Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Oil rulers toy with Armageddon...

Oil rulers toy with Armageddon...By Hossein Askari


The Persian Gulf has every ingredient imaginable for stoking conflicts, revolutions and wars for all eternity. Just recall the long, though still highly partial, list of conflicts that are the region's inheritance (see
Conflict without end, Asia Times Online, October 19, 2012). And don't forget that hardly any of these conflicts are ever reconciled, with the result that about eight out of 10 conflicts are resurrected.

Why is the Persian Gulf so cursed? Although it is the birthplace of Islam, a religion that preaches peace, justice and the unity of humankind, the Persian Gulf has sectarian, tribal and ethnic divides and conflicts that appear timeless and likely to linger until the end of time.

But to our mind what stand out in the region as the fuels for conflicts to come, including Armageddon, are the vast oil and gas wealth under the ground, its highly skewed regional distribution (per capita) and the unimaginable human greed within the region and from much farther afield.

How will the future unfold in the region?Let's start out by stating a number of considerations that we take as almost facts. To begin with, we believe that the Iranian and Saudi regimes will not entertain any talk of pluralism, democratic reform and elected and accountable governments.

The mullahs in Tehran have shown their resolve in the aftermath of their presidential election of 2009. Their brutal crackdowns are etched in the minds of millions in Iran and around the world. More recently, their unashamed support for the criminal actions of their ally Bashar al-Assad in Syria further confirms the fact that they will do anything to stay in power, even if it means complicity with those that commit crimes against humanity.

The mullahs will not accept any significant change in the constitution that erodes the power of the supreme leader, the leader that they put on the perch without popular participation. For legitimacy, the mullahs point to a constitution adopted in the heat of a revolution (with little time for reflection and ability for revision) and Islam. And they have even discarded this constitution and have ruled in ways that contradict basic Islamic teachings.

In contrast, the regime in Riyadh, while even more repressive than the regime in Tehran, co-opts most dissidents with money and indoctrination, not by force - but not when it comes to dealing with their 10-15% Shia population.

The al-Sauds will do whatever is necessary to limit Shia resurgence anywhere and everywhere, especially in the kingdom and in the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC - that is, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates).

In the end, no matter Qatar's protestations, the rest of the GCC will tow the Saudi line in controlling domestic dissent. These family rulers - the al-Sauds in Saudi Arabia, the al-Sabbahs (Kuwait), the al-Thanis (Qatar), the al-Nahyans (Abu Dhabi) and the al-Maktoums (Dubai) in the UAE, the al-Khalifas (Bahrain), and the al-Saids (Oman) - will not support peaceful transition to constitutional monarchies.

Although the al-Sabbahs (and possibly others) may be disposed to such a transition, the al-Sauds will not tolerate such a change on their doorstep as they see it as an existential threat to the survival of their own absolute rule. Similarly, the al-Sauds will not tolerate any concessions to the Shia majority in Bahrain as it might encourage Shia in Saudi Arabia to fight for their rights.

In support of their goals and policies, the al-Sauds will push for a "stronger" union of the GCC with them at the helm and with financial largesse for the financially less fortunate members of the GCC. The rest of the GCC, with the possible exception of Qatar, will tow the Saudi line and try their best to stay out of the limelight and not be involved in conflict.

In Iraq, the Shia community is destined to rule but conflicts over the division of oil revenues with Kurds and Arab Sunnis will translate to a siege mentality with discrimination and conflict for the foreseeable future. Reconciliation will be difficult after so many years of brutal Ba'athist rule. However, without reconciliation, internal insurgency will continue for the foreseeable future and keep the regime preoccupied.

Turning to the role of the United States, it is safe to say that it has learned nothing from the overthrow of the Shah in Iran or from the more recent overthrow of dictators in the Arab Spring. The US, no matter what it professes, will continue to look the other way in support of its favorite dictators until the bitter end in the name of "stability" and the "free flow of oil".

It will not stray from this policy as long as dictators buy US arms, import other goods and services from the US, finance US government debt, maintain significant deposits in the US and award contracts to US public relations firms and influential lobbyists.

It continues to sell arms to Saudi Arabia even though Saudi Arabia pushes for, and supports, the al-Khalifas' brutal tactics (in our view constituting crimes against humanity) to suppress the peaceful demonstrations of its Shia citizens who make up more than 65% of its population.

Even worse, the US has sold arms to Bahrain to crack down on dissent in the aftermath of these events while simultaneously professing democratic reforms and human rights for the region. It is almost unbelievable that the US can do all this with a straight face and believe that the region does not see through such blatant duplicity. And when it comes to Israel, the US will blindly do as Israeli leaders ask, even though it may turn out to be harmful for Israel, for the US and for the region.

On this basis and given our depiction of the region in previous articles and the region's simmering conflicts, where will we go from here over the decades to come?

Let's look at the easy item first - the global oil and gas market.

When it comes to the world oil and gas market, we believe that the position of the Persian Gulf region will go through a fundamental transformation. First, we, unlike analysts, do not see the region's global oil market importance (market share) increasing significantly in the coming years. We believe that:

  • Unconventional oil and oil from the Arctic and very deep sea finds will make important contributions to supply;
  • Oil demand will not grow as fast as most expect because of the much slower global economic growth that will be a part of the landscape for years and more conservation, especially in the US and in most emerging markets where the biggest growth in demand has been expected;
  • The relative contribution of natural gas, even in transportation, will continue to increase;
  • Shale gas will steadily become a major fuel source worldwide; and renewable energy will make a bigger contribution than most project, with solar becoming increasingly competitive as the price of solar panels continue to plunge.

    As important, we think that Saudi Arabia's significance in the global oil market is today at about its peak and it will start to decline as the country's domestic oil consumption continues to increase rapidly, its production capacity is at its limit and the production of others in the Persian Gulf increases.

    Although Iraq will continue to be besieged by insurgency and instability, we believe that corrupt officials, looking out for their own quick financial gains after years of Ba'athist rule, will offer increasingly attractive terms to international oil companies and investors that will boost its production capacity and enhance its proven reserves well beyond the 200 billion barrel level and approaching Saudi Arabia's level of reserves.

    In Iran we expect a major boost to Iran's natural gas output (and a significant increase in oil output capacity), destined for domestic consumption and export, especially to Europe and Southwest Asia. Still, oil price shocks may become even more pronounced because of increasingly unpopular Persian Gulf governments, US support for oppressive rulers and the resulting conflicts and insurgencies.

    Regionally, we believe that the al-Sauds will entertain an enlarged GCC that includes Jordan and Morocco. The al-Sauds, as we have said above, will push for a more unified GCC under their stewardship, with unified military, intelligence services, foreign policy, religious affairs (ie towards Shia Muslims), and currency (single or common), with Saudi fiscal support for Bahrain and Oman and with more financial assistance from Abu Dhabi for the poorer members of the UAE.

    Simultaneously, Saudi Arabia will step up its support of Iraqi Sunnis and Lebanese Sunnis and Christians (in opposition to Iranian backed Shia under the umbrella of Hezbollah).

    Iran and Iraq will have little choice but to respond to what they would see and brand as Saudi aggression, annexation and expansionism. 
  • Iran will accuse Saudi Arabia of essentially annexing Bahrain (trampling on Iran's historic claim to the island) and the UAE (similarly trampling on Iranian claims to parts of the federation), and stoking up insurgencies in the region and in southwestern Iran among its Arab population.

    Iraq will accuse Saudi Arabia for interference in its domestic affairs by fueling its domestic insurgencies among its Sunni tribes. Iran and Iraq will announce a Shia Union. They will launch a joint invasion of Kuwait and annex it all. The US will be powerless to retaliate.

    Although the US will continue to be financially strapped and Saudi Arabia and the rest of the GCC will offer to foot the bill, the US will not want to risk a fight with a potentially nuclear-armed Iran (see below) and will not have the stomach to simultaneously take on and fight Iran and Iraq.

