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  “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil”

Alan Greenspan

War-for-oil, or more precisely, power projection to preserve the petrodollar, is realpolitik.

Per capita energy usage in the United States is the highest among all nations of the world. The USA consumes 25% of would energy resources while having only 5% of the population. Approximately half of the energy used in the US is electrical energy  generated by coal-fired power plants. The other part is oil that is mainly imported.

Securing uninterruptable supply of oil became the key task of the USA foreign policy since president Carter. The second important goal is maintaining  dollar as the world primary reserve currency, and, especially, the main currency you can buy oil with.  That includes maintaining the stability of client Arab regimes, such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Oil Wars

Recently the USA waged several "oil wars" (Iraq war, Libya war, Syria war, attempt of "color revolution" in Russia) with the most brutal being the Iraq war. The two main messages from the war in Iraq are:

Manipulating the facts became the norm for the Bush administration, which invaded Iraq on what we know now (and the administration almost certainly knew then) were utterly false pretenses. Thanks to these lies, Americans, including our soldiers and civilians serving in Iraq, were killed or injured.  Links to the 9/11 attacks and the claim that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, two of the ever-evolving reasons for getting into the war were blatantly false from the very beginning.  They were fabricated to achieve specific goals.  Engaging in mass deception in order to justify official policy both degrades the society, so the war has had a detrimental effect on the USA, as a society. It just has shown that elites now are audacious enough to throw out even attempt to present their actions as legitimate of serving national goals. Of course, by far, it is ordinary Iraqis who have suffered the most.

We know now beyond any doubt that Iraq was not involved in 9/11 and had no weapons of mass destruction. But as Paul Pillar, a former senior CIA analyst with the Iraqi portfolio, wrote on March 14,

 “Intelligence did not drive the decision to invade Iraq – not by a long shot, despite the aggressive use by the Bush administration of cherry-picked fragments of intelligence reporting in its public sales campaign for the war.”

Indeed, this was a war for oil from the very beginning, and any little lie would have worked.

It is very fortuitous for all those politicians, policy makers, and bureaucrats with Iraqi blood on their hands — Republicans and Democrats both — that the only courtroom they’ve been shuffled into is the court of public opinion, where most received light sentences. Bush II actually was reelected for the second term.

Indeed, the Iraq war boosters are still a fixture on our television screens.

Sure, there are pundits and reporters who admit they wrongly supported the war, but their regrets are usually reserved for their blind faith in the war planners and their own lack of inquisitiveness. For example, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius confessed in a March 21 column that Iraq was one of “the biggest strategic errors in Modern American history.” But the thrust of his own mea culpa was that he did not write enough “on the overriding question of whether the war made sense,” which would have allowed him to see that the U.S was not strong enough nor flexible enough to succeed.

Rarely do pundits apologize for the horrendous Iraqi losses inflicted by the war: more than a million deaths and millions more wounded with varying lifelong disabilities, including thousands of tortured prisoners, with an estimated 16,000 of them still unaccounted for. Twenty-eight percent of Iraqi children suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and 2.8 million people are still internally displaced or living as refugees outside the country. Add to that the complete destruction of the Iraqi infrastructure outside oil sector, as well as its transportation, education, and medical institutions. Don’t forget the countless people suffering from trauma and depression, sectarian war with daily killings, terrifying birth defects from toxic pollution, and a brain drain that has left the country illiterate.

Not since the American Civil War has the U.S citizenry had to endure such horrors. Yet discussion of these repercussions is noticeably absent as we still struggle to understand the scope of the Iraq war and what all of its lies have wrought.

Let us start with a sincere apology to the Iraqi people for the crimes the U.S. government has committed. A long-range plan for restitution is a second step. Empires decline due to moral decay from within. Ten years after the invasion of Iraq, our nation is looking at the moral abyss. If lies have delivered us to this place, then only the truth will begin our journey back.

From Foreign Policy in Focus

The Real Reason for the Iraq War VICE United Kingdom

Because it was marked "confidential" on each page, the oil industry stooge couldn't believe the US State Department had given me a complete copy of their secret plans for the oil fields of Iraq.

Actually, the State Department had done no such thing. But my line of bullshit had been so well-practiced and the set-up on my mark had so thoroughly established my fake identity, that I almost began to believe my own lies.

I closed in. I said I wanted to make sure she and I were working from the same State Department draft. Could she tell me the official name, date and number of pages? She did.

Bingo! I'd just beaten the Military-Petroleum Complex in a lying contest, so I had a right to be chuffed.

After phoning numbers from California to Kazakhstan to trick my mark, my next calls were to the State Department and Pentagon. Now that I had the specs on the scheme for Iraq's oil – that State and Defense Department swore, in writing, did not exist – I told them I'd appreciate their handing over a copy (no expurgations, please) or there would be a very embarrassing story on BBC Newsnight.

Within days, our chief of investigations, Ms Badpenny, delivered to my shack in the woods outside New York a 323-page, three-volume programme for Iraq's oil crafted by George Bush's State Department and petroleum insiders meeting secretly in Houston, Texas.

I cracked open the pile of paper – and I was blown away.

Like most lefty journalists, I assumed that George Bush and Tony Blair invaded Iraq to buy up its oil fields, cheap and at gun-point, and cart off the oil. We thought we knew the neo-cons true casus belli: Blood for oil.

But the truth in the Options for Iraqi Oil Industry was worse than "Blood for Oil". Much, much worse.

The key was in the flow chart on page 15, Iraq Oil Regime Timeline & Scenario Analysis:

"...A single state-owned company ...enhances a government's relationship with OPEC."

Gas wars

EuroMaidan can be considered to be a proxy "gas war" when the USA hides behind Ukraine far right  to fight Russia and EU.  See

Asia Times Online China News, China Business News, Taiwan and Hong Kong News and Business.

Well, there is a plan BRICS - or so the BRICS nations would like to think, at least. And when the BRICS do act in this spirit on the global stage, they quickly conjure up a curious mix of fear, hysteria, and pugnaciousness in the Washington establishment.

Take Christopher Hill as an example. The former assistant secretary of state for East Asia and US ambassador to Iraq is now an advisor with the Albright Stonebridge Group, a consulting firm deeply connected to the White House and the State Department. When Russia was down and out, Hill used to dream of a hegemonic American "new world order". Now that the ungrateful Russians have spurned what "the West has been offering" - that is, "special status with NATO, a privileged relationship with the European Union, and partnership in international diplomatic endeavors" - they are, in his view, busy trying to revive the Soviet empire. Translation: if you're not our vassals, you're against us. Welcome to Cold War 2.0.

The Pentagon has its own version of this directed not so much at Russia as at China, which, its think tank on future warfare claims, is already at war with Washington in a number of ways. So if it's not apocalypse now, it's Armageddon tomorrow. And it goes without saying that whatever's going wrong, as the Obama administration very publicly "pivots" to Asia and the American media fills with talk about a revival of Cold War-era "containment policy" in the Pacific, it's all China's fault.

Embedded in the mad dash toward Cold War 2.0 are some ludicrous facts-on-the-ground: the US government, with $17.5 trillion in national debt and counting, is contemplating a financial showdown with Russia, the largest global energy producer and a major nuclear power, just as it's also promoting an economically unsustainable military encirclement of its largest creditor, China.

Russia runs a sizeable trade surplus. Humongous Chinese banks will have no trouble helping Russian banks out if Western funds dry up. In terms of inter-BRICS cooperation, few projects beat a $30 billion oil pipeline in the planning stages that will stretch from Russia to India via Northwest China.

Chinese companies are already eagerly discussing the possibility of taking part in the creation of a transport corridor from Russia into Crimea, as well as an airport, shipyard, and liquid natural gas terminal there. And there's another "thermonuclear" gambit in the making: the birth of a natural gas equivalent to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries that would include Russia, Iran, and reportedly disgruntled US ally Qatar.

The (unstated) BRICS long-term plan involves the creation of an alternative economic system featuring a basket of gold-backed currencies that would bypass the present America-centric global financial system. (No wonder Russia and China are amassing as much gold as they can.) The euro - a sound currency backed by large liquid bond markets and huge gold reserves - would be welcomed in as well.

It's no secret in Hong Kong that the Bank of China has been using a parallel SWIFT network to conduct every kind of trade with Tehran, which is under a heavy US sanctions regime. With Washington wielding Visa and MasterCard as weapons in a growing Cold War-style economic campaign against Russia, Moscow is about to implement an alternative payment and credit card system not controlled by Western finance.

An even easier route would be to adopt the Chinese Union Pay system, whose operations have already overtaken American Express in global volume.

 

Why Energy is Central to the Economy

BC, January 22, 2015 at 6:44 pm
Economics is politics. Politics is war by other means. War is the business of empire (hegemony). War is good business for imperialists.

Therefore, economics is the intellectual and political rationalization for the business objectives of imperial expansionism, expropriation, and co-optation of client-states’ elites by means of state violence when necessary, which is more often than not when resources become increasingly scarce and the hegemonic frontiers of expansionism are threatened.

Yet, most Americans do not yet perceive the US as an empire (successor to the British Empire), not surprisingly, which would necessarily require the inference that empires peak, decline, and eventually collapse, and we have been in relative decline since the 1970s-80s, which most of the working-class bottom 90% would have to concede were they honest with themselves and their fellows. And, no, McConnell, Romney, Rubio, Paul, et al., care not about the working-class bottom 90% but themselves and those deep-pocketed Republicans who cut the largest campaign finance checks.

But one suspects that the 80-90% of the population who were slaves during the Greek city-state dominance and later Roman Empire neither perceived themselves living in the context of imperial decline and incipient collapse, as their daily life experience was preoccupied with acquiescing to their imperial masters’ demands and the imperative to survive and thereafter subsist within their circumstances, if they/we’re luck . . ., or not.

Same as it ever was . . .

Coilin MacLochlainn, January 22, 2015 at 8:19 pm

Malthus was not wrong, he was right. The reason for that is, the Earth is finite and has limited resources. The human population has reached 7 billion. If it continues to grow, or even if it doesn’t, it will exceed the ability of the Earth’s remaining land base to support us.

In fact, it already has. Several of the Earth’s planetary limits have already been exceeded and we are cannibalising what remains of the Earth’s surviving natural resources just to keep going. What I mean is, we are using up the very resources that we rely on as a species to survive into the future. And at the same time, we are making it impossible for much of the rest of life on Earth to survive, which is why so many species are going extinct now and most will be wiped out before we are done.

For those of us living in the developed world, it is hard to picture this, because we are living off the exploitation of resources and labour in less well off countries.

There are also glaring examples of excessive exploitation in the developed world. For example, in California, which leads the world in the production of almonds, walnuts and pistachio nuts, there is not enough surface water available to supply the industry and so nut farmers are irrigating their crops using underground water. With the ongoing drought in California, the underground aquifer is not being recharged, so it won’t be long before the nut farmers run out of water and the industry goes bust. It will go bust and it will also leave the aquifer dry, with no possibility of refilling with water while the drought lasts, which could be for years or forever.

Jan Steinman, January 22, 2015 at 6:26 pm

“Capital is embodied energy.”

Are you talking about physical capital, such as factories, machines, and such?

A lot of very smart people seem to think “capital” is little bits of coloured paper, or even invisible magnetic bits on a spinning disk. But I think that’s where the second half of your essay (debt) comes into play.

It would be nice to have some simple term-of-art to distinguish between the two forms of “capital.” I agree that physical plant is capital. It may even be that, pre-Bretton Woods, money was an adequate symbol for capital. But it seems to me that there is way more money around than there is physical capital these days.

garand555, January 21, 2015 at 5:24 pm

Economics is a pseudo-science, at least the way it is practiced.

... ... ...

InAlaska, January 21, 2015 at 7:58 pm

Economists endorsed the idea of globalism after it became apparent that without it, national economies could no longer grow. Globalization is going to kill us because it removes from local control the basic production of necessities. Speaking of economics, here is part of a post on The Automatic Earth from yesterday concerning the Davos crowd and the World Economic Forum:

“When it comes to basic necessities, to food, water and shelter, we shouldn’t strive to compete with other economies. That is not good for us, or for our peers in those other economies; it’s good only for those who skim off the top. The larger and more globalized the top, the more there is to skim off. All the ‘reform’ is geared towards making our economies ever more dependent on the global economy. And that is not in our best interest.

It’s not all just even about money, it’s about our security, and independence. Everybody likes the idea of being independent, but at the same time few realize that globalization is the exact opposite of independence. Global trade is fine, as long as it’s limited to things we don’t need to survive, but it’s not fine if and when it takes away the ability of a community or a society to provide for itself.

Protectionism has acquired a really bad reputation, as if it’s inherently evil to try and protect your community from being gutted by economic ideas and systems it has no defense against, or to make sure it can generate and provide for its own basics at all times. But that’s just propaganda too.

If our societies are not designed and constructed to provide for themselves, they’ll end up with no choice but to go to war with each other. Along the same lines, if our societies don’t have strict laws in place that guarantee we can’t and won’t destroy the natural resources of the land we live on comes with, we’ll also end up going to war with each other.

We’re not going to solve the Gordian knot of the entire global economy and all the hubris and propaganda the present leading politicians, businessmen and ‘reporters’ bring to the table. And we probably shouldn’t want to. Our brains did not develop to do things on a global scale. The clowns will blow themselves up sooner or later. We should focus on what we can do, meanwhile, in our immediate surroundings.

And it’s pretty easy from there, really. The economic problems we have are mostly artificial. They have been induced by the broken economic model the Davos crowd, the central bankers and you know who else would have us believe is the one and only, and that they are busy fixing for our sake and greater glory. But they care only about their own glory.”

Gail Tverberg, January 22, 2015 at 8:38 pm

On the other hand, without the growth that was obtained from globalization, the financial system would have collapsed earlier. So in some sense, we are better off, even if it is not sustainable.

The US started hollowing out its manufacturing not too long after the oil problems of the 1970s. Japan came first in globalization, before the other Eastern countries.

InAlaska, January 21, 2015 at 7:24 pm

Liquid Assets,

Economists run the Federal Reserve Bank and all the central banks in the world. How has their “straight thinking” worked out? Has the world ever been in such a fiscal mess before? How have all of those over-educated PhDs in Economics done better than an Actuary could do?

Economics is the dismal “science” in part because it is predicated on the assumption that their can be infinite inputs into the system. Before you insult Gail and suggest she get a “real education,” consider that this whole edifice of “Economics” and endless growth is based on and within a finite world.

escravaisaurabr, January 22, 2015 at 7:33 am
InAlaska,

Two perceptive posts you wrote. Thank you.

I would like to add this post. I think most of you will appreciate. I sure love this post….

By falak pema

Economics is a means to achieve an end, like language.

So linguists are capable of understanding the logic of communication for DECISION MAKING; whether it be in words and intellectual concepts or in numbers/statistics and algorithms.

The issue here is that perfect markets like perfect speech do not exist for themselves in society, except for the “initiated”, but have a different function as a VEHICLE for body politic; which defines the AIMS and uses the means, all the means : of language as of images and of statistics and mathematical constructs.

So the thesis of the Mises/Hayek type Shamans that Economia is the “be-all” of society is just wrong. No more than the works of Shakespeare or Hugo, or of Picasso etc.

They do not define politics and power in society. They may influence it but they don’t define it’s objectives.

Linguists like economists can add substance to a political construct that defines the power play in civilization. And in that respect markets are just a means and their perfection as important as a perfect face on the screen.

All imagery or conceptual work in life is virtual.

It becomes real when it faces the real world of power and its continual balancing act; facts and irreversible acts that define our future as they have our past.

Chomsky is more relevant today to society than Mises.

The first analyses real political acts and consequences the other confines himself to theoretical pontification about the real economy looked at through the lens which keeps referring to the mantra of perfect markets.

Not saying markets are not important just saying they are not ALL important.

For the Mises theory to become reality we would have to live in a perfect “anarchy” state without government. The last time they wanted the state to “shrivel away” it was called the “ultimate step of communism” and it parented Stalinism. So…you have to know what you wish for in the REAL world.

History says you are wrong. You keep harping about a system that has gone off the cliff twice because of market forces being spiraled into Vesuvian eruption under irrational exuberance and greed and thanks to lack of Government regulation : in 1929 and 2008.

You are into DEEP denial of historical FACTS.

The historical thread shows us neo-feudal oligarchs are just as destructive of wealth creation as are statist hegemonists.

The only realistic solution is to balance state power and private oligarchy power and make sure NEITHER is in dominant position by having transparent control of public and private spending and by ensuring due diligence and SANCTIONS.

Today we have a Mussolinian economy of crony collusion between statists and oligarchs. We have the worst of both worlds.

We need good state governance and non monopolistic private sector innovative investment, compatible with “general good”, that does not run us off the cliff in mad speculation nor poison the planet.

The GDP should be run on an equitable basis between both power structures.

Whether this divide is 30/70 or 50/50 between private and public and how its used and how its controlled and monitored is the role of the Republic. And it should be debated and then voted and then executed in a legal framework which is NOT CORRUPT.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-08-24/you-cant-run-economy-spreadsheets#comment-5138074


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[Oct 17, 2017] Trumps tough talk on Iran could end in a big, blame-evading dodge

Effect of Trump move on energy market remains to be seen... Might well be another step toward fiscal collapse...
Notable quotes:
"... Better refresh. The United States is by definition, an empire. Has been since December 10, 1898. Not all empires have or have had emperors. At least, as an official title. We even still possess a few de facto colonies, Puerto Rico being the most populous. The Philippines were part of the American empire from December 10, 1898 to July 4, 1946. ..."
"... The Philippines' colonial history has been described by one historian as "500 years in a convent, followed by 50 years at Disneyland." ..."
"... This is the result of our long string of wars since Reagan took on Grenada. Then Bush in Panama. And on and on until today. We've chosen to do battle with small weak countries that don't have a hope in hell of winning or even inflicting major harm. ..."
Oct 13, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

-> Ponderbelle , 13 Oct 2017 02:21

Saudis bought 15 billion dollars antirocket system. Its one deal only. Just to get Trump to stop messing around and crash the Persians they also bought Russian system.

, 12 Oct 2017 23:32

"A peculiar pattern of Trumpian behavior is emerging. First, his fragile ego forbids him to ever take responsibility for anything. Ever. Second, because he craves the adulation of his base, he will to shift blame or throw any and all supporters and allies under the bus."

He also has a tendency to want to take revenge for any imagined or real slight that bruise his fragile ego. Not a statesman or leader by any strength of the imagination.

-> ghstwrtrx7 , 12 Oct 2017 22:51

The good news is that ALL empires, throughout history, have fallen. Looking forward to the fall of the American Empire.

-> Fred Fawcett , 12 Oct 2017 22:46

Yes laughable and tragic all at the same time. Even the guy whose nickname actually is "Mad Dog" (James Mattis) has gone on record with some intelligent comments on why the Iran nuclear deal should be kept in place.

I'm not surprised you got so much hate on that comment board. The Neo-Nazis seem to loiter where they know they can get away with crap that isn't monitored properly.

, 12 Oct 2017 20:45

US citizens who believe they're 'victims' of a 'deep state' have no idea how their war-mongering nation is viewed abroad...

-> lefttheleft , 12 Oct 2017 18:25

He's the best shot that the USA becomes truly 3rd world.

-> Rigobertus , 12 Oct 2017 17:25

Trump is the antidote. You may not like it but he's the best shot at pulling the USA from the brink of ruin.

-> Abigailgem , 12 Oct 2017 17:20

America's been piling on the bad karma since Vietnam. It could well cause the world egregious trauma, but no one will shed a tear when the beast is brought low by its episodic-tho-predictable bouts of cluster-fuck. Methinks they've hit the Big One.

And aren't its politicians infinitely grateful for a citizenry so simply and quickly distracted by Hollywood shenanigans (as awful as they are in this instance) whilst a) 3 million of its own have been blown into third world living standards; b) 528 took a bullet from a shooter in the span of less than 10 minutes; and c) Californians are being roasted alive in the latest indication that something's gone screwy in our biosphere? The Oaf and Chief considers Weinstein as nothing more than relief.

Riddle: What's the difference between a President and a leader?

A: There shouldn't be difference, but now there is.

-> GatesOfRome , 12 Oct 2017 16:08

Iran is a danger to the region and the world.

I know enough of Iran to respectfully disagree. In many respects, Iran is similar to China, 30 years ago. Under the right leadership, it has the potential of becoming an economic engine for the South-West Asia, helping economic growth of itself and many of its neighboring countries.

Iran has a well-educated population that does not like the US, mainly because of the past US behaviour both in their country and in the surrounding region. The people there revolted against a US-installed government and used religion as a unifying ideology. Now they should be left alone to sort out the problems that religion has brought to them.

In case of China, Napoleon Bonaparte is quoted to say:

Let China Sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world

As the journal Economist once suggested, it is also better to leave the Persian Lion alone. Indeed, the Bonaparte's quote can be restated to apply to Iran; it could read:

Let the Persian Lion Sleep, for when it wakes, it will never live like a sheep

For those interested in military mind-set, it is worth mentioning here that Afghans and Iranians are in fact the same people and approach war and fighting in the same manner. The difference between the two is the cunning and sophistication of the latter.

, 12 Oct 2017 14:53

Mr. McLean's analysis is largely on the mark. Indeed much of it is supported by Mr. Trump's behavioral pattern, which has been witnessed by the world public during the past 11 months. There is, however, an area where - like many others - Mr. McLean tries to play safe. When he says::

But he promised his loyal base, Fox News and Steve Bannon, he would dump the accord

he is apparently leaving out an important - and probably the most critical - constituency of Mr. Trump. When Mr. McLean says:

He has Bannon and Breitbart howling on his heels, along with most of the rabid rightwing noise machine.

he is getting close; but, then then he shies away from identifying who are the people behind that "rabid rightwing noise machine.".

Many believe that Mr. Trump decisions are influenced by this "rabid rightwing machine" more than anything or anyone else. He has been reported to call many of the machine's "operators" after hours, from the WH as well as his Mar-a-Lago palace, in every opportunity he gets. As examples of the power of this machine, they refer to its ability:

1. To undo the harm of Pope Francis condemnation of candidate Trump, clling him "not being Christian", after his pledge to deport undocumented immigrants and build a wall between US and Mexico. The machine undermined Vatican's moral authority by overnight flooding of the world media with the old story of Pope John Paul II having a close relationship with a Polish women;

2. To pump out billions of dollars into the US futures market on the night of Mr. Trump's election victory to reverse its steep drop of almost 1000 points .

Now the "rabid rightwing machine" wants US decertification of the nuclear treaty with Iran. Mr. Trump is a businessman and no doubt understands how transactional relationships work. He is indebted to this machine, and has to reciprocate its favours in order to receive more of the same in future. Note that he has already registered as a canadidate, to be re-elected the US president for his second term!

-> Durangotang , 12 Oct 2017 11:43

And the US did not attack North Korea?

-> GatesOfRome , 12 Oct 2017 05:23

Iran is a danger to the region and the world.

The facts don't support this assumption. Clearly and without a doubt by far the most dangerous, the most destructive, the most deadly player in the region has been the United States. This fact is indisputable to the sincere.

-> Daniel Berg , 12 Oct 2017 05:15

Better refresh. The United States is by definition, an empire. Has been since December 10, 1898. Not all empires have or have had emperors. At least, as an official title. We even still possess a few de facto colonies, Puerto Rico being the most populous. The Philippines were part of the American empire from December 10, 1898 to July 4, 1946.

The Philippines' colonial history has been described by one historian as "500 years in a convent, followed by 50 years at Disneyland."

, 12 Oct 2017 05:02

Trump makes a big medicine show of cancelling "the worst deal ever" (Man! Trump can go from 0 - Hyperbole in no time flat, eh?) but that's easier said than done. The United States simply cannot arbitrarily walk away from the deal. Not legally. Aside from that Trump no longer enjoys the support of the GOP to cancel the agreement.

Oh! Make no mistake. These very same Republicans were all for walking away from the deal when Obama made it and they didn't control all three branches of government (although I'm not sure who or what controls the executive at the moment). Now that they do, having nothing but years of obstructionism to bring to the table, the GOP, lacking any governing skills whatsoever, is as impotent as ever and tearing itself apart from the inside besides.

I tell ya'. The GOP, already severely weakened by the Koch Brothers'-funded grassroots Tea Party movement, may very well just not survive the cancer of Trump.

-> GatesOfRome , 12 Oct 2017 04:50

Again, not the topic. The question is asked: Is Iran in compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action? The answer, of course, is yes. Trump's entire domestic and foreign policy decisions appear to be based entirely on if Obama had anything to do with it, then it has to go. Bad or good. Right or wrong . This is not a viable method of sound government. It is petty, however. Childish and puerile, to say the least.

At any rate, if Trump renegades on this deal as he has on so many since he's been in office, then it will be the United States which will be in noncompliance with the treaty and it will be the reputation of the United States which will suffer yet another blow delivered by none other than our Buffoon-in-Chief.

Besides, Iran is not the only other nation muckraking about in the region. There are other players in the game. I hear rumors of another, more powerful, more destructive, far more deadlier entity stomping about the place, making a mess of just about everything. Been doing it for decades now. Just keeps making matters worse.

-> Fred Fawcett , 11 Oct 2017 22:37

I know it's sexy to blame Rethugs for everything, but American wars against weak countries didn't begin with Reagan. From the halls of Montezuma...

-> phubar , 11 Oct 2017 21:38

North Korea might just decide that it's own best interests would be served by selling Iran a working bomb. With Trump's sanctions interfering with North Korea obtaining oil, Iran might just pay the tab that way. The world could very quickly become a much more dangerous place because of Trump's antics.

-> ID4752094 , 11 Oct 2017 21:32

Israel is probably mentioned because Netanyahu is an active partner in Trump's war on the Iran Deal.

-> zolotoy , 11 Oct 2017 21:25

This is the result of our long string of wars since Reagan took on Grenada. Then Bush in Panama. And on and on until today. We've chosen to do battle with small weak countries that don't have a hope in hell of winning or even inflicting major harm.

With each new painless war the American people have been conditioned to believe that because it hasn't caused personal suffering that war is somehow painless. Now we've worked our way up to North Korea and Iran. Both of them a whole different ball game. War with either or both would likely result in a return of the draft.

Trump's scumbag supporters would quickly be singing a different tune as soon as they found themselves being forced to participate.

-> Stranger1548 , 11 Oct 2017 21:09

Well said.

[Oct 17, 2017] For War Hawks, Iran Deal Dump Is Music to the Ears

As one commenter aptly said: " 'Moron', as Tillerson would say." and as another noted "Don the Neocon.. We can keep the military in the end-stateless, goal-less, sinkhole known as Afghanistan for decades, STILL subsidize the defense of rich EU and Asian countries, fight the latest "Al Qaeda offshoot" everywhere on the African continent but we can't afford universal healthcare like US welfare baby Israel or about every other developed country, or restore power or drinking water in a US territory."
Notable quotes:
"... the question is, who are these people all excited about Iran? Other than politicians who may be working for foreign lobbies? ..."
"... This is pure lawlessness. We are breaking an agreement and by advocating regime change against a govt that has not attacked us or even threatened us in a serious manner are breaking the U.N. charter. ..."
"... Screw Trump. I mean really, screw him. He got my vote because I thought he was going to first crush ISIS and then get us out of the Middle East. Instead he's intensifying nearly every aspect of our Middle East entanglements. ..."
"... Now he's creating a new mess of his own. And this crap he's pulling with Iran is for Saudi Arabia and Israel. America First really? ..."
"... Of all of the Obama-era foreign policy decisions Trump could pull back, he's hell-bent on crushing one of the only good ones. I'd be shocked if he has even an elementary understanding of the agreement. "Moron", as Tillerson would say. ..."
"... "Cotton is one of the biggest Israel money guys in the Senate, if not the biggest. Really whopping contributions – "the Swamp" personified. In return for Israel money he has tirelessly pushed the core Israeli policy of hostility to Iran, so much so that it hardly makes sense to think of him as an American senator anymore." ..."
"... It appears that Trump's strategy is to insult and ruin Ran's economy to the point where he can get Iran to do something that will allow him to declare war against Iran because they attacked us. ..."
"... And how many countries has Iran invaded in the last 200 years? And how many countries has Israel invaded in the last 80 years? ..."
"... We will really find out who the Swamp creatures are now. Any congressman or Senator who votes for new sanctions against Iran – a country that poses virtually no threat to the United States – exposes himself as a bought-and-paid-for tool of Saudi Arabia and the jihadist fanatics the Saudis support. ..."
"... it's less that Trump wants to undo what Obama did and more that he wants to do what Netanyahu wants. ..."
"... Any notion of American excellence has now been erased. Our country will not soon recover all that Trump has tossed away and as citizens, we cannot absolve ourselves from blame. We have elected the most odious leader in our history and have allowed (mostly) a Republican Party to participate in government without having made a single contribution to the welfare of the American republic. Cotton is not alone in his folly that dismisses all real national interest. Like others, there have been many times I have despaired at the state of affairs in our Country, but this is different. Trump and his vandal allies I believe have inflicted permanent and irreversible damage to our country. Joe F , says: October 13, 2017 at 5:07 pm One follow up to earlier post: with this action, Trump has proven beyond doubt that the Mullah regime in Iran is a far more trustworthy nation than the United States. Well done Donald ..."
Oct 13, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Fran Macadam , says: October 13, 2017 at 12:48 am

Making war in other people's countries is what an American government captured by globalist financial elites is all about. For elites, such wars, paid for by the deplorable ordinary Americans they loathe, have no downside and carry no risk to them. Lose-lose for the American public is win-win for them, they cannot lose, especially since wars that can't be won will never end, perfect profit streams.
80 Percent Polyester , says: October 13, 2017 at 5:39 am
"Cotton was among the fiercest and loudest opponents of the agreement before it was made, and he has continued to look for ways to sabotage it."

Cotton is one of the biggest Israel money guys in the Senate, if not the biggest. Really whopping contributions – "the Swamp" personified. In return for Israel money he has tirelessly pushed the core Israeli policy of hostility to Iran, so much so that it hardly makes sense to think of him as an American senator anymore.

He's more like a member of the Netanyahu government who somehow ended up in one of Arkansas's US Senate seats.

Early To Rise , says: October 13, 2017 at 5:58 am
Does anyone here know any real Americans who are pushing for this policy against Iran? My family and friends are nearly all real Americans, and not one of them has any interest in ending the deal with Iran. Most of them wish we would get out of the Middle East altogether.

So the question is, who are these people all excited about Iran? Other than politicians who may be working for foreign lobbies?

Christian Chuba , says: October 13, 2017 at 7:16 am
This is pure lawlessness. We are breaking an agreement and by advocating regime change against a govt that has not attacked us or even threatened us in a serious manner are breaking the U.N. charter.

We are doing this while condemning other countries for not following a 'liberal, rules based world order' (whatever that is, oh, wait, it is following Caesar's decrees). Our Hubris will catch up to us, whether it will be by the Almighty that the Haley's and Cotton's claim to serve or just the law of reciprocity, I don't know. No one is more blind than those corrupted by power.

John Quincy Adams, "But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force . She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit."

He was able to see this because we were not yet intoxicated by power.

Everything Must Go , says: October 13, 2017 at 8:01 am
Screw Trump. I mean really, screw him. He got my vote because I thought he was going to first crush ISIS and then get us out of the Middle East. Instead he's intensifying nearly every aspect of our Middle East entanglements.

Now he's creating a new mess of his own. And this crap he's pulling with Iran is for Saudi Arabia and Israel. America First really?

Frederick Martin , says: October 13, 2017 at 9:38 am
Of all of the Obama-era foreign policy decisions Trump could pull back, he's hell-bent on crushing one of the only good ones. I'd be shocked if he has even an elementary understanding of the agreement. "Moron", as Tillerson would say.
Fred Bowman , says: October 13, 2017 at 10:14 am
What seem to be missing here is anybody talking about Israel nuclear capability. That's the "dirty little secret" that nobody talks about. Imho, as long as Iran is in compliance the deal should. Of course Trump and the Hawks in Congress are going to do everything to scuttle it and bring about a war with Iran which will end up being a World War and will necessitate the US returning to a military draft to fight this war. It will be a sad way to "wake up" America to what is being done militarily in their name. But perhaps when they see their little "Johnny and Jill" marched off to war, they'll see what has been done in these endless, unwinnable wars in the Middle East.
AR complaint , says: October 13, 2017 at 10:31 am
[Tom Cotton gets] "Really whopping contributions – "the Swamp" personified."

He got a $700,000 check from a single Israel donor in 2014. You think anybody in Arkansas not named "Walton" can match that? No sir. Tom Cotton does what Israel tells him to do. Scuttle the Iran deal? No problem.

It's time that my fellow Arkansans did for Tom Cotton what those upstanding Virginians did for Eric Cantor back in 2014, and for the same reason: we want our government back from corrupt politicians working for foreign interests.

SDS , says: October 13, 2017 at 11:53 am
I second EVERYTHING said above by all –
Steve Waclo , says: October 13, 2017 at 11:53 am
" the president made clear over the summer, he didn't "believe" Iran was in compliance and would not certify again."

Wait, what?! What does Trump know that the IAEA has been unable to learn and at the risk of compromising intelligence sources, why has he not shared that knowledge? As with many of the man's "beliefs", such attitudes do not make issues remotely true. We don't need to stir the Iran pot, for goodness sake. Has not this man kicked enough hornets nests around the world?

Stephen J. , says: October 13, 2017 at 11:58 am
I believe the "War Hawks"are leading Trump into another war. Therefore, I asked on: February 4, 2017 Will There Be War With Iran?
http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2017/02/will-there-be-war-with-iran.html
Steve in Ohio , says: October 13, 2017 at 12:35 pm
"Cotton is one of the biggest Israel money guys in the Senate, if not the biggest. Really whopping contributions – "the Swamp" personified. In return for Israel money he has tirelessly pushed the core Israeli policy of hostility to Iran, so much so that it hardly makes sense to think of him as an American senator anymore."

Cotton is wrong on this issue, but he's hardly a Swamp politico. He understands the dangers of mass immigration and looks likely to replace Jeff Sessions as the leading immigration hawk in the Senate. Unfortunately, I suspect he has presidential ambitions and being pro Israel is a must in GOP primaries.

Rand Paul, on the other hand, like his dad, is good on foreign policy, but doesn't get the immigration issue. People like me who want a non interventionist FP and low immigration seldom have candidates that believe in both to support. I had high hopes for Trump, but he seems to have too many generals around him telling him the wrong things.

the times they are a'changing , says: October 13, 2017 at 1:23 pm
"Cotton is wrong on this issue, but he's hardly a Swamp politico. He understands the dangers of mass immigration and looks likely to replace Jeff Sessions as the leading immigration hawk in the Senate. Unfortunately, I suspect he has presidential ambitions and being pro Israel is a must in GOP primaries. "

No it's not. It was a litmus test for the old neocon Establishment GOP, and it's gone the way of Eric Cantor. You have to go to New York, DC, or some left coastal city to find anyone who gives a goddamn about it, and those places don't vote Republican anyway.

Politicians who take the Israel dollar care about it a lot, naturally. And Cotton's near the top of the list.

jk , says: October 13, 2017 at 2:04 pm
Don the Neocon.. We can keep the military in the end-stateless, goal-less, sinkhole known as Afghanistan for decades, STILL subsidize the defense of rich EU and Asian countries, fight the latest "Al qaeda offshoot" everywhere on the African continent but we can't afford universal healthcare like US welfare baby Israel or about every other developed country, or restore power or drinking water in a US territory.

"NO KIN IN THE GAME": STUDY FINDS MEMBERS OF CONGRESS WITHOUT DRAFT-AGE SONS WERE MORE HAWKISH"

https://theintercept.com/2017/10/11/congress-war-hawkish-policies-study/

That explains "lifetime bachelor" Graham's behavior!

Kent , says: October 13, 2017 at 3:09 pm
To our neocon friends:

1. Even though Iran and Iraq are 4 letter words and share the first 3, they are very, very different animals. Iran is an industrial state of 85 million capable of designing and building effective rockets. It is highly unlikely the US can defeat Iran in a conventional war on its own turf.

2. Even if we did defeat them, there is nobody there yearning for American style pseudo-democracy. While they are not perfectly happy with their own government, they'll be dammed if they're going to accept one from us. So you'd have to put millions of American troops in harms way against the civilian population essentially forever.

And a note on the President. I don't believe he knows or cares a thing about Iran or their capabilities. What he does know, after watching Fox News for the last 8 years is: Obama bad. So the only reason, I'm certain, that Trump cares about this is because it was an Obama initiative.

Robert Charron , says: October 13, 2017 at 3:34 pm
It appears that Trump's strategy is to insult and ruin Ran's economy to the point where he can get Iran to do something that will allow him to declare war against Iran because they attacked us.

And how many countries has Iran invaded in the last 200 years? And how many countries has Israel invaded in the last 80 years?

As I recall we made a regime change in the Iranian government when we had the CIA along with the English intelligence by replacing the elected Prime Minister of Iran with the despotic, tyrannical Shah.

As an American, Trump has desecrated our flag with his flat out lies, not the NFL athletes who simps knelt during the National Anthem.

simon94022 , says: October 13, 2017 at 3:54 pm
We will really find out who the Swamp creatures are now. Any congressman or Senator who votes for new sanctions against Iran – a country that poses virtually no threat to the United States – exposes himself as a bought-and-paid-for tool of Saudi Arabia and the jihadist fanatics the Saudis support.

Let them be counted!

Ollie , says: October 13, 2017 at 4:26 pm
No president in history has been more feckless and reckless than Trump. The danger demands that the 25th amendment be asserted.
Why Does The Heathen Rage? , says: October 13, 2017 at 4:49 pm
"So the only reason, I'm certain, that Trump cares about this is because it was an Obama initiative."

I've heard this before, but if it were true than why is Trump helping the Saudis wreck and starve Yemen? That was an Obama initiative too. That's why I now think that it's not really the Obama connection so much as the Netanyahu connection that drives Trump. In other words, it's less that Trump wants to undo what Obama did and more that he wants to do what Netanyahu wants.

Joe F , says: October 13, 2017 at 5:05 pm
Any notion of American excellence has now been erased. Our country will not soon recover all that Trump has tossed away and as citizens, we cannot absolve ourselves from blame. We have elected the most odious leader in our history and have allowed (mostly) a Republican Party to participate in government without having made a single contribution to the welfare of the American republic.

Cotton is not alone in his folly that dismisses all real national interest. Like others, there have been many times I have despaired at the state of affairs in our Country, but this is different. Trump and his vandal allies I believe have inflicted permanent and irreversible damage to our country.

Joe F , says: October 13, 2017 at 5:07 pm
One follow up to earlier post: with this action, Trump has proven beyond doubt that the Mullah regime in Iran is a far more trustworthy nation than the United States. Well done Donald
Liam , says: October 13, 2017 at 5:21 pm
Regarding the 25th amendment option: how far down the line of succession must one go to find someone who has solid, bona fide cred to stop this inanity?
picture window , says: October 13, 2017 at 5:45 pm
The Economist today opines that Xi Jinping has more clout than Donald Trump.

And I read on TAC that Trump is p***ing away our wealth and power doing favors for Israel and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East, like scuttling the Iran deal and picking fights with the Iranian government. And I conclude that the reason that the Economist may be right about Xi Jinping is because Trump is doing what I read about in TAC, wasting our time, blood, money, and focus on appeasing a bunch of goddamn foreigners in the form of the Israel and Saudi lobbies.

Pretty damn grim.

[Oct 17, 2017] Rerry on attempt to destuct Iran economy by blocking purchases of oil from China and India

Oct 16, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 | Oct 15, 2017 5:22:59 PM | 12

In the final days of the Iran Deal negotiations, August 2015, I completely missed the interview Kerry did with Reuters, https://2009-2017.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2015/08/245935.htm that Mercouris parses for his detailed article proving the Outlaw US Empire's Imperial Policy is now "irrational"--utterly I'd say since for me it's been irrational for decades when weighing the actual interests of the United States's populous. The key excerpt:

"But if everybody thinks, 'Oh, no, we're just tough; the United States of America, we have our secondary sanctions; we can force people to do what we want.' I actually heard that argument on television this morning. I've heard it from a number of the organisations that are working that are opposed to this agreement. They're spreading the word, 'America is strong enough, our banks are tough enough; we can just bring the hammer down and force our friends to do what we want them to.'

"Well, look – a lot of business people in this room. Are you kidding me? The United States is going to start sanctioning our allies and their banks and their businesses because we walked away from a deal and we're going to force them to do what we want them to do even though they agreed to the deal we came to? Are you kidding ?

"That is a recipe quickly, my friends, for them to walk away from Ukraine, where they are already very dicey and ready to say, 'Well, we've done our bit.' They were ready in many cases to say, 'Well, we're the ones paying the price for your sanctions.' We – it was Obama who went out and actually put together a sanctions regime that had an impact. By – I went to China. We persuaded China, 'Don't buy more oil.' We persuaded India and other countries to step back.

"Can you imagine trying to sanction them after persuading them to put in phased sanctions to bring Iran to the negotiating table, and when they have not only come to the table but they made a deal, we turn around and nix the deal and then tell them you're going to have to obey our rules on the sanctions anyway?

"That is a recipe very quickly, my friends, businesspeople here, for the American dollar to cease to be the reserve currency of the world – which is already bubbling out there .." (Bold italics in original.)

[Oct 17, 2017] Trump Decertifies Iran Deal, Vows New Sanctions by Jason Ditz

The immediate costs of decertification for the USl include the loss of the trust of allies, increased tensions with Iran, and much greater skepticism from all other governments. It also create additional difficulties the next time America wants to negotiate a major international agreement as some countries will view the USA as a rogue nation which is unable to keep its word. If decertification leads to the U.S. breaching its obligations under the nuclear deal, as seems likely, that the costs will increase even more, and so will the chances of war with Iran.
It might well be that Trump made a step increasing the probability of his removal from the current position by cabinet members.
Looks like Trump focus on appeasing a bunch of foreigners in the form of the Israel and Saudi lobbies.
Pretty damn grim.
Oct 13, 2017 | news.antiwar.com

President Trump started his long-anticipated anti-Iran speech by complaining about the 1979 hostage situation. What followed was an increasingly fantastical and absurd accounting of Iran's history, before finally announcing he is decertifying the nuclear deal for "violations," and announcing new sanctions.

The allegations against Iran went from things that happened a generation ago to treating things like the specious "Iranian plot" to attack a DC restaurant as not only the government's fault, but absolute established fact. Beyond that, he blamed Iran for the ISIS wars in Iraq and Syria, repeatedly accused them of supporting al-Qaeda, and claimed Iran was supporting the 9/11 attackers.

The allegations were so far-fetched by the end, that even President Trump appeared cognizant that many won't be taken seriously. Later in his speech, he insisted that the claims were "factual."

When addressing "violations" of the P5+1 nuclear deal, Trump similarly played fast and loose with the facts, citing heavy water claims that are really more the international community's violation than Iran's (Iran was guaranteed an international market for the water, but after Congress got mad the US has refused to buy any more, meaning Iran's totally non-dangerous stock grew), and accusing them of "intimidating" inspectors, insinuating that was the reason there aren't investigations at Iranian military sites.

In reality, Iranian military sites are only subject to investigation in the case of a substantiated suspicion of nuclear activities, and there simply are none. The IAEA has in recent days clarified multiple times that they don't need or want to visit any military sites right now. The only allegations about the sites are from the Mujahedin-e Khalq, which has been the source of repeated false accusations in the past.

And while this was supposed to be a speech about the nuclear deal, Trump closed it off with comments that very much sound like his goal is regime change, saying Iran's people want to be able to interact with their neighbors (despite Iran being on very good terms with most of its neighbors already), and suggesting that whatever he's going to do will lead to "peace and stability" across the Middle East.

[Oct 17, 2017] Syria, Iraq - Why The Kurdish Independence Project Died

Oct 17, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

With backing from the Iraqi parliament, public opinion and international support the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Abadi had for months demanded a return of the 2003 borders for the Kurdish region. It condemned the illegal independence bid. The Kurds had pushed far beyond their original borders and occupied areas with critical oil reserves. The ruling Barzani family mafia sold the oil and pocketed the money that by law was owned to Iraq's federal government. The Barzani militia mafia occupied the federal border stations to neighboring countries and kept all custom income to themselves. Meanwhile teachers and other public workers in the Kurdish region went unpaid.

The Barzani family clan is only one of the powers in the Kurdish region of Iraq. Historically its main competitor is the Talabani clan. Both clans control their own political parties (KDP and PUK) and militia. Both had been fighting against each other during a civil war in the 1990s. Then the Barzanis called in help from Iraqi president Saddam Hussein to defeat their local enemies.

Over the last decade the Talabanis were handicapped by their ailing patriarch Jalal Talabani. After the U.S. invasion of Iraq he eschewed a major role in the Kurdish region in exchange for the ceremonial position of a president of Iraq. When Jalal Talbani died on October 2 his family immediately asserted its position. It negotiated a deal with the central Iraqi government to reign in the Barzanis' quasi dictatorial powers. The Iranian general Qassam Suleiman helped to arrange the agreement.

When the Iraqi government forces, as previously announced, moved to retake Kirkuk from the Kurds the Kurdish militia forces (peshmerga) under PUK/Talibani command immediately retreated. The militia under KDP/Barzani command were left in an indefensible position and had to flee.

Yesterday and today Iraqi national forces retook control of various large oil fields the Kurds had occupied. They are also back in control of border stations with Syria and Turkey. Without them the Kurdish region lacks the assets and income to finance any regional independence. While his project collapsed in front of everyone's eyes not a word was heard from Masoud Barzani.

The Iraqi government will not only retake full control of the areas the Kurds under Brazani had illegally usurped. It will also demand new regional elections. It is doubtful that Masoud Barzani, or any of his sons, can win such local elections after the mismanagement and disasters they caused

Virgile | Oct 17, 2017 10:07:12 AM | 1

Trump should quickly declare victory over ISIS and resist the neo-cons and Israel calls to linger in Syria as the US military may become the target of attacks from everyone who want them out, and this is the large majority in Syria.
After they saw the lack of the US support for the KRG independence, the lack of US condemnation of Turkey's actions against the YPG, the Syrian Kurds have realized that their strongest and most reliable allies are ... Bashar al Assad and the Syrian army.
As mentioned in the article, there will be a discreet dialog between the Syrians Kurds and the Syrian government to the detriment of the USA.
Trump, get your guys out asap!
Peter AU 1 | Oct 17, 2017 10:13:53 AM | 2
The pieces are starting to drop into to place. US sure got a kick in the butt after going for the Syrian oilfields and killing Russian officers. Well thought out asymetrical warfare by Russia, Syria, Iraq, Iran.

[Oct 16, 2017] Iraqi army clashes with Kurds in operation to 'impose security' on Kirkuk

Oct 16, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

World oil prices jumped on Monday amid reports of the clashes.

[Oct 16, 2017] Barrels, ballots ISIS Why Iraq is taking back Kirkuk, and what the US will do about it

Notable quotes:
"... The 250,000 barrels per day produced in the governorate represent more than a third of the oil output of the entire Kurdish autonomy, while Iraq pumps out more than 4 million barrels daily from its other oil fields. ..."
Oct 16, 2017 | www.rt.com

Is it about the oil?

While the oil contained in the ground in Kirkuk is important to both sides in the long run, tactically the impact of losing the fields is likely to be more painful for the Kurdistan Region. The 250,000 barrels per day produced in the governorate represent more than a third of the oil output of the entire Kurdish autonomy, while Iraq pumps out more than 4 million barrels daily from its other oil fields.

Still, Baghdad regards the Kurds' unwillingness to share the proceeds from the export of hydrocarbons in the past half-decade as unfair.

[Oct 16, 2017] The Latest Iraq media say troops enter area held by Kurds

Notable quotes:
"... Al-Iraqiya TV says the military, anti-terrorist units and federal police have taken control of some areas around the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. It says they advanced without firing a shot. ..."
"... A commander of the local Kurdish police force says Kurds remain in control of Kirkuk province's oil wells. ..."
Oct 16, 2017 | finance.yahoo.com

BAGHDAD (AP) -- The latest on Iraqi government's move to take control of disputed territories held by Iraqi Kurds outside their autonomous region (all times local):

2:50 a.m.

Iraqi state media say federal troops have entered disputed territories occupied by the nation's Kurds.

The move comes three years after Kurdish militias seized the areas outside their autonomous region to defend against an advance by the Islamic State extremist group.

Al-Iraqiya TV says the military, anti-terrorist units and federal police have taken control of some areas around the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. It says they advanced without firing a shot.

The maneuver comes three weeks after Kurds voted for independence in a controversial but symbolic referendum that Baghdad has so far refused to acknowledge. It says the vote organized by the country's autonomous Kurdish authority was unconstitutional.

A commander of the local Kurdish police force says Kurds remain in control of Kirkuk province's oil wells.

[Oct 15, 2017] Saudi Aramco Reportedly Shelves IPO In Face-Saving Move Zero Hedge

Notable quotes:
"... Some analysts view the possible IPO delay as a sign of the problems Aramco and the Saudi government currently face. A lack of transparency, issues with its oil and gas reserves, and the role of the Saudi government as the main stakeholder have all been suggested as the reason for this possible delay. Most of these suggestions, however, are based purely on issues surrounding the IPO itself. The true reason for this delay, however, likely hides among the intricate societal and economic problems in the Kingdom. ..."
"... One obvious reason for a delay is the still-fledgling global oil price. A higher price setting -- above $60 per barrel -- would surely drive up the overall interest in the IPO. As long as OPEC and non-OPEC members, such as Russia, are still struggling to get a grip on the oil market, the potential for disaster looms. Needless to say, an oil price slump would have a detrimental effect on the expected revenues of the IPO. ..."
"... The impact of an influx of $1-2 trillion into the current Saudi economy is bound to have a significant impact. The implementation of Saudi Vision 2030 is broad and ambitiously planned. A full diversification of the economy is needed to guarantee work and salaries for future young Saudis, with the end of government subsidies or handouts. ..."
"... We previously indicated that China could step in as a financial savior. With around 8.5 million bpd of crude oil imports, which is 2.5 million bdp more than in 2014, the attractiveness of having a stake in Saudi Aramco is huge. Even though an energy diversification program is in place, China's imports from Saudi Arabia are going to increase. For Beijing, a stake in one of its main suppliers is a very attractive proposition. It will not only lock in Saudi crude oil and petroleum product exports to China but it will also provide some additional political and strategic clout in the heart of the Middle East. ..."
"... Given most of the largest sovereign wealth funds were created from their own oil revenue, I don't see them getting into someone else's oil. ..."
Oct 15, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

The FT notes that talks about a private sale to foreign governments - including China - and other investors have gathered pace in recent weeks, according to five people familiar with the IPO preparations, amid growing concerns about the feasibility of an international listing.

The Saudi state oil company has struggled to select a suitable international venue for its shares, as New York and London have vied for what has been billed as the largest ever flotation.

The company would still aim to list shares on the kingdom's Tadawul exchange next year if they pursue the private sale, the people said.

The latest proposal by the company's financial advisers was described by one of the people as a "face-saving" option for Saudi Aramco, which has worked on plans to list its shares internationally for more than a year.

Desk chatter included comments that the Saudis were anxious about the level of due diligence and transparency involved in a public offering.

A Saudi Aramco spokesperson said:

"A range of options, for the public listing of Saudi Aramco, continue to be held under active review. No decision has been made and the IPO process remains on track."

The planned listing of a 5 per cent stake in Saudi Aramco is the centrepiece of an economic reform programme led by Saudi Arabia's powerful crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is keen for a 2018 IPO. He has said the company could be worth $2tn although a Financial Times analysis put the valuation figure at around $1tn.

An economic recession in the kingdom is piling pressure on the prince, the king's son and next in line for the throne, amid calls for the government to increase investment and ease austerity. As we noted previously, there could be more at play here...

Some analysts view the possible IPO delay as a sign of the problems Aramco and the Saudi government currently face. A lack of transparency, issues with its oil and gas reserves, and the role of the Saudi government as the main stakeholder have all been suggested as the reason for this possible delay. Most of these suggestions, however, are based purely on issues surrounding the IPO itself. The true reason for this delay, however, likely hides among the intricate societal and economic problems in the Kingdom.

One obvious reason for a delay is the still-fledgling global oil price. A higher price setting -- above $60 per barrel -- would surely drive up the overall interest in the IPO. As long as OPEC and non-OPEC members, such as Russia, are still struggling to get a grip on the oil market, the potential for disaster looms. Needless to say, an oil price slump would have a detrimental effect on the expected revenues of the IPO.

The analysts, it seems, feel no need to look any further than this simple oil price explanation, but several other key factors should be addressed

The impact of an influx of $1-2 trillion into the current Saudi economy is bound to have a significant impact. The implementation of Saudi Vision 2030 is broad and ambitiously planned. A full diversification of the economy is needed to guarantee work and salaries for future young Saudis, with the end of government subsidies or handouts.

A multitrillion investment scheme in a rather small local economy will likely result in total disorder, inflation and possibly ineffective investment schemes. The attractiveness of investing the total amount could lead to staggering inflation, higher costs and superfluous projects being realized.

A delay of such an influx of cash seems to be more and more attractive, giving the Saudi government and local industries more time to adjust and put in place the right steps for a sustainable and commercially attractive economic future.

We previously indicated that China could step in as a financial savior. With around 8.5 million bpd of crude oil imports, which is 2.5 million bdp more than in 2014, the attractiveness of having a stake in Saudi Aramco is huge. Even though an energy diversification program is in place, China's imports from Saudi Arabia are going to increase. For Beijing, a stake in one of its main suppliers is a very attractive proposition. It will not only lock in Saudi crude oil and petroleum product exports to China but it will also provide some additional political and strategic clout in the heart of the Middle East.

There will, of course, be a few big bankers who will be upset as their billion dollar fee/commission just went up in smoke, but this may give MBS some breathing room - without the undue attention of an IPO - as he deals with the nation's economic slowdown. However, coming just a few days after the Saudi king's trip to Moscow, the timing of this leaked information seems interesting at the least.

Tugg McFancy •Oct 13, 2017 5:41 PM

Given most of the largest sovereign wealth funds were created from their own oil revenue, I don't see them getting into someone else's oil.

Freddie -> Government needs you to pay taxes •Oct 13, 2017 3:00 PM

They would have to release information on their in the ground oil reserves. Their biggest oil field Ghawar is 60 years old and almost dead. They shelved it to hide this.

[Oct 14, 2017] Trump Is Signaling an Unprecedented Right Turn on Foreign Policy by John Feffer

Notable quotes:
"... The Washington Post ..."
"... By handing off any real decision to Congress, [Trump] can avoid having to make a hard decision himself. And by picking a fight with Corker, he has a scapegoat if his supporters grow frustrated with a lack of action in Congress. It seems plausible that Trump's allies are simply being prepared for another legislative failure. ..."
Oct 14, 2017 | fpif.org

For Trump's critics, including virtually all Iran policy experts at the moment, this attempt at scuttling the world's most sophisticated arms control agreement sends absolutely the wrong signal to Iran. Trump is essentially saying, "It doesn't really matter whether you have adhered to the letter of the agreement, we're still going to break our commitment because, honestly, we just don't like you. And by the way, you can't count on the United States to keep its word in the future."

Trump is sending an even more damaging message to the rest of the world: "We as a country suffer from mood swings so severe and delusions so enduring that we can no longer be a responsible member of the international community."

After deep-sixing the Trans-Pacific Partnership and pulling the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, the Trump administration is making good on this one campaign promise even as all the others stall in Congress or the courts. Trump will make America First even if it means going against obvious American national interests, even those defined by the Chamber of Commerce.

This is not the first time that other countries have witnessed the political instability of the United States. But in the past, some underlying continuity provided a measure of reassurance to other countries. Voters might choose vanilla or chocolate, but the world still expects in the end to get some variety of ice cream.

What makes the Trump era different is the lack of that underlying continuity.

... ... ...

It's not just the North Koreans. The democratic world, for instance, found the transition to the George W. Bush years particularly bewildering. Even before the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration announced that it wouldn't implement the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. After the attacks, the administration broke with international law by embarking on a "preventive" war, violating the Geneva Conventions on treatment of captured combatants, and engaging in torture. The administration also backed away from the Rome statute establishing the International Criminal Court in May 2002 and withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the Russia in June 2002. All of these actions profoundly troubled America's allies.

