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Rabobank: “World War 3? The US Has Crossed A Red Line… But It’s Not The One They Think”

Rabobank: “World War 3? The US Has Crossed A Red Line… But It’s Not The One They Think”

“World War Three!” is trending on social media the day I return to work after two weeks off deliberately not reading any news for once: ironic given my reputation for being bearish about geopolitics. Markets, of course, have failed to react much: Middle-East bourses closed down 2-4% on Sunday, which is not exactly end of the world stuff; WTI futures are up around 3%, again not a real panic; while US 10-year yields were down from 1.94% intraday Thursday to 1.79% as of the Friday close – but the weak US ISM survey (47.2 headline; 46.8 new orders; 45.1 employment) could be to blame for that alone.

You know what? For once the markets are arguably right, albeit for all the wrong reasons. Markets think nothing that happens in the Middle East matters because central banks will have their backs regardlessThat is patent nonsense, even if Ben Bernanke is muttering about not ruling out negative rates and further purchases of “private securities” during the next down-turn. If Iran launched a devastating missile attack on Saudi and UAE oil facilities, and means it this time; or on Tel Aviv and the nuclear reactor at Dimona; if it unleashed a wave of global terrorist attacks and assassinations from sleeper agents – none of those things are made better by a lower cost of borrowing. They aren’t even helped by (not) helicopter money, as Bernanke alludes to. Central banks can and would be funding a lot more defence spending immediately on a helicopter money basis in those scenarios, but much of the world economy would take a hit regardless – most so if the oil complex is hit. Sorry Central banks, but in those kind of scenarios–as Ayatollah Khamenei tweeted to US President Trump right before he then killed Iranian Revolutionary Guards Council head Qassem Suleimani–“You can’t do anything.”

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

2020 Begins With A Bang (Literally)

2020 Begins With A Bang (Literally)

A heck of a lot happened this week

It sure didn’t take long for 2020 to get interesting.

Iran

The biggest development of the new year happened Thursday when the US military assassinated Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s most powerful figure after its Supreme Leader, in a surgical drone strike.

This is an extremely serious action; one that Iran is highly likely to respond forcefully against. As the world anxiously awaits what will happen next, #wwwiii suddenly is a top twitter trend.[Update: since this original publication of this article, the US has conducted further airstrikes on Iranian targets located in Iraq, Bagdad’s ‘Green Zone’ which contains the US Embassy has come under attack, and there are unconfirmed reports that US aircraft have hit Iranian targest in Syria.]

Chris has been furiously processing the news flow on this on an hour-by-hour basis in his latest post on the topic here.

If you want to better understand the context behind the current US-Iran tension as well as breaking developments from last night’s bombing and the likely repercussions, read the post and follow Chris’ updatesin its Comments section.

Gold

On Sunday, Chris released this prediction that gold was poised for a big price move. Sure enough, gold closed the week up $40/ounce, certainly helped today by the geopolitical worries escalating between the US and Iran.

The yellow metal is now up nearly $100/oz from a month ago, and over $200/oz from a year ago.

It seems to be finally emerging from its 7-year slumber. Even the long-beaten mining shares are up nicely over the past year.

The start of a new bull market in the precious metals may indeed be upon us.

WTF?! (What The Fed?!)

The first trading day of the year saw the S&P 500 close at an all-time high, suggesting that Fed liquidity was still driving the show as it did for the entirety of 2019.

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

“We Do Not Seek War,” Says President Who Just Started A War

“We Do Not Seek War,” Says President Who Just Started A War

President Trump has been steadfastly assuring the world that the United States government does not wish to start the war it has already started by assassinating Iran’s top general.

“We are a peace-loving nation and my administration remains firmly committed to establishing peace and harmony among the nations in the world,” Trump said in a speech at his luxury Mar-a-Lago getaway on Friday. “We do not seek war, we do not seek nation-building, we do not seek regime change, but as president I will never hesitate to defend the safety of the American people.”

“We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war,” the president added.

To be clear, in no way is any part of this a thing. Assassinating a nation’s most senior military official, and then claiming that you do not wish to start a war with that nation, is not a thing.

