The current situation in the Middle East is as constant - all conflicts with everyone, no matter how changeable - countries, personalities and circumstances change. World media attention is usually focused on the main information-rating zones or people. Meanwhile, in the region, there is a mass of events that remain out of sight, since those who notice what is happening "on the surface" are not too oriented in real politics.
Consider some of the situations that are poorly covered or completely missed by the press, based on the work of experts of the institute A. Bystrov, P. Ryabov and Yu. Shcheglovina.
Fezzan without vendetta
In Libya, at the time of Hajj, there is a clear lull. It is not connected with the entry into force of the agreement between the Commander-in-Chief of the House of Representatives in Tobruk H. Haftar and the Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord (PNS) F. Saraj about the formation of a common governing body of the country, concluded with the mediation of the UAE two months ago. The parties gather with the forces on the eve of the new battles of the autumn-winter season. The prospects for peaceful coexistence between Tobruk and Tripoli are questionable not only because of the ambitions of their leaders, but also of different approaches to the political management model of Libya by the main foreign sponsors - and not only through Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – ARE.
In Libya, France and Italy compete not only for the supremacy of their creatures (Paris supports Haftar, and Rome for Saraj), but also for the sake of strengthening their influence in Fezzan. This region, unlike Cyrenaica and Tripolitania, the former colonies of Italy, was in the zone of interest of France. Rome’s blocking of Paris’s attempts to establish control over Haftar raises the question of the beginning of the internal European struggle for domination in Libya. Paris, the main architect of the Libyan policy of which is Foreign Minister J.-I. Le Drian, while fighting with Rome loses.
In mid-August, the Italians managed to reanimate the "Rome Pact". In March, the two main tribal formations of Fezzan, the aulude Suleiman and Tubu, concluded an agreement on the formation of the Border Guard, which, with appropriate funding, equipment and training provided by Italy, should become a buffer along the southern border of the country, preventing illegal migration from Africa through Libya to Europe . African transit after reaching an agreement between Ankara and the EU on migration issues is a major burden. Up to 70, the percentage of migrants enters the Old World through this route.
Later, with the fulfillment of the agreement, problems began, not without the efforts of the French agents in the Aulad tribe. The tribes began to demand additional finances from Rome, mutual accusations of blood feuds rained down, etc. The fate of the Rome Pact, the implementation of which made Italians key players in southern Libya, was unclear. In August, Rome managed to localize this problem. At a meeting in the Eternal City 26 of August, representatives of the auluad Suleiman and Tubu (the Tuareg were present as observers) agreed to reject mutual claims and vendettas, which opened up the possibility of joint patrolling the Libyan border with the Sahel zone. The price of the issue is Italy’s financial guarantees for the payment of direct compensations to “the families and relatives of the victims” in tribal clashes.
Rome opens the official mechanism for bribing tribal formations in the south of Libya. According to the agreement, two special accounts are opened in the Central Bank of Libya, payments will be made to the tribes, according to the lists they submit, which are endorsed by the representative of the Saraj in Fezzan A. Cajman. Accounts are needed as permanent guarantees to the tribes. Money through them will go tribal sheikhs. Subsequently, such operations are planned to be conducted through direct financial support from the Saraj government (that is, Rome) to “the municipalities of Fezzan to combat illegal migration.” The dominance in Fezzan allows Italians to guarantee the safety of their companies in the oil and gas fields of this part of Libya.
Rome made an important step in the fight against Paris in Libya. France responded with the help of Egypt by the Kaddafists. On August 21, the former ambassador of Libya to Chad and the curator of the Libyan intelligence services in Fezzan during the time of Gaddafi G.S. Gren traveled to N'Djamena to meet with the Chadian president I. Déby. He was accompanied by a representative of the tribal elite of the warfalla H. al-Mabrouk Yunus and the Libyan intelligence services of the former Jamahiriya. Debi is a supporter of Haftar, his militants are fighting on the side of the field marshal in Libya. At the meeting, it was about establishing under the auspices of the French interaction between the Warfalla and Tuba tribes in the border area and along the perimeter of the Chad-Libyan border. Debi through the ministers - ethnic tuba must guarantee the consent of the tribe's sheikhs to this scheme. Paris is trying to create an analogue of the “Frontier Guard” in Fezzan, to tear the tuba from the alliance with the auliad Suleiman and bury the “Rome Pact”.
Kurdistan and its debts
On the eve of the independence referendum, the Government of Iraqi Kurdistan (IC) is systematically resolving financial problems with foreign companies specializing in the extraction and transportation of hydrocarbons. It is about restructuring and paying off Erbil’s debts, which have become one of the main reasons for the actual freezing of foreigners in the IC in the last two years.
