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9 reasons Trump’s dream of Russian reconciliation is now impossible

What was once mission difficult is now mission impossible–at least for the foreseeable future.

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Donald Trump has yet again stated that he seeks to have good or even “great” relations with Russia. Speaking beside Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Trump stated,

“I hope that we do have good relations with Russia. I say it loud and clear, I’ve been saying it for years: I think it’s a good thing if we have great relationships, or at least good relationships with Russia.

It’s a big country, it’s a nuclear country, it’s a country that we should get along with, and I think we will eventually get along with Russia”.

In spite of Trump’s stated wishes, the policies of his administration, irrespective of who is actually authoring them, are in total opposition to Russia’s stated geo-political goals and Russia’s geo-strategic interests.

The Trump administration’s approach to Venezuela, Afghanistan (and South Asia as a whole) and North Korea (and East Asia as a whole) and beyond is totally antithetical to the interests and stated desires of Russia and Russia’s closest partners.

READ MORE: Venezuela, Afghanistan and North Korea: 3 conflicts which represent the US vs. China and Russia

Here are the key places where US policy under Trump and Russia’s geo-political positions are in total opposition

1. Venezuela 

In Venezuela Trump has threatened war and implemented sanctions against the government of Nicolas Maduro. Russia by contrast vehemently opposes sanctions and war.

2. Afghanistan 

Trump’s flagship policy of a troop surge in Afghanistan is opposed by Russia as is his policy to effectively bomb the Taliban to the peace table.

Russia favours a process which would see moderate rebel elements of the Taliban invited to a peace table in conjunction with a cease-fire in order to develop a lasting peace based on reconciliation between the Taliban and the government in Kabul, something which in reality means a reconciliation between Pashtun Afghans and the ethnic minorities who are in the current government.

Russia also takes exception to Trump’s threats and criticisms against Pakistan, a country which is rapidly becoming an important Russian partner in South Asia.

3. North Korea 

Just this morning, Donald Trump once again threatened war on North Korea. By contrast, Russia has said multiple times that war can never be considered an option on the Korean peninsula and has called for the US to cease its delivery of THADD missile systems to South Korea and has also called for a cessation of US-South Korea military drills. In each of these cases, the US has totally ignored Russia and China’s requests, in spite of the fact that both states border the Korean peninsula.

Russia like China also calls for direct talks between Washington and Pyongyang, something the Trump administration is apparently not considering seriously at this time.

4. South China Sea 

While Russia is not directly involved with the South China Sea dispute, America’s provocative stance on the region has infuriated Russia’s most important partner, China. America’s imperial actions in the region, confusingly called ‘freedom of navigation’ by Washington, do not bode well for Moscow which wants to see cooperation rather than confrontation in Asia.

5. Turkey

While Russia is fast becoming an important partner of Ankara, the US seems to be throwing out its nearly century long alliance with Turkey. 

The US has blatantly disregarded Turkish concerns about America’s arming and funding of Kurdish militants in Syria while Russia continues to show courtesy and countenance for Turkey’s position which is shared by Iran.

6. Europe 

Russia has constantly called for NATO to de-escalate its presence in Europe, but under the Trump administration, Obama’s own European ‘troop surge’ has continued with no signs of stopping. Donald Trump’s recent speech in Poland where he quoted deeply Russophobic propaganda does not bode well for reconciliation between America’s EU allies and Russia.

7. Palestine/Israel 

While the US approach to the conflict in the Levant is completely one-sided, Russia maintains uniquely good relations with both Palestinian leaders and Israeli leaders in Tel Aviv. While Russia’s approach is clearly a conflict aversion tactic, if the US supported Israel in any aggression against Syria, this would clearly end any attempts at fledgling cooperation between the US and Russia in a Syrian conflict which is in any case, drawing to a close. Russia is carefully balancing the interests of its Syrian partner with trying to contain the aggressive military posturing of the Israeli regime with which Russia continues to do business.

Any US support of an Israeli strike against any Middle Eastern country would throw theSyrian de-escalation zone which is jointly policed by America, Russia and Jordan, into disarray. To this end, the south western Syrian de-escalation zone is thus far the only area where the Trump administration has made any progress in respect of improving relations with Russia. Currently, it hangs by a thread for more reasons than one.

