A very nice article from the Wall Street Journal, titled “Paris Attacks Suggest Shift in Islamic State’s Strategy”, November 2015. According to the article the Paris terrorist attacks of November 2015 might signal a turn of ISIS strategy. Until now ISIS was not targeting the West, but the Paris attacks might show that this is no longer the case. According to the Wall Street Journal there were some attacks on the West from ISIS sympathizers, but none of them was believed to be orchestrated directly by ISIS. However the Paris attacks were very sophisticated. See “Paris Attacks Suggest Shift in Islamic State’s Strategy”, November 2015.
Map Sunni-Shiite Pipelines
I had already uploaded a document about ISIS and Al Qaeda, on August 2015. See “ISIS VS Al Qaeda”.
I was saying that Al Qaeda is mainly financed by Saudis, and it is not only anti-Shiite, but also anti-American and anti-Western. On the other hand, ISIS, at least until very recently, was only targeting Shiite Muslims and not the West. The main explanation is that ISIS is mainly supported by Turkey, while Al Qaeda is mainly supported from some parts of the Saudi elite. The Saudis, actually the Iranians too, are hurt by the American efforts to bring the oil and natural gas of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan) to the Indian Ocean i.e. Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Pipeline etc.
The Turks are not hurt by such efforts. They would of course prefer to see the oil and gas of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to flow to Turkey, and to Europe through Turkey, but they are not hurt to the degree that the Arabs and the Iranians are hurt. The Arabs and the Iranians sell their oil and gas mainly to Asia.
Turkey on the other hand is hurt by the Iranian and Russian efforts to block the Sunni Pipelines i.e. Turkish-Arab pipelines like the Qatar-Turkey one, and by the Iranian efforts to promote the Shiite pipelines i.e. Iran-Iraq-Syria.
For the United States, Syria is much less important than she is to the Russians, the Iranians, the Arabs and the Turks. That’s why Donald Trump, a candidate for the Republican Party’s presidency, was saying that the US should not interfere in Syria and should let Russia bomb ISIS. See for example CNN’s “Trump: Let Putin fight ISIS in Syria”, September 2015.
For the US, Iraq and Afghanistan are a lot more important than Syria. The American military operations took place in Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003), and not in Syria. In Afghanistan the Sunni Islamists Taliban were blocking the oil and gas of Central Asia to flow to the Indian Ocean. They were of course training many terrorists against the US.
In Iraq, Saddam Hussein, a socialist Sunni Arab, was suppressing the Iraqi Shiite majority, and the Kurds of Northern Iraq, who are very rich in oil and natural gas, and they are natural American allies. Moreover, Saddam Hussein was funding many socialist terrorist organizations which were targeting the US, and he was as anti-American as it comes. Saddam Hussein did not want elections in Iraq, because elections would bring to power the Shiite Iraqi majority. Saddam was using socialism to downgrade religion and offset the advantage of the Shiite majority over the Sunni minority of Iraq. Under Saddam the Sunni minority was running the country, something that changed when he was gone.
The West could not buy Iraqi oil, and could not allow the big western companies to invest in Iraq, because Saddam would use the revenues to finance his army and support terrorist organizations. This problem was gone after Saddam was removed from power. Now the Iraqi oil flows to the international markets, putting downward pressure on oil prices. Donald Trump said that United States should not interfere with Syria, and let the Russians fight ISIS, but he said that the American army should stay in Iraq and fight ISIS in Iraq.
Therefore, for the Turks, until recently, the West was not a main problem. Actually the Turks were expecting their NATO allies to help them overturn Bashar al Assad in Syria and ask for elections. The majority of the Syrian population are Sunni Muslims and therefore the Turks and the Arabs would gain control in the case of free elections. There is of course the thorn of the Syrian Kurds in American-Turkish relations, because the Americans support the Kurds of Syria while the Turks are fighting them. But on the issue of Assad the Turks were expecting a lot more support than they finally got from their NATO allies.
