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What Arab World is Desired by the International Players?

What Arab World is Desired by the International Players?

Saturday, 13 April, 2019 - 04:00

Geographical distances may be long, and political rhetoric may differ; but we, as Arabs, have to understand the two central realities in political actions:

1-    The nature of the interest networks, related intentions and strategies, as well as maneuvers used to cover them when and where needed.

2-    The mechanism of decision making, and the institutions, channels, traditions, and political, cultural, religious and financial loyalties that underpin it.  

Without understanding these realities politics becomes a ‘dangerous hobby’, if not a fatal absurdity. It is never about wishful thinking and being optimistic thanks to sweet talk, goes beyond claiming ‘brotherhood’ and ‘friendship’. As examples, we find before us three cases that deserve objective analysis far away from wishful thinking and optimism, and they are those of Libya, Syria and Yemen.

In the last few days, a lot was said after the offensive launched by the Libyan National Army, headed by Marshal Khalifa Haftar, intended to take control of the capital Tripoli and eliminate the armed groups there. But the offensive was met by a reserved international reaction. Such a reserved reaction, as expressed by the UN Security Council, points to the fact that there is no clear vision in the world’s major capitals as to how a future settlement should look like; and that despite Europe’s well known concern about the issues of terrorism and refugees.

European and other governments in the international community, due to interest-based and ideological considerations, seem both unconvinced of a decisive military solution in Libya, and are in disagreement regarding the future regional ‘scenario’ for the Libyan situation. At least, they are unwilling to see a decisive military victory that favors one regional party in the Middle East and North Africa over another, in spite of the ongoing criticism of ‘unruly’ extremist armed groups and their alleged links with what is called ‘terrorist’ organizations.

In Syria, despite a multitude of active regional and international actors on the ground and in decision making, what remains unseen is far larger and more dangerous and worrying from what is in the open. Here, the overall situation is both confusing and perplexing, especially, the sinister Russian activities, including Moscow’s initiatives, ‘accords’ and animosities. Under Vladimir Putin, Moscow’s relationship remains enigmatic with Iran, dubious with Israel, contradictory with America, as well as conflicting Turkish and Kurdish ambitions.

Supposedly, Iran’s expansionist and ‘colonial’ project isn’t a secret anymore. Eight years of an accelerated systematic displacement has resulted in a clear change in Syria’s demographic fabric, the victims of which have been around 13 million uprooted Sunni Muslims. Then, earlier this week an article published in Foreign Policy suggested that Iran’s project has entered a new phase in southern Syria.

In conjunction with Washington’s recognition of the Golan Heights as part of Israel, FP’s article talks about the deployment by the Damascus regime – backed by Iran and Russia – of around 1,500 former ISIS fighters on the eastern borders of the Druze-inhabited Suwayda, after their evacuation from Baghouz in southeast Syria.

Last year, during the confrontation between the Damascus regime and ‘The Men of Dignity’ Druze movement – founded in 2012 in opposition to Druze fighting against their Syrian brethren outside their province – the regime transported ISIS from Daraa province’s border areas to the same area east Suwayda; and colluded in their massacres against Druze civilians. The regime’s intention then, as it is now, was to blackmail the Druze and force them to seek its protection and submit to its conditions, otherwise they would suffer further massacres and uprooting.

Iran’s expansionist project intersects with the intentions of Damascus, as proven by reports of naturalization, settlement, ‘Shiitification’, and land grabbing operations. Thus, as the map of a ‘future Syria’ is being prepared, with Turkey in the north, Iran in central Syria, and the Kurds in the northeast, the fate of southern Syria may be about to be decided.

Two questions remain, however, the first is where would Iran’s ambitions stop? …and the second is what is the cost of satisfying Israel? Regardless of the answer the conspiratorial deal would one way or another, affect the Druze in Suwayda to the east and the Mount Hermon eastern slopes bordering the occupied Golan to the west.

Finally, let’s talk about Yemen. Some days ago the US Congress voted to end all military assistance to the ‘Coalition Forces’ fighting there. This step is strange but not surprising.

It is strange because US lawmakers – whether Republican or Democrat – must know well enough by now the background of Yemen’s present crisis, and are aware of its political, military, sectarian and ethnic dimensions. They regularly receive reports, data and updated figures, not to mention hearing the loud boasts of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) top brass; through all these they know that allowing the Houthis to prevail means handing over the strategic Bab Al-Mandeb Strait to Iran.

On the other hand, such a step from Congress is not surprising, because it represents a continuation of the ‘grey’ stance taken by the UN and the great western powers towards Yemen. Logically, had there been a serious western strategy it would have been reflected through initiatives and actions on the ground. Unfortunately, this is not reflected in what UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths is doing.

To conclude, one must say that the Arab world, as a whole, is going through exceptionally complicated circumstances, and is expected to pose serious global challenges in the next two decades. It is facing difficult problems such as population explosion, desertification, environmental pollution, and economic and educational regression, all of which may well feed further mass frustration, despair and extremism. Then, beside those internal problems, the Arab world has been an easy prey to regional and international hegemony projects that intersect one day and clash another. But, still the way the international community is dealing with this situation is neither serious nor responsible enough.

This is why many Arab youth distrust the international community as well as international legality. This is unfortunate, but seems understandable. And if things continue this way, we may well witness, collapsing state borders, ushering the collapse of states themselves. At this stage it would become impossible to put the genie back in the bottle!

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