Recent geopolitical activities have mostly painted Turkey as a diplomatic hero in mediating a role between two rival Caspian countries: Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. Past interactions between the two have demonstrated a less-than-friendly atmosphere.
But recent political agreements concerning plans for exchanges in energy capabilities have shown Turkey’s mediating efforts between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to have additional self-interested motives. Below the surface of this trilateral union, captained by Turkey’s leadership, demonstrates more of a political dependency on Turkey so as to ensure the mutual alliance between the two feuding countries continues. Turkey’s agenda highlights more than just regional stability but also economic, diplomatic, and political advancement for Turkey as a regional power. Turkey’s specific interests with these two countries indicate its own individual objectives, both economically and in terms of its national security interests.
Within the last two years Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan have cited very few things in common except for one thing: the need for energy expansion. Turkey seems to have aided both countries in identifying their mutual interests beyond this simple edict, which includes tapping into their natural gas and oil resources not just for individual gain but in support of global energy distribution. “Both Caspian countries, which are known for their big oil and gas fields, pay special attention to development of this sphere…and are going to continue developing traditional cooperation on the principles of equality and mutual benefit.” (Hasanov). Coincidentally, both countries are somewhat suffering currently in this area: Turkmenistan equates its drop in exports due to Russian economic decline as well as Russia being a bit disturbed by Turkmenistan’s closer relations with Turkey. While Azerbaijan feels some strain from Russia by the deep Azeri interest in expanding oil pipelines through Turkey in an effort to supply the EU, which naturally will decrease some natural resource leverage in Moscow.
Because of this Turkey is climbing the geopolitical ladder at a much faster rate than its Caspian neighbors and in a way has become the economic powerhouse of the region. “Given its rising economy and territorial bridge between Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Greece, Turkey has a hand in several of today’s most pressing issues: burgeoning democracies in the wake of the Arab Spring, oil trade and refinery, and policies governing the G20 economies,” (Mckelvy). Naturally, global perspectives have assessed Turkey’s diplomatic volunteer work as yet another political badge for its reputational sleeve. Turkey has perpetuated an image of political stability and financial security. However, further inspection shows Turkey is also being diplomatically proactive and trying to prepare for its own energy troubles in the not so far off future. “Turkey’s demand for natural gas has grown more than three-fold in the last decade. Scant rainfall in recent years has forced power stations to rely more on gas rather than hydropower, of which Turkey usually has plenty.” (Barysch) As Turkey addresses its own future energy concerns, it is trying to position itself as the EU’s energy hub, transporting gas from both Turkmen and Azeri gas fields.
Turkey’s “heroic” role in aiding the EU through its energy concerns will do more than grant them entry and favor with the EU. Turkey will undoubtedly gain geopolitical and economic leverage with many of the countries to its east and west. To lead such an endeavor will have unimaginable local benefits that could sharply decrease dependencies on Russian energy. Though concrete plans to execute Turkey’s energy ambitions have yet to begin, it is clear that its energy endeavors are very much feasible and have gained consistent popularity amongst its allies and the local populace. Russia, of course, will always remain the wild card.
As Turkey gains influential ties through its energy bargains, its plans have also gained significant support from America, with recent media reports suggesting a kind of mentorship developing for effective energy resources and distribution strategies. “This week, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency awarded a grant to Turcas BM Kuyucak Jeotermal Elektrik Üretim A. Ş. (TBK), a Turkish joint venture owned primarily by BM Holding and Turcas Energy Holding. The grant funds a feasibility study that will evaluate the technical and financial specifications for a geothermal energy project designed to supply 13.2 Megawatts (MW) of renewable energy to the Turkish electrical grid.” (Humphrey) With the support of U.S. public and private sector initiatives, Turkey is actively elevating its overall efficiency and technology and bringing to life the aforementioned energy ambitions. Effectively building rapport with America can potentially provide the energy investments needed to initiate real-time construction over various large-scale projects across the Caspian region.
As Turkey lines all its ducks in a row, it is neither savior of the great energy dilemma nor conspirator against Russia. Rather, Turkey seems to have taken an opportunistic strategy for its diplomatic relations, recognizing flaws and shortcomings in others in order to build on new opportunities and connections. Turkey’s actions are commendable at least for demonstrating a keen intuition for understanding the nuances of international relations and the complexity for developing strategic partnerships. However, these aspirations for Caspian political stardom have the possibility to fail should Turkey not maintain diplomatic equilibrium amongst all of the Caspian players. Considering this is still a somewhat unstable region and the massive partner/rival sitting to the north of the Caspian Sea, it is going to be no small diplomatic achievement should Turkey succeed in pulling all of these deft maneuvers off.
