Archive | January 20th, 2016

Erdogan’s Sinister Empire and the Global Web of Turkish Organised Crime

NOVANEWS

By GPD 

Money begets power, absolute power corrupts and ultimately turns evil

Organised-Crime-Today-Worldwide
Organised crime is globally linked, sophisticated, legitimised as business and deep into government in most countries

…by  Ray Camen, VT Ankara

Who do you thing the head of organized crime is in Turkey?

Who do you think the head of organized crime is in Turkey?

[ Editor’s Note: This is a major piece of work here. Part of the reason we needed someone on the ground in Turkey is to provide some background on Merkel’s wanting to give automatic visas to Turkey. This of course will eliminate border checks on all of these organized crime people throughout Europe.

Does Merkel know this? Of course she does. So why is she doing it? The answer to that I will let you guess.

Does organized crime cut top political and law enforcement in for a piece of the action for protection? And what do all the Intelligence and security orgs do to stop this?

Do they take down the groups they know are funding the politically powerful, or do they eliminate their competition as cover, and effectively ensure monopolies on the illegal trades that fund the real political kingpins, without whose protection the Special Forces people would have all the crime bosses in body bags in a month or two.

As Gordon Duff so loves to say, “Welcome to how the real world works.” And to that I add my, “It’s a nasty world out there”… Jim W. Dean ]

____________

– First published  …  January 18,  2016 –

Turkey is the crossroads for many things

Turkey is the crossroads for many things

It is no secret that governments often work hand in hand with organised crime, it could be argued that government itself is the biggest racket, and Turkey is no exception to the rule. Regardless of its source, money begets power to corrupt its surroundings.

Consequently, many of the top Turkish serious organised crime syndicates have either family members or their own people in Parliament today.

If we could follow the money from organised crime in Turkey starting from its source and following up through individual wealth, companies and holding groups, the chain will most likely end up in Parliament.

With Turkish Head of State Erdogan’s own intricate crime network represented in even greater numbers, the Turkish Parliament has effectively become a covert hub of illegal activities on a grand scale. Hidden behind the facade of legislative proceedings, such activities are mutually agreed upon and implemented, and if need be they are white-washed and covered-up under the same roof.

Any major action that is not sanctioned by the greater Family is swiftly dealt with the full force of the State and ironically provides great statistics for the “fight against organised crime”.

There are currently two main competing factions within Turkish serious organised crime: the Black Sea Mafia to the North and the Kurdish Mafia to the East with Erdogan as the Capo dei Capi. The Kurdish Mafia is a relative new-comer but has taken the lions share in the amalgamation that is called the Turkish Mafia.

Up until the 1990’s it was mainly composed of a dozen families from the Black Sea with a focus on strong-arm methods and contraband goods, and less of an interest in drug running. With the PKK gaining financial power in the 90’s through extortion, human trafficking, and especially drug and arms running in Europe, the Turkish Mafia has now effectively become the PKK/Kurdish Mafia.

All state sanctioned crime groups are represented in Turkish Parliament
State sanctioned organised crime groups are represented directly or indirectly in the Turkish Parliament with full impunity

The links between the state and organized crime became known to the public in the early 1980’s, when the Turkish Intelligence Agency MIT set out eradicate the Armenian ASALA terrorist organisation that had been assassinating Turkish diplomats and bombing Turkish targets for a decade.

The task-forces for this job included members of the MIT and Special Forces, along with prominent mobsterAbdullah Catli and his crew who were part of the right-wing nationalist movement.

Catli - dead and gone

Catli – dead and gone

It is arguable whether this group really finished ASALA given its feeble track-record, with more effective actions coming from State elements.

ASALA’s 1983 Orly bombing with French casualties was probably what finished the organisation, but Catli ended up taking full credit to become a public hero and basically getting a carte-blanche for his illegal activities in Turkey.

This later became the norm as the underworld and politics inter-merged, and those in power continued to make use of these elements.

Many underworld names have even been praised at the Prime Ministerial level for their “services to the Turkish Nation” effectively white-washing and romanticising these dark elements in the eyes of the public.

The historic ties of the Black Sea people with Georgia and especially the port city of Batumi extend to the underground world as well.

On a visit to Georgia in 2004, Erdogan stated: “I am of Georgian origin. Our family is a Georgian family emigrated to Rize (Turkish Black Sea) from Batumi”.