    The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the US will publicly threaten Iran and Iraq and demand that they withdraw from Kuwait, but in private discussions they will tell the Shia coalition that they can keep Kuwait but must not cross over into Saudi Arabia or any other part of what remains as the GCC. This will become the red line for a financially weakened US.

    All this does not mean that internal revolt will diminish in any of these countries. In fact, we expect the opposite. Demonstrations against rulers will become even more pronounced, with resulting disruptions in the flow of oil and oil price shocks. The gap between rulers and their cronies who support them and the average citizen will continue to widen.

    Rulers and regime insiders will live in luxury, while the average citizen in Iran, Iraq and even Saudi Arabia will suffer from economic deprivation. Unemployment will continue to be high in Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia with limited opportunities for advancement. These three big Persian Gulf countries will have large inefficient public sectors, depleting oil reserves and wasted foreign financial reserves accumulated in the "good times". The population at large will be faced with a bleak future.

    Political repression will go hand in hand with economic deprivation in the three big countries, while countries such as Egypt and Tunisia will make slow but steady progress, in fits and starts, towards political participation and liberalization. The citizens of the Persian Gulf will become increasingly aware of their deprivation and the support of foreigners for their corrupt rulers, further fueling insurgencies.

    Rulers will follow the lead of the US and brand anyone and everyone who fights for human rights as "Islamists" and "terrorists". Resentment towards rulers and the West will increase to new highs with more popular rebellion and military crackdowns. While Egyptians will continue to be more concerned with economic justice and prosperity, the citizens of the Persian Gulf will be as concerned with political rights and participation.

    In parallel, we believe that Iran will complete its enrichment cycle to the point that it could develop a bomb, if needed, in less than three months (becoming another Japan as far as enrichment and nuclear weapons are concerned). The Iranian people have been, and will continue to be, behind this policy because of the world's support of Saddam Hussein in the aftermath of his invasion of Iran and the West's shameful export of weapons of mass destruction to Iraq used in its war with Iran, killing and maiming thousands of Iranians.

    At the same time, we expect that in time it will be revealed that Saudi Arabia has already purchased five nuclear warheads from an "unconfirmed" country, rumored to be Pakistan, for an estimated US$20 billion. With its previously confirmed acquisition of Chinese long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, Saudi Arabia overnight becomes a threat to Iran, Iraq and Israel. Egypt and Turkey accelerate their plans to acquire nuclear warheads.

    In retrospect, US reluctance to force an end to expansion of Israeli settlements into the West Bank and to push for a totally verifiable nuclear-free Middle East will be seen as the most shortsighted and greatest policy blunder of all time.

    As events unfold, all observers will question what good nuclear arms have done for Israel? Israel had always enjoyed conventional military superiority and US support. Israel's nuclear arsenal will be seen as only encouraging others to acquire similar weapons and pose an existential threat to Israel.

    Although we may be tempted to continue and speculate on how this will play out, it is better that we stop this line of speculation here. We would just add one thing. Yes, a disenfranchised nut could rule in Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Turkey,and Saudi Arabia or in Israel. And nuts with a nuclear bomb are a bad mix, at any time and anywhere.

    Can the political, economic and energy outlook for the region be very different the one we have described above? Yes, but it will take a lot on a number of fronts, especially on the part of international non-government organizations, the US, China, Russia and the UN Security Council.

    Essentially, what is required is a broad-based initiative that promotes regional peace, economic justice, economic development and growth in the region, encourages good institutions and political liberalization, and forces the US, the rest of the West, China and Russia to take a longer-term policy approach to the region and give more credence to what they espouse.

    Let's briefly elaborate on what will be seen as naive and wishful thinking by any realist.

  • Increase the price of all acts of aggression, political crimes, human rights abuses, plunder of national wealth, and more.
  • The UN Security Council guarantees the borders of each and every country in the region. All acts of intrastate aggression are treated fairly and justly at the Security Council.
  • If the US truly wants to practice what it preaches, it should join the International Criminal Court and expand the court's reach, powers and effectiveness; intrastate and interstate crimes - the price to be paid for aggression - can be best reduced through support for the ICC.
  • International NGOs, along with Western governments, should expose the egregious acts of Persian Gulf rulers and their wrongfully acquired wealth (and that of their cronies). This should be much easier in an increasingly wired world. Rulers, without exception, must be convinced that they will be prosecuted at the ICC for their crimes with all illegally acquired wealth clawed back to their country, thus reducing the incentives for autocratic rule and plunder. NGOs, international institutions and Western governments should publicize the fact that oil belongs to the people and that elected accountable governments should be transparent and manage it a way to benefit members of all generations equitably and equally.
  • The rest of the world can further support this transition to better governance and peace by placing a total embargo of weapons to the region. The US could push Israel to accept a nuclear-free Middle East. Yes, the drift towards the apocalypse could be avoided but it will take unprecedented vision, statesmanship and international cooperation. It is not the availability of oil at a reasonable price that matters, it is the survival of humanity that's at stake.
  • Friday, October 26, 2012

    Russia to be an “efficient balancer” in Asia...

