China’s Iran Deal Is Just the Beginning ” الاتفاقية مع إيران استراتيجية صينية أشمل لتنمية نفوذها في الشرق الأوسط

الاتفاقية مع إيران استراتيجية صينية أشمل لتنمية نفوذها في الشرق الأوسط

الكاتب: إيرييل ديفيدسون وآري سيكوريل
المصدر: ذا ناشونال إنترست
اليوم 7/4/2021

ينما تسعى بكين إلى تحقيق توازن للقوى في المنطقة لمنافسة الدول الغربية، فإن العبء يقع على عاتق إدارة بايدن لتحدي مكائد الصين في الشرق الأوسط.

وزير الخارجية الإيراني محمد جواد ظريف ونظيره الصيني وانغ يي.
وزير الخارجية الإيراني محمد جواد ظريف ونظيره الصيني وانغ يي يتبادلان وثائق الاتفاقية

كتبت إيرييل ديفيدسون بالاشتراك مع زميلها آري سيكوريل، وهما محللان وباحثان في مركز بحثي صهيوني أميركي مرتبط بـ”إسرائيل”، مقالة مشتركة في مجلة “ذا ناشونال انترست” الأميركية، يحرضان فيها واشنطن على الاتفاقية الصينية الإيرانية، إذ دعيا الولايات المتحدة إلى منع الصين من دعم خصوم الولايات المتحدة أو اكتساب نفوذ شديد على شركاء الولايات المتحدة في المنطقة.

وفي ما يلي ترجمة بتصرف للمقالة:

أعلنت الصين وإيران أخيراً عن “شراكة استراتيجية شاملة” لمدة خمسة وعشرين عاماً، تسعى إلى زيادة التعاون العسكري والدفاعي والأمني ​​بين إيران والصين، مما أثار فزع خصوم البلدين.

لا يشير الاتفاق إلى تجسيد تحالف إيران والصين، ولكنه يشير بدلاً من ذلك إلى استراتيجية صينية أوسع لتنمية نفوذها في الشرق الأوسط. ومن المفارقات أن هذا يأتي في وقت ظهر فيه إجماع من الحزبين في واشنطن على أن الولايات المتحدة يجب أن تقلل من مشاركتها في الشرق الأوسط لمواجهة التحدي الذي تشكّله الصين الصاعدة.

يُظهر الاتفاق الإيراني الصيني أن الشرق الأوسط ساحة مهمة لمنافسة القوى العظمى الناشئة مع الصين. تحتاج الولايات المتحدة الآن إلى منع الصين من تعزيز خصوم الولايات المتحدة واكتساب نفوذ شديد على شركاء الولايات المتحدة في المنطقة.

بالنسبة للإيرانيين، لا يمكن أن يكون توقيت الاتفاق أكثر ملاءمة. إن طهران بحاجة ماسة إلى السيولة بعد أن شلت العقوبات الأميركية اقتصاد البلاد وتأمل أن يخفف الاتفاق مع الصين من سطوة العقوبات الأميركية. مع كون الصين مشترياً مفترضاً لصادرات النفط الإيرانية لعقود مقبلة عدة، فإن جهود إدارة الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن لجر طهران إلى طاولة المفاوضات ستثبت أنها أكثر صعوبة.

وفي الوقت نفسه، ستكسب الصين إمدادات النفط من إيران لتغذية اقتصادها سريع النمو، وشريكاً إقليمياً يشاركها مصلحتها في كبح الامتداد العالمي لقوة الولايات المتحدة.

وبالتالي، قد يكون التأثير الفوري للاتفاق هو قيام الصين عن غير قصد بتسهيل المزيد من التخصيب النووي الإيراني. لكن من غير المرجح أن تنتهي آثاره المزعزعة للاستقرار عند هذا الحد، لأن مصلحة الصين تمتد عبر المنطقة.

بالإضافة إلى إبرام الاتفاقية، تضمنت رحلة وزير الخارجية الصيني وانغ لي إلى الشرق الأوسط كذلك تشكيل خطة أمنية إقليمية مع المملكة العربية السعودية، ولقاء في اسطنبول مع نظيره التركي، وإعلان أن الإمارات ستنتج جرعات لقاح سينوفارم الصيني بقيمة مائتي مليون دولار. وفي الوقت نفسه، تعمل الشركات الصينية المملوكة للدولة على توسيع استثماراتها في “إسرائيل” والسعودية والإمارات العربية المتحدة كجزء من “مبادرة الحزام والطريق”.

يأتي هذا النمط المتزايد من المشاركة الإقليمية الصينية، إلى جانب الوعود السخية، وإن لم تكن واقعية تماماً، بالاستثمار الأجنبي في وقت تقوم فيه الولايات المتحدة بتقليص وجودها في الشرق الأوسط وإعادة تموضعها بشكل متوازن. قد يبدأ شركاء الولايات المتحدة التقليديون، برؤية إيران تستفيد من السخاء الصيني وعلاقاتهم الخاصة بواشنطن، في النظر إلى الصين على أنها بديل جذاب بشكل متزايد.

تمثل أنشطة الصين في الشرق الأوسط خطراً على الولايات المتحدة لأن الصين تلعب في الميدان بطريقة سياسية واقعية بالكامل – فقد تدعم أعداء أميركا (على غرار إيران) أو قد تحاول استمالة حلفاء الولايات المتحدة (على غرار “إسرائيل”). بكين ليس لديها ولاءات. إنها تسعى لتقوية خصوم الولايات المتحدة أو سرقة شركائها التقليديين.

إن واشنطن ليست عاجزة عندما يتعلق الأمر باحتواء النفوذ الصيني في المنطقة. تحتاج الولايات المتحدة إلى استراتيجية مدروسة للتخفيف من سعي الصين لتحقيق نفوذ أكبر في الشرق الأوسط، استراتيجية تسعى إلى الحد من النفوذ الصيني بين شركاء الولايات المتحدة وإحباط الجهود الصينية لتقوية خصوم الولايات المتحدة. 

ويوصي الكاتبان أن تقوم هذه الاستراتيجية على:

أولاً، يجب أن تعمل واشنطن مع شركائها للحد من وصول بكين إلى البنية التحتية الحيوية والملكية الفكرية والتقنيات بين شركاء الولايات المتحدة. ونظراً لأن منظمتنا، المعهد اليهودي للأمن القومي الأميركي، قدمت أخيراً توصيات “لإسرائيل”، يجب أن يشمل ذلك تمكين الشركاء لتطوير أنظمة رقابة قوية على الاستثمار الأجنبي المباشر والصادرات، وتقديم مصادر تمويل تنافسية لشركات الشرق الأوسط المتعطشة للاستثمار.

في الوقت نفسه، يجب على الولايات المتحدة أن تدرك أنها لا تستطيع منع جميع الأنشطة الاقتصادية الإقليمية الصينية. وبدلاً من ذلك، يجب أن تشجع أميركا الصين على الاستثمار في بناء البنية التحتية غير الحيوية في المنطقة وفي الشركات التي تتعامل مع التحديات المشتركة، مثل الاحتباس الحراري.

وفي التعامل مع المحاولات الصينية لبناء علاقات مع خصوم الولايات المتحدة، قد تحد العديد من التكتيكات “الناعمة” كذلك من قدرة الصين على تكوين علاقات مستقرة مع الأنظمة. على سبيل المثال، فيما يتعلق بطهران، يمكن للولايات المتحدة إطلاق مجموعة من العمليات السيبرانية والمعلوماتية والنفسية التي تركز على الكشف عن التوترات الداخلية الخاصة بين الحكومتين الصينية والإيرانية، والتي قد تشمل الإشارة إلى الإبادة الجماعية المروعة التي ارتكبتها الصين ضد السكان المسلمين الإيغور. (في شينجيانغ) ونفاق الأنظمة الإسلامية التي تتسامح مع ذلك، بحسب توصية الكاتبين.

وفي الجانب الإعلامي، انتقد عدد كبير من الأصوات الغموض والطبيعة السرية لعملية التفاوض بين الصين وإيران، ويجب على الولايات المتحدة تضخيم هذه الأصوات عبر مختلف المنافذ الدولية. ومن شأن حملة منسقة من هذا النوع أن تساعد على تقويض صدق الاتفاقية، وبالتالي تقويض قدرة كل طرف على الاعتماد على بعضه البعض على المدى الطويل.

وختم الكاتبان بالقول: بينما تسعى بكين عن عمد إلى تحقيق توازن القوى في المنطقة لمنافسة الدول الغربية ، فإن العبء يقع على عاتق إدارة بايدن لتحدي مكائد الصين في الشرق الأوسط، والتي تتراوح من التدخل مع شركاء أميركا التقليديين إلى تشجيع خصوم الولايات المتحدة. وأضاف أن الاتفاقية الأخيرة بين الصين وإيران ليست سوى غيض من فيض.

*إيريل ديفيدسون وآري سيكوريل هما محللان سياسيان بارزان في المعهد اليهودي للأمن القومي الأميركي في مركز جيمندر للدفاع والاستراتيجية.

نقله إلى العربية بتصرف: الميادين نت

China’s Iran Deal Is Just the Beginning “

Source

April 6, 2021 

As Beijing deliberately pursues a balance of power in the region to rival Western countries, the onus will fall on the Biden administration to challenge China’s Middle Eastern machinations, which range from intervening with America’s traditional partners to emboldening its adversaries.

by Erielle Davidson Ari Cicurel

China and Iran recently announced a twenty-five-year “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership,” which seeks to increase military, defense, and security cooperation between Iran and China, to the consternation of both countries’ adversaries. 

The pact does not signal the materialization of an Iran-China alliance but instead points to a broader Chinese strategy to grow its influence in the Middle East. Ironically, this comes at a time when a bipartisan consensus has emerged in Washington that the United States should reduce its engagement in the Middle East to address the challenge posed by a rising China.  

The Iran-China deal evinces that the Middle East is an important arena for the emerging great-power competition with China. The United States now needs to prevent China from strengthening U.S. adversaries and gaining predatory influence over U.S. partners in the region. 

For the Iranians, the timing of the deal could not be more apropos. Tehran is desperate for cash after U.S. sanctions have crippled the country’s economy and hopes the pact with China will cushion the blow from U.S. sanctions. With China as a supposed purchaser of Iranian oil exports for several decades to come, the Biden administration’s efforts to drag Tehran to the negotiating table will prove much harder. 

Meanwhile, China is to gain both oil to fuel its rapidly growing economy and a regional partner that shares its interest in curbing the global reach of U.S. power. 

The immediate impact of the deal, thus, might be China unintentionally facilitating further Iranian nuclear enrichment. But its destabilizing effects are unlikely to end there, for China’s interest extends across the region. 

In addition to concluding the pact, Chinese foreign minister Wang Li’s trip to the Middle East also included the formation of a regional security plan with Saudi Arabia, a meeting in Istanbul with his Turkish counterpart, and an announcement that the UAE will produce two hundred million doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine. Meanwhile, Chinese state-owned companies are expanding investments in Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates as part of the Belt and Road initiative.

This increasing pattern of Chinese regional engagement, coupled with generous, if not entirely realistic, promises of foreign investment comes at a time when the United States is reducing and “rebalancing” its presence in the Middle East. Traditional U.S. partners, seeing Iran benefit from Chinese largesse and their own ties to Washington cool, might begin to view China as an increasingly attractive alternative. 

China’s activities in the Middle East present a risk to the United States because China plays the field in a wholly realpolitik fashion—it may support America’s enemies (see Iran) or it may court or attempt to court U.S. allies (see Israel). Beijing has no allegiances. It seeks both to strengthen U.S. adversaries or steal its traditional partners.

Firstly, Washington should work with its partners to limit Beijing’s access to critical infrastructure, intellectual property, and technologies among U.S. partners. As our organization, the Jewish Institute for National Security of America, recently recommended for Israel, this should include both empowering partners to develop robust oversight regimes for foreign direct investment and exports and offering competitive sources of financing for investment-hungry Middle Eastern firms.

Simultaneously, the United States should recognize it cannot block all Chinese regional economic activity and instead, should encourage China to invest in building the region’s non-critical infrastructure and in firms tackling shared challenges, like global warming. 

In dealing with Chinese attempts to build ties with U.S. adversaries, several “soft” tactics also might limit China’s ability to form stable ties with regimes. For example, vis-à-vis Tehran, the United States could launch a combination of cyber, information, and psychological operations centered on revealing privately held internal tensions between the Chinese and Iranian governments, which might include pointing out China’s horrific genocide of its Uighur population and the hypocrisy of the Muslim regimes that tolerate it. 

On the information side, a plethora of voices have criticized the ambiguity and secretive nature of the negotiating process, and the United States should amplify those voices across various international outlets. A coordinated campaign of this nature would help to undermine the sincerity of the pact and, in turn, the ability of each party to rely on each other in the long term. 

As Beijing deliberately pursues a balance of power in the region to rival Western countries, the onus will fall on the Biden administration to challenge China’s Middle Eastern machinations, which range from intervening with America’s traditional partners to emboldening U.S. adversaries. The China-Iran deal is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Erielle Davidson (@politicalelle) and Ari Cicurel (@aricicurel) are senior policy analysts at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America’s Gemunder Center for Defense and Strategy. 

The Russian economy – ‘small’, ‘impotent’, ‘insignificant’: true or false?

The Russian economy – ‘small’, ‘impotent’, ‘insignificant’:  true or false?

April 02, 2021

by Arcturus Le for the Saker Blog

In the west, there is perennial bluster about the putative ‘weakness’ of the Russian economy. It is widely accepted as ‘fact’ that the Russian economy is somewhere miserably outside the ‘Top 10’ global economies by GDP, sinking ever deeper year by year towards #15, embarrassingly behind such smaller countries as South Korea, Canada, Italy and on par with countries like Spain, Australia, and Mexico. In fact, many a snarky joke is bandied about on the Atlanticist web about how ‘Russia’s economy is barely the size of Texas’, etc.

This is a total western generated fabrication. In this article, I will prove the following points: that the Russian economy is actually ranked around the top 5 (and arguably even much higher) most powerful on Earth only behind China, US, Japan, and India; that the 2014 western engineered Ruble crisis crashed the specious ‘Nominal GDP’ of Russia by half while not affecting the true GDP nor economic output of Russia—and how this was affected by the geopolitical factors of the time; and that ‘Nominal GDP’ is a spurious canard that does not apply to Russia due to the fact that Russia is a trade surplus economy, and in fact PPP GDP is the accurate way to measure economies like Russia.

First, let us prove the opening point. Around 2014, oil was pricing steadily in the ~$100-115 per barrel range, as can be seen in the graphic below. Then, in 2014 a major geopolitical crisis developed. The U.S. and the CIA staged the Ukrainian coup called ‘Euromaidan’ that overthrew the legitimate Ukrainian government in the opening months of that year. A month later, Crimea held a democratic referendum and became once again Russian. This was a massive blow to the U.S. geopolitically for which Russia had to be punished as it had now grown too strong, winning a major warm-water port in Sevastopol that could now be used to threaten the western Imperialist/Atlanticist designs in the Middle East by way of a conveniently placed fleet access to the Mediterranean.

The Atlanticists took action and with their Saudi Arabian ‘partners’ (underlings) carried out a plan to crash the price per barrel of oil in order to hurt Russia as much as possible, since its economy at the time was still a bit more dependent upon oil and not as diversified as it is today. Such large tectonic shifts take time so their designs took a year or two to fully percolate down into the markets and by 2015-2016 the price of oil crashed from the aforementioned ~$100-115 per barrel range to the ~$40-50 per barrel range, becoming roughly ~50% of its original price. This chart below clearly demonstrates.

As can be seen, at this exact same time, the Ruble to Dollar conversion rate went from a low of roughly ~37 Rubles to 1 Dollar in 2014 (chart above) soaring to the range of ~60-75 Rubles to 1 Dollar the very next year to exactly coincide with the oil price crash. Miraculously, the devaluation corresponds to the exact timeline and severity of the crash of oil—oil dropped by half from ~$100 to ~$50 and Ruble went from ~35 to ~70 against the Dollar by 2015-2016.

As can be seen by the chart below, Russian GDP according to this source was $2,060 billion in 2014, and like magic by 2016 it was reduced to $1,282 billion. This represents a roughly ~40% decrease in line with the Ruble crash.

But, did Russia change overnight in 2015-2016? Was there panic on the streets, disorder and chaos, complete depredation and disintegration of society? After all, a halving of your GDP almost overnight is of such catastrophic proportions as to be unprecedented in history. Imagine, almost overnight the U.S. GDP going from its current figures to that of its 1960 figures (when it was half of today). What kind of chaos would ensue?

Of course, no such thing occurred in Russia, in fact it was barely noticed. Why? Because, the “Nominal GDP” is a fake, currency manipulated, symbolic number that has no actual basis in reality as pertains to the Russian economy. You see, the Nominal GDP in each country is priced in U.S. Dollars. This works for countries which are Trade Deficit countries. A brief discussion of the difference between Trade Deficit and Trade Surplus must ensue in order to fully understand this point. A country which operates on a Trade Deficit (which is most country’s in the world including the U.S.) simply imports more items than it exports. It is a country that relies on importing goods from other countries to survive. The reason this is important is because, since the global financial system operates on the U.S. Dollar basis in accordance with ‘Dollar Hegemony’ i.e. the Dollar as the reserve currency of the world, this means that when your country IMPORTS items, it is pricing them usually in Dollars. So, in short, this means that the price of your country’s native currency to Dollar conversion is important.

