SENZA CENSURA n.14
Italy, july-october 2004
THE GREAT MIDDLE EAST AND THE EUROPEAN
INTERESTS ON THE MEDITERRANEAN
The interests of USA in the Mediterranean don't begin today and the long arm of the N.A.T.O. and the "Mediterranean Dialogue" represented and still represent the instrument to develop US hegemony on the area. We can find proof of this in the new vitality of the mediterranean integration in the last years, although the contraddictions created by the political-military conduction of the Palestinian, Afghan and Iraqi conflicts.
U.S. policy made even more difficult to the "puppet governments" of the area the managing of the relationships with the U.S.A. and their agressive policy. The heavy repression of Palestinian people woken up a feeling of revenge against U.S.A., the war in Iraq and the high "idelogical" value about the ability of the Iraqi Resistence to contrast the strongest war machine of the world, surely provoked a step forward in the birth of a collective identity that, in spite of its current direction or the attempts of the propoganda to trace it back only to religious aims, evidently roots on an anti-usa and anti-imperialist feeling.
So, we can see a "popular" feeling and the rising of the arabian and islamic middle-class that, against those same contraddictions, stands for a new role not totally submitted to western control. All this, is not a definitive analisys, but a tendency that the same facts show.
More and more, the governements of the arabian-mediterranian countries are enforcing cooperation projects that could be interpretated, on one hand, as distinctive processes of concentration of the present stage, or as autonomous instruments to manage their inerests. In this way, the according that will be stipulated to transport gas from Egypt to Turkey and arab-mediterranian countries, can be a significant example. The project is worth 1,5 milliard of dollars and is called "Trans Mashrek pipeline".
The absence of many arab countries at the G8 in Sea Island, the criticisms on Bush plan of a Great Middle East, can represent another plug for the arab-islamic middle-class to have a try of autonomy -like in the development of the european pole. It's not certainly a clash, but a renegotiation of their links in the "imperialistic chain". But also the arab front is divided about the response to give to the "american friend". An example could be the failure of the Arab League of Tunisi and of the "alliances" created into the arab world. The different positions on the american reform plan surely will cause the creation of an alliance betweeen Tunisia-Libia-Algeria-Morocco and Egypt-Saudi Arabia-Syria, and the alliance of the "moderate countries" that includes Yemen, Qatar and Sudan.
We want clearly to say that the use of the term "Middle East", as term in common use, doesn't refer to an imperialistic geopolitic class or area, but to a choice of "convenience".
On november, Colin Powell, Secretary of State, announced the launch of the Greater Middle East Partnership Initiative and the allocation of 29 millions of dollars to support economically the reform project on the area. In addition to this money, there are billions dollars allocated annually. Financings, will also support the tecnic assistance for the development of the little/middle business into Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Liban. In the opinion of Colin Powell, the Initiative bases on three main pillars:
- bridge the jobs gap with economic reform, business investment, and private sector development
- develop politic reforms
- bridge the knowledge gap with better schools and more opportunities for higher education
Powell said that the american Government will work to start up reforms in the countries involved in the Middle East Initiative, to develop an economic and financial system capable to absorbe and to hold foreign capitals. USA will allocate a Fund for Mid-Eastern Development (like the European Bank for Development).
According to the american government, the project will help the countries that wish join W.T.O. (like Yemen, Liban, Saudi Arabia and Algeria) to dispose of a technical and political support to complete the necessary to get in the "global economy". Further positive developments will come with the aceleration of the projects about a Free Trade Area between USA and the involved Countries, like the US already do with Giordania or in way of definition with Morocco, and hope to do with Egypt and Bahrain.
The project is a storic moment for the american foreign policy.
According to the analysts, the first clear target is to protect the american interests, but the the bases still don't show a solution to the problem. What we see is a war fought with other means: the US aim is to use a "low intensity" penetration system, considering the results of the "iraqi campaigne" that make the "unsecurity zone" spreading like wildfire for the imperialistic foreign policy, and not only the american one.
The project is not limited to the mediterranean area, but has instead the purpose to involve the countries of the area from North of Africa to the Central Asia, from Saudi Arabia to Sub-Indian continent. A zone of "democracy" where the american interests will be guaranted.
Many times we see that the turkysh role is essential during this process and, even if Turkey had disagreements in the relations with USA, it doesn't mean that Turkey will not still assume the role of "servant/surety" of the US imperialism on this area, like Israel does.
The document identifies Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco as potential alliated to guarantee the security on the area and to get a propulsion for the economic and political reforms of the US penetration plan. The american project for a "Greater Middle East" clashes with the opposition of some arab countries and last but not least, with the opposition of the populations and of the pressing hotbeds of protest.
