Trending Events Issue 21

Open Confrontations and Secret Diplomacy

Sunday، July 09، 2017
Trending Events Issue 21

The Abu Dhabi based Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS) published the 21st issue of its academic periodical Trending Events for May-June 2017 with a focus on several trends and controversial issues regionally and globally. The topics discussed includes: "Open confrontations" in the Middle East, the neo-protectionism, increasing joint military exercises, the declining role of international organizations, risks of relying on electronic currencies, as well as an analysis of the concepts of undeclared international relations, and monitoring transformations in the European elections.

Open Confrontations

In the opening editorial “Confrontations: heading towards open confrontations in the Middle East”, FARAS Academic Director Dr. Mohamed Abdel-Salam put forward a vision that the interactions between actors in the region are moving towards a stage of undisguised confrontations, and maybe open ones, which will shape future of the region in the short term. 

The major trends of such confrontations is targeting capitals. There is a likelihood that the adapted patterns of conflicts between states will mount to direct confrontations. 

Moreover, all regional powers are moving beyond their geographical borders to strategic boundaries in anticipation of threats, and ramping up armed preparations, such as owning armed helicopter carriers, sending troops to distant theatres, and concluding major arms deals.


The Future study "Neo-protectionism: Non-traditional Forms of Economic Policies Restricting the Freedom of Trade in the World", prepared by Ali Salah, head of the Economic Trends Program at FARAS, explores the growing reliance on protectionist policies in the world. Salah linked the adoption of such policies to various factors notably the rise of nationalism with the emergence of right-wing forces in the US and Western countries, withdrawals from bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, and less reliance on jobs outsourced from other countries.

Accordingly, the study highlights the theoretical frameworks related to economic protectionism, and patterns of protectionist policies. The study further analyzed the measures taken by states to protect national industries, such as imposing or increasing customs duties or establishing import quotas, anti-dumping, and anti-manipulation technical and health standards, providing assistance to local producers, and devaluation of the national currency. 

The study also detects the emergence of new protectionist tools by states, such as digital protectionism, usage of culture as a pretext for protectionism, exploitation of loopholes in free trade agreements, and manipulation of the definition of dumping. At another level, the study assesses the repercussions arising from protectionist policies on the national and global levels. 

The study concludes that excessive reliance on protectionism has adverse impacts on the economy of the state itself, such impacts depend on the ability of the global economy to compensate its losses and the availability of alternatives to protectionist economies.

Why Russia? 

Future Opinions section presents answers to the most controversial questions at the global level, professor Aisha Al-Muri, Emirati writer, answers the question "How does Russia Think?" focusing on new aspects in Russian politics, the political and military reviews led by Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the major trends of the "Neo-Cold War".  

Jassim Mohamed, head of the European Counter Terrorism Center in Amsterdam, Netherlands, answers the question "Why Intelligence Agencies Issue Public Reports?" stressing that the growing trend among intelligence agencies to publish reports can be attributed to several factors. The most important of which are demonstrating state power and presenting a source of information, sapping the power of hostile states, reassuring allies, and rallying the support of international powers.

Dr.Abdullah Al-Jasmi, head of the philosophy department at the University of Kuwait, responses to the question "Is there a Return to Philosophy?" His article focuses on the shifts in philosophy in the Arab region and how it was influenced by multiple factors such as: the reviews of political Islam, the rise of youth mobility in the Arab region, growing impact of technology on cultural and social values, social media breaking the monopoly of traditional media, as well as the rivalry between the cultural and social modernization movement, and the traditional conservative religious movement. 

In addition, there is an article by Dr.Saeed Al-Masri, professor of sociology at Cairo University, titled "What happened to the Population around the World?" The article discuses phases of the demographic transition and the problems facing countries around the world, such as the youth bulge and aging populations, qualitative gap, the worsening conditions of immigrants and widespread urbanization.

Future Analyses section features several emerging trends and unfolding phenomena. Dr. T.X Hams, co-researcher at the US National Defense University in Washington, discusses "Fighter Robots: How will Artificial Intelligence change the Nature of Future Wars?" The article highlights the threats of business-drones, increased military uses of drones, and the future of smart combat systems. 

