The Power of Siberia, Russian Chinese Cooperation at Mega Levels

Power of Siberia Russia China Gas Pipeline

 

The inauguration of the Power of Siberia project to transport gas from Russia to China will strengthen Russia’s position as the world’s first gas exporter and boost economic relations between the two countries in an unprecedented way.

Thanks to the US politicians getting busy with their inner fights over who won the presidency and later over who is more corrupt with power in a newly controlled country (Ukraine), the excessive use of sanctions, and the anti-‘free trade’ war, other global superpowers are solidifying their positions and leaping ahead in steady growth.

Destroying Syria by the US-led War of Terror was partly because the Syrian President Bashar Assad rejected to isolate Russia and Iran by severing the relations with them and by allowing a Qatari gas pipeline through Syria to Europe which would have starved both the Russian and Iranian nations.

Toppling the Ukrainian state, destroying the country’s economy, and installing puppets there by the US was in part to control the Russia – West Europ gas pipeline.

From here comes the added importance of this project that would supply the Chinese economy with flowing energy source for the coming 3 decades, provide the Russian economy with a considerable steady income for the coming 3 decades, and hurting further the US dollar as this ‘energy’ project uses the currencies of both nations and not the currency that controlled the energy production and trade for at least half a century.

Oddly enough it didn’t seem to be of concern to the US politicians and usual Pentagon propagandists to start with demonizing it and then analyzing their losses from creating enemies around the globe instead of engaging positively with the world, especially the established civilizations.

The following report by the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen news channel sheds some light on the global event:

Video

The video is also available on BitChute: https://www.bitchute.com/video/S7Y4W8hUNnsU/

It is a historic event according to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the opening of the Power of Siberia pipeline between Russia and China will bring about a change in the world’s energy projects, not just between the two countries.

The inauguration, with the participation of the two heads of state on both sides of the border, was accelerated after the completion of the first phase of the project ahead of schedule, a phase, costing an estimated $ 20 billion out of $ 400 billion, the total cost of the Power of Siberia project.

This huge 30-year project was agreed between Moscow and Beijing via Russia’s Gazprom and China National Oil and Gas Company in 2014, it is the largest project to transport gas from eastern Russia to China, 4,500 kilometers of pipelines produced with a new and innovative technologies are supposed to transport 38 billion cubic meters of Russian gas annually to China, this puts Russia at the forefront of natural gas providers for this country, which is the fastest-growing economy in the world today.

The Power of Siberia is one of 40 strategic economic agreements between the two countries over the past five years to enhance their cooperation in various fields, the level of cooperation in military production between them has risen in an unprecedented way, Russian and Chinese banks have given financial guarantees for trade using the currencies of the two countries amounting to tens of billions of dollars, the trade between the two neighbors, which share about 4,000 kilometers borders, jumped to $ 100 billion last year alone, this figure is expected to double over the next year.

End of the video English translation transcript.

Following is the Arabic transcript of the video:

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قوة سيبيريا

افتتاح مشروع قوة سيبيريا لنقل الغاز من روسيا إلى الصين سيعزز موقع روسيا كمصدّر أول للغاز في العالم ويعزز العلاقات الاقتصادية بين البلدين بشكل غير مسبوق

هو حدث تاريخي بحسب الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين، افتتاح خط أنابيب قوة سيبيريا بين روسيا والصين كفيل بإحداث تغيير في مشاريع الطاقة في العالم، ليس بين البلدين فقط

الافتتاح الذي شارك فيه رئيسا البلدين كل من جهته على الحدود تم تسريعه بعد إنجاز المرحلة الأولى من المشروع قبل موعدها، مرحلة كلفت تقديرياً نحو 20 مليار دولار من أصل 400 مليار دولار، هي كلفة مشروع قوة سيبيريا الإجمالية

