In the future the Mediterranean issue will realistically be that of dividing it into zones of influence -albeit communicating with one another – and anyway capable of absorbing also the geopolitical and military tension that will emerge in other world regions.
The idea that the Mediterranean can still be a small “European lake” is now to be completely ruled out, because the European Union, but also its individual Member States, or NATO itself have shown they cannot credibly hold any Mediterranean area.
The key event of this demonstration of impotence – and often of frank and overt foolishness – was the Second Balkan War.
As is well known, Tito, alias Josip Broz, died in May 1980.
The clash between Serbs and Slovenes immediately materialized in the Congress of the Yugoslav Communist League on January 20, 1990, but then the army harshly intervened in Slovenia, despite the fact that the secession of the various republics was envisaged by Tito’s Constitution, as also happens in all the Basic Laws resulting from the Communist tradition of the Third International.
We know the rest of the story, but we are interested in seeing how everything is concentrated and merged into that conflict: Islamist radicalisation, at first in Bosnia and later in Kosovo, where petromonarchies and jihad – often combined – entered the scene immediately.
Therefore, the obsession for “minorities” – a naive Americanist dogma – ended up fragmenting Europe and later reducing it to a mockery of sub-optimal rights, laws and statelets.
In the 18th century Germany was made up of 350 small States.
France, Italy and Spain, are now prey to very strong tensions between ethnic groups, linguistic areas and more or less presumed “nations”.
If this fragmentation continues, together with an economic and legal slowdown of the European Union, connected to the very strong immigration from Africa and the Middle East, the European Union will be what Italy was in Count Metternich’s mind, namely “a geographical expression”. Nowadays, however, there will be no American or other troops to save it from the mistakes it has foolishly made and self-inflicted.
This is the first true historical fact.
The second is the Western – especially European – attack on Gaddafi’s Libya which was struck in 2011. A stroke of genius, so to speak, that France had above all against Italy, the true protector of Gaddafi’s Libya.
Jihadists from Cyrenaica, talk about the famous “human rights” – which, when Gaddafi was financing Sarkozy’s election campaign were obviously not a problem – and another attempt to fragment a too big political system for the tiny brain of Western decision-makers: previously Yugoslavia, now Libya.
Now, however, it will be good to say enough is enough. It will therefore be necessary to rethink the Mediterranean in another way, without attempting to make ENI collapse and end in the jaws of Total, or possibly move German companies to Slovenia or Serbia, the only real criterion – at the time – for the division of former Yugoslavia. Today it is not a matter of splitting up, but rather of uniting, if anything.
With a view to immediately rehabilitating Eastern Länder, after reunification, Germany kept its interest rates very high, thus ruining its European competitors.
Germany also sought the break-up of Serbia, while Great Britain and France wanted to use the clauses of the 1920 Treaty.
It was exactly Serbia that strongly resisted the German Reich twice. These things matter. For those who still have it, unlike Italians, memory is a criterion also for judging the present time.
The first rule is to bring into the Mediterranean players capable of opposing the old European regional hegemonies.
Certainly also China. The Belt and Road Initiative currently involves 71 countries, which account for half of the world population and a quarter of the global GDP.
It is hard for the United States to counter this extraordinary mobilization of resources and strategic actions.
Since the United States does not even want to hear about the Chinese 5G, it will be a matter of establishing the areas of influence of the two different technologies.
If the United States does not agree, it may as well go and palm off elsewhere their Five Eyes-style Intelligence Service documentation, which is anyway manipulated and often not fully relevant.
For Asia alone, the World Bank forecasts an investment requirement of approximately 26 trillion U.S. dollars until 2030.
We poor Europeans do not even think of extracting this amount of money for the development of the Mediterranean on our own.
Therefore, it is first of all a matter of organizing a short and very effective “Conference on the Mediterranean”, not only between governments but also between figures who often count more than governments – a Conference capable of redefining the lines of presence of other old and new powers in the Mediterranean region.
China will certainly be able to develop its economic and infrastructure projects in the Mediterranean, but in such a context as to envisage the presence of the Chinese Armed Forces also in the operations for controlling and containing legal and illegal immigration between the Sahel and the whole sub-Saharan region.