America is at war with Iran currently. What that war will end up looking like is anyone’s guess right now, but there is no question that a war has been initiated. If any nation had assassinated a top US general via airstrike and then openly admitted to it, the US would immediately be at war with that nation. Without question. An extreme military retaliation would be in the works within minutes of the announcement, and the entire political/media class would fully support that retaliation in whatever form it took.

This may come as a surprise to some Americans, but that same principle holds true for other nations as well.

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

War With Iran

War With Iran

Mr. Fish / Truthdig

The assassination by the United States of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, near Baghdad’s airport will ignite widespread retaliatory attacks against U.S. targets from Shiites, who form the majority in Iraq. It will activate Iranian-backed militias and insurgents in Lebanon and Syria and throughout the Middle East. The existing mayhem, violence, failed states and war, the result of nearly two decades of U.S. blunders and miscalculations in the region, will become an even wider and more dangerous conflagration. The consequences are ominous. Not only will the U.S. swiftly find itself under siege in Iraq and perhaps driven out of the country—there is only a paltry force of 5,200 U.S. troops in Iraq, all U.S. citizens in Iraq have been told to leave the country “immediately” and the embassy and consular services have been closed—but the situation could also draw us into a war directly with Iran. The American Empire, it seems, will die not with a whimper but a bang.

The targeting of Soleimani, who was killed by a MQ-9 Reaper drone that fired missiles into his convoy as he was leaving the Baghdad airport, also took the life of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, along with other Iraqi Shiite militia leaders. The strike may temporarily bolster the political fortunes of the two beleaguered architects of the assassination, Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but it is an act of imperial suicide by the United States. There can be no positive outcome. It opens up the possibility of an Armageddon-type scenario relished by the lunatic fringes of the Christian right.

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

Trump’s Point of No Return

Trump’s Point of No Return

When I wrote that the coup against President Trump had morphed into a Civil War, I wasn’t kidding. The sham impeachment created the perfect environment for the Democrats and Republicans to get something definitive from him by playing the House and the Senate off each other.

With the Senate Neocon Occupied Territory the escalation of belligerence since Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed through the impeachment vote has been serious.

First, there was the rider to the NDAA which upped the sanctions on everyone willing to work on Nordstream 2. Then Lindsey Graham pushed the frankly insane DASKA bill through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Pelosi forced her impeachment vote through the House on partisan lines. Then, clearly overstepping her authority, she refused to send the Articles to the Senate hoping to add a more serious charge, like Obstruction of Justice or Treason for laundering Russian money through Deutsche Bank

It is under these circumstances we should view the events in Iraq over the last week, especially the killing of IRGC Quds Forces Commander Qassem Solemaini.

Because I’ve warned from the beginning of this impeachment, Trump was just 17 votes in the Senate away from conviction. And failure on his part to respond to an attack on our troops now or our soil, the embassy in Baghdad, would have been enough to turn that many against him and install Mike Pence.

At the end of the day we are held captive by a minority of power-mad Trotskyites without any capacity for forgiveness or humility. They believe in societal order through the whip and the sword.

Truly Maoist in their thinking, the only political power that exists comes from the barrel of a gun. This is why there has been zero opportunities for diplomacy with Iran.

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

Iraq General Denies Unconfirmed Reports Of “Massive Explosions” At US Military Base In Iraq

Iraq General Denies Unconfirmed Reports Of “Massive Explosions” At US Military Base In Iraq

Update: according to WaPo reported Mustafa Salim the Iraqi 7th division commander has “completely denied” any attack took place:


 · 1h

Breaking: Unconfirmed reports of ballistic missiles hitting largest US military base Ain Al-Assad in #Iraq & massive explosions, via IRGC Telegram channels.

I just called the Iraqi army 7th division commander who is based there, he completely denied it


* * *

All day there was speculation if, when and how Iran would respond to the assassination of Soleimani, and moments ago we may have gotten the answer when NYT reporter Farnaz Fassihi tweeted that there are “Unconfirmed reports of ballistic missiles hitting largest US military base Ain Al-Assad in #Iraq & massive explosions, via IRGC Telegram channels”


Breaking: Unconfirmed reports of ballistic missiles hitting largest US military base Ain Al-Assad in #Iraq & massive explosions, via IRGC Telegram channels.


