Iran – Part Two. Islamic revolution

In continuation of the discussion about the Islamic Republic of Iran, we will discuss in this part the Islamic Revolution with several focal points that formed the current face of the regime in Iran and contributed to the formation of the current political features in the region, and it is :

1- The Iranian Revolution of 1979, or the Iranian coup, was a series of events that led to the overthrow of the Pahlavi dynasty and is considered the pivotal year in the contemporary era for refocusing attention away from the Cold War era. The revolution affected the overthrow of authoritarian regimes in dozens of countries over the decades that followed, and unlike most other uprisings that toppled dictators, the outcome of the Iranian struggle was not the establishment of a liberal democracy but rather a new form of expansionist authoritarian regime in the region whose effects extended beyond the borders of the Islamic Republic. intellectually and politically.

  1. After the Iranian coup d’état in 1953, Reza Shah Pahlavi allied with the United States and the Western bloc to consolidate his rule in that period, and relied heavily on American support to remain in power for another 26 years. This led to the launch of the “White Revolution” and the dismissal of Parliament in 1963. It was the White Revolution that cheered many up and constituted a vigorous modernization program that overturned the wealth and influence of the landowners and clergy, further disrupted rural economies, and prompted rapid urbanization and Westernization which sparked series of concerns about democracy and human rights,

The program was economically successful, but the benefits in practice were not evenly distributed.

Opposition to the Shah’s policies intensified in the 1970s due to heavy government spending, high inflation, diminished iranian prchase power and low living standards.In addition to the economic problems and the increase in social and political repression by the Shah’s regime and the marginalization of the opposition parties, followed by political arrests and censorship on a large scale.

This feeling of disenfranchisement led to the movement of diverse segments of society, including secular thinkers, Shiite scholars and figures from the rural economic community on one platform under the populist influence of Ayatollah Khomeini. who was a former professor of philosophy in Ghavam, and was exiled in 1964 after he spoke frankly against the Shah’s alleged reforms at the time,

In the midst of the civil unrest, members of the National Front and the Tudeh Party also joined the scholars in broad opposition to the Shah’s regime.

Khomeini continued to preach in exile about the evils of the Pahlavi regime, accusing the Shah of irreligiosity and submission to foreign powers.

Which was reinforced at that time by the Shah’s dependence on the United States, his close relations with Israel and the Unstudied economic policies of his regime, which contributed to fueling the power of opposition discourse among the masses. The most widespread and most common slogan that united the various revolutionary parties and their supporters was “Let him (the Shah) go and then let it be a flood”.

 

  1. In January 1978, thousands of young students from religious schools took to the streets due to slanderous statements directed at Khomeini in a Tehran newspaper. They were joined by thousands of unemployed youth, accompanied with the shah being exhausted from cancer and stunned by the sudden escalation of open hostilities against him, he wavered between concessions and repression.

At that time many protesters were killed by government forces which led to martial law on 8 September and further killings.

In that period and during his exile, Khomeini coordinated the escalation of opposition, first from Iraq and after 1978 from France – demanding the Shah to step down.

In January 1979, the Shah and his family fled Iran, and the regency council established to run the country failed to function or control civil strife.

A crowd of more than a million people demonstrated in Tehran, proving a wide appeal to Khomeini, who arrived in Iran on February 1.

Ten days later, the Iranian armed forces declared their neutrality, practically overthrowing the Shah’s regime.

 

  1. On April 1, through a overwhelming ruling in the referendum, Khomeini declared Iran an Islamic Republic.

The clergy moved immediately to exclude their former intellectual left-wing nationalist ally from the position of power in the new regime and imposed a return to conservative social values.

The Family Protection Law (1967 and amended in 1975), which provided guarantees and rights for women in marriage, was declared invalid.

Revolutionary gangs stationed in mosques, known as komitehs, patrolled the streets to enforce Islamic codes of dress and behavior and administer impromptu justice to the imposed revolution.

The militias and the clergy did their best to suppress Western cultural influence. In the face of this persecution, many of the elites educated in the West fled the country.

These anti-Western sentiments eventually led to the taking of 66 hostages at the US Embassy in November 1979 by a group of Iranian protesters who demanded the extradition of the Shah, who was at the time undergoing medical treatment in America.

The Assembly of Experts formed by Khomeini ( al-Khabeerjan), dominated by the clergy, approved a new constitution through a referendum that gives broad powers to the leader, the first of which was Khomeini himself.

 

 

  1. From early 1979 to 1983, Iran remained in a “revolutionary crisis mode”.

After the autocratic monarchy was overthrown, the economy and the apparatus of government collapsed and the military and secular forces were in disarray.

However, by 1983, Khomeini and his supporters had crushed the rival factions, defeated the local insurgency and consolidated their power.

The major events that shaped the crisis and its revolution were the Iran hostage crisis, the Iran-Iraq war, and the presidency of Abu al-Hasan Bani Sadr through the elections.

There is a widespread belief that what began as an authentic, anti-dictatorial popular revolt soon turned into an Islamic fundamentalist takeover of power.

Khomeini was more of a spiritual leader than a ruler. Khomeini in the mid-1970s had never held public office, walking out of Iran for a decade and telling interviewees that “religious figures don’t want to rule.”

The most important bodies of the Iranian Revolution were the Revolutionary Council, the Revolutionary Guards, the Revolutionary Courts, the Islamic Republican Party, and the Revolutionary Committees.