Let’s say you are a Trade Deficit country like India, and let’s say hypothetically that the Indian Rupee converts against the Dollar at 50 Rupees to 1 Dollar. That means, if you are buying an imported item that hypothetically costs $100, if your currency is magically crashed to where the Rupee now trades at 100 Rupees to 1 Dollar, instead of that $100 item costing you (50 x 100) 5,000 Rupees, it now costs you (100 x 100) 10,000 Rupees. So, if your country / entire economy thrives on imports, then one can clearly see how a currency devaluation of 50% can destroy your economy. It means every essential item you import, items vital to the economic engine of your country, have overnight become TWICE as expensive as before. This would lead to economic devastation.

But, what if your country is a TRADE SURPLUS country, a rarer breed of highly self-sufficient economies—a list comprising only the most advanced first world nations such as Germany, Japan, China, etc. Russia is in fact amongst this distinguished list. It has one of the largest trade surpluses in the world, while the U.S. is the world’s biggest Trade Deficit, by far.

So, what happens if you are a Trade Surplus country? This means that your country Exports more than it Imports. It means, in short, that the price conversion of the Dollar to your country’s currency is irrelevant because if you are generating everything your country needs within your own borders (self-sustainability), you are naturally pricing those items you yourself create in your own currency. So, what does it matter if the Russian Ruble goes from 30 Rubles to 1 Dollar, to 1000 Rubles to 1 Dollar? If you’re Russian and you’re not importing anything that’s priced in the Dollar, and you’re buying things within your own country priced in Rubles only, then it makes literally zero difference what the Ruble trades against the Dollar. Inside the borders of your own country, a Ruble is a Ruble, its price conversion to the Dollar has no relevance.

It can be seen here that a native currency devaluation does not have much meaning to a Trade Surplus economy. When a Russian citizen goes to a store and buys items, or a Russian company orders equipment or products, they are ordering them in Rubles because Russia makes their own goods and is self-sustaining. So even if the Ruble skyrocketed to 1 million Rubles to 1 Dollar it would be meaningless if you are not buying anything priced in Dollars.

This means that when the Russian Ruble crashed against the USD in 2015-2016 following the manufactured and engineered geopolitical crisis and massive currency manipulation by the corrupt U.S. global financial system, and the Russian Nominal GDP was shown to crash the equivalent rate (because the Nominal GDP is priced in USD), it was actually meaningless and the Russian economy in fact did not take any such major hit at all. The Russian GDP was shown to devalue from ~2 trillion to 1.2 trillion almost ‘over night’ only because it is being fraudulently priced in USD. All that happened was a mathematical calculation of irrelevant Dollar conversion, but actual Russian production and economic power and output did not experience any such effect whatsoever, it was a smoke and mirrors currency manipulation that existed only in the digital bits and bytes of a computer screen.

So, if we now know that the Russian GDP calculation was incorrect, what is the true way to measure it and what is the real Russian GDP? Since we know that Nominal GDP (which is priced in USD) is a fraudulent way to measure the economic power of Trade Surplus countries like Russia, the answer lies in PPP GDP. And of course, as expected, Russian PPP GDP is so high that it was announced by the IMF itself to have overtaken Germany for the #5 spot last year.

But what is most interesting is, prior to the fake ‘on paper’ devaluation of Russian Nominal GDP following the manufactured crisis of 2014-2016, even Russian Nominal GDP was near the Top 6-8 place (depending on which source you used, IMF, Worldbank, etc.). And now we see the PPP figure matches this rightful, accurate position.

But how do we know the PPP figure is accurate? Can we prove that PPP value is more in line with Russia’s true economic standing than the Nominal GDP value? Well certainly there are a few correlational indicators that can prove this for us. There are several indirect tell-tale signs that experts can use to look past fraudulent currency manipulated GDP numbers and gauge the real economic strength and productive virility of a country.

Let’s take a look at annual oil and electricity usage by country. These are important indicators that very closely correlate with a country’s economic power for reasons that should be self-evident: the more robust one’s economy, the more that country will be utilizing oil and electricity in the daily function and growth of that economic engine.

Some may be unconvinced, until looking at the chart above and seeing how well it correlates to the typical GDP standings. The chart shows oil consumption by country and in fact, the top 10 all looks quite similar to and closely mimics the PPP GDP chart. Russia here is seen at #6 just like in the PPP economic standings (where it is either #5 or #6 depending on source), NOT in #11-15 place as the fraudulent Nominal GDP would have you believe. The skeptic might ask, well wouldn’t a large population country be misrepresented on this chart because they use a lot of oil? To answer that, take Indonesia as an example, it has a population almost double that of Russia, yet it is somewhere in the ~15th place in the oil consumption chart, and not surprisingly that also roughly reflects its place in the GDP standings as well. So, as one can see the size of your country or population count is not reflected in the oil consumption chart, in fact it correlates directly to a country’s GDP, with one or two outlier/flukes such as Saudi Arabia which appears high on the chart owing to its over-reliance on gratuitously consuming vast amounts of oil in the process of producing oil and gas in their oil centered economy. The skeptic might similarly ask, well doesn’t Russia also produce a lot of oil? Yes but in this case, as I’ve said, its position in the oil consumption perfectly matches its GDP PPP position AND there are further indicators below that lay the doubts to rest.

Now let’s look at two other indicators of a robust economy, electricity production and consumption.

As can be seen here, the figures also mimic and correlate the GDP PPP figures. The same countries that dominate the Top 10 economies are seen either producing or consuming electricity at rates that correlate to their economic power. Not coincidentally, here too we see Russia placing near the Top 5, just like in the GDP PPP and quite unlike the fraudulent ~#11-15 placement we see in Nominal GDP. Now remember, these figures are not merely a product of population size. If that was the case, then countries with far larger populations than Russia like Indonesia, Nigeria, Brazil, Bangladesh, and Pakistan would all be way ahead of Russia on the list of energy consumption—yet they are no where on the list. Similarly, countries with SMALLER populations like Germany would not even be in the top 10. Yet Germany is an economic power house and despite having a much smaller population than Russia, appears close to it on the list in perfect accordance with its place on the GDP PPP chart. This clearly indicates that a country’s energy production/consumption is more closely tied to its economic power than mere population size.

Another indicator we can use is total Gold Reserves. These figures also mimic economic standing as only the most economically powerful countries appear in the top 10 in roughly a similar makeup as to their official GDP standings. Gold has long been a telltale indicator of a country’s might, prestige, and economic status. In the chart below, we can see once again, Russia ranks in almost the exact position of its GDP PPP standing as in all the other charts above.

Of course we can use many other indicators, for instance, global military standings. It is widely accepted Russia is at minimum the 2nd most powerful military force on Earth, and the military standings roughly correlate with the same countries in roughly the same positions as they are economically—with the familiar faces of U.S., Russia, China, India, Japan, et al, making up the top of the list. Would you really believe that a country with the acknowledged #2 military on earth is only ranked #15 economically, as per the fraudulent, currency manipulated Nominal GDP list? It beggars all logic. Of course the only rational explanation is that only a country whose economy is in the top 5 powerhouses can maintain the 2nd most powerful military in the world.

One can see that all indicators point to Russia being in the top 5 global economies and that even the fraudulent Nominal GDP figure had Russia at #7 or #8 (depending on source) prior to the artificially engineered oil crisis and currency manipulation that plummeted the Ruble in 2014-2016.

And one last important thing to note. All this discussion revolves around speaking of the Russian economy as if in a vacuum. But one can quickly forget that the Russian economy is arguably the most flagrantly assailed, beleaguered, manipulated, and sabotaged in the world by western/Atlanticist forces. The Russian economy has been under massive sanctions, sabotage, embargoes, etc, since the 2014 crisis began, and yet I have just shown that it is still roughly at the #5 spot right next to the powerhouse of Germany. So, what does this mean? Clearly, that even under intense sabotage and global economic warfare by the entire western political and financial system, even greatly weakened by western forces, the Russian economy is still roughly even with Germany, and only “behind” the U.S., China, Japan, and India (3 of which have vastly larger populations than Russia). Which makes the obvious point that the TRUE Russian economic power, adjusted for the various sanctions and sabotage, is even greater than we can imagine, most likely well ahead of the German and arguably even the Japanese economies.

Understanding anti-Putin PSYOPs: Preparing for war

THE SAKER • MARCH 31, 2021 

Intro: cause vs pretext

It is not an exaggeration to say that in the mythology of the AngloZionist Empire Putin is something akin to Satan or, at least, that he is a kind of “Sauron” who is the epitome of evil. And, we all heard that recently, Biden, in a recorded interview, declared that Putin is “a killer”. When given a chance to soften this statement Jen Psaki did no such thing. We can, therefore, conclude that this was an official, deliberately planned, characterization of the Russian leader.

This kind of language was never used by western officials during the Cold War, at least not on the top levels. So why this seething hatred for Putin?

It is not because he is ex-GPU KGB SSSR. Yuri Andropov was a former KGB Chairman, and he did a lot to strengthen the KGB, its personnel and operations. Yet nobody called him a killer. Neither is this because of Crimea or the Donbass, at least not directly, because when the USSR invaded Czechoslovakia and, before that, Hungary, western politicians did not call Khrushchev or Brezhnev “killers”. It is not because of the shooting down of MH-17 (western leaders all know that these are lies created by western special services), because there have been quite a few civilian airliners shot down by various states, but that did not result in the kind of total demonization of the leaders of these states. I could go on and on, but you get the point: even if we carefully parse all the accusations against Putin, we find out that the kind of total demonization he has been the subject of is quite unique in its intensity and scope.

There is a huge difference between the concepts of “cause” and “pretext”, and all the examples I have given are nothing but pretexts. We need to look at the real causes of such a blind hatred for Putin.

Here we come across another list of possible reasons: first, it is undeniable that while Eltsin almost destroyed Russia as a country, Putin single-handedly “resurrected” Russia in an amazingly short time. From a country which was in tatters and a population which wanted nothing more than to become the next Germany or, failing that, at least the next Poland, Putin turned Russia into the strongest military power on the planet and he completely reshaped the Russian perception of themselves and of Russia. Not only that, but Putin used every single move by the West (like, say, sanctions, boycotts or threats) to further strengthen Russia (by means such as import substitutions, international conferences and military maneuvers). Most importantly, Putin de-coupled Russia from a lot of US controlled institutions or mechanisms, a move which also immensely served Russia.

US politicians spoke of a country with an “economy in tatters” and of a “gas station masquerading as a country”. But in the real world (Zone B), the Russia economy did much better than the western ones and, as for the “energy war” between the US, the KSA and Russia, it ended in a catastrophic defeat for the USA and a triumph for Russia and, to a lesser degree, the KSA.

Then came COVID and the truly epic disaster of the West’s total mismanagement of this crisis. Not only that, but the contrast of how Russia (and China!) handled the crisis and what the West did could not have been bigger. As for Russia being the first country to create a vaccine (by now, no less than three of them actually; now Russia is about to release yet another vaccine, this time protecting animals from COVID) and, worse, the country which created the best vaccine on the planet – this is a PR disaster for the West and there is nothing the West can do to soften the blow. If anything, things are only getting worse as shown by all the coming lockdowns in Europe – contrast that with this photo of happy Lavrov in China wearing a mask with “FCKNG QRNTN” written on it!

But that is not the real reason either, as shown by the fact that the West already hated Putin long before COVID.

The “stolen” Cold War victory

In truth, the West has a very long list of reasons for which to hate Putin and everything Russian, but I believe that there is one reason which trumps them all: the western leaders sincerely believed that they had defeated the USSR in the Cold War (even medals were made to commemorate this event) and following the collapse of the former superpower and the coming to power of a clueless, alcoholic puppet, the triumph of the West was total. At least in appearance. The reality, as always, was much more complicated.

The causes and mechanisms of the collapse of the Soviet Union are not our topic today, so I will just indicate that I believe that the USSR never “collapsed” but that it was deliberately destroyed by the CPSU apparatus which decided to break up the country in order for the Party and Nomenklatura to remain in power, not at the helm of the USSR, but at the helm of the various ex-Soviet republics. Weak leaders and ideologies which nobody really believes in do not inspire people to fight for their rulers. This is why the Russian monarchy collapsed, this is why the masonic democracy of Kerenskii collapsed and this is why the Soviet Union collapsed (this is also one of the most likely reasons for the final collapse of the US as a state).

Putin, who was not very well known in the West or, for that matter, in Russia, came to power and immediately reversed Russia’s course towards the abyss. First, he dealt with the two most urgent threats, the oligarchs and the Wahabi insurrection in the Caucasus. Many Russians, including myself, were absolutely amazed at the speed and determination of his actions. As a result, Putin suddenly found himself one of the most popular leaders in Russian history. Initially, the West went into a kind of shock, then through a process reminiscent of the so-called “Kübler-Ross model” and, finally, the West settled into a russophobic frenzy not seen since the Nazi regime in Germany during WWII.

To understand why Putin is the Devil incarnate, we have to understand that the leaders of the collective West really thought that this time around, after a millennium of failures and embarrassing defeats, the West has finally “defeated” Russia which would now become a leaderless, culture-less, spiritual-less and, of course, history-less territory whose sole purpose would be to provide resources for the “Triumphant West”. Not only that, but the AngloZionist leaders of the Empire executed the 9/11 false flag operation which gave them the pretext needed for the GWOT, but which completely distracted the West from its previous focus on the so-called “Russian threat” simply because by 2001 there was no Russian threat. So there was a certain logic behind these moves. And then, “suddenly” (at least for western leaders) Russia was “back”: in 2013 Russia stopped the planned US/NATO attack on Syria (the pretext here was Syrian chemical weapons). In 2014 Russia gave her support to the Novorussian uprising against the Ukronazi regime in Kiev and, in the same year, Russia also used her military to make it possible for the local population to vote on a referendum to join Russia. Finally, in 2015, Russia stunned the West with an extremely effective military intervention in Syria.

In this sequence, Russia committed two very different types of “crimes” (from the AngloZionist point of view, of course):

  • The minor crime of doing what Russia actually did and
  • The much bigger crime of never asking the Empire for the permission to do so

The West likes to treat the rest of the planet like some kind of junior partner, with very limited autonomy and almost no real agency (the best example is what the USA did to countries like Poland or Bulgaria). If and when any such “junior” country wants to do something in its foreign policy, it absolutely has to ask for permission from its AngloZionist Big Brother. Not doing so is something akin to sedition and revolt. In the past, many countries were “punished” for daring to have an opinion or, even more so, for daring to act on it.

It would not be inaccurate to summarize it all by saying that Putin flipped his finger to the Empire and its leaders. That “crime of crimes” was what really triggered the current anti-Russian hysteria. Soon, however, the (mostly clueless) leaders of the Empire ran into an extremely frustrating problem: while the russophobic hysteria did get a lot of traction in the West, in Russia it created a very powerful blowback because of a typical Putin “judo” move: far from trying to suppress the anti-Russian propaganda of the West, the Kremlin used its power to make it widely available (in Russian!) through the Russian media (I wrote about this in some detail here and here). The direct result of this was two fold: first, the CIA/MI6 run “opposition” began to be strongly associated with the russophobic enemies of Russia and, second, the Russian general public further rallied around Putin and his unyielding stance. In other words, calling Putin a dictator and, of course, a “new Hitler”, the western PSYOPs gained some limited advantage in the western public opinion, but totally shot itself in the leg with the Russian public.

I refer to this stage as the “phase one anti-Putin strategic PSYOP”. As for the outcome of this PSYOP, I would not only say that it almost completely failed, but I think that it had the exact opposite intended effect inside Russia.

A change of course was urgently needed.

The redirection of US PSYOPs against Putin and Russia

I have to admit that I have a very low opinion of the US intelligence community, including its analysts. But even the rather dull US “Russia area specialist” eventually figured out that telling the Russian public opinion that Putin was a “dictator” or a “killer of dissidents” or a “chemical poisoner of exiles” resulted in a typically Russian mix of laughter and support for the Kremlin. Something had to be done.

So some smart ass somewhere in some basement came up with the following idea: it makes no sense to accuse Putin of things which make him popular at home, so let’s come up with a new list of accusations carefully tailored to the Russian public.

Let’s call this a “phase two anti-Putin PSYOP operation”.

And this is how the “Putin is in cahoots with” thing began. Specifically, these accusations were deployed by the US PSYOPs and those in its pay:

  • Putin is disarming Syria
  • Putin will sell out the Donbass
  • Putin is a puppet of Israel and, specifically, Netanyahu
  • Putin is a corrupt traitor to the Russian national interests
  • Putin is allowing Israel to bomb Syria (see here)
  • Putin is selling the Siberian riches to China and/or Putin is subjugating Russia to China
  • Putin is corrupt, weak and even cowardly
  • Putin was defeated by Erdogan in the Nagorno-Karabakh war

The above are the main talking points immediately endorsed and executed by the US strategic PSYOPs against Russia.

