Saudi Arabia – Hamas

A very interesting article by Stratfor, titled “Saudi Arabia and Hamas: A Pragmatic Partnership”, July 2015, for the relations between Saudi Arabia and Hamas. Hamas is the Islamist organization that runs Gaza, and it is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood. See map 1.

Picture 1

Capture

http://www-tc.pbs.org/prod-media/newshour/photos/2013/01/21/Israel-travel-map_edit_slideshow.jpg

According to Stratfor, during the last months Saudi Arabia and Hamas have been trying to improve their relations, and it mentions that if Saudi Arabia manages to reestablish her influence over Hamas, she could use Hamas, together with Egypt and Israel, in order to contain Iran in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Please note that Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel, they all face two common enemies i.e. Turkey and Iran. According to Stratfor, in 2000 Saudi Arabia was providing almost 50% of Hamas financing, but due to Hamas suicide bombings in Israel, many western countries started focusing on Hamas, and Saudi Arabia decided to gradually loosen her ties with the organization.

In 2007 Saudi Arabia tried to mediate in order for a coalition government to be formed between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in West bank, but that did not work out, and Iran found a chance to increase its control over Hamas. Iran became Hamas main supporter until 2012, when Hamas decided to support the Sunni Islamists in Syria, who were fighting Bashar al Assad, the main Iranian ally. From that moment Hamas came mainly under the influence of Turkey and Qatar, without ever completely breaking her ties with Iran.

Picture 2

Hamas West bank.JPG

I must also add that Fatah is the political wing of the organization that was established by Yasser Arafat many decades ago. Fatah and Hamas, even though they are both Palestinian political organizations, they do not get along very well, because Hamas is an Islamist organization while Fatah is a socialist organization. In North Africa and the Middle East the most common political division is between Islamists and socialists. Both of them are Muslims and they believe in Islam, but Islamists believe that the state should according to the Islamic Law i.e. Sharia Law and the Koran, while socialists believe in a secular state, and they believe that Islam should have a secondary role, and not be involved in the way the state is run. Muamar Gaddafi in Libya, Bashar al Assad in Syria, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and many others, were all socialist leaders. On the other hand the leadership of Turkey today i.e. Erdogan, the leadership of Saudi Arabia, of Qatar, of the United Arab Emirates and of Iran, they are all leaderships of the Islamist type today.

For Hamas and Fatah see also the following Wall Street Journal article, titled “5 Things You Need to Know About Hamas and Fatah”, August 2014.

http://blogs.wsj.com/briefly/2014/08/27/5-things-you-need-to-know-about-hamas-and-fatah/

I will now get back to Stratfor’s article. The article mentions the recent visit of Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Hamas, to Saudi Arabia, in an attempt to persuade the Saudis to partially cooperate with Iran against ISIS i.e. the Islamic State. Stratfor does not mention it, but it is a well known fact that ISIS main supporter is Turkey. That does not mean of course that Turkey and ISIS are the same thing. It simply means that the country with the greatest influence in ISIS is Turkey.

The growing presence of ISIS in Gaza is a problem for Hamas, because Turkey has no motive to help Hamas against the Islamic State, because Hamas is influenced by Iran too, while there is no Iranian influence in ISIS. That’s why Hamas is asking the Saudis to cooperate with their great enemy, the Iranians, against ISIS, because ISIS i.e. Turkey, is a threat to both Iran and Saudi Arabia. For the confrontation between ISIS and Hamas in Gaza see the following BBC article, titled “Can Hamas hold back Islamic State in Gaza?”, June 2015.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-33110099

The article also mentions the problems that could arise for Saudi Arabia if she finally decides to support Hamas against ISIS. One problem would be that the relations between Saudi Arabia and Fatah in West Bank could deteriorate, and Iran could get a chance to approach Fatah. Another problem, according to Stratfor, is that if Saudi Arabia starts funding Hamas, and Hamas keep attacking Egypt and Israel, Saudi Arabia could have problems with Egypt and Israel.