Needless to say, he oversees the extended clan in the Black Sea region and makes full use of its connections in Batumi, where the illegal oil trade with ISIS and the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government is legitimized.

aslan-usoyan
Shot in 2013, Usoyan ruled over a multi-ethnic organised crime network with ties to the PKK

The PKK and the Kurdish Mafia are connected with Georgia as well. Soviet mob kingpin Aslan Usoyan, a Yazidi/Kurd from Tbilisi the capital of Georgia, is known to have helped the PKK on a number of occasions with the supply of arms and escape routes. It is highly likely that he is acquainted with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.

The relationship of the PKK/Kurdish Mafia with international and domestic Russian, as well as Azerbaijani, Chechen and Armenian organised crime blossomed with Usoyan who was affectionately called “Ded (Grandpa) Khasan”, in reference to his old age and his god-fatherly relationship to a range of multi-ethnic organised crime networks.

This working relationship is evident in the low rate of clashes between the Kurdish and diverse Russian groups in the mutual sharing of “business” in Europe and the Americas.

Having escaped death numerous times, Usoyan was killed in 2013 by a contract sniper on his own turf in Moscow where he ruled his criminal empire. His death was generally accepted as part of the infighting between rival groups in Russia, which later got even rougher with the sanctions and the collapse of the rouble in the Russian economic crisis of 2014-15.

It seems that Turkey is the back-yard of regional crime syndicates, simply judging by the number of foreign crime bosses assassinated in recent years. Vadim Ivanenko, a boss from the Crimean region, was killed in the south of Turkey in February 2015. Azerbaijani crime boss and cult hero Rovshan Janiyev, who was among the top suspects for the Usoyan hit, was allegedly assassinated in Istanbul in June 2015.

The south of Turkey is dotted with hotels and clubs that belong to Russian organised crime bosses, who have used the lax laws to launder money by buying up property in Turkey (this is a trend in the Mediterranean as well). Furthermore, news has been circulating since early 2015 suggesting that top Russian mob leaders planned to hold a summit in Istanbul.

Given that the Kurdish Mafia is very strong in these regions and again given the minimal clashes between the two rival groups, we can deduce that they are carrying out activities that complement each other.

kurdish population map
The heartland of the PKK/Kurdish Mafia that is the funnel of human trafficking, heroin and arms running through Turkey to Europe

The Worldwide Web of the Turkish PKK/Kurdish Mafia extends far and it is renowned for being numerous and ruthless. As with most international groups, they have transformed themselves into legitimate businessmen even though they keep their strong-arm tactics.

They have good connections throughout the Balkans and Italy with well-defined illegal migration, human trafficking, drug/arms running networks with Greek, Bulgarian, Albanian, Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian and Italian organised crime groups.

In Europe the more obvious illegal activities have transformed into mostly compartmentalised and legitimate businesses as covers in major cities. London as the centre of serious organised crime activity in Europe for example, is the realm of the Baybasin Clan among other Kurdish groups.

Other big Kurdish clans are spread out all over Europe, staking similar claims and co-operating with each other. Europol ranks the Turkish/Kurdish Mafia among the top crime syndicates in Europe along with the Russians for illicit drugs, human trafficking and arms running.

To the South they have Cyprus as a base for a range of operations including offshore banking and money laundering, which incidentally is one of their principal strengths. To the East they are connected with criminal elements in Iraq, Syria and parts of Iran, all the way to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

They work in close conjunction with South American drug cartels often bartering heroin for cocaine. Even though the Mexican cartels have surpassed the Colombian cartels in cocaine trafficking to Europe, the highly adaptable PKK/Kurdish mafia retains ties to both and commands a sizeable portion of the European cocaine market.

robwainwright
Europol Chief Rob Wainwright fighting a losing battle against OCG’s

Some salient information quoted from Europol’s Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA) Report of 2013 (most recent):

  • There is a marked criminal sophistication, resourcefulness and innovation displayed by OCG’s (organised crime groups) in the use of legal business structures and the possible convergence of interests and links among criminal and business actors is of growing concern.
  • Turkey is the main staging point for illicit goods and irregular migrants travelling to the EU from parts of Asia.
  • The vast majority of heroin in the EU continues to transit through Turkey and is trafficked by Turkish OCG’s.

Other highlights from public statements of top Europol officials in 2013:

  • London-England is the centre of serious and organised crime activities linked to major European hubs such as Amsterdam and Hamburg and Berlin.
  • Upwards of 80% of the whole-sale heroin in Europe comes through the Kurdish Mafia.

____________

It should be well noted that Europol has not issued a SOCTA report since 2013, but has focused on Cybercrime in 2014 and 2015 with a dire warning regarding the alarming rise in child sexual exploitation.

There are volumes to be written on the subject of the PKK/Kurdish Mafia, the Turkish criminal underworld, its modern business facades and its consequently legitimized ties to the State.

