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THEORIES 3. US INTEREST IN MIDDLE EAST

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THEORIES OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

 

 

   TOPIC: US RUSSIA INTEREST IN MIDDLE
EAST

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   SUBMITTED TO: MADAM SADIA
RAFIQUE

   SUBMITTED BY: YADULLAH

   ROLL NO: 474-BH-PS-15

   SEMESTER: 5TH

   DATE OF SUBMISSION: 18 DEC,
2017

 

 

 

 

DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, GC
UNIVERSITY LAHORE

 

CONTENTS

 

1.   
INTRODUCTION

2.   
HISTORICAL
PERSPECTIVE

3.   
US INTEREST
IN MIDDLE EAST

                                                            
i.     
U.S OBJECTIVES IN SYRIA

                                                          
ii.     
YEMEN CRESIS

4.   
RUSSIAN
INTEREST IN MIDDLE EAST

                                                            
i.     
RUSSIAN INTERVENTION IN SYRIA

                                                          
ii.     
MIDDLE EAST USES RUSSIA AS AN ALTERNATIVE

                                                       
iii.     
RUSSIA’S STRETEGY TO MIDDLE EAST

5.   
CONFLICT OF
INTEREST

                                                               
i.           
SYRIA

                                                             
ii.           
YEMEN

6.   
CONCLUSION

7.   
BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

 

Introduction

 

The United States and Russia have
both are in conflict position in Middle East. Russia for its part is primarily
concerned with security in the region and feared terrorism to reach his
boarders. Though Russia sees itself as a serious player in the Middle East but
has not the intention as was once in the region of considerable influence. U.s
has diverse interest in Middle East. Historically and ideologically us has
concerns about security of Israel which in turn benefited us in making policies
toward Iran. Energy and commerce are the motives which drive U.S foreign policy
toward the Gulf States. Moreover, U.S has commitment to defeat terrorism in Middle
East.

            United
States has been forced to remain involve in Iraq and Afghanistan due to the
rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).united states and Russia has
on same point that emergence of terrorism ISIS is the serious threat to the
region. Both the powers have cooperation to defeat terrorist in the region.
However, the war in Syria has brought to light major policy differences: Russian
intervention has motive to back Assad government which US wants to topple to
maintain peace in the region, which is viewed as a source of further chaos in
the Middle East.

 

 

 

HISTORICAL
PERSPECTIVE

 

MIDDLE
East has particular importance due to its geography and the people inhibited
this area. This area is rich of natural resources particularly oil. Therefore
it has been the centre of focus for the major expansionist powers of the era.
This area has been the centre of imperial powers in the 2nd half of
20th century and in 21st century the most vulnerable
region for conflicts.

             Taking the perspective of Samuel P Huntington
of his thesis – The Clash of Civilizations – this comprises main states of
Islamic civilization. West has thread from Islamic civilization in
particular.  Therefore, west interfere in
Middle East. Another factor of interference of west in Middle East is the
export of oil and most importantly the price of oil.

             On the other hand Russia has interest in
middle from the times because of geo strategy. During both the world wars
Russia (then USSR) has strived for its expansion and influence over the regions
of middle. In the current scenarios Russian has been playing very important
role in the balancing the power and influence of America and western world in
middle east and Yemen. 

 

 

 

U.S INTEREST IN MIDDLE EAST

In the era of cold war,
US had quite stable interest in Middle East. Three major interests were
perusing by the Middle Eastern policy of United States: 

       
i.           
To keep sustain the oil flow, its
quantity and most importantly its price.

      ii.           
The protection of Israel security  which according to us the only democracy in
the region

    iii.           
To keep aloof Russia from the region and
to lessen its influence.

The protection
of Israel was the moral imperative of west particularly America during cold war1.
The task would be made diplomatically rather than forcefully because that would
strengthen Arab Russia relation. On the other side Iran want to make obstacle
for Israel.  The
United States has an interest in US Israel policies to weaken Iran.

            Therefore
previously Russia can be seen as substituted by Iran in the region. Iran
proffers no global ideology, but rather produces its own antibodies in the Arab
and wider Sunni worlds.2 Israel will not be surrounded by Iran
because it has its own allies in Arab world. Iran lacks nuclear power and
haven’t military power as Russia has. So it is difficult for the hypothesis of
substitution and Russia has escape from the region Iran cannot. Iran has strong
conflict with Israel consistently aiding and backed by US. USA on the other
hand considers Iran as threat to become region’s hegemonic power.

