Mr. Truevtsev, the shocks that the Middle East is going through can change the map of the region. Is there a threat of new states emerging on the local arena? Are there any political tools to counter this risk or there is no alternative to a military solution?
— We are more likely to see the breakup of existing states into several territories along the Somalia scenario. The worst case situation would be not seeing new countries emerging, but a complete absence of statehood which proves to be the perfect breeding ground for modern terrorism. The risk of such a scenario is very real in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen. In each of these countries it's not just a threat - it's a process that has actually started.
Today it's Libya and Iraq that are closest to an irreversible collapse. In Libya, it's a fait accompli and it's more about restoring statehood than preserving it.
The threat of Kurdistan's secession is very high for Iraq, and at the same time we are seeing a process of demarkation between the Shia and Sunni territories that has been accompanied with ethnic cleansing. If Kurdistan does break away from Iraq, the country is likely to break into three, not two, independent regions. The most unstable of them would be the Sunni part that is comprised of the Anbar province and part of the Nineveh province (perhaps with some fragmants of adjacent territories).
Since the borders between Iraq and Syria are so porous, the process is likely to spill over. In this case, Syria’s fragmentation will exacerbate, but it might also give a new lease of life to ISIS, motivating some of the population to join the terrorist group.
Yemen is facing a real political and military settlement, with the south and the north emerging as separate territories.
Damage could be minimized through establishing a federation or a confederation or even through a civilized divorce, but there are disputed territories like the Taiz province and the area around the Mandeb Strait. There is also a high risk that the south will break down into more regions (Hadhramaut could break away, and no-man’s land could appear along the Abyan and Shabwah line). In this case, the terrorist threat would increase immensely.
The countries need to take urgent measures to avert these extremely negative scenarios. This measures must be exclusively political because no international forces can be strong enough to resolve them through force given so many different trends taking shape.
There is still time to switch from war to political measures. But each of these cases requires a dedicated approach.
In case of Iraq, the main goal would be to get a commitment from the government of Iraq’s Kurdistan to at least delay the issue of secession for a long period of time. It’s Kurds that could have become an ideal mediator helping to ease sectarian tension.
The most urgent issue for Syria would be to avoid the creation of new enclaves outside Syria’s Kurdistan as well as to re-establish tight control on the Iraqi border as part of the final stage of the operation to wipe out ISIS. And they have to start the process right now.
It’s also important to avoid a situation when Syria’s Sunnis would have their own territories and the reconciliation process must be inclusive taking into account the interests of different denominations, and this process must be implemented both tenaciously and delicate.
In case of Libya the reconciliation efforts should engage not only the parties recognized by the international community in Tripoli and Tobruk (Fayez Mustafa al-Sarraj and Khalifa Haftat) but also local militia, tribes and ethnic groups not allied with terrorists. This has to be a very painstaking job but there is no alternative to it.
To resolve the Yemeni crisis, the Houthis, and their government, have first to be recognized as a party to the conflict. Then the peace process should start using the Normandy-Minsk format, with regional and international stakeholders involved, backed up by a UN Security Council resolution. The southern delegation must be picked very thoroughly. Regional elites must be engaged, too, so that at a certain stage they could join the peace process. This will pave the way for talks on the type of Yemen’s statehood which will be the final stage of the settlement process.
Why do refugees from Muslim countries with a strong religious focus are so eager to move to Europe? How can the EU resolve the migrant crisis?
— People want to live in European for a very trivial reason – they see it as an ideal place to live, not just financially but also in terms of security, comfort, and opportunities for individuals and families. The EU propaganda and the concept of multiculturalism are partly to blame. People from the Middle East were lured by the image created by the EU’s soft power. Partly to blame is also the previous generations of migrants from those regions who now live in Europe.
As for the solution to the crisis, the conflicts that caused it have to be resolved as soon as possible, and investment has to be made to develop those countries.
As for those who have already come to Europe, the governments need to come up with programs that would ensure their integration into local societies. But as we see today, no such mechanisms are in place which means that the governments would have to learn to work out solutions.
Can the issue of Central Asian migrants in Russia be compared with the EU migrant crisis in terms of integration into society – respect for cultural traditions, learning the language, applying for work patents? Is it really feasible to solve the problem?
— Certainly, it’s not easy to integrate Central Asian migrants into the Russian society, but it appears that this process is still less painful than in Europe and those socialization mechanisms in some cases are more effective than in the EU. This is due to the fact that our countries have originally developed as part of a shared space and a single civilizational and cultural paradigm. No matter what some say, Soviet methods were quite effective in integrating and recruiting elites, and they were the same for this shared space. If we use this legacy in the right way, making the necessary adjustments to the current realities, we might see an easier adaptation for Central Asian migrants in Russia than in the EU.