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Iran’s ‘only crime is we decided not to fold’

Iran’s ‘only crime is we decided not to fold’ 
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, at the annual Astana Club meeting in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan last week. Photo: Asia Times / Pepe Escobar 

Iran’s ‘only crime is we decided not to fold’ 

Foreign Minister Zarif sketches Iran-US relations for diplomats, former presidents and analysts


Just in time to shine a light on what’s behind the latest sanctions from Washington, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a speech at the annual Astana Clubmeeting in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan delivered a searing account of Iran-US relations to a select audience of high-ranking diplomats, former Presidents and analysts.

Zarif was the main speaker in a panel titled “The New Concept of Nuclear Disarmament.” Keeping to a frantic schedule, he rushed in and out of the round table to squeeze in a private conversation with Kazakh First President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

During the panel, moderator Jonathan Granoff, President of the Global Security Institute, managed to keep a Pentagon analyst’s questioning of Zafir from turning into a shouting match.

Previously, I had extensively discussed with Syed Rasoul Mousavi, minister for West Asia at the Iran Foreign Ministry, myriad details on Iran’s stance everywhere from the Persian Gulf to Afghanistan. I was at the James Bond-ish round table of the Astana Club, as I moderated two other panels, one on multipolar Eurasia and the post-INF environment and another on Central Asia (the subject of further columns).

Zarif’s intervention was extremely forceful. He stressed how Iran “complied with every agreement and it got nothing;” how “our people believe we have not gained from being part of” the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action; how inflation is out of control; how the value of the rial dropped 70% “because of ‘coercive measures’ – not sanctions because they are illegal.”

He spoke without notes, exhibiting absolute mastery of the inextricable swamp that is US-Iran relations. It turned out, in the end, to be a bombshell. Here are highlights.

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

Over 100 Protesters Killed In Iran Amid Largest Internet Shutdown In Nation’s History

Over 100 Protesters Killed In Iran Amid Largest Internet Shutdown In Nation’s History

Now five days into widespread protests in some one hundred Iranian cities after a dramatic gas price hike last Friday, Amnesty Internationalreports that at least 106 have been killed

However, “The organisation believes that the real death toll may be much higher, with some reports suggesting as many as 200 have been killed,” Amnesty said in a statement.

This as the government has cut off internet access across much of the country, resulting in few videos of clashes with police reaching the West, as in the early couple of days of the unrest. 

Image source: AFP/Getty Images

A statement from the global outage monitor Oracle’s Internet Intelligence called it the largest blockage ever observed in Iran:

Protesters took to the streets shortly after the government announced an increase in fuel prices by as much as 300%. Social media images showed banks, petrol stations and government buildings set ablaze by rioters. Some protesters chanted “down with Khamenei,” according to videos, referring to the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The internet blackout started on Saturday evening and continued through Monday, according to internet watchdogs. Oracle’s Internet Intelligence called it the “largest internet shutdown ever observed in Iran.”

The United Nations is now urging Iran to lift the internet blockage and to show restraint after what the international body called the “clearly very serious” extent of casualties.

The UN high commissioner also acknowledged it is looking into reports of live ammunition being used on demonstrators, which activists say there’s ample video evidence for. 

The government-imposed internet block began on Saturday, leaving some 80 million citizens without online access. 

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

US Publicly Backs Iran Protests As Khamenei Says Crackdown On “Thugs” Coming

US Publicly Backs Iran Protests As Khamenei Says Crackdown On “Thugs” Coming

It took Washington all of two days to jump behind the large popular protests over gas price hikes which gripped cities across Iran since Friday. Over the weekend the US State Department predictably came out in favor of more protests, in a volatile situation in the sanctions-ravaged country which has already witnessed multiple demonstrators killed and over a thousands arrested, and banks and gas stations torched in anger over soaring gas prices

Given Uncle Sam is all too eager to hijack any Iranian domestic protests for the purpose of ‘regime change’ in what’s currently a middle and lower class driven movement over the deteriorating economic situation and drastic change in policy which saw petrol subsidies suddenly slashed, this could be the very recipe which brings the unrest to a halt. Ayatollah Khamenei already labeled those behind vandalism and sabotage as “thugs” and described them as “counter-revolutionary” forces, in reference to Iran’s ‘Islamic revolutionary’ government. 

