When, on June 29, 2013, Al Baghdadi’s Caliphate symbolically destroyed a mark of the boundary line of the old Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916-1917, it reaffirmed, without knowing it, its true geopolitical significance.
The long and complex agreement between France and Great Britain, which affected and changed the actions on the spot by Luis Massignon and Lawrence of Arabia, defined the dislocation of the remains of the Ottoman Empire, the only real objective of the First World War.
Oil was an accessory – certainly important but, all things considered, secondary – in the British Grand Strategy, because the issue lay in adding to the British power in the Mediterranean the land shore towards India and East Asia, the real British primary asset in terms of raw materials and hegemony over world trade.
The First World War started with a casus belli in Serbia, the Western gateway of the Eastern Empire.
The Anglo-French allies, and later the Americans, sacrificed for the East goal even Czarist Russia which, in the private documents of the British Admiralty, was indicated with the phrase “suitable for Socialist experiments” as early as 1910.
At the end of the Cold War, there was a shift from Al Qaeda to Sulbah, (the “solid foundation”) created by Abdullah Azzam, the Jordanian-Palestinian Imam affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood in 1987-1988, to the current Al Qaeda, (simply “foundation”). There is a strategic and operational continuity with today’s Caliphate.
Azzam’s text, which was praised by all major Sunni Imams of the time, begins with a revealing sentence: “Today we have no Caliphate”.
And Azzam himself created the Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba, supporting – jointly with the Pakistani intelligence services – the mujahideen who came to fight the jihad in Afghanistan against the Soviets.
It is exactly from this group, which merged with a disconsolate Bin Laden, left alone by the Pakistani and Saudi intelligence services, that Al Qaeda – as we currently know it – was born.
Islamists have learnt to their cost that they cannot support the global jihad according to Bin Laden’s old rules, namely an informal network, born from a computerized database of the Afghan jihad militants, operating without State support, except for some Sunni “help”.
Currently we are in phase two of what Abdullah Azzam already envisaged when he spoke of the “solid foundation”, namely Al Qaeda al sulbah.
Al Baghdadi’s Caliphate is one of the “solid” answers to the same Bin Laden’s questions, in a different context – made different also by the jihad activity both in the Middle East and among the Western “infidels”.
The new geopolitics of the region – which is still the connection point between the Western civilization and a revived Central Asia, will probably be as follows:
a) there will be a struggle – already evident, however – for Islamic hegemony between Iran, the leader of Shias, and Saudi Arabia, the Sunnis’ point of reference – a fight for hegemony over the Greater Middle East and the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean, so as to control the oil and natural gas consumption and the investment made by both regions to diversify their economies, which are both oil-based.
b) Whoever will win between Sunnis and Shiites will close, at their discretion, the communication line between the Eurasian peninsula and Asia, by militarily managing the new Silk Road between the Southern Mediterranean and China.
c) The jihad has always had a universalistic thrust and momentum. The “crown of Prophecy” does not admit – nor can it do so – the exchange of views and dialogue with other religions or political cultures.
Hence, Islam’s mandatory mediation on the key relationship between Europe and China, as at the time of the Roman Empire, implies the Koranic religion penetration even among the kuffar, namely the “infidels”.
d) The Russian Federation will be driven by the compaction of the Islamic universe both towards China and towards the Eurasian peninsula. In this strategic twist Russia could be tempted to regain its hegemony – this time not at territorial level, but at geoeconomic and military levels – over the EU Eastern region, with now unpredictable effects.
e) China may react with a power projection – not only at economic level – from Central Asia towards the Greater Middle East – to protect the autonomy of its crude oil supply routes and the new Silk Road which connects it with its primary markets of reference.
f) As already happens today, this will strengthen the ties between the Indian Federation and China, against Islam and jointly with Russia for gaining control over the areas stretching from Dagestan to Chechnya, which can spread the jihadist contagion up to Russia, thus separating the most populated area, bordering on the Eurasian peninsula, from the intermediate and Siberian region.
g) This would mean the end of Russia and, above all, the creation of Russia’s geo-economic dependence on what remains of the European Union.
h) The United States would deal with whoever will win the Islam’s match in the Greater Middle East – a new special relationship, like the one that Kissinger negotiated with the Saudis at the end of the Yom Kippur War. Apart from managing the flow of petrodollars, the United States needs a power controlling the EU and the Russian Federation’s expansion and which may reach up to the Chinese borders.
Obviously the United States are equally interested both in the strengthening of a network controlling the new Silk Road and in a divide and rule tactical strategy in the new Caliphate region, be it Shiite or Sunni.
i) The only credible threat to the new Caliphate – block and “cap” for the Eurasian peninsula – will come from the North-West region – with the Russian-Caucasian axis – and from the Southern seas, with the Chinese-Indian axis, which will act as sea containment for the Islamic region and land control factor for Kashmir, another future thorn of the jihad.
