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‘Samarkand Spirit’ to be driven by ‘responsible powers’ Russia and China

‘Samarkand Spirit’ to be driven by ‘responsible powers’ Russia and China

The SCO summit of Asian power players delineated a road map for strengthening the multipolar world

Amidst serious tremors in the world of geopolitics, it is so fitting that this year’s Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) heads of state summit should have taken place in Samarkand – the ultimate Silk Road crossroads for 2,500 years.

When in 329 BC Alexander the Great reached the then Sogdian city of Marakanda, part of the Achaemenid empire, he was stunned: “Everything I have heard about Samarkand it’s true, except it is even more beautiful than I had imagined.”

Fast forward to an Op-Ed by Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev published ahead of the SCO summit, where he stresses how Samarkand now “can become a platform that is able to unite and reconcile states with various foreign policy priorities.”

After all, historically, the world from the point of view of the Silk Road landmark has always been “perceived as one and indivisible, not divided. This is the essence of a unique phenomenon – the ‘Samarkand spirit’.”

And here Mirziyoyev ties the “Samarkand Spirit” to the original SCO “Shanghai Spirit” established in early 2001, a few months before the events of September 11, when the world was forced into strife and endless war, almost overnight.

All these years, the culture of the SCO has been evolving in a distinctive Chinese way. Initially, the Shanghai Five were focused on fighting terrorism – months before the US war of terror (italics mine) metastasized from Afghanistan to Iraq and beyond.

Over the years, the initial “three no’s” – no alliance, no confrontation, no targeting any third party – ended up equipping a fast, hybrid vehicle whose ‘four wheels’ are ‘politics, security, economy, and humanities,’ complete with a Global Development Initiative, all of which contrast sharply with the priorities of a hegemonic, confrontational west.

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

War with Iran

War with Iran

The United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel, responsible for military fiascos, hundreds of thousands of deaths and innumerable war crimes in the Middle East, are now plotting to attack Iran.

Biden at Bat – by Mr. Fish

The United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia are plotting a war with Iran. The 2015 Iranian nuclear arms accord, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which Donald Trump sabotaged, does not look like it will be revived.  U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) is reviewing options to attack if Teheran looks poised to obtain a nuclear weapon and Israel, which opposes U.S.-Iran nuclear negotiations, carries out military strikes.

During his visit to Israel, Biden assured Prime Minister Yair Lapid that the U.S. is “prepared to use all elements of its national power,” including military force, to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon.

Saudi Arabia, Israel and the U.S. function as a troika in the Middle East. The Israeli government has built a close alliance with Saudi Arabia, which produced 15 of the 19 hijackers in the September 11 attacks and has been a prolific sponsor of international terrorism, supporting Salafi jihadism, the basis of al-Qaeda, and such groups as the Afghanistan Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Al-Nusra Front.

The three countries worked in tandem to back the 2013 military coup in Egypt, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who overthrew its first democratically elected government. He has imprisoned tens of thousands of government critics, including journalists and human rights defenders, on politically motivated charges. The Sisi regime collaborates with Israel by keeping its common border with Gaza closed to Palestinians, trapping them in the Gaza strip, one of the most densely populated and impoverished places on earth.

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

Food Riots In Sri Lanka Turn Deadly As Protesters Beat Up Police, Burn Down Politicians’ Houses

Food Riots In Sri Lanka Turn Deadly As Protesters Beat Up Police, Burn Down Politicians’ Houses

Two months ago, we noted the first Arab Spring 2.0 incident when, as a result of soaring food, energy (and everything else) prices, thousands of angry Iraqis took to the street to protest. Needless to say, their complaints did not get much traction, and in the meantime food prices have only exploded to fresh record highs, far surpassing the levels hit in 2011 when riots against, you guessed it, food prices toppled most MENA political regimes (not without some CIA backing).

And as food prices keep rising, the protests across poor nations keep escalating, and on Thursday protests broke out in Iran leading to at least 22 arrests, after the government cut subsidies for food, sending prices through the roof as authorities braced for more unrest in the following weeks, Fox News reports.

In videos shared on social media, protesters can be seen marching through Dezful and Mahshahr in the southwestern province of Khezestan, chanting “Death to Khamenei! Death to Raisi!” referring to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has promised to create jobs, lift sanctions, and rescue the economy.

Iranian state media has not publicly addressed the protests, but they have been covered by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an opposition group. Footage shared by the NCRI shows protesters setting fire to a Basij military base in Jooneghan, a city in the Central District of Jooneghan county.