... ... ...

In other words, even with its sharp turn toward unilateralism, the Bush administration held to a bipartisan consensus in favor of multilateral initiatives that benefit the United States. In some ways Bush offered only a variation on the Clinton theme of "a la carte multilateralism" in which the United States picks and chooses the international structures with which it wants to cooperate.

This kind of Bush-style unilateralism wrapped in a-la-carte multilateralism has returned to the White House. It's represented by most of the top administration officials involved in foreign affairs: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Pentagon chief James Mattis, and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster. These are the so-called adults in the room .

But Trump is something different. And that's what has thrown Republicans like Bob Corker (R-TN) into a tizzy.

... ... ...

Bob Corker is not a moderate Republican. He has an 80 percent ranking from the American Conservative Union for 2016 (by comparison, Susan Collins of Maine clocks in at 44 percent). He's no softie on Iran, either. Last year, he continued to try to pile on additional sanctions against Iran. Ultimately, he had to content himself with an extension of the Iran Sanctions Act for another 10 years. During the presidential campaign, Corker advised Donald Trump on foreign policy and was even in the running for secretary of state.

Corker is cut from the same cloth as Rex Tillerson. They're conservative Republicans who believe in "America First." But they're also committed to preserving a measure of professionalism, if nothing else, when it comes to U.S. foreign policy. They want to preserve U.S. alliances. They want to advance the interests of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

They're not isolationists, and they're not exactly internationalists either. They occupy the right wing of the underlying foreign policy consensus that encompasses the think tanks, lobby shops, and mainstream media in DC. They play ball whether it's a Democrat or a Republican in the White House and whichever party controls Congress. They are part of the continuity in American foreign policy that transcends the elections.

So, when Bob Corker takes aim at Donald Trump, it represents a serious breach not just within the Republican Party but within the foreign policy establishment. Over the weekend, Corker charged that Trump was making threats toward other countries that could send the United States reeling toward "World War III." Later, Corker tweeted in response to Trump, "It's a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning." Having decided not to run for re-election, Corker is now free to speak truth to power.

... ... ...

So, why pick a fight with Corker just when the president will need him most on the congressional battle over any new Iran sanctions? Writes Adam Taylor in The Washington Post :

By handing off any real decision to Congress, [Trump] can avoid having to make a hard decision himself. And by picking a fight with Corker, he has a scapegoat if his supporters grow frustrated with a lack of action in Congress. It seems plausible that Trump's allies are simply being prepared for another legislative failure.

In other words, it's all about the war that Trump and his still-loyal lieutenant Steve Bannon, assisted by UN ambassador Nikki Haley, have declared on the "deep state." They want to dismantle the foreign policy establishment that has presided over America's engagement in the world. A progressive might find much to rejoice in this attack, given that America's engagement with the world has often been through war and corporate penetration. But the establishment is more than that, and Trump/Bannon also want to unravel everything of diplomatic and humanitarian value as well.

John Feffer is the director of Foreign Policy In Focus and the author of the dystopian novel Splinterlands .

[Oct 13, 2017] Trump threatens to rip up Iran nuclear deal unless US and allies fix 'serious flaws'

If Washington takes action without consulting its allies, the alliances could fray.
Oct 13, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

Trump says he will not recertify deal but stops short of pulling out entirely President says US participation 'can be cancelled by me at any time'

... ... ...

For European diplomats seeking to salvage the JCPOA, the days leading up to Trump's long-awaited speech were a roller-coaster. Initially fearful that Trump could immediately trigger a possible collapse of the deal, the Europeans were buoyed when they were briefed that Trump would not call for the reimposition of sanctions by Congress .

However, in the wake of the president's speech on Friday, the JCPOA's survival looked tenuous.

In the speech, Trump declared: "I am directing my administration to work closely with Congress and our allies to address the deal's many serious flaws so the Iranian regime can never threaten the world with nuclear weapons."

He noted that congressional leaders were already drafting amendments to legislation that would include restrictions on ballistic missiles and make the curbs on Iran's nuclear programme under the 2015 deal permanent, and to reimpose sanctions instantly if those restrictions were breached.

However, any such changes would need 60 votes in the US Senate to pass, and Democrats are high unlikely to give them their backing. Even if they did pass into law, the restrictions would represent a unilateral effort to change the accord that would not be acceptable to the other national signatories.

Hours earlier, the US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson had acknowledged that it was very unlikely that the JCPOA agreement could be change, but suggested that the issue of Iran's ballistic missile programme and the time limits on some of the nuclear constraints in the deal, could be dealt with in a separate agreement that could exist alongside the JCPOA.

[Oct 12, 2017] The House of Saud Bows to the House of Putin by Pepe Escobar

Oct 12, 2017 | www.counterpunch.org

The deal may certainly be seen as a purely strategic/economic measure to stabilize the oil market – with no geopolitical overtones. And yet OPEC is geared to become a brand new animal – with Russia and Saudi Arabia de facto deciding where the global oil markets go, and then telling the other OPEC players. It's open to question what Iran, Algeria, Nigeria, Venezuela, among others, will have to say about this. The barely disguised aim is to bring oil prices up to a band of $60-75 a barrel by the middle of next year. Certainly a good deal for the Aramco IPO.

There were a rash of other deals clinched in Moscow – such as Aramco and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) $1 billion fund for oil-services projects in Russia, plus another $1 billion for a technology fund.

[Oct 11, 2017] Saudis to Make Deepest Cut to Crude Supply -- over half million of barrels

Notable quotes:
"... The market is "balancing", stocks are drawing down, demand is healthy, US rig count/LTO does not increase, Nigeria and Libya have a very small upside in the short term, Venezuela is a pretty big downside risk, offshore is not too healthy. And the Saudis cut _voluntarily_ because ? ..."
"... If true, it seems likely to me that the Saudi's [and Russia?] are going to push the oil price issue and the best interests of the West be damned. Looks to me like SS might get back in the money next year. ..."
"... I don't think the Saudis or Russians would be concerned too much about what happens in the west. The upcoming supply shortage will happen, anyway. There is a lot of talk by the Saudis of making sure prices don't rise too much, but I am sure that is fake concern. ..."
"... I am sure this post does not apply to shale, because shale is a Wall Street phenomenon. However, for us, a price spike will not immediately lead to drilling wells. First, after what we have been going through the last three years, I would want to make sure the price is going to hold. Yes, no way to know that really, but I can guarantee we would not be rushing out to get permits. ..."
"... That is what always blows me away about Wall Street. They analyze every metric imaginable when it comes to E & P's except the bottom line. I'd rather own 50 BOPD and make $50K per month than own 500 BOPD and lose $50K per month. ..."
"... Is it possible that all of the end of oil talk actually helps cause a supply crunch? Believe me, it is going through our minds now that maybe we need to be worried about decreasing demand in our lifetimes due to EV's. ..."
"... Best to ignore the EV wackos and watch Chinese and India oil consumption data. ..."
Oct 11, 2017 | peakoilbarrel.com

Jeff says: 10/09/2017 at 1:44 pm

Saudis to Make Deepest Cut to Crude Supply Despite Demand, -0.560mbd for November supply.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-09/saudis-to-make-deepest-cut-to-oil-supply-despite-strong-demand

The market is "balancing", stocks are drawing down, demand is healthy, US rig count/LTO does not increase, Nigeria and Libya have a very small upside in the short term, Venezuela is a pretty big downside risk, offshore is not too healthy. And the Saudis cut _voluntarily_ because ?

Guym says: 10/09/2017 at 3:23 pm
Because, frankly they know more about the oil market than most of the "anal ists". Rather than fighting them, and claiming no more need for "cuts", they are playing along with the crowd. When the shortage hits, they can claim surprise and blame the EIA for over reporting. Better price for the IPO.
clueless says: 10/09/2017 at 3:45 pm
If true, it seems likely to me that the Saudi's [and Russia?] are going to push the oil price issue and the best interests of the West be damned. Looks to me like SS might get back in the money next year.

I wonder if Trump will realize that now is not the time to have Exxon's ex-CEO as Secretary of State. I think that Trump really wanted better relations with Russia [and Russia wanted better US relations], but politics has totally destroyed that idea – and I think that Russia now knows it.

Guym says: 10/09/2017 at 4:06 pm
I don't think the Saudis or Russians would be concerned too much about what happens in the west. The upcoming supply shortage will happen, anyway. There is a lot of talk by the Saudis of making sure prices don't rise too much, but I am sure that is fake concern. They make it look like they are concerned shale production will gear up, which goes along with what the pundits are saying. They are playing us like a violin. Much like their purported "cuts". Jack production up several months, take it back to where it was before, and call it a cut. We bought it, hook line and sinker.
shallow sand says: 10/09/2017 at 8:24 pm
I am sure this post does not apply to shale, because shale is a Wall Street phenomenon. However, for us, a price spike will not immediately lead to drilling wells. First, after what we have been going through the last three years, I would want to make sure the price is going to hold. Yes, no way to know that really, but I can guarantee we would not be rushing out to get permits.

Second, after this crash, we would want to heal some. Get cash balances higher, then maybe actually take some decent draws. After all, we are in this for the income, not to see how much we can produce. That is what always blows me away about Wall Street. They analyze every metric imaginable when it comes to E & P's except the bottom line. I'd rather own 50 BOPD and make $50K per month than own 500 BOPD and lose $50K per month.

Third, there are some much cheaper things we can do to boost production than drilling new wells. Workovers may not yield as much, but they cost 1/5 or less that of a new well.

I wonder, outside of shale, if we would see this type of attitude if there is a supply crunch? Will all those high cost projects suddenly come back on line.

Finally, everyone and their dog is proclaiming the end of oil anyway. Everything is going to electric in terms of transportation. Countries abolishing ICE vehicle production. Never mind that is in 2040 mostly.

Now, why would I want to drill more wells knowing oil is nearing the end? Might as well just try to make what I can off this existing ones. No reason to spend a bunch of CAPEX. Is it possible that all of the end of oil talk actually helps cause a supply crunch? Believe me, it is going through our minds now that maybe we need to be worried about decreasing demand in our lifetimes due to EV's.

Watcher says: 10/10/2017 at 12:53 am
Best to ignore the EV wackos and watch Chinese and India oil consumption data.

[Oct 11, 2017] Saudis to Make Deepest Cut to Crude Supply Despite Strong Demand

www.bloomberg.com
Saudi Aramco plans to make "the deepest customer allocation cuts in its history" in oil supplies in November to help reduce global inventories and balance the market.

State-run Saudi Arabian Oil Co., known as Aramco, will make an "unprecedented" cut of 560,000 barrels a day in its allocations to customers next month, the Saudi energy ministry said in a statement. Aramco plans to supply 7.15 million barrels a day "despite very strong demand" that exceeds 7.7 million barrels a day, it said.

"Saudi Arabia is once again demonstrating extraordinary leadership in its commitment to re-balancing the market, as we approach the upcoming key meeting of November 30 in Vienna, by restraining not only the top-line of production volume, but even more importantly the bottom line of exports, which are what ultimately shape global inventories and market balances," the ministry said. "The kingdom expects all other participants in the effort to follow suit and to maintain the high levels of overall conformity achieved in August going forward."

Saudi Arabia, the world's top crude exporter, is leading the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers including Russia in paring output under a deal that helped propel oil into a bull market in September. Lower compliance with the curbs promised by some nations combined with rising production in OPEC members Libya and Nigeria -- both exempt from reducing output due to their internal strife -- have added pressure on Saudi Arabia to make deeper cuts of its own.

Brent, the global benchmark, erased earlier declines to trade marginally higher at $55.62 a barrel at 3:47 pm in London after the news of the Saudi oil allocations cuts.

The decrease in allocations for November "constitutes a full 290,000 barrels a day reduction over and above the 486,000 barrels a day" that Saudi Arabia pledged to cut as part of its commitment to the global output accord, the ministry said. This adds up "to a massive total of almost 800,000 barrels a day" in cuts, it said.

[Oct 11, 2017] State-run Saudi Arabian Oil Co., known as Aramco, will make an "unprecedented" cut of 560,000 barrels a day in its allocations to customers next month, the Saudi energy ministry said in a statement. Aramco plans to supply 7.15 million barrels a day "despite very strong demand" that exceeds 7.7 million barrels a day, it said.

Oct 11, 2017 | www.bloomberg.com

Saudi Aramco plans to make "the deepest customer allocation cuts in its history" in oil supplies in November to help reduce global inventories and balance the market.

"Saudi Arabia is once again demonstrating extraordinary leadership in its commitment to re-balancing the market, as we approach the upcoming key meeting of November 30 in Vienna, by restraining not only the top-line of production volume, but even more importantly the bottom line of exports, which are what ultimately shape global inventories and market balances," the ministry said. "The kingdom expects all other participants in the effort to follow suit and to maintain the high levels of overall conformity achieved in August going forward."

Saudi Arabia, the world's top crude exporter, is leading the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers including Russia in paring output under a deal that helped propel oil into a bull market in September. Lower compliance with the curbs promised by some nations combined with rising production in OPEC members Libya and Nigeria -- both exempt from reducing output due to their internal strife -- have added pressure on Saudi Arabia to make deeper cuts of its own.

Brent, the global benchmark, erased earlier declines to trade marginally higher at $55.62 a barrel at 3:47 pm in London after the news of the Saudi oil allocations cuts.

The decrease in allocations for November "constitutes a full 290,000 barrels a day reduction over and above the 486,000 barrels a day" that Saudi Arabia pledged to cut as part of its commitment to the global output accord, the ministry said. This adds up "to a massive total of almost 800,000 barrels a day" in cuts, it said.

[Oct 10, 2017] Central-Eastern European pipeline gets go-ahead

Oct 10, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

et Al , September 30, 2017 at 7:24 am

Euractiv: Central-Eastern European pipeline gets go-ahead
https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/central-eastern-european-pipeline-gets-go-ahead/

An ambitious gas pipeline project connecting Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria received a shot in the arm on Thursday (28 September), when all of the involved parties signed a memorandum of understanding for the project, a vital part of Europe's efforts to wean itself off Russian gas

"We are at a very advanced stage with the BRUA project. We issued the building permit, we are conducting procedures for assigning the construction works, and contracts have already been signed for the design part and for the part concerning equipment for stations," Romanian Energy Minister Toma Petcu revealed.

"In December, the contracts for the execution part are going to be signed and pipe procurement is going to be finalised," Petcu added
####

Plenty more at the link.

Patient Observer , September 30, 2017 at 8:36 am
BRUA will be able to transport gas from the Black Sea and, when supply comes online at the end of the decade, from the Caspian too.

It is intended to cut Eastern and Central Europe's dependence on Russian gas, an important part of the European Commission's third energy package and the CESEC group's objectives.

Black Sea gas? Where again? Crimea does apparently have significant off-shore deposits of undeveloped gas. It is difficult to find an article via Google on the subject that does not have an anti-Russian slant (you know, something like just facts) but here is something on the topic:

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-05-20/putins-crimea-bonus-vast-oil-and-gas-fields

I don't know if there are other sources of Black Sea gas directly accessible to the EU.

Caspian sea gas seems a looong way off, if ever it were to happen.

Patient Observer , September 30, 2017 at 10:21 am
Thinking more about the BRUA pipe line, It could be a make work project for the region with PC overtones (e.g. Crimea's little escapade will soon end bringing Black Sea gas back to Europe). The usual graft and corruption will also keep Brussels bureaucrats and local counterparts fat and happy.
et Al , September 30, 2017 at 2:00 pm
It fits in to the Energy Union progapanda that Brussels is spreading. There at least it makes some sense that where ever you are in the EU, member states will have access to energy resources from wherever else in the EU. Of course, the real question is of price and is something completely different. Does anyone else think it is insane to ship LNG to Krk off Croatia to be pipelined to the rest of the Balkans? Is this a bribe to Qatar or something? Or American LNG to say Antwerp or through the Med?

Still, the EU pipeline projects are small change compared to the amount spend on the Common Agricultural Policy and other stuff. I guess its just another 'Do Something' schtick to make Brussels seem relevant to EU citizens like me. Speaking of which, I enjoyed data and telecoms free roaming this summer when I went to the g/f's folk's place this summer. It was.. surreal. And normal. The fact that national EU telecomms operators have been shafting their own customers so hard and for so long and it took f($*ing Brussels to force it through shows which side their own states are on. A sorry state indeed!

marknesop , September 30, 2017 at 3:55 pm
It must be said again – Russia does not intend to sit idle in the LNG business either. And if the planned Kaliningrad terminal comes online by the end of this year as planned , it will not only position Russia attractively in the LNG market (does it cost more to bring European gas cargoes from Kaliningrad, or across the Atlantic?), it will bring increased energy independence to Kaliningrad itself. A cruise terminal is planned as well.
kirill , September 30, 2017 at 11:38 am
These clowns are a combination of corrupt and delusional. The only non-Russian gas coming via the Black Sea would be hypothetical sources via Turkey from Qatar/Iran and the Caspian basin. There is no source of natural gas in the Black Sea that, for example, Bulgaria could develop to feed this pipe.
marknesop , September 30, 2017 at 12:54 pm
Europe is forever bragging about weaning itself off of Russian gas, when what it is mostly doing is taking Russian gas and moving it around through connectors, and then reselling it to each other. A prime example – although not European – is Ukraine, which claims to have taken no Russian gas throughout 2015 and 2016 during which time it sourced most of its gas from Slovakia, supplied at 90% and above levels by Russia.

Ukraine claims to be getting gas from Yurrup at cheaper prices than Gazprom offered for direct supplies. If that's true, Slovakia is selling gas to Ukraine for less than it paid for it. And there's a word for people like that.

[Oct 04, 2017] Wheels and Deals Trouble Brewing in the House of Saud by Pepe Escobar

The quote attributed to Mark Twain and Yogi Berra "It's Difficult to Make Predictions, Especially About the Future" still holds. This assessment by Pete Escobar about forthcoming bankruptcy of KAS need to be verified in three years from now. It is unclear whether the key future events (such as prediction that the current Crown Prince might be deposed with the CIA help) will take place.
It is, nevertheless, clear that KAS economics is under considerable stress due to low oil prices and that eventually can bankrupt the kingdom as foreign currency reserves shrink rapidly. What such economic crisis might entail for KAS we can only guess by reshuffling at the top is quite probably in this case. So in a way the future of KAS hangs on how soon oil prices will be pushed back into $100 range.
Notable quotes:
"... MBS is surrounded by inexperienced thirty-something princes, and alienating just about everyone else. ..."
"... "the CIA is outraged that the compromise worked out in April, 2014 has been abrogated wherein the greatest anti-terrorist factor in the Middle East, Mohammed bin Nayef, was arrested." That may prompt "vigorous action taken against MBS possibly in early October." And it might even coincide with the Salman-Trump get together. ..."
"... Asia Times' Gulf business source stresses how "the Saudi economy is under extreme strain based on their oil price war against Russia, and they are behind their bills in paying just about all their contractors. That could lead to the bankruptcy of some of the major enterprises in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Arabia of MBS features the Crown Prince buying a US$600 million yacht and his father spending US$100 million on his summer vacation, highlighted on the front pages of the New York Times while the Kingdom strangles under their leadership." ..."
"... MBS's pet project, the spun-to-death Vision 2030, in theory aims to diversify from mere oil profits and dependency on the US to a more modern economy (and a more independent foreign policy). That's completely misguided, according to the source, because "the problem in Saudi Arabia is that their companies cannot function with their local population and [are] reliant on expatriates for about 70% or more of their staff. Aramco cannot run without expatriates. Therefore, selling 5% of Aramco to diversify does not solve the problem. If he wants a more productive society, and less handouts and meaningless government jobs, he has to first train and employ his own people." ..."
"... The similarly lauded Aramco IPO, arguably the largest share sale in history and originally scheduled for next year, has once again been postponed – "possibly" to the second half of 2019, according to officials in Riyadh. And still no one knows where shares will be sold; the NYSE is far from a done deal. ..."
"... I n parallel, MBS's war on Yemen, and the Saudi drive for regime change in Syria and to reshape the Greater Middle East, have turned out to be spectacular disasters. ..."
"... The Islamic State project was conceived as the ideal tool to force Iraq to implode. It's now public domain that the organization's funding came mostly from Saudi Arabia. Even the former imam of Mecca has publicly admitted ISIS' leadership "draw their ideas from what is written in our own books, our own principles." ..."
"... Salafi-jihadism is more than alive inside the Kingdom even as MBS tries to spin a (fake) liberal trend (the "baby you can drive my car" stunt). The problem is Riyadh congenitally cannot deliver on any liberal promise; the only legitimacy for the House of Saud lies in those religious "books" and "principles." ..."
"... In Syria, besides the fact that an absolute majority of the country's population does not wish to live in a Takfiristan , Saudi Arabia supported ISIS while Qatar supported al-Qaeda (Jabhat al-Nusra). That ended up in a crossfire bloodbath, with all those non-existent US-supported "moderate rebels" reduced to road kill. ..."
"... In Enemy of the State, the latest Mitch Rapp thriller written by Kyle Mills, President Alexander, sitting at the White House, blurts, "the Middle East is imploding because those Saudi sons of bitches have been pumping up religious fundamentalism to hide the fact that they're robbing their people blind." That's a fair assessment. ..."
"... In terms of what Washington wants, the CIA is not fond of MBS, to say the least. They want "their" man Nayef back. As for the Trump administration, rumors swirl it is " desperate for Saudi money , especially infrastructure investments in the Rust Belt." ..."
"... This piece first appeared in Asia Times . ..."
Oct 04, 2017 | www.counterpunch.org

No wonder, considering that the ousted Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef – highly regarded in the Beltway, especially Langley – is under house arrest. His massive web of agents at the Interior Ministry has largely been "relieved of their authority". The new Interior Minister is Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef, 34, the eldest son of the governor of the country's largely Shi'ite Eastern Province, where all the oil is. Curiously, the father is now reporting to his son. MBS is surrounded by inexperienced thirty-something princes, and alienating just about everyone else.

Former King Abdulaziz set up his Saudi succession based on the seniority of his sons; in theory, if each one lived to the same age all would have a shot at the throne, thus avoiding the bloodletting historically common in Arabian clans over lines of succession.

Now, says the source, "a bloodbath is predicted to be imminent." Especially because "the CIA is outraged that the compromise worked out in April, 2014 has been abrogated wherein the greatest anti-terrorist factor in the Middle East, Mohammed bin Nayef, was arrested." That may prompt "vigorous action taken against MBS possibly in early October." And it might even coincide with the Salman-Trump get together.

ISIS playing by the (Saudi) book

Asia Times' Gulf business source stresses how "the Saudi economy is under extreme strain based on their oil price war against Russia, and they are behind their bills in paying just about all their contractors. That could lead to the bankruptcy of some of the major enterprises in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Arabia of MBS features the Crown Prince buying a US$600 million yacht and his father spending US$100 million on his summer vacation, highlighted on the front pages of the New York Times while the Kingdom strangles under their leadership."

MBS's pet project, the spun-to-death Vision 2030, in theory aims to diversify from mere oil profits and dependency on the US to a more modern economy (and a more independent foreign policy). That's completely misguided, according to the source, because "the problem in Saudi Arabia is that their companies cannot function with their local population and [are] reliant on expatriates for about 70% or more of their staff. Aramco cannot run without expatriates. Therefore, selling 5% of Aramco to diversify does not solve the problem. If he wants a more productive society, and less handouts and meaningless government jobs, he has to first train and employ his own people."

The similarly lauded Aramco IPO, arguably the largest share sale in history and originally scheduled for next year, has once again been postponed – "possibly" to the second half of 2019, according to officials in Riyadh. And still no one knows where shares will be sold; the NYSE is far from a done deal.

I n parallel, MBS's war on Yemen, and the Saudi drive for regime change in Syria and to reshape the Greater Middle East, have turned out to be spectacular disasters. Egypt and Pakistan have refused to send troops to Yemen, where relentless Saudi air bombing – with US and UK weapons – has accelerated malnutrition, famine and cholera, and configured a massive humanitarian crisis.

The Islamic State project was conceived as the ideal tool to force Iraq to implode. It's now public domain that the organization's funding came mostly from Saudi Arabia. Even the former imam of Mecca has publicly admitted ISIS' leadership "draw their ideas from what is written in our own books, our own principles."

Which brings us to the ultimate Saudi contradiction. Salafi-jihadism is more than alive inside the Kingdom even as MBS tries to spin a (fake) liberal trend (the "baby you can drive my car" stunt). The problem is Riyadh congenitally cannot deliver on any liberal promise; the only legitimacy for the House of Saud lies in those religious "books" and "principles."

In Syria, besides the fact that an absolute majority of the country's population does not wish to live in a Takfiristan , Saudi Arabia supported ISIS while Qatar supported al-Qaeda (Jabhat al-Nusra). That ended up in a crossfire bloodbath, with all those non-existent US-supported "moderate rebels" reduced to road kill.

And then there's the economic blockade against Qatar – another brilliant MBS plot. That has only served to improve Doha's relations with both Ankara and Tehran. Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani was not regime-changed, whether or not Trump really dissuaded Riyadh and Abu Dhabi from taking "military action." There was no economic strangulation: Total, for instance, is about to invest US$2 billion to expand production of Qatari natural gas. And Qatar, via its sovereign fund, counterpunched with the ultimate soft power move – it bought global footballing brand Neymar for PSG , and the "blockade" sank without a trace.

"Robbing their people blind"

In Enemy of the State, the latest Mitch Rapp thriller written by Kyle Mills, President Alexander, sitting at the White House, blurts, "the Middle East is imploding because those Saudi sons of bitches have been pumping up religious fundamentalism to hide the fact that they're robbing their people blind." That's a fair assessment.

No dissent whatsoever is allowed in Saudi Arabia. Even the economic analyst Isam Az-Zamil, very close to the top, has been arrested during the current repression campaign. So opposition to MBS does not come only from the royal family or some top clerics – although the official spin rules that only those supporting Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey, Iran and Qatari "terrorism" are being targeted.

In terms of what Washington wants, the CIA is not fond of MBS, to say the least. They want "their" man Nayef back. As for the Trump administration, rumors swirl it is " desperate for Saudi money , especially infrastructure investments in the Rust Belt."

It will be immensely enlightening to compare what Trump gets from Salman with what Putin gets from Salman: the ailing King will visit Moscow in late October. Rosneft is interested in buying shares of Aramco when the IPO takes place. Riyadh and Moscow are considering an OPEC deal extension as well as an OPEC-non-OPEC cooperation platform incorporating the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF).

Riyadh has read the writing on the new wall: Moscow's rising political / strategic capital all across the board, from Iran, Syria and Qatar to Turkey and Yemen. That does not sit well with the US deep state. Even if Trump gets some Rust Belt deals, the burning question is whether the CIA and its friends can live with MBS on the House of Saud throne.

This piece first appeared in Asia Times .

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). His latest book is Empire of Chaos . He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com .

[Oct 04, 2017] The Logical (and Coming) End to the US Empire by Robert Abele

No so fast... Five years later (the article was written in 2013) the US empire is still going strong. meanwhile from 2013 to 2017 it managed to counterattack resource nationalists (killing Kaddafi) and and win in Libya, making the country a colony again. I think Venezuela is the next. Oil prices dropped more then 50% in 2014 (from over $100 to less then $50 per barrel ) and did not yet recovered...
Notable quotes:
"... For an example of the ethical problems of empire, think about the completely unjustifiable attacks on civilians done by the U.S. in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and most prominently in Pakistan and Yemen, especially done by drones. Or consider U.S. use of torture, from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo Bay. As everyone knows by now, ethical and humanitarian appeals have been completely and categorically rejected by U.S. leaders, not beginning with 9-11, certainly rejected with greater vigor since then. ..."
"... But there is another, often overlooked, analysis of U.S. actions, that is the logical result of engaging in the actions of Empire, and that concerns the logical consequence of using massive amounts of resources to attempt to control the resources being used (the second use of the term resources here includes citizens; the people of a city or nation). As the economic, logistic, and humanitarian costs all rise in direct proportion to Empire's actions, the sustaining of the Empire becomes impossible, on the basis of its own internal logic. ..."
"... When the issue of blowback is added "i.e. that other nations and peoples are unlikely to cooperate willingly in having their resources, humanity, and very lives removed from them "the end result, Empire's fall, could be hastened, and is certainly assured. We can now predict not only how it will happen, but also its imminent coming. ..."
"... First, the heaviest resource consumers of fossil fuels, in order, are the U.S. military, U.S. citizens, China, and India. The Department of Defense per capita energy consumption is 10 times more than per capita energy consumption in China, or 30 times more than that of Africa. ..."
"... Oil accounts for more than three-fourths of DoD’s total energy consumption. The Post Carbon Institute estimates that abroad alone, the U.S. military consumes about 150,000 barrels per day. In 2006, for example, the Air Force consumed 2.6 billion gallons of jet-fuel, which is the same amount of fuel U.S. airplanes consumed during all of WWII (between December 1941 and August 1945) (from The Resilience Group of the Post Carbon Institute, www.resilience.org ). ..."
"... This essays suggests that these two solid arguments should now be combined with an institutional-logical analysis to demonstrate not only the intrinsic, natural limits to empire, but to show reasons how and why empire must and will ultimately disintegrate due to the hubris of ignoring natural limitations of unbridled consumption coupled with attempts at singular control over others' resources and peoples. ..."
Jul 29, 2013 | www.counterpunch.org

There are numerous legal and ethical arguments that can and have been made in opposition to U.S. foreign policy of raw aggression. For an example of the illegalities of U.S. Empire, examine the Geneva Conventions, all four of which directly proscribe what they each call outrages to human dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment (I, 1, 3). The outrages are named specifically as torture, mutilation, cruel treatment, taking hostages, murder, biological experimentation, and passing sentences on prisoners without benefit of a regularly constituted court.

Additionally, the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 both underscore the Geneva Conventions and expand the traditional ethical concerns to rights and duties of neutral states by banning the use of poison gases or arms, destroying or seizing enemy private property, attacking towns and cities that are undefended, pillaging, collective punishment, servility of enemy citizens, and bullets made to wreak havoc once inside the human body. Prescriptions to limit the conduct of war include the requirements to warn towns of impending attacks, to protect cultural, religious, and health institutions, and to insure public order and safety.

For an example of the ethical problems of empire, think about the completely unjustifiable attacks on civilians done by the U.S. in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and most prominently in Pakistan and Yemen, especially done by drones. Or consider U.S. use of torture, from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo Bay. As everyone knows by now, ethical and humanitarian appeals have been completely and categorically rejected by U.S. leaders, not beginning with 9-11, certainly rejected with greater vigor since then.

But there is another, often overlooked, analysis of U.S. actions, that is the logical result of engaging in the actions of Empire, and that concerns the logical consequence of using massive amounts of resources to attempt to control the resources being used (the second use of the term resources here includes citizens; the people of a city or nation). As the economic, logistic, and humanitarian costs all rise in direct proportion to Empire's actions, the sustaining of the Empire becomes impossible, on the basis of its own internal logic.

In whatever historical epoch you choose, if you take your compass and draw a circle around any given tribe, you can see the desired extent of their territorial claims for resource control. One thus can see that particular group's

  1. resource consumption; and
  2. circle of desired resource control. But when two further historical developments are added, such as
  3. technologically-driven consumption (e.g. fossil-fuel guzzling appliances and cars, etc.); and
  4. now necessary desires for global resources needed to feed that group's consumption habits "then the situation expands sufficiently to become one of using extensive amounts of the very resources one is attempting to control (in the U.S. case, oil and money) for the sake of controlling the resources over which one needs to exert control! This circular logic cannot be maintained when it meets
  5. a scarcity of resources; and
  6. the natural-institutional-logical antinomy of using resources in massive amounts to control the resources you are using for control. In other words, the empire based on this pattern must end when it runs headlong into resource scarcity, and/or natural-logical contradictions involving its own internal (economic and resource) limitations.

This argument against U.S. Empire is not based on ethical or legal grounds (although those remain the best arguments in favor of voluntarily ending empire and regaining our citizenship [civil rights] and humanness) "since those arguments have been put asunder by the U.S. administrators of empire. Rather, the institutional-logical analysis argues that an empire such as the U.S. has constructed exhausts itself by being unable to expand fast enough to control everything it seeks in order to continue its dominance.

When the issue of blowback is added "i.e. that other nations and peoples are unlikely to cooperate willingly in having their resources, humanity, and very lives removed from them "the end result, Empire's fall, could be hastened, and is certainly assured. We can now predict not only how it will happen, but also its imminent coming. Here's how.

First, the heaviest resource consumers of fossil fuels, in order, are the U.S. military, U.S. citizens, China, and India. The Department of Defense per capita energy consumption is 10 times more than per capita energy consumption in China, or 30 times more than that of Africa.

Oil accounts for more than three-fourths of DoD’s total energy consumption. The Post Carbon Institute estimates that abroad alone, the U.S. military consumes about 150,000 barrels per day. In 2006, for example, the Air Force consumed 2.6 billion gallons of jet-fuel, which is the same amount of fuel U.S. airplanes consumed during all of WWII (between December 1941 and August 1945) (from The Resilience Group of the Post Carbon Institute, www.resilience.org ).

Second, concerning the global dimension of resource control, one needs only to understand the preferred method that U.S. Empire acolytes use to justify their actions abroad: the state of emergency that was declared after 9/11 has continued unabated since then, due to the ongoing threat of terrorism (see Jeremy Scahill, Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield , for the latest detailed instances of this process.). The domestic equivalent to his war has been well underway since 9-11. (For detail on the domestic front, see also Trevor Aaronson, Terror Factory , regarding FBI domestic use of the ongoing threat of terrorism to deny basic civil rights to citizens).

This allows U.S. government administrators to maintain a state of exception to the rule of law. Georgio Agamben, in his book States of Exception , defines this phrase as extraordinary governmental actions resulting from distinctively political crises. As such, the actions of such administrators are in-between normal political operations and legal ones. This no man's land of government policy is not only difficult to define, but brings in its wake a suspension of the entire existing juridical order. Thus, states of exception are those in which a government in fact suspends the rule of law for itself, while attempting to maintain some semblance of legal order, for the purpose of consolidating its power and control (see Georgio Agamben, States of Exception , Chapter Two).

Regarding the scarcity of resources issue, none other than the World Bank produced a detailed study of demand and supply projections for the immediate future. The study projects that, on the basis of current consumption and immediately precedent rises in it, the demand for food will rise by 50% by 2030, for meat by 85%, for oil by 20 million barrels a day, and for water by 32%, all by the same year.

This is met by alarming statistics and predictions from the supply side. In their report, they state that global food growth rates fell by 1.1% over the past decade, and are continuing to fall, while global food consumption outstripped production in seven of the eight years between 2000 and 2008. Further, the Food and Agricultural Organization and the UN Environment Program estimate that 16% of the arable land used now is degraded. Intensifying competition between different land uses is likely to emerge in future, including food crops, livestock, etc., and the world's expanding cities. Current rates of water extraction from rivers, groundwater and other sources are already unsustainable in many parts of the world.

Over one billion people live in water basins in which the physical scarcity of water is absolute; by 2025, the figure is projected to rise two billion, with up to two thirds of the world's population living in water-stressed conditions (mainly in non-OECD countries).

On oil , the International Energy Agency has warned consistently that there is a significant risk of a new supply crunch as the global economy recovers. Additionally, the IEA's chief economist argues that peak production could take place by 2020 (from the World Development Report 2011, Background Paper: Resource Scarcity, Climate Change and the Risk of Violent Conflict, www.worldbank.org ).

The conclusion from all of these points is nearly obvious: if resources are even relatively scarce, and the habits of and desires for consumption continue to rise among nations, and especially among the citizens of Empire (as has been documented in part above), and if control over those resources is the goal of Empire, but if the Empire consumes more resources than it can logistically or economically control due to natural limitations of those resources themselves, and/or to the consumption of more resources than is either available to it or that it needs to survive, then the power of the Empire will naturally-logically end in a sharp decline, and soon (For applicable details on this, see Richard Heinberg, The Brief, Tragic Reign of Consumerism "and the Birth of a Happy Alternative, www.postcarbon.org ).

With all indicators predicting that the contradictions of Empire's resource consumption, circle of desired resource control, scarcity of resources, and contradiction in resource use and control, are all about to collide in a few years, not decades, it is time to start planning for a post-Empire future. To that end, any psychologist reading this analysis will recognize themes of realistic conflict theory, which is a theory which explains how intergroup hostility can arise as a result of conflicting goals and competition over limited resources

The key point in bringing this psychological theory into the discussion is that in this theory, it is concluded that friction between groups can be reduced only in the presence of superordinate goals that promote united, cooperative action (see Wikipedia on Realistic Conflict Theory for a good overview, summarized here. https://en.wikipedia.org ). Note the agreement of the ethical, legal, and psychological analyses of Empire's oppression: the most effective resolution to oppression, (empire) dominance, and conflict is united, cooperative action, not the attempt to control or destroy people and nations who stand in the way of our control.

We have seen that progressives have had available to them a standard two-pronged argument against empire "American or any other". Progressives have for good reason appealed consistently to the ethical and the legal arguments available to help stem the desires for world and resource domination.

This essays suggests that these two solid arguments should now be combined with an institutional-logical analysis to demonstrate not only the intrinsic, natural limits to empire, but to show reasons how and why empire must and will ultimately disintegrate due to the hubris of ignoring natural limitations of unbridled consumption coupled with attempts at singular control over others' resources and peoples.

Dr. Robert P. Abele holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Marquette University He is the author of three books: A User’s Guide to the USA PATRIOT Act (2005); The Anatomy of a Deception: A Logical and Ethical Analysis of the Decision to Invade Iraq (2009); Democracy Gone: A Chronicle of the Last Chapters of the Great American Democratic Experiment (2009). He contributed eleven chapters to the Encyclopedia of Global Justice, from The Hague: Springer Press (October, 2011). Dr. Abele is a professor of philosophy at Diablo Valley College, located in Pleasant Hill, California in the San Francisco Bay area.

[Oct 02, 2017] Saudi Arabia Must Prepare for the Post-Petroleum Order by Mark P. Lagon

War in Yemen is perfect destruction from internal problems facing Saudi regime. And Wahhabism is like albatross around the neck on any attempts to reform the county. So as soon as oil ends Saudi Arabia will end as a state too. that means it is unclear if they still exist in 2050 or 2100.
Oct 02, 2017 | nationalinterest.org

Perhaps the prince is purposefully driving us to distraction...

Intensified brutality has not been limited to Saudi soil. As defense minister, Mohammed bin Salman was the architect of a more interventionist posture for Saudi Arabia -- motivated far less by quashing terrorism than its regional and sectarian rivalries. In particular, he shaped a policy that flagrantly violated humanitarian norms against Yemen's civilian population. Even the most jaundiced skeptic about the United Nations would regard Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as a highly credible voice on humanitarian situations given that he is the former high commissioner for refugees and former prime minister of Portugal. His special representative for children abused in wartime, Virginia Gamba, has documented hundreds of cases of Yemeni children killed and maimed by the Saudi's indiscriminate use of force.

... ... ...

enoch arden , September 30, 2017 7:20 AM

There will never be any science in Saudi Arabia. It isn't a part of their civilisation. It has never been in history. The great Islamic science of the Middle Ages existed in entirely different places: Iran, Mesopotamia, Syria and Egypt. The territory to the south has always been a scientific desert. No "human rights" or feminism can change this fundamental historic tradition.

KlingOn2K , September 30, 2017 3:56 AM

It has to be said that this near-existential crisis sneaked up on OPEC nations rather swiftly. I can't see how a pampered and indulged populace can get around to educating itself and working for a living in short order. There is a lot of tumultuous years ahead for these nations.

virgile , October 1, 2017 9:14 AM

Saudi Arabia has no chance to emerge from the middle age unless it leaders admit that their religion Wahhabism is obsolete and need to be revisited.
The trouble is that Wahhabismm and strict Sunnism, contrary to Shiism, forbids any attempt to revisit the teaching of the Sunna ( Koran + Hadith). Wahhabism can't evolve.

Therefore Saudi Arabia is trapped in that scheme and can never get out of it. The only way out is the total collapse of the kingdom as a whole. Maybe that is the real Vision!

Petar Petrovic , October 1, 2017 10:10 AM

Saudis should look at Syria as a model of democracy and pluralism in Arabic Islamic world, yet with their USA friends they tried to destroy it.

Petar Petrovic , October 1, 2017 10:07 AM

And these are the sort of people Trump visited first and they are USA allies in fratricidal war in Syria...there are actually lots of similarity between USA and Saudi Arabia;they are both sadistic governments.

Jeff Edward Easterling , October 1, 2017 1:00 AM

Thanks! :D

Since the actual military/defense/intelligence related spending is 1 trillion dollars a year, including about 100 billion in interest we pay on it, if we cut the spending a little and rely on national guard more since I've read it is cheaper to fund and if necessary nationalize our oil and gas industry like a lot of other countries we could start paying off our debt. :D

Schlesinger's Zenith ElPrimero , September 30, 2017 7:09 AM

The whole world must prepare for the post-petroleum order. But it's not, so there will be chaos and war. A country like Australia could fare better than most - if it could defend itself.

[Sep 25, 2017] The EU is again taking the position that transit of Russian gas through Ukraine after 2020 is a priority.

Notable quotes:
"... I know it's an analogy I have used before – as Lucy in the Peanuts ..."
"... Washington is the big brother Poroshenko turns to when he wants help to stymie Russia's efforts to build circumferential commercial links around Ukraine, and instead for Ukraine to have an important linking role in Russia's energy business with Europe – in short, for Russia to continue using Ukraine to transit its gas to Europe. ..."
"... In Ukraine's current condition, it is at serious risk of collapse. And a country that sends its gas across Ukraine is a country that cannot afford to let Ukraine turn into a failed state, at any cost. Just to put a cherry on top of this splendiferous vision, complications actually can be introduced, at a whim, into Europe's energy supply, should they get uppity. ..."
"... This is no time for Russia to weaken in its resolve. But it is also no time for Germany to allow itself to be rolled. Somebody is going to be a major gas hub for Europe, and in the current climate it is going to be Germany or Ukraine. Germany should ask itself what Ukraine has done for it which would merit such sacrifice. ..."
Sep 25, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

Originally from: The West is as Thick as the Earth's Mantle

First, I ran across an hilarious post on Interfax Ukraine, which I was just going to offer for everyone's amusement. It featured the 17-year-old CEO of Naftogaz, Andriy (it's very important to Ukrainians that they spell their names differently from the Russian spelling, because they are not ignorant Slavs like the Russians, but the descendants of billion-year-old-carbon extraterrestrials) Kobolev, blubbering about how Siemens had caved in to pressure from the Russians, and stopped the sale of compressors to Naftogaz that it needed to modernize its Gas Transit System (GTS). He's not really 17, of course; he just has that Richie Cunningham kind of face that makes him look perennially pubescent, complete with red hair. That's part of what makes the article funny. There's more, but we'll get to that, in a bit.

Then it occurred to me that I've seen a loose series of pieces lately which mention Ukraine and gas transit, such as Ken Rapoza's piece for Forbes (which I mentioned already, in the comments to the previous post), where he unaccountably suggests that Russia has discovered it still needs Ukraine. As I argued on that occasion, Ukraine's soulful big-eyed caricature of trustworthiness is unlikely to fool anyone in Russia, and merely underscores how important it is for Russia's continuing progress and uncoupling from the west that it circumvent Ukraine, and not rely on it for anything.

But then I ran across this . The EU is again taking the position, or at least it appears so from the gobbling of the human turkey Maros Sefcovic, that transit of Russian gas through Ukraine after 2020 is a priority. And I thought, holy shit. Are we really going to go through all this all over again? And then I thought, what's a word for people who are incapable of learning? It's plain that western bureaucrats see themselves – and I know it's an analogy I have used before – as Lucy in the Peanuts comic strips , holding the football for Charlie Brown (Russia), only to snatch it away at the last second so that Charlie Brown/Russia falls ignominiously on his ass, to great amusement. What's a word for people who are so stupid that they believe everyone else is too stupid to see through their self-interested mendacity?

So I searched "What do you call people who are incapable of learning?" This site – somewhat unkindly – suggested "thick". Fair enough, I thought.

... ... ...

But that wasn't the part that made me laugh. No, what I found funny was Kobolev's pouty insistence that Nord Stream II be opposed as a 'politically-motivated project'. Just as if leaning on the jellyfish President of the European Commission to force Russia to continue transiting Europe's gas through the slow-motion collapse that is Ukraine had nothing whatsoever to do with politics. Nope, that just stands out as a solid business decision in every way, doesn't it?

Let's get something up-front and on deck right now, so that there is no ambiguity to confuse the issue. Washington was behind the Maidan turning into a violent insurrection, and the USA remains behind the scenes pulling the strings at the SBU . A very frank phone conversation between State Department neoconservative cookie-distributor Victoria Nuland and United States Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, in which the eventual composition of the coup government was planned in unambiguous detail should be all the evidence anyone needs that the entire process was manipulated and micromanaged. Lest anyone forget, Nuland's choice, 'Yats' – Arseniy Yatsenyuk – was such a political dung-magnet that he lasted only 26 months in the job. To be fair to him, he was tasked with implementing the IMF's favourite reform (because it's the only one the IMF really knows); austerity, in the poorest country in Europe. And it is the United States of America which continues to have its arm up the back of Kiev's shirt, making its mouth move. Washington is the big brother Poroshenko turns to when he wants help to stymie Russia's efforts to build circumferential commercial links around Ukraine, and instead for Ukraine to have an important linking role in Russia's energy business with Europe – in short, for Russia to continue using Ukraine to transit its gas to Europe.

Why is that, do you suppose? What's in it for Washington?

Dragging Ukraine into the west's orbit has long been a goal for Washington, dating back to the late and mostly-unlamented Zbigniew Brzezinski's 'grand chessboard' strategy – a geostrategic imperative, he said, to ensure American primacy in the world. Russia without Ukraine, quoth the pushing-up-daisies Pole, would never attain great-power status. And America has sort of gotten to like the feeling of being the only great power in the world.

The strategic value of Ukraine, then, is manifold. It can be stirred at any time to whip up global ire against Russia. NATO military exercises in Ukraine can be used to parade western might across Russia's doorstep. But its real value lies in continued gas transit by Russia between the source and Russia.

For one thing, it's the money – more than $ 2 Billion a year out of Russia's pocket and into Ukraine's, in transit fees. Once Russia is committed to continuing to use Ukraine as a transit country, transit fees can always be used as leverage to negotiate sweet energy deals for Ukraine, against the threat of interrupting Europe's gas supply. Europe would play its part by acting hysterically terrified and victimized. But that's still pretty small potatoes.

In Ukraine's current condition, it is at serious risk of collapse. And a country that sends its gas across Ukraine is a country that cannot afford to let Ukraine turn into a failed state, at any cost. Just to put a cherry on top of this splendiferous vision, complications actually can be introduced, at a whim, into Europe's energy supply, should they get uppity.

There is no room in this sugarplum daydream for an independent Germany which is a gas hub for Europe, perhaps not even with Mutti Merkel at the helm.

Perhaps some sort of medal could be struck for Sefcovic, for his relentless determination to herd Russia into a horrible bargain which would see it constantly bargaining and negotiating with greedy and lawless Ukraine for the expensive privilege of transiting its gas through Ukraine's whistling, creaking pipelines. In other circumstances, such dedication might be admirable. But I'm pretty confident that nobody in Russia is buying it. Europe has made an increasingly half-hearted attempt to stop Nord Stream II, and has learned instead that if it wanted to make a sensible legal argument, it should never have allowed the first pipeline; that's what, in the legal business, is known as 'precedent'.

All of which leads us to suspect that the real remaining antagonist to the Nord Stream II pipeline is somebody whom it should not by rights concern at all, since that entity is neither part of the supply chain nor the end user of the product – Uncle Sam.

This is no time for Russia to weaken in its resolve. But it is also no time for Germany to allow itself to be rolled. Somebody is going to be a major gas hub for Europe, and in the current climate it is going to be Germany or Ukraine. Germany should ask itself what Ukraine has done for it which would merit such sacrifice.

[Sep 17, 2017] Absence of common sense articles on the gas wars issue is really alaming by Nikos Tsafos

Notable quotes:
"... The critics allege that Nord Stream 2 is a political project. So what? When the Obama Administration authorised liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from the United States, did it have politics in mind? Sure. When the Lithuanians turned to LNG to lessen their reliance on Russia, were they pursuing a political project? Well, the importing vessel is called "Independence." Saying that Nord Stream 2 is a political project does not get you very far ..."
"... I can't believe it has taken this long for Euractiv to post a normal article on NordStream II. Sure, it is not the Russophobic shitrag that EUObserver carrying bs opinions from self-acclaimed 'apolitical' energy expert Srijben de Jong, but absence of common sense articles on the issue are few and far between. I'll give this a '1 Hurrah!'. Let see if if it spreads. ..."
Jul 13, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

et Al , July 12, 2017 at 11:23 am

Euractiv: Nord Stream 2 doesn't matter
https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/opinion/nord-stream-2-doesnt-matter/

By Nikos Tsafos | enalytica

Nord Stream 2 continues to divide Europe. That's a pity. For all the noise, Nord Stream 2 is just a distraction – it doesn't really matter. Here's why, writes Nikos Tsafos.

Nikos Tsafos is president of enalytica, an energy consulting firm, and an adjunct lecturer at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

The critics allege that Nord Stream 2 is a political project. So what? When the Obama Administration authorised liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from the United States, did it have politics in mind? Sure. When the Lithuanians turned to LNG to lessen their reliance on Russia, were they pursuing a political project? Well, the importing vessel is called "Independence." Saying that Nord Stream 2 is a political project does not get you very far

####

I can't believe it has taken this long for Euractiv to post a normal article on NordStream II. Sure, it is not the Russophobic shitrag that EUObserver carrying bs opinions from self-acclaimed 'apolitical' energy expert Srijben de Jong, but absence of common sense articles on the issue are few and far between. I'll give this a '1 Hurrah!'. Let see if if it spreads.

[Aug 26, 2017] First tanker crosses northern sea route without ice breaker

Aug 26, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

et Al , August 24, 2017 at 4:05 pm

Al Beeb s'Allah GONAD (God's Own News Agency Direct): First tanker crosses northern sea route without ice breaker
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-41037071

The specially-built ship completed the crossing in just six-and-a-half days setting a new record, according to tanker's Russian owners.

The 300-metre-long Sovcomflot ship, the Christophe de Margerie, was carrying gas from Norway to South Korea .

The Christophe de Margerie is the world's first and, at present, only ice-breaking LNG carrier.

The ship, which features a lightweight steel reinforced hull, is the largest commercial ship to receive Arc7 certification, which means it is capable of travelling through ice up to 2.1m thick. ..
####

Another misleading headline, which is a pity because I wanted to say that the downside would be that it makes for shit Gin & Tonics if there is no ice!

Just as a reminder of FAKE news by the previous President that was met with raptured adulation by the professional media:

Neuters 3 August 2014: Obama: 'Russia Doesn't Make Anything'
http://www.businessinsider.com/obama-russia-doesnt-make-anything-2014-8?IR=T

karl1haushofer , August 25, 2017 at 1:07 am
Are you sure that tanker was built in Russia?
Moscow Exile , August 25, 2017 at 1:19 am
LNG TANKER CHRISTOPHE DE MARGERIE sails under the Cypriot flag and is registered in Limassol, Cyprus.

The vessel was built by Daewoo Shipbuilding Marine Engineering.

As we all know, Russians cannot make anything.

marknesop , August 25, 2017 at 12:03 pm
Was the ASIA VISION built in the USA ?
davidt , August 25, 2017 at 1:24 am
For information only, I think the boat was built by the South Korean firm DSME.

[Aug 26, 2017] Gas princess Tymoshenko might be back on power as Poroshenko lost the trust of Ukranians

Aug 26, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

karl1haushofer , August 25, 2017 at 12:23 am

I would not call Julia Tymoshenko "pro-Russian". She was part of the Orange revolution leaders in 2004.
Moscow Exile , August 25, 2017 at 1:07 am
You are absolutely correct about her not being "pro-Russian", albeit she is an "ethnic" Russian: she is pro-Yulia Tymoshenko, nothing else..

Tymoshenko started off as a businesswoman in Dnepropetrovsk (now Dnipro), her home town, and with the help of the former governor of her home province, the unbelievably corrupt former Ukrainian prime minister, "Mr. 50%" Lazarenko, became immensely wealthy in an amazingly short time, not least because, for an appropriate fee, Prime Minister Lazarenko gave her control of the Ukrainian gas industry.

Tymoshenko was a brunette when she started of her business career and at that time only spoke Russian, which is both her mother tongue and the first (and probably only) language of her Russian mother. Her first foray into business was running a video-hire firm in Dnepropetrovsk, where she flogged off bootleg soft-porn imported from Poland.

The "Gas Princess" then saw that there was much more wealth to be further garnered by her entering what is laughably called in the Ukraine "politics". She changed her image to one of, I suspect, a latter-day Lesya Ukrainka, and the rest is history.

She also seriously studied the Ukrainian language, which on her own admission, she did not speak until she was in her 30s: she speaks nothing else now, in public at any rate.

The "Orange Revolution" for dear Yulia was just another opportunity for her to make even more lolly.

Moscow Exile , August 25, 2017 at 2:07 am

Ukrainians remember that in the 1990s, before the braids, Tymoshenko was a shrewd businesswoman with dark hair and a dark side: tough, unrelenting, unforgiving, and in a league with then-Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko. She amassed an enormous fortune in the natural gas business. People started calling her "The Gas Princess." And there she was helped by the sweetheart deals Lazarenko allegedly sent her way.

Given all the talk that later charges against Tymoshenko were trumped up or falsified in the Ukraine, it's probably important to know that her ally Lazarenko was prosecuted in the United States, where he was convicted and imprisoned for money laundering and other crimes. Tymoshenko was not charged in that case and she has denied wrongdoing, but she was named explicitly as part of the conspiracy detailed in the indictment.

"Lazarenko received money from companies owned or controlled by Ukrianian [sic] business woman Yulia Tymoshenko in exchange for which Lazarenko exercised his official authority in favor of Tymoshenko's companies, and Lazarenko failed to disclose to the people and government of Ukraine that he was receiving significant amounts of money from these companies."

Tymoshenko moved from business to politics when she entered parliament in 1996. Three years later, when Lazarenko fled the country (claiming people were out to kill him), Tymoshenko helped found the Fatherland Party on an anti-Lazarenko anti-corruption platform.

Yulia Tymoshenko: She's No Angel

marknesop , August 25, 2017 at 12:06 pm
That prosecution is important, because the USA knows full well many of the details of Tymoshenko's business relationship with Lazarenko. Consequently, it could probably make or break her – exactly the position Uncle Same likes to be in with his relentless spying and snooping on everyone and everything.
Moscow Exile , August 25, 2017 at 12:28 pm
That's why Washington has Merkel by the balls -- metaphorically speaking, of course.

[Aug 26, 2017] Certainly Naftogas managers doing a lot to help themselves, aren't they?

Aug 26, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

August 24, 2017

marknesop , August 24, 2017 at 1:12 pm

Well, well; look at that – Naftogaz made a profit of 22.6 Billion hryvnia in 2016 , most of it from transit fees.

The same Naftogaz which plans to tack on an extra $5 Billion to its demands from Gazprom – already $12.3 Billion – for what it says was underpayment of transit fees between 2009 and 2016. The same Naftogaz that squeals what a reliable partner it is whenever there is mention of building a pipeline around Ukraine so Russia will not have to transit gas through it.

Certainly doing a lot to help themselves, aren't they?

et Al , August 24, 2017 at 3:49 pm
For 2016, its an odd 25 hryvnia to the dollar so their gained transit fees were a little below $1 billion.

[Aug 26, 2017] Lithuania has accepted the first batch of liquefied natural gas from the USA

Aug 26, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

moscowexile , August 21, 2017 at 9:17 am

The beginning of the end?

Литва помогает Америке покорить Европу
Литва приняла первую партию сжиженного природного газа из США

Lithuania helps America conquer Europe
Lithuania has accepted the first batch of liquefied natural gas from the USA

.... ... ...

The first consignment of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States has arrived at the port of Klaipeda. The Lithuanian authorities hope that the country will become a regional distribution centre (hub) for US gas. They also believe that supplies of overseas raw materials will help reduce gas prices in neighbouring countries and Lithuania itself.

