Local wars 2.0
In light of the current polarization of international relations and a significant increase in the degree of tension between the great powers, many began to talk about a new Cold War. Its members are well known to all of us. On the one hand, this is the United States with its allies and satellites, and on the other, a number of states that do not want to put up with American hegemony, in the vanguard of which Russia is today.
As we remember, the Cold War of the XNUMXth century was characterized by local conflicts, in which, due to the lack of an opportunity to fight each other openly, disputes between superpowers over control over spheres of influence were resolved. Something similar is taking place now.
Before our very eyes, the birth and development of two new local wars took place. Now they are already being carried out in full force, and it seems that it is still very far from the end of the bloodshed. We are talking about the civil war in Syria (which recently spread to Iraq) and in Ukraine.
We will try to understand the causes of these conflicts and their possible consequences for the situation in the world in this article.
Of course, at first glance, these tragic events of our time have little in common with each other. The fact that they take place in completely different parts of the world and ethno - religious regions only reinforces this impression. However, upon closer inspection, it turns out to be far from so simple. To understand this, let's start by describing the nature of conflicts.
Let us dwell on the conditions in which the war in Ukraine is developing. The first thing that catches your eye when we talk about the causes of this conflict is that the state in which it takes place is located at the junction of two civilizations. In fact, it is from here that all the basic prerequisites for the ongoing war grow.
According to the terminology of the famous author of the theory of the clash of civilizations - Samuel Huntington, the part of Ukraine located west of the Zbruch River belongs to the area of distribution of Western European civilization, and the rest of its territory belongs to the Orthodox - Slavic. This division is based, first of all, on the religious factor, which largely determines the culture and traditions of the population of the mentioned regions.
As we know, today it is western Ukraine that is the locomotive of all ideas related to the country's involvement in European and even Euro-Atlantic integration processes. In contrast, the South and especially the East of the country gravitate towards Eurasian integration. And although today all integration projects are interpreted as exclusively secular, to a large extent the commitment of the inhabitants of a particular region in this matter is determined by the desire to reunite with fellow believers. Speaking about the civilizational and religious division of Ukraine, one cannot ignore the issue of the specific orientation of the central regions of the country. Here, confusion in the self-determination of citizens was introduced in the early 1990s with the emergence of a schismatic sect that calls itself the Kyiv Patriarchate. The organization is positioned as a special, Ukrainian branch of Orthodoxy, despite the fact that the canonical church considers it to be a manifestation of a schism. The leadership of this sect is constantly in solidarity on the main political issues with the Greek Catholics of western Ukraine. And, despite the fact that most of the churches in the central part of the country still belong to the canonical Orthodox Church, it is the position of the schismatics that is constantly exaggerated in the media, stirring up the minds of the unchurched, post-atheist public.
Linguistic and ethnic issues are other factors underlying the conflict in Ukraine. According to various estimates, Russian is the native language of 50-60% of the country's population. At the same time, its status is not enshrined in legislation, and the "Maidan" politicians who seized power in February are fiercely opposing any official use of it.
The national question consists primarily of cultural oppression of the Russian population and constant attempts to assimilate it. Even according to the official data of the 2001 census, 17% of Russians live in Ukraine (in reality, this figure is probably close to 25%). At the same time, their right to use their native language in all state institutions, from kindergartens and schools, to the tax inspectorate and the housing office, is completely ignored.
As we can see, the prerequisites for a civil war in Ukraine were very serious. The coup and the coming to power of unequivocal agents of Western influence served as a catalyst, after which hostilities simply could not but begin.
It should be noted that it was on these problematic factors (or rather, on the need to aggravate them) that a number of extremist groups were grown, at first serving as a striking force for the "Euromaidan", and now fighting against their fellow citizens in the East of the country.
The formation of the most famous Ukrainian nationalist extremist organizations was based not only on the national factor (their Russophobia is well known), but also on the religious one. So, few people know that the organization "Trident", whose leader is Dmitry Yarosh, later headed the well-known "Right Sector", positions itself as Greek Catholic fundamentalists. Their brothers in nationalist ideology, UNA-UNSO and Brotherhood, are also fundamentalists, but already of the Kiev Patriarchate sect.
Now, having considered the main prerequisites for the conflict in Ukraine, we will move to the Middle East and consider what made possible the war in Syria, which subsequently spread to neighboring Iraq.
