4 February 2010

Potential Conflict Zones in Eurasia: The End of a Historical Intermission

Raiding shepherd tribes is like a bear who destroys the bee hive while trying to steal from it. Oppenheimer uses this analogy while describing how people submit during state formation as transformation from bear to bee-master. No doubt, since Oppenheimer many new ideas have been added to theories of the state. However, none of them have described the contemporary age with such aptitude while presenting the birth of state.

At the end of the Cold War, contemporary models of the state were reduced to a single option. The state was proclaimed an endless ‘civitas diaboli.’ Society, on the other hand, was the eternal ‘civitas dei.’ However, the historical intermission that began with the end of the Cold War has come to an end. As the twentieth century began with the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, September 11 was the starting point of the twenty-first century, and it points to three fundamental changes that will determine the age’s ideological identity:

With the political activation of the Third World, the entire human race has become politically active for the first time.
The Far East is winning for itself the hegemony of the Atlantic World.
Global problems (climate change, hunger, poverty, insufficient resources, etc.) will trigger new polarizations.

Eurasia is the primary region where all of these things will be experienced, since this is the region where the powers that threaten US dominance over the oceans are rising. Low intensity and short term conflicts, the aftershocks of the New World Order, have been occurring in Eurasia. The pressure of Western bloc is causing an accumulation of energy in Central Asia and the Pacific. In these regions, low intensity and short term tremors will be experienced, but this time they will be forerunners.

We see that the work of Western strategists and scientists in particular focuses on Third World countries as potential conflict and war zones. However, it would be incorrect to say that Third World countries are the only communities at risk, with the potential transformation of this risk into crisis. Thus, warnings of some potential risk are to be found in every region and nation, and in certain regions these warnings have been intensifying as a function of regional and national economic, political, social and cultural indicators.

The shift of economic development to the East is a plain reality. The emergence of new markets implies new alliances and conflicts. The natural resource needs of the rapidly growing East have the potential to cause conflict between old and new powers. Competition for the control new markets has the potential to cause conflict between old powers. We may include ethnic problems and disagreements, some more than a hundred years old. Furthermore, the weaponization of space brings dangers that may mark the next ten years.

Beyond this general view, there are ten regions that have the potential for conflict due to their special structures.

I. The Polar Caps: Deep Fear

Humanity’s relationship with nature should be renegotiated in global sense, but for now a solid decision appears to be impossible. Regions have been changed by global climate change and in the next ten years forces seeking to control these regions will be brought into opposition. The first signs of this can already be seen.

The competition to exploit the natural resources of the earth’s crust has expanded to the most desolate places of the earth. Now the poles are being excavated. Climate warming has made it easier to excavate the rich reserves in the depth of ocean.

Russia, the US, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Norway are in opposition over the subject of the North Pole. These states have initiated military preparations along with the work of exploration and excavation being done underneath the thinning ice. Canada first responded to Russian initiatives in 2007 by mapping the sea bed. Furthermore, to protect its future interests in the polar region Canada continues to work on its deep water port and Arctic military training center. Russia, on the other hand, is preparing a military unit to be deployed to the North Pole. Thus, the Russian flag on the sea bed beneath the North Pole has turned the balance in the Arctic upside down. This situation is forcing the US to become party to the UN agreement concerning the poles.

The decision to protect the South Pole from plundering increases the appetite of technologically advanced states. The United Kingdom seems to be pursuing sovereignty over the South Pole. This causes Argentina to raise its voice over claims to Antarctica. The situation of Chile, Australia and New Zealand is no different from that of Argentina and the United Kingdom. Although these nations have obeyed international law until now, and have not chosen military challenge as a first option, preparations show that the South Pole is emerging as a possible conflict zone. The next ten years will pressed the US to ratify the UN agreement concerning the poles. The 1959 Antarctica Agreement that freezes all territorial claims and the 1991 Protocol will be opened for debate. Struggle in the diplomatic realm could lead, over time, to a military show of force, and light the fuse of a new Falklands war.

II. Balkans: The Smell of Blood

It has been 14 years since the signing of the Dayton Agreement ended the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which had claimed 250 thousand lives. Following this painful experience, the silence of the war-torn state caused world’s interest to decline. Bosnia-Herzegovina has been experiencing a deepening political depression since 1995.

