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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.

The Geopolitical Game That Could Transform Gas Markets

The Geopolitical Game That Could Transform Gas Markets

  • An apparent detente between the UAE and Turkey could be one of the most significant geopolitical developments in the region for decades
  • If Mohammed bin Zayed can succeed in exploiting Turkey’s economic crisis, the East Mediterranean natural gas fields could finally be exploited and sent to market
  • While this is a win-win situation for the UAE, it is unclear whether Erdogan will be willing to do what is necessary to ensure progress in the region

At a time when media and financial analysts are fully focused on oil futures, natural gas markets are moving again. East Mediterranean gas futures, in particular, seem to be looking up due to some ongoing regional developments. The unexpected but very successful visit of Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed to Turkey and Egypt may well have long-lasting consequences in the region. The multibillion agreements signed between Turkey and the UAE, especially the long-term investment agreements between the Turkish sovereign wealth fund and UAE corporations, such as Abu Dhabi Ports, seem to be an opening to a new era of cooperation in the region.

The overall optimism shown in Turkish and Abu Dhabi-based media sources, however, should be taken with a grain of salt as financial deals may not counter the ongoing power struggle between Turkey’s president Erdogan and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed. Both nations are supporting political, military, and economic power projects in the East Mediterranean and MENA regions designed to increase their influence. Turkey’s president Erdogan will see the first visit of MBZ in 12 years as a major triumph. His regional power plays are still a bone of contention in Abu Dhabi, Cairo, and Athens. While Turkish media sources are very optimistic about the perceived thaw in relations, other regional players have been watching with anticipation to understand the real outcome of the meetings.

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

Emirati-Flagged Ship Seized By Iran In Strait Of Hormuz On Suspicion Of Smuggling Diesel

Emirati-Flagged Ship Seized By Iran In Strait Of Hormuz On Suspicion Of Smuggling Diesel

Following reports that it’s planning to release a UK-flagged oil tanker that it seized two months ago, Iran has reportedly seized a UAE-flagged vessel in the Strait of Hormuz on Monday and detained its 11-member crew.

The IRGC, which was responsible for seizing the vessel, accused it of smuggling diesel. The ship was reportedly carrying 250,000 liters of diesel when it was captured, along with 30 handheld flares, which are sometimes used for facilitating clandestine transfers at sea.

The ship’s crew are reportedly being held in the coastal city of Bandar Lengeh, though it’s unclear where their ship is being held.

“The ship was seized nearly 20 miles to the east of Greater Tunb with 11 seamen onboard while heading to the Arab United Emirate,” IRGC general Ali Azmaei told Iranian media.

The capture was initially reported by Iran’s FARS news agency, according to a tweet by Al Arabiya, a Saudi news organization.


وكالة فارس الإيرانية تنقل عن الحرس الثوري احتجاز سفينة بذريعة “تهريب الديزل” #العربية_عاجل https://www.alarabiya.net


Amid all the drama at home, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani traveled to Ankara for a meeting with the presidents of Turkey and Russia on Monday.

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

US Joins Secret Talks Between Israel and UAE Targeting Iran

US Joins Secret Talks Between Israel and UAE Targeting Iran

UAE trying to balance regional interests with keeping US happy

Secret talks have been ongoing between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, focused on sharing intelligence against Iran and possibly military cooperation. The talks have progressed to the point that the US is now joining the talks too.

Israel and the UAE have some security ties, but don’t have public relations. That they’re discussing Iran reflects Israel’s long-standing hostility toward Iran, and the UAE’s close proximity to Iran.

While some are presenting the US joining of the talks as proof they are making progress, a lot isn’t understood about what’s going on, and particularly unclear is what the UAE is trying to work out. 

The UAE seems to be trying to balance multiple interests, as they’ve tried to talk to Iran about maritime security in recent days, and seem not to be looking to pick fights with them. That’s in stark contrast to Israel, for whom picking fights with Iran is the centerpiece of decades of foreign policy. 

It’s clear that the UAE has an interest in keeping the US happy, and that probably requires keeping Israel at lease sort of placated in this regard. So while they aren’t trying to start anything against Iran they’re trying to walk the tightrope of balancing both sides to keep everyone satisfied. 

