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VIPS MEMO: To the President—Avoid Hostilities Over Iranian Fuel Shipment to Venezuela

VIPS MEMO: To the President—Avoid Hostilities Over Iranian Fuel Shipment to Venezuela

The Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) urges Donald Trump to avoid the slippery slope toward armed conflict as an Iranian oil tanker nears Venezuela on Sunday.

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Avoiding Hostilities Over Iranian Fuel Shipment to Venezuela

Mr. President:

Recent U.S. rhetoric and actions against Venezuela — most immediately regarding Iran’s shipping of gasoline desperately needed during the pandemic — puts the U.S. at risk of an outbreak of dangerous and almost certainly counterproductive hostilities, not only in the Caribbean, but also in waters closer to Iran. As five Iranian tankers approach Venezuela, with the first due to arrive Sunday, hardliners in both Washington and Iran would relish a chance to give a bloody nose to the other side, but it may not be that simple. 

While the U.S. can invoke the Monroe Doctrine in Latin America, geography trumps doctrine. True, the U.S. holds the upper hand in the Caribbean. It does not have tactical advantage in the Persian Gulf — despite the formidable amount of U.S. weaponry already deployed in the area. We believe there is a good chance Iran will pick the Gulf as the place to retaliate for any quarantine or more warlike actions off Venezuela.

As former intelligence officers and other national security practitioners with many decades of experience, we understand the frustration your Administration feels as its “maximum pressure” campaign to remove Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro enters its 17th month without much progress. Our purpose is not to defend Maduro, whose economic performance has alienated many and compounded Venezuela’s problems.

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

Iran & Venezuela Hail Victorious ‘Defiance’ Over US As 1st Tanker Is Escorted By Maduro Forces

Iran & Venezuela Hail Victorious ‘Defiance’ Over US As 1st Tanker Is Escorted By Maduro Forces

The first among five Iranian fuel-laden tankers has arrived in gasoline-starved Venezuela amid US threats to intervene against the ‘sanctions-busting’ activity by two official Washington enemies. 

Reuters reports: “The tanker, named Fortune, reached the country’s waters at around 7:40 p.m. local time (1140 GMT) after passing north of the neighboring dual-island Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago, according to vessel tracking data from Refinitiv Eikon.”

Multiple tanker tracking monitoring sites have confirmed the arrival of the ‘Fortune’ off Venezuela’s coast last Saturday.

Maduro’s economy vice president and recently named oil minister celebrated on Twitter:  “The ships from the fraternal Islamic Republic of Iran are now in our exclusive economic zone,” amid broader claims of ‘victory’ on state media. 

And per Reuters“Venezuelan state television showed images of a navy ship and aircraft preparing to meet it.” 

The other trailing tankers are also expected to enter Venezuela’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), or within 200 miles of the coast, in the coming days. 


Camila@camilateleSUR

Venezuela’s Yekuaka PO13 Ocean Patroller rendezvoused with the 1st Iranian tanker “Fortune” at 3pm on Saturday in international waters. This was the moment captured by @madeleintlSUR.

Embedded video

Iran’s IRGC-aligned Tasnim media hailed the safe arrival of the first tanker as “A turning point for Venezuela’s sovereignty and independence,” according to a state media report.

Over the past month Tehran and Caracas have become aggressively vocal in touting their “brotherhood” and joint defiance of Trump administration sanctions, for which US officials have recently threatened response, including the possibility of military intervention against the vessels in the Caribbean. Trump months ago reportedly ordered more Navy ships to the area to crackdown against what was dubbed the Maduro regime’s alleged narcotrafficking.


Iran@Iran

#Photos

First #Iran-flagged tanker Fortune reached the #Venezuela coasts while being escorted by the country’s navy forces

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

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Trump Sanctions Rosneft, Russia’s Largest Oil Company, For Helping Maduro In Venezuela

Trump Sanctions Rosneft, Russia’s Largest Oil Company, For Helping Maduro In Venezuela 

The Trump administration announced significant new sanctions on Tuesday targeting Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil company, for helping Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro circumvent U.S. sanctions. Specifically, the sanction targets Rosneft Trading SA, a unit of Russia’s state-owned oil giant Rosneft, as well as company’s executive Didier Casimiro, over the company’s actions in Venezuela, senior administration official said in call with reporters.

