Oil Oligarchs continue global takedown
… by Viktor Titov , … with New Eastern Outlook, Moscow
[ Editor’s note: Viktor has done a well-researched article and laid his points out as well as can be expected in the fur ball of competing interests we see continuing on in the Mideast.
Oil has played a role, but that is not a stroke of genius, as all main sources of revenue play a key role in conflicts, with local adaptations.
In East Africa the rebels live off of NGO’s to a degree, shaking them down for payoffs to get aid in for starving populations. They don’t live off the land, but NGOs. Franklin Lamb, VT’s Lebanon correspondent, described how this is going on in Syria, with ISIL getting supplies the same way.
But I disagree with my learned friend on control of the oil being the number one strategic goal going on here. It is not secret that there has been a glut of oil for some time, even during the recession.
But the oil futures hustlers were able to run the price up when it should have fallen, as in past worldwide recessions. You will notice how no country anywhere really made a stink about that at the time, one of the biggest robberies in history.
There are untapped oil reserves sitting all over the place, but no reason to drill, as all the customers already have sources. Still unknown to most, Africa is floating on an ocean of oil, which the current Jihadi problems are helping to hold back development. The oil producers on the coasts, like Niger, don’t mind that because huge development would push the price down.
The big game is not the fight over the resources, but the “customers”… in terms of the means to supply them, and the price. And control over the pipelines is the life-and-death game, as their delivery costs beat everything else.
Pipelines are also a semi-monopoly, locally anyway, because once someone has customers anchored with a pipeline, that turns into a forever annuity until low-temperature fusion breaks out of jail and eliminates the need for most of the hydrocarbons.
Controlling the land over which the Gulf States can export to Europe is the big energy play going on here. While the Syrian Army was tied down protecting Damascus, that left the northern part of the country much easier to take, and where the pipeline route to the Mediterranean is. That is where you saw the Gulf States making the investment to hold that ground.
Viktor missed that with the price of oil going down and cutting the profit margins of high cost producers, like shale oil, the extraction costs in the Gulf states are the lowest.
So they have lots of margin to absorb a price reduction. That is why the Saudis have led the price reductions, as that is how you maintain market share, by not letting a competitor get his camel’s nose in the tent.
ISIL can only operate effectively at a certain combat level, but it cannot hold territory against a modern army that will fight. And the problem there is most of the Mideast armies are “paycheck” ones… people just in it for the job, not the fighting.
Iraq had a hollowed out national army, only 24,000 in the whole country. A third of those were home on half pay, while the officers got the other half ( a common scam). It was a pretend-a-army in the national sense. When the time came to fight, the pay was not high enough. The troops and the officers ran away, not even having the ability to conduct a fighting withdrawal.
They have everything they needed to fight ISIL to a standstill, but everybody thought it was someone else’s job to do it… someone very low paid to be used as cannon fodder. The guys in the bottom ranks figured that out, and took off, trying to catch up with their officers. You just can’t make this stuff up… Jim W. Dean ]
– First published … October 20, 2014 –
While going through numerous articles and analytical commentaries by Russian, Arabic and Western political experts on the success of ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), one may start to believe that something inexplicable or even inconceivable is happening, and that the entire world is looking helplessly on at the events in the Middle East.
For some reason, it has only crossed the minds of a few that any phenomenon can be explained not only by facts but also by elementary logic. There’s no secret as to why ISIS has gained a firmer foothold in the region and is gradually expanding the borders of its influence and control.
In order to better understand these, we need to go back in time to trace the moment when this group was formed in order to remind ourselves who stands to gain from it’s unbelievably rapid rise to power.
- Originally, ISIS was created to fight the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and at this stage it was not by any means the most powerful military group of the anti-Syrian opposition. The formation of this terrorist unit was largely facilitated by the USA and Saudi Arabia.
Riyadh provided financial assistance while Washington trained ISIS fighters in camps in Jordan and Turkey. There are reports that a number of the training camps was built in Saudi territory. In these camps, in addition to purely military training, the militants under the supervision of instructors from the CIA and the Pentagon as well as Saudi special forces, were brainwashed in accordance with the ideology of the Salafi movement.
At the same time, Saudi Arabia, along with a number of private Islamic sponsors in Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE, provided the money for the recruitment of Islamists and terrorists from failing radical movements into the ranks of ISIS. Among those enlisted were Algerians, Moroccans, Libyans, Egyptians, Yemenis, Afghans, Chechens, Dagestanis and EU citizens of different origins. It’s a well known fact that ISIS is mainly composed of Iraqis and Syrians, although these are generally used as cannon fodder.
