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by ARGeezer Tue Aug 20th, 2019 at 03:44:18 AM EST

Who lost the Mid-East?

China's Ultimate Play For Global Oil Market Control    H/T Naked Capitalism

While we have been distracted by Trump and Brexit new trade and security arrangements are afoot in the Gulf. Dismayed by what they see as US wavering with respect to Iran, The Emirates and, with equivocation, Saudi Arabia have assented to a new role in the Gulf for China and Russia. This could stabilize the region and defuse conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran. There has been a storm of diplomatic activity in the region on several fronts. This could presage a withdrawal of US forces and influence in the area - or WW III.

(The author) Yossef Bodansky, Director of Research at the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA) and Senior Editor of Defense & Foreign Affairs publications (including the Global Information System: GIS), was, for more than a decade, the Director of the US House of Representatives Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare.

See either link to the original article for a wealth of detail on the storm of diplomatic moves and new treaties, defense arrangements and mutual guarantees already made in the area between Russia, Iran, China the Emirates and other regional powers including Turkey and Pakistan.

Front-paged - Frank Schnittger - An important discussion, which you may have missed if you follow only Anglo-American media

All attention is focused on the twists-and-turns of the very noisy US-Iran dispute in the Persian Gulf, but all the while the People's Republic of China (PRC) is rapidly and quietly consolidating a dominant presence in the area with the active support of Russia.

Beijing, as a result, is fast acquiring immense influence over related key dynamics such as the price of oil in the world market and the relevance of the petrodollar. The PRC and the Russians are capitalizing on both the growing fears of Iran and the growing mistrust of the US. Hence, the US is already the main loser of the PRC's gambit.

The dramatic PRC success can be attributed to the confluence of two major trends:

(1) The quality and relevance of what Beijing can offer to both Iran and the Saudi-Gulf States camp; and

(2) The decision of key Arab leaders -- most notably Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin `Abd al-'Aziz al Sa'ud (aka MBS) and his close ally, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (aka MBZ) -- to downgrade their traditional close ties with the US, and reach out to Beijing to provide a substitute strategic umbrella.

The lack of attention to these developments in the US media may be, in no small part, because the whole subject is inconvenient both to Republicans and Democrats. The Republicans don't want the Trump Administration to be branded as the ones who lost the Middle East while the Democrats might be happy just to wait until it is fully a fait acomplis. Admittedly this is more likely for progressive Democrats, who would be happy to have a reason to wind down US involvement in the Middle East and to shift attention and resources to US domestic issues. But where are US Neo-Cons?

Hence, the PRC offer to oversee and guarantee the establishment of a regional collective security regime -- itself based on the Russian proposals and ideas first raised in late July 2019 -- is now getting considerable positive attention from both shores of the Persian Gulf. Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and Oman appear to be becoming convinced that the PRC could be the key to the long-term stability and prosperity in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula.

Iran is also considering the expansion of security cooperation with Russia as an added umbrella against potential US retaliation.

Overall, according to sources in these areas, the US was increasingly perceived as an unpredictable, disruptive element.

The profound change in the attitude of the Saudi and Emirati ruling families, who for decades have considered themselves pliant protégés of the US, took long to evolve. However, once formulated and adopted, the new policies have been implemented swiftly.

Iran, The Emirates and Saudi Arabia are all concerned about having a security umbrella in the case of US withdrawal from the Middle East.

Both MBS and MBZ concluded that they need a far stronger strategic umbrella than the US and Israel could offer in order to survive in the era of Iran's ascent.

As a result, MBZ reached out to Beijing in early July 2019. After comprehensive preparatory negotiations, MBZ arrived in Beijing on July 20, 2019, for a milestone visit in which he met PRC Pres. Xi Jinping for lengthy discussions. According to PRC senior officials, Mohammed bin Zayed and Xi Jinping "elevated the two countries' relationship to that of a strategic partnership". The key outcome was the UAE's acceptance of the dominance of the PRC and Russia in the Persian Gulf.

