Israeli Spokesmen Continue To Defend “Right” To Use Deadly Force On Peaceful Protestors In International Waters

[SEE: Human Hunting Season–Israel’s Special Rights]

Israel Cites India, Pakistan Violence In Defense Of Flotilla Attack

Yamini Kaul – AHN News Contributor

Tel Aviv, Israel (AHN) – Apparently upset over global criticism for its attack on an aid flotilla in Gaza, Israel took an unusual step on Wednesday and trained its diplomatic guns on India and Pakistan.

Israel said that while the world continually “ignored” violent incidents happening in countries such as India and Pakistan, it was being criticized for its “unmistakably defensive actions.”

Citing incidents from the past one month, Israel said that almost 500 people were killed in violence in countries like India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Thailand and Iraq. According to a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry, “While the international community remained silent and passive, and generally ignored the occurrences, Israel is being condemned for unmistakably defensive actions.”

Israel’s comments have brought about a new turn in its relationship with India.

Israel’s outburst against India could be attributed to a statement by India’s external affairs minister, S.M. Krishna, in which he said India “deplored the tragic loss of life and the reports of killings and injuries to people on the boats carrying supplies to Gaza.” India condemned the Israeli action with strong words such as “there can be no justification for such indiscriminate use of force, which we condemn.”

At least nine Palestinian activists were killed when Israeli soldiers intercepted their boat, which was headed toward the Gaza strip on Monday.

The Israeli foreign ministry told the United Nations in a written statement that the attack on the aid flotilla was about the “basic right of Israeli soldiers to defend themselves against an attack by a gang of thugs and terror supporters…”

In an emergency session, the U.N. Security Council demanded a probe into the deadly commando raid. Israel refused to accept the U.N. resolution and said that such a proposal would not help peace and stability in the Middle East.

Turkey boosts security for Jewish residents amid protests

[Jews all over the world may one day suffer similar threats because of growing hatred of the Zionist state.]

Turkey boosts security for Jewish residents amid protests

ANKARA – Daily News with wires
Turkey boosts security measures at synagogues, Israeli consulates and Jewish residences, including 20 locations in Istanbul alone, as tensions increase over Israel’s deadly raid on an aid flotilla. Some Jewish residents remain concerned about the community’s safety despite assurances from Turkish officials that they will not be the target of protests

Protesters burn an Israeli flag during a demonstration at Taksim Square in Istanbul. AP photo.

Protesters burn an Israeli flag during a demonstration at Taksim Square in Istanbul. AP photo.

Turkey has beefed up security to protect its Jewish minority and Israel’s diplomatic missions in response to increased tensions over Israel’s deadly raid on an aid ship dispatched by a Turkish NGO.

Security has been stepped up at 20 points in Istanbul alone, where there are several synagogues and centers serving 23,000 Jewish residents, Interior Minister Beşir Atalay said Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. He added that measures have been taken at residences, consulates and places of worship in the city.

The move came as hundreds of Turks protested against Israel for the third day Wednesday. The interior minister said no harm had been done, or would be allowed to come, to any Jewish person during demonstrations staged in Turkey, the Anatolia new agency reported.

Turkish resentment of Israel has risen dramatically since Monday’s killing of nine people, including as many as seven Turks, on the aid ship. Following the deadly incident, Turkey recalled its ambassador to Israel and scrapped planned war games with Israel.

Israel, meanwhile, ordered families of its diplomats to leave Turkey as relations between the two countries sank to a new low. Israeli media reported Wednesday that the foreign ministry ordered the families of its diplomats in Turkey to leave because of the uproar over the deadly raid by the Israeli navy. The diplomatic mission itself would remain in Turkey, said Israel Radio and other stations and newspapers. The ministry would neither confirm nor deny the reports.

Hostility against Israel increases throughout the world, not just in Turkey, when it commits such an act, said Roni Margulies, a Turkish citizen of Jewish origin and a columnist for daily Taraf. “In some circles, a clear distinction between hostility against Jews and Israel may not be made,” he said. “We know this is so in Turkey – not in general, but in some circles.”