The Dayton Agreement divided the country into the Bosnia and Herzegovina Federation and the Serbian Republic, was great for ending the war, but was a failure in state-building, as will soon be shown.

This is because the Dayton Agreement broke up the nation, rather than unifying it. Bosnian’s Serbs practically transformed the separate entity (autonomous region) provided for by the Dayton Agreement into a state structure, and openly work towards the dismemberment of Bosnia-Herzegovina, rather than its unification. In addition, when the Croats, the quietest of the nation’s three constituent groups, began to demand their own “entity” in the Bosnia and Herzegovina Federation, the possibility of disintegration or war began to be debated again.

Bosnian Serb politicians want an independence referendum for their region. Thus, they are blocking every decision that is necessary for the future of the state, rendering the system unworkable. Their immediate goal is the dismemberment of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and then unification with Serbia, establishing the Great Serbia.

This is why they want to get rid of the office of High Commissioner, the nation’s highest authority and the peace process observer. Since votes in Bosnia are cast according to ethnicity, this entity’s veto is an ethnic veto. The Serbs have vetoed 262 law and decisions since 1995.

The second significant problem concerns ownership of the nation’s properties. The Serbs want entities to have ownership of national property, with only a few buildings belonging to the federal state. Certainly, they want oil, mines, trees, and so forth to be wealth in common.

The international community has been pressing the parties to restructure their nation, especially its decision-making processes. The Butmir process, initiated by the EU and the US to reconcile the parties, has been unsuccessful. Bosnian Muslims have no trust in the EU, since the EU’s decision to offer Schengen visas to the citizens of Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia was perceived as a double standard by the Balkans’ Muslim states, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania and Kosovo.

After the independence of Kosovo, Serbs raised their voices to demand an independence referendum. The Dayton Agreement will expire soon, and establishing new mechanisms for resolution seems impossible. As the nation’s political crisis deepens Russia will be increasingly involved with the Serbian side. The UN peacekeeping force’s mandate is also expiring, and the deployment of a trustworthy and powerful peacekeeping mission may be blocked. In this case, Serbians could initiate armed clashes to force Bosnia’s government to allow their separation. The United States, which is focused on Afghanistan, Iraq and the economic crisis, would not be able to provide as much support as it did in the past. The European Army, on the other hand, has neither the strength nor the organization to prevent such conflict. Furthermore, any step the EU might take could be blocked by Greece in the name of “Orthodox Brotherhood.” Turkey, the brother of the Muslims in Balkans, will want to intervene by using its power in NATO. At any rate, Turkey has already intensified its diplomatic efforts on the issue. In the last three months of 2009, meetings and visits were held continuously at the level of Presidents, Prime Ministers and Ministers of Foreign Affairs. If Turkish diplomatic efforts yield no results, and armed clashes are again initiated, Ankara could justify action on behalf of the Muslims living in Western Thrace, in Greece. In this case, conflicts will create a wave that spans to the Black Sea.

III. The Baltic Region: Historical Trouble

For the Atlantic bloc, the security of Europe begins with the Baltic region. The key countries in the region appear to be Poland and Ukraine. The main reason behind their sharpening competition since 2004 is security strategy. Russia feels threatened and defenseless due to NATO expansion. Defending Russia’s western borders, with their vast steppes, seems impossibly difficult to Moscow in the current situation. For the defense of Moscow, the Russian line of defense should start on Poland’s border. After Ukraine’s January 2010 elections, the West will take new steps to acquire full control of Ukraine. Russia has various responses to such a move. If pro-Russians lose the elections, Moscow may use energy to increase its economic pressure on Kiev. If this does not yield results, Russia may try to ignite internal strife using its supporters in Ukraine. The biggest challenge of the next ten years will be experienced in Ukraine.

Russia’s second move will be to unify with Belarus. The two nations are already very close to each other and they could do this. If unification is not realized, joint defense agreements between Russia and Belarus will be signed. With such an agreement, the Russian military will be right on Poland’s border. In this scenario, the abandoned idea of deploying missiles in Eastern Europe may be implemented.

