"Broader Middle East" - Where Vital National Interests Meet
The “Broader Middle East” – reaching from Marrakech to Bangladesh and with the sideline to Central Asia – offers all ingredients for crises and conflicts as well as for stabilization and democratization. Almost all decisive factors in worldwide security policy play a role: Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, international terrorism combined with organized crime, ethnic conflicts, huge gaps between the have-and-have-not, migration, the flight into “megapolis”, Aids, shortage of fresh water and food, discrimination of minorities, lack of democracy, freedom and justice.
Broader Middle East - from Marrakech to Bangladesh
The region is also very attractive for the rest of the world. It can offer what is increasingly needed in the world: Energy – be it crude oil or gas as well as other strategically important raw materials. More than 70% of the world’s reserves are in this region of the world.
The demand for crude and gas is growing. It is estimated that by 2025, today’s global demand for 84 billion barrels of oil per day will have grown to 121 billion - 130 barrels a day. The price of oil has reached an historic high and there is no end of this development in sight. Production and transportation over long distances will be the prime challenge for energy producers and consumers.
Western political and social systems depend upon energy that is timely available and affordable. Therefore, the “Broader Middle East” is decisive for our future. If this region falls into the “wrong hands,” the world will be exposed to unacceptably high prices and political and economic blackmail. If vital interests are threatened, then wars become a political tool. Therefore, all big consumers - China, India, Japan, Europe and the United States - have a great interest in avoiding the “worst case."
Present allies and partners should at the minimum tackle the problem together and find an intelligent division of labor and burden sharing. The present “hot spots” in this region– Kashmir, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq; Israel/Palestine, Syria and Lebanon – must be handled with common and orchestrated efforts.
We receive mixed signals from this area of the world. Developments in Lebanon provide us with some hope, but the victory of the new Iranian president is less promising. There is good and bad news from Afghanistan as well as from Kashmir. Iraq is still in the center of the world’s attention.
“Iraq” is not an American problem – it is our common problem. There is no alternative to success even if it takes a long breath. If the world fails in Iraq, we will get no second chance for a long time.
Dr. Andrea Riemer offers in her newsletter an in-depth-analysis of the complexity and sensitivity of the interwoven net of problems in the “Broader Middle East.” With her clear recommendations she goes beyond the analysis.
Whatever the “global players” want to do and can do:
They have to start now. Time is not on our side.