5 Security in:

Clement Guitton

Unlikely Allies, page 107 - 130

How Group Leadership Shapes International Afffairs in the 21st Century

1. Edition 2018, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-4278-6, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-7189-2, https://doi.org/10.5771/9783828871892-107

Tectum, Baden-Baden
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Security China and the African Union, UNASUR, CEAH, Club de Berne, ISIS 2012 marked a turning year for China’s involvement in African security policy in many regards. China had long been wary of remaining sovereign in case of political turmoil at home and had consequently long shunned any form of slight support to interventionist politics – so much so, that it had earned the country the nickname of ‘Mr. Abstention’. This year, however, it did a 180 degree turn and introduced the ‘PLA UN Peacekeeping Regulations’. One year later, it sent 395 troops to Mali as part of a UN peacekeeping mission – the first time it did so not solely in order to protect Chinese workers. This was also not a oneoff experience; it continued sending troops. Chinese President Xi Jinping promised the audience of the UN Peacekeeping Summit in September 2015 that: China will proactively consider sending at the request of the UN more personnel of engineering, transportation and medical treatment to participate in peacekeeping operations. In the next five years, China will train 2,000 peacekeepers for all countries and launch 10 mine-sweeping assistance programs. In the following five years, China will provide free military aid worthy of 100 million USD in total to the African Union, so as to support the establishment of the African Standby Force and the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crisis. He further announced an 8,000-strong standby peacekeeping force. According to China itself, its record was by 2013 already not so bad: it had contributed the highest number of troops for engineering, transportation, and medical support of all the 115 states contributing to UN Peacekeeping missions; it had provided the highest number of troops and police forces of all the five permanent members of the UN Security Council; and it was financing the largest share of peacekeeping costs of ‘all developing countries’. In absolute numbers, by 2016, China had deployed 2,639 army personnel throughout Africa in nine peacekeeping missions. 5 107 On top of this U-turn, it announced in January 2012, that it would, alone, build and furnish the new headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – a $200 million gift. It would also finance language training for employees of the African Union. This momentum continued further. In July of the same year, during the fifth Ministerial Meeting of the Forum of China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) – a forum launched in 2000, seeking to establish a platform for ‘equality and mutual benefit’, as the Forum puts it, and with summits every three years – the then Chinese President Hu Jintao announced the ‘China- Africa Peace and Security Cooperation Partnership Initiative’. In 2015, during the same ministerial meeting, the Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed this initiative once more, suggesting an upgrade from ‘the new type of strategic partnership’ to a ‘comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership’. One of the pillars of this partnership would be to ‘remain committed to mutual assistance and security’. What are we to understand about this ‘mutual assistance’? (In short: an exchange between security for African countries and business for the Chinese.) Interestingly, for the most part, this partnership does not necessarily take place under the umbrella of one single formal entity. The United Nations may be involved in peacekeeping missions, and bilateral relations may play a role too, as may the African Union at other times as well. The African Union, replacing the Organisation of African Unity as from 2002, has regrouped all 55 countries of the African continent; it takes decisions by consensus, or if that fails, ‘by a two-thirds majority of the Member States of the Union’, according to its Constitutive Act. At its inception summit, member states also decided to set up a Peace and Security Council, modelled on the United Nations Security Council. Launched only in 2004, it follows, however, much more equal premises than the Security Council, with no special veto powers. It has ten members elected for a five-year term, and another five members for a three-year term. In its five first years, it didn’t stay idle and even used its power to deploy forces on the ground. By March 2009, it had ‘held over 180 meetings, issued over 100 communiqués, imposed sanctions against regimes in several African states (including Togo, Mauritania, Guinea and Madagascar), and authorised peace operations in Sudan, the Comoros (three times) and Somalia’, as Paul Williams from 5 Security 108 the George Washington University summarises. The scholar also provides further description of its inner workings, echoing much of the group leadership theory: The PSC’s [Peace and Security Council] emphasis on consensus does not present individual members with easy opportunities to use the Council as a platform for grandstanding. Indeed, the closed nature of the deliberations makes it very difficult to pinpoint where the Council’s positions originate from. In this sense, the Council operates with a significant degree of collective responsibility, with any rifts among its members generally kept hidden from public view. The Peace and Security Council is hence in and of itself a fitting example of the group leadership theory. Only finance undermines at the moment the claim of equality: five countries have contributed 75% of its budget since 2006, namely Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Nigeria and South Africa. As much as China has been involved with the African Union, the Peace and Security Council cannot secure all its interests. China’s economic interests are substantial and warrant the country’s willingness to protect its investment. A quick tour d’horizon: the trade relation between the country and the continent grew from only $900 million in 1990 to $300 billion in 2015 – a 333 times increase in 25 years, a truly exponential growth. Relevant examples include the China National Petroleum Corporation investment in Sudan: until 2012, it was the Company’s most profitable venture overseas, with roughly $5 billion of investment (other Chinese companies had invested another $10 billion). In fact, Sudan was so important that until 2007, 40% of the company’s overseas production came from there, estimated Luke Patey, of the Danish Institute for International Studies. But in January 2012, the company had to shut down due to the conflict with South Sudan for more than a year, begetting a considerable loss for the company. Libya is a similar story. Until the war broke out in 2011 and its long time ruler Muammar Gaddafi overthrown and eventually killed, China had invested roughly $18 billion in the country, with 75 Chinese