In The Midst Of America’s Decline, Old Regional Powers Are Working To Revive Their Empires

By Theodore Shoebat

With the decline of American hegemony, comes the rise of regional powers who want to revive their past empires. We are seeing this with Turkey expanding herself in the Eastern Mediterranean and having her troops in northern Syria; we see this also with Iran entrenching her leverage and influence in Iraq (and this can be traced directly back to the US’s removal of Saddam who was the major check against Iranian encroachment); we see this with Japan quickly doing away with her promise to pacifism and returning to militarism and nationalism; and we also see this in Germany where major political forces are aspiring to make the German military strong again. We are entering a new era of empire, in which the American empire is relinquishing her control over rising regional powers. This is the phenomena that we are witnessing, this is the darkness we are entering, with every shade growing blacker as time continues to transpire.

Amidst all of this, there is a struggle taking place between the Germans and the French over the Mediterranean, quieted by diplomatic language. The Germans, while vaguely reprimanding the Turks, are siding with Turkey, knowing full well that through Turkish success Berlin can better her interests in the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, another major European power is countering German interests, France, who is favoring Greece against Turkey, with Macron recently affirming:

“We have to create Pax Mediterranea, because we see an imperial regional power coming back with some kind of fantasies of its own history, and I am referring to Turkey”

Macron also stated that “as far as the sovereignty of the Mediterranean is concerned, I had to be consistent in my actions and words,” and added that “the Turks only understand and respect this. If one says only words that are not followed by action. What France did this summer was important, it is a policy of red lines.” He went on to say:

“I do not believe that in recent years Turkey’s strategy has been that of a NATO ally when you have a country attacking the Exclusive Economic Zones or the national sovereignty of two European Union member states … What would be our credibility in handling the issue of Belarus if we did not respond to attacks on the national sovereignty of our member states?”

Turkey, quite expectedly, made an angry response, with its Foreign Minister’s spokesperson, Hami Aksoy, exclaiming: “Those who think they have drawn red lines against the just cause of Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean will only face the firm stance of our country.” Erdogan also made a statement against all countries who went counter to Turkish interests: “In addition to our fight against terrorism, we are facing challenges against our interests in the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas. We are fighting against all enemies and we are throwing the gauntlet before our enemies.”

The French are getting close with the Greeks against the Turks, and in Libya they have also been backing the forces of Russia’s proxy, Khalifa Haftar, against Turkey’s proxy, the Government of National Accord. Meanwhile, the Germans are deepening ties to Turkey, with the Germans approving millions in weapons to be sent to help Turkey in northern Syria. So, on the one side we have Germany and Turkey, and on the other side we have the French and the Russians. It sounds similar to World War One, when the French were allied to the Russians against the Germans and Ottomans. When the Germans warred against France, they knew that by doing so they would trigger the Russians to intervene and thus enter the war, which is was what the Germans wanted in the first place since the goal was to defeat the biggest obstacles to a German empire in Europe: the British, the French and the Russians.

The French have energy interests in Libya for their major energy company, Total S.A. Hence why France’s proxy in February of 2019, Haftar’s forces, took control of Libya’s biggest oil field in the southwestern Sharara field. Germany also has interests in Libya through her ally Turkey. What we are seeing is a struggle between the Germans and the Turks on one side, and the French and Russians on the other, over North Africa. Germany’s pursuit of power in the Mediterranean was recently written on by Melas Costas, professor of economics at Panteion University. Costas observes that Germany wants to control the Mediterranean through her ally Turkey, and how both the Turks and Germans are returning to their 20th century ways:

The Germans see that they are excluded from developments in the Mediterranean. Once again, they are trying to use the EU as a vehicle to achieve their goals. In this case, they are trying to enter Libya through the window. Berlin believes that Paris is trying to become the dominant European power in the Mediterranean. It is noteworthy that any initiative that did not start with German blessings was condemned by Berlin. Let us not forget that Germany, in addition to lacking natural resources, also lacks a large coastline.

Control of the Mediterranean is therefore a priority for Germany. In order to curb any reaction from Italy or even France, Germany is resorting to bargains concerning the Eurozone and fiscal adjustment. In other words, Germany is trying to intervene in the developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, through the well-known “peaceful initiatives”. In this context, Germany undertook the failed initiative for Libyan peace in early 2020.

In all this planning, Turkey – in the eyes of the Germans – is a player they can work with. In the light of history, it seems that close relations have been forged between the two countries, which are still valid today. In fact, I would risk saying that both Berlin and Ankara would like to see their relations return to those of the early 20th century. And judging by the current attitude of Berlin, this is already happening.

Referencing the early 20th century is not far fetched. France and Germany rivaling over North Africa is the sort of thing that took place years before the outbreak of World War One, when the French and Germans rivaled over Morocco. With the American empire looking more inward and loosening her grip on the rest of the world, old rivalries will emerge, and old empires will rise back from their slumber. Edmond Y. Azadian, an Armenian analyst, wrote an astute article on the subject, in which he states:

Watching Turkey’s role in the configuration of global forces, we can find a diminished role for the US military in the world. That does not mean the US is reducing commensurately its interest in world affairs but there is a shift in the roles; once the US was outsourcing manufacturing and was fighting foreign wars. Today manufacturing is returning home, particularly from China, and this time, Washington is outsourcing foreign wars. Remember that one of the highlights of Mr. Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Committee’s convention was bringing back the troops.

