Saturday, August 1, 2015

Today's Links

1--Iran city hits suffocating heat index of 165 degrees, near world record

2--Wintershall to join Russia-led Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline

Biggest gas customer
In a Friday press release Wintershall confirmed its forecast of 0.8 percent annual growth in gas demand in the EU which would continue until 2040 and gas production in the region would fall 2 percent annually. This would help Russia retain its position of the main provider to the market.
In May 2015 Germany purchased 68 percent more gas compared to May 2014, Gazprom CEO Aleksey Miller said at a meeting with President Putin in June.

“This points to the fact that the demand for Russian gas is growing and there is no doubt that the issue of new contacts for long-term Russian gas supplies to the European market is on the agenda of talks with our European partners,” he said.
Germany has been the biggest customer of gas from Gazprom, buying 38.7 billion cubic meters in 2014. This is roughly a third of all Gazprom exports to Western Europe

3--US, allies still dedicated to ouster of Assad: International rights lawyer

Develay said that “it is also important to take into consideration that no effort has been undertaken to cut-off financial support to [ISIL]; that is the flow of money and arms being channeled to these groups by Saudi Arabia.
“Indeed, the kingdom has seemingly taken it upon itself to check Shia power in the entire region while the United States works diplomatically to engage Iran via the Vienna nuclear deal.
“It is thus a regional situation comparable to Japanese Kabuki theatre: a casting of shadows aimed at obfuscating the real objective of the West and its allies, which remains the toppling of Bashar al-Assad.”...

“On a more worrying note, the recent Turkish bombing raids across its border with Syria; a move allegedly aimed at curbing ISIS activities, has essentially been targeting Kurdish forces, thus preventing an ally of the coalition from conducting its own operations against the terrorists,” Develay noted.
“We now hear about the establishment of a ‘no-fly zone’ several dozen miles inside Syria along the border with Turkey. This notion has notably been featuring prominently in the British prime minister's recent interventions these last few days,” he stated.

4--‘Erdogan, Obama in collusion against Syria’

5---US, Turkey agree to train militants fighting in Syria: Report

6--US Army Building Roads in Eastern Europe, Citing 'Russian Aggression'

7--Turkey: Erdogan responds to election with war

8-- Öcalan and Erdoğan will spike Demirtaş’s guns

9--Britain’s secret ties to governments, firms behind ISIS oil sales  nafeez ahmed

One of ISIS’ most significant sources of revenue is oil smuggling. The Islamic State controls approximately 60% of Syria’s oil, and seven major oil-producing assets in Iraq.
Using a carefully cultivated network of intermediaries and ‘middlemen’ in the Kurdish region of Iraq, as well as in Turkey, ISIS has been able to produce a phenomenal 45,000 barrels of oil a day, raking in as much as $3 million a day in cash by selling the oil at well below market prices.
But the sheer scale and impunity of this oil smuggling network has caused local politicians to ask whether certain officials in the KRG and Turkey are turning a blind eye to these operations.

Elements of the KRG and Peshmerga militia directly facilitated secret ISIS oil smuggling through the Kurdish province. This was known to the Americans, which shared intelligence on the matter with the Iraqi government in Baghdad.”...

“US intelligence is monitoring many of these smuggling operations in minute detail. Some of this intelligence has been passed on to us. The Americans know what is going on. But Erdogan and Obama don’t have a great relationship. Erdogan basically does what he likes, and the US has to lump it.”...

Turkey has sponsored Islamist groups in Syria, including ISIS, since the beginning, and continues to do so. The scale of ISIS smuggling operations across the Turkish-Syrian border is huge, and much of it is facilitated with the blessings of Erdogan and Davitoglu, who see the Islamists as the means to expand the Turkish foothold in the region.”...

“… extraction wells in the area of bombardments have yet to be targeted by the US or the air-assets of its allies, a fact that can be readily attributed to the at times ‘toxic’ politics in the Middle East.”....

Turkey also plays a crucial role in the ISIS oil smuggling operations according to the Iraqi source. As the end-point through which much of this oil reaches global markets, Turkish authorities have routinely turned a blind eye to the IS-run black market. “The Turks have an acrimonious relationship with the Americans,” he claimed, but admitted that US intelligence is familiar with Turkey’s role:
“US intelligence is monitoring many of these smuggling operations in minute detail. Some of this intelligence has been passed on to us. The Americans know what is going on. But Erdogan and Obama don’t have a great relationship. Erdogan basically does what he likes, and the US has to lump it.”...