Yet without a doubt, they all have to bow to the bankers and the Khazarian Mafia who launder their money to the tune of hundreds of billions USD a year and who also control the global money, the governments, the media and the arms all at the expense of the people.

Connect the dots and you will see that that the NWO disseminates the Seven Deadly Sins through organised crime, physically creating “temptation” for luring the ignorant masses to their evil ways.

bankofengland
Monopolising and flourishing on fiat money since 1694, the Bank of England has spawned the Fed and all other Central Banks.

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Can Saudi Arabia crash the oil market?

NOVANEWS

By GPD

by Viktor Mikhin,  …  New Eastern Outlook, Moscow

Will the US dollar go down the drain?

Will the US dollar go down the drain?

Saudi Arabia, which is currently standing together with Russia at the top of global oil exports, is ready to supply the global market with additional oil if the tensions flare between Russia and the west because of the events in Ukraine.

Citing Saudi Arabian Minister of Petroleum Ali bin Ibrahim Al-Naimi, Saudi media has reported that Riyadh is ready to compensate for any oil deficits if they arise. Al-Naimi stated that “We are ready to compensate for any shortages (in the supply of oil) if they arise.”

According to him, the kingdom is currently producing around 9.6 million barrels of oil per day, however, it is ready to increase this to 12.5 million. Well-informed sources also report that in April, Saudi Arabia exported 9.65 million barrels/day to the global market as compared with 9.533 million in March of this year.

Commenting about the current global oil prices, Al-Naimi called them “fair”. “$100 per barrel is a fair price for everyone, be it consumers or producers.” According to the Saudi minister, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) member states should make the decision to keep the existing maximum oil production threshold of 30 million barrels/day at their summit meeting in June of 2014.

Incidentally, in April of 2014, total global oil production increased up to 90.8 million barrels/day as reported in the monthly OPEC report on the condition and the future of the global oil market. Compared with March, global oil production increased by 160,000 barrels/day.

At the end of April, oil production in the OPEC countries amounted to 29.593 million barrels/day, which is an increase of 130,800 barrels as compared with the previous month. It was notably Iraq which significantly increased oil production in April, by 102,100 barrels/day.

Oil market analysts point out that the military action in eastern Ukraine provoked by Kiev, which is actively supported by the west, has increased the tensions between Russia and Europe, leading to some worry about oil exports from Russia to Ukraine and Europe. Furthermore, these tragic events are keeping the prices for Brent Crude at $108/barrel after the fact that on March 3, prices soared to their annual high of $112.39. It is considered that increased oil exports from Saudi Arabia may lower prices on the global market to $100/barrel.

The previous statement by the Saudi minister invoked a fairly professional comment from the Qatari newspaper Asharq, “This can be understood as a change in the relations between Saudi Arabia and Russia. By lowering oil prices on the global market, the U.S. wants to pressure Russia through Saudi Arabia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that Riyadh does have the ability to lower oil prices on the global market. However, he thinks that Saudi Arabia will not go that route because if oil prices plummet below $85/barrel, the Saudi economy could also face problems. Both Saudi Arabian and Russian budgets are calculated with oil prices at around the $90 mark.”

A price war on the oil market is currently very risky for OPEC countries. After all, the development of new technology (such as shale oil and gas) will very likely strategically lower oil prices in time.

If prices are to be artificially lowered right now, this could plummet the market into a prolonged period of lower prices before its due time and the market would take a significant amount of time to recover.

For oil exporting countries, this would certainly mean economic losses. Although the Saudi Arabian economy is a bit more resistant against price fluctuations than the Russian economy, this does not mean that it would not suffer from a price decrease. On the contrary, it could suffer greatly from a prolonged price drop.

Nevertheless, there is still the possibility that oil prices will gradually wane in the long-term, even in the mid-term, but this is not related to the foreign policy tensions between Russia and the west. This is why following a responsible economic policy and curtailing state spending in the present unstable environment becomes especially relevant for Russia.

Possible Budget Deficit in Oil Exporting Countries

UAE’s The National newspaper reports that five oil exporting countries in the Middle East and in North Africa could hit a budget deficit this year even if oil prices remain around the $100/barrel mark. Saudi Arabia has indicated it will shift to a more sensible fiscal policy after planning this year’s budget, which slowed the growth of spending to 4.3% as compared with 20% in the previous year.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch has warned that the Gulf’s largest oil producer may need to undertake additional measures if the sanctions against Iran will be eased to the point where the country could accelerate oil production.

