jueves, 29 de junio de 2017

¿Falsa alarma en Siria? (2)

Más noticias sobre Siria, epicentro de la fase militar de la guerra global en curso: el Imperio anuncia su retirada de Al Tanf, localidad del sudeste sirio cercano a las fronteras con Irak y Jordania. No hay movida con fuerzas terrestres hacia Damasco. Así lo cuenta hoy el sitio web Moon of Alabama

Título: U.S. Retreats From Al-Tanf - Gives Up On Occupying South East Syria

Texto: The U.S. is giving up its hopeless position at the Syrian-Iraq border crossing near  al-Tanf in south east Syria. The U.S. military had earlier bombed Syrian forces when they came near that position but it then found itself outmaneuvered, cut off from the north and enclosed in a useless area.

Al-Tanf is in the blue area with the two blue arrows at the bottom of the map [véase el mapa que encabeza este post]. It will soon be painted red as liberated and under Syrian government control.

A more expressive version of the map:

Source: Doloroso

To recap:

The U.S. plan was to move from al-Tanf north towards the Euphrates river and to thereby capture and control the whole south-east of Syria. But Syria and its allies made an unexpected move and prevented that plan. The invaders are now cut off from the Euphrates by a Syrian west-to-east line that ends at the Iraqi border. On the Iraqi side elements of the Popular Military Unites under the command of the Iraqi government are moving to meet the Syrian forces at the border.

The U.S. invaders are now sitting in the mid of a piece of rather useless desert around al-Tanf where their only option is to die of boredom or to move back to Jordan from where they came.

Syria Summary - The End Of The War Is Now In Sight - June 13 (http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/06/syria-summary-the-end-of-the-war-is-now-in-sight.html)

The U.S. military even moved a HIMARS missile launcher with 300 km reach from nearby Jordan to al-Tanf. That was a laughable stunt. It made no difference in capabilities from the earlier launcher position in Jordan just a few miles west. But someone the U.S. military believed that showing off such weapons in a doomed area would impress Syrian or Russian forces and change the facts of life. It didn't. It was clear that the U.S. would have to move out.

That now seems to happen. A knowledgeable source just posted:

TØM CΛT‏ @TomtheBasedCat - 3:38 PM - 29 Jun 2017 
Evidently Tanf FSA really are being flown to Shaddadi. Plan C is in effect.

There were several rumors to this regard since yesterday and the above now confirms them. Lol indeed.

About 150 or so U.S. trained Arab fighters will be flown from al-Tanf to north-east Syria where they will join the (hated) Kurdish forces. They may later try to reach the ISIS besieged Deir Ezzor from the north or get pushed into some suicide mission against another ISIS position. The Syrian army will approach and liberate Deir Ezzor most likely from the south and east. It is unlikely that it will let U,S. proxy forces take part in that. The U.S. contingent will move west out of al-Tanf and back into Jordan. The Syrian and Iraqi forces will take over the Al Waleed border crossing at al-Tanf and the regular commercial traffic on the Damascus-Baghdad road will resume.

The various propagandists who argued for a big U.S. mission to occupy the whole Iraqi-Syrian border and all of east Syria have lost. The "Shia crescent" between Iran and Lebanon they claimed to prevent with such a move was never a physical road connection and certainly nothing the U.S could fight by any physical means. Their pushing for a U.S. occupation of east Syria and incitement of a larger conflict has for now failed.

¿Falsa alarma en Siria?

Parece que el Imperio se echó atrás en su amenaza de ataque a Siria ante un "inminente ataque con armas químicas" por parte del gobierno de ese país. Ya no les cree nadie, simplemente. Leemos en el sitio web Moon of Alabama:

Título: White House Encouraged After Elephants Abstain From Climbing Trees

Texto: Trump administration officials are walking back the White House announcement of its plans to fake another "chemical weapon attack" in Syria.

There are plenty of reasons why the U.S. would want to accuse the Syrian government of using chemical weapons but zero sane reasons for the Syrian government to use such. Russia and Syria have long insisted on sending chemical weapon inspectors to the airbase the Trump administration claims is at the center of its "chemical" fairy tale. The U.S. has held the inspectors back. The claims make thereby zero sense to any objective observer.

The walk back, as well as the statement itself, may not be serious at all. This White House seems unpredictable and the U.S. military, the intelligence services and the White House itself have no common view or policy. One day they claim the U.S. will leave Syria after ISIS is defeated, the next day they announce new bases and eternal support for the Syrian Kurds.

The way the White House statement came out, without knowledge of the relevant agencies and little involvement of the agency principals, was not cynical but just dumb. It sounds like the idea was dropped by Natanyahoo to his schoolboy Jared Kushner who then convinced his father in law to issue the crazy statement. Now officials are send out with the worst argument ever to claim that the White House "warning" made sense.

"The elephants did not climb up the trees. Warning them off was successful," they say. "The trees were saved!"

"It appears that they took the warning seriously," Mattis said. "They didn't do it," he told reporters flying with him to Brussels for a meeting of NATO defense ministers.

He offered no evidence other than the fact that an attack had not taken place.


"I can tell you that due to the president's actions, we did not see an incident," [U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki] Haley told the House Foreign Affairs Committee during a hearing Tuesday.[..]


"I would like to think that the president saved many innocent men, women and children," Haley continued.

Haley "would like to think" a lot of stuff - unfortunately she is not capable of such. A bit later she issued an egocentric tweet about UN peacekeeping that will surely increase U.S. political standing in the world (not):

I can even agree with Haley that UN peacekeeping has gotten way out of hand. To have UN mandated troops spreading Cholera in Haiti and raping their way through various countries does not help anyone. But the way to end this is to stop handing out mandates for such missions. To (re-)mandate undertrained/underpaid peacekeeping forces in the UN Security Council while cutting the budget for them is irresponsible. It will corrupt the troops and their behavior even more.

UN peacekeepers are often an instrument of U.S. foreign policy. By cutting them down the U.S. and Haley are limiting their own political options. The White House "warning", which had to be defused within a day, has a similar effect. People will become less inclined to believe any U.S. claims or to follow up on U.S. demands. Both statements have limited future policy options.

Will the Trump administration come to regret such moves?

miércoles, 28 de junio de 2017

Siria: el Imperio contraataca

Bueno, ya salió el Departamento de estado a hablar otra vez sobre la amenaza de uso de armas químicas por parte del "régimen" de Bachar al Assad. Otro cuento chino, sin dudas, pero a esta altura nadie le canta cuatro frescas a estos tipos. Leemos en Strategic Culture Foundation:

Título: US Threatens Syria Again: Treading on the Path of War

Texto: Here and there, there are signs that the United States is planning a large-scale military operation in Syria. The plans include combat operations against the Syrian army and its allies, such as the foreign pro-Iranian Shia militias and Hezbollah.

The White House said on June 26 it had reasons to believe the Syrian government is preparing another chemical weapons (CW) attack. The statement warned that the Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad and his military would «pay a heavy price» if such an attack takes place. No specifics on the intelligence showing a chemical attack by the Syrian regime was imminent were provided. Nothing was said about what a US response such an attack would entail.

US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Twitter: «Any further attacks done to the people of Syria will be blamed on Assad, but also on Russia and Iran who support him killing his own people». Neither the White House, nor Nikky Hailey explained in detail what prompted the warning.

