Yevgeny Satanovsky is President of the Institute of the Middle East.
By the middle of the second decade of the 21st century it has become clear that the world is moving towards a balance of power that was more typical of the 17th and 18th centuries, with the appropriate geopolitical adjustments. Western influence, with its possibilities and military capabilities, is decreasing, while the East and the South are rising.
With growing presence of China, India and Iran the composition of players and the alignment of forces in the Middle East in the 21st century will look more like that in the 17th century than the 20th. This fits in perfectly with the theory of historical cycles, although it may appear disappointing, if looked at from the positions of Paris, London, Brussels or Washington.
The engagement of external powers in the Middle East has failed to resolve any of the conflicts now tearing the region apart; the problems have been driven into the corner and may flare up again anytime after external pressures are gone.
Islamists do not wait for concessions from the Russian Federation, nor any other country they are fighting against. They simply want to destroy the country and its citizens: atheists and believers, Moslems and non-Moslems.
At a roundtable event in Moscow, top experts debated the “hypocritical” and “insincere” foreign policies of both Russia and the West in the post-Cold War era.
Vladimir Putin has mentioned several times that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a geopolitical mistake. Although these words were often interpreted as his desire to constitute that country, there is little reason to believe this.
The April 16 referendum will focus on power distribution rather than institution building. In other words, the organizers saw it as an opportunity to expand the President’s powers and allow him to rule longer. In their turn, Turks perceived it as an institutional choice to contribute to the development of the state.
If the larger picture defies prediction, the immediate future is scarcely more transparent. In the U.S. case, the known unknowns are numerous. They begin with the question of how much deck furniture Trump is willing to overturn in order to pursue an “America First” strategy.
In the wake of the For Fair Elections protest movement in Russia in 2011-2012, the Kremlin initiated a new strategy of state-society relations that was aimed at diminishing the propensity for protest in the next election cycle.
Belarus’ traditional structural dependence on Russia is increasing, and Minsk’s freedom of maneuver continues to shrink.