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HomeZachary Paikin

Zachary Paikin, Research Fellow

Expertise: EU Foreign Policy, Canadian Foreign Policy, International Order, Great Power Relations

Dr. Zachary Paikin is a non-resident research fellow at IPD based in Geneva, Switzerland. He is also a researcher in EU foreign policy at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) in Brussels, as well as Senior Visiting Fellow at the Global Policy Institute in London, UK.

At IPD, Paikin oversaw the Institute’s 2021 federal election coverage and also serves as director of its China Strategy Project, which dwells on five key policy questions shaping the future of Canada-China relations. Paikin, who holds a PhD in international relations from the University of Kent, is also a member of the executive committee of the Younger Generation Leaders Network on Euro-Atlantic Security, as well as a collaborator with the Network for Strategic Analysis (funded by Canada’s Department of National Defence). He is a contributing author to Marginalisé : réflexions sur l’isolement du Canada dans les relations internationales (published by Presses de l’Université Laval in 2022) and co-editor of Rebooting Global International Society: Change, Contestation and Resilience (published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2022).

from this expert

Zachary Paikin in The National Observer: Does the World Really Need More Canada?

A new era calls for a new approach to how Canada interacts with the world. Foreign policy analysts have been pointing this out for some time, arguing that Ottawa must prepare for new threats and adapt to an uncertain world — one where functional multilateral institutions and reliable access to the American market can no longer be taken for granted.

Canada and Europe: Untangling Interests and Values?

On September 15, 2022, IPD convened the second roundtable of its “Canada’s Interests in a Shifting Order” project. The topic of this session focused on Canada’s long-term foreign policy imperatives in Europe. Participants included former and current Canadian ambassadors, in addition to roughly a dozen scholars and experts on Canadian foreign policy and Euro-Atlantic security.

Canada’s Dilemma: China and the ‘Rules-Based International Order’

In spite of recent tensions in the Canada-China relationship, Ottawa would be wise to adopt a posture rooted in caution and restraint, cooperating with Washington on the security implications of China’s rise where necessary while keeping the door open to engagement with Beijing where possible.

From the Atlantic to the Pacific: A New Strategic Posture for Canada

Reduced policy options now constrain Canada’s ability to pursue its national interests, even as the international landscape has shifted from a gradual transition of order to outright instability and insecurity in the wake of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. This calls for a more clearly delineated national strategic posture, commensurate with Canada’s limited resources.

Middle Powers in the Multipolar World

With the international system shifting away from Pax Americana and toward a more multipolar world, a class of state actors usually called ‘middle powers’ is the subject of increased attention in policy and academic debates.

Canada’s Foreign Policy: End of an Era?

A worldview centred on ideological considerations would worsen Canada’s dependence on the US following three decades of Ottawa tying itself – to varying degrees – to Washington’s project of building a liberal world order.

Beyond Meng and the Two Michaels: Arresting Canada’s International Decline

Canada’s interests are distinct from those of its southern neighbour. While Ottawa may have an interest in balancing against the security implications of China’s growing power, this does not equate to supporting a strategy of containment. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the international order has become global in scope, no longer divided into separate blocs as during the Cold War. If Canada is sincere in its oft-mentioned desire to strengthen a rules-based international order, then such an order cannot be premised on the exclusion of one of the world’s most powerful states.

European Security in a Shifting Global Order

European security issues are often framed in binary fashion, along the lines of the rivalry between Russia and the West. Recent developments reinforce this perception, such as the US-Russia presidential summit in Geneva held in June or the deal reached last month between Washington and Berlin on the Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Yet while the US-Russia great power dynamic is often determinative of events in Europe, it obscures a more complex tapestry of nested security orders that coexist on the continent.

