Looks at the case of eight Iranian fishermen falsely accused of drug trafficking and beheaded when their boat drifted into Saudi Arabian waters by a storm.
21st Century Wire
Radio Jones host Pippa Jones speaks to guest Patrick Henningsen live from Beirut, discussing the legal and human implications of the recent weapons-running operation orchestrated by the US, UK, France and Croatia, and the potential EU and Middle East crisis which could result from this latest development…
Listen to interview: The Radio Jones Show 15 March 2013
Hear Pippa Jones on air every week at i-Talk FM radio.
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21st Century Wire
US and Western Governments are stepping up the arming and funding of Syrian rebels, and Al Qaeda, to do the dirty job of ousting President Assad for them.
This is still an act of murder by aiding and abetting, by getting someone else to do it for you, and it is cheaper, less messy and easier than doing it themselves, with no casualties in the US and Western military, no public outcry, and not a splash of blood on their hands.
A similar tactic was used in ousting Gaddafi in Libya, but they have now realized that it is much better to just stand back and pay others to do the fighting and killing for them, then when Assad has been toppled like Gaddafi they simply step in as the liberators and bringers of the pseudo democracy, and help themselves to the treasure of oil, strategic positioning, and the final step closer to the big, long-awaited goal of toppling Iran.
President Assad of course is no angel, it is true, but if we look at the figures of his war crimes against humanity, they pale in comparison to a Bush or a Blair, and currently a combo of Cameron, Hollande and Obama (catching up quickly), who are racking up the deaths and destruction at quite a pace in Mali, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
If any member of the public gave someone else a gun and pointed that person and that gun towards a victim who they then killed, the giver of that gun would immediately be sentenced to murder for aiding and abetting. Even worse is the fact that the Syrian rebels are often simply gangs of angry youths hell-bent on enjoying the sudden gift of power and control that a machine gun or rocket launcher can bring. The Saudis are also doing their part in arming the angry gangs, and we are seeing the usual horrendous ethical compromises taking place, with civilian casualties growing every day.
For a moment let us imagine what would happen if the disillusioned American people rose up against Obama, as have the Syrians against Assad, and also demanded Obama leave, as did the Egyptians and the Libyans, do we really think Obama would pack his bags and give the people the keys to the White House? And if the American people rose up and ‘rebelled’ and went to the streets like the Syrian rebels Obama would also order the police and troops to use force to quell the uprisings, and if they persisted Obama like Assad would also order the police and troops to shoot people if necessary. It is easy to forget that The US and Western governments would be as equally brutal against its population in an uprising, this is a big shock for people to imagine but it is true.
Now imagine in that same scenario, Syria or another country funding and arming the American people to help get Obama out, to achieve their interests in the region, the very possibility sounds absurd, which shockingly proves to us as Western and US citizens how superior we believe we are, and that we would never imagine our governments turning on us to crush us if we were to dare to seriously confront them and demand their exit from our lives. One of the biggest shocks for Americans is this truth, that their government, and UK, French and most others worldwide would ultimately kill its uprising population, like Assad, if that population seriously challenged them. Just a cursory glance back at the occupy movement gives us a taste of this, and if one gun had gone off from the public, then we would have seen the above scenario begin.
The defining moment would come as to whether the police or military would kill its own people. I am not advocating this horrible scenario, or saying it may ever happen, but I am simply placing the shoe on the other foot for us to see the situation from another perspective, and that perspective glaringly shows us that the white man still cannot see past his own superiority, like camels that can only see other camels humps and not their own.
So how dare the US and Western warmongering governments interfere in other people’s business, fueled by their insatiable lust for power and complete control of strategic land and resources at any cost, be it human suffering and countless loss of life, the destruction of civilizations and their rich history, or the wanton destruction of the planet and the future for even their own children.
When will we wake up?
Author Jason Liosatos is a artist, writer and peace advocate based in the UK, and host of Global Peace Radio Show.
by David Jackson
The leak of a document on the Obama administration’s drone strike policy has some people in Washington playing the “what if” game.
What if President George W. Bush’s administration had written such a document on the legality of drone attacks, even on U.S. citizens working with suspected terrorists overseas?
