Middle East time bomb

Interview with Vyacheslav Matuzov, Russian veteran diplomat and expert in North Africa and Middle East policies.

Now we are on a new stage of developing events in Libya, when the western forces acknowledged, that they cannot solve the issue with only establishing no-fly zone over Libyan air. I think that ground operation is inevitable to achieve goals, proclaimed by NATO, by the United States administration.

There have been some discussions about ground operations several weeks ago, when some observers were telling me that there are already advisors in Libya, acting on the side of the rebels, does that imply that the ground operation has already started?

When I hear about occurrence here and there in Libya with some forces, some regiments, some French, British, American special forces, I can conclude, that we have in our experience such kind of the example as in Iraq, in Afghanistan. We know they are operating a private army, established by the United States Ministry of Defense. I think that this kind of military non-governmental forces can easily operate in Libya, in any other country of the world without any responsibilities before their parliaments, before their governments, before the people of the western countries. It is a dangerous direction of developing the political situation in the world, not only in Libya.

Do you remember that several weeks ago there were many reports that Gaddafi is using contractors, so, do I get that right, that we are entering a phase where there is a war of contractors, not of regular armies?

It is a big lie to cover other trend, because real non-governmental forces are operating on the side of opposition, and it is only physical presence of French, British and American military forces in Libya, but officially they supply undercover of the humanitarian purposes, which including unknown kind of materials, it may be huge amounts of money to support the American policy in Libya.

What we are witnessing now in Libya, is an escalation of tension, to use a cliché, but then very much was being said about the ultimate goal of the operation, and it does look more and more so, that the ultimate goal of the operation is the removal of Mr Gaddafi. But he is still there. So what’s happening?

The goals of American targets in Libya changed. First of all, it was supporting civil population, which suffered under Muammar Gaddafi’s pressure; it is a declared goal. But now another target was positioned by American policy in Libya – it is changing the government, it is changing all the country; it is absolutely different approach to what is going on in Libya; it contradicts all the resolutions of the Security Council of the UN. It is obvious violation of the Security Council’s work. It is surprising that till now the Security Council is incapable to get a new meeting to listen to NATO organization leadership, what they are doing in Libya and how it corresponds to those restrictions, which they had put upon NATO organization’s work in Libya. This is an obvious pretext to bring to power in Libya certain political forces. But I have a question to NATO, to the United States administration, what kind of political forces they intend to bring to power not only in Libya, but in Algeria, in Syria, in Egypt, in Yemen and in Jordan? When I have a look at all these processes in all these countries, I can make a conclusion that the only one organized force in all these mentioned countries and it is based on the traditional Islamic idea, it is traditional Islamic force – Muslim Brotherhood, or, for example, in Tunisia it is An-Nahda, an Islamic organization, but it is also extremist and fundamentalist in nature. So when the purpose of the United States is to remove all the leaderships in the Arab world: Assad, Gaddafi, Ben Ali, Ali Saleh Mohammed, King Abdullah II, instead of those leaders they would bring a certain Islamic fundamentalist forces in power. What interest they are trying to realize here by pushing ahead all these revolutions? I think, that these revolutions are not a product of local political situations, especially in Libya, because it is a rich country, they had big difficulties between tribes in Libya, and using all these difficulties to change the government and to bring Islamic fundamentalist forces to power is dangerous, and in danger not only local people, but the whole Europe, even the United States. Have administration of the US responsibility for supporting this trend or not – this is the question.

If you remember the expert community has been involved for some time in discussions about whether the situation in Yemen is going to follow the Libyan scenario; and Yemen, at least as western experts were telling me, is home to al-Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula, which is even more serious than Muslim Brotherhood.