In one such incident Monday in the northeastern province of Tekirdağ, a Turkish man punched a Jewish cyclist. The fact that the assailant turned out to be a lawyer is “something unique to Turkey,” according to political analyst Cem Oğuz.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has launched a series of harsh verbal attacks on Israel since Monday’s raid. More than 20,000 people demonstrated in Turkey after the attack on the Gaza-bound flotilla, many of them burning Israeli flags.

“But the prime minister also said Tuesday that he was against anti-Semitism. He says it during each crisis but he repeated it yesterday,” said Ivo Molinas, the editor in chief of the Istanbul-based weekly publication Shalom, which has a circulation of around 5,000. “Both him and the leaders of the opposition have said that all of this will have no effect on the Jews of Turkey.”

Despite the reassurances, the Jewish community in Turkey is definitely worried, Molinas said, noting that the anger in the country could turn very easily to anti-Semitism. “The rhetoric used by the prime minister has been very radical,” he said, according to Agence France-Presse.

According to Taraf columnist Margulies, there were similar concerns when Israel invaded Gaza two years ago but no hostile action was taken against Turkish Jews. “I hope it will be so this time, too,” he said.

Margulies added that he finds it very positive and necessary that Erdoğan said in his speech that Jews in Turkey should not be targets of anger toward Israel.

US Leaning Hard On Azerbaijan, Turkey To Salvage NABUCCO

BAKU – Agence France-Presse

A senior U.S. envoy urged Azerbaijan and Turkey on Wednesday to sign a long-awaited deal he said was crucial for retaining confidence in Western plans to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian gas.

Richard Morningstar, the U.S. Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy Issues, said the signing of a deal, two years in the making, would be essential to boost confidence in the European Union’s ambitious Southern Corridor plan. The corridor would bypass Russia in bringing Caspian Sea gas through Turkey to Europe.

“We are encouraged by the recent progress in negotiations between Turkey and Azerbaijan,” Morningstar said at a conference on Caspian Sea energy development in the Azerbaijani capital Baku.

“We are hopeful the two sides will reach an agreement sooner rather than later, so that confidence in the Southern Corridor is not undermined.”

Energy-rich Azerbaijan is seen as a key potential supplier for the main component of the Southern Corridor plan to diversify gas supplies. The 3,300-kilometer Nabucco pipeline between Turkey and Austria was scheduled to be completed by 2014.

Other potential elements of the plan included possible Italy-Turkey-Greece and Trans-Adriatic pipelines.

The EU-backed pipeline would compete with Russia’s South Stream pipeline project to meet gas demands in Europe, which already rely on Russia for a quarter of its gas supplies.

South Stream, which would channel Russian gas under the Black Sea to Bulgaria, is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.

The deal between Baku and Ankara is expected to cover the price of Turkish gas imports from Azerbaijan as well as the amount Turkey charges in transit fees for Azerbaijani gas to be delivered to Europe.

Lebanon fires on Israeli warplanes

JERUSALEM – Agence France-Presse
Lebanese army soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint at the Lebanese border crossing of Naqoura, southern Lebanon on Tuesday. AP photoLebanese army soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint at the Lebanese border crossing of Naqoura, southern Lebanon on Tuesday. AP photo

The Lebanese Army fired anti-aircraft artillery at Israeli warplanes that were flying over Lebanon, a senior Israeli security official said on Tuesday.

“Our aircraft have been targeted by the Lebanese anti-aircraft guns while flying over southern Lebanon, and there was no damage,” the official who requested the anonymity told Agence France Presse.

A Lebanese military spokesperson neither confirmed nor denied the report.

Lebanon issues almost daily reports of Israeli violations of its air space, but its military rarely opens fire unless the planes fly within range of its guns.

The over flights violate U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended a devastating war in 2006, but Israel argues they are needed to monitor arms smuggling.

The absolute hegemony of Europe and the United States fades–(Bad Goog.Trans.)