The United States position has been supported by the UK government. According to UK Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, «If the Americans take similar action again, I want to be very clear - we will support it». Syria has denied the allegations that it may be preparing a chemical attack, insisting again that it has never used such arms.

The White House statement said preparations by Syria were similar to those undertaken before the April 4 chemical attack in Khan Sheikhun that killed dozens of civilians and prompted a cruise missile attack launched by US military on a Syrian airbase.

The strike was the toughest direct US action yet in the six-year-old civil war, raising the risk of confrontation with Syria, Russia and Iran. It should be noted that it has never been proven that the Syrian government was behind the CW attack. The United States has taken a series of actions over the past three months against Syrian government forces, demonstrating its willingness to carry out strikes against Damascus and its backers, including Iran.

As the Islamic State (IS) retreats, it leaves territory other players are now rushing to seize as any chunk of land could be useful as a bargaining chip in any peace settlement in Syria. As the race continues, the United States has hedged its bets on the SDF, the Kurds-dominated group operating in the north of Syria, and the area east of the Euphrates River. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on June 27 that America will continue to provide weapons to Syrian Kurdish fighters after the battle to oust Islamic State militants from Raqqa, Syria, is over. In the south, America supports the Revolutionary Commando Army (RCA) trained by US and British special operators.

On May 18 and June 6, US aircraft delivered strikes against «pro-Syrian regime fighters» in an effort to draw red lines and protect what the American military believes to be its areas of influence inside Syria, which, in its view, should not be approached. In the south, the US established and then extended the area around al-Tanf.

In response to downing of Syrian warplane, Moscow said that military aircraft of the US-led coalition in Syria will be tracked and considered air targets.

During the 2016 election race, Donald Trump called his opponent, Hillary Clinton, «trigger happy». Today, the administration increased bombing in Syria to make a United Nations commission of inquiry conclude that coalition airstrikes have caused a «staggering loss of civilian life». The US-led coalition forces have reportedly bombed the besieged city of Raqqa with white phosphorous munitions prohibited by international law from use against civilians.

Under the current administration, America’s military delivers direct strikes against Syrian government forces, despite the fact that the Syrian government has never threatened the US, and Congress has not approved attacking it. Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, sharply condemned the attacks on Syrian government forces as «unconstitutional» and a «completely unlawful use of power».

If CW are really used in Syria, the United Nations should investigate and submit the results to the Security Council. A unilateral military strike may boost the president’s popularity at home for a certain period of time but it could also get the United States mired in a long conflict with no end in sight – just exactly what President Trump promised to prevent during the election campaign.

Evidently, the time of the warning was carefully chosen. The US is invited to take part in the Astana peace talks on Syria (July 4-5). The event will be followed by the Geneva round of UN-brokered talks to begin on July 10. An alleged use of CW may eclipse all other issues to hinder the crisis management process with the Syrian government supported by Russia. A strike would certainly spoil the relations with Moscow, while the possibility of Putin-Trump meeting at the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg is vigorously debated in the media.
White House officials did not respond to requests for comment on the allegations or what form US retaliation would take. Several sources across the US State Department, Pentagon and Central Command, which oversees US military operations in Syria and Iraq, said that they did not know what had prompted the unprecedented threat to the Assad regime. 

According to The Atlantic, although US intelligence officers reportedly learned of several sites where the Assad regime could be hiding newly made chemical weapons, many are left wondering whether the response on June 26 was premature. Multiple US defense officials have since told BuzzFeed and The New York Times (NYT) that the latest warning caught them off guard.

So, the statement is not the result of effective team decision-making process. It can be surmised that some people near to the president influenced him without consulting key figures in the administration responsible for intelligence assessment and foreign policy decisions. It can be assumed that one of the goals is to hinder, spoil or prevent the first Putin-Trump meeting in Hamburg, Germany. Another reason is to push the United States to confrontation with Iran in a bid to head a powerful coalition Sunni Muslim states and, thus increase America’s influence in the region. Iran, not the Syrian government, appears to be the real target.

With the IS and other extremist groups defeated, the US-led forces may clash with Syrian government troops and their Iranian allies. The White House statement shows that there is an influential faction in the US government pushing for military action in Syria to get the country involved in a faraway war again. The peace talks and a Putin-Trump meeting are the ways to prevent the worse. 

martes, 27 de junio de 2017

Guerras del gas

Las guerras del gas por el aprovisionamiento energético a Europa se producen no sólo al sur, desde Medio Oriente, sino también por el norte (el Báltico). La nota que sigue habla del proyecto Nord Stream II, del que hablábamos ayer, y de las consecuencias de este proyecto en las relaciones entre los EEUU y la Unión Europea. Escribe Juan Chingo para La Izquierda Diario:

Título: Europa se aleja no solo de Trump, sino de EE. UU.

Subtítulos: Nueva época de las relaciones entre EEUU y Alemania. La deconstrucción de la arquitectura transatlántica y el aumento del desorden mundial.

Texto: La semana pasada, el Senado de Estados Unidos aprobó por abrumadora mayoría una ampliación de las sanciones contra Rusia, un país que los senadores consideran que contribuye a la desestabilización de Siria y Ucrania y que interfiere en procesos electorales de terceros países. Adoptando una línea dura, principalmente para hacer pagar a Moscú su supuesta interferencia a través de ataques cibernéticos en la campaña presidencial de 2016, esta extensión de las sanciones - que serán codificados en la ley y por ende más difíciles de levantar – busca limitar la capacidad de Trump para relajar, suspender o anular las sanciones existentes en busca de una relación más estrecha con Rusia. Las mismas podrían ser ampliamente aprobadas también por la Cámara de Representantes.

El gasoducto Nord Stream 2 en el centro de la disputa

A las capitales europeas les preocupa el impacto que la iniciativa pueda tener sobre las empresas que participan del gasoducto Nord Stream 2 que busca transportar gas ruso a través de las aguas del Mar Báltico hacia Alemania y otros países europeos. De esta manera, este proyecto llamado el gasoducto Molotov-Ribbentrop 2 [1] por Polonia, desvía el gas siberiano de los oleoductos existentes en tierra: el enlace de Yamal a través de Bielorrusia y Polonia; y el llamado enlace de la Hermandad a través de Ucrania al sureste de Europa. Geopolíticamente, el Nord Stream 2 crea un arreglo especial con Alemania al tiempo que socava los intereses de seguridad y económicos de Europa oriental y central, y deja a Ucrania a merced del chantaje del Kremlin. El mismo va a ser construido por Gazprom asociado con otras cinco grandes firmas que financian la mitad del proyecto de 9,5 mil millones de euros: la francesa Engie, la anglo-holandesa Shell, OMV de Austria y las alemanas Uniper y Wintershall (BASF).

En esta disputa que divide a los países europeos, un nuevo actor imprevisto acaba de entrar en escena: los Estados Unidos. Es que el texto aprobado permite no solo que se impongan “nuevas sanciones a sectores clave de la economía de Rusia”, sino que la sección 233 se refiere expresamente al desarrollo de oleoductos. Aunque no cita expresamente el controvertido Nord Stream 2, sí especifica que el presidente puede imponer sanciones a empresas que inviertan en la construcción de oleoductos para la exportación de energía. Las sanciones dirigidas a empresas que operan en el sector de la energía son, en todo caso, un instrumento opcional y depende de que la Casa Blanca opte por utilizarlo. “Si el Departamento del Tesoro usa esta provisión de una manera agresiva, podría amenazar con sancionar a cualquier compañía que invierta en Nord Stream 2”, explican desde el think tank Atlantic Council[2].