One could wonder how would it be possible for Hamas to receive funding from Saudi Arabia, and at the same time keep attacking Egypt and Israel, since the two countries cooperate with Saudi Arabia against Turkey and Iran. Things are not simple. Let’s say that today Hamas receives 1.000 euro from Turkey, Iran and Qatar, some of it in the form of money and some of it in the form of armaments. Now let’s suppose that Saudi Arabia pays Hamas another 1.000 euro annually. Now Saudi Arabia would provide 50% of Hamas funding, and therefore Iran, Turkey and Qatar would still have influence over Hamas. Besides Hamas has its own agenda.

Therefore if under the new circumstances Hamas kept attacking Israel and Egypt from Gaza, even if the attacks were less frequent due to Saudi influence, these attacks would be carried out by a war machine with an annual budget of 2.000 euros annually, and half of it would be Saudi money. Therefore the attacks against Israel and Egypt would be partially financed by Saudi Arabia, and that would be a huge problem for the relations between Israel and Egypt with Saudi Arabia.

I must also add a different perspective for the relation between Hamas and Saudi Arabia. If at some point Egypt or Israel improve their relations with Turkey, Saudi Arabia could use Hamas in Gaza to attack them, exactly in the same way that Turkey and Iran are doing now. Don’t forget that Israel was one of Turkey’s closest allies just a few years ago, and Egypt, under the leadership of Mohamed Morsi in 2012, became an ally of Turkey too, until Morsi was overtuned by General al-Sisi. Therefore one should not take today’s alliances for granted.

For Stratfor’s article see the following link:

“Saudi Arabia and Hamas: A Pragmatic Partnership”, 25η Ιουλίου 2015

https://www.stratfor.com/analysis/saudi-arabia-and-hamas-pragmatic-partnership?utm_source=paidlist-a&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=*|DATE:|*&utm_content=Daily+Intelligence+Brief%3A+July+27%2C+2015

Picture 3

israel gaza west bank

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Poland in a Possible Franco-German War

As you can see at the following map, Poland is the only way that can be used by a large European army, in order to march towards Russia, or by a large Russian army in order to march towards Europe. See map 1.

Picture 1

Χάρτης Ευρώπης 1

http://www.geoatlas.com/medias/maps/Europe%20and%20EU/Europe%20XL/Eu54ro8pe97X6L/EUROPE_XL_phy.jpg

The green area in Northern Europe is called the Northern European Plain, and it is a corridor that can be used by an army in order to avoid the Alps and the Carpathian Mountains. See map 2.

Picture 2

Χάρτης Καρπάθια Όρη και Άλπεις

https://mrgrayhistory.wikispaces.com/file/view/E_Middle_Ages_-_Map.jpg/244130101/929×850/E_Middle_Ages_-_Map.jpg

The Northern European Plain is basically a gateway to Russia and a gateway to Europe. That’s the route used by Napoleon the Great in 1812, when he decided to invade Russia. That’s the reason that under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 the Nazis and the Communists agreed that Russia would take half of Poland, and also Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia and Finland. See map 3.

Picture 3

Χάρτης Molotov Ribbentrop3

It was necessary for Russia to control Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, in order to be able to protect her borders from Germany. You can see from map 1 that once the Northern European Plain is passed, a much larger corridor can be used by an army, in order to reach Russia. That corridor increases from 500 kilometers to 5.000 kilometers, making it much harder for a Russian army to protect the Russian borders. That’s why Hitler had to allow Stalin to control half of Poland, together with the Baltic States and Finland, in order to lure him into a deal. In September 1st 1939 the Nazis marched into Poland, and in September 17th of 1939 the Communists marched into Poland too.

However when Hitler decided that the oil that was sent to Germany by Stalin was not enough, and he decided Germany had to take control of the oil of Baku in the Caspian Sea, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was not enough to save Stalin, because the Russian army did not manage to stop the Germans in Poland. The Russians managed to stop the Russians in Stalingrad, a long way down the road. During this war England and the US were constantly supplying the Russians with arms through the Middle East, which was under the allies’ control. See map 4.

Picture 4

WWII4

Because of her great geostrategic importance, in the past Poland has been destroyed many times, and that’s why the Polish people are pro-Americans, and they do not trust neither the Germans nor the Russians. When the Germans and the Russians agreed on the construction of the German-Russian natural gas pipeline, the Nord Stream Pipeline, which would connect Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea, the Polish were very worried.

