The 5th Political Theory – Introduction Pt.2

(Update: new content on this topic will be posted on my new political blog here)

Geo-political realities, artificial borders and ‘constructive instability’

It’s a tragedy when the collective imagination of a people becomes a sacred reality, in relation to the existing political geography, as if it were destined to be this way, or as if it was some kind of immovable, untouchable, unalterable barrier. As a result of this new collective consciousness, wars are fought over those borders as easily as they would sing their national anthems.

The Fifth Political Theory is a revolt against all those inherited religious, sectarian and tribal conflicts, still present in the collective consciousness of the region. Some would say that the future is hostage to the crimes, stupidity, ambitions and fanaticisms of our ancestors, so when moving forward, we must take those things into consideration!

That’s nonsense! An enlightened mind sees the opposite to be true: what must be built is a future of revolt against all that stupidity and all those inherited conflicts and divisions. A revolt against those who have drawn our identities in the days of fanaticism, and defined our understanding in the days of devolution.

We shouldn’t blame the laymen for this tragedy, as much as we should blame the intellectuals, religious scholars and political leaders. These groups of people claim to be aware of the realities of matters and the affairs happening around them, having an explanation ready for anything that occurs, because they watch the news and read political analyses. Such is the shallowness of these groups, that they are ignorant of the complex global strategies of creating events in order to affect collective awareness and thinking. ‘The powers that be’ do this through the creation of ideas to create or influence events, or through the observation of the dynamics of social interaction and how it can be manipulated, or the influencing of collective consciousness through the control of media and the tools used to analyse global events. In this way, they are able to control people’s behaviours and the outcome of events.

That is how conflicts and wars are managed behind the scenes. Everyone is made to believe they are playing an active role, while in fact they are mere tools in someone else’s master plan.

The strategy of Constructive Instability

In 2005 the executive director of the influential Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Robert Satloff, wrote an open letter to the under-secretary of state for public diplomacy, Karen Hughes, with this recommendation: “Banish the terms ‘Arab world’ and ‘Muslim world’ from America’s diplomatic lexicon; be as country-specific as possible, in both word and deed. Radical Islamists want to erase borders and create a supranational world where the lines of demarcation run between the ‘house of Islam’ and the ‘house of war’ [meaning lands in which Islamic law is not applied]. Don’t cede the battlefield to them without a fight”. Satloff dubbed the strategy “constructive instability” and insists that the search for stability has been a feature of US policy in the region. “In other regions . . . US strategists debated the wisdom of stability . . . but George W Bush was the first president to argue that stability was itself an obstacle to the advancement of US interests in the Middle East… In this effort the US has employed a range of coercive and non-coercive measures, from military force to implement regime change in Iraq and Afghanistan, to a mix of carrots-and-sticks first to isolate Yasser Arafat and then to encourage new, peaceful, accountable Palestinian leadership; to the gentle (and increasingly less so) use of the bully pulpit to nudge Egypt and Saudi Arabia down the reformist path”.[1]

The most important information contained in this strategy is the dynamics of interaction or influence, across political borders, from Lebanon to the rest of the Arabic world, and vice-versa. It includes information on how media and politics work together dynamically, how military action works with the tools of political analysis, how political ideas work with religious and ideological thinking, and how national identities interact with sub-identities (religious and sectarian). Satloff spoke in the policy paper about a ‘Beirut endgame’ and Lebanon almost exclusively, as if it was a key starting point from which to target the rest of the region. The goal is to reformulate the collective awareness in the Middle East, and as a result to redraw its political maps, and to define the new political standpoints of the countries vis-a-vis themselves and with the West. [2]

There are various reasons why Lebanon is the ideal starting point to re-draw the regional map:

a) Lebanon is a country with multiple sects and religious denominations, like some of its neighbours, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine and Syria in particular, and any conflict between those groups will have a knock-on effect on the region.

b) Lebanon has a large Palestinian refugee population, and any instability in that country could affect the Palestinian refugee cause and taken advantage of.

c) Lebanon has a resistance, and anything that negatively affects it will affects the resistance axis.

d) Lebanon has a ‘free and independent media’, and a public that interacts with its media, which would undoubtedly cause neighbouring countries to interact with it as well. And through this media, we would be able to influence the general opinions of those neighbouring countries.

e) Lebanon holds parliamentary elections, which can be used to call others to replicate this model.

What Satloff didn’t mention in his study, is the effect of political assassinations and armed conflict (as has been the case in Lebanon) has had on the collective consciousness in Lebanon and the region. Especially, since this is something the US has made use of for some time, in order to influence the course of events in many countries.

Satloff’s policy document explicitly admits that there exists a strategy of instability, and admits that there is a complex plan that combines political and intellectual thinking, military strategy and media analysis, in the same way a molecular compound is broken apart and re-arranged to form a new compound.

In the face of such detailed strategic planning, we should ask ourselves: have we devised a response to such plans with a similar counter-strategy?

Have we mobilised politically and through social movements and the media in a way to be effective regionally across all borders? Have we cured our maladies, so as not to turn into obedient tools in the hands of those planning for ‘constructive instability’?

————————————————————————–

[1] Charara, Walid; Le Monde Diplomatique, ‘Constructive instability‘,  07/07/2005.

[2] Satloff, Robert; Assessing the Bush Administration’s Policy of ‘Constructive Instability’ (Part I): Lebanon and Syria, March 2005. And: Assessing the Bush Administration’s Policy of ‘Constructive Instability’ (Part II): Regional Dynamics‘.

