Размеры российско-американской конкуренции в странах Кавказского региона
Автор: Фадия Аббас Хади
Рубрика: Мировая биоэкономика и экополитика
Опубликовано в Биоэкономика и экобиополитика №1 (2) сентябрь 2016 г.
Дата публикации: 07.09.2016
Статья просмотрена: 5 раз
Фадия А. Х. Размеры российско-американской конкуренции в странах Кавказского региона // Биоэкономика и экобиополитика. 2016. №1. С. 19-24.
В статье представлено исследование вопросов российско-американских геополитических отношений в странах кавказского региона по 2 направлениям:
1)Американский политический аспект в странах Кавказского региона (в рамках стратегии национальной безопасности для американской гегемонии в Кавказском регионе);
2)Политическое давление России на страны Кавказского региона (геополитический подход России в постсоветский период).
Ключевые слова:страны Северо-Кавказского региона, политика США, политика России.
Dimensions of Russian-American Competition in the Countries of the Caucasus Region
Fadya abass hadi,
PhD student, Cairo university, faculty of economics and political science,department of political science
Study the political dimension of the Russian American competition over the countries of the Caucasus region by dividing it into two sections:
First Section: The American political dimension in the countries of the Caucasus region (as part of the national security strategies for American hegemony in the Caucasus region.
Second Section: The Russian political dimension in the countries of the Caucasus region (Russian policy approach after the dissolution of the Soviet Union)
Keywords:Caucasus countries, US policy, Russian policy.
First Section: The American political dimension in the countries of the Caucasus region (as part of the national security strategies for American hegemony in the Caucasus region)
The dissolution of the Soviet Union and the independence of the countries that were under its political and ideological umbrella led the United States to fill this strategic and ideological gap and to implement its plans in that area through which it can extend its control and hegemony in the Caucasus region and keep Russia away.
During the mandate of the former American president (Bill Clinton), a document that was prepared in the office of Paul Wolfowitz, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Defense for Policy at that time, was leaked to the press in March 1992. This was the first document to be issued after the end of the Cold war and it said that “The United States’ sole political interest should be to prevent the emergence of any competitor on the plane. This interest requires the United States to stop any opposed state (or force) from having any control over any are while trying to convince other not to one day aspire for a greater role. This goes for both friends and enemies.”
The Caucasus region, which is along the Arabian Gulf region, is of a geo-graphic importance to the United States of America. In Zbigniew Brzezinski’s point of view, the Former National Security Adviser, the Caucasus region is located within the so-called “grand chessboard”.
Brzezinski believes, in writing The Grand Chessboard, that American hegemony is based on the cautious intervention in the areas of the independent states from the Soviet Union which, due to their natural wealth have a geopolitical importance that cannot be ignored by the powers that seek to exercise a global political, economic, and military influence. Therefore, the Caucasus region forms a geostrategic axis as its geographical location represents / acts as a surveillance and a conduit towards the areas of important resources. Besides, it is also located on the crossroads for Russia to the north, Iran to the south, Turkey to the west and the Caspian Sea to the east.
The endorsement of the US National Security Strategy which took place in 1992 is part of the US concept of international changes. It was prepared in collaboration with the US National Security Council which confirmed that the United States should do everything to deter any potential adversary against the advanced industrial countries in the world, that tries to challenge the hegemony of the United States so as not to have a great hope for a bigger role either on the global or the regional scale.
In 1995, during the reign of the former US President Bill Clinton, the same was approved by the National Security Strategy which emphasized the need for achieving international cooperation in order to meet the challenges of the system. Accordingly, the US administration chose the terms “engagement and enlargement” as a slogan for national security and to guarantee the security of the United States in this new era. This engagement took a selective form that focuses on the international issues that threaten or even affect US security, and in return, it expands in democratic societies and in the market economy of the countries that emerged in the new international order.
In that sense, it was confirmed in the report of the US Department of Defense, which was published in October 1999, that “Washington was viewing the former Soviet Union countries as a source of concern and fear during the days of the Soviet Union, but this changed now after the independence of its republics as it now receives close attention in American strategic thought which is centered on the flow of oil to the United States without military confrontation with the former Soviet Bloc. This is especially true with the American’s growing interest in accessing vital resources such as oil, oil-rich sites, and its pipelines.” Further, the United States believes in the necessity of proximity to the countries of the Caucasus region to monitor the growth of Russia and keep Iran away from the countries in the region.