هذا المشروع الضخم، ومدته 30 عاماً، اتفق عليه بين موسكو وبكين عبر شركة غاز بروم الروسية والشركة الصينية الوطنية للنفط والغاز عام 2014 وهو المشروع الأضخم لنقل الغاز من شرق روسيا إلى الصين، إذ يفترض أن تنقل 4500 كيلومتر من الأنابيب المصنّعة بتقنيات جديدة ومبتكرة 38 مليار متر مكعب من الغاز الروسي سنوياً إلى الصين، ما يضع روسيا في مقدمة مزودي الغاز الطبيعي لهذه الدولة التي يعد اقتصادها الأسرع نمواً في العالم اليوم

class=”has-text-align-right” style=”text-align: right;”>قوة سيبيريا واحدة من 40 اتفاقية اقتصادية استراتيجية بين البلدين خلال السنوات الخمس الماضية لتعزيز تعاونهما في مختلف المجالات، مستوى التعاون في الإنتاج العسكري بينهما ارتفع بشكل غير مسبوق، ومنحت المصارف الروسية والصينية ضمانات مالية للتبادل التجاري بعملتي البلدين بلغت عشرات مليارات الدولارات، فيما قفز التبادل التجاري بين الجارتين اللتين يجمعهما نحو 4000 كيلومتر من الحدود إلى 100 مليار دولار خلال العام الماضي فقط، ويتوقع أن يصل هذا الرقم إلى الضعف خلال العام المقبل

Expensive and Humiliating. Poland Bought Gas in the USA (Ruslan Ostashko)

June 30, 2019

TRANSCRIPT:

An extra billion cubic meters of absolutely unnecessary, and highly costing gas, the president of the US has managed to sell it to Polish nationalists. The full beauty of this “Ukrainian victory” can be understood only if you remember the history of the issue.

Andrzej Duda’s visit to Washington was marked not only by loud statements that (showed the depth of the historical illiteracy of the Polish President. http://thesaker.is/the-poles-are-braver-than-the-russians-the-president-of-poland/)

Another highlight of the visit was another deal imposed on Duda in the energy sector.

“Our countries have signed an additional contract for the supply of two billion cubic meters of gas,” the head of the White House said on June 12, noting that the total amount of the contract is about eight billion dollars. The website of the Polish gas operator PGNiG clarifies that the volume of LNG supplied to the country from the US terminal Plaquemines will be increasing starting with 2023 from 1.35 to 3.38 billion cubic meters (after regasification).”

https://ria.ru/20190617/1555578771.html

It has been almost 2 years since one of the best Russian analysts, my friend and colleague Ivan Danilov wrote a material titled “Trump is a vacuum cleaners salesman.” Let me remind you what Ivan wrote in July 2017.

“It would seem that selling liquefied American gas to Poland, which is much more expensive than gas supplied by Gazprom, is a difficult task. More precisely, it is possible to force politicians to make such a decision, but how to make even ordinary voters understand the overpayment, which, according to various estimates, will be from 50% to 150% compared to the price of Russian gas? The American President took one of the most effective trumps from the deck of marked cards of experienced merchants, offering the Poles a bonus in the form of “independence from Russian supplies.” In fact, the American leader said that not just gas is supplied to Poland, but the right American gas “with a taste of independence from Russia”, and, of course, it is implied that such gas should be very expensive, and its consumption is a sign of national success, prestige and belonging to an elite Western club.”

https://ria.ru/20170707/1498046623.html

The devil hides in two things. First, taking into account the LNG purchases in the US and the connection to the Baltic Pipe gas pipeline, Warsaw, starting from 2022, intends to purchase more than 14 and a half billion cubic meters of gas per year. Obviously, it doesn’t need that much. And, secondly, this American gas purchased by the Poles “with a taste of independence from Russia” can not be cheaper than 6-7 dollars per million British thermal units, BTU.

(BTU is an Anglo-Saxon unit of energy, just over a kilojoule. https://www.convertworld.com/ru/energiya/britanskiye-termicheskiye-yedinitsy.html)

So, Russian gas is already at the level of $5 per million of British thermal units. That is, the Poles intend to pay more to the extent of $1 to $2 per million BTU. While the Americans themselves are trying to buy cheaper energy.

The question comes: are people ruling in Warsaw so stupid that they do not understand that they have signed up to buy very expensive gas in quantities that their own country doesn’t need at all?

Turns out Poland plans to resell expensive American gas to other Eastern Europeans. They plan to act as an intermediary and not only to pay for their purchases of expensive energy with other people’s money, but also to get a profit.

