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This article analyzes the historical period from 2000 to 2020, during which the PRC carried out a systematic penetration into Africa. The strengthening of China’s position in Africa is explained by four obvious groups of reasons: geopolitical, ideological, financial and economic, trade and logistics. The authors tend to highlight the 5th group of stratageme nature. China’s stratagem on Africa has not been a dogma, but has evolved at every stage of Sino-African relations over the past two decades.
The authors divide China’s activities in Africa into fourhistorical period, logically linking them with the years of presidency of the three chairmen of China: Jiang Zemin (1993-2003), Hu Jintao (2003-2013) and Xi Jinping (2013 to the present). Each of these periods is discussed in the article from the point of view of evolution stratageme rationale of Chinese foreign policy towards Africa, and also correlated with the moveof China to the global level of interaction with the rest of the world.
Over the past 20 years, China has not only strengthened its position on the African continent, but, along with the United States, has earned a well-deserved reputation as a pan-African political actor. The difference is that China is still significantly inferior to the United States in terms of its military presence on the African continent. PRC leaders recognize this fact and aimto correct the balance of power in the region. In recent years China started encouraging African countries to jointly create military-political and at the same time economic interstate associations.
Almost two hundred years ago the first research institution specialized in the field of Oriental Studies, i.e. the Asiatic Museum of the Imperial Academy of Sciences in St Petersburg, now known under the name of the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, was found. The core of the Middle-Eastern part of its funds was acquired by the Russian government in two lots, in 1819 and 1825, from Jean-Baptiste Louis Jacques Rousseau, originated from the family of French diplomats and jewelers. This was his father Jean-François Xavier, who began to collect Oriental manuscripts by AD 1757 in Ispahan. The first lot of their collection included not only 484 manuscripts, but also 16 old-printed books. 11 of them were for the first time identified in the Library of the Institute and described by the author of that article. Among them five were published in Aleppo by the typography of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch (the Psalter in two damaged copies, the Four Gospels and the Evangeliary in 1706 and the 34 Homilies of St John Chrysostom in 1707), three in Rome (the Four Gospels in 1591 and the Canon of Medicine of Avicenna in 1593 by the Typographia Medicea and the Arabic-Latin Psalter by the Typographia Sauariana) and two more in Constantinople by the pioneer of Islamic printing Ibrāhīm Müteferriqa (the cosmographic work Ğihān-nümā and the Persan-Ottoman dictionary in two volumes Ferheng-i Shuʿūrī). As a result this collection of old-printed books gives a rather detailed impression about the development of typographic art in Arabic characters in the Orient as well as in Europe.
Being neighbors, China and Central Asian states face common problems, which require collective response and leadership. In this article, we explore to what extent China’s increased engagement in the region since the dissolution of the USSR has included attempts to lead cooperation to address some of these common problems. We answer our research question by exploring observable leadership efforts, such as institutional development, financial support, moral or belief supply, and unilateral exemplary activities. The analysis shows that in three selected issue areas, namely counter-terrorism, infrastructure development, and water management China has made certain efforts to lead, but the scope and character of its efforts have varied significantly between different issue areas and over time. This variation can be explained in the light of China’s evolving foreign policy interests, the specificities of the Central Asian states, and the role of Russia as the other prominent external actor. While earlier China’s initiatives focused on Central Asia and Russia, the more recent ones either include Central Asian states among other members or focus only on some of them. Joining China’s projects helps Central Asian states to improve their international standing and diversify their foreign relations, but also affects regional geopolitical structure.
The interaction between Russia and Gulf countries represents the story of ups and downs, severe conflicts and sharp warmings that can largely be explained by the permanently changing role and place of each of these players at the global and Middle Eastern political arenas. After Russia's “return” to the Middle East in 2012–2015, Moscow's foreign policy towards the Gulf can be explained in terms of a bargaining strategy. On the one hand, Russia is trying to underline its importance and relevance to the GCC by putting forward diplomatic and political initiatives. The Kremlin uses its direct or indirect presence in the key regional conflicts such as the Syrian, Libyan and Yemeni civil wars as well as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Iran’s nuclear issue. On the other hand, Russia is interested in building up stronger economic cooperation with the GCC, drawing bigger volumes of investments from the Gulf to Russia’s broken economy, as well as coordinating efforts with Saudi Arabia in the global oil market. While, in the near future, the qualitative evolution of Russia’s relations with the GCC is hardly possible, there are still options for their deepening within the current level of interaction between Moscow and the Gulf.
