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Betrayal and Deception: Syria Is a Prime Example of US Foreign Policy

Betrayal and Deception: Syria Is a Prime Example of US Foreign Policy 

Trump announced the withdrawal of US troops who had been protecting the SDF (Syrian democratic forces) in the northeast of Syria, prompting Kurdish leadership and the Damascus governed to strike a deal allowing Syrian Arab Army to retake control of the border with Turkey after nearly six years.

With the US troops withdrawn numbering around 150 to 200 (out of the 2,000 to 3,000 illegally squatting in Syria), it is understood that Trump’s decision is for reasons other than those stated.

The primary impression Trump wishes to convey to his voters is that of keeping his electoral promises, including that of defeating ISIS in Syria, meaning that US troops can now come back home.

Although it is clear (at least to those not under the sway of the mainstream media) that ISIS has not been completely defeated and that the US never really fought against the Caliphate, the impression is nevertheless conveyed that the “Winner-in-Chief” has triumphed and is bringing home the boys.

Given that the deep state retains ultimate control of US foreign policy, Trump is allowed to do and say what he wants – provided it is only within the confines of his media playpen, safe in the knowledge that his motivations are purely electoral and not really aimed and upending the foreign-policy consensus of the US establishment.

If we look beyond Trump’s histrionics, we can see that the US deep state continues its illegal stay in Syria, with Trump in reality having no intention of opposing the military-industrial complex (indeed often appointing its members to serve in his administration), with these two parties finding a common point of agreement in the alleged threat posed by Iran.

US troops will only shift near Iraq, looking at disrupting any form of cooperation between Baghdad, Damascus and Tehran.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The West Fades. The Center Quietly Returns: The New Silk Road

The West Fades. The Center Quietly Returns: The New Silk Road

An image from the workshop on desalination and mineral extraction from seawater organized by Sharif University in Teheran this week. In the photo, you can see people from Oman (3), Iran (3), South Africa (1), India (1), and Bangladesh (1). It was not only a multi-ethnical group but also a Eurasia-centered one. It gave me some impression of the shifting balance of power in the world, from the West to the Center, and inspired this post.  

If you think about that, it is funny that we tend to define ourselves as “Westerners.” Most civilizations and cultures in history have tended to see themselves as the center of the world, just think of China: it is supposed to be “the Middle Kingdom”. This idea that we are on an edge is something that we’ve probably inherited from the ancient Greeks, when everything west of them was seen as a land of mystery, peopled with savages, monsters, and Gods. 

But the fact that we call ourselves Westerners doesn’t mean we think we are a periphery of the world, not at all. Most Westerners seem to cherish the idea that we are the real center, the most advanced, enlightened, and powerful area of the world. The rest of is, well, it is mostly inhabited by turban-wearing barbarians, savage tribes, or, at best, ancient and decadent empires on their way to dissolution. These Non-Westerners need our guidance if they have to attain the nirvana as defined here: democracy and economic liberism.

But the world is vast and things change. Empires are born, reach their pinnacle of greatness and then collapse while still claiming that they will last forever. That may be the destiny of that great world empire, the “Western Empire,” that started with the British and continues with the Americans.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Pompeo Tells Israel It Has “Fundamental Right” To Attack Iranian Targets In The Region

Pompeo Tells Israel It Has “Fundamental Right” To Attack Iranian Targets In The Region

“Our administration’s been very clear,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told The Jerusalem Post in an exclusive Friday interview, published on Sunday. “Israel has the fundamental right to engage in activity that ensures the security of its people. It’s at the very core of what nation-states not only have the right to do, but an obligation to do.”

Immediately after assisting Vice President Mike Pence in negotiating a Syria ceasefire with Turkey in Ankara on Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo headed to Israel. He told the Israeli newspaper in the interview that the ceasefire deal with Erdogan “saved lives”. However, with American troops now exiting Syria, the question of potential Iranian expansion and Israel’s security was focus of his statements.

We know this is a corner where Iran has attempted to move weapon systems across into Syria, into Lebanon, that threatens Israel, and we are going to do everything we can to make sure we have the capacity to identify those so that we can, collectively, respond appropriately,” Pompeo explained in the interview.

Prior file image of Pompeo and PM Netanyahu meeting in Israel, via Anadolu Agency

The interview followed a two hour meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mossad chief Yossi Cohen on Friday morning. Netanyahu has long urged Washington to stay the course in Syria, rather than allow Assad and the Syrian Army to retake the country.

