Posts Tagged ‘Middle East’

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Nefarious finance: recommended reading

April 3, 2014
  • Back in each other’s arms:  Iran’s financial relationship with Hamas “has returned to what it was,” says Iran’s shura council… more>>
  • The pro-Hamas Islamic charity IHH  is hinting that it will launch another Turkish-based, Mavi Marmara-style “peace flotilla”… more>>
  • Al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria has its own revenue sources and doesn’t feel the need to answer to Ayman al-Zawahiri… more>>
  • Smuggling gold to keep Iran in the black?  Prosecutors uncover a sanctions evasion crime ring in Turkey that may go all the way to Prime Minister Erdogan’s office… more>>
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U.S. energy boom the “biggest strategic game changer since we won World War II”

October 25, 2013

Going back to the Wall Street Journal‘s remarkable finding that the U.S. is now the world’s largest energy producer, Fox News hosted a great discussion with Steve Moore and KT McFarland about the economic and strategic implications of the shift.  Please watch especially for McFarland’s insights on what this means for global affairs:

H/t to CJR for finding the video link on YouTube!

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Energy security: the chokepoint risk factor

January 14, 2013

5 of 7 critical oil transit corridors are in Islamic world

Looking for another reason to support domestic energy production rather than heavily relying on the fragile political and security situation in the Middle East?  Energy independence from Arab oil isn’t just about reducing the flow of petrodollars to jihad—it’s about ensuring our energy needs are met regardless of the latest turmoil, attack, or unrest in the Islamic world.

This map and background from the U.S. Energy Information Administration should be enough to persuade most citizens that depending on stability in these regions of the world is an untenable proposition:

Shipping lanes for oil

World oil chokepoints for maritime transit of oil are a critical part of global energy security. About half of the world’s oil production moves on maritime routes.

Chokepoints are narrow channels along widely used global sea routes, some so narrow that restrictions are placed on the size of the vessel that can navigate through them. They are a critical part of global energy security due to the high volume of oil traded through their narrow straits.

In 2011, total world oil production amounted to approximately 87 million barrels per day (bbl/d), and over one-half was moved by tankers on fixed maritime routes. By volume of oil transit, the Strait of Hormuz, leading out of the Persian Gulf, and the Strait of Malacca, linking the Indian and Pacific Oceans, are two of the world’s most strategic chokepoints.

The international energy market is dependent upon reliable transport. The blockage of a chokepoint, even temporarily, can lead to substantial increases in total energy costs. In addition, chokepoints leave oil tankers vulnerable to theft from pirates, terrorist attacks, and political unrest in the form of wars or hostilities as well as shipping accidents that can lead to disastrous oil spills. The seven straits highlighted in this brief serve as major trade routes for global oil transportation, and disruptions to shipments would affect oil prices and add thousands of miles of transit in an alternative direction, if even available…

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Ten biggest terror finance news stories of 2012

December 31, 2012
  1. Taliban funding remains intact despite international sanctions
    Reports in 2012 revealed that the Taliban’s funding remains intact, that none of the Taliban’s assets have been blocked by U.S. sanctions, that the Taliban retains its taxing authority over Afghans, and that the UN sanctions only 18 percent of the Taliban’s provincial shadow governors in Afghanistan.
  2. Islamic charities remain top terror financiers
    It’s questionable to even call this “news,” but understanding the role of Muslim charities in funding jihad, of which we saw multiple examples throughout 2012, is the Rosetta stone to bankrupting terrorism.  Instances of Muslim charities behaving badly cropped up, and in some cases have worsened, in both in the Middle East and in the West this year.In the Islamic world, the Saudi charitable foundation IIRO, whose branches in Indonesia and the Philippines were previously blacklisted by the U.S. for funding terrorism, is opening seven new branch offices.  In Bangladesh, the chief of the terrorist organization Jamatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) revealed that Muslim Aid, WAMY, the Muslim World League, the Qatari Charitable Society, and the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society, are among the primary donors to his jihad.  Read the rest of this entry ?
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Government funds go to halal slaughterhouse

December 10, 2012

The state government of Victoria has given a halal abattoir a half million dollars to put more sheep to death under the knife of the Muslim slaughter man.  Along with the funding, an export license granted to the abattoir to ship halal meat to the Middle East has helped double the number of sheep it exports, according to ABC.  Surely, Australian taxpayers will be delighted to learn that their money is being given away to subsidize halal butchery:

Abattoir upgrades for halal sheep processing

By Lucy Barbour

Tuesday, 20/11/2012

A Victorian abattoir has received half a million dollars in funding from the State Government to expand its facilities at Stawell, in the state’s west.

