Al-Monitor – Anton Mardasov / Are Russia, Iran engaged in tug of war over Syria?
- The controversy between Moscow and Tehran has always been a part of the Syrian conflict. However, the debates between the two have started to become more political in nature, influencing the future of Syria’s armed forces and other military entities.
- Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said he would have rather avoided using the term “allies” to describe Russia’s relations with Iran and Syria. He also said that Russia realizes the importance of maintaining Israel’s security.
- Three days earlier, the Israeli air force launched a heavy attack on Iranian facilities in Syria. Reacting to this, Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, the chair of Iran’s parliamentary foreign policy commission, said that the Israeli army may have a system of coordination with Russian air defense structures.
- Moscow is gravely concerned about the reforms of Syrian pro-regime troops and other military entities, as it wants to curb corruption and constrain pro-Iranian actors.
- It appears that Moscow’s attempts to devise a post-conflict scenario for Syria have made it realize the importance of supporting Syrian institutions and various social groups — at least as a way to reach agreements on the reconstruction process with regional actors.
Euractiv – Christian Beck & Sven Giegold / The European Parliament must guarantee full transparency of lobbying
- Today, a European Parliament vote on a mandatory legislative footprint will take place. This will be the first time that Parliament votes on a binding rule for lobby transparency. All MEPs who co-author new EU laws would be obliged to list the lobbyists they meet while writing and negotiating a new law.
- To make lobbying transparent, Commission and Parliament already set up a Transparency Register to invite lobbyists to publish their names, finances and aims. Nearly 12,000 organisations already registered voluntarily. Yet Transparency International has shown those data are too often inaccurate.
- The Parliament’s decision on 31 January will directly affect if Commission and the Council – which is notoriously non-transparent – will move or stall on lobby transparency.
- So far, only Commissioners, their cabinets and directors-general meet exclusively with registered lobbyists and list their meetings online. Most Commission staff drafting new laws is not yet covered. For lobby transparency to be effective, this needs to change.
The Economist / A new initiative aims to modernise global trading rules
- On January 25th, representatives of 76 WTO members gathered in Davos announced plans to negotiate new rules covering “trade-related aspects of electronic commerce.”
- Though the 76 members account for 90% of global trade, they are a minority of WTO members. Many developing countries claim that tighter e-commerce rules would tie national regulators’ hands and that the issue is a distraction from others they care about more.
- The plan is to sidestep such complaints, which have blocked agreement at the WTO for years. Instead of getting all members to sign up to a multilateral deal, a like-minded group will set rules among themselves.
- The biggest fight will be with China. Its government views data as an issue of sovereignty, and trade in data as a national-security matter. But, in the end, China joined the talks, presumably deciding that it would be better to have influence over any new rules rather than see standards that could become global set without them.
Foreign Policy – Adam Tooze / Everything you know about global order is wrong
- The theory that international order emerges from a collective design effort by world leaders coming together is fundamentally mistaken. What history actually suggests is that order tends to emerge not from cooperation and deliberation but from a cruder calculus of power and material constraints.
- Bretton Woods may have been a conference of experts and officials, but it was first and foremost a gathering of a wartime alliance. Within a year of the founding of its key institutions, almost the entire global agenda of Bretton Woods was put on ice. If our own world has a historic birthplace, it was not in 1945 but in the early 1970s with the advent of fiat money and floating exchange rates.
- The postwar moment that the Davos crowd truly hankers after is not that of 1945 but the aftermath of the Cold War, the moment of Western triumph. It was finally in 1995 that the Bretton Woods vision of a comprehensive world trade organization was realized.
- Since 2008, that new order has come under threat from its own internal dysfunction, oppositional domestic politics, and a geopolitical power shift. What will resolve the current tension is a power grab by a new stakeholder determined to have its way. If the West isn’t ready for that, it should get comfortable with the new disorder.
The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.