SCIENTIFIC CONFERENCE AT THE INSTITUTE OF AFRICA OF THE RUSSIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
Keywords: crisis in Arab countries, Middle East, North Africa, Africa Institute
For almost four years now, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has been rocked by another" round " of crisis phenomena. Clashes on ethnic and confessional grounds do not stop here, and the confrontation between various groups is becoming more acute. The Third scientific conference held in November 2014 at the Institute of Africa (IAfr RAS) was devoted to the analysis of these dramatic events and the problems associated with their resolution (the previous ones were held in May 2011 and June 2013).
More than 20 reports were presented. They discussed issues related to the aggravation of socio-economic, political and ethno-confessional contradictions in the MENA region and the emergence of conflicts to a new level; the impact of the Arab crisis on the situation in African countries; ways of further development of the region's countries after the events of the so-called "Arab Spring".
The conference was organized by the Center for Civilizational and Regional Studies of the IAfr RAS and the Laboratory for Monitoring the Risks of Socio-Political Destabilization of the Research University - Higher School of Economics (HSE).
Presentations were made by representatives of a number of leading Russian research centers and universities: IAfr RAS, IB RAS, RUDN University, Institute of Asian and African Studies, Lomonosov Moscow State University, St. Petersburg State University, MGIMO (U) of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Research University Higher School of Economics, etc.
The conference was attended by a representative of the Embassy of the Republic of Sudan in the Russian Federation, Gasim Arbab, as well as employees of the International Center for African Studies in Sudan, who donated several books of the center's employees to the IAfr RAS Library.
Below is an overview of some of the conference participants ' reports.
(Ph. D. in Economics, IAfr RAS) V. Y. Kukushkin described the current situation in the oil and natural gas exporting countries of the North African region after a series of socio-economic, political and military upheavals that began in 2011. In these countries, key sectors of the oil and gas sector were affected, and the prospects for economic development worsened. This mainly applies to Libya, Sudan, South Sudan, and Egypt, and to a lesser extent to Algeria (before the beginning of 2014).
According to the speaker, without socio-political stabilization, as well as radical structural reforms, none of the above-mentioned states will be able to get rid of the problems that have arisen in the economic sector. The way out of the crisis is likely to be particularly difficult and lengthy in South Sudan and Libya. In both countries, it is necessary to re-form the main links of the economic infrastructure and create new mechanisms of public administration. The greatest difficulties are experienced in Libya, where hydrocarbon resources have actually turned from the main sources of development of the national economy into an "economic weapon" that is actively used by opposing groups.
Algeria remains the only North African country with relatively few worrying economic trends. In terms of oil and gas exports, it ranked first among the countries of the region.
(PhD in Economics, MGIMO University) spoke about the situation in the oil-producing countries of the Middle East. The difficult domestic political situation in a number of these countries is "stirring up" the economy and tightening the noose on the main locomotive of the entire economy of the region - the oil sector. According to the speaker, there is a "price war" on the world market of "black gold" with the participation of major exporters of hydrocarbons from the Middle East and the Middle East.
The Middle East. The main player-the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) - does not plan to reduce oil production. In the fall of 2014, this country reduced the price of oil for consumers from Europe. We receive information that discounts will also be provided for US companies. At the same time, KSA, Iraq and Iran are reducing oil and gas prices for their Asian customers.
Speaking about the situation in Iraq, E. O. Kasayev stressed that the activities of the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) cause great damage to the country's economy. IS illegally sells oil from some of its controlled fields in the north of the country. Today, Iraqis rely mainly on the southern infrastructure, however, experiencing a number of technological difficulties, which negatively affected the country's export opportunities. There is reason to believe that Iraq will begin to intensify the supply of raw materials from the Kirkuk field, which is located in the north of the country.
The speaker also touched upon the topic of Iran's oil and gas potential. Following the easing of international sanctions, Iran is open to investment in oil and gas exploration and production. However, the current low oil prices do not contribute to the growth of the Iranian economy. The weakening of the Iranian economy plays into the hands of the KSA, Tehran's long-time counterpart in the region. Receiving low revenues from oil sales, Iran not only feels internal problems, but also is not able to financially support Syria, which is also a regional antagonist of Riyadh.