The bank’s analysts wrote the following in a recent report: “Going beyond breakeven oil prices in addition to the potential return of Iranian oil to the market leads one to believe that governments should moderate growth in spending. In the midterm, the math for oil prices that break even with the budget is clearly inconsistent with politics while accounting for the fact that current budget revenue is limited by [oil] production and the weak non-oil revenue.”

Saudi Arabia’s ability to manipulate market prices currently does not hold much promise. Analysts believe that to do this, a country needs to be able to decrease and increase the volume of production painlessly both for the industry and for the economy. The kingdom has the capacity to produce an additional 3 million barrels/day, which only makes up around 3% of global production. Correspondingly, it will not be able to “flood” the market with cheap oil.

Naturally, production costs are much lower in Saudi Arabia than in the U.S. and Russia, but Riyadh has not escaped the pitfalls of the Dutch disease: the kingdom’s budget currently relies on oil prices being $90/barrel and it is only able to sustain very temporary price drops to $80/barrel. In Saudi Arabia, 85% of the budget is sustained through oil exports.

Oil also makes up 90% of the country’s exports (as a comparison, this is 33% in Russia), which is why a decrease in oil revenue may lead to a foreign deficit as well as increased pressure on the exchange rate and on the gold and foreign-exchange reserves, which are also significantly lower than Russia’s.

Société Générale

Société Générale

Saudi Arabia is a member of OPEC and its decision to lower prices may not be understood by the other cartel members for whom lower oil prices are just as dangerous as they are for Russia. Incidentally, analysts have already calculated the “behaviour” of oil countries after 2008: if prices close in on the $80-$90 mark, the value indexes quickly turn around and swiftly increase back up.

Head of the Oil Market Research Department at the New York Branch of Société Générale Mike Whitner believes that “Saudi Arabia will always play a key role. It is the only country that has the technical capabilities and the ability to increase or decrease oil production as necessary”.

Gary Hufbauer from the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington points out that Saudi Arabia could partner with the States because Riyadh greatly dislikes the role that Moscow is playing in Syria.

Russian President Vladimir Putin doubts that Saudi Arabia would lower oil prices to harm Russia. It is known that the Russian budget earns about $191-$194 billion from oil and $28 billion from gas. In discussing whether it is possible to harm Russia through hydrocarbon prices, he stated, “Well, it’s possible to try”.

According to the president, the only country in the world that can increase oil production to crash prices is Saudi Arabia. However, the head of state is certain that Saudi Arabia will not go through with this because it is not beneficial for the country itself. “We have good relations with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is also acting within the confines of OPEC and drastically increasing production is a fairly difficult task, they need to negotiate with everyone.

Saudi Arabia’s budget has been calculated for, I think, $85-$90 per barrel, while ours has it at $90. That is, going under $85 would mean Saudi Arabia would suffer losses and it would encounter problems,” Putin clarified.

He also stated that lowering oil prices from $90 to $85 per barrel would not even be critical for the Russian budget. Furthermore, the president noted that lowering oil prices is not beneficial for the U.S. either as they are actively producing shale oil on their own territory.

Crashing prices could make this sector no longer profitable, Putin stated. “And another thought: oil is quoted and sold on global markets in U.S. dollars. If prices drop then the demand for the dollar will also suddenly drop. Then the dollar will begin to lose its importance as a global currency,” President Putin warned.

 

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Saudi Arabia: New Policy Restart

NOVANEWS

By Jim W. Dean

Riyadh

Riyadh

Saudi Arabia: New Policy Restart

… by  Viktor Mikhin,     … with  New Eastern Outlook,  Moscow

 

[ Editor’s note: Viktor Mikhin looks into the military and intelligence upgrades that Saudi Arabia is making, indicating that some countries in the ME may be preparing for a continuation of diplomatic discussions that are backed up militarily.

Saudi Arabia has made incremental changes in their leadership, and has tapped into America’s lineup of Intel experts to improve SIGINT. As Iraq breaks up into sectarian territories, it would be in the Saudis’ own best interests to be watching out for any new charismatic groups who might be developing in destabilized areas.

We can be fairly sure that Saudi Arabia isn’t the only country keeping tabs on elements of the new Islamic Caliphate, said to be surging in Iraq… Jim W. Dean ]

Modernity in Saudi Arabia

Modernity in Saudi Arabia

Recent events in the Middle East, in which the situation has changed dramatically over the last 2-3 years, have invoked a strong reaction from those who considered themselves the masters there.

In particular this applies to Saudi Arabia, whose rulers, considering themselves masters of the whole Arab world, were suddenly faced with challenges from a number of states and organizations such as the “Islamic caliphate.”