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Iraq and Iran’s Oil Pipeline Politics

by: Elie Chalhoub, Al Akhbar English

Published Thursday, March 14, 2013

Away from the region’s headlines and wars, plans are being methodically put in place that could redraw the strategic map of the Middle East, erasing one of the region’s key colonial-era features.

Recent moves by Iran and Iraq to press ahead with the construction of a series of new oil and gas export pipelines could be attributed to Iran’s bid to counter international sanctions. The planned pipelines could also reflect Iraq’s economic recovery or perhaps pressure from oil companies for new export routes.

There may be some truth to these explanations. But a closer look makes clear that these schemes are related.

The short-term aims are evident. They include trying to lure Jordan into the region’s “resistance” axis and reducing American influence on Iran’s eastern neighbor Pakistan.

But the long-term objective is more ambitious: to connect the Middle East by way of a web of economic ties that binds them into a regional partnership whose mainstays are Iran and Iraq.

Baghdad is making it increasingly clear where it stands in terms of its regional alignment. In recent months, it has openly supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Damascus, clashed with Ankara, reached out to Cairo, and been at odds with Riyadh and Doha.

The pipeline schemes also underscore Iraq’s chosen course. The country has opted to assume a role consistent with its historical legacy and its economic and strategic clout.

Iran Lures Pakistan

The latest move in this regard was Monday’s pipeline inauguration by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari. The pipeline will transport Iranian natural gas to Asian markets via Pakistani territory, providing Pakistan with desperately needed energy supplies.

Negotiations between the two countries began almost a decade ago, but were frequently stalled due to opposition from the US. Washington has long sought to thwart any scheme for transporting oil and gas from or through Iran.During that period, Iran completed its section of the pipeline from the Pars gas field in the south of the country to the Pakistani border town of Multan. It has a capacity of 750 million cubic meters per day.

Tehran has undertaken to cover a third of the $1.5 billion cost of the 780-km Pakistani section of the pipeline, with the Pakistani government funding the rest.

Wooing Jordan and Egypt

Meanwhile, Iraq and Jordan have begun work on building parallel oil and gas pipelines connecting southern Iraq to the Red Sea port of Aqaba, with the possibility of extending the link to Egypt.

The 1,690-km line, which will take two to three years to complete, is to run from Basra to Haditha west of Baghdad then into Jordanian territory and south to Aqaba. Contracts for the Jordanian portion are to be awarded to companies on a build-operate-transfer basis, with ownership reverting to the Iraqi government after 20 years.

Under the agreement, the oil pipeline will provide Jordan with 150,000 barrels of Iraqi oil per day for domestic use at preferential prices (around $20 dollars per barrel below market). Apart from putting an end to Jordan’s chronic fuel crises, the scheme is expected to benefit the country to the tune of $3 billion per year.

A planned second phase of the project envisions the building of a western spur from Haditha through Syrian territory to pump 1.25 million barrels of oil per day to the Syrian Mediterranean port of Banias.

Sustaining Syria

Meanwhile, plans are being developed for a 5,000-km link to transport Iranian gas to Iraq and Syria and on into Europe, providing Iran with an export route that bypasses the Gulf.

Iran and Iraq are due to sign an agreement on the first phase of the project on 20 March. This would enable Iran to pump 25 million cubic meters of gas a day to Iraq. Proposed extensions to the line envision it supplying Jordan and Lebanon with gas.

Iran shares the Pars field – the world’s largest gas field with an estimated 14 trillion cubic meters of gas, around 8 percent of total proven world reserves – with Qatar. The emirate recently unveiled its own plans for a pipeline to carry gas through Saudi, Jordanian, Syrian and Turkish territory to Europe.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

The 15 Oil And Gas Pipelines That Are Changing The World’s Strategic Map

The geopolitical landscape of the world is being remade by the increasing demand for energy resources from rising powers like China and India and preserved leaders, like the United States and Europe.

That demand is resulting in a massive expansion of oil and gas delivery projects which are redrawing the battle-lines of resource conflicts, both in war and in diplomacy.

The oil and gas business is taking advantage of the demand, and we have a rundown of the key pipelines reshaping the global economy.

 

US Influence: TAPI Pipeline

US Influence: TAPI Pipeline

Start: Turkmenistan

Delivery: India

What Will It Carry: Gas

Completion Date: Unknown

Strategic Impact: The key gas pipeline in opposition the Iranian offer in the region. Backed by the U.S. government, this pipeline would further ostracize the Iranians economically by exporting gas to the key emerging economy of India, without involving Iran.

Source: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Wiki

North America: Denali Pipeline

North America: Denali Pipeline

Start: Alaska north slope

Delivery: Alberta, Canada, then onto the American mid-west

What Will It Carry: Natural Gas

Completion Date: Unknown

Strategic Impact: While two major groups are still competing over the project, the impact would be significant for the growth of the natural gas industry in Alaska, further reliance on the energy source in the U.S., and the potential involvement of Russian gas giant Gazprom in the project.

Source: Wiki, Denali

North America: Keystone Pipeline

North America: Keystone Pipeline

Start: Alberta, Canada

Delivery: Illinois and Oklahoma

What Will It Carry: Oil

Completion Date: 2009-2012

Strategic Impact: Extensive use of shale oil on North American continent. Allows for reduced need of oil from non-North American sources. Significant business for U.S. refineries.

