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Geopolitics

  • New Breach in the Sanction Wall?

    The announcement earlier this week of an agreement between Iran and Pakistan to build a pipeline between the two countries has ruffled some feathers in Washington where the Obama administration, who has been trying to increase pressure on Iran and its nuclear program, see this move as going counter to its policies. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Pakistani counterpart, Asif Ali Zardari shook hands on Monday, closing the deal seen as controversial in the United States. Indeed, officials in Washington see this gas pipeline project as a move that will further perturb an already rocky relationship with Islamabad. Iran meanwhile sees…

  • IRAN-PAKISTAN-CHINA: New Powers Emerge in Strait of Hormuz

    Bottom Line: Last week Pakistan announced that construction on the Pakistani portion of the Iran-Pakistan pipeline will begin on 11 March. This week Iran announced it would build a refinery in Gwadar, in Pakistan's Baloch province. This will spur China's energy plans in Pakistan and sets up Gwadar to become a major oil city near the Strait of Hormuz and out of Washington's hands.  Analysis: The Iranian-funded refinery—announced by Iran but not yet signed into force by the two parties—will have a 400,000 barrel per day capacity and comes on the heels of an announcement that construction on a massive…

  • BULGARIA-RUSSIA: Bulgarian Govt Collapse Prompts Lash-Out at Russia

    Bottom Line: Bulgaria’s scrapping of a Russian pipeline deal to carry Russian and Caspian oil to Greece is a response to the government’s collapse in February over energy prices that demonstrate how energy giant Russia can bring down a government. Analysis: Just days after the Bulgaria government collapsed over bloody protests triggered by rising energy prices, the outgoing Bulgarian parliament voted to scrap a pipeline deal to carry Russian oil to Greece. The pipeline deal dates back to 2007 and would have seen 280 kilometers of pipeline carry Russian and Caspian oil from the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Burgas…

  • North Korean "Insanity" Part of Geopolitical Game

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may be colorful, but he isn’t crazy. There is logic behind the intensified war rhetoric, and while it may be convenient for the American public to believe that they are about to be attacked unprovoked by the unhinged dictator of an eerily isolated country, the truth of the matter is that the US and its allies have been doing some offensive posturing that has Pyongyang very much on edge.   North Korea on Tuesday threatened to attack the US and South Korea with “lighter and smaller nukes”. This threat has prompted South Korea to threaten to…

  • The True Legacy of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez

    Venezuela’s President, Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, succumbed to cancer on 5 March. Vice President Nicolás Maduro announced on state television that Chávez died in Caracas at 4:25 p.m. local time, telling journalists that Chávez died "after battling a tough illness for nearly two years.”His deification and demonization has already begun, and one can expect an ungodly scuffle behind the scenes in the coming weeks over the country’s energy reserves, the largest in the Western hemisphere.That Venezuela is richly endowed with petroleum assets is verified by no less an authority than the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which in 2011 stated…

  • Pakistan Thumbs Nose at U.S. on Energy

    Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari may head to Iran next week for the formal launch of the construction of a natural gas pipeline that's been in the works for roughly 20 years. Once dubbed the Peace Pipeline, the project would bring natural gas from the Shah Deniz gas field in the Persian Gulf to Pakistan. Washington objects to the pipeline in favor of a rival project from Turkmenistan. Asked about the opposition, the Pakistan president said nobody can interfere with the project's development. With elections coming later this year to Pakistan, however, the project may be as much about energy…

  • Reshaping the Syrian Battlefield

    As the war in Syria moves into a third year, there are serious concerns that the violence will spread throughout the Middle East.  No one seems to have the answer how to bring the war to an end, but now the Saudis are going to try.When the appeals for protection from the brutality of the Al-Assad regime came from the tribes in Syria, their kinsmen in the Gulf States could not ignore them.  The blood ties are broad and deep; and the appeals came at the opportune moment for the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Qatar.King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia…

  • Turkey’s Dreams of Being Energy Hub Strengthened by PKK Negotiations?

    While the western media remains largely fixated on the existential Iran nuclear threat and the gory slow-motion Syrian civil war, other momentous events are occurring in the world’s most volatile region, with potentially enormous consequences for the west’s addiction to Middle Eastern oil. One of the most brutal Middle East insurgencies, largely overlooked by the Western media, involved Turkey and the Marxist Kurdish separatist Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan (Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK).The Turkish government, led by Islamist Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is apparently considering negotiations with jailed PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan. Ankara’s outreach initiative has enormous energy implications, as…

  • RUSSIA-ISRAEL: New Oil & Gas Geopolitics in the Mediterranean

    Bottom Line: Russia’s announcement this week that a Gazprom subsidiary had signed a deal for Israel’s offshore Tamar gas field will exponentially strengthen Gazprom’s prowess in the massive Asian LNG market. (Israel has yet to approve the deal, but it will—it’s needs the money for infrastructure and it needs the deal for a new geopolitical landscape). Analysis: What Russia has right now is a single LNG plant in its Far East (Sakhalin-2), supplying LNG to South Korea and India (though it plans to build another plant in Vladivostok). With the Israel deal, it will gain direct export access to Japan,…

  • CAMEROON: Mali-Inspired Kidnapping Wave Begins

    Bottom Line: The kidnapping of seven French nationals in Cameroon, near the border with Nigeria, is only the start of what will be a wave of kidnappings across the region—and the catalyst is the French intervention in Mali. Analysis: On 19 February, seven French citizens—including four children aged 5,8,10 and 12—were kidnapped outside the Waza National Park in northern Cameroon by Nigerian-based Boko Haram Islamist radicals who are offering up their release in exchange for the release of militants being held in Nigeria and Cameroon. On a video released by the kidnappers, alleged Boko Haram representatives also note that their…