Konstantin GORDEEV – Independent analyst and researcher
The tectonic political shifts in North Africa and the Middle East have been grabbing the headlines for the last couple of years as regimes across the regions collapsed, a military intervention swept over Libya, the civil war in Syria heated up prompting expectations of the Western crackdown on B. Assad's regime, and Israel threatened to wipe out – by nuclear strikes, potentially – the Iranian nuclear facilities. Watchers are left wandering what contours the future shaped by the recurrent escalations will take and what cost mankind will have to pay for the transition. The only rival theme in the media is the world economic crisis which has been raging since 2008… It fleetingly appeared a number of times that the worst was over for the global economy, but problems re-emerged to reach unprecedented proportions, with Greece almost in the state of free fall, Spain, Italy, and Portugal in serious danger, and prospects for the Eurozone dimming daily. One must be hopelessly naïve to believe that things happen on a global scale incoherently, and, the interconnection between Europe and the Middle East being a given, the troubles and destinies of the two may also be related.
Upon scrutiny, the current dynamics can be traced back to the 1950ies – 1970ies, the early phase of globaization. The profoundly conflictogenic character of the process remained latent till the Gulf War but, since surfacing in 1991, never receded to the background for long.
1999. NATO launched an aggression against Yugoslavia, brushing off the international law and citing sinister concepts like coercion to peace, humanitarian interventions, etc.
September 11, 2001. The common myth dictates that a group called Al Qaeda blew up the Twin Towers in New York shortly after the G8 summit which convened in Genoa to proclaim globalization a fundamental world policy and defying it – a de facto punishable offense.
2001. NATO occupied Afghanistan under the pretext of fighting terrorism.
2003. The Western coalition popped by the same group of countries as in Afghanistan occupied Iraq. Also in 2003, the US unveiled the Greater Middle East project aimed at a deep overhaul of country borders in the region comprising the Middle East, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, South Asia, and the post-Soviet Central Asia (Fig. 1) [1,2].
Fig. 1. The Greater Middle East
2006. Col. Ralph Peters (Ret.) who formerly served as the US military intelligence officer published in the Armed Forces Journal an opinion piece titled “Blood Borders. How a Better Middle East Would Look” which included a hypothetic map of the region with the existing states scissored according to the populations' religion and ethnicity. The paper ignited major controversy which was premised in an assumption that it reflected the US Administration's vision for the region (Fig. 2). Roughly at the same time US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice floated in the discussion of the war between Israel and Lebanon the term “the New Middle East” to designate an alternative to the Greater Middle East . Shortly thereafter, Peters published “Never Quit the Fight”, a treatise which featured the same map accompanied by a number of bold arguments. The book is currently in use in the US Army for for instruction purposes.
Fig. 2. Blood Borders as drawn by Col. Peters
December, 2010 – present. The Arab Spring instigated by the US intelligence community and implemented in line with the concept of chaos control spread like fire across the space from Morocco to Syria (Fig. 3). In the case of Libya, the upheaval became a prologue to a full-blown intervention carried out by a concert of NATO, various mercenaries, and terrorist groups, Al Qaeda spotted in the ranks.
Fig. 3 The pace of the Arab Spring 
It was clear on multiple occasions – when the Turkish military expressed concern that the Blood Borders plan called for clipping their country or when, in May, 2011, President Obama urged Israel to revert to the 1967 borders  – that the scandalous map compiled by Col. Peters was not his private invention but actually shed light on one of the US foreign-policy strategies. The outcry from Turkey was simply ignored and Obama's statement was later written off by the US Administration as a slip of the tongue, but, for example, the unofficial hearings on the creation of a Baluchistan state, an event chaired by Congressman Dana Tyrone Rohrabacher and featuring Col. Peters as a guest star, revived the feeling that the strategy was officially on the table . Then, the question arises naturally about the US motivation behind the intention to recompose the world's crucial region .
It is an open secret that neither exporting democracy nor sustaining peace in the Middle East play any roles in Washington's real agenda. The number one unreported aim must be to place the markets in the affected area under the control of international financial groups, number two being to secure the routes for feeding to the West the energy and other resources found massively in the Middle East. The same routes will surely serve as avenues for illicit transit such as drug and human trafficking, with an eye to tilting the demographic balances and undermining the living standards in the countries enjoying a decent socioeconomic climate.
