Middle East: Behind the shadow of the assassination of General Qasem Suleimani

Author: Orifjan Namozov. 10.02.2020
For citation: Namozov, Orifjan. “Middle East: Behind the shadow of the assassination of General Qasem Suleimani“. Societies and Imperial Values, 10.02.2020 https://www.pradec.eu/en-blog/articles/

Middle East: Behind the shadow of the assassination of General Qasem Suleimani

The beginning of 2020 shocked the world with extraordinary events in the Middle East. On January 3, by Trump’s official order, the U.S. forces killed Iran’s high-ranking military official General Kassem Suleimani. In response, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) of Iran launched a missile attack on two US military bases in Iraq. The philosophical and political speech of Donald Trump on January 8 calmed the world. Now the conflict has returned to the usual course of diplomacy and hybrid wars.

The assassination of a state military figure shows the severity of the conflict in foreign policy agendas of at least Iran and the USA. Acute military-political acts of global significance do not arise situationally, that is, based on a random confluence of circumstances. Under the sinking waters of the conflict lies a multilayer iceberg of contradictions and challenges. And this iceberg lies on a geopolitical plate from North Africa and the Middle East to South and Central Asia. These problems have been developing in the last 100-200 years both naturally and through speculative manipulations with the values ​​and interests in the region.

Geopolitics. Not black and not white

Historians, politicians, scientists, and the press have shed a lot of sweat and creative fantasies to establish a one-sided (=black-and-white) perception of Iran, the United States, and other participants in Middle Eastern geopolitics. Reduced theories show geopolitical conflicts as in movies or novels. Creators usually show us the contest of “good” and “evil”, “light” and “darkness”, “democracy” and “authoritarianism”, “liberalism” and “socialism”. The aesthetic, ethical, or artistic perception of geopolitical conflicts is, commonly, close and fathomable to the nature of man and the masses.

An observer will benefit if he discards ethically-blinkered views on conflicts in the Middle East. He will be able to see a permanent clash of imperial values ​​and interests on the emaciated body of the Middle East. Since the beginning of the 19th century, geopolitical “games” have been going on between large empires on the belt from North Africa and the Middle East to South and Central Asia. Revolutions and overthrows, interventions and wars, extremism and terrorism, alliances and unions, sanctions and isolation, trade and investment, partnerships and cooperation serve as tools for resolving contradictions and conflicts.

The territory of the “Great Game”.  From Central Asia to the Middle East

The assassination of this high-ranking official is one of a large number of military and political events in the geopolitics of the last 200 years. The political and military operation of the United States goes beyond the mere operational us-Iranian relations.

Geopolitical clashes between global and regional empires can be conveniently considered on the basis of the well-known concept of the “Big game”. Great Britain and the Russian Empire in the old “Big Game” (early 19th century – mid 20th century) fought for influence in South and Central Asia. The new “Big Game” has unfolded since the mid-20th century. The territory of interests of global empires (Great Britain, USA, Russian Empire / USSR / Russia, Europe, China) includes the belt “North Africa – Middle East – South Asia – Central Asia”.

The tools of the old and new phases of the” Big game ” are hot wars, coups, cold and proxy wars, intelligence and espionage, transport routes and communications, trade, economic and investment projects, and political agreements. Examples of direct and hybrid wars are the Afghan war (1979-1989), the first Lebanese war (1982), the second Lebanese war (2006), the Iraq war (2003-2011), and the Syrian civil war (2011 – present). Examples of military-political actions include Turkey joining NATO in 1949, Iran and Turkey joining CENTO in 1955. Examples of transport projects are TRACECA (European Union, 1993), New Silk Road (the USA, 1998), Greater Central Asia (2005), Eurasian Land Bridge (Russia, China, Kazakhstan), “One Belt, One Way” (Belt and Road Initiative, China). Examples of political companies are the Sykes-Picot agreement in 1916 on the division of territories of influence of the Middle East (Great Britain, France, the Russian Empire, Italy. 1916), the creation of the United Arab Republic (1958-1971), and the Arab Spring (2010-2011).

There are a lot of “Big game” events. It is difficult to list and classify them all. Military, political, and socio-economic tensions remain on almost the entire axis of the North African-Asian belt of the Great Game. In this axis, regional and global values and interests collide and intertwine.

Shaky ground. Sources of Middle East instability

A more or less systematic view of the Greater Middle East reveals a much worse picture than it might seem at first glance. Here we find a destructive combination of climatic, economic, religious-cultural, and military-political conditions. This situation leads to the realization that the region cannot find a way out of the state of permanent conflicts. Moreover, the critical tension of the region generates impulses to other regions of Eurasia.

