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Robert Cutler

Dr. Robert Cutler is a Senior Research Fellow at Carleton University and a Research Consultant. Dr. Cutler is an expert in energy and geopolitics. He sits on the Board of Directors of the Montreal Press Club.

Challenges Facing the South Caucasus

The South Caucasus, that region south of Russia and north of Iran and Turkey, between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea, has suffered from American disengagement after U.S. influence in the 1990s led to its opening as a new "energy province" on the post-Soviet world map.   The fallout effects of this myopia extend beyond the Syria-Iraq nexus into the whole neighbourhood of the Greater Middle East. Whereas the anchor of the region for 40 years was an alliance between the U.S. and Egypt, today it is a Russian-Iranian entente that governs the unfolding of events.   In this complex and evolving situation, the autonomy of the strategically key South Caucasus oil and gas-producer Azerbaijan comes under increasing pressure. Deprived of the American support that it enjoyed for 20 years after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, it has been seeking to adapt to the demands of its neighbours while maintaining some margin of diplomatic manoeuvre.   Thus a few months ago there was held a trilateral meeting, in Baku, of the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia where co-operation in the energy and transportation sectors was the focus of discussion. The three countries established a permanent institutional framework for coordinating ministerial-level co-operation. —————— More from the PAH: What is The Federal Idea? by Mathieu Paul Dumont History’s Slow Dance of the Seven Veils by Neil Cameron Why universities should cherish the civil liberties by Mark Mercer —————— Iran hopes for the establishment of railroad links to its Bandar Abbas port all the way from St. Petersburg, depending in part on the project of a railway corridor with Azerbaijan (from Rasht to Astara). Just this month, Azerbaijan and Russia agreed on a technical study of prospects for implementation a rail cargo transit interchange on the Azerbaijan-Iran border. Electricity swaps are also foreseen, as Azerbaijan now overproduces electrical power and has export capacity for this.   Russia has in recent years significantly increased arms sales… Read More

Angela Merkel: Gravedigger of the EU?

Is it possible that Angela Merkel, the gifted German chancellor whose management of European affairs has been so praised over the last decade, will figure in the history books as the person whose decisions led to the EU’s downfall? It is not out of the question, as she will be the one to bear final responsibility for the migrant crisis. Napoleon was one of the greatest generals in history. He won 53 of 60 battles that he fought, drew four and lost only three. But the third of these was Waterloo and it is today the first thing, sometimes the only thing, that anyone learns about him. Merkel’s decision last summer to declare open borders to migrants may prove to be her Waterloo: a political downfall that will be the first event associated by posterity to her name, notwithstanding her years of good government management and many political victories. Why would this be so? Because it can well lead to the political and economic fragmentation of that crown jewel of German Europeanism and post-World War Two economic prosperity, the European Union itself. The migrant crisis increased the likelihood of a British vote for leaving the EU (“Brexit”), and now that the U.K. has decided to leave, the game is not over. Beyond the U.K., there are strong populist movements for referenda on EU membership in both Denmark and The Netherlands. The positive Brexit vote will undoubtedly give them further impetus. In France, a recent public opinion poll put pro-withdrawal sentiment higher than in the U.K., and this is already a plank in the electoral platform of the Front National, with the next presidential elections to be held less than a year from now. In Italy, the Northern League is discussing secession because of the budgetary disadvantages of EU membership, caused not least… Read More