Earlier today we reported that, on very short notice, Saudi Arabia had moved heavy military equipment including artillery to areas near its border with Yemen, "raising the risk that the Middle East’s top oil power will be drawn into the worsening Yemeni conflict." In other words, Saudi Arabia was preparing for war.
Shortly thereafter, but before Yemen's president bravely fled the country over fears of the Houthi rebel advance, Yemen's foreign minister called for Arab military intervention against advancing Shiite rebels.
As we explicitly warned, "the conflict risked spiraling into a proxy war with Shi'ite Iran backing the Houthis, whose leaders adhere Shi'ite Islam, and Saudi Arabia and the other regional Sunni Muslim monarchies backing Hadi."
Moments ago all these warnings were borne out when Al-Arabiya reported that the latest middle-east war is now official after Saudi Arabia and Arab Gulf States had launched a bombing campaign against Yemen.
Saudi Arabia’s Royal Air Force bombed the positions of Yemen’s Houthi militia, Al Arabiya News Channel reported early on Thursday.
Arab Gulf states had announced that they have decided to “repel Houthi aggression” in neighboring Yemen, following a request from the country’s President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
In their joint statement Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait said they "decided to repel Houthi militias, al-Qaeda and ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] in the country.”
The Gulf states warned that the Houthi coup in Yemen represented a “major threat” to the region’s stability.
To summarize: Saudi Arabia is now bombing a rebel force that has been armed by the US and is backed by Iran, even as the US is bombing an enemy of Iran in Iraq with the blessing of Saudi Arabia.
All in a day's work in the Middle East.
As for oil's reaction: at first the algos appeared to not have gotten the memo, or perhaps they simply priced it in all day today with oil's inexplicable surge even as everything else was crashing...
America is fully aware that the way to draw Russia into a conflict is to push forward towards Russia's borders. In time, Russia will be forced to defend its right to exist, and when this happens, western powers will not know what hit them
One important historical fact about Russia is that Russia is a unique civilizational empire built upon defense not offense. What this means is that historically, Russia does not start the wars, or series of wars (though it may strike first in a confrontation that is punctuated by a series of wars). In Russian history, Russian leaders, since Russia's baptism to Orthodoxy, have tried hard to avoid war with our neighbors, though just about every time this has failed. In parallel, as much as we do not like war, and in Orthodoxy killing in combat is still a sin as we do not have the heresy of Just War, we are very very good at killing and destroying. A paradox, but it is the reality.
The problems with modern, and in truth historical, Western politicos is that these guys are absolute fools with no understanding of the Russian psyche and are sure to be the cause of WW3, be it intentional or accidental. They are projecting their psyche onto Russians.
Russia is a defensive empire, that is, most wars or series of wars were not started by Russians but by enemies attacking or massing on Russia's borders. After 800 years of almost non-stop aggression by Europeans, Russia does not tolerate any enemy massing on her borders in what appears as a preparation for invasion or the creation of large scales basing areas as would be a US neo-con dominated Ukraine.This is also coupled with the Russian approach of not abandoning Russians (ethnic or cultural) and allies, as opposed to Anglo society where back stabbing allies when the opportunity to earn exists, is a prized skill.
As such, this is a spiral approach. Any escalation by the foreigners will lead to a direct escalation by Russia and not deescalation. Balance of power does not work when Russia feels her survival threatened. Enough of an enemy escalation in the hope of forcing Russia to back off will generate an exact opposite effect in generating a first strike and total war, as Russia feels her life and existence is threatened by the enemy.
The present serving armies of NATO would be used up in 3-4 months. That would amount to almost a million and a half dead and wounded.
The Obama administration’s determination to reach an accord with Iran at any cost continues unabated. As the March 31st deadline approaches, the administration has taken to recklessly downplaying Iran’s increasing belligerence, as well as continuing a coordinated attack on Iran’s chief critic, newly re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
This weekend, the White House dismissed a speech by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei that included more chants of “Death to America” by both the crowd and Khamenei himself, insisting that it was only “intended for a domestic political audience.”
Those so-called constructive conversations are apparently sufficient to offset more than the Ayatollah’s weekend rhetoric. In a nationally televised show broadcast in February, Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard participated in a war games drill during which they assaulted and destroyed a replica of a U.S. aircraft carrier. “American aircraft carriers are very big ammunition depots housing a lot of missiles, rockets, torpedoes and everything else,” said the Guard’s navy chief, Adm. Ali Fadavi. Fadavi had previously boasted that his forces are capable of taking out aircraft carriers should war arise. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the Guard’s chief commander, declared that the drills send a “message of (Iran’s) might” to “extraterritorial powers,” a reference to the United States. The simulation, called Great Prophet 9, took place near the Strait of Hormuz, a critical waterway though which more than 20 percent of the world’s oil passes.
The Obama administration was equally dismissive of that effort. “We are aware of a recent exercise by Iranian naval forces involving a mock-up of a vessel similar to an aircraft carrier,” said Defense Department spokeswoman Cmdr. Elissa Smith. “We are confident in our naval forces’ ability to defend themselves against any maritime threat.”
Such an easygoing attitude towards a country that remains on the State Department’s list of terror-sponsoring nations stands in stark contrast to the Obama administration’s treatment of Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On Monday, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonoough led the offensive. In a speech at aimed at left-wing activists attending J Street’s fifth annual conference in Washington, D.C., he attacked the Jewish State’s occupation of the West Bank. “An occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years must end, and the Palestinian people must have the right to live in and govern themselves in their own sovereign state,” he insisted. He also reiterated the tiresome trope regarding a two-state solution. “Palestinian children deserve the same right to be free in their own land as Israeli children in their land,” he declared. “A two-state solution will finally bring Israelis the security and normalcy to which they are entitled, and Palestinians the sovereignty and dignity they deserve.”
There may be nothing more intellectually bankrupt than the progressive notion that Israel remains the chief obstacle to either a two-state solution, or that such a solution is the ultimate cure for Middle East violence. Charles Krauthammer deftly exposes that bankruptcy. “I have news for the lowing herds: There would be no peace and no Palestinian state if Isaac Herzog were prime minister either,” he wrote following the outpouring of leftist handwringing that accompanied Netanyahu’s re-election. “Or Ehud Barak or Ehud Olmert for that matter. The latter two were (non-Likud) prime ministers who offered the Palestinians their own state — with its capital in Jerusalem and every Israeli settlement in the new Palestine uprooted — only to be rudely rejected.”
It’s worse than that. Following Netanyahu’s re-election, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO have not only threatened to halt security coordination with Israel, but indicated they will also engage in a “comprehensive dialogue” with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, aimed at facilitating their takeover of the West Bank. Both groups are dedicated to the annihilation of Israel, and would undoubtedly use the West Bank as a staging area to do so. Regardless, Israel remains the focus of the Obama administration’s ire.
In the meantime, Israel and Netanyahu remain a punching bag of convenience for a desperate president and a clueless administration whose Middle East track record has been nothing short of catastrophic. It is not inconceivable that Obama and company would countenance a terrible deal with Iran for nothing more than the ability to bask in a self-aggrandizing “historical” moment that is nothing of the sort. In a devastatingly accurate New York Post column, Michael Goodwin describes Obama as a president who “abandons our allies, appeases tyrants, coddles adversaries and uses the Crusades as an excuse for inaction as Islamist terrorists slaughter their way across the Mideast.” Why? “If Obama’s six years in office teach us anything, it is that he is impervious to appeals to good sense,” Goodwin states. “Quite the contrary. Even respectful suggestions from supporters that he behave in the traditions of American presidents fill him with angry determination to do it his way.”
A decree that was signed on March 10 by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin implies that both the government and the Bank of Russia in close cooperation with the central banks of the EEU member states should determine the possible ways of monetary and financial integration, along with evaluating the possible benefits for the respective economies. By June 1 Russia’s government should ensure that Russian ministries and departments are engaged in the creation of a unified market of goods and services, while making all the necessary legislative adjustments to Russian laws.
In addition, the recent devaluation of ruble has made dollar exchange between the EEU states more expensive. To make matter worse, the West, following the policies imposed by Washington, is constantly threatening Russian to disconnect it from the SWIFT international payment system, while the members of the EEU are still obtaining confirmation from Western financial centers when they carry out transactions within the Union, but this situation is about to change.
On 1 January 2015, the EEU has officially become the spiritual heir of the Customs Union, and today its members: Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia are negotiating the accession of yet another member to the EEU in the near future – it’s Kyrgyzstan. Last year, the members of the EEU have signed an agreement in Kazakhstan on the creation of Eurasian Central Bank that will have the authority to emit a common currency.
As for the name of the new currency, it is unlikely that we will see “ruble” being used again. Last year, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev proposed two names:
- “euras” – similar to the European currency,
- “altin” – the name that was widespread during the times of the Golden Horde
The main advantage of that new currency is that, unlike dollars and a number of other modern currencies, it will be supported by some real economic figures. Those conditions, according to international experts, are pretty unique, since only Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Canada and South Africa can achieve something of the sort today. For this reason, there’s a high probability that this new currency will not only be used by the countries of the Eurasian Union alone, but by a number of other countries, that do want to get rid of their dependence on Washington. In fact this trend has already started, since Germany, Italy and France have voiced their intentions to become founders of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank that is being created by China, while Turkey and Iran are considering the option of joining the EEU.
“So it will be official by next Tuesday, March 31st. This AIIB is going to be a competitor to the IMF and the World Bank. Again, the United States has been putting pressure on its allies not to join but one by one they are joining anyway.
