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by CTuttle

Hurling BRICs, And, ‘Israel Bought an Airfield Called Azerbaijan’

6:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Today, in the US House of Representatives…

Lawmakers Target Iran’s Energy Sector for Expanded Sanctions

U.S. lawmakers are seeking to expand sanctions on Iran’s energy sector by banning the purchase of its natural gas and prohibiting investment in oil and gas services, exploration and new pipelines.

Representatives Ted Deutch, a Florida Democrat, and Robert Dold, an Illinois Republican, introduced the Iran Energy Sector and Proliferation Sanctions Act in Congress today. The measure is the latest in a stepped-up campaign to tighten sanctions aimed at depriving Iran’s government of revenue that may be used for its nuclear and missile programs.

Iran is the second-largest crude producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. It also has the world’s second-largest natural-gas reserves, which are largely undeveloped.

“We must not allow the Iranian regime to use the nation’s vast energy resource as a financial pipeline for its nuclear ambitions,” Deutch said in an interview. The legislation is intended to “put the world on notice that the entire Iranian energy sector is off limits so long as Iran continues to defy the international coalition.”

Just yesterday, Sen. Rand Paul, put a block on it’s companion bill in the Senate, however tenuous a block…!

Now, to refresh your memory, as I’d noted before…

Iran’s Oil Bourse: A Threat to the U.S. Economy?

…While Iran’s nuclear program has become a major focus of the international media, there are many who strongly believe that the program is only a cover for the U.S. government’s true motive in a possible attack against Iran.

What some analysts posit is the real concern for the United States is Iran’s plan to open its own oil exchange — the Iranian Oil Bourse (IOB) — with the alleged goal of becoming the dominant center of the Middle East’s oil trade.

What makes the IOB the subject of such interest by the American government? According to rumors, which first vaulted the issue into the spotlight, the financial exchange in the aforementioned bourse will trade for oil in euros instead of the U.S. dollar. The dollar has long been the dominant currency for international oil trade. {snip}

Of course, the effectiveness of the IOB will depend on whether the big international oil trading companies decide to accept deals in euros or not. However, the potential financial impact on the U.S. economy remains more than just idle speculation.

“The weapon of oil in the hands of Iran’s regime is more dangerous than any other weapon,” said a recently published article in Italy’s Panorama newsmagazine. {snip}

There is speculation that the IOB represents Iran’s plan to escape any possible future economic sanctions spearheaded by the U.S. However, some postulate that the plan could also endanger the continued existence of Iran’s regime. William Clark, an American security expert, predicted that if Iran threatened the hegemony of the U.S. dollar in the international oil market, the White House would immediately order a military attack against it…

Then, I’d mentioned, more recently that we are indeed Screwing the Petro-Pooch…

…take a gander at this new [Jan 24, 2012] Asia Times article…

…Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, who visited Doha last week, disclosed at a press conference on Friday: a) China proposes to invest in the manufacturing of ”downstream oil products, which are most urgently needed by Qatar”; b) China and Qatar signed an agreement to jointly build a refinery in Taizhou, Zheijiang, in China; c) Chinese companies propose to participate in infrastructure projects in Qatar; and d) China and Qatar are discussing a “long-term, stable and comprehensive cooperative partnership” in natural gas.

Then, Wen quietly dropped a bombshell. He revealed “one more important point” as if it were an afterthought. He said:

In order to address investment issues, we [China and Qatar] need financial support. Therefore, we reached another agreement, a cooperation agreement linking finance with investment. Qatar also proposed the use of local currency in trade settlement and even a specific ratio. I think this proposal can be studied.

The short point is, the renminbi, the “people’s currency” also known as the yuan, is appearing in Doha. The China-United Arab Emirates (UAE) currency swap deal which was signed during Wen’s visit to Abu Dhabi last week already brings the yuan to the Emirates. The deal with the UAE is worth US$5.5 billion and the Chinese central bank statement said that it aims at “strengthening bilateral financial cooperation, promoting trade and investments and jointly safeguarding regional financial stability”. {snip}

…Iran and Russia have already switched to their national currencies for conducting bilateral trade. Tehran’s ambassador to Moscow Seyed Reza Sajjadi said on Friday, “[Trade] with Russia is based on our national currencies. We started this work long ago. Iranian businessmen are buying products in Russia and are using the rouble as [payment] currency] … The US dollar has no [economic] support base … There is a similar interest on the Russian side.”

Last week, it also came to be known that India proposes to allow Iran’s central bank to open rupee accounts with two Indian banks as a long-term solution to the countries’ payment problems instigated by the US (which pressured New Delhi to terminate the traditional payment mechanism for Iran within the Asian Clearing Union.) An Indian delegation visited Tehran last week to finalize details…

On a side note, Chinese firm surpasses Exxon in oil production…

Well, our chickens are indeed coming home to roost… BRICS not ‘obliged’ to follow US sanctions on Iran

...India, China and other BRICS countries today said they will not severe their trade ties with oil-rich Iran, which is facing US sanctions against its nuclear programme.