The US accused Rosneft of propping up Venezuela’s oil sector, the admin official said, characterizing the company as the “primary culprit” of a campaign to evade Washington’s pressure campaign on the Maduro regime.

As the US further details, the network of deception sometimes involves transferring oil to new ship before sale, typically to Asia. Occasionally, ships will also change their names, or lie about source of oil. As McClatchy details, “the administration has accused Rosneft of sending tankers to Venezuelan ports without their tracking systems on — a violation of international law and a lifeline from sanctions on Venezuela’s own state-run oil company, PDVSA, that has allowed Maduro to indirectly sell oil to China and India. Officials also said that Rosneft was orchestrating a strategy of transferring Venezuelan oil in international waters for shipment to Asia and West Africa.”

US officials said that sanctions would hit Rosneft unit, as well as Casimiro’s U.S. assets but stand as worldwide prohibition, and warned that the new U.S. sanctions will affect “anyone engaging in activity” with Rosneft Trading S.A.

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

Venezuela collapse: looting, hunger, blackouts

Venezuela collapse: looting, hunger, blackouts

Looted grocery store in San Cristobal, Venezuela

Preface. Venezuela is experiencing a double whammy of drought and low oil prices, which has lead to blackouts and inability to import food, ultimately due to their oil production peaking in 1997.  The same fate awaits the U.S. someday when oil declines.

Related posts:

And Mexico may be the next to collapse, as you can read here.

***

2019. Venezuela’s Water System is Collapsing. New York Times.

In Venezuela, a crumbling economy and the collapse of even basic state infrastructure means water comes irregularly — and drinking it is an increasingly risky gamble. Scientists found that about a million residents were exposed to contaminated supplies. This puts them at risk of contracting waterborne viruses that could sicken them and threatens the lives of children and the most vulnerable.

The risks posed by poor water quality are particularly threatening for a population weakened by food and medication shortages. 

Electrical breakdowns and lack of maintenance have gradually stripped the city’s complex water system to a minimum. Water pumps, treatment plants, chlorine injection stations and entire reservoirs have been abandoned as the state ran out of money and skilled workers

…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…

US Military Surrounding Venezuela With New Deployment In Guyana

US Military Surrounding Venezuela With New Deployment In Guyana

The US military has effectively surrounded Venezuela, ahead of a possible military intervention. 

We’ve reported in the past that the Pentagon is jointly working with Colombia, Brazil and other regional partners on how to crush Venezuela’s economy so that President Nicolás Maduro would step down. 

Now there’s a new report that the US military has been deployed to the impoverished South American nation of Guyana, the first time in a decade. The country is located on South America’s North Atlantic coast and borders Venezuela to the West. 

The four-month-long deployment, led by the US Air Force, is called New Horizons humanitarian outreach – is intended to serve as “a stepping-stone toward a prolonged relationship” with the Guyana military forces, reported Military.com.


Strengthening Partnerships: @USAirForce #Airmen & @ForceGuyana members build a community center during #NewHorizons19 in #Guyana. The 3-month exercise trains U.S. military civil engineers & medical personnel as they provide care & services to local communities. #EnduringPromise8911:34 AM – Jun 13, 2019


The Air Force hopes relationships with the country can firmly develop amid the increasing influence of Russia and China in the region. 

Guyana is going to become a larger player in this region, both economically and politically in the future, so it’s important that we are closely tied with them,” said 12th Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Andrew Croft in an interview.

“What we leave is an enduring, physical presence in addition to the partnerships that we build,” Croft boasted, citing medical facilities and schools built in 1997 that are still being used today.

The latest deployment is about 600 US military service members. Their purpose, as per Military.com, will be to construct community centers and a women’s shelter. 