So after the UK, we had France, Germany and Italy join. Now it appears that even South Korea is going to join. When you look at the reasons why these countries are joining it’s very clear: The United States has a military pivot to Asia, but China’s pivot to Asia is business. So the business of America is war but the business of China is business.
For example, 12 percent of South Korea’s exports go to the United States but 25 percent go to China. You can see South Korea's motivation — it's money. So the United States sent over U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, Daniel Russell, to try to talk the South Koreans out of joining. The U.S. was saying they have to make sure the AIIB meets, ‘The high-water mark,’ of the World Bank and the IMF.
When you look at the development of the BRIC nations as well, going with their banking systems, you can see this is more and more of a move away from the United States and the dollar as a reserve currency and the United States as a world power. It’s a new millennium shift to the East that’s being overlooked by the mainstream media, but the implications of this are enormous.”
It would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago for the White House to consider furling up the diplomatic umbrella it had used for decades to shield Israel at the UN.
But even as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has attempted to do damage control for a series of recent controversial pronouncements, reiterating his support for a two-state solution and apologizing for his election day anti-Arab rhetoric, Washington seemingly remains determined to “reassess” its policy vis-à-vis Israel and the Palestinians.
While the administration insists it has made no changes to US policy yet, officials say that President Barack Obama strongly is considering backing Palestinian moves at the United Nations Security Council.
This could mean that Washington will hold back from vetoing a French or Jordanian resolution calling for the creation of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines with land swaps.
Jerusalem have to fear an immediate barrage of harsh sanctions or other punitive measures as a direct result of a resolution in Turtle Bay.
But a Security Council resolution would signal to the international community that the Americans are no longer interested in providing cover for Israel’s desire to maintain the status quo, which is liable to set in motion a diplomatic avalanche that will ultimately weaken Israel’s position in negotiations with the Palestinians.
While no sanctions come automatically with the violation of a Security Council resolution, the administration’s putative move at the UN might spur the European Union to start implementing punitive measures, such as labeling West Bank products, which would negatively impact Israel’s economy, he said.
Jerusalem adamantly opposes any Security Council resolution on the Palestinian issue, though it appears few efforts are being made to dissuade the Americans from their ostensible plan to push for one.
U.S. Hegemony, Dollar Dominance Are Officially Dead As China Scores Overwhelming Victory In Bank Battle
It’s official: everyone has caught onto the fact that the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank story is extremely important. We’ve covered this exhaustively over the past month, but to summarize, the China-led development bank essentially marks an epochal shift away from traditionally US-dominated multinational institutions like the IMF and the ADB. Meanwhile, it also represents an implicit attempt by the Chinese to usher in a kind of sino-Monroe Doctrine and solidify their regional — and, to a certain extent their international — ambitions. In a desperate attempt to undermine the effort and preserve what’s left of US hegemony, Washington aggressively lobbied its allies last year to refrain from supporting the effort. Then the UK decided to join calling the bank an “unrivaled opportunity.” That effectively opened the floodgates and in short order, a bevy of Western nations and close US allies suddenly reversed course and indicated they were likely to support the new institution. Here’s more:
China’s clout has been expanding for decades, as its rapid growth allowed it to snap up a rising share of the world’s resources, its exports penetrated global markets, and its bulging financial assets gave it power to make big individual loans and purchases. Now, the creation of international lending institutions is leveraging that economic influence closer to the political and diplomatic arenas, as U.S. allies defy America to back China’s initiative.
“This is the beginning of a bigger role for China in global affairs,” said Jim O’Neill, U.K.-based former chief economist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., who coined the term BRICs in 2001 to highlight the rising economic power of Brazil, Russia, India and China…
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s vision of achieving the same great-power status enjoyed by the U.S. received a major boost this month when the U.K., Germany, France and Italy signed on to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The AIIB will have authorized capital of $100 billion and starting funds of about $50 billion.
Canada is considering joining, which would leave the U.S. and Japan as the only Group of Seven holdouts as they question the institution’s governance and environmental standards.
The more isolated the US becomes as it relates to the new venture, the more transparent its motives seem. This was never about “standards” (the original excuse for Washington’s opposition to the bank), but rather about stifling Chinese ambition because, as we noted previously, while “starting an infrastructure development bank may not be an overt act of aggression, if you just sit idly by and let a rising superpower build stuff, it sends the wrong message, especially [when your allies] aren’t willing to spend at least 4% of [their] GDP on the military.”
To be sure, this is a delicate time for the US in terms of its position on the world stage. The petrodollar is dying, Russia is reasserting itself in Eastern Europe, US-Israeli relations are quickly deteriorating, and now, the world is shifting away from ineffectual US-dominated multinational institutions that, in one way or another, have defined the post WW2 world. The US would be wise to adjust its foreign policy to reflect this new reality rather than desperately cling to the notion that world history is and always will be written by Washington.