At its core, the Iranian Revolution of February 1979 was a revolt of society against the state, which represented not just an ordinary dictatorship but an absolutist and arbitrary regime that lacked political legitimacy and social base in almost all parts of society and subsequently ended with a more tyrannical and dictatorial regime than before with boundless expansionist ambitions.

     IRAN- PART I – HISTORY AND PRE REVOLUTION ERA

Iran is one of the oldest citadel of world civilization.It is located in Western Asia and is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west,Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northeast, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmenistan to the north , by Afghanistan and Pakistan to the east and by the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf to the south.It covers an area of 1.64 million square kilometers making it the 17th largest country and a population of 86 million. Historically a multi-ethnic country , Iran remains a pluralistic society comprising numerous ethnic, linguistic and religious groups with the largest of these being Persians, Azeris, Kurds, Mazandaranis, and Lurs.. It has large reserves of fossil fuels, which includes second largest natural gas supply and third largest proven oil reserves .It’s geo strategic location makes it a  middle power and a major stake holder in the Middle East. It is a founding member of the United Nations, the ECO , the OIC and the OPEC.

Iran’s political history dates back to fourth millennium BC with the formation of Elamite kingdoms. It was first unified by Medes, an ancient Iranian people in the seventh century BC and reached its territorial height in the sixth century BC, when Cyrus the Great founded the Achaemenid Persian Empire, which became one of the largest empires in the history. It fell to Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC and was subsequently divided into many Hellenistic states, notable amongst which was the Sassanid Empire, a major world power for next four centuries.Arab Muslims conquered Sassanid Empire in seventh century which led to the Islamization of Iran. In the 15th century the native Safavids established a unified Iranian state and converted the country to Shia Islam. Under the reign of Nader Shah in the 18th century, Iran presided over the most powerful military in the world though by the 19th century conflicts with Russian Empire led to significant territorial losses, forcing the abdication of the ruler Reza Shah and accession to the throne by his son, Raza Pahlavi in September, 1941.

During Raza Shah reign , the Iranian oil industry was briefly nationalized under the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddegh. He became enormously popular in Iran after he nationalized its petroleum industry and oil reserves. He was deposed in 1953 Iranian coup d etat , an Anglo- American covert operation that marked the the first instance of the United States overthrowing a foreign government during Cold War. Under Reza Pahlavi Iran marked the anniversary of 2,500 years of continuous monarchy since the founding of the Persian empire by Cyrus. He also introduced the White Revolution, a series of economic, social and political reforms with the proclaimed intention of transforming Iran into a global power and modernizing the nation by nationalizing certain industries and granting women suffrage. The result of this program was a rapid modernization and economic growth at an unprecedented rate , fueled by Iran’s vast petroleum reserves.

A secular Muslim, Reza Shah gradually lost support from the Shia clergy of Iran as well as the working class, particularly due to his strong policy of modernization and secularization , conflict with the traditional class of merchants, relations with Israel and corruption issues surrounding himself , his family and the ruling elite.Various additional controversial policies were enacted , including the banning of the communist Tudeh Party and a general suppression of political dissent by Iran’s intelligence agency , SAVAK. According to official figures, Iran had 2,200 political prisoners in 1978. Other major factors contributing to strong opposition to the Shah among certain groups within Iran were US and UK support for his regime, clashes with Islamists and an increased communist activity. By 1979, political unrest transformed into a revolution which on January, 17 forced him to leave Iran .Soon thereafter, the Iranian monarchy was abolished and Iran was declared an Islamic republic.

 

The current situation in Iraq and the safety valve of the political process!

The current situation in Iraq and the safety valve of the political process!

What the country is experiencing today from a real and unprecedented political battle between the parties of the distorted political process calls us to stop and take a real and objective look at what is going on in the country and extract certain points through which we can extrapolate the future that awaits the people of the country.
First of all, the real follower of the events that took place during the last period, including demonstrations, demands, resignations of political currents, and the departure of young people to the squares and streets, demanding a “homeland” in which they can at least live, and all the uproar that followed that occurred and then looking at the reality now, it is really shocking because the obvious that does not accept There is no doubt that the matter of Iraq is not in the hands of the Iraqis, nor in the hands of the politicians and their parties, even and the evidence for that despite all the suffering we have mentioned, all the existing political parties, without excluding any party, return to us, to come out with a copy that is the worst among governments since 2003. Judgments on the current government formation, and here we cannot now mention the popular proverb that says “the same bowl, the same pigeon.” The same people who were involved in displacement, the fall of cities into the hands of terrorist groups, the endless corruption cases, the prisons full of innocents, the dilapidated infrastructure and lost sovereignty among neighboring countries, are returning themselves to form a government It is expected from them to get the country out of countless crises.
As for the safety valve of the political process, what is meant by it is, without a hint, the leader of the Sadrist movement, who really acts as an outlet for the popular pressure that is generated from time to time, as we have seen in previous times and this time as well. Al-Sadr and his leader to absorb this anger with resonant slogans and then hand the country over to the politicians to complete their accepted approach.

In conclusion, and only as a reminder with regard to the Al-Kazemi government:
1- An abject failure in managing service and security files, until the government’s greatest achievement was paving some streets as electoral propaganda for some politicians.

