Vladimir Avatkov, Tatyana Tyukaeva: Middle Eastern pie is divided without Russia
The US "and the company" practically control the situation in the Middle East with rare exceptions; Russia is trying, though not always convincingly enough, to defend its interests in this "exception", the future of which is still uncertain. There are no doubts in the “non-regional regional” leadership of Americans in the region, the “new” regime in Egypt is another confirmation of this.
After winning the most "free and fair" presidential election for the entire history Egypt, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Mursi, continues the debate in the world political and scientific circles about what is "most likely" and "likely" waiting for the Egyptians. In parallel, the criticism of the leader of the Freedom and Justice Party, Mursi, who has become an Islamizer and therefore the main threat to the future of Egypt, has become, in the mouths of some Arab media, including the Egyptian Al-Ahram, “savior of ideals”. February Revolution, "able to bring the future of his country into line with the name of his party. It is becoming ever clearer that deciding the fate of a key Arab country in the Middle East, the newly elected Egyptian president will be at least not alone, but as a maximum - “by permission” of the de facto ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (AFEF).
The Islamic press in the Arab countries has been frightened by the Western press for years. After the victory of the Islamists in the Egyptian parliamentary elections 2011-2012. one had the impression - not without the efforts of the same journalists who were talented to fan the problem - that, having escaped "to freedom" after so many years of illegal status, they are the driving force of Egyptian society, capable of sweeping the existing system and challenging the military controlling the authorities. In parallel, in the Egyptian direction, the Turks and the Saudis (and other floodplains, mainly Qataris), who are fighting for leadership in the region, each became more active in their own ways. Ankara, having managed in a relatively short time to advance in cooperation with Cairo in many areas (ranging from rapidly growing economic ties and ending to a military-political dialogue), as well as presenting the most successful - economically and politically - development model, has obviously bypassed the ER in this direction -Riad with his attempts to smooth over the “crisis with recall” (May 2012) with billions of dollars in sponsorship.
On the eve of the first round of the presidential elections in Egypt (and even more so on its results) in the Arab, including Egyptian, mass media more and more articles appeared on the attractiveness of the "Turkish model" for the Arab Spring countries; the optimality of this model for the Egyptians was in fact not disputed . In addition to the stormy and highly successful foreign policy activities of Ankara in the region as a whole, the economic activity of Turkish campaigns and companies in Egypt - in particular, the common “love” for justice of Erdogan and Mursi (as reflected in the name of the Turkish and Egyptian parties) and personal contacts of the Prime Minister of Turkey with the Egyptian Islamists about the country's most likely "okolototretsky" future testified election campaign rhetoric of the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood. The future president of Egypt, in fact, repeated the basic tenets of Erdoganov's propaganda about Islam as a synonym for democracy, about adherence to the principles of freedom and respect for human rights, clearly not disdaining to be associated with the "brand" of the Turkish model. And the "street" is satisfied: the desire for democracy, whatever it means in the understanding of ordinary Egyptians, is obviously an attitude towards the Turks, on the whole is positive, respectively, and "Turkish democracy", criticized mainly in the Iraqi and "flood" media, which in Egypt is not accepted to listen, is quite attractive; Tahrir is more than satisfied with the pre-inaugural promises of the new president about the secularism of the state, about the rights of women and minorities, as well as the "popular" new leader "without body armor." In addition, the fears of the Western press about the emergence of the "Islamic state of Egypt" are dispelled, and "friendship" with economically important Turkey is ensured.
At the same time, the fact that Ahmed Shafik, the “ghost” of the Mubarak regime, representing the interests of the military, also entered the second round, called into question the democratization of Egypt according to the Turkish model. Supporters of Mursi put forward the main argument against Shafiq that his election as president would actually mean a return to the former regime, the Muslim Brotherhood also cultivated (and not unsuccessfully) in the Egyptian crowd, exhausted by deplorable social and economic conditions, the idea of a radical restructuring of the system. In fact, the victory in the first round of Mursi and Shafik reflects the situation in Egyptian society: the army and the Islamists are two powerful forces, the interests of each of which must be taken into account. The continued strong position of the army in the Egyptian system of public administration excludes at this stage the incarnation of the Erdoganovian model in Egypt, where the ruling Islamic party has actually pushed the military who once controlled the power of the political olimp.
Further developments have shown that the initial idea that the Islamists are capable of defying the military and restructuring the Egyptian system of power is, at least, doubtful. On the eve of the second round of the presidential election, the decision of the Egyptian Constitutional Court (controlled by the Supreme Court of Arbitration) was dissolved by an Islamic majority parliament, which, by all logic, the Muslim Brotherhood had to respond with a stormy protest that did not follow. Obviously, there was a military deal with Mursi. Apparently, according to its conditions, the leader of the Freedom and Justice Party won the election by a margin of 3%. Doubts about who acts from a position of strength in this deal and who actually controls the situation in Egypt evaporate, if we recall that the country has not yet developed a constitution that would prescribe the powers of the newly elected president, the parliament is dissolved, and the state continues control VSVS.