Source: TransCanada, Wiki

European Independence: IGI Poseidon Pipeline

European Independence: IGI Poseidon Pipeline

Start: Greece

Delivery: Italy

What Will It Carry: Gas

Completion Date: 2012

Strategic Impact: Provides a connector for gas traveling through other Southern European projects to Italy. Depending on which pipelines it is eventually connected to, could be in the interest of Russia or another supplier.

Source: IGI Poseidon, Wiki

Russian Dominance: Mozdok Pipeline

Russian Dominance: Mozdok Pipeline

Start: Azerbaijan

Delivery: North Ossetia

What Will It Carry: Gas

Completion Date: Operational this year

Strategic Impact: The strategic impact of this site is already being felt, as Russia went to war in the region in 2008. The pipeline also passes through Chechnya, a disputed Russian territory.

Source: Wiki

Russian Dominance: Altai Pipeline

Russian Dominance: Altai Pipeline

Start: Russia

Delivery: China

What Will It Carry: Gas

Completion Date: 2011-2015

Strategic Impact: This pipeline provides a direct link between the Russian natural gas industry, specifically Gazprom, and the Chinese buyer. It creates a further strategic dependence for China on Russia for its energy needs, which could lead to further diplomatic tightening through organizations like the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and in combined actions on the UN Security Council.

Source: Wiki, Oil Capital

Russian Dominance: South Stream

Russian Dominance: South Stream

Start: Russia

Delivery: Austria, throughout Southern Eastern Europe

What Will It Carry: Gas

Completion Date: 2015

Strategic Impact: Russia’s move to continue gas dominance over Europe, the pipeline is to offer gas directly to Europe, while bypassing the often troublesome Ukrainian middleman.

Source: South-Stream.info, Wiki

Russian Dominance: Nord Stream

Russian Dominance: Nord Stream

Start: Russia

Delivery: Germany

What Will It Carry: Gas

Completion Date: 2011

Strategic Impact: A sign of a broadening energy partnership between Germany and Russia, this keeps Russia in the European game in a strong way. And also gives them a voice in Brussels via Germany.

Source: Nord-Stream.com, Wiki

Against Russia: TransCaspian Pipeline

Against Russia: TransCaspian Pipeline

Start: Turkmenistan

Delivery: Azerbaijan

What Will It Carry: Natural Gas

Completion Date: Unknown

Strategic Impact: Serves as another route for Central Asian countries to avoid going through Russia to get to Europe to deliver their natural gas reserves. European markets therefore are serviced from more sources, reducing Russia’s grip on the continent.

Source: Wiki, SRAS.org

Against Russia: White Stream

Against Russia: White Stream

Start: Georgia

Delivery: Romania, and then on to Western Europe

What Will It Carry: Gas

Completion Date: 2016

Strategic Impact: Circumventing Russian dominance of gas markets, this pipeline would further compete with Russian power and give great E.U. connectivity to its neighbor, Georgia.

Source: Emportal.rs, Wiki

European Independence: Nabucco

European Independence: Nabucco

Start: Turkey

Delivery: Austria, South Eastern Europe

What Will It Carry: Gas

Completion Date: 2015

Strategic Impact: Reducing the influence of Russia in European energy markets by supplying a link for the continent to Central Asian gas supplies. Broadens Turkish partnerships with Europe, and could eventually make use of Iranian gas reserves.

Source: Nabucco-pipeline.com, Wiki

SCO Growth: Kazakhstan-China Pipeline

SCO Growth: Kazakhstan-China Pipeline

Start: Kazakhstan

Delivery: China

What Will It Carry: Oil

Completion Date: Completed, further portion in 2011

Strategic Impact: China’s first direct oil import link, the pipeline serves to broaden ties between China and its Central Asian neighbors. These energy moves feed into a broader economic story evidenced by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s growth in the region.

Source: SRAS.org, Wiki

Russia-China Partnership: ESPO Pipeline

Russia-China Partnership: ESPO Pipeline

Start: Russia

Delivery: China (potentially also Japan)

What Will It Carry: Oil

Completion Date: 2014

Strategic Impact: ESPO has the impact of tying China into its strategic partnership with Russia as it draws more from its neighbor’s energy reserves. If Japan remains out of the equation, it may serve to bolster the China-Russia partnership, the SCO organization they both lead, and continue to ostracize US allied Japan.

Source: Reuters, Wiki

Iran: Pars Pipeline

Iran: Pars Pipeline

Start: Iran

Delivery: Turkey

What Will It Carry: Gas

Completion Date: 2014

Strategic Impact: Would give Iran access to European markets, competing with Russia for the gas trade. Completion would apply a strategic broadening between Turkey and Iran, as well as a reduction of U.S. strength in the region.

Source: lngpedia.com, Wiki

Iran-Pakistan-India Pipeline

Iran-Pakistan-India Pipeline

Start: Iran

Delivery: India and Pakistan

What Will It Carry: Gas

Completion Date: 2015

Strategic Impact: A definite power move for Iran if it pulls it off. With the potential to serve both Pakistan and India, both strategic U.S. partners with large populations and growing economies, with natural gas could broaden its protections from sanctions and keep its regime safe.

Source: Harvard.edu, Wiki

Syria, Turkey, Israel and a Greater Middle East Energy War

…by F. William Engdahl 

Pipeline Roulette

On October 3, 2012 the Turkish military launched repeated mortar shellings inside Syrian territory.

The military action, which was used by the Turkish military, conveniently, to establish a ten-kilometer wide no-man’s land “buffer zone” inside Syria, was in response to the alleged killing by Syrian armed forces of several Turkish civilians along the border.

