In whatever way it is seen, it has to be recognized that the Middle East is the most complex lighter than the whole world. In most of the meanings and usages, the whole region of ‘Middle East’ or ‘Middle East’ extends from the Arabian Peninsula in the east to the borders of Europe in the west, from North Africa in the south to Turkey in the north. The term ‘Middle-East’ was first used by the Office of ‘British India’.
However, the United Nations prefers to see it as ‘West-Asia’. At present, both the words ‘Middle East’ and West Asia exist because both of these words are being used indiscriminately in all political circles and political conversations. The universal definition of ‘Middle East’ in the twentieth century includes seven countries in the Arab region—Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Apart from this, 6 North African countries Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, along with ten North-West countries – Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Western i.e. West Bank and Gaza Strip are also in the middle. Belongs to the East. The entire population of the Middle East is 6% of the world’s population.
Roots of Strategic Complexity
Firstly, there is ample reserves of oil and natural gases in the region of ‘Middle East’. This fact is well established in the 20th century. Almost all the developing and developed countries are making full use of this well-known natural resource.
BP Statistical Review of World Energy; As of 2019, the Middle East region has 836 thousand million barrels of oil reserves, which is 48.3 percent of the world’s oil availability. All the world’s leading oil-producing countries are located in this zone: Saudi Arabia holds 15 percent of all oil reserves, Iran also holds 9 percent of global oil reserves, and along with Iraq, the United Arab Emirates has global reserves. Only 8 percent and 7.9 percent of the oil reserves are available respectively.
Thus it can be clearly said that ‘Middle East’ is the center of global oil production and supply. (NS Energy, 2019) These countries, along with other leading oil producers such as Latin America and Africa, have formed an organization of 13 member countries known as OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries). This organization was established in the month of September 1960 to ensure the smooth production and proper management of the supply and supply of global oil resources. The organization of these countries saw a phase of growth in the 1970s when oil diplomacy was at its peak.
In 1973, Arab countries threatened not to supply oil to countries that were supporting Israel in the context of the Arab-Israeli war. All developed and developing countries such as China, Japan, India and South Korea were completely dependent on the Middle East for their energy needs.
Therefore, the major forces in the region that have been largely responsible for the peace and instability are risk-averse in order to meet energy needs. After the end of World War II, the interest of American and Western powers in this area has increased because of their strict requirements for energy security. However, a better environment has been created for clean energy because change in the atmosphere is emerging as a new crisis. Still, it is a strong fact that till now fuel from oil and other fossils is not satisfying the energy requirements. Therefore, these major countries have protected their interests by yen can and thus have been interfering in the regional affairs of the Middle East. For example, in March 2021, China signed a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement’ for 25 years with Iran. India’s ‘Look West’ policy closely resembles ‘Look East’ policy which is driven by sustainable energy needs.
Another notable feature is that the Middle East has emerged as a major center for global trade and energy supply. After the 193 km Suez Canal was developed in 1859, the scope of contact of the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea was also increased. Due to this the sea distance between Europe and Eastern countries was also reduced to about 8900 km. It is worth noting that before crossing the Middle Eastern countries through this canal, it had become a major sea route between East and West. According to the report of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT: 2021), New Zealand accounts for 12 percent of the global trade through the Suez Canal. In the year 2019 also, cargo ships loaded with billions of tonnes have been coming through this canal, which is more than four times the traffic capacity of the Panama Canal. Therefore, all these countries feel the need to interfere in these areas to serve their interests. This also means that about 7 percent to 10 percent of the world’s oil and up to 8 percent of liquefied natural gases can be transferred. In the year 2020, about 19000 cargo ships used this route. This means that 50 cargo ships pass through this route daily. Thus, it can be said that the Suez Canal is a convenient route for the movement of ships loaded with energy, goods, goods for consumer use, which goes through Asia and the Middle East to Europe. The Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz are other waterways that connect the Middle East and the Arabian Sea to the Indian Ocean. The Bob el Mandeb, the Gulf of Aden and the Strait of Hormuz are important points of importance for the security of the sea route.
