Where America’s true goals lie in the Middle East
New Eastern Outlook
After State Secretary John Kerry’s visit to Iraq, it became crystal clear that Washington does not intend to thrust its armed forces into the present Iraqi conflict and is ready to accept the scenario of the break-up of this country into 3 pieces – Kurdish, Shiite and Sunnite. For the US, it is currently more important to further inflame its tensions with Russia to undermine the foundations of the present Russian government and to weaken its economy by using the Ukrainian conflict. At the same time, the White House sincerely wants to drag Iran into an armed conflict in Iraq, to firstly plunge Teheran into an inter-ethnic and inter-confessional conflict there and to then blame Teheran for interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign Arab nation, and then demanding the UN Security Council invoke the appropriate measures in accordance with Chapter 7 of the UN Charter which allows the use of force. Meanwhile, it would also force Iran into new financial and economic sanctions which would perhaps even include its nuclear program and put the country’s missile program and other armed developments under control like it happened with Resolution 687 of the UN Security Council, invoked against Baghdad under Saddam Hussein after Iraq’s aggression against Kuwait.
Washington’s plan for using the Iraqi conflict to prevent any sudden increase of oil exports from Iraq and Iran is thus clear as day. After all, both of these countries could increase exports up to 20 million barrels per day within 5-6 years. This would crash global oil prices for the main oil exporter and main American partner in the region, Saudi Arabia, with the subsequent downfall of the presently aged Saud monarchy and the possible breakaway of the Shiite Eastern Province from the Saudi kingdom, where practically all of the Saudi oil is produced. No less than 70% of all oil exports from the Persian Gulf would then be controlled by the “Shiite Crescent” nations and headed by Iran.
Furthermore, the US also wants to begin exporting its own oil, which is why they don’t need competition at all. Incidentally, imposing new sanctions against Iran would allow the west to also shelf any plans for developing this country’s gas industry and the Southern Pars deposit in particular. This means that the Qatari regime will remain the main supplier of liquefied gas in the Persian Gulf while the Americans will continue to impose their projects of exporting its liquefied shale gas into Europe.
It is evident that there is a battle for restructuring the oil and gas market in the world and it is currently being waged by the White House through the conflicts in Ukraine and Iraq. To maintain its hegemony, the United States, which import only 3% of its oil needs from Iraq, needs to ensure control over all exports from this region as well as over the consumption for its competitors: Europe, China, Japan and India. This makes it clear why Washington has currently relegated the Iraqi conflict to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, which are openly calling for the retirement of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and are offering various kinds of support to the Sunnite tribes of Iraq and their armed militias, which includes the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The advance of these forces, supported by Turkey and Saudi Arabia, coincides with the almost successful first round of American-Iranian negotiations on the nuclear problem. To contain Iran by using Syria and Iraq is the true goal of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel.
However, after they started to understand the clever American ploys, Teheran was not too quick to advance large armed forces into Iraq. The Iranian leadership seems to have calculated the possible consequences of such an intervention. The protection of holy Shiite grounds in Karbala, Najaf and Samarra is very important for Teheran, yet the survival of the present Iranian regime and the breakaway from western financial and economic sanctions through negotiations on the nuclear program are much more important. The Iranians also understand that Israel can launch a missile and bomb strike on Iranian nuclear facilities at any moment, especially if its army is preoccupied with the war in Iraq. Yet President Rouhani was ready to fall into this trap to the sweet tune sung by American politicians, announcing that he would take up the protection of Shiite holy grounds in Iraq in the event that they are attacked by Sunnite armed militia.
It should be noted that the visit of the State Secretary coincided with the days when the insurgents from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and their allies from Sunnite armed groups took control over two key border outposts, one on the border with Syria and another on the border with Jordan. The goal announced by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant of asserting an Islamic nation on the territory of Iraq and Syria is thus beginning to take shape. This is why Kerry’s visit can be seen more as pressure being exerted by the American administration on the Iraqi authorities. Washington believes that the government headed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki needs to resign in the interests of the country’s future, which could otherwise break apart into a Sunnite, Shiite and Kurdish part. Although it is doubtful that even changing the Shiite-majority government in Baghdad for a cabinet representing the interests of all large communities in Iraq would force the insurgents from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and their allies to abandon their plans of taking Baghdad and creating a Sunnite jihad nation.
