ArmInfo. In an interview with ArmInfo, Alexey Malashenko, head of research at the Dialogue of Civilizations Institute, comments on the latest Middle Eastern impulses. He talks about the Turkish-Russian relations in conjunction with the interests of the United States. He shares his vision of the prospects for the role of China in modern global politics, the role of Russia in the global competition between China and the United States.
The situation around Iran continues to be tense. Share your vision for the future?
I would not draw far-reaching conclusions from what is happening, as they do in the Russian press. Well, the Americans will strike at Iran, and then what? What will be the answer, where will it be, how effective will it be?
In the light of all these questions, I can say that Donald Trump will not earn points at this point. To punish Iran, and then get an answer, and the Iranians are not the people who silently swallow a blow to their own territory is clearly not in his interests. Iran can respond both directly and indirectly through Israel. Thus, the Iranians have both options and sufficient experience - this is the first.
Second, what will happen in Iran itself after the strike? After all, the blow will be inflicted, including on Iranians who would like to somehow return to normal life. These are people, including President Hassan Rouhani, who fought for the signing of the Lausanne Agreement on the nuclear program. These are people willing to cooperate, to make concessions and who are satisfied with everything. Thus, a strike on Iran will significantly strengthen the position of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the IRGC and its head, General Hussein Salami, who, by the way, has already indicated Iran's readiness for war. Therefore, if suddenly, in spite of all these arguments, a war does begin, it will be a great folly on the part of the United States. Not being a big fan of Russian foreign policy, I note that in such a case, the Americans will be substituted very seriously. They will not achieve a positive result, I think everyone will oppose them, including Europe.
How does Iran today hinder the United States so much, where does Trump have such a mood against Tehran?
You know, when you ask such a question, you try to reason from the position of the formal logic of a normal person. And Trump is not something that fully corresponds to this very logic. Trump is a businessman who sometimes does not quite understand what he actually does. Perhaps in his plans for Iran, he expects some economic benefits. There is an idea in the USA that if Iran gets a little banged in, Americans will have more chances to sell oil. Secondly, Trump is a player and he constantly has to be on the arena and make something unexpected. And it does not even matter to applause or whistling. He just cannot refuse it. This is Trump's political style.
Of course, we should not forget about Israel, which will only welcome any attacks on Iran. Trump has already recognized Jerusalem as the capital and in general has done a lot for Israel. But at the same time, in the event of a US strike on Iran, there is no guarantee that there will be no Iranian attacks on Israel. But Trump, in this case, in any case acts as a benefactor of Israel.
Let's go ahead than. Suppose Trump weakens Iran's position in Syria. Who benefits? This is unprofitable for Bashar Assad, unprofitable and beneficial for Russia, because Moscow is competing with Tehran for influence in Syria. But it will be beneficial to Turkey, with which Trump is now very difficult relationship. As you can see, there are a lot of factors and they are all very different. Build a logical line - a blow to Iran, victory, geopolitical success, Trump's personal success in the election campaign, is almost impossible. Accordingly, it is much more difficult to get into the logic of Trump than to get into the logic, for example, of Putin.
Is the situation around Russian S-400 the outcome of Recep Erdogan's game with the aim of gaining next dividends by Turkey, or is there really a tough confrontation of American-Russian-Turkish interests?
There is one and the other. And there are no contradictions in this, because Erdogan is positioning himself as a Middle Eastern politician. Turkey is today the most powerful state in the Middle East. A few years ago, I asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey - is Turkey the Middle East? And he answered quite honestly - I would very much like to, we do not yet know. That is why the Turks and behave accordingly. Turkey as a mini-superpower in the East has the right to defend its own interests in any context: Turkish- Russian, Turkish-American, in Syria, in the Kurdish issue, everywhere. And for now, they succeed. Erdogan has problems inside the country. And he, like Putin, has a foreign policy intertwined with domestic politics.
In other words, you do not exclude that, in the end, the Turks can negotiate with the United States, by passing Russia.
I do not exclude anything in this situation. Because, where Erdogan will go, which vector will be more powerful, and which will squeeze, depends on him personally, on the situation in Turkey itself, on how relations with Russia will develop, and how the almost unpredictable Trump will behave.
Do you think there are serious prerequisites for the allied relations of China and Russia directed against the US?
It is very difficult to answer your question, because the Americans finally realized that China is the main threat to them. And China, which will continue to develop, must be restrained in some way. And politically, and almost impossible, economically. And the feeling is that the first one who guessed this is Trump. But I think the train has already left. It is clear that the superpowers will eventually negotiate - how and when it is not known, but there is no alternative to the agreements.
Russia's role in all this is very interesting, because the Chinese need Russia twice. As a nuclear weapon and as a territory. The Chinese have great views of our territory and very slowly, I would say, in Chinese, are gradually moving forward. They're all planning 100 years ahead. And to prove this very easily, let's compare the situation in the eastern Russian regions 25 years ago and now.
And stopping this advancement is impossible.
This is a tsunami. And it affects not only Russia. Look at Nigeria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Ukraine, South America, Sudan. The French themselves openly admit that they are competing with China in Africa. And they are trying to stop his economic progress. The Chinese have adopted a tsunami strategy, and even if they suddenly want to cancel it, it will continue to move by inertia. Only internal crises can stop China. However, the decline in economic growth from 7% to 5.8% was perceived as a nightmare in China, and it is not clear what serious crises can be said here. People involved in all problems - all sorts of political scientists and experts - say that there will be no crisis in China at all. And Chinese historians who know the Chinese language and traditions, assess the likelihood of the worst internal crisis in China as very high. The population of 1.2 billion, unresolved problems with agriculture, a bunch of other internal problems are projected onto the political system. It is not clear whether the Chinese wisdom in power with communist greetings will last forever. In general, in China and in the actions of China a lot is not clear. Indirect hint. Today, the Chinese have opened Confucius schools in schools and universities of Central Asia, where young people are taught Confucianism. I do not know how to treat this, but I know that the Chinese never do anything just like that.
What, in your opinion, is interesting to the world today, which is located in a rather interesting region, Armenia?
Nothing. Like the whole Caucasus. Nobody needs him. Everything is relative.
Then why do you think China is building a huge embassy in Yerevan?
And I already explained - this is a tsunami. And it does not matter who gets in the way of this wave: Armenia, Albania or Cyprus. The main thing is that China has money for this wave. Minerals in Afghanistan are guarded by the Chinese army. And somehow they are silent. Meanwhile, as 15 years ago this could not even come to anyone's head.
Have you sorted out with China, but Russia also no longer needs Armenia?
No, this is completely different. I just can't imagine the Russian presence in the Caucasus without Armenia. Both the Armenian diaspora in Russia and the Armenians themselves are purely psychologically - this is part of the Russian society. And no Armenians are "persons of Caucasian nationality" - they are just our people. As almost, by the way, and Georgians. But the rest is already "persons of Caucasian nationality."
That is, the mentality of Armenians is closer to Russian than the mentality of the Ingush:
To put it mildly, yes. This is indeed true. And there is no Armenian phobia in Russia, and there never has been. And I do not think that we have, and you have some special choice. Well, Armenia will join the conventional Mexico. Will Russia benefit from this? Certainly not, and, in all senses. And I do not think that for us there is a difference whether Nikol Pashinyan or someone else is in power in Armenia. Somehow agree, especially since all their own.