Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg
sign that Cold War II is upon us, Poland’s Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak
on Friday announced that the US and Warsaw had agreed to set up six locations
to house additional US troops in Poland, and that a seventh is being discussed.
A joint declaration to that effect was scheduled for this week, when US
President Donald Trump was expected to travel to Poland and sign it during the
marking of the 80th anniversary of the German invasion of Poland and the start
of the Second World War on Sept. 1, 1939. However, Trump postponed his trip to
deal with Hurricane Dorian approaching the US.
close personal relationship between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin,
there is little doubt that a new arms race is underway. Earlier this year, the
two countries tore up the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which
goes back to 1987 and was a key instrument in controlling the missile race
during the Cold War. Each side is now accelerating its missile program to match
past five years, tensions have been rising between the two powers, and between
Russia and Europe, sparked in part by Russia’s seizure of the Crimean Peninsula
in 2014. That move worried NATO and several European countries near the Russian
border, leading to requests for additional US troops in that region.
Cold War did not only affect Russia, the US and Europe, but involved many other
countries. Proxy wars were waged throughout the world as each side tried to
expand its influence and contain the other’s. In response to that bipolar
US-Russia world, most countries tried to stay neutral, even establishing the
Non-Aligned Movement. But, as hard as they tried, most countries were pulled to
one side or the other. Very few remained truly neutral.
East was no exception. The Arab-Israeli conflict fell victim to the Cold War,
as the US abandoned the pretence of even-handedness and sided completely with
Israel — a situation that has made the conflict difficult to resolve. Southern
Yemen, as a Soviet satellite, tried to destabilize its neighbours by fomenting
rebellions in Oman and (North) Yemen. The list continues.
question now is how to prevent Cold War II from spreading. This region needs
unity among the main players in the international community and cannot afford
to alienate any major power. In particular it needs to preserve the unity of
the UN Security Council Permanent Five (P5) to help it regain its security and
stability and deal with its raging crises.
of the new Cold War should motivate the players to try to resolve their
differences quickly. Time is not guaranteed to be on anyone’s side and
stalemates are not useful for either side in any of the regional conflicts:
Yemen, Somalia or the conflict between Iran and its neighbours. In Yemen, only
warlords and profiteers are benefiting from the stalemate. The slow progress of
the campaign conducted by the internationally recognized government to dislodge
the Houthis has emboldened the latter to continue to stonewall and frustrate
UN-mediated talks. The recent events in Aden are another distraction that is
prolonging the war and distracting from the main goal of ending the Houthi
rebellion and restoring state institutions.
the P5 have been united on the resolution of the Yemen crisis, as demonstrated
by several Security Council resolutions and statements. Still it has been
difficult to move forward. Imagine if they weren’t, if Yemen became embroiled
in the new Cold War, as it was in the previous one. The devastation would be
the new Cold War could have a crippling effect on efforts to resolve Iran’s
conflict with its neighbours. That conflict is being prolonged by Iran’s
refusal to answer calls for talks on its ballistic missile program, support for
terrorism and sectarianism, and other issues that concern its neighbours. There
is an opportunity to resolve the Iran crisis peacefully before it is too late.
The Gulf Cooperation Council proposed a plan for Iran a while ago, based on the
UN Charter and international rules for state conduct. This includes respect for
national borders, political independence and territorial integrity, and
refraining from the use or threat of force.
If the Iran
crisis becomes part of the new Cold War, its resolution would be even more
difficult. European countries, which are now trying to persuade Iran to deal
seriously with the international community’s concerns, could easily abandon
Iran, especially as its economic significance has declined remarkably over the
announcement in Poland about troop build-up on the Russian border with Eastern
Europe is a stark reminder that the second Cold War is here to stay. If we are
not careful, it will only be a matter of time before it extends to our region
and makes our already difficult conflicts even harder to resolve.
Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg is the GCC Assistant Secretary-General
for Political Affairs and Negotiation, and a columnist for Arab News.
Headline: New Cold War could exacerbate Gulf conflicts
Source: The Arab News