             After 9/11 U.S involvement increased and more
neared with its Arab allies like Egypt and Jordon and also focused on adverse
regime in Libya and Yemen. In 2003 us invaded Iraq and become strong actor in
the region till 2011 by its presence. After that Arab spring aroused and
different Middle Eastern countries are came under civil war most likely Syria. Obama
administration kept away from the more intervention in the region but then came
ISIS and it began air strike in the region. ‘Today’s posited US interests in
the Middle East can be broken down into five areas: ensuring the free flow of
oil; preventing nuclear proliferation; fighting terrorism; maintaining the
security of Israel; and promoting democratization’3

 

     i.           
U.S
OBJECTIVES IN SYRIA

U.S and Russia
both have interest in Syria which overlaps at certain point but not completely.
Both the powers want a stable Syria but the way to achieve peace of both of
them is different. After Vietnam war Syria is another point where both
countries air strikes are practice in opposite interest.  Moscow strategy is to defeat ISIS to halt them
from their own boarders; they do not distinguish any group of terrorism in
Syria. U.S on the other hand alienates some groups from others as moderate. Moscow
argues that supporting Assad is the only way to eliminate terrorists from the
region. Washington and its allies support to fight Assad and anti Assad
terrorists side by side. Moscow is disappointed in the post Libya situation and
the so called democratization of us of the region, therefore ageists the regime
change in Syria.

The main objective
of US in Syria are;

1.      The primary goal
is to defeat isis as the most crucial threat to the region.

2.      The other goal is
to end civil war which will result in the ceasing of human killing in large in
the region.

3.      The third goal of
Washington and its European allies is to change regime as Assad is responsible
for civil war and in his absence negotiation within major actors would be
possible.

4.      Finally us wants
to see Syria as unified not as portioned country and it would be possible in
the toppling the government of Assad.

 

 ii.           
YEMEN CRISES

Washington is assisting intelligence support to Saudi led coalition against Yemen
freedom fighter and will increase weapons supply, Deputy Secretary of State Tony
Blinken said in the Saudi capital Riyadh. After talks with the Saudi officials,
Blinken told reporters that Saudi Arabia was sending a “strong message to
the Houtis and their allies that they cannot overrun Yemen by force. As part of
that effort, we have expedited weapons deliveries, we have increased our
intelligence sharing, and we have established a joint coordination planning
cell in the Saudi operation centre.4”

            While the House of Saudi has long
considered Yemen a subordinate province of some sorts and as a part of Riyadh’s
sphere of influence, the US wants to make sure that it could control the Bab
Al-Mandeb, the Gulf of Aden, and the Socotra Islands, argues Mahdi Darius
Nazemroaya5.

 

RUSSIAN INTEREST IN MIDDLE EAST

The main interest
of Russian in Middle East in current scenario are;  

1.      To achieve
influence in the region so that us give them complete concession and gain
opportunity of negotiation in good terms

2.      To reveal its
public that Russia has still power to show in other region.

 

Russian
involvement in Syria is to assist Assad government .the policy of Moscow is to
counter the Sunni insurgent to sustain the Assad government which has the
strategic importance for Moscow. Moscow policy in the region is to remain close
to all the players in the region. ‘Russia, however, is pursuing this strategy
not because it wants to be a major leader in the Middle East, but because it
wants to accumulate as much influence as possible’6.

Russia
main interest is in Ukraine but in Syria it only increasing its interest to
counter the influence of us and also make another influential hurdle to us.
Russia has gain considerable influence in the region for which us has deep
concern.

            Moscow considered Arab spring a fear
for itself. In the uprising of Syrian civil war Russia wanted to draw fine line
where its interest lies in Middle East particularly in Syria. Russia has
policies in this area;

1. Russia
will have terms with all parties other than Islamic militants.

2. Russia
has pragmatic policy in the region, observers see it as opportunism. Russia
wants to approach to the global oil price through its policies in the Middle
East.

             Russia argues that west is responsible for the
chaotic situations of Middle East. The sovereign states should not intervene
the way west did in Middle Eastern countries.

 

iii.           
RUSSIAN INTERVENTION IN SYRIA

            Russian first intervention in the
region was the launching of air strike to support Assad regime. Russia
supported Assad regime from collapse by striking anti Assad factions in Aleppo.
That aid was directly at major extent was the aid of Iran- the state in the
region want hegemonic control in the area and the major anti American actor in Middle
East.

            Russia played a key role in
tripartite agreement between Iran and turkey. Historically and politically
Russia and Iran relation are seen as sceptical. Russia supported Saddam Hussain
in the Iran Iraq war. Russia was backed the international economic sanctions
over Iran. Russia and Iran were disagreed over Russian operation in Syria. Iran
didn’t agree on Russian proposal of using Iranian bases.

