Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Today's Links



"A Look Inside The Secret Deal With Saudi Arabia That Unleashed The Syrian Bombing"


... the pound of flesh demanded by Saudi Arabia to "bless" US airstrikes and make them appear as an act of some coalition, is the removal of the Assad regime. Why? So that, as we also explained last year, the holdings of the great Qatar natural gas fields can finally make their way onward to Europe, which incidentally is also America's desire -- what better way to punish Putin for his recent actions than by crushing the main leverage the Kremlin has over Europe?




1--Oil Mania? From peak to valley


2008/9 The financial crisis reached its zenith in 2008 with perhaps the crucial point being the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Meanwhile, as trade credit on which the oil trade relies dried up, the oil price collapsed from $147/barrel in July 2008 to $35/barrel by December 2008.


2--Through an (oil) glass darkly, chris cook


The Oil Shock
Winding the clock back to 1973, the Arab oil embargo during the Yom Kippur War came as a complete shock to the US generally and to secretary of state Henry Kissinger in particular, who believed that this step would never be taken.  As a result of this embargo, the oil price quadrupled from US$3 to $12 per barrel by early 1974.
But as we now know from the then Saudi oil minister, Sheikh Zaki Yamani, while both the Saudis and the Shah of Iran were content for the oil price to fall back to $3, Kissinger prevailed upon the Shah to maintain the price at the higher level.


Why would Kissinger and the US have done that? Firstly, new oil production   in Alaska, the North Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico – which reduced US/UK reliance on the Saudis – was only viable at the higher price. Secondly, the US was able to pay for the oil with newly printed “petrodollars”, which it was agreed would be recycled to the US.  The genius of the strategy was that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) got the blame....


Since Saudi Arabian oil is essentially played out and in run-off mode, the profit margins that Big Oil requires are no longer to be made there, but are instead to be found in the development of Iran and Iraq’s vast, relatively unexploited, and extremely cheap to produce oil reserves.
This is today’s great oil prize. It was why a delegation of 120 French businessmen was in Tehran when I was last there, and why Germany, Italy and other European countries are all over Iran like a rash.
It is also why the US is so keen to conclude a deal with Iran, and why Big Oil will see to it that once an agreement has been reached their tame Republican legislators will call off the dogs




3--Putin speech: The World Order: New Rules or a Game without Rules.


4--Top German Editor: CIA Bribing Journalists


Members of the German media are paid by the CIA in return for spinning the news in a way that supports US interests, and some German outlets are nothing more than PR appendages of NATO, according to a new book by Udo Ulfkotte, a former editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of Germany's largest newspapers.
Ulfkotte is a serious mainstream journalist.


Operation Mockingbird, which began in the 1950s, was a secret CIA operation which recruited journalists to serve as mouthpieces for the American government. The program was officially terminated after it was exposed by the famous Church Committee investigations, but evidence of ongoing CIA influence over the media continues to accumulate. 


Just last week Glenn Greenwald's (of Edward Snowden fame) new groundbreaking investigative website, The Intercept, charged that the CIA leveraged its considerable influence - some might even say friendship - with media in order to discredit Gary Webb, the fearless American journalist who uncovered CIA cocaine trafficking as part of the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s


5--The New Saudi Foreign Policy (US assumes role as military franchise )  CFR


However, in this new cold war, the Saudis will have to use their military in a manner that they had not contemplated before. In the past four years, the Saudis have already intervened in two countries—Bahrain and Yemen—and more such interventions may soon be the order of the day. This means that the Saudi military has to undergo its own modernization with creation of a more capable officer corps and a standing army larger than the coup-conscious House of Saud had previously considered safe.

The Nuclear Option?
Hovering over all this are Saudi nuclear calculations. In recent years, the Saudis have expressed interest in nuclear technologies and even establishing a domestic enrichment infrastructure matching that of Iran. Atomic weapons may yet provide an important deterrent capability for a sparsely populated state with considerable wealth. Should it possess this weapon, then Saudi Arabia can ensure that its territory will not be molested by larger neighbors coveting its oil.

In the past, America’s security umbrella had provided the necessary reassurance, obviating the need for such measures of self-reliance. This may no longer be the case. It is important to stress that in the new Middle East, the Saudi nuclear calculus may no longer be contingent on what happens to Iran’s nuclear program. It was once thought that Saudis would try to match Iran’s capabilities, but increasingly, nuclear arms may make sense for the monarchy irrespective of what happens on the other side of the Persian Gulf.


the interim president, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, failed to govern effectively—unable to provide security and basic public goods such as electricity and fuel. With oil production declining, the state faced a fiscal crisis that Hadi’s government failed to address, and the economy slipped into a precipitous decline. 


7--Steen Jakobsen: Get Ready For The Biggest Margin Call In History


0% interest rates at $0 down has not created the additional momentum to the economy The Fed was hoping for. The trickle down effect, the wealth effect, has instead made for bigger inequality in society. So I think we’re set for a rate hike in either in June or in September. I think this will be the biggest margin call in history on the asset inflation created by the Fed ....


The market will ask in September when the Fed hikes: “Why are you hiking interest rate when growth is below target, inflation below target”? Well, the Fed's response will be “Because this is the biggest asset inflation we’ve seen in human history and we need to address it”.


8--US Weapons Industry Profits From Conflicts of Carnage in Middle East


The NYT describes the sales bonanza for the US weapons industry:
As the Middle East descends into proxy wars, sectarian conflicts and battles against terrorist networks, countries in the region that have stockpiled American military hardware are now actually using it and wanting more. The result is a boom for American defense contractors looking for foreign business in an era of shrinking Pentagon budgets — but also the prospect of a dangerous new arms race in a region where the map of alliances has been sharply redrawn. (Italics inserted by BuzzFlash.)

Last week, defense industry officials told Congress that they were expecting within days a request from Arab allies fighting the Islamic State — Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan and Egypt — to buy thousands of American-made missiles, bombs and other weapons, replenishing an arsenal that has been depleted over the past year.

America is the land of second, third, and even fourth chances.  The same applies to house lusting buyers.  The National Associate of Realtors (NAR) had some interesting data regarding potential future home buyers.   Their analysis found that between 2006 and 2014 some 9.3 million homeowners were foreclosed on, received a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure or short sold.  Bottom line, there were a boatload of people losing their homes when it was once thought to be the safest investment. 



12--The strategy was hardly unnoticed in Moscow, as evidenced by the annual report of the Russian Foreign Ministry published on Wednesday. The document said the US is pursuing “a systematic obstruction to Russia, rallying its allies with the goal to damage domestic economy” through blocking credits, technology transferee and an overall destabilization of the business environment.
The ministry said Washington had some success with the policy that resulted in an almost 8 percent drop of Russia’s trade with EU members in 2014


13--The US Hand in Libya’s Tragedy, SC


The R2Pers, led by then-National Security Council aide Power with the backing of Secretary of State Clinton, convinced President Barack Obama that a “humanitarian intervention” was needed to prevent Gaddafi from slaughtering people whom he claimed were Islamic terrorists.


As this U.S.-orchestrated bombing campaign was about to begin in late March 2011, Power told a New York City audience that the failure to act would have been “extremely chilling, deadly and indeed a stain on our collective conscience.” Power was credited with steeling Obama’s spine to press ahead with the military operation.


Under a United Nations resolution, the intervention was supposed to be limited to establishing no-fly zones to prevent the slaughter of civilians. But the operation quickly morphed into a “regime change” war with the NATO-led bombing devastating Gaddafi’s soldiers who were blown to bits when caught on desert roadways....


Now, the chaos that the U.S.-sponsored “regime change” unleashed has grown so horrific that it is causing desperate Libyans to climb into unseaworthy boats to escape the sharp edges of the Islamic State’s knives and other depredations resulting from the nationwide anarchy.
Thus, Libya should be a powerful lesson to Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power and the other R2Pers that often their schemes of armed “humanitarianism” can go badly awry and do much more harm than good. It should also be another reminder to the MSM to question the arguments presented by the U.S. government, rather than simply repeating those dubious claims and false narratives.


But neither seems to be happening. The “liberal interventionists” – like their neoconservative allies – remain unchastened, still pumping for more “regime change” wars, such as in Syria. Yet, many of these moral purists are silent about the slaughter of ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine, Palestinians in Gaza, or now Houthis and other Yemenis dying under Saudi bombs in Yemen.


14--Mortgage lending standards should not be relaxed further , oc housing
15--Sergei Glazyev on Ukraine, SC


16--Obama has been working hard for those oil companies to become enabled to sell such oil into Europe. (Who will provide EU with gas, that is the heart of the conflict)  The recent bombings in Syria, and in Ukraine, are a business-operation being carried out as a war
http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/eric-zuesse/59428/obama-s-secret-deals-with-saudi-arabia-and-qatar


In other words, the wars in both Syria and Ukraine are being fought basically in order to grab the European energy market, away from Russia, somewhat in the same way (though far more violently) as Iran’s share of that market was previously grabbed away by means of the U.S.-led sanctions against that country. The current bombing campaigns in both Syria and Ukraine are directed specifically against Iran’s chief ally, Russia...


there has been proposed, in order to promote  Russian gas flowing into Europe, an eastbound Iran-Iraq-Syria-Turkey-Europe gas pipeline (but sanctions stopped that); and there was also proposed, in order to undercut  Russian gas flowing into Europe, a northbound Qatar-Saudi-Jordan-Syria-Turkey-Europe gas pipeline -- those being two different and competing ways of supplying gas into Europe.
Russia’s ally Syria is crucial to both  proposed pipelines, which means that Assad has needed to be overthrown in order for the northbound pipeline from Qatar to be constructed and so to compete against Russia’s gas-supplies to Europe.
...
The Moslem Brotherhood want to control Syria, and would love to approve a gas pipeline from Qatar through Syria to Europe, to reward their chief benefactor, Qatar’s royals. As for the Saudi royals, they want Assad to be replaced by an anti-Iranian, Sunni ISIS leader, who will represent the Sauds’ Wahhabist sect in Islam, which provides Saudi royals their  ‘legitimacy.’ (Saudi royals say they don’t like Al Qaeda and ISIS, but that’s said mainly for public consumption in the West.) Right now, Saudi Arabia supplies less than 5% of Europe’s energy, which is a mere one-eighth of what Russia does. So: each of these two royal families relies primarily upon a different category of Islamists. Obama prefers the ‘moderate’ Muslim Brotherhood to the extremist ISIS, but Saudi royals accept his having that preference, because any way to weaken Iran and its backer Russia is fine with them, especially since it would open wide the enormous European market for their oil.


Other internal conflicts also exist within Obama’s team. For example, an expert on these matters, Felix Imonti, explained to me in a personal communication, that, “Qatar ... abandoned the [pipeline] plan in 2010 for a very simple reason. Saudi Arabia will not permit a pipeline to be constructed across its territory. Qatar is interested along with Turkey in installing a MB government in Syria. ... The Saudi objective is to drive out the Iranians from Syria.” The Saudis’ “objective was to establish a Wahhabi based [fundamentalist Moslem] state that would include western Iraq with Syria,” which, of course, is what ISIS is all about. Imonti also says: “Egypt [except for the brief time when it was controlled by the MB] is a bought puppet of Saudi Arabia. The Egyptians are bombing Qatari groups in Libya.” That Egyptian action is indirectly a Saudi attack against the Qatari royals’ own support-base. These issues between the two royal families are like squabbles within a family: more is shared in common than splits them apart. Obama’s decisions are often determinative on such matters.


So, America’s aristocracy supports both the Saudi and the Qatari aristocracies, despite their disagreements, in order to defeat the aristocracies in Russia, China, and the other “BRIC” countries.
Or, as President Obama's speech at West Point, on 28 May 2014, propagandized for this view on the part of America’s aristocracy: "Russia's aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China's economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us.” So, Obama made clear to the graduating cadets that the BRIC countries are the enemy, from the standpoint of America’s aristocracy. Ours want to crush the aristocrats in Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Though it’s alright for those other countries to produce more, that’s true only if American aristocrats control the local ones, like in any other international empire -- not  if the local aristocrats there do. Similarly, for example, the British Empire didn’t wish for local aristocrats in India to be in control, but only for those client aristocrats to be of use. Obama added, placing a nationalistic coloration on his promotion of America’s empire: “The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation.” He promised to keep it that way: “That has been true for the century passed [sp.: past [[somebody at the White House didn’t know the difference between ‘past’ and ‘passed’]] and it will be true for the century to come.”...


Qatar ships most of its gas into Asia, they’d like to have some way to pipe it more nearby, into Europe, to undercut Russia’s Gazprom. And that’s why the U.S. is working with Qatar to bump Assad from Syria.
The Saudis are actually doing the most of all to defeat Russia, by driving oil prices down so low as to upset Russia’s economic plans, which have been based upon minimum $100/barrel projections. We’re already around 10% below that. As Imonti writes, “The Saudis can sustain these lower prices for seven or eight years while drawing on their foreign reserves to cover the deficits. They could very well be trying to break the fracking business in the U.S. that has high production costs. [Of course, America’s gas aristocrats won’t like that, but Obama has to balance multiple sub-constituencies, including Qatar’s royals.] They might also be directing the target towards Russia that supports Assad and Iran. They could be doing all of the above with one action.” If the Sauds keep this up “for seven or eight years,” then Russia will be hit a lot harder than Russia is being hit, or is likely to be hit, by any economic sanctions.
Qatar has been the main funder of the overthrow-Assad movement, for the Moslem Brotherhood; and Saudi Arabia has been the main funder of the overthrow-Assad movement, for ISIS....


Russia has the world's largest proven reserves of natural gas, and that’s without their even needing to use fracking-techniques in order to get at it. #2 Iran has 69% as much gas, and is allied with Russia, and it also doesn’t frack. But sanctions close them out of Europe. Then #3 Qatar, at 47%, is allied with U.S. oil companies, but has no need to frack. Then #4 Turkmenistan, 37%, is allied with Russia, and also doesn’t frack. Then #5 U.S., 20%, is allied with U.S. oil companies, and only fracks. Then #6 Saudi Arabia, 17%, is also allied with U.S. oil companies, and doesn’t need to frack.
The European Union bans fracking, because they have environmentally-concerned publics. But U.S. and other Western corporate-owned oil companies want to frack gas in Europe, just as they do in America; and the new Ukrainian Government is desperate enough to want their land to be fracked.
UKRAINE:
The main shale-gas (fracking) field in Ukraine is Yuzivska, right in the middle of the Donbass region, where the residents don’t want fracking and don’t want U.S. rule (which includes fracking).


http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2014/10/24/the-secret-stupid-saudi-us-deal-on-syria/
"The Secret Stupid Saudi-US Deal on Syria"
WILLIAM ENGDAHL | OCTOBER 24, 20143 COMMENTS

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-05-16/mystery-sponsor-weapons-and-money-syrian-rebels-revealed
"Mystery Sponsor Of Weapons And Money To Syrian Mercenary ‘Rebels’ Revealed"
Tyler Durden on 05/16/2013 19:12 -0400
... [Excerpt:] So there you have it: Qatar doing everything it can to promote bloodshed, death and destruction by using not Syrian rebels, but mercenaries: professional citizens who are paid handsomely to fight and kill members of the elected regime (unpopular as it may be), for what? So that the unimaginably rich emirs of Qatar can get even richer. Although it is not as if Russia is blameless: all it wants is to preserve its own strategic leverage over Europe by being the biggest external provider of natgas to the continent through its own pipelines. Should Nabucco come into existence, Gazpromia would be very, very angry and make far less money!

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-09-25/look-inside-secret-deal-saudi-arabia-unleashed-syrian-bombing
"A Look Inside The Secret Deal With Saudi Arabia That Unleashed The Syrian Bombing"
Tyler Durden on 09/25/2014 10:17 -0400
… [Excerpt:] Said otherwise, the pound of flesh demanded by Saudi Arabia to "bless" US airstrikes and make them appear as an act of some coalition, is the removal of the Assad regime. Why? So that, as we also explained last year, the holdings of the great Qatar natural gas fields can finally make their way onward to Europe, which incidentally is also America's desire -- what better way to punish Putin for his recent actions than by crushing the main leverage the Kremlin has over Europe?




Only Assad is in the way 
http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Qatar-Rich-and-Dangerous.html
"Qatar: Rich and Dangerous"




No sooner had Qaddafi been caught and shot, Qatar approached Bashar Al-Assad to establish a transitional government with the Moslem Brotherhood. As you would expect, relinquishing power to the Brotherhood was an offer that he could refuse. It didn’t take long before he heard his sentence pronounced in January 2012 on the CBS television program, 60 Minutes by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani.
The Emir declared that foreign troops should be sent into Syria.  At the Friends of Syria conference in February, Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said, "We should do whatever necessary to help [the Syrian opposition], including giving them weapons to defend themselves."


Why would Qatar want to become involved in Syria where they have little invested? A map reveals that the kingdom is a geographic prisoner in a small enclave on the Persian Gulf coast.
It relies upon the export of LNG, because it is restricted by Saudi Arabia from building pipelines to distant markets.  In 2009, the proposal of a pipeline to Europe through Saudi Arabia and Turkey to the Nabucco pipeline was considered, but Saudi Arabia that is angered by its smaller and much louder brother has blocked any overland expansion.


Already the largest LNG producer, Qatar will not increase the production of LNG. The market is becoming glutted with eight new facilities in Australia coming online between 2014 and 2020.
A saturated North American gas market and a far more competitive Asian market leaves only Europe. The discovery in 2009 of a new gas field near Israel, Lebanon, Cyprus, and Syria opened new possibilities to bypass the Saudi Barrier and to secure a new source of income. Pipelines are in place already in Turkey to receive the gas. Only Al-Assad is in the way...


Qatar along with the Turks would like to remove Al-Assad and install the Syrian chapter of the Moslem Brotherhood. It is the best organized political movement in the chaotic society and can block Saudi Arabia’s efforts to install a more fanatical Wahhabi based regime. Once the Brotherhood is in power, the Emir’s broad connections with Brotherhood groups throughout the region should make it easy for him to find a friendly ear and an open hand in Damascus.
A control centre has been established in the Turkish city of Adana near the Syrian border to direct the rebels against Al-Assad. Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Saud asked to have the Turks establish a joint Turkish, Saudi, Qatari operations center. “The Turks liked the idea of having the base in Adana so that they could supervise its operations” a source in the Gulf told Reuters.
The fighting is likely to continue for many more months, but Qatar is in for the long term. At the end, there will be contracts for the massive reconstruction and there will be the development of the gas fields. In any case, Al-Assad must go. There is nothing personal; it is strictly business to preserve the future tranquility and well-being of Qatar.
http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Qatar-Rich-and-Dangerous.html
"Qatar: Rich and Dangerous"


17--Leading German Journalist Admits CIA 'Bribed' Him and Other Leaders of the Western 'Press'


18--Central Bank Governor Veers Off Script, Sees “Illusion of Liquidity” & “Asset Bubbles,” Dreads Crash , wolf street


Financial instability is the current central-bank and IMF euphemism for a crash. But even if central banks are afraid of this event, the current monetary policies “are not sustainable.” Someday, they must stop. Or else.
“To assess the risks associated with the unwinding of these policies, we have to identify the unintended consequences they have caused.” The policies were supposed to promote growth “by enticing more risk-taking by economic agents.” The idea was that, one, consumers would respond to QE, lower interest rates, and the hoped-for wealth effects by consuming more. And that, two, companies would respond with “real risk taking,” namely “higher corporate investment.”


