Geopolitics

Energy and geopolitics, what happened last month between the Mediterranean and the Middle East
Geopolitics

Energy and geopolitics, what happened last month between the Mediterranean and the Middle East

What has just ended was one of the hottest months of the year, not only from a meteorological point of view but also from a geopolitical point of view. August saw a series of events in the Mediterranean and Middle East of considerable political weight.

On August 1st, the United Arab Emirates started operations of the first unit of its nuclear power plant. The Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) has built the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in Abu Dhabi. That is the first nuclear power plant in the Middle East. The leader of Dubai, H.E. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, on Twitter, called it “the first peaceful nuclear reactor in the Arab world.” Once completed, Barakah will have four reactors with a capacity of 5,600 megawatts (MW). At the end of July, the UAE also launched its first historic mission to Mars. The Hope probe was launched on an H2-A rocket from the Tanegashima spaceport in Japan. It has 500 million km in front of it. The arrival is programmed in February 2021, and it will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the formation of the United Arab Emirates.

HE Dr Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, on the launch of the first peaceful nuclear reactor in the Arab world at the #Barakah Nuclear Power Plant

August 4 is the sad day of the big explosion at the port of Beirut. Among the most accredited reconstructions, a fire in a warehouse in the port where 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate were collected, seized several years ago by a Turkish ship. The ammonium nitrate was in poorly protected bulk bags. On August 10, the Lebanese government resigned following mounting anger over the blast that devastated parts of Beirut. In addition to causing hundreds of deaths and missing, the explosion damaged buildings within a radius of several kilometers. Damages are estimated to be over $ 3 billion and collective economic losses of $ 15 billion. The country was already in an economic recession, with families pushed into poverty and hunger.

On August 12, the French ships move towards the eastern Mediterranean. President Macron has ordered French forces in the Eastern Mediterranean to provide military assistance to Greece. The temporary deployment to Greece will include the Lafayette frigate, which has already conducted a joint exercise with the Greek Navy, the Tonnerre amphibious assault helicopter carrier, and two Rafael jet fighters deployed to Cyprus. Relations between Macron and Erdogan have frayed in recent years, particularly after a Turkish naval force off the coast of Libya in June came close to attacking a French frigate imposing a UN arms embargo.

August 13 changed the history of the Middle East forever with the signing of a peace agreement between the UAE and Israel. The pact will be called the Abrahamic Agreement, from the name of the biblical figure indicated as the father of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Israel has relations with Egypt and Jordan, but the United Arab Emirates is the first Arab state in the Gulf to announce a formal link. In recent years, the fight against terrorism financed by Qatar and Iran have brought the two States closer.

On August 18, the military in Mali successfully conducted a coup d’état and declared the beginning of a transitional military regime leading to credible general elections. The soldiers kidnapped several political leaders, including President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, who dissolved the government and resigned in a televised speech. France maintained a strong military presence in Mali through the “Barkhane” operation. Barkhane goal was to counter the growing jihadist extremism in the region.

The next day, August 20, the Iraqi prime minister visits the United States. The Trump administration is urging Iraq to proceed with a project to connect its electricity grid with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, among measures to reduce Baghdad’s longstanding dependence on Iranian energy. The United States and Iraq have announced deals on natural gas and energy technologies with a potential value of 8 billion dollars.On August 21, President Erdogan announced the greatest natural gas discovery ever found by Turkey in the Black Sea, a finding he believes will pave the way for the country’s energy independence. Two days later, on August 23, protests break out in Libya that will lead Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj to suspend the Minister of the Interior while he was visiting Ankara. The next day Pashagha arrives in Tripoli escorted by the militia of Misrata and the Islamists of the Special Deterrence Force (RADA).

On August 27, Israel strikes Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Israeli army hit what are said to have been positions belonging to Lebanese Hezbollah after firing shots at Israeli troops. On August 28, Greece, Cyprus, France, and Italy launched a joint naval mission, “Eunomia,” in the eastern Mediterranean.

