"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" № 11 2019

TOP PROBLEM                                    

NEW ALLIANCE CHALLEHGE FOR REGIONAL LEADERSHIP

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750007015-8

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 

СHINA AND CONFLICT IN MYANMAR’S KACHIN STATE

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750007016-9

Elena D. SOBOLEVA, PhD (Political Science), Lecturer, National Research University Higher School of Economics St. Petersburg ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    In 2018 Northern Myanmar experienced another escalation of fighting between the armed forces of the central government and Kachin rebels. This conflict takes place in Kachin state, which lies just across the border from the PRC and hosts a number of China’s strategic investment projects. Traditionally the PRC insists on the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, but is it sticking to this policy in Myanmar? The aim of this article is to analyse the role of the PRC in this conflict and to identify factors that have shaped evolution of Beijing’s policy. Although, since the late 1980-s Beijing’s support for Kachin rebels has ceased almost entirely, during the 1990-s cross-border trade with the Chinese Yunnan province was one of the major sources of income for the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO). Moreover, China’s growing presence and infrastructure projects in Kachin State became one of the reasons for the discontent of the local population with the Myanmar authorities, which manifested in the breaking of a 17-year cease-fire in 2011. Starting from 2012 Beijing’s role has changed from non-interference to so-called creative diplomacy, which includes greater involvement of the central government, resumption of contacts with the KIO, mediation and organizing of negotiations between Kachin insurgents and Myanmar’s central government. At the same time the Chinese government has not provided refugees from Kachin State with proper assistance and protection, they only received some humanitarian aid from local NGOs in Yunnan. Among the explanatory factors of the PRC’s policy regarding the Kachin conflict are the dynamics of Sino-Myanmar relations, China’s security concerns in the border area and wider region, as well as its strategic and economic interests.

Keywords: Myanmar, PRC, Kachin, foreign policy, ethnic conflict, civil war

 

THE DIAMOND COMPLEX OF INDIA IN THE GLOBAL DIAMOND MARKET

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750007017-0

Natalia G. KHROMOVA, Post-graduate student, MGIMO-University, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    The diamond cutting industry of India ranks first in the world economy in terms of diamond production. In 2017, India accounted for about 80% of global diamond production in value terms. India’s current rise as the largest producer and exporter of polished diamonds occurred after acquiring the independence due to involvement in processing industrial (near-jewelry) natural diamonds, as well as the increased role of the state in the national economy, and in particular in the government regulation of India's diamond complex. The author presumes that the system of re-sorting industrial and "near-jewel" rough diamond (suitable, unsuitable), the skill of Indian cutters combined with cheap labor (especially in the villages), the organization of work within the household helped to form competitive advantage in production and allowed India to reach the prominent position in the global diamond complex and become one of the world's diamond centers.

    Thus, by the beginning of the 21st century, India has once again become the key subject of the global diamond market. Among the main reasons for the dominance of India in the global diamond sector, the author highlights low labor costs, a favorable regulatory framework and relatively easier access to finance, as well as the fact that the Indian cutting sector has enjoyed and enjoys the powerful and diverse support of its government.

Keywords: diamond complex of India, industrial diamonds, export-import of diamonds, «Indian goods», processing diamond

 

«AGREE TO DISAGREE»: FEDERALISM VS CONFEDERALISM IN EAST AFRICA

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750007018-1

Khristina M. TURINSKAYA, PhD (History), Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian  Academy of Sciences (RAS); Senior Research Fellow, Institute for African Studies, RAS ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    The paper explores the present situation in the East African Community and the pitfalls of regional political integration as well as some challenges that the federal idea faces in East Africa. After the first attempt of 1967-1977 to amalgamate former dependent British territories but already sovereign at that moment Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika/Tanzania, the Community was revived 20 years ago, in 1999, still having the same attributes as its predecessor: deep political differences, disparities, nationalisms and particular economic interests. The East African Community incorporates Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania joined by Rwanda, Burundi in 2007 and South Sudan in 2016. The East African Federation plan is alive though the prospects of expanding of the Community seem troublesome, taking into consideration such possible EAC members as politically instable and fragmented Federal Republic of Somalia or a new regional giant Ethiopia with its federal system’s shortcomings and controversial developmental policies.

    While the stages of East African cooperation project - customs union, common market, monetary union, and federation replaced by political confederation in the short term - are designated, among multiple obstacles for fast-track merger one can indicate partner states’ overlapping membership in diverse regional organizations, lack of political will to unite. EAC nations’ sovereignty is presented as an impediment for coming together to form a federal state under a single government and one constitution. The author also deals with the domestic political dynamics in Tanzania including the course of pro-federal constitutional reform, the Union question, the case of Zanzibar separatism. The United Republic remains an example of a sovereigntist stance that has made recent summit of the EAC leaders finally «agree to disagree on federation» and choose a confederation as a suitable form of regional political design.

