Archive | January 30th, 2019

Global Economy on the Brink as Davos Crowd Parties On

NOVANEWS

 

By Dr. Jack RasmusOn the eve of this year’s World Economic Forum gathering, some of the most powerful, wealthy, and more prescient capitalists have begun to speak out to their capitalist cousins, raising red flags about what they believe is an approaching crisis. Read more…

WMD Take Two: Chemical Weapons Claims in Syria

By Prof. Tim AndersonHow do we know that every single allegation of Syrian Government use of chemical weapons use (2013 to 2018) was a fabrication? By ignoring, so far as possible, the propaganda storm of the warring parties and focusing on independent evidence and admissions. Read more…

UN: 254 Palestinians Killed, 23,000 Injured in Gaza Protests

By Middle East MonitorMore than 250 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli army fire and over 23,000 injured since the start of the “Great March of Return” protests in the besieged Gaza Strip on 30 March until the end of last year, UN OCHA revealed in a report yesterday. Read more…

Korea: A Brief History Explains Everything

By Dana VisalliA good starting point for understanding the ongoing conflict between North and South Korea is the agreement between the United States and Japan in 1905, known as the Taft-Katsura Memorandum, which was signed as Japan was defeating Russia in the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese War. Read more…

How the Corruption of Science Contributes to the Collapse of Modern Civilization

By Richard Gale and Dr. Gary NullMedical journals have been thoroughly hijacked by the pharmaceutical industry as have departments at universities and research institutions that are principally funded by private interests. Read more…

A Morally Right Decision: Support the BDS Movement, Do Not Allow Israelis to Enter Malaysia for Sport Event

By Dr. Chandra MuzaffarThe decision of the Malaysian government not to allow Israelis to enter the country to participate in the World Para Swimming Championships in Sarawak in July-August 2019 is both politically correct and morally right. Read more…

“Islamic Fundamentalism”: Unraveling a Vague and Ambiguous Term Used by Western Mainstream Media Against Islam and Muslims

By Prof. Henry Francis B. EspirituThe term “Islamic fundamentalism” is definitely a misnomer. The term “Islamic fundamentalism” has not been derived from Islamic Scriptures, nor does any group of Muslims utilize this appellation of ‘Islamic fundamentalists.’ This term is just a misappropriation of the modern Western religious term “fundamentalism” to Muslims. Read more…

Posted in WorldComments Off on Global Economy on the Brink as Davos Crowd Parties On

CNN Goes ‘Undercover’ to Manufacture Consent for Coup Attempt in Venezuela

A CNN “exclusive” report from inside Venezuela aired multiple times on the network on January 28. It is a prime example of how influential media outlets in the U.S. effectively create propaganda for the opposition, which now is receiving funds from President Donald Trump’s administration.

For the four-minute report, CNN correspondent Nick Paton Walshwent “undercover” amidst what the network described as the “deepening crisis in Venezuela” in order “to capture the desperation gripping the nation.”

The segment highlighted hyperinflation at grocery chains, Venezuelans lined up in queues for fuel and food, particularly in Caracas, and opposition demonstrations on January 23, when opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself president of the country.

“This was the day when change was meant to come,” Walsh stated.

It suggested President Nicolas Maduros government has given “handouts” to Venezuelans for years to buy their loyalty, but now “handouts” are no longer enough. Opponents like to equate social programs to “handouts” because corporate elites favor de-nationalization and privatization of services.

Walsh interviewed a rank-and-file officer in the Venezuela military and granted him anonymity. The officer stated,

“I would say 80 percent of soldiers are against the government. Some even go to demonstrations. But the big fishes, the senior officers, are the ones eating, getting rich while the bottom we have it hard.”

Video showed the opposition throwing stones at a military airfield in a standoff that apparently has lasted “for months.” One part of the barricade was on fire.

Sitting with his back against what appeared to be a concrete barricade, like he was part of the opposition hurling objects, Walsh declared,

“They may be throwing stones here, but what they really need is the army to switch sides.”

