The United States has enjoyed the preeminent position globally as well as the Middle East for the last half a century. Like all empires, the sun has risen and now may be setting on the American century. This is due in no small part to atrocious leadership and imbecilic foreign policy controlled by ideologues and special interests. In particular, the US has lost significant influence in the Middle East over the last decade by turning allies into enemies and sovereign nations into hostile failed states. In the process, the US created leadership vacuums that it was unable or unwilling to fill. In those voids reentered old actors with Russia leading the way. With Russia now firmly retrenched in the Middle East, the US can no longer afford to continue with business as usual. The US must reevaluate its entire foreign policy positions and design a new grand strategy recognizing Russia is no longer a spoiler, but the kingmaker in the Middle East. Russia has set the chessboard in the Middle East to achieve global dominance in one apocalyptic move. As such, if there is to be war or peace, analysts should be looking toward Russia.
The American legacy of the 21st Century has been to turn the Middle East into rubble and radicals. No matter how much military power or money the US peddles, the policies and actions of particularly the Obama Administration have turned even our strongest allies against us for their own survival. The entire geopolitical order has been obliterated and chaos is everywhere. No longer can countries trust the US. Irrespective of whether or not you support countries like Egypt, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, you must recognize that these countries formed a critical block of allies with respect to US strategic interests. Each one of these countries has since been undermined by the Obama Administration by supporting a coup in Egypt and strengthening the arch enemies of Israel and Saudi Arabia. Further, the US left Iraq to chaos, which allowed it to be ripped into the Islamic State, Iran, and Kurdistan. In Syria, a secular nation not hostile to the US, we created a civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands. Further south in Yemen, the US brazenly tried to pick sides and created conditions that facilitated Yemen’s slide back into civil war. Even in North Africa, we overthrew our ally in Libya and turned the country into a failed extremist state. However, amidst this chaos and amateurish reactive US foreign policy, Russia has become the voice of reason and a stabilizing factor. The newfound influence puts Russia in a unique position to realign the chessboard in its favor and if necessary, allow the region to fall into complete war.
In Syria, Russia backed state sovereignty against foreign intervention and an Islamist insurgency. It also negotiated the removal or chemical weapons to prevent the US from using a false flag attack as a pretext for another interventionist war. Further, the Russian military is solely responsible for preventing a complete collapse of Syria to Islamic extremists. Russian military support has not just halted ISIL’s advance, but has turned the tide of the civil war and ISIL is now in retreat. The US has only pretended to fight ISIL, the terrorist army it created. While Moscow is fighting Islamic terrorists, Washington seems busy trying to arm the terrorists. Further, the US has continued to try and bait President Assad into a conflict, which would justify a direct US military invasion while ISIL brutalizes and murders thousands of innocent people. The US can use propaganda to try and lie to the world, but the truth is blatantly evident that the US has brought only death and destruction to Syria making it easy for Russia to be the good guy.
In Iraq, Russia has entered upon the request of the Iraqi government and is providing valuable support to stabilize the country politically, economically, and militarily. Russia has also taken steps to protect ethnic minorities and Christians. On the other hand, the US was directly responsible for the invasion that toppled the Iraqi government and created what amounts to a failed state. The US’s failure to manage and defeat the Sunni insurgency created the conditions that allowed it to mature into ISIL. The US also created the political vacuum that allowed Iran to assume political control over Baghdad, which destroyed the geopolitical balance in the region and has created an escalating conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The US has also failed to appropriately back the Kurds, which has caused major destabilization and problems for Turkey as I warned would happen. However, the US seems content to protect the oil investments companies like Exxon have made to the oil fields around Kirkuk even as people just miles away are being slaughtered by radical jihadists. Considering the above, is it any wonder that Baghdad has been turning more and more to Moscow for support?
The US has also managed to create regional instability that is rising quickly to the point of war by allowing Iran to pursue nuclear ambitions largely unchecked, access billions of dollars in frozen accounts, and pursue advanced long range ballistic missile capabilities. This has put Saudi Arabia into panic seeking its own nuclear weapons and Israel on a war footing preparing for a unilateral tactical nuclear strike against Iran that would cause a global disaster. I should point out that I have never been an advocate of war with Iran and have been a longtime supporter of a sensible peace deal. However, the Obama Administration completely failed to negotiate anything close to a tough deal that protected our allies while effectively disarming Iran in exchange for its reentry into the international community. Russia’s role up until recently was simply the spoiler or to maintain Iran as a regional counterbalance. Russia used a slow roll approach to helping Iran develop nuclear energy as political leverage against US policies, but was unwilling to destabilize the region by grossly adjusting the regional power balance, which it knew could trigger a war. To support this thesis, Russia withheld the sale of S-300 air defense systems to Iran at the behest of Israel and the US. Unfortunately, the US destroyed that balance by creating the civil war in Syria and supporting ISIL. In order to rebalance the equation and protect its own strategic assets, Russia was forced to directly enter the fight in Syria, coordinate with the Iranian military (as has the US), and has since went forward with the sale and deployment of the S-300 missiles I have previously written extensively about (See: http://www.lastminutesurvival.com/2015/08/29/russian-transfer-of-s-300-air-defense-system-may-force-israeli-to-initiate-war-with-iran-before-winter/).
