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.

ISIS Continues Its Reign Of Terror In Iraq

Yesterday the U.K. Mail Online reported that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has attacked and destroyed several centuries-old graves in the northwest city of Mosul in Ninevah. Among the graves destroyed was the grave of the Old Testament prophet Jonah. Jonah was revered by both Christians and Muslims, but ISIS believes that giving special reverence to tombs and relics is against Islam.

The article also reports:

…more than 50 bodies have been discovered by Iraqi authorities in an agricultural area outside the city of Hillah, just south of Baghdad, today.

Military spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan Ibrahim said most of the 53 bodies were found blindfolded with their hands bound and several gunshot wounds.

The grisly discovery in Hillah, a predominantly Shiite city around 60 miles south of Baghdad, has raised concerns over a possible sectarian killing amid the battle against a Sunni insurgency.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has accused the Kurds in northern Iraq of harboring extremists. Meanwhile, the Kurds are working hard to protect their area of Iraq from ISIS.

ISIS is acting in a way very similar to the way the Taliban acted when they took over Afghanistan.

What is happening in Iraq is partially the result of the fact that American forces were withdrawn. Had American forces remained, we would have been able to exert enough pressure on al-Maliki to prevent his purging his military from Sunnis and putting his cronies in their places. One of the reasons the Iraqi army fled was that it was not the trained Iraqi army that we had assembled–it was a bunch of political hacks put in place by al-Maliki.

I am not optimistic about what is happening in Iraq. Even with American help, the country is going to disintegrate. The civil war between the Shiites and the Sunnis will continue and various terrorist groups in the Middle East will take advantage of that fact. It would be a mistake for America to get involved in Iraq again. However, we should support the Kurds and provide relief for the refugees who have fled to the Kurdish areas.





Sometimes It’s Better Not To Enter The Fight

I say this reluctantly because I know that every day innocent people are dying in Syria, and I would love the see America step in and stop the killing. However, the fact remains that we are not able to step in and stop the killing and that it would not be wise for us to attempt to do so.

Andrew McCarthy posted an article at National Review on Saturday about the war in Syria. He points out that the people who are asking us to intervene in Syria are saying that if we don’t there will be a vacuum of leadership there. No, there won’t. Al Qaeda has already filled that vacuum. We need to remember that Bashar al-Assad. is an Alawite, a minority Shiite group in Syria. The rebels in Syria are Sunnis, led by the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda.. Why in the world would we want to get in the middle of that fight? Neither side represents either democracy or stability in the Middle East.

Andrew McCarthy sums up the problem of intervention in Syria:

…the narrative continues, untold legions of Muslim moderates, secular democrats, and religious minorities who would otherwise be charting Syria’s democratic destiny are being elbowed aside. Even worse, by failing to intervene forcefully — meaning, to fuel the jihad with high-tech combat weapons and an aerial campaign to soften up Assad’s remaining defenses — the administration is frittering away the opportunity to strike up pragmatic alliances with the Vaccum-filling Islamists. Sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought — eager to help the Brotherhood, but too concerned about arms falling into terrorist hands — Obama is forfeiting our chance to influence the outcome.

Right. I mean, look at how ably our decade of heavy investment has steered Iraq and Afghanistan in a pro-American direction. And behold how they love us in Benghazi!

The article concludes:

It is no longer 1996 — the year Iran bombed the Khobar Towers and killed 19 American airmen. The Syria hawks are quite right to argue that Iran remains a major threat to American interests. They are wrong, however, to treat Iran as the only such threat. The Sunni supremacist crescent that the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, and their allies would run from Anatolia through the Persian Gulf and across North Africa would be no less hostile to the West than the Shiite competitor Iran is trying to forge. If Assad falls and the Brothers take over, that defeat for Tehran will not be a boon for the United States.

It is not isolationism to insist that American interventions be limited to situations in which a vital American interest must be vindicated. There is no such interest in Syria.

The only American intervention in Syria that would be acceptable to me would be to get the civilians out and let the extremists slug it out among themselves. The best thing we can do is provide aid to the refugee camps that have been set up in neighboring countries.

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