Walsh offered no comment on what it would mean for democracy in Venezuela if the military played an instrumental role in helping Guaido and a U.S.-led group of countries oust Maduro.

Another part of the report featured street children in Caracas. A 14 year-old boy recounted how his brother was killed in July by a member of a gang. He said he has to go through the garbage for food and beg so he does not go hungry.

Walsh did not show a cause-and-effect relationship, yet the boy’s poverty was wryly attributed to a “socialist utopia that now leaves nearly every stomach empty.”

On the surface, the report may have seemed balanced and neutral because CNN spoke to citizens caught in the middle of the political crisis. Yet, there was no clips of the tens of thousands of Maduro supporters who marched through Caracas the same day that Guaido claimed he was the country’s interim president.

CNN also omitted the role of U.S. sanctions and other measures in making Venezuela’s economic recovery nearly impossible.

According to Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), sanctions did not create hyperinflation in the country. However, they have made it incredibly difficult for the government to restructure their debt for a recovery.

In 2017, weeks before the Trump administration imposed new sanctions, a former top State Department official predicted they would cause the government to “default on their bonds and a collapse of internal investment and oil production.” They would spur “civil unrest, refugee flows across their borders, and a cutoff of Venezuelan financial support to Cuba and Haiti that could lead to migration flows to the United States.” (Note: It was estimated in June 2018 that about 35,000 refugees were crossing from Venezuela to Colombia each day.)

The same day that CNN aired their report the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned the country’s state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA). The company is a “primary source of Venezuela’s income and foreign currency,” including U.S. dollars and Euros, according to the Department.

National security adviser John Bolton said the sanctions would block $7 billion in assets and result in the loss of $11 billion in proceeds from exports over the next year.

Even after the Trump administration announced oil sanctions, CNN still largely ignored the potential effect of sanctions when it aired this “undercover” report another time.

Oil sanctions are likely to intensify the suffering for Venezuelans, not make their lives better. In the 1990s, Iraq faced sanctions from the United Nations on their oil exports as well as restrictions on other foreign trade. To many, it was “one of the decade’s great crimes” because the sanctions contributed to the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children.

In Iran, the poor bear the brunt of sanctions on oil that were re-imposed by the Trump administration. Financial Times reported in October on millions of Iranians, who were already stretched as “the value of the rial” had “plunged more than 70 per cent against the US dollar over the past year.”

“The sharp drop has pushed up import costs and stoked inflation, eroding purchasing power and leaving the most impoverished struggling to pay for basic goods such as meat, dairy products, and fruit,” FT noted.

As journalist Gregory Shupak previously highlighted for Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR),

“When Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in November 2017 proposed a meeting with creditors to discuss a restructuring of the country’s public debt, the Trump administration warned U.S. bondholders that attending this meeting could put them in violation of U.S. economic sanctions against Venezuela, which can be punished with 30 years in jail and as much as $10 million dollars in fines for businesses.”

“That same month, the U.S. government added further sanctions that prevent Venezuela from doing what governments routinely do with much of their debt, which is ‘roll it over’ by borrowing again when a bond matures. The sanctions also made it difficult if not impossible for Venezuela to undertake debt restructuring, a process wherein interest and principal payments are postponed and creditors receive new bonds, which the sanctions explicitly prohibit.”

Additionally, Francisco Rodriguez noted for Foreign Policy in 2018,

“Ninety-five percent of Venezuela’s export revenue comes from oil sold by the state-owned oil company. Cutting off the government’s access to dollars will leave the economy without the hard currency needed to pay for imports of food and medicine. Starving the Venezuelan economy of its foreign currency earnings risks turning the country’s current humanitarian crisis into a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe.”

This is not the first time that the opposition in Venezuela has destroyed the economy to help it win power. Back in 2002, the same year that President Hugo Chavez faced a coup backed by the U.S. government, his opponents “called for a massive strike in the country’s oil sector.”

