La Vigie Nr 117 : China and the heart of the earth | A look at North Africa | Lorgnette : Spanish elections

La Vigie, Strategic letter, Nr 117 ( 8 MAY 2019)

China and the heart of the earth

China, which is re-emerging, is, in the eyes of the United States, the challenger. Yet, despite its need for revenge on unequal treaties imposed by “barbarians” and felt as a humiliation, it has no desire for power. Certainly, its “Belt and Roads” initiative to refocus across Asia is a major geo-economic ambition: it can be seen as a re-reading of the founders of Anglo-Saxon geopolitics and the intention to control the heartland. This requires us to renew our strategic calculations.

A look at North Africa

North Africa is a strategic area that is poorly identified and agitated by multiple rivalries. In the centre, torn Libya is experiencing a strong east-west push that is having a negative effect on the adjacent Maghreb. France must be careful not to encourage this perverse dynamic and promote an autonomous Maghreb area based on the MENA concept.

Lorgnette: Spanish elections

The Spanish general elections on 28 June did not quite resolve the country’s deep political crisis. Certainly, the Socialist Party comes first and if it allies itself with Podemos (radical left), it arrives at 11 seats of the majority necessary to govern. Faced with it, the Popular Party lost many seats, a loss badly compensated by Vox, a radical right-wing formation born of a split. This right-wing bloc is reportedly supported by the centrist, liberal and anti-independence party, Ciudadanos.

In other words, no “classic” left-wing majority is possible without the support of small parties. The Catalan secessionist parties obtained only 39% of the votes, which puts the independence issue into perspective in a context of electoral mobilization. P. Sanchez, the socialist leader, could rely on the ERC (Catalan left) or on a Basque party and some independents.

Nevertheless, P. Sanchez will not want to launch a referendum on the independence of Catalonia (even if we wait for the regional elections on 26 May to check the intensity of the independence movement, which fell on 28 June, see LV 94). It is to be hoped that the fragile coalition that will be put in place will help to cool the secessionist crisis.

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New Silk Roads and Central Asia : Shanghai Cooperation Organisation ( SCO) on the frontline… (E.Dupuy)

The convening of the 17th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO founded 15th January 2001) summit , on the 7th and 8th June 2017, in Astana,  Kazakhstan, was an opportunity to highlight the specificity of the only intergovernmental organisation bringing together 5 of the 6 Central Asian States – ex-soviet republics, (with the exception of Turkmenistan)  and the only one created and de facto “influenced” by Beijing.

Source

(article en français)

Beyond that, it is now the geo-economic interactions and geopolitical convergences between the SCO and China’s “New Silk Roads” (One Belt, One Road, OBOR) project that have to be taken into account to realise how this new “Great Game” will deeply unsettle international relations. Continue reading “New Silk Roads and Central Asia : Shanghai Cooperation Organisation ( SCO) on the frontline… (E.Dupuy)”

N° 80 : Europe, region and unity | The Malian Ordeal | The Chinese CINC

Abstracts of the articles

Europe, region and unity

It is an understatement to say that the Catalan issue has revealed an avalanche of unspoken things and contradictions : Beyond the Spanish situation, it brings us back to the relationship between the Union and the Nation and, more generally speaking, to the link between legality and sovereignty. Catalonia or the egotism of the rich. The Catalan claim should be appreciated for what it is : The will of the rich to isolate themselves from their community of origin and benefit from self-segregation. We can however add history and identity, that makes this issue uncomfortable and remains a source of ambiguity. But let us not be mistaken : It is selfishness of the priviledged that don’t want to for the collective solidarity anymore. In fact they proclaim it openly : « We provide 20% of the Spanish GDP, why should we pay for the rest of the country ? ». This point raises one of the essential roots of national cohesion, that of territorial solidarity. […]

The Malian ordeal

After the thawing of the bipolar order of the cold war, a certain number of States were subjected to strong internal constraints that weakened them nay threatened their very existence ( dissidence, internal conflicts, ethnoreligious conflicts, mafias and latent criminality). But the collapse of some of them would alter the established order of Yalta, or even that of Westphalia. The French armed forces were therefore engaged on the outside, in emergency situations and in support of the endangered States. After the missions in ex-Yugoslavia and in Rwanda in the 1990’s, there were the expeditions in Afghanistan in the 2000’s and then those of Libya, the Ivory Coast, Malia and the CAR.  Not forgetting the incessant maritime battle against piracy and narcos. It was about preserving a certain state of organization of the world founded on the States, basic pawns of the international society, actors of joyful globalization. In the legal framework of the United Nations Security Counsel, military action was lead within coalitions supported more or less directly by the UN, NATO or the EU.

These military actions contrasted with the anterior missions of support and peace driven according to the Agenda for Peace of the UN or the Petersberg Tasks of the EU. They were high intensity combat missions in a Euro-Atlantic collective. This was not the case however in Malia. The Serval operation triggered in the beginning of 2013 showed France was very lonely on the front line. Operation Barkhane that replaced it, and tthe Sahel G5 force that could support it or substitute it remained just as solitary. Notice that there is for France a strong strategic exposure in a Malia whose security and political situation evades them. […]

Lorgnette : The Chinese CINC

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Crédit : Rob Shenk via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-SA