Here are some of the strategic challenges of the region.

Firstly, the water-climate challenge for the survival of the population of the Middle East. Population growth, an increase in the food burden on agriculture, an arid climate, and the depletion of renewable freshwater sources have created growing tension, a shortage of drinking and irrigation water. Water scarcity provokes military conflicts starting in the second half of the 20th century. MENARA’s international research project predicts that rising global ocean levels, droughts, high temperatures, desertification, and an increase in freshwater scarcity will lead to flooding of the densely populated coastal areas of North Africa and the Persian Gulf by 2050. This trend will affect the sharp increase in domestic and international migrations.

Secondly, the demographic boom and food security. In 1994, the UN Cairo International Conference on Population and Development called on the countries of the world to take into account and regulate population (demography, enlightenment and education, marriage, women’s rights, medical care) in socio-economic development strategies. Imbalances lead to disruption in family planning, high birth rates and mortality rates, a significant increase in the share of young people in the age structure, higher unemployment among young people, and increased poverty. Today, more than 52 million people in the Middle East and North Africa are malnourished. Shortages of drinking water and food contribute to malnutrition, disease, environmental pollution, and migration. In some countries (Yemen, Syria) the situation is catastrophic. Decreased soil fertility, salinization of soil and water resources, population growth and climate change negatively affect food production.

Thirdly, the youth demographic factor causes high and long-term pressure on the labor market and the stability of society in a weak economy. About half the population of North Africa and the Middle East is under 24 years old. The high birth rate, labor market restrictions, extremism and terrorism, political instability, inefficiency and corruption of governments, the inefficiency of the public sector economy and other reasons hinder the stabilization of labor supply and demand.

Fourth, the global energy dominance of the Middle East. The total oil reserves of only Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Libya, and Qatar account for about 50% of the world’s reserves. The total proven natural gas reserves of Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iraq, Egypt, Kuwait, Libya and Oman are about 42%. It is not surprising that in the world dependent on hydrocarbons, the United States, Europe, Russia, and China are showing interest in direct and indirect control of oil and gas flows and reserves. The states of the Middle East region compete among themselves to influence the hydrocarbon market.

Fifth, the Arab-Israeli challenge to the peaceful coexistence of the two peoples is contributing to the overall tension. In the first half of the 20th century, the consistent and organized efforts of the Zionists paved the way for the establishment of Israeli statehood through the 1917 Balfour Declaration. The creation of a Palestinian state is still in the process. Over the past decades, there has been some progress in finding mutual understanding between Israel and many Arab states. The Donald Trump Initiative (2020) was a new initiative to streamline the concept of coexistence and cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian state. This challenge is still one of the significant destabilizing factors of geopolitical stability in the region.

Sixth, intra-Islamic confessional, theocratic, ethnic contradictions and conflicts inflict strife and contention among peoples and states. This situation hinders the peaceful coexistence of Muslims practicing various Islamic traditions. For example, not only the religious authorities of Islamic law but also the population with a basic Islamic education understand that the two major movements of Islam do not have fundamental (= antagonistic) contradictions. All methods of exaggerating the secondary disagreements between them – from the evil one. Unfortunately, religious speculation has been skilfully used and is being used not only by external empires, but also by the elites of the local empires of the Middle East. The core of this Sunni-Shiite conflict is the so-called “Cold War in the Middle East” (Iran-Saudi Arabia proxy conflict) between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Seventh, the region is a favorable environment for radical and extremist organizations that seek to politicize Islam for their own purposes. Propaganda and manipulation of religious and confessional values ​​help them gather followers to fight various “imperialists”, “unfaithful” muslims, semites and with each other. Such military-political societies strive to establish different versions of the “caliphate” in one state or in larger territories up to the whole world (“Muslim Brotherhood”, “Al-Qaeda”, “Daesh”, etc.)

These conflict challenges have been growing since the mid-20th century. All these challenges in the Middle East generate negative impulses within States and in interstate relations. Explicit, hybrid, and proxy wars often become ways to resolve crises and conflicts.

The need for external power

Maintaining sustainable development in the Middle East necessitates the involvement of global external forces. Regional elites show weak consolidation in the face of challenges. Due to the high degree of risks of coexistence, the elites of the Middle East do not demonstrate the ability to successfully jointly search and create a regional scheme for resolving a systemic crisis.

