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Important News, Belangrijke nieuws, Nouvelles importantes, Wichtige News, Fontos hírek, Importanti novitŕ, Pomembne novice, Importante Notícias, Viktiga nyheter



Ing. Salih CAVKIC
Editor
by ORBUS.ONE
info@orbus.one
www.orbus.one




Prof. dr. Murray Hunter
University Malaysia Perlis




Eva MAURINA
20 Years to Trade Economic Independence for Political Sovereignty - Eva MAURINA



IN MEMORIAM

Aleš Debeljak +
In Defense of Cross-Fertilization: Europe and Its Identity Contradictions - Aleš Debeljak

ALEŠ DEBELJAK - ABECEDA DJETINJSTVA

ALEŠ DEBEJAK - INTERVJU; PROSVJEDI, POEZIJA, DRŽAVA




Rattana Lao
Rattana Lao holds a doctorate in Comparative and International Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and is currently teaching in Bangkok.




Bakhtyar Aljaf
Director of Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia




Rakesh Krishnan Simha
Géométrie variable of a love triangle – India, Russia and the US





Amna Whiston
Amna Whiston is a London-based writer specialising in moral philosophy. As a PhD candidate at Reading University, UK, her main research interests are in ethics, rationality, and moral psychology.





Eirini Patsea 
Eirini Patsea is a Guest Editor in Modern Diplomacy, and specialist in Cultural Diplomacy and Faith-based Mediation
.




Belmir Selimovic
Can we trust the government to do the right thing, are they really care about essential things such as environmental conditions and education in our life?




IN MEMORIAM


Dubravko Lovrenović + Univ. prof. Dubravko Lovrenović is one of the leading European Medievalist specialized in the Balkans, pre-modern and modern political history.




Manal Saadi
Postgraduate researcher in International Relations and Diplomacy at the Geneva-based UMEF University




doc.dr.Jasna Cosabic
professor of IT law and EU law at Banja Luka College,
Bosnia and Herzegovina




Aleksandra Krstic
Studied in Belgrade (Political Science) and in Moscow (Plekhanov’s IBS). Currently, a post-doctoral researcher at the Kent University in Brussels (Intl. Relations). Specialist for the MENA-Balkans frozen and controlled conflicts.

Contact: alex-alex@gmail.com






Dr. Swaleha Sindhi is Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Administration, the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India. Decorated educational practitioner Dr. Sindhi is a frequent columnist on related topics, too. She is the Vice President of Indian Ocean Comparative Education Society (IOCES). Contact: swalehasindhi@gmail.com




Barçın Yinanç
 It is an Ankara-based journalist and notable author. She is engaged with the leading Turkish dailies and weeklies for nearly three decades as a columnist, intervieweer and editor. Her words are prolifically published and quoted in Turkish, French an English.




 By İLNUR ÇEVIK
Modified from the original: They killed 1 Saddam and created 1,000 others (Daily Sabah)




Aine O’Mahony
Aine O'Mahony has a bachelor in Law and Political Science at the Catholic Institute of Paris and is currently a master's student of Leiden University in the International Studies programme.Contact: aine-claire.nini@hotmail.fr




Elodie Pichon

  Elodie Pichon has a  bachelor in Law and Political Science at the Catholic Institute of Paris and is currently doing a MA in Geopolitics, territory and Security at King's College London. Contact : elodie.pichon@gmail.com




Qi Lin

Qi Lin, a MA candidate of the George Washington University, Elliott School of International Affairs. Her research focus is on cross-Pacific security and Asian studies, particularly on the Sino-U.S. relations and on the foreign policy and politics of these two.




ALESSANDRO CIPRI
Born in Chile and raised in Rome, Alessandro Cipri has just finished his postgraduate studies at the department of War Studies of King's College London, graduating with distinction from the Master's Degree in "Intelligence and International Security". Having served in the Italian Army's "Alpini" mountain troops, he has a keen interest in national security, military strategy, insurgency theory, and terrorism studies. His Master's dissertation was on the impact of drug trafficking on the evolution of the Colombian FARC.




Ms. Lingbo ZHAO
is a candidate of the Hong Kong Baptist University, Department of Government and International Studies. Her research interest includes Sino-world, Asia and cross-Pacific.

Contact: harryzhaolin@gmail.com

 


Hannes Grassegger
Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus are investigative journalists attached to the Swiss-based Das Magazin specialized journal.

 

Mikael Krogerus

Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus are investigative journalists attached to the Swiss-based Das Magazin specialized journal.

 


Michal Kosinski

Scientific analysis

 


Elodie Pichon,
Ms. Elodie Pichon, Research Fellow of the IFIMES Institute, DeSSA Department. This native Parisian is a Master in Geopolitics, Territory and Security from the King’s College, London, UK.





Djoeke Altena



Muhamed Sacirbey
Muhamed Sacirbey

Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey currently lectures on Digital-Diplomacy. "Mo" has benefited from a diverse career in investment banking & diplomacy, but his passion has been the new avenues of communication. He was Bosnia & Herzegovina's first Ambassador to the United Nations, Agent to the International Court of Justice, Foreign Minister & Signatory of the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court. He also played American football opting for a scholarship to Tulane University in New Orleans after being admitted to Harvard, oh well!!




Amanda Janoo

Amanda Janoo is an Alternative Economic Policy Adviser to governments and development organizations. Graduate from Cambridge University with an MPhil in Development Studies, Amanda worked at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) supporting government's with evidence-based industrial policy design for inclusive and sustainable growth. Her research focus is on the relationship between international trade and employment generation. She has worked throughout Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa promoting greater economic self-determination and empowerment.




Michael dr. Logies,

Germany




Endy Bayuni

The writer, editor-in-chief of The Jakarta Post, took part in the Bali Civil Society and Media Forum, organized by the Institute for Peace and Democracy and the Press Council, on Dec.5-6.




Élie Bellevrat
Élie Bellevrat is the WEO Energy Analysts




 Kira West
 Kira West is the WEO Energy Analysts




Victor Davis Hanson NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.




Alexander Savelyev - Chief Research Fellow at the Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations (Moscow, Russia). In 1989-1991 was a member of Soviet negotiating team at START-1 negotiations (Defense and Space Talks).




Ingrid Stephanie Noriega
Ingrid Stephanie Noriega is junior specialist in International Relations, Latina of an immense passion for human rights, democratic accountability, and conflict resolution studies as it relates to international development for the Latin America and Middle East – regions of her professional focus.




Syeda Dhanak Fatima Hashmi
Author is a Foreign Policy Analyst and Research Head at a think tank based in Islamabad. She has done Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) in Governance and Public Policy. Her areas of research include both regional as well as global issues of contemporary international relations.




Pia Victoria Poppenreiter

Davos: The Other Side of the Mirror
An “inventor, startup guru, conceptualist and CEO” hangs out at the world’s four-day power lunch




Jomo Kwame Sundaram,
a former economics professor, was United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, and received the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought.




Dr. Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe. Earlier version published by the GeterstoneInstitute under the title France Slowly Sinking into Chaos




Mr. Masato Abe, specialist at the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific




Corneliu PIVARIU is highly decorated two star general of the Romanina army (ret.).
For the past two decades, he successfully led one of the most infuential magazines on geopolitics and internatinal relations in Eastern Europe – bilingual journal ‚Geostrategic Pulse’.


An early version of this text appeared as the lead editorial in the The Geostrategic Pulse (No. 268/20.11.2018), a special issue dedicated to the Centennial anniversary.





Malik Ayub Sumbal is an award winning journalist, co-founder of the CCSIS (Caucasus Center for Strategic and International Studies), and a presenter for the Beijing-based CGTN (former CCTV)




Tanvi Chauhan is a global studies scholar from the US-based Troy University. She is specialist on the MENA and Eurasia politico-military and security theaters.




Giorgio Cafiero 140




 
Ambassador (ret.) Dr. Haim Koren is a former Israeli Ambassador to Egypt and South Sudan and Member of IFIMES Advisory Board





Elizabeth Deheza is a founder and CEO of the London-based, independent strategic intelligence entity DEHEZA, focused on Latin America and Caribbean.








INDEX 2017

INDEX 2016



 


2020

 

The OIC World for a Safer Planet
OIC and its Rapid Reaction Capacitation
in times of new asymmetric challenges

All throughout its history, our world witnessed either abrupt, radical changes or gradual shifts and adjustments of the World Oder. Such recalibrations usually followed major crises, be it devastating wars or geopolitical transformations such as the end of Cold War.

Past the agricultural and industrial revolutions, numerous advances in knowledge, science and technology, as well as groundbreaking inventions opened up new avenues for progress and prosperity of mankind. Subsequent scientific and technological revolution of our age, coupled with the relaxation of ideological confrontation and longing for cooperation and integration, led to the emergence of a politically and economically globalized World.

