The Islamic World in 1500 C.E. and the Shift to the Atlantic

At the following map you can see the Islamic World at around 1500 C.E. All the empires that you see colored on the map were Islamic empires. Moreover the Muslims were controlling the Straits of Malacca, which connect the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea. Even today the Chinese and the Americans are confronting each other at the Malacca Straits and the South China Sea, because China claims the whole of South China Sea, and the Americans do not accept that.

Map 1

Map of the Islamic World 1500.JPG

You can see how much pressure there was on Western Europeans i.e. the Portuguese, the Spanish, the French, the English and the Dutch. All of them had to buy from the Muslims the exotic goods of Asia i.e. silk, spice, porcelain etc. The Muslims would not allow them to exploit the trade routes for themselves, and they had to buy these goods from the ports of the East Mediterranean Sea, which were all controlled by the Muslims. This is the time before the English industrial revolution, which transformed Western Europe the factory of the whole world. At this point in time the European economy is still an agricultural economy, and the Western Europeans have to pay high prices to the Muslims the get hold of the exotic goods of Asia.

The Western Europeans turn to the Atlantic, and the Portuguese discover a route to India around Africa (Vasco Da Gama 1497), and the Spaniards, in their effort to find a route to Asia that would bypass the Islamic World, they discover America (Columbus 1492).

For the Western Europeans trade shifts from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, and power in Europe starts shifting from Venice, and the other Italian city states, to the European countries of the Atlantic. Venice, and the other city states of Italy were controlling the spice trade in the Mediterranean, and they were carrying the goods of Asia to Europe, from Alexandria (Egypt), Constantinople (today’s Istanbul), and Beirut (today’s Lebanon).

Map 2

Map of Venice.JPG

The Western Europeans will start fighting each other for influence in the New World (America), and for the new trade routes to the New World and to Asia. The Spanish found a very convenient way to get hold of the goods of Asia. They conquered Mexico and Peru in America, where they discovered mountains of silver and gold. They also conquered the Philippines, and they were sending their silver from Acapulco (Mexico) to Manila (Philippines), and in exchange they would get goods from China and Asia. The term Manila Galleons refers to the large commercial ships of Spain, that were carrying silver from Mexico to Philippines, and oriental goods from Philippines to Mexico. This Spanish business was taking place for the period 1565-1815.

Map 3

Manila Galleons.JPG

When the Spaniards conquered Mexico and Peru, they defeated the Aztecs and the Incas. Both were very tough guys, who were hated by the other local populations who were oppressed by them. The Spaniards, who were by far outnumbered by the Incas and the Aztecs, allied with their enemies and defeated them.

Map 4

Map of Aztec and Incas.JPG

The Causes of the French Revolution (1789)

According to Stephen Walt, a Professor at Harvard University, the main cause of the French Revolution was the French fiscal collapse, which was due France’s financial and military support to the war of the American Independence against the British (1775-1783). See “Revolution and War”, chapter “The French Revolution”.

The American colonies believed that it was unconstitutional to pay taxes to Britain, and in 1778 the Americans signed an alliance with the French King Luis XVI, according to which France would offer financial and military aid to the American rebels, in order to hurt her great enemy i.e. England, and to take revenge for her defeat in 1764 (Seven Years War).

The British were finally tired by the American War of Independence, and the British Parliament voted for abandoning military operations in America in 1782.

The French support to the American Revolution economically exhausted France, and the French King had to increase taxes, something that exhausted the French people and led to the French Revolution of 1789.

Napoleon the Great, an army officer, was one of the heroes of the French Revolution, and he became the new dictator of France. Napoleon the Great was for the 18th Century what Hitler was for the 19th Century. Like Hitler, Napoleon almost conquered all Europe.

Image 1

Napolon the Great.JPG


On June 24th 1812 Napoleon started his campaign to Russia. On June 22nd 1941 Hitler started his campaign to Russia. Both dictators were hoping to conquer Russia before the Russian winter, and that’s why the started their campaigns on June, but both were defeated by the Russians.

Image 2



In both cases the Russians initially allied with the dictators against the British, but in the end they changed sides and allied with the British against the dictators.

In the first case, Tsar Alexander signed with Napoleon the Treaties of Tilsit in 1807. However Napoleon did not allow the Russians to import goods from England, and England was the great industrial and economic power of the time. The Russians were at some point tired from Napoleon’s restrictions and they broke the alliance with France by starting again to import goods from England, and Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812.
In the second case the Russian Communists allied themselves with the Nazis and Hitler in 1939 (“Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact”). But the oil that the Communists were shipping to the Nazis was not enough for Hitler’s army. Therefore Hitler broke the alliance with the Communists in 1941, and invaded Russia, in order to get hold of the oil of Azerbaijan, which at the time was a communist colony.