The Gulf of Aden and the Somali coast are located on a somewhat low-lying coast and are severely plagued by ‘piracy’ problems. Along with China and India, special superpowers deployed naval forces on these routes so that the security of these sea routes could be ensured. The importance of transport on the Middle East routes has attracted the attention of almost all the superpowers. In 1956, when Egypt drew the attention of the Suez Canal, it culminated in the ‘Arab-Israeli War’ in which Israel and France aggressively attacked Egypt with the combined forces of the United Kingdom. . America’s special military bases are located in Bahrain so that their interests in the Middle East can be promoted in a better way. Recently – such an incident has taken the form of ‘globally worrying topic’. This happened when a ship named ‘Ever Given’ was stopped in 2021 and the entire sea route was blocked for a month.
Third, it is also a feature of the Middle East. It has been said that in today’s environment and times, it also has religious and cultural utility. It is also making its mark as a major place for all three religions – Islam, Judism and Christianity. Jerusalem is a very holy place. This was also the birth of Judaism and Christianity. The Muslim community also sees Jerusalem as a holy place because they also believe that it is here that Muhammad made his last journey from the Al-Aqsa Mosque to reach heaven.
The way religious resistance in the Middle East posed three inter-related challenges, the first being that politico-religious conflicts between Jews and Muslims began to take the form of the ‘Arab-Israeli War’. It started from then on which in 1948 an independent country named Israel was declared, which was claimed by the Palestinians and who also had the support of Arab countries. Here Israel was supported by forces like America and Europe. The outcome was before us in the form of the Israel-Arab war. A recent military blockade appeared in May 2021 when Israel attacked Hamas militants in Gaza as Israel was also attacked with rockets. Despite all the regional and world-class efforts, the tension between Arab-Israeli remained intact as tension and mistrust between the two sides persisted.
The second challenge was that internal dissatisfaction with emerging differences between Shia and Sunni communities led to competition and rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia. These two arch rivals had come face to face so much that mutual understanding towards each other had disappeared. Iran possessed nuclear weapons and in many ways the organization of Shia extremists was nurtured. It was supporting all apparently Shia factions (Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and Houdis in Yemen), causing difficulties for Saudi Arabia and raising questions about supremacy in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia had the blessings of America along with Arab allies. The rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran is a topic of common discussion in the circles of the Middle East and this news came into the limelight only when Islam emerged in 1979.
Third, the rise of Islamic extremism and terrorism in the Middle East led to a pastime of dragging religion into politics. The delicate situation in Palestine and Gaza, the civil war in Syria, the political turmoil in Iraq and the ongoing civil war in Yemen created an environment of religious extremism in these circles. In 2014, a new Islamic group was born, which revealed a new face of terrorism, although the situation was still under control due to the presence of the US military. Russia had deployed its army to ensure that Assad’s regime in Syria would receive open support from Russia. This complicates the situation even more. Went. This complication became even more so because both the US and Saudi Arabia wanted Assad’s regime in Syria to be changed. But Russia’s kindness remained intact and Assad remained in power. The short argument emerges that the Middle East is characterized by its abundant oil resources, its strategic trade routes and religious infrastructure, which clearly shows that the Middle East region is full of very complex strategic trends, which It has been active and dynamic since World War I and is expedient and relevant even in the post-cold war period.
Contemporary strategic complexities of the Middle East have emerged not only from the Palestinian issue, but also from the competition between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Apart from this, the involvement of America, Russia and China in these regional matters is also responsible for this. A brief description of these issues is given below-
Palestine problem The problem of Palestine in the Middle East is also a very complex issue. This problem has persisted in the present day since 1948, when the Jews established the State of Israel with the help of Western powers. This country was also done in the local territory of the Palestinians. But the Palestinians objected to this and tried to assert their natural right on it. Jews also claim their rights. However, these communities were scattered in different parts of the world because the conditions were not favorable for them. The reality is that what we know as Israel or Palestine was once part of the Ottoman Empire. used to do. The Ottoman Empire was defeated in World War I and began to disintegrate. However, this area was handed over to Britain as a Palestinian. At the same time, the period of Zionist movement started and they came to Palestine from all different parts of the world and accepted it as their country. Even after the Second World War, Palestine remained in its place under the supervision of Britain. In 1948, Britain ended the existence of Palestine and established the State of Israel. This caused a sharp reaction in the Arab countries and started the Arab-Israeli War. The Palestinians left Israel. This event was named Nakba which means destruction or calamity. Israel got victory in this war, in which Western powers were especially involved.
