VICTOR DAVIS HANSEN ON BRINGING BAKU INTO THE E.U.; THE NAGORNO CONFLICT; HERE'S WHY BAKU (A NET EXPORTER OF OIL) ON THE CASPIAN SEA MATTERS
India wants to keep buying Iranian oil at its current level of about 300,000 barrels per day (bpd), as it negotiates with the Washington about extending a sanctions waiver past early May, two sources in India with knowledge of the matter said. – Reuters
Iran hopes to have its part of a new payments vehicle — devised to allow it to trade with EU firms despite US sanctions — — ready within a fortnight, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said Wednesday. – Agence France-Presse
Israel‘s navy could take action against Iranian oil smuggling, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday, urging world powers to foil any effort by Tehran to evade US sanctions. – Reuters
Hanin Ghaddar writes: Despite Hezbollah’s repeated claims that foreign sanctions would not affect its capabilities, evidence suggests that the group is facing a serious financial crisis. Its leaders have already implemented harsh new austerity measures, and sources close to the group believe these efforts will become more severe over time. […]Although Iran has not stopped sending money to Hezbollah so far, the group realizes that continued sanctions and/or altered regional circumstances may require it to seek alternative sources of funding down the road. – Washington Institute
Pakistan’s military is taking a key role in the development of one of the world’s biggest untapped copper and gold deposits, which is currently stalled by a multi-billion dollar legal wrangle with foreign mining firms, multiple sources familiar with the situation said. – Reuters
Asad Hashim writes: The question is one that strikes at the heart of how power is distributed in Pakistan; of whether an elected civilian leader can exert control over the country’s powerful military; of whether Pakistan is truly willing to give up support for armed groups that it has used as proxies for decades; and of whether the country—which has long frustrated successive U.S. governments, likely none more so than Donald Trump’s administration—is truly changing its foreign-policy and security stances beyond a focus on neighboring India. – The Atlantic
Arzan Tarapore writes: The India-Pakistan crisis seems to have peaked. The two sides continue to trade intermittent small-arms and artillery fire across the Line of Control that divides Kashmir. India has shown itself to be more and more militarily aggressive after the 2016 and 2019 responses. Unlike the deniable 2016 raid, India’s 2019 strike at Balakot compelled Pakistan to retaliate. But an India with few other viable options for deterrence, increasingly enamored by military swashbuckling and encouraged by the United States, may become seduced by competitive risk-taking. – War on the Rocks
IRAN'S PORT OF CHABAHAR OPENS INDIAN FOREIGN POLICY TOWARD REFORMING AFGHANISTAN: STRATEGY, OIL AND GOODS
Chabahar Port Deal Threatens to Capsize Iran Sanctions
Varsha Koduvayur | Senior Research AnalystAndrew Gabel | Research Analyst
Libya’s largest oil field to resume operations
Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) announced on Monday that it is reopening its largest oil field. Forces loyal to the eastern Libyan government and to military strongman Gen. Khalifa Hifter took control of the El Sharara field last month. Hifter’s offensive came after local tribesmen seized the field demanding their salaries from the Tripoli-backed NOC. Tripoli said its decision to reopen El Sharara came after it received assurances from Hifter’s forces that all armed groups had left the field. El Sharara normally produces 315,000 barrels of oil per day. Read More
Tobruk parliamentarian explains south Libya's support for Hifter
In an interview with Al-Monitor, a member of the Tobruk-based parliament talks about Gen. Khalifa Hifter’s operation to cleanse the south from armed gangs and secure oil fields.
Based in the east of Libya, Khalifa Haftar has made no secret of his ambition to capture Tripoli, the northwestern seat of the internationally-recognized government. His threats were long dismissed as bombast, but a lightening advance through the south this year has put Haftar in control of most oil resources and could embolden him to make his much-vaunted final push. – Bloomberg
THE MOUNTING CRISIS EATING AWAY AT THE HOUSE OF SAUD & CYPRIAN GAS RESERVE DISCOVERY SCRAMBLES REGIONAL RIVALS
Mammoth gas discovery off Cyprus intensifies regional rivalries
Cyprus’ Energy Minister Georgios Lakkotrypis announced on Thursday that ExxonMobil has discovered the third-biggest gas deposit in the world off the coast of the island, which is subject to territorial claims from Turkey. The deposit is southwest of the island, close to Egypt’s territorial waters, and contains anywhere from 142 billion to 227 billion cubic meters of gas. ExxonMobil Vice President Tristan Aspray floated constructing a plant to process the gas on Greek Cyprus. Exxon partners with Qatar Petroleum to carry out exploratory drilling off the Mediterranean island, a point of contention with Turkey despite its alliance with Doha. Read More
While it is unrealistic to expect a dramatic turnaround of an oil-revenue-dependent economy within a few years, it is also hard to imagine how Saudi Arabia can sustain the current rate of expenditure. Finish here.
Saudi Gas Export Plan Shines New Light on Efforts to Isolate Iran
By Dr. James M. Dorsey, March 14, 2019
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Saudi plans to become a major gas exporter within a decade raise questions about what the real goal of the kingdom’s policy, and by extension that of the US, is towards Iran.
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Aramco boosts crown prince's agenda with $10 billion bond to buy Saudi petrochemicals giant
Saudi Aramco will issue its first bond of $10 billion as early as next week, the Wall Street Journal reported today. The bond will shed unprecedented light on the operations of Saudi Arabia’s state-run oil company as it seeks to buy a majority stake in Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC), the kingdom’s petrochemicals firm. Riyadh has repeatedly delayed publicly listing Aramco. The move is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s efforts to modernize and diversfiy the kingdom's oil-based economy. Read More
LIBYA: CRUX OF NORTH AFRICA FOR THE LONG WAR MUST RESUME OUTPUT & AFGHANISTAN RESUMES EXPORTS VIA INDIA'S IRANIAN PORT
Libya’s El Sharara oilfield, the country’s biggest, remains closed because an armed group is still there, the chairman of state oil firm NOC said on Sunday. – Reuters
Afghanistan began exports to India through an Iranian port on Sunday, official said, as the landlocked, war-torn nation turns to overseas markets to improve its economy. – Reuters
The Gulf’s eastward turn: The logic of Gulf-China economic ties
Karen E. Young | American Enterprise Institute
Arab Gulf states are expanding their political and economic ties with China as a bridge strategy to create a next-generation energy market in traditional oil and gas products, as well as petrochemical production and future market access in expected areas of consumer growth.
WHY CAN'T MIDDLE EASTERN ECONOMIES DIVERSIFY OUT FROM OIL? AL JAZEERA EXAMINES POLITICS IN THE LAND OF ISHMAEL
Is Libya's revolution anniversary cause for celebration?
It seems Libyans have nothing to celebrate on the eighth anniversary of its revolution.
Eastern forces hand southern oil field over to Libyan state oil company
Forces loyal to eastern strongman Khalifa Hifter handed Libya’s largest oil field over to state oil guards on Tuesday in an effort to get the national oil company to restart production. The self-proclaimed Libyan National Army took control of El Sharara, which normally produces 315,000 barrels of oil per day, earlier this month. Oil production closed down in December after local tribesmen seized the field to pressure the state to make financial and other concessions. A spokesman for the Tripoli-based National Oil Company said on Tuesday the oil field will reopen once inspection and security arrangements are in place. Read More
Hifter’s forces take southern Libya’s largest oil field
Forces loyal to military strongman Khalifa Hifter captured southern Libya’s largest oil field on Wednesday without a fight. El Sharara field, which normally produces 315,000 barrels of oil per day, has been closed since December by local tribesmen demanding their salaries be paid. Hifter’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) launched a military offensive last month in southern Libya to eliminate armed groups and secure oil facilities. Read More
Gadhafi-linked Libyan oil tycoon enters Washington lobbying fray
Libyan oil tycoon Hassan Tatanaki has begun lobbying in the US in an effort to get the Donald Trump administration to get behind the push for fresh elections in the war-torn country.
Why southern Libya overwhelmingly supports Hifter
Despite negative media coverage, Libya’s military strongman Gen. Khalifa Hifter’s takeover of Sabha in the south was widely welcomed by local tribes that are tired of dealing with gangs and criminals.
Eastern Libyan forces clash with tribesmen in push for southern oil fields
Forces loyal to eastern strongman Khalifa Hifter took control on Thursday of the El Feel oil field in Libya’s southwest. Earlier this month, the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA) seized the country's largest oil field, El Sharara, from striking tribesmen before handing it over to the state oil company this week. The LNA is leading an offensive in the south to secure oil fields and eliminate criminal gangs.
Meanwhile, violent clashes between Hifter's army and local tribesmen in the southern city of Murzuq continued for a second day. The LNA lost three of its soldiers when it entered the city on Wednesday, while at least 11 tribesmen have been reportedly killed. Read More
What’s yours is mine: Gulf sovereign wealth funds as a barometer of state-society relations
Karen E. Young | Project on Middle East Political Science
The moment of late-rentierism is now heightening questions of ownership and of the state’s role as guardian of society’s wealth.
TEAM TRUMP'S DIPLOMATIC COUP AGAINST IRAN VIA GERMANY: FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES COVERS A WIN
Arab states should beware of indexes bearing easy money
Karen E. Young | Bloomberg Opinion
Is new energy league an alliance against Ankara?
A Cairo-based partnership among Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority is ready to explore energy sources in the eastern Mediterranean — whether Turkey likes it or not.
A Primer on the Geopolitics of Oil by Anand Toprani
Saudi Arabia plans to set up a $10 billion oil refinery in Pakistan’s deepwater port of Gwadar, the Saudi energy minister said on Saturday, speaking at the Indian Ocean port that is being developed with the help of China. – Reuters
Iran turns to India to bypass US sanctions
Iran’s foreign minister said during a visit to India today that cooperation with the European Union to circumvent US sanctions is moving slower than expected. “We continue to work with the Europeans for the special purpose vehicle, but we are not waiting for them,” Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters. “We are working with our traditional partners like India, like China, like Russia so that we continue to work in the interest of our people." Zarif hopes to drum up business with India and work out a mechanism to conduct trade without using the US dollar even as New Delhi has received a sanctions waiver from Washington to continue importing Iranian oil. Read More
On Geopolitics: Looking Back at 2018
From Stratfor Worldview: “ ... from the technological battle between the West and China to questions about the development of artificial intelligence, the militarization of space and U.S. President Donald Trump's intentions on the global scene. "
5 Big National Security Predictions for 2019
By James Holmes, The National Interest: “Winston Churchill once wisecracked that the politician’s job is to predict what will happen—then explain why it didn’t. More to the point, George Orwell mocked “the unsinkable Military Expert” who keeps venturing strong predictions about martial affairs, keeps getting forecasts wrong, and keeps drawing “fat salaries” despite repeated failures as a soothsayer. Be humble when prophesying—lest the ghosts of wars past appear before you and terrify you!”