Andrew Korybko

(Please read Part I and Part II prior to this article)

The third and last section of the article explores various scenario forecasts that build upon the ideological foundations explored in the previous two sections. In total, there are 6 predicted scenarios – the Union Of Kings, Islamic Republicanism Jumps The Pond, Egypt Resurrected, The Republican Arc, Turkish Tumult, and Retrogressive Rot – some of which can occur in conjunction with the others, while a few are mutually exclusive (Union of Kings cancels out Islamic Republicanism Jumps The Pond, and vice versa). Without further ado, here are some visions of the future to conclude the article series:

The Union Of Kings

Should this vision come to pass, then Saudi Arabia and its GCC allies will succeed in subduing the Ansarullah and returning Yemen back to its vassal state status. With its only geopolitical vulnerability heavily under occupied control (either directly or via proxy/mercenary forces), the Saudis can then proceed with their grand objective of unifying the GCC into an economic and political union of Kings. This entity may or may not succeed in integrating the Qatari and Omani holdouts (who have previously rejected such a configuration), but in its place would surely be GCC-aspirant Jordan and occupied Yemen (with President Hadi or any of his successors essentially de-facto serving as the autocratic ‘King of Yemen’).

While Egypt and Morocco have also expressed interest in joining the organization, their theoretic membership wouldn’t inhibit the functions of the core Peninsular Union headed by Saudi Arabia, as they’d simply become military extensions of the political-economic alliance centered on the Gulf. Egypt already behaves as though it’s a full-fledged GCC military member anyhow, so it’s not unreasonable that this status will one day be officiated in some manner, thereby formalizing an Arab NATO and satisfying one of the US and Israel’s strategic goals for the region by assembling a coalition of anti-Iranian militaries. From an ideological perspective, the Monarchic Absolutists would extend their control over the largest fake Secular Republic (Egypt) and subdue the independent ambitions of the poorest one (Yemen) on behalf of the Israeli Exceptionalists in order to oppose the Islamic Republic.

Islamic Republicanism Jumps The Pond

The polar opposite of the first scenario, this one sees Eastern Saudi Arabia faced with unrest, revolution, separatism, and possible fragmentation, as the population agitates against the Monarchy in order to achieve an Islamic Republic. Saudi Arabia’s security forces and their control over all sectors of society are of such strength at the moment that this scenario couldn’t occur without an external impetus, which could possibly be a successionist crisis in Oman. When the elderly and ailing King Qaboos finally passes away, three scenarios could possibly occur, two of which would likely provoke a Saudi (and GCC) military invasion a la Yemen. The full possibilities are: Omani royalty agree on an heir to King Qaboos and stability reigns (no Saudi invasion); Qatar and/or Turkey promote an “Islamic Democracy” (Muslim Brotherhood) movement that seeks to exploit the successionist crisis (Saudi invasion); or a movement emerges that supports the establishment of an Islamic Republic (Saudi invasion).

For the sake of this scenario, it doesn’t matter whether “Islamic Democracy” or Islamic Republic sympathies become public (or manipulated) among the population in the wake of King Qaboos’ passing, as either would trigger a Saudi invasion that would stretch its forces to their operational limits if it occurred in conjunction with the ongoing invasion and occupation of Yemen. It is this development which most exposes Saudi Arabia to a domestic uprising, as its military would have difficulty operating in three theaters at once (Yemen, Oman, and the Saudi’s own Eastern Province), even if they contracted GCC troops for this purpose (which is to be expected).

Altogether, the resulting unrest along the southern, southeastern, and eastern periphery of the peninsula might prove to be too much for the Saudis to simultaneously manage, leading to a defeat in one or more of the battlefields, which could then allow an Islamic Republic ally to emerge in Secular Yemen (per the Ansarullah vision and the strategic compatibility of Secular and Islamic Republics), or actual Islamic Republics to be created in Oman and/or the Eastern Province. Ideologically speaking, this would represent the democratic triumph of Islamic Republicanism over Monarchic Absolutism, either in form (like in Saudi-puppet Yemen) or in fact (such as in Oman and/or the Eastern Province).

