Meet the Middle East’s new villain! - ABDULLAH MURADOĞLU

Meet the Middle East’s new villain!

In the midst of the Cold War, the Moscow-based Soviet Union was supporting the so-called Republicans against the pro-American monarchs in the Middle East. It seemed impossible that any regime in the Middle East would remain afloat without the patronage of the U.S. and Soviets.

America and the Soviet Union had established a balance of power in the Middle East. What the supporting actors of the global power balance had in common is that they were acting as the wardens of their own people. Another role of the U.S. in the Middle East was to protect the Zionist Israeli regime no matter the cost. This was more important that anything else.

Even though the U.S. became the sole power in the region with the conclusion of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the suffering of the region’s peoples continued. Furthermore, with the invasion of Iraq, it became crystal clear that the U.S. was a destructive force, and not a constructive one. The West and the U.S. kept on being an obstruction that hinders democratic transformation.

In the Obama era, the U.S. had turned its attention more toward Asia-Pacific, in other words to China’s sphere of influence. When Russia decided to support the Assad Regime in Syria, the roles were reassigned. During the Cold War Russia established a logistics naval base in Syria. In the last few years, Russia has both increased the number of its military bases in Syria and also equipped them with the capabilities that would facilitate deployment to North Africa.

Donald Trump was elected U.S. president after pledging to withdraw American troops from the endless wars in the Middle East. This pledge was a reflection of the rift between foreign policy elites. It was inevitable that Russia would use this opportunity. According to an article published last May, the U.S.’s Special Representative for Syria James Jeffrey stated that the purpose of the U.S. military presence in Syria was to sink Russia deeper into this quagmire.

The U.S.’s Libya policy is also in shambles. Could this ambiguity have made it easier for Russia to support the forces of Libyan warlord General Khalifa Haftar who is battling the UN-recognized Government of National Accord? How else can we interpret Russia becoming not a problem-solver in Libya but a part of the very problem itself? what’s even stranger is that Russia is supporting Haftar by aligning itself with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and France. Who would’ve thought that Russia would be running amok shoulder-toshoulder with the Saudis and Emiratis, the architects of the devastating civil war in Yemen. Saudi Arabia and the UAE also endorsed General Sisi, who conducted a coup in Egypt. What kind of mastermind brought together Russia with these forces?

Russia is following in the U.S.’s footsteps in the Middle East and North Africa by supporting the anti-public regimes. Private American security firms, primarily Blackwater, are the ones implementing the U.S.’s dirty policies in Iraq. And now, private Russian firms have been unleashed on the ground too.

During the Cold War era, the U.S. had steered Russia in the direction of a deadly competition that ended in bitter disappointment. This rivalry known as the “Star Wars” ultimately destroyed the economy of the Soviet Union. It was further dragged through the mud when it invaded Afghanistan. These two factors brought upon the downfall of the Soviet Union. Well, is Putin’s Russia heading for the same end?

It seems as though the U.S. will put a pause on its activities in the Middle East to reorganize its forces in the region, and also, to stop the rise of China. This inadvertently makes one stop and think, does this have something to do with Russia’s increasing role in the region? Does the U.S. want to hand down its title of being the villain to Russia? Is Putin playing his own game, or is he just a pawn on the bigger picture of the chessboard? Some Americans say that the U.S. withdrawing from the Middle East will result in a vacuum that Russia will be only too happy to try and fill. But couldn’t this vacuum be designed just so it can suck Russia into it? This is the question that has everyone scratching their heads.


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