Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 07, 2015

Is Erdogan's Mosul Escapade Blackmail For Another Qatar-Turkey Pipeline?

Update: Iraqi sources confirm to Elijah J. Magnier that Turkey is indeed blackmailing Baghdad to get a Qatar-Turkey pipeline. The blackmail also has a water resource component. I wrote on that here back in August. I recommend to read the above linked Magnier piece together with my speculations below.
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The Turkish move to annex Mosul is further developing into a serious conflict. Iraq has demanded that Turkey removes its soldiers and heavy weapons from the "training base" near Mosul within 48 hours. It asserts that these were put there without asking or informing the sovereign Iraqi government.

Turkey first denied that any new troops arrived in Iraq. It then said that the troops were only a replacement of the existing training force. Then it claimed that the new troops were there to protect the training force:

Turkish sources say the reinforcement plans were discussed in detail with Brett McGurk, U.S. President Barack Obama’s counter-ISIL fight coordinator, during his latest visit to Ankara on Nov. 5-6. “The Americans are telling the truth,” one high-rank source said. “This is not a U.S.-led coalition operation, but we are informing them about every single detail. This is not a secret operation.”

The U.S. was informed but Iraq was not? That makes it look as if the U.S. is behind this. Brett McGurk has also said that this is not a "U.S.-led coalition" operation but is otherwise playing "neutral" on the issue.

But Reuters now stenographed some other Turkish source which suddenly claims that the tanks and artillery are part of the coalition:

Turkey said on Monday it would not withdraw hundreds of soldiers who arrived last week at a base in northern Iraq, despite being ordered by Baghdad to pull them out within 48 hours.

The sudden arrival of such a large and heavily armed Turkish contingent in a camp near the frontline in northern Iraq has added yet another controversial deployment to a war against Islamic State fighters that has drawn in most of the world's major powers.

Ankara says the troops are there as part of an international mission to train and equip Iraqi forces to fight against Islamic State. The Iraqi government says it never invited such a force, and will take its case to the United Nations if they are not pulled out.

The force to be trained is under control of a former Iraqi state governor who is, like the Kurdish ex-president Barzani, a Turkish tool:

The camp occupied by the Turkish troops is being used by a force called Hashid Watani, or national mobilization, made up of mainly Sunni Arab former Iraqi police and volunteers from Mosul.

It is seen as a counterweight to Shi'ite militias that have grown in clout elsewhere in Iraq with Iranian backing, and was formed by former Nineveh governor Atheel al-Nujaifi, who has close relations with Turkey. A small number of Turkish trainers were already there before the latest deployment.

The former policemen who ran away when the Islamic State took over Mosul are not and will not be a serious fighting force against their Islamic State brethren in Mosul. They are just a fig leave for the Turkish occupation.

There are rumors, not confirmed yet, that Turkey now uses the presence of its force to blackmail the Iraqi government. Turkey, it is said, wants agreement from Baghdad for a gas pipeline from Qatar through Iraq to Turkey.


Map via Fer G

The original plan was to have such a pipeline run through Syrian desert flatland to Turkey and on to Europe. The gas from Qatar would be sold there in competition with gas from Russia. President Assad had rejected that pipeline and preferred one from Iran through Iraq to the Syrian coast. Qatar and Iran collectively own a huge gas field in the Persian Gulf. Whoever gets his pipeline going first will have a big advantage in extracting from the field and selling its gas. The rejection of the original pipeline project was one reason why Qatar engaged heavily in the regime change project in Syria. The Plan B would have the pipeline go through the rather rough east Anatolia - more expensive than the Syria route but feasible. The U.S. supports the Qatar project. Anything that would make Europeans dependent on gas from a U.S. controlled regime is preferable to Europeans who do independent business with Russia.

Erdogan visited Qatar on December 1 for two days and the two countries signed a number of "strategic agreements". The Turkish troops moved to Mosul on December 4 and 5. This makes the pipeline extortion that Turkey is said to try with Iraq at least plausible.

But Iraq and its Prime Minister Abadi can not agree to the pipeline project. Its allies in Iran, Russia and Syria are all against the Qatar-Turkey-(U.S.) project and would see that as treason. Shia militia in Iraq, especially the Badr brigade, have threatened to destroy the Turkish force near Mosul. They would remove Abadi from his office if he would fold under the Turkish-Qatari-(U.S.) extortion scheme.

Possibly related to the Turkish escalation is today's attack on a Syrian government position near Deir Ezzour:

Syria's government said the U.S.-led military coalition has carried out a deadly airstrike on a Syrian army camp, but officials from the alliance said the report was false.

Syria said four coalition jets killed three soldiers and wounded 13 in the eastern Deir al-Zor province on Sunday evening, calling it an act of aggression, the first time it has made such an accusation.
...
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported earlier that jets likely to be from the coalition hit part of the Saeqa military camp near the town of Ayyash in Deir al-Zor province, killing four Syrian army personnel.

But a U.S. military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States is certain that Russia was responsible for the deadly strike on the Syrian army camp .

The official flatly dismissed claims that U.S.-led coalition jets were responsible.

Brett McGurk, U.S. President Barack Obama's envoy to the coalition, also denied claims of coalition responsibility, saying on his Twitter account: "Reports of coalition involvement are false."

Damascus insists that four jets entered Syria from Al-Bukamal, Iraq and fired 9 missiles against al-Saeqa military base in Ayyash near Deir Ezzour.

The U.S. accuses Russia to have committed the strike. I very much doubt that. There have been accidental "friendly fire" strikes by the Russian air force against Syrian troops and against Hizbullah. But those accidents were always immediately admitted and investigated within the 4+1 alliance. The Russians say they did not do this strike and Damascus agrees.

But notice the weasel word in the U.S. statements: "U.S.-led coalition". The Turks in Mosul are not part of the "U.S.-led coalition" even if they first claimed to be. If the air strike in Syria today were not done by the "U.S.-led coalition" it could mean that some country committed these air strikes on its own without the strike being officially within the "U.S.-led coalition" framework. Could that country's name start with a Q?

The U.S. will know who really launched this strike. In both, the Turkish aggression on Iraq and the airstrike in Syria today and even with the earlier mountain ambush on the Russian jet, the U.S. is likely "leading from behind" the curtain. All these events are, like the now forming new alliance with Jihadis, part of Obama's bigger plans and designs for Syria and the Middle East.

Posted by b on December 7, 2015 at 02:26 PM | Permalink

Comments
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@Grieved@74

[...] I get the impression that Soleimani has been a large part of this, but I'm not well studied in this area [...]

Qassem Soleimani, like Putin, is a man of the hour in the struggle against the empire. The amazing display of knowledge of the Syrian battlefield he showed rescuing the Russian pilot, is one of many epic deeds that feed his legend. Unassuming, a quiet force like Putin, he is the architect of the Syraq defensive wall against which the nefarious schemes of the empire have been broken again and again.

After Iran saw the danger of Syria's potential defeat by the takfiri forces unleashed by the empire, Supreme Leader Khamenei sent an envoy to Putin requesting Russians' military muscle to keep Syria from following the fate of Lybia/Afghanistan, or worse. Putin's response to Khamenei's envoy was "OK, we will intervene, send Qassem Soleimani." This narrative could/could not be true, what matters is its reproduction by the MSM stenographers, and the placing of Soleimani as a key factor in the decision-making process of world-shaking, geopolitical tectonic moves.

