Why World War 3 is Already Here
It is a well known fact that the Americans and the Europeans are desperately looking for an alternative supplier of natural gas, to diminish the influence of the Russian state owned giant Gazprom over European states, since Gazprom supplies approximately 30% of the E.U. natural gas imports.
The war in Ukraine is only one episode of this battle, as I was describing in my essay “The Energy War Between U.S.A. and the Threat for Israel’s Survival”. Natural gas is considered as a cleaner form of energy than crude oil, and together with the innovations in the production of shale gas, natural gas reserves are expected to provide an energy source for more decades than oil. Many experts do not expect oil resources to last more than 3 or 4 decades.
The problem with natural gas is that the best and cheapest way to be transported is through pipeline networks, and not through liquefying facilities and subsequent transportations with ships. However it is very difficult to develop pipeline networks through hostile countries, battle zones, and sea areas. And unfortunately it seems that after World War 2, it is again time for geographical borders to change, either for these pipeline networks to be developed, or simply as a result of the political conflicts that arise due to these networks’ construction.
Even though I am not a specialist, I will make some remarks that follow by simply looking at the map. As it can be seen on the map, the only way to provide a serious alternative to Gazprom is by connecting the energy rich Caspian and Persian Gulf regions to Europe through Turkey. It can be seen that this can only be done through Turkey (black line), and then either through Greece, Bulgaria or Rumania (white and yellow lines). Therefore Turkey’s geopolitical importance is dramatically enhanced. This is actually the reason that Turkey affords to be so aggressive towards Israel as I explain in my essay “The True Causes of the Conflict Between Turkey and Israel”. Turkey would not dare provoke Israel in the old days, since Israel used to be the Americans’ strongest ally in the region.
However Turkey is now geopolitically more valuable for the Americans than Israel, because the U.S. can control the Persian Gulf through their military bases in Qatar, but they cannot diminish Gazprom’s influence in Europe without Turkey. Therefore the first thing we note is that the West needs Turkey to undermine Gazprom. The next thing is to examine what is going on behind Turkey. As you can see on the map, the only way to reach Turkey is through Azerbaijan and Georgia. This is the only corridor between the Iran and Russia. Iran is a famous U.S. enemy, and Russia together with China, are the U.S. greatest competitors as superpowers.
The Americans did manage to construct a pipeline through the NATO friendly Azerbaijan, following the route Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey, the famous Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, and the Azerbaijan-Georgia route, the Baku-Supsa pipeline. The first one delivers Caspian oil to the Mediterranean Sea (Ceyhan), and the second one delivers Caspian oil to the Black Sea (Supsa). However as I already said the main concern for the Americans and the Europeans is natural gas and Gazprom.
The problem is that Azerbaijan is the smallest of the six Caspian states, and it does not have adequate oil and natural gas resources to provide an adequate alternative to the Russian giant Gazprom. As you can see at the following Wikipedia links, Azerbaijan is the 27th richest country in natural gas, and has less than 1/50 of the Russian natural gas reserves, and it is the 21st richest country in oil, and has less than 1/10 of Russian oil reserves.
Therefore if the Europeans and the Americans want to find a true alternative to Gazprom and Russia, they will have to connect to the Azerbaijani network, natural gas from the region’s big players. These players are Iran and Iraq under the Caspian, and Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan at the opposite side of the Caspian Sea. The Trans-Caspian project is a pipeline that would connect Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan could add natural gas and oil in the pipeline, in order for quantities to be sufficient to satisfy European demand. For the Trans-Caspian pipeline see the following Wikipedia link.
The Trans-Caspian project is not only technically difficult and expensive, but it faces many other problems. Most of these countries are already connected to Russia and China. Actually all three have already signed agreements with China and Russia that already stretch their production capacities. China is already connected through pipelines to these countries (see orange lines), with the Central Asia China Pipeline (Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Kazakhstan). For the Central Asia China Pipeline see Wikipedia.
This is a very good analysis about the problems facing the Trans-Caspian Pipeline project.
The three counties are also connected through the Central Asia Center Pipeline (purple line) to Russia. With this pipeline these countries send their natural gas to Russia, in order to be sold through the Gazprom network. For the Central Asia Center Pipeline see the following Wikipedia link.
Moreover this region is militarily dominated by Russia, and all these countries are afraid Russia’s retaliation in case they closely cooperate with the West, since they all know what happened to Azerbaijan and Georgia that did so. Russia provided a lot of military support to Armenia in the Armenia-Azerbaijan war, and many say that the Russians were encouraging the Armenians, and Russia and Georgia are in a constant state of war.
Therefore even though the West has not abandon the idea of the Trans-Caspian project, things would be a lot simpler if the Iraqi and Iranian natural gas were poured in the Azerbaijani network (green lines). Iraq is currently in war, and Kurdistan, its northern part, is already cooperating with Turkey. Therefore it seems plausible that the West will help the Kurds to gain their independence, which means that Iraq will have to be partitioned.
The other player, which is actually the big player, is Iran. Iran is one of the richest countries in the world in both oil and natural gas. It is richer than Russia in oil, and a bit poorer in terms of natural gas. The problem is that Iran is very hostile to the West, and much closer to the Russians and the Chinese. Actually the Iranians and the Chinese wanted to connect through a pipeline network following the route Iran-Pakistan-China (pink line), but China receded to the American threats for economic retaliations in case it did so, as you can read at the following article. I provide more information about the battle for Iran’s oil and natural gas between U.S.A. and China in my essay “The 21st Century War for Iran’s Oil and Natural Gas”.
Finally China said that it will use instead the TAPI Pipeline, Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India, which will be another drain for the resources of the Caspian Sea, but at least it is not trying to connect itself to the Persian Gulf, which is something that would be unacceptable for the U.S. and the European Union. Currently China buys oil and natural gas from the Persian Gulf, but there is a big geopolitical difference in buying through an Indian Ocean which is controlled by the American Navy, and be permanently connected through a pipeline network.
In my opinion if the West wants to have an alternative to the Gazprom pipeline network for Europe, it cannot afford to lose Iran. If Iran is controlled by Russia and China the dream of an alternative network, a network that would diminish the Russian influence is finished. The Americans and the Europeans obviously know that, and will not allow it to happen, either by reproaching Iran, or by bombing Iran. I do not know what will happen, but what I do know is that the West does not have the luxury to lose Iran if they take energy security so seriously.
On the other hand, the Russians know that if Iran is under the control of the West, Gazprom’s dominance will be threatened in Europe. Will the Russians allow that to happen? Some people say that neither the West nor the Russians will retreat. The wars in North Africa, in Syria and Iraq, and the war in Ukraine, are only episodes of this battle. Since the energy war is taking place in 3 continents, Africa, Europe and Asia, we can talk about a World War, or the Third World War.
Even though it is not directly related to the subject, I would like to bring to your attention the Russian city in the black circle i.e. Volgograd. Volgograd used to be the famous Stalingrad before it was renamed. In the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943, Hitler lost the Battle of Stalingrad, and he also lost the chance to access the Caspian oil. Many people believe that this was the main cause of Hitler’s defeat, since the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf, Libya (after 1942) and Algeria, were all controlled by the allies, which left the Germans thirsty for oil. Had Hitler won in Stalingrad in 1943, he would have access to the Caspian oil, and the outcome of the war might have been different.