9 September 2021

Cyber Weapons – A Weapon of War?

   Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)

The character of warfare has changed fundamentally over the last decade. In the past, it was essential for an adversary nation or insurgent to physically bring weapons to bear during combat. That requirement is no longer a necessity. In cyber operations, the only weapons that need to be used are bits and bytes. In this new era of warfare, logistics issues that often restrict and limit conventional warfare and weaponry are not impediments. This new weaponry moves at the speed of light, is available to every human on the planet and can be as surgical as a scalpel or as devastating as a nuclear bomb.

Cyber attacks in various forms have become a global problem. Cyber weapons are low-cost, low-risk, highly effective and easily deployable globally. This new class of weapons is within reach of many countries, extremist or terrorist groups, non-state actors, and even individuals. Cyber crime organisations are developing cyber weapons effectively. The use of offensive Cyber operations by nation-states directly against another or by co-opting cyber criminals has blurred the line between spies and non-state malicious hackers. New entrants, both nation-states and non-state actors have unmatched espionage and surveillance capabilities with significant capabilities. They are often the forerunners for criminal financial gain, destruction and disruption operations. Progressively, we see non-state actors including commercial entities, developing capabilities that were solely held by a handful of state actors.

Social Media in Violent Conflicts – Recent Examples

  Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Alan Rusbridger, the then editor-in-chief of the Guardian in his 2010 Andrew Olle Media Lecture, stated, “News organisations still break lots of news. But, increasingly, news happens first on Twitter. If you’re a regular Twitter user, even if you’re in the news business and have access to wires, the chances are that you’ll check out many rumours of breaking news on Twitter first. There are millions of human monitors out there who will pick up on the smallest things and who have the same instincts as the agencies—to be the first with the news. As more people join, the better it will get. ”

The most important and unique feature of social media and its role in future conflicts is the speed at which it can disseminate information to audiences and the audiences to provide feedback.

India Can't Afford Complacency When It Comes to China

James Holmes

Here's What You Need to Remember: Over the past two decades, Western analysts have continually lowballed China's capacity to assemble strong forces. New Delhi could do the same—and find itself outmatched in its own backyard.

At one point in the movie Beaches, Bette Midler's rather egotistical character C. C. Bloom inquires: "But enough about me, let's talk about you. What do you think of me?" In Beaches, it was all about C. C. Bloom.

It's all about China in Asia these days. But enough about China and its dominance of the headlines. Let's talk about India. What does India think of China?

One thing is clear: Indians do think about China, which has steadily expanded its strategic footprint in the Indian Ocean. And they worry about Asia's would-be Big Brother. Indian strategists see ulterior motives at work even in such nondescript endeavors such as the counterpiracy mission in the Gulf of Aden, where by most accounts, the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLA Navy) has been a valuable partner. Angst-ridden words have issued from New Delhi at times. Yet Indian leaders have modulated their rhetoric in recent years. They appear increasingly comfortable with the strategic outlook in South Asia. Anxieties have receded, though they haven't evanesced entirely and probably never will. And the leisurely pace (and fitful progress) of India's naval and military buildup belies any worried talk from officialdom.

Taliban Announce Acting Government Lineup

Catherine Putz

The Taliban promised an “inclusive” government. In his first press conference in Kabul on August 17, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that after consultations “a strong Islamic and inclusive government” would be announced.

Of course, the definition of “inclusive” is a matter of perspective. When Tajik President Emomali Rahmon announced his government would only recognize an “inclusive” Afghan government under the Taliban, he made clear his definition was ethnic-based. For many in the West, an “inclusive” government would have to include women and minorities.

On September 7, the Taliban finally announced an acting government with a pledge to name permanent leadership soon. As BBC journalist Sana Safi remarked on Twitter: “All men. All mullahs. All middle aged.” Few should be legitimately surprised at the composition. The ranking and positioning will invoke tea-leaf reading regarding status and power.

Afghanistan: The Warlords Who Will Decide Whether a Civil War Is Likely


Unsurprisingly, the Taliban’s rapid takeover of power across Afghanistan has prompted headlines about a renewed “civil war”. This is misleading, however.

“Civil war” implies a situation where an insurgent movement is taking on a ruling government. But in 2001, it was not just the United States (US)-backed Northern Alliance that removed the Taliban from Kabul – other local commanders and political leaders were challenging their authority too.

