Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world was facing an event that changed the balance of power in the Middle East, i.e. the Gulf War, where the Gulf region turned into a purely American sphere of influence after Saddam Hussein’s occupation of Kuwait in 1990 and his threat to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As a result, an international coalition was formed to protect the Gulf states and remove Iraq as a regional power in the region. The American position prior to the occupation was that it had no opinion on the intra-Arab conflict. It was a trap set by the United States for Iraq to get rid of it as a regional power. This scenario is very similar to what is happening in Ukraine, with a significant difference between Iraq as a regional power, and Russia as a global power that has strong relations with many countries of the world.
It is no secret that there is a “cold war” between Russia, which aspires to have a role in the world order, and the West, which refuses to bring about any change in the global system, the “unipolar policy”. Putin took advantage of international and regional crises in Syria, Libya, Egypt, Armenia, Kazakhstan and signed economic and military deals with a number of countries such as Turkey, India, China and the Gulf states to serve Russia’s interests. The failure of the West in those crises was accompanied by the American withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq and even the partial withdrawal from Syria and the deterioration of American relations with its allies and partners. All this gave Putin a strong impetus to carry out a military operation on Ukraine, especially after the NATO announced its refusal to intervene militarily in Ukraine. With growing Russian concerns about NATO’s eastward expansion and Ukraine’s desire to join the NATO, Putin declared war on Ukraine. With the declaration of war, the West started to impose sanctions on Moscow which accompanied with varying positions due to its economic interests with Moscow. However, highlighting the risks of a possible Russian invasion of Eastern Europe, the NATO countries, and the escalation of the Russian-Ukrainian war by the US and Britain, and that the alternative is to impose sanctions on Moscow is to risk starting a third world war, made many countries join the sanctions imposed on Russia and the severity of the sanctions intensified, where the West began to form a semi-unified bloc against Russia, and the NATO, especially the US, began to increase its forces in Eastern Europe under the pretext of protecting its allies from a Russian invasion. This is what happened with the Arab Gulf states when they requested protection from the US and the formation of an international coalition, and as a result, the size of the American forces and their bases in the Gulf increased.
Putin did not expect such huge sanctions and cohesion by the West, and this is what put Moscow in a great predicament, which prompted Russia to put the “deterrence force” in the Russian army on alert, a force that includes a nuclear component, accusing the West of taking “aggressive” positions towards it. The Western sanctions against Russia are not only because Russia launched a war on Ukraine, but also in its emergence as a global power, due to the growth of its military power, its possession of great influence in the global market, and its effects on Europe. Thus, Ukraine was a trap that Russia was forced to fall into, to neutralize it as a competitor to the West. In order for Russia to get out of this predicament, it depends on its ability to withstand pressure and prevent the increase of the sanctions’ influence on the Russian interior. It must also depend on its ability to directly influence the economies of Western countries, especially in the field of energy, which will be reflected on all other sectors. This is not related to the Russian side only, but to its allies and friends and the extent to which they stand by it, such as China, North Korea, Venezuela, Iran and even Turkey. Russia had warned the West that it was preparing a wide-range response to the sanctions that would be rapid and effective, and would affect the most important sectors. So, as the US fears the rise in energy prices and its negative repercussions on its allies’ positions on the sanctions imposed on Russia, and as a proactive step, it is trying to neutralize Russia’s allies and friends so that it succeeds in isolating Russia internationally and increasing the impact of sanctions on it. The visit of a delegation from the US to Venezuela announcing the approaching conclusion of a nuclear deal with Iran, and the West’s demand for China to determine its position on the Russian-Ukrainian war so that Western sanctions would not affect it falls within this context.
The winner in this war is the one who withstands economic pressures, and whoever falls first is the loser before sitting at the negotiating table. Therefore, it is not related to the war in its military sense, but to its economic concept, because the duration of the Russian-Ukrainian war will be prolonged, because the two sides have not yet wanted to find solutions. Instead, Western military support for Ukraine will only increase over time. Even if a meeting took place between Putin and Zelensky and a breakthrough in the negotiations occurred, it is not enough unless sanctions against Russia are lifted. It seems that Western sanctions will continue and the scope of the confrontations may expand if Russia’s allies are neutralized, and their spark may reach Syria when the West asks Turkey to determine its position on the Russian-Ukrainian war and to stand by it against Russia in enabling sanctions against Russia, which Turkey fears because it will be forced to stand to the side of the West. Then Russia will not stand idly by and may carry out a major military operation in Idlib in response to the Turkish position, and will ignore the American warnings regarding Idlib. Here, Turkey, a member of NATO, will be facing the Russian military machine, as it has its bases in Idlib. The Western position will be similar to what is happening in Ukraine, which is not to engage in the war, and it will only support Turkey militarily to confront Russia, under the pretext of fearing the outbreak of a third world war. Consequently, the world will be facing a third world war by proxy, which was confirmed by Abdullah Ocalan in his assessment of the brutal wars taking place in the Middle East: “There is a fact which indicates that the Middle East is witnessing a third world war in its own, but this war has characteristics different from the classical military and political dimensions.”