Confrontations in the Middle East are out of control

Statue of Rafiq Hariri, former Lebanese PM

The Middle East, in fact the entire world, is going through a difficult period, one in which the region is enjoying a loosening of controls even though Russia has invaded Ukraine and China could invade Taiwan at any time. Ahmad Abdul-Rahman explains what is happening.

Whoever observes the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), especially since the Ukraine war began, notes that there are some confrontations in the region that are not controlled. Moreover, if the great powers were to intervene, they are increasingly unable to control them.

These crises have been developing for decades and have intensified since changes in US policy began in 2009, says secretary general of the Atlantic Parliamentary Group, Walid Fares. These conflicts erupted during the Arab Spring. However, since the Ukraine war they are on the verge of getting out of control. The Security Council is in a state of paralysis, the Russian-Ukrainian war is destabilising Europe, China could cause a war with Japan or Taiwan, North Korea is threatening to carry out more ballistic missile strikes, and confrontations are spreading in Africa and Latin America.

The divisions in the Security Council between the West and the East, and the deep political division within the US, are only encouraging more conflict. Before the Ukraine war, and before the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, there was some communication between Moscow and Washington DC, and between the Security Council's five permanent members. It wants to impose a ceasefire as well as starting talks.

In the Middle East, confrontations are almost out of control unless Washington DC is more effective in its foreign policy. It needs to send a unified message to the rest of the world and affirm its determination to confront terrorism, extremism, and civil unrest generally. Unfortunately, this strategy is unlikely to be pursued mainly because of the deepening divisions inside the US. The Ukraine war has also divided the world in the style of the Cold War, breaking the hold of the Security Council.

Iranian lawlessness

There are a number of conflicts that are outside the control of the Security Council, and Washington DC. The most important and greatest of these is the confrontation between the Iranian regime (Shi'ite) and the Mideast region as a whole. (Sunni). This regional confrontation became a major flashpoint years ago.

The war adventures launched by regional players include Saddam Hussein's uncalculated invasions of southwestern Iran in 1980 and Kuwait in 1990. His wars internationally serve as examples of rogue wars and can be compared with Hafez al-Assad's (he was a former president of Syria) wars in Lebanon, where attacks were very accurate, calculated, and successful. His occupation of Lebanon lasted for nearly 29 years, from 1976 to 2005.

Like the Assad regime in Syria, the mullahs in Tehran seized power in 1989. Their militias fought wars, but mistakes were made, such as the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, who was then Lebanon's prime minister, in 2005. This was in retaliation to the issuance of Resolution 1559 calling for the expulsion of Assad's forces from Lebanon, which resulted in a clash between the militias of Lebanon and Syria. Since the summer of 2021 and the winter of 2022, Iran's ability to challenge countries in the region has weakened. Iran believes that the Biden administration's determination to confront it has receded in order to ensure it signs the nuclear agreement.

The Turkish-Greek clash

Another scenario, which was not possible in the past due to the presence of NATO and American authority, is the escalation in tensions between the government of President Erdogan in Turkey and the Greek government. Although the Turkish-Greek conflict is historical, the membership of the two countries in NATO helps a lot in defusing that conflict between  them.The escalation in tensions between Ankara and Athens began with disputes over the boundaries in the Mediterranean Sea, and Greece's rejection of Turkey's plans to explore in an area that Athens considers to be within its investment space. The dispute expanded as Turkey intervened in favour of the Brotherhood in Libya, and Greece's support for the Libyan army. After that, the tension expanded with Greece establishing alliances with the "Arab Alliance" which includes Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This is in addition to the alliance with Israel. In 2022, the conflict finally reached the Greek islands close to the Turkish coast. Ankara wants this demilitarized, which Athens rejects.

The verbal clash between the two governments has reached mutual threats with the possibility of resorting to the military. Analysts had thought for decades that this scenario would be almost impossible because of the presence of NATO and American pressure.

Hijab protests in Iran and abroad
Hijab protests in Iran and abroad


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Saturday, 30 September 2023