"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" № 3 2020

Contents

 

TOP PROBLEM                                                           

ISLAMISM AND NATIONALISM IN THE GREATER MIDDLE EAST: ENMITY OR SYMBIOSIS?

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750008741-7

Yuriy M. POCHTA, Dr.Sc. (Philosophy), Professor, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University) ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Abstract. The article discusses the reasons for the failure of Arab nationalism in its confrontation with Islamism. The evolution of these ideologies in the context of their interaction and conflict is shown.

    According to the author, Arab nationalism and Islamism are the answer of the Arab-Muslim civilization to the challenges from the West. The author comes to the conclusion that the failures of nationalism and the radicalization of Islamism in the current situation of destabilization of the Greater Middle East can lead to a radical change in the post-colonial geopolitical architecture of the region. the author shows that as independent statehood of individual Arab countries was created, the national interests of individual states began to dominate pan-Arab interests.

    The most important achievements of outstanding Arab leaders were not their attempts to achieve Arab unity, but a successful anti-colonial struggle, the nationalization of major economic assets and the protection of the independence of their countries. At all stages of the evolution of Arab nationalism, Islam remained an essential part of its ideology. But at the same time, Islam itself evolved, right up to its transformation into modern Islamism, combining fundamentalism as a theoretical justification and political movements realizing this ideology.

    The article shows that Islamic fundamentalism is controversial, containing antinomies: anti-modernism - modernism, a constructive and destructive principle. The anti-modernism of fundamentalism, combined with modernist features, manifests itself in its predisposition to the formation of a totalitarian ideology, combined with elements of rationality, to the conviction of the primacy of politics over religion, to the desire to transform the institution of the state, to the willingness to use the technological and organizational achievements of a hostile civilization.

Keywords: nationalism, Islamism, caliphate, republic, democracy, Greater Middle East 

 

POLITICS, ECONOMICS

THE ARAB WORLD: MERGER INTO NATION OR INCREASING DISENGAGEMENT? (a note of theme)

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750008723-7

Alexander O. FILONIK, PhD (Economics), 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. )

Vladimir A. ISAEV, Dr.Sc. (Economics), Professor, Institute of Asian and African Studies, Lomonosov Moscow University ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Abstract. In over a half-century the Arab World has passed thru a good deal of various developments including economic, social, political and military ones that significantly changed its image by adding new quality to the processes and problems that indicated its guidelines and growth.

    All what has happened in this one of the most important regions of the world left a mark on the national aspects of the state and society development. The Arab World is living now in a very contradictory way walking the line of different models of social and political organization and economic growth having their reflection in every day activity of ruling regimes putting goals not frequently supported neither economically nor politically.

    This region is currently surviving the severe period of revolutions and intensive confessional hostility that carries in itself very distinctly articulated political, economic and social content. As a result the new imbalances emerge here coupling with humanitarian crises and with total disorder in understanding of common fitness of things that will spill over to the next decade and influence the ample range of problems most acute for the region.

    Not least of all are the deep-laid processes of globalization that may be translated in shaping of national goals and may affect national consciousness and identification as well as pave way for national-building and develop positive attitude towards unity or be the reason of its oppression.

Keywords: nation-building, nation, the Arab unity, nationalism, LAS, GCC, ethnic community, state, the Arabian monarchies

 

ROAD TO KARTARPUR: FAITH-BASED DIPLOMACY IN INDIA-PAKISTAN RELATIONS

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750008727-1

Anna V. BOCHKOVSKAYA, PhD (History), Associate Professor, Department of South Asian History, Institute of Asian and African Studies, Lomonosov Moscow State University ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Abstract. The article discusses history and the potential of the Kartarpur pilgrimage corridor recently established at the India-Pakistan border. The passage has given Indian Sikh pilgrims an opportunity to access the Pakistan-based historical Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara located in close vicinity of the border line.

    The gurdwara premises became part of Pakistan during the 1947 Partition of India; consequently, visiting Kartarpur Sahib became virtually impossible for the Indians. After the 2018 victory of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, the breakthrough in Kartarpur corridor negotiations resulted in the fast-track building of corridor infrastructure from both sides followed by the corridor inauguration on November 9, 2019, on the eve of Guru Nanak’s 550th Prakash Gurpurab (birthday).