The combined effect of these major events has been to move Russia into a position where it has the capability dethrone the US in the region or at least gain significantly more influence than it has previously enjoyed. Already, Baghdad has made significant weapons deals with Russia at the expense of the US. Syria is also now on the offensive against the rebels and it is looking more and more likely the US will have to recognize that Assad will retain power, which is a major victory for Russia. Assad knows exactly what the US tried to do and will not forget the treason. This means Syria will be moved from a generally neutral country to a country openly hostile to US interests for the foreseeable future while working closely with Russia. Egypt has also been double crossed by Washington and has since moved much closer to Russia. Even longtime ally Israel has been shunned by the Obama Administration so Tel Aviv has had little choice, but to improve relations with Moscow. Iran too has won repeated political victories against Washington while still remaining hostile to the US. However, Iran and Russia still have close ties, which means when it comes to lucrative oil and weapons deals, the US will most likely lose out to Russia. This alone would be a net gain for Russia, but the region has not yet rebalanced.
The final rebalancing of power in the Middle East unfortunately looks to occur due to a major war between Iran and Saudi Arabia and or Israel. The US has already shown it leads from the rear, isn’t willing to back its allies, and will allow their enemy Iran to rapidly develop its military capabilities. This means time is running out for a negotiated settlement, which at this point seems very remote. In the absence of the US, Russia will by default get the vote on whether or not a full scale regional war occurs in the Middle East. Dangerously, Russia and Saudi Arabia are not on good terms and Russia has a unique interest in seeing Saudi Arabia’s oil production capability diminished. To date, Saudi Arabia has been flooding the market with oil, which is costing Russia billions of dollars in oil revenue. This is not a situation Russia is likely to tolerate for much longer. Russia is not an irrational actor and would much rather see Saudi Arabia simply reduce production, but Saudi Arabia has repeatedly refused to reduce supply and allow the price of oil to rise. Russia is also well aware of Saudi Arabia’s support of Islamic extremists and will not and cannot tolerate the radicalization of its large Muslim population. To say the least, I find it no surprise that as Saudi Arabia’s artificial depression of oil prices has continued tensions with Iran and Iraq have escalated. Further, as Iran has improved its military capabilities, Israel has been preparing for what now appears to be an inevitable war with Iran. How much of this is organic and how much is being orchestrated by Moscow we can’t be sure. However, we can be sure that Russia is now well positioned to capitalize on a war if one breaks out. Specifically, Russia has now connected via pipelines to China and is prepared to capture and monopolize the Middle East’s share of the global oil business should it suddenly be disrupted.
I am not the first to recognize that any disruption to oil production in the Persian Gulf region will cause prices to spike and cause global shortages. However, to my knowledge, few if any analysts are warning that Russia has intentionally, brilliantly I might add, manufactured the situation so that it can in one strategic play achieve global checkmate. By having prepared its oil industry to supply the world’s markets, Russia is now positioned to obtain a global strategic dominance of petroleum supplies for at least the next twenty years by triggering a war in the Middle East that would cause Russia’s competition to eliminate itself. This war would be a devastating regional conflagration and leave the regions oil and gas infrastructure destroyed, nations in ungovernable chaos, and previous political borders erased. The result for Russia would be a trillion dollar windfall in oil revenue, the ability to hold Europe hostage for resources, and the US severely weakened economically, politically, and militarily. This would destroy the Petro-Dollar; the importance of this I can’t stress enough because it would bring down the US economy. Further, any nation still standing such as India and China will have to directly trade in the Ruble debasing the US Dollar as the global reserve currency and further reenergizing Russia’s economy. The pieces are in place and the only question now is if Putin feels that the forces of the New World Order have backed him into a corner where he has no other option than to conduct a controlled detonation of the global chessboard. Dangerously, it does appear the Middle East is moving exactly in that direction and it would be wise for analysts to take note because if this train wreck is not prevented in the next few months, there will be no stopping it.