Analysts do not consider Lithuania's gas policy rational and effective, noting that Russian pipeline gas is now much cheaper than LNG.

marknesop , August 21, 2017 at 11:10 am
There is nothing you can do to stop an ideologue who turns up his/her nose at cheaper local supply of a particular commodity because he/she dislikes the supplier, and elects to purchase more expensive goods from an alternate source. The fact is, Lithuania could become a hub for US LNG, and bring down gas prices for its customers so that they were eager to purchase it. Lithuania could accomplish this through the simple expedient of buying American gas at a high price – compared with Russian pipeline gas – and selling it at a lower price than Russia was willing to do. Of course, somebody would have to absorb the cost of the price difference, and that would be Lithuania. If Lithuania is willing to do that, as I said, she cannot be stopped from doing it by anything short of the poverty which will eventually result.

Knock yourself out, Grybauskaitė. If you were ordered to describe her policies in one word, 'irrational' would probably do quite well. Americans will be comforted to know there is more than one irrational president in the world.

[Aug 25, 2017] Oil consumption in Russia from 1995 to 2016 (in million metric tons)

get=

> > > > > >

[Aug 11, 2017] The Trump Presidency is effectively over. It ended on the day he signed the Sanctions Bill. A velvet junta has assumed control of the executive branch. Trump's family and advisors await conviction. The Generals are now in charge and will lead us into the next war sooner than later.

Aug 11, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

RenoDino | Aug 7, 2017 10:50:25 AM | 88

fast freddy | Aug 7, 2017 11:36:47 AM | 89

Sanctions, but US still buying billions of dollars worth (including baksheesh) of rocket engines and screwing around with international space station boondoggle (million dollar toilet seats, hammers and widgets). And more baksheesh.

Try to google search a fixed price on one Russian rocket engine.

Just Sayin' | Aug 7, 2017 11:39:59 AM | 90
This 'Pipelineistan' [Bullshit?] conspiracy: The war in Syria has never been about gas
Paul Cochrane
Wednesday 10 May 2017 10:57 UTC

The pipeline hypotheses do not stand up to the realities of how energy is transported through the Middle East in the 21st century

3. No Qatari offer to Damascus

The pipeline narrative, from 2013 onwards, also makes much mention of Damascus rebuffing an alleged Qatari offer in 2009 to build a pipeline. This part of the story hinges around statements by unnamed diplomats in a 2013 Agence France-Presse article about a meeting between Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia's Bandar bin Sultan.

Qatar's then-Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani (R) and First Lady Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al-Misned (L) welcome Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma at Doha airport in January 2010 (AFP)

The report says: "In 2009, Assad refused to sign an agreement with Qatar for an overland pipeline running from the Gulf to Europe via Syria to protect the interests of its Russian ally, which is Europe's top supplier of natural gas."

But Dargin says: "There are no credible sources that show that Qatar even approached Syria in 2009 and was rebuffed in the process. I am not saying it definitely did not occur, rather there is no evidence supporting this claim."

Syrian experts also support Dargin's rebuttal, highlighting the burgeoning economic and political ties between Doha and Damascus.

'An important aspect that we don't talk about is the Syrian government never said the Qataris were fighting for a pipeline' - Jihad Yazigi, Syria Report

Yassin-Kassab says: "The absurdity is that relations between the Assad regime and the Qataris were excellent until summer 2011. Assad and his wife and the Qatari royal couple were also being portrayed as personal friends."

Although Assad may have repeatedly criticized Qatar since late 2011 onwards for supporting "terrorists," he has never publicly stated that Qatari support for the rebels was over a future pipeline.

Jihad Yazigi, editor of economy website Syria Report, says: "An important aspect that we don't talk about is the Syrian government never said the Qataris were fighting for a pipeline; that is telling in itself, that Assad never mentioned it."


4. The Moscow-Tehran connection

Then there's the other part of the Pipelineistan puzzle – the Iran-Syria pipeline, also known as the Islamic Pipeline.

Yazigi explains: "The Islamic pipeline has been talked about for years. There were pre-contract memorandums of understanding, but until July 2011, there was no formal signing [between Syria and Iran]. You can't argue this is a serious reason to destroy the whole country. "

While the project was politically expedient, it ignored economic and energy realities. First, the project was estimated to cost $10 billion, but it was unclear who would foot the bill, particularly as Tehran was – and still is – under US and international sanctions, as is Syria, since 2011.

Second, Iran lacks the capabilities to export significant amounts of gas. Sanctions mean it cannot access the advanced US technology that would allow it to exploit gas from the South Pars field that borders Qatar.

dh | Aug 7, 2017 11:41:03 AM | 91
@71 James, there are many small contractors involved in Nordstream in several countries. The sanctions are designed to squeeze them out and make Nordstream impossible.

It's not unlike the strategy being used against NK. They are designed to make life even more difficult for ordinary people....perhaps drive them into China and cause China to attack NK.

Skip | Aug 7, 2017 12:04:55 PM | 93
@15

"Not me! Term limits mean nothing more than the elimination of the ability of the voters to assess candidates based on legislative track records. The result is that every two years the voters will have to choose representatives with no past history of legislation. Disaster."

Gag me with a spoon. This argument is so old and so worn thin. Statistically 95+% of these fools are reelected because the highly cerebral voters you refer to have elevators that almost never go to the top of the building.

Money, money money. That's what drives the engine of elections. Incumbents have it working for them in so many ways: PACs, corporate centers of influence; radio and teevee.

All of the alternatives you propose are red herrings. They are only workable in heaven, not here on Terra Firma.

Remember, all of that institutional memory brought about by all of the 'experienced' members of congress got us where we are today. And, it's gotten them a 10% approval rating.

karlof1 | Aug 7, 2017 12:16:45 PM | 94
Grieved @66 & 67--

Thanks for your reply and endorsement.

Something to consider when dealing with the Revolutionary time period is what part of the populous is considered "The People," as in "We The People"? And just how equal in reality were those people in 1776 when the phrase "All men are created equal" appeared?

This is of great importance when we look at the proportion of the populous that was allowed to have a stake in the process and compare that with the amount of time it took until a majority was finally deemed to have equal rights under the law--1920 within USA

Although it can be argued that full equality under the law is still lacking as Glenn Greenwald did to great affect in With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality . Two works providing info on this issue are The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States and People of Paradox: An Inquiry Concerning the Origins of American Civilization , although there are many others.

Is the United States federal government reformable? IMO, as currently constituted, no. A new document and associated institutions needs to be written and built, although some current institutions will have a place within the new construct.

Yes, I did write a Constitution 3.0 using Madisonian principles not long after the fiasco of the 2000 election to use as a classroom discussion tool. But to have any chance at making that reality, the Rule of Law must be reinstated within the Outlaw US Empire in order to bring the Deep State to Justice and thus its destruction.

Arioch | Aug 7, 2017 1:30:51 PM | 97
One jewish journalist (link was posted here few days ago) nicely pointed out these sanctions are the stupidest thing US could have possibly done. Not only it forges even closer Russia-China-Iran alliance, it also alienates the closest and strongest ally US have - the EU.

@18 - or the opposite. If Trump really is isolationists and if he wants USA isolate itself on the two Americas, then he has two options: make America turn its back on the world, or make the world turn its back on America. The first option he failed, DC regime is stronger than POUTS. Then - the second option.

Just Sayin' | Aug 7, 2017 2:56:49 PM | 99
Not only it forges even closer Russia-China-Iran alliance, it also alienates the closest and strongest ally US have - the EU.

Posted by: Arioch | Aug 7, 2017 1:30:51 PM | 96

What's wrong about that statement is that the EU nations are not US Allied states - they are US vassal states. A bit of a difference between those two: "allied state" and "vassal state"

[Aug 11, 2017] Russian gas pipelines to go ahead despite U.S. sanctions by Oksana Kobzeva and Alissa de Carbonnel

marknesop.wordpress.com

New U.S. sanctions will make it harder for Russia to build two gas export pipelines to Europe but the projects are unlikely to be stopped.

U.S. President Donald Trump has reluctantly signed into law further sanctions on Russia but some of the measures are discretionary and most White House watchers believe he will not take action against Russia's energy infrastructure.

This would allow Gazprom's two big pipeline projects to go ahead, although at a higher price and with some delays.

... ... ...

Gazprom warned investors last month that the sanctions "may result in delays, or otherwise impair or prevent the completion of the projects by the group."

With all that in mind, the Russian gas giant is taking steps to reduce the impact of sanctions.

It has accelerated pipe-laying by Swiss contractor Allseas Group under the Black Sea for TurkStream - even though there is no final agreement on where the pipeline will make landfall in Turkey. It is also hurriedly building a second TurkStream line to export gas to Europe.

"The construction of the second line is underway just in case the sanctions hit," a senior Gazprom source told Reuters.

A spokesman for Allseas said 100 km of the 900-km first line have been built since June 23 and preparatory work is underway for the second line.

THE UKRAINIAN CONNECTION

The biggest cost of any delays to the new lines could come from increased transit fees paid to Ukraine, the route by which Russian gas has traditionally reached Europe. Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream bypass Ukraine, but if they are brought into use late, Gazprom will have to continue using the Ukrainian route and may have to pay more for the privilege.

The European Union, fearing sanctions will hurt oil and gas projects on which it depends, said it was ready to retaliate unless it obtained U.S. guarantees that European firms would not be targeted.

Five Western firms that have invested in Nord Stream 2 - Wintershall (BASFn.DE) and Uniper (UN01.DE) of Germany, Austria's OMV (OMVV.VI), Anglo-Dutch Shell (RDSa.L), and France's Engie (ENGIE.PA) - say it is too early to judge the impact of sanctions.

For now, they are standing by their pledge of up to 950 million euros ($1.13 billion) each to finance the 1,225 km (760 mile) Nord Stream 2.

... ... ...

RISK PREMIUM

The sanctions law is however expected to hamper Gazprom's efforts to raise money. "The price of any project automatically increases," said Tatiana Mitrova, director of the Skolkovo Energy Center.

... ... ...

[Aug 09, 2017] When Sadr arrived in Jeddah, an anonymous Twitter user known as Mujtahid -- noted for his regular leaking of alleged developments within the secretive House of Saud -- tweeted that the warm welcoming of Sadr and prior to him al-Araji, offering thousands of [hajj] visas to PMU [Popular Mobilization Units], celebrating the [liberation] of Mosul, are all attempts to get closer to Iran so that they can convince the Houthis to have mercy on bin Salman.

Aug 09, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

Posted by: Yul | Aug 4, 2017 7:58:45 PM | 41

Dr Brenner,

Don't know whether you've have seen this article and the navettes of various Iraqi Shi'a authorities to Riyadh, in particular Muqtada's visit this week:

When Sadr arrived in Jeddah, an anonymous Twitter user known as Mujtahid -- noted for his regular leaking of alleged developments within the secretive House of Saud -- tweeted that the warm welcoming of Sadr "and prior to him al-Araji, offering thousands of [hajj] visas to PMU [Popular Mobilization Units], celebrating the [liberation] of Mosul, are all attempts to get closer to Iran so that they can convince the Houthis to have mercy on bin Salman." Thamer al-Sabhan in a July 31 tweet attacked "[Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini's version of Shiism" and praised what Sabhan called "genuine Shiism." Less than 24 hours later, however, that tweet was removed. It is still unclear whether Sadr is really attempting to mediate between Tehran and Riyadh. However, a senior Iranian official who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity expressed doubt that such an endeavor would succeed in ending the rivalry between the two regional powers.

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/08/iraq-sadr-bin-salman-meeting-saudi-iran-rapprochement.html

Dr Brenner,

Don't know whether you've have seen this article and the navettes of various Iraqi Shi'a authorities to Riyadh, in particular Muqtada's visit this week:

When Sadr arrived in Jeddah, an anonymous Twitter user known as Mujtahid -- noted for his regular leaking of alleged developments within the secretive House of Saud -- tweeted that the warm welcoming of Sadr "and prior to him al-Araji, offering thousands of [hajj] visas to PMU [Popular Mobilization Units], celebrating the [liberation] of Mosul, are all attempts to get closer to Iran so that they can convince the Houthis to have mercy on bin Salman." Thamer al-Sabhan in a July 31 tweet attacked "[Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini's version of Shiism" and praised what Sabhan called "genuine Shiism." Less than 24 hours later, however, that tweet was removed. It is still unclear whether Sadr is really attempting to mediate between Tehran and Riyadh. However, a senior Iranian official who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity expressed doubt that such an endeavor would succeed in ending the rivalry between the two regional powers.

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/08/iraq-sadr-bin-salman-meeting-saudi-iran-rapprochement.html

[Aug 09, 2017] Liberating Europe from Russian Gas

Notable quotes:
"... The sanctions bill has been promoted as one that appropriately penalizes Russia for its international misbehavior. The always-cited examples being the invasion of Georgia in 2008 and the (alleged) invasion of Ukraine in 2014. (As though these in any way rival in their impact and ramifications of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, based on lies, in 2003, or the U.S./NATO-led assault on Libya sold in the UN Security Council as a "humanitarian" intervention supported by Russia, that turned out to be a grotesque regime change operation culminating with Hillary Clinton's public orgasm following Muammar Gadaffi's sodomy-murder. "We came, we saw, he died!") ..."
"... Russia is always depicted in the corporate media as an "adversary." It acts, we are told ad nauseam, against U.S. "interests" around the world. Its involvement in Syria is (to support the survival of the secular modern Syrian state against the most savage opponents imaginable) is somehow objectionable (whereas U.S. bombing of Syria, condemned by Damascus as a violation of Syrian sovereignty and clearly in violation of international law, is treated as a matter of course). Its role in the bombing of Aleppo, resulting in the reconquest of the city from al-Nusra and its allies, was depicted by the U.S. media as a bad thing. Meanwhile U.S. bombing of Mosul, to retake that city from ISIL, is treated as heroic, however many thousands perish in "collateral damage." Anyway CNN won't cover it and has fewer reporters on the ground there than RT does. ..."
"... Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev matter-of-factly tweeted: "The Trump administration has shown its total weakness by handing over executive power to Congress in the most humiliating way." But where will this power lead? ..."
Aug 09, 2017 | www.counterpunch.org

But U.S. policy now, under the Trump administration, is to promote U.S. energy exports to Europe to replace Russian ones. It is both old-fashioned Cold War Russophobia and old-fashioned inter-capitalist, inter-imperialist contention.

The sanctions bill has been promoted as one that appropriately penalizes Russia for its international misbehavior. The always-cited examples being the invasion of Georgia in 2008 and the (alleged) invasion of Ukraine in 2014. (As though these in any way rival in their impact and ramifications of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, based on lies, in 2003, or the U.S./NATO-led assault on Libya sold in the UN Security Council as a "humanitarian" intervention supported by Russia, that turned out to be a grotesque regime change operation culminating with Hillary Clinton's public orgasm following Muammar Gadaffi's sodomy-murder. "We came, we saw, he died!")

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Fgcd1ghag5Y?feature=oembed

Hillary Clinton on Gaddafi: We came, we saw, he died

Russia is always depicted in the corporate media as an "adversary." It acts, we are told ad nauseam, against U.S. "interests" around the world. Its involvement in Syria is (to support the survival of the secular modern Syrian state against the most savage opponents imaginable) is somehow objectionable (whereas U.S. bombing of Syria, condemned by Damascus as a violation of Syrian sovereignty and clearly in violation of international law, is treated as a matter of course). Its role in the bombing of Aleppo, resulting in the reconquest of the city from al-Nusra and its allies, was depicted by the U.S. media as a bad thing. Meanwhile U.S. bombing of Mosul, to retake that city from ISIL, is treated as heroic, however many thousands perish in "collateral damage." Anyway CNN won't cover it and has fewer reporters on the ground there than RT does.

Russia is depicted as "provocative" when it mobilizes military forces within its own territory (and Belarus), in response to massive NATO exercises involving 31,000 troops in Poland last June that the German foreign minister criticized as "warmongering."

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev matter-of-factly tweeted: "The Trump administration has shown its total weakness by handing over executive power to Congress in the most humiliating way." But where will this power lead?

The concept, as articulated by Sen. John McCain and Sen. John Hoeven in a 2014 Wall Street Journal op-ed, is to "liberate our allies from Russia's stranglehold on the European natural-gas market." But as the Washington Post has observed, "The problem is that Europeans don't necessarily want to be liberated. Russian gas is much cheaper than American LNG, and could become even cheaper to undercut the United States if it entered the European market. American LNG suppliers prioritize their own profits over America's strategic advantage anyway, and are likely to want to target more lucrative markets than Europe, such as Japan. Finally, the Russian gas supply is likely to be more reliable than the United States', since it involves predictable long-term contracts, whereas U.S. production capacity rises and falls, as it becomes cheaper and more expensive to extract American unconventional hydrocarbons."

The McCain-Hoeven piece was of course written before there was any talk about Russian "election meddling." But that issue was used to justify the sanctions bill. That, plus miscellaneous Russian actions, basically in response to U.S. actions (as in Ukraine, where!as everyone should know!Hillary Clinton's crony Victoria Newland helped organize a putsch in February 2014, designed to pull Ukraine into NATO, although that effort has failed and anyway lacks German support).

The U.S. at this point (under Trump) is taking actions towards Russia that recall those of the Truman administration. The warm, fuzzy (and miserable, abjectly weak) Russia of the 1990s under Yeltsin is now a reviving world power within an emerging Eurasian trade system. The relationship between Russia and China will stay strong even if the U.S. takes measures to sabotage trade relations between Russia and Europe.

Meanwhile, the sanctions law has produced general European outrage. This is not the anti-Trump outrage that accompanied his withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. It is outrage at the U.S. legislature for its arrogance in demanding Europe shoot itself in the foot, to show Washington deference. In other words, the entirety of the divided, troubled U.S. polity is seen as a problem. This is as a new Pew Research Center report showing that only 49% of the world's people now hold a positive view of the U.S.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern have publicly condemned the law, which could prevent them from benefiting from the planned Nord Stream 2 pipeline, declaring: "we cannot agree with threats of illegal extraterritorial sanctions against European companies which take part in the development of European energy supply." Brigitte Zypries, head of Germany's Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, says the new sanctions are "against international law, plain and simple Americans cannot punish German companies because they [do business] in another country." The foreign ministers of Germany, France, Austria, Italy and Spain have protested. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, said the bill could have "unintended unilateral effects" on the EU's energy security, adding, "America first cannot mean that Europe's interests come last."

This is not just a provocation of Russia, but of the whole world. It's leveled by a bipartisan effort, and general (although insane) consensus that Russia is trying to revive the Soviet empire, is constantly interfering in foreign countries' elections, and represents an "existential" threat to the U.S. and its freedoms, etc. (Because!reputable media talking heads opine routinely!Putin hates freedom and wants to oppose it, by electoral interference in Germany, France, Italy, etc.)

U.S. politicians!many of whom who do not believe in global warming or evolution, and cannot find Syria or Ukraine on the map!have boldly gone where no one has gone before: to risk a trade war with traditional allies, to force them to more firmly embrace the principle of U.S. hegemony. This when the U.S. GDP has dropped below that of the EU, and U.S. clout and credibility in the world!in large part due to global revulsion at the results of U.S. regime-change wars!is at low ebb.

Medvedev predicts that "relations between Russia and the United States are going to be extremely tense regardless of Congress' makeup and regardless of who is president. Lengthy arguments in international bodies and courts are ahead, as well as rising international tensions and refusal to settle major international issues." No bromance here.

Meanwhile Sen. Lindsey Graham!an extreme reactionary and warmonger now lionized my the mainstream media as some sort of "moderate" and adult in the room!informs NBC's Today Show that reports that "there is no military option" on North Korea are "just false."

"There is a military option: to destroy North Korea's nuclear program and North Korea itself. He's not going to allow -- President Trump -- the ability of this madman [Kim Jong Un] to have a missile that could hit America. If there's going to be a war to stop him, it will be over there. If thousands die, they're going to die over there. They're not going to die over here -- and he's told me that to my face."

[Jul 30, 2017] Are the Latest Russia Sanctions Really About Forcing US LNG on Europe?

Notable quotes:
"... Of course they are; and it's so bloody transparent that nobody is fooled. Please check the link below: http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/eu-ready-retaliate-if-us-imposes-new-russia-sanctions/ri20467 ..."
"... The U.S. is waging full scale war against Russia; economic sanctions are war and Japan attacked Pearl Harbour for almost identical sanctions on oil and energy imports. Vladimir Putin is the Cool Hand Luke of Russia; let hope the outcome is not like the movie. The E.U. seems to have had a recent spinal transplant; let's just see how it plays out ..."
"... The Western, eastern stuff is irrelevant. Russia isn't the aggressor in the situation. Putin will enjoy a population much more willing to stand against U.S. aggression which is largely dependent on an ignorant U.S. population. ..."
"... Merkel will be under pressure as these sanctions are simply a tax on EU citizens and corporations to support American corporate profits without providing better products. Given the EU political structure and the lack of a "cool" President, I suspect the next Congressional delegation will be shocked to find they aren't well received. ..."
"... I personally doubt that the Blob/US financial interests are 'jealous' of them -- they just think that Russia, like other countries, should kowtow to them, and allow them to buy whatever part of the Russian society and economy and land they like. ..."
"... I had thought of it the other way around: that the insistence on unprofitable fracking was to support America as a world power. Got to have some way to bribe Europe away from the Russians. Is there actually enough gas to do that? I know there's quite a bit. ..."
"... The Dragon in the Sea ..."
Jul 26, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Anti Schmoo , July 26, 2017 at 5:17 am

Are the Latest Russia Sanctions Really About Forcing US LNG on Europe?

Of course they are; and it's so bloody transparent that nobody is fooled. Please check the link below: http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/eu-ready-retaliate-if-us-imposes-new-russia-sanctions/ri20467

Anti Schmoo , July 26, 2017 at 5:30 am

The U.S. is waging full scale war against Russia; economic sanctions are war and Japan attacked Pearl Harbour for almost identical sanctions on oil and energy imports. Vladimir Putin is the Cool Hand Luke of Russia; let hope the outcome is not like the movie. The E.U. seems to have had a recent spinal transplant; let's just see how it plays out

Anti Schmoo , July 26, 2017 at 5:34 am

I dare say, Russia is more self sufficient than the U.S. and almost every other country on the planet. Do the research; it's very enlightening.
The U.S. is a very jealous hegemon and can't bear this reality

Foppe , July 26, 2017 at 6:31 am

It's also got half the population, and a far less diversified economy (fwtw), so it's not exactly a apples to apples comparison.

Anti Schmoo , July 26, 2017 at 8:43 am

Have you ever thought to question your comparitive references? Most views of Russia are western-centric in the extreme. Russia is not western or European in any sense of that reality; Russia is a very different culture/s and sees things drastically different than the western-centric POV. Just sayin

NotTimothyGeithner , July 26, 2017 at 9:14 am

The Western, eastern stuff is irrelevant. Russia isn't the aggressor in the situation. Putin will enjoy a population much more willing to stand against U.S. aggression which is largely dependent on an ignorant U.S. population.

Merkel will be under pressure as these sanctions are simply a tax on EU citizens and corporations to support American corporate profits without providing better products. Given the EU political structure and the lack of a "cool" President, I suspect the next Congressional delegation will be shocked to find they aren't well received.

Foppe , July 26, 2017 at 10:38 am

I'm confused. Who was it who brought up "Russia is more self-sufficient than the US and almost every other country on the planet? That implies that you feel self-sufficiency (with respect to certain metrics) is something that one should value. Let's say other people do not share that meta value: does that then mean they are wrong?

I personally doubt that the Blob/US financial interests are 'jealous' of them -- they just think that Russia, like other countries, should kowtow to them, and allow them to buy whatever part of the Russian society and economy and land they like.

Mel , July 26, 2017 at 10:08 am

I had thought of it the other way around: that the insistence on unprofitable fracking was to support America as a world power. Got to have some way to bribe Europe away from the Russians. Is there actually enough gas to do that? I know there's quite a bit.

Damson , July 27, 2017 at 1:13 am

Yes indeed.

It's looking like quite the little diplomatic spat between the EU and Capitol Hill.

Here's the Russian envoy to the EU on talks to ban funding by EU banks for US business, if the US law is declared invalid in the EU :
http://tass.com/politics/957927

Note the bill bans not just business with Russians in Europe, but also Eurasia.

OBOR is clearly a target too.

So are the Chinese going to pipe up?

For this is nothing less than gloves – off imperialism .

timbers , July 26, 2017 at 6:38 am

Anyone know if it's possible the German's will act w/o the EU? In other words, unilaterally?

I'm asking because the article says EU may not be the "required" unanimous in responding to the U.S. sanctions & LNG so there may not be an official EU retaliation (though it seems there was much stronger opposition to the EU imposing Russian sanctions in 2014 in the first place but supposedly that was a "unanimous" decision).

Will Germany be a total puppet to the U.S.? Or might it start to move towards Russia which seems to be in Germany's business interest?

Ignacio , July 26, 2017 at 7:52 am

Germany wants to ensure stable gas supply for as long as possible. A pipeline thas goes through the sea and does not depend on third countries that migth disconnect the pipeline (like Ukrania) allows for a durable contract. So the US is not only intefering with russian interests but with german ones. I don't think Germany considers US shale LNG supply a robust enough alternative competitive in price and duration with russian gas. My guess is that in this case, Germany won't be a total puppet.

No spine no pain , July 26, 2017 at 9:05 am

Anti Schmoo put it very well "The E.U. seems to have had a recent spinal transplant"

EU has been following every global US initiative enthusiastically even though it only hurts Europeans: wars and invasions, TTIP, TiSA, CETA etc.

On top of being emasculated and spineless with regards to national and continental interests the current leaders of EU are neoliberals so they don't care about a new 'market solution' for gas. Will subsidize the higher prices for companies while the citizens pay the price.

Mel , July 26, 2017 at 11:30 am

:) q.v. Frank Herbert's very old novel The Dragon in the Sea (aka Under Pressure .) Being by Frank Herbert, it's about psychology, but it's also about petroleum pirating by submarine. Yeah, I guess the price per barrel must have been pretty high.

Harry , July 26, 2017 at 7:28 pm

The pipelines that go under the sea have lower capacities. They work to reduce the impact of ukrainians et al blackmailing gas supplies. They do not eliminate the need to route gas overland.

ZeWorldIsMine , July 26, 2017 at 6:52 am

Sadly, Sigmar Gabriel's word means nothing.

He's an opportunitist and may advocate something one day and oppose it the next day.
He is absolutely not trustworthy. A total pushover.
And I wouldn't expect much from the rest of the german government, too.

The german media could pick it up and put pressure on politicians.
But due to the pathetic state the germain mainstream media are in (with exceptions),
I expect they'll just stop bringing up this issue and let people forget about it.

Maybe other european countries will be more resistant, maybe

Clive , July 26, 2017 at 7:25 am

Plus Japan -- a big LNG importer historically as it has no conventional energy sources of its own -- is going to lessen its LNG demand as the nuclear restart gathers pace. Whatever you might think of the safety aspects, Japan has 50+gW of embedded nuclear generating capacity with a residual economic life of 20+ years on average. It is simply inconceivable that this plant, much of which, unlike Fukushima which was end-of-life, is mid-life and has decades of viable reactor runtimes available, will be mothballed and decommissioned without generating another kW of power ever again.

The LNG glut will only continue and probably get noticeably worse once all, or at least the vast majority, of Japanese reactors are brought back on line, which will be 5 years from now at the outer limit. Cutting off Russian gas into Europe (and the rest of the world) will be a big plus for the US. LNG liquefaction plant is a massive capital outlay, has big fixed costs and is highly operationally geared, so even small reductions below peak output have a big hit on plant profitability. It is those "wheels" the US plant operators will want to keep turning. Conversely, the regasification plants (based in EU countries) don't need to operate flat out, they're designed to have peaks and troughs as LNG consignments come in and get processed, then sit around for a bit waiting for the next one. Which, again, is why the US is bothered about restricting Russian supply, the EU not so much.

rjs , July 26, 2017 at 8:24 am

there is no surplus US LNG to be forced on Europe, it's a myth we are still importing more natural gas from Canada than we are exporting to Mexico and liquifying for export moreover, our own natural gas production has been falling year over year for 15 months straight i wrote about exactly this situation two weeks ago:
http://www.economicpopulist.org/content/great-us-natural-gas-exports-myth-6112
all the data is included. you can repost it if you want.
we are contracting to sell US natural gas at below the cost of US production, and it's gonna come back and bite US natgas users big time when a shortage develops here..

ambrit , July 26, 2017 at 8:39 am

IS natgas users would be anyone who uses American electricity, right? Another 'regressive' tax on the way. Really, this is not New Cold War oriented, but Class War materiel.
Time for work.

rjs , July 26, 2017 at 10:10 am

there's been a gradual shift back to coal for generating over the past half year or so whether that's because of price or because the utilities see what's coming i couldn't tell you..

Yves Smith Post author , July 26, 2017 at 5:43 pm

See the comments above, the US is flaring a ton of gas now due to supposedly to lack of delivery mechanisms.

rjs , July 26, 2017 at 6:24 pm

maybe i'm projecting too much, but i see us heading down the same path that Australia took


How energy-rich Australia exported its way into an energy crisis
- Australia exported 62% of its gas production last year, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy. Yet its policy makers didn't ensure enough gas would remain at home. As exports increased from new LNG facilities in eastern Australia, some state governments let aging coal plants close and accelerated a push toward renewable energy for environmental concerns. That left the regions more reliant on gas for power, especially when intermittent sources such as wind and solar weren't sufficient. Shortages drove domestic gas prices earlier this year in some markets in eastern Australia to as high as $17 per million British thermal units for smaller gas users such as manufacturers. On the spot market, gas prices have gone from below $1 in 2014 to roughly $7 today .. In March, Australia's largest aluminum smelter cut production and laid off workers because it said it couldn't secure enough cheap energy.

the problem is that we are are contracting to export natural gas at today's low prices, which wont pay for tomorrow's production..

Carolinian , July 26, 2017 at 8:36 am

Perhaps the most interesting and depressing thing is that 419 to 3 vote. Who were these heroes who dared to defy the Blob?

Clearly defeating Hillary was not enough. TPTB will have their war with Russia–cold or hot–or bust.

NotTimothyGeithner , July 26, 2017 at 9:35 am

The U.S. much like Team Blue hid behind our "cool" President and 9/11 for so long, no one knows how to act. This is a trade war where we picked a fight with our most loyal vassals on behalf of one industry which needs to be replaced anyway. Do you remember Hollande? He joined with Obama against "OMG Russia." Macron's honey moon is over.

Vatch , July 26, 2017 at 10:00 am

http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2017/roll413.xml

The 3 no voters were Justin Amash of Michigan, John Duncan of Tennessee, and Thomas Massie of Kentucky. All are Republicans.

Carolinian , July 26, 2017 at 11:20 am

Thanks.

p7b , July 26, 2017 at 9:27 am

One aspect of the US natgas pipeline situation !

Due to resignations early in the Trump administration, and refusal of the Senate to approve new FERC nominees, the FERC, whose approval is needed for building interstate energy transport infrastructure, now lacks a quorum (having only 1 of the minimum 3 members out of 5 total). A number of pipeline projects originating in marcellus were approved around end of 2016 prior to the resignations, and are due to come on line in 2018, but many dozens more are now awaiting permitting -- both for domestic use and to transport to LNG export, as the piece above states.

The other interesting thing is that in the past, the explicit strategy of the US was to use domestic natgas domestically, but no longer, it seems.

Pipelines would raise prices at the wellhead and lower prices elsewhere in the country. If the lack of approval goes on for a few more years, it may have an impact on: the battle between natgas and wind for the medium-term dominance of newly added utility scale electric generation in the US, and the timing of how fast we can retire coal electric.

Lastly, besides Russia, Qatar is also a major natgas exporter to Europe, so they'll get their gas either way, they'll just pay more. A points of reference there -- I belive Germany is currently using coal as its main domestic baseload electric fuel – as prices were relatively high until recently, they're using NG for home heating only. Now everyone needs to retire coal for obvious reasons.

JohnnyGL , July 26, 2017 at 10:28 am

Jamming up FERC shouldn't be underestimated. They've got a huge amount of discretionary authority to blast through state and local laws and regulations at will. It's amazing how the oil/gas industry gets 1-stop shopping for all it's regulatory requirements.

oh , July 26, 2017 at 10:15 am

It's sickening to see how much power the Petroleum companies have over Congress. Bribes work well in our country. We need a wholesale re-haul of CON gress.

TheCatSaid , July 26, 2017 at 10:19 am

Regarding possible EU development of a spine, a recent George Webb video from just about 3 days ago said he's been told by some of his IC sources that Germany has been printing DMs on the quiet. I take this with a pinch of salt but it's intriguing nonetheless. If true, Germany must also be looking at the IT issue as well.

yan , July 26, 2017 at 11:14 am

EU is still threatening to cancel Poland voting rights for 1 year, even after the President vetoed the legislation regarding judiciary reform (which was to my understanding the main bone, albeit the country is keen on going full Adolph). Maybe it has something to do with this?

vidimi , July 26, 2017 at 11:25 am

i thought the president signed the bill despite saying he would veto it?

vidimi , July 26, 2017 at 11:23 am

thanks for this article, it's really a remarkable powerplay. the stakes are so high that it's unfathomable that it doesn't backfire spectacularly. this looks like an exercise in hubris that future historians will be long discussing.

more than forcing the EU to use american LNG, it is an attempt to force the EU to back american efforts to replace assad in syria. remember, syria is what stands in the way between bahraini/saudi gas and oil pipelines to europe.

the US is already at war against russia, they just haven't yet started shooting at each other. but also, any chinese silk road to europe will have to use russian assets and infrastructure, so this, potentially, affects them, too.

dcblogger , July 26, 2017 at 2:46 pm

Trump Is Being Moved Aside So That Conflict with Russia Can Proceed
http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2017/07/26/trump-moved-aside-conflict-russia-can-proceed/

Rosario , July 26, 2017 at 3:54 pm

All stupidity with the Russia hysteria aside this may be all the faster at forcing a move to renewables in the US. NG is the bounciest of all carbon based fuels WRT price. Once they start pumping US NG into more foreign markets the price will climb, which will squeeze utilities that have moved en mass into NG based generation and prove that renewables are even more cost effective. Petty politics may end up having a silver lining 5 years down the road, and at this point I am open to any route to renewables, even the sloppiest, unintentional ones.

Synapsid , July 26, 2017 at 6:43 pm

Rosario,

If exporting US NG causes its price to rise domestically, utilities that had been using coal can shift back to it. That happened recently.

Rosario , July 26, 2017 at 7:43 pm

Sure, but the ball is in another (higher) cup as the cost graphs go. I suspect it is going to get increasingly difficult to transition back and forth with the lowering costs of renewables. Also, coal is not getting any cheaper to extract and it definitely hasn't reduced its externalities. We'll see, big utilities move in herds and it takes years to make a full transition. They may flood back to coal, and build new plants (I doubt it), but they will eventually get burnt and have to swing back again. In the absence of purposeful national level policy (what I prefer) this is the only way the market based approach will turn away from fossil fuels.

Olaf Lukk , July 26, 2017 at 4:02 pm

"Instruments of political sanctions should not be connected with economic interests"?

This echoes the rationalizations of Wall Street when they crashed the economy in '08. Let's not let politics interfere with the right to make money?

The sanctions against Russia were put in place in response to its annexation of Crimea and its support of insurrection in Eastern Ukraine. They have been extended, and expanded, in response to Russian meddling in the recent presidential election. To what extent their cyber warfare had an effect is debatable, but Trump's stonewalling on the issue practically guaranteed the lopsided vote on the latest sanctions.

The LNG issue has some valid points, but it ignores an issue which I have not seen addressed on Naked Capitalism: Just how much is Trump- and those in his administration (infested with alumni of the vampire squid)- beholden to Putin and his fellow oligarchs?

Trump appears to be the Pied Piper of Putin Patsies. I can't help but wonder why.

Yves Smith Post author , July 26, 2017 at 5:51 pm

Crimea was not "annexed". The US destabilized Ukraine. The government in Kiev came in as a result of a coup even thought elections were scheduled for a mere six weeks later and Yanukovich would clearly have been voted out. The new government tore up the current constitution and went through no legal process whatsoever to do that. That is not the behavior of a legitimate government.

Even though neo-Nazis are a very small percentage of the voters, they got 15% of government positions. The head of the defense department gave a speech in which he encouraged ethnic cleansing of Ukrainians of Russian origin, saying that any soldiers who removed them could keep their property.

Crimea petitioned to join Russia after a referendum that approved of that move by a large margin. The US used precisely the same mechanism with Kosovo. Are you about to call that an annexation?

We have repeatedly discussed how the idea that Russia has influence over Trump is nonsense.

Better trolls, please.

GeorgW , July 26, 2017 at 8:26 pm

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/taibbi-what-does-russiagate-look-like-to-russians-w493462# -Amazed, that you never linked this

Yves Smith Post author , July 27, 2017 at 12:33 am

I'm not omniscient and I've been unable to read for more than a week due to an eye injury, as Lambert told readers.

Lambert Strether , July 27, 2017 at 12:47 am

Did you suggest it at the time? The newsflow is a gusher right now. It's simply not possible to give notice to everything. So do feel free to stifle your amazement.

Adding, it is a very good story (although I'm not a Russia hand). So readers may enjoy it even at this late date which was, I take it, the real point of your comment.

TheCatSaid , July 26, 2017 at 9:48 pm

Plus the assertion of Russian "meddling" in the 2016 election was never proven–it was only asserted and repeated ad nauseum. Recent investigations have shown that in fact the DNC and Podesta emails were insider leaks, they were not outsider hacks. The technical analysis showed evidence that Russian "footprints" had been specifically inserted to cause Russia to be blamed.

In contrast the US has a well-established track record of meddling in other countries elections and setting up regime change in various ways. Ukraine is one example, as Yves described. There are many others, think of the US-sponsored coups in Latin America. They seem to be trying to pull off another coup in Venezuela since their 2002 attempt didn't work out. And Obama didn't hesitate to publicly endorse Macron just a couple days before the French election.

jo6pac , July 26, 2017 at 10:11 pm

Thank You, Thank You

Lambert Strether , July 27, 2017 at 12:52 am

> the Pied Piper

Highly unfortunate, then, that the Clinton campaign maneuvered to have Trump as their opponent, using just that phrase ("Pied Piper") .

clarky90 , July 26, 2017 at 9:16 pm

"the latest US sanctions against Russia, which passed the House today by a 419-3 margin ".

and

"Republicans and Democrats agreed almost unanimously, by 97 votes to 2 , to impose new sanctions on Russia in the Senate on Wednesday"

I have been a member of many organizations, and do not recall seeing this kind of "unanimity" when voting on significant and controversial resolutions. Clearly, a majority of US Americans want peace, particularly with Russia (a Christian democracy). How and why did the People's Representatives/Senators find the "courage" to vote against the People's wishes??? Hmmmmmmmm?

To put the vote into a context, 77 years ago; on

" ..July 14–15, 1940 – Rigged elections held in Latvia and the other Baltic states. Only one pre-approved list of candidates was allowed for elections for the "People's Parliament". The ballots held following instructions: "Only the list of the Latvian Working People's Bloc must be deposited in the ballot box. The ballot must be deposited without any changes." The alleged voter activity index was 97.6% . Most notably, the complete election results were published in Moscow 12 hours before the election closed. Soviet electoral documents found later substantiated that the results were completely fabricated. Tribunals were set up to punish "traitors to the people." those who had fallen short of the "political duty" of voting Latvia into the USSR. Those who failed to have their passports stamped for so voting were allowed to be shot in the back of the head.

July 21, 1940 – The fraudulently installed Saeima meets for the first time. It has only one piece of business!a petition to join the Soviet Union. (The consideration of such an action was denied throughout the election.) The petition carried unanimously. .."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_occupation_of_Latvia_in_1940

Is the Neo-NKVD whipping the Senate and USA House members into voting in the "correct" way?

It is the nearly 100% vote that bothers me- Not what I would expect in a free and open minded democracy.

Olaf Lukk , July 29, 2017 at 4:03 am

So the US congress voted almost unanimously to impose sanctions because they were worried that otherwise, they would be shot in the back of the head?

Makes perfect sense to me!

Mark W. , July 27, 2017 at 1:10 am

Read Petrodollar Warfare and The Hidden Hand of American Hegemony for a start and a lot of this will become more clear. The Iraq war, the U.S. instigated coup in Ukraine, U.S. backed attempt at regime change in Syria and the demonization of Russia all concern oil supplies and who will be allowed to supply what to whom, and more importantly in what currency such sales will be denominated. All of this stuff is about trying to maintain the dollar's reserve currency status. Isn't this becoming clear by now. Americans are still trying to understand why they invaded Iraq. Was it WMDs, Al Qaeda, to bring freedom and democracy to the towel heads? Hussein decided in 2000 that Iraqi oil sales would be denominated in Euros, three years later he was conveniently dead.

Yves Smith Post author , July 27, 2017 at 3:09 am

While I agree that the US has hegemonic aspirations, the petrodollar thesis is all wet.

Since the 1600s at least, countries have pursued mercantilist policies. That means first of all that they like running trade surpluses. That allows them to have more jobs than their own economies would support, keeping their citizens happy. They can also be net savers without having a drag on the domestic economy.

But who will be the chump that exports jobs and has crappy growth to accommodate the mercantlists? The US has signed up for that role, in large measure because the US cares more about the 1%, the 0.1%, and the interest of US multinationals than its citizens.

As long as everyone else wants to run trade surpluses and we are the only big player willing to run sustained trade deficits, the dollar will remain the reserve currency. China has absolutely zero interest in running trade deficits despite pining after the cachet of having the reserve currency. The Eurozone maybe could have been a contender, but not with Germany being fiercely mercantlist and Germany's insistence on not rebalancing within the Eurozone creating perceived breakup risk.

mark , July 27, 2017 at 3:19 am

@Yves
In order to answer your question to German language readers in the article.
There are several differences this time compared to previous instances of perhaps controversial US-policy in Europe.
First of all the official positions of the German and Austrian government as well as the EU-Commission are in harsh opposition to the bill while previously only opposition politicians or fringe business interests voiced negative opinions.
Secondly the issue has been spread around in the relevant German business press a great deal, yesterday alone about a dozen news agency reports were published, all with pretty much the same tone and content. It has also been picked up by the op-ed pages in the papers today. This is in stark contrast to previous instances like a leader from Die Linke blaming the refugee crisis on US wars in 2015, Nato expansion to the east and troop build up in the Baltic or the planned upgrade of US nuclear weapons stationed in Germany. All three topics are out of mainstream discussion and anyone bringing up a negative opinion, like the mentioned politician from Die Linke, is ridiculed.
Thirdly while the EU needs the approval of all members to establish sanctions it could do a great deal to prosecute a trade war via executive decisions by the EU-Commission alone. While there has been no official indication how the threatened retaliation is going to look like several simple measures come to mind. For instance the EU could suspend the EU-US privacy shield agreement thereby increasing the cost of doing business in the EU for US companies by a significant amount, it would also be likely that cartell/market dominance investigations might result in harsher fines for US companies and more restricted mergers, something which has been brought up by EU officials sometime ago is to require all foreign or only US banking and maybe other financial institutions to be seperate concerns with full capitalisation and no dependencies on the US-holdings.

To summarise: it looks like a significant amount of the German "business community" is not amused and views the bill as a direct attack on its interests and tries to use their influence with the goverment against it. This raises the likelihood of something more than mere talk to above 0%. In any case the image of the US has taken another hit, this time with a group of people with mostly very positive opinions about close US-German relations.

Yves Smith Post author , July 27, 2017 at 5:51 am

This is VERY helpful. Thanks so much!

Damson , July 27, 2017 at 5:04 pm

Of course, the gas suppliers won't necessarily be in US – others plan to benefit from the Russian sanctions :

http://m.dw.com/en/eu-to-cut-gas-dependency-on-russia-with-israel-pipeline/a-38269274

What do people think the Syria carve – up is really about?

vidimi , July 26, 2017 at 11:23 am

thanks for this article, it's really a remarkable powerplay. the stakes are so high that it's unfathomable that it doesn't backfire spectacularly. this looks like an exercise in hubris that future historians will be long discussing.

more than forcing the EU to use american LNG, it is an attempt to force the EU to back american efforts to replace assad in syria. remember, syria is what stands in the way between bahraini/saudi gas and oil pipelines to europe.

the US is already at war against russia, they just haven't yet started shooting at each other. but also, any chinese silk road to europe will have to use russian assets and infrastructure, so this, potentially, affects them, too.

dcblogger , July 26, 2017 at 2:46 pm

Trump Is Being Moved Aside So That Conflict with Russia Can Proceed
http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2017/07/26/trump-moved-aside-conflict-russia-can-proceed/

Rosario , July 26, 2017 at 3:54 pm

All stupidity with the Russia hysteria aside this may be all the faster at forcing a move to renewables in the US. NG is the bounciest of all carbon based fuels WRT price. Once they start pumping US NG into more foreign markets the price will climb, which will squeeze utilities that have moved en mass into NG based generation and prove that renewables are even more cost effective. Petty politics may end up having a silver lining 5 years down the road, and at this point I am open to any route to renewables, even the sloppiest, unintentional ones.

Synapsid , July 26, 2017 at 6:43 pm

Rosario,

If exporting US NG causes its price to rise domestically, utilities that had been using coal can shift back to it. That happened recently.

Rosario , July 26, 2017 at 7:43 pm

Sure, but the ball is in another (higher) cup as the cost graphs go. I suspect it is going to get increasingly difficult to transition back and forth with the lowering costs of renewables. Also, coal is not getting any cheaper to extract and it definitely hasn't reduced its externalities. We'll see, big utilities move in herds and it takes years to make a full transition. They may flood back to coal, and build new plants (I doubt it), but they will eventually get burnt and have to swing back again. In the absence of purposeful national level policy (what I prefer) this is the only way the market based approach will turn away from fossil fuels.

Olaf Lukk , July 26, 2017 at 4:02 pm

"Instruments of political sanctions should not be connected with economic interests"?

This echoes the rationalizations of Wall Street when they crashed the economy in '08. Let's not let politics interfere with the right to make money?

The sanctions against Russia were put in place in response to its annexation of Crimea and its support of insurrection in Eastern Ukraine. They have been extended, and expanded, in response to Russian meddling in the recent presidential election. To what extent their cyber warfare had an effect is debatable, but Trump's stonewalling on the issue practically guaranteed the lopsided vote on the latest sanctions.

The LNG issue has some valid points, but it ignores an issue which I have not seen addressed on Naked Capitalism: Just how much is Trump- and those in his administration (infested with alumni of the vampire squid)- beholden to Putin and his fellow oligarchs?

Trump appears to be the Pied Piper of Putin Patsies. I can't help but wonder why.

Yves Smith Post author , July 26, 2017 at 5:51 pm

Crimea was not "annexed". The US destabilized Ukraine. The government in Kiev came in as a result of a coup even thought elections were scheduled for a mere six weeks later and Yanukovich would clearly have been voted out. The new government tore up the current constitution and went through no legal process whatsoever to do that. That is not the behavior of a legitimate government.

Even though neo-Nazis are a very small percentage of the voters, they got 15% of government positions. The head of the defense department gave a speech in which he encouraged ethnic cleansing of Ukrainians of Russian origin, saying that any soldiers who removed them could keep their property.

Crimea petitioned to join Russia after a referendum that approved of that move by a large margin. The US used precisely the same mechanism with Kosovo. Are you about to call that an annexation?

We have repeatedly discussed how the idea that Russia has influence over Trump is nonsense.

Better trolls, please.

[Jul 29, 2017] Collateral Damage

Notable quotes:
"... République en marche ..."
Jul 29, 2017 | www.unz.com

Do they know what they are doing? When the U.S. Congress adopts draconian sanctions aimed mainly at disempowering President Trump and ruling out any move to improve relations with Russia, do they realize that the measures amount to a declaration of economic war against their dear European "friends"?

Whether they know or not, they obviously don't care. U.S. politicians view the rest of the world as America's hinterland, to be exploited, abused and ignored with impunity.

The Bill H.R. 3364 "Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act" was adopted on July 25 by all but three members of the House of Representatives. An earlier version was adopted by all but two Senators. Final passage at veto-overturning proportions is a certainty.

This congressional temper tantrum flails in all directions. The main casualties are likely to be America's dear beloved European allies, notably Germany and France. Who also sometimes happen to be competitors, but such crass considerations don't matter in the sacred halls of the U.S. Congress, totally devoted to upholding universal morality.

Economic "Soft Power" Hits Hard

Under U.S. sanctions, any EU nation doing business with Russia may find itself in deep trouble. In particular, the latest bill targets companies involved in financing Nord Stream 2, a pipeline designed to provide Germany with much needed natural gas from Russia.

By the way, just to help out, American companies will gladly sell their own fracked natural gas to their German friends, at much higher prices.

That is only one way in which the bill would subject European banks and enterprises to crippling restrictions, lawsuits and gigantic fines.

While the U.S. preaches "free competition", it constantly takes measures to prevent free competition at the international level.

Following the July 2015 deal ensuring that Iran could not develop nuclear weapons, international sanctions were lifted, but the United States retained its own previous ones. Since then, any foreign bank or enterprise contemplating trade with Iran is apt to receive a letter from a New York group calling itself "United Against Nuclear Iran" which warns that "there remain serious legal, political, financial and reputational risks associated with doing business in Iran, particularly in sectors of the Iranian economy such as oil and gas". The risks cited include billions of dollars of (U.S.) fines, surveillance by "a myriad of regulatory agencies", personal danger, deficiency of insurance coverage, cyber insecurity, loss of more lucrative business, harm to corporate reputation and a drop in shareholder value.

The United States gets away with this gangster behavior because over the years it has developed a vast, obscure legalistic maze, able to impose its will on the "free world" economy thanks to the omnipresence of the dollar, unrivaled intelligence gathering and just plain intimidation.

European leaders reacted indignantly to the latest sanctions. The German foreign ministry said it was "unacceptable for the United States to use possible sanctions as an instrument to serve the interest of U.S. industry". The French foreign ministry denounced the "extraterritoriality" of the U.S. legislation as unlawful, and announced that "To protect ourselves against the extraterritorial effects of US legislation, we will have to work on adjusting our French and European laws".

In fact, bitter resentment of arrogant U.S. imposition of its own laws on others has been growing in France, and was the object of a serious parliamentary report delivered to the French National Assembly foreign affairs and finance committees last October 5, on the subject of "the extraterritoriality of American legislation".

Extraterritoriality

The chairman of the commission of enquiry, long-time Paris representative Pierre Lellouche, summed up the situation as follows:

"The facts are very simple. We are confronted with an extremely dense wall of American legislation whose precise intention is to use the law to serve the purposes of the economic and political imperium with the idea of gaining economic and strategic advantages. As always in the United States, that imperium, that normative bulldozer operates in the name of the best intentions in the world since the United States considers itself a 'benevolent power', that is a country that can only do good."

Always in the name of "the fight against corruption" or "the fight against terrorism", the United States righteously pursues anything legally called a "U.S. person", which under strange American law can refer to any entity doing business in the land of the free, whether by having an American subsidiary, or being listed on the New York stock exchange, or using a U.S.-based server, or even by simply trading in dollars, which is something that no large international enterprise can avoid.

In 2014, France's leading bank, BNP-Paribas, agreed to pay a whopping fine of nearly nine billion dollars, basically for having used dollar transfers in deals with countries under U.S. sanctions. The transactions were perfectly legal under French law. But because they dealt in dollars, payments transited by way of the United States, where diligent computer experts could find the needle in the haystack. European banks are faced with the choice between prosecution, which entails all sorts of restrictions and punishments before a verdict is reached, or else, counseled by expensive U.S. corporate lawyers, and entering into the obscure "plea bargain" culture of the U.S. judicial system, unfamiliar to Europeans. Just like the poor wretch accused of robbing a convenience store, the lawyers urge the huge European enterprises to plea guilty in order to escape much worse consequences.

Alstom, a major multinational corporation whose railroad section produces France's high speed trains, is a jewel of French industry. In 2014, under pressure from U.S. accusations of corruption (probably bribes to officials in a few developing countries), Alstom sold off its electricity branch to General Electric.

The underlying accusation is that such alleged "corruption" by foreign firms causes U.S. firms to lose markets. That is possible, but there is no practical reciprocity here. A whole range of U.S. intelligence agencies, able to spy on everyone's private communications, are engaged in commercial espionage around the world. As an example, the Office of Foreign Assets Control, devoted to this task, operates with 200 employees on an annual budget of over $30 million. The comparable office in Paris employs five people.

This was the situation as of last October. The latest round of sanctions can only expose European banks and enterprises to even more severe consequences, especially concerning investments in the vital Nord Stream natural gas pipeline.

This bill is just the latest in a series of U.S. legislative measures tending to break down national legal sovereignty and create a globalized jurisdiction in which anyone can sue anyone else for anything, with ultimate investigative capacity and enforcement power held by the United States.

Wrecking the European Economy

Over a dozen European Banks (British, German, French, Dutch, Swiss) have run afoul of U.S. judicial moralizing, compared to only one U.S. bank: JP Morgan Chase.

The U.S. targets the European core countries, while its overwhelming influence in the northern rim – Poland, the Baltic States and Sweden – prevents the European Union from taking any measures (necessarily unanimous) contrary to U.S. interests.

By far the biggest catch in Uncle Sam's financial fishing expedition is Deutsche Bank. As Pierre Lellouche warned during the final hearing of the extraterritorial hearings last October, U.S. pursuits against Deutsche Bank risk bringing down the whole European banking system. Although it had already paid hundreds of millions of dollars to the State of New York, Deutsche Bank was faced with a "fine of 14 billion dollars whereas it is worth only five and a half. In other words, if this is carried out, we risk a domino effect, a major financial crisis in Europe."

In short, U.S. sanctions amount to a sword of Damocles threatening the economies of the country's main trading partners. This could be a Pyrrhic victory, or more simply, the blow that kills the goose that lays the golden eggs. But hurrah, America would be the winner in a field of ruins.

Former justice minister Elisabeth Guigou called the situation shocking, and noted that France had told the U.S. Embassy that the situation is " insupportable " and insisted that "we must be firm".

Jacques Myard said that "American law is being used to gain markets and eliminate competitors. We should not be naïve and wake up to what is happening."

This enquiry marked a step ahead in French awareness and resistance to a new form of "taxation without representation" exercised by the United States against its European satellites. They committee members all agreed that something must be done.

That was last October. In June, France held parliamentary elections. The commission chairman, Pierre Lellouche (Republican), the rapporteur Karine Berger (Socialist), Elisabeth Guigou (a leading Socialist) and Jacques Myard (Republican) all lost their seats to inexperienced newcomers recruited into President Emmanuel Macron's République en marche party. The newcomers are having a hard time finding their way in parliamentary life and have no political memory, for instance of the Rapport on Extraterritoriality.

As for Macron, as minister of economics, in 2014 he went against earlier government rulings by approving the GE purchase of Alstom. He does not appear eager to do anything to anger the United States.

However, there are some things that are so blatantly unfair that they cannot go on forever.

exiled off mainstreet > , July 29, 2017 at 4:40 am GMT

It looks like the rest of the world is going to have to bring down the economic yankee imperium or be destroyed themselves.

Randal > , July 29, 2017 at 9:01 am GMT

there are some things that are so blatantly unfair that they cannot go on forever.

LOL! Naïve, I think. As long as European countries (and the UK) are prepared to carry on acting as Washington's bitches, Washington will go on treating them as such.

The political, media and business elites need to be thoroughly cleansed of US apologists. That won't be easy, especially when Europe and the UK are in the grip of an ideologically anti-nationalist culture that is essentially treasonous and utterly lacking in national self-respect.

Ending NATO and suppressing the US-backed anti-Russian propaganda that keeps Europe and the UK subordinate would be the bare minimum first steps, along with cooperating with China and Russia to promote and use financial systems independent of the dollar.

or even by simply trading in dollars, which is something that no large international enterprise can avoid

The countries that are regularly targeted for US bullying are building structures that avoid vulnerability. European countries and the UK need to join with them in doing so (though it's unlikely they will be trusted very far given their track records of collaboration with Washington).

