Category Archives: Saudi Arabia

US Senator: “We Have Never Done Anything More Loathsome or Despicable Than What We’re Doing in Syria.”

Source: Fort Russ

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Senator Richard Black and Janice Kortkamp discuss the shameful situation in Syria, where the US government is actively arming and funding Al Nusra (Al Qaeda) and “conduits” (“moderates”), blending them together, and then using this model to exterminate the Syrian population.

It should be noted that the mass media machine is seemingly losing its effect, as more and more prominent and senior figures (e.g Robert Fisk) are calling a spade a spade, or a “moderate” a terrorist. It just goes to show that you can fool some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but never all of the people all of the time.

Video Description (published 8th July 2016): “Virginia State Senator Richard Black and Janice Kortkamp Fearing recently returned from trips to Syria — reporting on a reality far different than the lies the American people are being fed by the media. EIR’s Jeffrey Steinberg interviews both on their meetings and experiences with top officials and everyday Syrians.”

Continue reading US Senator: “We Have Never Done Anything More Loathsome or Despicable Than What We’re Doing in Syria.”

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Syria’s President Assad: “Erdogan used the Coup to Implement his Muslim Brotherhood Agenda”

source: 21st Century Wire

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President Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to Cuba’s official state news agency Prensa Latina in which he said the Turks, Qataris and Saudis lost most of their cards on the battlefields in Syria and that the Aleppo battle is their last card, affirming that there is strong harmony between Syria and Latin America, especially Cuba, on the political and historical levels and that hard work is needed in order to invigorate the different sectors of this relation.

The following is the full text of the interview:

Question 1: Mr. President, thanks for giving Prensa Latina this historic opportunity of conveying your point of view to the rest of the world about the reality in Syria, because as you know, there is a lot of misinformation out there about your country, about the foreign aggression that is taking place against this beautiful country.

Mr. President, how would you evaluate the current military situation of the external aggression against Syria, and what are the main challenges of Syrian forces on the ground to fight anti-government groups? If it is possible, we would like to know your opinion about the battles or combats in Aleppo, in Homs.

President Assad: Of course, there was a lot of support to the terrorists from around the world. We have more than one hundred nationalities participating in the aggression against Syria with the support of certain countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar with their money and Turkey with the logistical support, and of course with the endorsement and supervision of the Western countries, mainly the United States, France, and the UK, and some other allies.

But since the Russians decided to intervene in supporting legally the Syrian Army in fighting the terrorists in Syria, mainly al-Nusra and ISIS and some other affiliated groups, the scales have been tipped against those terrorists, and the Syrian Army has made many advances in different areas in Syria. And we are still moving forward, and the Syrian Army is determined to destroy and to defeat those terrorists.

You mentioned Homs and Aleppo. Of course, the situation in Homs, since the terrorists left Homs more than a year ago, the situation has been much, much better, more stable. You have some suburbs of the city which were infiltrated by terrorists. Now there is a process of reconciliation in those areas in which either the terrorists give up their armaments and go back to their normal life with amnesty from the government, or they can leave Homs to any other place within Syria, like what happened more than a year ago in the center of the city.

For Aleppo it is a different situation, because the Turks and their allies like the Saudis and Qataris lost most of their cards on the battlefields in Syria, so the last card for them, especially for Erdogan, is Aleppo. That is why he worked hard with the Saudis to send as much as they can of the terrorists – the estimation is more than 5,000 terrorists – to Aleppo.

Question 2: Through the Turkish borders?

President Assad: Yes, from Turkey to Aleppo, during the last two months, in order to recapture the city of Aleppo, and that didn’t work. Actually, our army has been making advancement in Aleppo and the suburbs of Aleppo in order to encircle the terrorists, then, let’s say, either to negotiate their going back to their normal life as part of reconciliation, or for the terrorists to leave the city of Aleppo, or to be defeated. There’s no other solution.

Continue reading Syria’s President Assad: “Erdogan used the Coup to Implement his Muslim Brotherhood Agenda”

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The Peak Oil Paradox Revisited, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

source: The Automatic Earth

M. King Hubbert
M. King Hubbert

It’s been a while since we posted an article by our friend Euan Mearns, who was active at The Oil Drum at the same time Nicole and I were. Is it really 11 years ago that started, and almost 9 since we left? You know the drill: we ‘departed’ because they didn’t want us to cover finance, which we said was the more immediate crisis, yada yada. Euan stayed on for longer, and the once unequalled Oil Drum is no more.

