Black Sea Strategy –Threshold of World War?

The article Ukraine, Iraq and a Black Sea Strategy by George Friedman came into focus of international experts’ attention. The author is known to make no bones about it when he expresses his opinion. While others wrote about European values, democracy and open society to take hold in Ukraine, he devoted his writings to Russia’s strategic position, military planning, oil and gas policy. He openly admits that the United States saw the events in Ukraine as either an opportunity for moral posturing or as a strategic blow to Russian national security. He also points out that “U.S.geography and power permit a degree of uncertainty“ Actually the author is talking about geostrategy aimed at plunging the world into chaos. But it’s not the main thing.

There is a serious substantiation for guessing that the theses used in the article serve as an indicator of the fact that the US elite switches to the perception of current and would-be events in terms of ongoing world war. A “world war” sounds awesome but there is nothing new in thinking in such terms: the previous global economic crisis comparable in scale was overcome thanks to world war. A world war allows to reshape the world map, get access to new markets, write off old debts and establish new rules of the game in international affairs. This is the most important factor for the United States. Playing by the rules established by America itself in the past, no longer can it maintain the global leadership ceding the position to rising China.

MAP-2According to George Friedman, the most critical issue for the United States is to create a single integrated plan that takes into account the most pressing challenges. Operationally, it might not be possible to engage all adversaries simultaneously, but conceptually, it is essential to think in terms of a coherent center of gravity of operations. For the author of the article it is increasingly clear that that center is the Black Sea. There are currently two active theaters of military action with broad potential significance. One is Ukraine. The other is in the Syria-Iraq region, where the forces of the Islamic State have launched an offensive designed at a minimum to control regions in both countries — and at most dominate the area between the Levant and Iran. In most senses there is no connection between these two theaters. The author notes that Russia has an ongoing problem in the high Caucasus and there are reports of Chechen advisers working with the Islamic State. He points out that, “In this sense, the Russians are far from comfortable with what is happening in Syria and Iraq. At the same time, anything that diverts U.S. attention from Ukraine is beneficial to the Russians. For its part, the Islamic State must oppose Russia in the long run. Its immediate problem, however, is U.S. power, so anything that distracts the United States is beneficial to the Islamic State”.

America is not going to use its military power on large scale. It plans to achieve its goals at the expense of regional allies. Turkey and Romania are two key relationships.

The article is cognitive for those who try to understand the US policy towards Russia. One thesis is delusive. The Islamic State is painted as a US enemy that America wages a fierce fight against. In reality the Islamic State is a valuable ally of the United States, the country which is pursuing the goal of converting the Middle East into a large hotbed hit by chaos to spread on Europe, Russia, China and other regions of the United States’ choice.

The Islamic State is too special to openly talk about as a strategic ally. American public opinion would not reconcile with the fact that the US government and special services rub shoulders with thugs. That’s why the Islamic State is declared war on. The America’s actions are painted as a real crusade. But all this empty talk aside, the operation conducted against the Islamic State closely resembles the strange war waged between UK-French forces and Germany in 1939-1940.

Starting from August 8 the US aviation has been striking the Islamic State in Iraq. On September 23 the first strike was delivered against the radicals’ positions in Syria. According to Thomas Donnelly, a defense and security policy analyst of American Enterprise Institute, who wrote More Strikes in Syria Expected? published by the Weekly Standard, an air phase is absolutely not enough. The United States has been involved in Iraq for more than ten years. It just cannot watch the advance of militants without lifting a finger. If it does it would surely lose the face. Air bombing is the least thing it can do to pretend it defends Iraq from terrorists.

Moreover, Friedman says the combination of air power with special operations forces will not lead to elimination of the Islamic State or divisions inside the group. President Obama has said the United States would not have boots on the ground, it means somebody else will have to send ground forces. Iran appears to be a natural ally. But if it will become a warring party and act in the US interests, it would be logical to link such an involvement with other controversial matters affecting the US-Iranian relations. The nuclear program and lifting sanctions top the list of burning issues. The short meeting between US State Secretary John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the sidelines of United Nations General Assembly in New York made the United States government come under harsh criticism, especially from neo-cons. It all leads to conclusion that, no matter all the atrocities committed by the Islamic State, the Obama administration finds the Islamic State at least a lesser evil than Iran. At most it can treat it as an ally behind the scenes.

Chechen al Qaeda Commander Omar al-Shishani
Chechen al Qaeda Commander Omar al-Shishani

With the US watching the situation evolve in Ukraine and Iraq-Syria the Islamic State may gradually move to the Northern Caucasus making come to surface the underground forces there and opening a new front. Friedman mentions such a possibility though he hangs the blame on Russia saying it may intervene in the Caucasus. The Islamic States has already declared Russia as its main enemy. One of the group’s leaders – Omar al Shishani – is an ethnic Chechen.

At the very beginning of “Russian spring” Dmitry Yarosh, the leader of Pravy Sector, called on Doku Umarov, the head of Imarat Kavkaz (The Caucasus Emirate) to join together in the fight against Russia. It was absurd taking into consideration that Doku Umarov had died two months before the appeal. George Friedman expresses the opinion of those in the United States who decided to unleash a world war and it’s not absurd. It’s a reality to reckon with.

Source Strategic Culture Foundation

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