The Middle East: The End of Eternity

The fact that humanity has entered a new stage of its development does not need proof. This concerns the whole world, and hence each of its regions, particularly the Middle East, which has a chance to find a new destiny and a new role in the emerging world order.

One of the most important features of the current global crisis is that it is taking place in a world that has never existed before. Of course, there are different regions and different regional problems, but today no-one can isolate themselves from everyone else. As has been noted many times, the interdependence of countries upon each other in all areas – the economy, security, communications, energy, culture and many others - is growing, but there are clearly not enough regulatory tools for these interdependencies. This discrepancy and disequilibrium is one of the most important causes of the current world crisis, underscoring the obvious need for its modernisation. It is no less obvious that there is no single approach to the formation of a new world order. While many countries are striving for multi-polarity, hoping to create more or less equal conditions for all, others, primarily the Western countries, are trying to consolidate the hierarchy in which they dominate. The existing dissonance leads to the fact that the formation of a new world structure goes by roundabout ways, not directly - through regional communities, and through associations of countries based on the coincidence of certain interests.

Therefore, the situation in the Middle East must be considered in the context of the global situation, the "crumbling" of the former world order. 

The Middle East has repeatedly played an outstanding role in the development of human civilization. Suffice it to recall the Fertile Crescent, where agriculture appeared thousands of years ago, which played an outstanding role in the development of mankind. Its role in the ancient world goes without saying, as well as its role in the development of world religions. Even tens of thousands of years prior to the Neolithic period, it was through the Middle East that the migration routes of the first Homo sapiens arriving from Africa passed.

Today, the Middle East is going through a very important and in many ways new stage in its development. On the one hand, the global development crisis has led to numerous challenges for the countries of the region; on the other hand, it also generates new opportunities. Yes, there are still many conflicts, contradictions, and traces of a very heavy historical legacy. But at the same time, some experts confidently talk about the "New Middle East." There are reasons; above all, the amazing dynamics of development in many countries of the region. Here we are talking not only about obvious economic successes. We can also talk about socio-political progress, about the emergence of new identities, about the rethinking by societies of their position in the world, and their role in the development of the world as a whole.

Watching the Middle East once again, you are convinced that, alas, the millstones of history are slowly grinding, and that a human lifespan is short when measured against the pace of time. The fact is that the current political configuration in the region arose, in general, only after the Second World War; that is, historically, quite recently. Of course, many features of the current situation began to be outlined much earlier - I have already mentioned this, but still the current state of affairs is the result of relatively recent events.

In general, the countries of the Middle East today are facing new opportunities and have not failed to take advantage of them. New political elites with a new political outlook have formed. These elites are quite closely connected with the population and, together with it, are determined to accelerate the development of their countries. Moreover, they are most actively developing their own worldview, they are determined to ensure that a balance is achieved in society, a certain social harmony.

Incidentally, this is precisely why there are so many contradictions in the same Western countries that are trying to impose their own system of values. In the East, it is well understood that the value system is the main element in the design of the management system. First of all, it is necessary to manage so that the values that are important for people can be realized and protected.

In essence, the discussion is about what types of political organisation of society are applicable in the Middle East, which, as we note, is notable for its significant diversity. It is clear enough that Turkey is very different from Egypt, and Saudi Arabia differs from Iraq. But with all their diversity, all these countries are looking for stability, and this requires more general global stability and predictability, because, I repeat, these countries are deeply integrated into the world economy, and not only in terms of the energy sector.

If you like, the search for opportunities for sustainable development is the semantic core of the policy of the "New Middle East". Curiously, the countries of the region do not seek isolation at all; rather, on the contrary, they hope to expand ties with the outside world, but via a balanced expansion in which these countries will be able to independently construct the reality in which they want to live. Incidentally, Russia plays an important role in the desired balance, from the point of view of the countries of the region.

So the upcoming, already traditional 12th Valdai Club Middle East Conference will be devoted to the very important issues that affect the current situation in the Middle East, the state of affairs that has developed as a result of the developing global crisis, the prospects for the development of the region, and what role the Middle East can and wants to play in the emerging polycentric world.

In Isaac Asimov’s great novel The End of Eternity, he described how humanity has radically changed the way it developed and moved into a new, unpredictable, but promising and interesting future. In a sense, this is what’s taking place in the Middle East. It is no longer a backward region, nor an object of colonial adventurism, but a new, independent and promising world player that wants to decide for itself with whom to trade and, in general, how to live.