China, Russia: barking (cowardly) dogs don’t bite
by major mitchell Saturday, Jan 7 2012, 9:26pm
As a British, Israeli and US naval flotilla quietly sails to the Persian Gulf in preparation for offensive action, the clawless and toothless Russian bear growls and the Chinese yellow dog (Chihuahua) yelps; we have heard and seen it all before, the APPEARANCE of opposition from the ‘other’ two superpowers.
But reality and recent history teach far better than lies and media fantasy.
From the Balkans to Libya, Russia and China FAILED (miserably) to support their allies and INTERESTS in the face of allied aggression, invasion and regime change; however, both timid superpowers maintain a high decibel ‘opposition’ to US and allied forces that (now) routinely go about their BUSINESS of Imperial expansion and eliminating any State government that refuses to acquiesce to Western Banking and Corporate interests!
We should not forget that Russia and China have also allowed NATO/US forces to close in on their border regions and gain the CRITICAL response/attack advantage while neither Russia nor China have retaliated or responded in kind.
It doesn’t take a genius to assess some basic facts; if indeed Russia and China present as REAL opposing forces to Western Banking and Corporate interests – as once did the USSR, in no uncertain terms – WHY then aren’t THEIR BATTLE SHIPS sailing to the Persian Gulf in support of Iran and to COUNTER the western Imperial fleet? A good question no doubt. Either they are part of the attack plan, as non-action partners or they are indeed what most commentators suspect, UNABLE TO CONTEND with the superior force of US/NATO. I suspect the first answer to be the more accurate as both powers are fully nuclear armed and capable of sophisticated space and digital warfare.
It is a KNOWN that the USA will not cease its military expansionism, in fact it is accelerating its Imperial policy, it must be STOPPED by external forces. We are also aware that the USA is a COWARDLY bully nation that only picks fights with much weaker nations. A joint pre-emptive, full-theatre/comprehensive strike by Russia and China would see the end of continental America and Western Europe and while the retaliatory response from the USA would cause serious damage, the Asian region as a whole, which extends down to Australia, would easily survive!
So take an educated guess on Iran and be aware of a mocking comment once made by a NATO official when asked a question about a possible Russian response in support of traditional ally Yugoslavia, “what can Russia do,” implying NOTHING? That statement has now become an accurate historical REALITY and we can be sure that COWARDS and aggressive bullies do not change their spots!
Opposition from China and Russia, don’t make me laugh – we ALL learned as children that ACTION speaks louder than words -- woof woof, yelp yelp!
A good military commander faced with superior force is able to stand that force down with a REAL threat that cannot be ignored – but character, spine, superior strategy and gamesmanship are lacking in the armed forces these days. China and Russia should take note of the recent US indefinite detention law that was designed to place the US military above all other regulatory powers. It is high time the military took complete control of Russia and China – delays caused by vacillating politicians could mean the difference between victory and defeat.
From one soldier to another, I salute my comrades in arms, they know to whom I speak.
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Western Oil Companies Remain in Iraq after US troop withdrawal
by Dahr Jamail via gan - Al-Jazeera Sunday, Jan 8 2012, 8:59am
BAGHDAD, Iraq - On November 27, 38 months after Royal Dutch Shell announced its pursuit of a massive gas deal in southern Iraq, the oil giant had its contract signed for a $17bn flared gas deal.
Three days later, the US-based energy firm Emerson submitted a bid for a contract to operate at Iraq's giant Zubair oil field, which reportedly holds some eight million barrels of oil.
Earlier this year, Emerson was awarded a contract to provide crude oil metering systems and other technology for a new oil terminal in Basra, currently under construction in the Persian Gulf, and the company is installing control systems in the power stations in Hilla and Kerbala.
Iraq's supergiant Rumaila oil field is already being developed by BP, and the other supergiant reserve, Majnoon oil field, is being developed by Royal Dutch Shell. Both fields are in southern Iraq.
According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), Iraq's oil reserves of 112 billion barrels ranks second in the world, only behind Saudi Arabia. The EIA also estimates that up to 90 per cent of the country remains unexplored, due to decades of US-led wars and economic sanctions.
"Prior to the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, US and other western oil companies were all but completely shut out of Iraq's oil market," oil industry analyst Antonia Juhasz told Al Jazeera. "But thanks to the invasion and occupation, the companies are now back inside Iraq and producing oil there for the first time since being forced out of the country in 1973."
Juhasz, author of the books The Tyranny of Oil and The Bush Agenda, said that while US and other western oil companies have not yet received all they had hoped the US-led invasion of Iraq would bring them, "They've certainly done quite well for themselves, landing production contracts for some of the world's largest remaining oil fields under some of the world's most lucrative terms."
Dr Abdulhay Yahya Zalloum, an international oil consultant and economist who has spent nearly 50 years in the oil business in the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, agrees that western oil companies have "obtained concessions in Iraq's major [oil] fields", despite "there being a lack of transparency and clarity of vision regarding the legal issues".
Dr Zalloum added that he believes western oil companies have successfully acquired the lions' share of Iraq's oil, "but they gave a little piece of the cake for China and some of the other countries and companies to keep them silent".
In a speech at Fort Bragg in the wake of the US military withdrawal, US President Barack Obama said the US was leaving behind "a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people".
Of this prospect, Dr Zalloum was blunt.
"The last thing the US cares about in the Middle East is democracy. It is about oil, full stop."
A strong partnership?
A White House press release dated November 30 titled, "Joint Statement by the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee", said this about "energy co-operation" between the two countries:
"The United States is committed to supporting the Republic of Iraq in its efforts to develop the energy sector. Together, we are exploring ways to help boost Iraq's oil production, including through better protection for critical infrastructure."
Iraq is one of the largest oil exporters to the US, and has plans to raise its overall crude oil exports to 3.3m barrels per day (bpd) next year, compared with their target of 3m bpd this year, according to Assim Jihad, spokesman for Iraq's ministry of oil.
Jihad told Al Jazeera that Iraq has a goal of raising its oil production capacity to 12m bpd by 2017, which would place it in the top echelon of global producers.
According to Jihad, Iraq's 2013 production goal is 4.5m bpd, and in 2014 it is 5m bpd. The 2017 goal is ambitious, given that Iraq did not meet its 2011 goal, and many officials say 8m bpd capacity is more realistic for 2017.
Unexplored regions of Iraq could yield an additional 100bn barrels, and Iraq's production costs are among the lowest in the world.
To date, only about 2,000 wells have been drilled in Iraq, compared with roughly one million wells in Texas alone.
Globally, current oil usage is approximately 88m bpd. By 2030, global petroleum demand will grow by 27m bpd, and many energy experts see Iraq as being a key player in meeting this demand.
It is widely understood that Iraq will require at least $200bn in physical and human investments to bring its production capacity up to 12m bpd, from its current production levels.
Juhasz explained that ExxonMobil, BP and Shell were among the oil companies that "played the most aggressive roles in lobbying their governments to ensure that the invasion would result in an Iraq open to foreign oil companies".
"They succeeded," she added. "They are all back in. BP and CNPC [China National Petroleum Corporation] finalised the first new oil contract issued by Baghdad for the largest oil field in the country, the 17 billion barrel super giant Rumaila field. ExxonMobil, with junior partner Royal Dutch Shell, won a bidding war against Russia's Lukoil (and junior partner ConocoPhillips) for the 8.7 billion barrel West Qurna Phase 1 project. Italy's Eni SpA, with California's Occidental Petroleum and the Korea Gas Corp, was awarded Iraq's Zubair oil field with estimated reserves of 4.4 billion barrels. Shell was the lead partner with Malaysia's Petroliam Nasional Bhd., or Petronas, winning a contract for the super-giant Majnoon field, one of the largest in the world, with estimated reserves of up to 25 billion."
Zalloum says there is a two-fold interest for the western oil companies.
"There is development of the existing fields, but also for the explored but not-yet-produced fields," he said. "For the old fields, there are two types of development. One is to renovate the infrastructure, since for most of the past 25 years it has depreciated due to the sanctions and turmoil. Also, some of these fields have different stratum, so once they use innovative techniques like horizontal drilling, there is a huge potential in the fields they have explored."
But there are complicating factors. As a spasm of violence wracked Baghdad in the wake of the US military withdrawal and political rifts widen, Iraq's instability is evident.
"Iraq has lots of cheap-to-get oil, but it also has a multitude of problems - political, ethnic, tribal, religious etc - that have prevented them from exploiting it as well or as quickly as the Saudis," says Tom Whipple, an energy scholar who was a CIA analyst for 30 years. "Someday it may turn out that Iraq has more oil underground than Saudi Arabia. The big question is how stable it will be after the US leaves? So far it is not looking all that good."
Jihad, Iraq's ministry of oil spokesman, however, said attacks against Iraq's oil pipelines have minimal effect on production capabilities, and claimed "sabotage will not affect our oil production and exports because we can fix these damages within days, or even hours".
Whipple, a fellow at the Post-Carbon Institute, says Baghdad had driven a hard bargain with western oil companies.
"The only reason they are participating is because everybody else is and they hope to get a foot in the door in case some new government in Iraq changes its policies to let other outsiders make more money. Remember it is not all the traditional western oil companies that are in there; the Chinese, Russians and Singapore all want a piece of the action."
Spokesman Jihad told Al Jazeera that the reason many Iraqis think western oil companies are operating in Iraq is simply to steal Iraq's oil.
"These ideas were obtained during the regime of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein, and these are the wrong ideas," he said. "The future will help Iraqis understand these companies have come to work here to help Iraq sell its oil to help the people, and they work to serve the country."
Jihad admitted that his media office works "to help Iraqis understand the nature of the work of these companies and their investing in Iraq".
Despite the efforts of Jihad's office to prove otherwise, Iraqis Al Jazeera spoke with disagree.
"Only a naïve child could believe the Americans came here for something besides our oil," Ahmed Ali, an unemployed engineer, told Al Jazeera. "Nor can we believe their being here has anything to do with helping the Iraqi people."
Basim al-Khalili, a restaurant owner in Baghdad's Karada district, agrees.
"If Iraq had no oil, would America have sacrificed thousands of its soldiers and hundreds of billions of dollars to come here?"
Oil analyst Juhasz also agrees.
"The US and other western oil companies and their governments had been lobbying for passage of a new national law in Iraq, the Iraq Oil Law, which would move Iraq from a nationalised to a largely privatised oil market using Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs), a type of contract model used in just approximately 12 per cent of the world's oil market."
She explained that this agreement has been summarily rejected by most countries, including all of Iraq's neighbours, "because it provides far more benefits to the foreign corporation than to the domestic government".
But it has not been an easy road for the western oil companies in Iraq.
"Major western companies, such as Chevron and ConocoPhillips, that had hoped to sign contracts were unable to do so. A third round [of contracts] took place in December 2010 and saw no major western oil companies (except Shell) win contracts. I believe that there was an Iraqi backlash against the awarding of contracts to the large western major oil companies. Thus, in December 2010, fields went to Russian oil companies Lukoil and Gazprom, Norway's Statoil, and the Angolan company Sonangol, among others."
Unlike under Iraq's Oil Law, these contracts do not need to go through parliament, according to the central government. This means the contracts are being signed without public discourse.
"The public is against privatisation, which is one reason why the law has not passed," added Juhasz. "The contracts are enacting a form of privatisation without public discourse and essentially at the butt of a gun - these contracts have all been awarded during a foreign military occupation with the largest contracts going to companies from the foreign occupiers' countries. It seems that democracy and equity are the two largest losers in this oil battle."
Iraq's oil future
Under the current circumstances, the possibility of a withdrawal of western oil companies from Iraq appears remote, and the Obama administration continues to pressure Baghdad to pass the Iraq Oil Law.
Nevertheless, resistance to the western presence continues.
"The bottom line is that it seems clear that the majority of Iraqis want their oil and its operations to remain in Iraqi hands," said Juhasz. "Thus far, it has required a massive foreign military invasion and occupation to grant the foreign oil companies the access they have thus far garnered."
While Iraq's security remains as volatile as ever, as does the political landscape - which can change dramatically at any moment - there is one thing we can always count on as being at the heart of these conflicts, and that is Iraq's oil.
© 2012 Al-Jazeera
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