“Previously, it was called the concept of ‘three Seas’ or ‘inter-Seas’, and a few years ago put forward the ‘Initiative of the three seas’ (Baltic — Adriatic — Black Sea, BABS). The impetus was the coming to power in the US Donald Trump, who promised ‘to save’ Europe from Russian gas with the help of American LNG. Donald Trump said that this project will provide BABS participants with ‘prosperity and security.’ And then he offered the Europeans to build terminals for American LNG — in the Lithuanian Klaipeda, Polish Swinoujscie and on the Croatian island of Krk in the Adriatic sea. It was assumed that from these terminals the network of gas pipelines would extend to the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Estonia and Lithuania, forming a barrier to gas from Russia to the Western Europe.”

https://ria.ru/20190617/1555578771.html

That is, three members of the EU – Poland, Lithuania and Croatia – imagined themselves the most intelligent, deciding to lick Uncle Sam’s shoes, and at the same time to cash in at the expense of their neighbors. For anyone with a head on their shoulders, the outcome was predictable from the start. But, as shown by the behavior of American satellites, they could not wait to take place of the “heroes” of a known saying: “a Ukrainian is stupider than a crow, but more cunning than the devil.”

As a result, the stupid crows all took a part in the operation BABS – Lithuania got into debt by renting a LNG terminal in Klaipeda, which it will never pay off. Poland is rowing expensive and unnecessary American gas, despite the fact that it does not even have money for, say, the modernization of its entirely coal-fired power plants for another type of fuel. And Croats decided to be the coolest of them all.

“In January 2019, Croatian Energy Minister Tomislav Ćorić, announced that a construction of a re-gasification complex on the island of Krk ‘will be carried out regardless of the lack of interest from natural gas buyers.’ In early February, the final investment decision was made on the project.”

https://ria.ru/20190617/1555578771.html

That is, the example of Lithuanians taught them nothing. They are so stupid that they will build a LNG terminal at a loss.

Why didn’t the BABS project take off? Because Russia has built the Turkish stream. And why Putin was able to agree with Erdogan on the construction of this gas pipeline to supply energy to the Southern and South-Eastern Europe? Because the American “geniuses of geopolitics” tried to overthrow and kill Erdogan by organizing a coup, and Moscow saved him.

Now Russian Prime Minister Medvedev offers Slovaks the natural gas bypassing “Tse-Europe” (Russian social media nickname for Ukraine from the Ukrainian nationalists’ saying ‘Ukraine is the Europe’ which is not true neither geographically, nor historically, demographically or culturally. – S.H.). As for Poland and Croatia, none of the sane buyers thinks about buying natural gas from the US.

Once again, the post-Soviet nationalists will pay in full for the “decommunization” they started and rise in Russophobia. As they are already paying in other energy issues.

I send my warm regards to all who hoped for the collapse of Gazprom, the rupture into shreds of Russian economy and the realization of other collective wet dreams of post-Soviet westophiles.

A thrifty pays twice the price, an idiot – three times, and a Russophobe always overpays.

3000 KM GAS PIPELINE FROM RUSSIA TO CHINA 99% COMPLETE

3000 km Gas Pipeline From Russia To China 99% Complete

Construction of its gas pipeline from Russia to China is 99% finished, Russian energy giant Gazprom has announced. According to reports, the company is planning to start delivering gas to China via the Power of Siberia line as early as December 2019.

Gazprom’s Investor Day presentation in Singapore revealed that in 2019 the company is planning to invest about $2.24 billion into the project. The pipeline is set to deliver 38 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas to China annually.

Gazprom and the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) reached a 30-year agreement for gas supplies via the Power of Siberia gas pipeline in 2014. In September 2018, Gazprom reported that the Russian part of the pipeline, running from Yakutia gas production centers to China’s border, was almost complete. The construction of pipeline on Chinese territory is also almost completed.

Russia Slides Towards Internal Political Crisis (MUST SEE SouthFront video report!)

Source

February 26, 2019

Saker note: a rather harsh criticism of the Russian Government and the Kremlin in this SouthFront analysis.  Sadly, I cannot say that I disagree with what they say.  In fact, I think that they are spot on and that all the “loyal” Kremlin-bots who deny that there is a serious problem in Russia are wrong.  Supporting Vladimir Putin’s struggle to truly make Russia sovereign again and built a new multi-polar world does not at all entail being blind to all the very real mistakes and even faults of the Russian government.  I can only say that I hope that SF is right and that the current lack of support of the Russian people of the government’s neo-liberal/capitalist policies will force Putin to correct the course and return to the kind of social policies the Russian people clearly want.  It is also high time for Russia to take a harsher stance on the Ukraine, if only because the situation in the Ukraine (political and economic) is a total disaster and because some kind of military escalation in the Ukraine seems inevitable.  All in all, yet another absolutely superb report by SouthFront who sober analysis contrasts favorably with what both flag-wavers and fear-mongers typically produce.

https://southfront.org/wp-content/plugins/fwduvp/content/video.php?path=https%3A%2F%2Fsouthfront.org%2Finternal-political-crisis-russia%2F&pid=1583

Transcript:

This is a critical look at the situation in Russia. The video is based on an article of one of our readers and additional data.