    Ideologically, the Kartarpur corridor project is most feasible for both sides owing to the egalitarian nature of Guru Nanak’s teaching and his “neutral” – neither Hindu nor Muslim – religious affiliation. Consequently, it would be quite difficult to fault the faith-based diplomacy proponents of being “pro-Pakistani” or “pro-Indian” when promoting transborder religious and cultural contacts in this locality. The project is also economically advantageous for both sides as it can boost up tourist sector in Pakistan and substantially contribute to the economic development of India’s Gurdaspur district and the Punjab state in general. From this perspective, the Kartarpur corridor is a pragmatic project, which favors the faith-based diplomacy theory. Unfortunately, due to most complicated relations between the two countries, the future of the Kartarpur corridor remains vague.

Keywords: India, Pakistan, Punjab, Sikhism, Guru Nanak, border, faith-based diplomacy

 

ALEVIS vs. ALAWITES IN TURKEY: FROM THE GENERAL TO THE SPECIFIC (based on field studies in Turkey)

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750008730-5

Daria V. ZHIGULSKAYA, PhD (History), Associate Professor, Institute of Asian and African countries, Moscow State University ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Abstract. In view of its geographical location and the ethnic, religious and cultural heterogeneity of its population, modern Turkey is of special interest both to orientalists and to a wide range of people interested in global political and social affairs. In this context, the subject of Turkish Alevism and Turkish Alevis has acquired particular relevance in recent years. However, Turkey’s Alevis are often confused with the ‘Alawites (Nusayrîs) of Syria, leading to a gross distortion of the concept of Turkish Alevism. The ‘Alawites (Nusayrîs) are concentrated mainly in Syria, where they constitute around 12% of the country’s population, though there is a small community of approximately 350,000 people in Turkey. They live predominantly in the southern provinces of Hatay, Adana and Mersin, and are ethnic Arabs.

    This paper is an outcome of the author’s PhD dissertation on the Turkish Alevism and is based on the findings carried out in the town of Haccıbektaş and in Hatay province and aims to highlight the regional aspects of the Alevi and ‘Alawite (Nusayrî) communities in Turkey (the ‘Alawites of Syria are not reviewed here). The focus is on the characteristics of the two faiths, their forms of worship and the traditions of social organization within the two communities. The similarities between the two faiths are summarized and their distinctive features are highlited.

Keywords: Alevis, ‘Alawites (Nusayrîs), Islam, Sufism, Turkey

 

VENTURE CAPITAL MARKET IN CHINA AND JAPAN: COMPARATIVE STUDY

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750008729-3

Adel DALAL, Post-graduate student, Higher School of Economics – Saint-Petersburg ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Oleksandr S. KHOROSHUNOV (Ukraine), Master’s student, Higher School of Economics – Saint-Petersburg ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Abstract. The goal of this paper is to compare a state of venture capital market in China and Japan. Both countries have faced an outstanding increase in volume of venture financing in recent years. Although the emergence of venture capital (VC) in these countries was forced by state reforms, instruments of government innovation policies are found to be different due to the unique features of their institutional development.

    For the purpose of the study, we conducted a comparative analysis of drivers of venture capital growth seen in China, a closed economic system with high level of government regulation, and Japan, an example of open market economy. Among venture capital drivers observed in the countries, entrepreneurial base, financial markets development, regulation of foreign investments and support of private business sector are found to be of a high significance.

    Moreover, structure and heterogeneity of investors positively affect venture growth as it provides a more diversified pool of capital. The exit stage of a deal is to be of an extreme importance for venture capitalists, that is why government actions towards an opening of new exit ways, including creation of alternative stock exchanges and easing of M&A regulation, cause booms on VC market. The declarative manner of innovation programs in China makes public funds the main player on the market, which flow budget capital to large-scale projects. On the other hand, Japanese government prefers to act as an intermediary between private investors and start-ups.

    Our findings illustrate how institutional factors affect an efficiency of government support, which provides valuable inputs for practitioners and policymakers.