However, our current World Order of fully interconnected planet has revealed some weaknesses and vulnerabilities, particularly in time of crises.

In the Era of Globalization, the worldwide interconnected financial and economic system can cause a financial crisis spill-over effect very rapidly – as we witnessed it decade ago. Similarly, a health crisis in one country can, owing to the same business interconnection and swift human mobility, spread at light speed to other countries and continents, engulfing the whole World.
 
Currently, COVID-19 (C-19) pandemic is wreaking havoc across the Globe, causing most countries to be primarily focused on solving the crisis and limiting its damage.
 
 
L’avenir est comme le reste:  Global opportunity – global exposure
 
 Though some breakthroughs have been achieved such as finding the genetic sequence of the virus and developing diagnostic tests, no confirmed vaccines or efficient treatments have been found yet. Moreover, much more clues remain to be gathered and understood, including the virus transmission and mutation dynamics, its potential re-emergence in waves, where did it come from and whether environmental or seasonal factors impact its spread and severity.
 
In search for rapid and efficient solutions, countries (particularly developed ones) have been working restlessly but individually almost to no avail. This could be explained by an impulse of an ‘old spirit’; of geopolitical competition in the past – times when the narrow national interest was the main and only driver of any international conduct.
 
The same lack of coordination among individual countries in dealing with this unprecedented crisis that encompasses almost every dimension including health, economic and financial aspects of life, has also been noticed at the level of political international organizations.
 
In fact, while the international economic and financial institutions seem to be well globalized and functioning efficiently, the political structure of the World looks like the one still based on the Nation-States competition and rivalry. The existing political international FORAs, made up of these States, seem to be too bureaucratic to react swiftly and efficiently in times of imminent crises.
 
The post-C-19 World Order will most likely remain the same, Westphalian and globalized Order. However, in light of the aforementioned shortfalls and given the future daunting challenges, this World Order needs to be updated and enriched.
 
International violence has overtime dropped significantly. Full-scale conventional wars do not exist anymore whereas small-scale ones have come to an all-time low.
 
It is true that there are still nuclear weapons in the World enough to wipe out the entire Humankind multiple times over. However, the Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) doctrine coupled with Wisdom, have been and will most likely remain as a powerful deterrent to any nuclear war attempts.
 
Not so long ago, our World was on a brink of nuclear self-annihilation, but found enough wisdom to avoid it.
 
The same wisdom can be used in the face of the current and future threats of annihilation by terrifying viruses similar to or more dangerous than C-19, which is heralding a new age of threats to Humankind's existence, disruptions and partial or total lockdowns never seen or tested before.
 
To meet such challenges, the World should be more united and cooperative, set aside
geostrategic competition, give way to humane-oriented and servant leadership, avoid narrow national interest-oriented approach, put more focus on science and new technologies – of course all under democratic control. This includes decisive investments in innovative technologies, particularly frontier technologies.
 
To meet those, specific global and regional instruments, and mechanisms to endorse and facilitate exchange for better joint political action and all-out scientific cooperation in time of crises, should be also created.
 
 
OIC and the need for its RRC mechanism
 
 The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – the second largest intergovernmental multilateral mechanism to the one of OUN, places high value on Science and Technology in its daily works, and keenly promotes cooperation among its member States in this area. It was almost 40 years ago that the OIC set up its Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH of 1981).
 
This functional entity of the OIC has been headquartered in Islamabad, with the President of Pakistan as its Chair. It has as objective to strengthen cooperation among OIC member states and enhance their capabilities in emerging technologies.
 
COMSTECH collaborates with numerous Specialised international bodies (of technical mandates), including World Health Organization (WHO), International Foundation for Science in Stockholm and the World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), to name but few.
 
In 2006, a new Institution was created within COMSTECH Secretariat in Islamabad, namely the Science, Technology and Innovation Centre (STI). This Center serves as a Think-tank to provide all-advisory services to OIC member states on science-technology-innovation, to conduct its own indigenous researches and ensure capacity building in this area for OIC members.
 
In 2017, a further step was taken towards fostering cooperation in Science and Technology among OIC States and making headway in this area, as the first Summit on Science and Technology was held in Astana, Kazakhstan.
 
In view of looming C-19 crisis and its devastating aftermath, OIC - currently pursuing a comprehensive reform Agenda – would benefit from considering even bolder new steps, such as setting up an Instrument for policy coordination in times of crisis. Certainly, every crisis is a hardship, but it also brings opportunity and novel openings. Hence, it might be a Rapid Reaction Capacitation (RRC) in the event of new type/s of asymmetric challenges.
 
Such RRC will be embodied in a platform for the exchange of expertise among leading scientists in Islamic countries – notably, a Center for Epidemics Prevention and Management (EPM). Part of that RRC-capacitated EPM Center would be also a division for vaccines research and production, supported by one for the applied AI (Artificial Intelligence). Since the capacity of early warning and rapid reaction would be essential, this Center and its divisions ought to be preferably situated physically closer to the OIC HQ.
 
By doing so, OIC would strengthen ties of cooperation in various fields, including scientific research within and among its Member States, but also with the variety of international and regional organizations and the Specialized Agencies. Thus, the EPM Center would serve as a liaison between the OIC world and similar regional or national Epidemic Prevention and Vaccination centres. As the grand wiz of early European integrations, Jean Monnet, used to say: “Crises are the great unifier!”   
 
Geographic, demographic and geo-economic centrality of the OIC world makes it focally important for any planetary issue. OIC also represents an important voting block within the United Nations system (Bretton Woods institutions and the G-20, too). Therefore, the faster and better crisis responsive OIC clearly translates into the safer and brighter, sustainable world for our common future.
 
Jeddah/Vienna, 08 MAY 2020
 

Authors: 



Amb. Ali Goutali, Tunisian top diplomat, serving numerous key posts on four continents, former Head of the national diplomatic institute. Author of several publications including a book on decision making in foreign policy. Current Director at the OIC General Secretariat in Jeddah, KSA.
 
Prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic, professor and chair for international law and global pol. studies, Vienna, Austria. Author of 7 books on geopolitics, energy and technology.



May 12,  2020


International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies ([1] ) from Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses developments in the Middle East and the Balkans. Elizabeth Deheza is a founder and CEO of the London-based, independent strategic intelligence entity DEHEZA. In her comprehensive analysis entitled “Leadership for Thought: Non-Permanent members lead the Security Council through COVID-19” she calls for urgent multilateral action of non-permanent members about meeting of UN Security Council.

 

Leadership for Thought: Non-Permanent members lead the Security Council through COVID-19

China held the Presidency of the United Nations Security Council in March this year: COVID-19 was deemed not to be a security issue. By the end of March, confirmed deaths with the virus had grown past 40,000 globally and the U.N.’s Secretary General, António Guterres, stated that the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 were a multiplier of instability, unrest and conflict[2]  in an attempt to engage the Security Council. The Presidency of the Security Council passed to the Dominican Republic this month and the Caribbean country has the opportunity to spur the Security Council into action. 

The United Nations champions multilateralism but is often criticised for “doing everything and doing nothing” and has been denounced for the lack of a rapid and appropriate response to global challenges. “We have discussed COVID-19 every day since 13th March,” reassures one U.N. diplomat, but so far, the response has been ideological communiqués rather than pragmatic propositions or resolutions to collectively combat the effects of the pandemic.

On 23rd March, despite his “limited freedom” the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, strategically called for a global cease-fire and an aid package for the most vulnerable, which was praised as the most serious proposal that has emerged since the pandemic. Additionally, the 193-member General Assembly this month passed a non-binding resolution that called for “intensified international cooperation to contain, mitigate and defeat” the Coronavirus.

The Security Council has been suffering from a lack of action. In March, under China’s Presidency, the outbreak was not deemed to be a security issue and no action was taken. In recent weeks there has been mounting media pressure and calls from member states to force the Security Council to address the effects of the pandemic within its mandate. “We had to give in, but under any other circumstances it would be unimaginable for [a health issue] to be discussed under the Security Council’s mandate”, stated a current member of the Security Council. Tan Sri Hasmy Agam, formerly Malaysia’s representative on the Security Council and Prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic disagree and describe clearly the ‘International security dimension of COVID-19[3]  arguing that the potential impacts on international peace and security mean that the issue, “indisputably falls under [the Security Council]’s mandate”. It should also be noted that the Security Council did debate the impact of AIDS on peace and security in Africa in 2000.

Despite the “archaic views of a few members on how the Security Council should work”, this month, the Council, under the Presidency of the Dominican Republic, implemented the working methods prepared by the previous presidency to start Video Teleconferences (VTCs). “The pandemic forced us to develop working methods that have allowed us to carry the agenda despite the difficulties of not being able to physically meet,” said a non-permanent member of the Security Council triumphantly. While it is helpful that the members can now talk to each other after several weeks, many businesses and institutions implemented similarly ground-breaking technological innovations overnight!