There is widespread speculation that the one Syrian mortar that killed five Turkish civilians well might have been fired by Turkish-backed opposition forces intent on giving Turkey a pretext to move militarily, in military intelligence jargon, a ‘false flag’ operation.[i]

Turkey’s Muslim Brotherhood-friendly Foreign Minister, the inscrutable Ahmet Davutoglu, is the government’s main architect of Turkey’s self-defeating strategy of toppling its former ally Bashar Al-Assad in Syria.[ii]

According to one report since 2006 under the government of Islamist Sunni Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his pro-Brotherhood AKP party, Turkey has become a new center for the Global Muslim Brotherhood.[iii] A well-informed Istanbul source relates the report that before the last Turkish elections, Erdogan’s AKP received a “donation” of $10 billion from the Saudi monarchy, the heart of world jihadist Salafism under the strict fundamentalist cloak of Wahabism. [iv]

Since the 1950’s when the CIA brought leading members in exile of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to Saudi Arabia there has been a fusion between the Saudi brand of Wahabism and the aggressive jihadist fundamentalism of the Brotherhood.[v]

The Turkish response to the single Syrian mortar shell, which was met with an immediate Syrian apology for the incident, borders on a full-scale war between two nations which until last year were historically, culturally, economically and even in religious terms, closest of allies.

That war danger is ever more serious. Turkey is a full member of NATO whose charter explicitly states, an attack against one NATO state is an attack against all. The fact that nuclear-armed Russia and China both have made defense of the Syrian Bashar al-Assad regime a strategic priority puts the specter of a World War closer than most of us would like to imagine.

In a December 2011 analysis of the competing forces in the region, former CIA analyst Philip Giraldi made the following prescient observation:

NATO – Has it become a geopolitical energy army now?

NATO is already clandestinely engaged in the Syrian conflict, with Turkey taking the lead as U.S. proxy. Ankara’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has openly admitted that his country is prepared to invade as soon as there is agreement among the Western allies to do so.

The intervention would be based on humanitarian principles, to defend the civilian population based on the “responsibility to protect” doctrine that was invoked to justify Libya. Turkish sources suggest that intervention would start with creation of a buffer zone along the Turkish-Syrian border and then be expanded. Aleppo, Syria’s largest and most cosmopolitan city, would be the crown jewel targeted by liberation forces.

Unmarked NATO warplanes are arriving at Turkish military bases close to Iskenderum on the Syrian border, delivering weapons from the late Muammar Gaddafi’s arsenals as well as volunteers from the Libyan Transitional National Council who are experienced in pitting local volunteers against trained soldiers, a skill they acquired confronting Gaddafi’s army.

Iskenderum is also the seat of the Free Syrian Army, the armed wing of the Syrian National Council. French and British special forces trainers are on the ground, assisting the Syrian rebels while the CIA and U.S. Spec Ops are providing communications equipment and intelligence to assist the rebel cause, enabling the fighters to avoid concentrations of Syrian soldiers. [vi]

____________________________________

Israel mobile artillery on the move during exercise

Little noted was the fact that at the same day as Turkey launched her over-proportional response in the form of a military attack on Syrian territory, one which was still ongoing as of this writing, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) undertook what was apparently an action to divert Syria’s attention from Turkey and to create the horror scenario of a two-front war just as Germany faced in two world wars.

The IDF made a significant troop buildup on the strategic Golan Heights bordering the two countries, which, since Israel took it in the 1967 war, has been an area of no tension.[vii]

The unfolding new phase of direct foreign military intervention by Turkey, supported de facto by Israel’s right-wing Netanyahu regime, curiously enough follows to the letter a scenario outlined by a prominent Washington neo-conservative think tank, the Brookings Institution.

In their March 2012 strategy white paper, Saving Syria: Assessing Options for Regime Change, Brookings geo-political strategists laid forth a plan to misuse so-called humanitarian concern over civilian deaths, as in Libya in 2011, to justify an aggressive military intervention into Syria, something not done before this.[viii]

The Brookings report states the following scenario:

Israel could posture forces on or near the Golan Heights and, in so doing, might divert regime forces from suppressing the opposition. This posture may conjure fears in the Assad regime of a multi-front war, particularly if Turkey is willing to do the same on its border and if the Syrian opposition is being fed a steady diet of arms and training.[ix]

This seems to be precisely what is unfolding in the early days of October 2012. The authors of the Brookings report are tied to some of the more prominent neo-conservative warhawks behind the Bush-Cheney war on Iraq.

Their sponsor, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, includes current foreign policy advisers to Republican right-wing candidate Mitt Romney, the open favorite candidate of Israel’s Netanyahu.

Haim Saban – A lot to smile about

The Brookings Saban Center for Middle East Policy which issued the report, is the creation of a major donation from Haim Saban, an Israeli-American media billionaire who also owns the huge German Pro7 media giant.

Haim Saban is open about his aim to promote specific Israeli interests with his philanthropy. The New York Times once called Saban, “a tireless cheerleader for Israel.”

Saban told the same newspaper in an interview in 2004, “I’m a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel.” [x] The scholars at Saban as well as its board have a clear neo-conservative and Likud party bias.

They include, past or present, Shlomo Yanai, former head of military planning, Israel Defense Forces; Martin Indyk, former US Ambassador to Israel and founder of the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a major Likud policy lobby in Washington.

Visiting fellows have included Avi Dicter, former head of Israel’s Shin Bet; Yosef Kupperwasser, former Head, Research Department, Israeli Defense Force’s Directorate of Military Intelligence.

