Archive for ‘Iran’

July 6, 2011

Is OPEC Headed for Collapse?

Opec Organization of the Petroleum Exporting C...

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By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi:

In the comments section of one of my previous articles, a reader asked me whether the collapse of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC — responsible for 40% of the world’s petroleum output) is likely in the near future. Fair question, especially in light of the currently dysfunctional state of the Arab League. Are we really about to witness the end of a monopoly on global oil prices?

In short, it is too difficult to predict either way. I discussed earlier how the  Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC ) is starting to replace the Arab League as an inter-Arab political body and Sunni axis against Iran, shifting the onus of decision-making to the Gulf region. However, some of OPEC’s most prominent members — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and Kuwait — are also part of the GCC, and it is notable that neither Syria nor Egypt, both of whose states of political turmoil have been responsible for the Arab League’s decline, is a major exporter of petroleum or member of OPEC. Thus, the growing importance of the GCC as opposed to the diminishing relevance of the Arab League is unlikely to have a major impact on OPEC’s future.

What is more interesting, however, is the conflict within OPEC between a bloc of states led by Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members, led chiefly by Iran and Venezuela, on the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) decision to tap into “strategic” (or “excess”) stockpiles of petroleum in an attempt to boost output, provide relief for high oil prices, and to stabilize the global economy. The IEA hopes to increase production by around 2 million barrels per day. Following a meeting that resulted in a deadlock at OPEC’s headquarters in Vienna on June 8, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait parted ways with other OPEC members and promised to raise production levels by 1.5 million barrels per day. Indeed, over the past month the Saudis have already increased output by approximately 500,000 barrels per day.

Now, ostensibly, Saudi Arabia is complying with the IEA’s initiative, but John Shimkus plausibly argues for another motive behind the Saudis’ behavior: namely, fear of Iran’s nuclear program, which is probably striving to develop nuclear weapons. As pointed out before, Iran has been at the head of an effort to block release of excess oil reserves. Hence, we should not be surprised if Saudi Arabia and its allies in OPEC might wish to flood the market with their own petroleum in the hope of bringing Iran’s government to the point of bankruptcy and thereby halting the Islamic Republic’s goals for its nuclear program. [READ THE REST]

 

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April 27, 2011

Signalfire

Mozambique: Kenmare forced to stop production at Moma

The expansion programme to increase production capacity at the Moma mine by 50 percent is well underway and scheduled for commissioning and ramp-up in 2012
Production at Kenmare Resources’ Moma mine in Mozambique has been temporarily suspended due to an unofficial strike by workers. The industrial action commenced this morning after annual wage negotiations broke down. The Irish mining company said talks were progressing when an unofficial strike was called by a group of employees.[…] Source: http://businessandleadership.com/business/item/29744-kenmare-forced-to-stop/

Vietnamese workers end strike after Taiwan company hikes wages

Hanoi – About 1,300 employees at a Taiwan-owned footwear factory in northern Vietnam returned to work Wednesday after the company agreed to increase their monthly salary.

Workers at Stateway Vietnam Footwear in Hai Phong city went on strike Tuesday demanding an additional 18 dollars a month to 88 dollars, an official of the company’s personnel department said.

Under Vietnamese law, strikes must be approved by local authorities and the government-affiliated national trade union. In practice, virtually all strikes take place without such approval.[…] source: http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/business/news/article_1635378.php/Vietnamese-workers-end-strike-after-Taiwan-company-hikes-wages

India: Tea workers strike hit local farmers

 ILAM, April 27: Local farmers have suffered loss worth more than Rs 200 million due to the strike launched by tea workers. Farmers have not been able to sell green leaves to tea producers ever since the workers launched strike 10 days ago, demanding pay hike.

Agitating workers have brought harvesting and processing of tea in key districts — Ilam, Dhankuta and Terhathum – to a grinding halt.[…] Source: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=30678

Uganda: Iganga Steel Workers Lay Down Tools

Iganga — Police in Iganga District deployed heavily yesterday at Tembo Steels Uganda Limited following a sit-down strike by workers protesting low pay and poor working conditions. The strike started at about 8am when the workers camped at the factory located at Kasolo village, about 2 kilometres from Iganga town.