Quite naturally, the Saudi king began to actively take various measures to strengthen the influence and authority of the state. First on the list were matters of succession, since the Saudi kingdom, which is a strong financial power, is experiencing great difficulties because of the existing domestic system of power inheritance, which provides for the transfer of power from brother to brother.

And this has resulted in an elderly group of potential heirs to the throne, as the founder of the kingdom, Abdul Aziz ibn Abd Rahman ibn Faisal Al Saud (Ibn Saud) died in 1953. Today King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud (90 years) is to be replaced by the aging Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud (79 years), who also suffers from numerous health problems and, in fact, is not very eager to become king.

In this context, the King appointed his brothers’ “pet”, Prince Mukrin, who is 69 years old, as the second heir, that is a kind of “Vice” Crown Prince. The appointment of Prince Mukrin as Deputy Crown Prince, as unanimously noted in the Arab press, indicates an intention not only to strengthen the stability of the regime, but also to keep power in the hands of the family of Saud.

Prince Mukrin appointed Deputy Crown Prince

Prince Mukrin appointed Deputy Crown Prince

He’s the last of the brothers, the sons of the king, who founded Saudi Arabia, and therefore the throne will no longer be passed from brother to brother, as Prince Mukrin is the last of them.

And it cannot be ruled out, as the British Arabic newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi writes, citing informed Saudi sources, that after becoming king he will appoint King Abdullah’s third son as Crown Prince, Prince Mutaib, who is also actively preparing to take on the highest roles on government.

The Saudi king, realizing that reconnaissance plays a significant role in the affairs of his country, also changed its leadership. The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) announced the royal decree appointing Prince Khaled bin Bandar bin Abdul Aziz head of the General Intelligence Department, with the rank of minister. Incidentally, Prince Khaled takes orders from Prince Bandar, who, according to the king’s decree, as reported by the SPA, will be “the king’s councilor and his special envoy.”

These statements were issued after the jihadists leading the offensive in Iraq announced the establishment of the “Islamic Caliphate” and ordered Muslims worldwide to obey the head of the Caliphate. In Saudi Arabia, the progress of the jihadists is watched with growing concern, especially since they include, among others, many Saudi citizens.

The king himself subjected the jihadists, who are also operating in Syria, to sharp criticism, and ordered the authorities to take “necessary measures” to protect the oil-rich kingdom. This comes amid growing concerns over the fact that the jihadist movement may grip even Saudi Arabia itself.

Shahine Saudi Arabia upgrading its Shahine short-range air defence (SHORAD) systems

Saudi Arabia upgrading its Shahine short-range air defence (SHORAD) systems

But the Saudi rulers make injecting the kingdom with the most modern weapons, the amount of which exceeds all conceivable limits, a top priority.

So, the military budget of Saudi Arabia, according to the Swedish independent international institute SIPRI, increased from 31 billion USD in 2006 to 45 billion USD in 2010. In 2012 the country spent 52.5 billion dollar on military expenditures.

It should be said that the Kingdom is the only Arab country that has consistently ranked among the top ten states with a huge military budget.

The dynamics of military spending growth in Saudi Arabia, which for quite a long period enjoyed security guarantees from the United States, is impressive. The data presented by SIPRI show that now the kingdom has risen to fourth place in the world (after the United States, China, and Russia) with defense spending at $67 billion, accounting for 25.2% of government spending.

In 2010, the Arab monarchy ordered U.S. weapons for the enormous sum of $60 billion. Under this deal, as reported by the Internet resource Defence IQ, in 2011 the U.S. sold Saudi Arabia a squadron of F-15 fighters for about $30 billion. The Saudis will receive 84 new fighters, and another 70 will be upgraded.

As a result of this transaction, Riyadh became the second largest operator of the F-15 after the United States. The rollout ceremony for the first F-15SA fighter, produced for the Saudi Arabian Air Force, was held on April 30, 2013.

HC-130J Super Hercules military transport aircraft

HC-130J Super Hercules military transport aircraft

Saudi Arabia has purchased 20 HC-130J Super Hercules military transport aircraft and 5 KC-130J refueling aircraft, and ordered 69 M1A2 Abrams battle tanks from the United States.

The order for new battle tanks is part of a large-scale program to modernize the tank fleet in the Kingdom’s land forces. The Saudis have started upgrading M1A1 and M1A2 tanks to the M1A2S to be suitable for its desert climate.

The upgrades to the main battle tanks will improve their performance characteristics and enhance their combat effectiveness in desert conditions. In 2013, the Ministry of Defense of Saudi Arabia also ordered BGM-71 TOW heavy antitank missiles from the United States, with the contract’s value being estimated at 1.07 billion dollars.

