"Shiite arc" - the new reality in the Middle East?

Vladimir Alekseev,
Especially for Iran.ru

08 january 2014

Current standoff Sunnis and Shiites was largely provoked implementation of the American concept of a "Greater Middle East" or, in other words, the democratization of the Middle East and North Africa (BMENA), by trying to replace the Arab world decrepit and corrupt regimes or polusvetskogo plan secular democracy Western type. Leading role at the "revolutions" in the Arab world was assigned to Saudi Arabia, as the richest country in the region where the power in general are Wahhabis and Salafis, which even can be attributed to the Sunnis is very conditional. True, it is not counted in Washington until the end - and what to do with the conservative Arab Gulf monarchies, where there was no smell of democracy. And it was not clear how to make a difference and it does not break the fragile balance between the two main branches of Islam - Sunni and Shiism.

U.S. in their usual manner cowboys began the process of "democratization" immediately and decisively, in 2003 invaded and occupied the most vulnerable in terms of the Sunni-Shiite conflict country - Iraq. And then he failed. After Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated regime is always guided by the Western system of values, while the Iraqi Shiites, accounting for approximately two thirds of the population of the state, were the most oppressed part of the Iraqi society and traditionally focused on either Iran or the ideas of Marxism and communism, for which at the time was USSR. And after 3 years after the American "democratic" experiment in Iraq broke out full-scale war, with which Washington could not cope.Humiliating Sunnis and throwing them out of the power structures and the army, Americans own hands led to the pinnacle of power Shiite organizations and groups, and openly pro-Iranian orientation. And it was quite clear - played a role not so much stupidity American strategists as natural demographic factor. With relatively free elections, winning the one who stands for the majority. Ie Shiites. And the United States was forced in 2011 to leave the country, which by this time was already in the orbit of influence Tehran.

But this error was not enough, and then Washington, pushed Wahhabi rulers of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who feared a sharp increase in the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) for emerging alliance with Iraq in the Persian Gulf, began to escalate tensions around Iran, including using as a pretext thesis about its nuclear program. A little later came the "Arab Spring" with the collapse of the regimes in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, and the outbreak of civil war in Syria, which gradually took outlines opposition Sunni insurgents and terrorists of all stripes against the Alawite regime of Bashar Assad supported Iran, Iraqi Shiites and Hezbollah.And here, all of a sudden talking about Tehran's grand plan to create a "Shiite arc" or "Shia crescent" that is, a union of states with a predominant or numerous Shiite population against the Sunni-Wahhabi alliance, based on the United States and the West.Is this true? And that is the basis of these theories? To do this, go back 10 years ago.

The term "Shia crescent" in 2004 for the first time used the Jordanian King Abdullah II, with regard to Iraq. And in 2006, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said the historic phrase: "Shiites throughout the Middle East are more loyal to Iran than their own countries." In the same year, the King of Saudi Arabia, advisor on security issues, said that the religious duty of Saudi Arabia is to invade Iraq because of the alarming situation in this country.

Arab Media in the GCC financial injections largely supported this statement, making often completely unrealistic stories about strengthening the Shia in Iraq. They trumpeted the "Shiite wave" and "Shiite danger" of a certain "Shiite revival". These clearly exaggerated fears and statements mainly related to changes in the political situation in Iraq, and its smooth transition under Shiite control after the U.S. aggression. The first time in history an Arab country was ruled by Shiites. Regime change in Iraq has caused drastic changes both in the country and in the region as a whole. She called sectarian tensions and created an explosive situation for the entire region. But they forget the main thing - whose actions led to this? The answer lies on the surface - the action, or rather the military aggression of the United States of America! Then where is Iran? He did not invade Iraq, as did not commit aggression against its other Arab neighbors.

And another important factor. The term "Shia crescent" has caused the most heated debate also because with it now trying to explain the change in many of the regional balance of power and the growing role of Iran as the most promising and super strong regional power. "Shiite crescent" from the western borders Afghanistan to the Mediterranean coast of Lebanon and Syria, due to its favorable geographical position and the ability to rally the faithful Shiite Muslims united by religious and political views, it seems that has become the new reality in the Middle East. But it is not necessary to build a concept explaining the exorbitant strategic ambitions of Iran to expand its influence throughout the Arab and Islamic world. Another thing - the fact remains that the "Arab Spring" has served as the most objective interests of Iran, creating favorable conditions for the emergence of "Shiite crescent" that may well be a tool to strengthen Iran's influence in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. Paradoxically, but not because Iran was behind the "Arab spring", but all the same Arabian monarchy and its Western allies, especially the United States. As the saying goes: "for that fought for it and ran." Union of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon - a new geopolitical reality with the leading role of Iran, to be reckoned with both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, and Israel. And Egypt, which is not soon overcome the consequences of the whole series of coups and economic chaos.

