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Geopolitics - May 15

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Report: Climate change will bring big problems for small number of countries

Jonathan Hiskes, Grist
Here’s one way to break down the effects of fiercer storm surges that will be wrought by climate change:

* Most land lost: Latin America
* Most people displaced: Middle East and North Africa
* Most economic losses: East Asia

World Bank economists reached these conclusions in a new draft report [PDF] that assesses the effects sea-level rise and more intense storms are likely to have if climate change continues unchecked. The report, by the researchers on the World Bank’s Energy and Environment team, combined climate prediction models with information on coastal population, coastal GDP, wetlands, agricultural lands, and other factors.

Like other climate-change studies, this one found disruption will be the most severe in low-income, developing nations. The countries most vulnerable to land loss include Namibia, Guinea, El Salvador, and Yemen, it found. Displacement would be the most dramatic in Djibouti, Yemen, Togo, El Salvador, and Mozambique.

In the run-up to international climate negotiations in Copenhagen this December, the report underscores the importance of deciding who will pay to help poorer coastal countries adapt. A proposal last week from U.S. climate negotiators acknowledged the same—that climate action will require not just curbing emissions but also a lot of money to help adjust to the effects that are already coming.
(13 May 2009)



Moscow warns of future energy wars

Agencies, Al Jazeera
Russia, the world's biggest gas producer, believes conflicts could arise over resources [GALLO/GETTY]

Russia has warned that military conflicts over energy resources could erupt along its borders in the near future, as the race to secure oil and gas reserves gains momentum.

A Kremlin policy paper, which maps out Russia's main challenges to national security for the next decade, said "problems that involve the use of military force cannot be excluded" in competition for resources.

The National Security Strategy's release coincides with a deadline for countries around the world to submit sea bed ownership claims to a United Nations commission, including for the resource-rich Arctic.

The paper, signed off by Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's president, says international relations in the next 10 years will be shaped by battles over energy reserves.

"The attention of international politics in the long-term perspective will be concentrated on the acquisition of energy resources," it said.

"Amid competitive struggle for resources, attempts to use military force to solve emerging problems can't be excluded.

"The existing balance of forces near the borders of the Russian Federation and its allies can be violated," it added.

The document said regions including the Middle East, the Barents Sea, the Arctic, the Caspian Sea and Central Asia could all be at the centre of competing claims for resources.

Russia, the world's biggest natural gas producer, has already accused the United States, with which it shares a small sea border, of coveting its mineral wealth.

But Moscow is also finding its control over natural gas exports under threat, as the European Union seeks alternative supply routes that would bypass Russia and the Ukraine.
(13 May 2009)



King Abdullah of Jordan's ultimatum: peace now or it’s war next year

Richard Beeston and Michael Binyon, PUB
America is putting the final touches to a hugely ambitious peace plan for the Middle East, aimed at ending more than 60 years of conflict between Israel and the Arabs, according to Jordan’s King Abdullah, who is helping to bring the parties together.

America is putting the final touches to a hugely ambitious peace plan for the Middle East, aimed at ending more than 60 years of conflict between Israel and the Arabs, according to Jordan’s King Abdullah, who is helping to bring the parties together...

...“What we are talking about is not Israelis and Palestinians sitting at the table, but Israelis sitting with Palestinians, Israelis sitting with Syrians, Israelis sitting with Lebanese,” said the King, who hatched the plan with Mr Obama in Washington last month. He added that, if Mr Obama did not make good his promise for peace, then his credibility would evaporate overnight...
(11 May 2009)



Pipelineistan goes Af-Pak

Pepe Escobar, Asia Times
As Barack Obama heads into his second hundred days in office, let's head for the big picture ourselves, the ultimate global plot line, the tumultuous rush towards a new, polycentric world order. In its first hundred days, the Obama presidency introduced us to a brand new acronym, OCO for Overseas Contingency Operations, formerly known as GWOT (as in Global War on Terror). Use either name, or anything else you want, and what you're really talking about is what's happening on the immense energy battlefield that extends from Iran to the Pacific Ocean. It's there that the Liquid War for the control of Eurasia takes place.

Yep, it all comes down to black gold and "blue gold" (natural gas), hydrocarbon wealth beyond compare, and so it's time to trek back to that ever-flowing wonderland -- Pipelineistan. It's time to dust off the acronyms, especially the SCO or Shanghai Cooperative Organization, the Asian response to NATO, and learn a few new ones like IPI and TAPI. Above all, it's time to check out the most recent moves on the giant chessboard of Eurasia, where Washington wants to be a crucial, if not dominant, player.

We've already seen Pipelineistan wars in Kosovo and Georgia, and we've followed Washington's favorite pipeline, the BTC, which was supposed to tilt the flow of energy westward, sending oil coursing past both Iran and Russia. Things didn't quite turn out that way, but we've got to move on, the New Great Game never stops. Now, it's time to grasp just what the Asian Energy Security Grid is all about, visit a surreal natural gas republic, and understand why that Grid is so deeply implicated in the Af-Pak war...

...As much as Washington may live in perpetual denial, Russia and Iran together control roughly 20% of the world's oil reserves and nearly 50% of its gas reserves. Think about that for a moment. It's little wonder that, for the leadership of both countries as well as China's, the idea of Asian integration, of the Grid, is sacrosanct.

If it ever gets built, a major node on that Grid will surely be the prospective $7.6 billion Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline, also known as the "peace pipeline." After years of wrangling, a nearly miraculous agreement for its construction was initialed in 2008. At least in this rare case, both Pakistan and India stood shoulder to shoulder in rejecting relentless pressure from the Bush administration to scotch the deal...

...And then, moving ever eastward on the great Grid, there's Turkmenistan, lodged deep in Central Asia, which, unlike Iran, you may never have heard a thing about. Let's correct that now...
(14 May 2009)
Contributor x writes "A "roving correspondent" for the Asia Times, Pepe Escobar is a sharp observer of oil-driven geopolitics in Eurasia. See his earlier dispatch, "Liquid Wars", here: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175050"

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