companies involved in 50 projects, totalling 36,000 Chinese employees. In Sub-Saharan Africa, China’s ‘largest single investment project’, according to two other Chinese academics, Wang Duanyong and Zhao Pei, there has been a $6 billion contract in the Democratic Republic of 5 Security 109 Congo called a ‘minerals for infrastructure deal’. The name of the deal should make it clear enough what China’s relation with the continent is. Another deal, worth $4 billion and signed in 2011, gave the Chinese company PetroTrans the right to explore, extract, and export any gas it might find in the Ethiopian region of Ogaden and export it through Somaliland. A bit south of Ethiopia, in Tanzania – a country with a history with China when its president in the 1960s tried to implement Mao Zedong’s policy of agriculture collectivisation – Xi announced, in 2013, that there would be $10 billion of funding to build a new harbour on the northern part of its coast, at Bagamayo. Further south, in Zimbabwe, in 2014, China committed $4 billion to help Mugabe’s regime, as the ruler was trying to raise $27 billion capital to rebuild the country. $4 billion came short of Mugabe’s expectations but was a lot of money, considering the context. The previous year, the country’s GDP was at $11.6 billion, according to official statistics, and it had failed to repay billions of debt – including $60 million outstanding to China – and no other Western countries or institutions were willing to lend a hand. Chinese investments haven’t been risk-free. The Chinese government have faced risk of association with governments with dubious human rights and corruption records (as much as China’s own at least), and expropriation risks in countries with instable regimes, weak regulations, little recourse to enforce law, and fewer venues to settle disputes. But arguably, from a pragmatic security viewpoint, the risks faced by its citizens operating in these countries have been major and have justified more intense cooperation between the continent and China – and this could not necessarily occur via a large multilateral institutionalised framework such as the African Union. Sudan has been a headache for China. At first, it supported unity – considering its own political preference against secessionist movements. But it had to reconsider its stance and hedged its bets as the security situation became dire for Chinese workers, with the independence coming increasingly within sight. In October 2008, armed rebels from Darfur kidnapped nine Chinese employees of the China National Petroleum Corporation and killed five of them. In January 2012, rebels supported by the government of South Sudan kidnapped 20 employees of the Chinese hydropower and construction company Sinhydro. In 5 Security 110 May 2015, China had to evacuate 400 workers from the Melut Basin, in South Sudan, due to fighting. Due to such a backlash, China has had to soften its stance and raise its diplomatic game in the region. Sudan has not been a case apart when it comes to the death of Chinese migrants, though. Also in 2015, three senior executives of the China Railway Construction were gunned down in a hotel in Mali, along with six Russian employees of a cargo company, and ten further victims. In 2012, reports had emerged of beatings of Chinese shopkeepers and miners in Kenya, Senegal and Ghana. Expressions of resentment had equally surged in Angola – where certain estimates put the number of Chinese expats at 250,000 (in a population of less than 29 million). Crimes against Chinese people have also increased in South Africa. Representative of this trend, a Chinese delegation to Tanzania declared during Xi Jinping’s visit in April 2013: In the last three years, there have been a series of robbery incidents which targeted Chinese investors, including a woman who was killed last October. We think the government should consider this seriously to improve the business environment for Chinese and other investors in the country. That China wishes to protect its citizens can make sense, in the face of the incapability of the host countries to do so. But China’s interventionism has also attracted much criticism that China has been carrying out a new form of colonialism (again, on top of the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’), exploiting African countries for their natural resources on the one hand, and deploying its military to secure this neo-colonialism on the other. Possibly to demonstrate that this was not the case, China took the somewhat surprising decision to deploy 395 troops in Mali in July 2013, a country that only conducts small trade relations with China (Mali exported $200 million of goods to China in 2012, and imported $307 million from China). The decision to send combat troops to a country that is not linked to Chinese political or economic interests may have tried to soften these critics. The step was in any case quite representative for a country that otherwise regards the principle of sovereignty as fairly binding. Rebellions in Mali have occurred repeatedly, with the first Tuaregs’ rebellion against the Malian government probably dating back to the 1960s. Droughts in the following two decades pushed the Tuaregs to relocate to Niger, Algeria, or Libya. In 5 Security 111 January 2012, a group of Tuaregs declared the independence of the northern part of Mali, which they called Azawad. The crisis worsened as a military coup ousted the president, allegedly over poor handling of the crisis. Unlike previous rebellions, though, this one included separatists and a jihadist group, Ansar al-Dine, which had links to a more well-known group, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. France and the African Union sent troops from January 2013, and a peace deal was reached in June 2013 – hence prior to the Chinese deployment. After the summer, however, the rebels maintained that the coalition did not respect the peace agreement and fighting resumed. Another peace agreement was signed in April 2015, but it has not prevented attacks from further occurring. As of March 2018, the UN mission still counted over 15,000 personnel deployed, and the total of Chinese troops was still at 395. Cynics will see in the partnership between China and Africa little more than the Asian country preserving its own economic interests – a sort of continuation of the BRICS story from the previous chapter. China’s first ever produced defence white paper from May 2015 may provide such cynics with powder for their argument: the paper highlights China’s global role in defence, to be played along Chinese current and future interests. Yet both the African states and China do profit from the situation, with African states able to draw on another external party for their defence and the maintaining of order. African states’ security issues can be roughly pigeonholed into five categories: ethnic or intergroup clashes, radicalisation, managing the ‘youth bulge’, the natural resources plague, and issues around democratic transitions. Arguably, China is only helpful for the three first ones – but that’s still significant. Furthermore, the