Keywords: venture capital, institutional development, China, Japan

 

SIDEWALK IN INDIAN CITY AS A SPACE OF MARGINALIZATION OF A PEDESTRIAN

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750008725-9

Svetlana E. SIDOROVA, PhD (History), Senior Research Fellow, Center for Indian Studies, Institute of Oriental Studies of Russian Academy ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Abstract. The paper focuses on the problems of sidewalks in Indian urban space considered through the lens of their relations with the “neighbors” — highways and facades of the buildings. The stripe of pave between them intended for the transit of pedestrians is aggressively claimed by both sides. Thin footpaths (if any) and lack of dividers between pedestrians and fast moving cars visually demonstrate priority given to highways in Indian cities. Spatial discrimination of the pedestrians makes it totally uncomfortable and unsafe for those using sidewalks.

    At the same time Indian sidewalks are under strong pressure from commercial activity, which instead of being located behind the facades of the buildings occupy transit zones intended for walking. These zones are completely blocked by parked cars and motorbikes, road signs, constructions, trees, small temples, statues, sleeping people, slums, cows, dogs,  as well as innumerable vendors and stalls selling everything that somebody can imagine.

    Neglecting the interests of the moving people could be ascribed to specific perception of urban environment in India characterized by intolerance to the idea of emptiness when every empty space tends to be seen as available for either transport, business purposes or other stationary activity. As a result sidewalk turns into the place of amobility and the pedestrian — into a cast-off and marginalized figure in the street.

    Based on Jeff Speck’s theory of walkability and other modern urban concepts the article analyses the specifics of Indian urban space planning that mostly runs contrary to the instincts of developed-world urbanists.

Keywords: India, new urbanism, sidewalk, walkability, driveway, facades

 

THE ARMED FORCES OF CŎTE D'IVOIRE AND THEIR ROLE IN THE SOCIO-POLITICAL TRANSFORMATION OF SOCIETY

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750008724-8

Lubov M. SADOVSKAYA, PhD (History), Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Sociological and Political Sciences Studies, Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Abstract. The article analyzes the role of the armed forces in the socio-political development of Cote d’Ivoire. The research focuses on the legal status of the army, political processes concerning the relationship between the army and society, as well as pertinent issues of military reform. The role of the armed forces in the absence of national reconciliation at the political level is shown. Particular attention is paid to the reasons for the continuing trend of lack of consolidation in its ranks.

    The author believes that the periods of the increasing role of the military in the political processes of Cote d’Ivoire, on the one hand, were marked by attempted coups, civil war and numerous rebellions, and, on the other, by the preservation of statehood by the national armed forces during the crisis situations that escalated at the beginning of the 21st century into a civil war, which almost led to the collapse of the country.

    The article analyzes the processes of reintegration of former rebel combatants and the restoration of the Ivorian army after the military-political crisis and the coming to power of A.Ouattara.  The main feature of the reform of the army, conducted by A.Ouattara, was, on the one hand, the appointment of zone commanders of the North to command posts, on the other - the dismissal from these positions of all officers from the South, supporters of L.Gbagbo, in contrast to the zone commanders, who had good military training.

    The article draws attention to the fact that the absence to date of national reconciliation in the country at the political level has led to the Ivorian army becoming very politicized. And, as a consequence, military rebellions take place in the political life of the country.

    The author concludes that the influence of the military on the socio-political processes in the country due to the continuing high risks of conflicts in Ivorian society will continue.

Keywords: Сôte d’Ivoire, armed forces, insurgencies, civil war, zone commanders, reforms

 

ECOWAS AND INTRODUCTION OF SINGLE CURRENCY IN WEST AFRICA: PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750008721-5

Alexander M. ZHAMBIKOV, External 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. )

Abstract. The article describes the project of introducing single currency in the ECOWAS, its reasons, current situation, problems and prospects. The description outlines that although the idea of monetary integration has been discussed by the Community for more than 30 years, it has not yet been put in practice. Within the ECOWAS, there is already one common currency (franc CFA) created by France in 1945 and used by eight member states of West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) until now.