Also companies that decline to deal in the US market should be protected and supported, on national security grounds. It should be straightforwardly illegal in all sovereign countries for the US to try to impose its laws on any company merely for dealing in dollars, and the US should be held directly responsible when its courts seek to do so. US extraterritoriality has always been a gross intrusion into and threat to national sovereignty.

In 2014, France's leading bank, BNP-Paribas, agreed to pay a whopping fine of nearly nine billion dollars, basically for having used dollar transfers in deals with countries under U.S. sanctions.

Ideally this kind of extortion will be to some extent counterbalanced by retaliatory extractions from US business assets such as Google and Facebook.

entering into the obscure "plea bargain" culture of the U.S. judicial system, unfamiliar to Europeans. Just like the poor wretch accused of robbing a convenience store, the lawyers urge the huge European enterprises to plea guilty in order to escape much worse consequences

The US plea bargain system is a disgrace to any kind of concept of justice and basically means that no US confessions or guilty pleas can be regarded as meaningful, and nor should any sovereign country agree to extradition of its own citizens to the US. It is basically a system of organised blackmail, coerced confessions and corruption of witnesses.

El Dato > , July 29, 2017 at 9:24 am GMT

Well, Europe could consider all of these payouts to the US as "reparations for Nazi atrocities". This will make it go down easier, after all who wouldn't want to enslave himself to Yankees to repair Nazi atrocities?

Meanwhile, self-flaggelation goes on

Anonymous, July 29, 2017 at 1:11 pm GMT

Western European allies?

Nice choice of words, but fiction-supporting. Under-surerainty would be a better fit.

[Jul 28, 2017] The new sanctions expose that the US political establishment, spearheaded by the intelligence agencies is opposed to any shift away from the anti-Russia policy developed under the Obama administration.

Notable quotes:
"... The near-unanimous vote in both houses of Congress (all "no" votes in the House were from Republicans) testifies to the degree to which the CIA, NSA and other spy agencies directly control the institutions of the state and the personnel that compose them."*** ..."
"... By far the new U.S. bill place the most distressing question mark on the pipeline to northern Europe known as Nord Stream II. Five of Europe's biggest energy companies are all signed on to partner Gazprom in pumping gas westwards. ..."
"... "The Europeans intensely dislike U.S. extraterritoriality, and this will widen the breach between the EU and U.S.," Sir Lyne says. "For the Russians, that is a silver lining." ..."
"... All the Europeans need do is tell Uncle Sam to go fuck himself with his sanctions That will pull the rug out from under the American psychos behind the rabid sanction lunacy ..."
"... American politicians are also under the bizarre delusion that they can replace Russia's piped gas with LNG exports. This delusion is something else. America imports natural gas! It would have to take a major consumption hit, thereby driving up prices since demand will remain, to supply the EU with 150+ billion cubic meters of gas per year that currently comes from Russia. The USA consumed about 780 bcm of gas in 2016. It does not have a spare 150 bcm to sell. ..."
"... As I alluded yesterday, the USA has staked out a position from which it cannot back away, one which is of surpassing stupidity, because it has accustomed itself to being obeyed and fancies itself such a clever manipulator that it will always get its way. It is critical now that Europe actually stand together and speak with one voice; otherwise, America will begin probing for lack of resolve and unlimbering its divide-and-conquer game. ..."
"... It will also be pretty funny if Russia struggled and pleaded and accepted all manner of small-minded insults just to get into the World Trade Organization, only to see it collapse only a few years later. Because I'm pretty sure what America is trying to pull off here is in gross violation of WTO rules as well. ..."
Jul 28, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

Northern Star , July 26, 2017 at 9:32 am

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/07/26/pers-j26.html

"The new sanctions expose the essential issues behind the "election hacking" campaign of the US media and political establishment, spearheaded by the intelligence agencies that are opposed to any shift away from the anti-Russia policy developed under the Obama administration.

**** The near-unanimous vote in both houses of Congress (all "no" votes in the House were from Republicans) testifies to the degree to which the CIA, NSA and other spy agencies directly control the institutions of the state and the personnel that compose them."***

Northern Star , July 26, 2017 at 9:53 am
http://www.newsweek.com/how-do-sanctions-work-new-us-bill-targets-russia-and-europe-nervous-642136

"One key question now is how Europe will react," Sir Lyne says. "Over Ukraine, the US and EU marched in step. That is not the case now; and the new bill has the potential to make Europe pay a much higher price than the US."

The EU has never been more dependent on Russian gas, according to Bloomberg, as Russia's state-run gas monopoly Gazprom now pumps over a third (34 percent) of Russia's gas. At present, Gazprom has put the kibosh on one pipeline to the EU, known as South Stream but agreed one that will bring gas on the EU's borders, to Turkey.

By far the new U.S. bill place the most distressing question mark on the pipeline to northern Europe known as Nord Stream II. Five of Europe's biggest energy companies are all signed on to partner Gazprom in pumping gas westwards.

Anglo-Dutch group Royal Dutch Shell, Austria's OMV, France's Engie and Germany's Uniper and Wintershall have agreed to work with Gazprom on the pipeline, collectively covering around half of the nearly $11 billion cost.

The European Commission President Jean Claude-Juncker warned Wednesday that Brussels needs to act "within days" if the U.S. does provide Europe with reassurance that the sanctions will not jeopardize EU interests. A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity told European news site EUobserver, that the European companies would likely not be punished by the U.S. as part of the sanctions but called the situation a "risk" regardless.

"The Europeans intensely dislike U.S. extraterritoriality, and this will widen the breach between the EU and U.S.," Sir Lyne says. "For the Russians, that is a silver lining."

All the europeans need do is tell Uncle Sam to go fuck himself with his sanctions That will pull the rug out from under the American psychos behind the rabid sanction lunacy

marknesop , July 26, 2017 at 6:31 pm
All the Europeans need do is tell Uncle Sam to go fuck himself with his sanctions That will pull the rug out from under the American psychos behind the rabid sanction lunacy

Of course that is not going to happen, at least not publicly – there will be no outward sign of European rebellion, because that would be 'playing into Putin's hands', and the European elite still loathes Putin enough to not want to be seen doing that. At the same time, Uncle Sam does not want to back down, and an arrangement – even secret – that America would not apply the sanctions to European companies would completely nullify their effect. European companies would simply ignore them and carry on with their plans. So the possibility they might be invoked has to stay, with all the attendant fury that is likely to cause. Juicy as a mango, I think. Official America has been a bully for so long that it's the only problem-solving approach it remembers.

The question that keeps nagging at the corner of my mind, though, is "What if the USA were successful at stopping the construction of Nord Stream II and Russia ceased transit through Ukraine anyway?" After all, this whole effort is focused on forcing Russia to continue transiting a big part of Europe's gas supplies through Ukraine, both to keep Ukraine viable by forcing Russia to engage with it despite its objectionable ideological government, and to keep Ukraine as a bargaining chip to make Russia appear to be an unreliable supplier.

Washington's assumption is that Russia will continue to transit gas through Ukraine if its alternatives are removed – after all, it's just a big gas station, and it can't live without its gas sales to Europe. But what if, once again, Washington guessed wrong? If I were running Russia – let's pretend, because I'm not – I would orchestrate a series of 'rebel' sabotage attacks on Naftogaz's pipeline network, blowing up substantial parts of it, and then use that as a reason to cease transit of gas through the line: it's just not safe. I would then maximize transit through existing pipelines except Ukraine, perhaps accelerating the completion of Turkish Stream, and publicly and loudly blame any shortfall on American meddling – if Nord Stream had been twinned, you wouldn't have this problem. If it were managed correctly and everything went according to plan, I think it would resonate.

Also, Russia has reduced its dependence on energy exports. It might be worth it to allow a scenario in which Washington got the opportunity to make up for Russian shortfalls, because it would be a complete failure – the export capability is just not there, and if they redoubled their efforts they would lose money like crazy because they could not do it for Russia's prices. Either they would flop at the delivery end, or the Europeans would squeal like pigs because their gas rates went out of sight, or Uncle Sam would take a bath on American exports. Those are the only possible scenarios, it should be emphasized.

kirill , July 26, 2017 at 7:01 pm
We have clear evidence that the politicians in the USA do not have a grip on Russia's economy and exports dependence. By 2019 Russia will have a massive gas pipeline to China. Gas for this pipeline has to come from somewhere and filling it up with Banderastan transit gas would be a good start to put the USA and its EU colony in its place. According to the most recent Awara Group report, the fraction of oil and gas industry in Russia is down to 8% of GDP. Not only is Russia not dependent on oil and gas for its GDP, it will lose nothing by shifting supply away from the EU.

American politicians are also under the bizarre delusion that they can replace Russia's piped gas with LNG exports. This delusion is something else. America imports natural gas! It would have to take a major consumption hit, thereby driving up prices since demand will remain, to supply the EU with 150+ billion cubic meters of gas per year that currently comes from Russia. The USA consumed about 780 bcm of gas in 2016. It does not have a spare 150 bcm to sell.

Northern Star , July 27, 2017 at 11:20 am
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/07/27/euro-j27.html

"The European powers reacted sharply yesterday to the US House of Representatives' passage of a bill imposing sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea, indicating that it was unacceptable to European interests and that the European Union (EU) was preparing retaliatory measures."

"Angry commentary over the sanctions bill in the German press underscore that influential forces in the German ruling class see the sanctions bill as yet further evidence of hostile US intent towards Germany and Europe.
"What is particularly dangerous is that supporters of Russia sanctions in Washington are not only trying to put Putin and Trump in the same bag, but also helping the US economy against foreign competition," wrote the Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Under the bill, the daily added, "Europeans would be forced to burn less Russian natural gas and more American liquefied natural gas. This is an unfriendly act, especially against Germany."
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote that, "with all due respect for the Senate and its ambition to tie President Donald Trump's hands on Russia policy, the draft law is unacceptable from a European perspective. First, it breaks the diplomatic alliance between Europe and the United States in deciding on sanctions against Russia. The argument that America is promoting Europe's energy security is also quite insolent. That is Europe's responsibility. This is how you lose friends."

The question that is emerging is whether the US-EU military rivalry and bitter trade conflicts will now coalesce and escalate into a catastrophic breakdown in US-EU relations!in the form of a trade war that would bring the world economy to its knees, or of outright military conflict."

Hmmm .So the RWETA is born.. Russia &Western EuropeTrade Allliance

marknesop , July 27, 2017 at 5:37 pm
Why make it more complicated than it is? The French are in the lead for once – such sanctions are a violation of international law. Consequently no other nations are obligated to abide by them. If America levied a massive fine against BASF Wintershall, and that company simply ignored it, what would America do? Start booting out German companies in the USA? Melt BMW's and pour them down the drains in the street?

As I alluded yesterday, the USA has staked out a position from which it cannot back away, one which is of surpassing stupidity, because it has accustomed itself to being obeyed and fancies itself such a clever manipulator that it will always get its way. It is critical now that Europe actually stand together and speak with one voice; otherwise, America will begin probing for lack of resolve and unlimbering its divide-and-conquer game.

The really funny part in this, from my viewpoint, is the way the Europeans blame Trump and his presidency. Granted, he did frame the 'America first' policy, but that's just a convenient handle for the angry Europeans to grab. Trump entered office with the declared intention of mending the damaged relationship with Russia, and it was the Democrats who created an hysterical firestorm of accusation that Russia had greased Trump's way into office. It has been ideologues outside Trump's circle who crafted the sanctions legislation with a view to preventing him from lifting the sanctions under his own recognizance.

It will also be pretty funny if Russia struggled and pleaded and accepted all manner of small-minded insults just to get into the World Trade Organization, only to see it collapse only a few years later. Because I'm pretty sure what America is trying to pull off here is in gross violation of WTO rules as well.

[Jul 23, 2017] Russia lost $26 billion on oil and gas exports

Notable quotes:
"... An increase in Libyan output, together with a surge in US production and signs of recovery in Nigeria, may undercut Opec's strategy to re-balance the market and boost prices. ..."
"... The US frackers (along with all other high-cost producers around the globe) will go bust before the end of the decade. ..."
"... It is garbage articles. Only trading oil shares on stock market is zero sum game so when Mr Buffet makes $1 million many others lost a little bit each to the tune of $1 million. But country producing oil and exporting is not stock market. It is life and life is not zero-sum game. If oil companies in one oil producing country lost 10-20-30 billion it does not mean that oil companies in other oil producing country gained 10-20-30 billion. Glenn, this is so basic. ..."
"... Let the Saudis, the Russians and the cheap money wallstreet companies shoot out their battle – when the first topples (perhaps SA running out of money first, Venezuala soon goes bottom-up) prices will be north of 70$ again. ..."
"... Northsea-oil is another candidate for going bottom-up, the same with old giant fields like chinese super fields where they stopped injecting at 60$. Together with a healthy 1.4 mb demand growth there will be times when even a wide deveoloped Permian can't sustain all demands at 40-50$. ..."
"... Financing in the oil industry will take care of it. If loans and investments dry up as lenders and investors find better deals to make, there will be less drilling. It's the oil industry itself to blame for low prices. ..."
Jul 23, 2017 | peakoilbarrel.com

Glenn E Stehle says: 07/18/2017 at 7:05 pm

Ves,

So you think Putin is happy about this?

Russia lost $26 billion on oil and gas exports
http://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/russia-lost-26-billion-on-oil-and-gas-exports/

Russia is making less money on oil and gas exports, according to the data published today by the Federal Customs Service. In 2016, the revenues from oil and gas exports declined by 17.7% (compared to 2015) and amounted to $73.676 billion. Gazprom's revenues from gas exports declined by 25% and amounted to $31.28 billion.

Or this?

Saudis, Russia say oil supply cut being extended to next March
https://www.irishtimes.com/business/energy-and-resources/saudis-russia-say-oil-supply-cut-being-extended-to-next-march-1.3083423

While output curbs introduced at the start of the year are working, global inventories aren't yet at the level targeted by Opec and its allies, Saudi energy minister Khalid Al-Falih said Monday in Beijing alongside his Russian counterpart, Alexander Novak. The ministers agreed the deal should be extended through the first quarter of 2018 at the same volume of reductions, they said .

An increase in Libyan output, together with a surge in US production and signs of recovery in Nigeria, may undercut Opec's strategy to re-balance the market and boost prices.

Or this?

Oil Prices Ease on Signs of Steady Output from Some Producers
http://www.rigzone.com/news/oil_gas/a/151042/Oil_Prices_Ease_on_Signs_of_Steady_Output_from_Some_Producers?utm_source=DailyNewsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=2017-07-18&utm_content=&utm_campaign=industry_headlines_1

Oil prices were about 1 percent lower on Monday as investors continued to await strong indications that an OPEC-led effort to drain a glut was proving effective .

U.S. shale oil production was forecast to rise for the eighth consecutive month, climbing 112,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 5.585 million bpd in August .

Oil prices are less than half their mid-2014 level because of a persistent glut, even after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries with Russia and other non-OPEC producers cut supplies since January.

Or this?

US Shale Oil Output Seen Up for Eighth Month at 5.6 Mln bpd -EIA
http://www.rigzone.com/news/oil_gas/a/151045/US_Shale_Oil_Output_Seen_Up_for_Eighth_Month_at_56_Mln_bpd_EIA?utm_source=DailyNewsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=2017-07-18&utm_content=&utm_campaign=Production_1

U.S. shale oil production is forecast to rise for the eighth consecutive month, climbing 112,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 5.585 million bpd in August, the U.S. Energy Department said in a report on Monday.

The increase comes amid market concerns that rising shale output will dampen the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' efforts to curb a global supply glut.

The U.S. shale production level would be the highest since record-keeping began in 2007, according to the EIA's monthly drilling productivity report.

Stavros H says: 07/22/2017 at 3:34 pm
The US frackers (along with all other high-cost producers around the globe) will go bust before the end of the decade.
Glenn E Stehle says: 07/18/2017 at 7:40 pm

Ves says: 07/18/2017 at 10:46 pm
Glenn,

It is garbage articles. Only trading oil shares on stock market is zero sum game so when Mr Buffet makes $1 million many others lost a little bit each to the tune of $1 million. But country producing oil and exporting is not stock market. It is life and life is not zero-sum game. If oil companies in one oil producing country lost 10-20-30 billion it does not mean that oil companies in other oil producing country gained 10-20-30 billion. Glenn, this is so basic.

Look this way, very simple way, if you and your neighbour are earning oil royalties on your Texas land in US$ with exactly same interest and he has to live in Texas (and has to pay living expense in $US) and you live in Mexico (paying expenses in pesos) it is not the same. For you "It's morning in Mexico" but for your Texas neighbour is so so.

Glenn E Stehle says: 07/19/2017 at 6:35 am
Ves,

Revenue = number of units sold x price per unit

A lease that produces 12,000 BO per year at $100/BO generates $1.2 million in revenue.

A lease that produces 120,000 BO per year at $50/BO generates $6 million in revenue.

Most people consider $6 million in revenue to be better than $1.2 million.

Eulenspiegel says: 07/19/2017 at 8:30 am
It depends on your costs whats the best – If you have 49$ costs, the first least will still generate 612.000$ profit, the second only 120.000$ despite pumping the 10 fold amount.

If you have only 1 piece of land and can wait(it's your land, and you have the money), the first option is the best – if you are a shale company with 1 zillion in debt, the second option is the best to dish out all your assets to hit your payment rates.

Someone here described at a rule of a thumb you should earn the 3 fold price of drilling costs to make a good fortune since you have additional costs – so waiting a bit before calling for the fracking pump can pay out here.

Let the Saudis, the Russians and the cheap money wallstreet companies shoot out their battle – when the first topples (perhaps SA running out of money first, Venezuala soon goes bottom-up) prices will be north of 70$ again.

Northsea-oil is another candidate for going bottom-up, the same with old giant fields like chinese super fields where they stopped injecting at 60$. Together with a healthy 1.4 mb demand growth there will be times when even a wide deveoloped Permian can't sustain all demands at 40-50$.

Glenn E Stehle says: 07/19/2017 at 8:51 am
Eulenspiegel said:

Together with a healthy 1.4 mb demand growth there will be times when even a wide developed Permian can't sustain all demands at 40-50$.

I sure hope you're right, and that the competitors "go bottom-up," or at least blink, sooner than later.

This is from Pioneer Resources' June investor presentation.

Eulenspiegel says: 07/20/2017 at 3:50 am
Why only 2.31$ productions cost for permian horizontals, I think the pipelines are the same as for the verticals direct in the spot beneath?

All other shales have higher production costs, too – which doesn't make the thing better at the momentary depressed oil prices.

Looks like they have big red numbers in Eagle Ford even at top locations.

Boomer II says: 07/19/2017 at 9:09 am
But if the total BO from the lease is the same whether it comes out slowly or quickly, then getting the oil out quickly at a low price is not as good as getting the oil out slowly at a higher price.

Your lifetime return on your lease would be the most important number.

Glenn E Stehle says: 07/19/2017 at 9:28 am
BoomerII,

Well that certainly is the conclusion that the Pure and the Humble (aka John D. Rockefeller) came to in the 1930s after the discovery of the East Texas Field.

But just exactly how do you propose that those "higher prices" be achieved in a competitive, free market economy?

Or do you advocate for the re-cartelization of the market place for oil, the way it was between 1936 and the 1970?

Boomer II says: 07/19/2017 at 10:17 am
Financing in the oil industry will take care of it. If loans and investments dry up as lenders and investors find better deals to make, there will be less drilling. It's the oil industry itself to blame for low prices.
Glenn E Stehle says: 07/19/2017 at 11:03 am
Boomer II,

That's how the business cycle works in a competitive, free-market economy. The down-cycle is unkind to many, but some make it through and go on to fight another day.

Do you prefer a system where the government picks the winners and losers?

Boomer II says: 07/19/2017 at 11:29 am
Between depletion and increased production costs and a temporary glut of oil, the market is making oil and gas investments less attractive.

The government IS stepping in, to the industry's detriment, by selling more leases right now and encouraging what might be overproduction at the moment.

If market conditions hasten the decline of gas and oil, I won't be sorry because I think we need alternatives anyway.

Glenn E Stehle says: 07/19/2017 at 12:07 pm
Boomer II,

Why do you believe the "alternatives" will necessarily make it through the down-cycle?

They may be some of the first to "go bottom-up," especially as the subsidies for wind and solar begin to be phased out in the next few years.

texas tea says: 07/19/2017 at 12:16 pm
we could always make Mike president That should be good for a couple of hundred $$$ increase per barrel
Boomer II says: 07/19/2017 at 12:59 pm
Countries that don't want to be dependent on fossil fuel imports have an incentive to find alternatives. Even if they pay a bit more for them (which doesn't appear will be the case), renewables offer them more energy independence. If that is America's goal, it is likely to be other countries' goal as well.

Alternative energy sources also provide an economic advantage for some countries because they can become energy players even without their own fossil fuels.

Think of alternative energy the way you do military preparativeness. There is value to countries which taxpayers and governments will support even if there is no direct financial benefit. However money spent for alternative energy WILL have more economic benefit than military spending.

Ves says: 07/19/2017 at 11:23 am
"A lease that produces 12,000 BO per year at $100/BO generates $1.2 million in revenue.

A lease that produces 120,000 BO per year at $50/BO generates $6 million in revenue."

Glenn,

The only problem is that FEW 120.000 BO cannot pay MANY 12,000 BO. So, picking 120.000 BO wells is losing game in long term. It is like a stock picking vs indexing in investing. Indexing always wins. Shale carpet drilling is like trying to find that one 120.000 BO well that will pay for all losers that are 12,000 BO. Losing game in the long term...

[Jul 20, 2017] Saudi Arabia - Bin Salman's Coup Is A Model For His Own Ouster

Jul 20, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

Someone wanted the public to know that the new Saudi clown prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MbS) took up his new position by unceremoniously disposing his predecessor Mohammed bin Nayef (MbN) by force. The juicy details, true or not, were briefed to Reuters, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times on the same day:

As next in line to be king of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Nayef was unaccustomed to being told what to do. Then, one night in June, he was summoned to a palace in Mecca, held against his will and pressured for hours to give up his claim to the throne .

By dawn, he had given in, and Saudi Arabia woke to the news that it had a new crown prince: the king's 31-year-old son, Mohammed bin Salman.

Bin Nayef was a darling of the CIA and his disposal was not welcome. It may well be that the author of the tale of his ouster has his office in Langley, Virginia.

We had correctly called the MbN removal a coup and predicted that "the old al-Saud family king [..] will be offed soon." From the current Reuters piece:

Quoting a witness at the palace, one Saudi source said King Salman this month pre-recorded a statement in which he announces the transfer of the throne to his son. The announcement could be broadcast at any time, perhaps as soon as September

We also wrote that "[m]any Arab peninsula citizens will want to see [the new clown prince's] head on a pike."

The details of how MbS deposed the previous crown prince MbN will enrage further parts of the Saudi citizens. Additional leaks about extensive MbS contacts with Israel will increase the bad feelings against him. This especially as Israeli is further encroaching on the al-Haram a-Sharif and the Al-Aqsa mosque on the (likely falsely) claimed Jewish temple mount.

MbS' attempt to push Qatar around has, as predicted , failed. The four countries that had joined against Qatar could not agree to increase the pressure. The demands made to Qatar have now been retracted . This is a huge loss of face for MbS and his Emirati mentor Mohammad bin Zayed. The Saudi war against Yemen kills many civilians and costs lots of money but is militarily lost. The announced big economic reforms have made no progress. The Gulf Cooperation Council is defunct and may fall further apart.

Everything MbS has touched failed. His actions violate traditions and religious commandments. His coup has set an example that can now be used against himself. It would not be astonishing to see a revolt against Mohammed Bin Salman even before he is able to make himself king.

james | Jul 20, 2017 3:32:42 PM | 1

thanks b.. i really resent the war on yemen by this asshole in power.. i hope he is gone soon and for that matter - saudi arabia - israel - and all the rest of the rot contributing to de-stability in the mid east all go the way of the dodo bird..
karlof1 | Jul 20, 2017 3:40:40 PM | 2
Pepe and b probably used similar sources since their articles are quite alike! http://www.atimes.com/article/coup-house-saud/

Relatedly, MBS may not be the primary instigator of the Qatar crisis according to this item, https://southfront.org/finally-know-really-behind-qatar-crisis/

Recently, several articles, including the one above, at Southfront were republications of items originating at a new--to me--site, other barflies may want to explore, http://theantimedia.org/

karlof1 | Jul 20, 2017 3:59:08 PM | 3
The Angry Arab alerts us to "Ben Hubbard's propaganda work for MBS," http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2017/07/nyts-ben-hubbards-propaganda-work-for.html

As'ad also goes off today at blatant propaganda published by The Economist regarding Hezbollah and its alleged involvement with drug trade--something Nasrallah condemns very mightily, http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2017/07/how-did-economist-documents-its.html

b | Jul 20, 2017 4:01:21 PM | 4
MbS smells the anger, tries to coup-proof his regime:
Saudi Arabia establishes new apparatus for state security
JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia created a new apparatus for state security in Royal Decrees issued Thursday.
The new body, State Security Presidency, will be cornered all matters related to state security and be overseen by the king.

...

all matters related to combating terrorism and financial investigations to be separated from the Ministry of Interior and added to the State Security Presidency.

Everything related to the Security Affairs Agency and other functions related to the Ministry of Interior tasks including employees (civil and military), budgets, documents and information are to be added to the State Security Presidency.

The (just newly installed) interior minister is said to be a friend of MbS but he is from the family of MbN and thereby a danger. Must be disarmed ...
karlof1 | Jul 20, 2017 4:16:03 PM | 5
Sorry to monopolize the beginnings of this thread. At the end of his essay about events in Mosul, Craig Murray has this to say about Saudi:

"The other interesting silence is from Saudi Arabia, which poses as the defender of Sunni Islam throughout the world, but actually has no interest at all in it, except as a tool for promoting the much more worldly interests of the Saudi elite....

"For the Saudi elite, the money they pumped into ISIS in Iraq was a trifle; Mosul ISIL were pawns to be sacrificed and the Sunni civilian population of Mosul is no more important to them. By the combination of funding the spread of Wahhabi ideology and providing unlimited arms and organisational financing, the Saudis can pop up another Al Qaida, Al Nusra or ISIL more or less anywhere, any time it seems useful. Meantime they are focused on cementing their burgeoning axis of Saudi Arabia/Israel/USA to continue the violent promotion of Saudi regional ambition." https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2017/07/mosul-worse-srebrenica/

It now appears the Unipolarists are reduced to just 4 nations: Outlaw US Empire, UK, Zionist Occupied Palestine, and Saudi Arabia. If Corbyn can become UK's PM, then that number might get reduced to 3.

Clueless Joe | Jul 20, 2017 4:31:55 PM | 6
B: I think your last sentence is key. Some grown-ups, in the US and in the Gulf, leaked this because they want to prevent current crown prince of becoming King, and hope to see him replaced as future king before Salman bites the bullet.
I mean, Mohammed BS has shown how bad he is at managing slightly complex crises, be it Yemen, current jihadi setbacks in Syria, or Qatar - the latter being the biggest indictment I suppose, considering the long-term consequences. So, some smarter people want to push him out before he can become king and weaken the Saudi kingdom to the breaking point.
Not sure what was meant by that, though: "on the (likely falsely) claimed Jewish temple mount"
ProPeace | Jul 20, 2017 4:40:24 PM | 7
CV Locations should be watched closely: CVN-77 George H.W. Bush 05Jul-18Jul2017, Med

Also, I believe this 2015 article is worth reminding: The secret projects of Israël and Saudi Arabia

...According to our information, for the last 17 months (in other words, since the announcement of the negotiations between Washington and Teheran, which have in fact been proceeding for the last 27 months), Tel-Aviv has been engaged in secret negotiations with Saudi Arabia. Extremely high-level delegations have met five times – in India, Italy and the Czech Republic.

The cooperation between Tel-Aviv and Riyadh is part of the US plan to create a " Common Arab Defence Force ", under the auspices of the Arab League, but under Israeli command. This " Force " is already effective in Yemen, where Israeli pilots fly Saudi bombers within the framework of an Arab Coalition whose headquarters have been installed by the Israelis in Somaliland, a non-recognised state situated on the other side of the the Bab el-Mandeb straits [1].

However, Riyadh does not intend to officialise this cooperation as long as Tel-Aviv refuses the Arab Peace Initiative, presented to the Arab League in 2002 by Prince Abdullah before he became king [2].

Israël and Saudi Arabia have reached agreement on several objectives.

On the political level :

  • To " democratise " the Gulf States, in other words, to associate the people in the management of their countries, while affirming the intangibility of the the monarchy and the Wahhabite way of life ; To change the political system in Iran (and no longer wage war on Iran) ;
  • To create an independent Kurdistan in such a way as to weaken Iran, Turkey (despite the fact that it is a long-standing ally of Israël), and Iraq (but not Syria, which is already seriously weakened).

On the economic level :

  • To exploit the Rub'al-Khali oil-fields and organise a federation between Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and perhaps Oman and the United Arab Emirates ;
  • To exploit the Ogaden oil-fields, under Ethiopian control, secure the Yemeni port of Aden, and build a bridge linking Djibouti and Yemen.

In other words, while Tel-Aviv and Riyadh are making the best of a bad deal, and accepting that two thirds of Iraq, Syria, and half of Lebanon will be controlled by Iran, they intend :

  • To ensure that Iran gives up on the exportation of its revolution ;
  • To control the rest of the region by excluding Turkey, which took over from Saudi Arabia in the supervision of international terrorism, and has just lost in Syria...
/div> div
div
stonebird | Jul 20, 2017 4:53:03 PM | 8
Do not underestimate the power of the religious autorities. When I was there (admittedly many, many years ago), the monarchy was very careful to always have their agreement for any policy change. Even now with the strict laws governing behaviour (ie. Women, TV and prayers) their impact on ordinary Saudi society apparently hasn't changed much. It may have even got worse.

So the Clown prince's closer ties with Israel - are going to be under close scrutiny. Particularly if Netanyhu continues with the "isolation" and alienation of the Al-Aqsa mosque. Note that the numbers of people hurt in IDF actions against demonstrators has been totally under-reported, if at all. (reported 70 the first day and 35 another. Those wounded include an Imam.)
This is going to pose an ethical problem for ALL the Gulf states. They will have to be seen doing something to retain credibility.

On a jovial note; The traditional way, if the reigning Leader did not hand down part of the money to the other tribesmen according to tradition - was to slit his throat. (The King gets it all, then hands down part of it to Princes, who then hand down part of what they recieved to tribesmen and so on right to the bottom. (widows in the Souk with no family). When there is a lot this works fine. I do not know if this will work when there is less to go round.)

Anonymous | Jul 20, 2017 6:12:01 PM | 9
Israel is upping the ante in Syria.

"Israel is going to build a new field hospital in the Israeli-occupied part of the Golan Heights in Syria. According to the Lieutenant Colonel Tomer Koler, the hospital will be located on the Syrian side of the fence build by Israel in the Golan Heights and may become operational next month."

https://southfront.org/israel-build-new-field-hospital-treat-syrian-militants/

Up to now the IDF has treated its terrorists in Israel proper. Now it seems that even Israel is invading Syria. The extra land grab has started.

[Jul 18, 2017] MoA - Can Washington Prevent The Death Of The Gulf States

Jul 18, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org
Can Washington Prevent The Death Of The Gulf States?

U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson is angry that Saudi Arabia and the UAE rejected his efforts to calm down their spat with Qatar. His revenge, and a threat of more serious measures, comes in the form of a WaPo "leak" - UAE orchestrated hacking of Qatari government sites, sparking regional upheaval, according to U.S. intelligence officials :

The United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites in order to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, in late May that sparked the ongoing upheaval between Qatar and its neighbors, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

Officials became aware last week that newly analyzed information gathered by U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed that on May 23, senior members of the UAE government discussed the plan and its implementation . The officials said it remains unclear whether the UAE carried out the hacks itself or contracted to have them done.

That the UAE and/or the Saudis were involved in the hack was pretty clear from the get go. They were the only ones who had a clear motive. Qatar already had specific evidence for the source of the hacking. Congressional anti-Russian sources ignored that and accused , as usual , Russia and Putin.

Tillerson's real message is not the hacking accusation. The hacks themselves are not relevant to the spat and to Tillerson's efforts to defuse it. The "leak" sets the UAE and Saudi leadership on notice that the U.S. has sources and methods to learn of their government's innermost discussions. The real threat to them is that other dirt could be released from the same source.

It is doubtful that this threat will change the minds of these rulers. They believe in their own invincibility. Ian Welsh describes the mindset in his prediction of The Death of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states:

This is fairly standard: all dynasties go bad eventually because the kings-to-be grow up in wealth and power and think it's the natural state of things: that they are brilliant and deserve it all, when it was handed them on a platter . Perhaps they are good at palace intrigue and think that extends beyond the palace.

It doesn't.

Welsh comes to the same conclusion as I did when the recent GCC infighting broke out:

No matter how the spat with Qatar ends, the GCC unity has (again) been exposed as a sham. It can not be repaired. Saudi "leadership" is shown to be just brutal bullying and will be resisted. U.S. plans for a united GCC under Saudi leadership and U.S. control are in shambles.
...
The Saudi under their new leadership overestimate their capabilities. So did Trump when he raised their role. The Saudi "apes with Macbooks" do not have the capabilities needed for a serious political actor in this world. Their money can paper over that for only so long.

The step Tillerson and some "intelligence officials" now took may be a sign panic. The "leak" revealed "sources and methods". Like every other government the UAE senior officials suspect that the U.S. is trying to listen to their internal deliberations. But they now know for sure. The specific date given in the "leak" will help them to take some countermeasures. Leaking "sources and methods" is not done lightly. That it has to resort to such measures shows that the U.S. administration is not in control of the situation.

During the fall of the Ottoman empire Britain created today's Saudi Arabia. Two world wars exhausted Britain's power. The U.S. took over the management of the empire including the Gulf states. It needs Saudi Arabia for its fossil energy and the related reserve currency status of the U.S. dollar. Unrest in Saudi Arabia is not in the U.S. interest but such is now in sight. The "leak" is just a tactical measure of an inexperienced administration. It is not enough to defuse or mitigate the conflict and its consequences.

What strategies will Washington develop to counter the foreseeable instability in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states?

Peter AU | Jul 17, 2017 3:04:50 PM | 1

The petro dollar has been around some time now and has given US control of the world trade currency. As far rich kids being handed everything on a platter, the US government is no different to the Saudi's. This will be interesting.
Don Wiscacho | Jul 17, 2017 3:29:16 PM | 2
What can Washington do to save the khalijis?

Nothing beyond sell them weapons and eavesdropping technology. But this only buys some time, and time unfortunately for the GCC countries, isn't on their side.

With increasing swiftness, across the world technologies are being improved on and invented which will eventually wean everyone off fossil fuels. This won't happen overnight, and even when it does, petroleum will still have value as it is used in innumerable applications. But the price will fall, making the latest crash look like a road bump. When that happens, the show's over folks. The GCC countries will become ungovernable, then uninhabitable. There simply are too many people, too few resources.

The only hope the GCC states have is to diversify their economies. Not MBS's 'Prosperity through Austerity' but a multi-pronged tract to develop all critical sectors. The UAE and Qatar are trying, but betting the house on finance and real estate to the detriment of everything else. Petro dollars are still propping up those houses of cards. Oman is the only one seemingly doing things right: good relations with neighbors, trade, and developing domestic industry. If the rest of the GCC doesn't follow Oman's lead, they are simply finished.

Peter AU | Jul 17, 2017 3:39:08 PM | 5
ab initio | Jul 17, 2017 3:30:38 PM | 3 "In any case reserve currency status is not all beneficial to the US."

This is what gives the US the power to sanction countries and make it stick world wide. It is a huge part of US power.

karlof1 | Jul 17, 2017 3:57:40 PM | 6
Peter AU @5--

Thanks for calling the trolling. Its comment was almost 100% disinformation.

In answer to b's query, the Outlaw US Empire cannot save itself let alone any of its vassals. They will be used until they are no longer of use. And that time is rapidly approaching. Although, the Qataris seem best positioned to avoid extinction.

Now that I know of them, I get to purchase Mark Curtis's line of books documenting British Imperialism and its association with terrorism. Thanks b!

ruralito | Jul 17, 2017 4:12:50 PM | 7
shrinkage?

https://southfront.org/trump-hints-abandoning-key-qatar-military-base-talks-saudi-king/

Mike Maloney | Jul 17, 2017 4:18:06 PM | 8
The United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are ontologically inseparable. You can't have one without the other. The penetration of the U.S. deep state by al-Saud -- whether it's D.C. think tanks or Fortune 500 executive boards -- is complete.

Tillerson knows this, that's why his "woe is me" shuttle diplomacy is nothing more than Kabuki.

This doesn't mean that al-Thani is without wires into the U.S. deep state; it has plenty. That's what makes this GCC throw-down so delightful. The U.S. is at a point where it can no longer sublate all the contradictions produced by its hegemony.

stumpy | Jul 17, 2017 4:58:59 PM | 9
anon @ 4
Re: hack:
Perhaps we shouldnt accept claims about UAE just like that. Lets be honest.

I agree. Consider the source at WAPO. Some credibility gap there. I would guess that Tillerson is not the sole source for whatever might have been leaked (if not invented).

Also, as far as sources and methods, it's one thing to burn an inside informer type of asset, but leaking SIGINT in the form of general pronouncements without physical evidence doesn't burn the source, only indicates a potential weakness in the cyber defenses of the target. For all we know there was no hack, per se, given that a lot of US and allied contractors were probably in on the installation and operation of UAE computer systems.

My impression, not to contradict b's analysis but to propose a direction of thought, is that the WAPO is promulgating a brag, that the US can look up anyone's skirt anytime and tell whatever they want. Thus, reminding the players that they'd better stay in line, as b states.

karlof1 | Jul 17, 2017 6:21:58 PM | 10
Considering Saudi Arabia's creation, its falling to pieces would be considered Nature's reaction to an artificial construct. Soon, instead of Saudis buying Outlaw US Empire weaponry, it will be asking for handouts as it did during its formative years when the UK held its reins. Given its role in the violent histories of the British and Outlaw US Empires, the remaining nations of the planet will be quite pleased to see its demise--even more so given that the three constitute the nest for Global Terrorism. Dan Glazebrook's series detailing the history of "British collusion with sectarian violence" at RT, one of which b linked to, are well worth the time; this links to the first installment, https://www.rt.com/op-edge/338247-uk-extremists-syria-isis-violence/
fast freddy | Jul 17, 2017 6:27:34 PM | 11
It seems that it is not the US, but Israel which owns the most advanced spying hacking technology. The US sublet fiber optic data interception to Israeli companies NARUS and Verint. These companies have since been folded (hidden) into other multinational holding companies, but still (Boeing, Carlisle Group).

When is this a good idea for "National Security" (which is the constant refrain when withholding information from the public)?

https://www.wired.com/2012/04/shady-companies-nsa/

fast freddy | Jul 17, 2017 6:27:35 PM | 12
It seems that it is not the US, but Israel which owns the most advanced spying hacking technology. The US sublet fiber optic data interception to Israeli companies NARUS and Verint. These companies have since been folded (hidden) into other multinational holding companies, but still (Boeing, Carlisle Group).

When is this a good idea for "National Security" (which is the constant refrain when withholding information from the public)?

https://www.wired.com/2012/04/shady-companies-nsa/

Jay | Jul 17, 2017 8:39:20 PM | 13
"It [the USA] needs Saudi Arabia for its fossil energy and the related reserve currency status of the U.S. dollar."

Well Saudi oil is mostly going to Europe, but the Saudi policy does obviously effect the price of oil futures around the world.

A lot more than oil backs the US dollar, the "oil based reserve status" only goes so far.

nobody | Jul 17, 2017 8:52:28 PM | 14
The step Tillerson and some "intelligence officials" now took may be a sign >[of]< panic.

Posted by b on July 17, 2017 at 02:33 PM | Permalink

The last monarch to get "mixed messages" from USA was the late Shah of Iran. Qatar and "Saudi" Arabia, take note.

Voltaire network is pushing an interesting deep analysis that we are witnessing ex-Empire strikes back, with the Occulted British ex-Empire putin' [haha] the finishing touches on their expulsion of the ex-Colonial Empire from "their" sphere of influence (aptly named by the slimy blood sucking limeys as "their" "Middle East").

The dismantling of the "Hyperpower" is nearly complete. Bankster power remains untouched.

As you were.

ProPeace | Jul 17, 2017 8:58:09 PM | 15
This is interesting Pentagon study declares American empire is 'collapsing'
james | Jul 17, 2017 9:28:16 PM | 16
thanks b.. i have been yammering on about 2020 as a critical turning point in world events and that saudi arabia is very central to all this.. in my astro comments on nov 2, 2013 i stated "below is a chart for the next conjunction of saturn/pluto set to riyadh. this exact conjunction happens only once in early 2020, but i suspect given how close it is to the astro positions in the 1902 chart for saudi arabia, that if this chart has legs, this conjunction is going to bring about a transformation of present day saudi arabia and it will probably not be a pretty or easy transition given the issue of terrorism associated with these religious groups i have also mentioned.. saturn and pluto have a connection to terrorism as i understand it and were in the long opposition at the time of 9-11 as well... on the other hand, perhaps it indicates a further clamp down on freedoms and a type of totalitarianism. i suspect it will fluctuate between the two.. and, it is probably already in the process of developing here in 2013.. " from this thread..

@8 mike maloney... i fully concur to your words here: "The U.S. is at a point where it can no longer sublate all the contradictions produced by its hegemony."

saudi arabia and the world by extension are going to look very differently come 2020... lol - how is that for a lousy astro prediction? that is like saying, tomorrow things will look differently.. of course i have mentioned this about saudi arabia in the past at moa...

i enjoyed the article "The Death of Saudi Arabia".. it was fun reading the comments to that post too.. i recognized a few regulars in the comment section from sst and moa..

dh | Jul 17, 2017 9:33:07 PM | 17
@15 Looks like a big scare piece followed by plea for more weapons. Thank you Pentagon.
virgile | Jul 17, 2017 9:53:51 PM | 18
The US continues the strategy they have started less than decade ago: Weaken Saudi Arabia to the point it will accept a peace deal with Israel.
The US threw the Saudis into the Syrian quagmire, the Egyptian quagmire, then in the Yemen quagmire, now in the Qatar quagmire.
When the Saudi kingdom will come out of these, it will be exhausted and in a state of terror in front of the Iranian steadily growing political and economical strength. The threat of the collapse to their family ruled system is looming.
The USA seems to have accepted that the Iran Islamic republic's semi-democratic system is here to stay and evolve while the GCC autocratic monarchies are threatened of extinction.
Buying billions of weapons from the USA seems to give these dying entities the illusion that the USA is on their side. In fact the USA has been backstabbing them continuously thus weakening them by the day and preparation for their collapse.
The emirates will have make reforms of a democratic nature if they want to survive.
Saudi Arabia is doomed.
Sloopyjoe | Jul 17, 2017 10:55:16 PM | 19
First post here.

I have seen a lot of confusion/deception as to the nature/history of the Arabia. In order to understand history properly, one must be willingly open-minded and examine as much evidence as possible. Especially, evidence that is contrary to your understanding. This takes intellectual honesty, critical thinking, and courage. History is written by the winners/manipulators. You rarely hear from the other side. Meaning, you never get the complete picture. Therefore, you cannot get historical accuracy unless you do a bit a honest digging. Ex., Anybody with a working brain stem understands that the official story of 9-11 is a big pile of Donkey Doughnuts.

I am not a biblical scholar nor am I very religiously inclined. I prefer historical accuracy over warm and fuzzy beliefs.

I realize there are many readers who are religious and may be ingrained in their beliefs. What I am presenting below will challenge your root understandings. Please try to have an open mind and use logic, reason, evidence(both pro and con), and patterns of behavior to better your knowledge base. Below are links pertaining to the Arabia/Israel:

https://ashraf62.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/the-jewish-roots-of-takfiri-culture/
http://themillenniumreport.com/2015/12/the-house-of-saud-its-jewish-origin-and-installation-by-the-british-crown/
http://www.voltairenet.org/article192024.html
http://en.abna24.com/service/iran/archive/2016/06/18/760877/story.html
https://biblicisminstitute.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/jews-and-history-lies-galore/
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/pdf/The%20Zionist%20Plan%20for%20the%20Middle%20East.pdf
https://ashraf62.wordpress.com/2015/04/17/the-real-exodus-end-of-israel-3/
http://wikivisually.com/wiki/Ze%27ev_Herzog

Second external link from above article. You need to use Google translate for this article. The Israeli Govt loves to scrub inconvenient facts about their history.
http://www.hayadan.org.il/bible-no-evidence-291099/

To find a cure, one must address the root causes of the illness - Sloopyjoe

[Jul 18, 2017] Revisiting Saudi Arabia Zero Hedge

Jul 18, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
Revisiting Saudi Arabia Capitalist Exploits Jul 17, 2017 7:46 PM 0 SHARES www.CapitalistExploits.at

In May of last year I was attempting to figure out if there was an asymmetric play to be had in the land of sand and black gloop. There were a lot of moving pieces to deal with. I think it's worth revisiting but first it's worth reviewing what I thought just over a year ago. Much has subsequently happened so we can piece a little bit more together now.

Only Two Options For The Saudi Sheikhs A few years ago, when living in Phuket, Thailand, a group of Saudis stayed for a week's holiday in a neighboring villa. Outside of the religious and social confines of the land of black gold and endless sand, this group made a bunch of spoiled 5-year olds left to run amok in a candy shop without adult supervision look positively angelic. They were very visible, with an entourage of young Thai "ladies" and a fleet of Land Cruisers to haul them about. On one occasion, after my son witnessed one of the guys buying a beer and throwing a US$100 bill at the waiter, telling him to keep the change, he asked me how come they had so much money to waste. I explained that Saudi Arabia has two things in abundance: sand and oil. And though the world doesn't need sand as much as it does oil, they have grown very wealthy selling the oil to the rest of the world. Depending on whose numbers you take, somewhere between 75% and 85% of Saudi Arabia's revenues come from oil exports, and fully 90% of revenues come from oil and gas. Clearly the Kingdom is dependent on oil revenues in the same way that an infant is dependent on its mother's milk. And unless you've been living under a rock for the last few years, you'll have noticed that the price of oil has collapsed. Now, in a "normal" market the reduced revenues would manifest in a weaker local currency as demand for Riyals declines. But governments and central bankers don't believe in "normal" markets and so the Saudi riyal has been pegged at 3.75 to the US dollar since 1986. It's not hard to see a situation where Saudi Arabia may very well be forced to de-peg the currency to curb the fall in the country's FX reserves should low oil prices persist. Let's look at some of the potential catalysts for this. Could Yellen Kill The Peg? While the Sheiks contemplate how to deal with their predicament from diamond encrusted cars and golden toilets, across the pond we find that monetary policy in the US has been tightening albeit modestly. What's important to understand is that in order for Saudi Arabia to maintain its currency peg it needs to follow FED monetary policy. By following Yellen the Saudis land up sacrificing growth, and by diverging they sacrifice FX reserves in order to maintain the peg. Clearly neither are attractive propositions. According to the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), for every 100 basis point increase in the Saudi Interbank Offered Rate (SIBOR) this leads to a 90 basis point decline in GDP in the subsequent quarter, and a further 95 basis points in the following quarter. Falling GDP in a country where over 60% of the population are under 30 brings about its own set of problems. Political instability in the Kingdom has been rising and the royal family is increasingly fighting for survival. After all, they had the experience of watching the Arab Spring unfold on their flat screens. If, on the other hand, they opt not to follow the stumpy lady, the gap between interest rates in the US and Saudi Arabia will be quickly exploited by people like me as arbitrage opportunities open up. So this is what we're all looking at right now: SAMA will have to buy riyals in the open market by selling from its hoard of dollar reserves. Any rise in interest rates in the US will mean SAMA will have to further deplete reserves. As I have mentioned before, all pegs eventually break. The question is one of timing. How long do the Sheiks have under current oil prices? The falling oil price since mid-2014, has significantly reduced Saudi Arabian revenues. So much so that the scorecard for 2015 showed a deficit of $98bn, and SAMA is estimating a further $87bn deficit this year. The Saudi government have been funding this deficit by drawing down on forex reserves, spending $132bn in the year to January of this year. With current prices and current reserves they can easily last another 4 years. Some things I'm thinking about:

[Jul 07, 2017] The Power of Siberia gas pipeline, the first to connect Russia and China, will start pumping in December 2019, Gazprom said on Tuesday

Jul 07, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com
et Al , July 7, 2017 at 8:30 am
Oh, looky here! De Bong didn't feel the need to do any current research:

July 6

Financial Crimes: Gazprom confident of $400bn Chinese gas supply
https://www.ft.com/content/623c7396-60cc-11e7-91a7-502f7ee26895

State-owned gas monopoly ahead of schedule on politically important Siberian pipeline

The Power of Siberia gas pipeline, the first to connect Russia and China, will start pumping in December 2019, Gazprom said on Tuesday, paving the way for a 30-year supply agreement of more than 1.15tn cubic metres of gas for the Kremlin-controlled export monopoly

Mr Miller's affirmation is important. The project, which will cost Gazprom more than $55bn just to build the necessary infrastructure to get the gas flowing, is one of the most critical investments for Russia's energy sector, which has targeted a long-term strategic supply link with China to match its market penetration in Europe. ..

Power of Siberia is expected to run significantly below capacity in its first few years of operation, as China instead runs down its domestic gas reserves. The 30-year supply agreement is set to kick in around 2025 .
####

Plenty more at the link.

[Jul 07, 2017] Can quatar expand its natural gas export volumes?

Jul 07, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 | Jul 5, 2017 10:04:01 PM | 37

Here's last year's NatGas industrial review, so you can determine just how sane Qatar's move is. The link is to a modestly sized pdf file, http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwit-fbqxPPUAhVSxmMKHRY1CyAQFggiMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.igu.org%2Fdownload%2Ffile%2Ffid%2F2123&usg=AFQjCNHNu-nmLpatVthD04g0UWtOuREDMw

The report's loaded with info. Production can certainly be increased, but it's all the other infrastructure that's required for the market to expand, particularly regasification terminals.

somebody | Jul 5, 2017 5:33:36 PM | 18

By the way, there is a LNG price war between Qatar and the United States .
Anonymous | Jul 5, 2017 6:14:36 PM | 22
The Saudis tried to make a public IPO of Aramco a while back. This has fizzled, probably in recognition of the fact that Saudi is almost running on empty. One reason behind the Qatar lunacy might be a wish to take over Qatar's resources to keep Saudi solvent for a while at least.
mauisurfer | Jul 5, 2017 7:33:04 PM | 30
interview with Chas Freeman last week: Qatar Crisis Could Lead to War: Veteran US Diplomat

if you don't know who Chas is, please wiki was ambassador to Saudi, was Nixon's interpreter in China, that's right, he speaks mandarin and arabic not just knowledgeable, also very funny remember when AIPAC vetoed his appointment by Obama?

https://lobelog.com/qatar-crisis-could-lead-to-war-veteran-us-diplomat/

more Chas here: http://chasfreeman.net/category/speeches/

Grieved | Jul 5, 2017 9:26:42 PM | 35
@18 somebody

Yes, that's exactly how that Reuters story reads to me too. The prime target is the US. Extraordinarily powerful move by Qatar, using a weapon that it knows and owns completely and in massive scale, and with an understanding of the damage it can do to its enemies. Asymmetrical warfare indeed. Priceless.

~~

I'm really hoping that over the years, as Qatar rubs shoulders with the multi-polar world, it will reform itself to renounce and atone for its former support of terrorism. As I watch its moves in this situation I'm struck with a certain admiration. It would be nice to be able to root for it someday as one of the good guys.

Noirette | Jul 6, 2017 1:48:27 PM | 50
Unless the Saudis can reconfigure their economy and train their populous to do actual work, their kingdom will sink ..
karlof1 at 1

This is impossible. Laguerre at 10. > see also response from karlof1 at 20.

The curse of black gold + a rentier economy coupled with an authoritarian repressive State that enslaves the 'people.' The two are often soldered: dominating class capts the profits and co-opts slave labor, and pays off citizens with 'stipends.' Escaping or changing such a template is imho incredibly difficult or impossible in the case of KSA.

The rentier class, aka Royals and hangers-on is several tens of thousands of ppl, not detailed on wiki. (Comp. with US not the 1%, but the 20%..) In fact it is one of the problems of such arrangements, some gang of 'hangers on' has to be appeased and maintained, they have quite some power. Because the 'authoritarian' schema deploys in a clear top-down, to down further, a fixed ladder - way, and once some lower layer is stiffed, objections and obstructions may fly and richochet to the top. For the system to endure, these HAVE to be appeased.

A power sharing scheme like this also mandates that women are kept from acting in any way. The easiest and cheapest way to control half the population, plus all children, ask the MB, the Taliban, KSA.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-26/saudi-arabia-cancels-bonus-payment-for-state-employees-spa-says

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-39683592 (reverses pay cuts)

The crazed moves of the new Prince are vain attempts to escape the self-constructed trap. Floundering, flailing, about, considering that killing others, war, (e.g. Yemen), engaging in aggro (Qatar) might help - as that might please the USA, who encourages all aggro and sells arms, etc. Won't end well for KSA for sure all Internationals are wondering who will grab what when collapse it is.

[Jul 04, 2017] Why Ukranian economics now is flirting with disaster and why South Stream pipeline was derailed

fpif.org

Try to put aside, for the moment, the insufferable arrogance of American meddling in Europe's energy market, with a view to restricting its choice while – laughably – pretending it is broadening European energy options.

The readers and commenters of this blog will be well aware, since it has been a topic of discussion for years here, that a critical underpinning of the western plan to seize Ukraine and wrest it into the western orbit was the premise that Russia would be forced by simple momentum to go along with it. As long as events continued to unfold too quickly to get ahead of, Russia would have to help supply the sinews of its own destruction. And a big part of that was the assumption that Russia would help to finance Ukraine's transition to a powerful western fulcrum upon which to apply leverage against it, through continued trade with Ukraine and continued transit of Europe's energy supply through Ukraine's pipeline system.

But Russia slapped a trade embargo on most Ukrainian goods, and rescinded its tariff-free status as it became clear Brussels planned to use it to stovepipe European trade goods into the Russian market, through Ukraine – thus crushing domestic industries which would not be able to compete on economically-favorable terms. The armchair strategists nearly shit a brick when construction of the South Stream pipeline commenced, bypassing Ukraine and depriving it of about $2 billion annually in transit fees. But pressure ultimately forced Bulgaria to throw a wrench into the works, and the pipeline plans were shelved, to much victory dancing in the west. There was not quite as much happy-dancing in Bulgaria , but they were only ever a pawn anyway.

Sidebar for a moment, here; while the $2 Billion annually in transit fees is extremely important, Ukraine's pre-crisis GDP was $163 Billion. The funds realized for transit fees are important because (a) Russia has to pay them and (b) the west will have to come up with the equivalent in aid if Ukraine loses out on them. But the real value intrinsic to Ukraine as a transit country is its physical reality as an interface for Russian gas transit to Europe – what is a bridge can be easily turned into a wall. Any time Washington thinks Russia needs some more shit on its face, Ukraine can be prodded to announce a doubling of its transit fees, or to kick off some other dispute which the popular press will adroitly spin to make Russia appear to be an unreliable supplier. Therefore, it is essential to western strategy that significant amounts of Russian gas continue to transit Ukraine. Sufficiently so that Europe continues to evolve ever-more-desperate contingency plans in order to keep receiving gas through the country which was known to have provoked the previous shutoff of European supplies by siphoning Europe-bound gas for its own use. That's despite the assurances of Germany and western partners of Gazprom in the Nord Stream line that it will mean cheaper gas prices for Europe.