Resident scholars also include Bruce Riedel, a 30 year CIA Middle East expert and Obama Afghan adviser; [xi] Kenneth Pollack, another former CIA Middle East expert who was indicted in an Israel espionage scandal when he was a national security official with the Bush Administration. [xii]

Why would Israel want to get rid of the “enemy she knows,” Bashar al-Assad, for a regime controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood? Then Israel’s security would seemingly be threatened by the emergence of hard-line Muslim Brotherhood regimes in Egypt to her south and Syria to her North, perhaps soon also in Jordan.

The geopolitical dimension

 

Will the little people fight and die over oil for the big people?

The significant question to be asked at this point is what could bind Israel, Turkey, Qatar in a form of unholy alliance on the one side, and Assad’s Syria, Iran, Russia and China on the other side, in such deadly confrontation over the political future of Syria? One answer is energy geopolitics.

What has yet to be fully appreciated in geopolitical assessments of the Middle East is the dramatically rising importance of the control of natural gas to the future of not only Middle East gas producing countries, but also of the EU and Eurasia including Russia as producer and China as consumer.

Natural gas is rapidly becoming the “clean energy” of choice to replace coal and nuclear electric generation across the European Union, 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.”

The only realistic way 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. Gas reduces CO2 emissions by 50-60% over coal.[xiii]

Given that the economic cost of using gas instead of wind or other alternative energy forms is dramatically lower, gas is rapidly becoming the energy of demand for the EU, the biggest emerging gas market in the world.

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.

_______________________

Syria-Iran-Iraq Gas pipeline

Is our navy fighting for oil interests?

In July 2011, as the NATO and Gulf states’ destabilization operations against Assad in Syria were in full swing, the governments of Syria, Iran and Iraq signed an historic gas pipeline energy agreement which went largely unnoticed amid CNN reports of the Syrian unrest.

The pipeline, envisioned to cost $10 billion and take three years to complete, would run from the Iranian Port Assalouyeh near the South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf, to Damascus in Syria via Iraq territory. Iran ultimately plans then to extend the pipeline from Damascus to Lebanon’s Mediterranean port where it would be delivered to EU markets. Syria would buy Iranian gas along with a current Iraqi agreement to buy Iranian gas from Iran’s part of South Pars field.

South Pars, whose gas reserves lie in a huge field that is divided between Qatar and Iran in the Gulf, is believed to be the world’s largest single gas field. [xiv] De facto it would be a Shi’ite gas pipeline from Shi’ite Iran via Shi’ite-majority Iraq onto Shi’ite-friendly Alawite Al-Assad’s Syria.

Iran and Qatar – head to head – but with Qatar having big brother

Adding to the geopolitical drama is the fact that the South Pars gas find lies smack in the middle of the territorial divide in the Persian Gulf between Shi’ite Iran and the Sunni Salafist Qatar.

Qatar also just happens to be a command hub for the Pentagon’s US Central Command, headquarters of United States Air Forces Central, No. 83 Expeditionary Air Group RAF, and the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing of the USAF.

In brief Qatar, in addition to owning and hosting the anti-Al-Assad TV station Al-Jazeera, which beams anti-Syria propaganda across the Arab world, Qatar is tightly linked to the US and NATO military presence in the Gulf.

Qatar apparently has other plans with their share of the South Pars field than joining up with Iran, Syria and Iraq to pool efforts.

Qatar has no interest in the success of the Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline, which would be entirely independent of Qatar or Turkey transit routes to the opening EU markets.

In fact it is doing everything possible to sabotage it, up to and including arming Syria’s rag-tag “opposition” fighters, many of them Jihadists sent in from other countries including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Libya.

Further adding to Qatar’s determination to destroy the Syria-Iran-Iraq gas cooperation is the discovery in August 2011 by Syrian exploration companies of a huge new gas field in Qara near the border with Lebanon and near to the Russian-leased Naval port of Tarsus on the Syrian Mediterranean.[xv]

Pepe Escobar

Any export of Syrian or Iranian gas to the EU would go through the Russian-tied port of Tarsus. According to informed Algerian sources, the new Syrian gas discoveries, though the Damascus government is downplaying it, are believed to equal or exceed those of Qatar.

As Asia Times’ knowledgeable analyst Pepe Escobar pointed out in a recent piece, Qatar’s scheme calls for export of its huge gas reserves via Jordan’s Gulf of Aqaba, a country where a Muslim Brotherhood threat to the dictatorship of the King is also threatening.

The Emir of Qatar has apparently cut a deal with the Muslim Brotherhood in which he backs their international expansion in return for a pact of peace at home in Qatar.

A Muslim Brotherhood regime in Jordan and also in Syria, backed by Qatar, would change the entire geopolitics of the world gas market suddenly and decisively in Qatar’s favor and to the disadvantage of Russia, Syria, Iran and Iraq. [xvi] That would also be a staggering negative blow to China.

As Escobar points out,

“it’s clear what Qatar is aiming at: to kill the US$10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline, a deal that was clinched even as the Syria uprising was already underway. Here we see Qatar in direct competition with both Iran (as a producer) and Syria (as a destination), and to a lesser extent, Iraq (as a transit country). It’s useful to remember that Tehran and Baghdad are adamantly against regime change in Damascus.”