Russia desires to transform Europe’s energy dependency, the result of North Stream, into a strategic partnership in security area. The government in Berlin seems very eager for this. Russia and Germany will establish a medium term strategic security bloc. The security of the North Stream pipeline will lay the foundations for this. However, in a broader sense, the pact, based on dividing up the Baltic region between them, will affect the next ten years.

The economic crisis led to the Baltic states’ disappointment with the Atlantic bloc. Moscow will try to regain dominance over its former satellites using economic aid. After some time, the Baltic states’ governments may be composed of pro-Russians. This will be followed by Baltic joint economy and security region under Russian patronage. This situation, which will be opposed by Europe, increases the possibility of conflict on the line that runs through Baltic region to Middle and Eastern Europe.

IV. The Black Sea and the Caucasus: Turbulence

The Caucasus cannot be separated from the Black Sea, in other words, from the Turkish Straits. The distance from Ukraine’s easternmost border to Kazakhstan’s westernmost border is 400 miles. The Caucasus lies like a dagger pointed toward the Black Sea between Ukraine and Central Asia Turkic Republics. Hydrocarbons from the Caspian region and Central Asia are collected at Russia’s Black Sea port in Novorossiysk. The only passage for the huge tankers that set sail in the Black Sea is the Turkish Straits. If Moscow fails to maintain full control over the strait that runs from its hinterlands to the Caucasus, it will lose its control over its Caspian and Central Asia resources.

The northern Caucasus is controlled by Russia and populated by various ethnic groups, the majority of which are Muslim. This is Russia’s soft underbelly. Despite the reduced strength of Chechen separatists, they continue their attacks. It is possible that the attacks will intensify during the run up to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Previously supported by Islamic republics or Middle Eastern Wahhabis, Orthodox Georgia is a new ally for the Chechens. Moscow’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and its prior military protection of these nations led to the outbreak of war in August 2008. Furthermore, Russia is preparing to include Abkhazia in the 2014 Olympics. This situation will lead pro-American Georgia to support separatists in the Caucasus. Although Saakashvili’s power is declining, Moscow is unable to find an alternative leader to bring Georgia closer to Russia. Turkey, which is very much in harmony with Russia concerning the Black Sea and the transportation of energy resources to the West, does whatever it can to prevent the US’s losing Georgia, because, if Georgia aligns with Russia, the US will support Armenia. Turkey knows what this means. Turkey supports Georgia politically, economically and militarily at the risk of getting on Russia’s nerves. A flight that departs form Istanbul to Batumi, on the Turkish-Georgia border, qualifies as domestic route, since landing in Batumi and taking the motor way is the quickest way to reach the Turkish cities of northeast Anatolia. Despite its support, Ankara is bothered by the steps taken by Tbilisi in the last year. The forceful blockade and detention of Turkish ships by Georgian naval forces in the Black Sea increased the level of concern.

Turkey, which has developed tactful relations with Georgia, took an important step toward resolving the one hundred year old Armenian problem by signing a protocol opening its closed borders. The normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia implies that Russia will be distanced a bit more from the southern Caucasus. No doubt, Russia is aware of this. If this normalization is achieved, Russia will give the green light to Azerbaijan to use military force to take its occupied territories back from Armenia. Without the support of the Russian army, it would be impossible for Armenia to resist the more powerful and modernized Azerbaijani army. Moscow will permit a controlled armed conflict and try to sponsor an armistice with the aim of taking full control during the peace talks. NATO’s only option for supporting Armenia is Turkey. However, Ankara will not allow NATO to support Armenia due to the ancestral past it shares with Azerbaijan and for economic reasons (the BTC pipeline). At the end of this process, it will not be surprising to find Turkey at the negotiating table.

While Moscow is trying to show its strength in the southern Caucasus, it could encounter real internal strife in the north because, apside from the Chechens, territorial disputes have been blooming in other Muslim republics. The Kabardin and the Balkars have mobilized local forces and are initiating the conflict with small scale armed clashes. Adygea and Karachay-Cherkessia will become involved with these groups. If territorial dispute spreads, we will see bloody conflict involving Inigushetia, Dagestan and Chechnya, too. Russia will try to stop such a conflict, in addition to Chechen separatists, through harsh measures; and a mass exile similar to that of 1864, might be unavoidable.