8. Iran and the Persian Gulf 

While Donald Trump’s Tweets indicate a policy that is fully pro-Saudi, even as his own state department emphases a US position of neutrality, as Qatar works to re-normalise relations with Iran, the US could find itself increasingly at odds with its technical ally in Doha.

In respect of Iran itself, Donald Trump continues to advocate hostile policies against Tehran which include threats to tear up the so-called Iran Nuclear Deal as well as false accusations of Iran sponsoring terrorism.

Russia by contrast is an economic partner of Iran and is working with Iran to combat Salafist terrorists in Syria. In the Persian Gulf, Russia has won respect from Qatar for adopting a genuine and unambiguous position of neutrality. This has also allowed Russia to maintain healthy relations with Saudi through out the conflict.

9. Libya 

The US and the west more broadly seems to have no coherent strategy to deal with the Libyan failed state, beyond propping up the fledgling Government of National Accord, which is competing with the National Salvation Government as well as assorted militant groups for control of Tripoli.

By contrast, Russia continues to engage with Khalifa Haftar, the leader of Libya’s only successful and well organised military, the Libyan National Army. The LNA is also the only force in Libya that has successfully liberated important cities from terrorist control, namely the eastern city of Benghazi.

Egypt continues to support Haftar and the Libyan House of Representatives from which he derives political legitimacy. As Russia becomes ever closer to the government in Cairo, it would appear that Russia’s plan to help reconcile Haftar’s forces with what’s left of the UN backed government in Tripoli, is the closest thing any non-Arab power has to a plan for Libya.

The US appears to have no plans at all, but one can count on the US opposing Russian involvement in Libya, even though there is now little the US could conceivably do to stop Moscow and Cairo from cooperating in a country the US first destroyed and later abandoned.

CONCLUSION:

As I warned prior to Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin’s first meeting,

“With all the fuss over Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump meeting later this week at the G20 summit, many have conspicuously failed to grasp that the monumental task ahead of both leaders has little to do with their own period in government and even less to do with their personalities. These things of course do matter, but their importance is dwarfed by larger historical and present economic and geo-strategic concerns.

With that in mind, here are the giant obstacles that both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will be faced with when they meet”.

READ MORE: 5 obstacles Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will have to address in their meeting

In the month and three quarters since the Trump-Putin meeting, this situation has merely intensified. Differences in American and Russian geo-political interests have become ever more pronounced and the Trump administration shows no signs of even attempting to meet Russia half way, let alone approach the situation in a pragmatic manner. The ideological dogmas of the US continue as if Donald Trump is the mere figurehead in foreign affairs that many believe him to literally be.

Donald Trump’s personal respect for Russia seems genuine beyond any lingering doubts. He has no reason to say he wants warm relations with Russia any longer but he still says he does.

The policies of his administration however, belie the supreme difficulty of implementing such policies or even attempting to do so.

Dr. Samuel Johnson said that “the road to hell is good intentions”. Donald Trump’s good intentions in respect of Russia have led not to a new kind of hell but to the status quo becoming more entrenched.

When Donald Trump took office, he bravely embarked on what could rightly be called ‘mission difficult’. Now, the American deep state/military industrial complex has revealed that in reality, it was always going to be mission impossible due to geo-strategic realities, uniquely American arrogance which is embedded into the thinking of even many Washington moderates and finally, because we have learnt beyond a reasonable doubt, that the President of the United States is only as powerful as those around him, allow him to be.

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tgmoney
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tgmoney

It always was impossible, The Rothschilds are not going to allow Trump to come in and show the world there could be complete peace through the world. That would be the end of their Industrial war complex. They will sooner put a bullet in Trumps brain than allow him to achieve world peace.

Kaput
Member
Kaput

lol what about his zionist son in law. and that bitchy blond……… his sugar daughter, that will make Hitler blush…….

tgmoney
Guest
tgmoney

Ok well you should calm down before you hurt yourself. I was going to have a discussion but I think its not what you want. You just want to rant.

Kaput
Member
Kaput

I dnt waste time with fools …………… get my drift……………… anyway civil war is always a possibility, that will keep you busy indeed…………..