“Treaty of Alliance (1778)”

“Seven Years’ War”
“American Revolutionary War”

“Treaties of Tilsit”

“Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact”

The Travels of Marco Polo at the Silk Roads

Marco Polo was a merchant from Venice. He is one of the most famous merchants in history due to the writings he left about his travels at the Silk Roads.

Map 1

Map of Marco Polo 2.JPG

The following map from Wikipedia shows the trade routes followed by Marco Polo.

Map 2

Map of Marco Polo.JPG

For centuries Venice was the dominant naval and commercial power at the Mediterranean Sea. Most of the spice trade was carried out by the Merchants of Venice in the Mediterranean Sea. The Muslims would bring the merchandises to Egypt, and from there the merchants of Venice would transfer them to Europe.

Map 3

Map of Venice.JPG

The riches of Venice to a large extent were generated by the Silk Roads and the Spice Trade. The Venetians would buy the spices from Alexandria (Egypt), and if they managed to safely return home they would sell them at a price at least five times higher.

Image 1 Venice


I was saying in my previous post that following the death of Muhammad the Prophet, the Iron Curtain of Islam was erected in the 7th and 8th centuries in front of the Europeans, and the Europeans were no longer allowed to reach the Indian Ocean. They would have to buy the merchandises of Asia from the Muslim traders in Egypt. See “The Islamic Iron Curtain of the 7th Century”.

Map 4

Map Iron Curtain

Map 5

Map Caliphate.JPG

Things changed when the Mongols, who were non-Muslim populations, beat the Muslims and established their own empire.

Map 6

 Map The Mongol Empire.JPG

For some reasons the Mongols allowed the Europeans to use the Silk Roads. Maybe because the Islamic Caliphate, which was standing between the Europeans and the Mongols, was perceived by them as a common enemy. I don’t really know. However it was during the Mongol period that Marco Polo traveled at the Silk Roads. Therefore the Mongols, even though very barbaric, allowed the Westerners to reach Asia once more.

However after the death of Genghis Han, who was the leader of the Mongols, the Mongols were gradually converted to Islam, and their empire was replaced by the Ottoman Empire. When in 1453 the Ottomans took over Constantinople i.e. Istanbul, they obtained full control of the Silk Roads, and they started using monopolistic methods again, and that created tensions with the Europeans.  There were even wars between the Venetians and the Ottomans i.e. see “Ottoman-Venetian Wars”.

Map 7

Ottoman Empire.JPG

Due to the great naval power of the Venetians, and the Muslim blockade at Egypt, the other Europeans were looking for ways to achieve more favorable terms of trade, in order to avoid the taxes and commissions of the Muslims and the Venetians. In an effort to find an alternative route for the Spanish, the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492. In 1497 the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama managed to sail around Africa and reach India.


“Spice Trade”

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From there, overland routes led to the Mediterranean coasts. From the 8th until the 15th century, the Republic of Venice and neighboring maritime republics held the monopoly of European trade with the Middle East. The silk and spice trade, involving spicesincenseherbsdrugs and opium, made these Mediterranean city-states phenomenally rich. Spices were among the most expensive and in-demand products of the Middle Ages, used in medicine. They were all imported from Asia and Africa. Venetian merchants distributed then the goods through Europe until the rise of the Ottoman Empire, that eventually led to the fall of Constantinople in 1453, barring Europeans from important combined land-sea routes.

“Silk Road”

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The Mongol expansion throughout the Asian continent from around 1207 to 1360 helped bring political stability and re-established the Silk Road (via Karakorum). It also brought an end to the dominance of the Islamic Caliphate over world trade. Because the Mongols came to control the trade routes, trade circulated throughout the region, though they never abandoned their nomadic lifestyle.

The Mongol diplomat Rabban Bar Sauma visited the courts of Europe in 1287–88 and provided a detailed written report to the Mongols. Around the same time, the Venetian explorer Marco Polo became one of the first Europeans to travel the Silk Road to China. His tales, documented in The Travels of Marco Polo, opened Western eyes to some of the customs of the Far East. He was not the first to bring back stories, but he was one of the most widely read. He had been preceded by numerous Christian missionaries to the East, such as William of RubruckBenedykt PolakGiovanni da Pian del Carpine, and Andrew of Longjumeau. Later envoys included Odoric of PordenoneGiovanni de’ MarignolliJohn of Montecorvino,Niccolò de’ Conti, and Ibn Battuta, a Moroccan Muslim traveller who passed through the present-day Middle East and across the Silk Road from Tabriz between 1325–54.

