Why didn't Hitler invade Middle East for resources instead of Soviet Union? Or at least invade Middle East first to secure the resources needed for sustained military operation?
I understand Hitler had long yearned for a showndown with the Bolshevism. But considering the raw material dependency Germany had towards USSR prior to Operation Barbarossa would mean (even more) serious shortage on oil, grain, wood products and various metals -- as expensive as Soviet products may be.
How much resource production did Nazi Germany seize from western USSR? The cost of occupying conquered Soviet territory seems likely greater to me. I seriously doubt, whatever the amount is, it would cover the increased demand from military operations and lost Soviet imports otherwise. Germany may have had a stockpile of materials. But according to the linked Wikipedia article, the stockpile of oil would deplete completely by June 1941 using British estimates which was without Operation Barbarossa and rubber stockpile would expire in two months after the import through USSR is cut off. What appears to me is that Nazi Germany did not have the ability to sustain a war against USSR for more than half a year. If that is indeed true, then the resource shortage is one way to see how the Nazi leadership had no contingency for Operation Barbarossa to last for even more than half a year. It is one thing to hope for a swift victory but it is pure stupidity to expect a swift victory as a certainty.
So why then would Hitler invade USSR prior to resource security which would mean security in arm production which would result in sustained strategic military superiority? Why not invade or puppet Greece, Turkey and then through Turkey invade Middle East, securing the alluminun and other metals and the oil that Germany needed? That would also open up access to British Raj and even Singapore with all the rubber out there. (Can trade with Japan by then.) Nazi Germany did end up invading Greece after all
It is worth pointing out that Germany would always have been at a huge disadvantage in a war of attrition against the USSR, they have vastly fewer people, smaller industrial base and tactical depth. Even if they had the resource wealth of the whole Middle East and Africa they would have run out of men in a year or two. What mattered more was trying to catch Russia in a decisive and fast attack to force the war to end fast before a war of attrition could begin. That was the goal of Barbarossa.
A similar point is often made about Japan, they imported all their oil from the US at the Outbreak of hostilities they had one years supply stockpiled. About a year later they ran out. They Japanese Admiral Yamamoto famously said they he would run rampant for a year but would they would be defeated.
It is worth remembering that capturing a region does not automatically connect its resources to your factories. Even a successful invasion of the middle east through Turkey would create a very long and difficult logistics supply line that could be easily attacked from the north along several paths by the Russians in an eventual war or from the south and east by the British who had the dominant surface fleet and easy access to of many of those territories.
Lets examine the routes that Germany could have taken to the middle east
Amphibious landing - take off from Germany or southern occupied France and land on western coast of the middle east somewhere between Egypt and turkey. Not an option the German fleet was to weak to break out of the North Sea let alone protect a massive landing fleet.
Fight East from North Africa - Rommel and the north Africa corps did try to fight from Tunisia into Egypt but were defeated by first the British and later the Americans. In this way the Germans did try to invade the middle east and failed.
Invade from the North from East of the Black Sea - Well that would mean invading Russia so this path does not let you get to the middle east without fighting Russia first.
Invade from the north from West of the Black Sea- Well this means either mounting an amphibious crossing of the Black sea ( see the first problem) or an invasion of the Balkans then turkey. This would have been hard and numerous mountains they would cross and long distance would wreak havoc on their supply chain but it is the most feasible. The Brits would also have transferred troops from north Africa to fight there instead, Most of the middle east was easy to reach and reinforce for the British so why would they have been less defended than North Africa?
Because he wasn't a good strategic thinker and was more of an impulsive, borderline crazy, person(i even read a theory that associated his different behaviours with the use of different drugs, and frankly, it even made a little sense).
In Nazi Germany, most decisions were taken by Hitler, based on his own perceptions of reality and facts, and he rarely listened to his advisors or generals(unless they could appeal to his maniacal/ideological/political/personal side and influence it, like Goring did), regardless of their experience and prowess. He dismissed generals on a whim because they failed in a battle where a more observant person would see they made a briliant defence.
There were multiple renowned, experienced people, like:
Erich Raeder, Grossadmiral and in charge of the Kriegsmarine, the German Navy
Erwin Rommel, at the time a renowned General and a (relatively) close friend of Hitler(he got his first command, the 7th Panzer Division, due to his proximity to Hitler, and was hated for it, until he proved himself to be a great Panzer commander in the Invasion of France), who was given command of the Deutsches Afrikakorps, the German war effort in North Africa
Who advocated for a strong push in North Africa, listing the following positive sides of such a campaign:
control of Egypt, which would permit to close the Suez cannal to British shipping thus severely limiting their naval capabilities in the Mediterranean(bear in mind that at the time most of British supplies for this theater came from around Africa and through Suez due to the dangers of Italian and German commerce raiding) and their communications with India
the easy possibility to occupy the vast oil rich lands in the Middle East which were under weak colonial rule(the Levant, Iraq, even Saudi Arabia), had some German friendliness(there was even a pro-German coup d'état in Iraq, and iranians were considered to be part of the Aryan race) so realtively easy to occupy
in the future war with the Soviet Union, the presence of an extra front - the Caucasus region, full of Muslims[so potentially unhappy with Soviet rule] borders Iran[then known as Persia], and containing most of the Soviet oil, so extremely critical to the Soviet war effort, and, Germany had a good mountain corps, so fighting in the mountains in the Northern Caucasus woudln't have been such an obstacle to them
And the funny thing is, Rommel, with his measely 2 divisions and the almost good-for-nothing Italians, was pretty close to defeating the British in Egypt.
Just imagine what could have happened had he had the firepower and ressources he wanted.