    It is a pity that I can’t recount the free-wheeling, scintillating discussions with the Russian intelligentsia and political elites through the past four days in St. Petersburg and Moscow — because of Chatham House rules. Anyway, I am speechless every time I come here — how much this country has changed since I first lived and worked here in 1975. 
    I seldom heard a kind word about Vladimir Putin in all these 4 days so far. Our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should consider himself an extraordinarily lucky man in comparison. Russians are simply reveling in the seamless freedom of expression they currently enjoy, which, when combined with their compulsively brooding nature and their tendency to be self-deprecatory, can inebriate the power of reasoning at times. The “discontent of democracy”?
    However, today in Moscow the Chatham House rules were mercifully lifted for a scintillating 2-hour conversation we held — a 50-member group of “Russia watchers” drawn from Europe and the United States, plus China, Japan, India and Iran (including three former prime ministers and one defence minister and a top communist party official) — today with Alexey Pushkov, chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of Russia’s State Duma (Parliament). 
    Pushkov is known to be close to President Vladimir Putin and is an authoritative voice on Russian foreign policy. He is a many-splendoured personality — professor, strategic analyst, journalist and today a politician. In the Russian system, his current position gives him a prominent role in the foreign policy establishment. (We hope to be received by Putin.)    
    Pushkov confirmed a trend which I began noticing from Day 1 as soon as I came, namely, that notwithstanding the rhetoric from Moscow, Russia’s heart and soul is still with the West, while the East becomes a mere occasional affair, a highly selective engagement. Much of the angst reminds me of a jilted lover — something we all have gone through sometime or the other in our tumultuous life.
    Actually, Pushkov devoted almost three-quarters of his talk to Russia’s relations with the West, United States in particular. 
    It was left to a prominent Iranian member of parliament (who is also a member of the Majlis’ consultative committee on foreign and security policies) in our group to gently point out toward the end that Pushkov didn’t say anything about the SCO or the Arab Spring — and, unsurprisingly,  it was my turn to elicit Pushkov’s views on Russia’s tryst with Asia. Out of old habit, I kept a verbatim account, which I summarize below:
    *** Russian foreign policy in the post-Soviet era has always been about the West. “But a limit has been reached for both sides.” Russia’s admission to the two most important western institutions — NATO and EU — is not going to be possible. Russia is unwilling to concede its sovereignty and in any case the “returns” for doing so aren’t commensurate. There are no “incentives” for Russia to rethink. 
    ***Russia came close to considering membership of NATO, but it is clear that neither side will gain out of Russia’s accession. It is a closed chapter now. 
    *** As for EU, Russia has strengthened its European identity and is already part of the European economic space. But Russia is not a part of “political Europe” or the “military-political Europe”. Simply put, Russia has a different political culture and there is a huge ideological difference between Russia and the EU countries. 
    *** Russia’s problem is quintessentially that “there is nowhere to go East”, either. There could possibly be an economic dimension to Russia’s ties with the East, but “much less” is there in the East in political or military terms. Besides, China with which Russia has close relations has a “relatively free hand” in Asia and, therefore, Russia has settled for bilateral relationship. Neither Russia nor China wants a military alliance to counter NATO; at any rate, such a (Sino-Russian) alliance is neither desirable nor is conceivable. 
    *** So, at the end of the day, it is all economics with the East — oil, gas, etc. 
    *** Against this backdrop, a consensus has appeared in Russia that it has no need to go anywhere, and should rather stay put where it is. Eurasia is Russia’s “natural habitat”. Also, major military potentials are concentrated in Eurasia: US also happens to be a Eurasian power thanks to its alliances with countries like Pakistan or South Korea; most of the conflicts today are on the peripheries of Eurasia, such as Afghanistan and Pakistan. Thus, Eurasia is vital to Russia’s interests. 
    *** How does Russia approach Eurasia? The formation of a Eurasian Union is the principal idea today. The Customs Union has been the first step and it is proving efficient. A country like Kazakhstan, which knows very well where its interests lie, wouldn’t be espousing the Customs Union without the conviction that the grouping could be greatly beneficial. 
    *** The next step is going to be the Common Economic Space, which forms the backbone of the Eurasian Union. There is a lot of skepticism in the West about the Eurasian Union idea but it doesn’t perturb Russia. All sorts of things have been said about the euro zone or the imminent fall of the dollar, but events proved otherwise; so will be the case with the Eurasian Union. 
    *** The key factor here is that Russia should not press its partners with a political union or common currency. “Those things can wait.” The Eurasian idea should be approached cautiously and convincingly. A lot can be gained in the economic field. 
    *** Besides, Eurasian Union “turns Russia into an independent center of attraction for other countries.” Much depends of course on how well Russia does economically. 
    *** Suffice to say, the western perception that “Russia is going toward the East” or is seeking a confrontation with the West is unwarranted. Russian foreign policy has been largely reactive — except, perhaps, on Syria. It is the West which precipitated the current tensions while Russia has not sought confrontation. The war with Georgia was provoked by the West; Russia didn’t precipitate it. 
    *** The root problem is that the West wants Russia to “make it look like the European countries”, but Russia has its own character, its ideology, customs, etc. An ideological element is always present in the West’s — and the US’ — attitude towards Russia, “which is dangerous”. The objective should be “a decent cooperative relationship” rather than to make Russia “a carbon copy” of the western countries. 
    *** Russia is not prescriptive toward the West. Russia didn’t ask how come George W. Bush won in 2000 or why Ohio today is so terribly important in an apparently nation-wide election. It is up to the US to have its political or electoral system. But the West is needlessly intrusive and Russia cannot accept it. 
    *** Post-Soviet Russia began with a clean slate. There was no desire for another Cold War and on the contrary, Russia had a lot of warmth toward the US in the early 1990s. But the result was disappointing; perhaps, Russia expected too much. “Instead of becoming an ally of the US, Russia became an object of US influence.” 
    *** The eastward expansion of NATO was the defining moment in the evolution of Russia’s foreign policy ideology. Thus, the present ideology — the “ambition to be an independent player” — was borne out of actual experience. It began in the period of Boris Yeltsin circa 1995. The replacement of Sergei Ivanov as FM with Evgeniy Primakov and the choice of Victor Chernomyrdin rather than Gaidar as PM — although they were apparatchiks — it was Yeltsin’s response as a Russian politician who began realizing that the first five years of his presidency “didn’t give the desired results”. 
    *** The core problem is the misunderstanding on the part of the West that Russia will “comply”. Indeed, “Russia has complied on many things, but not all.” Out of this experience this ideology has been born that Russia should be an “independent center of power”. 
    *** Russia is looking for a “balancing role” in Asia. It is no longer a superpower. The Asia-Pacific is becoming “the area” of the 21st century. But it is a hotbed of tensions. Russia fears that an “imbalance can develop” in Asia and “Russia doesn’t want to see a single power dominating Asia.” The role of an “efficient balancer” is what Russia can and should play in Asia. If Russia tries to exceed that role, “there could be misunderstandings.” (This part on Asia was in response to my intervention.) 
    *** With regard to the Arab Spring, Russia has a cautious approach. Russia is opposed to revolutions; it has had enough of revolutions in its history. The Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 was a “historic mistake”. Because of it, “Russia was affected genetically; it was a national tragedy.” Therefore, the revolutions in the Middle East should not be viewed from an ideological perspective. The notion of humanitarian intervention should be definitely reconsidered. And foreign powers “should not take moral sides in civil conflicts.” 

    Thursday, October 18, 2012

    La Suisse, L'Europe et La France, quel contraste saisissant...

    La Suisse, L'Europe et La France, quel contraste saisissant...

    Les Zio-socialistes Français sont au gouvernement pour finir le travail de sape de L'Europe...

    Mais d'abord, « Comment se porte la Suisse, et quel Contraste avec la vieille Europe...? Mais les Suisses n’ont pas le Prix Nobel de la Paix, eux!!! 

    Nous nous rejoignons en toutes choses. J’adore la Suisse et je l’admire pour son excellence. J’y suis le plus souvent possible en toutes saisons (2 mois/an quelquefois plus) perché dans le Valais à 1500 m d’altitude. J’espère y aller plus encore...
    Cela fait plaisir, quant à l’Europe, « elle plonge et elle plongera comme les USA...», on devrait en faire une chanson...
    La Suisse, elle va très bien et elle vous remercie du fond du cœur... Pour être franc, elle ne doit son succès qu’à elle-même parce qu’elle a su garder sa neutralité, c’est-à-dire ; son intelligence, sa liberté (économique aussi), sa créativité, son indépendance, sa démocratie réelle, son rejet des Ziocons, sa culture, son histoire et ses racines. En terres helvétiques, les charges et les impôts sont modérés, les salaires sont bons, le taux de chômage moyen pour l’année 2011 s’établissait au plan national à 2.8% (source : Département fédéral de l’économie-septembre 2012), maîtrise des finances publiques (dette publique 34.9 % du PIB, PAS de déficit public...), balance commerciale excédentaire, mais surtout, les suisses ont gardé leur monnaie et ils sont maîtres de leur politique monétaire. Oui, il y a bien un petit point noir, victime du succès de l’économie helvétique, le franc suisse est naturellement fort et les pauvres touristes européens désargentés renâclent un peu à passer des vacances dans ce pays de cocagne tant ils sont empêtrés avec leur euro faible (et artificiellement soutenu) et leur économie socialisante moribonde...
    Mais ce n’est pas grave, l’échec, on aime ça, en terre d’Europe, nous continuerons à élire les mêmes Zio-Socialo-idiots inutiles, ceux qui se foutent de nous et coulent sans vergogne notre économie. Nous continuerons aussi à regarder la Suisse comme un paradis fiscal honteux, injuste qui favorise les riches et vit de la finance, celle qui dépouille scandaleusement le peuple, vit sur son dos et profite de sa sueur.
    Evidemment la Suisse ce n’est pas ça, c’est même tout le contraire, à dire vrai, elle pourrait nous donner des leçons sur tous les points (comme décrit plus haut !). J’aime tout en Suisse, en Allemagne et je les vois plus comme un modèle dont les crétins qui nous dirigent (pas !) devraient s’inspirer plutôt que de s’attacher à d’éternels schémas utopiques, liberticides et mortifères...
    Comme dirait l’humoriste Lafesse : « Pourvu que ça dure ! »
    Devant un tel désastre de la pensée, je commence à m’interroger solidement sur la santé mentale des hommes et des femmes, en cette période électorale, je me demande si je ne vais pas plutôt voter pour mon berger Allemand, il s’appelle Randy (pas très original !), faites comme moi ! »
    Alors que le Zio- semi-président Hollande a déclaré au journal Le Monde que le pire de la crise de l’euro est passé, la Suisse se prépare à des troubles civils ainsi qu’à des désordres sociaux provoqués par l’effondrement de la zone Euro.
    Il faut rappeler que la Suisse n’est pas un pays à prendre à la légère : Hitler a hésité, puis a finalement renoncé, à envahir la Suisse durant la seconde guerre mondiale, bien que le pays était encerclé par des pays occupés par les Nazis. Les choix stratégiques de l’armée avaient fonctionné.
    L’armée Suisse compte 200.000 hommes très bien entraînés, la plus forte proportion de toute l’Europe par habitant, mais surtout, en cela comparable au Liban, avec sa Resistance populaire armée... , tous les hommes en âge de combattre doivent faire un entraînement militaire de base, ce qui signifie que le pays est capable de mobilier une armée très importante en cas de crise, et que les Suisses aiment leur pays, qui le leur rend fort bien...
    Elle vient de former quatre nouveaux bataillons militaires, et est en passe de déployer ses troupes le long de ses frontières, après que 2000 policiers ont participé avec l’armée à l’opération « Stabilo Due », dans huit villes à travers le pays, basée sur une cartographie détaillée des risques de heurts entre bandes rivales de réfugiés, et pour repousser les débordements qui pourraient venir de Grèce, d’Espagne, de France, d’Italie et du Portugal, pays durement touchés par l’écroulement de la zone euro...
    Le ministre de la défense, Ueli Maurer, accompagné du chef des armées, a déclaré qu’une escalade de la violence est possible. « Je ne peux pas exclure que, dans les années à venir nous pourrions avoir besoin de l’armée », a t-il dit.
    Maurer s’inquiète également du faible niveau militaire européen, au plus bas depuis la guerre froide, une porte ouverte aux insurrections et aux guerres raciales.

