Some intriguing aspects of geopolitical processes are surfacing on the global scale. It is along with a dire situation in the Middle East that some thought-provoking events are developing in the Central Asia and the Pacific basin. Experts are analyzing recent actions of Washington, Moscow and Beijing in the context of geopolitical processes developing in this space. Some notable aspects of that analysis are related with the South Caucasus.
Military force and delicate diplomacy: which one is more efficient?
Tensions in global geopolitics are not subsiding. Rivalry of super powers for the clout in different regions of the world has a distinctive content. Analysis of those demonstrates that process has become more systematic and complex. At present, it is more evident in the Middle-East-Central Asia-Pacific basin. Although the intensity of developments within these geopolitical boundaries is changing, they nevertheless are viewed as components of the general trend.
“The Washington Post” (U.S.), “The Diplomat” (Japan), “Независимая газета” (Russia) and others focus on continuing geopolitical rivalry between Washington, Moscow and Beijing that are abundant with intriguing aspects. Seemingly, rivals are willing to compromise on certain issues for the sake of their strategic interests. Overall, however, they undertake resolute actions to achieve their goals, and it is then that the fate of the ordinary people bears less than prime importance.
In 30 September issue of “The Washington Post” Russia’s offensive in the Middle East was particularly highlighted (See: “Russia seeks to fill the vacuum in the Middle East” / www.washingtonpost.com). In recent years, Kremlin has stepped up its presence in that direction. Nevertheless, paper insists that geopolitical motives behind Moscow’s actions are unclear. This side of the issue is indeed fascinating because at first glance, it is only natural that as a country with global ambitions, Russia aims to achieve clout in the Middle East. Author points out energy resources as a key factor here, therefore as a country endowed with vast oil and gas reserves it is pointless for Russia to take considerable risks. Still, Moscow displayed uncompromising stand on the developments in Iraq, Syria and Egypt. This stubbornness is failed to be grasped by the West, in part also because China is actually advancing in the Central Asia.
Those aspects were also examined in several analytical articles in Japan’s “The Diplomat” magazine. Recent article was dedicated to the rivalry between the U.S., Russia and China over global leadership (See: Zachary Keck. “With Russia in the Middle East, China claims Central Asia” / www.thediplomat.com, 02 October, 2013). The article addresses, two dangerous aspects of Moscow’s Middle-East policy. First, “…by sparking U.S. concern that Russia is seeking to challenge Washington’s position in the Middle East, Moscow could inadvertently encourage America to pursue detente with Iran. This would cut Russia out of the picture altogether, and embolden Iran to contest Russian influence in Central Asia” (See: previous source).
Secondly, Russia’s effort in the Middle East may entail weakening of its influence in the areas situated along its borders, including undermining of its position in the Central Asia. It must be stressed that this is the very region that secures Russia’s access to the Middle East. There is yet another aspect that deserves attention.
Beijing’s great game
It has to do with China’s reinvigorated performance in the Central Asia. China appears to have deliberately tossed the initiative to Russia when it comes to the Middle East. Although Beijing has rendered behind the scenes support to Syria and Iran, it still remained in the shadow on diplomatic and political scene. Instead, it pursues some serious endeavors in the Central Asia. As the expert with the Carnegie Endowment Martha Olcott put it: “China has come to displace both the United States and Russia as the great power with the most influence in Central Asia” (previous source). Same expert referred to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent 10 day trip around the region where he signed number of significant agreements, most of them in economic, financial and trade areas.
Apparently, it was with the gentle shove that Beijing has thrust Moscow into the flames of the Middle-East war. In the meantime, China implements a “humanitarian offensive” in the Central Asia, the region of strategic importance for Russia. Figuratively speaking, Russia “plays” in the Middle East while China does so in the Central Asia.
The claim that China demonstrates its political-diplomatic and military dominance in every region would be inaccurate nonetheless. For example, in the Pacific, Washington appears to be more assertive – quite an intriguing aspect of the issue. According to “Независимая газетa”, America expands its military presence in Asia (See: Дарья Цилюрик. “США расширяют военные альянсы в Азии” (U.S. expands military alliances in Asia) / www.ng.ru, 03 October 2013). Namely, Washington inked new military agreements with Tokyo and Seoul – actions called to deter threats emanating from China. Beijing has territorial disputes with the U.S. allies in the region, and military solution of those problems is not excluded.
In this connection, cyber threats coming from Beijing is an alarming issue for both Tokyo and Seoul. This aspect was specifically stipulated in recent agreements signed with the U.S. In the meantime, China attempts to establish economic, military and information superiority in the disputed territories which adds to the multifaceted nature of its completion with the U.S. for the region.
The aforementioned adds a new content to the global-scale geopolitical rivalry between the U.S., Russia and China. First of all, it appears that big powers are not active in the Middle East only. It is in other regions also that they are attempting to take effective steps to ensure their interests in the world. In this context, key processes are developing in the geopolitical space spanning the Middle East, Central Asia and the Pacific basin. As none of the big powers was able to obtain dominance at this stage, the intensity of the rivalry is likely to escalate.
Under the circumstances, the fate of some countries with regional prominence (Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Japan, Pakistan and etc.) remains vague. In this regard, potential development to ensue in such regions as the South Caucasus, the one with enormous geopolitical importance, is intriguing. Prospects of regional cooperation and those of the conflict resolution deserve a comprehensive evaluation.
One of the notable aspects of the geopolitical rivalry between the big powers is its emerging interconnection on the greater scale. Time will show when and how this process will affect the situation. For now, we may expect the world to encounter unforeseen geopolitical situations that even the greatest of the powers may find themselves unprepared. Because of the extent of complexity of actions of the very superpowers, the outcome is beyond prediction. For one reason or another, the world does not mind being dragged into uncertainty.