Qui would have imagined, there is only a half-dozen years, as Brazil and Turkey would offer mediation on the Iranian nuclear issue? Whatever the outcome of the controversial initiative, it indicates the rise of new regional powers, seeking to change the status quo in which they played little role before.

We are very far from the perception of balance that seemed to reign around 2003, at a time when Washington felt omnipotent. The repression of the former Soviet Union to Russia’s borders, with the expansion of NATO and the color revolutions were led by the power felted (soft power). The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyan (Turkish port) would deliver oil to the West, hitherto reserved to Moscow. Washington was planning, with the war in Iraq, to reshape his own benefit the “Greater Middle East”. Force is to acknowledge the failure.

The phase of repression in Russia ended in 2008 when the Georgian president has committed a strategic error to engage in conflict with it.Ukraine will not be part of NATO. Despite serious handicaps, Moscow remains the undisputed arbiter in the Caucasus and its influence in Central Asia remains important to the coveted Kyrgyzstan, so close to China, where U.S. are also maintaining a database.

Thereupon, the crisis hit the United States before affecting Europe. This, far from over, accentuating the importance of the role played by the “re-emerging” (all Asian, except Brazil) and especially China, now a major player. The transformation of the latter, the way Bismarck, made in just three decades, changes the status quo long exclusively dominated by Westerners.This leap forward is the price of many left-to-account. But stagnation is it cheaper? It is good to read the young Engels: The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1845. Do not forget what was the working conditions in the most democratic and most powerful European states.

India has outperformed his opponent overwhelmingly Constitution: Pakistan, who for twenty years, is looking for, in Afghanistan, a “strategic rear” instead of worrying about growth and remains the epicenter of the regional crisis. Washington sees India as an ally to counterbalance, in part, the weight of China in Asia.

Clearly, apart from Brazil, the country-continent that holds both the promise of the future, once so often disappointed, the essential part is played on the Eurasian continent, and particularly around the Caspian basin and along its southern arc.

For growing economies, like China or India, but also for the old industrial countries are the United States, Japan and Europe, oil is more than ever the subject of intense rivalry.

The United States, passing through a multifaceted crisis whose effects across the West, are far from exhausted, face significant challenges in Afghanistan and Iraq. In the latter, nothing is settled. All the conditions leading to a resurgence of civil war are still present. Who will be Prime Minister? Using what coalition lame? The State will be there federal or centralized? From Ultimately, the Shia will be in power in Baghdad will he not be tempted to unite against the populist majority of Kurds Arabs?

In Afghanistan, the escalating war is the order of the day, despite the appearance of negotiation.The government and the administration ofHamid Karzai remains the Achilles heel of the new U.S. strategy adopted too late. A decent non-victory is still possible?

The most powerful democratic states can not overcome an irregular warfare conducted from the ground up by a few hardy men, because it is not a mass uprising, as in Vietnam. Need I remind you that the United States and NATO have, in eight years, lost a total of less than 1700 soldiers and that this seems too much to our publics?

The major crisis fueled by the territorial dispute between Israel and the Palestinians on Iran and its nuclear program. Barack Obama is crippled by the mortgage Iran to conclude negotiations between the Israeli government and Palestinian authorities in the West Bank. For the Likud and its allies, religious or not, this is a policy of delaying until the Obama disappears from the political scene, or is no longer able to weigh. This strategy is therefore ultimately more coherent than the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank advocated Tzipi Livni ? This is doubtful.

In the Middle East, Turkey is, obviously, become the major power with three irons in the fire: European Union which it represents the essential energy corridor, Muslim countries in which it intends to regain the lead, and Asia Turkic-speaking Central Chinese to Xinjiang. On the merits, the interests of the United States and Turkey are the same and are intended to weaken Russian influence in Central Asia and Caucasus.

East Asia, from India to China, 3.5 billion people, which we are not informed in advance by leaps and bounds. Do we know, for example, that South Korea alone produces a third of the world merchant fleet?

