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Saudis Use Orwellian App to Identify Dissidents, Imprisoning Some for Decades

FILE PHOTOS. (Credit: Facebook / @kamnapp; Saudi Media Ministry)

Saudi Arabians are using a mobile app sold by both Apple and Google to snitch on their fellow citizens for dissenting against government authorities. As a result, activists and others are going to prison for more than 30 years in some cases, Business Insider reported on Friday.

On August 16, Saudi national Salma el-Shabab, a PhD student at Leeds University, was sentenced to 34 years in prison for tweets “in support of activists and members of the kingdom’s political opposition in exile,” the report said. Though the posts were made while she was in the UK, el-Shabab was nonetheless reported through the “Kollona Amn” app and immediately arrested upon returning home.

“Every day we wake up to hear news, somebody has been arrested, or somebody has been taken,” Real, a Saudi women’s-rights activist using an alias, told Insider.

Kollona Amn – which roughly translates to “We Are All Security” in Arabic – was launched by the Saudi Interior Ministry in 2017, but the last few years have seen a “dramatic” surge in court cases referencing the app, according to legal-rights activists.

The app “encourages everyday citizens to play the role of police and become active participants in their own repression. Putting the state’s eyes everywhere also creates a pervasive sense of uncertainty – there is always a potential informant in the room or following your social media accounts,” said Noura Aljizawi, a researcher at Citizen Lab, which focuses on threats to free speech online.

The Orwellian nature of the app is such that users often report on people “defensively,” fearing they could face punishment themselves for merely overhearing speech deemed offensive to the regime. In some cases, the app has also been used for “blackmail” and to “settle scores,” Insider noted.

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

Saudi Prince Delivers a Message About the Second Cold War

Saudi Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman (ABS) said this week that OPEC+ may need to cut oil production. This may be necessary, he said, to correct problems in the market because “the paper and physical markets have become increasingly more disconnected.”

This is rhetorical theater. It has no real basis is fact. But that’s not what this is really about.

This is about the second Cold War to create new world order.

In a written statement to Bloomberg, ABS stated,

The paper oil market has fallen into a self-perpetuating vicious circle of very thin liquidity and extreme volatility undermining the market’s essential function of efficient price discovery.
–Abdulaziz bin Salman

It is true that volatility has been extreme since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February, 2022 but that was nearly six months ago. The worst of the volatility ended in April so the timing of ABS’s comments makes little sense based on oil-market technical concerns.

Liquidity and volatility are inversely related. When volatility is high, investors are reluctant to invest in futures contracts. That’s because the price variance is too high to make manage risk. With limited capital flowing in and out of oil markets, it is difficult to convert an asset/contract into cash. High volatility begets low liquidity.

ABS’s distinction between the futures (paper) and physical (spot) markets does not survive the light of day.

Figure 1 shows Brent futures price (red), futures price volatility (blue) and 2021 average price volatility (dashed blue). Both price and price volatility increased after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February of 2022. Volatility decreased in April but has not returned to the pre-invasion 2021 volatility average.

Figure 1. Brent oil-price volatility & futures price both increased with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022. Source: CME, EIA & Labyrinth Consulting Services, Inc.

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

Exclusive: Saudi Arabia doubles second-quarter Russian fuel oil imports for power generation

Exclusive: Saudi Arabia doubles second-quarter Russian fuel oil imports for power generation

RUSSIA-SAUDI/OIL (EXCLUSIVE, PIX)

People walk near power plant number 10 at Saudi Electricity Company’s Central Operation Area, south of Riyadh, April 27, 2012./File Photo

  • This includes content produced in Russia, where the law restricts coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine.
  • Kingdom burns Russian fuel to free up crude for exports
  • Biden travels to ask Riyadh for more oil
  • Russia raises supply to Asia, Africa amid Western sanctions

MOSCOW/LONDON/DUBAI, July 15 (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, more than doubled the amount of Russian fuel oil it imported in the second quarter to feed power stations to meet summer cooling demand and free up the kingdom’s own crude for export, data showed and traders said.

Russia has been selling fuel at discounted prices after international sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine left it with fewer buyers. Moscow calls the war in Ukraine a “special military operation”.