The issue came up for discussion at the meeting of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) trade ministers, a day ahead of the BRICS summit here.

“Yes, this was discussed. All BRICS members are members of the UNSC. We respect UN resolutions…at the same time the resolution does not forbid countries to engage in trade in essential commodities and what is required for human good,” Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said, addressing a joint a press conference with other BRICS trade ministers.

Commerce Minister from China, Chen Deming said his country is not ‘not obliged to follow any domestic laws and rules of any particular country’.

Sharma said Iran is an important source of energy. Spiralling oil prices have put stress on India’s finances. “Therefore, we look at things…in very pragmatic manner and remaining within the ambit of the UN resolution”

The BRICs are truly decoupling from our Western Imperialism…


BRICS Tighten United Front

- At their summit in the Indian capital on Thursday, leaders of the coalition known as BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – made several poignant decisions that experts say hint at the converging of economic and political interests of a disparate regional bloc.

Though the leaders chose to defer the long-awaited announcement of a ‘South-South Bank’ to next year’s meet, or beyond, the ‘Delhi Declaration’ produced at the end of the summit said BRICS finance ministers have been directed to “examine the feasibility and viability of such an initiative, set up a joint working group for further study, and report back to us (heads of state) by the next Summit (in South Africa).”

“Creating such a ‘BRICS Bank’ involves complex issues, such as the medium of transfer of credit,” said Vivan Sharan, associate fellow at the prestigious Observer Research Foundation (ORF), which hosted a BRICS academic forum of experts and scholars from member countries in New Delhi from Mar. 4 – 6.

“But there are no roadblocks ahead and it is an idea whose time has come,” Sharan told IPS. “While the plan now is to supplement rather than supplant the existing global financial structure, there is clearly the ambition to go ahead.”

For now though, according to Sharan, citizens of the bloc, who account for nearly half the world’s population, can be content with the knowledge that by June there will be a BRICS Exchange Alliance in place, allowing trading options using local currency.

Investors will soon be able to invest in each other’s progress and there will be greater liquidity, better market-determined integration and the possibility of extending credit in local (currencies),” Sharan said. “Two BRICS countries are among the top five in purchasing power parity terms and four are in the top 10.

BRICS’ frustration with the policies of the wealthy G7 countries – France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain, the United States, and Canada – was palpable at the meeting…

Now, about that ‘New Silk Road’… U.S.: We’re For The New Silk Road — If It Bypasses Iran…

Here’s a great visual update on PNAC’s designs on Pipelineistan…

Speaking of the Neo/ZioCons, they’re screeching at the top of their bloody lungs… Israeli-Azerbaijan Deal Leaked, Bolton Blames Obama… And then straight from Hasbara Apparatchik… Israelis Suspect Obama Media Leaks to Prevent Strike on Iran

I do think the ever intrepid, Richard Silverstein, provides the best analysis…

‘Israel Bought an Airfield Called Azerbaijan’

…Perry notes that Azerbaijan’s rampant corruption has allowed Israel to exploit the situation to its advantage. In return for military hardware and joint production deals, Israel gets these landing rights, the right to place sophisticated listening posts targeting Iran on Azeri soil, and maybe even the right for its assassins to use Azeri territory on their way to and from Iran to assassinate nuclear scientists. If this reminds you of a Graham Greene or John Le Carre novel, it should. The only difference is that the characters’ features are more Middle Eastern and the languages spoken are different… {snip}

All of this equals a major projection of Israeli power right into the heart of two of the region’s major Muslim powers, Turkey and Iran. Frankly, it reminds me of the history of U.S. interventionism around the world–in Central America (1950 and 70s), Latin America (1960s and 70s), Asia (1960s and 70s), and now the Middle East (1990s and 2000s). All of this aggressive projection of American power for objectives and values almost impossible to quantify, has led us to much grief. It can only lead Israel to a similar fate. What the Middle East does NOT need is Israeli air bases on Cyprus and Azerbaijan. It does not need Israel doing its level best to rile up regional powers like Turkey and Iran.

It is precisely belligerent acts like this which convince the nations of the area that they need nuclear weapons to defend themselves. Israel doesn’t mess around. If it wants something, it gets it. If it doesn’t want you to do or have something, it’ll do its damndest to stop you, or barring that to make you pay for your defiance. Israel makes the neighborhood even tougher than it is or has to be. Under such conditions, it’s no wonder Iran might feel the need to explore a nuclear option…

I’ll wrap it up with a Christian Science Monitor report today…

Attacking Iran: Did US just torpedo Israeli deal for a base in Azerbaijan?

