You know this. But you may not be fully aware of the urgency or the full implications:
At this very moment, the Islamic State is moving forward rapidly to expand its worldwide reach, with untold consequences for Americans, global trade, financial markets and investors everywhere.
The Islamic State has declared “provinces” in ten nations, including four that are among the top ten oil-reserve countries of the world — Saudi Arabia with 268 billion barrels of proven reserves, Iraq (140 billion barrels), Libya (48 billion), and Nigeria (37 billion).
It boasts over 40 affiliates in countries that encompass most of the world’s population outside China and most of the world’s wealth outside the United States.
It has mounted or inspired deadly terrorist attacks on every continent except Antarctica — in Algeria, Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey and more — many of which are home countries of high-net-worth investors.
Just since the game-changing Paris attacks, the Islamic State has threatened to attack New York, Washington, and Rome … has plotted the assassination of the Pope … has inspired the San Bernardino shootings … and has beheaded a Russian citizen on video, promising bloody revenge.
“Here today, on this blessed land,” declared the executioner in Russian, “the battle begins. We shall kill your children for every child you’ve killed here. And we will destroy your homes for each home you destroyed here.”
In contrast, the declarations of resolve from Russia and the West, no matter how forcefully intended, currently seem timid by comparison.
In hollow echoes of George Bush’s first post-9/11 speech, Russian President Putin has declared “we will search for them everywhere.”
French President François Hollande has vowed to be “merciless toward the barbarians.”
President Obama has upgraded his opinion of the Islamic State from “the JV team” to “a bunch of killers with good social media.”
And UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has routinely issued press releases that crank out condemnations and condolences with the precision of a cookie cutter.
What do Obama and Putin have in common?
Right now, not much — except perhaps for the fact that both appear together in a doctored-up photo posted by the Islamic State in its Russian-language online magazine, “Istok.” It shows both presidents in orange execution jumpsuits, behind a blood-drenched executioner’s knife.
I bring this image to your attention because, metaphorically, it leads to the three main points I make here today:
- More terror. Until Russia and the West recognize that both are victims of the same evil forces — and respond to the threat with a single unified front — those forces will continue to foment and exploit the East-West divide, spilling more blood and spreading more fear.
- Capital flight. Until the Islamic State is stopped in its tracks, with a reasonable expectation of its ultimate demise, flight capital will continue to move from vulnerable regions of the globe to safe-haven countries like the U.S. or Japan. And …
- New threats to natural resources. If the Islamic State is able to continue on this path, it could soon begin to threaten the supply of scarce resources, especially oil.
Unfortunately, instead of bringing the global powers together to confront a common enemy, global terrorism has stoked and provoked more global conflict — between the U.S. and its regional allies, between Russia and NATO countries, between East and West, and among regional powers. Consider, for example …
The 3-Way Mess Among the U.S.,
Turkey and Kurdish Minorities
Turkey is a member of NATO and America’s number one regional ally, now lending direct support to U.S. efforts against the Islamic State on multiple levels — bases for U.S. fighter jets, joint air operations and more.
Kurdish minorities, with no nation of their own, include a population of roughly 40 million peoples of Persian ancestry living primarily in Eastern Turkey, Northern Syria, Northern Iraq and Iran.
Inside Syria and Iraq, with central governments in disarray, the Kurds currently have the only troops capable of mounting offensives against the Islamic State. They are the #1 on-the-ground ally of the American-led coalition.
The big dilemma: Although both Turkey and the Kurdish militants are our two staunchest allies in the war against the Islamic State, they are also each other’s single worst enemies: Since 1984, when the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) began a major insurgency against the Turkish government, the two have been waging a long, on-again-off-again civil war.
Result: In Syria and Iraq, we need the Kurdish militants badly and are starting to support them massively. But in Turkey, we directly support the same government that’s out to destroy them.
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Given the uncommon urgency to contain and destroy the Islamic State, you’d think Turkey and the Kurdish militants would find common ground to fight against them.
And in 2013, before the surge of the Islamic State, they were starting to do just that: They declared a ceasefire and began negotiating a so-called “solution process.” For the first time in 30 years, Turkey’s civil war seemed finally close to ending.
But then, in mid-July of last year, due to the rapid expansion of the Islamic State in Syria, the peace process between Turks and Kurds abruptly fell apart.
As you may recall, that’s when the Islamic State was on the verge of capturing or murdering tens of thousands of men, women and children of the Yazidi minority in Syria. That was bad.
Trouble is, that’s also when the Kurdish PKK began sending its fighters into Syria to help save them. But the Turkish government, alarmed by any kind of Kurdish mobilization, tried to block them at the border. Clashes erupted. Blood was shed. And the ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurdish militants collapsed. That was also bad.
In response, Kurds in Turkey staged massive street protests, demanding that the Turkish government help them — or at least allow them — to go into battle against the Islamic State. But instead of granting them their wish, the government sent out the Turkish Air Force to bomb their positions in Eastern Turkey. That was even worse.
The U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State suffered a serious setback. And the Islamic State rejoiced.
The 3-Way Disaster Among Russia,
The Turkmens of Syria, and Turkey
Russia, as you well know, has jumped into the Syrian civil war with the primary goal of propping up Syrian President Assad and bombing all of his enemies, regardless of whether friend or foe of the U.S.
Turkmens of Syria are descendants and kin of Turkish peoples who have lived in Northern Syria since the 11th Century. Their militia — the Syrian Turkmen Brigades — is one of the moderate groups also helping in the fight against the Islamic State.
Turkey considers them to be virtually a part of their own domestic population. Plus, at the same time, until this month, Turkey had been slowly but surely building a strong economic alliance with Russia. So, in an ideal world, there was hope of some kind of three-way alliance among the three.