2-Failure to implement the economic agreements on the ground that were signed with neighboring countries in the resonant summits that were held. Here we leave the question open what is the fate of these investment agreements!!???

3- The devaluation of the dinar and its direct impact on the citizen.

4- Not to hold any corrupt accountable, and not to open any real corruption file since the first day

5- The arrival of special job grades to 6000 degrees, representing 40% of the budget, salaries, unemployment and job slack eliminating a large part of the Iraqi social fabric.

Summary of the current Iraqi situation

The crisis situation in Iraq continues without a real way out of the current crisis, which brings the scene back to square one with the continuation of the existence of many proposed scenarios, which in total predict the existence of a real crisis. In this summary, we will try to summarize what is happening in the country today with several points:

1- Demonstrators stormed the Green Zone and the Republican Palace, and what happened during the storming of a clash between the armed factions, which showed the depth of the dispute between all the militias, and the breaking of the bone, so to speak, is only a simplified picture of the depth of the real dispute.

2- The resignation of the Shiite authority, Kazem Al-Haeri, in what was announced in the resignation statement, that it came because of his old age and illness. In fact, the resignation shook the political street entity, especially the Sadrist movement, headed by the leader of the movement Muqtada Al-Sadr, where the legitimate cover of the leader of the movement was derived from the presence of the Haeri authority, of course,

Al-Haeri’s resignation came to belittle the status of Najaf and the movement’s leader Muqtada Al-Sadr and direct his supporters to follow the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, especially after Al-Haeri recommended his followers to imitate the Sistani’s reference.

3- After more than ten months have passed since the elections without any signs of political consensus, which will lead us, sooner or later, to the collapse of the parliamentary system and the re-election, which will bring us back to the main point of contention.

4- The timing of the appearance of the audio leaks of many politicians and what was revealed in those recordings of two very important things for the Iraqi street. The first matter is the size of the real dispute between politicians of the same sect if the phrase is correct to use. The other matter is the extent of corruption practiced by the political class over the resources of the Iraqi people And they are betting on the silence of the people, which I do not think will last long after today.

Of course, the observer of the Iraqi affairs knows that the leaks that have been published are really intended to show the weakness of the current political class. The important question here is who owns all these recordings and ordered their publication.

5- The continuation of the political position of the coordination framework to proceed with the formation of the government without the participation of the Sadrist movement, which drew attention to the demonstrations that took place on the first of this month, which were not as large as the announcement circulated before.

6- The resignation of Parliament Speaker Muhammad al-Halbousi, which in fact is a political maneuver with a redirection of attention to Parliament, whose matter has not yet been decided, and a kind of personal propaganda that the Speaker of Parliament currently needs.

7- The statements of the UN envoy to Iraq, Plasschaert, who declared the failure of the political class to manage the country in the required manner and to get out of the crisis

The solution and the anvil of division

The current situation in the country continues to deteriorate and reach a point of no return amidst many initiatives that are presented daily, which, so to speak, are patchwork solutions to address a worsening crisis left by the occupation 19 years ago, after supporters of the Sadrist movement went out to demonstrate and sit in at the end of last month, and we are witnessing  day after day a real blockage in the political scene in the country, which has become worn out in an unprecedented way,since the first day of the October Revolution, the political parties in the country have breathed their last.

Today, the gap between the political classes has reached a point of no return. For example, the Shiite political parties have reached a bone-breaking stage, amid an unprecedented case of the leader of the Sadrist movement, who came out with a reformist tone that transcended sectarian boundaries, and as we see today, the popularity of the leader of the Sadrist movement has grown. Significantly since the start of the demonstrations in the areas west of Baghdad and the north, that is, specifically between the Sunni provinces and Kurdish circles, which makes politicians really feel the danger of this situation, which has become a threat to their presence in the country.

As for the Sunni politicians, the moves are clear to establish a Sunni current outside the system of the current parliament speaker, Muhammad al-Halbousi, and this current’s attempt to control the House of Representatives.

With regard to Kurdish politicians, they are currently trying to appear more coherently than ever, at least in the media, in an attempt to monitor the situation and upcoming developments in a somewhat cautious manner.

Returning to Baghdad, the initiative put forward by Prime Minister Al-Kazemi failed amid the Sadrist movement’s refusal to attend, which constitutes the real basis for the solution. As for the Sadrist movement, until this moment, the true direction is unknown, which makes the current reading of the situation completely unclear.

We should also not forget many of the real questions that were directed to the Sadrist movement, because the service ministries during the past years had been in the current’s pocket, so where is the fight against corruption and the corrupt?!

Perhaps the real question that can be asked in view of what happened in the previous days, what if the demonstrations that took place were led by the October youth, would it have been possible for them to enter the House of Representatives and the celebration square and hold their sit-in there, or would they have faced death by the third party, as happened in Nasiriyah, Baghdad and others from the provinces.

As for returning to the Arab environment, which always appears with patchwork solutions to contain the current political class without considering the history of its ties, which is impossible to return to the embrace of the Arab, as they call it.

In conclusion, the use of the religious turban to lure people with resonant statements and trying to play with the people’s emotions will not continue and will be revealed sooner or later, which will lead to the uprooting of this distorted process of various shades.

Note: The Center will soon publish a study on the unprecedented events and developments in the Iraqi arena during the past days, and we will review the causes and results and a vision for the future.