Increíblemente los senadores estadounidenses ponen como fundamento... la amenaza a la seguridad energética del Viejo Continente. Ellos juzgan que "el gobierno de Estados Unidos debe priorizar el apoyo a las exportaciones de energía de los Estados Unidos para crear empleos y fortalecer la política exterior de Estados Unidos", a la vez que también "ayudar a los aliados de Estados Unidos”[3]. El mismo diario afirma que “Con Nord Stream 2, saben que las exportaciones estadounidenses de gas de esquisto, que comenzaron modestamente en 2017, sufrirán gravemente la competencia del gas ruso. Es una forma de los Estados Unidos de "promover su propio gas", dice Isabelle Kocher, CEO de Engie. Las compañías estadounidenses tratan de exportar gas natural licuado (GNL)[4] a Europa, después de que la Administración de Barack Obama aprobara levantar las restricciones. Desde el punto de vista estratégico norteamericano el flujo de gas licuado barato en Europa rompe el monopolio de la rusa Gazprom y obliga a bajar los precios de la misma manera que el petróleo de esquisto estadounidense está rompiendo el dominio de la OPEP en los precios del crudo cambiando la relación de fuerzas y la dependencia con los dos grandes centros de producción de materias primas energéticas a nivel internacional. Tanto Lituania como Polonia abrieron terminales portuarias para recibir gas licuado. El gas de Gazpron es mucho más barato pero en términos geoestratégicos el GNL se ha vuelto lo suficientemente barato como para alterar por completo el equilibrio de poder, a pesar de la necesidad de licuarlo, transportarlo en barcos congelados y luego regasificarlo.

La brutal respuesta de Alemania y Austria

De forma colectiva y en nombre de la UE, Alemania y Austria se han unido en una brutal respuesta a la iniciativa del Senado norteamericano: “¡No podemos aceptar la amenaza de imponer sanciones ilegales extraterritoriales a compañías europeas que participan en los esfuerzos para expandir el suministro energético!”, aseguran el titular de Exteriores alemán y el canciller austríaco en un duro comunicado conjunto. Sigmar Gabriel y Christian Kern agregan en su comunicado que “La enmienda pretende proteger sus empleos en la industria estadounidense del gas y el petróleo”. “Las sanciones políticas no deben estar de ninguna manera vinculadas a los intereses económicos”, añade, para a continuación amenazar con un mayor deterioro de las relaciones trasatlánticas: “Amenazar con imponer sanciones a empresas de Alemania, Austria y otros países europeos en relación a sus negocios en EE UU si participan o financian proyectos de gas natural que impliquen a Rusia, como el Nord Stream 2, impacta de nuevo a las relaciones euroamericanas de forma negativa”. Estas declaraciones, a pesar de su habitual cautela, fueron apoyadas por la canciller alemana Ángela Merkel, cuyo vocero dijo que compartía “el mismo nivel de preocupación” expresado con “la misma vehemencia”.

Una nueva época de las relaciones entre EEUU y Alemania

Este es el último encontronazo diplomático, en medio de un clima de creciente tensión entre Washington y Berlín. La canciller alemana, Ángela Merkel, rompió recientemente su tradicional tono moderado para declarar que Europa ya no puede contar con el aliado estadounidense como hasta ahora, a raíz de que Trump decidiera abandonar el Acuerdo de París sobre cambio climático. En frase que hizo época pronunciada en un acto de campaña de su partido en Múnich, la líder democristiana había afirmado que “Los tiempos en que podíamos contar completamente con otros están terminando. Así lo he experimentado estos últimos días”. Pero este último que estamos comentando es revelador pues muestra un salto del enfrentamiento entre Europa y los EEUU. Es que a fines de mayo Merkel apuntaba esencialmente a Trump y su administración, colocándose de facto en el mismo campo que los oponentes de Trump en Washington DC, es decir, en particular el Congreso en muchos casos. Pero este golpe del sector anti-ruso del ‘establishment’ norteamericano golpea por sobre todo a sus proclamados aliados europeos. Ya no es solamente Trump a quien los alemanes denuncian, sino a Washington en su conjunto. Es un salto en la división transatlántica que toma un carácter verdaderamente estructural y de círculo vicioso, ya que a su vez refuerza la política anti europea de Trump. Desde hace meses Washington no repara en críticas a Berlín, a causa del superávit comercial alemán, que desequilibra la balanza comercial entre ambos países y de la que Trump considera una insuficiente contribución alemana a la OTAN.

Dicho de otra manera, la acción bipartidista del Senado de los Estados Unidos y la aguda respuesta del gobierno alemán ponen de manifiesto que los conflictos entre Estados Unidos y Alemania no se están intensificando simplemente como resultado del Presidente Donald Trump, sino que tienen profundas raíces objetivas como hemos dado cuenta en esta columna en varias ocasiones y desde hace años (Ver por ejemplo aquí, acá y aquí por nombrar algunos). Debemos notar que desde el choque de la reunión del G7 de la que Merkel salió asqueada del comportamiento del presidente norteamericano, el gobierno alemán ha trabajado sistemáticamente para expandir sus relaciones políticas y económicas mundiales. Después de que el primer ministro chino Li Keqiang y el primer ministro indio Narendra Modi visitaran Berlín a principios de junio, Merkel visitó Argentina y México, a la vez que el gobierno organizó una importante conferencia sobre África en Berlín los últimos días.

Por su parte, el mismo Sigmar Gabriel criticó la acción respaldada por Estados Unidos de Arabia Saudita contra Qatar, que está dirigida sobre todo a Irán. En una declaración, Gabriel defendió al emirato y advirtió contra una "Trumpificación" de las relaciones en la región. Los "últimos acuerdos gigantescos de armas entre el presidente estadounidense Trump y las monarquías del Golfo" intensificaron "el peligro de una nueva carrera armamentista". Esta era "una política completamente errónea, y ciertamente no la política de Alemania". Esta oposición de Alemania a EEUU y a Trump se ha intensificado desde el triunfo de Macron en Francia, el reflote del eje franco-alemán y la discusión de la construcción de un Ejército Europeo.

Hacia un desorden mundial

Como venimos afirmando desde la asunción de Trump, está claro que está en marcha un cambio en la política mundial con vastas implicaciones. Las relaciones e instituciones mundiales que durante décadas establecieron el marco para el desarrollo de la economía mundial capitalista y su política, están crujiendo. El intento de Trump en las cumbres del G7 y de la OTAN de asegurar mejores condiciones económicas para los Estados Unidos en relación a sus socios europeos, en especial Alemania, han sido un tiro por la culata como hemos visto. Ya ni siquiera la perspectiva de que la tensión bilateral pueda ensombrecer la cumbre del G20 del próximo mes en Hamburgo parece estar frenando a la veterana canciller alemán, la política más poderosa de Europa. Por el contrario a pesar del proteccionismo declarado de Trump, ésta quiere hacer avanzar la liberalización de los intercambios comerciales en el G20.

