Trump’s team hints upcoming renaissance of Big Mid East Project

Alexander Tsinker


Alexander Tsinker, the law maker of the Israeli Knesset of the 15th convocation, the president of ICES – the International Expert Center of Electoral Systems, on the margins of his interview to ArmInfo comments on the latest developments at Middle East region, particularly in respect to Iran and Qatar, speaks about roles of Russia  and  United States in the processes mentioned, about Israeli  position and interest  regarded to Middle East Issues. Shares an opinion on prospective of Karabakh settlement, as well as about Israeli-Azerbaijani  cooperation.

Looking at the latest developments at Middle East region, it looks like within Donald Trump related scandals, US ruling power got to the implementation of newest political embracement, with unprecedented scale. Does that assume such processes will lead to radical changes not only at Middle East, but also in South Caucasus and Central Asia?

During his first foreign visit to Saudi Arabia, the US President Trump came up with a speech in presence of more than 50 Muslim leaders, where he told about his view of USA-Muslim world relations. With that he factually refused from Obama’s policy, who in his historical speech in Cairo promised democratization of Arab states which will change to the best the life of Arabs and all the mankind. The new conceptual direction of foreign policy of USA in Middle East must be the struggle between good and evil, the struggle against extremist ideology and terrorism, and the provision of security and stability in Middle East. Trump’s administration, perhaps, hints resuming its grand project “Big Middle East” the project of redesign of the political map of Eastern Mediterranean to Hindustan and from Minor Asia to Red sea. However, yet it is early to speak about the intentions of new presidential team, it is not 2003, and the situation in the world has changed a lot. USA cannot be considered as a sole global pole. Proceeding of this fact, the implementation of new transregional projects will dep[end on how it will be agreed with regional players, such as Russia, Chine, EU etc.

Does the destabilization of internal situation in Iran proceed from Israeli interests, or  Jerusalem is anyway interested to restrict  back ISIS activities zone expansion to neighbor countries?

Israel is interested in annihilation of all the terrorist organizations an units, which are of a real danger for peaceful existence of one and only democratic state in the Middle East region. Today those are Hezbollah, ISIS and Hamas, as well as small terrorist groups acting at the territories of Syria, Lebanon and Egypt.  But we should not forget about Iran, which is a country claiming loudly the annihilation of Israel and funding the majority of terrorist and extremist units in our region.  It is pretty probable that within the purpose to justify Tehran’s aid and under the consideration of Qatar crisis, Hamas could implement a provocation of  new  armed conflict with Israel. I think if Iran does not stand back of supporting terror, will not become a partner for peaceful existence of all the nations and ethnic groups in our region, it will become an outsider country for the majority of Middle East states.

Up to you, is there any connection between terrorist attacks in Iran, boycott of Qatar by a number of Arabic countries, regional policies of Israel and Mid East positions of USA and Russia?

Everything is mutually connected in our region, and the matter is how strong is the reasons-consequences chain between US, Russia and Israel positions and the developments mentioned. In my opinion, diplomatic boycott of Qatar by western countries is a demonstrative punishment for relations with Iran and the presence of Hamas leaders. US President Donald Trump with one hand pushed Sunnite countries of region to the boycott, and with the other tried to resolve the Qatar crisis, clearly remembering that one of biggest US military bases is located in Qatar. Another side of the coin is that Iranian special services succeeded with preventing such attacks by now. We have to know yet is this attack a single one or it will be an ongoing process.

Recently Matthew Bryza, the US Secretary of State Assistant for South Caucasus, voiced the necessity of international cooperation improvement in the aspect of Karabakh conflict up to the level of US and Russia Presidents. Prior to this, Karabakh has been multiply voiced as a feasible platform for Moscow and Washington interaction. Do you expect any rise of Russian-American cooperation on Karabakh, and what options and prospective do you see?

The restored military actions of April 2016 between Azerbaijan and Armenia, once again showed the need to speedy settlement of the conflict, which lasts for decades. Not enough active role of the OSCE MG on Karabakh problem and the criticism of it’s work, formed an opinion among some politicians that a beak on this issue is possible only in case of Trump’s and Putin’s involvement. One should not also forget that the current concept of the foreign policy of USA is in the state of formation and it is very possible that the solution of the problem will not be a priority for Trump’s team. In this case, a noteworthy increase of Russia’s role in the settlement of the conflict may be forecasted as well. .

Are the Israeli benefits in Azerbaijan restricted and limited with economic cooperation, particularly in respect o the export of military products? Or Israeli interest in Azerbaijan has geopolitical basis, being preconditioned by the neighborhood with Iran as well?

Relations between Azerbaijan and Israel have its complicated specifics. Despite the fact that the diplomatic relations were established back in 1992, Azerbaijan still refrains from opening of an embassy in Israel. Considering the extremely negative reaction of Iran, no head of state or government of Azerbaijan has paid any visit to Israel. It is not a secret that Israel’s interest is in developing interstate relations with the countries of the Greater Middle East, primarily with the states of the region, whose population, for the most part, preaches Islam. To such countries in the South Caucasus, according to his estimates, Turkey and Azerbaijan primarily concern. Interests of Israel in cooperation with Azerbaijan can be considered in three directions: political, economic and community. In particular, the political leadership of Israel is interested in business cooperation with Muslim countries bordering the main enemy of Israel – Iran. Azerbaijan is one of major suppliers to oil to Israel, and the volume of purchases form the 5th share of the Israel’s demands. In turn, Israel, as a well-known world developer and exporter of military equipment, delivers its products to Azerbaijan. In addition, it should be remembered that in Azerbaijan, since the 5th century, there lived a large community of Mountain Jews, which in time was enriched by Ashkenazi Jews and a small group of Georgian Jews. Most of the Jewish community of Azerbaijan repatriated to Israel at the end of the last century, which only broadens the possibilities of people’s diplomacy between the two ethnic groups.


Talked David Stepanyan