A Polish minister publicly criticized this agreement, and compared it to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939, as you can read at the following article from the German Spiegel, titled “Indirect Hitler Comparison: Polish Minister Attacks Schröder and Merkel”, May 2006. Today, like in 1939, the Russians supply the Germans with energy, and the Germans supply the Russians with manufactured goods. And given how autocratic Russia has become under Putin, no one can say that the Polish people are worrying too much, or without a good reason. In an effort to make things worse, Putin defended the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 2011, as you can read at the following article from the Financial Times, titled “Putin’s defence of Soviet-Nazi pact ramps up security tensions”, November 2014.

The problem is that the following situation has arisen in Europe. In order to allow the unification of Germany, France required a common currency, in order to make sure that the German economy would not be able to run much faster than the French one. The French can use the printing of new euros, in order to basically buy German goods for free. For an excellent description of the struggle between the French and the Germans for the euro see “The Tragedy of the Euro” by Philip Bagus. You can get a free copy at the following address.

https://mises.org/library/tragedy-euro

The problem is that if at some point the Germans are tired of subsidizing the French, the eurozone might break, and that could lead to the break of the European Union too. Under such a scenario a world war could not be ruled out, with Germany siding with Russia and China, and France siding with the US and England. Poland knows full well that under this a scenario, the first thing that the Germans and the Russians would do, would be to consolidate Poland, in order to block NATO access to Russia. The Polish constantly ask from NATO as much military support as possible, in order to be able to stop a potential Russian attack, but they know that if they were to find themselves between the Russians and the Germans they would have no chance.

As you can see in map 1, the other route that NATO can use to reach Russia, Poland excluded, is Finland and the Baltic States i.e. Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. That’s why Putin warned that if Finland ever decides to join NATO the Third World War might break out, as you can read at the following article of Norway Today, titled “Russia warns Finland against joining NATO”, June 2014. Maybe Finland is for Russia even more important than Poland, because if a world war break out Poland will find itself encircled between Russia and Germany, which is not the case with Finland.

Please note that the map of Europe in 1939 was different from the one today, as you can see in map 5.

Picture 5

Χάρτης 1939 Εικόνα 5

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Europe_1939_4_copy.png

For the Spiegel article see:

“Indirect Hitler Comparison: Polish Minister Attacks Schröder and Merkel”, May 2006

http://www.spiegel.de/international/indirect-hitler-comparison-polish-minister-attacks-schroeder-and-merkel-a-413969.html

For the Financial Times article see:

“Putin’s defence of Soviet-Nazi pact ramps up security tensions”, November 2014

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/31b36724-65da-11e4-a454-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3hFsay1Mb

For the Norway Today article see:

“Russia warns Finland against joining NATO”, June 2014

http://norwaytoday.info/home_view.php?id=11410

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Russia vs Siberia

A very interesting article by Newsweek, titled “The Separatist Threat to Putin’s Mother Russia From the East”, July 2015, about the relations between Moscow and Siberia. Siberia is a Russian territory that extends from the Ural Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. See first map.

Picture 1

Siberia

According to Newsweek the Siberians feel neglected, and they believe that Moscow does not really care about a region that is so rich in resources. In 2012 Siberia contributed 130 billion rubbles to the Russian tax revenues, but during the same period the Russian state only invested 10 billion rubbles in Siberia. Siberia constitutes 77% of the Russian land, but only 40 from the 140 million of the Russian population leaves in Siberia. As early as 1892 the Siberians raised the issue of autonomy, saying that Russia has treated Siberia as a colony.

According to Newsweek the Siberians are very disappointed with Putin’s increasingly centralized policies that remove power from the Siberians towards Moscow. In 2011 a pro-Siberian rally was organized in Siberia asking for Siberia’s autonomy, and the slogan was “Stop Feeding Moscow”. The Siberian youth increasingly use the expression “I am Siberian”. In August 2014 a pro-Siberian demonstration was organized, but it was banned by the Russian government and many from the organizers were arrested.

