It’s the only game in town. Although half the world is glued to the small screen, watching the magic of Neymar, Müller, and Messi, the real fight is elsewhere.

After three posts devoted to The India Road, I think it’s time to return to today’s world. In Atmos Fear, I describe a post-Bush Iraq where a Sunni terrorist is sponsored by U.S. petrodollars to cause violent mayhem—his backer, a Houston, Texas, based oil major, wants to force the American president to put boots on the ground. The hope is that more casualties will slow the U.S. withdrawal.

However, a new technology reduces the need for oil, and as a consequence, the United States has much less interest in pursuing a Mid-East agenda. Sound familiar?

My book was written a year before shale gas hit the headlines, and Assad turned Syria into a lunar landscape full of poison gas and wailing orphans.

But the chaos in Northern Iraq is uncannily close to the mark—except in today’s nightmare, my fictional Wahabi murderer is called Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Like my bad guy, the man from Baghdad dreams of the caliphate, and this week appointed himself Caliph Ibrahim.

Ibrahim in Islam is of course Abraham in the old testament and in the Jewish religion. Islam gives a title to only a few prophets, among which are Isa (Jesus), and Ibrahim, known as a friend of God.

The barbaric actions of the Islamic State in Iraq and Al Sham, or ISIS, offend the god of any man.

Al-Sham, which could well change its name to All Shame, grew out of a series of incredible missteps by the Americans, who are now leaving the locals to pick up the pieces. I can’t imagine anyone more worried about all this than Israel.

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away, the United States were Iran’s best friend. Then came the fall of the Shah, Ayatollah Khomeini, the Tehran embassy hostage crisis, and the Iran-Iraq war.

Now we have a new and very troubling world.

Since World War II, the Saudis saw America as their traditional allies. For the record, Saudi Arabia is Sunni. Also for the record, when nine-eleven happened, a substantial part of the U.S. administration had no idea about the difference between a Sunni and a Shia.

The Saudis were horrified to see Nuri al-Maliki (no he’s not an Algerian soccer player, he’s the prime minister of Iraq) come to power. A prominent Shia, he was favorably contemplated by the U.S. administration—and also by Iran. As Netanyahu pointedly remarked in a recent interview, ‘In the Middle East the enemy of my enemy is not my friend, he’s still my enemy.’

Al-Maliki was profiled this week by the Washington Post, in an article that describes him as a member of the theocratic Dawa party, devoted to placing the Shia in power at all costs.

So now we have a Shia prime minister in Iraq, an Iranian-backed Alawite President in Syria, and to the north, an ISIS sandwich centered on Kirkuk and Mosul, with the Kurds above. With me so far?  Oh, by the way, Alawites follow a branch of the Shia religion.

If you’ve been tracking, you’ll know by now that our friends of the caliphate persuasion are in large part fighters who’ve been part of the Syrian war these past two years. And as you would expect, they’re Sunni. Of the most radical persuasion—quite frankly, they make the Taliban look like choirboys.

The New World Order-but not as bush would have chosen it.

The New World Order—but not as Bush would have chosen it.

Videos of beheadings, people blown up inside buildings, and other high impact (sorry) materials have been making the rounds, on an internet that is now a tool of war. These images help radicalize delusioned youngsters from Birmingham or Bradford, aching to participate in their very own Jihad.

Abu Bakr takes his name from the famed Rashidun caliph who in the seventh century helped conquer the Levant—he’s the ideal icon for these misguided kids. The arms, training, and resources of ISIS are indirectly provided by the West, through the purchase of oil. Directly? I’d have to say Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, but also the U.S., who armed the (Sunni) Syrian rebels while Putin and Iran armed Assad.

The whole world has realized that Obama is a dog with no teeth—from North Korea to East Ukraine, it’s open season for evil-doers. In the Mid-East, as long as the oil flows out, the guns flow in. Politicians, military men, and would-be dictators wonder what on earth the U.S. is doing, handing over two trillion dollars of war to Iran, and severely straining the only two friendships it has in the region—Israel and the House of Saud.

The map of the caliphate drawn by ISIS matches the dream of the Saudi adventurer from Atmos Fear.

But the American wanted to discuss something else, something that threatened to endanger two businesses that were intimately entwined: the business of terrorism, and the business of oil. Khaled remembered clearly the words from six months before, the words of the Al Qaeda Imam, Allah rest his soul, when he had visited in Andalucia.

“Without oil there will be no Arab power.”

Without oil there would be no Al Qaeda.

A world without oil? No, that could not be. Petroleum needed to be brought up from the bowels of the earth, and sold to the Kufr at a good profit, so the fires of oil could consume the infidels―greed and wars could destroy their economies. There had been great empires, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, and now the Americans. But no empire had ever staged a comeback―Until now. The time was right, the Caliphate could regain its dominance. One world, from India in the Far East to Iberia in Western Europe. An economic and military block the likes of which the planet had never seen.

Drawing a map doesn’t make it come true, but it’s worth noting that the Levant, or al-Sham—an Arab term for the Near-East, which includes Israel and Jordan—is hardly the territorial limit.

Perhaps that’s why the movement has shortened its name to Islamic State, or IS. All Khaled’s dreams are there, from India and Iran to Al-Sharq (the east), all the way west to Al-Andaluz—present-day Iberia, in the Al-Gharb.

Once again, radical Islam seems keen to rewrite the Christian borders. But for now the struggle is a cruel, messy business between Shia and Sunni. Luckily without nuclear weapons—yet.

Now does this have the makings of a World Cup,  or what?

Atmos Fear and The India Road. Quick links for smartphones.

Atmos Fear and The India Road. Quick links for smartphones.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: