Author: Thomas de
Affiliation: Senior Fellow with Carnegie Europe
Organization /Publisher: Foreign Affairs
Date/Place: May 30, 2022/ USA
Type of Literature: Article
Word Count: 2500
Keywords: Russia, Ukraine, Nagorno-Karabakh, EU, Peace Talk
The article discusses the impact of Russia’s war with Ukraine on the peace talks of the Nagorno- Karabakh conflict. The author argues that Russia’s centrality to any settlement of this conflict —in what it sees as its backyard—is in doubt. However, Armenia and Azerbaijan are making progress on two major issues in the peace talks under the auspices of the EU: 1) the reopening of transport routes across closed borders, and 2) the demarcation of the official border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. A core issue of the conflict since 1988 is the future status of the Armenian population of Karabakh. But intense wrangling continues even on the terms of the debate. Although the EU has supplanted Russia as a major mediator due to the setback in Ukraine, the diminished Russian role has caused instability. It also allows Armenia and Azerbaijan to work toward it if they wish to seize a definitive and historic peace settlement. Azerbaijan feels confident because European officials have substituted Russian energy supplies with Azerbaijani gas. The author concludes with the general perception from Azerbaijan’s side, that it is possible to solve the conflict by using those tactics again—and forcing the Armenian population to leave Karabakh. It might even succeed, but this would undoubtedly lead to a new cycle of violence and deepening resentment in Armenia.
Nevertheless, the mediating role of the EU gives some space to pursue a peace deal that could quickly unravel the unstable geopolitical environment.
By: Razia Wadood, CIGA Senior Research Associate
Author: Thomas de
Author: Jordyn Haime
Affiliation: Freelance journalist based in Taiwan, and Fulbright student fellow at National Chengchi University
College of Communication (Taipei)
Organization/Publisher: SupChina (New York-based, China-focused, for-profit startup news, information, and
business services platform)
Date/Place: May 20, 2022 / New York, USA
Type of Literature: Analysis
Word Count: 1500
Keywords: China, Israel, Diplomatic Relations, US, Middle East, Research and Development, US-China Trade War
The US retreat from the Middle East has sharpened focus on China’s role in the region where it enjoys cordial relations with almost all conflicting players. While Beijing enjoys over $13 billion annual trade with Tel Aviv with a robust cooperation in research and development, China’s relations with Gulf nations plus Iran has only cemented in recent years with a special $400 billion package signed with Tehran. The author argues that Israel’s growing yet warmer relations with China may soon face a dead wall as the US mounts a challenge to Beijing in the wider Asia-Pacific region to contain the world’s most populous country which also boasts the second largest economy and military. Beijing and Tel Aviv are holding a wide range of events throughout 2022 to mark 30 years of diplomatic relations. Although Israel was the first Middle Eastern nation (and seventh non-Communist nation) to recognize China, the two only officially opened embassies in each others’ capitals in 1992. The sense of American pressure came to fore when Israel turned down a proposal by a consortium of Israeli and Chinese companies to construct a light rail project. The companies later filed a lawsuit blaming “illegal pressure from the United States.” “The U.S. opens its eyes in the morning and sees China,” the author notes, referring to flourishing Chinese firms in Israel, which are engaged from construction to agriculture.
American pressure led Israel and China to abandon their defense relations in the first decade of the 21st century, which had risen to over $2 billion. However, reciprocal defense trips resumed in 2011. Additionally, economic cooperation has flourished between the two countries while “innovation centers and parks, educational institutions, think tanks, and infrastructure projects took off as dual investment soared.” The bilateral relations saw a boom under former Prime Minister Netanyahu, whose terms were marked by numerous bilateral visits by high-profile leaders and the 2014 establishment of the China-Israel Joint Committee on Innovation and Cooperation. Netanyahu even called Israel’s relationship with China “a match made in heaven.” As the US intensified its moves to exit Afghanistan in order to meet China in the Asia- Pacific, Washington increased pressure on Tel Aviv after former President Donald Trump picked a trade war with China. The Biden administration has not reversed such policies and has continued to pressure Israel to limit its Chinese investments. The view from Israel is that its new prime minister Naftali Bennet is placating the US through Israel’s investment oversight committee that keeps the US apprised on major deals with China. And the view from China is that “U.S. interference is one of the biggest challenges in China-Israel cooperation today.”
By: Riyaz ul Khaliq, CIGA Non-resident Research Associate
Author: Kali Robinson
(Bachelor’s degree in
Affiliation: Council on Foreign Relations; former intern at Al-Jazeera
Organization/Publisher: Council on Foreign Relations
Date/Place: May 19, 2022/USA
Type of Literature: Article
Word Count: 2743
Keywords: Türkiye, Anti-Turkism, Turkophobia, Independent Foreign Policy
Türkiye has always been an important country due to its geographical position that includes the Middle East, Asia, and Europe.