Former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer tweeted: “Good thing (Department of Justice) drone memo didn’t come out in 2008. Candidate Obama would never have put up with stuff like that going on.”
Joe Scarborough, the former Republican congressman who hosts MSNBC’s Morning Joe, said that if this were the Bush administration, there would be “congressional hearings” and “articles of impeachment.”
Candidate Obama and Democrats did indeed criticize Bush-era counterterrorism policies, such as warrantless wiretaps and enhanced interrogation techniques (waterboarding).
Aides to President Obama said he is continuing the war on terrorism, authorized by Congress shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Obama “takes the absolute necessity to conduct our war against al-Qaeda and its affiliates in a way that’s consistent with the Constitution and our laws very seriously,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney.
The spokesman added that “it is a matter of fact that al-Qaeda is in a state of war against us and that senior leaders, operational leaders of al-Qaeda are continually plotting to attack the United States, plotting to kill American citizens as they did most horrifically on Sept. 11, 2001.”
21st Century Wire
Was Iraq an ‘oil war? Probably in 50 years time, academics but not many other persons will still be talking about the subject.
For plenty of historians, journalists, writers, paywrights and movie makers there is no problem at all: since the 1991 Liberation of Kuwait, the 9/11 atrocities in the US, the creation of ‘al Qaeda’ and the global war on terror, the Afghan war, the second Iraq war, and the overthrow and killing of Khadafi, we have had a succession of Oil Wars, either directly caused or promoted by the US and Great Britain. This is always denied, of course.
But 5 years ago – in 2008 – it would have been wildly controversial, or just plain wild to suggest that the US will soon stop being an oil importer: it will be oil self-sufficient. This year, US Dept of Energy and oil industry forecasters say that national oil production will rise at least another 7%, like it did last year, reaching about 11.4 million barrels a day at the end of 2013 – rivalling Saudi and Russian oil output, or even exceeding their output.
By 2020 or soon after it is logical and feasible to predict the US will become entirely self-sufficient for oil and a substantial exporter of natural gas – helped by its continuing near-flatline profile of domestic oil and energy demand, with 2007 still remaining a highwater mark.
Why would the US want oil wars in the Middle East, when it is oil self-sufficient? Is heavy US military presence in the Persian (or Arab) Gulf region a “protection service” it runs for the Europeans, Chinese, Japanese, South Koreans, Indians and any other major oil importer?
The idea of a global oil security protection service – designed by the US and applied by the US and for the moment, still free of charge – surely crops up, ever more frequently, in US political and strategic thinking. President Obama’s very recent announcement of a “zero military option” for Afghanistan – the complete removal of all US fighting forces perhaps this year – is basically a cost/benefit decision. The economic bottom line from staying in Afghanistan, despite the rumors of rare earths, gas, gold and high value buddhist prayer wheel trinkets in simply massive quantities, is negative. Also, no other major Western power wants to pay for the Afghan war. Ergo, the war is terminated.
IRAN WAR – ANOTHER COLLATERAL VICTIM
Despite the rabid tubthumping by Benyamin Netanyahu, and his supporters, lobbyists, activists and others, in Israel, the US, Europe and elsewhere beating the drum of Iran War, this is a failing theme and meme. To be sure, it is regularly recycled in the media by journalists short of supposedly “lurid” copy – because it would concern nuclear war – but the numbers simply do not add. Iran has plenty of oil reserves, certainly, it could produce more, probably, but who exactly needs radioactive crude oil? Iran war would be expensive, oh gosh yes, because the large and highly populated country would need military occupation on a long-term basis. Call it Afghanistan multiplied by 50 or Iraq times 10. Dreams that Iran’s “huge oil reserves” could one day, quite soon, bolster America’s failing reserves and output of oil are now as outdated as a bakelite telephone with a metal dial.
Much digital ink was spilled over the decade of about 1997-2007 on the theme that Peak Oil means Iran’s oil will be “vital to humanity”, that is Wal Mart shoppers and their ilk. Conversely, the oil and gas boom in the US, now subtitled “fracking”, was almost ignored until only the last 3 years. To be sure, a fuzzily defined lobby, including Lady Gaga, Yoko Ono, diehard global warmers and environmentalists say that fracking is close to Satanic, or in Yoko Ono’s gurgling prose “a death camp technology”, but the drilling goes on. Today, there is no longer any space or time for talking about whether or not it will lead to US energy independence: the US overtook Russia to become the world’s biggest natural gas producing nation in 2012, and by about 2014 can be the world’s biggest oil producer. Period.
