Impact sur les enjeux et les incertitudes

? U.S. decisions and actions regarding the region and notably Syria; Turkey’s perceptions and consequent actions regarding the region and notably the Peace settlement in Syria; Hezbollah’s perception of threat to survival (incertitudes)

(par rapport aux précédents rapports signal)  (conflit au Yémen) Perception saoudienne de l'expansion iranienne et de la menace qui en résulte

Déstabilisation du Liban
(according to Israel’s military interview) L'influence du Hezbollah au Liban

➘ ➃ Conflit au Yémen : perspectives d'un début de déconflit

La guerre en Syrie
Des négociations diplomatiques difficiles pour la paix en Syrie

(par rapport aux précédents rapports signal) L'Iran actualise le croissant chiite vers la mer Méditerranée
 (par rapport aux précédents rapports signal) Influence de l'Iran
➘ une nouvelle expansion de l'influence iranienne (en supposant que l'Iran le souhaite)

 (par rapport aux précédents rapports signal) Menace pour Israël

➘➘  (par rapport aux précédents rapports signal) Tension au Moyen-Orient

L'influence de la Chine dans la région et dans le monde
➙ ? (par rapport aux précédents rapports signal) L'influence de la Russie
➙ ? (par rapport aux précédents rapports signal) L'influence américaine
  (par rapport aux précédents rapports signal) L'influence de la France

Un nouvel état des lieux se dessine au Moyen-Orient, qui redessine la toile d'influence régionale, suite à la victoire militaire sur l'État islamique en Irak et en Syrie et aux négociations concomitantes et connexes pour la fin de la guerre en Syrie. Au niveau mondial, le jockeys qui se déroule actuellement au Moyen-Orient et ses résultats auront également des conséquences car ils auront un impact sur la perception des acteurs mondiaux, ainsi que sur l'influence et donc les capacités.

A la mi-novembre 2017, l'Iran semble avoir atteint son objectif d'établir un croissant chiite de l'Iran à la mer Méditerranée. De plus, l'Iran semble maintenant avoir réussi à devenir une puissance régionale majeure, voire la plus influente. La Russie a affirmé sa position de grande puissance au Moyen-Orient, tandis que les États-Unis ont vu leur influence s'effriter, notamment en Irak, un processus entamé sous la présidence Obama.

La situation continue d'évoluer alors que les différents pays de la région, ici l'Arabie Saoudite et Israël, agissent pour que leurs intérêts soient au minimum pris en compte et protégés, et au mieux pour essayer de tourner l'état actuel des choses à leur avantage. En attendant, la Chine, en tant que grande puissance mondiale montante, voire superpuissance, entre également en lice.

Dans ce cadre, le 16 novembre 2017, trois importantes “diplomatic events” a eu lieu (voir les sources ci-dessous).

First Chinese President Xi Jinping and King Salman of Saudi Arabia discussed over the phone. Xi Jinping stressed that “China’s determination to deepen strategic cooperation with Saudi Arabia will not waver, no matter how the international and regional situation alters”. The Chinese President also added that “China supports Saudi Arabia’s efforts to safeguard national sovereignty and realize greater development.” Considering China’s good relations with Iran, this is a strong Chinese statement that assures Saudi Arabia that China will not take side even though the regional situation were to escalate further. The Chinese statement may even be read as a warning to Iran not to  threaten Saudi Arabia’s national sovereignty. In that, China may be seen as a stabilizing actor in the region. Both Iran and Saudi Arabia are indeed crucial to China, not only in the framework of its Belt and Road initiative, but also and relatedly as energy suppliers, to say nothing of the highly probable willingness to dethrone the USD as the supreme global currency (see forthcoming 20 November article on the Petrodollars system).

Meanwhile, Israeli chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot gave “an unprecedented interview to Saudi newspaper” Elaph (Haaretz see below). Unsurprisingly, Eisenkot labelled there Iran the “real and largest threat to the region”, stressed that “Iran seeks to take control of the Middle East, creating a Shi’ite crescent from Lebanon to Iran and then from the [Persian] Gulf to the Red Sea”, and that “We must prevent this from happening”. He welcomed the new Trump Presidency’s policy in the region, underlining that “The United States is trying to strengthen and support the moderate Sunni axis in the region without bringing in [American] troops or fighting on the ground.”

