There’s a network of organizations and individuals that operate for the most part under the radar who have a massive influence on US policy in the Middle East. From Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies at antiwar.com:
On May 6th, President Trump vetoed a war powers bill specifying that he must ask Congress for authorization to use military force against Iran. Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign of deadly sanctions and threats of war against Iran has seen no let-up, even as the U.S., Iran and the whole world desperately need to set aside our conflicts to face down the common danger of the Covid-19 pandemic.
So what is it about Iran that makes it such a target of hostility for Trump and the neocons? There are many repressive regimes in the world, and many of them are close US allies, so this policy is clearly not based on an objective assessment that Iran is more repressive than Egypt, Saudi Arabia or other monarchies in the Persian Gulf.
The Trump administration claims that its “maximum pressure” sanctions and threats of war against Iran are based on the danger that Iran will develop nuclear weapons. But after decades of inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and despite the US’s politicization of the IAEA, the Agency has repeatedly confirmed that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program.
Why has America been Saudi Arabia’s bitch for so long? From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:
Many observers have been mystified by the Saudi regime’s hold over President Donald Trump. For years he had criticized the gaggle of corrupt, dissolute royals. He also asked why Americans were paying to defend the wealthy, licentious al-Saud family, as it practiced totalitarianism at home and promoted Islamic fundamentalism abroad, including in America.
Yet Trump made his first trip as president to Saudi Arabia. Some observers wondered if Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had salvaged his infamous orb from Mordor’s collapse eons ago and used it to take control of the president’s mind. No other explanation made sense.
Now the New York Times reports that the fault lies with Peter Navarro, the protectionist aide who spends much of his time urging economic and real war with China. He apparently was instrumental in convincing the president to put the profits of munition makers before the lives of Yemenis.
Consider the tragedy that had befallen Yemen, a deeply divided and tragically impoverished nation. During the Arab Spring the Yemeni people ousted the longtime president, leaving a weak and unpopular successor. The former chief executive joined a longtime rebel movement to overthrow the government. All par for the course in a divided land that has never known peace or stability.
The Saudi Arabia government is as bad as or worse than the Iranian regimes we’ve been trying to change since 1979. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:
More than anything else in Saudi Arabia, that thing you smell is fear. Everything is coming unglued for the royal family there all at once. If we all weren’t so distracted by the Coronapocalypse these things would all be front page news.
In the past week there have been three major stories concerning Saudi Arabia, none of the bullish.
Finally, the Saudis accepted a UN-brokered ceasefire with the Houthis. This is a two-week provisional ceasefire, but considering how badly their mercs and pet head-chopping animals have been faring this should be considered a mercy gesture by the Houthis.
How behind-the-scenes global power politics works. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:
The full story of President Trump’s intervening in the Russia-Saudi price war which sent oil prices plunging to historic lows has been revealed in a new explosive report. Trump’s pressure resulted in the surprise April 12 unprecedented OPEC+ production cut by 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd), which saw the Saudis and Russians begrudgingly agree to cut 2.5 bpd each.
Ourselves and others strongly suggested at the time that no doubt there were strong quid pro quo type ultimatums being delivered behind the scenes — consistent with Trump’s prior eyebrow raising boasts about Riyadh ponying up $1 billion in ‘protection money’ in return for defense against Iran — but new Reuters confirmation is out Thursday morning, and the details are more delicious than could have been expected, complete with the report actually describing of Saudi leaders that they genuinely panicked and fast began “bending the knee” when confronted by Trump’s slash output or else threat.
It began with an April 2nd phone call, Reuters details, wherein Trump pressed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with the following ultimatum: OPEC must immediately begin cutting production or see all American troops withdrawn from the kingdom.
Trump’s Energy Dominance policy has not led to energy dominance for the US and is in part responsible for the impending destruction of the US shale oil industry. From Tom Luongo at strategic-culture.org:
From the very beginning I’ve been a staunch critic of President Trump’s “Energy Dominance” policy. And I was so for a myriad of reasons, but mostly because it was stupid.
