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Obama departs, ending the most disastrous Presidency of the post-Cold War era

Obama’s legacy to his successor is division at home and failure abroad, bequeathing a troubled nation and a state of world conflict instead of world peace.

Alexander Mercouris

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As Obama finally departs from the scene, this seems as good a moment as any to assess his Presidency.

In my opinion it has been a disastrous Presidency, which has hugely deepened divisions in America – a fact which more than any other explains the exaggerated reaction to his successor – and which has brought international relations to its most dangerous point of crisis since the end of the Second World War.

If that seems unduly harsh, then I would say that that is because whilst Obama has failed in every other respect, he has proved a genius in one respect, which is in his successful manipulation of opinion and of his own image, which seems to have been his main priority.  The result is that much of what went catastrophically wrong during his Presidency has been successfully concealed, so that unlike his immediate predecessor George W. Bush, Obama’s reputation has – so far – emerged from his Presidency comparatively though undeservedly intact.

In assessing any US President the temptation of a foreign writer like myself is to focus unduly on his foreign policy and to underestimate his domestic policy, which for Americans is however what principally matters.

Obama’s supporters tend to give him high marks for his domestic policy.  They claim that he successfully turned the US economy round after the 2008 financial crisis, and they also give him credit for Obamacare, which they consider a major step in addressing the ongoing catastrophe which is US health policy.

In my opinion the extent of both of these achievements is overstated.

By the time Obama became President the peak point of the financial crisis had already passed as a result of decisive if controversial Central Bank action – first and foremost by the US Federal Reserve Board – whilst Gordon Brown’s government in Britain had already led the way with its equally controversial policy of bailing out the banks.

Obama as President simply continued these policies, or to be more exact, he stood by as an interested and generally supportive bystander as they were put into effect.

The reason a global depression was avoided ultimately had little to do with him.  His much vaunted $800 billion reflation programme had little effect on the economy, its importance being overshadowed by the far more important aggressive quantitative easing policies of the US Federal Reserve Board and of the other Western Central Banks.  Importantly, despite Obama’s reflation policy, the condition of US infrastructure during his Presidency continued to deteriorate.

This is not a discussion about economics, and I will here merely state my belief that the action to avoid depression by bailing out banks and printing money will over time prove nothing short of disastrous, hugely inflating levels of debt in all the Western economies and leaving them in a much worst position than the one they were in before the crisis began.

What I would say is that one practical effect of this approach which has had important political consequences is that it has greatly increased social and economic inequality in all the major Western economies (Germany up to now has been the one important exception) as the dubious benefits of money printing and debt creation have disproportionately benefitted the already inordinately wealthy few at the expense of the increasingly indebted many.

As for Obamacare, its supporters need to ask themselves why unlike other policies to socialise health care costs – the NHS in Britain and Medicare and Medicaid in the US being obvious examples – it has so completely failed to win a critical mass of popular support, so that Donald Trump is now set to repeal it.

The short answer is that Obamacare has created a system which is so costly and inefficient, and which places so much of the economic burden on those it is supposed to help whilst rewarding the already grossly over-rewarded US health insurance industry even further, that it has never proved popular.

Given the political obstacles to genuine health reform in the US it is of course a moot point whether any other President could have done better.  Whilst it is fair to make this point, I cannot see how a health care reform which unlike Medicare and Medicaid is so fragile that it looks like being swept away so soon after Obama leaves office can be called a success.

Obama has also lent his support to issues like climate change, LGBT rights, and other social issues.

In my opinion these are important issues.  However on climate change no breakthrough has been achieved, and the breakdown in international relations over which Obama has presided during his Presidency (see below) has ensured that there can be none, since without international cooperation effective action on climate change is impossible.

On LGBT rights and other social questions Obama’s role has been minimal, with the heavy lifting done by others within US society over previous decades, whilst the economic conditions of black Americans – for perfectly understandable reasons Obama’s most loyal supporters – have actually deteriorated during his Presidency.

Indeed to the extent that Obama and other leading politicians in the Democratic Party have involved themselves in these issues, by seeking to use them to construct a political coalition based on them they have actually exacerbated what were already existing divisions within US society.

It is sometimes said that one of the reasons Obama as President achieved so little in domestic policy was because of the relentless hostility to him of his Republican opponents.

