Alain Touraine remains one of the top sociologists in Europe. He is definitely one of the most beautiful minds of Western academia, not only because the depth of his knowledge and magnitude of his genius, but also because of his inherent and deeply humane approach to social issues.
He gave an extensive and mind-opening analysis to a Turkish newspaper in which he talks about basic but largely forgotten realities of the Middle East and the Muslim world. He presents a pertinent forecast, explaining there are three major forces - three major nation-states - that can ultimately find a solution to the total dismembering of both Syria and Iraq. These countries are Turkey, Iran and Egypt.
Egypt is in a sorry state, the reformation of its ailing authoritarian regime has turned into a nightmare. The counter-revolution was successful, the elected president is in jail and has been handed a death penalty. The new regime looks very much like that of former Egyptian presidents, Anwar al-Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, with the notable difference that Egypt's economy has never been so bad and the situation in Sinai remains very alarming.
According to Touraine, Saudi Arabia is not a nation-state, but an anachronism going back to the 18th century. But its financial help is essential for the Egyptian regime to stand, and therefore we have two countries that mostly cancel each other out when it comes to external policies.
The remaining two major nation-states are Turkey and Iran. According to Touraine, DAESH can only be wiped out of the region through the intervention of these two majority Muslim countries of the region. He underlines very pertinently that any intervention on the part of a developed Western country will be seen and heralded as a new "crusade" against the Muslim population and can only instill further hatred for Western countries, consolidating DAESH grip on the populations.
Iran has been suffering from heavy international sanctions due to its nuclear research. The Iranian regime has been adamant in its explanations that its research has been to attain self-sufficiency in nuclear power technology for civilian use. International institutions and the Western world have been extremely suspicious about the Iranian regime's real motives and have been choking Iranian economy ever since the nuclear issue came up. This has resulted in very dire results for Iran, unable to sell its oil on the international market or sustain its economic activity. Now that the sanctions have begun to be lifted, Touraine thinks that it could play a much more active role in the region. Now we still do not know whether the sanctions will be lifted just enough to give a tiny bit of breathing room to Iran, or if the country's external trading system will be totally normalized. The first case seems more likely, as the United States has already declared that because of ballistic missile tests, some sanctions on Iran can continue, albeit in a lessened form. In such a case, Iranian external policy for the region will remain unchanged. This is very bad news for both Iraq and Syria.
Turkey, in its present situation with the political polarization of society and the quagmire in Kurdish southeastern provinces, is not likely to play a determinant role to destroy DAESH militarily. Still, there is an undeclared war between DAESH and Turkey. The latest attack, this time in Istanbul, was another very bloody step in a long series of similar attacks after those in Suruç and Ankara. None have officially been acknowledged by DAESH, which probably does not want to openly provoke Turkey. But the latent and formidable dynamics depicted in Touraine's analysis are in motion. In a short while, we might see rather unexpected moves on the part of the Western countries, Israel and Turkey.
Russia remains the question in the Middle East. The Kremlin has put Russia in the quicksand of the Middle East, and has also created an untenable situation in Ukraine with Europe. Russia's economy is in shambles, so how will Moscow react to get out of this labyrinth? DAESH can still contemplate a relatively long period of conflict between foreign powers in the Middle East before regional powers, as foreseen by Touraine, can establish a viable solution.