By Micaela Constantini *
Faced with the scenery of international conflict and geopolitical transition, the United Kingdom and the United States, together with their watchdog NATO, are trying to maintain their hegemony in key geopolitical territories such as the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, the Western Balkans and the South Atlantic.
This year the world went through a profound process of transformations characterized mainly by the acceleration of the reconfiguration of the world order system. The declined trend of the Anglo-Western bloc led by the United States was already being observed and analyzed a few years ago. But since the pandemic and, especially, the beginning of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine (or the Russia-NATO confrontation), the advance of the multipolar bloc and the crisis of the current systemic order are accelerating very fast.
Everywhere in the world we are feeling the earthquake caused by the international dispute between the great powers, and although we can pay attention to the particularities that describe the problems that develop in each country, the truth is that the multiple crisis is hitting the entire international population and pressuring governments to make political decisions that can change the historical course of their people.
We could name various events and characteristics as novel in the current scenario, however there are facts that history and the present remind us not to change. At every historical moment in which the US/UK/NATO bloc has seen its hegemony in crisis, disputed and taken away, the empire has become more bestial. Its forms of warmongering have not changed, they have been transformed and improved by the techno-scientific advances that allow it to wage war on various fronts.
Nevertheless, the bloc continues to use bellicose tools that demonstrate that they only pursue their own interests no matter how many allies, partners or people they trample on along the way. Since for them they are only pawns that serve to develop their war strategy. They also expose the hypocrisy and double standards with which they operate, revealing the imperial action under an enormous colonial imprint.
One of the tactics used as part of the forms of imperial warmongering, which is not new, has been to instigate and foment unsolved ‘local’ disputes and conflicts in different countries or regions. The objectives are diverse, such as destabilizing the internal politics of a country; pressuring political elites; forcing the enemy to focus on solving violent escalations that break out on its borders; generating discord between two countries so that they cannot consolidate peace negotiations, agreements and multilateral relations.
Clear examples of this action in 2022 have been the neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine, the escalation of tensions in the Caucasus between Armenia and Azerbaijan; in Central Asia in Kazakhstan or Afghanistan; in Asia Pacific between Taiwan and China, or between South and North Korea; in West Asia in Syria, just to name a few.
European hot spots
As far as Europe is concerned, we can observe two hotspots that have escalated tensions in key geopolitical issues and to which we must pay close attention in the coming year: the Eastern Mediterranean, the Aegean Sea and the Western Balkans.
The first one involves two actors in two different territories. Although the confrontation between Türkiye and and Greece has a long history, throughout 2022 they have been on the brink of open-conflict and disputes have escalated, mainly over the militarization and expansion of Athens over a group of Islands in the Aegean Sea, drilling rights in the Mediterranean, the historical division between the Republic of Cyprus and Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, and their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) along with the control of sea lanes.
And the second one is developing in the Western Balkans between Serbia and the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo. This is also a conflict that has been active for years, and in 2022 there were negotiations, increased tensions and a few weeks ago the situation in the north of the border worsened.
It is crucial to ensure the control and management of certain actors that enable the instigation of active conflicts is the provision of armaments and military training. Of course it also serves to keep the business of the military industrial complex running.
Coincidentally both Greece and Kosovo have US and NATO military bases.
Greece has at least four military bases to which Washington has access based on the Greece-U.S. Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement: the Georgula Barracks in the province of Volos, the Litochoro training camp, the army barracks in the Northeastern port city of Alexandroupoli, and the Souda naval base on Crete.
Military training provided by the U.S. to Greece from 2017 to 2022 includes more than $4.3 million in International Military Education and Training (IMET) funding. And in 2022 alone, the U.S. State Department provided Greece with $30 million in foreign military funding.
Kosovo is home to one of the largest and most expensive military bases created by the United States: the Bondsteel Military Camp. NATO also has a special force for Kosovo, KFOR, which intervened in the territory after the end of the war in 1999 with the aim of “maintaining order and security in Kosovo, maintaining the points agreed in the peace agreement and assisting the program of the UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK)”. From that moment on, Kosovo became a strategic protectorate of the Anglo-Western bloc.
The US provides Kosovo with security assistance, but also with education, training and military equipment to promote national security objectives, explains the US Department of Defense. The Kosovo Security Forces (KSF) are intended to transition to a modern, interoperable force with NATO.
The Department of Defense along with USAID (United States Agency for International Development) provided in 2020, $56.9 million in assistance. In addition, it is since 2011 that KSFs works collectively with the Iowa National Guard in the State Partnership Program.
A few days ago, while tensions between Serbia and Kosovo were rising, NATO announced that it will conduct military exercises near its base in Novo Selo. And the self-proclaimed Government of the Republic of Kosovo approved the agreement made with the Ministry of Defense of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for the secondment of personnel from the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) in the Falkland Islands to the Roulement Infantry Company.
What do these hotspots have in common besides the fact that they are unsolved conflicts? The Eastern Mediterranean, the Western Balkans and the South Atlantic are extremely important territories for the Anglo-Western bloc in the context of international disputes. The actors and conflicts instigated are not chosen randomly, they are key points for the development of the imperial strategy, especially to stop the advance of the Sino-Russian axis in areas that for several years were under Western hegemonic control.