The fields of action can be easily defined: let us therefore forget about EUNAVFORMED which, with its very recent IRINI mission, has already demonstrated – if there ever were any need – the irrelevance sine remedio of the European Union.
No ships, in this case, except for a French one, with Italy saying it is coming soon, but also Germany, which is officially distancing itself and break away, and finally Turkey, which is obviously doing its utmost to prevent the mission.
Therefore, the EU is currently paying for the flaw it imposed in the past during the destabilisation phase of the Soviet East: the continuous State and hyper-State factionism. No one to blame but oneself.
Therefore, first of all, a strong Conference for defining the areas of military influence, and hence of possible collaborations, in the Mediterranean region.
Hence China can move in the sub-Saharan area, but for what aim? To obviously have the possibility of exploiting the entire primary sub-Saharan region. And to protect its African development regions in the East. I think China will accept.
France will still be able to endure its African Francophonie. Certainly, but with a series of integrated military mechanisms, present between the Djibouti base, where there is also Italy, but also in other ones, as the one in the Ivory Coast, or the one in Senegal, in the military port of Dakar and in Ouakam.
Here, the mechanism of the New Treaty on the Mediterranean will envisage a parallel presence of Italy, Spain and the United States – if it ever agrees – and also a possible Russian base in the Ivory Coast.
Certainly, by now everything is heading for a new and silly Cold War, but hopefully rationality – at least the scarce and very residual one of the p Union – will make itself heard.
Hence what should the Russian Federation do? Meanwhile, Russia is already in Berbera, on the coast of Somaliland, but it is also interested in Eritrea, as well as in Cabo Delgado in Northern Mozambique. Russia is also present in the Central African Republic, but it also trains the Armed Forces of Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.
Well, there is no point crying over the milk spilt by the Europeans’ clumsy pacifism.
Within the new division of the Mediterranean, for the Russian Federation there could also be a naval base in Cyrenaica, but less relevant than the one planned together with General Haftar, as well as a new Russian economic presence in the West African coasts, in Benin, Cape Verde, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.
For the Mediterranean coasts, we can think about a specific, but obviously not exclusive, development area for Russia, but between Egypt and Morocco.
No one will ever have exclusive zones in the Mediterranean, but all the participants in the New Mediterranean Pact will have a “supervision zone” for their primary development areas.
With a view to ensuring the military stability of the region, we can also think about a Mediterranean Bank, which will be integrated with the primary Investment Banks of the participating countries and will evaluate the new candidates’ proposals. As Napoleon used to say, money makes wars.
A good option would also be a sort of “Integrated Allied Command of the Mediterranean” among all the present Forces. I am perfectly aware it would be a matter of having a unified Command with Russia and China, but the United States should tell us whether it wants to stay seriously in the Mediterranean or if it wants to leave – as for NATO according to President Trump – because the issue is obviously essential.
If others in the world think that the problem of the Mediterranean is only the sloppy and careless theory of “terrorism”, it should be clearly said.
If, on the contrary, it is thought that the issue is broader and more complicated, then it would be good for the United States to participate in a non-NATO South Mediterranean Committee with other States and Organizations.
Also with this new Mediterranean Bank, Spain could stabilize both its old enclaves and enter the great sub-Saharan system, between Algeria and Morocco, which are traditional points of reference for Spain.
The Sahel and the Gulf of Guinea are essential for Spain both for military security and for the purchase of oil and gas.
For France, there are also 1,100 companies with over 2,109 branches in Africa.
The abandonment of the CFA Franc in favour of the ECO is a historic event, but the ECO will anyway be stabilized with respect to the Euro and guaranteed by France.
Here there is a severe problem: either we create a “Mediterranean” currency, which runs parallel to local currencies (here we will not make the same mistake as the Euro), or we plan an area of non-fixed exchange rates. But the idea of a secondary currency would not be bad.
France, however, would certainly not agree. The new Mediterranean currency could also be a mere currency of account, which remains in the Mediterranean but cannot be exchanged in sub-Saharan Africa.
What about Italy? There are approximately 30,000 US military and civilians in Italy.