The ranking of the most powerful countries contains many countries in the Middle East (Table 1). Iran is not in the ranking, which slightly confuses the actual geopolitical situation. Obviously, experts were guided by political prejudices.

Powerful countries with different geopolitical agendas are concentrated in the region (Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Turkey, Qatar). This creates objective conditions for a clash of interests. First, the region’s oil and gas wealth contributes to potential tensions between countries. Most countries in the region are members of OPEC and compete among themselves. Secondly, the high density of oil export routes through the Strait of Hormuz and the Red Sea creates geostrategic risks in the way of oil transportation. Finally, the potential for domestic and interstate tensions is fueled by religious, ethnic, clan-tribal, and water-climate factors.

As a result, the balance in the Middle East is persistent in conflict. Distrust and conflict cause a high level of the armament of the states of the region (Figure 1). According to the Military Balance 2019 report (London International Institute for Strategic Studies, IISS), the average level of the defense budget in the region exceeds 5% of GDP. Demand for weapons is being met by the United States, Russia, China, France, and Germany. Arms supplies, of course, serve as an additional indirect channel of geopolitical influence on local elites.

The situation in the Middle East can be associated with the Yellowstone volcano, which is in a state of active rest. States are forced to invest a lot in military spending. This reduces the opportunities for the social sphere, economy, relevant technologies for sustainable development.

Leaving the region on its own can lead to the deterioration of contradictions, internecine wars and conflicts. Attempts to consolidate the States of the region do not lead to a single state-political platform. The region’s problem is the region’s institutional failure to control and manage challenges. The elites of the Middle East States have not been able, and apparently cannot independently build a common regional platform based on natural resources, knowledge and technology, religious and theocratic values, good-neighborly relations and trust.

For objective reasons, external/global intervention becomes inevitable and necessary. But here we are faced with problems. In some cases, the intervention in different periods of the forces of the UN, USA, UK, USSR, and Russia contributed to the settlement and control of acute and heated internecine conflicts. At the same time, history gives many facts when the unreasonable or ineffective intervention of world powers only destabilized the situation in the Middle East.

Geopolitical Agenda in Monarchist Secular Iran (60-70s) 

Today’s acute conflict between the United States and Iran seems striking if we recall the successful and strategic cooperation between the two countries under monarchical Iran in the 60-70s. Iran’s geopolitical agenda under the last Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, was imperial, but generally held in the wake of the US global agenda.

The Shah sought to take into account the political costs of post-war reforms in Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, and Yemen. He initiated the so-called “white revolution” in Iran – bourgeois and capitalist reforms in 1963-1979 to modernize society.

Iran made a big leap in development in the 70s before the advent of the Islamic revolution and the adoption of a rigid theocratic system. GDP per capita increased from 1960-1979 from $ 192 to $ 2.4 thousand. Industrialization succeeded due to oil export revenues and active government funding. The role of the Shiite clergy declined, secular society developed, and women’s rights expanded. The empire grew rapidly and had the prerequisites to quickly become a regional economic power. To this day, Iran would represent a much more powerful country that would determine an important balance in the Asian zone of the “big game.”

The US has built strong long-term relationships with Iran. Turkey, another strong regional empire, developed friendly relations with Iran. The United States saw Iran as a major partner in the Middle East. The economic and political relations between Iran and Israel flourished. Special services of the USA, Great Britain, Israel, France, Turkey actively cooperated with Shah Iran. Iran was a strategic partner for the United States and the West in confronting the communist USSR. President Jimmy Carter in 1977, during his visit, raised a toast to the Shah and called Iran “an island of stability” in one of the most problematic regions of the world. The USSR zealously observed the pro-Western bias in the development of Iran and sought to develop trade and economic cooperation with it.

Geopolitical U-turn in theocratic Iran (1979) Course “not West, not East.”  Export of Islamic values to the world

The beginning of the strategic confrontation between the United States, its allies and Iran originates with the popular (“Islamic”) revolution in Iran in 1979. The export of “Islamic” values is becoming an important priority for Iran in its Middle East policy. This completely changes the geopolitical landscape in the Middle East. The theocratic elite of Iran began to confront many ideological fronts – US capitalist imperialism, Soviet communist imperialism, the Islamic “leadership” of Saudi Arabia, and Zionism of Israel.

The clergy changed the monarchist-secular system to the clerical-secular system. The policy of exporting the values of the Islamic revolution provides for a decrease in the influence in the Middle East of the global empires of the USA and the USSR, as well as local states such as Israel, Saudi Arabia.

