The chemical scare around Syria is receiving a skeptical response not only from Assad’s government, but now the very people seeking to bring him down.A senior rebel official has dismissed Washington’s reports that Assad was arming chemical warheads, saying it was all part of a media game.
December 5, 2012 By 1 Comment
The Washington Post Anne Gearan BRUSSELS — NATO agreed Tuesday to send new American-made air defenses to Turkey’s volatile southern border with Syria, a boost to an alliance member on the front lines of Syria’s civil war and a potential backstop for wider U.S. or NATO air operations if the situation deteriorates further. The alliance’s approval of Patriot anti-missile batteries represents NATO’s first significant military involvement in the 20-month-long crisis, even if it falls well short of rebels’ demands for help. NATO and U.S. officials insisted that the system is entirely devoted to defending Turkey and is not a precursor to a military intervention in Syria. The Patriots will provide no protection for Syrian civilians or rebels fighting to unseat President Bashar al-Assad. However, the system, likely to deploy early next year, could be repurposed as part of a wider air campaign or to provide air cover for action in Syria should NATO change its mind. Military experts said Patriots are as effective against aircraft as they are against missiles, and deploying the system at the border could be instrumental in quickly carving out a 25-mile buffer zone. The threat that a besieged Assad might resort to chemical weapons as rebels gain ground gave new urgency to NATO’s debate. Syria, which is party to the 1925 Geneva Protocol banning chemical weapons in war, has repeatedly insisted that it would not use such weapons, even if it possessed them. It has called the Patriot plan “provocative” and considers it a possible first step toward a no-fly zone, airstrikes or an invasion. For now, U.S. and NATO officials say the system is designed to bolster the NATO member most directly affected by the Syrian civil war, and nothing more. Although the alliance counts the 2011 Libya no-fly zone as a success, it opposes similar action in the Syrian conflict. The Obama administration also remains opposed to intervention in a civil war that has claimed as many as 40,000 lives, including at least 15 on Tuesday when mortar rounds slammed into an elementary school. “Turkey has asked for NATO’s support, and we stand with Turkey in the spirit of strong solidarity,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after approval by the 28-member alliance at a meeting in Brussels. “To the Turkish people we say, ‘We are determined to defend you and your territory.’ To anyone who would want to attack Turkey we say, ‘Don’t even think about it.’ ” Chemical weapons moved Syria is believed to have the world’s third-largest store of chemical weapons, along with medium- and long-range missiles that could deliver them inside or outside the country. The weapons, which can kill large numbers of soldiers or civilians, can also be delivered by aircraft. U.S. officials said Monday that satellite images showed Syrian forces moving chemical weapons into positions where they could be used more quickly. Although Rasmussen offered no specifics, U.S. officials said the White House and its allies are weighing military options to prevent or defend against a chemical attack. Continued
November 20, 2012 By 283 Comments
Wahington Post Anne Gearan
The Israeli-Hamas conflict is putting the Obama administration at odds with two of its most important partners in the Middle East, threatening to undermine other U.S. objectives in the region at a time of political upheaval.
On Monday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, which has frequently served as a moderate voice in the region, described Israel as a “terrorist state” and condemned the airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, which is run by the Islamist group Hamas. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has warned Israel against a ground invasion and thrown his support behind Hamas’s leadership, sending his prime minister to Gaza.Pyongyang, however, might not be able or willing to follow Burma’s example of reform and opening.The growing outcry has exposed the United States to criticism that it has not done enough to press Israel to agree to a cease-fire. The conflict has also created a wedge in relations with officials in Egypt and Turkey and highlighted the limits of U.S. influence in the aftermath of the revolutions that swept the region last year.
