Saturday, April 16, 2011

It all Started With Tunisia: Part 1

by Yevgeny Satanovsky

The initial phase of Operation Odyssey Dawn to peace enforcement of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi makes it possible not only to analyze a first approximation, the correlation of forces and tactics states, movements and international organizations operating in the Middle East, but also to assess the current Russian policy in this space terms of the ratio of ambition and capacity of domestic agencies and organizations. Those heads of departments and organizations that are imbued with an understandable, albeit unproductive nostalgia for Soviet times, it is believed a reasonable attempt to return to them, competing with the West in all possible directions and responding promptly to any proposal of the ruling regimes on military-technical cooperation, economic assistance and construction or lease in the region bases.

In this case, is often ignored not only the current situation, but also the experience of the past. Paradoxically, the lobbyists, such an approach identical to that of their ideological opponents who believe the Soviet Union an "evil empire". Problem in the fact that automatic awarding to the Islamic world of status of the ally of Russia in the future opposition with the West, characteristic for the end “of zero”, is so far from the political realism as blind movement in the fairway of western policy, characteristic of the first half of the 90th.

The following assessment of the state of affairs in the region at the end of March this year, summarizes data experts Middle East Institute (IPM), whose works are publicly available on the website IPM. Since attempts to rank countries on the political situation of tension, population and other parameters of this kind are necessarily subjective, the geography has been selected as basis: the transfer goes from west to east.


Each State, as the wick

The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is currently playing the role of chief of Iran a foothold in West Africa, especially after a significant conflict of Senegal, Gambia and Nigeria with Iran because of Iranian supply of weapons to opposition groups in these countries. In the case of transfer of military operations against Qaddafi in Libya interior of the country can play the role of a rear base of Al-Qaeda Maghreb (AQM). The probability of conflicts between the Moors and living in the lower right bank of the Senegal River representatives of the African tribes, as well as "white" and "black" Moors (the relationship between the de facto preserve features of patriarchal slavery).

The Kingdom of Morocco - the most stable regime in the Maghreb, which in case of unrest in the country, threatening its stability, can count on massive support for the EU and the U.S., including military. At the same time a high probability of “youth revolution" by the Tunisian model. AQM Islamists are the real threat to the ruling regime, and also use Morocco as a rear base for operations in France and Spain, although not part of the alliance with the Western Saharan Marxists, "Sahrawi" of the Polisario Front, based in the territory of Algeria country - the main transit corridor of illegal immigration from North Africa to the Iberian peninsula (in the Strait of Gibraltar and the Spanish border enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla). In case of aggravation of situation in the region there is a high likelihood of organizations with terrorist attacks in Morocco in relation to vessels passing through the Strait of Gibraltar or entering the ports of the kingdom, as well as going to Europe pipeline.

The ruling military regime in Algeria to keep the situation under control, putting out the protest movement in the early stages. In the case of the weakening of the ruling junta, the conflict in its leadership, or the resignation of President Bouteflika's likely resumption of civil war between the military and political elite and the Islamist opposition, which claimed in 1992 hundreds of thousands of lives. There are protests Berber Kabylia, initiated in France.Algeria keeps the value of one of the main "suppliers" of illegal immigrants in Spain and France, as well as a rear base of radical Islamists and their control of terrorist groups operating in the EU.

Tunisia is in transition. Transformation of government institutions is not complete. The basis of the "new elite" are representatives of the state establishment, belonging to the clans is not included in the first echelons of power in the reign of deposed President Ben Ali, part of supporters of his predecessor - President Bourguiba. His own clan, Ben-Ali and Trabelsi (wife of ex-president) will be confiscated and privatized after reaching agreement on this issue between the current leaders of the country.Most of the police and security services were out of work. Protests and unrest overwhelming force in the capital continued. The economic situation is deteriorating, foreign tourism collapsed. Stream traveling in Italy is growing, while new refugees are coming into the country from Libya.


