Opinion: Putin forces West to choose between Ukraine and Middle East (I)


The leaders of the Western world had been repeatedly warned of this, and, on 13 January, our fears were confirmed with blood of people killed in Vilnius. But the assumption of the Kremlin that Kuwait would overshadow massacre in Lithuania was not confirmed.

After a quarter of a century, Russia continues to believe that the West can be bribed with dirty transactions. Back then, it was Lithuania in exchange for the approval of “Desert Storm”. It failed. Now, it’s Ukraine in exchange for peace in the Middle East. Once again, Russians are deceiving themselves. President Vladimir Putin has not learned the lessons that were seen by KGB lieutenant colonel Vladimir Putin.

On 12 June, three Jewish hitch-hikers went missing in the Palestinian territory. On 30 June, they were found murdered. During the 18-day search, tensions had been growing. Jewish soldiers unceremoniously searched Palestinian homes, arrested everyone they thought suspicious. Among the Arabs, a rumour spread that the teenagers were abducted by the Jews themselves in order to justify attacks against Hamas. During the searches, warehouses of weapons were found, Palestinians that had been earlier released from prison were arrested again.

Immediately after the funeral of the three victims, on the night of 1 July, several Jews kidnapped 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir and burned him alive in Jerusalem. There ensued rioting among Palestinians. Then, talks that this was a work of the Arabs themselves began to spread among the Jews and that the boy was killed because he might have been gay, and so on. Israeli services arrested six suspects, radical Jews, on 6 June. Their leader declared himself a Messiah in court. Killers of the three Jewish teens were also discovered, but they probably hid in the Gaza Strip.

Prolonged tensions between Arabs and Jews turned explosive. The Israeli public opinion resented the boys’ murder and condemned the Palestinians, but also condemned the burning of the Arab boy. Criminal procedures began on 27 July. For the Palestinian public opinion, the killers of the Jews were heroes, fighters against Israel, and no Palestinian authority prosecuted them. This fundamental distinction should be kept in mind by all defenders of the Palestinians.

Gas and oil

Until recently, it seemed that Moses led the Jews to the only place in the Middle East without any oil or gas. During the long search in 1953-1986, nothing significant was discovered. Finally, in 1999, geological explorations were crowned with success. Israel’s coast can have as much shale oil as the world’s largest exporter Saudi Arabia. As regards to the huge Leviathan natural gas reservoir discovered in 2010, which is at sea 130km west from Haifa, Israel rejected Gazprom‘s services and consulted with Western partners concerning liquefaction of the gas in Egypt. Last year, Norway’s Statoil, which has much experience in the area, agreed to participate in the construction of Israel’s offshore platforms.

Another, smaller gas field in Marine is offshore near Gaza. In January 2014, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas went to Moscow to negotiate a 4-billion-dollar contract with Gazprom to work in the Gaza shelf.

Meanwhile, former British prime minister Tony Blair, the ambassador of the Middle East Quartet (UN, EU, USA and Russia), supports and encourages Palestinian negotiations on the field with the British Gas Group. Minister of Defence Moses Jalon expressed Israel’s position back in 2007: if Hamas participates in the gas business, it will use the income not for the people’s welfare, but for fight against Israel. This is understandable: to date, the main point in Hamas’s program and its raison d’etre remains the destruction of the State of Israel.

Russian friend Syria

Russia remains very active in the region where it has a single naval base, in Syria, which remains from the Soviet time. In 2013, using its veto in the UN Security Council, Russia blocked the intervention of international forces to the civil war in Syria even after the Bashar al Assad regime used poison gas against the population. Now, this war still continues because of the Russian opposition, it has moved beyond the borders of Syria and the Islamic State is expanding from there into Iraq. Capturing oil fields and selling the oil for almost nothing, the Islamic State fighters have become the world’s richest terrorist group.

As a reward for Assad’s protection, in December 2013, Russia signed a contract for 25 years to explore and extract oil and gas reserves in Syrian waters. In return, it got the fierce Islamist fighters, who have been expelled from al-Qaeda for their brutality, becoming richer and advancing closer to Russia’s southern borders. However, Iran is on their way before Russia, and it is useful for the Russians that the potential new oil supplier – if the Russians were threatened with embargo for Ukraine – would be entrapped in war with fanatics like Iraq is now.

Syria is a major buyer of Russian arms. Some of them are transferred to Hezbollah group, and it provides arms to Hamas. Israeli delegations have brought to Moscow bits of missiles launched from Gaza with surviving inscriptions that they are from the Russian Defence Ministry’s shipment to Syria.

Russian missiles are much more accurate than the home-made Palestinian rockets. In private conversations, the Israeli military admits that, during the 2014 armed conflict, Jews would have experienced extremely big losses, if it weren’t for the very efficient missile defence shield, because the number of Russian missiles launched from Gaza increased significantly.

Putin forces West to choose between Ukraine and Middle East (II)

Translated by Lotus Translation

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