In mid-December 2015, exactly on December 14, Saudi Arabia announced the creation of a broad anti-ISIS alliance including 34 Gulf, Middle East, African and Asian countries. The background of the large Sunni coalition which, in the near future, will contend with the large Shiite union – which has Iran as its point of reference – for regional and global power and hegemony. Hence it is an alliance between Saudi Arabia, Bahrain (which is mostly Shiite, but is ruled by a Sunni group), Bangladesh, the “free Bengal” which is still one of the best successes of the KGB in the Indian subcontinent, Benin, Chad, the Comoros, the Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Guinea, Jordan, Kuwait, the Lebanon, which has a Shiite majority in the South, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, which had its nuclear atomic bomb thanks to the Saudi money, Palestine, in the sense of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), Qatar, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Yemen.
Many of these countries are often rightly accused of supporting Al Baghdadi’s Caliphate (Qatar, Turkey); others are victims of a civil war on ethno-religious grounds (the Houthy Shiites in Yemen) and many others have always been a point of reference for the fight – including the West’s fight – against the jihad (Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco). However, what is the meaning of this Sunni Holy Alliance? The Coalition has excluded Iraq and Syria which, whatever happens, are characterized by a Sunni majority in the latter case and a large Sunni minority in the former case, as indeed happens also to other countries which, on the contrary, are part of the Coalition. Hence, how and to what extent will this new alliance focused on Saudi Arabia change the strategy of the other alliances already operating in the region? Saudi Arabia is already part of the US-led Coalition operating in Syria against the jihadists and the Caliphate’s militants. Furthermore the United States are in favor of the alliance of 34 Muslim nations, but the issue lies in seeing how this new configuration of the strategic balances in the Gulf region and in the Greater Middle East will justify the new Iranian arms race after the P5+1 agreement which, as I have already demonstrated, does not wipe out the dangers of Iran’s nuclearization.
Certainly, Saudi Arabia can rely on a tacit agreement with Israel to fight the greatest neighboring enemy, namely Iran, but the Israeli leadership knows all too well that the encirclement by the new military alliance sponsored by Saudi Arabia to combat terrorism can quickly choke and stifle the Jewish State, while the United States are clearly moving away from the Greater Middle East, hypnotized by their shale oil.
Hence, if the future of post-Caliphate’s Syriais a splitting on ethno-religious grounds – as is currently extremely likely – we will have an “Alawistan” along the country’s Mediterranean coast, closely linked to the Russian Federation and Iran. On the other hand, the Imam Mussa Sadr was abducted in Rome and then killed for having said that the Alawites could be considered Shiites … The significance and sense of Alawistan will be to enable Russiato have its military fleet been stably and fully present in the Mediterranean. In all likelihood, in the center of Syria there will be a “Sunnistan” linked to Saudi Arabia and the 34-country Coalition, which will have strategic significance only if it succeeds in curbing and blocking the Iranian influence in Mesopotamia. Moreover, there will be a buffer state formed by the Kurds, who will preserve their autonomy and, where necessary, will fight against Iran on the one side and against Turkey on the other.
A fragmentation of Syria which will generate small states deprived of any economic independence, political substance, stability and, hence, usefulness for those who want to use themon Mesopotamia’s chessboard. Furthermore, Iran could play the “East card”, by expanding to Central Asia, where there are many Shiite areas. In this case it would become the power broker between Russia and China in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, to protect the new “Silk Road”planned by President Xi Jinping to make China emerge from its geopolitical and geographical isolation, towards the regional sea of the future, namely the Mediterranean.
Hence the European Union, which counts for nothing, will be forced to rethink a consistent and rational policy for the Greater Middle East, well beyond the mere lip service paid to notions such as “stabilization” and “peace-building” which, as we have already seen, generate only their opposite.
If the United States really want to oppose Russia and China, they shall rebuild their circuit of petrodollars with Saudi Arabia, born since the Yom Kippur War. Otherwise the new Chinese and Russian finance will gradually exclude the US currency from global trade – and this will happen when the ruble and the renminbi will be fully convertible. The proposal for a “new Bretton Woods” has become a refrain of the Chinese central bank. Hence Syria will be the focus for the definition of the new global balances.
Giancarlo Elia Valori (@GEliaValori)
Honorable of the Académie des Sciences of the Institut de France.