Iraq and Biden’s visit

Biden’s visit to the Middle East comes as an embodiment of the consistent American strategic policy for our region, which he summarized as follows:

1/ Israel’s security

2/ Control and domination of oil, gas and energy sources in the region

3 / Minimizing (not ending) the Iranian role in the Arab region

Later, other objectives can be added to this strategic policy according to the development of the situation in the world and the region, which are:

1/ Putting pressure on the Arab Gulf states to increase their oil production and reduce their prices to compensate for the shortage of Russian oil and gas due to the Russian-Ukrainian war, which America is striving to prolong its duration to drain and destroy Russia

2/ The American fear of Russian and Chinese expansion in the region and filled with the American vacuum, which Biden admitted, saying, “We made a mistake when we neglected the Middle East.”

We will discuss in this study from Biden’s visit its impact on Iraq’s crisis situation along the line, and here we must mention the most important thing in this visit is what Biden personally announced linking Iraq to the electrical system of the Arab Gulf states through Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and here I want to clarify the following:-

1/ Why does America not obligate its major companies to reconstruct, rehabilitate and build the electrical stations that were destroyed by its military forces and missiles during its abhorrent, illegal, immoral occupation, contrary to the independence and sovereignty of states and contrary to human rights!!!! Instead of linking us once to Iran and at other times to the neighboring countries and the Gulf

2/ Why doesn’t America allow major companies from other countries to build and rehabilitate electrical stations in Iraq like what these companies did in Egypt!!!

3 / What will be secured from the Gulf connection is 1500 megawatts, while Iraq’s actual need exceeds (20) thousand megawatts, and thus it will be a temporary prosthetic solution and a media gain that is nothing but

4 / The Iraqi agreement on the electrical connection took place 4 years ago and did not advance a single step and remained ink on paper, because the economic, security and political decision is in the hands of Iran, which opposes and prevents any Iraqi rapprochement with the Arabs

5 / The connection requires infrastructure that can only be secured by exceptional efforts and continuous and continuous work from one year to a year and a half at least.

The most important question remains

Will Iran and its tails remain idle, and it is the one who considers Iraq’s need for electric power its important market and lung from which it breathes in order to obtain billions and to circumvent the international sanctions imposed on it, even if they are in fact formal sanctions?

In order to reach the truth and understand the Iraqi situation, in light of the violent waves of wishes for change in Iraq, it is necessary to answer the following questions:-

1/ Is America really dissatisfied or upset with what is happening in Iraq?? She is the one who founded and supervised the failed political process in it!! She is the one who has supported and supported the political parties and personalities of this process until now!!

2/ Does America really want a developed, prosperous, stable, sovereign, independent and democratic Iraq that will be a model in the Middle East….

We leave the answer to these questions for the days, and the silent majority has the final say in the end.

Summary of the Iraqi situation

Perhaps what the country is going through today from chaos and  state of political blockage, so to speak, and a collapse accompanied by great confusion at the internal level and in all directions, whether political, economic or service, until the situation today has reached a point that is difficult to cope with, which was imposed by the regional and international forces controlling the Iraqi situation  and which the association with them and the subordination to their desires led to the situation in which the country is living today.

Today, we see the resignation of the Sadrist bloc from Parliament after the failure of all dialogues between it and the other Shiite forces to name the largest bloc and pass it in the House of Representatives to form the new government. Here, the framework forces obtained an increase in the number of their deputies to be able to name themselves the largest bloc that will form a government in light of the Sadrist bloc’s threat to resort to demonstrations, which will lead to the inevitable clash that many forces have long threatened, and what will result from this clash are events that cannot be counted because The strength of the conflicting parties and the extent of this dispute,

As for the Sunni forces, as usual, they returned to fragmentation and liquidation of some of their elements through several methods, the most important of which is political money in a mean struggle over the so-called leadership of the Sunni component to achieve financial corruption gains.

Perhaps one of the most important suspicious deals that passed during the lifetime of this parliament is the Food Security Law, which expresses the extent of the political class’s disregard for the Iraqi citizen.

As for the Kurds, they succeed in reuniting them to negotiate with Baghdad as a single bloc, as they used to in the past, and the Iraqi army remains suffering from the domination of the political class on one hand, and facing terrorist challenges on the ground on the other, with deliberate neglect to give it a good budget that raises its combat and logistical capabilities and suits the challenges that it is dealing with on the ground.

It is worth noting the joint military exercise with the Saudi army, called (The brothers-1), which was announced briefly without any details. And here we do not mean the military details that is not acceptable to disclose.

As for the government, it forgets that it came as a caretaker government as a result of a youth revolution with clear and legitimate goals, despite what some try to accuse them arbitrarily, and we see it signing investment agreements, which are suspicious of many question marks and which are not constitutionally within its powers, not to mention the impossibility of implementing most of them for political and economic reasons.

And we do not forget the prime minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia and then to Iran, which is seen by many as a political maneuver whose purpose may be to put forward the idea of ​​Al-Kazemi’s second term, specifically in conjunction with the mutual visits of the presidents and kings of neighboring countries and the leaks that talked about seeking to form an Arab NATO.

At the conclusion of all of the above, the Iraqi situation remains rapidly heading towards the unknown, and we will soon be at a crossroads from which it will be very difficult to return.

Summary of the Iraqi situation

Today, Iraq is living in a state of charged political stagnation in the shadow of a foggy situation over the Iraqi street. More than six months have passed since the parliamentary elections and after the results were announced, the parameters of the next government are still unknown, what many see as a bad omen in the coming days.