Gen. Mohamed Almasri Qashqush, visiting professor of national security at Nasser Higher Military Academy in Cairo, discusses "Anticipating Threats: Increasing Joint Military Exercises in the Arab Region", mapping the joint military exercises and patterns of war-gaming in the Arab region. He further discusses the means to determine virtual enemies, theatres of the joint exercises in the Arab region, and regional consequences of increased military exercises.

Dr. Bouhana Qawi, security studies expert and professor of political science and international relations at the Kasdi Merbah University Ouargla, Algeria, provides an analysis "Impasse: Causes of Internal Conflicts in the Arab Region", analyzing models of political transition after internal conflicts, causes of spread and continuation of internal conflicts in the Middle East, and reliable approaches to peace building and post conflict management.


At the level of technological trends, Ehab Khalifa, head of Technological Developments Unit at FARAS, writes an article titled "Doomsday: Methods of preparing for the Evolution of Cyber-attacks." The article discussed evolution of cyber-attacks’ patterns, characteristics of malicious ransomware attacks, features of the coming cyber-attacks, the fallout from spread of vulnerable electronic platforms to such attacks, as well as how to prepare for the internet doomsday. 

Bertrand Fiala, specialist in Turkish affairs and Middle East in Ankara, discusses "Soft Hack: the Truth about Russian Intervention in Western Elections", assessing the Western claims about Russian meddling in the elections, evidence regarding these allegations, and the growing political employment of Russian concerns.

Political Satire

In the coverage of trends in media, Hala El Hefnawi, head of Community Interactions Unit at FARAS, writes about "Satirical Programs: Controversy about its Political Effects", analyzing the essential features of the satirical TV shows and different styles of satire, its limits and effectiveness as a source of information and a tool for shaping the political awareness and determinant of politicians’ popularity. 

Dr. Mohamed Bouboush, professor of international relations at the University of Mohamed I Oujda in Morocco, writes "Institutional Crisis: Alternative Mechanisms for tackling the Declining Role of International Organizations." In addition to addressing the declining role of international organizations, the article discussed the alternative institutional mechanisms used by states, such as unilateral and bilateral arrangements, flexible or temporary alliances, and regional organizations.

Nora Al -Shehi, strategic manager for global wealth sector at First Bank of Abu Dhabi, writes an article titled "Corporate Merger: Positive Effects and Risks that can be limited", examining the concept of mergers and acquisitions, objectives of institutional integration, and the administrative and economic challenges they face. 

Ghanem Rafeh, researcher in international relations, wrote an article titled "Cryptocurrencies: Potential Risks of relying on Electronic Currencies", explaining what is meant by virtual currencies, reasons behind its proliferation, and growing international recognition of virtual currencies. The article further analyzed the economic returns and the mounting security threats arising from increasing reliance on such currencies.

The Following Day

Future Workshop section explores major trends in the seminars and meetings organized by FARAS. A workshop was conducted by FARAS titled, "Economy as an Engine: Challenges of the Growing Role of China in the Middle East." The seminar hosted experts from the Shanghai Institute of International Studies, and focused on the analysis of China’s global vision, shifts in the Arabic-Chinese relations, and challenges of the Chinese role in the Middle East.  

In this issue, there is also a report on a workshop organized by FARAS titled "The following Day: What to expect in the Middle East after Trump’s visit to Riyadh?" It discusses the regional implications of the visit, indicators of Saudi-American convergence, and the future of the Middle East. 

Another workshop titled "Mounting threats: Future of Terrorism in Europe" offers answers to some of the most controversial questions about terrorist threats, which come in many shapes and forms to include lone-wolves’ attacks, coordinated attacks, and terrorist networks in extremism’s incubators.

Religion Makes a Comeback

At the forefront of “How does the Other World Thinks” section, Yuri Barman, an expert from the Moscow Institute of International Affairs discusses "Interdependence: Economic Determinants of Russian Policy in the Middle East". Shihab Enam Khan, Assistant Professor of international relations at the University of Jahangirnagar University in Bangladesh, examines "Return of Religion: Shifting the Relationship between Religion and State in China". 