After much resistance, particularly from China and South Africa, the Security Council had its first closed-door virtual meeting on 9th April to discuss the COVID-19 crisis. While this is good progress, there are significant barriers to any action, “It would be very detrimental for the UN SC to make its discussions on the pandemic public as that would demonstrate that its structure does not allow it to go beyond the vetoes of the permanent members (P5),” said a Latin American diplomat. In particular, the increasing tensions between the US and China have truncated any meaningful outcome, “They are in the middle of an ideological and strategic war,” continued the diplomat.

And yet, as the crisis deepens, negotiations on a possible resolution appear to be moving forward. Just as one draft resolution negotiated between the P5 stalled, another resolution between the non-permanent members was put forward, and currently all members are negotiating both resolutions as a single document. The finger-pointing and wording disputes between the US and China persist and, while France is working to smooth this relationship, new disagreements have emerged around the possibility to include in the resolution, the relaxation of unilateral sanctions against countries that have been heavily hit by the pandemic and need aid, such as Iran. Considering the scale and gravity of the pandemic, the fact that the P5 and the Security Council in general are getting bogged down on lexical semantics, is unacceptable.

All eyes are on the Security Council this month and they cannot remain silent on what is happening. Coordinating a response to this situation will require great leadership and Latin America, through the Dominican Republic’s Presidency of the Security Council has an opportunity to be front and centre. “The President has to ease tensions and blunt the edges of conflict among some of the members, especially the permanent members, and to generate close cooperation and unity in dealing with this global health trauma,” said a distinguished diplomat that has served twice on the Security Council. And yet, “the possibility of non-permanent members influencing these bureaucratic practices, stagnant, anchored in a history that we already know, are minimal,” emphasised a non-permanent member state of the Security Council.

The Presidency’s role is primarily to guide and align the Council, and within its limitations, the Dominican Republic can play an effective leadership role in handling an international crisis of monumental proportions. “What would be required for such a leadership role are qualities of clear-sightedness, level-headedness and outstanding diplomatic skills, among others,” said a senior Asian diplomat.

As part of this month’s agenda, the Dominican Republic launched an open, high-level VTC entitled, ‘Protection of civilians from conflict-induced hunger’. While the event had been planned for months and the agenda already set, the Presidency successfully shaped the conversation to not only cover food insecurity and conflict-related starvation but also to include discussion on the related security impacts of COVID-19, for example, through disruption of food supply chains.

The response from the virtual attendees was remarkable, with all the briefers and interventions from different countries including consideration of the threats multiplied by the pandemic. For example, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Qu Dongyu highlighted COVID-19 as one of the ‘shocks’ together with conflicts, extreme weather, desert locusts and economic shocks that are likely to “push more people into acute food insecurity”. The Presidential Statement of this event will hopefully produce a unanimous message on hunger and conflict, a much-needed sign of unity to identify common problems and seek common solutions.

This outcome could be an encouraging step for the Dominican Republic to assume greater leadership around the impacts of COVID-19 and its effects on international peace and security for the remainder of the month. The Latin American nation should seek to conclude its Presidency by helping the Security Council to focus on the gravity and wide-reaching nature of the situation and work together on a resolution that directly addresses the threats of the pandemic and offers pragmatism in the management and the recovery, even if differences between the P5 persist. “The global pandemic presents both a challenge and an opportunity for a small Caribbean member state of the world body to demonstrate a much-needed leadership role to mobilize the international community to effectively combat COVID-19 and spare the world from further untold tragedy,” said an optimistic veteran of diplomacy.

The Caribbean nation will finish its Presidency at the end of April and while there are only a few days left, its diplomatic skills will be put to the test in the coming days at other important events including one on 27-29 April for the “Intergovernmental Negotiations on the Security Council Reform” (IGN) where five points of convergence and disagreement will be debated: 1) categories of membership to the Council (i.e. permanent, non-permanent, or a third option), 2) the question of the veto, 3) regional representation, 4) size of an enlarged Council and working methods, and 5) the relationship between the Council and the General Assembly. Each bloc of states (the S5 Group, the G4, the African Group, the L.69 Group, the Arab Group, Uniting for Consensus, the Caribbean Community, etc) have different positions, agendas and vision; “it’s a Tower of Babel’, assured a UN diplomat, “without forward-looking conditions, we will not advance the debate”. During this debate, the Dominican Republic could proactively try to reorganise the fronts between all the different positions of the UN regional groups and mark certain lines in the negotiation process.

The Dominican Republic could provide the same guidance to its own regional group within the United Nations, the Latin American and Caribbean States Group (GRULAC), which is considered “non-functional” due to its internal ideological struggles. “We must rebuild, remove the regional groups from their ideological struggle and make it a place where a conversation and eventually a consensus can be generated”, reflected a diplomat of a GRULAC member state. The Caribbean nation, through its prominent role in the Presidency, “has the platform to propose an initiative that would put a specific work agenda in place as a mechanism for consultation and agreement rather than as a mechanism of ideological confrontation,” explained the same diplomat. Another Latin American diplomat agrees that there is an opportunity for the Dominican Republic to show leadership, “the Dominican Republic ambassador could be a valuable interlocutor if considered as a sensible person and not seen as a threat to other activities within the Security Council”.

The pandemic and its effects have laid bare the importance of decisive, visionary leadership and concerted action in such a critical point of human history and also provides an opportunity to the international community and its leaders to galvanise the process of change where multilateralism, compassion and social consensus are no longer a policy of choice.

Footnotes:

[1] IFIMES – The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies, based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, has a special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council ECOSOC/UN since 2018.

[2] UN News (2020) https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/04/1061502  (“COVID-19 threatening global peace and security, UN chief warns”, accessed on 20 April 2020).

[3] IFIMES (2020) https://www.ifimes.org/en/9791  (“World on Autopilot: The UN Security Council should urgently address Covid-19”, accessed on 22 April 2020).

About the author: 

Elizabeth Deheza is a founder and CEO of the London-based, independent strategic intelligence entity DEHEZA, focused on Latin America and Caribbean.


Ljubljana/London, 27 April 2020

  • Link (ENG): https://www.ifimes.org/en/9801 (Research ● Elizabeth Deheza - Leadership for Thought: Non-Permanent members lead the Security Council through COVID-19)

FIMES – International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies, based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, has Special Consultative status at ECOSOC/UN since 2018.



APRIL 29,  2020


International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) from Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses developments in the Middle East and the Balkans. Itai BRUN, Deputy Director at Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), Research and Analysis VP and Yael GAT, Research Assistant to Deputy Director for Research and Analysis at INSS are the authors of the analysis entitled “The Corona Crisis and Israel’s National Security” in which they are analyzing how the Corona crisis is effecting Israel and its national security. 

The Corona Crisis and Israel’s National Security
 

https://mcusercontent.com/49309a7aac1a5dddd2d12f6e0/images/303a8e77-ca74-46bf-b9b0-cc2a87b63bb8.png
Itai BRUN 

https://mcusercontent.com/49309a7aac1a5dddd2d12f6e0/images/3081832d-9372-4688-bb63-dd64dc6efede.jpg
Yael GAT 

- Deputy Director of INSS,
Research and Analysis VP  

- Research Assist. to Deputy Director
for Research and Analysis at INSS  

A seminar at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) on political and security implications of the corona crisis underscored the prevalent uncertainty regarding the situation, but also highlighted several instructive points. The biggest threat to the global (and Israeli) economy derives from the slowdown or negative growth in the United States, and at the current stage, the American ability to meet the crisis effectively is not clear. As for Israel, the risks of escalation in the northern arena and the Gaza Strip have decreased in the short term, but toughening the restrictions on the border crossings with the Palestinian Authority could lead to its economic collapse. The combination in Israel of a political crisis, the budget deficit, multiple security challenges, and the coronavirus outbreak is highly problematic, and a continuation of the crisis beyond the next two-three months could mean negative annual growth. The IDF could be called on for extensive assistance to the civilian front for a long period, yet while needing to maintain its fitness and readiness. Even in the most optimistic scenario, the priority given to health services and the economy will make it very hard to realize the multi-year IDF plan (“Tnufa”).

The global outbreak of the coronavirus, defined as a pandemic, began to sweep through the world in recent weeks, including in Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East (where the outbreak has not yet reached its peak). On Thursday, March 12, 2020, the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) broadcast a seminar (without any audience present) on the subject of “Corona, National Security and Democracy.” Participants included Prof. Gili Regev-Yochay, Head of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit at the Sheba Medical Center (Tel HaShomer), the economist Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, former Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. (ret.) Gadi Eisenkot, and INSS researchers.