Police led by Iganga DPC David Manzi stormed the place to ensure that the strike did not turn violent.

The workers complained that they receive little pay in addition to being mistreated by their bosses. “They give us only Shs1,200 every day for breakfast and lunch. Then at the end of every month (some) workers, especially the porters, are given as little as Shs40,000 per month, which is too little given the high cost of living,” one of the protestors who talked on condition of anonymity for fear of being victimised for revealing information told, Daily Monitor, as her colleagues backed her. They said they are not provided safety gear and the few who have, bought them.[…] Source:

Hundreds Of Iranian Workers Protest For Back Wages

TEHRAN – Workers at the Alborz tire factory near Tehran have rallied in front of Iran’s presidential office to demand nine months’ of unpaid wages and the reopening of the plant, RFE/RL’s Radio Farda reports.

An employee told Radio Farda that about 800 workers participated in the protest on April 24. He said the workers were told after the Iranian New Year in March that the factory would be closed until it had enough money to reopen.

Since the Alborz tire factory was privatized in the 1990s, its 1,300 workers have been paid irregularly.

Meanwhile, a number of workers at the Esfahan Steel Company gathered in front of the parliament building in Tehran on April 24 to protest the nonpayment of their back wages, ISNA (Iranian Students News Agency) reported.

Also on April 24, some 100 workers and their families gathered outside the Fars Organization of Industries and Mines in Shiraz seeking payment of their wages for the past six months, a worker told Radio Farda.[…] Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/hundreds_of_iranian_workers_protest_for_back_wages/16794818.html

India: Goa village protest iron ore pollution

Goa – Villagers of Cavrem, Quepem, protesting the damage to crops and homes from mining pollution paralyzed the transportation of iron ore through the village on Saturday.

Quepem police inspector Mr S Narvekar said 94 villagers including 36 women were arrested for obstructing the passage of the trucks. They were released later.

The transportation of ore through the village has been virtually suspended over the last few days with the villagers’ agitation.

Cavrem has become the symbol of the unequal fight between the politically backed powerful mining lobby in Goa and a village determined to make its voice heard.

In March, the state government was compelled to shutdown an illegal mine being operated in the area by a well connected ore exporter. The mine was shutdown only after the villagers took a morcha to chief minister Mr Digambar Kamat’s residence in Margao. Source: http://www.steelguru.com/raw_material_news/Goa_village_protest_iron_ore_pollution/202393.html

South Africa: All calm on the Zandspruit front

Johannesburg – Police were monitoring the Zandspruit informal settlement, northwest of Johannesburg, on Freedom Day following violent service delivery protests, Gauteng police said.

“Everything is quiet for now and we are confident it will stay like this until Sunday,” said Lieutenant Colonel Tshisikhawe Ndou.

Gauteng housing MEC Humphrey Mmemezi had promised to meet with residents on Sunday and discuss their concerns.

The disgruntled community was protesting against the lack of housing and sanitation in the Honeydew settlement.

Police were on Wednesday monitoring the area after violence erupted. On Tuesday, 16 people were arrested for public violence after they had burnt tyres and blockaded roads.

Police used rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.[…] Source: http://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/gauteng/all-calm-on-the-zandspruit-front-1.1061544

India: Two persons killed, 12 injured in firing in Dhanbad

At least two persons were killed and more than 12 others injured when police resorted to firing to control a mob protesting the anti-encroachment drive at a Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL) colony located in Kusunda and Matkuria, about 8 kms from Dhanbad, today.

Agitators also set fire to about 16 vehicles, out of which 11 belonged to the BCCL authorities.

State police headquarters said people of the area started pelting stones at the team which went for the eviction of local people allegedly occupying BCCL quarters.

Police resorted to firing to control them, leading to death of two persons in the area. The situation in the district was tense but under control.

On April 5 police resorted to firing in the state capital in a similar incident in which one person died on the spot while another succumbed to his injuries in the hospital. Source: http://netindian.in/news/2011/04/27/00012827/two-persons-killed-12-injured-firing-dhanbad

Young Mauritanians stage sit-in demanding the release of 20 arrested during protests this week

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania — Dozens of young Mauritanians are holding a sit-in outside the police directorate’s office to demand the release of 20 protesters arrested the previous day.

