The latest G7 Summit has produced a counter to China’s massive Belt and Road initiative even as clashes between Israel and Palestinians once again light up the historically troubled Levant. The region along the Black Sea housing Lebanon and Jerusalem, and opposite Turkey. G7 leaders hope to galvanize its members to produce a lasting trade cohesion that likely its Middle East will want to explore post Covid-19 and after devastating clashes destroying critical infrastructure.
While it is likely G7 members from the EU will certainly hope to reign in and yoke down Turkey’s new found monetary and geopolitical independence and influence with the possibility of infrastructure finance–members still must tread carefully with Turkey as the nations strategic position gives it the greatest access to the Levant beyond Syria and Jordan. Without Turkey’s cooperation it is unclear whether Israel could survive in the region, even with support from Lebanon and Jordan as Syria slips into peril.
According to Georank, Lebanon has the 81st and Jordan has the 89th largest economy in the world. But that comes with a caveat, Lebanon’s GDP per capita growth has been shrinking and Jordan’s growth has been slow. The nation is in decline, even as it exports largely to EU countries, South Africa, the UAE, Saudi Arabia And the USA among others. With a GDP of 56 billion, Lebanon is dwarfed by its neignors, most auspiciously, Israel with a GDP of nearly 400 billion USD according to 2019 World Bank data. The Middle East and particularly Palestine, Syria, Afganistan and Iraq who have been devastated by the Western Theatre will want to cash in on the new G7 Build Back Better World plan infrastructure plan, dubbed B3W.
Israel, which now occupies the former Crusader State known as the first and second Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, exports 16 billion annually with the US despite its frequent clashes in the Levant. Israel which newly elected a president apart from strongman Netanyahu has recieved to date (FY2020) 146 billion dillars in military aid from the US according to the Carnegie Endowment. Israel has also taken the lions share of guaranteed loans, up to 8 billion annually with the US issuing 4.1 billion in 2021.
Certainly Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey will want to see it’s trade, loan and GDP numbers increase with the advent of the G7 trade infrastructure plan to include them in the massive US giving. Even though the US cannot be expected to foot the bill for most of B3W, it will certainly be looked to for leadership among Western allies grasping for world relevance. It is still unclear whether G7 members will be expected to contribute new financing to the plan or simply redistribute aid and other funds to tap middle and lower income countries targeted by B3W.
The Middle East will likely be first in line for infrastructure projects in the wake of Western coalition-led entanglements in the region (e.g Afganistan) and a never-ending Arab Spring. Even with all of the mostly Muslim European, Turkic, Circassian and Persian populations that lay claim to the Levant, few would consider the Uygurs of China as a population ripe fore resettlement in the region like Israel. Believed to be a remnant from the Mongol empire, which stretched to the Levant, generous numbers of Hülegü (Uyghurs) dominating the region until advent of Circassian (Caucasian) Mamluks. The Uigurs of Xinxiang Province are likely those driven out of the Levant during an ancient war between the Mongol Khan empire and the Circassian Mamluks. Does that give the Uigurs title to the region? The US passed legislation regarding Uyghurs regarding suspected forces labor in 2020. The B3W offers the US led G7 an opportunity to reinstate and consolidate the Muslim Uygurs in the Levant. To be clear, there are Uyghur populations in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Russia as well as non-regional locations. B3W, the Western counter to the Chinese Belt and Road in contrast aims to be, “values driven,” in that need will not be the only criteria for recipients, but also adherence to Western values and vision. Many will wait to see hoe those values” weigh in the consideration of minority and persecuted populations in the regions financed by B3W.
For B3W, the Middle East and it’s history of clashes, long wars and Western-ally led missions is the likely first choice to rectify the infrastructure and economic challenges being faced in the region. However, in the face of Covid and financial struggles in the US, EU, Japan and Canada it is unclear from where the financing will come. Americans will be eager to know how the money will be spent as millions of Americans and Europeans grapple with the aftermath of Covid-19. Some are concerned that in the quest to reestablish a Western world order, the new G7 infrastructure plan might further crack the infrastructure of some of the world’s largest Western economies–only time will tell.