Was it effective?

Yes, to some degree. For one thing, these “anti-Russian PSYOPS reloaded” were immediately picked up by at least part of what one could call the “internal patriotic opposition” (much of it very sincerely and without any awareness of being skillfully manipulated). Even more toxic was the emergence of a rather loud neo-Communist (or, as Ruslan Ostashko often calls them “emo-Marxist”) movement (I personally refer to as a sixth column) which began an internal anti-Kremlin propaganda campaign centered on the following themes:

  • “All is lost” (всепропальщики): that is thesis which says that nothing in Russia is right, everything is either wrong or evil, the country is collapsing, so is its economy, its science, its military, etc. etc. etc. This is just a garden variety of defeatism, nothing more.
  • “Nothing was achieved since Putin came to power”: this is a weird one, since it takes an absolutely spectacular amount of mental gymnastics to not see that Putin literally saved Russia from total destruction. This stance also completely fails to explain why Putin is so hated by the Empire (if Putin did everything wrong, like, say Eltsin did, he would be adored in the West, not hated!).
  • All the elections in Russia were stolen. Here the 5th (CIA/MI6 run) column and 6th column have to agree: according to both of them, there is absolutely no way most Russians supported Putin for so many years and there is no way they support him now. And nevermind the fact that the vast majority of polls show that Putin was, and still is, the most popular political figure in Russia.

Finally, the big SNAFU with the pension reform definitely did not help Putin’s ratings, so he had to take action: he “softened” some of the worst provisions of this reform and, eventually, he successfully sidelined some of the worst Atlantic Integrationists, including Medvedev himself.

Sadly, some putatively pro-Russian websites, blogs and individuals showed their true face when they jumped on the bandwagon of this 2nd strategic PSYOP campaign, probably with the hope to either become more noticed, or get some funding, or both. Hence, all the nonsense about Russia and Israel working together or Putin “selling out” we have seen so many times recently. The worst thing here is that these websites, blogs and individuals have seriously misled and distressed some of the best real friends of Russia in the West.

None of these guys ever address a very simple question: if Putin is such a sellout, and if all is lost, why does the AngloZionist Empire hate Putin so much? In almost 1000 years of warfare (spiritual, cultural, political, economic and military) against Russia, the leaders of the West have always hated real Russian patriots and they have always loved the (alas, many) traitors to Russia. And now, they hate Putin because he is such a terrible leader?

This makes absolutely no sense.

Conclusion: is a war inevitable now?

The US/NATO don’t engage in strategic PYSOPs just because they like or dislike somebody. The main purpose of such PSYOPs is to break the other side’s will to resist. This was also the main objective of both (phase one and phase two) anti-Putin PSYOPs. I am happy to report that both phases of these PYSOPs failed. The danger here is that these failures have failed to convince the leaders of the Empire of the need to urgently change course and accept the “Russian reality”, even if they don’t like it.

Ever since “Biden” (the “collective Biden”, of course, not the potted plant) Administration (illegally) seized power, what we saw was a sharp escalation of anti-Russian statements. Hence, the latest “uhu, he is a killer” – this was no mistake by a senile mind, this was a carefully prepared declaration. Even worse, the Empire has not limited itself to just words, it also did some important “body moves” to signal its determination to seek even further confrontation with Russia:

  • There has been a lot of sabre-rattling coming from the West, mostly some rather ill-advsied (or even outright stupid) military maneuvers near/along the Russian border. As I have explained it a billion times, these maneuvers are self-defeating from a military point of view (the closer to the Russian border, the more dangerous for the western military force). Politically, however, they are extremely provocative and, therefore, dangerous.
  • The vast majority of Russian analysts do not believe that the US/NATO will openly attack Russia, if only because that would be suicidal (the current military balance in Europe is strongly in Russia’s favor, even without using hypersonic weapons). What many of them now fear is that “Biden” will unleash the Ukronazi forces against the Donbass, thereby “punishing” both the Ukraine and Russia (the former for its role in the US presidential campaign). I tend to agree with both of these statements.

At the end of the day, the AngloZionist Empire was always racist at its core, and that empire is still racist: for its leaders, the Ukrainian people are just cannon fodder, an irrelevant third rate nation with no agency which has outlived its utility (US analysts do understand that the US plan for the Ukraine has ended in yet another spectacular faceplant such delusional plans always end up with, even if they don’t say so publicly). So why not launch these people into a suicidal war against not only the LDNR but also Russia herself? Sure, Russia will quickly and decisively win the military war, but politically it will be a PR disaster for Russia as the “democratic West” will always blame Russia, even when she clearly did not attack first (as was the case in 08.08.08, most recently).

I have already written about the absolutely disastrous situation of the Ukraine three weeks ago so I won’t repeat it all here, I will just say that since that day things have gotten even much worse: suffice to say that the Ukraine has moved a lot of heavy armor to the line of contact while the regime in Kiev has now banned the import of Russian toilet paper (which tells you what the ruling gang thinks of as important and much needed measures). While it is true that the Ukraine has become a totally failed state since the Neo-Nazi coup, there is now a clear acceleration of the collapse of not only the regime or state, but of the country as a whole. Ukraine is falling apart so fast that one could start an entire website tracking only all this developing horror, not day by day, but, hour by hour. Suffice to say that “Ze” has turned out to be even worse than Poroshenko. The only thing Poroshenko did which “Ze” has not (yet!) is to start a war. Other than that, the rest of what he did (by action or inaction) can only be qualified as “more of the same, only worse”.

Can a war be prevented?

I don’t know. Putin gave the Ukronazis a very stern warning (“grave consequences for Ukraine’s statehood as such“). I don’t believe for one second that anybody in power in Kiev gives a damn about the Ukraine or the Ukrainian statehood, but they are smart enough to realize that a Russian counter-attack in defense of the LDNR and, even more so, Crimea, might include precision “counter-leadership” strikes with advanced missiles. The Ukronazi leaders would be well-advised to realize that they all have a crosshair painted on their heads. They might also think about this: what happened to every single Wahabi gang leader in Chechnya since the end of the 2nd Chechen war? (hint: they were all found and executed). Will that be enough to stop them?

Maybe. Let’s hope so.

But we must now keep in mind that for the foreseeable future there are only two options left for the Ukraine: “a horrible ending or a horror without end” (Russian expression).

  1. The best scenario for the people of the Ukraine would be a (hopefully relatively peaceful) breakup of the country into manageable parts.
  2. The worst option would definitely be a full-scale war against Russia.

Judging by the rhetoric coming out of Kiev these days, most Ukrainian politicians are firmly behind option #2, especially since that is also the only option acceptable to their overseas masters. The Ukrainians have also adopted a new military doctrine (they call it a “military security strategy of Ukraine”) which declares Russia the aggressor state and military adversary of the Ukraine (see here for a machine translation of the official text).

This might be the reason why Merkel and Macron recently had a videoconference with Putin (“Ze” was not invited): Putin might be trying to convince Merkel and Macron that such a war would be a disaster for Europe. In the meantime, Russia is rapidly reinforcing her forces along the Ukrainian border, including in Crimea.

But all these measures can only deter a regime which has no agency. The outcome shall be decided in Washington DC, not Kiev. I am afraid that the traditional sense of total impunity of US political leaders will, once again, give them a sense of very little risk (for them personally or for the USA) in triggering a war in the Ukraine. The latest news on the US-Ukrainian front is the delivery by the USN of 350 tonnes of military equipment in Odessa. Not enough to be militarily significant, but more than enough to further egg on the regime in Kiev to an attack on the Donbass and/or Crimea.

In fact, I would not even put it past “Biden” to launch an attack on Iran while the world watches the Ukraine and Russia go to war. After all, the other country whose geostrategic position has been severely degraded since Russia moved her forces to Syria is Israel, the one country which all US politicians will serve faithfully and irrespective of any costs (including human costs for the USA). The Israelis have been demanding a war on Iran since at least 2007, and it would be very naive to hope that they won’t eventually get their way. Last, but not least, there is the crisis which Blinken’s condescending chutzpah triggered with China which, so far, has resulted in an economic war only, but which might also escalate at any moment, especially considering all the many recent anti-Chinese provocations by the US Navy.

Right now the weather in the eastern Ukraine is not conducive to offensive military operations. The snow is still melting, creating very difficult and muddy road conditions (called “rasputitsa” in Russian) which greatly inhibit the movement of forces and troops. These conditions will, however, change with the warmer season coming, at which point the Ukronazi forces will be ideally poised for an attack.

In other words, barring some major development, we might be only weeks away from a major war.← Uncle Shmuel Is Truly Brain Dead…

The House of Saud Struggles to Normalize Ties with “Israel” As It Sinks in the Yemeni Swamp

The House of Saud Struggles to Normalize Ties with “Israel” As It Sinks in the Yemeni Swamp

By Staff

The father and son relationship between Saudi King Salman and his son the Crown Prince – Mohammed bin Salman [MBS] – is at crossroads regarding the methods in which normalization with the apartheid “Israeli” entity would occur; though the sand kingdom is over its head regarding the consequences of the brutal war it waged on Yemen.

MBS is interested in a normalization with the entity, while King Salman likes the so-called “Arab Peace Initiative”, but the war in Yemen and threats to the Crown Prince at home are keeping them busy.

In a rare speech this week, Salman said Saudi Arabia still adheres to the so-called “Arab Peace Initiative”, which conditions normalization on an “Israeli” withdrawal to the 1967 lines and the establishment of a Palestinian state. But MBS wants to speed up normalization as part of his strategic and, above all, economic vision.

In his speech, King Salman focused on regional affairs: Iran and the “Israeli”-Palestinian so-called “peace” process – though he never mentioned the “Israeli’ entity’s normalization with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Was he trying to prove that he’s still in control of his kingdom and that he still sets foreign policy? Is this an intergenerational dispute, pitting the son’s project against the father’s traditional attitudes?

Saudi Arabia’s decision-making processes are enigmatic, as are relationships among members of the royal family and the kingdom’s domestic and foreign-policy considerations.

Yet, Saudi-“Israeli” normalization – which Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser announced will be happening very soon – seemed to be delayed.

Moreover, it’s not clear whether the delay is a matter of principle – that is, until a Palestinian state arises, or at least until “Israeli”-Palestinian negotiations resume – as King Salman said, or only a temporary one, until MBS manages to persuade him.

The difference in the two royals’ positions also raises another question. Saudi Arabia has provided an umbrella for the latest “peace” deals. Not only did it not condemn them, it praised the UAE and Bahrain for taking this step, which was coordinated with MBS, and opened its airspace to flights to and from the “Israeli” entity.

Not to mention, the public opinion in Saudi Arabia for a historic turnabout in the sand kingdom’s relationship with the “Israeli” entity is being paved.

Though, one issue stays unresolved.

It’s clear that Riyadh need to make peace with Washington, either before or as part of a deal with the “Israeli” entity. The main dispute between them is the war in Yemen, which began after King Salman was crowned in 2015.

In this war, the Saudi and UAE armies have treated Yemen’s civilian population brutally and used American weapons to do so. More than 125,000 people have been martyred, including 14,000 who were killed in deliberate attacks on civilian targets.

Hence, the Saudis’ aggression on Yemen has reappeared on the Washington agenda due to a partially classified report on US involvement in the conflict written by the State Department’s inspector general. The document’s unclassified sections, which were reported in the American media, reveal the magnitude of war crimes by Saudi and Emirati forces and their mercenaries, to the point that the US faces a risk of prosecution at the International Criminal Court.

Oona Hathaway, a former Department of Defense lawyer and now a Yale professor, told The New York Times: “If I were in the State Department, I would be freaking out about my potential for liability. I think anyone who’s involved in this program should get themselves a lawyer.”

Public and international pressure led Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, to freeze an arms deal with Riyadh in 2016 as a way of pressuring the Saudis to change their tactics in Yemen. One year later, Trump reversed that decision and opened the floodgates of US arms sales to the Saudis.

To Trump, Saudi Arabia, he said, has “nothing but cash,” which it uses to buy American services, protection and other goods. Regarding the slaughter of civilians in Yemen, he said the Saudis “don’t know how to use” American weapons.

Congress didn’t believe Trump’s explanations, and in April 2019, it passed a bipartisan resolution calling for an end to US military involvement in Yemen. Trump vetoed the resolution and circumvented the ban on arms sales to Riyadh by declaring a state of emergency over Iran, which allowed him to continue complying with Saudi requests.

The US government did budget $750 million to train Saudi soldiers and pilots on fighting in populated areas, with the goal of reducing harm to civilians. It also gave the Saudis a list of 33,000 targets they shouldn’t strike. But the Saudis don’t seem to have been overly impressed, and violations continue to this day.

Unlike Saudi Arabia, the UAE understood the dangers of its involvement in the war in Yemen and withdrew its forces, overcoming the ban on selling it F-35 fighter jets and other arms. It then overcame the “Israeli” obstacle by signing this month’s so-called “peace” deal.

MBS, who started the war in Yemen along with his father, is still wallowing in the Yemeni swamp that has complicated his relationship with the US. And that’s on top of his resounding failures in managing the Kingdom’s foreign policy, like forcing then-Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign, imposing a blockade on Qatar, waging an unsuccessful oil war with Russia that sent prices plummeting and abandoning the Palestinian issue.

Domestic issues haven’t gone that well for MBS either. His Vision 2030 is stumbling. The Kingdom’s treasury has had problems funding megalomaniac projects like his city of the future, which is supposed to involve three countries (Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan), diversify Saudi Arabia’s sources of income and reduce its dependence on oil. So far, it remains on paper.

He did boast an impressive achievement in the war on corruption when he detained dozens of billionaires at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and shook them down, but this was more about squeezing his political rivals’ windpipes than fighting corruption.

Accordingly, MBS can only envy his friend, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed [MBZ], the UAE’s de facto ruler who extricated his country from the war in Yemen and became Washington’s darling – not only because he normalized ties with the “Israeli” entity. And above all, he isn’t surrounded by hostile relatives.

So the question arises: Did all this happen in defiance of Salman’s wishes?

MBS who according to US intelligence didn’t hesitate to put his own mother under house arrest and keep her away from his father for fear she would work against him – may also prove to be someone who doesn’t see obeying his parents as a cardinal virtue. King Salman may be able to give speeches in support of the Palestinians, but his son, as defense minister, has the power to stage a coup against his father if he thinks this will serve him or his agenda, which might yet include normalizing ties with “Israeli” entity.

Russian Private Military Contractors Took Control Of Libya’s Largest Oil Field

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Washington is concerned by the growing Russian influence in Libya as Turkish-led forces are preparing to storm the port city of Sirte, controlled by the Libyan National Army.

On June 26, the US embassy in Libya released a statement claiming that it condemns a “foreign-backed campaign to undermine Libya’s energy sector and prevent the resumption of oil production.”

The statement said that the US shares the “deep concern” of the National Oil Corporation affiliated with the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord about “the shameful interference” of foreign private military contractors against “NOC facilities and personnel at the al-Sharara oil field, which constitutes a direct assault against Libya’s sovereignty and prosperity.”

According to the NOC, on June 25 a convoy of vehicles of Russian private military contractors and other foreign personnel entered the Al-Sharara oilfield and met with representatives of the Petroleum Facilities Guard, a local armed organization allied with the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. The NOC’s chairman Mustafa Sanalla claimed that foreign forces work to “prevent the resumption of oil production” there.

Al-Sharara is the largest Libyan oil field with total proven reserves of 3 billion barrels and an average output of 300,000 barrels per day. It indeed briefly resumed its work in early June when Syrian militants and forces of the Government of National Accord supported by the Turkish military reached the western countryside of the LNA stronghold of Sirte.

However, then, the production there was once again stopped as the LNA stabilized the frontline and demonstrated that it’s still the main power in the east and south of the country.

Earlier, Field Marshal Haftar ordered to block the export of Libyan oil saying that the GNA uses oil revenues to pay Turkey for mercenaries and weapons. The LNA also controls Sirte, the main Libyan port facility for oil exports. So, even in the case of the resumption of the oil output at the frozen oil fields, it’s still able to keep most of its export ban.

The LNA’s prolonged effort against the usage of the country’s natural resources to fund the Turkish intervention of Libya signals that its leadership is still committed to its project of uniting the country and restoring its sovereignty.

LNA forces are preparing to defend Sirte from the large attack for which Turkish-led forces are currently preparing.

Recently, GNA forces and Syrian militant groups deployed west of Sirte received a large batch of weapons and equipment from Turkey. According to photos appearing online, these weapons even included Chinese-made MANPADs of the QW-1 series.

Photos of these MANPADs appeared amid the wave of reports that the LNA Air Force received new combat jets from Russia. While the usage of these mysterious warplanes is still yet to be documented, MANPADs in the hands of Turkish-backed fighters are a confirmed fact.

The Turkish naval group deployed near Libyan shores in the Mediterranean conducts regular readiness drills. In its own turn, the LNA has reportedly prepared Gaddafi-era Scud tactical ballistic missiles for the upcoming battle. Trucks with ballistic missiles moving in the countryside of the city were spotted on June 27.

