Iran Intelligence Ministry rejects reports on US-based group ringleader’s overseas arrest

Press TV

Monday, 03 August 2020 5:51 AM  [ Last Update: Monday, 03 August 2020 6:44 AM ]

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This photo released by Fars news agency shows Jamshid Sharmahd after his capture by Iranian security forces.

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry, which recently announced the apprehension of the ringleader of a US-based anti-Iran terrorist group, has rejected reports alleging that the person in question was actually nabbed in Tajikistan.

The reports “are roundly rejected,” the Ministry said in a statement that was cited by Tasnim News Agency on Sunday.

Statements released by the Ministry’s Public Relations Office are the ultimate source of any official information detailing the operations that are carried out by the Ministry’s operatives, the statement asserted.

The Ministry announced arresting Jamshid Sharmahd, the ringleader of the Tondar (Thunder) outfit, otherwise known as the so-called “Kingdom Assembly of Iran,” on Saturday, notifying that he had directed “armed operations and acts of sabotage” inside Iran from the US in the past.

Upon arrest, Sharmahd admitted to providing explosives for a 2008 attack in southern Iran that killed 14 people. US-based group ringleader admits providing explosives for 2008 deadly bomb attack in Iran

Upon arrest, the ringleader of a US-based anti-Iran terrorist group admits providing explosives for a 2008 attack in southern Iran.

“I was called before the bomb was about to be set off,” he was seen confessing in footage provided by the Islamic Republic of Iran News Network later in the day. 

The attack that targeted the Seyyed al-Shohada mosque in the city of Shiraz also wounded 215 others.

According to the Ministry, the group had planned to carry out several high-profile and potentially hugely-deadly attacks across the Islamic Republic, but had been frustrated in the attempts owing to intricate intelligence operations targeting the outfit. These included blowing up of Sivand Damn in Shiraz, detonating cyanide-laden bombs at Tehran International Book Fair, and carrying out explosions during mass gatherings at the Mausoleum of the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini.

Details of the arrest

Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi, meanwhile, congratulated the Ministry’s operatives on their success in arresting the terrorist ringleader, detailing the circumstances that surrounded the operation.

Sharmahd enjoyed “serious support” from the American and Israeli intelligence services, which “considered it to be far-fetched for the Iranian Intelligence Ministry to be able to penetrate their intelligence cover and put him under its command through an intricate operation,” the minister said.

The Americans still believe that pictures showing Sharmahd in Iran after his arrest have been snapped outside the Islamic Republic, he added, saying, “They will found out about everything [concerning the operation] in near future.”

Alavi differentiated between Sharmahd’s outfit and other so-called royalist groups, which mostly resort to rhetoric and statements to try to establish themselves.

Tondar “was the only movement that was very violent and was after establishing itself through terrorist operation,” the minister noted.

‘Iran neutralized 27 ops by Tondar’

Alavi noted that the Ministry had succeeded in frustrating 27 operations by Sharmahd and his group.

The minister again highly rated the arrest operation, recalling previous remarks by Sharmahd, in which he had considered himself to be comfortably nested within the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“He considered his place to be lying on the sixth floor of the FBI [‘s building],” and now sees himself in the grips of Iranian intelligence operatives, Alavi said.

Following the terrorist attack in Iran, the Islamic Republic notified the Interpol of Sharmahd’s identity and demanded his arrest. However, he would still travel freely between countries with his real identity.

Alavi said the inaction despite Tehran’s complaint “indicates the hollowness of the Americans and their European allies’ claim of fighting terrorism.”

The minister finally hailed that the arrest “has not been and will not be” the first such complicated operation to be aced by Iranian intelligence operatives, asserting that “they have carried out such arrests in the past, the due time for explaining which has not yet arrived.”


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Iran’s Future Will Be Prosperous: A 150-Year Fight for Sovereignty From Oil to Nuclear Energy

Iran's Future Will Be Prosperous: A 150-Year Fight for Sovereignty ...

Cynthia Chung July 28, 2020

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This is Part 3 of the series “Follow the Trail of Blood and Oil”.

 Part 1 is a historical overview of Iran’s long struggle with Britain’s control over Iranian oil and the SIS-CIA overthrow of Iran’s Nationalist leader Mosaddegh in 1953. 

Part 2 covers the period of the Shah’s battle with the Seven Sisters, the 1979 Revolution and the Carter Administration’s reaction, which was to have immense economic consequences internationally, as a response to the hostage crisis.

In this article it will be discussed why, contrary to what we are being told, Iran’s fight for the right to develop nuclear energy will create stability and prosperity in the Middle East rather than an “arc of crisis” scenario.

From Arc of Crisis to Corridors of Development

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani became President of Iran on August 16th 1989 and served two terms (1989-1997). Rafsanjani, who is considered one of the Founding Fathers of the Islamic Republic, began the effort to rebuild the country’s basic infrastructure, after the ravages of the Iran-Iraq War and launched a series of infrastructure projects not only domestically but in cooperation with neighbouring countries. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Rafsanjani moved to establish diplomatic relations with the newly independent Central Asian Republics, forging economic cooperation agreements based on building transportation infrastructure.

The major breakthrough in establishing this network came in May 1996 (after a 4 year construction) with the opening of the Mashhad-Sarakhs-Tajan railway, which provided the missing link in a network connecting landlocked Central Asian Republics to world markets, through Iran’s Persian Gulf ports.

At the historical launching of the railway, Rafsanjani was quoted as saying the expansion of communications, roads and railway networks, and hence access to world markets can “enhance amity, confidence and trust among governments and lead to mutual understanding and greater solidarity…The recent global developments demonstrate the world is moving toward greater regional cooperation, and regionally coordinated economic growth and development will consolidate peace and stability and pave the way for enhancement of international relations.

In addition, at the end of Dec 1997, a 125 mile pipeline between Turkmenistan and northeast Iran was opened, gaining access to one of the largest untapped energy reserves in the world, the Caspian Sea Basin, designed to carry 12 billion cubic feet of natural gas a year.

Rafsanjani was fully aware of the Arc of Crisis prophecy that the U.S. was trying to convince the international community of, that basically, the Middle East was full of savages and would become a hot-bed for Soviet terrorism if left alone. It was also understood that Iran’s geographic location was the linchpin in determining not only Middle East geopolitics, but Eurasian relations.

To counteract this “prophecy”, which was in fact a “vision” for the Middle East, Rafsanjani understood that economic development and cooperation with Iran’s neighbours was key to avoiding such chaos.

In 1996, Rafsanjani founded the Executives of Construction of Iran Party, along with 16 members of cabinet, dedicated to Iran’s increasing participation in world markets and industrialization with emphasis on progress and development. The party’s view is that economic freedom is linked to cultural and political freedom.

Rafsanjani publicly supported Khatami as the next president- a highly influential and significant move.

Khatami’s Call for a “Dialogue Amongst Civilizations”

Mohammad Khatami became President of Iran on the 3rd August 1997 and served two terms (1997-2005). He was elected by an overwhelming majority (69% in 1997 and 77.9% in 2001) with a record voter turnout and was extremely popular amongst women and young voters. There was much optimism that Khatami’s presidency would not only bring further economic advances for Iran, but also that Iran’s international relations could begin to mend with the West and end Iran’s economic isolation.

It was Khatami who would first propose the beautiful concept “Dialogue Amongst Civilizations” and delivered this proposal at the UN General Assembly in September 1998 with the challenge that the first year of the millennium be dedicated to this great theme. It was endorsed by the UN.

You may be inclined to think such a concept fanciful, but Khatami was actually proposing a policy that was in direct opposition to the “crisis of Islam” and “clash of civilizations” geopolitical theories of Bernard Lewis and Samuel P. Huntington. Khatemi understood that to counteract the attempt to destabilise relations between nations, one would have to focus on the common principles among different civilizations, i.e. to identify a nation’s greatest historical and cultural achievements and build upon these shared heritages.

This is the backbone to what China has adopted as their diplomatic philosophy, which they call win-win cooperation and which has led to the creation of the BRI infrastructure projects, which are based on the recognition that only through economic development can nations attain sustainable peace. Italy would be the first in Europe to sign onto the BRI.

In 1999 Khatami would be the first Iranian president, since the 1979 Revolution, to make an official visit to Europe. Italy was the first stop, where Khatami had a long meeting with Pope John Paul II and gave an inspiringly optimistic address to students at the University of Florence.

Khatami stated his reason for choosing to visit Italy first was that they shared in common renaissance heritages (the Italian and Islamic Renaissances). Since the two nations had made significant contributions to contemporary civilization, an immense potential existed for a strategic relationship. It was also significant that Italy had never had a colonial presence in the Middle East. During his visit, Khatami had suggested that Italy could function as the “bridge between Islam and Christianity”.

Khatami further elaborated on the concept of a “bridge between Islam and Christianity” in an interview published by La Republica:

To delve into past history without looking at the future can only be an academic diversion. To help human societies and improve the condition of the world, it is necessary to consider the present state of relations between Asian, in particular Muslim, countries, and Europe…Why do we say, in particular, Muslim? Because Islam is Europe’s next door neighbor; unlike individuals, nations are not free to choose or change neighbors. Therefore, apart from moral, cultural, and human reasons, out of historical and geographical necessity, Islam and Europe have no choice but to gain a better and more accurate understanding of each other, and thus proceed to improve their political, economic, and cultural relations. Our future cannot be separated from each other, because it is impossible to separate our past.

In June 2000, Khatami made a state visit to China with a 170 member delegation. In a lecture delivered at Beijing University Khatami stated:

Even if one were to rely solely on historical documents we can still demonstrate the existence of uninterrupted historical links between China and Iran as early as the third century BC. [The historic Silk Road was the vehicle of cultural exchange where] we can observe a striking spectrum of cultural and spiritual interchanges involving religions, customs, thoughts, literature and ethics, which on the whole, added to the vitality and vivacity of eastern culture and thought…[and that] the Chinese outlook has been instrumental in opening up the way to the fruitful and constructive historical discourses throughout the ages, due to its emphasis on the intellectual over the political, in an attempt to epitomize wisdom, temperance and parsimony…Emphasis on our long standing close historical ties and dialogue among the great Asian civilizations, is a valuable instrument for the regenerating of thought, culture, language, and learning…in Asian civilizations, culture has always been the core of the economic and political process…[and] therefore, we are compelled to give a more serious thought to the revival of our cultures…

Khatami concluded with “The future belongs to the cultured, wise, courageous and industrious nations.

Dr. Strangelove and the “Islamic Bomb”

The U.S. was not always so antagonistic to Iran’s right to sovereignty. In 1943, President Roosevelt created the Iran Declaration which was signed by both Stalin and Churchill at the Tehran Conference, effectively ending Iran’s occupation by foreign powers.

In 1957, following Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” initiative, the U.S. and Iran signed the “Cooperation Concerning Civil Uses of Atoms” which led to the 1959 creation of the Tehran Nuclear Research Center. And in 1960, first generation Iranian scientists were trained at MIT. In 1967, the U.S. supplied Iran with a 5 megawatt research reactor and enriched uranium fuel!

The reason why the relationship went sour, as Washington incessantly repeats, is that Iran is no longer trustworthy after the hostage crisis debacle shortly after the 1979 Revolution. The U.S., confident on their high horse, has felt justified ever since to dictate to Iran how they should run their nation.

Funny that it is hardly ever mentioned in the same breath that the U.S. was directly involved in the illegal removal of Iran’s Prime Minister Mosaddegh in 1953 who had successfully nationalised Iran’s oil and purged the nation of its British imperialist infestation.

Iran had proceeded in accordance with international law and won the case for nationalising Iran’s oil at The Hague and UN Security Council, against the British who were claiming their company “rights” to Iran’s resources. When Britain humiliatingly lost both high profile cases, Britain and the U.S. proceeded to implement TPAJAX and illegally overthrew the constitutional government of Iran, removing Mosaddegh as Prime Minister and installing an abiding puppet in his place.

Despite this, the U.S. acts as if it were justified in its incredibly hostile 40 year foreign policy towards Iran, largely over a hostage crisis (to which all hostages were safely returned home), and which was likely purposefully provoked by the U.S. as a pretext to sabotaging the European Monetary System (see my paper on this).

If Iran can forgive what the U.S. did to throw their country into disarray and keep their beloved leader Mosaddegh locked away as a political prisoner for the rest of his life, who was even refused a proper burial (1), then the U.S. government is in no position to harbour such distrust and hatred over the distant past.

Although Iran is also incessantly accused of alleged terrorist activity, there is not one international court case to date that has actually provided evidence to follow through with such charges. What is standing in the way of this occurring if Iran’s crimes are apparently so immense and far reaching and are a matter of international security, as the U.S. government frequently protests?

These alleged terrorist accusations seem to be based in the same form of “reasoning” behind the incessant accusations that Iran is planning on building an “Islamic Bomb”. In 2007, under the fanatical neoconservative Dick Cheney (via operation Clean Break), the U.S. came very close to invading Iran on the pretext that Iran was actively working towards such a goal.

These threats occurred despite the Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), ElBaradei, insisting that Iran was cooperating with the IAEA demands in accordance with NPT standards and that there was no evidence to support that Iran was working on nuclear weapons. In fact, ElBaradei was so upset over Washington’s threats of war that he took to the press daily to emphasise that Iran was cooperating fully and there was no evidence to justify an invasion.

However, it wouldn’t be until the release of the National Intelligence Estimate on Dec 3, 2007 that Cheney’s fantasy was finally dashed against the rocks. Within the NIE report, which was produced by American intelligence agencies, it was made crystal clear that Iran in fact had no military nuclear program since at least 2003 but possibly even further back. It was also no secret that the only reason why the report was made public was because members of the American intelligence community made it known that they were willing to go to the press about it, even if it meant ending up in prison.

Incredibly, Bush’s response to the press over this news was “Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous, and Iran will continue to be dangerous…”

Looking past the absurdity of Bush’s statement that Iran is dangerous, only 5 years after the illegal invasion of Iraq, justified by cooked British Intelligence, and the very real attempt to invade Iran in turn over fabricated accusations, the issue is in fact nothing to do with what Washington is claiming is their problem with Iran.

Atoms for Peace or Nuclear Apartheid?

The real “problem” with Iran is that it has become a great thorn in the “arc of crisis” game-plan. Despite Iran once being flooded with MI6, CIA and Israeli Mossad operatives, the Iranians have been largely successful in purging their nation of this infestation. Iran is thus refusing to be the west’s geopolitical linchpin. The more autonomous and prosperous Iran becomes, the greater the thorn.

The assassination of Gen. Maj. Soleimani in Jan 2020, was meant to be nothing less than a blatant provocation, as Bolton giddily tweeted, to cause Iran to take a misstep that would have justified a U.S. invasion and allowed for a reboot of the “arc of crisis”, flooding the country with actual terrorist groups, following the Iraq and Libyan models.

The real “threat” of Iran was expressed clearly when then President Bush Jr. visited the Middle East in Jan 2008 in an attempt to organise Arab states to offer their territory for U.S. military aggression against Iran. What he received as a response whether in Kuwait, Bahrain, UAE or Saudi Arabia was a resounding no.

The Al-Riyadh newspaper, which represents the views of the Saudi government, went so far as to state “We refuse to be used to launch wars or tensions with Iran…If the president [of the U.S.] wants to obtain the solidarity of all the Arabs…he must focus, rationally, on the most important issue which is the question of peace.

Overlapping Bush’s visit, the Foreign Minister of Iraq joined with the Iranian Foreign Minister at a Tehran press conference to announce: “My country knows who is our friend and who is our enemy, and Iran is our friend.

It is clear that despite the attempts to bring these nations to each other’s throats, the jig is up, and the tyrannical presence of the U.S. military in the Middle East is only going to unite these countries further. There will be no T.E. Lawrence organising of a Bedouin tribe this time around.

It is understood that if Iran were permitted to enter the world markets unhindered and to develop nuclear energy to sufficiently provide for its people, then Iran would become one of the top countries in the world. And as their Arab neighbours recognise, this would bring not only wealth and prosperity to their nations in turn, but the very much desired peace and security.

Iran as an economic powerhouse would also certainly align itself with Russia and China, as it has already begun, due to their common philosophy oriented in a multipolar governance frame emphasised by a win-win idea of economic cooperation. This alliance would naturally draw India, Japan and notably western Europe into its economic framework like the gravitational pull of a sun, and would result in the termination of the NATO-U.S. military industrial complex by ending the divide between east and west politics.

The fight for nuclear energy has always been about the fight for the right to develop one’s nation. And economic development of regions, such as the Middle East, is key to achieving sustainable peace. The reason why most countries are not “granted” this right to use nuclear power is because they are meant to remain as “serf” countries under a unipolar world order. Additionally, amongst the “privileged” countries who have been given the green light to possess uranium enrichment facilities, they are being told that they now need to shut down these nuclear capabilities under a Green New Deal.

This unipolar outlook was made evident by the Bush Administration’s attempt to assert guidelines that no country should be allowed to enrich uranium even to the low levels required for fuel for nuclear electric power plants, unless it is already in the U.S. dominated “Nuclear Suppliers Group”. All other nations would only be permitted to purchase power plant fuel from these “supplier” countries…with political conditions of course.

Everyone knows that oil revenues are not reliable for financing economic growth and Venezuela is a stark example of this. By limiting countries in the Middle East to oil as the main revenue, an incredibly volatile economic situation for the entire region is created, in addition to a complete subservience to “oil geopolitics”. Every nation has the right to defend itself against economic warfare by diversifying and stabilising its economy, and nuclear energy is absolutely key.

In British-based financial oligarchism, which is what runs the City of London (the financial center of the world for over 400 years to this day), the essential policy outlook which lurks behind the international oil cartels, is that who controls the oil, gas, strategic minerals, and food production will ultimately control the world, after the mass of paper values of a dying financial system have been swept away.

Also by this author

Cynthia Chung is a lecturer, writer and co-founder and editor of the Rising Tide Foundation (Montreal, Canada).

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The author can be reached at cynthiachung@tutanota.com

The Sword of Damocles Over Western Europe: Follow the Trail of Blood and Oil

The Sword of Damocles Over Western Europe: Follow the Trail of ...

Cynthia Chung June 3, 2020

In Part 1, we left off in our story at the SIS-CIA overthrow of Iran’s Nationalist leader Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953. At this point the Shah was able to return to Iran from Rome and British-backed Fazlollah Zahedi, who played a leading role in the coup, replaced Mosaddegh as Prime Minister of Iran.

Here we will resume our story.

An Introduction to the ‘Shah of Shahs’, ‘King of Kings’

One important thing to know about Mohammad Reza Shah was that he was no fan of British imperialism and was an advocate for Iran’s independence and industrial growth. That said, the Shah was a deeply flawed man who lacked the steadfastness to secure such a positive fate for Iran. After all, foreign-led coups had become quite common in Iran at that point.

He would become the Shah in 1941 at the age of 22, after the British forced his father Reza Shah into exile. By then, Persia had already experienced 70 years of British imperialism reducing its people to near destitution.

Mohammad Reza Shah had developed very good relations with the U.S. under President FDR, who at the behest of the Shah, formed the Iran Declaration which ended Iran’s foreign occupation by the British and the Soviets after WWII.

His father, Reza Shah came into power after the overthrow of Ahmad Shah in 1921, who was responsible for signing into law the infamous Anglo-Persian Agreement in 1919, which effectively turned Iran into a de facto protectorate run by British “advisors” and ensured the British Empire’s control of Iran’s oil.