This book examines the projects of administrative and territorial reconstruction of Arab countries as an aftermath of the “Arab Spring”. Additionally, it looks into an active rethinking of the former unitary model, linked by its critics with dictatorship and oppression.
The book presents decentralization or even federalization as newly emerging major topics of socio-political debate in the Arab world. As the federalist recipes and projects are specific and the struggle for their implementation has a pronounced variation, different case studies are presented. Countries discussed include Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq.
The book looks into the background and prerequisites of the federalist experiments of the “Arab Spring”, describes their evolution and current state, and assesses the prospects for the future. It is, therefore, a must-read for scholars of political science, as well as policy-makers interested in a better understanding of previous and current developments in the Arab countries.
The research studies the features of coverage of the Syrian conflict by Russian media. In scientific discourse, there are a number of works studying the information support for the civil war in Syria, which is explained by its specificity – a multilateral, multi-level protracted conflict creates an opportunity for a varied interpretation of events and causal relationships. The way events in Syria are presented in various regions of Russia is of particular interest. In the course of this study, a database of media articles, both federal and regional (Dagestan, Tatarstan, Chechnya), was collected. The articles were then analyzed from the point of view of the prevailing semantic codes, which made it possible to identify how the Syrian conflict is framed, as well as the similarities and differences of different regions’ frames.
The article studies the influence of the Arab Spring on the rise of terrorist activity in countries of the Sahel. For decades this region has been one of the most unstable in Africa and in the Afrasian instability zone. However, in the 2010s the Sahel experienced unprecedented growth of terrorist activity: by 2015 the number of terror attacks in the region had multiplied 7 times in comparison with 2010 statistics. The aim of this research is to find factors and mechanisms of terrorism’s spread in the region with quantitative methods. Conducted analysis has shown that there are several trajectories of the Arab Spring’s influence on terrorist activity in the Sahel. For instance, collapse of government structures in Libya during Arab Spring was a trigger for activation of Tuareg and Islamist terrorist movements in Mali and Niger. In Chad sudden rise of terrorist attacks is connected to so called “ISIS factor” when groups pledging allegiance to ISIS (like Boko Haram) aim to prove their ability to fight and to be “useful”. Finally, in Burkina Faso revolutionaries were able to repeat a classic Arab Spring scenario of 2011 and to overthrow the regime of Blaise Compaoré. However, the fall of an authoritarian regime in Burkina Faso in 2014, just like in Libya, Yemen, or Egypt, has led to the inability of new government to guarantee security. As a result, a previously very calm and peaceful nation experienced explosive rise of terrorist attacks.
This article is devoted to the study of the development of the theory and practice of jihad during the rule of the Circassian sultans in Egypt and Syria (1382–1517). The purpose of the study is to trace the development of key aspects of jihad, to identify features of its perception in the Mamluk state. An essential feature of the theory of jihad in the Mamluk period is the interpretation of jihad as farḍ al-ʿayn (the individual duty of every Muslim).
While studying the theory of jihad, the authors rely on a holistic and balanced approach to the justified in the papers of M. Bonner and D. Cook and their interpretation of the concept of jihad, which has a centuries-old history of development and a sophisticated, multi-layered set of meanings. Another methodological basis of the present paper was the concept of minimalism and maximalism, developed by Yusef Waghid.
The source base for the study of jihad theory is the works of Ibn al-Nahhas (d. 1411), a prominent philosopher of the Mamluk era. The interpretation of jihad as an individual duty of every Muslim, substantiated by Ibn al-Nahhas, was the foundation of the volunteer movement that developed in Egypt and Syria in the 15th century.
The doctrine of jihad, where the concepts of justice (al-‘adl) and truth (al-ḥaqq) play a key role, was used by the Mamluks and then by the Ottomans as a powerful ideological tool to manipulate the minds of Muslims. The relevance of the study is that the findings are not only true for the Middle Ages but are directly related to the present.