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

A Society Is Only As Free As Its Most Troublesome Political Dissident

A Society Is Only As Free As Its Most Troublesome Political Dissident

You wouldn’t know it from any western mass media reporting as of this writing, but musician Roger Waters is about to perform the iconic Pink Floyd song “Wish You Were Here” in front of the office of British Home Secretary Priti Patel in order to draw attention to the persecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Earlier this year, billionaire Richard Branson staged a “Live Aid”-stye concert in Colombia near the Venezuela border with the purported goal of helping the Venezuelan people. In reality the stunt was nothing other than a ploy to advance the entirely false narratives that President Maduro was blockading bridges and turning away all foreign aid, and the funds raised ended up being embezzledby the Trump-backed regime change opposition group led by US puppet Juan Guaido. The British mass media, however, went absolutely bananas over the story. Each word in this sentence ishyperlinked to a different story about the concert from mass media outlets in the UK alone. And that was a concert on the other side of the planet, while the Assange event is happening right in London, in front of the office of a prominent British official, featuring one of the greatest British rock musicians of all time.

This discrepancy tells you everything you need to know about the so-called “free press” in western society, and indeed about western society itself.

This discrepancy tells you everything you need to know about the so-called “free press” in western society, and indeed about western society itself.

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

Trump’s Blockade Begins: Venezuela Says Food Shipment Blocked In Panama Canal

Trump’s Blockade Begins: Venezuela Says Food Shipment Blocked In Panama Canal

Venezuela’s Vice President Delcy Rodriguez has denounced what state media is describing as a ship seizure by the US in the Panama Canal Wednesday.

The ship is reportedly packed with 25 thousands tons of Soya and was entering the narrow vital central America waterway, when its progress was halted in an event which Maduro government officials have condemned as a “serious aggression” that impedes the country’s “right to food”. 

Panama Canal. Image source: Shutterstock

Though in the initial hours of Wednesday’s allegation major international media outlets had yet to confirm the claim, Rodriguez tweeted a statement, saying, “Venezuela denounces before the world that a boat that holds 25 thousand tons of Soya, for food production in our country, has been seized in the Panama Canal, due to the criminal blockade imposed by Donald Trump.”

“Venezuela calls on the UN to stop this serious aggression by DonaldTrump’s govt against our country, which constitutes a massive violation of the human rights of the entire Venezuelan people, by attempting to impede their right to food,” the vice president added.

Venezuela exige a la ONU detener esta grave agresión del gobierno de @realDonaldTrump contra nuestra Patria que constituye una violacion masiva de los derechos humanos de toda la población venezolana al pretender impedir su derecho a la alimentación.

State media subsequently explained that the undisclosed owner of the vessel was informed by the insurance company that it must cease moving the cargo through the canal.

The serious allegation comes after on Monday President Trump signed an executive order imposing a full economic embargo against Venezuela after a week ago the White House began signaling the US would seek to “quarantine” and fully “blockade” the Maduro regime if the socialist leader doesn’t immediately hand over power of his own accord. 

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

Trump Imposes Total Economic Embargo On Venezuela

Trump Imposes Total Economic Embargo On Venezuela

Late Monday President Trump signed an executive order imposing a full economic embargo against Venezuela after a week ago the White House began signaling it could seek to “quarantine” and fully “blockade” the Maduro regime if the president doesn’t immediately hand over power of his own accord. 

The executive order freezes all government assets in the United States and prohibits all transactions by any Venezuelan officials, in what constitutes the first major expansion of sanctions targeting a nation in the western hemisphere in over three decades. 

File image via Time

The order focuses on human rights abuses and Maduro’s continued “usurpation” of power as necessary to enact the full embargo, and places the Latin American country on par with Cuba, Syria, Iran and North Korea. Though Trump recently signaled he was “bored” with meddling in Venezuela after a failed military coup earlier this year, the executive order is the latest in a string of measures intent on regime change. 

“All property and interests in property of the Government of Venezuela that are in the United States … are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in,” the executive order says. Americans are further prevented from doing business with Venezuela’s government or officials, effective immediately.

Though it falls short of an outright trade embargo, it does dramatically escalate US efforts to force a Maduro exit in favor of US-backed opposition leader and self-proclaimed “interim president” Juan Guaido. 

