Oil Profits for Protection: US Extorts Saudi Arabia

By Tony Cartalucci

Global Research, April 19, 2020

Legislation circulating in the US Congress threatens to withdraw military support from Saudi Arabia.

This is not because Saudi Arabia is an absolute dictatorship which still severs heads off in public. It is not because Saudi Arabia arms and funds some of the worst terrorist organizations on Earth – including Al Qaeda, its Syrian franchise Tahrir al-Sham – previously known as Jabhat Al Nusra, and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

And it’s not even because of Saudi Arabia’s years of committing war crimes in neighboring Yemen.

These are all aspects of modern Saudi Arabia the US has in fact aided and abetted.

Instead, US representatives are threatening to withdraw US military support from Saudi Arabia for allegedly lowering energy prices by flooding markets with Saudi oil.

Reuters in its article, “Bill would remove US troops from Saudi Arabia in 30 days,” would claim:

A Republican US senator introduced legislation on Thursday to remove American troops from Saudi Arabia, adding pressure on the kingdom to tighten its oil taps to reverse the crude price drop that has hurt domestic energy companies.

The threat of yanking out military support from Saudi Arabia undermines decades of propaganda attempting to justify US military support for the Saudi regime.

According to the US State Department’s own website under a section titled, “US Relations With Saudi Arabia,” the US supports Saudi Arabia because (emphasis added):

The United States and Saudi Arabia have a common interest in preserving the stability, security, and prosperity of the Gulf region and consult closely on a wide range of regional and global issues.  Saudi Arabia plays an important role in working toward a peaceful and prosperous future for the region and is a strong partner in security and counterterrorism efforts and in military, diplomatic, and financial cooperation.  Its forces works closely with US military and law enforcement bodies to safeguard both countries’ national security interests.Securing US Interests Through US Military Build-up in Saudi Arabia

If anything the US State Department says about US-Saudi relations is true – “preserving the stability, security, and prosperity of the Gulf region” must surely come first and foremost – especially ahead of something as trivial as oil profits for America’s domestic shale industry.

Of course, very little the US State Department says is ever true. US ties with Saudi Arabia have helped drive precisely the opposite of stability, security, and prosperity for both the Persian Gulf region as well as the wider Middle East and even as far as North Africa and Central Asia – with both nations playing leading roles in destabilizing and destroying nations, fueling extremism, separatism, and terrorism, and even engaging in direct military aggression.

Because of the dubious nature of US-Saudi ties and the true agenda of money and power that defines them – there should be little surprise that at moments of opportunity, these two “allies” draw geopolitical and economic daggers against one another.

The US threatening to withdraw military support from Saudi Arabia would leave Riyadh particularly vulnerable in the many proxy wars it wages on Washington’s behalf against Iran, Syria, Yemen, and beyond. Of course – the ultimate loser would be Washington itself – which would be further isolating itself in a region increasingly slipping out from under its control.

The US finds itself trying to prioritize its various rackets – its domestic shale gas industry versus its protection rackets abroad, versus its profitable and endless wars, versus maintaining a collection of obedient client regimes around the globe.

But by threatening Saudi Arabia – whether the threat is empty or not – Washington once again reveals to the world that it maintains an international order exclusively serving special interests – using platitudes like “preserving the stability, security, and prosperity of the Gulf region” as an increasingly tenuous facade behind which it advances its self-serving agenda.

Saudi Arabia – despite its many, many sins and from a realist point of view – must begin seriously thinking about a major overhaul of its economic, political, diplomatic, and military alignment within the region and world. As multipolarism moves forward and the tired unipolar order Riyadh belongs to – subordinated to Washington – continues to fade, the threats Riyadh faces will increase as will the cost of being an American “ally.”

When Washington begins turning the screws on Riyadh, it does however open a window of opportunity for nations like Russia and China who are looking to improve and expand ties with Saudi Arabia and lead it toward a more constructive role upon the international stage.

It also opens a window of opportunity for nations like Iran – who are perceived as enemies of Saudi Arabia – but who would benefit greatly from a Saudi Arabia that no longer serves US interests and instead truly seeks to preserve “the stability, security, and prosperity” of the region – side-by-side with other nations that actually are located there – not a nation located oceans and continents away.

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

Tony Cartalucci is a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook” where this article was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from NEOThe original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Tony Cartalucci, Global Research, 2020

SELLER PAYS BUYER: IN HISTORIC FIRST, U.S. CRUDE OIL SELLS FOR NEGATIVE PRICE

South Front

Seller Pays Buyer: In Historic First, U.S. Crude Oil Sells For Negative Price

The original article appeared in Russian, written by Mikhail Delyagin, named “WTI in London Drops to -$39.44”

HINT: It appeared that it didn’t exactly drop to -$39.44, but a bit less.

April 20th was the last day of trading in May futures, if I’m not mistaken.

That is, if the speculators does manage to sell his crude oil, he will have to receive this oil physically, because he has no physical position to offset them (and what would he do with it?).

That’s all: speculators traded on a “business as usual” basis, and squeezing demand by a third sharply reduced the circle of buyers who were ready to receive this crude oil in May – they preferred to wait until June (although the storage capacities, contrary to idle gossip, were still not completely filled), since it is not clear what to do with it in May.

And in order not to fall into a trap of having oil, with which it is unclear what to do, the speculator is forced to get rid of futures – at any cost and under any conditions.

Therefore, the American benchmark crude oil – WTI on the London Stock Exchange fell so sharp, that for the first time in history its price was -$37.63 [Original number is -$39.44 but all reports and stats show that it “only fell” to -37.63] per barrel, for delivery in May, and with delivery in June – it fell by 19%, to nearly $21. And the European benchmark Brent crude fell by less than 18%.

On April 21st, the price opened at -$14, and recovered to around -$8.

But from a fundamental point of view, the situation when the oil supplier pays the buyer almost $40 per barrel (which is almost twice the current price for June futures) certainly opens a new era – in an era when money can no longer be the “universal equivalent.”

A negative price, even for a financial instrument, is a much more serious phenomenon than a negative bank interest (albeit from the same series).

In the case of negative bank interest, activity in itself, the production of something becomes more important than its assessment; in the case of a negative price for the obligation of delivery (futures), this is not just a marginal, it is a “no brakes” expression of overproduction, it is an indicator that the manufacturer does not produce for the sake of money.

Seller Pays Buyer: In Historic First, U.S. Crude Oil Sells For Negative Price

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خلط الأوراق

سعاده مصطفى أرشيد

في أيار عام 2018 أعلنت إدارة الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب انسحابها من الاتفاق النووي مع إيران والذي كانت قد أبرمته إدارة الرئيس السابق باراك أوباما، وعادت العلاقات الأميركية الإيرانية تسير بشكل حثيث نحو مزيد من التأزّم والتعقيد، لا شك في أنّ لعقلية الرئيس ترامب دوراً في ذلك والذي يصفه المفكر الشهير نعوم تشومسكي بأنّ لديه إعاقة، ولكن لذلك علاقة مباشرة ومعلنة بالتحريض الإسرائيلي على الجمهورية الإسلامية، ثم ما لبثت واشنطن أن أعلنت عن مجموعة من الإجراءات العقابية المتدحرجة، وشنّت جملة من معارك غير مباشرة إلى أن وصلت مؤخراً إلى حرب إنتاج النفط التي قادتها السعودية برفع سقف إنتاجها بهدف إغراق السوق وخفض الأسعار، وذلك لضرب اقتصاديات مجموعة من خصوم واشنطن وعلى رأسهم إيران وفنزويلا وروسيا، ولكن مؤشرات عديدة تذهب باتجاه التأكيد أنّ هدف العقوبات على إيران لا يقتصر على المشروع النوويّ الإيرانيّ فقط وإنما يمتدّ ليشمل السلوك والتمدّد الإيراني المناهض للولايات المتحدة والذي كان رائده وفيلسوفه الجنرال الراحل قاسم سليماني.

أعلنت منظمة هيومان رايتس وواتش انّ العقوبات الأميركية على الجمهورية الإسلامية كان من شأنها تقييد قدرة طهران على تأمين الحاجات الإنسانية لمواطنيها بما في ذلك الدواء. وطالبت المنظمة الدولية الإدارة الأميركية بتخفيف العقوبات بالقدر الذي يسمح لطهران من استيراد مجموعة من السلع الأساسية والأدوية. رفضت واشنطن مطالب المنظمة الدولية، لا بل إنّ طهران لم تسلم من انتقادات الإدارة الأميركية التي عبّر عنها بومبيو منتقداً إيران بقوله إنّ نظام الرعاية الصحية الإيراني ضعيف وعاجز متناسياً أنّ ذلك كان بسبب إجراءاتهم العقابية.

إيران وبرغم همومها ومشاكلها لا زالت تتابع سياساتها بردّ الضربة بالضربة كما حصل في عين الأسد وهي ماضية في تمدّدها، وتملك عديداً من الأصدقاء والحلفاء والأدوات القادرة على قضّ مضاجع خصومها وعلى قضم أمنهم واستقرارهم قضمة اثر أخرى، لا زالت على تحالفها الثابت والمتين مع سورية منذ عام 1979، هذا التحالف الذي لم تهزّه الرياح التي عصفت بالإقليم في العقود الأربعة الماضية، وهي موجودة في لبنان حيث تدعم المقاومة الوطنية اللبنانية، وحيث حليفها حزب الله يحمل من أوراق اللعبة اللبنانية ما يفوق أيّ حزب سياسي آخر، وهي موجودة في غزة خاصة بعد التقارب الواضح مؤخراً بينها وبين قيادة حماس، وهي موجودة في العراق وحليفها الحشد الشعبي يمثل أكبر تجمّع مدجّج بالسلاح في عراق ما بعد صدام، ثم في اليمن حيث تدور حرب ضارية دخلت عامها السادس واستهلكت من خزائن الرياض ما يزيد عن نصف تريليون دولار. وقد ذكرت في مقال سابق أنّ هذه الأموال لو استثمرت في أعمال التنمية والبناء والعمران في اليمن لأعادته واقعاً إلى اسمه القديم بلاد العرب السعيدة.

اعتمدت السعودية في عدوانها على طيرانها وطيران التحالف الذي ضمّ دول الخليج والمغرب ومصر وآخرين، وعلى جيوش خليجية جنودها من المرتزقة غير المواطنين وعلى الجيش السوداني في حقبة الرئيس المخلوع. رأت السعودية في الطريقة القتالية الاسرائيلية الأسلوب الأنسب، القصف الجوي غير مدركة أنّ القصف الجوي قادر على القتل والهدم أكثر مما هو قادر على تحقيق النصر. فالإنسان بالنهاية هو مَن ينتصر لا الطائرة، أما العساكر فهم لا يحاربون من أجل قضية وإنما من أجل الراتب أو من أنّ ما تجنيه حكومتهم على حساب دمائهم كما في الحالة السودانية. ومع صمود اليمن وعجز التحالف عن تحقيق أيّ تقدّم سواء على الأرض أم على القرار اليمني العنيد تصبح الحرب خاسرة وغير ذات جدوى.

ما بين هذه الحرب التي بدأت عام 2015 وبين وباء الكورونا الذي حلّ ضيفاً ثقيلاً هذا العام عاشت اليمن أياماً تجاوزت هذه المصائب فقد فتكت بها المجاعة ثم الكوليرا، الأمر الذي دعا منظمة الأغذية والزراعة (الفاو) لأن تحذر من أنّ نصف مليون طفل يمني يعانون من سوء التغذية، وأنّ 13 مليون يمني يعيشون حالة انعدام الأمن الغذائي، قرابة نصفهم يعجزون عن تدبير قوتهم اليومي الذي يبقيهم أحياء، ومع ذلك لا زال اليمن صامداً وقوياً لا يتزحزح ولا يترنّح حتى أمام الإعلان السعودي الأخير عن وقف إطلاق نار لمدة أسبوعين من جانب واحد، أملت الرياض أن تسارع صنعاء بالاستجابة للعرض والتقاط المبادرة والشروع بمفاوضات مع ما تبقى من عبد ربه منصور هادي، حيث لا زالت السعودية تدّعي في خطابها أنّ الحرب هي بين مكوّنات يمنية – يمنية، وأنّ التحالف الذي تقوده يهدف إلى دعم الحكومة الشرعية، لكن صنعاء رفضت العرض إلا إذا كان شاملاً، أما اليمن فهو قادر على إطالة أمد الحرب لسنة مقبلة أو حتى لسنوات، وعلى مَن يجادل في ذلك أن يراجع التاريخ اليمني الذي استعصى على الإمبراطوريات القديمة رومانية وفارسية وانتهاء بالعصيان اليمني الذي دام أربعة قرون بوجهه الدولة العثمانية.

