The Middle East Heats Up

Yesterday the U.K. Daily Mail reported that Saudi Arabia had shot down a missile from Yemen aimed at one of the kingdom’s major international airports on the outskirts of Riyadh.

This is a map showing the geographical relationship between Saudi Arabia and Yemen:

The article reports:

Saudi Arabia said its forces intercepted a ballistic missile fired by Iran-backed rebels in Yemen toward one of the kingdom’s major international airports on the outskirts of Riyadh. 

A Saudi-led coalition launched a war against the Houthi rebels and their allies in March 2015 that grinds on today, a campaign overseeing by Crown Prince Mohammed.

The conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia is an expression of the Sunni vs. Shiite conflict. Both the Sunnis and the Shiites want a caliphate reminiscent of the Ottoman Empire covering the Middle East. The dispute is over who will lead it–the Sunnis or the Shiites.

The article further reports:

Only hours before the missile was shout out of the sky, Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri resigned from his post in a televised address from Riyadh, offering a vicious tirade against Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah group for what he said was their meddling in Arab affairs.

‘Iran’s arms in the region will be cut off,’ Hariri said. 

Iran-backed Yemeni Huthi rebels claimed responsibility for firing missile, which was targeting the airport, the Huthis’ Al-Masirah television said.

Yemen, Saudi Arabia’s southern neighbour, has been ripped apart by a war between the Saudi-backed government of president Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and Huthi rebels backed by Iran. 

A Saudi-led coalition became involved in 2015 to help prop up Hadi’s government after Shiite Huthis seized the capital Sanaa.

The missile was knocked down by the Patriot missile system that the Saudis bought from America.

The Threat Posed By America’s Looming Energy Independence

One America News posted a story today about a comment made by Mohammad Barkindo, OPEC secretary-general.

The article reports:

OPEC and other oil producers may need to take “some extraordinary measures” next year to rebalance the oil market, the OPEC secretary-general said on Sunday.

“There is a growing consensus that … a rebalancing process is under way. We are gradually but steadily achieving our common and noble objectives,” Mohammad Barkindo told reporters at the India Energy Forum organized by CERAWeek in New Delhi.

“To sustain this into next year, some extraordinary measures may have to be taken in order to restore this stability on a sustainable basis going forward,” he said, without elaborating.

Saudi Arabia and Russia helped secure a deal between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and 10 rival producers to cut output by about 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) until the end of March 2018 in an effort to reduce a glut.

Barkindo said consultations were under way for the extension of the OPEC-led pact beyond March 2018 and that more oil producing nations may join the supply pact, possibly at the next meeting of OPEC in Vienna on Nov. 30.

He also said that Nigeria and Libya, who are exempted from the pact, “are making progress towards full recovery” of production, after which they could join the OPEC-led agreement.

Translated loosely, there is a glut of oil on the world market, and the price has dropped. America is less dependent on foreign energy and has even been an exporter of crude oil since 2014 (see article here). The noose around America’s neck that OPEC exploited in the 1970’s no longer exists. OPEC will attempt to put that noose back, but I think it is too late.

Generally speaking, the countries that have been hurt by the drop in oil prices are not countries that celebrate freedom for their citizens–Russia and Venezuela to name a few. American energy independence is a good thing–both for America and for the world.

Changing Alliances In The Middle East

The Washington Post is reporting today that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain have announced that they will cut air, sea and land links with Qatar, which hosts a forward base for the U.S. military’s Central Command and is home to the widely watched Al Jazeera network.

The article reports:

Some other countries later joined the four-nation bloc in cutting ties with Qatar, which is also the venue for the 2022 World Cup.

The feud — the most serious in decades among some the region’s most key Western allies — has been simmering for years as Qatar increasingly flexed its political muscle across the region, including backing the Muslim Brotherhood.

Qatar’s outreach often raised conflict with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both of whom have sought to exert their own influence across the Arab world.

CBN News reported today:

“[Qatar] embraces multiple terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at disturbing stability in the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS and al Qaeda, and promotes the message and schemes of these groups through their media constantly,” Saudi’s state news agency SPA wrote.

…For years, Doha has been a strong backer of Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood ruling the Gaza Strip, and the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.

The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928 in Ismailia, Egypt, is often referred to as the “father” of today’s Islamic terror movements.

In 2014, after a turbulent year under long-time Muslim Brotherhood devotee Mohammed Morsi, Egyptians overwhelmingly elected former military chief Fattah Abdel el-Sisi as president.

Slowly, el-Sisi began to address Egypt’s dire economic straits while simultaneously routing Islamic terror cells embedded in the Sinai Peninsula, which had flourished during Morsi’s short-lived term in office.

Egypt, the Arab’s world’s largest country, is 80 percent Muslim, but the population rejected the Morsi administration’s efforts to impose stricter Islamic lifestyle on the country.

There is a certain amount of irony here. Evidently, Qatar has backed the wrong group of terrorists. Saudi Arabia is the home of Wahhabism, a militant form of Islam that gave us the men who attacked America on 9/11. However, our alliance with Saudi Arabia is based on the fact that they are willing to fight ISIS and that they have supported the trading of oil in American dollars. The Saudis are also very actively working behind the scenes to prevent America from becoming energy independent and ruining the monopoly that OPEC has held for so long. If you look at the funding of some of the environmental groups that have opposed drilling in various places and various pipelines, you will find Saudi money.

At any rate, President Trump has had a major impact on relationships in the Middle East. It will be interesting to see in the future is these new alliances work to curtail the funding and activities of terrorists.

Losing Your Monopoly…Slowly…

Investor’s Business Daily posted an article today about the recent influences on oil prices.

The article reports:

As the mad dash back to the U.S. oil patch has even global oil giants like Chevron (CVX) and Exxon Mobil (XOM) turning their focus to shale, U.S. oil production is on pace to exceed peak production levels in July and could hit 10 million barrels per day in August.

