Tag Archives: Geopolitics

The New Balance of Power in the Middle East – Analysis (1)


(Russia, United States, Turkey, Egypt, Qatar & Saudi Arabia)

In 2012, as part of a phenomena known as the ‘Arab Spring’, anti-government protests escalated into civil war in Syria. The combination of the Arab uprisings that ousted long-time pro-Western autocrats in Tunis, Cairo, and Yemen coupled with the ongoing civil wars raging in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen signal the dawn of a new era in the Middle East likely to be characterized by tremendous uncertainties – uncertainties that will make any balance-of-power calculations tenuous and transient at best.

The Arab Spring regions
Countries Involved in the Arab Spring protests, Source: Wikipedia

The modern order in the Middle East and the emergence of non-state actors in the region can be traced back to the Sykes-Picot Agreement signed by Britain and France 100 years ago to divide the Ottoman Empire. The agreement officially established a vertical ruling order by the West to divide and rule in the Middle East. This not only profoundly transformed the geopolitical landscape in the region, but also started the history of the separation and parallel evolution of regimes and societies in the region.

The balance of power theory in international relations suggests that national security is enhanced when military capability is distributed so that no one state is strong enough to dominate all others. If one state becomes much stronger than others, the theory predicts that it will take advantage of its strength and attack weaker neighbors, thereby providing an incentive for those threatened to unite in a defensive coalition. Some realists maintain that this would be more stable as aggression would appear unattractive and would be averted if there was equilibrium of power between the rival coalitions.

The result has been a shift in the balance of powers in the region with new powers emerging. Unfortunately, this uncertaintly predominates today in  Syria and Iraq  , where we find a battleground of the proxies of different states and non-states. To a lesser extent, focus is also on Yemen and Egypt, but with the same level of concern as ‘Arab Spring’ sentiments of democracy and a high influx of radicalism persist.

Geopolitics changes extremely slowly because geography itself does not change. What changes is the political dimension of this geography. Most of the catastrophic mistakes made by policymakers emanate from their lack of awareness of this difference between the stability of geography and the changing elements of politics.

The future of Syria, which is expressed as a breakpoint of power balance in the Middle East by Russia and Iran and the US, is a direct determinant of in what way regional balances will have shape. Continue reading The New Balance of Power in the Middle East – Analysis (1)

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Iraq: Mosul on the brick of liberation// Irak: la « victoire » face à l’EI à Mossoul annoncée bientôt


After 8 grueling months of urban skirmishes and guerrilla warfare, Iraqi troops have captured the historic 850-year old Grand al-Nuri mosque, a symbolic liberation of the city of Mosul from ISIS caliphate, Reuters reports.

The Islamic State’s caliphate was based out of the sacred mosque. Insurgents detonated al-Nuri’s iconic al-Hadba minaret just a week before U.S. backed Iraqi forces overran the city and reclaimed control from the terrorist group. ISIS’s black flag had flown atop the minaret since June of 2014.

However, remaining ISIS fighters are carefully camouflaged within the city’s civilian population. The terrorists employ mortar fire, snipers, booby traps, and suicide bombers to prolong their inevitable defeat. The Iraqi military estimates that around 350 militants still exist in the Old City, but it is nearly impossible to project an accurate metric in the middle of all the violence.Meanwhile, according to the Guardian, hundreds of civilians fled Mosul’s Old City on Friday as Iraqi forces slowly squeezed the last pockets of Islamic State resistance, and the UN warned that the “intense and concentrated” fighting put innocent lives in even greater danger.

The Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared an end to the group’s self-proclaimed caliphate.If the Kurds achieve a similar result in Raqqa, a quick end to the conflict may be in sight.

According to HuffingtonPost’s recent analysis, despite the fact that  Iraqi armed force’s had successive victories over the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria during the past month , there remain important challenges for Iraq post IS.

Iraq today faces a problem of trust between citizens, their parties, and the state, while ever present social, ethnic, and religious divisions have been compounded by the redrawing of the political map post-IS. The country will need to combine creative national and international efforts to move the country forward and provide peace and stability in the long term.

Français:

Selon Reuters, plus de huit mois après le lancement de leur offensive, les forces irakiennes sont parvenues à reprendre la grande majorité de Mossoul tombée en juin 2014 aux mains de l’EI, une organisation responsable d’atrocités dans les zones sous son contrôle et d’attentats meurtriers à travers le monde.

L’Irak proclamera dans les “prochains jours” sa victoire face au groupe Etat islamique (EI) à Mossoul, a annoncé vendredi un commandant irakien, au moment où l’organisation jihadiste est également sous forte pression en Syrie voisine.

Pourtant, la fin de Daech ne signifiera probablement pas la fin du conflit. En effet, les conflictualités post-Etat Islamique apparaissent déjà et laissent entrevoir l’immensité du défi qui attend les acteurs locaux pour pacifier la situation et organiser l’administration des différents territoires.

Jeudi, les forces irakiennes sont parvenues au site quasi-détruit de la mosquée emblématique Al-Nouri, où Abou Bakr al-Baghdadi avait fait en juillet 2014 son unique apparition publique connue en tant que chef de l’EI et appelé dans un prêche les musulmans à lui obéir.

La mosquée Al-Nouri et le minaret penché, connu sous le nom d'”Al-Hadba” (“la bossue”) et surnommé “la tour de Pise irakienne”, ont été détruits le 21 juin par les jihadistes qui les ont fait exploser. Pourtant, Les jihadistes sont désormais encerclés dans cette ville du nord syrien, où près de 100.000 civils sont encore “pris au piège” selon l’ONU.

Le même jour, le Premier ministre irakien Haider al-Abadi a estimé que le “califat” proclamé par l’EI en juin 2014 sur les territoires conquis en Syrie et en Irak, touchait à sa fin. “Nous assistons à la fin du faux Etat de Daech”, a-t-il indiqué.

Mossoul est un point éminemment stratégique, sa difficile reconquête marque donc un tournant dans la guerre civile irakienne. Néanmoins des questions se posent après la libération de Mossoul. Comment la ville sera administrée la ville après le départ ds djihadistes ? Quel rôle pour les kurdes, les arabes sunnites, mais aussi pour le pouvoir central – chiite – de Bagdad ?L’offensive, qui comprend un grand nombre de chiites et de Kurdes, fait donc face à des enjeux considérables en reprenant Mossoul.

Credit Featured Image:@ Wikimedia