Basically, any logical mind would say that it's worth it, but Hitler isn't known to be very logical. Yes, he was extremely intelligent, had good people skills and etc. but he did make a plethora of bad geopolitical and strategic decisions.
Logistics were going to be difficult for such a theatre, but they were going to be easier to manage than those in the North African desert on its own(with Suez and Alexandria under German control, the only western British bases were Cyprus and Malta, much easier to subdue), due to a lesser British presence and shorter shipping lanes(Taranto->Tobruk is longer and closer to a British base[Malta] than Pirea->Haifa or Varna->Trabzon).
Edited as per the comments to better link the two parts of the response and add more detail.
1/ Hitler wanted to invade the soviet union and he was not a think things through throughly and take his time sort of guy,he lacked patience
2/he underestimated the difficulties in invading the soviet union and he believed the whole rotten structure would collapse.
3/Nazi Germany, it's Government, the army were run by 'yes men' no one was really going to bring Hitler up short with cold hard facts.
4/ it would not have worked. why? Logistics. It's a very long way to the Oil, it's very hard to get to and get it back somewhere useful. there was not enough naval resources to do it by sea, the royal navy from a vast number of suitable bases would easily interdict any such attempt. the railways did not exists and it would take years to build the railways. only a very very small force could be supplied entirely by road and not that far, the germans were incapable of projecting a large military force into the middle east and logistically supplying it.
Summary: Hitler's original plan never included Middle East. The course of war might forced him to change his plans, but the basic ideas was always Russia.
Churchill mentioned in his "World War II" that British were very concerned that Germans could invade Syria and move eastward to get to oil rich regions, perhaps as far as Iran. Because of that British kept substantial forces there that were idle while the war right around the corner in North Africa were going back-and-forth like a pendulum. British even kept an entire division in Cyprus to prevent Germans from invading it much as they invaded Crete and making Cyprus one of the stepping stones toward Syria.
These concerned have never materialized. Churchill mentioned several possible reasons. One reason was the German Pyrrhic victory in Crete, where their best parachute division got mauled to such extent that it couldn't be used again with the same vigor; Churchill speculates that if not for Crete Goering division could have been dropped directly on Damascus where British didn't have sufficient troops for any kind of defense.
Another reason was British naval control over Eastern Mediterranean, which already almost led to capture of a German mountain division that got scattered on its way to invade Crete by sea, which caused Germans to rely solely on Goering parachute division for that purpose. With the naval invasion proven impossible against British Mediterranean navy and parachute invasion resources spent almost completely on Crete and strong British army presence all along Levant coast from Cyprus to Egypt Germans just didn't have enough resource to strike though toward Middle Eastern oil production.
Finally, Churchill mentions German shift of focus toward Russia as the third reason why the invasion why the German invasion of Levant never materialized. Perhaps Hitler was more confident in his army getting to the oil of Caucasus than in his marines getting to the oil of the Middle East.
The German military -- and indeed large parts of its economy -- were built up through short-term financial schemes.
By the time the military was ready to attack on any front, those schemes were about to run out. Going to war, putting banks under direct control of the government etc. was the only way to keep the whole economy from collapsing.
At the same time, Germany could not (yet) go for all-out wartime production. For one they were still hoping to keep the western powers appeased, for another they needed the support by the populace.
From a certain point onward, Germany -- being heavily outnumbered in manpower, resources, and production capacity even if considering only Russia as an opponent -- had only that one chance, going to war, and winning it within one year, two at the most, through surprise and "Blitzkrieg" tactics (or "shock and awe" as we would call it today).
Anything longer than that would mean a war of attrition, which Germany had no hope of winning -- even if resources were captured elsewhere in the meantime, and even with the whole economy geared toward weapon manufacture. (Which it historically did not do until 1942/43, when the chances at winning the war -- as opposed to prolonging it -- were already gone.)
At the same time, Russia was gaining strength after Stalin's purges, and became a stronger enemy by the month.
Taking a detour through the middle east would have gained little, and given away the only chance Germany had at coming out on top -- surprising and crushing Russia in one fell stroke.
Wikipedia: Economy of Nazi Germany. (The German article seems to be even better.)
Well I guess you should see your question in a bigger context. Hitlers aim was to lead Germany to a dominant major power (maybe THE dominant major power) of Europe (maybe the world). In his opinion for this you need the right nation (--> "Arier") and enough land (-->"Erweiterung des Lebensraums"). Furthermore he believed that this "land" should be connected. In his opinion a colonial nation (like the British would not match). So his main 'threat' was Russia and at the same time Russia was his best price (enough land who could conquer for his own).
His first war action (invasion of Poland) was a gamble. How would the allies react? Luckily for him the allied did nothing (okay they declared war but France didn't invade Germany - there were reasons for this, but I guess it should be another topic).
After the success over France (France count as the strongest land force at this time) and the successful "Blitzkrieg" doctrine no-one had any doubt about a successful campaign against Russia. So in my honest opinion after the failure of operation Barbarossa the war for Germany was lost.
You see the Germans never had consider about resources because they never planned a long ongoing war against one nation. They always tried to defeat single nations with their "Blitzkrieg" tactic and took them out of the war (Poland, Denmark and Norway, the Benelux and France, Yugoslavia and Greece).
So the main goal was to attack Russia and the "strategic" calculation was to defeat them quickly and sadly for the Nazis but good for all others, they never wasted their time for a plan B - as you did (get enough resources elsewhere to be prepared if the main battle plan fails).
After the winter war against finnland no one thought that that the soviets could win against germany, even the allies were sure that the weeks would be other within weeks. Also you have to keep in mind 2 thinks russia will get stronger per day and also has a ideology which wants to capture the world and the supply situation would have been a lot better if italy would have attacked greece bc germany could have started the war early and would not have been stuck in the russian winter than.