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Opinion

Arabs amid Uprisings

Arabs amid Uprisings

For years now, Arabs have been going through consequent uprisings, on which they can’t cast a blind eye since it is on their land or near it, and affects the security and stability of their states and people.

Matter of the fact is that the Middle East has touched on uncharted territory, bringing the former regional system to an irreversible collapse. It is evident that the current costly state is transitional. Yet, it is early to predict the features of the new regional system as they depend on the result of the wars and confrontations in the region.

The ongoing Syria conflict helped with unveiling new revolutionary agendas and paved the way for grand changes in policies and strategies.

If anything, Syria’s civil war revealed the role of regional uprisings in Iran’s foreign policies aiming to turn it into a powerful country in a region the world remains concerned with its resources despite the talk of its waning importance.

Iran’s program was clear when it refused to change anything in the Syrian episode of this series. At the outset of the armed combat in Syria, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei informed an Arab visitor what means: Syria will remain the way it has always been, or it just won’t be for anyone.

Tehran tried to push its program into a wider and a more comprehensive stage by adding the Yemeni episode to what Iran considers its great conquests in the region, especially after it became impossible to create a loophole in Bahrain as part of its agenda to contain Saudi Arabia.

Iran considered the war in Syria a matter of life or death for its program which seeks a safe passage through Iraq and Syria, all the way to stationing on the Mediterranean Sea through Lebanon.

Indeed, the Iranian project instills fears of disrupting historical balances among the main components of the regions, especially after the Iranian winds managed to infiltrate into the national fabric of more than a state.

Tehran found its golden opportunity when the powerful countries didn’t restrict the nuclear agreement with Iran to continuing the regional revolution, which it resumed after the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

The Syrian tragedy provided the Russian Caesar with an opportunity to reshuffle international balance that was formed following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Vladimir Putin used till the end Barack Obama’s withdrawal tendencies and fear of being involved in the Syrian horror.

Russia intervened militarily in Syria and altered the trajectory of the war. It raised the slogan of “anti-terrorism”, but technically destroyed the dreams of the moderate Syrian opposition.

From Crimea to Ukraine and Syria, Russia sent a message saying that the era of autocracy is over, and so did the time of colored revolutions.

The U.S. seemed distant. Europe was struggling under the burden of immigrants and the increased number of those wanting to leave the European train.

The Iranian and Russian revolutions met on Arab and Syrian soil.

We can’t say that the goals are the same, but at the same time it is too soon to assume that the disagreement on a political solution for Syria and the future of its regime will cause a rift or collision.

Turkey found itself on a demarcation with the Russian and Iranian rebellions in Syria.

Obama’s policy towards the Kurd, and lack of the Atlantic’s motivation, helped in convincing Recep Tayyip Erdogan to turn the page on the past of friction between him and Putin, and go on to a stage of agreements and dancing over the Syrian arena.

The bitterness of the post-Turkish coup times increased the Turkish president’s inclination to go further than normalizing relations with Russia, Iran, and Iraq.

The question raised today is whether Ankara will proceed with its gradual departure from U.S. and Europe, to come closer to Russia and the “new truths” in the region. Or will it wait the options of the new Trump administration in dealing with the Russian and Iranian uprisings?

There is no doubt that hopelessness in an actual U.S. return to the region will make the Turkish changes something similar to a third coup in the region.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim’s visit to Baghdad two days ago was a reminder of something Dr. Ahmad al-Jalbi said a few years ago. Back then, Jalbi said that the Middle East is heading towards major changes that old accounts are not fit for.

“Put Iran and Iraq. Add to them Syria and Lebanon. Population, oil, gas and a strategic location. If you manage to convince Turkey of joining this group, even if just economically, Russia will understand that it is within its best interest to build stronger relations with such a giant group. It is clear that the U.S. wants a way out,” said Dr. Jalbi.

Arab citizens observe those changes and wonder about the Arab status in the region. There is no doubt that those in charge of the ‘revolutions’ are waiting for Trump to see if Washington would adjust its strategy. Certainly, any U.S. acceptance of the results of the revolutions will double the Arabs’ responsibility in preparing themselves to protect their status, security and stability.

Ghassan Charbel

Ghassan Charbel

Ghassan Charbel is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

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