Friday, 22 August 2014

Why Britain Wants to Arm Sunni Militants in Syria and Arms the Opposition to IS in Iraq.

"We may very well find that we are aligned against a common enemy. But that does not make us able to trust them, it does not make us able to work with them and it would poison what we are trying to achieve in separating moderate Sunni opinion from the poisonous ideology of Isil [Islamic State] if we were to align ourselves with President Assad."-Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond
The reason Hammond ruled out negotiations with Assad and stated plans to arm 'moderate' Sunni 'rebels' is that British foreign policy is dominated by energy concerns. In particular, Britain derives an important proportion of its domestic gas from Qatar which backs the Muslim Brotherhood.

Qatar has become a major supplier of liquefied natural gas to make good energy shortfalls as North Sea gas declines. Britain would have an interest in the proposed Qatar Turkey pipeline mooted in 2009 and dependent upon the Alawite Shia ruler Assad and his dynasty being removed.

One reason is that it would contain Iranian ambitions for a gas pipeline from the same South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf that it shares with Qatar and that would extend through Iraq and Syria towards the Eastern Mediterranean. Blocking Iranian gas exports westward is apiece with the sanctions policy.

Defending Qatar's regional interests against its competitor Iran is both big business and energy geopolitics. In April 2014 Hammond was, as Defence Secretary, asserting the benefits of having a permanent military base in Qatar and explicitly mentioned energy interests as the reason,
“The West is crucially dependent on a stable energy market above all else. Our economic recovery is fragile. Anything that calls for a spike in the oil price would derail it. The mostly likely scenario to cause that up spike is a surge in tension in this region, particularly in the Strait of Hormuz.
It is very much in our interest to have a stable situation in the Gulf. That is why Western countries are prepared to invest so much in this region and supporting the Gulf states to maintain that stability,”
The reason for retaining the failed and yet desperate and risky policy of backing the Free Syria Army in Syria, while supporting the Kurds in Iraq and courting Iran to defend Baghdad, is largely about Britain's dependence on Qatari gas, especially with the conflict in Ukraine potentially affecting supplies from Russia.

The other interest is in lucrative arms deals for Britain worth QR230mn and the colossal amount of investment Qatar's sovereign wealth fund puts into London to prop up the ailing and fragile rentier economy of the United Kingdom. These are all basic geostrategic facts about Britain's foreign policy.

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