Egypt Resurrected

According to this possibility, Egypt returns to its true Secular Republic and Resistance Bloc roots after shedding off Monarchic Absolutist control, most likely in the event that the Islamic Republicanism Jumps the Pond scenario is enacted to some degree (except to the extent that the Egyptian military agrees to be contracted by its Gulf patrons and intervene, although this doesn’t look too probable). As it stands, Sisi doesn’t seem to mind the billions of dollars of investment that he’s receiving from the Gulf, since it gives his country an opportunity to achieve certain domestic objectives that would otherwise be impossible to finance, most specifically the construction of a new capital, New Cairo . Although this donor-recipient arrangement definitely constrains his country’s foreign policy expressions to a degree, Sisi has still proven himself capable of having a relatively independent policy towards Russia, although it could also be that he did this after the Saudis first granted him permission. Ideally, Sisi would like to be indebted to no one so that he can be free to walk in the footsteps of his hero Nasser in reviving Egyptian geopolitical grandiosity and making his country one of the sovereign centers of the multipolar world.

As was said, this will obviously take time, and on the surface it appears as though Sisi is moving in the opposite direction per his de-facto admission into the Arab NATO. He likely took this decision as a means of paying back his creditors by offering up the Egyptian military as mercenary units for the GCC’s military adventure in Yemen, but if his financiers entered into significant trouble and were no longer as economically powerful or stable as they once were, he might be tempted to act more on his own and outside the confines of their commands. Of course, this also means that the economic lifelines he was extended early on would have dried up and that his country could face real structural (yet currently delayed) economic problems, but if the New Suez Canal and other foreign investment programs are successful (for example, in attracting non-Gulf investment for New Cairo), then he might be able to weather the coming storm and have his country emerge all the more stronger and sovereign because of it.

This scenario, however, is conditional on the fact that Sisi truly sees himself as being the second coming of Nasser (even if he behaved like traitorous Sadat through the War on Yemen), so if that’s the case and he remains in power for long enough, then he might truly begin acting on this belief and strengthening his Secular Republic to the point that it acquires a Resistance Bloc affiliation (although it might only become pragmatic, and not overly friendly, with Iran). This would be done at the expense of the Monarchist Absolutists’ control over his country and would likely have to be carried out with speed, relative surprise, and most of all, political determination in order to be successful and preempt any opposing plots against it. Whether intentional or not, Egypt’s moves towards Russia (even if they are supported by Saudi Arabia, unbeknownst of the full consequences) indicate that it could realistically enact a structural shift as regards its present international position, albeit without the financial largesse that it’s become accustomed to these past few years, should it so choose or the opportunity conveniently arise. The overall consequences of this geo-ideological transformation would be immeasurable and would undoubtedly change the geopolitical calculus of the Mideast, although one shouldn’t get their hopes up about it occurring in the near future.

The Republican Arc

If this scenario comes to pass, then it will see a rejuvenated Resistance Arc in effect between Syria, Iraq, and Iran, with the possible incorporation of Lebanon (if it can be stabilized) and Yemen (if the Saudis can be fought back), whereby all the West Asian Arab Republics enter into geopolitical alignment. A variation of this scenario could also see Egypt joining the mix, provided that the abovementioned vision is actualized, but for the intent of this scenario, it will be purposely left out. The Republican Arc is of course a lot easier to speak about than to create, so it deserves a few qualifications about its composition in order to better understand the probability for its formation.

Syria, Iraq, and Iran were the most recent iteration of the Resistance Arc up until ISIL’s rise last year, which led to the behind-the-scenes US coup in deposing Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki. Although he and his country were heavily indentured to the US and its influence in some key sectors (such as military training), he sought to bring order out of Iraq’s chaos by moving the country closer to Iran, which thus made it an ally of sorts for Syria for the first time in its history, even if this was only of a passive nature. The US expectedly did not approve of this arrangement and sought to dismantle it, thus explaining its refusal to support Iraq against ISIL until Maliki left (or was kicked out) power . With Iraq now completely disorganized and a typical Dysfunctional State, it’s unable to play any role, be it active or passive, along the Republican/Resistance Arc due to the threat and geopolitical impediment posed by ISIL. In order for Iraq to return as a member of the Arc, it must first succeed in its anti-terrorist war and remove the obstacle between it and Syria.

