The world is watching a riveting political and media scene on screens and social media that occupy virtual and actual space. Many international crises are managed based on manipulated scenes that serve some interests but harm other countries and groups.
There is a torrent of statements by leaders, presidents and prime ministers on Twitter and on camera, to the extent that all crises are now managed, escalate and are resolved using these tools now that players realise that military might alone is not enough, and de facto reality must be imposed via the power of image without rhyme or reason to succeed and gain ground in areas that armies and missiles cannot reach.
The standoffs created by North Korea with the US, Japan and South Korea are a series of provocative statements by North Korea’s president, followed by test missiles and military parades, and then reactions.
After each escalation, there are winners and losers but some do not understand the reasons why the crisis began or ended, and remain bystanders.
US President Donald Trump ups the ante since he spends so much time on his Twitter account, sometimes longer than he does with his aides and advisers – who frequently abandon ship at every crisis.
Russia’s invasion of Crimea which was under Ukraine sovereignty is another example of calculated escalation, risk and reaction that took the crisis to the brink where it teetered between statements and counter-statements.
Moscow understood the nature of the moment when it forced the world to accept a fait accompli due to fear of direct military confrontations and economic interests, such as Russia gas supplies to Western Europe, by firmly standing up to adamant sabre rattling by Vladimir Putin, Russia’s obstinate czar.
Meanwhile, Iran’s freewheeling and dealing in Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria and direct threat to all Gulf capitals is limited to coverage on television and statements by officials in the region, around the world, and global organisations without reaching direct confrontation.
Tehran understands that issues are always subject to de facto reality in operation theatres, and moves its pawns in areas under its control in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq in order to strengthen its hand in negotiations.
It stirs instability in Bahrain, supports Qatar, shoots missiles towards Saudi Arabia via the Houthis, arms and directs Hizbullah on the Lebanese political stage and the Syrian military stage, and maneouvres with the People’s Mobilisation militias in Iraq with the help of loyalist politicians there.
Meanwhile, Turkey also understands these realities and has a track record of conspiracies and functional roles in the service of Western capitals, and has tactical alliances with Moscow, Tehran and Tel Aviv.
Meanwhile, the ideological background of its Muslim Brotherhood President Recep Tayyip Erdogan allows him to give political and logistical cover for political Islam and armed groups across the region.
He extended into northern Iraq and Syria under the pretext of halting Kurdish ambitions of creating an independent state carved out of Turkish territories.
He protects the Qatari regime and established a military base on the shores of the peninsula that sponsors terrorism.
He stretched westwards to the Libyan stage and supplies weapons to terrorist militias in the east and west as a de facto threat to Egypt on one hand, to ensure negotiating power in talks on the future of Libya, the Muslim Brotherhood and division of oil wealth.
He is also making suspicious moves in the Red Sea around the islands and straits.
Then there is Israel, whose very creation is the epitome of de facto policy. It continues as an occupation power grabbing and occupying land, displacing people, rejecting international resolutions, subverting legitimacy, international and humanitarian laws.
It does not fear cameras, criticism or condemnations by any country or organisation; in fact, it is supported and protected.
The world order has become so hypocritical that Israel is described as an oasis of freedom in the Middle East democracy desert. Last week’s abuses during Land Day which killed and injured Palestinians is a prime example of ignoring Israel’s crimes and massacres.
Capitals maintained their silence and the media ignored these crimes, some even looking for excuses as if the de facto existence and policies of Israel were not open for discussion and its actions and crimes are a reality we must live with and overlook.
In an opposite scene, we see escalation, de facto policies, assigned roles, territories and influence in Syria that are now reality.
To this end, events, crimes and assertions are fabricated even though violations are being committed by everyone, including the Syrian regime and armed terrorist groups that the West calls “opposition”.
Syria has become a model for the fight for land, influence, interests and a testing ground for weapons, ammunition and missiles.
Some capitals, unfortunately including those of Arab states, fund this to take revenge on Bashar Al-Assad’s regime. They launch media campaigns to support any move or operation no matter what the pretext, without the need to gain land or influence on the ground.
Other capitals, such as Moscow, Washington, Ankara and Tehran are seeking influence on the ground by occupying land and air to impose their will during talks on the future of Syria, sitting behind every seat at the table – whether the negotiator represents the regime or so-called opposition.
Daily escalation has become the norm on television, Twitter and the Security Council where one-upmanship, lying and deception have led to the destruction of countries such as Iraq and Libya, and has become a tool and mechanism for chaos.
It is a global platform for empty words and no action to protect simple citizens who are being victimised and killed for no reason.
Closer to home, Ethiopia took advantage of the turmoil in Egypt after the 25 January 2011 Revolution to impose a fait accompli and began building the Renaissance Dam and several others, which is a clear violation of Egypt’s legal and historic rights to the River Nile.
Addis Ababa procrastinates so that construction can continue and create a de facto reality. It understands the difficult options in front of Cairo and that the cost of escalation could embroil Egypt in confrontations it wants to avoid politically and economically.
It is also relying on Egypt opting not to take the matter to an international forum or African Union or the Security Council or international arbitration.