Pro-GNA sources also claimed that the LNA was deploying additional troops and 2 Pantsir-S air defense systems to Sirte on June 28 and June 29. Without direct military support from abroad the LNA has no resources to overcome the current status quo and deliver a devastating blow to GNA forces assisted by the Turkish military.

However, without larger Turkish involvement in the conflict, GNA forces and Syrian militant groups also lack the needed resources to capture Sirte in the near future.

Related News

Russia’s Massive Oil Projects In Iraq

Source

 16.06.2020 

Russia's Massive Oil Projects In Iraq

In Iraq, a seldom mentioned and noteworthy oil cooperation is carried out between Baghdad and Moscow. Russian companies, namely Rosneft and Lukoil have developed new oil fields in Iraq.

A notable project is Lukoil’s West Qurna-2.

West Qurna-2 field is located in the southern part of Iraq, 65 kilometers north-west of Basra, a major seaport city, and is one of the world’s largest fields. The field’s initial recoverable reserves come to around 14 billion barrels. Its total geological reserves sit at 35 billion barrels of oil.

On December 12, 2009 the consortium of PJSC LUKOIL and Statoil, a Norwegian company, was awarded a contract for the development of West Qurna-2 field, one of the world’s largest fields. On January 31, 2010, a services contract was signed for the development and production at West Qurna-2. The contract was ratified by the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Iraq.

A supplement agreement to the contract was signed in January 2013 that outlined the target contractual production (1.2 million barrels of oil per day) for the target production period of 19.5 years, and a 25-year extension of the contract term.

It has been producing oil since March 29th, 2014.

This was a result of short-term and large-scale field development. This included mine clearance, drilling of 48 production wells, preparation of 5 well sites and construction of large production facilities: oil treatment plants with a capacity of more than 400 thousand barrels per day, a gas turbine power plant with a capacity of 126 MW , water intake on the Euphrates River, an export pipeline of 102 km in length, additional reservoirs at the oil terminal with a total volume of about 200 thousand cubic meters, as well as numerous infrastructure facilities, including a shift camp for 1000 people, access roads, infield pipelines, a security perimeter and more.

Russia's Massive Oil Projects In Iraq

In total for 2014-2020. More than 120 million tons of oil were produced. 120 production wells and 48 injection wells were drilled. The current production level is 400 thousand barrels per day from the Mishrif reservoir.

The current level of production is 400 thousand barrels per day from the Mishrif formation, which is almost 10% of Iraqi oil exports.

Since the start of the Service contract, LUKOIL has invested about $ 9 billion in the project.

In 2019, LUKOIL commenced drilling of new production wells as part of the second development phase. The Сompany concluded contracts to drill 57 production wells, including 54 wells at Mishrif formation and 3 wells at Yamama formation. The drilling campaign will ramp up production at West Qurna-2 from the current level of 400 thousand barrels per day to 480 thousand barrels per day in 2020.

75% of the project is under Lukoil’s ownership. The other 25% are owned by the North Oil Company (NOC), a state-owned company being a part of the Iraqi Oil Ministry. Notably, NOC does not incur any costs receiving only its share (25%) in the remuneration.

Another notable oil field developed and discovered by Russia is the Salman oilfield in Block 12 in Iraq.

Russia's Massive Oil Projects In Iraq

This happened in May 2018.

Bashneft International B.V., a Rosneft subsidiary, has discovered a new oil field named Salman, following the drilling of the first exploration well in Block 12 in the Republic of Iraq.

The exploration well was successfully drilled to the depth of 4,277 meters resulting in an oil flow that allows counting on discovering commercial reserves.

The Company considers this discovery an important landmark in upstream projects abroad.

Block 12 is located in the southwest Iraq, in an unexplored area of the Arabian Plate, approximately 80 km to the south of the city of As-Samawah and 130 km to the west of the city of Nasiriyah. It has an area of 7,680 sq km. Bashneft International B.V. is an operator of the project.

Bashneft International B.V.  owns 70% of the project. Premier Oil (30%) and South Oil Company also participate in the project.

A contract for exploration, development and production at Block 12 was signed in November 2012.

The compulsory geological exploration program at Block 12 included 2D seismic surveys in the amount of 2,000 km and drilling 1 exploration well.

Upon confirmation of commercial stocks, the contract will be valid for 20 years. The premium for produced oil will be $5 per barrel.

Russia's Massive Oil Projects In Iraq
Russia's Massive Oil Projects In Iraq

The interest Russian companies have in working in Iraq dates even before the Saddam Hussein era.

The first company to return to post-Saddam Iraq was LUKOIL, which did not lose interest in projects in this country both during the Iraqi sanction period (1990-2003) and after the overthrow of the regime of Saddam Hussein.

The biggest project it involved itself in was the above-described West Qurna-2.

Obviously, despite the risks remaining in Iraq, LUKOIL’s strategy was designed for the long term. This is due to the expansion of LUKOIL’s activities when, in 2012, the company, together with the Japanese INPEX CORPORATION, acquired the right to exploration and subsequent development of Block 10.

In 2017, LUKOIL and INPEX successfully completed the tests of the first exploratory well, Erisu 1 at Block 10.

The company is now striving to increase production at West Qurna-2 from the current 400,000 to 480,000 barrels per day in 2020. The contractual framework for LUKOIL’s work in Iraq is being updated on a mutually beneficial basis between the government and the company. So, in 2013, the contract was extended until 2035.

In January 2010, the Russian company Gazprom Neft received the status of the operator of a large Badra field, winning a tender in a consortium with Kogas (Korea), Petronas (Malaysia), and TRAO (Turkey).

However, in addition to this, Gazprom Neft has fields and in Iraqi Kurdistan the company acts as the operator of two projects in Iraqi Kurdistan – Jackal and Garmian. The Garmian block also includes the development of the Sarkal field, in which Gazprom Neft plans to increase oil production.

As described above, Bashneft developed Block 12 in the provinces of Musanna and Najaf. Nevertheless, with the growing political interest of Russia in the region, the positions of Russian energy companies, including Rosneft, were strengthened. In this context, in 2017, within the framework of the 21st St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Rosneft entered into an Investment Agreement with the Government of Iraqi Kurdistan (according to open sources, the deal amounted to $4 billion).

In addition to the fields in the oil-bearing Kirkuk, which at that time were controlled by the Kurds, Rosneft also switched over the significant oil infrastructure of Iraqi Kurdistan.

The key was the acquisition by Rosneft of the status of operator and ownership of 60% of the Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which had already been modernized and increased throughput from 700 thousand to 950 thousand barrels per day.

In 2018, exploration was announced and Rosneft began operations in Iraqi Kurdistan at the Batil, Zawita, Qasrok, Harir-Bejil and Darato fields, each of which is 80% owned by a Russian company.

Russia's Massive Oil Projects In Iraq

The visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in October 2019 to Iraq was the first in 5 years. Together with Lavrov, the head of Soyuzneftegaz Yuri Shafranik, the director of Gazprom Neft Alexander Dyukov, representatives of Rosneft and Technopromexport went to Baghdad and Erbil.

However, no major transactions were announced.

This appeared as a slowdown in Russia-Iraqi relations. Despite this, during Sergey Lavrov’s visit, a number of memorandums of cooperation were signed, which could become the basis for further building up the Russian presence in Iraq.

Reportedly, according to Russian officials, Russian companies could potentially invest up to $45 billion in Iraq by 2035.

The key Russian private companies and state corporations, whose leaders are members of the Russian ruling elite, are represented in Iraq.

These same elites determine the importance of projects in this country for the Russian decision makers.

At the same time, in Iraq itself, Russia interacts with both Erbil and Baghdad. In the event of a conflict, Russian companies demonstrate flexibility and manage to maintain their position.

MORE ON THE TOPIC:

OPEC, Allied Nations Extend Nearly 10M Oil Barrel Cut by A Month

OPEC, Allied Nations Extend Nearly 10M Oil Barrel Cut by A Month

By Staff, Agencies

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries [OPEC] along with its allied nations agreed Saturday to extend a production cut of nearly 10 million barrels of oil a day through the end of July, hoping to boost energy prices hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Ministers of the cartel and outside nations like Russia met via video conference to adopt the measure, aimed at cutting out the excess production depressing prices as global aviation remains largely grounded due to the pandemic. It represents some 10 percent of the world’s overall supply.

However, danger still lurks for the market.

The decision came in a unanimous vote, UAE Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei wrote on Twitter. He called it a “a courageous decision and a collective effort deserving praise from all participating producing countries.”

Crude oil prices have been gaining in recent days, in part on hopes OPEC would continue the cut. International benchmark Brent crude traded Saturday over $42 a barrel. Brent had crashed below $20 a barrel in April.

The oil market was already oversupplied when Russia and OPEC failed to agree on output cuts in early March. Analysts say Russia refused to back even a moderate cut because it would have only served to help US energy companies that were pumping at full capacity. Stalling would hurt American shale-oil producers and protect market share.

Russia’s move enraged Saudi Arabia, which not only said it would not cut production on its own but said it would increase output instead and reduce its selling prices in what became effectively a global pricing war.

Prices collapsed as the coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness it causes largely halted global travel.

Under a deal reached in April, OPEC and allied countries were to cut nearly 10 million barrels per day until July, then 8 million barrels per day through the end of the year, and 6 million a day for 16 months beginning in 2021.

It Is the Curse of Yemeni Children: Al Saud’s Economy Dries up – إنها لعنة أطفال اليمن.. ضرع آل سعود يجف

It Is the Curse of Yemeni Children: Al Saud’s Economy Dries up

Source: Al-Alam Website

Translated by: Al-Masirah Network

Saudi Finance Minister Abdullah Al-Jadaan has tried to justify the position of King Salman and his son towards the responsibility for the deteriorating economic and living conditions of the Saudi citizens, by placing full responsibility on the coronavirus, which has been a guest of the Saudis since only a couple of months.

Jadaan considered stopping the cost of living allowance starting from June, raising the value-added tax rate from 5% to 15% starting from July 1, canceling, extending or delaying some items of operating and capital expenditures for a number of government agencies and reducing the credits of a number of initiative programs and projects in 2020, as additional measures to address the financial and economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Jadaan also blamed the virus for the decrease in oil revenues for Saudi Arabia, which reached half or more due to the significant drop in the price of a barrel, which fell from $ 60 to $ 20, pushing Saudi Arabia to borrow 220 billion riyals this year.

What Jadaan tried to cover up is known to the Saudis before others, corona is innocent of the deteriorating economic and living conditions of Saudi Arabia, innocent as the wolf of the son of Jacob is. The virus cannot blow up the Saudi budget in two months and make it borrow and remove subsidies from the poor. The one who brought Saudi Arabia to what it has now reached is Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman personally and nobody else. We have not discovered this fact, but it is a clear fact for everyone and no two persons disagree on it.

Three disastrous mistakes committed by bin Salman and he still insist on them with incomprehensible obstinacy, the first is his major crime of waging war on the Yemeni people for six years, the second mistake is granting the keys of the Saudi treasury to a greedy person like US President Donald Trump to ensure America’s support for him in reaching a government. As for the third mistake, it is involuntary and it is due to a disease that bin Salman suffers from, which is a paranoia, driving him to play with major powers, believing that he leads a superpower.

Among the most catastrophic consequences of this disease was competing with Russia on oil markets, when he wanted to punish it by dumping the oil markets in an unprecedented manner, bringing the oil prices to less than zero!

Among these three mistakes, the aggression against Yemen remains the biggest, most serious and most influential mistake on the deteriorating economic situation of Saudi Arabia. The curse of the children of Yemen, whose bodies were torn apart by the Saudi aggression, and turned those who kept them alive into skeletons, would not only deplete the treasury of Al Saud, but would also destroy their regime on their heads.

When we say that the curse of the children of Yemen will continue to chase the Al Saud family until they are blown up, as it blew up their treasures, we say that from facts we see on the ground.

At a time when the sound mind says that the Al Saud should stop their aggression against the children of Yemen after six years of futile war that took lives and exhausted wealth without success, we see the mind of bin Salman instructing him to do just the opposite.

At a time when the countries of the world agree on the necessity of stopping wars and conflicts to face the threat of the corona epidemic, we see him ordering the intensification of raids on civilian areas, penetrating the blood of Yemen’s children and depriving them of life after depriving them of food and medicine.

At a time when facts are pressuring bin Salman to make a wise decision to stop the war on Yemen and save his country from the inevitable bankruptcy, we see his “genius” under this pressure giving ideas to reduce the costs of the aggression on Yemen, including the expulsion of members of the government of the resigned Yemeni President and the fugitive, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, from luxurious hotels that they lived in during the past years, to modest small apartments, most of the services that were provided to them such as open food services in hotels and restaurants were cut!

As long as this backward and arrogant mindset is the one that rules Saudi Arabia, the measures announced by Al-Jadaan recently will not be the last, but it will be a link from a long series of austerity measures that will be announced successively. It will shake, not the Saudi economy, whose signs of its collapse appear with the collapse of oil prices and the halt of Hajj and Umrah, only, but the entire Saudi entity. It is the curse of the children of Yemen.


إنها لعنة أطفال اليمن.. ضرع آل سعود يجف

إنها لعنة أطفال اليمن.. ضرع آل سعود يجف

حاول وزير المالية السعودي عبد الله الجدعان تبرير ساحة الملك سلمان وابنه من مسؤولية تدهور الاوضاع الاقتصادية والمعيشية للمواطن السعودي، عبر القاء المسؤولية كاملة على عاتق فيروس كورونا الذي لم يحل ضيفا على السعوديين الا منذ شهرين فقط.

العالم – يقال ان جدعان اعتبر ايقاف بدل غلاء المعيشة بدءاً من شهر حزيران/يونيو، ورفع نسبة ضريبة القيمة المضافة من 5% إلى 15% بدءاً من الأول تموز/يوليو، وإلغاء أو تمديد أو تأجيل بعض بنود النفقات التشغيلية والرأسمالية لعدد من الجهات الحكومية وخفض اعتمادات عدد من مبادرات برامج ومشاريع عام 2020، بانها اجراءات اضافية لمواجهة الآثار المالية والاقتصادية الناتجة عن جائحة فيروس كورونا.

كما القى جدعان على كورونا ايضا مسؤولية انخفاض الإيرادات النفطية للسعودية التي وصلت إلى النصف او اكثر بسب الانخفاض الكبير فى سعر البرميل الذى هبط من 60 دولارا إلى 20 دولارا، وهو ما سيدفع السعودية الى ان تقترض 220 مليار ريال هذه السنة.

ما حاول الجدعان التستر عليه يعرفه السعوديون قبل غيرهم ، فكورونا بريئة من تدهور الوضع الاقتصادي والمعيشي للسعودية كبراءة الذئب من دم ابن يعقوب، فكورونا لا يمكنها ان تنسف ميزانية السعودية في شهرين وتجعلها تقترض وترفع الدعم عن الفقراء، فالذي اوصل السعودية الى ما وصلت اليه الان هو ولي العهد محمد بن سلمان شخصيا ولا احد غيره، وهذه الحقيقة لم نكتشفها نحن، بل هي حقيقة واضحة للجميع ولا يختلف عليها اثنان.

ثلاث اخطاء كارثية ارتكبها ابن سلمان ومازال يصر عليها بعناد غير مفهوم، الاول جريمته الكبرى المتمثل بشنه الحرب على الشعب اليمني ومنذ ست سنوات، والخطا الثاني منحه مفاتيح الخزينة السعودية الى شخص جشع مثل الرئيس الامريكي دونالد ترامب لضمان دعم امريكا له في الوصول الى حكم ، اما الخطأ الثالث فهو خطأ غير ارادي ويعود الى مرض يعاني منه ابن سلمان وهو مرض جنون العظمة، الذي يدفعه الى ان يلعب مع الكبار، اعتقادا منه انه يقود دولة عظمى، كما يحلو لذبابه الالكتروني ان يصفوا السعودية، ومن اكثر تداعيات هذا المرض كارثية كانت منافسته لروسيا على اسواق النفط وذلك عندما اراد معاقبتها عبر اغراق اسواق النفط بشكل غير مسبوق فاوصل اسعار النفط الى اقل من صفر!!.

امام هذه الاخطاء الثلاثة يبقى خطا العدوان على اليمن هو الخطا الاكبر والافدح والاكثر تاثيرا على تدهور الوضع الاقتصادي للسعودية، فلعنة اطفال اليمن التي مزق العدوان السعودي اجسادهم وحول من تبقي منهم على قيد الحياة الى هياكل عظمية، لن تستنزف خزينة ال سعود فحسب بل ستهد اركان نظامهم على رؤوسهم وما ذلك على الله بعزيز.