On the one hand, the national security strategy for the administration of the former US president George W. Bush witnessed two aspects of the strategic application forms, during his two terms of December 2002 and March 2006. Both revolved around the issue of terrorism which enabled the US to conduct war against any enemy. The American administration decided after the events of September 11, 2001—which turned the balance of confrontation of the post-cold war in which there was confrontation and conflict between two superpowers both forming a threat to one another—to change in the logic of threat. Meaning, the small and weak countries became the major source of danger. The US administration considered that the use of military force is the most effective tool to counter any potential enemy, whether they are states, individuals, or organizations that would disrupt the march of the American hegemony in the international order. This is reflected in the occupation of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, as well as the global campaign against terrorism to drain its resources.
On the other hand, the first national security strategy, during the reign of Obama, was issued in 2010. It clearly stated the details of the strategic vision of the US administration to the security of the United States. It’s a vision that draws from all the elements of national power to guarantee US interests. It also aims at following a manifold approach to engage and collaborate with external partners. According to this document, the global leadership of the United States will be used to follow a long list of American interests that are deployed in the world. At the top of this long list, there are fighting against terrorism and defending the homeland. This strategy clearly indicated the US needs to cooperate with the major countries and work with the United Nations, the G8 (the major industrialized eight states), the European Union, the Interpol, and the Financial Action Task Force, besides other regional and international bodies. Washington and its allies are “fighting networks with networks” which means that Washington diversifies its means of combating the different threats it receives without disrupting their efforts in confronting / facing the other threats.
Regarding the US national security strategy that was issued in February 2015, it called for carrying on leading wars against global terrorism, but it also asserted that it does not want to go down that route alone. Rather, it seeks to make these efforts internationally broad and able to continue. President Barack Obama said, in a statement accompanying the document, that “The United States is leading from a position of strength, but this does not mean we can or should attempt to dictate the trajectory of all unfolding events around the world.”
According to this approach, the United States sought to achieve its goals in the Caucasus region, by supporting the role of Turkey and Israel and to avoid direct confrontation with Russia and work to undermine and contain Russia's role and put pressure on the Iranian role in order to restrict its movements and interventions toward the countries of the Caucasus region. Thus, the US strategy takes two forms:
- The Containment of Russia:
During the Cold War Period, the US policy was formed according to the principle of containment, which was founded by the American diplomat George Kennan. The aim of this principle is to besiege the Soviet Union, given that it was the main political rival of the United States after World War II.
But after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the United States aimed at being on the top of the international system. The US Department of Defense (Pentagon) announced its strategies that were utilized to contain the rise of any great powerful rival. The policy of containment was again practiced against Russia and its target was to reduce the influence of Russia on the commonwealth of independent states to the minimum, keep it away from warm seas, as well as preventing it from getting on the corridors to these seas. In addition, it sought to deprive Russia of its properties in the countries that have gained independence, including the Caucasus and Central Asia, and also of its resources of oil, gas and the corridors in which its oil pipelines pass. In other words, there is an exact resemblance between that enclosure and the one that took place in the fifties of the twentieth century.
Russia was still a source of concern for the west even after its disintegration. The former US secretary of State Condoleezza Rice referred to that when she said “Russia represents a threat to the west in general.” The policy of containment aims at achieving the following:
- Working toward the dissolution of Russia, which can be accelerated by inciting tendencies of independence in the Caucasus.
- Maintaining a degree of tension in US relations with Russia, in order to prevent a rapprochement between Europe and Russia, by maintaining the inherited contradiction from the Cold War for the longest time possible.
- Spreading the conviction thatit is not possible for Russia to regain the status of the Soviet Union, because of the deteriorating economic conditions, and thus the United States utilized three methods in order to reduce Russia's role in the Caucasus which are:
- Strengthening the military concentration of NATO forces in military bases in Afghanistan, to serve as a springboard station for strengthening the strategic and military ties with Azerbaijan and Georgia.
- Supporting revolutions and coups to displace the regimes that are loyal to Russia, such as what happened in Georgia in 2003, the United States provided political and economic support under the pretext of converting Systems of Independent States from the Soviet Union, to the liberal Western model, which was a strategic asset to the United States.
- The United States’ declaration, in 2007, of its intention to set up a US missile shield project in eastern Europe, under the pretext of repelling missiles that could be fired by North Korea or Iran, to Europe or the United States. Russia has seen that this project is a US advanced step in the policy of containing Russia.
The events that took place on the 11th of September, 2001 were regarded as a turning point and a means for accelerating US entry into the Caucasus region. It also granted the United States several helping factors that aided completing the containment of Russia in the southern wing, narrowing the Iranian crawl to the Caucasus and replacing it with US influence which was crystalized in the establishment of military bases, and strengthening its military presence in this region. The United States entered, with its military strength, Central Asia to achieve the larger goal of encircling Russia and reversing its desire to return.