To a certain extent this is true, though the extent of this hostility has always seemed to me overstated.  What this point anyway however ignores is the degree to which Obama by his own behaviour has contributed to it.  Instead of personally reaching out to his opponents as Lincoln and Reagan once did, Obama preferred to withdraw into the solitude of the White House and the golf course, cutting an impossibly remote figure, leaving Republicans he might have charmed and won over feeling unwanted and left out in the cold.  Unsurprisingly they turned on him.

However it is Obama’s mismanagement of international relations which will ultimately condemn the reputation of his Presidency.

In my opinion the fundamental cause of this failure is that Obama has never understood or tried to understand the international system, or that the most important task of a modern statesman is to preserve peace, and that the key to doing this is through the successful management of relations between the three countries that are the world’s Great Powers: the US, China and Russia.

This is especially tragic since the conditions for doing this were never better than at the start of Obama’s Presidency.

The US’s key areas of interest are in north west Europe, the northern Pacific, and the Middle East.  Russia’s primary areas of interest are the territories of the former USSR.  China’s main focus is Taiwan and the South China Sea.

None of these areas of interest overlap with each other in the way that say the Balkans overlapped as a competing area of interest between the Great Powers before the First World War.  Moreover both China and Russia are for the moment principally focused on their economic development and have no wish at present to challenge the global role of the US and its leading position in the world economy.

That should have provided a strong basis for an effective system of cooperation between the three Great Powers, which would have made it possible to manage international relations successfully and to preserve peace.

In the event, instead of managing successfully relations with the other two Great Powers – China and Russia – the US under Obama has disastrously mismanaged them and drifted into confrontation with both of them.

This is in part because of Obama’s disdain for their leaders – which he is incapable of keeping hidden but instead foolishly broadcasts to the world – but it is mainly due to his utter disregard for their interests, which he doesn’t seem able to understand or even acknowledge.

Thus he has allowed the US to drift into a confrontation with China in the South China Sea and with Russia in Ukraine, even though as his interviews last year with The Atlantic show, he understands that China and Russia care about these regions in a way the US does not and will never do, and therefore will always have “escalatory dominance” over the US in both of them.

Beyond this there is the issue of Obama’s manipulative approach to relations with both Great Powers.

In the case of Russia he secured a major nuclear arms treaty by giving the Russians the clearest impression that he was going to give up the preceding Bush administration’s policies of installing ballistic missile interceptors in eastern Europe and its drive to draw Georgia and Ukraine into NATO.  Instead, once the nuclear arms agreement had been secured, Obama doubled down on both of the Bush administration’s policies, pushing ahead with the anti ballistic missile deployments in eastern Europe, and sponsoring an anti-Russian, pro-US coup against the democratically elected government of Ukraine, whose ultimate objective – as repeatedly announced by its leaders – was to bring Ukraine into NATO.

In the case of China Obama’s mishandling of relations was equally bad, though in the West it has attracted less attention.  At one and the same time he has appeared to encourage China to enlarge its role in the world economy, whilst simultaneously declaring a US “pivot to Asia” transparently intended to “contain” China and to mobilise the south east Asian states against it.  He has also – incredibly – allowed the US navy to discuss in public its plans for an economic blockade of China’s coast.

Understandably enough, Obama ended his Presidency with neither the Chinese nor the Russians trusting him.  The result is that the Russian-Chinese alliance – still embryonic when Obama became President – has now become full-fledged and irreversible and increasingly openly directed at the US, as the Chinese and the Russians – under pressure from Obama and previously Bush – have drawn together to oppose it.

Obama’s disastrous habit of making promises which he didn’t keep was unfortunately a hallmark of his whole conduct of foreign relations, and not just of his relations with the leaders of China and Russia.

In 2011 Obama assured not just the Russians and the Chinese but several other world leaders – including notably President Zuma of South Africa in a personal call – that the US had no plan for regime change in Libya.  As soon as these leaders agreed to a UN Security Council Resolution that allowed limited military action in Libya to protect civilians but which stopped well short of authorising regime change, he used it justify a far greater military intervention in Libya than he had promised, which ended first with regime change and then with chaos.

In 2011 Obama persuaded Turkish President Erdogan to support his regime change policy in Syria, leading Erdogan to think the US would see it through, if necessary by military action.  In the event the US failed to carry out military action to see its policy of regime change in Syria through, leaving Erdogan and Turkey high and dry, and with relations between Obama and Erdogan, and between the US and Turkey, in crisis.