The problem is that the undeniable economic crisis will lead to a sub-optimal contraction of the Italian Defence budget compared to the U.S. and Italian needs in the Mediterranean region.
Greece may certainly not be a strategic substitute. Now Italy has very different interests in the Mediterranean region, but not necessarily in conflict with the United States.
Hence what can be done apart from the strategy of distributing Nutella to children? The answer is simple: immediately choose our own proxies in Libya – but I am afraid it is too late – and later think about an operational strategy for political and economic penetration in the Mediterranean region and hence also in Africa.
Where? In Central and Southern Africa, but also in the South African Confederation.
Hence Sahel, where most of the migration flows originate, as well as fight against the Islamic State in Southern Sahara, and finally Italy’s participation in the Takuba Force, again between Sahel and the neighbouring countries. However, it is a Force with European-style Rules of Engagement (ROE) – hence in this case reference is again to be made to the above stated Nutella strategy.
With a now superhuman effort of strategic imagination, Italy could pass through the Sahel and Sudan’s border to Tunisia and its neighbouring areas, thus avoiding the Libyan chaos, in which it should operate differently, and later reach the Southern borders of Egypt, Morocco and Algeria.
In this new accurate division of areas of influence, Italy could deal mainly with the Mediterranean coasts and security, while other countries could deal – but obviously not without Italy – with the “poor” and immediate industrialization of the Southern Mediterranean coasts.
Both the new Committee for Mediterranean security, made up of all the countries bordering on the Mediterranean or anyway interested in it, and the above stated Mediterranean Bank, which could act both as a backer of coastal States and as a medium and long-term supporter of the national and international companies present in the Mediterranean Sea, could prove to be useful.
Hybrid Warfare Against Pakistan: Challenges and Response
The term ‘hybrid warfare’ entered the strategic lexicon in the early 21st century despite having been practiced in various forms for a long time. It is defined as a blend of both kinetic and non-kinetic options to offset conventional power dynamics. Hybrid warfare includes extensive use of tools like spreading disinformation, propaganda, economic coercion, backing proxy militia and cyber-attacks to achieve strategic objectives. In modern times, owing to the exponentially high cost of men and material used in traditional warfare, not only the great powers but various middle powers engage in hybrid warfare in order to destabilize, demoralize and disintegrate their core adversaries.
The advancement in technology over the 21st century encourages the blending of the different modes of warfare making hybrid warfare a practical option for meeting political objectives. The aspects of ambiguity and deniability that accompany hybrid warfare, make it an attractive option for states to exercise subtle power – they do not have to fear attribution and retribution. Hybrid warfare has become more popular because of the issue pertaining to major wars. The arrival of nuclear weapons in the 20th century even to India and Pakistan, and the different major wars have made conventional warfare much riskier. The consequences of the major wars have led to a transformation in how these wars are viewed. States that want to exert their influence have found other means to do so. There is an on-going debate in the UN about the serious consequences of the internet that can be constituted as acts of war. Its warfare without any direct violence.
Pakistan’s arch enemy, India, has constantly been waging hybrid warfare against Pakistan since partition but it has been recently expedited with increased funding, training of a separatist militia, through economic subversion by politicizing international bodies such as FATF and carrying out diplomatic sabotage in the form of disinformation campaigns disclosure by EU Disinfo Lab. Though the decision was motivated by the political objective of placing Pakistan on the grey list, India’s hybrid warfare against Pakistan jeopardizes South Asia’s stability.
India’s main objective when it comes to hybrid warfare against Pakistan is it to keep Pakistan politically and economically unstable. This helps achieve certain other goals like preventing the rise of Pakistan’s power in Kashmir and pressuring Pakistan to settle on India’s terms in issues like Siachen and Sir Creek. India has tried to employ numerous tools to wage this warfare against Pakistan at the different levels.