The change in Iran’s geopolitical course to leadership in the Islamic world and the promotion of Islamic values ​​has aggravated relations with the USA, the USSR, and the Arab Sunni world. Iraq begins a war with Iran (1980-1988) because of the confessional risks of the Sunni-Shiite balance. In this Iran-Iraq war, Syria forms a strategic alliance with Iran in connection with certain proximity of the confessional values ​​of the Syrian and Iranian elites (Alawites – Shiites). Besides, Syria waged a heavy war (1976-1982) with the Sunni radical organization “Muslim Brotherhood”. During this period, a confrontation develops between Iran and Syria, on the one hand, and Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, on the other hand.

Soviet-Iranian geopolitical interests escalated in the 80s. Iran’s geopolitics pursued the “political Islamization” of neighboring Afghanistan. The USSR launched an intervention (1979-1989) in order to secure Central Asia and support the pro-Soviet regime in Afghanistan. The USSR supported Iraq in the war with Iran (1980-1988). The withdrawal of the Soviet armed forces from Afghanistan began to change Soviet-Iranian relations in a positive direction.

The United States has been facing anti-American and imperial pro-Islamic policies in Iran since 1979. From a strategic ally, Iran is turning into a strategic enemy of the United States. The success of the Soviet “perestroika” could seriously protect Iran’s imperial ambitions in the Middle East region. The collapse of the USSR in 1991 left Iran face to face with the expansionist geopolitical agenda of the United States as a hegemon. The collapse of the USSR made it possible for the United States to expand into North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia (Afghanistan). The path of consistent US sanctions and isolationist policies to deter Iran has been opened. Since the 1980s, the USA has been pursuing a policy of trade, financial, investment and other sanctions against Iran.

Military interventions and the Arab spring in the 2000s. Aggravation of the “Big Game”

Having become the hegemon after the fall of the USSR, the USA expands its activity (direct, hybrid and proxy interventions) against independent states – Iraq (2003-2011), Libya (NATO, 2011) and Syria (2012). The doctrine of “preventive war” (2002) provided the United States with the right to military-political companies against potential threats (for example, the likelihood of a Middle Eastern country developing nuclear weapons).

Interventions created an institutional void or state vacuum in these territories. In 2010-2011, waves of the “Arab spring” or soft protests (democratic pressure on the authorities by young people and the opposition) poured into North Africa and the Middle East. The factors of “democratization” were the demographic explosion, the elites’ secularization from the needs of the peoples, the inefficiency of the economy, the growth of the ignorance of the broad masses, the increase in unemployment and poverty, the increase in the proportion of youth in the demographic structure of the population, the development of the Internet and network technologies, and the increase in mass demand for changes.

The fall of Saddam Hussein’s reign in Iraq (2003) troubled the Sunni-Shiite balance in the Middle East. As a response, a protest Sunni movement began to develop with the transformation into a global extremist Daesh (2006). The Arab spring in Syria (2011) resulted in a civil war, which further exacerbated the Sunni-Shiite confrontation. Events in Iraq and Syria weakened and destroyed the framework of the Middle East balance of forces, created the basis for Sunni-Shiite speculation and conflict. Iran and allied Shiite groups (in particular, Hezbollah in Lebanon) were forced to actively engage in the war in Syria and Iraq against Sunni groups (Syrian opposition, Daesh and others).

In addition to the need to support a friendly regime in Syria, Iran saw the opportunities for strengthening the “Shiite arc” “Iran – Syria – Lebanon”. On the Iranian agenda, this arc helps to more successfully implement “Islamic leadership”, to confront the United States and Israel. Of course, the level of conflict between Iran and the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel has increased.

These events also contributed to the revival and revitalization of Russia’s global (Middle East, Africa, Central Asia) foreign policy (2015). In the 2000s, China intensified its trade and economic expansion into the Middle East as part of the “Belt and Road Initiative”. The axes of the geopolitical poles of the United States, Europe, Russia, and China are more closely aligned in an arc from North Africa to Central Asia.

In the “cleaned” territories of Iraq and Syria, direct and hybrid military conflicts began to unfold with the participation of Daesh, the United States, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other state and non-state public groups. The creation of institutional voids created opportunities for the Imperial interests of Russia, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, Sunni and Shiite organizations, Kurdish forces, and other social groups. These processes are gradually changing the geopolitical picture in the Middle East.

“Nothing personal”. System elites collide

The death of General Kassem Suleimani was a manifestation of a tough clash of foreign policy agendas between the United States and Iran. The guilty party is hard to find. Iran has consistently pursued a policy of exporting the values of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and expanding the values of Shiism. The United States and its allies are pursuing a policy of restructuring and deterring the independent states of Syria, Libya, and Iran in the region.