Moscow must first consolidate its power in the Black Sea to gain full control of the Caucasus. Here, one of its most serious obstacles is the status of Crimea. During the next ten years, Russia will surely make a move to annex this strategic peninsula, with its majority of ethnic Russians. Two advantages Russia might enable such a move:

1. Crimea’s large Russian population
2. The increasing radicalization of Muslim Tatars in Crimea

The possibility of armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia will ignite after a conflict in Balkans, because a new internal war at the gates of Europe will cause the West to focus on the region, and Russia is likely to use this opportunity.

V. The Middle East: The World’s Problem

Today, no geopolitical problem has a structure as rooted and complex as the Middle East problem. The problem, ongoing since the twentieth century, has spread to a wider area with the war between the US and the Jihadists. The Islamic world no longer speaks of the problem with Al Fatah, but about the Iranian controlled HAMAS and Hezbollah. Iran, in seeking to maintain security beyond its borders, has taken the path of enforcing its power throughout the Middle East using Shiite influence. This situation will intensify and leave its mark on the next ten years. In December 2009, the Iranian military occupied the Fakkah oil fields, on the disputed Iraq-Iran border, but this cannot be explained by appetite for oil alone. According to Tehran, the defense of the motherland begins at the Basra Gulf in Iraq and extends in the Mediterranean to Lebanon. The Iranian influence will fuel new conflicts pitting Lebanon and Syria against Israel. This situation will deepen the already divided structure of the Arab world. Furthermore, the US war with the Jihadists will strengthen radicals who oppose the dictators of the Middle East. Old and weakly supported dictators will face people’s movements. These movements will mix together radicals and liberals, just as it did during the Iranian Islamic revolution. Egypt’s situation is the most critical. While the Muslim Brotherhood is growing in strength, old Mubarak is looking for an opportunity to bequeath the nation’s rule to his son. Strife that will begin during a transition period in Egypt could easily reach Palestine by way of Gaza. Moreover, weak governments in both Israel and Palestine offer no hopes for peace in the short term. However, this will be used by the US as an opportunity. Thus the US will increase its pressure on these two weak governments and try to insert HAMAS somewhere in the process. We should not forget that in the 1970s Washington saw Al Fatah as a terrorist organization and refused to negotiate with them.

From a military perspective, one way to prevent conflict could be the deployment of an American unit along the Jordan River. There is hope that such an option will provide some amount of security, thus making it easier for Israel to withdraw and to initiate the disarmament of Palestine. If we assume that US forces will cause negative reactions, another option would be to deploy an international force, with a majority of Muslim states. However, the Iranian controlled Hezbollah would be left out of the equation, hence there would be no chance of success. For this very reason, the US will focus primarily on Iran, rather than the Israel-Palestine problem. This focus will not aim a final agreement with the mullahs, since the American side is aware that a grand agreement, which would comprehensively resolve its problems with Iran, is not a realistic goal. Economics are increasingly determining Iranian policy, both domestic and foreign. Washington would like to use the possibility of trade with Iran as a powerful tool. Iran will receive attractive offers during Iraq and Afghanistan’s restructuring process. Political obstacles to the inclusion of Iran as a supplier to the NABUCCO energy line, which will reach Europe by way of Turkey, may be softened. Meanwhile, the liberal opposition will gain hope and begin waving their fists more aggressively, so Iran will face increasing internal strife and be shaped by social pressure.

VI. Africa: A Dark Future

SubSaharan Africa has begun its most critical period since its colonial independence. This period points towards the intensification of conflict between former colonizers and their new partners. Every African nation is composed of various peoples that have deep historical disputes. Muslims in Nigeria, with its population of 128 million, are being increasingly radicalized, while in the Ivory Coast, the division of natural resources is fueling tension between poor Muslims in the north and rich Christians in the south. The Catholic Church, left behind by former colonizers, is losing influence, while American Evangelicals are gaining power. SubSaharan Africa is swarming with missionaries.

Armed attacks on Togo’s national football team at the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola showed the danger before the 2010 World Cup. We should not forget that similar threats will increase during the World Cup. We may experience a new Munich. The traces of attack in Angola should be sought at the roots of Africa’s broad potential for ethnic and religious conflict. Certainly, chronic poverty (the majority of the world’s 9 million hungry are located in Africa), epidemics (like AIDS), huge external debt and, most important of all, who will control Africa’s underground riches should be added to this lethal cocktail.

