China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a vision to parlay large-scale economic dynamism into a foreign policy projecting Chinese influence overseas in the name of development. If the its promise of mutual prosperity and development is to be more than the sum of its parts, its stabilising effect on the Middle East would be a major litmus test. The momentum may come from Beijing, but smaller countries like Israel can and must shape it.
Iran’s Shanghai dream
Tehran has enjoyed observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) since 2005, but has repeatedly pressed its case for full membership. The organisation's two centres of power disagree over Iran's position: Moscow supports Iranian accession but Beijing seemingly opposes such a move. Iran shares with the SCO the ambition to challenge US dominance and the Western-led order. For Iran, the SCO is also the closest it has to an international defence bulwark, since it is not a member of any other regional security organisation.
Iran seen from Beijing
China views Iran as a central element in its much-touted Silk Road Economic Belt, which aims to extend Beijing's influence overland through Central Asia to the Persian Gulf and Europe. This article for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Open Briefing analyst Kevjn Lim discusses Iran's importance to China, including the geostrategic Iran plays as China's most convenient non-Russian access route to open waters and the only east-west/north-south intersection for Central Asian trade.
Transnational organised crime monthly briefing, June 2015: Australian Crime Commission highlights links between terrorism and organised crime
Monthly intelligence briefing on transnational organised crime from Open Briefing. This month: the Australian Crime Commission has highlighted the links between terrorism and organised crime; the World Health Organisation has called for an end to the global illicit tobacco trade; the Criminal Justice Inspectorate of Northern Ireland has reported on how organised crime groups are becoming increasingly involved with ‘waste crime’; and more.
Transnational organised crime monthly briefing, February 2015: Spotlight on Asia and Pacific
Monthly intelligence briefing on transnational organised crime from Dr Mary Young. This month's spotlight on Asia and the Pacific includes details of efforts to tackle transnational organised crime gangs, which are to blame for the increase in environmental crime in Asia.
Stalled hope? The resource conflict risk to Myanmar’s political and economic transition
In 2011, Myanmar's quasi-civilian government initiated one of the most ambitious economic and political transformation campaigns of the last 50 years. The reformist agenda has the potential to steer Myanmar away from insecurity and economic stagnation. But it will be difficult to leverage significant endowments of natural resources to achieve sustainable security, lasting political settlements with ethnic states and economic growth that supports human development. As such, this briefing paper assesses the trajectory and significance of resource conflict risks and threat multipliers in Myanmar.
India: Jostling for geopolitical control in Afghanistan
In this article co-published with openDemocracy, Open Briefing contributing analyst Shazad Ali argues that the international community has somewhat ignored India's role in Afghanistan's future, which, in fact, will be pivotal as US forces drawdown in the country by the end of the year.
Corruption within the pharmaceutical supply chain to the developing world
Pharmaceutical and health sector corruption is financially costly and poses a significant threat to public safety. Recognising the importance of these issues, in May 2013 Savannah Wisdom tasked Open Briefing to undertake a related scoping exercise.