It is always about Economics – change in the Middle East

By Mrgya V

Earlier Arab-islamic heritage, ethno-religious heterogeneity, Arab-Persian rivalry and sectarianism were reasons for a complex history of west Asia. Then colonialism, imperialism and zionism took their place to play a critical role in shaping the region’s geopolitical structure. The future of the geopolitical structure will more probably be driven by Economy.

Fragile structure of west Asia stands deeply vulnerable to the geostrategic shift in the region as well as the world. What makes it more vulnerable is it`s Arab-islamic heritage, ethno-religious heterogeneity, Arab-Persian rivalry, sectarianism, and more of the uneven distribution of resources. In this colonialism, imperialism, and zionism played a critical role for the shifts in the region. The root cause, however, was the creation of the state of Israel.

During world war 2, in the process of replacing the Ottoman empire, British broke this monolithic structure into a number of monarchical states. Britishers did it to fulfill their interest of feeding their industries with resources of this region and moulded the politics accordingly.

Thereafter, the US took control of the region in the direction of its own interest. Its dominance was contested by Soviet Union and this war of influence led to the emergence of military governments with social overtones in countries like Egypt, Syria, and Iraq.

In 1969, the US initiated Nixon Doctrine which envisaged Allies contributing to their own security with America`s assistance. Thus, Saudi Arabia and Iran were incorporated to ensure the security of the Gulf Region. The arrangement fell apart with Iranian revolution in 1979. To balance Iran, American turned to Iraq. Even this strategy failed when Iraq attacked Kuwait in August 1990. Russia by now was completely out of the scene.

In the gulf, America sought to contain both Iran and Iraq. The reliance was more on military power and not so much on political framework. The strategic profile of west Asia transformed dramatically as a sequel to 9/11, with the US unleashing of ‘global war on terror’ in Iraq and Afghanistan. Discovery of Iran’s covert nuclear programme further complicated the environment. While in Iraq, war ended by 2005, fighting in Afghanistan dragged on, compelling the US to review its engagement strategy.

By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the US was deeply engaged in west asia. The whole Gulf countries were wholly dependent on America for their security and Iran stood totally isolated.

Iran is still isolated in the region, earlier it was because of America’s political interest and now with things completely changing it is isolated by its own Arab neighbours.

 So in the world till now we saw the influence of Cold War on the geopolitics of the region. Along with oil as an energy resource, the region was a playground of world heavyweights trying to etch a pie for themselves. 

As the world changes where climate is changing faster than earlier century and we have started giving attention to this fast changing climate, slowly the energy resource of the future are changing from non renewable to renewable.

The non renewable resources of the middle east region are diminishing slowly and they can’t be replenished in near future. The basis of the politics of this region is gradually taking its last breath.

The world order is changing from unipolar to multipolar, leading to a more equal or may be a more discriminatory world where new alliances are taking shape based on individual country’s economic demands rather than ideology. ​

As the new world order gets based more on economic strength, technological development, soft power than military strength, the countries of the Middle East have to rethink their economy. Earlier they were peaceful from the economic side as they had enough oil resources to run it properly but now they would need alternate ways to earn revenue in the future.

All these events are leading the Arab nations to reach Israel for technological assistance. The warm up in this direction has already started with Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman warming up to their erstwhile sworn enemy.

The religion-ideology driven regional politics of the Middle East is slowly titling towards economically driven politics.

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