Geopolitics at the time of COVID-19
Geopolitics

Geopolitics at the time of COVID-19

New agreements, new policies, and new international horizons. The Leopards saying “everything changes so that nothing changes” perhaps this time could lose its meaning, because the States around the world, involved in the coronavirus health challenge, could field alliances and synergies never seen before. The EU-US-China triad is catalysing investments to access a vaccine, and we are increasingly moving in international fora under the banner of unity.

The chancelleries of the globe have understood that solid alliances are globally needed or the agreements already in place reinforced. You don’t go far alone. That is the case of the EU, which has planned a series of investments to make the vaccine available to all 27 member States, bypassing the national and local ambitions of its members. Too much, too much money and unsustainable investments require new approaches to the international race against Covid-19.

Compared to past epidemics, like the Hong Kong of 1969, despite the thousands of deaths, Western countries have not reacted with the same promptness. Perhaps, because of the perception of the geographical remoteness of the emergency has counted. Furthermore, Covid-19 threatens above all an elderly ruling class who leads an elderly society, and therefore, governments have felt directly called into question. But what if this epidemic hit young people?The reaction would have been quite different, perhaps less drastic. Covid-19 has set in motion a process that is unavoidable at this point. The awareness that the current state of things appears as “finished” and not “indefinite” over time has put modern society in crisis. Some question the capitalist mechanisms of our economy, others the promptness of health care, others the solidity of the world’s geopolitical hierarchy.

The certainties that came from the World Health Organization are creaking, and even the sacred monsters of top-level scientific publishers such as The Lancet have made missteps. Like in the case of chloroquine. In all this, the vaccine race is currently the only certainty, albeit within the international context, in which each power seeks to take advantage of its financial and technological capabilities to get ahead of the others.The race to the new atomic, as the tycoon Bill Gates prophesied a few years ago, is having several political repercussions. The feeling is that science, declined in the treatment against Sars-Cov-2 infection, can rise to a new ambition of power and decision making in the international institutions that matter.

Trump, in his logic of unscrupulous attack, thought that blaming China could be electorally profitable. Probably, he is ready to change course when will emerge a commercial compensation. Trump is well aware that public opinion, in general, does not look positively to China, but he has understood that Beijing appears more collaborative. In this battle for global supremacy, this head-on attack will not end up in his favor. China knows how to respond.

Just think of how many nations have received Chinese support. The electoral advantage is not guaranteed unless a series of commercial compromises that the American community will deem profitable. Among other things, with the large donations of personal protective equipment, China has expanded its influence, despite a US retreat. Beijing has made itself more available than Washington. Also, because China first of all understood how to deal with the health crisis.

Understanding Vaccine Nationalism – what does it mean and what impact it can have on Covid-19 fight globally
Geopolitics

Understanding Vaccine Nationalism – what does it mean and what impact it can have on Covid-19 fight globally

 Big pharmaceutical companies are racing towards a successful vaccine development while betting on many potential vaccine candidates. But even before final human stage trial is completed and any regulatory approval has been provided, many wealthy nations are securing the “potential” vaccine procurement in bulk by entering into pre-purchase agreements with manufacturing pharma companies. Countries such as UK, France, US ad Germany have entered into “vaccine nationalism” – an agreement that is feared to make the initial access to smaller stock of vaccines unaffordable and unequitable for every country. With many countries who are poor but have a massive case-load, this is a future disaster in looming.

Decoding Vaccine Nationalism

Vaccine nationalism can be understood as a development in which well-off nations secure bulk amounts of vaccines for its own citizens and residents and make its domestic markets a priority even before vaccine is made available in other countries. This is secured through pre-purchase agreements between manufacturer and government. Already US, UK, Japan and EU have entered multi-billion agreements with vaccine front runners like Pfizer, AstraZeneca, even before trial phases completion and testing of their efficacy.

World has seen Vaccine Nationalism in past

The similar situation of vaccine hoarding was seen in 2009 when world was grappling with H1N1 flu pandemic. Australia was the first country to have a successful H1N1 vaccine but had blocked its exports. Also many countries had secured vaccines through pre-purchase agreements. Only after the flu pandemic began to recede did the nations offer to donate vaccines to poorer countries. It must be noted that H1N1 was a much milder disease as compared to Covid-19 which has already caused over 22 million infections across the world and led to over 777,000 deaths.