And in 2021, the Taliban swept to power by offering local groups incentives to cooperate or persuading them to stand aside. Now that the Taliban tries to establish a government and ruling institutions, it is possible that these groups may resist being co-opted. They may bristle at the lack of autonomy, or see political and economic benefit in opposition to the new system in Kabul.

Taliban completes conquest of Afghanistan after seizing Panjshir


The Taliban completed its military conquest of Afghanistan and took control of the mountainous province of Panjshir after seven days of heavy fighting. The fall of Panjshir puts the Taliban in full control of the country and eliminates the final vestige of organized resistance to its rule.

The Taliban began its assault on Panjshir on Aug. 30, the day the U.S. military withdrew its last forces from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. The Taliban seized control of the Afghan capital of Kabul and 32 of the country’s 34 provinces on Aug. 16 after a three and a half month long offensive that began on May 1.

After the fall of Kabul, the National Resistance Front, led by former Vice President and National Directorate of Security chief Amrullah Saleh, and Panjshiri warlord Ahmad Massoud, organized inside Panjshir and several neighboring districts in Parwan and Baghlan province. Saleh and Massoud announced their opposition to the Taliban. Saleh organized thousands of members of the now-defunct Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, including Commandos, Special Forces and other units, and attempted to expand control beyond the Panjshir Valley. However, Saleh’s forays outside of Panjshir may have overextended his forces that would have been better used to defend the province and establish a secure base.

How Afghanistan’s fall to the Taliban increases the global terrorism threat

Oved Lobel

The bomb blast outside Kabul’s airport made 26 August the deadliest day for the US in Afghanistan for a decade. An Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K) suicide bomber killed an estimated 170 Afghans and 13 US soldiers—more American troops than were killed in action each year between 2015 and 2018.

Though IS-K has conducted several mass-casualty atrocities over the years, attacks on this scale will likely become more common with the US withdrawal, and an IS-K unchecked by a US military and intelligence presence may quickly begin to pose a global threat.

Joe Biden’s administration, like Donald Trump’s before it, has been gambling on a partnership with the Taliban for counterterrorism operations against IS-K, something that was likely raised when CIA director William Burns met with the Taliban’s putative leader, Abdul Ghani Baradar, in Afghanistan on 23 August. For some time, the US air force has ‘deconflicted’ with the Taliban to help fight IS-K, upgrading these efforts to include direct strikes in support of the Taliban in 2019 and 2020.

The Other Afghan Women

Anand Gopal
Source Link

Late one afternoon this past August, Shakira heard banging on her front gate. In the Sangin Valley, which is in Helmand Province, in southern Afghanistan, women must not be seen by men who aren’t related to them, and so her nineteen-year-old son, Ahmed, went to the gate. Outside were two men in bandoliers and black turbans, carrying rifles. They were members of the Taliban, who were waging an offensive to wrest the countryside back from the Afghan National Army. One of the men warned, “If you don’t leave immediately, everyone is going to die.”

Shakira, who is in her early forties, corralled her family: her husband, an opium merchant, who was fast asleep, having succumbed to the temptations of his product, and her eight children, including her oldest, twenty-year-old Nilofar—as old as the war itself—whom Shakira called her “deputy,” because she helped care for the younger ones. The family crossed an old footbridge spanning a canal, then snaked their way through reeds and irregular plots of beans and onions, past dark and vacant houses. Their neighbors had been warned, too, and, except for wandering chickens and orphaned cattle, the village was empty.

Forceful Displays and Soft Rhetoric: Central Asia’s Response to Developments in Afghanistan

Jonathan Meyer

The swift fall of the Afghan government and Taliban takeover over the past few weeks poses challenges for the countries to the north. Central Asian governments desire a stable and secure government in Afghanistan that can prevent the spillover of a destabilizing conflict across their borders. In addition, while Afghanistan is less of a lucrative market for trade with Central Asia, with less than $2 billion in trade per year, it is crucial to connecting the region with the 1.5 billion-person combined markets of Pakistan and India.

Several major infrastructure projects are currently planned to run through Afghanistan, including the Central Asia-South Asia Electricity Transmission Project (CASA-1000), a Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan Power Interconnection Project (TAP), and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Gas Pipeline Project (TAPI). For these projects to achieve sufficient investment and execution, however, Central Asia needs to prove that it and Afghanistan are sufficiently stable.