The Islamic Iron Curtain of the 7th Century

Prophet Muhammad was the founder of Islam. For the Muslim people Prophet Muhammad was the man who was sent by God to spread Islam on earth. Muhammad was a merchant. See Wikipedia link below. Muhammad was a righteous man, and his prices were that fair, that no further bargaining was required between the seller and the buyer. Remember that bargaining was an essential part of trade in the Muslim world.

Muhammad was born on 570 C.E. and he is the man who united the Arab world. In the period 600-700 C.E. an Islamic Iron Curtain was created, which no longer allowed the infidels i.e. the Christians, to trade through the Silk Roads. From now on the infidels would have to stop at Egypt, and purchase from the Muslim traders the merchandises of East Asia i.e. spices, silk etc. Before Muhammed and Islam the Romans could freely travel through the Silk Roads. After the Islamic Iron Curtain the Indian Ocean became an Islamic Sea.

Map 1

Map Iron Curtain.JPG

During the 20th century Gamal Nasser, the Egyptian leader, wanted to unite Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Syria and the Arabic countries of the Persian Gulf to a single Arabic country, with him as its leader. Muammar Qaddafi of Libya wanted to unite Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya in a single Arabic country too.

Map 2

Map Libya Egypt.JPG

Muhammad used Islam to unite the people of the Arab World. Gamal Nasser and Muammar Qaddafi mainly used Arab nationalism and socialism to unite the Arab World against the “greedy” capitalists/imperialists of the West. It was no longer a battle between Muslims and Christians, between Muslims and infidels, but a battle between Arab socialists against Western capitalists/imperialists.

Erdogan, Turkey’s President, is using today the Islamic socialist model of the Muslim Brotherhood to unite the Muslim World. Erdogan’s path resembles more to the path followed by Prophet Muhammad.

You can call it Islam against the infidels, you can call it socialists against capitalists, but I prefer to call it the war for the Silk Roads.



For more information see “A Brief History of International Trade” by Ryan Peterson.

How the British Contributed to the Holocaust


The White Paper of 1939 was the British decision to forbid European Jews from immigrating to Palestine, in order to save themselves from the European socialists, because the Brits did not want to disappoint the Arabs. Even though the British had promised to help the Jews create a state of their own in Palestine (Israel+Jordan) in 1917 (Balfour Declaration).


Initially, Hitler did not want to kill the Jews of Europe. He was simply confiscating their wealth and he was throwing them out of the countries he conquered. The Arabs asked him for the Final Solution, because the Jews had nowhere else to go, and they would end up in Palestine.

Therefore the Holocaust can be seen as a byproduct of the English-German rivalry about who was going to win the Arabs as allies. Remember there was a war for the oil of the Middle East going on between the allies and the nazis. That’s probably why the British never bombed the concentration camps, even though they knew what was going on there. They knew they would disappoint the Arabs.

“White Paper 1939”

Today things are almost the same. England is buying a lot of gas from Qatar, and Qatar is heavily investing in England. Jeremy Corbyn represents the new anti-Semitism. The truth is that Jeremy Corbyn is a lot more “enthusiastic” about the Jews than the British were during WW2. During WW2 the British contributed indirectly to the Holocaust by following the realpolitik, and not by anti-Semitism.


See also “Hitler, Netanyahu and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem”.

Erdogan’s Efforts to Unite the Muslim World

A very interesting article from Al Monitor, about the efforts of the Turkish President Tayip Erdogan to unite the Muslim World and become its leader. And about whether the leaders of the Muslim World can accept Erdogan as their leader. See Al Monitor παρακάτω “Will Islamic world accept Turkey’s leadership?”, April 2016.

The article refers to the recent summit of the Muslim countries in Turkey (Organization of Islamic Cooperation OIC). Al Monitor mentions that the socialist leader of Egypt Abdel Sisi was absent, together with the King of Jordan. I must say that both the Egyptian socialists and the King of Jordan are very upset with the Turkish Islamists, because they support in Egypt and Jordan the Islamist socialist organization Muslim Brotherhood.

Recently the Jordanian King accused the Turkish President of sending terrorists to Europe on purpose, and also said that the Europeans are afraid of Erdogan. See Al Monitor “Are Amman-Ankara ties in crisis”?, April 2016. See also Independent “Turkey is deliberately ‘unleashing’ Isis terrorists into Europe, says Jordan’s King Abdullah”, March 2016. See also the Gatestone Institute “Turkey: Muslim Brothers’ Protector”, June 2015.

