(April 12, 2012) Controlling the sources of energy in our world equals power and influence, and this power may be transferred to Israel, whose shale oil is estimated at probably as much as 5 billion barrels. ~ from a conference on the Middle East featuring Lawrence Solomon.
By Dr. Victoria Vexelman-Khodak for Israel National News.com
A different Middle East Conference took place in Canada, where for the first time Israel was not the nucleus of the conflict. The list of speakers makes one sit up and see the Arab Spring in clear perspective.
The Israeli public should get to know two Canada-based organizations, Advocates for Civil Liberties and The Atlantic Council of Canada – and for a very good reason.
These non-government organizations represent the voice of reason and common sense, clear strategic vision, true desire to contribute to the understanding of diplomatic strategies and promote civil liberties, as opposed to a number of the so-called ‘”human rights watchers” preoccupied with exposure of the Israeli “crimes against humanity”.
“Advocates for Civil Liberties (ACL) was established by an interfaith, ethnically-diverse group of legal and other professionals, together with concerned members of the community, to bring civility to the narrative surrounding the political, religious, social and economic issues confronting Israel and its neighbours, and to promote dialogue and interaction free from racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric.
It writes, “We intend to accomplish these goals, through community programming and advocacy.”
The Atlantic Council of Canada was founded in 1996 to promote knowledge and understanding of NATO in Canada and to promote the influence of Canada on the international scene.
The conference that took place in Hyatt Regency Hotel in Toronto in March 28 was called “Canada and the New Middle East”, probably an ironic association with Shimon Peres’ delusional vision as described in his book “The New Middle East”.
Indeed, the speakers expressed much concern and very little optimism about the current Middle East events.
The organizers invited first rate, world renowned experts and professionals to assess the most recent Middle East developments and their global implications.
Among the speakers were Nazanin Afshin-Jam, an international human rights and democracy activist; Doug Вest, RCMP Superintendent and Head of the National Security Section; Raymond Boisvert, assistant director, Canadian Intelligence Service (CSIS); John Thompson, international security intelligence expert; Boaz Ganor, the founder and president of the International academic counter-terrorist community, associate dean and executive director of the International institute for counter-terrorism, the Interdisciplinary Center – Herzliya; Peter Goodspeed, senior reporter on international affairs for National Post; Ramin Jahanbegloo, Iranian Political philosopher, University of Toronto Center for ethics; Andrew (Andy) Mahut, manager of the executive board of the Canadian industry program for energy conservation (CIPEC); Lawrence Solomon, columnist for the Financial Post and executive director of Energy probe, one the Canada’s leading environmentalists; Marina Nemat, best-selling author, human rights advocate, former Iranian political prisoner; Raheel Raza, author, human rights activist, consultant for interfaith and intercultural diversity; Mike Ward, consul and senior trade commissioner for the Consulate of Canada in Istanbul, Turkey.
The assessment of the situation in the Middle East was far from optimistic:
The Arab Spring is quickly and surely turning into the Arab Winter and Dark Ages, with dire global implications (Lawrence Solomon, one of Canada’s leading environmentalists).
The Iranian regime is turning into a military junta with a clerical face (Dr. Ramin Jahanbegloo, a noted Iranian-Canadian philosopher).
In the entire area, ethnic and religious minorities are persecuted, freedom of expression is suppressed, women are oppressed and humiliated, tortures and executions of women and children under the age of 18 are widespread (according to Lawrence Solomon, Marina Nemat, Raheel Raza, Nazanin Afshin-Jam).
The bright spot is that the enthusiasm about the Arab Spring has faded away, common sense has prevailed, and political leaders now realize that it had nothing to do with democracy and liberty.
Since the world is concerned about fuel and secure ways of its delivery, the recent discovery of gas deposits in economic sea-shelf zone of Israel and Cyprus, and the newly emerged diplomatic and military alliance of between Israel, Cyprus and Greece with the aim to protect their off-shore gas fields from Turkey projects optimism concerning the possibility of reducing the oil and gas prices and diminishing the role of the Gulf countries.
More than that, the honored speakers, and among them prominent representatives of the intelligence community, stressed that the Israeli-Arab conflict is not the nucleus of the Middle East turmoil.
In his opening speech, Lawrence Solomon, the founder and managing director of Energy Probe Research Foundation, as well as contributor to the Globe and Daily Mail and the Wall Street Journal, said that, in his opinion, “the Arab Spring was a disaster from the very beginning”. For the short and long term, he predicted “the Dark Ages” for the Muslim Middle East. Right now the economy of the North African countries is in jeopardy, the new political power – namely, the Muslim Brotherhood emerges – and the main indicator of what is awaiting Egypt is the drastic deterioration of the condition of ethnic and religious minorities.
But what is more important for the Israelis is his assessment that “the loss of influence of the Middle East countries has already began”.
Controlling the sources of energy in our world equals power and influence, and this power may be transferred to Israel, whose shale oil is estimated at probably as much as 5 billion barrels.
Tiny Israel is sitting on what may be the world’s third largest oil-shale deposits. With oil prices skyrocketing, development of the oil-shale deposits became profitable.
