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





Local governance in Afghanistan: A solution to a failed state?

Modern Afghanistan has never been able to establish a powerful central state despite the country having experienced different political systems. The decades-long conflicts are rooted in the lack of an effective, communicative relationship between the centre Kabul and rural areas. The issue of rural locality has been intensified by a huge diversity in terms of ethnicity, religion, sect, language, and culture. Thus, rurality is not merely interpreted as locality, but as ethnicity, language, and religion. This article briefly investigates the concept of local governance in Afghan politics.

S. Asef Hossaini was born in Balkh, in the north of Afghanistan. He grew up as a refugee in Iran, studying philosophy and sociology at Kabul University before joining his master programme in public policy at the Willy Brandt School at the University of Erfurt. He defended his PhD in International Conflict Management in 2017 at the same school. He is currently an online editor.

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Foreign aid in Afghanistan as an international security and foreign policy tool

With the 1990s, the belief that economically and politically unstable states pose a threat to global peace and security became widespread. As a result of this belief, the stabilisation of these states through foreign aid began to be evaluated as a collective responsibility. Afghanistan is one of these examples, especially within the framework of the efforts carried out in the post-2001 period. Although 20 years of efforts have failed to stabilise the country, the international community faces a serious dilemma in providing aid to the Taliban regime. This article discusses the effects of foreign aid and state-building policies in Afghanistan since 2001, and the challenges of maintaining of foreign aid to the country during the Taliban rule.

Emrah Özdemir is Associate Professor of International Relations at Çankırı Karatekin University. His research includes global politics, security studies and war studies, specifically irregular warfare, and post-conflict remedies. He has published articles in a number of prestigious journals and chapters in books such as Routledge Handbook of Peace, Security and Development, Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace, and Conflict (3rd Ed.) and The Future of Middle East.

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Orient I 2022: Afghanistan

Emrah Özdemir
Foreign aid in Afghanistan as an international security and foreign policy tool

S. Asef Hossaini
Local governance in Afghanistan: A solution to a failed state?

Katja Mielke
Looking beyond stereotypes: A critical reflection of popular narratives about the Taliban movement

Anchita Borthakur
The Taliban’s interim administration: The rise of the Haqqani Network and its implications

Patrick A. Mello
German parliamentary debates and decision-making on Afghanistan

Alessandro Arduino
China’s anxiety over Afghanistan

Julian Tucker
A brief history of international influence in Afghanistan

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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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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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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.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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