Those milestones loom as OPEC and top non-OPEC producers weigh whether to extend by another six months their agreement to reduce output by 1.8 million barrels a day. The cartel’s next meeting is scheduled for May 25.

The initial pact reached late last year lifted oil prices and encouraged U.S. producers to pump more oil. The extra supply has since weighed on prices, which have fallen more than 10% since the start of the year. But hedges allowed U.S. firms to lock in the higher, earlier prices, and they have continued ramping up output.

U.S. crude futures sank 4.8% to settle at $45.52 a barrel on Thursday, plunging to a five-month low and dropping below the price seen before OPEC reached its production pact in late November.

The result of developing American energy independence by developing America‘s fossil fuel resources is lower fuel costs for Americans, better national security for Americans, and a better negotiating position with the ‘oil bullies’ of the world.

The chart below illustrates what is happening to the worldwide oil market:

There may come a day in the future when green energy is the dominant energy source, but right now the world economy is essentially based on fossil fuel. Until someone comes along and invents a green energy source that can provide energy 24 hours a day and be cost effective, the world will revolve on fossil fuel. Because our economy is based on fossil fuel, it is good to have some leverage against those who are able to deny their citizens basic human rights without being challenged because they have a monopoly on fossil fuel.

 

 

 

An Obvious Solution That Should Have Been Implemented Years Ago

Reuters is reporting today that President Trump and Saudi King Salman have agreed to support safe zones in Syria and Yemen.

The article reports:

The White House statement said the two leaders also agreed on the need to address “Iran‘s destabilizing regional activities.” SPA confirmed the report but made no specific mention of Iran.

Both countries share views about Iranian policies in the region, the Saudi source said, suggesting Trump agreed with Riyadh’s suspicion of what it sees as Tehran‘s growing influence in the Arab world. Iran denies it meddles in Arab countries.

The White House statement said the two also discussed what it called an invitation from the king for Trump “to lead a Middle East effort to defeat terrorism and to help build a new future, economically and socially,” for Saudi Arabia and the region.

The two also discussed the Muslim Brotherhood, the senior Saudi source said, adding in a reference to the late al Qaeda leader, “it was mentioned that Osama bin Laden was recruited at an early stage” by the organization.

This is the right solution to the refugee problem, but it is not a perfect solution. There is no perfect solution. The Islamic culture in the Middle East is one of violence and cruelty. Western civilization does not condone pedophilia, the subjugation of women, or honor killing. These are things that have been happening in the Arab countries in the Middle East for a long time.  I wonder what will be necessary to keep the safe zones safe. One of the ideas in setting up safe zones is that when the violence ends, people can go back to their home countries and rebuild. I am not convinced that the violence will end. Iran’s goal is to set up a world-wide caliphate with Shiite Muslims ruling. Saudi Arabia is Sunni Muslim and will never agree to that. Isis is largely composed of Saddam Hussein‘s old political allies, also Sunni  Muslim–a group known for its violence and cruelty. The battle between the Sunnis and Shiites has waged for a long time, and I am not optimistic about it ever ending. I am also concerned that the dictators in control in the areas the refugees are fleeing have killed any potential leaders they saw as a threat to their power.

This is a better solution than sending the refugees to places where the culture is totally alien to what they are used to. Europe has experienced a wave of crimes against women because of the number of Middle Eastern migrants that have entered the continent. Germany, in particular, has had to change the rules for public swimming pools, music festivals, and other celebrations. Things that are acceptable in Muslim cultures are simply not acceptable in western culture. That is something we need to consider when we discuss how to help the refugees from the Middle East.

 

Making The World Less Safe As You Head Out The Door

Yesterday the U.K. Mail posted an article about President Obama’s plan to release at least eighteen more Guantanamo detainees before he leaves office in two weeks. Four of those detainees will be sent to Saudi Arabia, not exactly a hotbed of moderate Islam.

The article reports:

Obama will likely focus on moving detainees who have been ‘cleared for transfer’ – a group that includes the alleged head of al Qaeda‘s bomb-manufacturing operation in eastern Afghanistan, the head of al Qaeda’s Tunisian faction in Afghanistan, and senior weapons trainers.

Those held in Guantanamo in recent years have been dubbed ‘the worst of the worst’ by military and intelligence officials. 

…The list of ‘recommended for transfer’ prisoners includes a number of top al Qaeda operatives and commanders.

…Some of the recommended transfers have also vowed to return to jihad if they are ever released, according to reports from US military officials. They have also threatened to assassinate the U.S. president, kill American citizens, and attack other world leaders who are allied with the West.

Please follow the link above to the article. The article includes a list and details of the prisoners now cleared for release. Anyone with an eye toward national security should be appalled by that list–these prisoners include an expert bomb-maker  and others who are skillful at planning terrorist attacks. If they were run-of-the-mill prisoners who had done the things they had done other than in the context of terrorism, they would never be let out of prison, so why is President Obama so anxious to set them free? There is little doubt about their crimes and tendency to continue in terrorism. In World War II, they would have been tried in a military tribunal and executed.  In America, they would have been sentenced to life without parole.

How would an American who had purposefully killed innocent Muslims be treated by the Saudis, the Iranians, the Afghans? Would he be treated humanely? Would his religious dietary requirements be met? Would he be given tennis courts? How long would he stay alive?

Guantanamo serves a purpose. Intelligence sources outside of the Obama Administration have stated that the recidivism rate among Guantanamo prisoners who have been released is probably higher than thirty percent. We need to remember that many of these terrorists have been trained in terrorism from a young age (see THE BLOOD OF LAMBS by Kamal Saleem). Terrorism is all they know how to do. It is unrealistic to believe that they can be retrained. The culture they have been raised in is brutal, and that culture has become part of who they are. To ask a country such as Saudi Arabia, which is steeped in that culture, to retrain them is ridiculous. That’s like sending a thief to a pickpocket convention to learn how to make a living. He might not learn the lesson you wanted him to learn.