The chances for the governments to control the political-economic choices and the consequent oppurtunity for some middle-classes of the area to negotiate the USA plan, are developing a considerable state of political ferment, particularly inside the League of Arab States.
In March, Saudi Arabia and Egypt drew up a proposal, called "A Pledge and A Declaration to Arab Nation", that will get the arab nations to assume a joint response on the US plan, trying to mediate with the current resistences. Particularly, they deny the thesis that the project would represent an interference on the home affairs of the involved countries, holders of political and economic choises. The aim of the document is to make the confrontation with the american project a necessity, in order to "enable the Arab people to play their true role in the world economic order" and "enhance international civilisation through positive interaction" with the rest of the world.
All the same, the General Secretary of the League of Arab States, Amr Moussa, has confirmed, considering the deep present disagreements, that it's impossibile to obtain a joint response about the american proposal.
Egypt, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are in favour of a negotiation on the reforms with USA and the other western countries, as long as they care about the arab interests. Syria, Liban and Yemen will is to reject the plan, because they think it will be an interference on their interests. Bahrain and Qatar are careful, delaing the response after the verification of the real capacity of the plan.
For some puppet-governments of the imperialism, the objection is more formal that substantial, trying to bring back USA to find a bigger involvement of the interested parties in the definition of the action plan.
A sort of "imperialistic concertation".
In the meanwhile, Marc Grossman, US undersecretary at the foreign affaires, went to Morocco, Jordan, Egypt and Bahrain promoting the USA project and defining it "the chance to bridge the gaps of poverty and life condition with western countries, in wich grows the development of terrorism. But also in this event, the response expressed in most cases by the involved countries, was hostile.
In the opinion of Syria government, like its vice-president Abdel-Halim Khaddam said, this plan represents a return to the colonial past, to the situation before the First War, when the western countries policy was defined by the partition of the resources and of the territories.
Still the Foreign Secretary of Sudan objected to the plan, saying that "the reforms imposed from the outside will not work if they will not start from a clear partnership".
At the informal Cairo Arab Foreign Ministers Council on march of this year, preceeding the "postpose" summit of the Arab League -that would had been held in Tunisi between the end of the month and the beginning of April-, some arab states tried to impose the confronting line with USA about the project, not to make the reforms in progress seem an "alignment" to the US dictate. The Jordan delegate declared that Jordan, like Egypt and Kuwait, already started the the political and economic reforms long ago, before the USA Great Middle East project.
From the preambles, we can se that the worries about US safety are not groundless.
In the middle of March, about 200 men of the US special forces have been sent to Mauritania, Mali, Chad and Niger to protect the american interests. With Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, the army cooperation has been more enforced, particularly the anti-terrorism.
Some sources say the USA forces have already gone in action at the borderline between Ciad and Niger against people suspected to join the algerian Salafita Group for the Prayer and the Fight.
We can understand the american aims by the choice to create a base on the island of Cyprus. The base could enforce the USA presence in the Mediterranean zone, but first of all could put a "launching pad" at disposal of the actions in North Africa and in the Middle East. Really, the base will be like the bases builded in Central Asia, with the presence of troups in turnover and able to receive eventual necessary contingents for the military actions. By information of the local authorities, the base will allow more flexibility to the defense of the interests about oil on Caspian Sea, Central Asia and Middle East.
Even if France and Germany applauded the american initiative and a transatlantic collaboration about it, they jointly highlighted the disagreements on the approach that the plan could provide. The ways of EU approach are clearly different from the Washington undertaken ways that in future could be engaged on NATO field.
The Declaration's aim is to recall USA to a greater collaboration with EU and Middle East about the reforms to realize on the "region", contesting the US unilateral approach that could cause a total rejection of the initiative. The document, accepted by EU as ground plan for its politics on the area, focus the attention on some key points:
- the involved countries must share to the definition of the necessary reforms and their applcation
- each initiative must take into account the cultural, religious, etc... differences between the states, with not any stigmatization on Islam, that could create an adverse atmosphere into the populations
- all initiatives must involve the Mediterranean countries, of the Middle-East and of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and builded from the inside of what already done (like Barcelona Plan and European Security Strategy)
- reforms must concern economy, but also all the fields of the social life
- reforms will assent the realization of further agreements and collaborations of Nato, EU, ONU and other financial international organizations
- it's necessary to reinforce the peace process on Palestine
The bet of the european analysts is that the middle-eastern involved countries would prefer the european imperialist approach, because they think it's less "invasive" than the american one and capable to put at center of the attection, not only the political action as a result of the relactions of power based on the military capabilities, but a less complex management of the economic and financial politics' relapses on the individual countries and a stronger guaranteed freedom of action for the local middle-classes or powers.
