|MIDDLE EAST – OPTIMISTS HOPE FOR
MOSCOW. (Yevgeny Satanovsky, President of the Middle East Institute of the
Russian Academy of Sciences, for RIA Novosti)
A little more than 10 years ago it seemed that there were enough grounds
to hope for peace and prosperity in the Middle East. Today, those who are
optimistic hope that the region will be a scene of conventional rather
than nuclear wars.
It is enough to look at what is happening there. Iraq has turned into a
territory of anarchy and terror. Iraqi Kurdistan is virtually independent,
and a risk of a clash with Turkey is the only obstacle which prevents it
from becoming a sovereign state. Most probably, after the occupational
forces withdraw, the rest of Iraqi territory will be divided between local
Sunni and Shiite leaders, and al-Qaeda-linked Islamic groups.
Iraq’s neighbors – Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan – could try
to stabilize the situation there, but they have problems with stability
themselves. Iran is probably the only exception.
The only stable parliamentary democracy in the Muslim Middle East, Iran is
growing stronger and expanding its influence in Iraq, other Gulf nations,
as well as Syria and Lebanon. Before long, Iran will acquire nuclear
weapons. The main question is whether Iran and Israel will avoid an armed
conflict, which is unlikely given the course pursued by the current
Palestinian territories are a source of threat not only for Israel, but
also for Jordan and Egypt. The idea of creating a Palestinian state has
been merely used by the Palestinian elite as an excuse to embezzle the
money granted by international bureaucratic structures. The billions
received by the Palestinians over several decades have made the
Palestinian economy uncompetitive, engendered mega-corruption, and turned
Palestine into a world Harlem living off welfare. Tough military control
is indispensable for fighting terrorism, and restoring economy and social
environment in Palestine. But none of its neighbors wants to tackle these
problems, and become an occupant.
In the meantime, Israel has been gripped by an all-out political crisis.
Instead of enhancing security, its “peacemaking” efforts have caused
human losses. The Israelis are justifiably mistrustful of Americans and
Europeans, thinking that both may sacrifice them for their own interests.
The experiment of the Israeli elite on implementing its
peace-for-territory plan has led to the collapse of their own country. Now
any attempt to evacuate Israeli settlements from the West Bank of the
Jordan River, or the Golan Heights, will meet with fierce resistance of
their residents, putting Israel on the brink of a civil war.
Paradoxically, the Iranian threat has produced an informal Arab-Israeli
military-political alliance, which has not yet been put into action. At
the same time, the radical Islamists are stepping up their activities, and
enhancing their political influence in the entire Middle East – from
Pakistan to Turkey, and from Sudan to Algeria and Morocco.
They are trying to come to power in Lebanon; they are resuming their
leading positions in Afghanistan; having seized power in Somalia and
Palestine, they are consolidating their positions there. Harassment of
national and religious minorities is on the upsurge in the entire region,
although the UN is laying the blame for this on Israel, where the position
of these groups is close to ideal compared to its neighbors. The risks for
Christians are the highest in the Middle East. In Lebanon, they are still
fighting for their future, but they are already fleeing from Palestine and
Many armies in the region are weaker than Islamic formations, which are
better armed and trained. There is a growing threat of the proliferation
of weapons of mass destruction there – biological, chemical, and nuclear
(from Pakistan). The level of drug trafficking, the backbone of the Afghan
economy, is also on the rise. Against this background, the danger of
Sudan’s disintegration, a dynastic vacuum in Oman, and instability of
some other regimes seem to be a not-so-great evil.
The policy of the “great powers” in the region has fallen through. The
inability of the UN, all peacemakers, and the U.S. Administration to
achieve any positive change in the region demonstrates the bankruptcy of
the world community’s political and diplomatic approaches.
The bad situation is being made worse by the mistakes multiplied from one
generation to another, futile attempts to carry out stillborn theories of
half a century ago, failure to understand the local realities, and
orientation of policy to the schedule of domestic elections. It is further
aggravated by the fact that the media and politicians pay the most
attention to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which is peripheral and the
Millions of people are destroyed in a barbaric manner and turn into
refugees not only in the Middle East. But it is the problems of the Middle
East that its elites are trying to resolve at the expense of the rest of
the world, including Europe. It is a question of preserving Europe’s
right to life rather than its heritage.
There is no point in trying to apply democratic methods to people who use
democracy exclusively for their own selfish purposes. Democracy can
overcome radicals and terrorists only morally and posthumously. The
Americans and their allies have tried to disseminate “democracy” in
their own way.
Obviously, Winston Churchill was right when he said that the world’s
entire history boils down to the conclusion that when nations are strong,
they are not always fair; but when they want to be fair, they are no
longer strong enough. –0-