Global TRENDS OF 2015 AND FORECASTS FOR 2016
Katehon think tank offers you a geopolitical analysis of the major trends in world politics for 2015 and forecasts for 2016. The reports are prepared by Katehon’s expert group, based on publicly available data and classified information that is at our disposal. All conclusions are probabilistic and predictive in nature.
Katehon think tank is an independent organization consisting of an international network of people, from a wide variety of fields and disciplines, who specialize in geopolitical, geostrategic and political analysis of world events. The group consists of political thinkers, international relations (IR) researchers, experts in security and counter-terrorism, and journalists concerned with international affairs, geopolitics, ethno-politics and inter-religious dialogue.
Katehon’s representatives are strong supporters of a multipolar world, and thus defend the right to express different views on international relations and the balance of power in the world. In preparing the reports, the authors adhere to the principles of the continentalism school of geopolitics.
Katehon think tank adheres to the position of engaged geopolitics. We realize that geopolitics as it is can either be Atlantist or continental. Therefore, in our studies, we are first attracted to the continental geopolitical pole’s interests that affect the structure of the study and the nature of the issues under consideration.
Table of content
2015 was an extremely hard year for Europe: the unstable situation in the Islamic world, especially in Syria, turned the European continent into a chaos, where more than 1 million migrants entered Europe.
The immigration policy of the European Union rejects, at its foundation, any form of collective identity. This has caused the intensification of ethno-social conflicts. As a result of this migration, EU politics in Europe has changed as it has become populated by ethno-social groups of migrants from the Middle East, who are in fact the bearers of an archaic and stable Islamic consciousness, which is not known by the average European.
The exaggerated principles of tolerance, rights of individualism and multiculturalism, requires that the European political elites give to migrants the maximum liberties and do not require anything in return. As the result of this migration policy in the EU in 2015: 1) the balance between the native Europeans and migrants was broken; 2) the giant socio-cultural pole of an Islamo-Arabic population was created ( the fact of its existence is fully ignored by liberal European elites, because of the absence of the criteria of a collective identity in modern European law and politics); 3) the nutrient medium for the creation of the structures of radical Islamism were created (among the migrants were members of radical Islamic groups).
Two model examples of the "clash of civilizations" in 2015 were the Paris attacks in November, and the mass sex-attacks in Cologne. The “French 9/11” was the largest tragedy in all of French history, and the Paris attack was one of the biggest attacks in Paris since WWII. New year's eve in Cologne showed to all the difference in gender consciousness between European and Islamic cultures, and showed that there is a cognitive dissonance regarding Islamic society (with rigid model of patriarchy), in contrast to its own fluid gender politics, which is predominant in Europe.
The only country that was truly putting into effect an anti-migration policy was Hungary. The prime-minister of Hungary, Victor Orban, practically foretold the social explosion in EU resulting from migrants, and was the first among the European leaders to appeal to close the borders (the protecting apron was created on the border of Hungary with Serbia).
The ways of illegal migration in Europe
In many European countries, the anti-migration political positions began to become stronger and it also caused much criticism towards the immigration policies of Brussels.
The increasing of the popularity of right-wing parties
In 2015, right-wing parties in Europe started to gain an increasing number of votes and popularity: The National Front in France, PEGIDA and Alternative for Germany in Germany, the Freedom party of Austria, Lega Nord in Italy, Golden Dawn in Greece.
The first round of regional elections in France showed that the National Front became not only a legitimate party, but also achieved a better legal standing.
The results of the 1st round of regional elections
These results were shocking for both left and right wing parties. The French socialist prime- minister Manuel Valls declared the necessity of creating a united front against the National Front. It was not officially created after the 1st round of elections (Sarkozy has refused to collaborate with left forces), but this front worked out.
An ad-hoc alliance was initiated by the socialist party, who withdrew their candidates from several regions, where the National Front had good results in the first round of elections. With the withdrawal of their candidates, the group of people who voted for socialist party then voted the Republican Party. The common enemy united the liberal left and liberal right.
The National Front, despite the results of the 2nd round, is one of the most popular political parties in France. The results of the 1st round showed the political will and preferences of French people. The 2nd round is a result of liberal “democratic” strategies, which included a massive media war against Marine Le Pen and the "National Front". It’s evident that if the popularity of the "National Front" grows consistently, it can affect the results of the presidential elections in 2017.
In Germany, the right-wing party PEGIDA becomes more and more popular, more than thirty-thousand people participated in anti-migrant PEGIDA demonstrations. The other right-centrist party “Alternative for Germany” becomes powerful. In 2014, it had taken about 10% in the Euro-Parliament elections. The political program of the party includes a criticism of the liberal pro-American hegemony of Brussels, and has a classic Eurosceptic dimension. The popularity of the party is increasing headily, and it will be clearly seen in the results of the march regional elections in 2016.
One of the trends of 2015 was the reinforcement of the Eurosceptic parties in Europe: The national Front, the Alternative for Germany, the Freedom party of Austria, the Lega Nord, UKIP, Jobbik, and the Danish People's Party. On the 16th of June 2015, a coalition of anti-EU parties “Europe of nations and freedom” was created.
Top anti-EU parties in 2014
The rise and the fall of “left”
In 2015, the Left had gained the incredibly strong positions ( especially in Greece at the end of June – when the "OXI" events had taken place and the popularity of Tsipras was incredibly high. It was the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union when left forces had achieved such a level of legitimacy. There was SYRYZA in Greece, the increasing popularity of PODEMOS in Spain, “Cinque Stelli” movement in Italy. In 2015 (especially the beginning of the year) had shown the incredible success of left political anti-system and anti-liberal forces.
But after coming close to the power, they demonstrated the impossibility of proposing an alternative to liberal politics, which was the main point of their critics. As a result, by the end of the year they had lost their political influence and people’s confidence. The hopes were not realized.
2015 was a year for the rise of regionalism in Europe. The region, that is fighting the hardest to gain independence is Catalonia, which is fighting for its sovereignty from Spain. In September of 2015, the coalition of regional separatists won in the elections to the regional parliament. (62 places out of 135). In November, the parliament of Catalonia accepted the resolution of independence of Catalonia from Spain (according to the resolution, within 18 months Catalonia will secede from Spain, during this 18 months the necessary government structures of a new state will be created in Catalonia and a new constitution will be written).
The other European region with secessionist activity, fighting for its independence, is Scotland. But ultimately the results of the referendum in 2014 in Scotland showed out that 55% of Scottish people prefer to stay a part of UK.
In Italy the “Lega Nord” party, since 1994, has been fighting for the independence of the north regions from the southern ones.
One of the examples of regionalist tendencies was the results of French regional elections, where Corsican nationalists in Corsica gained ground.
The rising control of NATO in Europe: Montenegro case
On the 2nd of December, Montenegro received an official invitation to join NATO. The path to joining NATO is carried out by the pro-American prime-minister of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovich, who is well known by his relationship with the international criminal community, especially with the Italian mafia.
The possibility of joining the NATO block provoked a series of anti-Djukanovich protests in the capital of Montenegro. But despite the mass-protests, Djukanovich didn’t stop the process joining the NATO block, ignoring the people’s preferences.
2015 brought the possibility of civil war in Europe even closer, the internal conflicts and contradictions sharpened, the quantity of international dissent increased, the split between European people’s interests and political elites' interests widened.
Europe grew closer to the start of a civil war.
Migrants in Europe: “clash of civilizations”
The immigrant policy of the European Union will not change its fundamentals (the principle of tolerance). The quantity of migrants will only continue to increase.
In 2016, international dissent will become more widespread. Activists of radical Islamic groups will try to make new terrorist attacks, possibly with the use of biological warfare. Europe will slowly descend into chaos and will approach the beginning of a civil war . The realization of a Syria- scenario in Europe is possible.
The growth of the popularity of right-wing anti-system forces
In 2016, right-wing anti-system parties of Europe will become increasingly popular. The first round of regional elections showed out that the National Front became not only the legitimate party, but also achieved greater legal standing and became a real competitor for both Socialists and Republicans. The pro-system liberal forces of both left and right will toughen up the political war against Marine Le Pen and will unite in a anti-National Front block. This coalition will do everything to discredit the National Front before the president elections in 2017. It’s evident that the National Front in 2016 will be considered by French political elites as a threat to the liberal system. At the same time, the National Front will try to unite the best sides of the left economic program and right politics (conservatism, anti-migration, traditionalism).
The Republican party will try to become popular with the anti-migration agenda.
In Germany the growth of the popularity of PEGIDA is expected as well as the growth of the “Alternative for Germany”. The “Alternative for Germany” can possibly score a victory in several regions of Germany during the march regional elections of 2016. The political mood of German politics will lead towards Eurosceptisism and nationalism.
In Italy the increasing growth of popularity is expected for the “Lega Nord” party, which will try to find a way of collaboration with Berlusconi. The consolidation of right parties is also expected. The popularity of Salvini will be high, especially because of his anti-American and pro-Russian position. His influence will increase in the southern regions of Italy.
In Poland, the right-liberal-conservative tendencies will dominate (the party Civic Platform), In Hungary the consolidation of right powers is expected along with the further reinforcement of nationalist movements (such as Jobbik).
The Eurosceptic mood will not stop. The immigration policy of the European Union has shown the impossibility of regulating inter-civilizational conflicts, and made the terrorist attacks in Paris and sex attacks in Cologne possible.
In February 2016, the UK will revise the conditions of its membership with European Union (the revision of the Euro as the only currency in EU, the decline of participating in the programs of financial help to the countries of Eurozone, the diminution of the excessive regulation of the economics by EU, the revision in the domain of aid to migrants). A referendum about membership in the EU will be realized before the end of 2017.
The Italian government will balance between the politics of Brussels and proper economic interests (the partial elimination of sanctions against Russia). The Eurosceptic trends will be set by right-wing conservative parties.
The EU will swiftly lose trust and political influence.
The crisis of left forces
The Greek prime-minister Alexis Tsipras and his left-wing government will not be able to solve the economic and social problems of Greece. Tsipras can’t any longer be a true left politician, he is not able to hold to his electoral campaign promises and provide for the social system. In the current tough economic situation, under close supervision of Brussels, left-wing ideas cannot be realized. The increasing dissatisfaction with the leftist forces will cause a lot of large-scale protests in Greece.
At the same time, during the loss of the legitimacy of left-wing parties, the position of right-wing parties will become stronger. The interesting phenomena is that the right-wing parties in Greece and moreover in Europe will exploit the left economic program (it’s possible that Golden Dawn will start to become more left in its economic doctrine).
In Europe in 2016, many right wing parties will become left in their economic program. The rigid model of dividing the parties into left and right wing will fail.
“Today, the split in France – is not the split between the left and right political parties, but is the split between patriots and mondialists,” said Marine Le Pen, December 13th 2015, in a speech after the announcement of results of the second round of elections.
The separatist moods in Europe will become stronger. The active fight for the independence will be held by Catalonia, Corsica, and also Scotland.
NATO and its attempts of reinforcement of its positions in Europe
NATO will continue its politics of reinforcement of its control in the European continent. The possible Montenegrin alliance with NATO will play a symbolic role for the Montenegrin people: it will symbolize a sort of pressure on the historical consciousness of the nation. The majority of Montenegrin people still remember the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999. The violent joining of Montenegro to the NATO block is being done by NATO to break the mentality of Montenegrins, by creating a type of Stockholm syndrome and preparing the further joining of Serbia into NATO block.
2016: the major trend
The major tendency in 2016 will be the beginnings of a civil war in Europe. The internal political problems and conflicts will increase headily. The split between the liberal political elites and European nations will enlarge. The speed and the dimensions of events will increase sweepingly (among them, terrorist acts, murders, etc.). We can predict the date when a civil war in Europe will begin if we can analyze the speed and the dimensions of European events in 2016.
When we say Eurasia, we don’t mean the continent, but the former Soviet Union geopolitical space, which unites Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, South Caucasus and Central Asia. Although some of them aren’t related to the Eurasian integration project, and some of them are even against it, somehow, all the former Soviet republics are in the vicinity and under the influence of the Russian Federation, who is a key player in this process.
After the conflict between Russia and Georgia in August 2008, the current president Dmitry Medvedev said that Russia had a special interest area that extended to the CIS countries. The West rushed to accuse Moscow of imperial ambitions, while the Kremlin said that every country had its own national interests that weren’t limited by their boundaries. It predetermined the furthering of Russia’s and the West’s political aspirations, and the final priorities were set up after the political crisis in Ukraine in 2013, which ended in a coup d’etat in February 2014 with the US and EU’s financial and diplomatic support. Further developments led to a referendum in the Crimean Autonomous Republic, where the reunion with Russia was decided, the armed conflict in the southeast of Ukraine and the creation of unrecognised Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republic.
In 2015, Russia strengthened its position in Crimea, deploying additional troops there. The bridge linking the peninsula with the Krasnodar region was built very quickly, which, at the end of 2015, launched the first branch of power.
The Lugansk and Donetsk Republics consistently received humanitarian aid from Russia. The country didn’t take any military-political steps, performing instead as the mediator in various negotiations with Kiev.
The West used the Ukrainian crisis for its own purposes, including reducing the vector of Eurasian integration. However, the deterioration of the relations between Moscow and Kiev will not affect the foundation of the Eurasian Economic Union, although it forced some CIS countries not to rush in making the decision to join the union.
Eurasian Economic Union
In October 2011, Vladimir Putin announced the beginning of the Eurasian integration process, which received a nervous reaction from the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying that Russia is trying to revive the Soviet Union. The documents on entering the Eurasian Economic Union were signed in 2014 by Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Belarus. Later Kyrgyzstan joined it. On January 1, 2015, the EAEU started officially performing, the customs and border barriers were eliminated, with a unified labor law, the united standards of products and services bring created.
Currently the member-states occupy 14% of the world's land area with 182.5 million people. Tajikistan is a candidate to be accepted to the EAEU. Many countries show their interest in the project, which originally was economic in its nature, but, nevertheless, it obviously has geopolitical importance. The coup d'etat in Ukraine was held under the slogan to abandon the Eurasian integration and to enter the EU and NATO. Although Belarus took an ambiguous position in the Ukrainian crisis and offered the mediator role (as a result the Minsk talks were held there), the ratification of all EAEU documents was held according to the plan. All members of the association regularly came to the planned events to continue work on the economic, financial, trade, customs, energy and infrastructure policy.
In addition, the EAEC member-states may enter into agreements with common projects that are also implemented on the continent. At the SCO and BRICS summit in July 2015 in Ufa (Russia), it was stated that the New Silk Road project, offered by China to Central Asia, would be united with the Eurasian Economic Union project. The first round of negotiations between the EEU and China to unite the EAEC and the Silk Road is to be held in early 2016.
Most likely, the initial phase is to discuss the creation of the free trade zones and the special economic cooperation regime. China is interested in expanding the market of its goods and services, as well as the promotion of the transport corridor to the EU borders (it can be done through cooperation with the EAEU, as Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have common borders with China, and Russia and Belarus with the EU countries).
The Summits of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council (SEEC) were held in Moscow in December 2015. The CSTO brings together all the countries of the EAEC, so in the near future the close coordination between the two organizations is possible.
The various project integration ideas will be also increasingly noted in the leading political grounds. In December 2015 the President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev said that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Eurasian Economic Union must develop close interaction, and, in the future, they could be united into one organization.
Despite the speculations on the possible EAEU extension, it is hard to expect new member accession in 2016, except Tajikistan. According to Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, in the near future, the country doesn’t plan to join the EAEU, as it didn’t receive any offers from the respective member-states. Uzbekistan is also in no hurry to join the project.
At the beginning of 2016, the EAEU Customs Code is to appear, and then, on the basis of the practical results of the work on the new customs rules, the other countries could express their interests in joining the organization. However, the ratification and, therefore, the start of the new code is expected only by the end of the year.
Russia in 2016
In 2016, the issue of preventing the re-export of the products prohibited for importation into the Russian Federation through the EAEU members’ territory will remain urgent for Russia. Primarily, it is the question of food goods. In 2014, in connection with the situation in Ukraine, the European Union and the United States imposed sanctions on entire Russian economy sectors. In response, Russia limited food imports from the USA and the EU member-states, Canada, Australia and Norway. However, according to some information, such goods continue to arrive in the Russian Federation through Belarus, for example.
The problem of terrorism and extremism export in Russian will remain at the high level. In December 2015, a number of laws that empower the security services were adopted, and the five coastal regions organized operational counter-terrorism centers. The following year, the trend to strengthen security will remain, although the risk of individual terrorist acts will still high too.
September 18, 2016 the Russian parliamentary elections will take place. Unlike previous years, half of the deputies of the State Duma will be elected directly. This will be a serious test for the ruling party the United Russia, which was recently criticized for failing to solve social problems, corruption and adoption of laws unclear to the population.
The USA and the West are most concerned about the state of the Russian economy, as inflation and stagnation can cause social discontent, which will be used by Washington and Brussels for their own political interests. It is unlikely that we can expect large-scale protests, such as the Liberals White Ribbon Movement, whether it is for economic reasons or dissatisfaction with the results of the parliamentary elections. The ruble devaluation will not be as sharp as at the end of 2014. In addition, the projected gradual increase in oil prices, and rising gas prices, can supplement the Russian Federation budget.
Since the USA and the EU has no further understanding of the Kremlin, they will be anxious to see if Russia will make some strategic surprises in 2016. Russian troops in Syria, and especially the use of new weapon types, such as the Corvette cruise missiles, were unpleasant surprises to the West. The USA failed to break the Kremlin neither by economic sanctions nor by indirect action through its partners. The provocation of the Russian bomber shoot down in Syria, which was initiated by the US’ agents, didn’t lead to a direct military conflict between Russia and Turkey. America was unable to undermine the Russian arms exports on the world market. Some European countries found that the United States continued intensive cooperation with Russia in a number of sectors, which caused the confusion and understanding that Washington misled them so that they could take this opportunity themselves.
In the international arena, Russia will continue to deepen cooperation with its close partners in the SCO and the BRICS. There are prospects for a breakthrough in several areas with the Islamic Republic of Iran, which can compensate for the agricultural products import from countries under Moscow's sanctions. Russia will also be active in the Islamic world, especially in Arab countries, as the military action in Syria pushes them to do it.
It will also continue to search for new markets for Russian products, raw materials and services in the Asia-Pacific region, Africa and Latin America.