Measures being taken to tackle the development  

Eyeing this problem, World Health Organization has warned these countries of hoarding the potential Covid-19 vaccines while other countries are sidelined, is likely to “deepen the pandemic.” WHO chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday in a press conference, “We need to prevent vaccine nationalism. Sharing finite supplies strategically and globally is actually in each country’s national interest.”

For bringing an equitable and fair access to all for Covid-19 vaccine, WHO in association with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and GAVI, the vaccine alliance have formulated an initiative called “Covax Facility”. This initiative will work with objective of procuring at least 2 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines by next year-end to deploy and distribute for consumption by low and middle income nations.

Interestingly, there are no laws to prevent the pre-purchase agreements even though vaccine nationalism is against the vaccine development and procurement international principles.  

The biggest threat of vaccine nationalism is that even though entire population of wealthy nations would be vaccinated, the lagging nations with considerable amount of caseload would still be infected at large, thereby disrupting global supply chains and battered world economy. The alternative approach to vaccine nationalism is global collaboration, which is the exact ideology of WHO’s COVAX facility. To participate in this facility mechanism over 170 countries have come forward so far – 90 are low to middle income nations and 80 are self-financing countries.

Will poorer countries be left behind in the race for a vaccine?
Geopolitics

Will poorer countries be left behind in the race for a vaccine?

Countries that can afford it are already placing pre-orders for millions of doses of the various vaccines under development. But there is not much effort to ensure equitable distribution of the vaccine.

More than five billion doses of various vaccines have been preordered around the world. The United States, a big spender in this area, has secured 700 million doses for itself, hedging its bets by ordering from different candidates. European Union has also pre-ordered a similar number depending on the strength of the vaccines from regional companies. Japan has put its name down for 490 million doses from an American company while the United Kingdom has also ordered 250 million doses from a variety of companies.

Some countries like France are making strategic investments to ensure their population gets the first crack at the vaccine. When one of their own companies said that the US with the largest pre-orders might get the vaccines days and even weeks ahead of everyone else, it caused an outcry in the country. Following this, the government announced plans to create a 600 million-euro production facility in the country, with the added hope that the country will become a centre of pharmaceutical production. This is in addition to the EU overseeing pre-orders on behalf of its member states.

Even as countries with deep pockets prepare to procure potential vaccines in large quantities, this leaves poorer countries in the dust, unable to protect the health of their citizens. One solution for smaller countries is to form a syndicate to procure the vaccines like what Argentina and Mexico did to supply 250 million doses to Latin American countries. Brazil is following its own strategy of allowing Chinese, British and Russian companies to test their vaccines in the country. The Philippines will also participate in trials for the Russian vaccine Sputnik V as will richer countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In the face of these individual races, some partnerships have emerged like Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in association with UNICEF and WHO. They are hoping to work with vaccine manufacturers, in addition to NGOs and governments, to produce enough quantities in the onset so that they can be concurrently distributed to developing countries. It raised $2billion to procure 300 million doses to be made accessible to countries that can’t afford it. France has also contributed 500 million euros to this fund, with President Macron saying the vaccine mustn’t be restricted to rich countries and should be a global public good. European Commission held a global fundraising event to finance distribution of vaccines to the poorest countries. Though some big countries like the United States, Russia, Brazil and India didn’t participate, $7.4 billion euros was raised.

Why Is China Opting For Iran As Its New Strategic Partner?
Geopolitics

Why Is China Opting For Iran As Its New Strategic Partner?

The prolonged trade war between the US and China has given Iran a chance to lend a helping hand in oil trade to the Beijing. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is gradually shifting its business interest elsewhere. For one, there is good reason to believe its ties are strengthening with America’s other arch rival Iran. This becomes evident as the announcement of the two countries coming together came on July 6 when Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that Iran was negotiating an agreement with the PRC.