Youth on Tuesday chanted “freedom for our friends” before dispersing peacefully.

Mauritanian police arrested 20 people on Monday after hundreds demonstrated in the capital against the regime of President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. Police said the demonstrations were unauthorized and used tear gas and batons to disperse people.

Demonstrations have been ongoing since Feb. 25, when dozens of students used Facebook to organize another sit-in demanding political reforms and the president’s departure.

In January, a businessman died after setting himself ablaze in a protest against the government. Source: http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5j8iJwIrKvyJQWTozfC_HwRUEQUhw?docId=6668468

Oman: Power firm staff regroups for protest

Muscat Daily reported that in probably what is the first legal strike since the wave of protests began in February, employees from the eight subsidiary companies of Electricity Holding Company regrouped again to protest against the management outside the company’s head office in Qurm on Saturday.

The group had given 21 day ultimatum to the management to respond, as is required by law after they called off their three day strike on March 28. We are frustrated with the management as it is only during the last few days that they held a couple of meetings to show that they were working towards meeting our demands.

Mr Mohannad al Hindi head of operations and maintenance at Muscat Electricity Distribution Company said that but what came out of those meetings are only promises and no action. The protesters said that no representative from among them was included in the meetings. We gave a list of eight most important points to be discussed, but only half of them were brought up for discussion. Moreover, there has been no positive outcome from these discussions. Of their list of demands, Hindi added that at the very least, they wanted a change in top management and increased allowances immediately.

He said that the other demands to be discussed are a proper promotion policy, an increase in the employee loan limit from the current amount equal to two months salary, academic and professional training for staff and the setting up of a training center. The formation of an Omani employee committee is also on the anvil. But we are not happy with it as it consists of the top management only. We want representation from among us.[…]Source: http://www.steelguru.com/middle_east_news/Power_firm_staff_regroups_for_protest/202122.html

India: 150 agitating workers of General Motors detained

VADODARA: Around 150 agitating workers of General Motors India (GMI) were detained by the police here on Monday after they tried to stage a protest at the residence of a senior GMI official.

The agitating workers, who since March 16 are on strike at the Halol plant of GMI, were trying to stage a protest outside the residence of GMI`s human resources (HR) director Rakesh Mehta at Shrushti Bungalows on Vasna Road on Monday. Some of them had even planned to undress themselves as a mark of protest and to press upon their demands.[…] http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vadodara/150-agitating-workers-of-General-Motors-detained/articleshow/8084480.cms

And lots more…

April 6, 2011

Old news: BP and the axis of evil

Only just saw this, by Adam Curtis, from last year:

BP is accused of destroying the wildlife and coastline of America, but if you look back into history you find that BP did something even worse to America.

They gave the world Ayatollah Khomeini.

Of course there are many factors that led to the Iranian revolution, but back in 1951 the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company – which would later become BP – and its principal owner the British government, conspired to destroy democracy and install a western-controlled regime in Iran. The resulting anger and the repression that followed was one of the principal causes of the Iranian revolution in 1978/79 – out of which came the Islamist regime of Ayatollah Khomeini.

And what’s more, BP and the British government were so arrogant and bumblingly inept at handling the crisis that they had to persuade the Americans help them. They did this by pretending there was a communist threat to Iran. The American government, led by President Eisenhower, believed them and the CIA were instructed to engineer a coup which removed the Iranian prime minister Mohamed Mossadegh.

And the resulting anger at the coup among Iranians went very deep. It is the root of why America is now known as “The Great Satan” in Iran, and why the American embassy in 1979 was hated as “the nest of spies” by the revolutionaries.

kbp.jpg

Read the rest.

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March 24, 2011

The new arms race in a multipolar world

RIYADH. King of Saudi Arabia Abdullah bin Abdu...

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In the bi-polar world, the two superpowers raced against each other for bigger, more and more deadly weapons. In today’s multipolar world, the race is one which anybody can join. Here are a couple of reports from the side of the track.