The Russian-Ukrainian relations at the political level should not expect a breakthrough. Russia chose a strategy of Ukrainian exhaustion, whose economy is close to collapse. Kiev is insolvent, dependent on Russian energy resources and mutual sanctions regime. As for military intervention, Russia is ready to interfere in the territories of the DPR and/or the LPR, if it will be forced by Kiev and their NATO allies’ actions. Moscow understands that the coup d'etat in Ukraine in 2014 was carried out to demonize Russia and to militarize the nearest neighboring countries under the NATO “umbrella”. Meanwhile, we can hardly expect a Russia military intervention in the rest of Ukraine. Rather, Moscow will watch the neighboring country’s political strife and, if it is necessary, support one side or another. However, the more efficient mechanism for the Kremlin is the influence through the EU, thus, the efforts to expand its agency in the legislative branch of the European countries and the European Parliament will continue. As the EU and Russia’s official relations are minimized, it will not be so easy. It is likely that Putin will use his personal friends such as Silvio Berlusconi in Italy and Gerhard Schroeder in Germany, to influence the political situation in Europe.
The development of the Russian Arctic region and the Northern Sea Route is important. In 2015, Russian armed forces completed the reconstruction of several military bases located in the Arctic Circle and made successful large-scale maneuvers. The region will receive special attention in 2016.
In October 2015, the Republic of Belarus had the next presidential elections, in which President Alexander Lukashenko won again (83.5%). On the eve of the vote, the political opposition was granted amnesty, and a state of emergency was practically introduced. The country is actually in manual mode, where there are no signs of the political alternative’s appearance in the near future. If the Central Asian countries raise public servants salaries on the eve of elections or immediately after them, the difficult economic situation in Belarus is not allowed to do it.
The national currency inflation in 2015 will continue, most likely, this trend will remain in 2016.
In July, the IMF mission visited Minsk, which discussed with the country’s leadership the possibility of allocating credit of $3.5 billion. A mandatory condition is the privatization of public sector reform. The IMF “road map” suggests to reform the system of support for vulnerable people within three years (2016-2018), the increase of housing tariffs in a five year period (2016-2020), which means the social program’s end. At the same time, the IMF wants firstly to see the reform being carried out, and then they will give the credit.
Although Belarus is included in the EAEU and is the part of the Union State of Russia and Belarus, the country's leadership follows the policy of moderate protectionism. Russia was denied the placement of its air base in the country, a result of Minsk not getting the expected credit from Moscow, although the Belarus Military–industrial complex continues to cooperate with Russia, and the country has deployed Russian air defense systems.
It is clear that anti-Russian attacks of the Belarus leadership were made in favor of the EU. However, Brussels didn’t lift the sanctions against Belarusian officials, imposed earlier, although it was admitted that the October elections were legitimate.
Lukashenko tries to mediate in the current conflict. Minsk earlier became the platform for negotiations between Kiev and Donbass, and at the end of 2015 it offered its services to normalize the relations between Russia and Turkey.
Minsk continues to actively develop relations with China, which has been a regular donor of the Belarusian economy for many years.
In accordance with the directive #5 on August 31, 2015, the main directions of cooperation between Belarus and China is the deep and mutual integration of industries and enterprises, information and communication technologies, the formation of joint research and research centers, joint development of industrial science, direct and systemic inter-regional cooperation, creation of the regional center in Belarus Sinology and cooperation with China.
With the increasing military presence of NATO near Belarus’ borders and the ongoing EU sanctions, Minsk could return to more active cooperation with Moscow. The United States will try to avoid such a rapprochement, but the final result depends on the will of one man.
As in 2013, Ukraine was regarded as prospective EAEU participant, after 2014 it isn’t remembered, but only strategically wrong decisions of the current Ukrainian leadership, which is completely controlled by Washington and Brussels, are mentioned now. At the same time, the country developed a unique corruption mode that affects the population. At the end of 2015, the EU staged a number of events where high-ranking officials heavily criticized the actions of Ukraine’s ruling circles. Understanding the fact that the country’s European integration is only a slogan, and all funds allocated for earmarked projects immediately go into the responsible officials’ pockets, a crisis of confidence for the EU is evident. Therefore, new loans and economic aid packages are unlikely because Ukraine is on the verge of default. The script of significant Kiev concessions (such concessions have already been made by the United States on strategic enterprises and transactions) in exchange for financial assistance is possible.
The pragmatic Europeans in terms of their own problems don’t want to deepen into the Ukrainian specifics seriously. In addition, the alternative point of view on the events in Ukraine, including the Kiev regime’s war crimes in the Southeast, becomes more popular in Europe.
Since 2016, Ukraine’s agreement on EU association has started to gain speed. However, despite average Ukrainian expectations, it is unlikely to bring them some form of improvement. Ukrainian products don’t comply with European certification, so the markets of western countries are closed. After the Russian sanctions, the east direction is lost too.
In 2016, the EU visa regime abolition will not happen too.
It will encourage civil protest to grow in stature in the country. Most likely, it will create a new radical nationalist coalition that will speak out against the current president and prime minister. In 2016, the resignation of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is more likely.
In addition, it will increase the separatist movements. In other Southeast regions, some protests will occur more frequently, but a large-scale military movement is unlikely without the support from the Russian or the use of Donetsk and Lugansk Republics as proxy actors.
After signing the EU association agreement, Moldova plunged into political scandal and institutional crisis. Despite the number of features (for example, visa-free entry into the EU territory), Moldova is quite skeptical about the vector of European integration. The corruption of all pro-European politicians in Moldova (the notorious arrest of the former prime minister and the head of the Liberal Democratic Party Vlad Filat, accused on corruption) led to a sharp decline in confidence and interest in pro-European projects. In addition, part of the forces, promoting quick EU integration in favor of union with Romania (the Unionists) led to a split among the supporters of the European idea, as quite a lot of adherents support the preservation of Moldova's sovereignty.
In 2015, Moldova noted the Russophile movement’s activity. A number of political parties and public organizations favor Moldova's accession to the EAEU. Meanwhile, the Transnistrian issue remains problematic for the relationship between Moscow and Kishinev.
Since the events in Ukraine, the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic was subject to a full blockade; the soldiers of the Russian army there could only get to the place of their deployment through Moldova.
The authorities are trying to influence the staff rotation, and, in 2015, more than 20 Russian citizens serving in Transnistria were not allowed into the country.
The Moldovan Leu is one of ten national currencies of Europe and the CIS countries, which fell mostly against the dollar in 2015. In 2016, the strengthening of the Moldovan currency should not be expected. The rest of the trend in 2015 will continue into the current year.
In 2015, the Republic of Kazakhstan was occupied mainly with internal problems on the deterioration of the socio-economic climate. The national currency (tenge) was greatly devalued, because of the transition to a floating exchange rate, and dropped by almost 30%. At the same time, there was no apparent connection of the currency depreciation with the oil prices over the past few years. Analysts predict a significant dollar price rise in 2016 and the official forecast of the National Bank of Kazakhstan predicts inflation at 8%, while the first half will become the worst period.
In April 2015, Kazakhstan held presidential elections. Nursultan Nazarbayev predictably won, gaining 97.75% of votes. Thus, he continues to be the undisputed leader of the country since 1991, but it is increasingly difficult to cope with crises. The political elites rotation issue will rise again in the parliamentary elections in 2016.
In general, the Kazakh leadership’s main areas of work will be domestic politics. Salaries and pensions indexation, anti-crisis measures and institutional reforms to strengthen statehood are the key priorities in 2016. Foreign policy will traditionally continue cooperation with China. Also, a serious project, which will be prepared during 2016, is the world exhibition EXPO-2017, the Future Energy.
Since January 1, 2016, Kazakhstan became the presiding country in the Eurasian Economic Union and the President of Kazakhstan will directly lead the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council. As Nazarbayev was the initiator to create such a union in 1991, we should expect constructive proposals, particularly in the context of the fact that Russia is busy in Ukraine and Syria. Rather, it is beneficial for Moscow, since it can lobby their interests through Kazakh partners.
In 2015, Kyrgyzstan held parliamentary elections, where the results were seen as what would be expected from a democratic process.
But the main event was the country's accession to the EAEU. Russia actively helped Kyrgyzstan to adopt new conditions and there is a tendency that such assistance will continue in the future.
Experts highly estimated Kyrgyzstan’s achievements in culture and sports. With proper skill, these bonuses can be easily transformed into geopolitical assets.
The Kyrgyz economy was relatively stable. In the first nine months of last year, the GDP grew by 6.3%. The evectional campaign contributed it. The increase of agricultural production and retail turnover raised state budget spending and slowing inflation. But, in 2016, it is expected to increase the country's public debt, which could exceed 60% of the GDP.
Kyrgyzstan denounced an agreement with Russia on the construction of Kambarata-1 and Upper Naryn cascade hydropower plants. The Russian official position is that the country suffers from a lack of funds for such projects. In fact, it may result in certain agreements with Uzbekistan, who had a negative attitude to such initiatives in Kyrgyzstan and in Tajikistan. However, Kyrgyzstan intends to seek new investors.
In the future, Kyrgyzstan, with China, intends to begin construction of a 215km railroad. This road will become part of the China – Kyrgyzstan – Tajikistan – Afghanistan – Iran regional project.
Thus, Kyrgyzstan will inevitably act between the two regional actors, Russia and China, as part of their policies. It is unlikely that, in such a situation, the US would be able to return to the military base in the Manas airport. However, Washington will try to exert diplomatic influence to construct the country's political processes.
This Central Asian country with a double neutrality status (the refusal to participate in any military blocs with neutrality under the Constitution), in the last few years quite successfully held the balance between home and foreign policy. Profits from the production and gas exports are distributed in the national budget, and external pressure on the country was minimum.
In 2016, the situation may start to change. The Russian monopolist Gazprom refused to buy Turkmen gas in 2016. The government of Turkmenistan also hopes to compensate the fall in energy prices through new projects, although the effect won’t be immediate. At the end of 2015, the construction of the TAPI gas pipeline was launched, which will allow the exportation of gas to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
Signs that the West is starting to criticize the regime are obvious. According to the index of freedoms and human rights, Turkmenistan more often than not appears in the violator’s list, which is specific symptom. Although the West has practically no tools for the country’s destabilization due to the fact that the opposition holds a marginal position and is under the full control of the Turkmenistan law enforcement agencies, an attempt to create formal supranational and non-governmental initiatives for the progressive erosion of the country's political system may appear. On the other hand, the country may be subject to targeted sanctions, as was previously done in Belarus.
There is also the risk of the exportation of terrorism to the country. First of all, there is the risk of militant groups from neighboring Afghanistan crossing the border. For this reason, the Turkmen leadership sent an additional military contingent to the east of the country. Russia also assisted Turkmenistan in strengthening the Turkmen-Afghan border, which runs on a flat landscape. Uzbekistan, where there are extremist organizations, can also be a source of problems for Turkmenistan.
Anyway, you should closely monitor how the West will react to political developments and the situation in the country. The future strategic vector of Turkmenistan depends on it.
Uzbekistan is an Asian-type autocracy, which the undisputed leader of the country is 78-year-old Islam Karimov. Recently, he carried out reforms to democratize the political system, but there is no successor for the presidency there. The worsening problem of political tensions is trying to be settled by all external parties, realizing the strategic importance of the country.
The West has direct interests in the events taking place in this country. In October 2015, the US government voted strongly against plans to sell the South Korea T-50 fighter trainer to Uzbekistan, which was previously developed jointly by the USA and South Korea. Washington fears that there may be leak of the technologies to Russia, although South Korea intends to keep the deal.
In 2015, Germany closed its military base in Uzbekistan, which was used as the transit point to supply troops in Afghanistan. However, the country’s US Air Force base remains. It is obvious that the presence of foreign troops in the country depends entirely on the political will of Islam Karimov. If previously Uzbekistan built the relations with NATO on the basis of pragmatic security interests related to the situation in Afghanistan, now Karimov understands that NATO is able to radically change the processes in the country.
Although, in recent years, NATO intensified rapprochement with Uzbekistan.
On the other hand, Uzbekistan’s list of threats includes natural and man-made disasters that are associated with the possible construction of hydropower plants in Tajikistan and in Kyrgyzstan. Since the latter Republic is a EAEU and CSTO member, it complicates relations within the framework of the Eurasian integration. In 2016, Uzbekistan has a period of intensive development of the hydropower industry in the state program until 2020.
In 2015, the relations with Tajikistan improved to the level of political consultations between delegations of the two countries, which took place on December 24-25. While actively developing relations with Uzbekistan and China, the country will continue this trend in the future.
If Gazprom stops cooperation with Turkmenistan, the Uzbekistan situation becomes radically different. CEO Alexei Miller said that the purchase volumes would be higher than in Turkmenistan, in 2015, Uzbekistan was the third gas producer in the CIS and one of the ten largest gas-producing countries. It suggests that Russia is on the main trade list and economic partners of Uzbekistan. Moreover, demographically growing Uzbekistan supplies Russia with labor force that cannot be considered by the country's leadership. The common interests with Russia are linked with the terrorist organization’s activity.
In 2015, the political life of Tajikistan saw a number of key events. For the first time, the parliament didn’t include the opposition, the Islamic Renaissance Party (the IRP) and the Communist Party. They scored just over 1%, which was unlikely. The IRP leader Kabiri, because of threats and pressure, was forced to seek refuge abroad. It is associated with the strengthening authoritarian trends.
In September, in a special operation, the Deputy Defense Minister General Abdulkhalim Nazarzoda was assassinated, who, according to the authorities, organized an armed rebellion to overthrow the current country leadership. After that, the IRP was declared as a terrorist organization and many of its activists were arrested.
The Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon received the title of the National Leader for peace and harmony in the country.
While there is an extremist branch related to al-Qaida or the Islamic State in the country, past repression showed the government’s inability to solve key problems.
In 2016, it could detonate, when the country will face a socio-political crisis or ethno-sectarian outbreak of violence.
Although the Islamic State is considered as the biggest threat, it is necessary to understand that Tajikistan is a transit country of drug trafficking from Afghanistan to neighboring countries, and then to Russia. All of these threats can escalate in 2016.
Tajikistan includes 201 Russian military bases and its troops recently were moved to full alert.
Although Tajikistan strongly depends on Russia, in 2016, it will try to maneuver between the various players in world politics.
To attract investment, Dushanbe will address China and the Arab monarchies. If Russia can offer significant preferences, it is likely that Tajikistan enters the EAEU even in 2016.
Georgia continues to focus on EU and NATO integration. The Georgian-Ossetian conflict in 2008 and the Russian operations conduction for peace enforcement was used by the Atlantist forces in the country to promote public opinion that only NATO can protect Georgia from someone's aggression. Although NATO accepts new members only if the country has resolved all their contentious territorial issues, the Georgian government continues to campaign for joining the North Atlantic Alliance.
Georgia's economic index of foreign trade fell over the past year, despite the signing of the EU association agreement. It is obvious that Russia is the main market for Georgian products, so in 2016 Tbilisi will try to improve relations with Moscow. It is possible that Russia will cancel the visa regime with Georgia.
However, a major breakthrough shouldn’t be expected. Politically and military Georgia will still follow Washington and Brussels orders. Even the appearance of the Islamic State terrorist organization’s branches in the territory of the Caucasian republic is unlikely to force its leaders to conduct pragmatic security policies.
The year of 2015 was difficult for the Republic of Azerbaijan, with the fall in energy prices, which affected the national economy. At the same time, the country remained in a critical level of unemployment and low wages in the social sector. In addition, traditional bureaucratic corruption became a concern of the country’s supreme power.
The signing by the Azerbaijani President of the decree to dissolve the National Security Ministry was significant. In it’s place, the State Security and Foreign Intelligence Service will be created. Earlier, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan dismissed many officials. It is not clear how effective the purge was. The country has a lot of advisors from the EU countries, which enhances the diplomatic pressure on the Ilhan Aliyev clan. The President understands that flexibly maneuvering between the interests of all actors will be difficult, therefore, they are forced to make a number of concessions, at least in respect of their own legitimacy and security.
At the end of 2015, a new plan for the Individual Partnership between Azerbaijan and NATO was approved. In addition, the Russian-Turkish crisis invariably affected Baku’s foreign policy priorities. Turkey is a traditional partner of Azerbaijan with common historical and cultural roots. It is likely to strengthen these countries energy alliance with Georgia as the transit territory. The South Caucasus gas pipeline expands; the Trans-Anatolian (the TANAP) gas pipeline that is building now, and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (the TAP) that is planned to start building in 2016, may create a certain competition for the Russian Gazprom. To tell the truth, to complete the work to pump gas to Turkey and Europe in the declared volumes in 2020, it is necessary to complete the work at the Shah Deniz Stage 2, which requires a minimum of $45 billion.
The whole economic situation in the country remains unstable and unfavorable. Significant indexes fell markedly. At the same time, Armenia's accession to the EAEC didn’t bring tangible effect, as relatively little time passed after the ratification of all documents. The overall effect of the global financial crisis, currency fluctuations and reducing economic growth in Russia are felt in Armenia. In 2016, significant improvements in the economy are not expected.
In 2015, Armenia conducted political reform, which provided for a parliamentary-presidential form of government and a growing role of the government. It is difficult to predict how effective the new model will be, as the opposition constantly criticized the ruling coalition. Until now, the structure of all the opposition in Armenia is fragmented, which prevents them from conducting effective mobilization. However, permanent grant assistance from the US embassy and other Western actors may achieve the required result and unite the critical mass of the dissatisfied soon, as was the case in Ukraine. It is likely that the factor of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, including the possible role of Azerbaijan, will be used to shake up the situation in Armenia. Neither Armenia, nor Azerbaijan is ready for the direct military conflict, especially since Armenia has a Russian military base and the country is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. But there will be serious provocations that will be used to destabilize the region in general.
The key trends in 2015 for the region will continue in general. Russia will try to find non-trivial solutions to implement its political influence in Eurasia, as the old methods of public diplomacy and public assistance seem to be ineffective. It is possible that more delicate techniques will be used, perhaps with the help of tertiary forces.
China and Iran’s role in Central Asia will be more efficient, while post-Soviet European countries will face the worsening of crisis.
Islamic terrorism will receive more attention from the CIS political elites next year. There is also the risk of the escalation of frozen conflicts.
It suggests a review of the existing regional security system, which can take place within the framework of the CSTO and the SCO.
In 2015, the Islamic world was the center of the world’s attention. It is the most unstable region which has been the most swept with the fire of ongoing civil wars. In 2016, we can expect the conflict to spread to the still relatively stable parts of the Islamic world. The confrontation between the Sunnis and Shiites will intensify.