متى تنتهي الحرب في اليمن وعلى اليمن؟ الإجابة على هذا السؤال تعرفها الرياض وتعرفها واشنطن وكلّ عواصم التحالف، إذ لا يمكن لهذه الحرب أن تضع أوزارها إلا بتفاهم مع طهران يبدأ من الآخر ثم يعود أدراجه إلى البدايات، البداية من حرب إنتاج النفط وإغراق الأسواق وحرق الأسعار التي عادت عنها الرياض مؤخراً بتعليمات من واشنطن التي لديها أسبابها الداخلية المتعلقة بشركات النفط وشركات الزيت الصخري، ولكن لها أسباب وعلاقة في الإجابة على سؤال متى تنتهي الحرب، وبالعودة إلى الوراء إيران تريد تفاهماً إقليمياً حدّه الأدنى يشمل الخليج وبحر العرب ومضائق البحر الأحمر، وحدّه الأعلى يشمل الإقليم بأسره من طرفه الغربيّ في غزة مروراً بسورية ولبنان والعراق.

عود على بدء، لقد كان «الإسرائيلي» من أشدّ معارضي الاتفاق النووي مع إيران، وكان من أهمّ محرّضي ترامب على إلغائه وعلى فرض العقوبات على إيران وبقي على الدوام رافعاً إصبعي الفيتو على أيّ تخفيف لتلك العقوبات، لكن صحيفة «نيويورك تايمز» نشرت في عددها الصادر الاثنين الماضي ما مفاده أنّ الموساد يرى أنّ إيران لم تعد تشكل تهديداً وشيكاً لـ «إسرائيل» بسبب تفشي وباء كورونا، وأنّ طهران تخفي الأرقام الحقيقيّة لعدد ضحايا الوباء الذين يفوق عددهم على الأرقام المعلنة.

هل نحن على أبواب مرحلة خلط أوراق جديدة؟ الجواب في مآلات وصيرورة الحرب على اليمن…

Is Putin Laying a Petroleum Trap for Trump?

The president is heralding a deal that commits Russia to cuts in oil production, but a closer look reveals a more complicated path.

By Scott Ritter

Global Research, April 15, 2020

The American Conservative 14 April 2020

Rod Rosenstein

The G20 met in virtual session on April 10, ostensibly to address the crippling one-two punch brought on by the economic impact of coronavirus and the simultaneous collapse of the price of oil resulting from Russia and Saudi Arabia flooding an already depressed market.

In the end, the world’s leading oil producers finalized an agreement on sweeping oil production cuts, building on a previous agreement between Russia and Saudi Arabia to stop their price war. The United States is taking credit for this breakthrough, however, citing the role it played in helping bring Mexico to closure.

But the U.S. contribution was, and is, illusory—President Trump is in no position to promise cuts in U.S. oil production, and as such remains unable to meaningfully contribute to the global oil production reduction scheme. Void of any substantive final agreement, global energy markets will continue to suffer as production far outstrips demand. For U.S. oil producers, who have already seen a 2.5-3 million barrel per day decrease in production, the results will be catastrophic, driving many into bankruptcy and helping push the U.S. economy into a tailspin that will lead to a depression potentially worse than that of the 1930’s.

Trump’s only recourse may be to turn to Russia for help in offsetting needed U.S. oil production quotas, which appears to have been the Russian plan all along.

On Monday March 30, President Trump spoke on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The suppressed price of oil, and Russia’s role in facilitating that vis-à-vis its refusal to cut its oil production, thereby triggering a price war with Saudi Arabia, was the dominant topic. A Kremlin read-out of the call noted that “opinions on the current state of global oil markets were exchanged. It was agreed there would be Russo-American consultations about this through the ministers of energy.”

During the call, Trump mentioned America’s need for life-saving medical supplies, including ventilators and personal protective equipment. Putin asked if Russia could be of assistance, and Trump said yes.

The decision to allow Russian aid (purchased by the U.S.) into the country, however, directly contradicted guidance that had been issued by the U.S. State Department a full week before Trump’s phone call with Putin. On March 22, the State Department sent out an internal email to all U.S. Embassies with guidance on how to proceed with seeking out critical support. “Depending on critical needs, the United States could seek to purchase many of these items in the hundreds of millions with purchases of higher end equipment such as ventilators in the hundreds of thousands,” the email stated. The email noted that the request applies to all countries “minus Moscow,” indicating the United States would not ask Russia for support.

While the two leaders, according to the White House, “agreed to work closely together through the G20 to drive the international campaign to defeat the virus and reinvigorate the global economy,” the March 30 phone call apparently did not directly touch upon U.S. sanctions on Russia. In fact, Trump told  Fox News prior to the leaders’ exchangethat he fully expected Putin to bring it up. He did not say how he might respond if Putin did.

Trump’s confidence in a Putin sanction request most likely stemmed from a statement made by the Russian President to a virtual meeting of G20 leaders on March 22, where he noted that “ideally we should introduce a…joint moratorium on restrictions on essential goods as well as on financial transactions for their purchase.” Putin’s comments were more pointed toward the lifting of sanctions for humanitarian purposes on nations like Iran and Venezuela, but his conclusion hinted at a larger purpose: “These matters should be freed of any politics.”Economic Warfare against Russia: Moscow Condemns New “Draconian” Sanctions, Weighs Banning Rocket Engines to US

Russia has been operating under U.S. and European sanctions following its annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its role in the Ukraine crisis. But the sanctions that have angered Russia the most—and which have contributed to Russia’s price war with Saudi Arabia targeting U.S. oil producers—were those levied against NordStream 2, the Russian pipeline intended to supply Germany, and Europe, with natural gas. Trump signed a bill authorizing these sanctions in December 2019. Russia immediately condemned this action.

Instead of asking Trump outright to lift sanctions, Putin got Trump to help underscore Russia’s position that sanctions were an unnecessary impediment to relations between the U.S. and Russia during the coronavirus pandemic. In agreeing to allow the Russian AN-124 aircraft to deliver medical supplies to the U.S., Trump unwittingly played into a carefully laid bit of Russian propaganda.

Among the aid Russia delivered were boxes of Aventa-M ventilators, produced by the Ural Instrument Engineering Plant (UPZ). UPZ is a subsidiary of Concern Radio-Electronic Technologies (KRET) which, along with its parent holding company ROSTEC, has been under U.S. sanctions since 2014. According to the State Department, which payed for 50 percent of the equipment on the flight, the sanctions do not apply to the purchase of medical equipment. But by purchasing critical medical equipment from sanctioned companies, the State Department simultaneously violated its own guidance against buying Russian equipment while underscoring Putin’s point—sanctions should be waived for humanitarian purposes.

But Putin’s trap had one more twist. According to the Russians, half of the aid shipment was paid for by the U.S. State Department, and the other half by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), a Russian sovereign wealth fund which, like ROSTEC, was placed on the U.S. lending blacklist in 2014 following Russia’s intervention in Crimea. The arrival of an airplane full of critical medical equipment ostensibly paid in part by a sanctioned Russian sovereign wealth fund provided a window of opportunity for Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of RDIF, to gain access to the U.S. mainstream media to push the Russian line.

On April 5, Dmitriev published an OpEd on the CNBC web page titled “The US and Russia should work together to defeat the coronavirus.” Dmitriev likened the current global struggle against the coronavirus pandemic to the fight against Nazi Germany. “During World War II, American and Russian soldiers fought side by side against a common enemy,” he wrote. “We achieved victory together. Just as our grandfathers stood shoulder to shoulder to defend our values and secure peace for future generations, now our countries must show unity and leadership to win the war against the coronavirus.”

But Dmitriev’s true target was oil, and by extension, sanctions. “In times like this,” he noted, “new approaches to explore close collaboration between the U.S., Russia and other countries are needed to stabilize energy and other markets, to coordinate policy responses and to revitalize economic activity. For example, Russia proposed to jointly undertake significant oil output cuts with the U.S., Saudi Arabia and other countries to stabilize markets and secure employment in the oil industry.”

Getting the U.S. to lift sanctions was a big ask, something Dmitriev acknowledged. “To change the views on Russia in an election year may be an insurmountable challenge. But so it also seemed in 1941, when the U.S. and the Soviet Union put behind the differences of the past to fight the common enemy.”

While the “common enemy” referred to by Dmitriev was clearly the coronavirus pandemic, he could also have been speaking about Senator Ted Cruz, and others of his ilk, who led the charge to sanction NordStream 2. The current oil crisis has hit Texas particularly hard. In an indication of things to come, Whiting Petroleum, a major player in the shale oil industry,filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Whiting specialized in North Dakota fracking, which required oil prices of $60 per barrel to be economically viable. The current price of sub-$25 doomed the company. Texas fracking is slightly cheaper, with a profitability margin of around $49. With oil prices depressed, Texas companies are feeling the pinch, and are on the verge of collapse.

Trump agreed to participate in the G20 meeting because of the promise of a Russian-Saudi production cut; on this, Putin delivered. But the Russians made any final agreement contingent upon Trump agreeing to significant reduction in U.S. oil production. This was never a possibility—whereas both Russia and Saudi Arabia have national oil companies whose operations are a matter of national policy, the U.S. oil industry is privately owned in its entirety, and dependent on supply and demand equations derived from a free market to determine profitability.

While the G20 meeting resulted in collective cuts of close to 10 million barrels a day, the drop in demand for oil brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has created a glut in which the world produces some 27.4 million barrels per day in excess of global needs. The bottom line is the G20 cuts won’t solve the problem of too much oil, and without additional cuts, the bottom will continue to fall out of the oil market, dooming U.S. producers.

Trump cannot turn on or off the U.S. oil-producing spigot, a fact Russia knows only too well. When Trump attempted to gain credit for a 2.5-million-barrel reduction in production brought on by bankruptcy, Russia refused to allow it. Likewise, when Trump promised cuts in oil production to help Mexico meet G20 targets, it was a promise the American president is unable to deliver on. In getting the U.S. to agree to attend a G20 summit on oil production, the Russians lured the U.S. into a policy trap from which there is no escape.

Void of any final agreement, the U.S. oil industry will inevitably collapse. Trump claims that the G20 virtual summit came up with cuts totaling up to 20 million barrels per day, without explaining how he came up with this number. This number is fictional; the U.S. production crisis is not. Trump’s only hope is for a further softening of the Russian position on production. But this will not come without a price, and that price will be the lifting of energy-sector sanctions targeting Russia.

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

Scott Ritter is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. He is the author of several books, including his forthcoming, Scorpion King: America’s Embrace of Nuclear Weapons From FDR to Trump (2020).

Featured image: President Donald J. Trump and President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation | July 16, 2018 (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)The original source of this article is The American ConservativeCopyright © Scott RitterThe American Conservative, 2020

العرب في زمن الكورونا غافلون داخل الكهف

د. وفيق إبراهيم

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تكشف جائحة الكورونا مدى ابتعاد العرب عن هذا العصر والتصاقهم بفكر توكّليّ يتبين بعد المعاينة الدقيقة ان علاقته بالدين الفعلي سطحية لا يريد منها، الا فرض الانصياع على الناس لصالح ما يسميه زوراً «ولي الأمر» الى ان يتبين ان هذا «الولي» هو السلطات الحاكمة الفاسدة في الملكيّات والجمهوريّات.

وهذا واضح من خلال تطور الجائحة المميتة، ففيما تتسارع المختبرات الطبية في العالم لإنتاج علاجات ولقاحات مضادة له على مستوى الانتشار والاصابة، لا تتحرك عشرات المختبرات في الدول العربية لفعل أي شيء سوى اطلاق إرشادات إعلامية مقتبسة عن الاعلام الدولي علماً ان كلفة انشاء هذه المختبرات ترقى الى مليارات الدولارات ذهب معظمها الى جيوب الفاسدين وهي غير صالحة حتى لأداء مهام طبية، لأن ظروف تشكيلها استجابت فقط لحاجات الانظمة. إلى التوظيف وانتحال صفات الدول المؤيدة للعلم على مستوى تشكلات والا كيف يصدق المتابعون ان واحداً وعشرين بلداً عربياً ينتشرون في الشرق الاوسط وشمال افريقيا منفصلون عن هذا العصر على مستوى الحضارة والرقي والعلم، لكنهم يشكلون جزءاً منه في الانتساب الزمني الى القرن الحادي والعشرين انما بعقليات من القرون الوسطى وسلطات تعتقد أن البلاد ملك صرف لها بالأرض والنفط والسياسة والناس.

