Middle East has gone through important changes for the last decades. Especially after 09/11 this region went into dramatic chaos causing disaster for many nations. This graphic shows the international relations which not always reflects its official picture. There have been placed on the map a new state – Kurdistan, which in fact was was constituted by the Iraqi Kurds, and it’s a matter of time and consciousness for the world leaders to recognize it. Most of the relations are obvious. In this text, I will try to clarify those which could be dubious for the reader and will try to describe some of the consequences produced by such relations in the region. The idea of the core, perypheric and influencive countries comes from over fourty-year old theory of the Cantori and Spiegel (L. J. Cantori, S. L. Spiegel, The International Politics of Regions. A Comparative Approach, Engelwood, New Jersey 1970). Despite its age the theory seams still suitable for this region.
First of all there are two strong axis of alliances, very much directed against each other: USA-KSA (and CCG except Qatar)-Israel-Turkey and opposite axis: Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Iraq backed somehow by Russia and China.
Both axis determines the reality of the regional stability. New, non-state actors, like Al-Qaeda or ISIS are very much against everyone in the region, even if they are partially supported by the people or even governments. For the clarity of the graphic (although doubted) I did not placed all GCC relations as they are pretty much same for all the Committee, of course except Qatar, which for a several months distanced itself from the rest of the group.
What needs to be explained for this graph, is the situation of the deeply divided Iraq. There are several centres of power in this falling country. One is the official government which is just a pawn of the Iranian Ayatollahs and relations shown on the graphic apply to this body. Another centre of gravity in Iraq is the Kurdistan which has it’s border, all institutions divided from the Baghdad, and in fact it is a separate state now. Moreover in the face of growing ISIS threat for the region, Peshmerga fighters are the only power, who successfully engaged those radicals. It gives much to the independence of the Kurdistan in Iraq. Another part of Iraq is the Sunni minority, also divided into three parts. First – we can call them moderate are the ordinary Iraqi citizens, who are oppressed by Shia run government. They have tough conditions for living in Iraq as even their representatives were pressed outside government. Difficult situation of Sunni resulted in the emerging Al-Qaeda in the Iraq. Even official US sources admitted, Iraq is the one of the most important centres of Al-Qaeda in the world. The last Sunni part of Iraq organizes itself under influence of the Syrian ISIS fighters. For the graph just the two sources of power in Iraq are represented: Shia lead government steered by Iran and second – Kurdistan, and they are in deep conflict. Just US influence and instability of the country causes that Iraqi government do not start any military operation against Kurds. It appears that Iraqi government is in total conflict of interest with USA, just US makes efforts for desperately keep some kind of influence on them. Fighting ISIS would be another occasion for it, but in fact in long run it will be difficult for US to keep this state under their control. Decisions for this will come from Teheran for sure, the same as for the relation with Sunni or Kurdish minority which were never planned to constitute equal parts of the Iraqi society under this government.
Under Barack Obama administration US tried to change its relation with Iran. Especially after new president Rouhani came to the office there. US is trying to establish better relations with Iran, which would be a very good idea, if Iranian regime would be ready to start some kind of cooperation with west. True face of this regime is well seen in its actions toward their own society. Unfortunately Iranian regime is not moderate and not cooperative, using every measure to get advantage in the region. Another case is, that US will need unofficial agreement with president of Syria Bashar Al-Assad and Iranian Ayatollahs, through president Rouhani, to get rid of the ISIS and Al-Qaeda. But it will be a game in which Iran can earns most and this chess game has to be played very carefully by the US. Iran, Shia government of Iraq and Assad would like to exploit US presence in the Middle East as much as possible, but if USA is enable to prepare masterpiece strategy in case of the fighting ISIS it would benefit for the region and for the USA very much. It can’t be just the strategy for fighting ISIS. That should be mere tactical phase. Intervention against ISIS have to be a part of the greater strategy for the whole region and also have to assess other players reaction and activity. The perfect plan would include: in the same time as intervention, the measures to contain Iran and softened it’s grip of the axis and internal affairs, preserve Iraqi government, force it to recognize Kurdistan and enable Sunni minority to participate in the government, force Assad to reconcile with rebels and stabilize the situation in Syria, renewal of the relations with Egypt and with it’s help finally establish a permanent peace between Israel and Ramallah in a two or one state solution. Maybe the plan of transfer of the part of Sinai Peninsula for the Gazans (if it’s true) would help Palestinians there to marginalize Hamas and join Ramallah for the peace treaty. Such plan would make Obama eternally best world leader, but it is hard to imagine that such plan would even start to be build.
Most important tool for the US, except its military, diplomatic and economic means, is their axis of alliances. It consist of three strongest and very influential players: Turkey, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Israel. The relations between these three are also complicated so it is not easy to base activity on them. One more very important country which used to be very close to US is Egypt. The internal tumult in this country has brought it to the point where Egyptian army finally regaining control for the state tries to be more independent and strengthens its ties with regional powers like GCC. Despite Egyptians anti-Americanism, it seams that Egypt will stay in the alliance with USA. The proof could be the keeping a good relations with Israel.
Russia seams to be not very important player in the region. It’s important for Assad as he was desperate to search for international allies because of the strong efforts to overthrown him. But Iran uses Russian support instrumentally and it is hard to call them allies.