Sea Change In The Middle East

America’s view of the Middle East today is shaped by our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the rise and reach of ISIS, a grinding conflict in Syria, the region as a source of wider ranging terrorism and staggering outflows of refugees that are changing the political calculus in Europe. The images that characterize and shape American involvement there are of arid landscapes and rubble from wanton destruction, our soldiers and marines in desert camouflage and videos of surgical airstrikes.  However, the image of the beginning of our involvement in the Middle East is a rarely viewed February 1945 photo of President Franklin Roosevelt meeting with Saudi King Abdul Aziz aboard the USS Quincy in the Suez Canal.  As our strategic role in the Middle East began with a meeting on the water so, too, are consequential changes there taking place at sea – the domain in which the U.S. has enjoyed unfettered access and dominance for over seventy years.   Assuming continued uncontested American maritime dominance in that vital region is a grave strategic misstep – key Asian powers have turned to the sea, they understand fully what is at stake, and they have come to play.

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Iran forges ahead with Atlantic ambitions

TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian Navy commander Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari announced June 14 that Iran is planning to establish a naval presence in the Atlantic Ocean. In conjunction with this statement, he said, “We have yet to determine which country will assist us regarding the presence of our naval fleet. When the name of the chosen country is confirmed and announced, our strategic naval forces will deploy a training and military flotilla to the Atlantic Ocean.”

Sayyari also made announcements about new developments related to the “Mowj” (“Wave”) project, saying that Mowj frigates 3 and 4 have yet to be named but are 80% complete in terms of their construction, and thus in operation. His most important announcement, however, was about the fifth frigate in this series, which according to Sayyari is 90% complete. This vessel, which is slated to be launched in 2017, has been named Sahand. According to Sayyari, the Sahand, which is the latest type of Iranian-made frigate, has 30% greater stealth capabilities compared to earlier models and is equipped with newer weapons. Continue reading

China Buys Panama’s Largest Port

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Caption: Colón, Panama (LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images)

 

Consolidating power in the Panama Canal

For more than 100 years, the Panama Canal has controlled the bulk of goods transferred between the Pacific and the Atlantic. For much of that history, this monumental feat of engineering was under the control of the United States. But this is no longer the case.

In May, Panama’s largest port was purchased by a Chinese company called Landbridge Group.

Margarita Island Port, on the canal’s Atlantic side, offers the company intimate access to one of the most important goods distribution centers in the world.

While promising to upgrade the ailing Panama facilities and offer more trade with America’s distant east coast, there is substantial reason to hesitate at the purchase of such a critical trade hub.

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The New Silk Road (I)

And Germany will do it. When push comes to shove, it has historically sided with Russia and other axis powers. China should be no exception. In a time when America is suiciding itself off the world stage, it’s a matter of survival for its allies as they seek more stable and consistent alliances.

 

BEIJING/BERLIN (Own report) – With tensions rising between China and western powers, the German chancellor is using her current visit in Beijing to enhance Sino-German economic cooperation. German investments in the People’s Republic of China had increased to around 60 billion Euros in 2014 – tendency still rising – surpassed only by investments in the USA and a few EU countries. Business representatives are campaigning in favor of stronger German participation in a Chinese trillion-dollar project. This project named the “New Silk Road,” is aimed at bolstering ties between Eastern Asia and Europe. The project, also on the agenda of today’s German-Chinese government consultations, has two components, overland and maritime transport routes. Trade by train from Chongqing to Duisburg and by ship through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean will be enhanced. While German companies hope for lucrative business deals, strategists warn that the New Silk Road could enhance Beijing’s global influence – and ultimately break the western powers’ global dominance.

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U.S. Deploys Two Aircraft Carriers To Mediterranean To “Send A Clear Message To Russia”

Over the weekend we noted that US aircraft carrier, the USS Harry Truman, which has served as a launching point for a near-constant barrage of airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria and which since November has accounted for a little more than half of the total sorties flown over those two countries by the U.S. military, recently crossed the Suez Canal in an unplanned trip to the Mediterranean, had begun striking at various Islamic State targets from the Mediterranean Sea. This marked the first time a carrier group has launched airstrikes from the area since the 2003 invasion in Iraq.