He adds, “if there’s regime change in Syria – helped by the Qatari-proposed invasion – things get much easier in Pipelineistan terms. A more than probable Muslim Brotherhood (MB) post-Assad regime would more than welcome a Qatari pipeline. And that would make an extension to Turkey much easier.” [xvii]

_____________________________

The Israeli Gas dilemma

 

Was the peak oil hype nothing more than a price rigging psy ops?

Further complicating the entire picture is the recent discovery of huge offshore Israeli natural gas resources.

The Tamar natural gas field off the coast of northern Israel is expected to begin yielding gas for Israel’s use in late 2012. The game-changer was a dramatic discovery in late 2010 of an enormous natural gas field offshore of Israel in what geologists call the Levant or Levantine Basin.

In October 2010 Israel discovered a massive “super-giant” gas field offshore in what it declares is its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). [xviii]

The find is some 84 miles west of the Haifa port and three miles deep. They named it Leviathan after the Biblical sea monster.

Three Israeli energy companies in cooperation with the Houston Texas Noble Energy announced initial estimates that the field contained 16 trillion cubic feet of gas—making it the world’s biggest deep-water gas find in a decade, adding more discredit to “peak oil” theories that the planet is about to see dramatic and permanent shortages of oil, gas and coal.

To put the number in perspective, that one gas field, Leviathan, would hold enough reserves to supply Israel’s gas needs for 100 years.[xix]

Energy self-sufficiency had eluded the state of Israel since its founding in 1948. Abundant oil and gas exploration had repeatedly been undertaken with meager result. Unlike its energy-rich Arab neighbors, Israel seemed out of luck.

Then in 2009 Israel’s Texas exploration partner, Noble Energy, discovered the Tamar field in the Levantine Basin some 50 miles west of Israel’s port of Haifa with an estimated 8.3 tcf (trillion cubic feet) of highest quality natural gas. Tamar was the world’s largest gas discovery in 2009.

Israel discovered huge gas in Levantine Basin with Noble Energy. Source: Noble Energy map

At the time, total Israeli gas reserves were estimated at only 1.5 tcf. Government estimates were that Israel’s sole operating field, Yam Tethys, which supplies about 70 percent of the country’s natural gas, would be depleted within three years.

With Tamar, prospects began to look considerably better. Then, just a year after Tamar, the same consortium led by Noble Energy struck the largest gas find in its decades-long history at Leviathan in the same Levantine geological basin. Present estimates are that the Leviathan field holds at least 17 tcf of gas. Israel went from a gas famine to feast in a matter of months.[xx]

Now Israel faces a strategic and very dangerous dilemma. Naturally Israel is none too excited to see al-Assad’s Syria, linked to Israel’s arch foe Iran and Iraq and Lebanon, out-compete an Israeli gas export to the EU markets. This could explain why Israel’s Netanyahu government has been messing inside Syria in the anti-al-Assad forces.

However, a Muslim Brotherhood rule in Syria led by the organization around Mohammad Shaqfah would confront Israel with far more hostile neighbors now that the Muslim Brotherhood coup by Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi has put a hostile regime on Israel’s southern border.

Dalia Mogahed

It is no secret that there is enmity bordering on hate between Netanyahu and the Obama Administration. The Obama White House and US State Department openly back the Muslim Brotherhood regime changes in the Middle East.

Hillary Clinton’s meeting with Turkey’s Davutoglu in August this year was reportedly aimed at pushing Turkey to escalate its military intervention into Syria, but without direct US support owing to US election politics of wanting to avoid involvement in a new Middle East debacle.[xxi]

State Department Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin has been accused by several Republican Congress Representatives of ties to organizations controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Dalia Mogahed, Obama’s appointee to the Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, also a member of the US advisory council of the Department of Homeland Security, is openly linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and an open foe of Israel as well as calling for the toppling of Syria’s al-Assad. [xxii]

Obama’s Washington definitely seems to be backing the Muslim Brotherhood horse in the race for control of the gas flows of the Middle East.

__________________________________

And the Russian role

 

Washington is walking a temporary tightrope hoping to weaken al-Assad fatally while not appearing directly involved. Russia for its part is playing a life and death game for the future of its most effective geopolitical lever—its role as the leading natural gas supplier to the EU.

This year Russia’s state-owned Gazprom began delivery of Russian gas to northern Germany via Nord Stream gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea from a port near St. Petersburg.

Strategically vital now for the future role of Russia as an EU gas supplier, is its ability to play a strategic role in exploiting the new-found gas reserves of its former Cold war client state, Syria. Moscow has long been engaged in promoting its South Stream gas pipeline into Europe as an alternative to the Washington Nabucco pipeline which was designed to leave Moscow out in the cold. [xxiii]

Already Gazprom is the largest natural gas supplier to the EU. Gazprom with Nord Stream and other lines plans to increase its gas supply to Europe this year by 12% to 155 billion cubic meters. It now controls 25% of the total European gas market and aims to reach 30% with completion of South Stream and other projects.

Rainer Seele, chairman of Germany’s Wintershall, the Gazprom partner in Nord Stream, suggested the geopolitical thinking behind the decision to join South Stream:

“In the global race against Asian countries for raw materials, South Stream, like Nord Stream, will ensure access to energy resources which are vital to our economy.” But rather than Asia, the real focus of South Stream lies to the West.

The ongoing battle between Russia’s South Stream and the Washington-backed Nabucco is intensely geopolitical. The winner will hold a major advantage in the future political terrain of Europe”.[xxiv]

Erdogan – Knows Turkey is at the cross roads of history

Now  a major new option of Syria as a major source for Russian-managed gas flows to the EU has emerged. If al-Assad survives, Russia will be in the position as savior to play a decisive role in developing and exploiting the Syrian gas.