    Selon Der Sonntag, le chef de l’armée, André Blattmann, a également déposé une proposition pour le déploiement de 1600 soldats destinés à garder les aéroports, les installations industrielles, et le siège de l’ONU.
    Dans un article intitulé « est-ce que les Suisses savent des choses que les autres ignorent », John R. Schindler, professeur des affaires de sécurité nationale à l’US Naval War College, explique que si la colère des musulmans venait à monter d’un cran par rapport à la rage qu’avait engendré la vidéo YouTube insultant le prophète Mahomet, les immigrants des pays Européens pourraient se soulever.
    Il note également qu’il est difficile de s’imaginer comment les forces militaires Européennes, très restreintes, pourront faire face à des conflits sociaux majeurs. Et les Etats Unis refuseront d’être embarqués dans une action anti-émeute – particulièrement si elle consiste à étouffer un soulèvement musulman.
    En Espagne, où d’importantes émeutes sont récemment intervenues, le taux de chômage des jeunes excède désormais 50%, (25,1% pour la moyenne de la population), les aides sociales ont été fortement réduites, et si un soulèvement est à craindre, il viendra des jeunes.
    Le gouvernement portugais a présenté le budget le plus dur depuis des décennies, avec une hausse d’impôts de près de 4%, et des licenciements massifs dans le secteur public, afin de répondre aux objectifs de l’UE pour le déficit et la dette. 2.000 manifestants se sont rassemblés devant le parlement et une grève générale a été appelée pour le 14 Novembre.
    En Grèce, environ 7000 policiers ont été déployés la semaine dernière pour assurer la sécurité de la chancelière allemande Angela Merkel.
    La crainte du gouvernement Suisse est qu’à ces émeutes se mêlent les jeunes musulmans européens, pour l’instant indifférents aux aspects socio-économiques.
    Quelques jours après la visite d’Angela Merkel, Coca-Cola, le principal investisseur étranger en Grèce, a annoncé qu’il quittait le pays et s’installait en Suisse.
    La Suisse a un taux de chômage de 2,8%, et, constatant avec stupéfaction que les pays européens s’obstinent à ignorer son exemple, et ne semblent pas intéressés à prendre auprès d’elle des conseils dont ils ont plus que besoin, la Suisse donc, considère que ses voisins vont continuer à s’enfoncer, ne voyant aucun d’entre eux prendre les bonnes décisions...
    la Suisse est tout sauf un pays qu’on peut tourner en dérision, sauf à se moquer de meilleur que soi. La Suisse peut donner des leçons et tenir la dragée haute à l’ensemble des pays européens pour l’intelligence de son peuple, l’exemplarité de ses structures, et, pour ceux qui encore attachent encore de la valeur à la réalité, ses résultats. Le gouvernement et le mode de démocratie de la Suisse font que le peuple suisse figure régulièrement dans le top dix des peuples les plus heureux sur terre. Quelque chose a plus de valeur, dans la vie ? 
    Les Suisses sont lucides et intelligents, ils font tout le contraire de ce que fait le « ZIO »
    semi-président Hollande...couilles-molles!!! 
    Le gouvernement Français est parfaitement au courant, car la France sera le détonateur majeur de l'Europe. Tout ceci s’inscrit dans un plan voulu et planifié. Aujourd’hui l'Europe n’est pas légitime au yeux des peuples car non élue. Les intérêts divergents des états-nations ne permettent pas à ce jour des élections directs des peuples à l'échelon européen. Pour avoir une légitimité l’europe doit d’abord détruire les états-nations tels que nous les connaissons et c’est selon moi ce qui se passe en ce moment même. Une fois les états détruits l’europe apparaîtras comme « le sauveur », la solution ultime et la meilleur pour tous. Pour cela il faut créer le chaos dans les esprits des peuples. La désinformation, les règles budgétaires en tout genres, les politiques qui ont l’air de ne rien comprendre, la déstabilisation des institutions (armée, éducation, les acquis sociaux...) et le « multiculturalisme » y contribuent par le fait de monter les gens les uns contre les autres, ce qui a pour résultat le merdier général que tout le monde constate (insécurité, chômage, islamisme, violences, laxisme de la justice etc.…).
    La dislocation voulue des états permet au dirigeants européens de prendre place petit à petit dans la vie des gens et selon moi nous sommes à la phase finale.
    Les peuples européens sont différent les uns des autres, de part leurs histoires. quel est le point commun entre un allemand,un français et un espagnole?? Aucun, leurs vies et donc leurs prismes sur la vie, le monde , la société, sont complètement différents. Pour les rassembler il faut d’abord les détruire (au sens culturel) pour créer une histoire commune, n’est ce pas dans le malheur que l’ont reconnait ses amis?? L’islam est un accélérateur utile... Une fois les états détruits commencera la reconstruction des états unis d’europe par une assemblée constituante qui redéfinira toutes les règles, les lois , les institutions… Les états vaincus ne pourront s’y opposer, il appartiendra au peuples de se faire entendre afin d’avoir une gouvernance conforme à leurs volonté. Des révoltes il y en aura, tant pendant la chute et ce n’est à peine que le début (actuellement), que pendant la reconstruction.
    Personne ne peut savoir combien de temps cela va durer. Mon opinion personnel qui n’engage que moi est qu’en 2017 nous éliront un président européen pour un gouvernement européen, mais ce n’est qu’un avis.
    Les socialistes ont été élu par la volonté des Zios de l’europe n’en déplaise à ceux qui croient encore que le peuple décide....
    Si l’on s’en tient uniquement aux faits, on peut dire que ceux qui gouvernent sont en train de créer une situation de guerre, guerre qu’ils déclencheront le moment voulu, en ayant pris soin de nous mettre dans des conditions telles que nous aurons peu de chance de pouvoir réagir.
    C’est dans la nature suisse la prévoyance à long terme, rien d’étonnant, rien de neuf, imaginez que ce petit état microscopique qui tire sa pitance du commerce, de la banque et de la finance a réussi à rester neutre pendant les deux conflits les plus meurtriers de l’humanité, un exploit en somme avec des voisins comme la France et l’Allemagne, c’est tout à fait stupéfiant..., mais L'Europe, c'est pénible à voir... 
    BRAVO les Suisses!


    We are living through a relative proverbial "calm before the major storm" ...