The author attempts to simplify an explanation of Türkiye’s comprehensive foreign policies and its assistance and activities in different regions. The author discusses the evolution of Türkiye’s foreign policy since the end of the Ottoman empire, which helps contextualize Türkiye’s foreign policy history, and why its position has always been important. NATO membership and its application to be an EU member have been main strengthening elements for Türkiye, especially since Türkiye is a Middle Eastern country. With Erdoğan’s continued leadership and the AK party’s popular support, policies have been more extensive and helpful to Türkiye’s neighbors; additionally, with the US and EU officially classifying the PKK as a terrorist organization, Kurdish terrorism has been dealt with more assertively. Türkiye’s policy of zero problems with all of its neighbors didn’t last long, as Türkiye’s own security concerns led to military interventions (for example in Syria), and it’s refugees policy has refused to ignore the violations of humanitarian rights (for example Greece’s illegal pushbacks of asylum seekers), which has brought Türkiye many problems. The author mentions Türkiye’s rejection of the military coup in Egypt, and how Türkiye instead supported the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood in 2011, which has created tension between Türkiye and Egypt’s dictator Sisi along with his supporters like Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Türkiye has assumed that as a European country it has the right to be in the EU, but historically this hasn’t happened yet for several reasons, one of which is the EU’s racism against Turks and Muslims. Instead of accepting Türkiye as both culturally Islamic and a Democratic Republic, a tension that Europe itself isn’t over yet, the EU diverts attention away by accusing Türkiye as backsliding on democracy. Through Türkiye’s independent international relations, the US has been one of the countries that Türkiye has an off/on relationship with, depending on Washington’s situation de jure and interests. Türkiye has accordingly been expanding its relations with more reliable and geographically-closer countries, like Russia and China, which in the long term will benefit Türkiye and its position as a ‘global powerful state’. The article ends without a conclusion, but speculates as to possible changes leading up to the elections of 2023, acknowledging that the long-term consequences of Erdogan’s policy making “are difficult to discern at this stage”.
By: Sohaila Oraby, CIGA Research Intern
Author: Bhubhindar Singh
Affiliation: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological
University (NTU), Singapore
Organization/Publisher: The Pacific Review
Date/Place: May 18, 2022/USA
Type of Literature: Research Paper
Number of Pages: 31
Keywords: Northeast Asia, Peace, United States, Interdependence, Institutions
This article discusses whether minimal peace has been achieved in Northeast Asia, specifically among China, Japan, and South Korea, following the Cold War and continuing into the post-2010 period. The author examines both realist and liberal factors that may have contributed to the achievement of minimal peace, defined as a transformation of international politics without the use of military force or war. From a realist perspective, it is suggested that American hegemony has played a role in maintaining minimal peace in the region. From a liberal perspective, it is suggested that economic interdependence and institutional building have helped preserve minimal peace. The article examines the development of these factors in Northeast Asia in the post-Cold War and post-2010 periods.
Minimal Peace after the Cold War:
The author contends that Northeast Asia has not fully escaped the Cold War-like order and
tension, even though the Cold War ended in Europe. This is due to issues such as the Korean Peninsula crisis, the rise of communist China, and the formation of US-led grouping networks.
Despite these challenges, the author believes that minimal peace has been maintained in
Northeast Asia thanks to American hegemony, economic interdependence, and institutionalism.
The author argues that the unipolar moment experienced by the US following the Cold War has been a major factor in the maintenance of minimal peace in the region. To promote American liberal internationalism, the US has established a hub-and-spoke alliance system and developed a regional security architecture in the region.
Additionally, the rise of economically powerful Asian states has been a significant development in Northeast Asia following the Cold War. Integration into the global market and export-oriented strategies have led to regional economic growth and interdependence. Economic interdependence has been a key factor in maintaining peace and stability in the region despite political and strategic tensions. The author cites two interrelated forces that have contributed to economic interdependence in Northeast Asia: China’s rapid economic growth and the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.
China’s integration into global economic globalization, exemplified by its entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001, is seen by the author as being interconnected with American hegemonic order and the promotion of liberal internationalist values. These factors have contributed to China’s rapid economic, political, and strategic rise.
The 1997 Asian Financial Crisis had a significant impact on the economies of Asian states and resulted in a shared crisis experience that increased intra-regional interactions and trade interdependence. In order to overcome the crisis, Asian countries recognized the need to strengthen trade dependence, increase intra-regional investments, and promote economic integration. These efforts at communication and multilateral relations have helped maintain
minimal peace in Northeast Asia.
The emergence of institutionalism in Northeast Asia has been a byproduct of economic
interdependence among states, but it has also been influenced by the 1997 Financial Crisis in three ways. First, multilateral participation was necessary to address the crisis. Second, China provided proactive support for regionalism during the crisis. Third, the crisis prompted countries to compromise with one another.