2. Enclosure and Containment of the Iranian Role:
On the one hand, Iran shares borders with the Caucasus countries: northern Iran and the Northeast. On the other hand, Iran shares the shore of the Caspian Sea with Russia and Azerbaijan, which is the greatest salty and closed lake, as well as the availability of oil reserves in its seabed. This resulted in the acceleration of the Iranian crawl toward the Caucasus countries in a way that was not approved by the United States.
The US containment policy toward Iran was supported by both Turkey and Israel, especially Turkey as it offers a secular model instead of Iran’s extremist model, which would certainly attract the countries of the Caucasus region to the US.
Within this framework, an American strategic plan was developed to call for the creation of a geopolitical ring around Russia and Iran to undermine their influence in this region. The containment policy aimed at preventing the establishment of any strategic alliance between the three regional powers: Russia, China, and Iran.
Second Section:The Russian political dimension in the countries of the Caucasus region (Russian policy approach after the dissolution of the Soviet Union)
The dissolution of the Soviet Union led to turbulence in the nature of the direction that Russia would have taken in order to be able to promote the political, economic, and social reality in Russia.
The challenges of the post-Cold War period forced Russia to retreat inwardly and to redefine its national interest, and then to determine the priorities of the dimensions of its foreign policy, which is represented in two phases:
1)Heading to the West:
When Mikhail Gorbachev became the leader of the Soviet Union in 1985, he took, the Soviets were optimistic about his ability to shoulder the responsibility of advancing the Soviet Union, with his youthful ability and his intellectual arguments that were completely away from any ideological extremism. However, he turned out to be one of the reasons that led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union from the inside, in addition to factors external.
Western orientation got clearer and on this basis the “Russian-US cooperation” agreement was signed in February 1992 between the former Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the former US President George Bush in which they agreed on the Charter for American-Russian Partnership and Friendship. This document helped pushing the US-Russian relations to wider horizons and speeding up Russia’s accession to western economic and political institutions.
The same was done by the countries in the Caucasus region after it separated from the Soviet Union as it went into alliance with the West, particularly the United States. In Georgia, which is regarded as the first Caucasian country that declared its independence, there are the NATO’s US- led forces under the slogan of peacekeeping. Georgia benefited economically from this link with the West and from the presence of the US on its soil through increasing the investments of transcontinental companies, which raised effectiveness of the Georgian economy. This is beside the US support and insistence on constructing a pipeline to transport Azeri oil through the Georgian territory, which has financial benefits from passage and oil transportation revenues.
Concerning Azerbaijan, its former communist President Heydar Aliyev presented himself as an ally of the West and a sincere supporter of democracy and human rights. His son Alham Aliyev, who succeeded him, followed the same footsteps of his father. Consequently, The US oil companies joined Azerbaijan with the aim of investment which increased its importance to the United States of American.
As for Armenia, the ongoing conflict with Azerbaijan on the province of Nagorno-Karabakh and its historic enmity with Turkey oriented it to the West for protection from its neighbors, with its aspirations for Western aid.
This Caucasian welcome and acceptance of the American intervention were accompanied by a clear deterioration in the conditions of Russia and a decline in its international standing. This resulted in allowing the United States to penetrate the regions of the former Russian influence politically, economically, and militarily in order to isolate them from Russia.
This situation did not last for long. As 1992 ended, some changes emerged and prompted Russia to reconsider its relations with the West, namely:
1.Opposing the Russian Communist Party and the national parties of the former Russian President Yeltsin that weakened the position of Russia.
2.Russia realizing that its relation with the west did not actually solve its political and economic crisis.
3.The emergence of changes in the countries that gained their independence from the Soviet Union which prompted Russia to reconsider its foreign policy. These changes are represented by the breakout of the Turkish-Iranian competition for the countries that gained independence which threatened the Russian interests in its critical area. Therefore, the role of Russia in the international arena has become more compatible with its interests, rather than walking in the footsteps of the west and catching up with it.
2. The Restoration of the Soviet Tradition (Orientation toward Eurasia)
From the legal and political point of view, Russia has inherited the standing of the Soviet Union without having the Soviet power except for the remaining military and economic power within Russia's geographical context, and the rest were distributed among the countries that gained independence. However, this dissolution did not discourage the Russian administration from searching for a role for itself despite the obscurity and blurriness of the internal situation inherited from the Soviet Union.
After Russia’s failure in achieving balanced and beneficial relations, some calls emerged urging it to head to its neighbors who are under the umbrella of the Soviet Union, and which was called “The Near Abroad” in Russian political literature.
The Russian National Security Strategy issued in 1993 emphasized the local and regional dangers and threats to Russian security, which result from separatist movements, the internal conflicts of some CIS countries to belong to Western institutions such as NATO and the European Union. Further, threats are also represented by the vulnerability of the citizens and interests of Russia, that would result from the turmoil and unrest that can happen between the CIS countries. Given this nationalist view of security and interests, the military has specified the targets of Russia which is to be oriented to Eurasia, through the following:
1.Defending Russia's security against the odds of the arrival of NATO to its international borders.