The blood borders suggested by Col. Peters should make the above goals achievable in line with the “divide et impera” conventional wisdom. In essence, the New Middle East promises individual reservations to every of the region's ethnic or religious groups.
As a result, the countries with regional leadership potentials are seen in Washington as prime targets and are hit hardest by the Arab Spring or in the offensives sold as anti-terrorist campaigns. Regional heavyweights should also expect more trouble to be bestowed on them as the blueprint authored by Col. Peters materializes. The US plans do not end with hammering Iraq and Afghanistan into pieces and sending a wave of unrest across North Africa and a major portion of the Middle East. Every country to fall victim to the onslaught also finds itself plunged into the chaos of tribal and sectarian strife and, as the map unveiled by Col. Peters shows, these are the problems Israel, Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait should expect to meet with. It should be noted in the context that the Greater Middle East, serially destabilized and left in the grip of a pool of Western corporations, grows increasingly insulated from Russia which used to be an influential power in the region in the Soviet era, and, importantly in today's settings, from China.
The US agenda of struggle over the Greater Middle East evokes similarities with John Spykeman's concept of seizing Rimland, the edges of the territory of the former USSR which, if controlled by the US, could be used to isolate Russia. The world has changed since the time when the dogmas of geopolitics came into being, and currently China rather than Russia appears to be the main counterforce to the US expansion. That should explain the US interest in converting a part of the Greater Middle East into a strategic foothold casting a shadow over Central Asia .
Col. Peters' revisionist map of the Greater Middle East promises to Washington the power over the expanses interfacing in the north with the post-Soviet Transcaucasia and Central Asia, both adjacent to Russia's pipeline routes and resourceful East Siberia as well as to the energy-rich Caspian region and Uzbekistan. Part of the problem for Moscow is that under the arrangement key parts of the Russian territory would become vulnerable to attacks by mid-range weapons. In the east, the Greater Middle East reaches out via Afghanistan and Pakistan, the country which may be next on the destabilzation list, and via the US-friendly India – to China, whose vulnerabilities to mid-range armaments also increase.
In fact, the US ambitions concerning the Caucasus and East Siberia should worry China nearly as much as Russia, considering that Beijing, the top buyer of Iran's oil (supplying 20% of domestic demand for fuel with the help of the import), risks being cut off from vital resources (Fig. 4) .
Fig. 4. Iran's oil import
Overall, the Middle East may grow into a carcass of a new Rimland, this time encircling China. The country will be confronted with the Greater Middle East foothold from the west, with Japan and Okinawa – in the east, with India, Thailand, Vietnam, and South Korea backed by US naval bases sitting on Guam and the Philippines – in the south, and with Central Asia and East Siberia, both easy for the US to occupy – in the north. The unfolding conflict over the oil and gas deposits in the proximity of the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands highlighted the strategy of blocking China's access to much-needed energy resources .
The US and NATO will have to go a long way to accomplish the objectives outlined above. As of today, the configuration Col. Peters dreams of is not there, and the new Rimland – a barrier around China akin to the one that the USSR had to deal with in the Cold War epoch – has not been built yet. It would take Washington ages to put the whole to-do list into practice step by step, but things are apparently being rushed since President Bush rolled out the anti-terrorist campaign and especially since the Arab Spring commenced.
A Touch of Fantasy
Chances are fairly slim to guess what exactly the puppeteers of the new world order or the US military planners have in mind at a particular moment. Some indications, though, may point to the design.
First, it should be realized that leadership – regional or national – will not be tolerated in the world that is in the making. Efforts will be made to have countries and territories disintegrate into formations having minimal proportions and run by chronically feuding and, as far as possible, heavily criminalized groups. Examples of the trend – the empowerment of the drug mafia led by H. Thaci in Kosovo, and of Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, the April 6 Youth Movement, or Kefaya in the Greater Middle East – are plentiful.