[Jul 03, 2017] Mohammed ben Salmane takes power at Riyadh

Notable quotes:
"... Mohammed ben Nayef Al Saoud was considered as the US's man. He has been trained first in Oregon, then later by the FBI and Scotland Yard. He obtained results in struggles against Al-Qaeda dissidents. With his removal, the hopes of the Nayef branch coming to the throne have come to an end. ..."
"... Mohammed ben Salmane does not have an academic training. At the very most, he is the holder of a baccalaureate awarded by a local school, and we do not know if you actually need to study to obtain this qualification. ..."
"... Washington had approved the chosen solution to the issue of succession. This solution had been adopted by 31 of 34 members of the allegiance council (the Family Council). It skips two generations. Henceforth, Mohammad ben Salmane is placing young people at the head of different administrations of the country, a country where the average age of the population is 27 years. ..."
Jul 03, 2017 | www.voltairenet.org

King Salmane ben Abdelaziz Al Saoud (81 years old) has removed from office 57 year old Emir Mohammed ben Nayef Al Saoud. The latter was the Crown Prince, Vice-Prime Minister and the Minister of Home Affairs, all at the same time.

De facto, the King's son, Prince Mohammed ben Salmane Al Saoud (31 years), will become the new Crown Prince.

Mohammed ben Nayef Al Saoud was considered as the US's man. He has been trained first in Oregon, then later by the FBI and Scotland Yard. He obtained results in struggles against Al-Qaeda dissidents. With his removal, the hopes of the Nayef branch coming to the throne have come to an end.

Mohammed ben Salmane does not have an academic training. At the very most, he is the holder of a baccalaureate awarded by a local school, and we do not know if you actually need to study to obtain this qualification. He made his political debut as the assistant to his father, first the Governor of Riyadh and then the Minister of Defense. When Salmane becomes king in 2015, Mohammed succeeded his father as the Minister of Defense and engaged his country's troops in the disastrous conflict in Yemen. Having royal power at his disposition, he launched a vast project for economic reform (Vision 2030), which ushered in the privatization of Aramco (the country's only source of revenue) and his country's development beyond the oil sector. He is particularly well known for his jet-set life-style and for buying a yacht, Serene, for half a billion euro.

It seems that King Salmane should shortly abdicate, leaving his son in charge. Thus the difficult question of succession is provisionally settled, in a country where up until now was governed by a rule requiring the oldest son of the dynasty's founder to accede to power. Thus the current king, King Salmane, is the 25th of Abdelaziz ben Abderrahmane Al Saoud's 53 sons.

At King Abdallah's death (January 2015), his half brother, Prince Moukrine ben Abdelaziz Al Saoud, had been appointed Crown Prince. But three months later (April 2015), he had been rudely cut out of the order of succession, something quite unprecedented. He was replaced by Prince Mohammed ben Nayef, who in turn has just been removed from the picture.

As a consolation prize, the Nayefs secured that a son-in-law of Prince Mohammed ben Nayef replaces him at the Ministry of Home Affairs. It would be a son-in-law and not a son, because Prince Mohammed ben Nayef did not have male progeny.

The next king, Mohammed, could rule for about fifty years. But were he to die, then his eldest son, also a minor, would succeed him.

Washington had approved the chosen solution to the issue of succession. This solution had been adopted by 31 of 34 members of the allegiance council (the Family Council). It skips two generations. Henceforth, Mohammad ben Salmane is placing young people at the head of different administrations of the country, a country where the average age of the population is 27 years.

[Jun 30, 2017] Trump, MBS, and the Noxious Saudi Relationship The American Conservative

Jun 30, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky also judge Mohammed bin Salman's record to be very poor:

But one thing is already stunningly clear when it comes to his handling of foreign policy: In two short years, as the deputy crown prince and defense minister, MBS has driven the Kingdom into a series of royal blunders in Yemen, Qatar and Iran, and he has likely over promised what Saudi Arabia is able and willing to do on the Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking front. Far from demonstrating judgment and experience, he's proven to be reckless and impulsive, with little sense of how to link tactics and strategy. And sadly, he's managed to implicate and drag the new Trump administration into some of these misadventures, too.

Miller and Sokolsky are right about MBS' shoddy record, but their warning to the Trump administration is very likely too late. They urge the administration to rethink its position before "its Middle East policy becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Saudi Arabia," but I fear that that already happened at the Riyadh summit. Unfortunately, some top U.S. officials are only just now realizing it and don't know how to stop it. There could be some belated efforts to undo this, but Trump isn't interested. He doesn't seem to see anything wrong with identifying the U.S. so closely with the Saudis, and he doesn't see their recklessness and destructive behavior for what they are. Since he is impulsive, careless, and has poor judgment, it isn't surprising that he has such an affinity for the aging Saudi despot and his favorite incompetent son. On top of all that, MBS is a short-sighted, foolish hard-liner on Iran, and as far as we can tell Trump is much the same, so we should expect them to be on the same page.

There's no question that every foreign policy initiative associated with MBS has "turned into a hot mess," but this has been obvious in Yemen for the last two years. If no one in the Trump administration noticed that before, what is going to make them realize it now? The authors are also right that Trump's decision "to side with Saudi Arabia in its conflict with Qatar and in Yemen is akin to pouring gasoline on a fire," but until very recently uncritical backing of the Saudis in their regional adventurism enjoyed broad bipartisan support that helped make it possible for things to get this bad. There were very few in Washington who thought that pouring gasoline on the fire was the wrong thing to do, and for more than two years the U.S. poured a lot of gas on the fire in Yemen that has been consuming thousands of lives and putting millions at risk of starvation.

My point here is that Trump has pressed ahead with uncritical support for the Saudis because that has been the conventional hawkish position in Washington for years before he got there. He is catering to the existing warped desire to provide even more support to Riyadh than Obama did. It was conventional wisdom among many foreign policy pundits and analysts that Obama had not been "pro-Saudi" enough, and Trump apparently bought into that view. Trump's enthusiastic embrace of the Saudis is the result of endlessly berating Obama for not giving the Saudis absolutely everything they wanted.

There is now more open opposition to at least some aspects of U.S. policy in Yemen, as we saw with the recent close vote on a Saudi arms sale. The Qatar crisis has prompted more criticism of the Saudis from our government than two years of destroying and starving an entire country. Yet there is still remarkably little scrutiny of the underlying U.S.-Saudi relationship despite growing evidence that the kingdom has become a regional menace and a major liability to the U.S. Until that changes and until Trump's excessive fondness for the Saudi leadership starts to become a major political problem for him, pleading with the arsonist's enabler to put out fires will have little effect.

[Jun 27, 2017] The USA is sucessfully sabotaging Russian and try to secure its own shipping LNG to europe while Russia do not have alternative consumers comparable to EU, althout China and India shipments will grow dramatically

Notable quotes:
"... icebreaking LNG Carrier ..."
"... Yamal is projected to double Russia's share of the growing global LNG market by the time it reaches full capacity of 16.5m tonnes a year - equivalent to more than 80 per cent of China's annual demand - by 2021. Construction is three-quarters complete and production from the first phase of the project is due to commence by the end of this year. ..."
"... More than 95 per cent of Yamal's expected output has already been sold through 15 to 20 year contracts, with customers mostly in Asia and Europe. ..."
Jun 27, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com
Northern Star , June 23, 2017 at 11:55 am
https://www.yahoo.com/news/putin-launches-deep-water-phase-turkstream-gas-pipeline-143410466.html

One of the best comment people on Yahoo:

"oldgeekMA 2 hours ago

Truth is Russia has been looking for an excuse to get out of the business of Shipping Natural Gas to the West and the South, altogether and these US Sanctions and EU Complaints about Gazprom Pipeline Construction, may just be the out they have been looking for. In Jan 2016, Russia completed 7 Massive High-Pressure Gas Pipelines, 2 to India and 5 to China. The ones to India make 4 total Gas Lines to India, but the 5 to China are the first time China, has had access to Russian Natural Gas. The contracts India and China signed with Gazprom are 50 years, and the price of NG starts at more than double the highest rate Gazprom charges in Europe, the icing on the cake however is that the currency is not US Paper Promissory Notes(Petro Dollars), but Gold Bullion. At full capacity those pipelines can use every single NG resource Gazprom, has at the present time, and all future NG resources. So, Gazprom would be foolish not to want to cut all off its Western and Southern pipelines off, and divert Maximum Flow East. In addition to these NG Pipelines, there are Crude Oil and Diesel pipelines under construction, going to China and India – Completion date scheduled for between November 2017 and January 2018. Chinese and Indian Construction Crews completed their internal distribution pipeline networks in 2016, and have 7 Oil Refineries in various stages of completion. -– All American III Percenter and Combat Disabled US Veteran"

Now..remind me what was this stuff about 'Murica shipping LNG to europe???
LOL!!!!

https://ads.pubmatic.com/AdServer/js/showad.js#PIX&kdntuid=1&p=156204

marknesop , June 24, 2017 at 5:27 pm
That would indeed be delightful if there were even the whiff of truth about it; but, unfortunately, there is not. Europe is still Russia's most important gas market by far. Numbers on the Russia-China gas deal are hard to come by and reporters who quote the price China will pay are just guessing because nobody has officially disclosed that figure and will not; it is strictly confidential.

However, the China-vs-EU figures are not even close; starting next year, Russia will export 30-38 BcM annually to China, and that might go as high as double as the agreement evolves. So, say 65 BcM annually, in a couple of years. That's still far less than half what Gazprom exports annually to Europe – 178.3 BcM in 2016, a significant jump over the previous year's 158.6 BcM.

Moreover, nearly all the increases in the past decade have been to imports by western Europe. Despite all the preaching in the media, the only countries which seem to be seriously trying to wean themselves off of Russian gas – with little to limited success, it must be said – are eastern European countries. One of the biggest yappers in the west is the UK but the UK went from zero imports of Russian gas in 2003 to the fourth-biggest European importer in 2013 .

That little quick-reference pocket guide is actually chock-full of useful facts which you can whip out and quote whenever some pea-brained bucket-mouthed know-nothing is trying to blizzard you with blue-sky bullshit. Here's a few:

1. All the blather and angst about reducing Europe's dependency on Russian gas imports conveniently ignores one buzzing fly in the ointment – long-term contracts. Of 178.6 BcM imported by Europe in 2013, 166 BcM of it was under 30-year contracts. By far the most of it. And you know what would happen if the EU broke a contract in order to reduce its imports, even if it could practically do so under conditions in which domestic sources of supply are rapidly drying up, which it can't. Also, contract supplies are by definition sanctions-exempt.

2. Home-grown Shale gas is not going to ride to the rescue. Even if Europe could tap supplies which are not sour with so much nitrogen that you can't even burn it, in order to reach shale gas supplies of only 28 BcM annually Europe would have to drill 800-1000 new wells every year for 10 years. Let's see that spun as fiscally viable, or sensible in any way, shape or form.

3. Blabber about the Southern Gas Corridor was always nothing more than that – supplies from Azerbaijan to Europe were never expected to total more than 30 BcM, about what Russia expects to export to China starting in 2018, and it would have taken until 2030 to reach that capacity.

4. LNG actually holds the best promise of undercutting Russian supply, and Europe's regassification terminals actually could handle more than the combined total of Russian imports now; 200 BcM. But LNG supplies to Europe depend entirely on whether they can be profitable, and all current objective studies find that Russia can keep LNG away as long as it likes, simply by consistently pricing its pipeline supplies lower than LNG. Given what it would cost Uncle Sam to get his supplies to market, Gazprom can still easily do that and turn a handsome profit.

https://ads.pubmatic.com/AdServer/js/showad.js#PIX&kdntuid=1&p=156204

Cortes , June 23, 2017 at 1:41 pm
Japanese need to diversify energy imports to benefit RF?

http://journal-neo.org/2017/06/22/japan-regards-russia-as-a-reliable-hydrocarbons-exporter/

et Al , June 24, 2017 at 11:25 am
I thought there was a plan to pipeline NG from Nakhoda to Japan? What happened to that, or was it simply to be an LNG terminal but got shifted?
marknesop , June 24, 2017 at 5:43 pm
I'm glad you brought that up; quite apart from the very interesting information contained in the article itself, it is a springboard to a larger discussion – is Russia equally committed to reducing its dependency on European pipelines as the Europeans are? Some say yes: Russia's $27 Billion icebreaking LNG Carrier project is an eye-opener which has been more or less entirely left out of energy discussions. And its target market is Asia .

Yamal is projected to double Russia's share of the growing global LNG market by the time it reaches full capacity of 16.5m tonnes a year - equivalent to more than 80 per cent of China's annual demand - by 2021. Construction is three-quarters complete and production from the first phase of the project is due to commence by the end of this year.

More than 95 per cent of Yamal's expected output has already been sold through 15 to 20 year contracts, with customers mostly in Asia and Europe.

et Al , June 25, 2017 at 8:04 am
That's hardcore! Thanks Mark. So the Chinese stepped in to take up the slack created by US sanctions against Timchenko's Novatek part of the project. Another US epic fail.

It's curious that the West's interpretation of 'globalization' hasn't turned out as expected. They saw it as western globo-corporations buying in around the world, but globalization has naturally progressed as 'multi-polarization' of global power, away from the US & the West's dominance. The Chinese stepping in is a perfect example. It shows that Russia has real options which it is building and if needs be, at some point in the future, tell the 'No thanks!'.

[Jun 26, 2017] Saudi Hijinks, US Policy Stinks

Notable quotes:
"... Trump is capricious, ignorant and impetuous. His understanding of international relations and history seems woefully inadequate. He also appears to be unscrupulous and reckless. It's all about making money that matters to him. ..."
"... From the earliest opportunity, the Saudi prince wheedled his way into Trump's court. He was greeted in the White House back in March, one of the first foreign leaders to do so. Then two months later, Trump ventured on his maiden foreign trip as president in which he made Saudi Arabia his first stop. ..."
"... The power-struggle antics among the absolute rulers of the House of Saud have promoted a prince who has a reckless outsized ego and lust for dominance. President Donald Trump seems cut from the same cloth. ..."
"... · 5 days ago ..."
marknesop.wordpress.com
The United States' decades-long "special relationship" with Saudi Arabia has always carried major downsides. Yes, the Saudis are a pillar in maintaining the American petrodollar system to prevent the collapse of the US economy; and, yes, the Saudi rulers are lavish spenders on US weapons, which props up the Pentagon military-industrial complex – another lifeline for American capitalism.

However, the Saudi rulers are also longtime sponsors of Wahhabi fundamentalism which has injected deadly sectarian poison into the Middle East region and beyond. Washington is complicit in fomenting sectarianism through its relationship with Saudi Arabia, and the price for that Faustian pact is a world in turmoil from terrorism.

Donald Trump's presidency is an unfortunate marriage of interests with Saudi Arabia. Trump is capricious, ignorant and impetuous. His understanding of international relations and history seems woefully inadequate. He also appears to be unscrupulous and reckless. It's all about making money that matters to him.

From the earliest opportunity, the Saudi prince wheedled his way into Trump's court. He was greeted in the White House back in March, one of the first foreign leaders to do so. Then two months later, Trump ventured on his maiden foreign trip as president in which he made Saudi Arabia his first stop. Trump was royally received by the House of Saud with sword-waving ceremony . And then the Saudis signed record arms deal with the US worth up to $350 billion – the biggest ever in history.

It was during Trump's Saudi visit that the policy of increased hostility towards Iran and isolation of erstwhile Saudi and American ally Qatar was hatched. This reckless, clueless embrace of Saudi Arabia by Trump has led to a dangerous escalation in tensions across the Middle East, which are seen playing out in Syria and towards Iran and Russia.

Trump the tycoon and the Saudi upstart-prince are a duo who are plunging the world into danger of all-out war. The pair are a match made in hell, both being rash and irresponsible in their behavior.

Nobody outside Saudi Arabia had heard of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman until his father become king in January 2015 on the death of King Abdullah. In the space of two years, the young prince has been made defense minister and de facto chief of Saudi's oil economy. Now, this week he has been shunted into becoming heir to the throne, sidelining his elder cousin and nephew to the king.

The precocious prince has only enjoyed this meteoric rise in the House of Saud because of his father's favoritism. Other more senior royals feel ousted and see the new Crown Prince as undeserving of his assigned authority. In short, he is out of his depth.

In the Saudi succession rules, the royal line is supposed to pass from brother to brother. There are still surviving brothers of the Saudi founding king, Ibn Saud, who have been removed from the succession. The present King Salman first broke the rules when he made his nephew Mohammed bin Nayef the Crown Prince back in April 2015. Now he has broken the rules again by making his own son the heir and unceremoniously pushing bin Nayef to the side. Such are the hijinks of despots.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is the architect behind the disastrous war in Yemen, which is turning into a Vietnam-style quagmire for Saudi Arabia, costing the kingdom billions of dollars every month. He is also reportedly the architect behind the policy of renewed hostility towards Iran. In an interview before Trump's Saudi trip, Mohammed bin Salman said he would never talk to Iran and even threatened to unleash violence on Iranian territory. That threat was followed by the deadly terror attack in Tehran on June 7 in which up to 17 people were killed by Daesh suicide squads.

The hiked-up hostile policy towards Iran has, in turn, led to Saudi Arabia blockading Qatar and causing a bitter rift in the Persian Gulf because Qatar is perceived as being too soft on Iran.

The power-struggle antics among the absolute rulers of the House of Saud have promoted a prince who has a reckless outsized ego and lust for dominance. President Donald Trump seems cut from the same cloth. Courting the young Saudi heir may be lucrative for American weapons-dealing and no doubt the Trump business brand in the oil-rich region. But the consequences of such capricious and clueless "leadership" are throwing the region and the world into increasing conflict.

This week the US State Department flatly contradicted Trump's policy of supporting the Saudi-led blockade on Qatar . It said it was mystified that the Saudis had not presented any evidence to justify the blockade. This is just one example where Trump is being made to look a total fool by following stupid Saudi policy – policy that is made by a prince who has gathered a record for disaster in several other spheres.

What a double act. Saudi despotism marries Trump cluelessness. And the world is reaping the calamity of clowns.

This article was first published by Sputnik

Gustavo Caldas · 5 days ago

An attack from Saudi Arabia to Iran will mean the demise of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia . And the intervention of the USA in support of Saudi Arabia would mean a war of the USA against the SCO (Shangai Cooperation Organization). Those are BAD odds.

guest01 · 5 days ago

Quote from article: "America's deepening and reckless military involvement in Syria is a result of Trump cozying up with the Saudi despots."

America's deepening and reckless military involvement in Syria is a result of Trump obeying Israel's orders. America's military was recklessly involved in Syria long before Trump became president. The chaos in Syria was instigated by USA. US military trained, armed and supported terrorists, bombed Syrian military and civilians and established military base in Syria during Obama presidency.

Trump is "cozying up with the Saudi despots" because he got his orders from Netanyahu and Israelis. Before he began "cozying up with the Saudi despots", Trump ordered shooting missiles into Syrian military airport because his Zionist Jewish daughter and son-in-law told him to do so. If Netanyahu and/or his Zionist Jew son-in-law Jared Kushner were to order Trump to bomb Saudi Arabia, Trump would bomb Saudi Arabia.

All along, Trump was blaming Saudis for 9/11 inside job attacks and was threatening Saudis that they should be coming up with more money to USA just as he expected NATO members to pay for US wars costs. He was badmouthing Saudis until he got his orders from Netanyahu and Israel.

Saudis are puppets of USA; Saudis do exactly what USA wants them to do and USA does exactly what Israel wants it to do. Note that the Saudi demands against Qatar are to distance itself from all who resist Israel, namely, Lebanese Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran and Syria. Also, Israel was very pleased that Trump signed billions of dollars worth of weapons agreement with Saudi Arabia because these weapons will be used against Israel's perceived enemies and some will be given to terrorists Israel supports in that region.

Israel rules and Trump wants to make Israel great.

[Jun 25, 2017] Capturing world markets for US LNG exporters is a major driver of US policy

Notable quotes:
"... The U.S. is on track to produce 10 million barrels of oil per day on average next year, according to a forecast from the Energy Information Administration -- a milestone that would shatter a record set in 1970. ..."
"... Although "dominance" may be hyperbole in that context as well -- given totals that exporters such as Qatar are achieving -- capturing world markets for US LNG exporters is a major driver of US policy. Ukraine, the nonsense about Russian interference in US elections, and the new Senate sanctions against European companies working with Russia on the Baltic Sea pipeline are three cases in point. ..."
Jun 25, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org
likklemore | Jun 25, 2017 4:57:18 PM | 48

It's All About Oil and Gas and here is Trump a -twittering:

Bloomberg: Trump to Call for U.S. 'Dominance' in Global Energy Production

Link

Trump is set to deliver a speech at the Energy Department on Thursday focused almost entirely on energy exports -- describing how the foreign sale of U.S. natural gas, oil and coal helps strengthen the country's influence globally, bolster international alliances, and help stabilize global markets. Energy Secretary Rick Perry may touch on similar themes when he speaks Tuesday with analysts and executives at the U.S. Energy Information Administration conference in Washington.[..]

Ironically, some of Trump's policies could exacerbate the market challenges facing oil, gas and coal, by spurring more domestic production at a time when a supply glut is already suppressing prices.

The U.S. is on track to produce 10 million barrels of oil per day on average next year, according to a forecast from the Energy Information Administration -- a milestone that would shatter a record set in 1970.

'Dominance' Sought

Trump's theme of "energy dominance" marks an evolution. For years, the catch phrase of choice has been "energy independence," as politicians and industry officials sought to highlight how a new era of abundance was helping the U.S. wean itself from foreign sources of oil and natural gas.

That was in turn a dramatic change from the 1970s, when former President Jimmy Carter turned down the White House thermostats and used a televised address in February 1977 to urge consumers to conserve energy amid a permanent "shortage." After that, federal energy policy became rooted in the view that oil and gas were in short supply.[.]

"Trump is reorienting our national rhetoric toward 'dominance,'" said Kevin Book, analyst with ClearView Energy Partners LLC. "Captives crave independence; competitors strive to dominate. It's a shift from getting by to getting ahead."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Reminds of the old song – "Dream, dream, dream"

Forecast is 10 million bbls per day 2018 and we are proposing dominance in global energy production!! What a twit.

Are the bf Saudis not afraid? Iran, Russia?

somebody | Jun 25, 2017 5:21:44 PM | 49
48) Yep, it is funny. According to above quoted US Energy Information administration the US consumed 19.68 million barrels of petroleum products per day in 2016.
Berry Friesen | Jun 25, 2017 6:27:06 PM | 51

48 & 49:

Mainly the reference to "dominance" applies to liquefied natural gas. Comparing LNG exports during the first 3 months of 2015 with the first 3 months of 2017 shows an increase by a factor of 30.

Although "dominance" may be hyperbole in that context as well -- given totals that exporters such as Qatar are achieving -- capturing world markets for US LNG exporters is a major driver of US policy. Ukraine, the nonsense about Russian interference in US elections, and the new Senate sanctions against European companies working with Russia on the Baltic Sea pipeline are three cases in point.

likklemore | Jun 25, 2017 7:06:09 PM | 53

Thank you somebody @ 49 for the added input.

@ 51 Berry Friesen

Mainly the reference to "dominance" applies to liquified natural gas. Comparing LNG exports during the first 3 months of 2015 with the first 3 months of 2017 shows an increase by a factor of 30.

.[capturing] world markets for US LNG exporters is a major driver of US policy.

My comment was it's on someone's wish list and dreaming on.

Do you have any idea the cost to set up LNG terminals and cost to transport from US to global - for starters, to compete with Russia, Iran, Qatar and others in the EU and Asian markets?

Pricing a factor: It's gone cold. The oil price crash has eliminated the discount U.S. LNG has to world prices

jfl | Jun 25, 2017 8:03:55 PM | 54

@53 lm

from your bloomberg link ...

Now spot LNG in Asia has fallen to just $5.95, while Pertamina would pay $6.86 for its U.S. LNG even before shipping it halfway across the world.
geostrategy ... if ya gotta ask how much it costs, you can't afford it.

Brad | Jun 25, 2017 8:33:14 PM | 55

@53
http://www.thenational.ae/business/energy/qatar-lifts-development-moratorium-on-worlds-biggest-gas-field

somebody | Jun 25, 2017 9:47:57 PM | 58

53 add Germany and Austria

Austrian Federal Chancellor Christian Kern (SPÖ) and German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) commented as follows today (15 June) on the approval by the United States Senate of legislation regarding sanctions against Russia:

...

It is in the common interest of the EU and the US to take resolute and unified action with a view to resolving the conflict in Ukraine.

We cannot, however, accept the threat of illegal extraterritorial sanctions being imposed on European companies that are participating in efforts to expand Europe's energy supply network!

The draft bill of the US is surprisingly candid about what is actually at stake, namely selling American liquefied natural gas and ending the supply of Russian natural gas to the European market. The bill aims to protect US jobs in the natural gas and petroleum industries.

Political sanctions should not in any way be tied to economic interests. Threatening to impose penalties on companies in Germany, Austria and other European countries with regard to their business in the United States if they participate in, or fund, natural gas projects involving Russia, such as Nord Stream 2, impacts European-American relations in a new and very negative way. This is about the competitiveness of our energy-intensive industries, and about thousands of jobs. We therefore strongly support the efforts of the US Department of State to amend this draft bill.

[Jun 25, 2017] The story about about the legendary Qatari pipeline is probably British fake

Notable quotes:
"... A pipeline through Syria would have been a great boost to national economy for a number of years & could raise a port of the country to one of global importance, just at a time that Turkey started turning the spigot of Euphrates off ..."
"... Consider that Qatar would have been a captive ally for Syria, a commodity rather in short supply for that country. The best part of it is, perhaps, that Syria presumably had a natural aversion to the transit fees. ..."
"... There is another interesting story in this regard, which is to do with (at least) three rounds of exploration for gas in Saudi Arabia, all failed, and the special need for gas to service its petrochemical industry. If memory serves, the reason is they want to upgrade the heavy crude portion of their production, which has steadily been growing, and which the Saudis might have to sell as bunker oil at great discount, if they fail to find gas. ..."
"... the Qataris were told in no uncertain terms that their gas 'had to remain in the peninsula' (Arabian subcontinent) for consumption, to serve the oil sector. ..."
"... If this is right (honestly, I do not know), it might explain quite a bit about the rivalries of the extremist Moslem clergy, and their activities both within the Moslem world and abroad, why not, even developments in Europe & the States. ..."
Jun 25, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

atVec | Jun 23, 2017 10:14:39 PM 52

|Jen@31 writes about the legendary Qatari pipeline. That story made its appearance early in the conflict, and if anybody knows its origin, I would be keen to be let know.
That story goes that Assad would not let Qatar have its pipeline because, presumably, Russians wanted to retain their stranglehold on European gas supplies.

The subtext is that those Russians must be very hard task masters and Assad, the lowliest of low lives, a terrified thug. And when the troubles started, Assad did not go back to the Qataris to discuss the matter over.

Sorry, I cannot square that.

A pipeline through Syria would have been a great boost to national economy for a number of years & could raise a port of the country to one of global importance, just at a time that Turkey started turning the spigot of Euphrates off (this is a sense I have, do not know if it is right) & a protracted drought and economic hardship all hit the country at the same time.

Consider that Qatar would have been a captive ally for Syria, a commodity rather in short supply for that country. The best part of it is, perhaps, that Syria presumably had a natural aversion to the transit fees.

There is another interesting story in this regard, which is to do with (at least) three rounds of exploration for gas in Saudi Arabia, all failed, and the special need for gas to service its petrochemical industry. If memory serves, the reason is they want to upgrade the heavy crude portion of their production, which has steadily been growing, and which the Saudis might have to sell as bunker oil at great discount, if they fail to find gas.

The story was run in the English papers of the Gulf circa 2012, whereby the Qataris were told in no uncertain terms that their gas 'had to remain in the peninsula' (Arabian subcontinent) for consumption, to serve the oil sector.

Once I chanced on an article on the educational proclivities of the thousands of the Saudi princes. Any guess? Yes, a good portion of them goes in for religious studies! Somehow I do not think they aspire to be lowly priests; but if not, where might they wish to have their sees? What if the other principalities of the Gulf have nobilities with similar outlooks & hopes?

If this is right (honestly, I do not know), it might explain quite a bit about the rivalries of the extremist Moslem clergy, and their activities both within the Moslem world and abroad, why not, even developments in Europe & the States.

Regards, Vec.

Lozion | Jun 23, 2017 10:24:34 PM | 53

@36 & @31 I think you are both right. The Pipelinistan angle is a major part of this feud.

A probable change of heart from Qatar who has seen the light that no regime change will happen in Syria therefore making a Fars --> Iraq --> Syria -> Lebanon LNG pipeline a realistic endeavor is causing panic in KSA/US/IS who are trying to pressure Qatar to back-off from any deals with Iran..

If Turkey is firm on protecting Qatar then the ultimatum will come to pass and be null and void..

Don Bass | Jun 24, 2017 1:34:34 AM | 57

@ Vic

Y'know, when I read a comment such as yours: "~ I don't reckon its got anything to do with a pipeline ~" I immediately think of that old trope: Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open ones mouth and remove all doubts"

Vic: instead of visiting here to blatantly display your ignorance, how about more usefully spending that typing time to research the topic, hmmm?

The Imperial drive to crush Syria has been in play since the early 1980s, when Assad senior was in power.

Here's a link: http://www.globalresearch.ca/1983-cia-document-reveals-plan-to-destroy-syria-foreshadows-current-crisis/5577785

And another http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/07/57-years-ago-u-s-britain-approved-use-islamic-extremists-topple-syrian-government.html

And another http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/03/05/the-redirection

And here's your bonus link, cause I'm feeling the karma burst of sharing http://humansarefree.com/2014/09/exposing-covert-origins-of-isis.html

Now, go and do your homework: you may be able to raise your F to a C, for a pass grade, once you've done some actual reading on the topic.

[Jun 24, 2017] The Saudi-Qatar spat - the reconciliation offer to be refused>. Qater will move closer to Turkey

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... "In my view this is a deep power struggle between Qatar and Saudi Arabia that has little to do with stated reasons regarding Muslim Brotherhood and Iran. The action to isolate Qatar was clearly instigated during US President Trump's recent visit in Riyadh where he pushed the unfortunate idea of a Saudi-led "Arab NATO" to oppose Iranian influence in the region. ..."
"... Moreover, Qatar was acting increasingly independent of the heavy Wahhabite hand of Saudi Arabia and threatening Saudi domination over the Gulf States. Kuwait, Oman, as well as non-Gulf Turkey were coming closer to Qatar and even Pakistan now may think twice about joining a Saudi-led "Arab NATO". Bin Salman has proven a disaster as a defense strategist, as proven in the Yemen debacle. ..."
"... Kuwait and Oman are urgently trying to get Saudi to backdown on this, but that is unlikely as behind Saudi Arabia stands the US and promises of tens of billions of dollars in US arms. ..."
"... This foolish US move to use their proxy, in this case Riyadh, to discipline those not "behaving" according to Washington wishes, could well be the turning point, the point of collapse of US remaining influence in the entire Middle East in the next several years." ..."
"... KSA could not have taken this course of action all by itself. Someone somewhere must be egging them on. But who? The US seems to have no interest in a Saudi-Qatari conflict. Israel might, but only if said conflict is resolved in Saudi favor. ..."
"... I am therefore coming to the conclusion that there is no longer clear leadership of US policy and there are different factions within the US government. The white house and CIA are supporting the Saudis while the Pentagon supports Qatar. This is just a hunch, but it seems like it could make sense. Perhaps this is what happens when a government is in a state of decompensation. ..."
"... It is mind boggling that a fundamental reshaping of the Middle East was most likely put in motion by Trump completely oblivious of what he was doing shooting from the hip on his Saudi trip. ..."
"... Outside of an outright invasion of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, it is hard to see this as a once in a life time geopolitical gift to Russia, Iran, Turkey, Syria, and Iran. ..."
"... Now when July 3 comes and goes, Saudi Arabia will look completely impotent in the eyes of the countries in the region. ..."
"... Gaddafi's speech to the Arab League in Syria 2008 was so prescient ..."
"... "We [the Arabs] are the enemies of one another I'm sad to say, we deceive one another, we gloat at the misfortune of one another, and we conspire against one another, and an Arab's enemy is another Arab's friend. ..."
"... I quite like the WWI parallel. Trump as Kaiser Wilhelm? There certainly are some striking similarities in character. ..."
"... "...gifted, with a quick understanding, sometimes brilliant, with a taste for the modern,-technology, industry, science -- but at the same time superficial, hasty, restless, unable to relax, without any deeper level of seriousness, without any desire for hard work or drive to see things through to the end, without any sense of sobriety, for balance and boundaries, or even for reality and real problems, uncontrollable and scarcely capable of learning from experience, desperate for applause and success, -- as Bismarck said early on in his life, he wanted every day to be his birthday-romantic, sentimental and theatrical, unsure and arrogant, with an immeasurably exaggerated self-confidence and desire to show off, a juvenile cadet, who never took the tone of the officers' mess out of his voice, and brashly wanted to play the part of the supreme warlord, full of panicky fear of a monotonous life without any diversions, and yet aimless, pathological in his hatred against his English mother." ..."
"... It also stands to reason if you simply consider Saudi's importance regionally: A lot is made of Iran's threat to Saudi influence, but Turkey - thanks in part to considerable investment by Qatar currently while investment from elsewhere has reduced massively -- is also very threatening to Saudi's influence, especially on the religious front. ..."
"... Iran representing Shia interests in the region and Turkey representing Sunni interests is not a difficult future to imagine. It would of course grate with Saudi Arabia given that it had poured vast amounts of money into the Turkish economy and the diyanet. ..."
"... Hassan Nasrallah has given his annual International Al-Quds Day speech with plenty of fire aimed at the usual suspects. The Daily Star reports: 'Nasrallah accused Saudi Arabia of "paving way for Israel" in the region. ..."
"... Actually, I hope for many more benefits will show up from this quarrel than improved profits for Iranian produce growers. It is worthwhile to observe that Dubai, a component emirate of UAE, has gigantic economic links with Iran, which must be tolerated by overlords from Abu Dhabi: they had to bail out their cousins after real estate collapse, so they have big money stake in Dubai being prosperous. Potentially, Dubai and especially the hapless vegetable and dairy producers in KSA can lose a bundle (the latter had to invest a lot in farms for Qatari market, it is not like letting cows graze on abundant grasslands plus planting cucumbers and waiting for the rain to water them). Aljazeera and Muslim Brotherhood are more irritating to KSA and UAE than an occasional polite missive to Iran. ..."
"... Qatar opened the Middle East's first centre for clearing transactions in the Chinese yuan on Tuesday, saying it would boost trade and investment between China and Gulf Arab economies. ..."
"... The only hope for Saudi Arabia is to re-denominate oil sales in multiple currencies such as the WTO drawing rights, of course based on another formula, perhaps based on the countries that purchase the most oil. This would be the only way for the royalty to gain longevity as rulers of the country. Any other scenario spells disaster. ..."
Jun 23, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org
Pft | Jun 23, 2017 8:43:28 PM | 45
William Engdahls views. "In my view this is a deep power struggle between Qatar and Saudi Arabia that has little to do with stated reasons regarding Muslim Brotherhood and Iran. The action to isolate Qatar was clearly instigated during US President Trump's recent visit in Riyadh where he pushed the unfortunate idea of a Saudi-led "Arab NATO" to oppose Iranian influence in the region.

The Saudi move, clearly instigated by Prince Bin Salman, Minister of Defense, was not about going against terrorism. If it were about terrorism, bin Salman would have to arrest himself and most of his Saudi cabinet as one of the largest financiers of terrorism in the world, and shut all Saudi-financed madrasses around the world, from Pakistan to Bosnia-Herzgovina to Kosovo. Another factor according to informed sources in Holland is that Washington wanted to punish Qatar for seeking natural gas sales with China priced not in US dollars but in Renminbi. That apparently alarmed Washington, as Qatar is the world's largest LNG exporter and most to Asia.

Moreover, Qatar was acting increasingly independent of the heavy Wahhabite hand of Saudi Arabia and threatening Saudi domination over the Gulf States. Kuwait, Oman, as well as non-Gulf Turkey were coming closer to Qatar and even Pakistan now may think twice about joining a Saudi-led "Arab NATO". Bin Salman has proven a disaster as a defense strategist, as proven in the Yemen debacle.

As to the future, it appears that Qatar is not about to rollover and surrender in face of Saudi actions. Already Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani is moving to establish closer ties with Iran, with Turkey that might include Turkish military support, and most recently with Russia.

Kuwait and Oman are urgently trying to get Saudi to backdown on this, but that is unlikely as behind Saudi Arabia stands the US and promises of tens of billions of dollars in US arms.

This foolish US move to use their proxy, in this case Riyadh, to discipline those not "behaving" according to Washington wishes, could well be the turning point, the point of collapse of US remaining influence in the entire Middle East in the next several years."

lysander | Jun 23, 2017 7:43:17 PM | 42
KSA could not have taken this course of action all by itself. Someone somewhere must be egging them on. But who? The US seems to have no interest in a Saudi-Qatari conflict. Israel might, but only if said conflict is resolved in Saudi favor.

I am therefore coming to the conclusion that there is no longer clear leadership of US policy and there are different factions within the US government. The white house and CIA are supporting the Saudis while the Pentagon supports Qatar. This is just a hunch, but it seems like it could make sense. Perhaps this is what happens when a government is in a state of decompensation.

R Winner | Jun 23, 2017 1:41:04 PM | 4

It is mind boggling that a fundamental reshaping of the Middle East was most likely put in motion by Trump completely oblivious of what he was doing shooting from the hip on his Saudi trip.

Outside of an outright invasion of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, it is hard to see this as a once in a life time geopolitical gift to Russia, Iran, Turkey, Syria, and Iran.

Juggs | Jun 23, 2017 2:24:33 PM | 9
Now when July 3 comes and goes, Saudi Arabia will look completely impotent in the eyes of the countries in the region.

I wonder if there is some sort of interest between Russia, Turkey, Qatar, and Iran on a coup in Saudi Arabia. I can't imagine it would be that difficult. I know it is not Putin's policy to play these types of games like the US Regime, but one has to assume that people are just fucking done with the clowns running Saudi Arabia.

harrylaw | Jun 23, 2017 2:36:39 PM | 10
Gaddafi's speech to the Arab League in Syria 2008 was so prescient..

"We [the Arabs] are the enemies of one another I'm sad to say, we deceive one another, we gloat at the misfortune of one another, and we conspire against one another, and an Arab's enemy is another Arab's friend.

Along comes a foreign power, occupies an Arab country [Iraq] and hangs its President,and we all sit on the sidelines laughing. Any one of you might be next, yes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZZvPlGCt_8

okie farmer | Jun 23, 2017 2:37:39 PM | 11
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/23/close-al-jazeera-saudi-arabia-issues-qatar-with-13-demands-to-end-blockade
Qatar given 10 days to meet 13 sweeping demands by Saudi Arabia
Gulf dispute deepens as allies issue ultimatum for ending blockade that includes closing al-Jazeera and cutting back ties with Iran
Juggs | Jun 23, 2017 2:41:55 PM | 13
Peter AU "Is Qatar, like Turkey, already heading for a multi-polar world? For 25 years, the US was the only game in town, but with Russia's move into Syria there are now options."

Hard to see the world heading in that direction:

I wonder if Qatar is already in talks with China about joining the Silk Road Initiative now that it is openly moving into the Russia and Iran sphere.

karlof1 | Jun 23, 2017 3:06:36 PM | 16
Juggs 13--

"I wonder if Qatar is already in talks with China about joining the Silk Road Initiative..."

You'll find the answer's yes as Pepe explains, https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201706161054701807-west-cannot-smell-what-eurasia-cooking/ and http://www.atimes.com/article/blood-tracks-new-silk-roads/

dh | Jun 23, 2017 3:20:35 PM | 19
@17 The best is yet to come. There's a chance Netanyahu will fly into Riyadh to tell everybody what to do. I'm sure he wants what's best for the region.
L'Akratique | Jun 23, 2017 3:29:54 PM | 20
I quite like the WWI parallel. Trump as Kaiser Wilhelm? There certainly are some striking similarities in character.

Quote from Thomas Nipperdey:

"...gifted, with a quick understanding, sometimes brilliant, with a taste for the modern,-technology, industry, science -- but at the same time superficial, hasty, restless, unable to relax, without any deeper level of seriousness, without any desire for hard work or drive to see things through to the end, without any sense of sobriety, for balance and boundaries, or even for reality and real problems, uncontrollable and scarcely capable of learning from experience, desperate for applause and success, -- as Bismarck said early on in his life, he wanted every day to be his birthday-romantic, sentimental and theatrical, unsure and arrogant, with an immeasurably exaggerated self-confidence and desire to show off, a juvenile cadet, who never took the tone of the officers' mess out of his voice, and brashly wanted to play the part of the supreme warlord, full of panicky fear of a monotonous life without any diversions, and yet aimless, pathological in his hatred against his English mother."

cankles | Jun 23, 2017 4:05:49 PM | 25
@Laguerre #23
I have difficulty in seeing a relationship with the Silk Road Initiative, other than that Qatar exports a lot of LNG to China.

China Eyes Qatar in its Quest to Build a New Silk Road

Last month at the China-Arab Cooperation Forum in Doha, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi postulated that Qatar should take part in the realization of China's Silk Road Initiatives.
Laguerre | Jun 23, 2017 4:42:05 PM | 27
@cankles | Jun 23, 2017 4:05:49 PM | 25

Yeah, you're right. I hadn't looked into the question sufficiently. Of course the Chinese are looking for more external finance for the project. They don't want to be the only ones who pay. Fat chance, though. The Qataris have been in austerity since the decline in the oil price. Someone I know who works in the Qatar Museum has seen all her colleagues let go. And now the crisis with Saudi.

The Qataris may even have signed contracts with China. But if you know anything about the Gulf, there's a wide gap between signing a contract, and actually getting paid. It depends upon how the prince concerned feels about the project when the question of payment comes up. A company I worked for in the 80s took two years to get payment, even though they were experts in Gulfi relations.

AtaBrit | Jun 23, 2017 4:51:40 PM | 28
Great piece.

The issue of the threat regarding the Turkish base didn't surprise me much, though. I think it's clear that if MB is the target, then of course Turkey has to become a target, and Qatar - Turkey ties have to be broken. It stands to reason.

It also stands to reason if you simply consider Saudi's importance regionally: A lot is made of Iran's threat to Saudi influence, but Turkey - thanks in part to considerable investment by Qatar currently while investment from elsewhere has reduced massively -- is also very threatening to Saudi's influence, especially on the religious front.

Iran representing Shia interests in the region and Turkey representing Sunni interests is not a difficult future to imagine. It would of course grate with Saudi Arabia given that it had poured vast amounts of money into the Turkish economy and the diyanet.

On a slightly different note there's a scandal going on in western Turkey, in Duzce, at the moment because the local authority has unveiled a statue of Rabia - the four fingered Muslim Brotherhood salute! :-)

Mina | Jun 23, 2017 5:09:45 PM | 29
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/271450/World/Region/UN-blames-warring-sides-for-Yemens-cholera-catastr.aspx
let's blame underfed guys in skirts for fun
karlof1 | Jun 23, 2017 5:16:47 PM | 30
Hassan Nasrallah has given his annual International Al-Quds Day speech with plenty of fire aimed at the usual suspects. The Daily Star reports: 'Nasrallah accused Saudi Arabia of "paving way for Israel" in the region.

'"It's unfortunate that Saudi Arabia is the head of terrorism and today it's holding its neighbors accountable for supporting terrorism," Nasrallah said, hinting to the recent economic sanctions against Qatar.' https://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2017/Jun-23/410688-nasrallah-says-regional-conflicts-seek-to-serve-israel-interest.ashx

Al-Manar provides this report, http://english.almanar.com.lb/292250

Unfortunately, I cannot locate an English language transcript, although one might become available eventually as is usually the case.

Piotr Berman | Jun 23, 2017 6:42:14 PM | 36
Piotr Berman

Aljazeera evil? Are you joking? ....

@Anon | Jun 23, 2017 3:47:56 PM | 24

You did not address the argument I made, namely, that Aljazeera editors apparently belong to "Muslims, who immediately set out to support it [Darwinian theory of evolution] unaware of the blasphemy and error in it." These guys pretend to be nice Wahhabis, dressing in dishdashas, their womenfolks in abayas, but in fact they spread heretical and blasphemous doctrines. However, I am more of a Khazar than a Wahhabi and I do not treat this argument seriously.

It is the fact that compared to other government supported TV/online venues, say RT or PressTV, Aljazeera is well written and edited, has plenty of valuable material, etc. It is a worthwhile place to check when you want to get a composite picture on some issues. And it irritates KSA potentates in a myriad of ways, precisely because it targets "politically engaged Muslim".

It is a good example that pluralism has inherent positive aspects, devils that quarrel are better than "One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them."

====

Actually, I hope for many more benefits will show up from this quarrel than improved profits for Iranian produce growers. It is worthwhile to observe that Dubai, a component emirate of UAE, has gigantic economic links with Iran, which must be tolerated by overlords from Abu Dhabi: they had to bail out their cousins after real estate collapse, so they have big money stake in Dubai being prosperous. Potentially, Dubai and especially the hapless vegetable and dairy producers in KSA can lose a bundle (the latter had to invest a lot in farms for Qatari market, it is not like letting cows graze on abundant grasslands plus planting cucumbers and waiting for the rain to water them). Aljazeera and Muslim Brotherhood are more irritating to KSA and UAE than an occasional polite missive to Iran.

One pattern in Syrian civil war were persistent and bloody feuds between jihadists that formed roughly four groups:

  1. "salafi", presumably funded by KSA,
  2. "brothers", presumably funded by Qatar and Turkey,
  3. al-Qaeda/al-Nusra/something new that was forcing the first two groups to surrender some weapons (and money?),
  4. and ISIS that had more complex sources (or more hidden).

Medium term strategy of Syrian government and allies for the near future is to "de-escalate" in the western part of the country and finish off ISIS, partitioning hitherto ISIS territories in some satisfactory way, while maintaining some type of truce with the Kurds. Then finish off the jihadists, except those most directly protected by Turkey. Finally, take care of the Kurds. Some sufficiently safe federalism can be part of the solution, but nothing that would lead to enclaves with their own military forces and their own foreign policy, like Iraqi Kurdistan.

That requires the opposing parties to exhibit somewhat suicidal behavior. A big time official feud between "brothers" and "salafi + Kurds" (a pair that shares some funding but with scant mutual affection" can help a lot. Most of all, a big time feud between Turkey and KSA can stabilize the situation in which jihadists from Idlib and northern Hama observe a truce/de-escalation, while their colleagues from south Syria get clobbered, and definitely will induce them to refrain from attacking Syrian government while it is busy against ISIS. After Erdogan was prevented from marching onto Raqqa, he has two options: "Sunnistan" in eastern Syria under domination of YPG or a much smaller YPG dominated territory that can be subsequently digested. Option one is a true nightmare for Erdogan, more than a mere paranoia. However, Erdogan is also "pan-Sunni" Islamist, so he could be tempted to backstab infidels from Damascus, as he was doing before. An open feud with Sunnistan sponsors should help him to choose.

likklemore | Jun 23, 2017 6:49:14 PM | 37
Cankles @ 25 Is that really you? If so, you should know -

Look behind the curtain. This has to do with maintaining the price of oil in US$.

Qatar launches first Chinese yuan clearing hub in Middle East .

Qatar opened the Middle East's first centre for clearing transactions in the Chinese yuan on Tuesday, saying it would boost trade and investment between China and Gulf Arab economies.

"The launch of the region's first renminbi clearing center in Doha creates the necessary platform to realise the full potential of Qatar and the region's trade relationship with China," Qatar's central bank governor Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud al-Thani said at a ceremony.

"It will facilitate greater cross-border renminbi investment and financing business, and promote greater trade and economic links between China and the region, paving the way for better financial cooperation and enhancing the pre-eminence of Qatar as a financial hub in MENA (Middle East and North Africa)."
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China's (ICBC) Doha branch is the clearing bank for the centre, which intends to serve companies from around the Middle East.

A clearing bank can handle all parts of a currency transaction from when a commitment is made until it is settled, reducing costs and time taken for trading.

The centre "will improve the ease of transactions between companies in the region and China by allowing them to settle their trade directly in renminbi, drawing increased trade through Qatar and boosting bilateral and economic collaboration between Qatar and China," said ICBC chairman Jiang Jianqing.

At present, Qatar and the Gulf's other wealthy oil and gas exporters use the U.S. dollar much more than the yuan. Most of their currencies are pegged to the dollar, and most of their huge foreign currency reserves are denominated in dollars.

Laguerre @27

Date of article April 24, 2017

In April 2015, Qatar opened Qatar Renminbi Centre (QRC), the region's first clearing centre for the Chinese currency. This allows for trades priced in RMB to be cleared locally in Qatar rather than in other centres such as Shanghai or Hong Kong.ICBC has since become the designated clearance bank servicing the QRC, which has handled more than 350bn yuan ($52.6bn) since its inception.
http://emerge85.io/blog/the-middle-kingdoms-big-four-and-the-gulf

~ ~ ~ ~
Trending and not very far to seeing what is now held under the table. Oil will also be priced in RMB because KSA, to maintain their share of exports to China, will need to get on board. For now, it's been reaffirmed, SA does the whipping and USA protects the Royals.

rawdawgbugfalo | Jun 23, 2017 6:54:19 PM | 38
Well said, I still think this is all dreamlike. Having natural gas and sharing it with Iran is a mf.

Qatar: Is it about Trump, Israel or Nascent Influence? http://wsenmw.blogspot.com/2017/06/qatar-is-it-about-trump-israel-or.html

Piotr Berman | Jun 23, 2017 7:34:43 PM | 40
About Sunni-Shia split. My impression is that this is mostly KSA + UAE obsession. For example, there is a substantial Shia minority in Pakistan, but the dominant thinking among the Sunnis seems to be "Muslim solidarity". There is a minority that is virulently anti-Shia, but they are politically isolated and despised exactly on the account of breaking that solidarity. After all, Pakistan forms the boundary of the Umma with non-Muslim India. I base that opinion on comments in online Pakistani newspapers, and what I have heard from an acquaintance who was a religiously conservative Sunni Pakistani. To him, the attack on Yemen by KSA was wrong "because they are Muslim". So even if Pakistan is to a certain extend in Saudi pocket, and its deep state has an extremist Sunni component, overt siding against "fellow Muslim" is out of the question.

Egypt is another case. One can find rather isolated anti-Shia outbursts, like writings of some fossils in Al-Azhar (who are responsible for the state religion), but the government steers away from that, and in spite of hefty subsidies, it joined Yemen war only symbolically and for a very short time (unlike Sudan that really needs the cash for its mercenaries). As you move further away from the Persian Gulf, the indifference to the "split" increases. As far as Qatar and Aljazeera are concerned, probably no one detests them more than Egyptian elite, as they were valiantly fighting Muslim Brotherhood for the sake of progress with some occasional large massacres (killing several hundreds of protesters, issuing hundreds of death penalties to participants in a single protest, in absentia! incredible idiocy+cruelty). That explains why al-Sisi joined KSA against Qatar.

However, the civil war in Libya that embroils Egypt is a classic case of unexpected alliances. Egypt with a help from Russia, KSA and UAE supports the "eastern government" that bases legitimacy on democratic parliament re-assembled in Tobruq on Egyptian border, and dominated by military strongman Haftar. The latter has the best chance of all people to become a military strongman of all Libya, but apparently has meager popularity and thus, too few troops. He patched that problem by an alliance with a Salafi group that had a numerous militia, currently partitioned into smaller units and incorporated into Haftar's brigades. Even with that, his progress on the ground is very, very gradual. Against him is the government in Tripolis, legitimized by a more fresh parliament and UN/EU, plus a military force that includes several militias. Part of the parliamentary support stems from Muslim Brotherhood, and some part of military support comes from Salafi militias. There are also aspects of a "war of all against all", seems that Saharan tribes collected a lot of fresh blood feuds.

Thus Qatari+Turkish support for Tripoli government is aligned with EU, and Egyptian support for Tobruq government is aligned with Russia and KSA.

Dusty | Jun 23, 2017 7:38:26 PM | 41
I thought I might just throw this out there and see what sticks. US policy is based on power and control. Saudi Arabia has been a good ally but it does not serve use policy or strategic goals any longer. Not really. I think the grand prize for destabilizing the middle east is Saudi Arabia. It would be the only way to truly control the development of other nations or more specifically, to control their rivalries and save the the US from complete economic breakdown. The Saudi's are being plumbed by the best of them, telling them they are you friends, we have your back and so long as Saudi Arabia loses more money and keeps lossing money in needless wars etc.

The only hope for Saudi Arabia is to re-denominate oil sales in multiple currencies such as the WTO drawing rights, of course based on another formula, perhaps based on the countries that purchase the most oil. This would be the only way for the royalty to gain longevity as rulers of the country. Any other scenario spells disaster. Of course, it would be a rough go for them for a while, but in the end, a slight change in outlook and the unfair advantage given to the US would go a long way, economically to stabilizing large blocks of countries. They also could of course change their outlook on the world, but that is certainly a difficult challenge. If the Muslim world came together based on their similarities, they could be a very powerful block.

The US no longer has the financial velocity it once maintained and this is much more due to insane ideas about being a hegemon. I never thought revolution would be possible in the US, but it is coming and it won't take much. The country does not appear to have intelligence peddle back a number of policies, drunk on its own poison, it makes capitalism look disgusting. A new business model is needed, one that developes mutual trade based on respect from within the exchange itself. Saudi Arabia needs to cultivate multi-channel support for its biggest resource so that when the returns are no longer there, they will have also developed multiple avenues to prosperity. Just a thought.

[Jun 20, 2017] The US intervention in EU gas market is even more pathetic than it seems

No LNG carriers are currently registered under the US flag, and if the USA plans to be a serious exporter it is going to need about 100 new LNG carriers over the next 30 years, something which is frankly not practically achievable considering it takes about 2 years to build one, at a cost of about $200 Million apiece". Of course, miracles can be made to happen if you pour enough money into them.
Jun 20, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com
et Al , June 16, 2017 at 1:30 am
The US's intervention is even more pathetic than it seems.

This is not a stand alone anti-Russia bill which would signal strength from the US, but an adjunct to the anti-I-ran sanctions bill that continues to seek to punish I-ran in the vague hope that it will pull the plug on the cast-iron nuclear deal it has signed with international partners. The irony there is that I-ran Air is recapitalizing with both Airbus & Boeing (also ATR), 100 odd a piece, not to mention other significant investment opportunities for western firms.

They're quite the Gordian Tits!

Not only is there the potential of the Levianthan gas field off Cyprus/Israel/whatever, brutal dictator Azeri gas will also be arriving in (larger, but not gigantic) quantities. Not to mention that significant buyers of LNG, like the UK, have it come straight from Qatar. Is the US prepared to sell LNG at a discount compared to Qatar that has strategic agreements and its own fundamental interests to be protected by the Western (European) states as well?

So if this plan seems to damage not only the USA's allies but the USA itself, then what is its purpose? Stick it to Trump. Mire any plans to re-balance relations with Russia almost at any cost . It's a no brainer for Democrats as they neither hold a majority in the House or the Senate, and there seem to be enough dog whistle Republicans willing to go along with it, including those with mental problems like John 'Insane' McCaine. Ukraine is almost peripheral except as a convenient tool. It think the US accepts they've screwed the pooch on the Ukraine so its only value is to be used as a festering sore on Russia's frontier. Kiev mops up the completely free public political support whilst it is being kicked in the bollox by the same people.

