Geopolitics - July 2
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Pentagon Official Warns of Israeli Attack on Iran
Jonathan Karl, ABC
Senior Pentagon officials are concerned that Israel could carry out an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities before the end of the year, an action that would have enormous security and economic repercussions for the United States and the rest of the world.
A senior defense official told ABC News there is an "increasing likelihood" that Israel will carry out such an attack, a move that likely would prompt Iranian retaliation against, not just Israel, but against the United States as well.
The official identified two "red lines" that could trigger an Israeli offensive.
(30 June 2008)
US 'won't allow' Iran to shut key Gulf oil route
The commander of the US navy's Fifth Fleet warned on Monday that the United States will not allow Iran to shut the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf sea lane through which much of the world's oil is supplied.
"They will not close it... They will not be allowed to close it," Vice-Admiral Kevin J. Cosgriff told a press conference in Bahrain, where the Fifth Fleet is based.
His remarks followed comments by the chief of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, who issued a new warning last week against any attack against his country over its controversial nuclear drive.
(30 June 2008)
Keep an Eye on Khuzestan
Jeff Vail, Rhizome
In light of Seymour Hersh's latest article, "Preparing the Battlefield," about stepped-up US involvement in Iran, here's post I wrote over 2 years ago on the topic: Keep an Eye on Khuzestan
Keep an eye on Khuzestan. That's the South-Western Iranian province, bordering Iraq and the Persian Gulf, that currently has a modest but growing independence movement. It was also the site of the recent bombings that Iran is blaming on UK influence. Within the US intelligence community, at least, it is widely believed that the best option for dealing with Iran is through fomenting internal unrest of some sort. The classic formula for this (see "Coup D'Etat: A Practical Handbook" by Luttwak) is to leverage existing internal devisions--and that is exactly what is happening here. The US is actively supporting this Khuzestan independence movement, and the various "Free Iran Movements" that are being supported by right-wing think tanks in D.C. have many ties to this region. Not surprisingly, Khuzestan is the major oil producing region in Iran, but the revenues don't provide much benefit to the local and ethnically distinct Arab population. ... [links and more text at original]
And a graphic of the oil resources and ethnic makeup of the region worth a thousand words:
(30 June 2008)
Bush is trying to impose a classic colonial status on Iraq
Seumas Milne, Guardian
US efforts to force Iraqis to swallow permanent vassal status and give up control of their oil echoes British imperial history
... four of the western world's largest oil corporations are due to sign contracts for the renewed exploitation of Iraq's vast reserves. Initially, these are to be two-year deals to boost production in Iraq's largest oilfields. But not only did the four energy giants - BP, Exxon Mobil, Shell and Total - write their own contracts with the Iraqi government, an unheard-of practice: they have also reportedly secured rights of first refusal on the far more lucrative 30-year production contracts expected once a new US-sponsored oil law is passed, allowing a wholesale western takeover.
... But it also evokes powerful memories in Iraq, which has been down this road before. After Britain invaded and occupied Iraq during the first world war, it imposed a strikingly similar treaty on its puppet government in 1930 in preparation for the country's nominal independence. Just as in George Bush's version, Britain awarded itself military bases, the right to conduct military operations, and legal immunity for its forces - though the proposed new US powers and restrictions on Iraqi sovereignty go even further than in the pre-war colonial treaty.
To add to this sense of imperial revival, the four oil companies now preparing to return in triumph to Iraq were the original partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company, which Britain gave a free hand in the 1920s to dine off Iraq's wealth in a famously exploitative deal.
(26 June 2008)
‘Oh Happy Day’
Bob Herbert, New York Times
It’s getting harder and harder to remain deluded. With each day comes new facts to drag our heads out of the sand.
Two weeks ago, The Times reported that four Western oil giants were on the verge of signing no-bid contracts that would return them to Iraq, the third-most bountiful petroleum playground on the planet. The deals, expected to be finalized in the next 30 days, were the kind of news that big oil lives for.
Giddy executives singing “Oh Happy Day” could be heard in the corporate offices of Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP, which had been shut out of Iraq for three and a half decades.
(1 July 2008)
Pipeline opens new front in Afghan war
Shawn McCarthy, The Globe and Mail
Afghanistan and three of its neighbouring countries have agreed to build a $7.6-billion (U.S.) pipeline that would deliver natural gas from Turkmenistan to energy-starved Pakistan and India - a project running right through the volatile Kandahar province - raising questions about what role Canadian Forces may play in defending the project.
To prepare for proposed construction in 2010, the Afghan government has reportedly given assurances it will clear the route of land mines, and make the path free of Taliban influence.
In a report to be released Thursday, energy economist John Foster says the pipeline is part of a wider struggle by the United States to counter the influence of Russia and Iran over energy trade in the region.
(19 June 2008)
Scott Chisholm Lamont writes:
I was delayed in sending this, so it is likely behind the paywall now, but if you have access to a service such as LexisNexis you may be able to get the entire article for free.
Graphic of the pipeline path is available online.