Gerry Hiles
Guest
Gerry Hiles

I think that, really, Trump suits deep state purposes, as I have argued at some length in a post on this page. Btw MY post is for discussion and ain’t a rant.

Shahna
Guest

Oh yeah. He toes the Deep State line religiously these days.

Le Ruscino
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Le Ruscino

Trump is just an inconvenient puppet while the Clinton Clan is still running the show!

Daisy Adler
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Daisy Adler

“Trump’s dream of Russian reconciliation”

I am not convinced that he ever had such a dream.

Vtran
Guest
Vtran

Agree

All we have to do is Look at Haily Statement in the UN …Haily Picked by Trmpz, so Haily Spoke Trmpz words !

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/nikki-haley-russia-ukraine_us_5893a9cbe4b0c1284f250dbd

Christinamellis
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Christinamellis

Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family!!!
On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
>>>http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash320TopValue/GetPay$97/Hour……..

VeeNarian (Yerevan)
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VeeNarian (Yerevan)

Trump’s dreams no longer matters. What matter’s is the “wet-dreams” of the warmongers and that the free world makes sure they are made to poo in their pants!

christianblood
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christianblood

It is true that Trump wanted a detente between the US and Russia but his administration was intentionally cripled and then taken over by the Russophobic “Deep State” neocons. Trump’s presidency is now over!

Andrew Orr
Guest
Andrew Orr

He’s defying the neocons in Syria. He ended their policy of supporting jihadists and started putting a real effort into destroying ISIS. That has made a real difference on the ground.

Neocons in the deep state are committing felonies by leaking classified information and the Jeff Sessions is going after them. The battle could end up with them in prison and Russiagate exposed as a hoax. That is more likely than Trump being removed from office.

Hamletquest
Guest
Hamletquest

Trump’s rapprochement with Russia was always going to be mission improbable, and a number of observers who thought Trump would win the presidential election realised this. Why? Well because the whole idea that somehow democracy in the US was a model for others to follow has been the best known joke for decades. In fact it has been the most obvious of all shams in reality. With Trump the deep state has had to show itself, but as yet not the deep corporate hidden interests which the state serves, but this may soon happen as the errant Trump is of… Read more »

Gonzogal
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Gonzogal

“the military has had to move in and take over”
It is astounding how the MAJORITY of Trumps Cabinet are past military men! At least 8!
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/47677.htm

Andrew Orr
Guest
Andrew Orr

The military seem more aligned with Trump than the neocons on the issue of going to war with Russia. They know what nuclear war would be like. The neocons infest the think tanks, state department and intelligence agencies rather than the pentagon.

Gonzogal
Guest
Gonzogal

“They know what nuclear war would be like.”

And yet they seem willing to go up against NK, also nuclear armed and with both China and Russia as allies against US war on the Korean peninsula which risks nuclear war! What the US regime is doing in NK is aimed mostly at China and Russia, in their continuing attempts to militarily surround both!

Andrew Orr
Guest
Andrew Orr

The lunatic running North Korea is like Caligula with nuclear weapons. Claims that he is a rational actor are not consistent with him feeding people to dogs, blowing them to bits with anti-aircraft guns or murdering them with VX. He is threatening to attack the US with nuclear weapons and is close to being able to carry out the threat. The US will not allow him to get that capability. The US can deal with North Korea without nuclear weapons. If China attacked US forces they would not be able to sell their products to anyone and they would not… Read more »

Gonzogal
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Gonzogal

“He is threatening to attack the US with nuclear weapons and is close to being able to carry out the threat.”

He is threatening to RETALIATE, NOT a first strike!

“The US can deal with North Korea without nuclear weapons.”

The US now HAS to deal with the FACT that NK HAS nuclear weapons!