Iranians Will Boycott Iran Election Farce
Iran and elections have not been two synonymous terms. A regime whose constitution is based on absolute rule of someone who is considered to be God’s representative on earth, highest religious authority, morality guide, absolute ruler, and in one word Big Brother (or Vali Faqih), would hardly qualify for a democracy or a place where free or fair elections are held. But when you are God’s rep on earth you are free to invent your own meanings for words such as democracy, elections, justice, and human rights. It comes with the title. And everyone knows the fallacy of “presidential elections” in Iran. Most of all, the Iranian public know it as they have come to call for an almost unanimous boycott of the sham elections.
The boycott movement in Iran is widespread, encompassing almost all social and political strata of Iranian society, even some factions of the regime who have now decided it is time to jump ship. Most notably, remnants of what was euphemistically called the Reformist camp in Iran, have now decided to stay away from the phony polls. Even “hardline” former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad realizes the extent of the regime’s woes and has promised that he will not be voting after being duly disqualified again from participating by supreme leader’s Guardian Council.
So after 42 years of launching a reformist-hardliner charade to play on the West’s naivety, Khamenei’s regime is now forced to present its one and true face to the world: Ebrahim Raisi, son of the Khomeinist ideology, prosecutor, interrogator, torturer, death commission judge, perpetrator of the 1988 massacre of political prisoners, chief inquisitionist, and favorite of Ali Khamenei.
What is historic and different about this presidential “election” in Iran is precisely what is not different about it. It took the world 42 years to cajole Iran’s medieval regime to step into modernity, change its behavior, embrace universal human rights and democratic governance, and treat its people and its neighbors with respect. What is shocking is that this whole process is now back at square one with Ebrahim Raisi, a proven mass murderer who boasts of his murder spree in 1988, potentially being appointed as president.
With Iran’s regime pushing the envelope in launching proxy wars on the United States in Iraq, on Saudi Arabia in Yemen, and on Israel in Gaza and Lebanon, and with a horrendous human rights record that is increasingly getting worse domestically, what is the international community, especially the West, going to do? What is Norway’s role in dealing with this crisis and simmering crises to come out of this situation?
Europe has for decades based its foreign policy on international cooperation and the peaceful settlement of disputes, and the promotion of human rights and democratic principles. The International community must take the lead in bringing Ebrahim Raisi to an international court to account for the massacre he so boastfully participated in 1988 and all his other crimes he has committed to this day.
There are many Iranian refugees who have escaped the hell that the mullahs have created in their beautiful homeland and who yearn to one day remake Iran in the image of a democratic country that honors human rights. These members of the millions-strong Iranian Diaspora overwhelmingly support the boycott of the sham election in Iran, and support ordinary Iranians who today post on social media platforms videos of the Mothers of Aban (mothers of protesters killed by regime security forces during the November 2019 uprising) saying, “Our vote is for this regime’s overthrow.” Finally, after 42 years, the forbidden word of overthrow is ubiquitous on Iranian streets with slogans adorning walls calling for a new era and the fall of this regime.
Europe should stand with the Iranian Resistance and people to call for democracy and human rights in Iran and it should lead calls for accountability for all regime leaders, including Ebrahim Raisi, and an end to a culture of impunity for Iran’s criminal rulers.
Powershift in Knesset: A Paradigm of Israel’s Political Instability
The dynamics of the Middle East are changing faster than anyone ever expected. For instance, no sage mind ever expected Iran to undergo a series of talks with the US and European nations to negotiate sanctions and curb its nuclear potential. And certainly, no political pundit could have predicted a normalization of diplomacy between Israel and a handful of Arab countries. The shocker apparently doesn’t end there. The recent shift in Israeli politics is a historic turnaround; a peculiar outcome of the 11-day clash. To probe, early June, a pack of eight opposition parties reached a coalition agreement to establish Israel’s 36th government and oust Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister. While the political impasse has partly subsided, neither the 12-year prime minister is feeble nor is the fragile opposition strong enough to uphold an equilibrium.
Mr. Netanyahu currently serves as the caretaker prime minister of Israel. While the charges of corruption inhibited his drive in the office, he was responsible to bring notable achievements for Israel in the global diplomatic missions. Mr. Netanyahu, since assuming office in 2009, has bagged several diplomatic victories; primarily in reference to the long-standing conflict with Palestine and by extension, the Arab world. He managed to persuade former US President Donald J. Trump to shift the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the contentious city of Jerusalem. Furthermore, he managed to strike off the Palestinian mission in Washington whilst gaining success in severing US from the nuclear agreement with Iran. To the right-wing political gurus, Mr. Netanyahu stood as a symbolic figure to project the aspirations of the entire rightest fraction.