Via The Wall Street Journal

A recent Bloomberg report also indicated Trump admin discussions have involved the possibility of imposing a complete blockade on the country by sea, enforced by US Navy ships. 

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

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…

What About Venezuela’s Hacked Power Grid?

What About Venezuela’s Hacked Power Grid?

Russia and the US are engaging in tit-for-tat hacking of each others’ power grid, the New York Times is reporting, in what is really a kind of cyber “cold war” where the hackers from each country’s military and intelligence services load electronic “explosives” in the computer systems of critical infrastructure of the other, that in a crisis or war could be “detonated” to create chaos or bring down electric grids.

The Times article, the publication of which President Trump decried in a tweet as “close to treason,” was disturbing for a number or reasons. One was that sources told the Times the hacking by the US Cyber Command of Russia’s power grid had been conducted without the president’s knowledge, for fear that he might act to prevent it or might disclose it.

In other words, an action — the hostile hacking of another rival country’s essential infrastructure, which the US government has warned other nations would be viewed as an “act of war,” is being taken by the US military, without the President’s or Congress’s knowledge!

That should be enough to send shivers down the spine of any sane person. In fact, the that could lead to a US “military response.”

If the Times is correct in both its articles, the current US hacking of Russia’s power grid is evidence of a US military establishment run amok.

Congress should be outraged and calling for immediate hearings to determine the chain of command that allowed this to happen. Either Trump is lying, and knows all about the hacking, or some high-ranking military officers who acted without his knowledge should be fired the way President Truman fired an insubordinate Gen. Douglas McArthur during the Korean War.

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

Canada’s Meddling in Venezuela

Canada’s Meddling in Venezuela

Why does the dominant media pay so much attention to Russian “meddling” in other countries, but little to Canada’s longstanding interference in the political affairs of nations thousands of kilometres from our borders?

The case of Ben Rowswell illustrates the double standard well.

The current Canadian International Council President has been the leading non-governmental advocate of Ottawa’s quest to overthrow Venezuela’s government. In dozens of interviews, op-eds, tweets and ongoing speaking tour the former ambassador has put a liberal gloss on four months of naked imperialism. But, Rowswell has been involved in efforts to oust Nicolas Maduro since 2014 despite repeatedly claiming the president’s violation of the constitution two years ago provoked Ottawa’s recent campaign.

A March 2014 Venezuela Analysis story suggested the early adopter of digital communications was dispatched to Caracas in the hopes of boosting opposition to a government weakened by an economic downturn, the death of its leader and violent protests. Titled “New Ambassador Modernizes Canada’s Hidden Agenda in Venezuela”, the story pointed out that Rowswell immediately set up a new embassy Twitter account, soon followed by another titled SeHablaDDHH (Let’s Talk Human Rights), to rally “the angry middle classes on Twitter.” The article noted that “Rowswell is the best man to encourage such a ‘democratic’ counterrevolution, given his pedigree” in digital and hotspot diplomacy. According to a March 2014 Embassy story titled “Canada dispatches digital diplomacy devotee to Caracas”, just before the Venezuela assignment “Ottawa’s top digital diplomat … helped to establish a communications platform for Iranians and Iranian emigrants to communicate with each other, and occasionally the Canadian government, beyond the reach of that country’s censors.” Previously, Rowswell was chargé d’affaires in Iraq after the 2003 US invasion and headed the NATO Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar during the war there.

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

Shielding the World From US Chaos Is No Easy Task

Shielding the World From US Chaos Is No Easy Task

Donald Trump’s foreign policy relies heavily on putting to use to the tools available to the Empire: economic terrorismthreats of wardiplomatic pressuretrade wars, etc. But in resorting to tried-and-true imperialism, it is isolating itself internationally from traditional allies and raising tensions on the global chessboard to an unprecedented level.

