Monday, January 19, 2015

Energy, Cyber, All Forms of Cold War, Getting Hotter



Energy, Cyber, All Forms of Cold War, Getting Hotter

Russia's "Turk Stream" Pipeline Idea: A New Energy Move against Europe?


Recently I had circulated an article "Oil Wars -Dramatic Collapse of oil Prices, Ruble and Euro; Little Indian Thought on the Windfall " which included an excellent article on oil wars by William Engdahl, a well-known expert on energy , strategic and economic subjects with some of my comments.


I am taking the liberty of circulating an interesting article on the oil and energy wars taking place. taking place in Greater Middle East and Eurasia, although written from Western perspective. When Moscow demands a reasonable price for its gas and oil from Ukraine, it is claimed extortion by Washington and Brussels. But extortion and killing of people around the world has been the game of U.S.-led West and some of its allies in Middle East and the Gulf.


Whistleblower Snowden , God bless his tribe ,clearly explained the octopus and squid like grip on international communications because of the use of Internet which is controlled from USA. Almost all Western powers and even Eastern powers are into the game, but Western powers have technological advantage. However, like the terrorists or stirred up Muslims in the words of Brzezinski , the former have also got into the game of hacking. It was suggested that if the hackers could get hold of control points from where the cable leads go out to civil installations like power stations etc ( not all can be guarded ) are disabled for even some hours, it will create havoc in USA and the Western world.


A counterpart of this is the Muslim terrorists or stirred up Muslims who attacked Charlie Hebdo and killed in the process 17 persons, including cartoonists ,editors and others .More than that they brought the city of Paris to a standstill. Much worse kind Hulegu like chaos and destruction have been brought upon Libya, Syria ,Ukraine by U.S.-led West. This kind of individual or group attacks from among many disaffected and stirred up Muslims could happen in France, Germany and other European countries unless Washington and its allies give up its naked aggression and terrorism, especially in the Middle East and Ukraine, apart from North Africa and almost wherever you go.


The world is going to see more and more turmoil in Europe and going into heart of America, where disproportionately large number of blacks has been imprisoned many for no reason. This is a hunting ground for stirred up Muslims looking for revenge against what USA has done against Muslims in the rest of the world.


Extracts from my article on 11 September, 2001 anniversary.


"African-American Walter Mosley, Bill Clinton's favorite novelist, recently said: "Most black people in America were not surprised by September 11. I haven't met one black person who was surprised. Like everyone else, they were shocked by the magnitude of it, and appalled by the deaths, but they weren't surprised by the hate and anger that produced it. Black Americans are very aware of the attitude of America towards people who are different, people whose beliefs are different, people of a different color. We live with that attitude every single day. We know how hated America is."

The danger to the US "way of life and stability" could come from within, from black American Muslims who now number 3 million to 5 million. Black Americans are now joining the armed forces in large numbers after the compulsory military draft was abolished.

The black community and Muslims remember many historic wrongs done to them. Of the 2 million Americans in prisons, two-thirds are non-white. Many feel oppressed by the white power structure and sentencing disparities, which too often fall most harshly on minorities. Islam offers brotherhood, dignity, and a sense of pride and solidarity, especially for non-whites. But many, alienated and disfranchised, are prime targets for radical Islamists who preach a religion of violence, of overcoming oppression by jihad. Many black Americans have experienced maltreatment and dehumanization. Conversion to Islam increased after September 11, even among Hispanics

As I have said many times the Cold War never finished as far as West is concerned. Let me again briefly state it again.