The Frewstal abattoir will use the money to build a freezer room in the hope of increasing halal sheep meat exports to the Middle East.

General manager Greg Nicholls says most abattoirs are now using halal slaughter methods for both export and domestic product.

“You’ve got to be halal to be able to get rid of all your offal, and even though not all our meat goes to the Middle East, a lot of the offal does,” he said.

“To be able to find a market for those products, you’ve got to go down that track.”

What’s worse, as an accompanying radio report from ABC points out, is that about 80 percent of the meat sold domestically in Australia is halal, unbeknownst to consumers.  Without labeling or other disclosure requirements on the halal industry, Christians are unwittingly eating meat killed under recitation of a Muslim prayer, and animal rights advocates unknowingly eat the meat of animal killed in a brutal procedure.

Take a listen:

The halal food industry is a lot like the sharia finance sector and the Islamic charitable sector.  These sectors are used as vehicles to deepen the Islamization of Western cultures, and the profits are siphoned off for mysterious causes.

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Energy independence from Arab oil

December 9, 2012

A recent column by Tom Keane points out the tremendous growth in U.S. energy production thanks in large part to American innovation in hydraulic fracturing.  As he indicates, freedom from Middle East oil presents several benefits:

  • Reduced influence of OPEC
  • The risk of supply interruptions decreases
  • Military spending could decrease without jeopardizing security
  • Domestic economic/job growth

The purpose of independence isn’t necessarily about the price at the gas pump—that is a straw man set up by fans of foreign oil dependence and environmental extremism as a reason to halt progress toward energy freedom.

But let Keane tell it:

A new world of American energy independence

The United States is soon to be awash in oil and natural gas, positively brimming with the stuff whose scarcity and unreliability of supply has plagued us since the end of World War II. It is a remarkable, stunning turn of events — largely unforeseen just a few years ago yet now an imminent although still hard-to-believe reality. And the implications of this new reality will be dramatic too — almost all of them positive although not without some risks. Remember when the United States once trembled at the power of OPEC? In a short while, we may be running the thing.

Last month the well-respected International Energy Agency declared, “A new global energy landscape is emerging . . . redrawn by the resurgence in oil and gas production in the United States.” Within eight years, the America is expected to be the planet’s largest producer of oil. By 2030, we’ll be producing more than we need — exporting, not importing. The reason is technology. Techniques such as hydraulic fracturing have been invented and improved so that they can now economically unlock the vast stores of oil and natural gas across the middle of the country. The flyover states may finally start getting some respect.

It’s uncomfortable to admit this, but Sarah Palin had a point: The key to American energy independence is “drill, baby, drill” — or perhaps more correctly, “frack, baby, frack.”

Don’t count on this abundance making for cheaper gasoline, however. Oil is a global commodity, and, unless the United States decided to subsidize its price, it will still sell to the highest bidder. Nevertheless, the fears of supply disruptions and embargoes — remember the gas lines of 1973? — will largely disappear. Should some country decide to block the Strait of Hormuz, it’ll be other nations, not the United States, feeling the pain. (US law currently prohibits us from exporting oil. Even though it likely will be changed, we’ll still make sure our domestic needs are met first before shipping overseas.)

On the other hand, these newfound supplies may get us a cheaper military budget. Why is the United States so deeply involved in the Middle East but not in, say, Africa? Oil. For at least the last 60 years, its constant supply has been a paramount worry: without energy, the economy collapses. But that policy, while necessary, cost us blood, treasure, and integrity. Too often, we sacrificed our ideals to support a local strongman who could keep pipelines safe. And the wars, both far afield as well as attacks on our soil, have been a burden.

What happens when we no longer need Middle East oil? Foreign policy changes. Conflict is reduced, and our goals can, one hopes, become principled — less tarnished by economic exigencies, more focused on human rights.