This could also explain the recent retraction of Iran with India over its earlier projects; something India was not expecting.  India has been responding back to PRC’s border bullying with an eye-for-eye tactic of cutting its excessive import dependency on Beijing.

This now would also mean an end of India’s any future plans to make use of the Iranian port of Chah Bahar and the construction of a rail link from that port city northward to link with a new rail spur into Afghanistan. Blame it on China’s tactic of ensuring India’s links are cut to Central Asia via Iran.

According to political analysts, there are major repercussions to this newly formed alliance of two bigwigs of the modern world. China rules the roost in its economic reach and Iran in its control of military prowess and its far reaching terror network.

Further, there is speculation that the PRC-Iran agreement could involve serious military ties and lead to major PRC defense sales to Iran. There is an estimate $400 billion in PRC economic investment expected over 25 years. Additionally, this alliance could also lead to a major PRC role in modernizing Iranian railroads, ports, 5G Networks, and telecommunications generally. In return, the PRC would get discounted supplies of Iranian oil products and gas for the next 25 years. There are myriad examples of how PRC has strategically moved to secure its energy imports from the Persian Gulf, compete with the U.S. and India. It has done all this in the last decade and looks forward to a day when it would be as real a power in the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean as it was striving to be in Asia and Pacific.

The geopolitics of gas
Geopolitics

The geopolitics of gas

To achieve a sufficient level of energy security, a State should diversify the sources of supply or guarantee the availability of reliable energy supplies at reasonable prices from multiple suppliers and to avoid depending entirely or mostly on one. That is the path that the European Union has tried to take in recent years, and that the “Energy Union” package of February 2015 declared, after having launched – through the European Commission – the Southern Gas Corridor project in 2008, passing through Georgia and Turkey.

The EU depends on imports for 54% of the energy sources it uses and, specifically, if the percentage that imports is 89% of the consumed for oil, 66% for natural gas. Also, 6 EU members are dependent on Russia for gas imports. These are Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Sweden, Finland, and Bulgaria. But there are other countries with substance dependence, such as Poland (50%), and still others completely independent from the Russian gas market as for Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Great Britain, Cyprus and Denmark. The situation is different for coal since imported coal accounts for 44% of the total consumed, while the EU is independent for renewable forms of energy and nuclear power. Gas is the source of energy whose consumption grows more than all the others put together, so even if today it is still the third-largest source of energy in the world, it will be a considerable player shortly. In the European Union, it is the second most used (22%), ahead of coal (17%), and behind oil (37%). Nuclear and RES1 are still at 12%.

From these data, it emerges that the primary energy source for the energy security of the European Union is oil. It constitutes over a third of the EU’s energy basket, and it’s almost entirely imported. The EU is the largest oil importer in the world; Russia is the second-largest exporter. The link between these two subjects is geopolitically inseparable.

In fact, in 2015, Russia was the main country of origin for EU-28 crude oil imports, amounting to 27.5%. On the other hand, in 2015, Moscow imported 29.4% of GAS. In 2018, the importations increased by 8.1% in 2017, reaching in the first half of 2018, over 40,5%. That is why Russia’s geopolitical role in supplying energy sources to the European Union is so important. Oil plays a strategic role in transport, while natural gas is employed in residential, thermoelectric, and industrial use. In a nutshell, their importation is necessary for EU states and the EU itself. But being in such a situation, to top it off with an uncomfortable regional power like Putin’s Russia, is seen as a threat to one’s energy security.

In an attempt by the European Union to begin a process of diversification of the supply of energy sources, the crisis in Crimea broke out in 2014. That led Russia to design the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to bypass Ukraine to the north and, together with the project (later shipwrecked) of the South Stream, to connect – in Putin’s great vision – Europe and Russia from an energy point of view. The European Commission first vigorously opposed South Stream together with Central-Eastern European countries, leading Gazprom, the largest Russian company, to reject the work. Not without consequences: the failure of the project, oriented Putin towards China and Japan, traditionally hostile countries.