The curious impacts and ramifications of this massive, unexpected and almost instant energy revolution are still hard to trace, and its results are hard to predict. One is however easy to predict: US Cow Boy Colonialism – or self elected world cop policing of the planet – is now as outdated as that Cold War era bakelite telephone for calling Krutschev’s translator to chat about mutually assured destruction. Another is easy to see and follow at this moment in time: Syria’s civil war and its outcome are of little interest to the US, today. The war’s spillover potential to the Gulf Petro-states with their curious blend of Islamic fundamentalism, dictatorial repression of their populations, and casino capitalism, is probably quite low but in any case, the US needs their oil less and less. Every day less, in fact.
Another predictable impact and sequel is shaping up in the fuzzily defined, always growing Sahel African Islamic insurgency. US participation in military response to “the Islamists” promises or threatens to be low – very low. Policing and paying this post-colonial mess will be the purview and pain of the European nations which set up the mess, but somehow expected the USA to pay for it.The outlook is therefore sombre: the Europeans have a track record of not only walking away from their obligations – but also not even walking up to them in the first place!
With a home-brewed domestic economic crisis of 1930s proportions, desert adventures in low income Africa are surely nice stuff for thriller films and books, but taxpayers will shirk from paying the real thing which will feature tens of thousands of permanently stationed ground troops. The game wasnt worth the candle.
CHINA VERSUS USA
A surprising source – the German Bundesnachrichtendienst - or BND spy agency – in a “restricted circulation report” issued January 17, 2013, says that its readout of the geopolitical results coming from the US energy revolution is not what most persons would predict. It however starts with an unsurprising but blunt-language analysis of the reasons – perhaps the only reason despite the pretexts – for the US being so deeply involved in the Middle East. The BND includes its long and expensive wars in the region, and why the US gives such slavish respect and support to the “highly unpalatable regime” of Saudi Arabia:
For German home consumers of spy stuff with an oil handle, the BND reports that the inevitably high price of oil, given the geopolitical intensity of action by the USA’s rivals inside and outside the region, and the belief that global oil production could only decline, led to post-communist Russia becoming a very dangerous and sombre force on the world stage. It says that the pending bailout of Cyprus which will cost German taxpayers a lot of money, will mainly and firstly be used to bail out rich Russians who placed their “petro money” stashes in Cypriot banks that are now collapsing as yet another blowback from the European and Eurozone crises. Russia, like Saudi Arabia got rich on petrodollars.
US independence from Gulf region oil will finally, and mostly affect the relationship and balance of power between the US and China, says the BND report. It suggests that China does not have enough time to ramp up its own shale gas, and then shale oil production. Struggling to meets its skyrocketing demand for oil, China will need to take about 50% of all the oil produced on the Arabian peninsula, and like the US before it, China’s dependence on Arab and Iranian oil will grow for decades. Due to China presently not having the military power to exert a permanent military presence in the region, and protect the region’s oil transport routes, China will have to kow-tow to the USA, which has the military hardware and the experience of policing the region.
The first and biggest loser in the worldwide geopolitical scramble caused by the US oil boom, will be China, but another if smaller loser will be Europe - including Germany.
The BND’s analysis is not simple: it argues that Putin’s Russia will become more aggressive and hostile to both the US and Europe, resulting in large-scale effort to drive Russian oil and natural gas out of the energy import mix, in Europe. This will cause Europe to much more intensely act to source more of its oil and gas supplies from Africa – notably Sahel Africa. Countries such as Nigeria, however, will be so intensely courted by China that they will break away from their traditional oil supply role to Europe – but will demand Chinese military presence in Africa to compensate. The BND also forecasts very siginficant, even massive increases in African oil and gas supply over the next 15 – 20 years, which will directly harm Russian producers and exporters facing ever-rising production costs in Russia’s frigid and remote northern and Arctic areas.