China’s Crackdown on Private Equity Funds

Sara Hsu

As analysts are trying to wrap their heads around the flurry of regulation happening in China, the China Securities Regulatory Commission announced a crackdown on private equity funds. The private equity fund industry currently has an overall management scale of over 18 trillion renminbi ($2.79 trillion) with 111,800 managed funds. Most firms on the Sci-tech Innovation Board and ChiNext have received funds from private equity and venture capital funds.

As the industry is relatively new, this is one area in which additional regulation is necessary, as financial risks continue to pop up in China.

The chairman of China’s securities regulator, Yi Huiman, stated at a recent Asset Management Association of China meeting that fund managers must not exaggerate the benefits of their products. Some private fund managers have misappropriated client funds, encouraged fund churning, or even set up counterfeit funds. Yi stated, “The coexistence of true private equity and pseudo-private equity, the coexistence of excellent managers and ‘fake’ managers, the coexistence of registration management and disorderly growth of the market, has damaged the image and reputation of the industry, and affected financial security and social stability.”

How China Is Using Espionage to Dethrone the U.S.

Stavros Atlamazoglou

Here's What You Need to Remember: Chinese espionage costs the U.S. between $200 to $600 billion a year in stolen intellectual property. And this is something that has been happening for the past two decades, which would mean a loss of $4 trillion, on the low end, to $12 trillion, on the high end; an astounding loss either way.

The US faces myriad conventional and unconventional threats: Russia, North Korea, Iran, terrorist organizations, climate change, and pandemics are just some of them. Yet, China unquestionably rises to the top as the primary danger to U.S. national security.

Earlier in 2021, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines stated in Congress that Beijing has become an unparalleled priority for the U.S. Intelligence Community. Indeed, China has become a near-peer competitor that is increasingly challenging the U.S. in multiple domains, all the while trying to revise international norms and adjust them to the Chinese Communist Party’s authoritarian capitalistic system.

China’s New Data Security Law Will Provide It Early Notice Of Exploitable Zero Days


WASHINGTON: China’s new Data Security Law, which takes effect today, includes cyber vulnerability disclosure provisions that will provide its government with nearly exclusive early access to a steady stream of zero-day vulnerabilities — potentially to include those discovered in technologies used by the Defense Department and Intelligence Community.

Armed with that information, experts fear, China could exploit cyber vulnerabilities in tech used broadly across the US public and private sectors.

The DSL’s vulnerability disclosure provisions are a concern given both China’s recent behavior and its activities in cyberspace over the past two decades. The Microsoft Exchange hacking campaign earlier this year entailed exploiting four zero-day vulnerabilities in the Redmond, Wash., tech giant’s widely used email server software. Zero-day vulnerabilities are security flaws that are not publicly known and therefore have no available patch.

China’s Industrial Planning Evolves, Stirring U.S. Concerns

James T. Areddy

For decades, China pursued a brand of centrally planned economic policies that the U.S. was happy to stand back and watch.

But a subtle yet critical recalibration by Beijing begun almost 15 years ago has recently set off alarms in Washington about China’s goals and tactics—not least because China is catching up in many cases by adopting past U.S. approaches.

Chinese central planning once highlighted targets for farm and factory production, Soviet-style. Beijing still uses five-year plans but now directs resources into basic scientific research with industrial applications.

China’s foray into areas like artificial intelligence and robotics once dominated by the U.S. helps explain the Biden administration’s tilt toward industrial development policies, like spending government money to reassert competitiveness in semiconductor production.

The Gaza Conflict Shows That Lawfare's Implications Can't Be Ignored

Michael Peck

Here's What You Need to Remember: To its credit, Israel tried a variety of means to avoid civilian casualties, including calling residents on their phones to evacuate, social media and the memorable “door knocker” inert bombs landing on roofs as a signal to get out of the target zone. Lawyers even reviewed targeting decisions, and yet Israeli still suffered a public relations disaster, including public and UN accusations of war crimes.

What can the U.S. military learn from Israeli military operations in Gaza a few years back?

Plenty—and yet not much, according to a new study by RAND Corporation, which examined Operation Cast Lead in 2009 and Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

For starters, smart weapons are no panacea. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) attempted to destroy Hamas rocket launchers and tunnels with airpower alone (surprising in light of the failure of such an approach in the 2006 Lebanon War). Lack of success meant ground troops had to be sent in.

