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What is Russia’s Place in the Middle East?
08-26-2010, 06:58 PM,
Rainbow  What is Russia’s Place in the Middle East?
What is Russia’s Place in the Middle East?

by Thierry Meyssan

24 AUGUST 2010

Caught up in a smoldering feud between its President and Prime Minister, Russia is not making the most of the historic opportunity to deploy in the Middle East. Russian elites were unable to draw up a strategy for that region when they had the chance and, now, they are no longer capable of it. In Thierry Meyssan’s view, Moscow is paralyzed, having failed both to take full advantage of the botched US “remodeling” of the Middle East and to fulfill the hopes raised by Vladimir Putin.

The Israeli defeat in the Summer of 2006 against the Lebanese resistance spelled the end of US supremacy in the Middle East. In only four years, the military, economic and diplomatic situation in that region underwent a complete change.

At present, the Turkey-Syria-Iran triangle has emerged as the leading pole while Russia and China expand their influence as that of the United States is fading. However, Moscow is reluctant to seize the opportunities it has at hand. First of all, its priority is not the Middle East; secondly because no project related to this region has the consensus of the Russian elites, finally because Middle East conflicts have sensitive implications for Russia’s own domestic problems. Let’s take stock of the situation.

2001-2006 and the myth of the remodeling of the “Great Middle East”

The Bush administration was able to rally the oil lobby, the military industrial complex and the Zionist movement around a huge project: securing control of the oil fields running from the Caspian Sea to the Horn of Africa by redesigning the political map based on small ethnic states. The zone, demarcated not according to its population but to the riches under its soil, was first called “Crescent Crisis” by University professor Bernard Lewis and later “Greater Middle East” by George W. Bush.

Washington did not skimp on its Middle East “remodeling” project. Huge sums of money were invested in buying local elites so that their personal interests would come before national interests in the context of a globalized economy. Most important was the deployment of a strong military force to Afghanistan and Iraq to hem in Iran, the main actor in the region that stands up to the empire. Maps of the new region were drawn up and circulated by the Chiefs of Staff. All countries in the region, including Washington’s allies, would be broken up into various emirates incapable of defending themselves, while vanquished Iraq would be divided into three federate states (a Kurdish, a Sunni and a Shiite).

When it seemed that nothing could prevent that domination process from going ahead, the Pentagon handed Israel the task of destroying all secondary fronts before attacking Iran. The aim was to wipe out the Lebanese Hezbollah and to overthrow the Syrian government. However, after submitting one third of the Lebanese territory to a bombing campaign the likes of which hadn’t seen since the Vietnam War, Israel was forced to retreat without having attained any of its goals. That defeat marked a strategic shift in the balance of forces.

Over the next months, US generals rebelled against the White House. They had lost control of the situation in Iraq and anticipated with apprehension the difficulties of a war against a well-armed and organized state—Iran—potentially setting the entire region ablaze. The generals, gathered around Admiral William Fallon and senior general Brent Scowcroft, forged an alliance with several realistic politicians who opposed the danger inherent in the excessive military deployment.

They used the Baker-Hamilton Commission to influence American voters until obtaining the dismissal of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his replacement with one of their allies: Robert Gates. Subsequently, these same individuals hoisted Obama to the White House, on condition that Robert Gates would remain the Pentagon.

In fact, the US General Staff has lacked an alternative strategy ever since the “remodeling” failed. Its only concern is to stabilize its positions. US soldiers withdrew from large Iraqi cities and retreated to their bases. They left the management of Iraq’s Kurdish areas in the hands of the Israelis while the Arab zones were left to the Iranians. The US State Department has stopped handing out sumptuous gifts to regional leaders and has become increasingly avaricious in these times of economic crisis. Yesterday’s beholden are looking for new masters to feed them.

Tel Aviv is the only one to still believe that the US withdrawal is but an eclipse and that the “remodelling” will resume once the economic crisis is over.

Formation of the Turkey-Syria-Iran Triangle

Washington thought that the dismantlement of Iraq would be contagious. The Sunni-Shiite civil war (the Fitna, in Arabic) was supposed to pit Iran against Saudi Arabia and split the whole Arab-Muslim world. The virtual independence of Iraqi Kurdistan was expected to cause a Kurdish secession in Turkey, Syria and Iran.

But the opposite happened. The easing of US pressure on Iraq sealed the alliance among the enemy brothers of Turkey, Syria and Iran. All three realized that in order to survive they had to unite and that once united they could exert regional leadership. In fact, Turkey, Syria and Iran, together, cover all crucial aspects of the regional political spectrum. As the heir to the Ottoman empire, Turkey incarnates political Sunni Islam. As the only remaining Baathist state after the destruction of Iraq, Syria embodies secularism. And, finally, since the Khomeiny Revolution, Iran represents political Shi’ism.

In just a few months, Ankara, Damascus and Teheran opened their common borders, lowered customs tariffs and paved the way for a common market. This opening provided them with a breath of fresh air and a sudden economic growth which, despite the memories of prior disputes, has also garnered genuine grassroots support.

However, each of these three states has its own Achilles’ heel which the United States and Israel, as well as some of their neighbors, will attempt to exploit.

Continue to read:
08-26-2010, 11:28 PM,
RE: What is Russia’s Place in the Middle East?
"Caught up in a smoldering feud between its President and Prime Minister"
When did that happen?

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