With the former, which needs gas due to the high increase in consumption, in 2014 he signed a 30-year agreement which provides for the supply of approximately 40 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year; with the second, it plans a pipeline of 30 billion cubic meters of gas per year. But Putin also looked to Turkey: another effect was, in fact, the Turkish Stream project, a gas pipeline that should replace the South Stream and to which the EU – with the help of the USA – opposes the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), strengthening Italy’s pivotal position in the geopolitical challenge between the US and Russia. The superpower aims to contain the regional power, which moves in turn with Germany and Turkey to create a Eurasian bloc. In short, Russia proves to have or at least to find alternatives in case of unforeseen events.

The game continues even more recently, with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko demanding the EU to block the construction of Nord Stream 2. The conduct would allow Europe to procure gas directly from Russia, making it arrive in Germany bypassing Ukraine (with an estimated loss for the latter of 3 trillion euros). The European Commission risks not considering Nord Stream 2 as strategic for the energy security of the EU6 and consequently forcing Russia to turn elsewhere for its exports, which means a transfer of business eastwards.

The confirmation arrives from the words of the European Commissioner for climate and energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, who rejected the North Stream 2 project on behalf of the European Commission. He argued that “it does not contribute to the objectives of the EU energy policy in the field of energy security or diversification of supplies.” Some states, such as Germany, seem aware of this danger. They are starting to rethink the energy-economic needs as well as their political positions.

However, there is a need for Europe to import volumes of 77 billion cubic meters of gas per year by 2025. The figure is so considerable as to question the combined capacities of Nord Stream 2 and Turkish Stream. The Russian gas pipelines would become fundamental to guaranteeing Europe the necessary volumes at affordable prices. That is why the EU should take a more responsible attitude and free from external logic towards Russia and instead tighten relations with Moscow rather than push it towards the east.

75 years after Hiroshima-Nagasaki, the nuclear risk still alive
Geopolitics

75 years after Hiroshima-Nagasaki, the nuclear risk still alive

Seventy-five years have passed since the nuclear horror of Hiroshima. On 9 August, the city of Nagasaki recalled the similar fate suffered after the United States dropped the atomic bomb, an act of war that cost the lives of over 70,000 people, mostly civilians, effectively ending the Second World War. A minute of silence at 11:02 local time inside the Peace Park, in the city southwest of the archipelago. Only 500 people were able to attend the ceremony due to the coronavirus emergency. Among them, the hibakusha, the survivors of the nuclear catastrophe, whose average age is now 83 years old.

Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue once again urged the Tokyo government to ratify the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, adopted in 2017 by 43 nations but not by Japan, the only country in the world to have suffered a nuclear attack. For his part, the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, present at the event, without providing details, replied that the government will contribute to the reduction of nuclear weapons globally, even though it is not planning to accede to the treaty.According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), there are nine countries in the world with nuclear arsenals: China, North Korea, France, Great Britain, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States. Together at the beginning of 2020 they possessed a total of 13,400 nuclear warheads.

The international architecture for disarmament and non-proliferation are fundamental components of the global geopolitical system, and each violation represents a step towards the nuclear holocaust.Today, 75 years after the massacre, the conflictual dynamic of reality goes in the opposite direction, as demonstrated by the Russian, Chinese and American initiatives aimed at strengthening their nuclear power for defensive purposes, a clarification predictable in the context of a propaganda narrative.

“The Nuclear Operations,” a document of the US Armed Forces, which starts with the premise that nuclear forces provide the US with the ability to achieve its national objectives, underlines that they must be diversified, flexible and adaptable to a wide range of adversaries, threats and contexts. The strategic document also indicates that US nuclear forces provide the means to apply force to a wide range of targets at the timing and in the manner chosen by the president. The US intelligence will identify those targets.The start of the International Civil Society Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, which achieved a significant result, succeeded in bringing to the UN and approving a Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty in July 2017, which it must be binding and which up to now has been ratified by 40 states.

Can US split apart the internet with its approach?
Geopolitics

Can US split apart the internet with its approach?