The actions of President Obama as he leaves office make the world less safe for all of us.

This Is What We Are Up Against

This article is not a joke. I found it in a number of places. The source I have chosen to use is World News Daily Report.

World News Daily Report posted an article on June 7 that included the following:

Riyadh | In an unprecedented ruling, a panel of Saudi scientists has concluded that women are actually mammals, granting them the same rights as other mammal species such as camels, dromedaries and even goats.

The verdict, which fell just hours before the International Women’s Day, is considered “historic” by some experts and advocacy groups for women’s rights.

“This is a great leap forward for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia,” concludes Jane Austin, spokeswoman for the Women’s Liberation Action Network. “It may seem too little, too late, but it is truly a milestone event for all women in the region,” she says, visibly excited. “From now on, women will be considered as members of the mammal class, whereas before women shared the legal status of an object, similar to that of a home appliance,” she admits.

It is good to know that if I were ever to travel to Saudi Arabia, I would not be valued on the same level as a home appliance.

The article further reports:

The recent verdict could completely upset all laws currently enforced in Saudi Arabia believes Jillian Birch, spokeswoman at Amnesty International.

“This verdict shows the incredible progress the women’s rights movement has made in the past 50 years,” she admitted in a press conference this morning. “Finally, women will no longer be simply considered as objects without souls, but as full-fledged mammals, with the same rights as other animals of their species such as camels and goats,” she said, visibly emotional. “Women are still far from being considered 100% human, but their condition will improve drastically with this decision,” she firmly believes.

The fact that women “are still far from being considered 100% human” tells you all you need to know.

As the percentage of Muslims increases in America, there will be more pressure put on American lawmakers to institute Sharia Law. Sharia Law is NOT compatible with the U.S. Constitution ( which our lawmakers have taken an oath to uphold). Sharia Law is not some harmless thing that can be put in place to make Muslims feel more at home. Sharia Law includes honor killings, female genital mutilation, discrimination against women, killing infidels, killing homosexuals, and having multiple wives–just to name a few items that might be a problem.

The article concludes:

“It could create significant turmoil in the current legal state of affairs and the judiciary system of Saudi Arabia,” says political analyst specialized in the Middle East, Anthony Bochstein. “If before women had the same rights as a chair or a table and were seen more as individual property, they now have an equivalent status to certain animal species, and thus must receive, at the very least, feeding, watering and be conferred a minimum of attention and respect, which was not the case previously,” he explains.

According to the expert panel that ruled on the matter, women are still devoid of a soul but have been shown to possess qualities common to the mammal species, which would explain their ability to procreate and breastfeed, as well as why they are equipped with seven cervical vertebrae, a characteristic unique to the mammal species.

Thanks a lot.

This May Get Very Ugly Very Quickly

Yesterday The New York Post posted an article about the 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report that still have not been released. Did anyone really believe that in the almost 15 years since the attack some of the information in those 28 pages wouldn’t leak out? The question is, “Why are they leaking out now?” In my years of blogging, I have become rather cynical. There will be consequences to the leaking of this information. One consequence will be to make George W. Bush look bad (in an election year), interesting. Another consequence will be to damage our relationship (such as it is) with Saudi Arabia (oddly enough this happens at a time the Obama Administration is cozying up to Iran, the arch enemy of Saudi Arabia). The sword that the Saudis have always held over America’s head is the stability of the U.S. dollar. The Saudis have been the OPEC member that has insisted that oil be traded in American dollars. That is one of the few reasons America’s debt has not collapsed the American economy. Since Congress (and most of our recent Presidents) are responsible for that debt, they have an interest in not collapsing the economy–they would be blamed. Therefore, Washington looks the other way when the Saudis are involved in terrorism–even when the terrorism is aimed at America.

The article at The New York Post reports:

Case agents I’ve interviewed at the Joint Terrorism Task Forces in Washington and San Diego, the forward operating base for some of the Saudi hijackers, as well as detectives at the Fairfax County (Va.) Police Department who also investigated several 9/11 leads, say virtually every road led back to the Saudi Embassy in Washington, as well as the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles.

Yet time and time again, they were called off from pursuing leads. A common excuse was “diplomatic immunity.”

…9/11 Commission member John Lehman was interested in the hijackers’ connections to Bandar, his wife and the Islamic affairs office at the embassy. But every time he tried to get information on that front, he was stonewalled by the White House.

“They were refusing to declassify anything having to do with Saudi Arabia,” Lehman was quoted as saying in the book, “The Commission.”

Did the US scuttle the investigation into foreign sponsorship of 9/11 to protect Bandar and other Saudi elite?

“Things that should have been done at the time were not done,” said Rep. Walter Jones, the North Carolina Republican who’s introduced a bill demanding President Obama release the 28 pages. “I’m trying to give you an answer without being too explicit.”

A Saudi reformer with direct knowledge of embassy involvement is more forthcoming.

“We made an ally of a regime that helped sponsor the attacks,” said Ali al-Ahmed of the Washington-based Institute for Gulf Affairs. “I mean, let’s face it.”

Because of the recent leaks, the release of the 28 pages may be somewhat anti-climatic by the time it happens. I do, however, suspect that there are many less than obvious reasons why President Obama will release these pages (as he has promised to in the next sixty days).

Our Relationship With Saudi Arabia Is Getting Complicated

There is a price America pays for not being energy independent. It impacts the cost of living in America, but it also has a very negative impact on our freedom to make decisions about who are friends are around the world. Saudi Arabia is an example of one friend who has done some questionable things. The good thing that the Saudis have been responsible for is making sure oil is traded in American dollars. That is one of a few reasons America has not gone bankrupt. However, the Saudis are also a major player in the Wahabi sect of Islam. This is the sect that was responsible for 9/11 and is a major fund source for mosques and schools in America. There was a recent dust-up in Newton, Massachusetts, about a Saudi-funded social studies program that was teaching things about the Middle East that simply are not true. There are also a lot of questions about what is being taught in Saudi-funded mosques in America.