عندما نقول ان لعنة اطفال اليمن ستبقى تطارد آل سعود حتى تنسفهم كما نسفت خزائنهم، فاننا ننطلق بذلك من حقائق نراها على الارض، ففي الوقت الذي يقول العقل السليم ان على ال سعود ان يوقفوا عدوانهم على اطفال اليمن بعد ست سنوات من الحرب العبثية التي ازهقت الارواح واستنزفت الثروات دون طائل، الا اننا نرى عقل ابن سلمان يأمره بعكس ذلك تماما، ففي الوقت الذي تتفق دول العالم على ضرورة وقف الحروب والنزاعات لمواجهة خطر وباء كورونا، نراه يأمر بتكثيف الغارات على المناطق المدنية ويوغل بدماء اطفال اليمن ويحرمهم من الحياة بعد ان حرمهم من الطعام والدواء.

في الوقت الذي تضغط الحقائق والوقائع على ابن سلمان لدفعه الى اتخاذ قرار حكيم بوقف الحرب على اليمن وانقاذ بلاده من الافلاس المحتم، نرى “عبقريته” تتفتق تحت هذا الضغط عن افكار للتقليل من نفقات العدوان على اليمن، منها طرد اعضاء حكومة الرئيس اليمني المستقيل والهارب عبد ربه منصور هادي من الفنادق الفاخرة التي كانوا يعيشون فيها خلال السنوات الماضية، الى شقق صغيرة متواضعة، كما تم قطع اغلب الخدمات التي كانت تقدم لهم مثل خدمات الطعام المفتوح في الفنادق والمطاعم!!.

ما دامت هذه العقلية المتخلفة والمتعجرفة هي التي تحكم السعودية، فإن الاجراءت التي اعلن عنها الجدعان مؤخرا لن تكون الاخيرة بل ستكون حلقة من سلسة طويلة من الاجراءات التقشفية التي سيعلن عنها تباعا وستهز ليس الاقتصاد السعودي الذي بدات بوادر انهياره تظهر مع انهيار اسعار النفط ووقف الحج والعمرة فحسب، بل الكيان السعودي بأكمله.. انها لعنه اطفال اليمن.

سعيد محمد

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

ماذا بعد الانهزام السعوديّ؟

د. وفيق إبراهيم

الدور السياسي السعودي في محنة تاريخية للمرة الاولى منذ تأسيس المملكة بتعاون بين البريطانيين المستعمرين لجزيرة العرب وبين الحركة الوهابية وآل سعود في مطلع الحرب العالمية الأولى.

ما يؤكد عمق هذه المحنة وثباتها، تقارير عرضتها ثلاث مؤسسات أممية غربية هي الأعلى مكانة في العالم، جزمت فيها ان السعودية فقدت مكانتها الاقتصادية وهوت الى درجات الدول العادية.

كما جزمت أن خسائرها جراء انخفاض انتاج النفط وتداعيات جائحة كورونا قد تزيد عن خمسين في المئة.

المؤسسة الأولى هي صندوق النقد الدولي الذي اكد في تقريره الأخير ان الاقتصاد السعودي يذهب للمرة الاولى في تاريخ بلاده نحو خسائر بنيوية ويجد نفسه مضطراً للتقشف والدين.

بدورها مؤسسة ماكينزي العالمية جزمت في تقريرها بتراجع سعودي اقتصادي عميق يؤدي الى عدم استقرارها.

اما مؤسسة «موديز» لتقييم اقتصادات الدول فأسقطت الاقتصاد السعودي من درجة «أ» امتياز الى «أ» ناقص للمرة الأولى منذ ستينيات القرن الماضي.

بذلك يجمع خبراء الاقتصاد ان خسائر الاقتصاد السعودي قد تتعدّى الخمسين في المئة من موازنتها الحالية، هذا إذا حافظت العائدات الناتجة من مواسم الحج والعمرة والسياحة الدينية على مستواها الذي كان ينتج نمو 25 في المئة من الموازنة السعودية.

بدورها وزارة المال السعودية في تقريرها الأخير الذي تلاه وزيرها الجدعان دعا السعوديين الى التقشف وقرارات مؤلمة تتحضر الدولة لإطلاقها. معتبراً انها مرحلة ضرورية للتعامل مع جائحة كورونا وانهيار أسعار النفط من 66 دولاراً للبرميل الواحد الى 26 حالياً، مع توقع المزيد من الانخفاض، كاشفاً ان الدولة مضطرة الى الإنفاق بسياسات تقوم على تلبية الأكثر أهمية وإلغاء كل ما يؤثر على الاستقرار.

لذلك فإن العالم بدأ منذ الآن بالتعامل مع «سعودية جديدة» اعترف وزير ماليتها انهم ذاهبون لتغطية إنفاق الدولة بنظام دين قد يزيد عن 60 مليار دولار سنوياً مع سحب قسم من الاحتياطات المالية السعودية الموجودة في الخزائن الأميركية وبعض مصارف اوروبا.

لا بدّ هنا من الاشارة الى ان الاقتصاد السعودي الناتج من النفط والعائدات الدينية، ووجود الحرمين الشريفين في مكة والمدينة المنورة، منحا الدولة السعودية دوراً سياسياً عالمياً نذر نفسه لخدمة الاهداف الاميركية في العالمين العربي والاسلامي وبعض انحاء افريقيا ومؤتمرات العشرين وسياسات الامم المتحدة والمنظمات الإقليمية والدولية.

ما هي النتائج المتوقعة على دور آل سعود؟

لجهة الداخل فجزء منه يتعلق بأجنحة الأمراء السعوديين أنفسهم المعتادين على نيل حصص من الإنتاج النفطي ينالون عائداتها، وهؤلاء عشرات آلاف الأمراء من اكثر الفئات إنفاقاً في العالم على اليخوت والقصور وأندية كرة القدم الأجنبية والميسر العالمية والمكرمات والوجاهات.

هؤلاء يبدّدون حسب المعلومات الدولية نحو 15 في المئة من الموازنة من دون احتساب ما تتقاضاه عائلة الملك وولي العهد من موازنة تعتبر الأعراف انها ملك صرف لهم يأخذون منها من دون اي سؤال ومحاسبة ويستطيعون توزيع اي مبلغ منها على اي سياسيين من دول اخرى بومضة عين فقط.

اما الإنفاق على الداخل السعودي فيلبي قسماً من المؤسسات التشغيلية العامة ورواتب موظفين معظمهم لا يعمل والمكرمات لزعماء القبائل والرأي العام والرشى وتغطية نفقات جيش كبير غير فاعل وحرس وطني متخصص بالقمع الداخلي واجهزة مخابرات ونفقات تسليح وصيانة ومدربين أجانب ومرتزقة من دول آسيوية وعربية وتوزيع اموال على الإعلام الداخلي والعربي والعالمي.

هذا جزء داخلي من انفاقات آل سعود، اما القسم الخارجي فخطير جداً لأنه ينفق اموال السعودية على هدي الاجتياح الجيوبوليتيكي الاميركي للعالم، فتحضر السعودية كأمين خزنة يوزع المال حسب اوامر البيت الابيض واجهزته العميقة، لشراء حكومات الدول الاسلامية والافريقية خصوصاً مع ارضاء الدول الغربية بشراء سلع وسلاح لا تحتاجها السعودية كثيراً وبأسعار مرتفعة عن أثمانها الحقيقية. بالإضافة الى تمويل الإعلام العالمي لهدفين: تأييد السياسات الاميركية والنفطية على الأداء الهمجي لآل سعود في الاغتيالات الداخلية والخارجية.

يكفي أن هذا الاعلام المرتشي يتجاهل ان حقوق الانسان غائبة بشكل كامل عن دولة سعودية تصرّ على التموضع في القرون الوسطى. فلا نقابات فيها ولا جمعيات ومنظمات والاحزاب مجهولة في هذا الجزء من العالم، ووسائل الإعلام فيها المكتوبة والمسموعة والتلفزيونية لا تعرض إلا لما تصفه بانجازات آل سعود في بلادها والخارج!

هناك جانب أخطر يتعلق بتمويل الحروب السعودية على اليمن وتمويل منظمات الإرهاب استناداً الى اعترافات رئيس وزراء قطر السابق حمد بن جاسم الذي أقرّ أن الأميركيين كلفوا قطر والسعودية بتمويل منظمات سورية وعراقية، مضيفاً بأنه لم يكن يعرف أنها إرهابية على علاقة بالقاعدة!

هاتان الدولتان تواصلان حتى الآن توفير دعم كبير للإرهاب في ليبيا والسودان والجزائر مع الاستمرار بدعم داعش وحواملها في بلاد الشام والعراق.

للمزيد من الإضاءة فإن تمويل حربها على اليمن سواء بالمباشر على قواتها وجيش رجلها الرئيس المخلوع منصور هادي والمشاركات المصرية والسودانية والأميركية والبريطانية منذ خمس سنوات متواصلة، هذا الدور استنزف موازنة آل سعود ولم ينجحوا بتثبيت نفوذهم اليمني بل خسروه، مع اندلاع صراع عسكري بينهم وبين حلفائهم الإماراتيين على النفوذ في جنوبي اليمن.

هذا الوضع ذاهب الى تفجير كبير نتيجة للانخفاض الهائل بمعدل أكثر من 50 في المئة من موازنة السعودية مع عجزها عن اقتطاع أي قسم من احتياطاتها المالية الخارجية بسبب الرفض الاميركي والغربي المتراجع بدوره.

لذلك فإن الداخل السعودي لن يبقى مستقراً على مستوى العلاقة بين أمراء آل سعود أنفسهم وعلاقتهم بسكان دولتهم الذين نم يرضخوا لتقشف لم يعتادوا عليه.

كما أن هذا الخفض ينسحب على تراجع الدور السعودي في زعامة الخليج والى حدود الانقطاع مع دول عربية اعتادت على مساعداتها كمصر والأردن ولبنان والسودان، الى جانب تضعضع ادوارها في دول الاسلام الآسيوي والأفريقي. الأمر الذي يقلص الى حدود كبيرة دورها التاريخي الواسع.

فهل نحن عشية تحوّل السعودية دولة خليجية متواضعة؟

انها كذلك لفقدانها الجزء الأهم من أدوات تأثيرها، لكن هناك مَن يعتقد ان مملكة آل سعود لن تبقى حتى دولة متواضعة لأن الصراعات بين أجنحة الأمراء فيها خطيرة جداً، هذا بالإضافة الى ان حرمان سكان المملكة من الرعاية والخدمات يعمم الفقر ويؤدي الى انتفاضات واعدة.

هناك نقطة إضافية وهي ان الاسباب التي كانت تجعل الغرب الأميركي والأوروبي يوفر غطاء سياسياً كاملاً لحماية المملكة، لم يعد الآن مضطراً لتأمينها بسبب غياب المؤتمر المالي.

هذا يبرهن أن مستقبل السعودية كدولة كبيرة انتهى الى غير رجعة، ومسألة محافظتها على كيانها السياسي مرهونة بمدى الاندماج في سبيل بناء تحالف إسلامي يصبح جزءاً من القرن الحالي.

فيديوات متعلقة

GEO-ECONOMIC BATTLE FOR RUSSIA

Geo-Economic Battle for Russia
REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang

As the world struggles to achieve any semblance of normality amid the developing economic and coronavirus (COVID-19) cries, China is playing towards increasing its influence throughout Eurasia.

In the first quarter of 2020, China bought a record high number of Russian oil (Urals) – 4 million tones. As a comparison, in the fourth quarter of 2019, China received only 2.5 million tones. The previous record of the supplies of Russian oil to China was registered in the third quarter of 2018 – 2.7 million tones. Therefore, China expanded its import of Russian crude by 1.6 times.

This decision of the Chinese leadership could be seen as a politically-motivated move; especially if one takes into the account the declining demand to oil supplies and massive discounts by Saudi Arabia on the Asian market.

Thus, Beijing is choosing to purchase Moscow’s crude oil, as a sort of a “grant” in the conditions of an economic crisis, taking place amid the coronavirus hysteria. How the liberal-controlled economic bloc of the Russian government pushed the country to the brink of the crisis despite years of preparations for the current situation is another question.

Some critics could call the purchase of Russian crude by China a sort of political bribe, which would ensure either Russia’s compliance, or at least Moscow not getting in the way, while Beijing works to realize its geopolitical agenda.

This, however, leads to a bit of eyebrow raising, as Moscow and Beijing have, for a while now, cooperated in various fields of interest, as well as various common regions of interest.

This support from China towards Russia is not unexpected, and it is not surprising, as it also fits into the expected format of new strategic partnerships in Eurasia, that wish to compete with the United States’ ambitions. Purchase of crude oil or not, it is apparent that when it comes to geopolitical activity, China expects that Russia to either support or simply does not stand against the Chinese national security interests.

For example, China formed two administrative units aimed at specifically managing the artificial islands it constructed in the South China Sea.

“The State Council has recently approved the establishment of the Xisha and Nansha districts under Sansha city.”

According to the notice, the Xisha administration will be based in Woody Island, also known as Yongxing Island. Meanwhile, the Nansha administration will be placed in the Fiery Cross Reef, referred to as Yongshu Reef in Chinese.

The US strongly opposes China’s attempt to seize a larger area under its jurisdiction in the South China Sea, not least because it is the region through which the most trade passes year-round.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan hosted a meeting with Chinese Ambassador Zhang Xiao.

Kazakhstan’s side reacted an article published on a Chinese website http://www.sohu.com titled “Why Kazakhstan is eager to return to China”.

“The meeting pointed out that an article of such content does not correspond to the spirit of eternal comprehensive strategic partnership reflected in the Joint Statement of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the People’s Republic of China, signed by the Heads of State on September 11, 2019. The parties agreed to closely cooperate in the fields of spreading information and mass media.”

Various plans of China’s territorial expansion are actively being discussed in the Chinese society itself. And this appears to be taking place into most directions. Alongside all of this, the intensification in the confrontation between China and the US appears to be all but avoidable.

Another important factor is that the increasing supplies of energy resources from Russia will allow China to be covered in the event of a new military conflict in the Persian Gulf (it will likely involve the US and Iran). In these conditions, Russia, as a key Chinese partner, becomes the apparent and vital supplier of energy resources by contrast with Saudi Arabia and other large oil suppliers.

The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the dire situation in which the markets and state economies already were. The crisis deepened the global and inter-regional competition, including those between the two key economic players: Beijing and Washington.

Russia is both an object and a subject of the global geo-economic standoff.

It is an object by virtue of its size – it has a massive market which needs materials (raw and otherwise), but it also produces its fair share of products and energy. It is a subject in terms of the simple fact that it is the world’s second largest military power and is one of the leaders on the international diplomatic scene.

Due to the same reasons, the US might also move towards easing the rhetoric towards Russia, and attempt to expand trade and economic cooperation, something which China would likely also plan to do. Even the media organization of Michael Bloomberg, a key Donald Trump competitor said that it was a possibility.

“Yet a small opening exists to professionalize a segment of bilateral U.S.-Russia ties. Russia has long been interested in pulling the United States into coordinating the global oil market. Although the United States does not need to join OPEC+ and its pledges to mandate production cuts, having regular exchanges about global energy trends could create a niche for constructive discussions between Russian and U.S. officials. It is not crazy to think that a dialogue around common energy interests could evolve into a more meaningful conversation about how to deal with Venezuela’s collapse, for instance,” one of the recent Bloomberg articles says.

However, in the current situation, it is understandable that the Russian leadership is more inclined towards cooperating with China. Beijing has demonstrated itself as a complicated, but also consistent and stable partner. In contrast, the US has spent the last almost 30 years in very apparent attempts to entirely undermine any semblance of Russian strategic power and shake the foundations of the Russian state itself.

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إيران: عندما يقودها قائد ودولة ورجال!

د.عدنان منصور

يوم الأربعاء، في 22 نيسان الماضي، أعلن الحرس الثوري الإيراني، عن إطلاق إيران بنجاح لأول قمر صناعي ، يحمل اسم نور، للأغراض العسكرية، الى مدار حول الأرض. يأتي هذا الإنجاز العلمي العسكري، في ظل عقوبات شرسة تفرضها الولايات المتحدة وحلفاؤها، منذ أربعين عاماً وحتى اليوم، قلّما شهد العالم مثيلاً لها، حيث لم توفر واشنطن وسيلة، الا واستخدمتها من اجل ترويض الاسد الإيراني، ومن ثم الانقضاض عليه في عقر داره، للإطاحة بثورته، مثلما حصل مع محمد مصدق عام 1953، لتجعل الثورة الإيرانية عبرة لكل من يريد ان يسلك طريقها ونهجها، ويخرج من بيت الطاعة الاميركي.

لقد حوصرت إيران سياسياً، واقتصادياً، وتجارباً، ومالياً، وتكنولوجياً، حيث حظر عليها تصدير النفط واستيراده، والعديد من السلع، والتعامل مع المصارف الإيرانية، او استخدام منظومة السويفت، او تبادل الذهب والمعادن الثمينة معها. كما تم أيضاً فرض عقوبات على وكالة الفضاء الإيرانية، وعلى قادة عسكريين، والعديد من الشخصيات الرسمية وغير الرسمية، وتجميد أموالهم، ومنع تبادل التكنولوجيا، وشراء الاسلحة، وتصدير السجاد الإيراني. بالإضافة الى عقوبات طالت شركات بناء السفن والنقل البحري والتجاري، ما حمل شركات عالمية، على التوقف عن التعامل مع إيران. هكذا تخلت شركة رينو للسيارات عن استثماراتها في السوق الإيرانية، تصنيعاً وبيعاً، بالإضافة الى إلغاء صفقة شراء 100 طائرة ايرباص، و80 طائرة بوينغ، مع ما رافق ذلك من خروج شركة جنرال الكتريك وتوتال وسيمنز وغيرها من السوق الإيرانية… ونتيجة للضغوط الاميركية، تم إلغاء الاستثناءات الممنوحة لثماني دول، والتي كانت تقضي بالسماح لها في شراء النفط الإيراني، مع توقف شركات الأدوية ايضاً، ببيع إيران ما تحتاجه من الادوية.

