The revolutionary history of the Middle East and the new equation -M. Athar Noor
In international politics, just as there are no permanent friends, there are no permanent enemies. This is exactly the reason why the current nation-state has no control over the tide of modern politics. One can only guess at the possible behavior of the rulers of a state in the past and present. Provisional analysis is provided. So the global political structure is always changing. Just as 9/11 changed the course of the whole world, so did 1989 change the traditional face of the Arab world. It was the ninth year of the Arab world. Three incidents in a row have shaken them. May be the book will be longer. The events are: the Iranian Revolution, the attack on the Grand Mosque, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The revolution in Iran in February of that year and the attack on Makkah Mukarramah led by Abdullah al-Qahtani in November-December shook the foundations of the Ahl al-Saud. At other times, Qahtani’s attack might have been a mere ‘accident’ in history. But in the political context of the Middle East, the incident did not go down the list of accidents, but turned the tide of history.
The events revealed the Saudi family’s politics at home and abroad, the determination of enemies and even the direction of self-identification. Shia-Sunni duality begins in regional politics. In domestic politics, the government resorted to scholars to prevent the recurrence of such incidents in the future. The government-scholar relationship takes on a new dimension. The biggest blow comes to the oppressed Palestinians. Because, after this incident, Nasser’s proposed pan-Arabism or ‘Arab-Nationalism’ was replaced by ‘Arab-Nationalism’. Saudi became only Saudis, Egyptians Egyptians, Jordanians Jordanians, Palestine ‘Palestinians’. The Palestinians have lost their “Arab” connection to the whole region. Muslim connections were lost long before Nasser’s pan-Arabism, during World War I. In many ways, 1979 left a lasting scar on the Arab world. The Arab Spring of the eighties is about to enter a new horizon. The scene is changing at a rapid pace, one after another. In this case several components in the driver’s seat.
First, Biden’s rise to power. The biggest dividing line between Trump and Biden’s foreign policy in the Middle East is anti-Semitism. Trump was a devout Israeli. He has no Zionist agenda, including sensitive issues such as relocating capital, which Trump has not agreed to. The main catalyst was Jared Kushner, his Jewish son-in-law. At the same time, the focus of American attention has shifted from the Middle East to China. In the seventies and eighties, America wanted absolute dominance in the Middle East to keep the ‘standard of living’ of American citizen’s right! Huge amounts of oil needed to supply their factories, vehicles, production, and uninterrupted supply of daily burger-Coca-Cola. The whole of the Middle East has been a victim of American standard of living for forty years in a row. But now the Middle East has lost its relative importance as a result of increasing use of clean energy on the one hand, and multidimensional sources of mineral resources on the other. Bigger than that, now China has to stop. As a result, the Middle East is not at the center of US foreign policy.
Second, the economic development policy of the Arab states. The oil-dependent countries of the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, are now realizing the imminent crisis. As a result, everyone has started concentrating on all sectors including multidimensionality of economy, development of the country, research. The days of eating oil and dancing are coming to an end. But what is most needed for economic development is peace and stability. If there is political instability in the neighboring country, it affects the whole region. The heat of the Saudi-Yemen crisis is now being felt. Riyadh’s economy is in shambles if there is no peace on the other side of the border. Since all countries have an economic vision, they also have an understanding and unwritten support for the pre-conditions needed to achieve economic prosperity.