When they are talking about al-Qaeda, when they are talking about Muslim Brotherhood, I can say only one thing: al-Qaeda was established as a political movement by the CIA men, because Bin Laden was the CIA agent in the beginning of fighting, mobilizing of money and Islamic process in Afghanistan against Soviet military presence in this country. After that the Unites States lost their ability to govern that process, and we had September 11, where Al-Qaeda began working against those who created it. The same thing is concerned to the Muslim Brotherhood. I know quite a lot of memoirs of British intelligence service officers, who remember that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was created by the British intelligence service with purpose to make Islamic resistance against spreading communist ideas in the Middle East. And this purpose was working until now, when they were fighting the Russian presence in Syria in 1983-1985, when they were killing Russian officers, who were supporting the Syrian army; they were coming to Syria from Jordan, through those cities on the border of Jordan, made some terroristic acts against Russian officers and came back to Jordan. And when Jordanian authorities were asked, why you are permitting such kind of terroristic organizations to operate on your country, that they are crossing the border to Syria, making some terroristic actions and returning back, the Jordan authorities answered, we cannot control them, because we are prohibited to touch them, because they are undercover of CIA organization; they are not responsible to us. So Muslim Brotherhood through many decades is supported by the CIA, and when nowadays the New York Times printed an article, saying that the CIA one year ago established relations with Muslim Brotherhood, I don’t believe that it was one year ago, I believe it was at least 40 years ago, when these connections were established and pushing Muslim Brotherhood to power in all these traditional Arab societies, it may be the same fault, which occurred in Afghanistan, when they created al-Qaeda and its head – Bin Laden. The history is repeating in this case.

Your point is that those who invented and created and have been supporting Muslim Brotherhood can lose their control over the organization, just as they seemingly lost the control over al-Qaeda?

I think, they are dreaming that they are not; they think, they will continue controlling all these people afterwards, but I am not sure if they would be capable to keep this control after coming to power in Egypt, in Tunisia, in Libya, in Syria, in Jordan, in many other countries and even in Saudi Arabia. The revolutions changed those countries inevitably, brought extremist terroristic forces. I think that need for revolutions is obvious, but alternative political forces are not ready to take their place, except Islamic fundamentalist extremist forces, they are operating under cover of the CIA. I do not think that an American government or the EU are responsible for all that is going on; the political leadership of the west in European Union and the US think three times before they take some political decisions to support fundamentalists coming to power in the Arab world.

Just to illustrate how far the ripples, coming from the situation in Libya and in the Middle East, go.

Even the Washington Post published some materials saying that they made analyses about CIA reduced something about 600 Al-Qaeda fundamentalist elements, coming abroad to Iraq, to fight American army in Iraq; and in the first place it was people from Libya, there are volunteers from Libya coming to Iraq to fight Americans. I do not think that Americans unaware of all these developments, they are aware, but till now they are trying to open an opportunity in Libya for coming to power and to replace Muammar Gaddafi. I think, it is the best choice for the West to think twice and if they want free democratic elections in Libya, they should except African Union proposals for peaceful political solution of the situation in Libya and on this base organize undercover of the Security Council of the UN a peaceful negotiations inside Libya. Military way inevitably will bring other forces to power, which are unfriendly not only to the western culture, but to the American interest as well.

What actually put me on alert is an opinion peace, which I discovered in one of the Chinese newspapers, the Global Times. Its headline says that Russian and Chinese militaries draw conclusions from Libyan war. Does not it a little bit bring to mind the situation with Iran, and if you remember, the US pressing on Iran actually resulted in making it stronger.

That is correct. I heard a lot of words from our military personal, having the same opinion, because they are now make conclusions. Now what forces are playing a leading role in military operations in Libya? They are private army, operating in Libya, Côte d’Ivoire, who knows, where they will appear tomorrow; I do not exclude that even in Yemen, in Syria, in Iran it can be used; new invention of American Ministry of Defense is the subject for thorough thinking by military analytics in Chinese Ministry of Defense and in Russian Ministry of Defense. The world is developing, means of fighting are also changing; all these things should be taken into account for all who are interested in defending their own national interest, including Russia and China.

Just to sum it up, your point is what we are witnessing now in the Middle East and North Africa is some sort of a new time bomb, which is being created by western forces. And the time bomb could blow up the whole world, figuratively speaking.

There are changes in the world policy, because these new politics that were demonstrated by the United States administration, they have established new role for the world order. The new world order in now beginning testing its power in different regions of the world, in Africa, in Côte d’Ivoire, in Arab world, and even it can be spread afterwards to other regions. I think that this new approach to the world policy is demonstrated very clearly in the Middle East, it is a creation of new and big Middle East with new frontiers.

[Source: The Voice of Russia, Moscow, 25Apr11]

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