The Russia of 2019 is in a complicated economic and even political situation. Smoldering conflicts near its borders amid continued pressure from the US and NATO affect the situation in the country negatively. This is manifested in society and in national politics. The approval rating of the Russian government and personally of President Vladimir Putin has been decreasing.

According to VCIOM, a state pollster, in January 2019, Putin’s confidence rating was only 32.8%. This is 24% less than in January 2018 when it was 57.2%. At the same time, the confidence rating of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was 7.8%. The approval rating of his cabinet is 37.7% while the disapproval rating is 38.7%. Opposition sources show data, which is far worse for the current Russian leadership.

This tendency is not linked to the foreign policy course of the Kremlin. Rather, it’s the result of the recent series of liberal-minded economic reforms, which look similar to the approaches exercised by the Russian government in the mid-1990s. The decision to increase Value Added Tax amid the slowing Russian economy, especially in the industrial sector, and a very unpopular pension reform increasing the retirement age were both factors contributing to the further growth of discontent in the population.

Russia’s GDP increased by 2.3% in 2018 compared to 1.6% in 2017. However, the Ministry of Economic Development, in its document entitled “Economic Picture” stated that this is linked to “one-time factors” and is not “stable”. The ministry maintained its earlier forecast stating that GDP growth in 2019 will be 1.3%. It confirmed increasing capital outflow. In this case, the repayment of funds to Western creditors by the Russian private sector is one of the causes.

The Ministry of Economic Development also pointed out that the expendable income of the population decreased by 0.2%. Statutory charges, including the increased taxes, are named as one of the reasons. The document says that statutory charges grew by 14.8% in 2018.

Additionally, the population is facing an increasingly restrictive administrative pressure: new fines and other penalties for minor violations in various fields and additional administrative restrictions limiting the freedom of actions of citizens. Restrictive traffic management of big cities, increasing fees for using federal highways as well as policies that are de-facto aimed at small business and self-employed persons are among its landmarks.

Meanwhile the general population has no effective levers of pressure to affect or correct government policy. The public political sphere has become a desert. United Russia (Edinaya Rossiya) is the only political party still de—facto existing in public politics. By now its ideological and organizational capabilities have become exhausted. Other “political parties and organizations” are just media constructs designed to defend the interests of a narrow group of their sponsors. It is hard to find a lawmaker in the State Duma or the Federation Council, who is not affiliated with the cliquish top political elite and oligarch clans.

In the media sphere, the government has failed to explain its current course to the population. A vast majority of the initiatives of Medvedev’s cabinet face a negative reaction from the population. A spate of scandals involving high and middle level government officials made the situation even worse. These cases revealed blatant hypocrisy and the neglectful attitude to duties of some Russian officials.

Some of the officials even became heroes of nationwide memes. Probably, the most prominent of these heroes are Minister of Labour and Employment of the Saratov region Natalia Sokolova and Head of Department for Youth Policy in the Sverdlov Region Olga Glatskikh.

Sokolova advised Russian pensioners to eat “makaroshki” [a derogatory term for maccheroni] to save money and to thus become able to survive on the subsistence minimum of 3,500 RUB [about 50 USD] per month.

“You will become younger, prettier and slimmer! Makaroshki cost is always the same!”, she said during a meeting of the regional parliamentary group on social policy in October 2018 adding that discounted products can be used to create a “balanced, but dietic” menu.

Glatskikh became a meme hero thank to her meeting with young volunteers during the same month. Commenting on the possible financing of youth projects, she told volunteers that the government did not ask their parents “to give birth” to them. So, they should expect nothing from the state.

