Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The Impossibility of Dealing with ISIS

Since the dawn of the Islamic fundamentalist problem in it's many forms, such as the Taliban, Al-Queda and now Islamic State as the BBC like to so-call it, most westerners have been perplexed at the lack of actual definitive action against what most see as a threat to Western society.

The problem is the issue is very complex and cannot be resolved without pain... a lot of pain. Both literally in the form of lives lost and the financial cost.

In it's simplest form, the Middle Eastern problem is a fight of ideologies. Or, more accurately Islamic ideologies. It's a fight between Sunni and Shia, or more clearly for Westerners, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The conflict between the two is centuries old. The conflict between Arabia and Persia, the fight for power and influence in the Middle East. The lid was kept on it for the best part of a century by the Western Powers and their meddling in the Middle East. Setting up artificial boundaries between states and propping up despots and dictators suppressed the ill-feeling, but under the surface, when you talk to people from the Middle East there is and always has been that "them and us" mentality. Sunni will not sit easily with Shia, problems are caused even inside families where people follow the two ideologies of Islam.

Syria and Iraq are the current killing field for this outpouring of bile between the two factions. On the one hand Assad's Syrian government propped up by Iran, who are also helping the Iraq government (for what its worth) fight ISIS in their country too.

On the other hand you have ISIS, backed if not directly by The Saudi government, then by wealthy individuals in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States.

So, there's a basic premiss for the conflict.

Of course the West has to meddle, because we are allied to the Gulf States by our need to continue the oil supply and more importantly the fact the Gulf States own a large percentage of real estate in the West and account for a significant proportion of our economies and wealth. Maybe in the region of 20 percent.

So we are obliged to do whatever the Gulf States request us to do, which currently is kick the butt of any Iran-backed faction, i.e. Asssad. Which is why the UK have just 6 ancient Tornado aircraft bombing ISIS in Iraq, in a face-saving effort in order to not look like total shits and not leaving Iraq out to dry after we ruined their country. Its also why it's very hard to garner the support of those in power to extending that action into Syria. The Gulf States and their representatives have a lot of influence in Western governments.

As an example of how paranoid the Gulf States are about the rise of Shia influence, when the so-called "Arab Spring" came to Bahrain and the majority Shia population started to kick off, next door Saudi Arabia sent forces in to help the Sunni Bahrain Royal Family deal with the problem.

We're trying to be best buds with both sides, which is never going to work out so well, we end up pissing off both factions. We have a token force lobbing ordnance at ISIS in Iraq because I assume we've come to an accord with the Saudis that Iraq is our mess and we have an obligation to support the government there and protect the South of the country, but ISIS can have the North of Iraq because only Kurds live there and no-one likes the Kurds. (The Kurds are the only thing keeping ISIS out of Turkey, but Turkey still bombs them. Go figure). There are some weird Christians there that no-one understands, but not enough to make serious headlines and hey, collateral damage happens.

We won't go into Syria and bomb Assad no matter how much the Gulf states press us because we are trying to win contracts... I mean we're trying to get Iran back into the international community. Oh, and one day they may have Nukes, or even if they didn't they have the nuclear material to make a very dirty bomb which could cause a huge problem.

But the main reason we can't cause significant damage to ISIS is because their backers own so much of our economy. Just think whet would happen if we lost 20 percent of the whole Western economy overnight or even a fraction of it, or we lost the Billions in arms deals? Chaos, that's what.

So, sort that lot out if you can. Try and eliminate the threat of ISIS without pissing off the Gulf States, whilst at the same time trying to moderate the ambitions of Iran to be a major player in the region.

Its impossible whilst the status quo continues. Something has to change in the dynamics of the conflict before the problem can be resolved. I don't think the Paris attacks are enough of a game-changer, France doesn't possess the muscle to change things. The bombing of the Russian airliner might well become THE turning point of the conflict, as the Russians don't react well to being hurt like that and they carry a really big stick.

As an example of the Gulf States' financial power, just look at the price of petrol. It's dropped significantly in recent months and that's mainly because the U.S.A. have brought on stream shale oil and gas and have reduced their dependency on Gulf Oil. The Gulf States have fought back and rather than reduce production and keep prices up, have actually kept up production in order to reduce oil prices in an effort to make shale oil production unprofitable and bankrupt the American companies. It wouldn't surprise me if Gulf States start buying up American Shale production companies once their value has plummeted.

There are a couple of wildcards on the fringes that have the ability to throw big spanners in the works:

The first is Turkey. With Syria and the conflict on their doorstep they have a direct bearing on the conflict. they hate the Kurds the Turks have expended a lot of ammunition attacking Kurdish forces, as Kurds are regarded as terrorists in Turkey. However the Kurds fight ISIS, so implicitly Turkey by their actions are aiding ISIS. In fact up until recently there was a situation where Turkey ignored ISIS fighters crossing into Syria but battered the Kurds. The bomb attacks in Turkey have been attributed to Kurdish terrorists where it might have been ISIS.

Turkey also hate Assad and anyone that supports him, hence why they get in a Tizz when Russian or Syrian planes fly over or close to their territory.

They could inflict damage to the anti-ISIS front in Syria.

The other wildcard is Israel. They have been quiet on the issue of ISIS, I suppose there has been an element of "I told you so" as they have sat back and let it all kick off whilst eating popcorn. Historically a large Islamic force in Syria would be a threat to Israel, but this time they have stayed quietly fuming whilst the West court Iran.

Of course you could subscribe to the conspiracy theory that ISIS is just an Israeli plot funded by the Saudis to reduce the influence of Iran in the Middle East and keep them tied up in infinite conflicts.

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