الآن ايضاً في زمن الكورونا لم يتبين لمجلس التعاون الخليجي اي ضرورة للقاء لربما يعتقد ان رعاته الدوليين في الولايات المتحدة الاميركية يعملون بكدّ واصلين الليل بالنهار لاكتشاف اللقاءاحات المناسبة.

وعندما ينتجونها تسارع الدول الخليجية لشرائها بأثمان عالية كما يجري دائماً.

هذه هي العقلية الريعية التي تحكم انظمة عربية تعرف ان انتقال دولها الى نظام إنتاجي يتطلب نشراً علمياً فعلياً يؤدي الى نشر الوعي، وهذا ما تخشاه هذه الانظمة لانها تدرك انه المنطلق الى إسقاط بنى سياسية وتأييد انظمة ديموقراطية على حساب انهيار الفكر القرون أوسطي.

هذا هو الكهف المتخلف الذي تضع فيه انظمة العرب شعوبها وتسجنها بعيداً من التنور والتطور والحداثة. فأين يمكن ايجاد بلد في العالم يرفع انتاجه النفطي بمعدل 40 في المئة دافعاً البلدان الأخرى الى منافسته برفع الإنتاج ما ادى الى انهيار أسعار البرميل من 45 دولاراً الى 23 فقط؟

هذا ما فعلته السعودية منذ اشهر عدة وتبين انه لخدمة مساعي الرئيس الاميركي ترامب في التجديد له في الانتخابات الرئاسية المقبلة، فأراد تقديم مشتقات نفطية رخيصة السعر للطبقات الشعبية الاميركية فتنتخبه كما انه أراد مضايقة الروس بإجبارهم على خفض أسعار نفطهم.

لكن الكورونا فاجأت كل الأطراف واصبح من مصلحة ترامب ان يعاود رفع اسعار البترول في محاولة لكسب شركات النفط الصخري الاميركي التي تؤثر في القرار السياسي العام الاميركي، وهناك محاولات لإرجاء الانتخابات الاميركية على اساس ابقاء ترامب رئيساً لمرحلة جديدة ومن دون انتخابات. فعادت السعودية لخدمته بالموافقة على خفض الانتاج.

بذلك تخسر السعودية في شهرين فقط نحو خمسة مليارات دولار تكفي لتأسيس عشرات المختبرات الصحية للتعامل مع كل انواع الأوبئة وذلك في اطار من التنسيق بين الامكانات الطبية العربية.

بما يدل على ان الانظمة السياسية هي التي تضع العرب في سبات أهل الكهف، وتسجنهم، لكنهم لن يمكثوا طويلاً في هذا الوضع ويتهيأوا لتفجير الكهف على اصحابه من الأنظمة وحماتها الأميركيين.

البناء

OPEC+ Deal Threatened as Mexico Walks Out, Refusing to Participate in Cuts

 April 10, 2020

OPEC

Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Energy said in a statement that OPEC+ had adopted a new declaration on cooperation that envisages a three-stage reduction in oil production, which, if implemented, will cut oil production by 23%, or 10 million barrels per day.

The Ministry of Energy of Azerbaijan, a country which is one of the members of the OPEC+ format, said in the statement that Mexico had refused to accept the three-stage oil reduction, with output cuts of 400,000 barrels per day from October 2018 levels.

“During the ninth meeting of the ministers of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in a format of a video conference, the new Declaration of Cooperation was adopted after some 11-hour discussions on condition that Mexico will accept the proposed cuts. It should be noted that the new Declaration of Cooperation envisages the three-stage reduction of the daily oil production compared to the level of October 2018,” the ministry said.
If the deal is approved, the OPEC+ countries will decrease their daily oil output by 23 percent, or 10 million barrels compared to October 2018.

“[According to the declaration], in July-December 2020, the daily oil production will be reduced by 8 million barrels, or 18 percent compared to October 2018. According to the Declaration of Cooperation, starting from January 2021 to April 2022, OPEC+ has to cut the output by 6 million barrels per day compared to October 2018. It is expected that during this period, the production commitments of OPEC nations will amount to 3.651 million barrels [per day], while those of the non-OPEC countries to 2.349 million barrels,” the ministry added.
Earlier, the press office for the Kazakhstan Ministry of Energy said that OPEC+ had failed to reach an agreement by the end of the Thursday talks, but Kazakhstan expressed hopes that a consensus would be reached in the near future.

“As a result of eleven-hour talks the parties could not reach any agreement. Kazakhstan, in its turn, remains hopeful that in the future the consensus on collective reduction of oil production will be reached, which will impact positively on the oil industry”, the Ministry of Energy’s statement reads.
Kazakhstan, one of the states included in the OPEC+ format, noted in a statement that it is ready to join the deal, should it be sealed.

“We hope for the positive results of the upcoming talks. The disbalance that we observe on the global oil market shows that OPEC+ countries’ efforts are not enough in this case and we need all market competitors to participate. In our turn, we understand the importance of today’s agenda and we are ready to join the collective reduction of oil production”, Kazakhstan’s Energy Minister Nurlan Nogaev said.
He stressed that Kazakhstan has always met its commitments as an OPEC+ member.

Mexican Energy Minister Rocio Nahle tweeted that the country was ready to reduce the national oil production by 100,000 barrels per day in May-June.

According to the Azerbaijan Energy ministry, the adopted cooperation agreement envisages higher consecutive cuts in oil output – 400-320-240 thousands of barrels per day that correspond to each of the three stages.

“Mexico has disagreed with the quotas – 400,000, 320,000 and 240,000 barrels per day for each stage, respectively – in line with the Declaration of Cooperation,” the ministry said.
The Kuwait oil minister tweeted that Mexico was ‘obstructing’ the agreement to cut oil output by 10 million barrels per day.

A tweet reads: “At the extraordinary meeting of the OPEC+ group that ended at 3 a.m., Mexico obstructed the agreement of all member states to reduce oil production by about 10 million barrels per day. Kuwait held marathon talks in the past days, and during the meeting, to create a state of consensus among the member states in the hope of rebalancing oil markets.”
A source in one of the delegations told Sputnik that Saudi Arabia said that “there would be no deal [without Mexico]”.

Earlier, two sources told Sputnik that the Mexican delegation had left the video conference talks after failing to accept a consensus with the alliance on oil production limits.

The OPEC+ meeting took place on Thursday in a form of an online video conference, gathering OPEC+ members and other observer countries not part of the group to create a new oil output cut agreement in an attempt to stabilize the oil market struggling with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

SourceSputnik

أوبك تخسر حربها على روسيا وإيران

د. وفيق إبراهيم

بدأت منظمة اوبك المحور الأساس للنفط على مستوى الإنتاج والسعر العالمي برحلة العودة الى اوبيك بعد أربعة اشهر تقريباً من صراعات كادت تدفع بأسعار البترول الى هاوية الخمسة دولارات للبرميل الواحد بتراجع قدره أربعون دولاراً تقريباً.

بداية يجب الإقرار بأن لا اقتصاد بلا سياسة تروّضه من أجل مصالحها الداخلية او الخارجية.

وبناء عليه، فإن السؤال هو حول الأسباب التي دعت السعودية الى رفع إنتاجها النفطي من تسعة ملايين برميل يومياً الى اثني عشرة مليوناً ونصف ينتظر الإجابة عليه لانه أدى الى خفض سعر البرميل من 45 دولاراً الى ثلاثة وعشرين فقط.

فبدا هذا الأمر كمن يطلق النار على نفسه.

فماذا جرى؟

للتنويه فإن الاتفاق الروسي السعودي منذ 2014 حول ضرورة تأمين الاستقرار لأسواق النفط أدّى عملياً الى تحالف روسي مع منظمة اوبيك التي تقودها فعلياً السعودية صاحبة الإنتاج الأكبر والاحتياطات الأضخم وهذا أنتج معادلة جديدة اطلق عليها المتخصصون اوبيك + بزيادة روسيا على اوبيك الأصلية. فنعمت اسواق النفط ابتداء باستقرار استفاد منه طرفان الروس من جهة والسعودية من جهة ثانية. انتفع الروس من تثبيت سعر البرميل في إطار 45 دولاراً للبرميل الواحد، علماً أن موارد النفط والغاز لديهم تشكل نحو 35 في المئة من موازنتهم.

اما آل سعود فاستفادوا من ابتعاد الروس عن مجابهتهم سياسياً واستراتيجياً في حروبهم وتدخلاتهم في اليمن والعراق ومجمل العالم الإسلامي باستثناء سورية طبعاً التي تربطها بروسيا علاقات تاريخيّة لم تنقطع حتى بعد انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتيّ بدليل بقاء قاعدة عسكريّة لها عند الساحل السوري على البحر الأبيض المتوسط.

لذلك فإن البحث عن المستجدّات التي حكمت الموقف السعودي برفع الإنتاج لا وجود لها في الداخل السعودي. فتبين بالتعمق أن شركات النفط الصخري الأميركي متعثرة وتخضع لديون تزيد عن 86 مليار دولار، أي أنها بحاجة إلى أسواق جديدة لبيع متزايد لنفطها مع أسعار أعلى، بذلك فقط يستطيع الرئيس الأميركي ترامب كسب هذه الشركات الصخريّة والعاملين فيها ومنع تدهور عموم الاقتصاد الأميركي خصوصاً في هذه السنة التي تشهد في خواتيمها انتخابات رئاسية أميركية يريد ترامب الفوز بها؛ ولما لا ومحمد بن سلمان مطية رائعة تتحكم باحتياطات بلاده من دون حسيب أو رقيب وبإمكانه تبديد أموالها لفرض حمايته أميركياً في مشروعه ليصبح ملكاً على السعودية.

هذه هي الاعتبارات التي أملت على إبن سلمان عقد اجتماعات طويلة مع الروس بهدف خفض الإنتاج بذريعة أن كورونا قلّص الاقتصاد العالمي بمعدلات كبيرة قابلة للمزيد من التراجع، لكن قيادة الرئيس الروسي بوتين توغّلت في تفسير الجديد السعودي وربطته بثمانينيات القرن الماضي عندما ضخت السعودية كميات كبيرة من النفط في الأسواق العالمية أدّت الى التعجيل في انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي الذي كان يعاني أصلاً من صعوبات اقتصادية جراء منازلته الأميركيين وحيداً في حروب الفضاء والتسلّح.

واعتبروا أن هذا المشروع السعودي يبدو وكأنه مزيد من العقوبات الأميركية المفروضة عليهم والتي تكاد تحاصر كل ما يتعلق بعلاقة روسيا بالاقتصاد وأسواق الطاقة أي تماماً كمعظم العقوبات الأميركية الأوروبية الخليجية التي تخنق إيران.

لذلك رفض الروس المساعي السعودية لخفض الإنتاج لأنهم أدركوا اهدافها المزدوجة متأكدين من أنها خدمة من محمد بن سلمان لوليه ترامب على حساب الاقتصاد السعودي.

فاندفعوا بكل إمكاناتهم لمجابهة التحدّي الأميركي السعودي بالمحافظة على مستوى إنتاجهم والإصرار والضغط باتجاه خفض العقوبات على إيران ومجمل الدول المصابة بعقوبات مماثلة في سورية واليمن وفنزويلا وكوبا.

لقد اتضح للروس أن هذه العقوبات الأميركية تستهدف دولاً نفطية أساساً، وذلك لغرض وحيد وهو توفير المساحات الدولية الكبيرة لتسويق النفط الصخريّ الأميركيّ، وذلك لان استخراج هذا النوع من البترول كلفته تصل الى اربعين دولاراً أي أكثر بثلاثين دولاراً من النفوط السعودية والايرانية والروس بما يتطلب المحافظة على سعر فوق الـ 45 دولاراً للبرميل. وهذا يفترض تقليل الإنتاج لرفع السعر بالمعادلة الطبيعيّة للسوق فكانت العقوبات التي تحدّ من تسويق النفوط الإيرانية والفنزويلية وممارسة ضغط سعودي على روسيا لتخفيض إنتاجها.