Both China AND Russia has warned that if the US makes a first move to attack NK, they will BOTH step in to protect NK sovereignty.
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Andrew Orr
Guest
Andrew Orr

Russia and China will act in their national interests. It is not in their interest to start WW III to avenge a madman who defied multiple UN Security Council resolutions, used a chemical weapon on the territory of one neighbor and threatened to use nuclear weapons against the US. The way the US dealt with the Soviet missiles in 1962 is probably the best guide for how they will deal with North Korean missiles now. They will try to address China’s concerns but they will make it clear to China that they will not allow China’s pet madman to threaten… Read more »

Gonzogal
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Gonzogal

“One of the dangers with hereditary monarchies is that truly insane leaders can and have come to power. That may well be what has happened here. ”

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-09-07/why-war-party-loves-call-foreign-leaders-insane

“If Kim Jong Un was a rational actor he would be doing his best to prove it ”

Any TRUE leader of ANY country MUST protect its citizens and national borders. (BTW KIM Jong Un is the fully recognized leader of NK at the UN).

North Korea has been constantly threatened by the US almost annually for over 50 years….It WOULD be IRRATIONAL if he didnt do what is needed to protect his country.

Gonzogal
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Gonzogal

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Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

Impossible for the ‘agreement-incapable’ Untied Snakes and no longer needed by Russia.
Quarantine for the Anglo-Zionist Empire by the well part of the planet is what is needed next.

Gonzogal
Guest
Gonzogal
Voltaire
Guest
Voltaire

Adam, this is an excellent analysis and probably true, sadly…

But the response of people in Europe like us should be to double down on cooperation with Russia and China and other Eurasian countries to make the Eurasian dream come true…

The world would be a far better place if dominated by cooperative Eurasian powers…

Think of all the culture and civilisation that we have compared with the barbarian and toxic Americans…

We have no need at all of the Americas and, as we all know, the real threat to world peace is the USA…..

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

The ‘Deep State’ of Europe, the inherently corporate Nazi part which collaborated with and welcomed the German Fascist New World Order (there was almost no resistance to Nazism, except in France) now meet under the aegis of a palindrome – ‘NATOOTAN’ which, like the EU, is HQed in Brussels, but controlled from Washington/London and Tal Habib.

Voltaire
Guest
Voltaire

There are increasing signs even in Germany of refgusal to accept Washington’s dictat…like recent German FM attacking lastest US sanctions on Russia…

I agree that there are pockets of resistance to rational policy in Europe, but they are increasingly centred in UK (leaving “Europe”, thank God), and Poland and the Baltics which are being manipulated by the neocons…..

Even in Europe, recent polls show that the US is regarded as the greatest threat to world peace, which it is, of course…

Gonzogal
Guest
Gonzogal

“increasing signs even in Germany of refusal to accept Washington’s dictat”

To use Putin’s words “We judge on actions not words”

David Schultz
Guest
David Schultz

Russian politics is much more sophisticated than the squabbling of clueless Americans. A year from now anything is possible.

Gerry Hiles
Guest
Gerry Hiles

Given the truism that nobody could become (or remain) POTUS without the say so of the deep state – which must necessarily involve Rothschild & Co/BIS, etc. – I have to wonder about the erratic Trumpet. I have to wonder about the fact that, during the election campaigns, it came out that the mob figureheaded by Hitlery Clinton actually favoured Trumpet, it’s said because he was a poor candidate who’d enable her to win. But I wonder. . I watched a couple of his rallies and I thought, “Hindenburg.” About all that was lacking were uniforms and organisation. Nevertheless the… Read more »

Gerry Hiles
Guest
Gerry Hiles

I’ll add that another major false flag 911/Pearl Harbour/Reichstag fire could send the Trumpet’s popularity into a 70% range – it did for Dubya – and his Tweet-like empty, but inflammatory rhetoric could falsely unite the masses. Though previous anti-Russian propaganda failed, it could work another time around.

BobValdez
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BobValdez

“Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”. Samuel Johnson, 1775.

