Geopolitical conflicts in 2016 (Part I)

Geopolitical conflicts in 2016 (Part I)

By Alfonso Elizondo

Created Monday December 28 2015

During 2015 several conflicts erupted around the world that have not been resolved and will continue to represent a serious problem for peace and security in the world in 2016. Although it is very difficult to establish its significance, I will only make reference, and the order mentioned does not in any way refer to their level of relevance.

1. Collapse of oil prices. According to the BBC in London, oil prices plummeted in the first week of December this year, when the Brent reached 40.70 US dollars and West Texas 37.63 US dollar, the lowest value since 2009.  Experts and analysts in the field believe that this collapse is a clear consequence of the meeting between members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which got together last week’s Friday, and decided to maintain the unrefined production in the region thus prices remain low.

According to Pouyonne Patrick, director of the French oil company Total, the oil supply will beat its demand until at least the second half of 2016. This will generate winners and losers. Among the first are the producers of oil shale in the United States, which produce nearly 4,000 million barrels per day and the cost of producing each barrel is lower than that of traditional wells.

Therefore the price of a liter of gasoline in the US has fallen to 2.05 $ per gallon, while industries with high consumption of diesel and petrol, such as airlines, basic industry and electricity generators will benefit from this.

According to Nick Cunningham, from the website Oil, the Government of Venezuela is one of the victims of the low price for oil, which has destroyed the country’s economy, wiping the main sources of income and weakening the value currency, since Venezuela has the cheapest gasoline in the world, currently reaching 0.02 US dollars per liter.

Other losers in this game were the transnational oil companies such as Chevron and Exxon Mobil, as well as the shares of energy companies. The same happened with OPEC, which now depends on the decisions that will be taken by the US producers of shale oil, the development in the negotiations with Iran and the consumption by industry in China.

Alternative energies took also a blow, despite being cheaper than carbon and oil, when the price of unrefined oil drops it is more difficult to save by implementing solar, hydraulic and wind energy, and this could generate a high impact in environmental pollution.

2.  Last September Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Refugee Commission since early 2015, said on the problem of immigration crisis in Europe that around 500,000 people seeking international asylum had reached Europe. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the total number of refugees could rise to a million between 2015 and 2016.

The main migrant groups who seek their future in Europe have been the Syrians (about 80,000) and Eritreans (27,000) living in a dictatorship that violates human rights. Also some 25,500 Afghans arriving in Europe through Greece, while other groups from African countries migrated in smaller numbers to Spain and Italy.

The decision of their final destination for migrants is the product of several factors, such as language in the case of Great Britain and France, where families who migrated there in the 50s are now looking forward to be reunited. In the case of Germany, during the early 60ís a policy to invite workers in the country was promoted, and those same individuals are now trying to get their family there, for whom refugee status is granted. Something similar is also happening in Sweden and Finland.

According to the UNHCR, the main reasons for this migration crisis broke out in Europe four years ago, due to the civil war in Syria who left more than 12 million people homeless and hopeless (more than 50% of its entire population) People lost their belongings and houses, unemployment skyrocketed as well as inflation, while the value of the currency plummeted to 90%. In addition they are experiencing harsh situations such as power supply available only 2-4 hours per day and a shortage of water, so that more than half of the Syrian population live in poverty. According to UNHCR, most of the displaced Syrians who left their country are now Turkey (1.9 million), while there are 1.1 million in Lebanon, 629,000 in Cisjordan, 250,000 in Iraq and 132,000 in Egypt, 86% of them living under the poverty line. So far in 2015 almost 3000 people have died in the attempt to cross the Mediterranean, and we have witnessed the development of networks dealing with human trafficking on routes from Africa to Europe.

3. Another serious current geopolitical conflict is the war on drug in Afghanistan. The war continues and nobody knows where from clandestine transmissions come from, but ISIS uses them to threaten government officials and ask the Afghan youth to join their holy war. On Monday six American soldiers were killed near Bagram air base, and this put into question Obama’s decision to maintain a maximum of 9,800 soldiers in Afghanistan in the next year, and the idea of ​​leaving only 5,500 before he leaves office. This may suggest that Obama · will probably leave office without concluding one of its most important missions

The production on drugs has become one of the main threats to the countries in the region, although most of the drugs come from Afghanistan and this is one of the main routes for transport to Central Asia, Europe and Russia. According to the UN Department for Drugs and Crime (UNDDC), Afghanistan produces 93% of the world’s opium and cocaine, and then distributes them using three routes: Central Asia, Pakistan and Iran; the most problematic one is the Central Asia one, because it crosses countries of recent formation and therefore hinting their precarious stability.

4. Israeli settlements in Cisjordania. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the flow of tax-deductible donations of about 50 groups based in the United States were used for all kinds of purposes, from buying home appliances to give aid to the families of occupying Jewish terrorists in the Cisjordanian territories.

This means that the US government is encouraging and indirectly supporting · Israeli settlement movement in Cisjordania, despite the fact that the US administrations has in theory opposed this for the past 48 years. Haaretz carried out an investigation, which estimated that between 2009 and 2013 these movements amounted to 281 million dollars, 80% of them presented as donations and the rest as income from capital investments. After one year of the investigation Prime Minister Netanyahu and members of the Republican Party were found involved, although the little transparency from both the US and Israel make it difficult to gather complete information regarding all the donors.

Haaretz contacted the White House to question whether the tax exemption of these organizations does not contradict Israel’s political stance on Washington expansion of settlements in the Palestinian territories. A senior official at the White House stated that the position of all governments, since Israel occupied Palestine in 1967 has been to oppose Jewish settlements beyond the borders set in 1967. It is however known around the world that the United States gives 3,000 million dollar a year to the Jews to keep the Palestinian people subjugated and continue to expand its borders, while Arab countries stop being puppets of the United States and continue to help them manage the World economy in its own way.