لقد ظنت الولايات المتحدة، أن فرض حظر تصدير النفط الإيراني الذي يشكل عصب الاقتصاد لإيران، سيجبرها على الخضوع. الا ان سياسة الاقتصاد المقاوم، التي سارت عليها طهران منذ انتصار ثورتها، حملتها على ان تعتمد لأول مرة موازنة مالية، للعام المالي – الذي يبدأ في 21 آذار 2020 وينتهي في 21 آذار 2021, لا تلحظ فيها عائدات النفط. علماً ان رغم العقوبات فإن الديون الخارجية لإيران لا تتجاوز 9 مليارات دولار، بمعزل عن الودائع الإيرانية المجمّدة في الخارج والتي تبلغ عشرات المليارات.

حصار إيران والعقوبات المفروضة عليها، تجري في ظل تجييش إعلامي مغرض ضدها، لا ينفك لحظة عن النيل من ثورتها، والعمل على تشويه الحقيقة، وتحريض الشعب على ثورته، وبث الشائعات والنعرات الطائفية والقومية والعرقية في الداخل الإيراني. لكن رغم كل ذلك، كان للثورة قائدها، ولإيران دولتها، وللجمهورية رجالها، آثروا منذ اليوم الاول للثورة على تسطير تاريخ جديد يليق بشعب إيران، يعتمد اول ما يعتمد، على سواعد وعقول وإيمان وارادة الإيرانيين، وعلى ثروات وطاقات بلدهم، وتحديهم لقوى الهيمنة والاستغلال والتسلط، ومقاومتهم لها.

كانت واشنطن وحلفاؤها، تراهن منذ اليوم الاول، على فشل الثورة وسقوطها في يدها. الا ان الثورة استطاعت ان تثبت للعالم كله عن جدارتها وصمودها، وتحقق قفزات كبيرة وإنجازات باهرة في مختلف الميادين العلمية، والبحثية، والتنموية، والزراعية، والعسكرية، والصناعية، وأن تمتلك التكنولوجيا النووية والفضائية والنانوية والعسكرية. دولة تحت الحصار والعقوبات كانت تثير الدهشة لكل من يتابع الملف الإيراني عن قرب وعن كثب، أكان صديقاً ام عدواً، منصفاً او ظالماً.

على مدار ثماني سنوات، أمضيتها كسفير للبنان في طهران، سنحت لي الفرصة، ان أجوب إيران شرفاً وغرباً ، شمالاً وجنوباً، زائراً لكل محافظاتها ومدنها، مطلعاً على مشاريع وإنجازات لم تتوقف على مدار الساعة، والتي تنقل إيران من مكان الى آخر، وفق خطط ومشاريع مرسومة، تنفذ وتدشن في اوقاتها المحددة، دون تباطؤ او تأخير او تقاعس او اهمال… هي العقوبات – يرددها كل مسؤول في مؤسسة إنتاجية كبيرة او مرفق صناعي – التي جعلتنا نعتمد على الله وعلى أنفسنا في بناء بلدنا، وان لا نكون رهينة في يد قوى الاستكبار والاستغلال. أحد المهندسين، وأثناء زيارتي إحدى الترسانات الصناعية الكبيرة، حدثني قائلاً: عدت الى إيران بعد ان تخصصت في أميركا وأمضيت فيها أكثر من خمسة وعشرين عاماً، لأخدم بلدي، رغم أني أتقاضى راتباً اقل مما كنت اتقاضاه في الولايات المتحدة. هذه هي الروح الوطنية العالية التي جعلت الثورة الإيرانية تستمر وتتعزز بهذا النوع من الرجال، وتقوى بهم، ليكون لإيران مكانتها، وهيبتها في منطقتها والعالم.

هي إيران اليوم، ومع جائحة كورونا، تقف مع شعبها، لتقول للعالم كله، لا سيما للدول التي تفرض عليها العقوبات اللاإنسانية المتعلقة بالمواد الطبية، إنها قامت بجهودها الذاتية، بتدشين أول خط إنتاج لأجهزة فحص المناعة المخبريّة ضد فيروس كورونا، تنتجها شركة «بيشتاز طب زمان» الإيرانية القائمة على المعرفة. جهاز يقيّم مدى ردود فعل مناعة الأفراد ضد الفيروس، والقادر على فحص 96 شخصاً في غضون 75 دقيقة. يأتي هذا، في ظل الحظر الأميركي الطبي على إيران، ومنع تقديم المساعدة لها في احتواء الكورونا، اذ ان ترامب كان يرى بأن الحظر بدأ يعطي ثماره، وأنه لن يغير سياسته في هذا الشأن.

إيران التي صمدت، ونمت، وقاومت الحصار والعقوبات، تثبت كل يوم، وبثقة عالية، أنها قادرة على تجاوز الحصار الطبي الاميركي عليها، وأي حصار آخر. لكن بعد الانتهاء من كورونا، سيتبين للعالم كله، من كان صديقاً فعلياً للشعوب في محنتها، ومن كان عدواً لها في اللحظات الإنسانية الحرجة… حيث كشفت كورونا النقاب عن الوجه القبيح البشع، لكل من أراد بسلوكه القذر، ان يعاقب شعوباً حرة، بجبروته وانحطاط أخلاقه، وانعدام إنسانيته. فمع كل حصار جائر ضد إيران، ينبت إبداع جديد، وما القمر الصناعي وغيره الا الدليل الحي على ذلك…

قبل سنة تقريباً، قال ترامب: انتظرونا أشهراً معدودة، وسوف تشاهدون إيران تختنق من العقوبات الإقتصادية!!!! إلا أن مرشد الثورة وقائدها ردّ عليه قائلاً: هذا المسكين، يمني نفسه ورفاقه بالصبر لأشهر معدودة، ليروا ما سيحدث!!! فتذكرت المثل القائل: يرى الجمل في منامه القطن قمحاً، فيقضمه تارة، ويلتهمه تارة أخرى…

إنها إيران بقائدها ودولتها ورجالها تقول للعالم كله: إني هنا، وأنا بالمرصاد.

*وزير الخارجية الأسبق.

U.S. AND RUSSIAN ECONOMIES SHRINK, AS CHINA INVESTS HEAVILY IN INFRASTRUCTURE

South Front

U.S. And Russian Economies Shrink, As China Invests Heavily In Infrastructure

The U.S. economy shrunk 4.8% in the first quarter of 2020, this is the biggest slide since 2008 and the first time it has contracted at all since 2014.

This is a direct result of the need to close businesses to fight the spread of COVID-19, as well as the oil market crash.

Consumer spending, which had already begun to cool in the second half of 2019, fell at a 7.6% rate in the first quarter of 2020.

The second quarter is expected to be even worse, with analysts expecting a shrinking of the economy not seen since the 1940s. Bloomberg Economics has projected a 37% annualized contraction, but UniCredit is the most bearish with a 65% estimate.

“It’s kind of incredible when you think about the fact that the economy was running pretty much on a normal footing for over 80% of the first quarter,” Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities LLC, said.

Early hopes for a rapid rebound have faded with most analysts assuming a jump in activity once the virus passes will be followed by a slower resumption of growth.

While two quarters of contraction is considered by most to constitute a recession, the official call in the U.S. is made by the Business Cycle Dating Committee, a panel of economists at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Russia, too, is struggling, with analysts estimating a reduction in the income of Russian oil companies by $18–20 billion, or about 40%, due to a drop in oil prices and a decrease in production.

In April 2020, oil exports are moving towards: taking into account taxes, transportation costs and operating expenses, losses will amount to $6–8 per barrel. However, this will be a consequence of high duties on oil exports. In May oil exports will become barely profitable.

As of May 1st, analysts the export duty on oil after the spring collapse will drop by $45.2 and amount to $ 6.8 per ton. In April, it amounted to $52 per ton. At the same time, the duty on highly viscous oil will decrease to $1 from $5.2, for light oil products and oils – to $2, for dark – to $6.8.

International oil companies were initially trying to avoid reducing their production, by circumventing it through producing in countries such as Nigeria, but this also is beginning to prove impossible.

BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total and Eni showed steady production growth with an additional bonus in the form of attracting investors through generous dividends. Now everything is different. Most likely, the major oil companies expect the largest drop in production in decades. BP will have to share the burden of cuts in Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan is in difficult negotiations with Chevron, Exxon, Shell and Eni. The cuts will exacerbate the damage inflicted by NK on low oil prices and weak fuel sales.

It is not yet possible to determine the exact volumes of production reductions, as the largest oil companies and many countries continue to conduct difficult negotiations. They can reach a record hundreds of thousands of b/d per company, or 5-10% of their level of oil production.

In contrast, China appears to be handling the situation rather well. In 2020, it is expected that Chinese economy will grow, less than 2%, but it will not shrink.

The median estimate for 2020 full-year gross domestic product growth from 56 economists surveyed this month fell to 1.8% from 3.7% in March.

To help mitigate the coronavirus shocks, China will likely raise the annual quota for local government special bonds. The majority of analysts expect the government to sell between 3 trillion yuan ($424 billion) and 4 trillion-yuan worth of debt, higher than last year’s total of 2.15 trillion yuan.

Some economists expect a 4 trillion-yuan ($565 billion) issuance of special bonds, to be spent on infrastructure in an attempt to kick-start the economy.

Key infrastructure projects for 2020 include the build-out of the Sichuan-Tibet railway, a high-speed rail corridor along the Yangtze river and intercity connections in major city clusters. Elsewhere, special bonds are being used to fund toll-road projects from Gansu province in the north west to the rust-belt of Heilongjiang.

“It’s common practice that local governments artificially inflate anticipated revenues of infrastructure projects in order to get approval to issue special bonds,” said Tang Fengchi, a consultant on public-private partnerships to China’s Ministry of Finance. “Special bonds can solve the funding problems, but it is no solution to local governments’ inability to make scientific decisions.”

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The Restoration of Self-Rule in South Yemen Is the Next Step Towards Independence

By Andrew Korybko

Global Research, April 27, 2020

South Yemen’s Southern Transitional Council declared self-rule over the vast regions of the country that they claim as their own in response to the Saudi-backed Hadi government’s repeated violations of last year’s Riyadh Agreement that was aimed at de-escalating tensions between the nominally allied sides, thus representing the next step towards independence and one which couldn’t have been made at a more strategically opportune moment.

Self-Rule As A Stepping Stone Towards Independence

Yemen is once again making headlines across the world after the Southern Transitional Council (STC) declared self-rule over the vast regions of the country that they claim as their own per their quest to restore sovereignty to the Old Cold War-era state of South Yemen. The separatist group stopped short of outright declaring independence, but few are under any illusions that this step isn’t a means towards that eventual end. That scenario could have been avoided, however, had the Saudi-backed Hadi government not repeatedly violated last year’s Riyadh Agreement that was aimed at de-escalating tensions between the nominally allied sides following the STC’s liberation of Aden over the summer, which the author analyzed at the time in his piece about how “South Yemen Is Already Functionally Independent Even If It’s Not Recognized As Such“. The accord was supposed to have been a de-facto power-sharing agreement that would have seen the separatists incorporated into the state’s official framework in order to satisfy most of their political demands for fairer representation of their home region that’s been subjugated by the North since the South’s defeat during the brief 1994 civil war.

Rubbishing The Riyadh Agreement

Hadi — and by extrapolation, his Saudi backers — had other plans, however, which were likely motivated by the desire to eliminate his only credible rivals under the cover of the Riyadh Agreement, naively hoping that they’d let their guard down during this time so that the government could take maximum advantage of the fragile peace. That was a terrible miscalculation in hindsight since it rested on the assumptions that Saudi Arabia would fully support Hadi’s forces no matter the circumstances and that his representatives are popular enough to replace the STC in the aftermath of their planned power struggle, both of which couldn’t have been more wrong. The STC is extremely popular among native Southerners and regarded by them as a government-in-waiting whose legitimacy is absolute, unlike the questionable domestic legitimacy of Hadi’s internationally recognized authorities. The only conceivable scenario in which Hadi’s Saudi-backed forces could retain control over South Yemen would be through the imposition of a brutal dictatorship that rules through state terror, which is unsustainable for both practical and cost-related (financial, military, and humanitarian) reasons.

Perfect Timing

The very fact that it was attempted in spite of the obviousness of its inevitable failure speaks to just how desperate Hadi and his patrons have become. They received their comeuppance over the weekend after the STC declared self-rule and immediately began reasserting its authority over Aden, which couldn’t have come at a more strategically opportune moment. Saudi Arabia is mired in uncertainty over its future following the disastrous oil price war that it launched against Russia in early March and which runs the risk of bankrupting the Kingdom. In fact, the Saudi Finance Minister recently announced that his country might take on close to $60 billion in debt by the end of the year in order to cover budget shortfalls from this crisis, which is a far cry from its formerly comfortable position of posting yearly surpluses. Under these conditions, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) might understandably think twice about getting further caught in the quagmire of “mission creep” in Yemen by expanding his military campaign there to fully support Hadi’s forces against the STC, especially considering just how badly he’s already failed in this respect and also in terms of his original mission of dislodging the Ansarullah (“Houthis”) from North Yemen despite half a decade of trying.

MBZ & MBS, Mentor & Mentee

Another factor for observers to keep in mind is that MBS is mentored by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed (MBZ), his coalition ally in Yemen whose country also sponsors the STC. This adds an interesting angle to the context in which the STC’s self-rule declaration was made. It can’t be known for certain, but it’s highly likely that the group coordinated this move with the UAE, which strongly suggests that MBZ is taking advantage of MBS’ domestic difficulties in order to assert his smaller country as the real “big brother” in their bilateral relationship just like the role that he already fulfills for MBS on a personal level. Should MBZ be successful with this strategic coup by convincing his mentee that it’s better for him to order Hadi to immediately begin Yemen’s federal bifurcation instead of bearing the tremendous costs associated with militantly opposing the STC (provided of course that the group has firm security guarantees from the UAE in the event of a Saudi-backed counterattack), then the UAE would have in effect replaced Saudi Arabia as the most powerful Arab nation in the world.

Concluding Thoughts

It’ll of course remain to be seen exactly how Saudi Arabia reacts to the latest developments in South Yemen, but there are convincing reasons to predict that it’ll eschew a costly proxy war with the UAE in favor of working to promote a so-called “political solution” instead, which would have to result in the federal bifurcation of the country along North-South lines instead of just rehashing the Riyadh Agreement if it’s to stand any chance of being accepted by the STC. The separatists crossed the Rubicon over the weekend but wouldn’t have done so had their Emirati patrons opposed their dramatic move to declare self-rule over the regions of the country that they claim as their own, so it should be assumed that MBZ is in support of their declaration despite it obviously being disadvantageous to his Saudi mentee’s geostrategic interests. MBS is therefore in a bind since both options available to him inevitably result in losing some degree of “face”, so he’s basically forced to choose between the “lesser of two evils”, which in this case is submitting to the new on-the-ground political reality created by the STC despite it greatly undermining the reason why he launched his war in the first place instead of fighting the Emirati-backed group and risking an irreconcilable rift with his mentor.

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This article was originally published on OneWorld.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from OneWorldHadi’s Fall, Rise of South Yemen, End of the War?The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Andrew Korybko, Global Research, 2020

بعد الميادين جاء دور النفط والغاز وتسقط مملكة آل سعود

محمد صادق الحسيني

عندما قرّرت الدول الأوروبية سنة 2003، وبضغط أميركي، إطلاق مبادرة لإنشاء خط أنابيب غاز، منافس لخطوط الغاز الروسية، التي تزوّد أوروبا بالغاز، وقامت، سنة 2004 بتأسيس شركة أوروبية، لتنفيذ هذا المشروع، أسمتها: Nabucco Gas Pipeline international، وسجلتها في النمسا كشركة مساهمة نمساوية، بمشاركة كل من النمسا وألمانيا والمجر وبلغاريا ورومانيا وتركيا، لم يكن النظام السعودي يدرك أن هذه الخطوة هي الحجر الأساس في انهيار مملكة آل سعود وباقي مشيخات النفط الخليجى.

فعلى الرغم من ان هدف المشروع الاستراتيجي تمثل في محاولة أميركية لتوجيه ضربة لسوق الغاز الروسي، ضمن محاولات واشنطن إضعاف النفوذ الروسي في القارة الأوروبية، فإنّ جهات التمويل الخفية لهذا المشروع العملاق، أوروبية وأميركية، قد هدفت الى تحقيق الهيمنة التامة، ليس فقط على جزء من أسواق الطاقة / الغاز / الاوروبية، وانما على مصادر الغاز الطبيعي ايضاً. وذلك عن طريق دمج كل من تركمنستان وكازاخستان وأذربيجان وإيران والعراق وسورية وكذلك مصر و»إسرائيل» في هذا المشروع. وهي دول تملك احتياطات كبرى من الغاز.

