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INTERVIEW

‘China’s breakthrough no miracle, but result of patient development strategy’

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Rémy Herrera, a researcher at the University of Panthéon-Sorbonne and the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), the largest research centre in France and the largest basic research centre in Europe, assessed China’s development dynamics from the past to the present. 

A former consultant to the OECD and the World Bank, economist Rémy Herrera is also a former secretary of the World Forum for Alternatives (WFA) and a member of the International Crisis Observatory (OIC). 

One of France’s leading Marxist economists and one of the most important critics of neoclassical economics, Rémy Herrera analyses not only the financial and socio-economic causes of the crises of capitalism, but also the countries that have adopted different development models by choosing alternative political-economic approaches to capitalism. In his work, Herrera takes a historical perspective on economic developments in Asia and Latin America, particularly in China and Cuba, and challenges the Eurocentric approach of the neoliberal school in its economic analyses of developments in these countries.

Remy Herrera answered Ferhan Bayır’s questions on the Chinese economy.

Let’s start with your books on China. Based on your research and observations during your visits to China, how do you interpret the much-discussed Chinese miracle?

Many people who comment on the high growth rate of China’s gross domestic product (GDP) that has been observed for decades use the term “miracle” to describe this phenomenon. In my view, it is not a miracle, but rather the result of a development strategy that has been planned and patiently and effectively implemented by the state and senior officials in successive Communist Party-led governments in this country.

Almost everywhere, in academic circles and in the dominant mainstream media, we read and hear that the “rise” of the Chinese economy is due solely to its “opening up” to globalisation. I would like to add that such rapid growth was only possible thanks to the efforts and achievements of the Maoist era. This opening up to globalisation has been strictly and continuously controlled by the Chinese authorities. It is only under this condition (control) that the opening up to globalisation can be considered to have contributed to the country’s undeniable economic success. This opening to globalisation has been able to have such a positive impact on China in the long term because it has been fully consistent with a coherent development strategy and has been subject to the imperatives of meeting domestic objectives and domestic needs.

It must be clearly understood that without the development of such a development strategy, which was clearly the work of the Chinese Communist Party, and – it must not be forgotten – without the energy expended by the Chinese people in the revolutionary process of implementing this development strategy, if the Chinese Communist Party had integrated the country into the world capitalist system, it would inevitably have led to the complete destruction of its national economy, even of its own existence, as has happened in so many other countries of the South and East. We must remember one fundamental point: For more than a century before the victory of the revolution in October 1949, “opening up” for the Chinese people meant first and foremost capitulation, destruction, exploitation, humiliation, decadence and chaos.

How does China’s success differ from Western development models?

The success of the development strategy implemented by the Chinese government and the many positive effects it has brought to the people of this country stand in stark contrast to the failure of the neo-liberal economic policies implemented in Western countries, which have generally been economically, socially, culturally and even morally disastrous for workers in the countries of the North.

Let me give a concrete example. The strength of Chinese state-owned enterprises is that they are not managed like Western international companies. Listed on the stock exchange and operating according to the logic of shareholder value, share appreciation and rapid return on investment, which requires maximising dividends paid to owners, these Western companies operate by squeezing a chain of subcontractors, local or international. But Chinese state-owned groups do not behave in this way. If they did, they would be acting in a way that would harm local small and medium-sized enterprises and, more broadly, the entire national industrial fabric. The compass that guides the majority of China’s large state-owned enterprises to profit or become profitable is not the enrichment of private shareholders, but the prioritisation of productive investment and customer service. Ultimately, it does not matter to Chinese SOEs that their profits are lower than those of their Western competitors, as long as they serve higher, long-term or national strategic interests, including stimulating the rest of the local economy and looking beyond the immediate vision of profit generation.

Can this model be defined in terms of a neoclassical or neo-Marxist model?

First of all, I believe that the Chinese do not see their development strategy as a “model”, nor do they seek to impose or export their development strategy. They simply believe that there are certain lessons to be learnt by different peoples of the world, but that different peoples with their own specific historical, social and cultural conditions should determine the ends and means of their own development. This perspective is also very different from the Western vision, which wants its “model” to be followed by all the countries of the world.

Neoclassical models have no place in China. Allow me to add that neoclassical economics, which is the hegemonic current or mainstream in economics today, serves no other purpose than to provide a theoretical and pseudo-scientific justification for the implementation of neoliberal policies, an ideology that opposes the practice of social justice and the development of public services. In reality, neoclassical economics is not a science but a science fiction or, as I have argued in a recent book (Confronting Mainstream Economics for Overcoming Capitalism), an ideology that claims to be scientific.

On the other hand, I believe that Marxism has not yet been overcome scientifically. I do not think that Marxism has any serious competitors today. Marxism remains relevant, not least because we still live in a world where the capitalist system is globally dominant, although there have been significant changes, and where a careful explanation of these changes is needed. Despite the numerous attacks on Marxism since its emergence, and despite the repeated claims that it is obsolete – that it is dead – Marxism is enduring, resilient, I would say “indestructible”, and at the same time Marxism is the main theoretical reference point for those thinking about the ways and conditions for a better world. Despite its frequent dogmatisation and the disappearance of the USSR and the Soviet bloc, sometimes to its detriment, Marxism today retains its essence and remains an irreplaceable reference for those struggling for socialism. It is therefore not surprising that it remains an important theoretical reference for China.

Has China based the implementation of its economic model on theoretical foundations?

I would say that the Chinese development strategy, aimed at maintaining and deepening the socialist transition, is based on a theoretical combination of elements drawn from both the main philosophical currents of traditional Chinese thought (especially Confucianism and Taoism, but also various other currents) and a mixed Marxism reinterpreted and modernised in the Chinese style. But it must be understood that this theory is closely linked to the analysis of practical experience. All this (the aforementioned theoretical structure and the analysis of practical experience) has made it possible to provide answers and appropriate solutions to today’s challenges and, in particular, to the many contradictions arising from them.

The Chinese concept of “socialism of the new era” is patient, persistent, concrete, pragmatic and effective, and at the same time it is not Manichaean (evaluating situations and things in a dualism according to absolute principles of good and evil, without nuances and intermediate states); it knows the long term and is not afraid of confronting contradictions or oppositions (e.g. those related to individual initiative or entrepreneurship), which are seen as complementarities and potentials rather than exclusions and substitutes.