Soft Power Dynamics in Middle Eastern Conflict
The Middle East is synonymous with eternal conflict as being at the cross-point between Africa, Europe, and Asia.
The paper intends to understand how the power could be derived from the cultural roots in a world filled with pre-existing biases based on religious values, nationality, and interpretation of history.
Palestine receives strong international support through social media by sharing its pain and grievances increasing its soft power that hampers Israel’s international relations. A new question emerges can the soft power paradigm be used to resolve the problem?
The roots of the Middle Eastern problem are driven by historical-religious literature which shows the Middle East to be the historic homeland of Jews and they wanted to get back to their original homeland due to two-millennium long suppression that finally ended up as the holocaust.
Israel continues to emphasize and promote stories related to Second World War which help them gain the legitimacy to exist as a state. It is also remarked that the holocaust may have been a decisive condition for the creation of a Jewish state but this action would have occurred sooner or later.
One of the biggest strengths for Israel and its legitimacy comes from the Biblical literature which has some historical stories in it and mentions Israel and Judah in the Middle East providing American Christian Support which seems to be dropping as a result Israel needs to work on its soft power.
A similar strength can be found in Quran for Israeli as Surah Al-Ma’idah in Chapter 5 verse 12 states about the Children of Israel and verse 21 explains that they are “destined to enter and not to turn back else they will become the loser.” These verses motivate Israeli for their cause which raises an interesting phenomenon that some pro-Israeli media would use Quranic verses to gain legitimacy.
History needs to be studied to understand how and where the differences between Jews and Muslims started. Originally there was a peaceful relation between Jews and Muslims but Jews refuse to acknowledge Muhammad a non-Jew as one of the prophets of God which caused the relationship between Jews and Muslims to deplete.
Finally, Banu Qurayza a Jewish community allied with Qurashites against Prophet Muhammad that caused Medina to suffer a war-built hatred towards Judaism.
However, even after looking at the differences Muslims, Christians, and Jews are Abrahamic religions maintaining their base Judaic-monotheistic tradition as both Roman Catholics and Arab previously had polytheistic culture and Israel has indirectly benefitted from this historical fact.
Israel could benefit from various religions by showing show respect to the leaders of Abrahamic religions and even maintain an apologetic attitude on behalf of some of the members of the Jewish community which may have conducted villainous actions as per some stories based on other religious doctrines.
The tower of one’s ego can prohibit supporting the national interest which could only be achieved by becoming softer to gain soft power.
It is argued that the ancient Philistine is related to present-day Palestine. Palestine as a result gets associated with David and Goliath or Samson’s struggle with Philistine. However, the term Palestine is more complicated which had developed in the period.
There are also claims that the Syria Palaestina was constructed as a punishment for Bar Kochba Revolt in 135CE while the name Palaestina given to the region seems to be older than Bar Kochba Revolt and even older than the Roman Emperor Hadrian.
The image of the Israel and Palestine conflict is connected towards mythical combat between David and Goliath. David was an inexperienced youth who later became king of Israel and defeated a giant from ancient Philistine called Goliath.
Some actors who are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause have also connected Palestine with David who was weak at the beginning of the story while they perceive Israel as an unjust giant and the toughest fighter in the region.
The Middle Eastern conflict goes beyond religion and history as it has multiple dimensions due to multiple crimes against humanity causing people to be refugees that inflict social, political, and economic damages.
A medium to obtain soft power is by resolving the humanitarian crisis and Israel being perceived as a perpetrator tampered with its national image.
Israel as an economically advanced country with large spending power can establish economic institutions to raise funds in providing education, training, and employment to victims of that conflict regardless of their religion, ethnicity, gender, or political views who have been scattered around the world which would help Israel gain legitimacy.
The economic recovery of the war victims can minimize some damage enforced upon the national image but there is a strong opinion that the Palestinian community lacks legal rights as being in Israeli jurisdiction. So, political rights might have to be secured to the Palestinians while they have to live in Israel for Israel to create a positive national image.
