February 13, 2019

The Middle East and North Africa. Analytical Review 01/2019


Oleksiy Volovych

The Military-Political and Economic Situation in January 2019


In January 2019, the military-political situation in the Middle East and North Africa remained tense.

The review focuses on the Middle Eastern tour of US Secretary of State M. Pompeo, as well as some of the most characteristic events and processes in ten countries, such as Syria, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

This time, we at last got to Arab countries such as Algeria, Tunisia, Sudan, which had not been in our reviews because of their limited format and a large number of countries in the region — about thirty.

More details about the January events in Turkey, Israel and Libya will be posted in our publications that follow.

The Middle East and North Africa

The Middle East tour of US Secretary of State M. Pompeo

January 8–14, during his Middle Eastern tour, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Oman. At the same time, John Bolton, US National Security Advisor, visited Israel and Turkey.

During his tour, M. Pompeo drew attention of Arab partners to the following major themes: the United States has been and remains a strategic partner of the Arab countries; the United States calls on Arab countries to establish an anti-Iran coalition — “Arab NATO”; the United States supports Israel's right to self-defense against “Iranian adventurers”; the United States endorses the idea of pacification between Palestinians and Israelis.

Mike Pompeo and King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud Mike Pompeo and King of Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa
US Secretary of State’ meetings with King of Saudi Arabia and King of Bahrain

In Bahrain, M. Pompeo announced his intention to hold on February 13–14, in Warsaw Iran-focused global ministerial meeting. It should be noted that Egypt, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Iraq and Turkey have normal diplomatic and beneficial economic relations with Iran, and are not going to fight or to be hostile to it. Iraq has already refused to participate in this conference. I believe that the plans of Washington and Warsaw to hold an anti-Iranian conference in Poland can hardly be called forward-thinking. Iran strongly protests against such “anti-Iranian circus”.

All Arab and other countries in the world who have normal relations with Iran are unlikely to take part in the conference. Many European countries also express doubts about the feasibility of conducting it. High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said she would not be present at the conference in Warsaw, as she will be in Africa at that time, at the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, after which she will visit Somalia.

In my opinion, Ukraine should also refrain from participating in such an event, given our traditionally friendly relations with Iran. As a saying goes, the enemy of my friend is not always my enemy. Not everything that our partners do and will do should be approved by us by default. Even with strategic partners, it's worth living by our wits. I believe that participation in the conference of Honorable Ambassador of Ukraine to Poland, Mr. Andriy Deshchytsya would be enough. The conference in Warsaw is the Trump administration's campaign within the framework of its anti-Iranian policy, which is not approved by the European allies of the United States from the outset. And if we are moving along the path of European integration, then we definitely should be guided in this regard by the European Union. Unfortunately, today Ukraine has no allies yet. They will only appear when we enter NATO, and this will not happen as quickly as we would like. The US is still our one and only strategic partner, who sometimes resorts to such actions in the international arena that do not always correspond with our national interests. To go thoughtlessly in the wake of a strategic partner, and to approve of all that is done by default, not having our own political will, means not to respect ourselves and to give up our dignity.

The full article is available in Ukrainian