Keywords: regional political integration, federalism, confederalism, nationalism, East African Community, Tanzania

 

NIGERIA: COURSE FOR INNOVATION

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750007019-2

Liudmila N. KALINICHENKO, Research Fellow, Institute for African Studies, RAS ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Zinaida S. NOVIKOVA, PhD (Economics), Senior Research Fellow, Institute for African Studies, RAS ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    Nigeria has large capacity for knowledge economy development based on new technology implementation getting possible as a result of close cooperation between scientific research and educational institutes, developers, entrepreneurs, venture investors in the form of public-private partnership. The paper researches the main directions of the government’s innovation policy and the progress reached in this field. Nowadays, there are several innovation programmes, aimed at Sustainable Development Goals achievement. The development of renewable energy, food and ecological security, water cleaning, combating desertification are among them. The accent is made on the necessity to create Nigerian own technologies and support young generation of developers High level of investment in human capital and the formation of effective technological ecosystem are important strategy objectives for the nearest future. The article considers the expansion of contemporary options for business structures in Nigeria such as startups, technological hubs, clusters. This strategy is being realized due to fast digital technology growth. Nigeria is one of the leading IT-markets in Africa. Information-communication technologies (ICT) have become a strategic tool for democratic governance. They have considerable impact оn different sectors of the Nigerian economy. Liberalization of information market services has promoted its fast growth and accessibility for wide community. Digital technologies provide effective integration with the global economy. Still, there are a lot of challenges on the way to progressive digital economy development, including difficulties with projects financial provision, low quality of institutional environment, unsatisfactory infrastructure conditions, competent workforce shortage.

Keywords: Nigeria, Internet, innovations, digital economy, startups, clusters

 

NATIONAL INNOVATIVE SYSTEMS OF THE GULF STATES: FORMATION AND PROSPECTS OF DEVELOPMENT

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750007022-6

Yuliana V. SOLOVIEVA, PhD (Economics), Associate Professor, National Economy Department, RUDN University ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    In article the conditions of interaction of innovative process participants, feature of creation and development of technology transfer systems in the Gulf States (Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, the UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia) are considered. The author of the article showed need of a research of innovative processes for the countries for which positive social and economic dynamics, increase in national competitiveness, diversification of national economy are the priority directions of state policy. On the basis of the analysis of national innovative systems functioning in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), being the most successful in the Arab world on all economic indicators, the author allocates the key and most perspective directions of integration development of scientific and educational, production spheres and the state for the purpose of formation of effective organization systems of innovative processes. In article ways of innovative development of the Gulf States, features of formation of the market of innovative products, competitive not only at the regional level, but also in the world market of technologies are considered. The author comes to the following conclusions: now in the Gulf States awareness of need of activization of innovative processes in all spheres of national economy is noted; for the purpose of a conclusion of the countries of the region to group of the countries with economy, competitive at the world level, search of mechanisms of ensuring innovative development of the national farms is necessary.

Keywords: innovative system, innovative development, transfer of technologies, integration, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

 

“NANAK SHAH FAKIR”: ON THE CONSTRUCTION OF TABOOS IN CONTEMPORARY SIKHISM

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750007465-3

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. )

    The article focuses on controversies of the Nanak Shah Fakir) biographical film (2018) dedicated to Guru Nanak, founder of the Sikh religion. Despite the approval of India’s Central Board for Film Certification, the film was banned by supreme Sikh authorities, the Akal Takht and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, on the ground that it allegedly violated Sikh tenets because Guru Nanak and members of his family were depicted through actors, i.e. human beings. Following the ban of the Punjab Government on releasing the film, the producer appealed to India’s Supreme Court, which cleared the film for release. Nevertheless, the film remains banned in Punjab and in some other Indian states.

    The Nanak Shah Fakir controversy can be contextualized through the “construction of religious boundaries” (Harjot Oberoi) that is perceived by the author as the ongoing process in contemporary India’s Punjab. In the late XIXth century, the Singh Sabha movement immensely contributed to building up the Sikh religious identity. At the same time, “pure” Khalsa Sikhs started to dominate in the movement reshaping it and introducing their own vision of the Sikh history as well as “canonical” rules and regulations. This was further enhanced in the XXth century with the adoption of the Sikh Reht Maryada (Sikh Code of Conduct and Conventions). Subsequent hukams (decrees) of the Akal Takht and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee stigmatizing any – real or imaginary – “misinterpretation” of the Sikh tenets have implicitly been revealing the complexity and multifacetedness of the Sikh faith.