The Ministry of National Resources of the Kurdish Autonomy reached an agreement on restructuring and partial repayment of debts with a consortium of Pearl Petroleum, representing Austrian and German capital. He demanded to pay damages and costs in 26,5 billion dollars, arising from unplanned production activities, delays in the implementation of the project and unpaid by the government IC accounts. As a result, compensation amounted to 2,2 billion. Erbil agreed to pay 600 millions at once, to contribute 400 millions more as an investment. BNN 1,2 will be offset by transferring a share of Erbil's revenue from gas sales to a consortium for a limited time. Earl Petroleum receives a license to develop two promising fields. In the future, it will become the second gas producer in Iraq and is expected to increase its production and sale by 160 percent. The contract with the consortium extended to 2049 year.
In August, Erbil agreed on debt restructuring with Turkish companies DNO and Genel Energy by reducing the share of the government of Iraqi Kurdistan in the section on profits and payments of financial tranches. Along with an active campaign to resolve problems with foreign firms, Erbil is trying to attract Rosneft and Gulf Keystone Petroleum to its hydrocarbon market. In the latter case, it is a question of fulfilling obligations to the Arabian monarchies, primarily the UAE, in connection with the financing by them of the greater part of the expenses for the forthcoming referendum.
The results of the past year for the hydrocarbon market of the Kurdish autonomy were not very successful. To the volatility of oil prices and the unresolved financial disputes with foreigners, we must add data on the decline in projected hydrocarbon reserves at one of the largest fields, Tak-Tak, operated by Pearl Petroleum. Plus, from 600, thousands of barrels of oil per day produced in the IC, a considerable part falls on the Kirkuk fields, which Baghdad does not consider to be within the jurisdiction of Erbil. This area, which Iraqi Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds consider their own, will soon become a hotbed of internal confrontation.
Erbil’s actions to establish its hydrocarbon market are linked to the upcoming independence referendum on September 10, which, apparently, will be supported by all major parties in Iraqi Kurdistan. According to a number of data, the Goran party, which boycotted the approval of the voting results, changed its position after the commitments of M. Barzani and all his close relatives to not run for office as head of the region. The activity of the Kurdish government to solve the problem of debts to foreign companies with damage to their own finances is associated with the creation of a favorable attitude to the referendum in the European and Turkish business communities among the major players on the hydrocarbon market. With the opinion of the EU and Ankara on the “need to preserve the unity of Iraq”, this seems to be ineffective. But due to the compromise with foreign companies and resuscitation of the process of extraction and export of hydrocarbons, Erbil is trying to strengthen its position in negotiations with Baghdad on the recognition of the results of the referendum. An attempt to reach an agreement with the central authorities of Iraq failed in early August.
The idea of Kurdish independence today is not shared by any of the leading international political forces (including the United States), except for the UAE, who are doing this to create problems for Turkey. The independence of the Kurds will have to deal with Baghdad, but he is not set to even discuss it. Erbil is currently unable to achieve financial self-sufficiency and security guarantees due to the weakness of the state apparatus, technical and geographical restrictions on the export of oil and gas, as well as low military potential.
Yemen does not accept
Scheduled for 31 in August, the flight from Riyadh of the “legitimate president” of Yemen, A. M. Hadi, to Aden was postponed half an hour before departure. Finding Hadi in Aden was one of the conditions of the deal between the Saudis and the UAE to save the Arab coalition. The crisis between them broke out about two months ago, when forces under the command of son Hadi Nasser attempted to take control of Aden airport, but were thrown back by South Yemeni formations with the help of UAE air force helicopters. Then Abu Dhabi demanded that Riyadh take the Hadi formation away from key positions in Aden, arguing that they support the Muslim Brotherhood in the person of the activists of the local Islah party, and also smuggle in Ukrainian weapons through the airport terminals. Abu Dhabi encouraged the creation of a “national government” in Aden, which was the last warning for KSA that the UAE would withdraw from the Arabian coalition with the organization of a new public entity on the territory of the former Democratic Republic of Korea.
During the whole of June and the beginning of July, the parties negotiated a compromise reached with great reputations for Riyadh, which did everything possible to preserve the alliance in Yemen. The condition that led the UAE to mitigate the requirements of "unconditional care" Hadi, was an ultimatum to Qatar: Riyadh agreed to this because of the desire to maintain an alliance with Abu Dhabi. For the return of Hadi and his government to Aden, KSA had to pay a consent to start negotiations with the former president of the country A. A. Saleh. At the same time, the Saudi contingent, who arrived in Aden last week to guard the complex of government buildings, could not take up positions in the area and at the last moment signaled to Riyadh that the operational situation "does not contribute" to the return of Hadi and his ministers there. Hence the urgent transfer of the departure of the "legitimate president" of the country.
The UAE does not comply with the terms of a compromise, which means that the prospects for its implementation are questionable. Abu Dhabi intensified training and equipping loyal South Yemeni militia, for which he hired several dozen former Iraqi officers who started to work in two training camps in Aden and Hadramouta. A significant part of them are wanted by the decree of 2003, the head of the American occupation administration P. Bremer. Among them are those who fought until recently in the units of the Islamic State (IG) banned in the Russian Federation. At the same time, the structures of E. Prins private security company continue to perform similar functions in Aden. A significant part of the Sudanese Expeditionary Corps in Yemen came under the command of the military from the UAE, although the initiator of their direction in Yemen was originally KSA.