On one of our long tours, which were based around Nicole’s brilliant public speaking engagements, we went to see Euan in Scotland, he teaches at Aberdeen University. I think it was 2011?! An honor. Anyway, always a friend.

And there’s ono-one I can think of who’d be better at explaining the Peak Oil Paradox in today’s context. So here’s a good friend of the Automatic Earth, Euan Mearns:


Euan Mearns:
Back in the mid-noughties the peak oil meme gained significant traction in part due to The Oil Drum blog where I played a prominent role. Sharply rising oil price, OPEC spare capacity falling below 2 Mbpd and the decline of the North Sea were definite signs of scarcity and many believed that peak oil was at hand and the world as we knew it was about to end. Forecasts of oil production crashing in the coming months were ten a penny. And yet between 2008, when the oil price peaked, and 2015, global crude+condensate+NGL (C+C+NGL) production has risen by 8.85 Mbpd to 91.67 Mbpd. That is by over 10%. Peak oilers need to admit they were wrong then. Or were they?

Introduction

It is useful to begin with a look at what peak oil was all about. This definition from Wikipediais as good as any:

Peak oil, an event based on M. King Hubbert’s theory, is the point in time when the maximum rate of extraction of petroleum is reached, after which it is expected to enter terminal decline. Peak oil theory is based on the observed rise, peak, fall, and depletion of aggregate production rate in oilfields over time.

Those who engaged in the debate can be divided into two broad classes of individual: 1) those who wanted to try and understand oil resources, reserves, production and depletion rates based on a myriad of data sets and analysis techniques with a view to predicting when peak oil may occur and 2) those who speculated about the consequences of peak oil upon society. Such speculation normally warned of dire consequences of a world running short of transport fuel and affordable energy leading to resource wars and general mayhem. And none of this ever came to pass unless we want to link mayhem in Iraq*, Syria, Yemen, Sudan and Nigeria to high food prices and hence peak oil. In which case we may also want to link the European migrant crisis and Brexit to the same.

[* One needs to recall that GWI was precipitated over Kuwait stealing oil from Iraq, from a shared field on the Kuwait-Iraq border, leading to the Iraqi invasion of 1991.]

The peak oil debate on The Oil Drum was a lightning conductor for doomers of every flavour – peak oil doom (broadened to resource depletion doom), economic doom and environmental doom being the three main courses on the menu. The discussion was eventually hijacked by Greens and Green thinkers, who, not content with waiting for doomsday to happen, set about manufacturing arguments and data to hasten the day. For example, fossil fuel scarcity has morphed into stranded fossil fuel reserves that cannot be burned because of the CO2 produced, accompanied by recommendations to divest fossil fuel companies from public portfolios. Somewhat surprisingly, these ideas have gained traction in The United Nations, The European Union and Academia.

It is not my intention to dig too deeply into the past. Firmly belonging to the group of data analysts, in this post I want to take a look at two different data sets to explore where peak oil stands today. Is it dead and buried forever, or is it lurking in the shadows, waiting to derail the global economy again?

The USA and Hubbert’s Peak

The USA once was the poster child of peak oil. The Peak Oil theory was first formulated there by M. King Hubbert who in 1956 famously forecast that US production would peak around 1970 and thereafter enter an era of never-ending decline (Figure 1). Hubbert’s original paper is well worth a read.

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Figure 1 From Hubbert’s 1956 paper shows the peak and fall in US production for ultimate recovery of 150 and 200 billion barrels. The 200 billion barrel model shows a peak of 8.2 Mbpd around 1970 that proved to be uncannily accurate.

Continue reading The Peak Oil Paradox Revisited, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

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Conversation: The Wahhabi Chronicles, by Mohsin Siddiqui

I have been meaning to write about what it means to grow up in the Saudi Arabian Wahhabi model, what has held me back thus far is more about “Where do I begin?”

The beast is complex, pathological and has many facets to its manifestation in various areas of your life. It simply permeates every little part of your existence either willingly, subconsciously or via the guilt complex that it feeds on.

My intention here is not to proselytize nor is it to prescribe a remedy. Instead it is to share my experience with you.