Earlier in the year, after cleaning Tikrit from takfiris, Soleimani had promised the world "a surprise" was being prepared by Iran and Syria leaderships "in the coming days." And the rest is history we are living, and having the luxury to examine in detail. Soleimani has already made his mark, and will go into military annals as a keen strategist, not different from Gen. Giap, in a different kind of war. He still has a lot of fighting left to do, recently confessing in an interview, after the usual regular "rumors" about his killing or wounding, that it is martyrdom "what I have been looking for in all plains and mountains."

I doubt you haven't seen this piece, you are well informed, but just in case, I'll link you to it.

The Shadow Commander

Massive force is something that both Russia and Iran seem to value, and seem to know is a thing you save for the uttermost need.

Force is a fundamental concept in warfare theory, one of the most studied and least understood, its misunderstanding left many armies/states in the dustbin of history. Its application in hybrid warfare brings another new level to the concept of force, driving it more toward Sun Tzu ("[...] supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting [...]" than toward Clausewitz ([...] "Direct annihilation of the enemy's forces must always be the dominant consideration [...]"

One example in modern warfare lore is the USS Donald Cook incident on the Black Sea, blinded by the Khibiny, Russia's latest EW gadget, leaving it unable to respond to the buzzing of the SU-24 that killed all its electronic equipment. Russians are way ahead of the Western powers in their EW development, a lethal weapon in their hybrid warfare arsenal.

Another weapon recently tested by the Russians (Nov. 18) was an anti-satellite missile, the Nudol, following China in the development of space warfare weapons. The US/NATO's armies will not function without satellites, and this new weapon "[...] could cripple US intelligence, navigation, and communications capabilities that are critical for both military operations and civilian infrastructure [...]

The concept of "massive force" is to be redefined in the new era of hybrid warfare.

In the land of the hybrid, the one-eyed conventional force is king.

That's a very good punchline, its validity is being tested on the Syrian battlefield, where a combination of air force, a new type of artillery (thermobaric MLRS), and ground forces are kicking takfiris asses relentlessly, with air force playing a predominant role, at least during this first phase of the confrontation.

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Dec 8, 2015 1:34:37 PM | 101

Baghdad ultimatum to Ankara expires, Moscow to discuss Turkish military invasion at UNSC..

August 1914, here we come!

Posted by: lysias | Dec 8, 2015 2:34:58 PM | 103

Well, as I expected, Trump's stand on Muslims has helped his poll standings. The Hill: Poll: Trump’s rhetoric on Islam boosts him in NC primary:

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has hit a new high in North Carolina in part because of his tough rhetoric on Islam, a new poll found. Trump gets 33 percent support among that state's Republicans, doubling the nearest contender, according to a survey from the liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP), released Tuesday. ADVERTISEMENT Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is in second place, at 16 percent, followed by retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), at 14 percent each. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush follows at 5 percent, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich each at 4 percent. The survey was conducted before Trump ignited a firestorm of controversy this week by proposing that Muslims be barred from entering the country. However, the poll tested GOP attitudes on Trump’s previous rhetoric on Islam, and found his ideas are supported by a plurality of Republicans in the state.

Trump's latest statement yesterday will probably help him even more.

Posted by: lysias | Dec 8, 2015 5:41:23 PM | 104

I wondered what got the Iraqi government so overexcited about 500 Turk soldiers coming to train the Peshmerga and other forces north of Mosul and then I remembered that about 1000 Islamic State fighters swept through Northern Iraq and captured about a third of the country, routing the Iraqi army.

Natural gas will be flowing in the pipeline from Russia to Turkey for at least another ten years under international supervised rules of their present contracts and Russia would be seriously harmed by disrupting deliveries to one of their main customers. The Turks are working with Qatar and other suppliers for future supplies including LNG which will require building more regasification and storage capacity.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Dec 8, 2015 6:05:26 PM | 105

@106 wow.. don't forget zatos designs for the area and the fact - try as hard as the might - isis just kept on getting better and badder and coincidentally took over mosul... that is pretty impressive zato activity!

Posted by: james | Dec 8, 2015 6:12:01 PM | 106

Can this be true? Never heard of this oil company.

Israeli-ISIS Oil Interests: No Brake and No Disclosure on Media Owners’ Interests


The Times today carries an article on ISIS’ oil interests, Syria and Turkey. Nowhere does it inform its readers that the owner of the newspaper, Rupert Murdoch, has a vested interest in this subject through his role and shares in Genie Energy, an Israeli company granted oil rights in Syria by the Israeli government. Dick Cheney and Lord Rothschild are also shareholders.

No, they really are. This is not a conspiracy theory. It is a conspiracy.

That Israel should grant oil rights within Syria is of course a striking example of contempt for international law, but then that is the basis on which Israel normally operates. Of course Genie’s share value will be substantially boosted by the installation of a neo-con puppet regime in Damascus which can be bought to underwrite the oil concession granted by Israel. Contempt for international law has been the single most important defining characteristic of neo-conservatism, and the need to uphold international law the recurring theme of this blog. I never thought the UK government would make the withdrawal of its support for the concept of international law explicit, as Cameron has done by removing the obligation to comply with international law from the Ministerial Code. That is truly, truly disgraceful.


http://www.globalresearch.ca/israeli-isis-oil-interests-no-brake-and-no-disclosure-on-media-owners-interests/5494404

Posted by: shadyl | Dec 8, 2015 6:20:41 PM | 107

@108

Sure, they have a website

here

Posted by: Bob | Dec 8, 2015 6:30:25 PM | 108

What Stinks in Saudi Ain’t the Camel Dung


... jihad, it is now clear, is not about Allah but about Moola—money.

The Saudi monarchy is determined to control the oil fields of Iraq and of Syria using ISIS to do it. They clearly want to control the entire world oil market, first bankrupting the recent challenge from US shale oil producers, then by controlling through Turkey the oil flows of Iraq and Syria. ...

If we strip away the phony religious cover, what emerges is a Saudi move to grab some of the world’s largest oil reserves, those of the Sunni parts of Iraq, and of Syria, using the criminal Turkish regime in the role of thug to do the rough work, like a bouncer in a brothel.

USrael is trying to be there after the crash to pick up all the pieces ... and the three EU dwarves are along for a share of the spoils?

Posted by: jfl | Dec 8, 2015 6:39:47 PM | 109

@108 Whatever happened to the Chilcot Inquiry anyway. And the Murdoch wiretapping scandal? Gone with the wind.

Posted by: dh | Dec 8, 2015 7:04:41 PM | 110

@paulmeli 91

http://www.rapidtrends.com/history-of-fiat-and-paper-money-failures/

Pretty much as soon as any faith backed paper currency is released, its worth is reduced. You can look at that table of active currencies and say 'wow, USD has longevity'...but, I wonder if having a dollar at 2% of its value it held 100 years ago can be regarded as a success. Fait money fails, that's what it does, will do. At some point.

Our current global fiat is faith based, as in, 'when you buy petroleum, you must first obtain USD, and then you may have faith that the USS Fed doesn't come for a visit to your shores.' Romans did it for a good while.

Gaddafi, now he was on to something. 140 tonnes worth of gold in the vault. About to start the first African central bank. Umm, no muhamma...naughty naughty. It really could have dragged the African continent out of the fog of foreign debt.

Posted by: MadMax2 | Dec 8, 2015 7:08:47 PM | 111

#110 Also from that link:

Erdoğan’s US-sanctioned and Saudi-financed terrorist training camps have brought an estimated 200,000 mercenary terrorists from all over the world, transited by Turkey in order to wage “jihad” in Syria.

It's a pity Putin accused Turkey WITHOUT also accusing US and SA.
cf. #101 Paul Craig Roberts: Russia as paper tiger

Posted by: From The Hague | Dec 8, 2015 7:15:44 PM | 112

@Yul@88

Carlos Latuff has a great cartoon :

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CVsY2KeU4AA5VZH.png

after Turkey issued an order to ban his cartoons:

https://latuffcartoons.wordpress.com/2015/12/08/turkey-has-issued-an-order-to-block-my-cartoon-page/

Erdogan is a cartoonesque petty tyrant, cartoons depict him best.

Here is another cartoon from The Angry Arab on the composition of the Syrian delegation in Saudi Arabia.

https://tinyurl.com/zq7fsfo

The caption reads,

"Formation of the delegation of Syrian opposition...in Saudi Arabia". By Lebanese artist, Imad Baalbaki.

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Dec 8, 2015 7:17:19 PM | 113

"... jihad, it is now clear, is not about Allah but about Moola..."

I am unconvinced. Religious nuttery works best if it can be latched to some more rationally sounding causes, but it is a vital motivation all of its own. In particular, KSA somehow got the idea to defend the democratic choice of the Yemeni people who elected Hadi with more than 98% of the vote (unopposed) with considerable cost in money, lives and pride, and there is really no rational calculation that can explain it -- but the deep contempt of any kind of Shia and paranoia explains it very well. The fact that the current monarch is reputed to have Altzheimer and his son has an ambition of becoming a king before getting senile (not possible under current Saudi system) through brilliant military successes has some role as well.

Concerning oil, I am not 100% sure if the calculation to bankrupt high cost producers like tar oil, shale oil, perhaps Actic deep sea oil is sound, but it is definitely plausible, and two, perhaps three years of low prices may maximize the revenue over longer run. But the Sunni-Arab part of Iraq is not all that rich in oil apart from the pieces that Kurdish regions tries to grab. No, Gulf Arabs and Erdogan followers habitually dislike heterodox Muslim, even if they do not exactly agree on the standards of the orthodoxy.

I became cynical about oil as motivator as the result of the invasion of Iraq. Before that invasion there was an international seminar in London how to rationally reorganize Iraqi oil, and yet earlier Dick Cheney supervised a lavishly illustrated study of American energy policy, and one could get an impression that these guys were obsessed with oil. Then there was an war for oil that brought hardly any oil. Part of that was neo-connish cretinism, those guys are good at power point presentations, but I would not trust them to run a donut franchise, nor any larger economic project. But a larger part is that war is a motivator of its own. Is George Washington revered for his successes in horticulture? If the wars in the Middle East, of which Iraq was supposed to be the first, were as successful as desired, Bush would become sort of national demi-God and Democrats would be eliminated from political life except for a mayoralty here and there. War is an elixir of power.

But a war to be an elixir of power needs a compelling rationale, and oil is helpful. And so is the defense of freedom, or of our hearths from terrorists, defense of one true faith and so on.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 8, 2015 7:36:08 PM | 114

Hague @ 101: great link, have to say I agree with PCR.

shadyl @ 108: So, it is just business. Don't hold your breath waiting for full disclosure from the corporate media on ownership. Thanks for the article.

Posted by: ben | Dec 8, 2015 7:37:52 PM | 115

Chilcot is due next summer ....

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Dec 8, 2015 7:52:33 PM | 116

Has anyone noticed the latest terrorists have said, "This is for Syria"....NOT "This is for Allah"???

We have destroyed Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria. How has that made the ME safer. I just watched Tenet say on a documentary that the politicians were not honest on their goals for changing the ME. hmm.

Posted by: shadyl | Dec 8, 2015 8:19:36 PM | 117

4 + 1 must enlarge to become:
4 + 1 + H ...the H being for Houthi...!
Watching these guys on the videos last thread, wow, these lads are as hard as f**k. This is the kind of old school, door to door service the 4 + 1 need on the ground in Syria. No cars required, years spent dodging drones strikes mean proceeding on foot.

Vlad, sign them up.

Posted by: MadMax2 | Dec 8, 2015 8:21:54 PM | 118

For those interested the documentary was The Spymasters:

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/11/cia-directors-documentary-911-bush-213353

Posted by: shadyl | Dec 8, 2015 8:32:35 PM | 119

News from the war on hundred fronts: Battle of Moscow.

Battle Day 1: Disgruntled Truckers Bring Moscow Ring Road To A Standstill
In-Depth-RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty-Dec 4, 2015

Battle Day 4: Story image for russia truckers from Reuters
Protesting Russian truckers focus anger at Putin's friends
Reuters-5 hours ago
At the Doughnuts cafe, 90 km (55 miles) outside the capital, truckers grumble ...

Battle of bombing at fishy coordinates (also Reuters):
The U.S. Air Force's top space official on Tuesday slammed a new ground control system for GPS satellites being built by Raytheon Co as "a disaster" and said the Pentagon planned "significant" changes with the company to address the issues. My guess is that in few months Russians will install enough air defenses to send the troublesome "allies" home.

Alternative battle for the West: If Cameron and Holland have such irresistible urge to bomb ISIS targets, they can do it in Libya -- that probably would make too much sense for their taste. After all, Libya has "the government" (general Hader?), "the moderates" (Brotherhood ruling in the capital) and ISIS, and there is no profound reason that "the government" and "the moderates" cannot make some compromise and eliminate "ISIS" territory. There are some non-profound reasons like tribal differences, in particular, the tribe of Ghaddafi became part of ISIS territory, which would be like Iraqi military men excluded from employment and repressed, and joining ISI.

Battle of Mosul, viewers bets (Russian Spring, "Only verified information".

Russian Spring seems competent on two issues: Ukrainian politics and ground warfare. According to their estimates, Turkish tanks are very obsolete, and would Iraq decide to use their new Russian helicopters with air-to-ground missiles, they would be quickly converted to metal scrap. Another observation is that Turks were running this camp for quite a while -- before sending an extra battalion for safety, at it is a few miles from ISIS lines, and it was a very cosy existence. Hard to tell if they will see action against Iraqi government, but my bet is that they will never see any action against ISIS. Some trainees, Peshmerga, recently took over Sinjar region, but probably the only reason was that YPG was ready to do it without them.

In other words, the only role of Turks is that in the eventuality of ISIS suffering a profound defeat (by others) and running for their lives, Turkey can take over Mosul after waiting patiently for a long, long time and play the protector of the Arab Sunnis. They are like a vulture waiting for its pray to die.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 8, 2015 8:33:47 PM | 120

The whole idea that a puny non-country like "Qatar" should control a huge percentage of sales and profits of energy to an important region like Europe is insane.

The Middle East does need to be redesigned, and the very first issue should be the elimination of all of these impossibly wealthy, population-less countries. Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE should be the first to be incorporated into larger populated areas nearby. Better yet, the resources should be placed under the protection of the United Nations, and the profits turned over for the development of the poorest regions of the globe. Saudi simply needs a revolution, or even better for its oil profits to be split between Yemen. Egypt, and the Palestinians.

The USA has propped up the ridiculous, unaccountable monarchies for too long. Wasting the greatest natural treasure the world has ever seen.

Posted by: guest77 | Dec 8, 2015 8:58:12 PM | 121

https://kpfa.org/episode/guns-and-butter-november-25-2015/

State Terrorism: Franco American Style with Michel Chossudovsky

Michel Chossudovsky’s most recent research on the alleged ISIS terror in Paris, as well as the Radisson Hotel terror in Bamako, Mali, is discussed. Analysis of current state sponsored terror in general, within a larger global geopolitical and economic framework, is addressed. Topics include the fundamental contradiction in the official narrative of the War on Terror versus the Islamic State or ISIS; Islamic State a creation of U.S. intelligence; the geopolitical agenda; the militarization of Africa; the Berlin Conference in the late 19th century; foreknowledge of the Paris terror; French military escalation against Syria planned before the attacks; replication of the 9/11 discourse as a pretext to justify a new wave of bombing against Syria; attack by a foreign power justifies a state of war; the Doctrine of Collective Security, Article 5 of NATO; the Muslim community subjected to a witch hunt; the criminalization of the state and the financial system; the end of the French Republic.

Posted by: guest77 | Dec 8, 2015 9:02:49 PM | 122

Saudi Arabia Is Not “Sunni Central”

Unlike what many Western pundits think, Saudi Arabia does not represent the “true” Sunni Islam. Even within the country, there are older traditions of Islam that are far more open and tolerant than the Kingdom’s official Wahhabist sect.

In his column in the New York Times on November 27, Roger Cohen described Saudi Arabia as “Sunni Central.” It is not, was never so, and will never be [...]

[...] What leads many observers—not only in the West—to confer on Saudi Arabia the positioning of “Sunni Central” is that, for half a century now, the country has been trying to export the Wahhabi understanding of Islam to the rest of the Sunni Islamic world. It has also been, by far, the biggest and most prominent financier of some Islamist groups, especially in the West. And in the hot-spots where Sunni Islamic forces were drawn into religious or sectarian tensions, for example in Lebanon since the late 1970s, and in Iraq since the mid-2000s, Saudi Arabia has indeed supported the leading forces of Sunni Islam, even if they had no connections at all to Wahhabism.

But that support was always selective. In the 1950s, Saudi Arabia forged a brief alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood, as the two saw in the secular Arab nationalist movement (and its towering representative, Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser) a common enemy. But, Saudi Arabia, whether its political or theological elite, quickly developed many apprehensions against the Brotherhood. More recently, in the last five years, Saudi Arabia emerged as an opponent of—and in some cases saw a strategic threat in—the Brotherhood, Turkey’s Islamist AKP party (which has ruled the country since 2002), and Tunisia’s Ennahda Movement (which arguably has developed one of the most sophisticated attempts by a political Islamist group to reconcile Islamism with secular modernity). And so, Saudi Arabia’s support of Sunni Muslim actors has always been subject to either the kingdom’s interests or its theological discipline, or both.

The notion of Saudi Arabia as “Sunni Central” creates many problems for Sunni Muslims, the world, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia itself. This notion dilutes the rich heritage of Sunni Islam into one of its severest and most rigid interpretations. Without intending it, this notion strengthens the ideologies that reject the Islamic world’s historical episodes of pluralism and openness to intellectual and cultural engagement with the world. It also subtly strengthens the ideologies that permit the usage of violence to spread its presence. It betrays the confusion of many in the West, including in supposedly well-informed circles, of the ideological and cultural struggles that lie behind many of the cold and hot wars that are currently raging across the Middle East [...]

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Dec 8, 2015 9:05:40 PM | 123

PB @ 115 said:

"I am unconvinced. Religious nuttery works best if it can be latched to some more rationally sounding causes, but it is a vital motivation all of its own."

Agreed, somewhat. Only for uneducated cannon fodder. No one will ever convince me that the herders of the sheep BELIEVE the myths peddled by most religions.

Posted by: ben | Dec 8, 2015 9:10:13 PM | 124

@MadMax2@119

Vlad, sign them up.

I second the motion.

Let's open a worldwide citizen petition addressed to Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, President of Russia, Supreme Commander in Chief Russian Armed Forces, requesting the inclusion of the Yemen Resistance in the 4+1.

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Dec 8, 2015 9:20:47 PM | 125

Russia and Iran really need to do something about Qatar and Saudi. The US/Israeli plan to Balkanize the ME, Russia and China falls flat if saudi and Qatar are taken out of the game

Posted by: Alaric | Dec 8, 2015 9:40:13 PM | 126

Excuse me, didn't Isis/ Daesh suddenly grow an Air Force yesterday? How come I can't find any further information or speculation? Can someone please explain why this might not been interesting?

Posted by: Peter kraemer | Dec 8, 2015 10:47:10 PM | 127

@guest77@123
Yeah, well, that was a pretty comprehensive hour. Poor old Michel seemed to be pausing for air on occasion, whilst attempting to get his head around the enormity of the deception. Unfortunately, despite Russia forcing grubby western hands to be exposed as propping up those they declare on the home front to despise, the propaganda machine wins...

An epic appearance of the 4th kind.

Appearances to the mind are of four kinds. Things either are what they appear to be; or they neither are, nor appear to be; or they are, and do not appear to be; or they are not, and yet appear to be. Rightly to aim in all these cases is the wise man’s task.

— Epictetus (c. 60 AD), Discourses, Book i, Chap. xxvii

Posted by: MadMax2 | Dec 8, 2015 11:03:57 PM | 128

IMF fully aboard the new Cold War. "We only in force US dollars owed to US allies"

http://www.unz.com/mhudson/the-imf-forgives-ukraines-loan-to-russia/

Now that's a partnership that's worth it to keep following.

Posted by: tom | Dec 8, 2015 11:42:11 PM | 129

@130 tom.. i saw that earlier and do find it more of the same game plan regarding the financial ponzi scheme which seems to require this war in the middle east too.. it is all pretty ugly as seen thru this lens..

on another note, the wanker outlet the guardian had something out that emptywheel thought worthy of pointing out .. the comment section gets down to it.. "The Businessman’s Briefcase of ISIS Propaganda"

Posted by: james | Dec 8, 2015 11:50:51 PM | 130

Just as I thought. Islamic State operations were mostly moved out of Syria to other countries, mostly Iraq and Libya.

ISIS has now moved many of its operations and personnel to Sirte – having increased its presence from 200 fighters at the start of the year to a force of 5,000 men – including administrators and financiers. They are also learning to fly airplanes with at least one flight simulator.

“The group has already announced their plans to recruit foreign fighters, and is calling them to travel to Libya instead of Syria,” Sputnik reports. “According to residents and activists from Sirte and Libyan military officials, recent weeks have already seen a flood of foreign recruits and their families.”

http://moderntokyotimes.com/?p=3949

Posted by: Les | Dec 8, 2015 11:51:28 PM | 131

@130
Wow. Debts forgiven. Lets all repay out mortgage with monopoly money. Greeks must be spewing. It's what you get for EU membership. Crippling debt forever and a million refugees.

Posted by: MadMax2 | Dec 9, 2015 12:16:01 AM | 132

War on hundred fronts: Lebanon.

Lebanon has so-so capable army, capable "resistance" (Hezbollah), and for the last year and half, only a barest shell of a government. Lebanon is a curious mixture of democracy and feudalism, and as such, the notion of bribery does not seem to exist -- freedom to accept money from foreign sources is one of the "non-enumerated rights" that is fervently cherished. The current stalemate has roughly this background: "Christian majority" = Aoun hates Israel (which was behind some assassinations, and cherishing old grudges is a form of art there) + Shia (Hezbollah + Amal, patronage in Iran) form "March 8" block, Hariri (Sunni majority) plus pro-Israeli Christians form "March 15" block (Sunni being funded by KSA), and a maverick block of the Druze and a sprinkle of Christians. Jumblatt, leader of the Druze (since ca. 1850, his family was notable for 400 prior years) started the current crises when he abandoned coalition with March 8 and became rather cordial with KSA.

The result is that while some functions of the government function, some do not, and that includes trash collection. The crisis had no end in sight. Suddenly, Hariri, for all prior appearances a pet of KSA, proposed the most anti-Israeli and pro-Assad Christian leader as a candidate for President (who must be Christian), with the implicit trade-off that he would be Prime Minister, and the deal is allegedly acceptable to Hezbollah and the Druze. Basically, security and military would be under the president, and economy - and trash -- under prime minister. It sounds so logical that I could hardly believe that it is possible. I mean -- why KSA did not block it? Either the patronage dried up, or Saudis themselves would prefer that the government in Lebanon functions after all (some princes favor it as a vacation destination and a place for petty purchases, like two tons of drugs -- try to do it in Paris!, while the heaps of trash can really stink). Additionally, Lebanon lost its values as a conduit of arms and fighters to rebels and ISIS.

Lebanon is one of those places where "backstabbing" has only a metaphoric meaning, local method of choice involving copious amounts of high power explosives rather than stabbing, but the sources about the deal seem credible, http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/News/14944/19/Hariri-nominates--Assad-ally-for-president.aspx
the link above is so-so credible, but you can find more.

Functioning government and pro-Assad presidency in Lebanon would be a small boon for Syrian government, perhaps elimination of taqfiris from border mountains could get completed and the residual smuggling dampened even more. It would also be a psychological and symbolic boost.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 9, 2015 12:23:57 AM | 133

@130 tom

Thanks for the link. This is a significant action that will precipitate side taking internationally.

Continuation of the rule of private finance or sovereign finance will be the two sides. Both are faith based financial systems.

This says to me that all the stops are pulled out short of nuclear war.

Sure is getting hot in this pot.....grin go long popcorn!

I think one can say that at this pace, the world is going to be a very different place a year from now.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 9, 2015 12:46:18 AM | 134

Sorry guys to be a bit out of context but could someone in here explain me why Qatar just don't bypass Syria with its gaz pipeline by going through Iraq only ? Is it due to a geographical problem, The instability of Iraq, the pro Shia regime in Iraq or the threat that if Bashar Al Assad remains in power The Islamic pipeline might come through ? I can't seem to understand this question and it bothers me .

Posted by: lebretteurfredonnant | Dec 9, 2015 1:14:35 AM | 135

You guys have females who can make even better than Trump, uh?
http://angryarab.blogspot.de/2015/12/us-assemblywoman-threatens-murdering.html

Posted by: Mina | Dec 9, 2015 2:54:01 AM | 136

@137 Mina

Much of the US public are victims of a degenerate educational system and ongoing brainwashing by TV and fundamentalist religious types.

When we stopped studying the future in the early 1970's it was already clear that the US was over-consuming and "labor" costs were higher than the rest of the 2nd and 3rd world. The over-consumption has not stopped but has been evolved to "services" and manufacturing labor has been off-shored along with stagnating wages overall.

The global plutocrats are good are inciting hatred of others but themselves. The hatred they breed in others is, like growth, an ongoing requirement of the social regime. Since the American Dream has become a slavery nightmare, even in ones sleep, and ignorance and myopia are encouraged by the plutocrat run media, the social pot is boiling. Or at least made to seem so as justification for applying more control.

Hopefully the US reflected social illness of centuries of global private finance/inheritance is terminal. So many humans have suffer by mankind's forced fealty to the Gawd of Mammon and its inherent perverse social incentives.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 9, 2015 3:20:08 AM | 137

Maybe all of this is part of a larger natural phenomena? Resources are getting scarcer, particularly water, which is what started the Syrian problems when Turkey cut the flow of river water into Syria. The same thing is happening in Crimea and in Mexico. The global climate is becoming a reality and is already past the tipping point. Yes, it is debatable as to the cause but ultimately we will see the truth. The world is already heavily over-populated by as many as 6 Billion people This is of course debatable what the planet can actually support once the planet mean temperature rises 2 degrees which will occur roughly the same time the global population reaches 10 billion. Some estimates put the sustainable human global population as low as 400 million. Then we have religions (Islam, Catholic, Mormons, etc.) which exacerbate the problem with their inane mandate for very large family sizes, particularly among the poor minorities, with birth rates that are in the 7-10 range verses 1.8 for the western populations with more conservative attitudes. All of this ecological, political, and financial pressures are going to cause mass migrations from areas with little resources, or poor safety to areas with plentiful resources and relative (temporary) safety such as Europe and North America. So, we are already seeing the early days of this. Historically, human populations are controlled through wars, disease, starvation, and pestilence. This is a proven fact and is evident in many historical examples. However, now we have reached a point of no return. No one on the planet is doing anything serious to control population growth which is the real problem. So, nature has devised a cunning way to control human populations and that is through war which I believe is part of the natural balance. Only a very large war which kills off 90% of the human race can save it. Perhaps those (really) in power have realized this? Their behavior suggests I am right as dismal as that may seem.

Posted by: Old Microbiologist | Dec 9, 2015 4:50:18 AM | 138

Old Microbiologist | Dec 9, 2015 4:50:18 AM | 138


Then we have religions (Islam, Catholic, Mormons, etc.) which exacerbate the problem with their inane mandate for very large family sizes, particularly among the poor minorities, with birth rates that are in the 7-10 range verses 1.8 for the western populations with more conservative attitudes.

Only a very large war which kills off 90% of the human race can save it. Perhaps those (really) in power have realized this? Their behavior suggests I am right as dismal as that may seem.


It's clear you're ready to 'bite the bullet', dismal as that may seem ... but not in your neighborhood, right? Can't see the corpses from your house?

Consider the pattern of consumption though, and you'll note that the killing ought to start in North America if consumption of resources is to be limited at the least cost ... in bullets, according to your metric, or ebola colonies? If you want to cut consumption, you need to eliminate the real consumers.

You're right, of course, that the world's heavyweight consumers are 'capitalizing' on - weaponizing - environmental stress against the lightweights.

Posted by: jfl | Dec 9, 2015 6:12:50 AM | 139

jfl, I left the US and live in one of the most xenophobic nation on the planet so, yes, I feel relatively safe. I make no attempts to defend the US and firmly believe they are the largest threat to world peace. I say that as a veteran of 21 wars in my 40 years serving in/for the military (1971-2011).

I have spent my career dealing with the study of the weaponization of zoonotic diseases (defensive research for diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines as well as threat characterization) and am well aware of the ramifications of man's impact on nature. I have been and continue to be an adherent of the zero population growth movement and applauded China for the one child policy. Personally, I believe this is the only thing than can actually work, at least in a peaceful fashion. The problem is that religions appear to trump all so only people in "civilized semi-Godless" nations have taken this to heed. There are alternatives such as forced sterilization of the majority of women, perhaps based on Eugenics, mandatory culling of non-productive members of society, etc. Oh yeah, that was tried before by Germany but unsuccessfully. The problem is people inherently believe all of this to be true yet won't change their own lives, especially when it goes against their religions. They want big government to do something or science to create a solution.