In late 1980s President Ronald Reagan hoodwinked a naïve Mikhail Gorbachev by threatening Moscow with Star Wars (on which hundreds of billions of dollars have been sunk without a proved destruction of an incoming missile yet). Obedient US corporate media flattered Gorbachev daily as a great democrat (The Russians rebuffed him when he got 0.50% of votes against his successor Boris Yeltsin, mostly drugged or drunk, in the 1996 presidential elections for the Russian Federation) 

Since the break-up of USSR it is believed that under the charade of globalization, between $400 billion to $ one trillion wealth was transferred from Russia to the West on advice by throngs of Harvard trained and other business experts in league with complicit Russians, mostly former Communists. The Soviet Union's collapse was ruthlessly exploited by US led West. Its capitalist controlled media sang praises of economic reforms and democratization which brought economic disintegration and ruination to Russia and the worst kind of depression in modern history with economic losses more than twice those suffered by USSR in World War II. Russian GDP was trimmed to half and capital investment fell by 80 percent. People were reduced to penury and misery, death rates soared and the population shrank. According to an estimate an extra million Russians died. And in August 1998, the Russian financial system collapsed. 

In what has been described as the Piratization of Russia, the plunder of its natural resources is a story of intrigue, adventure, and of the incestuous relationship between government leaders, corporate directors, and bankers. It is about insider deals, golden parachutes, corporate jets, villas in the south of France and Spain, and instant millionaire status for those who shrewdly played the game. It created seven (six Jews) Oligarchs , half of whom have escaped or do not live in Russia and one remains jailed in Siberia for trying to take over the country on behalf of Western bankers and financiers. 

Finally Putin Stands up Tall and a Patriot

Vladimir Putin finally let go, at the 43rdannual International Security Conference held in Munich on 10 February, 2007,accusing Washington of provoking a new nuclear arms race by developing ballistic missile defenses, undermining international institutions, trying to divide modern Europe and making the Middle East more unstable through its clumsy handling of the Iraq war. 

Stephen F. Cohen in an article "The New American Cold War" wrote in 10 July 2006 issue of US magazine, 'The Nation" that since 1990s , Washington has followed hypocritical policy of "strategic partnership and friendship," with presidents being on first name basis but underneath, all US administrations have followed a ruthless policy of undermining Russia "accompanied by broken American promises, condescending lectures and demands for unilateral concessions. USA has been even more aggressive and uncompromising than was Washington's approach to the Soviet Communist Russia." 

With growing military encirclement of Russia, on and near its borders, by US and NATO bases, which are already ensconced or being planned in at least half the fourteen other former Soviet republics, from the Baltics and Ukraine to Georgia, Azerbaijan and the new states of Central Asia. US has built reverse iron curtain and there militarization of American-Russian relations. 

"A tacit (and closely related) US denial that Russia has any legitimate national interests outside its own territory, even in ethnically akin or contiguous former republics such as Ukraine, Belarus and Georgia." Late Richard Holbrooke, former US point man for Af-Pak had condemned Russia for promoting a pro-Moscow government in neighboring Ukraine, where Russia has centuries of shared linguistic, marital, religious, economic and security ties and declared ' that far-away Slav nation part of "our core zone of security."

"Even more, a presumption that Russia does not have full sovereignty within its own borders, as expressed by constant US interventions in Moscow's internal affairs since 1992 -- included an on-site crusade by swarms of American "advisers," to direct Russia's "transition" from Communism; endless missionary sermons from afar, often couched in threats, on how that nation should and should not organize its political and economic systems; and active support for Russian anti-Kremlin groups, some associated with hated Yeltsin-era oligarchs." 

It was even suggested that Putin be overthrown by the kind of US-backed "color revolutions" carried out since 2003 in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, and attempted this year in Belarus. (Do proponents of "democratic regime change" in Russia care what it might mean destabilizing a nuclear state?) -- Underpinning these components of the real US policy are familiar cold war double standards, condemning Moscow for doing what Washington does - such as seeking allies and military bases in former Soviet republics, using its assets (oil and gas in Russia's case) as aid to friendly governments and regulating foreign money in its political life. 

"More broadly, when NATO expands to Russia's front and back doorsteps, gobbling up former Soviet-bloc members and republics, it is "fighting terrorism" and "protecting new states"; when Moscow protests, it is engaging in "cold war thinking." When Washington meddles in the politics of Georgia and Ukraine, it is "promoting democracy"; when the Kremlin does so, it is "neo-imperialism." 