[Jun 17, 2017] We will probably never find out what truly was discussed between Trump, the Saudis and the Israelis, but there is little doubt that the recent Saudi move against Qatar is the direct results of these negotiations by The Saker

Notable quotes:
"... Besides, was there ever a time with the Trump Administration's policies in the Middle-East made any logical sense at all? During the election campaign they were, shall we say, 50/50 (excellent on ISIS, plain stupid about Iran). But ever since the January coup against Flynn and Trump's surrender to the Neocons all we have seen in one form of delusional stupidity after another. ..."
"... I see this latest crisis as yet another desperate attempt by the Three Rogue States to prove that they are still the biggest and baddest guys on the block and, just like the previous ones, I think that it will fail. For example, I just don't see the Qataris shutting down al-Jazeera, one of their most powerful "weapons". ..."
"... The Three Rogue States have the same problem: their military capability to threaten, bully or punish is rapidly eroding and fewer and fewer countries out there fear them. ..."
"... I will end this column by comparing what Presidents Putin and Trump are doing these days as I find this comparison highly symbolic of the new era we are living in: Trump, after bombing a few "technicals" (4×4 trucks with a machine gun) and trucks in Syria, the proceeded to tweet that Comey was a liar and a leaker. As for Putin, he participated the latest meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) which welcomed both Pakistan and India as full members. The SCO now represents over half of all the people living on our planet and one quarter of the world's GDP . You can think of it as the "other G8", or the "G8 that matters". ..."
"... the semi-official strategy of the Russian Foreign Ministry which is to "turn enemies into neutrals, neutrals into friends, friends into allies" ..."
"... The West simply has no diplomacy any more, only the airforce and the bombs. Diplomacy has always been a highly rational means of achieving your own goals, where military should only be its extension tool, not a complete substitute. The Western MIC has made the Western countries forget this. ..."
"... I don't think "because Trump said so" can be regarded as credible evidence of anything. Even his own most die-hard supporters rarely bother pretending his word is worth anything (they just claim when he lies that it's a cunning subterfuge based upon some complex strategerising). ..."
"... the jury is still out on whether Trump actively and consciously "greenlit" the Saudi move to its full extent, or whether he just didn't understand what the implications would be of his toadying to Riyadh. ..."
"... This is still just a political crisis, and given the stakes for both sides it must be most likely that it will remain such, and a resolution will ultimately be found that involves the Qataris conceding enough for the Saudis to claim victory. ..."
"... But given that neither side can afford to be seen to lose completely, it only needs one side to be a bit too obdurate or a bit too greedy, and the crisis could move beyond the merely political. In that case we would see perhaps an attempted coup or uprising in Qatar, an occupation by the Saudis with US complicity, or perhaps Turkish or even Iranian troops guaranteeing Qatar against those events, which would mean genuinely significant shifts in Qatar's strategic position. ..."
"... if Turkey formally "guarantees Qatar's independence" I'm going to start getting WW1 flashbacks, and seeing the ME as the new Balkans ..."
"... The analogy is perhaps tenuous, but this affair reminds me slightly of Austria-Hungary's demands on Serbia in 1914. Didn't that end well? ..."
"... How significant is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization? Just joining an organisation doesn't reveal its impact. Pakistan and India will never get along. I acknowledge Russia has good leadership. Though, what happens when Putin retires? China is strong, but much rests on the future leadership of China. ..."
"... You are ever so wrong to call these God-fearing states "Rogue States"! Please, call them The Axis of Kindness. They specialize in dropping beautiful, democratic, humanitarian bombs. ..."
"... In perhaps 2015, when Lavrov was constantly in the Middle East, I remember a report, perhaps in Russian on a meeting in Qatar with Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah. Lavrov had promised Qatar a pipeline to be built through Syria in exchange for a $10 Bn investment in the RDIF, which has indeed happened. (Although, so has a similar KSA deal). At this time, presumably, success in Syria and investment mattered more than Gazprom's commercial interest. It could be that Qatar has cut off support for Syrian ISIS and Hamas. ISIS seems to be fading fast. The pipeline was to be Qatar's not the Iran-Russia-Turkey scheme to which Qatar has also been invited. ..."
"... There have been other discussions about a Qatar, Iranian pipeline operated by Russia which makes more sense for Russia but is less of a bribe. Qatar Investment Authority funded Glencore to buy 19.5% of Rosneft this year. Sechin is pushing Putin to allow Rosneft to build and operate gas pipelines so Russia takes a stake in the Qatari pipeline through Rosneft rather than Gazprom? ..."
"... In a nutshell, the situation of Qatar appears to be a symptom of the struggle between the political Islam and the hereditary/religious Islam, in which Qatar plays a part of the more progressive, and potentially more dangerous in the long run, political Islam . ..."
"... Therefore, the Muslim lands of ME have added yet another schism to an already rich list, to the delight of Israel. Finally, it is simply sad how uninformed and bumbling the American version of Lawrence of Arabia, the saber dancer Donald Trump, is in all this, completely out of his depth. ..."
"... Trump's attack on Syria was either a blunder, or just political show. The last possibility to me seems the most probable. Making Iran the threat to the ME might be meant to give Saudi Arabia the leading position in the ME, just as abandoning NATO by the USA may be meant to deliver the USA from the burden, imagined, to defend Europe against Russia. I still wonder if Trump is far more cunning than his enemies think he is. ..."
"... As Russia had no intention of giving up Sebastopol, the USA will not give up Qatar. There is no business like show business. ..."
"... The Israelis and Saudis have been in a defacto anti-Shiite alliance for years against Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Iran. I keep waiting for evidence of discontent among the Muslim masses over this the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques allied with Israel against other Muslim countries that now includes Qatar. ..."
"... But no evidence of discontent. Perhaps this is due to the Wahhabi fundamentalists concluding that Muslim apostates like the Shiites are worse than Jews and Crusaders. Déjà vu the deadly European Thirty Years' War (1618 to 1648) between Catholics and Protestants all over again. ..."
"... The article is correct when stating Iran is the target. ..."
"... Anyway, the Saud family will last as long as the petrodollar enables them to bribe their own people (and having young, male, single, radicalized potential troublemakers-of whom the numbers are increasing-make trouble outside the borders rather than within the Kingdom) and CENTCOM allows them to keep the Shi'a in the Eastern Provinces in check. Once one or both of those factors go away, hell breaks loose in Riyadh. Unfortunately, contrary to what many Western liberals say, what will likely to replace the Saud family in the event of a revolution is probably going to be far worse than what exists today, if public opinion polls in the Kingdom and zakat donations from private donors in Saudi Arabia to jihadist groups are a barometer. ..."
"... On the Thirty Year's War: very astute analogy, one that I agree with to an extent. However, a big difference is that the Sunni drastically outnumber the Shi'a in a way that the Protestants didn't the Catholics, around 7 to 1. That is what makes Beltway overestimation of Iranian capabilities so ludicrous. ..."
"... Saudi Arabia and Israel spend a *lot* of money to keep the Beltway view of the world akin to what they want. Gulf money permeates our think tanks, both on the Left and the Right: and if Trump had an iota of intelligence last year, he would have hammered home the Clinton Foundation's connection to shady Gulfie donors when she paraded her feminism. ..."
"... I think both the Left and Right give Trump way too much credit. He's neither a Russian controlled, closet white supremacist dictator in the making, nor a new Marius, heroically despised by the Establishment, who actually wants to keep his promises to those who voted him into power. Trump is exactly what he appears to be: the American Berlusconi, a corrupt billionaire mogul who just makes it up as he goes along. No more, no less. ..."
"... The common people of the United States, like the same class of people in every other country, mean well, but they are ill-informed. Floundering about in their ignorance, they are tricked and robbed by those who have the inside information and who therefore know how to take advantage of every turn wheel of fortune. ..."
Jun 11, 2017 | www.unz.com

First, a quick who's who

We will probably never find out what truly was discussed between Trump, the Saudis and the Israelis, but there is little doubt that the recent Saudi move against Qatar is the direct results of these negotiations. How do I know that? Because Trump himself said so -- As I mentioned in a recent column, Trump's catastrophic submission to the Neocons and their policies have left him stuck with the KSA and Israel , another two rogue states whose power and, frankly, mental sanity, are dwindling away by the minute.

While the KSA and Qatar have had their differences and problems in the past, this time around the magnitude of the crisis is much bigger than anything the past. This is a tentative and necessarily rough outline of who is supporting whom:

Supporting the Saudis ( according to Wikipedia ) Supporting Qatar (according to me)
United Arab Emirates , Bahrain , Egypt , Maldives , Yemen (they mean the pro-Saudi regime in exile), Mauritania , Comoros , Libya (Tobruk government), Jordan , Chad , Djibouti , Senegal , United States , Gabon. Turkey , Germany , Iran.

Questions, many questions

The situation is very fluid and all this might change soon, but do you notice something weird in the list above? Turkey and Germany are supporting Qatar even though the US is supporting the KSA. That's two major NATO member states taking a position against the USA.

Next, look at the list supporting the Saudis: except for the USA and Egypt they are all militarily irrelevant (and the Egyptians won't get militarily involved anyway). Not so for those opposing the Saudis, especially not Iran and Turkey. So if money is on the side of the Saudis, firepower is on the side of Qatar here.

Then, Gabon? Senegal? Since when are those two involved in Persian Gulf politics? Why are they taking sides in this faraway conflict? A quick look at the 10 conditions the Saudis demand that the Qataris fullfil does not help us understand their involvement either

... ... ...

More interestingly, why is ISRAEL not listed as a country supporting the KSA?

As always, the Israelis themselves are much more honest about their role in all this. Well, maybe they don't quite say "we done it" but they write articles like " Five reasons why Israel should care about the Qatar crisis " which lists all the reasons why the Israelis are delighted:

That kind of honesty is quite refreshing, even if it is primarily for internal, Israeli, consumption. Quick check with a Palestinian source – yup, the Israelis are backing the KSA. This is hardly surprising, no matter how hard the western corporate media tries to not notice this.

What about the USA? Do they really benefit from this crisis?

The USA has what might possibly the largest USAF base worldwide in Qatar, the Al Udeid Air Base . Furthermore, the forward headquarters of United StatesCENTCOM are also located in Qatar. To say that these are crucial US infrastructures is an understatement – one could argue that these are the most important US military facilities anywhere in the world outside the United States. Thus one would logically conclude that the very last thing the US would want is any type of crisis or even tensions anywhere near such vital facilities yet it quite clear that the Saudis and the Americans are acting in unison against Qatar. This makes no sense, right? Correct. But now that the US has embarked on a futile policy of military escalation in Syria it should come as no surprise that the two main US allies in the region are doing the same thing.

Besides, was there ever a time with the Trump Administration's policies in the Middle-East made any logical sense at all? During the election campaign they were, shall we say, 50/50 (excellent on ISIS, plain stupid about Iran). But ever since the January coup against Flynn and Trump's surrender to the Neocons all we have seen in one form of delusional stupidity after another.

Objectively, the crisis around Qatar is not good at all for the USA.

... ... ...

What about Russia in all that?

The Russians and the Qataris have butted heads many times over, especially over Syria and Libya where Qatar played an extremely toxic role in being the prime financiers of various takfiri terrorist groups. Furthermore, Qatar is Russia's number one competitor in many LNG (liquefied natural gas) markets. There were also other crises between the two countries, including what appears to be a Russian assassination of the Chechen terrorist Leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev and the subsequent torture and trial of two Russian Embassy employees accused of being involved in the assassination (they were sentenced to life in prison and eventually sent back to Russia). Still, the Russians and the Qataris are eminently pragmatic peoples and the two countries mostly maintained a cordial, if careful, relationship which even included some joint economic ventures.

It is highly unlikely that Russia will intervene directly in this crisis unless, of course, Iran is directly attacked. The good news is that such a direct attack on Iran is unlikely as none of the Three Rogue States really have any stomach to take on Iran (and Hezbollah). What Russia will do is use her soft power, political and economic , to slowly try to reel Qatar into the Russian orbit according to the semi-official strategy of the Russian Foreign Ministry which is to " turn enemies into neutrals, neutrals into friends, friends into allies ". Just like with Turkey, the Russians will gladly help, especially since they know that this help will buy them some very precious influence in the region.

Iran, the real target of it all

The Iranians are now openly saying that the recent terrorist attack in Tehran was ordered by Saudi Arabia . Technically speaking, that means that Iran is now at war . In reality, of course, as the real local superpower, Iran is acting with calm and restraint : the Iranians fully understand that this latest terrorist attack is a sign of weakness, if not desperation, and that the best reaction to it is to act the same way the Russians reacted to the bombings in Saint Petersburg: stay focused, calm and determined. Just like the Russians, the Iranians have now also offered to send food to Qatar, but it is unlikely that they will intervene militarily unless the Saudis really go crazy. Besides, with Turkish forces soon deployed in Qatar , the Iranians have no real need for any displays of military might. I would argue that the simple fact that neither the USA nor Israel have dared to directly attack Iran since 1988 (since shooting down by the US Navy of the Iran Air Flight 655 Airbus ) is the best proof of the real Iranian military power.

... ... ..

...As for the Qataris, they have already clearly indicated that they are unwilling to surrender and that they will fight . The Saudis have already taken the outrageous decision to impose a blockade of a fellow Muslim country during the holy month of Ramadan. Will they really now further escalate and commit an act of aggression against a fellow Muslim country during that month? They might, but it is hard to believe that even they could be that ignorant of the Muslim public opinion. But if they don't, then their operation will lose a lot of momentum while the Qataris will be given time to prepare politically, economically, socially and militarily. Qatar might be small, and the Qataris themselves not very numerous, but their immense pockets allow them to quickly line up any amount of suppliers and contractors willing to help them out. This is case where the famous "market forces" will act to Qatar's advantage.

The Qatari Foreign Minister is expected in Moscow on Saturday and it is pretty obvious what the talks will be about: while Russia will not put all her political weight to support the Qataris, the Kremlin might accept becoming a mediator between the KSA and Qatar. If that happens, that would be the ultimate irony: the main outcome of the Saudi-Israeli-US operation will make Russia an even more influential player in the region. As for Qatar itself, the outcome of this crisis will probably articulate itself along Nietzschean lines: " That which does not kill us, makes us stronger ."

Conclusion

I see this latest crisis as yet another desperate attempt by the Three Rogue States to prove that they are still the biggest and baddest guys on the block and, just like the previous ones, I think that it will fail. For example, I just don't see the Qataris shutting down al-Jazeera, one of their most powerful "weapons". Nor do I see them breaking all diplomatic relations with Iran as those two states are joined at the hip by the immense South Pars gas condensate field . The immense wealth of the Qataris also means that they have very powerful supporters worldwide who right now, as I write these lines, are probably on the phone making calls to very influential people and indicating to them in no unclear terms that Qatar is not to be messed with.

If anything this crisis will only serve to push Qatar further into the warm embrace of other countries, including Russia and Iran, and it will further weaken the Saudis.

The Three Rogue States have the same problem: their military capability to threaten, bully or punish is rapidly eroding and fewer and fewer countries out there fear them. Their biggest mistake is that instead of trying to adapt their policies to this new reality, they always chose to double-down over and over again even though they fail each time, making them look even weaker and their initial predicament even worse. This is a very dangerous downward spiral and yet the Three Rogue States seem unable to devise any other policy.

I will end this column by comparing what Presidents Putin and Trump are doing these days as I find this comparison highly symbolic of the new era we are living in: Trump, after bombing a few "technicals" (4×4 trucks with a machine gun) and trucks in Syria, the proceeded to tweet that Comey was a liar and a leaker. As for Putin, he participated the latest meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) which welcomed both Pakistan and India as full members. The SCO now represents over half of all the people living on our planet and one quarter of the world's GDP . You can think of it as the "other G8", or the "G8 that matters".

I submit that this quick comparison of agenda really says I all.

UPDATE1 : Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is now telling the Saudis to 'cool it' . The Saudi-Israeli plan is beginning to collapse.

Kiza June 10, 2017 at 6:42 am GMT

The real Qatari 'crime' was to refuse, on purely pragmatic reasons, to join into the massive anti-Iranian campaign imposed on the region by Saudi Arabia and Israel.

This is why it is worth reading this good article. I suspected this to be the reason from the start of the crisis: Qatar has been an active supporter of ME terrorism (including ISIS) just like KSA, US, Israel, UAE and Turkey. But they were never as anti-Iranian as the other members of this Coalition of the Lovers of Terrorism.

Also, I liked this sentence on the diplomatic skill forgotten in the West:

the semi-official strategy of the Russian Foreign Ministry which is to "turn enemies into neutrals, neutrals into friends, friends into allies"

The West simply has no diplomacy any more, only the airforce and the bombs. Diplomacy has always been a highly rational means of achieving your own goals, where military should only be its extension tool, not a complete substitute. The Western MIC has made the Western countries forget this.

Randal June 10, 2017 at 11:46 am GMT

there is little doubt that the recent Saudi move against Qatar is the direct results of these negotiations. How do I know that? Because Trump himself said so!

I don't think "because Trump said so" can be regarded as credible evidence of anything. Even his own most die-hard supporters rarely bother pretending his word is worth anything (they just claim when he lies that it's a cunning subterfuge based upon some complex strategerising).

As far as I can see the jury is still out on whether Trump actively and consciously "greenlit" the Saudi move to its full extent, or whether he just didn't understand what the implications would be of his toadying to Riyadh. Perhaps he really is so profoundly ignorant that he really believes what his words imply: that the Qataris sponsor terrorism (they do) but the Saudis (and his own regime) don't, remarkable as that would be in a national leader.

As for the Qataris, they have already clearly indicated that they are unwilling to surrender and that they will fight.

This is still just a political crisis, and given the stakes for both sides it must be most likely that it will remain such, and a resolution will ultimately be found that involves the Qataris conceding enough for the Saudis to claim victory.

But given that neither side can afford to be seen to lose completely, it only needs one side to be a bit too obdurate or a bit too greedy, and the crisis could move beyond the merely political. In that case we would see perhaps an attempted coup or uprising in Qatar, an occupation by the Saudis with US complicity, or perhaps Turkish or even Iranian troops guaranteeing Qatar against those events, which would mean genuinely significant shifts in Qatar's strategic position. The odds are against that, because all parties have too much at stake to lightly go far down those roads, but such crises can spiral out of control. And on the way we could see all kinds of destructive economic warfare, lawfare, and hardball pressurising, together with lots of hanging out of each side's dirty laundry by the other.

Popcorn time. But if Turkey formally "guarantees Qatar's independence" I'm going to start getting WW1 flashbacks, and seeing the ME as the new Balkans

  1. UPDATE1: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is now telling the Saudis to 'cool it'. The Saudi-Israeli plan is beginning to collapse.
  2. UPDATE2: Trump promptly undermines Tillerson's position ( Tillerson Scrambles to Undo Trump's Qatar Blunder )
dearieme June 10, 2017 at 12:20 pm GMT

The analogy is perhaps tenuous, but this affair reminds me slightly of Austria-Hungary's demands on Serbia in 1914. Didn't that end well?

Weaver June 10, 2017 at 12:41 pm GMT

How significant is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization? Just joining an organisation doesn't reveal its impact. Pakistan and India will never get along. I acknowledge Russia has good leadership. Though, what happens when Putin retires? China is strong, but much rests on the future leadership of China.

The US isn't exactly in competition with China, because the US doesn't want to grow stronger. The US wants to help Israel expand. And the US wants to help enrich defence contractors and expand pork spending. So, the US and China have two very different goals. Also, the US and Europe are dedicated to undermining their European populations.

So, while China and Russia pursue power, the US has very different objectives.

Thales the Milesian June 10, 2017 at 3:08 pm GMT

Saker:

You are ever so wrong to call these God-fearing states "Rogue States"! Please, call them The Axis of Kindness. They specialize in dropping beautiful, democratic, humanitarian bombs.

The Scalpel Website June 10, 2017 at 7:55 pm GMT

@Weaver "The US isn't exactly in competition with China, because the US doesn't want to grow stronger. The US wants to help Israel expand. And the US wants to help enrich defence contractors and expand pork spending."

ROFL!!!! Great writing. Funny, but so much truth there

Philip Owen June 10, 2017 at 11:13 pm GMT

In perhaps 2015, when Lavrov was constantly in the Middle East, I remember a report, perhaps in Russian on a meeting in Qatar with Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah. Lavrov had promised Qatar a pipeline to be built through Syria in exchange for a $10 Bn investment in the RDIF, which has indeed happened. (Although, so has a similar KSA deal). At this time, presumably, success in Syria and investment mattered more than Gazprom's commercial interest. It could be that Qatar has cut off support for Syrian ISIS and Hamas. ISIS seems to be fading fast. The pipeline was to be Qatar's not the Iran-Russia-Turkey scheme to which Qatar has also been invited.

I was monitoring so much Russian media at the time (hundreds of stories a day and this was not relevant to my task) I can't place it exactly but it was very memorable because of the reversals involved and the mass of implications. How did they reconcile interests. There have been other discussions about a Qatar, Iranian pipeline operated by Russia which makes more sense for Russia but is less of a bribe. Qatar Investment Authority funded Glencore to buy 19.5% of Rosneft this year. Sechin is pushing Putin to allow Rosneft to build and operate gas pipelines so Russia takes a stake in the Qatari pipeline through Rosneft rather than Gazprom?

Kiza June 11, 2017 at 4:17 am GMT

If you are interested in another objective view of the Qatari situation here is an article by Oliver Miles in the London Review of Books: https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2017/06/08/oliver-miles/whats-behind-the-saudi-blockade-of-qatar/ .

It is very interesting that even Al ash-Shaikh has denounced Qatar because of its insubordination to Saudi commands and interests.

In a nutshell, the situation of Qatar appears to be a symptom of the struggle between the political Islam and the hereditary/religious Islam, in which Qatar plays a part of the more progressive, and potentially more dangerous in the long run, political Islam .

Therefore, the Muslim lands of ME have added yet another schism to an already rich list, to the delight of Israel. Finally, it is simply sad how uninformed and bumbling the American version of Lawrence of Arabia, the saber dancer Donald Trump, is in all this, completely out of his depth.

jilles dykstra June 11, 2017 at 6:57 am GMT

Trump's attack on Syria was either a blunder, or just political show. The last possibility to me seems the most probable. Making Iran the threat to the ME might be meant to give Saudi Arabia the leading position in the ME, just as abandoning NATO by the USA may be meant to deliver the USA from the burden, imagined, to defend Europe against Russia. I still wonder if Trump is far more cunning than his enemies think he is.

jilles dykstra June 11, 2017 at 7:00 am GMT

@Kiza

As Russia had no intention of giving up Sebastopol, the USA will not give up Qatar. There is no business like show business.

Talha June 11, 2017 at 9:56 am GMT

@anon Let's look at the numbers again from an angle that makes more sense:

Israeli expansion (relative to its size): 2500/8522 = 29%
Indonesian expansion (relative to size): 130,000/735,358 = 18%
Moroccan expansion (relative to size – keeping in mind it only occupies 2/3 of Western Sahara):
68,660/274,460 = 25%
Russian expansion (relative to size): 14,000/6,592,800 = <1%

Nice try. Peace.

The Alarmist June 11, 2017 at 10:05 am GMT

"The SCO now represents over half of all the people living on our planet and one quarter of the world's GDP. You can think of it as the "other G8", or the "G8 that matters"."

Very clever! Unfortunately the other G8 will only matter around 2040 or so, when the last of the West as we know it is finally subsumed into the Great Caliphate, at which point it will then turn on the other half of the planet.

TheJester June 11, 2017 at 10:57 am GMT

Nothing new. The Israelis and Saudis have been in a defacto anti-Shiite alliance for years against Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Iran. I keep waiting for evidence of discontent among the Muslim masses over this the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques allied with Israel against other Muslim countries that now includes Qatar.

But no evidence of discontent. Perhaps this is due to the Wahhabi fundamentalists concluding that Muslim apostates like the Shiites are worse than Jews and Crusaders. Déjà vu the deadly European Thirty Years' War (1618 to 1648) between Catholics and Protestants all over again.

mcohen June 11, 2017 at 11:43 am GMT

@Philip Owen Thanks for that .2015.a lot has happened including the opening up of gas reserves on the Mediterranean. both turkey and Qatar have us airbases so that is leverage. regardless it Is one thing building a pipeline and another keeping it secure. Qatar has been trying to build up leverage on Israel via the Palestinians but that has come to and end with trumps push for peace. ideally peace does not suit qatars plans so gaza could explode soon. hence qatars flirtation with iran hoping to stir up trouble in s.lebanon via hezb. Al thani ran from Syria. maybe they can send him to s.lebanon for some character building

Agent76 June 11, 2017 at 1:14 pm GMT

The article is correct when stating Iran is the target.

Sep 11, 2011 General Wesley Clark: Wars Were Planned – Seven Countries In Five Years

"This is a memo that describes how we're going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran." I said, "Is it classified?" He said, "Yes, sir." I said, "Well, don't show it to me." And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, "You remember that?" He said, "Sir, I didn't show you that memo! I didn't show it to you!"

nebulafox June 11, 2017 at 1:36 pm GMT

@TheJester

The Saud family has managed to make themselves even more unpopular (if that were even possible) on what we might term "Arab Street" due to their relatively newfound comfort with the Israelis, of course, but nobody can deny that it is smart politics. Saudi Arabia isn't Egypt, they've got plenty of money to ease the unemployment problem. For all its flaws, its nowhere near "pseudo-failed state" status like so many other Arab countries, despite the demographic and social pressures.

Anyway, the Saud family will last as long as the petrodollar enables them to bribe their own people (and having young, male, single, radicalized potential troublemakers-of whom the numbers are increasing-make trouble outside the borders rather than within the Kingdom) and CENTCOM allows them to keep the Shi'a in the Eastern Provinces in check. Once one or both of those factors go away, hell breaks loose in Riyadh. Unfortunately, contrary to what many Western liberals say, what will likely to replace the Saud family in the event of a revolution is probably going to be far worse than what exists today, if public opinion polls in the Kingdom and zakat donations from private donors in Saudi Arabia to jihadist groups are a barometer.

On the Thirty Year's War: very astute analogy, one that I agree with to an extent. However, a big difference is that the Sunni drastically outnumber the Shi'a in a way that the Protestants didn't the Catholics, around 7 to 1. That is what makes Beltway overestimation of Iranian capabilities so ludicrous.

(IMO: the Shi'a have shrines and their own version of saints, both of which are considered heathenish by Wahhabists. They also have an organized structure. To become a mullah in Shi'a Islam, you have to train for decades, rigorous education in philosophy, logic, astronomy, et all, much like a rigorous classical education was required for Catholic orders -- not at all like modern Sunni Islam where any random guy can declare a fatwa. So they are akin to the Catholics in all this, whereas the Sunni are the Protestants. Not a perfect analogy, but makes the most sense for Westerners.)

Seamus Padraig June 11, 2017 at 1:44 pm GMT

The Zionist Entity and the Wahhabist Entity. With friends like these

nebulafox June 11, 2017 at 1:48 pm GMT

@jilles dykstra Saudi Arabia and Israel spend a *lot* of money to keep the Beltway view of the world akin to what they want. Gulf money permeates our think tanks, both on the Left and the Right: and if Trump had an iota of intelligence last year, he would have hammered home the Clinton Foundation's connection to shady Gulfie donors when she paraded her feminism.

>I still wonder if Trump is far more cunning than his enemies think he is.

I think both the Left and Right give Trump way too much credit. He's neither a Russian controlled, closet white supremacist dictator in the making, nor a new Marius, heroically despised by the Establishment, who actually wants to keep his promises to those who voted him into power. Trump is exactly what he appears to be: the American Berlusconi, a corrupt billionaire mogul who just makes it up as he goes along. No more, no less. The secret to Trump is that there is no secret. And right now, unfortunately for his base, he happens to be surrounded by Republican people who haven't learned a thing from the Bush debacle and the last few decades in general, policy-wise. Get ready for pure McConnell fantasies for the next few years.

He's not un-clever in his own way when it comes to manipulating the media and public ratings, but he just clearly does not know a lot about actual policy-making. Trump is at his best when the Establishment wisdom is very clearly in the wrong, yet they can't figure it out due to their own social bubble and worldview. In that case, Trump calls them out, as he regularly did last year. But it isn't because Trump has a plausible alternative to offer, it is more a gut reaction in the instant of the moment that he forgets a few minutes later.

Anonymous June 11, 2017 at 1:57 pm GMT

@jilles dykstra Trump-cunning?

Give me a break. It is obvious that the Syria attack and also the Moab Afganistan bomb was purely a show of force to pressure Xi into taking out N Korea.

This is so sloppy and ham handed it is criminal. Trump is not negotiating with another CEO where that kind of leverage works. He is negotiating with world leaders who aren't going to be pushed off because of a few missle strikes.

This just showed Xi that Trump is an amateur.

And yeah, letting Saudi Arabia have free reign over the Middle East? Nothing could go wrong there right?

Anonymous June 11, 2017 at 2:12 pm GMT

Is it known when the President first learned that there were major US bases in Qatar? Not the #30 Anonymous – just for accuracy not as implied criticism.

Che Guava June 11, 2017 at 2:29 pm GMT

@Carlton Meyer Agree, but would say better before good. and Iran is better than any Arab state, excepting embattled Syria and Lebanon.

It is strange to me how the Qataris are to be in this situation, maybe just because it is a very small polity, essentially just a takeover bid.

jacques sheete June 11, 2017 at 2:33 pm GMT

@Kiza Then there's something called "secret diplomacy."

The common people of the United States, like the same class of people in every other country, mean well, but they are ill-informed. Floundering about in their ignorance, they are tricked and robbed by those who have the inside information and who therefore know how to take advantage of every turn wheel of fortune.

The people voted for Roosevelt be cause he talked of "trust-busting" at the same time that he was sanctioning the purchase of the Tennessee Coal and Iron Company by the Steel Trust. They supported Wilson "because he kept us out of war" at the same time that Wilson was making preparations to enter the war.

The rulers can negotiate "secret treaties" at home and abroad. The people, knowing nothing of either the theory or the practice of secret diplomacy, commit all sorts of follies for which they themselves must later foot the bill.

- R. F. PETTIGREW, TRIUMPHANT PLUTOCRACY, The Story ofAmerican Public Life from 1870 to 1920.

https://archive.org/stream/triumphantpluto00pettrich/triumphantpluto00pettrich_djvu.txt

The wonder is that the* hoi polloi trust the hoi oligoi at all. Perhaps it's because today we are generally misinformed rather than merely uninformed.

*Note to any lurking snarkmeisters. I realize that the words "the" and "hoi" are technically redundant, but I am entering the borrowed phrases in accepted English.

survey-of-disinfo June 11, 2017 at 2:41 pm GMT

@The Alarmist

[Europe becomes a "Khalifate"] at which point it will then turn on the other half of the planet.

It is not clear if the quoted contributer is uneducated, misinformed, or merely channeling historic Western insistence on lording over the rest of planet in guise of an insecure alarmist.

It is not news that Europe and the West (without any ideological basis in a Muslim Khalifate) have for the past few hundred years been treating both halves of the planet as their prey. Keep boo hoo hooing over those gates of Vienna episode but seriously how many HUNDREDS of millions of people have you lot killed in the past few hundred years? Let's get real. Enough of this bullshit.

Talha June 11, 2017 at 2:48 pm GMT

@anon And the fact remains that Israel is proportionally greedier for land than they are.

If a linebacker eats a whole five course meal of pot roast – it's not that amazing. If a five year old does it – it's a thing of astonishment.

You can also explain why Israel sells weapons to nations like Morocco and Indonesia.

Peace.

Ulfberth June 11, 2017 at 3:10 pm GMT

The countries who support Qatar are Iran and Russia only. Turkey has been in a swing state of being the US vassal, getting mad at it, flirting with Russia, etc
Germany is a joke.

jilles dykstra June 11, 2017 at 3:14 pm GMT

@Anonymous If you want to demonstrate that Trump is an amateur you must know what his objectives are, now, then afterwards you may be able to show that he failed.
At present there is doubt about what he really wants.

The analysis of prof Laslo Maracs, UVA, Amsterdam, of the Trump objectives is that Trump, and his rich friends, understand that going on with the Obama way will lead to their ruin, and the USA's.
Obama caused close economic cooperation between China en Russia.

In Khazakstan an enormous installation has been built, they call it a land port, where containers can be transferred from the Chinese railway system to the Russian.
Containers now can be transported from China to St Peterburgh in a few days.

The USA cannot subjugate the world militarily, politically and economically impossible.

Therefore Trump is at war with Deep State, those who still want the USA to militarily subjugate the world.
I still think that Trump's behavior can be explained by the mentioned analysis.

If Maracs is right, then it is greatest change in political course of the USA since Roosevelt in 1933 won the elections.
And of course a decisive change in world history.
Therefore the whole western world, and all countries dependent on the USA, such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, is in deep confusion.

jacques sheete June 11, 2017 at 3:46 pm GMT

@Talha Speaking of imperialist ( aggressive) expansion, "we" were warned against it time and again, but our lovely leadership has routinely ignored it.

I like this quote from the Republican anti-imperialist of a century ago.:

The American flag went up on Hawaii in dishonor; it came down in honor, and if it goes up again now it will go up in infamy and shame and this Government will join the robber nations of the world .

-R. F. Pettigrew, "Pettigrew's Speech". The Herald. Los Angeles. July 3, 1898 . p. 4.

The US would join the robber nations of the world? Ya think?

Ludwig Watzal Website June 11, 2017 at 4:13 pm GMT

"The Saker" is absolutely right about the characterization of the "Axis of Evil" that contains finally the right three rogue states: The US Empire, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. For sure, it's all about Iran but the time is over to attack this country, although the Israelis and the Saudis would love, it the US would do it. But even the Trump administration is not that stupid. To attack Iran would be the "stupidest thing I've ever heart", said the late Israeli Mossad chief Meir Dagen, when the two crazies in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu, and Barack, tried to convince or rather push the US into attacking Iran's nuclear installations, knowing that Iran is light years away from a nuclear device.

It speaks volumes that the US supports Saudi Arabia's open aggression and genocide in Yemen. But the failure shows that the Saudis are incapable of dealing with a bunch or Huthi rebels or just take Syria where they are just capable of financing foreign mercenaries and terrorist to overthrow an elected President. To rely on the Saudis is a lost cause.

That Russia wants to mediate in the created crisis and the Iranians and the Turks want to deliver goods, the later are even ready to send troops, is a good sign that this criminal endeavor of the three terror states, the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, is going to fail.

The Trump administration, however, is the first to blame because President Trump gave all the Muslim despots a free hand when he delivered his bizarre speech in Riadah and singled out Iran as the main "sponsor of Terrorism". After this grotesque performance, he visited the main terrorist state in the region, Israel. As long as the US is unconditionally loyal to Israel, they can't pursue their national interests. That such interests are identical or the relations between the two states are "unshakable" is just rhetoric. But that the US can't escape the deadly embrace shows whose interest the US political class is truly serving.

jacques sheete June 11, 2017 at 4:16 pm GMT

@jilles dykstra If you want to demonstrate that Trump is an amateur you must know what his objectives are, now, then afterwards you may be able to show that he failed.
At present there is doubt about what he really wants.

The analysis of prof Laslo Maracs, UVA, Amsterdam, of the Trump objectives is that Trump, and his rich friends, understand that going on with the Obama way will lead to their ruin, and the USA's. Obama caused close economic cooperation between China en Russia.

In Khazakstan an enormous installation has been built, they call it a land port, where containers can be transferred from the Chinese railway system to the Russian.
Containers now can be transported from China to St Peterburgh in a few days.

The USA cannot subjugate the world militarily, politically and economically impossible.

Therefore Trump is at war with Deep State, those who still want the USA to militarily subjugate the world. I still think that Trump's behavior can be explained by the mentioned analysis. If Maracs is right, then it is greatest change in political course of the USA since Roosevelt in 1933 won the elections. And of course a decisive change in world history. Therefore the whole western world, and all countries dependent on the USA, such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, is in deep confusion.

At present there is doubt about what he really wants.

I doubt that he knows beyond the license to strut around in our faces like the big cock of the dung heap.

Paradoxically, Trump's vast holdings make him extremely vulnerable. So, effectively, he's trapped unless he's prepared to lose much, and I highly doubt that he's into martyrdom in any form or degree.

Much about his running for office reminds me of Jesse Ventura's win in Minnesota back in '99.

I'm quite certain that Jesse put his money where his (also rather big) mouth was and ran for office, never expecting to win, but merely to use the bully pulpit to show the other money bags the middle finger. To his, and everyone else's shock, he won. Unfortunately, he was opposed by unopposable forces and though he did manage to push through some good legislation (!), it's all been undone. Jesse was a one term governor.

Anyway, it's: Hail, Humpty Trump! Sterquilinus has risen, again! Isn't he byoo-tiful? Cock-a-doodle- doo-doo!!!!!!

Yes, sumpin sitnks, but Hexen Hillary would've been MUCH worse Yuck!

Full disclosure.: I'm still a Ventura policy fan, though I could do without the pink boa!

[Jun 17, 2017] The draft bill of the new sactions for Russia is surprisingly candid about what is actually at stake, namely selling American liquified natural gas and ending the supply of Russian natural gas to the European markets

Jun 17, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

james | Jun 16, 2017 2:47:41 AM | 36

daily us press briefing thursday june 15th..

some interesting info on the sale of jets to qatar worth 12 billion and stuff like that..

and this

"QUESTION: Switching gears, Germany and Austria sharp – have sharply criticized the U.S. Senate today for moves aimed at advancing a new legislation packaging new sanctions against Russia, which tangentially deal with European countries as well. Austrian federal chancellor and German foreign ministry released a joint statement, and I wanted to read one line from it to get your response to this particular line: "The draft bill of the U.S. is surprisingly candid about what is actually at stake, namely selling American liquefied natural gas and ending the supply of Russian natural gas to the European markets."

MS NAUERT: Sorry, back up for a second? What did you say about the liquefied natural gas?

QUESTION: That the bill is trying to basically peddle U.S. LNG to the – to the European markets – markets instead of the Russian natural gas. The bill aims to protect U.S. jobs and the natural gas and petroleum industries. So what's your response to that?

MS NAUERT: Well, first, I'm not going to comment on anything that those nations said and their criticism of anything going on on Capitol Hill. We would see it – and we talked about this last week – we welcome the shipment of liquefied natural gas to Poland, to countries in that region, if that were to come – become available to them, because it helps give them another option, another option to get natural gas from other countries that are perhaps more stable or other countries that can perhaps provide a regular flow of natural gas.

Much of the natural gas in Poland, as I understand it, comes from Russia, and that can be inconsistent. Russia has the ability, as you well know, to turn off that natural gas, and that puts the Polish people in a very difficult situation. So the U.S. provided another option. A regular source of natural gas, especially in the winter months, we see as important for the United States and for our allies."

our allies... lol...

[Jun 17, 2017] Turkey is having its problems, but the Russian pipeline is moving along and managed by Russia; Syria, Iraq and Iranian gas could all become clients of the pipeline, generating significant revenue and jobs for Turkey as its hub

Notable quotes:
"... Although unlikely, it would be amusing if support for Qatar led to an improvement in the Iran/Turkey relationship. ..."
Jun 17, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

frances | Jun 17, 2017 7:44:31 PM

Although unlikely, it would be amusing if support for Qatar led to an improvement in the Iran/Turkey relationship.
Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jun 17, 2017 3:00:24 PM | 34

I agree Turkey is having its problems, but the Russian pipeline is moving along and managed by Russia; Syria, Iraq and Iranian gas could all become clients of the pipeline, generating significant revenue and jobs for Turkey as its hub. Far better that Turkey looks to Russia with its sane international policies than to the the US's EU puppet.

virgile | Jun 17, 2017 11:04:12 AM | 32
Turkey has fallen in yet another trap set by the USA to weaken Erdogan. Turkey has no more 'neighbors' friends, no more European friends, little american sympathy, and now it is about to loose his rich Gulf friends.

Erdogan's foreign policy is close to total disaster. The AKP success came from the economical reforms stimulated by the EU promises of adhesion and to the smart and peaceful influence of Gulen in Turkey's institutions and foreign policy.

Now Gulen and his allies are enemies. Turkey has gradually become a rogue state controlled exclusively by a megalomaniac man blinded by religion and money.

After the Syria quagmire, the Qatar-Saudi conflict and its impact on Turkey's economy, may turn to be fatal to Erdogan ruling.

[Jun 16, 2017] New Russia Sanctions Are All About Forcing the EU to Buy Overpriced US Gas

Jun 16, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

Any Darwin Awards fans out there? For those few who have never heard of them, the Darwin Awards celebrate those individuals who have rendered a significant service to mankind by taking themselves out of the global gene pool. In preparing to discuss today's subject, I am reminded of unfortunate 1999 award-winner 'James' from Missouri, who became so fixated upon his love interest that he tried to lop off his own head with a chainsaw to demonstrate his commitment to an outcome on his terms. Although he was ultimately unsuccessful on both counts, he did fatally injure himself, and died in hospital. Ashes to ashes; dust to dust.

My intent today is to demonstrate clear destructive similarities between the above emotional decision and the equally simpleminded decision of the US Senate to impose further economic sanctions on Russia, this time explicitly tying them to penalizing of European companies which do business with Russia – moreover, in a clear attempt to stop the latter from proceeding with the Nord Stream II gas pipeline project. This, in turn, is clearly an attempt by the USA to make Europe a captive market for its own energy products, in the form of shipborne LNG. Significantly, that goal is also finally becoming clear to Europe; or at least to the parts of it that matter, such as Germany (thanks for the tip, James!) Try to put aside, for the moment, the insufferable arrogance of American meddling in Europe's energy market, with a view to restricting its choice while – laughably – pretending it is broadening European energy options.

The readers and commenters of this blog will be well aware, since it has been a topic of discussion for years here, that a critical underpinning of the western plan to seize Ukraine and wrest it into the western orbit was the premise that Russia would be forced by simple momentum to go along with it. As long as events continued to unfold too quickly to get ahead of, Russia would have to help supply the sinews of its own destruction. And a big part of that was the assumption that Russia would help to finance Ukraine's transition to a powerful western fulcrum upon which to apply leverage against it, through continued trade with Ukraine and continued transit of Europe's energy supply through Ukraine's pipeline system. But Russia slapped a trade embargo on most Ukrainian goods, and rescinded its tariff-free status as it became clear Brussels planned to use it to stovepipe European trade goods into the Russian market, through Ukraine – thus crushing domestic industries which would not be able to compete on economically-favourable terms. The armchair strategists nearly shit a brick when construction of the South Stream pipeline commenced, bypassing Ukraine and depriving it of about $2 billion annually in transit fees. But pressure ultimately forced Bulgaria to throw a wrench into the works, and the pipeline plans were shelved, to much victory dancing in the west. There was not quite as much happy-dancing in Bulgaria , but they were only ever a pawn anyway.

Sidebar for a moment, here; while the $2 Billion annually in transit fees is extremely important, Ukraine's pre-crisis GDP was $163 Billion. The funds realized for transit fees are important because (a) Russia has to pay them and (b) the west will have to come up with the equivalent in aid if Ukraine loses out on them. But the real value intrinsic to Ukraine as a transit country is its physical reality as an interface for Russian gas transit to Europe – what is a bridge can be easily turned into a wall.

Any time Washington thinks Russia needs some more shit on its face, Ukraine can be prodded to announce a doubling of its transit fees, or to kick off some other dispute which the popular press will adroitly spin to make Russia appear to be an unreliable supplier. Therefore, it is essential to western strategy that significant amounts of Russian gas continue to transit Ukraine. Sufficiently so that Europe continues to evolve ever-more-desperate contingency plans in order to keep receiving gas through the country which was known to have provoked the previous shutoff of European supplies by siphoning Europe-bound gas for its own use. That's despite the assurances of Germany and western partners of Gazprom in the Nord Stream line that it will mean cheaper gas prices for Europe.

But we knew this was coming, didn't we? Yes, we did, because as recently as last month, Democratic senator Jean Shaheen, who sits on the Senate Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on European Affairs, announced that the United States was considering involving itself in the Nord Stream II pipeline project , with a view to killing it stone dead. The purpose, as already mentioned, is to make way for LNG cargoes to Europe, cutting Russia out of the business, on the assumption that without energy sales the Russian economy will crumble and the country will collapse. Destroying Russia remains Washington's overriding strategic objective.

So the stakes are high; high enough to provide context for Washington's bizarre and aggressive behavior, and for its continued ridiculous insistence that Russia tampered with the 2016 US presidential election. What are the chances Washington will succeed with its latest adventure in global bullying?

Not good, according to multiple sources. Let's take a look at how Platts views the prospects; Platts, a division of S&P Global , is headquartered in London and employs over 1,000 people in more than 15 offices worldwide. These include global business centers such as New York, Shanghai and Sao Paulo, and major energy centers such as Houston, Singapore and London, where Platts is based. Having hopefully established the firm's credentials as someone who knows what they are talking about in the energy business, let's see what Platts has to say about the potential American LNG market in Europe . Mmmm .the review is mixed. At the outset, Platts is admiring of Cheniere Energy's go-to-hell expansion. But a couple of things about that are cause to curb enthusiasm. One, only 8 American LNG cargoes had gone to Europe so far; that was as of April this year, when the report was released. Of those, 4 went to Spain, 3 to Portugal and 1 to Italy. Two, the Iberian Peninsula is acknowledged by Platts as not particularly significant in terms of gauging Europe's welcome of American LNG.

"Indeed, the fact that Portugal and Spain were the first European countries to import LNG from the US is telling The Iberian Peninsula is considered an "island market" with poor interconnection to the rest of Europe, so the delivery of US LNG into the region is not likely to be seen as a sign that it will take hold in the wider European market."

The same passage points out that Russia does not supply the Iberian Peninsula with pipeline gas, and so is unlikely to be very concerned about the impact of US LNG on that market.

Three, Cheniere's rapid expansion has come at a terrifying cost, and the company is currently – as of fall 2016 – overleveraged with approximately $20 Billion in long-term debt . It is unprofitable, with interest payments representing 60% of revenues, the living embodiment of 'bicycle economics'; the second you stop pedaling, you crash.

For what it's worth, few great business breakthroughs have occurred without risk, and while Cheniere is plunging ahead with what seems like recklessness, it could just as easily pay off with complete domination of the North American export market. That's a hell of a debt load, though; not much margin for bad news. That does expose a flaw in the American strategy, as well – wrestling control of the European supply market from Russia would be frighteningly expensive.

a little better than 3 Billion Cubic Feet (BcF) of natural gas, which is mostly methane. That equates to about .85 Billion Cubic Meters (BcM). But Europe uses about 400 BcM per year , assuming LNG could supply the whole European market, which is of course unrealistic. Especially considering the entire global LNG shipping fleet consists of about 410 vessels .

No LNG carriers are currently registered under the US flag, and if the USA plans to be a serious exporter it is going to need about 100 new LNG carriers over the next 30 years , something which is frankly not practically achievable considering it takes about 2 years to build one, at a cost of about $200 Million apiece . Of course, miracles can be made to happen if you pour enough money into them. But we've already somewhat nervously mentioned how much all this is costing – how does the likely return on investment shape up?

Well, what the fuck? Platts comes right out and says that Russia has the option of cutting its prices to ensure it undercuts LNG costs in order to keep its share of the European market!

"Russia clearly does have the option to undercut the US LNG price to ensure it keeps its share of its key European markets and could flood the market with cheap gas, maximizing revenues and cash flow at a time when producers worldwide are suffering from the impact of such low prices."

So, let me get this straight. All the attempts by the west, led as usual by Washington, to force energy prices down and keep them low actually benefit Russia by putting the USA in an unacceptable profit/loss loop so that it cannot afford to sell its LNG to Europe and still make money? That appears to be pretty much how it shakes out.

"Russia, thanks to the bearish oil price environment and an enhanced export strategy from Gazprom, increased its exports to Europe by 15% (through the Nord Stream, Yamal, and Brotherhood pipelines) to 118 Bcm, taking back its place as Europe's largest gas supplier in the process."

Wait! I think I see a solution. All the USA needs to do is apply its global leverage to make energy costs rise!

"But US LNG could face problems of its own – the current low prices are forcing ever growing numbers of US producers into bankruptcy. According to a recent report by Haynes and Boone, 90 gas and oil producers in the US and Canada have filed for bankruptcy between January 2015 and the start of August 2016."

Oh, hey; I just realized – if forcing energy prices back up were an option, how is that going to hamstring an opponent who was already able to undercut you at the lower price, and still turn a profit?

Platts closes out this dismal synopsis with the consolation prize that, while US LNG is less competitive with pipeline gas given narrow Henry Hub-NBP spreads, it is coming to Europe regardless. More of that old American can-do. It will have to be, though, on what is described as a short-run marginal cost basis. Would you feel comfortable with that forecast if you were carrying, say, $20 Billion in debt?

And it's not just Platts who sounds a warning; Forbes has a similar, if slightly more mocking outlook of the situation .

"Most of this is just political posturing and noise. The U.S. is not now and nor will it be in the near future a key resource for Europe's energy needs According to EIAs Annual Energy Outlook, published in April, the United States remains a net importer of fuels through 2040 in a low oil price scenario. In a high oil and gas price scenario, the United States becomes a net exporter of liquid fuels due to increased production by 2021. A lot can happen in seven years. By then, Exxon will likely be back to its deal with Rosneft in Russia's Arctic Circle."

As well, Forbes adds the interesting perspective that foreign sales of American gas will be a tough sell domestically if the pressure remains on the American leadership to achieve greater energy self-sufficiency and reduced dependence on foreign sources. This situation can only be exacerbated by a rise in anti-American sentiment around the world, and is likely to spike if energy prices rise. But if they stay low, American LNG exports won't make any money. If they go up, pipeline gas will undercut LNG prices and make it noncompetitive. Jeez, we just seem to be going around in circles. Say, did you notice that little item in there, in which the author mentions the only possible way the USA could compete with Russia in the natural gas market in Europe would be if it had national rights to substantial supplies of gas abroad? Did that give your memory a little tickle, and make you think of Burisma Holdings, and Hunter Biden ?

The Brookings Institute, for God's sake, warned that US LNG could not compete price-wise before the first LNG cargo ever left the USA. Given its sympathies, it seems probable it was intended as a sobering restraint meant to keep the United States from doing something stupid that might expose it to failure and even ruin; it is much less likely to have been an endorsement of Russia's global business practices.

As so often happens, an unhealthy fixation on taking down a largely imagined enemy results in increased risk-taking and a totally unrealistic appraisal of the likelihood of success – it becomes worth doing simply to be doing something. The costs in this instance have included the alienation and infuriating of Germany, the European Union's anchor economy, and angry murmurs from the Gulf States that Washington negotiated production cuts simply to make its own product more competitive. All for nothing, as it happens, because a nation with surplus swing production can always undercut your price, and the nation with the world's lowest production costs should be last on your list of "People I Want To Start A Price War With".

If you were opposed to official Washington's swaggering, bullying modus operandi , this whole unfolding of events probably seems pretty delicious to you. But I've saved the most delicious for last – Trump dares not make any effort to overrule the Senate vote, or get it reframed, because of the successful media campaign to portray him as Putin's secret agent. Any effort to mollify Germany's fury will be seized upon by the reality-challenged Democrats as an opportunity to further discredit the Trump government, by making it appear to be negotiating in Russia's behalf.

You couldn't make it up. PaulR , June 15, 2017 at 5:29 pm

One should never underestimate peoples` willingness to spend vast sums of money on worthless projects. Witness the Canadian government's recent announcement of its plans to increase defense spending by 70%.

When the dust finally settles, the Chinese will end up on top.

marknesop , June 15, 2017 at 5:47 pm
I think you're probably right about that. And if it turns out to be the case, British Columbia will turn out to be the most progressive province in Canada, with its large numbers of Chinese citizens and its Chines-language television stations. At bottom I am mostly a peaceful guy and I don't really care very much who rules the world so long as it doesn't impact my lifestyle.

Once I would have argued strongly for American global leadership, based on a perception that it offered the best chance for prosperity and enlightenment for everyone, but events since have changed my view. Now I think other countries should be left alone in terms of interference, helped where you can lend a hand, and global leadership is an unrealistic aspiration for any country led by humans, since human nature tends to favour self-interest.

I don't know what the Liberals think they are doing, pushing what is essentially an unachievable Conservative platform where defense is concerned. To what end? So we can interfere more effectively on the USA's behalf? We have a good military. There's nothing wrong with keeping it up to date and well-supplied and trained. But a 70% increase is impractical and is only likely to incur the wrath of the non-military portion of the electorate, since the money has to come from somewhere.

PaulR , June 15, 2017 at 5:38 pm
I hadn't been aware of the connection between the sanctions and LNG, so thanks for pointing that out.

Meanwhile, I read this:

'Germany and Austria on Thursday sharply criticized the U.S. Senate's plan to add sanctions on Russia, describing it as an illegal attempt to boost U.S. gas exports and interfere in Europe's energy market. [ ]

"We cannot accept a threat of extraterritorial sanctions, illegal under international law, against European companies that participate in developing European energy supplies," [German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said in a joint statement]. "Europe's energy supply is Europe's business, not that of the United States of America."'

https://www.the-american-interest.com/2017/06/15/the-us-is-exposing-europes-divide-on-nord-stream-2/

marknesop , June 15, 2017 at 5:58 pm
After all, many other European leaders have publicly clamored for U.S. LNG imports as a way to ease their dependence on Gazprom.

Who? The Baltics? Thanks for that. It's mostly a rehash of the other article, but it does include some interesting insights, and it has a little more credibility than ZeroHedge, although there's little in that with which I can find fault and its breaking news is usually accurate.

That the EU's energy policies are completely outside the USA's remit is correct, but it's a surprise to hear someone of Gabriel's stature actually say it. It seems the USA has decided that forcing Germany to abandon its support for the project is worth trying. That will turn out to be a disastrous mistake, because the business community in Germany contains some of America's staunchest supporters, while anti-Americanism among the German population – especially its youth – is a growing problem. This will do nothing to help it, and it most certainly is not going to persuade Germany to order American LNG.

I urge you to digest the Platts Report in detail, at your leisure – it's illuminating, and I'm sure you will note that Russia's LNG export capability is already far, far ahead of the USA's. So even if pipeline gas proved only competitive with LNG, why would anyone depend on supplies which have to cross the ocean rather than supplies that can come from Kaliningrad?

PaulR , June 15, 2017 at 7:12 pm
As if on cue, Evgeniia Chirikova denounces North Stream II in The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/14/gas-pipeline-nord-stream-2-funnel-billions-putin-bypass-sanctions
ucgsblog , June 15, 2017 at 7:23 pm
She's funny: "How can you shout about the transition to renewable, environmentally safe energy and at the same time make plans to increase gas flows into Europe?"

Uhh, Zhenichka, Russia is part of Europe, you can shout about it if you are increasing your energy dependence on both, and if one pipeline is simply replacing another. That's how. That was easy.

"Five European companies are involved but for some mysterious reason, 100% of the shares belong to Gazprom."

Because GazProm is paying $$$ for it. Zhenichka, in a Capitalist Society, those who pay for the shares, get the shares. Did I solve that mystery for you?

marknesop , June 15, 2017 at 10:23 pm
"Five European companies are involved but for some mysterious reason, 100% of the shares belong to Gazprom."

There is nothing mysterious about it; in fact, it is typical Guardian dishonesty. The Nord Stream II Project originally included minority shareholders as shown here . Then Poland introduced its anti-monopoly action and announced the pipeline could not be built. The partners dropped out, and left Gazprom to take the heat alone. When Poland failed in its bid to stop the project and it became clear the EU was all out of arrows – having never had a defensible legal basis – the partners hopped back on, but as investors only. I daresay they stand to make a good return on their investment even without being shareholders. Meanwhile, American meddling is only likely to make Europeans grateful attempts to stop the pipeline failed. I would not like to see their reaction if it ever became clear their governments had committed them to paying higher gas prices just to spite Russia, particularly in view of the USA's limited ability to provide reliable and constant supply.

The Guardian is just being a good American footsoldier, and trying to throw mud in the works for Uncle Sam.

yalensis , June 16, 2017 at 3:37 am
Chirikova works for the Estonian government now.
ucgsblog , June 15, 2017 at 7:16 pm
Beautiful article, and great timing Mark! I love it. This was one of the dumbest bills ever passed. It aimed at Russia, but it's just a take down of Germany. Reminds me of a recent Russian joke:

Obama: "America is mighty! Because of us, Russia's Economy is in ruins!"
Poroshenko: "not Russia's, sir. Ukraine's."
Obama: "Who gives a shit! It's in ruins!"

Also, here's what I'm wondering – can't Russia deliver it by truck or train? Won't that still be less expensive than delivering it by ship?

Jen , June 15, 2017 at 8:39 pm
Nordstream 2 is primarily a gas pipeline project under the Baltic Sea.

The main attraction of Nordstream 2 is it avoids transit through countries where tolls and transit fees would have to be paid, whether through land-based pipes, truck or train, and all these expenses added to the eventual cost that would be paid by the end consumer (ie the general public). Plus trucks and trains can be held up or subjected to attacks and gas in land-based pipelines can be siphoned off and diverted as was being done when the gas was passing through Ukraine originally. No such problems if the gas were being delivered through underwater pipelines though we can be sure that Swedish naval submarines (how many of those are there – one?) will be watching them very closely for phantom Russian subs.

marknesop , June 15, 2017 at 10:28 pm

I thought you were talking about LNG, from Kaliningrad. And if so, yes; it certainly could be transported by train, and probably would be.
Jen , June 16, 2017 at 5:46 am
Ah, I thought UCGS' original comment referred to your original post, not the one you sent at 5:58 pm yesterday.