On February 14, 2014 there was news of another large-scale purchase of arms by Saudi Arabia: armored vehicles totaling $10 billion, with an option for another $3 billion. The armored vehicle supply contract was won by the Canadian division of the American company General Dynamics: General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada (GDLS). The types of contracted equipment were not disclosed. The contract is for 14 years.

Canadian Foreign Trade Minister Ed Fast said this is the largest military export contract in the history of the country. Official representative of GDLS Ken Yamashita said that under the contract the company does not have the right to disclose the amount or type of vehicles ordered under this agreement, but they “will be new vehicles”, and the first of them will come off the conveyor in 2016.

Particular attention is being paid to the current difficult times in the KSA National Guard, which operates in parallel with the traditional army, as a counterweight to the ground forces that is controlled by the royal family. It includes tribal members who have traditionally supported the Saudi dynasty. The National Guard has more than 200,000 people, divided into infantry and mechanized brigades, special units, and military police.

In 2013, the National Guard was reorganized into a Ministry charged with the following tasks: collaborate with the Ministry of Internal Affairs in promoting the preservation of security, the fight against terrorism, and the protection of vital installations in the kingdom, and, if necessary, support for the Ministry of Defense. It should be noted that weapons newly purchased abroad are primarily supplied to the National Guard.

Recently Riyadh, seeking to protect itself in the distant outskirts, has stoked the rebellious activities of bands of mercenaries, supporting Islamists in Syria and Iraq, where there is a real war taking place in the Anbar province. The Saudis are planning to form an entire army of foreign mercenaries, whom they plan to use in the fight against enemies in the region, primarily in the aggression against Syria.

The KSA

The KSA

By all appearances, and as noted in the Arab Press, the collapse of the Iraqi government is on the day’s agenda.

It is believed that the Saudis are willing to completely change the balance of forces in the region in favor of the Sunni bloc, thereby building leverage through their mercenaries against Syria and “Hezbollah” in Lebanon, as well as creating a Sunni state in Iraq, and at the same time replacing the “Islamic Caliphate”.

In an effort to restart its domestic and foreign policy, Riyadh is actively cooperating with the current U.S. administration. The website Intercept reported that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has considerably expanded cooperation with the Saudis in espionage, despite statements by the State Department regarding human rights violations in that country.

According to a secret dispatch obtained by the publication, the NSA planned to “provide direct analytical and technical support” in matters of “internal security” to the Ministry of the Interior in Riyadh. At the same time, as the publication notes, the U.S. State Department reported that “representatives of the Ministry of the Interior sometimes subjected prisoners and detainees to torture and other physical violence”. According to said secret document, the new format of cooperation with the Ministry of Defense of Saudi Arabia by the NSA is called “update period”.

In recent years, as the publication notes, the NSA has also expanded its “trilateral relationship” with Riyadh, sharing SIGINT data (signals intelligence, or electronic reconnaissance). One of the objectives mentioned for this cooperation was “assisting Saudi authorities in using SIGINT for locating and tracking of internally displaced persons who are the subject of mutual interest (of the two countries)”.

But it is clear that whatever action is taken by Saudi Arabia and its allies, the region continues to slide into chaos and is teetering on the brink of a major war. The militarization of the kingdom, and indeed other countries in the region, is a serious sign of impending regional war.

In his time, A.P. Chekhov wrote: “If in the first act there is a gun hanging on the wall, then in the last act it must be fired.” It would appear that the last act in the story of the Middle East is not too far away.

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Saudi Arabia: New King, Old Problems

NOVANEWS

By Jim W. Dean

The future of Saudi Arabia will largely depend on whether the new King can place the kingdom in the concept of the 21st century___

… by  Viktor Mihkin,     …with  New Eastern Outlook, Moscow

 

The seven golden domes of St. Peterburg

The seven golden domes of St. Peterburg

[ Editor’s Note:  We have the first public mention here in Viktor’s article of the new king actually having been the old king.

That was no surprise to us here at VT, as this musical chairs game has been played before with Saudi transfers of power. Dead kings are not dead until publicly announced as such.

Nothing is done abruptly, because it takes time to reach a consensus among all the competing interests in the land of 10,000 princes.

Public disunity is the last thing that a Victorian age monarchy wants to put on display, when they are at one of the flash points of postmodern geopolitics, where even the US has a blank check preemptive strike doctrine.

The Saudi princes have a lot to fear, as they are all about money and oil, and their usefulness to others… an unusual tightrope walk for royalty. It began with the post WWII deal they made with the US to only sell their oil in dollars, in return for permanent American military protection.

