Abu Ghaith, arrested by the US March 7, after his release by Iran, shown alongside Bin Laden in October 7, 2001 video after 9/11 attacks (credit: Hurriyet)
Is Tehran serious about nuclear negotiations with the P5+1?
If Tehran wants an agreement, how might they demonstrate good faith to Washington? Consider the following:
In the month before the recent round of negotiations held in Almaty, Kazakhstan on February 26 and 27, Iran released into neighboring Turkey Osama Bin Laden’s brother-in-law, Mr. Suleiman Abu Ghaith. The Islamic Republic of Iran had been detaining him since his capture some 11 years ago, when he entered Iran along with other top Al Qaeda leaders to escape the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. His precise date of release into Turkey is not clear, however, according to the English-language Turkish paper, Hürriyet, he was arrested by Turkish authorities in an Ankara “luxury hotel” on a “tip from the CIA.” Turkey then held him for “33 days” before deporting him to Jordan on March 1, and he was arrested by the U.S. on March 7. Continue reading
Posted in Germany, international relations, Iran nuclear, Persian Gulf, Resource conflicts, Sanctions, The USA
Tagged 9/11, Abu Ghaith, Al Qaeda, Bin Laden, Iran, John Kerry, Jordan, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Turkey, United States
Deutsche Welle, the German international TV service, interviewed me on the
legacy of Hugo Chavez on their live evening news broadcast Journal from Berlin. I tried to relate two, strikingly contradictory aspects of President Chavez legacy:
The outpouring of sincere affection for him from the poor and many others in Caracas, which the world is witnessing, as the embodiment of their liberating political awakening. And, in contrast, the utter shambles in which Hugo Chavez, as a practical political leader of 14 years, left the Venezuelan state and economic institutions, including PDVSA. My segment comes at 4:08 minutes into the video stream here:
Posted in Chavez, Chavez legacy, Chavezsuccession cancer, Germany, Hugo Chávez, Institutions and rule of law, PDVSA, Venezuelan Democracy, Venezuelan elections, Venezuelan weak institutions
Tagged Berlin, Caracas, Deutsche Welle, Hugo Chávez, PDVSA, United States, Venezuela
Groundbreaking, PetroChina-CNPC refinery for PDVSA heavy oil. It is to be China’s largest. (April 2012)
Over the past few weeks, I have been looking at the state of the Venezuelan-Chinese oil alliance that Hugo Chavez has so fervently championed. The picture that emerges is not what one might expect. Here is an overview, in qualitative terms. [Correction: I originally wrote Ramirez reported that PDVSA produced "60,000" new barrels of Faja oil in 2013. He actually said "20,000".]
A. Structural Changes – Vertical Integration with China
Till now, commentators have looked primarily at the obligations of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (BRV) to send oil to China to repay Beijing’s huge loans. However, there are major changes afoot in the structure of this relationship, no matter who succeeds Hugo Chavez. Developments on the ground in both countries show an energy infrastructure buildup will soon bring significant cross-border vertical integration. Soon, Venezuelan oil will not be shipped to China simply to fulfill financial-and-contractual obligations, but also for locked-in infrastructural reasons.
All indications are that the Chinese side is actively fulfilling the obligations it entered into ca. five years ago (esp. December 2007) to build oil tankers, pipelines and refineries in China in order to import and process Venezuelan heavy crude.
Posted in Chavez, Chavezsuccession cancer, China, Faja of the Orinoco, heavy oil, Hugo Chávez, PDVSA, U.S. oil, Uncategorized
Tagged Heavy crude oil, Hugo Chávez, oil sector, People's Republic of China, Petróleos de Venezuela, Rafael Ramírez, United States
What are the factors driving up the price of oil? Some cite fundamentals, others over-active speculation,
Persian Gulf & Middle East (UTex Lib. 2008)
and there are certainly major geopolitical issues in OPEC‘s Mideast and North African (MENA) member states–which is what this post is about.
