mfioretti: iran*

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  1. India is looking forward to exploring some of Israel’s offshore gas fields soon. Analysts suggested that by including oil in its relationship with Israel, India is giving a strong message to Iran that has held up the allocation of two gas fields discovered by oil companies.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — The Indian consortium led by ONGC was among the two global entities that took part in the auction of Israel's offshore gas fields held last month after a gap of more than 4 years during which the sea was completely closed for the distribution of new exploration licenses.

    The consortium comprising ONGC Videsh Ltd, Bharat PetroResources Ltd, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd and Oil India Ltd is also set to be registered as a foreign company in Israel's Corporations' Authority in January 2018. This would facilitate its participation in the second round of bidding.

    "This bid round is the first step in a long-range process that would lead to utilization of the gas and oil fields in the Israeli EEZ to the benefit of Israel's citizens. I am pleased to have companies from Greece and India contribute to Israel's energy market. I have ordered preparations for a 2nd licensing round to be launched in 2018, in which lessons from the 1st round will be incorporated," Dr. Yuval Steinitz, Israel's Energy Minister said after the completion of the first round.

    The Israeli blocks are in close proximity to a number of large and proven gas deposits in the eastern Mediterranean. Some are adjacent to the recently discovered Leviathan and Tamar fields. According to an industry estimate, nearly 2,200 billion cubic meters of natural gas and a potential 6.6 billion barrels of oil are to be discovered in these blocks.

    India's decision to enter Israeli waters for energy exploration has a greater strategic significance than securing energy at another location, especially after waiting for several years to win exploration rights for Iran's Farsi and Farzad B gas fields.

    "India wants to send two signals from this decision. First, if Iran continues to dillydally on the proposal of awarding gas fields to India, New Delhi can open new vistas for exploration in the region; secondly, to Israel that New Delhi really wants to deepen its relationship with the Jewish nation," SC Tripathi, former secretary in India's Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas told Sputnik.

    Spike missile
    CC BY-SA 4.0 / Rhk111 / Spike NLOS missile
    India Calls off $500 Mln Spike Missile Deal With Israel
    Making oil a subject of bilateral relation will also pacify Israel which received a jolt in four major defense deals with India in the last year. The Indian government scrapped defense contracts for light machine guns, close quarter battle carbines, assault rifles and anti-tank missiles with Israeli firms either due to the single-vendor situation or for giving priority to homemade equipment.

    India's decision to expand the horizons of the bilateral relationship with Israel will have some ramifications on its relationship with the Arab world.

    "Entry into Israeli water for gas exploration could upset some Arabian nations. But, of late, it is being seen that countries like Jordon have started co-operating with Israel while Saudi Arabia is no more fervently opposing Israel. Iran is the only country in the region which could pose strong opposition to the Indian move," SC Tripathi, added.
    https://sputniknews.com/analysis/2017...4122-india-to-explore-israel-oi-field
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  2. let’s talk about the most seminal moment in recent Saudi history: the key oil-for-money-and-protection deal struck between the Nixon administration and King Faisal back in the early 1970’s.

    This pivotal agreement allowed KSA to secretly recycle its surplus petrodollars back into US Treasuries while receiving US military protection in exchange. The secret was kept for 41 years, only recently revealed in 2016 due to a Bloomberg FOIA request:

    The basic framework was strikingly simple. The U.S. would buy oil from Saudi Arabia and provide the kingdom military aid and equipment. In return, the Saudis would plow billions of their petrodollar revenue back into Treasuries and finance America’s spending.



    It took several discreet follow-up meetings to iron out all the details, Parsky said. But at the end of months of negotiations, there remained one small, yet crucial, catch: King Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud demanded the country’s Treasury purchases stay “strictly secret,” according to a diplomatic cable obtained by Bloomberg from the National Archives database.



    “Buying bonds and all that was a strategy to recycle petrodollars back into the U.S.,” said David Ottaway, a Middle East fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington. But politically, “it’s always been an ambiguous, constrained relationship.”

