January 17, 2018

An utopian solution for the Middle East

Corneliu Pivariu. Photographer: Ionus Paraschiv.

By Corneliu Pivariu.

During the last 20 years we witnessed numerous “calligraphy exercises” or exercises directly on the map as far as the possible developments in the Middle East were concerned, some of them worth paying attention to, mainly through the authors’ prism and the interests behind them and less through any practical elements they suggested.

Here we are 100 years later after the Balfour Declaration (2nd of November, 2017) and the developments after the two World Wars and the end of the Cold War foreshadow the continuation of an incertitude and conflict situation in this area.

If after the fall of Berlin Wall it seemed that the Middle East evolved gradually toward stability following the Peace Treaty between Jordan and Israel and some minor positive evolutions of the Palestinian problem, here it came 2006 which marked a dangerous development for Israel in its conflict with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and later on we were witnessing the so-called “Arab Spring” which, in fact, triggered a storm not only in the Middle East but also in North Africa. It created not only a state of instability but also it sent profound reverberations especially in Europe where the migrants/refugees crisis continues. And all these on the background of a still undecided struggle in a globalising world whereby the Middle East still represents an important geopolitical stake.

If we simplify a little the situation, a solution for normalizing the actual state of affairs in the Middle East might be represented by setting on new bases the relations among the four of the most important countries (in alphabetical order): Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Turkey and Israel’s acceptance of the evolutions in this regard as well as solving the Palestinian problem.

An especially first important condition for a start of the solution being possible is that of achieving a Sunni-Shia reconciliation, which would mean an important step toward normalizing the relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Such an achievement, followed by a series of political and economic steps for cementing and developing these relations could create the conditions for a new development of the cooperation among the Gulf countries, for stabilizing the situation in Yemen as well as positive evolutions in Iraq, a particularly important country for the Middle East.

Egypt, which ever since the last part of Mubarak regime played an ever dull role in the Middle East in comparison with its geopolitical size, importance and position and having diplomatic relations with Israel, could contribute to a greater extent to a durable solution in case it solves the serious economic and social problems it is confronted with and will improve its relations with Iran, Turkey and even with Saudi Arabia. In its relationship with Turkey, the leadership in Cairo should overcome the episode of the support Ankara extended to the former president Mohammad Morsi.

Turkey is an important regional player still in the ascendance, yet confronted with domestic problems of a political and social nature, with the Kurdish movement of independency and, no less important, dependent on foreign financing for implementing its ambitious programs of economic development. Turkey is also dependent on the import of energy resources (especially crude oil and gas from Russia and Iran), as well as on the relations with these countries, to which China should be added. The manner in which the conflict in Syria will be solved has a particular importance for Ankara and in this respect it is interesting to follow the developments in Idlib area. We think that the development of the relations between Ankara and Riyadh might be of great importance.

Tehran should renounce exporting the Islamic revolution and the project of the Shiite crescent, to achieve a greater economic regional and global opening and to decide as well if it wants to be a nuclear or a geopolitical power. To say nothing of the policy in relationship with Israel.

Here it is, very briefly, why we believe that such a solution is an utopian one and, at least for the next two or three decades, we do not contemplate an evolution toward stability in the Middle East.

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About the author:

Corneliu Pivariu, former first deputy for military intelligence (two stars general) in the Romanian MoD, retired 2003. Member of IISS – London, alumni of Harvard – Kennedy School Executive Education and others international organizations. Founder of INGEPO Consulting, and bimonthly Bulletin, Geostrategic Pulse”. Main areas of expertise – geopolitics, intelligence and security.

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Photographer: Ionus Paraschiv.

 

 

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