America's Return to Realism


CHICAGO – US President Joe Biden’s speech defending the withdrawal from Afghanistan announced a decisive break with a tradition of foreign-policy idealism that began with Woodrow Wilson and reached its apex in the 1990s. While that tradition has often been called “liberal internationalism,” it also was the dominant view on the right by the end of the Cold War. The United States, according to liberal internationalists, should use military force as well as its economic power to compel other countries to embrace liberal democracy and uphold human rights.

Both in conception and in practice, American idealism rejected the Westphalian international system, in which states are forbidden to intervene in others’ internal affairs, and peace results from maintaining a balance of power. Wilson sought to replace this system with universal principles of justice, administered by international institutions. During World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt revived these ideals in the Atlantic Charter of 1941, which declared self-determination, democracy, and human rights to be war goals.

U.S. Working With Taliban on Flying Remaining Americans Out of Afghanistan

William Mauldin and Nancy A. Youssef

Mr. Blinken said the latest indications from the Taliban are that they would allow American citizens or others to leave on charter flights if they all have proper documents, but flights with mixed groups with and without proper identification won’t be allowed to depart. “Because all of these people are grouped together, that’s meant that flights have not been allowed to go,” Mr. Blinken told reporters.

The Biden administration has faced criticism from Republican lawmakers over American citizens being left behind, but Mr. Blinken rejected the idea of “a hostage situation,” with Americans being prevented from leaving. Somewhere around 100 American citizens who want to leave are left inside Afghanistan, he said.

U.S. officials say that allowing the exit of Americans and vulnerable Afghans is the primary requirement for the U.S. to consider rolling back sanctions on Taliban officials, restarting government aid, freeing up funds and potentially normalizing relations with a Taliban-led government someday. Other U.S. requests include forming a government that includes other groups and respecting human rights.

US-built databases a potential tool of Taliban repression


BOSTON (AP) — Over two decades, the United States and its allies spent hundreds of millions of dollars building databases for the Afghan people. The nobly stated goal: Promote law and order and government accountability and modernize a war-ravaged land.

But in the Taliban’s lightning seizure of power, most of that digital apparatus — including biometrics for verifying identities — apparently fell into Taliban hands. Built with few data-protection safeguards, it risks becoming the high-tech jackboots of a surveillance state. As the Taliban get their governing feet, there are worries it will be used for social control and to punish perceived foes.

Putting such data to work constructively — boosting education, empowering women, battling corruption — requires democratic stability, and these systems were not architected for the prospect of defeat.

Kill Terrorists In Afghanistan From ‘Over The Horizon’? Good Luck.

James Holmes

You have to be there to combat terrorism—or any other martial challenge for that matter. This is Strategy 101: the likely victor is the contender that amasses superior strength at the place and time of battle. It overpowers its foe. That being the case, the combatant that resides near likely battlegrounds commands an advantage over a rival that must come from far away and can mount only an episodic presence in the theater.

That’s why claims that America can duel terrorists in Afghanistan with success from “over the horizon” warrant skepticism. Over-the-horizon operations—operations in which a contender harnesses air and sea power to project forces into an embattled theater for action and retrieve them afterward—may be the best option left after the flight from Afghanistan. They probably are.

9/11: The Way We Thought Then

Robert D. Kaplan

Context is everything in history, and hindsight is cheap. To grapple with a historical event one must put oneself into the thinking and assumptions of the time, which in turn are based on what people knew back then; not what they know now.

The attacks of September 11, 2001, on the Pentagon and the two World Trade Center buildings were unprecedented, overwhelming, and an absolute surprise. In Manhattan, a person could smell the fumes as far away as Midtown. It was the nearest that the inhabitants of New York and Washington would ever come in their lives to massive, flesh-incinerating violence. Comparisons were difficult, but Pearl Harbor was not a bad one: a surprise attack of vast proportions by an enemy.

Learning the Right Lessons from the Afghan War

Anthony H. Cordesman

The U.S. has a poor history of making effective efforts to learn the lessons of its recent wars, and it is already focusing on other strategic issues and the crises that are following the collapse of Afghanistan. It will be all too easy for U.S. policymakers and Congress to ignore the need to learn from the preceding twenty years of conflict and to fail to preserve the data and institutions necessary to learn as much from the war and the collapse of the Afghan government and forces as possible.