    (Source)

    The essence of this deal is pretty simple. KSA wanted to be able to sell its oil to its then largest buyer, the USA, while also having a safe place to park the funds, plus receive military protection to boot. But it didn’t want anybody else, especially its Arab neighbors, to know that it was partnering so intimately with the US who, in turn, would be supporting Israel. That would have been politically incendiary in the Middle East region, coming as it did right on the heels of the Yom Kipper War (1973).

    As for the US, it got the oil it wanted and – double bonus time here – got KSA to recycle the very same dollars used to buy that oil back into Treasuries and contracts for US military equipment and training.

    Sweet deal.

    Note that this is yet another secret world-shaping deal successfully kept out of the media for over four decades. Yes Virginia, conspiracies do happen. Secrets can be (and are routinely) kept by hundreds, even thousands, of people over long stretches of time.

    Since that key deal was struck back in the early 1970s, the KSA has remained a steadfast supporter of the US and vice versa. In return, the US has never said anything substantive about KSA’s alleged involvement in 9/11 or its grotesque human and women’s rights violations. Not a peep.

    Until recently.
    Then Things Started To Break Down

    In 2015, King Salman came to power. Things began to change pretty quickly, especially once he elevated his son Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to a position of greater power.

    Among MBS's first acts was to directly involve KSA into the Yemen civil war, with both troops on the ground and aerial bombings. That war has killed thousands of civilians while creating a humanitarian crisis that includes the largest modern-day outbreak of cholera, which is decimating highly populated areas. The conflct, which is considered a 'proxy war' because Iran is backing the Houthi rebels while KSA is backing the Yemeni government, continues to this day.

    Then in 2016, KSA threatened to dump its $750 billion in (stated) US assets in response to a bill in Congress that would have released sensitive information implicating Saudi Arabia's involvement in 9/11. Then-president Obama had to fly over there to smooth things out. It seems the job he did was insufficient; because KSA-US relations unraveled at an accelerating pace afterwards. Mission NOT accomplished, it would seem.

    In 2017, KSA accused Qatar of nefarious acts and made such extraordinary demands that an outbreak of war nearly broke out over the dispute. The Qatari leadership later accused KSA of fomenting ‘regime change’, souring the situation further. Again, Iran backed the Qatar government, which turned this conflict into another proxy battle between the two main regional Arab superpowers.

    In parallel with all this, KSA was also supporting the mercenaries (aka "rebels" in western press) who were seeking to overthrow Assad in Syria -- yet another proxy war between KSA and Iran. It's been an open secret that, during this conflict, KSA has been providing support to some seriously bad terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda, ISIS and other supposed enemies of the US/NATO. (Again, the US has never said 'boo' about that, proving that US rhetoric against "terrorists" is a fickle construct of political convenience, not a moral matter.)

    Once Russia entered the war on the side of Syria's legitimate government, the US and KSA (and Israel) lost their momentum. Their dreams of toppling Assad and turning Syria into another failed petro-state like they did with Iraq and Libya are not likely to pan out as hoped.

    But rather than retreat to lick their wounds, KSA's King Salman and his son are proving to be a lot nimbler than their predecessors.

    Rather than continue a losing battle in Syria, they've instead turned their energies and attention to dramatically reshaping KSA's internal power structures:

    Saudi Arabia’s Saturday Night Massacre



    For nearly a century, Saudi Arabia has been ruled by the elders of a royal family that now finds itself effectively controlled by a 32-year-old crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman. He helms the Defense Ministry, he has extravagant plans for economic development, and last week arranged for the arrest of some of the most powerful ministers and princes in the country.



    A day before the arrests were announced, Houthi tribesmen in Yemen but allied with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival, fired a ballistic missile at Riyadh.



    The Saudis claim the missile came from Iran and that its firing might be considered “an act of war.”



