2 months ago

Is a new world order emerging?

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The news took every country by storm, so improbable it seemed so long, until now that is. Countries most shaken by disbelief are, of course, America and Israel. The sudden development in geo-politics has not only caught them unawares, it has upended their grand design for the Middle-East. The arch foes, Saudi Arabia and Iran, have not only agreed to bury their hatchets but also have agreed to co-operate in security matters, among other areas. This is the worst nightmare scenario that America and Israel could think of or was beyond their wildest imagination. They are so stunned that no formal reaction has been made public as yet, except a terse statement from the United States (US) State Department that they were kept informed, which is very unlikely given the utmost secrecy in which the behind the scene negotiations took place. As if the rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Israel was not enough of a shock for America, the news that the negotiation for normalisation of relations between the two major players in middle-east geo-politics was brokered by China has been more than adding salt to injury. It has been a downright slap in the face of America bent on of late, pushing China to a corner in the international arena to thwart its spectacular rise in the league of superpowers.  The development has been so far reaching in its potential consequences that western media, particularly online ones like BBC and CNN, has been uncharacteristically quiet in making comments about the impact of the peace settlement in the perennial hotspot in contemporary world. It is as if they are pondering what to make of this Black Swan that was unforeseen and pregnant with possibilities. Perhaps they are waiting for the official line coming from Washington and Jerusalem to tune their voice accordingly. For the time being western media and political capitals are pretending to think that the news is about a non-event or something of no significance and therefore inconsequential. But anyone with a modicum of commonsense can see that it is anything but. The reasons why this is momentous and strategically consequential are discussed below.

The lynchpin of American foreign policy in the middle-east, since the discovery of massive oil reserves in the desert kingdom, has been to keep it dependent within the American sphere of influence. More recently, the foreign policy strategy has been to keep Saudi Arabia and its allies in the Gulf aligned with America and arrayed against Iran, America's arch foe in the middle-east since 1979. A second  motivation has been to prod Gulf countries to forge a friendly and co-operative relationship with Israel, paving the path for Saudi Arabia to follow in their footsteps without feeling queasy. In accordance with the game plan scripted by America, Saudi Arabia has been pitted against Iran through proxy wars in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon which are continuing intermittently, with a fragile truce in Yemen at present. The market for American arms and ammunitions in these battle grounds has thrived at the cost of millions of civilians displaced who have been forced to  live in sub- human conditions in makeshift refugee tents. This is besides the hundreds of thousands killed and maimed in the wars. Both for the maintenance of geo-political interests of America in the middle-east and to help its defence industries, the civil wars in which Saudi Arabia is embroiled have been kept simmering invoking the threat of nuclear weapons if Iran comes to posses these. America has tried to mobilise Gulf countries, led by Saudi Arabia, in a security alliance, duly supported with arms, ammunitions and sanctions against Iran. Saudi Arabia, traditionally in thrall to America, has played along this line choreographed for it by its protector and benefactor. The goal of not only isolating Iran but also being confronted by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries was being met 'swimmingly', to use a street lingo, by this cunning policy of deception and scare.

American foreign policy has of late a more pressing goal to achieve viz to isolate China and to make it look like a pariah state in the world, middle-east included. In pursuit of this policy  it  has been able to wean away European countries from the close economic relations that many within European Union were forging,  particularly for  physical infrastructures (roads & ports) and digital  ones (5G). It has got China in its cross-hair for its claim over Taiwan as a ' breakaway island' and growing dominance in the digital domain. Unable to tolerate the idea of China emerging as the superpower replacing America's traditional role, America has opposed China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Asia, Africa and Europe, touting the growing Chinese role as a security threat to other countries. In pursuit of its policy of containment, America has succeeded in forging a security alliance with Australia, Japan, Korea and India under the rubric QUAD. As if that is not enough of a strategic encirclement against China, America has decided to give a nuclear powered submarine to Australia, in concert with the United Kingdom (UK). To give further teeth to this ramped up defence strategy and formalise it, a new alliance called AUKUS (Australia, UK and USA) has been made recently, following QUAD, to further augment Australia's defence capability. A meeting was held in San Diego, California in the third week of this month, hosted by America for the UK and Australian prime ministers, even before the ink used in signing the peace settlement between Saudi Arabia and Iran has dried. Rishi Sunak, the neophyte British prime minister, told pressmen accompanying him, during the stopover in Washington international airport, en route San Diego, that China was a threat to global peace and stability and hence the new defence alliance. He also said, by way of further justification as quoted by CNN in real time, that China was getting increasingly authoritarian at home and assertive abroad. It was a ridiculous thing to say because in a one party system, as China is, authoritarianism cannot be a surprise and being assertive in international affairs naturally comes with gaining in   economic power, which China has achieved. It is obvious that the British prime minister was merely echoing what the ventriloquist behind him, the American President, was prompting him to say.