United States has been bolstering with hard-handling of internet ever since the pandemic began and many other geopolitical shifts surfaced during this global crisis. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called for a “clean internet”. Experts decode this mission of Trump’s administration – what they really mean is an internet world which is free from Chinese influence, and apps and companies based out of the People’s Republic of China. Experts also highlight that this pursuit by US can potentially divide the global internet system.

Until now a restrictive internet freedom, popularly known as “splinternet”, was an entity identified with China, and Russia being a close second. The fact that internet freedom is not an inherent liberty, many countries who intend to control what the citizens have access to on internet do so by “taking ownership” of internet. The best example of authoritative control of internet is The Great Firewall of China. Chinese government has put a “firewall” boundary around it with highly restrictive access to internet by the people. You cannot find Facebook and Google search engine while in China. This way government of China has a tight control on what people view on the platforms.

Now the US walking on the same path as China was what everyone was least expecting. Authorities in US might be denying any similarity in the end result of such modus operandi, the base essence of Pompeo’s statement on Thursday was exact indicative of the same. Pompeo said that he wants all “unwanted” Chinese apps to vanish from the US market. He said, “People’s Republic of China apps threaten our privacy, proliferate viruses, and spread propaganda and disinformation.”

The experts say that Trump’s administration is eyeing banning “all” Chinese apps in future. The target is to vanish these apps and companies from US market. The fact that US was always very critical of China’s restrictive and authoritative control on its people regarding internet freedom, this latest course of US regarding internet “controlling” is rather shocking.

Though the agenda of Pompeo to clean the US internet market off Chinese apps is not comparable to the controlling focus of same by China of having a jurisdiction on what is said and seen online. United States has always enjoyed the position of a country giving maximum freedom of internet to its people. If Secretary of State Mike Pompeo does go down the desired road, it would lead to reversing of years old policy of the US regarding cyber use.

President Trump’s vision of deleting Chinese apps in the process of “cleaning” the internet in US has given an entirely different tangent to the whole situation – a more divided global internet. Irony to this scenario is that internet of this stature would look a lot similar to that of China. For instance, with US firm Microsoft going ahead with buying TikTok, the banned Chinese app, it would have three versions of TikTok across the globe – the Chinese version called Douyin, TikTok of rest of the world and the TikTok of United States. This is a divided internet which can be a possible face in future.

Hydrogen revolution, this will change the geopolitics of energy
Geopolitics

Hydrogen revolution, this will change the geopolitics of energy

Anyone who deals with energy in the new millennium knows they have to deal with the climate emergency. Without intervention, the global temperature will rise by 4 degrees in 2100, and we know that going beyond 2 degrees would have devastating consequences. That is why the splitting of the H2O molecule into H2, and especially, when achieved thanks to energy produced with renewable sources, makes hydrogen revolutionary and potentially available to an unlimited extent.The positive factors of the revolution concern the availability, but also the cost reduction due to technological advancement and the ease of storage and transport given that hydrogen can be mixed with natural gas.If the target is zero emissions, however, hydrogen is not alone. It must face the competition of renewables and the electric car. Furthermore, hydrogen is currently produced – almost entirely – from fossil fuels (70% thanks to methane, the rest with lignite or coal). It is more grey than green, but the rush to change is fast.

Oil and gas have played a key role in international geopolitics since 1912. That year, Winston Churchill, the Royal Navy’s Minister of the Navy, decided to convert the fleet from coal to oil to keep pace with fast German ships. He believed that the speed of the new Queen Elizabeth frigates had to be at least 25 knots to escape the enemies. A speed-up was impossible to achieve with coal, which has a lower energy density. Also, coal logistics made refuelling at sea impossible. The gradual conversion of the fleet to oil made the logistics of oil production, storage, and distribution a strategic priority. One of the reasons that in 1914 prompted Churchill to nationalize the Anglo-Iranian oil company (ancestor of the current BP) was precisely the need to guarantee supplies to the Royal Navy for twenty years. For his part, in the Second World War, Adolf Hitler did everything, with the Barbarossa operations and the battle of the Caucasus, to get his hands-on Baku and Astrakhan and the greedy oil reserves of the Caspian. In the summer of 1941, England and the Soviet Union invaded Iran by deposing the king of Persia Shah, accused of being close to Hitler.