I must also add that Siberia is very rich in oil and natural gas. As you can see at the following map from an article of the Energy Information Administration, titled “Russia looks beyond West Siberia for future oil and natural gas growth”, September 2014, West Siberia holds 62% of the Russian oil reserves, East Siberia holds 6%, and the coasts of the Pacific Ocean in East Siberia hold another 4% of the Russian oil reserves. Please note that Russia and Japan argue about their exclusive economic zones in the Pacific Ocean. Moreover West Siberia holds 89% of the Russian natural gas reserves, East Siberia holds 1% and the coasts of the Pacific Ocean in East Siberia hold another 4% of the Russian natural gas reserves as you can see at the EIA map. See map 2.

Picture 2

Russia's Oil and Gas Fields

http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=18051

One could imagine that an independent Siberia would be good for the European and American interests, but this is not true at all. An independent Siberia would be in very bad terms with Russia and the Russian oil and natural gas would be blocked from reaching Europe. Under this unlikely scenario China would emerge as Siberia’s patron. The Europeans and the Americans are far away from Siberia. Also note that the two natural gas pipelines that were agreed between the Russians and the Chinese in 2014, the Altai Pipeline and the Power of Siberia Pipeline, would use natural gas from West and East Siberia. See picture 3

Picture 3

Power of Siberia and Altai Pipeline

It might sound strange but the American, the European and the Russian interests are closely aligned. The Americans were hoping that Russia would become a democratic country which would supply Europe with oil and natural gas, in order to decrease Europe’s dependence in the Middle East and the Caspian Sea. Moreover Russia could protect Europe so that the Americans could concentrate on their main geopolitical rival i.e. China.

But Russia would need to be second in the hierarchy, because Russia was never a democratic country. If at some point Russia becomes a democracy, like the other countries of the European Union, then she could become the number one in Europe. But until Russia can prove that she has been transformed to a democracy, she has to accept American leadership. Because there is simply no other way that things can be done.

Unfortunately Putin is taking Russia back where she was under the communism. Except that Putin is using a national socialist model instead of a communist one, because he needs to use Slavism and Christianity in order to push the Russian energy policy in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. The Russian communists banned religion because at the time Russia had the rich in oil and natural gas countries of Central Asia under her control i.e. Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan.

These countries are Muslim countries and the Russian communists banned religion so that the Arabs, the Turks and the Iranians could not use Islam to exert influence over their populations. But now Russia dos not have these countries, and Putin needs Slavism and Christianity to promote his policies in East Europe and the Balkans.

For the Newsweek article see

http://www.newsweek.com/separatist-threat-putins-mother-russia-east-356840

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Pakistan vs Taliban

A very nice article by the National Interest, titled “The Taliban Comes to the Table: Could the Afghan War Finally Wind Down?”, July 2015. The article refers to Pakistan’s effort to bring peace in Afghanistan.

Picture 1

Taliban Map

Before referring to the article I have to describe the geopolitical landscape of Pakistan. There are three main economic factors that shape the Pakistani geopolitical landscape. The first one is the red blot in the Persian Gulf, which represents the largest natural gas field in the world, the South Pars/North Field, which is jointly owned by Iran and Qatar, and which holds approximately 50 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. Iran wants to send that gas to Pakistan, through the Iran-Pakistan natural gas, and from there to China. Iran could do that together with Qatar, if the two countries manage to work things out.

The second economic factor is the red blot in East Turkmenistan, which represents the second largest natural gas field in the world, the Galkynysh, which holds approximately 20 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. Turkmenistan, Pakistan and India, supported by the US, want to send this natural gas to India and the Indian Ocean through the TAPI pipeline (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India). For the time being Turkmenistan it totally dependent on China, because only China can buy the Turkmen gas. Iran and Russia block the Trans-Caspian pipeline which could send the Turkmen natural gas to Europe through Turkey.

The third economic factor that shapes the Pakistani geopolitical landscape is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which is promoted by China, and it is part of the New Silk Roads which are promoted by China, and it involves investments of over 40 billion dollars. The New Silk Roads refer to a network of highways, railways, ports and pipelines which are promoted by China. China wants to use this network in order to receive raw materials from other countries, and in order to export her products to the rest of the world too.

Picture 2

Taliban Map

Pakistan is at the epicenter of these three mega-projects. These projects can really change Pakistan, since Pakistan is the only country that is involved in all three of them. The problem is that these projects require political stability, something that Pakistan cannot offer. Pakistan is supported by the US and China in its effort to bring political stability in a very volatile region, in order to promote the Pakistani economic interests too.