The more that the War on ISIL drags on and Iraq’s domestic problems continue to be exacerbated, the more likely it is that the country will split into three parts – Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish – either internally (through some type of forthcoming federative agreement) or externally (as three separate states). For that reason, this scenario branch must also be taken into account by the Republican Arc, since if the Kurdish and Sunni portions of a reconstituted or dissolved Iraq are not supportive of the Two Republics (Syria-Iran), then they’d block the contiguity of a Syria-Shiite Iraq-Iran strategic alliance (similar in structural form to what ISIL is currently doing). This predicament could be precluded by the existence of a friendly Kurdistan (either within the framework of Iraq or independently as a separate Secular Republic outside of it) that behaves as a physical bridge between Syria and Iran, all the while reaping the strategic benefits of such a position. It’s not entirely impossible for this to occur, as despite the pro-American disposition of Iraqi Kurdistan, there are some within it that are thankful for the Iranian support they’ve received against ISIL and would reorient their post-war geopolitical affiliation to something more neutral and pragmatic. This might meet with resistance within the Kurdish entity among those who are opposed to Iran and don’t mind being used for test-run Hybrid War purposes against Tehran (possibly even leading to intra-Kurdish civil conflict), but if the Kurdish creation ultimately sides with the Republican governments of Syria and Iran, then it would strengthen the axis between them and revive the Republican/Resistance Arc.

Turkish Turmoil

Seguing into the next scenario, Turkey is steadily moving towards ever more internal turmoil, and this is greatly brought about by the ongoing Kurdish Insurgency , itself the result of a spectacularly failed political gambit by Erdogan. In a desperate bid to shore up nationalist support for the AKP in the upcoming snap elections designed to institutionalize his “Islamic Democracy (Dictatorship)”, he provoked the PKK into disregarding the difficultly clinched ceasefire of recent years so as to ‘justify’ a harsh crackdown against them and their affiliated People’s Democratic Party (HDP) political organ. It was thought that the full submission of the Kurdish population would be a military prerequisite before a full-scale invasion of Syria, since Erdogan didn’t want the Turkish military to be ‘stabbed in the back’ by independence-motivated Kurds (inspired by their Syrian YPG and Iraqi Peshmerga brethren) after it throws all of its forces towards a new front in the south.

The specter of a full-fledged Kurdish Insurgency mirroring the thirty-year-long one that began in 1982 is a nightmare scenario for Turkey, which would then have its East-West connective energy infrastructure threatened by continual sabotage, further undermining the country’s international profile and geopolitical prestige. These fears, combined with the political uncertainty plaguing the country in the run-up to the 1 November snap elections, have contributed to the Turkish lira falling to a record low against the dollar, which could jeopardize the hopes that some have had of Turkey becoming a major economic leader in the near future. This brings one to a discussion of Turkey’s other problems, which are related to its domestic political system and the transformative changes that it’s on the verge of going through. The upcoming vote isn’t just about Erdogan’s political future, but that of the entire country, since its political identity is literally up for grabs. Voters must decide whether they want Turkey to be a pro-American “Islamic Democracy (Dictatorship)” or a pro-American Secular Republic, and as it stands, the population is leaning more towards the latter, which infuriates Erdogan to no limit.

Even if he manages to somehow win the ballot (which is presently unlikely ), Erdogan would have to make sure that the secular military doesn’t overthrow him like they did his Islamist predecessors in 1960 and during the ‘postmodern’ coup of 1997 . The President looks to have predicted this possibility long in advance when he jailed supposed military coup plotters against him back in 2003 (who were released on a technicality last year per court order), which sent a strong message to the armed forces that he would push back against any possible plots against him (especially if US-based pseudo-religious cleric Fethullah Gulen is in any way linked to it). In the years since, he’s sought to extend his control over the military even more in order to mitigate the chances that it would ever threaten his rule. This doesn’t mean that a military coup is impossible, but that it’s become less likely from a tactical (but not necessarily motivational) standpoint than during any other period of Turkish history. Still, the ballooning Kurdish insurgency (which was absolutely unnecessary and purposely made worse by Erdogan’s militant reaction) and fears over a disastrous military campaign in Syria might be enough to push them over the edge into acting, especially if Erdogan continues pressing forward with the Islamization of Turkish society if the AKP wins in November.