It seems that the KSA will not change its strategy in the oil market even under the new monarch Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, continuing to fight for the consumer even in the conditions of low oil prices.
(Candidate of Political Science, National Research University Higher School of Economics) L. M. Isaev in his report "Yemen: problems of stability of power" presented an analysis of the current political situation in this state, noting the main features of its destabilization. In many ways, the al-Ahmar clan, which essentially ruled Yemen after Ali Abdullah Saleh left office at the end of 2011, made the same mistakes as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, according to the speaker. As you know, they never managed to offer a way out of the crisis that would suit the majority of the country's political forces. The same thing happened in the Republic of Yemen: attempts to develop projects for its federalization as a means of solving the aggravated internal problems were unsuccessful.
Since the beginning of 2012, there has been a situation in the country in which power has gradually become monopolized in the hands of the al-Ahmar clan and the Al-Islah party and their allies, represented by the Yemeni Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists. This forced their opponents to take tough measures and escalate the confrontation, which, according to L. M. Isaev, predetermined the "revolution of September 21" in 2014.
Another escalation of the situation occurred on January 17, 2015, when the Houthis, supporters of the Shiite Ansar Allah movement, arrested the head of the presidential administration, Ahmed bin Mubarak, on suspicion of attempting to falsify the draft constitution of the country. President Mysore Hadi's attempt to mount a last-ditch challenge to the Ansar Allah movement by relying on security chiefs exposed the paralysis of supreme power in the country and led to the Houthis ' seizure of the presidential palace and the National Security Bureau building. The conditions imposed by Ansar Allah on the authorities proved to be unenforceable, which predetermined the resignation of President Mansour Hadi and Prime Minister Khaled Bahah.
The country has once again been left without a supreme authority, and the key issue for modern Yemen is the future of the south of the country, where separatist tendencies are strong. The Houthis are negotiating with the southern separatist movement al-Hirak on how such different political forces can "get along" on the territory of one state. However, the prospects for maintaining a unified Yemen remain dim.
(Doctor of Historical Sciences, ISAA) V. V. Orlov analyzed the history of the "February 20 Movement" in Morocco. It emerged in 2011 during the events of the "Arab Spring". Organized on the social network Facebook as a youth group, the movement was able to unite the protest potential of various segments of society, encourage people to take to the streets and gather significant masses of Moroccans under its slogans of democratization, fighting corruption, and ensuring a living wage. At the same time, the February 20 Movement has established cooperation with a number of Moroccan parties and public associations. The speaker wondered what allowed this movement to suddenly appear on the Moroccan political scene, mobilize several hundred thousand supporters in a short period of time, and then disappear as quickly as it came into being.
As a kind of incentive for the emergence of the "February 20 Movement" in Morocco, V. V. Orlov cited the collapse of the Ben Ali regime in Tunis in January 2011, which prompted young Moroccans to create groups in social networks and discuss the possibilities of implementing reforms in their country. The speaker analyzed the state's response to the emergence of this movement, methods and principles of working with it.
(Higher School of Economics) G. V. Lukyanov and K. V. Meshcherina (IAfr RAS) discussed the current socio-economic and military-political situation in Libya.
The main focus of Lukyanov's report was made on the military-political confrontation that broke out in the spring of 2014 between supporters of Prime Minister Al-Thani and the Libyan army of General Haftar and Islamists. Beginning with a series of military operations against Islamist groups mainly in Benghazi, the Dignity campaign met with a strong rebuff from the Dawn of Libya alliance of radical forces; the conflict soon engulfed a large part of the country. As a result, the country has developed two parallel structures of power: in Tobruk and in Tripoli. The speaker gave a detailed description of the parties to the conflict and analyzed its main causes and prerequisites.
In her report, K. V. Meshcherina stressed that after the beginning of protest actions in February 2011, the intervention of NATO and the overthrow of M. Gaddafi, the situation in the country did not stabilize at all, and the threat to the existence of Libya as a single state increased. One of the key issues remains maintaining security in the country, establishing control over the armed groups of "ex-revolutionaries", ensuring political stability, and restoring security in the country.
the economy, especially the oil and gas sector, is in fact the only source of foreign exchange earnings in the country, reducing the growth of social tensions.