Central Bank In Behbahan, Iran being engulfed in flames as demonstrators chant.

The Islamic Republic’s clerics and political leaders will now no doubt paint the crowds in the streets as being the servants of US and Israeli imperial aggression and interference. But then again, considering that the Trump administration established a special CIA unit reportedly named the ‘Iran Mission Center’ — with an express purpose to facilitate US-driven political change in the country — the mullahs might not be too far off the mark in their paranoia and suspicions at any “spontaneous” uprising. 

“The proud Iranian people are not staying silent about the government’s abuses,” Pompeo said in a statement published Sunday, saying that “the United States is with you,” and will stand against Iran’s “tyranny.”

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

Iran Burning: Shock Gas Price Hike Triggers Violent Protests After Subsidy Cuts

Iran Burning: Shock Gas Price Hike Triggers Violent Protests After Subsidy Cuts

With protests and unrest raging in multiple hot spots around the globe from Latin America to Hong Kong to Lebanon and Iraq, it could be Iran’s turn to join in. 

Amid a fresh price hike in gasoline — the latest in a string of woes to hit the sanctions ravaged Iranian economy, ultimately making life miserable for the common populace — rare mass protests have broken out in multiple cities

Image source: RFERL/Iranian social meida 

Protests and clashes with police began Friday when petrol prices suddenly rose by at least 50% after government subsidies on it were slashed. Government statements said the plan is to divert the funds in order to make cash payments to low-income households.

In essence Tehran authorities dubiously claim they were forced to “free up money” to assist the poor; however, it appears more drastic scrambling as Tehran struggles to find global purchasers to offload its oil. 

#Iran, Nov 16- Millions of citizens across the country take to streets, closing the roads to protest against tripling gas prices. Video sent form the city of Shiraz. pic.twitter.com/a6FSw9gAEN— Persian Reuters (@PersianReuters) November 16, 2019

And as of Saturday Reuters Persian reports that gas prices have tripled, taking millions of angry middle class demonstrators to the streets across the country.

Early report about middle class and upper class protesting in Tehran Pars is now confirmed. People are on t he streets chanting “down with the dictator” and burning Sina Bank. https://t.co/AUOt9kFtw1 pic.twitter.com/BNB5x0Tils— Raman Ghavami (@Raman_Ghavami) November 16, 2019

The BBC reports that the protests are fierce enough to have already led to at least two deaths and multiple injured as demonstrations are active in at least a dozen cities:

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

Iran Reportedly Shoots Down “Foreign Drone” Over Southern Port City Of Mahshahr

Iran Reportedly Shoots Down “Foreign Drone” Over Southern Port City Of Mahshahr

Moments ago, local Iranian news outlets confirmed the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran have shot down a drone from a “foreign country.” 

  • IRANIAN OFFICIAL CONFIRMS DOWNING OF A DRONE BY ARMY, SAYS IT BELONGS TO A FOREIGN COUNTRY – YOUNG JOURNALISTS CLUB
  • COMMANDER OF IRAN ARMY AIR DEFENSE SABAHIFARD SAYS THE DRONE WAS SHOT DOWN “BEFORE REACHING SENSITIVE SITES” OF THE COUNTRY – IRAN FRONT PAGE

The unidentified drone was downed near the port of Bandar-e-Mahshahr on the Gulf coast, ISNA and Tasnim, reported. 


🇮🇷

#Iran : Iranian forces shot down a drone over the port of Mahshahr.
– It is not clear who the drone belonged to.

View image on Twitter

Iran Front Page’s Reza Khaasteh said, “Mahshahr is home to Iran’s Petrochemical Special Economic Zone (Petzone), where a major part of the country’s petchem plants are located.” 

 …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…

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…

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.