The bottom line is also not simple: for the BND, the US energy revolution spells the end of dependence of oil importer countries on Russia and OPEC and the end of their ability, with the banksters, brokers and traders who run the world’s oil markets to raise prices at the flick of a wrist. Conversely, it says, the US energy revolution will be slow to economically benefit the US – even if it liberates the US from its role of World Cop and Warmaker and gives the US the perspective of years of peace. Winners, according to the BND, will be those oil importers on a downward track in oil dependence – that is Germany – and those industries which are very energy intensive and can relocate to the US. With time, the BND says, even the USA’s gargantuan trade deficits can be trimmed, because US oil imports, and the barrel price, will both decline, propping up the dollar as a reserve currency for a while longer.
January 16, 2013
BEIRUT – On arrival to Lebanon’s capital city, all seems very functional and normal on the surface, as the city runs business as usual.
Below the surface however, there is a feeling of trepidation, an unspoken collective worry that a city and country who has gradually managed to pick up the pieces from the decades-long conflict which stretched through the 70’s and 80’s, an Israeli occupation of its south, followed by a brief, albeit destructive, ‘33 Day War’ with Israel in 2006 – might once again be dragged into another sub-regional conflict. It goes without saying that police and security services in Lebanon are on high alert.
Tourism Hit Hard
The neighboring conflict has also had a very negative impact on Lebanon’s tourism, keeping away the much-needed outside currency for which many jobs, independent hotels and other SMEs are dependent for their economic survival. But despite the recent problems, Beirut is still moving ahead, still attracting some foreign investment made visible by the hundreds of new building projects springing up all over the city. And as expected, the restaurants seem busy and the cafes are still buzzing.Already there is a tangible presence of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and in the capital Beirut, who have fled from the fighting and breakdown of society currently unfolding next door. The impact of the Syrian conflict on its neighbor Lebanon in such a short space of time is substantial.Latest reports put the number of Syrian refugees recently accumulated in Lebanon at 300,000. This figure is contrasted by the number of Palestinian refugees whose ancestors fled Israel’s ethnic cleanings in 1947-48, still housed in Lebanon today – which is currently estimated at 500,000.
The Issue of Sectarianism
Lebanon is, more than ever, a demonstration of sectarianism par excellence. In of country of 4 million, there is differentiation within the Christian community – Greek Orthodox, Maronite, Melkite, Greek Catholic and Roman Catholic, as well as within and the Muslim community – Sunnis, Shi’ites, and Druze. In addition to this, there is a substantial Armenian community, a large community of foreign nationals from the US and Europe, Asian and African migrant workers, and a small Jewish community. One might also note that the internal rifts between Christian and Muslim factions are almost as great as the polarity separating Christians and Muslim as a whole.That said, it is also the only society in the region where contrasting religions and cultures are completely intermingled and where tolerance has evolved into a virtue.
In its totality, Lebanon consists of some of 19 religions and dozens more ethnic , groups. Many a thesis and book have sought to chronicle (and will continue to argue no doubt) this strive towards cultural détente in the Levant. One such writer is Lebanese-American Professor Walid Phares, who sums up the country’s current alignment as follows:
“Although multi-ethic and multi-religious, Lebanon was viewed by the political establishment as a unitary republic which can only have a majority and a minority. Therefore, and without a mechanism of decentralization, Federation or simply pluralism, that establishment was vying over who really represents the “majority” of all Lebanese, and who reduced to a “minority.” The debate was then about numbers, census, demographic changes, communities who have allegedly increased in numbers because of poverty versus communities who have decreased in numbers because of emigration. But that was a false problem.”Much of the country’s political energy has been expended over the course of the last half century in determining who is the majority and who is the minority, and although the intention was to present a fair solution to representation in its central government, it has also been the source of internal power-politics, which some believe laid down a fertile soil for the sharp upheaval Lebanon experienced from 1975 onward.
Nowhere is the nation’s simmering ‘political ratio’ reflected more than in its own constitution – a document which goes to extraordinary lengths to secure some form of socio-religious balance. The Lebanese constitution mandates that the office President should be held by a Maronite Christian, the Speaker of the House held by a Shi’ite Muslim, and the post of Prime Minister held by a Sunni Muslim.
