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Stratfor: Turkey, the Kurds and Iraq: The Prize and Peril of Kirkuk

Originally published: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2014 – 03:00

By Reva Bhalla
Stratfor Global Intelligence

In June 1919, aboard an Allied warship en route to Paris, sat Damat Ferid Pasha, the Grand Vizier of a crumbling Ottoman Empire. The elderly statesman, donning an iconic red fez and boasting an impeccably groomed mustache, held in his hands a memorandum that he was to present to the Allied powers at the Quai d’Orsay. The negotiations on postwar reparations started five months earlier, but the Ottoman delegation was prepared to make the most of its tardy invitation to the talks. As he journeyed across the Mediterranean that summer toward the French shore, Damat Ferid mentally rehearsed the list of demands he would make to the Allied powers during his last-ditch effort to hold the empire together.

He began with a message, not of reproach, but of inculpability: “Gentlemen, I should not be bold enough to come before this High Assembly if I thought that the Ottoman people had incurred any responsibility in the war that has ravaged Europe and Asia with fire and sword.” His speech was followed by an even more defiant memorandum, denouncing any attempt to redistribute Ottoman land to the Kurds, Greeks and Armenians, asserting: “In Asia, the Turkish lands are bounded on the south by the provinces of Mosul and Diyarbakir, as well as a part of Aleppo as far as the Mediterranean.” When Damat Ferid’s demands were presented in Paris, the Allies were in awe of the gall displayed by the Ottoman delegation. British Prime Minister David Lloyd George regarded the presentation as a “good joke,” while U.S. President Woodrow Wilson said he had never seen anything more “stupid.” They flatly rejected Damat Ferid’s apparently misguided appeal — declaring that the Turks were unfit to rule over other races, regardless of their common Muslim identity — and told him and his delegation to leave. The Western powers then proceeded, through their own bickering, to divide the post-Ottoman spoils.

Under far different circumstances today, Ankara is again boldly appealing to the West to follow its lead in shaping policy in Turkey’s volatile Muslim backyard. And again, Western powers are looking at Turkey with incredulity, waiting for Ankara to assume responsibility for the region by tackling the immediate threat of the Islamic State with whatever resources necessary, rather than pursuing a seemingly reckless strategy of toppling the Syrian government. Turkey’s behavior can be perplexing and frustrating to Western leaders, but the country’s combination of reticence in action and audacity in rhetoric can be traced back to many of the same issues that confronted Istanbul in 1919, beginning with the struggle over the territory of Mosul.

The Turkish Fight for Mosul

Under the Ottoman Empire, the Mosul vilayet stretched from Zakho in southeastern Anatolia down along the Tigris River through Dohuk, Arbil, Alqosh, Kirkuk, Tuz Khormato and Sulaimaniyah before butting up against the western slopes of the Zagros Mountains, which shape the border with Iran. This stretch of land, bridging the dry Arab steppes and the fertile mountain valleys in Iraqi Kurdistan, has been a locus of violence long before the Islamic State arrived. The area has been home to an evolving mix of Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen, Yazidis, Assyro-Chaldeans and Jews, while Turkish and Persian factions and the occasional Western power, whether operating under a flag or a corporate logo, continue to work in vain to eke out a demographic makeup that suits their interests.
At the time of the British negotiation with the Ottomans over the fate of the Mosul region, British officers touring the area wrote extensively about the ubiquity of the Turkish language, noting that “Turkish is spoken all along the high road in all localities of any importance.” This fact formed part of Turkey’s argument that the land should remain under Turkish sovereignty. Even after the 1923 signing of the Treaty of Lausanne, in which Turkey renounced its rights to Ottoman lands, the Turkish government still held out a claim to the Mosul region, fearful that the Brits would use Kurdish separatism to further weaken the Turkish state. Invoking the popular Wilsonian principle of self-determination, the Turkish government asserted to the League of Nations that most of the Kurds and Arabs inhabiting the area preferred to be part of Turkey anyway. The British countered by asserting that their interviews with locals revealed a prevailing preference to become part of the new British-ruled Kingdom of Iraq.