"The UAE and China are moving towards a promising future," MBZ said in his concluding meeting with Xi Jinping. His visit aimed at "developing co-operation and a comprehensive strategic partnership, as well as opening new horizons for joint action in various sectors," MBZ explained. Xi Jinping responded by stressing "the profound significance of China-Arab relations". The PRC and the UAE would now work closely together to transform the Persian Gulf into "a security oasis" rather than a new "source of turmoil".

Significantly, Xi Jinping referred to "a hundred years of grand plan" when describing the PRC's relations with the UAE. MBZ also signed a large number of bilateral agreements, both economic and strategic.

While in Beijing, Mohammed bin Zayed asked Xi Jinping to mediate a deal with Tehran in order to negate the US-driven escalation and possible war. The PRC moved very fast, and within a few days dispatched to Tehran a high-ranking delegation led by the head of the International Liaison Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Song Tao. His mandate was to discuss the new security regime for the Persian Gulf, as well as the conditions for increasing PRC purchase of Iranian oil in disregard of the US sanctions. On the Iranian side, Song Tao's official host was the highly influential Secretary of the Expediency Council, Mohsen Rezaei. This meant that Khamene`i was directly involved. Song Tao stayed in Tehran for three days and met with a large number of senior officials, mostly members of Khamene`i's innermost circle of confidants and advisors.

The goal of these arrangements is to turn the Middle East into a zone of security to ensure the flow of oil to those who still need it, especially China. Since China is both a guarantor of security to the Emirates and Saudi Arabia and a major purchaser of oil from Iran, it is in a unique position to guarantee regional security and a major beneficiary. The USA is no longer dependent on Middle East oil.
The Head of Iran's Foreign Policy Strategic Council, Kamal Kharrazi, reminded Song Tao that "both Iran and China are opposed to US's unilateralism and hegemony".

Hence, both countries should work closely together in confronting the US. The Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, Ali Larijani, also stressed that close cooperation "can help counter the US animosity and neutralize its consequences". He suggested that Russia should be brought into the new security regime in the Persian Gulf. Larijani urged the PRC to expedite its anti-US intervention in the Persian Gulf because "success of this plan is contingent upon practical steps". Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif noted "the two countries' common strategic outlook toward international developments", and urged close cooperation in order to reverse "Washington's attempts to impose its own hegemony on the world".

All the Iranian officials had no problem with some form of rapprochement with the UAE and Saudi Arabia provided they did neither participate in a war against Iran, nor permit the US to use their territory and bases for strikes against Iran and Iranian proxies.

The PRC delegation was impressed by the Iranian eagerness to cooperate and to accept a PRC umbrella.

Song Tao told his interlocutors that "the mission of the delegation is to strengthen the strategic coordination and dialogue between the two countries and we are willing to confront challenges and problems together". He agreed with the imperative to jointly confront the US, and accepted the need to move fast jointly. Song Tao concurred that "there are complicated and rapid developments happening on the international stage that have created challenges for the countries of China and Iran, but our resolve and determination is to support Iran's legal and legitimate rights to development and progress". Song Tao promised to discuss in Beijing concrete ideas how to improve and expand the PRC's policy of "long-term strategic" ties with Iran in view of the current situation in the Persian Gulf.

But the new arrangements also presage a new, lower price of oil on the world market.
On August 6, 2019, the PRC Ambassador to Tehran, Chang Hua, delivered the decision of the Forbidden City to play the active and leading rôle in the establishment of a new regime of collective security in the Persian Gulf.

Beijing was convinced, he stated, that "any projects and initiatives that aim to strengthen security in the Persian Gulf must be proposed and carried out by the regional countries themselves". Chang Hua explained that "the Chinese side, as President Xi Jinping has said, is hopeful that the Persian Gulf will remain a region of peace and security". The PRC was ready to actively contribute to the sustenance of peace and security in this crucial area. "The Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz are the most critical channel and gateway in the world for transferring energy; therefore, they are significant for the world's policy-making, security and economy," Chang Hua concluded.

The PRC also started to implement specific undertakings.

First came the decision to increase the importation of Iranian oil, not only to help an ally in distress, but also as an affront to the United States. According to PRC senior officials in Beijing: "China continues oil imports from Iran to show independence from US sanctions." The PRC also agreed to purchase oil with yuans, euros, and other currencies in order to reduce their vulnerability to US financial sanctions. The PRC would continue to import its Iranian crude via at least a dozen Iranian tankers also in order to demonstrate to all that "China [is] a country powerful enough to bust US sanctions".

Moreover, the anticipated large-scale PRC imports of Iranian crude would have a major impact on the price of oil. Experts in the US and Europe concluded that under such circumstances, the oil price could sink by as much as $30 a barrel. The experts worried that the PRC might decide to purchase large quantities of Iranian oil as a retaliation for the trade/tariff war with the US.

Saudi Arabia is caught in a bind. It can no longer be assured of security by the USA, yet it wants the price  of oil to remain around $60/bbl. Hence its dithering. But the US fracking industry will become uneconomical with $30/bbl oil.

Interesting times.

[No need to SHOUT]

We're not quite there yet!

My first reaction: indeed interesting times, however I don't agree Saudi Arabia is on board! Haven't seen the signs MBS has made such a move. Saudi Arabia, UAE and Israel were the driving force to rid the White House of Democrats because of the Iran deal. The hundreds of millions were spend in support of getting a Republican elected ... that has been my analysis from January 2017. To blame Russia and Putin was a ploy and decoy to hide the truth.

From Sept. 2015, Russia entered the civil war or sectarian war by proxy mercenaries in Syria on the side of Assad. That decision caused huge waves in the region. The ties between Israel and the Arabs of the Arabian desert were strengthened after the Obama White House pushed through the Iran nuclear deal.

With the "Arab Uprising" in North African states and later in Syria, there was a struggle for power between Qatar/Turkey - Musim Brotherhood and KSA/UAE as the Salafist Islamic states. The role of Turkey was pivotal. Putin managed to loosen the ties of Erdogan's Turkey [NATO member] from the West, both the EU and the US.

Saudi Arabia has spend hundreds of millions to bribe authoritarian leaders of Muslim nations in the region to join an Islamic version of a military defense pact such as NATO had established. That failed as the most populous states like Turkey and Pakistan wavered. Recently there has been a split between the UAE and KSA as seen with the withdrawal of the mercenaries of the Emirates from the Yemen War of atrocities. The flow of arms and munities from especially the UK and US continued although criticism has grown louder in the West.

Russia is not capable to finance such support nor the military means to play a major role in the Persian Gulf. All signs pont to an extension of the US military presence by deploying its Navy in the Persian Gulf but also stationing 5,000 men on Saudi soil. This has been always a contentious remedy in the Saudi Kingdom as we remember from the First Gulf War. The rise to villain of the West by name of Saudi son Osama bin Laden was the result.

The ill fated role of the United States in the region of the Persan Gulf since 1979 and the Islamic Revolution of Khomeini has seen a titanic shift of allegiances. The Western inspired CENTO states to insulate Saudi Arabia from Communism {Pact of Baghdad] has fully collapsed. The Half Moon of the Iranian axis has been completed and runs from Teheran through Baghdad-Damascus to Beirut.

The US has become the global supplier of fossil fuels and has no dependency of oil transported from the Gulf countries. Japan, India and China are fully dependent on this source and will do everything to get the oil from Iran flowing freely. China has no democracy and has no need to set policy for the short term of 4-5 years but sets policy for future generations.

I'm sure the US and now the UK after Brexit will join forces in a last attempt to counter the Chinese influence and expansion not only for oil, but it has invested heavily in the failed states of the African continent. The new Silk Routes have cost China billions and is well underway for further expansion into Eastern Europe as well.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Tue Aug 20th, 2019 at 04:52:36 AM EST
As I summarized, Saudi Arabia is in a bind. It needs guarantees of security China and Russia can provide, but also wants the $60/bbl oil price that continuation of the Trump 'maximum pressure' campaign is providing. So MBS is trying to ride two horses at once. That, IMO, means he is likely to allow events to determine the outcome. The establishment of Russian naval and air bases on the Iranian coast combined with the announced increase in presence of the Chinese navy in the Arabian Sea and the Gulf will be two major events. We will see if they occur on schedule as announced. Chinese naval escorts for Iranian oil tankers through the Straits and the Gulf will, if it happens, be the third event.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Aug 20th, 2019 at 03:49:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not so certain that the USA and the UK will seriously challenge Chinese and Russian air and naval presence in the region. That horse may well have left the barn. More likely is a furious effort to assign blame, which will likely be doomed.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Aug 20th, 2019 at 03:54:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Although I've only read the excerpts, the main points of the theses studiously avoid discussion of intermediate goods and services (value, process, people) in hydrocarbon supply chains. The scenarios advanced rely on readers' limited knowledge of marketing--crude grades (value, volume), refining capacities (MNC, national, H or V combinations), and distillates' applications demand, for example. Every "player" identified began diversifying production in the chain, like, more than a decade ago.

