Russia and the Middle East
Sun, 24 march 2019Sun
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The intersection and interdependence of the ongoing conflicts

Dr. Alexander SHUMILIN, 
Director of the Center for the Greater Middle East conflicts

Most of the Major Powers with their usually extended ambitions have to define and project their attitude towards the ongoing outside conflicts. Such an attitude of each power on any conflict might be classified as an effective (Pro-Active) or a   hands-off one. And that depending on the ruling circles perception of the acuity and extent of the threat provided through the conflict to their own nations despite the geographic dimensions. But hardly any Power has capacity enough and is keen to be involved simultaneously into a number of conflicts militarily. Normally they are not only to prioritize the conflicts heeding the threat and their interests affected, but also to build an overwhelming conflict-strategy enabling the decision-makers to combine their tools and approaches in a way to gain maximum influence on the most sensitive conflicts making concessions in other cases. 

During the last decades weve been witnessing the local conflicts multiplying on the background of the strategic sustainability between the two major nuclear powers USA and Russia (plus China). We also see the nature of the conflicts has been transforming:  the open State-to-State clashes are getting rare while the internal rifts within one-state-borders are on the rise. So we have to deal with civil-war-type of conflicts with the dynamics of their spilling out of the national borders. The basis for such conflicts might be caused by the large variety of traditional reasons religious, ethnic, social, political differences etc. And this notwithstanding the fact whether the clashes were provoked by the internal dynamic or through the outside influence. The geography of this type of conflicts has been expanding as well from the traditionally turbulent areas (Middle East, Africa, Central Asia) to the traditionally more stable regions (Southern and Eastern Europe). The other type of conflicts is related to the non-state actors on the rise. Normally they are groups of terrorist-djihadis nature often capable to threaten some states in trouble. The third type of conflicts is being unleashed by the so-called hybrid warfare.  

The paper is to explore the factors and the reasons determining the decision-makers choices as to conflicts prioritizing and their strategies building in the todays world. Special focus is supposed to be made on Russias experience pertaining to the crisis over Ukraine, Syria and Yemen.  

One of the papers tasks is to explore and emphasize the difference in the perceptions and assessements of the conflicts by the ruling groups (military and political elites) in the democratic countries as opposed to the authoritarian states. That difference is the precursor and precondition to the decision-making pertaining to the conflict. The other task is supposed to be the study of interaction between the complex of domestic factors (social, demographic, religious, economic, civic etc) and the decision-making process as to the attitude to be taken towards an outside conflict.  Finally, the papers task is to focus on the reasons for the outside conflicts prioritizing by the ruling groups where some of the (minor) conflicts are usually being played out as asset to draw benefits (in economic or geopolitical terms) from the other (more significant) conflicts and crisis.   

The emphasis of the study is to be put on the specific behaviour of the Major Powers in the face of crisis situations in the world while underlining the common framework and paradigm for all of them as well as distinguishing between the democratic countries and the authoritarian states.