The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewPepe Escobar Archive
Financial N-Option Will Settle Trump’s Oil War
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
AgreeDisagreeThanksLOLTroll
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Thanks, LOL, or Troll with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used three times during any eight hour period.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

The bombshell facts were delivered by caretaker Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, during an extraordinary, historic parliamentary session in Baghdad on Sunday.

Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani had flown into Baghdad on a normal carrier flight, carrying a diplomatic passport. He had been sent by Tehran to deliver, in person, a reply to a message from Riyadh on de-escalation across the Middle East. Those negotiations had been requested by the Trump administration.

So Baghdad was officially mediating between Tehran and Riyadh, at the behest of Trump. And Soleimani was a messenger. Adil Abdul-Mahdi was supposed to meet Soleimani at 8:30 am, Baghdad time, last Friday. But a few hours before the appointed time, Soleimani died as the object of a targeted assassination at Baghdad airport.

Let that sink in – for the annals of 21st century diplomacy. Once again: it does not matter whether the assassination order was issued by President Trump, the US Deep State or the usual suspects – or when. After all, the Pentagon had Soleimani on its sights for a long time, but always refused to go for the final hit, fearing devastating consequences.

Now, the fact is that the United States government – on foreign soil, as a guest nation – has assassinated a diplomatic envoy who was on an official mission that had been requested by the United States government itself.

Baghdad will formally denounce this behavior to the United Nations. However, it would be idle to expect UN outrage about the US killing of a diplomatic envoy. International law was dead even before 2003’s Shock and Awe.

Mahdi Army is back

Under these circumstances, it’s no wonder the Iraqi Parliament approved a non-binding resolution asking the Iraqi government to expel foreign troops by cancelling a request for military assistance from the US.

Translation: Yankee go home.

Predictably, Yankee will refuse the demand. Trump: “If they do ask us to leave, if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis, we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”

US troops already are set to remain in Syria illegally – to “take care of the oil.” Iraq, with its extraordinary energy reserves, is an even more serious case. Leaving Iraq means Trump, US neocons and the Deep State lose control, directly and indirectly, of the oil for good. And, most of all, lose the possibility of endless interfering against the Axis of Resistance – Iran-Iraq-Syria-Hezbollah.

Apart from the Kurds – bought and paid for – Iraqis all across the political spectrum are tuned in to public opinion: this occupation is over. That includes Muqtada al-Sadr, who reactivated the Mahdi Army and wants the US embassy shut down for good.

As I saw it live at the time, the Mahdi Army was the Pentagon’s nemesis, especially around 2003-04. The only reason the Mahdi Army were appeased was because Washington offered Sadr Saddam Hussein, the man who killed his father, for summary execution without trial. For all his political inconsistencies, Sadr is immensely popular in Iraq.

Soleimani pysop

Hezbollah’s secretary-general Sayyed Nasrallah, in a very detailed speech, goes to the jugular on the meaning of Soleimani’s assassination.

Nasrallah tells how the US identified the strategic role of Soleimani in every battlefield – Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iran. He tells how Israel saw Soleimani as an “existential threat” but “dared not to kill him. They could have killed him in Syria, where his movements were public.”

So the decision to assassinate Soleimani in public, as Nasrallah reads it, was a psyop. And the “fair retribution” is “ending the American military presence in our region.” All US military personnel will be kept on their toes, watching their backs, full time. This has nothing to do with American citizens: “I’m not talking about picking on them, and picking on them is forbidden to us.”

With a single stroke, the assassination of Soleimani has managed to unite not only Iraqis but Iranians, and in fact the whole Axis of Resistance. On myriad levels, Soleimani could be described as the 21st century Persian Che Guevara: the Americans have made sure he’s metastasizing into the Muslim Resistance Che.

Oil war

No tsunami of pedestrian US mainstream media PR will be able to disguise a massive strategic blunder – not to mention yet another blatantly illegal targeted assassination.

Yet this might as well have been a purposeful blunder. Killing Soleimani does prove that Trump, the Deep State and the usual suspects all agree on the essentials: there can be no entente cordiale between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Divide and rule remains the norm.

Michael Hudson sheds light on what is in effect a protracted “democratic” oil war: “The assassination was intended to escalate America’s presence in Iraq to keep control of the region’s oil reserves, and to back Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi troops (Isis, Al Qaeda in Iraq, Al Nusra and other divisions of what are actually America’s foreign legion) to support U.S. control of Near Eastern oil as a buttress of the US dollar. That remains the key to understanding this policy, and why it is in the process of escalating, not dying down.”

Neither Trump nor the Deep State could not fail to notice that Soleimani was the key strategic asset for Iraq to eventually assert control of its oil wealth, while progressively defeating the Wahhabi/Salafist/jihadi galaxy. So he had to go.

‘Nuclear option’

For all the rumble surrounding Iraqi commitment to expel US troops and the Iranian pledge to react to the Soleimani assassination at a time of its choosing, there’s no way to make the imperial masters listen without a financial hit.

Enter the world derivatives market, which every major player knows is a financial WMD.

The derivatives are used to drain a trillion dollars a year out of the market in manipulated profits. These profits, of course, are protected under the “too big to prosecute” doctrine.

It’s all obviously parasitic and illegal. The beauty is it can be turned into a nuclear option against the imperial masters.

I’ve written extensively about it. New York connections told me the columns all landed on Trump’s desk. Obviously he does not read anything – but the message was there, and also delivered in person.

This past Friday, two American, mid-range, traditional funds bit the dust because they were leveraging in derivatives linked to oil prices.

If Tehran ever decided to shut down the Strait of Hormuz – call it the nuclear option – that would trigger a world depression as trillions of dollars of derivatives imploded.

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) counts about $600 billion in total derivatives. Not really. Swiss sources say there are at least 1.2 quadrillion with some placing it at 2.5 quadrillion. That would imply a derivatives market 28 times the world’s GDP.

On Hormuz, the shortage of 22% of the world oil supply simply could not be papered over. It would detonate a collapse and cause a market crash infinitely worse than 1933 Weimar Germany.

ORDER IT NOW

The Pentagon gamed every possible scenario of a war on Iran – and the results are grim. Sound generals – yes, there are some – know the US Navy would not be able to keep the Strait of Hormuz open: it would have to leave immediately or, as sitting ducks, face total annihilation.

So Trump threatening to destroy 52 Iranian sites – including priceless cultural heritage – is a bluff. Worse: this is the stuff of bragging by an ISIS-worthy barbarian. The Taliban destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas. ISIS nearly destroyed Palmyra. Trump Bakr al-Mar-a-Lago wants to join in as the destroyer of Persian culture.

(Republished from Asia Times by permission of author or representative)
 
Hide 18 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to Ignore...to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
    []
  1. Sean says:

    Muqtada al-Sadr, who reactivated the Mahdi Army and wants the US embassy shut down for good.

    American diplomats can be kicked out of Iraq just like they were from Iran. In the 30 years since the break with the US supposedly oil rich Iran has pauperised its own middle class.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iran-protests-tehran-rouhani-subsidies-a9208021.html
    The news came late Thursday as the season’s first snowfall began blanketing the northern stretches of the Iranian plateau, and just as tired labourers white-collar employees were arriving home for the weekend after another gruelling work week. The price of gasoline, Iranian officials announced on broadcast news, would jump 50 per cent for the first 60 litres.

    Prices for fuel purchased beyond that amount would cost three times as much, about 70p per litre, which, though a bargain worldwide, is an affront to many Iranians conditioned for decades to consider cheap fuel their birthright. The price hikes sparked the biggest nationwide protests since a series of demonstrations over economic woes that began in the last days of 2017 and which ran to the middle of 2018.

    Iraq under Saddam invaded Kuwait and why would Saddam have needed to embark on such a perilous gambit with massive amounts of oil in his own country? Iraq has substantial reserves, but it is no Saudi Arabia. Also

    US to become a net energy exporter in 2020 for first time in nearly 70 years, Energy Dept says. The U.S. will start exporting more energy products than it imports next year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration says. The country has been a net importer of energy since 1953, according to EIA

    Fracking requires technology that the US has a lock on. If C02 fracking ever becomes a thing then. Saudi Arabia will be preferentially be getting that US tech, while countries like Iran and its new buddy Iraq will be unable to give their high cost product away.

    • Replies: @Curmudgeon
  2. @Sean

    Iraq under Saddam invaded Kuwait and why would Saddam have needed to embark on such a perilous gambit with massive amounts of oil in his own country?

    You must be too young to remember, or just didn’t pay attention.
    – Kuwait was using Canadian technology and slant drilling into Iraqi oil reserves. They had also begun drilling in territory that had been disputed for decades.
    – Iraq was broke after the Iran – Iraq war. It began to sell more oil, banking on volume rather than price. The US and Saudi Arabia were interested in price, not volume.
    – It also openly contemplated selling in Euros, given that the bulk of its oil was going to Europe. It did that later, which is the real reason for the 2003 invasion.
    – Saddam asked April Glaspie, who is still under gag order, the US position on conflict. The dispute with Kuwait was to be mediated by Hosni Mubarak. Kuwait avoided meeting dates for some time. Shortly before the mediation, Kuwait cancelled.
    http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/ARTICLE5/april.html

    The wars on Iraq were about keeping oil in the ground, and turning it over to the usual suspects.

    • Replies: @Sean
  3. That would imply a derivatives market 28 times the world’s GDP.

    Sometime shortly after the 2008 fiasco, I read an article claiming that the derivatives had a value of 23 times the world’s GDP, so 28 would not be out of the realm of possibility.
    Remember, no actions were taken to stop the derivative market post 2008. Brooksley Born went head to head with Greenspan in front of a Congressional Committee in the late 90s, claiming derivatives were illegal, and accurately predicting what the result would be. She lost and resigned. Greenspan should have been sent to prison, for life, along with every POS in the Big Casino.

    Round 2 coming up.

  4. Sean says:
    @Curmudgeon

    I remember very well that when Saddam started massing his army on the borders of Kuwait no one could believe he was serious. April Glaspie’s response to Saddam’s complaints about the territorial dispute and Kuwaiti drilling was a mild retort that the US had no opinion on inter Arab quarrels, so there was no hostility whatsoever toward Saddan for either lowering the price of oil or thinking about selling in Euros.

    The wars on Iraq were about keeping oil in the ground, and turning it over to the usual suspects.

    If Saddam had such huge oil fields he could produce enough to pay off Iraq’s war debts. You cannot seriously be saying that the Kuwaitis were stealing all his oil sideways faster than he could bring it straight up! And from reserves so great they were capable of bringing the world price down. Saddam was not under sanctions and denied nothing in the way of oil production equipment by the US. But he was really stupid and thought the US would allow him to conquer Kuwait, which as he said, was one of the Gulf statelets created to seperate the mass of Arab population from the oil wealth.

    https://images.csmonitor.com/csm/2015/01/unnamed.jpg?alias=standard_900x600

    Bush the Elder decided to drive Saddam out of Kuwait, but leave him in power in Iraq. Yet with Saddan having already demonstrated he was bona fide maniac, no one could take it for granted that he would not try the same invasion trick again, but with with Saudi Arabia this time. And so the U.S. military went into the country in 1990 to deter an attack by Saddam Hussein.

    The external threats the Saud family regime faced from Saddam could not be be neutralised by having strong US forces stationed in Saudi Arabia indefinitely, because as became increasingly clear the devout/ radical nationalist feelings of Saudis Arabs were outraged, and the regime was in peril as much if not more from domestic than external threat. Osama bin Laden’s main complaint was the US forces being in Saudi Arabia. To remove those forces it would be necessary to first remove Saddam from power in Iraq, then immediately get the US forces out of Saudi Arabia. And that is exactly what happened.

    • Replies: @Johnny Rico
  5. Why was Soleimani so stupid about his personal and operational security?

  6. @Sean

    I tend to believe that Saddam invaded Kuwait largely because he owed them a lot of money.

    • Replies: @Sean
    , @barr
  7. Syria has no oil worth speaking about. Escobar, Hudson, Giraldi, Johnstone and every other writer on UNZ don’t seem to understand this basic reality.

    Kurds and ISIS and Assad may squabble about it but it is meaningless in terms of geo-political strategy.

    The US is everywhere in the region to both protect the Ghawar field and Ras Tanura complex and let the royal family know the only reason their heads are still attached to their necks is because the US is there and we are “friends” – without actually saying it. That would be awkward. And Sean is right, it is much easier for everybody without having actual troops in the Kingdom.

    • Agree: Sean
    • Replies: @Erebus
    , @barr
    , @Anonymous
  8. Sean says:
    @Johnny Rico

    He went up against Israel in 1973, took heavy losses without flinching, and was proposing a renewed offensive when Assad decided to come to terms. Iran was rather big for Iraq and his Sunni troops would be fighting Sunnis, but he attacked that too.

  9. Erebus says:
    @Johnny Rico

    Syria has no oil worth speaking about… it is meaningless in terms of geo-political strategy.

    Think again. The writers you mention seem to have a deeper grasp of the situation than you’re able to fathom.

    Though it’ll never be an oil giant, Syria’s oil suffices to guarantee its economic viability – even prosperity – and an economically viable Syria is nothing if not very meaningful “in terms of geo-political strategy”.

    Surely, that needs no explication, but if you’re still at a loss just ask Baghdad, Tehran, Moscow… or Washington, who’s now “securing” that “meaningless” Syrian oil precisely to deny Syria the economic viability that would allow its geo-politically strategic value to emerge.

    As for why…

    … The US is everywhere in the region…

    … it’s primarily to ensure not only that the House of Saud keeps its collective heads attached, but that no fancy ideas of selling oil in currencies other than USDs enters them.

    As we saw with Abqaiq, they’re incapable of even noticing that anything’s being attacked, much less defending it.

    • Replies: @Showmethereal
  10. barr says:
    @Johnny Rico

    Absolutely. Control of oil serves many purposes – starving other countries of energy if needed . Starving the oil producing countries if needed like Iran has been .
    Causing wars as was created between Iran and Iraq .
    Creating a world currency based in the resources of another country.
    Developing domestic economy based on cheap oil and free oil because reserve currency can be printed without limit which can buy oil.
    Using oil as support for reserve currency , America actullay can buy any commodity any stuff free because it can force invisibly every country to trade in dollars, other countries have to buy dollars which US can and does print freely .

    Developing military with unlimited expenditure

    It’s a peculiar system other countries have brought on themselves by agreeing to sell and buy oil in dollars or allowing any reserve currency
    Reserve currency also allows corruption . Massive transfer of wealth from Nigeria Pakistan or India or China wouldn’t take place without this arrangement.

    Dollarization is a curse on Non American .

    What is seen with awe and respect today will be viewed with hateful mindset with tendency for revenge tomorrow. That is America’s situation .

    • Replies: @Parfois1
    , @Parfois1
  11. barr says:
    @Johnny Rico

    You can believe anything you want . Iraq repeatedly asked Kuwait to stop the practice. Repeatedly asked Arab !league to do something about it . It conveyed to other countries in region that it would use force and then it did because Kuwait knew it had America. Kuwait passed message that it would bring America.

    May be one day a powerful country might be tempted to use same template and use Puerto Rico same way against USA. Or Wales against Britain .

  12. Even if the US were able to keep the Strait of Hormuz open Washington faces an even grimmer scenario if the course of events leads it into confrontation with a Sino-Russian alliance. The derivative markets will disappear as will the world.
    https://www.ghostsofhistory.wordpress.com/

  13. Anonymous[375] • Disclaimer says:
    @Johnny Rico

    Syria has no oil worth speaking about. Escobar, Hudson, Giraldi, Johnstone and every other writer on UNZ don’t seem to understand this basic reality.

    But Syria can house pipelines carrying Mideast oil to the eastern Med and then on to Europe and world markets. Oil is useless unless you can move it out of the ground, and thus Syria’s location is important in that regard. The US does not like unfriendly or hostile regimes to be in middlemen positions between large energy reserves and large energy consumers. This is why the US is hostile to the Nordstream project that moves natural gas from Russia to Germany.

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2015/12/08/syria-ultimate-pipelineistan-war/

    Syria is an energy war. With the heart of the matter featuring a vicious geopolitical competition between two proposed gas pipelines, it is the ultimate Pipelinestan war, the term I coined long ago for the 21st century imperial energy battlefields.

