2012 year in the Middle East (BSV) ended without a big war. At the same time, growing tensions throughout the region involve the countries of Africa, Europe and Central Asia in local conflicts. There is no reason to believe that the situation in the area from Morocco to Pakistan and from Somalia to the Russian border will improve in the medium term. Rather, it will worsen, especially since a bloc confrontation is gradually taking shape in the region.
These blocks are primarily groups in the Islamic world with their external support forces. The main ones are Wahhabi Qatar and Saudi Arabia on the one hand and Shiite Iran on the other. Arab media say that the West is on the Sunni side, and the Shiites are on Russia. In fact, the picture is more complicated.
The interests of Doha and Riyadh in confronting Tehran, eliminating secularism in the Arab world and spreading political Islam coincide, but they, competing, rely on different forces: Qatar - mainly on the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Saudis - on the Salafis. As the events of September 11 2012 showed, the interests of these trends do not coincide. The “brothers” and the currents like Tunisian “An-Nahda”, which are close to them, extracted the main dividends from the “Arab spring”, having come to power in Tunisia and Egypt. They successfully play the card of "Islamic democracy" in relations with the West. Salafis remained on the periphery of power and budgets, although they legalized their presence in politics. The synchronized activation of their activities against the US missions (the film “The Innocence of Muslims” served as a pretext for it), during which the consulate in Benghazi was destroyed and the US ambassador to Libya was killed, was clearly aimed at weakening the positions of the governments of the countries where they were held.
The main struggle of the Salafists with the “Brothers” for the redistribution of power in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt is still ahead. At the same time, the structure of the Salafi groups prevents them from creating centralized structures on a nationwide scale. Usually they form autonomous city units or structures subject to field or tribal commanders. The lack of a single management center, planning and financing for them is a plus. Providing high stability in confrontation with the enemy, tactical flexibility and independence of individual groups, this structure makes it easy to reproduce the system even after the destruction of its key elements. As demonstrated by the failure of the operation of the western contingent in Afghanistan. However, the government of the country is a problem for Salafis. That is why the Muslim Brotherhood intercepts their control levers where Islamists manage to seize power, and countries in which the Salafi influence is large turn into failed states - failing states.
With all possible variants of events in Arab countries, a long period of their development in the future will be associated with political Islam. The example of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) proved to be infectious for the Sunni world. The successful use of Islamist Gulf monarchies to eliminate secular rivals does not mean that they themselves will remain aloof from the “Arab Spring”. The suppression of the anti-dynastic unrest in Bahrain became possible only after the military intervention of the countries of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC). The civil war in Syria is dangerous for the Hashemite of Jordan. The spread of Islamist currents in Mali weakens not only Algeria, but also Morocco. In general, it can be stated that the spread of Islamism in the world, like the struggle of the Syrian Islamists against Assad, is organized by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Turkey provides their home base sponsored groups with logistic corridors and cover in border areas. The West gives information and political legitimization. At the same time, Turkey is not ready for intervention in Syria, fearing an increase in the partisan-terrorist activity of the Kurds in Eastern Anatolia. Even less, it is ready for a direct military confrontation with Iran.
Tehran continues to support Damascus, not interfering directly in military actions in Syria. The latter’s limited support by Baghdad and the political neutrality of Algeria and Lebanon do not allow Syria to be completely isolated even within the framework of the League of Arab States. At the UN Security Council, Russia and China impede the passage of a resolution that could allow foreign intervention against Assad. Judging by the maneuvers of the Russian Navy off the coast of Syria, this course will continue to be maintained. If Damascus lasts until the beginning of the collision between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the regime has a chance to survive. The big Gulf war will weaken, if not completely stop support from outside the opposition groups in Syrian territory. Ultimately, Assad does not have any other way than to fight to the end. The fate of Mubarak and Gaddafi proved it. The result of the fall of the ruling regime in Syria for local Christians and Shiites is fraught with grave consequences, and the regime has no support from them yet.
In Turkey itself, the struggle continues between Erdogan and the opponents of the Islamists. Despite successes in the suppression of the army generals, the prime minister was unable to pass a constitution that expanded his powers. The opposition blocked his actions in this direction. As a result, despite the implementation of an economic strategy aimed at turning Turkey to 2023 in the year as the leading force of the region, and by 2050 in one of the leading economies of the world, Erdogan’s metamorphosis in the new sultan is postponed. The expansion of Ankara in Syria, despite the help of the West and the efforts of the Gulf countries to speed it up, is constrained by the need to maintain relations with Russia and Iran. The transformation of Turkey into the world hub on the transit of energy without cooperation with Moscow and Tehran is unrealizable. Supplies only from Azerbaijan and Iraq are not enough for this.