self-serving economic interest argument is a bit cheap: states arguably probably never provide defence measures that go against their own interests (and the same goes for alliances in the realm of business, or of climate change). The following harsh description of the United States defence published in Foreign Policy, by a former US army colonel, Christopher Holshek, is a neat reminder that the alternative to a form of multilateralism in defence – US hegemony – isn’t much better: 5 Security 112 The American adventure in unilateralism since 9/11 has been, to put it mildly, less than successful. Over almost a decade and a half, the United States has been obsessed with large-scale, enemy-centric operations that overlook the root causes of conflict; Washington has preferred to rely on a singular solution, rather than turn to multilateral institutions at a fraction of the cost. With the nightmarish outcomes of military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan still unfolding, the results speak for themselves. What could be said to matter is the leadership element, epitomised by the action that China undertook. A word of caution is naturally warranted, as the two scholars Zhang Chun and Chris Alden remind us: ‘Given the fact that Africa is a diversified continent with 54 countries and a vast land area of more than 30 million square kilometres, one has to be cautious about drawing any overarching conclusion about the African peace and security situation’. Despite this word of caution, the key features of the defence framework in which the China-Africa cooperation has taken place remain: it is consensus driven, and there are mutual benefits. The Chinese-African case is hence useful for two aspects: first, it is an example of group leadership within the context of defence. Security embeds other aspects than just defence, as the rest of the chapter will cover, but this has had the merit of having this fairly narrow focus. Second, it is an example of the theory that highlights its global scope. Defence could still be perceived as a rather regional affair – traditionally it has been the case, with states seeking first and foremost to defend their borders. But the Chinese-African defence partnership showcases that defence is global, even when taking the US interventionist approach out of the equation. Thirdly, it transcends institutions: it takes place informally (within fora and bilaterally), as well as within the African Union or United Nations framework. Examples of group leadership theory also come up when looking at regional security alliances – including potent alliances that, again, do not include the United States. This requires, however, expanding the definition of security in order to go beyond the military realm of defence. 5 Security 113 Regional security: civil commotion Let us turn now to South America, with the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).33 Created in 2008 after eight years of discussions, the mandate of this group has gone beyond just security to include education, health, environment, infrastructure, and democracy – topics we will not touch upon. In fact, its original focus was ‘infrastructure and physical integration’, a long way from security. Six months after its creation, it adopted a ‘Council of South American Defense’ – although this is not where the most interesting development, even for the topic of security, has been. It can adopt binding norms, has a small budget of $10 million, and works by consensus. The consensus rule provides that members have an equal voice in the room, but this hides inequality as to who finances the Union: Brazil (39%), Argentina (16%), Venezuela (12.4%) and Peru (10%) are ahead of their peers. Its creation purposely left the United States out to try to restrict leverage of the country on Latin America’s affairs – a sort of counterweight to the otherwise much older Organization of American States founded in 1948. It showed distrust, and came mostly as a result of two forces, one independent of the US’ will, and the other not so much. At the end of the 1990s, Latin America underwent a ‘pink tide’ as several leftist governments took on duties: leading the pack were Hugo Chávez of Venezuela (1999), Lula da Silva of Brazil (2003), Evo Morales of Bolivia (2006), Rafael Correa of Ecuador (2007), and Fernando Lugo of Paraguay (2008). At the same time, the US ‘war on terror’ signalled that the US had lost interest in regional cooperation, bar the few topics of illegal migration and drug trafficking. One of the first testbed events of the Union came in the form of protests in Ecuador in 2010. In September of that year, Rafael Correa made remarks about the cancellation of bonuses and promotions for the police. This quickly escalated as police took to the streets and organised demonstrations – especially lower rank police members, with 33 It regroups 12 members (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela, with Panama and Mexico as observing states). 5 Security 114 more senior officials tending to support the government’s policy. Provocatively, the President descended onto the street to the Quito’s police headquarters and, as the BBC described it, ‘he tore at his shirt while he said: “If you want to kill the president, here he is. Kill him, if you want to. Kill him if you are brave enough”’. Police reacted and fired tear gas at him. Brought to the hospital, Correa declared that he could not leave the vicinity. He called the incident ‘a coup attempt’ – a reaction that was without much evidence and probably over the top. But the reaction of the Union of South American Nations was telling; they stood behind Correa. On the same night of the event, in an emerging summit, the heads of state established that they would close their border to Ecuador, including shutting down traffic routes and trade, should the events spiral further out of control. They did not, and no shut-down took place, but this showed a strong commitment to stand together. Member states showed solidarity once more in 2012, this time with Paraguay. In June, the Parliament voted its President out, Fernando Lugo, and not with a slim margin: 76 out of 80 deputies in the lower house and 39 out of 43 senators in the upper one voted for impeachment. The causes for the impeachment were dubious. Lugo, a centreleft ex-bishop elected in 2008, bucked the trend of 61 years of politics when he came to power. For all these years, the country had been under the rule of the right-wing Colorado Party. Although Lugo obtained the top executive seat, he never added a strong parliamentary base: the Colorado Party still had the most seats in both houses and could draw on a much stronger base than Lugo could. Congress based their impeachment of Lugo on five counts of ‘poor performance’. As an academic noted, ‘there was no mention of corruption, theft, abuse of human rights, violation of the constitution or breach of presidential code’. Venezuela and Argentina called it a coup; Venezuela went further and cut its supply of fuel to the country; Brazil exerted pressure through a powerful lobby in Paraguay, all the while talking about reprisals; the Union issued a statement rejecting the impeachment. And yet, as The Economist of that week reminded its readership, ‘the actions of Paraguay’s Congress were legal and constitutional’. It wasn’t really a coup. South America, with the Union of South American Nations, and MERCOSUR, an economic exchange area, still suspended Paraguay’s Regional security: civil commotion 115 membership until the next elections were held in 2013, and which saw the return of the Colorado Party to power. ALBA members (Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas) – a group already discussed in the context of climate change in Chapter 3 – also refused to recognise the 2012– 2013 interim government. 