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  • Affiliation : Director of OSCE Academy
  • Affiliation : Senior Associate, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program Joint Center, Johns Hopkins University
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iSi stands at 2772 points: Dunay, Karaveli comment events of the week

24.07.2012

p7338_1.jpg MOSCOW, JULY 24, 2012. PIR PRESS – “Austerity, is clearly, a very slow way of getting out of the crisis as it results in lower consumption and higher unemployment. Due to loss of consumption the tax revenue base shrinks. Due to higher unemployment social expenditures increase as most western European countries have large and (as of now) in affordably expensive social services. Consequently, the conclusion drawn by some, and not only by new French leadership, that austerity on its own does not result in economic recovery is correct”, - Head of the International Security Program of the Geneva Center for Security Policy, Pál Dunay.

The new weekly International Security Index iSi was published in Kommersant (in Russian). 

During the week of July 16-23, 2012, the International Security Index iSi increased to 2772 points. UN Security Council adopted a technical resolution on Syria, which extend the mandate of the mission of observers for 30 days; attempts to adopt a resolution calling for sanctions against the regime of Bashar al-Assad failed due to a veto by Russia and China. In Israel, the center-left party Kadima has left the ruling coalition because of disagreements on the law on military service, under which Israeli Arabs and ultra-Orthodox Jews will be subject to compulsory conscription. In Libya, the liberal "Alliance of national forces" was the official winner of the parliamentary elections, the political forces of the country began to form a government of national unity. In Thailand, in the south of the country extremists have committed an armed attack on the village of Narathiwat, there are victims. Major terrorist attacks were committed in Pakistan, Syria and Bulgaria. In Spain, anti-government protests against increasing taxes and reducing unemployment benefits escalated into clashes with police, 26 people were injured. Russia ratified the treaty on of accession to the WTO.

Comments on the week's events by members of the International Expert Group of the PIR Center

p7338_2.jpgPál Dunay, (Hungary), Head of the International Security Program of the Geneva Center for Security Policy - by e-mail from Budapest: The economic situation of the euro-area did not change fundamentally. The basic internal division between those EU member-states, which continue to present modest growth and do not show signs of crisis-like phenomena and those, which are in lasting trouble has remained. Furthermore, it has become clear that there is no consensus among the core states of the euro-zone (Germany and France) concerning the handling of the crisis. Among the problematic countries, is appearing increasing differentiation. It is apparent, that some have been gradually getting out of the danger zone (Ireland and Italy and to some extent also Portugal), i.e. austerity measures have been working; whereas Spain is in a different phase of the crisis. Hence, Spain is still in an earlier phase and some of its macro-economic indicators will have to worsen before they get better.

Greece (addressed later) is in a category of its own. Austerity, is clearly, a very slow way of getting out of the crisis as it results in lower consumption and higher unemployment. Due to loss of consumption the tax revenue base shrinks. Due to higher unemployment social expenditures increase as most western European countries have large and (as of now) in affordably expensive social services. Consequently, the conclusion drawn by some, and not only the new French leadership, that austerity on its own does not result in economic recovery is correct. It is, however a correctly perceived concern of Germany that boosting growth by pumping public money in the economy increases deficit and hence may not be the best idea. Two philosophies collided here.

Certainly, Germany has to make concessions in order to gain and retain the support of the French leadership. However, the problem is presented by the different political cycles of Paris and Berlin. France is at the moment past both the presidential and the parliamentary elections and hence has somewhat more freedom of action than the German leadership that faces parliamentary elections in 2013 and that is also challenged constitutionally concerning its policy. Those challenges address the legality of the reallocation of major resources to those euro-zone countries, which are hit by the crisis. Consequently, Germany in the next year and a half will have less freedom to maintain its current course as complemented by French claims.

p7338_3.jpgHalil Karaveli (Turkey-Sweden) – Senior Fellow with the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program Joint Center – by e-mail from Stockholm: People who come to power speaking about freedom, as it has been the case in Egypt as well and in the other so-called Arab Spring countries, want freedom for their own group. And what you have in the Middle East is that you have very weak sense of citizenship, of the national unity. Actually these are not the nation states; these are the states that consist of tribes and different ethnic and sectarian groups. And that means that you just try be as strong as you can against the other groups in society. It have been the case in Turkey, where Sunni conservatives, fought for freedom against the military and authoritarian state. But once they ascended to power and once they entrenched themselves in power they have shown no inclination whatsoever to share power with the other groups in society, be it with the Kurds, be it with the Alawite minority and so on.

What you do have is countries divided into sectarian, ethnic, religious groups and that means that, as we can see in Syria today, you have a Sunni uprising against the Alawite regime. When the Sunnis come to power they will of course massacre or drive away the Alawites and Ismailis, and the Christians and so on. I fear very much for the future of the Christians and Alawites in Syria. The situation in Syria is portrayed, especially in the West, as a popular uprising against the brutal dictator. Of course Bashar al-Assad is a brutal dictator, but it is not only an uprising but it is also a civil war between the Sunnis and the Alawites, and the other groups that support the regime. So, I see that the Western policy makers and observers tend to overlook this fact. When they are talking about the regime change in Syria, and arming the Sunni rebels in Syria, it seems that they are actually throwing more gasoline on the fire and inflaming sectarian tensions there which will have severe consequences in the near future.

The iSi index is calculated weekly and monthly. A weekly iSi value is published on Tuesdays in Kommersant Daily (www.kommersant.ru) accompanied by brief comments explaining Index fluctuations. Results of the monthly iSi calculations are published on the first working day of each month at the PIR Center website at www.pircenter.org

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