How to save the Middle East from collapsing

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The parish of Russia in Syria destroyed geopolitical structure existed for four decades. Now the United States needs a new strategy and new priorities.

Not had time to begin the debate about whether the joint comprehensive plan of action against Iran's nuclear programme of strategic stability in the Middle East as a whole hit a strategic balance in the region. Taken unilaterally, the Russian military operation in Syria was another symptom of weakening America's role as a stabilizing factor in the Middle East, which the United States assumed on the outcome of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war year.

After this conflict, Egypt severed military ties with the Soviet Union and joined with the support of America initiated the negotiating process. The result of this process have become a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, a peace treaty between Israel and Jordan agreement on disengagement of forces under the control of the UN between Israel and Syria, soblûdaûŝeesâ more than four decades (including even parties Syrian civil war), and international support for Lebanon's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Later, Saddam Hussein's attempt to seize Kuwait was foiled by the international coalition led by the United States. America also played a key role in the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. This helped us in Egypt and Jordan as well as Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. The Russian military presence from the region disappeared.

Now this geopolitical deal collapsed. Four countries in the region actually lost their statehood. In Libya, Syria, Yemen and Iraq to power clamor non-State players. A hefty portion of Iraq and Syria in control of religious radicals, the self-proclaimed "Islamic State" (IGIL) and declared war on the current world order. They want to replace the international system in which there are a lot of States, the United Islamic Caliphate with Syariah law.

IGIL claims gave the centuries-old divide between Sunni and Shia apocalyptic tinge. The remaining Sunni States fear as religious fervor, IGIL and Shiite Iran, which has the potential to become the strongest country in the region. Iran looks doubly dangerous because that acts as a double. On the one hand, it acts as a normal state in the spirit of the Westphalian system, using traditional diplomacy and periodically appealing to international safeguards. On the other hand, he simultaneously organizes and directs non-State players that aspire to regional hegemony and adhering to jihadist principles: Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, Hamas in Gaza and husitov in Yemen.

Thus, over the Sunni Middle East hang four threats: the threat from Shiite Iran with its traditions of Persian imperialism; the threat of ideologically and religiously radical movements hostile to existing political structures; the threat of internal conflict between ethnic and religious groups, who after the first world war have been arbitrarily combined into zašatavšiesâ States; and the threat caused by internal pressure, which was due to adverse political, social and economic course of the authorities.

In this sense, the typical fate of Syria. The process that began as an uprising of Sunnis against the dictator-alavita (Alawites and is an offshoot of the Shiites) Bashar Assad led to Division of the country along religious and ethnic lines. Now each of the numerous parties have their battle groups, and in addition there are external forces, in pursuit of their own strategic interests. Iran supports the Assad regime, seeing in it support its historical prevalence from Tehran to the Mediterranean. Gulf States insist on overthrow Mr. Assad, hoping to derail Iran's plans, which they fear is stronger than Islamic State. They certainly like to destruction IGIL, but categorically do not want Iran's victory. The situation is aggravated by the nuclear deal, signed by America and Iran that the Sunni Middle East many perceive as a sign of tacit recognition by the United States to Iranian hegemony.

These conflicting trends, complicated American retreat from the region, gave Russia the first time in its history, the ability to carry out military operations in the heart of the Middle East. Russia primarily feared that the collapse of the Assad regime in Syria can plunge the same chaos in what is Libya, bring to power in Damascus, IGIL and transform the country into a hotbed of terrorism, capable of spreading to the Muslim regions of Russia (in particular the North Caucasus).

At first glance, Russia's actions play into the hands of Iran, supports Shiite elements in Syria. In General, however, the Russian tasks do not require that Mr. Assad forever retain power. Rather, it is about the classic maintenance of balance of forces and withdrawal of Sunni terrorism threats from Russia's southern borders. We have before us a geopolitical rather than ideological problem, and solve it should be precisely at the geopolitical level. However, be that as it may, the presence of Russian troops in the region — and especially their involvement in combat operations — remains a challenge that Middle East politics of America not faced, at least for four decades.

America does not share the position of any of the parties, and as a result may soon not be able to influence events in the region. Now the United States, to varying degrees, are opposed to all regional players. With Egypt Washington has differences due to human rights with Saudi Arabia — Yemen, with all possible sides the Syrian conflict is because of the difference in purpose. The United States claims that they want the resignation of Mr. Assad. While Washington is not trying to create effective levers — political or military is capable of it. Alternative political structure that could intercept power if Mr. Assad still leave, it also does not offer.

The resulting vacuum fill with Russia, Iran, IGIL and various terrorist organizations. Russia and Iran supported Assad, and Tehran while still cherishes imperialist and džihadistkie plans. Sunni Arab Gulf countries, Jordan and Egypt endorsed the u.s. goal, but seeing the lack of alternative political structure fear that they have at hand will appear another Libya.

A key element of America's Middle East policy was the policy against Iran. The Administration declares that it namerenna tough stand against jihadist and imperialist plans of Iran and firmly respond to any violation of nuclear accords. However, it is clearly captivated by the idea of reverse hostile and aggressive tendencies in Iranian politics by evolution and through negotiations.