Despite Reza Shah’s problems (Mosaddegh was sent into exile during his reign), he had made significant achievements for Iran. Among these included the development of transportation infrastructure, 15 000 miles of road by 1940 and the construction of the Trans-Iranian Railway which opened in 1938.

Mohammad Reza Shah wished to continue this vein of progress, however, he would first have to go through Britain and increasingly the U.S. in order to fulfill Iran’s vision for a better future.

In 1973, Mohammad Reza Shah thought he finally found his chance to turn Iran into the “world’s sixth industrial power” in just one generation…

OPEC and the European Monetary System vs the ‘Seven Sisters’

In 1960, OPEC was founded by five oil producing countries: Venezuela, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Kuwait in an attempt to influence and stabilise the market price of oil, which would in turn stabilise their nation’s economic return. The formation of OPEC marked a turning point toward national sovereignty over natural resources.

However, during this period OPEC did not have a strong voice in such affairs, the main reason being the “Seven Sisters” which controlled approximately 86% of the oil produced by OPEC countries. The “Seven Sisters” was the name for the seven transnational oil companies of the “Consortium of Iran” cartel which dominated the global petroleum industry, with British Petroleum owning 40% and Royal Dutch Shell 14%, giving Britain the lead at 54% ownership during this period.

After 1973, with the sudden rise of oil prices, the Shah began to see an opportunity for independent action.

The Shah saw the price increase as a way to pull his country out of backwardness. To the intense irritation of his sponsors, the Shah pledged to bring Iran into the ranks of the world’s top ten industrial nations by the year 2000.

The Shah understood that in order for this vision to become a reality, Iran could not just stay as a crude oil producer but needed to invest in a more stable future through industrial growth. And as it just so happened, France and West Germany were ready to make an offer.

In 1978, France and West Germany led the European community, with the exception of Great Britain, in the formation of the European Monetary System (EMS). The EMS was a response to the controlled disintegration that had been unleashed on the world economy after the fixed exchange rate became a floating exchange rate in 1971.

French foreign minister Jean Francois–Poncet had told a UN press conference, that it was his vision that the EMS eventually replace the IMF and World Bank as the center of world finance.

For those who are unaware of the devastation that the IMF and World Bank have wreaked upon the world, refer to John Perkins’ “Confession of an Economic Hit Man”… the situation is 10X worst today.

As early as 1977, France and West Germany had begun exploring the possibility of concretizing a deal with oil producing countries in which western Europe would supply high-technology exports, including nuclear technology, to the OPEC countries in exchange for long-term oil supply contracts at a stable price. In turn, OPEC countries would deposit their enormous financial surpluses into western European banks which could be used for further loans for development projects… obviously to the detriment of the IMF and World Bank hegemony.

The Carter Administration was not happy with this, sending Vice President Walter Mondale to France and West Germany to “inform” them that the U.S. would henceforth oppose the sale of nuclear energy technology to the Third World…and thus they should do so as well. West Germany’s nuclear deal with Brazil and France’s promise to sell nuclear technology to South Korea had already come under heavy attack.

In addition, the Shah had started a closer partnership with Iraq and Saudi Arabia cemented at OPEC meetings in 1977 and 1978. In a press conference in 1977 the Shah stated he would work for oil price stability. Together Saudi Arabia and Iran at the time produced nearly half of OPEC’s entire output.

If an Iran-Saudi-Iraq axis established a permanent working relationship with the EMS it would have assembled an unstoppable combination against the London world financial center.

Recall that France and West Germany had already ignored British calls to boycott Iranian oil in 1951 under Mosaddegh, and therefore, there was no indication that they were going to follow suit with Britain and the U.S. this time either.

As far as London and Washington were concerned, the Shah’s reign was over.

British Petroleum, BBC News and Amnesty International as Servants to the Crown

Were we to select a date for the beginning of the Iranian revolution it would be November 1976, the month that Amnesty International issued its report charging brutality and torture of political prisoners by the Shah of Iran.

Ironically, the SAVAK which was the secret police under the Shah from 1957 to 1979, was established and pretty much run by the SIS (aka MI6), CIA and the Israeli Mossad. This is a well-known fact, and yet, was treated as somehow irrelevant during Amnesty International’s pleas for a humanitarian intervention into Iran.

For those who haven’t already discovered Amnesty International’s true colors from their recent “work” in Syria… it should be known that they work for British Intelligence.

Gruesome accounts of electric shock torture and mutilation were printed in the London Times, the Washington Post and other respected press. Within a few months, President Carter launched his own “human rights” campaign. With this, the international humanitarian outcry got bigger and louder demanding the removal of the Shah.

The Shah was caught between a rock and a hard place, as he was known not to be strong on “security” matters and often left it entirely up to the management of others. Once Amnesty International sounded the war-cry, the Shah made the mistake of not only defending the undefendable SAVAK in the public arena but continued to trust them entirely. It would be his biggest mistake.

With the international foment intensifying, the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) Persian language broadcasts into Iran fanned the flames of revolt.

During the entire year of 1978 the BBC stationed dozens of correspondents throughout the country in every remote town and village. BBC correspondents, often in the employ of the British secret service, worked as intelligence operatives for the revolution.

Each day the BBC would report in Iran gory accounts of alleged atrocities committed by the Iranian police, often without checking the veracity of the reports. It is now acknowledged that these news reports helped to fuel and even organise the political foment towards an Iranian revolution.

In 1978, British Petroleum (BP) was in the process of negotiating with the government of Iran the renewing of the 25 year contract made in 1953 after the Anglo-American coup against Mosaddegh. These negotiations collapsed in Oct 1978, at the height of the revolution. BP rejected the National Iranian Oil Company’s (NIOC) demands, refusing to buy a minimum quantity of barrels of Iranian oil but demanding nonetheless the exclusive right to buy that oil should it wish to in the future!

The Shah and NIOC rejected BP’s final offer. Had the Shah overcome the revolt, it appeared that Iran would have been free in its oil sales policy in 1979 – and would have been able to market its own oil to the state companies of France, Spain, Brazil and many other countries on a state-to-state basis.

In the American press hardly a single line was published about the Iranian fight with BP, the real humanitarian fight for Iranians.

The Sword of Damocles

The “Arc of Crisis” is a geopolitical theory focused on American/western politics in regards to the Muslim world. It was first concocted by British historian Bernard Lewis, who was regarded as the leading scholar in the world on oriental studies, especially of Islam, and its implications for today’s western politics.

Bernard Lewis was acting as an advisor to the U.S. State Department from 1977-1981. Zbigniew Brzezinski, the National Security Advisor, would announce the U.S.’ adoption of the “Arc of Crisis” theory by the American military and NATO in 1978.

It is widely acknowledged today, that the “Arc of Crisis” was primarily aimed at destabilising the USSR and Iran. This will be discussed further in Part 3 of this series.

Egypt and Israel were expected to act as the initiating countries for the expansion of NATO into the Middle East. Iran was to be the next link.

Iran’s revolution was perfectly timed with the launching of the “Arc of Crisis”, and NATO had its “humanitarian” cause for entering the scene.

However, the fight was not over in Iran.

On Jan 4th, 1979, the Shah named Shapour Bakhtiar, a respected member of the National Front as Prime Minister of Iran. Bakhtiar was held in high regard by not only the French but Iranian nationalists. As soon as his government was ratified, Bakhtiar began pushing through a series of major reform acts: he completely nationalised all British oil interests in Iran, put an end to the martial law, abolished the SAVAK, and pulled Iran out of the Central Treaty Organization, declaring that Iran would no longer be “the gendarme of the Gulf”.

Bakhtiar also announced that he would be removing Ardeshir Zahedi from his position as Iran’s Ambassador to the U.S.

An apple that did not fall far from the tree, Ardeshir is the son of Fazlollah Zahedi, the man who led the coup against Mosaddegh and replaced him as Prime Minister!

Ardeshir was suspected to have been misinforming the Shah about the events surrounding the Iranian revolution and it was typical that he spoke to Brzezinski in Washington from Teheran over the phone at least once a day, often twice a day, as part of his “job” as Ambassador to the U.S. during the peak of the Iranian revolution.

With tensions escalating to a maximum, the Shah agreed to transfer all power to Bakhtiar and left Iran on Jan 16th,1979 for a “long vacation” (aka exile), never to return.

However, despite Bakhtiar’s courageous actions, the damage was too far gone and the hyenas were circling round.

It is known that from Jan 7th to early Feb 1979, the No. 2 in the NATO chain of command, General Robert Huyser, was in Iran and was in frequent contact with Brzezinski during this period. It is thought that Huyser’s job was to avoid any coup attempts to disrupt the take-over by Khomeini’s revolutionary forces by largely misleading the Iranian generals with false intel and U.S. promises. Recently declassified documents on Huyser’s visit to Iran confirm these suspicions.

During the Shah’s “long vacation” his health quickly deteriorated. Unfortunately the Shah was never a good judge of character and kept a close dialogue with Henry Kissinger as to how to go about his health problems. By Oct 1979, the Shah was diagnosed with cancer and the decision was made to send him to the U.S. for medical treatment.

This decision was very much pushed for and supported by Brzezinski and Kissinger, despite almost every intelligence report indicating this would lead to a disastrous outcome.

In Nov 18th 1979, the New York Times reported:

‘The decision was made despite the fact that Mr. Carter and his senior policy advisers had known for months that to admit the Shah might endanger Americans at the embassy in Teheran. An aide reported that at one staff meeting Mr. Carter had asked, “When the Iranians take our people in Teheran hostage, what will you advise me then?” ‘

On Oct 22, 1979, the Shah arrived in New York to receive medical treatment. Twelve days later, the U.S. Embassy in Teheran was taken over and 52 American hostages would be held captive for 444 days!

With the taking of the hostages, the Carter Administration, as preplanned under the “Arc of Crisis”, set into motion its scenario for global crisis management.

The hostage crisis, a 100% predictable response to the U.S.’ decision to accept the Shah into America, was the external threat the Carter Administration needed to invoke the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, authorising the President to regulate international commerce after declaring a national emergency in response to an extraordinary threat

With this new authority, President Carter announced the freezing of all U.S.-Iranian financial assets, amounting to over $6 billion, including in branches of American banks abroad. Instantly, the world financial markets were thrown into a panic, and big dollar depositors in western Europe and the U.S., particularly the OPEC central banks, began to pull back from further commitments.

The Eurodollar market was paralyzed and most international lending halted until complex legal matters were sorted out.

However, the most serious consequence by far from the Carter Administration’s “emergency actions,” was in scaring other OPEC governments away from long-term lending precisely at a time when West Germany and France were seeking to attract deposits into the financial apparatus associated with the European Monetary System (EMS).

In addition, the Carter Administration’s insistent demands that western Europe and Japan invoke economic sanctions against Iran was like asking them to cut their own throats. Yet, the raised political tensions succeeded in breaking apart the economic alliances and the slow blood-letting of Europe commenced.

Within days of the taking of the hostages, the pretext was given for a vast expansion of U.S. military presence in the Middle East and the Indian Ocean.

Sound familiar?

The message was not lost on Europe. In a Nov 28, 1979 column in Le Figaro, Paul Marie de la Gorce,  who was in close dialogue with the French presidential palace, concluded that U.S. military and economic intervention into Iran would cause “more damages for Europe and Japan than for Iran.” And that those who advocate such solutions are “consciously or not inspired by the lessons given by Henry Kissinger.”

During the 444 day hostage crisis, a full-scale U.S. invasion was always looming overhead. Such an invasion was never about seizing the oil supply for the U.S., but rather to deny it to western Europe and Japan.

If the U.S. were to have seized the oil supply in Iran, the body blow to the western European economies would have knocked out the EMS. Thus, during the 444 day holding of American hostages, this threat was held over the head of Europe like the sword of Damocles.

It is sufficed to say that today’s ongoing sanctions against Iran cannot be understood in their full weight and international ramifications without this historical background.

To Understand Iran’s 150-Year Fight, Follow the Trail of Blood and Oil

To Understand Iran's 150-Year Fight, Follow the Trail of Blood and ...

Cynthia Chung May 23, 2020

This past Sunday, April 17th, a dispute between Iran and the U.S. occurred over the U.S.’ decision to increase its military presence in Caribbean and Eastern Pacific waters, with the purported reason being a counter-narcotics campaign.

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres this past Sunday, that the real purpose for this move by the U.S. is to “intervene and create disruption in the transfer of Iran’s fuel to Venezuela.” In the same letter, Zarif expressed concern over “the United States’ intention to consider dangerous, unlawful and provocative measures against Iranian oil tankers engaged in perfectly lawful international commerce with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”

The Iranian deployment consists of five tankers carrying around $45.5million of gasoline and related products, as part of a wider deal between Iran and Venezuela. The U.S. has imposed sanctions on both nations’ oil exports.

For the first time since 1962, Iran has requested IMF assistance due to severe shortages created by the COVID-19 pandemic, with Iran requesting an emergency loan of $5 billion. However, the request is currently being blocked by the U.S., which accounts for slightly more than 16.5% of IMF’s voting shares and has an effective veto over decisions.

Iran is presently experiencing a critical shortage of medicines and equipment amid the pandemic, and yet is prohibited from purchasing medicines and supplies because of the banking sanctions.

It is clear that these manoeuvres against Iran are not on behalf of anyone’s “security” but rather an attempt to force Iran to finally bend the knee and be reduced to a state of complete dependence.

Iran has fought a long fight to claim its independence from western powers.

However, what if I were to tell you that once there was a time when Iran and the U.S. had good relations and that the U.S. was in fact the leading promoter and supporter of Iran’s sovereignty?

Almost out of a Shakespearean play of tragedy and betrayal, the relationship was jeopardised by a third player. As identified by John Perkins, in his book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, the first ever U.S. coup against a foreign country was the overthrow of Iran’s nationalist Prime Minister Mosaddegh in 1953. However, what is often left out…is that it was a British authored and designed operation.

In order for us to understand how and why the U.S. was dragged into such an affair, our story starts 150 years ago…

Dieu et mon droit

It all started in 1872, with Nasir al-Din Shah having granted to the British Baron Julius de Reuter, rights to Iran’s entire economic estate. Reuter not only controlled Iran’s industry, farming, and rail transportation, but also held the right to issue currency and to set up a national bank, called the Imperial Bank of Persia, which was under direct British control.

In 1901, Muzzaffar al-Din Shah negotiated what became known as the D’Arcy Contract, granting William Knox D’Arcy, a millionaire London socialite, the special and exclusive privilege to basically own and manage the natural gas and petroleum of Iran for a term of 60 years.

In May 26th 1908 D’Arcy struck pay-dirt in Iran, discovering a huge oil field in Masjed-Soleiman. Britain immediately set up APOC in 1908, purchasing the rights to the black gold from D’Arcy. Six years later, First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill gave the order to purchase 51% of APOC, effectively nationalizing the company. This was to ensure the free flow of oil to the British navy. It was the first company to extract petroleum from Iran.

Iran received only 16% of the royalties on the oil.

Britain continued to pursue total control of Iran, not through colonial occupation, but rather through economic “agreements”. In the midst of carving up the empire’s new “jewels” of the Middle East from the Sykes-Picot fraud on the Arabian people and the illegal British occupation of Palestine, the notorious Anglo-Persian Agreement of Aug 19, 1919 was also signed, with London effectively turning Iran into a de facto protectorate run by British “advisors”. Britain had succeeded in becoming the masters of Iran’s natural resources through this agreement.

Iran received almost nothing in return, not even oil from APOC for domestic consumption, but rather had to import it from the Soviet Union!

On Nov 28th 1932 Reza Shah announced that he would be cancelling the British concession to APOC. The British Navy was heavily dependent on cheap Iranian oil and thus Britain refused to acquiesce. A compromise was reached in 1933 through bilateral negotiations and the British managed to extend their concession up until 1993! Iran had succeeded in getting the British to pay a higher price but it still did not control its own oil.

The American Relationship

Despite claiming a neutral stance for Iran during WWII, word had gotten out that Reza Shah was apparently sympathetic to the cause of Hitler. The argument was thus used that a pro-German Iran could become a launching pad for an attack against the Soviet Union, justifying British and Soviet entry into the country on Aug 25th 1941 for what would be a several years’ occupation. On Sept 16th Reza was forced by the British to abdicate and go into exile transferring power to his 22 year old son, Mohammad Reza Shah.

Mohammad Reza Shah was not happy with the joint occupation and sought an American military presence as a mediator to British and Soviet interests. The Shah sent a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Aug 25th 1941 asking him to:

“be good enough to interest yourself in this incident…I beg Your Excellency to take efficacious and urgent humanitarian steps to put an end to these acts of aggression.”

In response to this plea, Roosevelt sent Gen. Patrick Hurley as his special representative to Iran to help prepare what was to become the Iran Declaration, finally adopted at the Tehran Conference where Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill would agree to guarantee the territorial integrity and national sovereignty of Iran.

The Iran Declaration was used to finally end the foreign occupation of Iran after WWII, despite some resistance, and would play a crucial role in Iran’s future fight for sovereignty. The Iran Declaration thus proved itself to be more than just words, and this would certainly never have happened if not for FDR.

As part of Hurley’s report to FDR, he wrote some biting words on the present system of British imperialism, “The imperialism of Germany, Japan, Italy, France… will, we hope, end or be radically revised by this war [WWII]. British imperialism seems to have acquired a new life. . . What appears to be a new life… is the result of the infusion, into its emaciated form, of the blood of productivity and liberty from a free nation [Iran] through Lend-Lease.”

Roosevelt sent a copy of the Hurley report to Churchill with his thoughts on the matter: “The enclosed memorandum was sent to me… I rather like his general approach to the care and education of what used to be called ‘backward countries’…the point of all this is that I do not want the United States to acquire a ‘zone of influence,’ or any other nation for that matter [in Iran].”

Churchill was less than enthusiastic on the Hurley-FDR vision. He was particularly irked by Hurley’s notion that British imperialism were in conflict with democracy.

FDR died only a few months later, and with his interment, Hurley’s plans for American support for a sovereign and democratic Iran as a model for the rest of the Middle East were relegated to the dust bins of time and forgotten by much of the world.

Following WWII, nationalistic sentiments were on the rise including in the Middle East, the most notable being Iran. However, following the death of FDR the British were free to disingenuously respond to Iran’s request for better economic conditions by offering what was called the “Supplemental Agreement”, in May 1949. This entailed a better payment in royalties but still denied Iran any oversight over accounts or any other form of control over Iranian oil.

Enter Mosaddegh

In the late 1940s, a new political force emerged in Iran called the National Front led by Mohammad Mosaddegh. Their campaign was centered on the demand to nationalize the AIOC and the people of Iran were in accord, electing Mosaddegh into the Majlis (parliament) in 1949.

Mosaddegh lost no time, and quickly became the head of the Majlis Oil Committee which was tasked to study the British “Supplemental Agreement”. When it came time to put it to a vote on Nov 25th 1950, the committee delivered a resounding “no” to the British proposition.

Less than four months later, the Majlis voted on March 15th 1951 for nationalization of the AIOC, and it was renamed as the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC). Less than two months later, Mosaddegh became Prime Minister of Iran on April 28th 1951.

The British were left empty handed.

Twice the British tried to argue their case before the international community, once in May 1951 at The Hague and again in October at the UN Security Council. Both attempts were to lose to Mosaddegh’s defense. Mosaddegh had earned a Ph.D. in law from the Neuchatel Law School in Switzerland in 1914.

