Since July 2014, oil prices have been falling, while OPEC members have decided to maintain their current levels of production (OPEC, 166th meeting concludes). It appears that the Saudi Kingdom plays an essential part in this operation. Numerous articles and commentaries are focused on the economic and financial consequences of this situation, and try to anticipate how national and global economies are going to react. The problem with this kind of questions is that they miss the fact that oil is not only a commodity and the support of gigantic financial activities (William Engdahl, A Century of war, Anglo-american oil politics and the new world order, 2004). Before all, oil is an extremely powerful tool of political power (Michael Levi, “Why […]
A major world power shift is happening in the Arctic. It is due to new massive oil and gas discoveries, combined with the effects of climate change. In effect, on 28 September 2014, Igor Sechin, CEO of Rosneft, the Russian mammoth oil company, announced the discovery of a giant oil field in the Kara Sea, north of Siberia (Zero Hedge, “Russia discovers massive Arctic oil field which maybe larger than the Gulf of Mexico“, 28 September, 2014). According to the first commentaries, this sub-sea structure called Universitetskaya, potentially, could contain reserves of oil and gas equal or superior to the Gulf of Mexico. As Igor Sechin declared, quoted by Bloomberg (Arkhipov, Chierman and Chilcote, “Russia says Arctic well drilled with Exxon Mobil […]
Editorial – Forgetting food security? While the tense stand-off between the U.S., the E.U. and European member states on the one hand and Russia on the other does not abate and spreads to space, while most focus on the fossil fuel component of the Ukrainian global crisis, one crucial element of this energy that is vital for human societies, food, tends to be forgotten (for food as energy, see e.g. Thomas Homer Dixon, The Upside of Down, 2008). It is, however, usefully re-called to out attention by Chris Martenson’s article “Rising Resource Costs Escalate Odds of Global Unrest” (via Peak Prosperity on Zerohedge). True enough, if you head to the FAO monitoring of the global food situation, so far things are looking all right. Furthermore, according […]
Editorial – Risks on the US Dollar Supremacy? Among the flurry of articles part of the violent “battle for hearts and minds” regarding Ukraine and opposing directly Russia on the one hand, the U.S and Europe on the other, continues emerging, quite loudly this week, an interrogation regarding the international order, this time in its monetary guise. Put bluntly, the question is as follows: “Are we seeing the beginning of the end of the US dollar based international monetary order?” The question is related to oil because of the importance of petrodollars. We may thus wonder if a potential U.S. strategy, assuming it could work (read Steve LeVine article “How the US might persuade the Saudis to co-conspire in unleashing an oil […]
The first sentence of the 2006 US Quadrennial Defence Review is “The United States is a nation engaged in what will be a long war”. Any civilian, military or factious leader in Afghanistan, could have written almost exactly the same after thirty-five years of war. And this war still goes on, but it now faces a strange strategic, ecological and economic transition, that could be dominated by a new “Afghan resource and climate curse”. Failed state-building, climate and war From 1969 to 1972, Afghanistan went through a terrible drought and a harsh winter. A terrible famine followed, which ravaged the populations of central Afghanistan. The titanic scale of incompetence, mismanagement and corruption of the Kabul government aggravated it, and maybe […]
On 15th September 2013, saboteurs blew up the pipeline linking Yemeni oil fields in the North to the Hodeidah export terminal, on the Red Sea coast. It was the third time in two months. In the meantime, the Yemeni political life was also marked by a deluge of US drone strikes against militants of “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” (AQAP). On 18th October, a militia of armed and well-organised Islamist militants attacked a Yemeni military base in the Southeast, preceded by a car bomb suicide attack, which killed five soldiers. The two following weeks saw endless attacks and manifestations, against the government as well as sectarian violence, leaving dozens dead. In the meantime, on the other side of the Gulf of […]
Horizon Scanning for National Security No100 – Redrawing the global strategic and geopolitical map: From the Syrian civil war and its impact on the region and beyond, with its many uncertainties, moving alliances and dilemmas, to the China-Japan unrelenting tension over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, through the rush for the Arctic, without forgetting the European quagmire and its multi-faceted apparently slow-moving polarization, this is actually the global political and strategic map that is being redrawn. How it will look like is still shrouded in the fog of war … or rather of wars, crises, and battles, present and, unfortunately, to come.
Our own worst enemies – One major lesson that can be learned for the Boston tragedy is that efforts at improving systems and alertness can never stop in times of heightened tension and threats multiplication, at least not as long as problems have not been properly analyzed, causes courageously tackled, and real solutions imagined and […]
Horizon Scanning for National Security No90: Some Light within Darkness – For a change, let us focus on the positive (within the multiple remaining and rising challenges): climate change and environmental factors emerge this week as being increasingly integrated within our understanding of the complex dynamics at work in conflicts and more broadly threats or dangers to national security. Is the painting depicted scarier? Certainly, but understanding is also a crucial step towards solving properly problems… hopefully.
Horizon Scanning for National Security – No82 – On relativity: If, for example, we believe that Greece will be in the G20 in 7 years or that we are at the end of the economic crisis, notably in Europe, that “new oil” developments and use of coal are very positive, then, Australia’s heat index or European unemployment figures or Basel’s new liquidity rule might be (only “might” of course) weak signals that something is amiss… if we don’t believe the initial statements then those indications are strong signals of escalation, among so many others.