June 7 Panel: Rethinking Canada’s Contribution to European Security

Canada’s involvement in European affairs has long occurred largely through the lens of NATO. To what extent can Canada’s role in NATO contribute to bringing an increased modicum of stability to a continent rife with potential flashpoints? Does Canada need to revisit its priorities and policies on questions relating to European security? And with the US-China rivalry taking centre stage and global power shifting east, should Atlanticism continue to occupy a privileged position in Canadian foreign policy?

Canada and the Great Power Triangle in the 2020s

If Canada wants to become a player that is taken seriously on the world stage, a more decisive approach is in order. This requires a clear and detailed vision of what norms, institutions, and mechanisms Ottawa should foster to build a more stable international order complementary to Canada’s core interests. Reacting to crises as they emerge with moral grandstanding and self-righteousness coupled with sanctions and repeating platitudes about the rules-based character of the existing order will not suffice.

Is Canada Still a Middle Power?

In part due to its underinvestment in Asia in a decade where the Sino-American rivalry will take centre stage, it may already be too late for Canada to play a substantive role in shaping global order over the medium term. But as a country with a growing population and a proud history of international engagement, Canada cannot avoid asking itself what kind of international actor it wants to be as this century unfolds.

A Multi-Partisan Consensus on Canada’s National Interests?

There is clearly a need for continuous and constructive analysis, debate and dialogue on the nature of Canada’s long-term national interests. This panel will discuss the state of play in Canada’s partisan foreign policy discourse, elaborate upon the necessity for Canada’s political parties to forge a consensus understanding of the national interest, and explore what some of the contours of such a national consensus might look like.

Panel 4: Pathways to Manage Non-Proliferation in the Middle East (4:30 PM - 5:45 PM ET)

The Western powers have failed to effectively manage the increasing threat of proliferation in the Middle East. While the international community is concerned with Iran’s nuclear program, Saudi Arabia has moved forward with developing its own nuclear program, and independent studies show that Israel has longed possessed dozens of nuclear warheads. The former is a member of the treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), while the latter has refused to sign the international agreement. 

On Middle East policy, the Biden campaign had staunchly criticized the Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal and it has begun re-engaging Iran on the nuclear dossier since assuming office in January 2021. However, serious obstacles remain for responsible actors in expanding non-proliferation efforts toward a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. 

This panel will discuss how Western powers and multilateral institutions, such as the IAEA, can play a more effective role in managing non-proliferation efforts in the Middle East.  

Panelists:

Peggy Mason: Canada’s former Ambassador to the UN for Disarmament

Mark Fitzpatrick: Associate Fellow & Former Executive Director, International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)

Ali Vaez: Iran Project Director, International Crisis Group

Negar Mortazavi: Journalist and Political Analyst, Host of Iran Podcast

David Albright: Founder and President of the Institute for Science and International Security

 

Closing (5:45 PM – 6:00 PM ET)

Panel 3: Trade and Business Diplomacy in the Middle East (3:00 PM - 4:15 PM ET)

What is the current economic landscape in the Middle East? While global foreign direct investment is expected to fall drastically in the post-COVID era, the World Bank reported a 5% contraction in the economic output of the Middle East and North African (MENA) countries in 2020 due to the pandemic. While oil prices are expected to rebound with normalization in demand, political instability, regional and geopolitical tensions, domestic corruption, and a volatile regulatory and legal environment all threaten economic recovery in the Middle East. What is the prospect for economic growth and development in the region post-pandemic, and how could MENA nations promote sustainable growth and regional trade moving forward?

At the same time, Middle Eastern diaspora communities have become financially successful and can help promote trade between North America and the region. In this respect, the diaspora can become vital intermediaries for advancing U.S. and Canada’s business interests abroad. Promoting business diplomacy can both benefit the MENA region and be an effective and positive way to advance engagement and achieve foreign policy goals of the North Atlantic.

This panel will investigate the trade and investment opportunities in the Middle East, discuss how facilitating economic engagement with the region can benefit Canadian and American national interests, and explore relevant policy prescriptions.