This was anything but a formal victory. It was to set a precedent in the international community that a country’s right to national sovereignty would be favored over Britain’s imperial “claims”, which were exposed during these two very public trials as amounting to nothing more than the threats and bribes of pirates.

At the UN Security Council, Mosaddegh responded to Britain’s imperial ambitions over Iran with these eloquent words:

“My countrymen lack the bare necessities of existence…Our greatest natural asset is oil. This should be the source of work and food for the population of Iran. Its exploitation should properly be our national industry, and the revenue from it should go to improve our conditions of life. As now organized, however, the petroleum industry has contributed practically nothing to the well-being of the people or to the technical progress or industrial development of my country…if we are to tolerate a situation in which the Iranian plays the part of a mere manual worker in the oil fields…and if foreign exploiters continue to appropriate practically all of the income, then our people will remain forever in a state of poverty and misery. These are the reasons that have prompted the Iranian parliament… to vote unanimously in favor of nationalizing the oil industry.”

A British coup

The British were fuming over Mosaddegh’s high profile humiliation of the British Empire’s claim to Iran’s oil. Mosaddegh would have to be deposed, however, this could not look like a British retaliation.

During Averell Harrimann’s visit to Tehran in July 1951, in an attempt to salvage the broken British-Iranian relationship, Mosaddegh is reported to have said,

“You do not know how crafty they are. You do not know how evil they are. You do not know how they sully everything they touch.”

As coup rumours circulated and reports were rife of British contact being sought with Iranian military officers, Mosaddegh severed diplomatic relations with the UK on Oct 16th 1952. The British were further humiliated and had to leave the country taking their agents with them.

It was at this point that Churchill “invited” his lap dog, de facto president Truman, to participate in his vision for regime change in Iran. In November 1952, NSC 136 and 136/I were written into record, Truman had agreed to promote direct intervention in Iran through covert operations and even military force. A detailed plan was approved on Jan 8th 1953 which was 12 days before Eisenhower was inaugurated.

The management of this covert operation was under the treasonous Dulles brothers, who would use the very same technique when JFK first entered office in setting him up with the Bay of Pigs fiasco, however, JFK managed to publicly expose Allan Dulles in this scheme and fired him. Dulles had been the Director of the CIA for 8 years up until that point, and was Deputy Director of the CIA for two years prior. Refer to my paper on this for further details.

A preliminary meeting in Washington saw representatives of the Near East and Africa Division (NEA) with British Intelligence. The key personalities were Christopher Montague Woodhouse who had been station chief for British Intelligence in Tehran and on the American side Kermit Roosevelt (son of Teddy Roosevelt) acting as NEA Division Chief. It was the British who would propose a joint political action to remove Prime Minister Mosaddegh according to CIA documents, which were in part leaked by the New York Times on April 16th 2000. The final plan was codenamed TPAJAX.

Appendix B, aka “London Draft of the TPAJAX Operational Plan” was black propaganda aimed at hammering out these themes 1) Mosaddegh favors the Tudeh Party and the USSR 2) Mosaddegh is an enemy of Islam since he associates with Tudeh.

The aim of such tactics was to drive a wedge between Mosaddegh and his National Front on the one side and his clerical allies, especially Kashani on the other. Demonstrations against Mosaddegh in the streets were to provide the pretext for bought MPs to hold a vote against him, if he refused to step down the plan was to have Fazlollah Zahedi, leader of the opposition, to arrest him. Zahedi, as laid out in Appendix B was selected by the British to replace Mosaddegh as Prime Minister after the coup.

Chief of Staff Gen. Taghi Riahi found out about the coup plans and alerted Mosaddegh in time. When the chief of the Imperial Guards, Col. Nasiri went to Mosaddegh’s house the evening before the planned coup day (Aug 16th) to arrest him, Nasiri himself was taken as prisoner by the pro- Mosaddegh military. Zahedi managed to flee.

The coup attempt had failed and the word spread fast, crowds flooded the streets supporting Mosaddegh and denouncing the Shah. The Shah left the country quickly.

The CIA informed of the fiasco alerted Kermit Roosevelt that he should leave Iran immediately. But Kermit believed the coup could still work and would make a second attempt three days later. British Intelligence and CIA orchestrated demonstrations set to the streets on Aug 19th. The royal decrees signed by the Shah for the deposal of Mosaddegh to be replaced by Zahedi were made public in the press that very day with the radio news announcing: that Zahedi was Prime Minister, that Mosaddegh had been ousted and that the Shah would return soon.

Military units were dispatched to Mosaddegh’s home. As his house was being destroyed by gunfire and tanks, Mosaddegh managed to escape. It is said he later turned himself in to the authorities.

After a ten-week period in a military prison, Mosaddegh was tried on charges of treason, because he had allegedly mobilized for a rebellion and had contradicted the Shah. In fact, the accused treason was a nationalistic response to a foreign led coup.

Mosaddegh was promptly found guilty and sentenced to death, later lessened to three years in prison, followed by house arrest.

Mosaddegh’s response to the kangaroo court proceedings was,

“My only crime is that I nationalized the oil industry and removed from this land the network of colonialism and the political and economic influence of the greatest empire [the British Empire] on Earth.”

Members of his government were also arrested, as were the leading military who remained loyal to him. Six hundred of the 6, 000 of these men were executed.

Even after Mosaddegh had passed away, on March 5th, 1967, his enemies were fearful of his influence. Mosaddegh had requested that upon his death, he be buried in the public graveyard beside the victims of the political violence that occurred on the 21st July 1952 from British-backed Ahmad Qavam who ordered soldiers to shoot at Mosaddegh nationalists during a demonstration, resulting in a blood bath. Not wanting his grave to become the site of political manifestations, a public funeral for Mosaddegh was denied and his body was quietly buried underneath the floorboards of a room in his house.

RIPPLE EFFECTS: GREECE AND TURKEY OPEN NEW NORTHERN FRONT ON LIBYAN CONFLICT

Source

 25.07.2020 

Ripple Effects: Greece And Turkey Open New Northern Front On Libyan Conflict

Greece’s navy has declared a state of heightened alert and deployed ships to the Aegean Sea in response to a Turkish vessel conducting seismic surveys for energy exploration purposes close to a disputed maritime area.

On Tuesday the Greek foreign ministry issued a formal protest to Turkey following the announcement that a Turkish drilling ship would conduct explorations in the maritime area south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo in the south eastern Aegean. The foreign ministry also released a statement:

We call on Turkey to immediately cease its illegal activities, which violate our sovereign rights and undermine peace and security in the region.”

Following Turkey’s rejection of the protest, the Greek Navy has sent ships to patrol in the area.

“Navy units have been deployed since yesterday in the south and southeastern Aegean,” a navy source told AFP, declining to give further details.

Athens has stated that Turkish surveys in sections of the Greek continental shelf constitute an escalation of the tension in the region where the two countries dispute the boundary of their respective maritime areas. LINK

Experts cited in media reports have interpreted Turkey’s conduct as designed to test Greece’s determination to defend its interests in the eastern Mediterranean region, and believe that the Turkish leadership’s moves may also be linked to the Libyan conflict. According to this interpretation of the latest developments, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan apparently seeks to “test” the reaction of his opponents. LINK

A report in Xinhua suggests that Greece’s response is to draw even closer to Egypt. Greece and Egypt have been holding negotiations over the demarcation of an exclusive economic zone in the eastern Mediterranean, however the boundaries of the area they are discussing overlaps with the area which was subject to a maritime agreement signed by Turkey and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord in Libya late last year (the two parties also signed a military agreement pursuant to which Turkey has sent thousands of fighters and a large amount of weapons and supplies to the Government of National Accord).

Ripple Effects: Greece And Turkey Open New Northern Front On Libyan Conflict

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi received a phone call from Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday, during which they discussed regional issues, with a focus on the Libyan crisis.

According to the Xinhua report, Sisi expressed Egypt’s opposition to “illegitimate foreign intervention” in Libyan domestic affairs, citing that they would further exacerbate the security conditions in Libya in a way that affects the stability of the entire region, said Egyptian presidential spokesman Bassam Rady in a statement.

For his part, the Greek prime minister also voiced rejection of foreign interference in Libya, while highlighting the political course as a key solution for the Libyan issue.

He hailed Egypt’s “sincere efforts” that seek a peaceful settlement to the Libyan crisis, according to the statement.

Over the past few years, the Egyptian-Greek ties have been growing closer, with their growing enmity with Turkey also resulting in them developing a similar position on Libya. The talks between Sisi and Mitsotakis took place just a few days after the Egyptian parliament approved a possible troop deployment in Libya to defend Egypt’s western borders with the war-torn country. LINK

A perceptive analysis of the emerging Turkey-Libya (Tripoli) relations published last month remains just as salient to describe the situation today:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gambled big in Libya and won big – so far. This victory portends important changes in the politics of the Mediterranean, for Turkey has succeeded not only in demonstrating its determination to become the dominant player in the Eastern Mediterranean, but also in showcasing its military prowess and wherewithal. The latter might precipitate a deeper conflict and crisis in the region, extending north toward Greece.

Erdogan threw his support behind the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) against General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which had besieged the GNA’s capital, Tripoli. Haftar suffered a humiliating defeat as Turkish drones, troops, navy vessels and some 10,000 Syrian fighters transported by Ankara to Libya stopped him in his tracks and then forced him to abandon bases and territory. A last-minute call for a ceasefire by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was rejected by the victorious GNA, which has set its aims at capturing other towns, including the critical port city of Sirte.

Indirectly, this was also a defeat for the countries that had backed Haftar: Egypt, the UAE and Russia. The UAE had contributed military equipment and the Russians non-state mercenary forces.

Turkey’s Libya expedition has to be seen from two perspectives. First, the GNA concluded a deal with Ankara that delineated their respective Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) in such a way that it divides the Mediterranean Sea into two sections. Turkey’s purpose is to hinder efforts by Egypt, Cyprus, Israel and Greece to export natural gas, either through a pipeline or on LNG vessels, to Europe. Turkey has aggressively interfered with efforts by these to drill for gas. Ankara claims that most of the waters around Cyprus actually belong to Turkey or to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a country recognized only by Turkey.

However, more important than simply preventing Eastern Mediterranean gas exports is the underlying strategy driving this push against Haftar. From the moment he assumed power in 2003, Erdogan has striven to elevate Turkey’s international role to that of a regional, if not global, power. Initially, his strategy was one of “zero problems with neighbors,” which served to emphasize Turkey’s soft power. The primary driver, however, was the desire for Turkey to assume a hegemonic position over the Middle East. This policy foundered and was essentially buried by the Arab Spring.

What has replaced it is a more aggressive and militarized posture that takes the fight to perceived enemies. That could mean anyone and everyone, since Turks tend to see most countries as a threat, even if they are allies. LINK

While Turkey has bet big and won big so far, it appears that the period of relatively easy victories is over and its aggressive moves are going to face more resistance in future. As Turkey continues to shows no sign of moderating its expansionist claims and manoeuvres, the region is now moving irrevocably towards a catastrophic military clash as Turkey and Egypt have drawn incompatible ‘red lines’ in Libya, with the coastal town of Sirte likely to be the detonator (or possibly the Jufra airbase to the south).

An international agreement promoted by the UN in 2014-2015 established an executive body and a legislative body to govern Libya and pave the way for a more permanent arrangement. However, fundamental disagreements between the two quasi-State organizations resulted in a complete split, with the executive arm becoming the ‘UN-backed’ Government of National Accord based in Tripoli and the House of Representatives relocating to Tobruk (thus the legislative arm is also ‘UN-backed’, though this detail is usually omitted from mainstream media reports).

Turkey has allied itself with the Government of National Accord (GNA), Egypt has allied itself with the House of Representatives (and its armed forces, the Libyan National Army – the LNA – headed by Khalifa Haftar). More generally, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia are invariably reported as supporting the LNA, while the GNA is mainly backed by Turkey and Qatar.

Following the drastic changes on the battlefield over the last two months as the GNA swept the LNA from its positions around Tripoli following a failed attempt to capture the Libyan capital, both Turkey and Egypt have committed themselves to positions that are in direct conflict, indicating that a major armed clash is inevitable unless there is a major diplomatic breakthrough or one of the two sides accepts a humiliating backdown.

Specifically, Turkey and the Government of National Accord are demanding that the Libyan National Army (which recently gave Egypt permission to send its armed forces into Libya) withdraw from the two areas (Sirte and Jufra) and have expressed their determination to take the areas by force if necessary. The Libyan National Army and Egypt have stated that any attempt to capture the two areas will result in Egypt entering Libya in force, which would result in a direct confrontation between Turkey and Egypt. While Egypt has the advantage of sharing a long land border with Libya, in the event of a major conflict air and maritime power could be decisive.

MORE ON THE TOPIC:

Time is Not on Our Side in Libya

Photograph Source: Abdul-Jawad Elhusuni – CC BY-SA 3.0

by VIJAY PRASHAD

JULY 22, 2020

Ahmed, who lives in Tripoli, Libya, texts me that the city is quieter than before. The army of General Khalifa Haftar—who controls large parts of eastern Libya—has withdrawn from the southern part of the capital and is now holding fast in the city of Sirte and at the airbase of Jufra. Most of Libya’s population lives along the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, which is where the cities of Tripoli, Sirte, Benghazi, and Tobruk are located.

Haftar, who was once an intimate of the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), is now prosecuting a seemingly endless and brutal war against the United Nation’s recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli and led by President Fayez al-Sarraj. To make matters more confusing, Haftar takes his legitimacy from another government, which is based in Tobruk, and is formed out of the House of Representatives (HOR).

Ahmed says that the quiet is deceitful. Militias continue to patrol the streets along the Salah al-Din Road near where he lives; the rattle of gunfire is anticipated.

On July 8, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres made a statement that could have been delivered at any point over the last decade. “Time is not on our side in Libya,” he announced. He laid out a range of problems facing the country, including the military conflict, the political stalemate between the GNA and the HOR, the numbers of internally-displaced people (400,000 out of 7 million), the continued attempts of migrants to cross the Mediterranean Sea, the threat from COVID-19, and the “unprecedented levels” of “foreign interference.”

The UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution to send a Fact-Finding Mission to Libya to investigate human rights violations in this war, including the mass graves found in Tarhouna. The credibility of the Council is in doubt. An earlier Commission of Inquiry on Libya set up in 2012 to study war crimes in 2011-2012 was shut down largely because the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) refused to cooperate with the investigation. A second inquiry, set up in March 2015, closed its work in January 2016 with the political deal that created the Government of National Accord.

Guterres did not mention the NATO war in 2011. I am told that he wants to appoint a joint Special Representative with the African Union and he would like a full review of the UN mission. All that is well and good; but it is short of what is necessary: an honest look at the NATO war that broke the country, fomenting a conflict that seems without end.

Foreign Interference

Statements about Libya drip with evasion. These terms—“foreign interference” and “foreign-backed efforts”—are dropped into conversations and official statements without any clarification. But everyone knows what is going on.

I ask Rida, who lives in Benghazi (now under the control of General Haftar), what she makes of these phrases. “We all know what is going on,” she tells me via text. “The government in Tripoli is backed by Turkey and others; while Haftar is backed by Egypt and others,” she writes.

At the core, she says, this is a dispute between two regional powers (Turkey and Egypt) as well as a contest between the Muslim Brotherhood (Turkey) and its adversaries (Egypt and the United Arab Emirates). Wrapped up in all this are contracts for offshore drilling in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, which additionally involved Cyprus and Greece.

It is not enough that this is a regional conflict. There is accumulating evidence that General Haftar is being supported by armed mercenaries (from Russia and Sudan) and by arms shipments from France, while the United States seems to have hedged its bets with support to both sides in the conflict.

Last year, General Haftar’s forces moved swiftly toward Tripoli, but were eventually rebuffed by the intervention of Turkey (which provided the Tripoli government with military aid as well as Syrian and Turkish mercenaries).

In late December, Turkey formally signed a military and security agreement with the Tripoli-based GNA, which enabled Turkey to transfer military hardware. This agreement broke the terms of the UN resolution 2292 (2016), recently reaffirmed in UN resolution 2526 (2020). Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have openly been supplying Haftar.

Now, the forces of the Tripoli government have moved to the central coastline city of Sirte, which has emerged as the key hotspot in this contest.

The Tobruk government, which backs General Haftar, and a pro-Haftar tribes council urged Egypt’s General Abdul Fatah El Sisi to intervene with the full force of the Egyptian armed forces if Sirte falls to the Turkish-backed government. Egypt’s military drill—called Hasm 2020—came alongside the Turkish navy’s announcement of maneuvers off the Libyan coast—called Navtex.

This is a most dangerous situation, a war of words escalating between Turkey and Egypt; Egypt has now moved military hardware to its border with Libya.

Oil

Of course, oil is a major part of the equation. Libya has at least 46 billion barrels of sweet crude oil; this oil is highly valued for Europe because of the low costs to extract and transport it. Countries like the UAE, which are pushing the embargo of Libyan oil, benefit from the withdrawal of Libya, Iranian, and Venezuelan oil from already suppressed world oil markets. Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) has stopped oil exports since January; from about 1.10 million barrels per day, Libyan oil production fell to nearly 70,000 barrels per day.

Neither Haftar nor the Government of National Accord in Tripoli can agree on the export of oil from the country. Oil has not left the country for the better part of the past six months, with a loss—according to the NOC—of about US$6.74 billion. General Haftar controls major oil ports in the east, including Es Sider, and several key oil fields, including Sharara.

Neither side wants the other to profit from oil sales. The United Nations has intervened to try and resolve the differences, but so far there has been limited progress. The entire conflict rests on the belief that either side has that it could win a military victory and therefore take the entire spoils; no one is willing to compromise, since any such agreement would mean a de jure partition of the country into its eastern and western halves with the oil crescent divided between the two.

Demilitarized Zone

UN Secretary-General Guterres has surrendered to reality. In his recent statement on Libya, he listed a series of “de-escalation efforts, including the creation of a possible demilitarized zone”; this “demilitarization zone” would likely be drawn somewhere near Sirte. It would effectively divide Libya into two parts.

Neither Ahmed nor Rida would like their country to be partitioned, its oil then siphoned off to Europe, and its wealth stolen by oligarchs on either side. They had misgivings about Muammar Qaddafi’s government in early 2011; but now both regret the war that has ripped their country to shreds.Join the debate on FacebookMore articles by:VIJAY PRASHAD

Vijay Prashad’s most recent book is No Free Left: The Futures of Indian Communism (New Delhi: LeftWord Books, 2015).