The Turks, in no shape to bargain with London and mired in a deep internal debate over whether Turkey should forego these lands and focus instead on the benefits of a downsized republic, lost the argument and were forced to renounce their claims to the Mosul territory in 1925. As far as the Brits and the French were concerned, the largely Kurdish territory would serve as a vital buffer space to prevent the Turks from eventually extending their reach from Asia Minor to territories in Mesopotamia, Syria and Armenia. But the fear of Turkish expansion was not the only factor informing the European strategy to keep northern Iraq out of Turkish hands.

The Oil Factor

Since the days of Herodotus and Nebuchadnezzar, there have been stories of eternal flames arising from the earth of Baba Gurgur near the town of Kirkuk. German explorer and cartographer Carsten Niebuhr wrote in the 18th century: “A place called Baba Gurgur is above all remarkable because the earth is so hot that eggs and meat can be boiled here.” The flames were in fact produced by the natural gas and naphtha seeping through cracks in the rocks, betraying the vast quantities of crude oil lying beneath the surface. London wasted little time in calling on geologists from Venezuela, Mexico, Romania and Indochina to study the land and recommend sites for drilling. On Oct. 14, 1927, the fate of Kirkuk was sealed: A gusher rising 43 meters (around 140 feet) erupted from the earth, dousing the surrounding land with some 95,000 barrels of crude oil for 10 days before the well could be capped. With oil now part of the equation, the political situation in Kirkuk became all the more flammable.

The British mostly imported Sunni Arab tribesmen to work the oil fields, gradually reducing the Kurdish majority and weakening the influence of the Turkmen minority in the area. The Arabization project was given new energy when the Arab Baath Socialist Party came to power through a military coup in 1968. Arabic names were given to businesses, neighborhoods, schools and streets, while laws were adjusted to pressure Kurds to leave Kirkuk and transfer ownership of their homes and lands to Arabs. Eviction tactics turned ghastly in 1988 under Saddam Hussein’s Anfal campaign, during which chemical weapons were employed against the Kurdish population. The Iraqi government continued with heavy-handed tactics to Arabize the territory until the collapse of the Baathist regime in 2003. Naturally, revenge was a primary goal as Kurdish factions worked quickly to repopulate the region with Kurds and drive the Arabs out.

Even as Kirkuk, its oil-rich fields and a belt of disputed territories stretching between Diyala and Nineveh provinces have remained officially under the jurisdiction of the Iraqi central government in Baghdad, the Kurdish leadership has sought to redraw the boundaries of Iraqi Kurdistan. After the Iraqi Kurdish region gained de facto autonomy with the creation of a no-fly zone in 1991 and then formally coalesced into the Kurdistan Regional Government after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Kurdish influence gradually expanded in the disputed areas. Kurdish representation increased through multi-ethnic political councils, facilitated by the security protection these communities received from the Kurdish peshmerga and by the promise of energy revenues, while Baghdad remained mired in its own problems. Formally annexing Kirkuk and parts of Nineveh and Diyala, part of the larger Kurdish strategy, would come in due time. Indeed, the expectation that legalities of the annexation process would soon be completed convinced a handful of foreign energy firms to sign contracts with the Kurdish authorities — as opposed to Baghdad — enabling the disputed territories to finally begin realizing the region’s energy potential.

Then the unexpected happened: In June, the collapse of the Iraqi army in the north under the duress of the Islamic State left the Kirkuk fields wide open, allowing the Kurdish peshmerga to finally and fully occupy them. Though the Kurds now sit nervously on the prize, Baghdad, Iran, local Arabs and Turkmen and the Islamic State are eyeing these fields with a predatory gaze. At the same time, a motley force of Iran-backed Shiite militias, Kurdish militants and Sunni tribesmen are trying to flush the Islamic State out of the region in order to return to settling the question of where to draw the line on Kurdish autonomy. The Sunnis will undoubtedly demand a stake in the oil fields that the Kurds now control as repayment for turning on the Islamic State, guaranteeing a Kurdish-Sunni confrontation that Baghdad will surely exploit.

The Turkish Dilemma

The modern Turkish government is looking at Iraq and Syria in a way similar to how Damat Ferid did almost a century ago when he sought in Paris to maintain Turkish sovereignty over the region. From Ankara’s point of view, the extension of a Turkish sphere of influence into neighboring Muslim lands is the antidote to weakening Iraqi and Syrian states. Even if Turkey no longer has direct control over these lands, it hopes to at least indirectly re-establish its will through select partners, whether a group of moderate Islamist forces in Syria or, in northern Iraq, a combination of Turkmen and Sunni factions, along with a Kurdish faction such as Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party. The United States may currently be focused on the Islamic State, but Turkey is looking years ahead at the mess that will likely remain. This is why Turkey is placing conditions on its involvement in the battle against the Islamic State: It is trying to convince the United States and its Sunni Arab coalition partners that it will inevitably be the power administering this region. Therefore, according to Ankara, all players must conform to its priorities, beginning with replacing Syria’s Iran-backed Alawite government with a Sunni administration that will look first to Ankara for guidance.