Most prominent in the discussion was the high level of uncertainty so far among decision makers and the general public alike in what pertains to the crisis. Past experience is only partly relevant, and there are huge gaps in knowledge and information about this virus and how it spreads, making it hard to analyze the situation and choose the optimal ways to handle it. All this is compounded by the need to deal with the ease of spreading fake news – lies, distortions, spin, errors, and conspiracy theories. The following summary of the discussion outlines possible scenarios and points to issues for follow-up and further discussion as the crisis unfolds. 
 

The International System

Participants analyzed two main global scenarios. The first is more optimistic (“like a severe flu”), where the measures taken are effective and perhaps the warmer weather in April-May will significantly slow the spread of the virus, and the epidemic will be successfully contained in China, most European countries, and the United States. Once trade links and the economy return to normal in the second and third quarters of the year, and the tourism and aviation sectors recover, there will be only a minor decrease in annual GDP.

The second scenario is more pessimistic (“a lengthy pandemic”), whereby most countries will be unable to control the rate of infection and contain the disease at least in the next six months (and apparently until the end of the year). In this situation there will be very serious damage to trade and economic relations, and to the movement of people and goods between countries. All economies will suffer a severe recession, with heavy damage to global production, and there will be millions of fatalities worldwide.

The crisis will not lead to a decision in the superpower competition, and it appears that no global actors will emerge unscathed. At least in the short term, international actors will likely withdraw into themselves, isolationist policies will become ber, and the willingness of the powers to help countries suffering from the virus will be very limited. Radical elements (such as extreme right wing movements, terror organizations, and autocratic regimes) can exploit such a situation to take action under cover of panic. Perhaps, as one participant posited, the corona crisis has exposed the weaknesses of globalization and could eventually, in the longer term, lead to a rethinking of some of its most prominent features (such as widespread aviation, urban density, dependence on an international supply chain, and the uncontrolled spread of false information).

The biggest threat to the international (and the Israeli) economy derives from a slowdown or even negative growth in the United States. At present, the ability of the US to handle the crisis effectively and gain control of the outbreak is not clear. At this stage management of the crisis requires a material change in the behavior of President Donald Trump, including greater reliance on the professional-scientific echelon, which at present is regarded by the President with much suspicion and distrust. In any event, this is a severe blow to Trump at the height of a stormy election year, given the steep decline in the economy and stock exchange indexes, whose success he linked to his presidency. The coronavirus could thus damage Trump’s support base as the elections approach and threaten his reelection. Such a scenario has highly significant implications for Israel, which has so far enjoyed broad support and unprecedented backing from Trump. If the Democrats win the election, and a president with reservations about Israeli policy enters the White House, support for Israel and its freedom of action will probably continue, but with more limitations. As the US economic crisis worsens, there is also the likelihood of a cut in security aid to Israel.

In the absence of information to the contrary, it appears that China is dealing with the crisis effectively, after an initial stage of late identification and silence. The improved methods of supervision and suppression seem to have shown their effectiveness, although at a heavy price to the economy and privacy, as much as that exists in China. China has begun to exercise its advantage of precedence (it was the first to encounter the coronavirus, and the first to achieve success in blocking it), and to present its determined conduct as the effective way of handling the virus. The Chinese model of “autocratic capitalism” may be attractive to some and gain popularity, but could prove very difficult to implement in other countries. Even without adopting the Chinese model, the solution of invasive monitoring of citizens and limiting their freedom of movement has already been tried in additional countries. The route taken by the virus and the measures to deal with it (from China to the West) could give China an advantage, with the growing demand for its resources from damaged economies, and Western countries hard-pressed to compete with it.

The true state of the corona outbreak in Russia is not clear, but presumably Moscow will retain its traditional strategy of coping, which includes information warfare and capitalization on opportunities to deflect attention from sensitive issues. President Vladimir Putin has already seized the moment to extend his presidency to 2036. His decision to break up the partnership with OPEC with the aim of harming the oil shale industry in the United States and demonstrating his ability to damage the global economy also represents an exploitation of this opportunity.

The crisis in Europe, whose population is older than elsewhere in the world, could widen existing rifts among the countries on the continent (the struggle between the radical right and the socialist left, the refugee crisis); cause the collapse of shaky organizational structures; and even weaken the very basis of the European Union and its institutions.

The corona outbreak has been accompanied by an explosion of rumors and fake news, designed to maximize fear of the epidemic or point to those responsible for its spread. The rumors are promoted by interested countries and by ordinary citizens, as well as those who thrive on conspiracy theories. The media echo some of the lies.
 

The Regional System

At present, it looks as if the risks of escalation in the Middle East have declined, as all regional actors are focused on the corona crisis. According to official reports, outbreaks of coronavirus in the Middle East are limited in scope (except in Iran). However, it is likely that the reports do not reflect the true situation, and the peak of the epidemic in the Middle East still lies ahead. Moreover, the region could be fertile ground for a serious epidemic due to the overcrowding in some cities and the presence of millions of refugees and displaced persons. It could cause a serious and widespread humanitarian crisis and exacerbate fundamental problems that threaten the stability of many regimes.

The spread of the coronavirus caught the Iranian regime in one of its lowest points. The emerging oil crisis joins other severe negative economic circumstances; trust in the regime is extremely low; and the official denials of the crisis together with inept handling deepen the crisis of public confidence vis-à-vis the regime. This comes against the background of the fuel crisis, floods throughout the country, and the downing of the Ukrainian airplane. However, the fear of infection limits the extent of protests and provides the regime with at least a temporary shield against mass demonstrations. In the past, the regime has shown its willingness to use violence to suppress domestic threats to its existence. Moreover, Iran has the ability to withstand crises and is able to absorb casualties.

The possibility of an unplanned escalation between Iran and the United States was illustrated when rockets were fired at an American base, which led to an American attack on militia bases. However, it appears that in the short term, the coronavirus has a restraining effect and curtails Iran’s policy of defiance – in the region and in the nuclear arena. (The possibility that Iran will, under cover of the crisis, accelerate its nuclear program exists and must be monitored, even if it seems less likely at present.) In the longer term, within months, Iran might return to its former defiant policy. In aspects relating to negotiations with the United States, as Iran experiences increasing distress and loses its leverage, so the prospects of its coming to the table to negotiate a new nuclear agreement will fade.

Iran is now an “exporter of the epidemic” tor countries in the radical Shiite axis (Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon), where outbreaks of the disease appear to be linked to elements that have had contact with delegations from Iran. Lebanon has seen broad public pressure to stop flights between Beirut and Iran due to the damage caused, and this development is likely reinforcing the existing public dissatisfaction with Iranian interference in Lebanon (flights to Syria have also been canceled).

In the Palestinian Authority and the Gaza Strip there are attempts to copy Israel’s manner of dealing with the virus outbreak, and the authorities are imposing very severe restrictions in the effort to control the epidemic. The crisis demonstrates the importance of a b and functioning Palestinian Authority. Without effective control of the situation by the PA, any outbreak in its territory could spill over into Israel. The increased restrictions on movement between Israel and PA territory (preventing the entry of Palestinian workers and the movement of goods), which will continue for over two months, could lead to a severe economic crisis, with the collapse of the Palestinian economy and chaos in the West Bank. For that reason, it is important for Israel to promote cooperation with the Palestinian Authority and Egypt and Jordan, the countries with which it has peace treaties, by sharing medical information, supplying medical equipment, and coordinating traffic at the border crossings.

The recent relative quiet on the Gaza front is due to Hamas’s focus on preventing an outbreak of disease and from the extensive steps taken by Israel to ease the situation. Limiting these moves or the scope of cooperation with respect to fighting the epidemic could bring this quiet to an end and increase the likelihood of escalation and the renewal of disturbances on the Gaza border.


Israel

The highly unusual combination in Israel of an extended political crisis, multiple security challenges, and a budget deficit, joined by the corona outbreak, is extremely problematic. The discussion showed that Israel could find itself in one of the following scenarios:

1.    “A country with flu” (optimistic scenario): Spring will slow down the rate of infection considerably; the number of cases in Israel will amount to a few hundred with only scattered deaths; the epidemic will also be contained in China, most European countries, and the United States, so that quarantine restrictions will be limited to countries with severe outbreaks; trade and economic links will gradually return to normal, and the tourism and aviation sectors will recover. In this scenario, there will be a drop of only 0.5-1 percent in GDP, meaning there will still be annual growth of about 2 percent.

2.    “Country under curfew” or “sick country”: These are two separate scenarios, where the common denominator is that the crisis will not end in the next six months, GDP will be affected significantly, and annual growth will be negative. However, they differ in how the country will deal with the crisis – by continuing severe quarantine conditions or even lockdown (as in Italy), or by trying to return to normal economic activity while dealing with mass infection. An even more drastic scenario is of a “dysfunctional country” – the disease spirals out of control, leading to the collapse of public services and loss of faith in the government and the authorities.