The phenomenon of the Islamic State has a special importance. From small sectarian groups in Syria and Iraq, it turned into a global threat. Increased competition posed by ISIS has forced other jihadist formations to intensify their activities.2015 Trends
Civil war in Syria
The civil war in Syria was the center of world politics in 2015. The internal conflict became a field of collision between global powers and the place where the fate of American hegemony was put at stake. Russia and Iran have used all of their diplomatic and military efforts to prevent the victory of the opposition forces, and instead have pushed for a significant US defeat, demonstrating that the United States and its allies can no longer impose its will on other parts of the world. The first problem was solved, while achieving the second goal has been postponed for an indefinite amount of time.
Damascus managed to avoid defeat his year. The military intervention of Russia and the support of Iran helped to win several territories from the opposition forces. The primary military success was the capture of Homs by government troops. In November 2015, the Syrian army took control of the town of El-Khader, which was the main Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist stronghold.
Nevertheless, the country's territory remains divided. Bashar al-Assad's government controls most of the East,while ISIS controls the West, which consist of the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates and the Palmyra area. The remaining territory is divided between numerous Islamist groups led by the Gulf state, Turkey, and the United States.
The impossibility of significantly changing the balance of power in the internal Syrian confrontation in the near foreseeable future compelled foreign players to look for ways to end the conflict through a diplomatic settlement. The Russian military intervention forced leaders of Western countries to be more accommodating. Fearful of its success, the West decided to beat Russia in the diplomatic field. In November 2015, Vienna launched another series of talks on Syria. For the first time, the negotiation process included not only Russia and the West, but also Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.
Despite a number of agreements in the negotiation process between the major geopolitical actors whose interests collided in Syria, the main result of which was the decision to hold general elections within the next 18 months, serious disagreements over the future of a political settlement in the country remain.
The main issue is the question of the current president Bashar al-Assad's dismissal. The United States, the EU, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the Syrian opposition under US control all insist on it. Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Damascus itself, and Bashar al-Assad's Syrian supporters are against it.
Another outstanding issue is the creation of a single terrorist organization list. This task is entrusted to Jordan which is currently participating in the conflict on the side of the Western countries and supports the Syrian opposition. However, the Hashemite Kingdom aims to keep friendly relations with Russia, and therefore it is balancing between the two power centers. There are three positions all facing each other on this issue. The position of Russia and Iran is that not only ISIS and Al-Nusra, but also Jaish al-Islami, Ahrar al-Sham and other jihadists financed by Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, are to be recognized as terrorist organizations. The position of Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia is that ISIS, Al-Nusra, Shiite self-defense groups, and Hezbollah must be recognized as terrorist organizations. The position of the US and Europe is that Jaish al-Islami, Ahrar al-Sham and other jihadists financed by Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia must not be included on the terrorist list.
Disagreements on who may be involved in the negotiation process nonetheless still remain. All parties insist on the exclusion of those who they consider to be terrorists. In addition, Saudi Arabia, which tried in December to hold a unity congress of the Syrian opposition, along with Turkey, insist on excluding Syrian Kurds. The United States supports including all parties who oppose Assad, except Al-Nusra and the ISIS, in negotiations.
Civil war in Iraq
In 2015, anti-ISIS forces failed to achieve a victory over the Islamic state. The most efficient structures opposing ISIS became the Kurdish self-defense units and the Iraqi Shiite volunteer formations. The first group's training was actively invested in by Turkey, Israel and the United States, while the second one by Iran. Iraqi armed forces, in most cases, were defeated by the ISIS, leaving their equipment and weapons behind. The primary success of the year for the anti-ISIS forces was the liberation of Tikrit (a town in the north of the country) from ISIS in March 2015. The main setback was the ISIS capture of Ramadi, the Anbar provincial center 90 kilometers from the capital of Baghdad.
In November of 2015, Iraqi Kurds cut the road between Raqqa (Syria, the ISIS headquartered) and Mosul (Iraq, the main ISIS stronghold in Iraq). Thus, ISIS was actually divided into two parts and weapon and oil supplies between the ISIS militants in Syria and Iraq were blocked.
In December, the Iraqi army, supported by US aircraft and Shiite volunteers, launched an offensive to liberate Ramadi. Despite official claims coming from Baghdad, much of the city remains in ISIS hands.
Iraq remains divided religiously and politically. The southern part of the country is controlled by the Shiite government, following Iran, but is also dependent on the United States. The north-western region, where Sunnis live, is controlled by ISIS. Its northwest territories are under the control of Kurdish forces.
Iraqi Kurdistan is in a difficult situation. Power there is officially in the hands of the Barzani clan which aligns with Turkey. At the same time, the region is influenced by PKK forces, Syrian Kurds, and Yazidi militants who are not subject to Barzani and have a negative attitude toward Barzani’s strategy to make Kurdistan a dependent Turkish territory.
The phenomenon of ISIS
Over the past year, the Islamic State demonstrated an ability to effectively defend its territory, capture new areas in Syria and Iraq, and ??spread its influence to other parts of the world. The ISIS phenomenon includes pre-modern, modernist and post-modernist elements and is deployed at the regional and global levels.
The regional prospect of ISIS is based largely in Syrian and Iraqi Sunnis and in countries where was or has come to be in the hands of explicitly religious groups. ISIS has also utilized the organizational skills of the former structures of Saddam Hussein’s nationalist regime in Iraq.
In other parts of the Islamic world, ISIS used controversies and divisions within existing terrorist groups to enable it to use its brand in different extremist structures. This tactic of creating terrorist franchises resulted in the appearance of ISIS groups in Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Egypt, and joining the Boko Haram group in Nigeria.
The terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13th 2015, as well as the terrorist attacks in the Middle East and Africa carried out by ISIS terrorists, showed that the group has successfully entered the global arena.
The most significant part of ISIS propaganda is aimed at the West. Media images and cliches typical for Western popular culture are used, emphasizing displays of violence and the image of successful, brutal conquerors. In 2015, the Islamic State achieved an impressive victory in the media, becoming the most notorious media phenomenon of the Islamic civilization in the world.
The existence of ISIS became an excuse to interfere in the Syrian conflict for both the US and Russia. The established anti-ISIS coalitions mainly fight to resolve the Syrian conflict in their own favors. First of all, this involves the United States, whose territory is located far from the main ISIS bases, and where the proportion of the Muslim population is about 1% (in Russia – 10%).
The US and its allies showed a reluctance to fight against ISIS's financing. Possible actions that could be taken are targeting and destroying the Islamists’ oil caravans and sanctioning their individuals and entities as well as states participating in the ISIS oil trade. Yes these steps were not taken.
For Iran, the main event of the past year was reaching an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program with the six international observers (the permanent members of the UN Security Council and the European Union)
Iran has agreed to get rid of 98% of the available fuel and cut two-thirds of its centrifuges. The Islamic republic has pledged “[t]o not seek to acquire, to develop or to have access to any kind of nuclear weapons, under any circumstances.” In response, the European Union and the United Nations have pledged to lift sanctions against Iran. The United States plans to cancel only those sanctions affecting Iran's nuclear program, while upholding sanctions imposed for other reasons. The warming of relations with the United States has been only partial. Iran has strengthened its relations with Russia within the context of the two countries' joint actions in Syria. The military intervention of Saudi Arabia in Yemen complicated relations between states in the region. In fact, Iran is engaged in a proxy war against the Saudis and their allies in Yemen.
The conflict with Russia became the main development of 2015 for Turkey. According to our information the Turkish operation to destroy the Russian military aircraft was coordinated by the Americans who intended to set these two powerful regional players on a course of collision. Before that, in spite of the different positions on Syria, both countries were building mutually beneficial economic cooperation, especially in the energy sector. Russia was ready to agree to the establish a Turkish control zone in northern Syria. The conflict with Russia disrupted plans to peacefully realize this scenario.
Unprofitable conflict for Turkey and Russia forced the Turkish leadership to seek help in the West and began the process of the restoration of diplomatic relations with Israel. They were frozen in 2010 after the incident with the Turkish ship, the Marmara, involved with Gaza. Now Israel, like Iraqi Kurdistan, could become a gas supplier to Turkey as Russian gas supplies could be blocked.
Turkey is seeking to save face and its officials have claimed that a full normalization of relations is possible only after Israelis cease the Gaza blockade, but there are no signs of a change in policy towards Palestinians.
Losing Russia, Turkey tried to gain the support of Saudi Arabia in jointly defend their interests in Syria and northern Iraq. The deployment of Turkish troops in Iraqi Kurdistan in December 2015 caused a worsening of relations with Iran and Iraq.
A serious factor in destabilizing the internal situation in Turkey is the Kurdish question. In 2015, Turkish Kurdistan was de facto in a state of low-intensity civil war. The actions of Kurdish separatists were fueled by the Syrian Rojava Kurds and Syrian Kurdistan, which are controlled by the Kurdistan Workers' Party. As a result, Turkey deployed an anti-Kurdish campaign in Iraq. In addition to attacking PKK positions from the air, the Turks decided to rely on the loyal Massoud Barzani clan, which controls most of the official positions in Iraqi Kurdistan. Turkish troops were essentially deployed in northern Iraq to aid the Barzani fight disloyal Kurdish forces. The pretext is always the fight against the ISIS.
In its turn, the United States does not support the actions of anti-Kurdish Turks and is attempting to turn an increasingly formed Kurdistan into a stronghold of US power in the region. This causes additional tension in relations between Turkey and the US, but now Turkey has almost no room to maneuver and is forced to follow in the wake of American strategic policy.
The situation in Saudi Arabia is as difficult as ever. The country is mired in a hopeless war in Yemen. Military defeat is contributing to the growth of internal separatism in the region, mostly populated by Shiites.
Falling oil prices have negatively impacted the Saudi Arabia economy and the implementation of the kingdom’s geopolitical strategy has yielded a number of problems. Among them is the problem victory in the above-mentioned Yemen campaign, the expansion of Saudi influence in the area of ??the Indian Ocean (the Maldives), the support and legitimization of Islamist proxies in Syria, and support for radical Islam in Afghanistan.
A particular interest of the Saudis is Syria, where the kingdom is one of the fiercest opponents of Bashar al-Assad. Repeatedly, Saudi private funds have been accused of supporting not only the radicals of Ahrar al Sham or Jaish al-Islami, support for which is no secret, but also of financing the terrorists and insurgents of ISIS Al-Nusra. Indirect evidence also points to the fact that, although Saudi Arabia has condemned ISIS with words and the terrorist organization declared the kingdom its enemy, in 2015 the Saudi government took no real steps in fighting, economically or militarily, ISIS.
In 2015, Riyadh made several attempts to negotiate with Moscow on a number of key issues, particularly Syria. Visits to Russia of a number of representatives of the Saudi royal family, including the defense minister and de facto ruler, son of king Salman, Mohamed ibn Salman, focused on this topic. In addition, Vladimir Putin personally talked with king Salman on the sidelines of the G20 summit. The Russian military operation marked the failure of attempts to negotiate with the Kremlin. The destruction of pro-Saudi groups in Syria forced the Saudis to try to legitimize them through including them in the peace process as negotiation participants.
Saudi Arabia's relationship with its main enemy, Iran, is one step away from open confrontation. These parties are in a proxy war in Syria and Yemen. By weakening Iranian influence in Iraq, ISIS objectively acts in the interests of the Saudis. Saudi Arabia sentenced to death members of Shiite demonstrations in 2012. Among them were several teenagers and the famous Shiite religious leader, Sheikh al-Nimr who was executed on January 2, 2015. Previously, Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi warned the Saudi Arabia government that Shiites all over the world will not tolerate the execution of one of their community leaders in Saudi Arabia. Now the Shiites are the majority of the population in the main oil province of Saudi Arabia, the administrative district of al-Sharqi. In addition, there are more Shiites (Ismaili) in the Najran province on the border with Yemen.
The abusive attitude of the Saudis toward Shiites was emphasized by the bodies of Shiite pilgrims killed in the stampede in Mecca on September 29, 2015 (just over 2,000 people were killed). This further complicated relations between the Wahhabi and the Shiite poles of the Islamic world.
Another factor undermining Saudi Arabiam security is the infighting of its elites. The royal family is quite numerous, but in 2015 the feeble-minded son of the founder King Abdul Aziz Salman came to power. After his death, power should have been given to the second generation of the Saudi dynasty. Most likely, in the near future Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Mohammed and Crown Prince Naif Al Saud will meet in a duel for power. While the first one is an ardent supporter of Saudi hegemony in the region and is prone to adventures, like Yemen conflict, the second one has been previously characterized as the most pro-American member of the Saudi ruling elite.
The third faction is the part of the ruling family that is dissatisfied with both pretenders to the throne. In August 2015, there were three open letters of the two princes of the house of Ibn-Saud. Their representatives call for overthrowing the Princes Mohammed bin Nayef and Mohammed bin Salman because their adventurist policies, especially the reckless operation in Yemen, have put the country on the brink of disaster.
War in Yemen
The year 2015 was marked by a full-scale Arab coalition invasion of Yemen under Saudi Arabian leadership. Besides the Saudis, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Kuwait and Pakistan took part in the war against Yemen. The last one only formally joined the coalition, but bears no real involvement in the conflict. The main burden of the war is born by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.
The conflict in Yemen intensified after January 2015 when President Hadi, who came to power in the beginning of the Arab Spring, was replaced by pro-Iranian rebels, the Huthis. The Wahhabi Gulf monarchies could not allow control over the strategically important peninsula country of Yemen to be handed over to their geopolitical and religious opponents.
Yemen is of high geopolitical importance. It is located in the southwestern part of the Arabian Peninsula. Control over Yemen is important for controlling the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, the narrow neck connecting the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. The Bab-el-Mandeb is one of the key points of the sea route linking the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean as all oil and liquefied natural gas tankers going from the Gulf to Europe must pass through the strait.
The Huthis’ rise to power in Yemen is a direct threat to the domestic stability of Saudi Arabia. A significant part of the population of the provinces neighboring Yemen consists of Yemeni coreligionists, Huthis-Zaidis, and Shia-Ismaili, who suffer from the Saudi kingdom’s persecution. Iran could use Yemen as a base for organizing riots and protest movements within Saudi Arabia itself.
The country urged the intervention of its geopolitical allies and the United States who are similarly against any strengthening of tellurocratic Iran and the interception of this strategically important sea route.
The war of the Saudis and their allies against the Huthis has born no considerable success. The Huthis keep the country's capital Sana’a and much of North Yemen. Former President Saleh allied with Huthis and returned to the country. His supporters joined the fight against the invaders. In South Yemen, a significant part of the territory is controlled by local separatists and militants of Arabian Peninsula al-Qaeda and local Islamic State groupings. Islamic radicals are waging the war against both the Huthis and the Saudi coalition and are gaining entire cities.
One of the main trends of this war has been the Huthis' use of anti-ship tactical missiles which have disabled few Saudi ships and missile attacks on Saudi bases, including on the territory of Saudi Arabia itself. By the end of the year, the Huthis and the Yemeni army loyal to the President attacked the centers of Saudi Arabian provinces close to the borders. They now control most of the Najran province and entered Jizan province, laying siege to its capital with the same name.
The war in Yemen threatens to become a Saudi Vietnam. Several factors significantly impede the mission:
- Mountainous territories, especially in northern parts of Yemen, convenient for guerrilla warfare;
- The local population’s extreme militancy;
- The presence of some unexpected opponents besides the Huthis;
- Iran’s supply of arms (optional).
China is suspected of supporting the Huthis and Saleh as well, as it shows serious interest in the Bab El Mandeb. This year, the Chinese announced the construction of its own military base in Djibouti, located on the other side of the Strait.
The only way for the Saudis to succeed in Yemen is a mass genocide of the local population. However, the Saudi coalition doesn’t follow any international rules of the warfare. Time plays against the Saudis. The weakness of its own armed forces as demonstrated in this campaign have forced the coalition country to seek mercenaries which have since become an additional burden on the country's military budget. There is the danger that, as a result of low oil prices, the Gulf countries will soon be unable to continue the war for economic reasons.
In 2015, the most significant trend was the start of the Palestinian knife intifada. One reason was yet another conflict on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in October 2015, when the Israelis refused to allow representatives of some Islamic movements to the mosque. The subsequent outbreak of violence led to a series of ongoing attacks by Palestinian youth on Israelis. The tools of terror are ordinary kitchen knives. The action does not have a leader and is spontaneous and all information and calls for attacks are spread across the Internet.
Such violent Palestinian actions were preceded by Jewish religious extremists’ aggression inspired by the Israeli government. For example, the burning of an Arab family with a small child on the night of July 30 in the Arab village of Kfar Duma.
Palestinians’ radicalization has also contributed to the continuation of the Gaza blockade and Israel's refusal to withdraw its troops from the occupied West Bank. Previous Israeli bombing destroyed the majority of Gaza’s civilian facilities. About 1.8 million people of a population of more than 2 million in the city were left without homes. Not a single house was rebuilt. According to the UN, Gaza has the highest unemployment rate in the world reaching about 48%. In such circumstances, the Gaza Strip is yet another world region where Islamic State structure could find strong support. They have already made several attacks on Israeli territory. In response, Israel launched strikes on ISIS forces opposing Hamas factions.
2015 was a year of both great hope and great loss for Egypt. The most important event was the destruction of the Russian passenger plane Airbus A-321 by the Vilayat Sinai terrorist group, a branch of the Islamic State, on October 31, 2015. This event showed the world the terrorist threat level in Egypt and exposed the problem of terrorist activities in the Sinai Peninsula, which was previously a problem for Egypt and Israel.
This year, Egypt pursued a policy of balancing between thalassocratic and tellurocratic powers. On the one hand, the President of Egypt, Field Marshal Al-sisi, established relations with the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin. Egypt became the major customer of Russian arms. On the other hand, Egypt supported Saudi Arabia in its operations in Yemen. The Saudis are also one of the current Egyptian regime’s sponsors. Having achieved, together with the UAE, the removal of the former Egyptian government of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was backed mainly by Qatar and Turkey, the Saudis supported the military coup of Sisi. It is significant that Wahhabi pro-Saudi parties were not against the coup d’etat in Egypt.
One of the most important consequences of the terrorist attack over the Sinai was a sharp decline in the flow of Russian and European (especially British) tourists. A chip in this important part of the Egyptian budget’s revenue has resulted in the increased dependence on the country and its leadership on Saudi Arabia.
Civil war in Libya
In 2015, the Libyan civil war continued, with the country virtually ceasing to exist as a united state. The chances of overcoming this division are too little.