“The strike brought oil production to a standstill and caused a double-digit recession in an attempt to get Chavez to resign,” Rodriguez recalled. “This event single-handedly convinced Venezuelans that they could not trust a political movement that was willing to destroy the economy in order to attain power. In a recall referendum held two years later, voters resoundingly backed Chavez.”

None of this history seems to matter to CNN anchors, who subscribe to the Washington bipartisan foreign policy consensus on Venezuela. Nor do they mention that it is not only Maduro’s security forces that commit violence. The opposition was involved in lynchings, burning people alive, and erecting barricades that cause deadly accidents in 2017. Some opposition leaders, including exiles like Lorent Saleh, have ties to neo-fascists.

When CNN anchor Jim Sciutto introduced the report, he mentioned Guaido had again urged the people of Venezuela to “hit the streets to demand new elections” in an effort to oust Maduro. It is easy to see how playing the report after this statement might help gin up sympathy for Guaido’s calls to action.

But apparently there is reason to believe the opposition may have the support of leaders from several Latin American and Western countries but still be struggling to win over the people.

Walsh noted the country is not seeing daily mass street protests. Guaido’s message may be resonating with some of the middle class, but it is not a message that inspires those in the slums, who have their own “poverty-based fight.”

In other words, it is likely that lower classes in Venezuela remain skeptical of the opposition because they fear it will mean inviting outside corporate interests to raid government assets and natural resources so they may enrich themselves. This would potentially lead to cuts or an end to social welfare programs that they utilize to help them survive.

This skepticism toward the opposition among Venezuelans is not something CNN wants to feature in its limited coverage of the attempted coup. But it should be viewed as a key reason to doubt the consensus around support for the opposition, which news networks are working to manufacture.

Posted in VenezuelaComments Off on CNN Goes ‘Undercover’ to Manufacture Consent for Coup Attempt in Venezuela

An Invasion of Venezuela Isn’t A “Far-Fetched Scenario”

NOVANEWS

While Guaido and his self-declared “government”(-in-waiting) are downplaying the prospects of a military invasion to topple Maduro, the reality is that such a scenario really isn’t all that far-fetched and could even succeed in the event that only a limited one was commenced in the ultra-strategic state of Zulia.

The Last Chance For Peace

Both supporters and detractors of the Venezuelan government seem to be of the mind that the country’s crisis is rapidly approaching a climax, with the specter of a military invasion looming large on the horizon. Each camp, and especially Guadio’s self-declared “government”(-in-waiting), has downplayed this possibility, but the reality is that such a scenario really isn’t all that far-fetched and could even succeed in the event that only a limited one was commenced in the ultra-strategic state of Zulia. This isn’t to say that an attack is imminent since there’s a chance that next week’s “Lima Group” meeting and the planned multilateral “mediation” summit in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo might yield some positive dividends, especially if Russia and China somehow get involved and turn the latter format into an Astana-like conference, but no one should discount the prospects of a military invasion being launched if neither of those functions results in Maduro quickly “compromising” on his principled position.

From Syria To Ukraine And Now Venezuela 

The danger of something of the sort happening is real enough after US National Security Advisor John Bolton was caught on camera with a notepad where he scribbled “5,000 troops to Colombia” in what was probably a “self-leak” to telegraph the US’ intentions and put additional pressure on Venezuela. Furthermore, this coincided with Colombian-based military defectors begging the US to arm them so they can overthrow their government. From the looks of it, the same “Lead From Behind” HybridWarscenario as what happened earlier this decade in Syria and Ukraine appears to be on the brink of repeating itself in Venezuela whereby the US’ most trusted regional allies (Turkey, Poland, and Colombia) are charged with being the vanguard proxy force for assisting a regime change operation in the neighboring country whose government the US wants to overthrow.