Isabella Jones
Guest
Isabella Jones

A good summary and points here Gerry. I had hopes – along with so many – of Trump, but recent events are causing a few re-thinks. It could be that, as you say, he was always the choice of the Deep State; it could be that the confidence that Hitlery would win was merely the misplaced view of the self selected East Coast Bostonian “elites” listening to themselves and forgetting that they aren’t the only people in America, or, finally, it could be that Trump is a bit smarter than anyone thought, and is acting on the principle that if… Read more »

Suzanne Giraud
Guest
Suzanne Giraud

Ditto, Isabella. I also sense he is seriously worrying his fleas whilst proceeding with internal investigations that are unravelling their tentacles, exposing them by their reactive unconstitutional Bills/Laws. I may be wrong, but I always felt that he who is cornered to react loses his position of control. Sure they block him from proceeding with righting so many tentacles of the ‘swamp’, but I foolishly (?) believe that he is readying and facilitating for their pending demise with the end of the Dollar (pain?). Remember even this recent article on Russia Insider? http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/washington-signs-its-own-death-warrant-new-russia-sanctions-will-ensure-end-us-dollar Just as you put it: “and in… Read more »

Isabella Jones
Guest
Isabella Jones

Must admit, I got a sad shock on realising Trump has pretty much handed over all military control to his current war mad generals.
It’s a case of which gets the post first I think. The collapse of America from inside, along with the dollar and it’s international status, or the NeoCon war hungry generals with their overwhelming desire to fight with Russia.
Every day, we never know.

samo war
Guest
samo war

Brittain in 2030 year ?

stevek9
Guest
stevek9

You forgot Congress / Democratic Party / Media / MIC / IC —-> new sanctions, wars, etc.

christianblood
Guest
christianblood

The U$-backed Saudi massacres in Yemen should be the tenth reason why Trump’s dream of Russian reconciliation is now impossible

Shahna
Guest

I don’t think Trump (or the Americans) actually live in a fact-based world.
They’re off …. on their own little pipedream somewhere. They just – follow the smoke or something.

Larchmonter445
Guest
Larchmonter445

The author left out Ukraine/Crimea.
This is a major flashpoint with US trainers and new heavy and very “deadly” weapons right up to the contact zone. And a naval base is being built at the Azov-Black Sea area by US Navy for Ukraine’s “mighty naval fleet”.

All the sanctions pivot on these two issues of Donbass and Crimea. Should be on the list.

seby
Guest
seby

The only dreams bush the III has is that of more money, TV ratings and a bigger penis. Everything else heard out of him, are basically farts through his mouth.

Gonzogal
Guest
Gonzogal

The US and the “West” have a LONG history of being against Russia, so it is hard to imagine one man could make a big difference despite the hopes of many around the world that he could!
https://sputniknews.com/politics/201508141025755003-russophobia-roots-cold-war/

Gonzogal
Guest
Gonzogal

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James Johnson
Guest
James Johnson

If you are disappointed in Trump so are many of us who supported him. He has quickly surrounded himself with war lords. Many things he could control. He could have drained the swamp but the swamp drained him .. Our congress is totally gone war lord. A little collusion would help here.

Andrew Orr
Guest
Andrew Orr

Trump will certainly have to pay lip service to the neocons. If he is wise, he will act in the US national interest and cooperate with Russia when it coincides with Russian national interests. The neocons wanted him to pick a fight with Russia in Syria but all he gave them was a fireworks display with with cruise missiles aimed to do minimum damage. He then went ahead and ended the CIA’s support for jihadists and focused on destroying ISIS. The US and Russia are cooperating and ISIS being defeated. Trump will have to fight and win a political fight… Read more »

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Theresa May’s soft Brexit plan continues to fail, as EU now pushing for UK to leave (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 138.

Alex Christoforou

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Theresa May’s soft Brexit strategy has been such a monumental failure that even Brussels negotiators are now pushing for the UK to simply leave the union, in what has becoming a British debacle, and a thorn in the Conservative Party’s side.

Many media pundits and analysts are now asking if the latest impasse in Brexit talks means that we are indeed seeing the last days of Theresa May?

While much of the mess the Conservative Party finds themselves in because of Brexit is squarely Theresa May’s fault, much of the damage done by May’s inability to close the deal on Brexit will not go away, even if she does.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Theresa May’s continued failure to obtain her soft Brexit dream, placing herself (and her Conservative Party) in such an embarrassing position, that European Union negotiators, tired of never ending talks, are eager to see Britain go away, in what will be an inevitable hard Brexit.

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“Are these the last days of Theresa May?”, authored by Stephen Bush via The New Statesman:


Are these the last days of Theresa May? This morning’s papers are full of stories of plots and ultimatums to the Prime Minister unless she changes her Brexit strategy, whether from her Scottish MPs over any extension of the transition period due to concerns over fisheries policy, from her Brexiteer MPs over the backstop or from her Cabinet over practically everything.