I was born in the heydays of the oil boom in Saudi Arabia to expatriate parents from my native Pakistan. We lived happy – somewhat dysfunctional – lives as most would assume. We did better than our extended family and made sure we shared with those back home. My parents were average Sunni Muslims who observed prayers whenever they remembered – with the exception of Friday prayers that most Muslims religiously observe – and tried to generally stick to the ‘norms’ of the faith but nothing too strictly.

Life was good and we had plenty of good fortune that many did not have. My parents wanted us to study in English schools and paid handsomely for that ‘privilege’ in Saudi Arabia. At age 3 I was put on the conveyor belt of what we call the expatriate English educational system in Saudi Arabia. The school was owned and run by a Saudi prince and had relatively good standing in the community at the time. Our English teachers were predominantly British & Irish with a sprinkle of Americans and then a dominance of South Africans in the later years of schooling. An exception to this rule was of course the teachers who taught us Arabic, Quran and Islamic Studies; Mostly Egyptians and members of other Arab states.

I do not remember religion really playing a big role in my early life other than observing prayers when my father took me for prayers or when it was Ramadan and we fasted. As children we were eager to fast and show that we were adults, win school competitions by memorizing the Quran and other such “religious” observance. It was less dogma and more mimicking and following what others were doing in the community in general. Social policing is a common activity in Muslim communities; Your devotion to God is under constant check and invasion of your privacy a trivial matter.

The religious drive creeps in slowly, first it is keeping up image with the good neighbours and then it is trying to outdo them. Of course, all of this in the name of securing your heaven; For example If you memorize the Quran then your parents get a home in heaven. Prayers became more regular as we grew older and the school system pumped out more things to adhere to.

We had two classical Arabic classes and a Quaran class per day. We had to memorize verses, hadith (Prophets sayings) and other Islamic theology.  We also had a Quran teacher come at home to teach us how to recite the Quran. This is a common thing to do in the Muslim world and most families do this irrespective of their own religiousness.

What most people do not understand is that in a society like Saudi Arabia (or a predominantly Islamic community) it is quite normal to pray regularly, read the Quran, follow Islamic teachings and think nothing of it. It is a habit almost and you are kind of blind to the affect it is creating in you on the inside. There is little else for adults to do other than be pious. Pretty soon my mother also joined a Quran school to be more in tune with what she saw as her duty as a good Muslim. In Saudi Arabia, women have little option to do anything but basically be more religious. One could argue that men too have ultimately that as the only unrestricted avenue of ‘personal development’. Religion trumps everything.

Continue reading Conversation: The Wahhabi Chronicles, by Mohsin Siddiqui

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Conversation: Rogue Diplomacy

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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Syria,ISIS & The US-UK Propaganda War, by Eric Draitser

source: New Eastern Outlook

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With the war in Syria raging in its fifth year, and the Islamic State wreaking havoc throughout the Middle East and North Africa, it’s clear that the entire region has been made into one large theater of conflict. But the battlefield must not be understood solely as a physical place located on a map; it is equally a social and cultural space where the forces of the US-UK-NATO Empire employ a variety of tactics to influence the course of events and create an outcome amenable to their agenda. And none to greater effect than propaganda.

Indeed, if the ongoing war in Syria, and the conflicts of the post-Arab Spring period generally, have taught us anything, it is the power of propaganda and public relations to shape narratives which in turn impact political events. Given the awesome power of information in the postmodern political landscape, it should come as no surprise that both the US and UK have become world leaders in government-sponsored propaganda masquerading as legitimate, grassroots political and social expression.

London, Washington, and the Power of Manipulation

The Guardian recently revealed how the UK Government’s Research, Information, and Communications Unit (RICU) is involved in surveillance, information dissemination, and promotion of individuals and groups as part of what it describes as an attempt at “attitudinal and behavioral change” among its Muslim youth population. This sort of counter-messaging is nothing new, and has been much discussed for years. However, the Guardian piece actually exposed the much deeper connections between RICU and various grassroots organizations, online campaigns, and social media penetration.

The article outlined the relationship between the UK Government’s RICU and a London-based communications company calledBreakthrough Media Network which “has produced dozens of websites, leaflets, videos, films, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and online radio content, with titles such as The Truth about Isis and Help for Syria.” Considering the nature of social media, and the manner in which information (or disinformation) is spread online, it should come as no surprise that a number of the viral videos, popular twitter feeds, and other materials that seemingly align with the anti-Assad line of London and Washington are, in fact, the direct products of a government-sponsored propaganda campaign.

