The Crisis in the American-Turkish Relations and the Creation of an Independent Kurdistan

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Iakovos Alhadeff

Turkey and Syria

Turkey is one of NATO’s strongest members, and has for many years been a traditional US ally. However Turkey’s ambitious energy policy is putting this relationship to the test. Turkey is fighting with all its might, in order to become the absolute energy hub between the Middle East and Europe.

That was clear from the way Erdogan slammed Israel, a former ally, when Israel, together with Cyprus, started exploiting its natural gas reserves in the Mediterranean Sea, which could provide Europe with an alternative source of energy, which would bypass Turkey.

Turkey’s ambitions became even clearer when Erdogan became one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the overthrown of another former ally, the Syrian dictator Bashar al- Assad. Erdogan became one of the major enemies of the Assad regime, after the Syrian dictator agreed in 2011 for the construction of the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline, which would transfer Iranian natural gas and oil to the Mediterranean Sea, and which would bypass Turkey (see green line on the following map). The end of this pipeline would also be near the Turkish port of Ceyhan in the Mediterranean Sea, which is the end of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline that brings Azeri oil to the Mediterranean Sea through Turkey.

Previously, in 2009, Assad had refused to allow the Qatar-Turkey pipeline, which would transfer Qatari gas to Europe through Turkey, to pass through Syrian territories, because as he said this would harm the interests of Russia and Gazprom. The truth is that the Qatar-Turkey pipeline would harm the interests of both Assad’s allies, i.e. the interests of both Russia and Iran.

In the following article of the Turkish Weekly, titled “Turkey and Qatar Agree to Build a Natural Gas Pipeline”, you can read that Qatar and Turkey agreed on 2009 to a Qatar-Turkey natural gas pipeline that would transfer Qatari natural gas to Europe. However they needed Syria.

http://www.turkishweekly.net/news/87212/turkey-and-qatar-agree-to-build-a-natural-gas-pipeline.html

In the 2nd line of the 5th paragraph before the end of the following Guardian article, titled “Syria intervention plan fueled by oil interests, not chemical weapon concern”, August 2013, you can read the following:

“In 2009 – the same year former French foreign minister Dumas alleges the British began planning operations in Syria – Assad refused to sign a proposed agreement with Qatar that would run a pipeline from the latter’s North field, contiguous with Iran’s South Pars field, through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey, with a view to supply European markets – albeit crucially bypassing Russia. Assad’s rationale was “to protect the interests of [his] Russian ally, which is Europe’s top supplier of natural gas”.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2013/aug/30/syria-chemical-attack-war-intervention-oil-gas-energy-pipelines

At the following article of Today’s Zaman, a Turkish newspaper, titled “Erdogan: Assad is a good friend, but he delayed reform efforts”, dated May 2011, you can read that in May 2011 the first strains in the Erdogan-Assad relationship had already appeared, but Erdogan was still calling Assad a friend.

http://www.todayszaman.com/diplomacy_erdogan-assad-is-a-good-friend-but-he-delayed-reform-efforts_243660.html

What Erdogan meant by ‘reforms’ in Syria, was for Assad to go to elections. What Erdogan meant by ‘reforms’ in Syria, was for Assad to go to elections. Note that Sunni Muslims account for about 65% of the Syrian population. Therefore if Bashar al-Assad, the Iranian ally, was to go to elections, it should be easier for Sunni Turkey and Sunni Qatar, than for Shiite Iran, to gain influence in Syria. Assad is an Alawi Muslim. Alawi Muslims are an off shot of Shiite Muslims. Note that Shiite Muslims are also called Shia Muslims. However at this point Erdogan had not openly asked for Assad to step down, and he was calling him a friend.

At the following Wall Street Journal article, titled “Iraq, Iran, Syria Sign $10 Billion Gas-Pipeline Deal”, June 2011, you can read about the Iranian-Iraqi-Syrian pipeline deal in June 2011, which infuriated Erdogan.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424053111903591104576467631289250392

As you can read at the following Reuters article, titled “Turkish Prime Minister calls on Syria’s Assad to quit”, November 2011, a few months after the agreement for the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline was signed, Erdogan openly asked for Assad to step down.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/22/us-turkey-syria-idUSTRE7AL0WJ20111122

Of course Erdogan will never openly admit that his problem with the Assad regime is the Iran-Iraq-Syria and the Qatar-Turkey pipelines. He will pretend that their differences are based on human right violations in Syria, as it usually happens in the international arena. More specifically, Erdogan claims that Assad’s human right violations cause Syrian people to flee the country, and these people enter Turkey, and therefore Assad has to go, in order for these people to stop leaving Syria and entering Turkey.


Turkey and Iran

As it was expected, the Turkish attack on Assad, who had previously agreed on the Iranian pipeline project, infuriated the Iranians, since the Turkish attack on Assad was an attack on the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline too, and a support to the Qatar-Turkey pipeline. Iranians were so furious with Erdogan, that a few months later, in 2012, they rejected Constantinople (Istanbul), as the proposed venue for the nuclear talks between the great powers and Iran.

Given that it was Turkey and Brazil who had made huge efforts in the previous years, for an agreement between Iran and the West, over the Iranian nuclear program, the Iranians must have been extremely angry with Erdogan in order to reject Instabul as the proposed venue for the event, something that would be very prestigious for Erdogan’s role as an international mediator.

Obviously Erdogan was not trying to lift the sanctions against Iran due to his love for Iran. Instead, Erdogan wanted the sanctions lifted, so that the Iranians could send their natural gas to Europe through Turkey, something that cannot be done as long as there are economic sanctions against Iran. What Erdogan wants in return for his intermediation between Iran and the West, is that the Iranian energy passes through Turkey and not through Syria.

At the following Reuters article, titled “Turkey, Brazil seal deal on Iran nuclear fuel swap”, May 2010, you can read how Turkey and Brazil, as mediators between the West and Iran, almost cut a deal on behalf of Iran with the major world powers, over the Iranian nuclear program in 2010.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/05/16/us-iran-nuclear-deal-idUSTRE64F29P20100516

In the first and the second paragraphs of the following Bloomberg article, titled “Iran Officials Reject Istanbul as Talks Venue Over Syria”, April 2012, which is about the Iranian rejection of Instabul as the proposed venue for the international talks over the Iranian nuclear program due to Erdogan’s actions against Assad, you can read the following:

“Iranian officials say Turkey isn’t a suitable location for nuclear talks expected in mid-April as the neighbors clash over unrest in Syria, Iran’s ally.

“Given Turkey’s unprincipled policies, it isn’t beneficial for the upcoming negotiations between Iran and the 5+1 countries to be held in Istanbul,” said Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee. “Iranian lawmakers have many times said that negotiations need to take place in another spot and in a country that is a friend of Iran,” he told the Tehran-based Etemaad newspaper in a report published today”.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-05/iran-officials-reject-istanbul-as-talks-venue-amid-syria-discord.html

I have to say that the Turkish attack on Assad and the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline was not personal or irrational. It was simply a business decision. Erdgogan is doing everything he can to lure the Iranians to send their energy to Europe through Turkey. Erdogan follows a stick and carrot policy towards the Iranians.

In the 8th and 9th paragraph of the following BBC article, titled “Iran nuclear programme ‘solely civilian’ – Turkish Prime Minister”, dated March 2010, you can read the following:

“In an interview with the BBC’s Nik Gowing, Mr Erdogan said he believed it was Iran’s “most natural right” to develop a nuclear programme for civilian purposes.

It was, he added, “unfair” of nuclear-armed countries to “manipulate the facts” about Turkey’s neighbour while at the same time not telling Israel to dispose of its nuclear weapons”.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8570842.stm

How could Erdogan do it better for the Iranians? He said that the Iranian nuclear program was not dangerous, and he blamed Israel. He couldn’t make it any sweeter for the Iranians. And yet in 2012 the Iranians rejected Istanbul as the venue for the international talks over the Iranian nuclear program, because the Iran-Iraq-Syria and the Qatar-Turkey pipelines are very important for the Iranians and the Iranian economy. For the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline see also Wikipedia at the following link.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran-Iraq-Syria_pipeline

One of the reasons that Turkey is so tough in its energy policy, and she is willing to even risk her friendship with the Americans for its shake, is that she is very poor in energy resources, and she has to import most of her energy. Turkey currently imports most of her energy from Russia.

However she is hoping that if Iran is dependent on Turkey, that is if Turkey is the shortest way through which Iran can send its oil and natural gas to Europe, Iran will be forced to offer discount energy prices to Turkey. The increase in Turkey’s geopolitical significance as the region’s only energy hub is obviously a very important factor too. As long as Assad, an Iranian ally, rules in Syria, Iran will have more bargaining power. And as I already said, the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline would be very close to the end of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, which would mean lower revenues for Turkey, and a decrease in her geopolitical significance.

Controlling Iraq and Syria is also very important for Iran, in order to block the Qatar-Turkey pipeline. Actually in case Iran reaches an agreement with the West, blocking the Qatar-Turkey pipeline will be more important than constructing the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline for the Iranians, since Iran will be able to send its energy to Europe through Turkey. At the end of the day every Middle East battle for an energy corridor has two purposes. The first one is to sell your own energy, and the second one is to block the sales of your competitors.

Which of the two is more important depends on the individual cases and it also depends on how things are going to evolve. For instance if Iran reaches an agreement with the West, controlling Syria and Iraq will be more important for the Iranians in order to block the Qatar-Turkey pipeline. If the Iranians do not reach an agreement with the West, controlling Syria and Iraq will be more important for the Iranians in order to construct the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline.

That’s the reason Turkey and Iran are in bad terms, since Turkey is fighting Iran’s major ally in Syria, and also Iran’s friends in Iraq, in order to block Iran’s exit to the Mediterranean Sea, and to open the corridor for the Qatar-Turkey pipeline. However at the same time the two countries are trying to have a working relationship, since Turkey needs the Iranian energy to pass through Turkey, for the reasons I already mentioned, and in order to decrease Turkish dependency on Russian energy, and Iran needs Turkey to send its natural gas to Europe through a pipeline network. The Turkey-Iran relationship is a “love to hate” relationship. Or to be more accurate it is a “hate and business” relationship because there isn’t much love in it.

If Iran wants to send its natural gas to Europe through a pipeline network and not through the sea, the only other option besides Turkey would be Russia. However Russia is the larger exporter of natural gas in the world, and Iran would not want its main competitor to control its natural gas. The problem is that Turkey does not want Iran to have any other alternatives, and it also wants the Qatar-Turkey pipeline, and the Iranians do not like Erdogan bullying them.

In the following Reuters article, titled “Turkey’s Erdogan visits Iran to improve ties after split over Syria”, January 2014, you can read the following:

First and Second Paragraphs

“Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan visited Iran on Wednesday to bolster trade and energy ties, state TV said, in what also looked like a bid to defuse tensions over Syria by capitalizing on Tehran’s diplomatic opening to regional rivals and the West.

Iran has been a strong strategic ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since the start of the uprising against him, while Turkey has been one of his fiercest critics, supporting his opponents and giving refuge to rebel fighters.

Fourteenth and Fifteenth Paragraph

“Erdogan’s delegation repeated Turkey’s demand for a discount on the price of natural gas from Iran, a senior Turkish official said. A senior Iranian official then told Reuters: “This issue was discussed but further talks will take place on the issue of discount. No decision has been made yet.

Turkey depends on imports for almost all of its natural gas needs and the $60 billion energy bill Ankara must foot annually has been the biggest driver of its ballooning current account deficit, regarded as the main weakness of its economy.”