2012 was a busy year for the Union. As the issue of sovereignty with the United Kingdom about the Falkland Islands emerged again, the member states of the Union of South American Nations decided to block all ships coming into their ports with a Falklands flag. In August 2012, another issue flared up, still with the United Kingdom, this time concerning Julian Assange. At this time, the founder of Wikileaks was in the UK, fighting off a Swedish criminal investigation on sexual crimes which he called bogus, and feared that the investigation would lead to him being deported to the United States and trialled there for the publication of classified defence material. He sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy as the UK was closing in on deporting him to Sweden. The UK warned the embassy that Assange could be arrested within the embassy, which Ecuador interpreted as a threat to violate Ecuadorian sovereignty. Here again, the Union’s Foreign Ministers met and gave their full support to Ecuador. They passed a resolution indicating that they considered this a violation of international norms and signalled to the United Kingdom that this would mean trouble should they pursue that route. The group again held together when in 2013, Bolivian’s President, Evo Morales, faced issues in Europe. In the summer, Edward Snowden, the infamous spy turned whistle-blower, escaped to Russia. On July 1, Morales was on his way back from a meeting with gas producing countries in Russia, when his plane requested permission to refuel. On the grounds that Snowden might be on board, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and France refused, one after the other. Austria accepted, and allegedly searched the plane – accounts differ here, with the Austrian deputy chancellor claiming that it did, while the Bolivian Defence Minister stated that President Morales had denied entry to the plane. Two days later, the Ecuadorian government asked for the Union of South American Nations to announce that ‘this was a clear violation of international norms’. And by this, Ecuador was not vague in what it meant: ‘the virtual kidnap of President Morales in various European countries, 5 Security 116 who impeded the flying of Bolivia’s presidential airplane’. The Union obliged with a statement about the affair on July 4. Not everything has been bright under the sun for this group, however. As recently as April 2018, six countries – half of all members, in other words – put their membership of the group on hold as they declared that ‘the differences between its members’ political and economic views are so great it can no longer operate [under the current presidency of Bolivia]’. This divergence emerged as the group was trying to formulate a strongly worded response to Venezuela’s crisis that its power-hungry head, Nicolas Maduro, had caused. Bolivia, an ally of the regime, has gone head to head with Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Paraguay over this issue. How the Venezuelan crisis is resolved and whether Maduro manages to hang onto his dictatorship will be crucial in determining the future of the Union. There have been many more instances in which the Union of South American Nations have proved a staunch alliance in the realm of security. Not all are worth delving into. The Union is a great example of regional security, but also of how group leadership theory applies to the domain of security when understood in other terms than merely military ones. Civil strikes and civil commotions are a large part of it. Another part of security, centred around human security – in opposition to other forms of security, where the state may be the recipient of security measures – emerged in the 1990s and is worth considering: the subject of food. The rest of the chapter will then review two other sub-fields of security where group leadership plays a role: intelligence, and ‘networked-security’ – a term exclusively used by one and one state only so far: Iran. Security extended: food security Under the presidency of Lula da Silva (2003–2011), Brazil managed to steeply reduce its number of people suffering from hunger. A report by the Food and Agriculture Organization, a United Nations agency, puts the figure of the reduction at roughly a third. In 2009, though, 30% of households in Brazil, representing 66 million people, still ‘faced some degree of daily food insecurity’, according to Oxfam, a UK-based char- Security extended: food security 117 ity, quoting numbers from the government of Brazil. In October 2013, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, 13.5 million people faced food insecurity in the country. Brazil raised the profile of the hunger issue when it introduced a new law in 2006 – Organic Law for Food and Nutritional Security – which forced the involvement of high-level elected officials, the creation of offices and coordination units. This ensured commitment. In 2009, they introduced another law aiming at institutionalising school feeding at the federal level, but the main issue in Brazil was having too little income to be able to buy food. Lula focused on economic growth and involved the civil society. Two programmes played a big role. Fome Hunger (‘zero hunger’) sought to give poor individuals food and water, but in addition to small credits and support for small-scale farming. The other programme was the Bolsa Família (‘family grant’), a programme providing direct cash to families, provided that they vaccinated their children and schooled them. Brazil also drew on support from the civil society and international organisations, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization. Interestingly, Brazil got involved in different initiatives to help other countries by sharing their experience. Lula set up several dialogues and became vocal in forums. Already in 2003, Lula called in Davos for increased aid to tackle world hunger, and in 2004 he launched, with 111 states, the ‘Global Action Against Hunger and Poverty’, a humanitarian agency. More recently, in 2009, during the African Union summit, Lula launched the ‘Brazil-Africa Dialogue on Food Security, Fight against Hunger, and Rural Development’. Besides dialogue, one of the most significant developments must have been the Centre of Excellence against Hunger (CEAH), set up with the World Food Programme, again another United Nations agency, in 2011. The Centre involves a wide range