Joe Biden and his team have no problem cozying up to terrorists, as long as the terrorists are aligned with US regime change objectives. From Daniel Lazare at strategic-culture.org:
As Joe Biden unveils his hawkish cabinet picks, it’s hard not to get the sense that we’re all hurtling back in time to those glorious days of regime change when the United States believed it had a sacred right to topple any government that got in its way. It also seems like we’re returning to the days that when jihadi terrorism aimed at America and its allies was horrible, terrible, a crime against humanity, and so on, while terrorism aimed at people the US didn’t like was, well, distasteful and unpleasant but not something to bring up in polite company.
While no one wants to blow up innocent civilians, in other words, what really counts is which civilians and in whose behalf.
With that in mind, it’s worth revisiting a talk that then-Vice President Biden gave at Harvard’s Kennedy School in October 2014. If you enjoy listening to an empty-headed politician spouting endless clichés, you can access all ninety minutes of it here. But if you’re not a glutton for punishment, you can jump to the 53:35 mark and zero in on Sleepy Joe’s specific thoughts regarding America’s Mideast partners and their inordinate fondness for ISIS and Al Qaeda.
An IPO is supposed to leave you flush with cash, not put you deeper in the hole. From Simon Watkins at oilprice.com:
The initial public offering (IPO) of Saudi Aramco that was heralded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) as being a showcase flotation for raising massive new capital for the Kingdom and anchoring a major expansion of its international equities market presence has proven only to put Aramco into a debt spiral and highlighted a myriad of problems in Saudi Arabia to international investors. Now, Aramco is digging itself further into serious debt through bond issuances simply to pay for the huge dividend payments promised by MbS that were absolutely required to persuade anyone to buy into the omni-toxic IPO. At this rate, the debt taken on by Aramco and other Saudi bond offerings to pay for the dividends will be far more than the amount of money raised in the IPO. As a direct result of MbS deciding to go ahead with yet another oil price war at the same time as the COVID-19 pandemic was gathering pace and destroying demand for oil, Aramco’s finances have suffered a massive hit. For the first half of this year, the company saw a 50 percent plunge in net profit and at the beginning of this month, it reported another massive drop in profits of 44.6 percent for the third quarter, falling to SAR44.21 billion (US$11.79 billion) from SAR79.84 billion in the same period last year. On the other side of the balance sheet, though, is the stark fact that because the company’s IPO was so toxic on so many levels that it was shunned by Western investors and had to be off-loaded to buyers who were either bullied or bribed into buying the stock Aramco is left having to pay massive guaranteed dividend payments for the foreseeable future to those shareholders.
This huge guaranteed dividend payment of US$18.75 billion per quarter – US$75 billion for a full year – will have to be paid for through budget cuts over and above the US$15 billion in Aramco’s annual capital spending alluded to by Aramco’s chief executive officer, Amin Nasser, just after the first half profits figures were unveiled. This will take the total down from around US$40 billion to around US$25 billion. Further reports have stated that even this US$25 billion figure is set to be reduced by another US$5 billion, taking the total capital spending in this year from US$25 billion to US$20 billion.
Helping one of the most corrupt governments on the planet wage a war on one of the poorest countries on the planet is a war crime for which US officials must be called to account. From Doug Bandow at theamericanconservative.com:
That includes prominent American officials. Punishing the perpetrators is the only way to restore our credibility.
Workers search through debris at a warehouse, after it was reportedly hit in an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition, in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on July, 2, 2020. (Photo by MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP via Getty Images)
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recently announced that it was providing $204 million in aid for the impoverished and war-ravaged country of Yemen. That sounds generous, but it’s the Saudi royals themselves who are responsible for most of the death, destruction, starvation, and disease in Yemen, in which 80 percent of the population, some 24 million, need outside assistance.
Riyadh has spent more than five years conducting a brutal air campaign intended to restore a pliant regime to power. The claim that the Kingdom is generously helping the needy is a bit like a man murdering his parents only to throw himself on the court’s mercy since he is an orphan. If Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wanted to help the Yemeni people, he would simply end the war.
But he won’t, at least in part because the Trump administration is underwriting the Saudi government’s murderous campaign. Why is the president forcing Americans to assist the Saudi royals, who respect no political or religious liberty and kidnap, imprison, and murder their critics? President Donald Trump appears to be almost bewitched by the licentious and corrupt Saudis.
Washington sold Saudi Arabia planes and munitions used to kill thousands of Yemeni civilians. American personnel serviced and refueled the same planes, as well as providing intelligence to assist in targeting Saudi strikes. That makes U.S. officials complicit in war crimes committed day in and day out for more than five years.
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.
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