Iran and Russia Just Revealed How They’ll Upend the Petrodollar

 

Iran and Russia just took a page out of Venezuela’s playbook.

Like Caracas announced on Dec. 4, Moscow and Tehran are looking into cryptocurrencies as a means of upending the U.S. petrodollar’s reign over the global oil market, Cointelegraph reported on Dec. 11.

For its part, crypto’s rise in popularity of late does make for an enticing investment choice, especially with Bitcoin’s 150% surge over the past month. Continue reading

Thousands of Russian private contractors fighting in Syria

Visitors and Russian military police officers walk toward the Citadel, Aleppo’s famed fortress. Russian news outlets say thousands of Russians have been deployed in Syria by a shadowy, private military contractor since 2015. When President Vladimir Putin announced Monday Dec. 11, 2017, that Russia’s campaign in Syria was drawing to a close, he did not mention this secret force.

 

MOSCOW (AP) — Before he was killed by a sniper in Syria at age 23, Ivan Slyshkin wrote a poignant message on social media to his fiancee: “We will see each other soon — and I will hold you as tight as I possibly can.”

But Slyshkin’s name won’t be found among the Russian Defense Ministry’s official casualties in the fight against Islamic State extremists. That’s because the young man who left his hometown of Ozyorsk in the Ural mountains was one of thousands of Russians deployed to Syria by a shadowy, private military contractor known as Wagner, which the government doesn’t talk about.

Slyshkin’s gravestone depicts him holding a machine gun, according to a local news website Znak.com that sent a reporter to his March 2 funeral in Ozyorsk, where friends said he joined Wagner to earn money to pay for his wedding. Continue reading

Russia, China Secretly Support North Korea

 

Fuel shipments into the rogue nation show that Moscow and Beijing are still keeping the Kim regime afloat.

The prices of fuel inside North Korea have plunged over the last month or so, thanks to an influx coming into the country from Russia via China. Continue reading

Maduro to Create Venezuelan Cryptocurrency ‘To Overcome the Financial Blockade’

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro / Getty Images

 

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro wants his own version of Bitcoin, announcing Sunday that his socialist government will create a cryptocurrency.

Maduro said on his television show that the new “petrocurrency” will be backed by reserves in oil, gas, gold, and diamonds, Bloomberg reports. Bitcoin, the world’s largest digital currency, hit new highs last week, and Maduro declared that his plan will counteract the economic disaster that is befalling the Venezuelan bolivar, which has experienced hyperinflation as the country’s economy has collapsed. Continue reading

New US military moves in the Mid-East & Israel’s Syria air raid were coordinated

 

The US hands-off to Iran’s top general in Iraq, Ali Abdullah Saleh’s changeover of sides in the Yemen war and Trump’s’ thinking on Jerusalem – all signal a new, proactive US strategy for the region.

Central Intelligence Agency chief Mike Pompeo was uncharacteristically frank when he addressed high-ranking US military and security officials on Saturday, Dec. 2, at the Reagan Presidential Foundation. He revealed that he had sent a note to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Al Qods chief, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and explained: “I sent it because he had indicated that forces under his control might in fact threaten US interests n Iraq.” Continue reading

OPEC’s Clash With U.S. Oil Is Nearing Its Day of Reckoning

 

  • Strategy of cartel has helped to deplete half surplus stocks
  • Bolstering prices is emboldening American shale-oil drillers

The clash between OPEC and America’s oil industry is reaching a day of reckoning.

The U.S. shale revolution is on course to be the greatest oil and gas boom in history, turning a nation once at the mercy of foreign imports into a global player. That seismic shift shattered the dominance of Saudi Arabia and the OPEC cartel, forcing them into an alliance with long-time rival Russia to keep a grip on world markets. Continue reading

The Saudi-Iran Brewing War

 

The turmoil in the Middle East has been instigated in part by fiscal mismanagement. When the money was rolling in with high oil prices, it was assumed, as always, that whatever trend is in motion will remain in motion. Consequently, the government expanded their spending assuming money would continue to flow in. When oil broke, the fiscal mismanagement has been exposed for all to see if they care to look.

Falling oil prices have decimated revenues and trade in the region. Security worries about terrorism, particularly in the US, have led to cuts in airline routes. Then there has also been a long-running diplomatic and trade impasse between Saudi Arabia and its allies on the one hand, and Qatar on the other. Now the good-old-days of easy money and rapid growth has led to concerns about over-capacity, waste, and corruption that nobody cared about when money flowed like oil.

Continue reading

Saudi Arabia’s Saturday Night Massacre

This weekend, while we here in the US were focused on the upcoming election and President Trump’s visit to Asia, a powerful drama with vast geopolitical implications played out in Saudi Arabia.

Mohammad bin Salman, the king’s son, is the de facto ruler of the country and has been making increasingly aggressive moves in an attempt to shift Saudi Arabia from its status as an ultraconservative oil-producing nation to a 21st-century manufacturing superpower with social mores to match. In doing so he has greatly perturbed a broad swath of the Saudi elite – many of them his near and distant royal family brethren – as well as the fundamentalist Wahhabi clergy. Continue reading

Turkey’s Nuclear Ambitions

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (then Prime Minister) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 18, 2012. Their meeting focused on nuclear cooperation, among other things. (Image source: kremlin.ru)

 

  • Russia’s ROSATOM already has nuclear cooperation deals with Iran, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, among others. Turkey is just the latest to benefit — possibly along with Iran and North Korea, both of which have been openly threatening to destroy America — from Moscow’s play for power in the Middle East and the Mediterranean.
  • The West would also do well not to feel secure in the knowledge that Turkey is a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
  • Nuclear reactors in the hands of a repressive Islamist authoritarian such as Erdogan could be turned into weapons factories with little effort.

Turkey’s announcement over the summer that it had signed a deal with Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM) — of Hillary Clinton’s Uranium One stardom — to begin building three nuclear power plants in the near future is cause for concern. The $20 billion deal, which has been in the works since 2010, involves the construction in Mersin of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant — Turkey’s first-ever such plant— will be operational in 2023. Continue reading

Saudis Call Missile Attack “Blatant Act Of Aggression” By Iran, “Could Be Considered Act Of War”

War is coming…

This weekend’s chaos in the middle east just got considerably more serious.

Yesterday we detailed reports that the Saudis intercepted a ballistic missile over the nation’s capital Riyadh… Continue reading

Future Saudi king tightens grip on power with arrests including Prince Alwaleed

FILE PHOTO – Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

 

RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s future king has tightened his grip on power through an anti-corruption purge by arresting royals, ministers and investors including billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal who is one of the kingdom’s most prominent businessmen.

Prince Alwaleed, a nephew of the king and owner of investment firm Kingdom Holding, invests in firms such as Citigroup and Twitter. He was among 11 princes, four ministers and tens of former ministers detained, three senior officials told Reuters on Sunday.

The purge against the kingdom’s political and business elite also targeted the head of the National Guard, Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, who was detained and replaced as minister of the powerful National Guard by Prince Khaled bin Ayyaf. Continue reading

The Era Of Oil And Gas Is Nearing Its End

American Energy Consumption by Source, 1775-2012 (Source: Energy Information Agency, via Bloomberg)

 

The history of crude oil and natural gas is a history of technological innovation. Until recently the innovation supported crude oil and natural gas. Now, it challenges it, causing structural changes in the crude oil and natural gas markets.

Originally, crude oil was only used for lighting. This changed following the invention of the internal combustion engine, which outperformed steam engine in power, range and ease of operation and maintenance, and the invention of the conveyor belt, which made it possible to mass-produce the internal combustion engine at a price which was affordable to the masses. Not much later, crude oil became the transportation fuel of choice. The horse drawn carriage was replaced by the car; the locomotive by the diesel train; the steamship by the motor vessel; and the zeppelin by the airplane. Continue reading

China Prepares to Open Second Foreign Base

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy is in the process of building a second foreign military base at the strategic port city of Gwadar in Pakistan.

 

Just weeks after opening its first foreign military base on the Horn of Africa, China is preparing to open another in the strategically important port city of Gwadar, Pakistan. Continue reading

Ignoring empty threats, Iran tightens its military noose around Israel

Hamas’ Saleh Arouri in Tehran.

 

Iran pressed ahead with its plans this week, regardless of the loud scorn and threats poured on Tehran from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Cairo and Washington.

On Friday, Oct. 20, less than two weeks after Saleh Arouri, Deputy Chief of the Hamas political bureau, approved an Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation agreement between his party and the rival Fatah, he was leading a large Hamas delegation to Tehran. Continue reading

Iran’s Rev Guards place command post and 5 bases in Kirkuk

Military sources in Iraq reported Wednesday that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) operational Al Qods arm had planted a command center and five bases in the Iraqi oil town of Kirkuk, after driving the Kurds out. An officer called Haji Ihsan was given this command. Continue reading