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Showing posts from April, 2019

Saudi gas ambitions likely to have geopolitical impact

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By James M. Dorsey
A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud,Itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker, Pocket Casts and Tumblr
A Saudi push to become a major natural gas player is as much about diversifying the kingdom’s domestic consumption and export mix as it is about taking advantage of harsh US economic sanctions against Iran designed to force a change of the Islamic republic’s policy, if not its regime.
Saudi Arabia scored an initial success with the sale of its first Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) cargo in Singapore, the trading hub for Asia and the Pacific, the world’s largest LNG market.
The sale speaks to the ambitions of Saudi Arabia’s national oil company, Aramco, that seeks to become a major gas player by partnering with producers across the globe, including in the Russian Artic, and developing its own reserves.
Aramco expects the partnerships to position it as major marketeer and trader, primarily in the spot and short-term markets.
An Aramco delegation visite…

Arab power struggles: “The King is dead, long live the King”

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By James M. Dorsey
A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud,Itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker, Pocket Casts and Tumblr
Political transition in the Middle East and North Africa operates so far on the principle of ‘The King is dead, long live the King.’
Libya’s battle for Tripoli alongside ongoing mass anti-government demonstrations that toppled autocratic leaders of Algeria and Sudan demonstrate that both popular Arab protests that in 2011 forced four presidents out of office and the counterrevolution it provoked are alive and kicking.
Protesters in Algeria and Sudan are determined to prevent a repeat of Egypt where a United Arab Emirates and Saudi-backed military officer rolled back the achievements of their revolt to install a brutal dictatorship or of Yemen, Libya and Syria that have suffered civil wars aggravated by interference of foreign powers.
In Libya, Field Marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar, the UAE-Saudi-Egyptian-supported warlord, hopes that his assault…

Sudan puts Saudi-UAE religious and cheque book diplomacy to the test

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By James M. Dorsey
A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud,Itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker, Pocket Casts and Tumblr
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates’ chequebook diplomacy driven-soft power strategy is being put to the test in Sudan where a stand-off between protesters and the country’s ruling military council is at a decisive point.
With protesters refusing to tear down barricades in front of the military headquarters in the capital Khartoum and surrender the street, breaking off talks with the military council and demanding immediate instalment of a civilian government, the stand-off has become a battle of wills.
Like in Algeria, Sudanese protesters have learnt from the 2011 popular Arab revolts that initially securing their success in forcing a long-standing leader to step down depends on their ability to sustain mobilization and street pressure.
Both Sudan and Algeria have, in the wake of the toppling of presidents Omar al-Bashir and Abdulaziz Bou…

Destabilising Iran

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Destabilising Iran
11 Apr 2019 By James M. Dorsey James M. Dorsey argues that the recent designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Council as a “foreign terrorist organisation” by the United States – part of a pressure campaign against Tehran – is likely to be ineffective. Applying international regulations will have more success in getting the Islamic Republic to change course, he says.
To read further click on https://mei.nus.edu.sg/think_in/destabilising-iran/

Violence complicates Pakistan PM’s tightrope walk as he visits Iran and China

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By James M. Dorsey
A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud,Itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker, Pocket Casts and Tumblr
Two attacks in as many weeks in Pakistan’s troubled province of Balochistan shatter hopes that the country has gained the upper hand in efforts to reduce political violence. The attacks also raise questions about Pakistan’s ability to walk a geopolitical tightrope.
Coming days before Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan embarked on a two-day visit to Iran, the attacks highlight the fallout of the debilitating rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran and Pakistan’s mixed success in insulating China’s massive US$45 billion plus Belt and Road-related investment from the dispute as well as Baloch nationalist aspirations.
An April 12 bombing targeted a predominantly Hazara market, not because of the group’s ethnicity but because they were Shiites who have been under siege for years as a result of their religious beliefs. Nineteen people were killed in t…

War in Libya: A rare instance of US-Russian cooperation

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By James M. Dorsey
A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud,Itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker, Pocket Casts and Tumblr
There is little that Russia and the United States agree on these days. Renegade Libyan Field Marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar may be a rare exception.
As Mr. Haftar’s mortars rained on the southern suburbs of the Libyan capital Tripoli and fighting between his Libyan National Army (LNA) and the United Nations-recognized government expanded to the south of the country, both Russia and the United States stopped a call for a ceasefire from being formally tabled in the UN Security Council.
Russia, which has joined US allies that include the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and France, in supporting Mr. Haftar because of his grip on Libya’s oil resources and assertions that Islamists dominate the Tripoli government, objected to the British draft resolution because it blamed the rebel officer for the fighting.
The United States gave no reason …

Battling for the Future: Arab Protests 2.0

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Credit: Institute of Security Studies
By James M. Dorsey
A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud,Itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker, Pocket Casts and Tumblr
Momentous developments across Arab North and East Africa suggest the long-drawn-out process of political transition in the region as well as the greater Middle East is still in its infancy.
So does popular discontent in Syria despite eight years of devastating civil war and Egypt notwithstanding a 2013 military coup that rolled back the advances of protests in 2011 that toppled Hosni Mubarak and brought one of the country’s most repressive regimes to power.
What developments across northern Africa and the Middle East demonstrate is that the drivers of the 2011 popular revolts that swept the region and forced the leaders of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen to resign not only still exist but constitute black swans that can upset the apple cart at any moment.
The developments also suggest that the regional strugg…