Vier Soldaten gehen durch das Camp Castor in Gao, Mali.
Erwarteter Abzug: Spätestens 2024 soll die deutsche Beteiligung an der Mission MINUSMA enden. | Foto: ©Bundeswehr/Christian Thiel via flickr

Keine Freude über den Abzug

Bundesverteidigungsminister Boris Pistorius nahm nach den Gesprächen mit der malischen Übergangsregierung im April keine Freude über einen Rückzug deutscher Bundeswehrsoldat:innen wahr. Knapp einen Monat später legt die Bundesregierung erwartungsgemäß dem Bundestag den Antrag zur letztmaligen Fortsetzung der Beteiligung deutscher Streitkräfte an der Multidimensionalen Integrierten Stabilisierungsmission der Vereinten Nationen in Mali (MINUSMA) vor. Nach zehn Jahren wird sich die Bundeswehr geordnet aus MINUSMA zurückziehen. Noch weniger Freude über den deutschen Rückzug als in Bamako dürfte bei den Vereinten Nationen (VN) in New York herrschen. Im mehr als angespannten Verhältnis mit der malischen Übergangsregierung müssen im Ringen um die Inhalte einer Weitermandatierung rückläufige deutsche Kapazitäten einkalkuliert werden. Für das fortwährende deutsche Engagement in Mali sollte die Bundesregierung eine länderspezifische Gesamtstrategie ressortgemeinsam definieren und umsetzen.


Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud after signing a joint statement on the restoration of diplomatic relations, with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang in the background.
China’s Saudi-Iran mediation represents a successful case of its forays into the Middle East. | Photo: Mehr News Agency via wikimedia commons | CC BY 4.0

The Power of Not Using Power: China and the Saudi-Iranian Rapprochement

The intensifying systemic rivalry between great powers also involves contesting the most effective approaches to conflict resolution and mediation. The most recent Beijing-mediated détente between Saudi Arabia and Iran has ignited heated debates regarding its longevity and China’s rising profile in the region. While the Middle East may still be a region largely inhospitable to outsider mediation, there are three good reasons why Beijing’s latest foray into Middle East peace diplomacy may be effective. The article argues that China’s hitherto successful mediation between Saudi and Iran lies in its power of not using power—the ability to leverage its growing geoeconomic influence while refraining from the use of coercive power in regional affairs. This approach aims at providing an alternative approach to external powers’ engagement in Middle East peace affairs.


Paulskirche in Frankfurt
Die Paulskirche ist einer der zentralen Erinnerungsorte der deutschen Demokratiegeschichte. | Foto: nchenga via flickr | CC BY-NC 2.0

Die eine Authentizität gibt es nicht: die Frankfurter Paulskirche als Erinnerungsort der Demokratie

Wer heute vor der Frankfurter Paulskirche steht, wird vielleicht eher enttäuscht auf die vor dem Hintergrund der Skyline unscheinbare Stadtkirche blicken, in der während der Revolution von 1848/49 die deutsche Nationalversammlung tagte. Für einen der zentralen Erinnerungsorte der deutschen Demokratiegeschichte, die „Wiege der deutschen Demokratie“, wirkt sie ziemlich unspektakulär. Aber was ist es, was ihr fehlt? Seit dem Wiederaufbau der zerstörten Paulskirche 1948 diskutiert man in Frankfurt und Deutschland über die authentische Form ihrer Gestaltung. Ist es das, was ihr fehlt, die Authentizität, die besondere Zauberkraft, durch die Geschichte erlebbar wird? Und was bedeutet Authentizität für die Paulskirche eigentlich?


Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Damascus
Steps towards normalization: In 2018, the UAE reopened its embassy in Damascus. | Photo: Fars Media Corporation via wikimedia commons | CC BY 4.0

Arab States’ Incentives Towards (not) Normalizing Relations with Syria – Islamists and Drug Trafficking?

Syria has returned to the stage of regional diplomacy with the readmission of Damascus to the Arab League after a 12-year suspension. The country’s comeback is the outcome of regional diplomatic efforts that started in 2018 but reached their climax after the devastating earthquake in Syria and Turkey in February. Normalization with Syria comes without any accountability for the crimes the Syrian regime has committed against its own people nor a change in behavior that would signal the end of the suffering of Syrians. We argue that despite international and regional factors setting the stage, domestic factors are Arab states’ main incentives for normalization.


