The emergence of the Global South

Bosko Jaksic / Photo: MIA

A new geostrategic partnership is being built beyond the reach of the US dollar and the US Navy. It is the bloc that could become the biggest threat to US interests.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine caused a wide range of reactions in the world. While the West is mobilized to support Kiev and punish Moscow, much of the so-called Global South either does not want to be dragged into a war they say is not theirs, or is even giving diplomatic and economic support to Vladimir Putin's regime.

Can Ukraine engage the Global South? How much influence does Kiev have on Delhi, Brazil or Jakarta?

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, with the recent diplomatic offensive, which took him to London, Rome, Paris, Berlin, Jeddah and to Hiroshima at the G-7 summit, secured the support of rich Western countries.

"Unfortunately, there are some in the world, but also here, among you, who turn a blind eye to illegal annexations," Zelensky said in mid-May, during a surprise visit to the Arab League summit in Jeddah.

The Global South has so far been very engaged in seeking climate justice, but has remained on the sidelines in the colonial war waged by Russia against Ukraine. He sees things from a different perspective: the countries that support Ukraine are mostly the same ones that colonized the Global South.

"What happened in the United States is that the framework -- democracy versus autocracy -- determined Biden's position and his foreign policy, but I don't think that's true for much of the rest of the world. It's not a framework that they identify with in many ways," said Rachel Rizzo of the European Center of the Atlantic Alliance.

The new gathering first started on an ideological basis between Moscow and Beijing, where they do not hide the emergence of a common front against the unipolar world dominated by America. They offer their "traditional values" as an alternative to the "neoliberal elites". Globally integrated China is in a more favorable position because it does not have to exclusively integrate Eurasia, unlike isolated Russia.

The BRICS countries – Brazil, India, South Africa, China and Russia – are increasingly challenging the West's global dominance, both political and financial. They are becoming a serious rival of the G-7, the group of the most developed countries in the world.

Space is being opened for countries like India, Turkey or Saudi Arabia, which are strong regional powers, but not powerful enough to shape the world order. They do not hide their ambition, in cooperation with China and Russia, to participate in the reshaping of the post-Western world order. They demand reform of the United Nations system.

South Africa caused much controversy when it held joint military exercises with Russia and China in February - the anniversary of Putin's aggression. Riyadh unpleasantly surprised Washington when it hosted the president of Venezuela. Many countries, such as Qatar, Mali, Burkina Faso or Colombia, are trying to extract economic benefits by refusing to take sides in the Ukrainian war.

The intelligence unit of the London-based "Economist" concludes that net support for Russia increased in the year after the aggression and that these countries make up 31 percent of the world's population. Russia's sphere of influence is expanding thanks to a more aggressive campaign and engaged diplomacy. Putin's propaganda insists that Western sanctions caused the global energy crisis and threatened food security. The West is failing to block the Kremlin's narratives, the report says.

China, Russia, India, Iran and the countries of the Global South, through trade and transport, are building a new geostrategic partnership beyond the reach of the US dollar and the US Navy. It is a bloc that could become the biggest threat to US interests in decades.

In recent years, Washington has made the Indo-Pacific region the highest priority in its foreign policy and has sought to maintain the global balance by keeping Eurasia divided. The US still leads a coalition of democratic allies, but on the fringes of Eurasia: rivals located in the center are coming together.

Countries of the Global South, both rich and poor, are becoming targets of both rival blocs. Their value increases. They become crucial in the conflict between Fortress Eurasia and the so-called "free world". Delhi, Riyadh or Ankara know how to skilfully take advantage of the opportunity presented to them.

Putin's invasion only accelerated the creation of a new Eurasian core. The war brought the military dimension of their cooperation to the fore.

Russia and North Korea have strengthened ties because the Russians need artillery shells. Moscow and Tehran are building a "comprehensive military partnership," as CIA Director William Burns described it.

China has refused to support the Russians militarily, fearing US and European sanctions, but provides non-combat support to Moscow, which in turn helps Putin's war effort. The presence of senior Chinese military experts at the summit between Putin and President Xi Jinping in Moscow has fueled speculation of arms and advanced technology exports - which Beijing continues to deny.

China and Russia are simultaneously restructuring international trade and expelling the dollar from each other's transactions. They are joined by Iran, which is experimenting with the Chinese, and Saudi Arabia has announced that it will charge for oil exports to China in yuan, a currency that took over the leading role on the Moscow stock exchange in February. An economic system is being built that will not crowd out the dollar, but will shift a significant portion of business to the yuan, making China's allies more resistant to any US punitive measures.

A peaceful solution to the Ukrainian war is a distant prospect. A ceasefire does not mean peace. No authority in Kiev will accept to hand over the territories now controlled by Russia. The war may be frozen, but it is unlikely to end with a negotiated settlement. A "Korean solution" is possible, implying newly drawn demarcation lines and an armistice. Such a solution means confrontation and tensions for years to come. Ukraine remains a long-term test of relations between Russia and the West.

What is emerging is a new order that leaves the confines of the Cold War, the battle between democracy and totalitarianism. The identity politics of the new "middle superpowers" are strengthening. It will matter more to the Global South than the ideological divisions of the past. Here China is positioning itself as a leader. The West will do everything to prevent this from happening and preserve the liberal order. We will attend more to the new world disorder than to a new world order.

(The author is a journalist)


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