martes, 30 de julio de 2013

Mueven los kurdos

No se dejen engañar por la falta de noticias desde Medio Oriente. Ocurre que los “rebeldes” “sirios” están recibiendo un tratamiento personalizado por parte de las Fuerzas Armadas de ese país, tratamiento que les impide, por el momento, seguir decapitando civiles o comiéndose las vísceras de los soldados sirios. Por estos motivos los medios corporativos occidentales han decidido súbitamente que hay otras cosas importantes que informar, como el feliz nacimiento del bebé de la pareja real británica, las vicisitudes del Tata Martino en el Barcelona, una serie de playas románticas en la costa adriática o los mil y un detalles de las interesantísimas vidas de celebrities como Lady Gaga o Amanda Bynes. Sin embargo, el mundo sigue su curso. Por ponerte un ejemplo: empiezan a organizarse los kurdos. Una nota de Andrei Akulov para Strategic Culture ( da cuenta de estos movimientos.

Título: Kurdish Factor to Change Middle East Dynamics

Texto: “A new front is emerging in Syria’s devastating civil war as Kurds and al-Qaeda-inspired Jihadist fighters fight a stiff battle for control of northern populated areas. The Democratic Union Party (PYD), a pro-government Kurdish group in Syria, has taken control of two major towns on Syria's northern border with Turkey and is definitely gaining ground. 

One should give the devil his due, the arrangement with Kurds is a wise and perspicacious move on the part of President Assad. As a result, Kurdish self-rule was established in most of the north-east. On July 2012 President Assad withdrew his military and officials from Kurdish territories in a bid to bolster support as the anti-government uprising unfolded. Kurdish regions including Ayn al-Arab and Afrin in the West are now being administered by PYD committees, and the party’s leader Salih Muslim has announced elections for an interim local parliament, raising the stakes in the pursuit of self-rule. «This administration will be like a temporary government», PYD spokesman Nawaf Khalil told Reuters from his home in exile in Germany.«We need to protect our borders and our people, we need to do something to improve the economic situation». (1) The Kurds hoisted the flag of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) - the most leading political Kurdish force in Syria and the only one with teeth. 

But the Kurdish autonomy has come under threat as Islamists have emerged as a powerful force attempting to establish a religious state in the north. Kurdish fighters engaged in battles with the Islamic militants of the «Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant» and the «Nusra Front» in a number of cities in the north of Syria. The Nusra Front, which has pledged allegiance to al Qaida, has been the most militarily effective. The following battles have brought together the fractious Kurds as they prepare to hold elections that will establish the foundation of self-rule for the Syrian minority of three million. There are instances when the Syrian government troops and Kurds formations join together to repel the Islamist threat. Near the town of Tel Abyad the 93th regiment of the 17th Syrian army division and Syrian Air Force aircraft provided support to the Kurdish armed formations. No matter how fragile it may be, something like an alliance between the Kurds and the government forces is beginning to loom. 

The ongoing struggle with al-Qaeda-linked fighters is achieving what many Kurdish leaders in northern Syria have long been unable to do, unifying under the PYD banner an ethnic group long divided about its future between at least 16 parties. On July 25 all the Kurdish parties gathered in Arbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdish territory in northern Iraq under President Masoud Barzani.

Signaling the new mood of unity in Ras al-Ayn, the PYD hoisted the flag of the Supreme Kurdish Council, an umbrella organization of Kurdish parties in the country, co-founded by PYD. The second co-founder is Kurdish National Committee, consisted of 15 other Syrian Kurdish political parties. The Supreme Council was formed on July 2012 by Barzani’s effort to unite the two, but was unavailing for a year.

A planned Kurdish National Conference that will gather Kurds from Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria is likely to take place between Aug. 20 and 30, a lawmaker from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) said on July 28.

Bitlis lawmaker Hüsamettin Zenderlio?lu has been elected to be on the committee that was established during a meeting in Arbil to decide on the technical details. «From now on, Kurds do not have the will or aim to establish a state», Zenderlio?lu said. «Up to now we have made four meetings and these meetings will continue periodically. The conference will most probably take place between Aug. 20 and 30», he said, adding that up to 500 delegates would attend the conference in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil.

Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani has described the meeting as «historic». «Our main goal in holding this congress is for all Kurdish political factions to reach a shared strategy and voice», Barzani said in a speech.

The meeting will be «the first congress to be held on Kurdish land, and the first to gather all Kurdish parties and groups from across the political spectrum», Kawa Mahmoud, spokesman for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq. He made precise that, «The congress isn’t meant to put in place a unified, centralized leadership, but to unify our positions in the face of the regional turmoil.» He added, «Each of the four Kurdish regions has its own different characteristics, which are mutually respected, and we don’t interfere in each other’s affairs. The Kurdish populations are free to decide their fate within their respective countries».

A wave of unrest across the Middle East has fueled aspirations among some Kurds of forging their own state in the region they call «Kurdistan», a land straddling the borders of eastern Turkey, northeast Syria, northern Iraq and northwestern Iran. The number of Kurds living in Southwest Asia is estimated at 26-34 million, with another one or two million living in diaspora. Kurds are the fourth largest ethnicity in Western Asia after the Arabs, Persians, and Turks. Kurds comprise anywhere from 18% to 25% of the population in Turkey, 15-20% in Iraq, 9% in Syria, 7% in Iran and 1.3% in Armenia. In all of these countries except Iran, Kurds form the second largest ethnic group. Roughly 55% of the world's Kurds live in Turkey, about 18% each in Iran and Iraq, and a bit over 5% in Syria. 

Turkey: unease over new developments

The intention of Syrian Kurds to declare an autonomous region inside the borders of Syria has set off alarm bells in neighboring Turkey. Emergency plans are on the table to counter multiple scenarios. The declaration of autonomy or an independent federal region in Syrian Kurdistan will mean the Kurds control over 550 km of the border with Turkey. The al-Nusra Front Islamic fighters would control the remainder of the border of around 350 km. Al-Nusra Front is no friend of Ankara but rather a fellow traveler. The PYD is affiliated to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that waged a bloody separatist struggle in south-eastern Turkey for three decades until it entered a peace process with Ankara last March. If the Turkish government’s dialogue with Turkish Kurds leader Abdullah Ocalan fails, Turkey will have only bitter options in a PYD-controlled area of Syria. The autonomy for Kurds just across the Turkey-Syria border will boost separatism among its own large Kurdish minority. On July 18 tens of thousands of demonstrators in the predominantly Kurdish populated towns in east and southeast Turkey held rallies «to celebrate the revolution in Rojava», the name for the Kurdish region in Syria. 

«Turkey does not accept any formation of a de-facto region or the cutting of ties with other regions [in Syria] until an elected Syrian parliament is established, giving the political system its final shape», Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said during a visit to Poland on July 23. Quoted by the official Anadolu news agency, he warned that if the Syrian crisis starts to affect Turkey’s security, «Turkey has the right to take any measures it deems necessary to protect its borders».

The situation in Syria is regularly discussed in Turkey at the highest level. The Turkish general staff has announced an increase in security measures at the country's South-Eastern borders and is giving an amplified response to the shootings from abroad «in accordance with the rules of applying military force». Over the weekend of July 20-21 Gen. Galip Mendi of the Turkish Second Land Command inspected the readiness situation of the troops with more Turkish Air Force jets starting to patrol along the Syrian border. Turkish media reported stepped-up military surveillance flights and special forces patrols along the border. On July 26 it was reported that that Turkish F-16s will fly reconnaissance flights along the Syrian frontier highlight rising alarm over border security and suggest a further internationalization of the civil war in Syria with implications for Turkey and the region's Kurds. 

Sabah, a pro-Justice and Development (AK) Party daily newspaper in Turkey, reported that steps are being taken to establish a ten kilometer-wide security zone along the Syrian border to deal with military threats, illicit trafficking in arms and people, and other problems. These measures include reconnaissance flights by Turkish F-16s, whose pilots’ rules of engagement reportedly include permission to fly up to 5 kilometers into Syrian territory and to shoot if they feel threatened. Sabah also cited the deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles and plans to construct a several kilometer-long wall near Reyhanli, in Turkey’s Hatay province, which has been the scene of cross-border firing and other problems for months.

The brewing crisis between Turkey and the Syrian Kurds is compounded by the lack of progress in peace talks with the PKK. These have run into trouble over what the Kurds say is the government’s failure to deliver on any of its promises, including reforming anti-terror laws under which thousands of Kurdish politicians and activists have been jailed. Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan retorts that the PKK has not stuck with its own pledge to withdraw all of its forces from Turkey by June. Mutual suspicions remain after hundreds of years when the Ottoman Empire first extended its reach into the Kurdish-speaking regions.

Turkey has waged a three-decade civil war against its 14 million Kurds. To prevent the appearance of anything like a Greater Kurdistan, it will do its best to counter any attempt at Kurdish unification, even if it means something more serious than just opening fire from time to time across the Syrian border. But with civil unrest, which has just taken place involving millions, and the PKK internal factor, Turkey would commit a great folly to dearly pay for in case in lets itself be dragged into combat on Syrian soil. It will spoil the perfect relationship with the KRG and receive no benefits but losses and headaches aggravating the things to no avail. The Syrian government has preferred an arrangement and benefited from it, so would Turkey in case it gives priority to dialogue instead of intimidation and sabre rattling. 

Options and Prospects

Turkey, Syria and Iran all see an independent Kurdish movement as a threat. Before the Arab Spring set in, the states had attempted to collaborate with each other to counter the Kurdish aspiration for self-identity or even independence. It’s all over now. Turkey is not an Iranian friend now; it has become a bitter enemy of Syria. For all these countries the chances to quell the Kurdish movement have diminished significantly. 

Baghdad still has not recovered from war. Tehran has been weakened because of the international pressure as a response to its nuclear program, so it turns a blind eye to the Kurds autonomous activities. The Arab upheavals accelerated the collapse of the Turkish-Iranian-Syrian axis. The revolution in Syria turned Ankara and Damascus into enemies and gave impetus to Syrian Kurds collaboration with their brethren in Turkey, not to speak of the PKK card, the turn of events Turkey could have easily foreseen before it adopted its hostile, anti-Assad approach. 

Syria remains volatile and unstable with ethnic and religious groups fighting one another. Syrian Kurds are likely to draw lessons and follow the successful example of Iraqi Kurds in establishing an enclave of their own while the rest of the country is involved in war. Actually, Iraqi Kurdish forces have already started training Syrian Kurdish fighters. The Syrian war has allowed the Kurds, occupying the far northeast of the country, to carve out a relatively autonomous and stable region, free of government and, what’s more important, rebel control. 

Syrian Kurds are pushing for self-rule short of independence and there is nothing Turkey or anybody else can do with this reality. The tumultuous events in the Middle East, which has become the world’s most volatile region, provides an ample opportunity for Kurdish awakening. This process is gaining ground separately within each of the four communities with all corresponding specific features, but the trans-border activities are, and most probably will be, increasingly getting the Kurds national political consciousness together. The Kurdish factor appears to be on the way to shake the Middle East geostrategic lines and pillars. In Syria Kurds are demanding a federal system providing them with significant autonomy at least. The Kurds in Turkey are using the intricacies of internal situation to press for democratic autonomy, as they call it. In Iran, they are still to rise from obscurity but the start of the process is there. Thanks to US intervention and the developments it spurred, Iraq has become the heartland of Kurds’ self-identity and the establishment of the KRG, which, to call a spade a spade, rules nothing else but de facto a Kurdish state. That’s where Iranian, Syrian and Turkish Kurds increasingly look for guidance. 

Iraqi Kurdistan has all the features of a state: independent institutions, a constitution and the armed forces (Peshmerga), a thriving economy, diplomatic representation and borders between the Kurdish and Arab parts of the Iraqi state. Syrian Kurdistan has started on its way to acquire the trappings of a state. The creation of Greater Kurdistan will have to manage conflicting Kurdish aspirations in Syria, Iran and Turkey. 

The process of unification is not a bed of roses. The situation of Kurds in Turkey is different from that of Kurds in Iran which is different from that of Kurds in Iraq or Syria. There are also Turks, Arabs, Assyrians and other peoples and religions in the lands predominantly populated by Kurds. The unification process presupposes getting together different groups with different backgrounds, cultures and visions. A new secular, democratic non-Arab nation may appear to change the volatile Middle East. Another possibility is the emergence of a differences-torn territory with bleak prospects for future. The Kurds face a multifaceted problem with many questions to answer. But they have become a factor of the Middle East and political scene, a factor to reckon with no matter where the tide may turn in the volatile region.”

lunes, 29 de julio de 2013

Rumores de Oriente

El salame argentino promedio con ínfulas inversoras, siempre atento a los valores del blue desde blackberries apoyados en bibliotecas falsas llenas de libros de autoayuda en departamentos chorreantes de grasa de Miami, no va a escuchar. Digámoslo de una vez: se lo merece. Porque a pesar del optimismo de esta gente, siguen los rumores, cada vez más fuertes, sobre maniobras posibles, tal vez incluso próximas, para destronar al dólar como moneda internacional de reserva e intercambio. El siguiente artículo de Russ Winter para Winter Actionables ( vuelve a la carga con el tema. Astroboy no sabe si lo que sigue es estrictamente cierto, pero por si las moscas ha hecho tasar algunos de sus innúmeros condominios en Orlando y Miami con vistas a la compra de un modesto monoambiente en, digamos, Shangai o Hongki Kongki, al tiempo que acelera la donación de su colección de obras completas de Paulo Coelho a alguna ONG ambientalista con sede en Pekín, Macao, o donde haya lugar. 


All warfare is based on deception.” – Sun Tzu, “The Art of War” (500 B.C.)

The message of this initiative is for China to consider whether or not China would open up its banking system and allow the strongest currency in the world, which is the Chinese yuan, to be the rightful and anointed convertible currency of the world.” – Thailand Deputy Prime Minister Olarn Chaipravat in an interview with Bloomberg

An international monetary system dominated by a single sovereign sovereign currency has intensified the concentration of risk and the spread of the crisis.”— People’s Bank of China (2009).”

Texto: “It should go without saying that China and Russia have designs to end the U.S. Dollar hegemony and debtism free ride. This is fundamental to understand and will be a game changer. The impacts on the standard of living of these players will be profound and especially negative for the U.S. How and in what manner this plays out is the question. I strongly believe that the answer lies in two parts: letting the U.S. put a noose around its own neck and then at the appropriate time, kicking the chair out from under it.

The first part of the operation is now advanced and is described below. The second part involves China and Russia preparing its relative currencies to be accepted in lieu of dollars. It means making the yuan and ruble at least equal to, if not superior to, American dollars in world trade. As you can imagine, the U.S. — a country with a debt-to-GDP ratio approaching 110% — can ill afford this sort of challenge to its status as a reserve currency.

China has already advanced the Yuan as a principal exchange currency by incorporating a series of deal with other countries. Such arrangements are hardly mentioned by U.S. financial media, but they are going on constantly. So far, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has signed nearly 2 trillion yuan worth of currency-swap deals with 20 countries and regions, including Hong Kong. Here’s a breakdown of happenings:

*  Earlier this month, the European Central Bank announced a large currency swap arrangement with China.
* An Asian ”renminbi bloc” has been formed involving seven countries.
* Russia, Iran, Angola, Sudan and Venezuela have converted oil sales to China into the Chinese Yuan. Worldwide, we see more than 5 million barrels per day traded in Yuan rather than U.S. dollars.
* on June 16 reported RMB-yen trade is growing strongly a year after launch.
* BBC News, April 9: “China and Australia in Currency Pact“
* BBC News, Feb. 22: “UK and China Poised for Currency Swap Deal“
* BBC News, March 26: “China and Brazil Sign $30bn Currency Swap Arrangement“
* on June 4 reports that Singapore has launched a Yuan clearing service.
* Although ignored in the U.S., there has been increased chatter among foreign media about the RMB (aka Yuan) reaching safe-haven, reserve currency status, as Asia Today reported on July 22.

I suggest that the kicking the chair out from USD hegemony involves at least partially backing the Yuan, and Ruble for that matter, with gold. China’s reserve assets were 30.2% of the world total at the end of last year. How much of this is already in gold?

China is secretive about the number, I think it’s because it had some catching up to do and it’s incorporating Sun Tzu-style principles, namely deception. The last time China revealed its gold reserve levels was in 2009 at 1,054 tonnes, which caught the market by surprise.

Another reference point is that China’s foreign exchange reserve increased from $2.2 trillion in 2009 to $3.4 trillion today. During that period, U.S. dollar reserves held by China fell from 69% to 54%.  If only 10% of that $1.2 trillion increase went to gold, then let’s see … At an average price of $1,200, that would be nearly 3,000 tonnes, bringing China’s total gold holdings up to 4000 tonnes. Conventional wisdom would point to between 3,000 and 4,000 tonnes. The U.S. supposedly has 8,133 tonnes in its reserves. Russia has doubled its gold reserve in four years.

China’s mines produce an average of 350 tonnes per year. During the last four years, it has produced 1,400 tonnes. Certainly, its domestic production went toward its reserve. Production estimates for 2013 are 440 tonnes. It should be noted, however, that from 2002 to 2009 China had produced approximately 1800 metric tonnes of gold, which strongly suggests that its figure of 1,054 tonnes for 2009 is understated and deceptive, maybe by a factor of two to three times.

Between 2011 and 2012, imports into China via Hong Kong surged to a total of 950 tonnes. Some, but possibly the majority of this ended up in gold reserves. Furthermore, no one talks about “illegal” gold imports smuggled into China, which may add to the total.

This year, the gold grab has reached entirely new levels, no doubt just one of the “unintended consequences” of the gold short attack in the paper “market.” In the first five months of this year, China imported more than what it did for all of 2011, or 525 tonnes.

Another incredible number is the volume of ounces transferred out of the London bullion market (LBMA) in May. That month alone it increased to 28.2 million ounces. To put that in perspective: 28.2 million troy ounces translates into 877 metric tonnes of gold. The amount of physical gold delivered year to date on the Shanghai Gold Exchange is 1,198 tonnes. Again, it’s much more than one would expect of the appetite of institutions, banks and individuals. The “Chinese granny” investor story is overplayed and may be a bit of a decoy. Much of this are PBoC and their proxies.

In 2009, a Chinese state council adviser known simply as “Ji” said that a team of experts from Shanghai and Beijing had set up a task force to consider expanding China’s gold reserves. Ji was quoted as saying, “We suggested that China’s gold reserves should reach 6,000 tons in the next three to five years and perhaps 10,000 tons in eight to 10 years.”

The numbers I’ve cited are consistent with China easily reaching the Ji gold holding of 6,000 tonnes this year. The kind of withdrawal numbers being reported out of the LBMA, Comex and gold ETFs (653 tonnes YTD) suggest that the PBOC through it’s proxy, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), is involved in a physical gold raid of such magnitude that the 6,000-tonne target has been left in the dust. The great gold sale has facilitated a push heading closer to 10,000 tonnes.

More importantly, as long as gold prices remain suppressed, China will continue to be a large-scale buyer. Perversely, if gold prices remain low, it will serve to accelerate the timeline for China to take down USD reserve currency hegemony. The U.S. can ill afford a China gold reserve buildup of 1,000 tonnes or more a year, let alone raid 2,000 tonnes and at cheap prices.

Meanwhile, China reportedly is progressing well on its ambitious plan to recast large gold bars into smaller, 1-kilogram bars on a massive scale. The big gold recast project points to the Chinese preparing for a new system of trade settlement. In the process, they are constructing a foundation for a new gold-supported monetary system that will give them advantages to their trade payments.

Finally, higher gold prices are necessary if the U.S. wants to curb China demand and prevent an emperor-wears-no-clothes scenario on the home front. You see, once yuan becomes a currency strongly backed by gold, the next logical step will be not just domestic but international pressure on the U.S. and others, like Germany, to lift the iron curtain and reveal whether the gold they have really exists. Then get ready for all hell to break loose.”

Alguien que habla

Mal de época. Estamos tan acostumbrados a la visión del político como personaje de la farándula que tenemos la mente anestesiada. Que Daniel está o no está embarazado. Que Massita pasó a la ofensiva y se sacó el saco. Que Pratt Gay quiere hacer de vos, pobre diablo desharrapado, un winner como él. Que Mauricio no sabe si Massita es del palo. Que Lilita no adelgaza porque existe la panceta. Que Lousteau se va a seguir dejando los rulos. Por eso, cuando alguien abre la boca para decir algo, ni siquiera nos damos cuenta.

Dos títulos de El País de esta mañana llaman la atención. Se refieren a Francisco, el Papa. La Primera nota es de Pablo Ordaz.

Título: “¿Quién soy yo para criticar a los gais?”

Texto: “Francisco se somete durante una hora y 20 minutos a las preguntas de los periodistas en el vuelo de regreso de Río de Janeiro.

Habla de la corrupción en el Vaticano, del papel de la mujer, de su relación con Benedicto XVI y de la actitud de la Iglesia ante las nuevas familias

Media hora después de despegar de Río de Janeiro con destino a Roma, el papa Francisco se presenta ante los periodistas que lo acompañan en el vuelo papal –75 enviados especiales de 14 países-- para responder a cuantas cuestiones quieran plantearle. No hay preguntas pactadas ni líneas rojas. Durante una hora y 20 minutos, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, de 76 años, responde con amabilidad y sin escurrir el bulto sobre los asuntos más peliagudos de la vida de la Iglesia mientras el Airbus A330 de Alitalia, con el código AZ4000 destinado a los vuelos papales, atraviesa una tormenta. De pie, Francisco habla de la corrupción en el banco del Vaticano, de la detención de monseñor Nunzio Scarano –“no ha ido a la cárcel porque se pareciera precisamente a la beata Imelda”--, de la necesidad de una teología de la mujer en la Iglesia, de los gais –“¿quién soy yo para criticarlos?”—y hasta de su relación con Joseph Ratzinger: “La última vez que hubo dos papas no se hablaban entre ellos, se peleaban para ver quién era el verdadero. Yo quiero mucho a Benedicto XVI. Es como tener al abuelo en casa”.

Antes de pasar a las preguntas, Bergoglio confiesa que está “bastante cansado”, pero feliz de lo vivido en Río: “El corazón del pueblo brasileño es grande. Es un pueblo amable, que ama la fiesta, que hasta en el sufrimiento encuentra siempre un camino para hacer el bien. La alegría de los brasileños es contagiosa”. Se refiere por propia iniciativa a los problemas de seguridad surgidos a su llegada a Río de Janeiro: “Se ha hablado de la seguridad por aquí y por allí. No ha habido ni un incidente. Todo era espontáneo. Gracias a que tenía menos seguridad, he podido estar con la gente, abrazarles, saludarles, sin coches blindados. La seguridad es fiarse de un pueblo. Siempre hay el peligro de que un loco haga algo, pero la verdadera locura es poner un espacio blindado entre el obispo y el pueblo. Prefiero el riesgo a esa locura. La cercanía nos hace bien a todos”.

Pregunta. En estos cuatro meses de pontificado ha creado varias comisiones para reformar la Curia vaticana. ¿Qué tipo de reforma tiene en mente? ¿Contempla la posibilidad de suprimir el IOR, el llamado banco del Vaticano?

Respuesta. Todo procede de dos vertientes. La primera es que estoy reformando aquello que los cardenales dijeron que se tenía que reformar durante las congregaciones generales [las reuniones preparatorias del cónclave]. Yo me acuerdo que pedía muchas cosas, pensando que sería otro el que las tendría que hacer… La segunda vertiente es la oportunidad. La parte económica pensaba tratarla el año que viene, porque no es lo más importante que hay que tocar. Sin embargo, la agenda se cambió debido a unas circunstancias que ustedes conocen [los escándalos en el banco del Vaticano], que son de dominio público y que había que enfrentar. Estas cosas suceden en el oficio de gobierno. Uno va por un lado pero le patean un golazo por la parte de allá y lo tiene que atajar, ¿no es cierto? La vida es así y eso es lo lindo de la vida. No sé cómo terminará el IOR. Algunos dicen que tal vez es mejor que sea un banco, otro que es mejor que sea un fondo de ayuda, otros dicen que hay que cerrarlo. Se escuchan estas voces. Yo no sé, me fío del trabajo de las personas que están trabajando en el asunto. En cualquier caso, las características del IOR -sea un banco, un fondo o lo que sea- deben de ser la transparencia y la honestidad.

P. Usted dijo que hay personas santas en la Curia y otras que no lo son tanto. ¿Ha encontrado resistencia a su deseo de cambiar las cosas en el Vaticano?

R. Yo no he visto resistencia. Aunque es verdad que todavía no he hecho tantas cosas. Lo que sí he encontrado es ayuda y gente leal. Por ejemplo, a mí me gusta cuando una persona me dice: 'Yo no estoy de acuerdo', y esto lo he encontrado. 'Yo esto no lo veo, no estoy de acuerdo, yo se lo digo y luego haga lo que quiera': alguien que te dice eso es un verdadero colaborador, y eso lo he encontrado. Pero esos que te dicen: 'Ay, qué bonito, qué bonito, qué bonito', y luego dicen lo contrario en otra parte, todavía no me he dado cuenta. Quizás hay alguno, pero no me he dado cuenta de estas resistencias. En cuatro meses no se pueden encontrar muchas. En cuanto a si hay santos… Hay santos de verdad. Cardenales, sacerdotes, obispos, monjas, laicos… Es gente que reza, que trabaja mucho y que también va, a escondidas, al encuentro de los pobres… Aunque también hay alguno que no es tan santo. Y esos son los que hacen más ruido. Ya sabéis que hace más ruido un árbol que cae que un bosque que crece. Y me duelen esas cosas. Hay algunos que dan escándalo. Tenemos este monseñor en prisión [Nunzio Scarano, acusado de manejar grandes cantidades de dinero negro], y no ha ido a la cárcel porque se pareciera precisamente a la beata Imelda… No era un santo. Son escándalos y hacen daño.

P. Usted no ha hablado todavía sobre el aborto ni sobre el matrimonio ente personas del mismo sexo. En Brasil se ha aprobado una ley que amplía el derecho al aborto y otra que contempla los matrimonios entre personas del mismo sexo. ¿Por qué no ha hablado sobre eso?

R. La Iglesia se ha expresado ya perfectamente sobre eso, no era necesario volver sobre eso, como tampoco hable sobre la estafa, la mentira u otras cosas sobre las cuales la Iglesia tiene una doctrina clara. No era necesario hablar de eso, sino de las cosas positivas que abren camino a los chicos. Además los jóvenes saben perfectamente cuál es la postura de la Iglesia.

P. ¿Pero cuál es su postura en esos temas?

R. La de la Iglesia, soy hijo de la Iglesia.

P. Cuando se ha reunido con los jóvenes argentinos, les ha dicho que a veces se siente enjaulado. ¿A qué se refería exactamente?

R. ¿Usted sabe la de veces que he tenido ganas de pasear por las calles de Roma? Porque a mi me gusta andar por las calles, me gustaba tanto y en ese sentido me siento un poco enjaulado. Pero debo decir que los de la Gendarmería vaticana son buenos, son realmente buenos y yo les estoy agradecido. Ahora me dejan hacer algunas cuantas cosas más, pero es su deber garantizar la seguridad. Enjaulado en ese sentido, de que a mi me gusta andar por la calle, pero entiendo que no es posible, lo entiendo. Lo dije en ese sentido. Porque, como decimos en Buenos Aires, yo era un cura callejero. Por cierto, creo que es hora de servir la cena, ¿no tenéis hambre?

P. No. ¿Está usted cansado?

R. No estoy casado, yo soy single [risas].

P. ¿Cómo debe ser participación de las mujeres en la Iglesia? ¿Qué piensa de la ordenación de las mujeres?

R. Como dije a los obispos, sobre la participación de las mujeres en la Iglesia no nos podemos limitar a las mujeres monaguillo, a la presidenta de Cáritas, a la catequista… Tiene que haber algo más, hay que hacer una profunda Teología de la Mujer. En cuanto a la ordenación de las mujeres, la Iglesia ha hablado y dice no. Lo dijo Juan Pablo II, pero con una formulación definitiva. Esa puerta está cerrada. Pero sobre esto quiero decirles algo: la Virgen María era más importante que los apóstoles y que los obispos y que los diáconos y los sacerdotes. La mujer en la Iglesia es más importante que los obispos y que los curas. ¿Cómo? Esto es lo que debemos tratar de explicitar mejor. Creo que falta una explicitación teológica sobre esto.

P. En cuanto al acceso a los sacramentos de los divorciados vueltos a casar, ¿existe la posibilidad de que algo cambie en la disciplina de la Iglesia y que estos sacramentos sean una ocasión de acercar a estas personas y no una barrera?

R. La Iglesia es madre, debe ir a curar a los heridos con misericordia. Si el Señor no se cansa de perdonar, nosotros no tenemos otra elección que ésa. Primero de todo, curar a los heridos. La Iglesia es mamá. Debe ir en este camino de la misericordia, encontrar una misericordia para todos. Pienso que cuando el hijo pródigo volvió a casa, el papá no le dijo “¿quién sos? qué hiciste con el dinero”. No, hizo una fiesta. Quizás luego, cuando el hijo quiso hablar, habló. Pero el padre no sólo esperó, fue a encontrarlo. Esto es misericordia, esto es kairos. En cuanto el problema de la comunión a las personas en segunda unión --porque los divorciados sí pueden hacer la comunión--, creo que esto es necesario mirarlo en la totalidad de la pastoral matrimonial.

P. ¿Cuál es su relación con Benedicto XVI? ¿Tienen contactos frecuentes? ¿Le ayuda?

R. La última vez que hubo dos papas o tres papas no se hablaban entre ellos, se estaban peleando a ver quién era el verdadero. Tres llegaron a haber durante el Cisma de Occidente. Hay algo que califica mi relación con Benedicto: yo lo quiero mucho. Siempre lo quise mucho, para mí es un hombre de Dios, es un hombre humilde, que reza. Yo fui muy feliz cuando fue electo Papa. También cuando él renunció para mí fue un ejemplo de un grande, un hombre de Dios, un hombre de oración. Él ahora vive en el Vaticano y algunos me dicen: “¿pero cómo se puede hacer esto, dos papas en el Vaticano, pero no te molesta, él no te hace la revolución en contra?”. Todas esas cosas que dicen, ¿no? Pero yo encontré una frase para esto: es como tener al abuelo en casa, pero el abuelo sabio. En una familia el abuelo está en casa, es venerado, es amado, es escuchado. El es un hombre de una prudencia exquisita, no se mete. Yo lo digo muchas veces: “santidad, haga su vida, venga con nosotros”. Para mí, es como tener el abuelo en casa, es mi papá. Si yo tuviera una dificultad o tengo algo que no he entendido, puedo llamarlo. Y cuando fui para hablar de ese problema grande de Vatileaks él me lo contó todo con simplicidad. Además, no sé si saben, pero cuando nos habló en el discurso de despedida, el 28 de febrero, dijo: “entre ustedes está el próximo Papa y yo prometo obediencia”. Es un grande.

P. ¿Se asustó cuando vio el informe Vatileaks?

R. No. Les voy a contar una anécdota sobre el informe Vatileaks. Cuando fui a ver al papa Benedicto después de mi elección, tras rezar en la capilla [de Castel Gandolfo] nos reunimos en el estudio y había una caja grande y un sobre. Benedicto me dijo: en esta caja grande están todas las declaraciones que han prestado los testigos. Y el resumen y las conclusiones finales están en este sobre. Y aquí se dice tal tal tal… ¡Lo tenía todo en la cabeza! Pero no, no me he asustado. Es un problema grande, pero no me he asustado.

P. La historia de monseñor Battista Ricca [nombrado por el Papa para controlar el banco del Vaticano y en el centro de una polémica por un supuesto pasado de escándalos sexuales] ha dado la vuelta al mundo. ¿Queríamos saber cómo va afrontar este asunto y todos los relacionados con el supuesto lobby gay en el Vaticano?

R. Con respecto a monseñor Ricca, he hecho lo que el derecho canónico manda hacer, que es una investigación previa. Y esta investigación no se corresponde con lo que se ha publicado. No hemos encontrado nada. Pero yo querría añadir una cosa sobre esto. Yo pienso que muchas veces en la Iglesia --con relación a este caso o con otros--, se va a buscar los pecados de juventud. Y se publican. No los delitos, los delitos son otra cosa. Los abusos de menores son delitos. Me refiero a los pecados. Pero si una persona –laico, cura o monja— comete un pecado y luego se arrepiente, el Señor la perdona. Y cuando el Señor perdona, olvida. Y esto para nuestra vida es importante. Cuando confesamos, el señor perdona y olvida. Y nosotros no tenemos derecho a no olvidar. Luego usted hablaba del lobby gay. Se escribe mucho del lobby gay. Todavía no me he encontrado con ninguno que me dé el carnet de identidad en el Vaticano donde lo diga. Dicen que los hay. Cuando uno se encuentra con una persona así, debe distinguir entre el hecho de ser una persona gay y el hecho de hacer lobby, porque ningún lobby es bueno. Si una persona es gay y busca al Señor y tiene buena voluntad, ¿quién soy yo para criticarlo? El catecismo de la Iglesia católica lo explica de forma muy bella. Dice que no se debe marginar a estas personas por eso. Hay que integrarlas en la sociedad. El problema no es tener esta tendencia. Debemos ser hermanos. El problema es hacer un lobby. De esta tendencia o el lobby de los avaros, de los políticos, de los masones... Tantos lobbys… Este el problema más grande.

Después de responder a esta cuestión, sin duda la más complicada, la última después de una hora y 20 minutos de conversación, Jorge Bergoglio mira a la periodista que lo ha puesto en el brete y le dice con una amplia sonrisa: “Le agradezco tanto que me haya hecho esta pregunta. Muchas gracias. Gracias a todos”.”


La segunda nota es un análisis de Juan Arias.

Título: “¿Será Francisco el nuevo Moisés de la Iglesia?”
Epígrafe: “La revolución que el Papa ha lanzado desde Brasil a todo el mundo, como ya se esperaba, va en serio”

Texto: “En Brasil, la Iglesia - con Francisco como un nuevo Moisés bíblico - ha sido llamada a atravesar su desierto en busca de una tierra nueva para huir de la esclavitud en que la había colocado su alejamiento de la gente.

Es posible que, como Moisés, tampoco Francisco vea a la Iglesia llegar a esa tierra prometida que el sueña, en la que no exista ya la “psicología de príncipes” en los obispos; en la que estos sean pobres de corazón y de bienes; que no suspiren por las cebollas y los cocidos de carne que dejaron atrás y que no vuelvan a adorar los becerros de oro.

La revolución que el Papa ha lanzado desde Brasil a todo el mundo, como ya se esperaba, va en serio. No existen dudas después de su discurso duro, con autoridad, sin concesiones, pronunciado a los representantes de las conferencias episcopales de América Latina y de algún modo a los 3.000 obispos del mundo.

Francisco quiere acabar con una Iglesia que se ha revestido hasta ahora de mil oropeles ideológicos que poco tienen que ver con la sencilla, y a la vez exigente, propuesta evangélica.

Ha desnudado a la Iglesia de las falsas ideologías tanto de izquierdas como de derechas que habían cambiado la idea evangélica del encuentro con los excluidos, de la misericordia sin reservas, del encuentro incluso corporal, físico, con el prójimo, sin miedo al cuerpo, por categorías de sociología o de psicología que acabaron acuñando en la Iglesia una espiritualidad elitista, desencarnada, sin compromiso con su realidad primitiva cuando desafiaba a los ídolos del poder.

Les ha venido a decir a los obispos que la Iglesia no puede continuar como hasta ahora. Que tiene que cambiar de piel, dejar de ser burocrática, olvidarse de los demonios del carrierismo. Les ha dicho que, más que en el mañana de sus vidas, piensen en el hoy de los que sufren ahora y no pueden esperar. “El hoy es la eternidad”, les dijo a los obispos. Y ese hoy y esos marginados de la sociedad son “la carne de la Iglesia”.

Hasta ahora, incluso los papas más abiertos,hablaban siempre de reformar a la Curia, el Gobierno central del Vaticano. Francisco, que deberá hacer también eso y con urgencia, ha propuesto en Brasil una revolución global de la Iglesia.

Cuando habló de la “humildad social”, estaba traduciendo el mandato evangélico de que el mayor se haga el menor para ir al encuentro del prójimo, que es un igual a nosotros.

No sabemos aún cómo los diferentes movimientos de la Iglesia como el Opus Dei, los pentecostalista, los de Comunión y Liberación o los mismos teólogos de la liberación analizarán ahora las graves palabras de Francisco en Río.

Para él no sirven las metodologías liberales ni las marxistas para encarnar el evangelio en la gente. Las ha tachado a todas de ideologías elitistas. Como alternativa a los conceptos políticos de derechas, centro o izquierdas, Francisco ha acuñado para su pontificado una nueva: la de la periferia, que es, les ha dicho a los obispos, donde se deben colocar como “pastores” y no como “príncipes”; como anunciadores de esperanza y no como burócratas o administradores de una empresa o de una ONG.

En cierto modo les ha dicho a los obispos que se dejen de bizantinismo y que salgan a la calle a tomar de la mano a todos los que buscan una ayuda, un consuelo, un consejo o simplemente un hombro donde llorar ese dolor que no hay ideología capaz de consolar.

¿Dejarán a Francisco - que se ha presentado despojado y cercano a la gente, sin las insignias reales del papado -llevar a cabo esa novedad histórica que obligará a la Iglesia a una catarsis colectiva?

¿Lo escucharán y seguirán en esa travesía del desierto? ¿En esa conversión existencial para desnudarse, como hizo el joven Francisco, de su cómoda vida pasada para seguir al pie de la letra el evangelio compartiendo la vida de los sin poder y sin dinero?

Difícil de adivinar. Moisés no llegó a ver la Tierra prometida, pero el pueblo judío consiguió, al final, librarse de la esclavitud de los ídolos."

domingo, 28 de julio de 2013

Barcos, ratas y príncipes

Siguen las movidas extrañas en Arabia Saudita. Todo muy complicado. Habrá que ver. Acá va una nota recién salida del sitio web de Alalam (

"Prince Khalid Bin Farhan Al-Saud has announced his defection from Al Saud royal family through a statement, calling on other princes to break their silence and reveal the truth for sake of God.  In his statement on Saturday, the Saudi prince referred to his ‘sufferings’ under reign of Al Saud regime describing them as bitter experiences that will be revealed by the Saudi twitter writer Mujtahid and Saudi activist Saad al-Faqih, who is currently living in London.

He said he thanked God that helped him understand the truth about Saudi regime through a “direct horrible personal experience” so that he could have a taste of what people suffered from throughout the country. “With pride, I announce my defection from Al Saudi family in Saudi Arabia,” he wrote in his statement. “This regime in Saudi Arabia does not stand by God’s rules or even (country’s) established rules and its policies, decisions, and actions are totally based on personal will of its leaders.”

“All that is said in Saudi Arabia about respecting law and religion rules are factitious so that they can lie and pretend that the regime obeys Islamic rules.”

He criticized the royal family for considering the country as its own property while silencing all voices from inside and outside the government calling for any change and reforms.

Khalid Bin Farhan said the ruling family has deliberately pulled the country to the current condition where cries of oppressed people are ignored. “They don’t think about anything but their personal benefits and do not care for country’s and people’s interests or even national security,” he added.

H warned that current problems of the Saudi Arabia are not “temporary or superficial” and they do not end at unemployment, low wages and unjustified distribution of common wealth, facilities and services. “The problems are deep and real,” he said adding that they are concerned with political and financial corruption and abuse of power by the regime and fraud in the parliament and judiciary system.

The Saudi prince said everything that the pro-reform opposition says about country’s political, economical, judiciary, social and security condition as well as their abuse of religious values are true and “the situation is even worse than what is said in criticisms”.

He called on all those who cared for the future of the country to join him and the reform stream and break their silence on Al Saud corruptions."

viernes, 26 de julio de 2013

Detroit y sus metáforas

La siguiente nota de Finian Cunningham para Strategic Culture es una de las muchas reflexiones que ha suscitado la quiebra de Detroit. Vayamos a la nota (

Título: Detroit Bankruptcy – American Dream to American Nightmare Shows Redundancy of Capitalism

Texto: "The recently declared bankruptcy of Detroit City could serve as an epitome of the rise and fall of not just American capitalism, but the capitalist system generally as an historical mode of production. It is a mode of production that is no longer viable as a way of efficiently organizing and sustaining society in the 21st Century. In fact, the system has become the nemesis of American and other societies across the world.

In its earlier glory days, Detroit reflected the awesome productive power of American capitalism and many of the system’s undoubted initially progressive attributes. In the first half of the 20th Century, the northern American city became the centre of the giant US automobile industry. That industry seemed to symbolize all that was positive in American-style capitalism and society at large. It employed millions of workers in modern, clean factories with relatively decent wages. Fordist Production – named after the car manufacturer Henry Ford (1863-1947) – was based on the reasoning that if assembly workers were paid generous wages and benefits, then these workers would in turn be able to buy the cars that the factories were mass producing. It sounded eminently reasonable and for a while it worked admirably.

This social contract appeared to be a win-win formula for the capitalist factory owner and the labor force he employed. It became an accepted model right across the auto industry and many others followed suit, making American society productive, wealthy and seemingly a paragon for the rest of the world. The prodigious social gains made by the American auto workers were not merely a result of unilateral employer enlightenment and generosity. Decades of hard-fought organized labor protest and struggle for better wages and conditions were also a factor in forming this implicit social contract.

For decades the prestige of American capitalism seemed unassailable. In terms of output and quality of product, the US economy was the undisputed world leader. This was due partly to the sheer size of its population and abundance of natural resources, but also to the relatively progressive social pact that lay at the heart of American-style capitalism. Workers and their families benefited enormously from the material gains accrued from «Fordism». These families were able to afford pleasant homes with white picket fences in congenial suburbs. The American car and its iconic brands – Chevrolet, Buick, T-Bird – symbolized the American Dream of popular wealth and seemingly happy lifestyle. Drive-in movies, drive-in fast-food restaurants, inter-state highways, everything seemed boundless and bountiful and all so egalitarian. It is understandable how the popular American psyche had such an affinity with consumer capitalism. Those halcyon days seemed golden indeed.

Detroit City became affectionately nicked-named Motown in deference to the motor industry. It was the home of American industrial and social prowess in the post Second World War years. The bustling city provided in particular a destination for poor, rural African-Americans to migrate to and escape from the poverty and backward racism of the Deep South. Along with the mass production of the auto industry, Detroit flourished as a cultural centre for modern American music, producing new genres of soul, rock and jazz. Motown was not just a world leader in car and transport industries; it provided the upbeat soundtrack for all that seemed progressive about modern American capitalist society.

But the tide would change dramatically and irreversibly. The material gains that American labor was able to wrest from American capital in the social pact that had made the economic model such a success would soon come under attack. From the 1970s onwards, the American upper class embarked on a nationwide «tax revolt». With the rise of international industrial competitors in Europe and Japan, the American economy began losing competitiveness and profitability.

However, American capital was unwilling to cut its cloth accordingly. Instead, it saw that concessions would have to be yielded by US workers. This was the beginning of the rise in neo-liberalism, a political trajectory spearheaded by President Ronald Reagan and his financial backers from within the American ruling class. This ideological shift – known as Reaganomics and also Thatcherism in Britain – prevails to this day. All political parties in the US and Europe conform to the neo-liberal agenda. This agenda has and continues to oversee a secular shift in wealth from the working and middle classes to the upper echelon of society. So much so that many commentators note the phenomenon of a disappearing middle class in which society is more characterized by just two classes – the haves and the have-nots. Under neo-liberalism, the prevailing orthodoxy is dominated by relentless tax cuts for rich individuals and companies, deregulation of industries to maximize financial profit, decimation of workforces, pay and conditions, union-busting, and balancing government budgets by slashing public spending and investment.

Some figures help illustrate this historic shift. In the US, some 40 per cent of all income tax derived by central government comes from payrolls, while 9 per cent comes from corporation tax. Six decades ago, the ratio of contributions was reversed, with worker payrolls accounting for 10 per cent of total tax take and corporate tax providing some 33 per cent of government revenues. This trend can be seen in Europe as well. It has become the hallmark of Late Capitalism, whereby the wealth gap between a tiny social elite and the vast majority has become a stark chasm. In the US, the top 400 richest individuals have a combined wealth greater than more than 150 milllion Americans – half the total population.

Developments in technology along with the freeing of capital under globalization policies also meant that industries could export jobs to cheap labor countries and regions – all under the politically legitimized pursuit of maximizing profit. This has led to deindustrialization of cities across the US and elsewhere, replaced by poorly paid, insecure service jobs or massive unemployment.

Detroit City is a case study of this demise in American industry. In its heyday, during the 1960s, the city was the fourth largest in the US with a population then of some 3 million. Today, the city’s population has dwindled to 700,000, making it now the 18th largest. That demographic collapse is intimately related to the collapse of US industry as dictated by the demands of capitalist logic. Other signs of urban decay are that 60 per cent of Detroit’s children live in poverty, there are more than 70,000 abandoned residences across the city, more than half the municipal parks are closed, and the once salubrious suburbs have degenerated to a state of destitution and crime, or reverted to natural wilderness. Some 40 per cent of the city’s street lighting has been turned off and in many areas vital public services, such as firefighters and ambulances, have ceased operating.

Motown’s workforce has been decimated to number some 10,000, in addition to 20,000 retirees. Those jobs that do exist are now subject to further lay-offs and wage cuts as the city planners rationalize how to pay off up to $20 billion in debts to bondholders and Wall Street banks. The unelected financial controller of Detroit, Kevyn Orr, a Wall Street bankruptcy lawyer who was appointed back in March by Michigan State governor, Rick Snyder, has set the priority of paying off the banks above all other obligations, including public welfare. The city’s bankruptcy status gives the controllers dictatorial powers to tear up statutory employment and pension contracts. As in Europe, public austerity and in effect public embezzlement is to be enforced by unelected technocrats in order to placate the sacrosanct profits of banks and hedge funds.

Detroit City’s debt has been decades in the making. But while the city’s planners, media and Wall Street flunkeys blame the fiscal situation on «onerous» public welfare and pensions, the truth is that, like much of America, the soaring deficits and plummeting social conditions are due to the historic, inexorable shift demanded by capitalism. The social pact that previously worked for Detroit and the US generally was always vulnerable to attack by the rich and powerful. Capitalism is a system whose ineluctable dynamic is to polarize wealth and power, and to shift the burden of costs and losses on to the less powerful. Detroit demonstrates how political constraints on the aggrandizement of wealth and power will eventually be ruptured by the elite and their bought-and-paid-for politicians. Even with the best of intentions, as Detroit proves, capitalism as a system is bound to end in misery for the majority while enriching an elite to ludicrous and obscene levels.

This elite includes the two Big Business political parties of Democrat and Republican and their lobbyists in Congress. Since the financial collapse in 2008, the Washington political establishment has pumped some $3 trillion of taxpayer money into bailing out Wall Street and its banks, the very section of society whose crony capitalism caused the economic collapse. This bailout, given the quaint name of Quantitative Easing, continues at a rate of $85 billion a month under the aegis of the US Federal Reserve. That amounts to four times the debt of Detroit City – paid out to the banks every month. Yet the Obama administration maintains that there is no federal cash to help rescue Detroit. How crassly undemocratic is that? Indeed, some commentators opine that the White House and Congress are setting up Detroit as a precedent case for gutting public funds in other similarly indebted cities across America.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Detroit workers and other citizens are fighting back with lawsuits, strikes and civic disobedience. They say that the city should simply repudiate the debts to Wall Streets and let the already bloated banks take the financial hit. The priority must then be on public investment to regenerate decent jobs, housing, education, healthcare and communities. That is, the economy of the city must be brought under democratic planning to serve public needs, not private elite profits. That is a paradigm shift that the whole of the US (and Europe) needs to adopt. Some may call this socialism. One thing for sure is that such an alternative political program is certainly not capitalism. The story of Detroit shows that whatever progressive aspects capitalism may have had in former times, it is no longer viable for sustaining societies in the 21st Century. Indeed, how could it be? It is a voracious, irrational system that inevitably destroys morethan it creates."

jueves, 25 de julio de 2013


Pepe Escobar manda, desde su artículo en Asia Times, un gracioso resumen de situación en torno al estado de las cosas y los intereses en juego en Siria y la región ( Los EEUU, desconcentrados, por decir algo. Europa, más patética que nunca. Los países del Golfo, bien, gracias.

Título: War against Iran, Iraq AND Syria?

Texto: “Amidst the incessant rumble in the (Washington) jungle about a possible Obama administration military adventure in Syria, new information has come to light. And what a piece of Pipelineistan information that is. 

Picture Iraqi Oil Minister Abdelkarim al-Luaybi, Syrian Oil Minister Sufian Allaw, and the current Iranian caretaker Oil Minister Mohammad Aliabadi getting together in the port of Assalouyeh, southern Iran, to sign a memorandum of understanding for the construction of the Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline, no less. 

At Asia Times Online and also elsewhere I have been arguing that this prospective Pipelinestan node is one of the fundamental reasons for the proxy war in Syria. Against the interests of Washington, for whom integrating Iran is anathema, the pipeline bypasses two crucial foreign actors in Syria - prime "rebel" weaponizer Qatar (as a gas producer) and logistical "rebel" supporter Turkey (as the self-described privileged energy crossroads between East and West). 

The US$10 billion, 6,000 kilometer pipeline is set to start in Iran's South Pars gas field (the largest in the world, shared with Qatar), and run via Iraq, Syria and ultimately to Lebanon. Then it could go under the Mediterranean to Greece and beyond; be linked to the Arab gas pipeline; or both. 

Before the end of August, three working groups will be discussing the complex technical, financial and legal aspects involved. Once finance is secured - and that's far from certain, considering the proxy war in Syria - the pipeline could be online by 2018. Tehran hopes that the final agreement will be signed before the end of the year. 

Tehran's working assumption is that it will be able to export 250 million cubic meters of gas a day by 2016. When finished, the pipeline will be able to pump 100 million cubic meters a day. For the moment, Iraq needs up to 15 million cubic meters a day. By 2020, Syria will need up to 20 million cubic meters, and Lebanon up to 7 million cubic meters. That still leaves a lot of gas to be exported to European customers. 

Europeans - who endlessly carp about being hostages of Gazprom - should be rejoicing. Instead, once again they shot themselves in their Bally-clad feet. 

Want war? Here's the bill
Before we get to the latest European fiasco, let's mix this Pipelineistan development with the new Pentagon "discovery" - via the deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), David Shedd, according to whom the proxy war in Syria may last for "multiple years". If that happens, bye-bye pipeline. 

One wonders what those Pentagon intel wizards have really been doing since early 2011, considering they had been predicting Bashar al-Assad's fall every other week. Now they have also "discovered" that jihadis in the Syrian theater of the Jabhat al-Nusra and al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) mould are actually running the (ghastly) show. Shedd admitted there are "at least 1,200" disparate "rebel" factions/gangs in Syria, most of them irrelevant. 

Attesting to the appalling average IQ involved in foreign policy debate in the Beltway, still this information had to be spun to justify yet another military adventure on the horizon - especially after President Barack "Assad must go" Obama declared he would authorize the "light" weaponizing of "good" rebels only. As if the harsh rules of war obeyed some Weapon Fairy Godmother high up in the sky. 

Into the ring steps General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. On the same day that Tehran, Baghdad and Damascus were talking seriously about the business of energy, Dempsey wrote to US senators of the John McCain warmongering variety that the US getting into yet another war would lead to "unintended consequences". 

Dempsey wrote that weaponizing and training the "good" rebels (assuming the CIA has a clue who they are) would cost "$500 million per year initially", require "several hundred to several thousand troops" and risk weaponizing al-Qaeda-style jihadis, as well as plunging Washington, according to Dempsey's Pentagonese, into "inadvertent association with war crimes due to vetting difficulties." 

In case the Obama administration caved in to the warmongers' favorite option - a no-fly zone - Dempsey also said "limited" air strikes would require "hundreds of aircraft, ships, submarines, and other enablers", to a cost "in the billions", and all that to achieve little else than a "significant degradation of regime capabilities and an increase in regime desertions". 

Dempsey at least was frank; unlike Gaddafi in Libya, Bashar al-Assad's forces would not fold because of a no-fly zone. And nothing substantially would change because the Syrian government "relies overwhelmingly on surface fires - mortars, artillery, and missiles". And even a limited no-fly zone - what former State Department star Anne-Marie Slaughter euphemistically defined as a "no-kill zone" - would cost "over $1 billion a month". And who will be paying for all this? China? 

Even with Dempsey playing god cop and sporting the voice of reason - something quite astonishing in itself; but anyway he's been to Iraq, and saw first hand the ass-kicking by a bunch of towelheads with second-hand Kalashnikovs - US pundits are still relishing the internal debate in the Obama administration over the "wisdom" of yet another war. 

Round up all the Prada jihadis
And while the "wisdom" debate is slated to go on, the European Union decided to act; meekly bowing to US and Israel pressure, the EU - itself pressured by the UK and the Netherlands - blacklisted the armed wing of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. The pretext was the bombing of a bus carrying Israelis in Bulgaria in 2012. Hezbollah said it had nothing to do with it. Bulgarian investigators said positively yes; then maybe; and now they admit even circumstantial evidence is shaky. 

So the pretext is bogus. This is the EU - after the despicable denying of overflying rights to the Bolivian presidential plane - once again meekly playing poodle, with the Brits and the Dutch trying to weaken Hezbollah just as it has staked its ground in the Syrian/Lebanese border and has actually fought those jihadis of the Jabhat al-Nusra and AQI kind. 

As a graphic illustration of utter EU cluelessness - some might say stupidity - Britain, the Netherlands and France, especially, followed by the others, have just branded the organization that is fighting jihadis on the ground in Syria/Lebanon "terrorists", while the jihadis themselves get away with it. So much for European ignorance/arrogance. 

So what's next? It's not far-fetched to imagine the EU totally forgetting about a pipeline that will ultimately benefit its citizens and issuing - under US pressure - a directive branding Iran-Iraq-Syria as a terrorist axis; lobbying for a no-fly zone applying to all; and recruiting jihadis all over for a Holy War against the axis, supported by a fatwa issued by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. But first they would need Washington's approval. As a matter of fact, they might even get it."

miércoles, 24 de julio de 2013


Burbujeo de metano a través del hielo ártico en Alaska

El siguiente artículo de Matt McGrath para la BBC News advierte sobre la posibilidad real de un drástico aumento del efecto invernadero en todo el mundo a partir de la liberación a la atmósfera de enormes cantidades de metano actualmente contenidas en los clatratos, o hidratos de metano actualmente sellados bajo el hielo del Artico. El informe se sustenta en un trabajo reciente publicado en Nature sobre este fenómeno. Los costos provocados por dichos cambios podrían ser aproximadamente equivalentes al PBI global: unos 60 billones de dólares (60 trillions de la nomenclatura anglosajona). La nota original de la BBC puede leerse en: 

Título: Arctic methane 'time bomb' could have huge economic costs

Texto: “Scientists say that the release of large amounts of methane from thawing permafrost in the Arctic could have huge economic impacts for the world.

The researchers estimate that the climate effects of the release of this gas could cost $60 trillion (£39 trillion), roughly the size of the global economy in 2012. The impacts are most likely to be felt in developing countries they say. “That's an economic time bomb that at this stage has not been recognised on the world stage”
Scientists have had concerns about the impact of rising temperatures on permafrost for many years. Large amounts of methane are concentrated in the frozen Arctic tundra but are also found as semi-solid gas hydrates under the sea.

Price of gas
Previous work has shown that the diminishing ice cover in the East Siberian sea is allowing the waters to warm and the methane to leach out. Scientists have found plumes of the gas up to a kilometre in diameter rising from these waters.
In this study, the researchers have attempted to put an economic price on the climate damage that these emissions of methane could cause. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, even though it lasts less than a decade in the atmosphere.

Using an economic model very similar to the one used by Lord Stern in his 2006 review of the economics of climate change, the researchers examined the impact of the release of 50-gigatonnes of methane over a decade.

They worked out that this would increase climate impacts such as flooding, sea level rise, damage to agriculture and human health to the tune of $60 trillion.

"That's an economic time bomb that at this stage has not been recognised on the world stage," said Prof Gail Whiteman at Erasmus University in the Netherlands, and one of authors.

"We think its incredibly important for world leaders to really discuss what are the implications of this methane release and what could we indeed do about it to hopefully prevent the whole burst from happening."
The researchers say their study is in marked contrast to other, more upbeat assessments of the economic benefits of warming in the Arctic region.

It is thought that up to 30% of the world's undiscovered gas and 13% of undiscovered oil lie in the waters. Transport companies are looking to send increasing numbers of ships through these fast melting seas. According to Lloyds of London, investment in the Arctic could reach $100bn within ten years.

Methane belch
But according to the new work, these benefits would be a fraction of the likely costs of a large scale methane emission. The authors say a release of methane on this scale could bring forward the date when global temperatures increase by 2C by between 15 and 35 years.

New research suggests that permafrost is also melting in Antarctica. Scientists have found that ground ice in the McMurdo Dry Valley Regions has accelerated consistently between 2001 and 2012, rising to about ten times the historical average. The researchers say that rising temperatures do not account for this increased melting but to an increase in sunlight caused by changes in weather patterns.

"We are looking at a big effect," said Prof Peter Wadhams from the University of Cambridge, "a possibly catastrophic effect on global climate that's a consequence of this extremely fast sea ice retreat that's been happening in recent years."

Some scientists have cautioned that not enough is known about the likelihood of such a rapid release of methane. Even though it has been detected for a number of years, it has as yet not been found in the atmosphere in large amounts.

Prof Wadhams says the evidence is growing: "We are seeing increasing methane in the atmosphere. When you look at satellite imagery, for instance the Metop satellite, that's gone up significantly in the last three years and the place where the increase is happening most is over the Arctic," he said.

The authors say that the impacts of the extra methane would be felt most in developing countries which are more vulnerable to rising waters, flooding and the agricultural and health impacts of rising temperatures".

lunes, 22 de julio de 2013

Sykes-Picot II

Hace ya dos años que venimos cubriendo lo que la Historia denominará “La Batalla de Siria”, aquella en la que se decidiera el fin de la hegemonía global estadounidense y el comienzo del (¿lento?) declive de TODA la civilización occidental [Nota para latinoamericanos: nosotros no somos parte de Occidente: venimos a ser algo así como la Latino Culture, o cualquier mote similar que nos pongan desde Samuel Huntington en adelante. Dale que va]. Qué quieren que les diga: después de fatigar las páginas web de centenares de medios, blogs, sitios de opinión y demás, encuentro que con recurrir solamente a dos sitios uno tiene información de primera mano sobre Medio Oriente: (1) para el día a día, el sitio iraní PressTV (; (2) para el análisis, Red Voltaire ( Con estos dos sitios uno tiene para entretenerse sin exponerse demasiado a la basura tóxica de la prensa corporativa. Por supuesto, hay decenas de sitios adicionales sumamente leíbles, cosa que los devotos lectores de Astroboy ya saben. En fin. En la foto de arriba, algunos de los sirios que no verán el mundo que se inicia. Gracias, NATO. 

Reproducimos el último artículo de  Thierry Meyssan en Red Voltaire. Confirma hipótesis previas que el mismo autor ha sostenido en ese medio, y anticipa algunas nuevas.

Título: “Se van acabando los obstáculos al nuevo Sykes-Picot”

Epígrafe: Seguramente han observado ustedes el cambio de tono de la prensa atlantista sobre el tema sirio. Los «rebeldes», que ayer eran «héroes de la libertad», se han convertido de la noche a la mañana en fanáticos terroristas que no saben hacer otra cosa que matarse entre sí. Para Thierry Meyssan no hay nada nuevo bajo el sol. Simplemente, Washington ha abandonado la idea de derrocar a Bachar al-Assad y se dirige hacia la realización de la conferencia Ginebra 2. Próxima etapa: la pérdida de influencia de Francia en la región.

Texto: El secretario de Estado John Kerry abandona a sus aliados. No habrá entregas de armas decisivas a los «rebeldes» en Siria. Ni derrocamiento de Bachar al-Assad. Las promesas de Estados Unidos sólo tenían valor para quienes creyeron en ellas.

El 13 de junio de 2013, el vocero del Consejo de Seguridad Nacional de Estados Unidos anunciaba que se había violado la línea roja: las pruebas acumuladas por franceses y británicos demostraban que la Siria de Bachar al-Assad había utilizado armas químicas contra su propio pueblo. El nuevo mando conjunto de las fuerzas terrestres de la OTAN fue activado de inmediato. La guerra era inminente.

Un mes más tarde, la enérgica determinación de Occidente se ha desvanecido. La prensa de los países de la OTAN descubre con espanto que la oposición armada en Siria se compone de fanáticos odiados por la gran mayoría de los sirios… cosa que nosotros hemos venido diciendo desde este sitio web desde hace 2 años. Mientras tanto, en el campo de batalla, el Ejército «Sirio Libre» y el Frente al-Nusra, en vez de combatir contra las tropas de Damasco, están luchando entre sí.

¿Qué es lo que ha convertido la guerra «de liberación» de Siria en este enorme caos? El hecho es que en un mes nada ha cambiado. El Ejército Árabe Sirio nunca utilizó armas químicas contra los «rebeldes». Y estos últimos no se han «radicalizado». Lo que sí está sucediendo es que el plan estadounidense que ya habíamos expuesto desde estas columnas –en noviembre de 2012– está concretándose lentamente. Descripción de la actual etapa: Abandono de la oposición armada.

Todo esto nos confirma el agotamiento del imperialismo anglosajón. La aplicación práctica de las decisiones ya tomadas en Washington se produce con extrema lentitud. Ese proceso pone de relieve la ceguera de los medios de prensa occidentales, que ignoran esas decisiones adoptadas hasta que estas acaban traduciéndose en hechos. Incapaces de analizar las realidades del mundo que tienen ante sus ojos, esos medios se obstinan en repetir y dar crédito a las consignas de la «comunicación política».

Es por ello que lo que ya escribí hace meses en este sitio web [1], y que la prensa dominante calificaba entonces de «teoría del complot», se convierte ahora en la evidencia misma para esa prensa… con 10 meses de retraso. Eric Schmitt escribe púdicamente en el New York Times que «los planes de la administración estadounidense son mucho más limitados de lo que [ella misma] declaraba en público y en privado» [2]. Mientras que David Ignatius titula crudamente en el Washington Post: «Washington da calabazas a los rebeldes sirios» [3]. Esperaban armas antitanque y recibieron morteros de 120 milímetros. Les habían prometido aviones y recibieron fusiles kalachnikov. Las armas llegan en cantidades, pero no para derrocar a Bachar al-Assad sino para que se maten entre sí hasta que no quede ni uno.

Y para que no queden dudas, el director de la CIA, John Brennan, y el vicepresidente de Estados Unidos, Joe Biden, convencieron al Congreso –a puertas cerradas– de que no era buena idea enviar armas decisivas a los grupos armados que operan en Siria. Mientras tanto, en Londres, la Cámara de los Comunes sigue el mismo camino. Y en París, los diputados Alain Marsaud y Jacques Myard tratan –por otras razones– de encaminar la Asamblea Nacional francesa en el mismo sentido de rechazo occidental a seguir respaldando a los «rebeldes».

Sin la menor vacilación, el ministro francés de Relaciones Exteriores Laurent Fabius –el mismo que en diciembre de 2012 deploraba la decisión de Estados Unidos de incluir el Frente al-Nusra en su lista de organizaciones terroristas, declarando además que los hombres de al-Nusra «hacen un buen trabajo en el terreno» (sic)– pidió ahora a la ONU que incluya a ese grupo en la lista internacional de organizaciones terroristas. Y Manuel Valls, el ministro francés del Interior, declara ante las cámaras de France 2 que los franceses que luchen en Siria junto a sus ex aliados islamistas serán arrestados y juzgados a su regreso a Francia.

Así se precisa la conferencia Ginebra 2, de la que se viene hablando desde hace un año. Los principales obstáculos venían de la Coalición Nacional, que exigía, respaldada por Qatar, la capitulación previa de Bachar al-Assad. Las objeciones venían también de los franceses y los británicos, que se negaban a aceptar a Arabia Saudita e Irán en la mesa de negociación.

En Teherán, el ayatola Khamenei ha sacado del juego al presidente Ahmadinejad y al director de su equipo, Meshaie –hombres de fe y a la vez anticlericales–, para reemplazarlos por el jeque Rohani, un religioso muy pragmático. En cuanto se instale como nuevo presidente de Irán, a fines de agosto, Rohani aceptaría participar en la negociación.

Por su parte, los anglosajones sacaron del juego a Qatar, el micro Estado productor de gas que les servía para disimular la alianza entre la OTAN y la Hermandad Musulmana. Y han dejado el manejo de los «rebeldes» en Siria únicamente en manos de Arabia Saudita, mientras se dedican a desacreditar a los «rebeldes» internacionales a través de la prensa. Con rey Abdallah o sin él, Riad tendría también que aceptar la negociación.

En lo que constituye una falsa sorpresa, y a la insistente demanda del secretario de Estado John Kerry, la Autoridad Palestina aceptó retomar las negociaciones con Israel… aunque el Estado hebreo siga adelante con su política de colonización de los territorios.

A no ser que se produzca algún acontecimiento inesperado en Egipto o en Túnez, no deberían subsistir, dentro de 2 o 3 meses, obstáculos importantes para la celebración de Ginebra 2, el «nuevo Sykes-Picot» ampliado, denominación que hace referencia a los acuerdos secretos en los que Francia y el Reino Unido se repartieron el Medio Oriente durante la Primera Guerra Mundial. En el marco de la nueva conferencia de Ginebra, Estados Unidos y Rusia se repartirán el norte de África y el Levante, en detrimento de Francia y diviendo la región en zonas cuyo control podrían garantizar subcontratando la influencia de sauditas (sunnitas) e iraníes (chiitas).

Después de haber forzado la abdicación del emir de Qatar y de abandonar a los «rebeldes» en Siria, Washington se apresta ahora a retirar su apoyo regional a Francia, otro de sus fieles aliados, que habrá pasado por lo tanto 2 años ensuciándose las manos para quedarse finalmente sin la menor compensación. Esa es la cínica ley del imperialismo.


[1] «Obama II: la purga y el pacto», Red Voltaire, 27 de noviembre de 2012; «El ESL sigue brillando… como una estrella muerta», Red Voltaire, 26 de diciembre de 2012; «¿Obama y Putin van a repartirse el Medio Oriente?», Odnako (Federación Rusa), 26 de enero de 2013.
[2] “No Quick Impact in U.S. Arms Plan for Syria Rebels”, por Mark Mazzetti, Eric Schmitt y Erin Banco, The New York Times, 14 de julio de 2013.
[3] “Syrian rebels get ‘the jilt’ from Washington”, por David Ignatius, The Washington Post, 18 de julio de 2013.