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/29/us-iran-turkey-erdogan-idUSBREA0S11T20140129

As I said Erdogan has also very good relations with Qatar, and they both support the Muslim Brotherhood. If the Sunni Muslims of the ISIS army win enough regions in Syria and Iraq, so that they manage to create a connection between Qatar and Turkey, Qatar and Turkey should be able to construct the Qatar-Turkey natural gas pipeline, which would transfer Qatari natural gas to Europe through Turkey, if of course Saudi Arabia or Kuwait agree to that too.

At the same time they can block the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline. Turkey would again receive lots of money in transit fees, and maybe discount energy prices from Qatar. The following map shows what ISIS would need to achieve, in order to enhance the Qatar-Turkey pipeline and to block the Iran-Iraq-Syria one. If you google a map with the areas controlled by ISIS today, you will see that this has almost been achieved.

Qatar Turkey Pipeline Isis

We therefore see that Turkey follows a very aggressive and ambitious energy policy, and she is almost an independent regional power. Turkey attacks anyone who dares to overcome her as an energy hub between Middle East and Europe, and she is in a constant bargaining process with the rich in energy countries. However the Americans and the Europeans do not seem to feel comfortable with having to rely on Turkey for the energy supply of Europe.


Turkey and the United States

Turkey is indeed a country with great strategic significance for Europe and the US, since it is only through Turkey that a pipeline carrying Iranian, Qatari or Turkmen natural gas can reach Europe, offering and alternative to Gazprom, something that would reduce the Russian influence over Europe (red, yellow and white lines). Note that Iran, Qatar and Turkmenistan are the 2nd, 3rd and 4th richest countries in the world respectively, in terms of natural gas reserves, with Russia being the richest. For the richest countries in natural gas reserves see page 21, of the following U.S. Energy Information Administration report, titled “Country Analysis Brief : Iran”.

http://www.eia.gov/countries/analysisbriefs/Iran/iran.pdf

The problem for the Americans is that Turkey has become too important and too powerful, and it is an independent regional power, and not an ally of the West. Therefore the West cannot rely on Turkey in the same way it used to do in the past.

Iran Pipelines

The Assad regime, is a major dispute not only between Turkey and Iran, but also between USA and Turkey. Assad is a traditional Russian ally, and he is not the best option for the Americans. Actually the Americans were very positive towards his overthrown sometime ago. However I do not thing that the replacement of Assad by a Sunni candidate who would be controlled by Turkey would be a better solution for the US. It would probably be worse, given that the United States have managed to significantly improve their relations with Iran, which is Assad’s major ally. If the United States normalize their relations with Iran, Assad should not be a big problem for them even though he is very close to Russia.

As you can read in the following Wall Street Journal article, titled “U.S., Iran Relations Move to Détente”, October 2014, the American-Iranian relation have significantly improved. More specifically, in the 8th paragraph of the following article you can read the following:

“This shows that although we see Turkey and Arab states as our closest allies, our interests and policies are converging with Iran’s,” said Vali Nasr, dean of the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and a former Obama administration official. “This is a geostrategic reality at this moment, more than a conscious U.S. policy.”

http://online.wsj.com/articles/u-s-iran-relations-move-to-detente-1414539659

The relationship between Iran and the West is far from perfect. But it seems that the West is ready to overlook some things in order to buy Iranian oil and natural gas. And as you can read at the following Telegraph article, titled “Iran offers Europe gas amid Russian energy embargo fears”, May 2014, the Iranians seem ready to supply this natural gas to Europe.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/10808037/Iran-offers-Europe-gas-amid-Russian-energy-embargo-fears.html

Therefore if the US-Iranian relations normalize, it would be much better for the US to have an option for providing energy to Europe, which would not involve Turkey, otherwise Turkey could become extremely demanding. And if Turkey controls Syria, this alternative will be gone. That should explain why the US is reluctant to overthrow Assad. Besides the Americans cannot hope to normalize their relations with Iran while they are chopping their major allies in Iraq and Syria.

I am not saying that this is the only reason. The Americans would also have to go against the Russians and many Europeans in order to overthrow Assad, but I believe that these considerations are of secondary importance to explain the change in the Obama policy towards Assad.

In the 7th paragraph of the following article of Public Radio International, titled “Did Barack Obama just signal a shift in US policy toward Syria?”, May 2014, you can read the following:

“He (Obama) seems to be signaling a potentially significant change in Syrian policy,” said Fredric Hof, who served as President Obama’s special representative for Syria in 2012. “But without spelling out in great detail what that change is exactly, or pledging that he would try to do something big enough to alter the situation on the ground decisively in Syria.”

http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-05-28/did-barack-obama-just-signal-shift-us-policy-toward-syria

What we read in most newspapers is that Obama needs Iran and Assad in order to combat the Jihadists of the ISIS army in Syria and Iraq. That can’t be true. ISIS and the Islamic State are mainly funded and supported by American allies i.e. by Qatar and Turkey, even though Qatar and Turkey would not admit so. But it is mainly in the Qatari, Saudi and Turkish interests to break Iran’s influence in Syria and Iraq, since that would stop the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline, and would also allow the construction of the Qatar-Turkey pipeline. For the Qatar-Turkey pipeline see the following Wikipedia link.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qatar-Turkey_pipeline

Moreover when they are telling us that they are bombing ISIS, we do not know what exactly they are bombing, and if ISIS has or has not been informed before hand about the strikes. I am not saying that everything is a theater. I am saying that the Americans might be simply controlling ISIS with their strikes. If the Americans really wanted to take ISIS out they should have been able to do so by now. In the 3rd paragraph of the following article of the Telegraph, titled “How our allies in Kuwait and Qatar funded Islamic State”, September 2014, you can read the following:

“Islamic State (Isil), with its newly conquered territory, oilfields and bank vaults, no longer needs much foreign money. But its extraordinarily swift rise to this point, a place where it threatens the entire region and the West, was substantially paid for by the allies of the West. Isil’s cash was raised in, or channelled through, Kuwait and Qatar, with the tacit approval and sometimes active support of their governments”.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/kuwait/11077537/How-our-allies-in-Kuwait-and-Qatar-funded-Islamic-State.html

At the following Reuters article, titled “Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki says Saudi, Qatar openly funding violence in Anbar”, March 2014, you can read about the Iraqi president accusing Saudi Arabia and Qatar for funding ISIS.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/09/us-iraq-saudi-qatar-idUSBREA2806S20140309

If you google “ISIS funding” you will find many sources arguing that it is the Persian Gulf States that are funding ISIS. Actually it is these states that have the economic incentive to destroy the Iranian zone of influence i.e. Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon, which is actually what ISIS is doing. When Saddam Hussein was ruling Iraq, Iraq and Iran were in very bad terms. After the US attack on Iraq on 2003, and the overthrown of Saddam Hussein, Iraq came increasingly under Iranian influence, with Nouri al Maliki, the Prime Minister of Iraq from 2006 to 2014, being a man very close to Iran.

However until now the Americans have been very tolerant towards ISIS. ISIS makes the Qatar-Turkey pipeline possible, and also until very recently the Americans considered Iran as an enemy. The Qatar-Pipeline can send Qatari natural gas to Europe, if the US-Iranian rapprochement does not work out, in order to reduce the Russian influence. Under different scenarios, ISIS, the Kurds, Turkey, Qatar, Iran, they could all help to reduce Russian influence, and maybe Chinese influence, and the Americans are not closing any doors. The problem is that there are so many conflicting interests in this region, that it is very difficult for the Americans to keep all doors open at the same time.

I believe this is the main reason of the American-Turkish conflict. The Americans want to have all doors open, while the Turks want the Americans to overthrow Assad and put all their bets on Turkey, something that both the Americans and the Europeans do not want. Moreover there is a lot of trade between the Turks and the Russians.

At the following Deutsche Welle article, “Russia and Turkey agree on South Stream pipeline project”, August 2009, you can also read that in 2009, Erdogan singed an agreement with the Russian President Putin, in order to allow the South Stream, a Russian natural gas pipeline, to pass from Turkish waters in order to reach Europe.

http://www.dw.de/russia-and-turkey-agree-on-south-stream-pipeline-project/a-4548193

The Russians wanted to avoid Ukrainian waters, since the Russian-Ukrainian relationship is very problematic. The Russian pipeline South Stream (red line), was in 2009 the competitor of the Nabucco pipeline. The Nabucco pipeline (black line) was the pipeline supported by the Americans and the Europeans. I guess that Turkey would receive transit fees and even discounted energy prices from both the Russians and the Americans for accepting their pipelines, or maybe that’s what the Turks were hoping for.

South Stream Nabucco

However the geopolitical shifts are very quick nowadays, and tomorrow the US-Turkish relations might improve, while the US-Iranian ones might collapse. If the American-Iranian rapprochement effort collapses, the Americans might have to turn against Assad again. But the West needs Iran’s energy, and Iran wants to sell this energy to the West, so it is difficult to see how in the end they will not manage to find a way to work things out.

And if the US-Iran relations do not deteriorate, it is difficult to see how the US-Turkey relations will improve, unless Turkey accepts that it will not be the one and only energy hub of the region. Many analysts say that this is not the first crisis between US and Turkey, and that the two countries can overcome it as they have done in the past.

I also want to include a few articles that describe the deteriorating relation between the Americans and the Turks. The following RT (Russian Today) article, titled “Turkey disappointed that Obama does not overturn Assad”, describes Erdogan’s frustration about the American refusal to overthrow Assad.

http://rt.com/usa/174700-erdogan-talk-obama-syria/

To emphasize the deterioration between the US-Turkish relations I will also mention the following Financial Times article, titled “Turkey to buy $4 billion air defense system from China”, September 2013. In the 6th and 7th paragraph of the article you can read the following:

“Western diplomats said they were surprised and disappointed by Ankara’s preference of the Chinese group…..and emphasised their worries that the system would not be interoperable with Nato’s defence architecture.”

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/326c5442-278c-11e3-8feb-00144feab7de.html

The following article of CBC says that Turkey, a prominent NATO member, was very silent during the crisis in Ukraine, and it mentions the large sums that are involved in the Russian-Turkish energy trade.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/ukraine-crisis-why-turkey-is-silent-as-nato-operations-ramp-up-1.2625991

In the 3rd paragraph of the following Guardian article, titled “Turkey denies new deal reached to open airbases to US in fight against Isis”, October 2014, you can read the following:

“On Sunday, the US said Turkey had agreed to let US and coalition forces use its military bases, including the key Incirlik airbase close to the southern city of Adana…But Turkish officials insisted that no decision had been taken on Incirlik”

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/13/turkey-denies-agreement-open-air-bases-us-isis

At the following CNN article, titled “Russia to build first nuclear plant for Turkey”, May 2010, you can read that Russia and Turkey agreed to build a nuclear plant in Turkey.

http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-444748

I must also say that the shift in the Obama policy towards Assad, which is a byproduct of the US-Iran rapprochement, is not harming only the US-Turkish relations. Qatar, who hosts the American bases in the Persian Gulf, has spent approximately 3 billion dollars hopping to overthrow the Assad regime.

In the first paragraph of the following Financial Times article, titled “Qatar bankrolls Syrian revolt with cash and arms”, May 2013, you can read the following:

“The gas-rich state of Qatar has spent as much as $3bn over the past two years supporting the rebellion in Syria, far exceeding any other government, but is now being nudged aside by Saudi Arabia as the prime source of arms to rebels”.