However, the Turkish vision of the region simply does not fit the current reality and is earning Ankara more rebuke than respect from its neighbors and the West. The Kurds, in particular, will continue to form the Achilles’ heel of Turkish policymaking.

In Syria, where the Islamic State is closing in on the city of Kobani on Turkey’s border, Ankara is faced with the unsavory possibility that it will be drawn into a ground fight with a well-equipped insurgent force. Moreover, Turkey would be fighting on the same side as a variety of Kurdish separatists, including members of Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which Ankara has every interest in neutralizing.

Turkey faces the same dilemma in Iraq, where it may unwittingly back Kurdish separatists in its fight against the Islamic State. Just as critical, Turkey cannot be comfortable with the idea that Kirkuk is in the hands of the Iraqi Kurds unless Ankara is assured exclusive rights over that energy and the ability to extinguish any oil-fueled ambitions of Kurdish independence. But Turkey has competition. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan is not willing to make itself beholden to Turkey, as did Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party, while financial pressures continue to climb. Instead, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan is staying close to Iran and showing a preference to work with Baghdad. Meanwhile, local Arab and Turkmen resistance to Kurdish rule is rising, a factor that Baghdad and Iran will surely exploit as they work to dilute Kurdish authority by courting local officials in Kirkuk and Nineveh with promises of energy rights and autonomy.

This is the crowded battleground that Turkey knows well. A long and elaborate game of “keep away” will be played to prevent the Kurds from consolidating control over oil-rich territory in the Kurdish-Arab borderland, while the competition between Turkey and Iran will emerge into full view. For Turkey to compete effectively in this space, it will need to come to terms with the reality that Ankara will not defy its history by resolving the Kurdish conundrum, nor will it be able to hide within its borders and avoid foreign entanglements.

 
 
Turkey, the Kurds and Iraq: The Prize and Peril of Kirkuk is republished with permission of Stratfor.
 
 

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Stratfor: The Geopolitics of Energy

By Robert D. Kaplan
Chief Geopolitical Analyst
Stratfor Global Intelligence

Geopolitics is the battle for space and power played out in a geographical setting. Just as there are military geopolitics, diplomatic geopolitics and economic geopolitics, there is also energy geopolitics. For natural resources and the trade routes that bring those resources to consumers is central to the study of geography. Every international order in early modern and modern history is based on an energy resource. Whereas the Age of Coal and Steam was the backdrop for the British Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Age of Petroleum has been the backdrop for the American Empire from the end of the 19th to the early 21st centuries. And indeed, just after other countries and America’s own elites were consigning the United States to a period of decline, news began to emerge of vast shale gas discoveries in a host of states, especially Texas. The Age of Natural Gas could make the United States the world’s leading geopolitical power well into the new century.

Mohan Malik, a professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu, has for years been studying the geopolitics of energy. He has drawn, in conceptual terms, a new world map dominated by a growing consumer market for energy in Asia and a growing market for production in the United States.

“Asia has become ‘ground zero’ for growth” as far as the consumption of energy is concerned, writes Malik. His research shows that over the next 20 years, 85 percent of the growth in energy consumption will come from the Indo-Pacific region. Already, at least a quarter of the world’s liquid hydrocarbons are consumed by China, India, Japan and South Korea. According to the World Energy Outlook, published by the International Energy Agency, China will account for 40 percent of the growing consumption until 2025, after which India will emerge as “the biggest single source of increasing demand,” in Malik’s words. The rate of energy consumption growth for India will increase to 132 percent; in China and Brazil demand will grow by 71 percent, and in Russia by 21 percent. Malik explains that the increase in demand for gas will overtake that for oil and coal combined. Part of the story here is that the Indo-Pacific region will become increasingly reliant on the Middle East for its oil: By 2030, 80 percent of China’s oil will come from the Middle East, and 90 percent in the case of India. (Japan and South Korea remain 100 percent dependent on oil imports.) China’s reliance on the Middle East will be buttressed by its concomitant and growing dependence on former Soviet Central Asia for energy.