Israel is developing a ‘secret staging ground’ in Azerbaijan for a possible attack on Iran, reports Foreign Policy magazine. US officials aren’t happy with that, and may have leaked the story.

More leaks please…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

Sifting Through The Syrian Sands…

8:23 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

There seems to be a contentious debate raging here at myFDL about the use of various sources and, inparticular about who’s sources are right and whose are wrong…! I would posit that both ‘sides’ are right in gloaming upon any sort of semblance of the ‘truth’ in what is truly transpiring on the ground in say, Homs, Damascus, and/or Aleppo…! I remember a very similar debate occuring here during the Libyan fiasco, and, I wrote several diaries about my thoughts on it like this one: ‘Intervention – Disaster For Libyans’… Not being a ‘cruise missile liberal’ I had completely disagreed(and still disagree) with the entire ‘Right to Protect’ (R2P) UN/Nato fallacy…!

I would like to start off by stating, unequivocally, that Nobody’s Hands are Clean in Syria, be it if they’re the various Nation-States, the Syrian Govt, NGOS, Religious Sects/Orgs, Western Media, etc…! They’re all bloody…!

b at Moon of Alabama, brings it into proper perspective…

The Western Logic Of Intervention In Syria

1. China and Russia vetoed the recent western UN Security Council resolution because they feared that the west’s intention, despite denials, was regime change in Syria by force.

The west has now decided to disprove their “disgusting” fears wrong by attempting regime change by force in Syria.

2. It is feared that a prolonged internal struggle in Syria could create problems in countries surrounding Syria.

The west must therefore act to intensify and prolong the struggle in Syria by destabilizing countries surrounding Syria.

3. The best way to better human rights in a multi-faith country ruled by a secular plutocracy is to weaponize those backward religious forces that will provide for the most savaging sectarian-dictatorial rule possible.

Seriously folks, digest each one of those points…!

Now, one truly needs to grasp the full demographics and history of Syria to even begin to parse through all the ink (and blood) being spilled…!

And for what…? It should always be realized that the most Profitable Corps ever, are gaming the system in whatever manner they can, as the ever intrepid, Pepe Escobar sums up in his latest Magnum Opus…

(6)What’s the Western strategy on the ground?

Borzou Daragahi from the Financial Times has just confirmed that militias in Misrata, in Libya, announced the deaths of three Libyan de facto mercenaries in Syria. These Libyan Transitional National Council assets landed in Syria – alongside weapons stolen from Gaddafi’s warehouses – courtesy of NATO cargo planes.

For months now, as Asia Times Online has reported, French and British special forces have been training fighters in Iskenderun, in southern Turkey. The Central Intelligence Agency is involved in intel and communications.

The FSA(Free Syrian Army) uses the ultra-porous Syrian-Turkish border at will. Turkey built several refugee camps; and Ankara hosts the leaders of both the SNC and FSA. There’s also the Jordanian front – the connection to the heavy Islamist (and backward) Daraa. But the Syrian-Jordanian border is infested with mines and heavily patrolled; that implies a long 200-kilometer detour in the middle of the desert.

Most of all FSA fighters go back and forth from Lebanon. The privileged smuggling route is from the northern Bekaa valley in Lebanon toward the opposition strongholds, the Sunni-majority cities of Homs and Hama. There’s another route from the central Bekaa valley going south toward the suburbs of Damascus (that explains how both strongholds are being supplied). But the whole thing is very dangerous, because Syrian ally Hezbollah is very strong in the Bekaa valley.

7. Who’s winning?

Assad has promised – once again this Tuesday to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov – there will be a new constitution and national elections by summer. Half-hearted or not, this is an attempt at reform.

Yet the usual, unnamed “government officials” have already leaked to CNN that the White House has asked the Pentagon to simulate game scenarios for a direct US military intervention in favor of the rebels. So a NATOGCC intervention bypassing the UN remains a solid possibility; a false flag operation blamed on the Assad regime might be the perfect casus belli.

8. And what about the Syria-Iran connection?

Syria is crucial to Iran’s sphere of influence in Southwest Asia/the eastern flank of the Arab nation. BRICS members Russia and China want to keep the status quo – because it implies a regional balance of power that pins down American hegemony. For China, uninterrupted Iranian supplies of oil and gas are a matter of extreme national security. On top of it, if the US is tied up in the Middle East, so the much-touted Obama administration/Pentagon “pivot” towards Asia, and especially the South China Sea, will take much longer.

The bulk of Washington elites see regime change in Syria as a crucial way to hurt Iran. So this goes way beyond Syria. It’s about shattering the Iranian regime, which is not a Western satrapy; energy flows from the Middle East to the West; the West’s grip on the GCC and the intersection between the Arab and Persian worlds; and preserving the role of the petrodollar. Syria-Iran is a now a titanic match between NATOGCC and Russia/China – to try to expel them from the Middle East. The Pentagon’s Full Spectrum Dominance doctrine is never more alive than when the jackals and hyenas of war are screaming and kicking.

