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On the potential strategic void in the Middle East Abdullah Al-Sanawi

Simultaneously, incidents swarmed close to us and transformed us, hinting at new strategic situations in the Middle East.
Declared and undeclared contacts between conflicting regional parties to discover the positions of feet on a moving land, and vigorous attempts to reduce tensions for fear of what might happen tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow.
The entire region is on alert, in anticipation of an approaching withdrawal of US forces from Iraq.
The American withdrawal from Afghanistan was not an isolated event from the calculations of the region in which we live, with chronic crises and wars raging in its flanks that exhausted its countries with extreme cruelty.
According to the same American strategic view, which justified the withdrawal from Afghanistan, a similar withdrawal is expected from Iraq, which was occupied and destroyed immediately after Afghanistan, following the September 11 incident exactly twenty years ago.
There is almost a consensus within the American establishment on withdrawing American forces from Afghanistan and the Arab Mashreq and reducing the military presence in the Gulf, which must bear the costs of protecting it – as former President Donald Trump used to say.
This is a strategic line that will take its course regardless of who is sitting in the White House, with the intent of focusing attention on the American interior, which is wracked with its political and ethnic conflicts, and turning to a greater extent on the Asian East, where the struggle over the future is with China.
The objection in the Afghan case was not so much on principle as on the haphazard manner in which the withdrawal took place, which severely undermined the prestige of the United States.
Nor was the withdrawal of US forces stationed in Syria unlikely during the Trump era. He adopted and announced the withdrawal option, but he postponed it for a later time under pressure from the military and intelligence institutions for fear of possible damage to allies. Then he justified its survival by seizing Syrian oil, without shame.
The premises and evidence of the US withdrawal from Iraq are present, security and political arrangements paving the way, and an internal general atmosphere that demands and insists on that withdrawal, which is reluctant for fear of harming interests and allies, but it is inevitable in a perspective.
Iraq is not Afghanistan, as far as the centrality of its position in the east of the Arab world and the size of its potential roles in the region’s equations if it regains its ability for independent movement and action.
Afghanistan is an issue of a war on terrorism in Central Asia and is opposed to neighboring countries, while Iraq is an issue of an Arab world aspiring to rise again from under the rubble, and this is an existential threat to the Israeli ally.
The return of Iraq reverses the systematic destruction it suffered over twenty years by dissolving its army and institutions and attempts to divide it into three ethnic and sectarian states.
By any account, the return of Iraq will not be easy and available in this desired way once the US withdraws, as mines will be planted to detonate it from within and prevent it from regaining its role and weight as a large and influential Arab power.
One of the main challenges, which will present itself on Iraq, its neighborhood, and its world: “Who will fill the vacuum of American power?”
In the wake of the Suez War (1956), whose political and strategic consequences led to the exposure of the former French and British empires and their declining weight in the post-World War II equations, the American rising power presented itself as an alternative called “filling the void.”
Egypt, the newly independent state, confronted the policies of filling the void with military alliances such as the “Baghdad Pact”, and succeeded in bringing it down by force of Arab popular action, which surrounded the leadership of Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Conditions are now different, neither are we in the time of national liberation movements, nor will the American empire ever leave the region, but its weights are in a steady decline that almost negates the status of a great power. China, in turn, is a potential core player without being able to look forward to any roles similar to what it has enjoyed The United States after World War II, and the ambitious Russia cannot gain any additional weight given its economic conditions, nor can the European Union present itself as an alternative or semi-alternative.
All international parties will quarrel over the acquisition of larger areas without anyone being able to dominate, or inherit the former, or almost former, American role!
Who fills the strategic void then?
The worst possible answer: “Israel is motivated” by a greater alliance with the “NATO” alliance and a broader movement to extend its recognition from new Arab countries under the pretext of protecting it and the modern technical expertise it may provide.
In other words, an intended strategy: the Arab world’s adaptation to the requirements of its leadership without any settlement of the Palestinian issue according to international references, free normalization and peace without land, and an escalation of confrontation in return with Iran as a new “virtual enemy” that justifies an alliance with it!
If the Vienna negotiations lead to the revival of the nuclear agreement, all calculations will differ, and will result in regional revolutions whereby the Syrian and Yemeni crises will be settled by consensus among the regional players, and this is exactly what Israel is opposed to, seeking to prevent any revival of the nuclear agreement.
Amid the complexities of the region, the Israeli aspiration to fill the void is pure illusion.
The question of the void and its challenges presented itself indirectly to the “Baghdad Conference for Cooperation and Partnership”.
The conference summarized the new general atmosphere in the region and the atmosphere of anticipation for what might happen tomorrow.
The value of the conference in the decisions it issued was not as much as the general atmosphere that prevailed, as the contradictions of the whole region were gathered at one table. Its interventions were dominated by the spirit of reconciliation and willingness to different degrees to turn the page of differences without entering into any mined files for fear of spoiling the conference with its declared messages – support and support for Iraq, And the undeclared – exploring opportunities for re-positioning in anticipation of what might happen upon the US withdrawal from Iraq.
The presence of French President Manuel Macron at the conference was indicative of a Western, necessarily American, tendency to reduce the level of intra-regional conflicts between supposed allies to control the general trends after the American withdrawal from Iraq, for fear that interactions would escape and their results would flow in opposite directions.
Some of the approaches that took place on the sidelines of the conference are expected and some are surprising.
What is expected is the indications contained in the Saudi and Iranian discourses of a spirit that responds to the reasons for reconciliation without going to the end of the line. The dialogue between the two countries is ongoing in the Sultanate of Oman, and the Iraqi prime minister has publicly revealed what was known in the diplomatic and media scenes of Baghdad’s old role in building bridges and organizing meetings. between them.
It is expected that a new Egyptian-Turkish exploratory tour will be announced in Ankara within a week, in preparation for taking a radical step in the level of the relationship between the two countries, the like of which has not happened with the Iranians despite the undeclared contacts.
Surprisingly, the meetings between the Emiratis and the Qataris accelerated, perhaps in an attempt by the two parties not to harm one another in future interactions.
In one way or another, a kind of intersection occurred between the interests of the countries of the region in reducing tensions and the interests of the West in controlling what might happen after the American withdrawal.
Under some understanding, Syria and Lebanon were excluded from attending the conference. This was an intentional measure, on the pretext that their presence might benefit Iran, while Iran itself was represented in the conference by its new foreign minister, “Hossein Amir Abdollahian,” as if the new game was intended to reduce its roles without canceling it.
The tragedy – here – is that Syria is an essential country in the Arab Mashreq, and its exclusion is a hostile act that deprives the conference of the comprehensiveness of the idea of ​​regional reconciliation.
The absence of Lebanon is another hostile act against an Arab country that is subjected to a worsening economic, social and political plight that is almost pushing it to disintegrate without finding a collective support from its surroundings.
This was a reason for protest by many Arab elites, without underestimating the importance of moving forward with policies to reduce tension in the afflicted region.