The Present Saudi Pumping Surge is a Key Element of the US & EU Iran Sanctions Strategy
It is certain that the Iran confrontation will only intensify as the mid-summer sanctions deadline approaches. By July, Washington and the EU hope to significantly curtail Iran’s ability to export oil. In this situation, it is perhaps surprising that prices have not gone higher.
This past week, the normally understated Economist, while noting the Saudis’ extraordinary efforts to pump excess capacity, nevertheless warned that the Iran crisis could trigger a worst-ever oil shock:
Posted in China, Economic Crisis, Euroepen Union, international relations, Iran nuclear, Iran sanctions, OPEC, Persian Gulf, Resource conflicts, Sanctions, The USA, U.S. oil, Uncategorized
Tagged China, Iran, Middle East, Obama, OPEC, Saudi, Saudi Arabia, United States
Misinterpretations of China´s Opposition in 2010 and 2012
(Continued from Monday, 13 Feb 2012) The last time the Obama Administration wanted new sanctions on Iran, in 2010, Beijing started out loudly opposed, threatening to block the sanctions at the U.N., something Beijing had never before seriously threatened.
President Obama thanked Vice Premier Xi for China's support on Iran oil sanctions. NYT photo by Doug Mills, 14Feb12.
Posted in China, Energy and Environment, international relations, Iran nuclear, Iran sanctions, Persian Gulf, Resource conflicts, The USA, Uncategorized
Tagged Beijing, China, Iran, Sanctions against Iran, United Nations Security Council, United States, Xi Jinping
(Edited, 20 Jan.) President Ahmadinejad of Iran visited Venezuela on January 9, and then three of President Chavez’ closest Latin American allies, to search for help. His tour was part of a flurry of diplomacy in the New Year leading up to the imposition of severe new U.S. sanctions on Iran’s ability to export oil, beginning in June.
Presidents Ahmadinejad and Chavez in Caracas (Photo: El Universal)
While these two presidents met in Caracas, U.S. Treasury Secretary Geithner was visiting South Korea, Japan and China, and other U.S. officials were Continue reading
Posted in Chavez, China, Euroepen Union, Gaddafi, Hugo Chávez, international relations, Libya, OPEC, PDVSA, The USA, U.S. oil, Uncategorized, Venezuela diplomacy
Tagged Chavez, Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Middle East, Nuclear program of Iran, Persian Gulf, United States, Venezuela
President Santos of Colombia recently went to Caracas where he and PresidentChavez signed a letter of commitment for the ”Binational Project on the Venezuela-Colombia Oil Pipeline” to run 3,000 km. from Venezuela’s Faja heavy-oil region, west across Colombia to the Pacific port of Tumaco. (El Universal and El Universal). After many disappointments in recent years in collaborations with PDVSA, Latin American presidents haven’t endorsed many joint projects lately. Nevertheless, Santos was beside himself with enthusiasm after the five-hour meeting on 28 November, declaring ”Wherever we’ve mentioned this, people’s eyes open wide.” (Reuters)
Let’s look at some data to see if Santos and Chavez are really onto somehing here. Continue reading
Posted in Chavez, China, Economic Crisis, Energy and Environment, Faja of the Orinoco, heavy oil, Hugo Chávez, international relations, PDVSA, Resource conflicts, U.S. oil, Uncategorized, Venezuela diplomacy
Tagged China, Colombia, Evo Morales, Latin America, Pacific Ocean, Panama Canal, pipeline, Santos-Chavez, United States
Leopoldo López, former Mayor of Chacao, Caracas
(Note: this post was expanded and some corrections made 23 Sept. Also, Part B will treat the “oil angle” – what are the policies of opposition candidates H. Capriles, P. Pérez and L. López as compared to the Chavista policies on PDVSA and on spending the nations’ oil income?)
This past week, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights overturned the administrative disqualification (inhabilitación) of Venezuelan opposition politician Leopoldo López from running as an electoral candidate. (see: decision of the Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, and press release from Lopez’ organization. )
What might be the effect on the October 2012 election? In polls till now, Lopez has run third behind top-runner Henry Capriles, his former political ally and governor of Miranda State, and behind Pablo Pérez, the governor of Zulia State. The Chávez administration has been actively shaping who may run for the opposition ever since President Chavez’ first electoral loss, in the December 2007 plebiscite. This decision is clearly a setback for this policy.