The increased sales of fuel oil, used in power generation, to Saudi Arabia show the challenge that U.S. President Joe Biden faces as his administration seeks to isolate Russia and cut its energy export revenues.

While many countries have banned or discouraged purchases from Russia, China, India and several African and Middle Eastern nations have increased imports.

Biden was on Friday visiting Saudi Arabia and was expected to seek an increase in oil supply to global markets from the kingdom to help to lower oil prices that have aggravated inflation worldwide. read more

There is little spare capacity for Saudi and others to increase production in the short term. Saudi Arabia has also maintained its cooperation with Russia in the alliance of global producers known as OPEC+. The two are the de facto leaders of respectively OPEC and non-OPEC producers in that group.

…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…

After Biden Rehabs MbS’ Image, Saudis Announce Increase In Oil Production Capacity

After Biden Rehabs MbS’ Image, Saudis Announce Increase In Oil Production Capacity

After Joe Biden’s red carpet fist bump with the “pariah” it appears Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman got what he wanted – namely the necessary optics of being deemed “back in” with Washington and having his blood stained reputation rehabilitated on a global stage, signaling that everyone can finally “get over” the heinous murder of Jamal Khashoggi… and now it seems MbS is following through with his part of the quid pro quo, on Saturday announcing the kingdom will increase its oil production capacity to 13 million barrels per day.

Speaking at Saturday’s Jeddah summit of Middle East leaders the day following his closed-door meeting with Biden, MbS stressed investing in fossil energy but according to “clean techniques” – saying at a moment the war in Ukraine and resulting oil supply crisis is on everyone’s minds (or rather the soaring price boomerang in the wake of the West seeking to “punish” Putin), “It’s important to reassure investors that the policies adopted don’t threaten their investments, to avoid discouraging them from investing causing a shortage in energy supplies.”

“The kingdom has announced an increase in its energy capacity to 13 million barrels a day. After that the kingdom will have no further capacity to increase production,” the Saudi ruler unveiled, per Bloomberg.

Saturday Jeddah summit, via Saudi Press Agency (SPA)

With the US administration having provided the ‘wayward’ crown prince a rehabilitating photo op, Biden too now has enough to claim ‘victory’ and return home proclaiming an ease to the supply problem.

Though it remains that not everyone is buying it, even in the mainstream media, with for example The Washington Post, Khashoggi’s former employer, on Friday slamming Biden for the “shameful” fist-bump, writing in a statement that it “projected a level of intimacy and comfort that delivers to MBS the unwarranted redemption he has been desperately seeking.”

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

Is Saudi Oil Production At Capacity?

Is Saudi Oil Production At Capacity?

Use it or lose it – this principle might apply to Saudi Arabia’s oil production capacity that is now eyed by the Western world to fill the Russia-sized gap in supply left behind by embargoes.

However, as Statista’s Katharina Buchholz details below, Saudi Arabia in the past three years only approached its declared maximum production capacity of 12 million barrels per day in one month, casting doubts on the kingdom’s ability to quickly up its production to stabilize world markets. According to Bloomberg, such predictions have come from UAE leadership, who together with the Saudis are the only OPEC members who have spare production capacity – at least on paper.

Infographic: Is Saudi Oil Production at Capacity? | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

Joe Biden is traveling to Saudi Arabia this week and the increase of the global oil supply will be on the top of the agenda for the U.S. president. Up until now, the Gulf kingdom and its OPEC allies have been reluctant to make major changes as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. OPEC stuck to its slow production increases that were scheduled to reverse Covid-era cuts between March and June, and only recently agreed to up production quotas faster in the coming months in the light of the dramatic world market developments. Saudi Arabia’s OPEC production quota for August 2022 stands at 11 million barrels a day – more than it has been in a long time and still a whole million barrels a day below the country’s elusive maximum quota.

As seen in data by the organization, Saudi Arabia has remained below its production quota prior to the Covid-19 epidemic and only once approached its declared maximum production capacity in April 2020 amidst a row with Russia that saw production quotas go out the window…

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

Is Saudi Arabia Exaggerating Its Oil Production Potential?

