"Asia and Africa today"
- is a scientificl monthly journal (in Russian)
of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Included in Russian Science Citation Index on
WoS platform, and EBSCO Publishing.
ISSN 0321-5075
Published since July 1957.

 

 "Asia and Africa today" № 10 2019

 

 

Aziaafrika 10 2019

 

 TOP PROBLEM

QATARI-TURKISH ALLIANCE CHALLEHGE FOR REGIONAL LEADERSHIP

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750006519-2

Aleksey M. VASILIEV, Academician, Professor, Honorary President, Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences; Head, Department of African and Arabic Studies, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University); Editor-in-Chief, “Aziya i Afrika segodnya” journal ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Timur R. KHAYRULLIN, PhD (Political Science), Research Fellow, Center for Civilizational and Regional Studies, Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences; Research Fellow,  Center of Political Studies, Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Andrey V. KOROTAYEV, Dr.Sc. (History), Professor, Head, Laboratory  for  Monitoring  the  Risks  of  Socio-Political Destabilization,  National  Research  University  Higher  School  of  Economics;  Chief  Research  Fellow,  Institute  for  African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences; Research Fellow, RUDN University ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    The Qatari-Turkish alliance, using the pan-Arab network of the Muslim Brotherhood as well as their ideology as a tool to achieve regional leadership, managed to achieve impressive success during the first period of Arab Spring in 2011-2012. The Qatari-Turkish alliance proved to be quite an effective mechanism. Indeed, despite the big economic, demographic and military potential (comparable to Iran, Saudi Arabia or Egypt), Turkey (as a non-Arab state) hardly had any real chances to single-handedly achieve regional leadership in the predominantly Arab region (by the way, this is a serious obstacle to Iranian efforts). On the other hand, Qatar, despite its enormous financial resources and Arab identity, is too small to make any serious attempt alone to achieve broad regional influence. Qatar and Turkey managed to throw in 2010-2012 quite an impressive challenge to other regional powers only after they joined forces, adding to this the broad political potential of the pan-Arab Association of Muslim Brotherhood. However, in 2013, Saudi Arabia and its allies managed to carry out a fairly successful counteroffensive. Its central element was the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt, carried out in alliance with the Egyptian military and some other internal Egyptian and international forces. At the moment, Saudi Arabia seems to be the only Middle East power that seriously seeks regional leadership, but the potencial of the Turkish-Qatari-Ikhvan Alliance should not be underestimated.

Keywords: Qatari-Turkish Alliance, Muslim Brotherhood, Islamism, Salafis, Saudi Arabia, instability, Syria

 

 POLITICS, ECONOMY 

STATES OF SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA AT THE DIGITAL AGE: TO THE PROBLEM OF THE ENSURING OF THE INFORMATION SOUVEREIGNITY

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750006520-4

Konstantin A. PANTSEREV, Dr.Sc. (Political Science), Professor, Saint-Petersburg State University ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    There has been undertaken the attempt of the detection of the true position of the states of Sub-Saharan Africa in the world information and communication space in the paper. The author comes to a conclusion that those countries don’t dispose an appropriate financial and technological base which would be sufficient for the creation of well-developed and self-reliant African informational and communicational space. This is why the only chance of bridging the digital gap for African countries still remains the extension of a flow of financial and technological aid from developed nations for the development of their ICT sector. But the excessive participation of Western countries in the construction of the African ICT industry actually strengthens the African countries’ dependence on their Western partners, producing a serious obstacle to the creation of the self-reliant African model of the information society and threatens their information sovereignty. That’s why nowadays it is extremely important not only to think how to implement new technologies into society but to ensure  the information sovereignty which supposes the creation of the self-reliant information and communication space in this or that country which would be independent from any external influence. Only the achievement of the information sovereignty can guarantee the ensuring of the independence of the State in the contemporary digital age. 