But it turns out the carrier strike group had another, far more important mission when it entered the Mediterranean. According to the WSJ, this 20-story-tall aircraft carrier with a crew of 5,000 made an unplanned diversion from the Gulf to the eastern Mediterranean last week: a quick pivot intended to send a clear message to Russia. A military official in Washington said the Truman’s shift was a signal to Moscow and a demonstration of the Navy’s operational flexibility and reach.

“It provides some needed presence in the Med to check…the Russians,” the official said. “The unpredictability of what we did with Truman kind of makes them think twice.” Continue reading

Changing of the Guard

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Caption: A cargo ship makes its way through the Miraflores locks as it crosses the Panama Canal. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

 

The decline of U.S.-British control over the world’s sea gates

You’re sitting inside a fenced courtyard where all the gates are locked. At each gate stands an armed guard who will not allow you to leave. You are where?

The correct answer is prison.

Now imagine those burly guards laying down their weapons and handing over their keys to the inmates. That’s essentially what the United States and Britain have done. Prior to World War ii, they controlled every major sea gate in the world. These “gates,” as they are called in the Bible, proved indispensable to Allied success during World War ii. Since that time, however, the U.S. and Britain have, without a fight, surrendered their control as gatekeepers.

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The Coming Week Could Be Critical for the Dollar

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There are a lot of conflicting forces expected to impact currency markets this week. The first was the meeting of oil-producing nations in Doha that analysts believe ended in failure. Beforehand, there was talk of a production cut that would have supported oil prices. Instead, there was no agreement and oil prices fell immediately. If oil weakness holds, the dollar should strengthen reflexively. Amazingly, however, that may not be the largest story of the week.

There is a rumor that China is planning to move on the dollar on the 19th, supported by Russia. There have been similar rumors with date-certain outcomes that came and went without incident. This one could be similar. Continue reading

The Rise and Fall of a Superpower

An article from 2000 with lessons for today:

 

 

Building the Panama Canal was one of the greatest chapters in American history. It helps to reveal how America became a superpower, if we understand the complete history. Today we see an almost totally different spirit in our leaders. The meaning behind that change contains the strongest warning ever for America!

How much do Americans understand their own history? We are called the world’s greatest superpower ever! But how did we rise to such heights? Most Americans are ignorant of how it all happened. And that ignorance places us in grave danger!

Our building and now surrendering of the Panama Canal reveals a large part of the story. It gives a powerful insight into the rise and fall of the world’s greatest superpower.

President Theodore Roosevelt led our people to build the Panama Canal. He had a spirit and courage that I don’t see in our leaders today.

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Egypt and Libya to Join Iran’s Terror Network

From 2011 with relevancy for today:

 

The West still doesn’t understand how Iran rules the Middle East.

Iran, the number one state sponsor of terrorism by far, has bludgeoned its way into controlling Lebanon and Gaza, and has become the backbone of Syrian terrorism. Iran also bombed and butchered its way into the dominant role in Iraq and Afghanistan (after America thought it had won those wars), and now is empowering the Muslim Brotherhood terrorists to get control of Egypt.

Now America and the West have paved the way for another Iranian victory in Libya. We are rejoicing about the overthrow of Libya’s Muammar Qadhafi, while we should be mourning. Libyan chaos is now the ideal setting for Iran to bring that nation into its deadly terrorist web. The government that replaces Qadhafi will be a thousand times worse.

And you can prove this is going to happen! (More on that later.)

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Policy-Shaping Power in the Middle East (II)

DAMASCUS/BERLIN (Own report) – Today, Thursday, the first group of Bundeswehr soldiers will be leaving to go to war against the “Islamic State” (IS or Daesh). Participation in this war, which, according to government advisors will promote Germany to a “policy-shaping power in the Middle East,” will assure Berlin reinforced integration into the most important command headquarters of the western war coalition against the IS/Daesh. It will also provide the German government more influence in the international power struggle over the reorganization of the Middle East. The establishment of an international protectorate is one of the issues. The first negotiations between the government of President Bashar al Assad, the Syrian opposition, and insurgent militias are due to begin at the beginning of January. Currently, opponents of the Syrian government and insurgent militias are in Riyadh to prepare for these negotiations, with the German government’s approbation. Even though jihadist holy warriors are taking part in the Riyadh talks of the opposition, the northern Syrian Kurdish forces, which play a central role in the war against the IS/Daesh were among those not invited by the Saudi leadership.