Is Saudi Arabia Exaggerating Its Oil Production Potential?

  • For years, Saudi Arabia has made some pretty hefty claims about its oil potential.
  • It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that the Kingdom may be stretching the truth a little too far.
  • Analysts are now beginning to doubt that Saudi Arabia even has the reserves it says it has.

For many years now, Saudi Arabia has been wildly exaggerating every metric connected to its oil business, from how much crude it can produce to its level of reserves and everything in between, as analyzed in depth in my first book on the oil sector in 2015 and the latest one in 2021. Why does it lie so much and so often about these figures? Because without the power it has in the world directly associated with its crude oil production, spare capacity, and reserves it has no real power at all, so enormously exaggerating each of these figures is geared towards puffing itself up in terms of its geopolitical importance. The problem Saudi Arabia has right now, however, is that the U.S. and all other developed market countries whose economies are suffering under the weight of ongoing high oil prices are pressuring Riyadh to deliver on these claims, in order to bring these oil prices down. If Saudi Arabia had not been lying all these years about the amount of oil it can produce then it will not have a problem, but it has been, so it does.

To the figures themselves, then, and firstly, Saudi Arabia’s crude oil reserves figures. At the beginning of 1989, Saudi Arabia claimed proven oil reserves of 170 billion barrels, but only a year later, and without the discovery of any major new oil fields, the official reserves estimate had somehow increased by 51.2 percent, to 257 billion barrels…

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

Running on Empty, Part IV

Running on Empty, Part IV

How the War between Russia and Ukraine is Destroying the Petrodollar System

Welcome to Part IV of Running on Empty, my four-part analysis of the Petrodollar system.

Part I of this series explained that the US dollar is the world’s first reserve currency that is not backed by precious metals. Instead it is backed by other people’s oil. Because of a secret treaty between the US and Saudi Arabia, petroleum can only be purchased with dollars. Every country needs oil, so everyone country needs dollars and sells imports to the US to get them. Demand for dollars has made the USD the primary American export, allowing the US to deindustrialize and financialize its economy.

Part II explained how the petrodollar has grossly enriched American asset holders (stocks, bonds, and real estate) and painfully impoverished American wage earners. Under the petrodollar system, dollars are created by private banks for profit. These dollars are recycled into the economy by OPEC nations, causing stocks, bonds, and real estate to rise. This profitable exchange is enforced by American military might, which punishes any country that seeks to exit the petrodollar system.

Part III explained that for the petrodollar system to function, America needs to be able to project power worldwide to secure international trade and enforce the system. America secures global commerce and projects military power by commanding the World Ocean, by which 90% of all goods are trafficked. To overcome America’s naval supremacy, both Russia and China have sought to establish control of the World Island, the Eurasian supercontinent that houses most of the world’s population and resources. The Russo-Ukraine War is a proxy war between the uncontested master of the World Ocean (America) and the would-be masters of the World Island (China and Russa).

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

Running on Empty, Part II

Running on Empty, Part II

How the Petrodollar Poisoned Foreign Policy with Financial Profiteering

Welcome to Part II of Running on Empty, my three-part analysis of the Petrodollar system. Part I of this series explained what the petrodollar system is, how it came to be, and what its financial effects have been on the United States. In Part II, I’ll explain the petrodollar’s implications for foreign policy. In Part III, I’ll show how those implications paved the way for the Russo-Ukraine War, and why that’s causing the system to break down.

America’s Chief Export is the US Dollar

As explained in the previous installment, the petrodollar system is based on an agreement between the US and Saudi Arabia. Under the terms of the deal, the US guarantees the security of Saudi Arabia and in exchange, Saudi Arabia guarantees that all petroleum is sold by OPEC for US dollars, with the US dollars re-invested into America via petrodollar recycling. The result: Since everyone needs petroleum, everyone needs US dollars. Oil replaces gold as the hard backing for the dollar. 1

Since the petrodollar system was put in place, the US has enjoyed a comparative advantage in manufacturing currency that no other nation enjoys. Under conditions of free trade, a country produces and exports more of a good for which it a comparative advantage, and produces less and imports more of the goods for which it doesn’t. And that’s what has happened: Since the petrodollar system was put in place in 1973, America has produced more and more dollars and produced less and less of everything else. The dollar is today our nation’s #1 export.