Keywords: States of Sub-Saharan Africa, Information Technologies, Information Sovereignty, Information Asymmetry, Information Security, Information Policy, Innovations

 

DIGITALISATION PECULIARITIES OF ISRAEL AND BUSINESS. Part II

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750006521-5

Dmitry A. MARYASIS, PhD (Economics), Senior Research Fellow, Israel and Jewish Communities’ Studies Department, Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    The study of digitalization in the business environment has two fundamental aspects: an analysis of the digitalization level of this environment as such and an analysis of the domestic supply of new technologies developed by local companies that promote the digital transformation of the economy. The specificity of the Israeli digitalization experience is such that if there is no problem with the latter in the country, there are obvious problems with the former. The peculiarity of the Israeli business sector digital transformation is that with the presence of a large number of relevant technologies in the country, the domestic market in many respects clearly does not match Israel’s claims to world leadership in the innovation economy as a whole and in the digital economy as part of it.

    A reflection of this duality is, in particular, the insufficiently high position of the country in the relevant international ratings. We note, however, that Israel is actively cooperating with the outside world in the field of digitalization, adapting successful experience in this area of ​​other countries, which seems to allow the country to gradually solve its existing problems in this area. Israeli small innovative companies are active in various sectors of the digital economy and achieve noticeable results. One of the most successful and significant areas is digital health. Its importance is determined not only by quantitative indicators of attracting funds and making profit, but also by the possibilities to have a significant positive impact on the quality of people’s life.

Keywords: Israel, business digitalization, digital transformation, small innovative companies, digital health care.

 

HYDROPOWER DEVELOPMENT IN MEKONG RIVER BASIN

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750006522-6

Svetlana A. BOKERIYA, PhD (Law), Associate Professor, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University) ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Thi Ngoc Lan NGUYEN (Vietnam), Student of the master program “Global security and international development”, RUDN University ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

   Given a substantial importance of international river basins for providing almost 60% of global freshwater, accommodating around 42% of the world population, spanning 151 countries, producing roughly 54% of the global river discharge, development on international river basins is perceived as an important issue in bilateral or multilateral relationship of reparian states as developments by one reparian may affect the opportunities of developments by other ones. Hydropower development continues to be a “difficult-to-address” challenge for the regional cooperation and situation with the Mekong River and 6 riparian countries including China, Myanmar, Thailand, Lao DPR, Cambodia and Vietnam proves that.  Focusing on the hydropower development problems in Mekong River Basin, regulation mechanisms for harmonization of using energy resources, analysis of confrontation between hydropower supporters and opposers, this research answers two significant questions: how hydropower influences on regional cooperation in the Mekong River Basin and why the reparian states can’t find compromise on using hydropower potential of the Mekong River. Politization of “water question” actualized problems not only regional but global security too. Only the establishment of an effective mechanism for managing the water resources of the Mekong River, which all reparian countries would support, could solve the complex hydropower development problems, but this is hampered by objective international contradictions between states, behind which national interests are hidden.

Keywords: Mekong River Basin, hydropower development, regional cooperation and non-traditional security, reparian states, confrontation

 

SPECIFICS OF CHINESE TIMBER-PRODUCT IMPORT

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750006523-7

Maria V. ALEXANDROVA, PhD (Economics), Leading Research Fellow, Institute of Far Eastern Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

   The article describes the major phases in development of the PRC timber economy. The thorough analysis addresses the factors, which caused influence on the change in the species of timber, being imported by China. The author presents the retrospective analysis of the specifics featuring the imports of timber and sawn wood with a special focus on the major exporter countries, and presents the major reasons for the rapid growth of the sawn-woods imports in the last five-year period. Another subject, analyzed in the article, is connected with the prospects for export from the Russian timber industry to the Chinese market. As noted by the author, at the present time the geograpgy of using the Russian timber in the PRC is expanding quite evidently. The author states that while earlier the Russian timber was only used in the north-east, northern and western parts of China and on its east coast, at the present time the Russian timber resources are proliferating in the central and south-western parts of the country. The sphere of applying the Russian timber and sawn woods is growing. While in the previous years these items were only used as a consumable building material in the low-price segment of the market, at the present time they are used in manufacturing of furniture and the range of goods for children.