Panelists:

Hon. Sergio Marchi: Canada’s Former Minister of International Trade

Scott Jolliffe: Chairperson, Canada Arab Business Council

Esfandyar Batmanghelidj: Founder and Publisher of Bourse & Bazaar

Nizar Ghanem: Director of Research and Co-founder at Triangle

Nicki Siamaki: Researcher at Control Risks

Panel 2: Arms Race and Terrorism in the Middle East (12:00 PM - 1:15 PM ET)

The Middle East continues to grapple with violence and instability, particularly in Yemen, Syria and Iraq. Fueled by government incompetence and foreign interventions, terrorist insurgencies have imposed severe humanitarian and economic costs on the region. Meanwhile, regional actors have engaged in an unprecedented pursuit of arms accumulation. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have imported billions of both Western and Russian-made weapons and funded militant groups across the region, intending to contain their regional adversaries, particularly Iran. Tehran has also provided sophisticated weaponry to various militia groups across the region to strengthen its geopolitical position against Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Israel. 

On the other hand, with international terrorist networks and intense regional rivalry in the Middle East, it is impractical to discuss peace and security without addressing terrorism and the arms race in the region. This panel will primarily discuss the implications of the ongoing arms race in the region and the role of Western powers and multilateral organizations in facilitating trust-building security arrangements among regional stakeholders to limit the proliferation of arms across the Middle East.

 

Panelists:

Luciano Zaccara: Assistant Professor, Qatar University

Dania Thafer: Executive Director, Gulf International Forum

Kayhan Barzegar: Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the Science and Research Branch of Azad University

Barbara Slavin: Director of Iran Initiative, Atlantic Council

Sanam Shantyaei: Senior Journalist at France24 & host of Middle East Matters

Panel 1: Future of Diplomacy and Engagement in the Middle East (10:30 AM-11:45 AM ET)

The emerging regional order in West Asia will have wide-ranging implications for global security. The Biden administration has begun re-engaging Iran on the nuclear dossier, an initiative staunchly opposed by Israel, while also taking a harder line on Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen. Meanwhile, key regional actors, including Qatar, Iraq, and Oman, have engaged in backchannel efforts to bring Iran and Saudi Arabia to the negotiating table. From a broader geopolitical perspective, with the need to secure its energy imports, China is also expected to increase its footprint in the region and influence the mentioned challenges. 

In this evolving landscape, Western powers will be compelled to redefine their strategic priorities and adjust their policies with the new realities in the region. In this panel, we will discuss how the West, including the United States and its allies, can utilize multilateral diplomacy with its adversaries to prevent military escalation in the region. Most importantly, the panel will discuss if a multilateral security dialogue in the Persian Gulf region, proposed by some regional actors, can help reduce tensions among regional foes and produce sustainable peace and development for the region. 

Panelists:

Abdullah Baabood: Academic Researcher and Former Director of the Centre for Gulf Studies, Qatar University

Trita Parsi: Executive Vice-President, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft

Ebtesam Al-Ketbi: President, Emirates Policy Centre​

Jon Allen: Canada’s Former Ambassador to Israel

Elizabeth Hagedorn: Washington correspondent for Al-Monitor

Panel 4: Humanitarian Diplomacy: An Underused Foreign Policy Tool in the Middle East (4:30 PM - 5:30 PM ET)

Military interventions, political and economic instabilities, and civil unrest in the Middle East have led to a global refugee crisis with an increasing wave of refugees and asylum seekers to Europe and Canada. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has, in myriad ways, exacerbated and contributed to the ongoing security threats and destabilization of the region.

While these challenges pose serious risks to Canadian security, Ottawa will also have the opportunity to limit such risks and prevent a spillover effect vis-à-vis effective humanitarian initiatives in the region. In this panel, we will primarily investigate Canada’s Middle East Strategy’s degree of success in providing humanitarian aid to the region. Secondly, the panel will discuss what programs and initiatives Canada can introduce to further build on the renewed strategy. and more specifically, how Canada can utilize its policy instruments to more effectively deal with the increasing influx of refugees from the Middle East. 

