on the organization of the debate “Military and geopolitical tensions in the Middle East: impact on the Republic of Moldova and position of the Republic of Moldova”. Developing Political Culture through Public Debates”. Public debates series held by the news agency IPN in its conference room with the support of the German Foundation “Hanns Seidel”
Held on 13 January 2020, Debate No.123 brought together: ex-minister of defense Viorel Cibotaru, director of the European Institute for Political Studies of Moldova; Aurelian Lavric, expert in security studies; international relations expert Ion Tăbârță; IPN project’s standing expert Igor Boțan.
The IPN project’s standing expert Igor Boțan said that at first sight, it seems that the situation in the Middle East does not affect the Republic of Moldova, but this is not true. “The Republic of Moldova is affected, at least its citizens, first of all emotionally. When the Constitution of the European Union that wasn’t adopted was drafted, this clearly said that the European civilization is Judaist-Christian in origin. For all the Europeans, the developments in the Near East have an emotional impact. The second thing is that tens of thousands of our compatriots moved to live in Israel and we are surely concerned about their wellbeing as they must feel well there. And from economic viewpoint, the prices of hydrocarbons depend on the situation in this region and this certainly affects us all,” noted the expert.
According to him, even if the Republic of Moldova is far away, the developments in that region should be followed attentively in Moldova. The authorities should have a particular attitude and should not make mistakes, given the reduced potential of the Republic of Moldova. “As to Iran, if we want to understand what’s going on there, we can see an introduction into the theocratic Iranian State in the preamble of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, where things are explained. Those who are interested should know that after the revolution of 1979, the decisions in Iran have been taken by referendum and the Constitution was adopted also by referendum. This thing should be comprehended. The configuration of power in Iran is also endorsed by referendum.”
Ex-minister of defense Viorel Cibotaru, director of the European Institute for Political Studies of Moldova, noted that the key words in the context of the discussion are “failed states”. “Most of these states in the Middle or Near East were created artificially after World War One, in 1920, after the collapse of the British, French and Ottoman Empires. So, these continue to be a very important source of rivalry in the area not only from religious viewpoint, but also as regards the constitution of states, if we think about the Curds, the Iranians, the inhabitants of Iraq. Yes, the tensions have a powerful religious motivation, but there are also these statehood, reconstitution, reconfiguration motivations that represent an element of conflict themselves, especially if we refer to the relations between the Emirates in the Gulf, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates – the discrepancies between them and these players, such as Iran, Iraq, Syria, Israel,” stated Viorel Cibotaru.
According to him, on the one hand the geopolitical aspect is important firstly as regards the energy resources – petroleum and gas - which are also key words in this area. The big battle is given for resources and it is motivational in many of the moves made and actions taken by the great powers. Here we see a very active game of the United States, China, the Russian Federation, the European Union at economic level and as regards the participation in NATO, for example. This resulted in the recent developments,” stated the former minister of defense. In another development, I would refer less to the disseminated political decisions and more to the war waged by the army of the U.S., NATO, the special services against this segment that provides terrorism detachments, groups, individuals. The risk of escalation is minor as no one wants an open war with the use of armed forces. But such tragic cases as the downing of the Ukrainian plan and other existing confrontations can lead to such a situation in the future,” stated Viorel Cibotaru.
Aurelian Lavric, expert in security studies, said the internal situation in the United States is a factor that deserves to be mentioned. “The presidential elections are pending and it is actually not a secret that the operation to eliminate General Qasem Soleimani was somehow generated by image advisers, political technologies designed to improve the rating of President Donald Trump before the U.S. presidential elections. For example, in the relations with North Korea, Trump had a rather peaceful behavior. I think this is an election campaign element that consists in the pieces of advice that President Trump will receive from these advisers who determine a new eventual victory of Trump in elections,” noted Aurelian Lavric.
The expert considers the transition from unipolar world order to multipolar world order is another factor that influences the situation in the Middle East. “If there are voices in the law enforcement agencies in the United States that will call on the political administration to adopt the behavior of a world leader who dares to act as they want, everywhere, especially in the Near East, surely an escalation of the conflict is very probable,” said Aurelian Lavric, adding the very irritating attitude of Iran towards Israel should not be excluded. “In time, since 1979 until now, spiritual and political leaders of Iran have said the state of Israel should simply disappear. There is this rivalry between Israel and Iran. And I think it is not a secret that there are very important international financial groups in the United States that support Israel and will do their best to protect this state, including through the escalation of a conflict with Iran.”
International relations expert Ion Tăbârță said the Middle East is currently the most neuralgic point on Earth, a place full of tensions. “We can say that the Middle East is a region that for the international relations, for the stability on the international area plays the same role as the Balkans for Europe. They even made comparisons between these two regions, surely with particular reservations. On the other hand, this region was the cradle of human civilization, being always full of history. It was and is a real cultural, religious mosaic, a region with special meaning.”
The expert noted that a lot was said about the interests of the U.S., Iran and the contradictory relations between these states. But other important players in the region, such as Turkey, should not be neglected. This county plays an active part in international policy, especially in this region, under the direction of the current President. There is also Syria. “For now, we cannot speak about a war despite that elimination of the Iranian general and the rather symbolic retaliation of Iran against the United States. But Donald Trump’s rhetoric shows that a war between the U.S. and Iran is not wanted. Things are very difficult, but the position of the big players should be analyzed.”
The Agency published 5 news stories on the debate (see the English version of www.ipn.md): on 13.01.20, „Military and geopolitical tensions in Middle East: impact on Moldova. IPN debate” - https://www.ipn.md/en/military-and-geopolitical-tensions-in-middle-east-impact-on-moldova-8004_1070766.html; „Ion Tăbârță: Moldova should have a balanced position on events in Middle East” - https://www.ipn.md/en/ion-tabarta-moldova-should-have-a-balanced-position-on-events-8004_1070768.html; „Aurelian Lavric: Moldova cannot align itself with the U.S. or with Iran” - https://www.ipn.md/en/aurelian-lavric-moldova-cannot-align-itself-with-the-us-8004_1070770.html; „Viorel Cibotaru: Events in Middle East point to war against terrorism” - https://www.ipn.md/en/viorel-cibotaru-events-in-middle-east-point-to-war-against-8004_1070771.html; „Igor Boţan: Moldova has modest potential to manage situation in Near East” - https://www.ipn.md/en/aurelian-lavric-moldova-cannot-align-itself-with-the-us-8004_1070772.html.
IPN promoted the debate before and after the event, in particular the ensuing news stories, using all the available channels, including social networks. Confirmatory materials of deliverables, as well as a media coverage dossier are attached.
Valeriu Vasilica, director of IPN