America's attempt to scare away Japan and Korea from dependence on Chinese semi-conductor supply chain under Chip-4 alliance, however, has not been as successful as the defence alliances, yet. America's all allies do not agree on every measure proposed against China, particularly in economic matters, keeping their national interests in view.

The overarching goal of America's foreign policy of late has been to paint China as an aggressive power posing threat to global peace. The revelation of China as a honest broker in the peace settlement in middle-east begins to erode America's concerted efforts at demonising China in the eyes of countries not beholden to it or countries that are trying to exercise their own judgement in global issues. It appears that there has been a backlash against America's policy of arm twisting and blackmailing countries, particularly in its attempt to line them up behind it against Russia after the Ukraine war. The voting records on the Ukraine war in the Security Council and the General Assembly of the UN in Ukraine war  bear testimony  to that.

That China has been the only country (apart from a half-hearted overture from Turkey) to propose a peace settlement in Ukraine war on the basis of 11 points proposed for Russia and Ukraine, has further strengthened its image as an apostle of peace rather than an aggressive and belligerent country, as America would like it to be seen by other countries. Of course, America will leave no stone unturned to undo the peace initiative made by China in the middle- east and the one proposed to end the war in Ukraine. Peace, either in Europe or in the middle-east, does not serve America's geo-political and economic interests. After the second world war, it has behind all the wars and armed conflicts and instances of regime change in different parts of the world. On the basis of this diabolic record, it has proved to be the greatest war-mongering country in the world since Nazy Germany.

The immediate result, if America does not sabotage the peace settlement reached between Saudi Arabia and Iran, will be normalisation of relations with Iran by all Arab countries and perhaps a united policy on Palestine, insisting on implementation of the internationally agreed two-state policy. Israel's policy of divide and rule the Arab countries and go on killing Palestinians with impunity will be over soon. The much brandished threat of attacking and destroying Iran's nuclear facilities will have to be abandoned as Iran, back into to the fold of the Arab world, will have friends to support it. As regards China, far from considering it as a country bent on aggrandisement and domineering, many countries will consider it as a country of peace and goodwill.

The bigger picture that  emerges from the peace initiatives of China and the normalisation  of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran is the likelihood of a new world order replacing the present chaotic  and  fluid one. The emerging new world order will be bi-polar with America,  Europe, Japan, Australia, Israel and South Korea on one side and  Russia, China, Iran, Cuba and North Korea on the other. India, Bangladesh and other countries in Asia, Africa, Middle-east and Latin America will be largely non-aligned, voting for and against the two blocs on different issues as their national interest dictate. The emergence of a new bi-polar world does not mean that it will be a reprise of the pre-1991 one because the divide between the two will not be based on ideological grounds (capitalism versus communism) but on perceived security and economic interests. A corollary to this new reality will be creation and establishment of two parallel systems of financial institutions and procedures for trade and development. The non-aligned countries will be able to take part in both, reaping the best of two worlds. But the bi-polar world will not be free from occasional armed conflicts and tensions. The arms race will go on unabated, perhaps with renewed vigour propelled by new technologies.

The ideal world order, one promised by the end of cold war in 1991 when Soviet bloc imploded, was one world without poles and perhaps boundaries. Had America and Europe cherished peace and co- operation among countries in one world, the drum beats of war would have been silenced and guns would have been turned into ploughshares, as visualised by the starry-eyed. But the dogs of war and merchants of death and destruction called the shots in the corridor of power in America and western Europe and the present world has been remade in their image.

For the peace loving people in the world the only legacy left by the old world is the elegiac refrain: 'O, when will they ever learn?'

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