While the Indo-Pacific region is becoming more energy dependent on the Middle East, in the other hemisphere the United States is emerging as a global energy producing giant in its own right. Malik reports that U.S. shale oil production will more than triple between 2010 and 2020. And were the United States to open up its Atlantic and Pacific coastlines to drilling, he says oil production in the United States and Canada could eventually equal the consumption in both countries. Already, within a decade, shale gas has risen from 2 percent to 37 percent of U.S. natural gas production. The United States has now overtaken Russia as the world’s biggest natural gas producer. Some estimates put the United States as overtaking Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer by the end of the current decade, though this is unlikely.

Malik observes that this would mark a return to the pre-1973 Yom Kippur War period of American energy dominance. When combined with Canadian oil sands and Brazil’s oil lying beneath salt beds, these shifts have the potential to make the Americas into the “new Middle East” of the 21st century, though we need to remember that U.S. oil production may be in decline after 2020.

At the same time, Russia is increasingly shifting its focus of energy exports to East Asia. China is on track to perhaps become Russia’s biggest export market for oil before the end of the decade, even as Russian energy firms are now developing a closer relationship with Japan in order to hedge against their growing emphasis on China.

We are thus seeing before our eyes all energy routes leading to the Indo-Pacific region. The Middle East will be exporting more and more hydrocarbons there. Russia is exporting more and more hydrocarbons to the East Asian realm of the area. And North America will soon be looking more and more to the Indo-Pacific region to export its own energy, especially natural gas.

As the Indo-Pacific waters — that is, the Greater Indian Ocean and the South China Sea — become the world’s energy interstate, maritime tensions are rising in the South China Sea and in the adjacent East China Sea. The territorial tensions over which country owns what geographical feature in those waters is not only being driven by potential energy reserves and fish stocks in the vicinity, but also by the very fact that these sea lanes and choke points are of growing geopolitical importance because of the changing world energy market.

Europe, because of its aging population, will probably not grow in relative importance in world energy markets, while the Indo-Pacific region of course will. Though northeast Asia, like Europe, is home to aging populations, that is not the case — or at least is less the case — in the Indian Ocean world.

Economic importance often leads over time to cultural and political importance. Thus, the current tension between an economically and demographically stagnant European Union and a troubled, autocratic Russia — energy rich, but less so in comparative terms going forward — may actually expose the decline of Greater Europe, while North America and the Indian Ocean world become the new pulsating centers of commerce. At the same time, however, we may see, at least in the short term, an alliance of sorts between Russia and China, undergirded by a growing energy relationship, as these two massive Eurasian states come into conflict and competition with the democratic West.

Power in Eurasia would, therefore, move to more southerly latitudes, while the United States would have its own power reinvigorated by an even closer economic relationship with Canada and Mexico (which is also energy rich). The Europe-centric world of the past millennium may finally be passing as North America and the Greater Indian Ocean take center stage.

Read more: The Geopolitics of Energy | Stratfor
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Stratfor: The Geopolitics of Shale

By Robert D. Kaplan
Chief Geopolitical Analyst
Stratfor Global Intelligence

According to the elite newspapers and journals of opinion, the future of foreign affairs mainly rests on ideas: the moral impetus for humanitarian intervention, the various theories governing exchange rates and debt rebalancing necessary to fix Europe, the rise of cosmopolitanism alongside the stubborn vibrancy of nationalism in East Asia and so on. In other words, the world of the future can be engineered and defined based on doctoral theses. And to a certain extent this may be true. As the 20th century showed us, ideologies — whether communism, fascism or humanism — matter and matter greatly.

But there is another truth: The reality of large, impersonal forces like geography and the environment that also help to determine the future of human events. Africa has historically been poor largely because of few good natural harbors and few navigable rivers from the interior to the coast. Russia is paranoid because its land mass is exposed to invasion with few natural barriers. The Persian Gulf sheikhdoms are fabulously wealthy not because of ideas but because of large energy deposits underground. You get the point. Intellectuals concentrate on what they can change, but we are helpless to change much of what happens.

