A tough year awaits the Middle East - KEMAL ÖZTÜRK

A tough year awaits the Middle East

Day by day we lose our hopes for a better future in the geography we live in. I really want to tell you that war, terrorism, poverty, ignorance, and fragmentation will end and that everything is going to be alright.

However, the developments, and the attitudes of the states in the region show that things will not improve. I wish it would, but I presume that we have a tough year ahead.

Let me share the developments which led me to these thoughts which seem a bit pessimistic.

A tough year awaits the people of Iran

There is no doubt that the development which will make things even worse is the cruelest and the most sweeping sanctions of the recent years that were imposed on Iran. These are huge, widescale and extremely comprehensive sanctions which could cause the collapse of a country’s economy, leading it to cut its ties with the rest of the world and thus could greatly harm it. There is no chance that Iran’s economy, which is already in a bad condition, can resist these sanctions. This is a hard situation for the people of Iran.

One of the most important reasons why sanctions include a wide variety of fields is that the threat that came from the U.S., which said it would impose sanctions on any country that would continue their commercial relations with Iran. The tone of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who made the decision public, and his threatening attitude, indicated that the U.S. was declaring war on Iran, rather than imposing sanctions, and that any other country that interacts with Iran will also become their enemy.

Only eight countries were granted waivers from these sanctions. That is, however, for only six months. Thus, they gave these countries a duration of 6 months to end all their commercial agreements with Iran. Later, these countries will have to abide by these strict and merciless sanctions.

Although Europe, Russia, and China declared their regret regarding the sanctions, they canceled all commercial agreements with Iran, and I don’t know how much trade they can covertly conduct. Iran will be selling oil and natural gas to these eight countries, but it is hard to guess how they are going to receive their money. Fifty banks including the Central Bank and more than 700 entities were sanctioned.

The sanctions on Iran may create a domino effect in the region

No objection came from the world regarding the punishment of Iran and the Iranian people by the U.S., which acted in a mafia-like manner that went far beyond the laws of the jungle. Of course, those rhetorical statements have no meaning. No one wants to oppose the biggest economy and the army of the world.

The difficulties Iran is going to suffer, will, of course, affect the countries that are under its influence. Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen, which have been living in a chaotic order, are going to experience worse days.

I guess it wouldn’t be wrong to say that these countries, whose economies were paralyzed since they cannot get aid from Iran, will go bankrupt and thus the instability and chaotic atmosphere will peak in the coming days.

In this case, the countries that will want to take advantage of the chaos and the void may want to make interventions that could change the physical boundaries and governments in the Middle East. It is possible that Israel will want to take advantage of the void and the chaos in Gaza, Ramallah, and Syria; and Saudi Arabia will want to in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq.

I think it is unnecessary to tell you that the U.S. will endlessly support these countries.

PKK/YPG change is a move made only for show

To these, we also need to add the PKK/YPG terror organization. Although the U.S. put a bounty on the head of some so-called leaders of the PKK, everyone knows that this is only for show.

I think, there is a lot worse scenario behind this move.

We see here that the U.S., which wants to disband the PKK and legitimize the YPG, still wants to remain in Syria and insists on its plan to change the map in the long run. I think that the YPG will also become active in the chaos, which will be created in the coming year, and they will attempt to divide Syria and maybe also Iraq, either by declaring a de-facto state or through an actual invasion. The U.S. has provided enough weapons, Saudi Arabia has given enough money and Israel has provided sufficient intelligence for this.

Turkey should produce a strategy for the new status quo

Turkey will be the country that will be under the most pressure. Although Iran exhausted us through amateur political games, we don’t want Iran to fall into a societal chaos, internal conflict and suffer from a huge economic collapse. We may want it to pay for their mistakes, but we don’t want this to happen through an imperial state.

Iran being drawn into a vortex and dragging other countries with it by creating a huge vacuum means that there will be instability in the Middle East which will spread quickly and last for many years.

It is hard to predict how Turkey, the only country that remains standing in the region, will emerge from this process with the least detriment possible. But it is certain that 2019 will be a hard year for us.

If we will be able to produce maneuvers and strategies that could turn the crisis into an opportunity, can we create the conditions which could also save the peoples of the region from this chaotic situation?


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