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Friday, July 1, 2016

Petr Lvov -- The Far Reaching Consequences Brexit Will Have on the Middle East

01.07.2016 Author: Petr Lvov

The Far Reaching Consequences Brexit Will Have on the Middle East
Column: Politics
Region: Middle East

It seems that Ankara was the first understand that the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU would have far-reaching implications. The weakening European Union will not be able to oppose Washington’s actions in the Middle East, especially when Hillary Clinton is likely to become the next US president. Therefore, Ankara has immediately turned its attention toward Moscow by apologizing for the downed SU-24 warplane and expressed its readiness to pursue a strategic partnership with Russia. The Turks understand that they won’t have much leverage versus the US, a nation with different approaches to the situation in Syria, Iraq and the Middle East in general. Most importantly, Ankara is well aware of Washington’s plan to pursue the creation of a Kurdish state that will occupy Kurdish regions of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. But no regional player is going to feel comfortable enough around such a large geopolitical formation with a total population of 30 million people in the very heart of the Middle East. Russia doesn’t like this idea so much as well, if taking into account the pro-American posture of the Kurdish population of the region. Additionally, Israel will be pleased to obtain an ally in the form of the Kurdish state right at the center of the Arab World, undermining the positions of both Turkey and Iran.

A weakened Europe that will get weaker still by the day especially in political terms, cannot serve as a counterweight for US meddling across the region. Therefore regional players are now presented with a choice: they can subject themselves to Washington’s will or focus on establishing greater cooperation with Moscow, who is not forcing anyone to adhere to foreign democratic, moral and political values, and has made it a habit of respecting the sovereignty and the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states. After all, with the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, the active promotion and expansion of NATO toward the East and the inclusion of the North Atlantic alliance of former Soviet republics, followed by the Georgian crisis in 2008 and the actual separation of Donbass from Ukraine in 2014, the US has been burying the Europe created in 1945 in Yalta, in the aftermath of WWII.

Now the US is committed to collapse the Middle East as a system along with North Africa, the system created by London and Paris on the eve of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and embodied in the Sykes-Picot Agreement. First there was the US-British occupation of Iraq in 2003. This was followed by a wave of “Arab Springs” in 2011. The end result of this meddling is terrifying: Libya is a failed state now, Iraq is about to break into Sunnitostan, Shiitostan and Kurdistan, Egypt is living under the threat of the “Muslim Brotherhood,” Yemen may again break up into two parts – northern and southern, and the civil war in Syria is only leading to the disintegration of the country along ethnic and religious lines. Additionally, Sudan has collapsed, but there is also the prospect of the creation of a “Greater Kurdistan.” And then “democratization” will sweep Iran, given that almost a third of its population consists of Azerbaijanis living in the north-west of the country around Tabriz, while the south is home to several million Bellugi with counterparts in neighboring Pakistan, and in the east, Iran is densely populated with 2.5 million Kurds.

Americans will then try to break Saudi Arabia in 3-4 parts, which will be easier to control than a centralized state based in Riyadh. Especially since almost all the oil in Saudi Arabia is extracted in the Eastern Province (the historical name of the Al-Hiss), in the west before there was a moderate Sunni kingdom of Hijaz, which housed the two Islamic holy sites of Mecca and Medina, in the North and Northeast of the country a there was a kingdom with the capital in Al-Haile that was controlled by the Shammar tribal union, in the southwest (historical region of Al-Asir) there was a clan of al-Raschid, where several million Yemenis live now, including Shia Houthis and Shia Ismaili.

Ankara has realized that the only player that can stop the US plan to redraw the Middle East – is Russia. It is clear that the redrawing of the Middle East will be carried out when its principal players including Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Algeria are weakened. There are the growing ambitions of Saudi Arabia, which proclaimed itself the standard-bearer of the Sunni world by manipulating Sunni Arabs with an alleged Shia threat supposedly coming from Iran. This opposition is now shaping the whole situation in the region, including wars and conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. And when Hillary Clinton comes to power with her special ties to the Arabian monarchies of the Persian Gulf, the confrontation will only grow more tense.

Of course, one may wonder how Turkey, considered a Sunni state as well, and who has been working closely with Saudi Arabia and Qatar in Syria, could change its stance? As a matter of fact it can, since Riyadh and Doha have been using Ankara for its own purposes, while giving nothing in return. In addition, for almost 100 years that have passed since the time when Kemal Ataturk separated Islam from the state institutions, Turkey has become a secular country in many respects. Moreover, it has always wanted to become a EU member, but now Brexit appears to have buried those hopes. Yet, Turkey has a strong sense for its own national interests, for which it is willing to fight till the end. The only country that could potentially facilitate this cause is Russia.

The project that is now known as the EU is not dead yet, but it has sustained severe damage, therefore it will be impossible to predict whether it will recover or other states, following the example of the UK, will begin leaving the union as well. This trend is evident, as well as a tendency toward the disintegration of a number of multi-national states: the UK, Spain, Belgium and even Italy, where northerners and the Venetians do not want to live under the authority of Rome. And if due to active steps of the United States hundreds of thousands of Syrian and Iraqi refugees will flee to Europe through Turkey again, including tens of thousands of terrorists, Ankara will find itself in a peculiar position. Turkey’s economy is seriously weakened now by the sanctions Moscow imposed upon it in return for the downing of Russia’s Su-24 warplane over Syria. Turkey’s agriculture, tourism industry and construction business won’t be able to recover from those sanctions without the normalization of its relations with Russia. Especially since the restoration of the strategic partnership with Russia will lead to the resumption of the construction of the Turkish steam pipeline to southern Europe, which will mark the end of Ukraine along with the rapid rise of a prosperous Turkey.

It is clear that the creation of an axis between the two countries – Russia and Turkey,  is clearly not enough to completely disrupt the implementation of US plans to redraw the Middle East. Obviously it is necessary that this is joined by a powerful Iran, which will soon have to face Washington’s attempts to “liberalize” the ruling imams, a process already underway in Iraq and Syria. In the future this “union” can be joined by Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan, who have already been experiencing preparations for “color revolutions” on their soil. This association, with a total population of 380 million people, and with huge hydrocarbon resources and strong armies, will be more than capable to defend its collective interests. Moreover, its formation would further weaken the EU and its dependence on the US, which may trigger a  process toward a common Eurasian space from the Atlantic to the Pacific, which Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has recently mentioned. Turkey seems to be moving in this direction now, but it’s imperative that this push is joined by Iran. The European Union will find itself in a truly difficult position soon since it won’t be able to continue its existence in its present form. Brussels clearly has taken too much authority for itself, and the EU’s expansion eastward has led to the inclusion of poor, but ambitious states such as Poland and Romania, not to mention the Baltic states that have put the European Union in a precarious economic position. Time will do its work now, but instead of waiting one can prepare for what is sure to come.
Peter Lvov, Ph.D in political science, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.

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