However, the pegs turned when Mr. Netanyahu refused to leave the office while facing a corruption trial. What he deemed as a ‘Backdoor Coup Attempt’ was rather criticized by his own base as a ruse of denial. By denying the charges and desecrating the judges hearing his case, Mr. Netanyahu started to undercut the supremacy of law. While he still had enough support to float above water, he lost the whelming support of the rightest faction which resulted in the most unstable government and four inconclusive elections in the past two years.
While Mr. Netanyahu was given the baton earlier by President Reuven Rivlin, he failed to convince his bedfellow politicians to join the rightest agenda. Moreover, Mr. Netanyahu probably hoped to regain support by inciting a head-on collision with the Palestinians. The scheme backfired as along with the collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the tremors overtook Israel’s own Arab-Jewish cities resulting in mass chaos. The burning of Mosques and local Synagogues was hardly the expectation. Thus, both the raucous sentiment pervading the streets of Israel as well as the unstable nature of the Netanyahu-government led the rightest parties to switch sides.
As Mr. Netanyahu failed to convince a coalition government, the task was handed to Mr. Yair Lapid, a centrist politician. While the ideologies conflicted in the coalition he tried to forge, his counterparts, much like him, preferred to sideline the disputes in favor of dethroning Netanyahu. Mr. Lapid joined hands with a pool of political ideologies, the odd one being the conservative Yamina party led by the veteran politician, Mr. Naftali Bennett. While Mr. Lapid has been a standard-bearer for secular Israelis, Mr. Bennett has been a stout nationalist, being the standard-bearer for the rightest strata. To add oil to the fire, the 8-party coalition also includes an Arab Islamist party, Raam. A major conflict of beliefs and motivations.
Although the coalition has agreed to focus on technocratic issues and compromise on the ideological facets, for the time being, both the rightest and the leftish parties would be under scrutiny to justify the actions of the coalition as a whole. Mr. Bennett would be enquired about his take on the annexation of occupied West Bank, an agenda vocalized by him during his alliance with Mr. Netanyahu. However, as much as he opposes the legitimacy of the Palestinian state, he would have to dim his narrative to avoid a fissure in the already fragile coalition. Similarly, while the first independent Arab group is likely to assume decision-making in the government for the first time, the mere idea of infuriating Mr. Bennett strikes off any hope of representation and voice of the Arabs in Israel.
Now Mr. Netanyahu faces a choice to defer the imminent vote of confidence in Knesset whilst actively persuading the rightest politicians to abandon the coalition camp. His drive has already picked momentum as he recently deemed the election as the ‘Biggest Fraud in the History of Israeli Politics’. Furthermore, he warned the conservatives of a forthcoming leftist regime, taking a hit on Naftali colluding with a wide array of leftist ideologies. The coalition is indeed fragile, yet survival of coalition would put an end to Netanyahu and his legacy while putting Naftali and then Lapid in the office. However, the irony of the situation is quite obvious – a move from one rightest to the other. A move from one unstable government to a lasting political instability in Israel.
The Gaza War
On May 22, 2021, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei’s website, posted a congratulatory message from one of the Hamas group’s leaders, Ziad Nakhaleh. In his message, Ziad Nakhaleh addresses Khamenei and says, “Qasem Soleimani’s friends and brothers, especially Ismail Ghani (Iran’s IRGC commander) and his colleagues, led this battle and were present with us during our recent conflict with Israel. … We pray for the preservation of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its brave soldiers.”
Since the regime’s establishment 42 years ago, Iran has been instrumental in inflicting war and chaos regionally. When Iran finds itself cornered and entangled with its internal problems or facing an impasse, a war or bloody conflict gets ignited by the regime to divert the Iranian people’s attention. This undeclared policy of the Iranian regime frees itself from the most pressing internal issues, even temporarily.
Today’s Iranian society is like a barrel of gunpowder ready to ignite. Last year, the Iranian parliament declared that more than 60 percent of Iranians live below the poverty line. According to the media close to the regime, close to 80% of the population below the poverty line this year. It is worth mentioning that Iran is one of the top 10 wealthiest countries globally, despite the challenges of the current sanctions.
This poverty is mainly the result of rampant institutionalized government corruption. According to Qalibaf, the current speaker of Iran’s parliament, only 4 percent of the population is prosperous, and the rest are poor and hungry. The two uprisings of 2017 and mid-November 2019 that surprised the regime were caused mainly by extreme poverty and high inflation. The regime survived the above widespread uprisings by opening direct fire at the innocent protestors, killing more than 1500 people. There is no longer any legitimacy for the regime domestically and internationally.
