Do All Roads Lead to the Middle-East?

Take what experts say with a grain of salt because, though their expertise remains indelible, they necessarily tend to an overly narrow focus. But if you listen to enough experts in enough disciplines, you put together a picture of what’s really going on.

This analysis by Peter Zeihan, co-founder of the world’s pre-eminent geostrategic intelligence firm, Stratfor, fits snugly within the trajectory of the emergence of a multipolar world: a gradually more insular America; a massive Russia with significant energy reserves only gradually emerging economically; a mercantile China delimited by regional restraints. In this setting, importantly, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) will increasingly, though perhaps not exclusively, be left to fend for itself.
Saudi Arabia is not, however, powerful enough on its own to maintain regional hegemony. The more powerful Iran, meanwhile, suffers under sanctions. But if you count Turkey as a Mid-East nation, then Israel and Turkey are the regions emerging nations; with the latter slightly more powerful and somewhat more established. But Israel has found what Turkey lacks; energy reserves. The North African nations, meanwhile, though strategically positioned—Egypt’s Suez and Libyan oil—are only modest players: Egypt a mid-sized power, and Libya war-torn. Recently, to the chagrin of both Greece (geography and history) and France (history), the Turks, with a strategic eye for oil, sent troops to Libya, for whom French colonists once upon a time had eyes of their own. But quick in response, the Greeks forced a regional stale-mate through a trans-Mediterranean pact of their own, with Egypt; along with a show of solidarity from this formidable military power, and fellow EU member, France. In that, the Greeks countered Turkey’s move and backed it with equivalent (French) force.
Iran is Patient, Turkey Impulsive
The democratising, secularising tendencies of Kemal Ataturk now seem left far behind. Turkey is Sunni Muslim, of the Salafist kind. The reason Turks are impetuous and impulsive, apart from it reflecting the character of their leader, is that despite its military power, despite a criss-cross by gas pipelines on route to Europe from Eurasia, and despite being NATO member, Turkey has few energy resources of its own and, moreover, will slowly awake to find it has friends that are fewer still. In a recent podcast entitled “The State of the Middle East Amidst US-Iran Tensions”, and with Geopolitical Futures’ founder—and, incidentally, also Stratfor co-founder—George Friedman increasingly finding himself talking instead about Turkey, Caroline Rose ends perhaps with what might best be described as the prophetic version of a Freudian-slip when she says: “Well … you know you had a successful talk about the Middle East when you started with Iran and you end up in Turkey.”

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