Supporters of the current American policy on Iran often compare her with Nixon administration policy toward China, which — despite the fact that many in America were unhappy — ultimately contributed to the change in the Soviet Union and the end of the cold war. However, such comparisons are irrelevant. To develop relations with China in 1971 year failed as both sides recognize that it is in their mutual interests to avoid Russian hegemony in Eurasia. In the opinion of their further strengthened 42 Soviet divisions, located near the Chinese border. Now between Washington and Tehran has no such agreement. On the contrary, immediately after the signing of the nuclear agreement, the Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (Ali Khamenei) once again called the United States the "great Satan" and objected to negotiations with America about anything except the atomic program. Doveršaâ its geopolitical diagnosis, Mr. Khamenei added that through 25 years of Israel will no longer be necessary.

45 years ago for China and America were characterized by symmetrical expectations. Expectations underlying nuclear agreements with Tehran are not symmetrical. Tehran will reach its main objectives, as soon as the agreement will begin to take effect. Reaches America its objectives will depend on the further conduct of Iran. Relations with China we have built based on rapid and tangible changes in Chinese politics, rather than on the basis of the hope for a fundamental change of the system. On the contrary, in this case, the most optimistic forecast assumes that the Iranian revolutionary fervor will gradually subside as will intensify economic and cultural interaction between Iran and the outside world.

American policy risked whet suspicion other players rather than loosen it. The problem is that she has to deal with two hard Apocalyptically minded blocks which act against each other. Sunni bloc comprising Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. It surrounds the Shiite bloc, which consists of Iran, Shiite parts of Iraq (with Baghdad), controlled by the Shiite Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and husitskoj part of Yemen. In such circumstances, the old rule that the enemy of your enemy is your friend, not working. On the current Middle East the enemy of your enemy is your enemy remains.

A lot depends on how different players will interpret the recent developments. Whether we can soften the disappointment of our Sunni allies? And as Iran would perceive nuclear agreement? Iran's leaders may realize that it at the last moment saved them from disaster. In this case, they may move to a more moderate course and returned to Iran in the framework of the international order. On the other hand, they may decide that they won and that they were able to achieve their goals, despite the opposition of UN Security Council and u.s. threats. This could be an incentive for Tehran to pursue the dual policy and continues to behave as both State and threatening the international order independent movement.

As shows us history of Europe before the first world war, systems based on the interaction of two rigid blocks, easily roll off the confrontation. Maintain a balance between these blocks is hard even when traditional military technologies. For this purpose it is necessary to continually assess the real and potential balance of forces, to monitor the cumulative small factors that can affect it, and strongly intervene every time he starts to be disrupted. From America, protected by two oceans, still nothing like never required.

Meanwhile, the current crisis is unfolding in the world with non-traditional — that is, cyber and nuclear-technology. Nuclear race between regional powers could ruin the entire non-proliferation regime in the Middle East. If the established nuclear weapons in the region, a catastrophic outcome becomes imminent — with nuclear technology is inseparably linked preventive strategy. United States should make every effort to prevent such developments and make all regional countries seeking to acquire nuclear weapons, to adhere to the principle of non-proliferation.

Unfortunately, we have too much attention to tactical issues. Meanwhile, first of all, we need to develop a strategic concept and decide on priorities. We must be guided by the following principles:

• While the IGIL exists and controls some territory, it will complicate the situation in the Middle East. This organization, threatens all parties and not limiting their plans, situation impedes region frameworks vary and pushes the external forces to imperial and jihadist ideas. Destroy the IGIL is more important than to overthrow Bashar Al-Assad, has already lost more than half of the territory it once controlled. The most important thing is that this territory is now a permanent hotbed of terrorism. The current flimsy American military effort, perhaps even help IGIL, running against American power, to recruit new fighters.

• The United States is already resigned to the Russian military operation. No matter how unpalatable the fact of Russia's military presence was for architects 1973 year system in Middle East politics need to be guided by pragmatic considerations. In this respect the objectives of the United States and Russia look compatible. From a strategic point of view it is better to have repulsed the IGIL territory or moderate Sunnis, or external forces, but not Iranian jihadis or imperialists. In turn, if Russia would limit its military operations campaign against the IGIL, it can help its relations with the United States not to return to the days of the cold war.

• The reconquered territory should go under the control of local Sunnis, supervising them until the collapse of the Iraqi and Syrian nationhood. A key role in this process should be played by the countries of the Arabian peninsula, as well as Egypt and Jordan. Turkey-after resolving the constitutional crisis — should also make its own contribution to the process.

• At the same time as terrorist structures will be dismantled and the former territory of the IGIL will move under the control of the neradikal′nyh forces, the need to address the future of the Syrian State. Probably should create a federal system involving the alawite and Sunni. If the alawite regions will be integrated into it, appears in this structure and role for Mr. Assad, that will reduce the risks of genocide and chaos that could lead to a new triumph for terrorists.

• From the United States on this Middle East will require military guarantees, which the Administration promised traditional Sunni countries during the discussion of the nuclear deal with Iran and which now require from its critics.

• In this context, the key factor may be Iran. United States must be prepared to engage in dialogue with Iran, if he returns to his normal role, the State acting within the established boundaries and within the principles of the Westphalian system.

United States must decide what role they will play in the 21 century. The Middle East will become for us the first — and perhaps the most severe is a challenge. The inspection this time is not so much the power of our weapons, how many of America's willingness to understand the new world and to manage them.

Mr. Kissinger was national security adviser and Secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Ford.

The Wall Street Journal


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