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Who benefits from Middle East crisis? -Interview

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Laaska News  Apr 3, 2011.

Interview with Vladimir Sotnikov, senior research fellow of the Institute of Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Kudashkina Ekaterina  (VOR)

Download Libyan rebels. Photo: AFP

Interview with Vladimir Sotnikov, senior research fellow of the Institute of Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences.


The situation in Libya and the ongoing civil war and the interference on behalf of western powers – it is not yet very clear where the situation might be leading to in Libya. So I think the most probable scenario could be that after Libya there will be probably the turn of some other African Arab country like Morocco for example, or the situation in Yemen actually is not good, or in Syria, because the popular unrest and upheavals are taking place in these countries. So I think this theory of domino effect has proved to be very precise of what is going on nowadays in the Arab East.



From the point of view of Washington politicians and Washington-based analysts, Washington is actually fighting now between the desire to have this Saudi Arabia as its closest ally in the Middle East and to fight off the Islamic republic of Iran, its enemy in the Middle East and in the Near East too. So from the point of view of Washington policy-makers – yes, they are right to some sort, because they think in terms of continuing domination of the United States in the Middle East and preserving their vital interests, which include oil supplies, which include supporting Israel on every occasion and which include fighting against continuation of the Iranian nuclear program. But from the point of view of Russian national interests, I think this Washington Post scenario, though I share the view of this author, who actually predicted that the ongoing crisis in the Middle East ends actually the second stage, I share this view; so from the point of view of the Russian Federation, I think that we do not actually stand for having a closest ally – we are continuing the line of maintaining good relations with all Arab states, whatever the upheaval, whatever revolutions might take place in the Arab East; and I think the recent position of the Russian  Federation in the UN Security Council – it is known Russia abstained from voting  for directing military intervention on behalf of the NATO allies and USA in Libya – it shows that Russia actually permanently keeps in mind  the strengthening of good neighbor friendly relations with Arab states, with whom during  the old Soviet days the Soviet Union had very good relations. So I think the points of view of the American side and the Russian side are very much divergent here. And that means that we have certain things in common with the United States, but to the major question – whether our political interest coincides with the American interest in the Middle East, – these views are divergent.



The vital question always in this kind of crises wherever they happen in the world is who actually cares and who gets all the benefits from these crises. So I think it is still very much unclear who stands behind the ongoing crisis in the Middle East. It is evident that it is not the United States who are actually benefiting from the crisis, because Washington was very much hesitating about interfering militarily in the Libyan civil war; but at the same time the major players in the Middle East, I mean first of all, of course, western powers – Italy, Germany, France in the first turn, the United States, of course, – they think in terms of preserving their – first of all – economic interests, because the economy lies on the surface of every major national interest of these countries. The problem for the world and for the Arab world and for Russia lies in the area when this Libyan crisis will be over, – and I think it will be over in some time in the future, – who will benefit mostly from the gains which this one can get because of this crisis? I think that unfortunately this is not the case for Russia because it can only preserve its national interests only by preserving good relations with Arab states and maintaining their economic interests, and Russia by the way can actually have one benefit because of this Libyan crisis, that is oil and gas supplies, because I think that Libya whatever the future government could be if the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi falls, if it still maintains power, Russia by strengthening its relations with all Arab countries including those countries which are under unrest could promote its vital economic interests, and as for the west, I do not think that the west could gain considerable gains from the nowadays crisis in the Middle East, because what could be the overall scenario for all these crises which we are witnessing in the Middle East now?  The west proclaims that it is supporting the democratic revolutions in the Middle Eastern countries.

But this is only a pretext, because what can actually take place is that under the signboard of the so-called democracy or establishing democracies in these Arab countries, which are experiencing popular upheavals and unrest, there might be the third force, these are islamists, these are kind of al-Qaeda forces, like Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, like islamists in other countries, which can go out from the shadow and take up all the key positions in these countries, and that will be the case when nobody could gain anything from this ongoing crisis.



I think that strange to say, but first of all I would name the United States, because the United States has a lot to lose, because we already know that the United States are closely tied up in two bloody wars in the Muslim world, this is Iraq, though the United States withdrew significant portions of its forces from Iraq, and ongoing war in Afghanistan. So the third war, whatever the actions from the side of the United States could be, I mean that they would probably decline the continuing of the military operation on the ground in Libya, but they have much to lose, much more than, say, Italy, or France, or Western Germany or even Great Britain, because the latter are NATO allies, and they are pursuing their strategy within the strategy regarding their policies in this crisis, but of course the major player behind the backs of all these countries are the United States, and the United States, I think, will have much more to lose than any other western country.


Laaska News.