In the modern world, a personality of any order is determined by the surrounding systemic elite. The person is forced to act as the implementer of the pledged program. For internal and external observers, the United States and Iran need moral motivation for the actions of their heroes.

Kassem Suleimani represents in the eyes of the majority of the people of Iran a national hero, an outstanding military strategist, a bright defender of the expansionist interests of Iran’s elites. General Kassem Suleimani made a great contribution to the export of Shiism to Iran’s regional interests in the Middle East. He did a lot to defeat the Daesh and Al Qaeda terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq.

For the United States and the West, Qasem Suleimani was gradually becoming an outcast and an international terrorist. The US in 2011 included Qasem Suleimani in the list of sanctioned individuals who helped the Syrian government in suppressing protests. In April 2019, the United States added the special purpose unit “kods” of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to the list of terrorist organizations. This unit was headed by General Qasem Suleimani. The military operation to eliminate Qasem Suleimani was the final act in the format of state terrorism by the United States.

It doesn’t really matter if Donald Trump or another leader stands at the helm of an American ship. The American elite system has long been, and not without reason, used to dominate the task of “good” and “bad” values ​​and norms of behavior for people, nations and states. The course and dynamism of the American empire is given by the complex and stable structure of systemic elites. Trump’s extraordinary personality only contributes to a tougher and less diplomatic expression of the classic stereotypes of American politics. With Trump, it is easier for America to carry out decisive and broad projects to redraw the world economic and political balance in the world.

Sanctions and state terrorism. Between humanism and rationality

The killing of Iran’s civil servant Kassem Suleimani by the U.S. Air Force on the orders of Donald Trump is an indication of how little our civilization has progressed over centuries of cultural development. The level of education and culture, technology and aesthetics has grown significantly compared to ancient times. At the same time, international terrorism remains, unfortunately, an important and sought-after tool for individuals, social groups, non-governmental associations, as well as states.

Each Empire sees the balance of power in its own way. The murder of such a person was a certain relief for the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. They saw General Qasem Suleimani’s proxy activities as a growing threat to national and regional interests. The General was very successful in expanding Iran’s political and theocratic interests into Arab countries. The growth of Iran’s imperialism and influence in the region is extremely unprofitable for the United States and its allies in the Middle East.

Iran’s financial and economic sanctions in 2012 became a more destructive tool for influencing the geopolitical agenda (nuclear program) of Iran. Sanctions sharply limited the country’s oil export, increased inflation, and increased social tension in Iranian society. This forced Iran to make concessions and conclude a nuclear agreement in 2015 in response to the lifting of sanctions. However, based on Israeli intelligence, Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Iranian nuclear agreement in May 2018.

The perseverance of Iran in its geopolitical agenda has become one of the important reasons for the deterioration of the socio-economic situation of the Iranian population. Participants in widespread protests in December 2017, during 2018, November 2019, January 2020 criticize the foreign policy, demand the departure of the Supreme Ruler, the overthrow of the clerical regime, the reduction of corruption, and economic reforms.

Naive and ideological oracles of universal values

The assassination of an Iranian general is one of a large number of military-political events in a continuous chain of geopolitical processes in the region. In the axis “North Africa – Middle East – South Asia – Central Asia”, a critical mass of conflicting values and interests is concentrated in the Middle East region. The geopolitical interests of the United States, Europe, Russia, and China clash in this region. Here informal and invisible borders of interests, both of world and regional powers, pass.

After the collapse of the bipolar system and the crisis of the unipolar system, the world moves to a new equilibrium and balance. It is sad that the movement towards a new equilibrium is accompanied by sharp cultural, political and military clashes. Various ideologists – scientists, politicians, theologians – develop their own recipes for the universalization of values.

The famous oracle of liberalism and a disciple of Samuel Huntington, Francis Fukuyama gained fame for the idea that Western liberalism had no alternative against the backdrop of the collapse of the Soviet empire in the 90s of the 20th century. Fukuyama urged Bill Clinton to overthrow Saddam Hussein in the name of the triumph of liberal democracy. Egyptian writer and philosopher Sayyid Ibrahim Qutb (ideologist of the “Muslim Brotherhood” movement) called for the politicization of Islam and the rejection of Western values. The great ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini created a theological state, the constitution of which calls for a worldwide struggle for Islamic values, the creation of a unified Islamic ummah. You can find a lot of ideological and unprincipled, skillful and awkward heralds who call for the spread of some universal values. They “make” these universal values ​​through religious, scientific, political, cultural speculations (= inferences).