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/86e3f28e-be3a-11e2-bb35-00144feab7de.html

Therefore even though Qatar wants badly to overthrow Assad, their partner, the United States, will not do them the favor for the moment. However the trauma in the American-Qatari relations due to the American-Iranian rapprochement is nothing compare to the trauma of the American-Saudi relations. After all the Qataris are hopping to find a solutions with the Iranians, in order to jointly exploit the South Pars/ North Field natural gas filed, that lies in the Persian Gulf between Iran and Qatar. This is the largest natural gas field in the world, and you can see a rough sketch at the following map (red diagram).

South Pars North Field

As I said the problems between the Saudis and the Iranians is much more severe, because Iran is the main economic competitor of Saudi Arabia, a traditional US ally since 1945. The American-Iranian rapprochement is causing Saudi Arabia to look eastwards, towards its best client i.e. China. In the first paragraph of the following Reuters article, titled “Saudi Arabia warns of shift away from U.S. over Syria, Iran”, October 2013 you can read the following:

“Upset at President Barack Obama’s policies on Iran and Syria, members of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family are threatening a rift with the United States that could take the alliance between Washington and the kingdom to its lowest point in years”.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/22/us-saudi-usa-idUSBRE99L0K120131022

The US-Israel relations are another victim of the change of the American policy in the Middle East. The Israelis do not really mind whether Syria is under the influence of Iran or under the influence of Turkey and Qatar, since in both cases it would have to face a very hostile regime. However what really matters for the Israelis, is the rapprochement between USA and Iran, which is the true cause for the tolerance of the Assad regime on behalf of the USA.

The American-Israeli relations are at their lowest point in decades, and the Israelis are looking towards Russia. Russia has very good relations with Iran, but if Iran makes peace with the West and start selling its natural gas to Europe through Turkey, it would be tough competition for Russia’s Gazprom, and therefore the Russian-Iranian relations should deteriorate.

Therefore the tolerance towards the Assad regime is a byproduct of the American effort to reach an agreement with Iran. The fact that the Americans overlook the problems their rapprochement with Iran is causing in their relationships with their traditional allies in the region, shows how important Iran is for the US.


Kurdistan

The deterioration in the American-Turkish relations make the Americans and the Europeans to see very positively the establishment of an independent Kurdistan. Which are the exact borders of Kurdistan is an open question, but as you can see on the following Wikipedia map, the regions that historically have large Kurdish populations, expand from Iran to almost the Mediterranean Sea. However the Kurds are not the majority of the population in all these regions.

Kurdistan Map Wikipedial

Source: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurdistan#mediaviewer/File:Kurdish-inhabited_area_by_CIA_(1992).jpg

Kurdistan (2)

The Kurds are probably the West’s best friend in the Muslim world. Kurdistan lies in four countries, Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. None of these countries want an independent Kurdistan, which makes the Kurds a natural ally for the Western world. There are 30 million Kurds in the world, and they are the largest ethnic group without a homeland, which gives rational for an independent Kurdistan, which is something that seems to suit western interests.

An independent Kurdistan would not be as big as the one on the above maps of course, but it would greatly strengthen the presence of the West in the region, especially in case the relations between US and Turkey at some point collapse. Moreover Kurdistan is next to Iran, which would again be a great help for the West in case the rapprochement between Iran and the West does not bear fruits. Moreover the Kurds would be extremely happy to have American military bases in their territories.

In the first paragraph of the following Reuters article, titled “Turkey’s U.S. relations show strain as Washington’s patience wears thin”, October 2014, you can read the following:

“The U.S. decision to air-drop weapons to Kurdish forces in Syria on the same day Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan dismissed them as terrorists is the latest false note in the increasingly discordant mood music coming out of Washington and Ankara.”

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/23/us-mideast-crisis-turkey-idUSKCN0IC1Z520141023

Erdogan calls the Kurds terrorists, and the Americans drop weapons at them. At the following Wall Street Journal article, titled “Building the U.S.-Kurdistan Special Relationship”, July 2014, you can read the following:

2nd and 3rd Paragraph

“The time has come for America and the West to support Kurdish independence and, simultaneously, to set up U.S. bases in Iraqi Kurdistan that would make it America’s military hub in the region.

After all, this country-in-the-making has proved to be a haven of stability, relative security and pro-American, pro-Western sentiment ever since it broke free from Saddam’s misrule.”

And the article continues in the 12th and 13th paragraphs

“U.S. military planners can’t assume that our alliance with Turkey won’t decline further. Nor should they assume as given Turkey’s military cooperation with NATO for missions against adversaries in places like Syria and Iran.

And it would be even more foolish for American policy makers to assume that U.S. forces will always be able to use bases in Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain. All three countries are dictatorships vulnerable to upheaval. So far, adroit use of their fantastic wealth has protected these countries’ rulers against the resentments of their subjects, but this may not always be the case.”

http://online.wsj.com/articles/the-u-s-should-guarantee-kurdish-independence-1405020652

Finally the title of the following Guardian article says it all. The title of the article is “US and Turkey’s push and shove diplomacy has Kurds in the middle. Washington wants Erdogan to do more to back the Kurds in Kobane, while Ankara insists Assad should be removed first”.

The title says the whole story, because what Erdogan is really saying to the Americans is the following:

“I am willing to help the Kurds, I am willing to help you with ISIS, but Assad, which is the Iranian ally in Syria, must go first. Only if Syria is controlled by me (Erdogan), and Iran is totally dependent on me (Erdogan again), I can fight ISIS and help the Kurds”. Of course Erdogan does not say that openly, but that’s what he is thinking and everybody knows it. The problem is that the West does not like the way he is thinking, and it does not like that Turkey has become such an important player.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/oct/07/us-turkey-diplomacy-isis-kurds-kobani

In the following Financial times article, titled “Turkey demands US target Assad as price of co-operation”, October 2014, you can read that Erdogan demands Assad’s overturn in order to help the Americans with the Kurds.

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/a0da17d2-4d71-11e4-bf60-00144feab7de.html

A natural question is why would Erdogan help the Kurds at all, given that there are millions of Kurds in Turkey asking for an independent Kurdistan? Obviously Erdogan would not like to help the Kurds at all, but he simply can’t ignore them, especially when the West sees them favorably. But we should not see the Kurds as one solid group. The two main Kurdish political parties are Ocalan’s PKK in Northern Kurdistan (Turkey), and the Barzani’s KDP in Southern Kurdistan (Iraq).

These two groups are competing for influence and in the past they have actually been fighting each other. Erdogan is obviously favoring Barzani’s KDP in Northern Iraq, and not Ocalan’s PKK in Turkey. Actually to make things worse for the Kurds, Erdogan is helping the Iraqi Kurds of KDP to export oil from the oil fields they control in Northern Iraq. He does so in order to make it harder for Iraqi Kurds to unite with Turkish Kurds. In the first two paragraphs of the following France 24 article, titled “Kurdish factions unite in fight against jihadists in Iraq”, August 2014, you can read the following:

“Fighters from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a Kurdish guerilla faction in Turkey, joined forces with the regular Peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq to oust radical Sunni extremists from the town of Makhmour. FRANCE 24’s special correspondents in Iraq report that the battle of Makhmour marks the first time the PKK and KRG forces have fought side by side. Despite years of infighting, both factions want to prevent Islamist militants from gaining a foothold in Kurdish territories and redrawing the borders of the region”.

http://www.france24.com/en/20140813-video-kurdish-factions-unite-fight-against-isis-peshmerga-pkk-islamic-state/

In the first and second paragraphs of the following American Center of Democracy article, titled “Kurdistan Oil Export: A game changer”, June 2014, you can read the following:

“In late May 2014 Turkish officials announced that oil from Iraqi Kurdistan had just been exported to international markets……..The May 2014 announcement that a million barrels of Kurdish oil had been exported to Europe through Ceyhan seems to have caught everyone by surprise”.

http://acdemocracy.org/kurdistan-oil-export-a-game-changer/

In the first paragraph of the following article of the Kurdistan Tribune, titled “Ocalan v. Barzani: Two contradictory worlds”, May 2013, you can read the following:

“The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and its legendary leader, Abdulla Ocalan, pose a strong challenge to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and its leader, Masoud Barzani. The PKK is no longer a party just for northern Kurdistan: Today it also impacts significantly on the other parts of Kurdistan – something the KDP cannot tolerate”.

http://kurdistantribune.com/2013/ocalan-v-barzani-two-contradictory-worlds/

Therefore we should not see the Kurds as a solid group, because they have their differences and Erdogan is trying to make it harder for them to unite, by having Iraqi Kurds to depend on him for exporting their oil, through the Turkish port of Ceyhan in the Mediterranean Sea. If Iraqi Kurdistan was an independent country, it would be approximately the 10th richest region in the world in terms of oil reserves (not oil production). The red diagram in the following map is a very rough sketch of Kurdistan, and the export route for Kurdish oil in Northern Iraq.

However even though the Kurds are not as solid as a rock, it seems that the conditions for the establishment of an independent Kurdistan are very favorable since the Western countries see them very positively.

The Kurds have also Israel on their side. The Kurds are for Israel a natural ally, because the Kurds are not Arabs, they are not Persians, they are not Turks, and they are moderate Muslims. Ocalan’s PKK is a Marxist Leninist party, and religion should not be important at all.

Moreover the Kurds can take lands, and therefore weaken, four of Israel’s greatest enemies i.e. Iran, Syria, Turkey, Iraq. That’s the reason Israel is openly asking for an independent Kurdistan. For the Kurds too, even though they are Muslims in a Muslim region, Israel should be a natural ally, since the countries that surround them do not see an independent Kurdistan positively. And if in the past, the excellent relations between Israel and Turkey prevented Israel to openly support an independent Kurdistan, now there is nothing to stop them.

At the following two articles, one from the Guardian, titled “Israel’s prime minister backs Kurdish independence”, June 2014, and one from Reuters, titled “Israel’s Netanyahu calls for supporting Kurdish independence”, June 2014, you can read that the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu openly asks for Kurdish independence and Kurdish statehood.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/29/israel-prime-minister-kurdish-independence

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/29/us-iraq-security-kurds-israel-idUSKBN0F40R520140629

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The First World War for Oil 1914-1918: Similarities with the 2014 Oil Wars 100 Years Later

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Iakovos Alhadeff

Introduction

With this essay I want to provide a summary of why oil was the main cause of the First World War (1914-1918), which could be also called the First World War for oil, and also compare this oil war with the oil wars of 2014 one hundred years later. The main alliances of WW1 were England, France and Russia on one side, known as the ‘allies’, and Germany, Austro-Hungary and Italy on the other side, known as the “central powers”. See the following, very rough, map.

Picture 1 Alliances

The British and German Empires

At the beginning of the 20th century (1900) England was what the U.S.A. is today. England was an empire extending from Canada and East Africa, to India and Australia, covering most of the globe as you can see on the following rough map (green colour).

Picture 2 British Empire

However after her victory against France in 1871, Germany established itself as one of the great powers, and with its rampant industry she became England’s main competitor. In a sense Germany was for England what China is for the U.S.A. today. The most important problem in the Anglo-German relations was Germany’s wish to extend her influence to the Persian Gulf through the Ottoman Empire.

Picture 3 Middle East

Even though the shaky Ottoman Empire had lost most of her lands, she was still extending to the Persian Gulf through what today are Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia (parts of the green area on the above map). The alliance between the German Empire, the Empire of Austro-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire, was a great threat for the English interests.