of Brazilian agencies (among others, Cooperation Agency ABC, the Ministry of Social Development MDS and the Secretary of Food and Nutritional Security SESAN). The World Food Programme describes the Centre as: [T]he Centre draws on Brazilian experience to share knowledge and policy innovations among developing countries. Primarily focused on linking school meal systems to local agriculture, it provides technical assistance to national governments to design, improve, expand, and eventually run 5 Security 118 their own school feeding programmes. [It] provides broader technical assistance in nutrition, smallholder agriculture and social protection. The Centre has facilitated governments to visit Brazil, usually for around 10 days, to learn about its various initiatives. Not only federal and central government officials have been able to take part in such visits, but local and regional officials as well. After the visit, officials are brought back to the Centre and encouraged to draft action plans around the idea of promoting ‘local food purchases and family agriculture’. Countries can then further request technical assistance to implement their plan. Gabriela Marcondes and Tom De Bruyn, two academics based out of Belgium, provide figures for 2011–2014: 30 countries visited the Centre in Brazil and 12 of these obtained technical support.34 Based on the Brazilian experience, Mozambique, Malawi, Mali and Rwanda have been implementing school feeding programmes. The countries span Latin America and Africa, as well as Asia. Many contextual factors will still differ between the countries taking part in the Centre’s programme and this is naturally not a oneoff magical solution, merely one example of South-South cooperation. Further similar initiatives have then emerged, even within Brazil, with various funds or extensions to the Centre. In 2012, Lula’s replacement, Dilma Rousseff, launched yet another programme in cooperation with the Centre – the Purchase from Africans for Africa Programme, with five countries receiving humanitarian assistance (Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger and Senegal) and five further countries technical assistance (Ghana, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Ivory Coast). The over-arching themes and arguments that such programmes help highlight is that even in the face of scarce vital resources, governments do not come head to head with one another but manage to cooperate. This goes against much popular thinking. Food and water scarcity provides ammunition by not undermining group leadership theory, but supporting it. 34 In 2011: East Timor, Mali; in 2012: Guinea-Bissau, Malawi, Rwanda, Niger, Guinea Conakry, Ghana, Senegal, Haiti, Bangladesh, Mexico, Republic of Congo; in 2013: Ethiopia, Zambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Burundi, El Salvador, Philippines, Lesotho, North Korea, Nigeria, Honduras; in 2014: Togo, Benin, Gambia, Tanzania, Pakistan, Tunisia. Security extended: food security 119 In 1985, the Egyptian United Nations Secretary, General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, famously stated that ‘the next war in the Middle East will be fought over water, not politics’. A series of high profile officials has repeated this thinking. In 1995, Ismail Serageldin, a former vice president of the World Bank, stated that ‘the wars of the next century will be over water‘. In 2001, Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary General, similarly mentioned that ‘fierce competition for freshwater may well become a source of conflict and wars in the future’. A key influential academic study took up the topic and looked at it more closely. Sponsored by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, and published in 2003, Aaron Wolf and colleagues at the Oregon State University in the United States reviewed 1,831 events occurring between 1948 and 1999. Over all these incidents, they found that ‘cooperative events are more than twice as common as conflictive events – there are 1,228 cooperative events (67.1 percent) and 507 conflictive events (27.7 percent)’. Their conclusion deserves to be cited in full: Water acts as a unifier. The historical record shows that water disputes do get resolved, even among bitter enemies, and even as conflicts rage over other issues. Some of the most vociferous enemies around the world have negotiated water agreements or are in the process of doing so. And Wolf gave more nuance and more explanation as to it: The Mekong Committee has functioned since 1957, exchanging data throughout the Vietnam War. Secret “picnic table” talks have been held between Israel and Jordan since the unsuccessful Johnston negotiations of 1953 to 1955, even as these riparians until only recently were in a legal state of war. The Indus River Commission survived through two wars between India and Pakistan. And all ten Nile riparians are currently involved in negotiations over cooperative development of the basin. Wolf ’s research, as a matter of fact, showed that the spectrum for cooperation is wide. It’s not a black or white debate. The number of hotspots is not what is missing, between the Nile, Mekong, Tigris, Jordan, Indus, Ganges, and Amu Darya, but conflict around distribution or management can take place within a wide cooperation framework, or the other way around. Treaties, the pinnacle of cooperation for some, are not necessarily implemented to the letter. And a state-level agreement may also not be the most representative for local issues. 5 Security 120 Naturally, as often in science, other studies found contrary evidence. One of them from 2006 is from Nils Petter Gleditsch from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Gleditsch concluded that ‘countries that share rivers have a higher risk of military disputes’. And yet, the study admitted that no wars over freshwater had taken place during the period under review and that ‘one has to go back 4500 years to find the single historical example of a true “water war”’ (an incident between two Mesopotamian cities) – a pretty damning (if not ‘damming’) admission. A consensus has emerged around Wolf ’s research, but that still hasn’t prevented the reasons for the recent civil war in Syria, which started in 2011, being mis-regarded. High-level officials linked it to droughts and water issues. The then-President Barack Obama mentioned that change-related drought ‘helped fuel the early unrest in Syria, which descended into civil war’. Then Secretary of State John Kerry, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, and the British royal, Prince Charles, all made similar allegations. And yet, researchers found spurious evidence for the three links that such a statement raises, namely ‘that anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases contributed to Syria’s drought; that this drought led to large-scale migration; and that this drought-related migration was an important factor in Syria’s early unrest’.35 They found that the drought from 2006–2009 did cause a migration wave within Syria, but not to the extent to which the media tended to portray it. More