Middle East and War in Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in 2018. — Consortium News
Arab regimes in the Gulf and other developing countries will adapt to a new world of changing power. This is no longer the world the United States shaped after the Cold War, writes As’ad Abu Khalil
IT IS premature to determine the exact shape of the world following the Russian military intervention in Ukraine. At the risk of repeating fearsome clichés, it is clear that the world order has been irrevocably altered. The post-Cold War era is over, forever.
The United States established global supremacy after the collapse of the USSR and ensured that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization would form a security seat around Russia to keep it weak and vulnerable – and to keep American hegemony over the entire continent. Never has the United States been challenged in such a direct and targeted manner as by Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.
The old rules imposed by force by the United States will be no more. While China has been cautious in expressing its support for Russia in its official statements, its media has been clear in refuting the US propaganda claims. The repercussions of the cataclysmic event will be felt for years and affect regional and international conflicts.
The impact of the Russian-Ukrainian war will also be felt in the Middle East, which has a long history of involvement in Soviet and Russian-American rivalry.
Despite US pressure, no Arab state is taking part in the economic war against Russia by imposing sanctions, joining most of Latin America and Africa, as well as Iran, India, Pakistan and China. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have resisted US pressure to pump more oil to compensate for the US ban on Russian oil imports. More importantly, Riyadh is in talks with China to swap some of its oil into yuan, which would hurt the US dollar, which is used in 80% of global oil sales. Until now, the Saudis used exclusively the dollar.
Moscow is trying to defeat the West’s fierce economic assault on Russia by creating a separate economic and financial system with China. Arab nations could play an important role in this, turning their backs on the United States.
Context of geopolitical change
The shape of international relations was shaken in 2011 with the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1973, which was limited to establishing a no-fly zone to protect civilians in Libya believed to be at risk of a massacre at the hands of Libyan leader Muamar Gaddafi. A British parliamentary report later revealed that there was no such threat and that it was based on inaccurate intelligence and “wrong assumptions”.
The resolution did not allow ground forces to enter Libya. The language was clear. He said the Security Council: “Decides to establish a ban on all flights within the airspace of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in order to help protect civilians.” And authorizes Member States that have notified the Secretary-General, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, and acting in cooperation with the Secretary-General, to take all necessary measures…to protect civilians and areas populated by civilians under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force in any form on any part of Libyan territory.
Despite these limitations, the United States and NATO interpreted the resolution as authorization for NATO to overthrow a government that the United States had long complained about. Never mind that the Libyan dictatorial regime cooperated with the United States in the years leading up to its overthrow. Then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even met with the head of Libya’s secret police, who happened to be the leader’s son.
Russia, led at the time by President Dmitry Medvedev, abstained on the resolution, as did China. Both countries had obviously believed that the mission would be limited to the no-fly zone. Vladimir Putin, who was prime minister at the time, was reportedly furious with Medvedev over the abstention.
After it became clear that NATO was violating the resolution by toppling Gaddafi, China and Russia, both veto holders, were determined to change the course of the Security Council to prevent the United States to use it again as a cover for military interventions and regime change. The United States began to lose its undisputed world supremacy at this time.
Moscow and Beijing are strengthening their military capabilities and asserting themselves more and more on the international scene. Fearful of shifts in the global configuration of power, the Biden administration has incorporated strong language into its National Security Strategy, issued by successive administrations, to make clear American rejection of any competition from Russia and China. Biden’s strategy complained about Chinese assertiveness. How dare a country other than the United States assert itself in the world? It is one thing for the United States to insist on world supremacy and quite another to guarantee it without cost in blood and money.
Russia, in fact, showed its confidence four years after the Libya resolution when it intervened on behalf of Syria against the US-Gulf backed jihadist attack, but not before Putin, to the general assembly asks the United States to join Moscow in the fight, an offer the United States has rejected.