In Afghanistan terrorism is a daily routine. The same is true in Pakistan that had over 3.300 victims from terrorist attacks only in 2009. Besides terrorism, there is a lot of hostility between Pakistan and India, two traditional rivals. India is very suspicious about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, because it will make China a country of two oceans, Pacific and Indian Oceans, and it will allow China to encircle India. Pakistan and India have been for many years cooperating against India and this can only become worse after China will develop the Pakistani port of Gwadar.

India says that the new economic corridor should wait until the Kashmir issue is resolved first. Kashmir is the region between China, Pakistan and India, and the three countries have territorial disputes over this region. That’s why some maps show Kashmir as a separate region. However the parts of Kashmir controlled by Pakistan and China unite Pakistan and China geographically.

I must also say a few words about Pakistan’s old and new alliances. During the 80s, when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, Pakistan was fighting the Soviets on the side of the US, the Arabs and the Turks. During the civil war in the 90s the Pakistanis, together with the Arabs, supported the Taliban. When the Taliban took Kabul in 1996 and declared their own government in Afghanistan, Pakistan was one of the three countries in the world, together with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, that recognized the Taliban government.

In the past, Pakistan’s alliance with the Arabs made Pakistan an enemy of Iran. However things are different today. Due to the economic cooperation between Pakistan, Iran and China, Pakistan wants to adopt a more neutral stance towards the Arabs and the Iranians. That was clearly demonstrated by Pakistan’s refusal to take part in war that broke out recently between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Yemen. Moreover Pakistan had traditionally good relations with the Americans, with whom Pakistan cooperated against the Soviets, and Pakistan had also very good relations with the Chinese, with whom Pakistan cooperated against India.

The above are a summary of Pakistan’s geopolitical landscape, and of Pakistan’s old and new alliances. Today Pakistan is acting exactly as one would expect, moving within this geopolitical framework. The Pakistanis, contrary to the Arabs and the Iranians, want peace in Afghanistan, because they want the TAPI pipeline to be constructed. Moreover, contrary to the Turks, who support the Islamists of Xinjiang, Pakistan wants peace in Xinjiang in order for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to proceed smoothly.

Picture 3

Xinjiang 2

Note that Xinjiang is a Chinese province (see map), where the Muslim Uyghurs constitute almost 50% of the population. The East Turkestan Islamist Movement operates in Xinjiang by the Uyghurs, and it is supported by Turkey, but it is combated by China and Pakistan. See also “Anti-China sentiment is suddenly sweeping over Turkey”, July 2015

http://www.businessinsider.com/china-turkey-uighurs-2015-7?nr_email_referer=1&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Business%20Insider%20Select&utm_campaign=BI%20Select%20%28Tuesday%20Thursday%29%202015-07-21&utm_content=BISelect

Xinjiang is a very important region because the pipelines that carry the Turkmen gas and the Kazakh oil to China have to cross Xinjiang. Moreover one of the two pipelines that were agreed between the Chinese and the Russians, the Altai Pipeline, has to pass through Xinjiang too.

Therefore today Pakistan has its own separate geopolitical agenda, and in order to promote its own economic interests Pakistan has to work with the US and China in order to promote political stability. Therefore Pakistan is trying to bring the Taliban to the table of negotiations, and it is also cooperating with China on the issue of Xinjiang. But that brings Pakistan on the other side of the Arabic, Iranian and Turkish interests. At the National Interest article that I mentioned in the beginning, you can read about the Pakistani efforts to force Taliban to make peace with the Afghan government. As expected this causes tensions withing the Taliban teams, and there are some members leaving the Taliban for ISIS, there are Taliban teams that are separated etc.

All these are very normal, since one would expect the Arabs, the Iranians and the Turks to push the Islamists to keep fighting in Afghanistan and Xinjiang. One must also take into account the following. If the Turkmen gas manages to find its way to the India Ocean, the Kazakh oil could follow. Therefore this is not only a natural gas war. It is also an oil war. Anyway, if you read the article you can see that each player is moving exactly as expected. And one should not be surprised to hear that there is so much terrorism within Pakistan. For the National Interest article see:

“The Taliban Comes to the Table: Could the Afghan War Finally Wind Down?”, του Ιουλίου 2015

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/the-taliban-comes-the-table-could-the-afghan-war-finally-13379

For the oil and natural gas fields of the Middle East and the Caspian Sea see also the following map from Columbia University

Χάρτης Πετρελαίου και Φυσικού Αερίου της Μέσης Ανατολής

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Turkey-Iran

A very nice article by Al Monitor, titled “How Turkey Really Feels about the Iran Deal”, July 2015. The article examines how Turkey sees the agreement about Iran’s nuclear program, which will allow Iran, after many years of isolation, to reconnect to the Western world.