- By May 2014, as the Syrian army was enjoying success on the field of battle and the civil war in Syria became less intense, ISIS fighters were nowhere to be found. But then the parliamentary elections in Iraq were held, and the pro-Iranian Shiite politician Nouri al-Maliki was reelected by the newly formed Council of Representatives, yet he still failed to form a government. At this point, his rapprochement with Iran and Russia along with the support he showed to the Syrian government in Damascus enraged the leaders of Saudi Arabia. They feared, along with Washington officials, the possible creation of a “Shiite arc” from Tehran to Beirut, feeling increasingly impotent to affect the situation on the ground in Iraq, which had been restoring its oil output, and all this against the background of the intensifying conflict in Ukraine and a shaky rapport with Iran.
Both Syria and Iraq were supposed to play a part in Washington’s plan of weakening the Russian economy which must have led to a sharp decline of Moscow’s role in gas markets. Then oil prices were supposed to go down in order to initiate financial collapse in Russia, since oil sales are Russia’s main source of revenue.
- In these circumstance, ISIS had been unexpectedly sent from Syria to Iraq, where it seized 30% of Iraq’s territory in a matter of days, including such cities as Mosul, Tikrit, Samarra, Baakubu, along with the oil fields near Mosul and Kirkuka and oil processing facilities. ISIS militants have practically managed to surround Baghdad. At this point the Iraqi army was literally falling apart, therefore all of its modern military equipment that had been provided by the United States, ended up in the hands of the militants. The ISIS terrorists managed to locate most of Iraq’s small arms stockpiles with ease, since the American side knew perfectly where it had built them. Despite Nouri al-Maliki’s repeated calls for military assistance, Obama made a peculiar announcement about the country’s need to find ways of reconciliation with the Sunnis, the very people whom ISIS represents, that were instantly followed by similar calls from Riyadh.
There even were a number of proposals to create some form of a government of national unity. Unity with whom? ISIS terrorists? At the same time Washington refused to provide the pro-Iranian Shiite Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki with military assistance, when the strikes against the positions of the Islamists were needed the most.
But US special troops were sent to allegedly ensure the security of the US Embassy in Iraq, although it was clear that was part of preparations for the consequent evacuation of the diplomatic mission.
Military support from Iran, Russia and Syria, resulted in air strikes against ISIS positions in the western and north-western parts of Iraq, turning the tide of battle for Iraq. Additionally, those players provided assistance to the government of Nouri al-Maliki for the effective mobilization of Shiite fighters and for the bolstering of Baghdad’s defences, along with the defences of Najef and Kerbella – Shiite sanctuaries. Elite troops from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were sent to Iraq, as well as Russian SU-27 military planes, both becoming crucial elements of those defences.
- During July and August the skirmishes across Iraq came to a stall, but military troops had partially succeeded in pushing the Islamists back, largely due to the assistance of Pershmerga units – Kurdish paramilitary troops. Then on 29, July ISIS proclaimed an Islamic caliphate, the territorial claims of which didn’t simply encompass the densely populated Muslim regions of the entire world, but also Spain, Portugal, Greece, Ukraine, the Caucasus, the Crimea, the Volga Region, parts of India and even China. As for the Caliph, Abu-Bakr al-Bagdadi, born in 1971 near Samarra (Iraq), assumed this position. He is known as one of the leaders of the anti-Assad armed opposition. On top of all, it’s a known fact that he received training from US intelligence agencies.
In May 2013, Bagdadi and other “leaders” of the anti-Assad front met with the infamous instigator, US Senator John McCain. and even was photographed with him near the Syrian town of Idliba. The pictures of these “opposition fighters” together with McCain who had been smiling broadly throughout the meeting were put on the Internet. These very fighters were later called by all international players, including Barack Obama himself, terrorists, murderers and a threat to international peace and security.
- But then something rather unpleasant happened – ISIS started to behead US and British citizens who had been taken hostage. The whole process was filmed and uploaded to the Web. At this point Obama had to react somehow, although he clearly did so slowly and unwillingly. But first, US Secretary of State John Kerry went to Jedda to rally Arabian allies, as a result, an international conference on the fight against terrorism was held in Paris. Later on September 24, in opening session of the UN General Assembly, Obama called for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council, despite the fact that the US Constitution allows no President of the United States to chair the Security Council.
