ISIS: THE SYRIAN MESS PART THREE
By Al Emid Author Journalist Broadcaster
The Glamourous Life of an Author
When researching a book about a topic as complex as the ISIS crisis, I sometimes come across material that makes me wonder. On one such occasion, I read about the HSBC employees who staged a mock ISIS-style execution on video as a gag, complete with a kneeling ‘hostage’ in an orange outfit. On first reading, you want to just say ‘You’re kidding …’ and then you realize that it really happened. These employees really did go to the trouble of setting up a mock execution — complete with costumes and props — on video. Needless to say they rapidly became former employees of HSBC.
In a more recent case, the source is a Financial Times report so I have no reservations about its credibility.
In a recent report The Financial Times outlined what it called ‘Mafia-Style gas deals’ between the Syrian government and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – ISIS – one of its many mortal enemies. The report says that the Tuweinan gas plant operates as a kind of joint venture between the Syrian government and ISIS in what it calls a ‘Faustian’ bargain’. (For those who have forgotten their college literature courses, a ‘Faustian bargain’ basically translates as a deal with the devil.)
The FT report explains that ‘Isis controls at least eight power plants in Syria, including three hydroelectric facilities and the country’s largest gas plant. The regime has companies that know how to run them.’ Agreements for energy supply don’t affect the war. “The business deals do not translate into a truce,” the report says. “The two sides continually attack one another’s employees and infrastructure.”
Workers interviewed by the FT say that in agreements between ISIS and the government, Syrian gas companies pay and feed their employees and supply equipment to the facilities. The two sides divide the electricity produced from the methane heavy “dry gas”, while ISIS gets the fuel products made from the plants’ liquid gas.
The Syrian mess has other pieces of the puzzle that seem equally difficult to grasp. Responding to questions about the lack of co-operation between Russia and the United States over Russian air strikes within Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the United States had not co-operated on bombing targets, according to a report carried on NBC news. “Then we thought and asked another question: ‘Then could you tell us where we should not hit?’ Again, no answer. So, what should we do?”
Meanwhile, Turkey — which more than ever needs the support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization — NATO – in its fight against ISIS also has a history of hostilities with the Kurds recently called in American and Russian Ambassadors to warn both powers against further help to the Syrian Kurds, one of the most effective groups currently fighting ISIS.
Syrian President Bashir al-Assad, whose days in the Presidential Palace previously seemed very numbered has had a reprieve of indeterminate length, thanks to the Russian air strikes. Russia very much needs Assad’s friendship and Assad very much needs Russia’s friendship.
Also meanwhile, American pilots on their missions in Syrian skies and Russian pilots on their missions in the same skies have to ensure that they do not get too close to each other. At the same time, taking advantage of the Russian air strikes, Iranian troops have moved into northern and central Syria, thereby signalling Iran’s intentions to increase its involvement in the Syrian civil war.
These and other ironies prove again that the ISIS crisis – and the other crises that accompany it, the ISIS crisis and the other crises that go with it, have become such a complicated mix that any resolution within the short-term appears out of the question.
Al Emid’s fifth book entitled What You Need to Know About ISIS – Terror, Religion, War and the Caliphate and set for release by Quidne Press later in Fall looks behind the news about ISIS and what might lie ahead. He has begun developing a follow-up book set for release in early 2016.