A similar report came out from reporter Sina Toossi who notes that an Iraqi Twitter has posted a picture of the alleged missile attack on al-Ain base, and notes that Iranian outlet Mehr has also reported massive explosions at the Ain al-Assad military base in Iraq’s Anbar province, the largest US military base in the country.

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

American Oil Workers In Iraq Exiting Country At US Government Request

American Oil Workers In Iraq Exiting Country At US Government Request

Hours after the US drone attack which killed IRGC Quds Force General Qasem Suleimani, the US State Department issued an emergency alert urging all American citizens currently in Iraq to depart the country “immediately” due to “heightened tensions” in the region.

While urging Americans to take the earliest flights out of the country, it also informed citizens they must stay away from the US Embassy in Iraq, after earlier this week the Green Zone compound was stormed by pro-Iranian protesters and the outer walls set on fire. The US Embassy in Baghdad has already suspended all public consular activities.


#Iraq: Due to heightened tensions in Iraq and the region, we urge U.S. citizens to depart Iraq immediately. Due to Iranian-backed militia attacks at the U.S. Embassy compound, all consular operations are suspended. U.S. citizens should not approach the Embassy.


Some European countries have also begun issuing travel alerts for their citizens in Iraq, with the French government informing people to avoid any public or large gatherings, and to stay “prudent and discreet” while also avoiding taking photographs in public venues. 

Additionally, foreign oil workers have begun departing Iraq, with Iraq’s Oil Ministry confirming early Friday that “a number of employees with US citizenship” working for oil companies in the south are readying to depart the country “in response to the request of their government.”

“The ministry asserts that the conditions are normal in oil fields throughout Iraq. Production and export were not affected,” the statement added, underscoring that the request for Americans to evacuate oil fields did not come from Baghdad authorities, but from Washington.

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

4,000 US Troop Surge To Middle East Could Be Imminent Amid Baghdad Chaos

4,000 US Troop Surge To Middle East Could Be Imminent Amid Baghdad Chaos

Three U.S. defense officials told Fox News on Tuesday that the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division’s alert brigade has been given orders to deploy to Kuwait amid the social unrest in Baghdad. 

Even though all supporters of Iran-backed militias have withdrawn from the heavily fortified U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Wednesday, the reinforcement of U.S. troops could be imminent. 

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement on Tuesday that 750 troops are immediately deploying to the Middle East because of the attack on the U.S. embassy. 


The US says it’s sending 750 troops to Iraq after its embassy in Baghdad was stormed by protesters.

Read more: https://aje.io/lw9m2 


Esper said he had authorized the deployment of an infantry battalion from the Immediate Response Force (IRF) of the 82nd Airborne Division.

“This deployment is an appropriate and precautionary action taken in response to increased threat levels against U.S. personnel and facilities, such as we witnessed in Baghdad today,” Esper said in a statement.

Apart from the rapid deployment, the three sources told Fox that approximately 4,000 paratroopers could be deployed to the region in the coming days.

There are 5,000 US troops currently stationed in Iraq supporting local forces, among the more than 60,000 troops positioned in military bases across the Middle East.

President Trump blamed Iran for the attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad in a tweetstorm on Tuesday.

“Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will,” tweeted Trump. “Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible.”

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

Iraq Protestors Storm US Embassy In Baghdad

Iraq Protestors Storm US Embassy In Baghdad

Thousands of Iraqi protestors attacked various parts of the US embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday after US airstrikes killed dozens of Iran-backed Iraqi militia over the weekend. The attack on the embassy has been widely documented on Twitter with videos and pictures showing the destruction.


Protestors are currently breaking into the #US Embassy in #Baghdad, #Iraq. Kata’ib #Hezbollah supporters have managed to break through the first security gate (photo via @thestevennabil) flags can be seen.

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

One freelance journalist recorded the moment when the angry mob chanted, “No, no to America, no, no to Israel” outside of the embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone.