Against this backdrop, President Obama on Tuesday escalated U.S. involvement in trying to resolve the conflict, dispatching Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to meet with officials in Israel, the West Bank and Egypt. She leaves for the region from Phnom Penh, where she took part in the East Asia Summit with Obama.Since the United States does not have relations with Hamas, however, Clinton is scheduled to meet in Ramallah with West Bank Palestinian leaders who are on the sidelines of the Gaza crisis, leaving it unclear how much she can hope to achieve.Hours before Clinton was due to arrive in Israel, police and ambulances were called to… Read More
October 15, 2012 By 4 Comments
By Sean Sullivan Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has made a concerted effort to exploit the Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Libya for political gain, David Axelrod charged Sunday. There “is no doubt he is working hard to exploit this issue,” Axelrod, a senior campaign adviser to President Obama, said of Romney in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”The attack last month in Benghazi claimed the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. The administration initially said it appeared to be a spontaneous attack but later declared the assault an act of terrorism, prompting an outcry from Republicans about the inconsistent assessment. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who sits on the Senate Armed Services committee, suggested Sunday that the Obama administration deliberately misled the public about the nature of the attack in Benghazi. “I think they’ve been misleading us, but it finally caught up with them,” Graham said on CBS’s “Face The Nation.” Graham argued that in the immediate aftermath of the attack, there was clear evidence — including a communication from the intelligence community on the ground in Libya to officials in Washington — to suggest the incident was an act of terrorism, not a spontaneous assault. “Either they’re misleading the American people or incredibly incompetent,” Graham said. “There was no way with anybody looking at all that you could believe five days after the attack it was based on a riot that never occurred. There was no riot at all, so to say that you’re either very incompetent or you’re misleading.” The State Department acknowledged last week that it rejected appeals for more security in Libya in the months preceding the attack. Vice President Biden said during a Thursday debate with Republican vice- presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) that “we weren’t told they wanted more security there.” Axelrod on Sunday said that “we” referred to Biden and Obama. “I think what he was talking about was what he and the president knew, because these matters were being handled at the State Department,” Axelrod said. “I guess we will accept that explanation,” senior Romney adviser Ed Gillespie said on the same program. “ ‘We’ generally means our administration. What we are seeing here is an effort by Obama and Biden saying, ‘No, it was the State Department.’ ” U.S. efforts to investigate the Benghazi attack have been hampered by the political situation in Libya, where key ministries have been on autopilot as politicians have struggled to form the country’s first democratically elected government since the death nearly a year ago of longtime dictator Moammar Gaddafi. On Sunday, the General National Congress elected Ali Zidan, a human rights lawyer, as the new prime minister. His selection followed the dismissal last week of another prime minister, Mustafa Abushagur, who was unable to form a cabinet. Source: Washington Post
October 14, 2012 By 295 Comments
21st Century Wire
For the Libya war and regime change, things seemed straightforward: Libya is a big supplier of oil and gas to Europe. Quickly replacing the Gaddafi regime was necessary, despite “the Colonel” being recycled back into grace with a Condoleeza Rice, Tony Blair and Silvio Berlusconi smile and handshake, only a few years before.
Once corporate penetration was underway, western central planners quickly replaced Gaddafi with a Shariah-proclaiming shaky government and its fundamentalist militias, who celebrated Sept 11th 2012 in a special way, by killing the US ambassador and staff in manner mirroring the demise of the late Colonel. But hydrocarbon supplies are vital!
On to Syria
Syria is a very minor exporter of oil (about 0.14 Mbd or 0.27% of world export supplies), with its exportable surplus on a slow downhill for more than 10 years. Kurdish separatists operating in and partly controlling eastern Syria have big plans to raise oil output, but their longstanding war with the el-Assad regime has blighted foreign drilling and related oil E&P activity. Most major oil investors (especially Canadian and Indian) have been tapering down their eastern Syria E&P for more than 3 years, since 2008-2009. Conventional gas resources are not large, mostly difficult access, and their development has been stunted by political and security concerns. Shale gas and shale oil potentials in Syria are however large, but like conventional gas resources are impossible to develop at present.
The country’s hydropower and water resource potential is also large, but any claim that Syria is a “resource-rich jewel” to be liberated, democratized and brought to market as soon as possible – but possibly not Libya-style – is way off the mark. The nearest-term regional economic role for Syria is development of its agriculture potential, which has been attempted by the father-and-son el-Assad regime, since the 1980s but bad planning, execution and management, and endemic corruption inside the regime only resulted in Syria attaining exporter status in a major agrocommodity (wheat) for a few years in the 1990s. Since that time Syria has tilted back into food import dependence – exactly like Saudia Arabia and the Gulf states whose leaderships pretend to believe in Syria becoming “the Arab world’s bread basket”, under strict Sunnite rule, of course.
Energy resource or energy transport issues are unimportant players in this regime-change experiment, but in a recent Market Oracle posting on the supposed energy drivers behind regime change, William Engdahl writes: “Huge gas resource discoveries in Israel, in Qatar and in Syria combined with the emergence of the EU as the world’s potentially largest natural gas consumer, combine to create the seeds of the present geopolitical clash over the Assad regime”.