Third, the rise of Turkey. Turkey’s capability has played an important role in siding with the rulers of the Middle East. Turkey’s unwavering support and unconditional sympathy during the siege of Qatar. Qatar is the largest US military base in the Middle East. But that did not guarantee Qatar’s security. There was a strong possibility that if Turkey had not sent troops, Qatar would have been the target of direct aggression. While Turkey has been a staunch supporter of its small ally Qatar, Trump has been busy pulling money out of Arab pockets. His policy was to end the days of free security, now security must be ‘bought’. At a very high price. Yet there is no certainty. Like Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE could be the victims of ruthless deception. This time, although the US was in favor of the Saudi-Emirati bloc, they did not make a mistake in realizing the reality. Turkey’s ability is also eye-catching. They have the capability to supply all types of mid-range weapons, from needlework to sophisticated drones. This is an important aspect of Arab-Israeli relations. The Arab dictators used to lick Israel to please America. To buy weapons, to buy spyware and to gain ‘ability’ to suppress public opinion. Now that a supply of modern weapons is available from Turkey, America’s importance will naturally diminish. As well as providing high-tech supplies, there is the Cold War-ridden Russian-bear, emerging China.
Analyzing recent data from US satellites, researchers fear that Saudi Arabia may have built its own missile facility with the help of China. If true, then America’s exit will be accelerated. These and many other reasons are causing rapid ‘change of heart’ in the Middle East. In both the invasion of Yemen and the blockade of Qatar, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, Muhammad bin Salman, has been the victim of a terrible betrayal by the Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates. With the UAE’s exclusive support for the Yemeni invasion, Bin Salman thought he had found a reliable ally. But as the incident deepened, the UAE’s eyes were seen on the port of Aden and other important economic areas. He has no headaches with the Houthis. Bin Zayed did not hesitate to divide Yemen into two factions to occupy strategically important areas. Until 1990, Yemen was divided into north and south. There was always a sense of separatism in the South, even after unification. Once the emirates have taken root, they have begun to provide direct support to the separatists there.
Azam Tamimi, the British-Palestinian journalist and chief executive of Al Hivar TV channel, wrote a scathing report after the blockade of Qatar. He called the Saudis “puppets of the emirate” and said that bin Zayed bin Salman was being tricked into accepting his “advice” so that Saudi Arabia would have the good fortune to gain a foothold quickly. If Bin Salman comes to power in this way, he will probably be the last ‘king’ of the Saud family. Surprisingly, he then said that Saudi Arabia would be the first and most deceived by the UAE! The article was published in the Middle East Eye. His prediction came true when the UAE was the first to say goodbye to the changed circumstances – the UAE. The emirate is the first of Turkey’s regional enemies to join hands with Turkey. While other countries, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt, are inviting Erdogan to their country, waiting for his arrival, Bin Zayed has not waited for that and has run away to the court of the Turkish ‘Sultan’.
The situation in Yemen has reached such a stage that now the main opponents of Saudi Arabia are not the Houthis – but the UAE! The heat of this animosity has spread to the mainland of Yemen, covering 400 km. It is also felt on the distant island of Sukutra. The UAE is providing scholarships to Yemeni students, providing boats to fishermen, funding researchers, providing seeds and seedlings to farmers, and providing electricity and schools in rural areas. Saudi Arabia is not far behind. As a result, the main road on Sukutra Island is even more magnificent than the capital Sana’a. Two multi-storied schools on either side of the road, one with the Emirati flag flying, the other with the Saudi flag. Neither of the two schools has enough students to study. It stands as a symbol of the struggle for regional hegemony. The emirate is enjoying the banana. And the Saudis are pushing the militants on the border, the Saudis are burdening the African refugees who have become restless and out of control of Yemen as a result of the war, the Saudis are listening to the sound of missiles.
Even after hundreds of conflicts, the current politics in the Middle East is very relaxed and favorable. The Arab authorities are already beginning to understand, so the situation is being re-established. It seems that neither side wants a ‘Cold War’ in the Middle East. That is why there are frequent meetings among ourselves to end it. Representatives of the Saudi-Iranian enemy have also met on the sidelines of the last OIC summit, and no one wants to miss out. Tehran has said that if diplomatic relations are restored, there will be a railway line from Mashhad to Jeddah via Tehran. However, the Saudis have not commented on the matter. When Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iran, UAE, Egypt stand in a row – what will the Middle East look like?
The author of this article is a student of International relations, University of Chittagong.