16 Décembre 2022
Alignment of Middle Eastern countries and the repercussions of the Russian-Ukrainian war on them
It is not permissible for one to congratulate himself or rejoice on the occurrence of a war, even if it does not harm him directly, because in the end the victims of wars are always civilians and the weaker social groups. But the proverb cannot be denied, that people's misfortunes are benefits. It is not the battles on the Russian-Ukrainian border that will lead to repercussions for the countries of the Middle East, even if they turn from skirmishes into a broader war. Rather, the impact will be due to the cold war that will last between the eastern camp and the western camp.
Before we address the possible transformations that conflicts between Russia and NATO may bring about in the Arab region and its surroundings, we must evaluate the positioning of each country separately and the interdependence of files between them. When we are able to determine where the regimes and governments stand, we will be relatively able to deduce their positions and whether this conflict will bring them negative or positive repercussions. In this crisis or any other, data or facts do not determine the relations and solidarity between the countries of the Middle East and the rest of the countries in the world, but rather the positions of these regimes are governed by dependencies. Therefore, it is expected that these countries will line up in isolation from reality or Russia's right to attack Ukraine and the latter's right to determine its political path and join the anti-Russian club.
The first to pivot between these two camps are the countries of the Middle East. No Levantine or Arab country can claim neutrality in this crisis. A long time ago, the West imposed a political reality on all countries in the region and turned them into what they are today, either as dependent states under the tutelage of its imperial policies, or into states reluctant and hostile to its ambitions, which it is still trying to contain or transform into marginal and isolated countries internationally. The following classification of the dependency of these regimes does not take into account the declared positions in light of this crisis. Diplomacy does not concern us, and we rely on the constants and historical paths of these regimes.
countries belonging to the Western camp
Of course, there is no obvious justification for any Arab or Levantine country to be hostile to the Russian Federation and to harbor evil for it, with the exception of Turkey, which is a member of NATO. But the question is not here, the question is do these countries draw their own foreign policies and strategies? Or is it only implementing the dictates of the dominant countries in general and Washington's orders in particular?
Was Saudi Arabia fighting the Soviet Union in the eighties and sending thousands of young men to wage jihad in Afghanistan on its own? If it really did so in support of the Muslims in an Islamic country that Moscow invaded, then why did it not repeat the act when America invaded and destroyed Afghanistan, Iraq and others, or when it practiced genocide against the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, or when India announced racist measures and laws against Muslim citizens?
On the other side, we will find countries that were not necessarily biased towards the Russians, but the Western pressures on them and the West's absolute bias towards Israel, in addition to the neo-colonial ambitions aimed at controlling their natural and human resources, pushed these steadfast countries to rely on the East. This East no longer means a single pole, as was the case in the Soviet era, because just as Western imperial arrogance united the Arab and Islamic peoples opposed to it, it also united the course of the two most powerful states in the world that were not subject to the West, namely Russia and China. Other countries gather around these two forces in an alliance that is more tangible and effective than in the past
Before we discuss the repercussions emanating from the Russian attack on the Donbass region and the Western response and their impact on the course of events in the Arab world and the Middle East, we must define who is in the Western orbit and who is in the Eastern orbit or who can claim neutrality to some extent.
If we start with the countries that are completely under the banner of the West and have only a small sovereign margin for the initiative, then we classify the directions of governments that are subject to external pressures and provocations, and we do not talk about peoples and their aspirations.
The country most involved in the Western camp is, of course, Turkey, because it is an active member of NATO for decades and the second ground power in it. This positioning is natural for Turkey, which has historically competed with Russia for influence in the Caucasus, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, and even in Central Asia. There are many thorny files that reinforce the escalation of the rivalry between the two countries, which have reached the point of clashes and tactical skirmishes in Syria. Despite all this, Ankara sought to improve its relations with Moscow after it was affected by the Russian economic boycott, and Turkey crowned this relative change by purchasing the S-400 system from Russia. However, this change did not last long. Today, Turkey is arming Ukraine with BT-2 Bayraktar drones. Basically, America has continued to deploy dozens of B-61 nuclear bombs in Turkey, and the rest of the talk is meaningless
Saudi Arabia has recently tried to get closer to Russia, to mitigate Washington's efforts to provoke it more financially, under the pretext of human rights files. These steps only come to suggest that it has alternative options, and although it tried to embellish this approach by concluding arms deals with Moscow, this scenario did not convince anyone and it is simply absurd to imagine. First, these deals did not take place, and even if they did, they would only represent a point in the ocean of spending on Western arms factories and investing in its companies and lobbies influencing its decision.