Wouldn't transporting LNG by underground pipeline under its own pressure be a less risky and cheaper option than sending it by train? Trains carrying LNG can only carry so much and have to be specially adapted to transporting it. Plus they share rail networks with other trains so there are issues like how saturated the rail networks supporting LNG rail traffic, other cargo traffic and passenger traffic become, and the pressure this puts on drivers and maintenance of railway tracks, and building more rail lines in and through areas where pipelines could be laid down instead.

marknesop , June 16, 2017 at 8:56 am
It's possible; I'm afraid I don't know enough about it. It seems that when they speak of an LNG 'train', it refers to the liquefaction and purification facility , not a transport vehicle. In order to transport LNG it must be liquefied, which implies freezing it to below -161C. Naturally it must be maintained at a temperature which guarantees its stability as a liquid, until it is appropriate to return it to its gaseous form for use in that form. That's the purpose of the huge container vessels on an LNG tanker – you have to get it cold and then keep it cold.

I just don't know how you would do that in a pipeline. And obviously it would be wildly impractical for a train, I don't know what the hell I thought I was talking about. It could be done, but why? You'd need a hundred miles of teeny little flatcar-sized container vessels to equal what you can transport in an LNG carrier.

Your pipeline would have to originate at an LNG 'train' and terminate at another, somewhere else, so that the liquefaction/gasification process could be practically carried out, much as current NG pipelines use pumping stations. But you would also have to keep the LNG below -160C all the time it was in the pipeline. That's probably physically possible, too, if expense is no consideration, but it seems terribly impractical when NG already goes by pipeline safely at a fraction of what it would cost to transport LNG the same way.

Jen , June 16, 2017 at 2:30 pm
Ah, I see now of course you wouldn't need to transport NG in liquid form under 160C through pipelines. To transport it by ship or train though, it must be in liquefied form, presumably because as a liquid NG can be measured and quantified, and then exporters can work out how much they can charge for producing and transporting LNG. Not to mention of course that transporting commodities in gaseous form by train and ship is harder and riskier than transporting them as liquids.
marknesop , June 16, 2017 at 3:38 pm
As well, it needs to be liquefied in order to be compressed, to get the volumes you are looking for . One of those container vessels full of uncompressed NG wouldn't be much more than a good-sized European town would need for its barbecues.

LNG achieves a higher reduction in volume than compressed natural gas (CNG) so that the (volumetric) energy density of LNG is 2.4 times greater than that of CNG or 60 percent that of diesel fuel. This makes LNG cost efficient to transport over long distances where pipelines do not exist. Specially designed cryogenic sea vessels (LNG carriers) or cryogenic road tankers are used for its transport. LNG is principally used for transporting natural gas to markets, where it is regasified and distributed as pipeline natural gas.

That does highlight, as well, that if you can use road tankers there really is no reason you could not use trains. But anywhere it is practical to use trains or road transport, you would be asking yourself, "why can't I use a pipeline here?"

et Al , June 16, 2017 at 1:30 am
The US's intervention is even more pathetic than it seems.

This is not a stand alone anti-Russia bill which would signal strength from the US, but an adjunct to the anti-I-ran sanctions bill that continues to seek to punish I-ran in the vague hope that it will pull the plug on the cast-iron nuclear deal it has signed with international partners. The irony there is that I-ran Air is recapitalizing with both Airbus & Boeing (also ATR), 100 odd a piece, not to mention other significant investment opportunities for western firms.

They're quite the Gordian Tits!

Not only is there the potential of the Levianthan gas field off Cyprus/Israel/whatever, brutal dictator Azeri gas will also be arriving in (larger, but not gigantic) quantities. Not to mention that significant buyers of LNG, like the UK, have it come straight from Qatar. Is the US prepared to sell LNG at a discount compared to Qatar that has strategic agreements and its own fundamental interests to be protected by the Western (European) states as well?

So if this plan seems to damage not only the USA's allies but the USA itself, then what is its purpose? Stick it to Trump. Mire any plans to re-balance relations with Russia almost at any cost . It's a no brainer for Democrats as they neither hold a majority in the House or the Senate, and there seem to be enough dog whistle Republicans willing to go along with it, including those with mental problems like John 'Insane' McCaine. Ukraine is almost peripheral except as a convenient tool. It think the US accepts they've screwed the pooch on the Ukraine so its only value is to be used as a festering sore on Russia's frontier. Kiev mops up the completely free public political support whilst it is being kicked in the bollox by the same people.

Lyttenburgh , June 16, 2017 at 9:03 am
Whoop-whoop! A new article so soon!

"Try to put aside, for the moment, the insufferable arrogance of American meddling in Europe's energy market, with a view to restricting its choice while – laughably – pretending it is broadening European energy options."

"Invisible Hand of the Market" [nod, nod].

"And a big part of that was the assumption that Russia would help to finance Ukraine's transition to a powerful western fulcrum "

At first I read it as "western furuncle". That's what it became in the end.

First Rule of the Ukraine: "Every Peremoga turns into Zrada".Want to hear about yet another zrada ? Russia (okay – Mikhail Friedman) bought a German firm Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE) for $5.72 blns in 2015 . Why it's important? Well, because this firm carries out the reverse gas transition to the Ukraine, thus ensuring its [ha-ha, sorry, sorry!] "Energy Independence" which was officially proclaimed in the same 2015 A.D.

"No LNG carriers are currently registered under the US flag, and if the USA plans to be a serious exporter it is going to need about 100 new LNG carriers over the next 30 years, something which is frankly not practically achievable considering it takes about 2 years to build one, at a cost of about $200 Million apiece". Of course, miracles can be made to happen if you pour enough money into them.

Something-something-something Elon Musk something-something Super-technologies something-something-something Innovations! Progress!

And usual stuff, said by the people who believe that the Free Market will "Get the Things Straight" without governmental meddling. Like, Musk will invent cheap multi-use drone-rackets which will deliver gas to the clients across the Ocean. Why not?! They believe in all kinds of stupid stuff already!

The article is fresh breeze of actual facts and hard data – not your usual hurr-durring opinion pieces, passed as "analytics" by the esteemed think-tankers.

P.S. Mark, do you have the same e-mail address?

marknesop , June 16, 2017 at 1:19 pm
Thanks very much, NS!! I read a book some time ago which used newspaper and wire reports of the various times to thoroughly debunk most of the incidents of ships and aircraft 'disappearing without a trace' in the Bermuda Triangle. In incidents which resulted in total losses of the crew, the author also offered reasonable explanations for what likely happened. I have sailed through it many times myself and observed nothing untoward, although that does not mean much considering the amount of marine traffic which routinely does the same without incident.

Owners of LNG Carriers likewise play up how safe they are, and to the best of my knowledge there has never been a serious accident. However, on the scale of supply the USA is suggesting it wishes to achieve for itself, there could be no days taken off for bad weather, and carriers would have to transit the North Atlantic in winter – which is not generally a fun place to be. Most of my concern with the shipped method is its inherent unreliability compared with pipeline gas.

Northern Star , June 16, 2017 at 12:31 pm
"But Gazprom could block a lot of those cargoes by stepping up export volumes and selling them at prices below what can be achieved by U.S. LNG. Gazprom can export pipeline gas to Europe for $3.50 per million Btu (MMBtu) while American LNG would need prices of $4 to $5/MMbtu. Currently, Gazprom sells gas to Europe at a price of about $5.80/MMBtu on average, but could lower the price to beat U.S. LNG"

I do not see how the USA could begin to economically prevail over the Russians in a
"gas' war..given the above numbers.

"Of course, viewed another way, the growing U.S. export capacity – the mere existence of a competing source of supply – should push down the price that Gazprom is able to charge, a victory for Europe and a blow to Gazprom. Without U.S. LNG, its proponents argue, Russia would not be forced to accept lower prices. "It's the start of the price war between U.S. LNG and pipeline gas," said Thierry Bros, an analyst at Société Générale, according to the WSJ."

Moreover doesn't keeping a lid (cap) on what the Russians can charge for Gazprom gas ipso facto prevent the Americans from competitively pricing their LNG product..particularly in view of the first quote????
Either I'm a little dense today,or the American strategy here makes no sense whasoever.!!!!

http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/US-To-Undermine-Russias-Gas-Monopoly-In-Europe.html

marknesop , June 16, 2017 at 1:51 pm
The latter – the American strategy makes no sense, and its proponents are so high on can-do that you might have to shoot them to get them down. The USA cannot supply either the volume or the consistency of supply to snatch the gas market from Russia, and that must be evident to all but the crazy. As usual, Washington just hopes to get itself into the mix so it will have a seat at the table, because it cannot bear being left out of things and has long been of the opinion that America makes its own reality. Once again, if America owned or controlled substantial gas reserves on the continent and it were practical for the USA to run its own pipeline to Europe, it might be in with a chance if it had sufficient supply, and it is attempts to do that that we should be watching out for. There was speculation much earlier that control of substantial gas holdings was exactly what Burisma Holdings and Hunter Biden were up to in Ukraine, but gas extraction is not practical there right now and id assay results had been positive you can bet there would be a lot more American pressure to bring the war to a close.

On that note, I noticed over at Sputnik yesterday that Turchynov was pressuring Poroshenko to bag the ATO and turn it into a full-press military operation, which is just what recent reports said they did not dare to do in case the Ukrainian Army loses. The same report said Poroshenko is about to sign legislation which orders by decree that Donbas resume its place as part of Ukraine. If they say "Pound sand up your ass" as we know they will, Poroshenko may have little alternative to throwing everything he has at them. Of course, I can't find it now; I knew I should have drawn attention to it when I saw it.

I'm sure Russia is watching carefully.

Northern Star , June 16, 2017 at 12:49 pm
I assume the (shipped) American LNG would have to be regasified at a european import terminal. Consulting page six at the link, is it not problematic to then transport the regasified lng product to its (receiving) nation destination. The whole scheme smacks of going around the well to get an expensive cup of water!!!!!
http://documents.jdsupra.com/c6c4403f-ad9f-4740-b184-9fc1f88550ab.pdf
marknesop , June 16, 2017 at 1:53 pm
The liquid LNG can only be unloaded at an LNG terminal, and so far as I am aware a feature of them is that they are connected to a gas hub, so that they can regasify the product directly into the system.
likbez says: June 16, 2017 at 9:05 pm
What I do not understand is why Russians can't increase natural gas consumption dramatically and need to export that much: is it so difficult to build several large chemical plants, increase usage in city transport as less polluting fuel to 100%, promote dual fuel private cars, etc.

In this case they can export saved oil instead using regular tankers which is much simpler then LNG.

I think the current suppression of oil prices by Wall Street (and the new US method of production using along with production of shale oil a parallel production stream of junk bonds which will never be repaid) can't last forever. "Break even" oil price for most shale wells is probably over $60 per barrel. If not $80.

Also without capital investment the annual decline of conventional fields is around 5% a year (most of those fields are really old). Which means approximately 5 million barrels per day are taken off the market automatically each year (no OPEC action is needed), if zero capital investment are done.

Of course Sechin is IMHO a corrupt player here, who cares mostly about his own pocketbook (and stupidly increased investment just before the crash, which later required bailout of the company by the government), but still Russian government has the means to enforce its will even on rogue players.

[Jun 14, 2017] The Saudi War Against Qatar by Justin Raimondo

Notable quotes:
"... Which leads us to a larger question: who benefits? Clearly both the Saudis and the Israelis – whose semi-clandestine alliance has been documented in this space – had everything to gain from this intra-Arab spat. United by fear and hatred of Iran, Riyadh and Tel Aviv have been quietly cooperating to unite the Sunni Arabs against Iran – and draw the United States into open conflict with Tehran. Both abhorred and denounced the Iran deal, and are seeking to actively undermine it: that's another item at the top of the FDD/UAE meet up. ..."
"... Another factor is the relationship between Mr. Al-Taiba and Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and a powerful figure in the administration: the ambassador has been described as Kushner's " mentor " when it comes to schooling him on all matters Middle Eastern. Kushner, for his part, is a strong advocate for Israel. ..."
"... There are no innocents, no "good guys" in this part of the world: the reality is that all of these Middle Eastern actors have been subsidizing terrorist outfits, in Syria and elsewhere. The Saudis are perhaps the worst offenders : their worldwide network of radical Wahabist mosques and "educational" outfits has been pushing a terrorist agenda for decades. ..."
"... The UAE has also been a lucrative source of funding for radical Islamic terrorism, notably in Afghanistan and Pakistan . And while Qatar has not been stingy in this regard, its stance has been notably non-sectarian: while they've given support to the Muslim Brotherhood – perhaps the least radical Sunni organization – they are also capable of sending official congratulations to recently re-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. ..."
"... This is their great "sin" in the eyes of the Saudi-led Sunni Axis: they have tried to mediate the Sunni-Shi'ite religious war, which threatens the entire region with the kind of bloody turmoil that occasioned Europe's Thirty Years' War between Catholics and Protestants. ..."
"... The crazy notion that Iran is the world's leading exporter of terrorism is a page right out of the Israeli-Saudi playbook ..."
"... The Saudi-Qatari conflict has all the hallmarks of a joint Saudi-Israeli operation, complete with cyber-hacking, a full-scale propaganda war, and a clueless Uncle Sam stupidly falling for a brazen deception. What's amazing is that, despite the plethora of evidence that the whole thing is a pretty transparent put up job, the usual suspects continue to get away with it. ..."
www.moonofalabama.org

Despite the Qataris' claim – since verified by the FBI, according to Qatar's foreign minister – that the Qatar News Agency site had been hacked, and that the Emir had given no such speech, both the Saudis and the UAkE, through their official media outlets, launched a campaign targeting Qatar. Overflight rights were revoked: diplomatic contacts ended: Qatar citizens were forbidden to enter Saudi/UAE territory even to change planes. And in a public statement delivered in the rose garden of the White House President Trump clearly sided with the Saudi/UAE consortium, complementing a series of remarkably stupid tweets that basically said the same thing.

The US news media managed to get a Russian angle on all this, claiming that "Russian hackers" were behind the targeting of the Qatar News Agency: as usual they offered no evidence for this assertion. Yet just who was behind this hacking incident seems crucial to understanding the real genesis of – and motive behind – the Qatar controversy, which could augur a new regional crisis possibly dragging in Iran.

So let's look at the timeline in the context of yet another hacking incident, this one involving the hotmail account of Yousef Al-Otaiba, the UAE's well-connected ambassador to the US. The Saudi-Qatari conflict has all the hallmarks of a joint Saudi-Israeli operation, complete with cyber-hacking, a full-scale propaganda war, and a clueless Uncle Sam stupidly falling for a brazen deception. What's amazing is that, despite the plethora of evidence that the whole thing is a pretty transparent put up job, the usual suspects continue to get away with it. he hackers, who call themselves "GlobalLeaks," released a tranche of emails between Al-Taiba and individuals connected to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD). The Foundation is a pro-Israel thinktank originally called "Emet: An Educational Initiative, Inc.," founded in 2001 by a group of pro-Israel billionaires and designed to blunt growing American sympathy for the Palestinians. FDD has since expanded its mission, under chief honcho Clifford May, to encompass a full-scale projection of Israeli propaganda in the US. The Otaiba-FDD emails reveal extensive cooperation between the ostensibly ultra-Islamic UAE – which, like its Saudi allies and much of the Arab world, has never recognized the state of Israel - and the staunchly Zionist FDD. (See some of the emails here, here, here, and here.) A great deal of the back and forth is between FDD general counsel and former Bush era National Security Advisor John Hannah and Mr. Al-Otaiba.

The emails detail FDD's efforts to show Al-Otaiba that UAE companies doing business with Iran need to be sanctioned: a "target list" is included. The correspondence also details plans for a June 11-14 meeting with FDD personnel and UAE political and military officials, including the ambassador, FDD CEO Mark Dubowitz, and former US defense secretary Robert Gates. And most significantly, on the agenda was "discussion of possible U.S./UAE policies to positively impact Iranian internal situation" including "political, economic, military, intelligence, and cyber tools" designed to "contain and defeat Iranian aggression."

Hmmmm "cyber tools," eh?

Now add to the timeline this reporting by the New York Times:

"[T]hree days after the Trump meeting in Riyadh, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies held a conference in Washington dedicated to criticism of Qatar, titled 'Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood's Global Affiliates.'

"Robert M. Gates, the former defense secretary and a friend of Mr. Otaiba, gave the keynote. Attendees included many of the authors of the critical op-ed articles and senior Obama administration officials. Organizers encouraged Mr. Otaiba to attend, and his staff sent Abu Dhabi, the Emirati capital, a detailed report.

"No representative of Qatar was invited. The hack of the Qatari news agency took place after midnight that night."

What a coincidence!

As this piece in the Washington Post puts it, the speculation that "Russian hackers" under Russian state control are behind the Qatar hack is "unlikely." Emails from the hackers bearing Russian "(.ru) addresses seem designed to put detectives off the trail. The Post piece avers that hackers-for-hire were the responsible parties, but the question is: who were they working for?

Which leads us to a larger question: who benefits? Clearly both the Saudis and the Israelis – whose semi-clandestine alliance has been documented in this space – had everything to gain from this intra-Arab spat. United by fear and hatred of Iran, Riyadh and Tel Aviv have been quietly cooperating to unite the Sunni Arabs against Iran – and draw the United States into open conflict with Tehran. Both abhorred and denounced the Iran deal, and are seeking to actively undermine it: that's another item at the top of the FDD/UAE meet up.

Another factor is the relationship between Mr. Al-Taiba and Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and a powerful figure in the administration: the ambassador has been described as Kushner's "mentor" when it comes to schooling him on all matters Middle Eastern. Kushner, for his part, is a strong advocate for Israel.

There are no innocents, no "good guys" in this part of the world: the reality is that all of these Middle Eastern actors have been subsidizing terrorist outfits, in Syria and elsewhere. The Saudis are perhaps the worst offenders: their worldwide network of radical Wahabist mosques and "educational" outfits has been pushing a terrorist agenda for decades.

The UAE has also been a lucrative source of funding for radical Islamic terrorism, notably in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And while Qatar has not been stingy in this regard, its stance has been notably non-sectarian: while they've given support to the Muslim Brotherhood – perhaps the least radical Sunni organization – they are also capable of sending official congratulations to recently re-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

This is their great "sin" in the eyes of the Saudi-led Sunni Axis: they have tried to mediate the Sunni-Shi'ite religious war, which threatens the entire region with the kind of bloody turmoil that occasioned Europe's Thirty Years' War between Catholics and Protestants.

The idea that Qatar is solely responsible for the growth and development of Middle Eastern terrorism is laughable on its face: that narrative simply won't stand even the most careless scrutiny. And the proposition that Saudi Arabia is any kind of anti-terrorist bulwark is a cruel joke. That the Trump administration is taking this line is absolutely criminal: it amounts to appeasing and succoring the epicenter of radical Islamic terrorism.

The crazy notion that Iran is the world's leading exporter of terrorism is a page right out of the Israeli-Saudi playbook: for the Trump administration to echo this nonsense contradicts the facts and contravenes American interests in the region. For it is the Saudis who have been funding and arming ISIS, and al-Qaeda, in Syria. And the Israelis have openly proclaimed their preference for ISIS over Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad. It is radical Sunni fundamentalists, not pro-Iranian Shi'ites, who have been conducting a global jihad against American and European targets. Iran is fighting ISIS in Syria – while the US in bombing Syrian government troops, the main obstacle to the ISIS/al-Qaeda forces.

The Saudi-Qatari conflict has all the hallmarks of a joint Saudi-Israeli operation, complete with cyber-hacking, a full-scale propaganda war, and a clueless Uncle Sam stupidly falling for a brazen deception. What's amazing is that, despite the plethora of evidence that the whole thing is a pretty transparent put up job, the usual suspects continue to get away with it.

... ... ...

[May 30, 2017] Saudi nobility might escape leaving the peasantry behind to sort things out

May 30, 2017 | peakoilbarrel.com
Eulenspiegel says: 05/24/2017 at 3:20 am
Saudi Arabia and independend from oil? Good joke.

They are that wasteful, they never had to look for costs, they need foreign workers for anything they do – that won't work out.

At the moment they have zero income without energy sector, if you don't count the Hadsch around Mekka as income.
And they are too big to copy the Dubai model, just to build real estate as an industry to live from.

They could go solar – but then they should start to invest billions in infrastructure to sell the stuff to Europe and China now.

George Kaplan says: 05/24/2017 at 10:00 am
I'll bet some money is going into upgrading their escape pod fleet of jets.
Caelan MacIntyre says: 05/24/2017 at 6:31 pm
My chips in for that bet too. Leave the peasantry behind to sort things out.

Perpetual Fall to the Sun

[May 29, 2017] Irans Supreme Leader Saudis Are Worthless, Inept, Villainous Milk Cows for the Americans

May 29, 2017 | www.breitbart.com
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei launched his latest rhetorical broadside at Iran's arch-rivals in Saudi Arabia from a ceremony commemorating the Muslim holiday of Ramadan on Saturday. Khamenei said the Saudi rulers are "worthless, inept, and villainous."

Khamenei also insulted the Saudis as "idiots" for thinking they could purchase the friendship of "pagans and enemies" with their oil money, describing them as "milk cows for the Americans."

Khamenei said the Muslim world is in "grave danger" because of leaders like the Saudis and their "refusal to follow the Koran and lack of belief in the truth." The Saudi monarchy is a major force in the world of Sunni Islam, while Iran's theocracy leads the Shiites, putting them on the opposite side of a religious schism that reaches back to the 7th Century.

That ancient conflict is mixed with contemporary geopolitical concerns, such as the civil war in Yemen, which has become a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The Supreme Leader of Iran, which supports the Shiite Houthi insurgents against the internationally recognized government of Yemen, blamed the Saudis for the continuing bloodshed in that war-torn country, as well as the oppression of Shiites by the Sunni government of Saudi Arabia's allies in Bahrain. Iran's Foreign Minister recently added another link to that chain of blame by accusing U.S. President Donald Trump of emboldening the government of Bahrain to crack down on Shiite demonstrators.

"They act cordially towards the enemies of Islam while having the opposite behavior towards the Muslim people of Bahrain and Yemen. They will face certain downfall," Khamenei predicted.

He blasted the Saudis for signing a multibillion-dollar arms deal with the "infidel" Americans, saying that the money should have been used to "improve the lives of their own people."

Fox News notes that recently re-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, whose more moderate approach is frequently at odds with the "hardline" ayatollahs, has been calling for improved relations with Sunni nations.

"We want the rule of moderation and rationality in the relations between countries and we believe that a political solution should be a priority. The countries of the region need more cooperation and consultations to resolve the crisis in the region and we are ready to cooperate in this field," Rouhani said during a telephone conversation with the Emir of Qatar.

Rouhani's outreach to Qatar might be a little on the opportunistic side, since the emirate is currently experiencing a bit of turbulence in its relationships with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other major Saudi states. In fact, on Monday a minister from the United Arab Emirates described the rift as a "severe" crisis that could pose a "grave danger" to the future of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

[May 25, 2017] EconoSpeak Some Saudi-US History

May 25, 2017 | econospeak.blogspot.com
Given Donald Trump's new commitment to support military adventurism by Saudi Arabia in Yemen and more generally against Iran, it might be worth reconsidering how this alliance developed.

The beginning for Saudi Arabia was in 1744 when a wandering radical cleric, Mohammed bin Abdel-Wahhab met up with a local chieftain, Mohammed bin Saud in the village of Diriyah, whose ruins are now located in the suburbs of the current Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh. Wahhab converted Saud to his cause of spreading the strictest of the four Sunni shari'as, the Hanbali code, throughout the world, and this remains to this day the ideology of the House of Saud, the ruling family of Saudi Arabia, with this ideology widely known as Wahhabism. The territory ruled by the early Saudis expanded to cover a fair amount of the Nejd, the central portion of the Arabian peninsula, but when they threatened control of Mecca in 1818, ruled by Egyptians under the Ottomans who collected the moneys gained from pilgrims visiting there, the Egyptian leader, Muhammed Ali, invaded the Nejd and destroyed Diriyah. The Saud family moved to the next village over, Riyadh, and reconstructed their small state, which expanded again in the mid-1800s, although near the end of the century they were defeated and exiled to Kuwait by the rival Rashid family from Hail to the north of Riyadh.

In 1902 the 27 year old family leader, Abdulaziz bin al-Rahman bin Faisal al Saud, reconquered Riyadh and would eventually establish the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) through marital and martial conquests, with its modern boundaries established in 1932, and Abdulaziz (known in the West as "Ibn Saud") bearing the title of King and Protector of the Two Holy Places (Mecca and Medina), which he had conqurered in 1924. He would have 43 sons, and today's king, 81-year old Salman, is one of the last of them, and Abdulaziz would die in 1953. It should be noted that Saudi Arabia was independent of the Ottoman Empire, and was one of the few parts of the Muslim world that did not fall under the rule of a European power, along with Turkey, Persia/Iran, and Afghanistan.

In the early years, especially in the 1920s, he sought outside advice and support from the British, especially St-John Philby, the rival at Whitehall of T.E. Lawrence, and the first European to cross the Empty Quarter of the Arabian peninsula. Philby was especially helpful during the revolt by the combined forces of the Rashidi and the Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood) whom Abdulaziz managed to defeat in 1929, with the rebels pushing an ultra-fundamentalist line against Abdulaziz (an replay of this revolt occurred 50 years later in 1979, with the Ikhwan seizing control of the Grand Mosque in Mecca for a time). Philby would convert to Islam and take several wives. He was also the father of later Soviet spy, Kim Philby.

The first interest by anybody in the US came out of two agreements in 1928 and 1929, the Red Line Agreement that gave the territories of the former Ottoman Empire to a set of British and French companies, and then the As Is agreement of 1929 between Sir Henri Deterding of Royal Dutch Shell, Baron John Cadman of Anglo-Persian (now BP), and Walter Teagle of New Jersey Standard (now Exxon Mobil) at Deterding's Achnacarry Castle in Scotland. These agreements amounted to an early effort to divide up the oil producing world in a cartel. Out of this, Jersey Standard got Saudi Arabia, although at the time oil had not been discovered there. It would be in 1938 by geologists from Jersey Standard, and agreements for production with cash payments for Abdulaziz in gold bars were made. In 1948, Abdulaziz would become the first leader of an oil-producing nation to succeed in getting a 50-50 profit sharing agreement, and as oil production surged there in the 1950s and after, the money would begin to flow into Saudi Arabia providing the basis for its modernization, even as it retained its highly traditional and strict version of Wahhabist Islam and Hanbali shari'a law code.

While Saudi Arabia initially favored Nazi Germany at the beginning of World War II, much like Iran then, it gradually shifted to the Allied side, with FDR declaring the protection of Saudi oil reserves a US national interest in 1943, and the Saudis officially declaring war on Germany in early 1945. It is widely viewed in KSA that the alliance was sealed in 1945 when FDR was returning from Yalta shortly before his death and met briefly on a boat in the Suez Canal with King Abdulaziz, producing a famous photograph of the two of them smiling and shaking hands, shortly before FDR's death. And indeed, despite some ups and downs, the alliance has held since, with oil at its center.

Given that, the nature of the relationship has changed substantially over time. One major change, signaled initiallly by that 50-50 profit sharing agreement in 1948, was an increase in Saudi control over the oil aspect of it, with OPEC founded in 1960, which would impose a quadrupling of oil prices in 1973 in the wake of the Saudi oil export embargo against the US for the US supporting Israel in the Yom Kippur war of that year. Prior to that embargo, KSA had managed to nationalize ARAMCO, the Arabian-American Oil Company, which produced the oil in Saudi Arabia, the original owners of ARAMCO being Jersey Standard, New York Standard (Mobil, now merged with Exxon), Texaco, and California Standard (now Chevron). These companies, especially Exxon Mobil, continue to have an active relationship with ARAMCO, but the Saudis have been in control of their oil and their oil industry since the beginning of the 1970s. This shifted the relationship to being one more of the US becoming the protector of KSA, providing it with arms as the petrodollars poured in, and this aspect of the relationship has reached a new height with this latest visit and arms deal, arranged by former Exxon Mobil CEO and now SecState, Tillerson.

It is worth noting also that for most of the postwar period probably the major irritant in the Saudi-US relationship has been Israel, which even now KSA does not recognize, and Trump's flight from Riyadh to Tel Aviv was the first such direct flight on that route ever. Israel supporters for many years complained about "Arabists" in the US State Department who were more oriented to worrying US oil interests in the Middle East and especially in Saudi Arabia. But today there is now an alliance of convenience between KSA and Israel in their mutual dislike of Iran.

Which brings us to the current situation. I personally think that the current Saudi leadership has gone off the rails in their anti-Iran attitudes. The differences are both sectarian and ethnic, Sunni versus Shi'i Islam and Semitic Arabs versus Indo-European Iranians, with this manifesting itself in a regional power struggle. But this is a relatively recent conflict, only getting going since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, and only getting really hot with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein by the US under George W. Bush. It was the Saudis who convinced Bush's dad not to go to Baghdad to overthrow Saddam in the 1991 Gulf War, arguing that he kept a balance of power as a Sunni Arab leader against Iran. And they argued with Bush, Jr. not to go in for the same reason, although they would support the US effort modestly once it happened, even though it aggravated Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda against the Saudi monarchy for supporting the US so openly (even though the US had supported the decision by then Saudi intel chief, Turki bin Faisal, to send bin Laden to Pakistan to aid in the anti-Soviet campaign in Afghanistan). But the replacement of a Sunni-led regime in Iraq by a Shi'i led one supported by Iran has upset the Saudis greatly. They also do not like Iranian support of Assad in Syria, who appears to have won his war against largely Sunni rebels, many of them supported by KSA, and now the Saudis are bogged down in a war in Yemen against local Zaydi Shi'a, whom they claim (not with full credibility) are being supported by Iran. So they, and the Israelis, want the US to join them in an anti-Iran crusade.

I think we are at a dangerous moment here. The nuclear deal with Iran is the most importantdeal that Obama made, and even the Saudis and Israelis know it. What they do not like about it is that it meant that the economic sanctions on Iran were relaxed. But most of those sanctions were only put on to get Iran to the nuclear negotiating table. There is no way they can be reimposed without Iran returning to having a nuclear program. The most influential person in KSA now appears to be the son of King Salman, 31-year old Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister, who gets lots of good press in the US. But for all the talk of reform, he has not moved to let women drive or to desegregate workplaces by gender. He seems to be a warmongering hothead who has pushed this so far fruitless and destructive war in Yemen, which has led to incipient famine in that nation as well as its likely falling apart into pieces. He has even talked about "taking the war to Iran," which we can only hope that he will not be tempted to do with all those fancy arms that he is buying from the US. Trump, or whoever is in charge of US foreign policy in the near term, will really have to both defend the nuclear deal with Iran and resist this warmongering push by our longtime erstwhile ally. Let us hope that this is done.

Barkley Rosser Posted by rosserjb@jmu.edu at Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Pinterest 6 comments:

Peter T said...
I'm not sure what the drivers of the US hate on Iran are, beyond beltway irritation at a smallish country that refuses to acknowledge US supremacy. War is, I think, unlikely - Iraq nearly broke the US army, and Iran would be much worse; Iran has an open backer in Russia, and a silent one in China, and reasonable relations with all its neighbours (so nowhere to base an invading force). It's also quite careful diplomatically - it does what it feels to be in its interests, but does not go out of its way to provoke.

KSA could panic as the Shi'a consolidate power in Iraq and Syria and their prestige rises across the Islamic world but, again, they lack the access, forces and local allies to do much - and can they afford a defeat?

btw, Iran did not have a nuclear weapons program, and is unlikely to start one even if the US reneges on the deal. Aside from religious objections, Russia and China would not approve, and it would deprive Iran of a chance to split the EU from the US.

All that said, Bush II was staffed by some of the dumbest fucking guys on the planet, and they were geniuses compared to Trump's picks.

May 24, 2017 at 6:14 AM
bbk said...
Good stuff. But while Ikhwan means "Brethren" or "Brotherhod" and the Muslim Brotherhood's name in Arabic contains the word "Ikhwan", I don't think the Saudi Ikhwan is related to the modern Muslim Brotherhood in any way other than both using the word in their name.

The Ikhwan was the part of the Al-Saud military forces in the early 20th century who eventually revolted against the Saudi regime when the Ikhwan felt the Saudi's had gone too "soft" in their religion and refused to spread the Wahhabi creed via Jihad to the Trans-Jordan, Kuwait, and other areas controlled by the British. When the Ikhwan raided British areas the Brits retaliated and the Saudis didn't want trouble with the British so they fought the Ikhwan with the help of the British. The Ikhwan were defeated with the help of British airplanes and military vehicles.

According to wikipedia the remnants of the Ikhwan formed what is today the Saudi Arabian National Guard which is apparently tasked with protecting the royal family and crushing internal dissent.

May 24, 2017 at 11:25 AM
rosserjb@jmu.edu said...
Actually they had a nuclear weapons program that dated to the time of the Shah and that was initially supported by, well, the US. It was shut down after the Islamic Revolution. Then it was started up again under Rafsanjani in the late 1990s, only to be shut down about the time the US invaded Iraq, arguably one of the few positive things to come out of that invasion. Official US National Intelligence Estimates (NIE)s after then agreed that there was no active Iranian nuclear weapons program. In effect what the Iran nuclear deal did was to scale back their capability to have one, although they still have such a capability, and, of course, they have a civilian nuclear power program that is very popular in Iran.
May 24, 2017 at 11:27 AM
Peter T said...

No argument - although I think the program under Rafsanjani was more exploration than active development. Iranians are touchy about the civil nuclear program because for them it's a touchstone for respect for their rights as an independent nation. In their view, they joined the IAEA, signed up to the NPT, abided by all the rules and got sanctions, theft of frozen money and threats.

If the US priority were fighting terrorism, then Iran (and even Syria) would be better allies than Saudi (or Pakistan). But history has its own inertia...

May 24, 2017 at 9:37 PM
Unknown said...
Total agreement with Peter T that if fighting terrorism is a priority, hostility to Iran makes little sense. All the major terror groups are Shia with the exception of Hezbollah, but it not a threat to the US or Europe.
May 25, 2017 at 8:22 AM
Elwailly said...
Unknown said...
... All the major terror groups are Shia with the exception of Hezbollah, but it not a threat to the US or Europe.

He means they are all Sunni with the exception of Hezbollah, which is Shia.

(In reality Hezbollah was never a terrorist group in the traditional sense of fostering attacks against civilians. Their sin was fighting the Israelis.)

May 25, 2017 at 6:07 PM

[Apr 22, 2017] The 'Russification' of Oil Exploration - The New York Times

Apr 22, 2017 | www.nytimes.com

MOSCOW - The American and European sanctions against the Russian oil industry have dashed, at least for now, the Western oil majors' ambitions to drill in the Arctic Ocean.

But drilling will continue all the same, Russian government and state oil company officials have been taking pains to point out, ever since the sanctions took effect over the summer.

"We will do it on our own," Igor I. Sechin, the president of Russia's state-controlled oil company, Rosneft, told journalists in October. "We'll continue drilling here next year and the years after that."

Rather than throw in the towel in the face of Western sanctions intended to halt Russia's Arctic oil ambitions by stopping technology transfers, the Russians have responded with plans to "Russify" the technology to be deployed in the world's largest effort to date to extract oil from the thawing Arctic Ocean.

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The solution to tapping the Arctic, Yevgeny Primakov, a former prime minister, told a group of high officials in October, "is found first of all in our own industrial base."

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A major hurdle is already cleared: An Exxon-led joint venture discovered oil in the Russian sector of the Arctic Ocean in September, proving the region holds commercially viable volumes of oil.

Rosneft is already laying plans to drill without Western oil major cooperation. Along with Exxon, Eni of Italy and Statoil of Norway had joint ventures to work with Rosneft in the Kara, Laptev, and Chukchi seas above Russia.

After the September sanctions suspended those deals , Rosneft negotiated to rent from Gazprom four Russian ice-class drilling rigs for next season's exploration work, should Exxon still be sanction-barred from doing the work next summer.

Rosneft has also booked six rigs from North Atlantic Drilling, a unit of Seadrill of Norway, under contracts signed in July and grandfathered in under the sanctions.

The Russians are in early talks with the Chinese over sailing rigs from the South China Sea to the Arctic Ocean, industry executives say.

This spring as the threat of sanctions loomed, Rosneft bought the Russian and Venezuelan well-drilling business of Weatherford, adding to its in-house capabilities.

A further "Russification" of the industry seems inevitable. In October, President Vladimir V. Putin approved the creation of a state-owned oil services company, RBC, a Russian business newspaper reported. The intention is to duplicate, as well as possible, the services purveyed now by Halliburton, Baker Hughes and Schlumberger.

Certainly, some in the oil industry see the Russian official response as bluff, asserting Rosneft has neither the skills nor the capital to drill for oil in its 42 offshore licenses blocks. Under the joint ventures, the Western companies financed and managed the exploration work.

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The three companies, Exxon, Eni and Statoil, were to invest $20 billion in exploration, and the company has been mute on how it will replace that. Just this summer, Exxon paid $700 million to drill the Universitetskaya-1 well in the Kara Sea.

Russia, meanwhile, does not even manufacture subsea hardware like well heads. Rosneft's finances are restricted to 30-day loans under sanctions.

Yet the company and the Russian industry are already tooling up for just such an effort.

The sheer uncertainty of sanctions is pushing the Russian industry to turn inward. Russian companies, even those who prefer to work with U.S. oilfield equipment or services providers because the cost or quality is better, can never know when new sanctions might scuttle a deal.

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"The client looks at you and says 'I like you, I like your product, but you are not dependable,' " Alexis Rodzianko, the director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia said in an interview.

Russia now has a "hierarchy of procurement" placing domestic and Asian companies first, U.S. companies last.

"The consensus in Russia is this is not a one-off, short-term problem," Ildar Davletshin, an oil analyst at Renaissance Capital in Moscow, said in an interview, of the Russian effort to pivot to domestic and Asian suppliers.

"Nobody will just sit and wait" for sanctions to be lifted, he said.

Whether Russian technology can fill the gap left by Western oil majors as the country prepares for the extraordinary engineering challenge of oil drilling under the Arctic ice remains an unsettled question within the industry.

Russia brings Soviet legacy technologies, including the world's only fleet of nuclear icebreakers, awesome machines of immense power, with names like 50 Years of Victory and Yamal, which sail year-round in the Arctic Ocean.

"Let's not underestimate them," said one oil company executive who visited Exxon's West Alpha rig this summer, but could not speak publicly because of company policy. Russians are no strangers to the north, and the cold. "They are determined to do it. They might do it on their own."

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The Russian intention to do just that became clear out on the Arctic Ocean at the end of the short drilling window this summer.

Ice floes were already creeping down from the polar ice cap in tongues when the U.S. government announced Sept. 12 that Exxon was to halt all assistance to Rosneft by Sept. 26, in response to Russian military assistance to a rebel counteroffensive against the Ukrainian Army in late August.

The Exxon crew stopped drilling, though the well was only about 75 percent complete.

In an early indication of the Russians' intentions to go it alone after sanctions, Rosneft executives told Exxon they would not allow the West Alpha rig to leave Russian waters without finishing the well, according to the oil company executive familiar with events on the platform in September.

If Exxon withdrew American engineers, Rosneft would fly out a Russian replacement crew, putting the localization plan into immediate action, the executive said. Rosneft's press service contested this characterization of the company's position, calling it a "fiction."

In the end, Exxon obtained an extension on its waiver to the sanction from the U.S. Treasury Department, stretching the window for work with Rosneft in the Arctic until Oct. 10.

The Arctic Ocean, Mr. Sechin said later that month in the interview with Bloomberg News at the drilling site in the Kara Sea, is Russia's "Saudi Arabia" of oil, vast and pivotal to Russia's national interests.

Rosneft's website estimates the Kara Sea's reservoirs hold about 87 billion barrels of oil and the equivalent in natural gas , calling this more than the deposits of the Gulf of Mexico, the Brazilian shelf or the offshore potential north of Alaska and Canada.

After a daylong pause on Sept. 12 to Sept. 13, the Russian brinkmanship worked: The American crew continued drilling and about a week later, in mid-September, discovered a vast oil deposit, holding about 750 million barrels of oil. Mr. Sechin thanked Western partners for the find, and named the field Pobeda, or Victory.

[Apr 21, 2017] Despite Sanctions, Russia Finds Buyers for $11 Billion Stake in Rosneft - The New York Times

Apr 21, 2017 | www.nytimes.com

MOSCOW - The Russian government announced Wednesday that it will sell nearly 20 percent of its state oil company, Rosneft , to the Swiss commodity trading firm Glencore and the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar.

The deal defies expectations that no investor would dare buy a share in the Russian asset, given Western sanctions against the government of President Vladimir V. Putin.

But the emergence of foreign money suggests that investors are reassessing the sanctions after the election of Donald J. Trump, who has advocated warming ties with authorities in Moscow and is considering the chairman of Exxon Mobil, Rex W. Tillerson, as a candidate for secretary of state.

Mr. Tillerson criticized the sanctions as harmful for business after they halted an Exxon joint venture with Rosneft to drill for oil in the Kara Sea, in Russia 's sector of the Arctic Ocean.

The deal will bring Moscow $11.3 billion to help plug a widening budget deficit as Russia fights two wars, in Syria and Ukraine, and has struggled to meet pension payments and public-sector payrolls.

The agreement came as a surprise twist in the privatization of Rosneft. With an end-of-the-year deadline looming, no buyers had come forward for the 19.5 percent share in the world's largest publicly traded oil company, as measured by production and reserves. The apparent lack of bidders was a pessimistic sign for investor interest in Russia.

The Russian government had for most of the year planned to sell shares back to the majority state-owned company itself, which would hardly have qualified as a genuine privatization.

The United States decided in 2014 to impose sanctions on Rosneft and other Russian companies in response to Russia's intervention in the war in eastern Ukraine..

The sanctions limit long-term lending and transfer of American technology for drilling offshore and shale oil deposits.

The deal carries other risks as well. Both Glencore and the Qatari fund, the Qatar Investment Authority, have extensive investments in emerging markets. The Qatar fund is also an investor in Glencore.

The announced price valued Rosneft at $58 billion, slightly less than the company's stock market value at the close of trading in Moscow on Wednesday, of just under $59 billion.

Both the market price of shares and the sale price for the 19.5 percent stake announced Wednesday are a relative bargain, indicating the Russian government's eagerness to cut a deal to shore up its finances.

[Apr 18, 2017] PressTV-Saudis to shelve projects as cheap oil bites

Apr 18, 2017 | www.presstv.ir
Saudi Arabia has reportedly canceled or restructured economic and infrastructure projects worth billions of dollars.

Reuters in a report quoted government sources as saying that the Saudi government had ordered ministries and organizations to review the projects to either scrap or make them more efficient.

The report added that most of the projects that had been targeted were those that had been devised during lavish government spending buoyed by crude oil prices above $100 per barrel.

However, they would no longer be cost-efficient with oil at below $55 per barrel.

Riyadh's Bureau of Capital and Operational Spending Rationalization is now assessing the projects that are under 25 percent complete, the sources told Reuters.

"Some projects could be retendered so they can be executed in partnership with the private sector, possibly through build-operate-transfer (BOT) contracts," one source familiar with the plan told the agency.

"Other projects could be suspended if they do not meet the current economic objectives," the source said.

The finances of Saudi Arabia, the world's second largest crude producer after Russia and largest oil exporter, have been hit by a downturn in oil prices that were above $100 a barrel in 2014, but start to plunge to well below $40 in 2016.

The plunge in global oil prices prompted Riyadh to rein in public spending in a bid to save money. The kingdom's economic measures are being led by Salman's son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud.

Earlier last year, the Riyadh regime cancelled financial perks for public sector employees and slashed salaries of ministers and members of the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia, also known as the Shura Council.

It further froze major building projects and made unprecedented cuts to fuel and utilities subsidies. Ren Lugay 18 hours ago Hmmm, no money to complete social infrastructure projects but always spare cash to buy cluster munitions from the Great Satan and Israel to bomb innocent civilians in Yemen.

[Apr 18, 2017] PressTV-Riyadh launches massive renewable energy plan

Apr 18, 2017 | www.presstv.ir
Saudi Arabia has launched a massive multi-billion-dollar plan which is expected to increase the kingdom's production of electricity from renewable sources by 10 percent within the next few years.

Reuters said in a report that the plan envisaged the construction of 30 solar and wind projects by 2023.

The projects – that would be meant to boost the kingdom's electricity generation and reduce crude oil burning – could generate 9.5 gigawatt of renewable energy.

The initiative involves investment estimated between $30 billion and $50 billion, Reuters reported.

On a related front, the news service said the Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih on Monday announced the beginning of the bidding for a project to produce 300 megawatt of solar power.

The project is expected to come online by 2018-2019.

"The energy mix to produce electricity will change, today the kingdom uses large quantities of oil liquids, including crude, fuel oil and diesel," Falih was quoted as saying.

"So the percentage of renewable energy by 2023 (will be) 10 percent of total installed capacity in the kingdom."

Based on an ambitious economic reform program launched last year, known as Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia is seeking to use non-oil means to generate much of its additional future energy needs to avoid running down oil resources and diversify its economy.

The kingdom is restructuring its energy sector as part of Vision 2030 and a focus on renewable projects is a pillar of this transformation as it would help develop the private sector and create thousands of jobs, Reuters added.

[Apr 17, 2017] China crude oil imports increased to a record 9.21mb/day in March 2017 versus 8.32mb/day in February 2017

Apr 17, 2017 | peakoilbarrel.com
Energy News says: 04/15/2017 at 10:35 am
China crude oil imports increased to a record 9.21mb/day in March 2017 versus 8.32mb/day in February 2017 (7.33 barrels per ton conversion) – Chinese customs data. I guess China is still filling it's SPR.

Before I had read this I had been wondering why news articles were saying that world oil inventories had decreased a little. Inventories often build into April. Also news agencies estimates are still saying that OPEC oil exports are holding steady and have not decreased in line with their production cuts, I guess that they have been exporting from their inventories.

inventory declines, news clips

Reuters Apr 11, 2017 – Nordic bank SEB said global oil inventories in weekly data have dropped by 42 million barrels in the last four weeks.
http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-oil-opec-storage-idUKKBN17D1NH

Bloomberg 2017-04-04 – Since mid-February, between 10 million and 20 million barrels have left the Caribbean
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-03/oil-traders-said-to-drain-caribbean-hoards-as-opec-impact-hits

Clipper Data Apr 6, 2017 – This week we have seen Iranian barrels drop to 5 million barrels, while barrels offshore of United Arab Emirates have halved in the last week, dropping to just under 10 million barrels.
http://blog.clipperdata.com/floating-storage-holding-up-despite-iran-drop

[Apr 12, 2017] Denmark seeks to change law on pipelines amid Nord Stream 2 divisions

Apr 12, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

et Al , April 10, 2017 at 5:00 am

Euractiv with Neuters: Denmark seeks to change law on pipelines amid Nord Stream 2 divisions
http://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/denmark-seeks-to-change-law-on-pipelines-amid-nord-stream-2-divisions/

Denmark's government is proposing amending legislation to allow it to ban pipeline projects on the grounds of foreign and security policy, due to concerns raised by Russian efforts to build a disputed gas pipeline through Danish waters.

"We want to have the possibility to say yes or no from a perspective of security and foreign policy," the minister of energy and climate, Lars Christian Lilleholt, told Reuters, adding that it was currently only possible to veto such projects on the grounds of environmental concerns .

Denmark and Sweden earlier this year requested that the European Commission intervene in Nord Stream 2 before the two states agree on permits for the pipeline to pass through their waters. EU diplomats said there was little scope for either nation to block the plan.

The current regulatory framework does not allow Denmark to say "no" to the construction of transit pipelines in territorial waters on the basis of foreign policy considerations, the ministry said in a statement .

EU sources have said the Commission, sensing that there may ultimately be no legal basis to block approval of Nord Stream 2, is delaying it as long as possible .

Denmark's right-wing minority government would now negotiate with other parties to win support for the proposal.
####

' sensing that there may ultimately be no legal basis to block approval..' – Well that's quite a polishing of the EU turd when we know that the EU has no legal way to block the pipeline, sic the opinion of the EU's own Legal Service. How delicate the EU stuffed suits are that they cannot just admit it outright. Oh, but that would be a propaganda victory for Russia. They should be grateful because if they had blocked it, it would have been a very clear message that the EU's Rule of Law which it proudly pronounces around the world is barely a fig leaf that is dropped as the slightest political pressure. It's a joke already, but with a project as big as . as it has done with much political decisions

marknesop , April 10, 2017 at 5:56 am
While they're creating magic out of whole cloth, why not a law that anyone who discovers significant gas deposits anywhere must immediately hand them over to the EU for their exclusive use and disbursement? Or a law that orders massive new gas deposits be discovered in Denmark?
et Al , April 10, 2017 at 6:43 am
I suspect that the government is having a slow news day and as there is absolutely no consequence to Russophobia as it is essentially a free gift that keeps on giving when and wherever is needed, i.e. to distract from domestic politics.

The Whole G7 'How can we f/k up Russia further' conveniently segues with the improvement of Russia's economy and the continued failure of G7 sanctions against Russia. I'm not really sure what else they can do without shooting themselves in the foot.

There's already been some whinging that the West's actions have only further driven it in to China's arms, so WTF? I guess they have to come up with something that looks tough, but isn't. After all, they will need to put out a key statement signed by them all. IN short, 'This spade is far too small. Let's go and get another one!'.

[Apr 06, 2017] Russia quietly cutting oil output while looking at broader prospects

Notable quotes:
"... "Russia is reducing its oil production in stages, in accordance with the plans we worked out voluntarily with our production companies," ..."
"... "We anticipate complying with the figure outlined in the agreement by the end of April," ..."
"... "Undoubtedly, and this could be an even more important factor, is the situation on the market linked with the balance between supply and demand and the situation with regards to the development of the situation with oil reserves and oil product reserves in the OECD countries and the countries in the world as a whole," ..."
"... "And we will be following this closely; it will be important for us to know what's going to happen in April, the forecasts for May and June and the second half of next year," ..."
"... "Currently, we are producing about 17 percent of our total oil production in the Arctic. In 20 years, in accordance with our strategic plans, this share will increase to as much as 26 percent. But the figures for gas will be even more interesting to you. We currently produce 80 percent of our gas in the Arctic," ..."
"... "As far as energy independence is concerned I don't think this is anything new for the United States. It's unlikely that at any time it was ever US policy to increase its dependence on imported energy resources," ..."
"... "It's clear that we are all assessing the situation in a sober fashion, we understand that there will be a rise in the production of shale oil. Again I want to say that we need to look at the situation as a whole throughout the world," ..."
Apr 06, 2017 | www.rt.com
Moscow is fully complying with the deal to cap oil production, while accurately evaluating longer-term structural developments in the market, according to Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak. In March, the country's producers reduced output by 200,000 barrels per day as the decrease in January and February was ahead of the original plans, according to the minister. 'Largest discovery' of oil off Scottish coast could raise chances of independence

"Russia is reducing its oil production in stages, in accordance with the plans we worked out voluntarily with our production companies," Novak said in an interview with CNBC at the International Artic Forum in Arkhangelsk on Thursday.

"We anticipate complying with the figure outlined in the agreement by the end of April," he said, stressing that the reduction target was 300,000 barrels per day.

According to Novak, overall supply and demand trends will be a major reason for Russia to support renewing the agreement at the end of May.

"Undoubtedly, and this could be an even more important factor, is the situation on the market linked with the balance between supply and demand and the situation with regards to the development of the situation with oil reserves and oil product reserves in the OECD countries and the countries in the world as a whole," said the energy minister.

"And we will be following this closely; it will be important for us to know what's going to happen in April, the forecasts for May and June and the second half of next year," he stressed.

The minister has also pointed to the importance of the Arctic region for Russia's energy strategy.

"Currently, we are producing about 17 percent of our total oil production in the Arctic. In 20 years, in accordance with our strategic plans, this share will increase to as much as 26 percent. But the figures for gas will be even more interesting to you. We currently produce 80 percent of our gas in the Arctic," he said, adding that new production was ongoing on the Arctic shelf.

The minister's comments followed the recent changes in US policy to increase the country's energy independence. There has been a resurgence in the activity of US shale producers that could lead to increased supply to the global market given a rebound in the oil price.

"As far as energy independence is concerned I don't think this is anything new for the United States. It's unlikely that at any time it was ever US policy to increase its dependence on imported energy resources," he said.

At the same time, the boost in shale oil production may reach up to 400,000 barrels a day this year, according to Novak.

"It's clear that we are all assessing the situation in a sober fashion, we understand that there will be a rise in the production of shale oil. Again I want to say that we need to look at the situation as a whole throughout the world," the energy minister concluded.

[Mar 05, 2017] Cooking The Books? Saudi Aramco Could Be Overvalued By 500 pecent

Mar 05, 2017 | peakoilbarrel.com
Boomer II says: 03/04/2017 at 5:53 pm
This article came out on February 28. I don't think it's been posted here.

Cooking The Books? Saudi Aramco Could Be Overvalued By 500% | OilPrice.com : "WoodMac puts Aramco's true value closer to $400 billion, eighty percent less than the Saudi estimate, and it arrived at the figure by considering future demand and the anticipated average price of oil (on which profits will depend), as well as Saudi Aramco's status as a state-run company.

WoodMac doesn't dispute the figure of 261 billion barrels lying under Saudi Arabia and just offshore; that figure has been confirmed by independent sources. Where things get complicated, though, is in the management and taxation of Saudi Aramco, which does not release financial statements."

clueless says: 03/04/2017 at 6:08 pm
Seems right to me. As I posted a short while back, in my opinion, no rational investor, today, would pay anything for production that might occur more than 20 years in the future. Therefore, only about 88 million bbl of reserves is in play. And those produced 20 years out [risked] have neglible net present value.
Survivalist says: 03/04/2017 at 9:32 pm
Does anybody know which independant sources confirmed the 261 billion barrels lying under Saudi Arabia? I was under the impression we were just taking their word for it. Who signed off on confirming it?
Watcher says: 03/04/2017 at 11:02 pm
Bingo. And VERY OMINOUS that a firm like WoodM would fall for the "independent audit" story.

Those auditors did not do core drilling. They did no exploration drilling. They took Aramco data, added it up (accountants add things up) and declared 261 billion barrels of reserves.

This is such silliness.

There is also the issue of who paid for the audit.

Caelan MacIntyre says: 03/05/2017 at 12:12 am

"There is also the issue of who paid for the audit." ~ Watcher

The Man With The Magic Wand?

We are in a model, Watcher.

[Mar 03, 2017] Western Interests Aim To Flummox Russia

Mar 03, 2017 | www.unz.com
An article by Robert Berke in oilprice.com, which describes itself as "The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News," illustrates how interest groups control outcomes by how they shape policy choices.

Berke's article reveals how the US intends to maintain and extend its hegemony by breaking up the alliance between Russia, Iran, and China, and by oil privatizations that result in countries losing control over their sovereignty to private oil companies that work closely with the US government. As Trump has neutered his presidency by gratuitously accepting Gen. Flynn's resignation as National Security Advisor, this scheme is likely to be Trump's approach to "better relations" with Russia.

Berke reports that Henry Kissinger has sold President Trump on a scheme to use the removal of Russian sanctions to pry President Putin away from the Russian alliance with Iran and China. Should Putin fall for such a scheme, it would be a fatal strategic blunder from which Russia could not recover. Yet, Putin will be pressured to make this blunder.

One pressure on Putin comes from the Atlanticist Integrationists who have a material stake in their connections to the West and who want Russia to be integrated into the Western world. Another pressure comes from the affront that sanctions represent to Russians. Removing this insult has become important to Russians even though the sanctions do Russia no material harm.

We agree with President Putin that the sanctions are in fact a benefit to Russia as they have moved Russia in self-sufficient directions and toward developing relationships with China and Asia. Moreover, the West with its hegemonic impulses uses economic relationships for control purposes. Trade with China and Asia does not pose the same threat to Russian independence.