The Civil War in Libya acquires a protracted nature. Before the outbreak of hostilities, the European-American coalition against al-Gaddafi, leader of which is French President Sarkozy supporting the regime forces have established control over most of the country. Currently, infrastructure defense, air force and much of Libya's heavy equipment destroyed. The opposition is fragmented, it includes tribal sheiks, former members of government-Qadhafi and the Islamists - from Al-Qaeda Maghreb "to supporters of the Sufi-senusitov (Benghazi). If in the bombing Gaddafi will not die, the odds of a ground operation against which the act until all members of the coalition because of the inevitability of a large number of victims. In case a war in this phase of the high probability of internationalization of the conflict and strengthen the Islamists, by analogy with Iraq and Afghanistan. Is still a danger of the regime of chemical weapons (mustard gas, sarin). It should be noted ongoing efforts to Gaddafi dialogue with the West. Translation of the coalition operations under NATO control can alleviate the situation as a result of Turkey's position. League of Arab States, which initiated UN Security Council resolution on the basis of which the coalition has taken an evasive position, condemning the bombing.

In Egypt, the continuing "cleansing" in the higher echelons of power. Approximate ex-president Mubarak has consistently banished from public office, often on charges of corruption. Ruling group, the core of which is the conservative wing of the generals, while maintaining strong relations with U.S. (military and economic assistance to America is the foundation of stability in the country), cools relations with Israel, to establish a dialogue with Iran, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.  Forceful suppression of the statements of women and Coptic Christians, undertaken by the Islamists attempt to lynch ElBaradei (former head of the IAEA), the attack on the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon "for anti-Libyan” activities, freezing the supply of natural gas to Israel - a characteristic feature of the new" democratic Egypt . The country's economy is strained, the tourism sector in the collapse. Increasing flow of refugees from Libya. The likelihood of war with Israel is currently low, despite the support of the new leadership of Hamas in Gaza - in case of conflict, the Egyptian army will be destroyed by the Israelis in the Sinai. Sprouting conflict of radical Islamists and Christians, as well as the inevitable period of 5-10 years the water, ecological and demographic crises, the impact of each of which are irreversible, may put Egypt in the medium term on the brink of disaster.

Sudan, which broke into two states according to the results of the last in January, a referendum on self-determination for the south (the outcome of which raised the question of revision of post-colonial borders across Africa), gradually returning to a state of civil war between the government and separatists in Darfur, Kordofan and other regions. Separatist militants control the refugee camps, which number (as well as victims of civil war and tribal strife) in the Sudan in the millions. The conflict over oil-rich areas of the province of Abyei revived opposition to Khartoum and Juba. Its role in the escalation of tension are not only tribal but intratribal conflicts (Nuer, Dinka, the Zaghawa, Misseriya, Masalit, Fur, etc.). The problem section of oil revenues between the central and local elites could theoretically be solved by analogy with the agreement of the Government and the leaders of the South release of new territorial units with additional funding from their budgets (Darfur will be divided into five states).At the same time the problem of the onset of the Sahara, escalating confrontation between nomadic pastoralists with sedentary farmers, has no solution. In connection with the civil war in Tripoli Libya, peacekeeping in Sudan frozen at maintaining the political activity of Qatar, the United States and France, and economic - China.

Ethnic religious strife in Eritrea and Djibouti, the rivalry with the neighbors (the confrontation with Yemen, Eritrea and Ethiopia), the presence on their territory, a significant number of refugees and displaced persons, the influence of Iran, using the Sudan and the Horn of Africa for the transit of weapons into Gaza, aggravate the situation in these countries. It should be noted the importance of Djibouti, which serves as the base of the Navy and French Air Force and the reference point-based U.S. as the only deepwater port in the region to confront Somali pirates. The effectiveness of this fight without stripping off the Somali coast is minimal. The water area is controlled by pirates in the Indian Ocean, covers the coast of India, Mauritius and the Seychelles, the amount received by the corsairs buyouts is growing from year to year, and the world court system demonstrates in this issue helpless, but not limited to categorically opposing the presence on board the captured ships of private security . Somali government de facto no longer exist, replaced by enclaves, the largest of which - Puntland and Somaliland, living mostly due to piracy and arms smuggling. As the leading military and political strength of the South advocates the radical Islamic movement Al-Shabab, confront him only troops from African nations. In the country and that much worse - beyond, including in Kenya and Yemen, are concentrated several million refugees and displaced persons. Hundreds of thousands of people from Somalia living in the U.S. and the EU, forming a closed fraternities, are the core of criminal gangs and "logistical support" Somali pirates working for them, intelligence and financial performance.

