Wed. October 22, 2014 Get Published  Get Alerts
HOME  |LOGIN
ABOUT | CONTACT US | SUPPORT US
From the MENA, Yet Another Dilemma

Comments(2)
The MENA theatre is situated in one of the most fascinating locations of the world. It actually represents (along with the Balkans-Caucasus) the only existing land corridor that connects 3 continents. It also holds over a half of the world’s proven oil-gas reserves (56% – oil, 48% – gas). Further on, the Gulf OPEC states and Libya have –by far– the lowest costs of oil extraction thanks to the high crude ‘purity’ (measured by overall properties such as a state of aggregation, excavation gravity, viscosity, weight, degree of sulfuric and other contaminants) which is simplifying and cheapening the refinement process. These petrol-exporters also enjoy the close proximity to open warm seas for the low-cost, fast and convenient overseas shipments. (Hence, the costs per barrel of crude for Libya and the Persian Gulf states are under 5USD, for other OPEC members below 10UDS. This is in a sharp contrast to countries such as the US, Russia, Norway, Canada and many others that bear production costs of several tens of USD per barrel – according to the International Energy Agency /IEA/).

Therefore, it is an absolute imperative for the external/peripheral powers to dominate such a pivotal geo-economic and geopolitical theater by simply keeping its center soft (e.g. preventing any emancipation that might come through the indigenous socio-political modernization). This is the very same imperative that was a dominant rational of inner European and Asian machtpolitik for centuries.

No wonder that the competition in the MENA theatre, which has a lasting history of external domination or interference (and largely the Versailles, Anglo-French drawn borders), is severe, multiple, unpredictable. The region is predominantly populated by the Sunni (Arab) Muslims. With its high population density, and demographic growth stronger than economic one, this very young median population (on average 23–27 years old) is dominated by juvenile, mainly unemployed or underemployed, but socially mobilized and often angry males. Political radicalization (besides exploitation of the Shia–Sunni and of Muslim–Jewish antagonism) is surely one of the most convenient instruments of tacit control aimed at to preserve governing authorities weak, if not incapacitated.

It is of no surprise that in each and every of the predominantly Sunni-Muslim Balkans-MENA country of the secular republican type, where the external powers have brokered the political settlement, is enveloped in perpetuated instabilities, and thus paralyzed. So far, no single monarchy has been (significantly) affected. From Bosnia (nearly 20 years ago), then Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya (as well as in the post-‘Spring’ Egypt, Tunis, Yemen, all the way to ‘ungoverned’ Mali, South Sudan and Algeria’s south), there is a purposely dysfunctional and indecisive central government put in place.

Conclusively, the most observers would agree that, while the so-called Arab Spring was of cross-Arab outreach, it was far from being pan-Arabic; more of a spontaneous social revolt (Al-Jazeera-connecting-pots) series of events, than any directional process. To channel something unexpectedly inflammatory and cross-Arab, but avoiding pan-Arabism as well as any sincere structural socio-economic reform and political emancipation can be achieved only by lightening the torch of Islamism. For one thing, as it now seems, the euphorically tam-tamed ‘Facebook revolutions’ across MENA were rather a strategic distraction ‘innocently’ dressed up in diverting banalities of social media networks. The very same role those networks well played elsewhere too.

Currently, the announced reductions of the American physical presence in Afghanistan, its limits in (nearly failed, nuclear, state of) Pakistan, massive overextensions suffered on the southwestern flank of the Euro-Asian continent as well as the recent US Army pullout from Iraq, is felt within the GCC (in France, Israel and Turkey too) as dangerous exposure to neighboring (increasingly anticipated as assertive) Iran, as well as Russia and China behind it. Right now, Syria pays a (proxy war) price for it: This multi-religious country may end up entirely combusted, creating a dangerous security vacuum in the heart of MENA. Or to use the words of frustration of the senior French diplomat who recently told me in Brussels: “we have to quickly delegitimize the legitimate Syrian government and topple al-Assad in order to convince Israel not to bomb Iran…”

As recently, the ‘Group of Friends of Syria’- induced recognition of the so-called Syrian opposition means also that Turkey is now practically at war with Syria. At this point, let me be both instructive and predictive: Fall of al-Assad would most certainly trigger dissolution of Syria. It would also lead to a formalized federalization of Iraq in a desperate move to prevent its total decomposition as well as to a serious crisis of Lebanese and Jordanian statehood, probably beyond reparation. The (short-run) winner should than seem to be Israel along with the GCC monarchies. However, in a long run (even the northern portions of Syria being occupied by the Turkish army for quite some time), it would be Kurds and Shias. Consequently, any proclamation of Kurdish state the Erdogan government (as well as Iraq) would not survive – as it already created enough enemies at home and in its near abroad. Ergo, besides the dispersed, rarified and terrified MENA Christians, the (modernized) Sunnis are definitely the long-term losers.