            Moscow wants to have relations with
nearly all the state and non state actors in Middle East. Russia and Saudi
Arabia signed a deal in Dec 2016 to lower oil production despite Saudis
antagonistic policies with Iran regarding Syrian affairs. Besides Russia have
relations with Israel and Gulf States. Moscow wants to keep relations with both
Iran and Israel but Russian c-300 aircraft missiles to Iran were halted by
Israel pressure.

 

 

 

 

  iv.           
MIDDLE EAST USES
RUSSIA AS AN ALTERNATIVE

Middle Eastern
countries use Russia as an alternative to United States that they have an
effective alternative. Economic and military agreements of Middle Eastern
states with Moscow are the revealing sign to America. For example Cairo signed
$3.5 billion armed deal with Moscow after US military aid was halted in the
wake of President Mohammad Mursi ousting by Egyptian military7. Following this deal Russian and Egyptian
paratrooper participated in oct 2016 at military exercise in Egypt.

 

   
v.           
RUSSIA’S MIDDLE EAST STRATEGY

Russia’s actions
in the Middle East since 2000 have been a search for relevance, and the
aftermath of the Arab Spring has provided an opening for Russia to forcibly
find relevance in the region. Russia is no longer content with playing a
nominal role in the region. It wants to assert itself as a power and believes
it must have the capacity and political will to exercise influence beyond its
own neighbourhood. Moscow has found a narrative by setting itself

up as a force for
traditional values, standing against unbridled change. Putin’s speech to the
70th UN General Assembly played on this narrative, appealing to respect for
state sovereignty and non-intervention as a minimal platform on which nations
could work together. Putin framed this approach as an alternative to reckless
Western interventionism. To realize this approach, Russia offered unburdened
economic and business deals without requiring the kinds of political reforms
advocated, or sometimes demanded, by the United States and other Western
states. Moscow perceives Western involvement in the Middle East to have reached
a plateau; the West is exhausted by inconclusive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
and unwilling to decisively intervene militarily in Syria, despite U.S. calls
for Assad to leave power. In this view, the West’s risk-averse policies will
make little meaningful difference in the Middle East. These policies, coupled
with Middle Eastern perception of a less–regionally assertive United States,
give Russia a further opening into the Middle East. Russia seeks to be able to
effectively influence and shape outcomes, but a lack of means limits what it
can achieve; the Middle

Eastern
countries have the agency to shape and determine outcomes. For example, Russian
sales of sophisticated air defence weapons systems to Iran and Syria influence
and complicate Western policy options but fall short of being able to force
particular outcomes. Instead of fully determining events, Moscow can raise the
cost to the West of pursuing policy options that conflict with Moscow’s wishes.

 

CONFLICTS OF INTERESTS

Russia has not
been involved in the main causes of Arab spring. Russia remained away from the
disastrous uprising of Arab countries. But Russian came into the ground after
Syrian civil war in 2015. Kurdistan is another issue that made Russia to
interfere in the matter. United States with its ally in the region – Saudi
Arabia – is the main actor which has been playing role in the whole region.
Several interests which have been discussed in the paper, united states is
pursuing its future approach middle east. Iran is major U.S anti force in the
region. USA wants to reduce the influence of Iran in the region which is
against the interest of United States both economically and strategically for
Israel. 

 

 

 

 

vi.           
SYRIA

U.S has been
supporting Syrian democratic forces (SDF) against Assad regime in Syria. Assad
has been supported by Iranian government. But the important force which makes Assad
s government remain in its position is the intervention of Russian support of Assad’s
regime. On Tuesday, September 12, Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu sat
with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in Damascus8. According to
Russian embassy social-media posts they discussed joint cooperation against
Islamic State. Moscow played important role in the internal conflict of Syria
supporting Assad regime.

            Jonathan Spyer, director of the
Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs at the Interdisciplinary
Center Herzliya says the current situation raises important questions
especially about Iranian support for the Syrian regime. “We know what the
Syrian regime is doing, trying to defeat ISIS and re-assert regime control.
Control of the crossing and the road helps Iran achieve its goal of linking the
Shia militias it backs in Iraq with Hezbollah in Lebanon via its Damascus ally.
We know what the Iranians want, what do the SDF and the Americans want, it is
less clear . . . there is no overarching U.S. strategy other than ISIS needing
to be destroyed9″. The anti force
iran for united states has strongly backed by Russia. There comes the clash of
interest of Russia with America.

 

vii.           
YAMEN

On August 21,
2016, former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh urged
Yemen’s Houthi government to give the Russian military access to all of Yemen’s
bases, ports and airports. After this policy he praise Putin and said Russia is
the close kin of Yemen in international community. Moscow did not support
Houthi on the behalf of Saleh government but Putin had its own geopolitical
tacit in the region.