“Every so often we see these types of protests in Iran. Each time it is under a different premise – the price of eggs, the price of gas, the price of bread, but the underlining message which is supported by the slogans heard throughout the demonstrations is the same; they are protesting the entirety of a brutal regime,” Lisa Daftari, Iran expert and editor-in-chief of the Foreign Desk, said in a statement.

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

Falling oil inventories is what matters, not geopolitics: Eric Nuttall

Falling oil inventories is what matters, not geopolitics: Eric Nuttall

Video: https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/video/falling-oil-inventories-is-what-matters-not-geopolitics-eric-nuttall~2382581?fbclid=IwAR35n9dgxwTWlZkX2bEYyy72SOGJR0eQM3MkFzRENmj9S8oDz0xkI9XfP8o

Oil prices are retreating as tensions between Russia and Ukraine ease and investors grow more concerned about an Iran nuclear deal, so what does it all mean for the oil market long-term? Eric Nuttall, partner and senior portfolio manager of Ninepoint Partners, joins BNN Bloomberg for his outlook.

Turkey Hit By Unprecedented Power Outages As Iran Halts Gas Flows

Turkey Hit By Unprecedented Power Outages As Iran Halts Gas Flows

  • A disruption to natural gas imports from Iran has caused an unprecedented level of power cuts in Turkey.
  • The power cuts have largely impacted major industrial zones, with some companies forced to halt production as a result.
  • Iran claims that its natural gas flows have been restored but Turkey has said its supplies and gas pressure remain very low.

Turkey is undergoing massive power cuts to industrial customers this week at an unprecedented level never seen before after the country’s natural gas supplies dipped following a disruption of imports from Iran. Major industrial zones and clusters and major production sites, including those of foreign car manufacturers, are being hit by power outages after Iran said at the end of last week it would halt natural gas exports to Turkey for ten days, due to technical issues.

On Friday, Iran announced that gas flows were restored, but Turkey said supplies were very low and at low pressure.

“The system is being disrupted due to the low amount and pressure. The compressor stations on the Turkey side are ready, operational, and there are no technical issues on the Turkish side,” a Turkish official told Reuters on Friday.

Gas supply from Iran to Turkey has yet to fully resume, which puts major industries under power cuts this week, according to Turkey’s main electricity distribution company TEIAS, cited by Bloomberg.

As of Monday, Turkey’s industrial production will stop completely for at least three days, Daily Sabah reported on Sunday.

Gas accounts for more than half of the country’s electricity generation, and Iran’s halting of flows comes at a time of surging gas imports for Turkey, which have become much more expensive due to the crumbling Turkish currency, the lira.

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

 

The Three Types of US ‘Regime Change’

The Three Types of US ‘Regime Change’

When the U.S. overthrows a foreign government it either works from the top down, the bottom up, or through military invasion, writes Joe Lauria.

Chilean presidential palace during U.S.-backed coup, Sept. 11, 1973. (Library of the Chilean National Congress/Wikipedia)

Throughout the long, documented history of the United States illegally overthrowing governments of foreign lands to build a global empire there has emerged three ways Washington broadly carries out “regime change.”

From Above. If the targeted leader has been democratically elected and enjoys popular support, the C.I.A. has worked with elite groups, such as the military, to overthrow him (sometimes through assassination).  Among several examples is the first C.I.A-backed coup d’état, on March 30, 1949,  just 18 months after the agency’s founding, when Syrian Army Colonel Husni al-Za’im overthrew the elected president, Shukri al-Quwatli.

The C.I.A. in 1954 toppled the elected President Jacobo Árbenz  of Guatemala, who was replaced with a military dictator. In 1961, just three days before the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, who favored his release, Congolese President Patrice Lumumba was assassinated with C.I.A. assistance, bringing military strongman Mobutu Sese Seko to power.  In 1973, the U.S. backed Chilean General Augusto Pinochet to overthrow and kill the democratically-elected, socialist President Salvador Allende, setting up a military dictatorship, one of many U.S.-installed military dictatorships of that era in Latin America under Operation Condor.

From Below. If the targeted government faces genuine popular unrest, the U.S. will foment and organize it to topple the leader, elected or otherwise.  1958-59 anti-communist protests in Kerala, India, locally supported by the Congress Party and the Catholic Church, were funded by the C.I.A., leading to the removal of the elected communist government…

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

Oil Spikes To Fresh 7-Year High After Key Iraq-Turkey Pipeline Explosion

Oil Spikes To Fresh 7-Year High After Key Iraq-Turkey Pipeline Explosion

Despite dollar strength today (and more worrisome ZeroCOVID actions from China), oil prices continued to rise but news after-hours that an explosion knocked out a major pipeline sparked more upside.

