Objectives of the U.S. War against Terror (Part 9 of 10) [Archives:2002/07/Law & Diplomacy]
Ahmad M. Abdulghani
Chairman of the al-Jazeera & al-Khaleej Center for Studies
The region between Afghanistan to the west of the Turkish border is referred to as the “heart of the world”. This region has been also the center of conflict between many nations, particularly within the past five centuries. This part of the world has also gained more importance with the discovery of huge amounts of oil resources near the Caspian Sea, also called the second Arab Gulf.
It seems like the USs desire to dominate the Caspian Sea’s resources started long ago, when it increased its military presence in the Gulf in the beginning of 1980s. Formerly, the USSR could feel the risks of that presence, as Soviet foreign minister Andre Gromiko objected to then president Jimmy Carter ‘s request to Congress to consider the Arab Gulf as an area of US interest.
Gromiko pointed out that American claims to have interests in the Gulf region, and in every part of the world where oil fields exist, are baseless. These are mere expansionist policies and pretexts.
However, the USSR which had been sunk in the Afghan swab, failed to stop this expansion. With the breakup of the USSR in 1991, many superpower countries started to compete to have the upperhand in the breakaway republics of the former USSR, especially middle-Asia republics.
Indeed, both the United States and its European allies have been trying to have a hold on these newly-created states for their rich natural resources, as well as to contain the Turkish and Iranian influence in the region. For the most part, the ethnic and cultural composition of the populations of this region helped countries like Turkey and Iran to have stronger ties with them.
Yet Turkey seems to be in a better position than its rivals, and this is what bothers the USA and European countries alike. A stronger Turkey which dominates the oil-rich region of middle-Asia may make the Turks think again of a strong empire similar to the Ottoman Empire. For the West, this is a danger and will negatively impact their strategies in one of the most important regions of the world.
Consequently, the death of the Turkish president Torgut Ozal was a clear message to the Turks, to know their role in the region. Based on US strategies, Turkey’s relations with the new breakaway republics should principally serve the Western interests.
The US-led war against terror is undoubtedly the most important step for strengthening Americas grip over this oil-rich region, along with a set of other objectives, including approaching China and precluding it from playing any significant role in middle-Asia. The US military presence there will help to prevent stronger ties between China, Iran, India, Pakistan and the breakaway republics of the USSR.
The direct US military presence in the region will also prevent political and economic cooperation amongst these nations and countries like Russia, Germany, France, Iran and Turkey. Indeed, a grouping that include these countries will deal a fatal blow to the US expansionist policy there.
The good experience of Turkey, Russia and Iran in dealing with middle-Asia countries, and the good experience of Russia and Germany in containing the US, British and Israeli strategies in the region will inevitably put a limit to such expansionist strategies. Similarly, building an Islamic coalition led by Iran, Pakistan or Turkey in the region will also be impossible with the US military presence, as it will alter the political situation in Afghanistan and the breakaway republics in ways that end ethnic barriers among these nations.
This will ultimately serve the US strategy in the regions, for it will create a new culture in the region that favors openness towards the USA. Later, the United States and European countries will demand that the region allow the presence of their forces, with the view of protecting them from Islamic extremism.
The direct US military presence in Afghanistan and neighboring countries will protect the gas and oil pipelines running through either Afghanistan-Pakistan-Red Sea, or Iran-Arabia and the Gulf, or Iran-Iraq-Saudi Arabia-Red Sea, or Iran-Iraq-Syria-Mediterranean Sea. This will indeed require rearranging the situation in Iraq and establishing good relations with Iran.
Rearranging the balance of power in India, Pakistan and Iran, will need a strict monitoring of any kind of military cooperation between any one of these countries and China, Russia and North Korea.
As it is, it seems the US is determined to be the only inheritor of the former Soviet empire, as it was previously with former European colonies.