Russia returning to the Middle East

UI – Part 363 – Russia returning to the Middle East

Where did all the soviets go.  But now they are back.

After WWII

After WWII there was a great concern that the Soviet Union would take hold of the Middle East, primarily Iran, Egypt and possibly Saudi Arabia and capture the oil resources for themselves.  Stalin lived.  The UK had interests in Iran and the US interests in Saudi Arabia.  Oil was the focus.  The prime minister of Iran nationalized the British interests due to a concern that the oil agreement between Iran and Britain was not fair to Iran. With its stiff upper lip Britain held its ground; there was a call for an overthrow of Mossadeq.  Churchill wanted what he felt was their right as they found the oil, developed the oil and were producing the oil.  But he was being selfish. He tried to get America to help with a coup.  Truman said no.  But when Eisenhower came into office a second appeal was made.  This time Churchill suggested if America did not help then the Soviets might take over the Iran fields.

The Soviets were a perceived threat to the United States.  After-all they enjoyed their own victory after WWII.  They held much of the Eastern European nations hostage for many years, until the Wall came down.  The Soviets, albeit the Chinese, thwarted MacArthur’s invasion into North Korea which then ended the Korean conflict with a truce and demarcation line separating North and South.  Communism was the worry.  The same concern caused the Vietnam War as Ho Chi Min wanted to unify Vietnam and make it an economic force in Asia, but since he was communist his intentions were viewed differently.  He never gave up.  He drove out the French and US troops were left to fight for years over a threat that in retrospect was perceived more than real. It was France that wanted the area, as it was a part of the colonial regime of France, but they soon departed, giving up and admitting their defeat.  America continued as if it was a war over the spread of communism.

Vietnam occupied the halls of the White House for years, from Eisenhower to Kennedy to Johnson to Nixon. From the early 80’s to the 90’s.  The Middle East was not forgotten, only given less attention, focused mostly on relationships with Israel.

The Soviets soon left the Middle East.  Stalin died months after Eisenhower was inaugurated.  The threat of Russia was often called into the equation, by Egypt or Syria or others, to gain greater support, having leverage, financial and arms, from the United States.  We were the world dominant power and did not want to yield in any way to Russia.

Obama Era

With Obama in power and Hillary Clinton’s reset button with Putin ineffective we see anew the presence of Russia in the Middle East.  They have input themselves in Syria in support of Assad, while Obama insists this dictator must go.  The civil war is most confusing as there are not two sides, making it easy to take one or the other, but many sides.  Assad is fighting Syrian local forces that want his oppressive regime ended.  ISIS is fighting to take Syria and add it to the Caliphate.  They do not need it all, just as much as they can claim day by day.   The Caliphate of ISIS has no boundaries.  It is not a sovereign entity. It wants whatever territory it can conquer as part of the whole for Allah.  There’s is a holy war, a jihad, to fulfill the dictates of the Quran, the Scripture of Islam, to achieve a world All for Allah.  Assad is fighting ISIS as well as the local resistance forces.  The USA is aiding the resistance while bombing ISIS.  Russia has come to the aid of Assad.  Iraq is to the East and has its own troubles with ISIS.  The USA is advising Iraq.  Iran is helping Assad and is in Iraq as well.  Sunni and Shiite and Kurds are at odds.  Sound like a mess to you.

But Russia is back in the picture and the United States is trying to figure out their role, our role and how the world will roll tomorrow.  Obama’s preference is to leave the area.  His view has been altered, although not his wish, as a result of the immediacy of the collapse of Iraq after Obama had all troops withdrawn and ISIS arose as if zombies from the dessert killing fields.  Enough time elapsed that ISIS strengthened and with many oil sites under their control financed their campaign of evil and unholy acts against infidels and heretics.

Russia was involved in the Iran nuclear negotiations.  They now have the enriched uranium Iran agreed to give up.  Are they friends or foes?  Most American’s believe they are an enemy. Is it over the oil again?  And now oil prices have fallen from over $100 per barrel to less than $30 per barrel.  It is hurting oil producers as well as producer nations whose dependence on the sale of oil is critical to their economies.  In some cases, like Saudi Arabia, it is about their only export.  The Iran deal frees up Iran to produce and export oil, some estimate adding 600,000 to 1 million barrels each day to be added to the current glut.

Who will benefit?   Is Russia making a play for the Middle East?  Should America stop Russia?  Or should a common ground be found that suits all parties?  In the meantime ISIS is expanding into Libya and the Taliban is gaining in stature in Afghanistan.  The Maghreb and Egypt are in close proximity to the new training posts of ISIS in northern Africa.  Afghanistan borders Iran and to the north areas of Russian influence.  Obama decided recently to leave a military force in theater.  Will it be sufficient?  Any thoughts?

Grace and Peace

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