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Leadership in the Global South: President Lula’s and Gaza

In February 2024, President Lula attended the 37th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, promoting Brazil’s ties with the Global South. His comments labelling the Gaza conflict as genocide at the hands of Israel sparked international controversy, straining relations with Israel and affecting his domestic approval. Despite criticism, Lula remains steadfast, aligning Brazil with Global South priorities.

Venezuelan Elections Amidst U.S. Sanctions: Balancing Democracy and Diplomacy

As tensions rise between the United States and Venezuela ahead of their upcoming presidential elections, the delicate balance of democracy and diplomacy comes into focus. The US had eased sanctions to encourage dialogue, but recent events have sparked renewed friction, leading to the reimposition of sanctions. Venezuela is grappling with economic challenges and diplomatic strains, especially with recent bans on opposition candidates. As both countries navigate these issues, the future of US-Venezuela relations is uncertain, with potential impacts beyond their borders.

BRP Sierra Madre: The Waves of Uncertainty Surrounding the Sentry of the Second Thomas Shoal

The BRP Sierra Madre acts as the Philippines’ stronghold over the Second Thomas Shoal against Chinese advances in the South China Sea. In the past year, tensions in the region have escalated, with both nations’ coast guard services engaged in heated confrontations. Due to the shoal’s strategic location, both countries employed risky strategies to pursue their goals of controlling this location. Hence, turning the shoal and the BRP Sierra Madre into the South China Sea’s new geopolitical flashpoint towards the boundaries of a possible conflict.

The Tian-Shan Gambit: Europe’s Ambitions in Central Asia 

Central Asia is a vast and resource-rich region situated between three major centers of influence. Formerly part of both the Russian Empire and then the Soviet Union, its nations have only recently gained independence following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. They continue to be influenced by Moscow, although they have made some significant strides towards autonomy in their own right. The Russian military’s actions in Ukraine have continuously eroded the credibility of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led military alliance. This, coupled with a significant loss of soft power in the countries of the post- Soviet space, which traditionally formed part of its sphere of influence, could create an opening for other influential actors to emerge as real alternative partners. The European Union wishes to consider an even more proactive role in Central Asia, given the young nations’ of Central Asia newfound pragmatism in foreign policy and its potential to enhance EU interests.

Is Ecuador Experiencing the Birth of a New ‘Plan Colombia’ Amidst Heightened Security Concerns?

In January, Ecuador experienced a surge of violence, prompting swift responses from both local and international actors. The United States pledged substantial aid to bolster Ecuador’s security infrastructure, marking a significant collaboration. However, this cooperation differs from the historic Plan Colombia due to distinct challenges Ecuador faces, including its role as a transit corridor for drug trafficking.