It has been a week of repeated insults to U.S. adventurism and Donald Trump's ill-defined Middle East policy. In Iraq, thanks to Iranian backing and astute negotiation, Kirkuk province is back in the hands of the Shia government in Baghdad halving the Kurds' oil revenues. Iran now has a land bridge through Syria to the Mediterranean improving the accessibility of its exports to Europe.
In my latest article I mentioned the factors one needs to keep an eye on to track the trajectory of oil prices, for the rest of the year . Geopolitics, of-course, was one of them. Keeping this factor aside, there has not been any significant development pertaining to oil as to affect the prices substantially.
There may be a silver but risky lining for Kurdish nationalists in their devastating loss of Kirkuk and other cities on the periphery of their semi-autonomous region as they lick their wounds and vent anger over deep-seated internal divisions that facilitated the Iranian-backed Iraqi blitzkrieg.
A uniquely wayward president, Donald Trump, has managed to isolate the United States equally uniquely, and contrary to the stated position of his Secretaries of State and Defense and the National Security Adviser (respectively Rex Tillersen, John Mattis and H.R. McMaster) by scuttling the 2015 Iran nuclear deal citing issues outside its scope.
While President Donald Trump is very fond of proclaiming that the Iran Nuclear Deal was an “embarrassment” and a “horrible deal” he neglects to remember that the USA was not the only party to this deal, and in fact, was literally forced to the table by the P5+1 nations which included Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, China, and France, in the face of great opposition by the huge money and lobbying powers of Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Neo-Conservatives in the United States.
In early October, King Salman of Saudi Arabia - with 1,500 members of his private entourage and 459 tons of luggage - landed at the Vnukovo airport for the first official visit of a Saudi king to the Kremlin. At military level, Saudi Arabia has already bought from Russia the S-400 Triumph anti-missile system (NATO reporting name: SA-12 Growler), already fully operational in China, which can intercept aircraft and missiles at a speed up to 4.8 kilometers per second (17,000 kilometers per hour) and has the ability of intercepting up to 36 targets at the same time.
Remarks at United Hebrew Congregation, Singapore, 3 October 2017
There are no nice guys in the Middle East, a region that is in the sixth year of transition. It’s a transition that is likely to take up to a quarter of a century. It’s a transition that is being exacerbated by states that are battling either one another for regional hegemony or to maintain an unsustainable status quo or to shape the region in their mould. There are no good or bad guys in this battle, at best there are bad and worse ones.
A novel Alawite-Shi’a security network may be developing in the Assad statelet now defining western Syria. It consists of an archipelago layered with remnants of the Bashar al-Assad-era intelligence organizations along with Iraqi Shi’a and other pro-Assad militias.