Keywords: forest planting, nature-oriented projects, crude timber, species composition, sawn wood, China

 

PIRACY. MORE OR LESS?

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750006524-8

Ekaterina A. ELKINA, Research Fellow, Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

   The paper analyzes piracy in the Indian and Atlantic oceans.  Emphasis is placed on the situation in the Gulf of Guinea, because of the seizure of Russian sailors in January 2019. Armed men boarded the ship “MSC Mandy” and took the captain and 5 crew members hostage. All of them are citizens Russia. They were released after a month of captivity. Maritime piracy has a long history, but the last decade has turned into a well-organized criminal business, which is the problem for shipping and for sailors. Spots of piracy appear and disappear in various regions of the world. Modern criminals are not only interested in primitive robberies that their predecessors hunted for, they also attack ships to take hostages and valuable cargo. Moreover, pirates are usually good aware of their potential “victim” and well armed.

   It is believed that the world economy bears the following types of losses from piracy: directly from the seizure of ships; from changing the routes of vessels; the cost of providing additional security for ships; from the increased cost of insurance; the cost of the naval forces present in the region; security criminal prosecution of pirates. Piracy and fear of piracy is a huge problem. People who survived piracy attacks or abduction cannot forget the violence and horror that they had to endure, and it has a devastating effect on both them and their families. What should the world community do to improve the safety of sailors?

Keywords: pirates, security, Africa, Russia, insurance

 

RUSSIA AND THE EAST

ON CHILDREN OF MIXED RACE SAY A WORD (to the 20th anniversary of the Charity Fund "Metis»)

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750006525-9

Natalia L. KRYLOVA, Dr.Sc. (History), Professor, Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

   The article is devoted to the study of the complex and little-studied problem of racially mixed families and their offspring living in Russia. The history of the Russian charity Fund METIS, which for 20 years has been dealing with the problems of social adaptation of children from mixed marriages.

   Today it is impossible to say with certainty that our active acquaintance and the adoption of rules approved in the world community, has simplified the lives of these contingents, both organizationally and psychologically, in Russia itself. Nevertheless, it is in the context of modern social development that it is necessary to understand that in trying to enter the planetary common cultural space, we ourselves must first of all not only facilitate the process of integration of mestizos into the one-racial world, but also, on the contrary, learn from them and through them the rules of multi-racial hostel, social harmony and tolerance, so scarce in today's Russia.

   Russian society will undoubtedly lose a lot if it starts to reject groups of “racial hybrids”, which are nevertheless carriers of Russian culture, living in many ways Russian values and at the same time able to translate them into other civilizations, owning local cultural-semantic, information and behavioral codes. And in this regard, a wealth of many years of international experience is extremely useful, using which you can try to more or less successfully control the situation, providing this group with both information and advice, and moral assistance.

Keywords: Russia, METIS Foundation, mixed marriages, Metis children, racial discrimination, culture

 

 А LETTER TO THE EDITOR

INDIA: THE ELUSIVE IDEAL OF NON-VIOLENCE

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750005164-2

Petr Yu. TSVETOV, PhD (History), Associate Professor, Сhair of International Relations, Diplomatic Academy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russian Federation ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

   The author of the article engages in polemics with Russian Indologists (A.L.Safronova, S.I.Lunev etc), who insists that the opposition movement in India is based on the principles of non-violence. They see the roots of the practice of non-violence in the fundamental concepts of Hinduism and Jainism, such as karma, Dharma, Ahimsa, as well as in the caste division of Indian society. And recall Gandhi's civil disobedience campaigns. The historical experience of India shows that violence in the national culture of this country is no less than the rejection of it.  According to the number of assassinations of top officials (Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi), India can be on a par with the United States and Tsarist Russia. Clashes between peasants and landowners, untouchables (Dalits) and members of the upper castes, during the strikes of workers rarely do without human casualties, and the destruction and material damage amount to billions of rupees.  The author gives examples from the Naxalite movement, the protests of women and Dalits, the confrontation in Kashmir and from clashes at Sabarimala temple in Kerala in the beginning of 2019. Readers can recall the events of 1922, when in the town of Chauri-Chaura protesters burned alive 22 policemen. Then M.Gandhi himself said: "India was not yet non-violent enough to embark on a campaign of civil disobedience”. The author concludes: Violence is as widespread in India as non-violence. This applies both to today and to the time when M. Gandhi was at the head of the liberation movement of the Indian people.