importantly, they pointed out that none of the political demands were ‘related directly to either drought or migration’. They focused instead on demands for political reforms of the authoritarian system and on the release of political prisoners. Stories about Brazil cooperating with African states and cities on food scarcity, as much as the more general argument that cooperation is prevalent on water sharing issues, go against the general idea of a G0 world. They show that cooperation and leadership do indeed still take place, and thus even within the confine of a niche within international affairs. Granted, Brazil’s initiative can a priori look more like a teacherpupils relationships than one of equals, as the group leadership theory 35 Jan Selby, Omar S. Dahi, Christiane Fröhlich, Mike Hulme, 2017. ‘Climate change and the Syrian civil war revisited’, Political Geography, 60, 232–244. Security extended: food security 121 poses, but as mentioned earlier, Brazil still has much work to do to alleviate hunger and is also keen to learn from the experience of others – putting the country rather on the same level as other rather than elevating it on a high pedestal. The same applies for water cooperation in general: a certain sense of being on an equal footing is necessary for both parties to come to the table; otherwise, they would not see what they would gain in trying to cooperate. As mentioned earlier, security can have many definitions and it is appropriate in our investigation of group leadership theory applying to the domain of security to go back to the object of security as being the state – as opposed to humans. Within the field of ‘intelligence’, evidence of group leadership and collaborations are also found, even if they are not always for ‘the greater good’, or what liberal democracies would label as such at least. Intelligence Cyber security is one of such sub-fields where alliances have formed to protect the state, but against the interests of the West, too. Two countries have been particularly active in this field: Iran and North Korea, both targeting high profile and well mediatised targets. Iran was highly likely behind a 2012 attack against the oil giant Saudi Aramco, which brought down one third of the company’s entire computer fleet within one day, leaving oil sales to go back to being conducted with pen and paper. In 2013, on the other hand, North Korea probably launched a similar destructive attack, simultaneously impairing computers at three South Korean TV stations and a bank. The following year, the hack of Sony Pictures – the first hack a US President, Barack Obama, attributed to a country – may have been motivated by an attempt to prevent the release of a comedy movie, The Interview, depicting a US recruited agent assassinating the North Korea leader. More worrying, in 2016, North Korea, allegedly, was able to steal $81 million by misusing the international payment system Swift. The hackers went for nearly $1 billion by hacking into a Bangladesh bank, requesting funds from the bank detained by the US Federal Reserve to be transferred to other accounts, and they almost got away with it. After transfers had already 5 Security 122 started, an analyst at the Federal Reserve in New York noticed a typo: some of the funds were to be transferred to the ‘Shalika Fandation’. That triggered the Fed employee to carry out further checks and to stop the transfers. Some of the funds were able to be retrieved, but $81 million had still gone missing quickly, through a clever and complex involvement of casinos and other ‘shenanigans’. Since the 2012 Aramco hack, the Iranians have kept a lower profile, although many cyber security analysts have noticed that their expertise and competency have been growing. The number of attacks that analysts suspected Iran to be involved with was slowly growing. Worrying for security analysts was rather when espionage attacks took place, which stealthily siphoned data out of an organisation. Behind the scenes, something seemed to be happening between Iran and North Korea. As is often the case with anything related to intelligence, it is difficult to have definite proof of anything – the same applies to the real nature of the sponsorship of the aforementioned cyber attacks. Yet, a report by the New York Times in October 2015 left many people in a cold sweat. The report mentioned that North Korea, ‘learning from Iran, [had been] growing bolder’. It quoted Robert Hannigan, the former British head of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British equivalent of the NSA in charge of signal intelligence: ‘We have to assume they [the North Koreans] are getting help from the Iranians’. Alliances in cyber security between two illiberal countries do not stop there. Zimbabwe, a country ruled for forty years until November 2017 under the dictatorship of Robert Mugabe – a man who called himself the ‘Hitler of the time’ – is allegedly partnering with China, Russia, and Iran in order to raise their game in signal intelligence. News reports from March 2018 indicated that the three partners would help Zimbabwe ramp up its surveillance apparatus. Legally, Zimbabwe has already very little restrictions or checks in place. The former intelligence minister, Didymus Mutasa, once mentioned that the ‘government sees everything’: We have our means of seeing things these days, we just see things through our system. So no-one can hide from us, in this country. Even in cabinet, I tell them what is happening everywhere, but we are not in the habit of ex- Intelligence 123 posing people just like that, we preserve your privacy. [...] Secrecy still binds me, from when I was minister. But of course you know that some waiters in hotels work for the CIO. Your phones are listened to a lot. The CIO is huge. It produces many reports. From the UN there will regularly be a report. A report about the British or India. Not very good reports really. I had to read them. They made me tired. Technically though, the country would need some help. China and Iran would both sell technology related to surveillance of telecommunications, such as spyware for mobile phones, while Russia would rather sell military technology related to radar. Naturally, not all alliances within the underworld of intelligence are evil. Readers may recall the latest James Bond, Spectre, with its infamous ‘Nine Eyes Committee’ (based on the Five Eyes bringing together Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US) trying to introduce an automatic sharing of all information. European intelligence services do have a similar platform – minus the evilness: the Club de Berne. Not much is known about the Club, but former insiders have given hints here and there of what it does and how it works. We know that it doesn’t only include members of the European Union, but Norway and Switzerland as well. We know that it started with nine members in the 1960s (some authors put the first meeting in 1971), and that in 2010, it had 17 members and growing, with the expansion of the European Union. The former Director General of the UK Security Service (MI5), Stephen Lander, also gives