In the summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Erdogan had the Saudi King first at his right, and fourth to his left was the Iranian President. Erdogan wanted to show how the relations between Saudi Arabia and Turkey have improved, and also that in the Saudi-Iranian conflict Turkey favors the Saudis. I must say that the relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia have improved after King Salman became King in January 2015, because he accepted to relax the stance followed by his predecessor against the Muslim Brotherhood. He also pledged billions of Saudi investments in Turkey. See Al Monitor “Saudi Arabia turns to Turkey”, February 2016

Picture 1

Ερντογάν Σαουδάραβας Βασιλιάς.JPG

However the Turkish President also said that his religion is Islam, and not Sunnitism or Shiitism, in an effort to unite Iran and Saudi Arabia, two of the main powers of Shiite and Sunni Islam respectively.

For Turkey it would be great if Iran and Saudi Arabia could reach a détente, or even manage to cooperate. The Turks and the Qataris are hoping that if the Saudis and the Iranians reach an agreement, it would be much easier for them to send the oil and gas to Turkey, and from there to Europe. Turkey wants to reduce her dependence on Russian gas, and also to send the oil and gas of the Middle East and the Caspian Sea to Europe. That would mean billions in revenues for Turkey, and also an increased geopolitical role. The opposite would be true for Russia. The largest gas field of the world i.e. the South Pars/North Fields, lies in the Persian Gulf, and it is shared by Iran and Qatar. A bit to the north, in Turkmenistan, lies the second largest gas field in the world, the Galkynysh.

Map 1South Pars/ North Fields Gas Field

Map of South Pars North  Fields.JPG

A rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia, would be very good for Turkey and Qatar, but it would be a disaster for Russia, because it would open the corridor Middle East-Turkey-Europe. If Iraq was to be included in this kind of deal things for Russia would become even worse. With peace between the Sunnis and the Shiites of the Middle East, it would be much harder for the Russians to intervene in the Middle East.

But it is not as easy as it seems for the Saudis and the Iranians to reach a détente, even though it would be a blessing for the Turkish Islamists. The Turks and the Iranians have been supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Saudi Arabia and Jordan, and the Iranians are also supporting the Shiite minority of Saudi Arabia too. The idea is that if the Muslim Brotherhood takes over Saudi Arabia and Jordan, it will be much easier for Turkey to control these countries, and it would be much easier for Iran and Saudi Arabia to cooperate, since the Muslim Brotherhood is sponsored by Turkey and Iran.

Iran is already an Islamic Republic, and the Turkish Islamists are closing the media and destroying the opposition in Turkey, and they are transforming Turkey to an Islamic republic too. If the Saudi members of the Muslim Brotherhood were to rise in Saudi Arabia, the three main players of the Persian Gulf would all be Islamic republics.


Τουρκία Σαουδική Αραβία Ιράν.JPG


Σαουδική Αραβία Ιράν Τουρκία.JPG

The Turkish efforts to overturn the family of Saud in Saudi Arabia are enhanced by the animosity that has been developing between Saudi Arabia and United States after the terrorist attacks at the Twin Towers (9/11). The Americans do not blame for the attack the then Saudi King, but all the terrorists were Saudis, and this was definitely a Saudi attack, even though it was also supported by Iran, Afghanistan, and maybe from Iraq too. Recently the American courts fined Iran with 10.5 billion dollars for its support to the Saudis who carried out the attack. See Bloomberg “Iran Told to Pay $10.5 Billion to Sept. 11 Kin, Insurers”, March 2016.

The Congress is also thinking about investigating the role of Saudi Arabia in the attack. See CNN “Saudis warn of economic reprisals if Congress passes 9/11 bill”, April 2016

The Americans never accused the then government of Saudi Arabia of organizing the 9/11 attack, but the present Saudi King, King Salman, was funding charity organizations that have been associated with Al Qaeda. That was of course before he became King of Saudi Arabia, and I guess it has a lot to do with the war within the Saudi Royal family. See Foreign Policy “King Salman’s Shady History”, January 2015

I guess that after the Saudi King promised to be more relaxed towards the Muslim Brotherhood branch of Saudi Arabia i.e. Erdogan’s friends, and all the Saudi investments he pledged for Turkey, Turkey will relax her stance towards the Muslim Brotherhood in Saudi Arabia.

However, even if at some point the Turks and the Iranians manage to bring the Muslim Brotherhood in power in Saudi Arabia, it won’t be a piece of cake for an agreement to be reached between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Remember that before the rise of the Iranian Islamists in 1979, Iran was the main US ally in the Persian Gulf, and Saudi Arabia was also a US ally. However the two countries were still killing each other for their exports. And it is not only the Saudis and the Iranians. There is also Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Iraq, Syria, and everybody is looking after his own interests.