Since 2010, Northeast Asia has been a site of power transition driven by US-China global rivalry.
This shift has been marked by China’s rise as a regional superpower and the perceived
weakening of American hegemony. Some believe that China’s increasing influence may disrupt the existing minimal peace in Northeast Asia, but the author disagrees. Instead, the author believes that minimal peace will be sustained in the region for three reasons: (1) America’s enduring economic and strategic advantages over China, (2) US-led alliance groupings in the region, and (3) China’s lack of alternative regional order.
The author believes that in the post-2010 period, American hegemony has remained strong in Northeast Asia and has contributed to the maintenance of minimal peace in the region. This argument is supported by two factors: the economic and strategic advantages that the US has over China.
The author argues that in economic terms, the US is more globalized and efficient, making it an attractive partner for investment and trade for Northeast Asian states.
However, China’s geostrategic location gives it an advantage in terms of its influence on global trade arrangements, despite facing demographic issues that could potentially impact its economy. It is acknowledged that China is facing demographic challenges, but these are not seen as significantly hindering its position.
The author believes that the US military has a strategic advantage in terms of its capability,
capacity, and battle experience. However, China’s military has undergone rapid development in recent years, improving its capacity and technology, making it a formidable competitor to the US in terms of military power in the post-2010 period. Therefore, it is incorrect to assume that America still holds hegemonic influence in Northeast Asia.
In fact, the preference of middle powers in Northeast Asia and the wider region of Asia to hedge between the US and China suggests that the unipolarity of the post-Cold War no longer exists. In this context, minimal peace in the region is more dependent on economic interdependence in the post-2010 period.
There have been significant developments in the strengthening of intra-regional economic
cooperation in Northeast Asia in the post-2010 period. For example, in 2012, China, Japan, and South Korea launched a China-Japan-Korea free-trade agreement (CJKFTA). Additionally, the region has also expanded its economic cooperation to Southeast Asia through initiatives such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
However, the process of institutional building in Northeast Asia has faced challenges due to the great power rivalry between the US and China. This competition has the potential to polarize the region and hinder the institutional building process. For example, the US has launched the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) initiative with Japan, while China has its Belt and Road Project (BRI).
Essentially, the great power rivalry between China and the US has led other states in the region to take sides, potentially escalating conflict in the region.
Finally, this article provides valuable insight into the evolution of multilateral arrangements in Northeast Asia from the post-Cold War period until post-2010. The author has effectively analyzed the political transition in Northeast Asia following the Cold War, but has not adequately addressed the political order in the region post-2010, particularly in terms of American hegemony.
By: Salman Nugraha, CIGA Research Intern
Turkey’s Isolation from the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum: Ideational Mechanisms and Material Interests in Energy Politics
Authors: Pınar İpek & V. Tibet Gür
Affiliation: TOBB University of Economics and Technology (Ankara, Türkiye), and Rutgers University (New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA)
Organization /Publisher: The Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center/Turkish Studies (Routledge)
Date/Place: May 16, 2021/ the UK
Type of Literature: Journal Article
Number of Pages: 31
Keywords: Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum, Regionalization, Cooperation, Energy, Eastern
The article discusses the patterns of inter-state enmity and amity in the regionalization process during the formation of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF). The authors use a constructivist approach to analyze the changes in foreign policy objectives and identify the role of ideational mechanisms as a factor in constructing material interests in the lack of cooperation between Türkiye and other regional states, with particular reference to Türkiye’s isolation from the EMGF. The discoveries of offshore natural gas resources, first in Israel and later around the island of Cyprus, have escalated political disputes in the region and created new patterns of amity. In the case of hydrocarbon politics,
Türkiye, Republic of Cyprus, and Greece’s policy discourses differ in cooperative and conflictual contexts. The authors assume that the ideational mechanism plays an essential role in policy changes. Contextual ‘frames’ are identified and used to analyze and measure how policy elites think about an issue; i.e., how that issue is framed in their minds and reflected in their speeches can profoundly impact their attitudes and policy choices. A dataset of 286 press releases and statements by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Türkiye, Greece, and RoC, as well as related archived speeches of the respective presidencies between 2010-2020 were framed in five different contexts: cooperative economic, conflictual economic, cooperative security, conflictual security, and socio-cultural. The authors use Amitav Acharya’s theoretical framework to explain ideational mechanisms that
constructed material interests in the regionalization process during the formation of the EMGF. The authors’ three ways that ideas and material interests shape the politics of regional orders are 1) cognitive priors, 2) redefined causal ideas, and 3) exogenous ideas.
