Welcome to Hell in the Middle East (Part VI) – Globalisation or Geo-Economics?


What has been going on in the Middle East is not – as promoted by many US think-tanks – a proxy cold war between Iran and Saudi Arabia along sectarian lines, but rather part of the globalisation scheme that has turned each and every stone around the world upside down. The on-going fighting in most Arab states was meant to control the oil market which is one of the most globalised markets. Oil is the most geopolitically important commodity and any structural change in oil markets will reverberate throughout the world, creating clear-cut winners and losers. To maintain a sustainable control over this market is to practically dominate the Middle East and the states of the former Soviet Union. Thus, the two regions have been under scrutiny by US strategists and therefore witnessed several means either to control or undo the role of the state. Despite the need for a state role in a globalised world to work as traffic police to organise the movement of local resources into the world market, a strong state role would go along the lines of geo-economics, which clashed with the urgent need to create the global market economy that knows no boundaries. Thus, in a globalised world the state’s role is meant to diminish but not disappear.

Saudi Arabia could be running short on oil (photo: Bharath Autos)

As EU foreign policy expert Jose Torreblanca put it, “The world now looks increasingly multi-polar, rather than multilateral. States are back (at least some of them) and rather than promoting the market, they use market tools to increase their relative power vis-à-vis the others. The logic of national security and state competition has now captured the stage, and the open logic of globalization has been replaced by neo-mercantilism.”  In his and other western experts’ opinions, going back to geo-economics is an ominous sign because it affects the conducts of the states’ foreign policies throughout the world. In 2011, Germany, the heating power house of the EU, abstained from voting along with the BRICs, instead of following along with its European partners in their support of a military intervention in Libya. This act was considered by many as a clear demonstration that Germany considered its economic interests above its political interests and commitments within Europe. For Torreblanca, this is the ominous rise of geo-economics.

Jose Torreblanca, an EU foreign policy expert (photo: Atalayar)

In the Middle East, the good guys usually supply oil for a globalised market according to the needs of western societies. However, this western world was disturbed by the rise of China in Asia, the rise of socialist systems in Latin America and to add more flames to the West’s wounds, there comes the Arab spring. But Uncle Sam, who had already anticipated the troubles in this region, started his plan early on to diminish the role of the national state. In Iraq there was a well-designed plan to dominate the national states – as part of the globalisation plan that serves to marginalize its competitors.

The Arab Spring (photo: Reuters)

The austerity programmes of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have been the ploy through which most Arab states opted for the western concept of the free market. As planned, these programs diminished the state’s role in almost all aspects of life, leaving behind millions of people under the poverty line. Being denied basic services and having non-democratic channels to express their grievances, thousands of strikes and demonstrations filled the streets of Cairo such as the ousting of Hosni Mubarak by massive demonstrations that erupted in January 2011.

Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde(M) answers questions during a press conference at IMF Headquarters during the annual World Bank – International Monetary Fund (IMF) meeting in Washington DC on 10 October, 2013 (photo: Xinhua Net)

The first failure of the globalisation plan as managed by the IMF and World Bank did not exactly shock Uncle Sam who could foresee what was coming because he was employing all his mighty political and market ploys. But, in most countries where the national state failed to meet the basic needs of its people, these programmes reached the breaking point at the beginning of the millennium. Uncle Sam forgot the brilliant rule that the free market economy should go along with the construction of open democracy but that was unattainable and hardly needed in the Middle East. Therefore, instead of promoting democratic rule by supporting the liberals, the US relied heavily on either the already existing authoritarian rulers or the Islamists since both have proven loyal to the West.

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi at a meeting with Hillary Clinton (photo: Yafacenter)

Iraq, for example, is a country with a deeply rooted civilisation, heavily loaded with oil production and ranks second globally as far as oil reserves are concerned. Its authoritarian ruler was dragged into an 8 year fight with Iran, later to invade Kuwait, then, went under UN sanctions for a decade. But that was not enough for the state to melt down and release its tightened grip over the country’s resources. The tough military rule in Iraq as led by Saddam Hussein, though decaying, would not have been wrecked to havoc but through direct invasion which tore apart the state, its army and institutions. Oil in Iraq fell handsomely into the hands of the occupiers but a strong national state was never able to make a comeback.

the 2003 invasion of Iraq (photo: Libcom)

The story in Iraq has been repeated in different forms throughout the region. NATO interfered in Libya against the Gaddafi regime and left the country in complete chaos, the revolution in Yemen left the country in a spree of power struggles due to the weak presence of the state. Syria fell easily into the hands of civil war mongers. Egypt and Tunisia were due in line but some changes took place. Despite its strategic role, Egypt isn’t blessed with the petrodollar umbrella which is also the case with Tunisia. However, the changes seem to have come from within. The fatal mistakes of the Moslem Brotherhood’s one year rule angered Egyptians and led to his ousting. Tunisia’s Brothers learned the lesson and decided to back down for now.

The desolate Libyan city of Sirte after NATO’s months-long siege (photo: Blogspot)

Syria 1 million Refugees by mid-2013 (photo: Channel4)

Airstrike targeting militants devastated this section of Jaar in yemen (photo: MPR)

The creative chaos as promoted by the US administration in this region led to a relative world disorder…but Uncle Sam doesn’t really care. On one hand, we have failing states that cannot contain the disorder on its soil, on the other we have states created by the US to bring disorder to other states. The Islamic State (ISIL) is the direct consequence of the failing states in Iraq and Syria but its sheer presence targets other states in the region. However, the Islamic State’s existence is the right pretext for the US to intervene and keep its heavy hand on oil deposits throughout the region as well as dominating other states that are badly in need of protection. Airstrikes against the Islamic State are not the sole option but pave the way for US boots in the strip called the Levant which extends from Syria to northern Iraq where the state ceased to exist. Moreover, the state monopoly on violence was replaced by sectarian and religious violence colouring the whole region with a bogus sectarian war originally created and funded by the US.

Thick clouds of black smoke hung over the war-torn city of Kobani (photo: Express)

So far, none of the western strategists are able to solve the contradiction created by the world superpower which due to its geo-economic and political interests, left the whole world limping and disordered in an era of a post-state order “with production and distribution chains [which] know no boundaries”, and the comeback of some national states in some regions. This a call for our experts to make their contribution…some of them are certainly trying.