More Countries Start Exploring Alternatives to the US World Order

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There are two countries that more than others show how the Western world order is undergoing a profound change. Japan and Turkey occupy two distinct and diverse geographical areas, yet they share many of the same strategic choices about their future. Their geopolitical trajectory is increasingly drifting away from Washington and moving closer to China, Russia, India and Iran.

Both Japan and Turkey are two important states in the US’s strategy for controlling the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. Both countries have economies that are competitive in comparison to their neighbors, and both often conveniently find themselves allied to countries within Washington’s orbit. Japan has a good relationship with South Korea, and Turkey (until a few years ago) had a privileged relationship with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Keeping in mind that the US aims to prolong and consolidate its regional dominance, Washington has always tried to have excellent relations with these two countries as a way of ensuring its constant presence in regional affairs. Continue reading

Saudi Arabia Threatens War with Qatar

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(Photo Credit: Vitaly V. Kuzmin via Creative Commons 4.0)

 

The kingdom has threatened to build a nuclear waste dump literally at the border with its diminutive neighbor too.

King Salman has said Saudi Arabia would take military action to eliminate the Russian-made S-400 aerial defense system if it is installed in neighboring Qatar, which has reportedly entered into a deal to purchase several of the launch systems despite being home to a major U.S. Central Command base.

Accoring to Reuters, Salman “recently” wrote a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron that states, in part:

“The kingdom would be ready to take all necessary measures to eliminate this defense system, including military action.” Continue reading

Russia Just Won Big In The European Gas War

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There’s been a lot of talk on both sides of the Atlantic about the U.S. pivot and efforts at locking in natural as market share in Europe. Much of this comes amid President Donald Trump’s so-called American energy independence push as well as both U.S. and several EU members thrust to wean Europe off of geopolitically charged Russian gas.

In fact, Trump has pushed for U.S.-sourced LNG to become so much of the EU’s energy security that several European states, particularly Germany, have accused the president of playing energy geopolitics, cloaking American concern for European energy security under the guise and to the benefit of U.S. LNG producers.

Now, however, Trump and U.S. LNG exporters will have an even harder time convincing key EU members to offset overreliance on Russian piped gas with U.S. LNG. Continue reading

Another Step Towards Collapse of Petrodollar

Note: Please see the source for currency swap agreements chart.

 

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For the past year and half a major topic throughout the alternative press has been the new Chinese oil futures contract settled/priced in yuan. The fact that China is directly challenging the Federal Reserve Note, U.S. dollar, is quiet a significant change. For those that have been paying attention this new futures oil contract is nothing more than the next step in China moving completely away from the Federal Reserve Note, and the “world reserve currency” system and towards a multi-polar world with several currencies being used for international trade. Continue reading

Turkey Will Be Ground Zero in the Next Global Debt Crisis

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Turkey is a beautiful country with a rich history including Greek, Roman and Muslim influences that make it one of the most fascinating places on Earth. It is literally a bridge between East and West: The mile-long Bosporus Bridge just north of Istanbul connects Europe and Asia across the Bosporus Strait.

Turkey has been a magnet for direct foreign investment from abroad and dollar-denominated loans by international banks to local enterprises. This investment enthusiasm is understandable given Turkey’s well-educated population of 83 million and its rank as the 17th-largest economy in the world, with a GDP of just under $1 trillion. Continue reading

A major showdown awaits Palestinian leader in Riyadh

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is on his way Tuesday to Riyadh where he faces a stern demand to break away from the Turkish-Qatari-Jordanian line-up fighting US political steps in the region. DEBKAfile reports that Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman will not give way on this demand and, if Abbas holds out, the showdown could end in the Saudis cutting off assistance to the Palestinian Authority. Continue reading

New Rumblings In The Horn Of Africa Over Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam

Tensions are rising between Egypt and Ethiopia over the latter’s Grand Renaissance Dam. 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

The Home Game Has Arrived: Lessons from the 10th Asymmetric Threat Symposium

 

Last week I was privileged to attend the 10th Asymmetric Threat Symposium. It’s not the first of these I’ve attended but was clearly the best. Maybe the participants felt less restrained by politics and thus spoke more directly to the issues we truly face. Or maybe the quality of experts is rising. For whatever reason, the event was candid and sobering, even for me. The event was held near our nation’s capitol and was sponsored by CACI International, the Center for Security Policy, and ISW (Institute for the Study of War). The title:  What Does It Take to Protect America? Combatting Global Asymmetric Threats.