We stagnate in a crisis that requires major reforms, while “re-emerging” are growing rapidly and require different rules of the game

The challenge, on substantive change in demographic balance, is economic and concerns such as energy, education, innovative research. The United States seemed able to rise thanks to their adaptability and dynamism. This is precisely what we lack and that we will not solve, nor with the effects of listing on the international stage, nor corporatism decided that nothing changes, or with part of the population prone to some work, or with high unemployment among young people.

The absolute hegemony exercised by Europe and the United States, for nearly three centuries, is fading. We can not escape the need for austerity and work if we want to remain competitive.Germany seems to have understood.

Gerard Chaliand writer is strategic.

Israeli Procurement of Russian Fuel Through Turkey May Be Stopped

Navy Israeli hit on energy projects

Tel Aviv may be left without Russian gas and Caspian oil

02.06.2010 / Nicholas Surkov
израиль, турция, кризис / Взятые на абордаж израильскими ВМС суда с правозащитниками были отконвоированы в порт Ашдод. Фото ReutersBoarded by Israeli naval vessels with human rights activists were escorted to the port of Ashdod.
Photo Reuters

The incident with the interception in international waters in convoy, bound with humanitarian aid inGaza, threatens to derail the project of supplying Israel with Russian gas, which should come back through Turkey. The actions of the Israeli Navy has condemned yesterday the Security Council of UN, called for an investigation into the incident, during which, according to specified data, the death of nine human rights activists and several hundred were detained.

According to the Minister of Energy of Turkey Taner Yildiz, Turkey may abandon energy cooperation with Israel because of the incident with the “peace flotilla”. According to Interfax, a number of bilateral energy projects include the construction of offshore oil and gas pipeline between the Turkish Ceyhan and the Israeli Ashkelon. Raw materials to fill the pipeline should come from Russia and the Caspian region.Further planned to lay pipelines to Eilat on the Red Sea coast, to export raw materials to India, China and other Asian states.

The UN Security Council in a special statement demanded that Israel immediately release all detained civilians and the court “Fleets of the World”, as well as arrange transportation located on their board of humanitarian aid into Gaza. Sat called for an impartial and transparent investigation into the incident, during which, according to the latest update, killing nine people. Members of the Security Council stressed that the humanitarian situation in Gaza remains dire, and called for an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

About the situation around the “Fleets of the world” made by President Dmitry Medvedev, who was described as “unwarranted and irreversible” loss of life resulting from interception by Israeli military humanitarian convoy.

According to RIA Novosti, detained in Israel are 480 participants hike, another 45 human rights activists, mostly Turkish citizens, are in hospitals. On treatment are also six soldiers injured when intercepting a fleet.

Israeli media reported that the courts “Fleets of the World” were citizens of some 40 countries, including Turkey, USA, UK, Australia, Canada, Greece, Malaysia, Algeria, Serbia, Belgium, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and Germany.Detainees must pass examinations, after which the Israeli authorities to decide which of them expelled, but who have been charged in the attack on the military. Several dozen people have agreed to voluntary deportation, and they have taken to the Tel Aviv airport.

Yesterday, all six vessels fleet were in port of Ashdod. They checked the cargo specialists from ministries of health, agriculture and engineers. Israel has promised to forward humanitarian aid into Gaza through land border crossings.

As the Air Force, “Movement for Freedom of Gaza, organized the” freedom flotilla “, intended to equip the new ships to Gaza, to end blockade of Gaza, home to about 1,5 million people.

Meanwhile, do not stop criticism of Israeli actions. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoglu, in particular, said that what happened off the coast of Gaza “is equivalent to banditry and piracy”. “This murder, carried out his hands of the state. The state, which is on that path has lost its legitimacy as a respected member of the international community “, – stressed the head of the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

“Stop the massacre in Gaza” – called pro-Palestinian activists in the U.S..
Photo Reuters

Analyst “the International Crisis Group,” Hugh Pope told Nezavisimaya Gazeta noted that recently the relations between Tel Aviv and Ankara really had deteriorated, but such is not the first times. In his view, the political leadership of Turkey, especially the ruling Justice and Development Party, is very sensitive to public opinion, which is now an extremely negative attitude towards the current Israeli policy towards Palestinians, especially the blockade of the Gaza Strip. “In the 90 years between Israel and Turkey, there really military partnership, sharing of intelligence information, but it should be borne in mind that all this took place against a background of promoting Middle East peace process”, – explained the Pope. He added that previous Turkish governments have also repeatedly condemned the Israeli actions. For example, in 2002, the then Turkish Prime Minister called the Israeli actions in the West Bank as genocide.

