As the international tug of war continues in Ukraine, with the big powers flexing their muscles in the east of the country, those in the Middle East would do well not to ignore the emerging crisis.
Undoubtedly, there are quite enough distractions closer to home, but, with a history of being used as a proxy battleground for others’ conflicts, this region knows only too well what it feels like to be manipulated and played like a pawn. For the last 100 or so years, the Middle East has been acutely vulnerable to the whims and wishes of external powers, due to its unique geography, demographics, religious and sectarian makeup and its finely balanced alliances and friendships.
While a bit further afield, the events in Ukraine will likely have ramifications here, also. Understandably more concerned with events in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Palestine – basically every country in the region – politicians here must pay heed to the events in Eastern Europe. To not do so would be political naivete.
Unfortunately, as with all previous squabbles and spats between the East and West, the situation in Ukraine will affect things here, whether it be oil and gas prices, the Iranian nuclear deal, Gulf relations with Western allies or the Palestinian “peace process.”
This emerging battle will not become World War III, but it looks set to certainly destabilize much of the global status quo. The powers in the Middle East, whether or not they have their own tarnished images to deal with, must monitor events in Ukraine closely, while maintaining a distance, otherwise they may find their own interests even further trampled on when it comes to dividing the booty.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 03, 2014, on page 7.