What one is thus left with when they assess the current state of Turkey today is a country whose slowing economy is made all the much worse by the growing Kurdish insurgency and prolonged domestic political differences, which contributes to its overall geopolitical confusion and makes possible an opening for a restorative coup attempt. In sum, it’s undeniable that Turkey is moving towards Dysfunctional State status, although it might not ever fully get to that disastrous point if responsible political and military decisions are made as soon as possible to pull it back from the brink. Concluding with an ideological examination of these dynamics, the pro-American Secular Republic will either retain its formal domestic characteristics (by vote or by coup) or become an “Islamic Democracy (Dictatorship), with the ultimate Black Swan event being if a military coup somehow manages to liberate the country from American control and turn it into a Resistance Bloc member (similar to how the military coup liberated Thailand). Therefore, the historic election on 1 November will lead to Turkey as it is presently known either being retained (pro-American Secular Republic), changed (“Islamic Democracy/Dictatorship”), saved (Resistance Bloc Secular Republic), or made to fail (Dysfunctional State).

Retrogressive Rot

The final scenario to be discussed is the effect that ISIL’s occupation of Iraq will have on its population, and how this will lead to certain geopolitical consequences. The contents of this scenario don’t apply so much to the Syrian segment of the fake Caliphate because far less people are under its control (Raqqa is incomparable to Mosul), and also because the local population didn’t welcome the terrorists as “ liberators ” like some of their Iraqi counterparts did (thus showing a preexisting inclination towards religious extremism) or ally with them after the fact. Additionally, it’s not realistically forecast that the group will significantly expand its territorial control in Syria because of Russia’s dedicated efforts there to assemble an anti-ISIL coalition . The conversation thus shifts to one about the effectiveness of this said military agglomeration and its sufficiency in achieving the primary goal of eradicating ISIL.

It could very well be that internal differences plague it to the degree that the ‘coordinated’ coalition merely halts the terrorists’ advance and indefinitely contains them to their nest along the Syrian-Iraqi border. This doesn’t mean that they’re neutralized, however, since the very existence of ISIL is detrimental to state unity and has serious repercussions for the countries that it occupies, especially Iraq. The strategic innovation that ISIL is credited with applying to terrorism is that it seizes, holds, and expands its territorial conquests, thus making it the first real example of state-destructing terrorism, a new form of asymmetrical warfare. It can also be seen as the military application of Hybrid War, which is the combination of conventional and unconventional tactics into a fast-paced and aggressive campaign launched alongside an intense information barrage. As ISIL incubates in Iraq, it begins to engineer the mentality of its occupied population through its forced radicalism (of which many of them regretfully appear susceptible to as it is), which makes it all the more difficult for them to reintegrate into unified Iraqi society post-liberation. The terrorists’ artificial promotion of sectarian differences makes it all the more likely that this population will agitate for some type of separate status from their Shia co-nationals, thus moving the country closer towards the federalization or fragmentation models (both of which are detrimental to national unity).

Additionally, the rot of Wahhabist Retrogression can also be felt in Saudi Arabia, the center of this ideology and the cradle in which it was incidentally formed as a sub-strain of Monarchist Absolutism, and perhaps even in the other Gulf Kingdoms to a lesser extent. Since ISIL’s ideological sway and mastery of social media has allowed for its lone wolf/fifth column expansion to easily penetrate international borders, it’s fair to venture that in as fertile of a social environment as Saudi Arabia is, the terrorists receive a disproportionate amount of sympathy when compared to other Mideast states. With time, this retrogressive rot will likely begin to manifest itself with more suicide bombings and perhaps even an attempt to acquire territory (the Syria-Iraq scenario), which would create a serious domestic security crisis for the Kingdom. In fact, it might even spur the Shiite population in the Eastern Province to stage their own parallel (non-terrorist-related) revolt in order to save themselves from the sinking Sunni ship and set up the Peninsular Islamic Republic spoken about in the second scenario. In reference to that happening, Saudi Arabia would then have two simultaneous domestic crises to deal, with which could be made even more difficult to manage if they sprout up concurrently with the War on Yemen and any possible invasion of Oman. The ultimate scenario that these combined developments move towards is the total collapse of the Kingdom, which in this case would be brought about by Wahhabist Retrogression slaughtering its ideological parent of Monarchist Absolutism, and in its wake perhaps even creating an opportune possibility for the Mideast’s second Islamic Republic to be created on the other side of the Gulf.

The Essential Saker: from the trenches of the emerging multipolar world