Algunos estrategas norteamericanos de política exterior califican estos acontecimientos como un retroceso histórico para Washington. Jacob Heilbrunn, editor de The National Interest dice que: "Cada administración americana desde 1945 ha tratado de trabajar estrechamente con Alemania y la OTAN", pero que EEUU bajo Trump están “empujando a Merkel a crear una superpotencia alemana"[5]. Y agrega: “Ahora que Francia ha elegido a Emanuel Macron presidente, Merkel está poniendo de nuevo de moda un eje franco-alemán que persiga un camino común económico y militar. Esto señalará una disminución significativa en el prestigio y la influencia estadounidense en el extranjero. Imaginemos, por ejemplo, que Merkel decide desafiar el empuje de Trump por sancionar y aislar a Irán estableciendo relaciones comerciales con Corea del Norte, incluyendo la venta de armas.

Todavía no estamos ahí. Pero el acercamiento de Trump a Europa y en otras partes se ha basado en la idea de que él puede desafiar las reglas del juego y extraer lo que quiere. El problema es que está animando a Alemania a convertirse en la superpotencia de Europa e inevitablemente perseguirá lo que considere sus propios intereses. Después de todo, es la nación que inventó el término “realpolitik”. La probabilidad es real pero como ya dijimos, y a diferencia de este estratega, para nosotros Trump solo acelera tendencias en la relación trasatlántica que vienen de la crisis de 2008 y se incrementaron durante la presidencia Obama, aunque éste a diferencia de Trump supo cubrir los intereses norteamericanos con una relación particular con Merkel, incluso por momentos contrario a los intereses geoeconómicos de Alemania como es el caso de las controvertidas sanciones a Moscú.

Pero lo que está claro es que este estratega se apura todavía demasiado: lo que estamos viendo sobre todo es la deconstrucción de la arquitectura transatlántica. Es esto que avanza al ritmo de la oposición y la inconsistencia anti-Trump en Washington DC, así como las ofensivas del trumpismo y las dificultades de Alemania para afirmar su liderazgo europeo en el marco de la potencia de la influencia norteamericana en Europa y Alemania después de más dos tercios de siglo. El vacío que crea la deconstrucción de esta influencia no puede ser llenado fácilmente más aun en el marco del desorden exacerbado que caracterizan a Washington, como consecuencia de la división de la elite y los factores de poder. Ni Alemania, ni la UE, están a la altura de poder llenar ese vacío. En este marco el desorden norteamericano solo puede aumentar el desorden mundial.


[1] El Tratado de no Agresión entre Alemania y la Unión de Repúblicas Socialistas Soviéticas, conocido coloquialmente como Pacto Ribbentrop-Mólotov, fue firmado entre la Alemania Nazi y la Unión Soviética por los ministros de relaciones exteriores de ambos países, Joachim von Ribbentrop y Viacheslav Mólotov. El pacto se firmó nueve días antes de iniciarse la Segunda Guerra Mundial e incluía un reparto reaccionario en zonas de influencia de Europa del este. La peregrina idea de Stalin de que el mismo impediría la decisión del régimen nazi de invadir la Unión Soviética se mostró totalmente ilusoria.

[2] El País 16/6/2017.

[3] Citado en “La ‘ guerre du gaz ’ sort des frontières de l’Europe », Le Monde 17/6/2017.

[4] El gas natural licuado (GNL) es gas natural que ha sido procesado para ser transportado en forma líquida. Es la mejor alternativa para monetizar reservas en sitios apartados, donde no es económico llevar el gas al mercado directamente ya sea por gasoducto o por generación de electricidad. El advenimiento del GNL transportado significa que los precios del gas reflejan el mercado global. El suministro de Australia y de Indonesia, además de las exportaciones de Qatar, ha llevado a la abundancia. En 2015, el GNL reemplazó al mineral de hierro para convertirse en el segundo producto más comercializado del mundo después del crudo. Para algunos es sólo el comienzo. La Agencia Internacional de la Energía espera que represente la mitad del suministro mundial de gas para 2040.

[5] “Is Trump Pushing Merkel to Create A German Superpower?”, The National Interest 28/5/2017.

lunes, 26 de junio de 2017


El denominado "Turk Stream" (o "Blue Stream" en el mapa de arriba) es un proyecto gasífero que enlaza a Rusia y Europa vía el Mar Negro, pasando por Turquía. El mismo reemplaza al proyecto "South Stream" que, también desde Rusia y cruzando el Mar Negro, iba a Europa vía Bulgaria y otros países del este europeo. Bulgaria se opuso con argumentos que parecen salidos de Washington, por lo que los rusos probaron otra vía. Otro proyecto, el North Stream II, abastecerá a Alemania con gas desde el Báltico (aumentando el volumen del ya existente "North Stream I") con la previsible oposición de Polonia y Estonia. Mientras tanto, Medio Oriente se incendia gracias a los intereses contrapuestos de países gasíferos del Golfo (tenemos numerosos posts al respecto). Nos seguimos preguntando qué les costaba a los europeos decidir por un proyecto en particular e impulsarlo, en lugar de dejar que se desangren millones y elegir al sobreviviente de tantas masacres. Dan asco, chicos. Leemos en Red Voltaire

Título: Instalación del Turk Stream

Texto: El presidente ruso Vladimir Putin inauguró, el 23 de junio de 2017, los trabajos de instalación del tramo del gasoducto Turk Stream en aguas profundas.

La instalación de este gasoducto se decidió en Turquía, el 1º de diciembre de 2014, durante una visita del presidente Putin, pero los trabajos se vieron interrumpidos en agosto de 2015 –oficialmente por cuestiones de tarifas, aunque en realidad fue por problemas vinculados al conflicto en Siria.

La instalación de Turk Stream permitirá aprovisionar a Turquía con gas ruso pero también facilitará el tránsito del gas ruso hacia los países de la Unión Europea, reemplazando así el proyecto South Stream, bloqueado por Bruselas.

Con un costo estimado en 6 000 millones de dólares, el proyecto Turk Stream prevé la instalación de 2 conductos, cada uno con capacidad para transportar 15 750 millones de metros cúbicos de gas al año. La instalación del primero debería terminar en 2018 y el segundo estaría listo a finales de 2019.

Como resaltó el propio presidente Putin, es muy excepcional que proyectos de esta gran envergadura se concreten tan rápidamente, lo cual sólo ha sido posible debido al interés personal del presidente turco Recep Tayyip Erdogan, quien espera librarse así del tutelaje económico que Estados Unidos ejerce sobre Turquía.


La prensa corporativa de Occidente comienza a hacer balances sobre los resultados de los últimos inventos de la NATO en Medio Oriente. Nos referimos a las bandas terroristas de ideología religiosa, tantas veces mencionadas como "combatientes", "insurgentes" o "rebeldes" por esos mismos medios. Ahora los llaman terroristas; en fin, algo es algo. La nota que sigue es de Lluís Bassets para El País:

Título: Balance del apocalipsis

Epígrafe: La destrucción de la mezquita de Mosul, donde se proclamó el califato, cierra el pavoroso ciclo del dominio territorial del ISIS. El peligro queda ahora en la comunidad yihadista virtual y en la permanente inestabilidad de Oriente Próximo

Texto: El objetivo no se ha cumplido. Siguen en pie los Estados de la región, aun fallidos y destrozados por las guerras civiles. Las fronteras, a pesar de su permeabilidad, siguen existiendo. El territorio del califato, proclamado el 29 de junio de 2014 en Mosul, se encoge a ojos vista y pronto nada quedará en Siria y en Irak bajo su control. El símbolo de su poder, el minarete de la gran mezquita Al Nuri, donde el falso califa Abu Bakr al Bagdadi se autoproclamó jefe religioso y político de todos los creyentes, ha saltado por los aires de la mano de los propios yihadistas. No se ha restablecido la unidad primigenia de la umma musulmana bajo la autoridad terrenal y espiritual del califa tal como pretendían, con no poca arrogancia, los terroristas. El propio califa ha desaparecido, probablemente liquidado por una bomba rusa y no estadounidense, como pudieron imaginar quienes creyeron la promesa de Donald Trump de vencer al Estado Islámico con un chasquido de sus dedos.

El califa o máxima autoridad política y religiosa del Estado Islámico de Siria e Irak, ISIS, en sus siglas occidentales, o Daesh, en las árabes, subió al púlpito de la gran mezquita hace ahora tres años para reivindicar su autoridad en una prédica que conminaba a todos los musulmanes a obedecerle y a practicar la yihad. Por primera vez, el terrorismo internacional contaba con un extenso territorio, recursos económicos, una estructura para controlar y administrar una población, con su aparato judicial, militar e incluso informativo, en forma de publicaciones, activismo en las redes sociales y vídeos que difundían sus melopeas teológicas y sus atrocidades. El efecto sobre la opinión pública internacional fue devastador y llegó a suscitar el temor a una coordinación entre territorios dominados por los terroristas desde Nigeria hasta Filipinas.

Al temor suscitado por sus atentados, y por los vídeos de sus asesinatos en masa, se añadió la idea espantosa de que un Estado terrorista pudiera consolidarse sobre las antiguas fronteras coloniales. Aunque falta completar la toma de Mosul y desalojar a los terroristas de Raqqa —su capital siria—, el proyecto territorial del ISIS puede darse ya por fracasado. Pero sus tres años de vida arrojan un balance desolador e inquietante, lleno de interrogantes sobre la persistencia de sus mensajes y el futuro de sus combatientes y seguidores.

La vida del califato territorial coincide con el periodo de mayor subversión del entero orden regional desde la descolonización. Desde junio de 2014, Arabia Saudí ha entrado en guerra en Yemen, la cuarta con las de Irak, Libia y Siria que se declara en la región. Turquía ha sufrido un golpe de Estado fallido que ha conducido a una involución hacia un régimen presidencialista e iliberal. Rusia ha regresado militarmente después de una larga ausencia y ha intervenido en la guerra siria a favor del régimen de Bachar el Asad. La tambaleante dictadura alauita ha superado el bache de las revueltas árabes y consolida ahora su control sobre buena parte del territorio. Irán ha cerrado un pacto nuclear con Estados Unidos que ha significado su regreso a la comunidad internacional. La secta de los Hermanos Musulmanes, todopoderosa después de las revueltas árabes, se halla en desbandada después de su expulsión del poder en Egipto. Y Qatar ha sido sometido a un bloqueo económico y diplomático por sus vecinos, a instancias de la monarquía saudí.

Si la guerra siria había desplazado desde 2011, cuando empezó, a centenares de miles de personas dentro de Siria y en dirección a los países vecinos, Líbano, Jordania y Turquía principalmente; la bandera del califato ha desatado la mayor estampida humana desde la II Guerra Mundial. Más de seis millones de civiles han huido de sus casas, la mitad en dirección al extranjero y una parte muy importante hacia Europa. Los grupos religiosos minoritarios, como los cristianos y los yaziditas, han sido diezmados y perseguidos hasta el genocidio. Esos tres años terroríficos se corresponden con la crisis de los refugiados, que ha dividido a los socios de la UE, ha arruinado sus políticas de asilo y ha puesto a prueba, con resultados negativos, la capacidad de controlar sus fronteras. Ni el Brexit, ni la amenaza de la ultraderecha lepenista en Francia ni siquiera el fenómeno de Trump pueden entenderse sin la crisis siria. Los temores a la infiltración terrorista entre los refugiados ha sido la excusa para que los populismos de extrema derecha propugnaran el cierre de fronteras.

El balance exacto tardará en establecerse. Las pérdidas de sus combatientes, especialistas en acciones suicidas, son muy elevadas. Algunas evaluaciones cifran en unos 45.000 el número de sus reclutas muertos, una tercera parte de los cuales son de origen occidental. También son muy elevadas las víctimas civiles, sin que sea posible distinguir entre los muertos provocados por el califato terrorista y las víctimas de los otros bandos o de los bombardeos. Naciones Unidas cifra en 400.000 los muertos sirios por efecto de la guerra. Muchos observadores no tienen ninguna duda respecto a la superioridad de la actividad mortífera del régimen, superando largamente al Estado Islámico, especialmente por el uso de barriles bombas y de armas químicas, además de las ejecuciones masivas.

Las pérdidas materiales son inmensas. Oriente Próximo ha perdido una parte muy importante de su patrimonio: museos y bibliotecas saqueados, la milenaria Palmira, gravemente dañada en dos ocasiones, los cascos viejos de ciudades como Homs y Mosul bombardeados y arrasados, al igual que zocos y mezquitas, madrazas y fortalezas, mientras el mercado negro del arte se ha visto enriquecido con millares de antigüedades robadas. Y lo mismo hay que decir de las infraestructuras modernas, parques de viviendas, escuelas y hospitales, cuarteles y aeródromos, como solo les ha ocurrido en raras ocasiones a países derrotados en guerras mundiales como Alemania y Japón.

En el balance debe constar también el misterio sobre los auténticos designios del ISIS, una organización cuyos orígenes y objetivos han permitido todas las teorías de la conspiración imaginables. Dada la propensión de los servicios secretos que actúan en la región a utilizar el terrorismo, la provocación y la infiltración, nada se puede descartar respecto a las ayudas y estímulos que haya recibido el Daesh, sobre todo por parte de los Estados suníes y sus aliados. En una guerra triangular como la de Siria siempre hay un enemigo principal que concentra todos los esfuerzos e incluso puede provocar alianzas explícitas o implícitas con el enemigo secundario. El ISIS ha conseguido instalarse y sobrevivir gracias a las debilidades y errores occidentales y a la división de quienes dicen combatirlo, más preocupados por combatirse entre sí que por eliminarlo.

Después de la etapa territorial, aparentemente a punto de concluir, el peligro queda ahora en la comunidad yihadista virtual, que revivirá el mito del apocalipsis cada vez que sea necesario. Y también en la permanente inestabilidad de Oriente Próximo, donde no se ha resuelto en estos tres años ninguno de los problemas que están en el origen de las guerras y de la oleada de violencia desen­frenada que está destruyendo sus sociedades.

domingo, 25 de junio de 2017

Realineamientos en Medio Oriente

Continúan apareciendo reflexiones y análisis sobre el reacomodamiento de fuerzas y alianzas en Medio Oriente luego del bloqueo a Qatar por parte de Arabia Saudita y algunas monarquías aliadas. La nota que sigue es de Andrei Akulov para el sitio web Strategic culture Foundation

Título: Crises over Qatar Reaches New Levels: Assessing Implications

Subtítulo: Old alliances and partnerships in the Middle East are put to the test, while new ones are revealing.