Moreover, three years after the so-called "February 17 revolution", serious cataclysms have occurred in this State and in the North African region as a whole, which have led to the aggravation of old and new threats of regional and sub-regional proportions. According to the speaker, the Libyan factor has played a kind of "trigger" role in the escalation of the crisis in the Sahara-Sahel region since the beginning of 2012. Tuareg fighters (mostly of Niger and Malian origin, former soldiers of the army of Muammar Gaddafi) joined the detachments of Tuareg militants and the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), increasing their number and combat capability many times over. In January 2012, the MNLA launched a radical uprising that escalated the already tense military and political situation in Mali.
In January 2015, a round of reconciliation dialogue on Libya was held in Geneva (Switzerland), with the aim of finding a peaceful solution to the conflict in the country and developing a constructive approach to control the situation in the future. There is no doubt about the importance of such consultations at the international level, but it is not yet clear where the pendulum will swing.
(IAfr RAS) Noskov spoke about the military-political and socio-economic situation on the territory of Western Sahara, as well as about the peculiarities of its status as a partially recognized state. According to A. Y. Noskov, a major role in the deterioration of the situation in this region was played by differences in the positions of world states and the lack of a clearly expressed opinion of the UN Security Council.
The negative consequences of the long-standing conflict, despite the ceasefire agreement reached, are making themselves felt not only in the Maghreb States, but also beyond its borders, complicating or making impossible the implementation of major infrastructure and political initiatives both in Africa and in the member States of the Mediterranean Union. The report provided data on the resource potential and level of infrastructure development of Western Sahara, as well as difficulties arising from the unresolved political status of the Territory. The speaker described the security problems in the region that arise, including due to the threat of terrorism.
As for the prospects for resolving the conflict, according to the speaker, the main condition for this is to soften the positions of the parties, as well as attract large investors to Western Sahara to implement projects to develop its potential.
The report of E. N. Korendyasov (Ph. D. in Economics, IAfr RAS) was devoted to the politicization and radicalization of Islam in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Events in North Africa have significantly accelerated the development of so-called "African Islam", especially in recent decades. We are talking about the return of the broad masses to religion in general and to Islam in particular. The ideas of secularism and secularism declared in the first constitutions of independent African countries have failed in the eyes of millions of people. Western models of inclusion of African countries in globalization processes have caused widespread disappointment. Religion is put forward as the creator of the development strategy that corresponds to the actual African historical trajectory.
Along with Islam, the weight and influence of Christianity, as well as traditional beliefs, is growing. In many SSA countries, conditions are emerging where politics is unthinkable outside of religion and religion is outside of politics. The events of the "Arab Spring" helped strengthen the position of militant, radical Islam in its extreme forms of manifestation. A particularly dense network of extremist criminal-terrorist organizations and cells operating under the banner of jihadism has developed in the Sahel region. Dozens of al-Qaeda organizations have been active here. Despite a number of setbacks, the project to create an "Emirate of the Sahel" in the Sahara remains a real one. Terrorist activity is growing noticeably here.
(Doctor of Historical Sciences, IAfr RAS) T. L. Deitch focused on the position of the People's Republic of China in relation to the crisis situations in the Arab countries. As you know, the fundamental principle of Chinese foreign policy, including its policy in Africa and the Arab world, is non-interference in the internal affairs of other States. That is why China reacted with restraint to the events in Tunisia and Egypt. However, the spread of the Arab Spring to Libya, where the PRC suffered serious losses, made it recognize the need to create an effective security system in African countries in order to reduce risks and minimize losses in such situations. Beijing has taken a tough stance against France's action in connection with the 2012 events in Mali. Chinese analysts have expressed concern that the French intervention in Mali will set a precedent for "legitimizing neo-interventionism", and potential "jihadists" are becoming more active in neighboring countries, in particular, in Algeria. Beijing is concerned about the involvement in the armed struggle in Syria and Iraq of extremists from the Uighur Muslim separatist group Islamic Movement of East Turkestan (ETIMT).
In conclusion, T. L. Deitch noted that the Beijing leadership has recently expressed its readiness to-
We need to be more active in protecting the interests of our citizens and businesses abroad.