  • China has new powerful Dong Feng 16 (DF-16) missiles aimed at Taiwan, according to the island state’s National Security Bureau Director-General, Tsai Der-sheng.
  • Russia has claimed that it will inject USD100 billion into the development of its defence industries during the next decade.
  • General Dynamics Land Systems, a business unit of Ohio, USA-based, General Dynamics, was recently awarded two contracts worth $44 million for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia‘s tank program. The contracts were awarded by the U.S. Army TACOM Lifecycle Management Command on behalf of the Royal Saudi Land Forces. This work is part of a plan by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to upgrade its entire fleet of 314 tanks. The first contract of $37.1 million is to provide materials and labor for the conversion of 42 M1A2 tanks to an M1A2S configuration for the Kingdom. The M1A2S will possess defined capabilities that “increase lethality while limiting obsolescence”. Saudi Arabia is the biggest defence spender in the region, and its tanks are currently being deployed in Bahrain to suppress the pro-democracy movement there.
  • Iran is rapidly and significantly expanding capabilities to accommodate larger missiles and satellite launch vehicles (SLVs), including the Simorgh 3 SLV in construction at Semnan space centre, according to Jane’s analysis of satellite imagery of the site. Tehran spends around $9.3-9.5 billion annually on defence, putting it at no.5 in the region.

Finally, check out this fantastic photo essay from IDEX, the global arms expo in Abu Dhabi.


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October 4, 2010

Blog round up

Lady Poverty: Poverty and abundance

Large-scale commodity production gives us a sense of material abundance. So much stuff! We call ourselves “developed” because we have advanced so much further than the “developing” or “underdeveloped” world in terms of the things we can buy. In other parts of the world, and at other times in history, consumer options have been much more limited. Nevertheless, individuals in any society are vulnerable anytime things like food, shelter and medicine are treated as commodities, not rights.

Poverty in an advanced consumer society can look a lot different than poverty in an early- or semi-capitalist one. [READ THE REST]

Harry’s Place: The Islamic Republic’s corporate enablers

The Guardian reports:

Shell, the Anglo-Dutch oil giant, paid the state-owned Iranian oil company at least $1.5bn (£0.94bn) for crude oil this summer, increasing its business with Tehran as the international community implemented some of the toughest sanctions yet aimed at constricting the Islamic republic’s economy and its lifeline oil business.[…]

Now I realize there is some dispute among opponents of the regime over the effectiveness of economic sanctions on Iran. But it’s hard for me to grasp how pouring one-and-a-half billion dollars into the coffers of the Iranian government does anything other than strengthen the regime– not only in its nuclear program but also in its ability to brutalize and repress its political opponents, to keep a lid on wider opposition through state subsidies and to supply weapons to the likes of Hezbollah.

Shell Oil’s reputation for responsible and ethical behavior is already pretty lousy, and they may figure that doing business with Iran won’t make it much worse. But I have to believe that they– like other companies– would be susceptible to worldwide pressure to stop funding the Iranian regime.

Earlier this year the telecom giant Nokia-Siemens Networks got around to admitting a “share of the blame for Iran’s brutal crackdown on anti-government demonstrators last year after selling mobile phone surveillance to the authoritarian regime.”[…]

Arguing the World: Partial Readings: The World Has Changed

Poverty Rising

The 2009 census data unveiled a few weeks ago revealed a troubling, if unsurprising, fact: one in seven Americans is now below the poverty line—and when the number of those now sharing homes is included, the figures are even starker. There is one glimmer of hope amid the grim news: senior citizens have actually seen a rise in income—a testament to the effectiveness of Social Security as an anti-poverty program. The safety net for families with children, especially those with single mothers, has proved far less effective; and a new Pew study illuminates the dire economic straits in which former prison inmates and their families find themselves. The effects have been exacerbated by rising incarceration rates: “1 in every 28 children (3.6 percent) has a parent incarcerated, up from 1 in 125 just 25 years ago. Two-thirds of these children’s parents were incarcerated for non-violent offenses.”

July 28, 2010

The Middle East in the new global power cartography


Iran and Saudi Arabia fight for Pakistan; British Conservatism, Libya and the oil lobby; Egypt, the crescent North and other emerging regional power hubs.

read more »

July 3, 2010

Weekly dose

In this edition, the wildcat strikes in China, the new geopolitical map, and the murderous effects of petro-dollars in Pakistan.

