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Geopolitics

  • MALI: As Predicted, French Buried in Mali Long Term

    Bottom Line: The Islamic insurgents (from three different groups) have demonstrated that they are capable of holding back French and Malian forces in Mali’s north. When the French gain ground, it’s only temporary, and the Islamists fight back with full force and terrorist tactics. Analysis: The past two weeks have seen a suicide car bombing kill six Malian government allies in the city of Kidal and an attack on Gao (the northern capital). The target in Kidal was a checkpoint manned by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), a secular Tuareg group that is at odds with…

  • Be Careful: Russia is Back to Stay in the Middle East

    Russia is back.  President Vladimir Putin wants the world to acknowledge that Russia remains a global power.  He is making his stand in Syria.The Soviet Union acquired the Tardus Naval Port in Syria in 1971 without any real purpose for it.  With their ships welcomed in Algeria, Cuba or Vietnam, Tardus was too insignificant to be developed.  After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia lacked the funds to spend on the base and no reason to invest in it.The Russian return to the Middle East brought them first to where the Soviet Union had had its closest ties.  Libya…

  • TURKEY-ISRAEL: Gas Pipeline Rumors Are Geopolitically Tectonic

    Bottom Line: Israel and Turkey are flirting with the idea of building a gas pipeline from Israel’s Leviathan Basin directly to Turkey to supply European markets. For gas-starved Turkey, this is a geopolitical quagmire that involves Israel, Iran, Syria, Qatar, and Cyprus. Turkey is keeping silent on the deal, but our intelligence sources say it is seriously being considered, despite media reports to the contrary.  Analysis: In early February, Israel proposed the construction of a pipeline under the Mediterranean Sea to southern Turkey to market its gas to Western Europe. Turkish officials have conceded that the Israeli proposal has been…

  • IRAN-IRAQ: Pipeline to Syria Ups Ante in Proxy War with Qatar

    Bottom Line: Iraq’s agreement to allow Iran to build a pipeline through its territory and on to Syria is in direct competition with Qatar’s similar designs for a Syria pipeline that would connect to Turkey. This pipeline is another proxy in the Syrian conflict theater and Iran’s response to its loss of ground here. It is also a sign of Iran’s growing foothold in Iraq. Qatar will respond in kind. Analysis: This week the Iraqi Cabinet green lighted Iran’s $10 billion pipeline project, which will supply gas from the South Pars field (which is the largest in the world, and…

  • INVESTOR WARNING: Bolivia Nationalizes Airport Management Company

    Bottom line: Evo Morales’ expropriation of Servicios de Aeropuertos Bolivianos SA (SABSA)--a subsidiary of the Spanish businesses Abertis and Aena--is another warning for foreign investors in Bolivia. SABSA managed the country’s three largest airports: El Alto in La Paz, Viru-Viru in Santa Cruz, and Wilsterman in Cochabamba. Morales said the Spanish companies had committed to a $26 million investment but had only invested $5.6 million. Analysis: This was not his first, and will not be Evo Morales’ last nationalization. In early January, the Bolivian army seized the property of four business units belonging to Spain’s largest utility, Iberdrola SA (BE.MC),…

  • North Korea: Preparing for War

    The latest in the North Korea drama is the release of a video portraying US President Barack Obama and American troops going up in flames. But it’s not just cheap and cheesy rhetoric by a new leader who wants to be taken seriously: North Korea is preparing for a war because the US has been preparing for an offensive. Earlier this month, we were regaled with a similar video, this time portraying a US city being attacked by North Korean missiles. Before that, in December, North Korea launched a satellite, and its official news agency declared a “Nationwide preparation for…

  • East Africa Unites to Overcome Power Shortages

    Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda are burying their nationalism to cooperate on upgrading their energy infrastructure.Tanzania has natural gas and coal, Kenya is a potential dynamo of geothermal power and has massive coal reserves, while Rwanda has methane gas, Burundi – peat, and while the nations have massive, and largely untapped hydro, wind and renewable energy resources.The cost of the ambitious plan?A mere $64 billion.The East African Community nations region intends to spend $64 billion on joint power projects to generate eight times more power to end crippling energy shortages that have slowed regional economic growth, with the new spending…

  • Rhetoric Increases as Falkland Referendum Looms

    Next month will determine the eventual fate of the Falkland Islands—and the 1.4 billion barrels of oil so far discovered there—when a referendum on self-determination is held. In the run-up to that referendum, Argentina has stepped up the rhetoric, most recently with the Argentine Foreign Minister claiming that within 20 years, the Falkland Islands will be entirely under Argentina’s control. UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has responded by calling this a counterproductive “fantasy”. Hague says the government of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has refused diplomatic dialogue and chosen instead a path of “bullying”. “We shall never negotiate about…

  • Could Iraq Blow its Oil Opportunity?

    Militants in Iraq targeted a 16-inch fuel oil pipeline from the country's largest refinery last weekend. The attack forced the country to ship fuel oil by road through the northern Ninawa province. The province gets all of its fuel oil from the damaged pipeline, which the country's Oil Ministry said could take several days to fix. The bombing coincided with a spate of bombings in and around Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad, for which al-Qaida claimed responsibility. OPEC, in its latest market report, said oil production in Iraq has declined. With violence on the rise, it may be only a matter…

  • DPRK Test Nuclear Weapon Destined for Iran

    All intelligence indicators received and processed by GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs show that the nuclear weapon tested by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK: North Korea) on February 12, 2013, was paid for, and intended for, the Islamic Republic of Iran. It was, in essence, a test of an Iranian nuclear weapon, and involved scientific as well as financial involvement by the Iranian Government. Moreover, the weapon was not — as some media reporting has averred — a “step toward” a North Korean or Iranian nuclear weapons capability: it was in fact a demonstration of a common DPRK and…