    The analysis includes various aspects of monetary reform of franc CFA, changing its name to eco and positions of different ECOWAS countries towards the ongoing transformation. Supported by France, the UEMOA has announced its intention to replace the unpopular “franc CFA” by “eco” that is already designed for a future ECOWAS single currency. As a guarantor, France waived some of its old requirements for common currency users, but is still ready to assist the UEMOA in case of crisis. The fixation of eco rate to euro is planned to be maintained.

    The most outstanding contradiction of ECOWAS and UEMOA projects is whether the rate of eco should be flexible and independent from any currency or fixed to euro (as franc CFA at the moment). Special attention is paid to political component of the transformation and possible scenarios for future. The conclusion is that adoption of ECOWAS single currency in the near future is unlikely. Moreover, even in case of success the project will not be a panacea for socio-economic problems of the Community.

Keywords: ECOWAS, UEMOA, franc CFA, eco, monetary union

 

POST-GRADUATE TRIBUNE

FOREIGN AID TO IRAQ: DONORS PROMISES AND POLITICAL ELITES COMPROMISE

Ruslan Sh. MAMEDOV, Post-graduate student, Moscow State Institute of International Relations MFA of Russia (MGIMO-University) ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Abstract. Post-conflict reconstruction and creation of favorable conditions for attracting foreign aid have gained particular relevance in Iraq following the defeat of the “Islamic State” (IS). The results of the International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq, which was held in Kuwait in February 2018, were contradictory. Most foreign aid projects and sums were pledged in a form of investments and loans.

    Foreign aid, on the one hand, has a positive effect on the situation in the country in terms of population support, but on the other hand has a number of negative effects. So, in conditions of external assistance, the ruling elite becomes dependent on it and preserves the situation. Elites do not solve problems and stop pushing for real development of institutions. At the same time, the elite itself is fighting for the distribution and management of this external assistance, which gives rise to the tensions within the Iraqi ruling class. Nevertheless, in the absence of external assistance and the need to receive it and get those funds coming to the country, in general, other processes take place. Despite deep differences, the factor of the need to obtain external funds also contributed to the finding a compromise among the Iraqi ruling elites, as it happened, for example, in the context of the formation of a new government in 2018.

    Nevertheless, the problems of ensuring security, political instability, corruption and inefficiency of state institutions negatively affect the attraction of international assistance. Recognizing the existence of complex interdependencies between the development of the domestic political situation, which depends on the behavior of the political elite, and foreign aid to states weakened by armed conflict, this study aims to analyze the specifics of the mutual influence of these factors in Iraq after the victory over IS.

Keywords: IS, Iraq, foreign aid, political elites, reconstruction

 

PALESTINIAN-ISRAELI CONFLICT SETTLEMENT PROBLEMS: THE «JORDANIAN OPTION» AS THE ALTERNATIVE

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750008728-2

Artyom V. GOFMAN, Post-graduate student, Research Assistant, Israel Studies Department, Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Science ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Abstract. This article is dedicated to the modern Palestinian-Israel settlement problems. Research carried out in the field of implementation of the two-state solution in terms of American Deal of the Century. It is known that Trump’s administration proclaimed Palestinian problem resolution as matter of utmost importance. But the two-state formula faces obstacles thus putting on the table alternatives such as the Jordanian option.

    However the history of its realization was fruitless. During 1970-80’s Israelis and Jordanians tried to build different types of confederations which aim was to prevent the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. But all of them brought to nothing.

    There were several unsuccessful attempts to resume peace process up to 2017 when Trump became a president. In the new course of the U.S. approach towards Palestinian-Israeli conflict resolution Americans pledged to be an impartial mediator, but in real acted in favor of Israel.

    At this moment, the confederation option emerged. Palestinian leader approved to join the triple Jordanian-Palestinian-Israeli state but Israelis and Jordanians rebuffed. Both of them regard such an association as violating their national interests. Neither Israel withdraws from occupied territories nor Jordan gives up the two-state solution formula.

    Furthermore, Russia cannot replace the USA as a main mediator nowadays. Russians offered Moscow as a place for negotiations but little has changed. Taking this into consideration, it is crucial to enhance our ties with Israelis and Palestinians in order to occupy more important role in negotiations.

    As for outlook for close future, status-quo seems to be the most possible due to lack of trust between Americans and Israelis with Palestinians.