But even if we assume that the Saudis and the Iranians reach an agreement, in order to send oil and gas to Europe through Turkey, thus overcoming Russia, what will happen with Asia? The Arabs and the Iranians are mainly exporting to Asia. The only common interest they have in Asia is to block the gas of Turkmenistan and the oil of Kazakhstan from reaching India and the Indian Ocean. But the Iranians have a clear advantage over the Saudis when it comes to India and China, due to the Iran-Pakistan corridor. Maybe the Iranians and the Qataris could jointly export gas from the South Pars/North Fields to China and India, but is there to unite Iran and Saudi Arabia?

Map 2

Map of South Pars North  Fields

China could attempt to sort things out for the Iranians and the Saudis, because it is mainly China that imports oil and gas from the Persian Gulf. The United States have increased their oil and gas production from shale rock, and they import huge quantities from Canada and Mexico, both countries very rich in shale rock.

China could say something like “I will buy that much from you, that much from you and you and you”, in an effort to keep everybody happy. That was the point of the recent visits of the Chinese President to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iran. See Reuters “China’s Xi to visit Saudi, Iran in new diplomacy push” January 2016.

See also “Can China Afford to Finish the War in the Middle East”?

I said that Iran has an advantage for Europe and Asia, and therefore I must also say that Saudi Arabia has an advantage over Africa. But the rich customers are in Europe and Asia, and not in Africa. Recently Egypt returned to Saudi Arabia two islands that Saudi Arabia had surrendered to Egypt in 1950, in order for Egypt to block the Eilat-Ashkelon oil pipeline that was promoted by Iran and Israel, and which was constructed in 1968, after the 1967 war between Egypt and Israel.

The Saudis will construct a bridge that will pass from these two islands, and will for the first time connect the Arabian Peninsula with the Sinai Peninsula. Moreover Sudan recently changed sides and from an Iranian ally it became a Saudi ally. Eritrea and Djibouti also pledged their support to Saudi Arabia.Iran is claiming Yemen through the current war, in order to connect to Africa, and also to be able to block the Saudi exports to Asia. The Saudis have constructed the Petropipeline to export from the Red Sea their oil, which is located near the Persian Gulf. Iran threatens to block the Straits of Hormuz in case of a war with Saudi Arabia.


Map Middle East Pipelines.JPG


Χάρτης Αιγύπτου Σαουδικής Αραβίας.JPG


Χάρτης Αιγύπτου Σαουδικής Αραβίας 2.JPG


Map of Yemen.JPG

Another issue related with all the above is that if there is a Saudi-Iranian agreement, in order to send gas and oil to Europe through Turkey, they will deeply “hurt” the Russian economic exports to Europe. And if the Iranians and the Saudis hurt the Russian interests, and at the same time they have very good relations with China, there will be problems between China and Russia. And there are already big problems between Russia and China. See “Russia VS China”.

Also remember that the Iranian Islamists supported the rise of the Turkish Islamists to power, because they thought the Tukish Kemalists were too pro-American and too pro-West. The Iranian Islamists believed that the rise of the Turkish Islamists would enhance the Iranian-Turkish cooperation. However we saw that the rise of the Islamists in Turkey led to the Turkish-Iranian war in Syria. Because the priority of the Turkish Kemalist was to keep the Kurdistan of Turkey quiet, and they were willing to sacrifice Turkish influence in the Middle East. The current doctrine of Neo-Ottomanism promoted by Erdogan and Davutoglu is hurting the Russian and Iranian interests, and if these two countries are not happy with the Turkish energy policy they will support the PKK in Turkey.

The terrorists of the PKK were traditionally supported by Syria, due to the problematic Syrian-Turkish relations, but Syria is one thing, and Russia and Iran are another.

Also remember that in the 70s the socialists of Iraq and Syria were both Russian allies, and they wanted to become one country, in order to export Iraqi oil to the Mediterranean Sea. That was at a time the Soviets were not exporting oil and gas to NATO members. But in the end the Syrian and Iraqi socialists became bitter rivals, and after the rise of the Iranian Islamists in power, the Syrians became Iranian allies.

What I am trying to say is that the Turks might want to see a Saudi-Iranian détente, in order to export their oil and gas to Europe, but forming alliances is not a simple task. On the other hand a civil war in Saudi Arabia would be perfect for Iran. Actually I think that for Iran a civil war in Saudi Arabia would be much better than a détente between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Also remember that the Persian Gulf, the Caspian Sea and West Siberia hold approximately 2/3 of the global oil and gas reserves, and the toughest international terrorists are running these countries i.e. see “the resource curse”, and “American Politics in the Age of Oil”.