The conflict began on May 16th, 2014, when the Major General of the Libyan National Army, a US citizen actively co-operating with the CIA, Haftarah Khalifa, announced the launch of a large-scale air and ground operation involving his troops of the armed forces in the city of Benghazi. The military offensive mission received a codename: Operation Dignity. The fighting continues even now. The military coup d’etat took place because of the disagreement within the united power to overthrow Muamarra Gaddafi previously. As a result, two governments were formed in the country: in Tobruk and in Tripoli.
The Tripoli government controls a significant part of Tripolitania, the northwestern part of the country. It is controlled by the local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and is guided by Qatar and Turkey. The second, Tobruk government, in the eastern part of the country, near the Egyptian borders, controls most of Cyrenaica, the historical region in eastern Libya. The Tobruk government is considered as internationally recognized and focuses on the UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Western countries, and is trying to gain Russian support.
Both governments struggle in Fezzan, the southern part of the country, populated mainly by the Berber tribes. None of the governments were able to defeat the opposing side, and thus it is unlikely to do so in the near future. Every government is an amorphous coalition of different tribes and groups, warlords, following their local interests.
In addition to the two governments in Libya, there is also the Islamic State local branch, who captured a significant part of the oil-bearing coast of Sirte and announced itself by the mass execution of Egyptian Coptic Christians in February 2015. Fighting against ISIS in Libya is largely done by the Tobruk government with the support of the Egyptian aviation, but it has not brought the desired result.
Local groups in the city of Misrata have great importance, in fact, they are separated from the rest of Libya and the Tuareg tribes that control of the southwest of the country. All the groups fight for the Tuareg tribes influence.
This year, peace talks were held to establish the coalition government including the representatives of Tobruk and Tripoli governments. Special roles are played by Morocco, France, United States’ ally in the Maghreb and Italy, Libya's former colonial power. In December 2015, an agreement was signed on the establishing of such a government. However, part of the Tripoli leadership already expressed disagreement with the document. The chances of establishing peace in Libya, even by creating such a government, is very little, as the reason for the civil war and the countries disintegration is not political differences, which can be solved by creating a party coalition, but the clan and tribal disputes.
In 2015, the main Afghanistan trend became a split in the ranks of Islamists opposing the government. The moderate Taliban are representing the interests of the countries Pashtun tribes and are oriented primarily on the creation of the national Islamic state, expressing their readiness to start negotiations with the officials in Kabul. The talks were scheduled in July 2015, but the news of the death of Mullah Omar, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, slowed the process. Mullah Omar, who replaced Mansour, was also interested in the negotiations, providing the foreign troops withdraw from Afghanistan. In response, the implacable Islamists tried to assassinate the Taliban leader.
Mullah Mansour’s opposition was represented by local radicals, foreign mercenaries and natives of Central Asia, expecting to use Afghanistan as the base for expansion of the former Soviet Union. Some of them continue their actions, regardless of the central leadership, under the flag of the Taliban movement; some joined the Islamic state structure that appeared in Afghanistan.
In 2015, the conflict in Afghanistan became more complex. The confrontation between Kabul and the Taliban was added to the conflict between the Taliban and ISIS, and on the one hand, the conflict between the moderate and radical Taliban, and between Kabul, radical Taliban and ISIS, on the other hand.
ISIS appeared as the new center of radical Islamist’s attraction, forcing the ruling region’s countries to reconsider their attitude toward the Taliban, recognizing it as not that great a evil or even a constructive force, which under the circumstances, can be freed from excessive radicalism. The Taliban, in turn, released an official statement in which they said that they do not intend to expand the organization beyond Afghanistan.
It increases the chances to start peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. China takes an active participation in the establishment of intra-Afghan talks, and sends periodically delegations to visit the Taliban. The representatives of Russia stated the presence of communication channels with the Taliban and the general interest in the Islamic State destruction in Afghanistan. India and Iran are also interested in peace in Afghanistan.
The radical Islamist’s financing in Afghanistan comes from Qatar and Saudi Arabia. These countries are interested in the continuation of the Afghan conflict, as it would undermine plans to build oil and gas pipelines from Russia and Iran to India through the region countries, including Afghanistan. Thus, the oil and gas Gulf monarchies may lose a large market.
These projects, as well as the strengthening of the Russian and Chinese influence in Afghanistan, will not be beneficial for the United States.
Afghan’s leadership is quite anxious. In 2015, the Taliban frequently conducted terrorist attacks, including armed attacks in Kabul. In the summer, in the north of the country, the Taliban took the strategically important city of Kunduz. In the north of the country, in a number of areas, the Taliban came closer to the borders of Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. The current Afghan leadership needs to protect themselves from the radical’s attacks. Obviously, even if the Taliban leaders will negotiate, it cannot provide anything, the irreconcilable struggle will continue, despite the final decision.
The Afghanistan leadership appealed to Russia several times to increase its defense. General Rashid Dostum, the head of Uzbek militants made a visit to Russia. All these events angered the United States, and it turned out that Afghanistan is gradually falling under the Russian and Chinese influence , and the Taliban and the official country’s leadership made the steps to achieve it. Under the pretext of the strengthening of the terrorist threat, the Atlanticists decided to leave the American and British troops in Afghanistan for several more years.
The сhanging power balance in Pakistan had a significant impact on Afghanistan’s processes. The Pakistani elites are now divided. A part of it, especially the political leadership, reoriented toward China. In Afghanistan, this part of the Pakistani establishment stands for peaceful settlement of the conflict. Another part of the Pakistani elite, connected to the military intelligence and the Pakistani Taliban, opposes the peace process and maintains close ties with the United States.
In 2015, Pakistan, in general, moved closer to the continental pole. This state, like India, entered the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Pakistan continued to strengthen ties with Russia and China.
In 2015, Chinese leader Xi Jinping announced the establishment of Sino-Pakistani economic corridor. It is the transport and logistics project that includes Pakistan in the new Silk Road, a network of transport corridors linking China through Central Asia to the western part of the Eurasian continent.
Earlier in 2014, Russia lifted an embargo on supplying arms to Pakistan, which initiated the development of defense relations between the two countries. In August 2015, Russia and Pakistan signed a contract on military transport helicopters Mi-35M.
In 2015, Pakistan had taken part in joint military training exercices with Russia in the Russian Far East as well as in competitions of the Air Force crews between Russia, China, Egypt, Venezuela and Belarus.
Russian companies will take part in the construction of the North-South pipeline in Pakistan from Karachi to the port town of Lahore. In the future, this part may become part of the pipeline system, which will deliver liquefied natural gas from Iran to Pakistan and China.
But there are no positive changes in the relations with the US. America is losing Pakistan, giving it to China and Russia.
The change in the Pakistani foreign policy from the monopolar to multipolar course was accompanied by increased terrorist activity. In 2015, almost every month, Pakistan suffered from several acts of terrorism, most of them being committed by Sunni radicals and Baluchistan separatists. The religious groups that committed most of the attacks, was the Shiite minority.2016 Forecast
The intensification of fighting in Aleppo and an offensive of the Syrian army on Palmyra are expected. During the year these two cities will be liberated by Syrian forces. However, the successes of the Damascus government will end with these two major military victories.
The beginning of political settlement and peace talks will not bring the desired results. The country will de facto remain ethnically and religiously divided, and will not be ready for elections in 2017. Bashar al-Assad will refuse to resign.
After raising the issue of the necessity to deploy in a ground operation, Russia will be looking for ways out of war in Syria during the year. But the possible introduction of Turkish troops in north Syria may disrupt these plans.
The Islamic state will not be defeated in Syria and will retain most of its territories except Palmyra. The Syrian armed forces will conduct operations against ISIS only in the second turn, firstly trying to destroy the weaker Islamist groups, which the West regards as terrorists. After cleaning the political battlefield, the Damascus government will remain the only alternative to ISIS. To protect their controlled Islamists and to neutralize Syrian Kurds, Turkey will bring troops into northern Syria.
The Islamic state will retain most of its territories in Iraq. In 2016 there will be a battle for Mosul. The armed forces of Iraq with support of Shiite military formations and Kurdish militias will try to take the city, which is the de facto capital of the Iraqi part of ISIS. The operation will not succeed.
The Iraqi government will remain divided. The Kurdish part will commit to a final formation of their own state. The conflict between the Kurds will not allow the statehood of a unified Kurdistan with the involvement of the Syrian and Turkish Kurds to be completed, but the significance of the Kurdish factor in world politics will increase. Turkey will save its military presence in Iraqi Kurdistan to maintain control over the process.
It should be expected that the increase of terrorist activity against the backdrop of ISIS`s will be relative to the failures in Syria and Iraq. The movement will not be defeated, but also will not be able to gain significant victories in the region. The expansion of terrorist activity outside of Syria and Iraq would be the only way to preserve the attractiveness of the movement for radicals.
In ISIS there will be significant changes. Those elements in the leadership of the movement which were associated with the region's Sunni communities of Syria and Iraq and the state structures of Iraq from the times of Saddam Hussein will give way to international terrorists, tied to foreign, primarily Atlanticist special services. ISIS will have a definitively global character.
Terrorist attacks on behalf of ISIL in China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Russia, India are possible. Repeats of the terrorist attacks in France and Germany are possible too. Terrorist attacks in the centers of Atlanticist world – the UK and the US – are unlikely.
Armed conflict between Russia and Turkey in 2016 is unlikely. Both sides will begin a gradual restoration of relations, because it is in the interests of both countries. Progress towards this was observed at the end of 2015. Turkey will try to prevent a final breaking off of relations with Russia. At the same time, a return to full cooperation is not expected.
The possible entry of Turkish troops into northern Syria could stall the process. Maintaining the Turkish military presence in northern Iraq will have a negative impact on the development of relations between Turkey and Iran. In both cases, Turkey will be forced to take this step to prevent the use of the Kurdish factor to undermine the Turkish state. Turkish Kurdistan will remain a significant headache for Ankara in 2016. Armed confrontation in Kurdish-populated regions of the country will continue.
At the same time, the United States will try to use Kurds as a tool of pressure on Turkey and provocative actions in Northern Iraq and Northern Syria, encountering the Turks and the Russo-Iranian blocs again.
Rapprochement between Turkey and Saudi Arabia will continue. Turkey will use it, also for the recovery of full-friendly relations with Egypt. The United States will try therefore to turn Turkey into a competing link between Qatar, which supports the structures Muslim Brotherhood, and Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The Turkish-Israeli rapprochement will take place more slowly. Largely it will depend on the compromises of Turkey in the process of the unification of Cyprus, which will it allow to implement several energy projects in the Eastern Mediterranean at the same time.
The change of government in Turkey is expected in a peaceful way or as the result of a coup with U.S. support. This will occur if attempts at rapprochement will be successful. Bridging the Turkish-Russian differences is not included in the plans of the United States.
The situation most likely for Yemen is that the Saudi coalition will engage in negotiations involving the conflict between both Islamic radicals and separatists in southern Yemen, in order to free the forces used against them to fight the Houthis.
The Houthis will continue to have success in the defense in North Yemen and in the war in the border regions of the Saudi Kingdom. Under their partial control will come southern provinces of Saudi Arabia.
The decline of oil prices will have the most negative impact for Saudi Arabia, the consequent inability to continue the war in Yemen may lead the country to drop out as one of the active players in the Middle East. The country will have to resolve domestic problems.
In the border with Yemen and in the parts of the oil-bearing provinces of Arabia, it is likely to see a scenario of a Shiite rebellion that will be suppressed, but the tendency of separation of Shiite areas of the country will remain during the next year. The probability of success of the rebellion depends on the Saudis being able to avoid a heavy defeat in Yemen, and on a withdraw from the war just in time.
The weakening of state institutions of Saudi Arabia will also be used by radical Wahhabis who already have a serious stronghold in Yemen in the form of territories in the Arabian Peninsula seized by al-Qaeda. So, a delicate situation in Saudi Arabia will continue from two directions: the Shiite and the radical Salafi.
The collapse of the military adventure in Yemen will significantly weaken the position of the Minister of defense Mohammad bin Salman, and may lead to in his removal from the second position in the hierarchy for the Saudi throne. This will significantly weaken the position of radical Saudi interventionists in the court. It is most likely that crown Prince Mohammed Ibn Naif escapes responsibility for the Yemeni adventure, and will strengthen his position with support of the U.S.
Countries of Persian Gulf
In the Persian Gulf it is expected that there will be Shiite unrest in Bahrain against the background of the strengthening of Iran and the weakening of Saudi Arabia. It is also possible that there will be a coup instigated by the UAE or Saudi Arabia, against the Sultan of Oman who prefers to balance between the Wahhabi monarchies of the Persian Gulf and Iran. The strengthening of Iran in the region will lead Oman into the sphere of Iranian influence, who are not interested either in Arabian monarchies nor in the US and the UK, with their serious influence on the armed forces of the Sultanate.
The main problem in Egypt in 2016 will be counteracting terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula. No significant changes in foreign and domestic policy for the country is expected.
In Palestine in the first half of 2016, it is likely to expect the continuation of intifada knives. In the Gaza Strip there will be an increase in support for ISIS in the context of the radical actions of the Israelis, and of Hamas's failure to give an adequate response to the Zionist state.
New unrest at the Temple Mount are expected in the context of eschatological moods among Muslims and Jews, that will continue to destabilize the situation. In Palestine in this context, a color revolution against Fatah and Hamas movements, which divide power in the country, will become possible.
In Iran in 2016 there will be elections to the Parliament and the Assembly of Experts, a legislative and deliberative body under the Supreme Leader (the Rahbar), which elects the Rahbar, and oversees his work. It is most likely that supporters of the incumbent President Hassan Rouhani (the moderate reformists), and representatives of conservative circles, will get the majority of seats in the Majlis. He was able to maintain good relations with Russia and China, and furthermore strengthen them, to show firmness defending Iranian and general Shiite interests in the Middle East, and at the same time carrying through a very important Iranian nuclear deal, which will have great benefits for the development of the economy.
The United States will attempt to use the elections to destabilize the situation in Iran, but the internal cohesion of the society and upward economic mobility bolstered by the lifting of sanctions will not contribute to the success of this strategy.
The next year a withdrawal of UN and European Union sanctions from Iran is expected. On the contrary, using various pretexts, the United States will strengthen the pressure of sanctions, such as surrounding the Iranian program of building ballistic missiles.
The accession of Iran to the world oil market will further reduce the prices of oil. It forces its main rival Saudi Arabia to face the prospect of reducing production in order to keep prices at the same level. All of this will hit the budget of the Saudi deficit already.
Those clans who will disagree with the agreement on forming a coalition government, will find new sponsors and will join the war under new brands. It is highly likely that some of them will be in ISIS, the others will support the creation of new alternative structures of power. Creating a coalition government did not significantly change the situation.
Proliferation of destabilizing trends from Libya to other Maghreb countries is expected. First of all, to Algeria. The Tuareg factor cannot be overstated, as they well armed, and trained in the armed forces of Libya, the tribes of Muamer Gaddafi will manifest themselves in other African countries, particularly in Mali and Mauritania.
We should expect a coup in Algiers. The current president of the country is seriously ill and had not appeared in public. Released in December of 2015, allegedly belonging to him were proposals for the amendment of the Constitution to significantly limit the powers of the military and distribute those powers among other authorities, which were previously the responsibility of the President. Most likely these proposals were dictated by the competing groups that focused on liberal reforms in country, and on the complete subjugation of the country to the West.
Most likely, a military coup will be the answer of the generals attempt to limit their power. Establishing a military dictatorship will be justified by the intensification of Islamic extremists, who will receive assistance from Libya amid falling living standards and oil revenues, due to the continued falling prices for black gold.
In Afghanistan in 2016, the continuation of Taliban offensive is expected. Tensions between radical and moderate Islamists will continue. There will be a few more assassination attempts on Mullah Mansoor.
The war between the Islamist groupings will contribute to the rise of chaotic processes in the region and will affect neighboring countries in Central Asia and Pakistan. Most likely, we can expect an armed Islamist export from Afghanistan onto the territory of former Soviet republics of Central Asia, Iran and Pakistan.
Leaders of Afghanistan will receive, in 2016, a small amount of military aid from Moscow. Moscow and Beijing will continue to establish relations both with Kabul and Taliban officials.
It is quite possible to see the beginning of the official negotiations between Kabul and Taliban representatives. The most likely place for these to take place is Islamabad. However, no serious documents in this year will be signed.
Pakistan will continue its rapprochement with Russia and China. Against this background, Pakistani-American relations will deteriorate. Rapprochement with Russia, which also builds a friendly relationship with India, will contribute to the normalization of the India-Pakistan conflict in Kashmir. The probability of an escalation of this conflict will be reduced, although the problem itself will not be solved.
The events in Afghanistan will have a serious impact on the development of the situation in Pakistan. We should expect an increase of terrorist activity in the country.
The Peoples Republic of China is slowly but steadily moving towards the fulfillment of its strategic goals. Some of them are opposite to the established world order in the Pacific and South Eurasia regions, which for the last 20 years has been under the practical control of the United States. Moreover, the global vision of the Chinese leadership is opposed to both monopolarity as "Pax Americana" and also to the more abstract concept of "global leadership" with Washington as the leader. The idea of multipolarity (duojihua) that began to be developed by Chinese scientists in the 1990's, is not only the official position of Beijing, but more often it seems to be the only possible world order, for the future, in Chinese media. At the same time, US hegemonic aspirations, whether in its provocative demonstration of military force and the implementation of some projects within the framework of bilateral and multilateral relations in the region of Southeast Asia, are widely criticized.
Geographically, China is on the Eurasian periphery, although politically it has to balance between the Sea Power and the Land Power: the country is traditionally divided into the coastal zone, focused on trade with the outside world, and a vast land-mass. A skillful balance between the regions' interests, their citizens and political elites, as it was before, will be the main problem of governing of Beijing in the coming years. But if Mao Zedong exploited the idea of fighting against the bourgeois system, and Deng Xiaoping successfully combined the military planning and state capitalism, then in the current circumstances China needs new solutions.
However, in 2015 China made progress in some areas, in 2016 there are a number of symptoms that are expected to become visible, and the problems connected with both national characteristics and global challenges will be more pronounced.
In 2015, China was able to solve a number of serious issues of the regional geopolitics and national interests. Although there are tensions over the control of disputed islands in the South China Sea, Beijing's efforts show that, despite the existence of two opposing coalitions (one consists of the US's old partners, while others are trying to conduct a more independent policy), China managed to maintain the overall political line and not to change their strategy of action.
Beijing prefers diplomatic negotiations, for example the first round of talks on the demarcation of the disputed maritime territory with South Korea already took place in December of 2015, and Beijing plans to use this model with the other countries again if the process is successful. However the weight of its arguments at the negotiating table are the product of its displays of military force.
