Borysfen Intel

The Middle East Solitaire

September 22, 2014
<p>The Middle East Solitaire</p>

Middle East, ancient Babylon and Baghdad, mysterious Palestine, as old as time itself, streets of Jerusalem and pyramids of Egypt. Birthplace of legends and fairy tales, thinkers and philosophers, healers and mathematicians. The cradle of medicine, geometry and astronomy.

So, it all used to be, but now it all is in the past now. The Middle East, which we knew and remember, there isn't any longer. Now its trademark have become «Arab Springs». bloodshed and sharp political and economic contradictions.

In its separate territorial part, dismembered and blood-soaked Syria and Iraq, was born the Arab caliphate. In the midst is the struggle of the Kurds for independence, a strong regional confrontation between radical Islamists, Sunnis and Shiites almost in the entire Middle East.

The Arab world is engulfed in a revolution

The Arab world is engulfed in a revolution

In all of this mosaic can be seen two weak links, and they may be involved in these processes: Lebanon and Jordan. Lebanon, already drawn into the Syrian war, divided along ethnic and religious lines, is at risk of becoming even in a more difficult situation. «The Lebanese cedar». figuratively speaking, may split into Sunni, Shiite, Druze, Christian autonomous areas.

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan under King Abdullah II seems to be an island of tranquility. But it is only at first glance. The Hashemite monarchy could be swept away in just a few days by the local «Muslim Brotherhood». supported by jihadi groups linked to «Al Qaeda». taking into consideration that 20 percent of the population of the north of the country are refugees from Syria. In Amman they seriously fear that the IS will attempt to establish bridgeheads on Jordanian territory.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Kingdom of Bahrain with might and main are trying to keep order and peace.

Monarchs of Saudi Arabia, for centuries having considered themselves masters of the whole of the Arab world, are suddenly faced with a defiant challenge of the «Islamic Caliphate» and a number of radical Islamist organizations.

Naturally, the king is vigorously seeking ways to strengthen its shaken influence. First of all, it concerned matters of succession, as the Saudi kingdom, which is a powerful oil and financial power, has experienced significant internal political difficulties due to the current system of inheritance of power, providing for its transfer from brother to brother, eventually led to the fact that the pretenders to the throne have been of a very advanced age. Recall that the founder of the Saudi kingdom, Abdul Aziz ibn Abd Rahman ibn Faisal Al Saud (Ibn Saud) died in 1953.


The current 90-year-old King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud will replace 79-year-old Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, who suffers from multiple diseases. Some representatives of the close to the highest power circles, argue that because of the poor state of his health, Salman, most likely, will refuse from the throne. In this regard, in February 2014 the king, with the approval of the Allegiance Council, appointed the last and youngest of the brothers-sons of the king's, 69-year-old Prince Mukrin a second heir, a kind of deputy crown prince.

King Abdullah Prince Salman Prince Mukrin
King Abdullah Prince Salman Prince Mukrin
Prince Mutaib
Prince Mutaib

The appointment of the former head of secret services of the Kingdom Prince Mukrin may indicate an intent not only to strengthen the stability of the regime, but also to keep the royal power in the hands of the House of al-Saud. Since he is the last of the brothers — sons of the king, who founded Saudi Arabia, and, therefore, the throne will no longer pass from brother to brother, we cannot exclude the possibility, according to a British newspaper in Arabic Al Quds Al Arabi citing Saudi informed sources, that when he becomes king, he will appoint his Crown Prince King Abdullah's third son — Prince Mutaib. The latter has already been actively prepared for the execution of the royal duties.

These messages appeared after jihadists had announced the creation of «Islamic Caliphate» and demanded that the Muslims from all over the world swear Caliph.

Recently, analysts and political scientists, experts in the Arab world rightly believe that Riyadh, seeking to protect itself on the distant outskirts of the kingdom, has begun to actively build its army of mercenaries from foreigners supporting Islamists in Syria and Iraq. Monarchs do not mind throwing this army against their enemies in the region in order to change the balance of forces in favor of the Sunni bloc, developing with the help of the army success against Syria and «Hezbollah» in Lebanon, as well as creating a Sunni state formation in Iraq, thereby replacing the «Islamic Caliphate».

