Muna Al Fuzai

Will the Arab and Gulf region witness a devastating new war? This is the most important question that many analysts are racing to write about and discuss. A lot of people have turned into analysts, thinkers and predictors of the future of the Gulf countries. They are acting according to their sources, faith and wishes. Indeed, things seem mixed up with them and others. This article will shed light on what is happening now and its fallout on the future in light of the accelerated geopolitical changes due to the alteration in the decision-making process. I believe that only a very small circle knows for sure what will happen in the next few hours – others are mere spectators.

Arabs do not read history – I do not know exactly who said this, but the fact is that many Arabs are dealing with political events as a media story without looking into their sources and history, because not every statement is real or inevitable. An example of this is a statement by the former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in an interview with a newspaper in the US. He said “the Third World War is at hand”.

These words made the headlines of several Arab newspapers. Many supporters of a war in the region applauded these words for various reasons – some of them for sectarian purposes, while others for economic and personal wishes and fantasies. But why do some believe that a world war is inevitable soon?

The problem is that things on the ground in the Arab region are not promising. For example, the war in Yemen, the armed conflict with the Houthis, the heated differences with Hezbollah, etc fuel the extreme religious divide between Sunnis and Shiites or other religions. The intensification of sectarianism has negative outcomes on the region in the presence of multiple media channels that have their supporters and financiers. It’s like a wrestling championship and everyone has an audience clapping for them, but the knockout blow is expensive and deadly.

Conflicts here undoubtedly affect the stability of the region in the short and long term, especially with the continuation of the crisis with Qatar, although the severance of relations will not lead to a war, despite the darkness of the situation and its malaise. The dispute with Qatar is a bad indicator of the ineffectiveness of the Gulf Cooperation Council, but it cannot be a reason for a world war here. I believe that instability can lead to the transfer of capital from one country to another more secure and stable location and the emergence of new industries, as well as new investments in weapons, and this does not seem encouraging to the countries of the region or its people.

The other confusing element for thinkers and observers is the strategic transformation in Saudi policy, including the internal one. Decisions by Saudi Arabia to arrest government officials and businessmen recently on corruption charges have become a matter of daily talk on US channels, sometimes with a clear lack of understanding of the Middle East and its past. Some US statements, for example, are fearful, hasty and ignorant, only to contradict the US’ presidency, management and relationship with Saudi Arabia.

One of the Americans described Saudi Arabia as being involved in upsetting the status quo throughout the region. But, I can claim the same about the US foreign policy that has been upsetting many people and countries for quite a long time, and even recently, when it dropped out of climate change agreement. The United States to a considerable degree is complicit in this chaos around the world. I believe that Arabs are not familiar with the speedy radical change in the process of decision making and new leadership. I am happy for this.

It is evident that the role and influence of non-governmental organizations such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen and IS in Syria and Iraq is increasing. They control large areas of land in a contested jostle for power, influence and support from different countries. Continuing armed conflicts without engaging in major wars and confrontations is a possible scenario.

I don’t see the area is moving towards a world war, but the continuation of an armed conflict is likely to occur. My concern is that such events will have impacts on the area on all levels. If there is a tip to be said here – inner security of countries is essential. Security control of internal movements of extremists and contacts with foreign organizations should be tightened.

By Muna Al-Fuzai