One of the lessons to be learnt from “Chinese Marxism” is the idea of seeking harmony between opposites, within man, between people, between man and nature. Chinese political discourse emphasises ‘social harmony’ and ‘stability’ as fundamental values, and the search for ‘compromise’ and ‘consensus’ as the means to achieve them.

There are many concepts in Chinese Marxism which differ from the concept of “class struggle” in Western Marxism, and which Western Marxism generally views with suspicion as characteristic of conservative regimes. To ignore these concepts is to forget their special meaning in Chinese thought as “reconciliation of opposites” and “positive dialectics”. These concepts mean, for example, that there is a dynamic balance between individual self-interest and social needs, between individual and collective interests, and between needs and moral demands. To simplify, we can say that since Mao, the Chinese have believed in a form of progress based on spiral development that tends to smooth out and mitigate contradictions. In this context, socialism ceases to be a project of perfection (a vision alien to Chinese thought, a vision that rebels against the absolute) and becomes a process of construction in motion.

How would you assess the similarities and differences between China’s economic model and that of the post-World War II Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe or the Balkans?

For some years, the People’s Republic of China maintained a “Soviet-style economic model”, which was introduced immediately after the victory of the October Revolution in 1949. However, the PRC abandoned this model when it broke away from the USSR in the early 1960s. After joining the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA or COMECON) in 1950, China left in 1961 and decided to formulate its own development strategy, on its own and for itself. And, frankly, it did so much more effectively than the Soviet Union or the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

Between 1978 and 1982, China faced a series of economic problems that reflected the difficulties of the post-Mao transition and the implementation of the so-called “opening-up” structural reforms. In particular, the period 1985-1986 saw the introduction of the 1984 tax reform, which was one of the turning points towards a market economy. Then, during the collapse of the USSR and the Soviet bloc, there was a very short-lived experiment that could be described as “neo-liberal”, which was quickly interrupted and abandoned, but the result of this experiment was a sudden and severe economic downturn in 1990-1991, accompanied by an explosion of corruption. It must be acknowledged that the Chinese central government has since fought corruption with great vigour and some success. Fortunately, China has rejected the neo-liberal option that has devastated so many economies around the world. And it has chosen to maintain socialism, which today provides a measure of prosperity for the vast majority of its population.

To what extent do Western Marxists who claim that China has adopted capitalist methods correctly assess China’s financial/wealth growth?

In debates among Western Marxist writers, the vast majority of authors argue that the Chinese economy is capitalist. David Harvey, for example, says that he sees the Chinese economy as “neoliberalism with Chinese characteristics”, where since the 1978 reforms there has been a kind of market economy with more and more neoliberal components, operating within a framework of centralised control that he describes as very authoritarian. I disagree with him. Panitch and Gindin analyse the consequences of China’s integration into the world economic system and see it less as an opportunity for China to redirect global capitalism than as a repetition, this time by China, of the “complementary” role previously played by Japan in providing the United States with the capital flows necessary to maintain its global hegemony, which in turn has led to a tendency in China to liberalise financial markets, eliminate instruments to control capital movements and weaken the foundations of the power of the Chinese Communist Party. I think these writers are wrong.

Other Marxists, Chinese or foreign, certainly fewer in number but no less important, continue to argue that the political-economic system currently in place in China, although comparable or close to “state capitalism”, leaves open a wider range of possible trajectories for the future. For my part, I take this idea so far as to argue that the Chinese system today still contains the essential elements of socialism. Once this has been said, the interpretation of the nature of this system becomes compatible with “market socialism”, which in my view still rests on pillars that clearly distinguish it from capitalism. For my part, I would say that although there are capitalists in China (and there are many billionaires), it is not possible to describe the Chinese system as capitalist. Of course there are elements of “state capitalism”, but I prefer to speak of the Chinese system as “market socialism”, or rather “socialism with the market”. I think we have to take the Chinese seriously when they talk about “socialism with Chinese colours”. This is not just propaganda; it is a reality, it is their reality.

At the monetary and financial level, for example, it is worth noting that the Chinese authorities have been able to cope with the power of the financial markets, but they have also been able to build a “great wall of money” by defending the national currency, the yuan. They have managed to put money at the service of development. Very powerful strategic planning, whose techniques have been made more flexible, modernised and adapted to today’s needs, and thus much more effective, is a distinctive feature of the socialist path. State control of the currency and of all the major banks is a sine qua non, as is close supervision of the activities of financial institutions and of the behaviour of foreign companies operating in the country. Once again, it is the state that controls capitalism in China, not the other way round. At least that has been the case so far.

What is the significance of Deng Xiaoping for China today? Is there a connection or disconnection between Xi Jinping’s political and economic decisions and those of Deng Xiaoping?

Deng Xiaoping’s definitive rise to the pinnacle of power began in August 1977 with the 11th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party and the subsequent push for deep economic reform that began in late 1978. Deng’s idea was not to abandon socialism, but to find ways to lift the vast majority of Chinese out of poverty and enable the country to achieve what the establishment called a “moderately prosperous” society. Since Xi Jinping, the development strategy has been reaffirmed as socialist, and the country’s overall policy orientation has been more in favour of the less affluent sections of the population and the less developed regions of the country.

The difficulty in understanding “Chinese socialism” stems from the refusal of its leaders to interpret it as the banalisation of scarcity or the “sharing of misery”. What the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party sought to do, and succeeded in doing, was to lift the great mass of the Chinese people out of poverty under Mao and up to the level of a “moderately prosperous” society under Deng Xiaoping. Since then, as a logical continuation of the revolution, their desire has been to pursue a socialist transition in which the vast majority of the population now has access to prosperity, especially a wide range of consumer goods, and can enjoy abundance. Wouldn’t that be killing two birds with one stone and proving that socialism can and must overcome capitalism?

Could you elaborate on China’s economic growth?

It is wrong to say, as we often hear, that the high growth rate of gross domestic product (GDP) in the Chinese economy is due to the capitalism adopted since 1978. Quite the opposite. Economic growth has been high because the Chinese state, under the authority of the Communist Party, has managed to prevent capitalism from taking control of the country and, as a positive reflection of this, has redistributed wealth throughout society on a large scale. I should add that, even if we want to believe that the Chinese system is capitalist (which I do not), it would be wrong to claim that China’s high growth has only been observed since 1978. This is because the country’s economic growth was already very, very high under Mao, much higher than in any other country with a planned economy, and even higher than in many industrialised Western countries. Western leaders want to hide this fact because it is unbearable for them to admit that a socialist country can be successful, especially more successful than capitalist countries.