There is no doubt that the most important reason for Africa’s increasing problems is its geopolitical roots. Nations like Yemen, the Ivory Coast and Nigeria have rich natural resources that are in the grip of industrialized nations. Even though it is not admitted, major powers are fueling conflicts from time to time by supporting groups that are close to them. The political crisis in Ivory Coast after the death of Felix Boigny seems to be resolved by the establishment of a moderate government in 2005. However, efforts to increase the poor northern Muslims’ share of the natural resources remains a potential cause of conflict.

In Sudan, where for twenty-one years the most bloody conflicts over natural resources have been experienced, faces two critical years. The non-Muslim minority in the southern regions reject the central government’s sovereignty. The division of oil, the cause of the conflict, was resolved by a 2004 agreement. China’s construction of the Bentiu-Khartum-Port Sudan pipeline on the Red Sea played a determining role in the agreement. In return for significant oil revenues, southerners discarded the idea of independence and the central government accepted their autonomy. Recently, the Southerners have been agitated by China’s competitors. Simultaneously, the International Criminal Court has issued a warrant for the arrest of Sudan’s President al-Bashir because of Darfur. It seems that the 2010 presidential election and planned referendum for the independence of the South in 2011 have started to heat up the furnace by the Red Sea. While al-Bashir is trying to get closer to Sadik al-Mahdi for the 2010 presidential election, al-Mahdi seem to be having a honeymoon with the South. Al-Mahdi’s calculates that supporting the referendum on southern independence in 2011 will win him the support of South Sudan’s President Salma Kiir in the presidential elections. We understand that Washington is behind this plan since al-Mahdi was the first person to be visited by the US’s special envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration, who immediately followed up this visit by heading south to meet Kiir. Al-Mahdi’s other partner in this dance is the most powerful resistance leader in Darfur, Ibrahim Halil. Al-Mahdi’s efforts to be the mediator between central government and Darfur show that Sudan is slipping into a dangerous adventure. Al-Mahdi, with foreign support and votes from the separatist regions, will put al-Bashir in a difficult situation in 2010. If al-Bashir wins, the 2011 referendum process will see bloody clashes. If al-Mahdi wins and the referendum grants independence, the oil fields on the borders of the southern and central governments will become an arena for international conflict because, these fields have been ceded to Chinese corporations with long-term agreements.

Although, AFRICOM Commander General William Ward asserts that they do not have ‘secret agents,’ he points out that the new structure has three main goals.

One of the goals is either break or limit China’s increasing influence through ‘soft power.’ To this end, AFRICOM wants to use public diplomacy, to develop socially responsible projects, to build health centers and to dig water wells.

Another goal is to maintain the security of oil that is produced on the continent. It is estimated that US crude oil needs will increase 25% by 2015.

The last goal is to fight terrorism. AFRICOM, which has established relations with fifty-three African nations, wants to increase the fighting capacity of unstable states against terrorism by providing military training. After all, this is the main concern.

VII. Afghanistan and Pakistan: Complex Conflict

Today no two neighboring countries are as much prisoners of fate as Afghanistan and Pakistan. The situation in Afghanistan spread to the port of Karachi in the last two years. By now Pakistan feels the Afghanistan problem in its veins. The situation will become even more grave as it continues. With the ousting of Musharraf and the assassination of Bhutto Pakistan’s new administration seems to have lost all control. Division with in the army is now obvious to outsiders. While impartial, British educated generals lose power, radical colonels who trained the Taliban to fight the Soviets are gaining power. The likely worsening of the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan is already being observed. These developments signal a new intervention of the Pakistani Army. It is not surprising to see radical colonels coming to power in the Islamic world. However, no past experiences of this entailed a nuclear risk.

