Why is America So Deeply Involved in the Middle East? Energy? Geography?

What is the importance of the Middle East for the West? Is it energy resources to fuel the industrialized West? Or the key trade and shipping routes passing through the Persian Gulf and the Suez Canal used by ships to sail from Asia to Europe and North America?

Map of Greater Middle East (Morocco to Pakistan)

Why is oil, the most traded commodity, priced and traded in US Dollars? Does oil trade help maintain the US Dollar as the international trade and reserve currency and solidify US control of the global financial system, giving the US a very powerful tool to control the world?

What is the history of West's involvement in the Middle East? Can it be traced back to the fall of the Ottoman Empire in early 20th century?

When did the United States take over where Britain and France left off? Cold War? Iranian leader Mosaddegh's overthrow by CIA? Suez Crisis?

Energy revolution is in full swing in Silicon Valley with widespread use of solar panels, electric vehicles and storage batteries. Like other technologies emerging from Silicon Valley, this energy revolution will spread to the rest of the United States and the world in the next decades. How will it change US policy and posture in the Middle East?

Does the US involvement in the Middle East pose a threat to Pakistan? Is Pakistan next after Iran? Will Pakistan's nuclear weapons help keep Pakistan secure? What economic and other powerful tools does the United States have to put pressure on Pakistan or any other country?

ALKS host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com).


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Muslims in Silicon Valley

US Dollar as International Trade/Reserve Currency

Soleimani Was the Hardest of the Hardliner

Sykes-Picot Agreement in Middle East

Confessions of an Economic Hitman

Putin Challenges American Exceptionalism

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Clean Energy Revolution

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Iran-Saudi Conflict

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Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

PakAlumni Social Network


Riaz Haq said…
SIPRI Study: #China is now the 2nd largest arms producer in the world, behind the #UnitedStates but ahead of #Russia. #India is the world's 2nd biggest arms importer. #Pakistan is 9th largest arms importer. https://www.sipri.org/media/press-release/2020/new-sipri-data-reveals-scale-chinese-arms-industry

New research from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) suggests that China is the second-largest arms producer in the world, behind the United States but ahead of Russia. This research represents the most comprehensive picture of Chinese companies’ weapons production to date.

In the past, a lack of transparency has meant that the value of Chinese companies’ arms sales has been either unknown or difficult to reliably estimate. For this reason, the SIPRI Top 100—an annual ranking of the world’s 100 largest arms-producing and military services companies—has so far not been able to include Chinese arms companies.

Advances in reliable estimates
SIPRI has identified information from 2015–17 on the value of arms sales by major Chinese arms companies. The research looks at four companies for which credible financial information is available. The companies cover three sectors of conventional arms production: aerospace, electronics and land systems. With the increase of available data on these companies, it is now possible to develop reasonably reliable estimates of the scale of the Chinese arms industry.

China has some of the world’s largest arms producers
Based on estimated arms sales in 2015–17, the four major Chinese arms companies chosen for the study can now finally be compared with the major arms companies from the rest of the world. In 2017, of the 20 largest companies in the SIPRI Top 100, 11 were based in the USA, 6 in Western Europe and 3 in Russia. If the four Chinese arms companies investigated in the study were included in the Top 100, they would all rank among the top 20, with combined estimated arms sales totalling $54.1 billion. Three of the companies would be ranked in the top 10.

The largest of the Chinese companies is Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), which with arms sales totalling $20.1 billion would rank sixth largest in the world. China North Industries Group Corporation (NORINCO), which would place eighth in the Top 100 with sales of $17.2 billion, is in fact the world’s largest producer of land systems.

Weapon production more specialized
Contrary to most other major global arms producers, Chinese arms companies specialize primarily in one arms production sector, for example AVIC produces mostly aircraft and avionics. Most of the large non-Chinese arms companies produce a wider range of military products across different sectors—covering aerospace, land systems and shipbuilding within one company.

For editors
These new estimates are most likely still an underestimate. A lack of transparency in the arms sales figures of Chinese arms companies continues to hinder a complete understanding of China’s arms industry. This new research, however, acts as an important scoping study that opens the possibility for further research and prepares the ground for a fuller estimate of Chinese arms sales.
Riaz Haq said…
A century-old treaty of Sèvres imposed on #Turkey still haunts the #Mediterranean. It prefigured the borders and political futures of #Israel, #Syria, #Lebanon, #Iraq. But it’s not remembered in the West as much as the infamous clandestine Sykes-Picot pact https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/08/10/treaty-sevres-erdogan-turkey/

The blueprint set out by the treaty had a lasting legacy, in part prefiguring the borders and political futures of countries like Israel, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. But it’s not remembered in the West as much as, say, the infamous clandestine Sykes-Picot pact, because of what followed in Turkey. Nationalists in the Ottoman ranks, led by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, rejected Sèvres and waged a series of wars that cast out the French, Greeks and Italians from Anatolia and compelled the Europeans to settle on new terms with the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, which defined Turkey’s modern borders. Nevertheless, the memory of colonial Western schemes to deprive Turkey of sovereignty — and the armed struggle needed to foil them — still stalks the Turkish political imagination.

“Sèvres has been largely forgotten in the West, but it has a potent legacy in Turkey, where it has helped fuel a form of nationalist paranoia some scholars have called the ‘Sèvres syndrome,’ ” wrote Nicholas Danforth, a historian of 20th-century Turkey, in a 2015 piece marking the 95th anniversary of the treaty’s signing. “Sèvres certainly plays a role in Turkey’s sensitivity over Kurdish separatism, as well as the belief that the Armenian genocide — widely used by European diplomats to justify their plans for Anatolia in 1920 — was always an anti-Turkish conspiracy rather than a matter of historical truth.”

The treaty looms even larger now. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has a penchant for posturing over historic symbols, began meeting toward the end of last year with the leader of the U.N.-backed government in Libya in a former palace of Ottoman sultans in Istanbul. In the aftermath of one of these sessions, Erdogan explicitly linked his government’s newly emboldened foreign policy to a moment of historical reckoning. “Thanks to this military and energy cooperation, we overturned the Treaty of Sèvres,” he said, hailing his country’s willingness to once more project power across the Mediterranean.

In the months since, Turkish drones and military support have helped the Tripoli-based government turn the tide of battle in Libya’s messy civil war. Erdogan, thanks to Libyan backing, has secured maritime exploration and potential oil drilling rights in the Eastern Mediterranean that put Turkey into a new tussle with other countries in the region, including Greece, Egypt, Cyprus and France. The new Turkish claims clash with those of Greece and Cyprus and flared long-running tensions among these troubled neighbors.

As Cold War bonds fade, older realities are coming to the fore. When Macron toured Beirut after the explosion last week, promising to help deliver a new political status quo for an infuriated Lebanese public, it was a reminder of the potency still of the French legacy in its former protectorate — and a welcome exercise of soft power for a president more tormented at home.
Riaz Haq said…
US Examines Whether #Saudi Nuclear Program Could Lead to Bomb Effort. #American Intelligence agencies are scrutinizing whether the kingdom’s work with #China to develop #nuclear expertise is cover to process uranium and move toward development of a weapon https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/05/us/politics/us-examines-saudi-nuclear-program.html?smid=tw-share

American intelligence agencies are scrutinizing efforts by Saudi Arabia to build up its ability to produce nuclear fuel that could put the kingdom on a path to developing nuclear weapons.

Spy agencies in recent weeks circulated a classified analysis about the efforts underway inside Saudi Arabia, working with China, to build industrial capacity to produce nuclear fuel. The analysis has raised alarms that there might be secret Saudi-Chinese efforts to process raw uranium into a form that could later be enriched into weapons fuel, according to American officials.

As part of the study, they have identified a newly completed structure near a solar-panel production area near Riyadh, the Saudi capital, that some government analysts and outside experts suspect could be one of a number of undeclared nuclear sites.

American officials said that the Saudi efforts were still in an early stage, and that intelligence analysts had yet to draw firm conclusions about some of the sites under scrutiny. Even if the kingdom has decided to pursue a military nuclear program, they said, it would be years before it could have the ability to produce a single nuclear warhead.

Saudi officials have made no secret of their determination to keep pace with Iran, which has accelerated since President Trump abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pledged in 2018 that his kingdom would try to develop or acquire nuclear weapons if Iran continued its work toward a bomb.

Last week, the House Intelligence Committee, led by Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, included a provision in the intelligence budget authorization bill requiring the administration to submit a report about Saudi efforts since 2015 to develop a nuclear program, a clear indication that the committee suspects that some undeclared nuclear activity is going on.

The report, the provision stated, should include an assessment of “the state of nuclear cooperation between Saudi Arabia and any other country other than the United States, such as the People’s Republic of China or the Russian Federation.”

An article in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday said that Western officials were concerned about a different facility in Saudi Arabia, in the country’s northwest desert. The Journal said it was part of a program with the Chinese to extract uranium yellowcake from uranium ore. That is a necessary first step in the process of obtaining uranium for later enrichment, either for use in a civilian nuclear reactor or, enriched to much higher levels, a nuclear weapon.

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