In short, the situation in which the country is living today is not a product of the moment, nor is it the product of the current circumstance only, but it carries within it many previous failures as well as the foundations that were built wrong, and the evidence for this is that the two most important elements of the system of government in the country represented in the constitution and institutions suffer from severe weakness In its main structure,

The constitution was written in confusing and unstable circumstances and according to the requirements of the interest at that time, and the institutions were restructured according to the partisan map of political alliances. They are no longer real institutions that work for the country, but are political and partisan quotas, and perhaps these two reasons are the basis of what the situation has reached today.

As for the axes on the ground today, they are listed, if you will, in the following way:

1- The inability of any of the political forces present on the ground to form the two-thirds plus in order to be able to form the government without the need for the blocking third.

2- The absence of any signs of agreement between the Shiite forces until this moment, despite the repetition of the scenario in previous elections, but it eventually resulted in an agreement between these forces. The current government and the formation of the government within 15 days, where he stressed that the Alliance to Save a Homeland is the largest bloc and that the reason for the delay in forming the government is to activate the blocking third, which predicts until the moment that no real agreement has been reached between the Shiite forces.

3- As for the Sunni forces, they suffer from fragmentation that appeared clearly in the previous period, specifically after the return of Sunni figures who were either outside the country or in prisons to the political scene, which makes it difficult to agree all these faces on the ground, even if these personalities do not have real weight. But in the end, this maneuver will bear fruit, even after a while.

4- With regard to the Kurdish forces, for the first time we see a clear disagreement and an open division among them with regard to the central government, and the matter became clearer with the negotiations we see individually for the Kurdish forces with the central government.

5- In conclusion, the continuous security breaches in large parts of the country, which take place as a kind of reminder between the parties that each party has the greatest authority in its position, as well as the attempt by the regional neighborhood to impose pressure cards on the ground, which makes the picture in the country the way we see it today.

UKRAINE PART – III .AN ANALYSIS OF RUSSIA- UKRAINE WAR

1- In what is termed as largest military campaign since World War II , Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022. The attack marked a steep escalation of the Russo- Ukrainian War which began in 2014, in which Russia had annexed Crimea and Russian backed separatists seized part of the south- eastern Donbas region of Ukraine.In 2021,Russia began a large military build up along its border with Ukraine amassing up to 190,000 troops with tanks and arsenal .On 21 February 2022, Russia recognized the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic, two self proclaimed states in Donbas controlled by pro- Russian elements. The invasion began on the morning of 24 February when Russian President Putin announced a special military operations to” demilitarize and denazify” Ukraine. In the ensuing attacks massive missiles and air strikes were launched all across Ukraine , including its capital Kyiv, followed by large scale ground invasion from multiple directions . In response Ukrainian President Zelensky enacted martial law and general mobilization while conscripting all male Ukrainian citizens in age bracket 16-60 for military service.

  1. At the start of the invasion, the northern front was launched out of Belarus, targeting Kyiv with a northeastern front directed at the city of Kharkiv; the southeastern front in two prongs was directed at the cities of Luhansk and Donbas. By middle April progress on southeastern front appeared to be impeded by the residual troops continuing to hold out in pockets . On 19 April Russia launched a renewed invasion referred to as an “ eastern assault” across a 300 miles front extending from Kharkiv to Donetsk and Luhansk, with simultaneous missile attacks again directed at Kyiv. In almost 70 days of the commencement of attack by Russia, the stipulated political and military objectives remain un achieved .
  2. The invasion has been widely condemned internationally as an act of aggression. The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution demanding a full withdrawal of the Russian forces . The US and many European countries have imposed new sanctions on Russia which have affected its economy in particular the energy exports. It has caused Europe’s largest refugee crisis, with more than 5.3 Million Ukrainians leaving the country and a quarter of the population displaced . Another serious implication of the Ukrainian war is the likely food shortages not only in Europe but the world over by non availability of Ukrainian and Russian wheat . The war has all the potentials of escalating into a ballistic and nuclear Russian President has repeatedly warned that any country trying to intervene in the Ukraine war will face a “ lightening fast response “.
  3. A dispassionate analyses of the Russian campaign plan would reveal many violations of the centuries old principles of war and strategy .The attack on Ukraine being launched after many months of preparations and from secure bases was expected to be juggernaut of the Russian might in the form of a swift and short campaign. The later manifestation proves other wise . The slow pace of progress is primarily due to three factors vis; divergent fronts spread over long distances and treacherous terrain, conscript Russian Army with little motivation for overwhelming Ukraine fighting with out dated vintage arms and equipment and unexpected resistance and resilience by the Ukrainian troops and people in fight for the Motherland. A due analysis of the world response to any act of aggression on such a large scale should have indicated to the Russian military planners a short and swift campaign with limited objectives . Contrarily the objectives selected were dispersed causing frittering away of Russian war efforts and creating a nightmare of logistic supplies to the fighting troops . In my reckoning, Putin should have gone for the liberation of eastern region of Donbas which had announced their independence and which could have received some moral justification . This should have been simultaneous with a large airborne attack on capital Kyiv to tackle Ukrainian centre of power and gravity . A regime change to pro- Russian political figure could have transformed Ukrainian resistance and will to oppose the Russians. There appeared no linkages between stated political objectives and the military campaign plan . A seizure of a large berth Ukrainian port in initial days was also a logistic prerequisite to sustain such large scale ground operations but did not figure out in initial attack plans. In midstream , Russia reorganized the command of its flagging offensive on 23 April selecting General Aleksandr V Dvornikov, accused of ordering strikes on civilians in Syria. The pace of Russian operations and the resilience displayed by the Ukrainians as a Nation aided by the supply of arms and equipment by the Europeans and US does not portray an immediate end to the war. The prolongation will have grave impacts on world economies , energy and food supplies and power equilibriums. The catastrophic possibility of a nuclear holocaust in the event of an extreme Russian frustration though a distinct possibility but can not be ruled out !

