Thursday, January 29, 2015


Under the guise of UN 'No Fly Resolution', the western powers bombed Libya, a totally illegal action, deposing and killing dictator Qaddafi on the streets of Tripoli, leaving the country fractured and in complete disarray. Libya has since fallen in the hands of a variety of terrorists.  

This is a prime example of a thoughtless, ill planned, ill executed foreign policy that not only destroyed Libya but also took the life of an American Ambassador.

For his part, Qaddafi had ruled Libya for over 40 years, he should have seen the clouds of change in the Middle East and called fair and free general elections and handed over power to an elected government. Had he done so, he may still be alive today. But then, regardless of what history shows us, dictators think they will rule forever.

The following article on the current state of affairs is taken from Al Jazeera English:

Libya: 'We're fed up with fighting'

Civilians are the first casualty in a conflict over power and resources.

Libyans in Tripoli's old city are worried about keeping financially afloat [Rebecca Murray/Al Jazeera]
Libyans in Tripoli's old city are worried about keeping financially afloat [Rebecca Murray/Al Jazeera]
Tripoli, Libya -  Amal, a mother of five children, crouches over a sewing machine within the maze of whitewashed alleys in Tripoli's dilapidated old city, its ancient walls abutting the Corinthia Hotel compound.
The light in her dingy tailor shop has been on for most of the day, a rarity for the impoverished neighbourhood, which has been plagued with hours-long electricity cuts, skyrocketing food prices and crime.
"We hear gun shots everyday and we are tired," said Amal, nostalgic for the security she says she had before Muammar Gaddafi's overthrow in 2011.
While Libya's two competing governments continue to battle over power, territory and the country's oil wealth, against the backdrop of controversial United Nations-brokered peace negotiations in Geneva, it's the ordinary Libyans across the country that are paying the highest price.
"Of course I'd be happy if the two governments were unified. But they want the power, money and the country, so I think this will be [only] resolved by fighting."
About 600 people have been killed in three months of heavy fighting between Libyan pro-government forces and Islamist groups in Libya's second-largest city, Benghazi, medical staff have said.
The high-profile attack on the luxury Corinthia Hotel in downtown Tripoli on Tuesday, which has been mostly empty in recent months except for a handful of guests and businessmen, is the latest ominous sign of Libya's slide into violence and economic chaos.
Fighters allied with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have claimed responsibility for the attack. The Tripoli-based "Libya Dawn" coalition, however, blamed Gaddafi loyalists instead, which essentially means former General Khalifa Haftar's forces, commonly known as "Operation Dignity", in the east of the country.
The country's two main forces realised they were in a stalemate, and that the fighting wasn't allowing either to gain a decisive upper hand without going after oil infrastructure.
Richard Mallinson, analyst, Energy Aspects
Libya has been sliding deeper into conflict since the 2011 uprising, with rival governments and powerful militias battling for control of its main cities and oil wealth.
Recent calls for a ceasefire have failed. Fighting continues to rage between Libya Dawn, affiliated with Prime Minister Omar al-Hassi and the General National Congress (GNC), and Operation Dignity forces led by Haftar, and allied with exiled Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni and the House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruk and Beida.
Battles in Benghazi and the east, in the west, around the oil-rich Gulf of al-Sidra, and in the southern town of Ubari, have forced an estimated 400,000 people to flee their homes, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.
In Libya's southern desert, at the vast Sharara oil field, capable of generating up to 300,000 barrels of oil a day, all production has grounded to a halt.
On November 5, when Libya Dawn forces from Misrata teamed up with local Tuareg fighters to wrest the facility from its Zintan and Tebu security guards, the Zintan forces blocked the oil pipeline to the Zawiyah refinery on the coast.
Last summer, Misrata militia seized Tripoli's international airport from the Zintan, and battles between them continue in the west, and between Libya Dawn and Operation Dignity forces around al-Sidra oil terminal to the east.
"The country's two main forces realised they were in a stalemate, and that the fighting wasn't allowing either to gain a decisive upper hand without going after oil infrastructure," said Richard Mallinson, an analyst with the UK consultancy Energy Aspects.
"That can only point to escalation once you've opened the door to assets and infrastructure. But what is unclear is whether each side has the military ability or international legitimacy to assert itself across the whole country," he said.
"That creates space for small and more extremist groups to thrive, which is a concern for regional stability."
Snipers in nearby Ubari have blocked the road into Sharara, and all supplies for the facility's skeleton crew have to be flown in. Gasoline is scarce and expensive, and can only be trucked to the oil field and Libya's southwestern towns across desert dunes.
Heavily subsidised by the government, gasoline officially costs 0.15 Libyan dinars ($0.11) per litre at the pump. But many petrol stations are rarely open, and black market gasoline prices in remote desert towns like Murzuq and Ghat run about seven times the cost, boosting the price on transport and goods.
"There is no gasoline here," said Abdullah Othman, a Tuareg community leader in the town of Ghat near the Algerian border. "So there is no electricity, no healthcare or town services."
After the revolution, Libya's oil production peaked at 1.6 million bpd. Now it hovers around 330,000 bpd, Mustafa Sanalla, the National Oil Corporation chairman, told Al Jazeera.
He estimates that around 70 percent of gasoline for domestic use is now imported.
Can talks bring peace to Libya?
The Central Bank of Libya has warned that total revenues last year were $15.5bn against $34.1bn in spending, leaving a $18.6bn deficit. The government has vowed to cut subsidies on petrol and food, and enact austerity measures on a population heavily dependent on government pay.
Many salaries remain unpaid, crowds shove each other at banks for cash withdrawals, and in some cases, money has to be flown across the desert to reach certain communities.
In the shadow of the historic Central Bank building on Tripoli's harbour is a collection of trading shops for gold and currency. The Libyan dinar has lost nearly half its value, plummeting to less than half a US dollar, while the cost of chunky gold bars has increased.
"To tell you the truth, nowadays I'm nervous about putting money in the bank," said Mustafa Badr, a currency trader. "But if people start to withdraw a lot, they could be robbed. Then this would become normal."
Down the block, Ali Nefatti, a 22-year-old student, works at a gold jewellery shop when he's not at the Tripoli University. He says business has been bad because the traditional jewellery, mostly worn at weddings, is not essential for people now.
"Each side needs the power, and so they will finish it by fighting," he sighed. "I'm going to work, get money and go abroad. Most of my friends want to go abroad. We are fed up with all the fighting. Everything is wrong here. We need security and we need peace."

Source:  Al Jazeera English

Friday, December 19, 2014


President Putin, picture courtesy

The decline of oil prices from $100 in mid 2014 to $57 now is no coincidence, nor does it have anything do with supply and demand as oil demand has certainly not halved in six months.

It is seriously suspected that oil prices are being manipulated by U.S. to crush Russia and to make them pay for re-possessing Crimea from Ukraine. When sanctions and all else failed, U.S. seems to have decided to hit Russia, where it hurts most - in the pocket. The Russian Ruble is in a free fall and despite a recent raise in Russian Central Bank rate from 10 to 17%, the Ruble is not even half its worth what it was a year ago.
According to some estimates, it is costing Russia around $70  a barrel to extract oil, if that is accurate, Russia is in net loss of $13 per barrel it produces and sells. This could hit Russian economy hard, inflation could sky rocket, post Soviet style bread lines could form again with possible loss of popularity for Putin from its current 85% level. And that is exactly what U.S. may be hoping to accomplish. Such a policy may have a short term impact, but long term, it could have a devastating effect on the world economy.
A desperate Putin with his back to the wall could adopt 'Destroy West' policy by turning off oil taps overnight to Western Europe, which is heavily dependent on Russian oil. The already fragile European economies will not be able to withstand such a shock and may go into recession or even a depression, which in turn would hit all the economies of the world, including that of the U.S. resulting in a 1930s style worldwide depression.
The Obama Administration needs to reign in its anti Russia hawks and think long and hard about the consequences such a policy. Better sense should prevail before the bear hits back with a vengeance.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Will the 2016 U. S. Presidential Election be between two dynastic candidates - Jeb Bush v Hillary Clinton?

(Photo courtesy the sleuthjournal)

The 2016 U.S. Presidential elections are less than two years away and by early 2016, front runner  candidates will begin to emerge. However, at this point in time, it seems that Jeb Bush (Republican) could be pitched against Hillary Clinton (Democratic).

However, 23 months in politics is a long time and one slip, one bad move, one un-thoughtful speech can derail a candidate and not all candidates have the capacity or resilience like candidate Barack Obama, who came back from the brink a couple of times and won the nomination of his party.

Jeb Bush is a credible candidate, he is the only Republican to have won two full terms as Governor of Florida. He is a moderate Republican and  may attract independent voters who now form the largest group in U.S. elections. Also, he is fluent in Spanish and his wife is from Mexico, which could be a major attraction to 17% Latino population in the U.S. But being pro immigration reform, he is not the darling of the ultra right wing Republicans who are hell bent on deporting 11 million illegal immigrants from U.S., so winning the party nomination may be a challenge, but if he looks like a winning candidate, the party will rally around him.

Other challengers will of course emerge from both parties, but more so from Republican than Democratic Party. Mitt Romney is still harboring Presidential ambitions, so are probably Marco Rubio (son of a Cuban), Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee and a couple of others. A black candidate by the name of Ben Carson, a Pediatric Neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins could also pose a serious challenge to Jeb Bush.

Ben Carson by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg
Dr. Ben Carson

Hillary Clinton is clearly the front runner in the Democratic Party and having lived in the White House for eight years and having successfully held the position of Secretary of State in President Obama's fist term, she has earned the right. However, a challenge could still come from Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is astute, very together and fully familiar with Government policy. She was part of President Obama's team that oversaw the economic recovery of U.S. after the 2008 crash. She is stickler for rules and regulations and has helped greatly in regulating the once wayward financial institutions. In 2012 she won the Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy, which was temporarily won by Republican Scott Brown after Kennedy's death. She is probably a better candidate than Hillary Clinton, but she does not have the grass root support of the party, so her nomination will be an uphill task.
Elizabeth Warren--Official 113th Congressional Portrait--.jpg

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Dynastic Politics
Jeb Bush is the son of former President George H. W. Bush and younger brother of former President George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton is the wife of former President Bill Clinton. Questions may arise about entitlement and dynastic politics. The voters in other countries i.e. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh & Sri Lanka are already questioning the value of dynastic politics. A case in point, the recent Indian elections, where dynastic politics was one of the factors in Congress Party's substantial defeat at the hands of BJP.

Monday, August 11, 2014

U.S. & Russia are both resposible for the mess in Ukraine. Canada should have stayed neutral in the conflict, restriction on its Agricultural exports to Russia will cost Canadian farmers $500 million+ a year.

The Ukraine is a mess and both United States & Russia are equally responsible. U.S. provided support and instigated rioting against a pro Russian but an elected Ukrainian President. This is part of super power supremacy game as under the garb of friendship, U.S. has been trying to encircle Russia by bringing in some of the former Soviet Union component states into Europe & NATO. Also, the plan to install missiles in Poland and overthrowing an elected Government in Ukraine are part of the same game.

Russia on its part has been opportunistic, first grabbing Abkhazia from Georgia, then Crimea from Ukraine. Russia knows what U.S. is trying to do and it is playing its own game in response to U.S. policies.

Europe is stuck in the middle and while U.S. has been trying to strong arm it against Russia, but as their energy needs are largely met by Russia they are not in a position to be too gung ho. Germany alone imports 30% of its energy needs from Russia and if Russia starts to turn off the tap, not only European, but the world economy could collapse. Fortunately, Russia is not that position yet. In about three years, when their new pipelines will be built to China, they may be able to do just that.

Meanwhile, Canada's Harper Government has taken an untenable hardline on Russia. Both Stephen Harper and his rather immature Foreign Minister - John Baird have been posturing aggressively. Getting involved in super power games is a folly as it will harm Canada's interests. By staying neutral, Canada could have played an important role in bringing Russian & Ukrainian leaders to the negotiating table to find a peaceful solution.

By slapping sanctions on Russia, perhaps the Harper Government forgot that Canada exports a fair bit to Russia. The retaliatory sanctions on Canada will cost $500m+ a year to the Canadian farmers and this just the start. If Harper Government keeps its posture, Russia could tighten the screws further. Mr. Harper is jeopardizing Canada's already fragile economy. Also, the failure of this Government to build any oil pipelines to Eastern or Western Canada is placing Canada at a serious disadvantage. Had a pipeline been built to the Eastern shores, we could have replaced Russia as an oil supplier to Europe.

Canada's history shows that by staying neutral, it has contributed a great deal more and helped end conflicts, which is  why Canada's stature was so high in the world. Sadly, Mr. Harper lowered Canada's prestige in the world.

Sunday, June 29, 2014



MOHAMED FAHMY sentenced to seven years imprisonment for fair reporting.


FIELD MARSHALL (self appointed) Abdel Fattah al-Sisi