Many academics such as Phares, feel that the future would be brighter if Lebanon would embrace its multicultural reality and take a feather out of Belgium’s or Canada’s cap, and consider phasing out its historical obsession with ethnic and religious minorities and majorities. In other words, if Lebanon could embrace ‘multiculturalism’, it wouldn’t need the old system. This idea is easier said than done, as vested political interests and blood spilled over decades has, to a large degree, cemented traditional political and social paradigms into place.
Syria Simmering Next Door
What’s foremost on the minds of Lebanese in 2013 is what will happen with Syria, and will Lebanon we dragged to their war. Alongside this, many are left questioning whether or not Lebanon will ever achieve some form of long-term peace with its southern neighbor Israel. The former is the key to its short-term prosperity, while the latter is the key to healing wounds still festering from the wars, as well as the influx of Palestinians it has had to shoulder since 1948. The situation in Syria is made even more complex by the fact that a number of foreign powers with vested interests in Damascus regime change are supplying fighters, arms, logistics, money and mass media support – which has always been a recipe for chaos throughout history. Among these foreign actors vying for position in Syria are Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Turkey, US, UK and France (somehow, it’s all beginning to look more and more like pre-WWI power-politics). Syria has long played an overshadowing role in the stability – and destiny of its smaller neighbor Lebanon. The scares still run deep from Syria’s obtuse and often disjointed alliances with different factions over the course of Lebanon’s Civil Wars in the 70’s and 1980’s. The result of Syria’s hand in those affairs has been a dysfunctional, and often times confusing relationship between Damascus and Beirut, as well as the cause for political dysfunction within Beirut itself. In 2013, however, the alignments are markedly different from previous decades. For starters, Syria, itself, is now a major piece on the global chessboard, not least of all because of its three major allies, all of whom seem to run contrary to ‘central planning‘ in the West – namely, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Iran and now Russia. All interested parties see Syria as the key domino, and this, rightly so, is the cause for much worry right now.
Lebanon has a number of internal issues I’m sure it would prefer to sort out first before being dragged into another sub-regional conflagration – like it’s own central government, its economy, its potentially massive tourism trade, and of course, the Palestinian refugee issue. Yesterday, I was able to travel south the ancient city of Tyre, some 16km from the the Israeli border. The ruins are stunning, but so are the Palestinian refugee camp which runs alongside it. It’s was a little tragic, if not amusing to discover there that some Palestinians in need of rock for building their homes had permanently borrowed some of the antiquity ruins next door. In a certain way, some five millennia of history puts the current protracted upheaval into some perspective.
The recent past certainly has pulled Lebanon down in a spiral of social tension and extreme economic strife, but set against the larger backdrop of successive empires and cultures who have been overlaid on to this small, but historically pivotal region, it’s merely the latest chapter in a much larger epic novel. Many people outside of Lebanon – academics, archeologists, tourists – all long to see Lebanon achieve stability and one day showcase its incredible cultural and historical wealth to the world.In essence, making the difficult transition from a fractured state, to one of stability and eventual prosperity. I talked about this to one long-term Beirut resident, named Jamal, who put it simply, “To do all this, first we need to have peace.”It’s that simple. On paper anyway.….
Writer Patrick Henningsen is a roving correspondent for the UK Column, as well as host of 21st Century Wire TV programme airing Thursdays at 6pm on PSTV SKY channel 191 in the UK.
