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MENA Mashup: Inherent Resolve, House of Saud, and, Petrobuck$

From Think Progress… How America’s War Machine Turns On Itself

…The irony is that the chemical weapons were made, in large part, by American companies –- but that’s the case with a lot of arms that land in enemy hands.

The U.S. sold $66.3 billion in weapons last year –- more than three-fourths of the entire global arms market. As a comparison, Russia clocked in as number two on the list of top sellers with $4.8 billion in arms deals.

American weapons’ sales an “extraordinary increase” over the $21.4 billion of arms sold in 2010, according to a bipartisan report from the Congressional Research Service. The report’s authors note that 2013 marked a historic high in arms agreements even despite an economic downtown, with Saudi Arabia, India, and the United Arab Emirates topping the list of buyers.

This trend looks likely to continue with the implementation of the Export Control Reform Initiative which was rolled out in October of 2013. The new policy is meant to “impose controls based on the sensitivity of the item and the destination” of arms by making two separate regulatory categories. One, to be controlled by the State Department regulates the sale of the items like fighter planes. The other contains products like fuel filters and break pads and is managed by the Department of Commerce. Notably, the policy also breaks with the need for “specific licenses if intended for the ultimate end-use by the governments” of key allies. Needless to say, however, tracking “end-use” is a tricky business – and it’s sparked fears of arming terrorist networks…

From Forbes… Putin, Erdogan, Saudi Arabia: The Balance Of Power Is Shifting

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MENA Mashup: Inherent Resolve, House of Saud, and Petrobuck$

From Think Progress… How America’s War Machine Turns On Itself

…The irony is that the chemical weapons were made, in large part, by American companies –- but that’s the case with a lot of arms that land in enemy hands.

The U.S. sold $66.3 billion in weapons last year –- more than three-fourths of the entire global arms market. As a comparison, Russia clocked in as number two on the list of top sellers with $4.8 billion in arms deals.

American weapons’ sales an “extraordinary increase” over the $21.4 billion of arms sold in 2010, according to a bipartisan report from the Congressional Research Service. The report’s authors note that 2013 marked a historic high in arms agreements even despite an economic downtown, with Saudi Arabia, India, and the United Arab Emirates topping the list of buyers.

This trend looks likely to continue with the implementation of the Export Control Reform Initiative which was rolled out in October of 2013. The new policy is meant to “impose controls based on the sensitivity of the item and the destination” of arms by making two separate regulatory categories. One, to be controlled by the State Department regulates the sale of the items like fighter planes. The other contains products like fuel filters and break pads and is managed by the Department of Commerce. Notably, the policy also breaks with the need for “specific licenses if intended for the ultimate end-use by the governments” of key allies. Needless to say, however, tracking “end-use” is a tricky business – and it’s sparked fears of arming terrorist networks…

From Forbes… Putin, Erdogan, Saudi Arabia: The Balance Of Power Is Shifting

If you subtract Ebola and ISIS from the news, what are the three most significant recent developments in world affairs? Here are my nominations: Saudi Arabia announces it will raise production and drop oil prices, Turkey loses its bid to serve on the UN Security Council, a meeting between Putin and Merkel gets cancelled because he’s late (though they meet later). You may be surprised to know that all three events do interconnect in unexpected ways. They also tell us a lot about real-time shifts in geostrategic power balances, how they happen and how to read them.

Let us begin with the first. Why would Saudi Arabia seemingly cut off its nose to spite its face, as it were, by gratuitously reducing its own national revenue? Recent reports have it that the Saudis are willing to see oil prices go down to $80 a barrel and even, according to this report, down to $60 or $50 for preferred customers in the West and Asia. http://www.aa.com.tr/en/economy/402343–saudi-arabia-to-pressure-russia-iran-with-price-of-oil. The article identifies the real purpose: to punish Iran, Russia and its client Assad, of Syria. Top Russian oil official Mikhail Leontyev from Rosneft was quoted in Russian media as saying, “Saudi Arabia has begun making big discounts on oil. This is political manipulation and Saudi Arabia is being manipulated politically which could end badly”. Translated into blunt English, Leontyev is actually threatening the Saudis while not accusing them directly. In other words, the Russians know it’s the Saudis making a strategic move against them. According to most statisticians Moscow needs to sell oil at $100 to pay for its budget commitments. http://www.businessinsider.com/russia-saudi-arabia-and-oil-prices-2014-10.

All this comes on the heels of a slowdown in the world economy also dragging down the price of oil. Add to that the sanctions imposed on Moscow and Tehran by the West and the pressure on the geostrategic balance of power grows clearer. Although SA’s decision helps Western sanctions, Moscow knows full well Riyadh has not co-ordinated with Washington because really low oil prices (at say $50) will also damage America’s fracking revolution by undercutting it. So Leontyev’s message to Saudi should actually read “you are helping Western sanctions even if you don’t intend to but we know you’re acting alone and that makes you the more vulnerable”. So why would Saudi, acting unilaterally, risk Moscow’s ire at this juncture? Because the alignment of the US with Russia and Iran and Assad against ISIS doesn’t suit the Saudis at all. Riyadh tried countering the Shiite bloc by helping fund jihad in Syria and it backfired. So now the Saudis have decided to punish everyone concerned, including the US. A huge gamble indeed. The Saudis are deploying the last arrow in their quiver…

Here’s the IBTimes spin on the Saudi moves… How Saudi Arabian Oil Could Hurt ISIS Finances In Iraq And Syria

As if…! ISIS black market oil operation booming: officials (more…)

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