Saudi-initiated confrontation with Iran nears a danger point

Oil, oil and more oil

Saudi Arabia’s drastic decision to behead the Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr marks a point of no return in the bitter Sunni-Shia conflict engulfing the region. It is a dangerous escalation in the Kingdom’s struggle with Iran for regional hegemony.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has vowed swift and harsh revenge, promising to bring down the Saudi dynasty in short order to avenge this “medieval act of savagery”.

Brent crude jumped to a three-week high of $38.91 a barrel as traders began to price in the first flickers of political risk. Roughly a fifth of global oil supply passes through the Strait of Hormuz, where tankers would in extremis have to run the gauntlet past Iranian warships…

Helima Croft, from RBC Capital Markets, said investors have yet to wake up to the full danger. “If we’d had scenes five years ago of the Saudi embassy in flames in Tehran there would have been a big move in the price, but right now there is so much over-supply and people just seem to think this is all noise. They have yet to get their heads around what can go wrong,” she said.

The risk for the Saudis is that the execution of Sheikh Nimr for what is essentially peaceful political protest ignites a long-simmering revolt by an aggrieved Shia minority, who make up 15% of the population and are sitting on top of the giant Saudi oil fields in the Eastern Province. There were violent protests in the Sheikh’s home-town of Qatif on Monday, with at least one protestor shot dead by police…

Ali al-Ahmed, director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs, said the mass executions have set in motion a fateful chain of events that nobody can now control. “It will likely trigger a bloody civil war that won’t end until the Saudi monarchy ceases to exist. This cycle of violence will not spare anyone or anything, including the coveted oil installations,” he said…

The Kingdom is more vulnerable today as it bites the bullet on austerity, slashing subsidies in an assault on the cradle-to grave welfare net. Crumbling oil revenues have forced it to scrap the social contract that has kept a lid on dissent for decades…

There’s a fair piece of the article that sounds more like TELEGRAPH than Croft. If we’re lucky, we might catch an interview with her on TV from the UK or North America. Incredibly knowledgeable; but, not as likely to leap off into conservative wishful thinking as the TELEGRAPH.

American ISIS

American ISIS

Militia types truly are the American equivalent of ISIS jihadists. Confidence only in the force of arms to achieve political ends that even they must recognize are decades out of touch with the rest of this nation.

Okinawa still fighting to get out from under the Japan-US “Security” Treaty

Okinawa officials have filed a lawsuit against the central Japanese government in a new bid to block the slated construction of a U.S. military base in the prefecture’s Henoko region.

“We will do whatever it takes to stop the new Henoko base,” Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga said during a press conference… “Okinawa’s argument is legitimate, and I believe that it will be certainly understood.”

Residents and officials charge that the Japanese government’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism…acted unlawfully when it suspended Onaga’s permit cancellation for work needed to move the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to its slated spot in Henoko…

The legal challenge is the latest effort to block the continued militarization of the southern Japanese island, which has long served as home base for more than half of the 50,000 American military service members in Japan, as well as over two-thirds of U.S. bases in the country. In late October, hundreds of Okinawa residents, largely elders, linked arms and physically blocked vehicles transporting building materials to the base.

Don’t the people of Okinawa have sovereignty? one protester, 70-year-old Katsuhiro Yoshida, told Japanese paper The Asahi Shimbun at the time. “This reminds me of the scenes of rioting against the U.S. military before Okinawa was returned to Japan (in 1972). Now we are facing off against our own government. It is so contemptible.”

Time and again the people of Okinawa revolt against domination of their island home by the US military, the capitulation of the old Japanese government in Tokyo. Treaties, secret and public, enacted 70 years ago should not control their destiny just because it suits Uncle Sugar’s imperial dreams in Asia.