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Geopolitics - July 28

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


The spirit of resistance

Pepe Escobar, Asia Times
As southern Lebanon is turned into a wasteland mirroring the Gaza gulag, Washington neo-cons may stridently celebrate the contours of a final solution for the Hamas-Hezbollah "problem". Or should they?

Israel's feverish military machine at least conveys the impression it knows exactly what it's doing - with its made-in-the-USA bombs destroying not just military but civilian targets. But this does not mean Israel is winning its war against Hezbollah.

...There's also the all-important matter of the waters of the Litani River in southern Lebanon. Israel might as well prepare the terrain now for the eventual annexation of the Litani.

Beyond Lebanon, Israel is mostly interested also in Syria. The motive: the all-important pipeline route from Kirkuk, in Iraqi Kurdistan, to Haifa. Enter Israel as a major player in Pipelineistan.

So Israel wants to grab water (and territory) from Palestine, water (and territory) from Lebanon and oil from Iraq. This all has to do with the inevitable - the 21st-century energy wars.
(25 July 2006)
The article does not dealve any deeper into the resource war perspective, but is an interesting read. -AF


Ethiopia invades Somalia

Larry Chin, Online Journal
While most of the world is focused on the Middle East, open war between Somalia and Ethiopia, an equally significant and parallel event, has been bumped from the headlines entirely. Another nation is in the process of being invaded and occupied, with US approval, based on the “war on terrorism” pretext.

As previously warned, resource-rich Somalia, a key geostrategic prize on the Horn of Africa, has been set up to fall. Mogadishu has been brimming with secular militias and death squads that the Bush administration has openly backed and guided. Each side has (correctly) accused the other of connections to “al-Qaeda.” Somalia’s top Islamic leader, Shiekh Hassan Dahir Aweys is accusing the US of having ties to Al-Qaeda. (He’s right.) Rest assured, the Bush administration and the CIA are playing all sides.

Just as Israel is doing the Bush administration’s dirtiest work in the Middle East, US-allied Ethiopia conveniently serves as a US surrogate going into Somalia. Also, as is the case in the Middle East, the expansion and escalation of the conflict may provide another convenient opportunity for outside military intervention.

Against worsening realities of world energy depletion (Peak Oil and Gas) and a teetering world economy, the Bush administration is desperate to pull off an end run, simultaneously destabilizing four geostrategic theaters (Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, Asia-Pacific). This is nuclear brinksmanship on an unprecedented scale.
(25 July 2006)


U.S. policy entangled by rising price of oil

Steven R. Weisman, NY Times via Intl Herald Tribune
WASHINGTON As violence spreads in the Middle East, the Bush administration is grappling with an unwanted side effect of its policies: higher oil prices caused by fears of a disruption in global oil supplies.

While the administration seeks to confront Iran, give Israel more time to defeat Hezbollah, and secure stability in Iraq, higher oil prices reduce its maneuvering room overseas and frustrate U.S. consumers at home.

...But just as international politics are complicating the oil market, the oil market is complicating diplomacy as its reshapes the global balance of power.

..."Oil has been embedded in our diplomacy for decades," said Stuart Eizenstat, who was an aide to President Jimmy Carter and under secretary of state for economics under President Bill Clinton. "It's always given producing countries leverage, but now that leverage is magnified more than ever before."

...Indeed, the extraordinary power of oil to transform world politics today extends far beyond Iran, or even the Middle East.

In April, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice complained that the hunt for oil and gas was "distorting international politics in a very major way." Now that comment is turning out to be both prophecy and understatement.

...Many analysts say energy issues are driving Russia and China into each other's arms politically, and that if anything U.S. policies are accelerating the trend.

Meanwhile, the new oil politics are rearranging the international playing board, not simply giving Iran latitude in the Middle East but allowing Venezuela, for another example, to try to blunt Washington's influence in Latin America.

"We are seeing a radical change in how countries like Russia, Iran and Venezuela on the supply side, and China and India on the demand side, bring the world marketplace to bear on foreign policy," said Carlos Pascual, a former top aide to Rice and now foreign policy studies director at the Brookings Institution.

"I don't think any of us have done a terribly good job of thinking through how far behind the eight ball we are on these issues," he said.
(25 July 2006)


Saudi Arabia's Shiites and their Effect on the Kingdom's Stability

John Solomon, Terrorism Monitor (Jamestown Foundation)
...Although there is little evidence of Shiite militancy inside the Saudi kingdom at present, the violence between Shiites and Sunnis in neighboring Iraq remains intense and could spill over into Saudi Arabia. Indeed, the specter of confessional violence looms as homegrown Saudi Salafi-Jihadists and the fighters returning from the jihad in Iraq could clash with the quiescent Shiites living inside the oil-rich kingdom.

...Although there is still little evidence of returning Saudi fighters, there is cause for concern with respect to the oil industry. The oil target is a way to attack the Saudi regime, the West and, in the Eastern Province, also the Shiites since they comprise a considerable number of Saudi Aramco's manual labor force. If Saudi Salafi-Jihadists do in fact return home and inject new blood, energy and more sophisticated techniques into homegrown Saudi terrorist movements, it is very likely that there will be increased attacks on oil infrastructure, including the enormous and exposed water-pumping installations which Saudi Aramco depends on to pump crude oil from its aging supergiant fields in the Eastern Province.

Therefore, it will be important to monitor whether returning Saudi fighters breathe new life into the kingdom's Sunni insurgency. If the violent Salafi-Jihadists returning from Iraq decide to fight the Shiites in the Eastern Province, the effect on oil prices would be dramatic and devastating for the Western economies, thus giving the Saudi jihadis one more enticing incentive to bring confessional violence to Saudi Arabia.

(27 July 2006)
The Jamestown Foundation sponsers the publication. Zbigniew Brzezinski is one of the foundation's board members.

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