August 16, 2012

Summary

This issue of Diplomaatia presents a number of essays on the developments just outside Europe’s borders in the aftermath of the Arab Spring – we take a closer look at Syria, Central Asia and also Egypt after the June elections. In addition, we return to the issue of cyber security in an interview and present a new book on Estonian-Finnish relations from a historical perspective that continues to fuel debates.

This issue of Diplomaatia presents a number of essays on the developments just outside Europe’s borders in the aftermath of the Arab Spring – we take a closer look at Syria, Central Asia and also Egypt after the June elections. In addition, we return to the issue of cyber security in an interview and present a new book on Estonian-Finnish relations from a historical perspective that continues to fuel debates.

Summary

This issue of Diplomaatia presents a number of essays on the developments just outside Europe’s borders in the aftermath of the Arab Spring – we take a closer look at Syria, Central Asia and also Egypt after the June elections. In addition, we return to the issue of cyber security in an interview and present a new book on Estonian-Finnish relations from a historical perspective that continues to fuel debates.
The opening essay by Vladimir Sazonov and Peeter Espak, Orientalist researchers at the University of Tartu, offers a thorough overview of the history of Syria, explaining the cultural and political background of the current crisis. They argue that even though the al-Assad regime is very unstable at the moment and changes will have to be forthcoming, it would be naí¯ve to expect due to cultural and historical reasons that the outcome of the current conflict will be a Western-style democracy.
The next article by Finnish independent analysts Mikko Patokallio and Juha Saarinen also focuses on Syria, more specifically Russia’s Syria policy. They demonstrate in an analysis of the background and reasons for Russia’s policy in the Middle East and in Syria in particular that Russia’s anti-Western position in the region is eventually going to harm its own economic and foreign policy interests.
Hannes Hanso, an ICDS researcher who specialises in Asia and the Middle East, provides an in-depth analysis of the situation in Central Asia in the light of the Arab Spring, comparing Central Asian states and societies to those in the Arab world. Hanso finds that the many similarities between the societies and political regimes in those regions indicate that an equivalent of the Arab Spring is very likely to happen in Central Asia too – it is a question of when, not if, as the author puts it.
Arabist researcher at Tallinn University Kadri Jõgi analyses the situation in Egypt after the presidential elections held in June. It might seem, she argues, that as the nation elected a Muslim Brotherhood candidate as its president, the choice between a secular republic and a theocratic regime has already been made. In Jõgi’s view, however, things are not quite that simple and Egypt’s future is open to many possibilities, as ordinary Egyptians are primarily interested in economic prosperity.
In an interview with journalist Erkki Bahovski, the British minister in charge of cyber security Francis Maude talks about the challenges posed by the possibility of cyber attacks against Estonia, the UK and NATO. Minister Maude emphasises that the cyber attack against Estonia in 2007 was a great wake-up call to the whole world and confirms that now the issue of cyber security is also being taken seriously in the UK.
The book review section has its focus closer to home. Diplomat and theologian Kristel Engman reviews a book by Imbi Paju, Sisters across the Gulf of Finland. Watching the Pain of Others, that has recently been published both in Finnish and in Estonian. Paju’s book offers a comparative analysis of the history of Finland and Estonia by tracking the fate of individual people in World War II. It constitutes an important contribution to the ongoing debate on recent history that still affects our sense of national identity.

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