Continuing with the comparisons, each of the targeted country’s adjacent regions to the US’ “Lead From Behind” proxy state share certain strategic similarities vis-à-vis facilitating the Hybrid War against it. Northern Syria contains the country’s largest city of Aleppo and is historically a hotbed of Muslim Brotherhood sentiment, Western Ukraine is popularly known as the country’s nationalist nest, and the economically significant state of Zulia has traditionally been an opposition stronghold. Seeing as how this analysis is first and foremost about the prospects of a military invasion of Venezuela, the relevance of the third-mentioned region deserves to be elaborated upon in order to better understand its importance in this context and how it compares to the two aforementioned regions in the other previously victimized states.

Zulia: Venezuela’s Achilles’ Heel

Reuters reported last summer that Zulia, Venezuela’s most populous state where nearly 1/5 of the population resides, accounts for approximately 35% of the country’s meat and dairy production as well as around 25% of its oil exports.

Being the Bolivarian Republic’s historic source of oil, some demagogic voices have previously called for autonomy in order to retain as much of their region’s energy revenue as possible, though this initiative has thus far been unsuccessful. Nevertheless, in times of serious economic and political uncertainty such as the present, it could become an attractive rallying cry of the opposition.

It’s with this strategic backdrop in mind why Zulia might be targeted by US-backed and Colombian-based Venezuelan military defectors if diplomatic means fail to get Maduro to “compromise”. Just like the “Free Syrian Army” did in Northern Syria with US & Turkish assistance and “EuroMaidan’s” supporters accomplished in Western Ukraine with US & Polish backing prior to the coup’s success, so too could anti-government fighters try to take control of Zulia with US & Colombian support in trying to carve that part of the country away from the central government’s authority. The possible success of this scenario could cripple the rest of Venezuela by immediately depriving it of hefty food, energy, and ultimately financial resources that could bring about the state’s rapid collapse soon thereafter.

Catalyzing The Final Collapse

This isn’t just “senseless fearmongering” either because the removal of 35% of Venezuela’s meat and dairy products from the rest of the country’s shelves and the loss of a further 25% of its oil-exporting-dependent state revenue (which would compound with the effects of the US’ recently imposed sanctions that cut the country off from its top oil consumer who previously purchased 41% of its exports) would be catastrophic and likely catalyze the large-scale exodus of pro-government internally displaced people eastwards towards Caracas where they’d inadvertently function as “Weapons of Mass Migration” in the capital. Faced with an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, the government would face the realistic prospect of either collapse or a military coup, the latter of which might be partially financed by some of the $7 billion of PDVSA assets that Guaido obtained access to earlier this week.

Considering that the US officially recognizes Guaido and his allies as representing the “legitimate” government of Venezuela, Washington might use the occupation of Zulia as the pretext to directly intervene and protect any energy assets that the Hybrid Warriors sign over to its control like Bolton hinted that he’d like to see happen if the rolling regime change operation succeeds. The US could then use Zulia (possibly described as “Free Venezuela” by that time by the Western Mainstream Media) as its base of operations for putting the finishing touches on its envisioned “government-in-waiting” for the country, recognizing that it would only be a “waiting game” after that point as it sees how long it’ll take for the rest of the country to either collapse or be taken over by a pro-US military coup as it descends further into dystopic chaos.

Concluding Thoughts

The US would ideally prefer for Maduro to peacefully step down as a result of a “compromise” political solution brought about by the forthcoming diplomatic initiatives set to be launched next week because that would be the easiest way for its companies to reap the most immediate and maximum profit from their country’s geopolitical “prize” if they simply assume ownership over its energy and mineral assets soon thereafter. Should that approach fail, however, then the back-up plan might be for the Bolivarian Republic’s “Achilles’ heel” of Zulia to be invaded by US-backed “moderate rebels” that would enter the state from Colombia following the “Lead From Behind” Hybrid War template trailblazed in Syria and Ukraine. The possible success of this “limited intervention” could serve as the pretext for a direct conventional one by the US itself, as well as catalyze the collapse of the rest of the country in bringing a quick end to this long-running regime change campaign.

Posted in USA, VenezuelaComments Off on An Invasion of Venezuela Isn’t A “Far-Fetched Scenario”

Liberté, Égalité, Impérialisme! Vive la France in Black Africa!

