During the night on Sunday, 26 January, five Katyusha rockets were launched on the heavily fortified U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Three of them allegedly made a direct hit with at least one striking the embassy dining hall. This event followed the massive demonstrations in Baghdad demanding the U.S. troops to leave Iraq. Indeed, the tensions in the Middle East are unlikely to dissipate any time soon… Hopefully however, they won’t lead to the “horrendous” and “devastating” world war that a bi-partisan panel commissioned by the U.S. Congress predicted might break out within four years. Continue reading
- Trump Administration put their credibility on the line by taking a hard line on Iranian oil exports, pledging to collapse them to zero.
- Iranian officials matched the rhetoric by promising to close the Straits of Hormuz entirely to oil traffic. A third of world’s traded oil production transit through that choke-point.
- Assurances of ramped-up oil production from Saudi Arabia and Opec appear as firm as a wet noodle.
U.S. taking a hard line on Iran oil exports
Over the Easter weekend we’ve seen an escalation of Trump Administration’s rhetoric toward Iran. On Monday, 22 April, State Secretary Pompeo issued an official statement pledging that after their expiry on May 2, the U.S. would not renew any of the waivers enabling Iran to export crude oil. Iran’s oil exports have already dwindled from 2.5 million barrels per day last April to around 1 million barrels, and the official U.S. policy is to bring Iranian oil exports to zero.
In taking the hard line against Iran, the Trump administration has put its credibility on the line. Secretary Pompeo followed up the official announcement on twitter, stating that, “maximum pressure” means maximum pressure. Trump backed him up promising “full sanctions…”
Today I break my rule to only post on my own articles at this blog. The following article by a person who preferred to remain anonymous struck me as such a disturbingly powerful punch in the gut, I decided to post it here amongst my scribblings. A different style, different imagination… stuff that makes the writer in me slightly jelaous… It is a first-person account written fom the viewpoint of Bill Browder, the protagonist of my book “Grand Deception” (which was twice stricken from Amazon by Bill Browder’s lawyers). Here goes:
One of the main themes used to demonize Putin in the west are the incessant insinuations that he is corrupt and that his corruption enabled him to build up massive personal wealth. But while these allegations are invariably presented with zero evidence, we do have some evidence that Putin is in fact not corrupt (at least not in the way it is being implied in western media – but this will be a topic for another discussion). I found the testimony from Sharon Tennison very interesting in this regard as well. Tennison is the founder and president of Center for Citizen Initiatives (CCI) and had worked in Russia (and the USSR) for 30 years. In the course of her activities, she has had at least one personal encounter with Putin and had over the years came to know many other American officials and businessmen who had worked with him. According to Tennison, none of those officials “would describe [Putin] as ‘brual,’ or ‘thuggish,’ or other slanderous adjectives and nouns that are repeatedly used in western media.” Continue reading
Almost from the very start of his presidency, Vladimir Putin has been relentlessly vilified in the western media. If their portrayal of Mr. Putin reflected the objective truth, we should believe that the man has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. As I noted in the first in this series of excerpts from “Grand Deception,” systematic demonization of a nation’s leader predisposes many people to consent to war or regime change as means to help a stricken nation rid itself of a rotten, tyrannical leader. If we detest Vladimir Putin, we might approve of our intelligence communities orchestrating a coup to throw him out of power, even if the blood of some Russians is spilled in the process. It should be an honorable deed done for a greater good. Indeed, those who are desperate to have a regime change in Russia should be very keen for us to detest Mr. Putin. Hence the nonstop, un-nuanced negative coverage. Here I offer a different perspective: what if Putin isn’t an arch-villain? What if he does in fact have redeeming qualities? Should we not try to get to know the man a bit better before we shrug off another regime change or war to rid the world of tyrants? Continue reading
In the past year, quite a few people have asked me why I wrote “Grand Deception,” my twice banned book about Bill Browder, the Magnitsky Act and the historical relations between Russia and the West. Several of them suggested that I write down what I had told them, since it seems relevant given the risk of military threats we are facing today. So here goes… Continue reading