Archive for January, 2012

Obama’s Secret Letter to Tehran: Is the War against Iran On Hold?

January 25, 2012

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
4th Media

January 23, 2012

“The Road to Tehran Goes through Damascus”

The New York Times announced that the Obama Administration had sent an important letter to the leadership of Iran on January 12, 2012. [1]

On January 15, 2012, the spokesperson of the Iranian Foreign Ministry acknowledged that the letter had been delivered to Tehran by way of three diplomatic channels:

(1) one copy of the letter was handed to the Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammed Khazaee, by his U.S. counterpart, Susan Rice, in New York City;

(2) a second copy of the letter was delivered in Tehran by the Swiss Ambassador to Iran, Livia Leu Agosti; and

(3) a third copy went to Iran by way of Jalal Talabani of Iraq. [2]

In the letter, the White House spelled out the position of the United States, while Iranian officials said it was a sign of things as they really are: the U.S. cannot afford to wage a war against Iran.

Within the letter written by President Barak Hussein Obama was a U.S. request for the start of negotiations between Washington and Tehran to end Iranian-U.S. hostilities.

“In the letter, Obama announced readiness for negotiations and the resolution of mutual disagreements,” Ali Motahari, an Iranian parliamentarian, told the Mehr News Agency. [3] According to another Iranian parliamentarian, this time the Deputy Chairperson of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Hussein Ebrahimi (Ibrahimi), the letter went on to ask for Iranian-U.S. cooperation and negotiations based on the mutual interests of both Tehran and Washington. [4]

Obama’s letter also tried to assure Tehran that the United States would not engage in any hostile action against Iran. [5] In fact, in the same timeframe, the Pentagon cancelled or delayed major joint drills with Israel. [6]

To the Iranians, however, the gestures are meaningless, because the Obama Administration’s actions with Iran have always contradicted its words. Moreover, Iran believes that the U.S. has not attacked, because it knows that the costs of a war with an opponent like Iran are too high and its consequences far too risky.

This, however, does not mean that an Iranian-U.S. showdown has been avoided or will not eventually happen. The currents can go either way, so to speak. Nor does this mean that the Obama Administration is not currently waging a war against the Iranians and their allies. In fact, Washington’s bloc and Iran’s bloc have been fighting a shadow war from the digital arena and television airwaves to the valleys of Afghanistan and the bustling streets of Beirut and Baghdad.

The War Against Iran Started Years Ago

The war in Iran did not start in 2012 or even 2011. Newsweek Magazine even stated the following on a cover title in 2010: “Assassinations, cyberattacks, sabotage – has the war against Tehran already begun?” The actual war may have started in 2006.

Instead of attacking Iran directly, the U.S. has started a covert and proxy war. The covert dimensions of the war are being fought by intelligence assets, cyber attacks, computer viruses, secretive military units, spies, assassins, agent provocateurs, and saboteurs. The kidnapping and assassination of Iranian scientists and military commanders, which started several years ago is a part of this covert war. In this shadow war, Iranian diplomats in Iraq have been abducted and Iranians visiting Georgia, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey have been detained or kidnapped. Syrian officials, various Palestinian figures, and Hezbollah’s Imad Fayez Mughniyeh have also all been assassinated in this shadow war.

The proxy wars started in 2006 when Israel attacked Lebanon with the intention of expanding the war against Syria. The road to Damascus goes through Beirut, while Damascus is on the way to Tehran. After their failure in 2006, realizing that Syria was the lynchpin of the Resistance Bloc, which Iran dominated, the U.S. and its allies spent the next five to six years trying to de-link Syria from Iran.

The U.S. is also fighting Iran and its allies on the diplomatic and economic fronts through the manipulation of international bodies and proxy states. In the 2011 to 2012 context, the crisis in Syria on a geo-political level is a front in the war against Iran. Even the Israeli-U.S. drill Austere Challenge 2012 and the U.S. deployment of troops were primarily aimed at Syria as a means of combating Iran.

Syria in the Eye of the Storm

What Washington is doing is exerting psychological pressure on Iran as a means of distancing it from Syria, so that the United States and its cohorts can go for the kill. Up until the start of January 2012, the Israelis have continuously been preparing to launch an invasion of Syria in a rematch of 2006, while U.S. and E.U. officials have continously tried negotiating with Damascus for a deal to de-link from Iran and the Resistance Bloc. The Syrians, however, have always refused.

Foreign Policy, the magazine of the Council on Foreign Relations, published an article in August 2011 stating what was on the Saudi King’s mind about Syria in context of attacking Iran: “The King knows that other than the collapse of the Islamic Republic [of Iran] itself, nothing would weaken Iran more than losing Syria.” [7] Whether the above statement genuinely came from Abdul Aziz Al-Saud or not, this strategic outlook is representative of the reasons for the targeting of Syria. Obama’s own security advisor has also said the same thing, just a few months after the piece by Foreign Policy was released, in November 2011. National Security Advisor Donilon gave a speech saying that the “end of the Assad regime would constitute Iran’s greatest setback in the region – a strategic blow that will further shift the balance of power in the region against Iran.” [8]

The Kremlin has also made statements that corroborate that Washington wants to de-link Syria from its Iranian ally. One of Russia’s highest security officials has announced that Syria is being punished, because of its strategic alliance with Iran. The Secretary of the National Security Council of the Russian Federation, Nikolai (Nikolay) Platonovich Patrushev, has publicly stated that Syria is the subject of Washington’s pressure due to geo-political interests tied to cutting Syria’s ties with Iran and not due to any humanitarian concerns. [9]

Iran has also given signals that should the Syrians be attacked, it will not hesitate to intervene militarily to come to Syria’s aid. Washington does not want this. The Pentagon would much rather swallow Syria first, before turning its full and undivided attention to Iran. The Pentagon’s objectives are to fight its targets piecemeal. Despite the U.S. military doctrine of fighting simultaneous wars in multiple theatres and all the Pentagon literature about it, the U.S. is not ready yet to wage a conventional regional war against both Iran and Syria or risk an expanded war with Iran’s Russian and Chinese allies yet. The march to war, however, is far from over. For now the U.S. government will have to continue the shadow war against Iran and intensify the media, diplomatic, and economic war.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a Sociologist and award-winning author. He is a Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal. He Specializes on the Middle East and Central Asia. He Has been a contributor and guest discussing the Broader Middle East on numerous international programs and networks such as Al Jazeera, Press TV and Russia Today. His writings have been published in more than ten languages​​. He also writes for the Strategic Culture Foundation (SCF), Moscow.

NOTES

[1] Elisabeth Bumiller et al., “US sends top Iran leader warning on Hormuz threat,” The New York Times, January 12, 2012.
[2] Mehr News Agency, “Details of Obama’s letter to Iran released,” January 18, 2012.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Yakkov Katz, “Israel, US cancel missile defense drill,” Jerusalem Post, January 15, 2012.
[7] John Hannah, “Responding to Syria: The King’s statement, the President’s hesitation,” Foreign Policy, August 9, 2011.
[8] Natasha Mozgovaya, “Obama Aide: End of Assad regime will serve severe blow to Iran,” Haaretz, November 22, 2011.
[9] Ilya Arkhipov and Henry Meyer, “Russia Says NATO, Persian Gulf Nations Plan to Seek No-Fly Zone for Syria,” Bloomberg, January 12, 2012.

Israel Lobby launch new Super PAC effort to bring down Ron Paul

January 23, 2012

Patrick Henningsen
21st Century Wire
January 23, 2012

For decades, lobbies and special interests have ruled Capitol Hill, with PACs effectively steering the outcome of every major political campaign by injecting money and buying influence. Now we find out that Texas Congressman and GOP candidate Ron Paul has been targeted by a new breed of PAC – this time with foreign backing.

In recent years, activists and advocates have won back some ground in terms of placing limits and disclosure on campaign donations from individuals, businesses and have attempted to rein in some of the financial influence of political action committees (PACs). Just when one dragon was slayed, another, more menacing one was born. Enter the world of the Super PAC.

Following the tragic ruling of US Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, corporations won the same rights as humans, and thus are now about to pump as much money into political campaigns via the unregulated new ‘Super PACs’.

As 501c organizations, Super PACs take advantage of recent election funding rulings which allow corporations, unions and wealthy individuals to operate totally independently – and spend as much as they wish on election campaign media packages. Super PACs can also hold fundraisers to solicit money from donors – with no limits. The rise of the Super PAC has meant a complete runaround of any campaign ethics, or campaign finance regulation.

Where the game was often played according to how much special interests could buy a candidate, the game has now shifted into darker areas, namely, how special interests can take down, and eliminate a candidate during the early part of an election cycle. South Carolina residents are currently being slammed with a record number of Super PAC-funded TV adverts, some of which are negative in nature. More shocking is the fact that all these Super PAC ads are being paid for by just a handful of wealthy donors and establishment syndicates.

According to a recent article in the Washington Post this week, David Donnelly, National Campaigns Director for the Public Campaign Action Fund revealed, “There are probably fewer than 100 people who are fueling 90 percent of this outside money right now.” The report also adds:

In total, these new and unrestrained political action committees spent more than $15 million supporting GOP candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire and are now outspending the official campaigns in South Carolina by 2 to 1, according to advertising and expenditure data.

Out of this small handful of mega-rich donors, the Israeli lobby is represented heavily. The Washington Post adds here:

And casino magnate Sheldon Adelson recently dashed off a $5 million check to a group backing former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), marking what may be the largest single political contribution in U.S. history. Adelson is well known for supporting hard-line policies favoring Israel while also advocating measures that would benefit the gambling industry.

This level of allowable interference in US campaigns has seen Super PACs propping up certain alternate horses in the political race, in order to take votes away from the any serious rival to Establishment’s front-runner of choice. Based on election results and major polling, Mitt Romney’s only serious rival coming out of New Hampshire would be Ron Paul, yet, large sums of money are still flowing elsewhere in the field. Why?

In terms of the remaining GOP field, one could not find a more unappealing and unpopular candidate to commit millions in PAC funds for the duration of the primaries than Rick Santorum. Similarly, a complete non-runner and failure in all polling, John Huntsman, managed to bag a cool $2.5 million late in the game from the Super PAC, ‘Our Destiny’, which floated his campaign through Iowa and New Hampshire. Both men have secured some heavy backing, but skeptics should really be asking after these primaries have concluded, how a candidate with no real national support base could continue through the primaries – at such a great expense.

Likewise, the career of Newt Gingrich has long since peaked, with many mainstream political pundits even categorizing him as ‘unelectable’, but his recent record-breaking PAC donation from the Israeli lobby establishment figure Sheldon Adelson now begins to make sense. Note that Adelson is also an active financial supporter and media arm for Benjamin Netanyahu’spolitical career in Israel.

Ron Paul is the only GOP candidate who is not overtly ‘pro-Israel’ in the popular neoconservative sense. On January 13, in the run-up to the pivotal South Carolina GOP primary, the Emergency Committee for Israel, run by neoconservative thinker William Kristol, released an ad in which its Director Gary Bauer makes a plea to voters – not endorsing any candidate, rather, telling conservatives that they must reject Congressman Ron Paul as their GOP candidate, deriding his foreign policy views with respect to America’s ‘special relationship’ with Israel, and fighting the War on Terror – concluding that, “We can do better than Ron Paul”. See their advert here:

In reality, Ron Paul has broadcast a consistent message over the years, one which firmly places America first, and foreign entanglements last. He is the only GOP candidate who pledges to bring the troops home, cut off foreign military aid to countries overseas and lastly, he is not supporting any form of military showdown with Iran. For these reasons, his platform comes into direct conflict with the state of Israel – who is advocating the opposite, making him a target of this latest foreign interest Super PAC attack.

From this event, one can state as fact – not theory, that Israel and its supporters in the US are actively working to derail Ron Paul’s race towards the GOP nomination, and the Presidency. This fact alone, should be cause for alarm from even the most moderate of public corridors:

Israel’s lobby in America, AIPAC, is the only foreign agent in America that does not have to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act. Almost every major American politician in the last decade has either met with AIPAC or flown to Israel to receive approval before running a campaign. Many of America’s congressman have admitted that they constantly ask how Israel feels about a bill before voting on it.

Should a foreign country, in this case Israel, be allowed to buy a significant influence through the media in American democratic elections? Should candidates be allowed to accept donations – even indirectly, from foreign interest PACs or agents thereof, thus creating a serious conflict of interest, and threat to national security?

Democracy for hire?

Once the GOP primaries are finished and the opposition nominee is selected, you will then see the pro-Democratic Super PACS sprung into action. President Obama’s hands will remain clean until that time, but the Democrats could very well fall on this same sword should public outrage in America reach significant levels.

With such an over-arching umbrella of influence determining its outcome, one can only conclude that the American democratic system of elections has been manipulated and twisted to such a degree by powerful special interests, that major elections in the US cannot be classed as either free or fair. Rather they have warped into cynical, stage-managed events, engineered by the few in order to achieve a particular outcome.

What does this say about the state of America in 2012? To this point, Donnelly sums it up: “When you think about the amazing impact that this small number of people have on deciding the election, on the information that people will have on who to vote for, it’s mind-boggling.”

Surely, the American people cannot be a winner in this current climate of campaign high finance and open corruption. Much worse however, in this current set-up the true winner of a genuine democratic race – can never be known.

Many will be understandably outraged to know how this game is being played behind the scenes. If there was ever a time for election reform, it is 2012.

RON PAUL 2012: “Beware of the War Propaganda”

January 13, 2012

Ron Paul is reminding Americans that the lies that led us to war in 2003 with Iraq are being recycled again to prime the pump for a war with Iran in 2012. Our advice: don’t be fooled again.

Washington’s plan to isolate Iran is drifting towards a profitable stalemate

January 11, 2012

By Patrick Henningsen
21st Century Wire
January 11, 2012

On the surface, the latest spat between the West and Iran looks like a step closer to war, with tensions reaching a fever pitch on both sides of this potential conflict. Upon closer examination however, present conditions are not particularly ideal for a preemptive strike against Iran by the US and Israel. There is still much money to be made from the current crisis – on both sides, before the winds of war could be unleashed on the region.

Military posturing by the United States and Israel near the Strait of Hormuz reached a new level this week with announcement of Austere Challenge 12, a naval drill which looks designed to apply increased pressure on Iran to abandon their alleged nuclear weapons ambitions. At the same time, Iran has announced it will be shoring up its defensive positions by conducting its own war games in neighboring waters. From a military standpoint, exactly how far and how fast these tensions escalate is still uncertain. There have been a number of key indicators though in the last week that hint at a longer, drawn out affair.

Real military conflict not looking favourable

Unlike Iraq or Afghanistan – two countries which offered little or no real military resistance when attacked by the US, Iran actually has the means to fight back and sustain its defensive position, as well as retaliate regionally, over a long period of time. The first target would be any US naval vessels parked or patrolling regional waters. Such a scenario may lead to a multi-regional World War III condition, and without a doubt, will be hugely unpopular in the West, plunging a global economy into a worldwide depression.

In addition, the US and Israel have yet to secure Syria and eliminate the military might of loyal Iranian allies Hezbollah in Lebanon – which must be done in order for the US and Israel to gain the upper hand regionally. Both these points are key factors in achieving a green light for any preemptive strike against Tehran, and both those lights are currently red.

Most experts are also in agreement that any serious clash between the West and Iran could result in a disruption in the flow of oil to a petroleum-dependent global economy that surely needs it now – more than ever.

These stark realities could be pushing the current standoff closer towards a stalemate, than towards the hot conflict that many mainstream media analysts are expecting to take place between now and spring 2012.

Signals from traditional US military and ‘coalition’ ally Great Britain are also not looking great. Addressing a recent conference entitled, “NATO and the Case for Collective Defense in the 21st Century” at Atlantic Council in Washington, the UK’s Defense Secretary Philip Hammond clearly noted, “We would not be in favor of a preemptive strike on Iran.”

Sanctions will not isolate Iran for long

US-led calls for economic sanctions against Iran may partially isolate Iran politically in the short-term, but they do not have the teeth to sustain enough severe pressure over the long run.

Already this week, South Korea announced that it will still be buying Iranian crude oil in 2012. China is also defying the US call for sanctions, stating its plans to make Iran its second largest oil importer in 2012. In addition to these, another trading partner of Iran – Japan, is expecting to receive an exemption from US penalties on Japanese banks doing business with Iran. “We are not considering banning imports,” Japan Times quoted a Japanese Foreign Ministry late last week.

Major oil companies are also represented throughout America’s elite clique of foreign policy think tanks, and like their corporate siblings in the defense industry, they will also reap huge dividends from the appearance of instability and crisis around the Persian Gulf. Such a ‘strategy of tension’ normally sees winners in those industries which are best placed to benefit.

Unlike the steady dollar slide between 2007-2008 which help drive the oil price spike of over $140 per barrel during the summer of 2008, this week’s oil highs of over $100 per barrel are a direct result of the present war-hype and threats of escalation. This will result in an overnight bumper economy for many of the OPEC petrol nations, as well as the major US oil distribution and retail corporations.

A New Cold War is emerging

The West’s last real military standoff was against the former Soviet bloc which came to a political finale in 1991 following the disintegration of the Iron Curtain. It was the world largest-ever arms race, fueled by 20th Century power politics, played out in the form of a Cold War.

The real winners of this long Cold War between the West and the Soviet bloc were those military defense contractors who became incredibly wealthy and influential as a result of decades of 20th Century global power politics. Their influence remains to this day and already, a handful of companies have reaped incredible rewards from the current protracted diplomatic deadlock with Iran. It is little wonder that some of these same corporations actually dictate most US foreign policy to a large degree, through their own CEO’s and board members that also belong to the dominant US-UK foreign policy think tanks including the Council on Foreign Relations, Chatham House and the Atlantic Council who then dictate their international policy recommendations to Washington and London, whose governments finally adopt these as official foreign policy. Their names include Lockheed Martin, General Electric, Raytheon, Boeing and others.

As the threat of a regional confrontation with Iran continues to drag itself out, the trend of profitability looks likely to continue as most of the West’s regional partners continue to both re-arm and upgrade their own defense  systems – with US-made hardware.

The Arab GCC countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait have already begun their process of re-arming. In December 2011, the United States announced a $3.48 billion arms deal with the UAE, which included state-of-the-art THAD missile defense systems, as part of a wider American effort to build up missile defenses among Gulf allies to counter Iran. On December 29, the White House announced that it was sending nearly $30 billion worth of F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, part of a $60 billion package – the largest arms deal in history.

In addition, the US and Saudi Arabia signed a $1.7 billion deal earlier in 2011 to boost their Patriot missile batteries, and Kuwait put in their order to purchase 209 GEM-T missiles – at a cost of $900 million. These regional missile defense strategies will also need land-based interceptors to knock out incoming missiles, backed up by a detection network… aboard a group of US Navy Aegis-class warships. By the time this current round of re-arming is complete, US defense contractors will have seen a rise in profits which also means a rise in their all-important share prices.

Still, despite all these significant acquisitions on the part of the GCC so far, by no means do they provide blanket protection from an Iranian retaliatory strike against the Arabian Western allies. They are simply the latest chapter in that time-honoured tradition of Washington stoking regional tension on one hand, and America’s arms industry bleeding the Arab states of hard cash for still more expensive military hardware on the other. The Arabs can naturally afford to pay for their new military hardware from a sustained surge in world oil prices…. caused by the continued hyping of a potential military confrontation which could block the oil industry’s most key transit waterway – the Strait of Hormuz. One can see the geopolitical relationship between these events happening right now.

Here we have the ideal set of conditions for a New Cold War to emerge in the early 21st Century – one where the Western Axis powers of the US, Europe, Israel and the Emirates sit on one side, and Iran, Syria, China, Russia sit on the other. This Cold War will be more about sub-regional dominance in terms of economics – natural gas, mineral and trade relationships, than it will about the political ideologies that seemed to dominate the infamous 20th Century face-off.

How long this current stalemate drags on is anyone’s guess right now, but one thing is for sure – while it continues to brew, there are still massive profits to be made by key players in both the global defense and petroleum industries.

Why Attacking Iran Will NOT Work in 2012

January 5, 2012

Patrick Henningsen
21st Century Wire
January 5, 2012

All signs coming out of Washington, London, Paris and Tel Aviv are pointing towards a pre-emptive military strike against Iran in 2012. But a number of key indicators are also pointing towards an unsuccessful, unlikely operation, whose failure could result in a military and economic tailspin from which the United States and Israel are unlikely to recover.

Currently, the US is following a trajectory of past unsuccessful empires that were unable to sustain themselves resulting in an eventual collapse from within. The US is currently running up a budget deficit which is not only threatening to bankrupt its entire economy, but also threatening the hegemony of its sole instrument for advantage and influence on the world stage – the US dollar. Any threat to the supremacy of the dollar is also a threat to the empire.

It is difficult to calculate the outcome of a western attack against Iran -because there are so many variables.

No moral mandate

For centuries, even Rome required a moral mandate as it conquered the known world. As was the case with the Iraqi invasion and occupation in 2003, the West and its Axis powers led by Washington will require a multi-nation coalition backed by some form of moral mandate in order to move forward with their plans.

Previously, a US-UK campaign against Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction was waged through the UN, and was sufficient at the time in achieving a minimal sway in public opinion needed from both the American and British people, justifying their governments’ foreign policy goals enough to get the war off the ground. But the cost in 2012 of pushing forward under false pretences with both Afghanistan and Iraq in 2003, means that the Axis coalition powers have already played their best hand under the current social democratic system.

It is clear now, after multiple failures by the UN’s IAEA to implicate Iran in developing nuclear weapons that a moral mandate is not there, so despite the best efforts of the hawks and FOX News, there cannot be the sway in public opinion needed to move forward militarily. The only remaining technique available to trigger a military conflagration is a false flag attack orchestrated by either the US, Israel or the UK, whereby Iran can be blamed for firing the ‘first shot’.

The war has already begun

As far as the Islamic Republic of Iran is concerned, the war has already begun. US-backed sanctions imposed against the Central Bank of Iran have been put into effect, even though no proof has actually been presented to the UN justifying such a pre-war move. But sanctions are still the first step in a physical war. The result of the Axis open abuse of the UN’s Security Council resolution process, a number of influential nations have already announced their disregard for these US-backed sanctions.

This week, South Korea has announced that despite the White House’s wishes, it will still be buying roughly 10 percent of its crude oil from Iran in 2012. China is also defying the US call for sanctions, stating it will ‘resume its existing trade relationship’ with Iran this year. In 2012, China plans to make Iran its no.2 oil importer, adding to an already existing relationship worth approximately $30 billion per year. The West are in no position to challenge China over Iran at present. This means that the Axis powers will struggle to keep anything near an air-tight international mandate. They may hurt Iran in the short-term, but in the long run, such sanctions will have no teeth.

The cost to America and Europe of dragging out this ‘war of words’

The most likely outcome in the first part of 2012, is the West dragging a war of words via press briefings and imperial rhetoric. An increasingly media savvy Iran will naturally follow suit, winning favour at home as the underdog in this imperial clash. The result is a war of the words in the media.

But even the cost of this ‘posturing war’ to the US and Europe may be too much to bear at this time.

Even the threat of an attack on Iran will automatically drive oil speculators to push up the price of oil futures, which will in turn raise the price of oil at the pump at a time when Western businesses and consumers can hardly afford it. And this series of events is already in motion. The Strait of Hormuz is the world’s busiest oil shipping lane, with 17 million barrels of oil per day passing through. Iranian announcements this week stating they will not only defend their territorial waters, but retaliate by closing the Strait’s shipping lanes if it’s attacked by the US or Israel – have already driven up the global price, with the price of Brent Crude jumping another $5 today to an eight-month high of $111.65 per barrel. CNN reported this week:

Oil prices surged 4% Tuesday, fuelled by continued anxiety over Iran’s growing threat to shut down the Strait of Hormuz after the Iranian military launched a missile test.

“It’s mostly about Iran right now,” said Peter Beutel, analyst with energy risk management firm Cameron Hanover. “That’s the most bullish factor.”

Oil prices jumped 4.2% to settle at $102.96 a barrel. That’s the highest closing price since May 10, when prices ended the day at $103.88 a barrel.

The picture gets progressively worse as the US-Iran face-off continues into 2012. Business Insider released a report today detailing a likely scenario whereby barrel costs skyrocket to $150:

Managers of the Guinness Global Energy fund have warned of an oil price spike to $150 per barrel if Iran were to carry out its threat of closing the Strait of Hormuz and blocking 15% of global oil exports.

“The exports transported through the Strait of Hormuz are equivalent to two Saudi Arabia’s or two Russia’s, so the potential impact on the price is massive. We do not think this will happen but we cannot rule it out completely.”

Cash windfall for the oil industry

OPEC oil producing Gulf nations led by monarchies Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, will certainly benefit financially from any initial UN sanctions as well as any protracted stand-off between the West and Iran fueled by hype, with speculation driving up the price of oil, allowing the producer nations to effectively printing money overnight.

GCC foreign companies and joint ventures include Aramco, Harken Oil (Bush family company), Texas Oil, Union Oil of California, and a host of others. Distributors and retail winners include the likes of Exxon, Royal Dutch/Shell, BP, Chevron, Getty, Phillips,  Texaco, Mobil, Occidental/Gulf and Amoco. Each of these transnational oil refiners, distributors and retailers can expect a cash windfall and a rise in their all-important share prices, but more importantly, the current crisis will be an opportunity for this cartel – to fix a new, higher price at the pump.

Even if the stand-off were to climb down between the West and Iran, and the price per barrel were to somehow drop back below $100, this cartel of oil companies will still work to maintain a new higher overall pricing standard at the pump. Past price relationships between barrel price and pump price will verify this cartel practice. The economic implications, particularly on American and European economies which relies so heavily on petroleum to distribute and deliver staples like food and other day-to-day goods – could be horrific, instigating a wave of inflation on an already inflation-battered US consumer. Likewise, such a crisis will have a negative effect on the value empire’s holy grail – the US dollar.

A spike in US prices will also trigger-off that old predictable debate during the coming 2012 US  Presidential election cycle – over lifting any moratoriums on domestic oil drilling within the United States (drill baby, drill). If any are lifted, again, it’s yet another win for the oil industry and its shareholders.

Risks involved in a regional conflict

For a perspective of the Libyan model of intervention, NATO is unlikely to involve itself in a large-scale military operation in Iran. It would prove too costly from both economic and political standpoints.

Neither the US or Israel has engaged in a bona fide naval conflict in decades. In the case of the US, owner of the world’s largest navy, its last true naval military affair was WWII. As Great Britain painfully discovered during its costly Falkland Island War adventure, even one rudimentary French-made Exocet Missile launched by Argentina below radar, was enough to not only cripple a major piece of its naval fleet, but also enough of a black eye to nearly derail majority public support for their ill-conceived war effort from the opposition and back-benchers home in London.

Similarly, the Iranian defense has the capability to sink not one, but many US Naval ships currently flexing their muscles on the periphery of Iranian territorial waters. Such an event would register with shock and horror in the US public mind, but worse, may be used by Washington hawks to justify a revenge nuclear strike against Iranian civilians. Both Washington and Tel Aviv have already raised the talking point of deploying “tactical nukes” against Iran. Such foreshadowing should not be ignored, as it is often a clear indicator of things to come.

Any nuclear conflagration by the US or Israel would most certainly result in a global backlash against the West – at its worst acting as a procession into the hot stages of World War III – or at its very least, re-balkanizing the geopolitical scene into a New Cold War, with the West on one side and Iran, China, Pakistan, and Russia on the other.

Watch author Patrick Henningsen in this segment from Al Jazeera’s program Empire: Targeting Iran, as analysts spec out potential wargames between the West and Iran:

GCC becomes a target

Another factor seldom mentioned by vocal proponents of regime change in Iran, like Hillary Clinton and neocon war hawks in Washington, is that any attack on Iran will most certainly mean that all US allies in the region will become a potential target. This means it is unlikely that those wealthy and developed GCC countries would remain untouched by a conflict happening only a mere hundreds of miles away. Neither would nearby major US military installations in Iraq, Qatar and Afghanistan. All are likely targets in a hot Iranian conflict.

Petrol monarchies like the UAE (most notably Abu Dhabi and Dubai), Kuwait and Qatar currently rely heavily on a high standard of living and complete domestic security and stability in order to survive as societies. These fragile petrol monarchies rely on a very thin veneer of law and order – one which props up their marketing image of a luxurious “Middle East destination”. Any Iranian retaliation against these fragile US allies would result in a massive flight of persons, ex-pats and financial capital from the GCC to much safer havens – like Europe, the US, or Singapore.

If there is to be a war, it will be the US, UK, France, Israel and their allies who will do the fighting. But the GCC would still need to defend itself from reprisals. In December 2011, the United States announced a $3.48 billion arms deal with the UAE, which included state-of-the-art THAD missile defense systems, as part of a wider American effort to build up missile defenses among Gulf allies to counter Iran. In addition, the US and Saudi Arabia signed a $1.7 billion deal earlier in 2011 to boost the country’s Patriot missiles and Kuwait purchased 209 GEM-T missiles at a cost of $900 million. This regional missile defense strategy will need land-based interceptors to knock out incoming missiles, backed up by a detection network aboard a team of US Navy Aegis-class warships.

Although these are significant acquisitions on the part of the GCC, they are by no means blanket protection from an Iranian retaliation, and are most likely the result of America’s arms industry, in its honored tradition, bleeding the GCC of cash with yet more expensive hardware, a hard sell based on fear and war hype.

Taking all this into account, and noting the incredibly concentration of wealth in the GCC, it’s hard to see a scenario where the monied interests would tolerate such a risk to their progressive Arabian project that they have spend decades investing in and building from scratch.

Post-Bombing Blowback

Aside from the GCC risk, it is with near certainty that one could predict a full-scale regional backlash, and genuine uprising around the Muslim world should the US or Israel come good on their threats of a pre-emptive strike against Iran. Iranian civilian deaths could not be avoided, and hence, their would be a blood price to pay by the West in the eyes of many Muslims. Such a pan-Arab uprising would stretch US and Israel capabilities in the region past their ability to maintain control of the situation. The results for Israel could be dire in such a scenario, and it’s only expected that a tit-for-tat would spiral into a long regional conflict.

The West’s best chance to weather such a storm would be to overtake, or set up a military base in either Lebanon or Syria in order to neutralize traditional Iranian ally and Israeli opponent – Hezbollah – currently based in Lebanon. Without wiping out Hezbollah’s military capabilities, Israel cannot safely move forward with a unilateral/US attack on Iran. The time table for such a Syria or Lebanese take-down would put any possible attack on Iran well into late 2012, or even 2013 and beyond.

A Giant Dirty Bomb

If the US or Israel were to hit any of the said Iranian nuclear facilities or reactors, it has the potential to become a giant ‘dirty bomb’. In such a scenario, the civilian deaths could exceed 1,000,000 and a radioactive fall-out would certainly spill over into the surrounding US clients like Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Iraq, Kuwait and possibly as far as Israel/Palestine, Turkey, Georgia, Pakistan, India and parts of southern Europe.

Following such a radiological event, the West would certainly be blamed for any and all environmental damage and death which occurs, resulting in a massive loss of international face, followed by massive financial reparations which would ultimately cripple their already weak economies. Worse than this however, it would certainly throw the global economy into a long economic depression.

Most sane analysts would agree, this is a risk too high, and a price too high to pay. So the real question remains then, are analysts in Washington and Tel Aviv sane enough to make policy decisions?

An Israeli driven effort

Like previous AIPAC campaigns to hit Iraq, the current drive to isolate and demonize Iran has been cooked up in the Israeli lobby’s kitchen. Due to a revolving wheel of campaign contributions to each and every US Congress and Senate candidate, ‘putting Israel first’ has become a top priority for any politician with any ambition in Washington. If any official steps out of line and criticizes Israel, AIPAC functionaries like the ADL and SPLC are sprung into action and a PR campaign is usually waged against the offending public official.

The Israeli lobby will claim that a pre-emptive strike on Iran is needed because Iran has stated that it wishes to, “Wipe Israel off the map”. Most war hawks would be surprised when they learn that such words were never actually spoken by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Shouldn’t this revelation change the entire Israeli perspective? It should, but it doesn’t. Regardless of any evidence to the contrary, the lobby and its media partners will continue repeating their faux version of the event as if it were something that actually happened, or spelled a genuine threat to the physical state of Israel. Likewise, US politicians will in turn acknowledge the lobby’s version of events, themselves repeating the very same faux threat – as if this somehow justify plans for a pre-emptive strike on Iran.

What is most important here again, is that at no point during any of this political maneuvering, could either the US, or Israel produce any compelling evidence at all that Iran has, or is near possessing a nuclear weapon in their military arsenal. Even if they could fabricate such evidence to start a war, there are simply too many pieces out of place on the grand chessboard right now to indicate an imminent attack on Iran in the spring or summer of 2012.

So far, however, the clear winner is the oil industry and the OPEC nations, winning a shift in wealth from the global middle class into the hands of petrol monarchies and oil company shareholders.

Faking It: How the Media Manipulates the World into War

January 2, 2012

Global Research TV
January 2, 2011

As the US and Iranian governments escalate tensions in the already volatile Straits of Hormuz, and China and Russia begin openly questioning Washington’s interference in their internal politics, the world remains on a knife-edge of military tension.

Far from being a dispassionate observer of these developments, however, the media has in fact been central to increasing those tensions and preparing the public to expect a military confrontation. But as the online media rises to displace the traditional forms by which the public forms its understanding of the world, many are now beginning to see first hand how the media lies the public into war.

See also:

Former CIA Officials Admit To Faking Bin Laden Video