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The Rise of Middle East Extremism, Part I

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August 8, 2015 by wimvincken

Middle Eastern countries in trouble
Currently, many countries in the Middle East are in serious trouble, and the main reason is the decreasing price of the oil, the conflict between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims and the existence of Daesh and the Islamic State, covering large parts of Iraq and Syria.

The decreasing price of oil means for many, still stable Middle Eastern countries, economical problems.

For example, for the Saudi Arabia state to survive financially, they need the price of oil to be $99.2. Currently, the oil price is $82! This is according the German national bank.

And that is also troubling for countries like Russia ($100), Bahrain ($136), Venezuela ($162), Oman ($101),  Nigeria ($136).
Less troubling of course is the price of oil, when the economy is not primary depending on oil, but still its a major financial loss for a country.

Venezuela is another story. That country needs to have an oil price of $162 in order to break even, and with the current price of $82, it loses billions per month. Its likely the country will face dept default soon.

It’s also not likely that the oil prices will increase for the next years, and this promises big economical fallout for those countries, even extreme rich countries like Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf states.

Why does the price of oil not increase in the coming years?
The demand for Middle Eastern oil has dramatically decreased. The US is near independent of Middle Eastern oil, and Europe is following close. And when demand decreases, prices decreases as well.

And what does this really mean?
With economical troubles for those countries, it will mean the increase of extremism. And that means directly the increase of the support for ISIS, the growth of the number of fighters and people working for the Islamic State.

OPEC states knew this before and they have comprehensive social programs for their uneducated populations. They spent billions of their oil dollars in financing large social programs for their populations, but they failed in investing in proper governing. With as result, their populations, who were uneducated, stayed uneducated, they had no work, and still have no work, they live like people lived in the Middle Ages, and they still live like that.
They also live under an extreme religion, which still indoctrinate their populations and that has only increased by time.

Because of the low oil price, those countries can’t continue to maintain those social programs and those countries face the growth of extremism, which forms a threat to the governments and an increase of power to ISIS.

Failed States
Countries like Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Syria and soon Venezuela are facing the status of failed states. Those are all Muslim countries, and with the low oil prices and the decreasing dependency of OPEC oil, many more countries are likely to follow.

The reason for those failed states are not because of the low oil price, but because of the result of civil war with the exception of Venezuela.

But it is very likely, when the economies will collapse for those countries in the Middle East, civil unrest and civil war will occur. And in the Middle East, this means situations happening like in Libya, where one Muslim extremist group will fight each other and the country’s government.
And let’s also not to forget the conflicts of Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims.

ISIS
The Islamic State, Daesh or ISIS forms a direct threat for Iraq and Syria. Both countries, because of various reasons, are on their way to be destroyed as an entity. Those countries will be broken into parts, partially merged and that is the most optimistic prediction, or totally occupied by the Islamic State.

The US formed a coalition with about 60 countries to fight the ISIS. As part of the coalition, Arab states are part of it.

The problem of the coalition is as follows:
1. Except for the US, no other country has the resources to perform war.
2. No Arab or Muslim state has the financial means to perform war.
3. The US is not committing itself to total war, only fighting economically, politically, diplomatically and in public relations. The US is not performing well in those battle grounds.
4. The US and in limited number of some coalition members, engaging a part of their airpower trying to contain the advancement of ISIS with minimal results.
5. The micro management, and the failing strategies of the American administration, hampering the military efforts and causes the ISIS to become stronger and more popular.

Boots on the ground
What is clear for everyone is, that in order to stop and to destroy ISIS, ground troops are required, in addition to airpower.

The US made it clear from the beginning of the conflict, that it will not commit itself to send ‘boots on the ground’. And as long as the current American President is still in power (for the next two years), it’s very unlikely that will happen.

Arab countries in the Middle East are also unlikely to create an army to fight the ISIS for various reasons.
First, none of them have the financial resources to do so. Secondly, they don’t have the political base to fight the ISIS and thirdly because of the risk of war against the multiple power blocks in the Middle East, like Iran.

As long as the ISIS is not performing large genocides, or attacks neighboring countries, refrains from mega terror attacks, it remains unlikely that there will be boots on the ground.

The effects of the bombardment of the coalition air forces are less then minimal. What is easily observed is that the advancement of the ISIS is somewhat slowed in certain fronts.

But the ISIS strategy is flexible and adoptable and they slowly advance their territory in Syria and Iraq. Their military strength is surprisingly good, and is able to battle in four to five fronts at the same time.
Also, the ISIS is able to block military intelligence, so that actually nobody knows how strong the ISIS factually is.

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