We receive many queries on our methodology of political analysis as well as many questions on specific analysis we have made on different regions of the world. With his in mind Khilafah.com outlines its methodology that it uses to conduct political analysis. This should help with understanding how we have come to some of our conclusions and outline the blueprint we follow.
Before undertaking any analysis, the reasons as to why any person would undertake political analysis should be clear. We engage in political analysis as we are entrusted with carrying the da’wah to the whole world. This is why it is indispensable for the ummah to be aware of world’s affairs, she should comprehend the latest trends, understand its circumstances, and pursue the key issues of the day. This can only be done by paying attention to global politics. Analysing political trends is not an academic exercise, but is undertaken in order to protect the ummah and convey the deen.
هُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ رَسُولَهُ بِالْهُدَىٰ وَدِينِ الْحَقِّ لِيُظْهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْمُشْرِكُونَ
“Indeed He is the one who sent His Messenger with guidance and the Deen of truth to make it prevail over every other religion even if the idolaters detest it.” (As-Saff: 9)
In understanding politics a certain number of general principals need to be understood and then constantly pursued via the news and events as they unfold. With this in mind the following principles summarise our blueprint:
1. Politics is the polices, plans and styles used to take care of a nations affairs domestically, this is conducted by a government and its people, whist a nations foreign policy is the relations a country builds with the nations of the world in order to achieve its goals.
2. Nations around the world are either ideological in nature where they have adopted an ideology which gives the nation direction and acts as a basis for deriving legislation, constructing policies and dealing with new issues, such as the US, Britain, France and Germany with Capitalism. Then there are other nations which do not embrace an ideology but have interests which are defined by their history or location, for them the protection of the interest is what drives policy development as can be seen with India when it looks at Pakistan or Tibet wanting independence from China. The application of the ideology and the attempts to protect and achieve national interests leads to interactions across the world and this is the international situation.
3. The state of affairs in any nation in the world does not remain the same; it goes through many changes. It can go through strength and weaknesses; it can yield immense power and influence over many other nations or be a state under the influence of other nations. Britain is a good example of this, it was the world’s superpower before WW1 and it was challenged by Germany. The German defeat strengthened Britain. Britain remained the most influential nation until Germany challenged it again, which led to WW2. After WW2 Britain was weakened and was replaced by both the Soviet Union and America. Britain in a period of 60 years experienced influence, weakness power and strength. This is why it is impossible to draw a constant framework or a set of guidelines to view the international situation as the international situation is always in a state of flux. However an analysis of the international situation at any given time is possible bearing in mind it is liable for change. It is also possible to analyze the strength of the powers in the world bearing in mind such an assessment is liable for change.
4. The international situation is the structure of the relations between the world’s nations. It is the status of the superpower and the nations that compete with it. Understanding the global balance of power apart from knowing the nations who are the world’s powers, their policies and aims requires the knowledge of international relations, which is the constant competition between the world’s powers over the position of the superpower. This is why the international situation is not stable; it goes through many changes. Hence any analysis of the global balance of power is a description of a particular point in time, when the international situation changes such an analysis becomes part of history. For the current global balance of power see Strategic Estimate 2011.
5. The international situation will always be in a state of flux because it is determined by the political-economic situation of some states from one circumstance to another. Such change of situations and circumstances is either because a nation became stronger or weaker, or because its relations with other states became stronger or weaker. In such a case, a change in the global balance of power would result due to change in the balance of powers existent in the world. India and China are good examples of this. China is taken much more seriously on the international arena due to its economic development. By becoming a global export machine the world’s powers are forced to interact with China on an equal footing. This is a stark difference to only 30 years ago when China was considered a poverty stricken nation. Similarly India’s change in economic fortunes has resulted in it becoming a nation that is taken much more serious in the International arena compared to 20 years ago. This is why understanding the status of each of the states that have influence on the international situation is the basis for understanding the global balance of power. For further information see ‘Constructing the Khilafah’s foreign policy.’
6. Understanding the global situation at any given time does not mean one must be acquainted with every political issue and every detail of global importance. The nations who do not make up the global balance of power need not be pursued, such as Luxemburg, as the major actions in the world are a result of the world’s powers competing with each other in different arenas across the world. The following examples illustrate this:
- The North Korea Nuclear weapons stand-off with the US is a direct result of US attempts to contain China. China has been pursuing multilateral talks for the reunification of North and South Korea trying to ensure instability doesn’t not take hold within its region. The statements from such meetings have been contradictory where China has been pessimistic about the talks with distance on most issues whilst the US has continually remarked successful negotiations. The US has not directly negotiated with North Korea which is exasperating the issue. The continued sluggish progress and prolonging fits perfectly for the presence of nearly 100 000 US troops in the region. J Rielly outlined this in a policy paper: ‘These U.S. troops are in the region not simply to fight the “terrorist groups” causing local instability, but to enhance U.S. military control over territory in the South China Sea. This strategic area with vast potential oil reserves sits aside the shipping lanes to the Middle East and offers access to much of Southeast Asia. The expanded U.S. presence and nascent military alliances with Southeast Asian nations exacerbates Chinese anxieties and impedes independent accords among Asian states though such mechanisms as the ASEAN Regional Forum.’