Cognitive priors are preexisting ideas of individuals and societies about the world and other
actors. Thus, cognitive priors reflect how actors interpret inter-subjective structures beyond
rational cost and benefit calculations. The authors’ findings demonstrate that the dominant
‘conflictual security’ framing in the RoC and Greece’s discourse persistently translated into policy guidance from 2010 through 2020. Türkiye’s official policy has regularly emphasized the country’s obligation to protect the rights of Turkish Cypriots in developing hydrocarbon resources in maritime jurisdiction areas of Cyprus Island. In short, the authors claim that cognitive priors and socio-cultural ideas embedded in conceptions of Turkish national identity have constructed material benefits at the expense of economic incentives for cooperation between Türkiye and RoC in the region. Causal ideas describe how initial cognitive priors embedded in policy discourse are transferred, or how new ideas are introduced in the social construction of material or normative instruments to achieve policy goals. During 2017-2020 the Turkish policy shifted conflictual security and conflictual economics. The shift in policy preferences can plausibly be explained by cognitive
priors and redefined causal ideas in Türkiye’s interactions with Israel, the RoC, and Greece. The causal ideas that diverted the attention of Turkish policy elites were the changing relations with Israel since 2008, the Arab Spring of 2011, Türkiye’s 2015 General elections, and the 2016 coup attempt. Exogenous ideas are the involvement of the EU and US as international actors in conflict resolution. Thus, the preexisting beliefs and locally produced ideas serve as the lenses through which international actors’ ideas and norms are interpreted, and briefly highlight how the stalemate in Türkiye’s relationship with the EU and the political tension between Türkiye and the US have shaped new ideas (i.e., blue homeland) in Ankara’s shift to an increasingly assertive foreign policy. Türkiye’s increasingly independent foreign policy, based on the regional projection of soft power
and its accession negotiations with the EU in 2005, have complemented its causal ideas
fostering multilateral cooperation and dialogue to protect Turkish Cypriots’ existing and inherent equal rights and interests. While Türkiye diplomatically opposed the RoC’s bilateral ExclusiveEconomic Zone agreements in 2003, 2007, and 2010, which delimited RoC’s maritimeeconomic zones with Lebanon, Egypt, and Israel, the cooperative framing in its discourse continued. Though in 2008, Turkish and Israeli officials decided to explore the feasibility of a so- called Med-Stream project aimed to connect their countries by five pipelines that would carry water, electricity, fiber optics, natural gas, and oil. However, Türkiye’s cooperative policy between 2003 and 2010 has been lost in the corresponding framing of ‘conflictual security’ in RoC’s discourse towards Türkiye. Further, Türkiye’s causal ideas were redefined when the RoC unilaterally began drilling in the disputed maritime jurisdiction areas in September 2011. Türkiye concluded with its own continental shelf delimitation agreement with the TRNC in the same week, and the TRNC issued a drilling license to the Turkish Petroleum Corporation in September 2011. In other words, since Türkiye’s sovereign rights and thus material interests were directly threatened by the foreign energy firms’ drilling activities on behalf of the RoC in 2011,
Türkiye has been forced to defend its rights and
has increasingly contested the RoC’s acts—and started redefining its causal idea.
The main reason for Türkiye’s policy shift is based on the strategic vision of the Turkish Navy, known as the “blue homeland.” Thus, a memorandum of understanding on the role of Libya in maritime borders delimitation in the Eastern Mediterranean resulted between Türkiye and the UN-recognized government of Libya in Tripoli in December 2019, which charted a mutually expansive maritime border between the two states. This diplomatic move aimed to prevent the completion of the proposed East-Med pipeline, transporting natural gas to European markets from Israel and Cyprus. Additionally, the Turkish Navy undertook unprecedentedly extensive navy exercises in the Black, Aegean, and Mediterranean Seas. The authors conclude that ideational mechanisms are operating to create specific conditions of cooperation or conflict, and further, that social constructs—the inclusion of ‘us’ and the exclusion of ‘them’—are influential in the patterns of amity or enmity among Türkiye, Greece, and the RoC. The authors note the role of a strong Navy, and claim that deeply rooted nationalist discourses explain Türkiye’s ambitious and independent regional foreign policy. Overall, the authors fail to recognize that
Türkiye’s ‘isolation’ from the EMGF is being presented as a ‘lack of cooperation’ despite the member states choosing to exclude Türkiye from the start.