Keywords: India, Punjab, Sikhism, Guru Nanak, censorship

 

THE DEATH OF MIR TAHSIN BEG AND THE FUTURE OF THE YEZIDI COMMUNITY

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750007023-7

Nodar Z. MOSSAKI, PhD (History), Senior 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. )

Dimitri V. PIRBARI, MA (History), Research Fellow, G.Tsereteli Institute of Oriental Studies,  Ilia State University (Tbilisi, Georgia) ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    On January 28, 2019 the religious and secular head of the Yezidis, Emir (Mir) Tahsin Beg died. The article presents some biographical features of the head of the Yezidis, highlights important aspects of the institution of Emir, its role and place in the Yezidi community. Particular attention was paid to the changes that have taken place in the Yezidi society after the attack of ISIS on the Sinjar area in August 2014, which was the main center of Yezidi community. Thousands of Yezidi men were killed, and captured Yezidi women were enslaved. The Kurdish Peshmerga guaranteed security to the Yezidis before terrorist attacks on Yezidi areas, but had fled from the Sinjar. This vividly showed the historical character of the Yezidi-Kurdish relations and led in a part of the Yezidi community to increased anti-Kurdish sentiment. This period coincided with the disease of the Emir who was not able to carry out the vigorous activity necessary in circumstances so tragic for his people. After the death of the Emir, a crisis arose regarding the election of a new head of the Yezidis. Сrisis resolution requires changes in the rules of the institution of Emir and the system of governance in the Yezidi community. In order to overcome the crisis, in the Yezidi diaspora work was initiated on the development of a “constitution”, which provides for the formalization, systematization and standardization of various aspects of religious life. An important aspect of the proposed changes is limiting the rights of the Emir, increasing the role of collective institutions, primarily the Supreme Religious Council, by introducing members of the diaspora and a number of authoritative religious figures of the Yezidis of Iraq. However, the new Emir Hazem was elected contrary to the position of part of the community. This intensified the split among the Yezidis.

Keywords: Mir Tahsin Beg, Yezidis, Sinjar, Shingal, Lalesh, Kurds, Iraqi Kurdistan

 

SCIENTIFIC LIFE

RUSSIA AND CHINA: COLLABORATION IN A NEW ERA: RIAC AND CASS CONFERENCE

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750007178-7

Ksenya A.  KUZMINA, Programmer manager, Russian International Affairs Council  (RIAC)  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    In order to promote broad expert dialogue and regularly assess the progress of Russia – China collaboration, Russian International Affairs Council in cooperation with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences hosts annual “Russia and China: Collaboration in the New Era” conferences which bring together around 300 Russian and Chinese experts. The initiative has been widely supported by both official and expert circles and is supposed to be continued in future with a focus not only on practical recommendations, but also on Moscow and Beijing’s longer-term strategic priorities. This article analyzes main conclusions and recommendations of the Fifth conference that was held on May 29-30, 2019. Analysis of the history of partnership in the context of the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations shows that Russia and China have now developed specific characteristics of relations between two major partners including mutual respect and close coordination but the two states are not planning to form an alliance. They take similar stances on many issues of international agenda, what is all the more important in the current turbulent situation against the background of protectionism and unilateralism. Working together in the framework of Great Eurasian partnership to ensure regional synergy remains one of the two states’ priorities. While Russia – China strategic interaction has been positively assessed, experts call for much closer and higher-quality bilateral collaboration in economy, investment, education, science and other areas. In the context of a new technological revolution focus in the cooperation should be also made on joint innovations, digital economy and hi-tech.

Keywords: China, expert diplomacy, strategic partnership, arms control, EAEU and BRI co-development, innovations

 

SOUTH AFRICA: QUARTER OF A CENTURY AFTER APARTHEID

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750007025-9

Yury S. SKUBKO, PhD (Economics), PhD (Arts), Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Southern African Studies, Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Vasily A. SIDOROV, PhD (Economics), Research Fellow, Centre for Southern African Studies, Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    The Round table “South Africa: a quarter of a century after apartheid” (1994-2019) held at the Institute for African Studies of Russian Academy of Sciences was dedicated to analysis of achievements and problems of this most developed African state. The speakers noted that that a number of positive shifts have taken place in South Africa after the liquidation of the system of racial discrimination and apartheid, including establishment of non-racial democracy, realization of mass housing building programme, electrification and sanitation programs for the most impoverished segments of the African population, growth of the Black middle class. At the same time certain negative processes have also taken place provoking growth of social tensions. Among them: widespread corruption and nepotism (“state capture” by corrupt oligarchy surrounding former president Zuma) and xenophobia, administrative mismanagement and slowdown of economic growth, aggravation of unemployment and social inequality. Change of political leadership (new president C. Ramaphosa took office in 2018) is considered as an attempt by the ruling ANC to purify the country’s socio-political life and attain sustainable and inclusive economic growth. In South Africa the end of the Zuma era that has been known as the “lost decade” brings elements of positive change as the new administration makes steps to return public trust. V.Shubin talked about the general election of May 2019 and the government formed in its aftermath, N.Voronina considered at the role of churches in politics, Kostelyanets made a report on Islamist terrorism and T.Denisova spoke about South African relations with Nigeria. Yu.Skubko, V.Sidorov and V.Obraztsova separately analysed the country’s economic development over the last 25 years while Gavrilova looked at agriculture and agricultural export.