While KRG government officials and their relatives are directly profiting from lucrative oil and gas contracts brokered by the KRG, the same officials — who are responsible for anti-terrorism in the Sulaymani province — oversee the Nokan Group, which is implicated in facilitating ISIS oil smuggling....

The refinery, owned by the Nokan Group whose trucks were seen transporting IS oil through the Kurdish province earlier this year, is supplied from the KRG’s Taq Taq field. The oil field produces a total of around 100,000 barrels per day, most of which is shipped to local refineries. British-Turkish firm Genel Energy has a 45 percent stake in the Taq Taq field...

According to the final report of the House of Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs’ inquiry into the British government’s policy toward the KRG, published in January 2015, Genel is the only major British investor in the province.
The report noted that the Kurdistan region holds an estimated 45 billion barrels of oil — in the same league as Libya and Nigeria — and a further 110 trillion cubic feet of gas, placing it around tenth or twelfth in the world for reserves. The KRG aims to export as much as 2 million barrels per day by 2020, a prospect of huge interest to Western companies including, according to the report, “Exxon, Chevron, Repsol, Total, the local giant KAR, and the British-Turkish company, Genel Energy.”

Just a month earlier, David Cameron’s then Energy Minister Matthew Hancock told the 4th Kurdistan-Iraq Oil & Gas Conference in Erbil, that Iraq “has a critical role to play in meeting the world’s future demand for oil.” Remarking that US oil production is “forecasted to peak in 2020,” he said that therefore “the world is expected to become ever more dependent on Iraqi supply.”
Iraqi oil production will treble to over 8 million barrels a day by 2040, he added: “Reserves in Kurdistan play a significant role in this increase. The region is not only thought to be one of the largest untapped areas of oil in the world, but also has significant gas potential.”

split up Iraq to boost profits for private corps

The 2015 UK parliamentary report repeatedly justifies calls for cementing British-KRG ties due to the KRG’s role as a reliable “partner in the fight against terrorism.”
While the parliamentary report goes to pains to emphasise the British government’s formal position in favour of a unified Iraq, it also leans heavily toward a federal solution granting the KRG considerable autonomy, based on its ability to exploit oil and gas resources in the province.
Pointing to the UK Foreign Secretary’s recommendation of “devo max” (maximum devolution) as the best possible model of democratic governance in Iraq, the report recommends that the British government should be prepared for “the possible consequences of Iraq’s break-up.”
The KRG’s “increased self-governance, or even independence, is itself rational, given its economic potential and demonstrable capacity for effective self- governance, and also understandable, given its recent history.” While the move to independence is not imminent, “it is a medium-term possibility, depending in large part on the Kurdistan Region’s energy export strategy, for which the UK Government should be prepared...

The eagerness of American and British oil companies to exploit Iraqi Kurdish resources, however, raises urgent questions as to whether US-UK government support for the KRG-Turkish oil nexus is undermining the war on ISIS, if not fuelling the terror group.
Neither the British nor American governments appear to be willing to answer these questions.

European energy security will gain from their ability to supply gas through the projected southern energy corridor for a century. This deserves UK recognition and support.” 

 a symbol of how the US punches above its weight, nothing beats the pre-eminence of its currency. The US may account for just a fifth of global gross domestic product, but dollar assets make up three times as great a proportion of global reserves. Most commodity trading uses the greenback as the medium of account.
This influence is telling. A working paper from the Bank of International Settlements found almost $8tn of dollar credit issued to non US borrowers. More recently the IMF pointed out how past episodes of dollar strength have coincided with a rash of emerging market crises. Now that the greenback is surging again — the dollar index is up 20 per cent since last autumn — the implications are moving into focus

Dissecting the dollar is something of an art; a bet on its strength can reflect confidence in the US, or darkening clouds elsewhere and a rush to safe assets. The same IMF paper has shown that rising US rates are beneficial when they reflect optimism about growth, but not if driven by tighter money. On many occasions dollar strength has coincided with fears about growth; last autumn, for example, a spell of global deflation may have helped propel the dollar on its recent run. Of late, attention has focused more closely upon how well the US is doing. ...

IMF, which recently warned of “significant and abrupt rebalancing of international portfolios” should the Fed raise rates. A further reason for the dollar’s strength is confirmation of a lack of credible alternatives. Those Cassandras fretting about how monetary ease damages the dollar’s reserve currency status fail to appreciate how this is built not on its strength but its depth. Dollar assets are pervasive and easily sold.

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