The challenges currently facing the IDF are led by the need to maintain the readiness and health of the soldiers, so that security challenges can be met; to assist the civilian system, which will presumably need help as the crisis continues; and to maintain fitness and promote force buildup in the new circumstances.

While participants agreed on the importance of a multi-year plan for the IDF regarding force buildup, there was relatively broad agreement that it would be difficult now to finance the plan (“Tnufa”) drafted recently up by Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi. Clearly it is a necessary to allocate resources to other areas (mainly health services and economic recovery) and to “put out fires” in view of the budget deficit.

The demand that the security system should participate in the civilian efforts against the corona outbreak is apparently necessary because of Israel’s special characteristics, and requires a change of perception in the IDF and other security organizations. However, the view was also expressed that this demand may turn out to be mistaken due to the unknown duration of the epidemic (which could be relatively long), during which organizations will be diverted from their primary tasks. This matter requires complex balancing, which must also take into account the need of security organizations to maintain their basic fitness throughout the duration of the epidemic.

On a more positive note, the corona crisis can also be seen as a kind of “live exercise” that simulates a national emergency and allows Israel to examine and implement mechanisms to reinforce social and national immunity, inter alia by activating civilian communities, promoting remote internet-based work, and dealing with overload in hospitals.

First published by INSS Insight No. 1274, March 17, 2020

Ljubljana/Tel Aviv, 19 March 2020

  • Link (ENG): https://www.ifimes.org/en/9783  (Research - Itai BRUN&Yael GAT: The Corona Crisis and Israel’s National Security)
  • Link (ENG): https://www.ifimes.org/en/9782  (Research ● General (Rtd) Corneliu Pivariu: Thoughts of Romania’s Foreign Policy on the Background of the European Foreign Policy)
  • Link (ENG): https://www.ifimes.org/en/9781  (Ambassador (ret.) Dr. Haim Koren: Israel-Egypt Cooperation in 2019: Strategic Warming, Civilian Coolness?)
  • Link (ENG): https://www.ifimes.org/en/9761  (Research - Bosnia and Herzegovina: The final phase of “Dodikization” of Republika Srpska?)
  • Link (ENG): https://www.ifimes.org/en/9768   (Research - Trump’s 2020 Peace Plan: Between International Law and Reality)
  • Link (ENG): https://www.ifimes.org/en/9775  (Research - Prof. Dr. Anis H. Bajrektarevic: 3De-evolution of Europe - The equation of Communism with Nazism (First part)
  • Link (ENG): https://www.ifimes.org/en/9775  (Research - Prof. Dr. Anis H. Bajrektarevic - Ur-Fascism: Of Silence and EU Rush - The equation of Communism with Nazism (Second part)
  • Link (ENG): https://www.ifimes.org/en/9753   (Research - Iran 2020: The assassination of Iranian General – the "Napoleon" of Iranian revolution)
  • Link (ENG): https://www.ifimes.org/en/9752  (Research - Montenegro 2020: Will the Montenegrin Orthodox Church become a Greek Catholic Church?)
  • Link (ENG): https://www.europeanperspectives.org/en International scientific journal "European Perspectives"
  • Link (ENG): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=645V9eryieI&t=5s  (IFIMES presentation film)
IFIMES – International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies, based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, has Special Consultative status at ECOSOC/UN since 2018.



March 19,  2020

International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) from Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses developments in the Middle East and the Balkans. General (Rtd) Corneliu Pivariu is a member of IFIMES Advisory Board and founder and former CEO at Ingepo Consulting. In his comprehensive analysis entitled “Thoughts of Romania’s Foreign Policy on the Background of the European Foreign Policy” he is analyzing Romania’s foreign policy and its challenges in the EU. 



Member of IFIMES Advisory Board and  Founder and the former CEO of the INGEPO Consulting

Thoughts of Romania’s Foreign Policy on the Background of the European Foreign Policy [1]

„Domestic policy can only defeat us;
 Foreign policy can kill us”.
John F. Kennedy
Corneliu PIVARIU



A brief description of the current geopolitical situation and its prospects

In the last decade the strategic, political, economic, military, energy and technological balances were bly affected by global challenges, strategic, political, juridical and technological disruptions each one impacting on one or several fields. Human society is in a evolutionary crisis which the main international traditional players are not able yet to manage properly and each one of them seeks to position itself as profitable as possible in anticipation of a new world order in a globalized world. The developments are fast and often momentous, and as one of the attendees noted – important geopolitical events that occurred in the last two months are equaling the ones that took place in the last decade.

Geopolitics should be reformed. The economic maps are no longer overlapping the political ones. The emergence of digitalization with an extraordinary importance, means an era and a space that the states do not control any longer, will bring hard to foresee developments on the world’s stage. The truth according to which states live in markets and not the markets live in states, although acknowledged, is not fully understood and politics did not identify yet valid solutions for taming the globalized capitalism.

A recent analysis [2]  put forward briefly the 2020 and further on global geopolitical challenges  and groups them in four great categories: geopolitical/economic (economic showdowns; trade/investment protectionism; great powers downturn); environmental (global warming; natural systems breakdown; water crisis); technological (cyberattacks on infrastructure and financial institutions; losing privacy by companies and governments); societal (domestic political polarization; deepening social divide; losing trust in media sources, domination of fake news).

However, the globalizing world is encountering now a new threat, the outbreak of a pandemic, inflicted by COVID-19, and for which it is not sufficiently well prepared. 


The European Union and its foreign policy

Under the circumstances, the idea that the European Union (EU) is lacking a clear vision about its future is prevailing and visionary leaders with popular appeal are missing. As a German friend said, Ursula von der Leyen knows how to submit interesting projects yet she is not able enough to implement them. It is the case of The European Green Deal project [3] which is supposed to be finalized by 2050 and devised to unite all European capabilities for a shared objective and has hindrances since its launching as a result of the costs and social and technological implications it presumes.

On the other hand, the EU has other stringent problems, too such as the new threat of Syrian and North African migrants [4], Russia’s and Turkey’s expansionist policies, the threats represented by technological evolutions and especially the Artificial Intelligence (AI). A Compact concerning Europe’s future is needed more and more yet there is a reservation of its states with regards to promoting an institutional reform.

There is no document between the EU and China on economic relations but a strategic outlook devised in 2019.

There is no dialogue between the EU and the US on China’s issues. Securing the neighborhoods is a priority and the EU cannot be a global player unless it becomes involved.

One of the attendees said at the end of his speech that these are but some major examples of important actions the EU should have in mind and added that the Union is “an economic giant, a political dwarf and a military little mouse”. The wording includes indeed upward and downward exaggerations in all three fields.

Not in the least, the position of EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy created in 1999 by the Treaty of Amsterdam and thereafter enhanced through the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009 when the holder became vice-president of the Commission too, is important for achieving the European foreign policy. If Javier Solana (1999 – 2009) was well experienced in foreign policy, same cannot be said of his successors: Catherine Ashton (2009 – 2014 was previously a European Trade Commissioner and a leader of the House of Lords only) and Federica Mogherini (2014 -2019 was before Italy’s foreign minister for eight months and member of the Chamber of Deputies for one and a half year only). From 1st December 2019, the position is held by Spain’s Josep Borell Fontalles whose experience in the field of foreign relations we hope to be useful during his just begun mandate.

Did a question attributed long time ago to the former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger: whom shall I call if I want to talk to Europe (the EU)? has finally found an answer? Probably yes, formally speaking. Yet it is not clearly enough to whom the US president should speak.



Romania and its foreign policy after joining the EU and the perspectives 

Defining the national interest and the objectives of the foreign policy should be done by the parliament. We use to that purpose the past experience so that Romania could become an as convincing as possible voice internationally. The government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should be the main artisans of the Romanian foreign policy and the president should observe (just like the rest of the state’s institutions) the constitutional duties.

After joining the EU, Romania suffered an identity crisis in its foreign policy. We had “a cheap approach” folded on Germany’s and US’s approaches. Our attitude of permanently being concerned with getting a better appreciation by the EU’s leadership is a wrong one. I believe that in this regard, Nicolae Titulescu’s position [5] who said: ”A country’s foreign policy is devised by rational assessment of the national standpoint, by defending it  firmly and in a dignified way internationally and not by signatures provided by the fear of differentiating yourself, signatures that might spell today but which bind you tomorrow.”

It seems that this quote was forgotten altogether today by the Romanian politicians as the positions they adopted externally and the UE’s actions, too, left the impression that Romania is a Union’s second-class member, something that should be changed. The EU; s recommendations concerning Romania expired in 2010 and were not updated while the EU’s leadership and its members seem to be content with that as long as they do not update it.