Although the United States wants to continue to use South Korea as a third party to contain both China and North Korea, it will not be easy, as the South Korean economy is closely tied with Chinese one.
There is also notable success in the regional political and infrastructural projects.
In Nepal, China successfully used the diplomacy of soft power by sending troops and humanitarian aid after the earthquake in April 2015, after which Nepal signed the Memorandum of Understanding with Petro China, which means the end to the Indian oil import monopoly in the country. In addition, Nepal became a founder of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (ABII), where the leading role remains with China.
In Thailand, China also managed to agree on the start of the Kra Canal construction, which must be finished by 2025.
The project is part of the Chinese concept of the New Silk Road through Russia and Central Asian countries to Europe and the Sea Silk Road linking China, India, Pakistan and Africa. The channel length will be about one hundred kilometers and will cut the distance of sea lanes by 1,200 kilometers.
The new transport route creation will not only redirect cargo to the shorter route, but also allow a faster response to threats and challenges of China's interests in the Indian Ocean and near the African coast. At the same time China also points to the importance of the environmental component: the new route will reduce CO2 emissions.
China provides extensive assistance to Myanmar in the development of its industry and infrastructure. China also aims to become a major investor for oil and natural gas development in Myanmar. After the victory in the parliamentary elections, the democratic opposition did not carry out any major reforms either in internal politics or foreign relations. Most likely, Myanmar will maintain good relations with China and continue Beijing’s infrastructure projects.
On January 30th, 2015, the deepwater oil port at Kyaukphyu was officially opened on Maday Island in Myanmar and was built by China. The oil from the CNPC oil terminal tanks will come to China on the main oil pipeline, which runs parallel to the previously constructed main gas pipeline to bring gas from the Shwe block near the Rakhine coast to the People's Republic.
At the beginning of 2015, a new marine transport sailing company between Shanghai and Yangon was launched, which is operated by a subsidiary of the Danish company, Maersk.
Using Myanmar to contain China, as the United States planned, is unlikely even though it is possible and cannot be excluded that the US will use proxy forces, such as terrorist groups, to carry out sabotage activity on the main pipelines.
China still has a special interest in Taiwan. This year, dialogue was carried forward from where it was set for the last 20 years. The Chinese side believes that there has been an important step in the normalization of relations between the two countries. The current Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou is considered to be pro-Chinese, but the second term of the partially recognized state's head comes to an end.
The chairman of the opposition, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Tsai Inven runs for presidency again, she is oriented to the West (she studied at the Law School at Cornell University and the London School of Economics). The DPP follows the idea of creating a Taiwanese nation with no cooperation with China.
Taiwan's National Party’s (Kuomintang) candidate for the upcoming January 2016 elections will be the Hong Syuchzhu. As the National Party’s rating has fallen, the DPP candidate is more likely to win, which means a sharp deterioration of the Chinese-Taiwan relations.
Relations between China and Vietnam are quite difficult. In September of2015, the leader of China officially visited Vietnam, but he had no significant progress. In Vietnam, there is the pro-American faction, represented by the Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who adheres to the reformist line, and the pro-Chinese faction, whose leaders are considered to be the general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong and the Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh.
Vietnam recently joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership under US leadership. This may reduce the Chinese investment in the neighboring country, as well as lead to a reduction of trade turnover between the two countries.
Washington successfully provoked Vietnam to confront China, although cooperation between China and Vietnam continues even in the military field (regularly conducted joint maneuvers in the Tonkin Gulf ).
Most likely, Vietnam will continue its policy of balancing between the US interests and China, which is typical for many Rimland areas. But the escalation of the conflict between Vietnam and China is unlikely.
North Korea is under Chinese economic tutelage, although Beijing was critical on DPRK 's nuclear test. The two countries are linked by common history, especially the conflict with the US in the 1950's.
In general, in 2016 China will try to continue the old strategy of economic involvement with neighboring countries, as it will have financial and investment opportunities, while approving the need to implement numerous joint regional security projects in the national interests of each country. Recently, Beijing succeeded in this, with the exception of the noted disputes. Consequently, there is no reason for China to stop its soft expansion into the region.
China is actively developing cooperation through two main Eurasian projects: the New Silk Road and the Pearl Necklace. The first one provides for the establishment of infrastructure land routes through Central Asia to the EU borders, including free trade zones and special economic regimes. The former Soviet Central Asian republics are already integrated into the project. Afghanistan and Pakistan are still problematic, however the latter has agreed to a security forces deployment proposal along the routes that will connect the Gwadar deep-sea port to the Chinese border.
At the BRICS and SCO summit in Ufa (Russia), an agreement was signed between the leaders of Russia and China to combine the project of the Eurasian Economic Union and the New Silk Road. In 2015, no significant progress in this direction was made. In 2016, a breakthrough is quite unlikely, although there may be relatively minor changes to be discussed and coordinated by Moscow and Beijing.
As India and Pakistan entered the SCO, Beijing will be anxious about implementing ideas relating to its interests to the new organization members.
The Arctic route is another strategic direction of China. Although the country has no outlet to the cold seas, China has long been interested in the Arctic north, and has an ice research vessel. In 2012, it made its first trip to the Northern Sea Route. Beijing plans to expand the capabilities of its icebreaker fleet for the maintenance of regular transport vessels. In 2014, it announced the creation of its own icebreaker project based on Finnish models.
China's interests in the Arctic fit into the concept of One Belt, One Road Strategy (OBOR), according to them, the Indian and Arctic Ocean are the southern and northern flanks of the Eurasian land mass. Therefore, with such a position, the Pearl Necklace in the South Seas and the Arctic sea route are linked.
While the Arctic sea route is under Russian control, which rapidly creates military infrastructure there, China could join the project not only as a regular freight carrier, but also as a partner in the oil and gas domain. Russian oil and gas monopolies are lacking in investments to develop of perspective fields. It can use China, who would thus enter into a series of projects as co-managing partner and get new technological experience.
As Africa is a continent, according to the concept Halford Mackinder, it is organically linked with the Eurasian continent, and both of them are the World Island. On the African continent, China pursues a successful economic policy. At the end of 2015, it became known that Djibouti will establish a Chinese naval base, which will be the first foreign installation for China. It is obvious that the creation of such an infrastructure is related to the strategic Chinese interests, not only in the Horn of Africa on the East Coast, but also in sub-Saharan Africa. Given the loyalty to the Chinese people from the local population (since China never invaded Africa by military force), next year we should expect ongoing success for Beijing in the region.
A slight decline of the Chinese economy is foreseen in 2016. Given the global impact of China's manufacturing and services, which may relate to traditional partners in Eurasia and Africa and Latin America.
In 2016, taking advantage of the oil prices fall, China will actively enter into agreements in this area and to diversify the domestic market of the oil products processing.
In November 2015, China formally entered the currency basket of the International Monetary Fund's Special Drawing Rights (SDR) currency basket. This means that at least there will be changes in the global economic structure. The SDR are supplementary foreign exchange reserve assets, emitted by the International Monetary Fund, and has only a non-cash form in bank account records. The SDR exchange rate is published daily and is based on a basket of the four major currencies: US Dollar, Euro, Yen and Pound Sterling. Before the euro creation in 1999, the rate was pegged to the five currencies basket: US Dollar, German Mark, French Franc, Yen and Pound Sterling.
However, China entering in the SDR has not only financial, but also geopolitical changes, as China has never been and is not an US ally, unlike the other SDR members. In the future, the use of the US dollar as a world reserve currency may be an anachronism, and China with its effusive economy could significantly change the balance of forces in the foreign exchange market. It is unlikely that this will happen in the near future, as the Yuan depends on leaps in China. But government regulation and the right Beijing policies may take a stable position in the world's foreign exchange market and make the Yuan freely convertible.
Moreover, the Chinese efforts in the transition to payments in national currencies with its strategic partners are noticeable. Taking into account the sanctions experience of Russia and Iran, these countries are most likely to try to settle all the formalities to make this mechanism work as quickly as possible.
In the future, China will try to implement its own unique system of banking operations like SWIFT on a global level , which will also avoid US mediation and supervision in transactions.
China has already prepared its own system, CIPS, the China International Payments System, to provide cross-border transactions in Yuan. It was officially launched in October of 2015. CIPS uses the standardized and adopted SWIFT as the industry standard syntax for financial messages, and a number of other technical standards.
If it is efficient, it is likely that in 2016 that financial institutions from different countries that are under the US sanctions or are skeptical towards SWIFT will transfer to the Chinese payment system.
China also plays a leading role in the BRICS New Development Bank (the BRICS NDB). On July 1st 2015, China formally ratified the agreement on the BRICS bank. The headquarters of the bank is located in Shanghai. China has made the maximum contribution of $41 billion, for Brazil, Russia and India – about $18 billion each, and South Africa – $5 billion.
Although the contributions are intended to stabilize the national currency, China wants to push the BRICS NDB to cooperate with Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), initiated by China.
On the eve of the Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2017, Xí Jìnpíng will propose measures towards political consolidation and the fight against corruption. As a result of the purges, unwanted elements including the liberal wing of the Communist Party, could face repression. In China the death penalty exists, and people who have committed official and economic crimes are sentenced to death. On the one hand it will deter the officials, but on the others had, it may be criticized by the EU and the United States. However that may be, certain changes in the top and middle administrative echelons are inevitable. They may be accompanied by arrests and new scandals.
In 2016, reforms for state companies are planned too. The political process in the coming years depends on how efficiently the leadership of China will be able to solve problems arising from the transformation of power structures.
Due to the expected Chinese economy slowdown and rising unemployment in 2016, protests in the country are possible, which already occurred in 2014 and 2015. The coal industry would be especially weak, as well as cement and steel producers. It can cause political consequences as the preservation of low levels of unemployment is a Chinese Communist Party priority in recent years. The All-China Federation of Trade Unions is under the government control, which has 280 million members. The federation practically follows the party economic development plan, rather than defending the interests of trade union members, so there may be disagreements between the leadership and the masses.
China is also faced with internal separatist challenges, especially in the Tibet region and the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. On December 27th, China's highest legislative body voted for the adoption of a law against terrorist activity. It is the first anti-terrorism law, which started to be considered in 2014. It is primarily aimed at solving internal problems, but is also related to the international security.
This year, China canceled the long-term one-child policy. It was received with enthusiasm in China and aims to establish the demographic balance due to the natural aging of the population. However in domestic politics, there are still many restrictions on the Chinese citizens, which are criticized by other countries. It is clear that China will not compromise on national interests and security issues, but for pragmatic reasons may sign international treaties and commitments on “human rights” and “protection of freedoms”.
China's Military Power
In May of 2015 the State Council released the ninth White Paper on the country's military strategy, which contains the main points of the military policy.
The introduction states that "China's destiny is vitally interrelated with that of the world as a whole. A prosperous and stable world would provide China with opportunities, while China's peaceful development also offers an opportunity for the whole world. China will unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development, pursue an independent foreign policy of peace and a national defense policy that is defensive in nature, oppose hegemonism and power politics in all forms, and will never seek hegemony or expansion." This allows you to better understand the aspirations of the Chinese People's Liberation Army.
The main strategic task of Chinese Army includes:
– To respond to a variety of critical situations arising and military threats, to effectively protect national territory, territorial airspace, sovereignty and security in the territorial waters; to firmly defend the unity of the motherland;
– To protect security and interests in new areas; to protect the security interests abroad; to maintain strategic deterrence of nuclear retaliation;
– To Participate in regional and international cooperation in the security field;
– To protect peace in the region and in the world;
– To strengthen counteraction against enemy intrusions, separatism and terrorism;
– To ensure national security and social stability;
– To assist in an emergency, to protect the legitimate interests and to ensure the national security protection and public support for the national economy creation and other tasks.
It shows the international significance of the Chinese armed forces and their potential use outside the country.
According to the foreign policy concept, the development and strengthening of military cooperation with foreign countries means raising their cooperation with European countries, the development of traditionally friendly military relations with Africa, Latin America and the South Pacific. It is supposed to deepen cooperation in the field of security within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, increasing the defense ministers participation in the ASEAN forum, the ASEAN Regional Forum on Security, the Shangri-La Dialogue, the Dialogue on International Security Issues in Jakarta, the Western Pacific Naval Symposium countries, and other structures and cooperation organizations. Moreover, the Xiangshan Forum and other multilateral events seeking to focus on assistance for the establishment of a new framework for cooperation on security and maintenance of peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region are expected.
According to statistics, China increases its defense spending every year. Now the country is the second after the United States in terms of military spending by GDP. According to the SIPRI, in 2014, it was 2.1% of the GDP making up $216 billion. However, some believe that these figures are too low, and the reality of China is spending more money. It is obvious that in 2016, China is unlikely to dramatically reduce its defense spending, since according to its plan, it must continue to modernize the land, air and naval forces, as well as make a breakthrough in the space industry.
An important element is the rapid development of the Chinese Navy fleet, which is used to fight pirates in the Aden Gulf and in other troubled regions. As a part of the Pearl Necklace project, China needs to carry out its support for maritime communications. In addition, the current tensions in the South China Sea force Beijing to be ready to demonstrate their naval power. Meanwhile, the Chinese Navy uses its soft power, for example, a medical ship previously successfully carried out missions in different regions. In the near future we should expect the Chinese navy to increase in strength.
Until recently, China had only one aircraft carrier, Liaoning, of Soviet production (used since 2012). Currently they have begun the creation of their own Chinese aircraft carrier of 110,000 tons displacement. It was planned that it will be launched in 2020. But it is most probable that its creation will be accelerated.
At the end of December 2015, the South China Sea fleet received three new vessels.
Other new military-industrial complexes in China should also be expected. Deng Xiaoping's formula on military and civilian combination, peace and no peace, development of military production with support of civilian production remains relevant even for the beginning of the third millennium.
Without exception, the military-industrial corporations of China are working in the civil sphere. So the nuclear industry in China, previously released mainly military products, follows the policy of “nuclear energy use in all areas of management.” Among the main activities of the industry is the construction of nuclear power plants and wide development of isotope technology. A similar situation is in the space sector, civil aviation, automotive, etc.
At the same time, in 2016, military reforms are planned, which foresees a significant reduction in personnel, reorganization of military districts and the retirement of many officers. Beijing aims to conduct an orderly change and adaptation of former military personnel into the civilian sector.
As the first law on fighting with terrorism is adopted, China now can legally send its troops abroad. While there were speculations about Chinese special forces participating in Syria, in reality the use of certain military units could begin in 2016 in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where China has infrastructure projects.
It should also be noted that Chinese peacekeepers are now on a mission in Southern Sudan, Mali, Liberia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In September, during his speech at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly, Xi Jinping said that China is ready to join the UN new system. It shows the serious intentions of China to legally participate in peacekeeping operations around the world under the UN mandate.
It is unlikely to expect that in 2016 China will enter into an open military conflict with the United States or any regional country. Even if there is a possible escalation of the disputed islands with Japan or other countries using military force, it is likely that it would be an isolated instance, and the parties would be interested in quickly resolving the matter.
Internet and the Chinese Role
China is the originator of the sovereign Internet idea and successfully combines modern communication technology with the state ideology. The Great Chinese firewall, i.e. content filtering, became a narrative of Beijing cyber-politics. This approach shows that defining and stressing boundaries in cyberspace is not a universal norm, but depends on the civilizational identity. If Western countries, following in line with political liberalism, prefer to combine Internet freedoms with the free cyber-politics instruments (web 2.0diplomacy, virtual embassy support of the cyber-activists in other countries), the non-Western governments insist on national control over the Internet space. In other words, cyberspace is also a battleground of forces defending two different world orders: monopolarity and multipolarity.
December 16-19, the Chinese held the World Internet forum in Wuzhen. It is an alternative to the kind of events which take place in the West. It was attended by more than 10 thousand representatives of governments, international organizations, business companies and civil society. According to the forum agenda “An Interconnected World Shared and Governed by All - Building a Cyberspace Community of Shared Destiny”, the debate was concocted on the future of global Internet space.
It is clear that China will continue to work towards more strict control over the global Internet, and will insist on acquiring the rights to domain names and control over them from the ICANN company (USA), to the International Telecommunication Union under UN auspices, or to the new international structure.
In addition, technology companies will compete with American and British manufacturers of technical equipment. In 2015, China's Huawei has continued its successful expansion in the markets of many countries, offering all kinds of services and solutions in telecommunications. The following year, this trend will continue, despite the constant US criticism of global cyber-espionage by Chinese companies.
In general, China will maintain a predictable and rational policy. It may not be liked by some of the neighboring states, as well as by the traditional global players: the US and the EU. However, the policies and international ambitions of China have to be considered. Especially if one considers the fact that Beijing operates in conjunction with its traditional partners in a number of organizations, as well as within the various alliances: the SCO, BRICS, APEC, and others.
As for domestic policy, compared to the problems in other countries, the Chinese issues don’t seem to be so great as to represent an existential threat to the state or to the political system. There may be some friction and crisis situations, in which the country's leadership will actively intervene if it is necessary, using preventative force.
The term of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have provided India's foreign policy with additional sovereignty and agency. Indian politics experience gradual change, therefore this trend became more apparent in 2015. Carrying out a multi-vector policy and maintaining friendly relations with Western countries and BRICS member-states, Modi’s India continued the course of the previous government. Nevertheless, a fundamentally different ideological base suggests that this strategy is to continue.
Unlike the Indian National Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party’s orientation is based on a perspective of the historical identity of India. While most of the previous Indian leaders were secularist Indian nationalists, the current prime minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party have a different political ideology based on traditional Hindu religious identity (Hindutva).
The main ideological foundation of Modi’s Indian foreign policy places an emphasis on protection of traditional values, and opposition to western globalism. While it appears flexible and passive, it is actually stern when need be. India continues strategic cooperation with Russia and China, aimed at the construction of a multipolar world, while attempting to maintain relations with the West.
Competing with China
Another trend in 2015 was the fact that many analysts have said that China and India are currently in a Cold War. This primarily depends on Chinese political and economic interests in a traditional Indian zone of influence; Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, struggle for influence over the Maldives, unsolved territorial conflicts in the north Kashmir, northeastern Arunachal Pradesh state, and increasing Chinese influence over Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Competing with China, India has expressed its readiness to rely on Japanese support, which is certain to return to the world scene as an active player. Several strategic agreements were signed during the Japanese Prime Minister’s visit to New Delhi. The agreements included cooperation on military technology, construction of India's first high-speed railway, and nuclear power.
