March 13th, 2017 – Fort Russ News –
– Op-ed by Denis Churilov for FRN –
Recently, both Israeli and Turkish leaders came to Moscow to see Putin and to discuss things with him, in regards to Syria and the Middle Eastern affairs in general. That’s… interesting.
What were they discussing? What each side is concerned about? Let’s take a quick look at the current situation in the Middle East.
Currently, the Turks are concerned about Kurds, as the US is betting on them in the fight against ISIS (by providing them with arms, and such), so the Kurdish factor is growing in size and influence (which may also turn into a potential hazard for Assad, as some Kurdish groups that live in Northern Syria have been working towards becoming independent).
Israelis, in their turn, are hugely concerned about the strengthening of the Iranian factor in the Middle East.
The whole situation with Iran is beyond hilarious. It is a Shia state that used to be counterbalanced by Sunni Iraq, when Saddam Hussein was in power (he used to be a US puppet back in the 1980s, actually, before he thought the he could be the master of his own game; poor Saddam). But, since the US destroyed Saddam’s government in 2003, Iraq lost its geopolitical weight in the region. Now its official leaders are pro-Shia, and they are rather friendly towards Iran.
So we have this twisted configuration – Shia Iran is on good terms with the Iraqi government, as well as with the Syrian government of Assad, who is also a Shia (well, he comes from the Alawite establishment, actually, which is viewed as a separate branch of Islam, but, for political purposes, they’ve been classifying themselves as a kind of Shia in the last 10-15 years anyway, to find common ground with Iran). What we are seeing there is already a decent Shia conglomerate, with both major groups, Persians/Iranians and Arabs, getting along on a socio-religious level. And this conglomerate is also backed by Russia, to a certain extent. It’s a nightmare for both Israel and the US with their neoconservatives (Turkey isn’t too happy about that either).
Apart from Iran, Israel fears and hates, pretty much, everyone in the region. But Israel is a state that is on good terms with the US, and it is also on “okay” terms with Russia.
Turkey has been somewhat strategically ambivalent in recent years. They were pro-US and anti-Russian from the very beginning of the Arab Spring and all the way into the mid-2016, and then they appeared to do a full 180-turn, becoming anti-US and friendly towards Russia overnight after the attempted coup last year, which Erdogan vocally blamed on the CIA; that’s rather interesting, considering that Turkey is still a part of NATO, a US-led organisation, especially in light of the recent events in the Netherlands. [Does this mean that Erdogan is still being duplicitous? – ed. JF]
How are they going to stay afloat in such a sticky situation with Kurds, while blackmailing the EU with migrant flows, having Syria holding a huge grunge against them and Russia not fully trusting them after what happened in November 2015 – while also experiencing domestic political drama? Time will tell.
And then there are also such wonderful states such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Both the Saudis and Qatar are fully under the protection of the US, both extremely Sunni (radically so, even), and both want to watch Syria burn – and its government either gone or beheaded, so that Qatar could transport cheap gas through Syrian territory all the way into the EU, most members of which are also NATO states.
But those gas pipeline aspirations are not in line with the Russia’s strategic vision, and, paradoxically, the US isn’t really interested in seeing Qatar succeed with their gas project either, because that will make both Qatar and the EU more economically independent from the United States.
Well, at least Russia is back with its global game, with the leaders of the key states traveling to Moscow and discussing issues with Putin. Having a multi-polar world once again will hopefully balance and, eventually, stabilise the situation worldwide.
Either way, never a boring month in the Middle East.