It was a throwback to pre-WWI-era secret diplomacy deals to commit a supposedly-free democratic country to go to war, and where its people knew absolutely nothing of the arrangement.

Love at first sight

Love at first sight

If ETs landed next week and rounded up the entire extended royal family to take them back home to barbecue as part of some religious feast, how many here would cry a river for the loss to humanity?

I would ask the same about the Bush family and two thirds of Congress. It would make a wonderful referendum list of names to vote on each election.

We all face a permanent existential threat, with secret deals made in our name without our knowledge, to political elites in other countries, whose citizens are also clueless as to how they have been traded like a futures slave market.

Hmm… I might have to write an article about that sometime. That surely is a common interest we all share. We see that our Ukrainian puppet government, which virtually has to shanghai their people into the military, has the prosecution list up to 7500 already, for “no shows”.

ROTC schools are graduating early to pump out 2000 partially-trained first lieutenants to lead green troops in battle for the first time against those they are told are terrorists — when the ROTC kids are actually working for the real terrorists. You just can’t make this stuff up… Jim W. Dean ]

The original head choppers?

The original head choppers?

Salman bin Abdul Aziz, King of Saudi Arabia

Salman bin Abdul Aziz, King of Saudi Arabia

The official coming to power of the Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud has invoked numerous comments by experts, journalists, and politicians.

Many a predicting, like with tea leaves, how Saudi policy will change now and what direction the new king will take. Also, many have expressed a view on changing Saudi policy that is fundamentally wrong.

The fact is that the former Prince Salman for the past 5-7 years has been at the helm of the Saudi government, and former King Abdullah, because of his numerous serious diseases, performed only representative functions.

It is one thing to manage policy behind the throne of the old king, who faced the blame for failures, but it is another thing now to manage Saudi Arabia and take personal responsibility for everything that happens inside the kingdom and beyond.

The domestic and international situation today is quite complicated and difficult, and requires non-trivial and bold decisions.

First, this course is aimed at the threats associated with the consequences of the fall in oil prices, the strengthening of the “Islamic State”, as well as opposition from Iran, which is strengthening its influence throughout the Middle East, and its henchmen are increasingly gaining ground in Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria.

The new king is also faced with the growth of the crisis in Yemen, whose government, which enjoyed the support of the Saudis, was overthrown by Houthi rebels backed by Iran. The official representative of Saudi Arabia stated in a recent interview that Riyadh sees an “existential threat” the future of Yemen.

VT has been saying for years the world is floating in oil

VT has been saying for years the world is floating in oil

In the short term, the most difficult problem for the new Saudi ruler will be the steady and significant decline in world oil prices.

These prices fell below 50 dollars a barrel, which was a powerful blow to the economy and the government of Saudi Arabia, which is almost entirely dependent on oil revenues.

The decline in prices has led to the fact that in 2015 for the first time in a long time there is a large budget deficit in Riyadh.

According to official government estimates, its volume will reach nearly 31.6 billion euros.

According to the draft budget for this year, Saudi Arabia has planned revenues of 715 billion riyals (156 billion euros) and expenses in the amount of 860 billion riyals (187 billion euros). Experts believe that Saudi Arabia, the largest oil exporter in the world, will all the same maintain its current strategic policy and will not cause problems in the market.

However, the Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources of Saudi Arabia Ali ibn Ibrahim Al-Nuaimi made ​​some pretty harsh statements.

“If I cut production, what will happen to my market share? The price will go up, and Russian, Brazilian, and American producers of shale oil will take away my share,” said the Saudi minister. “It does not matter if the price falls to $20 per barrel, $40 per barrel, $50 per barrel, or $60 per barrel.”

Women driving in Saudi Arabia is still a  problem

Women driving in Saudi Arabia is still a problem

It is obvious that the decline in oil prices created new challenges to be faced by King Salman.

First, the kingdom has for decades essentially bought its own internal stability by creating an unusually generous welfare system, in which citizens have free access to health services, receive an education, and have other benefits.

Indeed, since the beginning of the “Arab Spring”, the Saudi government has made great efforts in order to avoid public discontent. Additional funds have been spent under the state program for the unemployed and the poor.

The royal family tried to maintain calm on the streets of the country at any cost, which to this day, at first sight, it succeeded in doing. Unrest and protests faded almost before they began.

During the period of external peace and order over the last three years 60,000 new jobs were created in the security structures. To maintain such a system would be much more difficult, as oil prices have fallen to their lowest level in decades.

