Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Peak Oil Crisis: Middle Eastern Chaos - Tom Whipple

In surveying the multiple, uprisings, insurgencies, insurrections, confrontations and what have you currently going on in the Middle East, it is hard to believe that all this turmoil will not eventually find its way to our local gas pumps.

In the last week the overall situation clearly has taken a turn for the worse with large numbers of Syrian insurgents infiltrating Damascus and Aleppo for the first time accompanied by the spectacular bombing of a security meeting that killed four of the regime's top leaders. As the 16 month uprising, that to date has killed some 20,000 people, grinds towards a bloody conclusion, the Assad government has pulled out one of its last cards which is the large stockpile of chemical and biological weapons that it has accumulated with the help of the Russians as a deterrent against the Israelis.

There is no other term for all this than "a can of worms." It is going to be a long hot summer in the region with the likelihood that things will get a lot worse before fall comes.

Now such weapons are virtually useless in fighting urban insurgents, but the threat of turning some of them over to any of the numerous jihadist groups running around the Middle East carries a lot of weight. Weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a national government against which it is easy to retaliate is one thing, in the hands of stateless militants in a self-martyring frame of mind is something entirely different. The Middle East and much of the world would never be the same should nerve gas canisters rather than bombs become the weapon of choice to express dissatisfaction or score political points.

Until now the US and other western powers have been reluctant to become militarily involved in yet another Middle Eastern conflict. Should it appear, however, that the Assad government is losing control of its chemical and biological weapons, intervention, at least by Israel and likely a wider circle of Western powers, would be inevitable. The ramifications of such a foreign military intervention into the Syrian situation would be widespread.

The next ominous development was the recent bombing of a bus filled with Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. Although the Bulgarians are withholding judgment as to the sponsor of the plot until the investigation is complete, the Israelis were quick to blame Iran and their Palestinian associates, Hezbollah. If Iranian sponsorship is established, the bus bombing indicates that after the failure of a string of plots to assassinate Israeli diplomats, Tehran has turned to attacking soft targets such as Israeli tourists on the way to a Bulgarian beach. More


No comments: