Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 22, 2016

Warmed-Over Propaganda: 'Putin Asks Assad To Leave'

For nearly five we are told every six month or so that Russia or Iran is, NOW FOR REAL, dropping its support for Syria and/or its President Assad.

These claims are part of psychological disinformation campaign the U.S. and its allies are running against Syria. The stories are supposed to sow doubt between Syria, its allies and supporters.

The media love to blather about such groundless speculation and each such propaganda round is accompanied by a wave of the ever same stupid analysis. It will be the same today after some "western" intelligence agencies, likely British this time, again claim that Putin asked Assad to step down:

Russian President Vladimir Putin asked long-time ally Bashar Assad to step down as president of Syria toward the end of 2015, the Financial Times reported.

The message from Putin was relayed by Colonel-General Igor Sergun, the head of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency before his death in January, according to two senior western intelligence officials who spoke to the FT on the condition of anonymity.

How convenient that the guy who allegedly talked with Assad is now dead. That might be a good chance to blame the Kremlin, which strongly denies the above report, for his death. We can be assured that Putin 'probably' murdered him.

But why should Russia ask Assad to step down when this would demoralize the Syria army with which it is fighting? Why would that be in Russia's interest?

According to one European intelligence official, speaking to the FT, after beginning airstrikes in Syria “Putin had taken a look under the bonnet [hood] of the Syrian regime and found a lot more problems than he was bargaining for.”

As if Russia would need to "take a look" at Syria. It has had deep relations with the country for decades, there are many economic and personal ties and Syrian officers are trained in Russia. Russia's foreign services knows more about Syria than anyone's else. There was surely no need to "look under the bonnet" after the Russia decision to intervene was made. Russia does not act like the U.S. which jumps into conflicts head first before figuring out the aims of its interventions and means to reach them. Russia's targets and means were identified before it went into Syria. Even if Syria is a mess "under the bonnet" how would dismissing Assad change that? Is there anyone in sight who could do a better job?

Cameron, the British premier, probably needed this diversion and threw this propaganda bone towards the Financial Times. Cameron had famously claimed that:

"there are about 70,000 Syrian opposition fighters on the ground who do not belong to extremist groups."

The foundation of his former comrade in crime Tony Blair today put a nail through that claim:

Our study of 48 rebel factions in Syria revealed that 33 per cent - nearly 100,000 fighters - have the same ideological objectives as ISIS. If you take into account Islamist groups (those who want a state governed by their interpretation of Islamic law), this figure jumps to 60 per cent.
Despite the conflicting ideologies of the rebel groups, 90 per cent of the groups studied hold the defeat of Assad's regime as a principal objective. Sixty-eight per cent seek the establishment of Islamic law in Syria. In contrast, only 38 per cent have the defeat of ISIS as a stated goal.

Some 60-80% of the "rebel" groups in Syria do not want to fight the Islamic State but want the diverse, secular country under Islamic law. If they would carry such opinion in Britain Cameron surely would label them extremists.

The Blair foundation is tricky with its numbers. The claim that the 1/3 of the groups it checked are extremists and have 100,000 fighters will let some lazy thinkers assume that the total number of fighters is 300,000. But that is completely false. The 1/3 of the groups the foundation names as extremists include all major groups on the ground like Ahrar al-Sham, Jabhat al-Nusra and Jaish Islam. Together the named groups have more than 90% of the total men power on the opposition side. While there are several dozens factions that may not be extremists these are all very small and hardly more than local village guards.

But we shall not think any further along that line.

Did you hear that Putin 'probably' killed the boss of his military intelligence? And that he wants Assad to leave immediately?

Posted by b on January 22, 2016 at 18:10 UTC | Permalink


Very good stuff, thanks MoA.

Posted by: Au | Jan 22 2016 18:22 utc | 1

b, very good analysis.

Posted by: Jack Smith | Jan 22 2016 18:30 utc | 2


US strips accreditation of five Russian honorary consuls

Posted by: Jack Smith | Jan 22 2016 18:33 utc | 3

This is pure speculation, but I have long believed that a major factor behind the oil price crash was US Saudi desire to hurt Russia and Iran. With oil rallying sharply today, wonder if this signals a possible improvement in US Russia relations.

Posted by: Vollin | Jan 22 2016 19:17 utc | 4

@Vollin #4:

The first is the accepted wisdom in these parts. The price of oil started to go down right after Kerry visited Saudi Arabia. Speculation then was that it was all about Russia, and Iran was not in the picture.

It's not clear that relations between Russia and the US are improving. Overtures like Nuland meeting in Kaliningrad with a Russian official about Ukraine could just be empty gestures to keep Russia off balance. The relevant development may be not in Russia/US relations, but that everyone seems to have realized recently that the low oil price has hurt Saudi Arabia more than it has hurt Russia.

Posted by: Demian | Jan 22 2016 19:38 utc | 5

I wish the UK would shut the hell up already. I don't believe they are as important as they think they are.
It's amazing that they consider themselves to be the arbiters of important issues out of their own sphere of influence (whatever that may be). I can't imagine there's anyone outside of the USSA, Canada, Australia, NZ that would trust anything that comes out of the mouths of the govt of that rainy little island and the city of London.

Posted by: farflungstar | Jan 22 2016 20:27 utc | 6

Low oil prices have hurt American driller most of all.

Maybe Kerry was letting the Saudis know, that Obama could not stop the selling of USA oil off shore and for Saudis it is all about market share and bankrupting USA companies.

US Oil Sector Bankruptcies To Rise In 2016 As 'Panic And Fear' Grip Industry

America’s oil fields until recently buzzed with activity and swam in cash as oil prices rose above $100 a barrel and hydraulic fracturing spurred a U.S. drilling boom. Now dozens of companies are facing bankruptcy and tens of thousands of people are out of work — and the pain is expected to deepen this year as the oil-price collapse continues.
Thirty-nine such companies filed for bankruptcy protection in 2015, representing more than $5 billion in aggregate debt, Haynes and Boone said Tuesday in its latest oil market bankruptcy report. That’s well under 5 percent of the hundreds of middle-market oil field service companies in the country, the law firm estimated.

Posted by: shadyl | Jan 22 2016 20:38 utc | 7

Wishful thinking seems to be the only type of thinking happening in much of the world today including the US, Russia and the ME.

Putin is wedded to Assad and he hangs around his neck like an albatross with no separation possible without more chaos. I wonder if Putin regrets his saving Assad from the US attack in 2012 when the Islamist forces in Syria were small and weak? A transition may have been possible then with Ba'athist government structures intact and support from much of the secular rebel forces.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Jan 22 2016 20:44 utc | 8

The mentioned "1/3" trick taken to the nth potention is visible in this infographic by Thomas van Linge, who has a bit of an excuse because he makes great maps and is a just 19-year-old Dutch "rebel" romantic. On the other hand through his detail knowledge he should know that this presentation is extremely misleading.