Texto: Qatar has just rejected a list of 13 conditions set by Saudi Arabia and its allies, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain for lifting sanctions. The four countries want Qatar to reduce its ties with Iran and close a Turkish military base, setting a deadline on June 23 of 10 days. One of the points says Qatar would have to «align itself with other Arabs and the Gulf, militarily, politically, socially and economically, as well as in financial matters».

According to the demands, Qatar’s links with Iran would have to be confined only to trade allowed under the international sanctions regime and approved by the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC). Qatar shares with Iran a massive offshore natural gas field. Oman has better relations with Iran than all the GCC states, but the Saudi Arabia-led bloc is not demanding the same from Muscat. It makes the condition to reduce the ties with Tehran look like a ruse - «an offer to be refused» - because Doha could not comply even if it wanted to.

According to the demands it has just rejected, Qatar would be required to accept regular external audits. It would also have to agree to be monitored annually for compliance for 10 years. Bowing to the demands would signify an effective end to Qatar’s independence.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as other Arab countries, broke off relations with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting «terrorism» and leaving Doha economically and politically isolated.

Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik said on June 23 that Turkey will not close its military base in Qatar. «Re-evaluating the base agreement with Qatar is not on our agenda», he said speaking in an interview with NTV news broadcaster. Qatar also has the option of setting up a similar facility in Turkey. The Turkish parliament has recently approved a motion to deploy troops in Qatar and provide food and water supplies that have been cut off from Qatar by Saudi Arabia.

On June 22, Turkish military sent five armored vehicles and 23 military personnel to Qatar as a sign of support for the Qatari government. The same day, Turkey also sent a first ship loaded with aid for its regional ally. Until that day, it had been delivering aid only by air. 

Turkey's involvement in the spat marks demonstration of the country's desire to expand Turkey's influence as a powerful player in the region and globally. Ankara’s disputes with many NATO allies, including Germany moving its forces from Incirlik air base, prompt it to seek new partnerships and diversify its alliances to counterbalance the dependence on traditional Western allies.

Now the Saudi-led alliance against Qatar is planning to slap economic sanctions on Turkey. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has reportedly insisted on taking punitive measures.Turkey had cultivated strong relations with former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef who lost his position as an heir to the thrown a few days ago. The demand for the Turkish military to leave Qatar reflects the strained relations between Ankara and the new Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, who has rejected all invitations to visit Turkey. In the long term, it means a fundamental change of the Middle East political landscape.

In the long term, the escalation puts an end to the coalition of states that have supported Sunni Arab rebels in Syria. It happens at a moment they badly need assistance to repel the upcoming offensives to squeeze them out from the Syrian province of Idlib. The Turkey-Saudi partnership was viewed as essential to curb Iranian influence in Iraq. Now, Iran will gain.

It has been reported recently that Saudi Arabia plans to support Kurdish groups in Syria against Turkey. According to reports, it does not boil down to Syria only. The Kingdom makes overtures to the Kurds in Iran, Iraq and Turkey itself. If the overtures turn into real aid, this will signify a game-changing development to reshape the Middle East political map.

The United States also supports the Kurds, particularly in Syria. The government of Iraqi Kurdistan has recently set a date on an independence referendum to take place in September. Iraq and Turkey have vehemently opposed the move, but Washington has been silent. All of a sudden, some Kurds expressed their support for the Saudi position. «Saudi Arabia is an important power in the region and it must play its role in promoting stability in Syria. We are ready to cooperate with Saudi», said top Kurdish politician Ilham Ahmed, on a visit to Washington to discuss the ongoing Raqqa operation.

Qatar hosts the largest US airbase in the Middle East, Al-Udeid, where around 10,000 military personnel are stationed. Doha has just bought US fighter jets for $12 billion and is offering to take a 10% share of American Airlines. The last thing Washington wants is a military intervention.

The US has great interest in military assets on Turkish soil, like Incirlik airbase, for instance. Turkey and the Persian Gulf monarchies have been considered to be close America’s allies for dozens of years. Now, Washington is at a crossroads. The United States has failed to keep its allies together in a demonstration of its diminished influence in the Middle East.

Qatar has refused to succumb to the pressure. As a result, it will have to accept the Iranian offer to make available two of its ports and use Qatar Airways cargo planes to bypass the embargo. It will boost its military ties with Turkey and, probably, offer the US more guarantees on the Syrian civil war. Qatar will do its best to avoid direct confrontation while moving to new international partners.

With sanctions slapped against Qatar and Turley, the two countries will become natural allies. A new bloc will emerge in the region. The emerging security will alliance Turkey is combining Turkey’s military and economic potential of the regional power and the Qatar’s financial power. Other countries will join one or another side. The recent developments testify to the fact that the Sunni Muslim world is going through the period of deep divisions. With Iran in the same camp as Qatar and Turkey, it’s not Sunni Muslims against Shia Muslims anymore.

The support for Arab Sunni rebels in Syria will probably dwindle as pro-Turkey and pro-Saudi forces will have to choose sides. The US will face a very serious problem if Kurds in Syria and Turley are supported by the Saudi-led bloc. With no unified Saudi-led Sunni Arab bloc behind it, Washington will have less wiggle room during the talks on delineating de-escalation zones. The influence of the Russia-Turkey-Iran coalition in Syria will grow. All major actors involved in the ongoing conflict have taken sides, except Russia. It makes Moscow best suited for heading the mediation efforts to prevent the worst form happening.

sábado, 24 de junio de 2017

Diez días, trece condiciones

Ayer se conoció la lista de trece condiciones que impuso Arabia Saudita a Qatar para finalizar el bloqueo de los primeros (y otros cuatro países) sobre este último. Un disparate del principio al fin. El objetivo es someter a Qatar, eliminar sus lazos con Turquía e Irán y disciplinar al resto de las monarquías regionales. Habrá que ver quién arruga. Comenta el tema el periodista y editor Patrick Wintour para el diario británico The Guardian:

Título: Qatar given 10 days to meet 13 sweeping demands by Saudi Arabia

Subtítulo: Gulf dispute deepens as allies issue ultimatum for ending blockade that includes closing al-Jazeera and cutting back ties with Iran

Texto: Saudi Arabia and its allies have issued a threatening 13-point ultimatum to Qatar as the price for lifting a two-week trade and diplomatic embargo of the country, in a marked escalation of the Gulf’s worst diplomatic dispute in decades.

The onerous list of demands includes stipulations that Doha close the broadcaster al-Jazeera, drastically scale back cooperation with Iran, remove Turkish troops from Qatar’s soil, end contact with groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and submit to monthly external compliance checks. Qatar has been given 10 days to comply with the demands or face unspecified consequences.

Saudi Arabia and the other nations leading the blockade – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt – launched an economic and diplomatic blockade on the energy-rich country a fortnight ago, initially claiming the Qatari royal family had licensed the funding of terrorism across the Middle East for decades. Since then, the allies appear to be pushing for the isolation of Iran and the suppression of dissenting media in the region.

The list of demands, relayed to Qatar via mediators from Kuwait, represents the first time Saudi Arabia has been prepared to put the bloc’s previously amorphous grievances in writing. Their sweeping nature would, if accepted, represent an effective end to Qatar’s independent foreign policy. According to one of the points, Qatar would have to “align itself with other Arabs and the Gulf, militarily, politically, socially and economically, as well as in financial matters”.

The UAE’s foreign secretary, Anwar Gargash, insisted the anti-Qatar alliance is not seeking to impose regime change. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that Qatar will see the demands as the basis for serious negotiations.

Qatar has become reliant on Turkey and Iran for food imports since the embargo was imposed on 5 June and insists with its huge wealth it can survive the embargo for an indefinite period.

Gargash blamed Qatar for the “childish” leak of its 13 demands and called it either an “attempt to undermine serious mediation or yet another sign of callous policy.

It would be wiser that [Qatar] deal seriously with the demands and concerns of the neighbours or a divorce will take place,” he said.

Qatar faces a choice of either stability and prosperity or isolation, he said, adding: “Perhaps the solution is in parting ways.”

In a sign that the UK does not regard the demands as reasonable, foreign secretary Boris Johnson said on Friday: “Gulf unity can only be restored when all countries involved are willing to discuss terms that are measured and realistic. 

The UK calls upon the Gulf states to find a way of de-escalating the situation and lifting the current embargo and restrictions which are having an impact on the everyday lives of people in the region.”

US policy towards Qatar so far has been marked by confusion. President Donald Trump has appeared to take credit for the Saudi embargo and described Qatar as a haven for terrorism. By contrast, the State Department under Rex Tillerson has twice upbraided Saudi Arabia’s approach to Qatar and questioned its true motives in sparking the diplomatic crisis.

In recent days the State Department has been pressing Saudi to specify the actions Qatar must take to see the embargo lifted, but warned that those demands need to be “reasonable and actionable”.

On Friday a White House spokesman told the Guardian: “The United States is still accessing the list and we are in communication with all parties. As we have said, we want to see the parties resolve this dispute and restore unity among our partners in the region, while ensuring all countries are stopping funding for terrorist groups.

The State Department spokesperson also declined to take a position on the specific Saudi demands, focusing instead on the need for the involved parties to resolve the dispute themselves through dialogue.

We understand the Kuwaitis, in their mediation capacity, have delivered a list of demands to the Qataris,” a spokesperson said. “We encourage all parties to exercise restraint to allow for productive, diplomatic discussions.”

The US has a major military base in Qatar and risks seeing Qatar forced into an alliance with Iran if its enforced isolation continues, an outcome that would be a major strategic blow to Washington as well as a further threat to the security of the region.

Qatar’s UN ambassador, Sheikha Alya Ahmed bin Saif al-Thani, said the allegations that her country supports terrorism are “sabotaging our relationship with the world, with the west, tarnishing our reputation in a way by using the terrorism card”.

She said: “The blockade they have imposed is illegal. They used the terrorism card as a way of attracting attention. But the main objectives are more about criticising our media, al-Jazeera, and our openness.”

Al-Thani added: “We are small, but we have integrity.” She said on US broadcaster CBS that she believed the Saudi positioning was softening, but not that of the UAE. She hopes for a resolution but fears a prolonged chill: “They continue to escalate even though both Kuwait and the United States are playing an important role. We are confident of the US position toward the blockade.”

Al-Jazeera has condemned the call for its closure as “nothing but an attempt to end freedom of expression in the region, and suppress the right to information”.

Rachael Jolley, the editor of Index on Censorship, said: “From its treatment of blogger Raif Badawi to its tightly controlled media environment, the Saudi authorities must not be able to dictate access to information for the public in other countries. Al-Jazeera must not be used as a bargaining chip.”

But the Saudi-led alliance regards the Arabic wing of al-Jazeera, the most widely watched broadcaster in the Arab world, as a propaganda tool for Islamists that also undermines support for their governments. The list of demands also called for other Doha-supported news outlets to be shut, including the New Arab and Middle East Eye.

Other key demands mapped out by Saudi include Qatar severing all ties with terrorist groups, specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, al-Qaida and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. The ultimatum calls for the handing over of designated terrorists and other individuals by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. All contacts with the political opposition inside Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain would have to be halted with all files handed over that detail Qatar’s prior contacts with, and support for, opposition groups.

Qatar’s links with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s main adversary, would have to be confined only to trade allowed under the international sanctions regime and approved by the Gulf Co-operation Council.

Cutting ties to Iran would prove incredibly difficult – Qatar shares with Iran a massive offshore natural gas field, which supplies the small nation that will host the 2022 Fifa World Cup with much of its wealth.

Qatar insists it does not fund terrorists, and has previously said that the embargo is a punishment for following an independent foreign policy more sympathetic to the principles of the Arab spring than that of its neighbours.

Qatar would also be required to accept monthly external audits after agreeing to the demands, then once per quarter during the second year. It would also have to agree to be monitored annually for compliance for 10 years.

Turkey’s defence minister rejected suggestions that Doha should review its military base in Qatar and said demands for its closure represent interference in Ankara’s relations with the Gulf state.

Speaking on Thursday, before the 13 demands were tabled, Qatar’s foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, said his country had always abided by international laws and played a key role in the international coalition fighting Isis.

The 13 demands in full

1. Curb diplomatic ties with Iran and close its diplomatic missions there. Expel members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and cut off any joint military cooperation with Iran. Only trade and commerce with Iran that complies with US and international sanctions will be permitted.

2. Sever all ties to “terrorist organisations”, specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, al-Qaida and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Formally declare those entities as terrorist groups.

3. Shut down al-Jazeera and its affiliate stations.

4. Shut down news outlets that Qatar funds, directly and indirectly, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed and Middle East Eye.

5. Immediately terminate the Turkish military presence in Qatar and end any joint military cooperation with Turkey inside Qatar.

6. Stop all means of funding for individuals, groups or organisations that have been designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, the US and other countries.

7. Hand over “terrorist figures” and wanted individuals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to their countries of origin. Freeze their assets, and provide any desired information about their residency, movements and finances.

8. End interference in sovereign countries’ internal affairs. Stop granting citizenship to wanted nationals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Revoke Qatari citizenship for existing nationals where such citizenship violates those countries’ laws.

9. Stop all contacts with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Hand over all files detailing Qatar’s prior contacts with and support for those opposition groups.

10. Pay reparations and compensation for loss of life and other, financial losses caused by Qatar’s policies in recent years. The sum will be determined in coordination with Qatar.

11. Consent to monthly audits for the first year after agreeing to the demands, then once per quarter during the second year. For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance.

12. Align itself with the other Gulf and Arab countries militarily, politically, socially and economically, as well as on economic matters, in line with an agreement reached with Saudi Arabia in 2014.

13. Agree to all the demands within 10 days of it being submitted to Qatar, or the list becomes invalid.


Esta es la interpretación del documentalista británico David Malone, publicada ayer en su sitio web Golem XIV:

Título: Saudi Hypocrisy

Texto: Astonishing hypocrisy! Saudi and its affiliates demand end to support of terrorism while they themselves are some of its largest funders. Their list of demands, as reported in the Guardian, should be translated as:

1) Curb ties with Iran = No talking to Shia Moslems.

2) Sever all ties to terror organisations = Declare Moslem Brotherhood terrorist who we find threatening internally and only Saudi should decide which terror organisations get funded. Not you

3) Shut down al-Jazeera = We don’t allow press freedom you can’t have it either. Especially one that criticises us. Shut down what is, for all its significant faults, one of the best media outlets in the world.

4) Shut down all other media Qatar funds. = Only Saudi propaganda allowed. al-Jazeera was far too willing to report government repression during the Arab Spring. So close down all non Saudi controlled media.

5) Close down Turkish military bases in Qatar. = Qatar isn’t allowed its own diplomatic sovereignty.

6) Stop funding anyone Saudi calls a terrorist = Stop funding anyone who opposes Saudi or other undemocratic regimes in the ME. No democratic dissent allowed.

7) Handover terrorist figure = Hand over to us all dissidents we want to imprison or behead.

8) Stop interfering in other countries affairs. = Hand over people we don’t like that have taken refuge in Qatar. We do the interfering (see this list of demands) not you.

9 -12) Make yourself a vassal state of Saudi, pay us money, let us control your treasury and foreign policy and agree to all this NOW. Or else. Saudi, its minions, the US and Israel will try to paint you as part of a new axis of evil.

Oh and by the way oil rules! Not the gas you and Iran want to sell!

The Great Gas War is gathering towards a major escalation. The Northern Front in Ukraine has gone quiet. Or at least unreported. But its Southern Front from Syria to Yemen, Turkey to Iran is hotting up.


Actualización: acá va otra reflexión sobre el ultimátum a Qatar. Leemos en el sitio web Moon of Alabama

Título: The Saudi-Qatar Spat - An Offer To Be Refused

Texto: Today the Saudi ruler issued an ultimatum to Qatar that was written to be rejected. Such has happened before and one should not forget the lessons to be learned from it.

After the crown prince of the Austia-Hungary monarchy Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was shot and killed in Sarajevo the government of Austria waited three weeks to issue a 10 point ultimatum to Serbia which it held responsible for the incident. At least three of those points concerned the suppression of "propaganda against Austria-Hungary" and the Austrian Monarchy by private and state entities. It demanded a response within two days:

Sir Edward Grey, the British Foreign Secretary, commented that he had "never before seen one State address to another independent State a document of so formidable a character."
The Austrian ultimatum was an offer to be refused. But Serbia did not fall into that trap. It conceded on everything but two minor points. This was to no avail. The issues and plans Austria had were not about the assassination of [the disliked] Franz Ferdinand or the demands issued in the ultimatum. Two days later Austria-Hungary declared war against Serbia. Allies jumped to either side. World War I had started.

The now official demands by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and some minor Gulf sheikdoms against Qatar have a similar smell to them. They are also "an offer to be refused."

The demands come late, three weeks after Saudi Arabia first accused Qatar of "supporting terrorism", three weeks after it closed the border and laid siege on the country.

(Qatar is surly "supporting terrorism". So is the U.S. - the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services just rejected an asylum request because the person in question has relations with the Free Syrian Army which the C&I-Service considers to be an "undesignated terrorist organization". The CIA built and supports the FSA. According to the U.S. government the U.S. government is a state sponsor of terrorism. But the biggest terrorist sponsor of all are and have been the Saudis.)

Spats between member of the Gulf Cooperation Council are usually mediated by the U.S. government. But without any official demands issued against Qatar there was nothing to mediate about. Three day ago U.S. Department of State finally issued a rather angry statement towards Saudi Arabia:

"We are mystified that the Gulf states have not released to the public, nor to the Qataris, the details about the claims that they are making toward Qatar," explained State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert on Tuesday. 
"At this point, we are left with one simple question: Were the actions really about their concerns about Qatar's alleged support for terrorism, or were they about the long-simmering grievances between and among the GCC countries?" Nauert asked.

The real issue for Saudi Arabia is the support for the Muslim Brotherhood by Qatar. The MB provides an alternative model of Islamic government to the hereditary kingdoms of the Gulf sheiks. They are a danger to the Saudi ruling family. A second point are Qatar's relative good relations with Iran, the external enemy the Saudis (and Israeli) rulers need to keep their people in line.

The "terrorism" accusation was never the real issue. What the Saudis demand is subjugation. A summary of the thirteen points:

In effect, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain are asking Qatar to hand over control of its foreign policy to them. It will not be allowed to have diplomatic relations with Iran and its contact with Iran will be limited to trade and commerce that “complies with US and international sanctions”. Qatar will not be allowed contact with political opposition figures in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain — even though other countries (including western countries) do so routinely. In addition, Qatar is being asked to hand over all its files on those opposition groups. 
Qatar is also being asked to “end interference in sovereign countries’ internal affairs” while allowing Saudi Arabia, the UAE, etc, apparently unlimited interference in Qatar’s own affairs. Qatar, according to the list of demands, must “align itself with the other Gulf and Arab countries militarily, politically, socially and economically”.

Then there’s the closure of Qatar’s TV station, al-Jazeera. Obviously, the Saudis, Emiratis, etc, don’t like it. ... Qatar is also told to stop funding several other news organisations, including Middle East Eye and al-Arabi al-Jadeed (also available in English as The New Arab). 
Finally, Qatar is being asked to sign blank cheque covering “reparations and compensation for loss of life and other, financial losses caused by Qatar’s policies in recent years”.

The Saudi ultimatum ends on July 3, the anniversary of the Saudi sponsored military coup against the Qatar backed Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt. One demand in the ultimatum is for Qatar to end all support for the Brotherhood. The ultimatum will likely be rejected. Qatar will simply not respond until the Saudis and others lift their blockade of the country.

If the Saudis want war they should launch it right away, the Qatari ruler thinks. Doha is sure that the U.S. will not allow that. Ten-thousand U.S. troops are stationed in Qatar. It hosts a major air base and the important Central Command, which leads the war against ISIS and Syria. Qatar just bought U.S. fighter jets for $12 billion and is offering to take a 10% share of American Airlines.

Turkish troops have arrived to protect the sheikdom. One unexpected Saudi demand is that all Turkish troops leave Qatar. The Erdogan government, a Muslim Brotherhood branch, responded with a snippy "Make me do so."

Turkey’s Defense Minister Fikri Işık rejected the demand, saying any call for the base to be shut would represent interference in Ankara’s relations with Doha. He suggested instead that Turkey might bolster its presence.

There is no "or else" in the Saudi ultimatum. The Saudi ruler, the clown prince Mohammad bin Salman, is not a strategist. He likely has not thought through what he could do should Qatar says "no" to him.

The Trump administration is considering a Camp David-style summit to solve the conflict:

The president now wants to bring all the key players to Washington,” he said. “They need to disavow groups like the [Muslim] Brotherhood for the stability of the Middle East at large. It’s not just about Qatari elements funding the Brotherhood but disavowing support for extremism in general,” [a senior White House official] said.

The real issue for the Trump administration is to unite the GCC behind its plans against Iran. There is only a small chance that such can be achieved. Iran is an important commercial partner for Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE and Oman. Those countries have nothing to win from any war with it.

So far Iran is the sole winner of the GCC spat. Should the Saudi blockade of Qatar continue Iran's farmers will sell over 400,000 tons of food per year to Qatar. Steel and concrete are other potential exports products for Iran. Lucrative air traffic in Iranian air space has increased by 17% since the Saudis blocked Qatar Airlines flights through their airspace. Iran will sell more natural gas should Qatar's gas exports be damaged.

As longer this goes on as better for Iran and its allies. The Saudis and Emiratis surely did not think of this when they launched their belligerent plans. The had hoped that Qatar would fold within a day or two. One or two years is now the more likely time frame.