Nevertheless, this year’s results of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China indicate that the rumors on the Cold War between India and China are exaggerated. The visit demonstrated Chinese interest to invest in India. The two countries signed an agreement of $22 billion. Important areas of cooperation include development of renewable energy, iron and steel, and E-commerce.
Strengthening cooperation with Russia
There is no friction in India’s relations with Russia and strengthening economic and trade cooperation is a decisive priority for the political leadership of both nations. India and Russia have a long-standing historical relationship and the rapprochement of the nations will contribute to the reinforcement of Russian and Indian geopolitics. Access to India and the Indian Ocean was vital to the Russians during the 19th and 20th centuries. During this time period, traditionally referred to as “The Great Game”, the Russian and British Empires competed over control and influence over much of Central Asia. The Russian-Indian meridian geopolitical alliance derails the Atlanticist Anaconda strategy on the Eurasian Heartland. As a result, Russia may be able to gain access to the southern part of the Eurasian Rimland and a strategic area of the Indian Ocean.
India, in its turn, is focused on acquiring Russian technology, natural resources, and most importantly energy. During the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit in December 2015 to Russia, the country agreed on joint infrastructure projects of $1 billion. India has continued to buy Russian weapons, strengthening Russia’s position as India’s main weapon supplier.
The fundamental basis of defense cooperation with Russia was the transfer of Russian defense technology to India. Discussed were the prospects of joint development of multipurpose fighter and transport aircraft. Furthermore, an agreement for the production of Ka-226 helicopters in India was signed. The cooperation with Russia in this area will provide India with the opportunity to create its own military-industrial complex. Thus increasing India’s independence and encouraging economic growth.
In the context of regional policy in South Asia, India is trying to maintain its dominant position in its traditional area of influence: Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and expand it to Mauritius, the Maldives and the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, as well as to strengthen their position in ASEAN on the background of competition with China.
Modi became the first Prime Minister since 1981 who visited the Seychelles. During his visit to the Seychelles and Mauritius in March 2015, he called for the development of the Indian Ocean Rim Association, which includes the countries of Saudi Arabia, East Africa, Malaysia and Indonesia, India, Australia and Iran.
This year, India decided to invest $318 million in Sri Lanka, in addition to $1.6 billion bargained in direct investments. Both countries decided to intensify defense cooperation in the Indian Ocean.
In 2015, India continued trying to increase its influence in Afghanistan, raising direct investment in the country and assisting in a number of infrastructure projects. The most notable was the creation of a parliamentary center in Kabul, in December 2015, which Modi visited himself.
Moreover, Modi has shown a willingness to normalize relations with Pakistan. The leaders of Pakistan and India held a historic meeting within the framework of the SCO and BRICS summits in Russia. At the same time, India has become a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, in which Russia and China play the main roles. However, this meeting did not lead to significant results.
At the turn of the year, Modi made an unexpected visit to Pakistan, after visiting Moscow and Kabul. The normalization of relations with Pakistan and India's interest in the peaceful process in Afghanistan are connected to important implementation of key energy projects like the oil and gas pipelines through the country from Iran and Russia, to India.
In December 2015, Ram Madhav, BJP general secretary, at the Al Jazeera TV channel said that he hoped to create a Great India. According to him, one of the major geopolitical problems of his party is to create Akhand Bharat, or “undivided India”, which would include India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. According to the ruling party, their aim is to carry out the creation of a strategic space in South Asia. Discussions on South Asian integration can become a new trend in 2016.
Attention to Diaspora
Modi became the first prime minister to place a large emphasis of focus on the Indian diaspora. This focus is influenced by his viewpoint of India as a center of the Hindu world within the Hindutva ideology. Furthermore, popularity of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh structures in Western countries is another contributing factor. This importance of the Indian interests lobbying in the West is underestimated. The present Indian leadership deliberately utilizes the diaspora community to influence political and economic developments in their adopted nations. Moreover, the Indian leadership hopes that the diaspora can become a source of investment in the Indian economy.
Political problems at home
At the same time, Modi has faced a number of issues in domestic politics. The issues are primarily focused on the austerity measures, and the strengthening of Hindu radicalism, which causes other religious groups to react, especially Muslims, and Sikhs.
The main task in economics is the adoption of a uniform tax code for all Indian states, promoted by the opposition in the Indian parliament. Dissatisfaction of trade unions and public servants is caused by the plans of restructuring and improving the efficiency of state-owned enterprises by reducing the share of public participation and the role of private investors.
In 2015, the BJP lost the elections in the capital region of Delhi and Bihar state mostly due to neoliberal trends in its economic policies and the over-exploitation of prime minister Narendra Modi’s image. In both cases, the BJP lost to the regional political forces of the left or center-left wings. In the capital, the victory was achieved by Aam Aadmi Party, and Common Man's Party created in 2011 by India Against Corruption campaign activists. India Against Corruption in its structure, work methods and slogans was similar to the Arab Spring protest movements.
Some forecasts for India in 2016 include: the continuation of 2015 trends in 2016. India will remain multi-vector, while extending the course to build a multipolar world. Indian interest in Western technology and investment. Open conflict with the West is not expected. However, India’s strengthening position, promotion of a multipolar agenda and the increasing importance of Russian-Indian relations will possibly result in intensified efforts by the West for regime change in India.
Intensification of Russian-Indian relations
As Indian-Russian interactions intensify, Russia can help India not only to re-equip the army and navy, but also to create their own effective military-industrial complex. Moreover, only Russia with its energy resources and technologies in the nuclear energy field can help to stop the growing Indian energy-hungry.
By combining the growing industry and huge population of India with Russian technology, science, and resources, as well as with Russian military power, Putin and Modi can make this union an effective opponent of Western influence in the region and in the world.
In addition, we should expect the expansion of Indian and Russian cooperation in security and fighting against Islamic terrorism. ISIS regards India as one of its possible objectives in the coming year. India is a country with one of the largest Muslim communities in the world and can be targeted by terrorists. This threat extends to Russia as well.
Relations with China
Despite geopolitical competition with China, both countries share a common vision of the world’s future, and therefore they will make common strategic decisions affecting the future of the global system in general. Both India and China want to develop mutually beneficial economic cooperation. This trend will continue in 2016. Relations with China will remain stable, but competitive. In order to continue the fight for influence in Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bhutan, India will attempt to strengthen its position in Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Laos, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Because of competition with China, India will continue its policy of rapprochement with Japan.
Fight for Indian Ocean
India will continue to attempt to establish itself as a leading maritime power in the Indian Ocean. This is aimed at both collaboration with Russia and Japan in defense technology, as well as the interaction with regional nations.
In 2016, India will face China, as well as Saudi Arabia in an attempt to fortify its influence in the Indian Ocean. The Saudi Arabian influence includes an Islamic factor, as the majority of the population of the Maldives are Sunni Muslims.
Despite competition with China for influence over the Afghan government, both great powers are interested in resolving the inter-Afghan conflict. Therefore, along with China, India will insist on negotiations with moderate Taliban and support the destruction of ISIS units and radical Taliban. In Afghanistan, Indian interests will face US, and Gulf countries interests, which are not interested in peace for various reasons. The normalization of relations in Afghanistan raises the question of the final withdrawal of NATO troops from this key central Asian country and contributes to the implementation of key energy projects, which will tie China with Iran, India with Iran, and India with Russia. The US will try to maintain its influence in Afghanistan, and the Gulf countries, in order to maintain Indian dependence on its oil and gas supplies.
Support for Islamic radicals in Afghanistan by the US and the Gulf states is to increase, so this will have an impact directly on Indian and Pakistani security. In 2016 there is a high probability of new terrorist attacks in Pakistan and the resumption of Islamic terrorist activity in India.
The possibility of serious Indo-Pakistani conflict is unlikely. Both nations continue gradual convergence. A positive factor is the reduction of Pakistan’s dependence on the United States, and a large part of the country’s elite will support multi-polarity, as a result of the United States’ inability to offer positive development to the Islamic world. However, in view of the long-standing religious conflicts, and Chinese-Indian competition, efforts towards the creation of integration associations in South Asia will not happen. Nevertheless, this project will prompt discussions among Indian elites in view of its interests.
Threat of color revolution
In the domestic sphere Modi continues to conduct policy reform and attempts to keep radical Hindus from undermining the internal peace with the largest Muslim community in the world outside of Indonesia.
Modi’s future visits to Western countries and the Middle East will be accompanied by supportive mass demonstrations of the Indian diaspora. At the same time, the West will attempt to mobilize his opponents, both within the nation and the diaspora.
In 2016, it is very likely that the West will experiment with the possibility to organize a color revolution against Modi in India. It will use primarily the Dalits (oppressed) whose low social status together with the great quantity makes them an important resource of mass protests.
The second disruptive force could be Indian Muslims, often fearful of BJP Hindu radical violence. It is possible that terrorist attacks will be organized in order to incite religious strife within the country by terrorist organizations associated with Pakistan. Thus Modi’s opponents kill two birds with one stone: they will try to spoil relations with Pakistan, and cause strife among the religious communities in the country.
The third subversive power will consist of Western influenced networks, including tested during the anti-corruption riots of 2011 and 2012, NGOS and Protestant sects.
Economic problems, corruption, unresolved social problems will be used to organize protests in the capital, the legislature is controlled by pro-Western networks adherents having experience in organizing the protests of the color revolution type.
At the same time, the Western media and the opposition Indian media will increase the demonization of Modi, painting him as a dictator and a leader of Hindu extremists who violate religious freedom and restrain non-Hindus rights.
The West will also use internal Indian contradictions to stimulate separatist tendencies in the Punjab where the Sikhs live, as well as the interior of the main part of the country's northeastern states of Tripura, Assam, West Bengal (Gurkhas), Nagaland.
The strengthening of Hindu radicalism while the BJP authorities rule, has alarmed not only Muslims but also the Sikhs. Although in terms of the Hindutva ideology, Sikhism is an autochthonous Indian tradition, unlike Christians or Muslims, the Sikhs are not regarded as a foreign element. Nevertheless, the radical Hindus see them as strangers. It is likely that external forces will attempt to start a conflict in 2016.
Conflicts at the borders
In north-eastern India, the intensification of conflicts with separatists from Bodo and Nagais are very likely. In view of the political crisis in Nepal, which involves India and China, and the political crisis and the strengthening of the Islamists in Bangladesh, the region in the coming year could be a new focus of conflict. A predominantly Muslim country, one of the poorest in the world, can become a base for various Islamist movements, attacking India. ISIS has already made a series of terrorist attacks in Bangladesh in 2015. It is likely that India will be forced to intervene in the internal political conflicts in Nepal and Bangladesh.
In 2015, Africa continued to be the poorest and the most dangerous region of the world. In addition to the dangerous diseases and the AIDS epidemic, the region suffers from numerous civil wars, tribal and religious conflicts, accompanied by horrific acts of brutality, cannibalism, slavery of women and children, and slave trade. The sovereignty of the majority of countries is still purely nominal, large multinational corporations and foreign governments continue to fight for control over the mineral rich areas.
Strengthening Chinese Influence
2015 was marked by a continuation of the trend of a strengthening Chinese influence in the broader region. In December of 2015, Johannesburg held the China-Africa Cooperation Summit, which adopted several programs that demonstrate the trend of increasing Chinese presence in the region. The summit adopted the Johannesburg Declaration and the 2018 Plan of Implementation. The document shows in particular that China has rejected its previous strategy, based only on bilateral relations, and seeks to see the institution of its African policy of African regional integration, in particular through the African Union.
The main tasks of China in Africa include the following areas:
1. Continent industrialization prolongation. China will continue the construction of industrial parks and will assist African countries in the technicians’ trainings.
2. African agriculture development;
3. Transport infrastructure development, including roads, railways, aviation, ports, power grids and telecommunications;
4. Free trade agreements with African states;
5. Development of environmentally friendly technologies;
6. Fight against poverty in Africa;
7. Continent-wide development of medicines and medical research;
8. Development of cultural ties and cultural exchanges;
9. Debt write-off for the poorest African countries, whose payment period ends in 2015;
10. Security cooperation. China will support the establishment and operation of the African Standby Force.
What is peculiar about the Chinese approach to Africa is that the Chinese, unlike Europeans and Americans, don’t connect cooperation with the development of liberal democratic institutions, and interact even with authoritarian regimes. Another advantage of African cooperation with China is that China offers investment and implementation of infrastructure projects cheaper than their Western competitors. It also offers loans at low interest rates to countries with low credit rating, receiving in exchange an exclusive right to develop oil and other fields.
It is significant that, this year, China decided to build the first overseas naval base, and it will be situated in Africa, in Djibouti.
Horn of Africa region
In 2015, increased Chinese presence was particularly perceptible in Djibouti, a small country in eastern Africa. Despite the lack of natural resources, the country has a significant strategic importance, as it together with Yemen closes access from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean through the Bab-el-Mandeb. Djibouti already has American and French military base and a small Japanese contingent. For China, it is important to gain a foothold in the region to control the sea route linking the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean via the Red Sea and the Suez Canal.
At the China-Africa Cooperation Summit in Johannesburg, China announced the establishment of its own naval base in the East African country. The official pretext is the fight against Somali pirates, but in fact, the Chinese base in Djibouti is an important component of the fulfillment of the the Maritime Silk Road project that will connect China with West Eurasia through the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, and the Suez.
In December of 2015, after the announcement of China's plans, Djibouti faced a collision between supporters and opponents of the current President Ismail Omar Guelleh. The opposition Union for National Salvation and the United States used this incident to accuse the country's authorities of corruption and impropriety. The US urged the Djibouti leadership to respect the opposition, to allow it to hold peaceful meetings and exercise freedom of speech.
The largest country in the region, Somalia, continued to be one of the most problematic areas of Africa. There is still no unified statehood in the country. A serious problem is the local radical Islamists' expansion to other countries. In 2015, the Somali militant groups, al-Shabaab, attacked the building of the University College in the Kenyan town of Garissa, killing 147 people. The Al-Shabaab method is the use of modern network technology, music, the Internet, and resembles the ISIS style. Some leaders of the factions swore allegiance to the Islamic state.
Sudan and Eritrea in Yemen war
In 2015, Sudan continued to move towards a closer union with Saudi Arabia. Despite the persistence of anti-Western rhetoric, with the Omar Hassan al-Bashir regime managing to establish good relations with Russia and China, Sudan in fact is an ally of the main partner of the Atlanticist powers in the Islamic world, Saudi Arabia. Sudan actively participated in the Saudi intervention in Yemen. In 2015, the relations with South Sudan remained stable during the conflict. The Sudanese leaders reached an agreement with the separatists in Darfur, the region of the Blue Nile, and South Kordofan, on the six month armistice that ended in April 2016.
Eritrea supported the Gulf States in the Yemen war too, providing its airspace and territorial waters for the anti- Houthi coalition. According to some estimates, about 400 soldiers from the African country took part in the Yemeni war. Eritrea is under the UN Security Council sanctions on charges of supporting the Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia.
French West Africa
In Western Africa, one of the 2015 trends was the increase of Islamic extremism. An attack on a hotel in Mali, on November 20th, 2015, when more than 30 people were killed, was carried out by Al-Murabitun terrorists groups who had sworn allegiance to ISIS. The militants of the largest Islamist organization in the Maghreb and the Western Sahel, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and militants of the Macina Liberation Front (Islamists of the Fulani ethnic group) announced their involvement in the terrorist attack.
This year, Mali faced more than twelve terrorist attacks, besides the already mentioned organizations, the militants of the Ansar al-Din Islamist group, being active in areas populated by Tuaregs.
Extremist groups announced that their main task was the elimination of the French neo-colonialism in the region. Most of the former French colonies in West Africa are still politically and economically dependent on their former colonial master. If it is necessary, the French organization will promote coups or directly participate in them, as was the case in 2011 in Cote d'Ivoire.
In 2015, in Cote d’Ivoire, President Alassane Ouattara was re-elected for the second term; he came to power after the 2010 elections and, with the help of the armed intervention of French troops, his predecessor was overthrown. France therefore once again consolidated its control over the former colony, rich in oil and natural gas, as well as diamonds.
In the neighboring country, Burkina Faso, where in 2014 there was a coup with approval of the United States and France, in September of 2015, another attempt at a military coup took place, but it was not successful, as it was sharply criticized by France. On November 29th, the new president Kabore, a senior functionary of the former regime, was elected.
Nigeria is unstable too. In 2015, the government troops failed to prevail over the Boko Haram group. The Boko Haram militants entrenched in the north-eastern country states, capturing more than 70% of Borno state after the fight and massacre in January 2015. Terrorists seized a multinational force's military base, which would have to fight against them. In the same month, the Boko Haram militants attacked a military base in neighboring Cameroon.
The joint efforts of the armed forces of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon deployed offensive against the Boko Haram, as a result they were able to regain some of the areas previously occupied by militants. However, despite the statements made by Nigerian officials, Boko Haram managed to maintain combat capability. This year, the group made numerous terrorist attacks in Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon.
March 31, 2015, in the general elections in Nigeria, the former general Muhammadu Buhari, who has held this post from 1983 to 1985, won. Previously he came to power after a coup. In 2015, the Sunni Muslim Bukhari defeated the current Christian President Goodluck Jonathan. The elections demonstrated the existing religious division of the Nigerian nation, natural for countries based on diverse ethnic elements of former British colonial institutions. Bukhari was elected mainly by northern Muslim states, Jonathan – by the southern Christian one.
The Nigerian leadership under Bukhari consisted almost entirely of Sunni Muslims. People from the north of the country are the source of anti-Christian hostility. The Christians live in the most developed, the oil-producing southern states. The fall in oil prices seriously affected Nigerian stability as the most powerful country in the region and the largest oil-producing African country. With falling revenues, which are mostly spent on security maintenance and the fight against the Boko Haram, the redistribution of income against oil-producing areas of the north contributes to the revival of separatist tends.
Another Nigerian security issue could be the conflict between the security forces of Nigeria and the Nigerian Shiites, represented primarily by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria. On December 12th, 2015, Nigerian troops killed up to 1000 Shiites in Zaria, a northern town. On December 13th, Ibrahim Zakzaky, the Nigerian Shiite spiritual leader, was arrested. During the arrest, he was shot multiple time. His fate is unknown. One of his wives and two sons were killed.
It led to numerous peaceful Nigerian Shiite protests. Iranian authorities demanded an explanation from the country's leadership.
The Shiite community is actively engaged in proselytizing among Muslims in northern Nigeria, previously used as Iran's soft power. Moreover, the Shiite community in Nigeria became the largest in Africa (about one million people). In the north of Nigeria Saudi Arabia also seeks to extend its influence, funding the mosques and construction of Islamic centers in the country. The United States actively opposed the strengthening of Iranian influence in Nigeria.
