The main international news in recent days has been the historic meeting between the two presidents of North Korea and South Korea and which aims to end long decades of political and military conflict between the two countries. This news is not just related to these two states but it also carries major international dimensions.
Taking sides during the Cold War
Decades ago, the two Koreas took sides with one of the two axes in the Cold War. South Korea took the side of the capitalist West while North Korea took the side of the Eastern communist bloc. As a result, South Korea became one of the most successful countries in the world; or rather an impressive model of development at all levels.
On the other hand, North Korea focused on developing nuclear weapons and ruling with force like any typical communist regime. Thus it ended up becoming a nuclear state with an exhausted economy and whose people suffer from poverty, ignorance and underdevelopment under the dictatorship of the grandfather, son and then the grandson.
If the North Korean model is successfully and completely toppled, we will witness a new international era in world historyAbdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi
North Korea poses a significant challenge to the whole world. No one knows what goes on within its borders. All it represents to its neighboring countries and the world is the continuous threat to possibly commit the folly of using nuclear arms. This is how it defined itself. Consecutive generations around the world have known it as a rogue state that is an essential cornerstone of every ‘axis of evil’ at the international level.
Restoring balance of power
A major imbalance of power occurred during the term of former US President Barack Obama, which allowed all countries that are hostile to the US and its allies to resurface at the international level, from Russia to North Korea and from Iran to the Muslim Brotherhood. The US thus had to restore international balance, which is what the US administration of Donald Trump and its allies around the world are doing.
North Korea’s escalation last year was an attempt to test the US resolve by threatening the US and its allies with long-range ballistic missiles and through other methods that are quite characteristic of North Korea. However, the response of the US administration was strong, strict and shocking as it confirmed its intention to subjugate North Korea with all possible political, economic and military means and by pressuring its allies by all means possible. The result was that North Korea was forced to change its hostile attitude towards the world and alter its direction.
No one precisely knows how decades-old armistice could overnight turn into a process of peace and hope, but this will clarify in the future. This new orientation has one goal which is the end of the North Korean model as a rogue state in the international order.
In our region, the Iranian regime was inspired by North Korea and viewed it as a role model – of course taking into consideration there are differences between the two regimes. With the collapse of this model, Iran will have to walk alone in building its own model amid all the major changes to confront its project. This confrontation is led by the US (under President Donald Trump) and it includes Britain, France, and Germany, along with Saudi Arabia and its allies in the region. Iran will not only face a challenge over its nuclear weapons issue and the P5+1 agreement, but on matters related to its terrorist destructive policies, its ballistic missiles, its support of militias, terrorist groups, and its interference in Arab countries’ affairs.
If the North Korean model is successfully and completely toppled, we will witness a new international era in world history. This has not been completed yet as it’s not like the fall of the Berlin Wall, which was a result, but an issue that is being worked on, followed up on and monitored. The party most harmed by the change will be the Iranian regime.
Abdullah bin Bijad al-Otaibi is a Saudi writer and researcher. He is a member of the board of advisors at Al-Mesbar Studies and Research Center. He tweets under @abdullahbjad