There are a few recent events that illustrate how complex America’s relationship with the Saudis is. The first event has to do with the families of the victims of 9/11 who want to sue Saudi Arabia as the source of the attack.

The U.K. Daily Mail reports the following:

Officials in Saudi Arabia have reportedly told the Obama administration they will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars of American assets if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible for any role in the September 11 attacks.

The warning was delivered by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir last month during a visit to Washington, the New York Times reported.

The minister said his country would sell up to $750 billion in US treasury securities and other assets before the bill puts them in jeopardy. 

These people play hard ball.

The article cites a New York Times article that states:

The administration has tried to stop Congress from passing the legislation, a bipartisan Senate bill.

Al-Juberi purportedly informed the lawmakers during a trip to Washington that Saudi Arabia would be forced to sell a huge chunk of American financial assets on the world market, fearing the legislation could become law and U.S. courts would then freeze the assets.

The Times said Riyadh’s resolve to actually deliver on the threat is dubious, since selling off those assets would be technically challenging and would damage the dollar, against which the Saudi national currency is pegged. 

Under the current US law, foreign nations have a degree of immunity from being sued in American courts.

I don’t agree with The New York Times. I think this move by the Saudis would sink the American economy.

Also keep in mind that there are 28 pages of the 9/11 Congressional investigation that are still secret. Popular wisdom states that those pages have to do with the role of Saudi Arabia in 9/11. It will be interesting to see if those pages get released. President Obama has said that he will release them sometime in the next sixty days.

Meanwhile, President Obama has released nine Guantanamo prisoners to Saudi Arabia.

The Hill posted an article yesterday about the release. The article included the following statement by the Pentagon:

“The United States is grateful to the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility,” the Pentagon statement said. “The United States coordinated with government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to ensure these transfers took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures.”

I could fertilize my garden with the above statement. First of all, the Saudi government is not known for its humane treatment of prisoners. Second of all, if Saudi Arabia is interested in closing down Guantanamo, they are interested because they want their terrorists back. This is ridiculous, and it is a shame that the Pentagon has been politicized under President Obama to the point where they would make that statement.

The main job of  a government is to keep its people safe. It seems as if that is the only job the Obama Administration is not interested in doing.

 

 

A Double Standard Abounds

For whatever reason, the Obama Administration seems to want to be Iran‘s best friend. The Administration is willing to disregard totally any human rights violations in Iran and dismiss any aggressive military action by Iran in an instant. This represents a major shift in America‘s Middle East Policy. The results are interesting. Saudi Arabia and Israel are beginning to form an alliance with other Middle Eastern countries that fear a nuclear Iran. The countries in the Middle East are much more aware of Iran’s military aspirations than the Obama Administration seems to be.

Tensions in the Middle East increased this past weekend as Saudi Arabia executed forty-seven people. Those executed included Shia cleric and political activist Nimr al-Nimr. The execution resulted in protests in Shiite countries in the Middle East and the burning of the Saudi embassy in Iran. The thing to remember here is that any protest in Iran that is allowed to proceed was sponsored by the government. Iranian citizens who don’t show up to approved protests can face unpleasant consequences.

CNN reported today:

Hillary Clinton said Sunday Saudi Arabia’s recent execution of 47 people, including Shia Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr raises “serious questions” that the U.S. needs to ask the country’s government.

“Clearly this raises serious questions that we have to raise directly with the Saudi government,” Clinton said in response to a Derry town hall question about how she would handle the situation as president.

“We have governments we work with on a number of issues whose policies and values are antithetical to ours, to be just blunt about it. And yet who also have certain interests with us that we are involved in,” she said.

Clinton said she joined other leaders in “statements of concern” about the executions, specifically calling out the Obama administration, European governments and human rights groups.

Our alliance with Saudi Arabia has been somewhat prickly. There are still twenty-eight pages of the 9/11 report that are classified, and many who have seen the report but are not allowed to discuss the content of those pages have implied that they do relate to our relationship with Saudi Arabia. The hijackers on 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia.

When we form alliances with non-western countries, we always run the risk of supporting behavior that is contrary to our basic beliefs. Iran throws homosexuals off of buildings, Saudi Arabia refused to allow women to drive, and building Christian churches is not permitted in either Iran or Saudi Arabia.

As much as I feel that Saudi Arabia’s human rights record is deplorable and I feel that they are funding a large part of radical Islam, I do not consider it wise to shift our alliance from Saudi Arabia to Iran. Iran has been directly targeting Americans for decades. Saudi Arabia has simply turned a blind eye to the Wahabi Islam that has grown up within its borders.

In his first inaugural address, Thomas Jefferson stated the following:

Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations: entangling alliances with none.”

When I first encountered that statement, I totally disagreed. Now I see the wisdom of it. However, I would amend it to recommend that we form necessary alliances only with people who share our values. I don’t know how well that would work in today’s world, but obviously what we are currently doing is not working very well.

 

Why It Is Difficult To Make Peace With Palestinian Arabs

This picture was posted at Power Line today.

StoneThrowerThis is one of 4,000 dolls dressed as Palestinian stone throwers that were seized by Israeli customs at the port of Haifa. The shipment is reported to have originated in the United Arab Emirates.

The Guardian posted the following description of the dolls:

Each of the identical stuffed toys wore red, green, black and white scarves, and their heads were covered by keffiyehs inscribed with the words “Jerusalem is ours” and “Jerusalem, here we come”. In the doll’s raised hand was a grey object clearly meant to resemble a stone.

Teaching your children to cover their faces and throw stones is not behavior that will lead to peace. Until this sort of behavior ends, there really is no point in having peace talks.