Everyone knows the extent of the organic integration of the Gulf economy into the Western structure at all levels. Neither the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, nor the Emirates, nor Qatar, nor Bahrain have the independence of the decision: because they put almost all their eggs in the Western basket through investments to appease Europe or sisters for protection from America. Didn't former US President Donald Trump say publicly that Saudi Arabia is a cash cow that can't last two weeks without their support? Aren't there American soldiers in all of these countries, so how can it distance itself from the conflict between Washington and Moscow?
Morocco is also economically linked to the West, especially Europe, because it is the largest importer of its exports and industries. The Moroccan community is large in France, Spain, the Netherlands and even in Canada, which generates additional revenues for tourism, which also comes from Europe to a large extent. As for the geostrategic dimension, Morocco relies entirely on the West for its arming.
Jordan has historical relations with the West and receives US economic aid and military grants. Although Amman has good relations with Moscow, and the latter even established an anti-tank missile factory in the Hashemite Kingdom, Jordan's relationship with the West represented by Washington and London remains stronger.
Countries stationed in the eastern camp
On the other side, we will find Arab and Islamic countries affiliated with Russia, even if they are not linked to an official alliance, but they rely on it mainly in matters of armament and political support in international forums. At the forefront of these countries is Iran. After the slogan of the Islamic Revolution was: neither east nor west, Tehran is now completely in the eastern camp. This is due to Western pressures. Today, Iran derives support from Russia on the military, technical, and nuclear levels. Most importantly, Moscow supports Iran in the United Nations Security Council and imposes its right to veto any resolution against it. Russia and Iran are also two influential countries in the global oil sector, and their coordination in this field has an important international economic dimension. At the same time, Iran is also politically close to China and North Korea, which are friendly to Russia.
Syria has the oldest strategic relationship with Russia. Since its independence and the formation of its identity, Damascus has not deviated from its preference for Moscow. There is no need to mention that Russia has never established a military base outside its territory except in Syria, and the Tartous base has existed since the era of the late President Hafez al-Assad. Everyone is aware that what Russia provided to Syria in terms of human and material military support, by land, sea and air, in order for the Syrian state to regain control of its lands and defeat the Western Gulf Zionist campaign against it, has not been implemented by any other country in its history. This was not the first time Russia sacrificed its soldiers in Syria, if we take into account the Russian pilots who fell in the Arab-Israeli wars. And unlike the majority of the countries in the region that arm themselves from Russia, the equipment of the Syrian army is exclusively of Russian production, if we exclude the locally manufactured weapons and missiles copied from the Iranian and Korean models, Syria also has strong relations with these two countries that are friendly to Russia.
In our classification of countries aligned with Russia, Algeria is perhaps the most important from the Russian perspective in light of what is going on in this European war. Simply because Algeria has the most influence on Europe, in terms of its geographical proximity and the dependence of southern Europe on its gas and oil, and because Algerians are sensitive to Western ambitions in general and France in particular. The Western military presence and its bases surrounding it from the north, the American presence in Morocco on its west, the French in the Sahel countries on its south, or the influence of NATO in Libya on its east, cannot reassure them. Algeria is aware of France's efforts to destabilize its security and attempt to divide it by fueling the issue of ethnicities and nationalities and its support for the establishment of an independent Berber entity. For all these reasons, Algeria has centered since independence in the eastern camp, in addition to that Russia did not provide a request for Algeria and has always provided it with the latest equipment it possesses, even for weapons that it refused to export to other countries.
Although there is no neutrality in the politics of the Middle East, some countries are trying to stand at the same distance from both sides. Indeed, there are countries that have no interest in making their hostility public to any party. Egypt, for example, is linked economically and militarily to the West and relies partly on Gulf investments and constitutes a tool of Western pressure. However, Egypt does not surrender its decision to the West or anyone else, and has been trying to diversify its engagements for at least eight years, in order to reduce the effect of American pressures. In this regard, Cairo made huge deals with Moscow, Beijing and Paris. But the margin of sovereignty stands at the limits of economic reality.