اما المستفيد الوحيد هنا هو الأميركيون الذين يصبح بمقدورهم بيع نفطهم العالي الكلفة في أسواق مرحّبة به ومن دون منافسة.

فإذا كانت الدول الخاضعة للعقوبات هي الخاسر هنا، فإن السعودية أيضاً خاسرة بدورها، لأن رفعها إنتاجها يؤدي دائماً الى انخفاض الأسعار. وهذا ما تتلقاه منذ أربعة أشهر من بيع إنتاجها المتضخّم بسعر 22 دولاراً للبرميل الواحد.

ما هو واضح هنا أن الضغط الاميركي السعودي على روسيا بقذف كميات كبيرة من النفط في الأسواق أدى الى تراجع السعر، لكنه لم يكسر الموقف الروسي لذلك أصيب المخططون الأميركيون والسعوديون بيأس، لأن هذا الضغط أصاب شركات النفط الصخري الاميركي بتراجع دراماتيكي أكبر يدفعها نحو انهيار نهائيّ وشيك.

وبما أن السعودية هي الأداة الأميركية التي تهرول عند الطلب فأسرعت لنجدة وليها وحاميها وعادت لمفاوضة الروس حول إعادة إحياء أوبك + على قاعدة خفض الإنتاج نحو 35 في المئة إنما بشرط وضعه الروس وهو ان يسري هذا الخفض على النفط الأميركي أيضاً.

بذلك تتعادل القوى النفطية في الربح والخسارة على السواء بما لا يتيح لأصحاب الرؤوس الحامية في الادارة الاميركية احتكار القسم الأكبر من الأسواق بذرائع واهية منها على سبيل المثال ان الأميركيين اصحاب اكبر نفط احتياطاً وبيعاً، وهذا مردود لأن فنزويلا والسعودية هما اكبر اصحاب الاحتياطات وتليهما إيران وروسيا، فيما تتصدر روسيا رأس لائحة منتجي الغاز، لكنها لا تبيع منه أكثر من قطر صاحبة الموقع الثالث.

المشهد إذاً يكشف عن المعركة الأميركية السعودية الحالية على كل من روسيا وإيران بما يفترض استقرار اسواق النفط على أسعاره السابقة حول الـ 45 دولاراً.

لكن هذه معركة في حرب تكمن تارة وتندلع مرات أخرى فإذا كانت معركة الأسعار توقفت حالياً فإن معارك تحرير النفط الفنزويلي والإيراني والسعودي والآبار الممنوع استثمارها في اليمن بقرار أميركي سعودي هي معارك مقبلة قابلة للالتهاب في كل مرحلة تشعر فيها الأطراف العالمية أنها قادرة على تمرير سياساتها على حساب تراجع سياسات منافسيها في الفريق الآخر.

US allegedly threatens withdraw military, air defenses from Saudi Arabia over oil prices: media

By News Desk -2020-04-08

BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:30 P.M.) – The United States may withdraw its military and air defense systems from Saudi Arabia if Riyadh and Moscow do not reach an agreement on stabilizing oil prices, the Russian news site Top War reported, citing U.S. media sources.

“A bill providing for the withdrawal of the U.S. Army and air defense systems from Saudi Arabia was prepared by Republican Senators Kevin Kramer and Dan Sullivan,” Top War reported.

“According to the new law, if Riyadh and Moscow do not agree to lower oil production to stabilize world oil prices, the United States will withdraw from the kingdom its U.S. Army personnel, Patriot anti-aircraft missile systems and THAAD anti-ballistic missile systems. It is emphasized that the withdrawn equipment and army units can be deployed on the territory of another country in the region,” they continued.

The publication reported that Saudi and U.S. officials plan to hold a conversation regarding the oil prices after the planned meeting of OPEC.

During the OPEC meeting, Russia and Saudi Arabia will negotiate to stabilize the world oil markets, which witnessed an increase in output after Riyadh and Moscow’s spat.

Rocket Strike On Iraq’s Zubeir Oil Field Where U.S. Haliburton Operates

Rocket Strike Hits Iraq's Zubeir Oil Field Where U.S. Haliburton Operates

South Front

In the early hours of April 6th, rockets struck near a site connected with foreign oil firms and state-run companies in Iraq’s southern city of Basra.

According to Reuters, citing oil and police sources there were no damages and no casualties as a result of the attack.

The rockets, which police said were three Katyusha and were launched at about 3 a.m. local time, hit the Burjesia residential and operations headquarters west of Basra, they said.

The area has been largely empty in recent weeks because of the evacuation of nearly all foreign personnel due to the coronavirus crisis.

Two officials with state-run Basra Oil Co. (BOC), which oversees oil operation in the south, said the attack had not affected production and export operations.

US News, citing police sources said that a rocket launcher and unused rockets were found in a nearby farmland area.

Meanwhile, due to the oil price war initiated by Saudi Arabia, Iraq is spiraling in a crisis.

#Iraq security forces say 3 rockets fired at Halliburton base in Burjasiya, another 11 found in launchers nearby.

Sources near field say US workers evacuated long ago, but Iraqis & other foreigners do live 300-400m away.

Last rocket attack on oil field was June 2019

— Maya Gebeily (@GebeilyM) April 6, 2020

As mentioned above, the US company Haliburton operates in the Zubeir oil field, and this was the first such attack since June 2019.

The attack near Haliburton is no accident, and it is not isolated. Iraq’s biggest Shiite armed groups announced in a joint statement that U.S. troops in the country will be dealt with as an occupation force from now on.

“You [U.S. forces] have proven to everyone that you are occupation forces and that you only respect the language of force, on these bases you will be dealt with and be aware that all operations which were carried out against you were only a minor response to your aggressions as the decision to carry out operations [against U.S. forces] was not taken back then,” the statement, that was released on April 4, read.

The statement was signed by Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, Kata’ib al-Imam Ali, Harakat al-Awfiy’a, Saraya Ashura, Harakat Jund al-Imam and Saraya al-Khurasani.

The attack could potentially also be from Usbat al-Tha’ireen (UT) (The movement of Revolutionary Association; the League of Revolutionaries), a new group who has issued several statements in threat of the US, and has taken responsibility for at least one attack on US bases.

“The movement of Revolutionary Association, Usbat al-Tha’ireen, promises the Iraqi people, the families of martyrs and the people who were wounded by the enemies and their allies, the devil America, we promise that what happened in Taji and Basmea is nothing but a simple message to clarify the fact that this is the least that we can use against them, also to clarify that our victorious, blooming, full of pride and dignity resent has more long rang weapons that can perish you in the land of your spoiled child Israel,” the group’s member said in a video which revealed the group.

Separately, the political and economic crisis in Iraq seems far from over.

In his first interview on TV, Iraqi Prime Minister designate Adnan Zurfi said that if the oil prices don’t recover,

In first TV interview, PM designate @adnanalzurfi sounding alarm on economic situation. “We’re going to drown,” he tells #Iraq state TV on collapsed oil prices. “We won’t be able to pay half the (public) salaries next month.”

— Maya Gebeily (@GebeilyM) April 5, 2020

Iraq’s prime minister designate Adnan al-Zurfi announced that he has sent his list of cabinet candidates and agenda to parliament for approval on April 4th, according to state media, in a bid to tackle the country’s political stasis.

The policy agenda submitted includes items related to the government’s coronavirus response, improving relations with the Kurdistan Regional Government, and women’s empowerment. As per the Iraqi constitution, the PM designate has 48 hours to send the resumes of the selected candidates to parliament.

The PM-designate faces parliamentary opposition to Allawi, with both the Iran-backed Fatih coalition led by former militia commander Hadi al-Amiri and the State of Law coalition led by former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki voicing their opposition to Zurfi’s candidacy.

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Russia, Saudi ‘Very Close’ to Deal Despite Earlier Reports of Delaying Meeting on Oil Output Cuts

Russia, Saudi ‘Very Close’ to Deal Despite Earlier Reports of Delaying Meeting on Oil Output Cuts

By Staff, Agencies

Saudi Arabia and Russia are “very, very close” to a deal on oil production cuts, CNBC cited Head of Russia’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, Kirill Dmitriev, as saying on Monday.

The two countries were initially set to meet Monday to discuss output cuts, but that has now been pushed back to April 9, as oil prices continue to come under pressure.

“I think the whole market understands that this deal is important and it will bring lots of stability, so much important stability to the market, and we are very close,” Dmitriev, also one of Moscow’s top negotiators, told CNBC.

Dmitriev was first to make a public declaration of the need for an enlarged supply pact, potentially involving producers outside the OPEC+ group that currently consists of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries [OPEC] and some other oil producers led by Moscow.

A previous three-year deal to stabilize oil prices collapsed a month ago, with Saudi Arabia and Russia trading blames for failure to find a compromise at an OPEC+ meeting in Vienna on March 6.

Meanwhile, the G20 energy ministers and members of some other international organizations will hold a video conference to be hosted by Saudi Arabia on April 10, a senior Russian source told Reuters Monday, as part of the efforts to get the United States involved in a new deal on production cuts.

نتائج حرب اسعار النفط… وأوان ثأر بوتين من ترامب وابن سلمان

حسن حردان

اعتقدت واشنطن، منذ بداية اندلاع حرب اسعار النفط الحالية، أنها سوف تحقق أهدافها، وأهداف حليفتها الرياض، على حساب مصالح الدول النفطية التي ترفض الهيمنة الاستعمارية الأميركية، وفي مقدّمها روسيا وإيران وفنزويلا، وهي من ضمن قائمة الدول التي تتعرض للحصار الاقتصادي والمالي الأميركي، والهادف إلى محاولة إخضاعها للشروط والإملاءات الأميركية…

الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب أعطى ما يشبه الضوء الأخضر لولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان لخوض هذه الحرب، لمجرد عدم التدخل لمنع حصول انهيار دراماتيكي في أسعار النفط، وذلك اعتقاداً انّ مثل هذا الانخفاض في الأسعار، سوف يؤدّي إلى تحقيق هدفين يصبّان في خدمة سياساته… الهدف الأول، توفير أسعار متدنية للمستهلك الأميركي في هذه المرحلة يخدم سعيه لزيادة شعبيته عشية الانتخابات الرئاسية.. والهدف الثاني، إضعاف العائدات المالية المتأتية من عمليات بيع النفط لكلّ من موسكو وطهران وكركاس، بما يقود إلى إخضاعها لمعاملة جديدة في «أوبك بلاس» تهيمن عليها واشنطن بواسطة الرياض، وتقضي بخفض حصة هذه الدول من إنتاج النفط العالمي لمصلحة الإبقاء على حصة أميركا والسعودية كما هي..

غير أنّ حساب الحقل لم يأت متطابقاً مع حساب البيدر.. ما حصل أنّ السحر انقلب على الساحر، فحرب الأسعار وانخفاض سعر برميل النفط إلى نحو عشرين دولار أدّى إلى انعكاسات سلبية على كلّ من الرياض وواشنطن، وذلك للأسباب التالية..

السبب الأول، رفض روسيا الخضوع للابتزاز والضغط الأميركي السعودي، وقبولها خوض حرب خفض الأسعار، وبالتالي عدم السماح للولايات المتحدة والسعودية بالهيمنة على أوبك بلاس، وبالتالي التحكم بتحديد كميات الإنتاج صعوداً وهبوط لكلّ دولة من الدول المنتجة للنفط..

السبب الثاني، أنّ التراجع الكبير في أسعار النفط أدّى إلى إلحاق خسائر جسيمة بشركات النفط الأميركية المنتجة للنفط الصخري، وهو ما تمثل في بدء الإعلان عن إفلاس بعضها.. فيما السعودية بدأت تئنّ من التراجع الكبير في عائداتها وتفاقم العجز في موازنتها، في وقت تعاني فيه من ارتفاع كبير في كلفة حربها التدميرية ضدّ اليمن..