How large is the circulation of US dollars? As of April 2022, the American money supply, which economists call M2, stands at $21,728 Billion Dollars. M2 includes three types of money:

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

Saudi Arabia warns that the world is running out of energy capacity: ‘I have never seen these things’

Saudi Arabia warns that the world is running out of energy capacity: ‘I have never seen these things’

Russian oil
The EU is planning a complete ban on Russian oil imports. 
iznashih/Getty Images
  • Saudi Oil Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman warned Tuesday that the world is “running out of energy capacity at all levels.”
  • “I am a dinosaur, but I have never seen these things,” he said at a conference.
  • A UAE official also warned that more investment is needed in the energy sector for OPEC+ to deliver sufficient supplies.

The amount of unused capacity that the world can tap to produce more energy products is running out, warned top oil ministers.

Referring to recent price spikes for refined products, Saudi Oil Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said at a Tuesday conference, “I am a dinosaur, but I have never seen these things,” according to Bloomberg.

“The world needs to wake up to an existing reality. The world is running out of energy capacity at all levels,” he added.

Prices for crude oil have surged more than 50% from a year ago to roughly $105 a barrel. But prices for refined products like diesel have soared even higher. In the US, diesel prices are up 78% to $5.50 a gallon, Bloomberg data shows.

The United Arab Emirates’ oil minister said OPEC+ may not be able to deliver on sufficient energy supplies down the line without more investments.

“We’ve been warning about the lack of investment,” Suhail al Mazrouei said in an interview in Abu Dhabi, Bloomberg reported. “That lack of investment is catching up with a lot of countries.”

Mazrouei added that “politicization” of the oil market has pushed supply prices higher.

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

Collapse Is Happening Before Our Eyes

Collapse Is Happening Before Our Eyes

Analysts and authors, myself included, have been warning about the collapse of the dollar as the global reserve currency for years. I described this prospect in my first book, Currency Wars (2011), and in several other books in the years since.

This process can take many years. For example, the decline of sterling as the leading global reserve currency played out over 30 years from 1914 (the beginning of World War I) to 1944 (the Bretton Woods conference).

Still, events today are playing out so quickly that the collapse is happening in front of our eyes.

It’s no longer a matter of a major event on the horizon; it’s occurring in real-time. Russia has just linked the ruble to gold at a rate of 5,000 rubles to one gram of gold. China is discussing with Saudi Arabia the prospect of paying for oil in yuan.

Israel is likewise considering taking yuan in exchange for its high-tech exports. China and Russia are creating new payments systems to avoid U.S. sanctions. You get the point.

Foreign Central Banks Aren’t Dumb

Central banks have been net buyers of physical gold since 2010. Countries all over the world are considering dumping dollars for fear that they will be next on the list to have their dollar assets frozen or seized the way the U.S. seized the dollar-denominated assets of the Central Bank of Russia.

That makes sense. What’s the point of holding dollars in your reserve positions if the U.S. can freeze those accounts on a whim? Americans tend to take dollar strength for granted, but that’s a mistake. It’s helpful at times like this to get a foreign perspective.

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

The Petrodollar Collapse is Here! Disaster for U.S.

The Petrodollar Collapse is Here! Disaster for U.S.

US dollar’s dominance in oil markets may face challenge as Saudis reportedly eye yuan-based sales deal with China

US dollar’s dominance in oil markets may face challenge as Saudis reportedly eye yuan-based sales deal with China

HANGZHOU, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 04: Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) shakes hands with Saudi Arabian Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to the G20 Summit on September 4, 2016 in Hangzhou, China. World leaders are gathering in Hangzhou for the 11th G20 Leaders Summit from September 4 to 5. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Chinese President Xi Jinping. 
Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
  • Saudi Arabia is in talks to sell oil to China and be paid in yuan, according to the Wall Street Journal.
  • For nearly 50 years, the world’s top oil exporter has traded crude exclusively in US dollars.
  • Relations between Saudi Arabia and the US have deteriorated under the Biden administration.

