in delivery vans [by the military] on congested and dangerous roads.”

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December 12th, 2012
05:58 PM ET

India in 2013: Another year of paralysis?

This is the third in a series of entries looking at what we can expect in 2013. Each weekday, a guest analyst will look at the key challenges facing a selected country – and what next year might hold in store.

By Madhav Nalapat, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Madhav Nalapat holds the UNESCO Peace Chair at Manipal University in India. The views expressed are the author's own.

Although independent India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was a democrat, neither he nor apparently his colleagues in the Congress Party thought it necessary to do away with the colonial laws that had underpinned British rule. Across a wide range of functions that in normal democracies would be the prerogative of the citizen alone, the British-era laws retained by Nehru and his successors have ensured that the people of India have to routinely petition some government office or other in order to get official permission before embarking on any of a range of tasks.

In the past, businesspeople “paid and played.” Now, as some wags put it, they “pay and pray,” because decisions for which cash have been exchanged are seldom coming. The country has seen new projects slow to a crawl, even in sectors vital to growth such as energy and infrastructure. Should this paralysis in decision-taking continue into 2013, the continued deterioration of India’s economic performance could start to look a lot like the chaos of 1992.

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Topics: 2013: What's Next? • India
Israel in 2013: Six things to watch
December 11th, 2012
12:02 PM ET

Israel in 2013: Six things to watch

This is the second in a series of entries looking at what we can expect in 2013. Each weekday, a guest analyst will look at the key challenges facing a selected country – and what next year might hold in store.

By Steve Linde, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Steve Linde is editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post. The views expressed are his own.

Life in the Holy Land is often intense and seldom boring, and the country has captured the attention of the international news media for almost 65 years. This is not likely to change in 2013. Although Israel has a population of only eight million, almost every day generates unexpected and exciting developments. While journalists are not prophets, I would suggest that there are six key challenges facing the Jewish state in the year ahead:

National elections – Israel is all set for what promises to be an interesting national election on January 22, with 34 lists registered to run. A strong right-wing list comprising Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling Likud party and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is our Home) is facing off against a splintered Center and Left that includes, inter alia, Shelly Yacimovich's Labor, the Tzipi Livni Party, Yair Lapid¹s Yesh Atid (There is a Future) and Shaul Mofaz¹s Kadima. Current polls show the now merged Likud-Beiteinu  list comfortably ahead, with about a third of the seats in the 120-seat Knesset, Israel's parliament. But with growing discontent over the current government¹s foreign and socioeconomic policies, Likud- Beiteinu may in fact win fewer seats than its two component parties have in the current Knesset (42).

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Topics: 2013: What's Next? • Barack Obama • Iran • Israel • Middle East • Terrorism
Brazil in 2013: Can Rousseff rise to the occassion?
December 10th, 2012
04:05 PM ET

Brazil in 2013: Can Rousseff rise to the occassion?

This is the first in a series of entries looking at what we can expect in 2013. Each weekday, a guest analyst will look at the key challenges facing a selected country – and what next year might hold in store.

By Paulo Sotero, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Paulo Sotero is director of the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington D.C. The views expressed are his own.

In her first two years as Brazil’s first female president, Dilma Rousseff did the improbable. A neophyte in elective politics seen by many as a mere extension of her revered predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Rousseff is today more popular at home than her creator. Remarkably, she gained the trust of the Brazilian people while her economic team and policies lost investors’ confidence – GDP growth moved in the opposite direction of her approval rating, shrinking from 7.5 percent in 2010 to 2.7 percent in 2011, and somewhere around 1 percent this year.

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Topics: 2013: What's Next? • Brazil
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