In December 2015, President Buhari entered the Saudi coalition against terrorism which rather is directed against the pro-Iranian Shiite movements than the Wahhabi radicals. The Shiite massacre followed these events. Now we can expect a serious confrontation of Nigeria and Iran, and the opening of the African Front in the Saudi-Iranian confrontation.
Democratic Republic of Congo
A stagnant conflict in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo continued to be one of the factors that destabilizes the situation in Africa. In 2015, the action of the central government against the rebels in the region continued. In 2013 the DRC Government led a military action against the rebel Tutsis in the North Kivu province, supported from Rwanda, and then in 2015 it took measures against the Hutu rebel groups in South Kivu. In addition to the repercussions of the conflict between Tutsis and Hutus, which was accompanied by genocide on both sides throughout the second half of the 20th century, the conflict in eastern Congo has an economic influence; the region has significant reserves of gold, tin and tantalum.
The eastern part of the Republic of the Congo (the Kivu region) is the farthest from the capital, Kinshasa, and has direct borders with Rwanda and Burundi, being geographically and ethnically like these two countries, and a part of the Great Lakes region.
Since 1996, the long-term civil war, with varying intensity, transformed the eastern part of the Congo territory, ruled by military forces, where the risk of a new large-scale conflict always exists. Cannibalism, mass murder and rape became a part of daily life in the country. The world's largest UN peacekeepers contingent (22.000 people) can’t normalize the situation.
In the neighboring East African country, Burundi, the 2015 year was marked by destabilization of the country, which led the African Union to introduce a peacekeeping contingent to the country in December 2015. Despite the small size, the destabilized relations in Burundi can cause a chain reaction in neighboring Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as it was after the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda, which became the trigger of the second Congo (African World) War.
In April 2015, it that the decision of incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza to run for the third time for the presidency, was announced. In response, the opposition organized mass protests in the capital, Bujumbura. May 13th-18th, 2015, there was a coup attempt against the president, which failed. The June 21st elections, which opposition candidates boycotted, were held. A number of Nkurunziza officials left the country for Belgium, accusing their former ally of usurping power. Before and after the elections, the country faced mass protests, reminiscent of the Color Revolutions, and a number of opposition activists and followers of the president were killed. The protesters were supported by the US Embassy. Taking active part in protests, the students of Burundi University camped next to the American Embassy, hoping that the USA will protect them. After the election, in the northern part of the country, the neighboring pro-American Rwanda rebels conducted raids.
On December 11th, 2015б the rebels attacked the capital, and killed more than 87 people. After the raid, the African Union announced plans to deploy a peacekeeping mission in Burundi. In response, the leadership announced that it will regard the peacekeeper's mission on its territory as aggression. The opposition forces announced the creation of a military group , the Republican Forces of Burundi.
The conflict in Burundi has obvious traits of the Color Revolution, which are traditionally used to overthrow a regime that the United States dislikes. Despite the fact that the economy of Burundi is now largely dependent on the coffee export, the country has natural resources that are of interest to foreign actors. This is primarily nickel fields (Burundi is the 10th world country in this domain), the current government intends to attract China to develop it.
China plans to build a railway to link Burundi with Indian Ocean ports in Tanzania. The project allows for Chinese expansion in the DRC, as the country is close to Burundi.
The possible Chinese expansion in the region forces the US and its allies, that supports the opponents of the current regime, to take measures.
The African Union is interested in preventing a civil war in the country and in maintaining in Burundi a 5000 strong contingent in the AU peacekeeping mission in Somalia, and therefore is ready to occupy Burundi in order to prevent the conflict from spreading, and will use troops in the most important region of the Horn of Africa.
The question of humanitarian intervention under the UN flag is raised repeatedly in the Security Council, but China, with Russian support, strongly opposes it, calling it a violation of Burundi's sovereignty.
Conflict in Central African Republic
In 2015, the interim government of the Central African Republic postponed the general election several times. This move was aimed at ending the ongoing civil war between groups of Christians and Muslims.
On December 30th, 2015, the Central African Republic hosted the first round of presidential and parliamentary elections. The former French colony de facto ceased to exist as a unified and independent state. There is a relentless civil war between the Christian and Muslim groups, who control most of the CAR.
The current civil war in the Central African Republic began with Selek Muslim group's campaign in the capital, Bamako, in December of 2012. The Muslims, with the support of coreligionists from the neighboring Republic of Chad, seized power in the country and immediately started a terror campaign against Christians. In turn, they created an armed resistance, Anti-Balaka (anti-machete), and began to massacre the Muslim population. The religious conflict between these groups which belong to both of the world's largest religions continues, despite the previously signed armistice agreement. The war is accompanied by acts of cannibalism and civilians massacres on both sides.
The elections were repeatedly postponed since February 2015, because the interim government, established under the UN mediation with the participation of France and the AU, could not provide the minimal safety and logistics to carry them out, for example, the printing of ballots and their delivery to polling stations.
There are troops of the African Union and France in the country which, nevertheless, cannot stop the violence in the country.
The Central African Republic is important to the world powers as a source of minerals: uranium, diamonds, gold and oil. Traditionally, the country was under total control of its former colonial country, France. One of the reasons why France didn’t oppose the coup in 2012 was the plans of previous government to allow the CAR's oil and uranium deposits to be developed by China and South Africa. The United States tries to participate in the conflict resolution because it is interested in oil development. The US as well as France seeks to contain China's expansion into Central Africa. China can’t strengthen its position in the CAR with the ongoing massacre.
Despite the elections, the situation in the country is not peaceful, any different system of government actually does not work. There are no effective control mechanisms. The power of the central government does not extend beyond a few Bamako blocks. In many parts of the capital, the real power is in the hands of militia leaders.
The 2015 year brought instability in South Africa. The country faced two challenges: the growing number of migrants from other African countries, which caused riots, and the first attempts at organizing a color revolution against the President Jacob Zuma. South Africa is a BRICS member that challenges the US hegemony and its allies by offering a multi-polar alternative. In addition, South Africa is the most important conduit of Chinese influence in Africa. Not surprisingly, the US did not abandon their attempts to change the country's leadership to a more pro-American one.
In February 2015, riots broke out in the country, unsatisfied with the influx of immigrants into the country. Between 2006 and 2012, South Africa was the first in the world in numbers of applications for asylum. In April the riots repeated. Then Goodluck Zwelithini, the king of the Zulu tribe, called for a cleansing of the country from foreigners.
In October 2015, students protests started in the country. The formal reason for these was the increase of tuition fees. However, the protesters themselves declared their dissatisfaction with the Zuma regime and the fact that there is still inequality between blacks and whites, as well as between the majority black population and the new black elite, related to the ruling African National Congress. These are the largest protests in South Africa since the end of apartheid.
At the same time, last year, the opposition put forward new claims to the current president, accusing him of spending more than $20 million from the state budget to repair his own villa. Under the slogan of fighting against corruption, on September 30th, 2015, large-scale protests were organized in all cities of the country. South Africa's leading trade union, the National Union of Metalworkers, took an active part in the demonstrations, previously calling to changes to the country's government. The Democracy Works Project, funded by the American NED Foundation, was involved in it. An intelligence program, this and other protest movements in South Africa was the work of the left-liberal SWOP Institute (the Society, Work and Development Institute, originally the Sociology of Work Project) at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, working closely with Gene Sharp’s American Institute of Albert Einstein, the main developer of color revolution technologies.
Besides promoting the anti-corruption and anti-governmental slogans, the protesters pushed for the abandonment of the nuclear power plants construction, a large-scale project, the implementation of which can establish South Africa's energy independence.Forecast for 2016
In 2016, sub-Saharan geopolitics will be determined by the following trends combined: the fight between the US and China for influence on the continent, France's push to maintain its sphere of influence in West Africa, the expansion of Islamist groups and terrorist activities in the Sahel, from the Horn of Africa to Nigeria, opening a new front for Iranian-Saudi confrontation in Nigeria, reanimation of longstanding ethnic and religious conflicts, American and British attempts to carry out a Color Revolution in South Africa.
Fight for Sudan and Eritrea between China and Wahhabi Gulf monarchies
China will continue to strengthen its position in the region. China remains the main ally of South Africa. The implementation of previously signed contracts and the provisions of the 2018 Johannesburg Plan of Implementation will face a number of difficulties primarily because of the US opposition, the old centers of influence in the former imperial countries (France and the UK), as well as Saudi Arabia competition in the Muslim countries.
China and the Gulf countries will start the fight for Sudan and Eritrea. These countries leaders cannot balance between two poles under the increasing confrontation between the United States and the Gulf, on the one hand, and Russia, Iran and China, on the other. The Saudis and their allies will do everything possible to push China out from the region neighboring the Arabian Peninsula. Sudan will continue to participate in the Saudi intervention in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia cannot cope with this task alone due to the continued drop in oil prices, and the difficulties with the country's budget. On the other hand, Qatar can take advantage of this struggle, first in alliance with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and then on its own, to weaken China's position.
On the one hand, the Qatari economy does not depend on oil and gas prices which can fluctuate. Therefore, Qatar won’t have the budget difficulties that its allies and rivals of the Gulf Cooperation Council will face inevitably next year. On the other hand, other Gulf countries as well as Qatar are interested in control over Sudan and the Arabic-speaking Red Sea coast, especially the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. This involves active operations in Eritrea, as well as anti-China provocations in Djibouti.
Conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and in Djibouti
It is likely that, in order to undermine Chinese influence in Eritrea and prevent the Chinese project completion in Ethiopia in the future, the Wahhabi monarchy may start another Ethiopian-Eritrean conflict, where Somali Islamists could participate too. The conflict between the predominantly Christian Ethiopia and Muslim Eritrea will take place in the eastern part of Ethiopia, where related Somali Muslim tribes live.
Moreover, the conflict in Djibouti is expected to continue, and the US, organizing riots against the authoritarian leadership, as well as Qatar, supporting Islamist control over the Djibouti and Eritrea border, will oppose China. It should be remembered that Qatar under a UN mandate monitors the borders of both countries.
Relative conflict normalization in Sudan
Sudan will try to improve relations with Saudi Arabia to restore ties with the West, using the rebel movements in Darfur, the Blue Nile region, South Kordofan, to weaken the country. After the separation of South Sudan in 2011, the new state has all the Sudanese oil fields, and energy transportation ways remain in North Sudan; both countries are in conflict over the transit, which is also successfully used by the Atlanticists.
In April 2016, the six-month armistice between the government of Sudan and separatists of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement came to an end. It is expected that the negotiations will continue, although there might be outbreaks of violence on both sides.
Somalia will not be able to overcome the ongoing civil war. The Transitional Federal Parliament mandate expires in 2016. However, the elections cannot be carried out in the country. Either way, the results will not have any influence on the future of the country
In 2016, the Somali al-Shabaab group will not be defeated. The extremists who declared their allegiance to the Islamic State organization, retain their influence and try to move the terrorist activity into Ethiopia and Kenya.
The Islamic extremists and Gulf countries supporting them will continue to fight for the creation of continuous line of the radical Islamists control in form Sahel to Eritrea in the east, from Mauritania in the west. Eritrea and North Sudan are almost entirely controlled by the Gulf monarchies. In Chad, Niger and Mali, the Islamist militants are active, especially Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, as well as groups loyal to the Islamic state. Usually, most of the population in these countries is Muslim. Unlike countries in North Africa, except Libya, the Sahel state structures are very weak. The ethnic composition in the countries is very complex, most of them have a disadvantaged ethnic group ready to perform under the flag of extremists. The largest of them are the Tuaregs, warriors who live in Sahel, but are second-class citizens in all countries, except Mauritania. The continuing desertification in the region, creates serious socio-economic difficulties and fighting between ethnic and tribal groups over land. Radical Islamists can use all these factors to intensify their activities in the region in 2016.
The ongoing destabilization in Libya serves a catalyst for Islamists in the region. We should expect Islamist attacks in Mali and Chad. In Mali, the separatist moves are possible in the northern part of the country, populated by the Tuaregs.
Nigeria: War on Three Fronts
In Nigeria, the President Bukhari said to hold anti-corruption purges. Under the guise of fighting corruption, the elites of the state removed most of the southern Christian groups. The population will feel noticeable changes in Islamicized Nigeria and the growing influence of Saudi Arabia. These measures will not undermine the Boko Haram group in northern states, but will strengthen separatist tends in the southern Christian states, which produces the main source of Nigerian elite's wealth, the oil. In the southern part of the country it is expected that the separatist movements will have a resurgence: the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, and the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta.
The December massacre of the Nigerian Shiites will not remain unpunished for the Nigerian leadership. The Shiites will support Iran, and Iran itself will join the global oil market and thus it will hit the Nigeria economy. As a result, because of the fall of tax revenue, the Nigerian leadership will face opposition from other elites now out of power ( in a fight against corruption), armed resistance of the Boko Haram, the Nigerian Shiites in the north, and Christian separatism in the south.
The largest oil-producing and oil-dependent country in Africa will have to focus on internal problems of the country, losing to its main competitor on the continent, South Africa, within the framework of the African Union.
The Coup d’Etat and the DRC Conflict
In 2016, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is expected to hold presidential elections. The current President Joseph Kabila has been at the head of the country since 2001, and according the current constitution, he cannot run for a new term. To do this, the Constitution should be amended. Kabila will likely take this step, which will cause the opposition to negatively react, and may result in a coup attempt and a rebellion in eastern Congo.
Kabila came to power after the assassination of his father, the former president and influential commander from the Second Congo War. His rise to power has not yet brought the rival factions into any type of agreement or consensus around the issues, and has not yet resolved the conflict in the eastern part of the country. Opponents and competitors can come out ahead from the problems surrounding any unconstitutional third term, and move Kabila aside by way of force.
Conflict in Burundi
The escalation of the conflict in eastern DRC will be affected by the destabilization of the situation in Burundi, which will continue in 2016. In both cases, if the African Union occupied the country, and if the organization which, according to Article 8 of its Charter, can introduce troops into African countries without the permission of the sovereign leadership in emergency, the armed conflict in Burundi is inevitable. In the first case, the regime is ready to resist the AU military invasion, in the second one, a civil war will start between the forces of President Pierre Nkurunziza and opposition groups.
The most preferred outcome for the African Union would be a military deployment until the conflict in Burundi leads to an escalation of tension in the whole Great Lakes region, and results in an appearance of UN peacekeepers.
Conflict in Central African Republic
The conflict in the Central African Republic will not stop, despite the election of the president and parliament. Their results will cause dissatisfaction among the losers who will continue their armed resistance.
A likely consequence will be more activity from the French and other foreign actors, with warlords and faction leaders who have command of groups in the field. The lack of a unified state will place power into the hands of foreign monopolies, which in these conditions will reduce the costs associated with doing business, and through the use of bribery and private military companies, they will augment their own ability, especially in the case of France, to dictate their terms.
A change of successors
Two African countries are likely to face destabilization and serious threats of coups, as a result of the possible death of permanent authoritarian leaders. Built a dictatorial system of government does not imply a direct inheritance, and even if there is a successor, the struggle for power after the death of the head of state is quite possible.
In Equatorial Guinea, this year may be the last for Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the African leader who has been in power for a long time. He stands at the head of the country since 1979, coming into power after a coup, killing the previous dictator, his own uncle. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has cancer in the terminal stage. After his death, the struggle for power among his sons and relatives is likely to start.
A colleague of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is the oldest leader on the African continent. He is 91 years old, and he has no official successor. In 2015, Zimbabwe faced riots. Most likely, after the death of Mugabe, the country will be forced to redistribute power, with neighboring nations interfering, especially South Africa.
Color Revolution Attempt in South Africa
In the most developed Sub-Saharan African country, the pro-Western powers will attempt to overthrow the current president, Jacob Zuma. Zuma follows an independent policy from the West, trying to turn South Africa into one of the centers of the developing multi-polar world order. South Africa pays cooperates very heavily with other BRICS member-states, especially with China and Russia. In the case of color revolutions, attempts against other leaders of BRICS countries, such as the events of 2011 in Russia and of 2014 in Brazil, the pro-Western opposition uses accusations of authoritarianism and corruption. In particular there are some similarities with the protests in Brazil, as both Brazil and South Africa faced mainly protests of the trade unions and the students.
The protests will continue in 2016, even stronger. There are chances, that intentional provocations against Zuma will be used: dispersal of demonstrations, strikes, workers protests. Even racial tensions, and native South Africans citizen discontent with migrants from other African countries will be used.
The most likely method to remove Zuma from power is a coup from within the ruling party, the African National Congress, with mass protests in the country. Similarly, in 2008, Zuma’s predecessor, President Thabo Mbeki resigned after the ANC refused to support him.
The most likely candidate for the sixth presidency of South Africa, is the pro-Western vice president of South Africa and ANC vice-chairman Kgalema Motlanthe. During the demonstrations against Jacob Zuma in 2015, he visited the US, where among other meetings, he went to the Bush-connected World Affairs Council in Houston, leading multinational corporations in Europe, the US and the Middle East, to discuss the globalist plans for South Africa.
South-Eastern Asia and Pacific
The big choice: US or China?
In 2015, Australia and Oceania, as well as South-East Asia, were still influenced by the processes specific to the Asia-Pacific region. Two major forces, US and China, are fighting for influence in this part of the world. After the finalization of forming of a multipolar world, Beijing and Washington will be the main centers of attraction for the region.
One of the most important events for the region in 2015 was the agreement on the establishment of a new economic association - the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In fact - it is nothing but a continuation of the expansionary economic policy of Washington, seeking by all means to stop the points of economic growth that have the potential of going out of the control of the hegemon. This transnational elite does not take into account the position of US producers who can not compete with the fast-growing Asia-Pacific countries that have tremendous human resources and growing technical potential. TPP supposes gradual reduction or elimination of duties and other barriers to the movement of goods, services and capital. The agreement involves Australia, Brunei, Vietnam, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, the United States, Singapore, Chile and Japan. Interest to join the TPP has been shown by Indonesia and South Korea. In this case the signing of a formal agreement will be a further step towards the erosion of borders and globalization, which is one of the main goals of the liberal elite.
Elections in Singapore: the success of the Conservatives
In 2015, Singapore held important elections. The state that for decades has been showing excellent dynamics of economic growth, has shown itself as a stable society: the party "People's action", created by Lee Kuan Yew, who has spearheaded the creation of a modern state, won 83 of the 89 seats in parliament. At the moment, the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, is the eldest son of Lee Kuan Yu. The leading opposition party that adheres to the liberal ideology has received the remaining 6 seats. In other words, the Singapore people demonstrated unanimity in commitment to traditional values laid down by the founders of the modern state.