Obama led the Iranians to believe that in the event they agreed to the nuclear deal he wanted from them, all the financial sanctions imposed on Iran would be lifted.  In the event once Obama got his nuclear agreement many of the sanctions remained in place, with the US Treasury Department continuing to enforce them.

This serial habit of making and breaking promises has had a corrosive effect on international relations.  By shattering trust between leaders it has made effective conflict management all but impossible, most disastrously during the Syrian crisis where painstaking negotiations with the Russians in the end led nowhere.

The result is that instead of cooperation between the three Great Powers there is mistrust and conflict between them, and instead of peace and successful conflict prevention there are now conflicts in almost every potential flashpoint in the world, with the US involved in all of them – in Ukraine, in the Middle East, in Afghanistan and in the South China Sea – and losing every one of them.

The most dangerous moment of all came in October, with the US military facing off against the Russian military in Syria, in what was the first outright confrontation between the militaries of the two military superpowers since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, and being forced to back down.  The only reason Obama’s reputation has survived this humiliation – arguably the greatest humiliation the US has suffered since the fall of Saigon – is because the Western media intentionally suppressed news of it.

In this climate of conflict – with Obama’s the first Presidency in US history over the course of which the US has been engaged in fighting somewhere every single day – monsters like ISIS have been able to breed and grow to appalling power.  It should be said clearly that ISIS’s success and continued existence would be impossible in any well functioning system of international relations, and is the direct product of the breakdown of the current system of international relations, for which Obama must take most of the blame.

Unfortunately it does not end there.

Obama’s habitual way of concealing his failures has been to use the media – with which he has strong connections and which is predisposed to be very supportive of him – to vilify his opponents, something clearly evident in Obama’s handling of US domestic politics, but which has reached unheard of levels in his increasingly personal campaign against the man he has clearly come to think of as his personal nemesis: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

Needless to say this has poisoned the international atmosphere even further, whilst fostering a dangerously hysterical and paranoid atmosphere across the West.

Where the proper function of a US President should be to calm fears and passions, Obama has instead increased them to levels not seen the 1940s and 1950s, triggering ugly witch hunts of the like the US and the West have not seen since the McCarthy era.

The result is that anyone today who calls for an improvement in relations with Russia – something essential in order to ensure world peace – risks being called a “useful idiot” or a Russian stooge, even if he is the US’s formerly most revered expert on Russia – Professor Stephen Cohen – or if he is no less a person than Obama’s successor – Donald Trump – who is now President of the United States.

It is a disastrous legacy of a man who has genuine intellectual gifts combined with the charisma to be a genuinely transformative President, but who was however never quite as intelligent or as well-informed as he always believed himself to be.

The result is that Obama departs the Presidency bequeathing to his successor a deeply divided country, and an unsettled and fraught international situation, which it will require massive work to put right.

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Russia calls on US to put a leash on Petro Poroshenko

The West’s pass for Mr. Poroshenko may blow up in NATO’s and the US’s face if the Ukrainian President tries to start a war with Russia.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Russia called on Washington not to ignore the Poroshenko directives creating an active military buildup along the Ukrainian-Donbass frontier, this buildup consisting of Ukrainian forces and right-wing ultranationalists, lest it “trigger the implementation of a bloody scenario”, according to a Dec 11 report from TASS.

The [Russian] Embassy [to the US] urges the US State Department to recognize the presence of US instructors in the zone of combat actions, who are involved in a command and staff and field training of Ukraine’s assault airborne brigades. “We expect that the US will bring to reason its proteges. Their aggressive plans are not only doomed to failure but also run counter to the statements of the administration on its commitment to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine by political and diplomatic means,” the statement said.

This warning came after Eduard Basurin, the deputy defense minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic noted that the Ukrainian army was massing troops and materiel for a possible large-scale offensive at the Mariupol section of the contact line in Donbass. According to Basurin, this action is expected to take place on 14 December. TASS offered more details:

According to the DPR’s reconnaissance data, Ukrainian troops plan to seize the DPR’s Novoazovsky and Temanovsky districts and take control over the border section with Russia. The main attack force of over 12,000 servicemen has been deployed along the contact line near the settlements of Novotroitskoye, Shirokino, and Rovnopol. Moreover, more than 50 tanks, 40 multiple missile launcher systems, 180 artillery systems and mortars have been reportedly pulled to the area, Basurin added. Besides, 12 BM-30 Smerch heavy multiple rocket launchers have been sent near Volodarsky.