In fact, as the authors of the story noted:

One Ricu initiative, which advertises itself as a campaign providing advice on how to raise funds for Syrian refugees, has had face-to-face conversations with thousands of students at university freshers’ fairs without any students realising they were engaging with a government programme. That campaign, called Help for Syria, has distributed leaflets to 760,000 homes without the recipients realising they were government communications.

It’s not hard to see what the British Government is trying to do with such efforts; they are an attempt to control the messaging of the war on Syria, and to redirect grassroots anti-war activism to channels deemed acceptable to the political establishment. Imagine for a moment the impact on an 18-year-old college freshman just stepping into the political arena, and immediately encountering seasoned veteran activists who influence his/her thinking on the nature of the war, who the good guys and bad guys are, and what should be done. Now multiply that by thousands and thousands of students. The impact of such efforts is profound.

But it is much more than simply interactions with prospective activists and the creation of propaganda materials; it is also about surveillance and social media penetration. According to the article, “One of Ricu’s primary tasks is to monitor online conversations among what it describes as vulnerable communities. After products are released, Ricu staff monitor ‘key forums’ for online conversations to ‘track shifting narratives,’ one of the documents [obtained by The Guardian] shows.” It is clear that such efforts are really about online penetration, especially via social media.

By monitoring and manipulating in this way, the British Government is able to influence, in a precise and highly targeted way, the narrative about the war on Syria, ISIS, and a host of issues relevant to both its domestic politics and the geopolitical and strategic interests of the British state. Herein lies the nexus between surveillance, propaganda, and politics.

But of course the UK is not alone in this effort, as the US has a similar program with its Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) which describes its mission as being:

…[to] coordinate, orient, and inform government-wide foreign communications activities targeted against terrorism and violent extremism… CSCC is comprised of three interactive components. The integrated analysis component leverages the Intelligence Community and other substantive experts to ensure CSCC communicators benefit from the best information and analysis available. The plans and operations component draws on this input to devise effective ways to counter the terrorist narrative. The Digital Outreach Team actively and openly engages in Arabic, Urdu, Punjabi, and Somali.

Notice that the CSCC is, in effect, an intelligence hub acting to coordinate propaganda for CIA, DIA, DHS, and NSA, among others. This mission, of course, is shrouded in terminology like “integrated analysis” and “plans and operations” – terms used to designate the various components of the overall CSCC mission. Like RICU, the CSCC is focused on shaping narratives online under the pretext of counter-radicalization.

It should be noted too that CSCC becomes a propaganda clearinghouse of sorts not just for the US Government, but also for its key foreign allies (think Israel, Saudi Arabia, Britain), as well as perhaps favored NGOs like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, or Doctors Without Borders (MSF). As the New York Times noted:

[The CSCC will] harness all the existing attempts at countermessaging by much larger federal departments, including the Pentagon, Homeland Security and intelligence agencies. The center would also coordinate and amplify similar messaging by foreign allies and nongovernment agencies, as well as by prominent Muslim academics, community leaders and religious scholars who oppose the Islamic State.

But taking this information one step further, it calls into question yet again the veracity of much of the dominant narrative about Syria, Libya, ISIS, and related topics. With social media and “citizen journalism” having become so influential in how ordinary people think about these issues, one is yet again forced to consider the degree of manipulation of these phenomena.

Manufacturing Social Media Narratives

It is by now well documented the myriad ways in which Western governments have been investing heavily in tools for manipulating social media in order to shape narratives. In fact, the US CIA alone has invested millions in literally dozens of social media-related startups via its investment arm known as In-Q-Tel. The CIA is spending the tens of millions of dollars providing seed money to these companies in order to have the ability to do everything from data mining to real-time surveillance.

The truth is that we’ve known about the government’s desire to manipulate social media for years. Back in February 2011, just as the wars on Libya and Syria were beginning, an interesting story was published by PC World under the title Army of Fake Social Media Friends to Promote Propaganda which explained in very mundane language that:

…the U.S. government contracted HBGary Federal for the development of software which could create multiple fake social media profiles to manipulate and sway public opinion on controversial issues by promoting propaganda. It could also be used as surveillance to find public opinions with points of view the powers-that-be didn’t like. It could then potentially have their “fake” people run smear campaigns against those “real” people.