Map 3 Persian Gulf-Caspian Sea-West Siberia

Map of the Persian Gulf.JPG


Map of Oil and Gas Reserves.JPG

Also remember that Saudi Arabia has other options too. Saudi Arabia has the option to make a deal with Russia against Iran. Saudi Arabia consumes internally her natural gas production, and she is not as rich in natural gas as Iran and Qatar. Therefore Saudi Arabia is much less interested in the Qatar-Iran-Turkey gas pipeline, and a lot more interested for her oil exports.

Therefore the Saudis have the option to make a deal with Russia, in order for Russia to block Iran in Syria. Then Saudi Arabia and Russia can cooperate as an oil cartel in order to increase oil prices. Therefore it is much easier for the Saudis and the Jordanians to negotiate with the Russians in Syria, than it is for Turkey and Qatar. See “Russia, Saudi Arabia reach consensus on oil output freeze – Ifax cites diplomatic source”, April 2016

Also see “Vladimir Putin asked Bashar al-Assad to step down”, January 2016

A Saudi-Russian agreement except of decreasing output and increasing prices would also mean that the Saudis would focus on their exports in Asia, and the Russians would focus in Europe. It would also mean that Russia would protect Saudi Arabia from Iran. Russia could even provide nuclear weapons to Saudi Arabia, now that Pakistan is becoming a bit neutral between Iran and Saudi Arabia, due to the Iran-Pakistan-China economic corridor. Pakistan is the only Muslim country that is a nuclear power. Russia is already cooperating with Saudi Arabia on nuclear energy. See Reuters “Saudi Arabia, Russia sign nuclear power cooperation deal”, June 2015

See also BBC “Saudi nuclear weapons ‘on order’ from Pakistan”, November 2013

See also the Financial Times “Saudi Arabia and Russia ministers agree oil production freeze”, February 2016.

On the other hand, Turkey too has the option to cooperate with Russia with the Turk Stream (Russia-Black Sea-Turkey-Europe), and block Iran, in order to become for Russia an new Ukraine and earn transit fees. But the Turks want to buy the Russian gas in low prices and negotiate it themselves with the potential buyers, while the Russians want to make the negotiations themselves, and simply allow Turkey to earn transit fees, like they were doing with Ukraine.

But let me go back to the Al Monitor article. The article also says that at the summit of the Organization of the Islamic Council Erdogan attacked the West, and said that the Muslim World must cooperate in order to promote its interests, because the Westerners only care about the oil of the Muslim World. He also said that the Europeans and the Americans make a big fuss about the terrorist attacks in Brussels and Paris, but they don’t care about the terrorist attacks in Turkey. He was referring to the support of the West to the Kurds of Syria, because the Kurds of Syria cooperate with the Kurds of the PKK in Turkey. See also “Erdogan and Syria”.

At the end the Al Monitor articles says that it is not very easy for the Muslim World to cooperate, and it says it is doubtful whether the leaders of the Muslim World will accept Erdogan as their leader.

Picture Turkish Imports of Natural Gas

Turkeys Imports of Natural Gas.JPG

Picture Turkish Imports of Crude Oil

Turkeys Imports of Oil.JPG


For the Al Monitor article see

“Will Islamic world accept Turkey’s leadership?”, April 2016

“Turkey is deliberately ‘unleashing’ Isis terrorists into Europe, says Jordan’s King Abdullah”, March 2016

“Are Amman-Ankara ties in crisis”?, April 2016

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Although Erdogan has been criticized for launching verbal tirades against regional leaders, it has been Jordan’s monarch who has repeatedly attacked the Turkish president. According to a leak reported March 25 in Middle East Eye, Abdullah told US congressional officials during a January visit to Washington, “The fact that terrorists are going to Europe is part of Turkish policy and Turkey keeps on getting a slap on the hand, but they are let off the hook.” Asked whether the Islamic State (IS) was exporting oil to Ankara, Abdullah responded, “Absolutely.” Abdullah’s accusation that Ankara is working with IS likely does not sit well with Erdogan, as Turkey has suffered several horrific attacks by IS of late.

An informed source, who requested anonymity for lack of authorization to speak with the press, told Al-Monitor that ties between Amman and Ankara had reached a “crisis.” Given that the king’s quotes were published right before Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was scheduled to visit Jordan on March 27, the source wondered whether the timing of the leak had been intentional, to try to sabotage the visit, which had required weeks of planning.

