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The Belt and Road Initiative and Middle Eastern Politics: Challenges Ahead

Involving sixty countries, the Belt and Road Initiative sparked a global debate because of its potential economic and political implications. Sceptics argue this project cannot achieve its objectives as it requires close cooperation amongst many countries whose national interests are on a collision course. The optimists contend the initiative provides a win-win scenario for participating countries. This paper argues that success of the project in the Middle East depends on overcoming several challenges including: eliminating security threats and terrorist organizations; finding sustainable solutions to political tensions and armed conflicts; and consolidating good governance.

The Belt and Road Initiative and Middle Eastern Politics Challenges
The two-day “Belt and Road Forum,” held in Beijing, China on May 15, 2017, was attended by 30 world leaders and governmental representatives from other countries. AA PHOTO / TURKISH PRESIDENCY / YASİN BÜLBÜL / HANDOUT


Announced by the Republic of China in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative generated considerable interest as the project is thought to have far reaching economic, political and cultural consequences. The Silk Road is an ancient trade route crossing three continents that reminds us globalization is not a totally new, modern phenomenon and that trade has connected peoples, regions and countries for hundreds of years. In fact, the activities and transactions in and around the Silk Road routes of past centuries represent an earlier version of globalization. Stretching from China and India all the way through Persia, Mesopotamia, the Middle East and Anatolia to Europe, the world enjoyed considerable economic and cultural exchanges for centuries.

The imperial wars for regional and global hegemony and emergence of nation states slowed down the forces of globalization as national borders became sine qua non for security especially in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, with the rise of communication technologies, popular culture, free trade and population movements, the process of globalization marked the second half of the previous century. Today we are witnessing a stronger wave of globalization on a wider and larger scale because of ever increasing trade volume, foreign investments, rising number of people traveling all around the globe –all enabled by much faster communication facilitated by new technologies and the media. There is no doubt that if the Belt and Road Initiative achieves its objectives, globalization will take a new shape and content bringing nations and cultures closer based on common interests.

The presence of huge energy resources such as vast oil and gas fields, renewable energy sources and rapid development of trade and industry with regional countries and global actors illustrate that t

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