For hundreds of years, the Levant has been a regional hot zone for Europe. It has been an important part of European, Arab and Persian history and as a result of past Western hegemony, it had to be an important region for others states who derived no gain or significance from the land. In this way, many such tiny European interests have had larger than necessary implications for disperate and unaffilliated nations. The World Wars are a prime examples of European tribal skirmishes that pulled into its grasp states and regions who had no true material gain from the contest.
Post Covid states will need to be savvy about the Levant and its Western significance now that geopolitical lines have shifted and many are seeking the best interest of their own nations for financial growth, strategic partnerships and a lasting independence.
In recent weeks the Levant once again was pulled into sectarian violence by Israeli and Palestine clashes. A familiar, but new skirmish for the region generally marked by Muslim, Christuan and Druzism. Circassian (Caucasian) Mamluks, earlier Turkish Mamlucks, Franks, Druze, Mongols and several Persian and Arab Caliphates ruled the Levant for decades bringing their own wealth gleaned from kingdoms in their path. Now its viability in terms of actual wealth, production and growth in the region is more a matter of old-world place keeping fiat and rule-keeping, than actual economic strength.
Turkey’s recent stirring in the region belies that such old rules and ideals are floundering as the possibility of real international influence and economic strength takes hold In the Levant, the Balkans and Slavic enclaves. In other words, the old guard is tired of baby-sitting an old order that does not benefit it.
Lebanon, has poor growth and Jordan’s growth is slow. Constant instability earmarked by Israeli and Palestinian clashes have not helped Lebanon’s growth. Currently Lebanon imports more raw material than it exports, 619 million and 1,858 million respectively, World Bank figures indicate. Adsitionally, the US trades 217 million USD with Lebanon, while the nation imports billions in pharmaceuticals, precious stones and reactors abroad.
The tiny nation of 6.856 million, has the curious distinction of also being one if the oldest traders and business classes in Africa, with little to show for it in comparison with India. To its cresut, In 2018 Lebanon exported more than 174 million in goods to South Africa according to UN COMTRADE 2018 figures. And while these are some of its largest exports and imports its current growth cash cow is banking and tourism. The old world, fiat banking that keeps some currencies high and others perpetually low.–An exercise that can be done from anywhere now with the advent of technology, which makes Lebanon’s growth tenuous at best.
The Levant a traditionally European, Persian and Arab enclave may soon lose its geopolitical relevance, as the West pursues China, India and Russia for both geopolitical and economic influence. Burning through monetary and military resources that could benefit their own economies, they struggle to catch up with the nation once known as the “Sick Man of Asia,” which has changed its own fortunes and the fortunes of many other nations via its Belt and Road Initiative. Even the 2021 G7 Summit saw the Levant wane in significance due to the worldwide power shift.
The question remains if Lebanon and its fellow geopolitical allies in the Levant will remain relevant now that the world sees a new frontier on the horizon. Western states may even need to reevaluate their economic and military investment in the Levant as the World begins to shift away from Western money to creating their own financial systems and mechanisms–ones impregnable by outside tempering.
The lockdowns on finance and liquidity for nations and individuals through sanctions and other means to push geopolitical agendas and interests have left many with even less confidrnce in the old order than before. Such targetted banking, economic and political influence has had the opposite affect, pushing many affected and onlookers to find new means in these sectors and have left the world more skeptical of the old fiat and swift methods as they watch such moves confirm what were once just suspicions.
This may mean that the Levant will need to secure its future beyond banking and tourism. Especially as world interests shift and the Western model is replaced. Those in such industries around the world must start reevaluating their priorities and seek to keep up with the times and the new power players as they emerge.