Interview with Vyacheslav Matuzov, one of the leading Russian experts in Middle East affairs, and former councilor, head of group for bilateral Arab-Israeli negotiations, Soviet Embassy in Washington, DC.
First of all, Mr. Matuzov, thank you very much for joining us, I am very happy to have you as our guest speaker. Just for the start of our interview let me quote a book by two conservatives, I remember you were telling me about it, and I just feel that this piece is a good start for an interview. So David Frum and Richard Perle said that people all over the world want the benefits of American democracy but they do not always possess the skills to launch a representative government by only their strength, and they said we can help as we helped in Western Europe and Japan. I have been following your interviews lately, so do I get you right that perhaps what we are witnessing now in the Middle East, starting from January 2011, or just to be more precise perhaps from the end of 2010, that it might be regarded as a continuation of this effort?
Yes, of course, I consider that all events that we are watching today in the Middle East are closely connected with the strategic line, strategic policy of the United States of America and of the NATO organization. Why do I consider so? Because it is a plan for re-changing, re-branding the Middle East at the origin of the world, it is known long time ago, days of George W Bush, when neoconservative forces in the United States articulated very clearly the goals of the whole globe, the policy that was very strongly criticized by Francis Fukuyama in his very well known article in Russia, it is “The neoconservative moment”. So I think that these events that we are watching today in the Middle East, all this revolutionary process in the Middle East is closely connected with the strategic goals of the United States’ policy.
What are these goals?
Goals are its dominating, dominating under the flag, under the slogan of fighting for democracy, fighting for people’s rights, then change it not as origin of the will of the people of this population of this region, but it is based as a company, as a political technology company, as some advertising of American foreign policy goals. It was changed in 2005 absolutely clearly and they established a special organization with very good financing, with very good political and informational color that it is called “Business for diplomatic action”. The main goal of this public organization, far from the White House, far from all official political organizations of the United States, they articulated very clearly all these goals: changing all Arab regimes.
Why? The Arab regimes are different, perhaps if we look at Egypt, that would seem to have been an American friendly regime, why do they need to change that?
The reason is absolutely clear, that this regime, even Hosni Mubarak’s regime, even King Abdullah II in Jordan – they are very close allies of the United States, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t have their own stance towards American goals of domination in the Middle East, it is a geopolitical strategy, it is not a local, regional strategy, and the regional strategy is under the geopolitical goals of the American policy, because somebody considers how many dollars the Americans lost in this war, how many dollars Russia won while giving up prices for oil in the Middle East, it is not an economic approach, it is a geopolitical approach, and geopolitical goals of the United States are counted for tens of years, of decades, not today. I think this corresponds to the real situation that is developing in the Middle East, I can confess that this goal of changing corrupt and non-efficient regimes corresponds with the desire of these people, that is the main problem because people are very enthusiastic about these changes, and the United States policy is clearly on the streets of Amman, Damascus, Bahrain, Libya, maybe, and many other Arab countries, and Egypt of course. But I think these people on the streets do not understand that the real policy of the United States is not to satisfy their needs, their desires, their aspirations; the goal of the United States is to dominate, ruin the old regimes to construct a new big Middle East, and these new frontiers of the Middle East states will be on the ruins of the states existing today in the Middle East, this is the real danger, real danger.
Mr. Matuzov, but who are the so to say sherpas of the US policy in the region? I think that the image of the United States in the Arab streets has been rather unfavorable during the past years, so who are those who conduct the US policy in those countries, inside those countries?