Non-beverage alcohol was a major cause of preventable mortality of working-age males in Izhevsk (Russia) in 2003–2004. The Russian government has since taken measures to reduce availability of non-beverage alcohol. Yet, some types of non-beverage alcohol still remain available for consumers. The aim of this study was to assess the availability and sources of non-beverage alcohol in Udmurtia.
A survey of adults on the streets of Izhevsk and its environs was performed on workdays to assess non-beverage drinking patterns in 2018. The questionnaire included questions about socio-demographic status and alcohol use, including non-beverage alcohol consumption and drinking patterns.
One hundred and sixty-eight people were questioned, of whom, 28% reported consuming non-beverage alcohol. Non-beverage alcohol consumers were more likely to be single, unemployed or retired, younger or older than 19–29 years, have lower educational status and income, have hangovers and drink moonshine.
Non-beverage alcohol consumption still took place at Izhevsk, a typical Russian city, in 2018, and its availability was still high. Untaxed and cheap medicinal non-beverage alcohol consumption seems to have become the major source of non-beverage alcohol consumption. Further regulation of non-beverage alcohol may be required in Russia.
Russian policy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has undergone significant changes since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Moscow’s actions in the region have began to acquire a less ideologically driving and more pragmatic character. However, the Arab Spring and conflict in Ukraine have underscored a more aggressive policy on the part of Russia, the quintessence of which was military intervention in an armed conflict far from its borders, in Syria. Largely Russian intervention to Syria was a tool for Kremlin to resolve internal problems, and a bargaining chip in relations with global and regional actors. At the same time the declining in public interest in foreign policy, as well as the high costs of military presence in the Middle East, in the short term will force the Kremlin to respond to demands from domestic audiences. The resolution of this problem will define the future of Russia in the MENA region. It will either be an ‘honest broker’ in regional conflicts, or have to be content with the role of ‘junior partner’ to Washington, Beijing or other actors.
Yemen continues to occupy a peripheral place in Russian foreign policy. There are three reasons for this: the lack of serious economic interest for Russia, the illusory possibilities of strengthening the military presence there, and also the recognition of the dominant role of Saudi Arabia in the Yemeni conflict, relations with which began to improve again after the accession to the throne of King Salman in 2015. On the other hand, the deepening of the split within the Arab Coalition in Yemen, primarily between the UAE and Saudi Arabia, forces the Russian authorities not only to balance between the Yemeni actors, but already makes it part of the “Yemeni triangle” along with the UAE and Saudi Arabia. In other words, Russian involvement in the Yemeni crisis has its own limits, which are due to both domestic factors and the specifics of relations with the Gulf countries.
Growing instability and rapid volatility are becoming characteristic features of the socio-political development of the MENA, capable of causing a further increase in the revolutionary process and changing the geostrategic position of this region. The events of the Arab Spring and the impact they had on further reconfiguration of the regional order architecture is still one of the most pressing issues on the agenda of the entire world community. The Arab Spring of 2011 didn’t bring democracy and freedom, prosperity and development. Instead, it exposed even more of deep-rooted divisions in societies throwing the region in disarray prompting old ruling elites to not only face the crisis of their own legitimacy but to address the very consistency of their states and borders, many of which were shaped 100 years ago under Sykes-Picot legacy. The post-Arab Spring environment opened a new chapter of power competition in the region prompting the West to retreat and rethink their priorities while inviting new players to the field laying ground for a new order to be established. The Arab Spring also marked the beginning of the era of new coalitions in the MENA. In the 2010s, an active process of looking for new allies began, unusual alliances emerge, both economically and politically.
The study explores political struggle and the issue of succession in the Mamluk Sultanate, especially under the Circassian Sultans al-Ashraf Īnāl (1453–1461), al-Muʾayyad Aḥmad (25.02.1461–28.06.1461) and al-Ẓāhir Khushqadam (1461–1467) and elucidates intricacies behind their policy. In the Mamluk Sultanate the transfer of power, especially in the Circassian period (1382–1517), was not determined by the principle of dynastic succession. It is well known that the Circassian sultans did not create a dynasty in the full sense of the word. Most of them tried to hand the power over to their sons, but the rule of such heirs tended to be nominal and short-lived. Those Circassian sultans who did manage to remain in power generally were not lineal descendants of their predecessors. A clearly visible trend in the Circassian succession was that an influential and ambitious amir had a good chance of becoming sultan one day.
