The US-China tech race is fueling a strategic contest over which country will set the standards and norms of digital governance. From 5G, AI, Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, and robotics to aviation, agriculture, biotech, clean tech, and satellite navigation, technology innovation is accelerating global competition. However, this requires international cooperation, too.
The MED This Week newsletter provides expert analyses and informed comments on the most significant developments in the MENA region, bringing together unique opinions on the topic and reliable foresight on future scenarios. Today, we focus on Afghanistan and on what the US withdrawal by September 11, 2021, will mean both domestically and internationally. Also, what shoul we expect from the diplomatic talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban to be held in Turkey?
On January 20, Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. According to a survey by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) as of January 2021, a majority of Europeans are happy about the election victory, but 32 percent say that the Americans can no longer be trusted after the four years of President Trump.
Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is generally credited with improving and intensifying bilateral relations with the US, especially on security matters. In 2014 he moved to reinterpret Article 9 of the constitution that bars Japan from waging war and maintaining military forces. In doing so, he overturned his own Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) longstanding position against exercising the right of collective self- defense. In 2015 he agreed to new US-Japan Defense Guidelines that greatly expand Japan’s commitment to provide military support to the US in the event of conflict.
The Covid-19 pandemic neither fostered cooperation nor eased US-Iran tensions that reached their peak in the wake of the US killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in January. Instead, the virus has been weaponized by Washington and Tehran under the assumption that it could provide new opportunities to force the other party to review its policies.
After announcing in December that the US will withdraw its troops from Syria, President Donald Trump and the White House back tracked a number of weeks later, declaring the withdrawal may yet take a number of months.
Over 2018, China’s relations significantly sharpened with both the US and the EU. The most consequential of these is with the US, where the imposition of trade tariffs from later in the year was the first tangible sign that the relationship was entering an era of overt strategic competition.
In President Donald Trump’s February 5 State of the Union Address, he all but strayed from his unwavering stance that there is a national crisis at the southern U.S.-Mexico border, due to the supposed illicit crossing of immigrants who threaten “the safety, security, and financial well-being of all America”. Trump did, however, voice his favor for legal immigration, and the responsibility the U.S. has to protect those who have entered the country legally.
Since the onset of the Islamic Revolution of 1978-9 the Iranian foreign policy motto has been “Neither East, nor West, Islamic Republic”. But one has to consider that Iran has always been more East than West by both necessity and design. Faced with the economic consequences of Western containment, Iran put aside its historic rivalry with Russia, and included it in its Look East policy – referring to China, Russia and India.
For the first time since the beginning of the war, Washington’s administration heavyweights, Mike Pompeo (Secretary of State) and James Mattis (Secretary of Defence), publicly called for the end of the Saudi and Emirati-led military intervention in Yemen, begun in March 2015.
With US President Donald Trump apparently hell bent on upending global rules, can Europe and Asia join forces to shore up a rapidly weakening multilateral order? New initiatives unveiled by the European Commission for revamping the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and setting governance standards for transport, energy and digital connectivity offer opportunities for more joint Europe-Asian action.
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?