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No 3 (2023)

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Politics, economics

Saudi Arabia. Salman bin Abdulaziz and Mohammed bin Salman

Vasiliev A.M.


Salman bin Abdulaziz who ascended the throne of Saudi Arabia in 2015 faced the challenge of abandoning the feudal pyramid and establishing a new power vertical. Volatility in oil prices and falling budget revenues posed a threat to social stability. Additional drivers of instability were the military involvement in the civil war in Yemen, Sunni-Shiite contradictions in the Eastern Province, and tensions with Qatar.

In 2016, the Vision 2030 program, which entailed profound reforms, was adopted. It suggested the IPO of Saudi ARAMCO, the development of non-oil sectors, in particular tourism, the accelerated expansion of the private sector, labor market reforms, including greater women’s participation in labor force, and weakening the conservative control of the Wahhabi corporation over society.

The first stage of the implementation of Vision 2030 provided for the expansion of cooperation with the United States, especially after the administration of D.Trump came into office, and for more political interaction with Washington, but at the same time encouraged the development of mutually beneficial ties with Russia.

Inside the kingdom, the course of reforms drew both the support of a part of society interested in their implementation as it understood the urgency of significant changes, and the opposition of another part that aimed at protecting its privileges and maintaining strict Wahhabi traditions. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman became the personification of the new course.

Asia & Africa today. 2023;(3):5-20
pages 5-20 views

Ports of Taiwan: Key Infrastructure or Integration Mechanism of Reunification?

Semenova N.K.


Taiwan (a province of China) has a unique development experience - in a short time, thanks to industrializa­tion, it has gone from ordinary developing economies on the margins of civilization to a developed modern economy. More than 95% of Taiwan’s import and export trade relies on maritime transportation, which is not only the main transport pillar of Taiwan’s foreign trade, but also an important link in the global operations and global deployment strategies of Taiwanese enterprises. With the emergence of new serious regional competitors, Taiwan, although it has lost its position in the port in­dustry, continues to be one of the world’s leading economies. East Asian port competition creates a strong incentive for the modernization, expansion and decarbonization of ports in Taiwan Province. Mainland China has been and remains Taiwan’s main export market. Given that more than 40% of Taiwan’s exports and more than 20% of its imports come from cross-strait trade with mainland China, economic ties with China play a significant role in Taiwan’s economy. Political differences be­tween the island and the mainland directly affect the economic situation between the two sides of the strait.

Asia & Africa today. 2023;(3):21-29
pages 21-29 views

Iran’s Membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. A SWOT Analysis

Ranjbar D., Honrada G.


On 17 September 2021, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) approved Iran’s complete membership application 15 years after obtaining observer status in 2005. Iran is slated to receive full SCO membership in April 2023, marking its first move to join a significant regional organization since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iran’s future membership in the SCO brings many opportunities and challenges, which can affect its future growth and direction. This study focuses on Iran’s membership application to the SCO from 2005 to 2021 and analyzes the opportunities and challenges that Iran’s membership can bring to the organization. It uses a SWOT analysis of Iran’s diplomatic, information, military, and economic instruments of national power as it has used them in its application. Through this analysis, the study shows that overcoming sanctions is the primary driver of Iran’s push to join the SCO, and its instruments of national power are sufficient to contribute to security cooperation within the SCO’s framework. However, Iran’s membership may complicate SCO decision-making processes and fuel additional Western pressure on the SCO as an anti-Western alliance. It remains to be seen if Iran’s membership will be a game-changer for the SCO in achieving its goals. Ultimately, as the SCO matures as an organization, it gives the impression that the Western-led international order is one of many viable frameworks for the international order. With its disadvantaged position in the Western-led international order, Iran may seek to play a more prominent role in shaping an alternative where it can protect and forward its interests.

Asia & Africa today. 2023;(3):30-36
pages 30-36 views

The Islamization and Saffronization of Education: A Threat to the Dialogue of Civilizations?

Fursov K.A.


The article analyzes the contemporary processes of creeping Islamization of the education sphere in Islamic countries and its saffronization (Hinduization) in India. The prerequisites have been the rise of localcultures in Asia and Africa since the late XX century as a reaction to globalization and particularly the rise of the religious factor as an answer to the inefficiency of secular nationalism.

Using the material of Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Malaysia, the author shows how Islamists redesign humanities curricula for their own purposes. Using the Indian material, the same is shown regarding the adherents of Hindu nationalism, i.e., Hindutva. Main attention is paid to the process of the dismantling the secular state in Turkey, Pakistan and India in the XXI century as exemplified by the education system.

The fading of the laicism principle, the search for an identity through the image of an enemy, and the indoctrination of the youth in the spirit of intolerance hamper the capacity of societies for dialogue. It increases the risks of conflicts between ethnoreligious communities both within and between states.

Asia & Africa today. 2023;(3):37-45
pages 37-45 views

An Effective Model of Countering Terrorist Danger: Successful Experience of Mauritania

Melkonyan L.A., Zherlitsyna N.A.


