The return of Cold War [Archives:2007/1034/Opinion]

March 19 2007

Prof. Abdulaziz Al-Tarb
Is it possible for the Cold War to break out once again between the United States and Russia? This is the same war we thought had ended following the former Soviet Union's fragmentation and division into smaller states.

This question is being raised strongly nowadays, particularly after Russian President Vladimir Putin's political address during his visits to many Middle Eastern nations. During such address, for the first time, the Russian leader criticized the U.S., denouncing its attitude and failed wars, which have made the world less secure and safe.

Putin's criticism shocked the U.S. administration, especially because Washington and Moscow enjoy good ties and the two states' relations don't spoil the mutual diplomatic intimacy they enjoy.

Some observers believe that with his harsh criticism, Putin wanted to say to the world that his policies support those states being harmed by the U.S. administration's policies, on one hand, and that the former Soviet Union stands by such weak states, as it used to do in the past, on the other.

Despite all of these justifications, Putin's criticism coincides with U.S. plans to deploy systems in Eastern Europe to defend itself against rockets, but Russia considers this a threat to it, which is impossible to forget.

At the end of January, the U.S. administration asked Poland and Czech Republic to establish anti-aircraft armors within their territories in order to strengthen its defense system, which begins in Alaska and California. The system defends the superpower from all directions against any rockets coming toward it from the Far East or the Middle East.

The two former Soviet allies accepted the U.S. offer, ordering their governments to form a joint committee of military and political experts to study the offer and specify its positives and negatives for their countries in particular and Europe in general.

Putin lashed out at the U.S. during an international conference in Moscow while his armed forces commander was visiting Washington. The Russian army commander took the opportunity to withdraw his nation's commitment to a U.S.-Soviet treaty banning production of short- and medium-range nuclear rockets. The two superpowers have been committed to the treaty since its 1987 signing.

Russian Gen. Nikolai Solontshuv declared that establishing a U.S. anti-aircraft armor in Europe (in Poland and Czech Republic) will help specify the targets for possible strikes.

I believe such a technique is helping to accelerate the Cold War's return, which is why underdeveloped countries, particularly the Middle East, must convey their viewpoints to the U.S. administration in order to solve regional conflicts before the former Soviet Union recovers and resumes its dominance.

Israeli arrogance in this region (Lebanon and Palestine) and absence of efforts to end the war in Iraq is accelerating the rearranging of files, particularly as U.S. losses in Iraq and Afghanistan are requiring further consideration and determination in favor of international resolutions, which haven't been passed since they were made. Is it possible to reread these files to come up with a result serving this region?

Prof. Abdulaziz Al-Tarb is an economist and a professor in Political Science. He is the head of the Arab Group for Investment and Development