Andrei Bystritsky: "Middle East awaits painful transformation"

Over the past year the situation in the Middle East has changed dramatically, not least due to the active efforts of Russia, both in the form of military aid to Damascus and on the diplomatic arena. On the sidelines of the conference 'The Middle East: When Will Tomorrow Come?', organized by the 'Valdai' International Discussion Club, the chairman of the board for Support and development of ‘Valdai’ International Discussion Club, Andrei Bystritsky, told Vestnik Kavkaza about the current state of the region.

- Andrei Georgievich, first of all, why did the 'Valdai' decide to organize a conference on the Middle East issues?

- There are serious, dramatic changes in the Middle East, the situation in the region is significantly different than in the past year. If a year ago, the dynamics of the situation depended on the Russian-Turkish relations, but today, our conference is taking place against the backdrop of global configuration changes, not just local. There are new players, perhaps, the new rules and imperatives, therefore, there are many issues for expert discussions.

- In accordance with the title of the conference, what do you think awaits the Middle East tomorrow?

- On the one hand, the region will undergo a very long and difficult process of transformation. They will not be able to solve this problem quick and easy, but they can create a frame in order that this painful transformation could take place within certain limits and would not turn into a bloody mess. We see that many countries they have been able to achieve a certain stability, for example, in Egypt and other North African countries, where the situation is still difficult, but people already live in relative peace. They have failed to reach an agreement at the heart of the Middle East - Syria and Iraq, moreover, there is the threat of the instability spreading to other countries, such as Libya and Yemen, and it must be restricted.

Since the configuration management of all world processes has changed, one of the objectives of our conference is to determine the prospects of stabilizing the Middle East. Therefore, each session has a quite specific theme, because each task must have a well-defined solution. So our goal is to develop scenarios in which the situation can be made manageable.

- How effective is the Russia-Iran-Turkey format in this regard?

- Our countries are making serious efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis and playing a very important role in the Middle East process. I'm not sure that alone they will be able to solve all problems, but the format of Russia-Iran-Turkey is an important and perhaps a necessary element of the solution. It is clear that there are contradictions and complexities between the three countries, but we have a common goal, in which everyone interested - to bring the events into a controlled direction. Then we can expect difficult talks between Moscow, Ankara and Tehran, but what unites us is a clear and quite achievable goal.

- What is the potential of Azerbaijan in stabilizing the Middle East?

- It is not the first time when Azerbaijani experts participate in the 'Valdai' activities, we treat them with great respect and seriously discuss with them our plans and further cooperation. Azerbaijan's potential is very high, because it is a significant country in the region. We are pleased that Azerbaijani colleagues discuss problems of the Middle East with us. I hope we will not disappoint them and continue our constructive cooperation.

- Should we expect an increase in cooperation between Russia and the US in the Middle East under President Donald Trump?

-  The Russian-US cooperation is inevitable, although it is not certain that it will happen quickly and be energetic. There is a clear interest of the sides in it, it is obvious that we need to work together in the Middle East. The previous US administration dis not deny it, the only question is how it will happen. We have economic and political interests, there is a cooperation in high technology, in space. Therefore, there will be a cooperation, although there are a lot of obstacles ahead.

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