Balancing on the brink of civil war, Yemen has a detonator for the entire Arabian Peninsula, the most populous and poorest country. The refusal of President Saleh to retire after the ultimatum, put forward by him to the united opposition – face of Mushtaraka, tempers the situation in the country. Gone to the opposition a number of army units headed by a half-brother and potential successor to President - General Mohsen al-Ahmar in Sana'a and declared a state of emergency, with the apparent lack of military resources the president to carry out this decision in life, turned into open conflict phase. Win his ruling YAR in 1978 (and the combined Yemen from 1990), Saleh does not hope. This is evidenced by the preparation for his residence in Saudi Arabia, but the opposition of his opponents and manipulating his parts, which, as with Gaddafi in Libya, led by his close relatives, including sons, started and is unlikely to end with small losses. Although a quarter century immigrants from Yemen replenish the composition of Al-Qaeda in this country it is relatively sparse and does not constitute a major strike force in contrast to the information spread by Saleh in the West, seeking financial and military support.

This cannot be said about tribes - Zaidi North and South Shaafa'is, whose militia are armed with heavy weapons, including surface-to-surface missiles. Northerners have old scores with Saudi Arabia because of the Yemeni province of Assyria, at one time conquered by Ibn Saud. Also Southerners – because Saudi lobbied the ban to the entry into the power structures of united Yemen “of socialists” - the military-political elite of that been of PDRY (People's Democratic Republic of Yemen)- military and political elite of the former Southern Yemen. It is unknown whether the decline will lead Saleh to the automatic separation of South Yemen, but that a year ago, the northern tribes Howes defeated an elite Saudi National Guard - a fact known throughout the Arab world. However, the resulted casualties undermine the suicide bombing of the American destroyer USS Cole in Aden harbor. Another unique reason for the release of internal conflict in Yemen beyond the borders of this country - the problem of water: its stocks in this country is nearing zero. Over one and a half decades experts expected the first "water war" in the Arab world, it was supposed to be a conflict of Yemen and Saudi Arabia.Today it's time has come, coinciding with regional revolutions and coups, reducing to zero the probability of realization of the American plan to build in Yemen nuclear desalination plant.Yemen Civil War also played a role for neighboring Oman, the separatist movement in the border province of Dhofar in Southern Yemen, supported with 60ies with the Yemeni territory, may flare up again is much easier than in my time have been repaid.


Soviet megaprojects in the past

Russian policy in Middle East can not copy Soviet policy by definition. Required for this reserve - the technical, financial and human - there is not with us, nor all together in the West, China and Southeast Asian countries and Japan, which will affect everything that happens anyway. In the period since the 60's and 80's - the peak of regional activity in Moscow, there was not only the collapse of the socialist system and our own country. The region has changed dramatically. Its population has grown significantly. Problem - on the order; elite degraded. Realizing the potential for conflict in the wars and internal strife, whose scale is comparable to the difficulties encountered in Europe after the Second World War. However, Middle East, with few exceptions does not possess in the foreseeable future is unlikely to have the industrial, intellectual and agricultural bases, which are allowed to revive the post-war Europe. Today should rather not wait for recovery after a short period of unsettled, but several decades of coups, revolutions, ethnic and religious cleansing, civil wars, interstate conflicts on the territory of which the older generation local specialists remembers the times of construction of metallurgical plants and dams.

Supply of military and civilian technology in joint projects have remained a monument of our activities in the Arab world during the second half of the twentieth century. The problem is that these mega-projects bankrupted the Soviet Union, setting the decay of our country. According to the most approximate estimates, the state of "socialist orientation" and the state of the third world, most of which are located in Middle East and Africa, we must remain more than $160 billion - considerably more than the entire foreign debt of the USSR and Russia. Not a single Middle Eastern country, a former partner of the USSR, which would not have to write off billions of dollars in recent times debts in order to start her cooperation "from scratch". Unselfishness of this kind is well up to certain limits and beyond those, of course, are Russia's strategic interests.

Presence in the Middle East "at any cost" could still be justified in a period of global confrontation between the superpowers, when the rivalry between ideological systems could escalate into military confrontation. This task is no longer facing the Russian Federation.The investments of China, USA, Europe redeem always and everywhere. In order not to lose in the competition with them, for Russia it is necessary to, in the first place, learn to consider that, it goes without saying, it will leave without the additional incomes of lobbyists, including of the workers in the state structures appeared in the 90's, whose task is reduced to the realization of the senseless, but well substantiated foreign economic contracts. Second perhaps more important task - skill to sensibly evaluate proceeding in one or other country or another, checking political risks not less thoroughly than risks economic.


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