أفول عصر البترودولار… وتأثيره على دور مملكة آل سعود

حسن حردان

انها ساعة الحقيقة التي لم يتوقع حكام آل سعود مواجهتها.. وهي وقوع مملكتهم في العجز الكبير، واللجوء إلى الاستدانة لتأمين نفقاتهم الأساسية، بعد أن انهارت أسعار النفط على نحو كبير، والمتزامن مع الجمود الاقتصادي وتوقف موسمي الحج والعمرة هذا العام بسبب انتشار فايروس كورونا، وهو طبعاً ما يفقد الرياض مصادر دخلها الأساسية، دفعة واحدة، والتي كانت توفر لها قدرة الاستمرار في الإنفاق على…

أولاً، حياة البذخ والترف التي يعيش فيها أمراء العائلة الحاكمة، التي تعتبر الثروة النفطية في الجزيرة العربية ملكاً لها، ولهذا تحوز على نسبة من عائدات بيع النفط تؤمّن لها العيش برفاهية وترف…

ثانياً، شراء السلاح من الولايات المتحدة الأميركية والدول الغربية، والتي قدّرت حتى الآن بمئات مليارات الدولارات، وقد شهدت في السنوات الأخيرة ازدهاراً غير مسبوق أدّى إلى إنعاش معامل صناعة السلاح في الدول الغربية، وحلّ جزء من أزماتها الاقتصادية والاجتماعية النابعة من تراجع معدلات النمو فيها وتزايد نسب البطالة.. وهو ما تجسّد أيضاً في حصول ترامب من ولي العهد السعودي على أكثر من 500 مليار دولار، في أكبر عملية استيلاء على فائض عائدات النفط، تحت عنوان استثمارات في الولايات المتحدة.. الأمر الذي تباهى به ترامب في مواجهة معارضيه في الداخل…

ثالثاً، تمويل كلفة الحرب الوحشية المدمّرة التي تشنها الحكومة السعودية على اليمن منذ اكثر من خمس سنوات، وتجاوزت مئات المليارات من الدولارات.. ويرى الخبراء الاقتصاديين انّ الكلفة، التي لا تزال غير محدّدة، ستكون آثارها كبيرة على الاقتصاد والمجتمع في المملكة، وهي تتجاوز كلفة الغزو والاحتلال الأميركي للعراق، لأنّ الحرب ضدّ اليمن لم تتوقف منذ اليوم الأول لبدئها وحتى اليوم، وهي لا تزال مستمرة، لأنّ الرياض فشلت في السيطرة على اليمن والقضاء على مقاومة الشعب العربي اليمني، التي نجحت في نقل الحرب الي العمق السعودي وزيادة استنزاف المملكة.. عبر ضرب المنشآت الحيوية لشركة أرامكو..

رابعاً، دعم الأنظمة العربية والاسلامية لقاء الحصول على تأييد هذه الدول لمواقف وسياسات المملكة في الجامعة العربية ومنظمة التعاون الإسلامي واستطراداً شراء صمت هذه الدول إزاء المجازر الوحشية التي ارتكبتها الحكومة السعودية، ولا تزال، في اليمن…

خامساً، تمويل الجماعات الإرهابية والجمعيات والمعاهد الدينية في العالم، التي تتبع المنهج الوهابي التكفيري، وكذلك تمويل حروب هذه المنظمات الإرهابية في سورية والعراق وليبيا واليمن إلخ… بما يخدم السياسات والمخططات الاستعمارية الأميركية الغربية الصهيونية من القضاء على محور وقوى المقاومة والتحرّر، وإعادة صياغة خارطة المنطقة بما يكرّس السيطرة والهيمنة الاستعمارية عليها، ويمكن كيان العدو الصهيوني الاستعماري الاستيطاني من تحقيق هدفه في تصفية قضية فلسطين وإعلان الدولة اليهودية العنصرية وانتزاع الاعتراف بها عربياً وإسلامياً ودولياً..

سادساً، تمويل مشاريع التآمر ضدّ الأنظمة التقدمية المعادية للاستعمار الغربي والاحتلال الصهيوني، بدءا بالتآمر ضدّ النظام الناصري التحرري بقيادة الرئيس الراحل جمال عبد الناصر، ومروراً بدعم الحرب ضدّ الثورة الإسلامية التحررية في إيران، وانتهاء بتمويل الحرب الإرهابية لتدمير سورية وإسقاط رئيسها المقاوم بشار الأسد…

سابعاً، دعم جماعات وعصابات المرتزقة الذين تجنّدهم الاستخبارات الأميركية لتقويض استقرار الأنظمة التحررية في أميركا اللاتينية وأفريقيا..وتجنيد وتمويل ما اسمي لاحقاً تنظيم القاعدة لقتال الجيش السوفياتي في أفغانستان وإسقاط حلفه نظام نجيب الله لمصلحة الولايات المتحدة في سياق الحرب الباردة مما سرع في انهيار وتفكك الاتحاد السوفياتي وخروج أميركا منتصرة في هذه الحرب..

ثامناً، شراء وسائل إعلامية والإنفاق على وسائل إعلامية أخرى، إلى جانب شراء ضمائر كتاب وصحافيين بغرض الترويج للسياسات الاستعمارية الصهيونية الرجعية وغسل عقل المواطن العربي وجعله يرضخ ويستسلم للأمر الواقع الأميركي الغربي الصهيوني..

تاسعاً، دعم أحزاب وقوى سياسية عربية وإسلامية في العديد من الدول العربية، لا سيما في لبنان، لأجل تعزيز دور المملكة في داخل هذه الدول والتأثير على قراراتها وسياساتها ومنع تحررها من فلك الهيمنة الأميركية الغربية الرجعية..

انّ هذا الإنفاق الضخم على كلّ هذه المجالات هو الذي مكن المملكة السعودية من لعب دور عربي وإقليمي كبير والتأثير في مجرى سياسات الوطن العربي والعالم الإسلامي خدمة للسياسات الأميركية، ولهذا أسميت مرحلة الفورة النفطية وتعاظم عائدات النفط بمرحلة البترودولار التي ازدهر فيها دور المملكة وجعلها تحوز على دور سياسي عربي واقليمي وحتى دولي.. ومن الطبيعي ان يقود انتهاء عصر البترودولار إلى إضعاف دور المملكة المذكور، والى تراجع تأثيرها في سياسات العديد من الدول.. وان يؤدّي ذلك لأن تفقد قوى سياسية ووسائل إعلامية مصدر تمويلها، وبالتالي تخسر جزءاً كبيراً من تأثيرها.. وهو ما بدأت تظهر مؤشراته في لبنان، وينعكس على مواقف وحسابات بعض القوى السياسية في قوى ١٤ آذار، من حكومة الرئيس حسان دياب والعهد.. ولا شك في انه، عاجلاً ام آجلاً، سوف يكون لهذا التراجع الكبير في القدرات المالية للمملكة تأثيره على مسار الحرب في اليمن، قد يدفع الحكومة السعودية مكرهة إلى قبول وقف الحرب ورفع الحصار عن اليمن وسلوك طريق الحل السياسي.. فالمملكة اليوم لم تعد قادرة على تأمين نفقاتها الأساسية الداخلية وهي مضطرة إلى الاستدانة لتأمين العجز الكبير في موازنتها، فكيف تستطيع والحال هذه الاستمرار في تحمّل كلفة إنفاق باهظة على الحرب في اليمن.. كما أنّ الدول الغربية سوف تتضرّر من تراجع القدرات المالية للمملكة بنفس القدر الذي كانت فيه المملكة تخدم مصالح الغرب وسياساته في المنطقة التي ترتكز على نهب ثروات العرب وامتصاص عائدات النفط ودعم وحماية الكيان الصهيوني باعتباره القاعدة المتقدّمة للغرب في قلب المنطقة.. انطلاقاً مما تقدم فإنّ ضعف القدرات المالية للحكومة السعودية إنما يصبّ في مصلحة جبهة المقاومة وقوى التحرر في الوطن العربي والدول الإسلامية والعالم..

The 2020 Oil Crash’s Unlikely Winner: Saudi Arabia

Source
 2020-05-06

It’s a year of carnage for oil nations. But at least one will emerge from the pandemic both economically and geopolitically stronger. 

With 4 billion people around the world under lockdown as the coronavirus pandemic grows, demand for gasoline, jet fuel, and other petroleum products is in freefall, as are oil prices. The price of a barrel of crude has been so low in the United States that sellers recently had to pay people to take it off their hands. As a result, oil-dependent economies are reeling. In the United States, the largest oil producer in the world, the number of rigs drilling for oil has plummeted 50 percent in just two months, almost 40 percent of oil and gas producers could be insolvent within the year, and 220,000 oil workers are projected to lose their jobs. Around the world, petrostates from Nigeria to Iraq to Kazakhstan are struggling and their currencies tanking. Some, like Venezuela, face an economic and social abyss.

While 2020 will be remembered as a year of carnage for oil nations, however, at least one will most likely emerge from the pandemic stronger, both economically and geopolitically: Saudi Arabia.

First, Saudi Arabia is proving that its finances can weather a storm such as this.
 

 Low oil prices are, of course, painful for a country that needs around $80 per barrel to balance its public budget, which is why Moody’s cut Saudi Arabia’s financial outlook last Friday. Saudi Arabia ran a $9 billion deficit in the first quarter of 2020. Like other nations, the kingdom has also seen tax revenues fall as it imposes economic restrictions to halt the pandemic’s spread. Last week, the Saudi finance minister said that government spending would need to be “cut deeply” and some parts of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic diversification plan would be delayed.
 

Yet unlike most other oil producers, Saudi Arabia has not only plump fiscal reserves but also the demonstrated capacity to borrow. On April 22, the finance minister announced the kingdom could borrow as much as $58 billion in 2020. Compared to most other economies, it has a relatively low debt-to-GDP ratio: 24 percent as of the end of 2019, although lately that figure has been rising. The finance minister also said Saudi Arabia would draw down up to $32 billion from its fiscal reserves. With $474 billion held by the central bank in foreign exchange reserves, Saudi Arabia remains comfortably above the level of around $300 billion, which many consider the minimum to defend its currency, the riyal, which is pegged to the dollar.
 

Second, Saudi Arabia will end up with higher oil revenues and a bigger share of the oil market once the market stabilizes, thanks to production cuts and shutdowns forced by the global economic collapse. The current oil bust lays the groundwork for a price boom in the years ahead—and burgeoning revenues for Saudi Arabia. While the outlook for future oil demand is highly uncertain, once you look beyond the immediate crisis, demand is likely to grow faster than supply.
 

The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects world oil demand to return to its pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2020. The International Energy Agency is almost as optimistic, projecting demand to be only 2 to 3 percent below its 2019 average of 100 million barrels per day by the end of the year. If measures to contain the pathogen last longer than expected or there is a second wave of the virus, the recovery will take longer, but most scenarios still expect demand to eventually recover.
 

Lifestyle changes could lower future oil demand, but the data suggests one should be skeptical of predictions of permanent shifts. In China, for example, car travel and shipping by truck is already nearly back to last year’s level, although air travel—which together with air freight accounts for 8 percent of world oil demand—remains down sharply. Oil demand could actually get a boost if more people decide private cars make them feel safer than crowded mass transit. Expectations that oil demand would be throttled by climate policy will likely be disappointed. The economic distress imposed by the pandemic risks undermining environmental policy ambition, as does the current shift to isolationism and away from the kind of global cooperation required for effective climate policy.
 

Oil supply, by contrast, will take longer to return as shut-in production is lost, investment in new supply is scrapped, and the U.S. shale revolution slows. With the oil glut pushing global oil storage to the limits—land-based storage will be full as soon as this month—an unprecedented number of producing oil wells will need to be shut off. Doing so risks damaging the reservoirs. Some of that supply will never come back, and some will take substantial time and investment to bring back online. Energy Aspects, an oil consultancy, projects 4 million barrels per day of supply could be at risk of semipermanent damage.
 

Major oil companies such as Chevron and Exxon Mobil have also slashed their capital expenditures in response to the price collapse. Even without any growth in oil demand, around 6 million barrels per day of new oil supply must be brought online each year just to offset natural production declines. Moreover, oil is already out of favor with investors concerned with the industry’s poor returns and rising political and social pressures.
 

U.S. shale oil, in particular, will take years to return to its pre-coronavirus levels. Depending on how long oil demand remains depressed, U.S. oil production is projected to decline by 30 percent from its pre-coronavirus peak of around 13 million barrels per day. To be sure, recovering oil prices will raise U.S. production again. Shale oil production remains economical, especially for the better-capitalized companies that will emerge once the assets of bankrupt companies change hands and the industry is consolidated.
 

Yet shale’s heady growth in recent years (with production growing by about 1 million to 1.5 million barrels per day each year) also reflected irrational exuberance in financial markets: Many U.S. companies struggling with uneconomical production only managed to stay afloat with infusions of cheap debt. One-quarter of U.S. shale oil production may have been uneconomical even before prices crashed, according to Citigroup’s Ed Morse. Without that froth, shale will grow more slowly, if at all. Former Goldman Sachs analyst Arjun Murti estimates that even with U.S. oil prices recovering to around $50 per barrel, annual U.S. output growth will be somewhere between zero and 500,000 barrels per day, a shadow of its former self.

Even if the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Russia make a historic show of cooperation, any respite for the oil industry will be short-lived.
 

The oil price collapse has sent shockwaves through financial markets. But the geopolitical earthquake could reach even farther.
 

Indeed, as COVID-19 sets the stage for tighter oil markets and higher prices, Saudi Arabia, along with a few other Gulf states and Russia, will not only benefit from higher prices but actually find opportunities to grow market share and sell more oil. Even now, with prices severely depressed, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are discussing bringing more oil to market from a jointly held field straddling their border. More economically vulnerable OPEC members may find it harder to invest in restarting and maintaining (let alone increasing) supply and will thus see output growth slow. This is exactly what happened in Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, and Venezuela following the 1998-1999 oil crash.
 

Finally, by shoring up its fraying alliance with the United States and reestablishing itself as the global oil market’s swing producer, Saudi Arabia has strengthened its geopolitical position. As the major producers and consumers scrambled to prevent the oversupply of oil from overwhelming the world’s storage facilities, they finally turned to Saudi Arabia to lead OPEC and other key producers in a historic production cut. For all the talk of oil production quotas in Texas or creating a new global oil cartel through the G-20, calling Riyadh was the only real option available to policymakers at the end of the day—as it has long been. That is because Saudi Arabia has long been the only country willing to hold, at significant cost, a meaningful amount of spare production capacity that allows it to add or subtract supply to or from the market quickly. This singular position—which it just made plain once again to the world—gives the kingdom not only power over the global oil market but also significant geopolitical influence. In a global market, that will remain true until nations use much less oil, which continues to be an important goal of climate policy.
 

By leading the effort to craft an OPEC+ production cut, Saudi Arabia also reminded Moscow that Russia cannot go it alone, as it attempted to do when it walked out of OPEC+ negotiations in March and set off the price war. Moscow is more dependent on Riyadh in managing the oil market than vice versa, strengthening Saudi Arabia’s hand in their relationship—with likely repercussions in the Middle East, where Moscow has a growing military presence and cultivates allies including Syria and the Saudis’ archenemy, Iran.
 

Additionally, Saudi Arabia has improved its standing in Washington. Following intense pressure from the White House and powerful senators, Saudi Arabia’s willingness to oblige by cutting production will reverse some of the damage done when Saudi Arabia was blamed for the oil crash after it surged production in March. Saudi Arabia may also have undermined U.S. lawmakers’ plans for anti-OPEC legislation—it’s difficult to argue OPEC is a harmful cartel when both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue just begged it to act like one. U.S. vitriol will flare up again in the coming weeks, when a flotilla of Saudi tankers sent off during the price war two months ago will dump triple the normal level of deliveries onto an already saturated U.S. market. But this only means that U.S. politicians will once again have to beseech Riyadh to extend or deepen supply cuts at the next OPEC+ meeting in June.
 

Only a few weeks ago, the outlook for Saudi Arabia seemed bleak. But looking out a few years, it’s difficult to see the kingdom in anything other than a strengthened position. COVID-19 may end up doing what Saudi leaders failed to do once before, when they let oil prices crash in late 2014 in a misguided attempt to debilitate U.S. shale. Beyond the immediate crisis, the pandemic will end up bolstering Saudi Arabia’s geopolitical position, reinforcing its pivotal role in oil markets, and sowing the seeds for higher market share and oil revenues in the years ahead.

Source: U-feed

Trump: Live by the Oil, Die by the Oil

Source

Trump: Live by the Oil, Die by the Oil

Tom LuongoApril 23, 2020

From the very beginning I’ve been a staunch critic of President Trump’s “Energy Dominance” policy. And I was so for a myriad of reasons, but mostly because it was stupid.

Not just stupid, monumentally stupid. Breathtakingly stupid.

And I don’t say this as someone who hates Trump without reservation. In fact, I continue to hope he will wake up one day and stop being the Donald Trump I know and be the Donald Trump he needs to be.

I don’t have Trump Derangement Syndrome of any sort. Neither MAGApede nor Q-Tard, an Orange Man Bad cultist or NPC Soy Boy, I see Trump for what he is – a well-intentioned, if miseducated man with severe personal deficiencies which manifest themselves in occasionally brilliant but mostly disastrous behavior.

Energy Dominance was always a misguided and Quixotic endeavor. Why? Because Trump could never turn financial engineering a shale boom into a sustainable advantage over lower-cost producers like Russia and the OPEC nations.

The policy of blasting open the U.S. oil spigots to produce a production boom built on an endless supply of near-zero cost credit was always going to run into a wall of oversupply and not enough demand.

The dramatic collapse of U.S. oil prices in the futures markets which saw the May contract close on April 20th at $-40.57 per barrel is the Shale Miracle hitting the fan of low demand and leaving the producers and consumers in a state which can only happen thanks to biblical levels of government intervention.

A broken market.

The next morning, ever needing to look like the good guy, Trump tweets out:Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

We will never let the great U.S. Oil & Gas Industry down. I have instructed the Secretary of Energy and Secretary of the Treasury to formulate a plan which will make funds available so that these very important companies and jobs will be secured long into the future!163KTwitter Ads info and privacy56.6K people are talking about this

It’s clear from this statement that Trump is ready to throw more trillions at the oil industry to keep it and the millions of jobs from disappearing as he does what he always does when confronted with a real problem, doubles down on the behavior that caused it in the first place.

Politicians, even the best ones, are ultimately vandals. They have no other tool than to reallocate scarce capital towards their ends rather than that demanded by the market.

And the main reason why Trump was never going to win the Energy Dominance War he started was because the world doesn’t want the type and kind of oil the U.S. produces at the quantities needed to “Win!”

Ultra-light sweet crude coming from the Bakken, Eagle Ford and Permian simply isn’t that high in demand for export. It’s of limited usage. And, in the end, if the price is right enough, offering oil for sale in ‘not-dollars’ only makes that demand curve even more elastic.

The collapse in oil prices which Trump is desperate to stop won’t simply because Trump stands there like King Canute, arms outstretched. He and his terrible energy policy stand naked now that the tide has gone out.

And the reason for this is simple. There is more to the world economy than money. Money is what makes the economy work but it, in and of itself, is incapable of creating wealth. All money does is act as a means to express our needs and desires at the moment of the trade.

Trump’s vandalizing the world’s energy markets for the past three and a half years now comes back to bite him. To prop up surging U.S. production he has:

Supported a disastrous war against the people of Yemen

Repurposed U.S. troops clinging to positions in Syria while stealing their oil

Nearly started a shooting war with Iran…. Twice.

Embargoed Venezuela, stole its money, attempted a failed coup and brought even more support to President Maduro from Russia and China.

Spent billions pointing missiles at Russia via NATO.

Supported a vicious war to prevent the secession of the Donbass.

Delayed the construction of Nordstream 2.

Sowed chaos enough to set Turkey to claiming the Eastern Mediterranean while fighting a losing war in Libya.

Started a massive trade war with China.

Spent trillions throwing the U.S. budget deficit for 2020 out beyond 20% of the U.S.’s 2019 GDP.

I could go on, but I think you get the point. None of these acts are defensible as anything other than immoral and counterproductive.

Having antagonized literally more than three-quarters of the world with this insanity, Trump will now turn his destructive gaze on the very people he purports to serve, the American people. Saving jobs through subsidies is capital destructive. It doesn’t matter who does it, Trump, Putin, Xi or FDR.