The Israeli government also create an option for the Palestinian community to have the right to return, granting them protection in Knesset (Israeli Parliament), while promoting Arab Israeli politicians, and can even reflect how they have shaped the Israeli government in the international arena to build Israel’s soft power.
Finally, the last piece of the puzzle is the social affairs which are closely tied to the soft power paradigm.
There is a clear fear that the Jews are eclipsing the social identity of the Palestinian people but in reality, they are closely linked as Arabic language and Hebrew are Semitic languages, their scripts have common Aramaic ancestry, and Halaal and Kosher dietary cultures are also similar.
There should be an effort to study the similarities to build unity and to study unique qualities as to appreciate one another’s differences. Israel could also create Cultural Relations Centers around the world that promote both Jewish and Palestinian language, culture, and cuisine to create respect and solidarity.
There can also be the production of television programs, movies, digital applications which could allow people to understand the Middle Eastern community.
Tel Aviv is the center for the development of many technological advancements and carries great potential to build creative applications and visual storytelling that could help spread awareness about the Middle East.
On the other hand, the Palestinian Authority could request the Israeli government to provide scholarships in various Israeli Universities which could enhance their credential for making effort to create a peaceful world as well as proposing exchange programs by inviting Israeli students to visit regular Palestinian colleges and working spaces decreasing bitterness.
The Palestinian Authority could also pursue Israeli investment in core-Palestinian settlements that could create employment as well as mutual dependence allowing Palestine to grow with a greater bargaining power while maintaining a symbiotic relationship.
Culture, history, and institutions can be combined to create harmony. A key aspect to gain soft power and legitimacy is by becoming softer by showing respect to the opponents while appreciating and accepting others’ viewpoints.
Therefore, the study of religion, history has to be conducted from a neutral perspective that can be trusted by all international actors and could serve as a uniting factor while maintaining an apologetic attitude towards historic mistakes. There needs to be an effort to provide economic and political compensation for the victims which have caused notoriety in the international arena and finally the culture of the two competing communities needs to be celebrated through cultural institutions to build trust and harmony.
Biden-Putting meeting: Live from Geneva
19:00 The places of the flags on the Mont Blanc bridge on which President Biden and President Putin will pass to reach the meeting venue on Wednesday usually hold the flags of the different Swiss cantons. Not today. The American and Russian flags have been placed to welcome the two leaders.
18:00 A day before the Geneva summit: Hotel Intercontinental where the American delegation and probably President Biden himself is staying, how the city looks like a day before the meeting, what are the security measures like, why isn’t the UN involved and are the usual protests expected?
Iveta Cherneva with live video political commentary from Geneva one day ahead of the Biden-Putin Summit
Will the promotion of cricket in GCC add to its Soft Power?
In recent years, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, have been trying to bolster their ‘Soft Power’ in a number of ways; by promoting tourism, tweaking their immigration policies to attract more professionals and foreign students and focusing on promoting art and culture. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has taken the lead in this direction (in May 2017, UAE government set up a UAE Soft Power Council which came up with a comprehensive strategy for the promotion of the country’s Soft Power). Under Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS), Saudi Arabia has also been seeking to change its international image, and it’s Vision 2030 seeks to look beyond focusing on economic growth. In the Global Soft Power Index 2021, Saudi Arabia was ranked at number 24 and number 2 in the Gulf region after the UAE (the country which in the past had a reputation for being socially conservative, has hosted women’s sports events and also hosted the G20 virtually last year)
Will the promotion of cricket in GCC add to its Soft Power?
One other important step in the direction of promoting Soft Power in the GCC, is the attempt to popularize cricket in the Gulf. While the Sharjah cricket ground (UAE) hosted many ODI (One Day International )tournaments, and was witness to a number of thrillers between India and Pakistan, match fixing allegations led to a ban on India playing cricket at non-regular venues for a duration of 3 years (for a period of 7 years from 2003, Sharjah did not get to host any ODI). The Pakistan cricket team has been playing its international home series at Sharjah, Abu Dhabu and Dubai for over a decade (since 2009) and the sixth season of the Pakistan Super League is also being played in UAE. Sharjah has also hosted 9 test matches (the first of which was played in 2002).