India is trying to build a narrative, especially among Indian Muslims and Kashmiris that Pakistan is a failed or failing state and the partition of the Indian sub-continent was huge mistake. They are also generating the idea that the Indian Muslims are far superior to the Pakistanis and even the Bangladeshis. The hybrid warfare against Pakistan also has its internal dynamics, as it is very much part and parcel of India’s domestic politics particularly around elections. Even the Hindutva intoxicated BJP came to power by employing this strategy. India has also given rise to the narrative that she always tried to build good relations but the Pakistani military does not let the relations normalize. Also, it is the Pakistan Army, which is not allowing a solution to the Kashmir dispute because when Pakistan and India were engaged in backchannel diplomacy to work out a solution on the basis of President Musharraf’s four-point formula, it was the Pakistan Army which conducted, supported and funded the Mumbai attack of 2008. Thus, the Pakistan Army is portrayed as a major problem when it comes to Pakistan. It is also being projected that Pakistan’s defense expenditure is illogical as it needs to invest more in its development rather than the armed forces to defend itself against India. India is also exploiting the fault lines of Pakistan – Baluchistan and CPEC. Pakistan is also blamed for not allowing regional peace and integration. India links Pakistan to the Taliban at international level. Certainly, India’s main aim is to weaken the social contract of Pakistan by creating restlessness, divisions and instability within the country.
Pakistan needs a well calibrated strategy in how to counter India’s move at every platform. Therefore, it is the need of the hour to understand the nature of hybrid warfare while concentrating on Pakistan’s social and political harmony. More importantly, we need to realize the potential of CPEC. There must be good governance based on deliverance to overcome the vulnerabilities. There is no denying the fact that this is an era of multilateralism, but multilateral approach works well when there are healthy bilateral relations. While it is good to host conferences and seminars, there is a need for more practical action. We live in world were information spreads quickly. Hence, we need a counternarrative to India’s narrative of ‘talks and terrorism cannot go side by side’ but unfortunately Pakistan always acts in an apologetic manner. The media can potentially be the face of any state but in the case of Pakistan, the media does not care and there is no policy-based discussion between the media and the government. Also, Pakistan does not have enough English news channels to portray the positive image of Pakistan. Furthermore, every part of Pakistani society including the media, the civil society and academia should collectively respond to India’s hybrid warfare against Pakistan. For all of this to be successful, Pakistan’s immune system must be protected through socio-political harmony and improved governance. Last but not the least, India may not be able to sustain its economic lure for long, therefore, India must stop this hybrid warfare against Pakistan, and resume diplomatic activities for stability and prosperity of the region.
How Putin’s Russia is Exploiting Jihadists Against pro-Navalny Protesters?
Who is Putin’s terrorist: Navalny or Jihadist?
Russia’s strongman Vladimir Putin is considering using old tactics to stem the growing wave of nationwide protests in support of his fiercest critic, popular opposition leader Alexei Navalny. This tactic was developed in the late 90s by the KGB ideologists and successfully applied in order to bring to power Vladimir Putin, who is ruling the country with an iron hand longer than all his Soviet predecessors except Joseph Stalin. The tactical skills of the Putin’s policy architects were aiming to frighten Russian citizens by Islamist terrorism and Chechen separatism and unite patriotic and nationalist forces around a new leader capable of challenging the West.
Thus, when the nationwide protests in support of Navalny from Yakutia to Kaliningrad became the most serious challenge, the Kremlin began to trumpet the threat of Islamist extremists and international terrorists. This time, the Putin regime is intimidating protesters with impending terrorist attacks of Central Asian and Caucasian jihadists and their Syrian parent organization, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).
On the eve of the next nationwide protests on February 14, the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Investigative Committee and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russia warned of the inadmissibility of calls to participate in an unsanctioned rally. Russian state news agencies RIA Novosti and TASS have disseminated information that the most powerful Sunni militant faction of HTS in northern Syria is preparing a series of lone-wolf attacks during the upcoming mass street protests of Navalny’s supporters in various Russian cities. In doing so, however, the pro-Kremlin media cited its undisclosed law enforcement sources and ultimately spread merely conspiracy theories.
According to anonymous sources of Russian security services, HTS-backed Uzbek Jihadi battalion Katibat Tawhid wal Jihad(KTJ), Chechen militant groups Ajnad al-Kavkaz (AK) and Jaysh al-Muhajirin wal-Ansar (JMA) are planning to carry out explosions and attack protesters. To achieve these purposes, terrorist groups allegedly recruited Russian citizens and Central Asian migrants, who expect their leaders’ commands.