Anis H. Bajrektarevic, Geopolitics of Energy Editorial Member
Chairperson for Intl. Law & Global Pol. Studies
Vienna, 22 JAN 2013
contact: anis@bajrektarevic.eu



This article is an excerpt from the key-note address: ‘Future of the EURO-MED and OSCE’ to be presented at the Crans Montana Forum, in March 2013 in Paris, France


Comments in Chronological order (2 total comments)

Report Abuse
Thu, December 26, 2013 05:47 AM (about 7201 hours ago)
Les deux sont entièrement consacrés, soutenu et promu par les médias sociaux. Très polarisant, les deux sont fracturation à un consensus. Que Lady Gag
 
Thu, December 26, 2013 05:55 AM (about 7200 hours ago)
Set forth with the military deployments in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya to the post-conflict ‘resolution’ momentum in these states – it
 
Quick Links Twitter Face Book Get Alerts Contact Us Enter Ia-Forum Student Award Competition
International Affairs
Forum - (2014 Issue 1)

Available Now
ANNOUNCEMENTS
THE WORLD'S DISCUSSING...
12/15/2014: Modern Times in North Korea: Scenes from its Founding Years, 1945-1950 More
12/01/2014: Waking from the Dream: the Struggle for Civil Rights in the Shadow of Martin Luther King More
11/17/2014: The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the Revolutionary World, and the Fate of Empire More
10/28/2014: FAPESP-U.S. Collaborative Research on the Amazon More
10/27/2014: Synchronized Factories: Latin America and the Caribbean in the Era of Global Value Chains More
10/27/2014: Sino-Soviet Relations and the Dilemmas of Socialist Bloc Cooperation: Czechoslovaks in Shanghai, 1956-57 More
10/23/2014: “A Sort of Chautauqua” More
10/23/2014: World Population and Human Capital in the Twenty-first Century (Book Launch) More
10/22/2014: Establishing China’s Modern Fiscal System More
10/22/2014: Ukraine, Russia, and the International Order More
10/22/2014: Global Implications of Data Flows between the U.S. and EU More
10/22/2014: Global Implications of Data Flows between the U.S. and EU More
10/21/2014: CGD Event: 2014 Commitment to Development Award Reception More
10/21/2014: Why China No Longer Wants Cheap Coal More
10/21/2014: The Complexity of Russia More
10/21/2014: Development blog: Saturday Night Live Satirizes Kinky Development More
10/21/2014: Development blog: Six Reasons an Ebola Travel Ban Makes Us No Safer — and No Sense More
10/21/2014: Saddam Husayn and Islam: Ba’thi Iraq 1968-2003 from Secularism and Faith More
10/21/2014: MENA Women's News Brief More
10/21/2014: Brazil’s Presidential Election: An Early Assessment of the Outcome and its Political, Economic and Foreign Policy Implications More
10/21/2014: What Goes into a Medal: Women's Inclusion and Success at the Olympic Games [pdf] More
10/21/2014: A Climate Agreement for the Decades More
10/21/2014: In China, Law Isn't Winning More
10/21/2014: Mexico's Involvement in UN Peacekeeping Operations More
10/21/2014: Cross-Border Data Flows, the Internet and What it Means for U.S. and EU Trade and Investment More
10/21/2014: Cross-Border Data Flows, the Internet and What it Means for U.S. and EU Trade and Investment More
10/21/2014: Global Prosperity Wonkcast: Who Pollutes Most? Surprises in a New US Database - Kevin Ummel More
10/21/2014: Will Japan Bet the Farm on Agricultural Protectionism? More
10/21/2014: Cato Institute Announces New Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives More
10/21/2014: We Have No Idea if Universal Preschool Actually Helps Kids More
10/20/2014: Global Health blog: UHC in Latin America: Learning from the Past, Planning for the Future More
10/20/2014: Mexico in Peacekeeping Operations: A Late and Controversial Decision - The Expert Take More
10/20/2014: The OAS Leadership Transition More
10/20/2014: Is China Unwinding its Foreign Exchange Reserves? Not Just Yet More
10/20/2014: Empowering Revolution: America, Poland, and the Moderates who Ended the Cold War More
10/20/2014: More Bad News for Airbnb More
10/20/2014: U.S.-Russia Relations: Beyond the Crisis in Ukraine More
10/20/2014: U.S.-Russia Relations: Beyond the Crisis in Ukraine More
10/20/2014: Jane Harman on The Daily Rundown More
10/20/2014: Global Health blog: Getting Hospitals Right: Dispatches from Our Cape Town Consultation Session More
10/20/2014: The Energy Security Renaissance in North America More
10/20/2014: Does Democracy Matter? More
10/20/2014: Dau Voi, Duoi Chuot (Head of an Elephant, Tail of a Mouse) More
10/20/2014: The Resistance in South Vietnam following the “Geneva Convention” More
10/20/2014: History of the Southern Resistance or History of the Communist Resistance? More
10/20/2014: Introduction to the Commentaries on the History of the Southern Resistance More
10/20/2014: L?ch s? Nam b? kháng chi?n and the Interwar Period More
10/20/2014: The Urban Movement and the Planning and Execution of the Tet Offensive More
10/20/2014: Caught Between Propaganda and History More
10/20/2014: Some Clarifications on L?ch s? Nam b? kháng chi?n More
More...
About | Contact Us | Support Us | Terms and Conditions

All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2002 - 2014