Alisia Ruiz Bravo, an intern in the External Relations Division of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, Switzerland, discusses "The Ethnic Issue: the Challenges of Ensuring the Rights of Indigenous People in South America", exploring rising ethnic factors in the policies of Latin America countries and challenges facing indigenous rights. Madi Ibrahim Kante (African University PhD researcher in Yaoundé, Cameroon), analyses "Technological Revolution: Political and Security Repercussions on African Countries", covering the surge in technological applications in African countries and government support for the digital economy and the growing political and security employment of technology.

West Crises

The State of the World section features the political and security transformations in European countries, through an analytical essay by Karen Abul Kheir, Editorial Adviser at Al-Siyassa Al-Dawliya magazine of Al-Ahram Foundation. Abul Kheir’s article was titled "Western Malaise: West Crises between Internal Divisions and Cracking External Barriers" highlighting indicators of diminished principles of the Western model, the growing social pessimism in European communities, the collapse of geographical barriers, which separate Europe from North Africa and the Levant and Eurasian reach.

Furthermore, in the State of the Middle East section focuses on "Security Gaps: The Various Paths of Terrorism from the Middle East to Western Countries", Mona Mustafa Mohamed, researcher at FARAS discusses the prevailing ideas in think tanks worldwide on shifting patterns of terrorist operations and the multiple paths terrorist threats transferring from the Middle East to neighbouring countries in Europe. The sector further highlights the security gaps in Western states that complete the cycle of  cross-border terrorism, given the failure of immigrants’ integration policies, the spread of communal extremism in Western countries, and the vulnerability of security and intelligence institutions. This section also includes review of the latest books produce by global publishers in 2017.

Covert Interactions

The Future Concepts supplement includes an analysis of concepts and theoretical frameworks related to the phenomenon of "Undeclared Forms of Relations between International Actors on the Global Scene". In the forefront, Dr. Rania Ala Alsebai, assistant professor at the Faculty of Economics and Political Science, Cairo University, examines "Secret Diplomacy: Hidden Channels for Undeclared Communication and International Deals". In another article, Amer Salah, expert in international relations, University of Exeter, United Kingdom, analyzes the "Second Track: The Role of Informal Gatherings in the Settlement of Conflicts between States". 

Dr. Shadi Abdel-Wahab, Executive Editor-in-Chief of Trending Events, focuses on the "Silent Option: Employing Conspiratorial Operations in the Management of International Interactions", while Sharif Mohieddin, a researcher in security and counterterrorism studies, discusses "Critical Reactions: Determinants and Patterns of Negotiating with Armed Violent Groups".

European Elections 

The Future Report supplement titled "European Elections: Main Trends of Election Results in European Countries". In the forefront of it, there is an article by Yusuf Saber, PhD researcher at the Institute of Political Studies in France, about "Rise of the Center: The Role of Non-Partisan Movements in the French Presidential Election." 

In addition, Baha Mahmoud, researcher in European political systems, based in Cairo, explores "Security First: Terrorism and Immigration are Priorities in German Elections", while Dr. Iman Amir, researcher in international relations, focuses on "Putin’s Model: Russian Policy Simulation in Serbian Elections." The supplement also includes an article prepared by Sumaya Mitwali Alsaid, assistant professor in the Faculty of Economics and Political Science, Cairo University, about "Confidence Crisis: the Decline of Traditional Elites in Elections in Luxembourg". 

Raghda Albahi, assistant professor in Faculty of Economics and Political Science, Cairo University, writes about "Return of the Left: Conservative Parties in Norway Elections".

Instability Index

Finally, the current issue presents a separate infographic titled "Index of Instability in the Arab World", displaying the results of an index prepared by Mustafa Abdelghani, a statistical researcher at FARAS, to measure levels of instability in the Arab region. Abdelghani mapped in the info-graph armed conflicts in Syria and Libya, death tolls in internal conflicts in the Arab region between 2011 and 2016, and number of refugees and displaced people in Arab countries.

Keywords: EuropePutinConfrontationsProtectionism