Category Archives: Sanctions

Why there is still no Iran nuke deal in Vienna, by Pepe Escobar

Consider this a back to back special on the ongoing Iranian Nuclear negotiations. If you have not already read Pepe’s last piece, then please do here for some background.

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Source: Asia Times

VIENNA – As the Iran-P5+1 negotiation hit the crucial stage on Monday night, and the technical teams pushed for a clean text to be released on Tuesday – albeit unsuccessfully – the top sticking point turned out to be the conventional arms embargo imposed on Iran by the UNSC, a senior European diplomat told Asia Times.

BRICS members Russia and China had a coordinated position; “yes” to the end of the embargo. The US and the UK voted “no.” And, crucially, France was wavering.

If this was a decision solely in the hands of French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, the vote would be “no.” But arguably if the final decision rests with President Francois Hollande, it would be a “yes.” There is nothing the French weapons industry would like better than to add Tehran to its still meager list of customers for Rafales and Mistrals.

Turning to the Big Picture, Iranian diplomats were stressing that, “all nuclear-related sanctions should be removed. That was agreed upon in Lausanne.” This means the conventional arms embargo – imposed by the UN in 2007, and tied up in the nuclear sanctions – should also go.

So what was reported by Asia Times early this week continued to apply; there are severe cracks within the P5+1 on several key issues — thus their need to spend more time negotiating amongst themselves than with Iran.

That’s the key reason for a new deadline extension — to Thursday, July 9. And even that may not be the end of the road.

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Power Play Behind Regime Change in Russia, by Pepe Escobar

The Empire of Chaos dream of regime change in Russia has always hinged on controlling large swathes of Eurasia.

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With “friends” like European Council President Donald Tusk and top NATO commander Gen. Philip Breedlove, the EU certainly doesn’t need enemies.

Gen. Breedhate has been spewing out his best Dr. Strangelove impersonation, warning that evil Russia is invading Ukraine on an everyday basis. The German political establishment is not amused.

Tusk, while meeting with US President Barack Obama, got Divide and Rule backwards; he insisted, “foreign adversaries” were trying to divide the US and the EU – when it’s actually the US that is trying to divide the EU from Russia. And right on cue, he blamed Russia — side by side with the fake Caliphate of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.

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The Dirtiest Secret of the War on Terror, Pepe Escobar

Out of the bowels of a US maximum-security prison in Florence, Colorado, al-Qaeda operative Zacarias Moussaui, currently serving a life sentence, providentially has shed light on what amounts to the dirtiest secret of the “war on terror”.

In over 100 pages of testimony, filed in a federal court in New York earlier this week, Moussaui drops several House of Saud-related bombs. Not least that among leading al-Qaeda donors prior to 9/11 we find former Saudi intel chief Prince Turki al-Faisal (also a former great buddy of Osama bin Laden); notorious former ambassador to the US and failed sponsor of hardcore jihadis in Syria, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, aka Bandar Bush; darling of Western markets (and Rupert Murdoch) Prince al-Waleed bin Talal; and a who’s who of Saudi Arabia’s top Wahhabi clerics.

None of this is any novelty for those among us who since Afghanistan in the 1980s have been following the extraordinarily murky adventures of Wahhabi-sponsored/derived jihadism.

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Russia Just Pulled Itself Out Of The Petrodollar

Source: Zero Hedge

Back in November, before most grasped just how serious the collapse in crude was (and would become, as well as its massive implications), we wrote “How The Petrodollar Quietly Died, And Nobody Noticed“, because for the first time in almost two decades, energy-exporting countries would pull their “petrodollars” out of world markets in 2015.

This empirical death of Petrodollar followed years of windfalls for oil exporters such as Russia, Angola, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. Much of that money found its way into financial markets, helping to boost asset prices and keep the cost of borrowing down, through so-called petrodollar recycling.

We added that in 2014 “the oil producers will effectively import capital amounting to $7.6 billion. By comparison, they exported $60 billion in 2013 and $248 billion in 2012, according to the following graphic based on BNP Paribas calculations.”

petrodollar chart

The problem was compounded by its own positive feedback loop: as the last few weeks vividly demonstrated, plunging oil would lead to a further liquidation in foreign  reserves for the oil exporters who rushed to preserve their currencies, leading to even greater drops in oil as the viable producers rushed to pump out as much crude out of the ground as possible in a scramble to put the weakest producers out of business, and to crush marginal production. Call it Game Theory gone mad and on steroids.

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Russia’s “Startling” Proposal To Europe: Dump The US, Join The Eurasian Economic Union

Source: Zero Hedge

Slowly but surely Europe is figuring out that as a result of the western economic and financial blockade of Russian, it is Europe itself that is suffering the most. And while Germany was first to acknowledge this late in 2014 when its economy swooned and is now on the verge of a recession, now others are catching on. Case in point: the former head of the European Commission, and Italy’s former Prime Minister, Romano Prodi who told Messaggero newspaper that the “weaker Russian economy is extremely unprofitable for Italy.”

The other details from Prodi’s statement:

Lowered prices in the international energy markets have positive aspects for the Italian consumers, who pay less for the fuel, but the effect will be only short-term. In the long-term however the weaker economic situation in countries producing energy resources, caused by lower oil and gas prices, mostly in Russia, is extremely unprofitable for Italy, he said.

The lowering of the oil and gas prices in combination with the sanctions, pushed by the Ukrainian crisis, will drop the Russian GPD by five percent per annum, and thus it will cause cutting of the Italian export by about 50%,” Prodi said.