The article analyzes the approaches of the Mauritanian authorities to the fight against terrorism. While the countries of the Sahel region are suffering from a crisis caused by the actions of jihadist groups, Mauritania has become a positive exception in this regard. There have been no major terrorist attacks there in the last 10 years, although there are significant problems in the country that make it vulnerable to extremism. These are unresolved political issues, huge social and ethnic differences, and the weakness of the economy. The terrorist group Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which has been organizing terrorist attacks in the country since 2005 and recruiting young Mauritanians into the ranks of jihadists, tried to take advantage of the numerous problems of Mauritania and the popularity of political Islam there. The peak of terrorist activity in Mauritania was 2005–2011, when more than ten attacks were carried out. Since coming to power in 2009, President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz began the formation of a new anti-terrorist strategy that took into account both the Algerian experience and the Mauritanian realities. This strategy was complex in nature and included both military measures and “soft approaches”. Among the military measures, a successful military reform should be noted, affecting military education, increasing the mobility of the armed forces and the capabilities of special forces units. The approach of the Mauritanian authorities to the internal religious and political arena has also undergone a radical change. In addition to offering dialogue to hardliners and the legalization of the Islamist Tevassul party, the approach aimed at involving the nomadic population of remote desert areas in the public space of Mauritania has fully justified itself.

Asia & Africa today. 2023;(3):46-54
pages 46-54 views

UN Women Structure: Work in the African Direction

Grishina N.V., Ksenofontova N.A.


Political, economic and cultural factors of development have become a powerful catalyst for the women’s movement on the African continent, which has intensified in the last decades. One of the African women’s gains was the right to participate in various socio-political organizations that significantly influence the internal policies of governments.

Among the international organizations focusing on gender equality and human rights issues is UN Women, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in January 2021. UN Women promotes cooperation with national governments and civil society organizations to develop a legislative framework, social policy, targeted programs and services for the implementation of standards of gender equality and justice. The above involves the equal participation of women in social, political, economic and cultural activities. The focus is on the following priority areas: leadership and decision-making level; violence against women; peacemaking and security; women’s economic empowerment; adoption of gender equality in national development planning and budget policy development. The UN Women structure coordinates and supports the work of the entire UN system aimed at achieving gender equality, and all discussions and agreements related to the 2030 Agenda.

The work carried out in African countries by the staff and volunteers of the UN Women structure is diverse and fruitful both in the involving African women in economic processes, and in the enhancing their participation in the socio-political life. However, this organization needs more support from national governments, since gender equality and the empowerment of women is a must for comprehensive, equitable and sustainable development.

Asia & Africa today. 2023;(3):55-62
pages 55-62 views

The African Exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC): Reasons for the Establishment and Prospects of Further Expansion

Voronina N.A.


The article examines the recent (December 2021) establishment of the African Exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), which was related to the recognition of autocephaly (independence) by the Alexandrian Orthodox Church (APC) of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (PCU), and the subsequent rupture of relations between the APC and the ROC. Straight after the establishment of the African Exarchate, more than 100 African clerics left the jurisdiction of the APC and came under the jurisdiction of the ROC. The reasons for the active transition of Orthodox churches to the African Exarchate of ROC are connected not only with canonical issues, that is, unwillingness to be related to the church schism, but also with the policy of the APC in Africa. The African Exarchate, on the contrary, makes every effort to resolve current humanitarian issues and to build long-term cooperation on equal footing with the Orthodox Churches in Africa. An analysis of the events preceding the establishment of the Exarchate, the positions of the UOC and the ROC, as well as the expansion strategy may shed light on the prospects of the African Exarchate of the ROC.

Asia & Africa today. 2023;(3):63-69
pages 63-69 views

Brave Children’s Day: The Sikh Version in the General Indian Context

Demichev K.A.


The article examines the reaction and discussion in the Sikh environment to the decision of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to introduce a new all-Indian Holiday Veer Baal Diwas (“Brave Children’s Day”), which will be celebrated every December 26 starting from 2022 in memory of the martyrdom of the Sons of the Tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh. The article analyzes the historical context of the plot related to the refusal of the younger Sons of Guru – Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh to save their lives by adopting Islam and renouncing Sikhism, loyalty to Guru and Dharma. The initiative of the Prime Minister, with its general positive perception, divided the Sikhs into supporters of the unconditional acceptance of the concept of a new Holiday and those who supported the critical approach of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and the Sikh political party Akali Dal, who considered the name of the Holiday unacceptable and at odds with the Sikh religious tradition. If there is no correction of the name of the Veer Baal Diwas Holiday, then it is appropriate to predict an explosion of discontent and criticism from the relevant political and religious forces and the part of the Sikh community that has joined them.

Asia & Africa today. 2023;(3):70-76
pages 70-76 views

Book review

pages 77-78 views

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