Elections in Myanmar: the victory of the liberals
Elections in Myanmar, by contrast, showed the opposite trend to Singapore: the parliamentary elections were won by the "National League for Democracy." While this does not mean immediate removal from power of the military leadership, trend for gradual change of regime in the country is obvious.
Myanmar is bordering both with India and China and has its own exit to the Indian Ocean, essential for many players, primarily the United States. The defeat of the conservative "Union for Solidarity and Development" in the elections may indicate the activation of the pro-American forces and US special services in this area.
On the other hand, the leader of the "National League for Democracy," Aung San Suu Kyi, shortly before the election, visited China and met with the political leadership of the country. Given the difficult Sino-Myanmar relations in recent years, many analysts do not rule out that Beijing also supported the opposition party in opposition to Myanmar's ruling military junta.
At the regional competition between India and China, Myanmar has chosen Delhi as a priority focus. In 2013, India had provided a loan to Myanmar for 500 million dollars. In 2016 the construction of the transport corridor will be completed, which will connect India and Thailand through Myanmar.
To a large extent the development of events in the countries in the region as a whole depends on China. The Indo-Chinese conflict can be used by extra-regional forces to weaken the multipolar alternative to a unipolar American hegemony. The political turn of Myanmar could trigger an escalation of instability in the region, where the main beneficiary of this will be transnational liberal elites who are interested in the destabilization of the poles of a multipolar world (in this case - India and China).
The militarization of the region
Vietnam has received six Russian submarines of "Kilo"-class. In addition, Hanoi, in 2015, made a number of statements about the intention to develop their military, particularly naval cooperation with Washington. Another regional player, Indonesia, also said that in the near future it plans to acquire some Russian-made submarines in order to strengthen its military presence. The leadership of Thailand also voiced similar intentions. In addition, major regional players such as Australia and Japan also have increased their military budgets.
To a large extent this is due to the unresolved conflict concerning the ownership of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. The erection of Chinese military infrastructure is pushing the region toward a closer union with the United States.
Japan: militarization and nationalism
Last year Tokyo continued the line of military cooperation with the United States. In 2015, a new agreement on military alliance between Japan and the United States was signed (in fact the first major change in the treaty of 1960, signed by Nobusuke Kishi - grandfather of the current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe), for which Japan had the right to defend regional allies, who were attacked. Through such a formulation the Japanese defense system will be able to intercept missiles fired at the United States. Obviously, a potential opponent in this scenario is North Korea, and possibly China. Importantly, the Japanese parliament approved an agreement that in fact means a revision of the military doctrine of the state. In the summer of 2015, appropriate amendments to the legislation of the country were approved by Parliament. Before, Tokyo could only defend itself, responding to aggression from outside. Now, military forces can be used to protect their "allies". In addition, the Japanese government decided to intensify the participation in peacekeeping operations around the world. Also in 2015, a record high defense budget (42.1 billion. dollars) was approved. The southern borders have also been strengthened as Tokyo has territorial disputes with Beijing in this region. Also, construction of the submarine type "Soryu" - one of the largest in the world – continued.
Many circles of the population have negatively received the militarization of the country. According to opinion polls the majority of the inhabitants of the islands of Japan are opposed to this decision. One of the driving forces behind the protest was the student structure SEALD (Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy). It is significant that a number of features formed during the demonstrations of the protest movement - support for young people, ultra-liberal rhetoric, accusations of Abe's nationalism, shifting attention to the dangers of the Japanese armed forces in the interests of the United States on blurred "pacifism". The widespread use of clichés and methods specific for of color revolutions in other regions of the world indicates that the Atlanticists are trying to control the situation in the country, including with the help of protest movements.
Atlantisists have blackmailed Abe, who at some point may become too independent, with threats of a color revolution.
Radical Islam in Indonesia and the Philippines
Indonesia and the Philippines have continued to struggle against groups of Islamic extremists hiding in the jungle of the islands. Of particular importance is the growing influence of Islamic radicalism in Indonesia, the largest Islamic country in the world. We should recall that in 2014, Indonesia was the only country in the world outside the self-proclaimed Caliphate, which had open demonstrations in support of ISIS. Indonesian militants have made a number of statements in the past year. The activities of the Indonesian security services show that they are afraid of serious terrorist attacks under the banner of the ISIS in the coming year.
In 2015, countries of the region faced a migration crisis related to the relocation of tens of thousands of ethnic Rohingya people from Myanmar and Bangladesh. These Muslims are second-class citizens in Buddhist Myanmar, and try to move to other countries, especially to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines. It is expected that in the first few months of 2015 illegal carriers transported more than 25 thousand Rohingya. The exact number of migrants that have moved in 2015 is unknown. Over 32,000 Rohingya arrived in Bangladesh; local authorities have decided to settle them on a remote island. Several hundred drowned in the Molluca Strait and Andaman Sea.
The arrival of foreigners has caused a mass protest from local people and helps to destabilize the situation in the countries of Southeast Asia. As in Europe, the United States insists on taking refugee by the countries of the region, but most states refuse to do so.
Australia in 2015 continued the policy of "stop the boats” with migrants, mostly from countries of Oceania and Southeast Asia. They were caught near the Australian coast and sent to special camps in neighboring countries, primarily in Papua New Guinea.
Australia is a key state in the southern part of the Asia-Pacific region. As part of the Anglo-Saxon world, this state is certainly an ally of the United States and holds a pro-American policy on all major issues, in 2015 this trend continued. It signed a major trade agreement with Japan, which reduces import duties on high-tech products. Tokyo, for its part, did the same for the Australian agricultural products. In addition, Canberra marked efforts to intensify trade relations with China, but the pressure from Washington and the bias of most media outlets did not allow the development of this trend. In the summer of 2015, the leadership of Australia announced plans to develop and strengthen their Navy and Air Force. In particular, it was announced that the program of construction of new warships would be started soon. The military budget of the country increased to 32 billion dollars. Many members of the army leadership of Australia, with the help of the media, have made a number of statements that highlight the opinion that the Australian army needs a numerical increase in personnel and the modernization of weapons.
In 2015, a trend of weakening ties between Australia and its neighbor New Zealand, on the one hand, and Britain on the other appeared. On September 15, 2015 Malcolm Turnbull became the new Australian Prime Minister. He replaced Tony Abbott on the post of Liberal Party leader. Abbot was known for his radical anti-Russian stance. The current leadership of Australia is more restrained in statements, while generally holding the same policy.
Unlike Abbott, a supporter of constitutional monarchy (the formal head of state is still the Queen of England), Turnbull in the past was known as a supporter of the transformation of Australia into a republic, although this does not mean an immediate implementation of its plans.
In 2015 New Zealand began the process of changing the flag of the country. In a referendum in November-December 2015, an alternative to a flag where the upper left part displays the flag of Great Britain was chosen. It is expected that in 2016 the inhabitants of the country will have to choose between the British colonial flag with symbols and signs, and a flag without indication of the country's membership of the former British Empire.Forecast for 2016
The dichotomy of China-US
This year the region felt even more the affection by the growing contradictions between Washington and Beijing. Despite the fact that the Chinese leadership, in light of the weakening economy, is unlikely to take drastic steps in the current year, it will continue to strengthen its positions in Southeast Asia and in Australia and Oceania. This process will meet resistance from Washington, who considers the region one of the keys to keeping the status of the hegemon. States involved in this multi-level confrontation between the two superpowers will find it more difficult to maneuver and maintain the appearance of neutrality. The formation of a multipolar world will continue to grow and, therefore, countries in the region will need to choose which pole of power they consider a priority.
The militarization of the region
The growth of military budgets of key regional players, continued confrontation between Beijing and Washington, as well as the strengthening of militarist sentiment in Japan, promotes military spending in 2016. Many regional conflicts will also contribute to strengthening the militarist sentiment in the countries of the region. It is important to note that the vast majority of states do not have the necessary production base for the creation of modern types of weapons. So in 2016 the region will see increased competition between leading weapons producers, primarily the US and Russia for the right to arm one country or another.
Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank
In January 2016, the first meeting of the Board of Governors of the Asian Infrastructure Investments Bank will take place. It is designed to be an alternative to the International Monetary Fund. China, Russia and India are the three largest shareholders of the new financial institution. In fact, this event will signal real steps to the deconstruction of the financial hegemony of the West. The vast majority of regional players also participated in the creation of AIIB, and therefore the financial realities of these countries will change in the first place. This will mean a new round of formation of a multipolar world.
Strengthening of radical Islamism
The trend for the strengthening of radical Islamist organizations will continue. First of all we are talking about the branches of ISIS. We should expect terrorist attacks in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Australia.
The migration crisis will continue. The problem with Rohingya is not solved, and will add to the new wave of immigrants. This will cause a nationalist backlash primarily in non-Muslim countries, such as Thailand, where Muslim immigrants, mainly Uighurs, are already threatening the country's security. In particular, Uighurs conducted terrorist attacks in Bangkok on August 18, 2015.
The Republican trend in Australia and New Zealand
Australia and New Zealand will continue the policy of distancing from the United Kingdom. New Zealand in 2016 finally will remove the Union Jack national flag. Australia will reduce the activity within the British Commonwealth of Nations, focusing instead on maneuvering between the US and China. It is likely that for the first time in a long time the question on the form of government in Australia will be raised once again.
Degradation of hegemony
In 2015, the United States demonstrated an increasing inability to offer a global scenario of a world order. In contrast to the mid 20th century, the current political elites are unable to offer any project, either within the state or in the international arena. Many signs point to the dismay of Washington and a significant narrowing of the horizon of their plans. Only immediate problems are solved. All their efforts are thrown out to save their weakening hegemony by exporting chaos. The US still has sufficient military, economic and political power to destroy any alternative projects. However, the crisis of the liberal model and the ideological deadlock of the West led by Washington, clearly shows the inability to offer a new global project.
Delaying the final crisis
The decay of hegemony is not an event, it can be called a process or tendency. In 2015, this process accelerated. This is evidenced by the increasing chaotization of the world system. Conflicts that began in previous years have not been resolved, while new ones appeared and solutions are also unlikely to be found in the current coordinate system. A clear example in this case is the growing instability in the Middle East, which began with the events of the "Arab Spring" and developed into a full-scale war in the region, drawing in more states to it. It is important to understand that most conflicts in the region have been created or provoked by the United States and their satellites in order to destabilize the situation.
New sources of instability
Last year, the geography of instability expanded to Europe. EU countries, which are totally controlled by Washington elites, found themselves in a situation where they were forced to accept millions of refugees from the Middle East. Often under the guise of normal or peaceful people, terrorists who are ready at any time to begin a campaign of violence against the local people penetrated into the EU. As an example: the events of November 13th in France. The discontent of the local population with the influx of migrants on the one hand, and the aggressive behavior of the refugees on the other hand (whose motivations had varied aspects), eventually led to a significant polarization of society and the growth of instability in the region. It is important to stress that the reason for this is primarily a conscious policy of Washington, aimed at further chaotization of the global system for the purpose of preserving its hegemony indefinitely.
Relations with the European Union
Washington's relations with the European Union in 2015 did not change their trajectory, but some aspects have become strongly marked. The migration crisis in Europe, triggered by the US elite who tacitly approved of it, significantly complicates the already tense social and political situation in Europe. Most of all this is reflected in Germany, the engine of present-day Europe. In general, relations on the political and economic levels are not very different from previous years: any policy decision can only be accepted by Europeans with consultation and pressure from the US side.
In October 2015, the United States, Japan and 10 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region reached an agreement on the establishment of a new economic association - the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP), which is essentially a continuation of the expansionary economic policy of Washington, seeking any means to stop points of economic growth that have the potential to get out of the control of the hegemon. At the same time this will significantly affect manufacturers in the United States, which can not compete with the fast-growing Asia-Pacific countries that have tremendous human resources and growing technical potential. Part of the TTP is supposed to gradually reduce or eliminate duties and other barriers to the movement of goods, services and capital. The agreement involves Australia, Brunei, Vietnam, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, the United States, Singapore, Chile, and Japan. An interest in joining the TTP has been shown by Indonesia and South Korea. It turns out that the signing of a formal agreement will be a further step towards the erosion of borders and deeper globalization, which is one of the main goals of the liberal elite.
Against the background of the degradation of the political elites, who are supporters of the dying hegemony, there can be seen a growing disillusionment of average Americans with the current domestic and foreign policy as well as liberal values in general. Domestic disillusionment with American society and dissatisfaction with the course of the globalist elites are identified in the works of researchers like Patrick Buchanan, but in 2015 this process came to a qualitatively new level. The epitome of this phenomenon has become the figure of Donald Trump - the US presidential candidate who, to the surprise of many experts, has shown excellent results during the race so far.
Middle Americans against liberal elites
Being a dollar billionaire, and therefore not depending on financial support for his election campaign, and not belonging to powerful globalist groups like the CFR and the neocons, Donald Trump is a spokesman for the so-called "Middle Americans" - the American middle-class, typically from the smaller conservative towns and suburbs in the heartland of the country, holding onto its traditional values. In fact, Trump is an engine of the US anti-hegemony. Against the background of the degradation of the elites who led the country during the 20th and beginning of 21st centuries , the same middle class, dissatisfied with the domestic and foreign policies of Washington and liberal elites, is rising. This force is the expression of the idea of multipolarity in the United States and will be leading the North-American pole of power when multipolarity is finalized.Forecast for 2016
Failures in domestic and foreign policy
President Obama, who is finishing his second term, will not have an affect on the process of decomposition of US hegemony. The discontent of the population in the country will be stimulated by growing problems in the social and economic spheres, while in the international arena the US will continue to lose its standing against the strengthening centers of the multipolar world, primarily the BRICS countries. 2016 сan be a possible turning point in the conflicts in Yemen and Syria. It would have a negative impact on the position of the United States as a hegemonic power. The strengthening of Russia as a military power as well as China and India as economic leaders, will also affect the position of Washington. The final collapse of Ukraine is also possible, it could deprive the US of strong leverage on Moscow and the EU.
The new president
The main political event of 2016 will be the presidential elections. Despite the growing popularity of Donald Trump and the crystallization of a new political force in the country, with high probability the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is going to win. The mechanisms to achieve this goal can be varied. Most likely, the political forces are going to consolidate all of their information resources (in the United States the vast majority of the media is in the hands of liberals and globalists), in order to discredit Donald Trump in the eyes of the public before the election. As a result, Hillary Clinton will win in a "no-alternative" election and become the first female president of the United States. She will continue representing the interests of the liberal transnational elite, hence the United States will continue to act in the same manner in which they acted in 2015.
The continuity of the course
In foreign policy, The United States will continue to pursue further chaotization of the world system. Conflicts that emerged earlier will not be solved, and will continue to evolve. New regions and states will be drawn in the zone of instability. With high probability, there will be various crises and conflicts in Europe and Central Asia. Within the US, there will be a continuation of the process of erosion of society, destruction of traditions and promotion of the liberal agenda. The aim of the actions of elites in both directions will be to maintain hegemony. Their opponents will be the poles of a multipolar world globally and "Middle Americans" inside the country.
Middle class against global elite
The actions of the political elites in the United States will lead to growing discontent among ordinary Americans, who are the core of the society and the holders of traditional US values. Despite the likely defeat of Donald Trump and his supporters in the presidential election in 2016, we can forecast the strengthening and crystallization of the middle class as a real political force in the country. This process will be triggered by regular attempts by the authorities to attack the rights and freedoms, such as the right to bear arms (the 2nd Amendment), freedom of speech and conscience. Another important factor will be the increased pressure on religious (mainly Christian) groups and traditional values such as marriage and the family. The reluctance of the overwhelming majority of "Middle Americans" to be built into the system proposed by the elites, will eventually lead to the complete destruction of the vertical links in a society that is on verge of a deep political crisis. The middle class of the US will be the leading force in the North American pole of the multipolar world.
The main global trend for 2016 will be the weakening of US hegemony against the strengthening of the crisis in the entire world system. The changing of the old unipolar model to a multipolar one will not happen in the immediate future. This complex process will be preceded by increased instability in the world, regional power struggles for zones of influence, with new wars and conflicts.
The United States will face its major challenges in the Middle East, especially in Syria, which will remain at the center of global politics in 2016. It is the Middle East and the whole Islamic world that will be the greatest conflict zone, where the overlapping of global and regional conflicts, such as the struggle between the US and its allies and the BRICS bloc and Iran, Saudi-Iranian and even Sunni-Shiite conflict, will lead to a global Inter-Islamic civil war (fitna), the formation of new global political network subjects, and the combining of tribalism, premodern, national and transnational postmodern changes (ISIS). Global Islamic terrorism will show itself once again, but this time, under the ISIS flag. As a rule, its actions will match the global goal of the United States to strengthen the chaos in the global system.
Trying to preserve its own hegemony, the United States will continue to implement its strategy of controlled chaos. The most likely candidates for destabilization are the Middle East, the peripheral zone of Eurasian Rimland (the Balkans, Ukraine, North Caucasus and Transcaucasia, Central Asia, Afghanistan and Pakistan), Brazil, India and South Africa. The last three countries are most likely to face color revolution strategies with the armed activity of paramilitary groups.
China, despite increased competition from the US, expects less difficulty than the other BRICS countries. This is largely due to the stability of the Chinese state system. The United States will try to use the Indo-Chinese conflict to weaken both powers.
Secondly, after the Islamic world, the region with the highest potential for conflict is Sub-Saharan Africa. By keeping the potential of old and new wars and conflicts high, the growth of Islamic extremism will lead to increased migration to South Africa and the European countries, which will further impact the strengthening of inter-ethnic conflicts and the growth of anti-liberal opinions in Europe.
The main problem of American hegemony is a current lack of meaning. The United States cannot offer itself or the world a new and positive image of the future. This was previously to the US’ advantage, but now it is the weak point of its foreign policy. All of the US’ foreign policy rhetoric is generally negative, built on the negation of the existing regimes, trends and processes, but in fact, the Americans have not offered anything in exchange. As the result, the vacuum of conflict zones of meaning is filled by parasitic structures such as ISIS.
The crisis of meaning of US hegemony opens opportunities for other world civilizations. The struggle for meaning will be a main component of future geopolitics. Alternative proposals for global development, as well as philosophical and ideological alternatives to liberalism from various civilizational centers will largely determine world politics rather than the struggle for resources and territory.