Of course, there are Arab or Muslim countries that are completely unconcerned with what is happening in terms of conflict. How can these conflicts affect a country like Tunisia or Mauritania, for example? Why do not we include these countries in the field of neutrality? However, these countries, even if they deal friendly with Russia or China, their cultural impression is Western European. Of course, it is part of the global economic system, which can be considered one of the most powerful tools of Western control. Nouakchott is affected by the French presence in the Sahel and Mali. The creative chaos and crisis stirred up by Western powers in Libya affects Tunisia greatly.
There is no neutral Arab country. Even the Comoros Islands, which are far from all these arenas, are not neutral because they are within French influence, and if France sinks into the Ukrainian quagmire, this will reflect on it to some extent. How about a country like Djibouti, for example? It is a small country and far from these tensions, but how could it not be concerned with the presence of French, American and other military bases on its coasts?
The only Arab country in which we used to hear parties calling for neutrality in the face of regional and international conflicts is Lebanon. Therefore, it was expected that this country would distance itself from a war between Russia and Ukraine that had nothing to do with it. Knowing that the country is actually divided between the western camp and the eastern camp, and this was even before it was established as a state and one of the main reasons for its civil wars. The Lebanese give this division other names, but the content is the same. Although the government did not take an official position, the foreign minister appeared on his own with a declaration of solidarity with Ukraine and the West, which angered some Lebanese and parties supporting the resistance or the left.
Whoever was calling for the benefits of neutrality in Lebanon, is the one who came out and declared that Russia is an aggressor, while Ukraine is an angelic association. This statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, without being within its powers to take it, brought the hardworking minister appreciation and thanks from the German and French ambassadors in Beirut, who rushed to meet him after this situation. However, less than a week later, the same minister met with the Russian ambassador in Beirut to confirm the strength of relations between the two countries. Although Lebanon is not a criterion for the region, it is known that some Lebanese are more royalist than the king, and that there is no consensus on any file in this country.
Transformations and repercussions on the countries of the Middle East
The repercussions and the result for the supporters of both camps will crystallize according to the course of the ongoing war or its conclusions. The conflict is taking place on Ukrainian soil, but it is a conflict between Moscow and Washington. No one can predict the outcome of the war, and even if that were possible, extracting the outcome for any country concerned is still more difficult. Knowing whether the impact is positive or negative on a region or a country is not only related to the positions of this country, but also to its reaction in the context of war developments and battle paths.
Let's take, for example, a hypothetical scenario, in which the West succeeds in turning Ukraine into a quagmire to drain Russia. Will this push Russia to make concessions in its foreign policies and reduce its support for its allies? Or, on the contrary, will its reaction be to face pressure with counter pressure, by increasing this support and expanding its alliances?
If Turkey, for example, or Israel continues its armed support to Ukraine, how will the Russians meet it? Will they make concessions to it in the Syrian file, guarantee Turkey its influence in Idlib or elsewhere, and satisfy Israel by refraining from arming Iran? Or will these actions against Russia's national security stimulate greater support for its friends, as punishment for this provocation? Then these friendly countries will benefit from the flow of newer arms and comprehensive military support. Imagine if they decided to help Tehran in the field of intercontinental missiles or nuclear propulsion submarines, or provided it with radar and thermal scanning satellites to anticipate any field action against it. How will the West seek to obstruct this matter this time? As he did in the past to prevent Tehran from obtaining the S-300 system for many years, which forced Moscow to pay compensation to Iran. Nor will Israel have any credit left with the Russians, which means that its raids on Syria will end at that moment
In the event that Russia becomes in a critical situation, this does not indicate that it will concede to the West its relations with China, North Korea or Venezuela, but rather it may seek to strengthen this link. In addition, the strengthening of Algeria, as a measure counter to French pressure, will constitute a nightmare for the countries of southern Europe, especially France. What if Moscow repeats the scenario of the Cuban missile crisis, this time in Venezuela? Can Washington object to this after arming the Ukrainians and deploying LB-61 nuclear bombs in Europe and Turkey?
But in the event that Russia succeeded in putting the West under a fait accompli and restoring its influence over Ukraine, then this will be recorded as a victory for it on the international arena, no matter how high the sanctions reach. This will not change the perspective of friendly or hostile countries in the Middle East on the scene, and then we will see some countries affiliated with Washington flirting with Moscow.
In general, all anti-Western countries under economic sanctions would benefit from Russia joining this club of outsiders from the Western financial system. Russia is not a banana republic and its economy is globally influential, whatever the ratings say. The more a country joins this club and the circle of those besieged expands in monetary terms, the less severe the penalties will be. Because all these countries communicate with each other and they are in solidarity and seek integration in the economic field