The Security Council adopted a resolution on the creation of an anti-terrorist coalition, while its mandate remains unclear even to present day. There is no mentioning of a ground operation against ISIS, but at the same time the US and a number of Arab countries, plus Great Britain and France started to carry out missile and bomb strikes against Islamic State positions in Syria and Iraq. Oil processing facilities in Syria have been destroyed, but Damascus had given no consent to the “coalition forces” to operate inside Syria’s air space.That’s understandable – one has to invent a pretext before going in to bomb the positions of the Syrian army.
Additionally, while it was creating an anti-terrorist coalition, Washington decided to resume its aid to the “moderate” Syrian opposition, while providing additional training to “moderate” militants in camps near Syria’s borders. By expending hundreds of Tomahawk cruise missiles and thousands of tons of “smart” bombs costing US taxpayers well over a billion dollars, the US succeeded in pushing ISIS forces towards the Kurdish town of Kobani with a population of nearly 50,000 people. At this point, the world would witness the Islamists slaughtering the local Kurdish population — but the world would say nothing, remaining motionless, looking silently as terrorists wiped out an entire city in broad daylight. Still the US, Great Britain, France, Germany and Turkey kept on insisting that they were not planning to put boots on the ground in order to fight this threat.
- The hypocrisy of the US and the West is understandable. They are watching just as calmly the crimes of Ukrainian Nazis in Donbass, the downing of a Malaysian airliner shot-down by Kiev near Donetsk and the incident in Odessa where peaceful protesters were burned alive by nationalist thugs. There’s a simple explanation for this fact – oil and gas, the battle for the control of hydrocarbons.
And for the sake of this very battle, Washington is using the Islamic State, its own creation. After all, the Islamic State is not planning to establish a universal caliphate built upon Sharia laws. It’s aimed at seizing control of all the oil and gas reserves in the Persian Gulf. But first it will have to ensure a secure footing in the territories of Syria and Iraq in order to build an army and establish government bodies, and then it will be able to carry on jihad elsewhere.
It would seem that Saudi Arabia is starting to realize that it has miscalculated. The ISIS forces are not going to wage war on Turkey or Iran, since those Islamists will be annihilated by the regular armies of Ankara and Tehran. ISIS is going to strike southern Iraq with its rich reserves of oil and gas and then Baghdad since, after all, it was the capital of the Arabian caliphate. The next stop of ISIS militants will be Kuwait and the eastern regions of Saudi Arabia, rich in oil, and their final destination is Qatar and the UAE. Saudi intelligence services have finally figured it out, though it’s too late now, that it is easier for the United States to control the flow of hydrocarbons of the entire Persian Gulf from one centre, even if it is governed by the Islamic State, than to engage in complicated political games with a number of large regional players – Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar. And the fight has clearly begun.
As it became known, on October 14, Nouri al-Maliki fled Baghdad together with 140 Iraqi officers and generals. His location is still unknown. The US has started a rigid propaganda campaign to discredit the Iraqi army and show its inability to fight ISIS militants effectively. Therefore Washington has voiced a “solution” that implies the creation of a number of Sunni National Guard units.The West is even willing to provide the “defenders of Iraq” to be armed and trained. The Western media is focusing on the request for military assistance that came from a Sunni Governorate of Al Anbar in Iraq, even though the central government clearly opposes this step. The escape of Nouri al-Maliki was considered a preventive step initiated by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi with Tehran’s silent consent. Washington and Riyadh are satisfied with it too, as the power of Iraqi Shiites will be weakened this way.Their strategic goal is to divide the country into three parts along sectarian lines. Sunni regions in this case will come under the authority of ISIS.
Recent publications in the Saudi media have already shown Riyadh’s growing displeasure with the US, that had been amplified with Washington’s actions aimed at dropping oil prices. The more shale oil the US is selling today, the lower the price of the Saudi’s conventional oil. Should the price fall by another 10-15 dollars – the Kingdom can kiss all of its social care programmes goodbye, along with a number of other Arabian monarchies except for the tiny Qatar.This would lead to the continuation of the color revolution movements, this time in the Arabian world.
The events can easily go down the path of a Libyan scenario. And once Arabia is gone, Iran will fall. Yemen is at the brink of disaster already.
… Obama is nothing but a mere finger puppet, hence those forces that run America today can easily get rid of him once he’s done. We can only hope that Moscow will be prepared to counter the renewed US attacks aimed at the redistribution of the world’s oil and gas.
Turning to China can prove to be a beneficial step, but Russia cannot allow itself to be transformed into Beijing’s junior partner. We still have to search for partners in the region, especially among the Arabic countries, to ensure that they are fully aware of Washington’s designs.
It’s essential to create a strategic union with Iran, and to consolidate Russia’s collaboration with Turkey in order to succeed.