As I said this is early but is developing exponentially. As things begin to resolve politically towards the ultra right wing, xenophobic, solution, and this is happening rapidly as we speak, you will see this escalate. Look at the Trump, Le Pen, German Right, Hungary, Czech Republic, etc. and you can easily see what I mean. ISIS is yet another manifestation of this and they are pushing for all out war in the ME on religious grounds believing this will result in the domination of the world with Islam. Nutty, as that may seem, it is brought about at least partially because of overpopulation and finite resources in the ME.

The thing that scares me the most was the position changes in the US who now believe a nuclear first strike can actually be won. Once all the ABM systems are in place then they may try this gambit. Or they are trying to force Russia into making the first move. Putin has made several nuclear threat comments recently, one yesterday, so this scenario seems to be moving to fruition. The fly in the ointment is the new Topol-M which apparently changes course which eliminates the threat of interception. Those US systems only worked in tests when the location of the targets were pre-determined so an "easy" demonstration. IMHO, it doesn't work an better than the Patriot or Iron-Dome ABM's. The other problem is Russia has apparently continued development of sophisticated jamming systems and battlefield EMP weaponry which perhaps has the US elite wondering how this might actually not work. But, they are well down the road now and I don't think this can change course. They are also banking on China and India not siding with Russia which IMHO is foolish. So we see pressure from the US in Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Serbia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, etc. The main thrusts appear to be Syria/Turkey and Ukraine but any of the others can boil over. Should another Russian jet get shot down or Russia help Syria by destroying the illegal Turkish base there, or shoot down a US flight which just bombed a Syrian Army base, then it can go downhill very quickly. If it happens simultaneously and the US does something stupid like trying to invade Crimea or even the Donbass it can go nuclear (tactical) fast.

So, unless these "leaders" are complete idiots what else might explain all of this? I believe it boils down to overpopulation and competition for finite resources which appear to be inversely proportional.

Posted by: Old Microbiologist | Dec 9, 2015 7:12:36 AM | 140

Great points you've made here, Old Microbiologist. Unfortunately, I completely agree with your position regarding overpopulation and its concomitant depletion of natural resources. I've said for years that what the world needs is adult leadership which is willing to made the difficult decisions regarding not only limiting our consumption of finite resources, but also in terms of reproductive rights. The movie Idiocracy seems more and more like a documentary than a mockumentary as time marches on: selfish morons think it's the god damn 1830's and that they need a huge brood of children, when the opposite is the reality.

Maybe sweeping 80% of humanity into a dustbin will result in lower real estate prices...

Posted by: Bruno Marz | Dec 9, 2015 10:38:22 AM | 141

@ Old Microbiologist | 140, hmmm. Interesting comments. What do you think of the article below?

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO): Profit, Power and Geopolitics

The Project for a New American Century and the Wolfowitz Doctrine show that US foreign policy is about power, control and ensuring global supremacy at any cost [4,5]. Part of the plan for attaining world domination rests on the US controlling agriculture and hijacking food sovereignty and nations’ food security.

In his book ‘Seeds of Destruction’, William Engdahl traces how the oil-rich Rockefeller family translated its massive wealth into political clout and set out to capture agriculture in the US and then globally via the ‘green revolution’ [6]. Along with its big-dam, water-intensive infrastructure requirements, this form of agriculture made farmers dependent on corporate-controlled petroproducts and entrapped them and nations into dollar dependency and debt. GMOs represent more of the same due to the patenting and the increasing monopolization of seeds by a handful of mainly US companies, such as Monsanto, DuPont and Bayer.

In India, Monsanto has sucked millions from agriculture in recent years via royalties, and farmers have been compelled to spend beyond their means to purchase seeds and chemical inputs [7]. A combination of debt, economic liberalization and a shift to (GMO) cash crops (cotton) has caused hundreds of thousands of farmers to experience economic distress, while corporations have extracted huge profits [8]. Over 270,000 farmers in India have committed suicide since the mid to late nineties [9].

MORE:

http://www.globalresearch.ca/genetically-modified-organisms-gmo-profit-power-and-geopolitics/5419873

Wolfowitz has his hands everywhere. Is he a front for Rothschilds or Rockefellers? One uses guns, one uses food.

Does GMO equal IBS?


If you are one of the approximately 70 million Americans who suffer from a chronic digestive issue, then you should know that the food you choose to consume could be carrying a gene that is designed to intentionally cause intestinal rupture. Genetically modified foods that contain Bt toxin, a built-in insecticide that inherently works by imploding the stomach of the creature that is feasting on it, could very well be contributing to your intestinal angst.

http://nakedfoodmagazine.com/does-gmo-equal-ibs/

Posted by: shadyl | Dec 9, 2015 10:42:14 AM | 142

@ Bruno Marz | 141, but isn't capitalism and support of a debt ridden society based on growth? The need of a growing population to keep the balloon afloat? I agree with both of you, our greatest problem is over population, yet it's been almost forgotten.

Human overpopulation: When no news is bad news


Last week, a high-profile study using the latest United Nations data revisited predictions of global population size. The news wasn’t good: Updated estimates using new statistical analyses suggest the world’s population will hit nearly 11 billion by 2100. There’s some uncertainty in this measure because birth and death rates may be changed by political and social dynamics. Still, the study’s authors wrote that there’s a four in five chance the world’s population will be between 9.6 and 12.3 billion by the end of the century.

I was glad to see several media outlets pick up the story. But while most of the reports alluded to the challenges of feeding and employing additional billions of humans, almost none acknowledged the fundamental issue with human population size.
snip

Rather than fearing discussion of human overpopulation, we should embrace it. That’s a lot less scary than rocketing blindly towards 10 billion with no plan for the environmental consequences when we get there.


http://www.stanforddaily.com/2014/10/06/human-overpopulation-when-no-news-is-bad-news/

Posted by: shadyl | Dec 9, 2015 11:01:22 AM | 143

@Shadyl - Capitalism is essentially an economic form of cancer, especially the unrealistic requirement of perpetual growth and margin expansion in order to maintain "the economy". If people could just step outside their media-induced stupor long enough to realize that 80% of the work they do is being skimmed by the powers that be to support their lives of opulence, then we could address the problem directly.

Along these lines, I highly recommend that everyone should watch Rick and Morty Season 2, episode 6 called "The Ricks Must be Crazy" (name obviously paying homage to the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy. The show is absolutely hilarious and it lays bare the underlying premise of capitalism as nothing more than sneaky slavery. Absolutely brilliant satire for sure. The show can be watched for free on the Internet by going to AdultSwim.com. That's all I'll say about that, but remember: sometimes it's important to laugh, especially when we're standing on the precipice of a potentially big war.

Posted by: Bruno Marz | Dec 9, 2015 11:38:17 AM | 144

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x33rx05

Watching it. Hysterical. Reminds me of Coin Shaving, or money changers, too.

Dug this up:

http://blogln.ning.com/profiles/blogs/2189391:BlogPost:46238

The Art of Coin Shaving (Ancient Rome vs. USA, Inc.)


The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.

-- Cicero, 55 BC

Posted by: shadyl | Dec 9, 2015 1:12:35 PM | 145

Re: the Nevadan state Assembly member and her declaration of wanting to get on a flight to Paris to shoot her a few them thar Syrian terrists --

I wonder if this will be enough to get her on the US No Fly list....

Link at Mina's comment - #136

Posted by: jawbone | Dec 9, 2015 1:36:34 PM | 146

@Shadyl - Glad to hear you're enjoying it, and I'd recommend the rest of the episodes in the series. Almost every one is great.

The coin shaving stuff is amazing, especially when you consider how closely it resembles deflating our own currency by running the printing presses 24/7.

Those who forget history and whatnot...

Posted by: Bruno Marz | Dec 9, 2015 2:00:17 PM | 147

@shadyl 145

Thanks for the article re coin shaving. So much funny business happened on Clintons watch. The 2008 'crash & ransom' is in large part the fault of Billy n friends deregulation. That should've been the date where new global fiscal policy was ushered in...but, wall st played a massive blackmail card - audacious and sickening.

We witness the most nefarious brands of socialism there is... 'free markets' for the common man, who taxes socialise the parasitic financial systems losses. You cant make this shit up.

So, we wait... For the big reset. 2008 will look like chump change.

Posted by: MadMax2 | Dec 9, 2015 10:53:53 PM | 148

...
So, unless these "leaders" are complete idiots what else might explain all of this? I believe it boils down to overpopulation and competition for finite resources which appear to be inversely proportional.
Posted by: Old Microbiologist | Dec 9, 2015 7:12:36 AM | 140

...or, given that these "leaders" are tools of the 1% (worldwide), and that the world is overpopulated with 1%-ers and their tools (not forgetting the inversely proportional factor + the Monopoly factor), why not begin the depopulation by eliminating the 1% to see what effect that has on resource distribution? Imo, it would be disproportionately beneficial to the whole of Humankind (from whom the 1% stand aloof and hold in utter and bottomless contempt).

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 9, 2015 10:55:34 PM | 149

ad Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 9, 2015 10:55:34 PM | 149

If there weren't any people who worship their role as Ubermenchen then the need for, and the existence of, Untermenchen would evaporate.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 9, 2015 11:16:42 PM | 150

I think these proposals to kill people in order to get human population under control say more about the proposers than the problem. All humans die of natural causes. The problem is on the procreation end.

A moment's reflection reveals that those humans who feel they have something to lose to, among other things, over-population manage to keep the number of their offspring at ... Old Microbio says 1.8 per pair ... while those who feel they have nothing to lose are more productive. Obviously the answer is to take some of the too-much and put it with the too-little, thus giving those presenly dealt out a hand, somthing to lose, and so moderating their reproduction.

There was no government program in Europe or Japan to moderate population growth, it just happened, 'naturally'. But those with too-much would rather have even more, and so seriously now propose genocide as the 'solution' to their problem. But their problem will never go away, as the heavyweight consumers constantly require more, more than offsetting the hordes of lightweight consumers they liquidate in their genocides. See shadyl @143. We humans are OK when we're running naturally, but we're murder inc. when we start to 'think'.

Posted by: jfl | Dec 10, 2015 3:41:23 AM | 151

MadMax2 @ 111

"…faith backed paper currency…"

Fiat currency is backed by the issuer's production capacity, not faith.

Paper currency (or coin) is a physical representation of a currency unit, the actual unit is a balance-sheet object.

If the US dollar collapses it will be because we don't make anything anymore, not because there are too many dollars in existence. Spending, and therefore GDP is function of money creation, a flow, not the quantity of money, a stock.

An hour of labor buys more today than it did 100 years ago…the nominal 'value' of a currency is irrelevant in that context.

Posted by: paulmeli | Dec 10, 2015 1:19:25 PM | 152

US officials claim Iran pulling out of Syria war

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-12-10/western-officials-iran-retreating-from-syria-fight

Posted by: Les | Dec 10, 2015 3:36:05 PM | 153

@@ paulmeli | Dec 10, 2015 1:19:25 PM | 152

I suspect the thought never entered some heads that a gold coin is also fiat money, albeit of the highest order (its material having some inherent intrinsic value in money itself). No gold coin ever struck was originally less than the contemporary commodity price of gold, the fees for minting, the sovereign's act of minting always added some extra value to the intrinsic value of the material being coined, be it gold, silver, brass, bronze, copper, lead & etc. The high intrinsic value and scarcity of silver and gold served as a device to hinder unauthorised forgery for greater value monetary coins by leaving little or no margin for gain and the physical properties having easily identifiable characteristics that discouraged substitution e.g. the weight of gold or silver in a coin to its size, etc.
The immense volume of currency needed for the economy of a modern large state to work precludes complete reliance on the traditional metallic coinage, opting to utilise material having marginal intrinsic value instead and going to great lengths to forestall unauthorised forgery. Bottom line, both forms are simply tokens denominated in money units; only an ignorant fool would purposely denigrate the value of either. Actually the purist form of currency is that with little intrinsic value, depending entirely on the trust in the integrity of its production to forestall forgery and consequent economic loss in trade.

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Dec 10, 2015 5:01:31 PM | 154

The two main theories as to the origins of the Syrian war, according to people here, appear to be:

1) The "duelling pipelines to Europe" theory (this one is probably the most oft-repeated theory in the alternative media).

2) The "war to support the petrodollar" theory.

While I was in the bath, I was thinking about all of the possible reasons for stoking the war, from the Western perspective. I had a few ideas that I've not seen shared here, also I've seen a lot of great posts by Psychohistorian, talking up the international finance angle.

Firstly, I don't think the petrodollar can be saved, and by extension, the US dollar in its current form cannot be saved either; the question is what will replace the USD as dominant reserve currency, who will control it and what form the new currency will take. Will the new currency be credit or not credit? Fiat or something else?

If the war in the middle east goes on for a long time, without a clear winner, there will be no gas pipeline to Turkey from Qatar *or* Iran. Russia can continue building new pipelines along the northern route, however, which even the US-dominated EU leaders would be forced to go along with.

The petrodollar standard would be completely broken, leading to a big drop in the dollar's foreign exchange value. Even so, it's not in China's and Russia's interest for a total defeat of the Western financial empire, including a subsequent total collapse of civilisation in North America and Europe (for so many obvious reasons that it's not worth pointing them all out).

Instead, the "new Bretton Woods conference" to iron out the details of the new financial system would be named after some Asian city, but life would go on under a new administration. The Chinese would be able to dictate the terms of the new financial system, but they'd still want to prop up the Western countries, just as the US did for the defeated nations in the Western sphere of influence, following the end of World War II.

Assuming an overall US geostrategic defeat, the dollar would surely suffer a devaluation, but the extent of the devaluation would depend upon how many real, tangible assets the US can put on the table, during the negotiations for the global currency reset. Maybe precious metals will play a part, but if it turns out that the US doesn't have much gold left, natural gas works too (like gold, gas still has potential worth, if you have rights to the ground in which it lies dormant).

Any reasonably stable store of value can serve as collateral, so it would be helpful to the US cause if the Western oligarchs could grab as many hard assets as possible, before they're forced to sit down at the table to negotiate a conditional surrender. Basically, what I'm saying is that the desperate US actions in the Middle East can still make sense, even if the US side realised that defeat was inevitable. The big question would be whether the US could hang onto their influence in various strategically important regions, rather than being evicted as the Soviet Union was in Eastern Europe.