If Trump tariffs on imports it will only keep the cost of energy for Americans higher than it should be at a time when they need it to be as cheap as possible.

The incentive to improve performance by these companies, shutter expensive wells, default on debt or shift capital away from the unproductive will not happen. The healthy cleansing of bankruptcy is averted. The vultures who profited on the way up will not go bankrupt because the bust is avoided and those that were prudent waiting for this moment will not be rewarded with the reins of the means of production.

And again, we see another one-way trade for Wall St.

All Trump will do here is entrench the very powers that he thinks he’s been fighting, destroying small businesses, nationalizing, in effect, whole swaths of the U.S. economy and setting up the day when everyone else around the world shrugs when he bark.

Because the net effect has been to see the rise in more of the oil trade conducted in currencies other than the U.S. dollar. That trend will continue in a deflating price environment where the need to service dollar-denominated debt is soaking up the supply of dollars faster than the Fed can monetize the debt issued by the U.S. Treasury.

The oil trade will shift from dollars. Dollars will be used to pay off debt, the world will decouple from the dollar and all those dollars currently hoarded overseas and whose demand today will be supply tomorrow will ensure the U.S. economy suffers the worst kind of depression, one of rising commodity prices, falling asset prices and falling wages.

So, Trump will continue to be, as I put it recently, The Master of the Seen, choosing, as always, to ignore the unseen effects of propping up firms that should rightly go the way of all bad ideas, like Marxism.

The U.S. had a grenade dropped on its budget. It looks like a nuclear bomb, but that’s only because of the continued arrogance and necessity of politicians, like Trump, needing to be ‘seen’ doing something caused far more damage than it would have if they hadn’t intervened in the first place.

The adage, “never let a crisis go to waste,” is apropos here. Politicians use the cover of crisis to act. They have to be ‘seen’ acting rather than not. Trump is acutely aware of this because he truly can’t stand criticism.

A man without principles, Trump acts mostly out of his need to deflect criticism and be ‘seen’ by his base as their champion.

But no, Trump outs himself as the biggest Marxist of all time, defending the workers while robbing them of their future through the destruction of their real wealth. His policy mistakes become our real problems. And he compounded those problems by listening to the medical complex vultures about COVID-19 and now he’s trapped but everyone else will pay the price.

He is someone without the sense or the understanding that sometimes the best thing to do is admit defeat, reverse course and put down the scepter of power. But Trump doesn’t know how to do that. He doesn’t know how to actually lead.

Energy Dominance will turn into an Energy Albatross and it will weigh on Trump’s neck in his second term that will see him leave office reviled as the great destroyer of not only the U.S.’s wealth, but more importantly, its standing in the world.

«لعنة النفط» تصيب الولايات المتحدة

وليد شرارة

 الأربعاء 22 نيسان 2020

بين الأسباب الوجيهة التي تقدم عادة لتفسير «الشقاء العربي»، أي التدخلات الاستعمارية المستمرة لضرب محاولات الاستقلال والسيطرة على الموارد الوطنية الهادفة إلى إطلاق عملية تنمية حقيقية في بلدان المنطقة العربية والإسلامية، وفي الجنوب عامة، ما اصطلح على تسميته «لعنة النفط». لا يمكن الفصل بين سياسات الحرب والسيطرة الغربية، خاصة الأميركية، على المنطقة وشعوبها وتطلعاتها القومية، وبين امتلاكها مخزوناً هائلاً من هذه السلعة الاستراتيجية، بالنسبة إلى الرأسمالية الامبريالية المعاصرة، وتحولها من «نعمة» إلى «لعنة». رأت الأدبيات السياسية الأميركية السائدة والخطاب الرسمي منذ الخمسينيات الجزء النفطي من العالم العربي، أي دول الخليج والعراق، «منطقة مصالح قومية حيوية»! وبدأت تدخلاتها في الإقليم عبر مشاركة مخابراتها الحاسمة في إسقاط حكومة محمد مصدق الوطنية في إيران سنة 1953 بعد تأميم الأخيرة شركة النفط «الأنجلو-فارسية» التي أضحت اليوم شركة «بريتيش بتروليوم» المعروفة. العودة إلى هذه الوقائع ضرورية للتذكير بالطبيعة الاستعمارية لهذه السلعة «الاستراتيجية».

استندت الهيمنة الأميركية على العالم إلى ركيزتين أساسيتين: التفوق العسكري النوعي على جميع بلدانه الأخرى، وانتشار شبكة قواعد في أرجاء المعمورة، خاصة في الدول المنتجة للنفط أو في جوارها، للتحكم في الطرق والمضائق التي يتدفق من خلالها، بـ«أسعار مناسبة»، نحو المراكز الرأسمالية. بهذا المعنى، كانت الولايات المتحدة «شرطي الرأسمالية العالمية» خلال حقبة تشارف على الأفول. فالتغيرات الكبرى التي شهدتها موازين القوى الدولية، وأهمها تراجع قدرات واشنطن على السيطرة والريادة، وتخبطها خلال الجائحة الحالية آخرُ تجلياته، والصعود السريع والمستمر لـ«المنافسين غير الغربيين»، دفعت النخب الحاكمة الأميركية ودولتهم العميقة إلى اتخاذ قرار تطوير صناعة النفط الأميركية عبر الاستخراج الباهظ الكلفة للنفط الصخري. بحجة ضرورة تأمين الاكتفاء الذاتي الكامل في ميدان الطاقة، وتجنّب الاعتماد على النفط المستورد من بقاع مضطربة وخطيرة كالشرق الأوسط، وكذلك انطلاقاً من إمكانية تحول الولايات المتحدة إلى أحد أبرز المنتجين للنفط، وهي صارت أولهم سنة 2018، بررت هذه النخب قرارها الذي دخل حيز التنفيذ منذ أواسط العقد الأول من الألفية الثانية، خلال إدارة جورج بوش الابن، والتزمت به إدارتا باراك أوباما ودونالد ترامب. هذا القرار وسياقاته الجيوسياسية هما اللذان يسمحان بإدراك فعلي للخلفيات البنوية للانهيار التاريخي لأسعار النفط الأميركي، لا القراءات الاقتصادوية التي تكون غالباً ظرفية ومختزلة.
القراءة الاقتصادية الرائجة عن أسباب انهيار أسعار النفط الأميركي تربط بينه وبين تبعات جائحة كورونا على الاقتصاد العالمي، وكذلك نتائج «حرب الأسعار» بين روسيا والسعودية، والتي توقفت بعد التوصل إلى اتفاق جديد بينهما آخر الشهر الماضي. فمع تفشّي الفيروس، تراجع النشاط الاقتصادي ومعدلات الإنتاج على صعيد الكوكب بصورة كبيرة، ومعهما حركة انتقال الأشخاص داخل أو بين بلدانه، ما قاد إلى انخفاض الطلب على النفط بنسبة 30% في بضعة أسابيع، ومن ثم أسعاره. تبع هذا حرب الأسعار السعودية ــ الروسية، التي بدأت مع رفع الطرفين مستويات إنتاجهما من النفط والتنافس على تخفيض سعره إلى درجة تضخم فيها العرض في السوق العالمي على نحو غير مسبوق. تلازم هذين التطورين كان له آثار كارثية في صناعة النفط الصخري الأميركية الباهظة، التي لا تستطيع احتمال انحدار مماثل لأسعار النفط. ما زاد الأمر سوءاً لها وللصناعة النفطية الأميركية عامة هو امتلاء المخزون النفطي الاستراتيجي للبلاد بنسبة 70 إلى 80%، مع ما يترتب على ذلك من انخفاض في الطلب الداخلي.

إن تحول النفط إلى «منتج مالي» يخضع للمضاربة في البورصات، يعني في الظروف الحالية أن مضاربين اشتروا عقوداً نفطية، ولا يمتلكون قدرة على بيعها بأسعار مناسبة أو على تخزين النفط، يوافقون على بيعها بأسعار بخسة. وتقدر إدارة المعلومات عن النفط، وهي وكالة مستقلة للإحصاءات في وزارة الطاقة الأميركية، أن الولايات المتحدة ستعود مستورداً صافياً للنفط خلال هذه السنة. يعني هذا الكلام أن مشروع الاعتماد على الذات في الحقل النفطي فشل فشلاً مدوياً.

ما لا تتطرق إليه القراءة الاقتصادوية هو الدور الحاسم للعوامل السياسية والجيوسياسية في إيصال الأمور إلى ما هي عليه. يجري الحديث عن الاقتصاد العالمي كأنه فضاء منفصل عن موازين القوى والصراعات بين اللاعبين الدوليين، تحكمه اليد الخفية للسوق وقانون العرض والطلب بمعزل عن العوامل الأخرى. تقر القراءة المشار إليها بأن بين دوافع موسكو والرياض في زيادة إنتاج النفط وتخفيض أسعاره، على رغم تنازعهما، رغبة مشتركة واضحة في توجيه ضربة قوية إلى صناعة النفط الصخري الأميركية المنافسة. هل كانت روسيا مستعدة منذ عشرين سنة مثلاً لاتخاذ مثل هذا القرار في ظل اختلال موازين القوى بينها وبين الولايات المتحدة؟ لم تتوقف الأخيرة عن مساعيها لمحاصرة روسيا عبر توسيع «الناتو» شرقاً ونشر البطاريات المضادة للصواريخ في جوارها وتنظيم الثورات الملونة في هذا الجوار، من دون أن نشهد رداً روسياً مباشراً. القرار بتخفيض أسعار النفط سياسي بامتياز، وهو رد على العقوبات الأميركية المفروضة على الشركات العاملة في مشروع «أنبوب السيل الشمالي 2» بين روسيا وألمانيا. التغير المستمر في موازين القوى الدولية والفرصة التي وفرتها الجائحة وتبعاتها على أميركا جعلا ما كان مستحيلاً في الماضي ممكناً حالياً. الأمر نفسه ينطبق على السعودية، على رغم العلاقة الحميمة التي تجمع وليّ عهدها، محمد بن سلمان، بترامب وفريقه، والتي لم تكن لتتجرأ على الإقدام على خطوة تمثّل مساساً بالمصالح الأميركية منذ بضع سنوات، ها هي تقوم بذلك اليوم نتيجة إدراكها لتراجع قوة الحليف وسطوته.

صحيح أن حرب أسعار النفط توقفت بعد الاتفاق بين أطراف «أوبك+» آخر الشهر الماضي، وبعد طلب أميركي عاجل، لكن مفاعيلها المهولة على صناعة النفط الصخري قد تؤدي إلى ألا تتعافى مستقبلاً، وهذا غاية بذاته للطرفين الروسي والسعودي كما أسلفنا. حتى قرار النخب الأميركية الاستثمار المكثف في قطاع النفط الصخري الباهظ، الذي اتُّخذ قبل عقد ونيف، هو قرار جيواستراتيجي وليس اقتصادياً، ووثيق الصلة باستشعارها العجز عن إمكانية المضي في تحمل أعباء وأكلاف قيام بلادهم بدور «شرطي الرأسمالية العالمية» إلى ما لا نهاية، وتأمين إمكانية الاعتماد على الذات في حقل الطاقة، في مواجهة احتمالات لتطورات غير منتظرة في الشرق الأوسط، وانقلاب في تحالفات بلدانه باتجاه منافسيها الدوليين. التوقعات بالنسبة إلى تبعات انهيار أسعار النفط على الاقتصاد والاجتماع الأميركيين شديدة التشاؤم، وإن تفاوتت مستوياته. المؤكد أن «لعنة النفط»، بعد «لعنة كورونا»، ستسرّع وتيرة الانتقال إلى حقبة «ما بعد الغرب» 

مقالات متعلقة

هل هناك خلاف فعليّ بين الأميركيين وآل سعود؟

د. وفيق إبراهيم

يثير التهديد الأميركي لآل سعود بقطع التعاون معهم على مستويات التغطية السياسية والاستراتيجية والتسليح والتدريب والرعاية وسحب المستشارين والعسكريين الاميركيين المنتشرين في الخليج، الدهشة لأنه لا يتصل بأي توتر سابق بين الطرفين ولا يعكس تاريخاً طويلاً ومتواصلاً من الولاء السعودي الكامل للسياسة الاميركية في كل بقاع الارض.

فهذه العلاقات تطورت بعد توقيع معاهدة كوينسي في 1945 بين الرئيس الاميركي روزفلت والعاهل السعودي عبد العزيز على اساس التغطية الكاملة مقابل الولاء والتسهيلات النفطية والتبعية الاقتصادية بما جعل هذا التاريخ رمزاً لانصياع سعودي كامل وعلني وضع كامل الإمكانات الاقتصادية والدينية في خدمة الجيوبوليتيك الاميركي متيحاً بدوره للسعودية فرصة حيازة ادوار في كبيرة في الخليج والتأثير في جوارهما المباشر في العراق واليمن والعالمين العربي والاسلامي.

على هذا الاساس قامت معادلة القطبية الاميركية التي تشكل السعودية جناحها في محوريها العربي والاسلامي مع أهمية دولية نسبية.

اللافت هنا ان هذا الوضع لا يزال معتمداً حتى هذا التاريخ ويبدو منفصلاً الى درجة غريبة من نوعين من التهديد الأميركي.

الاول اطلقه الرئيس دونالد ترامب محذراً صديقته السعودية ومنافسته روسيا من الاستمرار في رفع انتاجيهما النفطي وإلا فإنه متجه الى فرض ضرائب ورسوم على صادراتهما من البترول.

اما الثاني فكان أشد عنفاً واطلقه الحزب الجمهوري الاميركي الذي ينتمي اليه ترامب معلناً فيه استعداد الدولة الاميركية قطع كامل علاقاتها مع السعودية اذا لم تتراجع عن رفع انتاجها النفطي الى مستويات اقل مما كان عليه قبل شهرين فقط.

وهذا يعني إعادته من 13 مليون برميل يومياً كما هو الآن الى تسعة ملايين كما كان في كانون الثاني الماضي… مع امل على خفضه اضافياً في اطار خفض جماعي لدول منظمة اوبيك يتعادل مع التراجعات الاقتصادية التي فرضها انتشار جائحة الكورونا المتواصل حتى الآن.

المدهش هنا أن الاميركيين يصرون على هذا الخفض رافضين تحديد سقف لإنتاجهم من النفط الصخري الشديد الكلفة والبترول العادي ويبررون بأن نفوطهم تراجعت في الآونة الأخيرة بسبب تراجع اسعار البترول الى 23 دولاراً للبرميل بعد الرفع السعودي – الروسي لإنتاجيهما فكان ان توقفت شركات النفط الصخري عن العمل، لأن كلفة استخراج البرميل الواحد من هذا النوع تتعدى الأربعين دولاراً، ما ادى الى تدهور كبير في اقتصاديات هذه الشركات الاميركية وتريد خفض الاسعار العالمية لإعادة انعاش الشركات الاميركية التي تؤمن وظائف لعشرات آلاف العمال وتؤدي دوراً مركزياً في التفاعلات الاقتصادية الكبرى، لذلك فإن هذه التطورات تدعو الى التساؤل عن اسباب صمت الاميركيين عن رفع السعودية لإنتاجها النفطي في تاريخ رفعه قبل أشهر عدة، ولماذا يعترضون الآن؟

الواضح أنهم في المرحلة الأولى اعتقدوا ان رفع الإنتاج السعودي يؤدي فوراً الى ضرب الاقتصاد الروسي المعتمد على النفط والغاز بمعدل اربعين في المئة من موازناتهم ويضاعف مصاعب ايران التي يقاطعها الاميركيون ويحاصرونها مع نفر كبير من دول تؤيدهم او تخشاهم.

لكن انتشار الكورونا والشلل الاقتصادي في العام احدث شللاً كبيراً وخطيراً وعاماً في الاقتصاد الاميركي وشركات النفط الصخري وذلك عشية انتخابات رئاسية واصبح المشروع الاميركي بضرب روسيا عبر استخدام النفط السعودي كارثة على الاميركيين ايضاً.

وإذا كان إقناع السعوديين بخفض إنتاجهم عملاً ممكناً بسهولة، فإن إقناع الروس هو المشكلة الفعلية لانهم سارعوا الى رفض الطلب الاميركي مصرين على خفض متواز بين دول «اوبيك +» اي اوبيك زائد روسيا مع النفط الأميركي.

في حين أن الأميركيين يريدون خفضاً عالمياً يسمح لشركاتهم بالعودة الى الإنتاج والتوظيف بقوة ما يسمح لترامب بكسب أصوات الفئات الشعبية في الانتخابات المقبلة.

الموضوع اذاً بالنسبة للبيت الابيض هو اقتصادي في جانبه المتعلق بإنتاج النفط وتحديد اسعاره، وهو أيضاً سياسي لعلاقته بالانتخابات الرئاسية في تشرين الثاني المقبل، وهو أيضاً استراتيجي جيوبوليتيكي لتعاطفه مع حالة التنافس الشديد مع روسيا، وتحالفاتها في ايران والصين.

الأمر الذي يوضح ان رفع الانتاج السعودي هو قرار اميركي لكن العودة عنه لم تعد كذلك بل اصبحت معادلة تحتاج الى موافقة روسيا ومنظمة الاوبيك وهناك تكمن المشكلة، لان الروس يقبلون بالخفض بمعدل يواكب تداعيات كورونا على تراجع الاقتصاد العالمي لكنهم يشترطون ان يسري هذا الخفض على النفط الاميركي ايضاً بما يؤدي الى عرقلة عودة النشاط النفطي الى الاقتصاد الاميركي.

لذلك فإن اقتصار هذا الخفض على السعوديين لن يؤدي الى النتائج الاميركية المطلوبة، فجاء التهديدان الاميركيان للسعودية بمثابة إنذار لروسيا لحلحلة تصلبها وخطاباً عاطفياً للناخبين الاميركيين بأن الحزب الجمهوري الاميركي لن يتورع عن معاقبة صديقة بلاده الاساسية اي السعودية اذا اكملت سياسة رفع انتاجها الموازية لشركات النفط الصخري وآلاف الاميركيين العاملين فيها، الامر الذي يكشف انهما ليسا اكثر من دبلجة لغوية غير قابلة للتطبيق العملي لان السعودية هي البقرة الاميركية الحلوب التي تنعش الاقتصاد الاميركي وتؤمن للسياسة الاميركية مدى اسلامياً واسعاً يزداد انصياعاً لواشنطن عندما يستعمل آل سعود أهمية بلادهم الدينية والتغطية في خدمته.

اما على المقلب الآخر الذي يذهب الى التساؤل حول امكانية آل سعود مقاومة الاميركيين بطلب خفض انتاج نفطهم فيثير الضحك لان آل سعود لم يبنوا دولة متماسكة تؤمن بشعبها وتعمل على رفع مستويات النمو والتقدم، بل عملوا على مفهوم من القرون الوسطى يعتبر ان الارض والناس والثروات والمياه هي ملك للسلطان يوزعها على من يشاء ويمنعها عما يريد، فهو ولي الامر واحكامه مطبقة على السمع والطاعة.

هناك نقطة اضافية وهي ان الحكم السعودي لم يؤسس منظومة تحالفات عربية واقليمية تعينه في اوقات الشدة، فهو يعادي ايران معتمداً على اميركا لاسقاط جمهوريتها ويعبث بالامن الاجتماعي والسياسي للعراق متلاعباً بمكوناته وطوائفه ويرتكب مجازر في اليمن تطال مئات الآلاف في هجوم مستمر من خمس سنوات ويدعم الارهاب في سورية ويعادي قطر متدخلاً في ليبيا والسودان والجزائر ومتعاوناً مع «اسرائيل».

