Friday, June 14, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

A new world order is emerging

Update : 09 Nov 2015, 06:31 PM

This year is seeing the most drastic reshaping of the geopolitics of the Middle East possibly since WW2 -- certainly since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Everything is in flux. Russia and Iran are pushing out the US and NATO in Syria, Iran is already leading the Shia war effort in Iraq, and the Iraqi government is now considering inviting military assistance from Russia against ISIS as well.

This, after the hundreds of billions of dollars that the US has spent on the country. Across the entire Fertile Crescent, the US and its allies are being almost entirely marginalised. As are their interests.

Further to the South, lay the traditional allies of the US in the region: Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. These alliances still hold … for now. Though there is obviously no love lost between the US and these countries. None of the governments of these countries now trust the US. The Egyptian government is still caught up in the ambivalence of the West between its desire for democracy in the region and its desire for stability and for secular governance.

The détente between the US and Iran on the Iranians’ nuclear program has led to Saudi alarm. And the Israelis are hunkering down in their metaphorical bunker as the world around them descends into chaos, and the flames of war are starting to spread to the occupied territories.

To the east, Afghanistan is once again in total chaos, with the Taliban emerging as the most likely group to prevail in the country. And Pakistan, formerly the US’s most reliable ally in the region, is being absorbed into the Chinese sphere of influence with the help, once again, of the Iranians.

In fact, one could argue, the entire East is being reshaped geopolitically according to the needs of Chinese commerce: Pipelines from Russia to China, pipelines from Iran to Pakistan paid for by the Chinese, railways and road infrastructure built by the Chinese in South East Asia in Myanmar to connect them to the deep water port in Kyaukpyu, to the south-west with the trade corridor through Pakistan to connect them to the deep water port of Gwadar, and across the whole of Central Asia, as China is rebuilding the Silk Road.

Muscling in

Russia, Iran, and China are muscling in on the Middle East, and so far it seems that the US and Europe have neither the capacity, nor the will, to do anything about it. The American Century, at least in the Middle East, seems well and truly over. How did it come to this?

For one, the US has taken its eye off the ball. Invading Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11 could have perhaps worked, on its own. The US was able to bring its allies along, and there was a great deal of goodwill towards the American war aims at the time. But, all that was squandered with the insane decision to also invade Iraq. That war clearly overstretched US forces and allowed Iran, Russia, and eventually China, to flex their muscles in their regional spheres of influence against US interests.

The initial response of the Obama administration to the catastrophic consequences of the Bush era warmongering was to pursue a more liberal, international law approach to geopolitics. It was the only way that the US could have sustained its status in the international arena. But, by then, it was already too late. The US had long lost the moral authority to call on other countries to obey international norms, and no longer had the strength to enforce even a semblance of international law.

Its rivals had smelled blood and tasted success. And so, when the Middle East became destabilised in the wake of the Arab Spring, the others pounced. And now, China is carving up the East, Russia the Levant, and Iran every country in its neighbourhood and around the Jordan River.

Just how the situation will look when the dust settles, is impossible to know. But, it is almost certain that there will be very little room left for the US or its European allies in the region. And with that, our access to oil and gas will never be safe or secure ever again.

Transitioning to alternative sources of energy is no longer just a matter for the climate change “hippies.” It should be the highest priority even for the most hawkish neo-conservatives. 

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