The practical implementation of universal values results in tragedies and hardships for millions of people. Instead of prosperity and development, mistrust and violence, conflicts and wars, the struggle for power and influence, provocations and terrorism are expanding in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

The prospect of a polypolar external balance

Experience has shown that the United States and the West cannot cope with the explosive set of problems in the Middle East without Russia and China, without reforming geopolitical strategies and programs, without innovations in American doctrine. Campaigns of forced restructuring of political regimes in Iraq, Libya, and Syria have worsened the already fragile situation in the Greater Middle East. Socio-economic, political, interfaith and interethnic contradictions intensified. Interventions, terrorist acts, hybrid and proxy wars have become commonplace for resolving geopolitical interests between different states.

Destroyed capable authoritarian regimes at least provided stability and control over the risks of localization and the spread of terrorism and extremism. With the destruction of authoritarian regimes that hold society together, tense zones of anarchy, chaos, and public disorder have formed in the middle East.

The revival of the role of Russia as a superpower, the expansion of China’s global economic and political role create the prerequisites for adapting the players ’foreign policy strategies to a new reality. The inability of the Middle East region to independently develop a system of collective security makes it necessary to include a wide range of world and regional powers in a constructive geopolitical dialogue.

Middle East – Afghanistan: Challenges for Russia, Central Asia, Pakistan, and China

The consequences of negative socio-economic processes and geopolitical chaos in the Middle East reach the region of South and Central Asia. Military groups and the Daesh ideology have already penetrated and are gaining ground in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, reigned supremacy and military-political tension and uncertainty. Various military-religious organizations found shelter in the country.

Russia, Central Asia, Pakistan, and China are concerned about instability in the Middle East – Afghanistan geopolitical arc. Afghanistan, which is tribal and suffers from poverty, military conflicts and lack of food, creates a favorable economic, political and religious space for various religious and extremist movements. Multilateralism, military-political, confessional, ethnic feuds create an opportunity to strengthen the ideology of Daesh in the country. On average, about 20 thousand armed clashes occur annually.

The extremist religious-military ideology and global technological propaganda of Daesh, al-Qaeda and other religious extremist groups involve unenlightened and disoriented citizens in the struggle for a “fair” clerical state. The most vulnerable are socially vulnerable and ideologically sensitive segments of the population – young people, migrants, and the poor. Over 28 years (1990-2018), the population in Tajikistan has grown by 72%, by 61% in Uzbekistan, and by 43% in Kyrgyzstan. The demographic boom, unemployment, and poverty impede youth access to quality education, religious enlightenment, and employment. Vulnerable groups and strata of the population create the potential ground for adopting false ideologies.

The geopolitical plate from North Africa to Central Asia has a monolithic unity. The elites and peoples living here, religions, tribes, and clans have wide differences in ideology, mentality, religion, culture, and traditions. Central Asian countries should carefully study the lessons to ensure their security and sustainability. The most important and sensitive areas of study include water supply and water conservation technologies, family planning, society corruption, enlightenment and education, spiritual education, the inclusiveness of economic growth, poverty and income inequality.

Conclusion

The assassination of Kassem Suleimani is a very clear signal of the geopolitical crisis of the unipolar world. The USA and Iran do not change their geopolitical agendas. Unipolar hegemony is showing increasing inefficiency. The USA and the West are already less able to regulate regional and global risks on the axis from North Africa to the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia (Afghanistan, Pakistan). The countries of this axis are home to the Muslim population of various faiths and religious and cultural traditions. In this axis, many countries face challenges related to religious extremism and terrorism, population growth, water scarcity, and food shortages. Coordination of foreign policy agendas and doctrines of the USA, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and other modern empires is necessary. Achieving a new, polypolar, geopolitical balance is an urgent problem and challenge.

The mystery of the “outer block” on the Russian bureaucracy and the Russian path

Sometimes the world becomes cramped and suffocating, like a small quadrature of a student in a dormitory or a small room of a simple city dweller in a super-urbanized town. The statement made by the director of the EAEU Institute, Vladimir Lepekhin, about the “external block” on the path of Russia, brings slight concern about the situation in the society of a significant and strategic neighbor. Maybe it seems so to receptive people and idealists. Either, feeling the healthy and active attention of Russia and the EAEU, we in Uzbekistan unintentionally pay excessive attention to macro-social trends in Russia.