Practically, Eisenkot stated that “We [Israel] are willing to exchange information with moderate Arab countries, including intelligence information in order to deal with Iran.”

Yet, he also set limits to what Israel was willing to do. Israel did not intent to initiate a conflict in Lebanon against the Hezbollah, while he “cautioned … that local flare-ups could “lead to a broad strategic conflict.” He then pointed out a weakening of the Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Then, Eisenkot re-emphasised that Israel had a “long-term policy not to get involved in the Syrian conflict”… as long as there was no “attempt to harm our Druze brothers”. He reiterated Israel’s demands regarding the need for the Hezbollah and Iran to leave Syria, stressing that “we will not accept Iranian consolidation in Syria in general, and their concentration west of the Damascus – Sweida Road [about 50 kilometers from the Israeli border on the Golan Heights]. We will not allow any Iranian presence, we have warned them against building factories or military bases and we will not allow it.”

Eisenkot statements are, among others, an official and public response to the Saudi highly possible intent to stop Iran and act against the Hezbollah, as expressed by Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir in an interview with Reuter. There, Jubeir stressed that “(The Iranians) are the ones who are acting in an aggressive manner. We are reacting to that aggression and saying: ‘Enough is enough. We’re not going to let you do this anymore’.” He added, as summarized by Reuters, that “Saudi Arabia was consulting its allies about what leverage to use against Lebanese Shi‘ite group Hezbollah — an Iranian ally — to end its dominance in the small Mediterranean nation and intervention in other countries.”

Lebanon, considering Israel’s statement, however, does not appear as a realistic theatre of operations to stop or check Iran’s influence. Israel even seems to suggest a kind of laissez-faire, that would appease the situation there. If the Saudis pay heed to Israel, considering too previous developments in the Lebanese crisis (see previous signal), l'Iran ne semblant pas avoir jusqu'à présent versé de l'huile sur le feu, il est probable que la situation se tasse au Liban.

In Syria, considering the state of play on the ground (see map below), it continues to be difficult to see “anti-Iranian influence” actions other than tough peace negotiations being endeavoured, except if the U.S. were willing to change enemy, which does not appear as likely. Yet not likely does not mean impossible.

Remains Yemen, where China’s position added to Israel willingness to share information could act as a stabilising influence on the conflict, without, of course, forgetting to consider the willingness of the local actors.

Ainsi, ce qui semble émerger est un Moyen-Orient stabilisé, avec une influence iranienne plus forte, qui serait tenue en échec par les puissances mondiales.

Le sentiment potentiel de menaces et de dangers pour la survie ressenti par le Hezbollah doit également être surveillé de près car il peut engendrer une plus grande instabilité.

The way the Syrian conflict will be settled and if it is at all settled, as Turkey’s interest must also not be forgotten, will probably prove key.

 

Xi commits unwavering cooperation in phone call with Saudi king Salman – Global Times

China’s determination to deepen strategic cooperation with Saudi Arabia will not waver, no matter how the international and regional situation alters, Chinese President Xi Jinping told Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in his phone conversation with the ruler Thursday.

Israeli military chief gives unprecedented interview to Saudi media: ‘Iran is biggest threat to Mideast’

In an unprecedented move, a Saudi newspaper on Thursday published an interview with the Israeli military chief, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot. This is the first time that an Israeli chief of staff is interviewed by a media outlet in the kingdom, which doesn’t have diplomatic ties with Israel.

Saudi foreign minister tells Iran: “enough is enough”

RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir said on Thursday the kingdom’s actions in the Middle East were a response to what he called Iranian aggression, and hinted at future action against Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Long-standing arch-rivals, Riyadh and Tehran are waging a contest for power on several fronts across the region, notably in Yemen and Lebanon.

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Publié par Dr Helene Lavoix (MSc PhD Lond)

Dr Hélène LavoixPh. D. Lond (relations internationales), est la présidente-directrice générale de The Red Team Analysis Society. Elle est spécialisée dans la prospective stratégique et l'alerte pour les relations internationales et les questions de sécurité nationale et internationale. Elle s'intéresse actuellement à la guerre en Ukraine, à l'ordre international et à la montée de la Chine, au dépassement des frontières planétaires et aux relations internationales, à la méthodologie de la SF&W, à la radicalisation ainsi qu'aux nouvelles technologies et à la sécurité.

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