If You Wondered Why Energy Independence Is Important

The Wall Street Journal posted an article yesterday about the drone attack on Saudi oil fields. The Iran-allied Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen have claimed credit for the attack.

The article reports:

The production shutdown amounts to a loss of about 5.7 million barrels a day, the kingdom’s national oil company said, roughly 5% of the world’s daily production of crude oil.

Officials said they hoped to restore production to its regular level of 9.8 million barrels a day by Monday. Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said lost production would be offset through supplies of oil already on hand.

The strikes mark the latest in a series of attacks on the country’s petroleum assets in recent months, as tensions rise among Iran and its proxies like the Houthis, and the U.S. and partners like Saudi Arabia. The attacks could drive up oil prices if the Saudis can’t turn production back on quickly and potentially rattle investor confidence in an initial public offering of Saudi Aramco, the national oil company.

The article concludes:

The Yemen war is a central front in a new and more aggressive foreign policy overseen by Prince Mohammed, who launched the intervention with a coalition of allied states in 2015. Under the prince’s watch, the kingdom also applied a blockade on neighboring Qatar, detained Lebanon’s prime minister, and sent a team of men to kill exiled journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in 2018.

A conservative kingdom with a Sunni Muslim majority, Saudi Arabia has been an opponent of Iran in a struggle for power across the broader Middle East since the 1979 revolution that toppled Iran’s monarchy.

The attacks on Aramco’s facilities are poorly timed for Aramco’s coming IPO and pose a challenge to oil officials after a changing of the guard in their leadership. Aramco last week picked seven international banks to help it list on Saudi Arabia’s domestic exchange, an IPO that could value the company at about $2 trillion dollars and come before the end of the year.

There are a lot of things going on behind the scenes here. This is part of the conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. At their core, both the Saudis and the Iranians want to bring back the former caliphate. The Ottoman Empire (which was that caliphate) existed until the early 1900’s. Many Muslims want that Empire restored. The argument is over who will rule the caliphate when it is established. Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood are players in this conflict, as is ISIS. Jamal Khashoggi was a part of the Muslim Brotherhood. Descriptions of him as simply a journalist were misleading. Another part of this puzzle is the fact that Saudi Arabia is drawing closer to aligning with Israel because of the fear of a nuclear Iran. That also would be a cause for increased aggression from Iran.

Generally speaking, any terrorism that goes on in the Middle East can be traced back to Iran. They have been training and funding terrorists since the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

I have no idea what impact this will have on world oil prices. I do know that Saudi Arabia will work to repair the damage as soon as possible. I have no doubt that Iran is violating the sanctions on its oil exports, so if the price of oil rises significantly, Iran may be able to pull itself out of its current economic difficulties and calm its population. America will continue to prosper as oil prices rise because we are now a net exporter of oil rather than a net importer. Because of the policies of President Trump, we are in a very different situation than we were during the oil crisis of the 1970’s.

The Truth Is Slowly Coming Out

The murder of Jamal Khashoggi was a horrible crime. It should not have happened. However, some of the misleading reporting of the event is now coming to light. The first thing to remember when viewing this crime is that alliances in the Middle East are complex, sometimes illogical, and often hidden. All three of these elements play a role in this crime.

Breitbart posted an article by John Hayward on Wednesday with the title, “Hayward: Washington Post Admits Khashoggi Let Qatar ‘Draft Material’ for Columns.”

Breitbart reports:

The new Post article conceded that Khashoggi was a political activist and admitted his writing may have been “shaped” by the government of Qatar, including an executive linked to that government “drafting material” for Khashoggi’s columns.

Before diving into the Washington Post’s revelations, it is sadly necessary to restate for the record that nothing disclosed in the piece justifies his murder by Saudi agents at the consulate in Istanbul in October. Being honest about who Khashoggi was, and taking a closer look at connections he preferred to keep secret, is not the same thing as blithely accepting his murder.

The Washington Post reported on December 22:

Among Khashoggi’s friends in the United States were individuals with real or imagined affiliations with the Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood, and an Islamic advocacy organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, regarded warily for its support of the public uprisings of the Arab Spring. Khashoggi cultivated ties with senior officials in the Turkish government, also viewed with deep distrust by the rulers in Saudi Arabia.

After leaving the kingdom, Khashoggi sought to secure funding and support for an assortment of ideas that probably would have riled Middle East monarchs, including plans to create an organization that would publicly rank Arab nations each year by how they performed against basic metrics of freedom and democracy.

