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Showing posts from June 12, 2014

Russia Is Abandoning The US Dollar

By Michael Snyder

- The Russians are actually making a move against the petrodollar. It appears that they are quite serious about their de-dollarization strategy. The largest natural gas producer on the planet, Gazprom, has signed agreements with some of their biggest customers to switch payments for natural gas from U.S. dollars to euros. And Gazprom would have never done this without the full approval of the Russian government, because the Russian government holds a majority stake in Gazprom. There hasn't been a word about this from the big mainstream news networks in the United States, but this is huge. When you are talking about Gazprom, you are talking about a company that is absolutely massive. It is one of the largest companies in the entire world and it makes up 8 percent of Russian GDP all by itself. It holds 18 percent of the natural gas reserves of the entire planet, and it is also a very large oil producer. So for Gazprom to make a move like this is extremely significa…

A Matter of Principle: The True Aims of the Terror War

By Chris Floyd

- The moral insanity of the Terror War continues to spawn more violence, more extremism, more repression, more injustice, and the total subversion of the "Western values," all of which it is ostensibly designed to defend.

A new piece by Patrick Cockburn in the Independent provides a grimly illuminating look at this insanity in action on a specific front: Syria. It's worth reading in full, but here is an excerpt:

The Syrian war has turned into a Syrian version of the Thirty Years War in Germany four centuries ago. Too many conflicts and too many players have become involved for any peace terms to be acceptable to all.. … It has become increasingly obvious over the past year that al-Qa’ida type movements, notably Isis, Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, have come to dominate or can operate freely in a great swathe of territory across northern Iraq and northern Syria. This gives Isis a vast hinterland in which it can manoeuvre and fight on both sides of what i…

The Integration Debate Gains Momentum in Europe

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso (L) and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy at a press conference in Brussels on May 27.(GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


The battle for political control of the European Union has begun. With the elections for the European Parliament over, member states are now negotiating the appointment of officials at some of the Continent's most important institutions, including the European Commission and the European Council. Because the largest economies in the bloc dominate these negotiations, the debate risks deepening the political fragmentation between countries in Western Europe and countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

The EU members in Central and Eastern Europe cannot afford to leave the bloc because they depend on the European Union for funding and subsidies. However, these countries are likely to start ignoring and selectively challenging decisions made in Brussels.

Analysis


The slogan that the European Union chose f…

Hanoi's Internal Divisions Hinder Its China Policy

A Chinese Coast Guard ship pursues a Vietnamese vessel June 1 near the site of a Chinese oil rig.(STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


Vietnam is struggling with how to respond to China's maritime expansion and the resulting tensions in the South China Sea. Some of Vietnam's strategies have included counterbalancing China by cultivating relationships with regional and outside powers and trying to reduce China's economic leverage against Vietnam. Until recently, the Vietnamese leadership's tendency to prioritize a cordial relationship with China often offset such strategies -- any major rupture with Beijing could expose uncomfortable internal divisions within Vietnam's ruling Communist Party. Eventually, however, Hanoi will have to reorient its diplomatic, economic and political priorities to deal with China's rise -- a process that could reshape Vietnam's internal politics.

Analysis


Bilateral tensions between China and Vietnam have become more pronounced since Beijing…

Turkey Mulls a Response to the Jihadist Crisis in Iraq

The Iraqi army's weaknesses have been exposed, along with the significant local Sunni tribal support that apparently proved instrumental in facilitating the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant's offensive in Iraq. That leaves a heavy burden on Iraq's Kurdish peshmerga to try to contain the threat. Peshmerga forces will concentrate on protecting key energy infrastructure in the northern disputed territories. At the same time, Turkey could see an opportunity to use the jihadist threat to deepen its military presence in northern Iraq.

The Kurdistan Regional Government will try to leverage Baghdad's desperation for military support to negotiate a deal on energy distribution and revenues. But the Kurdish leadership also cannot afford to have the rising jihadist threat destroy Iraqi Kurdistan's reputation as a haven for investors. The refinery at Baiji between the cities of Mosul and Tikrit remains dangerously exposed, and critical energy infrastructure in Kirkuk lies …

Worsening Violence in Iraq Threatens Regional Security

Senior officers from the Iraqi Army and Ministry of the Interior discuss the ongoing security situation as smoke billows behind them. Hawijah, west of Kirkuk, June 11. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


Battles continue to rage across northern Iraq, pitting jihadist group the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant against Iraqi security forces and their allies. The growing reach of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant has escalated an already brutal campaign in Iraq. Alarmingly quick advances by the militants across an important region of the Middle East could draw in regional powers as well as the United States.

Analysis


Using hit-and-run tactics, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIL, has sought to keep Iraqi security forces dispersed and under pressure. ISIL has achieved this by striking at areas where security forces are weak and withdrawing from areas where Baghdad has concentrated its combat power. The jihadists have been working hard to improve their tradecraft…