هذه النتائج مرشحة لأن تستمرّ وتتفاقم نتيجة استعداد روسيا لتحمل انخفاض الأسعار لوقت طويل كونها لا تعتمد في مدخولها سوى على 37 بالمئة من عائدات بيع النفط، على عكس واشنطن والرياض اللتين لا يمكنهما تحمّل ذلك.. ولهذا فإنّ إدارة ترامب التي كانت تتفرّج ولا تحرك ساكناً في البداية، سارعت إلى التدخل للحدّ من حصول المزيد من النتائج والتداعيات السلبية على قطاع النفط الأميركي، ومن أجل إنقاذ الرياض من مأزقها وورطتها.. بناء على ذلك عمد ترامب إلى الاتصال بنظيره الروسي الرئيس فلاديمير بوتين لمحاولة وقف التدهور في أسعار النفط عبر إيجاد حلّ وسط بشأن خفض كميات الإنتاج وكيفية تحديد نسبة كلّ دولة من هذا الخفض.. لكن بوتين، الذي كان ينتظر هذا الاتصال، وجد الفرصة المواتية لإعادة التوازن في سوق توزيع الحصص على نحو يضع حداً لتحكم واشنطن والرياض، فطالب بإعادة توزيع عادل لحصص الإنتاج بحيث يكون تخفيض الكميات متوازناً بشكل عادل بين الدول المنتجة، وهذا بالطبع يشمل ايضاً الولايات المتحدة.. ويدرك ترامب جيداً أنّ عدم الاستجابة لمطلب بوتين العادل سوف يؤدّي إلى تفاقم أزمة الشركات النفطية الأميركية وانهيار قطاع النفط الصخري خصوصاً أن أسعار برميل النفط في ظلّ استمرار حرب الأسعار مرشح أن يصل سعره إلى نحو خمس دولارات، مما يشكل كارثة على السعودية أيضاً التي تعتمد في مدخولها بنسبة تتجاوز الـ 80 بالمئة على عائدات النفط.. ولهذا فإنّ ترامب مضطر إلى ممارسة الضغط على الرياض لقبول تقديم التنازلات لموسكو.. واستطراداً قبول خفض إنتاجها من النفط.. من الواضح أنّ بوتين، الذي يدير المعركة نيابة عن جميع الدول النفطية المتضررة من هيمنة وتحكم واشنطن والرياض، يدرك جيداً أنّ هذا هو أوان تصحيح المعادلة، ولهذا فقد سارع الكرملين إلى نفي تأكيد ترامب عن وجود محادثات روسية سعودية لإيجاد حلّ للأزمة القائمة، وقال، لا توجد خطط للرئيس بوتين للاتصال بالقيادة السعودية، ما يؤشر إلى أنّ موسكو غير مستعجلة، وهي مرتاحة لوضعها، وهي لذلك بانتظار تراجع الرياض وواشنطن والقبول بالمعادلة القائمة على التوازن في توزيع خفض حصص الإنتاج العالمي من النفط على نحو عادل، والتي تقدّر بنحو عشرة مليون برميل في اليوم، الأمر الذي يسقط خطط التحالف الأميركي السعودي… ويبدو أنّ الحديث عن انّ واشنطن تميل الى توجيه اللوم إلى الرياض، يصبّ في هذا المنحى.. وفي هذا السياق يمكن إدراج تشديد وزير الخارجية الأميركي مايك بومبيو، بعد اتصاله مع ولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان، «أنّ السعودية لديها فرصة حقيقية لبذل الجهود اللازمة للتعامل مع الوضع الصعب وإعادة طمأنة قطاع الطاقة والأسواق المالية على الصعيد العالمي عندما يواجه العالم حالة من عدم اليقين الاقتصادي».

من هنا من الواضح أنّ سيد الكرملين يرى أنه جاء الوقت الذي يثأر فيه من ترامب وابن سلمان وتدفيعهما ثمن الحصار والضغوط التي مورست وتمارس، على روسيا وإيران وفنزويلا، بما يضع حداً للتلاعب الأميركي السعودي بسوق النفط العالمي، في كلّ مرة تقتضي مصلحة واشنطن والرياض، على حساب مصالح بقية الدول المصدّرة.. ولهذا كان لافتاً ما قاله الرئيس بوتين في اجتماع حول وضع الطاقة بالأسواق العالمية، «لم نبدأ بتفكيك صفقة أوبك بلاس.. نحن مستعدون دائما للتوصل الى اتفاق مع شركائنا بتنسيق أوبك بلاس لتحقيق التوازن في السوق وخفض الإنتاج كنتيجة لهذه الجهود»، مؤكداً أنّ تجنب الاسعار المنخفضة جداً يتطلب وجود توازن فعّال بين العرض والطلب، وانّ «سعر 42 دولاراً للبرميل مريح لنا وللمستهلكين»…

U.S. multiple goals for possible military action in Iraq

By Payman Yazdani

TEHRAN– The spread of the coronavirus and its devastating impact on the US economy and US efforts to reduce Iran’s regional influence are possible motives behind US potential military action in Iraq.

While the world is fighting against the COVID-19 outbreak, regional countries including Iraq have been witnessing widespread US military moves in recent days.

Most News outlets and political analysts have anticipated an imminent massive military action in Iraq due to the extent of US military moves.

Any possible military aggression carried out by Trump’s administration comes as the US and the world are struggling to contain coronavirus and the US economy, and consequently, the global economy has fallen into a major recession.

Trump is pursuing a number of goals by launching military aggression against Iraq and creating new military conflicts in the Middle East:

*In line with its maximum pressure policy, the US occupiers seek to target Iraqi groups close to the Islamic Republic such as Badr Organization led by Hadi Al-Amiri, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq led by Qais al-Khazali, al-Nujaba Movement led by Akram al-Kaabi, and also Kata’ib Hezbollah. Washington assumes that adopting such an approach can reduce Iran’s influence in Iraq and undermine the economic, political and cultural cooperation between the two countries which play a significant role in reducing the impact of US sanctions on Tehran.

*After COVID-19 outbreak which triggered a global economic recession, Crude oil price dropped below $ 30 a barrel, causing serious damage to US  companies producing Shale oil and severely jeopardized their future production. Therefore, a military conflict in the Middle East can raise the global price of oil and prevent the bankruptcy of oil companies.

*Moreover, regional military conflicts and consequently a rise in the oil price can be a threat to the Chinese energy security, whose economy is heavily dependent on the Middle East oil. This can be used as a tool for the US to contain China and additionally obtain more business privileges from this country and other major economies, such as Europe whose economy is also dependent on the Middle East oil.

*Regional clashes can also possibly affect Saudi oil facilities and reduce their oil production which makes them lose some part of their share from the global energy market which will be ultimately replaced by US oil.

*The US unemployment rate went up after many Americans lost their jobs due to the spread of coronavirus in the country and the world. Any US military adventure in the region can boost its military industry and consequently, to some extent, control the US unemployment rate.

*Ultimately, all of these goals can possibly save Donald Trump in the upcoming US election. Many polls suggest that Trump’s lying about the spread of coronavirus and his belated measures to contain the virus and also the subsequent economic pressure on the US citizens have cast doubt on his victory in the upcoming US election and helped his democratic rival have the upper hand.

هل نحن أمام أفول الإمبراطورية الأميركية؟

د. ميادة ابراهيم رزوق

برزت الولايات المتحدة الأميركية كإمبراطورية وقوة عالمية دخلت مرحلة السيطرة والسعي نحو الهيمنة على العالم بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية، وتمثل ذلك بقوتها العسكرية التي بلغت ذروتها مع تفجير القنبلتين النوويتين الشهيرتين، وكان هذا الحدث بمثابة الإعلان عن ميلاد تلك الإمبراطورية وضرورة تنبّه دول العالم المؤثرة فيه تحديداً للانصياع لإرادتها دولياً، حيث كانت أول من صنع أسلحة الدمار الشامل، وأكثر دولة تمتلك انتشاراً للأساطيل الحربية في البحار والمحيطات، والقواعد العسكرية الثابتة في أرجاء المعمورة، بالإضافة إلى قوّتها الاقتصادية التي تجسّدت من خلال إنشاء صندوق النقد الدولي، والبنك الدولي، ومنظمة التجارة العالمية، وفرضها للدولار كعملة دولية أولى غير قابلة للمنافسة ومهيمنة على التجارة الدولية والاقتصاد العالمي، كما أنشأت الأمم المتحدة مع الحلفاء، وأصبحت هذه المنظمة أداة لتنفيذ السياسات الأميركية بغطاء دولي.

تغوّلت الولايات المتحدة الأميركية أكثر بعد انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي وزوال القطبية الثنائية، فتصرّفت بغطرسة منفردة مع دول العالم، وحاولت أن تفرض على الجميع ثقافتها واسلوبها بنظام جديد يعتمد على العولمة، يتنكر للأديان ويهدّد الهوية الثقافية والوطنية لشعوب العالم الثالث بغزو فكري ثقافي اقتصادي.

ورغم مرور أكثر من مئة عام على خطاب الرئيس الأميركي «وودرو ويلسون» الذي ألقاه في العام 1916 بمناسبة بداية ولايته الرئاسية الثانية، حيث تنسب إليه مقولة إنّ «علم أميركا ليس علمها وحدها، بل هو علم الإنسانية جمعاء”، إلا أنّ هذه النبوءة لم تتحقق، لم يصبح علم الولايات المتحدة الأميركية علماً للإنسانية، بل أصبح علماً للشرّ وقتل الشعوب والغطرسة ونهب خيرات الدول، صار وجهاً قبيحاً للعنصرية والتمييز والتوحش.

وظلّ هاجس السياسة الأميركية في الحفاظ على تلك الإمبراطورية، وتوسيع الهيمنة والسيطرة الاقتصادية على العالم مع اعتبار أنّ كلاً من روسيا الاتحادية والصين يشكلان الخطر الأكبر على الأمن القومي الأميركي، واستمرّ النزاع والتصادم بين المعسكرين البارزين (الولايات المتحدة الأميركية – الليبرالية من جهة، وروسيا الاتحادية والصين – الاشتراكي من جهة أخرى)، وكانت السمة الأساسية لهذا النزاع هي المصالح الاقتصادية والسياسية والتنافس على النفوذ على مناطق واسعة من العالم في الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا وجنوب شرق آسيا وحتى أوروبا الشرقية، وضمن هذا النزاع يتموضع الصراع بين إيران والولايات المتحدة الأميركية على منابع النفط وتأمين طرق الملاحة وأمن الكيان الصهيوني أحد أهمّ مصالح الولايات المتحدة الأميركية الحيوية بالشرق الأوسط، دون تجاهل النهج الايديولوجي الذي يتبناه كليهما بخطابهما السياسي المعادي بالضرورة لبعضهما.

وصل هذا النزاع والصراع ذروته مع بداية هذا العام بتكسر العديد من أنياب ومخالب الولايات المتحدة الأميركية في أفغانستان والعراق بحروبها المباشرة، أو في سورية وإيران ولبنان عبر الحرب الناعمة والذكية، وعجزها مجدّداً من الدخول في أية حرب غير قادرة على تحمّل أكلافها باختلال ميزان القوى السياسية والاقتصادية والعسكرية لصالح روسيا والصين وإيران، وتفكك حلفها الذي ينوء تحت أزماته الاقتصادية والسياسية بدءاً من المملكة العربية السعودية الغارقة في المستنقع اليمني وصراعاتها داخل الأسرة الحاكمة، ومروراً بالكيان الصهيوني وأزماته الداخلية، وليس انتهاء بدول الاتحاد الأوروبي، وحرب أسعار النفط وجائحة كورونا التي أرست قواعد ركود وكساد اقتصادي عالمي، وعرّت مجموعة من الحقائق المستترة لدول الغرب النيوليبرالي الذي يرفع شعارات حقوق الإنسان والديمقراطية، وقد سبق ذلك الهروب الأميركي إلى الوراء على قاعدة الانعزالية والحمائية من خلال الانسحاب من العديد من الاتفاقيات والمعاهدات الدولية كمنظمة التجارة العالمية، واتفاقية المناخ، والاتفاق النووي الإيراني، وتمويل حلف شمال الأطلسي لانتهاء دوره الوظيفي المطلوب، والتحوّل من الاقتصاد الافتراضي المعولم باتجاه الاقتصاد التقليدي الذي يعيد فرض الرسوم الجمركية على الواردات الأميركية، وكلّ ذلك وفقاً لشعار دونالد ترامب الانتخابي «أميركا أولا».