Speaking about the civilizational and religious affiliation of the inhabitants of these states, we first of all come up with the collective concept of "Islam". In fact, their religious structure is far from homogeneous.
Representatives of as many as four Islamic faiths (Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites and Ismailis) live in Syria. In addition to them, there are also significant Christian communities in the country. As we understand it, this provides ample ground for inter-religious conflicts. But, at one time, the Syrian authorities found an effective model of public administration, which made it possible to refer all contradictions to the background. It consisted, first of all, in the secular nature of the state, which meant the absence of preferences or harassment of any of the religious communities living in the country.
After 1991, Syria, against the background of its closest neighbors, looked like an island of stability. But in view of the foreign policy course pursued by her leadership, this could not last long.
As we know, in 2011, the United States made an attempt to neutralize the regimes of the Arab East that were disloyal to them. A whole series of coups was implemented, called the "Arab Spring". She did not bypass Syria either. However, the coup failed here. The main merit in preserving the constitutional order, of course, belongs to the country's President Bashar al-Assad. It was his balanced domestic policy that prevented the American-led forces from successfully playing on the contradictions within the Syrian society. After that, Plan B came into force, which many experts called "controlled chaos." He meant relying not on the bourgeoisie from large cities who were accustomed to the Western way of life, but on radical Islamic fundamentalists. And with the help of these cadres - the outbreak of a civil war.
One interesting fact should be noted here. Due to the balanced cultural policy of the Syrian government, there were not many extremists in the country. Therefore, the bulk of the anti-government rebels in Syria are visitors from other states.
As we recall, the peak of the Syrian conflict came in August last year, when, under the pretext of trumped-up charges of using a chemical weapons, The United States intended to intervene in the conflict (of course, on the side of the rebels). A way out of this situation was found thanks to the titanic efforts of Russian diplomacy, after which the world press seemed to have forgotten about Syria.
The conflict got a new round in the summer of this year, when it spread to Iraq.
Speaking about the situation preceding the current events in Iraq, one should first of all mention its confessional and national heterogeneity. Moreover, unlike Syria, these issues have been extremely acute here over the past decades.
Islam is represented in Iraq mainly by two confessions - Shiites and Sunnis. Moreover, the former make up the majority. During the reign of Saddam Hussein, Shiites were removed from government and in fact oppressed. After the American invasion and the adoption of a new constitution in 2005, power in the country passed to them. Retaliatory harassment of the Sunnis began.
But in addition to difficult interreligious relations, the national issue is also very acute in Iraq. The northern regions of the country are inhabited mainly by Kurds, who are prone to separatism and for many years have been eager to create their own state. In addition, the Kurds have their own scores with the Sunni Arabs, who, on the orders of Hussein, carried out the genocide of the Kurdish population.
The current situation in the country is remarkable in that the Shiite government, supported financially and militarily by the United States, also closely cooperates with Iran. It would seem that these unions are mutually exclusive, but in reality everything is far from the case. Moreover, cooperation with Iran has much more solid ground, because it is he who is the most powerful Shiite state (besides, it is also theocratic).
Iran actively supports the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, as well as the Shiite extremist group Hezbollah operating in neighboring Lebanon.
As we can see, there were enough internal and external prerequisites in Iraq for the current war.
The very same war came to the territory of this country together with the militants of the Sunni terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), which is fighting in Syria against government forces. At the same time, just a month of fighting in Iraq turned out to be much more productive for ISIS militants than the previous years of the Syrian war. This is explained by the fact that in Iraq there are extremely strong Sunni fundamentalist sentiments, and therefore, moving towards Baghdad, the militant armies are replenished with more and more fighters.
Having considered some of the main features of the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine, we can draw the first interim conclusions about their similarities and differences.
The first thing that catches your eye is the use of ethno-religious contradictions to stir up conflicts. At the same time, we see two completely different results of such a policy in Syria and Ukraine. In the first case, it was not possible to effectively play on internal contradictions, due to the skillful cultural policy pursued by the government for many years before the war. Old grievances did not acquire new urgency and the decomposition of Syrian society did not occur. As a result, the government of Bashar al-Assad retains the power and confidence of the majority of the country's population, and it is mainly visiting militants who are fighting against it.
In Ukraine, we see a completely opposite picture. Here the stake on cultural, religious and national contradictions has fully justified itself. To a large extent, this became possible due to the fact that throughout the entire existence of Ukraine, its authorities deliberately focused the attention of voters on their differences among themselves, and the oppression of individual national, linguistic and religious groups was presented as the norm. It was thanks to this that the ideas of extremist nationalist organizations became widespread, which became the striking force of the coup on February 22.