Keywords: India, non-violence, protest movement, Naxalites, Kashmir, M.Gandhi

 

 POST-GRADUATE COLUMN

COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF U.S. POLICY TOWARD NORTH KOREA UNDER THE OBAMA AND THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750006527-1

Huilin CAO (China), Post-graduate student, Faculty of Political Science, St. Petersburg State University (huilin369б163.com)

   The North Korean issue, especially the North Korean nuclear issue, is a major factor affecting the situation on the Korean Peninsula and peace and stability in Northeast Asia. North Korea’s nuclear weapons are seen by many countries as a threat to Northeast Asia’s security. Since Donald Trump took the office of President of the United States, he has made significant adjustments in foreign policy towards North Korea. Refusing the policy of “strategic patience” of Barack Obama’s administration, he proposed using the “maximum pressure” strategy to develop relations with North Korea (DPRK). In particular, Donald Trump implemented a policy of direct dialogue with North Korea, which none of his predecessors had previously achieved and eased the situation on the peninsula. Despite the differences between Trump's and Obama's policies, they share the same starting point and follow the principle of America first. Barack Obama and Donald Trump put America's interests first, and they are firm on the North Korean issue, so it is hard to make concessions to North Korean. The paper discusses the geopolitical position of the Korean Peninsula in accordance with Nicholas Spykman’s geopolitical theory, emphasizes the importance of the North Korean’s geopolitical position, especially in the framework of the US diplomatic strategy. This article also provides a comparative analysis of the foreign policy strategies of the administrations of Barack Obama and Donald Trump, as well as highlights their main characteristics, principles and goals. It should be emphasized that in the foreign policy of Barack Obama and Donald Trump with respect to the DPRK there are similarities and differences. Finally, the article points out the steps and measures that should be taken in order to realize the denuclearisation of the DPRK, as well as peace and security in northeast Asia.

Keywords: geopolitics, North Korea, Barack Obama's foreign policy strategy, Donald Trump's foreign policy strategy, the problem of nuclear weapons

 

 PAGES OF HISTORY

K. GANDHI ABOUT RUSSIA

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750006528-2

Valeriy P. KASHIN, PhD (History), Leading Research Fellow, Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

   The author of the following article analyses M.K.Gandhi’s sayings about Russia, its history and culture. M.K.Gandhi (1869–1948) was the leader of Freedom struggle in India and the “Father of the Nation”. One can find these sayings in Gandhi’s numerous works – books, articles, speeches, letters and interviews, which are included into The Collected Works by M.K. Gandhi in 100 volumes. He was especially interested in Russia because of Leo Tolstoy regarded by Gandhi as his Guru. Gandhi and Tolstoy wrote to one another in 190 –1910 and Gandhi called the great Russian writer “the Apostol of non-violence”.

   Gandhi never visited Russia. He took all the information about the country from the enemy English press and people who had been to Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Yasnaya Polyana at different time. The author of the article thinks that Gandhi’s opinions on the Northern country were full of distrust and criticism. Gandhi connected the ruling regime in Russia, Tzarism followed then by Bolshevism, with terror, violence and suppression of deprived of civil rights and its share people. The only positive thing he mentioned was the opening of schools to abolish illiteracy and raise the people’s awareness as well as the development of the Russian language as a national one.

   Gandhi neither sympathized with the Soviet leaders nor read a single article by Lenin or Stalin. For him, Lenin was a reformer and Stalin was a dictator. Gandhi supposed that Russia was responsible for the beginning of the Second World War, even if Russia had been forced to fight. At the end of his life Gandhi highlighted that Russia had nothing India should learn from, and criticized the Indian communists for the propaganda of Stalin’s Socialism.