شكلت سورية وإيران مشكلة أساسية وعقبة كأداء في وجه تنفيذ هذا المشروع وذلك لرفضهما المشاركة في تنفيذ ما اعتبروه مشروع هيمنة واستعمار، وكذلك لكونه مؤامرة تستهدف إلحاق الأذى بالدولة الصديقة لهما، وهي روسيا، فكان لا بد من البدء بالعمل على ترويض الدولتين تمهيداً لعملية الدمج.

وهو ما تطلب اولاً احداث ما عرف بفتنة العام 2009، الشهيرة التي اعقبت انتخابات الرئاسة الإيرانية والتي أفرزت جدلاً واسعاً حول نتائجها، فعملت القوى الاستعمارية على تصعيد الوضع الداخلي الإيراني لعلّ ذلك يؤدي الى اسقاط النظام كما كانوا يتمنون وتزول العقبة الأهم في طريق تنفيذ المشروع، بحجمه الكامل.

لكن حكمة القيادة الإيرانية والالتفاف الشعبي حولها قد أسقطا تلك المحاولة، الأمر الذي عجل بدفع القوى الاستعمارية (القوى الخفية التي موّلت بدايات المشروع)، بتكليف مشيخة قطر بتولي موضوع فك الارتباط بين الدولة السورية والجمهورية الاسلامية في إيران. حيث قام أمير قطر آنذاك، حمد بن خليفة، بزيارة لدمشق والتقى الرئيس بشار الأسد في صيف عام 2010، وعرض عليه تقديم مساعدات مالية، تصل الى 150 مليار دولار، مقابل فك ارتباط سورية مع إيران والموافقة على الدخول في مشروع انابيب نابوكو، المذكور اعلاه.

ولكن رفض القيادة السورية المطلق لتلك المؤامرة أدى بمديريها الى الانتقال للمرحلة الثانية منها، الا وهي معاقبة الدولة الوطنية السورية على رفضها هذا، وإشعال فتنة داخلية تمهيداً لشن الحرب العالمية المعروفة ضدها. وقد قامت مشيخة قطر، وفِي اطار الدور الذي كلفت به كما أشرنا اعلاه، ومنذ شهر ايلول 2010 بإطلاق عملية تسليح واسع لعناصر خارجة عن القانون في سورية. كما أرفقت عمليات التسليح بعملية تمويل وشراء ذمم واسعة النطاق في الداخل السوري. وبحلول نهاية عام 2010 كانت قطر، وبمساعدة مخابرات دول عربية اخرى، قد ادخلت الى سورية ما يكفي لتسليح فرقة عسكرية كاملة (1800 جندي) الى جانب 500 مليون دولار، دفعت لشراء ذمم مجموعات كبيرة من ضعفاء النفوس، الذين شاركوا في تحريك الفتنة.

وقد اعترف شيخ قطر، خلال زيارته لإيران ولقائه الرئيس محمود أحمدي نجاد، وخلال تصريح صحافي يوم 26/8/2011، بأنه « قدّم النصح للاخوة في سورية بالتوجه نحو التغيير». وتابع قائلاً: «إن الشعب السوري لن يتراجع عن انتفاضته…».

وكما هي غلطة ذاك الأمير القطري، سنة 2011، فها هو اليوم محمد بن سلمان وعلى سيرة من سبقوه من ملوك آل سعود، يخطئون في تقييم الدول التاريخية، مثل روسيا وسورية وإيران، ويسقطون سقطات مميتة. فبعد فشل مشروع إسقاط الدولة السورية وتفتيت محور المقاومة، ها هو بن سلمان يدخل حرباً جديدة، بعد جريمة حرب اليمن، وهي حرب أسعار النفط، مع الدولة العظمى روسيا الاتحادية، التي لا قدرة لديه على حتى مناكفتها. علماً أن سياسته هذه قد أسست، فعلياً وموضوعياً، لسقوط مملكة آل سعود وانهيارها من الداخل.

ولأسباب محددة وواضحة، نورد أهمها، للإضاءة على عوامل داخلية وإقليمية ودولية في هذا السياق:

ان دخول اي معركة حول النفط سيؤدي الى خسارة محتمة وذلك لانعدام القيمة السوقية للنفط في العالم. وهو الأمر الذي يميِّز روسيا عن مملكة آل سعود، حيث تعتمد الموازنة الروسية بنسبة 16% فقط على عائدات النفط بينما يعتمد بن سلمان بنسبة 95% على عائدات النفط.
ان مستقبل قطاع الطاقة في العالم سيكون قائماً على الغاز، الطبيعي والمسال، وذلك لأسباب بيئية واقتصادية. وهذا هو السبب الذي دعا روسيا، وقبيل بدء العشرية الثانية من هذا القرن، بالعمل على إفشال مشروع انابيب نابوكو للغاز، الذي كان يفترض ان يضارب على الغاز الروسي في الاسواق الأوروبية، اذ قامت روسيا بخطوات استراتيجية عدة أهمها:
شراء كامل مخزون الغاز الذي تملكه جمهورية تركمنستان، التي تملك ثاني أكبر احتياط غاز في العالم بعد روسيا، والبدء بإنشاء خط أنابيب غاز باتجاه الشرق، من غالكينيش ( Galkynysh )، في بحر قزوين، الى هرات ثم قندهار في افغانستان، ومن هناك الى كويتا ( Quetta ) ومولتان ( Multan ) في باكستان، وصولًا الى فازيلكا ( Fazilka ) في الهند. وهو ما يعتبر خطوة هامة على طريق تحقيق المشروع الصيني العملاق حزام واحد / طريق واحد.
قيام روسيا بتنفيذ مشروعين استراتيجيين، في قطاع الغاز، هما مشروع السيل التركي مع تركيا والسيل الشمالي مع المانيا. وهما مشروعان يعزّزان الحضور الروسي في قطاع الغاز، وبالتالي قطاع الطاقة بشكل عام، في أوروبا والعالم.
مواصلة روسيا تقديم الدعم السياسي الضروري لجمهورية إيران الإسلامية، للمحافظة على قاعدة التعاون الصلبة بين البلدين، وكذلك الدعم السياسي والاقتصادي والعسكري للجمهورية العربية السورية، منعاً لسيطرة الولايات المتحدة وأذنابها عليها، وتمهيداً لإنشاء سيل غاز روسي إيراني عراقي سوري ( لدى سورية احتياط غاز هائل في القطاع البحري المقابل لسواحل اللاذقية طرطوس ) جديد، لضخ الغاز من السواحل السورية، عبر اليونان، الى أوروبا مستقبلاً.
أما عن أسباب الدور المتصاعد للغاز في أسواق الطاقة الدولية فيعود الى ثبوت عدم إمكانية الاستمرار في الاعتماد على النفط، سواءً في تشغيل وسائل النقل الجوية والبرية والبحرية او في تشغيل محطات توليد الطاقة الكهربائية. يضاف الى ذلك فشل مشروع التحول الى السيارات التي تعمل بالطاقة الكهربائية، وذلك بسبب استحالة التخلص من بطاريات الليثيوم بطريقة غير ضارة بالبيئة. وهذا يعني أن من يمتلك الغاز هو من يمتلك المستقبل، في عملية التطور الصناعي والتجاري، وبالتالي المشاركة في قيادة العالم، وليس من يغرق الأسواق بالنفط كما يظن إبن سلمان ذلك النفط الذي لم يعد يهتم به احد ولم تعد له أي قيمة مباشرة، علاوة على فقدانه قيمته كسلعة استراتيجية.
وبناءً على ما تقدم فانه يجب طرح السؤال، حول مستقبل السعودية بلا نفط. ففي ظل استمرار هبوط أسعار النفط واستمرار تآكل ارصدة الصندوق السيادي السعودي، الذي كان رصيده 732 مليار دولار، عندما تسلم الملك سلمان وابنه محمد الحكم بتاريخ 23/1/2015 ، وتراجع هذا الرصيد بمقدار 233 مليار دولار خلال السنوات الماضية، حسب بيانات مؤسسة النقد السعودية الرسمية، نتيجة لعبث بن سلمان بأموال وأرزاق الأجيال السعودية القادمة، وفي ظل عدم وجود بديل للنفط لتمويل الموازنة السعودية السنوية، الأمر الذي دفع البنك الدولي الاعلان عن ان دول الخليج، وليس السعودية فقط، ستتحول الى دول مفلسة بحلول سنة 2034. البنك الدولي الذي عاد واستدرك تقريره مؤكداً قبل ايام بان هذا الموعد سيحل قبل العام ٢٠٣٤ بكثير، وذلك لأن المحافظة على مستوى الحياة الحالي في السعودية لا يمكن تأمينه بأسعار نفط تقل عن 65 دولاراً للبرميل. وهذا عدا عن أن أرصدة الصندوق السيادي السعودي (بقي منها 499 مليار فقط، بينما يبلغ رصيد صندوق الإمارات السيادي تريليوناً ومئتين وثلاثين مليار دولار)، المشار اليها اعلاه، لن تكون كافية، بالمطلق، لتأمين استثمارات تدر على الدولة السعودية من المال ما يكفي لتمويل الموازنة السنوية.
وعندما يقول الكاتب البريطاني الشهير ديفيد هيرست، في مقال له نشره على موقع ميدل ايست آي بتاريخ 22/4/2020، يقول إنه وبالرغم من المرسوم الملكي السعودي حول ان الحكومة السعودية ستدفع 60% من معاشات الموظفين، طوال فترة الإغلاق التي تطبقها البلاد في ظل كورونا، الا ان موظفي مؤسسة الاتصالات السعودية لا يتقاضون سوى 19% فقط من مستحقاتهم، كما أبلغوني، يقول الكاتب.
والى جانب ذلك فإنّ وزارة الصحة السعودية، التي حوّلت عدداً من الفنادق الى مراكز صحية لمعالجة المصابين بوباء الكورونا، لم تكتف بعدم دفع أية مستحقات لأصحاب تلك الفنادق فحسب، بل طلبت منهم تحمل تكاليف عمليات التعقيم والتطهير لفنادقهم قبل تسليمها لوزارة الصحة.

اما ما يعزز أقوال الصحافي البريطاني، ديفيد هيرست، الشهير بالموضوعية والمهنية الصحافية، فهو ما نشرته وكالة بلومبيرغ، حول تقرير للبنك الدولي نهاية العام الماضي 2019، جاء فيه ان جميع احتياطات السعودية النقدية، سواء ارصدة الصندوق السيادي او البنك المركزي السعودي او مبلغ المئة وثلاثة وثمانين مليار دولار، الذي تحتفظ به السعودية في وزارة الخزانة الأميركية، لن تكون كافية، سنة 2024، سوى لتغطية المستوردات السعودية لمدة خمسة أشهر فقط، هذا اذا ما تراوح سعر برميل النفط بين 50 – 55 دولاراً، كما يقول الكاتب ديفيد فيكلينغ ( David Fickling )، في مقال له على موقع وكالة بلومبيرغ الالكتروني بعنوان: إن تراجع وسقوط امبراطورية النفط في الخليج بات يقترب / أو يلوح في الأفق.
وهذا يعني، وبكل موضوعية، ودون تحيُّز أن حرب اسعار النفط، الدائرة حالياً، والتي أشعلها محمد بن سلمان، لن تنقذه من مصيره المحتوم، وكذلك بقية دول الخليج النفطية، ولو بشكل متفاوت، لأن احتياطاتها النقدية سوف تواصل التآكل، مع اضطرار الحكومات المعنية لمواصلة السحب منها، لتغطية عجز الموازنات السنوية الناجم عن تدهور اسعار النفط وتراجع المداخيل المالية. هذا الى جانب ان تلك الصناديق او الاموال الاحتياطية لم تستثمر في مجالات تدر أرباحاً عالية لتكون قادرة على تغطية نفقات الدولة صاحبة الاموال، في حال انهيار اسعار النفط او نضوبه. اي ان تلك الدول ولأسباب سوء الادارة الاستثمارية قد فشلت في الاستفادة من تلك الأموال وتحويلها الى شبكة أمان لمستقبل أجيالها القادمة.
وهو الامر الذي سيؤدي حتمًا الى انهيار ثروات دول الخليج، واضطرار حكوماتها الى فرض ضرائب عالية على مواطنيها، وبالتالي حرمانهم من مستوى الحياة التي عاشوها حتى الآن، مما سيسفر عن زلازل اجتماعية، لا قدرة لحكومات تلك الدول على احتوائها، وبالتالي فإن نتيجتها الحتمية ستكون انهيار تلك الحكومات والدول وزوالها من الوجود. وهو الأمر الذي لن يأسف عليه حتى صانعي تلك المحميات، من الدول الاستعمارية الغربية، وذلك لانتهاء الحاجة لوجود الدول الوظيفية في المنطقة، ومن بينها الكيان الصهيوني، ذلك لأن مبررات وجود تلك الدول، مثل النفط والقواعد العسكرية، قد انتهت لأسباب عديدة، ليس هنا مقام التوسع فيها، بينما يكفي القول إن نهاية انتشار وباء الكورونا سيشكل ايضاً نقطة النهاية لسياسة الهيمنة الأحادية القطبية على العالم، مما سيضطر جميع الدول الغربية، دون استثناء، الى سحب قواعدها من دول المنطقة وترك شعوب المنطقة تقرر مصيرها بنفسها وتقيم نظاماً أمنياً اقليمياً، يضمن استقرارها واستكمال تحررها، في إطار النظام الدولي الجديد المرتقب، والذي لن يكون فيه مكان لقوى الاستعمار التي نعرفها.

عالم ينهار، عالم ينهض…

بعدنا طيبين، قولوا الله…

A Teleological Response to the Crash of the Price of West Texas Intermediate Oil as a Consequence of the Corona Virus

A Teleological Response to the Crash of the Price of West Texas Intermediate Oil as a Consequence of the Corona Virus

April 24, 2020

By Blake Archer Williams for The Saker Blog

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“God damn America, not God bless America!”

“If we can’t sell our oil,” the Iranians said, “you won’t be able to sell your oil [either]!” This turned out to be more of a prayer than a threat that was actually implemented.

The same prayer could be extrapolated for the economy: “If you want to destroy the economy of an entire nation with your barbaric ‘Maximum Pressure’ policy, then may your economy be destroyed instead!” And also with respect to safe air travel: “If you won’t let your Europoodles sell us their Airbus airplanes because they contain American avionics components; and if you won’t let Boeing sell us any of their airplanes once the JCPOA paved the way for such a deal, then may your airplanes be grounded, and may Boeing go bankrupt! And may global air travel be reduced down by more than 80%.”

As Obama’s erstwhile preacher Jeremiah Wright memorably said, “God damn America, not God bless America!” Amen, brother! This is the prayer of all of the people of Iran, the people of Syria, of Yemen, of Iraq, of Libya, of Bolivia, of Venezuela, of Cuba, of the Axis of Resistance, and of all of the peoples whose countries have been ruined or are victims in some way of the American imperium.

Télos

One of the major differences between the theistic worldview of Moslems and Christians on one hand, and that of the modern mindset and of pre-modern atheists revolves around the issue of whether there is such a thing as a ‘Final Cause’, which is the fourth of the four Aristotelian causes (material cause, formal cause, efficient cause, and final cause). Final or télosic cause is the ultimate purpose of the existence of a given object; it is its telos, or the end-term or ultimate purpose of a process that is goal-driven and goal-directed. In the theistic worldview, everything exists for an ultimate purpose, which is to play its part, however small, in the arrival at the eschaton, or at the Final Event in God’s Plan, which is the Day of Judgment: the day everyone will be judged for their deeds on Earth, and the day upon which the eternal fate of their souls shall be determined. Everything is drawn (as opposed to driven) towards God, who is in control of the whole process, which control includes allowing a certain volitional latitude to the sons and daughters of Adam for testing purposes. It is this observation of man’s volitional acts by God and His ultimate judgment of them that gives them meaning.

The atomistic materialistic atheistic view, on the other hand, holds that there is no God and there is no control. Rather than a centripetal motion being drawn to a singularity at the center of the process (as in a vortex), the forces of the universe are mechanical and centrifugal, driving everything outwards towards nowhere in particular and with no particular meaning or purpose. (I talked about this recently on a radio show hosted by Kevin Barrett. Those interested in learning more about the political system in Iran can listen to the show here, where I discuss the thesis of my 2017 book, Creedal Foundations of Walīyic Islam – How Shī’a Theology, Prophetology and Imamology give rise to the theory of Velayat-e Faqih).

And so if we were to subject the phenomenon of the Covid-19 virus to an analysis that includes such a dichotomy, while the materialist and atheistic perspective maintains that the occurrence of the virus, or at least its dispersion, is random and non-purposive, the theistic perspective might see the interference of the Hand of Providence in the big picture view of the phenomenon. Perhaps it is an answer to the prayers of the hundreds of millions of people who have suffered and continue to suffer at the hands of “Christian” war pigs like Pompeo, and the “Jewish” war pig who heads the US Treasury Department, Steven Mnuchin, may they both be damned to Hell. Amen. Ditto the meathead Trump, of course.