ومع الوصول إلى وباء كورونا وتفشيه في العالم بدأت الدول تفصح عن كينونتها وروائزها وحقيقة دورها وعقائدها بين النيوليبرالية الغربية المتوحشة التي فضلت المنطق المادي على المنطق الإنساني، وبين دول الشرق التي أولت أهمية للحياة والروح البشرية، بين شريعة الغاب الرأسمالية التي تبغي الربح دون اعتبارات إنسانية وتستمرّ في ممارسة سياسة الحصار والعقوبات والإرهاب ضدّ الدول التي تعارض سياستها وخاصة إيران وفنزويلا وكوبا لمنع وصول الخدمات الطبية التي تساعدها في مكافحة الوباء، وبين روح الشرق الإنسانية التي تمثلت بروسيا والصين وإيران التي قدّمت المساعدات والمعدات والخبرات الطبية لأكثر من 80 دولة في العالم للسيطرة على هذا الوباء ومكافحته دون النظر إلى اعتبارات مادية أو خلافات سياسية.

ـ فهل نحن بعد كورونا أمام عالم جيوسياسي جديد تسيطر عليه المفاهيم الروحانية والإنسانية والبعد القيمي الأخلاقي؟

ـ هل نحن أمام تفكك الاتحاد الأوروبي كما ظهر حاله خلال فترة مكافحة وباء كورونا؟ بالإضافة إلى تبعيته للقرار والهيمنة الأميركية…

ـ هل نحن أمام إفلاس العديد من الشركات الأميركية المالية والصناعية؟

ـ هل نحن أمام أفول الإمبراطورية الأميركية وانكفائها نحو تطبيق «شعار أميركا أولا»؟

تساؤلات برسم قادم الأيام بعد زمن كورونا…

Oil Price Rises After Trump Phones Putin

Oil Price Rises After Trump Phones Putin

March 31, 2020

Oil Price Rises After Trump Phones Putin

by Gary Littlejohn

The Saker Blog

The recent rapid decline in oil prices may now be coming to a halt as Trump and Putin agreed in a recent phone call that their oil industry ministers should talk to each other about the oil standoff that began when Russia refused to agree to participate in a cut in oil output proposed by OPEC. This proposed cut was then effectively reversed by Saudi Arabia ‘opening the taps’ to increase its oil output. Russia continued to refuse to cut back, even though the COVID-19 pandemic drastically reduced global demand for hydrocarbon products.

https://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Relief-On-The-Horizon-Trump-And-Putin-Discuss-Oil-Markets.htm

Various oil-producing countries have suffered from this as global storage capacity for oil has rapidly been filled up. For example, Oman may be compelled to sell off its energy companies because it cannot afford to run them at a loss, and Nigeria may have to cease production as it is one of the countries with a very low storage capacity. Yet contrary to long-running media coverage (recently reversed as the present oil price standoff developed) the US shale oil industry is very vulnerable to the refusal of both Russia and Saudi Arabia to cut production in the face of collapsing demand.

There has for about the last three years been a minority voice among US analysts of shale oil production claiming that the ‘sweet spots’(most readily accessible and high production oil fields) in the US Permian Basin had all been played out, such that the debts incurred by the extracting companies were becoming unsustainable. This view was increasingly recognised as being supported by the reluctance of lenders to continue financing such shale oil production on the grounds that the underlying geology indicated that the remaining oil (in proposed new fields) could not be recovered profitably.

https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Relentless-Oil-Price-War-To-Cause-Huge-Number-Of-Well-Shut-Ins.html

https://www.zerohedge.com/economics/first-time-1970s-texas-considering-curtailing-oil-production

In this context many commentators have seen the oil price standoff between Russia and Saudi Arabia as an attempt by one or both to eliminate a vulnerable competitor (shale oil) from the market.

https://russia-insider.com/en/russia-defeating-us-middle-east-oil-game/ri28318

https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Oil-Prices-Collapse-8-As-Novak-Tells-OPEC-To-Pump-At-Will.html

Recent doubling down by Saudi Arabia after Russia claimed that it could withstand a long price-reducing output competition seemed to confirm this:

https://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/Oil-Prices-Slide-As-Saudi-Arabia-Confirms-Another-Export-Boost.html

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/mar/30/riyadh-gambling-on-game-of-coronavirus-oil-price-chicken

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/mar/30/oil-rig-closures-rising-as-prices-hit-18-year-lows-due-to-coronavirus

This seems to be the reason for the phone call from Trump to Putin:

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/mar/31/oil-prices-trump-putin-saudi-arabia-saudi-arabia-shell

Certainly some analysts have argued that the price competition could lead to a rebound to as much as $60 per barrel if the US shale oil sector were eliminated from the market. This growing chorus included a recent very direct claim from Igor Sechin, the head of oil major Rosneft:

https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Russias-Plan-To-Bankrupt-US-Shale-Could-Send-Oil-To-60.html

It certainly looks as if there is very little room left for US shale oil to reduce its production costs further, especially when lenders have been increasingly shunning the industry for about the last three years. This has considerable implications for the USA in sustaining its dominant position in the global economy.

Whereas in the past the US had been self-sufficient in oil, by 2005 it was looking to rely more on oil and gas from the Gulf of Guinea in Africa, a policy that led to the US Department of Defense engaging in a diplomatic initiative to reduce maritime insecurity in that region, thereby minimising the risk of disruption to the envisaged new oil supply routes. This initiative resulted in the establishment of the Gulf of Guinea Commission in November 2006, but then the sudden technical and financial changes that led to the surge in US shale oil production meant that this reliance on West African oil was no longer necessary. Regrettably, since then maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea has become a great deal worse.

The fact that the US had become less reliant on oil imports was very important for sustaining the position of the US dollar as the global reserve currency, because it is the fact of the global trade in oil being priced in dollars that is the main foundation for that reserve currency position, thereby enabling the US economy to keep growing in a way that is fuelled by debt. That growth strategy is now under serious threat unless the USA can control oil supply and prices in other parts of the world. This ‘necessity’ places the current US refusal to leave Iraq and its theft of oil from Syrian oil wells in context, and makes it easier to understand the intense pressure being placed on Iran and Venezuela in particular. The aggression is actually sign of strategic weakness, verging on desperation. In other words, this is a major geopolitical turning point. It is for this reason that the US is pushing for an end to the oil price war:

https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Oil-Climbs-As-US-Pushes-For-An-End-To-The-Price-War.html

From the viewpoint of Russia, this is certainly a good time to eliminate US shale oil competition, because Russia has recently grown into a much stronger position in the global energy market, after being underestimated until about 2015. In 2014, at about the time of the Maidan square coup in Ukraine, Saudi Arabia and the US increased oil production in an apparent attempt to bankrupt Russia by pushing down the global oil price. At that time, Western commentators assumed that Russian oil fields were old, with future production likely to be flat, and that Russia would not be able to innovate to increase production on existing fields. It was also felt that there would be few new oil or gas fields that would enable Russia to increase its production substantially. Finally it was generally assumed that the devaluation of the Ruble would cripple the Russian economy, leading possibly to social unrest and an over throw of the Russian government. All of these assumptions proved to be false, and were seen to be false at the time by a small minority of well-informed Western commentators.

In fact the devaluation of the Ruble was far less damaging than most had assumed, partly because economic sanctions meant that Russia became even less reliant on imports, including of food, while pushing on with a revolution in Russian wheat production that led to a rapid growth in exports and lowered domestic food prices. In addition, ongoing oil and gas export revenues continued to be in foreign exchange, while the devalued Ruble meant the Russian oil became cheaper internationally.

In 2014/5 Russia immediately began to turn its oil production around with four innovations, one of which greatly extended the productive life of its older oilfields. Then it opened a major new natural gas field in the Arctic (Yamal, soon to be followed by Arctic 2) and continued with the construction of various pipelines that meant it could supply the EU, China and Turkey with gas more cheaply than would have been possible by ocean shipping or rail. Furthermore, the implications of the fact that the Power of Siberia pipeline to China, which started on 2nd December 2019, is a fixed price contract seem to have been missed by many commentators: at a time of steep oil price decline, there is no reason to believe that the price of Russian oil exports to China has declined at all, let alone by the same amount as the global market price. At a time when China is now gearing up to restart its economy following the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic there, it will presumably soon start to consume oil and (via LNG tanker shipping) natural gas at almost the same level as before.

This level of resilience is further boosted by the Turkstream and Nordstream pipelines, and the Nordstream 2 pipeline is due to start up later this year in spite of all the obstacles placed in its way:



Russia also seems to be moving into energy markets in Africa, with one company now having a stake in the Algerian gas pipeline that crosses the Mediterranean to feed into the EU gas market and with an apparent attempt to recover ownership of oil fields that it lost when Gadaffi was ousted in Libya:

https://www.zerohedge.com/energy/putin-makes-move-libyas-oil-crescent

Yet what is most important in the longer term is that the earlier assumption that there were no new oilfields to be developed in Russia has also proved to be mistaken:

https://oilprice.com/Geopolitics/International/Why-OPEC-Should-Worry-About-Russias-Latest-Oilfield.html

https://russia-insider.com/en/russia-planning-biggest-oil-project-history-world-155-billion-investment-15-new-towns-airports-ports

No wonder Russia has claimed that it could withstand a low oil price for a decade:

https://www.zerohedge.com/energy/russia-says-it-can-weather-25-oil-10-years

Nor should Russia’s position be considered in isolation from developments elsewhere. For example, Iran has discovered a large oil field next to one of its gas fields, but has little chance of developing it in the present circumstances. The long-term implication in terms of shifting global energy sources is evident, however. More important in the shorter run are the vast oil resources in Venezuela, one of whose fields borders neighbouring Guyana. US oil companies are already eyeing up these enormous opportunities. The sudden re-emergence of overt political pressure by the US on Venezuela is an indication that there are strong reasons for the US not to give up on ‘regime change’ in Venezuela:



https://www.zerohedge.com/energy/oil-only-way-back-venezuela

https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/venezuela-stages-massive-live-fire-war-drill-amid-invasion-threats



The last link above provides important detailed information as to why the charges of Venezuelan government involvement in the Columbian narcotic trade are untrue. Part of Russia’s response to this US campaign has been for Rosneft to sell its Venezuelan subsidiaries to a company wholly owned by the Russian government, in order to avoid US sanctions:

https://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Russias-Largest-Oil-Producer-Halts-Operations-In-Venezuela.html

In general Russia has undertaken a whole suit of measures to insulate its economy against the sanctions imposed since 2014, with the result that it now has a highly resilient, diversified and increasingly innovative economy with two sovereign wealth funds, with gold and foreign exchange funds sufficient to pay off all government and corporate debt, and with a highly trained and well-equipped military that implies that some forms of intervention and destabilisation are much less likely to succeed. In the global energy power game, the fact that US President Trump phoned Putin amid speculation of offers to ease various kinds of sanctions in return for a renewed agreement on oil output with OPEC is certainly a very important development. For an economy not much larger than that of Germany on the Purchasing Power Parity measure, an economy that defaulted on its debts in 1998, this is quite a turnaround.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION PREAPPROVED SAUDI OIL PRICE WAR AGAINST RUSSIA, IRAN

Trump Administration Preapproved Saudi Oil Price War Against Russia, Iran

South Front

On March 23rd, Politico published a piece looking into the crashing prices of oil, and specifically the US West Texas Intermediate benchmark.In it, it described the way US President Donald Trump initially praised oil and natural gas as “our gold.” “That’s our gold,” Trump declared. “That’s gold underneath our feet.” He did so during the ceremony when Shell Oil was beginning to build new natural gas processing facility, and celebrated the nation’s shale boom. The collapse of energy prices, due to the Saudi-initiated price war with Russia, has led to the cancelling of that project.

The crash is also estimated to knock out about half of all shale producers, according to analysts at Raymond James Inc., if prices remain at between $20 and $30 per barrel. The WTI price as of the morning on March 25th is $24.77 per barrel. “There is no sugar coating it, U.S. oilfield activity will collapse with oil prices well below $30,” on the WTI benchmark, said analyst Praveen Narra of Raymond James in a market update published on March 23. “The pace of rig count declines is likely to occur at a pace we have not seen before.” In addition, Trump either fails to recognize or doesn’t want to address it.

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Notably, Politico suggested that Riyadh was carrying out its oil price war against Russia, and even ramping up pressure with a direct approval from the US, at least based on the testimonies of two unnamed sources.

