Major powers should strategically take the lead in stabilizing 2023

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From many perspectives, the world is in danger of being drawn into long-term trouble right before our eyes. Greater risk of outbreak of new conflicts bubbles amid a lingering pandemic, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict and the plague of soaring inflation and an energy crisis.

Against this complex backdrop, what will 2023 look like? Who should we look toward as the anchor of stability in the world? Global Times (GT) reporter Yu Jincui recently interviewed Nabil Fahmy (Fahmy),former foreign minister of Egypt and visiting senior fellow at Institute for Global Cooperation and Understanding at Peking University. Fahmy shared with Yu his insights about the pressing issues. This is the third piece of the Global Times series “Looking for an anchor of stability in 2023.”

GT:What’s the black swan event in 2022 in your eyes? And how do you think it has influenced the world?

Fahmy: I believe the situation in Ukraine is the black swan event of the past year because it brought back military confrontation to the European theater and revived the Cold War at the same time. For me it was the symptom of a disoriented, almost dysfunctional world order which continued to be based on post-WWII concepts of the balance of power and spheres of influence. So in fact many were surprised by it, and I had not projected it, but I was convinced that the world order had become increasingly unstable.

GT: In your opinion what will be the most flash point in 2023?

Fahmy: I will offer two flash points of note.

One is the use of weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine, or the substantial targeting of Russian facilities within Russia’s traditional borders. These could trigger a chain reaction of escalation that could easily spiral out of control.

The other flash point is egregious measures toward the Palestinians and the Sacred Haram al Sharif (also known as the Temple Mount) by the new right-wing Israeli government. These measures could easily provoke another intifada in addition to very high tension and confrontation with its neighbors.

GT: In your opinion, what will be the biggest opportunity next year?

Fahmy: If wisdom prevails and the tensions caused by the Ukraine situation instigate strategic and creative thinking about a new world order, this would be a tremendous opportunity that needs to be embraced by global leadership like United Nations Secretary General, China’s leadership and leaders from the developing world such as those of Egypt, Brazil and India.

GT: What’s your biggest concern for year 2023?

Fahmy: I think the world is facing a Perfect Storm with the breakdown of the global international order, regional imbalances and challenges and domestic problems all at the same time. The world is moving toward more disorder based on transactional power and material politics, while disrespecting international law and the United Nations Charter will create an era of disorder preventing us from dealing with global challenges like poverty, nuclear proliferation and climate change.

GT: Which country will contribute more to global stability in 2023 and be the anchor of stability, the US or China?

Fahmy: These global challenges are insurmountable significantly if the major powers don’t significantly and strategically take the lead. They will suffer the most from the consequences of inaction because they are the biggest and strongest powers. Both need to embrace policies based on “a balance of interests” rather than “a balance of power” and this should include the interests of the whole world at large.

GT: The Middle Eastern region witnessed a regional milestone event in 2022, that was the holding of the first ever China-Arab summit. How will it change the global power structure and influence international relations in 2023?

Fahmy: The summit was of major significance. Cooperation between China and the Arab world has increased exponentially over the years. China is the largest trading partner of many Middle Eastern countries, and the region is China’s main source of energy. The significance of the summit was multifold it was a political statement highlighting cooperation, it expanded and diversified areas of cooperation and it was substantially forward-looking. In essence it was a highly attractive action plan which I am confident will be mutually beneficial.

GT: What kind of inspirations will the milestone summit offer to China-Arab relations and China-Gulf Cooperation Council relations in 2023?

Fahmy: It was a source of confidence for the Arab world, because it reflected Arab readiness and capacity to diversify. It also was a source of inspiration because it talked of shared goals, mutual respect and opened many new avenues of cooperation. It was also an opportunity for Arab leaders and the community to meet and better understand China’s consistently growing leadership.