When we talk or write about the volatile Middle East, there are few certainties. One of these certainties is that foreign policy in Israel remains the same even as political seasons change. Whether there are elections or government crises, Israeli foreign policy bets on its outdated “security-based diplomacy” approach to foreign relations that has anchored the State’s Defense Doctrine since the Six-Day War in 1967.
The One Belt One Road (OBOR) Initiative reflects China’s growing need for deeper engagement with the regions to its west and south – through intensified trade, investment, telecommunication, and infrastructure – as well as a grander vision for Chinese foreign policy. Encompassing over 60 countries, in an area covering mainly Asia and Europe, but also Oceania and East Africa, OBOR faces immense challenges, not only from a political and operational perspective, but also from a financial standpoint.
The security dimension is a key factor in the OBOR initiative, considering that Xinjiang region is an exclusive gateway for Central Asian oil and gas imports as well as for trade corridor between China and the West.
Libya has always been among Italy’s priorities in foreign policy, if not the main item on the country’s agenda. The Vienna conference (16th May) was co-chaired by the United States and Italy. The Conference tried to give a new impulse to the solution of the Libyan crisis.
After the achievement of unification, one of the Italian political élite’s main aims was recognition of the country as a “great power” by the members of the international system. Such ambitions sharply contrasted with Italy’s political weakness, as well as with its economic and social backwardness. In spite of everything the Italian authorities began to dream of an African empire, on the model of the great European powers, which were involved in the “scramble for Africa”.
Trade, business, geography, geopolitics and wars. Since Caesar’s time, it has been hard to find two countries on the shores of the Mediterranean as connected as Egypt and Italy. After the discovery of the Zhor gas field, with a potential investment of 10 billion euros, ENI, the Italian oil and gas company, became an essential partner in the development of the Egyptian energy. With trade worth 5 billion euros, Italy was Cairo’s leading European partner.
It is well known that the oil and gas sector is the backbone of the Algerian economy, accounting for about 35 per cent of gross domestic product, and two-thirds of total exports; that the first commercial oil discovery was in 1956 and that production started in 1958 during the bloodiest anti–colonial revolt of national liberation in Arab history. And that Italy was at that time – and still is - in great need of this resource for its own development.
After four decades of Franco's dictatorship, marked among many other things by the isolation in which it immersed the country, within only a few years Spain managed to find its own place on the international stage.
The “religious turn” in the study of international relations has started to break through and inform concrete policy discussions. The first part of this article briefly explains that breakthrough and the broader context for Italy’s engagement with religious non-state actors, including similar recent initiatives in the foreign affairs ministries of other countries. The second part examines some of the theoretical underpinnings of the approach we have started to develop in discussions over the last few years with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI), and a variety of religious nonstate actors from Italy and other countries—an approach emphasizing a new form of knowledge generated through the encounter and dialogue with religious communities and religious nonstate actors. In the light of these insights, the final part of this article examines the Italian case and begins to explore how engagement with religious leaders, organizations, and communities could contribute to Italy’s foreign policy objectives and decision-making. Our argument is that Italy could represent a special case of religious engagement in foreign policy because of its unique geo-religious position: in the context of the current epochmaking changes in the international society, there is a sense in which Rome has become again, religiously speaking, caput mundi—the center of the world—as a unique hub of a transnational network of religions connections.
There are curious parallels in US and Chinese foreign policy these days. Just as many - wrongly - believe that the US rebalance to Asia is driven by China’s meteoric rise, some analysts speculate that China’s “westward march”, in particular Xi Jinping’s Silk Road Economic Belt and XXI Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives, is a response to the newly invigorated US presence on its eastern littoral. The US is a factor in Chinese thinking, just as China is a factor in US policy. But in neither case is it determinative?