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.

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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

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