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…

The US-Iran Silent War is Transformed Into An “Iraq Uprising”

THE US-IRAN SILENT WAR IS TRANSFORMED INTO AN “IRAQ UPRISING”

The last four days have shown that the ongoing US-Iran war is acutely affecting the whole region. This is now evident in Iraq where more than 105 people have been killed and thousands wounded in the course of demonstrations that engulfed the capital Baghdad and southern Shia cities including Amara, Nasririyeh, Basrah, Najaf and Karbalaa. Similar demonstrations could erupt in Beirut and other Lebanese cities due to the similarity of economic conditions in the two countries. The critical economic situation in the Middle East offers fertile ground for uprisings that lead to general chaos.

Iraq has special status due to its position, since the 2003 US occupation of the country, as both an Iranian and as a US ally. Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi up to now has armed himself with article 8 of the constitution, seeking to keep Iraq as a balancing point between all allies and neighbouring countries, and to prevent Mesopotamia from becoming a battlefield for conflicts between the US and Iran or Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Notwithstanding the efforts of Baghdadi officials, the deterioration of the domestic economic situation in Iraq has pushed the country into a situation comparable to that of those Middle Eastern countries who were hit by the so-called “Arab Spring”. 

Fuelled by real grievances including lack of job opportunities and severe corruption, domestic uprisings were manipulated by hostile foreign manipulation for purposes of regime change; these efforts have been ongoing in Syria since 2011. Baghdad believes that foreign and regional countries took advantage of the justified demands of the population to implement their own agenda, with disastrous consequences for the countries in question.

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

Three Saudi Brigades Annihilated in Devastating Houthi Offensive in Saudi Arabia

Three Saudi Brigades Annihilated in Devastating Houthi Offensive in Saudi Arabia 

Many may have hitherto been led to believe that the Houthis were a ragtag armed force lacking in sophistication. Many, seeing the drone and missile attacks on Saudi oil plants, may have declared it to be a false-flag attack carried out by Riyadh to boost Aramco’s market value; either that or it was an operation carried out by Iran or even Israel. On Saturday September 28, the Houthis put paid to such speculation by confirming what many, like myself, have been writing for months; that is, that the asymmetrical tactics of the Houthis, combined with the conventional capabilities of the Yemeni army, are capable of bringing the Saudi kingdom of Mohammed Bin Salman to its knees.

The Yemeni army’s missile forces are able to carry out highly complex attacks, no doubt as a result of reconnaissance provided by the local Shia population within the Kingdom that is against the House of Saud’s dictatorship. These Houthi sympathisers within Saudi Arabia helped in target identification, carried out reconnaissance within the plants, found the most vulnerable and impactful points, and passed this intelligence on to the Houthis and Yemeni army. These Yemeni forces employed locally produced means to severely degrade Saudi Arabia’s crude-oil-extraction and processing plants. The deadly strikes halved oil production and threatened to continue with other targets if the Saudi-conducted genocide in Yemen did not stop.

On Saturday 29 the Houthis and the Yemeni army conducted an incredible conventional attack lasting three days that began from within Yemen’s borders. The operation would have involved months of intelligence gathering and operational planning. It was a far more complex attack than that conducted against Aramco’s oil facilities.

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

Trump, FDR, and War

Trump, FDR, and War

President Trump’s campaign of “maximum pressure” against Iran reminds me of President Franklin Roosevelt’s similar campaign against Japan prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

After England declared war on Germany, owing to the latter’s invasion of Poland, the American people were overwhelmingly opposed to entry into the war. That was because they recognized that U.S. interventionism into World War I, which cost the lives and limbs of tens of thousands of American soldiers and severely infringed on the liberty of the American people, had accomplished nothing. 

Americans had no interest in doing it again. Their mindsets were similar to those of our American ancestors, whose founding foreign policy was to avoid involvement in Europe’s forever wars. 

In his 1940 campaign for president, Roosevelt told the American people that he was with them in their opposition to foreign wars. He said to them, “I’ve said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.”

The problem is that FDR was lying. In fact, his secret aim was to circumvent the will of the American people and somehow maneuver the United States into the war.