In the period from 2018 to 2019, there were multiple arrests of officials caught exceeding the limits of their authority and being involved in corruption schemes. In comparison to previous periods, this number had increased by 1.5-2 times. The most recent detention took place right in the Parliament building on January 30. A 32-year-old senator, Rauf Arashukov, is suspected of being a member of a criminal group involved in the 2010 murders of two people and in pressuring a witness to one of the killings. On the same day, authorities detained his father, an adviser to the chief executive of a Gazprom subsidiary, Raul Arashukov. He is suspected of embezzling natural gas worth 30 billion rubles ($450 million).

However, these actions do not appear to be enough to change the established media situation. After a large-scale corruption scandal in the Ministry of Defense in 2012, which led to almost no consequences for key responsible persons including former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, who even continued his carrier in state-linked corporation Rostec. The general public has serious reservations about any real success of anti-corruption efforts.

The aforementioned factors fuel the negative perception of the Medvedev government and Vladimir Putin as the head of state among Russian citizens.

The 2014 events in Crimea showed to the Russian population that its state is ready to defend the interests of the nation and those who describe themselves as Russians even by force of arms. This was the first case when this approach was openly employed in the recent history of Russia. Therefore, the population was enthusiastic and national pride was on the rise. However, the Kremlin failed to exploit these gained opportunities and did not use them to strengthen the Russian state. In fact, up to February 2019, the policy towards eastern Ukraine has been inconsistent. At the same time, Moscow continues to lose its influence in post-Soviet states. This can be observed in both the Caucasus and Central Asia. Even, their close ally, Belarus, occasionally demonstrates unfriendly behavior and focuses its own efforts on the exploitation of economic preferences granted by Russia.

Evaluating the current internal political situation in Russia and its foreign policy course, it’s possible to say that the Russian leadership has lost its clear vision of national development and a firm and consistent policy, which are needed for any great power. Another explanation of this is that the Russian leadership is facing pressure from multiple agents of influence, which stand against vision of a powerful independent state seeking to act as one of the centers of power on the global stage. One more factor, often pointed out by experts, is the closed crony-caste system of elites. This system led to the creation of a leadership, which pursues its own narrow clannish interests. Apparently, all of these factors influence Russian foreign and domestic policies in one way or another.

The aforementioned large-scale anti-corruption campaign, regarding the people’s show-me attitude towards its result, could be a sign of a new emerging trend, which would lead to a purge of the corrupt elites and to strategic changes in Russian domestic policy.

It is highly likely that Russia will face hard times in the next two years (2019-2020) and face various threats and challenges to its economy, foreign policy course and even to its statehood.

Washington Cheats its Way into the EU Energy Market, Yet it Lives Off Russian Gas

Source

RLNG564522

Over the past two years, Washington has been adamant in its attempts to pursue a dominant position on the international energy markets in accordance with the strategy presented by Donald Trump, which included an aggressive takeover of the European market by ensuring its LNG supplies to the EU, while using every dirty trick in the book to somehow push Russia out of it, in spite of the fact the latter remains the strongest competitive on it for decades

Just recently, the US house of representatives has approved a largely symbolic resolution expressing opposition to Gazprom’s 11 billion dollars worth natural gas pipeline known as Nord Stream 2, on grounds that «the project will boost the Kremlin’s control over Europe’s energy supplies» (sic!).

To be more specific, the bill finds that the pipeline is a “drastic step backwards for European energy security and United States interests,” and calls for European governments to reject the project. The measure also urges the Trump to administration to “use all available means to support European energy security.”

At this point it’s clear that Washington would basically use every political and military lever it has in a desperate bid to low-kick Russian. It goes without saying that the ongoing US attempts to prevent the construction of Nord Stream-2 that will prevent European consumers to enjoy a steady supply of cheap gas from Russia, as the US is forcing European governments into building expensive LNG terminals so that they can import expensive gas from the United States. It’s ironical that while Moscow has made the decision to foot the bill for the construction of its pipeline, Washington is too cheap to invest a single cent in the construction of LNG terminals across the EU, forcing the costs on European consumers.

It goes without saying that hardly anyone today has any doubts about the fact that if American gas was a competitively viable alternative, the United States would not have such a hard time twisting the hands of European governments for them to support its LNG fantasies.

And while most Western media sources are busy telling us that America is on track to become the dominant exporter of LNG, the Economist would reveal that:

But the big problem with its LNG, is that it is more expensive than pipelined gas from Russia. American LNG exporters need to sell in Europe for at least 6-7 dollars per million British thermal units to cover the costs of freezing, shipping and re-gasification. By contrast Russia’s long-run marginal cost of supply to Europe is only about 5 dollars per British thermal units. American LNG is also more expensive than LNG from Qatar and some African countries because gas in America is more costly to extract, and the distances it has to travel to the customer are longer.

