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Showing posts from June, 2020

Gulf states beware. Chinese policy towards Sri Lanka tells a cautionary tale

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By James M. Dorsey
A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud,Itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker, Pocket Casts, Tumblr, Podbean,Audecibel, Patreon and Castbox.
China was quick to aid coronavirus-stricken Sri Lanka. Chinese magnanimity and speed in responding to the Indian Ocean island’s request contrasted starkly with Beijing’s more measured response to Africa’s needs, widely expected to be the pandemic’s next hotspot.
Geography was but one reason why China favoured the strategic island that straddles one of the Indian Ocean’s busiest shipping routes.
China was rewarding Sri Lanka for stalling military-related talks with the United States two years after the People’s Republic was accused of pursuing predatory debt trap diplomacy. Sri Lanka granted China in 2018 a far greater stake in its port of Hambantota at a moment that it was unable to service its debt to Beijing.
Sri Lanka has so far dragged its feet on signing a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the Uni…

US-China Rivalry: Gulf States Struggle to Hedge Their Bets

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by James M. Dorsey
An initial version of this story was first published in Inside Arabia
A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud,Itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker, Pocket Casts, Tumblr, Podbean,Audecibel, Patreon and Castbox.
The Trump administration’s quest to curb relationships between its allies in the Middle East and China offers a preview of how big power rivalry in the region is likely to unfold. It also suggests the limits on the United States’ ability to reduce its commitment to regional security.
While much of the focus in recent weeks has been on Israel’s relations with China, the real litmus test of the United States’ ability to counter the People’s Republic’s growing footprint in the Middle East is likely to be in the Gulf.
In talks last month with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israeli leaders made clear that while wanting to maintain close relations with China they would not risk jeopardizing their long-standing ties to the United States, thei…

Hedging Bets: Turkey positions itself as supply chain alternative to China

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By James M. Dorsey
A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud,Itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker, Pocket Casts, Tumblr, Podbean,Audecibel, Patreon and Castbox.
A Turkish-US business council is projecting Turkey as a trading alternative to China with the help of influential US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a close associate of President Donald J. Trump.
The Turkish effort comes two weeks after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan heralded a new era in long-strained relations with Washington.
Mr. Graham’s agreement to participate in a webinar organized by the Turkey American Business Council (TAIK), an affiliate of the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEIK), the country’s oldest and largest business association, comes amid Turkish efforts to improve relations with the United States as a hedge to its ties to Russia.
“The growing rift between the United States and China creates significant opportunity for geopolitical cooperation. Turkey and the United State…

Fragile Big Power Relationships Add to Middle Eastern Uncertainty

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A web of relationships between Turkey, Russia, Iran, and China have to a significant degree shaped Middle Eastern and North African geopolitics. The fragility of those relationships, however, begs the question whether fluidity in regional geopolitics rather than paradigm shifts is, at least for now, the name of the game.
by James M. Dorsey
An initial version of this story was first published in Inside Arabia
A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud,Itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker, Pocket Casts, Tumblr, Podbean,Audecibel, Patreon and Castbox.
Fraught with multiple powder kegs that could blow up at any moment, Turkish-Russian relations constitute a study in the management of a new world order’s seemingly fragile alliances.
Much like relations between Russia and China, Russia and Iran, Turkey and Iran, and Turkey and China, Turkish-Russian ties are fragile despite the fact that they, contrary to Western perceptions, are not just opportunistic and driven by short-…

UAE Targets Turkey and Qatar in the Mediterranean

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By James M. Dorsey
A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud,Itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker, Pocket Casts, Tumblr, Podbean,Audecibel, Patreon and Castbox.
Europe is progressively being sucked into the Middle East and North Africa’s myriad conflicts. As if wars on its doorstep in Libya and Syria were not enough, UAE support for an Eastern Mediterranean pipeline that could hurt Qatar economically — combined with Greek, Cypriot and French opposition to Turkish moves — leaves Europe with few, if any, options but to get involved.
Europe’s headaches just got worse. Its efforts to contain wars on its doorstep in Libya and Syria have failed at a moment that Europe is struggling to control a pandemic and reverse its economic fallout. Proxy wars that pit the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt against Qatar and Turkey have spilled out of Libya and Syria into the Eastern Mediterranean as a whole.
European nations, including France, Greece, and Cyprus, feel thr…

Syria lures but will China bite?

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By James M. Dorsey
The original version of this article was published by the Geneva Center for Security Policy A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud,Itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker, Pocket Casts, Tumblr, Podbean,Audecibel, Patreon and Castbox.
China looms large as a potentially key player alongside Russia and Iran in President Bashas al-Assad’s post-war Syria. With Russia and Iran lacking the financial muscle and the United States and Europe refusing toengage with the Al-Assad regime, China is from Syria’s perspective the shining knight on a white horse. Syria could become a key node in China’s infrastructure, telecommunications and energy-driven Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Syria could also bring it closer to being sucked into the Middle East’s multiple conflicts.
China’s economic interests in Syria
Mohammed Jarah and Ahmad Bustati’s warehouse in Damascus symbolized China’s emergence as the largest supplier of industrial and consumer goods to Syria on t…