It is necessary we regain the sovereignty within the EU and an equal position with the other states. In this respect, we should get closer to other states having similar problems with ours.

Romania’s rotating presidency of the European Union Council during January 1st – June 30th 2019, proved its capacity to deliver in very good conditions (according to the UE’s bodies appreciation. We should devise from now on and, at the same time, to implement the resolutions.

Romania should adopt a more active position within the EU, support the strategic partnership with the US, put forward our standpoint concerning the American peace plan in the Middle East, have more initiatives in approaching the main issues and UE’s political decisions including following up its national interest as the other member states do.

Romania could further contribute to the development of the EU’s relations with countries of the Middle East given the former’s experience until 1989 with numerous Arab countries. Unfortunately, during the last 30 years that area has been extremely neglected by the Romanian policy and diplomacy, give away and compromises have been made without any clear gains we might have obtained [6] so that, if we do not act now we will be forgotten in the Middle East within the next 5-10 years. The generation of the Middle East’s politicians under 40 years old are no longer familiar with Romania.

Under today’s geopolitical circumstances, we have to add substance to the US’s strategic partnership yet, at the same time, we should not stay away from defining our partnership with China, which we have traditional relations which seem to cool and follow the same course as the one with the Middle East’s.

The article includes personal opinions and standpoints similar to those with the undersigned positions expressed on this occasions and other mentions in recent analysis and documents do not reflect in any way the opinion of the Commission on the European Affairs of the Romanian Senate.



About the author: 


Corneliu Pivariu is a highly decorated two-star general of the Romanian army (Rtd). He has founded and led one of the most influential magazines on geopolitics and international relations in Eastern Europe, the bilingual journal Geostrategic Pulse, for two decades.

Ljubljana, 15 March 2020

Footnotes:

[1] This article has been caused following the author’s invitation and attendance of the round table “Romania’s Role in Redefining the European Foreign Policy”, organized by the Committee on Foreign Affairs (headed by Gabriela Crețu) of the Romanian Senate on February 25th, 2020. The invitation was extended through dr. Liviu Mureșan, Chairman of EURISC.

[2] Global Geopolitical Challenges -2020, Valdai - https://valdaiclub.com, 04.03.2020

[3] The European Green Deal (Green Deal) aims at transforming the European economy into a neutral one in what concerns the impact on the environment by 2050. This ambitious program provides for investing 1tn euro during the next 10 years. Some experts estimate that the effects of this initiative on a global scale will be rather limited since Europe is not an important polluter globally. Romania will benefit from 757 ml euro (non-reimbursable EU grants) for supporting the mono-industrial areas which will be affected by the passage to a non-polluting economy. Experts in the field estimate that Romania will have to annually allocate around 4bl euro for implementing this project which requires giving up roughly 25% of the country’s energy capacities and replacing them by green ones.

[4] Turkey’s attempt to send a new migrant’s wave to Europe met for the time being with Greece’s and Bulgaria’s refusal to open their borders and the High Commissioner Josep Borell declared that the EU’s borders stay closed and the migrants should know that. In its turn, Germany declared that the 2015 situation will not repeat itself and the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz blames president Erdogan for using the migrants close to the Greek borders as weapons against the EU.

[5] Nicolae Titulescu, a brilliant Romanian diplomat, Romania’s foreign minister between 1928-1936, president of the League of Nations between 1930-1931.

[6] In 2005, for instance, Romania voluntarily adhered to the Paris Club’s recommendation and diminished its then Iraqi outstanding debt of $2.6 bn by 80% and accepted Baghdad’s payment of the remaining in annual instalments until 2028 with a 5 years grace period. Romania observed Lybia’s embargo, although during the 1980s the commercial exchanges between the two countries exceeded annually $1bn and gave up exploiting oil blocks where it had successful oil prospections and annulled even the direct  air links between Bucharest and Tripoli, while European important countries were convening and caring out important contracts with Qaddafi.
 

  • Link (ENG): https://www.ifimes.org/en/9782  (Research ● General (Rtd) Corneliu Pivariu: Thoughts of Romania’s Foreign Policy on the Background of the European Foreign Policy)
  • Link (ENG): https://www.ifimes.org/en/9781  (Ambassador (ret.) Dr. Haim Koren: Israel-Egypt Cooperation in 2019: Strategic Warming, Civilian Coolness?)
  • Link (ENG): https://www.ifimes.org/en/9768   (Research - Trump’s 2020 Peace Plan: Between International Law and Reality)
  • Link (ENG): https://www.ifimes.org/en/9775  (Research - Prof. Dr. Anis H. Bajrektarevic: 3De-evolution of Europe - The equation of Communism with Nazism (First part)
  • Link (ENG): https://www.ifimes.org/en/9775  (Research - Prof. Dr. Anis H. Bajrektarevic - Ur-Fascism: Of Silence and EU Rush - The equation of Communism with Nazism (Second part)
  • Link (ENG): https://www.ifimes.org/en/9753   (Research - Iran 2020: The assassination of Iranian General – the "Napoleon" of Iranian revolution)
  • Link (ENG): https://www.ifimes.org/en/9752  (Research - Montenegro 2020: Will the Montenegrin Orthodox Church become a Greek Catholic Church?)
  • Link (ENG): https://www.europeanperspectives.org/en International scientific journal "European Perspectives"
  • Link (ENG): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=645V9eryieI&t=5s  (IFIMES presentation film)


IFIMES – International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies, based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, has Special Consultative status at ECOSOC/UN since 2018.



March 16,  2020


International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) from Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses developments in the Middle East and the Balkans. Ambassador (ret.) Dr. Haim Koren is a former Israeli Ambassador to Egypt and South Sudan and Member of IFIMES Advisory Board. In his text entitled “Israel-Egypt Cooperation in 2019: Strategic Warming, Civilian Coolness?” he is analysing Israel-Egypt cooperation.


Member of IFIMES Advisory Board
 

Israel-Egypt Cooperation in 2019: Strategic Warming, Civilian Coolness?


A. Introduction 

Since President Abdel Fatah a-Sisi’s rise to power in 2014, Israeli-Egyptian ties have been marked by defence-strategic cooperation. This is based on the shared perception of Iran and radical Islamist terror organizations as a threat, and the common interest in managing the Palestinian issue, in general, and specifically the Gaza arena. In the inherent tension between ideology and national interests, Egypt continues to strive for an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians (Fatah, Hamas and the other Palestinian factions) and seeks to bring about internal Palestinian reconciliation beforehand (between the leaderships in Ramallah and Gaza). Its role as a key mediator between Hamas and Israel is crucial, and is in line with Egypt’s international standing as an important regional leader. 
 
Egypt’s role as a mediator acceptable to all sides allows it to ensure that the “arrangements” it helps broker serve its own interests as well, including its desire to pursue cooperation with Israel on strategic issues such as security and energy. Addressing the 2019 Herzliya Conference, Egyptian Ambassador to Israel Khaled Azmi expressed his country’s key interest in preserving its stability as a nation-state in the face of regional challenges. He also emphasized the importance of providing a response to the aspirations of millions of young people in the Middle East (where 60% of the population is below the age of 30). 
 
Israel perceives its peace with Egypt as a highly important asset. Four decades of peace have proven its resilience in the face of changes and shockwaves, and have provided a potential platform for strategic cooperation. However, relations between Israel and Egypt are characterized as a “cold peace”. Egypt is unwilling to fully normalize with Israel, despite crucial shared interests, as long as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains unresolved. Although this position has become somewhat muted considering the growing defence strategic cooperation between Israel and the Sunni states in the region, it still dictates the nature and extent of relations. A 2018 study that examined existing cooperation between Israel and Egypt pointed to strategic cooperation between the states, as well as cool bilateral relations on all other fronts. This article follows-up and looks at the 2019 developments in the relations.


B. Details of the Cooperation 

Israeli-Egyptian links are an asset to the region, especially to the states of the Arab Muslim Sunni axis, as well as to the US and other powers (Russia, the EU, China and India). All of them regard the ties as a boost to regional stability in light of a period of great upheaval. Throughout 2019, Egypt was a pivotal actor in ties between Israel and the Palestinians. All attempts to arrange ceasefires with Hamas were conducted in close cooperation with Egypt, as well as UN mediation and the help of Qatari funds. Israel and Egypt both sought to limit Iran’s presence in the Middle East, to advance increased sanctions against it by diplomatic means, and to fight its various proxies. Israel and Egypt also worked, each individually, to limit Turkey’s activity in the Eastern Mediterranean by nurturing alliances in the region. They also mounted campaigns against terror organizations, born of a joint perception of the threat they pose and the required responses. Israel and Egypt also share a similar view of the US role in the region, resulting in Israeli-Egyptian coordination in many fields.  
 