more details: Heads of service meet twice a year and working groups cover various aspects of security business. Most years, exercises test surveillance handover arrangements across borders and young agency staff attend training courses managed country by country on a rotating basis. Intelligence is routinely shared through a secure network managed by the UK. Not only heads meet though, if we are to believe Stéphane Lefebvre, a former strategic analyst at the Canadian Department of National Defence: ‘Informal contacts also take place among smaller groups’. MI5’s former boss, Lander, also provides more colour on this informality: The value of these institutional arrangements lies, not critically in the information exchanged at meetings, though that has been valuable on some practical issues, but in the mutual confidence and understanding and the personal friendships that they bring. Without that institutional history much of the cross-border operational collaboration in Europe of the last 5 Security 124 twenty years would have been inconceivable, given the differences of approach, powers and competence of the various services. There is no reason to believe that within this intelligence-sharing group, not all members have a roughly equal seat at the table, despite differences in their capabilities. Lastly, we know a few topics that the Club touched upon, including, according to Lefebvre, ‘terrorism, communications interception, encryption, and cyber terrorism’. The mix between terrorism, technology, and globalisation is a prime topic for group leadership theory. If the work of the Club de Berne is very secretive, other alliances – less formal and happening outside a ‘structure’ – have been a lot more visible, notably when they have involved killing. Consider what happened in April 2018, a story that goes far beyond globalisation alone: the United Arab Emirates, using a Chinese-made drone, killed a ‘rebel’ leader in Yemen, while Saudi Arabia claimed responsibility for it. Yemen has been in a civil war since 2015, opposing the Houthis rebelling against the government. The Houthis are backed by Iran, while Saudi Arabia backs the exiled government. The Houthis have fired a couple of missiles at Saudi Arabia, and analysts think it is unlikely that the rebels could have manufactured the missiles themselves; they hence most likely originated from their sponsor. The United Arab Emirates, meanwhile, has sought to establish itself as a prime partner for counter-terrorism. In Yemen, it has ‘invested heavily in military aid to coalition-backed forces’, and ‘constructed various security units, seen as proxy forces by the United Nations, to fight al Qaeda’, as summarised by Foreign Policy. But when United Arab Emirates’ troops killed the Houthi leader, Saleh al-Samad, the president of the Houthis’ Supreme Political Council, this was part of a Saudi-led coalition and the Saudis made it look like that this was retaliation for earlier missiles directed at Riyadh. ‘The response to him was a direct hit under the leadership of HRH Minister of Defense’, the Saudi Ambassador to the United States tweeted. Yet, the intelligence about Saleh’s movement and the operation itself originated from forces from the United Arab Emirates. This battle on Yemeni ground, and the jousting for reconnaissance in the fight against terrorism, is not new. It follows, in fact, other announcements about an alliance, made first in 2015, with a first meeting in 2016, and revitalised with great pomp in November 2017: the Islam- Intelligence 125 ic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition. A full one-page ad in the Financial Times edition of November 24, 2017, announcing the alliance, made it clear that this is very much a public relations coup. In 2016, as per the website of the Coalition, the countries affirmed ‘their determination to intensify efforts in fighting terrorism through joint work according to their capabilities, based on the desire of each member country to participate in operations or programs within the IMCTC [Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition] framework as per its policies and procedures, and without compromising the sovereignty of the Coalition member countries’. The Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition has been supposed to regroup a total of 41 countries, and is mostly a Sunni coalition, fighting terrorism mostly in Islamic countries.36Very little further information on the alliance has emerged, though. It is hence not possible to assess whether it has been effective and whether it will live up to its public relations stunt. The will to come together and to lead together is, however, very much noteworthy, amongst the talk of leadership and partnership crisis. The prominent role of Saudi Arabia in setting up this coalition, headquartered on top of this in Riyadh, is not in question. ‘Networked-security’ While the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition was set up, the Islamic State (also going under the name of ISIS, or Daesh), with its barbaric and graphic methods, was raging in the region. The Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition was not focusing on fighting the Islamic State only, but that was definitely part of the response. Yet, as a Pakistani general, Talat Masood, stated in an interview: 36 Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Brunei, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabonese Republic, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Malaysia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Senegal, Sudan, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Yemen. Iran, Saudi Arabia’s ‘arch-enemy’ and a Shia country, is notably absent. 5 Security 126 The coalition gives an impression that only Sunni countries are in it; that simply makes it a sectarian group rather than a real anti-terrorism alliance… They should also have included Iran as a major power against Daesh and also some main victims of the terrorist group (Iraq and Syria) so that it could be helpful and being considered as a sect-neutral alliance It is hence understandable that Shia countries, most notably Iran, also sought to engineer a response to the Islamic State. Their answer echoes much of the group leadership theme of this book: networked security. In an opinion piece, again in the Financial Times, the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, penned the contours of this concept in January 2018. He lamented that ‘the idea of collective security is now defunct’, especially as states have different interests, but he thinks that these can be put aside, and that states of all sizes can still come together, which is a key premise of group leadership theory: Equally, being premised on inclusivity, it acts as a firewall against the emergence of an oligarchy among big states and allows smaller states to participate. Zarif also put a strong emphasis on respecting sovereignty, reading the situation as almost fearful that other states (Saudi Arabia? United States?) would intervene in its domestic affairs: The rules of this new order are straightforward: common