The coming Middle East

Marc Lynch (aka Abu Aardvark) writes:

The top story in today’s online version of the leading pan-Arab Saudi-owned daily al-Hayat?  The visit to Saudi Arabia by China’s President Hu Jintao, who promises to improve Saudi-Chinese cooperation, and to look out for regional stability (as any great power with interests there might).

Israel’s elections?  A victory for the “extremist right” and relegated to the second tier… next to French President Sarkozy’s visit to Baghdad, where Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki declares the “end of the era of American pressure.”

As China’s share of world GDP increases, China’s ability to project power and influence will also increase, and because China relies on imported oil, China is going to want good relations with oil exporting countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran. All of these countries also have an interest in reducing American power in the region. (Though of course neither Saudi Arabia not Iran want American power totally replaced by Chinese power; instead they want the two to counteract each other, and therefore balance each other out, so that Iran and Saudi Arabia are under the thumb of neither China nor America).

Incidently back in 2003 I predicted that the American invasion of Iraq might ironically lead to a democratic Iraqi government that’s closer to France and Europe than to the USA, and that all the righ-wing pro-war US bloggers were too stupid (or blinded by ideology) to see it coming:

Another Muslim country, Iraq, may become a democracy. It’s too early to tell what will happen in Iraq, but I think that some sort of democracy is the most likely outcome, though certainly not inevitable. If Iraq becomes democratic, don’t expect it to automatically agree with the West on everything, and particularly don’t expect it to agree with the US positions on either the Israeli/Palestinian dispute, or the desirability of the USA having large military forces in the region. However, a democratic Iraq is likely to have fewer quarrels with EU policy, since the EU is far less keen than the USA to invade or attack countries, and in general prefers using the carrot to the stick.

Thus, a democratic Iraq could help the EU in terms of geopolitics. It would be interesting to see the reaction of the more extremist and rabid right-wing anti-European political pundits if the invasion of Iraq ended up increasing the power of France and Germany, at the expense of the USA.

One problem with this scenario is that the EU and its member states aren’t serious about becoming real players in geopolitics — but if they did want to, they have all the things a great power needs (i.e. money, technology, and military force).

This entry was posted in China, Europe, foreign policy, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, South West Asia, USA. Bookmark the permalink.

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