While We Were Watching The Pope Visit America…

On September 23rd, The Daily Caller posted an article about Abdul Shalabi, a Guantanamo detainee and former bodyguard of Osama bin Laden. Shalabi has been released from Guantanamo and sent to Saudi Arabia.

The article reports:

On December 15, 2001, Pakistani authorities captured Shalabi along with 31 other al-Qaida fighters, who were fleeing from Tora Bora, Osama bin Laden’s mountain complex.

Near the end of December, authorities transferred Shalabi over to U.S. custody, who then was sent to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where he stayed for 13 years.

At the time, the assessment determined Shalabi was too dangerous to release, but the board changed its mind in June, clearing him for release.

One wonders what caused the board to change its mind. There are now 114 prisoners left at Guantanamo. Fifty-two of those have been cleared for release.

The article further reports:

There are 52 detainees left who have been cleared for release. The rest require further detention. President Barack Obama still wants to close the prison before his term is up, and so the Pentagon has investigated domestic facilities to hold detainees in the long-term if the administration manages to shutter Gitmo.

The war against radical jihad is unlike any other war ever fought. The war is not only against America–it is a war against western civilization. It is a war that will not end until the jihadists realize that they have no hope of winning and are not gaining power. Until then there is no reason to close Guantanamo or to let any of the remaining prisoners leave. The actions of President Obama in regard to Guantanamo will cost American lives–either in the near future or the distant future. In closing Guantanamo and letting its prisoners free, President Obama is neglecting his duty to protect the American people. The President will be in office for another year. Hopefully the damage he has done to the country can be repaired after he leaves office. However, that depends on the votes of the American public.

Money Won’t Make This Better

The Washington Free Beacon reported yesterday on the efforts of Secretary of State John Kerry to sweeten the Iran deal for Israel and Saudi Arabia. Frankly, there are some things you just can’t sweeten.

The article reports:

Kerry admits that, despite the deal, Iran will continue to back terrorist groups across the globe and promises to boost military support and funding to Israel and Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The letter comes in response to concerns among lawmakers, Israel, and other Gulf region allies that the nuclear accord will boost the Islamic Republic’s support for terrorism, while leaving traditional U.S. allies on the defense.

“Important questions have been raised concerning the need to increase security assistance to our allies and partners in the region and to enhance our efforts to counter Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region,” Kerry writes. “We share the concern expressed by many in Congress regarding Iran’s continued support for terrorist and proxy groups throughout the region, its propping up of the Assad regime in Syria, its efforts to undermine the stability of its regional neighbors, and the threat it poses to Israel.”

The Obama administration, Kerry claims, is under “no illusion that this behavior will change following implementation of the JCPOA,” or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

If the behavior of Iran will not change following the implementation of the JCPOA, then why are we agreeing to the JCPOA? Wouldn’t it be better to refuse to lift any sanctions or give Iran any money until the leaders of Iran change their behavior (and maybe stop shouting “Death to Israel” and “Death to America“)? I admit that I am only a lowly blogger, but that seems rather obvious to me. Why are we going to give Iran access to millions of dollars to buy more and better weapons to kill American soldiers?

The article reports:

One senior Congressional aide who received the letter said that it is a clear attempt by the administration to placate regional fears about the deal.

“Let’s not be fooled about what the letter represents. This desperate move to placate Israel and our Gulf partners is a tacit acknowledgment that Iran will expand its international terror regime thanks to the nuclear agreement,” the source said. “If this is such a good deal, why does the administration feel compelled to immediately offer arms packages as compensation to our regional allies?”

“No amount of conventional weapons can neutralize the threat posed by the mullahs acquiring nuclear weapons,” the source said. “This type of appeasement is a slap in the face to our closets allies and a wink-wink to the dictators in Tehran.”

Obviously there are people in our government who understand the dangers of this agreement. Unfortunately, there are also many people in our government who choose not to listen to them. I believe this agreement will be able to get through the games being played in the Senate and will go into force. I also believe that the day that happens will be a truly sad day for America. We have turned our backs on our friends and chosen to fund our enemies. That is not wisdom.

The Twenty-Eight Pages

Yesterday The New York Post posted an article about a lawsuit that is moving forward   against the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The lawsuit is asking that the twenty-eight pages of the 9/11 Commission Report that have remained classified be revealed.

It is generally understood that the twenty-eight pages have to do with the role of Saudi Arabia in the 9/11 attacks.

The article reports:

During a July 30 court hearing, lawyers for 9/11 victims’ families and insurers revealed that the staffers’ most serious allegations against the Saudis were stricken from the final draft of the 9/11 Commission report as well.

“They were removed at the 11th hour by the senior staff,” plaintiffs’ attorney Sean Carter of Cozen O’Connor said, explaining that the decision was a “political matter.”

Carter said that the staff investigators “felt they had documented a direct link between the Saudi government and the Sept. 11 plot based on the explosive material they had uncovered concerning the activities of Fahad al-Thumairy and Omar al-Bayoumi.”

Thumairy was employed at the time as a Saudi religious cleric and diplomat in Los Angeles, while Bayoumi was employed by the Saudi Arabian civil aviation authority in San Diego.

The suit charges that two of the Saudi hijackers, who first entered the United States in Los Angeles before traveling to Washington to attack the Pentagon, were funded through the Saudi embassy and consulate — and that they were handled primarily by Saudi “agent” Bayoumi while staying in San Diego.

It would be very nice to have these pages unclassified so that the public could draw its own conclusions about the events on September 11, 2001. This might also be a good time to mention that our alliance with Saudi Arabia is based on two things. First of all, the Saudis have helped keep the American dollar as the exchange medium in the trading of oil. That is one of the reasons the American dollar has not fallen under the weight of the debt incurred by overspending. The second basis for the alliance is America’s dependence on foreign oil. If you are uncomfortable with the alliance with a country that does not allow the building of Christian churches and does not allow women any sort of equality, then you need to support the development of America’s natural gas and oil resources.