There will be dramatic changes at home too. The states with oil reserves will see a huge bump in their economies (already shale-rich North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate in the country). The entire nation’s economy will benefit too. With energy supplies and prices abundant and stable, business will thrive.

There are risks, two of which are obvious. Fracking can contaminate underground water supplies (and uses lots of water to boot). That’s an issue of smart regulation, however. We already take huge risks with offshore drilling — BP oil, for example. Fracking’s potential impact is arguably less risky and also more manageable.

The other has to do with global climate change. The scarcity of oil (“peak oil” — the theory that supplies are about to diminish — is now, at least for this century, largely kaput) had the beneficial effect of driving us toward conservation and cleaner energy. With a glut of petrochemicals, will that push stop, causing greenhouse gas emissions to worsen? Possibly but not necessarily. The natural gas being extracted by fracking is actually cleaner than oil. Then too, every barrel of oil saved by conservation or alternative energy is a barrel sold overseas — meaning there’s an economic incentive for using renewables.

Those risks notwithstanding, our new world of energy should be a cause of great optimism. Many fear our time is over; the Great American Century finished. The renaissance of domestic oil and gas are of such magnitude, though, it may be another Great American Century is about to begin.

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Bahrain enlistments triple that of U.S.

May 14, 2012

As a proportion of their labor force, 3.3 percent of Bahrain’s men serve in the Bahraini armed forces while just 1 percent of America’s labor force serves in the U.S. military, according to 2009 data from the World Bank.  Bahrain’s trend line is shown in blue and the U.S. is in red in this chart depicting the data:

American and Bahraini soldier participation

Armed forces personnel (% of total labor force)
Data from World Bank, chart by Google

U.S. service levels have remained consistently under 2 percent for at least the last 20 years.  Bahrain’s has fluctuated anywhere from as “low” as 3 percent to a high of nearly 8 percent in 1995.

Do you think that when colonialism by Europe ended, or that as the U.S. reconsiders its involvement in the Middle East, that no military power would seek to fill the void caused by our departure?

These Islamic countries are addicted to military power—it helps them threaten Israel, to crackdown on their own populations, and to engage in perpetual border wars with jealous Arab neighbors.

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What matters to the Middle East

February 13, 2012

The U.S. State Department released a report in January on world military expenditures and arms transfers.  They present data up to 2005.

Military spending as a percentage of GDP is often dismissed by anti-American “peace” institutes who claim to be more concerned with total military spending.

But anybody who has ever put together a budget knows that you’re dealing with a finite amount of money to allocate across a variety of competing areas.  How much of a nation’s wealth are you willing to take and devote toward military spending?  Two percent?  Five percent?  Ten percent?  Your answer says something about your overall priorities, which is why the GDP measure is valid and important.

The U.S. is known for high military spending, but what is less widely known is the extent to which Islamic countries are willing to take the wealth of their people to commit it towards armies and weapons.  They use their military power to threaten the existence of Israel, which is forced to spend its resources on defenses in response.  The result?  On a GDP basis, the Middle East spends a larger portion of its wealth on the military than any other region on earth.

War spending by Islamic world

GDP-share equivalent of military expenditure by region, 1995 and 2005

As the report notes, “The share of the [Middle East] region’s summed GDPs to which its military spending was equivalent appears to have fallen from about 6.4% to about 4.5%, but remained the higher than that of any other region.”

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Muslims stealing from Jews raised few eyebrows

June 16, 2011

The Islamists and international Left have long protested the “theft” of land by Israel from the Arabs of the Palestinian territories.  However, they have been utterly silent on the property that Arab nations stole from the Jews that they kicked out of Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, Syria, etc., during the 20th Century.  Here’s the rundown from YNet back on May 15 (h/t EoZ):

‘A Jew shouldn’t control Muslims’

The Jews’ situation began deteriorating with the Arab national awakening, before the State of Israel’s establishment. “From a British mandate, Iraq turned into an autonomic state in 1932 and immediately began disinheriting the Jews,” says Yehuda.

“They weren’t accepted to schools and universities and were dismissed from jobs with all sorts of claims.”

Who led the restrictions?

“The Arab nationalists and the militant Muslims. Read the rest of this entry ?

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