“I think the Israeli people should stare at the probably starkest change this administration has made in foreign policy vis-a-vis what the previous administration has done – the toughest sanctions we’ve ever put,” Pompeo continued to The Jerusalem Post.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

A New Middle East Thanks to Putin

A New Middle East Thanks to Putin

Peace in the Middle East is coming at us fast and we’re going to have Russian President Vladimir Putin to thank for it. 

The howls of agony coming from U.S. and European foreign policy centers are deafening.  Pat Buchanan lists them in his latest article which asks if Putin is now the new king of the Middle East.

“Donald Trump Has Handed Putin the Middle East on a Plate” was the title of a Telegraph column. “Putin Seizes on Trump’s Syria Retreat to Cement Middle East Role,” said the Financial Times.

The U.S. press parroted the British: Putin is now the new master of the Mideast. And woe is us. 

Remember that the epicenter of virulent anti-Russian, pro-Israeli sentiment doesn’t begin with the Neocons along K-Street. It begins with the remnants of the British imperial class which still holds tremendous sway over British politics.

Think I’m wrong about that. Just look at Brexit.

As I pointed out the minute Trump defended his initial pullout of 50 U.S. troops to allow Turkey to cross into northern Syria, Putin has the situation mostly under control by laying the groundwork to craft win/win/win/win possibilities for everyone in the region.

Buchanan remains skeptical of this, saying that if Putin is the new king of the Middle East, will the crown lie heavy on his head?

It’s a fair question but I think it betrays Pat’s biases as an old Cold Warrior. 

Pat makes a series of comparisons between Russia’s military presence in the region and the size of the economies backing them to make his point. I think, frankly, that’s outdated analysis.

It is based on the premise that Russia has imperial aspirations in the region, similar to that of the U.S. At his core, Buchanan is still a ‘great powers theory’ kind of guy. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Major Blaze At Iran Oil Refinery Raises Suspicions Of Saudi Revenge Attack

Major Blaze At Iran Oil Refinery Raises Suspicions Of Saudi Revenge Attack

A section of Iran’s sprawling Abadan oil refinery in the southwest of the country went up in flames Saturday, and state media sources reported the emergency was under control as of Sunday morning. 

State media is describing it as “a fire in a canal carrying waste from Iran’s Abadan oil refinery,” with Iranian official broadcaster IRIB saying, “The refinery’s fire department contained the fire and prevented it from spreading to other units.”


#BREAKING
A fire in a canal carrying waste from #Iran’s #Abadan oil refinery was brought under control on Sunday: State Media


However, given the extent of the blaze captured in social media circulating videos, and especially given it comes after a tense summer of attacks on tanker and refineries — notably the Sept. 14 Saudi Aramco drone and missile attack — the newest Iran facility fire raises serious question. 

Could the clearly massive Abadan blaze, which Iranian state sources appear ready to downplay, be the result of a Saudi revenge attack? 

Though unverified and unconfirmed, Iranian opposition sources are pointing to a potential cyber attack as a possible cause for the fire.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Uncertainties following the Abqaiq attack have shrunk the world’s safe oil reserves by around half (part 1)

Uncertainties following the Abqaiq attack have shrunk the world’s safe oil reserves by around half (part 1)

The world has returned to business as usual after the Saudis assured oil markets that production will be back soon and as oil prices have returned to pre-attack levels and even lower, indicating that oil traders focus on a weak global economic outlook.

Fig 1: Abqaiq’s oil price spike
Fig2: Saudi crude oil production drop after the Abqaiq attack

The peak oil barrel blog monitors OPEC’s oil production and published the above graph for September 2019, using data from OPEC’s Monthly Oil Market Report. The drop from around 9,800 kb/d to 8,500 kb/d translates into an approximate loss in September of 40 mb Arab Light.  Saudi oil stocks were 180 mb before the attack. Maybe tanks are filled with partially processed oil with a high sulfur content.

Iran’s oil exports

From the IEA Monthly Oil Market Report dated 12/9/2019 (2 days before the Abqaiq attack):

Fig 3: US ended sanction waivers in May 2019
https://www.iea.org/media/omrreports/fullissues/2019-09-12.pdf

The data on Iranian oil exports are fuzzy. On 13 Sep 2019 S&P Global Platts reported 424 kb/d in August (mainly to China and Syria) but warns that Iranian storage is filling up quickly, including 50 mb on tankers (mostly condensate). During the last round of sanctions in 2016 storage reached 55-60 mb.