    Saudi Arabia was created between the two world wars under British guidance. In the 1920s, a tribe known as the Sauds defeated the Hashemites, effectively annexing the exterior parts of Saudi Arabia they did not yet control. The United Kingdom recognized the Sauds’ claim shortly thereafter. But since then, the Saudi tribe has been torn by ambition, resentment and intrigue. The Saudi royal family has more in common with the Corleones than with a Norman Rockwell painting.



    The direct attack was undoubtedly met with threats of a coup. Whether one was actually planned didn’t matter. Mohammed Bin Salman had to assume these threats were credible since so many interests were under attack. So he struck first, arresting princes and ex-minsters who constituted the Saudi elite. It was a dangerous gamble. A powerful opposition still exists, but he had no choice but to act. He could either strike as he did last Saturday night, or allow his enemies to choose the time and place of that attack. Nothing is secure yet, but with this strike, there is a chance he might have bought time. Any Saudi who would take on princes and clerics is obviously desperate, but he may well break the hold of the financial and religious elite.
    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11...-worry-you-youre-not-paying-attention
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  3. The reasons for nat gas as the source of discord are numerous and start in 1995 “when the tiny desert peninsula was about to make its first shipment of liquid natural gas from the world’s largest reservoir. The offshore North Field, which provides virtually all of Qatar’s gas, is shared with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s hated rival.”

    The result to Qatar’s finances was similar to the windfall that Saudi Arabia reaped from its vast crude oil wealth.

    The wealth that followed turned Qatar into not just the world’s richest nation, with an annual per-capita income of $130,000, but also the world’s largest LNG exporter. The focus on gas set it apart from its oil producing neighbors in the Gulf Cooperation Council and allowed it to break from domination by Saudi Arabia, which in Monday’s statement of complaint described Qataris as an “extension of their brethren in the Kingdom” as it cut off diplomatic relations and closed the border.

    In short, over the past two decades, Qatar become the single biggest natural gas powerhouse in the region, with only Russia’s Gazprom able to challenge Qatar’s influence in LNG exports.
    http://theantimedia.org/qatar-crisis-natural-gas-terrorism
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  4. The year 2016 may be the warning sign of more to come. It is the higher likelihood combined with the uncertainty and the interconnected nature of global risks that calls for a "resilience imperative" through collaboration among governments, businesses and civil society. Resilience to global risks is not a luxury and needs to be part of any business or national development strategy. No one is safe. No opportunity should be lost.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/margare...2016-the-canary-in-the_b_8990732.html
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  5. My own pick might be a story that passed largely unnoticed in our American world. Sitting atop some of the planet's great oil reserves and getting 73% of their revenues from oil sales (income that dropped by 23% last year), the Saudi royals just hiked the domestic price of gas at the pump by 40%. Though it still remains dirt cheap by global standards, that act -- which is like charging for salt water in the middle of the ocean -- is an indication that something startling is going on. And note that, in the years to come, that kingdom's rulers are planning to cut back on similar subsidies for “electricity, water, diesel, and kerosene.” In other words, the world’s largest oil producer and a country of striking wealth (and foreign reserves) no longer feels comfortable giving away gas to its own population, even though this is part of a bargain it struck long ago for peace in the kingdom.

    And the reason for this has little to do with Iran or Syria or Yemen or Iraq or the Islamic State. The problem is far more basic, as TomDispatch’s resident energy expert Michael Klare points out today. It’s the price of oil, which in the last 18 months has dropped through the floor. In a sense, the oil business -- with its constellation of giant energy firms, until recently among the most profitable companies in history, and its energy-producing states, until recently riding high -- may prove to be the natural-resource equivalent of a failed state, and, as Klare makes clear, the changing economics of oil will transform the political face of the planet. So keep your eye on Saudi Arabia. Things there could get ugly indeed.