Egypt comes to itself after the recent revolutions and deep political turmoil. Only Israel remains a stable country, able to withstand this tsunami that sweeps away most of the Arab countries created once by colonial powers.

Middle East specialist, journalist and geo-politician Richard Darmon in late July 2014 in the Israël Magazine published his article on the problems of the region which examines the likelihood of creating a moderate axis — Egypt — Israel — Kurdistan — capable, in his opinion, to balance the Middle East. Is this true?

Activity of the Kurds in the creation of an independent Kurdish state against the background of rapid and bloody offensive of the radical Islamist organization «Islamic State» (IS) portends a split of Iraq.

Currently, similar processes are observed in Syria, still feeling Sunni organization «Dzhebhat al-Nusra's» (at the time a breakaway from the «Al Qaeda» and warring against the regime of Bashar al-Assad).


The Al-Nusra Front. The grouping’s flag

The Al-Nusra Front. The grouping’s flag

«Dzhebhat al-Nusra» left the northern and eastern parts of Syria, and now operates mainly in the north-west in Idlib, Hama (central province) Kalyamun highlands on the border with Lebanon and in the south, near Deraa.

Emir «Dzhebhat al-Nusra» has sworn allegiance to the IS.

The Islamic Front. The grouping’s flag

The Islamic Front. The grouping’s flag

The IS' only competitor remains «Islamic Front». which includes 11 brigades. The coalition, now fighting with mujahedeen in the north of Aleppo in the border areas with Turkey, includes about 30 thousand people.


The Islamic Army.The Army’s logo

The Islamic Army.The Army’s logo

In East Ghouta government forces are opposed by the nine-thousand «Islamic Army» under the command of Zahran Allyush.

The Free Syrian Army. The Army’s logo

The Free Syrian Army. The Army’s logo

Smaller groups such as the Maher al-Noaimi's «Grandsons of the Prophet" and Bashar al-Zoubi's «Al-Yarmouk Martyrs Brigades». are part of the Syrian Free Army (SFA) and are deployed in the areas near the border with Jordan.

The most efficient part of the SFA, the «Farouk Brigade». continues to hold several districts in the province of Homs.

With the full «reformatting» of Syria and Iraq, the familiar to us Middle East, in its time initiated by France and Britain, will fall apart. The collapse of these artificially cut borders and the return of most of the Arab countries to a more natural for them bosom of the Muslim Ummah, confirm the view expressed four decades ago by the former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, «Except for Egypt and Israel, which are proper states, the rest of the Middle East is just tribes, waving their flags.»

Confrontation between Shiites and Sunnis

Confrontation between Shiites and Sunnis
  Inforgraphics /

Today we have become happenstance witnesses of the accelerating process of sharpening of the confrontation between Shiites and Sunnis, not only in Syria and Iraq, but also in Yemen, Bahrain, Kuwait, as well as in Jordan and Lebanon. According to Sunni scholars, at the moment the «main enemy» of the Sunni world is neither Israel nor the United States. It is Iranian Shiites, provoking clashes throughout the Middle East. You may agree or disagree with this statement, but you must not ignore it.

So, Iran is Sunnis' «main enemy». But it has been such since it began to restore relations with Washington. After the United States' having given up its military presence in the region and the failure of the Obama's administration's foreign policy in the Middle East, this emerging and still fragile alliance is being formed today in Iraq, where Washington and Tehran discuss the joint struggle against the common enemy — radical Islamist IS. Some Western analysts believe that this fact has a negative impact on the course of the difficult negotiations in Vienna on Iran's nuclear program, the next round of which recently ended without results. But fortunately, not all is that bad! There are at least two positive moments.

