9 February 2021

The West's Greed Could Come Back To Haunt It

By Laura Höflinger, Katrin Kuntz und Fritz Schaap

A week before Christmas, Canada had a gift for the world: a few million doses of the most coveted substance money can buy right now. The country is planning to donate surplus vaccine supplies to poorer nations that are at risk of being left empty-handed in the race to distribute the vaccine, a government representative said in a video call.

Attendees at the meeting included members of the World Health Organization, the vaccine alliance Gavi, the heads of three major pharmaceutical companies and health experts from around the world.

The mood was hopeful. Britain had just launched its vaccination program. The end of the pandemic seemed to be within reach.

Then a journalist asked if Canada, which has secured more vaccine per capita than any other country in the world, planned to deliver those doses immediately. Or would it first do so after a large percentage of Canadians have been immunized? At what point would the country be willing to give up some of its abundance of vaccine?

The representative paused. People have to understand, she said hesitantly, that we are experiencing extraordinary times. She didn’t want to commit herself to a timeline.

It sent a clear message, especially to poorer countries. And it contained two warnings. First: Wealthy nations like Canada are perfectly willing to share their vaccines, but on terms set by the rich. Second: Once again, it might not be the people who most urgently need a remedy who get it first, but rather those who are willing to pay the most for it.

A New Alliance Rising In The East – Turkey, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, China – And Its Enemies – The U.S. and India

By Alberto M. Fernandez

The year 2021 marks the emergence of a new Eastern alliance. MEMRI has been the first to richly document its rise, illustrated by a wide variety of media content.[1] Brought into sharp relief by the bloody November 2020 war between Azerbaijan and the Armenians of Artsakh, the alliance between three authoritarian regimes – in Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Pakistan – seems to have acquired a surprising silent partner in the People's Republic of China. This is surprising because the first three countries are Muslim states, which are not shy about using religion as a tool of statecraft, but not so surprising because this alliance is as much about mutual cooperation as it is directed against a disparate group of potential adversaries large and small – India, Armenia, and the United States.[2] Some might add Russia and Iran to this list, but both countries are as often collaborators as they are rivals of their authoritarian neighbors.

The connections are not new. Religious, political, and emotional ties between the Muslims of then-British India and Turkey date to the end of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century. Both Turkey and Pakistan (along with Pahlevi Iran and Hashemite Iraq!) were members of the ill-fated U.S./U.K.-supported Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) in the late 1950s. Pakistan reportedly facilitated the sending of 1,500 Afghan fighters belonging to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's faction to fight against Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians in 1993. But it is with the rise of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as Turkey's president and the failed 2016 coup against him that these trilateral ties have blossomed. The first trilateral summit between Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Pakistan was held in 2017, while the second just concluded last month in Islamabad.[3] Islamabad has supported Turkey on Northern Cyprus and Azerbaijan on Nagorno-Karabakh, while those countries have reciprocated in supporting Pakistan on Kashmir.

Turkey's ties now make it Pakistan's second-largest arms supplier, after Islamabad's longtime patron China.[4] Pakistan has been helpful to Turkey in the defense field as well, especially in pilots after the Turkish purge of its air force after the failed 2016 coup. Of greater concern is the specter of Turkish-Pakistani nuclear cooperation.[5] Some observers were startled by Pakistan's recent reminder that it is not bound by the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (no nuclear power is a signatory).[6] But perhaps more significant was the latest (the 15th) session of the Turkey-Pakistan High Level Military Dialogue Group (HLMDG) and the fact that Turkish engineering students are the second-largest group by nationality studying nuclear science in Russia (Russia is building four nuclear power plants for Turkey).[7]