I have to say that the goal of the Chinese Communist Party is not to take over everything economically, but to maintain political control over everything. The two are not synonymous. Chinese leaders have repeatedly said that the coexistence of public and private activities, both encouraged within a mixed, hybrid system, is the chosen means to develop the country’s productive forces as much as possible and raise the level of development. The use of all means, including attracting foreign capital and importing advanced technologies, is not aimed at abandoning socialism, but at improving the living conditions of the population and deepening the process of socialist transition begun in 1949. Paradoxically, China remains a developing country, as evidenced by its still modest GDP per capita. This process will be long, difficult, full of contradictions and risks, and its course remains largely uncertain. However, I think it is worth stressing that this system still has many features that are clearly different from capitalism and which, in my opinion, are related to the realisation of a socialist project and the potential for its reactivation, which leads us to recommend taking the speeches of the country’s political leaders seriously.

Does China’s meeting with President Biden signal a shift from economic dominance to a more pronounced political presence in the international arena, especially in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, and in its attitude towards Russia? Does China want to become the centre of a multipolar world?

China has no desire to replace the United States as the world’s dominant power. China has neither the will nor the mentality to do so. On the other hand, it is clear that China is trying to contribute to the construction of a multipolar world, as opposed to the unipolar world in which the United States has so far ruled unchallenged (and admittedly in a highly aggressive manner). China’s leaders seek universal peace and balance in international relations. But it is clear that they will defend their country’s sovereignty without submitting to foreign domination.

Regarding the “trade war” between the US and China, we have co-authored a paper with Chinese authors entitled “Turning One’s Loss Into a Win? The US Trade War With China in Perspective’, which we co-authored with Chinese authors, shows that the ratio of labour hours integrated into trade between the two countries since 1978, compared to the same amount of trade exchange, is higher in China than in the US, and that there is an unequal exchange of value between them in favour of the US and to the detriment of China. In other words, the fact that China has run an increasing bilateral trade surplus over the last decade should be seen in the light of the fact that (according to our calculations) it has benefited the United States in particular in terms of the labour hours included in exports.

In such a paradoxical context, the outbreak of the trade war against China in 2018 can be interpreted as an attempt by the US administration, then led by President Trump, to slow down the slow and steady deterioration of the US trade advantage vis-à-vis its main emerging rival, China.

How is China organising international economic relations for a multi-power world to counter US dominance? Given the examples of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the BRICS, can a global payment system be created in the near future to counterbalance the dominance of the US dollar?

China has realised that the two pillars of US domination of the world capitalist system are military and monetary. That is why it has actively participated in the creation of strategic alliance networks such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and economic alliance networks such as the BRICS grouping. He also realised that these two pillars are interdependent and therefore fragile. That is why he launched a number of innovative and bold initiatives.

I refer to some of them in another book (Money, published by Palgrave Mcmillan). For example, China is planning to challenge the prevailing order in the oil market, of which it is the world’s largest importer. Since 2018, China has decided to promote yuan-denominated oil futures contracts on the Shanghai International Energy Exchange, which is accessible to foreign investors, in order to compete with references such as London Brent and New York West Texas Intermediate (which set the standard for defining crude oil prices and futures contracts for this commodity on Wall Street), which were undisputed in this field until this year.

In this context, China and Russia (already forming an economically dynamic – and militarily deterrent – alliance that could be a reliable counterweight to the United States) have decided to launch a new global alternative currency, called “petro-yuan-gold”, which could displace the dollar. Petro-yuan-gold is a global currency project based on oil, a basic commodity, and linked to gold, a feat no longer within Washington’s reach. Indeed, China’s advantage lies not only in its high GDP growth rate, but also in the fact that it is the world’s largest producer and buyer of gold, with Russia in third place, ahead of the United States. In 2018, Beijing took the initiative to promote a broad oil-yuan-gold trading facility on the global energy exchange. Then came the implementation of metal-yuan-gold. China offered to exchange the yuan it receives for gold for oil supplies and metal purchases. These events will have a significant impact on the global system.

Having persuaded Iran and Saudi Arabia to engage in diplomatic talks, can China achieve similar success in resolving the conflicts between Russia and the West, as well as the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

China has, of course, been playing an increasingly important and positive role in defusing existing international conflicts for a number of years. We saw this recently in the war in Ukraine between NATO and Russia, led by the United States, and then in the war between Israel and Palestine, supported by the United States and the European Union. Not long ago, we saw China speak out to prevent the outbreak of a conflict between Iran and Pakistan. We can think of China as the voice of many countries of the South that are seeking the path of development and not the path of war. That is why it is so important to analyse carefully what China wants and says.

China’s international strategy is based on five principles: 1) respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity; 2) mutual non-aggression; 3) non-interference in internal affairs; 4) equality and mutual benefit; 5) peaceful coexistence. One would have to be in bad faith not to recognise that China’s statements on preserving peace and promoting the peaceful resolution of existing conflicts are being respected. And it must be remembered that China has never in its modern history pursued an expansionist colonial policy. Today, it does not want to revive the climate of the “Cold War”, which is contrary to the concept of peace among nations. China opposes all military alliances and has never joined a military coalition, not even against ISIS. It has not established any military bases abroad, except for one in Djibouti, which it presents as a “simple logistical facility” in a sensitive maritime location. The contrast with the Western powers, especially the United States, which has a history of coups and military interventions, is striking. “Cooperation” is the keyword of Chinese policy, along with the priority given to development and the “win-win” principle.

Can China take a more proactive stance in promoting regional and global peace in the midst of the US war economy? How should the Belt and Road project be assessed in this situation?

The military-industrial complex plays a crucial role in the economy of the United States, but it has also reached an extremely worrying dimension, threatening what the West likes to call “democracy” (which it respects less and less at home and almost never beyond its borders). With more than half of the world’s military expenditure and more than 1150 military bases around the world (I calculated this in my article “Notes on US Bases and Military Staff Abroad”), the United States is in an economic crisis, in a difficult situation and is gradually pushing the whole world towards total war. They are more and more openly expressing their desire to shift the axis of new conflicts to the Far East, especially to Taiwan. China must resist this US provocation and push towards war, but at the same time it must defend its interests and territory. Taiwan is one of them. Reunification therefore remains a priority for Beijing. The US administration is fuelling the arms race that once brought the USSR to its knees. But the escalation of this dangerous race is no longer enough to influence a China in good economic health and armed with a sufficient deterrent.