By: Razia Wadood, CIGA Senior Research Associate
Author: The Editors
Affiliation: World Politics Review
Organization/Publisher: World Politics Review
Date/Place: May 16, 2022/USA
Type of Literature: Analysis
Word Count: 1970
Keywords: EU, Internal Vulnerability, External Challenges
In recent years, the liberal European order that evolved after WWII and spread following the Soviet Union’s fall has been under attack. Anti-EU sentiment has been interwoven into a broader populist platform of protectionism and opposition to immigration, making the European Union—the ultimate embodiment of the European project—a convenient punching bag for opportunistic politicians in many member nations. Although the populist wave that once threatened the union’s existence has abated, remnants of it still linger. The European debt crisis in the early 2010s, followed by the refugee crisis in 2015, spurred the development of far-right and populist parties across Europe and raised doubts about the union’s long-term viability for a period. The surprising result of the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom in 2016 heightened those fears. Hungary and Poland have authoritarian administrations, and a far-right contender made it to the second round of France’s presidential election this year. The coronavirus pandemic showed the EU’s challenges in providing effective collective solutions to a crisis in which each member state, at least initially, was looking out for itself. Despite such internal threats to the EU’s long-term viability, many European politicians strive to establish Europe as an autonomous pole in an increasingly multipolar globe. However, to reach that goal, the EU will need to overcome internal differences and external threats to formulate a cohesive collective foreign and security strategy backed by a credible military deterrent. There are numerous external threats, the most visible of these is Russian President Vladimir Putin. Even as Brussels strives to carve out an autonomous position amid the strategic conflict between Washington and Beijing, the EU must manage an increasingly complex relationship with China, combining areas of cooperation with elements of strategic rivalry and hostility. Meanwhile, Brussels must better manage its relations with EU periphery states like Türkiye and Belarus by fulfilling its obligations and upholding international laws even when inconvenient to the EU.
By: Jemal Muhamed, CIGA Research Associate
Author: Khalil Al-Anani
Affiliation: Senior Fellow in Arab Center Washington DC, and Associate Professor of Political Science at the Doha
Institute for Graduate Studies (Qatar)
Organisation/Publisher: Arab Center Washington DC
Date/Place: May 5, 2022 / Washington DC, USA
Type of Literature: Policy Analysis
Word Count: 2253
Keywords: Egypt, Gulf Countries, Economy, Politics
In this policy analysis, the author explains why some Gulf countries are keen on providing financial aid to Sisi’s regime, and to what extent the aid would rescue Egypt in the long term. Egypt’s economic stagnation can be examined through its three major distresses. Primarily, as being a non-oil country, Egypt was strongly hit by the prompt decline in the tourism sector caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Secondly, its ongoing borrowing from international lenders has only fed the domestic economic decline, which will eventually combine with the last major component—high inflation, which is exacerbated by the ongoing Ukrainian War. At the end of 2020/2021 fiscal year, Egypt’s total debt reached $392 billion; one-third of its budget for the same time period included debt servicing, $30.7 billion. The author identifies the country’s decaying financial distress through three key behaviours. First, Sisi’s ongoing mega-projects expenditure and weaponry purchases, which only make sense when considered as “wow factors” to bolster the political legitimacy of his government, something he has lacked since bringing himself to power through military coup in 2014. Second, Sisi’s unrestrained luxury borrowing and loan policy, which is called a “beggar state” by Egypt expert Robert Springborg, has only caused further reliance on foreign support. Third, the extension of the military-led economy, which is assessed by the IMF as: “the Egyptian Government plays a large role in the economy through the presence of state-owned enterprises across almost all sectors—including public business sector companies, military-owned enterprises, and economic authorities—with many registering weak financial performances while some are benefiting from an uneven playing field vis-à-vis their private sector counterparts.” In other words, foreign investors are not interested in the risk of entering the rigged Egyptian market. The Sisi regime’s solutions to financial and economic challenges have been to first ask the support from its regional allies. Knowing that Egypt is the largest and the most populous actor in the region has encouraged Sisi to play this as an upper-handed card, alongside the Gulf countries’ common fear of another Arab Spring.
Furthermore, the popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood—which started in Egypt as a local effort for government independent from Western colonisers, the decolonial theme now gaining momentum and legitimacy the world over—is a common anxiety for Sisi and his fellow Gulf dictators. Thus, the various Gulf investments have been pouring in since 2013, especially from Kuwait, UAE, and Saudi Arabia. However, this Gulf aid has been meant to stabilise the political sphere in the Gulf’s favour. When considering the potential uprising for political regime change and the influence of Türkiye and Iran as regional powers, the Gulf has not been hesitant to pour billions of dollars to guarantee Egypt’s stability through its economy. And after the recent visit by Qatar’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al Thani to his Egyptian counterpart and Sisi, both parties decided to tighten the economic cooperation, despite their fallout after the military coup. The author concludes that Gulf aid might temporarily ease Egypt’s current economic stagnation for the Gulf’s own political agenda, however, it is only a question of when the country will be hit by economic disaster.
By: Cemile Cengiz, CIGA Research Assistant
The GERD Dam in the Water Dispute between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. A Scenario Analysis in an Ecosystem Approach between Physical and Geopolitical Geography
Authors: Stefano De Falco and Giulia Fiorentino
Affiliations: University Federico II of Naples, Italy
Organization/Publisher: AIMS Geosciences
Date/Place: March 21, 2022/USA
Type of Literature: Research Article
Number of Pages: 21
Keywords: GERD, Ecosystem Model, Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, Water Conflict
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), located on the Ethiopian branch of the Nile
known as the Blue Nile, is being constructed to generate hydroelectric power. The Blue Nile
originates in the Ethiopian Plateau, near Lake Tana, and flows south through Ethiopia before turning northwest and passing through Sudan, where it is called the Bahr al Azraq. The river ultimately reaches Khartoum, where it merges with the White Nile to form the Nile.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the largest hydroelectric project in Africa, has been built at an unprecedented cost and investment in infrastructure. In addition to its massive scale, the project has the potential to significantly alter the hydro-political landscape of the Nile River and its geopolitical significance. In fact, when the dam is filled, it is expected to have a similar impact on Nile outflow as the Aswan Dam.