During that time, U.S. presidents were still complying with the provision in the Constitution that prohibits the president from waging war without first securing a declaration of war from Congress. FDR knew, however, that securing such a declaration was impossible, given the overwhelming sentiment against getting involved in another European war.

So, FDR, who is widely recognized as one of the craftiest politicians in U.S. history, began figuring out a way by which he could embroil the nation in the war despite the fierce opposition of the American people.

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

Oil Erases All Saudi-Attack Gains After Iran Sanctions Report

Oil Erases All Saudi-Attack Gains After Iran Sanctions Report

Already helped by reports of a partial Saudi cease-fire with Yemen, oil prices have legged lower – erasing all the price gains since the Saudi-attack – on the back on a Reuters report saying that US offered to remove all Iranian sanctions in exchange for talks.

That’s not going to help the value of the Aramco IPO.

Peak oil in Asia: where will the oil come from for the Asian Century?

Peak oil in Asia: where will the oil come from for the Asian Century?

Asian oil production peaked above 8 mb/d for the period between 2008 and 2016 (with spikes in 2010 and 2015). The 2015 peak was mainly caused by peak oil in China. Since then Asia’s decline  was almost 800 kb/d or 9%.

Asia-Pacific-oil-production_BP-1965_2018
Fig 1: The Asian oil peak lasted 8 years

The rest of Asia peaked already in 2000 (the year Australia peaked) followed by a very modest decline of 1.1% pa. Let’s go through the countries one by one.

In the following, net oil imports are defined as the difference between oil consumption and production. Please see the note at the end of this post.

Indonesia_oil_production_vs_consumption_1965-2018
Fig 2: Indonesia is in terminal production decline since the 1990s
Australia_oil_production_vs_consumption_1965-2018
Fig 3: Australia’s net oil imports
Malaysia_oil_production_vs_consumption_1965-2018
Fig 4: Malaysia is a net importer since 2010
Vietnam_oil_production_vs_consumption_1965-2018
Fig 5: Vietnam’s net imports are increasing fast
Thailand_oil_production_vs_consumption_1965-2018
Fig 6: Thailand was always a net importer

Thailand’s consumption increases faster than production.

India_oil_production_vs_consumption_1965-2018
Fig 7: India’s consumption exceeded 5 mb/d in 2018

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

US To Deploy 200 Troops, Patriot Missile System To Saudi Arabia; Oil Jumps

US To Deploy 200 Troops, Patriot Missile System To Saudi Arabia; Oil Jumps

The Department of Defense has finally revealed some of the details of Trump’s grand deployment or appearance of doing something without doing much and response to the Sept. 14 Saudi Aramco attacks which the administration blamed on Iran.  The Pentagon is set to send 200 personnel and missile defense equipment to Saudi Arabia, specifically a total of one Patriot missile and its support personnel, which further includes Sentinel radars meant to detect any incoming attack, according to a Thursday announcement.

The news was a sufficient catalyst to spike the price of brent crude, which rapidly moved into the green upon news of the Pentagon announcement, after trading in the red all day. 

“This deployment will augment the kingdom’s air and missile defense of critical military and civilian infrastructure,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said. 

He added that this will bolster “an already significant presence of U.S. forces in the region.”

More significant is a potential further deployment on the table of additional troops and two more Patriot batteries and a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD), which would certainly signal escalation against Iran in the region should the plan be approved. 

The US beefing up Saudi air defenses comes also as Riyadh’s current US-supplied systems have come under scrutiny for clearly failing to detect and defend against the Sept. 14 aerial attack.

As The National Interest pointed out:

One thing is clear: The attack revealed the limits of Saudi Arabia’s seemingly sophisticated air-defense system. Riyadh in recent years has spent billions of dollars building up six battalions of U.S.-made Patriot surface-to-air missiles and associated radars. The Patriots didn’t stop the recent attack.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper formally blamed Iran for the attack in statements last week, saying “all indications are that Iran was responsible for the attack” on the two Aramco refineries. 

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