It is difficult and with attempts to reach an agreement with Saleh about his withdrawal from the alliance with the Housits. A mass rally on the occasion of the anniversary of the founding of the General People’s Congress (WNK) in Sanaa 24 in August, which cost the former president four million dollars, was to show KSA and the UAE the potential of Saleh. But the Housewits did not like it: on August 31, their troops blocked Saleh’s residence in Sana'a with him and his team. At the same time, there is no close protection from the loyal Republican Guard. It is unclear where 30 thousands of guardsmen, whom Saleh allegedly pulled into the capital the day before, to protect the rally. The former president is under house arrest and is trying to convince the Housits that he was misunderstood. Hence his statements that “he is fully committed” to the fight against foreign invaders - Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Let us pay attention to the fact that the Saudi air forces, which for the last two years have been hunting for Saleh, are “silent”, trying to eliminate it. For this, they even used the bunker bombs ordered from the Americans, with which Saudi pilots destroyed shelters in the native village of Saleh and his residence in Sana'a while he was sitting in a converted bunker in the US embassy complex (American diplomats were evacuated from Sanaa after the active civilian phase war). Now Saleh is not hiding anywhere, he is sitting in a residence and no one is bombing him. This means that negotiations between him and Riyadh took place and were productive. In addition, the blocking of the Saleh residence occurred after the Housits received information that he gave orders to his units to leave positions and transfer them to the forces of the Arabian coalition (this happened in Taiz). So, the prospects for an alliance between the Housits and Saleh are still vague.
Syrian channels and niches
After the withdrawal of militants of the IG from the Lebanese region, Ersal in the Pentagon accused Moscow of violating "obligations for a joint battle with the Igilovites." At the same time, Washington refused in the past to cooperate with Moscow in the struggle against the IS, despite all the Russian initiatives. Earlier, the United States was silent about or welcomed such deals when they facilitated military operations to the Americans and their allies. An example of such a policy is the release of militants from Raqqah towards Deir-ez-Zor a month ago, when the actions of the Russian Aerospace Forces managed to minimize the damage to the besieged garrison of government forces in Deir-ez-Zor. Moscow, Damascus and Beirut responded to Washington with the same coin, and this is the correct algorithm for coexistence with the United States in the theater of military operations in Syria. It implies the priority of their own interests. There are more levers to complicate the US position in Syria from Russia and Iran. The Americans and their allies are pragmatists, and the evacuation of militants from Ersal under Bu-Kemal will make a shift in favor of adopting more intelligible forms of interaction with Russia. And in this evacuation, the Lebanese and Syrians acted more rationally than the Americans and the Kurds, releasing the Islamists from Raqqah. They set off a convoy of 17 buses, where 300 militants went with their families. The presence of women and children limits the ability of the US Air Force to strike a convoy. It is impossible to blame the Syrians and Russia for its bombardment. So the Lebanese and Syrians felt the "pain point" of the United States.
This is an important point, since the confessional exchange of the population is becoming a universal means of achieving a truce in Syria. Previously, in no local conflict other than Yugoslav, such schemes were not used. They can be put on the asset in Moscow and Damascus, along with the development of a mechanism of local reconciliation with tribal sheikhs and field commanders and the creation of de-escalation zones. US remain half measures. The forces of the international coalition led by them delivered a preemptive strike in order not to allow ISIS supporters evacuated from Lebanon to get to Syria. Such steps clearly cannot prevent the movement of militants, given that the Syrian government forces do not obstruct them.
For Americans, Bu-Kemal is a strategic point, control over which allows them to impede the movement of IS supporters from Syria to Iraq and back, while maintaining channels of logistics operations in an important region of Syria - Deir ez-Zor. A year ago, the US attempt to establish control over Bu Kemal failed. The forces of the Arab militia, which they trained in Jordan, retreated in order not to be surrounded. Then the Americans conducted a landing operation, which failed. Nevertheless, one must be prepared for their reciprocal, asymmetrical actions.
This is, firstly, the negative reaction of Baghdad. Iraqi Prime Minister H. Al-Abadi condemned the evacuation of militants. But with the presence of the Iranian lobby in Iraq, his reaction is formal. The transfer of militants under Bu Kemal will force the Iraqi army to establish control over the border with Syria, which is in the interests of Moscow and Tehran, especially if Shiite militia takes part in this. In addition, the United States can freeze support for the Lebanese army. The arrival to the presidential post in Lebanon of Hezbollah’s supporter M. Aoun, personnel appointments in the army and special services gave the actions of the Lebanese army and Shiite troops an offensive dynamic, which affected the outcome of the battles. The Pentagon denies this, but they will most likely reduce the support of the Lebanese army. And this opens up a niche for Russia in the Lebanese arms market.