He continued: “Natural gas is rapidly becoming the “clean energy” of choice to replace coal and nuclear electric generation across the EU most especially since Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear after the Fukushima disaster. Gas is regarded as far more “environmentally friendly” in terms of its so-called “carbon footprint.”
Too Much Gas – Too Many Pipelines
Huge unconventional (deep offshore) gas reserves have been discovered, and proven or are in the process of being proven in the territorial waters of the following countries:
Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Cyprus, Azerbaijan. Several other close-by countries are highly prospective, meaning likely also to possess very large reserves of deep offshore gas, called “stranded gas”. This only concerns local and regional, eastern Med and Caspian unconventional gas resource finds: worldwide finds are truly massive, and concern all continents. Any talk about world gas shortage, or control of gas resources by a small number of countries mostly hostile to the West has been exploded, since 2007-2009. This real world state of facts has yet to filter through to Think Tank strategists, deep in their bunkers mulling 1970s-vintage energy crisis issues with a Cold War mindset, in which War on Terror was as unknown as global stranded gas and shale gas resources and reserves. As recently as 2008 and playing a major role in the setting of Europe’s climate-energy package of policies and programs basically seeking energy independence and energy security, the dark shadow of these Cold War-era energy crisis issues – now bolstered by Al Qaida shadows, played a major role in the European quest to reduce gas import dependence by any means. Increased dependence on Qatari gas, let alone Libyan, Algerian, Russian and Norwegian gas – Europe’s 4 largest pipeline gas suppliers - featured nowhere in this 2008 plan, and was in fact the exact opposite of the plan’s published goals.
The basic reason for this, despite the energy security, geopolitical and terror war trimmings, is economic. Europe’s 4 largest pipeline gas suppliers, utilising an already overcapacity pipeline system feeding Europe, with zero need for pipeline capacity growth, operate “oil indexed prices” for gas. In simple terms this prices gas imports to Europe at up to $16 per million BTU, equivalent to oil at $92.80 a barrel. US gas prices this year have average about $2.50 per million BTU before a very recent “surprise comeback” to a little over $3. Importing either Israeli gas (after 2020-2022 when the gas is developed) or Qatari gas through a hypothetical trans-Syria pipeline would have no interest at all to Europe, unless their offer price fell well below current prices operated by the 4 largest pipeline suppliers. Possibly unknown to the deep-thinking Think Tank community, too often based in the US – the southern, south-eastern and eastern European regions are now criss-crossed with gas pipelines at a variety of stages: existing and operational; in construction; planned and in project. The major problem is not the transport capacity – but filling the lines at prices Europe is prepared to pay. Many pipeline projects are now on hold, not for geopolitical reasons, but because at the same time and rapidly, LNG re-gasification terminals are under construction in all coastal EU27 states. Rates of construction are so fast, despite high costs, that certain countries such as France will by 2015-2016 have sufficient LNG terminals to handle LNG imports covering entire national gas consumption needs. At the same time, gas pipeline capacity to northern and western Europe, including France, continues to grow.
World LNG supplies are on an unstoppable upward growth track, running at well over 20% per year, as LNG suppliers and potential suppliers also grow at an unstoppable rate. Under any hypothesis, LNG prices will be far below present European and Asia gas import prices and will surely and certainly force down global gas prices. Arab suppliers of LNG such as Qatar will have no dominance in the coming global LNG supply system and will be price-takers, due to the vast size of new stranded gas resources discovered and proven in countries such as Mozambique, Tanzania, west African states, Australia and Brazil, as well as the eastern Mediterranean “new gas” countries. Gas shortage does not exist.
Pipelines (and Gas) the World Doesn’t Need
Energy resource shortage in Europe is decreasingly on the menu, and hard to defend under any rational study of European regional, west Asian, MENA (Middle East and North Africa), African and world energy resource potentials. The former dominance of oil from Arab states, and gas from Russia was in any case the focus of European Commission and member state energy policies – with the target of diversifying energy sources and supply sources – since the 1960s and has continued and intensified ever since. The current supposed “CO2 based” clean energy policies of the Commission, enacted as energy law in the member states since June 2009 (but in no way cast in stone) only push the quest for energy independence further. These long-term policies, concerning gas, have been responsible for the massive growth of pipeline gas capacity to Europe – which is now accompanied by the massive growth of LNG import terminal capacity, to feed national based gas pipelines, all of which are interconnected in continental Europe.