Threats of war against Venezuela, North Korea, Syria and Iran are now repeated on a daily basis. Economic measures involving tariffs or duties, in many ways comparable to declarations of war, are now habitual, whether directed at friends or allies. Iran and Syria are under sanctions, while Pyongyang is even prevented from docking one of its ships in its ports, thereby finding itself de facto placed under US embargo, such as was threatened against Venezuela.

China and Russia are daily fighting to support the multipolar world through diplomatic, economic and sometimes military means, offering to Washington’s enemies some kind of shield with which to withstand the outrageous slings and arrows of the Trump administration. Beijing and Moscow carry out their resistance with an eye to their long-term objectives, given that in the short term their actions will inevitably invite the implacable hostility of Washington and her lackeys.

The fate of the new multipolar world order essentially depends on how well China and Russia will be able weather Washington’s storm. It is naturally in the interests of the rest of the world that the chaos of Washington’s unipolarity will be brought to a close in the least chaotic and destructive manner.

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

Iran, Venezuela and the Throes of Empire

Iran, Venezuela and the Throes of Empire

Illustration by Nathaniel St. Clair

With the Trump administration threatening war against Iran and Venezuela, the question of how the U.S. was brought to this point needs to be considered. To argue that current circumstances are particular to this administration is to overlook U.S. history vis-a-vis both Iran and Venezuela and that between them they possess a material proportion of the world’s proved oil reserves (graph below). In 2019, the pretense that local provocations explain anything beyond domestic political posturing is absurd.

However, domestic political considerations do explain threats of war to a greater degree than should rationally be the case. Removing Americans from the risks of wars the U.S. starts has produced a form of technological nihilism. Just because technology can be used to kill large numbers of people without risk to self doesn’t mean that it should be. Combined with economic motives for launching wars, death, destruction and misery have become just another business opportunity. At this point in history, war is what America does.

More insidiously, and admitted into evidence that the national Democrats just aren’t very politically astute, two- and one-half years into a soft coup staged by key members of the surveillance and warfare states and national Democrats against his administration, Donald Trump now apparently undertsands the domestic political benefits of unhinged militarism. Through a sycophant press predisposed to support any manner of unprovoked slaughter and the myriad business interests that see their stocks rise with the same, war is apparently a good business to be in.

Graph: the American defense industry, in this case aerospace, generally gives more in campaign contributions to Republicans than to Democrats. However, the contributions appear to be tactical. When Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were running for the presidency, the balance of contributions shifted to Democrats. This tactic keeps Democrats ‘competing’ for contributions from people that profit from war. Source: https://www.opensecrets.org.

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

Russia Condemns US “Warships” Off Venezuela’s Coast – Says Coup Attempts Ongoing

Russia Condemns US “Warships” Off Venezuela’s Coast – Says Coup Attempts Ongoing

We might chalk it up to stating the obvious, but by and large the media has moved on from Venezuela, however, the coup plotters in Washington have not. Apparently the Kremlin also wishes to remind the world of this, given its ongoing support to Maduro and his army, and given that the Russian foreign ministry has remained vocal on the issue, announcing this week that “US-backed attempts to stage a coup in Venezuela will continue.” 

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told reporters in Moscow: “We will continue to resist attempts to stage a coup in Venezuela that have been a failure so far. However, these attempts will continue at the US behest,” according to TASS. This was followed with similar statements Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Thursday condemning the presence of American “warships” off Venezuela. She specifically identified a US Coast Guard ship as having been spotted 20 kilometers off the Venezuelan port of La Guaira. “This activity only aggravates the situation and does not contribute to the strengthening of trust,” she said.Illustrative file photo, via the AP

She also repeated Moscow’s condemnation of ongoing externally backed illegal coup attempts: “At the same time, the radical opposition has initiated negotiations with the Southern Command of the US Armed Forces to overthrow the legitimate government,” she said in reference to the Juan Guido led opposition. 

The foreign ministry further slammed last week’s hostile takeover by D.C. police and US Secret Service of the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington after a handful of activists had been living there at the request of the Maduro government to safeguard it from opposition takeover. “This is a gross violation of Article 22 and Article 45 of the Vienna Convention in regards to ensuring the protection of the diplomatic mission,” Zakharova stated.

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

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