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Friday, July 31, 2015

Iran Sanctions and the Entangling Alliances of the Gas Wars:

Article by Michael Anderson.

If you want to find the culprit, follow the money. We've all heard that. Likewise, if you want to know where the next war will be, follow the pipeline plans. When it comes to large engineering projects, plans always change, even from day to day, at times. In such a relationship, it only seems logical that as plans suffer major changes, so must the wars. After all, major wars are about conquering the areas where the oil is located and minor battles are about clearing out the population that happens to be blocking the pipeline route. Wars are Never started by aggrieved parties who just want “justice” They are always started by the state to establish or enhance monopolies while using some fake grievance as the official reason. Today, oil and gas are the one most closely associated resources related to acts of war.

It can be quite confusing to follow who is “our” enemy and who is “our” ally on any given day. Just yesterday I saw that the US had given Turkey permission to bomb the Kurdish fighters who are fighting ISIS.  Among the Kurdish fighters there are Americans who decided, out of their own ignorance as to the origin of ISIS (Saudi Arabia and the US), to fight ISIS.  Americans join the poor Kurds (who's gassing was one of the excuses for the first gulf war) to fight ISIS, who makes fake threats of attacking the “homeland”. Then America agrees to the bombing of those Kurds aided by independent American fighters. 

For over a decade, now, we have been bombarded with propaganda about Iran obtaining a nuke. It was the event that woke me up to how the world really worked. The claims were so crazy that I couldn't take the cognitive dissonance any longer and that was when I was a republican. Fortunately for the whole world, the NIE discovered in 2007 that there were no nukes or preparation for nukes and Washington lost their narrative for a “justified” pre-emptive war. The old fable of Iran getting nukes persists among the neo-cons and their mindless parrots. Unfortunately, Iran has been held under sanction for years under the excuse that they are seeking nukes, even with the proof that they were not and are not. Nor is Iran a nation with a trend of attacking anyone. In fact, the last time they attacked anyone was in 1798. Whereas the US can't go six months without finding a new “enemy” to attack, often backed by Israel, and Saudi Arabia or initiated by Israel and Saudi Arabia. 

According to John Perkins, in his book 'Confessions of an Economic Hit Man', part of his job was to make sure lucrative projects were awarded to US corporations. He also writes about the relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia. After Saudi's oil embargos against the US, the US treasury had been employed in a deal with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia would provide cheap and plentiful oil to the US and promise not to embargo the US again and in return, the US Treasury would provide the money to turn Saudi Arabia into a rich first world country and would supply the US military to fight Saudi Arabia's petrol-wars. 

In the past few years, the wars have turned to gas. Several major gas lines have been proposed. Some were abandoned for better ones and some have already gone into operation. Natural gas has long been in short supply in Europe and since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has been Europe's savior in this area by leading the charge to get gas to Europe. But others want that business and are willing to destroy Russia's allies to get the gas line routes.

 Fig 1: Petroleum map of Iran and surrounding area.

One proposed pipeline was the Nabucco line that would go from Azerbaijan, through Turkey and into Europe, as shown below. As the reader can see, One of the feed lines originates in Iran and the other in Azerbaijan (see fig 2). The Gas would have been supplied by the Shah Deniz Gas Field in the Caspian sea on the north side of Iran and operated by BP

The plan for the Nabucco line was developed in 2002 (hmmm) and abandoned in 2013 after Iran, Iraq and finally Azerbaijan dropped out as potential suppliers. The Nabucco plan was beat out by a competing plan, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) which will supply gas from the same, Shah Deniz, gas field. But even that will supply only about one percent of Europe's demand.

Syria in the Way
In August of 2013, right after the Nabucco line was abandoned, Saudi backed rebels launched poison gas canisters in Damascus, Syria. The attack was blamed on Assad and the US claimed to have taped the events. However the US never released its “proof” that Assad was to blame. Latter, video of Rebels launching gas canisters surfaced and spread around Youtube and on August 30, 2013  Dale Gavlak of the AP reported that the rebels detonated chemical weapons by accident, not knowing what they were and having been supplied with them by Saudi Arabia and while having been on the payroll of Saudi Arabia. Apparently the rebels were supposed to deliver them to Al-Quaeda offshoot Jahab Al-Nusra but they exploded in a tunnel, killing a dozen rebels. John Kerry tried his hardest to get the world to believe Assad did it. But Why? It is not commonly known that Obama had vetoed a Franco-Saudi plan to outright Assassinate Assad in 2012 by using US carrier based warplanes to bombard Damascus for 12 hours, then raid the palace and kill Assad and his family. The Obama administration was “concerned” about the carnage it would inflict on the population. Was that out of a moral concern or a concern of appearance? Obviously they were concerned about appearance since the US State Dept worked so hard to get the world to believe Assad carried out the later chemical attack to justify the very same military action that was proposed the previous year by Saudi Arabia. 

But why all this effort to oust Assad? Because Syria has been an ally and gas production partner of Russia and Russia provides most of the gas to the EU. But Saudi Arabia, Qatar and even Israel want that business.  The Al-Quada associated rebels in Syria, who were fighting Assad (now ISIS), are backed by Saudi Arabia, the US and Qatar. Qatar has proposed the Qatar-Turkey line which would transit through Saudi Arabia. Gas for the Qatar-Turkey line would be sourced from the North Dome/South Pars Gas field in the Persian Gulf, right off the coast of Qatar and it happens to be the largest gas field in the world, yet found, containing an estimated 51 trillion cubic meters (tcm) of gas. It is split between Qatar and Iranian territories. The South Pars portion is actually on the north side, but lies in the southern territory of Iran, hence, the confusing names. Refer to the red area on fig 1.  The agreement for the new gas line going from Qatar, through Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey was agreed upon on June 25th, 2011. But only Syria stood in the way and Assad did not want to agree because he did not want to hurt Russia's share in the region. In 2011, Syrian geologists had discovered a gas field near the Mediterranean port of Tartus, and near Homs, Syria, an area also leased by the Russians. If developed by Syria and Russia, this field could also supply gas to Europe. Gazprom owns and operates production and distribution facilities in Syria. Those very expensive Russian facilities have been under threat by ISIS since the conflict started, and, in May, 2015, ISIS blew up a gas line supplying the Gazprom facility in Furqlus, part of the Homs area. This “mega”-field is now in the hands of ISIS, Saudi Arabia's proxy army backed by the US. The Chinese have had claim to some of the wells in this discovery, also, but they are not in production yet. So, of course, China is sided with Russia. ISIS is an attempt to take over the middle east for Saudi Arabia.

Iran: A New Opportunity.
A competitor to the Qatar-Turkey line is the Iran-Iraq-Syria Line that will take gas from the South Pars field, and send it through a new Iranian trunk line called the IGAT-6. From there, it will travel north, through Iran, supply Iraq and then through Syria and then on to Europe. A similar line had been in the works until 2010 when US Sanctions forced Swiss partner Elektrizitätsgesellschaft Laufenburg to back out. Until the discovery and development of the South Pars field, Iran was actually a net importer of LNG. The agreements for building the IGAT-6 line were signed on July 15, 2015 with the Iranian Government covering 75 percent of the 2.3 billion dollar cost. This just happens to be the day after Obama lifted sanctions on Iran, on July 14, 2015, an action backed by the UN. Key to this story is also the fact that Shell Oil owes 2.3 billion dollars to Iran and that in June, 2015, Shell executives were in Tehran having talks and now, Iran will soon have the largest floating LNG terminal in the world. With sanctions lifted, Iran will no longer be limited to exporting gas only to Turkey and Armenia, but also to Iraq, Which is part of the IGAT-6 plan, and on to Europe. New export agreements for the Iranian gas are to made in the near future. Since the Qatar-Iran-Iraq line is stalled, due to the conflict in Syria, Iran appears to be a much brighter prospect to getting gas to Iraq and Europe at some point in the future. Shipment of Iranian gas to Iraq will begin in a few weeks with a 25 year contract. In addition to gas exports, Iran hopes to start exporting metals and automobiles to Europe and Iran's Deputy Economy Minister Mohammad Khazaei stated that they have already completed negotiations with some European companies wanting to invest in Iran.

Pakistan and China?
According to an agreement made between Iran and Pakistan in 2012, a new contract was signed to ship Iranian gas to Pakistan. According to the terms of the agreement, Pakistan was to be ready to receive the gas in the end of 2014 with a one million dollar per day penalty if the deadline was not met. But sanctions on Iran have prevented Pakistan from completing its part of the project. Recently, however, Pakistan has entered into a 46 billion dollar project to ship gas to China to reduce China's dependence on the Straight of Malacca for energy imports. (http://civilnet.am/2015/07/26/lifting-of-sanctions-to-boost-iranian-gas-exports-petrostrategies/#.VbkGdLaVs8o

Russian Competition.
In 2011 Russia began the Nord Stream line that provides gas to Europe, via  pipes under the Baltic Sea. Discussion for the Nord Stream line began in 1997 and it was laid between May of 2010 and November of 2011. The EU has long been a net importer of gas. Even in 1997, the EU demand for gas was 439 bcm but its production was only 245 bcm. Connecting Europe to Russian gas supplies has long been seen as a solution to Europe's gas shortage, considering that Russia has almost as much gas (44,600 bcm reserves in 2012) as the middle east. The Nord Stream line allows Russia to divert some of the gas that would have gone through Ukraine and Belarus resulting in an annual loss of $700 million, worth of transit fees, for Ukraine. Most of the Russian gas will still be transiting through Ukraine, however. It is also important to note some of the late propaganda we have received about Lithuania's need for Nato troops to protect them from an “uptick” in military activity in the form of Russian troops and Russian planes flying over, some with transponders turned off. Take a look at the map in fig 3. Do you see that little pink spot between Lithuania and Poland? That is the Russian Oblast Kaliningrad. It Holds a large Russian Naval base and has since WWII. It is the only port in the Baltic that remains Ice-free year round and, thus, is an important port to maintain the Russian fleet and presumably to maintain the Nord Stream line. Of course there are Russian military aircraft flying over. It's an old Russian base. Considering the tensions that have brewed, I might turn my transponder off, too, if I were a Russian pilot flying over the area. Oh, for us Anarcho-Capitalists, it has been a Russian Economic Free Zone since 1991. There is no military buildup against Lithuania. The Russians have always been there.

In December of 2012, Russia also began work on the South Stream project which will send Russian gas under the Black Sea and through the Balkans and into Austria and Italy. The South Stream project is projected to be complete in 2018 (fig 4). Even if the Middle East pipelines like Nabucco had been built, they would not be able to compete with the amount of gas that Russia can supply through the South Stream line. Not even the new Iranian line can. The gas provided through IGAT-6 could only supply half of what the Russian South stream line can and as of now, IGAT-6 is only going as far as Iraq and Turkey. Europe needs Russia or it freezes.

Lately the neo-cons have been enraged (or at least they pretend to be to stir up the political fervor among their flocks of war-pigs) by Obama's lifting of sanctions on Iran. “Obama is putting Iran on the glideslope to a nuclear bomb” says Chris Christie. According to Ted Cruz, Iran could set off an EMP over New York. Neo-cons are claiming Obama is allowing Iran to fund terrorism and other forms of nonsensical fear mongering for the war-hungry. The US, under Obama, the Bush's, Clinton and Reagan has been funding, training and supplying various terrorist groups throughout the world for decades. The neo-con mystics are even claiming that their crossword puzzle, called the Torah Code, is predicting an imminent nuke attack by Iran and therefore Israel must nuke Iran first. Obama may be a tyrant in a whole lot of ways but lets be honest. He didn't lift sanctions on Iran because he is a Muslim terrorist in presidential drag. He lifted sanctions because Iran now has a market advantage against Saudi Arabia. Sanctions on Iran have not been recently supported by Saudi Arabia, only because Saudi Arabia demands a more “decisive action” by the US against Iran and Syria and Saudi Arabia now officially supports the lifting of sanctions. Sanctions have only put the US in the middle of tribal wars between sects of the same religion. 

America's wars are the result of interventionist policy. By exposing the US to the tribal resource wars  of the region in entangling alliances.  ISIS was a creation of Saudi Arabia and allies to take middle-east gas fields and since the US had long ago promised to give military aid to Saudi Arabia, the US made itself a partner in a major terror campaign to simply steal resources. Clearly Europe sees a benefit in trading with Iran. It is far more lucrative than spending money dropping bombs on Middle-East countries for Saudi-Arabia. In fact, while researching this article I found an advertisement by Saudi Arabia hailing the benefits of “Decisive Storm”, a military action led by Saudi Arabia against Yemen, as if it were some kind of miracle cream (http://www.arabnews.com/DecisiveStorm) .  This is just one audacious example of the mindset of the Saudi royals. They are a mafia with no regard for property rights or life. To them, like to many US politicians, war is just business. 

Perhaps European and US companies are tired of dealing with Saudi Arabia's monopolist wars and the lost opportunities it has cost them. Companies operating in the market are always willing to cooperate with each other if it helps them profit. The Shah Deniz field was to be operated by BP, but other companies from Russia and Iran also held shares in that field. It is the State that is in constant conflict for tax revenue and transit fees and that depends on who gets to have the line travel through “their” conquered territory. In reality, although the US is the Giant, it got that way with cheap access to oil and the trade-off was to sell its mercenary services to the nation that provides that resource-Saudi Arabia and now- Qatar. But after all of these years of watching Saudi Arabia orchestrate and participate in false flags to stir up conflict and using the US to depose Saudi's oil rivals while despicable US politicians profit off the wars they help orchestrate what we may be witnessing is an example of the market breaking the current war cycle. But even parasites can adapt, so it is possible that politicians will make deals with Iran, similar to those made with Saudi Arabia. Is it possible that, with ISIS (Saudi) now in control of so much of Syria, Saudi Arabia will allow Iran to send gas through? Is it possible that the US realizes it can no longer afford to be Saudi Arabia's henchman (politically or financially) and now it needs to move on to greener pastures? Since the deals established with Saudi Arabia, the US has been willing to carry out Saudi Arabia's desires and with NATO being run by the US, that puts Europe at odds with the US. Either Europe breaks ties with NATO, to maintain gas supplies from Russia or it freezes. Europe's NATO alliance is forcing it against its own supplier. Or the US breaks with Saudi Arabia and makes peace with Iran to keep getting oil and gas. The sanctions against Iran were always a tool used to appease the Saudi's. There was never any real concern about Iran having nukes. It was all a ploy.