Now, remember that DoD is the largest single consumer of Oil…

…The DoD uses 360,000 barrels of oil each day. This amount makes the DoD the single largest oil consumer in the world. There are only 35 countries in the world consuming more oil than DoD…

They know which side their bread is buttered…!

Just think of how many interlocking directorates are involved in our vast sprawling DHS/MIC/Intel Apparatchik…!

In this Eleventy-Dimensional Chess Match, the Western MOTU’s are trying to position themselves in a veritable Win-Win scenario, in that, they’ll win if they ‘destabilise’ Iran/Syria through regime change, and/or, short of regime change, they’ll still profit enormously off the ginormous spike in the cost of Oil…! What the clueless bastards are failing to grasp is the real whirlwinds of change they’re whipping up…!

Here, there and everywhere…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

Wag The Dog: Green Salt is The New Yellowcake

4:46 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

“We will never enter any war against the U.S. or against any other country. This is our policy…We have never attacked anybody. Why should we do that? Why should we start a war?”Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Oct. 18, 2011)

Why indeed…?

Now, The IAEA, once again, defies one of the first principles of logic: Negative evidence – the absence of something – cannot be used to prove the existence of something…! Ironically, during the Iraqi fiasco, the IAEA was on the right side of the logical ledger, stating bluntly that they could not prove that Saddam had possessed any WMD’s, much less, a nuke program…!

Well, seemingly, they’re on the wrong side of the very same equation… To wit…

“While the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material at the nuclear facilities and LOFs declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement, as Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation, including by not implementing its Additional Protocol, the Agency is unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”

Hmmm… I wonder what had changed at the IAEA…?

Today, the intrepid Pepe Escobar completely eviscerated all the latest Iranian hype…

Dodgy Intel

The IAEA insists is relying on “credible” intelligence – over 1,000 pages of documentation – from more than 10 countries, and has drawn on eight years of “evidence”.

Yet the IAEA has no independent means to confirm the enormous mass of information – and disinformation – it receives from mostly Western powers. Mohammad ElBaradei – who was the predecessor of the Japanese Yukya Amano as the head of the IAEA – said so, explicitly, many times. And he always disputed what passes for “Iran intelligence” – knowing it was politicized to the extreme, and trespassed by waves of rumor and speculation.

No wonder ultra-conservative Iranian newspaper Kayhan had reason to ask whether that was a IAEA report or an American diktat to the meek, easily pressured Amano.

There’s nothing even remotely earth-shaking about the report – satellite images and speculation by “diplomats” being sold as irrefutable “intelligence”. If this looks like the build-up towards the war on Iraq, that’s because it does. Essentially, it’s regurgitation of a four-year-old farce, known as the “laptop of death”

Antiwar’s Justin Raimondo did a masterful job too…

…What jumps out at the careful reader of the IAEA report is that there is nothing concrete involved in this nefarious plot: only hearsay descriptions of blueprints and computer models, including various publicly available scientific studies authored by Iranian scientists. According to Khan, what was transferred to the Iranians was know-how: theoretical knowledge and contacts with suppliers. Yet throughout the IAEA report, although there are plenty of instances where Iran is alleged to have sought this or that dual use component, we are never told if they actually succeeded in procuring the item. While the report attributes its information to “Member States,” why will I not be surprised if this “intelligence” comes from the same folks who brought us the Niger uranium forgeries?

Although there is no smoking gun, the injection of the A.Q. Khan network into the propaganda mix at this level is a relatively new development, one that links the latest Enemy of the Moment (Pakistan) with longtime-favorite Iran. Why not kill two birds with one stone?

Wiki has a great synopsis on the Laptop and the Green Salt Project

It should be noted that not only has Russia called bullsh*t, immediately, but, also the Chinese…

…”It is clear that contention between the various sides over the Iranian nuclear issue has reached white hot levels and could even be on the precipice of a showdown,” the overseas edition of the People’s Daily said in a front-page commentary…

China’s official Xinhua news agency also suggested that Beijing would respond warily to the report. The UN watchdog still “lacks a smoking gun”, Xinhua said in a commentary.

There are no witnesses or physical evidence to prove that Iran is making nuclear weapons,” it said.

“In dealing with the Iran nuclear issue, it is extremely dangerous to rely on suspicions, and the destructive consequences of any armed action would endure for a long time.”…

“If these sanctions harm China’s substantive interests, then China will have to respond in some way,“said Li Hong, the secretary general of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, a government-controlled body.

Do we really want to awaken the slumbering Dragon…?

*gah*