Since 2017, Uzbekistan has been actively raising new interesting projects and is turning to neighbors, regional and global partners. Similarly, neighbors and partners have equally interesting proposals and projects for Uzbekistan’s participation. Therefore, not only have the flows of goods, services and money between Uzbekistan and the outside world become active and voluminous. The intellectual, ideological, spiritual dialogue has become intense and wide.

If an economic interpretation is applicable to such a mental dialogue, we can speculate about the banal “export and import of values.” Our inhabitants “import” something for consumption, domestic mind factories “import” something for further processing and creating added value for subsequent consumption. Similarly, domestic consumers and factories “export” something to the outside world recipients. In general, the reforms of Uzbekistan have given a great impetus to this important process of value exchange and cooperation.

In this context, it is rational to grasp the immanent and transcendent explorations and experiences of the surrounding countries, especially strategic partners. Usually, when it comes to strategic partners, elites quickly pave the channels for value exchange. Here we stop and return to the main idea.

So, according to Vladimir Lepekhin, the Russian economy is not developing in the right direction and has already reached a deadlock. Important indicators of people’s quality of life – real incomes, life expectancy, and birth rate – are deteriorating due to the series of economic policy measures. The government “strangely” and on the recommendations of the IMF implements ineffective measures – accession to the WTO, tax increases, excessive reduction of the money supply and limitation of domestic aggregate demand, raising the retirement age, overborrowing the population and enterprises at inflated interest rates, and others.

It is interesting to note that expert finds the presence of some invisible external block as an important reason leading to such deterrent policy measures and such an attitude of the elites to their people. So, Russia’s economic development is blocked from the outside. That is, external forces have imposed on Russia a certain strategy that leads its elites and masses to a certain point of globalization.

It is clear that speculation about external influence is no longer news, but a classic hypothesis in Russian politics and political philosophy. Here you can excavate a lot of interesting and sophisticated, superficial and extremely sick theories. It would be strange if there were no healthy imperial interests in strong or small states to the rich resources and markets of Russia. Here, in general, every rational person will find rich and fertile soil for his creative activity. Bloggers and talk-show moderators with enthusiasm debate and discuss, students and research contenders write theses and dissertations, professionals make a career or create and develop a business.

Vladimir Lepekhin believes that Russia “is at a standstill, waiting for something.” The expert expects that “in the coming years some kind of global foreign policy project will appear”, that “hooks from the West have long been planted where they should be.” Simply put, the development of Russia, as Vladimir Lepekhin advocates, is under external control, which prevents the exploitation of internal resources of the country in the interests of the people.

Most of my mind wants to discard this speculation of a respected expert about the responsibility of external and invisible adversaries for the existing internal imbalance and uncertainty in the perception and being of the Russian state. After all, immensely strong elites and state institutions of Russia today rigidly and not unsuccessfully oppose the somewhat obsessive expansion of Western values. Would they just hand over the country to external control? Still, “I want to believe” that the responsibility for the situation lies on the shoulders of the Russian elites. With all due respect to the invisible and potential world government, my consciousness does not want to belittle the huge and capable force of the state bureaucratic machine of Russia.

It is good that the expert still contradicts his concept of the “external block” as he talks about the formation of a “safeguarding” elitist system in Russia, which preserves the surviving mechanism of power distribution and blocks national development. As a result, the vision of the expert becomes more complicated. We see two blocks to the national development of Russia in Vladimir Lepekhin’s scheme – the external block and the internal block.

Why does the topic of Vladimir Lepekhin’s speech deserve the attention of Central Asian elites? Because the elites of Central Asia need and have to live and partner with Russia. The question arises – which blocks (external or internal or both) advance the EAEU concept deep into the Central Asia region?  Or the integration values of the EAEU are independent of the forces/blocks that “suppress” Russia. And the “hooks” of these blocks will never reach the national interests of small states.

Social technology. Community engineering

The humanitarian sciences hardly adapt and survive over time compared to the natural sciences. This is most likely due to the nature of the research subject of natural scientists.

The nature of living or non-living material is an easy-to-study passive matter for physicists, chemists, biologists, mathematicians, and other natural scientists. Our observations collect empirical facts that are repeated regularly and predictably for centuries, millennia, and more. Once established theoretical findings and concepts gradually are refined and become more accurate. Very little space remains for inaccuracies and ambiguities. Therefore, there is little room for much debate and discussion. If alternative theories arise, they are usually related to boundary-level subjects, where observations of facts do not yet exist or available observations are ambiguous, and there is ample room for guesses and hypotheses.