Little is known about the cause, but the explosion at a pipeline connecting Northern Iraq and the port of Ceyhan in the Mediterranean has taken 450kb/d of supply offline in an already very tight crude oil market.

The pipelines have been halted before: Back in 2012 blasts blamed on saboteurs halted the link for several months.

The headlines sent oil prices spiking with WTI topping $86 for the first time since Oct 2014 (Brent neared $89)…

This news follows a ballistic missile attack over the weekend, where Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen targeted oil infrastructure in the UAE.

Pipeline operator Botas said the fire has been brought under control and cooling operations were under way.

Botas said the it would reopen once the “necessary measures” had been taken, but gave no indication of timing.

Gas Stations Across Iran Crippled After Massive Cyberattack

Gas Stations Across Iran Crippled After Massive Cyberattack

Iran has announced that the country’s energy infrastructure was hit by a massive cyberattack on Tuesday, which left state subsidized gas stations across the country out of commission, resulting in very long lines of cars observed waiting to fill up in many towns and cities.

The timing is interesting given it happened near the two year anniversary mark of deadly nationwide protests following serious gas shortages and price hikes in the fall of 2019. The ‘activist’ nature of the hack is further revealed in that Iranian media is reporting that a message showed up in national computer systems that were hacked that addressed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei with the words, “where is the gas?”

Illustrative file image

According to The Jerusalem Post, Iranian officials are already suspecting a US or Israeli intrusion: “With the exact details still hazy, there is already rife speculation about whether the purported cyberattack came from the US, Israel or a range of local Iranian anti-regime groups.”

There’s also the possibility of well-funded Iranian opposition and dissident groups, namely the MEK, or “People’s Mujahedin of Iran” – which has itself been known to work with Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency.

Iranian state media had confirmed the hack of crucial energy systems, earlier on Tuesday, saying that some of the problems at swamped gas stations have begun to be resolved:

Local news agencies reported on Tuesday that long queues that had been formed in front of gas stations in large Iranian cities had cleared up after Oil Ministry authorities dispatched teams to the forecourts to enable offline fuel delivery.

Iran’s National Virtual Space Center also issued a statement confirming that a cyberattack had targeted the online fuel delivery system in the country.

“Related departments are working to fix the problem and fuel delivery services will return to normal within the next few hours,” the official statement said.

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

Nationwide Blackout Hits Syria After Gas Pipeline Bombed

Nationwide Blackout Hits Syria After Gas Pipeline Bombed

A blackout has reportedly plunged all of Syria into darkness Friday into Saturday, with Syria’s state-run SANA announcing the nationwide power outage is due to an attack on a gas site and pipeline in southern Damascus.

Into the overnight hours, electricity reportedly returned to much of the capital of Damascus, while the Minister of Electricity Ghassan al-Zamil vowed to restore the rest of the country’s power in a matter of “hours” as technicians are on the scene.

Illustrative image: gas pipeline bombing from earlier in the war, Reuters file.

It was part of Hezbollah’s promise to get Iranian fuel into Lebanon amid the country’s energy crisis, which has seen its own severe blackouts hit major cities and towns over much of the past month.

There’s also the possibility of an attack on Syria’s infrastructure by remnant anti-Assad insurgent groups, also as there’s again in recent weeks been renewed fierce fighting centered on the southern Syria city of Deraa.

According to a popular Syria blogger and commentator, “Sources in southern Damascus reported hearing an explosion seconds before the blackout. All of this happened as the second batch of tankers carrying Iranian fuel was crossing into Lebanon.”

Speculating on the question of a possible external sabotage operation that caused the blackout, given the deeply suspicious timing, geopolitical commentator and Syria watcher Aaron Maté said, “Just as it helps Hezbollah bring desperately needed fuel into Lebanon, Syria suffers a sabotage attack that leads to complete blackout.”

“This is on top of the regular power shortages caused primarily by US sanctions & the 10-year dirty war,” Maté added.

Iran’s Huge Caspian Gas Find Is A Geopolitical Gamechanger

Iran’s Huge Caspian Gas Find Is A Geopolitical Gamechanger

Iran last week revealed a huge new gas deposit located in the Iranian sector of the Caspian Sea. The ‘Chalous’ structure is to be developed with the intention of forming a new gas hub in northern Iran to complement the southern gas hub centred on the massive South Pars field.

