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Modern conflicts: their nature, driving forces and mechanisms
Material posted: Publication date: 14-11-2014

This essay consists of 4 parts, in which the author intends to consider the geopolitical importance of the Middle East, to give a brief presentation on the occurrence, causes and nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict, to identify the main driving forces and mechanisms of the conflict and to assess the role of Russia in this conflict and to analyze its geopolitical interests in the region.

Geopolitical importance of the Middle East

The middle East is at the crossroads of three continents, and this is an exceptional geographical position determined its special role in world history. It is a crossroads of Muslim and Christian civilization, many ethnic groups, and major sea, air and land routes connecting Europe, Asia and Africa. This situation makes the region is certainly promising from the point of view of economic development and the promotion of its national interests, thereby exacerbating the rivalry as the middle East and extra-regional States. In turn, the accumulation of different cultures, faiths and peoples is a huge potential for conflict and creates additional difficulties for policy purposes.
In fact the middle East is one of the most volatile regions in the world. The confrontation is carried out at various levels: between small ethnic groups, terrorist groups, neighbouring States and major geopolitical leaders. Throughout its history the middle East has seen enough conflict, however, one of the most acute and long considered to be the Arab-Israeli. His permission is the key to alleviating regional tension and thus is a top priority of the world community.

Genesis, drivers and especially the Arab-Israeli conflict

The idea of creating a Jewish state was the dream of the Jewish people for many centuries, however, the real preconditions for its implementation began to emerge in the early twentieth century. These assumptions were driven by the immediate geopolitical interests of one of the leaders of that time, namely Britain. Strategic benefit of creation of a Jewish state is described in detail Chaim Weizmann (future first President of Israel in 1948-1952 gg.) in a letter to his collaborator in 1914: "...should Palestine fall into the sphere of English influence and if England will contribute to the settlement of Palestine, as dependent on England country the Jews, after 20-30 years we would have been there a million Jews, and perhaps more; they would... would provide a highly effective protection of the Suez canal".

In another letter to Weizmann for 1916 says: "the English Cabinet is not only sympathetic with the aspirations of the Jews in Palestine, but would like to see these aspirations were translated into reality. England would have in the face of the Jews the most reliable friends who would be the best conductors of her ideas in the Eastern countries and would serve as a link between the two civilizations. This, of course, is not the most important argument, but any politician who looks 50 years ahead, should attach great importance".

On 29 November 1947 the UN General Assembly adopted resolution No. 181, which provided for the termination of the British mandate in Palestine by 1 August 1948, and the creation on its territory of two States – Jewish and Arab. The Jewish side accepted partition, and Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Yemen refused and demanded the establishment in Palestine of a single state formation. Thus, it created the conflict situation, which subsequently resulted in a number of warrior, the intifada and terrorist operations of different scale.

However, lowering further the conversation, it makes sense to specify that at the present stage of development there are three fundamental differences between the Israeli and Palestinian sides.

The first is the issue of ownership of Jerusalem, a Holy city for the Israelis and the Muslims. The UN General Assembly when deciding on the partition of Palestine in 1947 recognized the "city of three religions" special status and put it under international control. A year later, Jerusalem was divided between Israel and Jordan, and after the six day war in June 1967 was entirely in the hands of the Israelites. In fact, Jerusalem consists of two parts: a Jewish city with a population of 475 thousand and an Arab city (245 thousand).

The second problem is the Jewish settlements on the West Bank of the Jordan river. The construction of these settlements began soon after the six day war and today there are 122 settlements with a total population of 270 thousand people (and even 190 thousand Jewish settlers live in the district of Jerusalem in Arab territory, outside the West Bank). And though the territory occupied by the settlements is only about 6 % of the area of the West Bank that Palestinians consider the occupation of the mere fact of their presence.

The third problem are the Palestinian refugees. These are the Arabs who left their home for them in Palestine, when that became part of Israel. According to official estimates the number of refugees now exceeds three million, they live on benefits issued by the UN, in 32 camps in Jordan, the West Bank of the Jordan river, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon and Syria. In accordance with resolution 194 of the UN General Assembly adopted in 1948, refugees shall be ensured the right to return, which Israel, however, has never recognized.