NEWS

Wildcat strikes in China

The wildcat strike at the Nanhai Honda factory which formally ended on June 4th with a partial victory for workers, has subsequently inspired two other Honda factories in the Pearl River Delta to go on strike. In addition, workers from several Taiwanese-owned factories have adopted similar tactics, holding a sit-in in Jiangsu and blocking roads in Shenzhen.

The initial Honda strike began on May 17th. It took place in a transmissions factory in Foshan, Guangdong. The strike lasted over two weeks and received considerable coverage in mainland Chinese newspapers. At its height, around 1,900 workers (almost the entire factory) walked off the job. Because the Nanhai factory is responsible for making car transmissions, the strike eventually stopped production at four other Honda assembly plants. In total, Honda’s losses amounted to 2,500 cars per day. [READ THE REST]

Jihad by petro-dollars

Jamaat-ud- Dawa runs a huge network of social services, including 20 Islamic institutions, 140 secondary schools, eight madrassas and a $ 300, 000-plus medical mission that includes mobile clinics, ambulance service and blood banks. The Jammat headquarters close to Lahore, built at the cost of Rs. 50 million, houses a garment factory, an iron-foundry, a wood-works factory, a swimming pool and three residential colonies.

”According to several estimates, Islamic organisations, many of which are linked to armed groups, can draw from a pool of money ranging from $5 billion to $16 billion, the Saudi government alone donates $ 10 billion via the ministry of Religious Works every year”, Italian journalist Loretta Napoleoni claims in her book ”Modern Jihad”.

The liberal distribution of petro-dollars by Saudis can be gauged from the fact that more than 1500 mosques were built around the world in the second half of the last century. [READ THE REST, via Entdinglichung]

ANALYSIS

Not So Quiet On the Western Front

On June, 22, I offered a thesis, “Is a New Cold War Shaping Up?”, suggesting that the strengthening Latin American-Iranian ties could result in a future division of the geopolitical landscape. Such a division, I said:

would be similar to the landscape of the initial Cold War. Only, instead of two competing neocolonial powers and their satellites (i.e. the Western bloc vs. the Soviet bloc), we’d come to see two competing trading blocs—with one bloc composed of the Latin American-Iranian coalition, and the other more precariously led by the U.S., along with any other states that find following the American lead in their long-term self-interests.

And let me be clear. This thesis is limited to the suggestion of exclusive trading blocs, not a rehash of the old arms race or of neocolonial hostilities.

Shortly before this thesis was published, Iran’s Fars News Agency published apress release. The release quoted Iranian President Ahmadinejad, speaking to Iran’s new ambassador to Havana. And it confirms the desire of Iran to pursue a Latin American agenda along the same lines I had suggested were possible:

“The present circumstances in the world necessitate efforts [Ahmadinejad said] for the enhancement of Iran-Cuba relations, because the Cuban government has been able to stand against the expansionist ambitions of the US statesmen”

The Fars press release also states that Ahmadinejad “underlined that Cuba’s resistance against the US indicates that “this colonialist and bullying power (the US) is declining”.

Notably here, Iran’s perception that US global influence is on the decline is in accordance with the perceptions of Fareed Zakaria, Noam Chomsky, and Chalmers Johnson—assessments which I’ve also previously discussed.

And insofar as Venezuela is intimately involved in this budding Latin American-Iranian trade bloc, the breaking news on June 24, may be significant: [READ THE REST]

April 1, 2010

ANALYSIS: Authoritarianism vs. the Internet [Daniel Calingaert]

In the heady days following the disputed June 12, 2009, presidential election in Iran, images of protests against election fraud were captured on mobile phone cameras and sent via the internet by ordinary citizens to the outside world. While reporters from major international media were forced to leave the country or were holed up in their hotel rooms, short messages sent by Twitter and videos posted on YouTube filled the gap in information. Thus, at a time when the Iranian government was trying to hide the protests from television and newspaper reporters, the internet provided a window for audiences outside the country to see what was going on inside and gave Iranians a way to tell the world at large what was happening to them.

[READ THE REST]