Libmonster ID: U.S.-1281
Author(s) of the publication: N. I. PETROV

EVENTS IN NORTH AFRICA AND THE REST OF THE WORLD THROUGH THE EYES OF POLITICAL SCIENTISTS FROM THE CIS COUNTRIES

KeywordsArab revolutions and forecasts of CIS experts

Events in the North African states are far from over, and political scientists continue to discuss their origins and possible impact on the region, on the political and economic situation around the world.

The Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry's CCI-Inform news agency hosted a round table on "Developments in the Middle East: Causes and Prospects". There were not many participants - only six. But they represented public organizations of five CIS countries specializing in political forecasts. This gave a special flavor to the discussion, as they all viewed the situation in North Africa through the prism of their countries ' historical experience, whether willingly or unwittingly.

The round table meeting was attended by:

- Sevak Sarukhanyan, Deputy Director of the Noravank National Public Foundation, and Sergey Sargsyan, Deputy Director of the Armenian Center for Political Studies (Armenia);

-Head of the information and analytical Internet project "Empire", head of the organizing committee of the movement "For the Union of Belarus and Russia", Candidate of Philosophical Sciences Yuri Baranchik (Belarus);

- Head of the analytical center "Reasonable Solutions", Candidate of Historical Sciences Essen Usubaliyev (Kyrgyzstan);

- Head of the Center for Strategic Assessments and Forecasts, Doctor of Technical Sciences Sergey Grinyaev (Russia);

- Political analyst of the information and analytical weekly "Rush Hour" Vladislav Gulevich (Ukraine).

The "round table" was held in a not quite usual, as they say now, "format". Participants were asked to answer five pre-set questions. These were the answers.

1. How do you assess recent developments in North Africa and their impact on the political and economic situation in the rest of the world? How do they respond in your countries?

Sergey Sarukhanyan: The events in North Africa have shown that in modern conditions, people's discontent is caused not only by general poverty and the difficult economic situation of the population (unrest broke out, including in more or less prosperous countries in this regard). The unfair distribution of income among different segments of the population is perceived extremely negatively. This circumstance should be taken into account by the political elites of many states.

S. Sargsyan: In Armenia, these events are perceived as another proof of the need for increased attention to the implementation of a clear social policy by the state, to the employment of the able-bodied population, especially young people, to create conditions for individual self-realization.

Yu. Baranchik: The world seems to be entering a phase of active redrawing of the political and economic map of the planet. People in many countries see how fast the economic potential is growing, for example, in the BRICS countries, and they would also like to see their states members of the "BRICS club" (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), but this is simply impossible under the existing conservative regimes. If the rapidly developing countries of China, India, and Brazil are joined after the change of political regimes by the states of the Middle East (no matter how fantastic this assumption may seem now), then the leading role of the West in political and economic processes will be greatly shaken. In any case, the West will get a lot of new problems.

As for the response in Belarus, it is significantly lower than the response to our current events - high inflation, rising food prices, etc.-

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vie and gasoline. Everyone is waiting for the next devaluation of the Belarusian ruble, and we are not up to events in the Middle East.

E. Usubaliyev: The Central Asian states have much in common with the North African regimes. The same cronyism, corruption, and unemployment. The worsening economic situation against the backdrop of rising food and commodity prices is typical for all countries in the region; even in relatively prosperous Kazakhstan, protest moods are growing.

Kyrgyzstan has relatively recently experienced a wave of popular protests and a change of government. We have changed not only the president and the government, but also the state structure: the country is now not a presidential, but a parliamentary republic. However, not all political forces are satisfied with the results of the changes. Therefore, the experience of events in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and Libya is being carefully studied, not only by government circles, but also by opposition leaders. Old protest technologies are being improved and new ones are being developed using the Internet and mobile communications. By the way, despite its poverty, Kyrgyzstan is among the leaders in its region in terms of reaching the population with the latest means of communication. Many predict new popular demonstrations, especially in the run-up to the presidential election.