Picture 4 Threat to England

As you can see from my rough (red) diagram, the alliance between Germany, Austro-Hungary, Bulgaria and Ottoman Empire, would form a solid block extending from Germany to the Persian Gulf, since Syria and Iraq were Ottoman territories. A large part of the Balkans was also part of the Ottoman Empire at the time, and it was possible for the German Empire to connect to the Ottoman Empire and the Persian Gulf through Austro-Hungary, as you can see on the following 1912 map of the Balkans.

The Balkans in 1912

Picture 5 AustroHungary Borders Turkey

The above situation was a threat for the control of the Persian Gulf, which is the richest region in the world in terms of oil reserves, it was a threat for the control of the Caspian Region, which is the second richest region in the world in terms of oil reserves, and which was controlled by the Russians, it was a threat for India, which was England’s most important colony, and it would also bring the Germans very close to the Suez Canal and Egypt as you can see on the following map.

Picture 6 Middle East

The Suez Canal and Egypt were under British Control, and were crucial for the control of India in South Asia, since the Suez Canal was cutting almost in half the distance between England and India. The Suez Canal (black circle) was inaugurated a few decades earlier (1869).

Picture 7 Suez India

The Triple Alliance Between England, France and Russia

Facing the rising German influence in the Middle East, the English tried and managed to close their long and significant disputes with the French and the Russians, in order to form an alliance against the Germans and their allies. The major disputes between the French and the English concerned their colonies in Africa (see the following map).

Picture 8 Colonies

At the beginning of WW1, France was controlling almost all of West Africa (yellow colour), and England was controlling almost all of East Africa (red colour), and therefore Africa was a source of disputes between the English and the French.

However when confronted with the German ‘threat’, the French and the English rushed to close their disputes with a series of agreements known as ‘Entente Cordial’. As you can read at the following Wikipedia link, with Entente Cordial in 1904, England and France closed 1000 years of disputes and wars.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entente_cordiale

Among other things, with this agreement England accepted France’s control over Morocco, which was crucial for controlling the Straits of Gibraltar, and France accepted England’s control over Egypt, which was crucial for controlling the Suez Canal (see lines 1 and 2 on the following map).

Picture 9 Earth 3D

Moreover, with their alliance with the English and the Russians, the French were hoping to take their revenge for their defeat from the Germans in 1871, and regain control of the rich in iron and coal area of Alsace and Lorraine, which was lost during this war. Coal was in the 19th Century what oil became in the 20th Century, and even the navies were using coal, until coal was finally replaced by oil in the early 20th Century (1900). Indeed after the defeat of the Germans in 1918, the French regained control of Alsace and Lorraine.

Picture 10 Alsace Lorraine

Moreover, with the Sykes-Picot Agreement, the English promised that in case of victory they would offer the French some of the Ottoman Empire territories. According to this agreement, England would take the oil rich Iraq, and France would take Syria. Actually there was no Iraq and Syria at the time. The Ottoman territory that would be taken by the English with this agreement was later given the name ‘Iraq’, and the Ottoman territory that would be taken by the French with the same agreement was later given the name ‘Syria’.

This is the reason that the members of the ISIS army (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) are saying that they are destroying the Sykes-Picot Agreement by reuniting Syria and Iraq. You can see the Sykes-Picot Agreement on the following rough map.

Picture 11Sykes Picot Agreement

You can also read about the Sykes-Picot Agreement at the following Wikipedia link.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sykes%E2%80%93Picot_Agreement

Moreover with the Anglo-Russian Entente in 1907, the English and the Russians closed their centuries’ long disputes for the control of Central Asia and the Middle East (Iran, Afghanistan and Tibet). You can read at the following Wikipedia link, that in 1907, the English and the Russians agreed to split Iran, Afghanistan and Tibet in spheres of influence.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Russian_Entente

The agreement between the English and the Russians allowed them to stop antagonizing each other and turn their attention to the Germans and the Ottomans who were a threat for the control of the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea.

However from their alliance with the French and the English, the Russians did not simply expect to protect the oil rich Caspian Sea region from the German and Ottoman threat, but were also hoping to gain control of Constantinople, the Bosphorus Straits and the Dardanelles, which were controlled by the Ottomans, and which would give the Russians uninterrupted access to the Aegean and the Mediterranean Seas (see maps below).

Constantinople

Black Sea Dardanelles

At the following Wikipedia link you can read that with the Constantinople Agreement, the English, the French and the Russians, agreed that in case of victory, Russia would take control of Constantinople, the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constantinople_Agreement

However even though the allies did finally win the war, Russia did not get Constantinople (today Istanbul), because Russia collapsed in 1917 and exited the war, since she entered a painful civil war between the tsarists and the Communists.

 By agreeing with the Russians to split Iran into spheres of influence, the English would gain control of the Persian Gulf while the Russians would retain the undisputed control of the Caspian Sea, and together they could fight the Germans and the Ottomans. You can see on the following map that Iran is the region between the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea, holding itself a very large amount of oil and natural gas reserves. Iran is the second and fourth richest country in the world in terms of natural gas and oil reserves respectively.

Iran Brown

However at the time most of the region’s oil was coming from Iraq and Baku, since oil in Iran was only discovered in 1908.

The Anglo-Franco and the Anglo-Russian alliances, together with the Franco-Russian alliance, encircled Germany and her allies (see following rough map).

Picture 1 Alliances

The Role of the Balkan Countries in WWI

One of the reasons there was so much tension in the Balkans before the outbreak of World War 1, was that the Balkans was the connection between Germany and her allies with the Ottoman Empire and the Persian Gulf. The following map shows the Balkans before the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913.

The Balkans Before the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913

Picture 5 AustroHungary Borders Turkey

It can be seen on the above map, that with the status quo that existed before the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913, Germany would have no problem to connect to the Persian Gulf by railway, using the Austro-Hungary-Ottoman Empire corridor.

However with the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913, Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and Albania, managed to annex almost all the European territories of the Ottoman Empire. Greece, Serbia and Romania, all of which were on the side of the allies during the First World War, formed a wall between Germany and the Ottoman Empire as you can see on the following map, (Bulgaria finally entered the war on Germany’s side in WWI).

The Balkans after the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913

New Borders Balkans

The German plan was to construct the famous Baghdad Railway, that would connect Berlin to the Persian Gulf (see later sections), and Greece, Serbia and Romania were forming a wall against the Baghdad Railway Project. It is not a coincidence that World War I broke out on the 28th of July 1914, with the Austro-Hungary declaring war to Serbia, with all other countries running behind these two countries. The following map shows the Balkans today.

Balkans today

It can also not be a coincidence that the Balkan Wars took place in 1912 and 1913, and the First World War broke out in 1914. When I am saying that the Balkan Wars were not a coincidence, I do not mean that Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria attacked the Ottoman Empire because they wanted to prevent Germany from connecting to the Persian Gulf. These countries did want the Ottoman territories, and they were supported by England, Russia and France, in order to prevent the German-Ottoman connection. The Ottoman territories were simply their rewards.

As you can read in section ‘Reaction Among the Great Powers During the Wars’ of the following Wikipedia link, Germany was already heavily involved in the internal politics of the Ottoman Empire, and officially opposed the attack on the Ottoman Empire, but because it was obvious that the shaky Ottoman Empire could not protect for long her European territories from Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia, Germany was supporting Bulgaria from the opposite camp, which was called the ‘Balkan League’’. And in the end, Bulgaria did indeed join Germany’s camp in WW1.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balkan_Wars#Reactions_among_the_Great_Powers_during_the_wars

In the same Wikipedia link, you can also read that Russia was the primary mover of the Balkan League countries i.e. Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria against the Ottoman Empire. This seems very natural, since Russia not only wanted to prevent Germany from obtaining access to the Caspian Sea, but she was also a traditional enemy of the Ottoman Empire and wanted to gain control of Constantinople, Bosphorus and the Dardanells, which would allow the Russian Navy to access the Mediterranean Sea, as I already said.

Black Sea Dardanelles

You can also read in the same Wikipedia link that Austria-Hungary was totally opposed to the advancement of the Balkan countries, Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria, in the region. France, a Russian ally, informed Russia that she was not ready for a war. England, even though a supporter of the Ottoman Empire, encouraged the advancement of the Balkan countries. That’s what Wikipedia says about the reactions of the Great Powers during the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913.

We therefore see that Germany and Russia were supporting the sides we would expect them to support in the Balkan Wars. However things were a bit more complicated for England. Because on one hand England was facing the threat of German expansion to the Persian Gulf and India, and on the other hand she was facing the threat of Russian expansion through the Straits of Bosphorus and the Dardanelles to the Mediterranean Sea, which could pose a threat for the sea corridor between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean i.e. the Suez Canal and the Red Sea

Red Sea

Red Sea 2

The following map depicts the situation for the English. The purple arrows represent the German threat to the Persian Gulf and India, and the red arrows represent the Russian threat to the Suez Canal.

The German threat for the English (purple lines), and the Russian threat for the English (red lines)

Germans Russians OttomansJPG

England perceived the collapsing Ottoman Empire as less dangerous than the Russian Navy for the control of the Suez Canal and Egypt. However in the end, under the German threat for the Persian Gulf and India, England accepted Russian control over the straits of Bosphorous and the Dardanelles in case of victory. With the Constantinople Agreement as I already said, France, England and Russia agreed on the control of Constantinople and the Straits by Russia.

Another factor that helped England and Russia to reach an agreement was that around 1880, England had taken control of Cyprus, Egypt and the Suez Canal, and was feeling more confident that it could prevent the Russians from taking control of the Suez Canal.

Before I close the section on the Balkans, I must mention that the ‘wall’ formed by Greece and Serbia in 1914 against Germany and the Baghdad Railway, which prevented the Germans from connecting by railway to the Ottoman Empire and the Persian Gulf, was still there 80 years later. Greece and Serbia, two traditional Russian allies, were forming a wall in the 90’s against the Americans and the Europeans, who wanted to bring oil and natural gas from Azerbaijan to the Adriatic Sea and Italy through the AMBO pipeline.

The Greek-Serbian wall was broken first by the creation of the state of FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) in 1991, and by the NATO war on Serbia and the autonomy of Kosovo in South Serbia on 1998 (see following map). You can read more about the NATO attack on Serbia and the AMBO pipeline in my essay ‘The NATO attack in Yugoslavia – Another Energy War’.

Serbia War

Arab Nationalism

While in the Balkans the Russians were helping the Greeks, the Serbs and the Bulgarians to attack the Ottoman Empire and annex her territories, in order to prevent the Germans from connecting to the Ottoman Empire through the Baghdad railway, and in order to gain control of Constantinople, the English were organizing an Arab revolt against the Ottomans.

The English were organizing the Arabs at the Southern parts of the Ottoman Empire, the regions that today are Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Syria, in order to push the Ottomans away from the Persian Gulf. Therefore we see that the allies were helping the local populations both at the Balkans and in the Arab world, in order to turn them against the Ottomans and prevent Germany to connect to the Persian Gulf through the Baghdad railway. For the Arab revolt, 1916-1918, see the following Wikipedia link.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Revolt

Therefore by supporting Balkan Nationalism, the allies managed to block the connection between the German and Ottoman Empires (black line), and at the same time, by supporting Arab nationalism in Syria and Iraq, they managed to block the connection between the Ottoman Empire and the Persian gulf (red line).

Blocks to Germany

The Oil Factor in the First World War

From all the above it can be said that the main cause of World War I was the Germans’ wish to use the Ottoman corridor in order to expand to the Middle East, which threatened the British interests in the Middle East and India. The importance of oil can be also seen from the fact that the English, the French and the Russians that had centuries’ long disputes, managed to put these disputes aside, in order to form an alliance against the rise of Germany.