I guess that the minimum that Russia will go for in Syria will be to keep the Syrian coasts under Alawite control. Alawite Muslims are Russian allies and are the majority at the Syrian coasts, as you can see at the following Wikipedia map. With light green you can see the region with Alawite majority at the Syrian costs, and with salmon you can see the regions with Sunni majority. The map is for Syria in 1976, but the situation has not changed much.
Therefore the Russians would not accept a solution with elections, without a prior agreement about how the country would be run, because they know that this would bring Syria under Sunni control, and would put their Alawite allies on the side. Therefore if an agreement cannot be reached, the Russians would prefer the partition of Syria, in order for the Alawites to stay in power at the coasts of Syria. That way the Russians will control the exit of oil and gas to the Mediterranean Sea.
Therefore, at least initially, the Turks were not worrying about the West. On the contrary, Assad was a very close Russian and Iranian ally, and therefore the Americans, who are a strong Turkish ally, and the French, who are a strong Saudi ally, were asking for Assad to step down in order for free elections to take place in Syria. Therefore for ISIS the West was useful, while for Al Qaeda it was an enemy.
For Al Qaeda the West was a problem. The Americans were trying to bring the oil and gas of Central Asia to the Indian Ocean. In addition, after Saddam Hussein’s attack to Kuwait in 1991, the Americans established American military bases in Saudi Arabia, and that infuriated some parts of the Saudi elite. The problem was becoming more intense, because the Americans were reducing their oil imports from the Persian Gulf, and with their military presence they were turning China towards Iran. But China is the client that both the Iranians and the Saudis are counting on for the future.
Moreover, the American military presence in Saudi Arabia was giving a great advantage to Iran, Saudi Arabia’s main rival. The Iranians could accuse the Saudis for being an ally of the “infidel” i.e. the unfaithful. Iranian officials call the United States “the Great Satan”, and the Saudis were collaborating with the “Great Satan”. Moreover, the Arab socialists i.e. Iraq, Syria, Libya etc could also accuse the Saudis for treason due to their alliance with the Americans.
These problems led to a series of terrorist attacks against the United States, with the attack on the Twin Towers in September 2001 being the deadliest and more important one. After the 9/11 attack, in 2002, the United States moved their military bases from Saudi Arabia to Qatar. Qatar was more than happy to accommodate the American bases, because these bases were enhancing Qatar’s security. Qatar is located between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and it feels pressure from both these countries. Qatar does not claim the leadership of the Islamist World, and can deal with disadvantages in the Qatari public opinion, because it is the country with the highest GDP per capita, and has only 2 million very happy citizens. The rest of the people in Qatar are foreigners who simply work there. For the attack on the Twin Towers and the American military bases see “USA, Russia & China in the Middle East : Alliances & Conflicts”.
Therefore you can see how different the interests of ISIS and Al Qaeda are. Moreover there is the issue of oil, because ISIS sends cheap oil to Turkey, from the oilfields that have come under ISIS control in Syria and Iraq. Some of this oil is exported through Turkey’s port of Ceyhan in the Mediterranean Sea. I guess that the Saudis are not happy with that. See “The Oilfields of the Islamic State”.
In addition the Saudis do not accept Turkey as the leader of the Islamic World. As long as Turkey was under the control of the nationalist socialist supporters of Kemal Ataturk, they did not want religion to play a major role in Turkey’s politics. But that changed after the Islamists came to power in 2003. Turkey’s Islamists started trying to become the leader of the Islamic world, and Saudi Arabia was the leader until then. Becoming the leader would give Turkey a greater role in the oil and gas of the Middle East and North Africa. We saw that contrary to what happened with Saudi Arabia, Qatar was very happy to accept Erdogan as the Sultan of the Chaliphate. But Saudi Arabia is a much more important country than Qatar.
Turkey is also the country with the strongest army in the Muslim world. According to Business Insider Turkey has the 8th strongest country in the world. See “The 35 Most Powerful Militaries In The World”, July 2014.
