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Arabian Gulf & Cultural Dimension: As an Influential Force in Determining Interests

THE LEVANT NEWS — by Salam al Rabadi*–

Many of the theories emphasizes that the main source of conflict in the future will be a cultural source . Cultures is the dominant framework in international relations. In order to confirming this approach we can return to the former French president’s statement: Jacques Chirac at UNESCO Conference in 2001. He said:”nineteenth century witnessed the ethnic conflict. The twentieth century saw Ideology conflict. But in the twenty-first century we will witness clash of cultures”. Based on this we can be explained: how can use of cultural dimension in order to achieve the interests of the major powers in the Gulf? This happens through two-way:
1. The nature of the relationship between the West and Islam.
2. The nature of the relationship between the Islamic currents.
A- The nature of the relationship between the West and Islam.
There are strategic interests of major countries in the region. And the factors: Economic, Security, Political, are determined by these interests. But we must not be overlooked cultural factors as an influential force and driving to those interests both in terms of cultural perception of the big states of the Gulf region (relation the West with Islam) or at the level of cultural reality of that region ( reality of Islam ) which is a catalyst for those States to achieve their goals. This vision for Muslim world or the Arab (Gulf is part of it) in fact it is strategy of major Western countries – in spite of differentiation among them in some cases – to control the region in order to several logical reasons:
a- Terrorism: regarded as the Gulf region is the source of terrorism intellectually and materially. Thus the cultural factor that is determines this vision.
b- Energy: It is the basis of mutual dependence between the countries of the world. Based on various dimensions strategic: Economic and security.
c- The problem of the relationship between the Arabs and Muslims with Israel: this crisis has serious implications for the West, and those countries must intervene in this issue.
d- Foreign armies: it can not linger in the Gulf forever. It is this sense it is necessary to build new systems for security and safety. And Middle East projects (the Arab Spring) is a model for this perception.
Doubts and fears are clearly visible when it is to talk about Western vision for the Arab region including the Arabian Gulf. And Middle East projects (including the Arab Spring) carries the full concept of the area ( geographic, political, economic, security ). Based on a package of changes that have to be generalized and that carry their content in cultural and sectarian dimensions grim. This so-called wars of identities and cultures in the Middle East.

Accordingly the West became convinced realistically, that the Iraqi impasse, Syrian and Yemeni passes through the gate Iran specifically. Therefore, No escape from the search for areas of convergence with Iran. It seems that the intellectual cover for such a future convergence may be based on Western convinced that the threat of terrorist Sunni (Wahhabi) more severe and risk than Iranian influence in the region. Thus, the Shiite awakening or Iran’s influence may be the force that can through it fight and confront Islamic extremism Sunni . Accordingly very important and It must be given to Iran (at least) space to move even at the minimum.

This policy will help to move from conflict and confrontation between the West and Islam to the confrontation between the Sunni and Shiite influence influence. This is inferred through strategic reading: How the West deal with the crises of Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.
The second part: the relationship between the Islamic currents.
The danger in this fact it makes it easier for Western nations pursue their interests . It is clear that the Muslim community is suffering from the fact crisis. Today Islamic scene jostling inside it different streams. And The Arab Gulf is a model reflects all these diverse and conflicting contradictions. Which can be explained as follows:
A. intellectually: Reformers, Traditionalists, Terrorists. There are those who call for reform and freedom and There are those who look for a change from the traditional angle. And There are terrorists who try to get out all the familiar and humane. This political and social mobility cast a shadow on the capabilities of the Gulf States to preserve its existence and interests. In contrast, This reality it allows the great powers of intervention under humanitarian and security cover in order to achieve two goals:
First: pressure on these countries to achieve their interests:Under the pretext of protecting the stability and the defense of political systems in the Gulf States (The ruling families).
Second: the exploitation of this movement to build a new cultural mode in order to serve the interests of Western countries.
B. The level of sectarian: Sunni, Shia, Alawite, Wahhabism, Houthis, Yazidi, Druze, Maronites, Copts.. Sectarian conflict in the Muslim world entered in the assets of religious convictions: After leaving the mantle of political interests. As there’s quest towards a sectarian culture production in order to that it plays a vital role in stabilizing the pillars of what is coming in the future. And crises in: Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Bahrain, is seemingly a flagrant model for such a logic. Where the objective is to create a strategic changes in the region are no longer based on the concept of the interests of States.
Now we are inside a tunnel. The vision or the picture is not clear inside it. Data indicate in the Arab world (and particularly in the Gulf region) that we are in front of a new system which is very dangerous. It is similar to the reality of European countries before the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia in 1684. And bet on time will not last long in the light of the strategic environment dangerous afflicting the region. And controlled by each of the extremist terrorist movements: the base and Islamic State ( Daash ) and Syrian Free Army (the armed wing of the Muslim Brothers). backed by some countries of the Gulf, Turkey, Israel and Western countries in order to encircle both: Iran and Iraq and Syria and the resistance movements in the region. Thus weakening the Russian and Chinese influence on the global level.

This reality is manipulated and exploited the contradictions by Western countries on two levels:
1. within each state individually. Inciting sectarian strife and sectarianism within each of: Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Syria…
2. between Countries. Such as: the Iranian-Arab relations. Or inter-Arab relations. This is what had been expressed by some Arab leaders when they talk about the Shiite crescent or increasing Iranian influence. Also Arab leaders rejected the initiative proposed to former Secretary-General of the Arab League : Amr Moussa in 2010. Which aims to conduct a strategic dialogue with Iran. As Saudi war on Yemen comes in the same this context.
The area in front of a very serious contradiction. There is in this moments those who wish to transfer the conflict in the Middle East from a strategic Israeli Arab conflict to conflict between arab world and iran. It is very unfortunate it arab relations or Iranian-Arab relations has become characterized by its sectarian character. It is surprising: How and Why did that change of arab vision for their strategic interests? Where is the logic in all of this reality?

these facts and data require and compel us ask the following problematic questions:
1. Can Western countries exploit the fears of Arab cultural ( based on sectarian dimensions) to achieve its goals in the region in order to divided into sectarian mini-states? Is it therefore can secure the protection of the security of the Jewish state?
2. Is it possible that based Arab national security strategy on the doctrinal and sectarian dimensions? Which makes us ask questions strategy about Arab interests and priorities of hazard identification? How can we challenge and confrontation all this problems? So what are motivations of those arab interests if not all Arab countries agree to such an option or path ?
Developments have become in that sensitive area that suffer from an imbalance in the balance of power a source of concern and tension. And facing a future fraught with danger. Especially in light of the complex situation in: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain. that it need to research and monitoring to try to find an intellectual approach to restore strategic balance . This approach can not succeed however in one case only if the rebalancing process based on the basis of balance of mutual interests.
We can say: The Dialogue and understanding between Iran and Western on the nuclear issue or the situation in Iraq may serve as a picture of future of that region. But the question remains fateful and strategic is: Where are the Arabs of this reality remains?
ON any base we can build Arab national security? Will it be on the basis of sectarianism? Or on the basis balance of power (we lost it) ? Or on base of interests?
Determining that base may we can get it only through try each of leaders and elites and peoples in Aarab World: the revision of the our cultural heritage. Before becoming the Arab world between the two options only : al-Qaeda or Islamic State(ISIS) Daash?

  • Lebanese researcher and author in International Relations, based in SPAIN.
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