Ethiopia’s Nile River has the potential to generate over 15,000 MW of untapped electricity. By harnessing this resource, Ethiopia and other East African nations connected to Ethiopia’s power infrastructure, including Sudan, Kenya, and Djibouti, could improve access to electricity. Currently, only about 45%, 60%, 75%, and 60% of the populations of Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, and Djibouti have access to power, respectively.
In the context of energy development, where hydroelectricity is viewed as the primary sustainable option, tensions are rising among the governments through which the Nile River passes over the shared control of its waters. As hydroelectricity becomes increasingly important for sustainability, these governments are grappling with the challenges of sharing control of the Nile’s waters.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is located on the Blue Nile, approximately 45 kilometers from Sudan and 750 kilometers northwest of Addis Abeba in the Guba region.
Construction of the dam was announced in 2011.
The dam has become a symbol of Ethiopian nationalism and a true “renaissance” for the country.
However, it is important to also consider the concept of hydro-solidarity in this context. While the dam will play a crucial role in energy production, food production, economic development, and poverty reduction in Ethiopia, it is necessary to also consider the impacts it may have on other coastal countries that rely on the same cross-border river for their water resources, particularly Egypt and Sudan. It is important to balance the benefits of the dam for Ethiopia with the potential
impacts on these other countries.
Italian firm Salini Impregilo began construction on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in 2011, and when it is completed in 2022, it will be the largest dam in Africa. The dam will have the capacity to generate 6600 megawatts of energy. However, the reduced flow of the Nile caused by the dam has led to significant protests from the Egyptian government, which relies on the Nile for 95% of its water supply. The dam has also caused tensions between Ethiopia and Sudan, which initially supported Ethiopia’s arguments before aligning with Egypt’s position. Despite these tensions, the Ethiopian government maintains that the dam will bring significant benefits and development to the country, which has historically been impacted by poverty and internal political turmoil.
The case of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) raises several important questions beyond the dam itself, including water sharing in transboundary rivers, the processes by which collective claims are made, and global economic development. The GERD case highlights the complex issues surrounding these topics and their significance in the broader context of
international relations and resource management.
The issue of water sharing in transboundary rivers can be viewed from different perspectives, including geopolitical and cultural ones. Some see the Nile Basin as a site of historical and nationalistic rivalry between Egypt and Ethiopia, while others emphasize the uniting elements of history and culture, such as the relationship between the Coptic Church and the Orthodox
Ethiopian Church. These different perspectives highlight the complexity of the issue and the need to consider multiple viewpoints when addressing water sharing in transboundary rivers.
This paper adopts a framework that combines the aspects of physical geography with those of geopolitics to provide an analytical model for understanding the water dispute. This model is based on the management of shared river water resources and takes into account the dynamics of ecosystem competition. The goal of this approach is to provide a geographic perspective on the processes at play, highlighting the intersections between physical geography and geopolitics.
The ecosystem model is proposed as an alternative perspective for studying the stalemate over the Nile River’s water resources, and for evaluating the factors that are most likely to influence the conflict, both in terms of its development and its limitations.
Hostilities or water conflicts between Cairo, Khartoum, and Addis Abeba over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) reached a climax in July 2020 when Ethiopia announced its intention to fill the dam’s reservoir to at least 145 meters in order to generate the maximum amount of
megawatts needed for the nation’s economic development. The tensions surrounding the GERD and its potential impact on the water resources of these countries have been ongoing, but the
announcement marked an escalation of the conflict.
The authors of this paper reject the claim by the Ethiopian government that the GERD project will not pose any real threats to Egypt. Instead, they argue that Egypt is facing real threats of drying up or a significant reduction in Nile water due to the limited availability of natural resources. This is a particularly worrying concern given the country’s rapidly growing population, which has increased from 23 million in 1955 to over 99 million today, with a forecast of over 150 million by 2050. For Egyptians, the Nile is not simply a matter of luxury, but a matter of “life or non-life,” as its waters are essential to the survival of 98% of the population.
The importance of the Nile’s water resources for Egypt is at odds with Ethiopia’s equally pressing need for this resource for energy purposes. This creates a conflict of specific interests for the countries located on the banks of the Nile River. The tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia are not simply a dispute over water, but rather a complex mix of hydro-geopolitical disagreements with multiple motivations. These conflicts can be categorized into two forms of ecosystem
competition. The first is competition for exploitation, which is related to physical geography and the competition for natural resources, in this case, the water of the river. The second is
competition by interference, which involves political geography and the dispute between the competing countries on the banks of the Nile.
