Continued from yesterday
IRAN presents even more complication. For many years, Iran has been subject of sanction, because of its nuclear activities, those sanctions have just been lifted (although even with sanctions, Iran, one of the leading oil producers with massive reserves), had been selling oil at whatever price it can get from whom so ever wanted to buy. Iran would not allow President Assad of Syria go down and therefore with the help of Russia, they prop up the Syrian regime.
The war had ended in Afghanistan to nobody’s satisfaction; there is a resurgent Taliban, a dissatisfaction-disaffected population, and local leaders- the West chose, who are corrupt and inept. There is nothing to grow in Afghanistan except opium, which the West would not allow.
Are there any unifying concepts in all the above? Any thread apart from the obvious one of Islam? There is the unifying theme of oil exploration and oil sales and the strategic centrality of the Moslem world poised between Asia and the West and Russia.
Oil has been the single unifying element in the relationship between the Middle East and the West. It still is. There are other issues such as Israel but the fulcrum of the relationship remains oil, and had been so long before Israel was created and remains so today. At the end of the last century, Henry Kissinger noted that for the first time capital was flowing from East to West, not the other way round. The West did not like uppity Arabs like Shiek Yamani telling them what to do. In the end they got rid of him.
The U.S deals only with the royal family of Saudi Arabia who preside over the most barbarous government on earth – cutting peoples’ heads off for some minor infringement, cutting off hands for allegedly stealing, stoning people for sexual relation etc. The U.S insists that they continually raise these and similar human rights abuses at meeting, but to no avail. The U.S – Saudi relation is solid and tight. But these pockets of instability cannot be all bad for the West and Russia. Democracy is the new proselytizing dogma of the West. Wherever the embers of freedom sparkle, the West takes up the challenges: democracy is the new religion of the West. President Obama said that the use of the gas bomb would be the red line Syria could not cross. Syria crossed it: The human suffering in Syria became more unbearable: thousands died, many more migrated: the resultant increased Western bombing led only to more suffering and therefore more migration.
The idea is to bomb all sides of the Syrian conflict onto a meeting so as to solve the issues politically. Syria seems near to total destruction. But a move to hold peace talks on Syria was on, first, on humanitarian issues and later on more substantial issues: although no one seems clear as to who needs whom, so fragmented are the opposition to President Assad. Russia insists that Assad must be part of the talks and to prove this Russia is constantly bombing those opposed to Assad: but it seems there may be a move now towards peace in Syria. The talks are in Geneva, similar talks are being held in Italy on Libya, which is bedeviled by factionalism and lately by the arrival of ISIS.
In Iraq, the old army is being reorganised, there is movement towards a reapproachment with Iran although problems continue. Russia is still the boggy man: some agreement must be reached. Russia is still underselling oil because of sanctions over Russian annexation of Crimea and part of Eastern Ukraine. Again the attitude of the West with regard to democracy rears its ugly head as the President of Ukraine was indeed democratically elected but ousted by Western conspiration.
Another underlying theme in the Middle East apart from oil is chronic instability. Is this engineered or is it inherent? Who benefits from this instability?
In 1967 the Arabs were able to teach the world one lesson – their control of oil could be used for political purposes. They raised the price of fuel from US$3 to US$12 overnight and the price has been going up ever since. The West learnt some lessons from that episode. The security services and universities would have been studying endless scenarios and simulations of sudden escalation of oil prices and how it would affect their economy. They did find ways to curtail use of fuel, to keep strategic reserves and so on.
They studied the effect of oil at US$200 per barrel, and also at US$10 per barrel. War games and simulation of these prices, what could cause such drastic drop or increase and how to project and protect their economy if such was to happen. While it would be gratuitous to accuse the West of manipulating the price, I think it would be foolish on the part of the oil producers not to have foreseen the possibility of a fall in oil prices and be better prepared for it.
Who studied what would happen to Nigeria if oil prices fell to US$10? What do we do? The present glut is to last a considerable time, how prepared are we for that? Only Governor Uduaghan and his Deputy Amos Utuama produced a foresighted slogan of Nigeria beyond and without oil. I did not however, see any meaningful study under that slogan. Abuja never even thought of it.
I believe the West and Russia should be held accountable for the wholesale destruction of Libya, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. They should be asked to pay war reparations to these countries, and work together to bring peace and dislodge the terrorists. I am not even sure whether they and Russia are not guilty of crimes against humanity and other war crimes arising from their wholesale bombing of these countries. The consequences of their intervention have been horrendous and indirectly led to the creation of ISIS and its barbaric continuation and evil. What would the U.S do when the House of Saudi falls? As for us in Nigeria, we do nothing else but react to these events and that is not good enough.