That is the question, because the US understood very clearly in previous decades that its image in the world – not only in the Arab world, in the Islamic world, but also in Europe, in all other regions of the world – was going down dramatically and that is why they changed these goals of the American foreign policy against fighting terrorism, Islamic terrorism, proclamation that Islam is the main enemy of the United States in the world after ruining the world communism. All the slogans went on, and now they have a real new approach on foreign policy. They understand that when they put as a background of their foreign steps on the foreign arena that struggle not against but for democracy and people’s rights, they will win; now I think they are trying to change their image in the Islamic world, in the Arab streets, when they are positioning themselves in their roles of fighters against corruption for democracy, for political rights, but who are those who are supporting? In Egypt it is the Muslim Brotherhood, in Syria – the same, in Jordan – the same, so there is a question: who is the Muslim Brotherhood? In Russia they are registered as a terrorist organization, they were killing innocent people, in many cases, and it is listed as a terrorist organization, but in the United States they are trying to cover their activity in Jordan, in Egypt, in Syria, in other countries as right people, as people fighting for their political rights, but not as a terrorist organization. I think it reveals the real goals to undermine all these regimes and to bring into power in these countries those who are very reliable from the American point of view; I think it is a dangerous trend, I think it didn’t give any positive results even for the American society because ruining old regimes does not mean they are capable of creating new more progressive, more politically motivated regimes that can be accepted by the people, by the streets in Arab cities; I think one of the goals is to put the Arab Islamic world into a chaotic situation, but a chaotic situation controlled from the distance, by the United States, American military centers.
Do you remember there has been a map published by one of the American military analyst by the name of Peters?
Ah yes, of course, Ralph Peters, it is a cartographic experiment, source of a big scandal, from the Turkish government even, because he brought these materials as study materials for NATO military college in Rome, where the Turkish officers were trained, and there was a big scandal between the United States and the Turkish government, and I think that’s why they had problems, I watched Peter’s interview one month ago on Pops TV after the Egyptian revolution, and he said that he was considering the Egyptian events spreading to all over the world, and he was very proud of all these revolutions in the Arab world and considered it would spread to Central Asia and to Russia too. So I cannot say that neoconservative forces in the United States, and Pops news is one of the TV channels that reflect neoconservative views, and Ralph Peters is one of the hot heads of the neocons in the United States. I think that their goals all have the global substance, not regional only, a regional goal is permanent, it is only for today, for tomorrow there are other countries, the whole world, dominating on the global scene – that is the main target of the United States’ foreign policy according to the neoconservative thinking.
But if we look at Mr. Obama’s steps in regards to the Islamic world they would seem a bit inconsistent, because if you remember he started with his famous speech in Egypt in Cairo University, and then all of a sudden his administration is now engaged in a series of wars against Islam.
You are absolutely right, Ekaterina, because I can say that I see a collision between this policy that has produced all these revolutions in the Arab world and stand of the US government and Mr. Obama as President of the United States. I respect greatly the position of Mr. Obama as President of the United States when he was in Cairo University proclaiming the American position toward the world, toward the Islamic world. I am Russian, I was satisfied with the American approach to solve its relations with the Islamic world. You know, Russia has its own problems in the Caucasus, and it solves its own problems with the Islamic movements in some areas, but I think that Barack Obama chose the right way out of solving all these issues, and now I can conclude that his declarations contradicts with the real position of those forces who are dominating in the inside American apparatus, in American Pentagon, security organizations, intelligence organizations, and informational field. I think that Business for diplomatic actions revealed to the world how these contradictions between American administration and big American business that is dominating in the neoconservative forces are acting in the world and affecting the world policy.
Getting back to Business for democracy, there is a whole list of international corporations, not even American corporations, which means that business forces there are rather global than American, so but what can be their interest? Do I get it right that it is a global war on Islam that we are witnessing now?
I do not think that it is a war against Islam, on the contrary, some Islamic forces, especially terrorist forces are closely connected with the undercover activity of some forces in the United States, we know very well the origin of Bin Laden, how he appeared on the political scene, what money was paid to sustain him, we know very well how the Muslim Brotherhood is operating in the Arab world today, so the Islamic idea is exploited by the United States for many decades and I think they are not afraid of reaching power of those people in Egypt, in Jordan, in Syria and in many other countries, I think it is a chaotic situation in the Arab world, and it corresponds to the other main issue – the Middle East settlement. I will remind you maybe that the Quartet activity for solving Palestinian-Israeli problem, for pushing ahead the negotiations between Mahmud Abbas and Netanyahu was stopped by the American side, because the meeting of the quartet was appointed for March 25, it was prolonged for April, and nobody knows when it will be concluded, once again. The reason for that is obvious: Israel is benefiting from all these revolutions in one thing: the Arab side will be out of these revolutions very weak, and non-supportive for any efforts for the Middle East settlement, and Israel has the historic chance to take the whole western bank of Jordan for itself, and establish a Palestinian state instead of Jordan Hashemite kingdom, because this idea is floating in the air, and they are trying to materialize it, that is why the answer why the Muslim Brotherhood is fighting Jordanian King on Jordanian soil, and the main goal behind all this revolt against the kingdom is not political rights of the population, but political goals of some hot heads to establish in this country a new Palestinian state instead of the Jordanian Hashemite kingdom.