Is it any wonder then that last year Europe imported eight times more gas by pipeline than in the form of LNG shipments, with the trend continuing well into 2019. Even though American liquefied gas has never been a viable alternative for European consumers, the recent gas price spike on the domestic US market makes the rhetorics about American LNG supplies to Europe even more laughable.

Last October, the German foreign ministry released a paper stating that LNG supplies from the US cannot be regarded as a viable alternative to the gas transported via well-established routes. Nevertheless, the idea of forcing Europe into abandoning Russian gas supplies remains a top priority of American policymakers. This fact has been confirmed by the recent statement of America’s ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, who revealed that Washington has a number of yet unused tricks to advance its agenda.

Among those once can name a recent anti-Russian resolution by the European Parliament a month after Sondland’s statement, with PMs casting their votes under an immense pressure applied on them and the states they represent by Washington. This resolution calls on all EU members states to oppose the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

In order to persuade the EU to shoot itself in the foot, Washington has recently started placing a particular emphasis on supporting the Polish Three Seas Initiative, a project aimed at bring closer the twelve anti-Russian states between the Adriatic, Baltic and the Black Sea closer together. Those states are Poland, Croatia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. According to the assurances of Polish politicians, the deepening of the military, economic and ideological partnership of the Three Seas Initiative will create a sanitary cordon at the eastern borders of the Eurasian Union, thus achieving NATO’s policy of containing Russia, while cutting off its gas supplies to the EU.

As for Poland, it has recently become the most active supporter of Washington’s ideas about the bright future of American LNG supplies to Europe. Last October, Poland’s oil and gas company PGNiG signed a 20-year contract with the American company Venture Global on the supply of 2 million tons of LNG (which amounts to 2.7 billion cubic meters after deliquification). At the same time, Warsaw launched a propaganda campaign aimed at persuading its own citizens and the rest of the world that the US will be able to somehow start selling gas across Europe some 30% below the market price.

However, there are facts that look particularly remarkable against this background. First of all, the head of PGNiG refused to reveal the price at which it’s been buying American LNG gas. Then, Poland, in spite of being one of the world’s most dire opponents of Russia and everything that is related to it, oddly enough, over the past six months Poland has increased the import of Russian gas by 0.4 billion cubic meters – which constitutes a 6% increase over the last year! Thus, within 9.5 months of 2018, Poland bought the same amount of Russian gas as it did in 2015!

To make the matters even more grotesque, at the very end of 2018 a n LNG tanker left sailed off the the Russian shores and set its course for the United States of America. Back then it was reported that this shipment was bound to satisfy the needs of the residents of the east coast of the US. And all this is happening the backdrop of a massive hysteria in the media, with Western officials claiming that the US is more than capable to replace Russia on the European energy market! It’s simply ridiculous.

Jean Périer is an independent researcher and analyst and a renowned expert on the Near and Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook“. 
https://journal-neo.org/2019/01/10/washington-is-cheating-its-way-into-the-eu-energy-market-while-it-lives-off-russian-gas/

Erdogan, MBS, Islamic leadership and the price of silence

November 21, 2018

The House of Saud’s ties to the Khashoggi slaying are being milked by the Turkish President for maximum benefit amid debate on leadership of the Islamic world and how the crisis may affect US and Saudi strategy in the Middle East

Erdogan, MBS, Islamic leadership and the price of silence

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with The Asia Times by special agreement with the author)

It was packaged as a stark, graphic message, echoing across Eurasia: Presidents Erdogan and Putin, in a packed hall in Istanbul on Monday, surrounded by notables, celebrating completion of the 930 kilometer-long offshore section of the TurkStream gas pipeline across the bottom of the Black Sea.

This is no less than a key landmark in that fraught terrain I named ‘Pipelineistan’ in the early 2000s. It was built by Gazprom in only two and a half years despite facing massive pressure from Washington, which had already managed to derail TurkStream’s predecessor, South Stream.

TurkStream is projected as two lines, each capable of delivering 15.75 billion cubic meters of gas a year. The first will supply the Turkish market. The second will run 180 km to Turkey’s western borderlands and supply south and southeast Europe, with first deliveries expected by the end of next year. Potential customers include Greece, Italy, Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary.