Secondly, the theory of chaos control is going to be widely employed in military planning . Point strikes delivered to top-sensitive infrastructures will be triggering disintegrations and spontaneous regrouping of the resulting formations. The approach has been central to NATO military planning since the 1999 aggression against Yugoslavia and was put to work in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as in Libya an Syria. Strictly speaking, the Arab Spring was one big case of successful chaos control.
Thirdly, it is a part of the picture that the world economy has been plagued by the economic downturn since 2008. Europe's economy is crumbling, and the US dollar is going ever more virtual . Interestingly, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said at the October 12-13 IMF and World Bank conference that “without growth, the future of the global economy is in jeopardy, and perhaps the greatest roadblock will be the huge legacy of public debt, which now averages 110 percent in advanced economies, pretty much wartime levels” .
Fourthly, the Greater Middle East is the scene of intense regional rivalries. Some of those are duels between countries which are nuclear-armed or have strong nuclear ambitions, that is between Iran and Israel or India and Pakistan. Others are rooted in religion which was a significant factor in the Middle East's nation-forming and conflicts. The players in the field of religion are the Shia and Sunni Muslims plus the groups belonging to the Salafi brand of Islam. The contribution of religion to the political landscape has never been overlooked by Washington's strategists [2,10] who planned the US incursions into the Arab world and chose to rely on their traditional Wahhabi partners during the Arab Spring.
Iran, a regional leader with appreciable military might, a steady economy, a serious nuclear sector, impressive energy reserves, and nuclear ambitions, is a focal spot in the present-day Middle Eastern geopolitics. As the stronghold of Shia Islam in the Middle East, Iran is locked in a permanent conflict with Israel, a country aligned with the US.
Even carefully calculated “surgical” strikes on the Iranian nuclear installations would both provoke an all-out conflict in the region and cause hostilities to spill beyond it in a development bordering on World War III. Iran's response to aggression would be harsh and, no doubt, not only Israel but also all Middle Eastern countries hosting US military bases, opening their air space to NATO, or otherwise cooperating with the West would come under fire. The fighting would immediately evolve into a kind of a religious war in which the Shia Muslims will be clashing with Jews and Wahhabis. It may be that Sunni Muslims – those from Afghanistan and Pakistan – would, for the first time in history, side with the Iranian forces of the Shia Islam due to the shared hate for the US.
The interests of Russia, China, and Europe will inevitably be challenged if the conflict erupts. China and Europe would come under pressure due to the combined effects of energy supply disruptions and refugee inflow. Neither Russia nor China would be able to pretend that, from their standpoints, all outcomes of the war are equally acceptable. Either, favorably to Moscow and Beijing, the US loses the game or Iran's defeat detonates explosions in the Caucasus and Central Asia, causes Russia to cede control over East Siberia, and leaves Russia and China with their supply routes obstructed. Moreover, Russia's territory lacks the immunity to the European missile defense and China's – to possible attacks launched from the Pacific Ocean, Japan, and South Korea, plus the conduct of India, the country that would have to position itself in a conflict flaring up close to its borders, would likely turn unpredictable.
The war, if it starts, will in the long run prompt the partition of the region along the aforementioned blood borders. Those truly responsible for the global economic meltdown – the US Federal Reserve, etc – will be able to present convincing alibis while the world will be fighting over energy resources. The war across the Greater Middle East will send a tide of unrest all over Eurasia (the European governments are already taking measures in anticipation of what might happen ), creating conditions for the elimination of statehoods in Europe's powerhouses – Germany and France (for example, see ).
Sadly, the scenario does not belong to the realm of fantasy. In Israel, fear is running high to be late to destroy Iran's nuclear program before Tehran acquires the nuclear capability. Obama needs to look muscular in foreign affairs to keep his constituency and sponsors happy. October, 2012 can therefore be the time when the war breaks out . In the meantime, the global elite is thinking how to get rid of much of the global population and to completely privatize the planet, a huge war being instrumental in both regards .
As for the US, it is not an exception from the rule prohibiting leadership in today's world. The country drifts in the same direction as others, with provoked natural disasters and genocide against at least 40% of the population going to devastate the US like a major war .