More generally, it is important to understand that capitalism, trapped in a systemic crisis, can no longer find solutions to its problems through the logic of maximising immediate profits and is becoming more dangerous. Between company bankruptcies and mass unemployment, stock market crashes and banking instability, the likelihood of a worsening of the systemic crisis of capital is extremely high today. All the conditions are in place for the contradictions in the system to become even more pronounced, especially since very few reforms have been carried out since the 2008 crisis. The most urgent issue at the moment is to put an end to the “organisation” of the world system through war under the domination of the United States of America. The defence of peace is a priority. Consequently, we must pull the plug on the war machine operated by the financial oligopolies by subjecting it to public and democratic control.

This is where the great project of the Silk Road comes in, already partially implemented: land routes – the “Belt” – and sea routes – the “Road”. This cooperation is of particular interest to Asian countries, because China has neighbours, both near and far, such as in the Middle East, that do not have sufficient investment for their development, and also because China sees advantages that could stimulate the development of its own western provinces, which are lagging behind in terms of development compared to those on China’s eastern coast. African countries are also interested because they are the ones most affected by “underdevelopment” (as the West calls it). We cannot say that this cooperation is perfect, as it focuses more on the supply of raw materials, but it is very important for African countries that China provides infrastructure, builds hospitals and roads in exchange for the supply of raw materials.

The Silk Roads go all the way to Europe, which creates resentment because it comes from a strategic competitor. If the European economies are in principle capable of developing themselves and have sufficient investment, why do some of them welcome Chinese investment so much? The reason is obvious: the governments of European countries with economies in recession or even in decline, victims of neo-liberal austerity, debt reduction, spending cuts and privatisation imposed by the European Union, are ready to sell their assets to the highest bidder and see Chinese investment as a means to develop themselves. China has made many investments outside the European Union, particularly in the Balkans. It is therefore not surprising that 17 Eastern and Southern European countries, 11 of which are members of the European Union, have joined the Silk Road initiative.

The Silk Road does not stop at the Euro-Asian continent and Africa. Cooperation with the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean is already well advanced, especially with the poorest countries in the region. Development assistance is provided mainly through the Silk Road Fund (a sovereign wealth fund) and loans from public banks at favourable interest rates. However, China does not want to be the sole financier of this project and wants to involve all countries that are able to participate in these loans, and which, unlike the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund, do not impose politico-economic conditions on the countries they finance, in loans for infrastructure that will form the basis for rapid development.

This is what led to the creation of the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank, which today has almost a hundred members (France, Germany and the United Kingdom are members of the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank, but the United States of America, which, unlike the IMF and the World Bank, cannot control it, is obviously not a member; China, the bank’s largest shareholder, explicitly excludes its veto).

All in all, the Silk Road has grown enormously in just a few years: 124 countries, representing two-thirds of the world’s population, and 24 international organisations have signed agreements.

He should insist that it be made clear that this project is intended to exclude all political considerations. It is an initiative “open to all countries” with no other objective than common development. But there are also partnerships that focus on economic cooperation and the construction of multilateral trade zones, as in the case of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which will create the largest such zone in the world, with three billion inhabitants and 30% of world GDP. And in such partnerships, US hegemony will be challenged, especially as trade and investment will no longer be conducted in dollars but in national currencies.

Finally, we are realising that it is capitalism itself that has become unsustainable. It is obvious that this system, which is essentially dedicated to infinite and unlimited accumulation, is incompatible with a finite and finite planet. Capitalism destroys any kind of social harmony with the logic of creating ever greater inequalities. China claimed to achieve development by controlling these dynamics of capitalism. But now it is these dynamics that have to be limited. “Chinese” market socialism will have to gradually move away from capitalism if it is to realise a truly alternative path for humanity. This is the real goal; according to the Chinese authorities, and more explicitly today, certain features borrowed from capitalism are borrowed to be used “until the bridge is crossed”, they are not a long “detour” in the socialist transition on the road to communism.

Some of the author’s related works:

HERRERA, Rémy (2023), Dynamics of China’s Economy: Growth, Cycles, and Crises, (book’s coauthor with Zhiming Long), 375 p., December, Leiden/Boston: Brill. ISBN : 978-90-04-52402-6.

– (2023), Value, Money, Profit, and Capital Today, (book’s editor), 328 p., September, London: Emerald, ISBN : 978-1804-55-7518.

– (2023), La Chine est-elle impérialiste ?, (book’s editor), 192 p., February, Paris: Éditions Critiques, ISBN: 979-10-97331-45-0.

– (2023), « Turning One’s Loss Into a Win? The US Trade War With China in Perspective », (article’s coauthor with Zhiming Long, Zhixuan Feng and Bangxi Li) Research in Political Economy, n° 39, p. 31-50, London.

– (2023), « La Chine (vue de France), une inconnue ? Sur les contradictions, la dialectique, la morale et le socialisme », (article’s coauthor with Tony Andreani and Zhiming Long), Revue de Philosophie économique, vol. 24, n° 1, p. 167-189, Paris.

– (2022), Money – From the Power of Finance to the Sovereignty of the Peoples, (book’s author), 337 p., August, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN : 978-981-19-28475.

– (2022), Confronting Mainstream Economics for Overcoming Capitalism, (book’s author), 347 p., July, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN : 978-3-031-05850-9.

– (2021), Imperialism and Transitions to Socialism, (book’s editor), 272 p., September, London: Emerald, ISBN: 978-18-00437-05-0.

– (2021), « Guerre(s) et crise(s) globales : sur leurs relations systémiques », (article’s author), Marchés & Organisations, vol. 2021/2, n° 41, p. 139-155, Paris.

– (2021), « Is China Transforming the World? », (article’s coauthor with Tony Andreani and Zhiming Long), Monthly Review, vol. 73, n° 3, p. 21-30, New York.

– (2019), La Chine est-elle capitaliste ?, (book’s coauthor with Zhiming Long), 196 p., February, Paris: Éditions Critiques. ISBN : 9791097331139.

– (2013), “Notes on US Bases and Military Staff Abroad,” (article’s coauthor Joëlle Cicchini ), Journal of Innovation Economics & Management, 2013/3, n° 42, p. 147-173, Brussels.

INTERVIEW

Brazilian journalist Breno Altman: For the first time in human history, we are witnessing an online genocide

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Brazilian journalist Breno Altman answered our questions about the war in Gaza and the policies of the Brazilian and Venezuelan governments.