UAE Withdraws From Yemen

UAE Withdraws From Yemen

Christopher Pike for the Crown Prince Court-Abu Dhabi 

A United Arab Emirates decision to withdraw the bulk of its forces from Yemen shines a spotlight on hard realities underlying Middle Eastern geopolitics.

The pullback suggests that the UAE is preparing for the possibility of a US military confrontation with Iran in which the UAE and Saudi Arabia could emerge as prime battlegrounds.

It also reflects long-standing subtle differences in the approaches of Saudi Arabia and the UAE towards Yemen.

It further highlights the UAE’s long-standing concern for its international standing amid mounting criticism of the civilian toll of the war as well as a recognition that the Trump administration’s unquestioning support may not be enough to shield its allies from significant reputational damage.

The withdrawal constitutes a finetuning rather than a reversal of the UAE’s determination to contain Iran and thwart political Islam witness the Emirates’ involvement in the Libyan civil war and support for renegade field marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar as well as its support for the embattled Sudanese military and autocrats like Egyptian general-turned-president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

While the UAE may have withdrawn the bulk of its troops from key regions of Yemen, it leaves behind Emirati-trained local forces that will continue to do its bidding. The withdrawal, moreover, is not 100 percent with the UAE maintaining its Al-Mukalla base for counterterrorism operations.

The UAE’s commitment to assertive policies designed to ensure that the small state can continue to punch above its weight are also evident in its maintenance of a string of military and commercial port facilities in Yemen, on the African shore of the Red Sea, and in the Horn of Africa as well its hard-line towards Qatar and rivalry with Turkey.

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

The Struggle Is The Meaning 318

The Struggle Is The Meaning 318 

There is no conceivable interest of the ordinary people of the Western world being served by the crazed decision of their governments to firmly take the Sunni side in the Sunni/Shia tensions of the Islamic world, and to do so in a fashion which deliberately exacerbates points of armed conflict across the Middle East.

It is even more extraordinary that, in doing so, the West is deliberately forwarding the interests of two nations which have philosophies that are entirely antithetical to the supposed tenets of Western philosophy. Those states are Saudi Arabia, an unrepentant despotism, which promotes and finances a theocratic ideology directly responsible for the major terrorist attacks on the West, and Israel, which is now an openly apartheid state. The USA/Saudi/Israel alliance is underpinned by the identification of a common enemy in Iran and other Shia communities. 

Of course the patent absurdities of the alliance point directly to the fact that the real motive is entirely different; this is all about the financial ties of the 1% and the permanent interest of the military industrial complex and their financiers in stoking the flames of war.

Which is an opportune moment to mention – as I have several times over the years – that if I had to recommend one single book to illuminate your view of the world it would be Imperialism by J A Hobson. His brilliant perception that empire had been a net disbenefit to the ordinary people of both the colonial power and the colonised, with the advantages reaped purely by the military, financial, armaments and political classes, and his groundbreaking methods of proving his thesis, is one of the great works of human thought. Lenin plagiarised Hobson extensively. 

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

The Mysterious “Sabotage” of Saudi Oil Tankers: a Dangerous Moment in Trump’s Escalating Conflict With Iran

The Mysterious “Sabotage” of Saudi Oil Tankers: a Dangerous Moment in Trump’s Escalating Conflict With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s claim that two of its oil tankers have been sabotaged off the coast of the UAE is vague in detail – but could create a crisis that spins out of control and into military action.

Any attack on shipping in or close to the Strait of Hormuz, the 30-mile wide channel at the entrance to the Gulf, is always serious because it is the most important choke point for the international oil trade.

A significant armed action by the US or its allies against Iran would likely provoke Iranian retaliation in the Gulf and elsewhere in the region. Although the US is militarily superior to Iran by a wide margin, the Iranians as a last resort could fire rockets or otherwise attack Saudi and UAE oil facilities. Such apocalyptic events are unlikely – but powerful figures in Washington, such as the national security adviser John Bolton and secretary of state Mike Pompeo, appear prepared to take the risk of a war breaking out.

Bolton has long publicly demanded the overthrow of the Iranian government. “The declared policy of the United States should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran,” he said last year before taking office.

“The behaviour and the objectives of the regime are not going to change and, therefore, the only solution is to change the regime itself.”

