Monday, November 23, 2015

THE PARIS TERROR ATTACK, RELEARNING OLD LESSONS

Last Friday a coordinated terror attack on French capital, Paris left more than 120 people dead its wake and the world reeling with shock and groping for answers.

The Islamic State (IS), fighting for control of the parts of Iraq and Syria claimed responsibility for the attack, in retaliation for French operations against them in the aforementioned countries.

"IS as a terror organisation is so brutal in its methods that even Al Qaeda, responsible for the September 2001 attack on the Twin Towers in New York, retch at their methods....

But unlike Al Qaeda which relied mostly on a shadowy network of financiers to fund it’s nefarious enterprise, IS has control of oil fiends in Syria and Iraq that continue to pump fuel and find ready buyers on world markets.

At one point it was estimated that IS was selling as much as 10,000 barrels a day, shipping it out of its territories in kilometre long convoys in to Turkey and then further afield.

This development is disturbing on many front. The two issues that immediately jump to mind are how are they able to produce any oil – it’s not as if you go around the house with a bucket and come back with oil? And secondly how are they able to sell any of it to anybody in this totally connected world?

Uganda is jumping through hoops to get its oil fields ready for production. When all is said and done it will cost as much $20b in infrastructure development in the Albertine region and beyond. And when we are done one probably be able to see from the moon that we have oil fields in western Uganda never mind that at full production only about 60,000 barrels will see the light of day daily. Nigeria can do about 2.5 million barrels a day currently.

So how is it possible with all those high-tech jets wheezing around the middle East that the IS can continue churning out enough crude to actually run a welfare state in many of the places under their control? Reports have it that public workers are leaving their jobs to  go and fight for IS because it not only offers better pay checks but as part of the benefits pays allowances for wives and children.

When the Africa’s “world war” was raging in the early part 2000s, western do gooders came together to ban mineral exports from the Democratic Republic of Congo on the irrefutable logic that it was fuelling the conflict and causing untold suffering for the everyday person in mainly eastern Congo.

The truth be told the campaign merely dented the trade but at least they went through the motions.
Campaigns to restrict these oil exports do not seem to be gaining as much traction as the campaign to shut down export of illicit gems from Africa.

The truth be told, Oil is an essential commodity and normal rules don’t apply to it. But then we find ourselves in a catch -22 situation, on the one hand we want to shut IS down while on the other we can’t wean ourselves off their oil.

"It is not a stretch of logic to say we are actually financing terrorists’ attacks against ourselves by refusing to muster the moral will to clamp down on their oil...

Of course it would be a lot easier if this was only a moral equation. The interconnectedness of world markets means that who is to say that oil from IS is not landing on the bottom lines of some of our most respectable oil traders? And for the sake of profit everyone is pointedly looking the other way?

It is a scary not altogether farfetched scenario, which not only means no one is innocent but also raises the spectre of increased, seemingly random terror attacks around the globe in coming times.

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