Diplomatic cooperation between Israel and Egypt, and the mutual trust built between them, resulted in a 2018 Egyptian request that Israel mediate in its dispute with Ethiopia over the Renaissance Dam (the Nahda), which is of strategic importance to Egypt. Israel tried to help, raising the issue in talks with the Ethiopian government, after years of frequent Egyptian accusations that it was stealing water from the Nile. Along with such cooperation on the diplomatic front, 2019 saw continued security cooperation between Israel and Egypt, which has underpinned relations between them in recent years. At the start of the year, President a-Sisi declared in a CBS News interview that security cooperation with Israel was unprecedented, saying Israel had been helping Egyptian forces battle terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula.  
 
The year 2019 marked the 40th anniversary of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. Given the level of cooperation between the two states, as described above, a high-profile celebration would have been expected. However, while Israel held academic seminars and various other events to mark the anniversary, and President Reuven Rivlin hosted a ceremony participated by Egyptian Ambassador Azmi, no similar events were conducted in Egypt. The only event in Egypt marking the anniversary was held by the US Embassy in Cairo, with the participation of Israeli Ambassador Govrin. The Egyptian ambassador to the US and his Israeli counterpart took part in a ceremony marking the anniversary held at the State Department in Washington. Ambassador Govrin completed his term at the end of July 2019, and Israel currently does not have an ambassador in Cairo. The ambassador-designee's October 2018 appointment has not yet been presented for government approval. 

Energy was the most prominent new sphere of cooperation between Israel and Egypt in 2019, based on commercial-economic interests along with diplomatic-strategic ones. Significant steps were taken to promote cooperation allowing Egypt, Israel, Cyprus and Greece (and perhaps Lebanon in the future) to form a regional hub of natural gas production as a basis for export to Europe. In January 2019, the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) was launched in Cairo by seven Middle Eastern and European states, among them Israel and the Palestinian Authority (but without the participation of Turkey and Lebanon). Israeli Energy Minister Steinitz met with his Egyptian counterpart al-Mullah in full view of the cameras during the launch event. In January 2020, the EMGF ministerial meeting in Cairo decided to upgrade the status of the forum to a recognized international organization, which France asked to join, and which will include the US, EU and World Bank as observers. The boost to multilateral cooperation among the states of the Eastern Mediterranean also helped strengthen bilateral Israeli-Egyptian ties. 
 
In September 2019, Israel’s state-owned Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company signed a contract with the owners of the Egyptian EMG gas pipeline to allow the flow of gas from Israel’s offshore Leviathan and Tamar gas fields to Egypt.   The deal is expected to yield the Israeli company an annual commission of NIS200 million. In addition, a compromise was reached between the Egyptian government and the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC), according to which the Egyptians would only pay the IEC $500 million of the $1.76 billion ruled in its favour in international arbitration several years ago. That compromise removed the remaining barriers to the supply of natural gas from Israel to Egypt, and in January 2020, Israel began exporting gas to Egypt from the Leviathan reservoir. As of 2021, the Tamar and Leviathan partnership is scheduled to export some 6.4 billion cubic meters of gas annually. None of the above would have been possible without intensive contacts between the Egyptian and Israeli governments and without a diplomatic umbrella for the deals. 

Nonetheless, other than in the energy field, no significant changes occurred in Israel Egyptian economic cooperation in 2019. The Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ) continued to operate in their current format, as did agricultural projects. Unfortunately, there were no new initiatives in the spheres of solar energy, water desalination or green energy, which could have been very beneficial to the Egyptian economy. No progress was reported in scientific, medical, technological or academic cooperation, either. The Israeli Academic Center in Cairo continued to operate out of its offices in the Maadi neighborhood, attended daily by Egyptian students and lecturers. However, the center’s series of lectures by Israeli writers, lecturers and intellectuals for Egyptian audiences has not been renewed.  
 
One area in which progress was recorded was tourism, with hundreds of thousands of Israelis visiting the Sinai Peninsula and a few thousand touring Egypt itself. Positive developments occurred in the other direction, too – with the growth of Egyptian Copt pilgrimages to Israel, especially for the “Great Sabbath” and Easter holy days. Their numbers grew from some 5,000 in 2015 to about 7,000 in 2019. In December 2019, the annual World Youth Forum was convened in Sharm a-Sheikh under the auspices of President a-Sisi, who saw it as an opportunity to tighten cooperation among Mediterranean states in such fields as climate, science, illegal migration and counter-terrorism. Israeli attendance at the forum’s activities could provide an additional channel for strengthening people-to-people ties between Israel and Egypt. 

As part of Egypt’s efforts to display more tolerant and liberal attitudes, especially toward religious minorities, among them Jews and Copts, progress was made in terms of Egypt’s commitment to refurbish Jewish heritage sites. In 2017, a-Sisi announced that the Egyptian government would restore religious Jewish compounds. The restoration of Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Alexandria begun in 2018 and the site was inaugurated in an impressive January 2020 ceremony. Cairo’s Bassatine Jewish cemetery compound was renovated in 2019 with Egyptian government funding. After years of ignoring the need for restoration, the Egyptians have even allocated government budgets to the projects (rather than seeking funding from world heritage foundations or Jewish communities around the world). Egypt’s Antiquities Authority approves the registration of 13 relics, including Torah books, candlesticks and lanterns belonging to the synagogue in Alexandria and in other Egyptian towns, in preparation for their registration under the Protection of Antiquities Law. Mohamed Mahran, head of the Central Department of Jewish Antiquities at the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities said registering the Jewish relics was the first move of its kind. It should be noted that ambassadors from many countries were invited to the impressive synagogue ceremony, but the Israeli ambassador was not invited. The Egyptians framed the event as a Jewish rather than Israel-related occasion.

Along with Egypt’s positive shift on the Jewish issue and progress in areas such as security and energy, “cold peace” characteristics continue to mark Israeli-Egyptian relations. Egyptian avoidance of cultural cooperation continues to pose a significant obstacle to the bilateral relationship. The trend of Mediterranean identity starting to take root in certain Egyptian and Israeli circles may generate a dialogue that will eventually yield more open cultural relations. Social media, which enable a direct and comprehensive discourse with significant swathes of the predominantly young Egyptian population, interested in the world outside their borders, constitute another arena in which Israel operates and which holds potential for civilian rapprochement. The reactions of Egyptian internet surfers to Arabic language social media pages posted by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs express an interest in Israel, its culture, the role of science and technology in its fabric of life and lifestyle. Nonetheless, certainly compared with similar activity Israel has undertaken vis-à-vis Iraq and the Gulf States, reactions in Egypt are still negative, for the most part. Promoting the cultural aspects of the relationship, in combination with the potential of social media, is fertile ground for additional rapprochement between Israel and Egypt, requiring persistence and patience.


 C. Summary 

Over four decades of Israeli-Egyptian relations testify to continuity and change. The two states’ mutual interests constitute the basis for their peace, despite the obstacles, disagreements, and tensions over the years. The emerging regional and international reality (especially since a-Sisi’s rise to power) has increased cooperation but was not successful in thawing Egypt’s cool attitude toward the peace with Israel. The “cold peace” persists in areas such as culture, science, medicine, agriculture and industry. Nonetheless, the regional coalition that views Iran as a threat and the radical Islamist organizations as terrorists who must be defeated adds a significant dimension to Israeli-Egyptian ties. The ties were further boosted in 2019 by bilateral and regional energy-related cooperation of strategic diplomatic and economic importance.  
 
Also of importance to the relationship was Israeli-Egyptian cooperation on the Palestinian issue, especially as regards the situation in Gaza, in which Egypt plays a key role. The fact that Egypt sought Israeli mediation in its dispute with Ethiopia over the Renaissance Dam, a crucial issue for Egypt, is also important, and Egypt’s commitment to restoring and preserving Jewish heritage sites is a welcome development. Perhaps the discourse (while still limited to certain circles) in Egypt and Israel regarding identification with Mediterranean culture will promote broader civilian cooperation in the future and a sense of regional partnership, which could also be fostered by new communications channels provided by social media. It is important that Israel quickly appoint a permanent ambassador to Egypt, one able to support and lead attempts to bolster ties between the two states and take advantage of new opportunities to forge warmer ties.  

Published in  Mitvim - The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, March 2020 

Ljubljana/Jerusalem, 11 March 2020
 

  • Link (ENG): https://www.ifimes.org/en/9781  (Ambassador (ret.) Dr. Haim Koren: Israel-Egypt Cooperation in 2019: Strategic Warming, Civilian Coolness?)
  • Link (ENG): https://www.europeanperspectives.org/en International scientific journal "European Perspectives"
  • Link (ENG): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=645V9eryieI&t=5s  (IFIMES presentation film)


IFIMES
– International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies, based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, has Special Consultative status at ECOSOC/UN since 2018.