    It all started in 2009, when Qatar proposed to Damascus the construction of a pipeline from its own North Field – contiguous with the South Pars field, which belongs to Iran – traversing Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria all the way to Turkey, to supply the EU.

    Damascus, instead, chose in 2010 to privilege a competing project, the $10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria, also know as «Islamic pipeline». The deal was formally announced in July 2011, when the Syrian tragedy was already in motion. In 2012, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed with Iran.

    Until then, Syria was dismissed, geo-strategically, as not having as much oil and gas compared to the GCC petrodollar club. But insiders already knew about its importance as a regional energy corridor. Later on, this was enhanced with the discovery of serious offshore oil and gas potential.

    • Replies: @Johnny Rico
  14. @Anonymous

    Syria IS not an energy corridor. The energy corridor goes right by it through the Suez.

    “Potential” being the key word in your comment.

    The Russians are desperate to maintain a presence outside the Dardanelles. That is all Assad has.

  15. @Erebus

    Yup all about protecting the Saudis. “Desert Shield” was before “storm”. The shield was about protecting the Saudi oil. Kuwait was a side story. Ironically that was turned Bin Laden and Al Queda against the US and Saudi governemnt. They had all that training and arms supplied to them to fight in Afghanistan and wanted to go topple Saddam themselves. Real life has more twists and turns than any movie.

  16. Parfois1 says:
    @barr

    It’s a peculiar system other countries have brought on themselves by agreeing to sell and buy oil in dollars or allowing any reserve currency.

    Reserve currency also allows corruption . Massive transfer of wealth from Nigeria Pakistan or India or China wouldn’t take place without this arrangement.

    That is the crux of the whole geopolitical system of US dominance. Add to that the Israel element and it becomes the Usrael monster who combines military power with the malignancy of the Zionist creed.

    It is imperative to stress the dual role of the Zionist entity in this diabolical plot to extract wealth from all countries involved in foreign trade (all mankind in fact) for the enjoyment of the international financial elites and, simultaneously, fund the US insatiable debt and its military. The Zionist entity needs the protection of the US military and “diplomacy” (veto power at the UN); and that protection enables (gives a pretext) for the US to intervene in the Middle East while providing the conditions for permanent instability and war in that region. They are both entwined in that vicious alliance I call Usrael as a mutual protection racket and figleaf cover for daylight robbery and international thuggery. Of course, the icing on the cake is the control of oil flows, pricing and starving some inconvenient countries of energy sources if necessary. (Remember how Japan was led to Pearl Harbor)

    No wonder it was a Jewish mind who came up with that plot for mass extortion and corruption, the first stage for the ultimate prize of globalization, that is, the parasitic take over of mankind.

  17. Parfois1 says:
    @barr

    It’s a peculiar system other countries have brought on themselves by agreeing to sell and buy oil in dollars or allowing any reserve currency

    (Forgot to address that topic in comment above)

    Well, there are precedents why that is so. If you disagree with the diktats of Usrael, then the consequences will follow: Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Col. Gaddafi’s Libya, Al-Assad’s Syria and so on as far back as the gunboat diplomacy to bring Japan to the “Market” religion.

    Most countries’ rulers are either frightened or corrupted vassals. How many have the spine and dignity to defy Usrael? When one ponders that question, the resilience of Cuba, North Korea, Iran and a few others is quite humbling for it keeps alive the flame of Resistance and hope that others might join that honourable club.

  18. Does anyone else share the suspicion that the larger aggressions in which the U.S. is involved could account for the recurrent fires and explosions affecting apartment towers, factories and munition dumps in the Russian Federation. These are the people who deployed Stuxnet so the ability to hack safety systems and much else should be taken as a given.

Current Commenter
says:

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone


 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments have been licensed to The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Pepe Escobar Comments via RSS
PastClassics
Our Reigning Political Puppets, Dancing to Invisible Strings
The unspoken statistical reality of urban crime over the last quarter century.
Talk TV sensationalists and axe-grinding ideologues have fallen for a myth of immigrant lawlessness.