None of these two things has happened. Consumers are struggling. And corporate investment actually fell, he said: “the median decline in the emerging and advanced economies has been around 2.5 percentage points of GDP.”
Instead, QE and interest rate repression have accomplished something else – the unintended consequences:
Meanwhile there has been massive investments in financial instruments of all sorts, both in local and external markets in what has been called the ‘search for yield,’ which has created considerable spillover effects of unconventional monetary policies.
The crux of the matter is that financial risk-taking has been far more responsive to unconventional monetary policies than real risk-taking has been


19--US troops arrive at western Ukraine training camp, wsws


20--Interview William Lind: The Washington establishment, which is bipartisan, thought that now we could rule the world. It could dictate to everyone and it could force its ideology, which is sometimes called globalism or liberal democracy, but is in fact the soft totalitarianism of Brave New World, on everyone in the world. If necessary, with military force. This is the classic hubris that has destroyed one great power after another. There is nothing new about it.


Victor Olevich:  Why has Washington chosen Ukraine as a battleground in its new Cold War against Russia?
William Lind: Russia under President Putin represents the state system and the way states normally act within the state system, based on their interests. The ideology of the Washington establishment says that is not how the world is going to work anymore.  It is instead going to be essentially a one world government based in Washington. This ideology includes such concepts as the feminist definition of women’s rights, devaluation of all religions, so called gay rights, and the belief that this must be universal.  Russia is saying no to this.  It is saying that it still believes in the state system and is going to pursue its own interests on the world stage.  So when Russia asserted its interests in the face of Ukraine threatening to join NATO, then Washington reacted very strongly....


William Lind: Yes, of course. The United States and the EU are being hurt by the sanctions also. Russia has very strong foreign currency reserves, and it owes about 800 billion dollars to Western banks, with much of that starting to come due. Now, because of the sanctions, Russia is not going to be able to roll that over by borrowing more in the West. Obviously, what Russia can do in that case is say that it is suspending payment on all loans due to institutions in countries that are participating in the sanctions until the sanctions are lifted. Suddenly, the sanctions will hurt Europe much more than they hurt Russia, because Europe will have another massive banking crisis on its hands. There was a news flash last week about Russia and China buying a great deal of gold.  This points to another way the sanctions can backfire. The rest of the world, and not just Russia, is getting tired of the United States trying to dictate to institutions, particularly banks, in their own countries, on what they will do, as if they were American institutions in complete disregard for their national sovereignty. One way to destroy this entire sanctions tool, not just in the case of Russia but also in regards to other countries, is to move trade to a gold basis instead of a dollar basis. The the role of American banks will become irrelevant, because trade will be completed in gold.


Victor Olevich: Is Europe able to act on its own, independently of U.S. foreign policy goals?
William Lind: No, Europe at this point is still very much in Washington’s orbit.  It would not be an exaggeration to say that the EU is an American satellite


21--Interview William Blum, RT


America, for two centuries has had one basic, overriding goal, and that is world domination, at least from 1890s if not earlier, one can say that. World domination is something which appeals to both Republicans and Democrats or Liberals or Conservatives. The idea that we're the exceptional nation and have something very important to impart to the rest of the world, our marvelous values, American exceptionalism... Each party believes in that very strongly. They don't argue about that at all, except through their campaign debate, they'll take certain opposing views just to appear different. But, in power, they have the exact same policy – world domination.


SS: Now back in 2009 President Obama made it clear that the missile shield in Europe would no longer be necessary if the threat from Iran was eliminated – and nuclear deal with Iran was struck. Now, historic deal is close, but NATO is saying there will be no change in missile shield plans – why not?


WB: Because NATO shares America's desire to dominate the world. NATO is just an arm of the U.S. foreign policy, there's no point actually in making a distinction between US foreign policy and NATO policy – they are the same. If US were not in NATO, NATO would not exist. US founded NATO, US is its main supporter and financial source, there's no distinction between US and NATO, and they share the same view of American world domination. So, it doesn't matter whether Iran is doing this or that – they know that Iran is not a lover of an Empire, and anyone who's not a lover of the Empire has a short life span. Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, whatever. That is the test, do you love Empire or not.


22--The IMF’s Big Greek Mistake

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