Fig 4: Iranian oil exports by Platts

 

https://www.spglobal.com/platts/en/market-insights/latest-news/oil/091319-analysis-iran-builds-50-mil-barrel-oil-armada-as-exports-plunge

In July 2019 the Atlantic Council calculated in an article entitled

Iran’s Crude Oil Exports: What Minimum Is Enough to Stay Afloat?

that Iran needs to export 1.5 mb/d to balance the budget and 720 Kb/d as an absolute minimum in survival mode (withdrawals from the National Development Fund, foreign exchange and gold reserves)

Changed balance of power in Middle East

As Iranian oil exports have dropped below these thresholds, attacks have intensified:

12 May:  Fujairah, UAE, 4 tankers damaged in Gulf of Oman by limpet mines

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Japan To Send Its Own Military Force To Strait Of Hormuz

Japan To Send Its Own Military Force To Strait Of Hormuz

Ever since the new round of ‘tanker wars’ began in Strait of Hormuz in mid-June with a mysterious mine attack on multiple tankers, one involving a Japanese-owned ship, Tokyo has reportedly mulled sending a Japanese defense force to the area to help protect vital shipping lanes. 

In a rare move, the pacifist nation appears ready to pull the trigger, as FT reports, citing chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, who indicated that “the government was planning to deploy forces in a region where a Japanese tanker, the Kokuka Courageous, was recently attacked with a limpet mine.”

Japanese Defense Forces file image.

Japan’s Asahi newspaper also reported that the self-defense troop deployment to the vital Persian Gulf passage way comes “instead of joining the U.S.-coalition”.

Japan had been among many US allies urged to assist in forming a US-led maritime security patrol — a plan which many feared would only exacerbate tensions with Iran, only leading to war. In not joining the US-led security mission, Tokyo is ensuring it won’t damage important economic ties with Iran.

FT describes what such a Japanese expedition will likely involve:

A Japanese expedition would probably involve ships and aircraft from the Maritime Self-Defense Force. [Chief Cabinet Secretary] Mr Suga said its operations would be limited to international waters in the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea and the Bab al-Mandab strait.

He said the dispatch would take place under provisions of Japanese law allowing for military information gathering and research. The pacifist constitution tightly proscribes how Japan can deploy its military and any ships it sends would use force only in self-defense.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Iran Claims To Have Video Evidence Of Oil Tanker Attacks

Iran Claims To Have Video Evidence Of Oil Tanker Attacks

By – Oct 16, 2019, 2:30 PM CDTJoin Our Community

Drone

Iran has claimed that it has footage of last week’s attack on its oil tanker while off the Saudi Arabian Jeddah port, and it proves that the attacks were carried out by Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United States, according to Mehr news agency, who quoted Abolfazl Hassan Beigi, Iran’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission member.

This evidence, Hassan Beigi said, will be provided to the UN and Security Council.

“Saudi Arabia and the U.S. are trying to put the blame on the ISIL [Islamic State] or the Taliban for the attack, but the documents dismiss such a notion as no ISIL or Taliban terrorists are present in the Red Sea,” Hassan Beigi said, adding that both ISIS and the Taliban were created and sponsored by Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday, in his first media conference in over a year, that the attack on the tanker would not go unpunished, adding that it was “carried out by a government” rather than an individual.

Rouhani stopped short of naming that state actor, however.

“If a country thinks that it can create instability in the region without getting a response, that would be a sheer mistake,” Rouhani said.

The Iranian tanker, the Sabiti, was attacked last Friday in the Red Sea, damaging the vessel and causing oil to spill into the water. The Sabiti belongs to the National Iranian Oil Company.

The attack on the Iranian oil tanker follows the September 14 attack on Saudi Aramco’s oil infrastructure that took offline nearly 6 million bpd of production. Tensions in the Middle East have been flaring up as the United States continues to sanction Iran’s oil industry for noncompliance with the nuclear deal.

ABC News Busted Using Gun Range Footage To Report Turkish ‘Slaughter’ Of Kurd Civilians

ABC News Busted Using Gun Range Footage To Report Turkish ‘Slaughter’ Of Kurd Civilians

ABC News was just busted using two year old gun range footage while reporting on Turkey ‘slaughtering’ the kurds in the wake of a US withdrawal from the region. 

This video right here appearing to show Turkey’s military bombing Kurd civilians in a Syrian border town. The Kurds, who fought alongside the US against ISIS now horrific reports of atrocities committed by Turkish-backed fighters on those very allies” -ABC News 


Wow! ABC News is trying to pass gun range videos as combat footage from Syria


For comparison, here’s the ABC News report: 

And here’s the footage they used – from the Knob Creek gun range in West Point, Kentucky in 2017. 

Just a simple editing room oversight, we’re sure. 