Posted by: CE | Jan 22 2016 20:48 utc | 9

@ shadyl | 7

Low oil prices have hurt American driller most of all.

US companies lost what, $20 bln? Its acceptable loss when damage done to Russia, Iran and Venezuela is in hundreds of billions, per year. Venezuela is crumbling and pro-US crooks are already taking over, while Russia's and Iran's economies are hurting. As far as neocons are concerned, it was well worth it to crash oil prices.

Posted by: Harry | Jan 22 2016 20:55 utc | 10

I doubt the initial premise that “These claims are part of psychological disinformation campaign the U.S. and its allies are running against Syria. The stories are supposed to sow doubt between Syria, its allies and supporters.”

The claims are more useful for shaping public opinion back home and, to a lesser degree, the targets’ public opinion.

There is no doubt in the minds of the leaders of Syria, its allies and supporters. They have two and only two crystal clear alternatives:
1. They can hang separately.
2. They can hang together.

Posted by: SingingSam | Jan 22 2016 21:17 utc | 11

SingingSam, the Syrian war is existential for Iran,Iraq and Hezbollah also, that is why it will not be lost to the West's intervention. These allies have not committed the vast forces at their disposal, the Russians have the resources and the political will to continue the war for as long as it takes to prevail, which is inevitable. The Iranians could commit vast numbers to defeat the Islamists if push came to shove, they just don't need to at the moment because Assad's forces are slaughtering the head choppers.
Tony Cartalucci has it right in this article at Global Research,

Posted by: harry law | Jan 22 2016 22:00 utc | 12

@farflungstar 6

Many UK politicians are crap (don't start me on Blair) and I agree that there is a widespread inflated sense of self-importance but "rainy little island" sounded (like an attempt to be) broadly insulting. Of course, the natives know that the rain is what keeps it so beautiful and green. Be nice.

Posted by: dontbeawanker | Jan 22 2016 23:19 utc | 13

Ireland, the land of my ancestors, is even rainier, and even greener.

Posted by: lysias | Jan 22 2016 23:26 utc | 14

Do nothing till you hear from me

Posted by: jfl | Jan 22 2016 23:35 utc | 15

@ harry law 12

Yes, Tony Cartalucci has it right. I wrote essentially the same thing earlier today at Saker's site saying:

"It is clear since at least the end of WWII that a change in rhetoric from official U.S. does not signify a change in position. The agenda for Syria has not changed in the slightest. It remains:
1. Destroy Assad.
2. Destroy the Syrian government.
3. Balkanize the country.
4. Repeat the above steps as needed and where needed in the Middle East.

The suggestion on CrossTalk that the U.S. is unable to control its friends is rubbish. The U.S. does not accept real independence of thought and action from anyone, not from foes and certainly not from friends. When a friend says or does something out of step with U.S. rhetoric du jour and gets away with it, what we see is the difference between the soft rhetoric and the hard position of the U.S.

Syria’s enemies clearly will not bargain in good faith. The best thing that Russia, Syria et al can do at the talks is drag the talks out over trivia like the shape of the negotiating table while seizing and holding militarily all of Syria’s territory. The only solution for Syria is the military solution."

Posted by: SingingSam | Jan 23 2016 0:03 utc | 16

@6 ffs : 'I wish the UK would shut the hell up already. I don't believe they are as important as they think they are.'

Nor is the US, media-wise. The BBC, NYT, BezosPost ... have all reduced themselves to trolls for the collapsing empire. They've all fallen to the level of our resident troll here at MoA ... slipped over, taking up space, unheeded, unread. Those who buy their lines for what they think they're worth will be shocked! when they find at settlement what they actually are worth. The US may still be the master of death, devastation, destruction, and deceit ... but the denizens of the dreary little island must just make do with deceit. And I mean that in a 'nice way' ... at least they're spared the crimes of DD&D the US still ... can hire. There will be a War Crimes Tribunal for our USA after the final collapse 'our' - not leprechauns but neolibracons - are doggedly frog marching us toward. The UK may squeak by in its shadow.

Posted by: jfl | Jan 23 2016 0:03 utc | 17

@17 "The UK may squeak by in its shadow."

No, the UK will hold an enquiry and exonerate everybody.

Posted by: dh | Jan 23 2016 0:12 utc | 18

!18 Except Putin.

Posted by: dh | Jan 23 2016 0:13 utc | 19

Every major paper in the US has been reporting for several years now that there is no secular opposition. Cameron's lie should be chiseled into the wood of his bench in the house of commons, right under Tony Blair's "Iraq can use its WMD in 45 minutes". Two completely dangerous bullshit artists.

Posted by: guest77 | Jan 23 2016 0:16 utc | 20

Cameron is prime minister .xxx not that he should be !

Posted by: Brian | Jan 23 2016 0:25 utc | 21

"Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of." NYTimes

Here's a nice write up on the whole Western media "moderate rebel" shell game:

Posted by: guest77 | Jan 23 2016 0:27 utc | 22

@17 'There will be a War Crimes Tribunal for our USA ...'

Billmon's imaginative rendering of that tribunal ... wish it were updated with the crew from the second, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate's shift.

Posted by: jfl | Jan 23 2016 0:41 utc | 23

City of London Oligarchs and American and Israeli Multinational Oligarchs whom own the mainstream media are tightly connected like Aspens at the roots.

Posted by: fast freddy | Jan 23 2016 0:49 utc | 25


As well, I'm sure Putin knows it's a sin to tell a lie.

Posted by: jfl | Jan 23 2016 0:56 utc | 26

@25 fast freddy

And the ring that ties them all together is private finance backed by inheritance.

Inexorably, China will become dominant in finance and instead of the global plutocrats making "animal spirits" economic decisions, a communist committee will do so......and China has 99 year leases on property instead on ongoing ownership. Will it be better? I don't expect to live long enough for the transition to occur and have a glimpse of what else is possible. But, yes, I think anything would be better than this ecological dead-end we continue with.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jan 23 2016 1:05 utc | 27

Vollin @ 4:" but I have long believed that a major factor behind the oil price crash was US Saudi desire to hurt Russia and Iran."


Posted by: ben | Jan 23 2016 1:46 utc | 28

Speaking of propaganda, I just was skimming Reuters and all 3 commentary are about Russia and their view of its myriad problems.....not even worth linking looks like all the MSM editors got the memo to dump on Russia.

Some days I stop to think about where humanity could be if our energies were channeled in more positive directions.........

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jan 23 2016 2:45 utc | 29

@ 29: "it looks like all the MSM editors got the memo to dump on Russia."

The world of private finance and their minions, got their marching orders, and they will obey.

Posted by: ben | Jan 23 2016 3:04 utc | 30

@#7 Shadyl - good info regarding u.s. oil bankruptcies - found it mildly interesting, thanks!

Posted by: Au | Jan 23 2016 3:35 utc | 31

Demian at 5 --

The Nuland/Surkov meeting, as well as Gryzlov's visit to Kiev, has raised speculation of a deal.

Russia, it seems, would like to move towards a final resolution of the conflict in the Ukraine that would guaranty genuine autonomy within a reformed Ukraine for the Donbas. This has been their position from the first.

One supposes that they see the present parlous state of the Ukrainian economy and the dysfunction in the Ukrainian state and hope that they can persuade Washington and the IMF to lean on their client before the regime implodes. Is our singular superpower going to play ball? Will Poroshenko and the assorted fascists go along? I'd say no on both counts.

New Cold War has two items of note on the escalating difficulties in the Ukraine.

The first is a piece originally in Foreign Policy byTaras Kuzio, a son of the Ukrainian diaspora and former CIA/NATO asset (see his Wiki). It is naturally sympathetic to the aspirations of the Banderists, but he is realistic enough to see all is not well.

He begins by discussing the expectations raised and dashed by the "Revolution of Dignity" on the Maidan. The desired end to corruption is perhaps more distant now than two years ago, as Poroshenko has used the judiciary to punish enemies and protect friends. The economy has tanked. Poroshenko's popularity is below that of Yanukovich's before he was deposed.

Reforms on paper and the creation of new institutions will not satisfy Ukraine’s widespread hunger for justice, dignity, and humanity after the atrocities following the Euromaidan and the nation’s costly war with Russian-backed separatist proxies.... With massive disillusionment and radicalization growing, Ukrainian sociologist Iryna Bekeshkina has warned that Ukraine needs “radical transformations.” If these reforms do not happen, Poroshenko could be overthrown in a country that is now awash with weapons and more tolerant of political violence.

Bekeshkina's article is of interest as well. This extract is a blend and tweaking of machine translations from the Ukrainian cited by Kuzio and from the Russian version referenced in a link on the Ukrainian text.

It is important to note that today, sociologists have observed in the Ukrainian society two main processes: on the one hand, there is a massive increase of frustration, on the other, radicalisation of moods. Both of these trends are dangerous.

Frustration leads to inaction and radicalization, conversely, increases activity, but one that goes beyond the legal field. While in Ukraine, the free float is too many weapons, and the level of intolerance for violence has declined . And already we are seeing manifestations of these two processes -- there is occuring a different kind of power of excesses, shootings and other acts of violence.

To see such dangerous trends aren't turned into a disaster, the authorities should decide to carry out radical reforms. They simply have no choice, otherwise they [will be] demolished, and with it down the Ukraine can be torn down. Unfortunately.

Frankly, I don't see any real reforms happening, and wouldn't mind Banderastan torn down and something nice put up in its place.

In the second piece, M.K. Bhadrakumar discusses various appointments and diplomatic meetings. The appointments of Dmitri Kozak, a deputy prime minister and trouble-shooter, to be point man for the Donbas and especially of Boris Gryzlov as the new Russian delegate to the Trilateral Contact Group signal an increased importance for the problem. "Gryzlov is a political heavyweight... [whose] presence in the Trilateral Contact Group (which is entrusted with implementation of the Minsk Agreement) literally electrifies the body."

He discusses the recent meeting of Nuland and Putin aide Vladislav Surkov, a concrete manifestation of an attempted resolution.

The Russian press has been reporting lately that the Kremlin is trying to push the insurgent-held areas of Lugansk and Donetsk in Donbass to bring them back under Ukrainian control as autonomous entities (while Putin urges western capitals to simultaneously push Kiev to implement constitutional reform for breakaway regions to enjoy autonomy.) Surkov is identified with the Kremlin push to ‘de-escalate’ in eastern Ukraine.

Putin perhaps may be able to pressure the Donbas to return; certainly, it is not the preferred option in Novorossiya and a hard sell. I think the difficulties will lie in persuading Kiev.

Kyiv Post reproduced this little gem from the Washington Times, which reports that the Ukraine is pushing back against fiscally weak Russia. The hope is that, with IMF & EU backing, the destitute Ukrainians can regain not only the Donbas but the Crimea as well. The author is astute enough to know that "The Putin government will never relinquish control of this territory," referring to the Crimea, though he thinks it possible Kiev might get the Donbas back. Not me, though.

While the Contact Group was able to get a renewed ceasefire extended, progress on a political settlement looks meagre. While the details are behind a paywall, this Kyiv Post headline says that the Political subgroup fails to agree on Donbas elections in Minsk. Fortunately, other sources provide details.

Fort Russ has an item from the Russian press on the meeting between Biden and Poroshenko on the implementation of Minsk-2. As the article makes clear, Kiev is refusing to conduct negotiations over the elections and constitutional reforms providing autonomy specified by the accord. It notes that Poroshenko's press office highlighted the "US support for Ukrainian reforms and increased military-technical cooperation" and the intensification of these relations.

This report adds that Euro-diplomats sent by France and German failed to convince the Rada a to enact constitutional reforms on autonomy backed by the West. It also quotes Poroshenko as saying nothing positive was being put forward by Moscow.

The headline of this badly formatted article from Prensa Latina pretty much sums it up -- Poroshenko Breaches Minsk Agreements and Criticizes Little Advances .

Ivan Zadorozhny of Sputnik News considers what Poroshenko intends; I link to the NCW repost, as MoA has problems with Sputnik links. He sees the meeting Poroshenko had with Gryzlov in Kiev recently a sign a deal could be possible.

With their policy in the Ukraine a hot mess, the West is tiring of Poroshenkos erratic ways.

Poroshenko’s problem is that he is caught in a dilemma, faced as he is with various challenges to his political and perhaps even personal survival in Ukraine. The country’s economic collapse and political fragmentation continues unabated, and he seems to be unable to stop that. His most pressing task now is to end the war in the east with a minimal loss of face so he could claim some credit for his almost two years in office, and then proceed to declare a new start for Ukraine.

Poroshenko knows he will face nationalist fury if he tries to make peace with Donbass. For Ukrainian radicals, the only peace they could stomach is unconditional surrender by Donetsk and Lugansk. Even though he has been shoring up his defenses, Poroshenko is uncertain whether he would be able to take on the nationalist challenge, and in any event he wants to avoid a showdown for as long as possible.

Any future elections, Zadorozhny says, "are sure to roll back the Maidan onslaught...." This would leave Poroshenko vulnerable to a loss of power, assets, and possible criminal charges. "So Poroshenko is under pressure to act to secure his political future... [leaving him] little choice but to seek a deal with Russia...."

I'm inclined to see the recent maneuvering by both sides as tactical. Both the Russian Federation and the Banderists want to be seen as interested in peace. I think Moscow is a little more genuine; it is making serious, good-faith efforts. Poroshenko is acting in bad faith, putting on a shadow-puppet show. His public statements are all theatre, largely for Western consumption. The actual conduct of negotiations shows his intent. When the utter impossibility of Kiev implementing the Minsk-2 accord becomes clear to one and all, Putin will finally move on.

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 23 2016 3:37 utc | 32

psychohistorian@29 - TPTB are all butt-hurt that the Syrian government and Russia showed up at the Qamishli Airport to prep it for a northeastern Syrian cargo/fighter base. This complicates the U.S.-assisted theft of Syrian oil fields and discount oil sales/future pipeline to Turkey through the Qamishli-Nusaybin crossing. You see, God herself took Block 26 from the Syrian people and gave it directly to the USA (via SOCOM) to divvy up as they pleased (Gulfsands UK is out of the picture for now).

The U.S. has already decided that the oil revenue from the two large producing fields will be split between the Kurds and the ex-FSA Hasaka Arabs - as payment for services rendered for supplying cannon fodder to the SDF, the new anti-Assad proxy army in Syria. A portion of the revenues were still going to be begrudgingly sent to the Syrian people since they still own the field. Well, maybe. The 'other' ethnic minorities in northwest Syria (like the Druze) who didn't supply meat for the SDF were to get nothing.

Now all that's changed. It turns out Syria hasn't ceeded its northeast to the FSA or the Kurds, and Syria still considers it their sovereign territory. SOCOM will have a hard time explaining which 'government' allowed its SF guys to upgrade the crappy little Sweidiyah Oil Field airstrip (aka Rimelan/Rumelan air base). I don't think the FSA arabs or the Syrian Kurds are going to convince anyone in the Hauge about their mysterious U.S.-granted authority to seize Syrian national resources as their own, despite encouragement to do so by the U.S.

The current propaganda phase of Operation Carve Up Syria (at least for the northeast portion) is to continue demonizing Assad, Russia and the PKK, and glorify the unemployed Hasaka Arab FSA and the fake PYD Kurds that belong to the oilfield/energy occupation forces, aka Syrian Democratic Forces. Druze can safely be ignored, and hands-off Turkey as usual. In other words, everything is going according to plan.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Jan 23 2016 3:40 utc | 33

@33 PavewayIV

You have the facts that say everything is going according to plan in Syria and have provided quality commentary before which I respect. I only keep hoping that the jackboot of private finance, which I think is the keystone of our social problems, is turned into a public utility.

Seeing Amerikans flocking to Trump reinforces my opinion of the brainwashing power of TV and the MSM. I believe they have created a dangerous ignorance that may not be entirely under their control. Until and unless a global plutocrat gets killed I expect they are not worried about the lawlessness. They are able to hammer their view of history, reality and possible futures into the public consciousness until events can be constructed and manipulated to produce the desired results.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jan 23 2016 4:09 utc | 34

Abby Martin The Empire Files: Examining the Syria War Chessboard. How Obomo started regime change and 'Putin Asks Assad To Leave'.

Abby Martin interviews Dr. Vijay Prashad, professor of International Studies at Trinity College and author of several books.

The regime change in Syria is identical as former US Ambassador Robert Ford instigated the civil war back in 2011, just as Victoria Nuland did in Ukraine in 2014.


Posted by: Jack Smith | Jan 23 2016 4:09 utc | 35

Psychohistorian@34 - "...I believe they have created a dangerous ignorance that may not be entirely under their control..."

Dangerous ignorance is just the means to an end. They fully expect to lose control, at least in appearance. It's part of the evolution OF their control.

You need to look at it from the psychopath's long-game point of view. They are in a temporary struggle to cling to the control they have established or taken, but they know it simply won't last forever. They are not wedded to the current control mechanisms used - those methods are disposable but they do seek to eventually re-establish workable ones. While they exercise control today, they are simultaneously building their power base for the next generation of control - the control that will come post-chaos.

We tend to mistake a psychopath's methods as an end-state - a successful 'accomplishment' and framework they attempt to maintain in perpetuity. That might be true for many weaker psychopaths, but not for the movers and shakers.

I struggle to find an appropriate analogy - surfing probably comes closest. Little people float around wherever the currents and wind takes them. They don't like big waves. Psychopaths don't float about at the whim of the ocean, they surf it. When they're done riding one wave, they head right back out for the next big one. They don't fret about the big waves eventually breaking and crashing - they expect it, but obviously don't intend to be in them at that time. For the likes of you and I in our little life-rafts, well... we're not so fortunate.

A normal person has little desire to see society come unglued. The most powerful psychopaths look forward to it - it's a time of great opportunity. They don't need to cause it, they just need to nudge the appropriate lesser minions at the right time to push things over the edge. Maybe that's even too generous. They could sit back in their easy chair with a nice cigar and snifter of brandy today and just wait for the train to come off the rails.

For a long time, I honestly believed the really powerful psychopaths feared change because it implied loss of their control. The reason they are powerful psychopaths, however, is because they embrace change and just adapt their control mechanisms. They know I fear great changes in society because it may dictate whether my family and I eat for a few months and sleep with a roof over our heads - or not. For them, it simply means a different flavor of ice cream than the one they are use to. A minor inconvenience but an inevitable one. For many, it's a golden opportunity to amass more wealth and become more powerful.

Our mistake is assuming they have a vested interest in maintaining a stable, secure society (like us) when they have no such desire or expectations. Voting or otherwise empowering them will not fix anything in the U.S. - they don't care that the U.S. is broken and don't fear it's collapse or restructuring. That's only something for the little people to worry about. We're all just so much garbage to them.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Jan 23 2016 5:24 utc | 36

@33 PavewayIV
Well written but your conclusion contradicts your premise so how do you see this playing out? There's less then 70 clicks between both airfields..

Posted by: Lozion | Jan 23 2016 5:26 utc | 37

Centcom denial of US presence in NE Syria on PressTv:

Posted by: Lozion | Jan 23 2016 5:49 utc | 38

@36 PavewayIV

I consider myself at least to the level of pond scum....grin I hold hope in that there are few of them and still many "sane" humans who they haven't killed yet.......if us pond scum don't prevail in the next 10 years then I predict human extinction in 30-50 years.

End private finance, neuter inheritance and reduce ownership of property to 99 year lease. Make them the only planks for the next Occupy. Make it effective world wide.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jan 23 2016 6:10 utc | 39

Lozion@37 - I should have qualified those thoughts as CENTCOM/State Dept.'s delusional consideration that things are still going as planned, and that somehow we're still going to carve up Syria to our liking. That didn't hinge on the Block 26/Sweidiyah Oil Field airstrip by any means - that was only our last laughable failed attempt (until Russia effectively punched us in the face again). The propaganda spew continues as if this was only a minor setback and the American people can still be hoodwinked into seeing Russia as the problem, not the solution.

I'm sure the U.S. will continue building their little Block 26 guard post airbase for future schemes. By the way, the U.S. State Department has just denied 'taking control of any Syrian airfield' according to Al-Masdar News. The NYT reported that Dunford at the Pentagon was mum on the subject, but then tossed out this teaser without attribution: "...Another United States military official said, “Simply not true.”..." Well, who are we to question the NYT and the credibility of another military official's word?

The problem will come the first time the SAA forces seeking to retake northwest Syrian land or resources (maybe their oil fields?) are attacked by the SDF armed with U.S. weapons. At that point, Russia will crater the airstrip and the U.S. will pack up their toys and go somewhere else.

Maybe it will never get to that point, but we can assume the U.S. presence there is simply 'tolerated' by Syria and Russia for now. Maybe some secret deal with Assad - who knows. Maybe Assad simply chooses to not make an issue of it for now. It's no accident that Russia showed up just down the road at a developed airport with solid air defenses in order to establish a much larger base. Let's just say you're not going to see the U.S. allowed to gear up 'their' airstrip like that. Russia will let them unload supplies to the SDF as long as 1) it's only to the SDF and 2) Russia approves what the SDF is doing.

If the new CENTCOM guy, Votel, tries to roll out too much SF scheming out of their Block 26 airstrip, then they'll be shut down. Ideally, the U.S. would have loved permission to move in to the Qamishli Airport themselves. That would have been much more useful in fomenting a fake Rojava war of independence (Qamishli is more of a capital as it were to Rojava Kurds than Kobani). Since 'regime' forces have always held the airport, it's unlikely that U.S. 'regime-change' forces would have ever been given permission to use it.

Even if Russia does not move aircraft there, they can still use their powerful air defense radars to keep an eye on whatever the Americans are up to just down the road. And aside from any American airstrip, the Russians have a bone to pick with Turkey. I don't think Turkey will venture any more airstrikes or ground incursions to the area around Qamishli any time soon. An interesting byproduct of the Russian presence is that the YPG in Qamishli are less likely to attack the regime troops that still hold parts of the city there. A stabilizing impact that was probably the exact opposite of the usual anti-regime U.S. scheming.

I've really been trying to get Wladimir van Wilgenburg's take on the subject. He has written extensively on Kurds but tends to drift neoconish and strongly anti-Russian at times (Jamestown Kool-aid), but is an indispensable source for analysis. He focuses mostly on the extremely complex Iraqi Kurd situations but has discussed Rojava issues. Nothing I've seen of his directly on this supposed U.S. airbase besides mentions on Twitter. Curiously quiet about the mystery YPG in the SDF or the PYD's press-ganging of Qamishli Kurds into the SDF via the YPG.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Jan 23 2016 7:29 utc | 40

psychohistorian@39 - I'm perfectly happy to be pond scum myself. There seems little reason to worry about psychopaths - until you realize that they survive on a diet of pond scum. I have little desire to prevail over anybody. I just don't want to be part of their food chain.

"....if us pond scum don't prevail in the next 10 years then I predict human extinction in 30-50 years..."

Seems like, but then people have been making this prediction for the last four thousand years or so. Our DNA is wired for us to exist as healthy individuals in equally healthy societies. Psychopathy is anti-survival. If we were wired to be food for psychopaths, we would have been gone a long time ago. But, yeah... sometimes you have to wonder...

Posted by: PavewayIV | Jan 23 2016 8:10 utc | 41

re Mina. Is that not a standard US complaint - "we want others to carry the load and risk for our policies"? This time the complaint is addressed to the Arabs, but normally it's the Europeans, or other allies, who are seen as being laggards.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jan 23 2016 10:14 utc | 43

Vollin at 4. This is pure speculation, but I have long believed that a major factor behind the oil price crash was US Saudi desire to hurt Russia and Iran.

I have to respond to this. No.

Another common idea is that OPEC (KSA) ‘crashed the oil price’ to kill the US fracking industry. That has more or less happened (or is going on) but not due to KSA attacking (undermining, etc.) US competitors (their protector and ally.)

NO. KSA lives off its oil revenues and anything that would damage income is dire, dire. (See their budget problems now, all the articles about KSA on the ropes, all make good points, etc.) KSA may be set against Iran - but not against Russia. Or whatever.… Iran doesn’t care about the low price in any case.

No way KSA would shoot itself in the foot (and body) for such considerations.

Anyone interested in low oil prices should take into account, and be able to address:

— The question is not why oil prices are now ‘low’ (they are close to much of the historical past, look it up), but why they went high suddenly, previous, and then returned to the ‘norm’?

— All commodities have crashed into the pits, oil is just one of them. Copper, aluminum, steel, coal, iron ore, uranium, palladium, etc. Many of them have crashed *further down* than oil.

Various ‘economic expert’ explanations are on offer. Can’t claim to give any cogent overview or a definitive pov, but see for ex.


Glencore for ex. is in deep serious trouble..some say about to go bust (doubt it but struggling for sure.)

Posted by: Noirette | Jan 23 2016 15:00 utc | 44

Kyiv Post reproduced this little gem from the Washington Times... The author is astute enough to know that "The Putin government will never relinquish control of this territory," referring to the Crimea, though he thinks it possible Kiev might get the Donbas back.

The simple fact that the Kiev Post is working with the Washington Times shows the level to which international fascism has taken control of the country.

Those who can write about the Donbas as if it is a square on the chessboard show their basic fundamental misunderstanding of not just the situation in the Donbas, but of human nature in general. The same sort of thinking that the Nazis engaged in when they figured they'd roll over the Red Army in the course of a few months. The people of the Donbas were attacked, they're now organized. With Russian support or not, they are in command of their own destiny now - at least to the extent that they can refuse to simply be absorbed by their enemies

The Ukraine government has shown it can't even field regular units against the two people's republics. It has to rely on ideologically motivated gangs - the source from which they are drawn is not larger than the population of the Donbas. In other words, the Ukrainian fascists don't have the manpower to impose their will on them, and probably not the resources either.

I think its woefully under-reported the level of resistance in the rest of Ukraine as well. The people there who are against the government for whatever reason (anti-fascist, pro-peace, anti-oligarch, anti-NATO, anti-IMF, whatever...) are facing severe repression along the lines of the 1970s South American experience. The fact that they still put on protests and marches is an example of bravery as amazing as anything ever seen. My point is, aside from far Western Ukraine, these forces would also be able to challenge the government if the moment presented itself - the Nazis know this, which is why they repeatedly demonstrate their power in the most anti-junta regions that still remain within Ukraine proper. The Nazis power is so tenuous that they even have to assault neutral international observers - as they did with the Greek delegation (last summer?).

The real question for Ukraine is wether or not the West has the stomach (considering those in control) and the resources (at a time of economic crisis) to do in Ukraine what was done in Poland in the immediate post-Cold War period, ie, pump it full of exorbient amounts of cash and investment (it took $350 billion to make Poland the right-wing "new European" power it is today). Ukraine would be far more costly - because it is far more underdeveloped, far larger, and the political risks are much graver. For this EU, busy trying to drain whatever they can out of puny Greece and Portugal, to go and plow the needed funds into Ukraine would be a huge, huge hit for them - largely for the opportunity to create a country which will only further dilute their power inside the EU. Its a policy that only serves American interests - not that the EU has ever balked at the chance to shoot themselves in the foot if the show put a brief smile on the face of the USA.

Posted by: guest77 | Jan 23 2016 15:32 utc | 45

Addendum to 44. KSA did not create low oil prices but reacted in a panic, i.e. it is just the other way about.

Natch various KSA Royals internal jockeying and fights broil on, family history etc. — desperate moves to hold on to their medieval oligarchy and Royal privileges, some trying to prevail over others, get more power a bigger slice of the pie, etc.

This began when the oil price started to sag.. as ‘austerity’ would kick in, affecting both their revenues (power) and the stipends they could ‘hand out free’ to the people, to keep them in order, sinking, to less, much less. A serious threat to holding the country together. The response was ..bombing Yemen.

here a hyper simple chart of historical Brent oil prices, note the volatitlity

Posted by: Noirette | Jan 23 2016 15:38 utc | 46

@44 interesting articles, thanks Noirette.

Clearly what's happening in China is a big deal, though I have the theory that at least there the government is willing to do what is necessary to buffet the winds of the market storm. This in contrast to the West, where as soon as markets falter, the rich take what they can and rush to hide their cash-filled bunkers, screaming "communism!" about any moves that might prevent their speculative storm from washing away the rest of the economy.

Well, China, being communist, shouldn't have any issue doing some communist things when they need to be done for the sake of their economy. Though they may well use this opportunity to put the squeeze on the West - a West prevented by "freedom" (for speculators and the super rich) from acting in its common defense.

Posted by: guest77 | Jan 23 2016 15:48 utc | 47

Meanwhile, speaking of "liberated" Poland: Poles protest plan for new surveillance law

People took to the streets of Warsaw Saturday protesting against the Polish government’s planned changes to a law that would increase surveillance over citizens.

Thousands of Poles marched in the capital city urging the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) to withdraw the reform plan.

"You're supposed to listen, not listen in," read one of the banners carried by demonstrators.

The proposal, which has not been signed yet, expands the government's access to digital data and loosens the legal framework of using surveillance in law enforcement.

Critics of the law say it will undermine privacy rights.

Posted by: guest77 | Jan 23 2016 16:02 utc | 48

g77 at 45 --

On your point about resistance, Fort Russ has this item about a demo in Kiev held by the Communist and Progressive Socialist parties. It points to the difficulties of open resistance.

Folks may recall that Soviet symbols, discussion of "separatism," and socialist ideology have been banned by our Maidan activists in keeping with their "European values." One then must resort to allusions and inferences.

So what is the demo commemorating? The meeting in 1654 of the Pereslavl' Rada "proclaimed the act of unification of Russia and Ukraine, two branches of a single Russian people." At that time, the Dniepr cossacks had rebelled and sought to throw off the rule of the Kingdom of Poland-Lithuania, and the union allowed them to defend themselves.

I would disagree that the Ukraine is less developed than Poland -- it has notable industries and culture. But that it is an economic basket case is a cold, hard fact, and that it would take serious coin to stabilize it is obvious.

In a rational world, DC would cut its losses. But we're the singular superpower, and imperial logic does not deign to recognize realities, it feels it can create them.

A few hundred million USD to bail out homeowners back in 2008 -- nah, we'll pour even more into the sewers around Wall St. Can't stabilize Iraq? No problem, on to Libya and Syria.

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 23 2016 17:37 utc | 49

Well, looks like I've made the majors. Feature status, too! He said, modestly.

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 23 2016 22:39 utc | 50

@44 @46 noirette

Yes, it seems that the collapse of commidity prices is across the board, due to the collapse of global economy. But why then, do the Saudis not throttle production? Get the price trending up, keep it from further eroding at least. Because they desperately need cash to pursue their war against ... Yemen? To buy more US arms? OK, because they desperately need cash to keep their own wolfpack at bay. But OPEC was founded to prevent this sort of thing and has a history of preventing it, doesn't it? It's all because of the the King's dopey son who's just doing what seems like a good idea at the time? Is he getting advice from the usual suspects?

Elsewhere, the non-glut despite copious production has been noted, and consumption is picking up - are the middlemen squirreling it away for 'next time'? The forecast (Goldamn Sachs) is for the recovery of prices closer to what producers consider the 'norm' ... $40/bbl ... 'around July'. Makes sense to buy more than you need now at $20-30 now, doesn't it?

Posted by: jfl | Jan 24 2016 0:50 utc | 51

@50-way to go rufus! Nice work.

Posted by: Nana2007 | Jan 24 2016 1:50 utc | 52

From where I sit the hydrocarbon exploiting corporations have done exceptionally well outta the fluctuations in oil prices.
It helps to keep two pricing streams quite separate to see exactly how the energy companies have pulled this off. It also helps to acknowledge that we are studying entities who, free of any regulatory controls are engaging in extreme short termism to make as much money as they can - fuck the environment and then move all the acquired capital into something equally essential and manipulative when hydrocarbon exploitation becomes too hard to get gangbusting returns from.

A bbl of crude currently costs about what it did it did back in 1990 before gulf war one Jun 1990's price was USD $30.72 and the Jan 2016 price is USD $32.19.

Let's look at the retail price for the gas/petrol. I'm gonna use Aotearoa prices here so I include the NZD/USD exchange rate . The kiwi bought 60 cents US in 1990 and is currently at about $0.66 USD which would favour a cheaper price for gas now than 1990.
Is that the case? haha no. Gas was NZ 65 cents a litre back in 1990 in NZ, and it currently sits around or just under $2.00 NZD now.
But costs have changed in that time haven't they? Yep they surely have in that time oil corporations have shed more than 50% of their workforce, corporate taxes have decreased and real wages have fallen by 32%.
At the same time the retail chain has been 'rationalised' independent retailers have been pushed out and the oil industry retail business has been 'vertically integrated' so the same mob who import gas & refine it also sell it at the pump. Retail outlets are larger more 'efficient' and have a fraction of the staff. They used to be called service stations in Aotearoa once but now even old ladies have to pump their own petrol.