With the US lessening its control, Japan is also making a return to militarism, with nationalist politicians gradually chipping away at the post-War, American dictated, pacifist constitution. As Azadian wrote:

Another force is emerging in the Asia Pacific region: Japan. At the end of World War II, when Japan signed an unconditioned surrender to the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers Gen. Douglas MacArthur, a new constitution, drafted by the general himself, limited Japan’s military to self-defense only. But in recent years, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe changed that constitution with the acquiescence of the US, paving the way towards a new brand of militarism, particularly in view of China’s growing military presence in the region.

Before his recent resignation for health reasons, Shinzo Abe visited the Yasukuni Shrine, where many executed Japanese war criminals are buried, and paid tribute to them while the Emperor Naruhito made an equivocal statement grieving all the victims of war. If President Trump is reelected, we may see more evidence of this policy and other policemen may pop up in different regions doing the bidding of the US.

The American empire is not declining because something is forcing its decline; rather this is happening on America’s own decision. Turkey expanding into Syria, for example, is part of an American-Turkish plan. The same can be said for Turkey’s expansion into the Mediterranean. No empire in the history of the world has had the control over the seas that America has. The fact that Turkey is expanding herself on the Eastern Mediterranean is indicative of American compliance for Turkish foreign policy, obviously because it serves an American interest. What interest could this be? Remember what NATO’s first Secretary General, Lord Ismay, said about the purpose of NATO: “keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”

Turkey is the second most armed country in NATO, and this was done for a purpose: to act as the bulwark against Russian encroachment in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. NATO is the American empire, and since the US is relinquishing control, it is thus allowing Turkey to expand with the hopes of representing America’s interests. When Donald Trump said in October of 2019, in regards to Syria: “Let someone else fight over this long-bloodstained sand”, it was a green light to the biggest dog in the Middle East: Turkey. Moreover, since one of the main purposes of NATO was to keep the Germans down, then the US’ withdrawal of troops from Germany is also giving the Germans the green light to pursue military independence from the American security umbrella. Do not tear down old fences; they were built there to block something out. By deteriorating the post-War order, the US is tearing down an old fence that was erected to keep the Germans out. But by diminishing the role of a traditional establishment– NATO — the opposite of its purpose will manifest.

Another place we have to look at is the Caucasus, especially Azerbaijan and Armenia who have been in conflict for quite some time. The Russians are using the Armenians as a proxy, while the Turks, Israelis, Americans and Germans are using Azerbaijan as their proxy. After Armenia and Azerbaijan shelled each other back in July of 2020, leaving numerous people dead, Turkey deployed its military forces into Nakhichevan. By doing this Turkey was, in the words of Azadian:

“Turkey was exercising its new role as the policeman of the region, with one eye to Washington, showing it was performing its role of containing Russia. The Karabakh war has been in reality only an excuse to serve a broader geostrategic plan.”

Turkey’s Minister of Defense, Hulusi Akar, stated that Turkey is standing with Azerbaijan while Armenia relies on her allies: “Turkey is also a party to the conflict, standing with the brotherly state [of Azerbaijan] and defending its rights… Armenia does not act reasonably by relying on forces standing behind it, punching above its weight.”

By “forces standing behind it”, He was referring to Armenia’s biggest ally, the Russians. Turkey has gone so far as to equate Azerbaijan and Turkey to “one nation, two states,” as we heard this from Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu:

“Armenia has proven it is not a trustworthy country. Azerbaijan is not alone. We work under the notion of ‘one nation, two states,’ and we conducted our meeting today with the same understanding.”

What could this mean but Turkey’s desire to absorb Azerbaijan into its future revived empire?

The battle over the Caucasus between the Russians and Turks is nothing new, as these two nations were warring over this region during the First World War. Georgie, Armenia and Azerbaijan were at one point territories of the Russian Empire. But once the Russians lost them — thanks to the Bolsheviks when they made the Brest-Litovsk agreement with the Ottomans and Germans — the Turks wanted to retake their territories in the Caucasus. For example, the Ottomans wanted to retake Batum in Georgia and Kars and Ardahan in Armenia. Both the Germans and the Ottomans wanted to control the Azerbaijani capital of Baku for its oil-rich lands, but the British were quite bent on preventing this. (See Rogan, the Fall of the Ottomans, ch. 13, pp. 371-2).

There is a quiet struggle taking place in the Middle East and Europe between great regional powers. You have the French backing a Russian proxy in Libya (Khalifa Haftar) against the Turks who are being backed by the Germans who are currently working on becoming a military power again. You also see Turkey and other NATO countries competing over the Caucasus. What we are currently witnessing is the revival of old superpowers in the midst of America relinquishing her power.