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The Journal for politics, economics, and culture of the Middle East published by the German Orient-Institute

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01/11/21

Digital & Print

Includes print delivery and digital access to 4 new issues of the Orient Journal per year (starting from the date of your purchase). Does not include access to all previously published issues until (and including) the year 2008.

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28/10/21

Print

Includes 4 new issues of the Orient Journal per year (starting from the date of your purchase) in print. Does not include any digital (online) access.

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28/10/21

Digital

Includes digital access to 4 new issues of the Orient Journal per year (starting from the date of your purchase). Does not include access to issues published before the date of your subscription purchase.

50% Discount for Students! To make use of this discount you must send us an E-Mail with a scanned copy of your valid Student-Card (Student-ID) from your University-E-mail. Afterwards, you will receive a coupon code. If you do not want to wait you can pay the full price now and receive a free year of subscription after the first year paid in full.

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01/10/21

Revisiting India’s Middle East policy: Diplomacy, politics, strategy and business

India has a long-standing relationship with the Middle East region. The Middle East – or West Asia – has had a great impact on Indian culture and vocabulary Arabian and Persian traders used to come to India, meaning that economic connectivity between India and West Asia is centuries old. Through the ages, India and West Asia have interacted in
different ways. Since India achieved independence, the relational patterns between the two have witnessed many ups and downs and the West Asian region now plays a significant role in India’s economy. India is maintaining a fine balance between Israel and Palestine, while from the viewpoint of political security, India has signed prisoner repatriation treaties
with various West Asian countries. India has also signed various agreements with Israel to purchase defence equipment. Traditional relations aside, India adopted a specific “Look West” policy in 2005 in order to deepen engagement with its West Asian neighbours. Historically, West Asian countries have been considered as the “extended”, and “proximate”
neighbours. The role of third parties (e.g. USA, China, Russia and Pakistan) is very significant in relational equations. India
has established its multidimensional relations with West Asian regional organisations.

Debasish Nandy is an Associate Professor and Head, Department of Political Science, Kazi Nazrul University, Asansol, West Bengal, India. He is the Visiting Faculty in the Department of Foreign Area Studies at Tajik National University, Dushanbe, Republic of Tajikistan. His research interests include India’s Foreign Policy, South Asian Politics, Refugees and Migration, and Security Affairs.

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01/10/21

Russia’s regional balancing and interests in the Middle East: Benefits, risks and implications for Europe

The main shift in Russia’s Middle East policy, upgraded since 2015, has been a move away from Western-centeredness towards more active engagement with, and balancing between, regional actors. The article explores the benefits, costs and risks associated with such regionalisation for Moscow, outlines key interests pursued by Russia in view of its new regional role and analyses its implications for Europe. It tries to explain why, despite the EU’s more balanced approach to the Middle East, the space for Russia-Europe cooperation in the region appears even more limited than that with the United States and identifies a few areas of confluence of interest and potential cooperation.

Ekaterina Stepanova is Lead Researcher and Head of Peace and Conflict Studies Unit, Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), Moscow. Her research focus is on armed conflicts, peace processes, peacebuilding, terrorism, radicalisation, human security and political economy of conflicts. Her several books include ISIS and the Phenomenon of Foreign Terrorist Fighters in Syria and Iraq (IMEMO, 2020) and Terrorism in Asymmetrical Conflict (Oxford University Press, 2008).

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01/10/21

Russia in a post-American Middle East: The shaping of a new regional order

The Cold War’s bipolarism first and the US’ unipolar moment after, have shaped the international order for decades, including the MENA regional order. Over the last few years, globally and regionally, a redistribution of power seems to be taking place. As the US role as the unchallenged security provider in the region is steadily declining, new powers are rising and old ones are making their return. Russia belongs in the latter category, and provides the most successful example: after years of quasi-absence, not only Moscow is back but it has become one of the most determinant players in the region affairs. Much of this success builds on the historical advantage that the Russians enjoyed in the MENA region since early in the past century, which helps Russia to build on historical partnerships to establish collaborations. However, although elements of continuity with the past exist, Russia today behaves differently. This article challenges some of the most common assumptions when dealing with Russia’s role in the MENA. Particularly, the narrative of the region as the stage for US-Russia competition sounds obsolete, for Russia seems to be moving in a largely post-American scenario.