Picture The Strongest Armies in the World
However it seems that gradually the West is becoming a headache for Turkey. There is the issue of oil and gas, but on top of that, Erdogan is transforming Turkey to fascist country, and both the EU and the US are very disappointed with him. Erdogan is closing media that criticize his party, and puts a lot of pressure on the political opposition. Of course Erdogan says that he does that because they are corrupted.
Therefore it seems that the West is constraining Turkey instead of helping her, and as a result ISIS gradually turns against the West. I guess that’s what the Wall Street Journal is trying to say with this article, even though she does not mention the oil and gas interests. However I must say that it is not only the Turks and the Qataris who support ISIS. In all Muslim countries there are ISIS supporters. For example in Nigeria, a country 50% Christian and 50% Muslim, the Sunni terrorist organization Boko Haram aligned itself with the Islamic State, and even changed its name to ISWAP (Islamic State of West African Province). Obviously the members of Boko Haram are not Turks or Qataris. They are Nigerians. But I mainly refer to Turkey, because she is the strongest Muslim country, and Qatar, because Qatar has plenty of liquidity and finances Islamist militants on the battlefields and European socialists in European parliaments.
The Qataris, and all the Arabs, are financing the European left, in order to send Muslim immigrants to Europe. This will give the Muslim world great leverage over European politics. If the Europeans do not buy their oil and gas, and if they dare to bomb their islamist militants, they will have to suffer attacks like the one suffered by France on Friday 13th November 2015. It is no coincidence that ISIS attacked Stade de France too, where there was a game between France and Germany. The Jihadists wanted to send a message to Germany too. It is through Germany that the Russian gas enters Europe (Nord Stream 1).
Now, with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that Russia and Germany are promoting, they will double the Russian natural gas that enters Europe through Germany, from 55 to 110 billion cubic meters per year. Erdogan, together with the communist Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras are sending to Germany hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants.
At the following two tables from the United Nations you can see how the influx of illegal immigrants was affected by the rise to power of the communist party of SYRIZA in Greece. SYRIZA won the Greek elections in January 25th 2015. Three are the dates that really matter for the European immigration crisis. The first one is 2011, when the energy wars (Arab Spring) begin in North Africa and the Middle East. The second one is February 2014, when the leftist Mateo Renzi wins the Italian elections, and opens the Italian borders to illegal immigrants. The third and most important date is January 2015, when the communist Alexis Tsipras wins the Greek elections.
Tsipras, a communist and Islamist ally, completely reversed the immigration policies of Antonis Samaras, who was a patriot, and the influx of illegal immigrants that entered Greece jumped from 75.000 in 2014 to over 600.000 in 2015. And that was at the end of October 2015 and not at year end.. At the end of the year the figures will be even higher. All the problems that the European Union is experiencing with illegal immigration, which have almost led to closed European borders, are caused by the Greek Communists and Erdogan.
I must also say one more thing about France. France and Germany are famous for having problematic relations with Turkey. But France does not only have a problem with Jihadists in the Middle East. France did indeed bomb ISIS oil facilities a few days before the Paris attacks, and that definitely played a role. See for example Yahoo “French strike hits IS oil facility in Syria”, November 2015.
However North Africa is more important than the Middle East for France. France is getting her raw materials mainly from Africa i.e. Algeria, Libya, Niger, Nigeria etc. The French do want to support their Saudi allies in Syria and Iraq, but North Africa is more important for France. France has to fight against ISIS in Northern Africa too. France is fighting both Sunni and Shiite Jihadists in Africa. France has many problems with Iran too. But now I am talking about France and Turkey, and I mainly refer to Turkey because Turkey is the largest Sunni Islamist country. It is difficult for me to imagine that some ISIS members would have slaughtered the French if they knew that Turkey would really disapprove. Therefore what I am saying is not that Erdogan gave the order for the attack. I am only saying that the Paris attacks gives more leverage to Erdogan over Europe.
Map Oil Fields (black) and Natural Gas Fields