Sergey Grinyaev: Among other things, the events of recent years in the world demonstrate a huge lag in social and economic sciences. Who among the scientists predicted the financial and economic crisis, the aggravation of protest movements in a number of countries? Who answered the question of what should change in society in connection with the "information revolution", which suddenly made it possible to bring hundreds of thousands of people to the square in a matter of hours thanks to the Internet? If scientists were more concerned with these issues, they might be able to find a more "soft" version of the population's protests against the existing order.

We, in Russia, have a lot of talk about the possibility of a repeat of some version of the Middle East events. And the majority is inclined to believe that it is hardly possible. But changes in the world around us happen so quickly, and they have so many options, that, really, you can't really guarantee anything.

Vladimir Gulevich: The French philosopher Paul Virillo put forward the theory of accelerating the development of our civilization. According to this theory, the winner - politically, economically, socially - is always the one who responds faster to the challenges of the time. It seems that the West, and above all the United States, is ahead of everyone in assessing the Middle East events and the "speed of reaction" to them.

At first glance, Ukraine generally sleeps soundly, the authorities did not express any of their attitude to the events in the Middle East. Outwardly, Ukraine's reaction to these events is the reaction of a person on whom nothing depends...

But there are forces in Ukraine that closely follow the events in the Middle East and draw certain conclusions from them. The" Days of Rage "in North Africa show that the resource and technological base of the "color revolutions" is constantly being updated and modernized. Ukraine has already experienced one such revolution, but this does not mean that the scenario written by someone else's hand cannot be repeated. I believe that Ukrainian nationalists will definitely draw conclusions from the unrest in Arab countries. Now it is obvious to everyone that the West does not have permanent friends, and those who until recently were "friends" with Gaddafi are now using military force against him. And one more thing: the confrontation with the authorities is multi-variable, and if one scenario "failed", the organizers of anti-government protests may try to act differently.

2. Are the events on the African continent similar to the" velvet "or" color " revolutions that have recently taken place in other countries? What are the similarities and differences?

Yu. B.: The events in the Arab East do not fit into the well-known schemes of "color revolutions". After all, no one is even trying to attribute the initiation of these events to the West. And in the emergence of such "revolutions" in the post-Soviet space, many of our politicians saw the "hand of the West".

Although, as we know, the West does not hide the desire to" civilize "the Arab states on the model of Turkey and give them more"secularism". But if in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and some others

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If there is a regime change, they are unlikely to become pro-Western, but rather the opposite-their policy towards Western countries will become tougher. In addition, by joining forces, they will be able to form an anti-Western bloc that will be guided by its own vision of political and economic interests.

E. U.: The velvet revolutions were called "velvet revolutions" because they excluded armed confrontation. And in the Middle East, especially in Libya, weapons were used from two sides and from the very beginning. This is a risky path: human sacrifice does not add sympathy to any of the opposing sides. Any protest movement has a "margin of safety": much depends on how long the masses of the people will remain capable of relatively peaceful confrontation in conditions when rapid positive changes in the socio-political situation do not occur. And the confrontation with the use of weapons is more of a "civil war" than a " velvet "or any other "revolution".

S. G.: The difference between the events in North Africa and the "color revolutions" is that modern systems and means of communication, including social networks on the Internet, have become the means of mobilizing people for mass demonstrations. The ruling regimes in the Middle East countries were not prepared for such a development of events, the speed of decision-making was insufficient-hence the defeats in the first days of popular uprisings. Then, however, the authorities "came to their senses", but the time was lost.

In Russia, such technologies have been mastered primarily by young people, including radical organizations. When young people are confronted with "adult life" with its social inequalities and numerous injustices, they break down traditional ideas about good and evil, about honor and dignity, and it is difficult to imagine what events this may lead to...