    We are living through a relative proverbial "calm before the major storm" Circa WWX...?
    The austerity imposed upon Europeans by a political class totally sold out to the USA and international bankers is literally pushing the countries of southern Europe into a social explosion which could very rapidly turn violent.  With a few rare exceptions, the media (mostly owned by banks) is buying time for the bankers by simply ignoring this reality and feeding its clueless audience a steady stream of nonsensical and irrelevant news.  Bottom line: both the Euro and the EU as a political project are dying, the continent is broke and a social explosion inevitable...
    Russia: is stark contrast to the EU, Russia is doing great.  The Russian economy is booming, the Western-sponsored opposition totally discredited, the armed forces are in very good shape and getting even stronger and the economic and social prospects look excellent.  Interestingly, Russian government officials have been very candid about the situation in the EU and they are openly saying that they have taken all the necessary measures to protect the Russian population from the consequences of the inevitable collapse of the EU.  No matter how good things look in Russia now, a collapse of the EU will have negative consequences for the Russian economy and the Kremlin has taken a wide array of measures to prepare for this situation.  Likewise, the Russian military appears to be ready to act should a US/Israeli attack on Iran create a crisis on Russia's southern borders.  Bottom line: Russia is just about as ready as can be for any foreseeable crisis and getting stronger each day...
    China is working side by side with Russia in preparation for an economic collapse of the EU followed by an inevitable collapse of the dollar and the rest of the current international financial system.  There are persistent rumors that both China and Russia are quietly buying large amounts of gold and off-loading dollars.   What is sure is that these two countries are ideal partners to jointly overcome the consequences of the inevitable meltdown of the current international financial system. Unlike Russia, China is very heavily invested in the US market and this is the reason why the Chinese are scrambling to open new markets for their goods in Africa, Latin America and, of course, Russia.  I expect these two countries to continue to work hand in hand on all levels...However, if the international role of the dollar becomes truly threatened, then all bets are off and all options very much on the table...In their typical arrogance, the utterly corrupt Western elites decreed that they had "won the Cold War" instead of realizing that their capitalist system had only been temporarily given a reprieve from its inevitable collapse by the collapse of the Soviet system.  This was a one time thing, however, and now are no more potential markets to flood with US dollars and the entire scheme is about to come tumbling down.
    The corporate media does a truly stellar job of hiding it all from the general population which continues to be fed a constant diet of irrelevant non-news with rosy forecasts about the future.  While Russia and China are clearly bracing themselves for the inevitable crisis, the Western government are putting all their efforts into hiding the facts from their population and delaying the inevitable...
    Could it lead to war? Quite possibly. I still think an attack on Iran would be irrational and that the Pentagon will be dead set against it but nothing can be ruled out...

    I fully expect there to be a military clash between the US and China over the planet's remaining oil reserves at some point in the future but I expect it will be some time before Beijing is ready...

    I also suspect the way the West plundered Russia in the Nineties will go down in history as a strategic mistake of huge proportions putting short term greed against long term interests. China now has a military alliance with the Russians. Had the ZIO-USA thugs treated Russia decently when the Soviet Union collapsed Russia might have become a friend of the United States the way Germany did after the war....

    The Nazis and the Soviets are gone... Washington, the Zio-West and IsraHell are now the greatest threat to humanity...

    I remember that Russians were very friendly towards Americans throughout most of the 1990's. They wanted to emulate the (apparent) success... If the U.S. had offered the equivalent of the post-WWII Marshall Plan to Russia, the latter would now be an American ally...

    In the end, the Zio-Neo-Con and Noe-Liberal hubris, got the better of Washington. Bush peré was a time-serving snobbish, who had no effective control over anything but the intelligence community, so he (and his psychopathic successor Clinton) let the plunderers pillage Russia. That, and Clinton's bombing of Yugoslavia, turned Russia against the West and (I believe) led to the election of Putin...A totally wasted opportunity, courtesy of the near-sighted and utterly corrupt and criminal Anglosphere...

    If the Anglo-American elite had been humble enough and astute enough to make Russia its ally, I think the world would have been much better off, by every measure. As it is, if Putin, Brazil and China can effectively check the reckless course of the Anglo-Americans, that will be the best humanity can currently hope for...

    Tuesday, October 16, 2012

    Bosnia Was Practice for What the CIA Is Now Doing To Syria and Lebanon in the near term...

    Bosnia Was Practice for What the CIA Is Now Doing To Syria and Lebanon in the near term...
    Hundreds of Tribes with Flags in the offing...

    “You know, I was offered by Clinton in April 1993 (after the fall of Cerska and Konjevic Polje) that the Chetnik forces enter Srebrenica, carry out a slaughter of 5,000 Muslims, and then there will be a military intervention.”–President Izetbegovic, Interview with Hakija Meholjic, president of Social Democratic Party for Srebrenica, by Hasan Hadzic.

    [Srebrenica was sacrificed by Bill Clinton and friends in order to create a false flag scenario, which would generate public sympathy for the Bosnian "Islamist" terrorists, just like the current set-up in Syria.  The CIA sets-up Islamist puppets for someone else to brutally knock-down, in order to deceive world opinion into perceiving terrorists as "victims (SEE: Oric is threatening to reveal the truth about Srebrenica)...]

    Monday, October 15, 2012

    China's leadership, leveraging the country's growing economic clout into geopolitical gains....

    China's leadership, leveraging the country's growing economic clout into geopolitical gains....
    China's economic power mightier than the sword...By Brendan O'Reilly

    China is facing intensifying political and economic disputes with Japan, the United States and the European Union. Meanwhile, the outlook for the global economy is decidedly grim, with the International Monetary Fund forecasting a prolonged recession in Europe and severe budgetary woes in the US.

    At this crucial juncture, China's leadership is exploring avenues for leveraging the country's growing economic clout into geopolitical gains. If used wisely and consistently, China's economic power could be a powerful instrument for advancing its foreign-policy goals. The government's push to use financial capabilities to further diplomatic objectives will have dramatic effects on the international system.

    On Wednesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the establishment of the Department of International Economic Affairs. Zhu Caihua, vice-dean of China Foreign Affairs University's School of International Economy, very candidly stated the goals of the new Department: "China's soaring economic strength enables it to provide due assistance to developing countries and the European Union hit by the debt crisis. These moves also give China more say and flexibility in foreign relations." [1] Zhu went on to state that this new department would be tasked with handling "economic disputes with political backgrounds".

    The establishment this department is a sign that the leadership is increasingly aware of the strategic implications of China's expanding economy and immense foreign-currency reserves. The government is seeking to exploit directly its growing financial and economic clout for increased geopolitical authority and flexibility.

    The world should take notice - Beijing has publicly signaled the ability and the willingness to link access to vital Chinese loans and markets with the overall aims of its foreign policy.

    That China is a major force to reckon with in international finance is nothing new - in recent years it has lent more money to poor nations than did the World Bank. [2] What is new is China's open willingness to link economic goals with geopolitical objectives. As Europe and the US face a prolonged economic crisis, China's leadership is feeling confident that the country's new position in the global financial hierarchy will pay geopolitical dividends.

    Areas of trade, areas of contention
    The timing of this announcement is extremely meaningful. Currently, China is coming under increased political and economic pressure from three major rivals (and trade partners) - Japan, the US, and the EU.

    The dispute between China and Japan over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands is having pronounced economic effects in both nations. Popular calls for a Chinese boycott of Japanese goods have gained serious traction. Toyota's Chinese sales were down 40% from a year earlier in September. [3] Tens of thousands of seats on flights between the two countries have been cancelled, leading to the suspension of some routes. Dozens of Japanese companies have been expelled from the Western China International Trade Fair.

    The Chinese government has already publicly stated an ability to punish the Japanese government economically for the purchase of the disputed islands from their private owner. Last month, an article in the Communist Party-run People's Daily, "Consider sanctions against Japan", warned: "Japan's economy will suffer severely if China were to impose sanctions on it. China's loss would be relatively less."

    This threat is based on objective reality - China is still a relatively underdeveloped economy with huge potential for internal growth, while Japan has suffered from two decades of economic stagnation. China's willingness to use economic threats to further its territorial claims is a significant aspect of the current dispute.