standards, most significantly the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, such as sovereign equality of states; refraining from the threat or use of force; peaceful resolution of conflicts; respect for the territorial integrity of states; non-intervention in the domestic affairs of states; and respect for self-determination within states. The concept is still imprecise and Zarif tried early to counter critics who would call it ‘utopian’ – probably the same critics that would raise their voice against the core concept delivered in this book. Zarif answered these critics by saying that this ‘is the only realistic way out of the vicious cycle of relying on extra-regional powers, exclusionary alliances and the illusion that security can be bought with petrodollars or flattery’. Understanding what this means would involve delving a bit further into Iran’s role in the region – a huge complex topic with enough material for a book on its own. But still, Zarif ’s piece came at a particular time. Six months earlier, in June 2017, after years of trying to strike Iran and having the country ‘Networked-security’ 127 as one of its top three targets, the Islamic State had finally succeeded: they attacked the Iranian parliament and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Luckily, the attackers didn’t make it to the room where members of parliament were holding their session. But the twin attacks still left 16 dead, including the six assailants originating from a Sunni minority group from Iran. The Islamic State was quick to claim responsibility for the attacks. Since 2014, Iran had been heavily involved in trying to counter the threat of the Islamic State in Iraq, and to a lesser extent, in Syria. Iraq bordering Iran made the threat a lot more pressing than in more remote Syria. The Washington Post reported at the end of 2014 that Iran had spent more than $1 billion in military aid in Iraq – a big chunk of money for a country with an annual military expenditure of roughly $10 billion. The relations between Iran and Iraq had already been on an improving path in the past decade, a winding road for the two countries, where memories of the 1980–1988 war are still fresh in many people’s memories. According to the two scholars Diane Esfandiary and Ariane Tabatabai, by 2010, ‘the two countries had signed more than 100 cooperation agreements’. The two scholars go as far as claiming that ‘for the first time in almost half a century, Iraq was a friend, not a foe, to Iran’. After the attacks, there were reports that Iranians had deployed force in Iraq, although Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has denied it. The Iranians still notched up their counter-terrorism efforts domestically, especially in Sunni-majority areas, and actively engaged in strikes against the target of Islamic State in Syria. Still according to the two scholars Esfandiary and Tabatabai, Iran also ‘began to engage with its regional rival, Saudi Arabia, on mitigating the threats posed by ISIS’ and made vague statements about the possibilities of working with the United States. In high likeliness, this is what Zarif had in mind in his piece about ‘networked security’ when he mentioned that even countries ‘with historical rivalries’ should come together to ‘contribute to stability’. The United States has also been involved in the fight against the Islamic State, but they have tried to ‘keep a light footprint’ and a ‘handsoff’ strategy. They put up a large coalition of 70 states, with a mouthful of a name, the Combined Joint Task Force—Operation Inherent Re- 5 Security 128 solve. By 2017, according to figures from the US Department of Defense, the US had 5,200 military personnel in Iraq and around 2,000 in Syria. But tellingly, the United States was absent at a key summit in April 2018 – although not about the Islamic State per se, but about the never-ending war in Syria (which started in 2011). Present were Iran, Russia, and Turkey; the interests have been complicated and inter-twined in Syria, even more so than in Iraq. A title from the New York Times from February 2018 packed this complexity very well: ‘For 8 Days, Syria Felt More Like World War III’. Turkey and the US opposed each other (over the Kurds, rather than over Assad, the still de facto ruler of Syria), although both are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); the US opposed Russia (Russia still being a strong supporter of Assad), and Israel opposed Iran (the usual here). That Rouhani, Putin, and Erdogan, respective heads of state of Iran, Russia, and Turkey, met to discuss the end to the Syrian conflict without inviting the US should be telling of flexible alliances, proof of leadership, and in the absence of a single leader, even of group leadership. Last remarks In a world without leadership, especially US leadership, Ian Bremmer, a very vocal proponent of the view of such a GO world, described US allies as being ‘weaker’ and ‘less coordinated’. To the extent that Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Brazil, and many African and European countries count as US allies, this chapter has tended to show that Bremmer’s view wasn’t correct. Worse even for Bremmer’s argument, even non-US allies have proven to be able to show strong concerted effort. If there is an absence of leadership in security from the US, this hasn’t translated into an absence of leadership in the world, in other words. This applies for the many different facets of security: be they regional (as in the case of Latin America), global (as in the case of fighting hunger, or the Islamic State), narrow-focused on defence (as in the China-Africa case) or more widely understood in humanitarian terms. The breadth of security topics has meant that the book could not indulge in treating any particular one at great length; it has rather fo- Last remarks 129 cused on showing the many different examples that come when trying to counter the G0 thesis – and to promote the group leadership theory example. Even more examples were left aside, for instance the European defence project (PESCO), which France has lately been taking a more active role in shaping. Hopefully, the reader can forgive the writer for this choice of breadth over depth, and hopefully, the reader would be a tad more convinced, by now, that the G0 world is a myth – not only for the security domain but for a wide area of other topics of global relevance. 5 Security 130

Chapter Preview



The US withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the ‘Iran deal’, UNESCO, as well as the UN Human Rights Councils: issues like these convey the impression that the world order has changed. Without US leadership, it may seem that we have entered into what Ian Bremmer, an oft-quoted political pundit, calls a G0 world, a world without any leadership. Clement Guitton argues against this world view, as it disregards evidence of global leadership around the world on matters ranging from climate change, to trade, to security. Going a step further, Guitton claims that there is even evidence of a new form of leadership in international affairs: group leadership.