It is possible that it is precisely the caution of Turkey, who is not ready to blindly side with the Gulf countries in confrontation with Iran, is the reason for their study of options for building a gas and oil pipeline from the territory of the Arabian Peninsula to Europe. The route through Jordan, Syria (after the fall of Assad) and Turkey is simple from an engineering point of view. Pipelines will allow the Turks to be tied to the interests of the monarchies of the Gulf. The fact that this will happen at the expense of Russia and Iran is an additional incentive not only for these monarchies, but also for the West. On the other hand, the Arab monarchies get their own leverage on Turkey, which, being their ally on a number of regional issues, continues to remain dangerous for them. And the more dangerous, the more imperial sentiments come alive in the Turkish elite.
Ankara's claims to military-political leadership in the Islamic, including the Arab world are not met with understanding either in the Gulf countries, or in Iraq, or in Egypt experiencing the initial stage of the Islamic revolution. Before 1922, the Turkish sultans were caliphs. Only the defeat of Turkey in the First World War gave its Arab vilayets a chance to become states, and Mecca and Medina from provincial cities, unremarkable except Hajj, the capitals of world Islam. Different national and political priorities of the Islamists, who come and come to power in different countries of the BLA, provoke a conflict of interests of even the most close ideological trends. Moreover, neither the volume of “flood” investments, nor the economic prospects for cooperation with regional leaders are not a decisive factor even for countries affected by the “Arab spring”. The results of the 2012 of the year showed this quite clearly, which makes in practice the emergence of the “New Caliphate”, which is the goal of the Salafis, impossible, limiting the field of their activities to the terrorist “Green International”.
It can hardly be regarded as good. newsBecause if the West can still somehow agree with the states, then such an agreement is excluded with scattered revolutionary Islamic groups. Dialogue with them with the participation of Qatar and Saudi Arabia is possible. Tactical agreements on their terms are achievable, as evidenced by the US dialogue with the Taliban in Doha. But one cannot count on cooperation with them or their neutrality. The September 11 attack in New York and Washington and the events of the 2012 fall show: having achieved their goal with the support of the West, the Islamists are attacking the West. The monarchies of the Gulf, in charge of their groups, are interested both in that the terrorists weaken their competitors and in that they do not try to seize power in these monarchies themselves. Their task is to redirect the energy of dangerous customers abroad, whether against Shiites or Christians, Iran or Russia, and even against the West. Especially if Western troops act in territories that they consider to be their area of interest, like Iraq or Yemen. After that, the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and Qatar readily acts as an intermediary between Paris, London, Washington and the Islamists.
This tactic is not a surprise for the leadership of the United States, France and the UK. However, as demonstrated by the past year, the State Department, Que d'Orsay and the Foreign Office tend to close their eyes to what is happening. This led America to fail in Benghazi, which is responsible for Hillary Clinton. The struggle between departments - the State Department, the CIA and the Pentagon in the first place made the US foreign policy ineffective. Relying on a corrupt clan elite involved in drug production and trafficking in Afghanistan, Shiite kleptocracy targeting Iran, Iraq or Sunni terrorists linked to Al-Qaeda in Libya and Syria, do nothing but defeat in the war against Islamic terrorism , could not bring. However, judging by the figures of the new Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State appointed to their posts by President Obama at the turn of 2012 – 2013, the current US Middle East policy, involving dialogue with the Islamists, will not change.
A course that involves short-term benefits at the expense of long-term interests is deadly from the point of view of strategy, but it allows the politicians who conduct it to extract personal gain. Evidence is provided by the 2013 evidence in early January that the ex-President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy received 50 million euros from Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, in whose overthrow France actively participated. The interests of the USA and Great Britain in the Gulf and in the Middle East as a whole are no less than the French ones. “Fuzzy” investments in Western countries, military contracts, supplies of technology and equipment to the Gulf countries, and large infrastructure projects make this alliance extremely strong. China, as one of the most promising markets for Arab energy, on the one hand, and the largest trading partner of the West, on the other, can afford to focus on its own interests, including in cooperation with Iran, without any damage in relations with its opponents. Russia, judging by the openly negative attitude towards it of the Gulf countries, is deprived of such indulgences. Washington or Brussels and Moscow do not have a common sphere of interests where the restrictions imposed by Russia could not be compensated by its competitors. Including energy exports to Europe - by the same Gulf countries, which do not depend on Russia for anything.
Since the “Arab Spring” got stuck in Syria, from their point of view, because of Russia, in 2013 we should expect Islamists to become more active both on Russian territory and in the near abroad. Kirgizia (where Qatar and KSA embassies opened in 2012) can be used as the bridgeheads of the “Central Asian Spring”. Its main objectives will be Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, to which, apparently, the leadership of these countries is ready. Mining the borders with Uzbekistan’s troubled neighbors and counter-terrorism operations, during which Kazakhstan’s security forces defused the Salafi underground, speak about this, as well as a number of points of the development strategy of Kazakhstan to the 2050 year. The withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan in 2014, meaning the victory of the Taliban, opens up new opportunities for them in the territory of the IRA, most of which they control. The consequence will be the expulsion of foreign jihadists from Afghanistan, some of whom are from Russia and other post-Soviet republics. The key player in Afghan territory after the withdrawal of the Western coalition forces from there remains the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (PRI). Strong will be, as in Central Asia, the economic influence of Beijing in conjunction with Islamabad. The PRI is interested in balancing the Chinese traditional opponent - India, whose interests in Afghanistan are lobbied by the United States. All this complicates the confrontation with radical Islamists, who in 2011 – 2012 received a wide field of activity in countries and regions that were previously closed to them.