Keywords: Russia, India, Gandhi, Tolstoy, Lenin, Stalin

 

 TRADITIONS, CUSTOMS, MORAL

FOLKLORE AS ONE OF THE SOURCES ABOUT THE ORIGIN OF GRIOTS

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750006529-3

Irina G. TATAROVSKAYA, Dr.Sc. (Philosophy), PhD (Philology), Senior Research Fellow, Centre for History and Cultural Anthropology, Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

   Griots, a uniquely African profession, fulfill a variety of roles as genealogists, historians, spokespersons, diplomats, musicians, teachers, praise singers, and advisors. The history of griotism begins in ancient times with the appearance of the first ancient states on the territory of West Africa. It can be assumed that they have an "extraordinary" origin. The earliest information relates to folklore. The article provides an analysis of the myths and legends about the origin of the griots of the peoples of West Africa. A comparative analysis of folklore texts showed that griots have a long history and rich historiography. Similar historical conditions and stages of social development, ethnic and cultural community of many West African nations contributed to the formation of their similar ideas. Most of the etiological legends about the origin of griots have a “blood shedding” motive. The storylines of these works were not static, they evolved as a result of changes that occurred in West African society. Traditional ideas about the origins of griots change with the growth of influence and the spread of Islam in West Africa. Griots borrow events and protagonists from Arabic literature, diluting the plot in different proportions with elements from local African culture. This tradition cannot be a source of information about historical characters and events, but it gives a vivid idea of ​​how the history of griotism developed with the adoption of Islam as the local African religion.

Keywords: griot, West Africa, myth, legend, blood, Islam

 

 CULTURE, LITERATURE, ART

THE FUTURE OF EGYPT THROUGH THE EYES OF ARAB ANTI-UTOPIAN WRITERS

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750006530-5

Amalia A. MOKRUSHINA, PhD (Philology), Associate Professor, Faculty of Asian and African Studies, St.Petersburg State University ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

   The paper explores the emergence of a new genre in Arabic literature. In recent years, the interest of Arab writers in the new dystopia genre has increased, which is associated with serious political, economic and social changes affecting the region. Attempts to find answers to important questions for society concerning the future way of life were reflected in a number of dystopian novels, many of which were highly praised by critics, some of them were translated into foreign languages. Today, the situation in some Arab countries offers many variations for the future, and literature was the first to respond to such changes.

   It is also important that a lot of Arab anti-utopian writers are not older than forty years. Young people from the Arab intelligentsia, perhaps the most soberly assess the situation after the events of the Arab spring. While most of the population at first was in euphoria, then replaced by disappointment, young writers offer their own vision of the situation in the country.

   The paper analyzes the background of the appearance, goals and regional characteristics of the genre. We took two dystopian novels by Muhammad Rabi «Otared» and Basma Abd al-Aziz «The Queue» as an example of new genre. The opportunity to look at existing problems through the prism of a new genre allows the researcher to get a more complete picture of the situation in the region.

   Writers attempt to «predict» and «warn» society about possible problems, and this is one of the important tasks of intellectual literature, to which the dystopia genre can be attributed.

Keywords: literature, Arabic novel, dystopia, Arab Spring

 

 BOOK REVIEW

INDIAN OCEAN IN THE WORLD POWERS FOCUS ATTENTION

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750006531-6

   Review of the book: N.B.Lebedeva. "The Indian Ocean – Challenges of XXI century and India (studies of the International Relations)” / Ed. T.L.Shaumyan. Moscow, 2018. 576 p. (In Russ.)

Tatiana L. DEYCH, Dr.Sc. (History), Senior Research Fellow, Centre of Russian-African Relations and African States Foreign Policy Studies, Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Viacheslav A.USOV, PhD (History), Centre for Global and Strategic Studies, Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Keywords: Indian ocean, South-East Asia, ASEAN, India, China, USA, piracy, “string of pearls”