    As of this moment, however, Brent crude is selling at $33 per barrel, one-third of its price 18 months ago and way below the break-even price for most unconventional “tough oil” endeavors. Worse yet, in one scenario recently offered by the International Energy Agency (IEA), prices might not again reach the $50 to $60 range until the 2020s, or make it back to $85 until 2040. Think of this as the energy equivalent of a monster earthquake -- a pricequake -- that will doom not just many “tough oil” projects now underway but some of the over-extended companies (and governments) that own them.

    Brent prices rose to stratospheric levels, reaching a record $143 per barrel in July 2008. With the failure of Lehman Brothers on September 15th of that year and the ensuing global economic meltdown, demand for oil evaporated, driving prices down to $34 that December.

    With factories idle and millions unemployed, most analysts assumed that prices would remain low for some time to come. So imagine the surprise in the oil business when, in October 2009, Brent crude rose to $77 per barrel. Barely more than two years later, in February 2011, it again crossed the $100 threshold, where it generally remained until June 2014.

    Several factors account for this price recovery, none more important than what was happening in China, where the authorities decided to stimulate the economy by investing heavily in infrastructure, especially roads, bridges, and highways. Add in soaring automobile ownership among that country’s urban middle class and the result was a sharp increase in energy demand.

    in early 2014, when the price pendulum suddenly began swinging in the other direction, as production from unconventional fields in the U.S. and Canada began to make its presence felt in a big way. Domestic U.S. crude production, which had dropped from 7.5 million barrels per day in January 1990 to a mere 5.5 million barrels in January 2010, suddenly headed upwards, reaching a stunning 9.6 million barrels in July 2015. Virtually all the added oil came from newly exploited shale formations in North Dakota and Texas.

    In mid-2014, these and other factors came together to produce a perfect storm of price suppression. At that time, many analysts believed that the Saudis and their allies in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would, as in the past, respond by reining in production to bolster prices. However, on November 27, 2014 -- Thanksgiving Day -- OPEC confounded those expectations, voting to maintain the output quotas of its member states. The next day, the price of crude plunged by $4 and the rest is history.

    Aside from the continuing economic slowdown in China and the surge of output in North America, the most significant factor in the unpromising oil outlook, which now extends bleakly into 2016 and beyond, is the steadfast Saudi resistance to any proposals to curtail their production or OPEC’s.

    Many reasons have been given for the Saudis’ resistance to production cutbacks, including a desire to punish Iran and Russia for their support of the Assad regime in Syria.

    In the view of many industry analysts, the Saudis see themselves as better positioned than their rivals for weathering a long-term price decline because of their lower costs of production and their large cushion of foreign reserves. The most likely explanation, though, and the one advanced by the Saudis themselves is that they are seeking to maintain a price environment in which U.S. shale producers and other tough-oil operators will be driven out of the market.

    Only three developments could conceivably alter the present low-price environment for oil: a Middle Eastern war that took out one or more of the major energy suppliers; a Saudi decision to constrain production in order to boost prices; or an unexpected global surge in demand.
    http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/17608...e%2C_the_look_of_a_badly_oiled_planet
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  6. The events of the past year have demonstrated a decisive shift in power away from the West, which is facing its terminal decline, columnist Christopher Booker wrote in the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper on Saturday.

    “What we were seeing in 2015, more than ever before, were the signs of one of history’s great geopolitical shifts, as the centuries-old hegemony of the West gives way to the new powerhouses of the outside world,” wrote Booker.

    The author cited recent visits by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping to Britain, during which, “led by David Cameron, our politicians could not have fawned more humiliatingly.”

    Flowers, candles and toys to commemorate the Airbus A321 victims, outside the Russian general consulate in Riga
    © Sputnik/ Oksana Dzhadan
    A Year of Terror: the World Bids Farewell to 2015
    Europe’s refugee crisis, the threat of terrorism and conflicts in the Middle East, “reduced to chaos by our vainglorious interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya,” have all shown the inadequacy of the old world order, said Booker.