The increase in prices allowed energy companies to squeeze the market creating monopolies and then they used high prices to throw one or two cents a litre onto the retail margins when no one was looking. Mostly this one done via crude fluctuations. When costs went up corporations passed on the full costs plus a bit, when the prices fell the full reduction wasn't returned to the buyer. Plus all the other scams rises took effect immediately but drops didn't occur until new stocks at the lower price arrived. You know the bullshit "we signed up a contract at the higher price so can't pass it on until the contract expires " or " Well we have to charge the replacement cost so if a barrel of oil costs more we have to charge more immediately to keep proper inventory control" etc etc.

Our neoliberal govts have done nothing to stop this so we've been ripped blind until oil corporations had to force crude prices down because they were concerned about market share being permanently lost to alternative energy sources which their greed had made financially economic.

Of course the other sources are still far more economic in the true sense of the word but we live in a world where only dollar costs are considered real by the assholes in charge.
I'm sure anyone who looks at the historical data in their own retail energy market will discover exactly the same scam.

KSA may not have deliberately forced prices down but I believe they have been complacent and foolish by allowing the situation to continue.

They are acting in the best interest of the global elite not the best interest of their own citizens that is if they even really have any say in this something I highly doubt. Check out the el-saud mob - if you were a gazillionaire would you trust them with anything? - they're all inbred intellectually challenged weaklings.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jan 24 2016 2:11 utc | 53

@45 guest

It certainly seems not to be in the cards for the US/EU to clean up after itself in, let alone strengthen, the Ukraine. But I cannot imagine a federation including Donbass, or some other regions, of the old Ukraine either, unless its a federation in name only. I suppose anything woud be better than the current situation. If Kiev's aggression could just be ended Donbass and the other regions could begin to recover ...

But surely they would all have to remain armed, looking over their shoulders, ever ready to resist renewed aggression from Kiev, whenever the US/EU felt it was time to give the signal. It's hard to imagine a real solution to Ukraine that doesn't involve a struggle with western Ukraine and a purge of the US/EU's creatures there. Same with Russia, actually.

Posted by: jfl | Jan 24 2016 2:27 utc | 54

Hating American Agression I Hope:
1. All Americans freeze to death;
2. If not, and Hitlary-Trump, they choose Trump.

Posted by: From The Hague | Jan 24 2016 3:05 utc | 55

Hating American Agression I Hope:
1. All Americans freeze to death;
2. If not, and Hitlary-Trump, they choose Trump.

Posted by: From The Hague

I understand the sentiment, but not all of us are blood thirsty capitalists. Some of us, want to live, and let live...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 24 2016 4:36 utc | 56

rufus magister @49 "I would disagree that the Ukraine is less developed than Poland -- it has notable industries and culture. But that it is an economic basket case is a cold, hard fact, and that it would take serious coin to stabilize it is obvious."

I guess that this was true at the time of the collapse of Soviet Union. Since then, Poland had mostly steady, if unimpressive growth, and Ukraine had short period of that, but mostly it was decline. Poland does not have "oligarch" phenomenon, and the political culture is healthier. Corruption is there, but does not "go out of bounds". Poles are split into two major camps that are called by the other "ignorants" (Ciemnogrod) and "liberals, cheaters, traitors etc.", roughly "cosmopolitans", but comparatively, this is not a sharp division. Ukrainians are split into "fascists, banderovtsy" and "commies, Moskals", and the "patriotic" side itself has complex splits. Corruption is definitely "out of bounds", and the political culture is total mess. On the plus side, Ukrainian folk culture is clearly superior.

It is instructive to compare three countries. Poland took the "Western route", Belarus "Eastern", and Ukraine, a mess that was neither.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jan 24 2016 14:22 utc | 57

PB at 56 --

I would agree. Poland got showered with money, Solidarnosc/JP II nostalgia, big market next to Germany, large Polish diaspora in the West to lead the cheering section. As you say, the Ukraine was neither fish nor fowl nor good red meat.

It was only in the former Union that there was the real problem of oligarchs. This is related to the privatization scheme set up by the West -- rapid changes of ownership, for cash. That meant the mafiya and and aggressive insiders like Berezhovsky picked up the fruits of the sacrifices of the Soviet people for a song.

In Eastern Europe, if memory serves, the process was more orderly, more of the population got a stake via investment funds. Such schemes existed in Russia, but the failure to pay wages and the confiscatory currency re-issues left the population cash poor. They sold their vouchers to survive.

I think that the whole process in Russia was designed to cause maximum disruption, in order to cripple the economy and population's will to resist.

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 24 2016 15:29 utc | 58

jfl @ 51. I have no idea why KSA is not ‘acting rationally’, except for, a) they don’t control the oil price and feel victimized by it, b) US support has eroded seriously, as was discussed previous, with many links. Both lead to a kind of ‘major’ destabilization.

The curse of black gold: KSA had and still has ‘patrons’ and ‘allies’ but counting on such as USA and Israel is always iffy, secondly, sending the patronage down to the population is also a shaky move that perhaps cannot be kept up, or may backfire.

While the oil price was high KSA could invest in and pretend to be a a ‘modernising’ country - opening up Unis, claiming to ‘diversify’ its economy, creating more jobs for Saudis and kicking out slave labor, opening up politics to women, etc. All for image, PR, and they spent money on various schemes for that purpose to appear huggable (and probably got taken), these moves were cosmetic. Now they find themselves in open and maybe hostile bargaining position, no longer smooth kisses and hand holding from Bush Junior, instead: buy arms as tribute or else.

Posted by: Noirette | Jan 24 2016 15:38 utc | 59

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jan 23, 2016 9:11:33 PM | 53

Yesterday I got 12 kiwis for 4 USD, these fruit are rich in vitamins C and K, and I eat one or two per day (technically, they are chinese gooseberries grown in Italy).

Concerning the price of gasoline in NZ, the spot price is 25c/l in Houston, 28.5c/l in Los Angeles, so perhaps 30-35c/l in Auckland. The price at the pump has some markup, but at least 75% are taxes that encourage NZ residents to use gasoline sparingly and allow to balance the budget with smaller income taxes. My guess is that those taxes are a larger share of NZ government budget than in 1990. Consumption taxes hit the poor more than the rich: a Bentley uses at most 5 times more gasoline than an econobox driven by a hundred times poorer person. But there are two defenses: one is that the drivers of the econoboxes get more services from the government, second is that this is a Pigovian tax, designed to improve your behavior. Above all, all kinds of health indicators show that it is not healthy to be poor, so a Pigovian tax would discourage that.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jan 24 2016 16:26 utc | 60

@59 noirette 'they don’t control the oil price and feel victimized by it'

I admit that I've never considered the Saudis as victims before. The ordinary people who live in Saudi Arabia, sure. We're all poor humans, just suffering as much as we can, I guess. Sure they don't control the price of oil, they just collect the cash. But creating scarcity is capitalism 101, and they seemed to have passed the course back in OPEC.