Call it the Gazprom double down. Nord Stream 1 and 2 supply northern Europe while TurkStream supplies southern Europe. Pipelines are steel umbilical cords. They represent liquid connectivity at its best while conclusively decreasing risks of geopolitical friction.

Turkey is already being supplied by Russian gas via Blue Stream and the Trans-Balkan pipeline. Significantly, Turkey is Gazprom’s second largest export market after China.

Erdogan’s speech, strenuously emphasizing the benefits of Turkey’s energy security, was played and replayed all across a rainy, ultra-congested Istanbul. To witness this geopolitical and geoeconomic breakthrough was particularly enlightening, as I was deep into discussing Turkish geopolitics with members of the progressive Turkish Left.

Even the opposition to what in Europe is routinely defined as Erdogan’s brand of “Asian illiberalism” concedes Turkey-Russia trade connectivity – in energy, in the military domain via the sale of the S-400 missile system, in the building of nuclear power plants – has been conducted with consummate skill by Erdogan, who is always careful to send direct and indirect messages to Washington that Turkish national interests will not be compromised.

The big prize: leading Islam

Now juxtapose this developing entente cordiale between the Bear and the (aspiring) Sultan with the gripping drama in Istanbul. Ibrahim Karagul – never afraid to apply a Rabelais touch – is always useful as a mirror reflecting the state of play of AKP circles around Erdogan.

For this political elite, a breakthrough in the Erdogan-conducted “Death By a Thousand Leaks” is imminent, allegedly proving that Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) directly gave the order for the killing and slaying of Jamal Khashoggi.

The consensus among the AKP leadership – confirmed by independent Left academics – is that the US-Israel-House of Saud-UAE axis is deep in negotiations to extricate MBS from any culpability.

That includes key items in the hefty Erdogan “package” dangled to the axis to essentially buy Ankara’s silence – an end of the Saudi blockade on Qatar and the extradition of Fetullah Gulen, described across the Turkish political spectrum as the leader of FETO (the Fetullah Terrorist Organization).

The Kremlin and the Russian Foreign Ministry are very much aware that the high-stakes game goes way beyond ‘Pulp Fiction’ in Istanbul and the Astana peace process on Syria – carefully micro-managed by both Putin and Erdogan alongside Iran’s Rouhani. The big prize is no less than the leadership of the Islamic world.

There is nowhere better than a few stops in select landmarks of Ottoman imperial power, or a lively conversation at Istanbul’s Old Book Bazaar, to be reminded that this was the seat of the Islamic Umma for centuries – a role usurped by those Arabian desert upstarts.

Alastair Cooke has captured with perfection the House of Saud’s close involvement in the slaying of Khashoggi and how this raises questions about Saudi Arabia’s status as “no more than an inept Custodian of Mecca and Medina”. This is indeed splashed all over the – Erdogan-aligned – Turkish media. And Cooke notes how this status “would strip the Gulf of much of its significance and value to Washington”.

My ongoing conversations with progressive, Kemalist Turkish academics – yes, they are a minority – have unveiled a fascinating process. The Erdogan machine has sensed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to simultaneously bury the House of Saud’s shaky Islamic credibility while solidifying Turkish neo-Ottomanism, but with an Ikhwan framework.

And that’s the rationale behind Erdogan and Turkish media relentlessly denouncing what is interpreted as a plot concocted by MBZ (MBS’s puppet master), Tel Aviv and the Trump administration.

No one can possibly advance the endgame. But that carries the strong possibility of a dominant, Erdogan-led Turkey all across the lands of Islam, allied with Qatar and also with Iran. Plus all of the above enjoying very close geopolitical and economic relations with Russia. Expect major fireworks ahead.

Erdogan, MBS, Islamic leadership and the price of silence

By Pepe Escobar
Source

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, shakes hands with his Russian leader Vladimir Putin during a meeting in Tehran on September 7, 2018. Photo: AFP / Kirill Kudryavtsev

The House of Saud’s ties to the Khashoggi slaying are being milked by the Turkish President for maximum benefit amid debate on leadership of the Islamic world and how the crisis may affect US and Saudi strategy in the Middle East

It was packaged as a stark, graphic message, echoing across Eurasia: Presidents Erdogan and Putin, in a packed hall in Istanbul on Monday, surrounded by notables, celebrating completion of the 930 kilometer-long offshore section of the TurkStream gas pipeline across the bottom of the Black Sea.