Breno Altman is a renowned Brazilian journalist, founder of the news portal “Opera Mundi”, an independent journalism website. He has interviewed President Nicolás Maduro and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, among other prominent figures in Latin American and world politics.

This Friday, June 14, Breno Altman, who arrived in Caracas to participate in the International Seminar: “A new holocaust in the 21st century,” spoke about the accusations against him to establish a position in favor of the Palestinian people, as well as analyzed Venezuela-Brazil relations.

It is important mentioning that, recently, Breno Altman, of Jewish origin, has been the object of strong attacks in his country, by the influential Jewish community of Brazil, which accuses him of being anti-Semitist due to his defense of the Palestinian Cause and for denouncing the genocide by the Israeli government in Gaza. The Brazilian Israelite Confederation (CONIB) accused him civilly and criminally of anti-Semitism. The pressure from the CONIB on the Brazilian Justice has been so strong that the journalist has more than 10 cases against him, and in addition, he had to remove from his social networks some of his publications in defense of the right of the Palestinian people to resist against the Zionist aggression; Fortunately, all their platforms continue to function, unfortunately, the judicial processes and the attack on freedom of expression continue as well.

A Brazilian Jew, defender of the Palestinian Cause

Present in Caracas to participate as a speaker at the event “A new holocaust in the 21st century. Zionism threatens the world”, activity organized by the Rómulo Gallegos Center for Latin American Studies (CELARG) and the Bolivarian University of Venezuela (UBV); Breno Altman is a Jew who does not deny the legacy that different people of the Jewish religion, from different regions and countries, have left for the history of humanity (especially in the Western world but also in Eurasia), for example, he highlights Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky, among others. Nor does it deny the holocaust of the Nazi regime against the Jews in Europe that caused millions of deaths, among which the majority can be counted Jews. However, the Brazilian journalist is clear and forceful: “A genocide is happening in Palestine before the eyes of the world.” “It is the first time in history that we have experienced an online genocide.” “Zionism is the racist and colonial response to anti-Semitism,” stated Altman.

To get into context, what is happening in Palestine today?

I consider it to be the first genocide transmitted online in the history of humanity. Since October 2023, we are living and seeing this genocide all day, every day, every week, every hour of our day, it is there on our screens. So far we have 37,000 deaths, of which almost 70% of the human losses are civilians, and a large part of them are women, girls and boys. Proportionally, it is the largest massacre in a war of children in history. We are talking about 14,000 children having been murdered by the Zionist government of Israel. We are talking about around 15,000 women have been murdered. These are figures from the Ministry of Health of the Gaza Strip that have been confirmed by the United Nations. It is a situation where the word, the horror of the concept “genocide” is clearly applied, because it is not a collateral effect of a war, it is a target, an objective, a calculation of the Israeli army.

What the Netanyahu government is doing is part of a normal strategy in a genocide, children are killed so that they do not become adults and women are killed so that they do not have other sons and daughters. They seek ethnic cleansing, they seek to eliminate the Palestinian people.

In your personal experience, how much is Zionism accepted within the Jewish community in Brazil? And how is the receptivity of the anti-Zionist Jew within the Jewish community in Brazil?

The majority of Jews in the world today are Zionists. In Brazil, we have the third most important community in the Americas, the first is that of the United States, the second is that of Argentina, and then there is us with 150,000 Jews who live in Brazil. I come from an anti-Zionist Jewish family that goes back three generations, my parents, my grandparents, have been important in the Jewish community, but they have always been anti-Zionist. So, there is a very harsh confrontation against every anti-Zionist Jew.

For example, I am currently responding to 13 or 14 legal cases in Brazilian justice, because Zionist organizations accuse me of anti-Semitism. And a distinction must always be made to clear up a confusion that exists between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Anti-Zionism is the fight against a certain political ideological current, and it is the political ideological current represented by the State of Israel. Anti-Semitism is the persecution and racism against Jews. They are different things. He who is against Zionism is not against the Jews, just as he who was against Nazism was not against the Germans, and he who was against fascism was not against the Italians.

But Zionist entities try to put everything in the same bag or place, for them if you criticize Zionism you are anti-Semitic. The Zionists treat me like a Jew who hates himself, they say that I practice, against the Jews – even though I am Jewish – the crime of racism and the crime of anti-Semitism. 

Zionism, in reality, is from the same family as fascism and racism. It is part of the root of national-chauvinist, ultra-nationalist, xenophobic, supremacist doctrines.

Let’s talk about Lula. There is a perception that the Brazilian president has distanced himself a little from Venezuela and Palestine. Do you think this has been the case?

I believe that Lula has had a fairly clear and firm position on Palestine, I even believe that he was the first world leader who – in addition to speaking out against the genocide in Gaza – equated Benjamin Netanyahu’s regime with Nazism. That is to say, Lula publicly demonstrated the great contradiction of Israel by applying methods against the Palestinians very similar to those applied by Hitler’s Germany. However, we must move on to another phase, not just remain declarative.

Now, can Lula do that? take a step further. It’s difficult, because Brazil is 5th. largest oil exporter to Israel. Brasilia is 5th. Israel’s largest importer of weapons and security technology. But also, Brazil has already withdrawn the Brazilian ambassador from Israel, and, in my opinion, is inclined to follow the same line that South Africa followed to end Apartheid.

Finally, can you explain to us that “ambiguous” relationship that President Lula has had towards Venezuela?

I do not consider President Lula to be ambiguous. Lula has always maintained a position of solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution, with the government of President Chávez and with the government of President Nicolás Maduro. However, the internal and external pressure against Venezuela and the Bolivarian Government is very strong. 

Venezuela within Brazil has a negative image, the enemies of Venezuela have managed to build a negative image of the country. And all the time that image is used to compromise and attack the Brazilian left. On the other hand, Lula is not a revolutionary leader, Lula is not Chávez, Lula is not Maduro, Lula is not Fidel. Lula is a popular left-wing leader, but he acts within a Brazilian institutionality that is a liberal democratic institutionality, a conservative institutionality. Furthermore, in Brazil there is no revolutionary process underway, as there is in Cuba, Nicaragua and, of course, in Venezuela.

So, Lula chooses to balance between some criticism and some defenses for and against Venezuela, because otherwise the political cost to pay would be too high. Despite everything, Lula has remained supportive and close to the Bolivarian Revolution.