It is of course no coincidence that just before the outbreak of the First World War, oil engines had started replacing coal engines, dramatically increasing the geopolitical importance of the oil rich regions. Note that both England and Germany were very rich in coal but very poor in oil. At the following Wikipedia link, at section ‘Lord of the Admiralty’, you can read that in 1911 Winston Churchill, as the head of the British Navy, ordered the replacement of the coal engines with oil engines, something that would soon become the norm for all navies and armies, making the 20th Century the century of oil. The use of oil would ensure greater speed for the British Naval ships. Moreover smoke would stop exposing their position.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winston_Churchill#First_Lord_of_the_Admiralty

 The Baghdad Railway

Since the Baghdad Railway was a very important German project for the connection of Germany with the Persian Gulf (see red line on the following map) I must say a few words about it.

Berlin BasraJPG

Berlin Baghdad

Note! Even thought the Baghdad Railway would follow the route of what today is Germany- Czech Rep-Austria-Hungary-Serbia-Bulgaria-Turkey-Syria-Iraq, and would pass from Baghdad and Basra, my red lines on the maps are rough and not exact lines.

For some people the Baghdad Railway was the real cause of the First World War, since it is this very railway that would connect Germany to the Persian Gulf, also bringing Germany close to India. I think it seems more appropriate to consider Germany’s wish to expand to the Persian Gulf as the cause of the war, than to consider the Baghdad Railway as the cause of the war.

What was important was the decision of the Germans to expand to the Persian Gulf, not the actual way they would do so. Whether this connection would be achieved by the Baghdad Railway or some other means, it seems to be of secondary importance. However nobody can deny that the Baghdad Railway was very important, and therefore I will provide some Wikipedia sources to demonstrate that this is so.

You can read at the following Wikipedia link that the construction of the Baghdad Railway started in 1903 and was completed in 1940, and its aim was to connect the German Empire to the Persian Gulf, because the Germans wanted to acquire control of a port in the Persian Gulf. Please note that the project started in 1903, and the English and the French closed their differences with the Entente Cordiale in 1904, and the English and the Russians closed their differences in 1907.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baghdad_Railway

At the end of the 3rd paragraph of the following Wikipedia link, you can read that the Germans had managed to obtain ownership of some oil fields in Iraq, and with a railway to Basra they could obtain oil supplies while avoiding the sea lanes and the Suez Canal, where the British Navy was dominant. At the same time, they could use the Persian Gulf to export their products to Asian countries.

Therefore this railway would have two roles. The first one would be to supply the German industry and the German army with oil, and the second to transport the German products to the Persian Gulf, and from the Persian Gulf to export them to the Asian countries, India included.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baghdad_Railway

More specifically, according to Wikipedia:

The Germans gained access to and ownership of oil fields in Iraq, and with a line to the port of Basra would have gained better access to the eastern parts of the German colonial empire, by avoiding the Suez Canal”.

 In the beginning of the 4th paragraph of the following link, you can read that the Baghdad Railway had become a source of tension in the years before WW1.

 “The railway became a source of international disputes during the years immediately preceding World War”. 

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baghdad_Railway

 In the first paragraph of the following Wikipedia link, in section ‘Overview’, you can read that the Baghdad Railway would offer the German Empire safe access to oil by avoiding the British Navy.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baghdad_Railway#Overview

At the second paragraph of the same Wikipedia link, you can read that the Baghdad Railway was also a threat to Russia, since it would offer the German Empire access to the Caucasus Mountain. Caucasus is located next to the oil rich Caspian Sea region, which was controlled by the Russians.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baghdad_Railway#Overview

Cacausus

Moreover in the beginning of the 4th paragraph of the following Wikipedia link, it is mentioned that as early as 1871, geologists had already discovered rich and high quality oil fields in the area of Mesopotamia (Iraq), which was at the time part of the Ottoman Empire.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baghdad_Railway#Overview

At the paragraph before the last one in the following Wikipedia link, you can read that as early as 1903 there was unrest in France, England and Russia for the beginning of the Baghdad Railway.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baghdad_Railway#The_Baghdad_Concession

In the first line of section ‘After the War’ of the following Wikipedia link, you can read that after the end of WW1, with the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was stripped from the ownership of the Baghdad Railway (Deutsche Bank was a larger investor in this project).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baghdad_Railway#After_the_war

In the last line of the 3rd paragraph of the following Wikipedia link, you can read that there were negotiations between the English and the Germans before WW1 regarding the Baghdad Railway, and the Germans had agreed to allow some Englishmen in the board of directors, in order to ensure that the railway would not rich the Persian Gulf.

This is actually the reason that some people believe that this railway was not the cause of WW1, since the Germans and the English had an agreement about it. However I do not think that a paper agreement would make the English and the Russians feel very secure.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_World_War_I#International_relations

And like if all these disputes for the Iraqi and the Baku oil were not enough, in 1908 oil was discovered in Iran too, as you can read in the following Wikipedia link, further increasing the geopolitical importance of the region.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Persian_Oil_Company

If you wonder why Saudi Arabia, which is the king of oil, is not mentioned at all in my essay, it is because the first important oil field of Saudi Arabia was discovered in 1938. As you can see on the following map, at the beginning of WW1 the interior of the Arabian Peninsula (Saudi Arabia) was not controlled by any great power since oil had not been discovered yet. The Ottomans and the English were only controlling its outer parts which were important for controlling the sea lanes.

Picture 6 Middle East

As you can read in section ‘Before the discovery of oil’ of the following Wikipedia link, the consensus at the beginning of the 20th Century (1900), was that there was not oil in the Arabian Peninsula.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_oil_industry_in_Saudi_Arabia

As you can read in section ‘Discovery of Oil’ of the following Wikipedia link, oil was finally discovered in Saudi Arabia in 1938.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_oil_industry_in_Saudi_Arabia

The Second World War for Oil 1939-1945

The Second World War for oil cannot be considered as an independent event from the First World War for oil. After wining the war, the allies imposed extremely hard conditions on Germany. The German people suffered, and this led a lunatic to power, and as soon as Germany was strong enough she stroke back. According to historians, the decisive battle of WWII was the Battle of Stalingrad (blue circle). Stalingrad was later renamed to Volgograd.

Stalingrad

As you can see on the map, if Hitler had won in Stalingrad, he would have marched to Baku, and he would have secured oil reserves for his army. Today we can easily go to a gas station and get fuels, so it is difficult to imagine that an army can actually run out of fuel. And yet it was very often the case for whole army divisions to run out of fuels in the Great Wars. And it was the allies that were controlling both the Caspian and the Middle East oil.

If Hitler had taken control of Baku, he would have oil supplies to launch a Panzer attack to the Middle East. And if he had won the English in the Middle East, the war in Europe and North Africa would be over. This is the reason that the battle of Stalingrad is considered as one of the most decisive battles of WWII.

It seems strange that Hitler turned against Stalin and the Soviet Union, his former ally in 1941, since until then it was the Communists who were supplying the Germans with the oil and minerals they badly needed. As you can read in section “Later Events and Total Trade”, of the following Wikipedia link, the Communists supplied the Nazis with 900.000 tons of oil in the period 1940-1941, that is before the Nazi attack on Russia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German%E2%80%93Soviet_Credit_Agreement_(1939)

At the end of the first paragraph of the same Wikipedia link, you can read the following:

“The Soviets fulfilled their obligations to the letter right up until the invasion, wanting to avoid provoking Germany. All these agreements were terminated when Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, in violation of the treaties between the two countries.”

However the oil that the Communists were supplying was not enough for Hitler who was fighting a global war, and he needed total control of the Baku oil. The Nazis were not crazy to terminate the Nazi-Communist alliance which would mean a giant enemy on their east. They simply needed more oil than the Communists were supplying.

In the second paragraph of the following encyclopedia.com link, you can read that according to the Nazi-Communist Economic Agreement that was signed on the 20th of August of 1939 by Karl Schnurre and  Yevgeny Babarin, the Communists would supply the Nazis with raw materials i.e. oil, wood, manganese etc, and the Nazis would supply the Communists with manufactured goods.

http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3404101270.html

You can read about how the Communists were feeding the Nazi war machine at the Marxist site www.marxist.org, at the following link.

http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/writers/vance/1941/01/russia1.htm

In the 5th paragraph of the following article of The Guardian, you can read the following:

The pact eventually extended to the economic sphere, with Germany providing military equipment in exchange for raw materials such as oil, grain, iron and phosphates”.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/aug/06/devils-alliance-hitlers-pact-stalin-1938-1941-roger-moorhouse-review

For the importance of the Nazi Communist Economic Agreement, you can also read the article of the historian Heinrich Schwendemann, “German-Soviet Economic Relations at the Time of the Hitler-Stalin Pact 1939-1941”, at the following address:

http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/cmr_1252-6576_1995_num_36_1_2425

Similarities of WWI with the Oil Wars of 2014

Today, 100 years after the First World War for oil in 1914, we see the oil and natural gas wars in Syria and Iraq, in Ukraine and in Libya, and we can assume that nothing has changed. The wars in Libya, Ukraine, Iraq and Syria, are the first flames of the Third World War for oil, and of course everybody hopes that these first flames will not become a big fire like it happened in the previous World Wars for oil. However since the current wars take place in three continents, i.e. Ukraine in Europe, Iraq and Syria in Asia, and Libya in Africa, we can assume that we are already in a mini World War for oil.

The situation in the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea is very similar to the situation in these regions in 1914. The difference is that the Americans have replaced the English, and the Chinese have replaced the Germans. In WW1 it was the British Navy that was dominating the seas, and it was Germany that was trying to exploit its geographical advantage in order to avoid the British Navy and connect to the oil rich region through the Ottoman Empire and the Baghdad Railway, since Germany was much closer than England to the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea (black line).

China GermanyJPG

Today, instead of Germany, it is China that is trying to exploit its geographical advantage in order to circumvent the American Navy and connect to the Persian Gulf, except that due to technological advancements the Chinese are not using railways but oil and natural gas pipelines.

The Chinese have already connected to the Caspian Sea by a pipeline network that connects China to the rich in oil Kazakhstan and the rich in natural gas Turkmenistan (red lines), and they are trying to construct a pipeline network that will connect China to Iran and the Persian Gulf. The war in Afghanistan is definitely relevant to the Chinese effort to connect to Iran and the Persian Gulf, since Afghanistan is very poor in oil and natural gas. What makes Afghanistan important is its position between Iran and China (see my essays ‘The 21st Century War for Iran’s Oil’ and ‘Why the U.S.A. Invaded Afghanistan’ for more information on the connection between China and Iran).

The other similarity between the First World War for oil in 1914 and the 2014 oil wars is the Baghdad Railway and the Qatar-Turkey Pipeline. In 1914 Germany wanted to construct the Baghdad Railway in order to connect to the Persian Gulf and obtain oil, but Greece and Serbia were blocking her. Or to be more accurate nobody was blocking her, since the European territories of the Ottoman Empire bordered Austro-Hungary, but with the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913, the English and the Russians helped Greece and Serbia to absorb the European territories of the Ottoman Empire in order to block the Baghdad Railway that would connect Germany to the Ottoman Empire and the Persian Gulf (black line).

Baghdad Railway Qatar TurkeyJPG

In 2014, actually earlier since the war in Syria started in 2011, Qatar and Turkey wanted to construct a Sunni natural gas pipeline that would transport Qatari natural gas to Europe through Turkey (red line), but  the Shiite Iraq and Syria were blocking this pipeline, and as a result the wars in Iraq and Syria broke out. The wars in Iraq and Syria also broke out to prevent the Shiite pipeline (green line), which would transport Iranian oil and natural gas to the Mediterranean Sea through Iraq and Syria (see my essay ‘The Energy War Between U.S.A. and Russia).