Operations conducted by Pakistan’s government in its border regions will yield no results. These operations serve the radicals on both sides. It is known that members of the Pakistani military and intelligence service (ISI) take part in training at the Taliban’s border camps. Drawing the Pakistani military into internal strife in FATA, Swat and Waziristan and thereby winning military control of Pakistan seems to be the main foundation of American strategy. This could have severe repercussions. The biggest risk is a radical military coup and the radicals’ gaining control of the nuclear weapons. The question of the future will be whether Pentagon will want to control Pakistan or want to avoid permitting its military to obtain control of nuclear weapons. It seems unavoidable that, as a first step, the US will work to reinitiate IMET. Certainly, the US would like to coordinate its own coup with a general like Pervez Kayani. In such a case, China and India would be involved because, the Pentagon is aware that Afghanistan and Pakistan are key bridges between Iran and China and Iran has the necessary energy resources for China and India. Balkanizing Afghanistan and Pakistan would cut China’s connection by way of the the land route that passes from the province of Xinjiang to Pakistan and the Arabian Sea. The China Metallurgical Group bought the management rights of copper mines in Afghanistan for 3 billion dollars in October 2009, and has shown that it can operate in a country regardless of its internal problems. Furthermore, internal strife in Pakistan could stimulate India in Kashmir. This means that the conflict will spread.

VIII. Southeast Asia: The Dialectic of Patience

On the shores of Asia, the ASEAN countries are determined to establish open/flexible relations with China, Japan, India and Australia. The great economic depression (Asian crisis) caused a rapprochement of the region’s countries for the sake of stability. The Chinese model appears to be gaining influence in Southeast Asia. However, this model is a threat to multicultural and multi-religious structures. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world. Islamic Aceh wants independence from Indonesia. These, along with Malaysia, Myanmar and East Timor, will be frontline zones for potential tensions.

Indonesia, with its population of over a quarter billion and its unique racial and religious structure, will be at the center of conflicts during the next ten years. Organizations that seem moderate, like Hizb ut Tahrir, but which have the potential, are using Indonesia as a comfortablebase. Hizb ut Tahrir was able to bring one million organization members from all over the world to conferences that were held in Indonesia following 9/11. The organization’s jihad ideology reaches Malaysia, Pakistan, Kashmir, Central Asia and the Caucasus, and is laying the foundations for supplying militias to conflicts in different parts of the world. In Aceh, the Moro Islamic Independence Front, which wants independence from Indonesia and to establish an Islamic state, intends to intensify its armed struggle in Jakarta. The Jihadist network is working dialectically, increasing its effectiveness in Indonesia while strengthening its ties to the Asian mainland. A country where twenty-six different races live in as many regions has a hostile attitude even towards sects like Ahmediye. In the near future, we should not be surprised to see more internal movements like the stoning of the Playboy offices in 2006. In order to protect its power, even the Indonesian military is attempting to make a show of force in the regions densely populated with Islamic radicals and in East Timor. East Timor’s hydrocarbon reserves are an indispensable attraction to a military that has been enriched by them.

The Chinese minority, twenty-five percent of Malaysia’s population, controls 70% of the nation’s economy. This situation is as disturbing to the administration as it is to the poor majority. Malaysia’s Chinese, who have close relations and economic partnerships with China, are perceived as the missionaries of Beijing in Kuala Lumpur.

IX. China: Between Brutal Capitalism and Socialism

The biggest difficulty of the twenty-first century is preventing an ascendant China from shaking up the system and yet somehow including it in that system. US fears notwithstanding, Chinese economic and military growth will continue. Moreover, capitalism’s biggest crisis is making a model of China. The Pacific line running through Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore, now under of US control and part of its grand strategy, will soon become an arena for challenges between China and the US. One of the factors that will determine the power struggle is the control and stability of the Malacca Straits. China’s economic and military growth is directly related to the trade through Malacca straits. While instability in trade routes creates problems for China, it strengthens the hand of the US. For this reason, the Chinese military will send units to critical locations on its trade routes. Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia are likely targets for China’s military. This means that the Chinese military will come head-to-head with the US’s Fifth and Sixth Fleet. However, there are ramifications to the fact that the Iraq War is the first war that the US has financed, not with its own resources, but with debt owed to another nation, namely, China. This situation forces both states to behave cautiously towards each other.

Beijing’s increasing focus on new issues will lead Chine to send states like North Korea the message, “You can no longer depend on us.” This will go so far as to force Pyongyang to compromise in negotiations concerning North Korea’s nuclear weapons. North Korea’s reaction could be a policy of controlled tension, putting China in a difficult position.