Two people with knowledge of the call told POLITICO that Trump told the Saudi leader that he was fine with the kingdom’s plans to produce more oil to try to squeeze Russia out of certain markets. He only asked that the coming flood of oil wouldn’t drive prices down far enough to hurt U.S. producers.

“Keep [prices] low, but keep it viable” for U.S. drillers to remain in business, was Trump’s message, according to a former senior administration official who was briefed on the call. “It wasn’t a difficult conversation. It was just, ‘Hey, want to make sure we’re on the same page here.’ Saudi said, ‘We gotcha.’”

Thus, it would appear that even MSM is admitting that, maybe, it wasn’t Russia initiating the campaign to “ruin” the US economy, but it was rather Saudi Arabia carrying out this undertaking to flood the oil market, as it has done similarly in the past.

According to Ryan Sitton, the state oil regulator in Texas, tens of thousands of Texans are being laid off at the Perm oil shale fields in West Texas as companies stop drilling. Abbreviation messages began to appear. Last week, Canary LLC service and drilling company cut 43 workers.

And the oil pipe manufacturer Tenaris SA is sacking 223 people from the Houston plant. But the biggest “blowout” so far came from Halliburton Co., the world’s largest provider of fracking services, who laid off 3,500 workers at its headquarters in Houston.

The cuts follow a sharp drop in prices for West Texas Intermediate, the benchmark oil brand in the United States. Futures in New York fell more than 60% this year, and they had the worst week since 1991.

While workers in almost every industry are at risk of slowing economic growth, few are at greater risk than those in the oil sector.

According to a report from the Brookings Institution, the Midlands-Odessa region of West Texas, dominated by Occidental Petroleum Corp. and Parsley Energy Inc., may be completely busted.

According to Sitton, more than 40% of the workforce in Midland is engaged in industries with a high degree of risk, mainly oil and gas, which is the highest rate among all regions of the United States.

In general, the labor force in the services sector today is about 316,000, which is 30% lower than in 2014.

According to Moody’s Corp., the next four years will be crucial for the oilfield services sector, as North American service companies owed $32 billion in debt by 2024.

The lack of pricing reserves for service companies begins to appear at a time when their customers are looking for discounts.

“I urge you, as a respected supplier, to review your prices in accordance with this mission and inform us of your adjustments at your earliest convenience,” wrote Parsley Energy Chief Operating Officer David Dell’Osso in a letter with which he managed Check out Bloomberg News. “In 2020, we focus on a mission to develop our assets in a safe, efficient and environmentally responsible way while reducing costs by at least 25%.”

This week, Vicki Hollub warned, without revealing details, of her employees at Occidental Petroleum about the “aggressive steps” that the geological company will take.

“In the coming days we plan to provide you with more detailed information,” Hollub wrote in an email sent to employees on Tuesday. “Some of the measures we take will be temporary during this crisis, while others may be permanent.”

In short: the lobbyists are suffering, at least the energy sector ones. This cannot stand, and MSM needs to counter these adverse movements and return to the status quo and the good profit margins, even at the expense at people’s “grandparents.”

Meanwhile, the oil industry is expected to keep filling oil storage with crude in the weeks and months ahead as the pandemic’s economic contagion spreads through the rest of the world, cutting demand for natural resources including oil.

The global oil price fell to lows of $25 a barrel, from more than $65 at the start of the year, and remains below $30 a barrel. Credit ratings agency S&P has warned the industry that the oil price may fall to $10 a barrel this year.

The hunt for affordable oil storage will be made more difficult after Saudi Arabia’s “vessel booking spree”, which has pushed freight rates “through the roof” in the past three weeks, the analysts said.

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تفاصيل المفاوضات الجارية لتسليم مأرب في اليمن دون قتال

باريس – نضال حمادة

بعد تحرير كامل محافظة الجوف وانتشار صور أرتال الدبابات التابعة لعبد ربه هادي منصور ترفع الرايات البيضاء في مناطق الجوف، أصبحت قوات أنصار الله – الحوثيين والجيش اليمني على مشارف محافظة مأرب التي تجري حالياً مفاوضات لتسليمها من دون قتال.

في معلومات «البناء» أن جولات مفاوضات تدور حالياً بين قبيلة مراد كبرى قبائل محافظة مأرب وبين أنصار الله الحوثيين لتسليم المحافظة من دون قتال. وتشير المعلومات التي حصلت عليها «البناء» من مصادر لها علاقة بجولات التفاوض هذه أن الذي يقود المفاوضات عن الجانب الحوثي هو القائد العسكري أبو علي الحاكم، بينما يمثل قبيلة مراد شيخها غالب الأجدع، وسط تكتم شديد على سير التفاوض بناء على طلب قبيلة مراد، وذلك يعود إلى أموال تسلمتها القبيلة مؤخراً من المملكة العربية السعودية حتى تقاتل تقدم أنصار الله – الحوثيين نحو محافظة مأرب.

المعلومات تشير إلى رغبة قبيلة مراد تأجيل أنصار الله والجيش اليمني هجومهم في مأرب مدة ستين يوماً حتى يتسنّى للقبيلة ترتيب الأوضاع مع السعودية أو بمعنى أوضح حتى تمرّ فترة على تسلّم القبيلة للمال السعودي، لكن الجواب كان أن وضع مأرب تحديداً لا يحتمل أي تأخير وأن الهجوم العسكري الشامل وضع وفق خطة زمنية لا يمكن تجاهلها او العمل بخلافها، مهما كانت الظروف والحجج وبالتالي يجب التسليم دون قيد أو شرط مع ضمانات قدّمها القائد العسكري أبو علي الحاكم بعدم التعرّض لأحد في المحافظة وعدم نزع السلاح الفردي للقبيلة ولغيرها من القبائل مع ضرورة تسليم كل السلاح المتوسط والثقيل للجيش واللجان الشعبية. كما قدّم أنصار الله ضمانات بعدم العمل على تغيير في القيادات والمشيخات القبلية في المحافظة في حال تمّ التسليم من دون قتال، أما في حال قرّرت قبيلة مراد القتال فلن يكون هناك أيّ ضمانات لمن يواجه عسكرياً.

تحرير محافظة مأرب يعتبر نقلة نوعية في الحرب المفروضة على اليمن لكونها تضم النفط اليمني في الشمال، كما أنها تعتبر باباً لمحافظة شبوة الجنوبية التي تحوي القسم الآخر من النفط اليمني، وكان أحد أسباب الوحدة اليمينة أن النفط موجود على الحدود بين الشمال والجنوب في مأرب وشبوة، أو كما يردّد الفرنسيون شركات النفط هي التي وحّدت اليمن قبل أي شيء آخر، وتعتبر مأرب باب اليمن نحو السعودية وهي خاصرة السعودية الضعيفة وكانت قبائلها تاريخياً تحت الوصاية السعودية المباشرة ومعارضة للحكم المركزي في صنعاء. وقد أفشلت قبيلة مراد كل مشاريع علي عبدالله صالح السياحية في المحافظة بأوامر من السعودية عبر ممارسة الخطف والقتل لكل من أتى للسياحة في المحافظة التي تُعتبر مركزاً تاريخياً عالمياً بامتياز، وقبيلة مراد من القبائل الشديدة المراس في القتال مقاتلين. وبالتالي قد تكون فرص الاتفاق جيدة بين الطرفين، خصوصاً مع الانهيارات المتتالية والمتسارعة لكل قوى التحالف السعودية على أرض المعركة، كما يلعب العامل التاريخيّ دوراً كبيراً في مساعي تجنب المعركة لكون قبيلة مراد التي يعود نسبها الى مراد بن مذحج هي نفسها القبيلة التي ينحدر منها عبد الرحمن بن ملجم المرادي..

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IMPRESSIVE SUCCESSES OF HOUTHIS IN YEMENI WAR AMID SAUDI OIL GAMBLE

South Front

The conflict in Yemen has escalated amid the crisis on the oil market caused by aggressive actions of Saudi Arabia.

On March 8, Riyadh launched its oil gamble flooding the market and offering unprecedented discounts in an attempt to defeat other oil producers, mainly Russia and Iran, and capture their share. In the next several weeks, Saudi Arabia was increasing its pressure on Russia on Iran slashing oil prices, but the Kingdom forgot about its own soft underbelly.

By March 17, forces of Ansar Allah (the Houthis) have captured most of the province of al-Jawf, including the provincial capital – al-Hazm, from the Saudi-led coalition and its Yemeni proxies. In this battle only, Saudi-led forces lost hundreds pieces of military equipment, including dozens of battle tanks and artillery guns. The Saudi Air Force carried out airstrikes on positions, HQs and weapon depots of its allies. However, the number of abandoned equipment and the speed of fleeing of Saudi-backed troops were so high that 10-20 airstrikes were just not enough to compensate them.

Following the swift advance in al-Jawf, Asnar Allah turned its attention to the neighboring province of Marib. They captured a number of Saudi positions east of Sirwah, including the Kufil military base, a key stronghold of Saudi-backed forces on the route to Marib city. After this, the defense of Saudi proxies started collapsing in the entire eastern part of the province. If the situation develops in the same direction and further, Yemeni forces will likely be able to reach and besiege Marib city in early April and capture it by the middle of the month.

Meanwhile, Ansar Allah units forces pro-Saudi forces from the key district of Nihm near the country’s capital Sanaa. The district had been contested since early 2020. Nonetheless, now, it’s

Pro-Saudi sources regularly claim that Ansar Allah suffers large-scale casualties, but often fail to provide any visual evidence to confirm these claims. In own turn, most of the recent successes of Ansar Allah were carefully documented by their media branch.

The Saudi-led coalition also faced a never-before-seen resistance to its air power. In January and February, Ansar Allah shot down several unmanned aerial vehicles of the coalition. In March, its forces moved to direct attacks on coalition warplanes. On March 14, Yemeni air defense forces launched missiles at a group of F-15 and F-16 jets over the province of al-Jawf. On March 19, several missiles were launched at coalition warplanes over the district of Sirwah in the province. In both cases, Ansar Allah employed the so-called Fatir-1 air defense system. This is a locally-modernized variant of the Soviet-era 2K12 Kub system. The Fatir-1 was revealed in August of 2019. The claimed effective range of the system is 22 km.

Fatir-1 launched did not result in downing of any coalition jets, but the existence of the new threat itself limited operations of the Saudi air power.

In March, the main area of clashes between Ansar Allah and Saudi forces was northeastern and central Yemen. However, if the oil price will remain under the level of 35 USD per a barrel, a new round of Ansar Allah offensive will take place inside Saudi Arabia.

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WORLD IS IN CRISIS TO WHICH RUSSIA HAD BEEN PREPARING

The states that invested in their independence and national economies despite the foreign pressure reap the benefit of their efforts. At the same time, the states that sold their independence and became puppets of the global elites faced expected consequences.

World Is In Crisis To Which Russia Had Been Preparing

South Front

In early, 2020 the world entered a new global crisis. The new round of economic turbulence coincided with the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19), which started in China and rapidly expanded across the globe. So, mainstream media outlets rushed to explain the crisis developments with the pandemic impact. However, in fact, the global economic crisis has been forecasted by experts for a long time and has reasonable grounds: from the disbalance of the global economy and contradictions among key oil producers to the growing tensions between influential players in the key regions around the world. Saudi Arabia’s ongoing offensive on the oil market is a logical result of these developments.

The coronavirus crisis worked as a trigger revealing the truth behind the lies and propaganda of the mainstream media and the global establishment. The reality broke into pieces the myth about the so-called ‘Euro-Atlantic solidarity’, demonstrated the almost zero-level effectiveness of the European Union bureaucracy and once again showcased that countries selling their sovereignty for some theoretical financial and diplomatic support of the Big Brother should not expect something good during crises.

The world sole superpower, the United States, appeared to be prepared for the economic turbulence, mostly thanks to actions of the Trump administration. At the same time, the U.S. faced significant problems with containing the COVID-19 pandemic and its readiness for such threats are much lower than those of China and even Russia. The United Kingdom revealed itself as another country surprisingly unprepared for the global meltdown. The situation in Italy, Spain and other southern and eastern European states needs no comments. They experience a lack of food and drugs supplies, while their governments failed to prepare and adopt the needed anti-epidemic measures before it became too late. Germany is probably among a few European states that has been prepared for the crisis at least on the level of Russia.