Mr. Matuzov, but then there is another point which causes certain concern, certain alarm even, which is the role of NATO and some of its members, France for instance, because we have been discussing the situation in Arab countries but now there is another so to say leader-ousting operation which is going on in the Ivory Coast, and which involves the UN forces and French military.
That is right, they are not respecting the United Nations Security Council resolutions on the Ivory Coast, because they do not permit – these resolutions – the French government to intervene militarily in the Ivory Coast, and this is absolutely clear, and the same thing we have in Libya, but now the African Union’s intervention into the Libyan affair, I think, it is a very progressive step to stop NATO aggression in Libya, because NATO aggression in Libya is also all resolutions, both resolutions on Libya – 1970 and 1973 – against these resolutions they are supplying revolutionary forces or opposition with weapon or with military equipment and striking, and even their target is the life of Muammar Gaddafi. I am not a supporter of Muammar Gaddafi, but I am a supporter of the respect of the international law and resolutions of the Security Council of the United Nations.
But we have already seen the answer, the reaction coming from the so-called Libyan opposition based in London, and they are telling us they are going to look into the proposals of the African Union, but their ultimate goal is to oust Mr. Gaddafi and they are prepared to discuss the resolution and the road map rather of the African Union only if Mr. Gaddafi steps down. It seems that we are entering another deadlock.
Yes, I think that Muammar Gaddafi is ready to step down because he agreed with this, and one of his sons proclaimed very clearly that his father is ready to but he wants to negotiate, to discuss the issue to whom he will transfer his power in Libya, because transfer is a new Paul Bremer from the United States’ department who would be ready I think to head once again one of the Arab states, I do not think it is the right way. I think that for the United States and for the African Union it is to respect the internal process of Libya and give a chance for a political solution by Libyan political forces not imposing their will to Libyan people. I do not like these slogans when they proclaim: Get out, Hosni Mubarak!, Get out, Bashar Assad!, Get out, Muammar Gaddafi! Who is giving these words? It is the leadership of the United States. What kind of business they have in common with the peoples of these countries? Let these people solve their issue by themselves, not through foreign intervention, not through intervention in their internal affairs; I think that if people are given a chance to find a political solution it will be the right way. I see that the African Union is playing a very progressive role, a very positive role in this field; I think that they will be successful, and the whole world community should support not the NATO position but the African Union’s position.
So my final question: what is your forecast?
I think that the military operation will be ended, I think that after the intervention of the African Union it will be stopped, and as we do not know the details of the offers to Gaddafi, but if he agrees, I think he would step down and new democratic elections will be held in Libya. I think it will be achieved by political means but not military. I am more concerned about Syria. Syria is under a big threat from the Muslim Brotherhood, and it is arranged from outside, not inside revolt against the Syrian regime, I am not supportive of the Syrian regime, I am not advocating it, but I think it is up to the Syrians to decide what kind of rule will be in their country, so in this connection I am also very much bothered with the situation in the Gulf area, a very sensitive area even for the European economy, it is Saudi Arabia, because Bahrain and Yemen, revolts in these two Arab countries are closely connected with the situation on the Saudi soil. I think that Saudi Arabia is under the target of all this wave of Arab revolutions as they say arranged by informational polittechnology, by business for diplomatic action, a nongovernmental organization of the United States, supported by principle, main, big American business.
To find out more on the issue, read or listen to our Burning Point program from April 11, 2011 in Radio section.