Of course, it would be foolish to deny the fact that Iran now uses the "Arab Spring" to strengthen its influence in the Shiite regions of the Middle East. So do all the major countries in all regions. This - "real-politics." Iran - as the main Shiite state, and so is the main hub "Shiite crescent" and recognized center of attraction for religious Shiites. Despite significant differences between the Shiite communities in different countries, promoted Shiism as an ideology and as a criterion of identity that unites Shiites throughout the region and the Islamic world as a whole. Moreover, many of them for a long time suffered from authoritarian Sunni regimes, even in countries where they were the majority, such as in Iraq. In addition, the Shiites in the Arab world often tend to identify themselves primarily as Shiites, and then later the Arabs. While Sunni Arabs give up their Arab identity.

In any case, the "Shia crescent", though not yet become legally formalized political-military alliance or alliance, it has already taken into account by regional players. Not for nothing, apparently, Saudi Arabia so desperately trying to prevent the end of the conflict in Syria, fueling the Sunni-Shiite armed conflict in Iraq, in any way tends to disrupt the normalization of relations between Iran and the West. In Riyadh, deathly afraid of only one thing - strengthening the role of Iran in the world. With the increasing role of Iran significantly increased role of Shiites in the region as a whole, and this, in turn, inevitably leads to a new reality in the Middle East. A new reality is that there will be no place for Saudi Arabia in its present form and Washington, by the way, will not be able to help her in any circumstances. Kingdom, artificially created 80 years ago, the imminent collapse of at least three or four of the enclave, and the first may declare its independence of its Eastern Province, inhabited mainly by Shiites and where today produces 90% of all oil KSA. The new reality is that Bahrain will be followed by a second Arab state where the power immediately goes to the Shia. And more seriously raise the question of maintaining the monarchy in Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE. That is why Saudi Arabia is now bending over backwards to under no circumstances prevent resolution of the Iranian crisis, is doing everything possible and impossible to prevent Iranian-American and Iranian-European rapprochement. But, as if there was not, it seems that the world very quickly and inexorably goes to the new realities in the Middle East.

Despite their complete hopelessness and lack of historical perspective, Saudi Arabia, in principle, is still capable of a lot of blood to drown the region. It can assist to the current civil war in Iraq turned into a more ambitious version of the Iran-Iraq War, 1980-88., When the fight will no longer be two nations, and the two camps, divided along religious lines. And then the "Shiite crescent", or rather "the Shiite moon" can be called the region of residence of Shiites, including the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, part, whole areas of Qatar and the UAE, in which Iran, if they wish, be able to mobilize the "brothers in faith "for their own political purposes. yet he does so in an effort to act exclusively by diplomatic and political means. But aggressive Wahhabi kingdom and some other countries may well encourage him to reconsider his approach to this issue.


Apparently, "Shia arc" - a new trend, a new reality in the Middle East. And in this situation it is very important for Russia to quickly and correctly assess this new factor in the region and properly respond to it. Apparently, the unique partnership with the "troika" Shiite arc ensure Russia's interests in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf is much more efficient than the search for new forms of interaction with the type of Egypt, which is needed now from Moscow only loans and other assistance. Put them on a large makes no sense, because, in essence, they have been and remain pro-Western or same power in them come "Muslim Brotherhood" or other Islamist groups. There would also be futile attempts to get something in financial and economic terms and from the GCC countries. Arabian monarchy, especially Wahhabi Saudi Arabia and Qatar, in its ideology deeply hostile to Russia, and their corrupt elite is directly tied to the U.S. and the West in general. Moreover, they tend to support radical Islamist movements in the territory of the Russian Federation up to direct assistance Wahhabi-Salafi groups and terrorists of all stripes.Then, as the basis for establishing a closer partnership with the Shiite crescent already have a long-standing friendly relations in all areas with each of the "troika" - Syria, Iraq and Iran. And, making a bet on this alliance, Russia has all chances to return to the region, scruffy "Arab revolutions", with new, more solid positions.

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