Posted in Chavez, corruption, Henry Capriles, Hugo Chávez, Human Rights, Institutions and rule of law, Leopoldo López, Maracaibo, PDVSA, Uncategorized, Venezuela update, Venezuelan Democracy, Venezuelan elections, Zulia
Tagged American Convention on Human Rights, Government, Henrique Capriles Radonski, Hugo Chávez, Human rights, Human Rights and Liberties, Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Leopoldo López, Manuel Rosales, Miranda (state), Petróleos de Venezuela, United States, Venezuela, Zulia
First, here is an outline of this and the next three or four blogs on this topic:
I. Changes on the Venezuelan side that are enhancing the Chinese role:
a. Chavez’ recent interest in increasing national oil production
b. The existential crisis Chavismo faces from the slow collapse of dysfunctional state institutions, civil infrastructure, and nationalized enterprises
II. Changes on China’s side that enhance its role in Venezuela:
a. China has now loaned Venezuela so much money, and Venezuela so badly needs continued Chinese financing (lately it also feels a need for managerial and technical assistance), that Beijing has been able to insist Caracas not only begin to come through on long-awaited heavy-oil contracts, but that it also comply with certain geo-political and fiscal-accountability conditions. A couple of these are pretty amazing.
I. Changes on the Venezuelan side enhancing the Chinese role: a. Chavez’ new interest in increasing national oil production
One reason for China’s deepening influence in Venezuela is that PDVSA‘s president and energy minister, Rafael Ramirez, is no longer alone in insisting that PDVSA’s level of production has to rise. President Chavez now seems to have gotten behind the need to increase national production. If the price of oil falls significantly (many feel six months at an average of $60/barrel would be ruinous) and PDVSA’s exports per day have not risen to compensate, Venezuela will be in real trouble. Venezuela is extraordinarily dependent on imported goods, from food to machinery for which dollars are needed; and it also must keep up payments to foreign bond holders, for which a steady stream of dollars are also needed. Chavez and Ramirez have every reason to expect that the world’s economic woes will lead to a decrease in oil demand over the next year or two, and this of course can lead to significantly lower prices. These fears were not apparent in the recent past. It has been more or less a tenent of Chavista faith at elite-and-professional levels that the price of oil will never again fall significantly. I have been told this many times. Continue reading
Posted in Chavez, China, corruption, Economic Crisis, Faja of the Orinoco, heavy oil, international relations, PDVSA, Resource conflicts, The USA, Venezuela diplomacy, Venezuela update
Tagged Bolivarianism, Caracas, Chavismo, China, Energy, Eni, Heavy crude oil, Hugo Chávez, La Campiña, peak oil, Petróleos de Venezuela, Rafael Ramírez, States of Venezuela, United States, Venezuela
Major Chinese Faja heavy-oil-production contracts had not materialized till now. Why not?
(This is continued from Part I) On the one hand, technical reasons would be given against closing deals with the Chinese. For example, it was thought by some in PDVSA that Chinese companies lacked the technology to efficiently implement the refineries needed to upgrade Venezuela‘s extra-heavy oil to a grade light enough to enable it to be accepted by foreign refineries. On this excuse, some top PDVSA executives had pressed Chinese firms to focus on making joint proposals together with, say, Total of France. This was because Total had already proven the quality of its upgrader-refinery technology in one of the four proof-of-principle projects foreign companies had implemented during the previous government’s apertura period. (The apertura was the liberal “opening” of the oil sector to significant Continue reading
Posted in Chavez, China, corruption, Economic Crisis, Faja of the Orinoco, heavy oil, Institutions and rule of law, international relations, PDVSA, Resource conflicts, The USA, Venezuela diplomacy, Venezuela update
Tagged Chavismo, China, Heavy crude oil, Hugo Chávez, Petróleos de Venezuela, States of Venezuela, United States, Venezuela