Picture 1

Islamic State Map

The article says that Turkey sees the agreement positively, because she expects economics benefits from it. Obviously it will be a great benefit for the Turkish economy if Iran finally sends its natural gas to Europe through Turkey. I must add that Turkey has helped Iran a great deal during its negotiations with the West for obvious reasons. However the article also mentions that Turkey worries with the possibility of Iran rising to a regional power. A statement made by the Turkish Foreign Minister says it all. After the agreement was reached about the Iranian nuclear program, Melvut Cavusoglu said that Iran must play a constructive role in Iraq and Syria. And the Al Monitor article wonders what will happen if Iran does not care to play a constructive role in Iraq and Syria?

The truth is that Turkey worries about the dramatic improvement in the relations between USA and Iran. Maybe Turkey did not see that coming. Recently the Americans and the Iranians were fighting ISIS together. Taking into account that Turkey exerts a lot of influence on ISIS, this could be seen as an indirect war between the Americans and the Iranians on one hand, and the Turks and some Arabs on the other. That’s a total conversion of the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East.

It is true that Turkey wanted an agreement to be reached between Iran and the West, but she also hoped that in the meantime the Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad would be overturn. Turkey was hoping that Assad would be forced to go to elections and that Turkey and the Arabs would manage to take Syria away from the Iranian influence. Syria’s Muslim population is predominantly Sunni, like it is the case with Turkey and most Arab countries, while Assad is an Alawite. Alawites are an offshoot of Shiite Islam, and Shiite Muslims are the overwhelming majority of the Iranian population.

We therefore saw in Syria a very strange thing happening. In the beginning the Americans were pushing for Assad’s overturn, and the Russians were helping the Iranians to keep Assad in power. But as the agreement about Iran’s nuclear program was approaching, and as the American-Turkish relations were deteriorating, the Americans were becoming less willing to overturn Assad, and the Russians were becoming less willing to support Assad.

For the Russians Assad is usefull as long as Iran is a Russian ally, because Syria’s main ally is Iran. If Iran becomes an American ally, and starts selling its oil and natural gas to Europe, harming Russian interests, then Assad might even become a problem for Russia. If Iran becomes an American ally, Russia would prefer Syria to be controlled by Turkey. Because no matter how antagonistic the relationship between Russia and Turkey is, Turkey needs Russia, since she buys from Russia most of her natural gas. Note that in Ukraine, which is not important for the Turkish energy policy, Turkey remained silent, even though she is a prominent NATO member. Iran on the other hand, if it starts selling its oil and natural gas to Europe might not need Russia at all. Iran might even see Russia as an opponent.

Therefore one should expect that the more the American-Iranian relations improve, and the more the Turkish-American relations deteriorate, the less Russia will be willing to keep Assad in power. See also Russia Direct “Is Russia finally turning its back on Assad”?, June 2015.

http://www.russia-direct.org/analysis/russia-finally-turning-its-back-assad

Under the new geopolitical landscape Turkey’s geopolitical significance deteriorate, because if Iran is supported by the US, it might be able to hold the Iran-Iraq-Syria line, and export its oil and natural gas to Europe avoiding Turkey. That is if Turkey and Iran do not manage to work things out. It is useful to try to see thing from the point of view of the US. What is for sure is that the optimal solution for the Americans is for Iran to send its oil and natural gas to Europe through Turkey.  But let’s take the scenario that the Turks and the Iranians do not manage to work things out. There are thee other options, as you can see on the following map.