Paul Kagame’s troops most likely shot down a plane carrying two African presidents, igniting genocides that killed millions — but the Rwandan President has never been charged.

“Former Rwandan General Nyamwasa said that Kagame most definitely ordered his troops to shoot down the plane carrying the Rwandan and Burundian presidents.”

Geopolitics trumped international justice again — just in time for Christmas. On December 21, a French court closed the long-running case against Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his inner circle for assassinating Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira on April 6, 1994, when a surface-to-air missile downed their plane over Rwanda’s capital Kigali.

Nearly twenty-five years later, there are still no convictions for the assassinations that turned first Rwanda, then the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), into a vast killing ground. Not in the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda (ICTR), where two investigations of Kagame were shut down, and where a judge told defense attorney Tiphaine Dickson, “We don’t investigate plane crashes [or Tutsis, only Hutus].” And not in the French or Spanish courts, where French and Spanish citizens claimed jurisdiction because their relatives died in the plane shot down or in the ensuing massacres.

“The US and UK backed Kagame’s invading Tutsi army, which then invaded and occupied French-speaking Zaire.”

The subtext of the Rwandan War and the Congo Wars was competition between the US/UK and France. France, which was then the dominant power in the region, had been the patron of Habyarimana’s Hutu government; the US and UK backed Kagame’s invading Tutsi army, which emerged victorious in 1994, declared that English would from thereon be Rwanda’s international business language, then invaded and occupied French-speaking Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) two years later.

France and Rwanda have engaged in a bitter argument off and on for all these years about who was responsible for the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. Their embassies have often been closed in one another’s capitals, and France
pulled out  of the 20th anniversary commemoration in Kigali after President Kagame once again accused France of participating in the killing.

“Kagame’s troops followed the refugees into Zaire and massacred as many as 250,000.”

One of the recurring points of contention is Opération Turquoise, France’s emergency relief response, which began on June 23, 1994, several weeks before General Paul Kagame (now President Paul Kagame) seized power in Kigali. Some French officials who were in office at the time, most notably former French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé, have maintained that Opération Turquoise created a humanitarian corridor for Rwandan Hutus fleeing into Zaire, for fear of being massacred by General Kagame’s advancing Tutsi army. Kagame’s government has claimed that France instead provided an escape route for Hutus guilty of genocide, although the vast majority flooding into Zaire were civilians, including women, children, and the elderly. According to the 2010 UN Mapping Report on Human Rights Abuse in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1993-2003, Kagame’s troops followed the refugees into Zaire and massacred as many as 250,000.

In “Dying to Live: A Rwandan Family’s Five-Year Flight Across the Congo,” Pierre-Claver Ndacyayisenga describes how he and his family and 300,000 more Rwandan Hutus fled Kagame’s advancing army all the way through the Congolese jungle, from east to west, as many more died of hardship or were massacred by Kagame’s troops along the way.

The authors of the UN Mapping Report said that the massacres in Congo would most likely be ruled a genocide if a case were brought to court, but none has been and none ever will be without a major geopolitical shift in power. In 2013, in one of his many cynical moments, Bill Clinton told BBC journalist Komla Dumor that he would not condemn his friend Paul Kagame for murdering the refugees because “it hasn’t been adjudicated.” (And because it happened on his watch, with his support, as did the 1998 Rwandan and Ugandan invasions of DRC, during which Kagame and Uganda’s Museveni became what another UN report called “the godfathers of the illegal exploitation of natural resources and the continuation of the conflict in the DRC.”)

“The UN Mapping Report said that the massacres in Congo would most likely be ruled a genocide if a case were brought to court.”

France of course wants its share, and French officials now in power have decided to close the case against Kagame in order to secure access to Congo’s riches, which he significantly controls. The court’s ruling came shortly after Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo became Secretary-General of La Francophonie, an international organization similar to the British Commonwealth, in what was widely perceived to be another concession to smooth French-Rwandan relations and ease France’s access to Congo’s riches.