“No, no to America, no, no to Israel.” outside the #US #Embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone. #Iraq


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

Iraqi Militias Vow “Strong Response” To US ‘Occupiers’ Imminent After Airstrikes

Iraqi Militias Vow “Strong Response” To US ‘Occupiers’ Imminent After Airstrikes

After US fighter jets bombed five facilities controlled by the Kataib Hezbollah militia group in Iraq and Syria on Sunday in response to the killing of a U.S. civilian contractor in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base — which in turn killed at least 24 people and injured at least 50 — Iraqi militias are warning a “strong response” is coming

And in another sign that nothing good can come of the bloody tit-for-tat which could escalate into major regional war, the US has managed to make many more enemies than allies with the Sunday airstrikes, starting with Iraqi President Barham Saleh, who slammedthe attack as “unacceptable and considered as an aggressive action and violation of Iraqi sovereignty.”

Iraqi Air Force helicopters at Ain al-Asad airbase in Anbar province, via Reuters.

One of Iraq’s most powerful Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) commanders, Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi (also, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes), put the some 5,000 American troops in Iraq on notice, saying they are preparing a response.

He threatened, according to Reuters:

“The blood of the martyrs will not be in vain and our response will be very tough on the American forces in Iraq.”

Over the weekend and into Monday US forces, mostly based in the country’s north where they’ve been training counter-ISIS Iraqi units, have reportedly tightened security and are on a high level of alert. 

This after a Friday night rocket attack of unknown origin against a US base in Kirkuk which killed a US contractor. The subsequent US bombing raids were based on Washington’s immediate assumption and charge that Kataib Hezbollah or another “Iran-linked” Iraqi militia was behind it

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

Imperial Capital but America-First Nation

Imperial Capital but America-First Nation

Imperial Capital but America-First Nation

Is America still the world’s last superpower with global policing obligations? Or should we shuck off this imperial role and make America, again, in Jeane Kirkpatrick’s phrase, “a normal country in a normal time”?

“Let someone else fight over this long blood-stained sand,” said President Donald Trump in an impassioned defense of his decision to cut ties to the Syrian Kurds, withdraw and end these “endless wars.”

Are our troops in Syria, then, on their way home? Well, not exactly.

Those leaving northern Syria went into Iraq. Other U.S. soldiers will stay in Syria to guard oil wells that we and the Kurds captured in the war with ISIS. Another 150 U.S. troops will remain in al-Tanf to guard Syria’s border with Iraq, at the request of Jordan and Israel.

And 2,000 more U.S. troops are being sent to Saudi Arabia to help defend the kingdom from Iran, which raises a question: Are we coming or going?

In his conflicting statements and actions, Trump seemingly seeks to mollify both sides of our national quarrel:

Is America still the world’s last superpower with global policing obligations? Or should we shuck off this imperial role and make America, again, in Jeane Kirkpatrick’s phrase, “a normal country in a normal time”?

In Middle America, anti-interventionism has carried the day. As Trump says, no declaration at his rallies is more wildly welcomed than his pledge to end our Middle East wars and bring the troops home.

But in this imperial capital, the voice of the interventionist yet prevails. The media, the foreign policy elite, the think tanks, the ethnic lobbies, the Pentagon, the State Department, Capitol Hill, are almost all interventionist, opposed to Trump’s abandonment of the Kurds. Rand Paul may echo Middle America, but Lindsey Graham speaks for the Republican establishment.

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

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…

Lebanon’s President Announces Israeli Attacks Are “Declaration Of War”

Lebanon’s President Announces Israeli Attacks Are “Declaration Of War”

After pro-Iran allies in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq were all hit in suspected Israeli strikes in the space of less than 24 hours, signalling a new aggression out of Tel Aviv and willingness to risk yet another major Middle East war, Arab capitals are now alerting their armed forces to be on a war footing

Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Monday condemned the “Israeli assault on the southern suburbs of Beirut” and told the country’s United Nations Special Coordinator, that the recent spate of drone strikes on Lebanon amount to a “declaration of war”.

banese President Michel Aoun, file image via Reuters.

