Imad Fawzi Shueibi examines the reasons and consequences of Russia’s recent position at the Security Council. Moscow’s backing of Syria is not a posture but the result of an in-depth analysis of the shifting global balance of power. The current crisis will crystallize into a new world configuration, which, from the unipolar model inherited after the collapse of the USSR, will gradually evolve towards a multipolar system. Inevitably, this transition will plunge the world into a period of geopolitical turbulence the repercussions of which are scrutinized by the author.
Some bet, as it used to be, that a change in the Russian stance towards the Arab Region will occur and will be similar to what had taken place concerning the Iraqi or Libyan affair. However, a insightful analysis of the Russian stance will rule out such a notion for the following considerations:
The Russian regression is not possible in the world of today given that Moscow sees in current events, and in confronting the West; the Europeans and Americans, an opportunity for the crystallization of a new world order that surpasses the world order (which cannot be considered an order) that prevailed in the Post-Cold War and Collapse of the Soviet Union; an order represented by the unipolarity and shifted towards non-polarity after the 2006 Lebanon war.
Vladimir Putin expressed this by sending out a message on January 14, 2012 in which he announced that we were witnessing the instance of forming a new world order unlike the case of unipolarity that came in the aftermath of the Fall of the Soviet Union. This means that Moscow is going until the end in thwarting any attempt to exceed it up to confrontation. The declaration of the Russian Foreign Ministry that the West would be committing a grave error if it ever thought of attacking Iran – and following this declaration by another one for Putin in which he says that should the West attempts at performing a unilateral action in the international arena, Moscow will not stay still; rather, it will respond strongly – was no more than an ultimatum that Moscow is not going to hold any bargains similar to those known over the Iraqi case or even over the Russian perplexity vis-à-vis Libya, and that everything today moves towards shaping a new world order that accompanied the American strategic withdrawal from Iraq when the American President Barack Obama announced the draw down of the U.S. forces from 750.000 to 490.000 and the reduction of the defense budget by $ 450 billion.
The abovementioned reflects the inability of launching two military operations at a time and starting to confront China in South-east Asia and working on arming it (South-east Asia) . Beijing responded on Jan. 7, 2012 by stating that ”it is no longer in the hands of Washington to prevent the Chinese Sun from rising”. This means that Washington is recommitting the folly of confronting China having lost the battle with Moscow in numerous places, whether in the gas game in Turkmenistan and Iran or in the Eastern Coast of the Mediterranean whereby, Washington withdrew with merely announcing its aforementioned strategy that commits to the stability and security of the Middle East by saying that it will remain wakeful.
As regards his strategy which is more than election intentions, Putin wrote the following: “the world is on the verge of entering the phase of turmoil that is going to be long and painful”. Therefore, he, decisively affirms that Russia is not going to chase illusions of the system of the unipower that is collapsing and could not establish the world stability at a time when other centres of influence are not yet ready to take this lead. In other words, we are facing a long period of confrontation with the system of the unipolarity until the influential powers crystallize, and the New World Order, in return.
Americans usually withdraw when their success prospects are not swift nor certain. They know quite well how much their economy is deterioration and how uninfluential their military power is getting, especially after losing their military prestige due to using this military power. It is true that Putin realizes that time is not going backwards, however, he calls the Permanent Member States in the UN Security Council and the G8 and G20 to stop the possibility of the rise of the social and ethnic tension rates, and the emergence of destructive powers that declares itself with hostility but will pose a threat on the world’s security. This is a clear indication to the refusal of the presence of religious trends in the decision making positions and armed groups that do not adhere to the system of the state. Those are the groups that Putin clearly points to as allies of the states that are having a go in exporting democracy militarily and obligatorily. This means that Moscow will not save any effort in confronting such political trends and armed groups where Russia seems to be an essential part in the war against them. The Russian President ends by stating that violation of the International Law is no longer justifiable even if there were good intentions behind. This means that the Russians are not going to accept any attempt on the part of France, Britain and the U.S. that aims at substituting the principle of sovereignty with the principle of Humanitarian Intervention.
In fact, the U.S. cannot withdraw completely from the Middle East. It is only clearing the area for «a by proxy war». This comes at a time when Putin admits that the participating (emerging) powers are not ready yet to take its position in the New World that is not going to be a unipolar one. Those emerging powers are China, India, and the Shanghai Organisation for Cooperation States in general. This entails the following:
1 Today’s world is going to be more non-polar than used to be during (2006-2011).
2. Conflicts will be characterized by being global, but there will be an escalative language that reaches the edge of the abyss and warns of that the whole world will be at the risk of slipping.
3. The rule that says that the super powers do not die in bed is a rule that recalls caution due to the risks of fleeing forward especially when a super power finds itself outside the Major System that it used to be within since the World War II which will make options oscillate between having a war and rising tension in the influence areas of the others. As long as war between super powers is difficult if not impossible due to nuclear armament, rising tension or launching by-proxy wars soon becomes alternatives for the conflicts of international (self) fortification. Also, there are the options of satisfactory redistribution of zones of influence according to a new Yalta. This is out of calculations now even if it is not final because (the option Nil Ø) does not, by any means, part of the political action. There is a rule that says that the defeat of Super Powers is possible, but breaking it is not preferable. Rather, saving its face is the best way towards cohabitation between the previous Super Powers and the present ones. This was actually the case with France and Britain in the Post WWII era.
Managing crises with crises:
4. The gravest concern vis-à-vis the continuity of the status-quo that exceeds the ferocity of the Cold War, but diverges from it in the tools used for a long time until the emerging Shanghai states get ready to assume their positions. This means that the conflict zones will be subject to a long-term attrition (Korea – Iran – Syria) which means in the language of contemporary politics “openness” on the (domino effect – atypical movement – black swan); i.e., opening on the unprecedented and the uncalculated, and shifting from limited struggles to qualitative ones that could be a kind of (Major Gambling) in the zones of attrition.
It is certain that the countries involved in the struggle will be parties to the apportionment, and that the international apportionment will not necessarily take place at their expense since they are part of the struggle. All other countries will be on the margin of struggle or will be tools to the struggle where the international apportionment will be at their expense. According to the rules of the International struggle, the rule that says that engagement is part of the apportionment is a sound one – up till now – provided that such countries do not lose the initiative nor their free will and action, and that they should follow the principle of (steadiness of the will) which is a principle rule in crises management.
5. The reality is that crisis management will be the rule according to which the coming phase which might last for years will work. However, the risks lie in shifting towards managing crises with crises which means a shift in the Eastern Mediterranean and South-East Asia towards regions of chronic crises.