The Atlantic Alliance and the Sino-Islamic Nexus

From the Hindu Kush to the Shores of Tripoli
by Tony Corn

Of all the theses and sub-theses put forward by Samuel Huntington in his seminal article on The Clash of Civilizations (1993), none turned out to be more controversial than his assertion concerning the emergence of a Sino-Islamic nexus based on an “arms-for-oil” quid pro quo, and composed of three core states: China, Pakistan and Iran. Yet, in less than two decades, the Sino-Islamic nexus has both broadened and deepened well beyond anything imagined by Huntington.

The “Chinafrica” phenomenon is but the most recent development. Following the adoption of a new Africa policy in 2006, China has managed in just a few years to overtake both the former colonial powers (Britain and France) and the United States to become Africa’s main trading partner.

In 2011, for the first time in history, a Chinese warship entered the Mediterranean – ostensibly to help evacuate 36,000 nationals from Libya. In the not-too-distant future, China may well seek to secure a naval base in Tripoli for the very same reasons that led France in 2009 to secure a naval base in Abu Dhabi. As of this writing, France and Britain are the only two European countries which appear to have realized a) that Beijing’s determination to protect its nationals and promote its interests will logically lead China to seek a permanent military presence “West of Suez,” and b) that Libya, the country with the largest oil reserves in Africa, happens to be run by a dictator who expressed support for a Sino-Islamic nexus as early as 1994.

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