Especially in Lebanon, where the most powerful military force is not the Army but Shiite paramilitary group Hezbollah, tensions are soaring after Hezbollah media offices in Beirut were targeted by Israeli drones overnight Sunday.


New Video of alleged Israel strikes in east Lebanon ~ an hour ago, targeting Palestinian Group PFLP.

If true, this may be 4th military incident in Lebanon-Syria-Iraq involving Israel in 24 hours. Via @tobiaschneider


A separate Israeli operation the day following reached deep into Lebanon, killing a PFLP-GC leader in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley (a Palestinian paramilitary group). 

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah described the weekend aggression as was the first Israeli attacks inside Lebanon since the devastating month-long 2006 war; however, Israel has yet to claim the Beirut attack.

Global Warming and U.S. National Security Diplomacy

Global Warming and U.S. National Security Diplomacy

Old power station, West Linn, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Control of oil has long been a key aim of U.S. foreign policy. The Paris climate agreements and any other Green programs to reduce the pace of global warming are viewed as threatening the aim of dominating world energy markets by keeping economies dependent on oil under U.S. control. Also blocking U.S. willingness to help stem global warming is the oil industry’s economic and hence political power. Its product is not only energy but also global warming, along with plastic pollution.

This fatal combination of the national security state’s mentality and oil industry lobbying threatens to destroy the planet’s climate. The prospect of raising temperatures and sea levels along the coasts while inland regions suffer drought is viewed simply as collateral damage to the geopolitics of oil. The State Department is reported to have driven out individuals warning about global warming’s negative impact.[1]

The only attempts to restrict oil imports are the new Cold War trade sanctions to isolate Russia, Iran and Venezuela. The aim is to increase foreign dependence on U.S., British and French oil, giving American strategists the power to make other countries “freeze in the dark” if they follow a path diverging from U.S. diplomatic aims.

It was the drive to control the world’s oil trade – and to keep it dollarized – that led the United States to overthrow the Iranian government in 1953, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to invade Iraq in 2013, and most recently for Donald Trump to isolate Iran while backing Saudi Arabia and its Wahabi foreign legion in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Sixty years earlier, in 1953, the CIA and Britain joined to overthrow Iran’s elected President Mohammad Mosaddegh to prevent him from nationalizing the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. A similar strategy explains U.S. attempts at regime change in Venezuela and Russia.

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

Mystery Airstrikes On Iraqi Camp Were Israeli Stealth Jets In “Anti-Iran” Escalation

Mystery Airstrikes On Iraqi Camp Were Israeli Stealth Jets In “Anti-Iran” Escalation

Regional experts had immediately suspected the possibility of an Israeli air raid after a pro-Iranian militia arms depot in Iraq was obliterated during a mysterious attack on July 19, and another reported follow-up attack this past Sunday.

The attack happened around 80 km from the Iranian border and 40 km north-east of Baghdad at Camp Ashraf, former home to the Iranian exile group Mojahedin-e Khalq, but now reportedly in the hands of Iranian intelligence and paramilitaries. 

Speculation was rampant in the days that followed as to the source of the ‘mysterious’ air strikes – or what was also initially reported as a drone strike – however, some pointed the finger at an American operation targeting Iranian militants inside Iraq.

Israeli F-35 stealth fighters. File image: Israeli Defense Forces

But now Israeli and regional media, citing western diplomats, have confirmed it was a nearly unprecedented Israeli operation on Iraqi soil — representing a major escalation and expansion of Israel’s anti-Iran operations. 

Israel reportedly launched a total of two separate air strike operations on the camp using its US-supplied F-35 stealth fighter jets. 

According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz:

Israel has expanded the scope of its anti-Iranian attacks and struck targets in Iraq, the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported Tuesday.

According to the report, which cites anonymous Western diplomats, Israel struck Iranian warehouses storing arms and missiles at Camp Ashraf, north-east of Baghdad, twice in the past month.

On July 19, the base was struck by an Israeli F-35 fighter jet, the sources added. The base was allegedly attacked again on Sunday.

 …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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