Add to these considerations of value bilateral FX and newly weighted and volatile, yet acknowledged, SDR credit; costs of marginal extraction from remote fields; fossil fuel demand destruction. OPEC + Russia are manipulate supply to PROP UP prices (spot, forward).

MBS undermined long-term, remedial KSA capital planning, eg. The IPO wtf, by entering a "stupid" war with the Houthi and untold indenture to US-UK pirates. Doubtless, US-UK envoys punked his personality ahh weaknesses.

US claims to market leader (share, vol, val) are overstated, given demand (or lack of) for refined heavy crude (N.A. "tar sand" reservoirs) and LNG buyers. US market position is weak. That's why POTUS DOD predictably relies on military intervention to destroy competitors' P&E.

The "gordian knot" of geopolitical allegiance by petrodollar domination (hence GBP "currency manipulation") is quite tangled. But it doesn't make much sense anymore to draw conclusions from oblique G7 "virtue signaling."

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Aug 20th, 2019 at 04:36:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know very little about the state of refining capacity, but the rational explanation that I got for the Yemen war and the IPO was that KSA had been faking the reserves data for a long time. A Saudi without money is a Saudi without friends.
by generic on Tue Aug 20th, 2019 at 05:12:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is fracking a factor in the Middle East? It certainly rejuvenated the US oil and gas industry.
by asdf on Wed Aug 21st, 2019 at 02:17:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know, but it didn't make any money.
Former Shale Gas CEO Says Fracking Revolution Has Been 'A Disaster' For Drillers, Investors | naked capitalism

"The shale gas revolution has frankly been an unmitigated disaster for any buy-and-hold investor in the shale gas industry with very few limited exceptions," Schlotterbeck, who left the helm of EQT last year, continued. "In fact, I'm not aware of another case of a disruptive technological change that has done so much harm to the industry that created the change."

So who knows if it would help solve the KSA's problems.
by generic on Wed Aug 21st, 2019 at 07:13:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've come to think about it more as financial engineering than normal engineering. Loosing on every sale, but making it up on volume. Fracking has a horizon of about three years till production craters yet none of it will make money unless oil prices rise significantly. And they just keep drilling. It's even less likely than Uber's flying robot taxis or anything Elon Musk keeps ranting about. For all I know the material resources of our society are handed out on the basis of winning the coke line race on Epstein's rape island.

But to come back to fracking in the KSA: No idea about the geology, but I'd assume the enormous amounts of water that would require might be prohibitive. And even if they go for it, because nothing matters I'd expect they'd need the IPO first. A fraud of the scale of fracking in the middle of the Saudi desert would need a lot of money boys on board to not be laughed out of the room.

by generic on Wed Aug 21st, 2019 at 07:49:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not an expert on fracking either, but, Saudi Arabia has been employing both secondary and tertiary recovery methods in the Ghawar field to date. Tertiary recovery seems to be CO2 gas injection.

Given that lots of the water that comes out of wells is salt water, it is possible that they could use salt water to do the fracking. That might require somewhat different chemistry. But the problem of making money remains. If there is sufficient demand destruction over the next decade then fracking might never be cost effective. But if demand holds it might be at some point. I am hoping for the former on account of the environmental effects.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Aug 21st, 2019 at 07:05:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is fracking a factor in the Middle East?

Not really.

The reality is the KSA enjoys market power by dint of (1) actual reserve vol (B/D delivered) and imagined reserve vol, (2)producer combination (OPEC + Russia), (3) government combination (domestic "autocracy"), combined operating expertise (industrial, financial, geopolitical R&D), and (4) pricing power independent of complementary industry operators--so-called "swing producers", wildcatters or "independent" MNCs. They are price takers. Since The Great Disenfranchisement, OPEC embargo (Proof of Concept), their crude attempts to disrupt supply chain management, represented and led by the KSA, are legend.

Here is perennial, proverbial verse from the trades. Ghawar vs. Permian Basin: Is There Even a Comparison? Sure. SWOT.

The KSA purported interest in "fracking" (heavy crude extraction technique) from domestic reserves is academic. Anyone besides me recall hysterical Anglo-merican press reactions from "boom" to and bust of horizontal rigs orchestrated by the KSA? The top of the market (P > R-C) was just 5 years ago.

OPEC "ceded no ground in their battle for market share amid a supply glut"

That is, stories about a KSA "fracking boom" recently popularized in N.A. (principal KSA antagonist) are not only propaganda but speculative proposals to "revive" investment in  high-risk ventures which failed. Here is an example in the Globe and Mail --remote organ of Alberta tar sands marketing down the Mississippi to US refineries. Note reference dates of KSA shale R&D, beginning 2011.

Oil and gas rig counts, oil and gas prices (spot, forward, retail), and chart porn: What's the correlation? Uninterrupted supply of trash talk.

Here's a sample description of US rig operators' current debt position.
Here's a sample description of current US refinery capacity and utilization

Diversification in the industry does not imply diversification of the industry.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu Aug 22nd, 2019 at 03:24:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Meanwhile, an orgy of over-production is taking place in the Marcellus Shale.", 2015

"Chasing profit" is one of the greatest weaknesses (W in SWOT) of Anglo Diseased imagination. Predictable tho' it be, I don't doubt OPEC cointel was fraught with uncertainty while the plan (Proof of Concept II) unfolded. Now here we are.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu Aug 22nd, 2019 at 03:50:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"price of everything and value of nothing."
~ Oscar, The Grouch

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Thu Aug 22nd, 2019 at 03:53:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Saudi Arabia has not needed fracking. It still has decades of production left in the Ghawar field where it has been employing secondary recovery, water flooding, and tertiary recovery, CO2 injection. Saudi Arabia HAS recently discovered some tight rock formations that could be exploited by fracking, but tapping these reserves at this time would just reduce the overall financial yield of total Saudi oil production. If prices go back above $100/bbl that would be a different matter.

Saudi Arabia is considering fracking for the Jafurah play at the southeast end of the Ghawar oil field, but for the production of natural gas, which Saudi could employ in place of oil for many domestic uses, thus, in effect, increasing the amount of oil available for export from Saudia Arabia.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 22nd, 2019 at 04:32:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Need to know but not mission critical"
~ Michael Porter

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Aug 23rd, 2019 at 12:10:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
TransCanada and Enbridge in Bakken battle, 2010
TRANSCANADA and Enbridge, Canada's heavyweight pipeline companies, are engaged in their latest jousting contest as they try to secure a dominant role in carrying oil from the Bakken shale formation to markets in the US. ... The prize is control over oil flows from a formation that has attracted a swarm of explorers, many of them little known outside their own households. The Bakken straddles the US-Canada border, between Saskatchewan and North Dakota/Montana.

Although ignored in Saskatchewan by Canada's top producers and largely bypassed in North Dakota, except by Williams and Marathon Oil, the Bakken play is further proof that technology can squeeze more out of rocks in a region thought to have passed its best-before date.

TC Energy
The Canadian portion of the pipeline runs from Hardisty, Alta., east into Manitoba where it turns south and crosses the border into North Dakota. From there, it runs south through South Dakota to Steele City, Neb., where it splits - one arm running east through Missouri for deliveries into Wood River and Patoka, Ill., with the other running south through Oklahoma to Cushing and onward to Port Arthur and Houston, Texas.
Nebraska court upholds state's approval of [Keystone XL] path, 2019
The Nebraska Supreme Court upheld the decision of regulators who voted in November 2017 to greenlight a route through the state. The court's decision was a victory for the $8 billion project, which has been mired in lawsuits and regulatory hearings since it was proposed in 2008.
Attorneys for the opponents argued that TC Energy's application with the commission was valid only for its preferred route, and the company formerly known as TransCanada could seek approval only for one route at a time. Nebraska state attorneys disputed that claim, saying that the commission's decision complied with the law and was in the public's interest.
If completed, the pipeline would carry oil from Canada through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, where it would connect to an existing pump station in Steele City, Nebraska. From there it would continue through Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas until it reaches Gulf Coast refineries. Business groups and some unions support the project as a way to create jobs and reduce the risk of shipping oil by trains that can derail.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Aug 23rd, 2019 at 08:38:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How Europe's war on plastics is affecting petrochemicals
Enough to dent global oil demand? Not quite, according to the IEA, which points to petrochemicals - chiefly plastics - as "the largest source of growth in oil use" in the coming decade.
For the oil industry, plastics are therefore seen as a safe haven, as well as a key source of diversification.

"The oil industry is looking for its next growth driver and the petrochemical industry is a key market for oil demand growth," says Rob Gilfillan, head of films and flexible packaging at Wood Mackenzie, a consultancy.
Substances that are most exposed to the backlash include ethylene and propane, which are used for plastic bags and packaging.

The two most common petrochemical classes are olefins (including ethylene and propylene) and aromatics (including benzene, toluene and xylene isomers). Oil refineries produce olefins and aromatics by fluid catalytic cracking of petroleum fractions ...
Demand for polyolefin, which goes into packaging films and polyester, is also expected to take a hit at some point.
2019: What's Behind Saudi Arabia's New Downstream Strategy?
downstream d'oh
2017-2018: Refineries and feedstock worldwide
"It owns and operates the largest oil refinery in the US, the 630,000-bpd Port Arthur plant in Texas, through its wholly owned subsidiary Motiva."
2016: Refining and derivatives of crude oil: a new game between Riyadh and Tehran
"competitive gap"
2015: The largest producer of polyolefin, accounting for 56 percent, in the Middle East
2014: "Some view us as 'fly over land' and don't pay attention to the potential."

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Aug 27th, 2019 at 04:29:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Quite a long article. One curious omission is the Saudi debacle in Yemen. The Houthis have now actually taken territory inside KSA and have shown they have the capacity to hit targets up to 1200km inside the country.  While I find the take on MoA overly triumphant the situation is dire for the coke prince.
Many of the points raised in the article directly relate to that conflict: The guarantee from Pakistan is in doubt, they refused to have any part in the Yemen conflict, the Saudi deficit is to a large extent used on the war. It also fails to mention that the UAE's interests are mainly confined to the South around Aden while the KSA wants the region near its borders. It's a valid strategic move for the UAE to fully support the separatists in the south and let the Saudi's fail on their own. UAE drawdown in Yemen raises hopes of ceasefire this year - Reuters
Abu Dhabi said its decision to remove troops and hardware deployed for an offensive last year on Hodeidah was taken more than a year ago in coordination with Riyadh.

But the UAE remains part of the coalition command structure, will continue to back some 90,000 Yemeni troops it has armed and trained, and will maintain counter-terror operations in Yemen, a diplomat and a Gulf source said.

The coalition's limited military gains have been achieved by UAE-backed Yemeni forces that seized the southern port of Aden, now the headquarters of the government, and some coastal towns. The Houthis control Sanaa, Hodeidah and most urban centers.

They would be happy with Aden and the islands they stole.
There is also little prospect of anyone saving them. Even leaving the US aside, the "major" European are a mess. Neither the Macron nor the Boris regime have the legitimacy to spare to get further involved in an already unpopular war. An even the US senate tried to defund it.
by generic on Tue Aug 20th, 2019 at 09:38:00 AM EST
Hormuz mission puts relationship with US under pressure; former commander warns of request | Dutch VK |

Now that the government has to take the plunge about participating in a maritime mission in the Strait of Hormuz, it threatens to become a symbol of the growing gap between the US and Europe. Also in the Netherlands, prominent voices are now turning against military action under American command.