This is no less than a key landmark in that fraught terrain I named ‘Pipelineistan’ in the early 2000s. It was built by Gazprom in only two and a half years despite facing massive pressure from Washington, which had already managed to derail TurkStream’s predecessor, South Stream.

TurkStream is projected as two lines, each capable of delivering 15.75 billion cubic meters of gas a year. The first will supply the Turkish market. The second will run 180 km to Turkey’s western borderlands and supply south and southeast Europe, with first deliveries expected by the end of next year. Potential customers include Greece, Italy, Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary.

Call it the Gazprom double down. Nord Stream 1 and 2 supply northern Europe while TurkStream supplies southern Europe. Pipelines are steel umbilical cords. They represent liquid connectivity at its best while conclusively decreasing risks of geopolitical friction.

Turkey is already being supplied by Russian gas via Blue Stream and the Trans-Balkan pipeline. Significantly, Turkey is Gazprom’s second largest export market after China.

Erdogan’s speech, strenuously emphasizing the benefits of Turkey’s energy security, was played and replayed all across a rainy, ultra-congested Istanbul. To witness this geopolitical and geoeconomic breakthrough was particularly enlightening, as I was deep into discussing Turkish geopolitics with members of the progressive Turkish Left.

Even the opposition to what in Europe is routinely defined as Erdogan’s brand of “Asian illiberalism” concedes Turkey-Russia trade connectivity – in energy, in the military domain via the sale of the S-400 missile system, in the building of nuclear power plants – has been conducted with consummate skill by Erdogan, who is always careful to send direct and indirect messages to Washington that Turkish national interests will not be compromised.

The big prize: leading Islam

Now juxtapose this developing entente cordiale between the Bear and the (aspiring) Sultan with the gripping drama in Istanbul. Ibrahim Karagul – never afraid to apply a Rabelais touch – is always useful as a mirror reflecting the state of play of AKP circles around Erdogan.

For this political elite, a breakthrough in the Erdogan-conducted “Death By a Thousand Leaks” is imminent, allegedly proving that Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) directly gave the order for the killing and slaying of Jamal Khashoggi.

The consensus among the AKP leadership – confirmed by independent Left academics – is that the US-Israel-House of Saud-UAE axis is deep in negotiations to extricate MBS from any culpability.

That includes key items in the hefty Erdogan “package” dangled to the axis to essentially buy Ankara’s silence – an end of the Saudi blockade on Qatar and the extradition of Fetullah Gulen, described across the Turkish political spectrum as the leader of FETO (the Fetullah Terrorist Organization).

The Kremlin and the Russian Foreign Ministry are very much aware that the high-stakes game goes way beyond ‘Pulp Fiction’ in Istanbul and the Astana peace process on Syria – carefully micro-managed by both Putin and Erdogan alongside Iran’s Rouhani. The big prize is no less than the leadership of the Islamic world.

There is nowhere better than a few stops in select landmarks of Ottoman imperial power, or a lively conversation at Istanbul’s Old Book Bazaar, to be reminded that this was the seat of the Islamic Umma for centuries – a role usurped by those Arabian desert upstarts.

Alastair Cooke has captured with perfection the House of Saud’s close involvement in the slaying of Khashoggi and how this raises questions about Saudi Arabia’s status as “no more than an inept Custodian of Mecca and Medina”. This is indeed splashed all over the – Erdogan-aligned – Turkish media. And Cooke notes how this status “would strip the Gulf of much of its significance and value to Washington”.

My ongoing conversations with progressive, Kemalist Turkish academics – yes, they are a minority – have unveiled a fascinating process. The Erdogan machine has sensed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to simultaneously bury the House of Saud’s shaky Islamic credibility while solidifying Turkish neo-Ottomanism, but with an Ikhwan framework.

And that’s the rationale behind Erdogan and Turkish media relentlessly denouncing what is interpreted as a plot concocted by MBZ (MBS’s puppet master), Tel Aviv and the Trump administration.

No one can possibly advance the endgame. But that carries the strong possibility of a dominant, Erdogan-led Turkey all across the lands of Islam, allied with Qatar and also with Iran. Plus all of the above enjoying very close geopolitical and economic relations with Russia. Expect major fireworks ahead.

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