Berke says that part of the deal being offered to Putin is "increased access to the huge European energy market, restored western financial credit, access to Western technology, and a seat at the global decision-making table, all of which Russia badly needs and wants." Sweetening the honey trap is official recognization of "Crimea as part of Russia."

Russia might want all of this, but it is nonsense that Russia needs any of it.

Crimea is part of Russia, as it has been for 300 years, and no one can do anything about it. What would it mean if Mexico did not recognize that Texas and California were part of the US? Nothing.

Europe has scant alternatives to Russian energy.

Russia does not need Western technology. Indeed, its military technology is superior to that in the West.

And Russia most certainly does not need Western loans. Indeed, it would be an act of insanity to accept them.

It is a self-serving Western myth that Russia needs foreign loans. This myth is enshrined in neoliberal economics, which is a device for Western exploitation and control of other countries. Russia's most dangerous threat is the country's neoliberal economists.

The Russian central bank has convinced the Russian government that it would be inflationary to finance Russian development projects with the issuance of central bank credit. Foreign loans are essential, claims the central bank.

Someone needs to teach the Russian central bank basic economics before Russia is turned into another Western vassal. Here is the lesson: When central bank credit is used to finance development projects, the supply of rubles increases but so does output from the projects. Thus, goods and services rise with the supply of rubles. When Russia borrows foreign currencies from abroad, the money supply also increases, but so does the foreign debt. Russia does not spend the foreign currencies on the project but puts them into its foreign exchange reserves. The central bank issues the same amount of rubles to pay the project's bills as it would in the absence of the foreign loan. All the foreign loan does is to present Russia with an interest payment to a foreign creditor.

Foreign capital is not important to countries such as Russia and China. Both countries are perfectly capable of financing their own development. Indeed, China is the world's largest creditor nation. Foreign loans are only important to countries that lack the internal resources for development and have to purchase the business know-how, techlology, and resources abroad with foreign currencies that their exports are insufficient to bring in.

This is not the case with Russia, which has large endowments of resources and a trade surplus. China's development was given a boost by US corporations that moved their production for the US market offshore in order to pocket the difference in labor and regulatory costs.

Neoliberals argue that Russia needs privatization in order to cover its budget deficit. Russia's government debt is only 17 percent of Russian GDP. According to official measures, US federal debt is 104 percent of GDP, 6.1 times higher than in Russia. If US federal debt is measured in real corrected terms, US federal debt is 185 percent of US GDP. http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/07/08/deteriorating-economic-outlook/

Clearly, if the massive debt of the US government is not a problem, the tiny debt of Russia is not a problem.

Berke's article is part of the effort to scam Russia by convincing the Russian government that its prosperity depends on unfavorable deals with the West. As Russia's neoliberal economists believe this, the scam has a chance of success.

Another delusion affecting the Russian government is the belief that privatization brings in capital. This delusion caused the Russian government to turn over 20 percent of its oil company to foreign ownership. The only thing Russia achieved by this strategic blunder was to deliver 20 percent of its oil profits into foreign hands. For a one-time payment, Russia gave away 20 percent of its oil profits in perpetuity.

To repeat outselves, the greatest threat that Russia faces is not sanctions but the incompetence of its neoliberal economists who have been throughly brainwashed to serve US interests.

Mao Cheng Ji , February 14, 2017 at 6:55 pm GMT \n

100 Words

When Russia borrows foreign currencies from abroad, the money supply also increases, but so does the foreign debt. Russia does not spend the foreign currencies on the project but puts them into its foreign exchange reserves. The central bank issues the same amount of rubles to pay the project's bills as it would in the absence of the foreign loan. All the foreign loan does is to present Russia with an interest payment to a foreign creditor.

Yes, correct. But this is an IMF rule, and Russia is an IMF member. To control its monetary policy it would have to get out.

Lyttenburgh , February 14, 2017 at 6:57 pm GMT \n
200 Words

Another pressure comes from the affront that sanctions represent to Russians. Removing this insult has become important to Russians even though the sanctions do Russia no material harm.

Oh dear, neolibs at their "finest"!

This "theory" is simply not true. If anything, Russians don't want the sanctions to be lifted, because this will also force us to scrap our counter-sanctions against the EU. The agro-business in Russia had been expanding by leaps and bounds for the last two years. This persistent myth that "the Russians" (who exactly, I wonder – 2-3% of the pro-Western urbanites in Moscow and St. Pete?) are desperate to have the sanctons lifted is a self-deception of the West, who IS desparate of the fact that the sanctions didn't work.

Russia's most dangerous threat is the country's neoliberal economists.

Yes! Ulyukayev is, probably, feeling lonely in his prison. I say – why not send Chubais, Siluanov and Nabiulina to cheer him up?

WorkingClass , February 14, 2017 at 7:59 pm GMT \n

Berke reports that Henry Kissinger has sold President Trump on a scheme to use the removal of Russian sanctions to pry President Putin away from the Russian alliance with Iran and China.

Kissinger, like Dick Cheney or George Soros, will probably never be completely dead.

SmoothieX12 , Website February 14, 2017 at 8:56 pm GMT \n
@WorkingClass

Berke reports that Henry Kissinger has sold President Trump on a scheme to use the removal of Russian sanctions to pry President Putin away from the Russian alliance with Iran and China.
Kissinger, like Dick Cheney or George Soros, will probably never be completely dead.

LOL! True. You forgot McCain, though.

SmoothieX12 , Website February 14, 2017 at 9:04 pm GMT \n
100 Words @Lyttenburgh

Another pressure comes from the affront that sanctions represent to Russians. Removing this insult has become important to Russians even though the sanctions do Russia no material harm.
Oh dear, neolibs at their "finest"!

This "theory" is simply not true. If anything, Russians don't want the sanctions to be lifted, because this will also force us to scrap our counter-sanctions against the EU. The agro-business in Russia had been expanding by leaps and bounds for the last two years. This persistent myth that "the Russians" (who exactly, I wonder - 2-3% of the pro-Western urbanites in Moscow and St. Pete?) are desperate to have the sanctons lifted is a self-deception of the West, who IS desparate of the fact that the sanctions didn't work.


Russia's most dangerous threat is the country's neoliberal economists.
Yes! Ulyukayev is, probably, feeling lonely in his prison. I say - why not send Chubais, Siluanov and Nabiulina to cheer him up? ;)

I say – why not send Chubais, Siluanov and Nabiulina to cheer him up?

Most of Russia's economic block has to be literally purged from their sinecures, some, indeed, have to be "re-educated" near Magadan or Tyumen, or Saransk. Too bad, two of these places are actually not too bad. Others deserved to be executed. Too bad this jackass Gaidar (actually no blood relation to Arkady whatsoever) died before he could be tried for crimes against humanity and genocide. Albeit, some say he died because of his consciousness couldn't take the burden. Looking at his swine face I, somehow, doubt it.

Priss Factor , February 14, 2017 at 10:38 pm GMT \n
100 Words

A silver-lining to this.

If the US continues to antagonize Russia, Russia will have to grow even more independent, nationalist, and sovereign.

At any rate, this issue cannot be addressed until we face that the fact that globalism is essentially Jewish Supremacism that fears gentile nationalism as a barrier to its penetration and domination.

This is not a US vs Russia issue. The real conflict is Jewish Globalism vs Russian nationalism and American nationalism. But since Jews control the media, they've spread the impression that it's about US vs Russia.

Same thing with this crap about 'white privilege'. It is a misleading concept to fool Americans into thinking that the main conflict is between 'privileged whites' and 'people of color'. It is really to hide the fact that Jewish power and privilege really rules the US. It is a means to hoodwink people from noticing that the real divide is between Jews and Gentiles, not between 'privileged whites' and 'non-white victims'. After all, too many whites lack privilege, and too many non-whites do very well in America.

Seamus Padraig , February 14, 2017 at 11:29 pm GMT \n
100 Words @SmoothieX12

I say – why not send Chubais, Siluanov and Nabiulina to cheer him up?
Most of Russia's economic block has to be literally purged from their sinecures, some, indeed, have to be "re-educated" near Magadan or Tyumen, or Saransk. Too bad, two of these places are actually not too bad. Others deserved to be executed. Too bad this jackass Gaidar (actually no blood relation to Arkady whatsoever) died before he could be tried for crimes against humanity and genocide. Albeit, some say he died because of his consciousness couldn't take the burden. Looking at his swine face I, somehow, doubt it.

I'm generally a big fan and admirer of Putin, but this is definitely one criticism of him that I have a lot of sympathy for. It is long past time for Putin to purge the neoliberals from the Kremlin and nationalize the Russian Central Bank. I cannot fathom why he hasn't done this already.

Seamus Padraig , February 14, 2017 at 11:34 pm GMT \n

Does PCR really think that Putin is stupid enough to fall for Kissinger's hair-brained scheme? I mean, give Putin a little bit of credit. He has so far completely outmaneuvered Washington on virtually ever subject. I'm sure he's clever enough to see through such a crude divide-and-rule strategy.

anonymous , February 15, 2017 at 4:17 am GMT \n
100 Words

The Russians can't be flummoxed, they aren't children. Russia and China border each other so they have a natural mutual interest in having their east-west areas be stable and safe, particularly when the US threatens both of them. This geography isn't going to change. Abandoning clients such as Syria and Iran would irreversibly damage the Russian brand as being unreliable therefore they'd find it impossible to attract any others in the future. They know this so it's unlikely they would be so rash as to snap at any bait dangled in front of them. And, as pointed out, the bait really isn't all that irresistible. It's always best to negotiate from a position of strength and they realize that. American policy deep thinkers are often fantasists who bank upon their chess opponents making hoped-for predictable moves. That doesn't happen in real life.

SmoothieX12 , Website February 15, 2017 at 2:29 pm GMT \n
400 Words @Seamus Padraig I'm generally a big fan and admirer of Putin, but this is definitely one criticism of him that I have a lot of sympathy for. It is long past time for Putin to purge the neoliberals from the Kremlin and nationalize the Russian Central Bank. I cannot fathom why he hasn't done this already.

I cannot fathom why he hasn't done this already.

Partially, because Putin himself is an economic liberal and, to a degree, monetarist, albeit less rigid than his economic block. The good choices he made often were opposite to his views. As he himself admitted that Russia's geopolitical vector changed with NATO's aggression against Yugoslavia–a strengthening of Russia has become an imperative. This comeback was impossible within the largely "Western" monetarist economic model. Russia's comeback happened not thanks but despite Putin's economic views, Putin adjusted his views in the process, his economic block didn't. But many of them still remain his friends, despite the fact that many of them are de facto fifth column and work against Russia, intentionally and other wise. Eventually Putin will be forced to get down from his fence and take the position of industrialists and siloviki. Putin's present for Medvedev's birthday was a good hint on where he is standing economically today and I am beginning to like that but still–I personally am not convinced yet. We'll see. In many respects Putin was lucky and specifically because of the namely Soviet military and industry captains still being around–people who, unlike Putin, knew exactly what constituted Russia's strength. Enough to mention late Evgeny Primakov. Let's not forget that despite Putin's meteoric rise through the top levels of Russia's state bureaucracy, including his tenure as a Director of FSB, Putin's background is not really military-industrial. He is a lawyer, even if uniformed (KGB) part of his career. I know for a fact that initially (early 2000s) he was overwhelmed with the complexity of Russia's military and industry. Enough to mention his creature Serdyukov who almost destroyed Command and Control structure of Russia's Armed Forces and main ideologue behind Russia's military "reform", late Vitaly Shlykov who might have been a great GRU spy (and economist by trade) but who never served a day in combat units. Thankfully, the "reforms" have been stopped and Russian Armed Forces are still dealing with the consequences. This whole clusterfvck was of Putin's own creation–hardly a good record on his resume. Hopefully, he learned.

Vlad , February 17, 2017 at 8:44 am GMT \n
100 Words @Seamus Padraig I'm generally a big fan and admirer of Putin, but this is definitely one criticism of him that I have a lot of sympathy for. It is long past time for Putin to purge the neoliberals from the Kremlin and nationalize the Russian Central Bank. I cannot fathom why he hasn't done this already.

He has not done it already because he just cannot let go of his dream to have it as he did in 2003, when Russia Germany and France together blocked legality of US war in Iraq. Putin still hopes for a good working relationship with major West European powers. Italy France and even Germany. He still hopes to draw them away from the US. However the obvious gains from Import substitution campaign make it apparent that Russia does benefit from sanctions, that Russia can get anything it wants in technology from the East rather than the West. So the break with Western orientation is in the making. Hopefully.

annamaria , February 17, 2017 at 3:50 pm GMT \n
100 Words

You forgot to mention the "moderate" jihadis, including the operatives from NATO, Israel, and US. (It seems that the Ukrainian "patriots" that have been bombing the civilians in East Ukraine, also include special "patriots" from the same unholy trinity: https://www.roguemoney.net/stories/2016/12/6/there-are-troops-jack-us-army-donbass ). There has been also a certain asymmetry in means: look at the map for the number and location of the US/NATO military bases. At least we can see that RF has been trying to avoid the hot phase of WWIII. http://russia-insider.com/sites/insider/files/NATO-vs-Russia640.jpg

annamaria , February 17, 2017 at 4:11 pm GMT \n
200 Words @Priss Factor A silver-lining to this.

If the US continues to antagonize Russia, Russia will have to grow even more independent, nationalist, and sovereign.

At any rate, this issue cannot be addressed until we face that the fact that globalism is essentially Jewish Supremacism that fears gentile nationalism as a barrier to its penetration and domination.

This is not a US vs Russia issue. The real conflict is Jewish Globalism vs Russian nationalism and American nationalism. But since Jews control the media, they've spread the impression that it's about US vs Russia.

Same thing with this crap about 'white privilege'. It is a misleading concept to fool Americans into thinking that the main conflict is between 'privileged whites' and 'people of color'. It is really to hide the fact that Jewish power and privilege really rules the US. It is a means to hoodwink people from noticing that the real divide is between Jews and Gentiles, not between 'privileged whites' and 'non-white victims'. After all, too many whites lack privilege, and too many non-whites do very well in America.

On the power and privilege that really rule the US:
"Sanctions – economic sanctions, as most of them are, can only stand and 'succeed', as long as countries, who oppose Washington's dictate remain bound into the western, dollar-based, fraudulent monetary scheme. The system is entirely privatized by a small Zionist-led elite. FED, Wall Street, Bank for International Settlement (BIS), are all private institutions, largely controlled by the Rothschild, Rockefeller, Morgan et al clans. They are also supported by the Breton Woods Organizations, IMF and World Bank, conveniently created under the Charter of the UN.
Few progressive economists understand how this debt-based pyramid scam is manipulating the entire western economic system. When in a just world, it should be just the contrary, the economy that shapes, designs and decides the functioning of the monetary system and policy.
Even Russia, with Atlantists still largely commanding the central bank and much of the financial system, isn't fully detached from the dollar dominion – yet."

http://thesaker.is/venezuela-washingtons-latest-defamation-to-bring-nato-to-south-america/

Anon , February 17, 2017 at 4:55 pm GMT \n
100 Words

"I cannot fathom why he hasn't done this (nationalize the "central bank) already".

I read about a rumor a few years ago that Putin has been warned that nationalizing the now private Russian central bank will bring absolutely dire consequences to both him and Russia. It is simply a step he cannot take.

How dire are the potential consequences? Consider that the refusal of the American government to reauthorize the private central bank in the US brought about the War of 1812. The Americans learned their lesson and quickly reauthorized the private bank after the war had ended.

Numerous attempts were made to assassinate President Andrew Jacksons specifically because of his refusal to reauthorize the private central bank.

JFK anyone?

Agent76 , February 17, 2017 at 6:07 pm GMT \n
100 Words

Here it is in audio form so you can just relax and just listen at your leisure.

*ALL WARS ARE BANKERS' WARS* By Michael Rivero https://youtu.be/WN0Y3HRiuxo

I know many people have a great deal of difficulty comprehending just how many wars are started for no other purpose than to force private central banks onto nations, so let me share a few examples, so that you understand why the US Government is mired in so many wars against so many foreign nations. There is ample precedent for this.

Priss Factor , February 17, 2017 at 7:31 pm GMT \n
1,000 Words

Here is proof that there is no real Leftist power anymore.

Voltaire once said, "To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize."

If the Left really rules America, how come it is fair game to criticize, condemn, mock, and vilify Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Bakunin, Emma Goldman & anarchists, Castro, Che(even though he is revered by many, one's career isn't damaged by attacking him), Tito, Ceucescu, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Gramsci, Eurgene Debs, Pete Seeger, Abbie Hoffman, Bill Ayers, and etc.

You can say whatever you want about such people. Some will agree, some will disagree, but you will not be fired, blacklisted, or destroyed.

If the Left really rules, why would this be?

Now, what would happen if you name the Jewish Capitalists as the real holders of power?
What would happen if you name the Jewish oligarchic corporatists who control most of media?
What would happen if you said Jews are prominent in the vice industry of gambling?
What would happen if you named the Jewish capitalists in music industry that made so much money by spreading garbage?
What would happen if you said Jewish warhawks were largely responsible for the disasters in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine?
And what would happen if you were question the MLK mythology and cult?
What would happen if you were to make fun of homos and trannies?
Now, keep in mind that blacks and homos are favored by Jews as their main allies.
(Some say the US is not a pro-minority nation, but it's still permissible to criticize, impugn, and vilify Chinese, Iranians, Muslims, Mexicans, Hindus, and etc. Trump was hard on China, Iran, Muslims, and Mexicans, and he got some flak over it but not enough to destroy him. Now, imagine what would have happened if he'd said such things about blacks, Africa, homos, Jews, and Israel? American politics isn't necessarily pro-minority. If it is, it should favor Palestinian-Americans just as much as Jewish-Americans. Actually, since there are fewer Palestinian-Americans than Jewish-Americans, the US, being pro-minority, should favor Palestinians over Jews in America. In reality, it is AIPAC that draws all the politicians. America is about Pro-Power, and since Jews have the Power and since Jews are a minority, it creates the false impression that the US is a minority-supremacist nation. But WHICH minority? Jews would like for us think that all minorities are represented equally in the US, but do Eskimos, Hawaiians, Guatemalans, Vietnamese, and etc. have the kind of power & protection that the Jewish minority has? Do we see politicians and powerbrokers flock to such minorities for funds and favors?)

So, what does it about the real power in America? So many 'conservatives' say the Left controls America. But in fact, an American can badmouth all true bonafide leftist leaders and thinkers(everyone from Lenin to Sartre). However, if an American were to badmouth Sheldon Adelson as a sick demented Zionist capitalist oligarch who wants to nuke Iran, he would be blacklisted by the most of the media. (If one must criticize Adelson, it has to be in generic terms of him a top donor to the likes of Romney. One mustn't discuss his zealous and maniacal views rooted in Zionist-supremacism. You can criticize his money but not the mentality that determines the use of that money.) Isn't it rather amusing how the so-called Liberals denounce the GOP for being 'extreme' but overlook the main reason for such extremism? It's because the GOP relies on Zionist lunatics like Adelson who thinks Iran should be nuked to be taught a lesson. Even Liberal Media overlook this fact. Also, it's interesting that the Liberal Media are more outraged by Trump's peace offer to Russia than Trump's hawkish rhetoric toward Iran. I thought Liberals were the Doves.

We know why politics and media work like this. It's not about 'left' vs 'right' or 'liberal' vs 'conservative'. It is really about Jewish Globalist Dominance. Jews, neocon 'right' or globo-'left', hate Russia because its brand of white gentile nationalism is an obstacle to Jewish supremacist domination. Now, Current Russia is nice to Jews, and Jews can make all the money they want. But that isn't enough for Jews. Jews want total control of media, government, narrative, everything. If Jews say Russia must have homo parades and 'gay marriage', Russia better bend over because its saying NO means that it is defiant to the Jewish supremacist agenda of using homomania as proxy to undermine and destroy all gentile nationalism rooted in identity and moral righteousness.
Russia doesn't allow that, and that is what pisses off Jews. For Jews, the New Antisemitism is defined as denying them the supremacist 'right' to control other nations. Classic antisemitism used to mean denying Jews equal rights under the law. The New Antisemitism means Jews are denied the right to gain dominance over others and dictate terms.
So, that is why Jews hate any idea of good relations with Russia. But Jews don't mind Trump's irresponsible anti-Iran rhetoric since it serves Zionist interest. So, if Trump were to say, "We shouldn't go to war with Russia; we should be friends" and "We should get ready to bomb, destroy, and even nuke Iran", the 'liberal' media would be more alarmed by the Peace-with-Russia statement. Which groups controls the media? 'Liberals', really? Do Muslim 'liberals' agree with Jewish 'liberals'?

Anyway, we need to do away with the fiction that Left rules anything. They don't. We have Jewish Supremacist rule hiding behind the label of the 'Left'. But the US is a nation where it's totally permissible to attack real leftist ideas and leaders but suicidal if anyone dares to discuss the power of super-capitalist Jewish oligarchs. Some 'leftism'!

We need to discuss the power of the Glob.

annamaria , February 17, 2017 at 9:42 pm GMT \n
300 Words @Quartermaster Trump has not been neutered. Buchanan has the right on this and Flynn's actions.

Sorry, but Crimea is Ukraine. Russia is in serious economic decline and is rapidly burning through its reserves. Putin is almost down to the welfare fund from which pensions are paid, and only about a third of pensions are being paid now.

If Sanctions are of benefit to Russia, then the sanctions against Imperial Japan were just ducky and no war was fought.

Roberts is the next best thing to insane.

This is rich from a Ukrainian nationalist ruled by Groysman/Kagans.
First, figure out who is your saint, a collaborationist Bandera (Babiy Yar and such) or a triple-sitizenship Kolomojski (auto-da-fe of civilians in Odessa). If you still want to bring Holodomor to a discussion, then you need to be reminded that 80% of Ukrainian Cheka at that time were Jewish. If you still think that Russians are the root of all evil, then try to ask the US for more money for pensions, education, and healthcare – instead of weaponry. Here are the glorious results of the US-approved governance from Kiev: http://gnnliberia.com/2017/02/17/liberia-ahead-ukraine-index-economic-freedom-2017/ "Liberia, Chad, Afghanistan, Sudan and Angola are ahead of Ukraine. All these countries are in the group of repressed economies (49.9-40 scores). Ukraine's economy has contracted deeply and remains very fragile."

Here are your relationships with your neighbors on the other side – Poland and Romania:
"The right-winged conservative orientation of Warsaw makes it remember old Polish-Ukrainian arguments and scores, and claim its rights on the historically Polish lands of Western Ukraine" http://www.veteranstoday.com/2016/01/17/poland-will-begin-dividing-ukraine/
" the "Assembly of Bukovina Romanians" has recently applied to Petro Poroshenko demanding a territorial autonomy to the Chernivtsi region densely populated by Romanians. The "Assembly" motivated its demand with the Ukrainian president's abovementioned statement urging territorial autonomy for the Crimean Tatars." https://eadaily.com/en/news/2016/06/30/what-is-behind-romanias-activity-in-ukraine
And please read some history books about Crimea. Or at least Wikipedia:
"In 1783, Crimea was annexed by the Russian Empire. In 1954, the Crimean Oblast was transferred to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic by Nikita Khrushchev (a Soviet dictator). In 2014, a 96.77 percent of Crimeans voted for integration of the region into the Russian Federation with an 83.1 percent voter turnout." You see, the Crimeans do not like Nuland-Kagan and Pravyj Sector. Do you know why?

Astuteobservor II , February 17, 2017 at 9:56 pm GMT \n
100 Words @Seamus Padraig Does PCR really think that Putin is stupid enough to fall for Kissinger's hair-brained scheme? I mean, give Putin a little bit of credit. He has so far completely outmaneuvered Washington on virtually ever subject. I'm sure he's clever enough to see through such a crude divide-and-rule strategy.

well it depends. if putin is just out for himself, I can see him getting in bed with kissinger and co. if he is about russia, he would not. that is how I see it. it isn't about if putin is smart or stupid. just a choice and where his royalty lies.

Lyttenburgh , February 17, 2017 at 9:58 pm GMT \n
100 Words @Quartermaster Trump has not been neutered. Buchanan has the right on this and Flynn's actions.

Sorry, but Crimea is Ukraine. Russia is in serious economic decline and is rapidly burning through its reserves. Putin is almost down to the welfare fund from which pensions are paid, and only about a third of pensions are being paid now.

If Sanctions are of benefit to Russia, then the sanctions against Imperial Japan were just ducky and no war was fought.

Roberts is the next best thing to insane.

Sorry, but Crimea is Ukraine.

How so? #Krymnash

Russia is in serious economic decline and is rapidly burning through its reserves.

If by "decline" you mean "expects this year a modest growth as opposed to previous years" then you might be right.

I've been reading about Russia's imminent collapse and the annihilation of the economy since forever. Some no-names like you (or some Big Names with agenda) had been predicting it every year. Still didn't happen.

Putin is almost down to the welfare fund from which pensions are paid, and only about a third of pensions are being paid now.

Can I see a source for that?

If Sanctions are of benefit to Russia, then the sanctions against Imperial Japan were just ducky and no war was fought.

False equivalence.

P.S. Hey, Quart – how is Bezviz? Also – are you not cold here? Or are you one of the most racally pure Ukrs, currently residing in Ontario province (Canada), from whence you teach your less lucky raguls in Nizalezhnaya how to be more racially pure? Well, SUGS to be you!

bluedog , February 17, 2017 at 10:03 pm GMT \n
@Quartermaster Trump has not been neutered. Buchanan has the right on this and Flynn's actions.

Sorry, but Crimea is Ukraine. Russia is in serious economic decline and is rapidly burning through its reserves. Putin is almost down to the welfare fund from which pensions are paid, and only about a third of pensions are being paid now.

If Sanctions are of benefit to Russia, then the sanctions against Imperial Japan were just ducky and no war was fought.

Roberts is the next best thing to insane.

Do you have any links to verify this that Russia is down to bedrock,from everything I read and have read Russia's do pretty damn good, or is this just some more of your endless antiRussian propaganda,,

Philip Owen , February 17, 2017 at 10:54 pm GMT \n

The US needed huge amounts of British and French capital to develop. Russia has the same requirement otherwise it will be another Argentina.

annamaria , February 17, 2017 at 11:00 pm GMT \n
500 Words

A scandal of a EU member Poland: http://thesaker.is/zmiana-piskorski-and-the-case-for-polish-liberation/
Two days after he [Piskorski] publicly warned that US-NATO troops now have a mandate to suppress Polish dissent on the grounds of combatting "Russian hybrid war," he was snatched up by armed agents of Poland's Internal Security Agency while taking his children to school on May 18th, 2016. He was promptly imprisoned in Warsaw, where he remains with no formal charges to this day."

With the Poland's entry into EU, "Poland did not "regain" sovereignty, much less justice, but forfeited such to the Atlanticist project Poland has been de-industrialized, and thus deprived of the capacity to pursue independent and effective social and economic policies Now, with the deployment of thousands of US-NATO troops, tanks, and missile systems on its soil and the Polish government's relinquishment of jurisdiction over foreign armed forces on its territory, Poland is de facto under occupation. This occupation is not a mere taxation on Poland's national budget – it is an undeniable liquidation of sovereignty and inevitably turns the country into a direct target and battlefield in the US' provocative war on Russia."

" it's not the Russians who are going to occupy us now – they left here voluntarily 24 years ago. It's not the Russians that have ravaged Polish industry since 1989. It's not the Russians that have stifled Poles with usurious debt. Finally, it's not the Russians that are responsible for the fact that we have become the easternmost aircraft carrier of the United States anchored in Europe. We ourselves, who failed by allowing such traitors into power, are to blame for this."

More from a comment section: "Donald Tusk, who is now President of the European Council, whose grandfather, Josef Tusk, served in Hitler's Wehrmacht, has consistently demanded that the Kiev regime imposed by the US and EU deal with the Donbass people brutally, "as with terrorists". While the Polish special services were training the future participants of the Maidan operations and the ethnic cleansing of the Donbass, the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs made this official statement (02-02-2014): "We support the hard line taken by the Right Sector The radical actions of the Right Sector and other militant groups of demonstrators and the use of force by protesters are justified The Right Sector has taken full responsibility for all the acts of violence during the recent protests. This is an honest position, and we respect it. The politicians have failed at their peacekeeping function. This means that the only acceptable option is the radical actions of the Right Sector. There is no other alternative".

In short, the US has been the most active enabler of the neo-Nazi movement in Europe. Mrs. Clinton seemingly did not get a memo about who is "new Hitler."

Chuck Orloski , February 17, 2017 at 11:17 pm GMT \n
100 Words

Scranton calling Mssrs. Roberts and Hudson:

Do you happen to know anything about western financial giants' influence upon Russia's "Atlanticist Integrationists"?

It's low hanging fruit for me to take a pick, but I am thinking The Goldman Sachs Group is well ensconced among Russian "Atlanticist Integrationists."

You guys are top seeded pros at uncovering Deep State-banker secrets. In contrast, I drive school bus and I struggle to even balance the family Wells Fargo debit card!

However, since our US Congress has anointed a seasoned G.S.G. veteran, Steve Mnuchin, as the administration's Treasury Secretary, he has become my favorite "Person of Interest" who I suspect spouts a Ural Mountain-level say as to how "Atlanticist Integrationists" operate.

Speaking very respectfully, I hope my question does not get "flummoxed" into resource rich Siberia.

Thank you very much!

Bobzilla , February 17, 2017 at 11:46 pm GMT \n
@WorkingClass

Berke reports that Henry Kissinger has sold President Trump on a scheme to use the removal of Russian sanctions to pry President Putin away from the Russian alliance with Iran and China.
Kissinger, like Dick Cheney or George Soros, will probably never be completely dead.

Kissinger, like Dick Cheney or George Soros, will probably never be completely dead

.

Most likely the Spirit of Anti-Christ keeping them alive to do his bidding.

Bill Jones , February 18, 2017 at 12:39 am GMT \n
@Priss Factor Here is proof that there is no real Leftist power anymore.

Voltaire once said, "To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize."

If the Left really rules America, how come it is fair game to criticize, condemn, mock, and vilify Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Bakunin, Emma Goldman & anarchists, Castro, Che(even though he is revered by many, one's career isn't damaged by attacking him), Tito, Ceucescu, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Gramsci, Eurgene Debs, Pete Seeger, Abbie Hoffman, Bill Ayers, and etc.

You can say whatever you want about such people. Some will agree, some will disagree, but you will not be fired, blacklisted, or destroyed.

If the Left really rules, why would this be?

Now, what would happen if you name the Jewish Capitalists as the real holders of power?
What would happen if you name the Jewish oligarchic corporatists who control most of media?
What would happen if you said Jews are prominent in the vice industry of gambling?
What would happen if you named the Jewish capitalists in music industry that made so much money by spreading garbage?
What would happen if you said Jewish warhawks were largely responsible for the disasters in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine?
And what would happen if you were question the MLK mythology and cult?
What would happen if you were to make fun of homos and trannies?
Now, keep in mind that blacks and homos are favored by Jews as their main allies.
(Some say the US is not a pro-minority nation, but it's still permissible to criticize, impugn, and vilify Chinese, Iranians, Muslims, Mexicans, Hindus, and etc. Trump was hard on China, Iran, Muslims, and Mexicans, and he got some flak over it but not enough to destroy him. Now, imagine what would have happened if he'd said such things about blacks, Africa, homos, Jews, and Israel? American politics isn't necessarily pro-minority. If it is, it should favor Palestinian-Americans just as much as Jewish-Americans. Actually, since there are fewer Palestinian-Americans than Jewish-Americans, the US, being pro-minority, should favor Palestinians over Jews in America. In reality, it is AIPAC that draws all the politicians. America is about Pro-Power, and since Jews have the Power and since Jews are a minority, it creates the false impression that the US is a minority-supremacist nation. But WHICH minority? Jews would like for us think that all minorities are represented equally in the US, but do Eskimos, Hawaiians, Guatemalans, Vietnamese, and etc. have the kind of power & protection that the Jewish minority has? Do we see politicians and powerbrokers flock to such minorities for funds and favors?)

So, what does it about the real power in America? So many 'conservatives' say the Left controls America. But in fact, an American can badmouth all true bonafide leftist leaders and thinkers(everyone from Lenin to Sartre). However, if an American were to badmouth Sheldon Adelson as a sick demented Zionist capitalist oligarch who wants to nuke Iran, he would be blacklisted by the most of the media. (If one must criticize Adelson, it has to be in generic terms of him a top donor to the likes of Romney. One mustn't discuss his zealous and maniacal views rooted in Zionist-supremacism. You can criticize his money but not the mentality that determines the use of that money.) Isn't it rather amusing how the so-called Liberals denounce the GOP for being 'extreme' but overlook the main reason for such extremism? It's because the GOP relies on Zionist lunatics like Adelson who thinks Iran should be nuked to be taught a lesson. Even Liberal Media overlook this fact. Also, it's interesting that the Liberal Media are more outraged by Trump's peace offer to Russia than Trump's hawkish rhetoric toward Iran. I thought Liberals were the Doves.

We know why politics and media work like this. It's not about 'left' vs 'right' or 'liberal' vs 'conservative'. It is really about Jewish Globalist Dominance. Jews, neocon 'right' or globo-'left', hate Russia because its brand of white gentile nationalism is an obstacle to Jewish supremacist domination. Now, Current Russia is nice to Jews, and Jews can make all the money they want. But that isn't enough for Jews. Jews want total control of media, government, narrative, everything. If Jews say Russia must have homo parades and 'gay marriage', Russia better bend over because its saying NO means that it is defiant to the Jewish supremacist agenda of using homomania as proxy to undermine and destroy all gentile nationalism rooted in identity and moral righteousness.
Russia doesn't allow that, and that is what pisses off Jews. For Jews, the New Antisemitism is defined as denying them the supremacist 'right' to control other nations. Classic antisemitism used to mean denying Jews equal rights under the law. The New Antisemitism means Jews are denied the right to gain dominance over others and dictate terms.
So, that is why Jews hate any idea of good relations with Russia. But Jews don't mind Trump's irresponsible anti-Iran rhetoric since it serves Zionist interest. So, if Trump were to say, "We shouldn't go to war with Russia; we should be friends" and "We should get ready to bomb, destroy, and even nuke Iran", the 'liberal' media would be more alarmed by the Peace-with-Russia statement. Which groups controls the media? 'Liberals', really? Do Muslim 'liberals' agree with Jewish 'liberals'?

Anyway, we need to do away with the fiction that Left rules anything. They don't. We have Jewish Supremacist rule hiding behind the label of the 'Left'. But the US is a nation where it's totally permissible to attack real leftist ideas and leaders but suicidal if anyone dares to discuss the power of super-capitalist Jewish oligarchs. Some 'leftism'!

We need to discuss the power of the Glob.

Thanks for the digest of hasbarist crap.

Useful to have it all in one place..

annamaria , February 18, 2017 at 1:03 am GMT \n
100 Words

War profiteers (both of a dishonest character) have found each other: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-17/mccain-tells-europe-trump-administration-disarray http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-17/germany-issues-stark-warning-trump-stop-threatening-eu-favoring-russia
" Trump's administration was in "disarray," McCain told the Munich Security Conference, where earlier in the day Germany defense minister Ursula von der Leyen warned Trump to stop threatening the EU, abandoning Western values and seeking close ties with Russia, that the resignation of the new president's security adviser Michael Flynn over his contacts with Russia reflected deep problems in Washington."

What an amazing whoring performance for the war-manufacturers! And here is an interesting morsel of information about the belligerent Frau der Leyen: http://www.dw.com/en/stanford-accuses-von-der-leyen-of-misrepresentation/a-18775432
"Stanford university has said Ursula von der Leyen is misrepresenting her affiliation with the school. The German defense minister's academic career is already under scrutiny after accusations of plagiarism." No kidding. Some "Ursula von der Leyen' values" indeed.

Anonymous IX , February 18, 2017 at 2:42 am GMT \n
200 Words

I doubt we'll see little change from the Trump administration toward Russia.

From SOTT:

Predictable news coming out of Yemen: Saudi-backed "Southern Resistance" forces and Hadi loyalists, alongside al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), launched a new offensive against the Houthis in western Yemen on Wednesday.

This is not the first time Saudi-backed (and by extension, Washington-backed) forces have teamed up with al-Qaeda in Yemen .

Yemen is quickly becoming the "spark that lights the powder keg". The conflict has already killed, maimed and displaced countless thousands (thanks to the stellar lack of reporting from trustworthy western news sources, we can only estimate the scale of Saudi/U.S. crimes in Yemen), but now it seems that elements of the Trump administration are keen on escalation, likely in hopes of giving Washington an excuse to carpet bomb Tehran.

Apparently, we feel satisfied fighting with our old allies, al-Qaeda and Saudis.

I had hoped for much better from Trump.

Kiza , February 18, 2017 at 4:23 am GMT \n
200 Words

I think that the authors may be underestimating Putin in his determination to keep Russia and the Russian economy independent. For example, I find this rumoured offer of "increased access to the huge European energy market" very funny, for at least two reasons:
1) US wants to sell hydrocarbons (LPG) to the European market at significantly higher prices than the Russian prices, and
2) the current dependence of EU countries on the Russian energy would have never happened if there were better alternatives.

In other words, any detente offer that the West would make to Russia would last, as usual, not even until the signature ink dries on the new cooperation agreements. Putin does not look to me like someone who suffers much from wishful thinking.

The Russian relationship with China is not a bed of roses, but it is not China which is increasing military activity all around Russia, it is the West. Also, so far China has shown no interest in regime-changing Russia and dividing it into pieces. Would you rather believe in the reform capability of an addict in violence or someone who does not need to reform? Would the West self-reform and sincerely renounce violence just by signing a new agreement with Russia?

The new faux detente will never happen, as long as Putin is alive.

Max Havelaar , February 18, 2017 at 8:22 pm GMT \n
200 Words

Trump is an ultra-zionist for Sheldon Adelson and prolongs & creates wars for the Goldman banking crimesyndicat.

The only one stopping Trump is Putin or Russia's missile defenses.

Indeed, Putin's main inside ennemy is Russia's central bank, or the Jewish oligarchs in Russia (Atlanticists). Also Russia needs to foster and encourage small&medium enterprises, that need cheap credit, to create competitive markets, where no prices are fixed and market shares change. These are most efficient resource users.

In the US, Wallstreet controlls government = fascism = the IG Farben- Auschwitz concentration camps to maximize profits. This is the direction for the US economy.

Meanwhile in the EU, the former Auschwitz owners IG Farben (Bayer(Monsanto), Hoechst, BASF) the EU chemical giants, who have patented all natures molecules, are in controll again over EU. Deutsche bank et allies is eating Greece, Italy, Spain's working classes, using AUSTERITY as their creed.

So what is new? Nothing, the supercorporate-fascist elites are the same families, who 's morality is unchanged in a 100 years.

Max Havelaar , February 18, 2017 at 8:38 pm GMT \n
@Quartermaster Trump has not been neutered. Buchanan has the right on this and Flynn's actions.

Sorry, but Crimea is Ukraine. Russia is in serious economic decline and is rapidly burning through its reserves. Putin is almost down to the welfare fund from which pensions are paid, and only about a third of pensions are being paid now.

If Sanctions are of benefit to Russia, then the sanctions against Imperial Japan were just ducky and no war was fought.

Roberts is the next best thing to insane.

Do you have any economic degree or are you a shouter?

Anon , February 20, 2017 at 4:28 am GMT \n
100 Words @Priss Factor Here is proof that there is no real Leftist power anymore.

Voltaire once said, "To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize."

If the Left really rules America, how come it is fair game to criticize, condemn, mock, and vilify Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Bakunin, Emma Goldman & anarchists, Castro, Che(even though he is revered by many, one's career isn't damaged by attacking him), Tito, Ceucescu, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Gramsci, Eurgene Debs, Pete Seeger, Abbie Hoffman, Bill Ayers, and etc.

You can say whatever you want about such people. Some will agree, some will disagree, but you will not be fired, blacklisted, or destroyed.

If the Left really rules, why would this be?

Now, what would happen if you name the Jewish Capitalists as the real holders of power?
What would happen if you name the Jewish oligarchic corporatists who control most of media?
What would happen if you said Jews are prominent in the vice industry of gambling?
What would happen if you named the Jewish capitalists in music industry that made so much money by spreading garbage?
What would happen if you said Jewish warhawks were largely responsible for the disasters in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine?
And what would happen if you were question the MLK mythology and cult?
What would happen if you were to make fun of homos and trannies?
Now, keep in mind that blacks and homos are favored by Jews as their main allies.
(Some say the US is not a pro-minority nation, but it's still permissible to criticize, impugn, and vilify Chinese, Iranians, Muslims, Mexicans, Hindus, and etc. Trump was hard on China, Iran, Muslims, and Mexicans, and he got some flak over it but not enough to destroy him. Now, imagine what would have happened if he'd said such things about blacks, Africa, homos, Jews, and Israel? American politics isn't necessarily pro-minority. If it is, it should favor Palestinian-Americans just as much as Jewish-Americans. Actually, since there are fewer Palestinian-Americans than Jewish-Americans, the US, being pro-minority, should favor Palestinians over Jews in America. In reality, it is AIPAC that draws all the politicians. America is about Pro-Power, and since Jews have the Power and since Jews are a minority, it creates the false impression that the US is a minority-supremacist nation. But WHICH minority? Jews would like for us think that all minorities are represented equally in the US, but do Eskimos, Hawaiians, Guatemalans, Vietnamese, and etc. have the kind of power & protection that the Jewish minority has? Do we see politicians and powerbrokers flock to such minorities for funds and favors?)

So, what does it about the real power in America? So many 'conservatives' say the Left controls America. But in fact, an American can badmouth all true bonafide leftist leaders and thinkers(everyone from Lenin to Sartre). However, if an American were to badmouth Sheldon Adelson as a sick demented Zionist capitalist oligarch who wants to nuke Iran, he would be blacklisted by the most of the media. (If one must criticize Adelson, it has to be in generic terms of him a top donor to the likes of Romney. One mustn't discuss his zealous and maniacal views rooted in Zionist-supremacism. You can criticize his money but not the mentality that determines the use of that money.) Isn't it rather amusing how the so-called Liberals denounce the GOP for being 'extreme' but overlook the main reason for such extremism? It's because the GOP relies on Zionist lunatics like Adelson who thinks Iran should be nuked to be taught a lesson. Even Liberal Media overlook this fact. Also, it's interesting that the Liberal Media are more outraged by Trump's peace offer to Russia than Trump's hawkish rhetoric toward Iran. I thought Liberals were the Doves.

We know why politics and media work like this. It's not about 'left' vs 'right' or 'liberal' vs 'conservative'. It is really about Jewish Globalist Dominance. Jews, neocon 'right' or globo-'left', hate Russia because its brand of white gentile nationalism is an obstacle to Jewish supremacist domination. Now, Current Russia is nice to Jews, and Jews can make all the money they want. But that isn't enough for Jews. Jews want total control of media, government, narrative, everything. If Jews say Russia must have homo parades and 'gay marriage', Russia better bend over because its saying NO means that it is defiant to the Jewish supremacist agenda of using homomania as proxy to undermine and destroy all gentile nationalism rooted in identity and moral righteousness.
Russia doesn't allow that, and that is what pisses off Jews. For Jews, the New Antisemitism is defined as denying them the supremacist 'right' to control other nations. Classic antisemitism used to mean denying Jews equal rights under the law. The New Antisemitism means Jews are denied the right to gain dominance over others and dictate terms.
So, that is why Jews hate any idea of good relations with Russia. But Jews don't mind Trump's irresponsible anti-Iran rhetoric since it serves Zionist interest. So, if Trump were to say, "We shouldn't go to war with Russia; we should be friends" and "We should get ready to bomb, destroy, and even nuke Iran", the 'liberal' media would be more alarmed by the Peace-with-Russia statement. Which groups controls the media? 'Liberals', really? Do Muslim 'liberals' agree with Jewish 'liberals'?

Anyway, we need to do away with the fiction that Left rules anything. They don't. We have Jewish Supremacist rule hiding behind the label of the 'Left'. But the US is a nation where it's totally permissible to attack real leftist ideas and leaders but suicidal if anyone dares to discuss the power of super-capitalist Jewish oligarchs. Some 'leftism'!

We need to discuss the power of the Glob.

Voltaire once said, "To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize."

No. Voltaire neither said that nor wrote that.

Kevin Alfred Strom wrote "To determine the true rulers of any society, all you must do is ask yourself this question: Who is it that I am not permitted to criticize?"

Someone paraphrased him and attributed the paraphrase to Voltaire.

NoseytheDuke , February 20, 2017 at 4:51 am GMT \n
100 Words @Max Havelaar Do you have any economic degree or are you a shouter?

Quartermaster is a hack comedian with only one tool in his toolkit, that of reversal. That everything he says is true only when one understands he means the opposite of what he says does it make sense but alas, not in a way that makes for good humour. Comedic tragedy indeed!

Sergey Krieger , February 20, 2017 at 12:20 pm GMT \n
100 Words @Seamus Padraig I'm generally a big fan and admirer of Putin, but this is definitely one criticism of him that I have a lot of sympathy for. It is long past time for Putin to purge the neoliberals from the Kremlin and nationalize the Russian Central Bank. I cannot fathom why he hasn't done this already.

I would really love to like Putin and I am trying but him protecting all those criminals and not reversing the history greatest heist of 90′s makes it impossible. While I am behind all his moves to restore Russian military and foreign policy, I am still waiting for more on home front. Note, not only the Bank must be nationalized. Everything, all industries, factories and other assets privatized by now must be returned to rightful owner. Public which over 70 years through great sacrifice built all of it.

Sergey Krieger , February 20, 2017 at 12:31 pm GMT \n
300 Words @SmoothieX12

I cannot fathom why he hasn't done this already.
Partially, because Putin himself is an economic liberal and, to a degree, monetarist, albeit less rigid than his economic block. The good choices he made often were opposite to his views. As he himself admitted that Russia's geopolitical vector changed with NATO's aggression against Yugoslavia--a strengthening of Russia has become an imperative. This comeback was impossible within the largely "Western" monetarist economic model. Russia's comeback happened not thanks but despite Putin's economic views, Putin adjusted his views in the process, his economic block didn't. But many of them still remain his friends, despite the fact that many of them are de facto fifth column and work against Russia, intentionally and other wise. Eventually Putin will be forced to get down from his fence and take the position of industrialists and siloviki. Putin's present for Medvedev's birthday was a good hint on where he is standing economically today and I am beginning to like that but still--I personally am not convinced yet. We'll see. In many respects Putin was lucky and specifically because of the namely Soviet military and industry captains still being around--people who, unlike Putin, knew exactly what constituted Russia's strength. Enough to mention late Evgeny Primakov. Let's not forget that despite Putin's meteoric rise through the top levels of Russia's state bureaucracy, including his tenure as a Director of FSB, Putin's background is not really military-industrial. He is a lawyer, even if uniformed (KGB) part of his career. I know for a fact that initially (early 2000s) he was overwhelmed with the complexity of Russia's military and industry. Enough to mention his creature Serdyukov who almost destroyed Command and Control structure of Russia's Armed Forces and main ideologue behind Russia's military "reform", late Vitaly Shlykov who might have been a great GRU spy (and economist by trade) but who never served a day in combat units. Thankfully, the "reforms" have been stopped and Russian Armed Forces are still dealing with the consequences. This whole clusterfvck was of Putin's own creation--hardly a good record on his resume. Hopefully, he learned.

Smoothie, you seem to have natural aversion towards lawyers
Albeit, the first Vladimir, I mean Lenin also was a lawyers by education still he was a rather quick study. Remember that military communism and Lenin after one year after Bolsheviks took power telling that state capitalism would be great step forward for Russia whcih obviously was backward and ruined by wars at the time and he proceeded with New Economic Policy and Lenin despite not being industry captain realized pretty well what constituted state power hence GOELRO plans and electrification of all Russia plans and so forth which was later turned by Stalin and his team into reality.
Now, Lenin was ideologically motivated and so is Putin. But he clearly has been trying to achieve different results by keeping same people around him and doing same things. Hopefully it is changing now, but it is so much wasted time when old Vladimir was always repeating that time is of essence and delay is like death knell. Putin imho is away too relax and even vain in some way, hence those shirtless pictures and those on the bike. And the way he walks a la "Я Московский озорной гуляка". As you said it looks like he is protecting those criminals who must be prosecuted and yes, many executed for what they caused.
I suspect in cases when it comes to economical development he is not picking right people for those jobs and it is his major responsibility to assign right people and delegate power properly, not to be forgotten to reverse what constitutes the history greatest heist and crime so called "privatization". Basically returning to more communal society minus Politburo.
There is a huge elephant in the room too. Russia demographic situation which I doubt can be addressed under current liberal order. all states which are in liberal state of affairs fail to basically procreate hence these waves of immigrants brought into all Western Nations. Russia cannot do it. It would be suicide which is what all Western countries are doing right now.

Boris N , February 20, 2017 at 8:58 pm GMT \n
100 Words

Russia does not need Western technology. Indeed, its military technology is superior to that in the West.

You write about Russia but have not done your homework. Russia is very dependent on Western technology and its entire high-tech industry depends on the import of Western machinery. Without such machinery many Russian factories, including military ones, would stall. Very important oil industry is particularly vulnerable.

Some home reading (sorry, they are in Russian, but one ought to know the language if one writes about the country).

http://www.fa.ru/fil/orel/science/Documents/ISA%2014644146.pdf

http://rusrand.ru/analytics/stanki-stanki-stanki

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[Feb 21, 2017] Chinese oil demand growth

Feb 21, 2017 | peakoilbarrel.com

Reuters calculated Chinese oil demand growth of 2.5% in 2016, based on official data-a three-year low-down from 3.1% in 2015."

> > > > > > > >

[Feb 09, 2017] Why the USA target Russia for regime change? Is it because of an impending Seneca cliff in Saudi Arabia?

Feb 09, 2017 | peakoilbarrel.com
VK says: 02/06/2017 at 7:20 am
Why target Russia? Is it because of an impending Seneca cliff in Saudi Arabia? They were supposed to peak 10 years ago but water and nitrogen injections kept them afloat. Now?

https://www.lewrockwell.com/author/jack-perry/?ptype=article

"I've gotten a couple emails from people who have asked me what I think the "end game" is in regards to Russia. And, indeed, the government is going into extra innings with this whole Russia vilification project. This is worse than someone who has held on to a grudge for years. The government does that, too, but they haven't done it over ideology (as with Cuba) for quite some time now. What, then, is the motive?

The motive is perfectly clear: Oil. You see, Russia has already eclipsed Saudi Arabia as the world's biggest oil producer. This means the big Saudi oil fields are drying up. And the government knows that, but they can't tell us this because it'll create a panic. One would think this would motivate the United States to get cozier with Russia. However, what the United States government fears is that if we do that, Russia will twig to the motive for it, and realize it has the United States over a barrel. An oil barrel. At which point the price goes up. Not to mention extracting concessions in the global sphere of influence.

Thus, what the United States is playing at here is trying to install a different "regime" in Russia. That being, one that Vladimir Putin does not control or have any influence over. This is easier said than done and the United States knows this. But the stakes are quite a bit higher than controlling the dwindling oil supply in the Middle East. Russia is obviously in control of most of the world's remaining oil reserves. The United States needs a puppet regime in Russia to have access to that oil without paying the correct market price for it.

At some point, this gambit will fail. Russia is not the Middle East. A war with Russia cannot be won or cease-fired out of. Nor can a United States-backed "regime change" succeed over there. This is not the 1990s Russia of Boris Yeltsin. The United States, however, cannot come clean with the truth to the American people. The reason is because if the American people knew the truth, they'd never sleep nights anymore. The truth is this: Our entire economic system is based on petroleum and low-cost petroleum at that. But the actual nightmare is that our entire agricultural system is based on cheap oil."

George Kaplan says: 02/06/2017 at 2:50 pm
Saudi has had water injection for much longer than ten years on pretty well all it's fields and I don't think they are using nitrogen injection anywhere, there may be some small CO2 EOR projects though. Their production has been maintained by developing three old, heavy oil fields that were mostly dormant (Manifa, Khurais and Shaybah), by using a lot of in-fill drilling and intelligent wells (where water breakthrough can be controlled) on maturing fields and by extensively redeveloping offshore fields with new wellhead platforms and adding artificial lift.

I don't think their fields are anywhere near drying up; they may be hitting some limits in surface facilities – probably to do with water injection or treatment of produced water which means they have to continually choke back so as not to damage the reservoirs.

[Feb 06, 2017] Crazy propaganda from Fedbook, sorry Facebook about Russia oil transportation and discovery

Notable quotes:
"... US and EU sanctions only affect Russian offshore projects in the Arctic and development of Russia's tight oil. If sanctions are lifted, projects with foreign participation in these two areas will be able to produce meaningful quantities of oil not before 2025. But these volumes will not be sufficient to flood the market. ..."
"... Russia is participating in OPEC-non-OPEC supply cuts and certainly is not interested in flooding the market and exerting a downward pressure on prices. ..."
"... The only Russia's offshore Arctic project is Prirazlomnoye field developed by Gazpromneft without foreign participation (already producing oil). ..."
"... In general, even if there were no sanctions, Arctic projects would be developed relatively slowly, due to high costs and environmental issues. Russia's long-term energy program anticipates more or less meaningful volumes of oil production in the Arctic offshore only in the 2030s. ..."
"... Everything in that stuff you wrote is baloney. Russia's Black Sea exports go through Novorossysk and Tuapse. There isn't an oil pipeline going to Crimea. Furthermore, putting an oil loading port in Crimea is nutty (because the oil comes from the East and it makes much more sense to load as far to the East as possible). There used to be some oil loaded in Odessa, but that was never a big deal. ..."
"... Regarding the Exxon deal, that's also baloney. But I don't feel like trying to explain the basics to somebody who picks up information from Facebook. ..."
"... From all that I've read, I would conclude that a "flood of oil" out of Russia is about as likely as a "flood of new fracked oil from shales in the United States, not yet drilled." That is, it's rather low on the probability meter. ..."
"... Why target Russia? Is it because of an impending Seneca cliff in Saudi Arabia? They were supposed to peak 10 years ago but water and nitrogen injections kept them afloat. Now? ..."
"... Thus, what the United States is playing at here is trying to install a different "regime" in Russia. That being, one that Vladimir Putin does not control or have any influence over. This is easier said than done and the United States knows this. But the stakes are quite a bit higher than controlling the dwindling oil supply in the Middle East. Russia is obviously in control of most of the world's remaining oil reserves. The United States needs a puppet regime in Russia to have access to that oil without paying the correct market price for it. ..."
"... At some point, this gambit will fail. Russia is not the Middle East. A war with Russia cannot be won or cease-fired out of. Nor can a United States-backed "regime change" succeed over there. This is not the 1990s Russia of Boris Yeltsin. The United States, however, cannot come clean with the truth to the American people. The reason is because if the American people knew the truth, they'd never sleep nights anymore. The truth is this: Our entire economic system is based on petroleum and low-cost petroleum at that. But the actual nightmare is that our entire agricultural system is based on cheap oil." ..."
Feb 06, 2017 | peakoilbarrel.com
Boomer II says: 02/05/2017 at 3:59 pm
I saw this on Facebook. Can anyone respond?

"Exxon Mobil, under Rex Tillerson, brokered a deal with Russia in 2013 to lease over 60 million acres of Russian land to pump oil out of (which is five times as much land as they lease in the United States), but all that Russian oil would go through pipelines in the Ukraine, who heavily tax the proceeds, and Ukraine was applying for admission into NATO at the time.

Putin subsequently invaded Ukraine in 2014, secured the routes to export the oil tax-free by sea, and took control of the port where their Black Sea Naval Fleet is based, by taking the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine by force. This was Hitler style imperialism that broke every international law in the free world.
After Obama sanctioned Russia for the invasion, Exxon Mobil could only pump oil from approximately 3 of those 60+ million acres. But now Rex Tillerson is soon to be our Secretary of State, and as of today, there's information circulating that Donald Trump will likely unilaterally remove all sanctions against Russia in the coming days or weeks.

The Russian government's oil company, Rosneft, will make half a trillion (500 Billion) dollars from that much untapped oil, all pumped tax-free through Crimea, stolen from Ukraine, now owned by Russia. Putin may have subverted our government just for this deal to go through."
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Now, a flood of oil on the market from Russia would likely keep US oil prices down, thus hurting