"When in the 1990s the US-supported Yeltsin overthrew Russia's elected Parliament and Constitutional Court by force, gave its national wealth and television networks to Kremlin insiders, imposed a constitution without real constraints on executive power and rigged elections, it was "democratic reform"; when Putin continues that process, it is "authoritarianism." 

So history never ended. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, U.S. led West along with its military arm NATO, moved first stealthily, then rampantly to roll back Russia from the strategic space it occupied as WWII victor in central and eastern Europe, beginning with the removal of Milosevic of Serbia, an Orthodox Slav people, traditional friends of Orthodox Slav Russians, after having encouraged divisions in the Yugoslav republics and then bombings ,with help from West European countries like Germany with old imperial memories.   

Democracy and Washington's Hypocrisy

Washington then brought about regime changes in Georgia and Ukraine and installed its puppets. The Guardian, Global search, New Statesman and other websites have documented covert and overt supporters of regime change. Some of these are the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Freedom House and George Soros' Open Society Institute. The NED has four affiliate institutes: The International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), the Center for International Private Enterprise(CIPE), and the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS).They" provide technical assistance to aspiring democrats worldwide."  

Oil Prices – A Rigged Game 

F. William Engdahl an eminent expert on politics of oil says that the oil price is by and large driven by massive speculation? For example in October last year the daily volume of crude traded on New York MEX was over 1 billion barrels per day while the total daily global demand was only 83 million barrels per day. Thus the amount traded on one single exchange is more than 10 times total daily consumption. It is a giant casino with prices being driven up by speculators (with stimulus funds and derivatives at hand) and consumers having to pay through their nose. In 2008 when price per barrel was spiked-up to $ 147 per barrel and Goldman Sachs was issuing client-advisories that it was going quickly to $ 200, and JP Morgan was advising the Chinese government that China 'buy all the physical crude it could since it was going to be $ 200, Engdahl wrote that roughly 60-70% of the price of oil then was pure speculation, manipulated by the GSCI, the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index. Thus Wall Street controls the oil price irrespective of supply and demand. The crucial ingredient these days is not the NYMEX for the global oil price benchmark, but the ICE Futures in London, a daughter company of the International Commodity Exchange of Atlanta in Georgia, owned by Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase etc. – the big oil banks that benefit enormously from the inside. There is absolutely no serious regulation of the ICE. 

In the Caspian energy region, Washington allowed Ilham Aliev to succeed his father Haidar Aliev, an ally, in a disputed 2003 election. In this 21st century struggle for the control of strategic space, energy sources and raw materials, US built up a million barrel a day Baku-Tibilsi-Ceyhan pipeline, an energy corridor to squeeze Russia and Iran out from energy transportation to Europe. Stationing of troops in Georgia and Azerbaijan to guard it is a strategic menace in the region, especially for Azerbaijan's southern neighbor Iran, part of the US Axis of Evil and on its hit list off and on. Azerbaijan is now moving away from the West under influence of Moscow.

But West is coming out second best in the control over energy resources in the Caspian and central Asia and its transfer to Europe. Germany is going ahead with energy cooperation with Russia .In any case where else Europe can buy oil or gas. (India is succumbing to US pressure on its oil purchases from Iran. India lies supine before Washington when asked to bend, whatever was the color of the coalition government in New Delhi) Control of energy resources and manipulation of its price is a potent weapon in Wall Street's hands to browbeat opponents and even allies.  

Below is an article on the energy wars in Middle East, greater Middle East and Eastern Europe, Black Sea and the Caspian Sea


K.Gajendra Singh 17 January 2015. Delhi 

Russia's "Turk Stream" Pipeline Idea: A New Energy Move against Europe?




January 14 2015 20:21


Russia continues to play hardball with natural gas for the European Union, trying to get Brussels to sacrifice Ukraine in return for the promise of better relations with Moscow. The European Commission's vice-president for energy union, Maros Sefcovic, visited Russia on January 14 to ask exactly what Moscow's intentions were about the now-cancelled South Stream pipeline. Russian President Vladimir Putin had announced late last year a Russian plan to substitute for it a huge 63 billion cubic meter per year (bcm/y) pipeline project under the Black Sea to Turkey and then up to the Turkish-Greek border.


Moscow Tries to Turn the Natural Gas Pipeline Screw

Sefcovic was told that Russian shipments of natural gas through Ukraine would end and that if the EU wanted the gas, then it would have to get it through the new planned pipeline, which Russia has suggested could be called "Turk Stream".


But it is far from clear that Russia and Turkey can arrive at terms for implementing the project, even if Europe bends to the Russian pressure. For example, the day after Putin's announcement of the new pipeline project in December, the Turkish energy minister said his country would really prefer LNG terminals for export to the world at large, instead of merely a passing gas through to Europe. And the Turkish vice-premier remarked earlier this month that the Azerbaijani-sponsored Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline (TANAP) would take precedence over any new Russian project.


That may be because TANAP is already agreed between Turkey and Azerbaijan and soon to be under construction. Even before Sefcovic's visit to Moscow, the EU had asked for TANAP's initial volume to be scaled up from the initial 16 to 20 bcm/y. The additional volume could come from sources in Azerbaijan or the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq.

Understanding the Multi-dimensional Natural Gas Chessboard

Russia, Iran and Iraq in the Broader Setting


Russia wants to prevent Kurdish and also Iranian gas from reaching European markets. However, Iranian leaders have recently stated that their own domestic supply needs would supersede any European wishes, in the event of any further investment in production facilities. So it is a pipedream for Europe to get gas from Iran, although on the political level this question remains in the rhetorical mix over the Iranian nuclear question, despite its being a non-starter by Teheran's own declaration.


This does not prevent European companies, following the partial lifting of sanctions by the U.S. President Barack Obama, from undertaking preliminary negotiations with the Iranian regime for future investment. However, it is perhaps telling that of the about 50 energy companies that have done so, none has considered it useful to pursue the matter further. For this, the lack of transparency and extreme centralization of Iranian energy industry decision making are among the more responsible factors.


People in Southeastern Europe are still paying attention to the prospect, however dim, of Russian-Turkish energy cooperation, in part because these are two large countries that are close by, and they naturally dominate the local international news. Sefcovic met Bulgaria's president Boyko Borisov earlier this week. Borisov wishes to turn Bulgaria into a gas hub for Southeastern Europe.


The Place of Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Iraq

Russian gas exports to Europe through Ukraine have fallen by over half from a decade ago, when they averaged 130-140 bcm/y, to 62 bcm in 2014: a figure almost exactly equal to the volume bruited for the new undersea Russian-Turkish gas pipeline. The KRG in northern Iraq would be able to supply about 7 bcm/y to Europe without much difficulty.

Azerbaijan, with its vast offshore natural gas deposits, could take up a good deal of the slack merely by accelerating their development, if justified by European demand. This would make it possible for Azerbaijan to scale up to 30 bcm/y with its own supply by itself.

The question here is to what degree Baku, which has somewhat de-Westernized its geo-economic orientation over the last two years due to pressure from Moscow that the West ignored or did not care enough to balance, would cede to Russian wishes for decreased Azerbaijani gas exports to Europe, in order to increase the pressure from the new threatened Russian cutoff.


The deputy head of Russia's Natural Energy Security Fund, Aleksei Grivach, has already placed a marker here, saying that Azerbaijan would be unable to supply more that 15 bcm/y of TANAP's possible scaled-up volume of 30 bcm/y and that "Gazprom has the right[!] to count on the remaining capacity in the pipe": even though Gazprom has no stake in the pipeline construction consortium or the bilateral Azerbaijani-Turkish supply and purchase agreements.