V. G.: The "Velvet" revolutions took place in different countries, but everywhere there were suspicions that they were being led from one country - from the United States. Events in the Middle East are actively influenced by" second "and" third " states. Shiite Iran, for example, is active in Bahrain, where the Shiite majority is ruled by a Sunni minority. The rise of Shiite rebels in Yemen is provoking unrest in neighboring Oman. The picture of events in the Middle East is much more colorful and complex than the picture of the "velvet" revolutions - it is impossible to see any analogies in them.

3. Recently, it has been increasingly said that the events in the Middle East are a reflection of the contradictions and hidden struggle of two "giants" - the United States and China. Is this true, and what consequences can such a confrontation have for the world?

Yu. B.: In the Middle East, China is not yet playing "on equal terms" with the United States, and it is too early to talk about their confrontation in this region. In my opinion, the confrontation will not begin until 2020, and the" battle", given the presence of huge hydrocarbon reserves in North Africa, promises to be hot. Now China is developing mainly sub-Saharan Africa, where it does not meet with serious resistance from the United States.

The Belarusian public doesn't care about all these problems yet. Much more serious is the attitude to the economic sanctions imposed by the United States, which have already cost our country $1 billion. In the first two months of this year, the trade turnover with the EU countries decreased by 25%. We all fear that if the West has to invest in Arab countries ravaged by popular protests, Belarus ' chances of developing economic relations with Europe and the United States will greatly decrease.

E. U.: In my opinion, the confrontation between the United States and China in the Middle East is obvious. This is a natural struggle for markets, and there is nothing to be surprised about. In fact, the political and economic situation in Central Asia is characterized by exactly the same confrontation. But here, a third player is involved in the struggle for influence in the region - Russia.

In Kyrgyzstan, experts (and ordinary citizens, too) perceive all three countries geographically, psychologically, and culturally in roughly the same way - as "major powers" (I don't want to use the old term "imperialist powers", but it would also be "appropriate"). Each of them pursues its own interests without regard to other States in the region and often to their detriment. Thus, over the years, the process of economic rapprochement between Kyrgyzstan and China has developed, which was facilitated by the common border, the membership of both countries in the WTO and other factors. Kyrgyzstan has long been the center of re-export of Chinese goods to the CIS countries, primarily to Russia, and the economic situation of our country as a whole largely depended on this. Now this process has become more complicated and slowed down, as the conclusion of the Customs Union has opened up a more profitable way for Russia to export Chinese goods-through Kazakhstan.

SG: It is not by chance that the Americans and the West demonstrate their ability to use force in North Africa. This demonstration is part of a covert "economic war" with China, which is also trying to gain a foothold on the African continent. It is important for the Americans to maintain control over the Yemeni port of Aden, from where it is easy to block access to the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, which is the gateway to the Red Sea and the exit to the Indian Ocean. The Strait of Malacca, which is located at the opposite end of the Indian Ocean, has long been controlled by the United States. If they are truly firmly anchored at the entrance and exit to the Indian Ocean, it is easy for them to "cut off" the Chinese from the resources of Africa.

We should also not forget about the American plan for the "Greater Middle East", which provides for the possibility of redrawing (of course, exclusively in the interests of the United States) the borders of 24 states. I don't think that the implementation of this plan would be in the interests of China, or Russia either.

4. Is there a link between the global financial and economic crisis that began in 2007 and recent developments in Africa? What impact will these developments have on the way out of this crisis?

page 4

Sergey Sarukhanyan: Events in North Africa will almost certainly slow down the recovery from the global financial and economic crisis. The chances of Islamists coming to power here are still high, and the states of Europe and the United States will have to spend additional resources on countering radicalism and terrorism, as well as supporting moderate regimes, and, accordingly, invest less in developing their own economies and providing humanitarian assistance to poor states. You can not do without providing loans to countries that have experienced a wave of popular discontent.

As for Armenia, in its desire to get out of the crisis faster, it relies mainly on domestic resources, and therefore the events in North Africa will most likely not affect its economy in this regard.