Patrick Henningsen 21st Century Wire January 5, 2012All signs coming out of Washington, London, Paris and Tel Aviv are pointing towards a pre-emptive military strike against Iran in 2012. But a number of key indicators are also pointing towards an unsuccessful, unlikely operation, whose failure could result in a military and economic tailspin from which the United States and Israel are unlikely to recover. Currently, the US is following a trajectory of past unsuccessful empires that were unable to sustain themselves resulting in an eventual collapse from within. The US is currently running up a budget deficit which is not only threatening to bankrupt its entire economy, but also threatening the hegemony of its sole instrument for advantage and influence on the world stage – the US dollar. Any threat to the supremacy of the dollar is also a threat to the empire. No moral mandate For centuries, even Rome required a moral mandate as it conquered the known world. As was the case with the Iraqi invasion and occupation in 2003, the West and its Axis powers led by Washington will require a multi-nation coalition backed by some form of moral mandate in order to move forward with their plans. Previously, a US-UK campaign against Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction was waged through the UN, and was sufficient at the time in achieving a minimal sway in public opinion needed from both the American and British people, justifying their governments’ foreign policy goals enough to get the war off the ground. But the cost in 2012 of pushing forward under false pretences with both Afghanistan and Iraq in 2003, means that the Axis coalition powers have already played their best hand under the current social democratic system. It is clear now, after multiple failures by the UN’s IAEA to implicate Iran in developing nuclear weapons that a moral mandate is not there, so despite the best efforts of the hawks and FOX News, there cannot be the sway in public opinion needed to move forward militarily. The only remaining technique available to trigger a military conflagration is a false flag attack orchestrated by either the US, Israel or the UK, whereby Iran can be blamed for firing the ‘first shot’. The war has already begun As far as the Islamic Republic of Iran is concerned, the war has already begun. US-backed sanctions imposed against the Central Bank of Iran have been put into effect, even though no proof has actually been presented to the UN justifying such a pre-war move. But sanctions are still the first step in a physical war. The result of the Axis open abuse of the UN’s Security Council resolution process, a number of influential nations have already announced their disregard for these US-backed sanctions. This week, South Korea has announced that despite the White House’s wishes, it will still be buying roughly 10 percent of its crude oil from Iran in 2012. China is also defying the US call for sanctions, stating it will ‘resume its existing trade relationship’ with Iran this year. In 2012, China plans to make Iran its no.2 oil importer, adding to an already existing relationship worth approximately $30 billion per year. The West are in no position to challenge China over Iran at present. This means that the Axis powers will struggle to keep anything near an air-tight international mandate. They may hurt Iran in the short-term, but in the long run, such sanctions will have no teeth. The cost to America and Europe of dragging out this ‘war of words’ The most likely outcome in the first part of 2012, is the West dragging a war of words via press briefings and imperial rhetoric. An increasingly media savvy Iran will naturally follow suit, winning favour at home as the underdog in this imperial clash. The result is a war of the words in the media. But even the cost of this ‘posturing war’ to the US and Europe may be too much to bear at this time. Even the threat of an attack on Iran will automatically drive oil speculators to push up the price of oil futures, which will in turn raise the price of oil at the pump at a time when Western businesses and consumers can hardly afford it. And this series of events is already in motion. The Strait of Hormuz is the world’s busiest oil shipping lane, with 17 million barrels of oil per day passing through. Iranian announcements this week stating they will not only defend their territorial waters, but retaliate by closing the Strait’s shipping lanes if it’s attacked by the US or Israel – have already driven up the global price, with the price of Brent Crude jumping another $5 today to an eight-month high of $111.65 per barrel. CNN reported this week:
Oil prices surged 4% Tuesday, fuelled by continued anxiety over Iran’s growing threat to shut down the Strait of Hormuz after the Iranian military launched a missile test. “It’s mostly about Iran right now,” said Peter Beutel, analyst with energy risk management firm Cameron Hanover. “That’s the most bullish factor.” Oil prices jumped 4.2% to settle at $102.96 a barrel. That’s the highest closing price since May 10, when prices ended the day at $103.88 a barrel.The picture gets progressively worse as the US-Iran face-off continues into 2012. Business Insider released a report today detailing a likely scenario whereby barrel costs skyrocket to $150:
Managers of the Guinness Global Energy fund have warned of an oil price spike to $150 per barrel if Iran were to carry out its threat of closing the Strait of Hormuz and blocking 15% of global oil exports. “The exports transported through the Strait of Hormuz are equivalent to two Saudi Arabia’s or two Russia’s, so the potential impact on the price is massive. We do not think this will happen but we cannot rule it out completely.”Cash windfall for the oil industry OPEC oil producing Gulf nations led by monarchies Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, will certainly benefit financially from any initial UN sanctions as well as any protracted stand-off between the West and Iran fueled by hype, with speculation driving up the price of oil, allowing the producer nations to effectively printing money overnight. GCC foreign companies and joint ventures include Aramco, Harken Oil (Bush family company), Texas Oil, Union Oil of California, and a host of others. Distributors and retail winners include the likes of Exxon, Royal Dutch/Shell, BP, Chevron, Getty, Phillips, Texaco, Mobil, Occidental/Gulf and Amoco. Each of these transnational oil refiners, distributors and retailers can expect a cash windfall and a rise in their all-important share prices, but more importantly, the current crisis will be an opportunity for this cartel - to fix a new, higher price at the pump. Even if the stand-off were to climb down between the West and Iran, and the price per barrel were to somehow drop back below $100, this cartel of oil companies will still work to maintain a new higher overall pricing standard at the pump. Past price relationships between barrel price and pump price will verify this cartel practice. The economic implications, particularly on American and European economies which relies so heavily on petroleum to distribute and deliver staples like food and other day-to-day goods – could be horrific, instigating a wave of inflation on an already inflation-battered US consumer. Likewise, such a crisis will have a negative effect on the value empire’s holy grail – the US dollar. A spike in US prices will also trigger-off that old predictable debate during the coming 2012 US Presidential election cycle – over lifting any moratoriums on domestic oil drilling within the United States (drill baby, drill). If any are lifted, again, it’s yet another win for the oil industry and its shareholders. Risks involved in a regional conflict For a perspective of the Libyan model of intervention, NATO is unlikely to involve itself in a large-scale military operation in Iran. It would prove too costly from both economic and political standpoints. Neither the US or Israel has engaged in a bona fide naval conflict in decades. In the case of the US, owner of the world’s largest navy, its last true naval military affair was WWII. As Great Britain painfully discovered during its costly Falkland Island War adventure, even one rudimentary French-made Exocet Missile launched by Argentina below radar, was enough to not only cripple a major piece of its naval fleet, but also enough of a black eye to nearly derail majority public support for their ill-conceived war effort from the opposition and back-benchers home in London. Similarly, the Iranian defense has the capability to sink not one, but many US Naval ships currently flexing their muscles on the periphery of Iranian territorial waters. Such an event would register with shock and horror in the US public mind, but worse, may be used by Washington hawks to justify a revenge nuclear strike against Iranian civilians. Both Washington and Tel Aviv have already raised the talking point of deploying “tactical nukes” against Iran. Such foreshadowing should not be ignored, as it is often a clear indicator of things to come. Any nuclear conflagration by the US or Israel would most certainly result in a global backlash against the West – at its worst acting as a procession into the hot stages of World War III – or at its very least, re-balkanizing the geopolitical scene into a New Cold War, with the West on one side and Iran, China, Pakistan, and Russia on the other. Watch author Patrick Henningsen in this segment from Al Jazeera’s program Empire: Targeting Iran, as analysts spec out potential wargames between the West and Iran: GCC becomes a target Another factor seldom mentioned by vocal proponents of regime change in Iran, like Hillary Clinton and neocon war hawks in Washington, is that any attack on Iran will most certainly mean that all US allies in the region will become a potential target. This means it is unlikely that those wealthy and developed GCC countries would remain untouched by a conflict happening only a mere hundreds of miles away. Neither would nearby major US military installations in Iraq, Qatar and Afghanistan. All are likely targets in a hot Iranian conflict. Petrol monarchies like the UAE (most notably Abu Dhabi and Dubai), Kuwait and Qatar currently rely heavily on a high standard of living and complete domestic security and stability in order to survive as societies. These fragile petrol monarchies rely on a very thin veneer of law and order – one which props up their marketing image of a luxurious “Middle East destination”. Any Iranian retaliation against these fragile US allies would result in a massive flight of persons, ex-pats and financial capital from the GCC to much safer havens – like Europe, the US, or Singapore. If there is to be a war, it will be the US, UK, France, Israel and their allies who will do the fighting. But the GCC would still need to defend itself from reprisals. In December 