- The call for independence by South Ossetia from Georgia is a direct result of competition between the US and Russia for control over Eastern Europe. The US utilised the Balkan wars to contain Russia in a post Soviet world and bring the former communist states under the US area of influence. Russia was able to bring Serbia under its area of influence and has used it as a bulwark to frustrate US dominance in the region. Serbia has been a barrier for the American agenda and as a result the US was keen to weaken it initially by engineering the separation of Montenegro from Serbia, then separating Kosovo from it and then the NATO attack on Serbian armed forces in Kosovo as well as in Serbia itself. North Ossetia is a semi autonomous region in Russia, whilst South Ossetia fell into Georgia in the dying days of the USSR. Russia has used its relations with North Ossetia to push South Ossetia’s to call for independence thus thwarting US aims in the region. Russia maintains close contacts with elements in South Ossetia where separatists welcome Moscow’s supportive stance. To Georgia’s deep annoyance, most South Ossetians have Russian passports and the Russian Rouble is commonly used in trade.
- The call by Tibet for separation from China is also a struggle between China and the US. US interference in the region begun in the 1950’s through the CIA in order to counter China’s adoption of communism. The disastrous bloody uprising in 1959 by the Free Tibet Movement was a large scale covert action campaign conducted by the CIA against the communist Chinese in Tibet. Tens of thousands of Tibetans were left dead, while the Dalai Lama and about 100,000 followers were forced to flee across the treacherous Himalayan passes to India and Nepal. The CIA established a secret military training camp for the Dalai Lama’s resistance fighters at Camp Hale near Leadville, Colorado, in the US. The Tibetan guerrillas were trained and equipped by the CIA for guerrilla warfare and sabotage operations against the communist Chinese. China is faced with significant problems, with the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province; the activities of the Falun Gong among many other dissident groups aiming for independence. Tibetan people find themselves trapped between an oppressive Beijing and a manipulative Washington attempting to weaken China.
7. Competition between the world powers is something that has existed since the beginning of time and will continue until the day of judgement. In ancient times Egypt under the Pharaohs was the superpower and Mesopotamia competed with it. The Roman Empire became the superpower and the Persian Empire competed with it. The Khilafah then defeated the remnants of the Persian and Byzantine empires and was the world’s superpower until the 17th century facing challenges from the Mongols and the crusaders during this time. France and England then competed with the Uthmani Khilafah and were able to weaken it. On the eve of WW1 Germany shifted the global balance of power, whilst France and Britain competed with it. After WW1 Britain emerged as the world’s superpower and France competed with it. Germany once again challenged Britain as the world’s superpower and only WW2 stopped German hegemony. The US emerged the world’s superpower after WW2 and was challenged by the Soviet Union for five decades until its collapse in 1990.
8. There are two fundamental reasons why international struggle and competition exists between nations and these reasons will always remain the case. These are either for supremacy or competition over resources. Supremacy can be for the people or the nation as was the case with Nazi Germany. It can also be for the propagation of ones values in order to make them supreme as was the case of the Khilafah and Communist Russia. The competition for resources is what dominates the West today. Competition between America, Britain, France and Germany in Europe, Iraq, Afghanistan and in many other regions is all for colonialism and for controlling the resources in those regions.
9. Any political analysis requires one to understand who the world’s powers are, their history – as this will shape the nation. This would also explain what their political strategies are as well as explain their motives. After this one would need to pursue the daily events via the news and asses the political actions of each of these nations relative to the political events that take place. This can only be achieved by constantly pursuing the events as they occur. By also comprehending the history of the nations that are the world’s powers one can comprehend the workings of such states. America, Britain and France are all capitalists’ state but their histories have defined them differently. Whilst they all embrace Capitalism they are all different in how they approach global issues. For further information see ‘The end of the American century and the rise of the rest.’
10. The nations that constitute world’s powers today are the US, who is the world superpower, although faltering it still has the greatest influence around the world on international politics. The US is the world’s largest economy by far and the most advanced nation technologically, it maintains military bases across the world in order to protect its interests. However a decade of war is bleeding the US to death and this has led to the emergence of larger, deeper and broader challenges for the US in different regions of the world which has come to be symbolised as the ‘rise of the rest. Today the US does not enjoy the same primacy as it did prior to its invasion of Iraq, as a result of America’s apparent weakness, the challenges stemming from her competitors have grown in size and scope and today are much stronger.
The nations that are able to compete with the US are Russia, Britain, France and Germany; all four nations have international ambitions across the world. Russia in the last decade has managed to gain control over its mineral resources and utilities and banished many oligarchs who benefited from the break-up of the Soviet Union. With some of the world’s largest energy reserves it is now developing a state of the art military and competing directly with the US in regions where the US for nearly a decade had uncontested hegemony.
