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hebrandIn the last few years, China has become a polar power, writes Patrick . Beijing's interest initially focused on Antarctica, but its presence in the Arctic has accelerated in recent years, driven by global warming and melting ice. The term polar translates into Chinese by jidi (极地) which means the "extremes of the earth". The Arctic is therefore the "Far North", the Antarctic "the Far South". Long remaining ambiguous, the Chinese strategy for the poles now appears in official documents, showing its willingness to be a recognized actor in these regions of the world and to defend resolutely its interests.

China's presence in these extremes is recent. In 1925, China had signed, without enthusiasm, the Treaty of Paris on Spitzbergen, solicited by France. With the events that China went through, this signature felt into oblivion and it was only in 1964 that the State Administration of Oceans was created which progressively became interested in the polar environment. See more on next page

pozoFdPThe steady reduction of the Arctic ice means that all types of navigation in Arctic waters are substantially increasing, writes Fernando del Pozo:
• Trans-Arctic traffic, which some shipowners are already trying to convert into regular services, even building specialized ships, such as TeeKay which has commissioned the first LNG carrier with icebreaker capabilities, the Eduard Toll; also Russia's Rosatom group is actively planning to operate a container shipping line along the Northern Sea Route, to compete with the Suez Canal;
• Intra-Arctic, already very active, although almost exclusively between Russian ports, such as Dudinka in the Yenisey, serving the mining complex in Noril'sk; Yamburg, Noviy Port and Sabetta in the Ob, also in Siberia; and in European Russia Varandey serving the facilities in the Pechora. One exception to this Russian-only network is the Murmansk-Churchill Arctic bridge, which exports the wheat production of Manitoba, Canada, bringing in exchange Russian fertilizers; and
• Destinational (eco-tourism, scientific, research, fishing...), probably the type of shipping showing the biggest growth.

logoThe geopolitical significance of the Arctic region has been recognized for two centuries - first by the Russians, later by the Americans, writes Joseph E Fallon. Then and now, the principle reason to lay territorial claims to this inhospitable polar wilderness is not economic, but strategic. As J. Painter observed, "There can be no politics which is not geographical."

In 1763, Russian scientist Mikhail Lomonosov observed: "The power of Russia shall be increased by Siberia and the Arctic Ocean."
In 1935, U.S. General Billy Mitchell told the US Congress: "Alaska is the most central place in the world for aircraft. He who holds Alaska holds the world."


nickwattsIMG 20170907 0924504"It's a good time to be a policy analyst, not so good to be a policy maker"; so said Professor Michael Clarke, just before he ended his tenure as Director General of the Royal United Services Institute in 2015. With this book he and his co-author Helen Ramscar, have taken a deep dive into the whirlpool of contemporary British policy making and come up with a real pearl, says Nick Watts, an analyst himself, on the next page.

nickwattsIMG 20170907 0924504International society is being atomised, according to the London based International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS). Launching the annual Strategic Survey, IISS notes that 'neither balance of power, nor international rules based governance serves as ordering principles'. It adds 'International institutions have been marginalised', reports Nick Watts.

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The Amazon, the largest, most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest in the world, an irreplaceable ecosystem, is being burned, writes Joe Fallon. Set afire intentionally for profits by logging, mining, and agribusiness interests (cattle ranches, soy and palm oil plantations), and by Brazilian colonists who invade indigenous lands to engage in "slash and burn" farming. "The non-indigenous population of the Amazon is exploding. From the 1960's until the late 1990's, this number grew from 2 million to around 20 million." The corporations and the colonists achieve short-term gains that produce long-term losses. The result "...is chaos. Chaos, chaos, chaos," lamented one senior official from Brazil's environmental agency, Ibama" who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

sratfordownloadProtests involving labour, student and indigenous groups have convulsed Ecuador, putting its government in danger of toppling — and enabling the possible return to power of its former president or another tightly aligned populist figure. Together, it threatens investors and businesses with rapid policy swings or even the nationalisation of assets. The current unrest erupted after President Lenin Moreno cut hefty fuel subsidies in an effort to meet International Monetary Fund lending standards to sustain the flow of vital support.

Yevhen-MahdaEverything may become an instrument of hybrid warfare. And electoral processes are no exception. It is well-known that Russia interfered in the Ukrainian election in 2004 which finally led to the Orange revolution. The Russian strategy in Ukraine in 2004 failed and back-fired. But it did not stop the further search for methods of election meddling. It took more than 10 years to create a more sophisticated strategy and tactics, as the article on the next page reviews.

INTRODUCTION AND RECOMMENDATIONS


Munoz2unnamedSmuggling activities along the borderlands of the North African (NA) countries - Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia - have been tolerated by central governments because they have been a way of costless development. But now they have become a menace given as contraband has expanded from arms to people trafficing and the extension of jihadism. To fight these threats requires more cooperation than competition.


This might start with the rejuvenation of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), an organisation created in 1989 by Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania to increase cooperation through greater interregional trade as a way to future economic and may be political integration. The AMU has never been abolished and had been working until the confrontation between Algeria and Morocco.


The European Union could help to integrate border management systems, or at least to coordinate them, because border security depends not only on national capabilities but also on international cooperation. Solutions to border management depends mainly on an North Africa operating environment taking into account the dynamic of the region trading networks that have created deep connections between border communities in neighbouring states. But a note of caution : limiting long standing smuggling of traditional commodities smuggling (fuel, food and tobacco ....) in the Maghreb could lead to an increase in radicalisation of people living in the border areas.


With the help of the World Bank and the European Union, the first steps in a comprehensive long term strategy could be:
a. Connecting the south to the north of the Maghreb countries through road infrastructure
b. Supporting regional cooperation
c. Helping the regions close to the existing borders to develop.
d. Providing coastguards of the regions' states with training and equipment.

See the next page for a country by country update. This paper is based on one written for the Eurodefense Mediterranean Observatory by Ambassador Garcia Munoz, President of Eurodefense-Spain, and submitted to the Bucharest Conference in October 2019. His previous papers published on Defence Viewpoints are "Developments in the MENA area" 16 September 2017 and the "Mahgreb Revisited" mini series 20 November 2017 - 24 November 2017

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