Israel, where Russia also has major cards to play, could theoretically shift to back a Russian-Syrian-Iraqi-Iran gas consortium were Israel and Iran to reach some modus vivendi on the nuclear and other issues, not impossible were the political constellation in Israel to change after the coming elections.

Turkey, which is presently in a deep internal battle between Davutoglu and President Gül on the one side and Erdogan on the other, is dependent on Russia’s Gazprom for some 40% of gas to its industry.

Were Davutoglu and his faction to lose, Turkey could play a far more constructive role in the region as transit country for Syrian and Iranian gas.

The battle for the future control of Syria is at the heart of this enormous geopolitical war and tug of war. Its resolution will have enormous consequences for either world peace or endless war and conflict and slaughter.

NATO member Turkey is playing with fire as is Qatar’s Emir, along with Israel’s Netanyahu and NATO members France and USA. Natural gas is the flammable ingredient that is fueling this insane scramble for energy in the region.

______________________________

  • F. William Engdahl is author of Myths, Lies and Oil Wars. He may be contacted through www.williamengdahl.com .

Editing: Jim W. Dean

[i] Reuters, Turkish artillery strikes on Syria continue for second day: Several Syrian soldiers killed in overnight attack; Turkey launched artillery strikes after mortar bomb fired from Syria killed five Turkish civilians, October 4, 2012. Accessed in http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/turkish-artillery-strikes-on-syria-continue-for-second-day-1.468142

[ii]  Hüsnü Mahalli, Davutoglu  Betting on the Fall of Assad, Al Akhbar English, August 7, 2012, accessed in http://english.al-akhbar.com.

[iii] Steven G. Merley, Turkey, the Global Muslim Brotherhood, and the Gaza Flotilla, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2011, accessed in http://www.jcpa.org/text/Turkey_Muslim_Brotherhood.pdf. See also for more ties between Erdogan’s Turkish AKP and the Musllim Brotherhood, GlobalMB, Syrian Ambassador Names Associate Of Turkish Prime Minister As Muslim Brotherhood Leader, May 25, 2011, accessed in http://globalmbreport.org/?p=4496

[iv] The figure of $10 billion was relayed in a private discussion with the author by a Turkish businessman and political figure who asked to remain anonymous. Indian diplomats, including H.E. Gajendra Singh, former Ambassador to Ankara, have independently confirmed Saudi funding of the Turkish AKP. Presumably like most $10 billion cash grants, it came with heavy strings attached from Riyhad.

[v] F. William Engdahl, Salafism+CIA: The winning formula to destabilize Russia, the Middle East, Voltairenet.org, 13 September, 2012, accessed in http://www.voltairenet.org/article175801.html

[vi] Philip Giraldi, NATO vs Syria, December 19, 2011, The American Conservative, accessed in

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/nato-vs-syria/.

[vii] Linda Gradstein, Israel fears Syrian violence spilling over Golan Heights border, October 4, 2012, accessed in http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/10/04/israel-fears-syrian-violence-spilling-over-golan-heights-border/

[viii] Daniel Byman, Michael Doran, Kenneth Pollack, and Salman Shaikh, Saving Syria: Assessing Options for Regime Change, The Brookings Institution, Washington D.C., March 2012, accessed in http://www.scribd.com/doc/108893509/BrookingsSyria0315-Syria-Saban

[ix] Ibid., p. 6.

[x] Andrew Ross Sorkin, Schlepping to Moguldom, September 5, 2004, accessed in http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/05/business/yourmoney/05sab.html?ei=5088&en=9eb8c2a72c2b5e7d&ex=1252123200&partner=rssnyt&pagewanted=print&position&_r=0; see also Source Watch, Haim Saban, accessed in  http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Haim_Saban.

[xi] M. J. Rosenberg, AIPAC Cutout: The Rise & Fall Of The Washington Institute For Near East Policy, Talking Points Memo (TPM), 11 April 2010, accessed in http://cosmos.ucc.ie/cs1064/jabowen/IPSC/php/art.php?aid=126218

[xii] Nathan Guttman, Bush officials subpoenaed in AIPAC trial, Jerusalem Post, March 13, 2006, accessed in http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=15860

[xiii] Alexander Medvedev, Role of Gas in a Sustainable Energy Future, 2nd Ministerial Gas Forum, Doha, Qatar, 30 November, 2010.

[xiv] Hassan Hafidh and Benoit Faucon, Iraq, Iran, Syria Sign $10 Billion Gas-Pipeline Deal, The Wall Street Journal, July 25, 2011, accessed in http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903591104576467631289250392.html

[xv] Daily Star, Syria Announces Gas Discovery, August 17, 2011, accessed in http://www.naturalgasasia.com/syria-homs-gas-discovery.

[xvi] Pepe Escobar, Why Qatar Wants to Invade Syria, Asia Times, September 27, 2012, accessed in http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/NI28Ak03.html.

[xvii] Ibid.

[xviii] F. William Engdahl, The New Mediterranean Oil and Gas Bonanza – Part 1: Israel’s Levant Basin—a new geopolitical curse?, VoltaireNet.org, 20 February, 2012, accessed in http://www.voltairenet.org/article172827.html

[xix] Ibid.

[xx] Ibid.