Britain historically has been a world power and still has influence in its former colonies. Britain is a key player in Europe and has frustrated many US plans. British foreign policy is built upon having a role in Europe and influencing the US. British policy makers have accepted the nation’s weakness after WW2 and developed a policy of preservation rather then outright competition with the US. Britain has managed to achieve its interests through a policy of preserving its global ambitions by working with the US and the EU, whilst at the same time working to divert, alter, complicate and limit the aims of both. Britain as a nation will always compete with the US, however beyond this it lacks the resources or the economy to achieve anything substantial. Britain works with the US in Palestine and on North Korea and Iran, whilst it works against the US in Sudan, Lebanon, Nigeria and Libya.
France like Britain has been a key player in European history and politics, its policies for decades has been centred on creating influence across the world through its colonies, French culture and through its economic strength.
Germany is one of the largest economies and an economic powerhouse in Europe. In 2004 it was the world’s largest exporter at $912 billion. German influence has expanded economically through a distinct set of economic policies with a virtual hegemony in Eastern Europe. Germany’s foreign policy is dominated by its economic aims, however this not translated into political power. Germany’s apologetic stance in global affairs due to its role in WW2 leads it to pursue its aims through the EU rather than unilaterally using its economic advantages for the nation itself.
After the nations that directly compete with the US across the world, China has the most influence. China has become a global exporting power, with the world’s largest economy after the US. China is now showing signs of ambitions beyond its region however it for the moment represents an economic challenge to the US rather than political. As long as its economy does not implode China remains a challenge to the US in South East Asia and possibly beyond.
Japan is an economic power with one of the largest economies in the world after the US. However outside the economic sphere it has no influence. Its current policy of taking part in the coalition in Afghanistan and the removal of article 9 in its pacifist constitution allowing it to deploy troops and develop nuclear weapons, is the US attempting to counter balance Chinese influence in the region.
11. After the great powers there are some nations that have influence in some circumstances on specific issues due to their history or location. India has a large population and possesses nuclear weapons and has the potential in the future to influence its region, whilst Italy was once a power prior to WW2.
12. This is the global balance of power currently, which is liable to change at any time, understanding the histories of these states, how they developed, their beliefs and values as well as the ideologies they have embraced would give one an understanding of the motives of these individual states. These nations all compete with each other globally as well as with the superpower the US.
13. This international situation can be understood very clearly at any given time as the global situation is the competition between the world’s powers to achieve their interests.
14. If we apply all of this to Turkey, we can see that Turkey has made certain limited and largely regional interests the basis its foreign policy rather then using these interests as a means to spread secularism. Turkey has sided with the West in all most all issues of global nature, it joined NATO and sided with the US during the Cold War against Communism. Whilst the Turkish leadership embraced secularism, Turkey as a nation never carried this to the world as an ideology, however Turkey has always remained involved in its region be it Cyprus, the Balkans, Caucuses and the Middle East. This is primarily due to its history, where it was a world power. The emergence of the AKP has seen Turkey grow closer to the US and act as an agent for hire in global issues as was recently quoted by a US ambassador in a Wikileaks release. In analysing Turkey it can be noticed that what the Turkish leadership says is different to what it does. What it says is mainly rhetoric, which never translates into action. All the rhetoric against Israel has not changed Turkish policy towards Israel. Turkey is only manoeuvring within the space the US has permitted it. Turkey’s mediation in the Palestinian issue takes place when the US has decided indirect negotiations should take place on the final settlement. Similarly America’s policy of containing Russia and pushing Russian assertiveness all the way back into Russian territory has seen Turkey play a leading role in the Caucuses to complicate Russian aims. Turkey is not offering anything new on these issues, but taking part and ensuring such aims are achieved. What the Turkish leadership does when its interests directly conflict with the US will prove fundamentally whether Turkey is a rising independent power.
Political analysis like any discipline has its methodology, however unlike other disciplines it does not have detailed rules. This is what often makes politics difficult to comprehend as the motive of nations in the many incidents, that take place, with very few principles set in stone, mean that one does not have a comprehensive framework to view events. This is not possible in politics because unlike other disciplines politics is too fluid to have fixed principals. However this discipline does have some general principals, which allows one to observe events as they happen and then act as a guide in understanding their circumstances. Pursuing the political events as they happen becomes central to political analysis as the general principals in this discipline apply on these issues. The question is what to follow and focus on. Many attempt to follow all the events including those that do not influence global politics, these maybe useful to follow for domestic or local analysis but the competition between the world’s powers is the heart of political analysis, all news and events related to these need to be pursued.
In pursuing the news one should be careful in how some facts are reported. Many news outlets have agendas, whilst many journalists may present some facts in a way to propagate a particular view. This can be overcome through cross referencing facts from multiple sources, it also requires one to differentiate between opinion and fact. In pursuing the events one is looking for what actions took place in order to interpret it, therefore care should be taken in differentiating between fact and opinion.