The Putin regime faced the most serious challenge when anti-government protests took place across the Russia in support Navalny in recent weeks. As is known, in mid-January, Navalny returned to the country after recovering from a chemical Novichok poisoning that nearly took his life and was immediately detained and later jailed for alleged parole violations. The robust Putin regime first demonstrated its grave alarm when tens of thousands pro-Navalny protesters demanded his resignation in more than 100 cities and towns, chanting Putin as a ‘thief’. Police detained more than 11,000 people at what they say were unsanctioned protests that the Moscow condemned as illegal and dangerous.
Alexei Navalny’s political creativity and tactical skill inspired Russian liberal youth weary with the corruption-plagued political order presided over by Putin. Fierce clashes between protesters and riot police during the mass rallies indicate that a new generation is not afraid of arrests and the repressive state machine. And to stop the pace of marathon confrontation with the opposition, Putin resorted to his long-standing KGB tactics, intimidating society with possible terrorist attacks and explosions by Islamists.
Will Uzbek and Chechen Jihadists hit pro-Navalny Protesters?
But the fact is, it’s not the first time Putin’s Russia has intimidated society with possible terror attacks by Islamist terrorists and Chechen separatists to achieve political goals. During the transition of power from Boris Yeltsin to Vladimir Putin at the end of the second millennium, Kremlin ideologists successfully tested anti-Islamist tactics to overcome the challenges of the political opposition. The ideologists of Putin’s election campaign created his image as a decisive and strong leader, the one who can defeat Islamist terrorism, Chechen separatism and preserve the integrity of Great Russia. His image as the only savior of the Russian Empire was accompanied by radio and television spots and news about the atrocities of Chechen militants and their beheading of Russian soldiers.
Meanwhile, there is a conspiracy theory in Russian political circles that the powerful FSB orchestrated apartment bombings in the Russian cities of Buinaksk, Moscow and Volgodonsk in 1999 to boost Putin’s approval rating aiming to ensure his victory in the presidential elections. As a result of these “terrorist attacks”, 307 people were killed, more than 1,700 people were injured. Russian officials concluded that there was a “Chechen trail” in the bombings, but no proof of their involvement was adduced. Many still doubt the results of the investigation and consider Putin to be the culprit of this tragedy.
That’s when Putin uttered his famous phrase: “We will pursue the [Islamist] terrorists everywhere. If they are in an airport, we’ll kill them there. If we catch them in the toilet, we’ll exterminate them in the toilet.” Many still believe that the apartment bombings and the FSB’s tactic against Islamist extremists catapulted Putin into the presidency. Putin soon launched a second war in Chechnya and emerged victorious in the intra-Kremlin struggle. His ratings soared. He met with huge approval in a society weary from the economic collapse, corruption and crime of the Yeltsin era.
Usually people prefer to keep quiet about this tragedy. Russian political figures Sergei Yushenkov, Yuri Shchekochikhin, Anna Politkovskaya, Alexander Litvinenko, and Boris Berezovsky worked to unravel the mystery of apartment bombings. But all of them were brutally murdered under mysterious circumstances. Ultimately, the Kremlin’s tactics to combat Islamist terrorists not only helped to rocket Putin to the political Olympus, but also increased Islamophobia, nationalism and chauvinism in Russian society.
Today, even 22 years after Putin came to power, the Kremlin’s ideologists have begun to intimidate Russia’s liberal society with likely Islamist terrorist attacks again as the nationwide protests seriously threaten his regime. This illustrates the regime exhaustion and the lack of confidence in face of the strategic sophistication of Navalny’s team.
So far, neither HTS, nor Central Asian and North Caucasian Salafi-Jihadi groups have officially responded to the FSB on the plotting of terrorist attacks in Russian cities during opposition rallies. However, in encrypted Telegram chats, Uzbek and Chechen jihadists actively discussed the “leak information”.
Thus, one of the KTJ’s followers on Telegram under the name Al Hijrat said in Uzbek: “Kafir Putin frightens his people with the just sword of Allah.But the people of the blessed land of Sham know that he himself is the main terrorist. Russian infidels and Putin’s Nusayri puppy (Alawites regime of Bashar al-Assad) bomb Greater Idlib to destroy Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah. Executioners will have to hold a harsh response before the Almighty for their crimes.”