All this before the Budget next Monday, when Philip Hammond is going to have to find some way to pay for the extra cash for the NHS and Universal Credit all while keeping to May’s pledge that debt will continue to fall as a share of GDP. So added to all May’s Brexit woes, a row over tax rises could be coming down the track.

Of course, the PM’s position has been perilous for a very long time – in fact, when you remember that her period of hegemony ran from July 2016 to June 2017, she’s actually been under threat for more of her premiership than she hasn’t. But just because you roll heads 36 times in a row doesn’t mean your chances of rolling tails aren’t 50/50 on roll 37, and May’s luck could well be running out.

But while May shares a good size of the blame for the mess that the Conservative Party are in, it’s not all her fault by any means and none of those problems will go away if May is replaced or changes tack to win over her internal opponents in the European Research Group.

Ireland has a veto over the end state and only an indefinite and legally binding backstop for the island of Ireland will do if any deal is to be signed off. It’s true to say that no deal also means a hard border on the island of Ireland, but it’s also true that it will always been in the political interests of whoever is in office in Ireland for a hard border to be imposed as a result of no deal rather than for the Irish government to acquiesce in the creation of one through a EU-UK treaty.

The DUP can bring the Conservative government to an early end so they, too, have a de facto veto over any deal that creates barriers between Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom. But the only UK-wide solution – for the backstop to encompass the whole of the United Kingdom – is nothing doing with pro-Brexit Conservative MPs who don’t want an indefinite backstop. It’s also politically tricky with many EU member states, who don’t want the default outcome of the talks to be a UK-wide backstop, which many regard as a threat to the sanctity of single market. (The only reason why it is acceptable on the Irish border is because Ireland is still a member state and because the Irish border was both the location and the cause of political violence within living memory.)

Added to that, the Conservative parliamentary party seems to be undergoing a similar psychological journey to the one that Steve van Riel described during the 2015 Labour leadership election: that groups of any kind tend to reach a more extreme position the longer an issue is debated. Brexiteers who spent 20 years saying they wanted a Norway style deal now talk of Norway as a betrayal. Leavers who cheerily talked about making Northern Ireland into its own customs area before Brexit now talk of the backstop as a constitutional betrayal. And Conservative Remainers who only reluctantly backed an In vote to avoid the political upheaval of negotiating Brexit, or the loss of David Cameron, now call for a referendum re-run and privately flirt with the idea of a new party.

Some of that is May’s fault, yes. But none of it is going to go away if she does and all of it makes the prospect of reaching a Brexit deal considerably less likely.

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Saudi Crown Prince Spoke To Khashoggi By Phone Moments Before He Was Killed: Report

The shifting Saudi narrative of the killing has been met with scepticism and condemnation from the international community.

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Via Zerohedge


In the latest bombshell report involving the Khashoggi murder, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly spoke on the phone with journalist Jamal Khashoggi moments before he was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkish pro-government daily Yeni Safak disclosed the new alleged details of the case in a report on Sunday, contradicting claims by Saudi authorities that Prince Mohammed played no part in Khashoggi’s murder.

“Khashoggi was detained by the Saudi team inside the consulate building. Then Prince Mohammed contacted Khashoggi by phone and tried to convince him to return to Riyadh,” the report said.

“Khashoggi refused Prince Mohammed’s offer out of fear he would be arrested and killed if he returned. The assassination team then killed Khashoggi after the conversation ended,” it added.

While the report is so far unconfirmed, the New Arab reports that so far Turkish pro-government media have been receiving a steady stream of leaks many of which turned out to be accurate, including pictures of the hit team as they entered Turkey and reports of audio recordings of the murder said to be in the possession of Turkish authorities.

Meanwhile, the Saudi version of events has been changing significantly over the past two weeks with authorities conceded Saturday that Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist and a Riyadh critic, was killed inside the kingdom’s Istanbul diplomatic compound following a “brawl”. The admission came after a fortnight of denials with the insistence that the journalist left the consulate alive, starting on October 5, when Crown Prince MBS told Bloomberg that Khashoggi was not inside the consulate and “we are ready to welcome the Turkish government to go and search our premises”.