In other words, the military in Egypt, taught by the Turkish experience, logically chose to retain control of power in the country, formally not occupying leadership positions (not counting the head of the AFC Tantawi, who will continue to hold the post of Minister of Defense). Accordingly, they will track that the new president is not very keen on Islamic ideas - either domestically or in foreign relations, and if necessary, it is logical to assume that they can change the “disobedient” formal head of state to a more “compliant”, as it happened in Turkey . That is, Egypt will probably embody a kind of “Turkish model”, but not the modern “Erdoganovskaya”, but the former, which the current Turkish Prime Minister eradicated, unless, of course, the new President of Egypt takes the decisive steps that Erdogan has taken.
At the same time, all this does not mean that the Turkish-Egyptian "friendship" is the end; neither Ankara, which is unlikely to want to give up its position in the key country of the Arab East, for the influence in which the Turks are fighting, nor Cairo, which is aware of economic problems of Egypt and sees in Turkey a profitable foreign trade partner / assistant. In this regard, the position of the Turkish leadership was particularly literate, which initially farsightedly did not support any of the candidates (unlike the Saudis, who spoke negatively towards Mursi). Therefore, "elections are elections, and Turkey is scheduled."
We should not expect any cardinal changes in the foreign policy sympathies of Egypt either. Mursi's loud statements about establishing friendship with Tehran and revising the peace treaty with Tel Aviv have already been refuted, to the approval of the Americans and Israelis. We should not forget about the significant US assistance (which, like Turkey, "according to the schedule") to the Egyptians through the PTS line. American interests in the region are another “limiter” on the outwardly domestic political potential “vanguardies” of the Islamist president of Egypt (who, as promised, left the Freedom and Justice party to become “president for all Egyptians”).
Another junior satellite partner of Washington - Saudi Arabia - will continue, apparently, with its billions trying to win the favor of the Egyptians; Qatari act in the same way. Thus, the February Revolution 2011g. in Egypt, little has changed: Mubarak shifted, the system, in fact, remained the same - the power in the country is controlled by the military, who, in turn, depend on the will of the Americans; The Turks successfully increase their soft power influence in the country, the Saudis (and now the Qatarians) are also trying to "infiltrate".
The “implementation”, the main architect of which the Turks continue to be, seeking more and more sophisticated methods, continues in the Syrian direction. The conflict is still smoldering, the world and Arab (read "flood") media do not stop reporting new casualties among the civilian population, Turkish - about new refugees in the areas bordering Syria. Having rejected threats to create a buffer zone at the border and attract NATO forces to solve / prevent state security problems, joining the collective action to recall their ambassadors from Damascus and expel the Syrian and go to the sentimental expressions - urbi et orbi - about the priority of "protecting the rights and dignity of the common Syrians ", the Turkish leadership decided to test the Syrian / Russian air defense system. The incident with one of the downed and the other unaffected by Turkish aircraft in the Syrian airspace caused a new wave of accusations of hostility against Damascus, mainly from Ankara. A flurry of criticism from the "world community" (or rather, that part of it, which Asad is very much in the way) drowns out the logical question of Russia about, in fact, the objectives of the Turkish flight over Syria. The success of the Turkish provocation is obvious: an excuse was found to “strengthen” on the border - armored vehicles were pulled to the border areas “to prevent new possible hostile attacks from the Syrian territory.” It is clear that Ankara took Syria seriously, the snares are political (there is no doubt that the AKP is carrying out political frauds after changing Assad to a "loyal" person / group of people) and military (the border is supported by the world community).
Behind the tumultuous sharing of the “Middle Eastern Pie,” the tasty Syrian, Iraqi, and Egyptian pieces of which, with varying degrees of success, are trying to snatch rivals for regional leadership under the watchful eye of Washington, nobody remembers the interests of Russia in this “desired” region. And it is becoming more and more difficult for Moscow in the Middle East to sell them under the onslaught of "the United States and the company." The last outpost of the Kremlin - Syria - came under Ankara’s gaze: if the Russian leadership doesn’t oppose Erdogan’s iron grip, then Russia in the region will be satisfied with the modest role of a member of the Near Eastern Quartet.
It is necessary to take decisive actions in relation to these three - Syria, Iraq and Egypt - "troubled" states: first, to preserve their influence as much as possible, ensuring a peaceful transfer of power from Assad to the loyal Russia within the meaning, but not according to the pathos of the regime Annan on the creation of a coalition government - to guarantee the maximum possible number of supporters of the Assad regime and representatives of the opposition who are not hostile to the Kremlin), without forgetting about economic ties. In the other two, to try to increase the quality and quantity of tools of soft power, this is especially realistic by strengthening trade and economic contacts: despite the firm positions of Turkish capital in Iraq and Egypt, in the interests of the leaders of both countries, diversify foreign economic relations. However, up to now, against the background of the activity of regional powers in these three "troubled countries", as well as all the escalating tensions in the Near and Middle East, Russia's steps in this direction seem to be quite faded.
Vladimir Avatkov, Turkologist, teacher of the military department and the department of languages of the countries of the Middle East, MGIMO.
Tatyana Tyukaeva, Arabist, employee of the Rusorient information and analytical portal.
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