            ‘Since Saudi Arabia began its
airstrikes against Houthi targets in Yemen in March 2015, Russia has launched
an information war against Riyadh’10. Russia state
media condemned Saudi’s actions against Yemen. Russia also supports the Houtis
government in Yemen. This step of Russia reveals the Moscow efforts for
stability restoration in Middle East.

            The reluctance of Washington to
criticize Riyadh of its brutal policies against Yemenis made Moscow to sharpen
its focus on the region. Moscow is not ready to sell its arms to saleh Yemen
because it fears from the Assad like alliance with one other state.

Second,
Russia state media promote Moscow Tehran strive against the uprising of Syrian
civil war. Pro-Kremlin commentators’ efforts to discredit the Riyadh claim that
Tehran is involved in the assistance of Houtis training and arm supply. Kremlin
also stressed over the negotiation with any faction in Yemen being neutral. Yemen
is another Middle Eastern area where Moscow and Washington has conflict of
interest.

”The
conflict between Houti rebels and government forces in Yemen is just another
manifestation of the regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which had
earlier echoes in Syria and Iraq, say Russian observers. Meanwhile, Russia and
the West have yet again found themselves on different sides of the conflict.
How likely is a new confrontation between Moscow and the United States over the
situation in Yemen”11.

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

Middle
East as has been studied in the light of conflict of major power has been
remained the centre of chaos for couple of years. Russia was not involved as a
major power in Middle East before its intervention in Syrian affairs as the
ally of Iran. Iranian government claimed that the fate of Syria and Middle
Eastern affairs regarding Syrian has been changed by Moscow intervention and
balancing the power and aiding Assad’s regime. On the other hand U.S has not strived
to make consensus with Russia against Assad government which is backed by the
major anti American actor in the region – Iran. Russia has also contradiction
in Yemen with us policies as Russia has concerns over security in the region
for their own interest. Russia has good terms with Tehran than Riyadh. Riyadh
is strongly backed by U.S which is important actor for the existence for Israeli
state.

             In this situation of conflict the area of
cooperation and consensus should be enhance by major players acting in the
region both the actor of the region and outside actors. The concept of revenge
as a cold war in Middle East should be avoided to reduce the conflict which may
lead to a larger conflict or war between major powers over the region.

            Both
the major powers along with allied forces are acting their role to achieve
their strategic objectives in Middle East. The main purpose is neither the so
called slogan of democratization nor the assistance of humanitarian terms in
the region but to gain mian strategic goals. The situation of the region are
crucial for future conflicts among major actors involved in Middle East,

 

 

           

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

 

1.   Adam
Gorfinkle, ” Refining us interest in Middle East”.

2.     Daniel
Byman and Sara Bjerg Moller , ”The United States and the Middle East: Interests,
Risks, and Costs”.

3.   Abdus Sattar Ghazali,
”The US Geostrategic
Objectives behind the War in Yemen”.

4.     Xander Snyder, ”What Russia’s Middle East strategy is really about”, ‘RISKHEDGE’.

5.    
James Sladden, Becca Wasser, Ben Connable and Sarah Grand-Clement,
”Russian Strategy in the Middle East”.

6.    
Will America and Russia Change the Political Dynamics in the Middle
East?, REAL CLEAR WORLD.

7.    
Samuel Ramani,
”Why Putin is Keeping a Close Eye on Yemen”, THE WORLD POST – HUFFPOST.

8.    
NIKOLAY SURKOV, ”Yemen: Yet another friction point in the Russia-West
relationship”?, ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA

9.    
ANDREW EXUM,What’s Really at Stake for America in Yemen’s Conflict,
”THE ATLANTIC”

1
Adam Gorfinkle, ” Refining us interest in Middle East”, p3.

 

2Adam Gorfinkle, ” Refining us
interest in Middle East”, p5.

3 Daniel Byman and Sara Bjerg
Moller , ”The United States and the Middle East: Interests, Risks, and
Costs”, p1.

4 Abdus Sattar Ghazali, ”The US Geostrategic Objectives
behind the War in Yemen”, current.org.

5  Abdus Sattar Ghazali, ”The US Geostrategic Objectives
behind the War in Yemen”, current.org.

6  Xander Snyder, ”What Russia’s Middle East strategy is
really about”, ‘RiskHedge’,
Oct.
16, 2017.

7
James Sladden, Becca Wasser, Ben Connable and Sarah Grand-Clement, ”Russian
Strategy in the Middle East”

8 Will America and Russia Change the Political Dynamics in
the Middle East?,REAL CLEAR WORLD

 

9 Abid.

 

 

10  Samuel Ramani, ”Why Putin is Keeping a Close Eye on Yemen”, THE
WORLD POST –  HUFFPOST.

11  NIKOLAY SURKOV, ”Yemen: Yet another friction point in the Russia-West
relationship”?, ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA, APR 21, 2015.

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