March 14,  2020


The Name of the Rose
De-evolution of Europe
(Second Part)

 

“He who does not wish to speak of capitalism should remain forever silent about Nazism” - Max Horkheimer famously said. It was a clear and often repeated line of this chief architect from the Frankfurt school of Philosophy – one of the most influential centres of thought in the XX century. This school of thought was tolerant and rather forgiving towards Western societies. Most importantly, the Frankfurters were for sure physically closest one to the post-WWII ideological and geopolitical default lines.

Even the Heideggerian run-away, Herbert Marcuse agreed. His “repressive tolerance” was probably the best indication of the possible self-entrapment of the western society, if someone in future ever attempts a dangerous and ahistorical equitation between Nazism and anything else, least with Communism. Regrettably enough, that future of de-evolution started pouring in by 1990s: It was this very same notion which Umberto Eco will name ur-fascism in 1995, sensing cold winds from the eastern flank of the EU and highly cynical silence of tacit approval from the central Europe.

Silence of the La(m)bs

“No one governs innocently” is a legendary diagnosis of Simone de Beauvoir about a true (Machiavellian) nature of political conduct. However, Nazi culprit; the calmly programmed concentrations camps, ruthless invasions and unprecedented scale of all-Europe suffering does not fall under this category. And will never be. This colossal evil needs its own name, its own category and our clear immortal reference to it.

Hence, the one who is not ready to talk about the imperialism of (primarily) Atlantic-Central Europe, colonialism, as well as about racism which usually justified the first two, should not talk about the ‘true’ European values. Or, for that matter, teach any lesson Europe’s East and Southeast.
Bottom line, before any contemplation for equitation, we should openly speak up about France in Algeria and Indochina, Italy in Libya and Eritrea, Dutch in Indonesia, Spain in Latin America (and home with Franco), Germany in Namibia and repeatedly all over Europe, Britain at so many places and at so many times, etc.

More than that, the only (i) organised and (ii) permanent resistance in Europe, occupied by Nazis, before and during the WWII was made by the communists. This irrefutable fact many to the EU’s East today perceive as inconvenient truth, which – by anti/intellectual acrobatics and central EU complicit silence– should be hidden under the carpet.

That antifascist struggle does not include Soviet Union and Yugoslavia only – two countries taking up by far the heaviest burden of pan-European resistance and liberation – but other patriotic movements as well; French, Greek, Italian and Spanish communists, too. Of course, the only two counties that solely freed themselves from Nazism without any external help were the two Eastern European, and at the same time two predominantly Slavic countries, Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.

So, the equitation of Communism with Nazism deeply insults all victims, but more over it negates very antifascist fundaments of modern Europe, while being at the same time deeply anti-Slavic. Clearly, negations of Nazi horrors – and any equitation is a beginning of such ahistorical and racist negation – committed in camps and elsewhere in occupied Europe, is not only anti-Semitic. It is first and most of all anti-Slavic!!

It isn’t freedom From. It’s freedom To

Sadly enough, most of the popular Atlantist literature and movies elaborating on topics of the WWII are biased and misleading on the role of the Red Army, and are generally disrespectful towards the enormous suffering of the Soviet and Yugoslav peoples at that time.

Some of the constantly implied fallacies is that the US and UK equally shared the burden of WWII with the Soviets. Even the British WWII ambassador in Moscow, Sir Stafford Cripps accused – in many cables he sent – his government of fatalistic defeatism, lack of bravery and of shirking any fight. As it happens, Stalin himself shouted at Churchill when the British PM went to Moscow to meet him in August 1942: “We’re losing 10,000 soldiers a day (1 per 8 seconds!!, rem.aut.)… Are you going to let us do all the fighting?”

Relative to the 1939 size of state territory and incumbent population within, the top WWII fatalities were suffered by Poland– 18%, the Soviet Union– 15%, Yugoslavia 12%, III Reich/Germany+Austria – 10%. For a sake of comparison, the Atlantic rim suffered as follows: France– 1,3%, UK–0,9%, the US– 0,3%. In casulties, it is: 36 millions to the East (mostly civilian), versus only 1,2 of the Atlantic Europe including the US soldiers.

Indeed, Russian and Yugoslav front – as only two fronts of permanently organized military resistance on the Continent – faced nearly 90% of the total German forces deployed in Europe. Promising to open the second, western front ever since 1941, the Anglo-American army eventually managed its landing on Sicily (oddly helped – out of his prison cell – by an Italian village Don turned the US mafia boss, Lucky Luciano) but only as late as September 1943.

By that time, Tito’s Partisans already managed most of their critical offensives (providing a strong support to Albanian and Greek patriots at the same time, too), while Russians won over in the biggest and bloodiest battles of the WWII. All of them were fought on the very Soviet soil; that of Moscow, of Stalingrad, of Leningrad, and of Kursk – with the last one representing the biggest battle ever recorded in history of mankind.

Also indigenously, Italian anti-fascists – organized by progressive patriots and gathered in Garibaldi brigades – significantly knocked down the Duce’s rule in Italy.
Conversely, the Anglo-American blitzkrieg up the Italian ‘boot’ turned into a blamage. German forces quickly replaced capitulating Italy’s Fascists phalanges, and easily repelled the Allies. The Western combined army will reach Rome only in June 1944. Eventually, by the time of the Normandy invasion in summer 1944, the fate of Nazism in Europe was already decided by Eastern and Russophone Europe.

Trying to answer why the so-called Anglo-American antifascist intervention in Greece and Italy was so slow, anemic and late, many scholars argue that it was never meant to fight Nazis, but to disturb the strong indigenous leftist antifascist forces and to divert them to the desired ideological orientation and Atlantist geopolitical course.

Finally,
The name of the Rose? Well, it is Red.
Sorry, but this is how it is. Eco just recorded echo.

(End of the 2nd Part)


Prof. Anis H. Bajrektarević
Vienna, 20 FEB 2020
anis@corpsdiplomatique.cd



Author is professor in international law and global political studies, based in Vienna, Austria. His 7th book From WWI to www. 1918-2018 is published by the New York’s Addleton Academic Publishers last winter.


March 3,  2020



2020


PUBLICATIONS DECEMBER 2020,   PUBLICATIONS NOVEMBER 2020,  PUBLICATIONS OCTOBER 2020,
PUBLICATIONS SEPTEMBER 2020, PUBLICATIONS AUGUST 2019, PUBLICATIONS JUNE 2020,
PUBLICATIONS MAY 2020, PUBLICATIONS APRIL 2020, PUBLICATIONS MARCH 2020, PUBLICATIONS FEBRUARY 2020


PUBLICATIONS MAY 2020

The OIC World for a Safer Planet - Ali Goutali and Anis H. Bajrektarevic


PUBLICATIONS APRIL 2020

Leadership for Thought: Non-Permanent members lead the Security Council through COVID-19 - Elizabeth Deheza



PUBLICATIONS MARCH 2020

The Corona Crisis and Israel’s National Security - Itai BRUN and Yael GAT 
Thoughts of Romania’s Foreign Policy on the Background of the European Foreign Policy [1]
Israel-Egypt Cooperation in 2019: Strategic Warming, Civilian Coolness?
The Name of the Rose - De-evolution of Europe - Prof. Anis H. Bajrektarević


PUBLICATIONS FEBRUARY 2020

   Ur-Fascism: Of Silence and EU Rush -  The equation of Communism with Nazism - Anis H. Bajrektarevic
   What is more disruptive with AI: Its dark potentials or our (anti-Intellectual) Ignorance?
   Why Turkey is sending troops to Libya - Giorgio Cafiero
 
 ALL THOSE CROATIAN PRESIDENTS - By: Tomislav Jakić
 
Turkey-Erdogan seeks to achieve the dream of the empire’s rebirth - General (Rtd) Corneliu Pivariu


PUBLICATIONS FEBRUARY 2020

   What is more disruptive with AI: Its dark potentials or our (anti-Intellectual) Ignorance?
   Why Turkey is sending troops to Libya - Giorgio Cafiero
 
 ALL THOSE CROATIAN PRESIDENTS - By: Tomislav Jakić
 
Turkey-Erdogan seeks to achieve the dream of the empire’s rebirth - General (Rtd) Corneliu Pivariu


PUBLICATIONS JANUARY 2020

   Research-Emmy Latifah&Sara Al-Dhahri - Responding to new challenges: OIC in the international Arena
   Revisiting the Ukraine-Russia-EU triangular dynamics - Tanvi Chauhan
   Give me religion that does not polarise society! - Julia Suryakusuma
   De-evolution of Europe - The equation of Communism with Nazism
 
Soleimani’s assassination triggers US-Iran standoff -Malik Ayub Sumbal  
  The Sino-US Trade War – Why China can’t win it - Prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic
 


 


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