In the Eastern Mediterranean we can observe the importance of controlling maritime routes, inter-Mediterranean communication and the exploitation of natural gas and oil deposits discovered in recent years. These are territories and delimitations in dispute between several countries such as Türkiye, Greece, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Libya, Israel, the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, although the USA, England, France and Italy are also involved, interested in maintaining their influence in the region.
Several of the world’s most important oil companies are also present in the waters of the Eastern Mediterranean: Exxon Mobil and Noble Energy (USA), Turkish Oil Corporation (Türkiye), Eni (Italy), Kogas (South Korea), British Gas (UK), Delek Drilling and Avner Oil (Israel), Qatar Petroleum (Qatar) and Total (France).
In recent years, especially in 2022, there was a rapprochement of Russia in the Mediterranean region, from the recent military exercises with Algeria to the strengthening of energy, industrial, commercial and scientific relations with African Maghreb countries, but especially with Türkiye. This last point should not be taken lightly as Türkiye is a major player for both power blocs. Ankara’s autonomy in political decisions is intractable for Washington, making it a nightmare for the Anglo-Western bloc.
Since Türkiye-US ties have cooled, Ankara has not only moved closer to Russia, but has begun to chart its path within the multipolar project by looking towards Eurasia, while remaining key to NATO and Western Europe. In this sense, it will be necessary to pay attention to the developments involving Türkiye in the coming months in the run-up to the presidential elections, as it has become an uncomfortable but necessary actor for the West.
The Western Balkans have a geostrategic importance, partly because they function as a bridge between Asia and Western Europe and due to their historical processes it is a region with a very varied foreign influence, from countries that are already part of the EU and/or NATO, to strong allies of the Kremlin. Faced with the objective of the Anglo-Western bloc of not allowing the links and the advance of the Eurasian project to Western Europe, the Balkans constitute an influenced territory that they will not be willing to give up.
In the heart of the Balkans lies the largest and most expensive US military base, but there is also Serbia, a country with strong Russian bonds and support. The escalation between Serbia and Kosovo will be a focus of attention in the coming year, with the possibility that it could be used as a destabilization tool.
Falkland Islands and South Atlantic
Why would Kosovo want to send its forces abroad to train, having one of the largest military bases in its territory? Well, in the development of this article it was explained that it is in Kosovo’s interest to be part of any platform, agreement or project dictated by the US/UK/NATO bloc, especially if it is about military training and international recognition as an independent country.
But why did England decide to take Kosovar forces to the Falkland Islands, and not to any other of its bases? The UK, like the US, as part of the Western bloc, seeks to maintain its hegemony in territories it considers its own after its (not so) colonial past, for which it has developed the ‘Global Britain’ project.
This means that, with the Kosovo mission in the Malvinas Islands, which includes up to seven (7) members of the KSF, i.e. an almost symbolic contingent, it is once again evident that the United Kingdom is interested in consolidating its presence in the South Atlantic and seeks to “demonstrate that they have control over the territory, that they exercise sovereignty, while showing that we (Argentina) can do nothing to prevent it”, explained the doctor in history, teacher and researcher, Guillermo Martín Caviasca.
For years, England has been advancing over the Argentine territory of the South Atlantic in military, economic, geographic, scientific, energetic, resource exploitation and even placing nuclear weapons, as denounced by the Secretary of State for Malvinas, Antarctica and South Atlantic, Guillermo Carmona.
In this sense, in an interview for United World International and PIA Global, Carmona explained that “with ‘Global Britain’ the United Kingdom is trying to revive imperialist traditions” pretending “to play a role in which the maintenance of colonialism, in what they consider overseas territories, is one of the key elements”.
According to the Argentine specialist and researcher on the Malvinas question, Julián Bilmes, “what is central to British nationalist pretensions is its own projection of power in order to strengthen its export, industrial-military and scientific-technological complexes over other territories, to preserve its role of “global player” in the geopolitical transition of this 21st century, aiming at its historical spheres of influence. This is the essential role of the 14 British overseas territories, the British Crown Dependencies and the Commonwealth of Nations”.
The Falkland Islands and the South Atlantic are home to NATO’s most important military center in all of Latin America, the Mount Pleasant Military Complex. Also the U.S. Navy’s Fourth Fleet is present, responsible for all operations in the Caribbean, Central and South America.
These territories of the South Atlantic have a key geostrategic and geopolitical importance due to their geographical position between enormous maritime spaces including the Strait of Magellan, one of the only two inter-oceanic corridors between the Atlantic and the Pacific. Its proximity to Antarctica also endows the region with an incomparable wealth of fish, hydrocarbon, biogeographic, nutritious and ecologically very productive waters. It also contains about 80% of the planet’s freshwater and has reserves of coal, oil, iron and other minerals. From the international dispute scenario, the decadent Anglo-Western powers such as the United Kingdom and the United States, together with their watchdog, NATO, are trying to maintain their hegemony in key geopolitical territories such as the Mediterranean Sea, the Western Balkans and the South Atlantic.
* Journalist and part of the PIA Global team