The examination needs to focus on why the war ended with so many sudden Taliban gains, what lessons need to be drawn from each major phase of the war, and how the U.S. can act more effectively in the future. A valid analysis must look at the entire course of the war, each major decision or action that limited the chances of victory over a twenty-year period, and their cumulative consequences – rather than focusing on the final years and months of U.S. withdrawal.

Joe Biden’s Afghanistan Withdrawal: What Will History Say?

John Bolton

Debates about America’s exit from Afghanistan, both the underlying withdrawal decision and its execution, will, with good reason, roil U.S. politics for years. Starting now, however, the critical question is: are we more secure today than before the departure became fait accompli.

The immediate danger is Afghanistan itself, where Biden Administration policies are enabling the victors and increasing threat levels. Secretary of State Blinken wants a Taliban government of “real inclusivity,” as if the presence of other Afghan factions will somehow dilute the impact of Taliban rule. The terrorists’ media charmers have surely learned from post-World War II “coalition” governments in Soviet-dominated Europe how to conceal political reality with make-believe “inclusivity.” If Taliban deigns to play this game, their siloviki will control the key security agencies, such as defense, police, and intelligence. The rest is window-dressing, mere pretense for a White House reluctant to face the consequences of its own mistakes.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: How '9/11 mastermind' slipped through FBI's fingers

Gordon Corera & Steve Swann

The man accused of hatching the devastating plot to fly hijacked passenger planes into US landmarks 20 years ago is locked up awaiting trial. But could he have been stopped years before?

"He was my guy."

Frank Pellegrino was sitting in a hotel room in Malaysia when he saw the television pictures of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers. The first thing he thought was: "My God, it's got to be Khalid Sheikh Mohammed."

The target and the ambitions were a match and Pellegrino was in a unique position to know.

Legacy of failure in Afghanistan started in 1979, not 2001


A decade ago, John Lamberton Harper, a professor of US foreign policy and European studies at Johns Hopkins University, published an indispensable history of the first Cold War (The Cold War, Oxford University Press, 2011) in which he described the origins of what became known as “the Carter Doctrine.”

The Carter Doctrine pledged US military action against any state that attempted to gain control of the Persian Gulf. As Quincy Institute president Andrew Bacevich has pointed out, it “implied the conversion of the Persian Gulf into an informal American protectorate” and set the stage for repeated (and disastrous) interventions over the coming decades.

Among other things, the Carter Doctrine, the brainchild of then-US president Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, caused the US to ally with primitive Saudi Arabia at the expense of manageable relations with civilized Persia.

A Persistent Crisis in Central America

Violence and corruption in Central America, particularly in the Northern Triangle countries, is causing a wave of outward migration. The Trump administration’s restrictive measures and pressure on regional governments did nothing to address the root causes of the problem, which the Biden administration has now pledged to tackle. Meanwhile, efforts at reform across the region face opposition from entrenched interests that benefit from the status quo. Explore WPR’s extensive coverage of the Central America crisis.

For years, Central America has contended with the violence and corruption stemming from organized crime and the drug trade. More recently, the countries of the region also found themselves in U.S. President Donald Trump’s line of fire, due to the many desperate Central Americans who make their way across Mexico to seek asylum at the United States’ southern border.

Your Smartphone Is Not Making You Dumber — Digital Tech Can Enhance Our Cognitive Abilities

Lorenzo Cecutti, Spike W. S. Lee

Digital technology is ubiquitous. We have been increasingly reliant on smartphones, tablets and computers over the past 20 years, and this trend has been accelerating due to the pandemic.

Conventional wisdom tells us that over-reliance on technology may take away from our ability to remember, pay attention and exercise self control. Indeed, these are important cognitive skills. However, fears that technology would supplant cognition may not be well founded.

Technology alters society

Socrates, considered by many to be the father of philosophy, was deeply worried about how the technology of writing would affect society. Since the oral tradition of delivering speeches requires a certain degree of memorization, he was concerned that writing would eliminate the need to learn and memorize.

The fall of the Afghan government and what it means for Europe

Asli Aydıntaşbaş, Julien Barnes-Dacey, Esfandyar Batmanghelidj

The rapid collapse of Afghan government forces and the Taliban’s seizure of power have shocked Europe and led to an intense debate about the implications for European policy. While the United States was the prime mover and decided the strategy of Western intervention in Afghanistan, several European countries made a big investment of troops and resources in the effort. Now that effort lies in ruins, and Europeans are left with several unavoidable questions. In the first instance these revolve around the best ways to get their citizens, and those who worked with them, out to safety. But, further ahead, they must consider the lessons of the Afghan experience for their policies on security, stabilisation, relations with the US and other regional powers, and migration, among other areas. This collection brings together ECFR policy experts from across our programmes to share their analysis of what the Taliban’s takeover means for Europe’s core interests and major partners.