Another thing: if the US dollar has lost a great deal of its foreign exchange value, after the petrodollar system has gone away for good, the Americans wouldn't be able to continue financing their armies of occupation. US troops would probably have to leave Europe. Assuming that the conflict in Syria and Iraq is not resolved decisively in favour of either side, the Western attempt to prevent the EU's long-term convergence of interests with Russia would have failed.

China and Russia have recently announced that they will work towards linking the new Silk Road Economic Belt with the Eurasian Economic Union; eventually there will be a single free trade zone from Moscow to Beijing. What is to stop Europe from joining up with the combined Sino-Eussian Eurasian free trade area, if the American troops have gone home and Europe is still reliant on Russia for her natural gas needs?

When people discuss a "new intermarium" online, it tends to be in the context of a Western military containment of Russia, but why not also look at it from the trade perspective? The currently proposed routes for China's new Silk Road Economic Belt/Maritime Silk Road head straight through ISIS territory, and past the Gulf of Aden (off the coast of Yemen); is it a coincidence that two proxy wars between the US/EU and China/Russia are being waged in precisely those two parts of the world?

Perhaps another facet of the US strategy is to basically build a wall from the Baltic Sea to the Gulf of Aden, to interfere with the Chinese trade strategy. All of the countries along the extended intermarium are being forced into conflict with Russia; even if the EU wanted to join a pan-Eurasian free trade area, there would be this wall of Russophobic countries imposing tarriffs on the Eastern side, at the very least. I don't think the aforementioned strategy is a particularly viable one, in the event of a Chinese-led "new Bretton Woods", but I just want to point out that although the US strategy appears to be a kind of winner-takes-all insanity, I'm sure there's also a strategy for managing a US decline, to create the most favourable conditions to continue playing the long game.

Let's not forget that if the narrative written in the history books is accurate, Russia has gone from defeated superpower to possibly being on the verge of defeating the so-called "hyperpower", which is the same force that defeated the Soviet Union! Even after the cold war ended, Russia remained a *nuclear* superpower, which is something that would also be true for the USA, win or lose. The US always has the (extremely provocative) option of storing nuclear weapons in any allied territory that they absolutely cannot afford to lose.

Posted by: Victori-ana | Dec 11, 2015 6:18:06 PM | 155

@152

Then we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one paulmeli. Better or worse production capacity won't stop currency debasement in its many forms. The form of debasement the current de facto reserve currency suffers is of course fractional reserve lending, where the sovereign right of 'money creation' is reserved for private sector bank.

When the US Dollar collapses, it will be because the facade has been broken and no one wants to use it - at best it will become a competing world currency. One among a few. A hollowed out industrial sector that produces nothing will simply mean it will be harder for the US to drag itself out of the mud post crash. Not the military industry sector though...it will be exporting for a good while post crash I would imagine...sadly, it is still very productive despite the rest of US industry falling apart.

@154

Gold worked well yes. Because of its intrinsic value indeed...portable, divisible, excellent store of value. And yes, a form of fiat that has in the past found itself debased. I would argue that the most pure form of fiat was the Somali shilling. It had no central authority for 10 years, and was not taxed. People even serviced counterfeits. Why? Simple good faith. The people chose. The market. That's pure fiat however fleeting.
http://insidebitcoins.com/news/a-real-world-example-of-how-bitcoin-can-function-without-a-central-bank/24710

Posted by: MadMax2 | Dec 11, 2015 10:08:12 PM | 156

@@ MadMax2 | Dec 11, 2015 10:08:12 PM | 156

Should one be so bold as to suggest reading a book, you might benefit from David Graeber "DEBT, The First 5,000 Years", ISBN 978-1-61219-419-6 or would that be too 19th through first 2/3rds 20th century? In this book an anthropologist constructs the nature of as well as the beginnings of economic activities; and it is not what you have been told to think about economics. Until economics is defined as the study of human ecology and the superstructures developed to further that ecology, there will be no common language to convey ideas or concepts; much evidenced in your commentary above and very similar to the reception John Maynard Keynes received for his analysis of economic conditions in his lifetime (and continuing to this very moment). Your reply makes no sense from the beginning e.g. gold is a commodity as is wheat, intrinsic value automatically adheres to commodities, otherwise they would not be economic commodities, even sand on the seashore is a commodity as abundant as that is.Watch the intrinsic value of wheat increase when the annual harvest fails. As for bitcoins, nothing found on the internet is original, rather a marketing ploy by private interests to further a scheme to develop a revenue stream for themselves through the manipulation of fear and economic ignorance; your link is clickbait but thanks for trying nonetheless.

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Dec 12, 2015 3:31:00 AM | 157

'b'
When you put this post to bed, would it be possible to delete my @ Formerly T-Bear | Dec 12, 2015 3:31:00 AM | 157 ? The cute hoor it was addressed cannot be civil enough to respond. There is no reason to leave my commentary in the public domain. Thanks.

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Dec 16, 2015 4:45:51 AM | 158

@155 Victori-ana

I never got around to addressing your long post - caused a long pause for thought. But, I didn't forget about it. Had a little bit of time over the holidays to look at some commentary...found a long piece by Michael Hudson... Reminded me of the issues you raised in your post above.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/12/18/the-imf-changes-its-rules-to-isolate-china-and-russia/

@ 157 Formerly T-Bear
I take your point - what is money...?

'...Actually the purist form of currency is that with little intrinsic value, depending entirely on the trust in the integrity of its production to forestall forgery and consequent economic loss in trade...'
I didn't have time to find an article on the Somali shilling, but just posted something I found quickly. It was an article promoting the virtues of bitcoin - I certainly wasn't promoting. Though, as you wrote about the purity of a currency I quote above, then it could well be argued that cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin are just that. Each unit of value brought about by the work of solving complex mathematical formula - but, perhaps what gives it true value is the blockchain technology behind it, which squares transactions peer-to-peer by distributing each bitcoin transaction on a ledger seen by all users...taking out the middleman/bank.

While private interests may or may not be behind bitcoin, a bitcoin is what is described in italics above.
http://m.nasdaq.com/article/2015-a-blockbuster-year-for-bitcoins-blockchain-technology-cm559938

Thanks for the Graeber reccommendation, I enjoyed his interview with Max Keiser when it came out.

Posted by: MadMax2 | Dec 30, 2015 10:57:19 PM | 159

@ MadMax2 | Dec 30, 2015 10:57:19 PM | 159

An eggy faced retraction of subsequent commentary. Succinctly, blockchain is nothing more than an electronic version of fine engraving and serves the same purpose in verifying a virtual token that is dependent on a battery and will last as long as the memory that holds it, produced by private proprietary interests interested in creating a revenue stream of actual legal tender - which bitcoin isn't as well. Private currency - your faith thereof is vastly greater than mine.

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Dec 31, 2015 2:52:31 AM | 160


My faith in private currency? You assume so much. Surely the open ledger blockchain technology provides will be one of the ways forward for the human race, escaping usury for the ages.

Retraction? You must be confusing my post with what you wish to see. As for the eggy face, that happened in post 158, with the pleading to the blog author to erase your post. Weak.

I am sorry what happened to you at school. Kids can be cruel.

Posted by: MadMax2 | Dec 31, 2015 8:32:03 PM | 161

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