Second, with the help of huge oil revenues, Saudi Arabia has created one of the most powerful armies in the Middle East, buying large quantities of modern American weapons and military equipment, as well as hiring thousands of American and European soldiers to train their troops. Now the Saudis have to reduce their expenses, including on the country’s defence and on helping Arab countries.

The Saudis are awash in weapons, including nuclear

The Saudis are awash in weapons, including nuclear

For example, the United States alone in the period 2006-2013 supplied Riyadh with 7.480 billion dollars worth of weapons.

The portfolio of orders generated during the same period amounted to 57.427 billion dollars. According to the existing portfolio, in 2014-2017 the US will export weapons to Saudi Arabia worth 38.873 billion dollars.

At the same time, the new king is faced with a deep crisis of power in neighbouring Yemen, where President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi resigned due to a group of pro-Iranian Shiite Houthis seizing the presidential palace and the capital of Yemen – Sana’a.

However, he since took his resignation letter back, but it is clear that it will not stop the fight for power. Yemen is currently falling apart before our eyes – it is a state without a government, and in fact the Yemeni president was an ally of Saudi Arabia.

Such a development clearly strengthens “Al- Qaeda” and threatens primarily the Saudi monarchy. It is worth knowing that the Houthis are a Shia minority, constituting 15% of the population of Yemen, which successfully rebelled against the government. Iran is using them to establish a bridgehead against Saudi Arabia, while the “Islamic State” threatens from the north, and “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula from the south.

Oddly enough, it has been forced to establish relations with the United States, which have recently been shaken somewhat. The Obama administration is dissatisfied that the oil policy, which Riyadh has enacted in recent years, is causing tremendous harm to oil companies in the United States.

Washington is displeased that on the Syrian front the Saudis conducting their own policy, not looking back at the White House.

In this regard, US Vice President Joe Biden put it rather bluntly:

“The biggest challenge in Syria were our allies in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries. They sought to overthrow Assad with such determination that they provided hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons to anyone who was willing to fight against him.”

Saudi Arabia's backing of ISIL made it a state sponsor or terror, another one

Saudi Arabia’s backing of ISIL made it a state sponsor or terror, another one

This fact was confirmed by the head of the political committee of the “Hezbollah” brigades in Iraq, Hussein al-Ramahi, who stated that boxes of weapons and ammunition captured by the “Islamic state” bore markings indicating that they belonged to Saudi Arabia.

“Arms and ammunition were seized by Iraqi security forces and militia in the territories liberated from the control of the IS,” – said al-Ramahi, noting that the captured boxes were dropped to terrorists from aircraft, on which there were no identifying markings.

Now is the time for King Salman to either continue to stick to his line, or be forced to negotiate with Washington on joint policy not only in Syria but also in the entire Middle East region.

But in this case he will have to forget about Saudi ambitions and continue to play the role of a junior partner of the United States. But which do the young princes like more, who sleep and see how to modernize their country and start to play a role at least as a regional centre with their enormous financial means.

It is natural that the issue of relations with Iran is an important item on the agenda of the new king, or rather opposition to the ayatollahs who in recent years have consistently strengthened their position in the region.

Despite the lack of high-level dialogue between the US and Iran, despite the endless negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program, Tehran is gradually turning into an important partner for Washington.

Currently, they are united by a common interest – weakening the “Islamic State”. Saudi Arabia also supports this objective, but from the very beginning it was on the side of the Syrian rebels seeking overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.

Tehran’s close contacts with Damascus and good relations with the Shiite leadership in Iraq make Iran a more valuable ally to the United States.

Hezbollah's Nasrhalla was walked a tightrope for a long time

Hezbollah’s Nasrallah was walked a tightrope for a long time

Saudi Arabia, in which the conservative version of Sunni Islam is the official religion, is accused of at least ideologically supporting Sunni extremists and jihadism. Shiite Iran does not have to face such claims.

This is despite the fact that Iran supports the Lebanese movement “Hezbollah”, which is helping Bashar al-Assad, fighting the Syrian rebels, and is considered a terrorist organization by the EU.

But, in contrast to the “Islamic State”, the organization “Hezbollah” is not yet a direct threat to the security of the Western states.

Both the US and Europe are hoping that Iran will have a chilling effect on “Hezbollah”, and to some extent affect the development of the Syrian conflict.

The situation — in which Tehran also has a significant impact on the Shiites of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen — forces the new king to take new efforts to counter Iran.

It is obvious that the future of Saudi Arabia and the position of the king himself, as written by the Egyptian newspaper “Al-Ahram”, will largely depend on how well he will cope with all of these challenging tasks, and whether he can place the kingdom in the concept of the twenty-first century.

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