The DPR has warned about possible provocations plotted by Ukrainian troops several times. Thus, in early December, the DPR’s defense ministry cited reconnaissance data indicating that the Ukrainian military was planning to stage an offensive and deliver an airstrike. At a Contact Group meeting on December 5, DPR’s Foreign Minister Natalia Nikonorova raised the issue of Kiev’s possible use of chemical weapons in the conflict area.

This is a continuation of the reported buildup The Duran reported in this article linked here, and it is a continuation of the full-scale drama that started with the Kerch Strait incident, which itself appears to have been staged by Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko. Following that incident, the president was able to get about half of Ukraine placed under a 30-day period of martial law, citing “imminent Russian aggression.”

President Poroshenko is arguably a dangerous man. He appears to be desperate to maintain a hold on power, though his approval numbers and support is abysmally low in Ukraine. While he presents himself as a hero, agitating for armed conflict with Russia and simultaneously interfering in the affairs of the Holy Eastern Orthodox Church, he is actually one of the most dangerous leaders the world has to contend with, precisely because he is unfit to lead.

Such men and women are dangerous because their desperation makes them short-sighted, only concerned about their power and standing.

An irony about this matter is that President Poroshenko appears to be exactly what the EuroMaidan was “supposed” to free Ukraine of; that is, a stooge puppet leader that marches to orders from a foreign power and does nothing for the improvement of the nation and its citizens.

The ouster of Viktor Yanukovich was seen as the sure ticket to “freedom from Russia” for Ukraine, and it may well have been that Mr. Yanukovich was an incompetent leader. However, his removal resulted in a tryannical regíme coming into power, that resulting in the secession of two Ukrainian regions into independent republics and a third secession of strategically super-important Crimea, who voted in a referendum to rejoin Russia.

While this activity was used by the West to try to bolster its own narrative that Russia remains the evil henchman in Europe, the reality of life in Ukraine doesn’t match this allegation at all. A nation that demonstrates such behavior shows that there are many problems, and the nature of these secessions points at a great deal of fear from Russian-speaking Ukrainian people about the government that is supposed to be their own.

President Poroshenko presents a face to the world that the West is apparently willing to support, but the in-country approval of this man as leader speaks volumes. The West’s blind support of him “against Russia” may be one of the most tragic errors yet in Western foreign policy.

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Second Canadian Citizen Disappears In China

According to the he Globe and Mail, the man was identified as Michael Spavor, a Canadian whose company Peaktu Cultural Exchange brings tourists and hockey players into North Korea.

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Via Zerohedge…


For a trade war that was supposed to be between the US and China, Canada has found itself increasingly in the middle of the crossfire. And so after the arrest of a former Canadian diplomat in Beijing in retaliation for the detention of the Huawei CFO in Vancouver, Canada said a second person has been questioned by Chinese authorities, further heightening tensions between the two countries.

The second person reached out to the Canadian government after being questioned by Chinese officials, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said, at which point Canada lost contact with him. His whereabouts are currently unknown and Global Affairs Canada said they are in contact with his family.

“We haven’t been able to make contact with him since he let us know about this,” Freeland told reporters Wednesday in Ottawa. “We are working very hard to ascertain his whereabouts and we have also raised this case with Chinese authorities.”

According to the he Globe and Mail, the man was identified as Michael Spavor, a Canadian whose company Peaktu Cultural Exchange brings tourists and hockey players into North Korea. He gained fame for helping arrange a visit to Pyongyang by former NBA player Dennis Rodman, and he met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on that trip, the newspaper reported. Attempts to reach Spavor on his contact number either in China, or North Korean went straight to voicemail.

Spavor’s personal Facebook page contains several images of him with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un including one of him with both Jong-un and former Dennis Rodman at an undisclosed location.

Michael P. Spavor, right, pictured here with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, second from right, and Dennis Rodman.

Another image shows the two sharing a drink on a boat.

The unexplained disappearance takes place after China’s spy agency detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig in Beijing on Monday, who was on leave from the foreign service. The arrest came nine days after Canada arrested Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou at the request of U.S. DOJ. While Canada has asked to see the former envoy after it was informed by fax of his arrest, Canada is unaware of Kovrig current whereabouts or the charges he faces.