Related to the Syrian regime change experiment, or simply the grisly end of a Mafia-type Arab dictatorship, getting rid of el-Assad is in no rational way the signal for yet another, one more, high cost natural gas pipeline linking West Asia and Europe – this would certainly be one more underutilized or even useless pipeline! Taking overpriced Qatari gas, by pipeline, is for the least eccentric: Qatar is able to export LNG to Europe at high prices, already. The real interest is to force Qatar to cut its prices – which will happen, however many football teams and luxury hotels the “western-friendly” Qataris can buy to curry favour with European political, media and corporate elites. The claim that the only “realistic way” that EU governments, from Germany to France to Italy to Spain, will be able to meet EU mandated CO2 reduction targets by 2020 is a major shift to burning gas instead of coal, is also unreal on technical grounds. This claim ignores the complex realities of EU27 energy, and world energy - especially fast-evolving technology in power generation. Heavily criticised by the Greens and Climate Crazies, Germany’s decision to build more coal-fired power plants takes no account of the Syrian situation, but pays plenty of attention to the fact that even if gas-fired power plants can reduce CO2 emissions by 50-60% over conventional coal-fired plants, they are distanced in CO2 reduction performance by new generation clean coal plants, like IGCC power plants developed and built, in Germany - by Siemens. Replacing old coal-fired facilities with IGCC technologies can reduce Germany’s current coal power related CO2 emissions by 40 million tons per year for the same amount of power supply (about 46% of total German power supply). For the US, Siemens pitches “clean coal” as follows. German hard coal resources, notably in the Ruhr basin, are now a highly politicised issue also confused by technology issues – especially concerning in situ underground gasification by fracking, extending to much greater depths than economically extractable “physical coal”. Even in IGCC power plants “physical coal” would emit as much, or more CO2 per unit kWh of electric power generated as gas-fired plants using gasified coal, making coal gasification a major focus of German energy R&D. Resource estimates for German remaining coal reserves range from as high as 75 to 100 billion tons coal equivalent, to less than 500 million tons, due to the politicised spin – very like the “imaginative” estimates of recoverable oil reserves in Arab countries of the Middle East, which always increase, on paper, at any time of geopolitical stress like the present.
Similar politicised and radical variations of coal reserve estimates apply to Poland’s USB, Ukraine’s Donbass and Russia’s western coalfields. Under any rational scenario however, these European coal resources could cover 350 – 500 years of current European and Russian coal needs.
The need for any kind of energy transported across Syria’s frontiers – either oil or gas – is zero in Europe. We should ask here that Washington and London’s brain-trust take note then, and think about ceasing to promote a bankrupt drive to break yet another nation state – and for the wrong reasons, whilst risking wider regional instability through their own reckless efforts.
October 11, 2012 By 1 Comment
What will a war with Iran look like? What will be the results of a unilateral attack on Iran by Israel and the US? Will it trigger multi-regional military conflict? 21st Century Wire geopolitical analyst, Patrick Henningsen, outlines possible outcomes, including the Hegelian outcome of a One World Order aka ‘New World Order’, in an exclusive, previously unreleased interview with domestic Russian television, filmed in London in Sept 2012. ….
October 11, 2012 By 14 Comments
October 11, 2012 By 6 Comments
October 7, 2012 By 255 Comments
108Morris108 In this Guantanamo age, Britain is deporting British citizens and residents to the USA. All part of the war on Islam/terror. Some of these people have already been behind bars for years without due process. Some of them have murky pasts which involved British Intel. Here is an article from the Guardian explaining what awaits them: http://www.stopwar.org.uk/index.php/usa-war-on-terror/1931-read-this-and-know… Read this (above) and know why the decision to extradite Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan is an outrage. ….
October 6, 2012 By 6 Comments
UK Column Live welcomes’s guest Patrick Henningsen on to the program to analyse the recent escalation in Syria, as NATO member Turkey is positioned by the West to pry an opening for outside military intervention in the region. In addition Patrick discusses the rise of Right Wing extremism in an economically depressed Europe, as well as the corruption surrounding the BBC’s privatised assets and departments. Visit: http://www.ukcolumn.org ….