Clare » September 5th, 2023
The “shifting sands” define the features of the “profound” changes in the Greater Middle East
The International Monetary Fund confirmed that the Greater Middle East, including in Iraq, which usually suffers from endless conflicts, is currently witnessing a profound shift in geopolitics, creating new possibilities for achieving prosperity, even despite the current international conflicts.
In an opinion article on the International Monetary Fund’s website under the title “Quicksand”, translated by Shafaq News Agency, he indicated that the Middle East is usually seen as an arena of endless conflict where regional players compete to achieve their supremacy, while young people struggle against authoritarian rule and faltering economies, but Despite the many challenges facing the region, from the Iranian nuclear program to the raging conflicts in the Palestinian territories, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, recent developments indicate that the status of the Middle East in the world is undergoing a profound change.
The report was considered; There are “pivotal shifts in regional politics,” referring in this context to the Abraham Accords between Israel and a group of Arab countries in 2020, and the recent rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia, explaining that the most important motive for this change is the shift in the United States’ view of the Middle East.
The report added that since the Iranian revolution in 1979, the United States has been considered the mainstay of the security structure in the region, referring to Washington’s previous efforts to contain Iran first and then Iraq after the invasion of Kuwait, and to its focus after the September 11 attacks on “war Global on Terrorism” in the region, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the interventions in Libya and Syria.
He added that since reaching that peak in intervention and commitment, the United States has shifted its attention towards other global priorities, most notably managing China’s rise.
He pointed out that Washington is no longer keen to get involved in the conflicts in the Middle East, as is evident to its friends and enemies in the region, adding that the US wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya ended badly, just as the US influence in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen was limited, noting that Although Washington continues to seek to contain Iran, this is not for the purpose of direct confrontation.
According to the report, this means that the Middle East must envision its own security and manage it by itself to a greater extent. Therefore, in the absence of strict US security guarantees, regional powers consider it wise to mitigate threats and reduce tensions with their adversaries through diplomacy and greater economic engagement.
Therefore, the report says that this is what prompted Saudi Arabia and the UAE to reform their relations with Qatar and restore relations with Turkey and Iraq, and more recently with Iran and Syria, adding that, according to the same approach, the Abraham Accords were achieved and engagement between Israel and Saudi Arabia was strengthened, and while the Gulf monarchies invest in Israel, Iraq and Turkey Iran and Syria may come to these investments later.
Integration not confrontation
The report stated that the retreat of the walls of the chasm since the Arab Spring in 2011 and the Iranian nuclear agreement in 2015 will benefit the countries stuck in the middle, from Lebanon and Iraq in the Levant, to Qatar and the Sultanate of Oman in the Gulf.
He added that the promotion of trade and investment is another important result, as both Saudi Arabia and the UAE are investing in Turkey and Iraq, while the UAE’s trade with Iran has increased over the past two years, and Saudi Arabia has indicated that it may invest in Iran if the two countries can normalize relations.
The report also pointed to the large investment in a trade corridor linking the Gulf to the Mediterranean, with roads and railways linking Oman with Saudi Arabia and then to Iraq, Jordan, Syria and Turkey, with side links with Iran and Israel.
He added that although the United States is not keen on including Iran in these projects, it supports broader communication between the Gulf, the Levant and India to limit China’s role in the region and integrate the Gulf into its Asian strategy.
However, the report saw that as far as this vision may seem from realization, and that there are great obstacles in front of it, the most important of which is the fate of Syria, it confirms the extent to which the geostrategic reality in the region has reached, as the Middle East has come to imagine economic integration instead of confrontation. .
He pointed out that it was security concerns that constituted an obstacle to such a project, but it has become possible to think of a future that is not different from Southeast Asia at the present time, and to see economic integration as a solution to ongoing security concerns, adding that even the United States itself has become aware of the advantage. The strategy is to promote an economic vision for the region.
The report stated that the two most ambitious powers in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, aspire to be prominent players in the global economy, and for this they need security to build service industries, attract investment and play the role of the economic center of the region. The report called for taking into consideration that India today is the UAE’s largest trading partner, while China and East Asia play an important role in this emerging economic vision. China is also Saudi Arabia’s largest energy partner, and its investments in the Kingdom exceed those of all other countries.
In addition, China’s economic relations with other Gulf countries, and with Iran, Iraq, Egypt and Pakistan, are also growing, and China has invested more than $56 billion in Pakistan as part of the “Belt and Road Initiative,” and is negotiating similar investments in trade and infrastructure in Iran. The report indicated that for China, the Greater Middle East represents a very important part of its vision of Eurasia, which is the bloc that would link China’s economy with Europe.
The report added that the Arabian Peninsula is of vital importance to East Asian trade with Africa and Europe, and Iran and Pakistan form two unique passages linking Europe on the one hand and the Arabian Sea on the other with China through Central Asia or by land to the Chinese region of Xinjiang.
The report stated that while the United States has turned its sights away from the Middle East towards Asia, China is now looking west towards the Middle East, adding that this coupling between the changing interests of the first great powers in the world represents the most important change in the geopolitics of the Middle East in decades. Referring to Beijing’s role in normalizing relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and its contribution to creating an atmosphere of greater economic interdependence within the region.
According to the report, Russia’s war in Ukraine reinforced this geostrategic shift, noting that Russia was already deeply involved in the Middle East through its intervention in the Syrian civil war and the oil production agreement with Saudi Arabia and OPEC. The report added that while the Ukrainian war reduced Russian interference in Syria, it deepened Moscow’s relations with Tehran, more clearly in the military arena.
However, the report saw that Russian dependence on Iran reaches far beyond military supplies, as Russia is increasingly looking forward to a transit corridor that extends from the port of Astrakhan on the Caspian Sea, passing through Iran, to the port of Chabahar on the Arabian Sea, for trade with the world, adding that the growing Russian trade, Important to Iran’s cash-strapped economy, it also linked Iran to port cities on the southern shores of the Gulf, which are part of Russia’s emerging trade network.
The report considered that the same dynamic applies in North Africa and the Levant, but here it is driven by Europe’s reaction to the Russian aggression, explaining that in light of reducing Europe’s dependence on Russian oil and gas, it will certainly depend more on energy imports from North Africa and the East. The Middle East, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, which will have an impact on Algeria and Egypt, the gas producers in the region.
However, the broader effects of this on economic integration across the Mediterranean will be in favor of Morocco and Tunisia, which have been at the forefront of supply chains serving European economies.
He added that Turkey believes that the future will be through a transit center for energy pipelines coming from the south and east to Europe in the west, indicating that Saudi Arabia and Qatar are considering extending pipelines to transport their own oil and gas, in addition to Iraqi oil and gas, to this Turkish energy center. .
However, the report notes that these plans depend on resolving conflicts within and between these countries, considering that this is not impossible, and recalling in this context that Lebanon and Israel signed in November 2022 (with Hezbollah’s approval) a historic agreement defining their borders at sea. Mediterranean, a necessary precursor to the development of their respective gas fields, noting that the United States helped negotiate this deal.
Reflecting these emerging trends, he said, Washington hopes to replace its old order in the region with one that connects India to the Gulf and Israel through a network of ports, roads and railways, an American vision aimed in part at containing Iran and China.
The report concluded by saying that to the extent that this vision depends on economic relations, it will also emphasize the new geopolitical reality in the region. He concluded by saying that, as has happened so often throughout history, the competition between the great powers will contribute to shaping the future of the Greater Middle East, but this time they are working to link these countries together economically instead of tearing them apart, which will open up new possibilities for Region. LINK
Source: Dinar Recaps
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