Bolton and Pompeo are reported to have used some mortar rounds landing near the US embassy in Baghdad in February as an excuse to get a reluctant Pentagon to prepare a list of military options against Iran. These would include missile and airstrikes, but it is unclear what these would achieve from the US point of view.

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

Tight Oil Markets Could Be About To See A ‘Violent’ Price Spike

Tight Oil Markets Could Be About To See A ‘Violent’ Price Spike

VLCC

Supply disruptions in the Middle East on top of an already tight crude market could send oil prices violently upward, according to Rystad Energy.

Two Saudi Arabian oil tankers were reportedly attacked off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this weekend, sending crude futures sharply up Monday morning.

Commenting on the incident, Bjørnar Tonhaugen, Head of Oil Market Research at Rystad Energy, says:

“In the short term, the perceived risk of supply disruptions from the area will only add to the premium of short-dated oil contracts compared to deferred contracts on the futures curve, which are already trading at a high premium.”

The tightness in prompt supplies is caused by declines in production from Iran and Venezuela, along with ongoing OPEC cuts, outages in Russia owing to the Urals contamination, maintenance in Kazakhstan, plus planned maintenance in the North Sea during the summer months.

“The oil market is reacting today not because the physical market suddenly has lost more oil supplies, but because of risks that the market may lose more oil in the coming weeks and months given the heightened risk of supply disruptions from the critical Persian Gulf region. Raising tensions even higher, news flows suggest the latest incident might be related to the conflict between Iran and the US, which puts the Strait of Hormuz in play,” Tonhaugen said. 

The incident occurred near the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important oil artery. Around 40% of the world’s traded crude oil is transported through the waterway between Iran to the north and UAE/Oman to the south. Approximately 90% of Saudi Arabian crude exports and 75% of Iraqi exports pass through this shipping lane, in addition to all oil exports from Iran, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.

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

OPEC Collapse Likely, Warns Iran’s Oil Minister

OPEC Collapse Likely, Warns Iran’s Oil Minister

Iran has warned that OPEC might “collapse” due to the “unilateral actions” by some of its members, in a clear jab at Saudi Arabia. 

“Iran is a member of OPEC because of its interests, and if other members of OPEC seek to threaten Iran or endanger its interests, Iran will not remain silent,” Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said on Thursday, as quoted by the ministry’s official news agency, SHANA.OPEC headquarters, image via WSJ

Following the US declaring its “maximum pressure” campaign to take Iran crude exports down to zero, and ending the waiver program, Saudi Arabia and its close ally UAE pledged they will maintain appropriate supply for the markets to compensate for the shortfall  in accordance with President Trump’s demands that OPEC do more to curb rising oil prices.

Zanganeh had issued the statements warning of the oil cartel’s collapse on the occasion OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo visit to an oil and gas exhibition in the Iranian capital. Barkindo had sought to assure the Iranians that “OPEC tries to depoliticize oil” by saying at the exhibition, “I have told my colleagues at OPEC that you must leave your passports home when coming to this organization,” according to Reuters

Iran last month also accused Saudi Arabia and its allies of exaggerating their surplus oil capacity, to which the oil minister followed this week by saying “any threat from member states won’t go unanswered.”

Meanwhile the OPEC Secretary-General, in a further attempt to calm fears of an unraveling OPEC, told reporters, “It is impossible to eliminate Iranian oil from the market.” He added, “We have faced troubles in the OPEC in the last 60 years, but we have resolved them by unity.”

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

Amid Internal Investigation Over Leaks to Media, The Centre for American Progress Fires Two Staffers

The logo for the Center for American Progress in seen, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, at their office in Washington. The major liberal policy group is raising the ante on the health care debate with a new plan that builds on Medicare to guarantee coverage for all. Called “Medicare Extra for All,” the proposal to be released Feb. 22, 2018, by the Center for American Progress gives politically energized Democrats more options to achieve a long-sought goal. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
The Center for American Progress office in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 21, 2018. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP

AMID INTERNAL INVESTIGATION OVER LEAKS TO MEDIA, THE CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS FIRES TWO STAFFERS

“He is a consummate team player who will raise whatever concerns he has through proper channels, but at the end of the day, he’s on board with the team.”

