Syria is shaping a New World Order
October 23, 2015 | 5:41 PM
by Richard J. C. Galustian

Back in 1992, political scientist Samuel P. Huntington advanced the theory of "The Clash of Civilisations". He posited that the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world would be cultural and religious identity. Now, in the age of IS, it seems Huntington was right.

However, as we have seen in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and even in Ukraine, the reality is not binary. While the enemy is mostly clearly identifiable, the old adage 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' is not so easy to apply. There are many conflicting views as to 'The Rebels' in these countries; who created them, their funding patterns, who is arming them. Which local actors are independent and which are proxies of other powers.

In these cases where the state is facing distinct rebel groups, allegiances are frequently changing. This makes the 'frenemy' game very difficult to play. Our western leaders so far seem to lack the intellectual agility to manage their part. It could be that Putin is the only leader with the will and the ability to smash IS. He certainly would have us believe that.

Russia's military engagement in Syria comes at a time when the US and EU are still scratching their heads over the question of 'who is who' that illuminates a larger reality: that the EU is largely impotent and much more importantly, that the US is essentially out of the Middle East.

America's strategic interest now lies undoubtedly in the Far East.

This leaves Iran, Russia, China, and India involved in varying degrees; These are the new important MENA players.

In addition, watch the French. Paris is upping its game across North Africa, which started with France’s Mali operations, and is now firmly entrenched in bilateral, long-term relations with the Saudis and the Egyptians.

To defeat IS, we need 'boots on the ground'. As long as those boots are not American or British, what do we care? Let others wipe out IS and other extremist groups even in Libya.

Why haven't Washington and Moscow collaborated so far? For example only last week Washington rejected Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev’s proposal to visit Washington DC for discussions.

However a dramatic diplomatic opening happened this week triggered by Assad's sudden visit to Moscow causing Kerry and Lavarov to agree to meet in Vienna on Friday along with their counterparts from Turkey and Saudi Arabia to discuss the Syrian conflict together.

But there is even more interesting news lying under the surface of the current fracas: Russia is signing onto key information sharing capabilities with Israel, Turkey, and Iraq, all of whom are major American security partners. The agreements are for de-confliction purposes especially in the arena of airspace rules of engagement. Washington is being sent a message: Play ball. These talks deal with the military aspects of the parties involvement.

At the higher, political level, the tension nevertheless remains palpable. Many paranoid Washington policymakers say that they see Russia as the larger problem; With thousands of nuclear weapons and empire-like reach into Europe and the Middle East. For these narrow minded Washington bureaucrats, IS is but a nuisance –seriously-- and this neurotic thinking is reflected in the Obama Administration’s policy goofs towards Syria. To worsen such negative perceptions in DC, the American Israeli lobby is using all its powers to try and frustrate the very important policy change made by the US of a rapprochement with Iran.

Listen up America: The Cold War ended a long time ago and we must realise that dramatic changes in outdated post WWII institutions like the UN and NATO are necessary. On the NATO front, we all remember that NATO, after the Cold War, was looking for a new mission. This mission headed East and that was a strategic mistake and a provocation to the then very weak Russia. Now we are in a New World Order controlled by a single hyper power the like of which we never imagined.

Robert Gates served as Pentagon chief under both Obama & Bush, and before that was a 30-year career CIA officer who rose to head that Agency. Gates was also a Soviet expert; he knows the Russians very well. He described certain aspects of Obama's administration's actions related to MENA last week as "nuts". Gates is right: He is a former Cold War Warrior.

Clearly the defeat of IS is not only in the interests of both Russia and the US but of the wider Arab world.

In conclusion the UN and EU has failed to help to resolve any of the world's problems this century. These institutions must be rebuilt, reconstituted.

The Cold War should not be revived. Enough is enough. It’s time for a new world order involving all countries, not dictated only by America. - Special to Times of Oman

Richard Galustian is a Middle East security expert based in Libya.

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