Enter shale, a sedimentary rock within which natural gas can be trapped. Shale gas constitutes a new source of extractable energy for the post-industrial world. Countries that have considerable shale deposits will be better placed in the 21st century competition between states, and those without such deposits will be worse off. Ideas will matter little in this regard.

Stratfor, as it happens, has studied the issue in depth. Herein is my own analysis, influenced in part by Stratfor’s research.

So let’s look at who has shale and how that may change geopolitics. For the future will be heavily influenced by what lies underground.

The United States, it turns out, has vast deposits of shale gas: in Texas, Louisiana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and elsewhere. America, regardless of many of the political choices it makes, is poised to be an energy giant of the 21st century. In particular, the Gulf Coast, centered on Texas and Louisiana, has embarked upon a shale gas and tight oil boom. That development will make the Caribbean an economic focal point of the Western Hemisphere, encouraged further by the 2014 widening of the Panama Canal. At the same time, cooperation between Texas and adjacent Mexico will intensify, as Mexico increasingly becomes a market for shale gas, with its own exploited shale basins near its northern border.

This is, in part, troubling news for Russia. Russia is currently the energy giant of Europe, exporting natural gas westward in great quantities, providing Moscow with political leverage all over Central and particularly Eastern Europe. However, Russia’s reserves are often in parts of Siberia that are hard and expensive to exploit — though Russia’s extraction technology, once old, has been considerably modernized. And Russia for the moment may face relatively little competition in Europe. But what if in the future the United States were able to export shale gas to Europe at a competitive price?

The United States still has few capabilities to export shale gas to Europe. It would have to build new liquefaction facilities to do that; in other words, it would have to erect plants on the Gulf of Mexico that convert the gas into liquid so that it could be transported by ship across the Atlantic, where more liquefaction facilities there would reconvert it back into gas. This is doable with capital investment, expertise and favorable legislation. Countries that build such facilities will have more energy options, to export or import, whatever the case may be. So imagine a future in which the United States exports liquefied shale gas to Europe, reducing the dependence that European countries have on Russian energy. The geopolitics of Europe could shift somewhat. Natural gas might become less of a political tool for Russia and more of a purely economic one (though even such a not-so-subtle shift would require significant exports of shale gas from North America to Europe).

Less dependence on Russia would allow the vision of a truly independent, culturally vibrant Central and Eastern Europe to fully prosper — an ideal of the region’s intellectuals for centuries, even as ideas in this case would have little to do with it.

This might especially be relevant to Poland. For Poland may have significant deposits of shale gas. Were Polish shale deposits to prove the largest in Europe (a very big “if”), Poland could become more of an energy producer in its own right, turning this flat country with no natural defenses to the east and west — annihilated by both Germany and the Soviet Union in the 20th century — into a pivot state or midlevel power in the 21st. The United States, in turn, somewhat liberated from Middle East oil because of its own energy sources (including natural gas finds), could focus on building up Poland as a friendly power, even as it loses substantial interest in Saudi Arabia. To be sure, the immense deposits of oil and natural gas in the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq and Iran will keep the Middle East a major energy exporter for decades. But the shale gas revolution will complicate the world’s hydrocarbon supply and allocation, so that the Middle East may lose some of its primacy.

It turns out that Australia also has large new natural gas deposits that, with liquefaction facilities, could turn it into a principal energy exporter to East Asia, assuming Australia significantly lowers its cost of production (which may prove very hard to do). Because Australia is already starting to emerge as the most dependable military ally of the United States in the Anglosphere, the alliance of these two great energy producers of the future could further cement Western influence in Asia. The United States and Australia would divide up the world: after a fashion, of course. Indeed, if unconventional natural gas exploitation has anything to do with it, the so-called post-American world would be anything but.

The geopolitical emergence of Canada — again, the result of natural gas and oil — could amplify this trend. Canada has immense natural gas deposits in Alberta, which could possibly be transported by future pipelines to British Columbia, where, with liquefaction facilities, it could then be exported to East Asia. Meanwhile, eastern Canada could be the beneficiary of new shale gas deposits that reach across the border into the northeastern United States. Thus, new energy discoveries would bind the two North American countries closer, even as North America and Australia become more powerful on the world scene.

China also has significant deposits of shale gas in its interior provinces. Because Beijing is burdened by relatively few regulations, the regime could acquire the land and build the infrastructure necessary for its exploitation. This would ease somewhat China’s energy crunch and aid Beijing’s strategy to compensate for the decline of its coastal-oriented economic model by spurring development inland.