The dilemma: The Syrian Turkmen Brigades have also been fighting to topple Syrian President Assad, Russia’s staunch ally. They also happen to live in the same exact region of Syria where Russia has established a permanent base. And in recent weeks, the Russia Air Force has been bombing their positions relentlessly. Bad.
That’s one of the real reasons Turkish president Recep Erdoğan was so angry at Russian President Vladimir Putin. It’s also probably why he didn’t hesitate to shoot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 bomber aircraft near the Syria-Turkey border on November 24. Also bad.
And now, that incident is why Turkish-Russian trade deals and joint ventures, carefully negotiated over many years, have suddenly collapsed. Tragic.
Not only that. But since Turkey is a NATO ally, Russia is also blaming the United States, dashing recent hopes of a Russian-American alliance against the Islamic State. A disaster of global consequences.
Again, the fight against the Islamic State has suffered a serious setback. And again, the Islamic State has rejoiced.
Nearly Everyone Pointing
Guns at Nearly Everyone Else
From the get-go, each side in the Iraqi and Syrian civil wars — Russia, the United States, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and many others — have had a different agenda and saw different enemies on the battlefield.
And from the very beginning, whether directly or indirectly, each side has been pointing guns at the other.
What’s worse, some of the world’s largest economic and military powers are now lining up on opposite sides of the millennial conflict I’ve been warning you about for many years — Sunnis vs. Shiites.
- Russia, Iran, Syria, Iraq and their allies are jumping in on the Shiite side, while …
- United States, France, the UK, Germany, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and most other Muslim nations are piling in on the Sunni side.
The result is a global war that, tragically, revolves around a central axis of irreconcilable religious beliefs, hatred, tooth-for-tooth revenge killing and seemingly limitless civilian bloodshed.
Again, the Islamic State is the beneficiary. Again, they’re celebrating. Worse, they’re finding new ways to deliberately inflame the conflict to their strategic advantage.
They Know What They’re Doing
The Islamic State leaders know they’re playing a role in fomenting global conflict that goes far beyond the Middle East.
They know global conflicts and regional civil wars generate their best hunting grounds for recruitment and power grabs.
And they also know that, in almost every corner of the planet, their attacks give each country’s political leaders a handy excuse to more severely repress their own people … more directly invade the privacy of their citizens … and more deeply draw lines in the sand between themselves and traditional foes.
We see this happening not only in regions directly impacted by the conflict, not only in countries lacking a deep democratic tradition, but, to a lesser degree, even in Western countries that, until recently, were seen as staunch defenders of personal and religious freedoms. The Islamic state wants to see that happen as well.
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The Islamic State also rejoices when international joint ventures, like the Russo-Turkish pacts, are cast aside.
They celebrate when trade relations — such as between Russia and Western Europe — are summarily gutted.
And what makes them especially happy is when moderates in both the West and the East — including peace-loving Muslims who could be among the West’s staunchest allies in the war on terror — are marginalized, ostracized, or worse.
And, alas, this seems to be a goal they’re starting to achieve as well.
In sum …
As I explained here as recently as two weeks ago, and have stressed again today, the Islamic State is now one of the most powerful drivers behind the Global Money Tsunami — flight capital rushing to the world’s remaining safe havens. (See ““Four Shocking Truths about ISIS.”)
Second, this spreading war could soon begin to impact major oil-reserve nations at a time when Saudi Arabia and OPEC are still eyeing supply cutbacks (despite their failure to agree on Friday).
And third, although the U.S. coalition has won some battles, it’s obviously losing the war.
Here, courtesy of the New York Times, is a map showing the ten countries which the Islamic State has declared “provinces” of its caliphate:
In some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Algeria, the so-called “province” is more symbolic than real. But in others — Iraq, Syria, Libya, Nigeria, and Afghanistan — the Islamic State and its affiliates control territory and rule populations — often in large or strategic areas of the country.
Moreover, in major oil countries like Saudi Arabia or Algeria, never underestimate their ability to foment pre-existing hatreds — not only between Sunnis and Shiites, but also between rich and poor, or between autocratic rulers and disenfranchised citizens.
Never underestimate their role in instigating civil war, creating still more opportunities for them to conquer territory and resources. This is what has happened in Iraq and Syria. It’s also what could happen in Pakistan, even Saudi Arabia.
Plus, there’s the New York Times graphic of the major attacks directed or inspired by the Islamic State …
Notice how they’ve ballooned just in the past 12 months.
Notice how, last year, they were almost exclusively home-grown, lone-wolf attacks … but this year, are usually controlled directly by the Islamic State.
And look how last year, they were limited to just a few attacks in a few countries … but now have gone global and become far more frequent.
I don’t have to tell you this is an ugly trend. I don’t have to tell you it’s showing every sign of escalating — possibly dramatically.
And yet, still, the very countries that must urgently align themselves against this trend remain splintered, still pointing — even firing — weapons at each other.
Clearly, fighting multiple enemies on multiple fronts doesn’t work. Russia and America must choose just one enemy at a time; and right now that must be the Islamic State. Other enemies can wait their turn.
It’s also self-evident that bombing doesn’t work. It may give chest-pounding national leaders something to do and rant about. But it rarely stops this enemy; and it always helps create more enemies they can recruit.
From day one, nearly every tactic the U.S., Russia and their allies have pursued has merely played into their hands.
Let’s pray our leaders come to their senses and do so quickly.
But don’t hold your breath. Instead, continue to build your wealth by following the global flow of money. And don’t be surprised if you see major threats to oil and other natural resources in the not-too-distant future.
Good luck and God bless!
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