(Candidate of Historical Sciences, IB RAS) B. V. Dolgov spoke about the process of the emergence of the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) (mainly in Iraq and Syria), recalling that at first it was called the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) and was formed back in 2006 during the occupation of Iraq by the US and its allies. After the beginning of the civil conflict in Syria in 2011, ISIL, along with other Islamist groups, actively fought against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The main goal of ISIS was to create a full-fledged legitimate "Islamic State"in Iraq and Syria, as well as in a number of neighboring countries.
Now the "Islamic State", supported by many Islamist forces, is a new phenomenon - the phenomenon of the emergence in a short time of a large hotbed of radical Islamism in the Middle East. The success of IS, according to the speaker, is explained by the fact that it was supported by a part of the Iraqi Sunni clans, who opposed the dominance of Shiites in the Iraqi government and the infringement of the rights of Iraqi Sunnis. And also by the fact that many former soldiers of Saddam Hussein's army - officers, military specialists-joined it. In the future, the policy and actions of the Islamic State can significantly destabilize the situation in the region and increase the risk of the spread of terrorism around the world, including in Russia.
In theoretical terms, according to the speaker, the concept of "Islamic state" is a model of state structure based on Sharia law and the canons of the Koran, the founders of which in recent history are Abu Ala al-Maududi, the founder of the Islamist party "Jamaat-i-Islami" in Pakistan and Sayyid Qutb, the ideologist of the Egyptian association " Muslim Brotherhood".
N. N. Dyakov (Doctor of Historical Sciences, prof. St. Petersburg State University). In his report "The Russian world and the Arab world on the threshold of a new civilizational shift", he developed the idea that both the Russian World (RM) and the Arab World (AM) entered the New Era as two giant historical and cultural areas of the Old World, which remained committed to their spirituality within the framework of the religious tradition-Orthodox and Orthodox. muslim. This tradition, however, was noticeably shaken in the twentieth century by social upheavals - the revolution in Russia and the national liberation movements in the Arab countries. In recent times, especially in the context of the global crisis on the threshold of the XXI century, the AM and RM are becoming the main objects of geopolitical expansion under the slogan of getting rid of" conservative and counterproductive " regimes hostile to the West.
Despite significant historical and cultural differences, both of these "worlds" are characterized not only by the unique geostrategic position of each of them, but also by the richest natural resources. It can be assumed that both the Republic of Moldova and the Republic of Moldova, each in its own way, will continue to defend their identity and the prospect of civilizational growth, despite the aggressive machine of globalization - socio-political, financial, economic, informational, etc.-that continues to come at them.
(Higher School of Economics) A. R. Shishkina devoted her report to the applicability of the concept of civil society, traditionally associated with the Western tradition, to the Arab world, especially in the context of the wave of socio-political destabilization that began in 2011. She turned to the theory of the German philosopher and sociologist Jurgen Habermas, according to which one of the key forms of public formation is the political space, namely coffee shops, clubs, clubs or discussion clubs, where certain issues of interest to the population are discussed. According to Yu. According to Habermas, the spread of print media at one time contributed to the politicization of public life and stimulated the political activity of citizens. Projecting his thoughts on the current situation, the author comes to the conclusion that Internet technologies have significantly contributed to the formation and strengthening of the public sphere in Arab countries.
The speaker noted that such features of the Internet space as ubiquitous distribution, the possibility of feedback, etc., form a fundamentally new logic of public interaction in comparison with, say, traditional media. Accordingly, there are other forms of expressing discontent and protest activity. Most of the communication in this case takes place through the so-called social media.
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Summing up the discussion, scholars of Oriental and African studies noted the importance of discussing and analyzing the situation in the MENA region in the context of increasing instability there and the development of new crisis phenomena. The Chairman of the Organizing committee of the conference, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor I. V. Sledzevsky, noted that it was a significant stage in the study of complex problems of modern international life and made an important contribution to strengthening inter-institute scientific ties. Based on the results of the conference, a collection of scientific articles will be prepared and published in 2015.
The review was prepared by K. V. MESHCHERINA, a post-graduate student at the Institute of Africa of the Russian Academy of Sciences
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