“Turkey: Muslim Brothers’ Protector”, June 2015

“Saudi Arabia extends hand to Muslim Brotherhood”, March 2016

“Saudi Arabia and Russia ministers agree oil production freeze”, February 2016

“Why Saudi Arabia decided to reclaim its islands from Egypt now”

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A lot of shock and disgruntlement has been expressed regarding the deal reached between Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi following the king’s visit to Egypt.

King Salman’s visit ended with him cashing in on years of Saudi funding for the Egyptian state and economy, as well as energy subsidies, and leaving with his father’s old Red Sea islands back under the authority of the Saudi state as well as a final agreement to build the long-discussed but never constructed Saudi-Egypt bridge.

Many Egyptian opposition groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, have complained that Sisi has unconstitutionally ceded Egyptian territory and done so in exchange for a “fistful of dollars”. Undoubtedly Sisi is acting in his own interests and survival as his country plunges further into chaos and economic hardship. But the fact remains that the islands are historically Saudi, and all that King Salman has done is take back direct control over islands his father already possessed and were a part of his dominion during a time that is still within the king’s own memory.

However, the question remains what the Saudis gain by reclaiming the islands now. To answer that, we must look back to why did Saudi Arabia agreed to the leasing of the Tiran and Sanafir islands to the Egyptians in the 1950s. This was likely in a bid to detach itself from direct responsibility for the Palestinian cause.

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Although this is unlikely to happen right now due to Israeli fears, Saudi Arabia has already reopened Iraqi-built pipelines to the Red Sea that it may expand in order to mitigate the threat of the stranglehold Iran has on Hormuz, where a fifth of the world’s energy passes. It is also doing its utmost to prevent Iranian clients such as the Houthis from controlling Yemen and threatening access to the Gulf of Aden to the south. Saudi Arabia’s move should therefore be seen as an insurance policy to diversify its export and trade routes.

Finally, and as a furtherance of King Salman’s repeated statements calling for greater Arab unity in the face of shared threats, the King Salman Causeway, as it will be known, will pass over the islands and connect the Sinai with the Arabian Peninsula, thus bridging Africa and Asia and providing for a land route that bypasses the historical route that traverses the Levant.

Saudi Arabia is not only seeking to increase its economic ties with the Egyptians, a million of whom already live and work in Saudi Arabia, but it also probably sees this bridge as a way of connecting the Arabian Maghreb with the Mashriq. Apart from the obvious benefits of having such a land route for the annual Hajj pilgrims, there will be increased trade and commercial opportunities across both sides of the bridge, the idea being that with increased economic interdependence comes increased cooperation.

“Saudi readies oil line to counter Iran Hormuz threat”, June 2012

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Saudi Arabia has reopened an old oil pipeline built by Iraq to bypass Gulf shipping lanes, giving Riyadh scope to export more of its crude from Red Sea terminals should Iran try to block the Strait of Hormuz, industry sources told Reuters.

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The effects of tensions have been diverse, with Saudi Arabia’s decision to widen its export routes the latest evidence of states in the region preparing for difficulties.

The Iraqi Pipeline in Saudi Arabia (IPSA), laid across the kingdom in the 1980s after oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf by both sides during the Iran-Iraq war, has not carried Iraqi crude since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990.

Saudi Arabia confiscated the pipeline in 2001 as compensation for debts owed by Baghdad and has used it to transport gas to power plants in the west of the country in the last few years.

Iran threatened in January to block the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for U.S. and European sanctions that target its oil revenues in an attempt to stop the nuclear program.

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Alarmed, Saudi Arabia has now quietly reconditioned IPSA to carry crude, test pumping along the line over the last four to five months, several sources with knowledge of the project say.

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More than a third of the world’s seaborne oil exports pass through the narrow Strait of Hormuz from the oilfields of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Qatar’s liquefied natural gas exports are all shipped through Hormuz.

Worried about its reliance on Gulf shipping, Saudi Arabia increased its capacity in 1992 to pump oil from fields predominantly clustered in the east across the country to the Red Sea. Capacity rose to about 5 million barrels a day through two parallel pipelines known as the Petroline.

Saudi crude exports run as high as 8 million bpd but rising demand for its crude in Asia, shipped out of the Gulf, and falling demand from Europe, usually sourced from Red Sea ports, meant Petroline’s pumping capacity was never fully used.

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Until recently the Saudi government had considered the risk of such a disruption in the Gulf too small and its western gas needs too great to switch Petroline fully back to oil. But as tensions over Iran’s nuclear program rose, it decided to put IPSA on standby to transport more crude west in an emergency.

The United Arab Emirates has built its own Hormuz bypass pipeline, which is due to start exporting from the Gulf of Oman next month.