    The new Department of International Economic Affairs may find itself busy dealing with the US as well as Japan. The domestic politics of the United States will have important implications for China's emerging economic diplomacy.

    A recent report from the Congressional Intelligence Committee has warned US corporations not to do business with the Chinese telecommunication companies Huawei and ZTE. Instead of finding a specific instance of wrongdoing, the report warned of the potential for future trouble. Mike Rogers, chairman of the committee, warned: "As this report shows, we have serious concerns about Huawei and ZTE, and their connection to the Communist government of China. China is known to be the major perpetrator of cyber-espionage, and Huawei and ZTE failed to alleviate serious concerns throughout this important investigation. American businesses should use other vendors." [4]

    The US presidential race has additional repercussions for China's international trade. Both incumbent President Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney have played the tough-on-China card for votes. Obama recently blocked the installation of Chinese-made wind turbines on the Oregon coast over concerns of the potential for spying on a nearby military base. [5] This was the first time a president had prevented a foreign investment deal since 1990.

    Meanwhile Romney has come out with his most forceful criticism of China to date, saying it has "taken advantage of our laxity in enforcing fair trade ... We will not allow them to keep taking our jobs." [6] Romney has accused the Chinese government of manipulating its currency to compete unfairly with foreign manufacturers, and has promised officially to declare China a currency manipulator - a move that could lead to economic sanctions - on his first day in office.

    China is facing further economic heat in the European theater. The EU has started an anti-dumping investigation of Chinese solar panels. This could threaten billions of euros in Chinese exports to Europe.

    Economics as politics by other means
    China not only faces economic difficulties from potential US and EU sanctions, but also long-term political challenges from these Western powers. The United States' strategic pivot toward Asia is seen as a direct threat to China's regional security. Meanwhile, both the US and the EU regularly involve themselves in China's domestic politics. Beijing views Western support for pro-reform political activists as aggressive interference in China's internal affairs.

    As China faces political and economic pressure from other major powers, the leadership is examining means to counter this pressure. Economic leverage - if used correctly - could be an excellent tool for promoting Beijing's current foreign-policy objectives.

    China's potential for economic growth is still much greater than that of any of its major rivals, even in the midst of a relative slowdown. The Chinese economy is highly dependent on trade with the US, Japan and the EU, but they are even more dependent on access to China's manufacturing capability and expanding domestic markets. Furthermore, these comparatively wealthy nations are also highly dependent on Chinese purchases of their government debt.

    Economic warfare is a double-edged sword. Japanese companies have been hurting more than Chinese businesses in the recent standoff, but both sides will be negatively affected by a reduction in trade. All contenders stand to lose in a trade war - but China less so than its rivals. Its growth and liquidity mean it has more room to maneuver than its potential opponents in any economic confrontation.

    If sufficiently pressured, China may engage in economic brinksmanship to secure its interests.

    The EU and the US face debt crises, while China holds roughly US$3 trillion in foreign-currency reserves. The balance of financial power should be obvious to all sides. By forming the Department of International Economic Affairs, the government is signaling an awareness of its ability to use China's economic strength as a foreign-policy tool.

    This new department will use financial means to defend the leadership's core interests: access to foreign markets, territorial integrity, and the Communist Party of China's monopoly on political power. The government may not been keen on bailing out Europe if European governments continue to bankroll Chinese dissidents. Beijing may be even less keen on lending to Washington the funds needed to expand America's military presence in Asia.

    The formation of the Department of International Economic Affairs is an important step in formalizing the use of China's economic power as an instrument in diplomatic disputes. As China continues to develop economically, its leadership has little interest in starting costly confrontations. China will only use economic leverage to retaliate for sanctions, or to secure its core interests. Its financial weapons are likely to remain sheathed so long as other nations do not directly threaten the Chinese economy or the main policy objectives of the Chinese government.

    China boosts economic diplomacy, China Daily, Oct 10, 2012.
    China loans more money than World Bank - report, BBC News, Jan 18, 2011.
    China-Japan island row disrupts trade, Irish Times, Oct 9, 2012.
    Stay Away from Huawei and ZTE: US Congress Committee, Business Standard, Oct 10, 2012.
    Obama blocks Chinese wind farms in Oregon over security, Hindustan Times, Sep 29, 2012.
    China gaining fast on US, says Mitt Romney, Economic Times, Oct 11, 2012.

    Brendan P O'Reilly is a China-based writer and educator from Seattle. He is author of The Transcendent Harmony.

    Sunday, October 14, 2012

    Competition between Tokyo and Beijing for oil and natural gas in contested waters ...

    Competition between Tokyo and Beijing for oil and natural gas in contested waters has led to stand-offs over islands...
    Oil and island vinaigrette makes for bitter Asian regional political salad...

    The dispute between China and Japan over their dual claims to the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands has little to do with nationalistic fervor and everything to do with oil and natural gas reserves discovered near the uninhabited rocky outcrops in the East China Sea. This is the information conveyed to WMR by intelligence sources in the region. Joint U.S. and Japanese energy resource surveys of Japanese waters, prompted mainly by the Daichi nuclear plant disaster in Fukushima, spurred Japan to investigate alternate non-nuclear sources of energy in their territorial and near-territorial waters.

    Evidence that the area around the islands held exploitable oil and natural gas was discovered by a survey in 1969 conducted by the United Nations Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE).

    The Senkakus, once called the Pinnacle Islands by the British Navy, were incorporated into Japan in 1895. Four of the islands, including Kuba, were eventually bought by Japanese business families. After Shintaro Ishihara, the right-wing governor of Tokyo prefecture, announced plans to buy the islands and annex them to his prefecture in order to stir up tensions with rival claimant China, the Japanese government purchased the four privately-owned islands.

    After World War II, the Pinnacles became a U.S. territory and was administered as part of the U.S. protectorate over the Ryukus chain, which included Okinawa. In 1972, when the Ryukus and Okinawa, along with the Pinnacles, reverted to Japanese sovereignty, China and Taiwan contested the awarding of the Pinnacles to Japan. The Republic of China, a signatory to the San Francisco Peace Treaty with Japan, believed that control of the islands should have reverted to China because of the Potsdam Declaration protocol of the San Francisco Treaty that stated Japan would only retain sovereignty over "the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku, and such minor islands as we determine." The Republic of China considered the provision granted control of the islands to China and that the islands were administratively part of Yilan County in Taiwan. However, Japan administratively placed control of the islands under the Okinawa Prefecture.

    The U.S. continues to maintain a minor military presence on Kuba. U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, during a recent trip to Japan and China, urged the Japanese to tame their rhetoric over the Senkakus and told the Chinese that the U.S. was not siding with the Japanese in the island dispute. The Chinese may have been more convinced of Panetta's sincerity if he had announced the U.S. would cease using Kuba as an aircraft bombing range.
    Ironically, the Republic of China on Taiwan and the People's Republic of China on the mainland, which considers Taiwan to be a part of China, agree that the Diaoyus are a constituent part of Yilan County, Taiwan. The Potsdam Declaration was also used by the USSR to lay claim to the four southernmost Kuril Islands north of Hokkaido. Russia continues to occupy the Kuril islands, which may also have oil and natural gas potential, a situation that has heightened Japanese-Russian tensions over control of the islands.

    The Liancourt Rocks, known as Takeshima by Japan and Dokdo by South Korea, lie in the Sea of Japan between South Korea and Japan, but closer to Japan. South Korea and Japan are engaged in a bitter sovereignty dispute over the uninhabited rocks. The reason has little to do with historic claims and nationalistic bluster but because the area around the rocks is believed to contain large natural gas reserves. In another ironic twist, North Korea, in a state of war with South Korea, supports South Korea's claim to the Liancourt Rocks.

    However, recent Japanese-U.S. undersea surveys in the waters off the islands became known to China, which is also anxious to find alternate energy resources in its adjacent waters. The competition between Tokyo and Beijing for oil and natural gas in contested waters has led to the stand-off over the islands.