Chiara Lovotti is a Doctoral Fellow at the University of Bologna and a Visitor at the School of Global and Area Studies of the University of Oxford. She is a specialist in the international relations of the MENA region, with a focus on Russia’s foreign policy in the area and associated political and security issues. Her current academic research explores the Soviet Union’s impact on the state-building processes in postcolonial Arab countries, especially Egypt, Iraq and Syria. Chiara is also Fellow at the Europaeum Scholars Programme and Associate Research Fellow at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies. She has recently co-edited a Routledge book entitled “Russia in the Middle East and North Africa. Continuity and Change”.

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01/10/21

Russia and the Middle East: The quest for recognition

Russia’s military intervention into Syria in 2015 marked a significant return of Russian power and influence in the Middle East. This article provides a historical context for understanding Russian interests in the region and the elements of continuity and change from the Soviet and Tsarist Russian periods. It assesses the current state of Russia’s relations with the major regional states and how Russian power and influence compares with other key external actors, such as the United States, Europe and China.

Roland Dannreuther is Professor of International Relations at the University of Westminster. His research interests include international security studies, energy politics and the regional and foreign policy of Russia, the Middle East and Central Asia.

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01/10/21

US-Egyptian relations after the Arab Spring

The article aims to examine US policy towards Egypt after the Arab Spring. It is highlighted that Washington’s policy is characterised by pragmatism, due to Egypt’s strategic importance. Despite some turbulence after the military coup, Egypt under Sisi remains a predictable and stable partner.

Radosław Fiedler is an Associate Professor at Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland, and head of the Department for Non-European Political Studies at the Faculty of Political Science and Journalism.

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01/10/21

China’s foreign policy pragmatism and influence in Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia

China’s presence in North Africa is longstanding but has increased significantly since the launch of the New Silk Road in 2013. While Sino-Algerian relations are the most comprehensive, China has also engaged with the other states, albeit predominantly in the economic realm. Pursuing a geo-economic approach, Beijing is also attracted by the North African states’ geostrategic position in the Mediterranean, their proximity to Europe, and as gateways to sub-Saharan Africa. The interconnectivity of networks will serve Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, the hallmark of President Xi Jinping’s foreign policy. Traditionally under the influence of European and US powers, the North African states have decided since the financial crisis of 2008 and the Arab uprisings of 2011 to turn to China and other outside powers for economic cooperation, particularly to revamp their inadequate infrastructure. While China has been rather successful in establishing good rapport with all the states in the region, its soft power has yet to match its economic prowess. Nevertheless,
its health diplomacy under the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an increase in popularity in the region.

Yahia H. Zoubir is Professor of International Studies and International Management and Director of Research in Geopolitics at KEDGE Business School, France. He is also a Non-Resident Fellow at the Middle East Institute (Washington, DC). He is the author and/or editor of several books, such as The Routledge Handbook on China and the Middle East and North Africa (2022), Algerian Politics: Domestic Issues & International Relations (2020), North African Politics (2016), Global Security Watch-The Maghreb (2013), North Africa: Politics, Region and the Limits of Transformation (2008), etc. He has published dozens of articles in academic journals, like the Journal of Contemporary China, Foreign Affairs, Third World Quarterly, Mediterranean Politics, International Affairs, Africa Spectrum, Journal of North African Studies, Democratization, Middle East Journal, Arab Studies Quarterly, Africa Today and Middle East Policy as well as dozens of book chapters and articles in encyclopedias. His research interests focus on the foreign policies of China, Russia and the United States in the Middle East and North Africa as well as issues of international development and governance.

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01/10/21

Will China become the new dominant actor in the broader Middle East?