An attempt to return to the dynasty idea was made by Sultan al-Ashraf Īnāl. His closest advisers were members of his family. Īnāl’s heir, al-Muʾayyad Aḥmad, continued his father’s policy and excluded Mamluk amirs from political decision-making. Al-Muʾayyad Aḥmad was deposed as a result of the concerted actions of the most numerous and influential factions of the Mamluks. Al-Ẓāhir Khushqadam restored the traditional principles of the formation of the political elite, according to which the sultan himself and his amirs attend their offices by merit rather than inheritance and the council of senior emirs should be the main support of the sultan.
The article discusses the prospects of the foreign news research in the media of modern East Asia. The authors present a brief literature review on political discourse in East Asian media and suggest possible research strategies for studying the international agenda in the media of these countries. The article argues that such research approach is valuable as it allows one to better understand the way East Asian countries view foreign news and international relations, study the socio-political processes in this region from a new angle and evaluate the role of the media in politics. The article discusses several social sciences theories that can help to explain and interpret observations obtained during the analysis of publications in the media, for example, the theory of media domestication, the concepts of external legitimacy and "othering". Political regime, independence and commercialization of the media are discussed among explanatory factors. The authors pay attention to the specifics of these theories’ application to the case of East Asia, provide recommendations for data collection and research methods, and discuss various research trajectories. For example, researchers can focus on trends in the representation of an event in the media using content analysis of a large number of publications, another possible strategy is to study a small number of articles using critical discourse analysis in order to identify discursive practices and their relationship with political processes and power. Knowledge of the language, history, politics and culture of East Asian countries, gives researchers of East Asia a significant advantage in conducting such research and could provide valuable contributions.
The article is devoted to the comparative historical analysis of the military component in China’s foreign policy in Africa. A brief historical sketch of China’s African policy after the end of the World War II helps to understand the roots of the impressive strengthening of its political and economic influence on the African continent between 2000 and 2020. Special attention in paid to the causes of political instability in many African countries, the military and political role of the United States on the Black Continent, UN peacekeeping activities and the participation of the Chinese military troops in special operations of this international organization.
The authors conclude that there is a gradual evolution of the interpretation of the concept of responsible power, which holds a prominent place in the official foreign policy doctrine of the PRC. The article explores the genesis of this concept during the reign of the three Chairmen of the PRC Jiang Zemin (1993-2003), Hu Jintao (2003-2013) and Xi Jinping (after 2013), and discusses the stages of the formation of Chinese political- military doctrine, which is detailed in White papers of the Chinese State Council (2015, 2019, 2020).
The article analyses the implementation of the military- political doctrine of the PRC in Africa, the creation of the first foreign multifunctional military base of the PRC in the Republic of Djibouti, and the transition of China from a bilateral model of relations with African countries to block diplomacy in the context of ensuring the collective security of participants in political associations.
The first wave of the civil war in Libya, which ended after the assassination of Muammar Qaddafi in the fall of 2011, did not put an end to the civil conflict in the country. It is shown that in many respects the second wave of the civil war in Libya (the beginning of the active phase of which can be dated May 16, 2014) was a direct continuation of the first wave (February–October 2011). By 2014, it became clear that the Libyan crisis could not be resolved solely through a change in political regime. The revolutionary processes in the case of Libya proved to be fatal for the entire political system, marking the almost complete dismantling of state institutions. Thus, the overthrow of the dictator in Libya did not ultimately solve anything, and the military-political forces that fought in the first wave of civil conflict against Muammar Qaddafi launched an open full-scale armed struggle with each other in May 2014, marking the beginning of the second wave of civil war. This article analyzes the logic and course of the second wave of the civil war in Libya, as well as explores the genesis of key military and political forces in Libya after 2011. The authors conclude that at present time a stalemate has developed in the country. And the impossibility of a military victory for either side of the Libyan conflict allows us to hope for a new agreement between all its parties.