Ukraine, part two. Impact of the Russo-Ukrainian War on the Middle East

1.The populace  of Middle East ( ME)  along with other parts of the world are feeling the impacts of the war in Europe  on their food security, energy prices and job markets . They are divided between sympathizing with the  Ukrainians devastated by Russian aggression and how the world shied away when the same weapons were used in Syria and Libya few years earlier! In political terms, the crisis has not yet forced any significant realignments.   Rather, various countries including the Gulf and Israel are hedging their bets between the US and Russia and seeking to draw maximum benefits in key areas of interests.  However, long term sanctions on Russia will be challenging for ME countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE , all of whom have been diversifying their defense needs and seeking greater cooperation with Russia and China .

  1. Since the Presidency of Joe Biden, in January 2021, ME leaders have been working to reduce regional tensions by rekindling strained bilateral relations . Turkey for example has opened channels of communication with Egypt, UAE and Israel, there are talks between Qatar and Egypt and between Saudi Arabia and Iran. These governments do not want Russian invasion of Ukraine to invalidate these efforts and start a new wave of polarization. They also do not want Russia to experience a major defeat , which would reinforce American unilateralism and make it difficult for them to diversify their alliances.Meanwhile, the Biden Administration and Arab leaders have conflicting priorities. US is currently focused on deterring and isolating Moscow and is working towards a possible nuclear agreement that might end Iran’s economic isolation. In contrast , Arab governments want Russia to remain strong to help contain Iran’s ambitions to expand its influences over the region .Saudi Arabia and UAE relations with the Biden Administration remain strained , especially as they believe the US did not sufficiently support them over recent Houthi attacks on their territories . This has affected how they have responded to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in particular at UN SC and other world forums .
  2. The Russian invasion of Ukraine also demonstrated the fragility of Russia’s alliance with Turkey and Iran. Due to sanctions imposed on it , Moscow has become more dependent on Turkish and Iranian trade which has caused it to loose its traditional leverage over the two. Israel too is playing a balancing game between US and Russia over Ukraine .After the Israeli government issued a statement supporting the “ territorial integrity and the sovereignty of Ukraine” , Russia condemned the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights . Israel however , did not go as far as Turkey and declined a Ukrainian request to send weapons and military equipment.

4.The worst affected from the Ukraine war will be Syria and Libya , the two arenas where US- Russian collaboration is most needed for a sustainable political outcomes.Russia’s considerable military presence in both countries and its increasing political and economic isolation may drive it to be a disrupter of ongoing efforts to address political divisions in Libya and to be even more supportive of the Syrian and Iranian regimes than it has been in the past.. Meanwhile, both Turkey and Israel are troubled by the prospects of future Russian action in Syria , due to their stakes in these countries. Turkey is concerned that Russia-could increase pressure in the rebel enclave Idlib, triggering an influx of refugees . Syria’sKurdish population concerns are that a US- Turkey trade- off in this larger geopolitical tussle would come at their expense. Israel is worried with growing Russian- Iran cooperation and possible limits on its aerial bombardment of Iranian targets in Syria.

5.. Another areas  of serious concern for the ME nations are humanitarian aid and food security in the region especially related to fragile regional countries. The growing number of Ukrainian refugees and the phenomenal cost of post conflict re construction are raising fears that the critical humanitarian aid may be diverted from ME to address the fall out from the Ukrainian conflicts. For the millions of Palestinians, Lebanese, Yemenis, Syrian and even Iraqis who live in countries affected by conflicts and economic depreciation and increasing humanitarian needs, this would be a shutting down of critical life support . The crisis is also aggravated by the likely food shortages in countries like Lebanon, Egypt which rely on Russia and Ukraine for their wheat supplies in the range of 90%. Food and humanitarian aid shortage could cause severe political crises if the people come to streets in protests.

6.The future of gas and oil supplies is critical . Europe will likely seek to build up alternate gas supplies and therein lies an opportunity for Gulf and Eastern Mediterranean countries. Gulf countries are currently gaining from the increase in oil prices and leveraging this situation to renegotiate their relationship with US on favorable terms in places like Yemen etc. Much remains to be seen in this conflict which has heralded a long term shift in global relations. The traditional alignment of prominent ME countries with US has also suffered a set back because of US lackluster support and aid to Ukraine against the Russian aggression. Even NATO & European Union have been found wanting at the time of need. These factors will cast their influences in Geo- political realignments for many of the ME states in not too distant a future ! What really happens, only time will tell.