Perhaps most problematic for Khashoggi were his connections to an organization funded by Saudi Arabia’s regional nemesis, Qatar. Text messages between Khashoggi and an executive at Qatar Foundation International show that the executive, Maggie Mitchell Salem, at times shaped the columns he submitted to The Washington Post, proposing topics, drafting material and prodding him to take a harder line against the Saudi government. Khashoggi also appears to have relied on a researcher and translator affiliated with the organization, which promotes Arabic-language education in the United States.

Breitbart further reports:

Reaboi (David Reaboi at Security Studies Group) found it shocking the Washington Post would suddenly disclose these details and complicate the Khashoggi narrative unless the paper was trying to get out in front of even more damaging revelations to come.

“Rumors have floated inside the Beltway about the contents of Khashoggi’s text messages and, potentially, evidence of wire transfers from Qatar found at his residences in Turkey and in Virginia,” he noted.

To me, the following paragraphs are the most important in the Breitbart article:

If carefully chosen facts, heavily promoted narratives, and strategic falsehoods are the artillery of information warfare, then suppressed details are its stealth fighters and commando squads. Reaboi found the Saudis incredibly clumsy and perhaps breathtakingly arrogant to go radio-silent for a few days after Khashoggi’s death and leave the information warfare battlefield wide open for Turkey and Qatar, which effortlessly seized control of the Western media narrative.

Turkey effectively controlled the entire Western media apparatus with strategic leaks about the case, with some wild stories “confirmed” by anonymous Arab officials Reaboi suspects of being Qatari.

The story behind the death of Khashoggi may continue to unfold.

Some Interesting Background On Recent Events

I think most of the world has concluded now that Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week. That is unfortunate, but what they are not telling you is who Jamal Khashoggi actually was.

A website called spectatorus provides some insight into what was behind the murder. The information they provide is not surprising.

The article outlines the events surrounding the murder of Khasshoggi:

A one-time regime insider turned critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — the de facto head of the Saudi kingdom which tolerates no criticism whatsoever — Khashoggi had been living in Washington for the previous year in self-imposed exile amid a crackdown on independent voices in his homeland.

He had become the darling of western commentators on the Middle East. With almost two million Twitter followers, he was the most famous political pundit in the Arab world and a regular guest on the major TV news networks in Britain and the United States. Would the Saudis dare to cause him harm? It turns out that the answer to that question was ‘You betcha.’

Following uneventful visits to the consulate and, earlier, the Saudi embassy in Washington, Khashoggi was lured into a murderous plan so brazen, so barbaric, that it would seem far-fetched as a subplot in a John le Carré novel. He went inside the Istanbul consulate, but failed to emerge. Turkish police and intelligence officials claimed that a team of 15 hitmen carrying Saudi diplomatic passports arrived the same morning on two private jets. Their convoy of limousines arrived at the consulate building shortly before Khashoggi did.

Their not-so-secret mission? To torture, then execute, Khashoggi, and videotape the ghastly act for whoever had given the order for his merciless dispatch. Khashoggi’s body, Turkish officials say, was dismembered and packed into boxes before being whisked away in a black van with darkened windows. The assassins fled the country.

The Saudi government does not handle criticism well. But there is more to the story:

In truth, Khashoggi never had much time for western-style pluralistic democracy. In the 1970s he joined the Muslim Brotherhood, which exists to rid the Islamic world of western influence. He was a political Islamist until the end, recently praising the Muslim Brotherhood in the Washington Post. He championed the ‘moderate’ Islamist opposition in Syria, whose crimes against humanity are a matter of record. Khashoggi frequently sugarcoated his Islamist beliefs with constant references to freedom and democracy. But he never hid that he was in favour of a Muslim Brotherhood arc throughout the Middle East. His recurring plea to bin Salman in his columns was to embrace not western-style democracy, but the rise of political Islam which the Arab Spring had inadvertently given rise to. For Khashoggi, secularism was the enemy.

He had been a journalist in the 1980s and 1990s, but then became more of a player than a spectator. Before working with a succession of Saudi princes, he edited Saudi newspapers. The exclusive remit a Saudi government–appointed newspaper editor has is to ensure nothing remotely resembling honest journalism makes it into the pages. Khashoggi put the money in the bank — making a handsome living was always his top priority. Actions, anyway, speak louder than words.

Khashoggi was at one point a columnist for The Washington Post. Were his ties to the Muslim Brotherhood made public at the time? Did The Washington Post purposely hire a member of the Muslim Brotherhood to write columns for them?

The goal of the Muslim Brotherhood is to establish a worldwide caliphate under Muslim rule. For a number of years they have operated undercover in America working toward the goal of creating a Muslim government here. For further information see the Holy Land Foundation Trial information and exhibits (here).

Mr. Khashoggi probably died a horrendous death which is not right, but keep in mind that he would have celebrated had what happened to him happened to an infidel. Much of the Middle East does not play by the same rules as western culture does.