There are more countries that live EU as an alternative with USA, like Syria with whom from a long time USA do agreements of cooperation and wish to renew the trade relactions with.
The real disagreements and the EU approach -as compared with the US plan- can be seen in the different management of the penetration policy.
In the opinion of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, the clearest example could be represented by the attitude adopted with Iran. The USA put the Islamic Republic of Iran into the gangster governments; the Europe thinks Iran a "complex" partner and one of the countries with a more political pluralism, defining "the democratization project, a not linear and complex project marked by steps back and temporary stops."
Unlike the USA, the EU is considered as holder of a policy aiming to create bilateral cooperation systems that could create a better confidential relaction and a chance to manage the contraddictions.
An example of the research is the possibility to apply a strategy for the "solution" to the "iraqi problems" by a 6+4+1 scheme, where the six neighbouring countries, the so-called "Mideast Quartet" group (USA, EU, Russia, and ONU) can be represented, and the newly formed iraqi government, with the aim to take decisions on the future of Iraq and on the operative interventions on it.
In particular, says the research, the american approach, bases on US "personalized" politics, because of its role and figure of decision-maker opposite to the european one, that leans towards the creation of bilatelar structures of decision.
So, beyond the formal failure of the so-called "proposal", beyond the present difficulties to find the balance into the imperialistic chain, like at the G8 meeting in Sea Island, we can see that the policy of both poles is essentially the same.
EU criticisms on US project are essentially about the interests of the Euopean pole in northern Africa and the mediterranean-middle eastern areas, in opposition with US policy on the zone, in particular, by the european middle-class that don't want to be silent and submitted to the american "imperialistic direction".
On April, as the MEDA plan provides, EU "lavished" money for 34,5 billions euros to Morocco, Ageria, Egypt, Jordan, Liban, Syria and Tunisia.
Few days before, the allocations of the Meda regional Financial Plan 2004 have been approved; they will allocate 37 billions euros to Algeria, 18 to Liban and 53 to Syria. The first part of the Financial Plan 2004 (about 78 billions euros) have been allocated to improve the chances of investment and the financial system into the Euromediterranean Partnership. Still this year, the projects on the coasts control (about 15 billions euros) have been fund; about 4,5 billions to the realization of the Mediterranean Satellite Naigation Project (GNSS) and of the SAFEMED Project for Cooperation on Maritime Safety, plus 15 billions to the "minor" projects.
France and Germany declarations (assumed later by the EU too) about the autonomy of choise on the Washington and NATO decisions, are not based only on suppositions or prospects.
We mentioned many times the role of NATO as the USA arm, and its role in the american penetration in the Mediterranean.
This role is more confirmed by the NATO involvement in the Great Middle East plan.
In preparation of the NATO summit of Istanbul on june 2004, the US diplomacy is developing a big work to determinate a wider support to the plan. But, so like some fonts of the french government say, the "Istanbul Initiative" might not find supports because it expresses same contents already rejected to the "Greater Middle East" plan.
The NATO documents clearly show the american will to influence the choises of the Istambul summit with the purpose to make them overlap those of the Middle East Partnership Initiative.
As quoted: " the elevation of the Mediterranean Dialogue to the countries involved in the plan, by the experience of Partnership for Peace, will reinforce the bases for the realization of an area of safety and freedom".
The PfP, could also enable some countries not to be forced to a complete alliance and to an official partecipation to NATO. This kind of initiative could restrict the contraddictions generated by the widespread arab-islamic popular mass idea that joining the NATO could mean a further interference and control by USA. All this, shows the will to use a low-impact action that in the meantime allows the creation of steady bilateral relations in safety and military cooperation fields.
The success of the NATO action in Afghanistan, represents, by the same documents, a test bed for a similar next utilization of it on the area.
The eventual US success on Iraq may more reinforce this will.
But their "papers" don't say a word about what could weaken this process. Even if it's essential to know, to understand and to inform, this doesn't get us out of the individuation of a pratice ground to direct to the result of our evaluations. The avanced subjectivities of the movement against the war must define their sphere of action for the future, against the opportunism that goes on to put the contraddictions on a backward view, trapped into the meshes of the capital and its interests.
In front of this situation, our prospect moves from the ability to take the opportunities to internationalize our action, getting away from the ritual political time limits, but taking part of them with independent ways and targets and intervening, into a mutual militant exchange, against the main current interests of the US or EU imperialist policies.