UKRAINE. PART-1. BI- LATERAL RELATIONS BETWEEN RUSSIA AND UKRAINE

1.Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February, launching the biggest military offensive in Europe since World War II. Moscow’s incursion into the territory of its south western neighbor has brought Ukraine into the world limelight. Ukraine with an area of 603,628 Square Kms is  the second largest country in Europe after Russia, which it borders to the east and north-east. It also shares borders with Belarus , Poland, Slovakia, Hungary , Romania and Moldova . Ukraine with 44 million people is the 8th most populous country in Europe, rich in coal, iron, natural gas, manganese, oil, graphite, timber and mercury. The nation’s capital and largest city is Kyiv, which is also the hub of culture and education.The territory of modern Ukraine has been inhabited since 32,000 BC. Ukraine became the founding member of the Soviet Union( USSR) in 1922. In 1939,Western Ukraine, with cultural and linguistic affinity with Europe was annexed by the USSR. Ukraine gained its independence on 24 August 1991 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

2.After it’s independence, Ukraine formed a unitary republic under a semi- presidential system and declared itself a neutral state, forming a limited military partnership with Russia, while also establishing a partnership with NATO in 1994. In 2013, after President Victor Yanukovych suspended the Ukraine- European Union Agreement in favor of closer economic ties with Russia, mass protests erupted , leading to the overthrow of the President and establishment of the new government. These events formed the background to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014, which was part of Russian Republic until 1954 when Soviet leadership transferred it to the Ukrainian republic.. This was also accompanied by Russian interference in uprising by ethnically Russians in Eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk( Donbas region).To date an estimated 14,000 people have been killed and  1.5 million displaced. This on going separatist movement in Eastern Ukraine and their liberation, is  cited as one of the reasons by President Putin of Russia for the invasion in February 2022.

3.Relations between Russia and Ukraine have remained hostile since the 2014 Revolution of Dignity. Ukraine post revolutionary government wished to commit the country to a future within bothEuropean Union( EU )and North Atlantic Treaty Organization ( NATO), rather than continue to play the delicate balancing game of balancing its economic and security interests with those of Russia, EU and NATO member states. In 2004 , Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia , Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia had joined the EU followed by Bulgaria and Romania in 2007. Russian government feared that Ukraine becoming of a member of EU and NATO would restrict Russia’s access to the Black Sea besides posing a military and nuclear threat to Russia.In 2019, under President Volodymyr Zelensky, amendments were made to the Constitution of Ukraine, which legalized the strategic course towards EU and NATO membership. Throughput 2021-22, a Russian military buildup on the border of Ukraine escalated tensions between the two countries and strained their bi lateral relations to the lowest ebb. The US strong message that an invasion by Russia would be met with dire consequences for Russia’s economy further escalated the brinkmanship.

  1. A genesis of inter-state relations between Ukraine and Russia , since the independence of Ukraine in 1991, reveals a Checkered history. Ukraine, on its part has not been able to develop an intrinsic sense of nationalism due to culturally, linguistically and ethnically diverse Eastern and Western regions. While the former are mostly Russian speaking and have cultural affinity with Russia, the later who joined Soviet Union as late as 1957, view themselves as part of Europe. After Russian capture of Crimea region in 2014 and its open support to the separatists in the Eastern region, there was a backlash in the Western part in manifestation of its desire to become part of EU and NATO.US and other European powers also played a role in fomenting this division and to wane away Ukraine from Russian influence. Since 1949 raising of NATO, it’s membership has been raised from 12 to 30 as of now. In 2008 when NATO approved the membership of Ukraine, Russia showed its resentment but it was ignored. In 2019 wen Ukraine formally legislated the bill to join EU and NATO, Russia draw a Red Line and started amassing forces at its border. The security concerns of Russia vis a vis Ukraine  emanate from two  critical factors ; presence of NATO on Ukraine soil and possibly nuclear missiles mere 150 miles away from Moscow( similar to US- Cuba missile crisis of 1962) and a ‘wall ‘of ex Warsaw Pact countries under the umbrella of NATO, blocking its access to the Black Sea. The present launching of Russian attack is to stem these security imperatives, fore-stall future ingress of EU & NATO to Russian allies and also  President Putin ambitions of revival of an imperialist Russia.

PAKISTAN-PART-V. NUCLEAR AND MISSILE PROGRAM

Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program was established in 1972 by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, then the President of Pakistan. India’s 1974 testing of a nuclear “device” and hostile statements by the Indian leadership, gave Pakistan’s nuclear program a new momentum. Through the late 1970s, Pakistan’s program acquired sensitive uranium enrichment technology and expertise. The 1975 arrival of Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan considerably advanced these efforts. Dr. Khan was a German-trained metallurgist who brought with him knowledge of gas centrifuge technologies that he had acquired through his position at the classified URENCO uranium enrichment plant in the Netherlands. He was put in charge of building, equipping and operating Pakistan’s Kahuta facility, which was established in 1976. Under Khan’s direction, Pakistan employed an extensive clandestine network in order to obtain the necessary materials and technology for its developing uranium enrichment capabilities.

