THERE’S been no shortage of cultural and political figures over the last couple of centuries who would show interest towards the incredibly rich history of the Middle East. Essentially, this region gave birth to economy as we know it, a handful of ancient civilisations on top of three of world’s major religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
The United States started showing interest towards the Greater Middle East (that includes North Africa, Iran and Afghanistan on top of the Levant) as early as in the 19th century, when 20 per cent of its maritime trade was with the Middle East.
However, a lot has changed since those days, both in Washington’s assessment of the role that the Middle East plays in the global affairs and in the way it approaches individual players of this region.
In the aftermath of WWII, in a bid to win the trust of the people of Asia and Africa, Washington opposed attempts made to preserve the British empire and ousted the United Kingdom from the Middle East. This resulted in the Arabs taking Washington’s peaceful intentions at face value, as they assumed that it would try to bring stability to the region. However, it didn’t take long for the United States to start subjugating Israel to its will, and then proceeding with attempts to push the USSR out of the Arab world, in spite of the latter remaining a principal advocate of the socio-economic transformation of a great many of Middle Eastern states.
These days, with a grand total of 52 American bases scattered across the region, there’s no arguing that the United States is hell-bent to dominate the region and its policies, with the local governments being treated as obedient puppets that are only there to wilfully provide a resource base for the sole hegemone. This determination results in Washington finding itself unable to compromise on a number of objectives that can hardly be achieved independently, while one’s desire to secure them all at the same time can only be described as a dangerous delusion. Among those objectives are ensuring America’s control over the entirety of hydrocarbon production of the region, preserving Israel’s primacy in regional affairs, limiting Iran’s role and the influence it enjoys, ensuring that those wealthy regional players carry on buying American weapons in large quantities, etc. Therefore, it is not surprising that these days Arabs can often be heard saying: ‘It’s dangerous to get on the list of enemies of the US. It’s twice as dangerous to end up on the list of its closest allies.’
In a world where the Middle East acquires 35 per cent of the world’s total arms sold each year, Turkish journalists go above and beyond to draw attention to the fact that all of these weapons are being used against Muslims!
Therefore, it can be safely stated that the stage is set for even more bloodshed among Muslims by Washington and its allies that want to control the region by maintaining chaos across it.
In fact, these days the region is endangered by the prospects of a major war. In a situation when regional peace is hanging by a brittle thread, a single rash step can trigger an all-out conflict. It’s most likely that any such conflict will have far-reaching global ramifications and that the fighting will be taking place all across Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iran and the Persian Gulf.
Unfortunately, such a scenario will result in ever greater strengthening of the US military presence in the Middle East and the calls to draw the NATO into the Middle East to police the region. It’s noteworthy that Trump has already urged the North Atlantic Alliance to make a step in that direction in the aftermath of the assassination of the Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.
As it’s been reported, at the beginning of the year, Trump proposed expanding the NATO’s membership to include Middle Eastern nations in the light of recent US tensions in the region with Iran. As it’s been stated by the sitting US president:
‘I think that NATO should be expanded, and we should include the Middle East. Absolutely, because this is an international problem.’
Even though Donald Trump has so far failed to clarify which Middle Eastern nations he would want to invite into the NATO, this mutual-defence alliance created during the Cold War in a bid to impede the expansion of Russia’s influence, has a total of 29 members today, which constitutes a considerable increase from its original 12 members. However, so far it has been made up entirely of North American and European nations, except for Turkey, which is partially located in Asia.
It may seem funny that Trump comes up with all sorts of childish names like NATOME (NATO + the Middle East) for the step that the US is about to take, but chances are the consequences of such a step may leave us little to no room for laughter. In fact, Trump has been asking European countries to join the US campaign of ‘maximum pressure’ against Iran for months, but it seems that it’s been a hard sell, at least for the time being.
The US department of state has also been hard at work bringing Trump’s initiatives into fruition. US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo has recently concluded a series of phone conversations with foreign ministers of the better part of the NATO member-states that was supposed to get them behind this new development.
NATO’s secretary general Jens Stoltenber has already agreed with Pompeo that the NATO was in position to make a greater contribution to ‘regional security’ and the ‘fight against international terrorism’ across the Middle East, as we learned from the joint statement released by the US state department and NATO headquarters.
Some 700 servicemen of the 82nd airborne division of the US armed forces have already left for the Middle East, and they are going to be joined by another three and a half thousand paratroopers in the nearest future.
It’s hard to tell what the most probable outcome of Washington’s new designs is. It is quite clear that when such ‘efforts’ are taken, no sane person will be expecting anything but more feud and bloodshed.
As the United States lost all of its credibility across the world, the Middle East entered a phase of regrouping of forces, when new alliances are being formed. However, the processes that are taking shape before our own eyes suggest there’s going to be a large-scale regional conflict involving a number of countries at once. The fires of the upcoming war are to be seen everywhere, from Libya to the Persian Gulf.
That is why the principal goal of the international community today is to stop this militaristic insanity and to seek a peaceful solution to the armed conflicts that are being artificially created by Washington.
New Eastern Outlook, January 20. Valeriy Kulikov is an expert politologist.