Long considered peripherical and relatively insignificant by China´s leadership the Broader Middle East and particularly the Gulf States have moved into the focus of China´s foreign, foreign economic and security policy. China´s dependence on the region for oil supply has multiplied due to its economic boom. The safety of the shipping routes across the Arab and the Red Seas and the Suez Canal to Europe have become a Chinese concern too and the influence of Islamic fundamentalism from the region on its own Muslims. While China´s interest in the region has grown, the region is no longer a top priority for the US, since it has become self-sufficient in energy. The US has also reduced its military presence in the region. This leads to the impression that China could replace the US in the medium and longer term. This could indeed be the result, if the US is further retrenching form the region, but there are no signs that China intends to replace or even to push the US out of the region. With frequent top-level visits to key partners China pursues a friends-to-all approach to the region which it tries to integrate more and more in its Belt and Road Initiative and the Shanghai Cooperation Association. It remains open if Beijing can continue with this approach and avoid getting entangled in the conflicts of the region.

Heinrich Kreft is a German career diplomat and academic. Since September 2020 he is the Director of the Center for Diplomacy at Andrássy University in Budapest, Hungary, where he also holds the Chair for Diplomacy. From 2016–2020 he was Ambassador to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and before that Deputy Chief of Mission of the German Embassy in Madrid. Prior to this he was Ambassador and Director General for International Academic and Educational Relations and Dialogue among Civilizations in the German Foreign Ministry (2011-2014). In this capacity he set up various dialogue projects among others with parliamentarians and politicians from various Arab countries, Germany, France and the UK. Prior to this he served as Senior Foreign and Security Policy Advisor in the German Parliament (2006-2010). As diplomat he was stationed in La Paz (1988-91), in Tokyo (1991-94) and Washington D.C. (2001-04). In the Foreign Ministry he was a member of the Policy Planning Staff (in charge of the Americas, Asia and Economic Issues 1996-2001) and later Senior Strategic Analyst and Deputy Head of Policy Planning Staff (2004-06); He was visiting fellow at The Henry L Stimson Center (July-Dec. 2001), the Heritage Foundation (Jan. – March 2002) and the Woodrow Wilson International Center (April – June 2002) in Washington, D.C.; He has published extensively on major power political and economic relations; on international security; the Arab World; European, American and Asian political and economic affairs. Most recent publications on US-China relations; transatlantic relations; Islam in Germany; geopolitics and culture and on German and European foreign policy. He is a member of the German Council on Foreign Relations and of the Board of Trustees of the German Oriental Institute and The Sheikh Group. Heinrich Kreft has studied in the US, in Paris (“Science Po”) and holds a Master’s Degree and a Ph.D. in Political Science, History and Sociology from WWU Münster in Germany. He did field research in Ecuador and as a member of the German Development Institute (GDI) in Mali (Timbouctu region).

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01/10/21

The reconstruction of Syria: The winners share the loot

After more than nine years of war, the situation in Syria has improved only slightly. Although most of the major front lines have now disappeared, military conflicts continue to dominate events in the country. But while fighting continues throughout the country in provinces like Idlib or in smaller operations against IS, the victors are already dividing up the country and its treasures. Russia, Iran and China in particular are trying to derive the greatest possible economic and strategic benefit from the situation. In addition, there is a regime that is dividing up the remaining economic assets among itself and its closest circles while at the same time the general population is coming under increasing pressure. But what options for action do the states of the European Union have in all this, or are their actors already doomed to powerlessness?

Stefan Lukas is a lecturer at the Chair of International Relations at the University of Jena and guest lecturer at the Military Academy of German Armed Forces in Hamburg. Lukas researches and publishes primarily on the security policy of the states of the Middle East. In addition to China’s influence in the Middle East, his current research focuses primarily on the effects of climate change on the region’s security policy.

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01/10/21

Orient IV 2021

Heinrich Kreft
Will China become the new dominant actor in the broader Middle East?

Yahia H. Zoubir
China’s foreign policy pragmatism and influence in Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia

Radosław Fiedler
US-Egyptian relations after the Arab Spring

Roland Dannreuther
Russia and the Middle East: The quest for recognition

Chiara Lovotti
Russia in a post-American Middle East: The shaping of a new regional order

Ekaterina Stepanova
Russia’s regional balancing and interests in the Middle East: Benefits, risks and implications for Europe

Debasish Nandy
Revisiting India’s Middle East policy: Diplomacy, politics, strategy and business

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