Does the New Russian Project Threaten a New Cutoff to Europe?

The new Russian ploy does amount to the threat of a new cutoff, albeit one with a kindler, gentler face. The threat came from Gazprom chief Alexei Miller while the EU minister Sefcovic was in Moscow. Miller bluntly told the press, "We have informed our European partners, and now it is up to them to put in place the necessary infrastructure starting from the Turkish-Greek border."


Sefcovic told the press that he was "very surprised" by Miller's statement, and that a route through Turkey simply would not fit with the EU's gas system. He correctly observed that Southeast Europe does not need 63 bcm/y even if the pipeline is built. However, at lower volume it would probably have little chance of turning an economic profit.

Given the experiences of 2006 and 2009, for which Russia unsuccessfully tried to blame Ukraine, any new Russian pipeline does nothing for Europe's diversification strategy, aimed an insuring security of supply.


"We don't work like this," Sefcovic replied, referring to Miller's comment. "The trading system and trading habits, how we do it today, are different." Russia's energy minister Aleksandr Novak told that press that the decision to eliminate Ukraine as a transit country for Russian natural gas to Europe has been taken, implying its irreversibility.

It remains a very open question who could fund construction of the new proposed Russian-Turkish pipeline. Neither the Turks nor the Russians can; the Arab and Asian banks have no interest in doing so; and European banks cannot do so under the current sanctions. So in this light, the Russian move appears not just as new pressure against Ukraine but also as a strong-arm gambit to get the EU to drop sanctions.


Meet the New Problems, Same as the Old Problems

However, any new pipeline project would face the same problems as the old South Stream project. In particular, it would still have to comply with the pertinent Third Energy Package and other European rules.


Not only is it unsettled is who would pay for a new Russian-Turkish pipeline. Even unasked is the question: Why not just expand the existing Blue Stream pipeline? This was built a decade and a half ago and already takes Russian gas under the Black Sea to Turkey, although not overland to the Greek border. Certainly any expansion of the Blue Stream pipeline would be more cost-effective that a totally new pipeline laid entirely underwater. However, neither Turkey nor Russia seems to want this, perhaps for that reason: there would be a smaller pie of profits to divide among the parties concerned.

Yet even to persuade Ankara to subscribe to the announcement of the idea of a new underwater pipeline, Moscow was obliged to concede a 6 per cent discount in the sale price of gas to Turkey along with the promise of an increase of 3 bcm/y in Blue Stream throughput. This in turn merely reconfirms that the Blue Stream has never operated at full capacity and is in fact uneconomical.

That is because Blue Stream was not built to make an economic profit (except for the pipeline manufacturers) but rather as a state-supported geo-economic blocking-move against the late-1990s project for a Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan natural gas pipeline under the Caspian Sea, through which Central Asian gas could reach Europe.


The Still Bigger Stakes in EU-Russia Relations

The day before Sefcovic arrived in Moscow, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov told his Latvian counterpart that Russia would not pursue any dialogue with Europe over the EU's sanctions. Perhaps not coincidentally, two days later the EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini circulated a four-page paper to member-states that suggests in its details essentially a return to business as usual although denying this in the boilerplate political rhetoric at the head of the paper. However, for a variety of reasons, there is nearly certain to be no consensus in favor of this when EU foreign ministers meet early next week. For one thing, German chancellor Angela Merkel is on record as ruling out a reversal of sanctions until and unless the Minsk accords are fully implemented.

All this geo-economic and power-political jousting is conditioned by the fact that EU sanctions against Russia will begin to expire in three phases between March and July unless there is an EU consensus to keep them in place. Various national political leaders in various EU member-states have already suggested that they should be allowed to expire. However, the European Parliament is on record in favor of maintaining them unless a comprehensive settlement is implemented, including Russia's respect for the commitments that it has already undertaken, starting with but not limited to the withdrawal of all its forces from occupied eastern Ukraine.