Keywords: Israel, Palestine, Russia, USA

 

 PAGES OF HISTORY

MOSCOW AND THE ARMED STRUGGLE IN SOUTH AFRICA

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750008726-0

Vladimir G. SHUBIN, Dr.Sc. (History), Principal Research Fellow, Centre for History and Cultural Anthropology, Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences; Research Fellow, Centre for Military Studies, Stellenbosch University (South Africa); member, Editorial Board, “Asia and Africa Today” journal ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Abstract. The article considers international terrorism, as one of the pressing problems of our time and states that that this topic requires particularly deep analysis, if only because there is no universally recognized definition of terrorism, which creates a reason or better said, an excuse for its different interpretation, for “blurring” the border between terrorism and the justified use of armed violence.

    To clarify the issue the article, based on the documents and testimonies of the participants in the events, analyses the relations of our country with organizations that have used the armed force as a form of struggle, having taken as an example the African National Congress of South Africa… (ANC and, above all, its armed organization “Umkhonto we Sizwe” (“Spear of the Nation”). It is noted that the ANC, using armed as one of the forms of struggle, did not slide on the path of terrorism, which was facilitated by its ties with the USSR, the training of military personnel of the Congress in the Soviet Union and by Soviet specialists in Angola.

    The article concludes with steps to implement the Joint Declaration on the establishment of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the Russian Federation and the Republic of South Africa, signed in 2013, to “to preserve the historical memory of cooperation in the struggle against apartheid and education of young generations of both countries in the non-racial spirit”.

Keywords: South Africa, African National Congress, Umkhonto we Sizwe, USSR, military training, terrorism

 

 CULTURE, LITERATURE, ART

AFRICA: «POST-COLONIAL LIBRARY»

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750008720-4

Tatiana M. GAVRISTOVA, Dr.Sc. (History), Professor, P.G.Demidov University, Yaroslavl ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Abstract. The article is devoted to the evolution of postcolonial narrative in Africa and African Diaspora. The author focuses on African studies - the creative works of prominent African scholars and their contribution to the development of modern humanities: history, philosophy, social and cultural anthropology, economics.

    Vumbi Yoka (Valentine Yves) Mudimbe, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Toyin Falola, Achill Mbembe, Dambiza Moyo following the principle of objectivity reconstruct the pictures of the Past and the Present, creating images of modern free Africa, with its problems and achievements. The relay of their ideas deserves special attention. Their works are in demand thanks the original research vectors closely connected with the works of their predecessors: African authors and philosophers of postmodernism.

    Postcolonial and colonial discourses are inextricably linked.«Postcolonial library» exists now not only as an alternative to «colonial library», but also as its continuation. The books of «postcolonial library» have been translated into many languages and integrated the compulsory reading range for university students in Europe and America. Among them world bestsellers as V.Y.Mudimbe’s « The Invention of Africa» (1988), К.A. Appiah’s «In My Father’s House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture» (1992), A. Mbembe’s «On the Postcolony» (2000), D. Moyo’s «Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa» (2009), T. Falola’s «Ibadan: Foundation, Growth and Change. 1830-1960» (2012); etc. The involvement of the postcolonial discourse is growing, and Africa, contrary to stereotypes, is gaining its own intellectual history.

    Africans become actors not only in the field of African, but also Global Studies, as evidenced by the bias of their ideas and the interest that the media show. In the context of globalization and digitalization, they are quite able of declaring themselves using the capabilities of virtual space. Scholars appear on many media platforms, include TED Talks, Hard Talk and Podcasts.

Keywords: «Colonial library», postcolonial discourse, narrative, history, philosophy, afropolianism, identity, Africa

 

BOOK REVIEW

JAPAN. “1955 SYSTEM”

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750008731-6

Konstantin O. SARKISOV, PhD, Institute of Oriental  Studies. Russian Academy of Sciences( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    Review of the book: Dmitri V. Streltsov. «1955  System». Japan foreign and domestic policy in the Cold War era. Moscow, 2019. 239 p. (In Russ.)

Keywords: Japan, Liberal Democratic Party, dominant party, controversy between factions, party politics, Parliament of Japan