Kayumba Nyamwasa, former Rwandan General, Chief of Army Staff, and Chief of Military Intelligence, was also named as a defendant in the French indictment. Speaking to Jane Corbin in the BBC video “Rwanda’s Untold Story,” he said that Kagame most definitely ordered his troops to shoot down the plane carrying the Rwandan and Burundian presidents:

Jane Corbin: Who do you believe was behind the shooting down of the plane?

Kayumba Nyamwasa: Paul Kagame, undoubtedly.

JC: Paul Kagame?

KN: Oh yes, oh yes.

JC: You know that?

KN: One hundred percent.

JC: Were you at meetings where it was discussed?

KN: Well, I know. I was in a position to know, and he knows I was in a position to know. And he knows that.

BBC interjection: General Nyamwasa has offered to cut a deal with the French judge totestify.

JC: If you discuss these matters with the judge and it implicates you yourself, are you willing to do that?

KN: Obviously. If it implicated me? Why not? Because I think that truth is what matters.

Closing the case is not acquitting

The French court said they were closing the case for lack of “credible” and “significant” evidence despite abundant such evidence. That does not mean, however, that they acquitted Kagame, Nyamwasa, or anyone else who was in Kagame’s inner circle at the time Habyarimana and Ntaryamira were assassinated. As Rwandan American legal scholar Charles Kambanda said, “This is a political decision which could well be superseded by another political decision to reopen the file when there is additional ‘credible’ and ‘significant’ evidence.” In other words, France has mollified Kagame for now, but it’s kept a knife behind its back.

Posted in AfricaComments Off on Liberté, Égalité, Impérialisme! Vive la France in Black Africa!

US Sanctions as a Tool to Perpetuate Neocolonialism

NOVANEWS

It’s an evident fact that neocolonial powers are ruled by behemoth corporations whose wealth is measured in hundreds of billions of dollars, far more than the total GDP of many developing nations. The status of these multinational corporations as dominant players in international politics gets official imprimatur when the Western governments endorse the congressional lobbying practice of so-called “special interest” groups, which is a euphemism for corporate interests.

Since the Western governments are nothing but the mouthpiece of business interests on international political and economic forums, therefore any national or international entity which hinders or opposes the agenda of corporate interests is either coerced into accepting their demands or gets sidelined.

In 2013, the Manmohan Singh’s government of India had certain objections to further opening up to the Western businesses. The Business Roundtable, which is an informal congregation of major US businesses and together holds a net wealth of $6 trillion, held a meeting with the representatives of the Indian government and literally coerced it into accepting unfair demands of the Western corporations.

The developing economies, such as India and Pakistan, are always hungry for foreign direct investment (FDI) to sustain economic growth, and this investment mostly comes from the Western corporations. When the Business Roundtables or the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) form pressure groups and engage in “collective bargaining” activities, the nascent and fragile developing economies don’t have a choice but to toe their line.

State sovereignty, that sovereign nation states are at liberty to pursue independent policies, particularly economic and trade policies, is a myth. Just like the ruling elites of the developing countries which maintain a stranglehold and monopoly over domestic politics; similarly, the neocolonial powers and multinational corporations control international politics and the global economic order.

Any state in the international arena which dares to transgress the trade and economic policies laid down by neocolonial powers and multinational corporations becomes an international pariah like Castro’s Cuba, Mugabe’s Zimbabwe; or more recently, Maduro’s Venezuela.

Venezuela has one of the largest known oil reserves in the world. Even though the mainstream media’s pundits hold the socialist policies of President Nicolas Maduro responsible for economic mismanagement in Venezuela, fact of the matter is that hyperinflation in its economy is the effect of US sanctions against Venezuela which have been put in place since the time of late President Hugo Chavez.

Another case in point is Iran which was cut off from the global economic system from 2006 to 2015, and then again after May last year when President Donald Trump annulled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), because of Iran’s supposed nuclear ambitions. Good for Iran that it also has one of the largest oil and gas resources, otherwise it would have been insolvent by now.