Other factors are also quite indicative of the present situation. For example, on June 20, when the Iraqis were openly killing other Iraqis, Israel received its first shipment of crude oil from the Iraqi Kurdistan. This is the evidence for the new political situation that has emerged in the region which raises many questions regarding what is happening in Iraq and who is influencing it from the shadows. Taking into the account the high offensive efficiency and organisation of the roughly 8,000 insurgents in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant who arrived from the border regions in Syria and Turkey (a NATO member-state that houses and arms them), as well as the breadth of their advance, which is occurring at a time when 7,500 American military instructors and 300,000 Iraqi military who were taught by American and NATO instructors are displaced within the country, one is tempted to ask Back Obama a certain question: is this and other like armed groups included in the American network of “those left behind” in the Middle East to carry out various White House tasks in the future? Another noteworthy factor is the similarities between the actions of the Euromaidan supporters in Ukraine and the “rebels” in Iraq and Syria. It appears that they were taught by the same instructors: the intelligence services in the US, Great Britain, other NATO countries, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
The present escalation of violence in Iraq as a large supplier of energy resources and Moscow’s enactment of pre-payment for Russian gas being supplied to Ukraine are also no mere coincidences, and neither is the signing of a gas agreement between Russia and China in the amount of $400 billion.
Another interesting bit is that during the growing illusions that Iraq will increase oil production from its current 3 million barrels per day to 12 million by 2017, speculators raised prices from $110 to $113 per barrel (and it could reach as high as $150 in the future) at a time when there were no disruptions in supplies.
The most important factor should also be noted here: strategists from the CIA, NSA and the Pentagon were able to transform the Arab-Israeli conflict, which was seen as the most significant in the region, first into a Palestinian-Israeli conflict and now into a Sunnite-Shiite one. Washington has, meanwhile, quietly put an end to the very existence of or completely weakened the power of six of the most influential semi-secular and moderate Islamic nations in the Arab world: Egypt, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Syria.
Incidentally, in February of this year, shortly before his retirement, the Director of the American Defence Intelligence Agency General Michael T. Flynn warned Congress of Islamist attempts at taking over Iraq. He understood that a new war is beneficial for the American economy as it would eliminate competition and fully economically subjugate the countries of this region. A new terrorist threat would once again become the source of monumental income for American arms dealers, security companies and many others.
We can also recall the following. After the disruption of the NATO plan to build the Turkmenistan – Afghanistan – Pakistan – India (TAPI) gas pipeline (which was one of the main reasons for occupying Afghanistan), Turkmenistan currently supplies its gas to China through a 7,000km pipeline while also supplying gas to Iran through another pipeline, thereby restricting the ambitions of the US and its allies in Central Asia. Very recently, as a result of American pressure, Bulgaria (which is completely dependent on Russian gas) and Serbia halted the construction of the Southern Stream pipeline, Russia’s project competing with the Nabucco pipeline, which should be launched in 2015. The pipeline was slated to carry around 60 million cubic metres of gas into Europe. Because the construction of the Nabucco has also been frozen, it cannot begin to pump Iranian gas. As soon as Iran is able to expand into the western market, there will be more opportunities to revive the Nabucco pipeline, which would connect the Caspian Sea to Europe, bypassing Russia. Yet the gas from Azerbaijan was not enough to fill the pipe and the construction of this White House pet project (with the goal of decreasing European reliance on Russian gas) was frozen. Even if relations normalise between Teheran and the west, this pipeline will retain its political significance and its fate will be dependent on the ever-present changes in the sphere of energy supply.
The construction of the pipeline from the Southern Pars deposit (the largest in the world) has also been halted for the duration of the wars in Syria and Iraq, which was planned to span 6,000km and join the Persian Gulf with the Mediterranean Sea by going through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. In this environment, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel can breathe easy as Teheran can no longer quickly fortify its economic might.
Yet we must also keep geopolitics in mind – the goal of all these actions undertaken by Washington is to choke first the Russia and then the Chinese economies while retaining its status as the only global superpower. Nevertheless, there are severe doubts as to whether Washington is able to accomplish this. However, for now, this is encouraging the spilling of innocent blood of thousands of people in Iraq, Syria and Ukraine.
Petr Lvov has a Ph.D. in political sciences, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.