Keywords: South Africa, apartheid, socio-economic development, corruption, ANC

 

 POST-GRADUATE COLUMN

NEW FEATURES OF ILLEGAL MIGRATION FROM SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA TO EU COUNTRIES AND THE USA

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750007026-0

Alexander M. ZHAMBIKOV, Applicant, 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 describes various aspects of illegal migration from Sub-Saharan Africa to the countries of the European Union and the United States of America within the framework of globalisation. The analysis includes objective and subjective causes of illegal migration, present situation and contemporary trends, its specific features, driving forces and experience of combating it by the developed nations. Special attention is given to new features of illegal migration and political dimension of the problem, as well as possible ways to solve it on various levels. It is noted that illegal migration is caused by high unemployment rate and poverty affecting most of population in developing countries. Transnational criminal groups orchestrate illegal migration and have turned it into a very profitable business, as a prospective illegal migrant usually is ready to pay several thousand US dollars for a journey for a better life in a developed country regardless of numerous risks and total uncertainty in future. Some of illegal migrants of African origin travel to the EU on boats and ships through the Mediterranean while other ones try to obtain visas, take flights to Europe or the USA and stay there after expiry of their visas. Illegal migration possesses serious security threats, in particular, to receiving nations, supporting shadow economy and manning criminal gangs. At the same time, illegal migration affects the countries of migrants’ origin by uncontrolled flight of qualified specialists and even “brain drain”. The conclusion is that illegal migration can be effectively fought only by joint effort by the receiving countries and countries of migrants’ origin.

Keywords: illegal migration, labor migrants, refugees, European Union, African Union, sanctions

 

 PAGES OF HISTORY

SOVIET AID TO THE INSURGENTS IN EASTERN CONGO, 1964-1966

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750007027-1

Sergei V. MAZOV, Dr.Sc. (History), Principal Research Fellow, Institute of World History, Russian Academy of Sciences ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

    Drawing on documents from domestic archives, the author examined closely the evolution of the Soviet attitude and behavior to the Simba uprising in eastern Congo (1964-1966), contacts between Soviet representatives and the insurgents’ leaders, the amount of the Soviet military aid, the situation inside the rebel movement. After a series of failures in the Congo in 1960-1963, the USSR reacted cautiously to the Simba uprising that provided for it a good chance to return to the “Heart of Africa”. The Soviet leaders received detailed and adequate information about the uprising from different sources including military intelligence. They had no reason to believe that the “lions” had good chances to succeed, and their leaders were true revolutionaries. The Soviet Union did not provide assistance for rebels until the NATO countries carried out direct military intervention in eastern Congo on November 24, 1964. The USSR delivered to Algeria, Ghana, the UAR and Tanzania weapons and military materials to arm and equip 18 thousand combatants, 320 Congolese went to the USSR for military training. A significant part of Soviet military aid finally did not reach the Congo. As in other critical moments of the Congo crisis (the ousting of the first Congolese premier Patrice Lumumba in September 1960 and his assassination in January 1961), the Soviet leadership refrained from intervening directly in the Congo or sending military advisers there. The failure of Che Guevara to export a revolution to the Congo confirmed the correctness of the Soviet assessment of the nature and prospects of the uprising.  The uprising was suppressed due to its corrupt leaders’ rivalry over the power and external funding, low insurgent morale.

Keywords: Cold War, the Congo crisis, Soviet policy in Africa, Simba uprising in eastern Congo

 

 BOOK REVIEW

WITH A LIFELONG LOVE FOR  AFRICA

DOI: 10.31857/S032150750007092-3

    Review of the book: Oleg Teterin. Remembering Africa (important issues… and not so much). Moscow, 2019, 556 p. (In Russ.)

Alexander S. BALEZIN, Dr.Sc. (History), Professor, Principal Research Fellow, Institute of World History, Russian Academy of Sciences ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Keywords: Africa, Swahili, Zanzibar, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, personal memoirs