Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 18, 2007

Dots To Connect

Several [Baker/Hamilton] commission members, including some Democrats, are discussing proposals that call for a declaration that within a specified period of time, perhaps as short as a year, a significant number of American troops should be withdrawn, regardless of whether the Iraqi government’s forces are declared ready to defend the country.
Panel to Weigh Overture by U.S. to Iran and Syria, NYT, November 26, 2006


Saudi Arabia is so concerned about the damage that the conflict in Iraq is doing across the region that it basically summoned Vice President Cheney for talks over the weekend, according to U.S. officials and foreign diplomats. The visit was originally portrayed as U.S. outreach to its oil-rich Arab ally.
Civil War in Iraq Near, Annan Says, WaPo, November 28, 2006


Just a few months ago it was unthinkable that President Bush would prematurely withdraw a significant number of American troops from Iraq. But it seems possible today, and therefore the Saudi leadership is preparing to substantially revise its Iraq policy.
Abdullah may decide to strangle Iranian funding of the militias through oil policy. If Saudi Arabia boosted production and cut the price of oil in half, the kingdom could still finance its current spending. But it would be devastating to Iran, which is facing economic difficulties even with today's high prices.
Stepping Into Iraq, WaPo OpEd, November 29, 2006, Nawaf Obaid is an adviser to the Saudi government


CNN's The Situation Room mentioned "senior administration officials" who suggested Bush wants more time because he "is planning to do something big" namely, he is "very seriously considering agreeing with John McCain and increasing troop levels."
Bush Planning "Something Big" On Iraq, US News, December 13, 2006


The first wave of additional US troops is set to arrive in Iraq at the end of the month, it was reported today, with George Bush scheduled to lay out his "new strategy" for the conflict in a televised address tonight.
Bush to address US on new Iraq strategy, Guardian, January 10, 2007


Posted by b on January 18, 2007 at 7:07 UTC | Permalink


Looks like they're trying to have it both ways -- a surge in troop levels as well as a surge in oil production out of the House of Saud -- and the Cheney Administration thinks we're either too stupid to connect those dots or thinks we'll do what The Decider does: put a straw to the table and start snorting the carefully razor-cut white substance in between them. I hate to break the bad news to them but my liberal America hatin' Defeatocrat ass traded bleeding sinuses for a bleeding heart a long, long, time ago ...

Posted by: Sizemore | Jan 18 2007 7:59 utc | 1

I can "read" the graph, but am wondering exactly what it is charting.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Jan 18 2007 8:04 utc | 2

@HKOL - The US Oil Fund is an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) whos price follows that very closly the spot oil price. It allows normal stock investors to "bet" on oil prices without getting into the technicals of derivative dealings.

The investment objective of USOF is for changes in percentage terms of the units' net asset value to reflect the changes in percentage terms of the spot price of West Texas Intermediate ("WTI") light, sweet crude oil delivered to Cushing, Oklahoma ("WTI light, sweet crude oil"), less USOF's expenses.

Posted by: b | Jan 18 2007 8:31 utc | 3,,173-2553148,00.html>Maliki speaks, and considering he's suppose to be on board with Bush's surge plan (in the newshour interview Bush even made it seem like it was Maliki's idea) so its a bit weird Maliki is talking about a radical reduction in troops. At any rate ya' gotta love his ability to throw Bush's rhetoric back at him aka "by criticising my government you are siding and encouraging the terrorists".

America’s refusal to give Baghdad’s security forces sufficient guns and equipment has cost a great number of lives, the Iraqi Prime Minister said yesterday.

Nouri al-Maliki said the insurgency had been bloodier and prolonged because Washington had refused to part with equipment. If it released the necessary arms, US forces could “dramatically” cut their numbers in three to six months, he told The Times.

In a sign of the tense relations with Washington, he chided the US for suggesting his Government was living on “borrowed time”. Such criticism boosted Iraq’s extremists, he said, and was more a reflection of “some kind of crisis situation” in Washington after the Republicans’ midterm election losses.
Although Mr al-Maliki’s tone was measured throughout, he is clearly irritated at US criticism that he has failed to curb Shia militias. Robert Gates, the new US Defence Secretary, said that Mr al-Maliki could lose his job if he failed to stop communal bloodshed and Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State, gave a warning that he was living on “borrowed time” and that American patience was running out.

Challenged on the point, Mr al-Maliki remarked acidly: “Certain officials are going through a crisis. Secretary Rice is expressing her own point of view if she thinks that the Government is on borrowed time, whether it is borrowed time for the Iraqi Government or American Administration. I don’t think we are on borrowed time.”

He added: “I wish that we could receive strong messages of support from the US so we don’t give some boost to the terrorists and make them feel that they might have achieved success. I believe that such statements give moral boosts to the terrorists and push them towards making an extra effort and making them believe that they have defeated the American Administration, but I can tell you that they haven’t defeated the Iraqi Government.”
And he insisted that he was prepared to fulfil his promises to Washington and confront the militias of Shia parties within his coalition, including Moqtada al-Sadr’s widely feared al-Mahdi Army. He conceded that some “sectarian” acts were being perpetrated. But he said there would not be a civil war because Sunni and Shia had lived in peace for many years.

Posted by: anna missed | Jan 18 2007 9:25 utc | 4

Concerning the price of oil, there's another independant factor that has some serious influence here. Namely, the insanely mild winter weather in several parts of industrialised world. I think the high oil cost in Fall was partly due to anticipation of the usually big demand of the colder times ahead, but since it turned out it isn't colder than in Nov, or barely, the former speculation of increasing oil prices this winter just went down.
On the other hand, if next summer is as hellish as 2003, there'll be much use of air-conditioning next July, and increased oil consumption compared to the average summer.

Not to dismiss all the Saudi and Big Oil tricks, which come into play as well.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Jan 18 2007 9:29 utc | 5

My take is that Abdullah did promise to lower oilprices, IF the U.S. stayed in Iraq AND would pressure Iran. That was the implicite offer in the Obaid OpEd.

The U.S. stayed and, as leaked on December 13 even increased troops. Then the oil price immediately started to drop.

Now even as most OPEC countries want to lower production quotas, Saudi oil minister says no need for cuts.

Bush is traiding Iraqi and U.S. lives to the Saudi's king pleasure.

Posted by: b | Jan 18 2007 10:16 utc | 6

@b Thanks for the clarification. Presumably one can stay abreast
of the USOF via the URL given at the bottom:

so thanks again, not only for this information, but also for the

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Jan 18 2007 10:20 utc | 7

@anna - really funny how Maliki is playing on Rove's instruments ... lets hope some Dems pick that up ...

Posted by: b | Jan 18 2007 13:17 utc | 8

#6 link
Crude oil prices have tumbled 16 percent so far this year in a sell-off triggered by the warm winter in the northern U.S.

front page weather link..

Harsh winter weather dogged much of the United States, leaving scores of people dead, hundreds of thousands without electricity ...Low temperatures also struck the US northwest, where cleanup crews in Portland, Oregon on Wednesday focused on de-icing major roadways after the area was hit with up to 13 centimeters (five inches) of snow on Tuesday...... In the far northeastern state of Maine, temperatures early Wednesday were as low as minus 24 C (minus 11 F) but no major problems were reported......The storm that covered much of the midwestern US was caused by a vast cold front

i'll connect the dots alright

Posted by: annie | Jan 18 2007 19:29 utc | 9

@b; It is amazing how that price break coincides with the leaking of the surge policy. You're not the only one connecting these dots (from some market research yesterday):

In one of the few visible trends of the year, oil prices have been very weak. Indeed, crude oil futures have dropped –16.1% ytd and -33.5% since their peak in mid-July of last year. Back in August, [we] argued that the Saudi royal family would likely start to get worried by the political ascendance of Shia-dominated Iran. [We] also made the point that the Saudis would be happy to let oil prices fall in order keep a lid on Ahmadinejad’s ambitions... After all, what could be more damaging to Saudi Arabia than a powerful Iran inviting Saudi Arabia’s rapidly growing Shia population to rebellion? Interestingly, a scenario whereby Saudi Arabia keeps Iran’s power in check by collapsing oil prices now seems to be unfolding. Yesterday the Saudi oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, rejected calls for more OPEC cuts and said: “There is actually no real need right now”. Adding to the oil-bearish news, US stockpiles are still rising, while the warm US weather is putting a serious dent in short-term demand. Overall, we expect oil prices to keep weakening, and we would not be surprised to see the barrel fall below US$50 in the near future.

a chart

Posted by: PeeDee | Jan 18 2007 20:30 utc | 10

1237 GMT -- SAUDI ARABIA -- Saudi Arabia plans to expand its crude oil production capacity to 12.5 million barrels per day by 2009 from the current 9 million, and will double its refining size over the next five years, Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi said Jan. 18. The plans are part of an $80 billion commitment by the country to increase global oil supplies.

Posted by: PeeDee | Jan 18 2007 21:56 utc | 11

But.... But..... What about Peak Oil and all those articles that said the Saudi Oil reserves were in collapse?

Is it possible that every progressive in the world has been snookered for the past couple of years to deflect attention from the machinations of the wealthy?

Posted by: Bob M. | Jan 19 2007 16:35 utc | 12

indeed Bob M, indeed.

how many times have I seen proof that Saudi oil production peaked? and now they will increase it by 50%?

either somebody is lying now or they were lying then.

Posted by: dan of steele | Jan 19 2007 16:49 utc | 13

peak oil still allows for the other 50% to be used before it runs dry. don't we have another solid 10-20 years or something before it's all sucked dry? isn't that what we are fighting for, to control the spigot on downside of the curve?

plenty of room to roll around, lie low, lie down, lie...

Posted by: annie | Jan 19 2007 21:56 utc | 14

a buddy of mine played around with OPECs own figures and came up with about 28 years, fwiw

Posted by: gmac | Jan 20 2007 11:49 utc | 15

I saw that PeeDee's excerpt in #11 was first reported in 2005 and there is a discussion of this here

unfortunately there are more questions than answers. it does seem that statement referenced in #11 is either wishful thinking or propagenda.

Posted by: dan of steele | Jan 20 2007 12:51 utc | 16

Regarding Pee Dee's #10


Iran was benefiting greatly from the high oil prices. My guess is that it's not in U.S./Saudi interests now for high oil prices with the "surge"/Iran escalation.

Posted by: Rick | Jan 20 2007 13:55 utc | 17

dan #16, thanks for the informative link.

Saudi Arabia has long been OPEC's "swing producer," meaning that it since the 1970s it has had millions of barrels per day of unused production capacity that could be used to make up for production shortfalls and emergencies elsewhere (such as during the First Gulf War of the early 1990s when Kuwait's production was temporarily sequestered) or to discipline its fellow OPEC members. By 2004, this spare capacity had vanished.

Posted by: annie | Jan 20 2007 15:04 utc | 18

Confirmation by Jim Hoagland: Impatience on Iran Carries a Price

The campaign [against Iran] received a big boost last week when it became clear that Saudi Arabia is finally worried enough about Iran to use oil as a weapon against the regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Saudi oil minister Ali Nuaimi publicly opposed Iranian calls for production cuts by the OPEC cartel to halt a decline that has taken crude oil from $78 a barrel in July to just above $50 a barrel last week.

The Saudis have enough reserve production capacity to swing OPEC prices up and down at will. Their relatively small population gives them a flexibility in postponing revenue gains that populous Iran lacks. Nuaimi's pronouncement, although cast as a technical matter that had nothing to do with politics, seemed to give teeth to recent warnings issued in private by Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi national security adviser, that the kingdom will now respond to Iranian hostility with its own confrontational tactics.

Posted by: b | Jan 22 2007 15:54 utc | 19

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