In April, Chinese President Xi Jinping marked a historic visit to neighboring Pakistan. China, via Beijing’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, will invest some $50 billion in Pakistani infrastructure, including power plants, roads, railways, and, perhaps most importantly, the Iran-Pakistan natural gas pipeline. The vast sum represents 53% more than the US has given Islamabad over the past 13 years combined. China is also set to invest an equally large sum in Brazil and is even considering the construction a railroad over the Andes, which would connect Brazil to China via the Pacific and ports in Peru.
In the heady days of the commodity boom, oil-rich nations accumulated billions of dollars in reserves they invested in U.S. debt and other securities. They also occasionally bought trophy assets, such as Manhattan skyscrapers, luxury homes in London or Paris Saint-Germain Football Club.
Now that oil prices have dropped by half to $50 a barrel, Saudi Arabia and other commodity-rich nations are fast drawing down those “petrodollar” reserves. Some nations, such as Angola, are burning through their savings at a record pace, removing a source of liquidity from global markets.
Saudi Arabia is quietly preparing for an international nuclear agreement with Iran that it fears will rehabilitate its Shiite Persian rival. King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz al Saud’s approach eschews the public spectacle of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress (indeed, the Saudis don’t want any association with Israel) and instead focuses on regional alliances to contain an emergent Iran.
The Saudis publicly welcomed Secretary of State John Kerry’s assurances in Riyadh last week that Washington will not accept a bad nuclear deal with Iran and that a deal will not inaugurate a grand rapprochement between Washington and Tehran. They remain deeply skeptical about the negotiations, however, and are preparing for any outcome in the P5+1 process. Continue reading
The joint statement by Secretary of State Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif that there will be no extension of the talks between the six powers and Iran past the most recent deadline of March 24th means only one thing: a deal has been reached between the U.S. and Iran, which will be announced to the other five participants when the Obama Administration decides it is convenient to do so.
This is the way this administration operates. Continue reading
As stated before numerous times, they’re politically posturing to back Israel into a corner, effectively painting it as the aggressor as it’s been forced into a position to strike for its very existence.
Less than 48 hours after a top European Union court ruled that Hamas should be removed from the bloc’s list of terrorist groups, supporters of the Palestinian Islamist movement responded by firing a rocket at Israel. The attack, which did not cause any casualties or damage, did not come as a surprise.
Buoyed by the EU court’s ruling, Hamas leaders and spokesmen see it as a “political and legal achievement” and a “big victory” for the “armed struggle” against Israel.
Musa Abu Marzouk, a top Hamas leader, issued a statement thanking the EU court for its decision. He hailed the decision to remove his movement from the terrorist list as a “victory for all those who support the Palestinian right to resistance.” Continue reading
DISCUSSIONS are under way at the ‘highest levels’ regarding plans by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy to build a base at Walvis Bay in the next 10 years.
According to reports in the Chinese media, Walvis Bay will be one of 18 naval bases that will be established in various regions: Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Mynanmar in the northern Indian Ocean; Djibouti, Yemen, Oman, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique in the western Indian Ocean; and Seychelles and Madagascar in the central South Indian Ocean.
“These three strategic lines will further enhance China’s effectiveness in taking responsibility for maintaining the safety of international maritime routes thereby maintaining regional and world stability,” the media reports said.
Warns U.S. wants agreement ‘at any price’
TEL AVIV – The U.S. and Western powers currently negotiating with Iran on its nuclear capability are willing to reach an agreement with Tehran at any price, warns a paper prepared by Saudi Arabia’s intelligence organizations.
The document, the contents of which were obtained by WND, was presented by the Saudis this week to all members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, an umbrella made up of all Arab states of the Persian Gulf, except for Iraq. The council consists of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Continue reading
DUBAI — Following a decade of “near-absence” in the Middle East, Russia is once again asserting itself as it looks to sell arms to former Soviet-era clients while breaking into the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) market.
“Moscow’s policies again have become markedly more active,” said Dimitry Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center. “During his presidency, Vladimir Putin made trips to the region and paid a visit to Tehran, the first one since Stalin’s wartime allied conference journey.
“However, Russia’s policies are not yet embedded within some overall strategy and are largely driven by a set of pragmatic considerations. Russia’s principal objectives are to advance its economic interests and to counter threats to Russia’s national security,” Trenin wrote in a paper for the Washington-based Century Foundation.
Yuri Baramin, a UAE-based Russian political and military analyst, said the Russian approach to the Middle East can be described as a “wait and see approach.”
KUWAIT CITY // The Gulf states plan to launch a joint naval force, a top Kuwaiti defence official said on Wednesday, in a bid to protect waters shared with neighbouring Iran.
The new force is expected to be formed in the “coming months”, Maj Gen Ahmad Yussef Al Mulla was quoted as saying by the official Kuna news agency. Continue reading
ISIS militants not planning to stop in Iraq
WASHINGTON – Beyond Iraq, what is the intent of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria?
There appears to be short- and long-term goals, with a hint of those intentions in the name ISIS has chosen for itself.
Its real name is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, meaning Greater Syria.
ISIS, morphing from the Islamic State of Iraq before it was excommunicated from al-Qaida central in Pakistan last year for its extreme Wahhabi brutality, appears to have intentions of re-creating Greater Syria into an Islamic caliphate, subject to strict Shariah law. Continue reading
Oman, which faces Iran across the Strait of Hormuz, said it’s poised to start raising cash for a $3 billion rail line offering an alternative route for oil and freight shipments that funnel through the 21 mile-wide channel.
The nation of 3.3 million people, located on the southern side of the strait, is considering issuing bonds by the end of 2014 to kick-start funding for the track across some of the Arabian peninsula’s harshest terrain, Abdulrahman Al Hatmi, a director at Oman National Railway Co., said in an interview. Continue reading
Many observers are correct in noting that the Middle East is undergoing yet another seismic shift – that the Russian-brokered destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, a US-Iranian rapprochement, the diminished strategic value of Saudi Arabia and Israel, and a US withdrawal from Afghanistan will all contribute to changing regional dynamics considerably.
But what is this new direction? Where will it come from, who will lead it, what will define it? Continue reading
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab neighbors wrapped up a summit meeting in Kuwait on Wednesday by agreeing to establish a joint military command, paving the way for tighter security coordination even as their regional rival Iran pursues outreach efforts in the wake of its interim nuclear deal.
The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council also agreed to lay the foundations for a joint Gulf police force and a strategic studies academy, according to a summary of the group’s closing statement carried by the official Kuwait News Agency. Continue reading
Two landmark events in the Persian Gulf this week attested to Tehran’s confidence that it has escaped the threat of a military clash with the US and Israel over its nuclear program – certainly in the Persian Gulf. By the same token, Iran is no longer threatening to block the Straits of Hormuz to Gulf oil exports in reprisal for this attack.
One of those events, as noted by debkafile’s military and Gulf sources, is the rapid détente between Tehran and the United Arab Emirates. Tuesday, Dec. 10, unnamed Gulf officials announced that Iran and the UAE were close to an agreement for the return to the Emirates of three Iranian-occupied islands in the Arabian Gulf.
The other event was the conspicuous absence of Oman’s Sultan Qaboos from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit taking place in Kuwait this week. Continue reading