However, during a war in 1967, Israel ‘occupied Arab territories such as the West Bank and Gaza. Apart from this, the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the Golan Peak from Syria and East Jerusalem from Jordan were also captured. Since the country of Israel came into existence in 1948, numerous Palestinians have abandoned their homes and many refugees have taken refuge in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza. In 1964, the Arab League formed the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) as an initiative, the ‘Palestinian Liberation Organization’, whose sole purpose was to liberate Palestine by military force. Yasser Arafat, who had formed the ‘Alfatah’ group in 1969, merged his organization with the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Hundreds of countries and India recognized the ‘Palestinian Liberation Organization’ as it was the only organization that legally represented the Palestinians. In 1988, the PLO formed an organization called ‘Intipada’ against Israel. After this, in the year 2000, ‘Second Intipada’ also came into existence through his efforts.
Meanwhile, the PLO gave up the path of violence and recognized Israel in 1993, which is known as ‘Oslo Accord’. This was followed by the formation of the ‘Palestine Authority’ in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In 2004, Yasser Arafat passed away, which had a direct impact on the unity of the Palestinians. In 2006, elections were held in the Palestine Authority. Hamas distanced itself from the Alfatah faction and annexed Gaza in 2007. Hamas never recognized Israel and continued on the path of violence to achieve the goal of Palestine’s independence. Hamas was backed by Iran, which occasionally engaged in armed conflict with Israel, and this made the issue of Palestine’s liberation a little more complicated. Israel also refused to give their due to the Palestinians. To resolve this issue, many efforts were made at the regional and global level, but this issue has not been resolved even after seven decades.
The Palestinians’ position was strengthened by Israel’s repeated backlash and they began to see Jerusalem as the future capital of Palestine. Israel repeatedly pleaded for protection as the encirclement of enemy countries continued around it. To resolve this issue, many efforts were made at the regional and global level, yet even after seven decades, it did not yield any result, rather it became more complicated as other regional and international powers started getting involved in it.
At first, the Palestinian issue continued to emerge as a tripartite issue. Then Iran began to supply weapons and support to both militant groups – Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Both these groups were seen as terrorist threats. They were labeled terrorists by Israel itself. On the other hand, the Arab countries did not give any recognition to these groups because they kept considering them as the backbone of Iran so that the dominance in the Middle East could increase.
Second, the US government continued to support Israel’s policies and this made matters more complicated. The influence of Jewish groups in American policy was evident and America remained silent on Israel’s side. In the year 2020, it came to the mind of the US President that the ongoing conflict between Israel and Arab countries should be ended and then the Abraham Agreement was signed. Under these agreements, a number of peace and friendship treaties were signed by Israel with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan. In this way, conditions such as its isolation and diplomatic boycott in the Arab world were eliminated.As a result, the issue of Palestine weakened. In 1970, this was a new step in the direction of America’s efforts to break the unity of Arab countries or this policy was given a new life again. It is noteworthy that the policy of mediation was adopted by the US on the Camp David Agreement between Israel and Egypt.
Under this agreement, the Sinai Peninsula was conquered. Many critics believe that the Abrahamic Agreement would lead to a solution to the Palestinian problem under two-nationalism. But the Palestinians were not compelled to compromise with their position and status. It is a fact that it is because of these agreements that the Palestinians have lost the possibility of any future agreement because they have lost their original foundation or real reason. US President Donald Trump has drawn up a plan for a new kind of peace deal so that the Palestinian problem can be solved. But this could not be accepted by the Palestinians because only the interests of Israel were taken care of in it. In short, the competition of mutual interests of regional and external forces in this problem has increased further complications.