The classical concept of jihad, which formed in the 9th–10th centuries, evolved under the influence of circumstances and was developed by the great Muslim scholars of the Mamluk era (1250–1517). The present paper is based on the works Ibn al-Nahhas (d. 1411), and focuses on the understanding of the theory and the practice of jihad in the Circassian Sultanate (1382–1517). The idea of jihad became a key element of the ideology of Mamluk sultans and was aimed at strengthening the legitimacy of their power. In the Circassian period, jihad as a teaching retained its connection with the most important Islamic values embodied in the concepts of «justice» (al-ʿadl) and «truth» (al-ḥaqq). Anyone who knew how to use the jihad doctrine as a means received in his hands a powerful tool for manipulating the consciousness of believers in his own political interests, regardless of what moral principles he was guided by.
The authors explore the issue of understanding jihad as the responsibility of the community (farḍ al-kifāya) and/or personal responsibility (farḍ al-ʿayn) and the role of jihad ideology Ottoman-Mamluk confrontation in the 15th–16th centuries.
A fertile ground for this paper was given by studies of M. Bonner and D. Cook, who supplemented a balanced approach to the interpretation of jihad in historical perspective with a critical consideration of its religious and political meanings. The authors emphasize the importance of difference between the understanding of jihad as a collective and individual obligation using the concept of minimalism and maximalism developed by Y. Waghid.
The conclusions of the study are valid not only for the Middle Ages, but are directly related to modernity. The authors emphasize this point, drawing parallels between the theory and the practice of jihad in the Mamluk period with the events in modern Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
The Burji period (1382-1517) in Egypt and Syria was marked by significant changes in the state system and substantial shifts in the social structure. The purpose of the current paper is to examine the activities of the several generations of the Egyptian al-Tablawi family, whose members served the Mamluks in the late 14th through the first half of the 15th centuries, as a tangible evidence of the gradual transformation of the sultanate’s military administrative structure.
The al-Tablawi family members served in various government positions, the most prominent being those of wazir and wali. Throughout the almost entire burji period the former was occupied by the Men of the Pen, i.e. civilians, while the latter was reserved for the Men of the Sword, i.e. Mamluk amirs. The al-Tablawis thus straddled the social divide between the military and civilian population that had been practically impermeable in the early Mamluk period, which makes the history of this family worth special attention.
The paper draws on the evidence from the Arabic chronicles and biographical dictionaries and encyclopedias of the 14th-16th centuries. Our earliest source is the multivolume encyclopedia of Subh al-ʿashā fi kitābat al-inshaʾ («The Blind Man's Illumination in the Art of Chancery Communication») by ʿAli al-Qalqashandi (1355–1418), which describes the structure of the Mamluk administration, including the positions occupied by the al-Tablawis. The most extensive use is made of the works by Taqi al-Din al-Maqrizi (1364-1442) and Jamal al-Din Abu al-Muhasin Ibn Tagri Bardi (1409/1411-1469/1470). The former author was of Egyptian origin and served in the administration for some time, whereas the latter had a mamluk background, being a son of a high-ranking amir who was in service during the reigns of Barquq (1382-1399) and Faraj (1399-1412).
The paper also relies on the writings of Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī (1372-1449), his disciple al-Ṣayrafī (1416-1495), ʿAbd al-Rahman al-Sakhāwī (1427-1497) and Muhammad Ibn Iyās (1448-1524).
The al-Tablawi family exemplifies a bureaucratic dynasty – a common phenomenon in the burji period, which has received some researchers’ attention (see, for instance, Bernadette Martel-Thoumian Les civils et l'administration dans l'état militaire mamlūk (IXe/XVe siècle)). The distinguishing characteristic of this family that initially did not belong to the privileged classes of the Egyptian society was that its members occupied both military and civil positions in the government; a circumstance which, in our opinion, reflects the gradual changes within the Mamluk military administrative structure and a move towards the new patterns of recruitment to the political and bureaucratic elite.
The article reviews the book by Ludmila M. Ermakova “Russian-Japanese Reflections: History, Literature, Arts” (Moscow: Vostochnaya Literatura, 2020. 327 pp. ISBN 978-5-02-039851-1). The book is a collection of the author’s recent articles which are devoted to a variety of subjects covering the history of Russian-Japanese cultural interaction and the history of Japanese studies in Russia. The review notes the breadth of the author’s interests and the depth of elaboration of each topic, the integrity of the collection and its importance for the history of Japanese studies in Russia