[xxi] The Economist, Turkey’s political in-fighting: Erdogan at bay: The Turkish prime minister faces new enemies both at home and abroad, Feb 25th 2012; see also Hillary Clinton, Remarks With Foreign Minister Davutoglu After Their Meeting, Conrad Hotel Istanbul, Turkey, August 11, 2012, accessed in http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2012/08/196358.htm

[xxii] CSP,  Center Report Reveals Radical Islamist Views and Agenda of Senior State Department Official Huma Abedin’s Mother, Washington, Center for Security Policy, July 22, 2012, accessed in  http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/p19045.xml?genre_id=3. See also  Aaron Klein, Muslim Brotherhood endorses Obama faith adviser: Gives thumbs up to ‘Sister Mogahed’ for Twitter post on dead journalist, WorldNetDaily, April 29, 2012, accessed on http://www.wnd.com/2012/04/muslim-brotherhood-endorses-obama-faith-adviser/.

[xxiii] F. William Engdahl, Moscow’s High Stakes Energy Geopolitics, Voltairenet.org, 15 November, 2011, accessed in http://www.voltairenet.org/article171902.html

[xxiv] Ibid.

More on BritAm Defence, Heritage Oil, Genel Energy and the new gas wars

Chairman is General Sir Michael Wilkes KCB CBE :

General Sir Michael John Wilkes KCB CBE KStJ (born 1941) is a former Adjutant-General to the Forces in the United Kingdom.

Educated at the King’s School, Rochester,[1] Michael Wilkes was commissioned in to the Royal Artillery in 1961.[2] He served as Commanding Officer of 22 SAS[3] and was appointed Commander of 22 Armoured Brigade in 1984[1] and Director SAS in 1986.[4] He was appointed General Officer Commanding 3rd Armoured Division in 1988[1] and Commander UK Field Army and Inspector General of the Territorial Army in 1990,[1] remaining in that post until 1993.[5] During Operation Granby he was the Land Deputy to the Joint Commander Gulf Forces who was based at HQ Strike Command.[1] In 1993 he became Adjutant General:[6] he retired from the British Army in 1995.[7]

He was awarded the OBE in December 1979,[8] the CBE in June 1988[9] and KCB in December 1990.[10] In 1995 he also became a knight of the Venerable Order of Saint John.[11]

In 1995 he became Lieutenant Governor of Jersey,[12] a post he held until 2001. In 2008 he became a Director of Heritage Oil[13] and of Stanley Gibbons.[14]

and what’s an Adjutant General?

The Adjutant-General to the Forces, commonly just referred to as the Adjutant-General (AG), is one of the most senior officers in the British Army. He is responsible for developing the Army’s personnel policies and supporting its people.[1] The Adjutant-General usually holds the rank of General or Lieutenant-General. Despite his administrative role, the Adjutant-General, like most officers above the rank of Major-General, is invariably drawn from one of the combat arms, not from the support corps.

In the late 19th and all of the 20th century the Adjutant-General was the Second Military Member of the Army Board.[2]

quite important then. And what is Heritage oil?

Heritage Oil Plc is an independent oil and gas exploration and production company with a Premium Listing on the London Stock Exchange (symbol HOIL) and is a member of the FTSE 250 Index. The Company has Exchangeable Shares listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (symbol HOC) and the London Stock Exchange (symbol HOX). The Company has producing properties in Nigeria and Russia, an exploration appraisal and development asset in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and exploration assets in Malta, Tanzania, Pakistan, Libya and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Two of these countries caught my eye: Iraq (or KRG as they call the area), and Libya. This is why:

Kurdistan Region of Iraq

  • In October 2007, Heritage executed a Production Sharing Contact (“PSC”) with the Kurdistan Regional Government over the Miran Block in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq;
  • 22 August 2012 cash received of US$450m
    • Sale of 26%1 of Miran PSC to Genel for US$156m
    • Exchangeable Loan of US$294m provided by Genel

and who is Genel energy?

Genel Energy plc is an Anglo-Turkish exploration and production company with world-class oil and gas assets. We own a portfolio of high-quality assets with robust growth options over the short, medium and long-term. An excellent capital base and a high-calibre board and management team underpin these assets. With these strengths, Genel Energy is building a leading E&P business, founded on a set of assets in the Kurdistan Region, that places us in the top tier of independent E&Ps.

The board is full of ex-BP and ex-bankers (most notably Rodney Chase and Tony Hayward). So Turkey’s the big market prospect for most of Kurdistan’s gas. And if the neo-ottomans have their way, more gas will be flowing from Qatar and the UAE through Syria and Israel, crowning themselves as the new gas-overlords of the Middle East, and thereby undermining Russia’s virtual monopoly over gas supply to Europe.

Libya

  • Heritage has a controlling 51% interest in Sahara Oil Services Holdings Limited (“Sahara Oil”) which owns the entire share capital of Sahara Oil Services Limited (“Sahara”), an oil field services company in Libya;
  • Sahara has been granted long-term licences to provide full oil field services in Libya, including the ability to drill onshore and offshore and hold both oil and gas licences;
  • Heritage established a base in Benghazi in the first half of 2011;
  • Heritage is now also active in Tripoli and exploring ways to assist the newly appointed Interim Government (under the General National Congress elected in July 2012), the National Oil Company (“NOC”) and the state oil companies;
  • Work is ongoing through Sahara Oil Services with the aim of playing a key role in the substantial amounts of rehabilitation work needed to resume, maintain and increase Libya’s hydrocarbon production in line with NOC and Oil Ministry targets.

Was Gaddafi an obstacle for companies like this to gain access to these resources? We’ll never know.