It is quite possible that Saudi Arabia played a major role in the events of 9/11, but until America becomes energy independent, we will continue our alliance with the Saudis. That is the price of dependency.

We Need To Follow This Example

Bloomberg.com reported on Wednesday on a new phenomena in the Middle East and some North African countries. It seems that the countries that criticized Israel for building security fences are now building their own security fences.

This is the picture from the article:

Terrorism is a world-wide threat. Fences will not end terrorism, nor will it keep out all terrorists, but it will deter a few. We need to deter as many as possible, and fences are one weapon in the fight.

The article reports:

“The Middle East and North Africa is now the most walled region in the world,” said Said Saddiki, a professor of International Relations and International Law at Al-Ain University of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi. They range from “fences inside cities to anti-migrant walls and separation barriers to counter-insurgency” barricades, he said.

The builders have often been spurred by fear of Islamic State, after its conquests in Iraq and Syria and the group’s ability to inspire Muslim extremists elsewhere, or concern over failed or failing nations next door. The jihadist group has built its own walls to fend off attackers and keep people from escaping, including around the Iraqi cities of Tal Afar and Mosul. Syria’s embattled government has placed concrete shields around areas of regime support in Homs.

Even terrorist-flagship Iran has built a fence to keep out unwanted visitors from Afghanistan and Pakistan. How ironic is that?

The Beginning Of A Middle Eastern Nuclear Arms Race

The signing of a nuclear agreement with Iran will mark the beginning of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt understand Iran’s desire to build a world-wide caliphate under Sharia Law. The also understand that the possession of a nuclear weapon by Iran will help make that possible. Israel has had nuclear weapons for a long time, but has never been a threat to its neighbors–Israel has always made it clear that its nuclear weapons (which they only recently admitted having) are for defensive purposes only. Considering the neighborhood they live in, it is probably a really good thing for them to have nuclear weapons.

There will be two major changes in the Middle East as a result of this agreement. The first is that within a fairly short time, Saudi Arabia will become a nuclear power. I suspect Egypt will not be far behind. The second result is that Iran will now have the money to buy the delivery system for the nuclear bomb that they will build within the next few years (despite this agreement). We have seen this play before–it resulted in North Korea going nuclear. We have not learned the lessons of history.

Here are some quotes from various news sources on the treaty:

From PJMedia:

This deal is an historic disaster. Not only does it legitimize Iran’s nuclear program, but it goes far to confer legitimacy on Iran’s regime — the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. For the U.S., it’s a variation of running up massive U.S. government debt, and leaving the next American president — as well as America’s people, and our allies — to face the real cost. Which in this case involves nuclear weapons.

From Yahoo News:

President Hassan Rouhani told Iranians in a live televised address that “all our objectives” have been met by a nuclear deal agreed on Tuesday with world powers.

In doing so he said “God has accepted the nation’s prayers”, and the accord would lift “inhumane and tyrannical sanctions” that have caused years of economic distress to people and businesses.

From CBN News:

The agreement leaves Iran’s nuclear facilities intact and allows it to continue to enrich uranium, a deal that satisfied its leaders.

Iran also achieved its most sought-after reward: lifting economic sanctions. The economic benefits are potentially massive. It stands to receive more than $100 billion in assets frozen overseas and an end to a European oil embargo and various financial restrictions on Iranian banks.

 We will wait and see if Congress and the United Nations approve this deal, I hope they do not, but I am not optimistic. This is not a step toward peace–it is step toward war.

 

Losing Friends In The Middle East

Yesterday The Wall Street Journal posted an article about shifting alliances in the Middle East. The article pointed out that Israel and Saudi Arabia have both had strained relationships with America under President Obama.

The article comments on both of these relationships:

Each relationship would become special in its own way: one based on the need to protect access to Saudi oil and stability in the Persian Gulf; the other driven by support for a Jewish state in the wake of the Nazi genocide and what would increasingly be seen as shared values and interests with the region’s only democracy. Over the years there were significant tensions in both relationships, but more predictability and consistency were demonstrated than change.

Shifts in the Middle East have produced unprecedented stresses in both relationships. The Arab Spring, particularly the fall of Hosni Mubarak and perceptions that the Obama administration had facilitated his ouster, alienated the stability-driven Saudis. Growing tensions between the Netanyahu government and the Obama administration on settlements and the peace process strained U.S.-Israeli ties.

There are still read questions about the role President Obama played in the ouster of Hosni Mubarak and the support of the Muslim Brotherhood government that replaced him. When the government of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was ousted, Washington voiced its displeasure.

The article concludes:

The administration’s view that Iran may hold the key to stability on the nuclear issue, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen has opened a divide with traditional allies who see things quite differently. As the administration looks more and more toward Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia will look beyond Barack Obama–biding their time, furthering their own agendas, and hoping that the next president, regardless of party, will see Tehran in a different light.

Unfortunately it will take some time to repair the damage done both internationally and nationally by President Obama and his policies. Hopefully the next President will be up to the task and will bring change instead of more of the same.

The United Nations Needs To Be Kicked Out Of America

Yesterday Fox News posted an article reporting that, according to the UN Commission on the Status of Women, the top violator of women’s rights around the world is Israel. Wow. Israel won the ‘honor’ because of its supposed suppression of Palestinian women‘s rights. This is the most absurd thing I have heard in a long time. Were the Palestinians violating women’s rights when they used women as human shields? Is Saudi Arabia violating women’s rights by refusing to let them drive?

The article states:

In fact, not only is there no possibility that the UN Commission on the Status of Women will criticize Iran, Iran is an elected member of CSW.  Sudan – whose president has been indicted for genocide and crimes against humanity – is currently a CSW Vice-Chair.

The article reminds us:

Not Saudi Arabia. Where women are physically punished if not wearing compulsory clothing, are almost entirely excluded from political life, cannot drive, cannot travel without a male relative, receive half the inheritance of their brothers, and where their testimony counts for half that of a man’s.