 

Panelists:

Erica Di Ruggiero: Director of Centre for Global Health, University of Toronto

Reyhana Patel: Head of Communications & Government Relations, Islamic Relief Canada

Amir Barmaki: Former Head of UN OCHA in Iran

Catherine Gribbin: Senior Legal Advisor for International and Humanitarian Law, Canadian Red Cross

Panel 3: A Review of Canada’s Middle East Engagement and Defense Strategy (3:00 PM - 4:15 PM ET)

In 2016, Canada launched an ambitious five-year “Middle East Engagement Strategy” (2016-2021), committing to investing CA$3.5 billion over five years to help establish the necessary conditions for security and stability, alleviate human suffering and enable stabilization programs in the region. In the latest development, during the meeting of the Global Coalition against ISIS, Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau announced more than $43.6 million in Peace and Stabilization Operations Program funding for 11 projects in Syria and Iraq.

With Canada’s Middle East Engagement Strategy expiring this year, it is time to examine and evaluate this massive investment in the Middle East region in the past five years. More importantly, the panel will discuss a principled and strategic roadmap for the future of Canada’s short-term and long-term engagement in the Middle East.

Panelists:

Ferry de Kerckhove: Canada’s Former Ambassador to Egypt

Dennis Horak: Canada’s Former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Chris Kilford: Former Canadian Defence Attaché in Turkey, member of the national board of the Canadian International Council (CIC)

David Dewitt: University Professor Emeritus, York University

Panel 2: The Great Power Competition in the Middle East (12:00 PM - 1:15 PM ET)

While the United States continues to pull back from certain regional conflicts, reflected by the Biden administration’s decision to halt American backing for Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen and the expected withdrawal from Afghanistan, US troops continue to be stationed across the region. Meanwhile, Russia and China have significantly maintained and even expanded their regional activities. On one hand, the Kremlin has maintained its military presence in Syria, and on the other hand, China has signed an unprecedented 25-year strategic agreement with Iran.

As the global power structure continues to shift, it is essential to analyze the future of the US regional presence under the Biden administration, explore the emerging global rivalry with Russia and China, and at last, investigate the implications of such competition for peace and security in the Middle East.

Panelists:

Dmitri Trenin: Director of Carnegie Moscow Center

Joost R. Hiltermann: Director of MENA Programme, International Crisis Group

Roxane Farmanfarmaian: Affiliated Lecturer in International Relations of the Middle East and North Africa, University of Cambridge

Andrew A. Michta: Dean of the College of International and Security Studies at Marshall Center

Kelley Vlahos: Senior Advisor, Quincy Institute

Panel 1: A New Middle East Security Architecture in the Making (10:30 AM -11:45 AM ET)

The security architecture of the Middle East has undergone rapid transformations in an exceptionally short period. Notable developments include the United States gradual withdrawal from the region, rapprochement between Israel and some GCC states through the Abraham Accords and the rise of Chinese and Russian regional engagement.

With these new trends in the Middle East, it is timely to investigate the security implications of the Biden administration’s Middle East policy. In this respect, we will discuss the Biden team’s new approach vis-à-vis Iran, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. The panel will also discuss the role of other major powers, including China and Russia in shaping this new security environment in the region, and how the Biden administration will respond to these powers’ increasing regional presence.

 

Panelists:

Sanam Vakil: Deputy Director of MENA Programme at Chatham House

Denise Natali: Acting Director, Institute for National Strategic Studies & Director of the Center for Strategic Research, National Defense University

Hassan Ahmadian: Professor of the Middle East and North Africa Studies, University of Tehran

Abdulaziz Sagar: Chairman, Gulf Research Center

Andrew Parasiliti: President, Al-Monitor