Picture 2

Islamic State Map

The first one is the Southern Energy Corridor, the green line, the second one is the East Med Pipeline, the red line, and the third one is the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline, the purple line. The Southern Energy Corridor is the only one that can avoid the sea, but it is difficult to supply it with gas and oil without Iran, since Iran and Russia block the Trans-Caspian pipeline which could send Kazakh and Turkmen oil and gas to Turkey and Europe, avoiding Iran and Russia. Moreover Turkey is not for the US the ally that she once was.  Finally in the Balkans the Russians have a lot of influence and can cause problems to the Southern Energy Corridor, like they are already doing.

The East Med pipeline i.e. Israel-Cyprus-Greece, has less than two trillion cubic meters of natural gas and almost no oil. Therefore either Saudi Arabia or Qatar would have to join this pipeline. But Qatar is Turkey’s closest ally, and together they fight Israel from Gaza. Saudi Arabia on the other hand has an alliance with Israel against the Iranians, and that could be a possibility. Moreover, Jordan, the country that lies between Israel and Saudi Arabia, has good relations with Israel, and she is one of the two Arab countries that have ever singed a peace treaty with Israel, after Israel’s creation in 1948. Egypt is the other one that singed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979. Jordan signed the peace treaty in 1994. Even Saudi Arabia, which unofficially cooperates with Israel against Iran and Turkey, does not officially recognize Israel.

However under this scenario, Turkey and Iran would attack Jordan, and it could be very difficult for Israel and Saudi Arabia to protect Jordan. Israel and Saudi Arabia are already trying very hard to prevent ISIS from taking Jordan. If ISIS takes Syria, it will be like Turkey infiltrating between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and the two countries are already facing Turkey in many other places. You can also read International Business Times, “Fighting ISIS: Kings of Jordan, Saudi Arabia Meeting To Discuss Terrorism, Regional Conflicts”, February 2015, about the Saudi and the Jordanian efforts to keep ISIS away from Jordan and Saudi Arabia. http://www.ibtimes.com/fighting-isis-kings-jordan-saudi-arabia-meeting-discuss-terrorism-regional-conflicts-1827822

Having said all that, one might argue that maybe for the Americans the best solution is the Iran-Iraq-Syria line. That is of course leaving aside the Iran-Turkey-Europe solution which is without doubt the best one. Under this scenario the Americans and the Iranians would have to fight the Turks, the Arabs and the Russians. But given the rise of the Iranian economy and the Iranian army that will follow Iran’s nuclear agreement, the Iranians, supported by the Americans could clear the Iran-Iraq-Syria corridor. Maybe yes maybe not. I don’t know.

I must say that I am just guessing, because it is very difficult to say with accuracy which option will turn out to be the best one. What can be said for sure is that the option Iran-Turkey-Europe is the best one for the Americans, and that the Americans would be crazy to waste the option Iran-Iraq-Syria, by helping Turkey to take control of Syria, because that would give Turkey the power to blackmail the Americans and the EU, as she has already done in the past.

For the Al Monitor article see

“How Turkey Really Feels about the Iran Deal”, July 2015

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/07/turkey-iran-greece-european-union-geopolitical-parenthesis.html

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Turkey vs China

Very interesting article by Business Insider, titled “Anti-China sentiment is suddenly sweeping over Turkey”, July 2015. The article refers to the attacks that take place in Turkey against Chinese tourists and Chinese businesses, in retaliation to the mistreatment of the Uyghur population of China’s Xinjiang province by the Chinese government. For Xinjiang see following map.

Picture 1

Xin Jiang

The Uyghours are Muslims and constitute approximately 50% of the Xinjiang population. The Sunni Islamists of the terrorist organization of “East Turkestan Islamic Movement” operate in Xinjiang. One could assume that the Islamists of Xinjiang are supported by the Turks, the Arabs and the Persians (Iranians). The Xinjiang province is of great geopolitical importance for China, because the pipelines that carry Kazakhstan’s oil and Turkmenistan’s natural gas to China cross Xinjiang. Moreover the extension of the new Iran-Pakistan pipeline which is promoted by China and Iran will have to cross Xinjiang too. Finally one of the two pipelines that were agreed between Russia and China, the Altai pipeline, will cross Xinjiang too. See map 2.