 Not Sudan.  Where domestic violence is not prohibited.  There is no minimum age for “consensual” sex.  The legal age of marriage for girls is ten. 88% of women under 50 have undergone female genital mutilation. And women are denied equal rights in marriage, inheritance and divorce.

 Not Iran. Where every woman who registered as a presidential candidate in the last election was disqualified.  “Adultery” is punishable by death by stoning.  Women who fight back against rapists and kill their attackers are executed. The constitution bars female judges. And women must obtain the consent of their husbands to work outside the home.

If we force the diplomats at the United Nations to pay their parking tickets, maybe they will leave. The United Nations has become a disgrace.

 

The Importance Of Preventing A Nuclear Iran

The 47 Republican Senators who signed the open letter stating that the Senate needs to ratify any treaties that will be binding on the next administration are not the only people worried about Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. On Wednesday The Wall Street Journal reported that Saudi Arabia has signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with South Korea.

The article explains the consequences of Iran going nuclear:

That agreement, along with recent comments from Saudi officials and royals, is raising concerns on Capitol Hill and among U.S. allies that a deal with Iran, rather than stanching the spread of nuclear technologies, risks fueling it.

Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief, Prince Turki al-Faisal, a member of the royal family, has publicly warned in recent months that Riyadh will seek to match the nuclear capabilities Iran is allowed to maintain as part of any final agreement reached with world powers. This could include the ability to enrich uranium and to harvest the weapons-grade plutonium discharged in a nuclear reactor’s spent fuel.

Several U.S. and Arab officials have voiced concerns about a possible nuclear-arms race erupting in the Middle East, spurred on by Saudi Arabia’s regional rivalry with Iran, which has been playing out in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen in recent months.

Essentially, if the Shiite Muslims have a bomb, the Sunni Muslims also want a bomb.

The article further reports:

A U.S. diplomatic cable from December 2007, published by WikiLeaks, quoted Pakistan officials saying it was “logical for the Saudis to step in as the physical ‘protector’ ” of Sunni countries in response to the threat posed by Iran, a Shiite-majority nation. Saudi Arabia, unlike Egypt, another Arab power, has the finances to develop a nuclear-weapons arsenal, the Pakistanis argue.

Evidently the Saudis have no more confidence in the Obama Administration’s ability to negotiate a treaty with Iran that will actually stop their nuclear program than the 47 Senators who signed the letter. I think the fact that the Saudis are pursuing an atomic bomb of their own tells us all we need to know about the treaty President Obama is negotiating.

This Is A Very Interesting Statement

Fox Business posted a story today by Maria Bartiromo. The story included an amazing statement by Saudi billionaire businessman Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. The Prince stated that we will never see $100 a barrel oil again.

The article includes the following quote:

Saudi Arabia and all of the countries were caught off guard. No one anticipated it was going to happen. Anyone who says they anticipated this 50% drop (in price) is not saying the truth.

Because the minister of oil in Saudi Arabia just in July publicly said $100 is a good price for consumers and producers. And less than six months later, the price of oil collapses 50%.

Having said that, the decision to not reduce production was prudent, smart and shrewd. Because had Saudi Arabia cut its production by 1 or 2 million barrels, that 1 or 2 million would have been produced by others. Which means Saudi Arabia would have had two negatives, less oil produced, and lower prices. So, at least you got slammed and slapped on the face from one angle, which is the reduction of the price of oil, but not the reduction of production.

This is an interesting situation–the Saudis kept the production up so the price would go down. This seriously impacted the economies of Iran, Russia and Venezuela, and indirectly Cuba. It also made oil production in America less attractive–smaller profits. If the Saudis cut production to raise the price, American production comes back up and reduces the price. If the Saudis keep the price low, American production will be less, but will still exist.

I love the idea that we will never again see $100 a barrel oil. I am tired of being blackmailed by the Middle East oil producers. Maybe now we can stop funding terrorism.

Weak Leadership Has Many Different Results

President Obama has been a weak President. He has not directly faced any of the threats against us. His comments on SONY were rather interesting considering the arrest of the man who made the video the Obama Administration blamed for Benghazi. But more important (and disturbing) is his unwillingness to stand up to Iran. This has left something of a vacuum in the Middle East power struggle which is now having interesting results.

Steven Hayward posted an article at Power Line today about what has been happening to oil prices recently. Mr. Hayward points out that the Saudi decision to keep production levels up (therefore keeping prices low) may not actually be about stunting the American shale oil market. It quite possibly has more to do with crippling the economies of Iran and Russia, the two biggest problems for the Saudis in their neighborhood.

In a National Post article posted yesterday, Conrad Black explains:

Saudi Arabia has resigned itself to the fact that neither its oft-demonstrated ability to play the periodic U.S. resolve to reduce its dependence on foreign oil like a yo-yo by price-cutting until the impulse of self-discipline passes, nor the agitation of the environmentalists for restrained oil production, will work again. . . a Saudi move on this scale, with the resulting self-inflicted reduction in their income, makes no sense for the marginal impact it will have on American future production and imports; it is a geopolitical move targeted much closer to home. . .

Saudi Arabia is trying to discourage the use of Iranian and Russian oil revenues to prop up the blood-stained and beleaguered Assad regime in Damascus, to finance Iran’s nuclear military program, and to incite the continuing outrages of Hezbollah and Hamas in Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories against Israel. The exotic community of interest that has suddenly arisen between the historically Jew-baiting Saudis and the Jewish state is because the countries in the area fear, with good reason as far as can be discerned, that the UN Security Council members, plus Germany, may be on the verge of acquiescing in Iran’s arrival as a threshold nuclear military power. The oil-price weapon, in the face of the terminal enfeeblement of the Obama administration, is the last recourse before the Saudis and Turks, whatever their autocues of racist rhetoric, invite Israel to smash the Iranian nuclear program from the air.

