25.06.2015 Author: Maxim Egorov

Middle East: Conceptual Dead-end of the US Strategy

434241111In recent decades, the US Middle East policy, according to Henry Kissinger, has been based on three pillars: ensuring the security of Israel as a major ally of Washington in the Middle East, preventing the emergence in the Middle East geopolitical space of a strong and independent regional power, including one that could be a challenge to Israel, as well as ensuring the free flow of hydrocarbon exports from the region to the countries of the historic and dominant West.

To this stratagem of the ways to ensure US hegemony in the region, significant adjustments were made after September 11, 2001 the form of fight against terrorism and regimes supporting it (except Saudi Arabia and Qatar), a systematic line was added to overthrow “dictatorial” regimes, in other words, those objectionable to the White House (although the US has always been engaged in this), as well as the “democratic” reorganization of the region, which was packed into the concept of the “Group of Eight” partnership and “Greater Middle East and North Africa” adopted at Sea Island, June 11, 2004. This was stated in the pompous declaration made at the time: “Partnership for Progress and a Common Future with the Region of the Broader Middle East and North Africa”.

It was planned to use it to impose neo-liberal values ​​on the region after the defeat of Iraq in 2003, from which it was planned to fashion a role model for other Middle Eastern states, as if from plasticine.

And what do we see 11 years after the beginning of the implementation of the concept, after almost seventy years of history of the United States’ postwar construction of its “own” Middle East?

Instead of flourishing neo-liberal democracy after the externally initiated tsunami of the “Arab Spring”, we have witnessed the destruction of four countries (Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen), rampant barbarism, religious obscurantism, mass destruction of historical and cultural monuments, persecution of ethnic and religious minorities, particularly Christians, unprecedented growth of interfaith conflict, especially between Sunnis and Shiites, and many other things that are difficult to attribute to the concept of progress and democracy.

The region, after the “democratic” experiment delivered to it, in fact lies in ruins, in which dozens, if not hundreds, of extremist and terrorist groups have blossomed, which are increasingly being dominated by the so-called “Islamic State”, a terrorist entity that managed in one year – from June 2014 to June 2015 – to capture half of Iraq and a significant part of the territory of Syria.

In other words, the result is the direct opposite of the declared objectives. Of course, conspiracy theorists might say that this is what secret forces, that is to say the powerful banks and multinational corporations that stand behind “Uncle Sam”, were pursuing in the first place: fragmentation of the region, weakening of national states that prevent the spread of the influence of global capital, the creation of conditions for unchallenged penetration into Middle East markets.

Yes, everything seems to converge and does not contradict the three goals of American policy for the last ten years, outlined in the beginning of the article: Israel’s security has been strengthened, as its direct opponents, Syria and Iran, are now busy with their own problems, none of the major Arab countries (except Saudi Arabia) can qualify for independent leadership, and the free flow of hydrocarbons continues even from defeated Libya!

However, upon closer examination, the work of this system of “controlled chaos”, even if someone conceived it in this way, is extremely unstable, it does not fully meet the long-term interests of the United States, including major corporations, and can lead to unpredictable results.

Firstly, we are approaching the moment when Iran will get out of the sanctions regime after closing the file on the INP (most likely this will happen according to the previous timeline or with insignificant delay). Moreover, it will not come out as Washington expected when it engaged in secret talks with Iran in Oman in 2013. Iran is unlikely to become a pillar of US policy in the region, despite the pro-Western sympathies of its seventh president Hassan Rouhani. Most likely, the regime, led by a firm hand of Ayatollah Khamenei, will attribute the country’s coming out of international isolation to its successes and continue to increase the economic and military-political potential of the country, its regional influence with the Shiite ideological and political component, as it did after Washington “took down” its main regional enemy – Saddam Hussein.

This won’t bring any benefits to the White House that hoped for an internal transformation of the regime of the ayatollahs into a Western-style democracy – whether by the growing influence of pro-Western forces, or through a “colour revolution”. And of course, it cannot be claimed that the regime will guard Western interests, and even give up its allies – Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah.

In other words, from the protracted crisis maintained under the shadow of a struggle by the international community for the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program, Tehran will emerge robust and will use to its advantage the situation of controlled chaos created by the efforts of the United States.

The “Islamic state” will also use this situation to its advantage, and not only is it the antithesis of Western democracy, but also seems to be beginning to emerge from the control of its curators, which conceived it as a tool to weaken Iran and sunder the “Shia arc”. It has acquired new targets in Saudi Arabia, as evidenced by its recently organized terrorist attacks in the Eastern (Shiite) Province of the KSA.

And most importantly, the United States managed through its actions to not only break up the region, provoking an avalanche of destructive processes with the war in Iraq, but also to undermine the credibility of its main allies there, above all Saudi Arabia. Barack Obama will literally have to “spread himself thin” to, on the one hand, continue the policy of flirting with Iran and, on the other hand, reassure his Saudi and other Sunni friends in the Arabian Peninsula, arguing that the US remains willing to defend them against all external threats.

He isn’t good at this, as evidenced by the pilgrimage of representatives of the Persian Gulf to Moscow and the recent arrival of the heir to the thrown of the KSA Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in St. Petersburg for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

And even Saudi Arabia, earlier a trustworthy ally of Washington, is becoming less and less trusting. It has, moreover, fully accepted the philosophy of a multipolar world and has ambitions to become one of the poles, namely the Arab-Sunni pole, which it will form around itself and not at the orders of the United States.

It is becoming obvious to Washington that the policy of provoking the “colour revolutions” and the following chaos is starting to work against its interests. Further destruction of the region will not only strengthen anti-Western forces and stimulate the growth of terrorist threats, but also lead to the loss of the massive markets in the region, where the United States continues to pump the most modern weapons in unimaginable quantities.

Washington has one way out – to seek cooperation with Russia. But to do so there is an urgent need to extinguish the conflict in Ukraine, to get the current Ukrainian authorities to fulfil the Minsk agreements, to abandon plans for NATO expansion and the construction of a missile defence system in Europe, and to refrain from provoking military tensions on the Russian borders. Only with this turn of events will Moscow present the necessary resources and the opportunity to (the willingness to do so is present even now) more seriously address the stabilization of the Middle East, the fight against “Islamic State”, and the elimination of the burgeoning risk of Sunni-Shiite confrontation.

Maxim Egorov, a political commentator on the Middle East and contributes regularly for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.