“Michael did not engage in illegal activities nor did he do anything that endangered Chinese national security,” Rob Malley, chief executive officer of the ICG, said in a written statement. “He was doing what all Crisis Group analysts do: undertaking objective and impartial research.”

One possibility is that Kovrig may have been caught up in recent rule changes in China that affect non-governmental organizations, according to Bloomberg. The ICG wasn’t authorized to do work in China, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said during a regular press briefing in Beijing Wednesday.

“We welcome foreign travelers. But if they engage in activities that clearly violate Chinese laws and regulations, then it is totally another story,” he said, adding he had no information on Kovrig specifically.

As Bloomberg further notes, foreign non-governmental organizations are now required to register with the Chinese authorities under a 2017 law that subjects them to stringent reporting requirements. Under the law, organizations without a representative office in China must have a government sponsor and a local cooperative partner before conducting activities. ICG said this is the first time they’ve heard such an accusation from the Chinese authorities in a decade of working with the country. The company closed its Beijing operations in December 2016 because of the new Chinese law, according to a statement. Kovrig was working out of the Hong Kong office.

Meanwhile, realizing that it is increasingly bearing the brunt of China’s retaliatory anger, Trudeau’s government distanced itself from Meng’s case, saying it can’t interfere with the courts, but is closely involved in advocating on Kovrig’s behalf.

So far Canada has declined to speculate on whether there was a connection between the Kovrig and Meng cases, with neither Freeland nor Canadian Trade Minister Jim Carr saying Wednesday that there is any indication the cases are related. Then again, it is rather obvious they are. Indeed, Guy Saint-Jacques, who served as ambassador to China from 2012 to 2016 and worked with Kovrig, says the link is clear. “There’s no coincidence with China.”

“In this case, they couldn’t grab a Canadian diplomat because this would have created a major diplomatic incident,” he said. “Going after him I think was their way to send a message to the Canadian government and to put pressure.”

Even though Meng was granted bail late Tuesday, that did not placate China, whose foreign ministry spokesman said that “The Canadian side should correct its mistakes and release Ms. Meng Wanzhou immediately.”

The tension, according to Bloomberg,  may force Canadian companies to reconsider travel to China, and executives traveling to the Asian country will need to exercise extra caution, said Andy Chan, managing partner at Miller Thomson LLP in Vaughan, Ontario.

“Canadian business needs to look at and balance the reasons for the travel’’ between the business case and the “current political environment,’’ Chan said by email. Chinese officials subject business travelers to extra screening and in some case reject them from entering, he said.

Earlier in the day, SCMP reported that Chinese high-tech researchers were told “not to travel to the US unless it’s essential.”

And so, with Meng unlikely to be released from Canada any time soon, expect even more “Chinese (non) coincidences”, until eventually China does detain someone that the US does care about.

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Multipolar World Order in the Making: Qatar Dumps OPEC

Russia and Qatar’s global strategy also brings together and includes partners like Turkey.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The decision by Qatar to abandon OPEC threatens to redefine the global energy market, especially in light of Saudi Arabia’s growing difficulties and the growing influence of the Russian Federation in the OPEC+ mechanism.

In a surprising statement, Qatari energy minister Saad al-Kaabi warned OPEC on Monday December 3 that his country had sent all the necessary documentation to start the country’s withdrawal from the oil organization in January 2019. Al-Kaabi stressed that the decision had nothing to do with recent conflicts with Riyadh but was rather a strategic choice by Doha to focus on the production of LNG, which Qatar, together with the Russian Federation, is one of the largest global exporters of. Despite an annual oil extraction rate of only 1.8% of the total of OPEC countries (about 600,000 barrels a day), Qatar is one of the founding members of the organization and has always had a strong political influence on the governance of the organization. In a global context where international relations are entering a multipolar phase, things like cooperation and development become fundamental; so it should not surprise that Doha has decide to abandon OPEC. OPEC is one of the few unipolar organizations that no longer has a meaningful purpose in 2018, given the new realities governing international relations and the importance of the Russian Federation in the oil market.

Besides that, Saudi Arabia requires the organization to maintain a high level of oil production due to pressure coming from Washington to achieve a very low cost per barrel of oil. The US energy strategy targets Iranian and Russian revenue from oil exports, but it also aims to give the US a speedy economic boost. Trump often talks about the price of oil falling as his personal victory. The US imports about 10 million barrels of oil a day, which is why Trump wrongly believes that a decrease in the cost per barrel could favor a boost to the US economy. The economic reality shows a strong correlation between the price of oil and the financial growth of a country, with low prices of crude oil often synonymous of a slowing down in the economy.

It must be remembered that to keep oil prices low, OPEC countries are required to maintain a high rate of production, doubling the damage to themselves. Firstly, they take less income than expected and, secondly, they deplete their oil reserves to favor the strategy imposed by Saudi Arabia on OPEC to please the White House. It is clearly a strategy that for a country like Qatar (and perhaps Venezuela and Iran in the near future) makes little sense, given the diplomatic and commercial rupture with Riyadh stemming from tensions between the Gulf countries.

In contrast, the OPEC+ organization, which also includes other countries like the Russian Federation, Mexico and Kazakhstan, seems to now to determine oil and its cost per barrel. At the moment, OPEC and Russia have agreed to cut production by 1.2 million barrels per day, contradicting Trump’s desire for high oil output.

With this last choice Qatar sends a clear signal to the region and to traditional allies, moving to the side of OPEC+ and bringing its interests closer in line with those of the Russian Federation and its all-encompassing oil and gas strategy, two sectors in which Qatar and Russia dominate market share.

In addition, Russia and Qatar’s global strategy also brings together and includes partners like Turkey (a future energy hub connecting east and west as well as north and south) and Venezuela. In this sense, the meeting between Maduro and Erdogan seems to be a prelude to further reorganization of OPEC and its members.

The declining leadership role of Saudi Arabia in the oil and financial market goes hand in hand with the increase of power that countries like Qatar and Russia in the energy sectors are enjoying. The realignment of energy and finance signals the evident decline of the Israel-US-Saudi Arabia partnership. Not a day goes by without corruption scandals in Israel, accusations against the Saudis over Khashoggi or Yemen, and Trump’s unsuccessful strategies in the commercial, financial or energy arenas. The path this doomed

trio is taking will only procure less influence and power, isolating them more and more from their opponents and even historical allies.

Moscow, Beijing and New Delhi, the Eurasian powerhouses, seem to have every intention, as seen at the trilateral summit in Buenos Aires, of developing the ideal multipolar frameworks to avoid continued US dominance of the oil market through shale revenues or submissive allies as Saudi Arabia, even though the latest spike in production is a clear signal from Riyadh to the USA. In this sense, Qatar’s decision to abandon OPEC and start a complex and historical discussion with Moscow on LNG in the format of an enlarged OPEC marks the definitive decline of Saudi Arabia as a global energy power, to be replaced by Moscow and Doha as the main players in the energy market.

Qatar’s decision is, officially speaking, unconnected to the feud triggered by Saudi Arabia against the small emirate. However, it is evident that a host of factors has led to this historic decision. The unsuccessful military campaign in Yemen has weakened Saudi Arabia on all fronts, especially militarily and economically. The self-inflicted fall in the price of oil is rapidly consuming Saudi currency reserves, now at a new low of less than 500 billion dollars. Events related to Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) have de-legitimized the role of Riyadh in the world as a reliable diplomatic interlocutor. The internal and external repression by the Kingdom has provoked NGOs and governments like Canada’s to issue public rebukes that have done little to help MBS’s precarious position.

In Syria, the victory of Damascus and her allies has consolidated the role of Moscow in the region, increased Iranian influence, and brought Turkey and Qatar to the multipolar side, with Tehran and Moscow now the main players in the Middle East. In terms of military dominance, there has been a clear regional shift from Washington to Moscow; and from an energy perspective, Doha and Moscow are turning out to be the winners, with Riyadh once again on the losing side.

As long as the Saudi royal family continues to please Donald Trump, who is prone to catering to Israeli interests in the region, the situation of the Kingdom will only get worse. The latest agreement on oil production between Moscow and Riyad signals that someone in the Saudi royal family has probably figured this out.

Countries like Turkey, India, China, Russia and Iran understand the advantages of belonging to a multipolar world, thereby providing a collective geopolitical ballast that is mutually beneficial. The energy alignment between Qatar and the Russian Federation seems to support this general direction, a sort of G2 of LNG gas that will only strengthen the position of Moscow on the global chessboard, while guaranteeing a formidable military umbrella for Doha in case of a further worsening of relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

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