Divided, not by their own will but by the powers that colonized the region, the countries of the Middle East are reorganizing themselves according to their own logic. Of course, the new alliances are still fragile, but Western powers will have to get used to them.
What makes understanding the Middle East difficult is that a multitude of actors move in that region, who follow different logics and, depending on the circumstances, establish alliances or break them. Sometimes we think we know that region politically, we think we know who our friends are and who our enemies are, but we end up realizing that, after a few years, the landscape has radically changed, and seeing how some of our old friends have changed. They have become enemies while other of our old friends now wish to see us dead.
That is what is happening now and, in a few months, everything will have changed in that region.
1) First we have to understand that some protagonists, who previously lived in desert regions, have been forced by circumstances to organize themselves into tribes. Their very survival depended on their obedience to the boss, for them democracy means nothing and their reactions are communitarian. In that case there are, for example, many Saudi and Yemeni tribes, Iraqi Sunnis descendants of the former and Kurdish tribes, Israeli and Lebanese communities and Libyan tribes. With the exception of the Israelis, these populations have been the main victims of the United States military project – the Rumsfeld / Cebrowski strategy of destroying the very structures of the States in the countries of the Middle East  -, They have not understood what was at stake in their countries and now they see themselves as orphans of a solid state capable of defending them.
2) A second category of actors is moved by personal interest. The only thing they are interested in is filling their pockets and they have absolutely no empathy for anyone. This category adapts to any political situation and always manages to be on the side of the winner. From it comes the contingent of staunch allies of all the imperialists who have dominated the region – the Ottoman Empire, the British Empire, French imperialism and, today, US imperialism.
3) The third category of actors is the one that acts in defense of their Nation. He acts with the same courage as the tribal populations, but is capable of taking a broader view of things. This is the category of actors who, over the millennia, created the notion of the City and later the very concept of the State. In it are the Syrians, who were the first people to form what we now call the State and who today are giving their lives to preserve theirs.
Seen from the West, it is generally thought that these different actors are fighting for an ideal, for liberalism or communism, for Arab unity or Islamic unity, etc. But, in practice, that view of things always turns out to be false. For example, almost all Yemeni communists have ended up becoming members of al-Qaeda.
Worst of all, in the West these actors are judged as if they were incapable of keeping up with Westerners. In fact, it is the other way around: Westerners, who have lived in peace for at least three-quarters of a century, have lost touch with certain simple realities. The world is full of dangers and alliances are necessary to survive. In the West we choose to join a group (which can be national, as in other latitudes it would be tribal) or to slip through our enemies alone, leaving our friends and family behind. Of course, ideologies exist but they will only be taken into account when the actor has already defined his position in relation to the 3 aforementioned categories.
Since the end of World War II, the political landscape of the Middle East had remained in a state of coagulation around several crises:
- The expulsion of the Palestinians from their lands (since 1948);
- The weakening of the British and French empires vis-à-vis the United States and the USSR (during the Suez Canal crisis in 1956);
- The surveillance and quasi-control of oil in the Persian Gulf by the United States (beginning with the Carter administration, in 1979);
- The disappearance of the USSR and the hegemony of the United States (since Operation “Desert Storm”, in 1991);
- The Rumsfeld / Cebrowski strategy (as of 2001);
- The resurgence of Russia (in 2015).
All other political and military events, including the Iranian Revolution and the so-called “Arab Springs”, are only epiphenomena of that plot. None of them sparked the emergence of new alliances. All, on the contrary, strengthened the alliances that already existed to try in vain to guarantee victory to some actor.
The now former US President Donald Trump, who had set himself the only goal in the Middle East to close the “endless war” conceived by the Rumsfeld / Cebrowski duo, did not have time to complete that task. But he managed to get the Pentagon to stop using jihadists as mercenaries in service of its objectives – although the Biden administration’s Defense Department is doing so again. The main thing is that Trump “kicked the board” by questioning the Palestinian cause.
Despite everything that was said and written at the time, Trump’s goal was not to favor Israel but to make a series of realities recognized: the Palestinians have lost 5 wars against Israel one after another. During all that time, they have tried, twice, to settle elsewhere and to conquer new lands by force – Jordan and Lebanon. And they ended up signing an agreement with Israel (in Oslo). Faced with these realities, how can one still speak of their inalienable rights, if they themselves have not respected them? .
Whether or not we agree with that reasoning, the truth is that many in the Arab world share it, although no one confesses it. We have all been able to verify that the powers that defend the Palestinian cause in their speeches do absolutely nothing for it, that it is only a political position adopted to keep things as they are and get the most out of it. The fact is, Trump managed to get the UAE and Bahrain to sign the Abraham Accords with Israel. Yesterday’s enemies agreed to make peace. Contrary to what everyone believes, this is not easier for Israel than for its Arab interlocutors since peace forces Israel to stop being a colonial state inherited from the British Empire and to become a nation like the others, called to live in harmony and understanding with their environment.
Those changes, if they finally continue, must take time. But the United Arab Emirates and Israel, on the one hand, and Saudi Arabia and Iran on the other, now pose a new question: Will they all have to prepare for a new danger? That danger would be the expansionism of Turkey and Qatar.
That is what has led the UAE and Israel to establish an alliance with Greece and Cyprus, while Saudi Arabia and Iran have started secret talks. Egypt – representative of the Arab League, of which some of the aforementioned countries are members – and France – representative of the European Union, to which Greece and Cyprus belong – participated in a preparatory meeting, called Forum Philia ( Forum of the Fraternity) and held in Athens, the Greek capital. This abrupt modification of the alliances is developing within the greatest possible discretion, but it is already underway.
The most important fact is the military alliance between Greece and Israel, on the one hand, and, on the other, between the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Although many of the agreements are still unknown, it is known that the Israeli armed forces will train the Greek air force, in exchange for $ 1.65 billion, while Greece will send Patriot anti-aircraft missiles to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. it could cede some of its warplanes to Greece.
Relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates have been established since an alleged Israeli “representation” was opened in Abu Dhabi before a UN agency. That Israeli office unofficially functioned as the Israeli embassy in the United Arab Emirates. As for the relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, they already existed since both countries started secret talks, in 2014-2015.
On the other hand, the negotiations between Saudi Arabia and Iran demonstrate once again that the opposition between Sunnis and Shiites is totally artificial. It is enough to remember that in 1992, far from detesting each other, both countries were fighting together – under the orders of the United States – in favor of Muslim Bosnia-Herzegovina, against Orthodox Serbia.
Copyright Dossier Geopolitica