Middle East Politics Explained: The Geopolitical Rivalry
For those of you who were born in the 1950s or 1960s, and who had experienced the Arab embargoes and or the invasion of Kuwait directly, that experience might still be vivid in mind. Oil price skyrocketed almost overnight triggering financial crisis globally, and the middle class especially in the USA or in a European city suffered the most. Powerful nations had never neglected this region ever and had started to station troops and military bases permanently for those security reason since then.
The Arabs of the 1960s and 1970s were not the Arabs of today per se, [pms-restrict subscription_plans=”1623″]it was a tumultuous time for the region, started with the establishment of the state of Israel, and in so doing, displacing millions of Palestinians and had since then, been occupying the original land. All of this was history, stretching back to the Babylonians (present day Iraq), Persians (present day Iran), and Ottomans (present day Turkey), all jostling for regional power by invading and conquering each other. The Babylonians when Eastward, they conquered Persians, and when Westward, they conquered the Levant (present day Syrian and Jordan). There were plenty of battles too among those armies of the Ancient Egypt, Babylonians and Persians, and the early Jews and Arabs, ancient settlers of today’s Israel and Palestine, suffered the most due to the constant raids and battles among these regional rivalry as they stood in the middle of it.
Establishment of Israel
Most of the displaced Jews decided to migrate, and to seek a better life in Europe and beyond, and had been a nomadic tribe without a homeland so to speak. In modern day, and in light of the atrocious Holocaust, the Jews convened among themselves and were convinced that nobody will come to their aid and rescue, and that they had only them themselves to stand up to, and they decided to return back to Jerusalem to proclaim their right, which resulted in the birth of their new state and their newly found homeland, the Kingdom of Israel.
The surrounding Arab states, whom majority were Muslims, saw this as an ‘invasion’ and decided to wage war against Israel, and chiefs among them, were the Iraqis, Egyptians, Iranians and Syrians. Only more powerful or major states decided to stay off the limelight and operated through proxies. This include the likes of Iranians, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. The rest was history, with constant wars like the 6 days war and the numerous Arab-Israeli conflicts even till present day.
It was thus ironic that there is also ‘internal’ fighting among these Arab or Muslim countries themselves, for none other than for regional hegemony, which had dated back to ancient time. In its barest form, Islam is divided into 2 sects, the Sunnis and the Shias, and this was due to the difference on how one was to interpret their leader (akin to electing the Pope). Suffice to say that Saudi Arabia belongs to the Sunni camps and Iran belongs to the Shia camps.
Iranians and Saudis
In this regional hegemony race, this is a zero sum game, as the winner takes all and in it, the underground resources (oil) and the political influence for the outside Muslim world. Iran of the older days was a friendly country to the West, unfortunately, it was short lived and the regime was soon toppled by a Muslim cleric, riding on the wave of populism at that time (the incumbent failed to quell social unrest).
This cleric had argued that all Muslim countries (Iranians) should have been governed by Muslim clerics in accordance to Islamic rules instead of a civilian rules (an idea of no distinct separation between religion and states). As such, it was not difficult to see why this ideology was not irrelevant to the Saudis (Saudi Arabia was ruled by the civilian King Salman family).
Both had been battling each other since then through proxies for gaining the upper hand and to weaken the other’s position. The Iranians had been working with the Houthis in Yemen, in destabilizing the country and disposed of its Saudi-backed ruler and in return, Saudi had fight back directly and indirectly through its proxy to push back the Iranians.
Saudis in the Region
The Saudis had supported Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in the past, and had an alliance with Hamas in the Palestine to exert its Sunni ideology while the Iranian had supported the Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah’s actions had always been secretly supported by the Iranians and are used as proxy to exert Iranian’s agenda in the region.
However today, MB’s backers were primarily the Qataris and the Turkish. The Muslim Brotherhood played a pivotal movement in overthrowing the Egyptian’s regime of Hosni Mobarak, the longest serving Egyptian president who had clung to power, and in so doing, threatened the ‘democracy’ of those from Tunisia to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis had a dirty hand in Syrian civil war too by supporting a faction opposed to the present day Iranian-back Syrian’s ruler, Bashar al Ashad.
In Iraq, the Saudis supported the Kurdish regional government (the mainly Sunni minority) against the majority Shia population. Saddam was a Sunni supported by Baath party and had enjoyed the financial support of Kuwait in return of pushing back the Iranian hegemony. At the end of the Iraq-Iran war, Iraq was unable to repay the USD 14 Billion loan and pleaded Kuwait to forgive its debt to no avail and as such, Iraq invaded Kuwait.
Iranian in the Region
In battling for influence, the Iranians had proxies too in several countries ranging from supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, Houthis in Yemen, and had a hand in Syrian civil war by supporting incumbent president Bashad al Ashad. The Iranians were battling the Iraqis and targeted Kuwaitis too as they helped Iraqis during the Iraq-Iran war, and in the aftermath of Saddam’s downfall, had enjoyed relative easiness in operating in Iraq.
Israel and Iran
The Iranians had always hated Israel, seen as an encroachment into the Muslim world and had been active through proxies in Lebanon, Palestine and Syria to attack targets in Israel by means of terrorism and nuclear weapons development (which was pushed back by Stuxnet). Israel did even carried out direct attack on nuclear installations in enemy states such as in Syria and Iraq and had been wagering to stage similar attack in Iran if not for the USA intervention. Due to the constant threats, this state had been self-reliant and ever alert and as such, were able to develop and deploy sophisticated technology quickly in order to thwart future such attacks. Its intelligence is top notch and its clandestine operations were unparallel. Their intelligence agencies had always been a Middle East source for the Western agencies.
Presently, the fighting remains as is the pursue for regional hegemony, and conflicts were foreseen to be around for many years to come. As Tim Marshall eloquently put in his book “Prisoners of Geography”, the battle for the future of the Arab Middle East has taken the spotlight off Israel-Arab struggle. The fixation with Israel/Palestine does sometime return, but the magnitude of what is going on elsewhere has finally enabled at least some observers to understand that the problems of the region do not come down to the existence of Israel. That was a lie peddled by the Arab dictators as they sought to deflect attention from their own brutality, and sadly it was bought by many across the area and the dictators’ useful idiots in the West. Nevertheless, the Israel/Palestinian joint tragedy continues, and such is the obsession with this tiny piece of land that it may again come to be considered as the most pressing conflict in the Middle East. [/pms-restrict]https://straitsjournal.com/middle-east-politics-explained-the-geopolitical-rivalry/GlobalLatest ThinkingPoliticsarab,israel,middle eastFor those of you who were born in the 1950s or 1960s, and who had experienced the Arab embargoes and or the invasion of Kuwait directly, that experience might still be vivid in mind. Oil price skyrocketed almost overnight triggering financial crisis globally, and the middle class especially in...escveritas [email protected]AdministratorThe Straits Journal