One of those fired, Ken Gude, was a senior national security staffer. He worked at CAP since 2003 and previously served as the progressive think tank’s chief of staff. The notion that he would have leaked the exchange just doesn’t square with his time at CAP, said one of the sources close to the situation. “Ken loves CAP and has dedicated 15 years of his life to the organization,” said the source. “He is a consummate team player who will raise whatever concerns he has through proper channels, but at the end of the day, he’s on board with the team.”

A CAP spokesperson acknowledged two employees were fired as a result of the leak investigation, but said that the leak was not the reason they were fired: “We are not going to discuss internal personnel matters, but no one was fired at CAP for leaking or whistleblowing.” Internally, however, multiple members of CAP leadership have used the leak as the leading rationale for the firings in multiple settings, sources said. Gude did not return requests for comment.

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

Leaked U.N. Memo Reveals Saudis Demanded Western Propaganda For $1bn Pledged To Aid Agency

We wonder if the Saudis had never been caught in Jamal Khashoggi’s gruesome murder, would such essential stories and leaks now happening such as the below Guardian report ever see the light of day? On Tuesday The Guardian published select contents of a leaked internal United Nations document detailing a “pay to play” scheme orchestrated by Saudi Arabia.

According to the leaked document, the Saudis demanded that aid groups and humanitarian agencies operating in Yemen provide favorable publicity for Saudi Arabia in return for Riyadh providing close to a billion dollars to fund their efforts. The document identifies $930m given to the aid groups, even as the Saudi-led coalition bombed the very people the donations were supposed to help.

The Guardian report calls the extent of Saudi demands “highly unusual” as part of the requirement for groups to receive aid included floating favorable stories and coverage of “the Saudi humanitarian effort in Yemen” to newspapers like the New York Times and the Guardian  publications specifically named in the internal memo. Thus the nearly $1bn was essentially hush money for the sake of propaganda meant to shield the kingdom from scrutiny over its Yemen actions.

Secretary-General is António Guterres with Saudi FM Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir

The Guardian report described the following of the leaked memo:

The document, entitled Visibility Plan, covers the terms of the 2018 humanitarian budget for Yemen, and shows the extent to which the UN aid agency, Ocha, was put under pressure to accept the PR strings attached to money given both by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The two countries provided nearly one third of the total UN humanitarian budget for Yemen for this year.

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

The Death Toll in Yemen is Five Times Higher Than We Think…How Much Longer Will We Shrug Off Responsibility?

The Death Toll in Yemen is Five Times Higher Than We Think…How Much Longer Will We Shrug Off Responsibility?

Photo Source Felton Davis | CC BY 2.0

One reason Saudi Arabia and its allies are able to avoid a public outcry over their intervention in the war in Yemen, is that the number of people killed in the fighting has been vastly understated. The figure is regularly reported as 10,000 dead in three-and-a-half years, a mysteriously low figure given the ferocity of the conflict.

Now a count by a non-partisan group has produced a study demonstrating 56,000 people have been killed in Yemen since early 2016. The number is increasing by more than 2,000 per month as fighting intensifies around the Red Sea port of Hodeidah. It does not include those dying of malnutrition, or diseases such as cholera.

“We estimate the number killed to be 56,000 civilians and combatants between January 2016 and October 2018,” says Andrea Carboni, who researches Yemen for the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), an independent group formerly associated with the University of Sussex that studies conflicts and is focusing attention on the real casualty level. He told me he expects a total of between 70,000 and 80,000 victims, when he completes research into the casualties, hitherto uncounted, who died between the start of the Saudi-led intervention in the Yemen civil war, in March 2015, and the end of that year.

The oft-cited figure of 10,000 dead comes from a UN official speaking only of civilians in early 2017, and has remained static since. This out of date statistic, drawn from Yemen’s patchy and war-damaged health system, has enabled Saudi Arabia and the UAE – who lead a coalition of states strongly backed by the US, UK and France – to ignore or downplay the loss of life.

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

Petro-States Face Extinction

Petro-States Face Extinction

oil rigs

Petro-states urgently need to begin diversifying their economies, shifting away from oil production, or else they face financial risks in the years ahead.

That conclusion comes from the IEA’s new report, “Outlook for Producer Economies,” which warns that a changing energy system threatens the economies of oil-producing countries. The threat comes in multiple forms, both on the supply side and on the demand side.

