Thursday, October 9, 2014

Today's Links

1--Russian public think USA is No.1 enemy – poll, RT


The overwhelming majority of Russians think the US is their main enemy, and more than half name China as Russia’s main friend, a recent poll shows.
According to the research conducted by the influential Russian VTSIOM center, the number of Russians who think that USA is their country’s main foe grew from 25 percent in 2008 to 73 percent currently. Ukraine ranked second with 32 percent, compared to 21 percent in 2008.


2---Panetta suggests Obama failed to stop Putin in Ukraine, Press TV


3--Lebanon army foils infiltration attempt by terrorists, press tv


4---Turkey invasion: A red line for Russia, press tv


Erdogan thinks that he has the right to invade and occupy territories of Turkey’s neighbors and ignore and violate the sovereignty of these Arab countries. He has supported terrorist organizations in Syria and allowed illegal oil trading by these groups, ignored Baghdad’s sovereignty over the Iraqi Kurdistan and its resources and insulted the Egyptian president in the United Nations.
The Erdogan government has been for long a key supporter of ISIL, al-Nusra Front and some other terrorist organizations. However, Ankara is now trying to use ISIL advances towards its border as a pretext to illegally send troops to occupy a part of the northern Syrian territory without the authorization of the Syrian government. This is clearly a war act.

The objective of this strategy is to weaken the Syrian state and give the Ankara-backed opposition armed groups a sanctuary from which they can launch attacks on the Syrian army and where the Turkish forces can train them. ...


Other countries, such as Egypt and United Arab Emirates, do not want a Turkish intervention in Syria either. They think that Turkish government, alongside with Qatar, is trying to mobilize its allies of the Muslim Brotherhood in northern Syria and this is a clear threat for these countries, which are battling this group in their territories.
Even Saudi Arabia, despite its hostility towards the Syrian government, will not likely be happy either, as the Saudi regime does not want a more powerful Brotherhood-supporting Turkey in the region.
Secondly, Syria and Iraq has rejected any military Turkish interference. Iraqi Prime Minister Haydar Abadi reiterated on October 7 to his Turkish counterpart, Ahmed Davutoglu, that Iraq rejects any ground intervention of foreign forces in his country under the pretext of fighting ISIL. Syria has also warned that any Turkish military deployment in its territory would be an “act of aggression”.
Thirdly, Iran and Russia have clearly stated that Syria is a red line and any aggression against Syria would violate their principles and interests. Russia will certainly block any project in the UN Security Council to create a buffer or a no-fly zone. Both countries would also respond to such a Turkish action. Russia has recently sent a new warship to the Mediterranean and has held military maneuvers in the Caspian Sea alongside with Iran in order to send a signal to Turkey.....


For the West, Erdogan’s Turkey is becoming a serious problem too. Turkey, a NATO member, is one of the main supporters of extremism in the Middle East, and its imperialist “neo-otoman” dreams are endangering the whole region and feeding terrorism everywhere. Thus, it is not surprising that Erdogan has become the new hero of the extremist sites and forums in Internet.
However, a Turkish intervention in Syria would have dire consequences for both Erdogan and Turkey. He will soon discover everyone is against him and such a step would renew the fear of “the Otoman resurgence” among the Arab peoples. Therefore, it would become the last nail of the coffin of the Turkish leadership’s ambitions in the Middle East


5---18 Sobering Facts About The Unprecedented Student Loan Debt Crisis In The US, zero hedge


6--Dow at 8,000 , Bill Bonner


7---IMF warns period of ultra-low interest rates poses fresh financial crisis threat, Guardian


Almost zero borrowing costs has encouraged speculation rather than hoped-for pick up in investment, says Fund


8--Gas Wars, RT


Moreover, it just so happens that the crisis in Syria erupted during negations between Syria, Iraq, and Iran to build a gas pipeline from the world’s largest natural gas field to the Syrian coast. Damascus signed the agreement with Iraq and Iran on June 25, 2011. Until the contract was cancelled in 2009, Stroytransgaz was even supposed to connect the pipeline between the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and the Syrian port of Baniyas.


Qatar and Turkey were hostile to the Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline agreement since it sidelined them as a natural gas exporter and as an energy corridor. The possibility that the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline could be used to export gas to the EU as a lower-priced rival to US LNG also had to be viewed negatively in Washington.
What the fighting in Syria and Iraq has done is put this project on hold whereas regime change will nullify it. ....


Energy war and Syria: Mediterranean lockout?