The expert did not rule out that since the Israeli-Turkish relations can improve again. “As soon as the Turkish public opinion decides that Israel entered into a serious dialogue on peace with the Palestinians, Ankara immediately improve the quality of bilateral relations. But now they are at the lowest point, and it will take months if not years, that situation has changed “, – noted the Pope.

Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies Vitaly Naumkin in conversation with Nezavisimaya Gazeta speculated that the use of force against human rights defenders due to the common position of the current Israeli government Netanyahu-Lieberman-Barak, who prefer to exercise in such matters of the utmost rigidity. “It is very important domestic political moment. A government that does not feel very confident, seeks to use the syndrome of “a hostile environment” – the whole world against the small of Israel, to mobilize the population in its support “, – explained the expert.

Naumkin said that in the short term interception “Fleets of the World” will provide political dividends Netanyahu, but in the long run – it would harm the interests of Israel, who will become new enemies, especially in the Islamic world.“The main loss for Israel will be the loss of a partnership with Turkey, which had a strategic nature. For Israel, it is important to have a certain position in the Islamic world, and here they are counting on Turkey. According to this cooperation occurred very powerful blow. The Government has also caused enormous damage to Israel’s reputation in the world “, – said the other” NG “.

Primary school attacked in Quetta

The Baloch Hal News

QUETTA: A government Primary school was attacked with hand grenade on Mano Jan Road here on Tuesday morning.

Official sources said unidentified persons hurled a home-made hand grenade at school located Ahmed Shah street of Mano Jan Road. The grenade landed and exploded with a big bang in the compound of the school damaging windows and door of the school. However, no causality reported. The attackers managed to escape from the scene.

“It was the break time. All the students were outside their respective classrooms. Thus, they remained unhurt,” school principal, Zahoor Ahmed told media, adding that no organization had ever threatened the school management. The blast caused panic among the students and teachers.

Police have lodged a case against unknown people and begun investigation.

Meanwhile, unknown persons planted an explosive device on RCD highway in Kalat district on Tuesday which went off with big explosion causing no loss.

Official sources said NATO supplier was passing through the area when blast occurred but the container remained safe in the blast. It was home-made device however no loss reported in the blast. Local law enforcement agencies are making investigation.

Turkmenistan Starts Building Mega Pipeline Project–Asserts Political, Economic Independence

Turkmenistan Starts Building Mega Pipeline Project; Asserts Political, Economic Independence

nCa News and Commentary

Ashgabat/Shatlyk, 1 June 2010 (nCa) — Turkmenistan started Monday the construction work on a mega-pipeline project that would connect all the major gas fields of Turkmenistan into a single network.

The launching ceremony of the East-West pipeline took place in Shatlyk, a gas field some 30 km west of Mary, where President Berdymuhamedov and his team saw the first joint being fused neatly by a welding robot.

The East-West pipeline would be 1000 kilometers long, starting at Shatlyk in Mary province, and terminating at Belek-1 compressor station in Balkan province, not far from the Caspian shore.

The estimated cost of the project is US $ 2 billion. The rated capacity is 30 billion cubic meters per annum.

The diameter of the pipe is 1420 millimeters and it would be placed two meters below the ground, a standard practice for medium pressure pipelines.

There would be seven compressor stations, one every 130 km or so.

The state corporations Turkmengaz and Turkmenoilgasconstruction will do the project with funding from Turkmengaz.

The project would be ready for commissioning by June 2015.

President Berdymuhamedov addressed the top officials and guests before the ceremonial welding of the first joint. He said, “We have set high aims before ourselves and we firmly believe we will achieve them.”

