How the New Silk Roads are merging into Greater Eurasia

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People take pictures of the first freight train from Shenzhen to Minsk, capital of Belarus, that set out of Yantian Port in Shenzhen in May 2017. Photo: Reuters / stringer

 

Russia’s embrace of the Far East and other parts of Asia is proceeding with a symbiotic embrace of China’s New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative

The concept of Greater Eurasia has been discussed at the highest levels of Russian academia and policy-making for some time. This week the policy was presented at the Council of Ministers and looks set to be enshrined, without fanfare, as the main guideline of Russian foreign policy for the foreseeable future.

President Putin is unconditionally engaged to make it a success. Already at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in 2016, Putin referred to an emerging “Eurasian partnership” Continue reading

China Intensifies Efforts to Topple U.S. Dollar

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China Photos/Getty Images

 

‘The pace of expansion has been explosive’ for China’s new yuan-denominated oil futures contract.

Less than a year after China launched an oil futures contract denominated in the Chinese currency, the contract is beginning to be embraced by global commodities traders.

The Chinese Communist Party has long desired to see the United States dollar sidelined and the Chinese currency, the yuan, take on a more central role in global finance. The latest major push toward that goal came on March 26 when China launched a new oil futures contract on the Shanghai International Energy Exchange denominated in yuan. Now the contract is finding increasing acceptance among multinational commodity traders, which could threaten the dollar’s position. Continue reading

The German-American Relationship Illusion

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Demonstrators march through Berlin to protest U.S. President Donald Trump on Jan. 20, 2017. (Omer Messinger/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

 

Germans see relations as negative; Americans see them as positive. What is going wrong?

Germans and Americans have very different ideas of the relationship between their two countries, according to a survey published by the Körber Foundation and the American Pew Research Center last month.

While 73 percent of Germans surveyed described relations with the United States of America as “somewhat bad” or “very bad,” 70 percent of Americans said that relations with the German Federal Republic were “somewhat good” or “very good.” Continue reading

U.S. Aircraft Carrier Heads To Persian Gulf In “Show Of Force” After Iran Ballistic Missile Test

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USS John C. Stennis nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, via Defence Blog

 

Days after Iran unveiled its first stealth destroyer in a televised ceremony on Saturday which saw the warship launched into operation in the Persian Gulf, and after the US condemned Iran’s test firing a medium-range nuclear capable ballistic missile on Sunday, Pentagon officials have announced the U.S. is sending an aircraft carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf in a show of force against Iran. Continue reading

The Oil Powerhouses Replacing OPEC

Offshore rig

 

Three countries currently account for close to 40 percent of global crude oil production and only one of these countries is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The three are Russia, the United States, and Saudi Arabia and as their clout over oil markets increases with rising production rates, OPEC’s is set to decline, at least temporarily. Continue reading

Russian South Stream 2.0 Comes Out of the Shadows

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Source: Kommersant

 

Russia and Turkey have announced that the two countries have reached significant progress in reviving the November 2014-shut down South Stream gas pipeline intended to land Russian gas across the Black Sea. The project is the part of the already secured open tender contracts for purchases of gas signed between Gazprom, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia and Austria.

The new Black Sea gas pipeline Turkish Stream will run under sea from Krasnodar to a landing hubv just west of Istanbul. On November 19, presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Istanbul to announce the completion of pipeline’s off-shore section. Continue reading

Top Iranian Commander Identifies US Bases “Within Reach” Of Precision Missiles

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Threats issued from Iranian officials against U.S. military operations in the Persian Gulf are nothing new, however, it will be interesting to see the White House response to an elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) commander specifically designating that American bases in Afghanistan, the UAE, Qatar, as well as U.S. aircraft carriers in the Gulf are within range of Iranian ballistic missiles.

Amirali Hajizadeh, the head of the IRGC airspace division, was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency, via Reuters:

They are within our reach, and we can hit them if they make a move… Our land-to-sea missiles have a range of 700 kilometers [450 miles]… and the US aircraft carriers are our targets. Continue reading

The Biggest Threat To Dollar Dominance

dollars

 

Russian oil exporters are pressuring Western commodity traders to pay for Russian crude in euros and not dollars as Washington prepares more sanctions for the 2014 annexation of Crimea by Moscow, Reuters reported last week, citing as many as seven industry sources.

While it may have come as a surprise to the traders, who, Reuters said, were not too happy about it, the Russian companies’ move was to be expected as the Trump administration pursues a foreign policy where sanctions feature prominently. This approach, however, could undermine the dominance of the U.S. dollar as the global oil trade currency. Continue reading

War of Sanctions against Iran

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BERLIN/TEHRAN (Own report) – New US sanctions against Iran have come into effect, without the slightest sign of success for the opposition to the US Middle East policy that had been so loudly proclaimed by Berlin and the EU. Berlin had affirmed, it would do everything in its power to secure for EU companies – particularly German – business deals with Iran, thereby safeguard the nuclear agreement while strengthening the standing of German/EU industry in Iran. The latter has completely failed. German business representatives are warning of the “danger” that German business with Iran “could come to a complete halt.” If this development continues, China – which during the first round of sanctions, had already become Iran’s main trading partner – could further enhance its position in Iran, particularly due to continued oil purchases from Tehran. Contrary to its announcement, the Trump administration did not succeed in entirely cutting off Iranian oil exports. Today, Iran is selling more oil than during the previous round of sanctions.

Continue reading

The World’s Most Dangerous Man… Has a Terrifying Secret

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has a secret.

No, it’s not that he was behind the horrific interrogation, torture and murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Although most people would argue otherwise.

The Crown Prince’s secret that I’m referring to isn’t even that he approved the use of chemical weapons by Saudi Arabia in its proxy war in Yemen. Continue reading

Saudis Launch Nuclear Research Reactor Amid Competition With Iran

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Saudi Crown Prince, Muhammad bin Salman

 

The reactor launched on November 5 is among 16 that Saudi officials, citing archrival Iran’s continued development of nuclear energy, have said they plan to build over the next two decades at a cost of $80 billion.

While Riyadh insists its goal is to diversify away from oil and gas, the main drivers of the kingdom’s economy, the nuclear plans have raised concerns in the West about the possibility of a nuclear race between the two Middle Eastern rivals.

Like Iran, Riyadh insists its only goal is the development of peaceful nuclear technologies. But Prince Muhammad warned in March that if Iran develops a nuclear weapon, Riyadh will do so as well. Continue reading

US sanctions: SWIFT network suspends Iran banks

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The SWIFT banking network, the backbone for international monetary transfers, said Monday it has suspended several Iranian banks from its service, after the United States reimposed nuclear sanctions on Tehran.

“In keeping with our mission of supporting the resilience and integrity of the global financial system as a global and neutral service provider, SWIFT is suspending certain Iranian banks’ access to the messaging system,” it said. Continue reading

Iran president warns of ‘war situation’ as sanctions resume

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US President Donald Trump, left, on July 22, 2018, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on February 6, 2018. (AP Photo)

 

Rouhani vows defiantly that ‘Iran is able to sell its oil and it will sell,’ rejects prospect of mediation with Washington

Iran greeted the re-imposition of US sanctions on Monday with air defense drills and an acknowledgement from President Hassan Rouhani that the nation faces a “war situation,” raising Mideast tensions as America’s maximalist approach to the Islamic Republic takes hold.

The sanctions end all the economic benefits America granted Tehran under its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, though Iran for now continues to abide by the accord that saw it limit its enrichment of uranium. While for now not threatening to resume higher enrichment, Iranian officials in recent months have made a point to threaten that could resume at any time faster than before. Continue reading

Europe’s Gas Game Just Took A Wild Twist

Natural Gas

 

Despite the almost unprecedented divisive nature of Donald J. Trump’s presidency, he is chalking up some impressive foreign policy victories, including finally bringing Beijing to task over its decades long unfair trade practices, stealing of intellectual property rights, and rampant mercantilism that has given its state-run companies unfair trade advantages and as a result seen Western funds transform China to an emerging world power alongside the U.S.

Now, it looks as if Trump’s recent tirade against America’s European allies over its geopolitically troubling reliance on Russian gas supply may also be bearing fruit. On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that earlier this month German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered government support to efforts to open up Germany to U.S. gas, in what the report called “a key concession to President Trump as he tries to loosen Russia’s grip on Europe’s largest energy market.” Continue reading

US Is Negotiating With SWIFT To Disconnect Iran From Network

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that unlike Obama’s 2013 Iran blockade, it would be harder for countries to get waivers on Iran oil sanctions as the US is already working on disconnecting Iran from the SWIFT network and dismissed concerns that oil prices could rise, saying the market had already factored in the output losses.

Speaking in an interview with Reuters in Jerusalem on Sunday at the start of a Middle East trip, Mnuchin said countries would have to reduce their purchases of Iranian oil by more than the roughly 20% level they did from 2013 to 2015 to get waivers. “I would expect that if we do give waivers it will be significantly larger reductions,” said the US Treasury Secretary. Continue reading