Now the serious group of investors thаt includes some seventy European bankers, hedge fund investors, captains of oil industry, including the former president of Global Oil, former president of Exxon Shell and the former president of Halliburton, have decided to break up the monopoly of the OPEC countries with the help of new technologies Israel and other countries invented.
These new technologies might reduce the price of Israeli oil to $30–40 a barrel. What is more important, this oil-shale may be exported to the other countries that are dependent on Middle Eastern oil.
Canada with its rich oil-shale deposits is highly interested in obtaining Israeli technologies.
Mr. Solomon predicted that these countries might become failed states and, in the case of such countries as Iraq and Syria, may fall apart into several smaller entities, following their constituency, because these countries are artificial creations of the colonial powers after the WWI.
In the long run, these processes might promote the Arab revival, but this revival will be preceded by a long, long Arab winter.
The role of Turkey is very ambivalent. On the one hand, it is one of the world’s most rapidly developing economies, with a potential market twice as bigger as Canadian, with an excellent investment climate and stable government. On the other hand, Turkey is viewing with grudging eyes gas resources of Israel, Cyprus and Greece.
Turkey has had a dispute with Cyprus and Greece for decades. Greece, for example, has vast off-shore deposits of gas and oil, their value would have been enough to eliminate Greece’ debt, but it has been afraid to develop them for years. Now that Israel has discovered gas, and its deposits are also substantial, the three countries formed economic alliance that is also a military alliance, to curb possible Turkish aggression. No one can predict further developments, but that is certainly a point of major contention.
The intelligence community has no illusions about the quality of friendship and cooperation of such countries as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. According to John Thompson, international security intelligence expert from Mackenzie Institute, “our friends and allies”, namely Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, pose a very serious problem. Pakistan is considered to be “our friend”, but the Western intelligence community and political leaders remember that Osama bin Laden lived in Pakistan, and both Al-Qaeda and Taliban operate from Pakistan with a knowing nod from the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence agency. The Pakistani government is confused, and its policy is changing quickly, that makes thing more complicated for the West.
Another such friend is Saudi Arabia. This country is predictable is a certain way, that is Saudi Arabia’s government is fundamentally interested in its own survival and retaining the family business of the ruling family. To this end, Saudi Arabia cooperates with the West, and it is worthwhile noting what Saudi Arabia says about Israel in public and what is says privately.
Although Saudi Arabian rulers heavily depend on the West for their survival, they spread Wahhabi teaching of the global supremacy of Islam, Sharia law and restoration of Caliphate. This teaching finds response among some young Pakistani and Arab immigrants in Europe and North America, who become increasingly radicalized and present a real threat to security. The Saudi royal family has long history of relations with Wahhabi. Saudis spend a lot of money to encourage this movement worldwide.
Non-interference in the Syrian uprising may be explained by the understanding that Syrian insurgents are inspired by the Islamist, Wahhabi ideology and are no better than Assad.
As for Lebanon, within a year the government in that country became a shadow cabinet for terrorist Hizbullah.
Boaz Ganor, associate dean and executive director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism of the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, presented his vision of the situation without political correctness, as he put it.
He started the analysis from the famous “Cairo speech” delivered by President Obama soon after his election. “The Cairo speech set forth a new American foreign policy referring to the Muslim and Arab world”, said Ganor. It was the policy of appeasement and a striking blow to the United States allies among pragmatic Muslim leaders.
The situation was aggravated two years ago when John Brennan, the President’s advisor on the counter-terrorist policy, was presenting a new American counter-terrorism policy, saying that “terrorism is not our enemy”, a statement totally unexpected from the counter-terrorism advisor.
The second statement was even more troubling, “Islamists and Jihadists are not our enemies”. That, in Ganor’s opinion, represented the embryonic problem, conveyed by the Obama administration.
The short-term consequences are evident. Before the revolution, we had states which, although under the rule of this or that dictator, were stable entities with integral territory; the new governments are leading to something that can be called the failure of the statehood of the states.
Furthermore, we see that some territories are becoming ungoverned territories. Libya, Yemen, the Sinai Peninsula are now totally ungoverned territories.
When we have failed statehood and ungoverned territories, this is the recipe for Global Jihad, this is the recipe for safe haven for terrorist gangs, and that is what we are seeing right now.
Many experts worry about what has happened to the warehouses of the Libyan army. The weapons evaporated, and nobody actually knows where they are.
The world has begun to understand that the weapons fell into the wrong hands, as this sophisticated weaponry pops up in different conflicts.
The long-term consequences for the failure are evident. Flash mobs can conquer the squares for several days, but not the rulership.
These countries will be overtaken by the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafists and Wahhabi. Despite some minor differences, they share ideologies and ultimate goals, and they will harness the state resources to serve the ideology of Global Jihad and the World Caliphate.
“We live in very tectonic times”, noted Boaz Ganor, and “the biggest challenge is to call a spade a spade”.
The writer, whose doctorate is in English literature, is news editor of Arutz-7’s Russian Internet Edition.