    The northeast Asian disputes over control of uninhabited or sparsely-populated islands threatens to unravel what was seen as a burgeoning economic trading zone comprising China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and the Pacific coast of Siberia.

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012

    Hallapalooza; these Zio-Wahhabi thugs are 'Unsuited to foster Democracy' anywhere'...

    Whoa. What a Hallapalooza; these Zio-Wahhabi thugs are 'Unsuited to foster Democracy' anywhere'...
    Dangers of Zio-Saudi Wahhabi influence in Lebanon and Syria...

    "...  The continued influence of Saudi Arabia in Syria can only further destabilize the situation on the ground, undermine U.S. interests in the region and dim the prospects for a future democratic Syria.In the wake of the Bush administration’s intervention in Afghanistan, and more disastrously, in Iraq, the Obama Administration has been circumspect in its involvement in the Middle East. It has lent rhetorical support to the Arab Spring, calibrating its policy to the situation on the ground and to U.S. interests.  It has properly been reticent to add a third armed conflict in the Muslim world to the U.S. agenda. The administration acted militarily in Libya only with both United Nations Security Counsel and Arab League blessings, and then allowed others, notably France, to do the heavy lifting. ......... Whether as a U.S. proxy, in coordination with U.S. intelligence agencies or purely on its own initiative, Saudi Arabia is positioning itself as the primary source of financial, political and military support for the anti-regime forces in Syria.... Such a policy may serve the interests of the Saudi Kingdom by undermining a key ally of its strategic adversary, Iran but the results can only be disastrous for U.S. interests and the future of Syria.  
    As it has in other conflicts throughout the Muslim world, Saudi Arabia is expanding its influence in the Syrian conflict by arming and funding those elements of the opposition whose aims are limited to the establishment of a narrowly defined Sunni, Salafist government, one that takes its religious inspiration from the Wahabi government in Riyadh. Such an approach will only alienate the secularly oriented segments of the opposition as well as those religious minorities, Christians, Shia, and assorted others, that are already wary of the opposition’s goals for a future Syria. These religions minorities, while often finding the Assad regime distasteful, see the minority Alawite government as the last layer of protection for minorities from the Sunni mass movements taking control throughout the region. 
     'Unsuited to foster Democracy' anywhere!' 
    In addition to narrowing the base of support for the Syrian opposition, Saudi support for the religious extremist segments of the opposition will strike a blow against the future of a Syrian democracy. No nation is more singularly unsuited to the fostering of a pluralistic democracy in Syria than the tribal absolute monarchy of Saudi Arabia. The nature of the Saudi regime does not simply make it unlikely that it will pursue a democratic alternative to the Assad government, it guarantees that the Saudis will be outright hostile to a pluralistic, secular democracy that does not hold a narrowly-defined version of Sunni Islam at its center.  
    Last, a Syrian government brought to power and buttressed primarily by Saudi support would likely draw the immediate opposition of the Assad regime’s primary ally and Saudi Arabia’s strategic adversary, Iran. Iran’s overt and covert interference in Lebanese and Iraqi politics suggests that the Islamic Republic would not hesitate to intervene in the affairs of a post-Assad Syria if it perceived that its interests were threatened in the region. .  ..."

    Maliki in Russia for huge arms deal, Syria agreement ...

    "...Maliki arrived in Moscow for three days of discussions on Monday that media reports speculated would conclude with the signing of a $4.3 billion arms deal that makes Russia Iraq's biggest supplier after the United States.
    But that contract and talks about new energy tie-ups were likely to create only the background to a strong common stance against any form of outside pressure on Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad to leave power. ..."
    GORKI, Russia (Zio-Reuters) - Iraq has signed contracts to buy weapons from Russia worth more than $4.2 billion recently, according to a Russian government document issued on Tuesday at a meeting between Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
    Russian President Vladimir Putin vocally opposed the U.S-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 but Moscow has since sought energy and arms deals with Baghdad and the contracts mean Iraq is now one of Russia's biggest weapons buyers.
    The contracts were signed during visits to Russia by Iraq's acting defense chief in April, July and August, the document showed. It gave no further details.
    The Russian daily newspaper Vedomosti reported late last month that contracts worth $4.3 million were being agreed ahead of Maliki's visit. It said they included deals for 30 Mi-28NE combat helicopters and 42 Pantsir-S1 mobile rocket launchers.
    Russia delivered about $12 billion in weapons and signed about $3.7 billion in new arms contracts last year, according to Russian defense and security think-tank CAST...

    Russia bridges Middle Eastern divides...
    By M K Bhadrakumar

    A multi-billion dollar arms deal with Iraq, a summit meeting with Turkey, a fence-mending exercise with Saudi Arabia, a debut with Egypt's Sphinx-like Muslim Brothers - all this is slated to happen within the period of a turbulent month in the Middle East. And all this is to happen when the United States' "return" to the region after the hurly-burly of the November election still seems a distant dream. Simply put, Russia is suddenly all over the Middle East.

    Moscow announced on Tuesday that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was in town and the two countries signed contracts worth "more than" US$4.2 billion in an arms deal that includes Iraq's purchase of 30 Mi-28 attack helicopters and 42 Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air missile systems that can also be used to defend against attack jets.

    The joint Russian-Iraqi statement issued in Moscow revealed that discussions had beem going on for the past five months over the arms deal and that further talks are under way for Iraq's purchase of MiG-29 jets, heavy-armored vehicles and other weaponry. A Kremlin announcement said Maliki is due to meet President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday and the focus of the discussions will be energy cooperation between Russia and Iraq.

    The stunning news will send US politicians into a tizzy. Reports say the phone kept ringing in Maliki's office in Baghdad as soon as it transpired that he was to travel to Moscow and something big could be in the works. Queries were coming in from the US State Department and the National Security Council as to what warranted such a trip at this point in time.

    The point is, Maliki still remains an enigma for Washington. He is no doubt a friend of the US, but he is also possibly more than a friend of Iran. Now, it seems, he is also fond of Russia - as Saddam Hussein used to be.

    Washington and Ankara have annoyed him repeatedly, taking him for granted, even writing off his political future, by consorting with the northern Kurdistan over lucrative oil deals, ignoring his protests that Iraq is a sovereign state and Baghdad is its capital and that the country has a constitution under which foreign countries should not have direct dealings with its regions bypassing the capital and the central government.

    Booting out Big Oil
    They not only ignored Maliki's protests but also chastised him for opposing the plan for "regime change" in Syria and for robustly supporting President Bashar al-Assad. Lately, they even started needling him on providing facilities for Iran to send supplies to the embattled regime in Syria. They then exceeded all proprieties and gave asylum to an Iraqi Sunni leader who is a fugitive under Iraqi law.

    They are currently endeavoring to bring together the disparate Sunni groups in Iraq in an ominous move that could lead to the balkanization of Iraq.

    Kurdistan is already a de facto independent region, thanks to US and Turkish interference. The game plan is to further weaken Iraq by sponsoring the creation of a Sunni entity in central Iraq similar to Kurdistan in the north, thus confining the Iraqi Shi'ites to a moth-eaten southern region.

    The Russia visit shows that Maliki is signaling he has had enough and won't take this affront to Iraqi sovereignty anymore. What is almost certain is that he will propose to Putin on Wednesday that Russian oil companies should return to Iraq in full battle cry with investment and technology and pick up the threads from where they left at the time of the US invasion in 2003.

    Maliki can be expected to boot out Big Oil and the Turkish companies from Iraq's oil sector. The implications are profound for the world oil market since Iraq's fabulous oil reserves match Saudi Arabia's.

    Clearly, Maliki intends to assert Iraqi sovereignty. Recently, he decided to terminate the Saddam-era agreement with Turkey, which allowed a Turkish military presence in northern Iraq to monitor the PKK separatists' activities. But Ankara balked, telling off Maliki. The Russian deal enables him now to rebuild the Iraqi armed forces and make the Turks think twice before they violate Iraqi air space or conclude that their military presence in northern Iraq could continue unchallenged.