The principal named developer of the Chalous site is Iran’s Khazar Exploration and Production Company (KEPCO) but technical and financial assistance will also come from Russia and China. If the initial estimates of the gas reserves held in the Chalous deposit are correct then Iranian gas will be able to supply at least 20 percent of Europe’s gas needs. However, the size, price, and destination of this gas will be co-ordinated with Russia, adding to the energy power that Moscow has over Europe, already a key matter of contention between Europe and its NATO partner, the U.S.  According to KEPCO’s chief executive officer, Ali Osouli, the Chalous structure is estimated to hold gas reserves equivalent to a quarter of the supergiant South Pars gas field, or around 11 of its phases. South Pars has an estimated 14.2 trillion cubic metres (Tcm) of gas reserves in place plus 18 billion barrels of gas condensate and already accounts for around 40 percent of Iran’s total estimated 33.8 tcm of gas reserves and about 80 percent of its gas production. The 3,700-square kilometre (sq.km) South Pars site is part of the 9,700-square km basin shared with Qatar (in the form of the 6,000-square km North Dome) but the Chalous structure lies squarely within Iran’s sector of the Caspian Sea. This has not so far been affected by the recent disputes between the five littoral states that share oil, gas, and other rights in it: Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan.

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

Iran Opens Export Terminal To Bypass World’s Biggest Oil Chokepoint

Iran Opens Export Terminal To Bypass World’s Biggest Oil Chokepoint

Iran says it has opened its first oil export terminal in the Gulf of Oman to allow Tehran to avoid using the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping route that has long been a focus of regional tensions.

“Today, the first shipment of 100 tons of oil is loaded outside the Strait of Hormuz,” President Hassan Rohani said in a televised speech on July 22, calling it an “important step for Iran” that will “secure the continuation of our oil exports.”

The new terminal, located near the port city of Jask, will allow tankers headed into the Arabian Sea and beyond to avoid the Strait of Hormuz at the head of the Persian Gulf, through which one-fifth of world oil output passes.

Rohani said Iran aimed to export 1 million barrels per day of oil from the facility, which officials said will cost some $2 billion.

Oil Minister Zanganeh said that “82 percent of this project has been completed and so far more than $1.2 billion has been spent on this.”

Iran’s main oil export terminal is located at Kharg inside the narrow strait, which is patrolled by warships of its arch-foe, the United States.

There have been periodic confrontations between Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the U.S. military in the area.

Iran has often threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz if its crude exports were shut down by U.S. sanctions, which have heavily impacted Iranian energy exports.

Washington reimposed the sanctions more than three years ago when then-President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

Tehran and U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration have been in indirect talks in Vienna since April to try to revive the agreement, under which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in return for the lifting of most international sanctions.

From the Notebook: A Critical Shift in the War for Oil

From the Notebook: A Critical Shift in the War for Oil


Davos really do think they are too clever by half. Despite prognostications to the contrary, negotiations with Iran over a new JCPOA are nearing completion which Biden/Obama will sign off on after putting up a bit more token resistance to lifting sanctions.

Why do I say this? Nordstream 2.

Biden backed down on Nordstream 2 and, at The Davos Crowd’s insistence, he will back down on the JCPOA.

Davos needs cheap energy into Europe. That’s ultimately what the JCPOA was all about. The basic framework for the deal is still there. While the U.S. will kick and scream a bit about sanctions relief, Iran will be back into the oil market and make it possible for Europe to once again invest in oil/gas projects in Iran.

Now that Benjamin Netanyahu is no longer going to be leading Israel, the probability of breakthrough is much much higher than last week. The Likudniks in Congress and the Senate just lost their raison d’etre. The loss of face for Israel in Bibi’s latest attempt to bludgeon Gaza to retain power backfired completely.

U.S. policy towards Israel is shifting rapidly as the younger generations, Gen-X and Millennials, simply don’t have the same allegiance to Israel that the Baby Boomers and Silent generations did. It is part of a geopolitical ethos which is outdated.

So, with some deal over Iran’s nuclear capability in the near future, Europe will then get gas pipelines from Iran through Turkey as well as gain better access to the North South Transport Corridor which is now unofficially part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

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

What To Expect From Today’s OPEC+ Meeting: Another Saudi Surprise?

What To Expect From Today’s OPEC+ Meeting: Another Saudi Surprise?