The countries that might conceivably suffer on account of a shale gas revolution would be landlocked, politically unstable oil producers such as Chad, Sudan and South Sudan, whose hydrocarbons could become relatively less valuable as these other energy sources come online. China, especially, might in the future lose interest in the energy deposits in such low-end, high-risk countries if shale gas became plentiful in its own interior.

In general, the coming of shale gas will magnify the importance of geography. Which countries have shale underground and which don’t will help determine power relationships. And because shale gas can be transported across oceans in liquid form, states with coastlines will have the advantage. The world will be smaller because of unconventional gas extraction technology, but that only increases the preciousness of geography, rather than decreases it.
 
The Geopolitics of Shale is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

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Europe targets Iranian oil, gold, diamonds, central bank

EU Agrees to Ban Iran Oil Imports to Target Nuclear Program

January 23, 2012, 9:32 AM EST

By Ewa Krukowska and Thomas Penny

Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) — European Union foreign ministers agreed to ban oil imports from Iran starting July 1 as part of measures to ratchet up the pressure on the Persian Gulf nation’s nuclear program, the 27-nation bloc said in a statement.

The EU will freeze assets of the Iranian central bank in Europe as well as of eight other entities and ban the trade in gold, precious metals, diamonds and petrochemical products from Iran, the EU said.

“Today’s decisions target the sources of the finance for the nuclear program, complementing already existing sanctions,” the EU said, adding that it has “banned imports of Iranian crude oil and petroleum products.”

Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, the Persian Gulf passageway for about 20 percent of globally traded oil, if the EU and the U.S. impose stricter sanctions. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait ship crude and liquefied natural gas through the strait.

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In defiance of dire straits

Britain, US and France send warships
through Strait of Hormuz

 

Britain, America and France delivered a pointed signal to Iran, sending six warships led by a 100,000 ton aircraft carrier through the highly sensitive waters of the Strait of Hormuz.

 

By Chief Foreign Correspondent, The Telegraph

6:00AM GMT 23 Jan 2012
.

This deployment defied explicit Iranian threats to close the waterway. It coincided with an escalation in the West’s confrontation with Iran over the country’s nuclear ambitions.

European Union foreign ministers are today expected to announce an embargo on Iranian oil exports, amounting to the most significant package of sanctions yet agreed. They are also likely to impose a partial freeze on assets held by the Iranian Central Bank in the EU.

Tehran has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation. Tankers carrying 17 million barrels of oil pass through this waterway every day, accounting for 35 per cent of the world’s seaborne crude shipments. At its narrowest point, located between Iran and Oman, the Strait is only 21 miles wide.

Last month, Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, commander of the Iranian navy, claimed that closing the Strait would be “easy,” adding: “As Iranians say, it will be easier than drinking a glass of water.”

But USS Abraham Lincoln, a nuclear-powered carrier capable of embarking 90 aircraft, passed through this channel and entered the Gulf without incident yesterday. HMS Argyll, a Type 23 frigate from the Royal Navy, was one of the escort vessels making up the carrier battle-group. A guided missile cruiser and two destroyers from the US Navy completed the flotilla, along with one warship from the French navy.

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The Resettlement of Khuzestan

Here’s a letter that came by way of the British Ahwazi Friendship Society.

In it, Mohammad-Ali Abtahi, former Chief Secretary of former President Khatami’s Office, details a plan by which the majority Arab population of the oil-rich province of Khuzestan can be reduced to less than a third of the current regional demographic; a planned relocation of about 1.25 million people. During the past ten years (the end of the target window for the program), few Ahwazis have agreed to be moved, but their majority status in Khuzestan has been eroded by a steady, government-sponsored influx of Azeris and Persians. Translation follows:

abtahi

Translation:

Emblem of the Islamic Republic

ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN

Office of the President

Head of the Executive Office

Number Date Attachment 5/316/20675 (hand written)

TOP SECRET


In the Name of Allah

Head of the respectful Department of planning and budget- Mr. Dr. Najafi

With greetings:

Pursuant to the policies set forth, and the legislation approved by the National Security

Council, with regards to changing the population demography of Arabs of Khuzestan and their appropriate resettlement to other parts of the country, it is necessary that the attached approved instructions be directed to all relevant subsidiary organizations for execution.

1. The Arab population of Khuzestan must be reduced to a third of the total population of

Khuzestan within 10 years, with the rest of the population to be composed of Farsi-speaking residents and migrants.

2. On the resettlement of other ethnic groups, especially the Azeri (Turks) to Khuzestan

province, in addition to the facilities approved under legislations # 16-32/971/5-7, dated

14/4/1376 (July 5, 1997) – other arrangements have been made to facilitate this (forced resettlement) which will be announced in the future.

3. It is necessary to increase the resettlement of their (Arab) educated class to other provinces, especially to Isfahan, Tehran and Tabriz.

4. Proof of the existence of this ethnic group (Arabs) should be eradicated, including the

changing of remaining (Arabic) names of cities, villages, regions and streets to Farsi names.

5. Arabic-speaking people should be used for the execution of this legislation, although the secrecy of this programme must be respected.

6. Newly approved legislation regarding the (forced) migration of (university) students, civil servants, teachers, military and security forces and farmers to other provinces, are attached.

Signature

Sayed Mohammad-Ali Abtahi

TOP SECRET 27686/62 2/5/1377 (July 24, 1998)

Carbon Copy:

1. Ministry of Information (Security)

2. Ministry of Interior

3. Ministry of Housing and Urban Development

4. Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance

.

And I thought that President Khatami was considered a ‘moderate’?


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Reinventing The Canadian Automobile

cancar2Reprinted from a December 16, 2008, letter to the Canadian (federal) and Ontario (provincial) governments.

 

Dear Ministers:

I believe that we should spend as much as is necessary to save the Canadian automotive industry.

But not a penny more.

Any restructuring package obviously needs to make financial sense, but in the end, this isn’t just about money.

  • It’s about self-sufficiency and self-reliance.
  • It’s about our ability to service the changing needs of our various domestic markets through public and private industry.
  • It’s about the viability of our economy during challenging economic times and its sustainability over the long term.
  • It’s about being able to move people and things reliably and efficiently from Point A to Point B.

In a country as large and wintry as Canada, the argument for having an automobile is profound ~ sometimes, if only because they have built-in heaters.

If Only We Had Seen This Coming
Imagine if, being able to see this far ahead five years ago, we had instituted a Canadian Automobile Reinvention Initiative in this country. Had this initiative targeted an average 10% fuel efficiency improvement within five years, taxpayers (individuals and corporations) would have been able to retain approximately $4 billion in obviated expenses over the past twelve months. And they would save at least that much in every subsequent year – if not more, due to both incremental and revolutionary advances in technology over time. But let’s return to the present: How do you expect things will look five years from now?

Technological Opportunities
We probably can’t spend our way out of the current economic crisis, but we just might be able to invent a way out of it.

Canada has long been an exporter of ingenious technologies in fields ranging from aerospace, communications and nuclear science …to zippers, insulin and foghorns. Innovation has often been a hallmark of Canadian endeavour – and I don’t see any reason why that shouldn’t apply especially well in this case.

The next significant stage in the development of hybrid [gas:electric] vehicles will be “serial hybrid” technology. (Please have your techies fill you in on this.) The gains in efficiency we witnessed with the introduction of our current crop of hybrid vehicles will be viewed as small in comparison to the next generation of these automobiles. Efficiency gains of at least 30% within 10 years have been widely (and very conservatively) projected. More confident forecasts anticipate fuel economy in the range of 200-500 miles per gallon (at least for small passenger cars) within twenty years!

One of the problems with implementing serial hybrid technology (requiring the electric motor to be the sole engine engaged to the drivetrain) has been the relative absence of high-efficiency variable torque electric motors, but this is now about to change. There have been a number of patents filed over the past few years for devices that will deliver appropriate torque and rotor speeds under the full range of typical motor vehicle operating conditions. Prototypes and production models of some engines are already available. Some of these designs will not only reduce vehicle weight but also the number of parts required to construct the drivetrain. Brake wear will also be reduced in most instances, only adding to the long list of potential benefits.

Recouping the Costs of a “Bailout”
If we’re looking for ways to ensure that we’re paid back for our assistance to the automotive industry, then we must consider increased fuel efficiency to be one of the most effective (though least visible means) of achieving that goal.

Of course, any government financing extended to Canada’s ‘Big Three’ would also require a proper repayment schedule and a reasonable interest premium.