Middle Eastern reverberations
IN the Middle East, the effects of the new global conflict have already rippled through to US client regimes, many of which also have good relations with Russia. The United Arab Emirates is one of these American customers. Washington supplies it with advanced military technology despite its abysmal human rights record. In return, the United Arab Emirates works with the United States; and he recently established a strong alliance with Israel. The United States has rewarded the United Arab Emirates with the sale of advanced fighter jets.
And yet the UAE abstained on a March 3 Security Council resolution condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine, which Russia vetoed, while they voted in favor of a resolution of the general assembly saying the same thing. Now the UAE, and especially Dubai, is seen as a haven for Russian billionaires who have been heavily sanctioned by the West.
Gulf countries like the UAE are caught between their outright loyalty to the United States and their growing closeness to the Russian government, especially as they lament what they see as a US retreat from the Middle East. . Many Gulf despots are still unhappy that the United States let down Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Zein Abidin Bin Ali of Tunisia during the 2011 Arab uprisings.
Only Qatar among the Gulf countries took a firm stand in favor of Ukraine, but it did not join the economic war against Russia. Qatar’s Emir was recently welcomed into the Oval Office and the country was given “major non-NATO ally” status. In addition, the United States wants Qatar to fill the gap in Europe’s gas needs following sanctions on Russian gas sales. It is curious that the White House worked with Qatar on this before the first Russian soldier went to Ukraine.
The fractured American consensus
The United States will no longer achieve consensus in the world according to its own interests. While China is neither ready nor willing to challenge US foreign policy head-on just yet, its cooperation and treaties with US enemies – primarily Iran – indicate that China plans to operate in a world not subject to American dictates.
Statements by the Chinese government during the Ukraine crisis have been cautious, but social media in China and statements by Chinese diplomats via social media have been overwhelmingly supportive of the Russian position. China has strengthened its economic ties with Russia to soften the blow from the sanctions, including allowing Russia to use its UnionPay system to replace Western credit cards.
Russia’s ejection from the SWIFT international banking system has seen Russia rely on its own Financial Message Transfer System, or SPFS, and which may be linked to China’s Cross-Border Interbank Payments System, or CIPS . Russia began making payments to China in renminbi, weakening the dollar as the world’s primary currency. The ripple effects on the West of its economic warfare lead to separate economic and financial systems that fracture US global dominance.
Russia has neither the power nor the influence of the United States. But Russia is an influential regional player. Its role in Syria in support of the Syrian regime has shown its ability to shore up a weak regime and operate shielded from US plots to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. Gulf governments are already planning for a world in which the United States is less militarily assertive than before. To this end, the UAE has established a strong alliance with Israel.
Impact on the Arab-Israeli conflict
The GULF regimes are not favored in Washington in the same way as Israel. Israel followed the United States, expressing its support for Ukraine. He cannot afford to antagonize the Biden administration over the damage done to his image during the Obama-Netanyahu era.
The Russian-Ukrainian crisis will undermine American and European rhetoric on the Arab-Israeli conflict. It will not be easy to sell the so-called peace process after the West flatly refuses to support diplomacy between Russia and Ukraine, while the United States preaches strict pacifism for the Arabs in the face of decades of Israeli occupation and aggression.
After the first two days of the conflict, around 30 countries sent missiles and advanced weapons to Ukraine and defended the right of resistance. Palestinians, on the other hand, are denied even the right to peaceful resistance. The United States and Europe have gone so far as to ban the boycott, sanctions and divestment movement in Israel while brandishing sanctions around the world. How can the Palestinians ever take seriously the Western insistence that their struggle against the occupation never resort to violent means?
The world we live in is changing and Russian intervention in Ukraine will not be limited to Ukraine, or even to Europe. The United States learns that the world is slipping away from them. He won’t tolerate it.
He will use force in his attempt to maintain his hold on humanity. Violent conflict is likely to dominate our world now.
Consortiumnews.com, March 16. As`ad AbuKhalil is a Lebanese-American professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus.