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Ed Webb

40 years after the oil crisis: Could it happen again? - 1 views

  • Forty years ago today, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) voted to raise the posted price of their oil by 70 percent.  The next day, several Arab oil producers decided to impose an embargo on oil sales to the United States to punish it for supporting Israel in the unfolding Yom Kippur War.  While the two decisions were not formally linked, policymakers have worried ever since that OPEC could again restrict the global supply of oil.

    A lot has changed since 1973.  Oil embargoes used to happen fairly frequently: There was one in 1956, and another in 1967.  Until 1973, they didn’t attract much attention.  But due to structural changes in the oil market in the early 1970s, the one in 1973 had a huge impact.  Since that time, there hasn’t been a single international embargo. (The current sanctions against Iran are an importers’ boycott, not an exporters’ embargo.)  What happened?

  • Even without an embargo, policymakers worry that OPEC manipulates the oil market. For example, James Woolsey, a former CIA director and self-proclaimed energy hawk, argues that OPEC has a grip on global oil and gasoline prices so tight that the U.S. will never be free of its influence.  Like most people, Woolsey wrongly believes that OPEC is a powerful cartel. Many economic studies cast doubt on that idea, but there are still some scholars who support the proposition.

    OPEC rarely if ever influences its members’ oil production rates.  It has almost no impact on prices.  My research looked at OPEC’s behavior since 1982, when it first adopted formal production quotas for its members.  I found that joining OPEC has little influence on new members’ oil production rates; members cheat on their quotas a whopping 96 percent of the time; changes in OPEC quotas have little impact on changes in production; and members of OPEC produce oil at about the same rate as non-members of the group, all else equal.  Any of these findings would cast doubt on OPEC’s status as a cartel; collectively they are damning.

  • Most OPEC members – from Venezuela to Nigeria to Iraq – are pumping their oil as fast as they can, with no spare capacity
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  • OPEC is a political club.  It perpetuates a “rational myth” about its cartel power to generate political benefits and prestige for its members, both at home and abroad.  As long as OPEC is viewed as powerful, its leaders can falsely claim credit at home for “managing the economy.”
  • the world would be better off if it stopped assuming that OPEC drives world energy markets.  It does not.  Most of the credit or blame for rising oil prices in recent years rests with the energy demands of Asian customers, not diabolic moves by OPEC
Ed Webb

Iraq: Iran's Economic Gateway To the World - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East - 0 views

  • 72% of Iran’s exports go to Iraq
  • “Iran is in dire need of Iraq, particularly at this stage; not only to market its goods, but to export them to other countries, or to facilitate the movement of Iranian funds through Baghdad to Damascus and Beirut.” He said, “Iraq is Iran’s economic outlet to the world.”
Ed Webb

Iran to Start Gas Exports to Iraq Soon - Minister | World | RIA Novosti - 0 views

  • Iraq is expected to consume about 20-25 million cubic meters of Iranian gas per day.

    Iran, which has the world's second largest natural gas reserves after Russia, is also close to signing an agreement on gas supplies to Syria via Iraq

  • In the summer of 2010, Iran, Iraq and Syria signed a memorandum of understanding on building a gas pipeline across the territory of the three countries. The project to build the gas pipeline, dubbed “Islamic Gas,” is estimated at $10 billion.

    Under the project, the gas pipeline, which will be 5,600 km (3,479 miles) long, is intended to pump 110 million cubic meters of gas per day. Syria wants to purchase 20-25 million cu m per day.

    The 56-inch pipeline will run from Assaluyeh near the South Pars gas field in southern Iran.

    Some volumes of gas will be supplied to Lebanon and Jordan through the Arabian gas transportation system. Iran also has plans to start liquefied natural gas supplies to Europe via Syria’s Mediterranean ports.

Ed Webb

Is Turkey's Foreign Policy Really Sunni? - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East - 0 views

  • it would be wrong to believe that bigoted Sunnis in Ankara embarked on an anti-Shiite mission in the Middle East that has left Turkey at odds with central governments in Syria, Iraq, and ultimately in Iran. To the contrary, Ankara has gone to great lengths to avoid the region's sectarianism, but its efforts have not been very fruitful.
  • it would be also wrong to assume that the reality of sectarianism in the Middle East isn't influencing feelings in Ankara and in Turkish society more broadly. The Alawite-Sunni conflict in Syria is creating bitterness between Turkey's Alevis and Sunnis, although violence seems highly improbable. On the other hand, Turkey is indeed beginning to be perceived as a Sunni power in the region.
Ed Webb

Humanitarian Aid Blocked As UN Imposes New Iran Sanctions | Common Dreams - 0 views

  • Food and medical exports to Iran are being blocked from that country even though they are exempt from new sanctions instituted Monday by the European Union.
  • "With Iraq, that of course ended up with 500,000 Iraqi children dead, resulted in the shortage of medicine, and other needs, and ended up ultimately to forceful invasion and war,"
  • Washington-based sanctions attorney Eric Ferrari said food and medical exports to Iran are being blocked, even though those items are technically exempt from sanctions. According to the NIAC:

    He said he has encountered numerous scenarios—an attempted export of a $250,000 of burn medicine, a multimillion dollar export of prosthetic limbs, exports of food supplies—in which goods that had a license from the U.S. government, a willing exporter, and a willing importer, still were blocked because no foreign bank was willing to take the risk to facilitate the transaction.  The reason, he said, is that the U.S. government has announced broader and broader penalties for any foreign bank dealing with Iranian financial institutions, while making no distinction between prohibited and authorized transactions with those banks.  The result is fewer and fewer channels for legal, humanitarian, food, and medical transactions.

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    Some confusion here - headine refers to UN, text refers to new EU sanctions, but also to existing US sanctions. Nevertheless, it is a matter of concern that sanctions are a blunter weapon than might appear from much media coverage and political discussion.
Ed Webb

Al Jazeera speaks with PKK rebel leader - Middle East - Al Jazeera English - 0 views

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    Note that he speaks Turkish here, not Kurdish - maybe due to who AJ has available to interpret.
Ed Webb

Iran Supplying Syrian Military via Iraq Airspace - NYTimes.com - 0 views

  • And Mr. Maliki’s tolerance of Iran’s use of Iraqi airspace suggests the limits of the Obama administration’s influence in Iraq, despite the American role in toppling Saddam Hussein and ushering in a new government. The American influence also appears limited despite its assertion that it is building a strategic partnership with the Iraqis.

    Mr. Maliki has sought to maintain relations with Iran, while the United States has led the international effort to impose sanctions on the Tehran government. At the same time, the Iraqi prime minister appears to look at the potential fall of Mr. Assad as a development that might strengthen his Sunni Arab and Kurdish rivals in the region. Some states that are the most eager to see Mr. Assad go, like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, have poor relations with Mr. Maliki and his Shiite-dominated government.

  • Iran has an enormous stake in Syria. It is Iran’s staunchest Arab ally, a nation that borders the Mediterranean and Lebanon, and has provided a channel for Iran’s support to Hezbollah.

    As part of Iran’s assistance to the Assad government, it has provided the Syrian authorities with the training and technology to intercept communications and monitor the Internet, according to American officials. Iranian Quds Force personnel, they say, have been involved in training the heavily Alawite paramilitary forces the government has increasingly relied on, as well as Syrian forces that secure the nation’s air bases.

  • there have been reliable reports that Iraqi Shiite militia fighters, long backed by Iran during its efforts to shape events inside Iraq, are now making their way to Syria to help the Assad government
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  • some Iranian experts believe that the Iranian leadership may be unlikely to stop its involvement in Syria even if Mr. Assad is overthrown, having calculated that a chaotic Syria is better than a new government that might be sympathetic to the West.
Ed Webb

Insight: Iran talks - across the table, a wary stalemate - news.yahoo.com - Readability - 0 views

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    "outnumbered "
Ed Webb

BBC News - Iran 'influenced' Iraq over US troops' exit - 0 views

  • we do not want an excuse for the Iranians to intervene in Iraq on the pretext that you have American troops
Kate Musgrave

ANALYSIS / Iran's unlikely understanding with Saudi Arabia - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | ... - 0 views

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    note the use of the phrase "spheres of influence" and potential historical connotation and whatnot... same areas to be influenced; different apparent influence(r)s.
Ed Webb

Iran brokers behind-the-scenes deal for pro-Tehran government in Iraq | World news | Th... - 0 views

  • Within days of the withdrawal, Sadr, who lives in self-imposed exile in the Iranian city of Qom, was told by the Iranians to reconsider his position as a vehement opponent of Maliki. Sadr's party in Iraq had won more than 10% of the 325 seats in play at the election making him a powerbroker in the formation of any new government.

    The push initially came from the spiritual head of the Sadrist movement, Ayatollah Kazem al-Haeri, who has been a godfather figure to the firebrand cleric for the past 15 years.

    "He couldn't say no to him," said the official. "Then the Iranians themselves got involved."

    Days after the Iranian move, an Iraqi push followed. Throughout September Maliki sent his chief of staff to Qom along with a key leader in his Dawa party, Abdul Halim al-Zuhairi. They were, according to the Guardian's source, joined by a senior figure in Lebanese Hezbollah's politburo, Mohamed Kawtharani, as well as arch-US foe General Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Al-Quds Brigades, whose forces the US military blames for causing more than one quarter of its combat casualties in Iraq throughout almost eight years of war.

  • It is understood that the full withdrawal of all US troops after a security agreement signed between Baghdad and Washington at the end of 2011 was also sought by Sheikh Nasrallah.

    "Maliki told them he will never extend, or renew [any bases] or give any facilities to the Americans or British after the end of next year," a source said.

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    Iran playing a smart game
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