Letter From the Editors: Jan. 18 - 24, 2016

Author: Xenia Grushetsky

Drawing Lines in the Sand: Why Geopolitics is Hardly a Walk on the Beach

This week, almost all of the players on the geopolitical stage seem to be drawing lines in the sand. No longer straddling the fence, many are either abandoning old loyalties or demonstrating determination to stay the course.

In the former Eastern Bloc, the EU's newest members seem to be abandoning Western liberal democracies they embraced with the fall of Communism in favor of what political analyst Fareed Zakaria has called "illiberal democracy." From Hungary's Viktor Orban government to Poland's conservative Law and Justice party, which just swept the parliamentary elections, the east is turning antiliberal. Why are these countries suddenly turning their backs on Europe after such apparently successful integration? According to Mikhail Karpov, "The newly emerged petit bourgeoisie class and farmers integrated into Europe with palpable economic, as well as cultural and psychological costs. But they kept quiet for the time being."

So has Eastern Europe drawn a line in the sand and, in the words of new Polish PM Beata Szydlo, said no to Western European "cyclists and vegetarians"?

In a reverse trend, Iran is instead erasing a line in the sand and moving to integrate into the global economy. With the end of sanctions, Tehran is poised to become a regional power and major player on the global energy market, writes Vladimir Korovkin. Calling Iran "the world's largest forgotten economy," Korovkin predicts that it could become a real "industrial tiger" and even "transform the economic outlook for the entire region." This is due to Iran's well-balanced economy, strong consumer and industrial markets, and highly skilled labor force.

Will Moscow, which stood by Iran during its isolation, reap any benefits from Tehran's foray into the global markets? Only if it plays its cards right. "In order to develop close economic ties, initiative must ...

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