The situation in Syria, where the US has deliberately been destroying energy infrastructure under the mantra of fighting the ISIL, can also be viewed from the same prism of petro-politics. The natural gas off the Levantine coastline that encompasses Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Gaza hold immense reserves of natural gas. Here too the US is working to push out Russia and to control the gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean.


Instead of competing fairly in the EU energy market, the US has been working hard to eliminate Russia as a competitor by getting Brussels to simply cut its energy ties with Gazprom and the Russian energy sector. This is precisely why the US has pushed the EU member states to impose sanctions against Russia and this way put legal restrictions and barriers to buying Russian gas.

Energy war and Ukraine: The Empire of ‘frack’ and shale gas

In context of the energy war, a Polish LNG terminal has been setup in the Baltic port of Swinoujscie with plans to receive its first deliveries of natural gas from North America by the end of June 2015.
Poland and Ukraine are both seen as important possessions for the US in its quest to dominate the gas trade. The two countries that have the second and fourth largest shale gas deposits—if you exclude Russia, their respective reserves are the first and second largest in Europe. The US has plans to control the large untapped shale gas reserves in both countries.


Major US oil companies Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Marathon Oil—which operate in Iraqi Kurdistan and is a shareholder of post-Jamahiriya Libya’s Waha Oil Company—have all got huge stakes in exploring and developing Polish shale gas.
Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovich’s government had signed a deal with the Anglo-Dutch energy giant Royal Dutch Shell to explore and drill for natural gas in East Ukraine in January 2013 with zero taxes. Another agreement was signed in November 2013 between Yanukovich’s government and Chevron to also explore and develop the energy reserves in West Ukraine. Just a year earlier, in 2012, Kiev also awarded a gas contract off the Crimean coast to a consortium led by ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell to develop the Skifska gas field.


The Skifska gas field is not the only field off the Crimean coast that US oil and gas corporations were interested in. Next to it Skifska are located the Foroska, Prykerchenska, and Tavriya fields. While Prykerchenska field was awarded to the US offshore company Vanco Prykerchenska Ltd. and Foroska was under the management of Chornomornaftogaz, the Foroska and Tarivya fields were both the subjects of continuing discussions.


In part, US hostilities towards the rebels in East Ukraine are tied to protecting the shale gas concessions that American energy corporations have received from Kiev. Andrey Purgin, the Deputy Prime Minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, has even stated that the same US tactics that were used in Iraq, which include the calculated destruction of civilian infrastructure, are being applied in Eastern Ukraine. These US operations are run via proxy “soldiers of fortune” or mercenaries and “hired guns.” According to a May 2014 report by Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper, the ill-famed US private security firm Academi, which had renamed itself from Blackwater and Xe Services owing to its awful record in Iraq, was unleashed on Donetsk and Lugansk


9---MH17 Crash Victim Found With Oxygen Mask On: Reports, RIA Novosti


10--Turkey is a steady source of Isil recruits, gulf news


Hundreds of foreign fighters have joined the ranks of Isil in its self-proclaimed caliphate that sweeps over vast territories of Iraq and Syria, including some from Europe and the United States. But one of the biggest source of recruits is neighbouring Turkey, a Nato member with an undercurrent of Islamist discontent


11---Rob Johnson on the Uber Rich: Top 400 US Billionaires’ Wealth Equals Brazil’s GDP
naked capitalism


12---The Oil Weapon, smirking chimp


Fighting the Iranians
In the case of Iran, Washington has moved aggressively to curtail Tehran’s ability to finance its extensive nuclear program both by blocking its access to Western oil-drilling technology and by curbing its export sales. Under the Iran Sanctions Act, foreign firms that invest in the Iranian oil industry are barred from access to U.S. financial markets and subject to other penalties...


There is another factor, no less crucial, in the aggressive use of the oil weapon as an essential element of foreign policy.....


Fighting Vladimir Putin
The same outlook apparently governs U.S. policy toward Russia.
Prior to Russia’s seizure of Crimea and its covert intervention in eastern Ukraine, major Western oil companies, including BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Total of France, were pursuing elaborate plans to begin production in Russian-controlled sectors of the Black Sea and the Arctic Ocean, mainly in collaboration with state-owned or state-controlled firms like Gazprom and Rosneft. There were, for instance, a number of expansive joint ventures between Exxon and Rosneft to drill in those energy-rich waters...