Two penguins at the shore with a ship in the background and a boat that has people with orange jackets on it.
Danco Island, Antarctica: The small island is a landing spot for tourists and home to a Gentoo penguin colony. | Photo: Derek Oyen via Unsplash

Is Antarctica Still Exceptional? The Case for “Co-opetition” at the South Pole

Antarctic diplomacy has famously shielded the continent of peace, science, and environmental protection from outside conflict and war. This “exceptionalism” is now being tested by Russia’s war against Ukraine and the belief that international strategic competition between great powers is spilling over into the Antarctic. In order to keep the Antarctic exceptional, however, it would be wise to refocus on what has made Antarctic diplomacy so successful in the first place: cooperation in order to compete, or “co-opetition.”


White wall with crack
Decoupling is a process that is fraught with tensions. | Photo: AYOUB AALLAGUI, Unsplash

Decoupling and the “New Cold War”: Cautionary Lessons from the Past

An emerging “new Cold War” appears to pit democracies, led by the US, against autocracies, led by Russia and China. But the analogy between today’s regime competition and that of the “old” Cold War is deceptive. China and Russia today are much more closely intertwined with Western democracies than the Soviet Union ever was. These linkages will complicate the conflict considerably. There is already growing pressure to engage in “decoupling”, that is, to break these interdependencies. Research on past instances of decoupling shows that such processes often exacerbate conflict. This research offers four lessons about the general dynamics of decoupling – and little cause for optimism about today’s disengagement processes.


Putin and Xi at their meeting in Moscow
The Sino-Russian partnership differs significantly from the Western community of nations. | Photo: via wikimedia commons | CC BY 4.0

Xi and Putin’s Strategic Tango: Unpacking the Complexities of Russia-China Relations After the 2023 Moscow Summit

The March 2023 state visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping to Russia has attracted significant attention, and has been described as symbolic of growing cooperation between authoritarian states opposed to the current world order. However, as we argue in a recently-published article based on a review of Russian and Chinese expert statements, this partnership should best be understood as a limited, strategically motivated cooperation against shared threat perceptions. Meanwhile, there is much less agreement on normative questions, let alone a shared vision of an alternative world order.


Wall with bricks, half is painted white, the other half is painted blue, but on both sides a few bricks have the opposite color.
States with different political regime types increasingly view each other as competitors. | Photo: Katerina Pavlyuchkova, Unsplash (edited)

Regime Competition in a Fragmented World: Consequences for Peace and Conflict

More than thirty years after the proclaimed “end of history” and the third wave of demo­cratization, the world is once again marked by increased diversity in political regimes. The (re-)emergence of powerful autho­ritarian states like China and Russia and the trend of back­sliding in seemingly consolidated demo­cracies have created a more pluralistic and multipolar world, in which states with different political regime types increasingly view each other as competitors, seeking to prove the superiority of their own political and economic systems and to win the alle­giance of third countries.


Bombed homes in Borodyanka, Ukraine, and a damaged statue.
Russia exploited the “nuclear shadow” when it started its war against Ukraine. | Photo: Mikael Colville-Andersen via flickr | CC BY-NC 2.0

War against Ukraine: How to Make Deterrence and Arms Control Work

One year after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, experts from the United States, Ukraine, Germany, Turkey, and France discussed the consequences of the war for the nuclear world order in a workshop organized by PRIF’s French partner organization “Fondation pour la recherche stratégique” (FRS) and the “Odesa Center for Nonproliferation” (OdCNP). The focus was on the importance and limits of nuclear deterrence policy and arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation.


Press briefing by UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine
Press briefing by UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine | Photo: UNIS Vienna via flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

From Facts to Norm Violations and Accountability? The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine

The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine—established by the United Nations Human Rights Council in March 2022—published its report on 15 March 2023, detailing numerous violations of international human rights, criminal and humanitarian law, primarily carried out by Russian forces. Such commissions of inquiry are essential when other enforcement mechanisms are blocked, and can provide avenues for accountability in national, regional, and international courts. The full-scale attention of international institutions on Ukraine is a critical moment to strengthen the work of international fact-finding missions for future and existing armed conflicts.