“Iraq seeks to reopen oil pipeline through Saudi Arabia”, December 2015

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Iraq is seeking to reopen its crude oil export pipeline through Saudi Arabia, shut in 1990, state newspaper Assababah reported citing an unidentified Iraqi official. “The Iraqi oil ministry started taking steps to revive the Iraq-Saudi Arabia export pipeline, as part of a plan to diversify its export outlets,” said the Baghdad-based daily.An Iraqi oil ministry spokesman declined to comment on the report.Saudi Arabia shut the pipeline in 1990, after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. The pipeline used to carry Iraqi crude to the Saudi terminal of Yanbu on the Red Sea.The pipeline was built in the 1980s, during the Iraq-Iran war, to diversify Iraq’s exports routes when the two countries were attacking each other’s tankers in the Gulf.

“Saudi Arabia-Iran Rivalry In Africa: Sudan, Djibouti, Somalia Part Ways WithTehran As Riyadh Influence Grows”, January 2016

“Eritrea Says It Backs Saudi Arabia’s Moves to `Combat Terrorism”, February 2016



The White Stream Pipeline and the Russo-Georgian War of 2008

In 2005 Ukraine presented the European Union with a plan for the construction of the White Pipeline. The pipeline would transfer natural gas from Azerbaijan to Crimea (Ukraine) and Constanza (Romania) bypassing Russia and Gazprom. On May 2008 the European Union accepted the pipeline as a “Project of Common Interest”, which means the pipeline was eligible for EU funding. See map 1 and the second paragraph of the Wikipedia link.

Map 1 The White Stream Pipeline (Georgia-Ukraine-Romania)

Map White Stream Pipeline.JPG

On August 2008 Russia attacked Georgia, and helped the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to secede from Georgia, and the project never materialized.

Map 2 Abkhazia and South Ossetia

Map Abhazia South Ossetia.JPG,_Ossetia,_Russia_and_Abkhazia_(en).svg/2000px-Georgia,_Ossetia,_Russia_and_Abkhazia_(en).svg.png


“White Stream” Wikipedia

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For the first time the White Stream idea was presented by Ukrainian officials in 2005. In 2006–2007, the project was discussed at different international conferences. In May 2007, it was presented at the Vienna gas forum, and on 11 October 2007, it was presented during the summit-level Energy Security Conference in Vilnius.[1] On 28 January 2008, Prime Minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko asked the European Union to consider participating in White Stream project.[2] On 28 May 2008, the European Commission identified the project as ‘Project of Common Interest’ and further flagged as a ‘Priority Project’ (Commission Decision C(2008) 1969 final of 28 May 2008).[3] The Government of Georgia signed a Memorandum of Understanding with White Stream in March 2009.[4]

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The pipeline would branch off from the South Caucasus Pipeline near Tbilisi and run for 133 kilometres (83 mi) via Georgia to Supsa at the Black Sea. From Supsa there are two possible offshore routes. The direct route from Supsa to Constanţa in Romania is 1,105 kilometres (687 mi) long. In this case, the long connection toCrimea would be built at the later stage.[3] Another option is that the pipeline would run to Constanţa through Crimea.[7][8] A 630 kilometres (390 mi) long offshore pipeline would make landfall near Feodosiya.[7] From there, a 215 kilometres (134 mi) long onshore pipeline would cross the Crimea and a 395 kilometres (245 mi) long offshore pipeline would continue to Romania.[9] In Ukraine the pipeline was to be linked to Ukraine’s transit system by 200 kilometres (120 mi) long onshore branch. It would allow to diversify supplies for Poland, Lithuania, and Slovakia.[7]


“Russia-Georgian War”

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The Russo-Georgian War was an armed conflict between GeorgiaRussia, and the Russian-backed self-proclaimed republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.[note 3] The war took place in August 2008 following a period of worsening relations between Russia and Georgia, both formerly constituent republics of the Soviet Union. The fighting took place in the strategically important Transcaucasia region, which borders the Middle East. It was regarded as the first European war of the 21st century.[27]


“Trans-Black sea pipeline can bring Caspian gas to Europe”, December 2006

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The GUEU line is projected to carry 8 billion cubic meters of gas annually in the first phase from Azerbaijan’s giant Shah Deniz offshore field. With at least 1 trillion cubic meters in estimated reserves, Shah Deniz has ample potential for supporting more than the existing Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipeline (BTE) and the planned Turkey-Austria (Nabucco) line. The GUEU pipeline targets Poland via the Black Sea and Ukraine with a relatively modest first-phase volume. Thus, the project in no sense competes with BTE or Nabucco for upstream resources or downstream markets. The GUEU projects offers an additional, necessary outlet for Caspian gas.