Winners & loosers (German view)

Discussion in 'Middle East - General' started by ekrem, Apr 26, 2011.

  1. ekrem
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    ekrem VIP Member

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    Author is Director of Institution which advises the Bundestag (the German parliament) and the federal government on foreign and security policy issues.
    German Institute for International and Security Affairs - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The Süddeutsche Zeitung, published in Munich, is the largest German national subscription daily newspaper.
    Süddeutsche Zeitung - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    Change in the Middle East
    The new world order

    Although the course and outcome of the transformation processes in Arab states and Iran are still open - it is already becoming apparent how the regional events will affect the geopolitical weight distribution.


    Egypt, whose inner stagnation kept it increasingly outside of influence in foreign-policy, will at least partially regain its natural role in the Arab world.
    Not necessarily an active or even hegemonic leadership, but that of a trendsetter. Egypt under Abdel Nasser in the fifties and sixties was a model for the military-backed Arab autocracies. In the seventies Egypt started with a top-driven economic policy of opening, and closing a peace-deal with Israel as the first Arab state. As the most populous state in the region, Egypt is at the same time a reference point for political and social debates in the Arab world.

    A new democratically elected leadership in Egypt will more likely find open doors in Washington and European capitals than their predecessors, but Egypt will appear more self-conscious towards Europe, the USA and Israel. Although no relevant political force in Egypt will want to denounce the peace treaty with Israel.
    Egypt will also no longer play auxiliary policemen on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

    Saudi Arabia however is expected to lose weight. In the last ten years, Riyadh had played an increasingly important role in regional politics, not only because Cairo no longer filled the traditional leadership role. Essential for Riyadh were the cautious domestic reforms and its active regional policy.

    These included the Arab-Peace initiative of 2002, and repeated efforts to balance intra-Palestinian and intra-Lebanese conflicts. The fact that Saudi Arabia is a privileged interlocutor of the United States was the most important counterbalance to Iran in the Persian Gulf. And Saudi Arabia was the only Near-or Middle-Eastern State as a member of the G 20, which also added strength to its weight.

    The decisive factor will be how the Kingdom is positioned in the face of political upheavals in the Arab world and who decides in Riyadh. King Abdullah is old and sick, and it seems as if more and more Abdullah is influenced in his decisions by his much more conservative half-brother, Interior Minister Naif.
    If Abdullah's reform course would be abandoned or even a post-Abdullah Saudi-Arabia would become the leader of the counterrevolution, Saudi-Arabia's regional legitimacy would be gone.

    The decision to send troops to Bahrain to help the local minority regime against the protest movement, has damaged the image of the kingdom. In addition, the direct line between Riyadh and Washington is damaged.
    Abdullah is angry that Obama has dropped Egyptian President Mubarak.
    American advice for dealing with Bahrain were refused, and instead Saudi-Arabia made it clear that they would not tolerate democratic challenges in their own region, and Saudi-Arabia was even willing to dupe the U.S. Defense Minister. This documented the limits of U.S. influence, but at the same time it has damaged the standing of Riyadh in Washington.


    Model - in two ways
    Even Iran, contrary to its own propaganda, will hardly belong to the winners. In Teheran they are trying to convince its own population and others, that the Arab revolt had an Islamic character. Teheran ignores that the not exclusively Shiite protest movement in Bahrain is calling for democracy, dignity and adequate participation, not an Islamic Republic.

    This shows a quite typical problem of the Iranian leadership: Not denial of reality, but rather a lack of knowledge of the realities in the world, which often leads to strange interpretations of developments in the international environment, which somehow must fit into the self-perceived world. Nevertheless, one senses that even Iran's own system is challenged: the arrest of opposition leader Mousavi Karrubi showed nervousness at the top of the regime blatantly.

    An increase of political influence in the region should be visible in particular for Turkey. The Turkish government and state leadership has positioned itself on the right path from the start in the face of the Arab revolution. She recognized early on, that the old regimes had come to the end, called for reform or even sided clearly on the side of the protest movements. Given the close links between the Erdogan government to some of the old Arab regimes one can speak of opportunism. Ultimately, it counts to sit on the right side of history in due time.

    In previous years Turkey has expanded involvement in the Arab world significantly - not least by a neighborhood policy, which, like their EU counterparts focuses on trade and investment and the free-visa regime towards the Arab partner countries. Moreover, Turkey served as a model for the new political actors in the Arab countries in two ways as a model: First, the AKP, Erdogan's party, which shows that a conservative People's Democratic Party can emanate from the Islamist political spectrum.

    No coincidence that reformers based in the political-Islamist spectrum in Egypt and other Arab countries orient oneself to the AKP model, to the point of name-giving. On the other hand, for many Turkey is the model how a "soft landing" will look like, that is: an orderly transition from a dictatorship to a democratic system.

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    Umbruch im Nahen Osten - Die Neuordnung der Welt - Politik - sueddeutsche.de
     
  2. ekrem
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    Pax Ottomana?
    Pax Ottomana? | Foreign Affairs

     
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    Carnegie's Henri Barkey:
    (whole video --> http://i.cfr.org/content/publications/media/2010/20100330Turkey.mp4 )
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2011
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    People who spell "losers" as "loosers" are losers.
     

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