The irony of the situation is that Russia’s stability (in comparison with other states) has become a result of the actions of the so-called collective West. Just 10 years ago, it was importing grain, a large part of food products. It lacked some key technologies in the production of medical supplies. For Russian companies, it was just cheaper and easier to act this way than develop own capabilities in the field. However, the increasing sanction pressure forced the Russians to invest into own national industry and economy thus preparing the state to the upcoming crisis.

If one takes a look at the current situation in Russia in the medical sphere and with food supplies, he would find that the country is passing through crisis without any notable problems. Even the short panic amid the collapse of the European healthcare and the creation of the COVID-19 crisis zone in Italy and a Western-run fake news campaign in Russian social media did not lead to even a short and slight crisis in big cities.

Click to see the full-size image

As of March 20, Russia’s National Wealth Fund (NWF) had assets worth US$151.35 billion, or about 9 percent of Russia’s gross domestic product. The NWF allows Russia to have a security zone of 5-6 years even with oil prices at the level of ~$20 a barrel. It’s hard to imagine that Saudi Arabia, which caused the oil prices crisis by own actions, could pass the same period without a large-scale crisis with such prices. Furthermore, the NWF is operated by the Russian government, not by private persons with own interests. Even taking into account some level of management issues and corruption, the NWF would give the Kremlin to protect key economic spheres and keep the social stability in the country.

The crisis also fueled the ongoing structural economic changes around the world. Economic activities are becoming more and more digitalized. People are forced to work remotely. The importance of the modern IT and media technologies are growing even further. Corporations and governments already started exploiting these trends. Some experts even suggest that in many cases the coronavirus crisis is being fueled artificially in order to push the world in a right direction. Others argue that this is a logical succession of events.

In any case, the ongoing crisis became an important turning point for the current international system revealing the truth behind the global myths, lies and whitewashing. The states that invested in their independence and national economies despite the foreign pressure reap the benefit of their efforts. At the same time, the states that sold their independence and became puppets of the global elites faced expected consequences.

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China locked in hybrid war with US

Photo: AFP
China locked in hybrid war with US

Via The Saker

By Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

Fallout from Covid-19 outbreak puts Beijing and Washington on a collision course

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made his position clear. Photo: AFP

Among the myriad, earth-shattering geopolitical effects of coronavirus, one is already graphically evident. China has re-positioned itself. For the first time since the start of Deng Xiaoping’s reforms in 1978, Beijing openly regards the US as a threat, as stated a month ago by Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Munich Security Conference during the peak of the fight against coronavirus.

Beijing is carefully, incrementally shaping the narrative that, from the beginning of the coronovirus attack, the leadership knew it was under a hybrid war attack. Xi’s terminology is a major clue. He said, on the record, that this was war. And, as a counter-attack, a “people’s war” had to be launched.

Moreover, he described the virus as a demon or devil. Xi is a Confucianist. Unlike some other ancient Chinese thinkers, Confucius was loath to discuss supernatural forces and judgment in the afterlife. However, in a Chinese cultural context, devil means “white devils” or “foreign devils”: guailo in Mandarin, gweilo in Cantonese. This was Xi delivering a powerful statement in code.

When Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, voiced in an incandescent tweet the possibility that “it might be US Army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan” – the first blast to this effect to come from a top official – Beijing was sending up a trial balloon signaliing that the gloves were finally off. Zhao Lijian made a direct connection with the Military Games in Wuhan in October 2019, which included a delegation of 300 US military.

He directly quoted US CDC director Robert Redfield who, when asked last week whether some deaths by coronavirus had been discovered posthumously in the US, replied that  “some cases have actually been diagnosed this way in the US today.”

Zhao’s explosive conclusion is that Covid-19 was already in effect in the US before being identified in Wuhan – due to the by now fully documented inability of US to test and verify differences compared with the flu.

Adding all that to the fact that coronavirus genome variations in Iran and Italy were sequenced and it was revealed they do not belong to the variety that infected Wuhan, Chinese media are now openly  asking questions and drawing a connection with the shutting down in August last year of the “unsafe” military bioweapon lab at Fort Detrick, the Military Games, and the Wuhan epidemic. Some of these questions had been asked – with no response – inside the US itself.

Extra questions linger about the opaque Event 201 in New York on October 18, 2019: a rehearsal for a worldwide pandemic caused by a deadly virus – which happened to be coronavirus. This magnificent coincidence happened one month before the outbreak in Wuhan.

Event 201 was sponsored by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Economic Forum (WEF), the CIA, Bloomberg, John Hopkins Foundation and the UN.  The World Military Games opened in Wuhan on the exact same day.

Irrespective of its origin, which is still not conclusively established, as much as Trump tweets about the “Chinese virus,” Covid-19 already poses immensely serious questions about biopolitics (where’s Foucault when we need him?) and bio-terror.

The working hypothesis of coronavirus as a very powerful but not Armageddon-provoking bio-weapon unveils it as a perfect vehicle for widespread social control – on a global scale.

Cuba rises as a biotech power

Just as a fully masked Xi visiting the Wuhan frontline last week was a graphic demonstration to the whole planet that China, with immense sacrifice, is winning the “people‘s war” against Covid-19, Russia, in a Sun Tzu move on Riyadh whose end result was a much cheaper barrel of oil, helped for all practical purposes to kick-start the inevitable recovery of the Chinese economy. This is how a strategic partnership works.

The chessboard is changing at breakneck speed. Once Beijing identified coronavirus as a bio-weapon attack the “people’s war” was launched with the full force of the stateMethodically. On a “whatever it takes” basis. Now we are entering a new stage, which will be used by Beijing to substantially recalibrate the interaction with the West, and under very different frameworks when it comes to the US and the EU.

Soft power is paramount. Beijing sent an Air China flight to Italy carrying 2,300 big boxes full of masks bearing the script, “We are waves from the same sea, leaves from the same tree, flowers from the same garden.” China also sent a hefty humanitarian package to Iran, significantly aboard eight flights from Mahan Air – an airline under illegal, unilateral Trump administration sanctions.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic could not have been more explicit: “The only country that can help us is China. By now, you all understood that European solidarity does not exist. That was a fairy tale on paper.”

Under harsh sanctions and demonized since forever, Cuba is still able to perform breakthroughs – even on biotechnology. The anti-viral Heberon – or Interferon Alpha 2b – a therapeutic, not a vaccine, has been used with great success in the treatment of coronavirus. A joint venture in China is producing an inhalable version, and at least 15 nations are already interested in importing the therapeutic.

Now compare all of the above with the Trump administration offering $1 billion to poach German scientists working at biotech firm Curevac, based in Thuringia, on an experimental vaccine against Covid-19, to have it as a vaccine “only for the United States.”

Social engineering psy-op?

Sandro Mezzadra, co-author with Brett Neilson of the seminal The Politics of Operations: Excavating Contemporary Capitalism, is already trying to conceptualize where we stand now in terms of fighting Covid-19.

We are facing a choice between a Malthusian strand – inspired by social Darwinism – “led by the Johnson-Trump-Bolsonaro axis” and, on the other side, a strand pointing to the “requalification of public health as a fundamental tool,” exemplified by China, South Korea and Italy. There are key lessons to be learned from South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore.

The stark option, Mezzadra notes, is between a “natural population selection,” with thousands of dead, and “defending society” by employing “variable degrees of authoritarianism and social control.” It’s easy to imagine who stands to benefit from this social re-engineering, a 21st century remix of Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death.

Amid so much doom and gloom, count on Italy to offer us Tiepolo-style shades of light. Italy chose the Wuhan option, with immensely serious consequences for its already fragile economy. Quarantined Italians remarkably reacted by singing on their balconies: a true act of metaphysical revolt.

Not to mention the poetic justice of the actual St. Corona (“crown” in Latin) being buried in the city of Anzu since the 9th century. St. Corona was a Christian killed under Marcus Aurelius in 165 AD, and has been for centuries one of the patron saints of pandemics.

Not even trillions of dollars raining from the sky by an act of divine Fed mercy were able to cure Covid-19. G-7 “leaders” had to resort to a videoconference to realize how clueless they are – even as China’s fight against coronavirus gave the West a head start of several weeks.

Shanghai-based Dr. Zhang Wenhongone of China’s top infectious disease experts, whose analyses have been spot on so far, now says China has emerged from the darkest days in the “people’s war” against Covid-19. But he does not think this will be over by summer. Now extrapolate what he’s saying to the Western world.

It’s not even spring yet, and we already know it takes a virus to mercilessly shatter the Goddess of the Market. Last Friday, Goldman Sachs told no fewer than 1,500 corporations that there was no systemic risk. That was false.

New York banking sources told me the truth: systemic risk became way more severe in 2020 than in 1979, 1987 or 2008 because of the hugely heightened danger that the $1.5 quadrillion derivative market would collapse.

As the sources put it, history had never before seen anything like the Fed’s intervention via its little understood elimination of commercial bank reserve requirements, unleashing a potential unlimited expansion of credit to prevent a derivative implosion stemming from a total commodity and stock market collapse of all stocks around the world.

Those bankers thought it would work, but as we know by now all the sound and fury signified nothing. The ghost of a derivative implosion – in this case not caused by the previous possibility, the shutting down of the Strait of Hormuz – remains.

We are still barely starting to understand the consequences of Covid-19 for the future of neoliberal turbo-capitalism. What’s certain is that the whole global economy has been hit by an insidious, literally invisible circuit breaker. This may be just a “coincidence.” Or this may be, as some are boldly arguing, part of a possible, massive psy-op creating the perfect geopolitlcal and social engineering environment for full-spectrum dominance.

Additionally, along the hard slog down the road, with immense, inbuilt human and economic sacrifice, with or without a reboot of the world-system, a more pressing question remains: will imperial elites still choose to keep waging full-spectrum-dominance hybrid war against China?

MbS condition will get worse after Salman death: Paul Pillar

March 13, 2020 – 12:42

TEHRAN – Professor Paul Pillar, who was CIA intelligence analyst for 28 years, tells that the death of Salman and the need to select a new king will bring to a head the competition between MBS and those members of the royal family who oppose his acquisition of absolute power.

Pillar says “But he has been able to do what he has done because his father, King Salman, has permitted him to grab power.”  

He also adds that “Once Salman is gone, other family members may feel better able to challenge MBS.”

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: What were the reasons for the arrest of the Saudi princes, including the brother of King Salman, by the Saudi government?

A: The arrests were another step in Mohammed bin Salman’s (MBS) consolidation of power.  The announced charges against the arrested individuals probably are contrived.  Two of those arrested–Prince Ahmed and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef–are along those who would have the greatest claim to power themselves, and evidently MBS considered it necessary to eliminate them as competitors.     

Q: The physical condition of King Salman seems to be inadequate and this has led to a power struggle in Saudi Arabia. How do you foresee the power equations after King Salman’s eventual death?

A: The death of Salman and the need to select a new king will bring to a head the competition between MBS and those members of the royal family who oppose his acquisition of absolute power.  MBS clearly has the insight track for becoming king.  But he has been able to do what he has done because his father, King Salman, has permitted him to grab power.  Once Salman is gone, other family members may feel better able to challenge MBS.

Q: Is Muhammad bin Salman also an American and Western option for the kingdom in Saudi Arabia?

A: The Trump administration seems to be satisfied with having a close relationship with MBS, even though this has meant largely looking the other way regarding the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. This policy risks associating the United States with controversial policies of MBS, and antagonizing elements in Saudi Arabia that may yet successfully oppose him. 

Q: Given Mohammed bin Salman’s actions in domestic politics, including music concerts and sidelines on social and cultural reforms, will the clergy and traditionalists tolerate his actions?

A: Whoever is the ruler in Saudi Arabia will face competing demands from the conservative religious establishment and from other Saudis, especially younger ones, who favor a more liberal society.  There is no reason to believe that MBS will be any better at striking this balance than another ruler would be.  Probably MBS will follow he example of earlier Saudi rulers and grant concessions to the religious establishment over matters most important to them, such as education, in exchange for MBS getting some more flexibility in making changes in other areas.    

Q: In your opinion, what economic and social impacts of a fall in oil prices will have on a country such as Saudi Arabia, whose economy is dependent on oil?

A: The negative impact is substantial, and it is likely to get worse for Saudi Arabia before it gets better. Russia has indicated it does not intend to cut oil production to boost prices, and that it would be happy to see low prices for a while to try to hurt U.S. oil producers using fracking technology. 

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