The competition model for the exploitation of a shared resource is based on the hypothesis that countries negatively impact each other by taking away a portion of the same limited resource (if the resource were abundant, the use by one government would not decrease the availability for the other countries bordering the Nile). This model suggests that competition for exploitation occurs when countries are vying for access to a shared resource that is in limited supply.
Competition by interference refers to the potential for the resource contention scenario to
escalate into an actual conflict between countries. This can take the form of active armed
confrontation or passive defense, in military terms, of the natural resource threatened by the actions of other countries. Competition by interference is a further escalation of the resource competition scenario and involves a direct confrontation between countries over the threatened resource.
According to the military ranking compiled by the Global Firepower index, Egypt has a stronger military than Ethiopia, ranking 9th in the world, immediately after the United Kingdom, while Ethiopia ranks 60th. Egypt is widely considered to have the most powerful army in Africa. In addition, Egypt has the support of several Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE),which have made significant financial investments in Ethiopia. Given these factors, it seems unlikely that Ethiopia would pursue a military solution to the conflict, and instead would likely try to reassure Egypt through diplomatic efforts that the dam will not pose any dangers to the Nile water
To achieve sustainable peace in the region, it is necessary to find a balance between the
physical geography of the countries contending for the same resource and the geopolitics of
negotiating a consensual distribution. To do so, the following steps should be considered. First, it is necessary to determine an acceptable level of water that can be drawn from Ethiopia through the GERD dam for energy purposes. Secondly, the negotiation should focus on the benefits that Ethiopia can gain from the mega scheme. Finally, diplomatic communication should be
conducted with a focus on the dynamics of water resources administration. Diplomatic solutions to the disputes between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan should be based on a fair and reasonable distribution of the Nile’s water resources through common institutional frameworks.
Therefore, it is important for countries with conflicting interests to reach consensus before the completion and operation of the Ethiopian project, if the project is meant to be sustainable. If hostilities and suspicion between these riparian states continue, large-scale war and open military confrontations may become inevitable, with multiple actors involved and significant regional and global consequences. To avoid this outcome, it is crucial for the countries to find a way to resolve their differences and reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
In general, the construction of large dams on transboundary river basins should only begin after the affected nations and regions understand the filling and long-term operation of the reservoir.
The ecosystem model advocates for negotiations between the parties involved as a solution to conflicts over the water resources of the Nile River. It is important for all stakeholders to fully understand the potential impacts of such projects and to work together to find a mutually
Water is both an element of osmosis and a contrast between physical and political geography.
The perspective proposed in this paper aims to present an analytical approach to managing
shared water resources. The evidence from the ecosystemic analytical model suggests that the diplomatic path, based on the search for a consensual balance in the management of tensions triggered by conflict, is the only viable approach for achieving the common good and the
national interests of each country involved. The GERD case serves as an example from which to learn for future dam development in politically sensitive river basins. The results show that the ecosystem constraints of the GERD could potentially affect the expected annual river flow to Sudan and Egypt and could have political consequences.
By: Jemal Muhamed, CIGA Senior Research Associate
Author: Hicham Bou Nassif
Affiliation: Claremont McKenna College (Claremont, California, USA)
Organization/Publisher: Journal of Democracy/ Johns Hopkins University Press
Date/Place: January 2022/ USA
Type of Literature: Journal Article
Number of Pages: 13
Keywords: Tunisia, Military, President, Democracy, and Dictatorship
Almost a decade after the Arab Spring, the Tunisian military is no longer supporting the democracy in the country.
With President Kais Saied having emerged as a dictator and shutting down all the institutions showing resentment,
the military is extending its support too. In July of 2021, the President revoked Article 80 from the Constitution,
transferred most of the powers to the President, dismissed the Prime Minister, and suspended the Parliament for thirty days. Saied’s closure of Parliament goes against the laws of the Tunisian Constitution. Analysts decipher Saied’s power grab as unconstitutional, undemocratic, and a self-coup. Even though Article 80 states that the President can take measures if necessitated by exceptional circumstances, consulting the prime minister is
required. This article analyzes the change in the military’s approach from being a democratic ally in 2011 to a collaborator in an apparent autocratic restoration a decade later. According to Article 18 of the Tunisian Constitution, the Tunisian army should maintain a neutral position and support the civil authorities following the laws. However, they have helped Saied deploy forces to close the Prime Ministers’ office and the Parliament. The author cites six reasons behind this shift. The first reason is General Rachid Ammar. In 2011, he refused to take the orders of Ben Ali to fire at the protestors, and soon after Ben Ali’s exile, he emerged with political clout in Tunisia. The second reason is that after Ben Ali, the Interior Ministry could never reoccupy the central position; instead, the power was distributed among all the institutions, including the military. Third, the post-2011 Tunisian state has also made amends for the 1991 Barrakat Essahel affair, restoring the military’s honor. Fourth, the military has increased its participation in democratic politics and civilian government. Fifth, the Tunisian military courts support the
President against his rivals. Sixth, the military officers have become more inclusive and nationally representative. In the end, the author claims that the alliance between the military and the President is not unbreakable, provided if there are protests like 2011 again and the West withdraws its support for Saied. Until then, the restoration of democracy is perceived as impossible in Tunisia.