But you make them sound so helpless. I suppose it's possible. Inbreeding and too much of nothing for too long. Certainly the USA was never their friend. Only interests, no friends.

I suppose the US does think it's still in control in the Middle East. Certainly they need the cash return on weapons now when the 'traders' run up the price of oil. Weapons and financial 'services' are all they have left to sell.

Collecting the cash coming and going must be appealing, eh? I've been imagining the Saudis as being set-up for the fall by USrael for sometime now. With all war all the time in the Middle East - maybe no one will notice? 'If' they do - whadda they gonna do about it? Can't lose the arms market to the Russians. Think that's the case? or just my imagination.

Posted by: jfl | Jan 25 2016 0:23 utc | 61

Nana2007 at 52 --

I nearly forgot to say thanks, very kind of you to say so.

Posted by: rufus magister | Jan 25 2016 2:40 utc | 62

PB @ #60 It is true that the NZ govt charges an excise on gasoline/petrol the details are here the excise portion of 1 litre in NZ is $0.671 NZD/litre which is about 20 cents/litre more than was charged Pre 1990) the introduction of gst plus the introduction of a 'road tax' to cover the cost of infrastructure construction and maintenence reduced the red tape and paperwork associated with a swathe of complex govt taxes and charges.

I didn't go into that because that variable isn't consistent about the planet, however the increase in retail prices charged by the energy corporations cannot be attributed to that relatively small increase particularly considering the reduction in overheads which the industry has enjoyed since 1990.

The easiest observable example of this is the drop in the number of gas stations. Where once gas stations staffed by pump jockeys, cashiers and engineers, were dotted about the countryside, retail outlets have decreased by more than 50% & most stations have one or no more than two cashiers on duty and little else in the way of staff. No pump jockey and certainly no automotive engineer ready to assist motorists.

Energy corporations have the rest of humanity by the balls, and they are squeezing hard. Still it only costs me twice what it should for gas which is nothing compared to the millions of ME citizens who have been raped & murdered since 1990 just to further the profits of the rapacious sociopaths in Exxon, Shell & BP each of which gross around $US 400 billion per year in revenues.

Citizens of developed nations are starting to notice the cost, in the form of arrivals of a minority of the 10's of millions of humans deliberately displaced by the oil wars, but I have no doubt most will take the line of least resistance and believe the media blather which seeks to blame anyone/everyone (particularly the victims) ahead of those actually responsible for the horror show.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jan 25 2016 7:36 utc | 63

Posted by: Noirette | Jan 23, 2016 10:00:23 AM | 44

The power of the Saudi oil cartel to control price broke down. US shale sure played a huge role. Cost free credit - nill production price - sure too.
China is Saudi's main customer now. The United States come a close second but they don't depend on it - nor does China.

Saudi Arabia’s position in the oil market is becoming desperate, according to some analysts, but the de facto head of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), a group that controls 80 per cent of the world’s proven oil reserves, is yet to budge.

In April, Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali Al Naimi reportedly said he expected crude prices to rise in the “near future.” Global benchmark Brent crude has fallen nearly 23 per cent since Al Naimi’s comments to $43.54 a barrel as of 2pm local time on Tuesday.

In March, Saudi Arabia offered record discounts to Asian markets, seeking to cling onto market share. But the longer Saudi Arabia continues to play the long game and wait for oil prices to rebound, it may give room for China to leverage its position.

“It’s [China] becoming a less important market in terms of volume but it’s a very important market in terms of huge growth and demand,” Dugan said.

“The Chinese may try to play it is to say ‘well Saudi Arabia if you want a five-year contract to supply us it has to be in this new currency. If you just want to play in the spot market you can have your dollars but that’s just in the month to month’,” he said.

The lifting of western sanctions against Iran, which will allow the country to sell more oil and to new markets will also place further pressure on Saudi Arabia. “Iran in the past has been one of those countries happy to accept Chinese currency,” Dugan said.

Loss of economic power equals loss of political power. Saudi will be confronted more and more with impossible demands like this

Rubaie: The onus is on the Saudi royal family to deprive the Wahhabi religious establishment in Saudi Arabia of money, power, and status. ... Rubaie: I think [the United States] should concentrate and focus on the ideological challenge and apply pressure on the Saudi royal family to stop the oxygen, which is the dollar.

The Saudi royal family should stop funding the Saudi religious establishment and stop them from spreading this virulent virus around the world. They have spent billions and billions and billions of dollars over the last twenty or thirty years to spread it. Now they have to spend a similar amount or even more to rectify it.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 25 2016 9:35 utc | 64

@64 sb 'The Chinese may try to play it is to say ‘well Saudi Arabia if you want a five-year contract to supply us it has to be in this new currency.'

Do you think that Xi actually said that in Riyadh? Cracking the $US monopoly would even up China with Russia in terms of helping out in the ME. I imagine the Iranians will take payment in yuan, if they don't already, they take rupees from India. And I see Iran is on the fast track for membership in the SCO. If the Saudis applied they could save a lot of money buying Russian arms in rubles. Or yuan?

Very interesting, thanks. I hadn't been paying enough attention. I hadn't realized how much oil the US had been exporting. That's 'the cowboys', though, right? Who have not got a stick to beat Obama with like the 'majors'? They do owe the 'financiers' a ton though, don't they? If something doesn't turn up real soon, they set the whole domino chain toppling all over again. That's probably the reason Goldamn is talking an upturn in the price of oil? Maybe it's just a play on futures, get the clients to go long and then sell them short, to hedge their losses.

I just read today that Obama still 'approves' of Saudi aggression in Yemen. After Obama, will any decent person accept a Nobel Peace Prize in the future? I guess the Norwegian Nobel Committee will have a hard time choosing among Salman, Erdogan, and Netanyahu.

I have to admit that this seems all to be devolving to a game to me. All these bastard gamers have to lose is money.

Posted by: jfl | Jan 25 2016 11:04 utc | 65

Posted by: jfl | Jan 25, 2016 6:04:37 AM | 65

That Nobel peace prize ... for peace you have to make war, right?

Alfred Nobel - the inventor of dynamite :-))

Posted by: somebody | Jan 25 2016 11:26 utc | 66

I'm wracking my brain at the moment, trying to figure out what sort of person could get out of bed every morning, and go to work at a place called "The Blair Foundation".

Posted by: DM | Jan 25 2016 20:30 utc | 67

Currency Counting Machine, Note Counting Machine, Fake Note Detector Machine, Paper Shredder Machine, Value Counter Machine

Posted by: Rabbit Automation | Feb 19 2016 8:48 utc | 68

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