It is much easier to design and build a bridge, dam, building, rocket or plane. Even individual failures are associated with certain theoretical and empirical shortcomings, a lack of new knowledge and technologies. The consolidation of technical knowledge, the repetition of efforts and events, the will of man, groups and societies lead ultimately to the desired outcome. The nature of materials and substances submits itself well to observation, design and the construction of effective theoretical and practical models.

Social scientists have to deal with a completely different nature of human being, with the laws of human life and society. Thousands and thousands of observations here in no way help to unequivocally prove some kind of theoretical picture of the surrounding us reality. Many theories and quasi-theories develop in scientific, political, religious, and other institutions and circles of society. These developments are being promoted, claiming attention and truth, finding their adherents and supporters. As a result, we always see hidden or explicit, passive or active cacophony in social science and the public consciousness.

This is the case of almost any science engaged in the study of social material. Formally, one or another social interpretation may dominate, which is consistent with the interests of the dominant elite. Alternative theories, which do not fully or partially agree with the dominant elites’ views, may fall under prohibition, prosecution, ignorance, or adaptation to coexistence with dominant value concepts.

The dominance of some social theories and values ​​and the suppression of others is a natural state of things in society. Social theories inevitably begin and end with value orientations that positively or negatively affect the existing balance of values ​​in the elites and masses of society.

The success of a particular theory and its author depends on an elitist or mass conjuncture in a particular historical moment. The elites, being the main leading part of the social organism, select, and promote domination for, those social theories and paradigms which contribute to the values ​​of the elites and which are most in harmony with the values ​​of key mass segments of society. Outcasts and dissidents in one past conjuncture can become heroes and celebrities in the subsequent historical conjuncture.

Person. Socio-biological “cell” of society

Considering a person and his or her communities of a different order through the concept of a socio-biological organism can be useful. So you can better understand the laws that govern the social behavior of a person.

When we focus on the exclusively social side, then in the search for the fundamental principles of social development we end up with metaphysical concepts, such as Hegel’s absolute spirit or the perfect man Nietzsche. By the important social aspects of our spirituality, we can suppress, or even worse, replace the biological foundations of our life.

Perceiving ourselves as a special form of life, we contrast the whole other world as an object and an alienated world.

If we elevate the biological aspect, then we risk falling into Darwinism, we risk withdrawing our social behavior from the biological one, that is, from the unconscious. Biologization of social behavior reduces the standards of morality, leads to the desocialization of individuals and societies.

It is more reasonable in the academic sense, in the theological sense, and in the ordinary sense to realize your objectively given socio-biological nature. The socio-biological aspect does not consider man as a “pure” social creation that has needs and goals — psychological, economic, cultural, political, etc. The socio-biological aspect allows us considering man as part of nature, which is generally harmonious and follows the immanent laws of life activity. At the same time, we are equally aware of our particularity and our commonality with the world around us. So we can avoid extreme speculations, deceptions and distortions in setting the rules of our public life.

Человек. Социально-биологическая клетка общества

Рассмотрение человека и его общностей различного порядка посредством концепции социально-биологического организма может являться полезным. Так можно  глубже понимать  законы, управляющие  социальным поведением человека.

Если мы концентрируемся на исключительно социальной стороне, то в поисках первооснов общественного развития заканчиваем метафизическими концепциями вроде  абсолютного духа Гегеля. Или совершенного человека Ницше. Важными социальными  аспектами нашей духовности мы можем подавлять или, что еще хуже, замещать биологические основы нашей жизнедеятельности. Осознавая себя как особую форму жизни, мы противопоставляем весь прочий мир в качестве объекта и отчужденного мира.

Если мы возвышаем биологический аспект, то рискуем впасть в Дарвинизм, рискуем выводить наше социальное поведение из биологического, то есть из бессознательного. Биологизация общественного поведения снижает нормы морали и нравственности, приводит к десоциализации индивидуумов и обществ.

Разумнее в академическом смысле, в теологическом смысле и в обыденном смысле осознавать свою объективно данную социально-биологическую природу. Социально-биологический аспект рассматривает человека не как «чистое» социальное творение, имеющее потребности и цели – психологические, экономические, культурные, политические и др. Социально-биологический аспект позволяет нам рассматривать человека как часть природы, которая является в целом гармоничной и следующей имманентным законам жизнедеятельности. При этом, мы осознаем в равной степени  свою особенность в природе и свою всеобщность с природой. Так мы можем избежать крайних спекуляций, перекосов и искажений в настройке правил своей общественной жизнедеятельности.