We therefore see that everything is almost the same. Serbia and Greece were blocking the Baghdad Railway in 1914, and Austro-Hungary declared war on Serbia in 1914, while in 2011 the Shiite Iraq and Syria were blocking the Qatar-Turkey pipeline and were promoting the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline, and the wars in Syria and Iraq broke out. Therefore the wars that broke out in Syria and Iraq in 2011, have a lot of resemblance to the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913.

The story is the same for Russia too. Russia has always been invading and controlling the countries around the Caspian Sea. This region was under Russian occupation during the Russian Empire era i.e. during the tsarist Russia, and nothing changed during the Communist era.

Former Soviet Union Map

Soviet Union

The Russian Communists kept the Caspian countries under Russian control until the fall of the Soviet Union, as you can see on the above map of the former Soviet Union. Actually the Caspian Region i.e. Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan is comprised of 90% Muslim populations, which are much more similar to the Turks rather than the Russians who are Christians.

However Russia has always been the strongest country, she has been on the winning side in both World Wars, and therefore the oil rich Caspian region has always been under her control. The Communists, exactly like the tsarists, did not grant these countries independence because of the oil riches of these countries, which were very important for Russia’s energy security.

At the following Wikipedia link you can read how Russian Communists invaded Azerbaijan in 1920.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Army_invasion_of_Azerbaijan

At the following Wikipedia link you can read how Russian Communists invaded Georgia in 1921.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Army_invasion_of_Georgia

In section ‘Kazakhstan under Soviet Rule’ of the following Wikipedia link, you can read the following:

During the 1930s, many renowned Kazakh writers, thinkers, poets, politicians and historians were killed on Stalin’s orders, both as part of the repression and as a methodical pattern of suppressing Kazakh identity and culture”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kazakhstan#Kazakhstan_under_Soviet_rule

At the following Economist’s article about Central Asia titled ‘Stalin’s Harvest’, you can read the following:

After the October revolution of 1917, new autonomous republics were created. In 1924 Stalin divided the region into different Soviet republics. The borders were drawn up rather arbitrarily without following strict ethnic lines or even the guidelines of geography.

The main aim was to counter the growing popularity of pan-Turkism in the region, and to avoid potential friction. Hence, the fertile Fergana Valley (formerly ruled by the Khanate of Kokand) was divided between Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Some of these borders were redrawn several times until 1936. After 1991, this led to lively demarcation disputes among the newly independent countries”.

http://www.economist.com/node/16377083

In the First World War for oil, the Russian tsar was trying to prevent the Germans from approaching Baku. In the Second World War for oil, the Russian Communists were again trying to prevent Hitler from getting the Baku oil. Note that the very rich oil reserves of Kazakhstan were discovered much later than the ones in Baku.

Today, in the Third World War for oil, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Putin is trying to keep a firm hand on the Caspian countries, in order for Russia to have monopolistic power in the European natural gas markets (see my essay ‘The Energy War Between U.S.A. and Russia’).  Actually the war between Russia and Georgia and the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan were Russia’s revenge for the cooperation of Azerbaijan and Georgia with the Americans on the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. To retaliate, the Americans supported the Chechens, and the Russian Chechen war broke out (see my essay ‘The Three Wars for the Baku-Ceyhan Pipeline’.

As you can read in the second half of following article of the Guardian, Vladimir Putin threatened the Kazakhstan sovereignty after the Kazakh President and dictator, Nursultan Nazabayev, threatened to quite the Eurasian Economic Union.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/01/kazakhstan-russian-neighbour-putin-chilly-nationalist-rhetoric

Here there is one more article on Putin’s pressure on Kazakhstan.

http://www.eurasianet.org/node/69771

In the First World War for oil in 1914, Russia was on the side of the country that had the advantage in the seas i.e. Great Britain. In the Second World War for oil in 1939, the Russians were initially on the German side, that is on the side of the country that had the geographical advantage, with the famous Nazi-Communist alliance which came into effect with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939, according to which the Nazis and the Communists were splitting Eastern Europe into zones of influence. For the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact see the following Wikipedia link.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molotov%E2%80%93Ribbentrop_Pact

For the Nazi-Communist alliance you can also read the following link of Encyclopaedia Britannica. In the third paragraph you can read the following:

To this public pact of nonaggression was appended a secret protocol, also reached on August 23, 1939, which divided the whole of eastern Europe into German and Soviet spheres of influence”.

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/230972/German-Soviet-Nonaggression-Pact

In the first paragraph of the same Britannica link, you can also read the following:

The Western democracies’ hesitance in opposing Adolf Hitler, along with Stalin’s own inexplicable personal preference for the Nazis, also played a part in Stalin’s final choice”.

Therefore one should not be misled to think that the Russian Tsars or the Russian Communists were better than the Americans or the British. They were simply located next to the richest region in oil and natural gas reserves in the world. And Russia has many more oil and natural gas reserves than the Caspian ones. Russia is the richest country in the world in terms of natural gas reserves, and one of the richest countries in the world in terms of oil reserves. Please note that the countries with the richest reserves are not necessarily the ones with the largest production, since production also depends on technology and other factors.

Today, in what I call the beginning of the Third World War for oil, Russia is closely working with China, that is with the country that has the geographical advantage, and not with U.S.A. which is the country that dominates the seas.

The Famous Phrase ‘History is Repeating Itself’

When examining the First World War for Oil, and comparing it with the oil wars of 2014, one tends to think about the very famous phrase which says that history is repeating itself. We have heard this phrase so many times that it is very difficult to examine the oil wars without thinking about it.

However this is a very silly phrase which is used all the time by the so called intellectuals. In reality it is not history that is repeating itself, but rather the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea remaining the richest regions in the world in terms of oil and natural gas reserves. From the beginning of the 20th Century, when oil replaced coal, the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea became the heart of the world economy.

On the following map it can be seen how small this region is in comparison to the whole world. When it is taken into account that this region holds between 50-65 per cent of the world’s oil and natural gas reserves, it is no surprise that people have been, and will keep killing each other around it.

persian caspian

World Map

This will not change, unless huge amounts of oil and natural gas reserves are found somewhere else, or until oil and natural gas are replaced by some other form of energy. Therefore the phrase “history keeps repeating itself” must be replaced by the phrase “the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea remain constant”.

The reason witticisms of the “history repeating itself” kind are always popular, is because intellectuals do not want to explain to us what is really happening. And one wonders why this is so, why is it that intellectuals never help us think?

Murray Rothbard used to say that it is the responsibility of the intellectuals to convince us that we need all these bureaucrats. I think he is right. The responsibility of the intellectual is not to help us think, but rather to convince us that we need the bureaucrats, because as Murray Rothbard used to say, intellectuals have a special relationship with the state, and most of the time they are directly financed by the state. Therefore their job is to convince us that we cannot live without their employer, and they are very good at it.

It is therefore very natural that intellectuals do not help us think, because that’s not at all their job. Nowadays everybody seems to wonder where were the intellectuals before the economic crisis? How could the intellectuals let us fall into this crisis? However this is again a very silly question. This crisis occurred exactly because the intellectuals did their job very well, and they convinced us that we needed their employers i.e. all these bureaucrats. This is how this crisis came about as I explain in my essay ‘The Socialist Myth of Economic Bubbles’.

Ayn Rand used to say it should not be expected from intellectuals to be ideologically independent since they are financially dependent on the state and the bureaucrats. However the internet is changing all that. With the internet we, the intellectual off springs of Murray Rothbard and Ayn Rand, can attack the intellectuals. And they know that they do not have the arsenal to confront us, that’s why you already hear socialist countries planning to build their own internet networks. Russia and Latin America want to build their own internet networks, and China does not allow its citizens to use the internet.

Most socialists and intellectuals support such decisions. The reason is not that they are afraid of espionage as they say. The reason is that they know that they cannot confront us in the age of the internet. It is like a race. We have to finish them off before they have the time to unplug us. And we have to do it not only because it is in our interest to do so, but also because it is extremely fun.

The problem is that the first flames of the Third World War for oil are already here, and war is always the best excuse for statists and socialists to take total control of a country. It is the best excuse for the state to take over everything. It was with the First World War that American statists destroyed the American liberal economic model of the previous centuries and introduced the socialist ideals.

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Ayn Rand on Oil Monopoly

Iakovos Alhadeff 

Journalist: You do not believe in government intervention. You believe in the free market. Do you therefore believe that the oil rich countries, which have monopoly power in the oil market, should be able to sell their oil to us at any price they wish?

Ayn Rand: Not at all. I believe exactly the opposite. These countries have monopoly power because we allowed them to steal oil that belonged to American companies, we allowed them to steal our oil. That’s how they obtained monopoly power.

Journalist: What do you mean by ‘our oil’? We do not own Saudi Arabia or Iran.

Ayn Rand: Of course it was our oil. American companies owned the oil facilities by contracts. These countries broke these contracts by literally killing us, and nationalized what was the property of American companies. That’s how they obtained monopoly power.

The oil was there for centuries and they were not able to do anything with it. They asked for our help, they signed contracts, and then they attacked us and stole our property.

Journalist: Do you suggest that we should have used force to prevent them from nationalizing the oil facilities?

Ayn Rand: Of course we should have. They were not even capable of running our facilities and they had to hire Americans to do so. They were primitive societies that could have not done anything with their oil without our help.

Note! I lightly changed the conversation to make it a bit shorter, but I did not change at all the Ayn Rand spirit. You can see the full interview at the following link.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rydsea_Y8xI

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The Israel-Egypt-Jordan Natural Gas Agreement and the July 2014 War in Gaza

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https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/476001

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https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/iakovos-alhadeff/id840901147?mt=11

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Iakovos Alhadeff

The following Financial Times article of 21st Mai 2014, reported that Israel was very close to signing agreements with Egypt and Jordan for exporting Israeli natural gas to these countries, from Leviathan, Israel’s largest natural gas field.

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/02ea38aa-e0e2-11e3-a934-00144feabdc0.html?siteedition=intl

(you can click on the picture to enlarge it)

Israel Egypt Jordan PA

At the following article of Haaretz, which is as you can see at the following Wikipedia link, Israel’s oldest newspaper, and its English version is published with the New York Times,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haaretz

it was reported on 30 June 2014 that Israel did finally sign an agreement to export to Egypt 30 billion dollars of natural gas in the next 15 years. That is 2 billion dollars of natural gas each year, and it amounts to 20% of Leviathan’s capacity.

http://www.haaretz.com/business/.premium-1.601980

At the following article of the Times of Israel, an electronic newspaper that is published in 3 languages, it was reported on 3 September 2014, that Israel did finally sign an agreement to export to Jordan 15 billion dollars of natural gas in the next 15 years.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-signs-15-billion-gas-deal-with-jordan/

What happened in the time between the Financial Times article on 21 Mai 2014, which reported that Israel was close to signing the agreements and the Haaretz article on 30 June, which reported the actual 30 billion dollar agreement between Egypt and Israel?