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Putin’s boost in battle against ISIS: China preparing to ‘team up with Russia in Syria’

CHINA could be on the verge of teaming up with Russia to unleash its military might in Syria and destroy Islamic State (ISIS).

Russia has carried out a series of deadly airstrikes against the terrorist group over the last few days and Vladimir Putin has now sent the country’s most elite special forces team into the war zone.

And speculation is heightening that offensive will be bolstered by the China’s People’s Liberation Army, following a number of reports of military movements in the region backed up by strong words from a senior government member at a United Nations meeting.

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Chinese Military Experts and Troop Deployment to Syria : Joint Russian-Chinese Development

In addition to ground troops, a Chinese carrier, Liaoning-CV-16, was spotted just days ago at the Syrian port of Tartus. As America retreats from the Middle East and burns bridges with its once-regional allies, its enemies are filling in the vacuum and playing for keeps.

 

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The situation is heating up in Syria yet again. If reports coming from Almasdar News are accurate, another troop deployment will soon be about to take place – in addition to the 2,000 Russian troops who arrived earlier this week. This time, however, the troops are coming from China. Leith Fadel of Almasdar News (the Arab Source), reported that China has now decided to commit troops and military aircraft to Syria within the next six weeks. Although the reports have not been independently confirmed, the outlet cited a senior Syrian officer in the Syrian military for the claims regarding the Chinese plans. Fadel’s information has proven accurate many times in the past. Continue reading

A Chinese aircraft carrier docks at Tartus to support Russian-Iranian military buildup

America is essentially in the beginning stages of losing control of the Middle East thanks in part to Obama’s policy of retreat.

 

As US President Barack Obama welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping to the White House on Friday, Sept. 25, and spoke of the friendship between the two countries, the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning-CV-16 docked at the Syrian port of Tartus, accompanied by a guided missile cruiser. This is revealed exclusively by debkafile.

Beijing is not finding it hard to dance at two weddings, wooing the US for better relations, while at the same time backing Russia in its military intervention in Syria. Coupled with the warm smiles and handshakes exchanged at the lavish reception on the White House lawn, Beijing was clearly bent on showing muscle – not just in the South China Sea, but by allying itself with the Russian-Iranian political and military buildup in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad and his regime. Continue reading

The Clock Is Ticking On The U.S. Dollar As World’s Reserve Currency

The View From Hubbert’s Peak

In 1971, the American President put an end to a 2,500 year trend; the Wall Street Journal called it “Nixon’s Worst Weekend.” Considering the old boy had some really bad ones, this must have been something special. In August of that year (on Friday the 13th) it was decided that the U.S. would no longer pay out gold for its paper dollars. OPEC Ministers took note, and in September they met, deciding it would be necessary to collect more paper dollars, if possible, since gold was no longer on offer and oil was the only asset they had to sell.

The Wizard of Oz

The ultimate irony for this generation of investors is that, despite the occasional obligatory chant about ‘free markets’ and the wonders of capitalism, most of the day is spent obsessing about what the world’s most important central planner will do next. By Supreme Central Planner, I mean, the Fed. Continue reading

Five Chinese Navy Ships Are Operating in Bering Sea Off Alaska Coast

Chinese naval presence off Alaskan coast appears to be a first

Five Chinese navy ships are currently operating in the Bering Sea, off the coast of Alaska, the first time the U.S. military has seen such activity in the area, Pentagon officials said Wednesday.

The officials said they have been aware in recent days that three Chinese combat ships, a replenishment vessel and an amphibious ship were in the vicinity after observing them moving toward the Aleutian Islands, which are split between U.S. and Russian control. Continue reading