Strategic Competition between Iran and Saudi Arabia Another strategically complex topic in the Middle East is the growing rivalry and competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran. While Iran continues to emerge as the leader of the Shia community in this region, Saudi Arabia also stands with the Sunni community. The competition between these two nations is so mild that it has absorbed all the small and big issues in itself. Since the Sunni community has a strong presence in the Middle East, it is getting a lot of support from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Kuwait and Bahrain. There have also been allegations that Iran has provided political support, training and weapons to these groups. In this way, the tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran is directly affecting the politics and problems of Syria, Yemen, Palestine, Libya and Iraq.Saudi camps are supported by the US and its allies have also extended their hands to them. It is also well known that America and its allies stand with it. Here Russia and China have also started mobilizing with Iran. Turkey has also announced to join with Iran. Thus the competition between Iran and Saudi Arabia has led not only to polarization among regional powers, but also to larger powers.
US involvement and control of Iran Iran has emerged as a major regional player in the Middle East. This country has been an ally of America for a long time. But when the Islamic Revolution started in 1979. Since then this country has turned against the policy of western countries. This country was also accused of developing many nuclear weapons and all military and economic sanctions were also imposed. After the issue was resolved, the restrictions were also lifted in July 2015. This showed an improvement in Iran’s image and paved the way for development. In July 2015, due to mutual agreement between the Western powers, the matters were resolved. So the restrictions automatically ended. This improved Iran’s regional and global image. But this situation did not last long. The newly elected President of America was strongly against any nuclear deal by Iran. The statements against slaughtering were also well known, especially on the Nanikaya Pact (2016). Apart from this, two of America’s major allies – Israel and Saudi Arabia – also strongly opposed any nuclear deal by Isan.
Finally May. In 2018, the US Trump administration canceled the Iranian nuclear deal and imposed fresh sanctions on Iran. Tensions between Iran and America increased when in 2019 Iran supported the rebels of Yemen. Apparently, Yemen rebels attacked some Saudi Arabian tankers. American patrols in the Middle East were increased. There was a suspicion or accusation of America being driverless by Iran. Tensions continued to rise between Iran and the US, which had reached a peak in January 2020. The reason behind this was that the US Army killed General Soleimani of the Iranian Army in Iraq. In response, Iran launched missile attacks on Air Force bases in Iraq. Although the war between the two ended, but the tension remained the same, which remains even today. The US Congress passed a new bill called CATSA (Countering American Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) to impose economic sanctions on countries that have been banned from US economic and military transactions. These sanctions damaged Iran’s economic and strategic ties with India. The Biden administration has indicated in the US that the nuclear deal with Iran should be signed in 2015. Will be finalized accordingly. Similarly, negotiations have been clearly started in Vienna to restore the nuclear deal.
Meanwhile, there are reports that Iran has also been told to increase it up to 20 percent. The program continued, fueling fears that Tehran was not at all serious about moving forward with the accord. Eight rounds of negotiations have passed since December 2021, but the implementation of the agreement is still far away. Observers believe that the new protectionist or conservative government under the leadership of Ibrahim Raisi is following the path of radicalism. Iran reiterated that until all sanctions are withdrawn by the US. Till then no agreement will be signed. But America wants Iran’s progress to be withdrawn before sanctions are lifted. Nuclear bargaining in the current environment should be avoided by Iran. In other words, it can also be said that America is also under pressure from Israel and Saudi Arabia not to make any kind of nuclear deal with Iran.
There is also a fear that if these agreements are canceled or canceled, Israel may destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities and bases by carrying out airstrikes on the help and support of America. This will result in a bloody war that will be seen on the surface of the Middle East. Whether there is agreement or not, it is a different matter, but how long does peace last in the future.
It is clear from the above discussion that there is such a complex set of factors that give a new dimension to the regional and global shape of the Middle East. Due to its religious and strategic importance, this region is emerging as a special hero on the world stage. Although the tensions between Arab-Israeli still persist, in the meantime Iran and Saudi Arabia are also trying to fight a new war. The strategic and economic importance of this region has also attracted countries like America. The war continues in Yemen, Syria, Libya and other countries, and Israel’s conflicts with Palestine are far from resolved. The economies of these countries are completely dependent on oil. They are also now realizing that the future of oil is also bleak now. Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and other countries are also now looking to diversify their economy. It is also expected that there will be a new beginning in the Middle East, but in this process many future fears, faults and misfortunes will also have to be done.