I guess this is one time having a weak President actually helps the American economy. However, if the price of oil remains low, future investment in American oil will decrease, and that will cause an economic problem for America. For many reasons, we need to make energy independence for America a priority.

Behind The Drop In Oil Prices

Steven Hayward posted an article at Power Line today about the recent drop in oil prices. As of 4 pm today, oil was listed at about $58 a barrel. So what does this mean?

The article reports:

I decided to reach out to the CEO of a very successful private oil exploration company for his inside opinion, and this is what he tells Power Line:

Our Rate of Return (ROR) drops to 10% on our wells at $55 oil.  However, this assumption assumes no drop in costs to drill wells and no contraction in the large differential ($10 to $12 per barrel) between Bakken and WTI oil.  In reality our ROR would actually be above 10% at $55 WTI oil price as our costs to drill would also come down.  There are plenty of drilling locations that would have above 10% ROR at $40 oil.  Even more drilling locations would require $70, $80, or $90 oil prices for that ROR.  Of course, drilling will slow down long before you get down to a 10% ROR.  Most will want at least a 20% ROR.  Of course the quality of the operator matters in addition to the drilling location. . .

Bottom line is that the Saudis want to chill investment in new oil supply to help protect OPEC’s future.  In round numbers we have had about 5 MBOPD increase in world oil demand over the last 5 or 6 years.  Over the same time period US oil production has grown from nearly 4 MBOPD (from 5 to 9 MBOPD) — 80% of the increase in WORLD demand!  This is NOT good for OPEC.  I suspect that we will have ugly oil prices ($60 – $75) for around a year as that is long enough to stop many current oil supply investments and, more importantly, serve to chill the appetite for future large investments in oil supply growth (deep water, arctic, marginal shale, marginal tar sands, etc) which is the Saudi goal in my opinion.  I do not believe that the current price ($65) is a sustainable price going forward.  It would not encourage enough new supply to balance world demand which itself would be goosed upwards with the lower prices.  I suspect that after this ugly price period ends, we likely see oil bouncing around the $75 to $95 range or something like that.

Of course all of this depends on the state of world economy which has many significant challenges such as at the required unwind, or more likely significant revamping, of the unsustainable entitlement states over the next two decades.  I personally believe that the Euro currency was a very idea from the start and is damaging for Europe and unsustainable as an institution.  The unwind of the Euro within the next 5 or 10 years could also cause significant economic headwinds for the world economy.

 This game has been played before–when America is reaching energy independence, lower the price to avoid further exploration. We are fools if we fall for this. As soon as OPEC thinks America is not interested in developing its own resources, the price will go back up to where it has been in recent years. Regardless of the price, energy independence is always a good idea for security reasons. Energy independence also frees America up to support democracies in the Middle East rather than dictatorships.

The Unintended Consequences Of American Oil Production

The Wall Street Journal today included an article by Daniel Yergin about the falling oil prices. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) met Thursday and decided not to cut oil production. That is a major policy change and will have worldwide impact. The demand for oil is no longer the basis for OPEC’s decisions–now the deciding factors are the surge in U.S. oil production and the new oil supply from Canada.

The article reports:

Since 2008—when fear of “peak oil,” after which global output would supposedly decline, was the dominant motif—U.S. oil production has risen 80%, to nine million barrels daily. The U.S. increase alone is greater than the output of every OPEC country except Saudi Arabia.

The world has experienced sudden supply gushers before. In the early 1930s, a flood of oil from East Texas drove prices down to 10 cents a barrel—and desperate gas station owners offered chickens as premiums to bring in customers. In the late 1950s, the rapidly swelling flow of Mideast oil led to price cuts that triggered the formation of OPEC.

Oil is currently selling at about $69 per barrel after hovering around $100 per barrel for the past three years. The shale oil being drilled in America is still economical to produce with prices between $50 and $69 per barrel, so the lower prices will not drive America from the world market.

So what are the international implications of cheap oil? The Russian budget is funded over 40% by oil, but Putin has built up a reserve of a few hundred billion dollars that will help Russia cope with the falling oil prices. Venezuela and Iran are also negatively impacted by falling oil prices. Just for the record, the building of the Keystone XL Pipeline would have a severe negative impact on the Venezuelan economy–the Gulf Coast refineries would replace the heavy oil from Venezuela with the Canadian oil.

There is, of course, the possibility that OPEC could change its mind in the Spring and cut output, but even if they were to do that, they would only be hurting themselves, as Canada and the United States would simply increase their production to make up the difference.

Trouble In Paradise

The Middle East oil countries have done very well during the past thirty or so years. The have combined to form the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and have raised the price of oil from somewhere near $5 a barrel to over $100 a barrel (although the cost of oil is currently dropping).

The Wall Street Journal reported today that as the Western countries begin to develop their oil resources, OPEC members are fighting over production quotas and prices.

The article reports:

But even modest cooperation between many members has broken down, and Saudi Arabia, in particular, has moved to act on its own. While it cut output earlier this summer, other members didn’t go along. Since then, it has dropped its prices.

Each member has a different tolerance for lower prices. Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia generally don’t need prices quite as high as Iran and Venezuela to keep their budgets in the black.

Late Friday, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez, who represents Caracas in the group, called for an urgent meeting to tackle falling prices. The group’s next regular meeting is set for late next month.

But on Sunday, Ali al-Omair, Kuwait’s oil minister, said there had been no invitation for such a meeting, suggesting the group would need to stomach lower prices. He said there was a natural floor to how low prices could fall—at about $76 to $77 per barrel—near what he said was the average production costs per barrel in Russia and the U.S.

The history of oil prices has often been that when the Middle East begins to drop their prices, Americans stop looking for cheaper oil in their own country. Considering the current instability in the Middle East in the OPEC nations, that would be a big mistake.

America needs to be energy independent for both economic and security reasons. It is time to develop our own resources.