A pro-Jihadi chat “Inspire” in Telegram wrote in Russian: “the information about the impending attacks by Ajnad al-Kavkaz is fake. The authorities are trying to hold Russia’s awakening people from mass protests against Putin’s criminal group. To intimidate civilians, the Russian siloviki (FSB) can and are ready to commit terrorist acts, blaming HTS for this, which are not interested in what is happening there in Russia. The Putinists have a lot of experience in killing their own citizens and blowing up their houses.” In this message, Chechen militants indirectly protect HTS from accusations by pro-Kremlin media on impending terrorist attacks in Russian cities during opposition protests. This is no coincidence, since Ajnad al Kavkaz is known for its close ties with HTS.
On Telegram channel, some Russian-speaking jihadists from the post-Soviet space mocked at the ‘leaked information’, some expressed their anger against the “Russian occupants” in Sham, some advised protesters to be vigilant before the FSB provocation. A pro-Jihadi chat Icharkhoin Telegram recommended Muslims of Caucasus be ready for new repressions of Russian infidels and local Murtad (apostate), because after the bombings of houses in Volgodonsk, Putin started the 2-Chechen war and took away the independence of Ichkeria. The Telegram chat “Muhajireen” says that the Kremlin is preparing for a harsh suppression of the mass protests.
It is not the first time the Russian authorities have accused Central Asian and North Caucasian Jihadi networks of organizing terrorist act. On April 3, 2017, the Russian FSB blamed KTJ for the bombing on a subway train in St. Petersburg that killed 16 people and injured 67 others. On October 15, 2020, the FSB once again accused the Uzbek KTJ militants of preparing subversive and terrorist acts in Russian cities of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Ufa, Maikop and Volgograd. In a statement, the intelligence services claimed that during the counter-terrorist operation, they prevented explosions and eliminated two members of KTJ. Then FSB distributed photos and videos of firearms, ammunition, IED’s chemical components, and religious literature seized during the operation.
On October 16, 2020, KTJ in its statement denied the Russian authorities’ accusation in these attacks. The Uzbek militant group stated that “according the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’s policy, our activities are limited to the territory of Sham, and we do not conduct jihadi acts outside of it.” Further, KTJ assured via its Telegram channel that it “does not have its cells in Russia and is not involved in organizing terrorist acts there.”
Jihadi factor of Russian democracy
The Russian authorities often make thunderous statements about plotting terrorist attacks by “international terrorist groups” and how siloviki (FSB) successfully prevented its. This time, trumpeting about terrorist plots by HTS and its foreign subsidiaries during mass protests in various Russian cities, Moscow hoped to hit two birds with one stone. First, the Kremlin hopes that alarm on terrorist attacks could become a cold shower for Navalny’s supporters, as a result of which the activity of protesters will subside and the scale of the rallies will decrease. Second, by accusing HTS of plotting terrorist attacks, Russia is trying to justify its bloody bombing in northern Syria before the international community.
However, experts on jihadism and political Islam were skeptical about accusations of HTS for plotting terrorist attacks in Russia.HTS, Syria’s most powerful rebel group, is trying to implement a new strategy to transform itself from a global jihadist outlook into a local “moderate national liberation movement”. Today its new agenda is entirely dedicated to Syria and the Syrian local Sunni community. Within this new strategy, HTS severely restricted external attacks by its subsidiaries – Central Asian and North Caucasian Salafi-Jihadi groups –KTJ, AK and JMA. Consequently, HTS, which holds the last major rebel bastion in Idlib province and backs the local Salvation Government, is focused only on the internal Syrian jihad than organizing external terrorist attacks.
HTS emir Abu Mohammed al-Julani is well aware that any terrorist attacks in Russia could place his group among the global terrorist organizations, such as ISIS and al Qaeda, from which he decisively disavowed. HTS pursues a pragmatic approach to the political context, and its external attacks outside of Syria could undermine its fragile legacy, which Julani has achieved with great difficulty.