Did Making the Rules of War Better Make the World Worse?

Dexter Filkins

On the evening of March 9, 1945, the United States sent an armada of B-29 Superfortresses toward Japan, which for months had resisted surrender, even as a naval blockade brought much of the population to the brink of starvation. The B-29s were headed for Tokyo, and carried napalm, chosen for the mission because so many of the city’s inhabitants lived in houses made of wood. The bombing ignited a firestorm that sent smoke miles into the sky; the glow was visible for a hundred and fifty miles. In six hours, as many as a hundred thousand civilians were killed, and a million others were left without homes. In the words of the raid’s architect, Major General Curtis LeMay, the Japanese were “scorched and boiled and baked to death.” Five months later, the United States bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Japan surrendered.

It Is Time for Senior Military Reform


Joe Biden declared the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan a success. That is somewhat akin to General Custer saying, “we have the Indians right where we want them.” Biden also said he accepts responsibility for what happened, but then he blamed Trump. As a result, none of the bumbling military incompetents who turned the evacuation into a fiasco will be disciplined. All will likely be allowed to retire at the end of their terms of service with bands, ceremonies, and medals all around. Among our leading four-star generals, there is apparently no sense of shame or honor; nor is there accountability.

The rot starts at the top. Biden has been a political hack all his life, and until his ascent to the presidency, he has never been accountable for anything. From plagiarism at Syracuse University to his incredible string of foreign policy and national defense missteps, he has slimed his way out of every bad call that he has ever made. He has declared himself to have conducted an immaculate evacuation so his subordinates are — by association — guiltless. His enablers at the Washington Post, notably E.J. Dionne and Jennifer Rubin, are trying to paper over his blunders as well as those of his national security team and his generals.


ML Cavanaugh

Deterrence smells like tank exhaust and feels like an earthquake. Hundreds of armored vehicles rumbled over streets, thousands of troops marched in formation, and dozens of planes flew overhead as Ukrainians cheered during their Independence Day parade on August 24. Kyiv’s main boulevard—Khreshchatyk—filled to the Maidan as the city bathed in blue and yellow. Ukrainians celebrated thirty years since their overwhelming vote to leave the Soviet Union to form a separate country.

While the world watched Kabul, another consequential geopolitical story was unfolding in Kyiv. The Afghanistan War’s tragic end is being judged in capitals around the world, as well as the Oval Office. The September 1 meeting between US president Joseph R. Biden and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky was high stakes for both countries’ security.

In Ukraine, even Independence Day came with casualties—one killed and two wounded in attacks in the country’s east. A half day’s train ride away, the 250-mile-long front line is frozen in trench warfare on what Ukrainian troops call the “zero line” (or “zero” for short).

What Does the Literature Tell Us on the Relationship between Economic Interdependence and Conflict Management? An Overview with A Focus on the MENA Region

Katarzyna W. Sidło

The present paper provides the conceptual framework for the analysis of relationship between economic interdependence and conflict prevention, management, and solving. It starts by providing an overview of arguments of two main schools of thought that have been in debate over relationship between the two variables: the liberals, arguing for the pacifying effects of economic interdependence, and the realists, according to whom as interdependence between countries increases, so does the threat to their autonomy and national security, and thus likelihood of a conflict. It subsequently explores research focused on the question of conditionality of the relationship between the economic interdependence (usually operationalized in terms of trade exchange) and conflict: the impact of the type of political regime, (a)symmetry of relationship between economic partners, multilateralism, and trade agreements on the strength (and indeed outcome) on the interdependence-peace nexus. Further, analytical papers focused specifically on the countries in the Middle East and North Africa are reviewed. Finally, the paper examines specific aspects of the MENA region, focusing on factors flagged in the literature investigated as having a potential impact on the strength (or otherwise) of the pacifying effect of the economic interdependence. It concludes with summary of the findings from the literature review conducted, highlighting new variables such as potential trade wars or the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, that might have to be taken into consideration in future research.