Firstly, after Field Marshal Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi' (from June 8, 2014 — the sixth president of Egypt) coming to power in Egypt, not only the movement of «Muslim Brotherhood». but also the activities of «Hamas» have been banned in the country.

"Kurdish card in the Caliphate's deck"
 "Kurdish card in the Caliphate's deck"

Secondly, the Kurds again have announced about their plans to declare in the north of Iraq an independent state and are already preparing a referendum on the issue. (You can see our earlier published by «Borysfen Intel» material "Kurdish card in the Caliphate's deck")

A potential new regional player in the face of a Kurdish state is ready to cooperate with Egypt and Israel, both in the economic and military spheres. Formation of a moderate axis Egypt — Israel — Kurdistan will become a new, balancing and positive factor in the region now subject to the growing influence of radical Islam.

Against the ground of such a sharpening of the situation, there are again «Fatah» and «Hamas”' loud calls to form a «government of national unity». Western analysts believe that it is in the context of internal tensions and growing isolation of the Sunni movement «Hamas» that true roots of the current conflict in Gaza should be looked for. There is every reason to believe that the most fanatical leaders of the «Hamas» in order to improve their situation have chosen the tactics of the «flight into danger» and unleashed another bloodshed.

Турция и Иран просто «обречены» быть союзниками
Turkey and Iran are just “doomed” to be allies

Everyone understands that the Middle East solitaire will not be complete without Turkey and Iran. Erdogan's having moved from the chair of Turkey's Prime Minister into the chair of the President, as well as new, announced by the new Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, appointments in Turkey's government, will change little in the cooperation in political matters between Ankara and Tehran, — cooperation that has become stronger over the last months. Two regional powers, while remaining natural rivals for influence in the Middle East, are just «doomed» to be allies in the face of threats from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with its ambitions and a very tight purse.

At the beginning of this year, when Erdogan's visit to Tehran ended in formation «of the Supreme Council for Cooperation». where, according to the Turkish Prime Minister, «ministers of our countries will work as if they were members of the same cabinet,» the main theme of Iran-Turkey dialogue remained in the first place, economic relations.

After the meeting (in the course of that visit) with Erdogan, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said that the main political obstacles in the Turkish-Iranian relations had been eliminated and «there is every reason for the expansion of comprehensive relations between our two countries».

Similar statements were made by the Turkish Prime Minister, but it was clear that the rapprochement between Ankara and Tehran is a «marriage of convenience». forced by these countries' need, because of which they have to close their eyes to the contradictions in the views on the Middle East processes, in particular – on the question of Syria. The leadership of both Turkey and Iran, both then and now had enough common sense, pragmatism and responsibility to understand the importance of bilateral cooperation to maintain stability in the region.

So, in the current difficult conditions in the region, it is clear that it is not worth hurrying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Appearance in the Middle East of the 23rd Palestinian Arab-Sunni state — militant and terrorist — can only strengthen the dangerous geopolitical destabilization.

As for the IS, the United States intends to build a coalition of allied countries to struggle against extremists. According to the President of the United States Barack Obama, Washington's goal is to weaken and destroy the rebel forces in Iraq and the region.

On the sidelines of the NATO summit on September 5, there was a meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense of the United States, Australia, Britain, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Poland, Turkey and France. They discussed creation of a new coalition. It was decided to form an international working group to exchange information on the penetration of militants from other countries into Syria and Iraq.

...the loaded with explosives truck can actually easily cope with the way from Baghdad to Jerusalem
«...the loaded with explosives truck can actually easily cope with the way from Baghdad to Jerusalem»

Besides, at the meeting it was agreed to undertake joint efforts «to eliminate the sources of income of the «Islamic State». including through the sale of petroleum products, as well as «to bring to justice those who violate the international prohibition on the conclusion of such transactions».

So, if the Islamic caliphate really gets stronger and absorbs part of Jordan, and will be supported by the Palestinians, then, figuratively speaking, the loaded with explosives truck can actually easily cope with the way from Baghdad to Jerusalem. There is something to think about!

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