“Setting aside the uselessness or imminence of the sanctions, one should highlight a clear skew: regardless of the rouble rate against dollar, which is lower by almost a half, the American export to Russia is growing, while the export from Europe is shrinking.”

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Russia, China mock divide and rule, by Pepe Escobar

ROME and BEIJING – The Roman Empire did it. The British Empire copied it in style. The Empire of Chaos has always done it. They all do it. Divide et impera. Divide and rule – or divide and conquer. It’s nasty, brutish and effective. Not forever though, like diamonds, because empires do crumble.

A room with a view to the Pantheon may be a celebration of Venus – but also a glimpse on the works of Mars. I had been in Rome essentially for a symposium – Global WARning – organized by a very committed, talented group led by a former member of European Parliament, Giulietto Chiesa. Three days later, as the run on the rouble was unleashed, Chiesa was arrested and expelled from Estonia as persona non grata, yet another graphic illustration of the anti-Russia hysteria gripping the Baltic nations and the Orwellian grip NATO has on Europe’s weak links. [1] Dissent is simply not allowed.

At the symposium, held in a divinely frescoed former 15th century Dominican refectory now part of the Italian parliament’s library, Sergey Glazyev, on the phone from Moscow, gave a stark reading of Cold War 2.0. There’s no real “government” in Kiev; the US ambassador is in charge. An anti-Russia doctrine has been hatched in Washington to foment war in Europe – and European politicians are its collaborators. Washington wants a war in Europe because it is losing the competition with China.

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U.S Ramps Up Economic Warfare with heavy penalties for Russian steel industry

Source: Reuters

Dec 22 (Reuters) – Russia has complained that a U.S. move to scrap a 15-year-old deal sheltering Russian flat-rolled steel producers from high import duties is inconsistent with World Trade Organization rules.

The move comes as Western sanctions over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine, together with a plunge in world oil prices, have pushed the Russian economy to the brink of recession.

The so-called U.S. suspension agreement has sheltered Russian steelmakers from steep anti-dumping duties on hot-rolled, flat-rolled, carbon quality steel, instead setting a cap on imports and a minimum price.

It was scrapped on Dec. 19. As a result, Russian steelmaker Severstal now faces anti-dumping duties of 73.59 percent, while other producers like Novolipetsk Steel and Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works face duties of 184.56 percent.

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce this month, Russia’s trade representative to the United States, Alexander Stadnik, said the rates calculated were originally based on methodologies used for countries with non-market economies.

Commerce ruled in 2002 that Russia was no longer a non-market economy, and the country joined the WTO in 2012.

“Since the original investigation Russia has joined the WTO, and has implemented further market reforms that have increased the transparency and predictability of its marketplace, and thus made it easier for foreign firms to compete in Russia and have therefore expanded competition within that market,” said Stadnik in the letter, dated Dec. 12. “In this case, imposing a non-market economy rate is inconsistent with the WTO rules.”

U.S. steel prices ST-CRUNAM-IDX are at their lowest since October last year, according to data compiler CRU, and industry representatives hope protective measures against imports of Russian steel could support them.

In their submission to Commerce, Severstal, Novolipetsk and Magnitogorsk said the duties were punitive because they were calculated 15 years ago under a different economic situation and dumping methodology and based on outdated prices.

But U.S. producer Nucor Corp said it was normal procedure to apply the duty rates calculated in the original investigation.

The U.S. Commerce Department was not immediately available for comment. (Additional reporting by Krista Hughes in Washington, editing by David Evans)

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.

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What Putin is not telling us, Pepe Escobar

Source: RT

December 18, 2014. President of Russia Vladimir Putin during his tenth annual major news conference at the World Trade Centre on Krasnopresnenskaya Embankment (RIA Novosti / Vladimir Astapkovich)
December 18, 2014. President of Russia Vladimir Putin during his tenth annual major news conference at the World Trade Centre on Krasnopresnenskaya Embankment (RIA Novosti / Vladimir Astapkovich)

Even facing what under any circumstances is a perfect storm; President Putin delivered an extremely measured performance at his annual press conference and Q&A marathon.

The perfect storm evolves in two fronts; an overt economic war – as in siege by sanctions – and a concerted, covert, shadow attack to the heart of the Russian economy. Washington’s endgame is clear: impoverish and defang the adversary and force him to meekly bow to the Empire of Chaos’s’ whims. And bragging about it all the way to “victory.”

The problem is Moscow happens to have impeccably deciphered the game – even before Putin, at the Valdai Club in October, pinned down the Obama doctrine as “our Western partners” working as practitioners of the “theory of controlled chaos.”

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Three Members of Congress Just Reignited the Cold War While No One Was Looking, by Dennis Kucinich

Source: Information Clearing House

December 16, 2014 “ICH” – “Truthdig” – –  Late Thursday night, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a far-reaching Russia sanctions bill, a hydra-headed incubator of poisonous conflict. The second provocative anti-Russian legislation in a week, it further polarizes our relations with Russia, helping to cement a Russia-China alliance against Western hegemony, and undermines long-term America’s financial and physical security by handing the national treasury over to war profiteers.

Here’s how the House’s touted “unanimity” was achieved: Under a parliamentary motion termed “unanimous consent,” legislative rules can be suspended and any bill can be called up. If any member of Congress objects, the motion is blocked and the bill dies.

At 10:23:54 p.m. on Thursday, a member rose to ask “unanimous consent” for four committees to be relieved of a Russia sanctions bill. At this point the motion, and the legislation, could have been blocked by a single member who would say “I object.”  No one objected, because no one was watching for last-minute bills to be slipped through.

Most of the House and the media had emptied out of the chambers after passage of the $1.1 trillion government spending package.

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