فكيف يمكن لبلد من هذا النوع يفتقد لتأييد شعبه مثيراً كراهية جواره السياسي ان يقاوم الاوامر الاميركية وهي اصلاً غير موجودة حتى الآن؟

يتبين ان السعودية لا تزال حاجة ماسة للاميركيين بوضعيتها السياسية الحالية، وهذا يعني ان آل سعود مرتاحون ويواصلون سياسة الاسترخاء السياسي مع خنق شعبهم بأساليب القرون الوسطى.

War and Natural Gas: The Israeli Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, February 28, 2020

Global Research 8 January 2009

Eleven years ago, Israel invaded Gaza under “Operation Cast Lead”.

The following article was first published by Global Research in January 2009 at the height of the Israeli bombing and invasion under Operation Cast Lead.

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Author’s Note and Update

The purpose of Operation Cast Led was to confiscate Palestine’s maritime natural gas reserves. In the wake of the invasion, Palestinian gas fields were de facto confiscated by Israel in derogation of international law.

A year following “Operation Cast Lead”,  Tel Aviv announced the discovery of  the Leviathan natural gas field in the Eastern Mediterranean “off the coast of Israel.”

At the time the gas field was: “ … the most prominent field ever found in the sub-explored area of the Levantine Basin, which covers about 83,000 square kilometres of the eastern Mediterranean region.” (i)

Coupled with Tamar field, in the same location, discovered in 2009, the prospects are for an energy bonanza for Israel, for Houston, Texas based Noble Energy and partners Delek Drilling, Avner Oil Exploration and Ratio Oil Exploration. (See Felicity Arbuthnot, Israel: Gas, Oil and Trouble in the Levant, Global Research, December 30, 2013

The Gazan gas fields are part of the broader Levant assessment area.

What has been unfolding is the integration of these adjoining gas fields including those belonging to Palestine into the orbit of Israel. (see map below).

It should be noted that the entire Eastern Mediterranean coastline extending from Egypt’s Sinai to Syria constitutes an area encompassing large gas as well as oil reserves.

While the debate regarding  Trump’s “Deal of the Century” has largely concentrated on the de facto annexation of the Jordan Valley and the integration and extension of  Jewish settlements, the issue of the de facto confiscation and ownership of  Palestine’s offshore gas reserves have not been challenged.

Michel Chossudovsky, February 28, 2020


War and Natural Gas: The Israeli Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields

by Michel Chossudovsky

January 8, 2009

The December 2008 military invasion of the Gaza Strip by Israeli Forces bears a direct relation to the control and ownership of strategic offshore gas reserves. 

This is a war of conquest. Discovered in 2000, there are extensive gas reserves off the Gaza coastline. 

British Gas (BG Group) and its partner, the Athens based Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC) owned by Lebanon’s Sabbagh and Koury families, were granted oil and gas exploration rights in a 25 year agreement signed in November 1999 with the Palestinian Authority.

The rights to the offshore gas field are respectively British Gas (60 percent); Consolidated Contractors (CCC) (30 percent); and the Investment Fund of the Palestinian Authority (10 percent). (Haaretz, October 21,  2007).

The PA-BG-CCC agreement includes field development and the construction of a gas pipeline.(Middle East Economic Digest, Jan 5, 2001).

The BG licence covers the entire Gazan offshore marine area, which is contiguous to several Israeli offshore gas facilities. (See Map below). It should be noted that 60 percent of the gas reserves along the Gaza-Israel coastline belong to Palestine.

The BG Group drilled two wells in 2000: Gaza Marine-1 and Gaza Marine-2. Reserves are estimated by British Gas to be of the order of 1.4 trillion cubic feet, valued at approximately 4 billion dollars. These are the figures made public by British Gas. The size of Palestine’s gas reserves could be much larger.Will Israel’s Gas Hopes Come True? Accused of Stealing Gas from the Gaza Strip


Map 1

Map 2

Who Owns the Gas Fields

The issue of sovereignty over Gaza’s gas fields is crucial. From a legal standpoint, the gas reserves belong to Palestine.

The death of Yasser Arafat, the election of the Hamas government and the ruin of the Palestinian Authority have enabled Israel to establish de facto control over Gaza’s offshore gas reserves.

British Gas (BG Group) has been dealing with the Tel Aviv government. In turn, the Hamas government has been bypassed in regards to exploration and development rights over the gas fields.

The election of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2001 was a major turning point. Palestine’s sovereignty over the offshore gas fields was challenged in the Israeli Supreme Court. Sharon stated unequivocally that “Israel would never buy gas from Palestine” intimating that Gaza’s offshore gas reserves belong to Israel.

In 2003, Ariel Sharon, vetoed an initial deal, which would allow British Gas to supply Israel with natural gas from Gaza’s offshore wells. (The Independent, August 19, 2003)

The election victory of Hamas in 2006 was conducive to the demise of the Palestinian Authority, which became confined to the West Bank, under the proxy regime of Mahmoud Abbas.

In 2006, British Gas “was close to signing a deal to pump the gas to Egypt.” (Times, May, 23, 2007). According to reports, British Prime Minister Tony Blair intervened on behalf of Israel with a view to shunting the agreement with Egypt.

The following year, in May 2007, the Israeli Cabinet approved a proposal by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert  “to buy gas from the Palestinian Authority.” The proposed contract was for $4 billion, with profits of the order of $2 billion of which one billion was to go the Palestinians.

Tel Aviv, however, had no intention on sharing the revenues with Palestine. An Israeli team of negotiators was set up by the Israeli Cabinet to thrash out a deal with the BG Group, bypassing both the Hamas government and the Palestinian Authority:

Israeli defence authorities want the Palestinians to be paid in goods and services and insist that no money go to the Hamas-controlled Government.” (Ibid, emphasis added)

The objective was essentially to nullify the contract signed in 1999 between the BG Group and the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat.

Under the proposed 2007 agreement with BG, Palestinian gas from Gaza’s offshore wells was to be channeled by an undersea pipeline to the Israeli seaport of Ashkelon, thereby transferring control over the sale of the natural gas to Israel.

The deal fell through. The negotiations were suspended:

 “Mossad Chief Meir Dagan opposed the transaction on security grounds, that the proceeds would fund terror”. (Member of Knesset Gilad Erdan, Address to the Knesset on “The Intention of Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Purchase Gas from the Palestinians When Payment Will Serve Hamas,” March 1, 2006, quoted in Lt. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon, Does the Prospective Purchase of British Gas from Gaza’s Coastal Waters Threaten Israel’s National Security?  Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, October 2007)

Israel’s intent was to foreclose the possibility that royalties be paid to the Palestinians. In December 2007, The BG Group withdrew from the negotiations with Israel and in January 2008 they closed their office in Israel.(BG website).

Invasion Plan on The Drawing Board

The invasion plan of the Gaza Strip under “Operation Cast Lead” was set in motion in June 2008, according to Israeli military sources:

“Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago [June or before June] , even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas.”(Barak Ravid, Operation “Cast Lead”: Israeli Air Force strike followed months of planning, Haaretz, December 27, 2008)

That very same month, the Israeli authorities contacted British Gas, with a view to resuming crucial negotiations pertaining to the purchase of Gaza’s natural gas:

“Both Ministry of Finance director general Yarom Ariav and Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Hezi Kugler agreed to inform BG of Israel’s wish to renew the talks.

The sources added that BG has not yet officially responded to Israel’s request, but that company executives would probably come to Israel in a few weeks to hold talks with government officials.” (Globes online- Israel’s Business Arena, June 23, 2008)

The decision to speed up negotiations with British Gas (BG Group) coincided, chronologically, with the planning of the invasion of Gaza initiated in June. It would appear that Israel was anxious to reach an agreement with the BG Group prior to the invasion, which was already in an advanced planning stage.

Moreover, these negotiations with British Gas were conducted by the Ehud Olmert government with the knowledge that a military invasion was on the drawing board. In all likelihood, a new “post war” political-territorial arrangement for the Gaza strip was also being contemplated by the Israeli government.

In fact, negotiations between British Gas and Israeli officials were ongoing in October 2008, 2-3 months prior to the commencement of the bombings on December 27th.

In November 2008, the Israeli Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of National Infrastructures instructed Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) to enter into negotiations with British Gas, on the purchase of natural gas from the BG’s offshore concession in Gaza. (Globes, November 13, 2008)

“Ministry of Finance director general Yarom Ariav and Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Hezi Kugler wrote to IEC CEO Amos Lasker recently, informing him of the government’s decision to allow negotiations to go forward, in line with the framework proposal it approved earlier this year.

The IEC board, headed by chairman Moti Friedman, approved the principles of the framework proposal a few weeks ago. The talks with BG Group will begin once the board approves the exemption from a tender.” (Globes Nov. 13, 2008)

Gaza and Energy Geopolitics 

The military occupation of Gaza is intent upon transferring the sovereignty of the gas fields to Israel in violation of international law.

What can we expect in the wake of the invasion?

What is the intent of Israel with regard to Palestine’s Natural Gas reserves?

A new territorial arrangement, with the stationing of Israeli and/or “peacekeeping” troops?

The militarization of the entire Gaza coastline, which is strategic for Israel?

The outright confiscation of Palestinian gas fields and the unilateral declaration of Israeli sovereignty over Gaza’s maritime areas?

If this were to occur, the Gaza gas fields would be integrated into Israel’s offshore installations, which are contiguous to those of the Gaza Strip. (See Map 1 above).

These various offshore installations are also linked up to Israel’s energy transport corridor, extending from the port of Eilat, which is an oil pipeline terminal, on the Red Sea to the seaport – pipeline terminal at Ashkelon, and northwards to Haifa, and eventually linking up through a proposed Israeli-Turkish pipeline with the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

Ceyhan is the terminal of the Baku, Tblisi Ceyhan Trans Caspian pipeline. “What is envisaged is to link the BTC pipeline to the Trans-Israel Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline, also known as Israel’s Tipline.” (See Michel Chossudovsky, The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil, Global Research, July 23, 2006)


Map 3The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2020


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Indigenous Resistance Shakes the Canadian State

Indigenous groups resisting a destructive gas pipeline have blockaded one of Canada’s busiest rail lines bringing business as usual to a grinding halt, reports John Clarke

By John Clarke

Global Research, February 21, 2020

Counterfire 17 February 2020

In early February, the RCMP, Canada’s colonial police force, raided the land defender camps of the Wet’suwet’en people in British Columbia, in order to clear the way for pipeline construction. Clearly, none of the political decision makers responsible for this repressive action ever imagined that it would spark a powerful wave of solidarity actions across Canada. There have been ongoing protests and rallies but the focus has been on the tactic of economic disruption, most notably by blockading the railway network. If the attack on the Wet’suwet’en was driven by the profit needs of extractive capitalism, the resistance that has emerged has targeted the flow of goods and services as the most effective form of counter-attack.

In October of 2018, the provincial government of British Columbia approved the building of a 670 km pipeline to bring liquified natural gas from northern BC to a $40-billion export plant, to be constructed in Kitimat. In BC, the New Democratic Party (NDP) is in power, so it was shameful that Canada’s social democratic party would join with the federal Liberals to provide “a bouquet of government subsidies for BC’s largest carbon polluter.”

From the outset, it was clear that there would be a major problem with driving this environmentally destructive project through Indigenous territory. Unlike the rest of Canada, BC has been built up on disputed or ‘unceded’ land over which no treaties between the Crown and the Indigenous nations were ever drawn up. This is because the process of colonization in BC was especially ruthless and lethal. In 1862, when a smallpox epidemic broke out in Victoria, infected Indigenous people were driven back into the interior of the province, spreading the disease. At least 30,000 died as a result, which was about 60% of the Indigenous population at the time. Following this successful genocide, treaties seemed unnecessary to the colonizers. “The Indians have really no rights to the lands they claim,” concluded land commissioner, Joseph Trutch, in 1864.

Trutch and his friends would doubtless be chagrined to learn that, in the 21st Century, an unintended legacy of their handiwork has emerged. The Wet’suwet’en Nation lays claim to a 22,000 square kilometre unceded territory through which the Coastal GasLink project must pass. Moreover, almost twenty five years ago, in the Delgamuukw ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada held that there is, indeed, Aboriginal title over such land. Coastal GasLink and its apologists make much of the fact that they were able to coerce and cajole twenty Indigenous band councils into signing agreements with them. However, these bands only have authority, under the Indian Act, over the reserves they operate. They have no jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en land as a whole, whereas the hereditary chiefs of the Nation have a claim that predates Canada and that various court rulings have acknowledged is still highly relevant.

The hereditary chiefs remain implacably opposed to the pipeline project and neither the Trudeau Liberals in Ottawa, the BC government or the pipeline company have the “free, prior and informed consent” that is required under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that Canada has signed onto.

Solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en Against the Colonial Policies of the Canadian State

Resistance and Solidarity

The brutal arrogance with which the RCMP were unleashed on the land defenders was so shocking and appalling that it blew up in the faces of those responsible. After a previous assault on the Wet’suwet’en, in January of last year, it was discovered that RCMP planners were ready to shoot to kill. The notes of their meeting included an observation that “lethal overwatch is req’d.,” a reference to the deployment of snipers. After this last raid, a video emerged of a cop training his telescopic sights on the unarmed defenders. The footage and accounts of the militarized police action against people trying to protect their own ancient land was as heartbreaking as it was enraging.

“This is Wet’suwet’en territory. We are unarmed. We are peaceful. You are invaders,” yelled Eve Saint, the daughter of one of the hereditary chiefs. She later told the media that, “I held my feather up and cried because I was getting ripped off my territory and there was nothing I could do about it. That’s the type of violence our people face. It’s embedded in my DNA and hit me in the heart. This is what my people have been going through since contact (with colonizers).”

This ugly use of state power was made all the more vile and disgusting by Justin Trudeau’s hypocrisy. He is fully implicated in the attempt to crush Indigenous rights yet he postures as a champion of ‘reconciliation.’ The response was remarkable and powerful and created a political crisis, as hard-hitting actions took place across the country. BC’s NDP Premier, John Horgan, has been left ‘despondent’ by a solidarity action that disrupted his government’s throne speech. A day of action targeted BC government offices across the province. The Port of Vancouver has been blockaded. On the other side of the country, in Halifax, the Ceres container terminal was blocked by protesters chanting, “Where are we? Mi’kmaqi! Respect Indigenous sovereignty!” as well as, “Shut down Canada!”

It is, however, the rail blockades that have had such a huge economic impact and that have taken things to the level of political crisis. Action taken by residents of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in eastern Ontario has prevented the movement of train traffic along a vital corridor connecting Toronto with Ottawa and Montreal for almost two weeks now and has had a national impact. The Mohawks have refused to obey a court injunction ordering them to leave on the grounds that Canadian courts have no right to tell them what to do on their land and they have made clear that they are going nowhere until the just demands of the Wet’suwet’en have been met. The economic impact of their action, along with a series of other rail blockades across Canada, has been enormous and it is growing. It is reported that “wood, pulp and paper producers have lost tens of millions of dollars so far.” At least 66 cargo ships have been unable to unload in BC and the president of the province’s Chamber of Shipping says, “those line-ups are only going to increase, of course ships are continuing to arrive. Eventually, there will be no space and they’ll be waiting off the coast of Canada, which is a situation we’d like to avoid.”

The federal Indigenous Services Minister, Marc Miller, has now been to Tyendinaga to meet with members of the community. His account of the hours long meeting doesn’t suggest much was resolved at all. Clearly, the Trudeau government is in a very difficult situation. They have seen the response to the RCMP raid on the Wet’suwet’en and they desperately fear the consequences of moving on the rail blockades. Yet the driving of pipelines through Indigenous territory is vital to their strategic priority of exporting dirty oil and gas to the Pacific market. The Coastal GasLink project is the harbinger of much more to come and the resistance of Indigenous people and their allies poses a threat to all their plans.

The considerable ability of the Liberal Party to serve the interests of the capitalists while containing social resistance is being tested to the limit. The vulnerability to disruption of the global supply chain that has been created during the neoliberal era, with its wide ranging sources of raw materials and component parts and its systems of ‘just in time’ inventory, makes the blockades and the economic disruption even more of a threat than they would have been at an earlier time.

The political crisis that has been unleashed by this wave of action in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en is already very serious but if state power is unleashed to remove the blockades, at Tyendinaga or at other locations, especially if a serious confrontation ensues, the mood across the country is such that disruptive actions could intensify dramatically. In that eventuality, the choice for Trudeau and his provincial allies would be between a dangerous escalation or a retreat on so fundamental an objective as the pursuit of environmentally disastrous extractive capitalism. Sparked by the magnificent defiance of the Wet’suwet’en, a struggle is unfolding with the most important implications for the building of resistance in Canada to the colonial project that Indigenous people face. At the same time, however, it is also creating a precious model for the global struggle against the deadly consequences of corporate climate vandalism.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

John Clarke is a writer and retired organizer for the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP). Follow his tweets at @JohnOCAP and blog at johnclarkeblog.com.

Featured image: Rail blockade. Photo: Twitter/Krystalline KrausThe original source of this article is CounterfireCopyright © John ClarkeCounterfire, 2020https://www.globalresearch.ca/indigenous-resistance-shakes-canadian-state/5704242

Shut Down Canada Until It Solves Its War, Oil, and Genocide Problem

FEBRUARY 20, 2020

Photograph Source: tuchodi – CC BY 2.0

by DAVID SWANSON

Indigenous people in Canada are giving the world a demonstration of the power of nonviolent action. The justness of their cause — defending the land from those who would destroy it for short term profit and the elimination of a habitable climate on earth — combined with their courage and the absence on their part of cruelty or hatred, has the potential to create a much larger movement, which is of course the key to success.

This is a demonstration of nothing less than a superior alternative to war, not just because the war weapons of the militarized Canadian police may be defeated by the resistance of the people who have never been conquered or surrendered, but also because the Canadian government could accomplish its aims in the wider world better by following a similar path, by abandoning the use of war for supposedly humanitarian ends and making use of humanitarian means instead. Nonviolence is simply more likely to succeed in domestic and international relations than violence. War is not a tool for preventing but for facilitating its identical twin, genocide.

Of course, the indigenous people in “British Columbia,” as around the world, are demonstrating something else as well, for those who care to see it: a way of living sustainably on earth, an alternative to earth-violence, to the raping and murdering of the planet — an activity closely linked to the use of violence against human beings.

The Canadian government, like its southern neighbor, has an unacknowledged addiction to the war-oil-genocide problem. When Donald Trump says he needs troops in Syria to steal oil, or John Bolton says Venezuela needs a coup to steal oil, it’s simply an acknowledgement of the global continuation of the never-ended operation of stealing North America.

Look at the gas-fracking invasion of unspoiled lands in Canada, or the wall on the Mexican border, or the occupation of Palestine, or the destruction of Yemen, or the “longest ever” war on Afghanistan (which is only the longest ever because the primary victims of North American militarism are still not considered real people with real nations whose destruction counts as real wars) , and what do you see? You see the same weapons, the same tools, the same senseless destruction and cruelty, and the same massive profits flowing into the same pockets of the same profiteers from blood and suffering — the corporations that will be shamelessly marketing their products at the CANSEC weapons show in Ottawa in May.

