4th annual conference of the Middle East Dialogue of the Valdai International Discussion Club, titled “Islam in Politics: Ideology or Pragmatism?”, will take place in Marrakesh, Morocco, on May 14-15.
Issues of commonalities and differences in the Muslim communities of Russia and Canada, as well as problems of their integration into the legal frameworks of their respective countries, were the main topics of discussion at the conference Muslims in Russia, the CIS, and Canada: Cohabitation and Cooperation
The conference Muslims in Russia, the CIS, and Canada: Cohabitation and Cooperation presented by Carleton’ Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, the Department of Political Science, the Carleton Centre for the Study of Islam, and the Valdai Discussion Club is to be held on March 8, 2013 at the Carleton University, Ottawa.
The analytical report “Russia’s Economy: after Transformation, before Modernization” was prepared after discussions at the Valdai Discussion Club Summit held on October 21–22, 2012. The report incorporates many of the conclusions on Russia’s political development contained in the 2011 Valdai report “Russia Should Not Miss Its Chance: Development Scenarios”.
The Russia Development Index (Valdai Index) reflects the combined opinion of the world's leading experts on Russia as regards Russia’s political, economic, social, cultural and international performance. The annual poll aims to study changes in Russia’s development trends over a year. It is important that respondents assess not the current situation, but changes.
The analytical report “Military Reform: Toward the New Look of the Russian Army” summarizes the results of the conference of the Valdai Discussion Club Defense and Security section titled “Modernization of Russia’s Armed Forces and Cooperation in International Security” which was held on May 25-27, 2011 in Moscow.
The fact of the recurring presence of the Russian fleet in a region in which a conflict is growing hotter constitutes a statement in and of itself. This Russian measure, accompanied by blunt rhetoric, indicates an effort at deterrence in the Syrian theater, as well as a general demonstration of force.
Whatever the exact circumstances, the Russian navy has established a “de facto” presence in the eastern and central parts of the Mediterranean, as well as the Horn of Africa, the Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea. Although the objectives vary from region to region, this very fact suggests that times have changed.
Few would dispute that Russia’s domestic and international conduct is often troubling and its relationship with the United States is in decline. Nevertheless, Moscow might be willing and able to work with America to find a negotiated solution to Syria’s civil war. This outcome would be better for U.S. interests, and for U.S. values, than ongoing violence that creates a failed state, a terrorist haven, extremist Islamist regime—or all three—in Syria.
By assisting with the establishment of the National Coalition, the United States and their allies have not united the opposition, but instead created the semblance of an association that will act as a breeding ground for the further escalation of the Syrian conflict. Washington is not keen to be fully committed to the Middle East, since the situation is too complicated and unpredictable.
Although Egypt is facing serious challenges, there are no grounds to overdramatize the situation. The Egyptian authorities should focus on ensuring a pluralistic system at home. Egypt is a large country with huge population and one model is unlikely to work for everyone. A confrontation with the military would seriously jeopardize the new government.
The Turkish-Russian relations experienced a very dramatic, positive change in the last ten years, going up to a very high level of trade, tourism and even political relations. The main problem at the moment is Turkey-Syria relations and the recent bringing down of the Syrian plane and that Russia was accused of sending weapons to Syria. Turkish decision to deploy Patriot missile systems was something Russia was not happy with.
Attempts by the United States to stimulate a reorganization of the Middle East have led to Iraq becoming a de facto Iranian backyard, an increase in general anxiety, and the worsening of the confrontation between the Sunnis and the Shiites. When the energy of the masses exploded into the “Arab Spring,” it turned out that these new sentiments carried many things, except growing sympathy for the West, America or Israel.
The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is one of the most important foreign policy initiatives taken by Russia along with five other countries. Both Russia and China want to reduce the threat of separatism and western influence in the region. Emergence of SCO provoked new international order.
Iran has made varying degrees of progress down the tracks—enrichment, weaponization and delivery system—needed to have a viable nuclear weapon. How far will it proceed? One option is to build a bomb and, to show the world its nuclear prowess, conduct a test. But that option poses real risks for the Iranian government.