Well what happened is that the 3 Israeli teenagers were abducted by Hamas on 12 June 2014, as you can read at the first line of the following Wikipedia link, in section “Immediate Events”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Israel%E2%80%93Gaza_conflict#Immediate_events

At the first paragraph of the following Wikipedia link, you can read that on 7 July 2014, one week after the agreement between Israel and Egypt, Hamas took responsibility for the teenagers’ abductions and at the same time it launched 40 rockets to Israel. One day later, on the 8 July 2014, the Israeli army entered Gaza.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Israel%E2%80%93Gaza_conflict

It is well known that Hamas is funded by Qatar. Hamas won the elections in 2006 by providing financial help to the people of Gaza. In a sense Qatar bought a military camp at the Israeli borders. Qatar is the 3rd richest country in the world in terms of proven natural gas reserves, after Russia and Iran, and could have easlily provided the natural gas to Egypt and Jordan instead.

One of the main reasons that Qatar funded and wholeheartedly supported  the Muslim Brootherhood candidate in Egypt, Muhammad Morsi, is that if Morsi was in power he would have never made a deal with Israel, since the Muslim Brotherhood is supported by Qatar.

At the following Wikipedia link, section ‘Aftermath’, 2-3 lines before the end of the section, where the consequences of the Arab Spring on the Egypt-Israel 1978 Peace Agreement are examined, you can read that the deputy chief of the Muslim Brotherhood said that the Brotherhood does not recognize Israel’s right to exist.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egypt%E2%80%93Israel_Peace_Treaty#Aftermath

At the following BBC article you can read how much Qatar supported the Muslim Brotherhood and its candidate Morsi. In the 6th and 7th paragraph you can read that Qatar did not give all that money for nothing, but instead to make sure that Egypt would buy natural gas from Qatar. I copy these two paragraphs.

“….But this was not a charitable giveaway. It was in the nature of an investment. A Qatari economist told the BBC: “We couldn’t stand by and let Egypt collapse”, but the billions came with an expectation – “I’ll give you the money, show me the outcome,” he said.

The Qataris had already secured a lucrative deal to sell their gas to the Egyptians and they were proposing to heavily invest in the redevelopment of the Suez Canal…”.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-23185441

Many socialists that are financed by Qatar say that the Brotherhood was democratically elected. As you can read in the 3rd paragraph of the following Wikipedia link, as soon as he was elected, Morsi started changing the law to rule as a dictator. I copy from the link.

“…As president, Morsi granted himself unlimited powers and the power to legislate without judicial oversight or review of his acts….”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohamed_Morsi

Moreover you can read at the following Haaretz article that the Israelis have agreed to sell to the Palestinian Authority in West Bank 1.2 billion dollar in natural gas. But this is a small amount compared to the 45 billion dollar deals with Egypt and Jordan, and Qatar would have not probably minded. As you can see the deal was singed in January 2014 and there was no war in Gaza. It was before the agreements with Egypt and Jordan that the war broke out. Nobody starts a war for 1.2 billion dollars.

http://www.haaretz.com/business/1.567216

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Israel’s Diplomatic Relations with the Arab World and the Socialist Propaganda

Iakovos Alhadeff

We all hear European socialists who are heavily funded by the Arabs, accusing Israel of being aggressive towards its Arab and Muslim neighbours. At the following Wikipedia link you can see that 32 countries of the United Nations do not recognize Israel as a country.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_relations_of_Israel#No_recognition_or_diplomatic_relations

You can also read that 18 out of 22 members of the Arab League do not recognize Israel. And one should not be misled to think that these countries originally recognized Israel and something changed in the process. These countries hated Israel right from its birth in 1948, and they have been consistently trying to destroy it, and they would have already succeeded it if it wasn’t the U.S.A.

Israel faces Hamas on its southern borders, a terrorist organisation owned by Qatar, which openly asks for the elimination of Israel, and on its northern borders it faces Hezbollah, another terrorist organization, this one owned by Iran, which is very similar to Hamas.

Israel has two kinds of neighbours. The ones who openly admit and try to eliminate it and the ones who would like to eliminate, but they do not say so openly, and some of them also believe that they have to accept Israel in order to avoid war. Israelis do not have any neighbours who wholeheartedly accept their right to exist as a nation.

Unfortunately European people fall for the propaganda of their Arab funded socialist leaders. The following map shows countries in which Islam is the main religion i.e. the majority of the population in these countries are Muslims (green countries), and the only country in the world where Judaism is the main religion i.e. Jews constitute the majority of the population (red country).  Israel has 8 million inhabitants six of whom are of Jewish religion.

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An Update for the Conflict Between Turkey and Israel

Iakovos Alhadeff

In my essay ‘The Real Causes of the Conflict Between Turkey and Israel’, I was describing how this conflict is nothing more than another ‘cold’, for them moment, energy war. I would now like to update the above essay, or say with fewer words what I was saying in this essay.

http://iakal.wordpress.com/2014/08/23/the-causes-behind-the-conflict-between-turkey-and-israel/

Cyprus Israel Turkey100

It is a well known fact that Turkey imports most of its oil and natural gas, and it therefore wishes to become the absolute energy hub that will connect Asia to Europe (red lines) as a remedy to this problem. This will generate billions in terms of transferring fees, and a dramatic increase in Turkey’s geopolitical significance.

This is the reason that Turkey is so aggressive towards Israel and Syria who tried to provide an alternative route of energy to Europe (black lines), Israel by exploiting its natural gas reserves and Syria by agreeing to the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline, which would bring Iranian natural gas and oil to the Mediterranean Sea, and from there to the European markets. I have written many times about these issues so I will not repeat myself.

The question was why the Israelis could not avoid the conflict with this regional superpower that has an army of 1 million men, since it was fully aware of Turkey’s energy strategy. The answer is quite simple. Israel is surrounded by enemies and it considers of vital importance to have its own energy supplies, for energy security reasons first of all, and for the obvious economic benefits.

However in order to exploit its natural gas reserves, Israel had to make an agreement with Cyprus, on the Exclusive Economic Zones of the two countries i.e. which sea parts belong to one country and which to the other, as you can see on the map above which was taken from the following Foreign Affairs article (only the dark part of the map without the colouring which is mine).

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/139069/yuri-m-zhukov/trouble-in-the-eastern-mediterranean-sea

The problem is that Turkey has occupied the northern part of Cyprus in 1974 (red circle), and claims a part of the island’s natural gas reserves. However the occupied territory is not internationally recognized, and therefore any deal between Israel and Turkey would have been illegal. The only option Israel had in order to exploit its natural gas reserves was to ignore its ex-ally, and strike a deal with Cyprus, and that’s exactly what it did. Turkey did not forgive Israel for that.

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The Israel-Hezbollah War of 2006 and the Ceyhan-Haifa Pipeline

You can download a free copy of this essay in pdf, mobi or epub format from Smashwords at:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/476001

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Iakovos Alhadeff

The Baku-Ceyhan Pipeline

I have written a lot in my previous essays about the Baku-Ceyhan and the Baku-Supsa pipelines (white lines on the map), as the only American success in the Caspian Sea region, a region which is controlled by the Russians and the Iranians. With the help of the only NATO friendly country of the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, the Americans managed to construct a pipeline that bypassed both Iran and Russia, using the energy corridor Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey, transferring Caspian energy to the Mediterranean Sea  (Ceyhan) and to the Black Sea (Supsa).

Ceyhan Eilat100

They did so, in order to provide the European markets with an alternative to the Russian energy, thus decreasing the Russian influence over Europe, hoping that eventually they would manage to influence some of the other corrupted dictators of the Caspian countries too, who are currently under Russian influence, since Azerbaijan’s energy reserves are clearly inadequate to compete with the Russian ones.

At the following table you can see the Caspian region reserves by country.

Caspian Oil Reserves and Natural Gas

As you can see at the above table, the Americans and the Europeans need the oil rich Kazakhstan in order to fill their oil pipelines, and they need the natural gas rich Turkmenistan in order to fill their future natural gas pipelines, if they finally develop a natural gas pipeline network. Alternatively they can take Iran on their side, since Iran is twice as rich as Russia in terms of oil, and its natural gas reserves amount to 2/3 of the Russian ones, and therefore Iran can clearly compete with Russia.

The Ceyhan-Haifa Pipeline

Moreover they planned to construct a new underwater four leg pipeline from Ceyhan to Haifa, which would carry crude oil, natural gas, electricity and water from Turkey to Israel, which would distribute it in the whole region, but also to the port of Eilat and then to South Asia, again bypassing Iran (red line on the map). You can read about the Ceyhan-Haifa pipeline at the above European Commission link, pages 10 and 11, tables 3.2.3 and 3.2.7, or you can see it visually at the following map.

http://ec.europa.eu/energy/observatory/doc/country/2009_12_turkey.pdf

Ceyhan Haifa Pipeline 2JPG

Source:

http://geopoliticsrst.blogspot.gr/2012/04/complexity-of-eastern-med-energy-games.html

Also note that the rich in oil Kirkuk in North Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan), is also connected to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, with the pipeline Kirkuk-Ceyhan (yellow line on the map). Therefore the underwater Ceyhan-Haifa connection would actually be a connection of Baku and Kirkuk with the Israeli port of Eilat in the Red Sea, and finally to South Asia (Pakistan, India, China) bypassing Iran. After describing the Ceyhan pipelines and before turning to the Israel-Lebanon War of 2006, I must also say a few words about the economic and geopolitical implications of these pipelines.

An obvious consequence of the Baku-Ceyhan, Baku-Supsa pipelines was that the Russians were very angry, since the Americans and the Europeans could compete with them in Europe if they finally manage to reach countries rich in oil and natural gas. Another consequence was that Iran was even angrier than Russia, since the Baku-Eilat pipeline would transfer Caspian energy to South East Asia bypassing Iran. As you can see on the map, the shortest way to provide Caspian Energy to South Asia is through Iran.

However with the Baku-Ceyhan and the Ceyhan-Haifa-Eilat  pipelines, another financially viable route was created, in order to provide Caspian energy to South Asia bypassing Iran, since for most of the distance (Baku-Eilat)  only pipelines would be used, which is a very efficient way of transferring energy, and tankers would only be used from the port of Eilat. This was of course very bad for Iran’s exports, but also for its geopolitical significance.

I have said many times in the past how important it is for Iran to construct a pipeline network that would connect it to Pakistan, India and finally China (black line on the map), since it would make Iran much more competitive than Saudi Arabia, its main competitor in oil markets, and Qatar, its main competitor in natural gas markets, since as you can see on the map, Saudi Arabia and Qatar cannot be connected to South Asia with a pipeline network. Geographically it is only possible for Iran to do so. For a detailed description on the war against Iran, in order to prevent it from connecting itself through pipelines to Pakistan, India and China, see my previous essays.

Therefore the Saudis and the Qataris do not want a pipeline connection between Iran, Pakistan, India and China, since it would make Iran more competitive in these markets which are currently dominated by the Saudis in oil sales and by the Qataris in natural gas sales. Moreover the Americans do not want this to happens, since it would connect China to the Persian Gulf, and it would enable China to obtain Persian Gulf energy bypassing the Indian Ocean which is dominated by the American Navy, which makes it possible for the Americans to ‘unplug’ China very easily in the case of a war. China partially fixed this weakness with the 400 billion dollar mammoth deal with Russia, according to which Russia will supply China with natural gas for the next 30 years.

The Indians, who are a key connection between Iran and China, do not want to be so heavily dependent for their energy imports on the politically unstable Persian Gulf, since there is always the possibility of a ‘hot’ war, which would prevent access to the Persian Gulf and to energy supplies. They have therefore been constantly looking for the past years for a competitive alternative to the Persian Gulf energy supply. Moreover having access to many energy sources is not only good in terms of energy security, but it also ensures better energy prices.