After Wednesday’s JMMC meeting ended without reaching a recommendation (as is customary and expected), the key decision-making OPEC+ meeting – where ministers will hammer out May’s output quotas – begins at 1pm London Time. As Newsquawk notes, market expectations are skewed towards an extension of current cuts, but a clear stance from Saudi – who have a tendency to surprise in recent months – remains to be seen, namely on the decision regarding the extra 1MM barrels the Kingdom has kept offline since the start of the year.

Commenting on today’s key event, Bloomberg’s Jake Lloyd-Smith reminds us that Saudi Arabia has sprung some big surprises in the oil market already this year, and may do so again today as OPEC+ grapples with a thorny decision on supply. That could make for a volatile session before the long weekend, and already has with oil whipsawing from gains to losses in jittery trading, amid market rumors that OPEC+ is i) considering a return to phased monthly oil-output hikes and ii) is also considering maintaining current cuts, according to a delegate… which pretty much covers every base so is completely useless.

As such, while the consensus view is the grouping will stick with deep output curbs to safeguard crude’s recovery, there’s an outside chance of alternative outcomes. These span the twin extremes, from releasing barrels to tightening further.

At issue is the varied recovery across key regions. For every rosy demand metric from the U.S. or China, there’s a poor one from Europe as lockdowns make a comeback. In addition, Riyadh faces a headache from rival Iran, which has been pushing clandestine barrels into China despite U.S. sanctions…

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

opec+, oil and gas industry, zerohedge, saudi arabia, russia, iran, china, united states, economic sanctions, oil, oil price, bloomberg

The Iran-China Axis Is A Fast Growing Force In Oil Markets

The Iran-China Axis Is A Fast Growing Force In Oil Markets

One of the things that doesn’t get a lot of discussion in the press is the under-the-table relationship Iran and China have had when it comes to oil. At first glance, they wouldn’t seem to have a lot in common. One is a theocracy with a radical view of non-believers and the other is probably the only example of a successful communist dictatorship since this form of government was created. But, if you look a little deeper they have a couple of things that align their mutual interests strongly. The first is they are both absolute dictatorships, meaning the institutions of government and national policies can be changed at the whim of those at the top. The second thing they have in common, and this is the main takeaway, both countries have serious geopolitical issues with the United States.

Iran suffers from years of sanctions imposed primarily by the U.S. to compel them to comply with U.N. resolutions regarding their atomic program. China views this century as the one in which they displace America as the world’s dominant Super Power. The place where these two authoritarian government’s worldviews align is in their opposition to the U.S.

It’s worth noting China’s apparent success has been funded by western economies over the last 75-years, thanks to our desire to buy everything as cheaply as possible. In that time, China has become the manufacturing center for the world and amassed immense wealth in doing so. The pandemic has caused a rethinking of the wisdom of outsourcing strategic commodities to despotic regimes, but for now, if you buy something other than food odds are it was made in China.

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

Iran’s Defense Minister Says Country Must Prepare for Nuclear and Chemical Attacks

Iran’s Defense Minister Says Country Must Prepare for Nuclear and Chemical Attacks

Tuesday marked the 33rd anniversary of Saddam Hussein using chemical weapons on Iraqi Kurds

On Tuesday, Iran’s defense minister said the country must be prepared to face nuclear, chemical, and biological attacks.

“We should be prepared to defend our nation against all threats and whatever the enemy may one day use as an offensive tool, including chemical, nuclear and biological weapons,” said Gen. Amir Hatami, according to Iran’s Fars News Agency.

Hatami made his comments on the 33rd anniversary of a chemical weapons attack by Saddam Hussein on Iraqi Kurds in Halabja, Iraq. During the Iran-Iraq war that raged from 1980 to 1988, Hussein frequently used chemical weapons against Iran, sometimes with US support.

Declassified CIA documents revealed that in 1988, the US shared intelligence with Hussein to show the location of Iranian troops, knowing he would use lethal gas against them. The documents revealed the US had firm evidence Hussein was using chemical weapons as early as 1983.

The US and other Western countries provided Hussein with materials to make chemical weapons at the time. A 1994 congressional inquiry found that US companies shipped anthrax and dozens of other biological agents that could be used to make chemical weapons to Iraq during the war.

Besides Iran’s history of being targeted by chemical weapons, Iran is also constantly threatened by Israel, the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East. While Israel frequently takes covert action against Iran, Israeli officials have been hinting at a larger attack on Tehran’s civilian nuclear program if the US returns to the Iran nuclear deal.

, antiwar.com, iran, chemical weapons, middle east, israel, war, cia, united states

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