The Middle Eastern bloodshed, the anger, hatred and moreover the sectarian divisions have grown deeper with the passage of time, regional powers blaming each other over the regional turmoil. The Middle East region has never been a peaceful region throughout its history. But now the periodic convulsions quite differently portraying the turbulent picture that the contagious terror waves rocking several states in fact the shocks can feel worldwide.
Instability in the Middle East seems a lurch, an inter-locking pattern of crisis, which crisis is generating to whom – impossible to explain. One day the focus is Yemen, next day it is related to ISIS, or Terrorism and another day it is towards Iran – KSA rivalry. The formation of Saudi led military alliance, which seems apparently a military coalition against Iran is another fuel in the fire. Most recently, the Qatar-Gulf crisis – the Arab Gulf states cut diplomatic ties with Qatar & suspended Doha bound flights.
Basically, Middle East is entangled in a pattern of crisis, apparently depicting an individual crisis and steadily becoming more serious over time. A historical context is attached with the crisis. After WWII, the American defensive foreign policy contributed intensively in providing the structural hierarchy to Middle East by providing security to the oil rich Gulf States.
Since the exploration and commercial use of oil, Saudi Arabia has been the leading state respectively aligned with U.S. this unique alliance facilitates Kingdom’s assertive foreign policies. The 70-year alliance has led United States to turn a blind eye on kingdom’s unjust behavior. Sectarian roots have been existed ever since in kingdom’s foreign policy with a radical approach. For decades, Saudi rulers had provided capital to extremist groups and education centers around the world just to keep the puritanical Wahabi pundits buoyant.
Ultimately, the U.S-Saudi relationship made the regional powers insecure by securitization or selling weapons to Kingdom. The fall of Saddam Hussein created a power vacuum, U.S. tried to cater it with its regime change policy. Moreover, the Arab spring spread sectarian feelings in the entire region, so too has Iran’s regional behavior changed. Sectarian fire is just a cover up by the stakeholders of the Middle East to acquire the power status and fill the power vacuum, which was created after the demise of Saddam Hussein.
On the other side, China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative a bid to build new world order by describing himself a locomotive of the world economy. The OBOR, the project worth an estimated $1 trillion, has potentially a huge project that can transform the global economy. However, no one would be able to guarantees its success until some persistent stability in the region has sustained especially in the Middle East.
After the complete failure of U.S foreign policies in the Middle East region, a void has been generated and it should be addressed. Though the identity of China is not to interfere in the matters of other states but after U.S, no other state is able to fill this void. The economic prosperity cannot be achieved until there is a persistent stability in the region. Through political engagement this issue can be addressed.
As Iran and Saudi Arabia is going to be a part of OBOR and China is heavily dependent on KSA & Iran’s for oil thereby providing a foundational collaborative approach this issue can be addressed. The worsening sectarian crisis in between Iran & KSA will further exploit the situation and direct escalation in the region among the major stakeholders would not be on China’s side. Security of trade routes should be prime objective of China. As a matter of fact, China should have to intervene in Middle Eastern crisis as a dialogue stakeholder and transform its ‘identity’ to reconstruct the order of Middle East.
Marriyam Siddique is a PhD candidate (International Relations) at SIPA, Jilin University, China. Her research areas foucs on US-Iran relations, Middle East, Sectarian crisis. She can be reached through email@example.com.