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The main political challenges for the world’s most powerful leaders in 2013

The main political chalanges of 2013

The economic crisis in the U.S. and Europe, amplifying tensions in Asia, war in Syria or Iran nuclear file are some of the main challenges in 2013 for leaders like Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping and Europeans François Hollande and Angela Merkel, according to AFP.

Economic crisis in U.S. and Europe

“No foreign policy issue of 2013 will not count more than the ability of U.S. and Europe to solve economic crises”, says Jessica Mathews, president of the Carnegie Centre reflection in a collective work entitled “Ten Global: challenges and Opportunities for the president in 2013 “.

United States is facing a “fiscal summit” (fiscal cliff) worrying austerity cure that will affect the country if Congress does not reach an agreement on debt reduction and the budget until the end of 2012. On January 2,the U.S. will face  a combination of increased taxes and reductions in public expenditure, a shock that could throw the U.S. economy into recession again. “A political agreement to overcome strong peak tax would remove uncertainties affecting the country for a year and a half,” says Mathews.

Regarding Europe, “the challenge remains to combine economic and political discipline”, says American expert. Eurozone crisis’ has been a shift in 2012 from a deadly disease to a chronic disease that will take several years, “she notes, warning leaders of French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese that in 2013 it will be necessary” to maintain a treatment of shock,  to avoid setbacks – especially in France – and they must continue to work towards a resumption of economic growth”.

Some experts shows that U.S. position for a revival of economic growth is closer to that of France or Italy than Germany defending budgetary rigor.

Eurozone GDP expected to contract by 0.3% next year, but Justin Vais, director of research at the Brookings Institution and author of “Barack Obama et politique Etrangere” think “what was worse in euro crisis has passed. “”The Americans and the markets have concluded that the euro will not explode, otherwise they would have collapsed and there was a leak of capital”.

Perrin also expresses his concern about “slowing economic effects that world could have on China.” Under a pessimistic scenario, that the Eurozone will “drastically cut Chinese imports because of a major recession than expected” involving “political, social and geopolitical consequences in China.” The new leader Xi Jinping “may not allow a economic downturn and an accumulation of political and economic problems”, says Jessica Mathews.

China’s territorial disputes with its neighbors and the U.S. role

Many analysts fear an increase in tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, followed by an arms race or even armed conflict. Outbreaks these tensions are China Sea archipelagos which they dispute with its neighbors in Southeast Asia, Japan and South Korea. The United States has a military alliance with Japan, but refuses to get involved.

“China’s neighbors consider the United States as a country that can rebalance China’s political and military power, otherwise it will totally dominate the region,”  analyzes former Secretary of Defense Jimmy Carte.


Iranian nuclear issue remains “the hottest record” in 2013, with “a very high probability of a first-order regional conflagration” expected Vaïsse. The greatest powers of the world and Israel suspect Tehran that wants to acquire nuclear weapons under cover of its civilian nuclear program, which is denied by the Islamic regime.

Vaïsse believes that compared to an Iran that continues to enrich uranium,  ”the last ten years of logic sanctions coupled to negotiations is over.”  Brown hopes, on the other hand,  that the international community can “make an offer to the Iranians in exchange for a stop or a pause the enrichment (…), without excluding the possibility of bombing the nuclear facilities”.


Some experts foresee priming an “international consensus” – especially after a Russian flexible position – allowing the 2013 to be a “beginning of a long and difficult political transition”, says Mathews. Recalling the chemical weapons threat, Vaisala considered that  ”possible civil war to end, but there is, however, a need for Western intervention in order to ensure order and stability.”

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