According to the new strategy, HTS has excluded Central Asian and local hardliners from its ranks. Those jihadists who did not want to submit to its new policy, such as former KTJ emir Abu Saloh al-Uzbeki and HTS Shura Council member Abu Malek al-Talli, were arrested or taken out of the Syrian jihad zone. Given the ability of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham to pressure Russian-speaking militant groups to abandon its global jihadist ambitions, it can be concluded that the Russian FSB’s accusation against HTS raises many questions.
In conclusion, the Russian authorities alert about Islamists terrorist attacks during pro-Navalny protests is aimed at an internal audience and pursues exclusively domestic political goals. And these goals are clear as plain as the nose on the face. Using these methods, the Kremlin wants to stop the turbulent development of mass protests and divert the attention of people from the Navalny factor. If they succeed, the authorities will take time out to gather strength for the parliamentary elections in the fall of 2021.But if the wave of protests grows ever stronger and threatens Putin’s regime, then a repetition of the 1999 scenario is quite possible. As then, radical Islamism and terrorism can become a starting point for strengthening authoritarianism in Russia.
Corona pandemic: Realism limitation in solving 21st century security threats
Today, most serious threats of the 21st century are not ones we can protect ourselves by using armies or advanced weapons. Indeed, the popularity of extreme-right politics, unilateralism based on nationalism and COVID-19 are threatening the world’s post-war security architecture.
The state-based unilateralism and the trends of national response to the 21st century’s biggest security threat trigger lack of coordination, diplomatic divisions, and incoherent global answer to COVID-19. Hence, as we face the biggest challenge of the contemporary century today, we need to rethink the very nature of our comprehension of national security threats. By doing so, we need a different approach to facing security threats.
With the Corona pandemic as a security threat, one of the foundational international relations theories, the realism, has been revealed to be far limited in terms of its explanatory power than it declares. The argument is that realism has a valid logic and reasons for confidence since answers to the pandemic have confirmed the supremacy of sovereign states, the grounds for the state’s power competition. Nevertheless, the pandemic also presents realism’s weaknesses as a source for successful policy answer to this security challenge. In other words, realism is better at defining risks and threats than suggesting solutions. Put simply, realism’s explanatory power lies in diagnosis rather than treatment or prevention. To make this clear, one insight the theory emphasizes is the representation of states as the fundamental actors in world politics.
As the coronavirus hit, states shifted quickly to close or tighten international borders, controlled movement within their borders. However, while much independent national action is understandable from a realism’s point of view, it’s insufficient. Unilateralism and state-based measures, such as border controls did not spare states from the pandemic, and unilateral measures risk ending up in national economic and social crisis.
To fight the Corona pandemic most efficiently, policymakers will have to shift to other theoretical traditions to overcome this security threat. They will depend more and more on greater international openness, trust and cooperation. Hence, while from the realism’s view, unilateral and state-based actions may serve national interest to fight the pandemic “within the national borders”, the pandemic is a global security threat and thus remains unsolved so long as other states and non-state actors have not done the same and states move on unilaterally.
Solving global crises and security threats such as a pandemic, similar to world economic or other security crises cannot be solved based on the realist considerations of zero-sum competitive logic. Instead, transnational security threats, such as Coronavirus, is unmasking the limitations of individual states actions in the global system. Thus, while realism does an excellent job of “diagnosing the problem”, it does not offer solutions to that problem.
Considering the necessity of worldwide medical items and actions, coordinated and offered by international organizations and non-state actors, the uncoordinated state-based actions result in an ineffective solution to this security crisis. The perspective this article aims to offer is that given the limitations of realism, we need more faith in international transboundary cooperation based on mutual trust, especially trust vis-a-vis international institutions. However, neither the United Nations nor the World Health Organization (WHO) nor any other non-state actor can overcome the Coronavirus on its own; nor non-state actors such as international institutions are alternatives to national states in international relations.
Instead, they are an instrument of foreign policy and statecraft and states need to rely on them, incorporating them in finding solutions to global security threats. According to constitutionalists, Robert Keohane and Lisa Martin, “States are indeed self-interested, but cooperation is often in their interest and institutions help to facilitate that cooperation.”
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