Yu. B.: Thanks to television and the Internet, millions of people, including those from the poorest countries, now know how people live in highly developed countries, and they want to live the same way. Millions of people have received a good education, but they can't find any use for their knowledge. Everyone wants high standards of living and consumption. These are the causes of the current and future crises, as well as the events taking place now in the Arab East. If the West does not want to repeat them, it needs to learn how to share and reduce its own consumption in favor of other countries and regions.

ED: Although I'm not an economist, I expect the global financial crisis to repeat itself soon. A sharp rise in oil prices, the collapse of important industries in a number of countries (for example, tourism in Egypt) can not just pass for the rest of the world. We can't do without some shocks that are impossible to predict right now.

SG: Most likely, the world expects a further escalation of tension. Today, no one can offer a conflict-free path for the development of civilization. Moreover, we are entering a period of depletion of the most important raw materials - oil and gas. This means that large and small crises are inevitable in the foreseeable future.

Vladimir Putin: The crisis will continue to make itself felt for a long time. After all, its consequences were felt by the poorest segments of the population in many countries. And this increases the bitterness of poor people towards the rich, especially since the property gap between them is constantly growing. Riots on social grounds occur even in very prosperous countries - in the same United States, public servants of the state of Wisconsin recently held protests against the low standard of living. It is no exaggeration to say that the current crisis has "laid time bombs" that may "explode" in the future in the form of new crises and popular unrest. The protest potential in low-income neighborhoods in Asian, African and Latin American cities is very high, and this cannot be ignored.

5. Have events in North Africa affected your assessment of the socio-economic situation in your countries? What lessons can be learned from these events?

S. Sargsyan: Both in Armenia and in Russia, the risks of destabilization of the socio-economic situation are low. And to guarantee their absolute impossibility, we need to step up the search for ways to fully recover and restore our economies - this process has taken an unacceptably long time. The more stable the economic growth, and with it the growth of the population's well-being, the less likely it is that people will take to the squares and streets with protest slogans. And we need to put an end to disputes: which way of development - Singapore, South Korea, Brazil, India or China - is better. At least in Armenia, there are no prerequisites for repeating any of them. This means that you need to find your own path that takes into account your own resources and capabilities.

Yu. B.: The fact that the Belarusian leadership has finally begun to take significant steps towards strengthening the economic and military-political alliance with Russia is to some extent the result of its understanding of the events in North Africa. Our leaders have finally "realized" that "if anything happens," no one will protect the country from humanitarian intervention and the development of events in the Libyan scenario, except for Russia. At the same time, the Russian Federation should not put up with the growing tendencies of dictatorship in Belarus, since an alliance with a state that so seriously violates human rights harms the image of Russia.

Sergey: A strong Russia is a Russia that has freed itself from the image of a raw material appendage. In fact, the same" hydrocarbon appendages "were some North African countries, where people took to the streets - here there is something to think about"those in power". Now we need to take advantage of the current favorable situation on world markets, when dollar globalization has run out of steam and there is no alternative to it. I think we need to be more active in demonstrating our economic independence to the world. For example, the country's credibility will significantly increase if we trade our resources not on international, but on domestic markets, and moreover for rubles. It is also time, not in words, but in deeds, to form a regional financial center in Russia, which may eventually become the center of Eurasian integration.

Vladimir Putin: There are no prerequisites for economic prosperity in Ukraine. On the contrary, it is sliding into debt. And any discussion of events taking place far from our country can only be speculative. Finding your place in Europe is another matter. For Europe, Ukraine is, first of all, a transit state for the supply of Russian hydrocarbons to Europe. If Ukraine disappeared from the political map, the world would forget about it in a couple of weeks. But now, under certain circumstances, it can serve as a lever of pressure on Russia, and the West keeps it in its "reserve". Therefore, the Ukrainian leadership, fearing the wrath of European countries, is afraid to go too close to Moscow. That's what our public is most concerned about right now.

 


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