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INTERVIEW

At what stage is the UAE-Türkiye Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement?

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Juma Mohammed Al Kait, Assistant Undersecretary for International Trade Affairs of Economy Ministry of United Arab Emirates, answered our questions on the economic and commercial relations between the UAE and Türkiye and potential areas of cooperation.

Juma Al Kait serves as the Chief Trade Negotiator for the UAE and Assistant Undersecretary for International Trade Affairs at the Ministry of Economy. In this capacity, Al Kait supervises trade negotiations, monitors trade disputes, ensures enforcement of trade law, and keeps government, industry and nongovernmental organizations informed on UAE trade policy. He has played a pivotal role in nearly every major trade issue and trade legislation over the last 20 years, including the recently negotiated Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements with India, Israel, Indonesia, Georgia, Turkiye and Cambodia. He also leads the UAE’s participation in trade negotiations within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) framework.

After the normalization process last year, we had a significant visit to the UAE by the Turkish side, led by President Erdogan. During that meeting, many promises were made for investments in Türkiye, including some defense industry investments. What is the recent position of the UAE regarding investments and international trade with Türkiye and the promises to increase capacity?

First of all, it is great to be in Türkiye and to take part in 3rd Ministerial Meeting of the TPS-OIC Trade Negotiations Committee. I would like to thank the Turkish government for all the arrangements they have made. It is good to see how Türkiye is also putting forward plans and suggestions to move trade between members forward. There are many good proposals that have been put on the table and discussed, related to trade in goods as well as facilitating investment and services. From the UAE perspective, we are enjoying a very good economic trade relationship between the UAE and Türkiye. I am proud to say that we have signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between the UAE and Türkiye, and we see this agreement entering into force. It is beneficial for both economies. We have noticed an increase in trade flow between the UAE and Türkiye, especially after signing this agreement. As you mentioned, there have been many high-level visits recently between both countries. The recent visits of the leaders resulted in the signing of a number of memorandums of understanding (MoU) and agreements in many different sectors. We think this is how the relationship should be. There are always ways of looking at new areas of collaboration. These MoUs will not only put our private sectors into looking at the usual way of doing business but also explore new opportunities in other areas that we don’t usually engage in.

What are the new areas for you?

When I say new areas, I mean new developments in the economy, such as technology entering into many different sectors, including the industrial sectors, healthcare, and the technology element in it, financial services, construction, agricultural technology, and many other areas where both sides can complement each other. Investing in Türkiye in some companies and trying to attract investment from Türkiye to the UAE, the UAE has provided several incentives to enhance the investment ecosystem. There are many opportunities as the UAE is expanding its development in infrastructure and connectivity. This represents a good opportunity for Turkish companies to benefit from this and operate in the UAE. We have captured this in the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. Turkish companies and UAE companies will enjoy beneficial treatment through this agreement, and this beneficial arrangement will not be extended to others. We have better treatment regarding trade, investment, and service suppliers between us.

Which specific sectors or companies are coming to the UAE?

As I mentioned, first of all, constructions, food processing, service providers like professional services, and other areas like hospitality, hotels, restaurants, and financial services. We have managed to secure a proper legal framework for our private sector to do business. This should be utilized further. It is our role as a government to make our business community aware of the benefits of this agreement. Exporters from both sides can now export products without customs duties in many sectors.

Both countries can export without customs?

Yes, according to the terms and conditions of the agreement.

Is it limited to specific sectors?

It covers most products. Additionally, there are MOUs signed earlier, which are considered a starting point for further collaboration in areas important to both sides, like renewable energy, sustainable development, and other areas related to the new economy. We can collaborate further in these areas and see trade and investment increase through these MOUs and the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement signed between both sides.

I think it was almost $50 billion last year, the total of these MOUs. Which part of that has been implemented up to now, or is there an initiative?

Both sides are working towards implementing a number of those agreements. There are already a good number of MOUs that have been initiated and implemented. Things are moving on track, and there is a dedicated monitoring process for progress. We want to ensure that everything moves smoothly according to those MOUs and the vision of our leaders.

It’s almost one year, right?

Yes. From those MOUs, there were so many different sectors. In Türkiye, the defense industry was the most popular if the UAE would come and invest in the Turkish private defense sector. As I explained earlier, investment in all areas will be facilitated further. Investors from both sides will be able to communicate better and sign deals more efficiently. There are many things that can be done in the near future between both sides. It is important for me as a government representative to encourage both private sectors to engage further and explore new opportunities. The UAE has also signed agreements with many countries around the world, representing a golden opportunity for Turkish investors. Once they operate in UAE markets, they can expand their business through other markets where we have signed trade agreements. I am sure you are aware of what the UAE has been doing in terms of signing these agreements. We have signed with many countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Turkish companies will benefit from this once they operate in UAE markets. The sophisticated infrastructure in the UAE will help Turkish products move better into other markets. It is a platform that will support the Turkish industry to expand internationally through the UAE.

After the normalization, do you have good trade relations with Qatar? What is your position with Qatar?

Economically speaking, we are doing business as usual with everyone. We enjoy very good trade relations with all Gulf Cooperation Council  (GCC) countries, including Qatar. We have witnessed an increase in our bilateral trade. There are also efforts at the GCC level to enhance internal trade between GCC members. As you know, we have a customs union, economic agreements, and recent visits between our leaders have contributed well to our economic agenda. We recently participated in Doha, hosting some of the ministerial GCC trade ministers’ meetings, resulting in very good outcomes. So, things are moving very well.

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INTERVIEW

‘NATO mission to be extended to the Middle East and Africa’

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Former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jonathan M. Winer spoke to Harici: The NATO declaration emphasised the extension of NATO’s mission to the Middle East and Africa and the action plan to implement it.

While the world is preoccupied with the upcoming elections in the United States and the recent incident in which former Republican President Donald Trump was targeted by an assassin, reports from the United States say that Trump is now officially the presidential candidate for the November 2024 elections. Many are debating whether the attack will have any impact on the campaigns of Trump and his Democratic rival Biden. The two leaders have many differences in foreign policy and approaches to NATO, nuclear talks with Iran, the presence of US troops abroad, relations with Russia and activities in the Middle East.

Former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jonathan M. Winer answered Dr Esra Karahindiba’s questions on global developments for Harici.

