New View on US: Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu met with Arab leaders in late May at the Moscow Conference on International Security. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
DUBAI — Arab officials have been briefed in Moscow on the new emerging Russian national security doctrine, which focuses on the global uprisings and revolutions that have affected the Arab world and other regions like Ukraine.
The doctrine holds that the US and its allies are engineering revolutions and uprisings in key areas around the world to destabilize governments and replace existing regimes in order to establish control and exploit natural resources. Furthermore, the doctrine treats the US as a dangerous nation that seeks to dismantle the Russian statehood.
High level military representatives from Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, Syria and the United Arab Emirates were briefed at the third Moscow Conference on International Security on May 23 and 24.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu told delegates from 41 nations and international organizations that the uprisings spreading across the world have been engineered by the US and its allies to destabilize governments and exploit resources.
Shoygu said the US and western operations through special operations forces, information operations and private military companies have worked together to cause these uprisings, which he called “color revolutions.”
Theodore Karasik, director of research and analysis at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, said color revolution is a widely used term to describe related movements that developed in the former Soviet Union and the Balkans during the early 2000s.
“The term has also been applied to a number of revolutions elsewhere, including in the Middle East, some observers have called the events a revolutionary wave, the origins of which can be traced back to the 1986 People Power Revolution, also known as the ‘Yellow Revolution’ in the Philippines,” he said.
Karasik said that in Moscow, Russian security elites are formulating a new Russian security and foreign policy doctrine based on the need to identify and alert the world to US and western desires to capture key states for geopolitical expansionism.
“The Russians are interpreting US interference in countries like Ukraine and across the Middle East like Egypt, Syria, North Africa and even Venezuela as operations to take their natural wealth and convert their population towards a western leaning oversight,” he said.
“The Russians, by announcing this new doctrine in such clear terms, are announcing their intent to counter this activity [of destabilizing governments by popular uprising] by conducting additional research and analysis, ultimately coming out with counter policies,” he said.
Shoygu claims that color revolutions are engineered by information operations troops, special operations forces and private security companies. Those operations, he said, create leadership gaps and chaos.
“The failure of the West to impose a leadership after these operations is causing chaos and that is what we are seeing today across a number of different countries around the world,” Shoygu told the audience.
He added that the Arab Spring has caused fractions across the region and now is spreading to West Africa. “Mali is indeed a color revolution where there is a western imposed revolution [that] is breaking up Mali.”
He added that the adaptive use of force — which changes depending on the nature of the conflict, region or situation the group is in, and concealed use of force by private military companies — is a new approach that is being used in qualifying their presence in conflict areas and its the reason chaos is ensuing these “revolting” states.
Officials at the conference were also briefed on how Russia will counter these operations using their own information operations to stabilize governments.
Shoygu said the use of networks and information is paramount in order to counter US and western influences.
This includes arms sales to countries in conflict, alliance building with major military and economic powers, and the creation of an alternative economic system that decouples Russia’s allies from western financial systems.
It was unclear as of presstime how the delegates reacted to Shoygu’s assertions.
Karasik said Russia’s new doctrine will challenge the relationships between the US and Middle East and North African (MENA) states.
“Middle East and North African states will probably be forced to choose which one and only more sophisticated states will be able to balance,” he said. “Overall, Russia seems to hope that the global color revolutions doctrine will sit well with MENA states who blame the USA and the West for the broken states of the region — Syria, Iraq and Egypt,” he said.
Russia has also been noticeably growing close relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and other Arab states even after the beginning of the Syrian uprising in 2011.
According to Yuri Barmin, analyst at UAE think tank Delma Institute, the Kremlin has been building ties with the GCC since 2007 for a number of reasons including the prevention of “Jihadist ideologies” in its Muslim regions.
“There are a number of reasons for this developing relationship,” Barmin wrote in a paper published this year. “First, Moscow wants to control ties the GCC may have developed with Russia’s Muslim regions to prevent the spread of ‘undesirable’ ideologies. Second, in light of recent economic sanctions imposed on Moscow, the Russians are urgently looking to boost trade with the Middle East and Asia’s prosperous economies.”
And yet, substantial trade relations between Russia and the GCC remains unrealized, he said.
“In 2012, Russian-GCC trade amounted to only US $2.5 billion, very low compared to the $150 billion in GCC-China trade. Moscow is working to rectify this deficit, which could not come at a more critical time. Worsening relations with Brussels and Washington, as a result of the Crimean crisis, mean that trade with the West will decrease and investors will stay away from Russia in the near future.”
Barmin added that Russia’s primary goal is to influence the policies of Arabian Gulf states toward other issues in the Middle East.
He wrote if Moscow can resolve its differences with the gulf kingdoms on the issues of the Syrian conflict and the Iranian nuclear negotiations, it will make substantial strides toward ousting the United States as the region’s hegemon.
A UAE-based European diplomat said that despite the Russian push in the region and the apparent dismay at US policies, the US is pursuing the correct approach of building an integrated GCC.
“The US is trying to do in the GCC what they have done in Europe, an integrated region, one of the first steps toward that is an integrated military doctrine,” he said.
Despite that, the GCC states remain at odds when it comes to information sharing and policies, he added.
“The US is playing a long game which will benefit the GCC, however Europe will still be out of the picture at least for the foreseeable future due to the emergence from the economic crisis and resurgence into a political one.” ■