After the coup, a situation developed in Ukraine that was fundamentally different from the Syrian one. Here American henchmen came to power, and therefore any anti-government actions were not beneficial to the United States. But in the current situation, the uprising in the East of the country could not be avoided. Now the Americans will try in every possible way to suppress it, with the hands of their puppets. The transition to the variant of "controlled chaos" is not yet beneficial for them. But it can be carried out if Poroshenko starts losing the war in the East.
The US tactics in such conflicts are simple. Where it is impossible to win, they try to support the most marginal forces, thus fueling an all-out war and destabilizing the entire region.
The support of radicals and extremists from the United States is another irrefutable similarity between the two conflicts. And it doesn't matter if we are talking about the Sunni fundamentalists from ISIS, or about the Greek-Catholic ones from the Trident organization. The goal remains the same: either to bring his henchmen to power on the bayonets of these marginals, or with their help ignite the unquenchable flame of civil war with all its "charms" in the form of massacres, ethnic cleansing, etc.
In Iraq, as well as in Ukraine, the use of ethno-religious contradictions to fuel the conflict has fully justified itself. It is unlikely that this country will restore its unity in the future. Rather, in its place we will see several new states, periodically at war with each other.
And, of course, the main similarity of the conflicts we have described is their instigator. In both (or rather, even in three) cases, it was the United States. In order to make sure of this, we will try to analyze their goals.
We all know that the position of the United States in the international arena has been seriously shaken lately. The era of a unipolar world order is smoothly replaced by a multipolar world. Among the countries that have challenged America are Russia and Iran. It is near their borders that the states that have been directly affected by the most severe methods of American foreign policy and have become hotbeds of tension are located. The United States is trying with all its might to drag Russia and Iran into conflicts taking place near their borders. So, from the very beginning of the invasion of ISIS militants in Iraq, the Americans persuade the Iranian leadership to get involved in a "joint" operation to counter them. The insidiousness of the situation lies in the fact that not helping the brotherly Shiite regime of Iraq for the Iranians is tantamount to losing their own authority and cutting their sphere of influence. But Iran cannot afford to participate in a long, costly war either. A similar situation has developed in Ukraine, where the troops controlled by Kiev are already openly provoking Russia to intervene in the conflict. But here a reasonable solution was found in the form of unofficial assistance to the unrecognized Donetsk and Lugansk republics from the Russian Federation.
Speaking about the consequences of the above-described conflicts for Russia and Iran, one should not exaggerate their significance.
Today, it is safe to say that the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria has survived. And, despite the fact that a significant part of this country still remains under the control of the militants, Russia and Iran still have a loyal ally on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
With regard to Iraq, we note that the situation there is much more complicated. It is now obvious that the Americans have completely refused to support the Shiite government, due to its pro-Iranian position. All statements about help in suppressing ISIS militants, or air strikes on their columns are pure bluff. Now the United States is openly carrying out the division of Iraq through the actions of the Islamic State militants funded by them. It is also possible that in the near future America will also begin to support the Kurds in order to create a "free Kurdistan". This would significantly enhance the US's ability to influence its NATO ally, Turkey, which is also no stranger to the Kurdish issue and which has recently begun to pursue a more independent foreign policy.
But, in any case, the Shiite state on the territory of present-day Iraq is likely to survive, albeit on a much smaller scale.
As for Ukraine, it seems that the Americans have not been able to inflict serious damage on Russia. And since the war promises to be protracted, the Kiev government, with its economic difficulties, has little chance of staying in power. The question is who will replace him. It is highly likely that the Americans will launch their favorite Plan B - controlled chaos. Even so, Russia is likely to retain control of part of Ukraine. And all possible threats from the deployment of NATO troops on the remaining territory have already been stopped by the annexation of Crimea.
In general, speaking about the possible outcomes of these local conflicts, one should recall the experience of the Cold War, during which some states were divided between the opposing blocs in half, or into unequal parts. Most likely, something similar will eventually happen to both Ukraine and Iraq. As for Syria, it has a slightly greater chance of maintaining its current borders.
In conclusion, we note that the most sad fact of these and other wars for the redistribution of spheres of influence remains the presence of significant human casualties. And it is very regrettable that the bloodshed will probably continue for more than one year.
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