Jonathan M. Winer served as the United States Special Envoy to Libya, Assistant Secretary of State for International Law, and Advisor to Senator John Kerry. With expertise in migration, US foreign policy, counter-terrorism, governance, economics and energy, he is currently a non-resident fellow at the Middle East Institute.

Let’s start with the attack against former President Donald Trump? He was injured and critics say that the reason of the attack is Biden’s campaign portraying Trump as a candidate who should never become president again. How would it be reflected on both candidates campaigns and ballots?

It is completely inappropriate to politicize the attack on Donald Trump by what appears on the basis of the facts known so far to be the isolated acts of a lone gunman. Any suggestion that anyone but the shooter was responsible for it is reckless and wrong.

Can you share your insights on the most significant outcomes of the recent NATO summit and their implications for US foreign policy? How do you evaluate the fact that there is no message about Israel in the final declaration of the NATO Summit? Israel’s threat of war against Lebanon and the possibility that Syria in a wider scale, will naturally have negative broader impacts in the instability of the region. Will a new stance be taken regarding Israel’s actions?

Three things stand out in the NATO Communique issued at the NATO summit. First, united resolve to counter Russian aggression in Ukraine. NATO is not giving up to seek some settlement with Russia, but digging in, with commitments to deliver sophisticated air defense systems promptly and to include Ukraine in NATO in the near-term – though it appears, not until after the war has ended. Second, explicit warnings to China and to Iran that their continuing support for Russia’s continuing assault on Ukraine will have consequences. Third, expansion of NATO’s mission to include the Middle East and Africa, including the first phase of an action plan to implement it. The Middle East and Africa initiative is the first concrete response by NATO to the systematic influence operation in this region that Russian has been building out for the past five years. It will likely take years before we know whether this southern initiative will meaningfully challenge the current dynamics in which Russia’s rewards to dictators and strongmen have overwhelmed the legacy of influence previously retained by France and other former European colonial powers. 

The NATO Communique is a consensus document reflecting consensus strategic choices. Weak statements by NATO regarding Israel and Hamas and Gaza would not have been helpful to securing a cease-fire or humanitarian objectives. It would have been hard to achieve unanimity on what to say about this complex conflict. So it is not surprising that they did not address it.

To discuss Israel without discussing Iran’s role also would mischaracterize the overall dynamics of the conflict, which include Iranian involvement in Gaza, in Lebanon, in Syria, and in Yemen, including providing military support for attacks on global shipping by the Houthis in the Red Sea. I doubt NATO will wade into taking formal positions on this interrelated set of geopolitical conflicts anytime soon. It has enough on its plate.

Britain’s new Prime Minister Keir Starmer said that the UK allows Ukraine to target Russian territory with the weapons given. What is your comment on other NATO countries giving Ukraine the authority to hit targets within Russia’s borders with Western weapons? Simultaneously, Ukraine targeted Russia’s nuclear early warning radar with unmanned aerial vehicles. Is it fair to say that this is a new phase in the conflict?

Ukraine’s leaders have long stressed that Ukraine is at grave risk if it is prevented from attacking military targets in Russia that are being used against Ukraine. NATO policy has now evolved to move beyond past constraints that limited Ukraine’s ability to defend itself. This evolution is a military and strategic necessity. 

But hitting Russian soil with directly NATO members’ weapons will count as an attack and a defense from Ukraine’s side. Won’t this action make Russia’a argument that this is a proxy war of the NATO?

Russia is already arguing – falsely – that Ukraine is fighting a proxy war for NATO. It’s an audacious falsehood, given Russia’s initiation of the war two and a half years ago and its continued targeting of civilian populations. Russian propaganda should not determine decisions made by Ukraine or by NATO.

Trump’s criticisms of NATO are well known. As the presidential elections approach, the status of NATO under the Trump administration is being discussed. What is your prediction about the budget transferred to NATO and Ukraine’s desire to become a NATO member if Trump wins?

Trump’s four years in office was marked by capricious in-the-moment decisions to say yes to requests from authoritarian leaders in other states which were contrary to the advice of his own senior advisors on national security, generating push-back from within the government by both political appointees and career professionals. Given that dynamic, how Trump’s recurrently expressed hostility towards NATO and towards Ukraine would play out within the US government, within NATO, and globally, should Trump return to office, is unknowable. 

By increasing its defense spendings, Türkiye is reached to the 2% target in NATO first time ever. Also, Ankara’s diplomatic power cannot be denied regarding its role in Russia-Ukraine talks. How do you see Ankara’s position in the organization as Türkiye prepares to host the 2026 NATO Summit?

Türkiye’s geographic location makes its continued support for Ukrainian resistance to Russia’s war against Ukraine essential for NATO, even as it also acts as a broker with Russia, as reflected in the all-too-brief Black Sea Grain deal.  Ankara will continue to be an influential actor, so long as it avoids taking any position seen as fundamentally undermining NATO and its goal of defending Ukraine. The deal ultimately reached to enable Sweden to join NATO reflects the tough, nationalist (and one could say hard-ball) approach taken by Turkish President Erdogan, and also his pragmatism.  

Türkiye’s anti-terror struggle in Syria with YPG is still an unsolved issue. This is according to Türkiye unfortunate that NATO allies underminers NATO borders’, Türkiye’s borders’ security. Then how do you see NATO members’ undermining Ankara’s key issues?

NATO operates by consensus, but NATO member countries do not have total agreement on any number of security issues. There is an extensive history here, including the need to combat the Islamic State a decade ago, that is relevant to this issue. The US and Türkiye have ongoing bilateral opportunities to work through issues on which they do not see eye-to-eye, and this goes on independently of multilateral discussions involving NATO members generally.  

Presidential elections took place in Iran. New President Massoud Pezeshkian wants to revive nuclear talks. What is the US’s approach to the new Iranian President? When you consider it in terms of Biden and Trump policies, which leader will be closer to dialogue with Pezeshkian? What are your expectations?

In important respects, in the area of its foreign policy, including with Iran, the Biden Administration has continued the policies of the Obama Administration from the 2009-2016 period. It has never abandoned the goal of containing Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon through a negotiated settlement. By contrast, Trump has little regard for diplomacy generally, and diplomacy with Iran specifically.

You also served as the Special Envoy to Libya. Considering the point reached in Libya today, that is, the actual division, intransigence and interventions of third countries, can you say that the NATO operation that overthrew Gaddafi was “absolutely right”?

The goal of the NATO operation was to support the Libyan people who had engaged in an uprising against a dictator known for erratic and vindictive behavior, who had previously imprisoned and slaughtered political dissidents. Indeed, he literally ordered the very bones of political opponents ground into dust at Abu Salim prison.

