“Control your own destiny or someone else will.”
~ Jack Welch.
~ Jack Welch.
UPDATE ON US RAID IN HEWLÊR:
NPR has an audio report on the incident from Hewlêr. According to pêşmerge, there was a stand off between them and a three-HUMVEE convoy of American forces outside the Hewlêr airport, which lasted about an hour. The pêşmerge surrounded the Americans and aimed their weapons at them, holding them in place because they were in Kurdish territory without authorization.
Very interesting, so please give the report a listen. Sounds like the KRG is really pissed off.
Since the news topic of the day seems to be Iran, let's continue with the same thing by first focusing on the situation in Iranian-occupied Kurdistan, from HULIQ:
Despite its wealth of oil and natural-gas reserves, Iran has faced a gas crunch as people turn up the heat this winter.
Partial or total energy cutoffs were reported in 11 provinces, with residents of colder western provinces worst affected, and exports to Turkey were suspended for five days.
The National Iranian Gas Company issued a statement on January 2 warning of shortages and asking Iranians -- including Tehran residents -- to moderate their consumption or face cuts.
There are energy shortages in 11 provinces, with partial or total cuts that include Kurdistan in western Iran, the northwestern Zanjan Province, and the provinces of East and West Azerbaijan.
[ . . . ]
In Saqqez, in Kurdistan Province [Iranian-occupied Kurdistan], residents gathered outside the district governor's office on January 4 to protest eight days without sufficient gas supplies.
From there, some 200 protesters went to the city council, then to the town's central square, by which time they numbered about 1,000, according to advarnews.com. Protesters demanded that the government resolve such fundamental problems instead of attending to its high-profile nuclear program.
Fakhredin Heidari, the parliamentary representative for Saqqez and Baneh, wrote to President Mahmud Ahmadinejad on January 3 to complain about the situation.
Heidari reminded Ahmadinejad that on his last visit to Saqqez, the president responded to public outcry by promising that shortages would not happen again "this year." The lawmaker recounted the death of a family of five due to a faulty heater that they were forced to use because of a lack of gas.
Heidari asked whether Ahmadinejad would respond similarly if it were his family and that of the oil minister who had to spend the night in the cold.
He also accused gas authorities of "giving away" natural gas to states who side with Iran's opponents in the nuclear standoff, leaving none for Iranians.
Heidari struck a note that the president himself has played in many of his speeches since taking office 1 1/2 years ago -- that of social justice. The lawmaker questioned the justice of a situation in which "the negligence of some officials" leaves Saddez residents "shivering in the cold" or burning to death in their homes.
Lawmaker Amin Shabani, from Sanandaj in Kurdistan Province [Iranian-occupied Kurdistan], argued on January 5 that Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh should be questioned in parliament if the gas shortages continue -- particularly in the country's colder western provinces. He said many western areas had experienced weeks of gas shortages or cutoffs.
Shabani said that such areas are living "entirely the opposite" of Ahmadinejad's reported campaign pledge to bring "oil to the people's tables" and oil wealth into Iranian homes. He said gas exports should be cut until domestic needs are met. He invited Vaziri-Hamaneh to visit Kurdistan "one day" and -- in his words -- "feel the cold...and properly answer how helpless people are to live" in near-freezing temperatures without gas, gasoline, or oil.
The crisis appears to have eased for now. Shabani said recently that there are currently sufficient supplies for the city of Sanandaj, and intermittent but less severe cuts in Saqqez and Baneh, according to ILNA on January 8.
But Shabani also warned ominously of a "100-percent possibility that with another cold wave, people in cold regions will face a fuel crisis."
So, there you have it. Energy resources necessary for survival in the fierce winter of Kurdistan are the first to be cut off as Iran suffers a fuel shortage, along with other regions filled with restive minorities. No doubt the fuel shortages are causing problems in those South Kurdistani towns bordering Iranian-occupied Kurdistan, since many of them purchase winter fuel from Rojhelat.
There are a couple of other articles describing the politics behind Iran's fuel shortage and these politics contribute to the sufferings of the Kurds and other minorities. The first is from the LATimes:
Iran's oil industry has raked in record amounts of cash during three years of high oil prices. But a new U.S. campaign to dry up financing for oil and natural gas development poses a threat to the republic's ability to continue exporting oil over the next two decades, many analysts say.
The campaign comes at a moment of unique vulnerability for Iran's oil industry, which also faces challenges from rising domestic energy consumption, international isolation, a populist spending spree by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and trouble closing contracts with foreign oil companies — a recipe for potential disaster in a nation with one of the world's largest reservoirs of oil.
[ . . . ]
If Iran were to suddenly stop exporting its 2.6 million barrels of oil a day, such as in the event of a military strike, world oil prices probably would skyrocket. But a gradual decline might be offset by other OPEC members, analysts say, particularly as Iraq increases its oil production and Saudi Arabia carries out plans for significant increases in its production capacity.
The US has had sanctions against Iran since 1979 and the seizure of the US Embassy in Teheran when the Islamic regime came into power. Now, however, it is applying more pressure to financial institutions, and not only to those based in the US but to international institutions as well. At the moment, the tactic seems to be working:
"Banks are constantly doing risk assessments about what kind of business they want to be involved in," Stuart Levey, Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a telephone interview.
"There's a lot out there suggesting that there's an element of coercion involved. But I think that for a lot of these executives, the main thing driving them is they really don't want to be involved in facilitating terrorism or proliferation or any other crime."
More than two decades of U.S. sanctions have had little effect on Iran's oil industry — U.S.-based companies have been replaced, largely by Europeans. But this new attack on financing has rapidly started to dry up potential loans on dozens of projects, according to oil industry insiders in Tehran and the West.
Any "element of coercion involved" is coming from the US, and if the American definition of terrorism as described in the US Code were consistently applied, not only would worldwide financial institutions have to cut off business with Iran, but with the US, too.
What are the possibilities that the current US tactic will backfire?
The LATimes article glosses over the possibility that China will involve itself with the further development of Iranian oil production facilities, saying "U.S. officials already have warned that they will seek to hold China accountable under Washington's unilateral sanctions laws if it proceeds with a $16-billion project to develop Iran's North Pars gas field." But China may not bow so easily to US pressure as banks do. For more on that, there's a detailed discussion at Political Affairs.net:
Iran facing a increasingly hostile US and Europeans has turned to Russia and China for investment and technical know-how for its oil and gas industries. China has the needed financial muscle and enough thirst for energy to disregard American pressures. China is already investing heavily in Iranian oil fields, securing for itself a portion of the oil and gas reserves. China with 1.3 billion people and fast growing economy is already the second largest oil consumer in the world. If China’s economic growth continues, it is estimated that by 2020 China’s energy needs will increase by 150 percent.
“China's expectation of growing future dependence on oil imports has brought it to acquire interests in exploration and production in places like Kazakhstan, Russia, Venezuela, Sudan, West Africa, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Canada. But despite its efforts to diversify its sources, China has become increasingly dependent on Middle East oil. Today, 58% of China's oil imports come from the region. By 2015, the share of Middle East oil will stand on 70%. Though historically China has had no long-standing strategic interests in the Middle East, its relationship with the region from where most of its oil comes is becoming increasingly important.”
Last year China signed oil and gas contracts worth over $100 billion with Iran. China is heavily involved in developing the huge Yadavaran oil field. “If completed, the deal will allow China to buy 150,000 barrels of Iranian crude a day at market rates for 25 years as well as 250 million tons of liquefied natural gas. Under an initial agreement signed by the Sinopec Group in October 2004, China could pay Iran as much as $100 billion for the stake and the purchases of oil and gas over 25 years.”  Interestingly Royal Dutch Shell Plc works as technical consultant for Sinopec on Yadavaran field.
On 25 December 2006, National Offshore Oil Corp of China announced the signing of a $16 billion memorendom of understanding to develop Iran’s North Pars gas field and build liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants in Iran. The project is expected to take 8 years to complete.
The article goes on to describe Russia's interest in Iran's energy resources along with its desire to set up an OPEC-style organization which would include a number of Central Asian republics, Ukraine, and Belarus. Iran was granted observer status with the SCO in 2005 and has since applied for full membership.
Let's review, from yesterday's post:
The US does not want democracy in Iran, either. It wants regime change. Regime change does not equal democracy. Regime change does not stabilize the region, but it does stabilize US hegemony.
From the Political Affairs.net article:
The current US strategy is to starve the Iranian oil and gas industries of new investments, thereby reducing the Iranian government’s revenues which are hoped will in turn reduce Iran’s ability to maintain not only its armed forces, but also the government’s social obligations to its people (subsidies, salaries, etc.). It is hoped that this combined with international isolation and (with the help of Saudi Arabia) a reduction in oil prices (OPEC crude basket price: $51.25 per barrel on 8/1/07) will not only cripple the Iranian economy, but also (possibly) lead to a regime change. All attacks on the economy was being presented under the guise of stopping Iran from developing WMDs, and in particular Nuclear weapons.
It's a very high-stakes game of poker the US is playing with Iran. What if Iran were to Washington's bluff? What if Iran "were to suddenly stop exporting its 2.6 million barrels of oil a day," but not as a result of a military strike but because it chose to remove its oil from the world market and sell only to SCO countries, namely China? What if it granted more development contracts to China, guaranteeing a certain percentage of oil to be sold to China over the next 25 years, as in the Yadavaran development project? What would happen to Europe with such a scenario?
This would be a sort of counterbalance between regional hegemonies, given that Western oil companies are busily trying to finalize their 30-year, 75%-profit deal in Iraq, as Britain's The Independent reported last weekend.
Is that what the new "surge" in Iraq is all about? If not, why are US senators "grilling" Condoleeza Rice over the lack of progress with Iraq's oil law?
Iraq's government is hammering out an oil law to regulate foreign investment. But it has been held up by disagreements over how revenues will be divided between provinces and the central government, and over who will have authority to sign contracts with foreign companies.
Sununu said he had been briefed on the oil law recently by members of the White House National Security Council, and had received a top-secret briefing from individuals he did not identify.
[ . . . ]
The contract issue is vital to Iraq's future as a solution favoring the regions would devolve power over its most valuable resource to the majority Shi'ites and the Kurds whose regions are home to the country's most coveted oil fields.
[ . . . ]
Ethnic Kurds whose region includes the country's northern oil fields including the giant Kirkuk field have signed some contracts with foreign oil companies, spurring confusion over who has the authority to ink contracts.
Rice said the oil law would not give the Kurds such authority.
"Even though the Kurds might have been expected ... to insist that they will simply control all the resources themselves, that's not what the oil law does," Rice said.
Are the Başûrî going to be left out in the cold like the Rojhelatî? We'll all know the answer to that when the oil law is made public. In the meantime, there's Iran, China, and Russia . . . and "A 16-year cycle of treachery" at the hands of the US.
How many more cycles of treachery must come and go before the Başûri leadership learns to build alliances with its brother and sister Kurds still under occupation, before all other alliances?