On Saturday, the kingdom announced it had fired five top officials and arrested 18 others in an investigation into the killing – a move that has widely been viewed as an attempt to cover up the crown prince’s role in the murder.

The shifting Saudi narrative of the killing has been met with scepticism and condemnation from the international community, and has left the U.S. and other allies struggling for a response on Sunday. As Bloomberg reports, France demanded more information, Germany put arms sales to Riyadh on hold and the Trump administration stressed the vital importance of the kingdom and its economy to the U.S.

In Sunday radio and TV interviews, Dominic Raab, the U.K. politician in charge of negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union, described the latest Saudi account as not credible; French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called for “the truth’’; and Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said his government would approve no arms sales so long as the investigation was ongoing.

Earlier on Sunday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir acknowledged a cover-up attempt. The dramatic reversal, after Saudi officials had previously said the columnist left the building alive, has only complicated the issue for allies.

Saudi Arabia’s al-Jubeir told Fox News on Sunday that the journalist’s death was an “aberration.”

“There obviously was a tremendous mistake made and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to cover up,” he said, promising that “those responsible will be punished for it.”

More importantly, he said that Prince Mohammed had no knowledge of the events, although if the Turkish report is confirmed, it will be yet another major flaw with the official narrative.

Several senior members of US President Donald Trump’s Republican Party said they believed Prince Mohammed was linked to the killing, and one called for a “collective” Western response if a link is proved. In an interview with The Washington Post, President Trump, too, said the Saudi narrative had been marked by “deception and lies.’’ Yet he also defended Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as a “strong person,’’ and said there was no proof of his involvement in Khashoggi’s death. Some members of Congress have questioned his willingness to exonerate the prince.

“Obviously there’s been deception and there’s been lies,” Trump said on the shifting accounts offered by Riyadh.

On Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to disclose details about the case at a meeting of his AK Party’s parliamentary faction on Tuesday, Haberturk newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, as Western firms and high-ranked officials scramble to avoid any Saudi involvement, Russia is more than happy to step in and fill the power vacuum void left by the US. As a result, Russian businesses are flocking to attend the investment forum in Saudi Arabia, as Western counterparts pull out.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has had considerable success boosting Moscow’s influence in the Middle East at U.S. expense, by standing by regimes that fall afoul of the West, including in Syria and Iran. Last week Putin signed a strategic and partnership agreement with Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, backed by $25 billion in loans to build nuclear reactors. Until El-Sisi came to power, Egypt had been closely allied to the U.S.

Meanwhile, all eyes are fixed squarely on the Crown Prince whose position of power is looking increasingly perilous. Congressional leaders on Sunday dismissed the story proffered earlier by the Saudis, with Republican Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bob Corker of Tennessee saying they believed the crown prince was likely involved in Khashoggi’s death.

Lawmakers said they believe the U.S. must impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia or take other action if the crown prince is shown to have been involved. Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat, said the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. should be formally expelled until a third-party investigation is done. He said the U.S. should call on its allies to do the same.

“Unless the Saudi kingdom understands that civilized countries around the world are going to reject this conduct and make sure that they pay a price for it, they’ll continue doing it,”’ Durbin said.

The obvious question is what happens and how the Saudi royal family will respond if it is pushed too far, and whether the worst case scenario, a sharp cut in oil exports, could be on the table if MBS feels like he has little to lose from escalating the situation beyond a point of no return.

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The Biggest Winners In The Mediterranean Energy War

Energy companies are flocking to the Mediterranean after oil and gas discoveries in the territorial waters of Israel, Cyprus, and Egypt.

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Authored by Vanand Meliksetian via Oilprice.com:


Former Vice-President of the United States Dick Cheney once said: “the good lord didn’t see fit to put oil and gas only where there are democratically elected states… Occasionally we have to operate in places where, all considered, one would not normally choose to go. But we go where the business is.” Europe is surrounded by states with abundant energy resources, but supply from these countries is not always as reliable. Russia, for example, is regularly accused of using energy as a weapon. However, major discoveries of gas in the Eastern Mediterranean could mitigate dependence on Russian gas.