Often, wars, colonialism, races to create regional and global spheres of influence had access to energy sources as their ultimate goal. The “cold energy war” narrative saw the United States oppose Russia and Iran and woo Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states for energy interests. The recent increase in American domestic production due to shale has led to a rapprochement between Saudis and Russians, historical producers that today are facing a market flooded with oil and shale gas.

What was once a flood, became a tsunami with the COVID emergency, which reduced oil consumption by about a third, and temporarily led to negative prices in the United States. The suffering of American producers has changed the balance, bringing the United States to the same side of the table as traditional producers. In early April 2020, President Donald Trump phoned his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, asking him to find an agreement with Mohammed bin Salman’s Saudi Arabia to cut production and raise prices. The deal was made, with a cut also on the part of American producers who the first time after opposing OPEC found themselves cooperating with historical antagonists. The basis of the different approaches to international politics undertaken by the US administration is having gone from being an oil and gas importer to a leading producer and exporter of hydrocarbons after the success of the shale revolution.

In the common thought, energy dependence is a negative factor: no country likes to depend on another for such essential resources. Energy necessity is often perceived as a game that gives producing countries an undeserved competitive advantage from which consumer countries should free themselves. A more recent example is the initiatives implemented by the European Union to reduce its dependence on gas from Russia, which currently satisfies over a third of the consumption of member countries. Security of supply is one of the top issues on the political agenda of the European Union and every energy importing country.The question today is whether renewable energies can ease these tensions. For many analysts, one of the reasons that make appreciate solar and wind energy is precisely the possibility of producing it locally, guaranteeing self-sufficiency. That is partly destined to happen: the distribution of energy resources will be more equitable.

Journey of TikTok from lip-syncing videos to Geopolitics poster child
Geopolitics

Journey of TikTok from lip-syncing videos to Geopolitics poster child

Being at the wrong place at a wrong time – the best example is TikTok. Once a fun app for its users while they uploaded dance videos lip-syncing on songs and many such trends, has gained a non-inviting popularity, and is stuck between countries and politics. It is the new poster child of geopolitics and is trapped in rivalry between US and China. The enmity and diplomatic war between the two nations is increasingly extending to include technology and the latest victim is TikTok.

For no fault of it, the app is being threatened to be banned in the US by President Donald Trump, unless it is acquired by an American firm. Microsoft is in talks to buy the app, which is owned by China-based firm ByteDance. Chinese media have backlashed at the attitude calling it more of “smash and grab”.

The fact that how popular the app was among youngsters and alike until few months ago has suddenly found it as a central piece on the stage where the clashes of diplomatic and power-mongering stance between China and US are increasing, the situation is interestingly unlike and at the same time quite predictable. US President Donald Trump has not left any opportunity go amiss of tearing down at Beijing, ever since the pandemic crisis spread across nations after originating from China’s Wuhan area. His counterpart in China, Xi Jinping is also not hesitant to reciprocate with equal strength and is not backing down from its “wolf warrior diplomacy.” Now that the sword of Trump’s administration is blazing down on various apps of Chinese origin like TikTok, citing the national security issues, the technology sector is the obvious center of the geopolitical war between Washington and Beijing.

So how it all began? What triggered the escalating disharmony between once friendly nations? Bonnie Glaser, Director of China Power Project of Centre for Strategic and International Studies is of view that at the beginning of his presidency, Trump was cozy and in harmony with China, in hope to get successful in disarming North Korea with help of Beijing. This however turned southwards in early 2020 as nations signed a trade deal and coronavirus pandemic changed the world’s dynamics.

The series of banning Chinese apps started with Trump’s administration targeting Huawei, the 5G giant. The laser beam then shifted to TikTok which was accused of posing threat to national security. The geopolitical game between US and China amid TikTok row has escalated massively and might have lasting implications on the power-struggle between the countries.

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