High fuel prices are a drag on the global economy and constitute an insidious form of pseudo-taxation for individuals and corporations alike. Less fuel used, means more money available for personal discretionary spending and more capital for industrial restructuring.

It can easily be argued that the cost of doing nothing is potentially far greater than the cost of a reasonable auto industry reinvestment plan. The broader automotive sector (parts manufacturing, etc.) is particularly sensitive to effects cascading from production slowdowns or stoppages by the ‘Big Three’ – not to mention the deficit in which such companies would immediately find themselves in the case of one or more bankruptcies among the major automakers.

Last time I checked, a penny saved was still a penny earned. By that standard, we stand to make a pretty penny by increasing vehicle fuel efficiency and improving market stability and confidence. And then there’s the matter of making our automobiles more competitive in the world market (and, accordingly, more competitive against foreign products in our own market) by reducing the cost of vehicle production and lowering basic vehicle operating costs while increasing reliability through improved drivetrain simplicity.

Energy Efficiency as a Matter of National Security
The current global economic malaise is much bigger than our experience of it in Canada ~ heck, it’s big enough to subdue that vast, economic giant to our south. Its effects stretch completely around the world, leaving few–if any–places untouched. As we have witnessed in both economic and military terms in recent years, insecurity anywhere affects security everywhere. Hence, a global problem is also a Canadian problem.

When a government, like the one in Tehran, can provoke a worldwide petroleum price spike by simply threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, we are left with few options to directly combat such a ‘security tax’. But increased fuel efficiency acts as a direct hedge against this form of economic ‘attack’. Canada may be energy self-sufficient, but many of our best friends and trading partners are not. And they will become increasingly dependent upon us (and our resources) as time rolls on.

Many electric motors manufactured today use Rare Earth Elements (such as neodymium) in their Permanent Magnet motor assemblies. This constitutes an additional risk since more than 90% of worldwide REE production comes from China whose production is expected to crest in just a few years’ time — just as their own industrial consumption begins to outstrip their ability to mine more of these critical elements. There are several variable torque electric motor designs which do not use REEs and would therefore not be sensitive to shortfalls in availability, or even possible embargoes.

Perhaps it’s time for a ‘Made in Canada’ solution
If we were to make available $1 billion dollars for each of our three main domestic automakers in the form of government-guaranteed lines of credit, this would allow each of the manufacturers to continue operations while only drawing on funds as they need them.

We could also offer a grant to each company of another $1 billion if they would participate in a joint effort to improve the efficiency of Canadian automobiles through the development of a uniquely Canadian, next-generation, serial hybrid vehicle architecture.

A development corporation (funded to the tune of $1 billion ~ making our running total $7 billion) could be formed to retain any unique intellectual property generated by this co-development work, in which all participating companies would share. Stakeholders would include the ‘Big Three’ and the Government of Canada, but direct positions would also be open to qualified regional and national manufacturers, as well as to key international technology contributors. Eventual revenues from the licensing of these technologies to the world market would enrich each of the participants in direct proportion to their technical contributions to the project.

I haven’t mentioned the environment as an excellent reason for limiting our release of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, but the link is obvious. The trick is to do it without damaging our economy in the process. Or better still, to do it while improving the state of our economy. If asked, most Canadians would probably say that they consider themselves to be environmentalists or conservationists to some degree. That’s great, but it’s very difficult for me to imagine how we can be responsible stewards of G-d’s good earth unless–and until–we become proper managers of our technology and more mindful of its impact on the greater whole.

The regrettable oversight committed by our automakers, in construing a demand for vehicles that consumers would ultimately prove unwilling to buy, serves to demonstrate the high cost associated with making mistakes in today’s turbulent markets.

As I see it, our best choice now is to stabilise the Canadian auto sector through wise reinvestment that focuses on innovation and efficiency; supports Canadian autoworkers and their families; better positions all our energy- and transportation-dependent industries for the future; and puts Canada back on the technological leader board.

The auto industry clearly needs a “Manhattan Project” (or maybe a Peterborough Project) to quickly develop the sorts of cars that Canadians truly want to buy; the sorts of cars that will save them money at the pumps and offer power and performance comparable to—or exceeding—their expectations of purely gas-powered vehicles.

Build a better car and Canadians will warm up to it quickly ~ especially in winter.

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