Picture 2

Xinjiang 2

Therefore it is very natural for the Arabs, the Turks and the Iranians, but also for the Americans, to be interested in the Uyghours. The Arabs and the Iranians care about the Uyghours because they can use them to remind China that she should not forget them when she buys oil and natural gas, but also in order to cause problems to the Russian pipeline. The Turks care about the Uyghours because they can use them to ask China for favors, in exchange for using their influence over the Islamists in Xinjiang. China is one of the largest global investors, and Turkey definitely craves for Chinese investments. Finally the Americans care about the Uyghours because they could be used against China in a potential war between the US and China.

For the article see:

http://www.businessinsider.com/china-turkey-uighurs-2015-7?nr_email_referer=1&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Business%20Insider%20Select&utm_campaign=BI%20Select%20%28Tuesday%20Thursday%29%202015-07-21&utm_content=BISelect

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The American-Russian Cooperation in the Afghanistan War

On the first map from Columbia University, you can see with black blots the oil fields and with red blots the natural gas fields of the Middle East and the Caspian Sea.

Picture1

Χάρτης Πετρελαίου και Φυσικού Αερίου της Μέσης Ανατολής

The large red blot in the Persian Gulf is the South Pars/North Fields gas field, the largest natural gas field in the world, which holds 50 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, and it is jointly owned by Qatar and Iran. Qatar owns approximately 2/3 and Iran 1/3 of the field. The red blot at the south-east Turkmenistan, is the second largest gas field in the world, the Galkynysh, which holds 21 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. Iran is the second richest country in the world in terms of natural gas reserves, Qatar is the third, and Turkmenistan is the fourth. Below you can see the richest countries in natural gas reserves in the world from Wikipedia.

Picture 2

Πλουσιότερες χώρες σε αποθέματα Φυσικού Αερίου

The Americans want to send the natural gas of the Galkynysh of Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and South Asia through the TAPI pipeline (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India). The Iranians and the Qataris want to send the natural gas of South Pars to Pakistan, India and China, through the Iran-Pakistan pipeline, or any other pipelines. These two huge gas fields play a very important role for the wars in Afghanistan and the instability of Pakistan.

The Qataris and the Iranians are killing each other in Syria and Iraq, but they have common interests in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The same is true in Gaza, where they both support Hamas against Israel, because Israel agreed to sell natural gas to Egypt and Jordan. Iran and Qatar have also cooperated in Libya, where together with Turkey, they fight the Egyptian President al Sisi, who is supported by Saudi Arabia and Russia. Turkey, Iran and Qatar want the Muslim Brotherhood to come back to power in Egypt.

But in Afghanistan, all the Arabs and the Iranians want to block the TAPI pipeline, or any other pipeline which will bring the natural gas and oil of Central Asia to South Asia, because both the Arabs and the Iranians count on Asia for their exports. That’s why the Iranians support the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Talibans have been traditionally supported by the Arabs and the Pakistanis, and they have been a great rival for the Iranians. But now the Taliban block the TAPI pipeline, and that’s good for the Iranians too. As you can read at the following article of Wall Street Journal, titled της Wall Street Journal με τίτλο “Iran Backs Taliban With Cash and Arms”, June 2015, the Iranians give money and arms to the Taliban.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/iran-backs-taliban-with-cash-and-arms-1434065528

For the Russians on the other hand, the TAPI pipeline is a good thing, or at least it is not a problem, because the Russians do not want Turkmenistan to send its natural gas to Europe, which is the market that Russia counts on for her exports. If Turkmenistan is busy sending its gas to South Asia and China it will be very difficult to send any gas to Europe. Moreover, the American attack on the Taliban was a good thing for Russia. The Sunni Islamists Taliban are an Arab and Pakistani ally, and a traditional rival of Russia. In the 80s, it was the Taliban who fought the Russians, when Russia invaded Afghanistan.

Back then the Talibans were supported by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United States. Therefore for the Russians it is a very good thing to see the Americans attacking the Talibans. That’s why the Russians allowed the Americans to use Russia in order to support their operations in Afghanistan. However, after the crisis in Ukraine, the Russians told the Americans that they can no longer use Russia to supply their army in Afghanistan, as you can read at the following article from the Russian state owned RT (Russia Today), titled “Russia stops transit of NATO military cargo to Afghanistan”, May 2015.

http://rt.com/news/259809-russia-stops-nato-afghanistan-cargo/

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