    “Everywhere we see Western illusions colliding with reality, as when the reckless bid to suck Ukraine into the EU and Nato inevitably provoked a response from President Putin and a Russian sense of national interest that has left us looking pathetically impotent.”

    “We might well be haunted by the brilliant title of that otherwise not very good book written by Otto Spengler in the Twenties, Der Untergang des Abendlandes (The Decline of the West). All civilisations, as we know, eventually decline, and Spengler’s title was just 90 years ahead of its time.”

    ​Booker’s article in the Daily Telegraph, which argues that “our spoiled, emasculated, de‑spiritualised societies in the West are in terminal decline.” A survey of readers that accompanied his column found that the majority agreed with him.

    “The reason why we do not see just how far our spoiled, emasculated, despiritualised societies in the West have lost the plot is that they are the bubble we live in. But these days there is a great big world out there, much less sentimental and much tougher than what we have become used to. Over the coming years, our world is going to change more than we can imagine,” warned the columnist.

    Everywhere we see Western illusions colliding with reality, as when the reckless bid to suck Ukraine into the EU and Nato inevitably provoked a response from President Putin and a Russian sense of national interest that has left us looking pathetically impotent. Likewise, in his support for Syria’s President Assad, Putin has run rings round the West, just as the murderous regime in Iran ran rings round us in that recent “nuclear deal”, so meaningless that Iran’s “moderate” President Rouhani never even bothered to sign it, almost immediately authorising two illegal tests of nuclear-capable missiles, knowing that no action from the West would follow.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/world...-the-Westare-in-terminal-decline.html
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  7. The oil crisis that started in the early 1970s is still widely remembered today and much of the interest in the vagaries of the present oil market is derived from a comparison with the events of that time. Yet, it may also be that the crisis was widely misunderstood while it was taking place and that it remains misunderstood even today; often reduced to the work of a small group of evil Arab sheikhs, perhaps the ancestors of today's Daesh. But, as it often happens, every question may have an explanation that is simple, obvious, and totally wrong.

    I emerged out of the meeting with the understanding that there was an important political and human side to the great oil crisis. Yet, I remain convinced that there are deeper factors; those factors that people call "fundamentals." And, when dealing with a mineral resource, crude oil, depletion is the fundamental factor.

    Not that I pretend to have "the" answer to the origins of the great oil crisis of the 1970s, but I can't avoid to note that the magic word "depletion" was almost never mentioned at the meeting. It is the usual problem: depletion remains a widely misunderstood concept. For the oil industry; as long as their books list "reserves" existing somewhere; then the problem is not considered to be of any importance. And, for historians, if oil production restarted after the crisis, then it means that there never was any lack of oil and, as a result, the crisis must have had political or financial reasons. But depletion doesn't mean "running out" of anything; it is a gradual phenomenon that was already strongly affecting the oil markets at the time of the crisis.

    From 1955, for some 20 years, Iran's oil production doubled approximately every 5 years; something that corresponds to a yearly growth rate of about 15%. And now ask yourself: how long can anything double every five years?

    If you think about that, it makes little sense to ask why Iran's production collapsed; it had to. Just like an ocean wave, it had to crash down sooner or later. Keeping oil production rising for a longer time would have needed not only to match investments to the rapid doubling rate, but also to increase them further in order to overcome the progressive depletion of the "easy" oil resources. Iran was not running out of oil; it was running out of the capital resources needed to extract it.