The explosive barrel of the Iranian discontent is about to burst at any given moment. To delay such social eruption, Khamenei banned the import of COVID-19 vaccines from the US, Britain, and France, hoping the people will be occupied with the virus and forget about their miserable living conditions.
On the other hand, the Iranian regime is in the midst of new negotiations with the western countries regarding its nuclear program. These negotiations may force the regime to abandon its nuclear plans that have cost billions of dollars, its terrorist activities in the region, and its ballistic missiles stockpile. This retreat will inevitably facilitate the growth and spread of the uprisings and social unrest across Iran.
The Deadlock of the Regime
The regime is facing an election that could ignite the barrel of gunpowder of the Iranian society. In 1988, when Khamenei wanted to announce Ahmadinejad as the winner of the presidential ballot boxes but faced opposition from former Prime Minister Mousavi. Widespread demonstrations were ignited. The same scenario is repeating itself in this year’s presidential election, where Khamenei intends to announce Raisi as the next president of Iran. There is a legitimate fear that demonstrations will ignite once again.
To avoid the happening of the same experience, Khamenei is forced to make an important decision. Like any other dictator, he pursues a policy of contraction during these challenging and crucial times, deciding to favor those loyal to him and his policies. Khamenei needs a uniform and decisive government to exert maximum repression on the Iranian people.
By disqualifying the former president (Ahmadinejad), the current vice president (Jahangiri), and most importantly, his current adviser and speaker of the two parliaments (Larijani), he has cut loose a large part of his regime. One way or another, Khamenei’s contraction policy is going to weaken his grip on power.
On the other hand, the Iranian regime must comply with the West’s demand for nuclear talks. In 2021, the political landscape is entirely different from 2015 in the balance of regional and global forces. The regime’s regional influence in Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria has been severely weakened.
There is an explosive situation inside Iran. The resistance units spread throughout Iran after the 2019 uprising and have rapidly increased in recent months. They are spreading the message of separation of religion from the government, plus equality between men and women in a society where women do not have the right to be elected as president or a minister. The resistance units call themselves supporters of Maryam Rajavi, the Iranian regime’s sworn enemy. These units can direct a massive flood of people’s anger towards the Supreme Leader’s establishments with every spark and explosion.
Khamenei wanted to force the West to lift all sanctions and demonstrate a show of force within Iran and the region by initiating the Gaza war. The Gaza war was intended to divert the attention from Khamenei’s decisions on Iran’s presidential election. In this situation, the regime wanted to break its presidential deadlock by firing rockets through Hamas and carrying out a massacre in Israel and Palestine.
Kenya Receives $750 million Boost for COVID-19 Recovery Efforts
To reinforce Kenya’s resilient, inclusive and green economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, the World Bank approved $750 million in...
World Bank Supports Croatia’s Firms Hit by COVID-19 Pandemic
Tamara Perko, President of the Management Board of the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development (HBOR) and Elisabetta Capannelli, World...
Assessing the trends of Globalization in the Covid Era
Coronavirus largely represents acceleration in existing globalization trends, rather than a full paradigm shift. Globalization has ebbed and flowed over...
Zimbabwe’s Economy is Set for Recovery, but Key Risks Remain
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in Zimbabwe is projected to reach 3.9 percent in 2021, a significant improvement after a...
Carl Schmitt for the XXI Century
For decades, the scholars of international relations have confused the term “New World order” in the social, political, or economic...
Educating Women in Pakistan: A Necessity For National Development
Education is fundamental to the success of any nation. Almost every developed nation recognizes its importance and lays great emphasis...
How has Russia’s economy fared in the pandemic era?
Authors: Apurva Sanghi, Samuel Freije-Rodriguez, Nithin Umapathi COVID-19 continues to upturn our lives and disrupt economic activity across the world....
Economy2 days ago
Is Bangladesh falling into a China’s Debt-Trap Like Sri-Lanka?
Economy3 days ago
Rare Earth Elements: Elements of the New trade war
Europe2 days ago
Failed Diplomacy: A hot tension between Spain and Morocco
New Social Compact2 days ago
Global Health Security: The need for collective action
East Asia2 days ago
Taiwan: The First and Oldest ‘Thorn’ between China and the West
Intelligence2 days ago
Uranium is being traded freely in the open market in India
Middle East2 days ago
Powershift in Knesset: A Paradigm of Israel’s Political Instability
New Social Compact3 days ago
Sindh Compulsory Marriage Act 2021 in Pakistan