An example of this is Africa. Conflicts with Christians and supporters of local cults Islamists complement the destruction of traditional Muslim shrines, including monuments of world importance. The destruction of medieval mosques, libraries, and tombs in Timbuktu at the end of 2012 — the beginning of 2013 — demonstrated which side has a power advantage in the Sahara and the Sahel. The world community at the same time limited to planning operations in the north of Mali. The rise of the Boko-Haram activity in Nigeria, the fighting with Al-Shabab in Somalia, the exacerbation of the conflict between North and South Sudan, the successes of Somali pirates and the transformation of the Gulf of Guinea into a zone similar in danger to shipping leave no room for optimism about the future Of Africa. It is not only about African groups, but also about the internationalization of local conflicts, which are attended by militants from Af-Pak. Back at the start of 2012, the role of people from Afghanistan in Mali seemed to the experts to be something exotic.
Iran, Egypt, Israel
The coming year will be a turning point for Iran. The appearance of the Iranian nuclear bomb is almost a foregone conclusion. The US and the EU are limited to economic sanctions. Russia in the conditions of crisis in relations with the West will not interfere in this situation. Moreover, its immediate interests do not affect the conflict in the Gulf. The appearance of the Iranian A-bomb does not make Moscow happy because of disagreements with Iran on the Caspian Sea, but it is impossible to influence Iran, and Russia understands this. Most likely, the diplomatic game of the UN and the "six" with Iran will continue regardless of the outcome of events. The success of Tehran means the beginning of the nuclear arms race at BW. However, the situation in the region depends primarily on the escalation of Iran’s conflicts with the Gulf monarchies and Israel. The presidential elections in Iran at the beginning of the summer of 2013 will determine the direction of the main attack: Iran cannot wage war on all fronts. He can fight with Israel only by organizing rocket attacks from southern Lebanon and Gaza. The situation in the Gulf is not so straightforward. Bahrain Iran is afraid because of its support for Shiite unrest. Ibadi Oman is neutral. The UAE, in conflict with Iran over the islands it occupied, does not favor Sunni Islamists. The arrests of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Emirates, despite the protests of Egypt, demonstrate this.
The Arab Republic of Egypt (Egypt), despite the rapid Islamization of political life or because of it, remains a key country in the Arab world. The secular opposition in the matter of the constitution suffered a defeat. President Mursi, with a turnout of less than a third of the total number of voters, won the constitutional referendum with two thirds of the votes of those who participated. Judging by the development of events, the Egyptian president is claiming dictatorial powers, agreed with the army, and against the secular population and the Copts, the Salafis would support him. He does not control Sinai and the deployment of army units to the peninsula, fraught with clashes with Israel, will continue despite the Camp David Accords. The publication of statements from 2010 of the year, demonstrating the views of Mursi on the impossibility of peace with Israel and the Jews as "descendants of pigs and monkeys", confirms the assumption that after the appearance of an irreversible crisis in the AER, primarily an economic one, the war with the Jewish state may turn out to be for the Egyptian leader only acceptable way out. Let us challenge experts trying to convince themselves and others that he is too rational for this.
Israel is preparing for this war. Just like the war with Iran, the third intifada and clashes with jihadists on the border with Syria, Lebanon or Jordan. At the end of 2012, the Sinai Brigade was restored and the border fortifications in Sinai were completed. The number of illegal immigrants from Africa entering Israel decreased from three thousand at the peak of this process to 30 people. Next in line is the construction of fortifications on the Golan and the border with Jordan. In November 2012, the de facto Oslo process, also known as the “peace process,” ended. Ramallah’s application to the United Nations for recognition of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) as a state and voting in the General Assembly means breaking agreements with Israel. After that, only the reluctance of Jerusalem to engage in the Palestinian territories and their population stops the elimination of the PNA. Hamas will not allow Israel to come to power in Judea and Samaria. Given that the 40 percent of the PNA’s revenues are provided by the Israeli government, and domestic sources provide no more than 15 percent of the budget, Abu Mazen’s anti-Israel activities can only lead to Israeli annexation of Zone C, and possibly other parts of the West Bank. At the same time, the exacerbation of the situation in the region turns the Palestinian problem into a small out-of-place conflict - the money allocated for the creation of a Palestinian state is mainly stolen, no one has created and does not intend to create a state, and statements about the financial support of the Palestinian Authority to Arab sponsors remain at the level of declarations. Elections to the Israeli Knesset in January of the 2013 will clearly benefit the center-right coalition. Netanyahu remains in power at the head of a sustainable government. Given the solid economic position of Israel and its military-technological superiority over its neighbors, this allows us not to worry about the future of at least one state in the Middle East.