The protection of the free passage through the Strait of Hormuz - where ships have been attacked in recent months - has become the subject of geopolitical rivalry and disagreement between Western allies this summer. The American plan was welcomed in Europe, where even alternative plans emerged. The Netherlands reacted "with benevolence", but former commander of the armed forces Dick Berlijn today turned against the participation in an American mission in the Volkskrant.

According to Berlin, this seems to be primarily intended to exert "maximum pressure" on Iran, and is part of a policy that Europe, as a proponent of maintaining the nuclear agreement with Iran, strongly disagrees with. "I don't think we should participate in an operation by the Americans that we absolutely don't know what's going to happen there. What if there is a provocation and America sees that as a license to wage war on a large scale? "

Former Foreign Minister Ben Bot is also "extremely hesitant" about participating in a mission "to solve a problem created by the US itself by stepping out of the nuclear agreement." By joining the American side, the Netherlands is sending out "a strange signal". "The Americans are forcing allies into something that nobody wants at the moment."


Dutch Commander Dick Berlijn
Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Tue Aug 20th, 2019 at 10:32:21 AM EST
To be clear, I see no sign that Netherlands has agreed to participate in a US led naval effort in the Gulf. Do you have evidence to the contrary?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Aug 20th, 2019 at 04:07:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Decision has been posponed ... after summer reces Mark Rutte must make a choice: offend the president of a great nation or comply. It would be a stake through the heart of any political career beyond the EU. Mark has ambition ... 😠 a crucial week.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Wed Aug 21st, 2019 at 04:49:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ever since the Malaysian airliner was shot out of the sky above the Ukraine in July 2014, Mark has done extremely well ... Obama/Trump - leash - dog.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Wed Aug 21st, 2019 at 04:54:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Long Range Attack On Saudi Oil Field Ends War On Yemen
Moon of Alabama, Aug. 17, 2019

Well, logically, perhaps, but not formally as yet.

Today Saudi Arabia finally lost the war on Yemen. It has no defenses against new weapons the Houthis in Yemen acquired. These weapons threaten the Saudis economic lifelines. This today was the decisive attack:

    Drones launched by Yemen's Houthi rebels attacked a massive oil and gas field deep inside Saudi Arabia's sprawling desert on Saturday, causing what the kingdom described as a "limited fire" in the second such recent attack on its crucial energy industry.
    The Saudi acknowledgement of the attack came hours after Yahia Sarie, a military spokesman for the Houthis, issued a video statement claiming the rebels launched 10 bomb-laden drones targeting the field in their "biggest-ever" operation. He threatened more attacks would be coming.

Houtis appear to be formally allied with Iran now, but the drones are assembled in Yemen.
The drones and missiles the Houthi use are copies of Iranian designs assembled in Yemen with the help of Hizbullah experts from Lebanon. Four days ago a Houthi delegation visited Iran. During the visit Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for the first time publicly admitted that the Houthi have Iran's support:

"I declare my support for the resistance of Yemen's believing men and women ... Yemen's people... will establish a strong government," state TV quoted Khamenei as saying in a meeting with the visiting chief negotiator of the Houthi movement Mohammed Abdul-Salam.

    Khamenei, who held talks for the first time in Tehran with a senior Houthi representative, also called for "strong resistance against the Saudi-led plots to divide Yemen", the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

    "A unified and coherent Yemen with sovereign integrity should be endorsed. Given Yemen's religious and ethnic diversity, protecting Yemen's integrity requires domestic dialogue," he said, TV reported.

It remains to be seen how effectively the Houtis can conceal their assembly site and protect their supply chain. To the extent they can the wheels have just come off MBS' war machine. Time will tell.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 22nd, 2019 at 03:09:37 AM EST
This is the first but by no means the last Do It Yourself drone attack.  If the Houtis had known what the they doing, used industrial strength .... 50 kilos of C4 make Big Bang ... drones, and had adequate Command and Control they would have done a number on the Saudis.

Expect More & Better of this in the coming decades.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Aug 25th, 2019 at 07:55:55 PM EST
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