Not just stupid, monumentally stupid. Breathtakingly stupid.
And I don’t say this as someone who hates Trump without reservation. In fact, I continue to hope he will wake up one day and stop being the Donald Trump I know and be the Donald Trump he needs to be.
I don’t have Trump Derangement Syndrome of any sort. Neither MAGApede nor Q-Tard, an Orange Man Bad cultist or NPC Soy Boy, I see Trump for what he is – a well-intentioned, if miseducated man with severe personal deficiencies which manifest themselves in occasionally brilliant but mostly disastrous behavior.
Energy Dominance was always a misguided and Quixotic endeavor. Why? Because Trump could never turn financial engineering a shale boom into a sustainable advantage over lower-cost producers like Russia and the OPEC nations.
The policy of blasting open the U.S. oil spigots to produce a production boom built on an endless supply of near-zero cost credit was always going to run into a wall of oversupply and not enough demand.
The dramatic collapse of U.S. oil prices in the futures markets which saw the May contract close on April 20th at $-40.57 per barrel is the Shale Miracle hitting the fan of low demand and leaving the producers and consumers in a state which can only happen thanks to biblical levels of government intervention.
There’s a widely held belief among Trump supporters that Attorney General William Barr is a good guys who generally does the right thing. That belief has no basis in his actual record. From Derrick Broze at themindunleashed.com:
In a last minute court filing, U.S. officials demanded a federal judge block the release of files detailing Saudi connections to the 9/11 attacks.
(TMU) — On Monday, U.S. Attorney General William Barr, acting director of national intelligence Richard Grenell, and other senior officials called on a federal judge to prevent the disclosure of files related to the role of the government of Saudi Arabia in the September 11 attacks. The officials told the judge in the civil case that the release of the files would endanger national security.
The files are being sought by families of the 9/11 victims who have spent the last two decades attempting to uncover the truth about the attacks. The families filed a lawsuit in federal district court in New York in 2017 as part of their effort to uncover the role of the Saudi government. What is publicly known is that the alleged 9/11 hijackers had a relationship with Saudi government officials. As Pro Public reported, at the 2019 White House September 11 memorial, U.S. President Donald Trump promised the families he would help them uncover the truth about 9/11. He made similar promises while he was campaigning for president.
“He looked us in the eye on 9/11, he shook our hands in the White House and said, ‘I’m going to help you—it’s done’,” Brett Eagleson, a banker whose father was killed in the World Trade Center, told Pro Publica. “I think the 9/11 families have lost all hope that the president is going to step up and do the right thing. He’s too beholden to the Saudis.”
The Trump Administration stated that the national security threat was so great that even sharing the reasoning behind the request for secrecy could cause harm. According to Pro Publica, AG Barr told the court that public discussion of the issue “would reveal information that could cause the very harms my assertion of the state secrets privilege is intended to prevent.”
Saudi Arabia wants to punish US oil producers for reaping the benefits of the global oil cartel without bearing any of the costs. from Mike Whitney at unz.com:
The Russia-Saudi oil-price war is a fabrication concocted by the media. There’s not a word of truth to any of it. Yes, there was a dust up at an OPEC meeting in early March that led to production increases and plunging prices. That part is true. But Saudi Arabia’s oil-dumping strategy wasn’t aimed at Russia, it was aimed at US shale oil producers. But not for the reasons you’ve read about in the media.
The Saudis aren’t trying to destroy the US shale oil business. That’s another fiction. They just want US producers to play by the rules and pitch in when prices need support. That might seem like a stretch, but it’s true.
You see, US oil producers are not what-you’d-call “team players”. They don’t cooperate with foreign producers, they’re not willing to share the costs of flagging demand, and they never lift a finger to support prices. US oil producers are the next-door-neighbor that parks his beat-up Plymouth on the front lawn and then surrounds it with rusty appliances. They don’t care about anyone but themselves.