Much of the profits these days comes from distant wars fought in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, but those wars drive the technology and the contracts and the experience of war veterans that militarize the police in places like North America. The same wars (always fought for “freedom,” of course) also influence the culture toward greater acceptance of the violation of basic rights in the name of “national security” and other meaningless phrases. This process is exacerbated by the blurring of the line between war and police, as wars become endless occupations, missiles become tools of random isolated murder, and activists — antiwar activists, antipipeline activists, antigenocide activists — become categorized with terrorists and enemies.

Not only is war over 100 times more likely where there is oil or gas (and in no way more likely where there is terrorism or human rights violations or resource scarcity or any of the things people like to tell themselves cause wars) but war and war preparations are leading consumers of oil and gas. Not only is violence needed to steal the gas from indigenous lands, but that gas is highly likely to be put to use in the commission of wider violence, while in addition helping to render the earth’s climate unfit for human life. While peace and environmentalism are generally treated as separable, and militarism is left out of environmental treaties and environmental conversations, war is in fact a leading environmental destroyer. Guess who just pushed a bill through the U.S. Congress to allow both weapons and pipelines into Cyprus? Exxon-Mobil.

Solidarity of the longest victims of western imperialism with the newest ones is a source of great potential for justice in the world.

But I mentioned the war-oil-genocide problem. What does any of this have to do with genocide? Well, genocide is an act “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group.” Such an act can involve murder or kidnapping or both or neither. Such an act can “physically” harm no one. It can be any one, or more than one, of these five things:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Numerous top Canadian officials over the years have stated clearly that the intention of Canada’s child-removal program was to eliminated Indigenous cultures, to utterly remove “the Indian problem.” Proving the crime of genocide does not require the statement of intent, but in this case, as in Nazi Germany, as in today’s Palestine, and as in most if not all cases, there is no shortage of expressions of genocidal intent. Still, what matters legally is genocidal results, and that is what one can expect from stealing people’s land to frack it, to poison it, to render it uninhabitable.

When the treaty to ban genocide was being drafted in 1947, at the same time that Nazis were still being put on trial, and while U.S. government scientists were experimenting on Guatemalans with syphilis, Canadian government “educators” were performing “nutritional experiments” on Indigenous children — that is to say: starving them to death. The original draft of the new law included the crime of cultural genocide. While this was stripped out at the urging of Canada and the United States, it remained in the form of item “e” above. Canada ratified the treaty nonetheless, and despite having threatened to add reservations to its ratification, did no such thing. But Canada enacted into its domestic law only items “a” and “c” — simply omitting “b,” “d,” and “e” in the list above, despite the legal obligation to include them. Even the United States has included what Canada omitted.

Canada should be shut down (as should the United States) until it recognizes that it has a problem and begins to mend its ways. And even if Canada didn’t need to be shut down, CANSEC would need to be shut down.

CANSEC is one of the largest annual weapons shows in North America. Here’s how it describes itself, a list of exhibitors, and a list of the members of the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries which hosts CANSEC.

CANSEC facilitates Canada’s role as a major weapons dealer to the world, and the second biggest weapons exporter to the Middle East. So does ignorance. In the late 1980s opposition to a forerunner of CANSEC called ARMX created a great deal of media coverage. The result was a new public awareness, which led to a ban on weapons shows on city property in Ottawa, which lasted 20 years.

The gap left by media silence on Canadian weapons dealing is filled with misleading claims about Canada’s supposed role as a peacekeeper and participant in supposedly humanitarian wars, as well as the non-legal justification for wars known as “the responsibility to protect.”

In reality, Canada is a major marketer and seller of weapons and components of weapons, with two of its top customers being the United States and Saudi Arabia. The United States is the world’s leading marketer and seller of weapons, some of which weapons contain Canadian parts. CANSEC’s exhibitors include weapons companies from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere.

There is little overlap between the wealthy weapons-dealing nations and the nations where wars are waged. U.S. weapons are often found on both sides of a war, rendering ridiculous any pro-war moral argument for those weapons sales.

CANSEC 2020’s website boasts that 44 local, national, and international media outlets will be attending a massive promotion of weapons of war. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Canada has been a party since 1976, states that “Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.”

The weapons exhibited at CANSEC are routinely used in violation of laws against war, such as the UN Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact — most frequently by Canada’s southern neighbor. CANSEC may also violate the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court by promoting acts of aggression. Here’s a report on Canadian exports to the United States of weapons used in the 2003-begun criminal war on Iraq. Here’s a report on Canada’s own use of weapons in that war.

The weapons exhibited at CANSEC are used not only in violation of laws against war but also in violation of numerous so-called laws of war, that is to say in the commission of particularly egregious atrocities, and in violation of the human rights of the victims of oppressive governments. Canada sells weapons to the brutal governments of Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

Canada may be in violation of the Rome Statute as a result of supplying weapons that are used in violation of that Statute. It is certainly in violation of the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty. Canadian weapons are being used in the Saudi-U.S. genocide in Yemen.

In 2015, Pope Francis remarked before a joint session of the United States Congress, “Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.”

An international coalition of individuals and organizations will be converging on Ottawa in May to say No to CANSEC with a seris of events called NoWar2020.

This month two nations, Iraq and the Philippines, have told the United States military to get out. This happens more often than you might think. These actions are part of the same movement that tells the Canadian militarized police to get out of lands they have no rights in. All actions in this movement can inspire and inform all others.Join the debate on FacebookMore articles by:DAVID SWANSON

David Swanson wants you to declare peace at http://WorldBeyondWar.org  His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition.

MILITANTS BLEW UP EGYPT-ISRAEL PIPELINE IN NORTHERN SINAI: REPORTS

Illustrative image. Click to see full-size

South Front

On February 2nd, armed militants blew up a gas pipeline in Northern Sinai connecting Egypt and Israel.

At least six masked militants planted explosives under the pipeline in the town of Bir al-Abd. It transfers gas to el-Arish, the provincial capital of North Sinai, and a cement factory in central Sinai, local officials said.

The pipeline allegedly remained “functional” following the attacks.

A statement from the office of Israel’s energy minister, Yuval Steinitz, read:

“At the moment, the natural gas is flowing from Israel through the pipeline and reaching Egypt.

The ministry looked into the reported explosion, such as it was, in coordination with all relevant authorities.”

Another statement from the corporate partners operating Israel’s Leviathan gas field, which supplies the gas to the pipeline in question, issued a statement late on February 2nd said:

“There has not been any damage to the EMG pipeline connecting Israel and Egypt. The flow of gas from Leviathan to Egypt is continuing as normal.”

Thus, it is unclear if the attack even took place.

The reports of the sabotage come just two weeks after Israel started pumping natural gas to Egypt from two massive offshore fields, marking a major milestone and a historic cooperation between the countries, according to a joint January 15 statement by the two countries’ governments.

Steinitz hailed the move at the time as “the most significant cooperation ever between Israel and Egypt, in energy and the economy, since the [1979] peace treaty.”

The gas pipelines running through the Sinai Peninsula have long been a favorite target of jihadist groups in the restive region.


Samer Mosis@Samermosis

@nblenergy and Delek have finalized their acquisition of EMG pipeline, enabling a landmark $15 billion natural gas export deal between #Egypt and #Israel begin next year #oott #lng #energy @EgyptOilandGas

View image on Twitter

7 · Houston, TXTwitter Ads info and privacySee Samer Mosis’s other Tweets

Israel’s Delek Group and the American company Noble Energy – which together own 85% of the Leviathan field – completed the purchase of 39% of the Egyptian gas pipeline in partnership. The purchase was carried out in conjunction with Egypt’s state-owned company EGAS for about $520 million.

Egypt has battled insurgents in Northern and Central Sinai since 2011, with varied intensity.

In late 2017, North Sinai was the scene of the deadliest attack in Egypt’s modern history when fighters killed more than 300 worshippers at a mosque, without any group claiming responsibility.

Following that, Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi gave the order that the peninsula must be purged of terrorist elements.

In February 2018, the army launched a military operation aimed at defeating ISIS or related armed groups in the Sinai Peninsula.

Since then Egypt provides regular updates of how the operation is going. In November 2019, which was the most recent report it said that throughout October 2019, 83 suspected terrorist fighters had been killed, and 61 were detained.

According to estimates based on official figures upwards of 700 militants have been killed since the start of the operation, while the army has lost around 50 soldiers.

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قسد وأردوغان توأمان يتقاتلان

 

أكتوبر 11, 2019

ناصر قنديل


– يعتقد الرئيس التركي أنه يملك قوة راكمها خلال سنوات الحرب على سورية يجب أن تحجز له مكاناً في مستقبلها، وهي مجموعة من عشرات آلاف الأخوان المسلمين المنظمين في جيش عميل لتركيا/ وهو يباهي بذلك ويرفع العلم التركي ويقاتل تحت قيادة الجيش التركي، بما يعيد للذاكرة صورة جيش العميل أنطوان لحد الذي كان يمسك بالشريط الحدودي المحتل في جنوب لبنان قبل تحريره. ويرغب أردوغان ببناء شريط مثله يعيد إليه أعداداً من النازحين ويستولي على نفطه، كما طمحت إسرائيل بالاستيلاء على مياه نهر الليطاني في جنوب لبنان، وقوة الارتكاز التركية من السوريين تشبه الجماعات التي تستند إليها قسد الذين كانوا يرفعون الأعلام الأميركية ويباهون بتبعيتهم لواشنطن، ويقدمون هوية الكانتون الذي قاموا ببنائه على هويتهم الوطنية السورية. وبالمناسبة فعشرات الآلاف هنا وعشرات الآلاف هناك يختصرون عملياً ما سُمّي بـ الثورة السورية ذات يوم على ألسنة الأميركيين والأتراك، وهو الآن يتكشف عن مجموعة عملاء سوريين للأميركيين والأتراك يدفعون ثمن عمالتهم الغبية، أو يؤدون مترتبات عمالتهم الأشد غباءً.

– رغم أصوات القذائف وغارات الطيران، تبدو الأصوات الأعلى هي لتحذيرات متشابهة يطلقها أردوغان وقيادة قسد، ووجهة التحذير هي أوروبا، فالفريقان لا يراهنان على كسب الحرب عسكرياً، وقد أظهرت المواجهات الأولى فراراً متبادلاً من الميدان للجيش الأخواني الذي زجّ به أردوغان، ولجيش قسد، فقد أعمت العيون حياة الترف التي عاشها جيش الأخوان في فنادق تركيا، وفي ترف عائدات البلطجة التي أتاحها لهم أردوغان في مناطق تركية متعدّدة أدت إلى انتفاضات استهدفت النازحين السوريين في اسطمبول وغيرها. وبالمقابل وفي حياة لا تقل ترفاً عاشت جماعة قسد وفرضت الخوات على العرب والأكراد، ويزجّون في المعارك بالذين قاموا بتجنيدهم بالقوة خلال السنة الماضية، وليس خافياً أن عشرات الآبار المحاذية للحدود حفرتها جماعة قسد وجماعة أردوغان مقابل بعضهما البعض تربطها أنابيب تحت خط الحدود، يفرغ فيها جماعة قسد بالصهاريج نفط سورية المنهوب، ويعيد تحميله جماعة أردوغان من الجهة المقابلة لبيعه وتقاسم عائداته مع القسديين، والبنية الرئيسية في الفريقين لا تريد أن تحارب.

– الرهان على وصول الأصوات إلى اوروبا، ومَن يسبق يكسب الحرب، بقدر من القصف والصمود، والأصوات متشابهة. القسديون يلوّحون بخطر عودة داعش، وانهيار معسكر الهول وفرار السجناء إذا تواصل الهجوم التركي، وأردوغان يلوّح بدفع مئات آلاف النازحين السوريين نحو أوروبا، إذا بقيت تضغط وتهدّد بالعقوبات الموجّهة لتركيا دفاعاً عن قسد، وأوروبا الواقعة بين شاقوفي الابتزاز بتدفق النازحين وانفلات إرهابيي داعش، هي ما سيقرّر مستقبل الحرب، والفريقان متشابهان في لعبة الابتزاز، توأم من نصفين برأسين وجسد واحد.

لن يُسمح لأردوغان بالتوغل عميقاً، كي يبقى كابوس داعش نائماً، ولن يسمح لقسد بالحفاظ على الإمارة المستقلة كي لا يتدفق النازحون نحو أوروبا، وستبقى المبادرة للدولة السورية التي ستقرر ساعة صفر وحدها تكون فيها قد قلبت الطاولة فوق رأس الفريقين حماية للسوريين عرباً وأكراداً وأشوريين، وحماية للثروة السورية، التي يتقاسمها اللصوص عبر الحدود، وهي ساعة ليست بعيدة.

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Iraqi Unrest: Saudi, US Hands Clear, Iraq won’t be a Milking Cow, Arbaeen won’t be Affected – Political Analyst

Iraqi Unrest: Saudi, US Hands Clear, Iraq won’t be a Milking Cow, Arbaeen won’t be Affected – Political Analyst

By Zeinab Daher

Beirut – As far as the protests engulfing Iraq has turned violent, something suspicious appeared to the surface as the timing seems more or less fishy since the anticipated date of the annual massive Arbaeen visit to the country’s holy cities approaches.

Iraqi Unrest: Saudi, US Hands Clear, Iraq won’t be a Milking Cow, Arbaeen won’t be Affected – Political Analyst

Commenting on the latest development, Iraqi expert and political analyst Mohammad Sadeq al-Hashemi told al-Ahed News that the worsening situation is definitely pushed by foreign intervention, yet Iraq won’t be like Saudi Arabia and won’t submit to the pressures exerted by Saudi Arabia that eyes Iraq’s oil with much greed.

Situation on ground

According to the political analyst, there are a few protests taking place now in Iraq, in which protesters claim that they have rightful demands such as improving services, ending corruption and the political parties’ control of power. The protests, however, are serving other ideologies in favor of the US interests. In fact, what protesters have done, violence, and the slogans they raised don’t reflect that the rallies demand reforming the situation and obtaining services as much as they show how connected they are to foreign agendas.

The protests, in fact, aim at reversing the situation and the political regime in the US favor, Sayyed al-Hashemi noted.

“They also stress the fact that the US is not satisfied with the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi after he rejected being part of the ‘Israeli’ and Gulf plots, rejected the ‘Deal of Century’ and many contracts with the United States.”

This happens as Iraq rejected being part of the US mechanism to pressure Iran and the Popular Mobilization Units [Hashd al-Shaabi]. This is why the US mobilized its tools to infiltrate among people who took to the streets to really demand their rights.

Sayyed al-Hashemi didn’t rule out that the Iraqi government derelicts in its duties, and this is confessed by the Iraqi religious leadership on the levels of services, spread of corruption and nepotism. And the responsibility of this is on the political parties that allow the US make use of the already existing gaps inside Iraq.

Protests and the Arbaeen Walk

Asked about the suspicious timing of the breakout of protests ahead of the annual Arbaeen visit for Shia Muslims who walk from the holy city of Najaf to the Holy city of Karbala to visit Imam Hussien [AS] on the 40th day of his martyrdom anniversary, an event that is described as the modern world’s biggest pilgrimage as it gathers millions of Muslims from many countries, Sayyed al-Hashemi said the the Arbaeen visit would never be affected.

“What is happening will never affect Iraq,” he said. The Iraqi people, according to the expert, really want to change the current situation. They want to improve services, pressure the government and the political parties, stop stealing the Iraqi money, move the industrial and agricultural cycles, but at the same time they don’t want to destroy their country,” the Iraqi political analyst said.

Iraqis, he said, don’t believe that their will can be imposed by certain mechanisms. There is a group of youngsters who are burning banks, governmental buildings, cars and block roads. The government, however, is ready to surround them, as they are few.

“I believe that things will be better in the few coming days although some individuals who are instructed by foreign embassies will remain. In all, the situation is under control and the Arbaeen visit will take place amid a stable security situation,” the Iraqi expert stressed.

Foreign hands behind the situation

Sayyed Mohammad Sadeq al-Hashemi didn’t rule out that the foreign role will continue its efforts, adding that it aims at spoiling the country’s political process. “It aims at destabilizing Iraq to be a field for struggles and a platform for the ‘Israeli’ and American existence, yet the power of internal resistance, the state, the political and security institutions, the presence of the religious leadership, and the cohesion among the Iraqi people and the rejection of the western schemes will definitely thwart them.”

Targeting the PMU

The Popular Mobilization Units are part of the governmental body as provided by the law and the resolutions of the Iraqi Parliament. They are targeted by ‘Israel’, the US and even the Gulf countries, which reject the fact that the PMU are part of the governmental institutions.

However, al-Hashemi noted, the applied Iraqi resolutions provided this and the PMU take orders from the General Commander of the Iraqi Armed Forces and will remain part of the forces that protect Iraq also from the internal riot, by the side of the army and the federal police, adjust the institutions and protect the state.

Is Iraq exporting oil to Saudi Arabia?

There are unofficial narrations and rumors in Iraq that the chaos caused in the country was moved by Saudi instructions in response to the strike against Saudi Aramco Company, al-Hashemi explained. Another official narration is that Saudi Arabia is asking Iraq to supply it with oil to compensate the 50% deficit caused by the Aramco strike. This is because the company has binding obligations with foreign companies in the west and the US that Saudi Arabia shall stay committed to. Until now, Iraq still didn’t accept, but also didn’t refuse. Iraq is not a milking cow that would offer its milk for free and without conditions. Iraq is a sovereign country and has its parliament, and offering 500 million barrels, which represent 50% of Saudi Aramco’s Company, is a process that needs approvals, agreements and something in return.

Saudi Arabia, however, cut off all oil supply lines to the Gulf and turned it in its favor, while it is used with Iraqi money. Saudi Arabia until now finances terrorism. Iraq has so far signed 16 memorandums with Saudi Arabia but it still didn’t implement any of them. There are in Iraqi prisons thousands of Saudi terrorists. Saudi Arabia hasn’t until the moment condemned Daesh [the Arabic acronym for terrorist ‘ISIS/ISIL’ group] officially. It didn’t compensate our victims and losses. Hence, it is impossible to open to such level of economic cooperation without guarantees.

Abdul Mahdi’s China visit

The US is not satisfied with the performance of the Iraqi PM as he supports the PMU and the resistance. The US was not satisfied with our premier’s visit to China and Russia because he wants to buy an S-300 system because he wants to secure the Iraqi airspace from violations. An added cause is that he frankly accused ‘Israel’ of bombing Iraqi camps and weapons warehouses as this is considered an international condemnations that is registered at the United Nations.

Additionally, Mr. Abdul Mahdi refused to be a part of the ‘Deal of the Century’ and the US scheme to starve the Iranian people and pressure them, in addition to the blockade against them.

All the stated reasons push the US scheme to topple the current Iraqi government.

Media’s role in the entire situation

It is well-known that the media outlets related to the US and UK embassies, the Gulf, the Baathists and the betrayers don’t want a stabilized Iraq. They want to provoke the situation inside the country, Sayyed al-Hashemi concluded.

Attacks on Saudi oil make waivers on Iran necessary: Experts

Press Tv

Sat Sep 14, 2019 08:58PM

Smoke billows from an Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq about 60km (37 miles) southwest of Dhahran in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province on September 14, 2019. (AFP photo)
Smoke billows from an Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq about 60km (37 miles) southwest of Dhahran in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province on September 14, 2019. (AFP photo)

Experts say critical oil supplies lost due to Yemeni attacks on Saudi Arabia’s production plants can only be compensated if the United States eases its sanctions on sale of crude by Iran.