In 1985, Pakistan crossed the threshold of weapons-grade uranium production, and by 1986 it is thought to have produced enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon. Pakistan continued advancing its uranium enrichment program, and according to Pakistani sources, the nation acquired the ability to carry out a nuclear explosion in 1987.As a response to India conducting five nuclear tests on 11 and 13 May,1998 Pakistan tested its nuclear devices on 28 May. The Pakistani Atomic Energy Commission reported that the five nuclear tests conducted on May 28 generated a seismic signal of 5.0 on the Richter scale, with a total yield of up to 40 KT (equivalent TNT). Dr. A.Q. Khan claimed that one device was a boosted fission device and that the other four were sub-kiloton nuclear devices. Details are reflected as follows:

DEVICEDATEYIELD
[announced]
YIELD
[estimated]
[boosted device?]28 May 199825-36 kilotontotal 9-12 kiloton
Fission device28 May 199812 kilotons
Low-yield device28 May 1998sub-kiloton
Low-yield device28 May 1998sub-kiloton
Low-yield device28 May 1998sub-kiloton
Fission device30 May 199812 kilotons4-6 kiloton
Fission devicenot detonated12 kilotons
 

 

Pakistan’s nuclear tests were followed by the February 1999 Lahore Agreements between Prime Ministers Vajpayee and Sharif. The agreements included confidence building measures such as advance notice of ballistic missile testing and a continuation of their unilateral moratoria on nuclear testing.

Pakistan’s nuclear program is based primarily on highly enriched uranium (HEU), which is produced at the A. Q. Khan research laboratory at Kahuta, a gas centrifuge uranium enrichment facility. The Kahuta facility has been in operation since the early 1980s. By the early 1990s, Kahuta had an estimated 3,000 centrifuges in operation, and Pakistan continued its pursuit of expanded uranium enrichment capabilities.

In the 1990s Pakistan began to pursue plutonium production capabilities. With Chinese assistance, Pakistan built the 40 MWt (megawatt thermal) Khusab research reactor at Joharabad, and in April 1998, Pakistan announced that the reactor was operational. According to public statements made by US officials, this heavy water reactor generates an estimated 8-10 kilotons of weapons grade plutonium per year, which is enough for one to two nuclear weapons. The reactor could also produce tritium if it were loaded with lithium-6. Khusab’s plutonium production capacity could allow Pakistan to develop lighter nuclear warheads that would be easier to deliver with a ballistic missile.

According to The Nuclear Notebook of the Federation of American Scientists, by 2021 Pakistan has 165 HEU-based nuclear warheads. This puts Pakistan ahead of Indian stockpiles of nuclear warheads. Pakistan like its arch rival India, also has a sea based second strike capability.    Pakistan’s nuclear warheads are based on an implosion design that uses a solid core of highly enriched uranium and requires an estimated 15-20 kg of material per warhead. According to Carnegie, Pakistan has also produced a small but unknown quantity of weapons grade plutonium, which is sufficient for an estimated 5-10 nuclear weapons.

Pakistan is pursuing a “full spectrum deterrence posture” which includes long range missiles and aircrafts for strategic missions as well as several short-range lower yield nuclear capable weapon systems in order to counter military threats below strategic level. The Nuclear and Missiles programs and its employment are handled by Strategic Planning Division (SPD), which is headed by a three-star general and works under the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff. The SPD is headed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan and its important meetings, depending on the environments are attended by relevant federal ministers, besides all the services chiefs.

Pakistan’s rapidly evolving missile arsenal forms an important part of its defense strategy for offsetting the significant conventional military advantages of its main rival, India. Pakistan’s arsenal consists primarily of mobile short and medium-range ballistic missiles, but it is also making significant strides in its cruise missile capability. Pakistan’s combined strategic forces allows it to target almost any point in India, and is now working more advanced technology such as multiple independent reentry vehicles (MIRV) to complicate developing Indian missile defense efforts. Pakistan has received significant technical assistance from China on its nuclear and missile programs.

 

Missile NameClassRangeStatus
AbabeelMRBM2,200 kmOperational
Abdali (Hatf 2)SRBM180 – 200 kmOperational
Babur (Hatf 7)Cruise Missile350 – 700 kmOperational
ExocetASCM40 – 180 kmOperational
Hatf 5 “Ghauri”MRBM1,250 – 1,500 kmOperational
Ghaznavi (Hatf 3)SRBM290 kmOperational
Hatf 1SRBM70 – 100 kmOperational
Nasr (Hatf 9)SRBM70 kmIn service
Ra’ad (Hatf 8)Cruise Missile350 kmTested in 2007
Shaheen 1 (Hatf 4)SRBM750 – 900 kmOperational
Shaheen 2 (Hatf 6)MRBM1,500 – 2,000 kmOperational
Shaheen 3MRBM2,750 kmOperational

 

Pakistan is pursuing an Offensive-Defense and its war fighting strategy is based on maintaining both a Conventional and Nuclear deterrence. It has fought three major wars and many skirmishes with India due to the unresolved issue of Jammu and Kashmir, which according to British formula for the division of Indian sub-continent in 1947, should have been part of Pakistan, being a Muslim majority state. The Nuclear program has given Pakistan the longest era of peace since the last war of 1971. Being only Muslim Nuclear-powered state, its program is focus of subversion by many hostile states. The safety standards applied to the nuclear reactors and the war heads have been continuously monitored by International Atomic Energy Commission and other world bodies and have been acclaimed. As a responsible nuclear state, Pakistan remains committed to the observance of highest safety standards and its prime use as a deterrence against any aggression.

Thualfuqar Center for Strategic Studies, Research and Human Rights .... Thualfuqar center is a private, independent research institution concerned with public affairs in Iraq and the effects of its regional and international environment.

contact us