Trump’s emergency economic measures ignore both causes and consequences. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:
Government intervention into the market is always, and without fail, the wrong response to an economic problem. Politicians justify their intervention with ‘saving jobs,’ ‘dealing with a crisis’ or simply, ‘because I can.’
They only focus on the ‘seen’ and ignore the ‘unseen’ effects of their policies, selling them to voters on that basis alone. This is the first rule of economic analysis.
No discussion of the secondary or tertiary effects is allowed.
Even though those effects are often far worse. But because they are harder to predict and more pernicious and diffuse they are ultimately ignored.
President Trump is no different in this than any other politician. In fact, he may be one of the worst examples of a politician doing too much in history. To Trump nothing cannot be fixed without his direct application of the weight and force of the U.S. government.
Someday the truth about 9/11 may emerge. Max Parry tracks down some of the loose ends. From Parry at unz.com:
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary” — H.L. Mencken
As the global pandemic grips world attention, completely unnoticed by mainstream media was the release of a final report of an academic study pertaining to another previously calamitous event of international significance. On March 25th, the conclusion of a four year investigation by researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks was published which determined that the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 on September 11th, 2001 was not caused by fire. The peer-reviewed inquiry was funded by Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, a nonprofit organization composed of more than 3,000 building architects and engineers who are a signatory to the group’s formal appeal calling for a new investigation into the three — not two — WTC skyscrapers destroyed on 9/11. The researchers infer that the collapse of Building 7 was actually the result of a controlled demolition:
“The principal conclusion of our study is that fire did not cause the collapse of WTC 7 on 9/11, contrary to the conclusions of NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) and private engineering firms that studied the collapse. The secondary conclusion of our study is that the collapse of WTC 7 was a global failure involving the near-simultaneous failure of every column in the building.”
With or without a pandemic, it is likely corporate media would have ignored the study anyway, just as they have anything that contradicts the official story of 9/11. However, it is notable that many have drawn parallels between the COVID-19 outbreak and the 9/11 attacks based on the widespread changes to daily life as a result of the crisis going forward. Already there is talk of nationwide lockdowns as a “new normal” with many rightly expressing concerns over civil liberties, press freedoms, the surveillance state, and other issues just as there were following 9/11. By the same measure, a false dichotomy is being established by political gatekeepers in order to silence those who dare challenge the official account as to how the coronavirus began. It is a stigmatization that is all too familiar to those who have never believed the conventional narrative that 19 Arab hijackers loyal to Osama bin Laden armed only with box-cutters were solely responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on that fateful day.
Vladimir Putin has the world oil industry by the balls, particularly the US shale producers, whose costs are far higher than Russia’s. From Moon of Alabama at moonofalabama.org:
Today there is a meeting by video of the OPEC states and Russia. Tomorrow the energy ministers of all G-20 states will likewise meet. Their discussions will be about the sinking global oil price caused by a lack of demand due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and record oil output from Saudi Arabia and Russia. ‘Western’ media have been optimistic that an agreement will be found:
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers including Russia, a group known as OPEC+, are expected to discuss record cuts equivalent to 10% to 15% of global supplies, although demand has plunged by up to 30%.
It is unlikely that OPEC will agree on any cut unless the U.S. and other large producers join the deal. The U.S. is, for now, unlikely to do that.
Until the end of the last OPEC+ agreement this month and the onset of the pandemic demand slump, the three top producers were the U.S. with 12.7 million barrels per day, Russia with 10.9 mbpd and Saudi Arabia with 9.8 mbpd.
Since 2016 OPEC and Russia had reduced their production to keep the oil price in the $60/b range. This effectively subsidized the U.S. shale industry. U.S. production kept growing while production by Russia and Saudi Arabia was artificially limited. It allowed the U.S. to grab more global market share at profitable prices.
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