Sandy Fielden, an analyst at Morningstar, a global financial services firm based in the US, said on Saturday that the current oil stocks in Saudi Arabia, the biggest oil exporter in the world, would not suffice to compensate for a loss of around 5 million barrels per day (bpd) that could be caused by attacks earlier in the day targeting the kingdom’s vital oil facilities located east of the country.

The attacks “resulted in a temporary suspension of production at Abqaiq and Khurais plants,” Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the energy minister said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency. It led to the interruption of an estimated 5.7 million barrels of crude, or about 50 percent of total production, he added.

Fielden said the disruptions could cause a real jump in the global oil prices, adding that the US, a main player in the oil market and an ally of the Saudis, would have no option but to allow Iran to resume its crude exports after months of a halt that has been caused by Washington’s unilateral bans.

“By all accounts the Iranians have tankers full of storage ready to go,” he said, adding, “The obvious short-term fix would be waivers on Iran sanctions.”

Yemen’s ruling Houthi Ansarullah movement said on Saturday that its drones had successfully attacked two oil plants in Abqaiq, the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, in the kingdom’s Eastern Province.

The Houthis said the attacks were a firm response to Saudi Arabia’s relentless bombardment of Yemen, where tens of thousands of civilians have been killed since Riyadh launched its illegal military campaign four years ago.

James Krane, Middle East energy specialist at Rice University’s Baker Institute, suggested that supplies from a country like Iran would be the best option to replace the lost Saudi production as most of the Kingdom’s exports normally go to countries in Asia that are closer to Iran than any other major oil producer.

“For the United States, the main threat is in the price of oil,” said Krane, adding, “Asian countries are more at immediate risk because they are the big importers from Saudi Arabia, with 80% of Saudi exports going to East Asia.”

Riyadh defenseless against Yemeni strikes

Analysts said Yemeni attacks on Saudi oil installations showed that Riyadh, which pumps just below 10 million bpd of oil into the global market, is effectively defenseless in the face of strikes from its impoverished neighbor.

Fielden said Washington would also find it impossible to try to solve the crisis on its own by sending tankers full of oil to Saudi customers in East Asia.

“It takes 19-20 days to ship Ras Tanura (Saudi) to Singapore, but 54 days from Houston to Singapore. So US ‘relief’ will take time,” he said.

However, US officials said right after the attack that they would try to ensure a smooth supply of oil to the global markets despite the attacks in Abqaiq.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement that Washington was committed to well-supplied oil markets while adding that US President Donald Trump had held a phone conversation with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman following the Saturday attacks.

Oil could rise $10 per barrel

Oil analysts and traders say that the impact of the attack on crude prices could be double digit and the commodity’s price could jump as much as $10 per barrel.

“This is a big deal,” said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates. “Fearing the worst, I expect that the market will open up $5 to $10 per barrel on Sunday evening. This is 12 to 25 cents per gallon for gasoline.”

Kevin Book, the head of research at Clearview Energy, said the price impact will depend on the repair time which can take weeks to months. “Our baseline assumptions, which incorporate public assessments of strategic petroleum reserve capacity and OPEC spare capacity, imply a net shortfall of ~1 MM bbl/d, or at least a ~$6/bbl premium to the ~$60 Brent close… Exclusive of this supply offset, and assuming a three-week shutdown, our models imply ~$10/bbl of upside.”

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures settled 0.4% lower at $54.85 on Friday, and Brent crude futures traded 0.2% lower at $60.25 per barrel.

IEA: No real concerns

The International Energy Agency (IEA) also said that in the short term was there were no real concerns about supplies to the markets.

“For now, markets are well supplied with ample commercial stocks,” it said, adding, “The IEA is monitoring the situation in Saudi Arabia closely. We are in contact with Saudi authorities as well as major producer and consumer nations.”

The United Arab Emirates, a close ally of Saudi Arabia and a major oil producer, said it would support measures adopted by the kingdom to safeguard its security following Saturday attacks.

يا شعب لبنان العظيم… تباً لنا!

 ابراهيم الأمين

 السبت 3 آب 2019

يقف اللبنانيون مشدوهين أمام من انتخبوهم وهم يقوّضون ما بقي من البلاد. محاضرات العفة تملأ الأرجاء. لم يبقَ من القتلة واحد إلا وقدّم لنا على مدى أربعة عقود شهادات في حسن تخريب كل شيء. العائلة والقبيلة والطائفة والدولة. وها هم اليوم، يرقصون على جثث ضحاياهم، ويبتسمون لعائلاتهم ويعدون الجميع بموت أفضل. لكن الجمهور لا يبدو أنه ملّ منهم ومن ألاعيبهم، ولذلك، سيكون على الناس الاستعداد لموجة موت جديدة، وهذه المرة الخيارات ستكون واسعة: بالرصاص أو الذبح لمن يرغب، بالمرض والسموم لهواة الصنف، وبالاكتئاب والسأم لمن بقي صامداً. أما الهجرة، فلا يبدو أنها علّمت الناس شيئاً. لأن الانقسامات القائمة خارج البحار لا تقلّ قساوة عمّا هو موجود هنا. والفارق، أنّ شرور اللبنانيين في الخارج يجري التعامل معها بقسوة من قبل مجتمعات لا تعترف بأمراض هذا الشعب المجنون الذي يسميه البعض «الشعبَ الجبّار والخلّاق والعظيم»!

ولأنّ الجميع يرفض فكرة المؤامرة، لا يمكن الحديث عن تلاعب بالمسرح اللبناني. في لبنان، لا يزال من يقول بحروب الآخرين على أرضنا. وفي لبنان، لا يزال من يقول إنها شرارات الإقليم التي تصيب جسدنا. وفي لبنان أيضاً، من يعتقد أنّ العالم ينام ويعيش على أخبار هذه القبيلة اللبنانية، ويتسلى بها، ولذلك لا يريد لها الفناء. ولذلك، من الجنون توهُّم تغييرات جدية على المشهد القائم. حتى ولو قتل الآلاف يومياً، لأنّ الزعران الذين يتحكمون بالبلاد، يعيشون اطمئناناً غير مسبوق. وهذا مهرّجهم الأول وليد جنبلاط يعطي المثال:

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سأقتل من أبناء جلدتي مَن أرغب، وسأرفع الصوت والسلاح بوجه الآخرين، وسيلحق بي أنصاري، لا أحد منهم يسألني ماذا أفعل، أو يلومني على شيء، وهم سيثقون بما أقوله. ولا ضير من أن يقول الخصوم كل ما يقولونه. لقد نجحت وربطت مصير هذه القبيلة بي، وبأفراد عائلتي، ولن يجرؤ أحد على معارضتي، وهاكم الدليل، ما يحصل الآن!

هذه حقيقة. قاسية جداً، لكنها حقيقة. وهذا الحال موجود عند الآخرين:

هل يتوقع أحد أن يخسر حزب الله المقعد النيابي في صور؟

أو هل ينتظر أحد اعتذاراً شاملاً من حركة أمل وابتعاداً عن السلطة؟

أم هل تتصورون أنّ سمير جعجع سيترك مقعده لأحد قبل أن يقرر الله ما يريد؟

أم أن جبران باسيل سيترك أحداً يناقشه داخل التيار الوطني، قبل أن يجبر المسيحيين على استعادة شعور الخوف من الآخر، أي آخر لا يهم؟

أم هناك من يعتقد أن سعد الحريري سيخرج من القمقم ويعيد الأموال التي جمعها كل أركان تياره على مدى ربع قرن ولا يزالون؟

أم ستتوقعون أن يتبرع رياض سلامة وصحبه من كبار المصرفيين بفوائد ودائعهم لمعالجة ملف النفايات؟

نحن عنوان التفاهة الكاملة، حكومةً وشعباً ومؤسسات، زعامات وقيادات وجماهير

ماذا ينتظر الناس من هذه المجموعة التي لم تترك شيئاً إلا وقصدته بهدف الاستيلاء أو المصادرة أو الاستخدام؟ هل منكم من يعتقد أنّ المراجع الدينية التي نصبتها الزعامات السياسية هنا وهناك، سترفع الصوت دفاعاً عن وصايا الله؟ هل تسألون الكنيسة المارونية عن هذا العشق الإلهي لتملّك الأراضي ثم التوجه بعظات إلى الناس لئلا يتبادلوا أملاكهم مع غير المسيحيين؟ ومن تعثّر، سيجد الكنيسة وكل منتجاتها الرهبانية في الانتظار لتولي الأمر. أم يوجد بينكم من لا يعرف حال المجلس الشيعي الأعلى، الذي لم يبقَ منه شيء إلا يافطة، يقف تحتها رجال دين يريدون تقرير مصير العائلات باسم الإله الحكيم. وهل منكم من يعرف ماذا يفعل الدروز بأوقافهم، بينما يكاد يموت الناس في الجبل ووادي التيم جوعاً، وينتظرون يوم العطلة ليقصدوا هذا أو ذاك من الزعماء بحثاً عن صدقة آخر النهار؟ أم ترون في دار الفتوى معمل التفكير لمواجهة كل الأفكار النتنة التي نطقت باسم أهل السُّنة والجماعة، فكفّرت وسبَت وقتلت، ولم يخرج من الدار صوت يسأل عن أصل هذا الكلام؟ ثم ترى هذا الجمع من العمامات يقفز إن تعرض مسؤول سياسي لنقد من صحافي أو سياسي آخر؟

ماذا ينتظر الناس بعد؟

هل لأحد فيكم أن يجيبنا ماذا فعلت كل هذه المنظمات غير الحكومية، غير إيواء أفراد باسم الكفاءة ثم تعطيلهم وتحويلهم أدوات لا تنتج غير بيانات وشعارات، ولم يحصل قَطّ، على الإطلاق، إن حظي الناس بمشروع واحد منهم؟ ثم من منكم يسأل عن جيوش المنظمات الدولية المنتشرة في الوزارات والمؤسسات العامة، تغرقنا بالاستشارات التافهة ثم يقبض جنودها من جيوبنا الأموال المكدسة؟ وما بال الناس في حالة دهشة عندما يتجول دبلوماسي غربي، من أقذر خلق الله، موزعاً علينا نصائحه حول الإصلاح والقانون وحقوق الإنسان، بينما لا تترك طائراتهم وجواسيسهم مكاناً هادئاً في العالم؟ هل تصدّقون فعلاً، أنه يمكن العثور على خير في أميركا أو فرنسا أو بريطانيا؟ أم تراكم تتطلعون إلى الثورات العالمية الصادرة من آبار النفط والغاز في السعودية والإمارات والكويت وقطر، أم تصلّون الليل والنهار علّ مصر تستفيق من غفوتها لساعات… هاكم المنظر الجميل من حولكم: فلسطين لم يبقَ منها شيء، والدمار أتى على سوريا والعراق واليمن وليبيا، والأردن يعيش على حافة القبر، بينما يغلي المغرب العربي في انتظار انفجار عسى أن يتأخر.

أيها اللبنانيون، نحن عنوان التفاهة الكاملة. حكومةً وشعباً ومؤسسات. زعامات وقيادات وجماهير. نحن اللاشيء الذي لا يراه أحد بعين الغيرة أو الحسد. نحن لا نستحق الشفقة… تباً لنا!

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إبن سلمان يطيح بالسعودية حتى في الخليج

يوليو 29, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

الدور الخارجي السعودي يواصل رحلة انحداره الجنونية في سورية والعراق واليمن وقطر وإيران وتركيا مسجلاَ أزمات قريبة من الانفجار مع الكويت وعمان والإمارات. فلم يعد لديه من أصدقاء سوى البحرين بالاستتباع ومصر بالتأييد الخطابي الفارغ، أما الأميركيون فهم أصدقاء وهميون لا يفعلون إلا مصالحهم مع العودة الدورية لابتزاز مملكة آل سعود وسط سخرية عالمية يطلقها الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب في كل مرة ينتزع من الملك سلمان أو ولي عهد محمد أموالاً بالمليارات.

فأين هي المشكلة؟

لا ينتمي النظام السعودي إلى دائرة النظم المتعارف عليها عالمياً. فالوطنية بالنسبة إليه تعني دمج الناس فولكلورياً في عشيرة آل سعود إنّما من دون حقهم الاستحصال على سيطرتها الاقتصادية والسياسية.

كما أنه لا ينتسب إلى دائرة دول جزيرة العرب أو الخليج، فلا يقبل إلا باستلحاقها لبيعة آل سعود كزعامة خليجية وعربية وإسلامية، وإلا فإنه ينصب لها الفِخاخ والمكائد ومشاريع الحروب كما يحدث مع اليمن وقطر حالياً والكويت سابقاً وإيران منذ أربعين عاماً.

ولا ينتسب أيضاً إلى معادلة الدول القومية، ألم يسبق له الاحتراب مع أنظمة البعث في العراق وسورية وليبيا القذافي، مقاتلاً مشروع عبد الناصر بشراسة نادرة وفرت لـ»إسرائيل» فرصة الانقضاض على قواته في 1967.

كما أنه ليس نظاماً إسلامياً، لأنه يستخدم الدين لتقوية نظام آل سعود في ما تعمل الدول الدينية على تدعيم نظامها بتحشيد الناس حوله.

هذا هو النظام السعودي الذي يرفض الأدوار الوطنية والخليجية والعربية والإسلامية والأممية، ما يدل على أنه نظام العائلة الواحدة التي تستبيح لأفرادها السياسة والنفط والمال والدين والمواقع والمناصب.

بهذه المعادلة خرجت السياسة السعودية إلى الجوار العربي والإقليمي والدولي، لكن ما ستر عليها هما النفط والدين في حرميه الشريفين وموسم الحج. هذا إلى جانب الرعاية الأميركية، التي استعملت بدورها الدور السعودي لسببين الاقتصاد ومقارعة الاتحاد السوفياتي في مرحلة ما قبل 1990. هذا ما وفّر للسعودية دوراً وازناً في العالمين العربي والإسلامي، قام على أساس قدرتها على شراء الولاءات بنثر أموال النفط في كل اتجاه يريده أولياء الأمور الأميركيون.

إن ما تسبّب تبديل هذه الوضعية السعودية المريحة هي مرحلة ما بعد انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي في 1989 لأن الأميركيين وضعوا مشروعاً لتفتيت المنطقة العربية، وذلك للمزيد من الإمساك بها وإنهاء الصراع العربي ـ الإسرائيلي والقضية الفلسطينية والتأسيس التدريجي البطيء لعصر الاعتماد على الغاز.

فوضع آل سعود كامل إمكاناتهم الاقتصادية والدينية وعلاقاتهم مع تنظيمات الإرهاب المتقاطعة مع حركتهم الوهابية في خدمة تدمير المنطقة العربية والشرق أوسطية داعمين فيها حصراً الملكية في البحرين لإبادة تيارات معارضة ديمقراطية فيها، وذلك بتثبيت قواعد أميركية وبريطانية وفرنسية وسعودية وأخرى لمجلس التعاون الخليجي ودرك أردني وأدوار استشارية إسرائيلية وقوات آل خليفة.. كل هذا الانتشار موجود على مساحة 500 كلم مربع من أصل 700 كيلومتر هي مساحة البحرين، وبعديد سكان لا يتجاوز 50 ألف نسمة.

ماذا كانت النتيجة؟

أدرك المشروع الأميركي درجة عالية من التراجع والانسداد في سورية والعراق، وانكمش معه الدور السعودي ـ الخليجي الذي خسر كل أدواته، مُخلياً الساح لتقدّم الدور التركي بديلاً منه، أما العنصر الآخر فهو نجاح الصمود الإيراني في مجابهة أقوى مشروع أميركي ـ سعودي ـ إسرائيلي مع الإشارة إلى نجاح اليمنيين في ردع الهجوم السعودي ـ الإماراتي على بلادهم وانتقالهم من الدفاع المتواصل حتى الآن في جبهات متعددة إلى الهجوم داخل الأراضي السعودية بقوات برية وطائرات مسيّرة وصواريخ وصلت إلى مشارف الإمارات.

لقد شكّل هذا التراجع تقلصاً «بنيوياً» في الدور الإسلامي والعربي للسعودية فلم يتبق لها إلا البحرين ومصر، مع الكثير من الخطابات غير المجدية لرؤساء من دول إسلامية في آسيا الوسطى وأفريقيا، معبأة بمديح عاجز عن وقف انهيار دورها.

حتى أن الرئيس المصري السيسي اعتاد على القول إن الخليج جزء من الأمنين القومي المصري والعربي، مضيفاً بأن السعودية هي رأس هذا الأمن، أما عملياً فلا يسمع أحد صوت السيسي في أزمات الخليج حتى أنه يختبئ في قصره ملتزماً صمتاً عميقاً.

هذا ما يدفع بآل سعود لتكثيف دورهم في آخر ما تبقى لهم من زوايا وهي البحرين المطلة على ساحلهم الشرقي، حيث يتعاونون مع ملكها على إيقاع أكبر كمية أحكام بإعدام عشرات المعارضين لأسباب تتعلق بتهم حول نقل أسلحة وتنظيم جمعيات إرهابية، وهي تهم حتى ولو كانت صحيحة لا تستأهل أكثر من بضعة أشهر سجن، لكنه الذعر الذي يدفع السعوديين وآل خليفة إلى إنهاء حياة كل من لا يواليهم، وعلى السمع والطاعة المعمول بها في أراضي الحرمين الشريفين.

من جهة أخرى، أدى هذا الضمور السعودي في الدور إلى انتفاضة دول الخليج على هذه المملكة التي تمسك بهم منذ سبعينيات القرن الماضي، فشعروا أنها فرصة نادرة للخروج من العباءة السعودية وكانت عُمان البادئة، فاستقلت عن الموقف الحربي السعودي والتزمت سياسة حياد بين الأطراف المتعادية، ويتطور موقفها إلى حدود أداء دور وساطة فعلية بين إيران وبريطانيا والولايات المتحدة الأميركية، وترفض أي تنسيق مع السعودية.

كذلك الكويت المعتصمة بحياد وازن، والمنفتحة على العراق، أما قطر فتمكنت بدفع أموال للوالي الأميركي من النجاة من خطر الخنق السعودي ـ الإماراتي.

أما الإمارات، فما أن استشعرت اليأس من السيطرة على اليمن وصمود إيران في وجه الأميركيين والسعوديين والإسرائيليين حتى بدأت تحزم حقائب قواتها من اليمن إلى الإمارات، بشكل تدريجي وتحايلي وسط غضب سعودي منها.

وهكذا يتضح أن تراجع الدور السعودي لا يقتصر على البلاد العربية والإسلامية، لأنه أدرك مهد السعودية في جزيرة العرب ومداها الخليجي المباشر، ما يضعها أمام احتمالين: أما التخلي عن مساندتها للإرهاب الأميركي واكتفائها بإدارة المملكة حصرياً أو استرسالها ببناء علاقات عميقة مع الإسرائيليين وحكام البحرين، على قاعدة الانصياع للأميركيين والاستمرار في الضغط النفطي على روسيا وشراء بضائع صينية لا تحتاجها، وصفقات مع أوروبا لا تجيد استعمالها، يبدو أن رحلة الانتحار السعودي متواصلة لاعتقاد حكامها بأن انسحابهم من تأييد الأميركيين والإسرائيليين لا يبقي لهم أحداً في العالم فيخسرون الحكم والدنيا والدين، وأراضٍ في شبه الجزيرة العربية يحتلونها منذ مطلع القرن الفائت، ويستعبدون سكاناً، قابلين للتمرّد عليهم عند توافر الظروف المناسبة، وهي لم تعد بعيدة.

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