Saudi Arabia is in talks to sell oil to China and be paid in yuan instead of dollars, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

About 80% of global oil sales are done in dollars, and Saudi Arabia has conducted its deals exclusively in the greenback since 1974. So if a Saudi-yuan deal were to be made, it would bolster China’s currency at the expense of the dollar as Beijing looks to challenge US leadership in financial markets.

The likelihood of a potential deal between Saudi Arabia and China has picked up recently, according to the Journal. The longtime Mideast ally has grown unhappy with the US due to the Biden administration’s reluctance to do more in the Yemen civil war and its push to revive the Iran nuclear deal.

In 2020, Biden also promised to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” over the murder of a journalist. And since becoming president, he has made it clear that he doesn’t consider Saudi Arabia as an ally, but rather as a partner.

What’s more, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salam reportedly rejected a request for a call with Biden to discuss Ukraine and boost oil production amid the West’s sanctions against Russia.

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

Saudis, Russians Consider Pausing Oil Production Increases In Retaliation To Biden SPR Release

Saudis, Russians Consider Pausing Oil Production Increases In Retaliation To Biden SPR Release

When commenting on yesterday’s SPR release announcement by the Biden admin and several assorted hanger-on nations – which has backfired spectacularly sending the price of oil soaring now that the rumor can no longer be sold so the news has to be bought in line with every single SPR release in the past…

… we said that not only was the release far to smmal, but that in retaliation for the SPR release, “OPEC could easily consider halting its production hikes to offset the detrimental SPR impact of lower oil prices on the needed recovery in global oil capex, likely justifying such action as prudent in the face of COVID demand risks.

Well, fast forward just a few hours when moments ago the WSJ reported that the leaders of OPEC+ and the world’s two top oil producers Saudi Arabia and Russia, are considering a pause to their recent efforts to provide the world with more crude, citing to people familiar with those discussions. The move, as expected, is in retaliation to Washington releasing tens of millions of barrels of oil in an effort to lower prices.

As a reminder, OPEC+ is meeting next week to review the long-term deal they reached earlier this year to boost their collective oil output – the deal involves boosting output by 400,000 barrels a day each month through next year, until the group hits its pre-pandemic pumping level and follows a sharp cut in output in 2020 as demand evaporated amid Covid-19 lockdowns.

However, it now appears that OPEC+ may change its mind and not raise output at all; and while Biden is quick to note that oil prices have hovered near multiyear highs, OPEC and other forecasting agencies have struggled to predict demand amid the on-again-off-again nature of Covid-19 restrictions…

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

Biden Targets Another US Pipeline For Shutdown After ‘Begging’ Saudis For More Oil

Biden Targets Another US Pipeline For Shutdown After ‘Begging’ Saudis For More Oil

Despite approval ratings in the toilet, President Biden and his administration are reportedly exploring the closure of yet another pipeline in a bid to shift the US away from fossil fuels and appease environmental activists.

The move – shutting down the Line 5 pipeline which links Superior, WI to Sarnia, Ontario, would cost tens of thousands of US jobs, billions of dollars in economic activity, and further exacerbate energy shortages and price increases hitting lower-income Americans the hardest, according to a Thursday letter from 13 House Republicans led by Rep. Bob Latta

Via the Daily Mail

According to the letter, the closure would affect workers across “Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and the region,” and would place the environment at greater risk “due to additional trucks operating on roadways carrying hazardous materials.”

Line 5 is part of a network of oil pipes which move approximately 540,000 barrels per day from western Canada to Escanaba, Michigan.

“Furthermore, as we enter the winter months and temperatures drop across the Midwest, the termination of Line 5 will undoubtedly further exacerbate shortages and price increases in home heating fuels like natural gas and propane at a time when Americans are already facing rapidly rising energy prices, steep home heating costs, global supply shortages, and skyrocketing gas prices.”

This comes less than two weeks after the White House begged OPEC to increase oil production amid ‘supply issues’ and soaring energy prices.

It also comes after a weekend which started out with US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm scoffing at the notion of increasing domestic oil production…

…and ended on Sunday with her warning that Americans should expect to pay higher costs to heat their homes this winter – telling CNN‘s “State of the Union”:

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

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