:::renaissance chambara:::

Posts on quality, life, culture, the media, news & tech with a twist & a slice of Limey. I moved my blog to http://renaissancehambara.jp in December 2006, go there for the latest content.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

 
Whats next in the Middle East

The WWNK (what we now know) newsletter has an interesting take on the recent Seymour Hersh 'The Coming Wars' story in the New Yorker about Iran being next on the USA's list for radical regime makeover. What's really interesting is the proposition is that the battle is really about trying to stop the Euro replacing the Dollar as the universal currency of exhange in the oil industry and business. Apparently, it is about protecting the interests of the companies that own the NYMEX and IPE petroleum exchanges

WHY IRAN IS NEXT
In recent weeks, the news media has been overflowing with reports on the increasing tension between the U.S. and Iran, supposedly based on the Islamic country's unwillingness to drop its nuclear programs. A clear-cut case of another tyrannical nation whose government needs to be ousted in order to make the world a safer place, it seems. But WWNK has found information that's largely been flying under the radar screen of the mainstream press... and that might paint an entirely different picture.
On February 18, Scott Ritter, ex-Marine and former United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) weapons inspector who played a major role in Iraq, dropped a bombshell during a speech delivered to an audience in the Capitol Theater in Olympia, WA. The event's sponsor, United for Peace of Pierce County (UFPPC), a Washington state activist group that nonviolently opposes "the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy", had invited Ritter and independent war journalist Dahr Jamail to talk about the war in Iraq. In his speech, Ritter claimed that President George W. Bush has received and signed off on orders for an aerial attack on Iran planned for June 2005, citing an anonymous official as the source of this information who--according to Ritter--was involved in the manipulation of the election outcome in Iraq, which reduced the percentage of the vote received by the United Iraqi Alliance from 56% to 48%.
Ritter also stated that "this would soon be reported by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist in a major metropolitan magazine", an allusion to New Yorker reporter Seymour M. Hersh, believes the UFPPC. In a January 17 article in the New Yorker, Hersh had written that "Strategists at the headquarters of the U.S. Central Command, in Tampa, Florida, have been asked to revise the military's war plan, providing for a maximum ground and air invasion of Iran."
But why? Is Iran really such an imminent threat that it would justify invading that country, with a U.S. army already stretched to the max by its commitment in Iraq? Aside from the 'official' nuclear-threat argument, there may be other, economic, reasons that seem far more logical.
In October 2004, William Clark, award-winning writer and author of the soon-to-be published book Petrodollar Warfare--Oil, Iraq, and the Future of the Dollar (spring 2005), gave his opinion on the reasons for a pending U.S.-Iran crisis in an essay titled "The Real Reasons Why Iran is the Next Target: The Emerging Euro-denominated International Oil Marker". Clark blames "unspoken macroeconomic drivers" for the U.S.' determination to attack Iran, in particular the fact that the Tehran government plans to open a euro-based oil exchange in 2005 or early 2006, which--if successful--"would solidify the petroeuro as an alternative oil transaction currency, and thereby end the petrodollar's hegemonic status as the monopoly oil currency." This, says Clark, would deliver a devastating blow to U.S. corporations, which own both the London's International Petroleum Exchange (IPE) and the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), the main global oil traders.
All three current oil markers, the West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI), the Norway Brent crude, and the UAE Dubai crude are dollar-denominated. Iran, however, has required payment in euros for its European and Asian/ACU exports since spring 2003. "It would be logical to assume the proposed Iranian Bourse will usher in a fourth crude oil marker--denominated in the euro currency," predicts Clark... a probable scenario in light of the fact that "the European Union imports more oil from OPEC producers than does the U.S., and the E.U. accounts for 45% of imports into the Middle East." In June 2004, the UK Guardian noted that "Some industry experts have warned the Iranians and other OPEC producers that western exchanges are controlled by big financial and oil corporations, which have a vested interest in market volatility."
BP, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, proud owners of the IPE since 2001, refused to comment. In light of the fact that Iran, holder of the second biggest oil reserves worldwide after Saudi Arabia, exports 2.7 million barrels of crude/day and produces 13 million tonnes of petrochemicals/year, the Guardian foresaw bright prospects for the new oil exchange. That is not the only reason, though: Other recent events indicate that Tehran's IPE and NYMEX competitor might be just what a large part of the world has been waiting for.
Not only has the euro substantially risen against the dollar since late 2002--in May 2004, the countries using the euro as their currency increased from 12 to 22. Within the last two years, notes Clark, Russia as well as China raised their central bank holdings of the euro, "which appears to be a coordinated move to facilitate the anticipated ascendance of the euro as a second World Reserve currency."
According to a July 2004 article on Rigzone.com, an insider website for the oil and gas industry, Chris Cook, a former IPE executive turned independent consultant, commented that recently the Saudis, too, have declared their interest in the project. Since 9/11, says Rigzone, "Saudi Arabian investors are opting to invest in Iran rather than traditional western markets as the kingdom's relations with the U.S. have weakened." A lot of good reasons for the U.S. government to set their eyes on regime change in Iran, says William Clark. And it wouldn't be the first time, he says. His award-winning 2003 essay "The Real Reasons for the Upcoming War with Iraq" suggests that Saddam Hussein signed his own death warrant in 2000, when he announced that Iraq would no longer accept US dollars for oil being sold under the UN oil-for-food program, but that the country's official oil export transaction currency would be switched to the euro.

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