NATO played no role in initiating the Libyan uprising, it supported it weeks later, with an air campaign after cities throughout Libya rebelled against Gaddafi. Such campaigns always have consequences. But blaming NATO for what has happened to Libya is misplaced. Libya’s own political class has failed them, just as Lebanon’s political class, for example, has failed Lebanon.  The past decade of interventions by regional actors and by Russia have merely taken advantage of and exacerbated the internal divisions that had already impaired Libya’s ability to govern itself after Gaddafi’s death. 

The US experienced a great shock when its ambassador was killed in Libya. And Libya was not at the forefront of the agenda for many years. It pursued a policy through his European partners, and European states could not come to an agreement on Libya for a long time. Now, does the US have a clear, understandable and targeted Libya policy? How do you evaluate the United Nations’ Libya policy, which has not been successful so far? Do you see a political reconciliation possible in Libya?

After our Ambassador was murdered by terrorists in Benghazi along with three other Americans, the Obama Administration paused for about a year to evaluate the situation, and then appointed both a new Ambassador and a Special Envoy – the position I held, charged with the goal of doing what we could to try to help stabilize the country. We sought to do this by working closely with a range of countries to help Libyans reach an agreement on an interim unity government in a process sponsored by the United Nations. We did that with the strong personal involvement of Secretary of State Kerry, National Security Advisor Rice, Vice President Biden, and President Obama, among others. That effort, in which we worked to achieve alignment with many other countries as well as the Libyans, resulted in a new government and the 2015 Libyan Political Agreement, which remains the foundational document for the government that still remains in place in Libya, including the House of Representatives and the High State Council.  During the Trump years, the US became less involved, reflecting Trump’s general disdain for diplomacy, other than deals brokered by his son-in-law and consistent with his personal interest. Over the past three years, the Biden Administration has had its hands full in dealing with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the situation in Gaza, and managing the US competition with China, among other issues, and so has had more limited ability to focus fully on Libya.

Except for the brief period when President Trump responded to entreaties by Egypt and the UAE to back Khalifa Hifter’s failed effort to take Tripoli by force, with the help of Russian “mercenaries” backed by Russian President Putin, US policy towards Libya has been consistent. Today, as was true a decade ago, the US wants Libya’s political class to enable free and fair elections in Libya, for both the parliament and the President, and then to abide by the results to form a unified, inclusive government that meets the needs of the Libyan people.

For political reconciliation to take place, Libya’s political leaders need to accept the idea that there will be more for everyone in an inclusive government that bring stability, and that their people deserve to share in the benefits of Libya’s national resources on an equal and inclusive basis. 

Securing such elections and the formation of an inclusive and unified Libyan government have been made harder by the presence of foreign military forces in Libya, especially the rapidly-growing Russian military presence, which it is using to project force to a range of dictators in Africa, as I have described in some detail in my recent writing for the Middle East Institute.

The US is not unrivaled in the Middle East today as it used to be decades ago. Powerful regional countries can oppose the Washington when their own interests are harmed. It seems that other global powers such as Russia and China have also become a significant power in the region. How do you evaluate this new multipolar future of the Middle East?

The Middle East has long been among the most complicated regions in the world, with clashes of interests among many competing groups, religions, forces, ideologies, nationalities, tribes, and other identities. Regional powers, post-colonial powers, local forces and political groups have always competed for influence. The US role has at no time been without such competition and rivals, as reflected 45 years ago when OPEC decided to raise oil prices in a move that was visibly against US interests.

For any non-Middle Eastern country to have sustained influence in the Middle East, it has to offer benefits to not only to the relevant local leaders, but to their people. The US has many strengths and much to offer, but the US cannot succeed without maintaining partnerships with those who share common interests with the United States. To do that, takes focus and attention, and deep engagement that seeks to build enduring relationships to achieve common goals. 

Due to Russia’s cynical support of dictators and warlords in Africa, western interests and Russian interests in the region are currently close to a zero-sum game. But what Russia is doing there, especially in Africa, will ultimately backfire, as the people of those countries find themselves unhappy with having their lives dictated to them by unelected juntas and strongmen backed by Russian pretorian guards. The US should be working on helping elements of civil society to empower a new generation of people with tools that will enable them to build better options, and ultimately better societies. It can be a long slog, but in the end, people demand opportunity and freedom, just as they require food, shelter, health care, and other necessities. Major foreign powers can either be on the side of the people, against them, or absent. The US needs to be both present, and visibly on the right side of these aspirations, just as Russia is present, and visibly on the wrong side of them.

African countries have been colonised until a very near history. Their sources have been exploited by Western countries. The poor people could not get benefit from their own lands and natural richness. Maybe those countries did not have a chance but to try a cooperation with Russia. What would be your comment?

The evidence is not that African juntas, strongmen, and coup leaders are now partnering with Russia in order to improve the lives of their poor, but instead, to get military support to maintain power. In any case, typically involving significant corruption as well. Moreover, Russia has been trolling for African partners for some 60 years now, going back to the 1950s. I can’t think of a single case in which it has gone well for the underlying populations until Russia is eventually pushed out, as took place when Sadat severed relations with the Soviets from Egypt in 1981.  

One of the topics which is discussed most recently is the complete withdrawal of the US from Iraq. In my interviews with both Northern Iraqi officials and Baghdad authorities, I recognized that current politicians want the United States to stay. In fact, analysts in the US states that, far from withdrawing, the US would increase its military presence in Iraq and Syria. What is the final strategy on this?

As near as I can tell, there is no final decision on the future role of the US in Iraq. For the US to stay in Baghdad and/or Northern Iraq, the respective parts of the Iraqi government would have to want a continued US presence in those locations, and secure continued agreement by the US that is in its mutual interest to stay. Whether such agreements will be possible and in the interests of all of the relevant parties is interconnected with Iranian and Kurdish relationships with Iran and its Revolutionary Guards, including Iranian malign activities in both Iraq and Syria. There are legitimate arguments that the US should stay, and others that it should depart. But there is no good reason to make a decision now, ahead of US presidential elections at a time of great regional uncertainty and multiple plausible scenarios for trouble.

What would be the scenerious of the US presence in Iraq if Biden wins or if Trump wins?

I do not think the scenarios are very different based on which administration is President. I have little to say on this topic at this time beyond my previous answer.

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