2.Protecting the political and the constitutional order of the country.
3.Facing nationalist and separatist tendencies within the Russian Federation.
4.Maintaining the security and stability of the independent commonwealth countries and prevent any independent orientations.
5.Protecting Russian minorities within the Commonwealth of Nations from the expected unrest within the areas of their presence.
The Russian understanding of the importance of the restoration of its position as a major country and orientation to develop and strengthen relations with the neighboring countries was met with public acceptance and welcoming. Its results were crystalized in the Russian parliamentary elections in 1996, with the rise of the new communist party headed by Zhiganov and the National Party led by Girenovski to the Council of the new parliament, the Duma. These two parties have demanded addressing the interests of Russia, maintaining its position, rejecting US hegemony on the international system, and working on Russia’s participation in a multi-polar international political system.
This was accompanied by the appointment of Yevgeny Primakov in the Russian Foreign Ministry from the 1996- 1998, as he worked on developing a new foreign policy that is far from the subservience to the West, and is based on several principles that later on came to be known as the Primakov principles in the Russian foreign policy, which included:
1.Opposing the NATO’s expansion and deploy more nuclear weapons near the Russian borders. He also focused on the importance of Russia's neighboring areas, which are known to be rich especially the Caucasus and the Middle East.
2.Urging the Russian government to intervene in these areas, which are considered unstable areas, to prevent the extension of regional conflicts to the southern border regions of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
3.Calling for the establishment of a global system based on multi-polarity. He even called for establishing Eurasia’s alliance between Russia, China and India to be a strategic triangle equivalent to the US force.
The rise of Russian President Vladimir Putin to power deepened the Eurasian orientation. He pointed out this out by saying “Russia will never turn into a second edition of the United States or Great Britain. For the Russians, the strong state does not represent an anomaly that should be eliminated, but quite the contrary; they see it as a guarantor of the regime and the driving force essential to any change.”
In June 2000, Putin presented several principles of the Russian foreign policy, which later came to be known as the Putin Principle and it included the following:
1.Focusing on the internal reform program, but not at the expense of foreign policy.
2. Working on the development of Russia's role in a multipolar world which is not subject to the hegemony of one superpower.
3. Working on restoring Russia's role in Asia and the Middle East gradually, while not allowing the West to marginalize Russia's role in international relations.
4. Supporting the interdependence between the former Soviet Union against the NATO expansion to protect its primary area of defense.
5. Russian opposition to the unipolar system doesn’t eliminate its work with Washington in the cases of controlling armament, human rights and the fight against terrorism.
6. Strengthening Russia's relations with India, China, Japan, and Kazakhstan to support the security environment in the East and balance the American power to create a multi-polar world order.
Putin’s principles have deepened the features of the Eurasian orientation. It even considered that the best relations are those that it has with its neighbors only if Russia acted in accordance with that integration with the near abroad countries (former Soviet sphere countries) and its neighboring Iran, Turkey, China, and Japan.
The appointment of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev as President (succeeding Putin for the period 2008–2012) did not cause any change in the Putinism approach which aims at having an effective Russian role in the international arena.
Therefore, Russia seeks, through its orientation toward Eurasia, to contain the conflicts and border disputes. In addition, there are threats to Russian national security which are represented by illegal immigration, religious fundamentalism and organized crime, drugs, terrorism and corruption. They all urged Russian policies to be further oriented to the countries in its critical area and work to contain it within the framework of economic, military and political organizations.
Conclusion: We conclude from the above, that the US strategy toward the countries of the Caucasus region is part of the project of the US exclusivity in the international arena. It is meant to devote the unipolar system through its entry into the region openly and explicitly which makes it in a close and direct contact with the international and regional forces that reject the policy of US exclusivity. The United States is looking forward to containing Russia on the one hand and also to preventing Iran's influence from the south in order not to be able to access and control the countries of the region. It also seeks to replace that US support for an Israeli-Turkish advancement, which would be an obstacle in front of the Iranian orientation and contentious with them, and that's what intersects with the Russian policy which rejects any international intervention or regional in its critical area countries, especially that Russia sees in the US approach to countries in the region the formation of a ring that would restrict the Russian movement and would again take control over its critical area. These countries’ stability and security lead to Russia’s security. On the other hand, Russia is looking to strongly be back as a cornerstone of the international system, which is based on pluralism, not unilateralism.
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2. Perkovich, G., Acton, J.M., April 14, 2010. Beyond U. S.-Russia Arms Control: Multilateral Reductions and the ‘Low Numbers’ Problem, Carnegie Endowment.