The discovery of a gas field named Tamar near the coast of Israel in 2009 set off a wave of investments in the energy sector. After 9 years, companies are flocking to the region after other discoveries in the territorial waters of Israel, Cyprus, and Egypt. Ever larger finds in the Mediterranean Sea’s Levant Basin such as the Leviathan gas field in 2010 and Zohr in 2015, have the potential to transform the strategic importance of the region.

Turkey’s energy hub ambitions

Few states in the world are geographically so well positioned as Turkey. The country controls Russia’s only warm water port in the Black Sea and serves as a bridge between east and west. Therefore, during the Cold War Ankara was an indispensable member of NATO. More recently, Turkey has the ambition to become an energy hub for Middle Eastern and Caspian energy. Ankara has had mixed successes in attracting investors and maintaining political stability.

After Israel’s significant discoveries, a U.S. backed initiative presented Turkey as an energy hub. Although a land pipeline is the cheapest option to transport gas from the Mediterranean to Europe, political developments have stalled construction. President Erdogan’s escalating public denunciations of Israel have made Jerusalem look for other options. Furthermore, relations with Europe have also been damaged which would be dependent on Turkey as a transit country.

Egypt as the regional gas hub

Egypt’s has the third largest gas reserves in Africa. Therefore, its export-oriented LNG industry came on-stream in 2004 but was shut mid-2013 due to a lack of resources. The growth of the domestic market demanded ever larger volumes, which went at the expense of exports. Instead, Egypt started importing LNG. However, the discovery of the massive Zohr gas field, the largest in the Eastern Mediterranean, has turned around the situation. Egypt imported its last shipment of LNG in September 2018.

Although relations between Egypt and Israel are far from normal, privately held companies have been able to strike a deal. Starting from the first quarter of 2019, in 10 years 64 bcm worth $10 billion will be delivered. The agreement has stirred controversy in Egypt, which until recently was exporting to Israel. However, with this deal, Cairo comes closer in becoming an energy hub.

The recent signing of another agreement, this time with Nicosia to develop a subsea pipeline from Cyprus’ Aphrodite gas field, has been another important step. Cypriot gas will be pumped 400 miles (645 kilometers) to the south to Egypt’s LNG facilities. Difficult relations with Nicosia’s northern neighbors make a pipeline to the north highly unlikely.

Cairo has been able to act pragmatically concerning its relations with its neighbors such as Israel while taking advantage of the limited amount of options for exporting gas. The obvious winner in this context has been Egypt and its LNG industry. Its chances of becoming the regional energy hub instead of Turkey have significantly increased.

Turkey’s hope for luck

All littoral states of the Eastern Mediterranean struck ‘gold’ in the shape of natural gas except for Turkey. Ankara strongly opposes the exploitation of the gas resources in the exclusive economic zone of the Republic of Cyprus without a sharing agreement with Northern Cyprus’ Turkish inhabitants. The Turkish Navy prevented ships from Italy’s Eni from performing exploratory drilling off the coast of the Republic of Cyprus.

In search of its own luck, Ankara has set up a project to start looking for gas in the EEZ of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which is only recognized by Turkey. Kudret Özersay, TRNC deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, proclaimed the desire to turn the TRNC into an energy and electricity hub. However, it seems unlikely that investors will be willing to participate due to political and legal reasons.

The legal situation of the TRNC is an impediment to any major decision involving a longtime commitment worth billions. From an international point of view, the region is de jure part of the Republic of Cyprus, despite holding no control over the region. The TRNC holds no seat in the WTO.

Large investments require solid legal and political support for companies to earn back their investments. The current economic situation of Turkey makes it dependent on foreign money. However, stringent due diligence rules could impede some international banks in lending the necessary funds.

The Eastern Mediterranean Sea basin promises great rewards, but the risks are also high. With Turkey potentially being the only country that doesn’t profit from the gas bonanza, Ankara has acted aggressively to get what it regards as its fair share. However, it faces a united front from the other littoral states of the Eastern Mediterranean. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that Turkey will be able to profit in the same way as Cyprus, Egypt or Israel.

By Vanand Meliksetian for Oilprice.com

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