While the rules of the event require that comments be shared without attribution, I’m pleased to offer a recap for our readers. You can read the agenda and see information about prior versions at www.asymmetricthreat.netThe speakers and panelists were impressive. In fact, I counted 36 stars on the shoulders (Admirals and Generals) of about a dozen participants, both active and retired, not to mention academic and civilian experts.

There were many important points covered and I’ll recap just a few:

First, the question was asked and answered. Are we already at war? Continue reading

Former Qatari PM: Four foreign governments, including US, orchestrated Syrian war

An interview going viral across Arabic social media quotes former Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani as claiming that his country, along with Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States, began shipping weapons to “jihadists” from the very moment that the Syrian civil war erupted in 2011. Continue reading

The World Is Creeping Toward De-Dollarization

The issue of when a global reserve currency begins or ends is not an exact science. There are no press releases announcing it, and neither are there big international conferences that end with the signing of treaties and a photo shoot. Nevertheless we can say with confidence that the reign of every world reserve currency has to come to and end at some point in time. During a changeover from one global currency to another, gold (and to a lesser extent silver) has always played a decisive role. Central banks and governments have long been aware that the dollar has a sell-by date as a reserve currency. But it has taken until now for the subject to be discussed openly. The fact that the issue has been on the radar of a powerful bank like JP Morgan for at least five years, should give one pause. Questions regarding the global reserve currency are not exactly discussed on CNBC every day. Most mainstream economists avoid the topic like the plague. The issue is too politically charged. However, that doesn’t make it any less important for investors to look for answers. On the contrary. The following questions need to be asked: What indications are there that the world is turning its back on the US dollar? And what are the clues that gold’s role could be strengthened in a new system? Continue reading

Syria is a ‘Laboratory’ for the Air War of the Future

A boom operator, assigned to the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, prepares to refuel an aircraft from a KC-135 Stratotanker above Southwest Asia, July 20, 2017.

 

US airmen are rapidly developing and remixing new technologies and techniques in the fight against ISIS, but sometimes you can’t beat the tried and true.

ISIS doesn’t have an Air Force, but the Syrian skies are nevertheless a rapidly evolving “laboratory” for air warfare, said U.S. military leaders, who described how the U.S. is fusing cyber attacks with real bombs and using open-source intelligence to find and strike targets.

Continue reading

Australia Takes On Qatar For Top LNG Producer Status

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Australia this week moved a step closer to becoming a real problem for Qatar on the LNG market, after the second floating production, storage, and offloading vessel for the Ichthys gas field reached its destination.

The Ichthys Venturer joins the Ichthys Explorer at the field operated by Japan’s Inpex, with the first LNG shipment from the field scheduled for next spring.

The Venturer has a capacity of 1.12 million barrels of gas condensate and will process, stabilize, and store condensate it will receive from the other FPSO, and then load it on tankers. Continue reading

The Saudi Power Balance Is On A Knife-Edge

 

The sweltering heat of Saudi Arabian summer will feel like a cool breeze compared to the geopolitical fire that could soon take over the country if ongoing internal power struggles destabilize the Kingdom’s Royal Family and national security in the coming weeks.

After his successful elevation to Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) has been appointed by King Salman to be in charge during his holiday to Morocco. The King’s holiday comes at a time of relative instability in the Kingdom, as the effects of the removal of former Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef at the end of the Ramadan period continue to linger. Continue reading