Sharjah hosted part of the Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament in 2014, and last year too the tournament was shifted to UAE due to covid19 (apart from Sharjah, matches were played at Dubai and Abu Dhabi). This year again, the UAE and possibly Oman are likely to host the remaining matches of the IPL which had to be cancelled due to the second wave of Covid19. The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup to be held later this year (October-November 2021), which was actually to be hosted by India, could also be hosted not just in the UAE, but Oman as well (there are two grounds, one of them has floodlights). International Cricket Council (ICC) is looking for an additional venue to UAE, because a lot of cricket is being played there, and this may impact the pitches. The ICC while commenting on the possibility of the T20 World cup being hosted in the Middle East said:
, “The ICC Board has requested management [to] focus its planning efforts for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 on the event being staged in the UAE with the possibility of including another venue in the Middle East’
GCC countries are keen not just to host cricketing tournaments, but also to increase interest in the game. While Oman has a team managed by an Indian businessman, Saudi Arabia has set up the SACF (Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation) in 2020 and it has started the National Cricket Championship which will have more than 7,000 players and 36 teams at the school level. Peshawar Zalmi, a Pakistani franchise T20 cricket team, representing the city of Peshawar the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which plays in the Pakistan’s domestic T20 cricket league – the Peshawar cricket league — extended an invitation to the SACF, to play a friendly match against it. It’s owner Javed Afridi had extended the invitation to the Saudi Arabian team in April 2021. Only recently, Chairman of SACF Prince Saud bin Mishal met with India’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Dr Ausaf Saeed, to discuss ways for promoting the game in Saudi Arabia. He also visited the ICC headquarters at Dubai and apart from meeting officials of ICC also took a tour of Sharjah cricket ground.
GCC countries have a number of advantages over other potential neutral venues. First, the required infrastructure is already in place in some countries, and there is no paucity of financial resources which is very important. Second, there is a growing interest in the game in the region, and one of the important factors for this is the sizeable South Asian expat population. Third, a number of former cricketers from South Asia are not only coaching cricket teams, but also being roped in to create more enthusiasm with regard to the game. Fourth, UAE along with other GCC countries, could also emerge as an important venue for the resumption of India-Pakistan cricketing ties.
In conclusion, if GCC countries other than UAE — like Saudi Arabia and Oman — can emerge as important cricketing venues, their ‘Soft Power’ appeal is likely to further get strengthened especially vis-à-vis South Asia. South Asian expats, who have contributed immensely to the economic growth of the region, and former South Asian cricketers will have an important role to play in popularizing the game in the Gulf. Cricket which is already an important component of the GCC — South Asia relationship, could help in further strengthening people to people linkages.
International Criminal Court and thousands of ignored complaints
The civil war in Donbass has been going on for more than seven years now. It broke out in 2014,...
DNA to rediscover a forgotten immigration
The project “Le Vie Aleramiche, Normanno-Sveve”, with the support of the Euro-Mediterranean Federation, after having deepened the linguistic, toponymic and...
Arguing Over Petty Things: Turkish Pop or Poop Art?
Talking about the relationship between art and politics corresponds to an intellectually provocative action for the vast majority. When we...
The Taliban seek cooperation with China?
How to deal with Afghanistan after the removal of US forces has become a subject that many countries are grappling...
United States- Iran Nuclear Crises: Portents for Israel
ABSTRACT: In response to former US President Donald J. Trump’s unilateral American withdrawal from the July 2015 Iran Pact (JCPOA),...
The problems of climate change, part 1
In recent years, increasing evidence has shown that the world is warming. Scientists’ research tells us that the cause of...
The 30th Anniversary of the Visegrád Group: The Voice of Central Europe
The Visegrád group or V4 is a cultural and political union created in 1991, during a conference in the city...
Americas3 days ago
Why Jen Psaki is a well-masked Sean Spicer
Europe3 days ago
EU: The stalemate in negotiations brings Serbia ever closer to Russia and China
South Asia2 days ago
The Taliban Are Back — And Its Fine
Green Planet3 days ago
The Only Way to Stop Global Warming
Middle East2 days ago
Middle Eastern interventionism galore: Neither US nor Chinese policies alleviate
Americas2 days ago
Wendy Sherman’s China visit takes a terrible for the US turn
Intelligence2 days ago
China and Russia’s infiltration of the American Jewish and Israeli lobbies
African Renaissance2 days ago
Thoughts From the Frontline