China’s military moves to safeguard its trade routes will bother India as well as the US. The tension regarding Gan Island that occurred in late 2009 will affect the security of Asia’s shores for a long time. Gan Island, which was used as a forward base by the British against the Soviets, was shut down in 1976. India is planning to reopen the base on this island. The island will be used as a station for helicopters and aircraft that will monitor Chinese ships in the Indian Ocean. According to an agreement that was signed in August, India will deploy radar on the shores of the Maldives to track its threatening adversary. This step is certainly a response to China opening a huge port in Sri Lanka.

While the waters of the Indian Ocean heat up, we should not forget that these two nations have clashed on their borders in the Himalayas. The spread of conflict that will start at the sea towards Asia inlands will negative economic affect on both nations.

It is most likely that China will be up against Russia in Central Asia. Red adversaries of the past will encounter each other in competition for the natural resources of Central Asia’s Turkic republics. A ten thousand kilometer pipeline continues to transport Central Asia’s natural gas to China. Pipelines are also the first important export route that does not pass through Russia. However, there is a growing network of Islamic radicalism in the Central Asian republics that extends from the Taklamakan Desert and the Fergana Valley to China’s Xinjiang province. Chinese Turks’ street demonstrations ended in bloodshed in 2009, and bear an important message for Beijing’s future. It seems that Xinjiang will be China’s most threatening domestic problem during the next 10 years. Poverty, discrimination and the region’s influential Islamic movements will instigate the unrest. Xinjiang is rapidly acquiring the potential to become China’s next Tiananmen Square.

X. Europe: Fears That Are Reborn When They Die

With its transatlantic relations, its aging population, its exclusion of foreigners, and its newly developing partnerships with regions close and far, the old continent is stuck. When Europe began to attract the world’s attention, it become the world’s strategic focal point by importing the riches of Asia. Europe is aware that it needs to turn east to regain its old power, which was lost in the Second World War and weakened by the Cold War. However, new fears (like Islam) are added to its old fears (the legacies of the Cold War). While Germany is actively establishing a partnership with Russia on energy issues, Britain is criticizing the administration in Moscow with the excuse of undemocratic acts, and doing so, Britain uses the Cold War arguments. France, on the other hand, is preventing Turkey’s EU membership for religious reasons (Turkey’s population is almost entirely Muslim). The same positive discrimination (in the Balkans) applies to Islamic European states. The European Union has such contradictory attitudes that it is “othering” the very people with whom it needs to establish strategic cooperation. Turkey, Europe’s gateway to Asia, has been accused of ‘crucifying’ Christians by the spiritual leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church in Istanbul, Patriarch Bartholomeos. The same Europe that proposes the reopening of Halki Seminary in Heybeliada as a prerequisite for membership is banning minarets of mosques in its territories.

Furthermore, Muslims in Europe have been perceived as potential terrorists since 2001. “Othering” is causing uprisings in countries like France, with its large Muslim population. Aging Europe’s continuous quarreling with its growing Muslim population and its suspicious approach to the East will deeply affect Europe’s domestic tranquility.

Moreover, it is expected that the persisting effects of the global economic crisis that began in 2008 will draw Europe into another depression. The 2008 crisis occurred due to subprime mortgage lending. Everyone was full of hope for 2010. However, the debt crisis that occurred first near the end of 2009 in Dubai, and then in Greece, put a new horror movie scenario on the agenda. The fiscal deficit, which increased because of trillions of dollars that were spent to shore up markets during the crisis, is about to trigger national debt crises. The heaviest load is upon European nations such as Britain, Ireland, Portugal, Germany and Spain. Moreover, this could lead to social explosions in 2010.

The Polar Regions:

It is estimated that one-fourth of world’s total crude oil and natural gas reserves are located in the Lomonosov region. This region, a mountain chain under the sea, stretches from Greenland to East Siberia and passes under the north pole.

The South Pole is home to coal and iron ore, rather than oil and natural gas. The presence of other ores is surmised, but this has not been proven. Nickel, copper, platinum, gold and silver may be found by drilling. But, exploration is too expensive because the sea is nearly four thousand meters deep.

High costs do not deter Russia, Canada, the US, Norway and Denmark, the North Pole’s neighbors. These nations have the right to explore, hunt and mine within the two hundred mile wide range of their territorial waters. Some nations hope to exercise this right beyond their territorial waters.

Ozer Cetinkaya

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