Energy efficiency, electric vehicles and other technological changes raise questions about peak demand. Climate regulation also threatens to destroy consumption. On the supply side, U.S. shale could capture a bulk of any demand increase that might have otherwise been met by other oil producers.

These factors pose serious threats to major oil producers, and the IEA focused on six countries: Iraq, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Venezuela. All of those countries are significant oil producers and are overwhelmingly dependent on oil revenues to finance their budgets.

That dependence is a risk during normal cycles. The IEA noted that Iraq saw its oil revenues plunge by 40 percent after the 2014 oil price meltdown, while Venezuela saw revenues fall by 70 percent. “Major swings in hydrocarbon revenue can be deeply destabilising if finances and economies are not resilient,” the report said.

However, the problem of petro-dependence is even worse looking forward, because electric vehicles finally offer a competing alternative to crude oil in the transportation sector, while forthcoming carbon restrictions will accelerate the shift off of fossil fuels. This means the threats in the future are structural, not just cyclical.

In the IEA’s central New Policies Scenario, the crisis facing oil producers may not be particularly acute in the 2020s, as U.S. shale is expected to plateau and the potential for medium-term supply tightness could keep revenues aloft.

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

MSNBC and Daily Beast Feature UAE Lobbyist David Rothkopf With No Disclosure: a Scandalous Media-Wide Practice

UAE lobbyist and consultant David Rothkopf speaks about Saudi Arabia on MSNBC on October 16, 2018.

ON THURSDAY, the Daily Beast published an article about the Saudi/US relationship by David Rothkopf, a long-time member in good standing of the U.S. Foreign Policy elite. Until last year, he was the editor-in-chief of the establishment journal Foreign Policy, named to that position in 2012 when it was owned by the Washington Post. He’s also a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a visiting professor at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. He was previously deputy undersecretary of commerce for international trade policy in the Clinton administration and managing director of Kissinger Associates, the advisory firm founded by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger.

But, unbeknownst to Daily Beast readers consuming his commentary about Saudi Arabia, Rothkopf is something else: a paid lobbyist for the Saudi regime’s close ally, the equally despotic regime of the United Arab Emirates. Last month, Rothkopf formally registered as a foreign agent for the Emiratis.

On September 12, Rothkopf personally signed a contract with the UAE regime to be paid $50,000 every month, for a period of three years, to, among other services, “provide day-to-day advice on the development of messages”; to work on “media projects [and] outreach efforts”; and to “prepare memoranda [and] talking points” for the “Embassy of the United Arab Emirates to develop and support specific programs and initiatives within the United States.”



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U.S. Media Refuses to Inform the Public When Its Commentators and Pundits are Paid Foreign Agents

U.S. Media Refuses to Inform the Public When Its Commentators and Pundits are Paid Foreign Agents

Unbelievably – Rothkopf has the audacity to criticize Trump for having “repeatedly shown great fondness for foreign leaders—even despots and known murderers, human rights abusers and criminals”, while Rothkopf himself is literally a paid agent working to disseminating propaganda for one of the most repressive regimes on the planet, one that does much of the Saudis’ dirty work for it in Washington. And the fact that the Daily Beast makes no disclosure of any of this is what makes this practice – having paid lobbyists and consultants for foreign regimes and corporations masquerade as objective and neutral analysts of the news – such a massive journalistic scandal and fraud.

– From today’s Intercept article: MSNBC and Daily Beast Feature UAE Lobbyist David Rothkopf With No Disclosure: a Scandalous Media-Wide Practice

Much of the American public despises mainstream corporate media, but rather than engage in some self-reflection and admit failure they just complain about Trump. It’s critical we recognize that mass media in the U.S. is very much part of the very same discredited establishment it’s supposed to report on, thus its response to justified criticism is likewise establishment-esque. Blame the readers, blame Trump, blame anyone but themselves.

This is why mass media’s gotten even worse since Trump was elected — not an easy feat. It’s been obsessed with a Russia-Trump collusion tale that appears to be going nowhere, while simultaneously cheering onTrump’s worst instincts such as when he bombs Syria. Moreover, one thing the U.S. media definitely seems to have no interest in doing is disclosing when its commentators and pundits are paid shills for foreign governments, defense contractors and other unmentionable interests.

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

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