There is a classic way to resolve these problems, which was developed back in the days of American President Nixon. It should be noted that for the U.S., Israel is of special political interest, because it is considered as a strategic partner According to the us plan, Israel must return the occupied territory, then creates an independent Palestine state but the Arab world recognizes the right of existence of the state of Israel. Jerusalem, as it was originally conceived, comes under international control. For US the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict is an extremely important foreign policy goal, as it will help to improve the image of USA in the East and to reduce anti-American sentiment. However, subjective factors hinder the implementation of this plan: the hatred between Arabs and Israelis is too deeply ingrained in the mind.

Role and Russia's geopolitical interests

Russia and middle Eastern world have a long history of diplomatic relations. As you know, the USSR was involved in the creation of the state of Israel. However, after a few years of the Arab-Israeli peace became an arena of the geopolitical war between the USSR and the USA. The diplomatic legacy of the Soviet Union ended in 1991, when President Boris N. Yeltsin, who was too busy with internal political and economic problems of the country. Of course in that period you can talk about Russian-Turkish or Russian-Iranian relations, but they had no character thought out a consolidated foreign policy program. New stage of development of the Russian policy in the middle East can speak only with the coming to power of Vladimir Putin, especially in his second term.

Of course, participation in the resolution of any geopolitical conflict brings first and foremost the recognition by the international community and strengthening influence in the conflict region. In this case, Moscow also seek to strengthen its position in the middle East and to compete with such major geopolitical players like the United States and the European Union. But there are two other most important geopolitical task. First, to find in the middle East strategic partners for the development of economic and trade relations and, thereby, to strengthen the Russian economy. Secondly, to stop the support of Muslim Chechen militants, who once again stepped up its activities in 1999.

The American invasion of Iraq has noticeably cooled the Russian-American relations and had an adverse effect on Russian-Israeli relations and pushing Russia towards greater cooperation with Palestine. Has developed an ambiguous situation. On the one hand, Moscow has supported Iran's nuclear program and maintained friendly relations with Palestine. On the other, tried to develop the Russian-Israeli cooperation. Thus, by the early 2000s the trade turnover between the countries exceeded one billion dollars per year, simultaneously, strengthened cultural ties and growing influx of Russian tourists in Israel. In 2003 Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visited Moscow with official visit. And from the moment of capture by terrorists of school in Beslan, Russia began to actively promote the cooperation with Israel in the field of counter-terrorism.

While the popularity of the U.S. in the middle East fell sharply, Putin decided to formulate a new strategy for Russia in the middle East. With the beginning of the second term was followed by the visits of Vladimir Putin to the middle East, particularly actively developed relations with Syria. In 2005, Syria has been written off the debt of the USSR in the amount of 13.4 billion dollars, followed by the contract for the development of the Syrian oil and gas fields. Russia for the first time in many years returned to the political arena, announcing their growing influence and ability to be a strong and reliable partner. But of course the Central issue of middle East policy remains the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is worth noting the important fact that in all that time not a single Russian military did not kill neither Arab nor Israeli. This is indisputable advantages of Russia in front of USA.

Russia continues to maintain a strong partnership both with Israel and with the Arab world. Russia is an important mediator for any peace talks and has achieved absolute trust of both parties. Over the past 14 years, Russia's image significantly improved in the global political arena. But many economic and cultural agreements in promoting Russian geopolitical interests. And although the problem of the Arab-Israeli conflict is still not resolved, you can certainly assume that Russia has achieved its goals, which were described above, including in the sphere of geopolitics.


Middle East because of its geographical position the region is of paramount importance. This situation certainly makes it promising from the point of view of economic development and promotion of national interests of many States. Therefore, the Arab-Israeli conflict, undermining stability in the region, negatively affects the potential of the Middle East. Russia have a long history of diplomatic relations with the countries of the Middle East. However, due to the unstable political situation the development of geopolitical strategy, little attention was paid in the reign of B. N. Yeltsin. And only with the coming to power of Vladimir Putin in the country there appeared a new geopolitical doctrine, with particular emphasis on the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict in order to promote the image of Russia in the international arena and the development of economic and cultural ties. Although the conflict is still not resolved, Russia achieved its objectives in the field of geopolitics.


Skvortsov D.



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