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Posts Tagged ‘saudi arabia’


That Burnt Smell, That Hissing Sound? That’s the Fuze.

Posted March 29, 2015 by Anonymous

Well, if nothing else, Stephen Harper might just have earned Canada a ringside seat to the outbreak of a Middle East regional war.  The way the International Crisis Group sees it, the Saudi air war on Shiite Yemeni rebels might just be the burning fuze that explodes the Sunni-Shia powder keg.

Obama and the Euros are trying to calm the situation, urging a negotiated peace between Yemen’s Sunni government and the Houthi rebels but, according to the ICG, the mixed up gaggle of players aren’t in the mood for talking.

No major party seems truly to want to halt what threatens to become a regional war. The slim chance to salvage a political process requires that regional actors immediately cease military action and help the domestic parties agree on a broadly acceptable president or presidential council. Only then can Yemenis return to the political negotiating table to address other outstanding issues.

The Huthi-Hadi divide is the most explosive, but it is not the only conflict. Tensions are also unsettling the recent marriage of convenience between the Huthis and former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who, after being deposed in 2011, has taken advantage of popular dissatisfaction and tacitly allied himself with the Huthis against their common enemies to stage a political comeback through his party, the General People’s Congress (GPC), and possibly his son, Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh. Divisions in the south, which was an independent state prior to its 1990 union with the north, are rampant as well. Southern separatists are internally split and suspicious of Hadi, a southerner who supports continued unity with the north. Then there are al-Qaeda and a nascent Islamic State (IS) movement, both determined to fight the Huthis and take advantage of the state’s collapse to claim territory.

GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council – the Sunni Arab states] countries have lost faith as well and are increasingly committed to reversing Huthi gains at virtually any cost. Saudi Arabia considers the Huthis Iranian proxies, a stance that pushes them closer to Tehran. Throwing their weight behind Hadi, the Saudis moved their embassy to Aden and reportedly bankroll anti-Huthi tribal mobilisation in the central governorate of Marib and the south. They lead efforts to isolate the Huthis diplomatically, strangle them economically and, now, weaken them militarily. In turn, the Huthis denounce Hadi as illegitimate and offer $100,000 for his capture. They have conducted military exercises on the Saudi border and likely will harden their position in response to Saudi military intervention. They are less dependent on Tehran than Hadi and his allies are on Riyadh, but on today’s trajectory, their relative self-sufficiency will not last long. They are already soliciting Iranian financial and political support.

…Without minimum consensus within and beyond its borders, Yemen is headed for protracted violence on multiple fronts. This combination of proxy wars, sectarian violence, state collapse and militia rule has become sadly familiar in the region. Nobody is likely to win such a fight, which will only benefit those who prosper in the chaos of war, such as al-Qaeda and IS. But great human suffering would be certain. An alternative exists, but only if Yemenis and their neighbours choose it.

This is a perfect example of what’s being called “new war.”  It’s a furball of state and non-state actors.  Governments, including outside nations, rebels, insurgents, militias, terrorists and criminal organizations.  It’s a very fluid type of warfare that commonly features shifting alliances among the parties and widely differing and at times irreconcilable political and territorial objectives.  In the context of a negotiated peace, it really is the equivalent of herding cats.
We’re not built for this stuff.  We like our combat “old war” style.  Good guys versus bad guys; winners and losers; war and peace.  We don’t know what to do when peace is not a realistic option, certainly not an outcome we can dictate. That’s when we do what we Westerners have been doing since Algeria and Viet Nam.  It’s what we did in Afghanistan and Iraq and it’s partially responsible for the hot mess that is the Middle East today.  We go into a place, toss it over, hang around for a decade or so and then leave.  We cannot accept, despite our persistent lack of success, that we’re on a path to near certain failure.  It’s right there in the user guide – our side gets to win.  End of story.  What, can’t these people read?

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It’s a Muslim Religious Civil War and We’re Going In Blind.

Posted March 27, 2015 by Anonymous

When we see one of our closest Arab allies, Saudi Arabia, go after a Shiite bunch engaged in combat with ISIS and al Qaeda forces, the same groups we’re supposedly fighting, then it should be obvious that all is not as it seems. Suddenly this entire an…

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Canadians in Action for Release of Blogger Raif Badawi from Saudi Prison

Posted March 13, 2015 by Anonymous

You may have recently read about the blogger Raif Badawi who was imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for criticizing Saudi Arabian clerics. It caught the media’s attention because he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashings.Yes, you read that righ…

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Oil Price: Has Saudi Arabia gambled and lost?

Posted December 15, 2014 by CuriosityCat

Is it better to have gambled and lost?

Saudi Arabia is calling the shots in the steep price decline of oil in recent weeks, by refusing to cut its output so as to remove production from the market and increase prices. Why is it doing this?
One possible reason is that it is underestimating the remorseless drive for profits that is the essence of the true capitalist system.
Right now, that drive is coming from smaller companies in the US fracking business:

Theories as to why OPEC didn’t reduce quotas at its meeting in Vienna on Nov. 27 are as cheap and abundant as crude in North Dakota. One holds that the Sunnis of Saudi Arabia want to hurt the Shiites of Iran, who need high-priced oil to finance their government. 
Another, expressed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, is that the whole thing is a conspiracy to undermine Russia, the world’s biggest oil producer. Yet another is that the Saudis hope to drive oil prices below where it makes sense for American shale producers to invest in new production. But shale producers have lowered their costs so much that in key fields they can make profits at $50 to $70 a barrel. That’s above core OPEC members’ exploration and production costs but below what many need to cover their government spending. “If my calculations are correct, this will go down as one of the worst commodity trading decisions ever,” Wilbur Ross, billionaire investor and chairman of WL Ross (IVZ), wrote in an e-mail.
In fact, prices are being forced down not by any action (or inaction) of the Saudis but by the American shale producers, who are simply producing all the oil they can to maximize their profits. “Collectively, they’re not the most sophisticated folks, especially when it comes to world markets,” says Charles Ebinger, a senior fellow in the Energy Security Initiative at the Brookings Institution.
With apologies to Ebinger, the shale producers don’t need to be sophisticates. Each operator is so small, it can increase production without pushing down the market price. That makes them price “takers,” not price setters. And because shale wells are short-lived, producers don’t have to plan far ahead, says Karr Ingham, a petroleum economist in Amarillo, Texas. 
Singly the shale busters are nothing. Collectively, their breakneck production is breaking OPEC’s neck. This is the remorseless, leaderless free market at work.

If Saudi Arabia fails to shut down large production volumes of oil from the fracking areas of the US, it will have caused tumult, but to no avail.
My bet is that this is exactly what is happening.
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