Don’t Count On Pakistan, The Birthplace Of Terrorism, Fighting The Taliban

Washington Merry-Go-Round: Pakistan may finally fight the Taliban
Pakistan-Taliban
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift Posted Dec. 28, 2014 @ 6:57 pm

WASHINGTON — As a recent episode of the popular television series “Homeland” displayed, elements in Pakistan, including its intelligence service, may be in league with the Taliban, which means the friend of our enemy is our friend. And the fact that Osama bin Laden was found residing in an armed compound in Abbottabad, a short distance from the Pakistan Military Academy, gives credence to the suspicion that our friend has been the enemy’s friend for quite a while.

In fact, Pakistan’s friendships have not changed. When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and placed a puppet in charge, its forces were confronted by mujahedeen rebels, primarily supported by Saudi Arabia, China, Pakistan and the United States. Eventually, U.S. support became dominant when President Ronald Reagan vowed to make Afghanistan the Soviet’s Vietnam. By that he referred to the Soviet use of a surrogate, North Vietnam, to wage war against South Vietnam. A safe haven being the key to surrogacy, Soviet ships bearing supplies and munitions anchored in North Vietnamese waters, signaling a U.S. invasion of the North would involve the Soviet Union. Hence, North Vietnam became the safe haven for the North Vietnamese Army.

In like manner, Pakistan, a nuclear power and U.S. ally, became the safe haven for the mujahedeen, Osama bin Laden among them. And as would be expected in a safe haven surrogate war, the surrogates prevailed. After nine years of fighting, Soviet forces were withdrawn from Afghanistan. Then, in 1992, the Soviet puppet regime of Mohammad Najibullah fell to the mujahedeen, and in 1996 the Taliban branch of the mujahedeen, with the aid of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, prevailed in the Afghan civil war.

Pakistan remained the common thread, protecting and supplying the hardliners, and as hardline as the fanatical Taliban was, al-Qaida was worse, and the Taliban was providing that group with sanctuaries where they trained Islamic militants to export terror, all of which led to the Osama bin Laden-directed al-Qaida attacks against the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. The U.S. responded with aerial and covert support of the Afghan Northern Alliance to overthrow the Taliban and hound Taliban and al-Qaida fighters out of the country. Most of them slipped across the border into Pakistan. Meanwhile, the U.S. found itself in league with its longtime adversary, Iran, the other nation then supporting the Northern Alliance.

While the U.S. has switched sides from the mujahedeen to the Northern Alliance and the U.S.-allied Afghan government, Pakistan has remained the constant supporter of the Islamic fundamentalists who made up the mujahedeen, including the Taliban, though apparently not al-Qaida.

Now all that may have changed. Just as the Taliban appeared to be on the brink of success in Afghanistan as U.S. forces are rapidly withdrawing, a Taliban attack on a Pakistani school resulted in the slaughter of 149 students and teachers. Pakistan’s army swung into action and began hunting down the perpetrators. The heinous crime delivered a gruesome reminder of who and what the Taliban are, and maybe, just maybe, Pakistan will finally realize it has been supporting a rogue organization that they must now thwart.
 
Twitter @WMerryGoRound

Kazakhstan remains the world’s largest uranium producer

To match Interview KAZAKHSTAN-URANIUM/

  • Wednesday, 28 January 2015 10:32
  • Written by TCA
ASTANA (TCA) — Kazakhstan has maintained its leading position as the world’s largest uranium producer. At year-end 2014 uranium production in Kazakhstan amounted to 22,829 tons which corresponds to the planned figures, the country’s state atomic company Kazatomprom announced yesterday. 

Taking into account the participatory interests in its subsidiary and affiliated enterprises, Kazatomprom produced 13,156 tons of uranium in 2014.  

In 2013, Kazakhstan produced 22,548 tons of uranium.

In 2014, Kazatomprom continued its prospecting and exploration works aimed at increasing resource base of uranium in the territory of Kazakhstan. During the year more than 986 exploration wells were drilled.

CJSC Uranium Enrichment Center in 2014 shipped the end product in the amount of 4,986.5 tons, 0.2 percent more than planned.

Tantalum production was 154,458 tons, niobium output was 72,228 tons, and beryllium output was 1,776 tons.

Kazatomprom’s JV SARECO LLP produced 240.4 tons of bulk concentrate of rare earth metals in 2014, which was shipped to Russia.

In 2014, Astana Solar LLP produced 51,069 solar panels, which corresponds to 12,706 MW of electrical energy, 13,338 MW (53,979 panels) of which were contracted by Kazakhstan companies.

Kazatomprom is the national operator of Kazakhstan for the import and export of uranium, rare metals, nuclear fuel for power plants, special equipment technologies and dual-purpose materials.

According to the World Nuclear Association, Kazakhstan has 12% of the world’s uranium resources and an expanding mining sector, producing about 22,550 tons in 2013, and planning for further increase until 2018. In 2009 Kazakhstan became the world’s leading uranium producer, with almost 28% of world production, then 33% in 2010, 36% in 2011, 36.5% in 2012, and 38% in 2013.

Kazakhstan has a major plant making nuclear fuel pellets and aims eventually to sell value-added fuel rather than just uranium.

ISIS Kills Iranian General

Islamic State kills Qods Force general in central Iraq
iraq-isis
By BILL ROGGIO
December 28, 2014
Long War Journal

An Islamic State sniper gunned down a general in Iran’s Qods Force who was advising Iraqi troops and Shiite militias in the battleground city of Samarra in central Iraq.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) announced that Brigadier General Hamid Taqavi was “martyred” while serving in Samara, close to the “shrine of Imam Hassan Askari” on Dec. 27, 2014, Jahan News, a hard-line Iranian media outlet reported. Taqavi was killed by an Islamic State “sniper,” ABNA noted.

Taqavi served as an “adviser to the [Iraqi] Army and the popular mobilization of the Iraqi people,” a reference to the Shiite militias that fight alongside the Iraqi military. Iran’s Qods Force, the expeditionary special operations arm of the IRGC, is tasked with supporting the Iraqi military and Shiite militias, including the Badr Brigade, Hezbollah Brigades, Asaib al Haq (League of the Righteous), and Muqtada al Sadr’s Promised Day Brigade (or Peace Brigade). The Shiite militias have been instrumental in reinforcing beleaguered and demoralized Iraqi forces, and have helped retake some areas in Iraq, including Jurf al Sakhar and Amerli.

The IRGC said that Taqavi was “one of the commanders of the Ramazan Base, during the sacred defense,” of Iran during the Iran-Iraqi war from 1980-88. The Ramazan Base “was important” to the the Iranians, said Ali Alfoneh, a Senior Fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracies who specializes on Iran.

“During the war with Iraq, they [the Iranians] directed operations behind enemy lines” in Iraq from the Ramazan Base, Alfoneh said.

Samarra is a key front in Iraq’s current war against the Islamic State, and Iran has placed considerable importance on supporting Iraq’s military and the Shiite militias operating there. Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Qods Force, has been spotted in Samarra directing military operations. As recently as last month, he was photographed alongside Shiite militiamen in Samarra. The Qods Force commander has also been spotted on other key fronts as Shiite militias continue to battle the Islamic State.

The Al Askari shrine in Samarra is one of the most important in Shiite Islam, and its fall to the Islamic State would be a major blow to Iran. Additionally, Samarra is the linchpin in securing the northern Baghdad Belt. The Islamic State seeks to control the city and others north of Baghdad in order to encircle the capital and lay siege to the Shiite-led government. [For more details on the jihadist group’s strategy in Iraq, see LWJ report, ISIS, allies reviving ‘Baghdad belts’ battle plan.]

The Islamic State has been active in Samarra and in towns north and south of the city. Two weeks ago, the jihadist group routed a Hezbollah Brigades unit near the towns of Yathrib and Tal Gold, just south of Samarra. And in the first week of December, an Islamic State unit overran a Badr Brigade force near Samarra.

Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/12/islamic_state_kills.php#ixzz3NF6SMFUq

Iranian Horn Regains Iraq (Daniel 8:3)

7000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Iraq to regain influence

Iranian Hegemony

Iranian Hegemony

27 December 2014
IranFocus

 There are currently thousands of Iranian Revolutionary Guards stationed in a number of Iraqi cities to help Tehran regime its loss in Iraq after the ouster former Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, according to the Iranian opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

The guards that are estimated to be over 7000 are stationed in Baghdad, Diyala and Salah ad-Din provinces and the cities of Samarra, Karbala, Najaf, Khaneqain, Sa’adiyah and Jaloula.

A dispatched Revolutionary Guards include commanders and experts that accompany the militias in various areas of Iraq, according to the NCRI.

Regime’s fighter jets have been flying in Iraq since early November and are currently carrying out military missions in Diyala and Salah ad-Din provinces.

The presence of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards of Qods Force in Iraq is a blatant breach of UN Security Council resolutions.

The Iranian Resistance warns that Revolutionary Guards are not in Iraq to fight ISIS, but to compensate for the heavy blow caused by Nouri al-Maliki’s ouster to create a Velayat-e faqih caliphate in Iraq.

The slaughter and forced migration, along with aggression against the Iraqi people, in particular the Sunnis, and ridding them of their property by the revolutionary guards and their affiliated militias under the pretext of fighting ISIS has endangered peace and security throughout the region and fuels the machine of extremism and terrorism in the whole region, NCRI warns.

The Sixth Seal (NYC Quake) WILL Occur in 2015 (Rev 6:12)

NYC Quake 12-27-14

USGS.gov

Event Time

  1. 2014-12-28 14:19:18 UTC
  2. 2014-12-28 09:19:18 UTC-05:00 at epicenter
  3. 2014-12-28 07:19:18 UTC-07:00 system time

Location

40.842°N 74.174°W depth=4.2km (2.6mi)

Tectonic Summary

Earthquakes in the New York – Philadelphia – Wilmington Urban Corridor

Since colonial times people in the New York – Philadelphia – Wilmington urban corridor have felt small earthquakes and suffered damage from infrequent larger ones. New York City was damaged in 1737 and 1884. Moderately damaging earthquakes strike somewhere in the urban corridor roughly twice a century, and smaller earthquakes are felt roughly every 2-3 years.

Earthquakes in the central and eastern U.S., although less frequent than in the western U.S., are typically felt over a much broader region. East of the Rockies, an earthquake can be felt over an area as much as ten times larger than a similar magnitude earthquake on the west coast. A magnitude 4.0 eastern U.S. earthquake typically can be felt at many places as far as 100 km (60 mi) from where it occurred, and it infrequently causes damage near its source. A magnitude 5.5 eastern U.S. earthquake usually can be felt as far as 500 km (300 mi) from where it occurred, and sometimes causes damage as far away as 40 km (25 mi).

Faults

Earthquakes everywhere occur on faults within bedrock, usually miles deep. Most bedrock beneath the urban corridor was assembled as continents collided to form a supercontinent about 500-300 million years ago, raising the Appalachian Mountains. Most of the rest of the bedrock formed when the supercontinent rifted apart about 200 million years ago to form what are now the northeastern U.S., the Atlantic Ocean, and Europe.

At well-studied plate boundaries like the San Andreas fault system in California, often scientists can determine the name of the specific fault that is responsible for an earthquake. In contrast, east of the Rocky Mountains this is rarely the case. New York City, Philadelphia, and Wilmington are far from the nearest plate boundaries, which are in the center of the Atlantic Ocean and in the Caribbean Sea. The urban corridor is laced with known faults but numerous smaller or deeply buried faults remain undetected. Even the known faults are poorly located at earthquake depths. Accordingly, few, if any, earthquakes in the urban corridor can be linked to named faults. It is difficult to determine if a known fault is still active and could slip and cause an earthquake. As in most other areas east of the Rockies, the best guide to earthquake hazards in the New York – Philadelphia – Wilmington urban corridor is the earthquakes themselves.

Raising the Ante: Tactical Nukes

Pakistan is Learning the Wrong Lesson: Tactical Nuclear Weapons in South Asia

International Policy Digest

Tactical nuclear missiles
The renowned philosopher, George Santayana, said, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Pakistan is repeating the US decision to deploy tactical nuclear weapons during the Cold War and which has limited applicability in South Asian. NATO’s perceived military inferiority against the Soviet Union is often cited to justify Pakistan’s pursuit of tactical nuclear weapons against the conventionally superior India.

By deploying tactical nuclear weapons, the United States’ goal was to deter any conventional attack by the Soviet Union on Western Europe. The United States also wanted to prevent any European conflict from developing into a full fledge nuclear war between the two superpowers. These weapons proved to be useless militarily and most of them were withdrawn from Europe in 1991. The United States’ strategists learned that nuclear use at the tactical level would lead to a strategic response and an uncontrollable escalation. Pakistan, however, has embraced this discarded strategy by testing the short-range ballistic missile, the Nasr (Hatf IX) on April 19, 2011 and has repeated tests four times since then. India, on the other hand, has tested a short-range ballistic missile on July 21, 2011.

In response to cross-border terrorism, allegedly supported by Pakistan, the Indian army developed a “Cold Start Doctrine” in 2004. This doctrine is based on rapid, limited conventional military operations against terrorist organizations in Pakistan. It calls for quick penetration into Pakistan in response to cross-border terrorist strikes and the seizing of territory to negotiate the end of a terrorist attack on Indian soil. Empirical developments since 2004 show that India has not implemented this doctrine. Indian officials and policymakers have either denied the existence of this doctrine or have not endorsed this adventurous strategy. A classified document released by WikiLeaks dated February 16, 2010 revealed that Tim Roemer, then US Ambassador to India, described Cold Start as “a mixture of myth and reality.” He further argued, “While the army may remain committed to the goals of the doctrine, political support is less clear.” India did not apply Cold Start in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attack, which calls into question the political will for this doctrine.

Cold Start is designed to punish Pakistan in a limited military operation without triggering a nuclear response. However, one can never be sure whether Pakistan will refrain from using nuclear weapons. To counter the potential for limited Indian intrusions along the line of this doctrine, Pakistan has begun to develop Nasr under the rubric of “full spectrum deterrence.” In the 2008 Mumbai attack, however, India was deterred from initiating cross-border retaliation without the presence of tactical nuclear weapons on Pakistan’s side. Pakistan’s strategic weapons were enough to deter India. During the Cold War what deterred the Soviet Union from attacking NATO countries was not the possession of tactical nuclear weapons but the risk of escalation to the strategic level once tactical weapons were used.

Pakistan seems to imply that actions at the tactical or operational level have no strategic implications and a limited nuclear war will not escalate into a full fledge nuclear war. India threatens massive retaliation against the use of tactical nuclear weapons. Shyam Saran, former foreign secretary and the current Chairman of India’s National Security Advisory Board said that if India is attacked with nuclear weapons “it will engage in nuclear retaliation which is massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage on its adversary. The label on a nuclear weapon used for attacking India, strategic or tactical is irrelevant from Indian perspective.”

The deployment of tactical nuclear weapons may lead to loosening the highly centralized command and control mechanism.  Battlefield nuclear weapons require local commanders to have authority and capability to arm and launch nuclear weapons. This raises the risk of unauthorized use during a crisis or inadvertent escalation during a conventional conflict by a local commander of a nuclear-armed unit who might feel it necessary to use the weapons in order to avoid defeat. A positive sign is that Pakistan has not deployed the weapons in forward positions yet and has not delegated the authority to local commanders.

The idea of using nuclear weapons at the operational level on Pakistani soil will cause significant civilian causalities due to the dense population along the Indian and Pakistan border. This will also have a damaging effect on Pakistan’s own military forces and render the land uninhabitable. In 1955 NATO conducted a military exercise to test its ability to defend West Germany by employing nuclear weapons. The results estimated that 1.3 millions Germans would have died, 3.5 millions would have been seriously injured and a large territory would have become uninhabitable.

More tactical nuclear weapons in Pakistan also increase safety and security problems. The safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program has been a major concern in the international community in the wake of terrorist organizations operating in the country. Political instability and terrorist attacks on the military installations, including army headquarters in Rawalpindi, a naval base in Karachi, and an air base in Kamra with inside support, have exacerbated these concerns.

Tactical nuclear weapons carry the risk of preemptive strikes. During the Cold War the Soviet Union monitored all the nuclear sites in West Germany. Any movements on those sites including preparations to launch nuclear weapons, mating of warheads to missiles and uploading would have prompted the Soviet Union to strike preemptively. There was a strong temptation to destroy the weapons before they were launched. In the case of India and Pakistan the short flight times of ballistic missiles exacerbate these tensions by sharply reducing decision-making time for leaders during a crisis.

The Indians and the Pakistanis have a practice of using their missiles for both conventional and nuclear weapons, which further increases the risk of misperception and unintended escalation. The real lessons to be learned from the Cold War experience is not to develop tactical nuclear weapons but to imitate the US and USSR’s experience about enhancing strategic stability by increasing transparency and using diplomacy to alleviate an arms race. The lesson of the Cold War is not to rely on nuclear weapons, but to find ways to reduce reliance on tactical nuclear weapons and place a crises stability mechanism and a confidence building mechanism in South Asia. Both Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif have a lot to learn from Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev about negotiating over their differences. But so far, each leader seems focused on placating their myopic bases.

Babylon The Great Will Pay Greatly For Her Sins (Revelation 17)

A Former Ground Zero Goes to Court Against the World’s Nuclear Arsenals

Marshall Hydrogen Bomb

A nuclear test in the Marshall Islands, one of 67 conducted by the United States in the area.

THE HAGUE — Tony de Brum was 9 years old in 1954 when he saw the sky light up and heard the terrifying rumbles of “Castle Bravo.” It was the most powerful of 67 nuclear tests detonated by the United States in the Marshall Islands, the remote Pacific atolls he calls home.
Six decades later, with Mr. de Brum now his country’s foreign minister, the memory of those thundering skies has driven him to a near-Quixotic venture: His tiny country is hauling the world’s eight declared nuclear powers and Israel before the International Court of Justice. He wants the court to order the start of long-promised talks for a convention to ban atomic arsenals, much like the treaties that already prohibit chemical, biological and other weapons of mass destruction.
Mr. de Brum says the initiative is not about seeking redress for the enduring contamination and the waves of illness and birth defects attributed to radiation. Rather, by turning to the world’s highest tribunal, a civil court that addresses disputes between nations, he wants to use his own land’s painful history to rekindle global concern about the nuclear arms race.
A doctor examined a resident exposed to radiation. Credit Atomic Energy Commission
The legal action is expected to run into plenty of legal and political obstacles. Even if the court decides in favor of the Marshall Islands, it has no way to enforce its decision. Prospects of any nuclear power heeding such a ruling anytime soon, experts say, are, obviously, exceedingly slim. But some say the action will shine a light on a serious but neglected issue.
“This case will help clarify where we stand in arms control law and perhaps sharpen the obligation to disarm,” said Nico Schrijver, who heads the law school at Leiden University in the Netherlands and is not involved in the case. “It has merit in a time of growing international tension. But I see a host of legal hurdles ahead.”
In its first written arguments, presented to the court this month, the Marshall Islands contended that the nuclear powers had violated their legal obligation to disarm. Specifically, the arguments said, by joining the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, five countries — the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China — undertook to end the arms race “at an early date” and to negotiate a treaty on “complete disarmament.”
Three other nuclear nations that did not agree to the treaty — India, Israel and Pakistan — and a fourth that withdrew from it — North Korea — are required to disarm under customary international law, the Marshall Islands’ case claims. The existence of Israeli nuclear weapons is universally assumed, but Israel has not acknowledged having them.
“All the nuclear weapons states are modernizing their arsenals instead of negotiating, and we want the court to rule on this,” said Phon van den Biesen, the leader of the islands’ legal team, who first asked the court to hear the case in April.
The civil suit comes as nuclear arms are increasingly being linked to other pressing international issues, such as the prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity and the effort to combat climate change.
Meeting in Vienna this month, humanitarian law experts from 160 nations reiterated that the threat from nuclear arms or other weapons of mass destruction was incompatible with human rights principles. Scientists have stepped up warnings that using even a small percentage of the world’s nuclear arsenal would radically change the atmosphere and could cause drops in temperatures and large-scale crop failures.
More than a dozen international law experts have donated time to assist the tiny Marshall Islands, a string of atolls with 70,000 inhabitants. Rick Wayman, the director of programs at the California-based Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, said that a coalition of 55 international peace and other activist groups were backing the initiative.
One of the key questions that the court’s 15-judge bench is likely to consider is whether modernizing existing arsenals amounts to a new arms race forbidden under existing agreements. The United States and Russia, which control most of the world’s nuclear weapons, have cut old stockpiles and agreed to further reductions under a 2010 bilateral accord. But both countries, along with China, are now engaged in major upgrading of their missile systems. Pakistan and India have been in an arms race for more than 15 years.
The court is also being asked to establish a new disarmament calendar. The Marshall Islands’ suit asks that the nuclear powers begin negotiations on a disarmament treaty one year after the court’s ruling. But, as John Burroughs, director of the New York-based Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, noted: “There have never even been any multilateral negotiations to eliminate nuclear weapons since the 1968 nonproliferation treaty.”
One big question is whether the judges would go beyond an opinion they issued in 1996. Asked to advise the United Nations General Assembly, the judges said unanimously that the obligation existed “to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion” negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament. Experts say the bench may be more divided this time.
It is far from clear how the judges will vote. Although the bench is meant to be independent, six of the 15 judges come from nuclear powers — the five original nations plus India. Heikelina Verrijn Stuart, co-author of “The Building of Peace,” a comprehensive history of the International Court of Justice, said that politics have usually trumped international law and that in the majority of the court’s cases, judges have ruled in favor of their country of origin. “Most states simply do not accept a higher legal authority,” she said, adding, “however there is no reason to suggest that the I.C.J. judges are in any way instrumental to the politics of their country of origin.”
Among the nuclear powers, only Britain, India and Pakistan have recognized the court’s jurisdiction as compulsory; the others choose whether to opt in. So far, only China has replied, stating that it will not accept the court’s jurisdiction in this case, said Mr. van den Biesen, the lawyer.
Mr. de Brum is not discouraged, arguing that his nation is justified in taking action because it has suffered the effects of nuclear testing and is now threatened by rising sea levels.
From a climate summit meeting in Lima, Peru, in mid-December, he sent an email emphasizing the parallel between climate change and nuclear issues. “They both affect the security and survival of humanity,” Mr. de Brum wrote. “Finally it comes down to this: What would it gain mankind to reach a peaceful resolution of the climate change threat, only to be wiped out by a nuclear misunderstanding?”
Hearings in the case are expected in the coming year.

The History Of New York Earthquakes: Before The Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

Historic Earthquakes
Near New York City, New York
1884 08 10 19:07 UTC
Magnitude 5.5
Intensity VII
New York historic earthquakes
USGS.gov

This severe earthquake affected an area roughly extending along the Atlantic Coast from southern Maine to central Virginia and westward to Cleveland, Ohio. Chimneys were knocked down and walls were cracked in several States, including Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Many towns from Hartford, Connecticut, to West Chester,Pennsylvania.

Property damage was severe at Amityville and Jamaica, New York, where several chimneys were “overturned” and large cracks formed in walls. Two chimneys were thrown down and bricks were shaken from other chimneys at Stratford (Fairfield County), Conn.; water in the Housatonic River was agitated violently. At Bloomfield, N.J., and Chester, Pa., several chimneys were downed and crockery was broken. Chimneys also were damaged at Mount Vernon, N.Y., and Allentown, Easton, and Philadelphia, Pa. Three shocks occurred, the second of which was most violent. This earthquake also was reported felt in Vermont, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Several slight aftershocks were reported on August 11.

The Saudi Horn Fights The Iranian Horn (Daniel 7-8)

Nevermind U.S. shale, Saudi Arabia’s oil power play targets Iran’s economy

Diane Francis | December 27, 2014 | Last Updated: Dec 27 7:00 AM ET
More from Diane Francis
All politics are local, except for oil politics.

The Russians think these low oil prices are an American-Saudi conspiracy. American commentators believe that the Saudis have driven down prices to punish North Dakota’s shale oil revolution and drive its high-cost producers out of the game. In Canada, the paranoia in Calgary is that the Saudis and other Gulf oil producers want to drive the oil sands out of business.

But what are the Saudis up to and are they powerful enough to control prices? This week the Saudi minister blamed low prices on oversupply from North America. But that is simply trash talk.

The Saudis and Gulf States have engineered this price crash as a tactic in their war against Iran, its potential nuclear bomb and its proclivity to export terrorism across their neighborhood. This collapse in prices is cheaper than what they face in terms of military and other costs down the road if Iran is not solved.

This cartel’s days are far from over and the Saudis and their Gulf allies are in charge. The Saudis produce 13% of oil worldwide and the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain account for another 12.48% for a total of 25.48%. (All of the oil cartel members represent 45% of all production and 81% of all reserves).

The Gulf States’ control is absolute because the governments own the stuff; they can act unilaterally unlike free enterprise nations; they have more of it than anyone else; they have gotten very rich over the decades and can finance themselves at lower prices and they have the lowest costs in the world so lower prices don’t mean losses.

This means they will win any game of chicken and, by the way, they have done this before. They outlast competitors and can, and do, ignore their cartel colleagues like Nigeria and Venezuela who are dependent on oil revenue and are whining about prices a lot these days.

This price drop is simply economic war waged by the Arabs against Iran and a shot across the bow in the Shia versus Sunni religious war underway in the Middle East. Iran is “Shia” oil and Gulf or Saudi oil is “Sunni” oil. Iran has exported revolution for decades throughout the region and has spent years developing nuclear power that may, or may not, become nuclear weapons. Indications are that Iran has even been financing ISIS (even though it is Sunni-based) just to create chaos among Sunnis. And there is solid evidence that Iran has been supporting the wholesale suppression of Sunnis in both Iraq and Syria.

Few realize that fear grips the Gulf States and has led to a massive military buildup, for political and religious reasons.

“Almost all Middle Eastern and North African states are evolving in the opposite direction of Europe, having doubled – or even tripled – their defense spending in recent years,” according to a 2014 report by the European Union Institute for Securities Studies. “Six of the world’s top ten military spenders are now located in the Middle East and North Africa: all of the Gulf States, for instance, have tripled their spending since 2003.”

Arab concerns are that if Iran gets a bomb, they must too at a cost of half a trillion dollars or more over several years. This means if you are the King of Saudi Arabia the calculus behind this price plummet is simple: lower oil prices at a cost of tens of billions to the Royal treasury in order to avoid spending half a trillion to develop nuclear deterrence. The aim is to bring Iran to heel, and make support for Shia violence against Sunnis difficult or impossible.

By the way, this price crash has been welcomed, endorsed and possibly encouraged by Washington and Europeans, even the Chinese. All three regions are huge net importers of oil and have gotten a boost in their GDPs as a result.

Another side benefit is that Mr. Putin has been delivered the biggest sanction of all for illegally invading Ukraine. The Russian economy, and corporate roster, is headed for a major meltdown and Mr. Putin is now exposed as a potentate with a gasoline station, not a sustainable empire builder.
Another region to benefit is the Western Hemisphere because outlier Venezuela has been humbled and has contributed greatly to Cuba’s change of heart toward Washington. Fellow travellers in Moscow and Caracas can no longer subsidize the Castro regime which has helped lead to the U.S.-Cuba agreement. This is an underappreciated landmark deal that will shift attitudes and alliances throughout South America and the Caribbean where U.S. (and Canadian) companies have been blocked, confiscated and badgered by Cuba and its proteges.

Finally, Canada’s economic prospects have been trimmed somewhat too by the oil situation, but the fallout is far from fatal. Canadians in general will benefit for a while from lower energy costs, but Alberta will feel some pain. However, it’s the most fiercely free enterprise region in the nation whose fortunes have ebbed and flowed on the whims of a handful of sheikhs (and Ottawa) before.

Albertans will do what they always do: tighten their belts, shake out the high-cost producers and continue to be the country’s principle engine of economic growth.

The West Created The Third Nuclear Horn Of Pakistan (Daniel 8:8)

Pakistanisation of India
Pakistan India border

Ever since this government came into existence, it has left no stone unturned to polarise society. From ‘love jihad’ to religious conversions they have run the entire gauntlet.
Are there any takeaways for India from the sickening slaughter of hundreds of innocent school children, teachers and other enablers at the Army school in Peshawar? Was it an act of utter depravity by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan which underscores that no abomination is beyond them? Was it unfortunately a cataclysm waiting to happen with the cycle of violence becoming all the more brutal in Pakistan? To answer these questions one has to take a step back into history. A recap is imperative to contextualise the chronicle.

It all began four decades ago, after the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971. Pakistan, that had been formed in the name of religion, tore itself apart in the name of ethnicity. The West Pakistani Punjabi was not able to accommodate the East Pakistani Bengali. The flower of the Pakistani Army 90,000 officers and men became Indian prisoners of war. The largest number in any single conflict, post the Second World War. Pakistan was aching for revenge.

Fully cognisant that India held the strategic advantage in conventional military terms around the middle of the Seventies, Pakistan honed a three-pronged approach. The first was the quest to acquire nuclear arms ominously articulated in the words of late Zulifkar Ali Bhutto: “Pakistanis will eat grass but we will get a nuclear bomb”. The second was the journey to Islamise the Pakistani armed forces and the larger social milieu in an attempt to define the identity of Pakistan by Gen. Zia-ul-Haq. The third was the mission to bleed India with a thousand cuts.

By the beginning of the Eighties, all three projects were well underway. A.Q. Khan, ably assisted by the Pakistani intelligence services, was stealing nuclear technology wherever it could be purloined from. The transformation of the Pakistani armed forces from an institution incubated in British traditions to an Islamic military was on a roll. A proxy war against India, first targeting Punjab and, by the late Eighties, encompassing Jammu and Kashmir was being implemented.

What proved to be providential for the Pakistani establishment through the Eighties and later became their Achilles’ heal was its voluntary enrolment as a frontline cat’s-paw in the West’s cold hot war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan ubiquitously referred to as the “Afghan jihad”.

Advantageous because it gave Pakistan access to billions of dollars and sophisticated weaponry that it was able to divert into funding and equipping its proxy war with India. Expedient because it provided the human resource in the form of internally displaced Afghans who had crossed over from Afghanistan to Pakistan to execute its diabolical agenda. Disastrous because the legacy of those years the use of religious institutions to radicalise young minds to keep the human resource for the Afghan jihad and the proxy war against India flowing, coupled with the adoption of terror as an instrument of state policy has brought Pakistan to the state it finds itself in today.

By the end of the Eighties, the Cold War had ended, the Soviets went back over the Amu Darya, but Pakistan could not dismount the tiger it had willingly straddled petrified that it would devour it. Pakistan, therefore, did what it thought would provide it strategic depth: unleashing the Taliban on the war ravaged people of Afghanistan and broadening the proxy war with terrorist strikes deep into Indian mainland.

By the time the millennium turned the Al Qaeda had already attacked American assets worldwide from its safe havens in Afghanistan. On September 11, 2001, Al Qaeda launched the most audacious outrage on the American mainland that dwarfed even Pearl Harbour. The Americans came back to the Afghanistan they had abandoned a decade ago. Pakistan, under the threat of being bombed back to the Stone Age, was again a frontline state in the notorious “war against terror”, overcharging and shortchanging its allies simultaneously.

In this process, the major fatality was the collective ethos of Pakistan. To sustain these multiple conflicts Pakistan had to demonise other nations and peoples, especially India. It had to patronise multiple terrorist groups. What it did not perhaps visualise is that when hate and negative energy begin to override national impulses, then all that you are doing is traipsing on the edges of a catastrophe. That is the tale of Pakistan over the past four decades.

This is exactly the tutorial that the Bharatiya Janata Party government, its fellow travellers and doctrinal mentors need to absorb. Ever since this government came into existence, it has left no stone unturned to polarise society. From “love jihad” to religious conversions they have run the entire gauntlet. What is playing out is a very insidious attempt at the “Pakistanisation” of India. Just as in the late Seventies, President Zia-ul-Haq erroneously thought that the idea of Pakistan should begin and end with a strictly circumscribed Islamic identity, similarly our home grown zealots speciously think that the philosophical postulate that should underpin the Indian identity should be that of a “Hindu rashtra”.

The reason why the idea of India survived and has thrived in the past 67 years is primarily because of its holistic and pluralistic conception what is often referred to in a dismissive manner as pseudo-secularism nowadays. This perhaps is the most vital ingredient that has held India together, notwithstanding the multiple stresses and strains on its substance and structure.

The cause for Pakistan to go belly up was the proclivity to move away from the conception of Pakistan as envisaged by its founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, howsoever hypocritical it may have been, to the vision of Zia-ul-Haq.

Just as in the Eighties and the Nineties, the toxic hot mix of the politics of identity and religion the ubiquitous “Mandal and Mandir” left in its wake a noxious legacy whose after-affects the nation has to still contend with, the attempt to equate national identity with a undenominational religious identity is a very hazardous hand to play.

If there is one message that the Peshawar massacre sends out, it is that a radicalised society, a polarised nation and a myopic notion of national priorities eventually debases populaces, leading to the basic tenets of humanity being cynically sacrificed for objectives wrongly interpreted as being divinely ordained. Social conflict is the bane of national security. The BJP should reflect on this before leading India down that path.

The writer is a lawyer and a former Union minister. The views expressed are personal. Twitter handle @manishtewari