Close observers of the US-NATO war on Libya will recall just how many twitter accounts miraculously surfaced, with tens of thousands of followers each, to “report” on the “atrocities” carried out by Muammar Gaddafi’s armed forces, and call for a No Fly Zone and regime change. Certainly one is left to wonder now, as many of us did at the time, whether those accounts weren’t simply fakes created by either a Pentagon computer program, or by paid trolls.

A recent example of the sort of social media disinformation that has been (and will continue to be) employed in the war on Syria/ISIS came in December 2014 when a prominent “ISIS twitter propagandist” known as Shami Witness (@ShamiWitness) was exposed as a man named “Mehdi,” (later confirmed as Mehdi Biswas) described as “an advertising executive” based in Bangalore, India. @ShamiWitness had been cited as an authoritative source – a veritable “wealth of information” – about ISIS and Syria by corporate media outfits, as well as ostensibly “reliable and independent” bloggers such as the ubiquitous Eliot Higgins (aka Brown Moses) who cited Shami repeatedly. This former “expert” on ISIS has now been charged in India with crimes including “supporting a terrorist organisation, waging war against the State, unlawful activities, conspiracy, sedition and promoting enmity.”

In another example of online media manipulation, in early 2011, as the war on Syria was just beginning, a blogger then known only as the “Gay Girl in Damascus” rose to prominence as a key source of information and analysis about the situation in Syria.The Guardian, among other media outlets, lauded her as “an unlikely hero of revolt” who “is capturing the imagination of the Syrian opposition with a blog that has shot to prominence as the protest movement struggles in the face of a brutal government crackdown.” However, by June of 2011, the “brutally honest Gay Girl” was exposed as a hoax, a complete fabrication concocted by one Tom MacMaster. Naturally, the same outlets that had been touting the “Gay Girl” as a legitimate source of information on Syria immediately backtracked and disavowed the blog. However, the one-sided narrative of brutal and criminal repression of peace-loving activists in Syria stuck. While the source was discredited, the narrative remained entrenched.

And this last point is perhaps the key: online manipulation is designed to control narratives. While the war may be fought on the battlefield, it is equally fought for the hearts and minds of activists, news consumers, and ordinary citizens in the West. The UK and US both have extensive information war capabilities, and they’re not afraid to use them. And so, we should not be afraid to expose them.

Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City, he is the founder of StopImperialism.org and OP-ed columnist for RT, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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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Conversation: Russia Delivers Life Into American “Democracy”

It would be a moot point to explain why the United States of America is the biggest threat to humanity. It is a well documented fact now.

While America funded,armed,directed & supported Daesh/ISIS, Russia defeated it and then in true class gave the world a sight to truly behold.

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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Fear and Loathing in the Arabian Nights, by Pepe Escobar

Source: Sputnik News

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US President Barack Obama landed in Saudi Arabia for a GCC petrodollar summit and to proverbially “reassure Gulf allies” amidst the oiliest of storms.

The Doha summit this past weekend that was supposed to enshrine a cut in oil production by OPEC, in tandem with Russia – it was practically a done deal – ended up literally in the dust.

The City of London – via the FT – wants to convey the impression to global public opinion that it all boiled down to a dispute between Prince Mohammed bin Salman – the conductor of the illegal war on Yemen —  and Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi. The son of  — ailing — King Salman has been dubbed “the unpredictable new voice of the kingdom’s energy policy.”

A famous 3 am call did take place in Doha on Sunday. The young Salman called the Saudi delegation and told them the deal was off.  Every other energy market player was stunned by the reversion. 

Yet the true story, according to a financial source with very close links to the House of Saud, is that “the United States threatened the Prince that night with the most dire consequences if he did not back down on the oil price freeze.”

So – predictably — this goes way beyond an internal Saudi matter, or the Prince’s “erratic” behavior, even as the House of Saud is indeed racked by multiple instances of fear and paranoia, as I analysed here.

As the source explains, an oil production cut would have “hindered the US goal of bankrupting Russia via an oil price war, which is what this is all about. Even the Prince is not that erratic.”

Iran had made it more than clear that after the lifting of sanctions it does not have any reason to embark on a production cut. On the contrary; oil contributes to 23% of Iran’s GDP. But as far as the House of Saud is concerned – feeling the pain of a budget deficit of $98 billion in 2015 — a moderate cut was feasible, along with most of OPEC and Russia, as Al-Naimi had promised.

Continue reading Fear and Loathing in the Arabian Nights, by Pepe Escobar

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