Bimillenary of the death of Germanicus: The Defeat of the Roman Deep State

Bimillenary of the death of Germanicus: The Defeat of the Roman Deep State

2,000 years ago, on Oct 10, 19 CE, Germanicus Julius Caesar died in Antioch, Asia Minor, perhaps poisoned by his uncle, Tiberius, then the ruling emperor. If we see Hillary Clinton in the role of Germanicus and Donald Trump in the role of Tiberius, you have an equivalent ongoing conflict. 
Most likely, the concept of “Deep State” existed in Roman times, just as in ours.

Germanicus had not gained his “agnomen” (victory name) because he was a friend of the Germans, but because he had managed to kill many of them in a series of military campaigns from 14 to 16 CE. Tacitus tells us many details of how the Romans engaged in what we would call today a Strafexpedition (“Punitive expedition”) to avenge the defeat they had suffered against the Germans in Teutoburg ten years before. 

The Romans attacked Germany with eight legions and plenty of auxiliary troops in what was probably the largest military expedition in history, up to that time. In military terms, it was a success: the Germans were defeated and forced to retreat, but the cost of the campaign was simply staggering. Reading Tacitus we can get a feeling of the enormous effort in which the Romans had to engage in order to keep their legions supplied of food, equipment (and money for the troops). Eight legions were about a third of the whole military strength of the Empire: imagine fielding them in a region having no roads and no supporting infrastructure! 

By 16 CE, it must have been clear that the effort was bankrupting the Roman state. That led to an undeclared conflict between the ruling emperor of the time, Tiberius, and his nephew, Germanicus. It was good that Germanicus could defeat the Germans (or, at least, claim victory over them).

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Did Everything Just Change?How material are this week’s QE & China deal announcements?

Did Everything Just Change?How material are this week’s QE & China deal announcements?

It’s hard to imagine a more euphoric end to the week for bulls.

Two weeks ago I issued a report titled Realistically, What’s Left To Power Asset Prices Higher? which claimed the bulls only hope was for a near-term resumption of QE (quantitative easing, aka “money printing”) or a China trade deal.

Well, this week they got both.

Jerome Powell announced Wednesday that the U.S. Federal Reserve will resume expanding its balance sheet to the tune of $60 billion per month. And just a few hours ago, the Trump administration announced it had reached a partial trade agreement with its Chinese counterparts.

And to put a cherry on top of things, word from across the Pond is that somehow a Brexit deal just might happen by the end of the month.

When I began typing this article earlier today, the markets were fiercely building towards an orgiastic climax. They ended with a slight post-coital breather, closing modestly off the day’s highs.

In short, the bulls are suddenly having the time of their lives.

So, does this mean happy days have returned? Have we been rescued from the rising tide of data warning of an economic slowdown and lower asset prices? Does the Fed — and now China, too — have our back again?

Is it time for investors to become optimistic once more?

“”Markets”” No More

Before we answer that, though, let’s address the elephant in the room. We no longer have functioning financial markets.

The central banking cartel has killed price discovery. The $15+ TRILLION in liquidity injected by the Fed, EBC, BoJ, BoE and PBoC over the past decade has ‘risen all boats’ when it comes to asset prices.

Whether great, mediocre, or horrible, the price of nearly every company/property/investment has been on a one-way 45-degree ramp upwards since global co-ordinated quantitative easing began in 2009.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Eurozone

QUESTION: Hi Marty,

I’m based here in South of England, within the commuter belt into London. The ECM forecasts an economic downturn 18.01.2020, and Europe looks to be at the epicentre. My own research tells me the job cuts in the auto sector in Germany are quite severe.

How does all this play out after January? We have already witnessed companies collapsing, Thomas Cook, and many teetering on the very of edge of collapse. How bad is this going to be, and how does this compare to 2008?

Of course, the next 3 months of 2019 are going to be very volatile, what I’m trying to understand is how does all this look like to the average city worker within finance, law or professional services.

Within my own peer group most are clueless on what is going on and perhaps they should be thinking of income protection rather than going out and buying £60k Range Rovers. The apathy never ceases to amaze me.

I welcome your insight. Thanks for your great work which keeps us mere mortals informed.

Cheers IB

ANSWER: The answer is very bad. The structure of the Eurozone is an absolute disaster. It is promoted as a single country, but it lacks everything that stands behind a currency. Just look at the tariffs starting between the USA and the EU. It is IMPOSSIBLE to negotiate a trade deal with Europe because each country can veto any deal, proving this is not a single country, and thus there is no substance behind the single currency. This is why I say Brexit is the only way for Britain to survive. It cannot negotiate any trade deals with the USA, China, Canada, or whoever because any other state can veto it. They surrendered their sovereignty and it is undermining the European economy.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

US To Send ‘Thousands’ More Troops To Saudi Arabia

US To Send ‘Thousands’ More Troops To Saudi Arabia

Reuters reports, citing defense or administration sources, that the US is set to send thousands of additional  troops to Saudi Arabia in the wake of last month’s Aramco attacks. 