That Washington is prepared to move in this direction reflects not only the recent surge in U.S. crude oil output, but also a sense that energy, in this time of globalization, constitutes a strategic asset of unparalleled importance. To control oil flows across the planet and deny market access to recalcitrant producers is increasingly a major objective of American foreign policy




When first employed, the oil weapon was intended to exploit the industrial world’s heavy dependence on petroleum imports from the Middle East. Over time, however, those producing countries became ever more dependent on oil revenues to finance their governments and enrich their citizens. Washington now seeks to exploit this by selectively denying access to world oil markets, whether through sanctions or the use of force, and so depriving hostile producing powers of operating revenues.
The most dramatic instance of this came on September 23rd, when American aircraft bombed refineries and other oil installations in areas of Syria controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, also known as ISIL or IS). An extremist insurgent movement that has declared a new “caliphate,” ISIS is not, of course, a major oil producer, but it has taken control of oil fields and refineries that once were operated by the regime of Bashar al-Assad in eastern Syria. The revenue generated by these fields, reportedly $1 to $2 million daily, is being used by ISIS to generate a significant share of its operating expenses. This has given that movement the wherewithal to finance the further recruitment and support of thousands of foreign fighters, even as it sustains a high tempo of combat operations.


Black-market dealers in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey have evidently been assisting ISIS in this effort, purchasing the crude at a discount and selling at global market rates, now hovering at about $90 per barrel. Ironically, this clandestine export network was initially established in the 1990s by Saddam Hussein’s regime to evade U.S. sanctions on Iraq.
The Islamic State has proven adept indeed at exploiting the fields under its control, even selling the oil to agents of opposing forces, including the Assad regime. To stop this flow, Washington launched what is planned to be a long-term air campaign against those fields and their associated infrastructure. By bombing them, President Obama evidently hopes to curtail the movement’s export earnings and thereby diminish its combat capabilities. These strikes, he declared in announcing the bombing campaign, are intended to “take out terrorist targets” and “cut off ISIL’s financing.”


13---Syria intervention plan fueled by oil interests, not chemical weapon concern, Guardian Friday 30 August 2013


Massacres of civilians are being exploited for narrow geopolitical competition to control Mideast oil, gas pipelines


In May 2007, a presidential finding revealed that Bush had authorised CIA operations against Iran. Anti-Syria operations were also in full swing around this time as part of this covert programme, according to Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker. A range of US government and intelligence sources told him that the Bush administration had "cooperated with Saudi Arabia's government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations" intended to weaken the Shi'ite Hezbollah in Lebanon. "The US has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria," wrote Hersh, "a byproduct" of which is "the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups" hostile to the United States and "sympathetic to al-Qaeda." He noted that "the Saudi government, with Washington's approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria," with a view to pressure him to be "more conciliatory and open to negotiations" with Israel. One faction receiving covert US "political and financial support" through the Saudis was the exiled Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.
According to former French foreign minister Roland Dumas, Britain had planned covert action in Syria as early as 2009: "I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business", he told French television:
"I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria. This was in Britain not in America. Britain was preparing gunmen to invade Syria."....


Clark argues that this strategy is fundamentally about control of the region's vast oil and gas resources.
Much of the strategy currently at play was candidly described in a 2008 US Army-funded RAND report, Unfolding the Future of the Long War (pdf). The report noted that "the economies of the industrialized states will continue to rely heavily on oil, thus making it a strategically important resource." As most oil will be produced in the Middle East, the US has "motive for maintaining stability in and good relations with Middle Eastern states":
"The geographic area of proven oil reserves coincides with the power base of much of the Salafi-jihadist network. This creates a linkage between oil supplies and the long war that is not easily broken or simply characterized... For the foreseeable future, world oil production growth and total output will be dominated by Persian Gulf resources... The region will therefore remain a strategic priority, and this priority will interact strongly with that of prosecuting the long war."


In this context, the report identified several potential trajectories for regional policy focused on protecting access to Gulf oil supplies, among which the following are most salient:
"Divide and Rule focuses on exploiting fault lines between the various Salafi-jihadist groups to turn them against each other and dissipate their energy on internal conflicts. This strategy relies heavily on covert action, information operations (IO), unconventional warfare, and support to indigenous security forces... the United States and its local allies could use the nationalist jihadists to launch proxy IO campaigns to discredit the transnational jihadists in the eyes of the local populace... US leaders could also choose to capitalize on the 'Sustained Shia-Sunni Conflict' trajectory by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes against Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world.... possibly supporting authoritative Sunni governments against a continuingly hostile Iran." 
 

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