Ceyhan Eilat100

For Indians the Iran-Pakistan-India-China pipeline was one of the Persian Gulf alternatives, since even if access to the Persian Gulf by sea was prevented due to a war, supply could continue through the pipelines, and they have therefore many times in the past tried to promote this project, without however so far being successful. On the other hand this pipeline would pass through Pakistan, India’s main enemy, and it had its own weakness in terms of energy security.

Therefore the Baku-Eilat connection would offer India an alternative to the Persian Gulf, which would have nothing to do with Pakistan. The following Asia Times article calls the Ceyhan-Eilat pipeline a ‘lifeline’ for India, since it is an alternative to the Persian Gulf and at the same time it is a source of energy independent from Pakistan.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/JB27Df03.html

You can also read about how important the Ceyhan-Eilat pipeline would be for India in the following Times of India article.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Turkey-offers-alternative-to-Iran-pipeline/articleshow/2770237.cms

This is one more article on the subject from Pakistan Defence, but you can find many other articles if you simply google ‘Ceyhan-Haifa Pipeline and India’ or something similar.

http://defence.pk/threads/turkey-offers-alternative-to-iran-pipeline.9754/

Therefore the Baku-Eilat pipeline would not only bypass Iran, but it would reduce the pressure on the part of the South Asian countries for promoting the badly needed for Iran project of the Iran-Pakistan-India-China pipeline. Could it be worse for Iran? That’s why Saudi Arabia and Qatar did not object to the Ceyhan-Eilat connection, because they realize that if the South Asian countries do not have an alternative to the Persian Gulf, they will press harder for a land connection with Iran.

The Saudis and the Qataris can compete with oil and natural gas flowing from Eilat to South Asia, but they cannot compete with oil and natural gas flowing from Iran to South Asia through pipelines. After this large introduction I can finally turn to the Israel-Lebanon War of 2006.

The Israel-Lebanon War of 2006

As you can read at section ‘Inauguration’ of the following Wikipedia link, the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, it was inaugurated at its Ceyhan terminal on 13.7.2006.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baku%E2%80%93Tbilisi%E2%80%93Ceyhan_pipeline#Inauguration

As you can read at the following Wikipedia link on 12.7.2006, one day before the Ceyhan inauguration, Hezbollah terrorists attacked the Israelis starting the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Lebanon_War

More specifically, the second paragraph of the above link says:

‘The conflict was precipitated by the Zar’it-Shtula incident. On 12 July 2006, militants from the group Hezbollah fired rockets at Israeli border towns as a diversion for an anti-tank missile attack on two armored Humveespatrolling the Israeli side of the border fence. The ambush left three soldiers dead. Two Israeli soldiers were abducted and taken by Hezbollah to Lebanon. Five more were killed in Lebanon, in a failed rescue attempt. Hezbollah demanded the release of Lebanese prisoners held by Israel in exchange for the release of the abducted soldiers. Israel refused and responded with airstrikes and artillery fire on targets in Lebanon. Israel attacked both Hezbollah military targets and Lebanese civilian infrastructure, including Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched a ground invasion of southern Lebanon. Israel also imposed an air and naval blockade. Hezbollah then launched more rockets into northern Israel and engaged the IDF in guerrilla warfare from hardened position’

Moreover at the end of the first paragraph of the above link you can read the following:

‘Due to unprecedented Iranian military support to Hezbollah before and during the war, some consider it the first round of the Iran–Israel proxy conflict, rather than a continuation of the Arab-Israeli conflict.’

In section ‘Contacts with Hezbollah’ of the following Wikipedia link, you can read the following:

‘Russian intelligence agencies have a history of contacts with Lebanese Shia organizations, such as Amal Movement and Hezbollah Russian-made anti-tank weapons played significant role in Hezbollah operations against Israel Defense Forces during 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. It was claimed that “Russian Fajr-1 and Fajr-3 rockets, Russian AT-5 Spandrel antitank missiles and Kornet antitank rockets“have been supplied to Hezbollah through Syria and Iran Muslim GRUdetachments from Chechnya were transferred to Lebanon independently of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon to guard the Russian military engineers (sent to Lebanon to restore the damaged roads) and “to improve Moscow’s image in the Arab and Muslim world.’

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russia_and_the_Iran%E2%80%93Israel_proxy_conflict#Contacts_with_Hezbollah

In section ‘Arab League’ of the following Wikipedia link you can read:

‘The Arab League has called Hezbollah’s attacks on Israel “unexpected, inappropriate, and irresponsible acts,” in the words of Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, PrinceSaud Al-Faisal. The Arab League says they have “fears of widening of tension and possible Israeli strike against Syria,“ “It’s up to the resistance — both the Lebanese and the Palestinian — to decide what they are doing and why are they fighting.

Following a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo on 16 July, Secretary-General Amr Moussa declared that “The Middle East process is dead” and that “The only way to revive the peace process is to take it back to the Security Council’.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_reactions_to_the_2006_Lebanon_War#.C2.A0Arab_League

At section United States of the following Wikipedial link you can read:

‘Following the Zar’it-Shtula incident, the United States government condemned what it called Hezbollah’s “unprovoked act of terrorism”, and called for the “immediate and unconditional release” of the soldiers.

The United States rushed a delivery of satellite and laser-guided bombs to Israel, at Israel’s request. The shipment was not publicly announced.

In addition, the United States has thus far rejected what it considers to be meaningless calls for a cease-fire . “The Bush administration has openly rejected calls for a ceasefire. The New York Times reports that U.S. and Israeli officials have agreed the bombings will continue for another week. “On Tuesday [18 July 2006] Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice rejected an immediate ceasefire and said one could only occur once certain conditions are met.’

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_reactions_to_the_2006_Lebanon_War#.C2.A0United_States

At section Iran of the following Wikipedia link you can read:

‘Foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi condemned Israel’s response stating, “The Zionist regime is desperate because of the resistance put up by regional Muslim nations and is now resorting to blind tactics against the innocent people of Lebanon with full US backing.”[27] Iran also adds that an Israeli attack against Syriawould be considered an attack against the entire Muslim world and it would bring about a “fierce response.”[28] Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, quoted by the Iranian News Agency, said “The Zionists think that they are victims of Hitler, but they act like Hitler and behave worse than Genghis Khan.’

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_reactions_to_the_2006_Lebanon_War#.C2.A0Iran

At section Iraq of the following Wikipedia link you will read that Iraq condemned the Israelis.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_reactions_to_the_2006_Lebanon_War#.C2.A0Iraq

Even though the pipelines were good for Iraq, since Iraq could export its oil to South Asia bypassing Iran, Iraq condemned Israel. The reason is that after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, an Iraq had a Shiite governemnt, and even though it was pro-American, it was very closely cooperating with the Shiites of Iran, and Iraq did not feel that there was any need to bypass its ally.

At section Russia of the following Wikipedia link you will read that Russia condemned the Israelis.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_reactions_to_the_2006_Lebanon_War#.C2.A0Russia

However for the Russians things were more complicated than the Iranians, because the Russians were of course against the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, but I do not think that they were against the Ceyhan-Haifa four leg pipeline, since Russia and Turkey are very well connect with pipeline networks, because Russia is the main natural gas supplier of Turkey, and Russia could use the Ceyhan-Haifa pipeline to sell its own natural gas.

There is already the Blue Stream natural gas pipeline that connects Russia and Turkey under the Black Sea, and they are planning the construction of the Blue Stream 2 pipeline, that would connect Samsun to Ceyhan as you can see on the following 2 maps.

Ceyhan Haifa Pipeline

Source:

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Turkey-Israel-to-build-Mediterranean-pipeline-2498862.php

Blue Stream 1

Source:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Stream

Therefore the Russians could sell to the whole region their natural gas through the route Samsun-Ceyhan and Ceyhan-Haifa. However this is back in 2006, and the problems in the American-Israeli relations are not present yet nor is the Israel-Russia rapprochement, and therefore the Russians have to support their traditional allies i.e. Syria, Iran and Lebanon.

It is therefore quite simple to explain the Middle East wars if you look at the oil and natural gas that is always hidden in the background of these wars. However the Israelis have some problems of their own with Lebanon, since their natural gas supplies are near the Israeli-Lebanese borders, and the Lebanese claim that a part of these natural gas reserves belong to them as you can see at the following two maps.

Israel Leviathan Gas Filed

Source:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2012/07/120703-israel-new-natural-gas/

Cup Isr Gaza EEZ Foreign Affairs Colors

Source:

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/139069/yuri-m-zhukov/trouble-in-the-eastern-mediterranean-sea

Therefore the Israelis and the Lebanese, besides all the disputes I have mentioned so far, have the natural gas disputes too. However it is mainly Iran that owns Hezbollah, since it is Iran that provides for Hezbollah funding and weapons, and it is on Iran’s orders that Hezbollah acts. Iran has done with Hezbollah, what Qatar has done in Gaza with Hamas. Qatar owns Hamas. It provides its funding and weapons and through this funding Hamas managed to provide financial support to the people of Gaza and won the elections in 2006, and did not conduct other elections since that time.

Therefore in the same way that Iran bought Hezbollah at the northern border of Israel, Qatar bought Hamas at the Southern borders of Israel (Gaza). For the relationship between Qatar and Hamas and Iran and Hezbollah you can simply google ‘Qatar Hamas’ and ‘Iran Hezbollah’ to find hundreds of articles.

The main dispute between Israel, Hamas and Hezbollah is natural gas. Israel is trying to provide an alternative source of natural gas to Europe, either through Cyprus and Greece or by liquefying its natural gas and exporting it with ships. Iran and Qatar are the 2nd and 3rd richest countries in the world in terms of natural gas reserves, and Israel is closer to Europe and would provide a cheaper alternative even though it has far less reserves, and why not in Africa too. Recently I wrote an essay about the 15 billion dollar natural gas agreement between Israel and Jordan.

Therefore even though the Shiite Muslims of Iran and the Sunni Muslims of Qatar are the 2nd and 3rd richest countries in the world in natural gas reserves, and therefore hate each other as we can see with the war in Syria and Iraq now, they both do not want Israel to provide an alternative to the natural gas markets of Europe and Africa, with the help of other Mediterranean countries too, like Egypt, Greece and Cyprus. This is the reason Qatar is pushing so hard for the Muslim Brotherhood to come back to power in Egypt, since the Brotherhood is under its influence. With the Muslim Brotherhood in power Qatar could ensure that Egypt would not undercut its prices.

Therefore in the same way that Iran bought Hezbollah at the Israeli-Lebanese borders (black circle in the following map), Qatar bought Hams in Gaza (blue circle), and in the same way the Sunni Muslim terrorists of Hamas take orders from Qatar and Turkey, the Shiite Muslim terrorists of Hezbollah take orders from Iran. Therefore Qatar and Iran can use Hamas and Hezbollah to launce energy wars on Israel whenever they want.

As you can read at the following article, Hamas and Hezbollah had very good relations, until the great war between the Sunni Muslims of Saudi Arabia and Qatar and the Shiite Muslims of Iran and Iran broke out, as I was saying in my essay ‘The Energy War Between U.S.A. and Russia’.

http://www.wilsoncenter.org/islamists/article/the-marriage-and-divorce-hamas-and-hezbollah

Hamas Hezbollah

Source:

http://www.nektarinanonprofit.com/2012/03/israel.html

Therefore it can be seen that the Israel-Lebanon War of 2006 was another hot energy war, in the sequence of the hot and cold energy wars taking place in the Middle East for the last one hundred years. Any analysis about the wars in the Middle East that is not based on oil and natural gas is always totally inadequate.

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