Such is the power of Washington-led global financial system, especially the banking sector, and the significance of petro-dollar, because the global oil transactions are pegged in the US dollars all over the world, and all the major oil bourses are also located in the Western financial districts.

The crippling “third party” economic sanctions on Iran from 2006 to 2015 have brought to the fore the enormous power that the Western financial institutions and the petro-dollar as a global reserve currency wields over the global financial system.

It bears mentioning that the Iranian nuclear negotiations were as much about Iran’s nuclear program as they were about its ballistic missile program, which is an equally dangerous conventional threat to Israel and the Gulf’s petro-monarchies, just across the Persian Gulf.

Despite the sanctions being unfair, Iran felt the heat so much that it remained engaged in negotiations throughout the nearly decade-long period of sanctions, and such was the crippling effect of those “third party” sanctions on Iran’s economy that had it not been for its massive oil and gas reserves, and some Russian, Chinese and Turkish help in illicitly buying Iranian oil, it could have defaulted due to the sanctions.

Notwithstanding, after the brutal assassination of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, and the clear hand of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in the murder, certain naïve political commentators of the mainstream media came up with a ludicrous suggestion that Washington should impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia.

As in the case of aforementioned Iran sanctions, sanctioning Saudi Arabia also seems plausible; however, there is a caveat: Iran is only a single oil-rich state which has 160 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and has the capacity to produce 5 million barrels per day (mbpd) of crude oil.

On the other hand, the Persian Gulf’s petro-monarchies are actually three oil-rich states. Saudi Arabia with its 266 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and 10 mbpd of daily crude oil production, and UAE and Kuwait with 100 billion barrels of proven reserves each and 3 mbpd of daily crude oil production each. Together, the share of the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) amounts to 466 billion barrels, almost one-third of the world’s 1477 billion barrels of total proven oil reserves.

Therefore, although imposing economic sanctions on the Gulf states might sound like a good idea on paper, the relationship between the Gulf’s petro-monarchies and the industrialized world is that of a consumer-supplier relationship. The Gulf states are the suppliers of energy and the industrialized world is its consumer, hence the Western powers cannot sanction their energy suppliers and largest investors.

If anything, the Gulf’s petro-monarchies had “sanctioned” the Western powers in the past by imposing the oil embargo in 1973 after the Arab-Israel War. The 1973 Arab oil embargo against the West lasted only for a short span of six months during which the price of oil quadrupled, but Washington became so paranoid after the embargo that it put in place a ban on the export of crude oil outside the US borders, and began keeping sixty-day stock of reserve fuel for strategic and military needs.

Recently, some very upbeat rumors about the shale revolution have been circulating in the media. However, the shale revolution is primarily a natural gas revolution. It has increased the probable recoverable resources of natural gas by 30%. The shale oil, on the other hand, refers to two starkly different kinds of energy resources: firstly, the solid kerogen – though substantial resources of kerogen have been found in the US Green River formations, the cost of extracting liquid crude from solid kerogen is so high that it is economically unviable for at least a hundred years; secondly, the tight oil which is blocked by shale – it is a viable energy resource but the reserves are so limited, roughly 4 billion barrels in Texas and North Dakota, that it will run out in a few years.

More than the size of oil reserves, it is about per barrel extraction cost, which determines the profits for the multinational oil companies. And in this regard, the Persian Gulf’s crude oil is the most profitable. Further, regarding the supposed US energy independence after the purported shale revolution, the US produced 11 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil in the first quarter of 2014, which is more than the output of Saudi Arabia and Russia, each of which produces around 10 million bpd. But the US still imported 7.5 million bpd during the same period, which is more than the oil imports of France and Britain put together. More than the total volume of oil production, the volume which an oil-producing country exports determines its place in the hierarchy of petroleum and the Gulf’s petro-monarchies constitute the top tier of that pyramid.

Posted in VenezuelaComments Off on US Sanctions as a Tool to Perpetuate Neocolonialism


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