“The United States is planning to send a large number of additional forces to Saudi Arabia following the Sept. 14 attack on its oil facilities, which Washington and Riyadh have blamed on Iran,” according to a breaking Reuters report

Though the Pentagon has yet to officially confirm the report with comment, Reuters noted the “sources did not specify exactly how many troops would be deployed but said it was expected to be in the thousands.”

And Bloomberg reports this could be as many as 1,800 new personnel, pending an official Pentagon statement:

Defense Secretary Mark Esper is expected to announce a new deployment of U.S. forces to the Middle East as tensions rise over Turkey’s military operations in northern Syria and an explosion on an Iranian oil tanker.

As many as 1,800 military personnel, including two air squadrons, are expected to be deployed to the region,including to Saudi Arabia, according to a defense official.

Earlier in the month the Pentagon deployed 500 troops in coordination with King Salman and crown prince MbS for “regional stability” and to counter Iran. 

Ironically this comes as Trump has promised to “slowly” get “out of the Middle East”.

Did China Just Announce the End of U.S. Primacy in the Pacific?

Did China Just Announce the End of U.S. Primacy in the Pacific?

Last week’s military parade previewed a series of game-changing weapons that could neutralize American seapower.

Military vehicles carrying DF-17 ballistic missiles march during a parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China at Tiananmen Square on October 1, 2019 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Sheng Jiapeng/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images) 

For decades, the United States has taken China’s ballistic missile capability for granted, assessing it as a low-capability force with limited regional impact and virtually no strategic value. But on October 1, during a massive military parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Beijing put the U.S., and the world, on notice that this assessment was no longer valid. 

In one fell swoop, China may have nullified America’s strategic nuclear deterrent, the U.S. Pacific Fleet, and U.S. missile defense capability. Through its impressive display of new weapons systems, China has underscored the reality that while the United States has spent the last two decades squandering trillions of dollars fighting insurgents in the Middle East, Beijing was singularly focused on overcoming American military superiority in the Pacific. If the capabilities of these new weapons are taken at face value, China will have succeeded on this front. 

In the West, it is called RMA, short for “Revolution in Military Affairs.” The term was first coined by Marshal Nikolai Ogarkov in the early 1980s. Ogarkov, who was at the time serving as the chief of the Soviet general staff, spoke of “developments in nonnuclear means of destruction [which] promise to make it possible to sharply increase (by at least an order of magnitude) the destructive potential of conventional weapons, bringing them closer, so to speak, to weapons of mass destruction in terms of effectiveness.” 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Iranian Oil Tanker Struck By 2 Missiles Near Saudi Port

Iranian Oil Tanker Struck By 2 Missiles Near Saudi Port 

Many questions remained unanswered early Friday after an attack on an Iranian oil tanker in the Red Sea sent oil prices higher, in the latest attack on energy-industry infrastructure in an increasingly volatile part of the world. According to the New York Times, a fire erupted on an Iranian oil tanker about 60 miles from the Port of Jeddah on Friday after the tanker’s two major tanks were struck by missiles, causing an oil spill.

No crew members were hurt and the ship is reportedly in stable condition, according to Iranian state news media. The National Iranian Oil Company, which owns the tanker, said the ship was struck at 5 am local time and 5:20 am local time. Iranian officials said Friday that the incident was “an act of terrorism”, but they insisted that the ship had suffered minimal damage and that only a small amount of oil had spilled into the ocean. The Iranians also denied that the ship had caught fire, despite photos purportedly depicting the blaze.


#BREAKING: There is No longer fire & oil leakage in #Iran‘s oil tanker #SABITI. Images taken an hour ago show the oiler in #RedSea after changing its course. There are two possibilities behind the two explosions in the ship: 1-#SaudiArabia‘s attack 2-#Israel Navy attack.

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

Iranian media said “technical experts” are still investigating the cause of the explosion, though Iranian state media initially blamed Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom, meanwhile, denied any responsibility for the attack. However, according to conflicting reports, the National Iranian Oil Company denied that Saudi Arabia, Iran’s archrival in the region, was behind the attack, and instead pointed the finger toward Israel.

Another inconsistency emerged when Iran said a tanker known as the Sabiti had been hit. But the ship-tracking website Marine Traffic shows the vessel hasn’t transmitted any location data since mid-August.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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