By: Ruby Clayton, CIGA Research Associate
Author: Sue Mi Terry
Affiliation: The Wilson Center’s Hyundai Motor–Korea Foundation Center for Korean History and Public
Policy, and former CIA analyst
Organization/Publisher: Foreign Affairs
Date/Place: November 14, 2021/ USA
Type of Literature: Journal Article
Word Count: 2209
Keywords: South Korean Culture, Korean TV Series, Soft Power, Economic Development, Geopolitical
Influence, and South Korean Foreign Policy
The article discusses the broader prospects offered by soft power tools to South Korea in developing its economy, revitalizing its foreign policy, and strengthening its geopolitical influence in its region and the world. It focuses on Seoul’s cultural exports, especially the movies and TV series, animation, video games, and songs. The article is divided into two parts. The first tells the story of South Korea’s success in generating soft power from its local culture to reach the world, in addition to identifying the advantages offered by this power. The second part discusses the limits of Korean soft power and what it can and cannot achieve for the country’s foreign policy. The impressive success of “The Squid Game” (the most-watched series on Netflix) or “Parasite” (the first foreign-language film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2020) was the culmination of a long path and a well-thought-out plan of action adopted by the Korean governments since President “Kim Dae-Jung” took office in 1998. In that year, as South Korea was suffering from the effects of the Asian financial crisis, the president saw media and popular culture as a source of economic growth. The government expanded the budget for the cultural industry from 14 million USD in 1998 to 84 million USD in 2001 and aspired to increase the value of South Korea’s cultural industry to 290 billion USD within two years. Relying on public- private partnerships, the Ministry of Culture provided loans to entrepreneurs and trained aspiring artists. It has determined to develop the overseas markets for Korean TV series, popular songs, and alike. The first success of this project was the drama “Winter Sonata, 2002”. Its sales merchandise surpassed 3.5 million USD in Japan alone. This drama also caused an increase in the number of foreign tourists by approximately 75% between 2003 and 2004. Successive governments continued the same approach and gave priority to cultural exports as a means of enhancing the country’s national image and economic growth. The author provides examples of such programs and successes in each president’s period: President “Park Geun-Hye” used the global success of the “Gangnam Style” song (4 billion views on
YouTube) to justify government plans to inject millions of dollars into the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism; President “Moon Jae-in’s New Southern Policy” initiative focused on using soft power to boost South Korea’s international standing and transform Southeast Asia into one of the largest markets for “K-pop” culture—the Moon government subsequently appointed the boy band BTS as “special presidential envoys” to the United Nations (their speech at the General Assembly has been followed by more than a million people around the world).The economic incomes of these policies were enormous, as South Korea exported 12.3 billion USD in cultural products (up from only 189 million dollars in 1998). Moreover, Korean soft power has created a positive image of the country abroad: 77% of Americans currently have a positive view of South Korea, up from 46% in 2003 according to a new Gallup poll. The soft power strengthens the US-South Korean military alliance, despite what Trump has done to allies. Also, it has contributed to changing the nature of Korean society and motivated its youth to engage in new technical and creative jobs of entrepreneurship instead of looking to work in major companies only which reversed positively on the economy. Despite all these advantages, the author acknowledges the limits of Korean soft power influence in international politics, especially with regard to trying to change China’s behavior in the region (in line with the interests of Seoul’s Western allies). For example, in 2017 criticism of China exposed Seoul to economic losses of 7.5 billion USD, after China responded by canceling tourist visits to South Korea and reducing its purchases of cultural and non-cultural Korean goods. Seoul has since become cautious in dealing with Beijing. Nevertheless, the author argues that soft power tools helped South Korea penetrate North Korea, and it is able to challenge the tyranny of its political regime and lure the North Korean people with the fruits of democracy and Western capitalism, just as Western cultural exports succeeded in undermining the Soviet bloc. These tools would help promote the peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula by promoting the attractive South Korean model to northerners despite Pyongyang’s attempt to fend off the incoming tide of southern temptation. In conclusion, the author acknowledges the remarkable work Seoul has done in developing its soft power in ways that make other countries envy and emulate it, but today Seoul faces a much more difficult job: “figuring out how to harness that power to achieve the country’s foreign policy aims.”
By: Djallel Khechib, CIGA Senior Research Associate