    Does this mean Iraq is on a course of strategic defiance of the US? What needs to be factored in is that the US still remains Iraq's number one arms supplier. Iraq is expecting the delivery of 30 F-16 aircraft. A strategic defiance of the US is far from Maliki's thoughts - at least, for now.

    Maliki's message needs to be taken more as one of assertively stating that Iraq is an independent country. Arguably, it is not very different from the thrust of Egypt's policies under President Mohammed Morsi. Simply put, the US needs to come to terms with such happenings as Maliki's decision to revive the military ties with Russia or Morsi's decision to pay his first state visit to China. Conceivably, it could be Egypt's turn next to revive the ties with Russia. As a matter of fact, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is scheduled to visit Cairo in early November in the first high-level exchange with Morsi's leadership.

    Indeed, much depends on the composure with which the US is able to adapt itself to the new realities in the Middle East. As things stand, the US has succeeded in selling $6 billion worth of arms to Iraq. It is indeed comfortably placed. The US State Department's initial reaction exuded confidence. Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the Russian deal doesn't signify any scaling down of Iraq's "mil-to-mil" ties with the US, which are "very broad and very deep".

    She revealed that discussions are going on for "some 467 foreign military sales cases" with Iraq worth more than $12 billion "if all of those go forward." Nuland said, "We're doing some $12.3 billion worth of military business with Iraq, so I don't think one needs to be concerned about that relationship being anything but the strongest."

    New, untried alchemy
    But the touch of anxiety in Nuland's words cannot be glossed over, either. The plain truth is, the "Russians are coming" and this time they are capitalists and globalists; they also know the Iraqi market, while the Iraqi soldier is familiar with the Russian weapon. During the Saddam era, Iraq was a major buyer of Russian weaponry and Moscow is estimated to have lost contracts worth about $8 billion due to the US-sponsored "regime change" in Baghdad in 2003.

    Conceivably, Russia will do its utmost to claw its way back to the top spot in the Iraqi market and to make up for lost time. But then, arms deals invariably have political and strategic content as well. In the near term, the "unknown unknown" is going to be whether Maliki might choose to share the Iraqi capabilities with his close Iranian and Syrian allies.

    Significantly, high-level Syrian and Iranian delegations have also visited Moscow in recent months. Eyebrows will be raised that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is scheduling a visit to Baghdad shortly. In fact, even as the Russian-Iraqi arms deal was signed in Moscow, the commander of the navy of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards arrived on a visit to Iraq, signifying the close ties between Baghdad and Tehran. No doubt, Washington will remain on its toes on this front.

    Equally, Russian experts have written in the past about the emergence of a new "bloc" in the heart of the Middle East comprising Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon with which Moscow can hope to have special ties.

    However, the incipient signs as of now are that Moscow's regional diplomacy in the Middle East is shifting gear, determined to bridge the regional divide that the Syrian crisis has brought about.
    Of course, the enterprise seems awesome in its sheer audacity. But then, Putin is scheduled to travel to Turkey next week; Lavrov hopes to travel to Riyadh in early November to attend the second session of Russia's Strategic Dialogue with the Gulf Cooperation Council states (which was once abruptly postponed by the Saudi regime as a snub to Moscow for its dogged support for the Assad regime in Syria); Lavrov will also make a "synchronized visit" to Cairo for meeting with the new Egyptian leadership and Arab League officials.

    Disclosing Lavrov's scheduled diplomatic missions, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov added, "We [Russia] are interested in the dialogue and open partnership discussion with our Arab colleagues from the Gulf, which, in particular Saudi Arabia, Qatar and others, play a rather active and not one-meaning role in Syrian affairs. We always favor discussion of these issues, even disagreements, at the negotiating table, especially since we have the Strategic Dialogue mechanism."

    Without doubt, Russian alchemists are experimenting with new, untried formulations that may help heal the Syrian wounds. But, as Bogdanov sought to explain, these formulations are also broad spectrum medications that will help induce the overall metabolism of Russia's regional ties with recaltricant partners who are upset for the present over Syria. Ideally, Moscow would like to see that healing process is embedded within an overall enhancement of mutually beneficial economic ties.

    Russia's ties with Turkey and Saudi Arabia, for instance, were going strong during the phase of the pre-crisis period in Syria. While the ties with Turkey lately have somewhat stagnated, Russian-Saudi ties have run into serious difficulty. Evidently, Moscow is keen to restore the status quo ante. The interesting part is the Russian diplomacy's assessment that the present juncture provides a window of opportunity to make overtures to Ankara and Riyadh, no matter the incessant blood-letting in Syria.
    The backdrop to which this is happening is significant. In Moscow's assessment, evidently, there could be hopeful signs for a renewed approach to seeking a political solution to the Syrian crisis even though the skies look heavily overcast. There may be merit in making such a shrewd assessment.

    As things stand, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are facing an acute predicament over the Syrian situation. Neither thought that the Syrian regime would have such a social base and political will to hang on; both are frustrated that any "regime change" in Syria is going to be a long haul fraught with uncertain consequences not only for the Syrian nation but also for the region as a whole and even for themselves.

    Again, while there is no let-up in the dogged opposition to outside intervention in Syria, which Moscow and Beijing have amply displayed, a UN Security Council mandate for intervention is to be ruled out. Without a UN mandate, on the other hand, a Western intervention is unlikely, and in any case, the US remains disinterested while the European attitudes will be guided by their priorities over their economies, which, according to the latest Inernational Monetary Fund estimation, are sliding into a prolonged recession from which a near-term recovery seems highly improbable.

    Sultan with a Nobel
    In short, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are holding a can of worms containing the Syrian rebel elements that are not only disparate but also could prove troublesome in future. As for Turkey, with or without a UN mandate, the popular opinion is overwhelmingly against an intervention in Syria.

    The Turkish people remain far from convinced that their vital national interests are at stake in Syria. Besides, the Turkish economy is also slowing, and a deep recession in Europe can play havoc with Turkey's economic fortunes. The ruling AKP's trump card so far has been that it steered Turkey to a period of unprecedented economic prosperity.

    Increasingly, therefore, all this proactivism on Syria looks more like the hare-brained idea of the academic-turned Foreign Minister Ahmet Davitoglu and Prime Minister Recep Erdogan than a well-thought out foreign policy initiative. But even here, Erdogan's political priorities are going to change as he prepares for his bid to become the executive president of Turkey under a new constitution in 2014.

    A Syrian quagmire can threaten his political ambitions, and already he senses rivalry from the incumbent President Abdullah Gul, whose popular ratings are manifestly far better than his own.

    In sum, Erdogan wants regime change in Syria and he is still pushing for it, but he wants it now. He can't wait indefinitely, since that will upset his own political calendar. He is upset, on the other hand, that US President Barack Obama is not a man in a hurry and the Europeans are distracted by ailments.

    All factors taken into consideration, therefore, it should come as no surprise that Putin has made a visit to Turkey such an urgent priority - although Erdogan visited Russia hardly two months ago. Putin has excellent personal equations with Erdogan. They were instrumental in taking Russian-Turkish relationship to such qualitatively new level in recent years.

    Putin is a very focused statesman. He wants to revive the verve of the Russian-Turkish tango. In the process, the contract for building a $25 billion nuclear power plant in Turkey could be advanced to the implementation stage, and Russia may also secure contracts to sell weaponry to Turkey.

    In the Russian assessment, Erdogan's underlying ideology in terms of pursuing an independent foreign policy needs to be encouraged, despite the recent deviations such as the decision to deploy the US missile defence system on Turkish soil.

    Putin's expectation will be that within the framework of a revival of the Russian-Turkish bonhomie and taking advantage of Erdogan's travails and dilemma over Syria, a meaningful conversation between Moscow and Ankara might be possible leading to a purposive search for a political solution to the crisis in Syria.

    This is the season of Nobel, after all. If Erdogan could be persuaded that he could be the first ever sultan - and probably the last, too, in Ottoman history - to win a Nobel prize for peace, Putin would have made a huge contribution himself to world peace. ...