    So, I think that the conventional explanation for the collapse of Iran's oil production is wrong: it is not correct to say that it collapsed because of the revolution. But it would be just as wrong to say that the Iranian revolution was caused by the production collapse. The two phenomena went together and reinforced each other; one more example of another misunderstood concept: that of "enhancing feedback". The same phenomenon affected the Soviet Union, but Iran turned out to be more resilient: the country survived the revolution, the oil shock, economic sanctions, and a major war. Slowly, Iran reached a new stability, the oil industry was rebuilt; and Iran became again an oil exporting country, even though it never reached the peak level of 1979 (and probably never will).
    http://cassandralegacy.blogspot.co.uk...t-were-real-origins-of-great-oil.html
    Tags: , by M. Fioretti (2015-12-24)
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  8. When conflict broke out in 2011, Ankara mistakenly under-estimated the strength of the Assad regime and supported hardline Islamist groups seeking its downfall. In the process, Turkey also marginalised the Kurds and alienated regional powers like Iran.

    Four years on, Assad looks set to hold onto power and his regime will be a central part of a transition plan, one that foreign powers were negotiating last weekend. Turkey’s regional rival, Iran, is a key player which can no longer be ignored by the West. Not only does the pro-Assad alliance now have Russian support firmly on its side, but the international community is no longer focused on defeating the regime – instead, it is concerned with defeating jihadist groups like Isis.

    The shift in focus is a significant drawback for Erdogan. Years of support for, and investment in, Islamic fundamentalist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria) and Ahrar al-Sham are about to go to waste. Ankara has played a significant role in allowing Isis and other jihadists to flourish in Syria and the region. Turkey has acquiesced to jihadist groups entering Syria via Turkey as well as their use of Turkey as a transit point for smuggling arms and funds into Syria.

    The Kurds in Syria, meanwhile, have established themselves as a reliable Western ally and have created, in the process, an autonomous Kurdish region that has reinvigorated Kurdish nationalism in Turkey and across the region - much to Turkey’s dismay as it continues a brutal military campaign to repress the Kurds.

    In other words, Turkey has no interest in the peaceful settlement to the conflict in Syria that world powers are negotiating.

    The West appeased and bolstered Erdogan in Turkey in the run-up to the country’s elections, with the aim of securing a deal with Ankara on the refugee crisis. It may now regret that. Erdogan is not only likely to drive a hard bargain but he may also walk away.

    He has never cared much for the EU and has only sought engagement with the West when under pressure at home. But Turkey is not an indispensable ally and should not be considered as such. Unless the West starts to seriously exert pressure, Erdogan will have little incentive to stop his damaging policies.
    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/t...al-reasons-for-shooting-a6747161.html
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  9. American neo-conservatives have turned the war into a profitable business, the journalist pointed out.

    According to Parry this dubious strategy is personified by "a single Washington power couple" — co-founder of the Project for the New American Century Robert Kagan and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland.

    The spouses are two peas in a pod: while Kagan was sweating his guts out to propagate the necessity of the Iraq War, Nuland engineered the February coup in Kiev that started "a nasty civil war and created a confrontation between nuclear-armed United States and Russia."

    Although "a sane person might trace the origins of the bloodthirsty Islamic State back to President George W. Bush's neocon-inspired Iraq War," Kagan and his fellow neocons do not acknowledge that they bear the responsibility for this "head-chopping phenomenon," Parry noted. Instead, Kagan is urging the American decision-makers to intervene in Iran and Syria.
    http://sputniknews.com/politics/20150...ntent=478&utm_campaign=URL_shortening
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  10. Last week, Iran and six world powers reached an agreement obliging Tehran to guarantee the peaceful nature of its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief. Shortly after the deal was signed, National Security Advisor to the US Vice President Colin Kahl said that the US ballistic missile defense systems were still necessary in Europe despite the agreement.

    Following the move, Moscow expressed concerns over the purposes of US missile defense systems in Europe, which Russia sees as a threat to its national security.

    “Europe is an empty shell when it comes to the draft of the European missile defense system, because it is an exclusively US initiative… Now there is a reasonable question: if Iran is no longer a threat, even if neither a partner nor an enemy, then what’s the use of missile defense system » construction?
    http://sputniknews.com/military/20150...ntent=4NP&utm_campaign=URL_shortening
    Tags: , , , , , by M. Fioretti (2015-07-28)
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