2011, the United States announced a $3.48 billion arms deal with the UAE, which included state-of-the-art THAD missile defense systems, as part of a wider American effort to build up missile defenses among Gulf allies to counter Iran. In addition, the US and Saudi Arabia signed a $1.7 billion deal earlier in 2011 to boost the country’s Patriot missiles and Kuwait purchased 209 GEM-T missiles at a cost of $900 million. This regional missile defense strategy will need land-based interceptors to knock out incoming missiles, backed up by a detection network aboard a team of US Navy Aegis-class warships. Although these are significant acquisitions on the part of the GCC, they are by no means blanket protection from an Iranian retaliation, and are most likely the result of America’s arms industry, in its honored tradition, bleeding the GCC of cash with yet more expensive hardware, a hard sell based on fear and war hype. Taking all this into account, and noting the incredibly concentration of wealth in the GCC, it’s hard to see a scenario where the monied interests would tolerate such a risk to their progressive Arabian project that they have spend decades investing in and building from scratch. Post-Bombing Blowback Aside from the GCC risk, it is with near certainty that one could predict a full-scale regional backlash, and genuine uprising around the Muslim world should the US or Israel come good on their threats of a pre-emptive strike against Iran. Iranian civilian deaths could not be avoided, and hence, their would be a blood price to pay by the West in the eyes of many Muslims. Such a pan-Arab uprising would stretch US and Israel capabilities in the region past their ability to maintain control of the situation. The results for Israel could be dire in such a scenario, and it’s only expected that a tit-for-tat would spiral into a long regional conflict. The West’s best chance to weather such a storm would be to overtake, or set up a military base in either Lebanon or Syria in order to neutralize traditional Iranian ally and Israeli opponent – Hezbollah – currently based in Lebanon. Without wiping out Hezbollah’s military capabilities, Israel cannot safely move forward with a unilateral/US attack on Iran. The time table for such a Syria or Lebanese take-down would put any possible attack on Iran well into late 2012, or even 2013 and beyond. A Giant Dirty Bomb If the US or Israel were to hit any of the said Iranian nuclear facilities or reactors, it has the potential to become a giant ‘dirty bomb’. In such a scenario, the civilian deaths could exceed 1,000,000 and a radioactive fall-out would certainly spill over into the surrounding US clients like Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Iraq, Kuwait and possibly as far as Israel/Palestine, Turkey, Georgia, Pakistan, India and parts of southern Europe. Following such a radiological event, the West would certainly be blamed for any and all environmental damage and death which occurs, resulting in a massive loss of international face, followed by massive financial reparations which would ultimately cripple their already weak economies. Worse than this however, it would certainly throw the global economy into a long economic depression. Most sane analysts would agree, this is a risk too high, and a price too high to pay. So the real question remains then, are analysts in Washington and Tel Aviv sane enough to make policy decisions? An Israeli driven effort Like previous AIPAC campaigns to hit Iraq, the current drive to isolate and demonize Iran has been cooked up in the Israeli lobby’s kitchen. Due to a revolving wheel of campaign contributions to each and every US Congress and Senate candidate, ‘putting Israel first’ has become a top priority for any politician with any ambition in Washington. If any official steps out of line and criticizes Israel, AIPAC functionaries like the ADL and SPLC are sprung into action and a PR campaign is usually waged against the offending public official. The Israeli lobby will claim that a pre-emptive strike on Iran is needed because Iran has stated that it wishes to, “Wipe Israel off the map”. Most war hawks would be surprised when they learn that such words were never actually spoken by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Shouldn’t this revelation change the entire Israeli perspective? It should, but it doesn’t. Regardless of any evidence to the contrary, the lobby and its media partners will continue repeating their faux version of the event as if it were something that actually happened, or spelled a genuine threat to the physical state of Israel. Likewise, US politicians will in turn acknowledge the lobby’s version of events, themselves repeating the very same faux threat – as if this somehow justify plans for a pre-emptive strike on Iran. What is most important here again, is that at no point during any of this political maneuvering, could either the US, or Israel produce any compelling evidence at all that Iran has, or is near possessing a nuclear weapon in their military arsenal. Even if they could fabricate such evidence to start a war, there are simply too many pieces out of place on the grand chessboard right now to indicate an imminent attack on Iran in the spring or summer of 2012. So far, however, the clear winner is the oil industry and the OPEC nations, winning a shift in wealth from the global middle class into the hands of petrol monarchies and oil company shareholders.