This picture has been making the rounds on WhattsApp here in sunny Tehran.

The caption reads “An Artistic Impression of [the Meathead] Trump

More not Less Religious

Of course, there are conditions that prevent prayers from being answered. Perhaps if the authorities in Iran were a little more religious, their prayers would have been answered sooner. Perhaps if the Leader of the Revolution had used the facilities afforded by mass communication technology and had the tens of millions of people who poured out into the streets of the cities of Iran to bid farewell to their beloved Major General Qāsem Soleymānī to supplicate in unison for the ending of the American siege of the Shī’a Citadel, their prayers would have been answered sooner. The experiment in mass prayers has been carried out in Christian nations through the power of radio at least on one occasion that I know of, and that was conducted by George Noory, the host of the Coast to Coast radio show.

Much of the problems of modern man stem from his financial over-reach and his living beyond his actual means. And Iran is no exception (though of course the phenomenon is less pronounced in developing countries). Perhaps if the political order of Iran had eliminated the practice of their banks lending money with the policy that has come to be known as ‘fractional reserve’ banking where banks lend out more money than they actually have, their prayers would have been answered sooner. “By what right,” God will put the question to you, O bankers and Statesmen of modern governmental institutions, “did you lend money that you did not have? By what right did you create money out of thin air and create value and worth by fiat?? By what right did you de-couple the value of your national currency from real value, so that you could print money at will, making a mockery of the earnings of your citizens?” So the Islamic Revolution still has a long struggle ahead of it…

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Whether or not this virus is an answer to people’s prayers remains to be seen, especially with the effect it is going to have on the US economy, which has already seen a staggering 22 million people filing for unemployment benefits in the last month. Robert Redfield, an American virologist and the current Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has warned that the virus will be with us until the winter at any event, and that the effects of its second wave will be much worse because it will be compounded by the usual influenza epidemic which will be taking its toll, especially on the elderly, at the same time, as it does every year, taking the capacity of the health care system to breaking point. Time will tell. But either way, what is clear is that the United States needs to clean up its act and “start behaving like a normal nation” to quote the war pig Pompeo.

واشنطن تخسر آخر رهاناتها الاستراتيجيّة

ناصر قنديل

ربما يكون الكثيرون على اعتقاد بأن الاحتباس الذي شهده سوق النفط الآجل في أميركا حالة عابرة، وربما بنى عليه الكثيرون بالمقابل آمالاً بانهيار اقتصادي شامل في أميركا، وكل من الاستنتاجين على قدر عالٍ من التسرع، وبعيد عن فهم حقيقة ما جرى وأبعاده وخلفياته، فالمتفق عليه هو أن الاحتباس في السوق ناجم عن بلوغ موعد البيع الآجل لشهر أيار موعد نهاية عمليات البيع في 20 نيسان، بينما لا تزال كميات ضخمة منه غير مبيعة، بحساب طاقة الإنتاج، والسبب عدم وجود دورة اقتصادية قادرة على الاستيعاب، وإشباع مراكز التخزين بفعل الانخفاض المتواصل منذ شهرين في سوق النفط وبلوغ الأسعار أرقاماً قياسية متدنية، ما حمل بعض حاملي قسائم الشراء يضاربون على المنتجين في التخلي عن قسائمهم لمن يشتريها بسعر منخفض تفادياً لحلول موعد التسليم وهم عاجزون عن تسلّم مستحقاتهم، حيث لا سوق تستهلك ولا مخازن تستوعب، وتخطّي الأزمة تم بشراء الدولة لـ75 مليون برميل ضمّتها إلى مخزوناتها، وتدوير ما تبقى من عرض في السوق لمنتجات أيار إلى معروضات حزيران، التي تنتهي مهل بيعها في 20 أيار.

عند حدود هذا “المتفق عليه” ترد الوقائع التي لم يأخذها المتفائلون بقدرة الاقتصاد الأميركي على تخطيها في حسابهم، والتي بالغ الذين يتوقعون انهياراً اقتصادياً شاملاً بفعلها في اعتبارها مجرد مؤشرات على بلوغ الاقتصاد الأميركيّ الركود الشامل، الذي قد يأتي لاحقاً بفعل استمرار الإغلاق الناتج عن كورونا، لكن ليس بفعل تداعيات ما يجري في السوق النفطية وحدها. وقد سرعت أزمة كورونا تفاعلاتها من ضمن هذا الركود الذي جلبته، وأبرز هذه الوقائع يتصل بكون السوق التي يجري الحديث عنها وتدور الأزمة النفطية حولها، هي سوق النفط الصخري الذي يتركز في غرب تكساس، وهذه السوق ليست عادية لا استراتيجياً ولا اقتصادياً. فالتطلع الأميركي لزعامة العالم جرى ربطه منذ سقوط الاتحاد السوفياتي بالسيطرة الأميركية على سوق الطاقة، بحسابات تشبه رهان الثمانينيات على سباق التسلح وحرب النجوم، الذي انتهى بانهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي.

راهن الأميركيون في العشرية الأولى من القرن الحادي والعشرين على حربي العراق وأفغانستان لتحقيق هدف السيطرة على ما أسموه بحوض قزوين، وإمداد أوروبا من خط نبوكو الآتي من كازاخستان إلى تركيا لحساب السوق الأوروبية، بعد تطويع إيران وشطب موقع العراق، واحتواء سورية. وقد باء هذا الرهان بالفشل وسقط عند تعاظم حضور إيران وإمساكها بمضيق هرمز عنق التجارة النفطية في العالم. وانتقلت المواجهة في العشرية الثانية من القرن على رهان جديد هو السيطرة على سورية، والنجاح بتحقيق فرصة التخلص من مخاطر إغلاق مضيق هرمز، وتوفير إمداد أوروبا بالنفط والغاز عبر الخليج بأنابيب تخترق سورية. وسقط الرهان بثبات وصمود سورية، وتموضع روسيا فيها واستبسال إيران وقوى المقاومة بالدفاع عنها. فبدأ الاستعداد منذ 2017 لإطلاق حصان رهان جديد يفترض أن يبدأ بفرض حضوره في العشرية الثالثة من القرن، والحصان هو النفط والغاز الصخريان، والساحة هي غرب تكساس، حيث نهضت خلال ثلاثة أعوام عشرات آلاف الشركات العاملة في القطاع، واستثمرت الدولة الأميركية وشركات النفط وكبار المستثمرين تريليونات الدولارات في هذا القطاع، والهدف إنتاج كمية عشرة ملايين برميل يومياً، تضخ إلى أوروبا بديلاً من نفط وغاز كل من الخليج وروسيا، بصورة تكون آمنة من مخاطر إغلاق هرمز، وتحكم الطوق على الحضور الروسي، بعدما فشل خط نبوكو، وخط سورية الافتراضي.

الوقائع والأرقام تقول إن الإنتاج بلغ في كانون الثاني من هذا العام رقم 8،7 مليون برميل يومياً من النفط عبر الصخور البركانية، وإن كلفة إنتاج البرميل هي 47 دولاراً، وإن السعر التجاري المناسب لتطور هذا السوق هو 65 دولاراً للبرميل، وإن المخازن الأميركية تتسع لـ580 مليون برميل للنفط الخام، ومثلها للمشتقات النفطية، وإن هذه المخازن العائدة للدولة والقطاع الخاص قد امتلأت، بعدما ضخت إليها الدولة آخر 75 مليون برميل قبل أيام، وبالتالي فإن مواصلة حال الركود ومعها الانخفاض في أسعار النفط إلى دون الثلاثين دولاراً، ستعني فقط مواصلة ما بدأ من شهر ويستمرّ، وهو إفلاس آلاف الشركات وضياع مليارات الدولارات المستثمرة في هذا القطاع. وقد أفلست حتى الآن إحدى عشرة ألف شركة والحبل على الجرار. والقدرة على إنعاش القطاع في ظل أضرار روسية سعودية مشتركة من تضخّمه تبدو مستحيلة، وسعر البرميل لن يعود إلى الستين دولاراً قبل سنتين حسب التقديرات المتفائلة لصندوق النقد الدولي، إذا تعاونت روسيا والسعودية في تجفيف العرض الزائد من السوق، وما جرى مع تسليم استحقاقات أيار سيتكرر مع حزيران وغير حزيران، حتى يجف سوق النفط الصخري ويهوي، ويسقط معه آخر رهانات الاستراتيجية الأميركية للسيطرة على سوق الطاقة، في ظل عروض صينية لعقود طويلة الأجل مع المنتجين الخليجيين على أسعار متوسطة لا تتعدّى الأربعين دولاراً لسنوات مقبلة، فيما تعرض روسيا مبيعاتها الطويلة الأجل في السوق الأوروبية بأسعار موازية.

ما جرى وما سيجري في غرب تكساس، أكبر من مسألة نفطية، وأكبر من مسألة اقتصادية، فهو خسارة حصان رهان استراتيجي، يمكن له إذا تلاقى مع نتائج تفاقم الركود في زمن كورونا، وما يترتب من حال بطالة لأكثر من ثلاثين مليون أميركي، وتراجع للنشاط الاقتصادي لخمسة عشر مليون شركة أميركية مهددة بالإفلاس، أن يتحول إلى أزمة بنيوية، تفتح الطريق لتوقعات دراماتيكية اقتصادية وسياسية واجتماعية، ربما تكون وحدة أميركا على محك التجربة فيها، وربما يكون سباق النفط عكس سباق التسلح الذي انتهى بتفكك الاتحاد السوفياتي، مرشحاً لأن ينتهي بتفكك الولايات المتحدة الأميركية.

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.

Saudi Arabia: What Happens When the Oil Stops

Saudi Arabia: What Happens When the Oil Stops
https://www.english.alahednews.com.lb/52702/499

By David Hearst, MEE

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [MBS] can no longer plead youth or inexperience.

That time has passed.

What you see is what you get. The misrule, blunders and war associated with him as crown prince will only continue with him as king.

The full repertoire of the crown prince’s statecraft was on display in a stormy telephone call he made to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the eve of an OPEC meeting last month which ended in a calamitous price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

A big mistake

Mohammed bin Salman can see for himself just how big a mistake that call was. The price of oil has collapsed, storage will rapidly run out, and oil companies face the real prospect of having to cap wells. The oil and gas sector accounts for up to 50 percent of the kingdom’s gross domestic product and 70 percent of its export earnings. This has just disappeared.

As anyone who has met Putin will tell you, you can bargain as hard as you like with the Russian president. You can even be on opposing sides of two regional wars, in Syria and Libya, and still maintain a working relationship, as the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to do.

But what you must not do is back Putin into a corner. This is what the Saudi crown prince did by giving Putin ultimatums and shouting at him. Putin just shouts back, knowing that the Russian balance of payments is in better shape to play that game of poker than the Saudi one is.

Report: Jared Kushner and Saudi Crown Prince communicated via ...

MBS is finding out now how weak his cards are. To be fair, before he made that call, he took advice from someone as arrogant and unthinking as he is. US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East advisor Jared Kushner listened to what the Saudi crown prince was about to do and did not object.

This explains why Trump’s first reaction was to welcome the oil crash. Trump thought for every cent cut from the price of oil, a billion dollars of consumer spending power would be released at home. That was until his attention turned to what the oil price collapse was doing to his own oil industry.

Saudi Arabia without oil

With the price of Brent Crude less than $20, Mohammed bin Salman is about to find out what happens when the world does not need his oil. In the past, the standard response to that hypothesis was condescending looks. Not anymore. The prospect of Saudi becoming a debtor nation is real.

Saudi Arabia’s financial decline has been in the works for some time. When his father Salman took over as king on 23 January 2015, foreign reserves totaled $732bn. In December last year they had depleted to $499bn, a loss of $233bn in four years, according to the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority [SAMA].

The kingdom’s GDP per capita has also declined, from $25,243 in 2012 to $23,338 in 2018, according to the World Bank. The nest egg has been diminished with speed. The IMF has calculated that net debt will hit 19 percent of GDP this year, 27 percent next year, while coronavirus and the oil crisis could push borrowing to 50 percent by 2022.

The war in Yemen, a coup in Egypt and interventions across the Arab world, outsized arms purchases from America, vanity projects like the building of a futuristic city NEOM, not to mention his own three yachts, paintings and palaces, each play a part in draining Saudi coffers.

Saudi’s economy was already struggling before coronavirus took hold with a growth rate of just 0.3 percent and a drop of 25 percent in construction since 2017. Add to that the lockdown imposed by coronavirus and the cancellation of the Umrah and Hajj, which attract up to 10 million pilgrims a year, and a further $8bn is wiped off the balance sheet.

But it isn’t just what the Saudi crown prince spent his money on that caused the problem. It was also what he put his money in that went bad.

Bad investments

One indication of bad investments is the decline in the relative value of sovereign wealth funds. Big brother Saudi Arabia now finds itself dwarfed by its much smaller Gulf neighbors on that score.

The chief sovereign wealth fund, Public Investment Fund [PIF], ranks at 11th in the world, behind Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Kuwait Investment Authority and Qatar Investment Authority. When sovereign funds are pooled by nation, UAE comes first with funds worth $1.213 trillion then Kuwait with $522bn, Qatar with the $328bn and Saudi with $320bn.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic took hold, the IMF thought that plans to increase PIF to a trillion dollars would not be enough to generate the income needed if Saudi diversified from oil. If “Saudi Arabia were to grow its PIF from its current $300bn to this scale, financial returns alone would not constitute adequate income replacement in a post-oil world. Oil production of 10 million barrels per day, valued at $65 per barrel, translates to annual oil revenues of about $11,000 per Saudi at present,” the IMF wrote.

Another measure of decline is what has happened to the investments themselves. Masayoshi Son, the CEO of Japan’s Softbank, recalled how he got $45bn after spending just 45 minutes with MBS for his $100bn Vision Fund. “One billion dollars per minute,” Son said. Softbank announced last week it expects its Vision Fund to book a loss of $16.5bn.

PIF paid almost $49 a share for a stake in Uber Technologies Inc. in 2017. Uber shares have dived since. It sold almost of all its $2bn stake in Tesla toward the end of 2019, just before Tesla stock went through the roof, with an 80 percent rally this year. At this rate the PIF stake in Newcastle United is looking like a solid bet in comparison.

The oil crash comes less than two weeks after PIF splashed another $1bn on stakes in four European oil companies and the Carnival cruise liner – all of which casts in doubt the strategy of PIF diversifying away from oil. “I don’t understand why the PIF is doing what they are doing now when their country is going to need every penny,” one Middle Eastern banker told the Financial Times.

“It very much reminds me of the QIA [Qatar Investment Authority] in its early years. There’s a strategy, but they are not adhering to a strategy. They want high visibility but they also want to make money. They want to diversify the economy, but want to be opportunistic.”

No financial stimulus

Saudi Arabia today cannot afford the financial stimulus to cushion the impact of the pandemic that its Gulf neighbors are making. The kingdom is spending one percent of GDP on supporting its economy during the lockdown, while Qatar is spending 5.5 percent, Bahrain 3.9, UAE 1.8.

There are many examples of money running out. The king decreed that the state would pay 60 percent of salaries during the coronavirus shutdown.

But employees of the Saudi’s biggest telecoms company STC are only getting 10 percent of their salaries, I am told, because the government is not paying STC the money for the furloughed staff.

The Saudi Ministry of Health has been requisitioning hotels to run as hospitals. Instead of compensating hotel owners for the temporary loss of their property or paying them a cost price, they are forcing them to pay the running costs in addition to the costs of disinfecting the rooms.

Or take the paycut Egyptian doctors working in the Saudi private health sector are being forced to take. Those who are on annual leave, are not being paid. Those who are instructed to work from home on shifts by their hospitals to lessen the risk of infection, either have to take that time from their annual leave or work for free.

So, as Bloomberg reported, the prospect of Saudi becoming a net debtor nation is real. The question is how soon that happens.

The IMF calculated that with oil prices of $50 to $55 a barrel, Saudi Arabia’s international reserves would fall to about five months import coverage in 2024. With oil at zero, a once unthinkable balance of payments crisis and abandonment of the dollar peg is now all too likely.

Regional effect

Both pillars of Mohammed bin Salman’s plan to modernize and reform his country are crumbling. His plan to generate foreign investment by selling off five percent of Aramco on foreign stock exchanges has gone and now PIF, the main vehicle for diversifying his economy away from oil, is in chaos too.

Many in the region would cheer MBS’s demise. He has simply done so much harm to so many people, particularly in Egypt. In a post-oil era, MBS would lose his power of patronage, the power of an oligarch who can spend a billion pounds a minute and not blink.

But the collapse of Saudi Arabia’s economy, which for decades has been the engine room of the economy of the whole region, would quickly be felt in Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia – all of which send millions of their workers and professionals to the kingdom and whose economies have grown to depend on their remittances.

This is not a prospect anyone should welcome.

«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» 

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