“Turkmenistan, guided by clearly formulated principles of energy strategy, realistic assessment of its own resource base and prospects of its use in the future, opted not to replace some energy supplies with other, not to change their geographic routes, but to expand and supplement them by reaching new promising markets. First of all, it is about significantly increasing natural gas exports to various states and regions of the world,” he said.

“We will create a single gas transportation system inside the country which will have not only economic but also political significance. Thus Turkmenistan will make its own contribution to global energy security,” said the president.

The president said that environmental safety had been kept in mind when designing this project.

nCa Commentary: This is the first time that a Central Asian country has started an energy infrastructure project of this magnitude on its own.

That Turkmenistan should be the first to take this daring step is no surprise.

Turkmenistan was the first to transform its Turkmenbashy into a technological showcase, a facility that is still the best in the region. It was also the initiator of the Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline that has changed the energy equation in the region for ever. Turkmenistan was also the first to pressure Russia to start paying market price for its gas.

Before the first joint was welded in the launching ceremony Monday, President Berdymuhamedov wrote in large letters ‘Ak Yol’ – the lucky path – at the first segment of the pipeline. This is a traditional prayer for anyone embarking on a new path or venture. ——- This pipeline is both a new path and venture in so many ways.

By starting this project on its own Turkmenistan has underlined that it does not like political or economic pressures of any kind.

There have been attempts from the west and the north to make Turkmen gas a zero-sum game, an either/or scenario. That is why Berdymuhamedov found it necessary to emphasize that the East-West would create opportunities for new export routes without affecting the existing ones.

While new export routes, including Nabucco, would certainly benefit from the East-West pipeline, an important objective would be to feed the growing industrial and commercial needs of gas in the western parts of Turkmenistan. The gas is in abundance in the east, including the world-class Yoloton and Daulatabat fields, but the need for gas is increasing fast in the west where Turkmenistan plans several power generation and industrial projects in near future.

This pipeline would meet both domestic and export commitments of gas for Turkmenistan.

This pipeline is not a snub to anyone; it is just a simple and practical way of saying that Turkmenistan is capable of looking after its own interests.

Desperate Indian farmers now growing opium poppies

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Desperate Indian farmers now growing opium poppies

As in Afghanistan, in northern India opium has become such a lucrative cash crop that many local farmers rely on poppy cultivation, seeing it as the only way to survive.

The trend comes from neighbouring Nepal where parallels with Afghanistan are already frightening: corruption, lack of investment and poverty, with poppy fields completing the picture.

The Indian police regularly discover fields of opium poppies growing in the northern state of Bihar on the India-Nepal border where the illegal crop is giving the administration a headache. The state shares a long border with Nepal, one of the largest markets for opium. No wonder, then, that this area is popular with opium cultivators due to the lack of security and awareness among the local people.

Police official Ram Kumar noted that “People are growing this [poppy] by fooling the local farmers. They are told they are growing sunflowers, but it turns out to be poppy.”

The lure of money stops residents from asking too many questions. With a severe lack of rainfall every year, the drought-resistant opium poppy is a profitable crop.

Opium farming is prohibited in India, but the farmers say they have no other choice.

“What else can we grow? When our normal crops are failing, and we have to feed our families, we have no other option,” complains farmer Mahesh Parhit.

An opium plant grows in just three months, and one kilogram of opium generates at least $US 700 for the opium growers, which are good wages to local farmers and labourers. The police could destroy one poppy field, but that does not solve the larger problem.

“Instead of destroying this crop, the officials should provide us with jobs. There is no other way for us to survive,” insists farmer Sona Lal.

For the Indian police this may seem to be a simple law and order problem, but for the villagers it is a matter of their livelihoods. As long as poppy cultivation remains profitable, the poppy crop will be growing on the India-Nepal border. No matter how many times the police destroy the lucrative crop, the fields will once again be full of poppies.

Is US Waging Economic Warfare Against Corporate Foreign Competitors?

[It would seem only logical, that during an international economic crisis caused by greedy unscrupulous financiers and disloyal multinational American corporations, for a puppet president to order covert attacks upon foreign competitors.  GM (government motors) has now pulled ahead of Toyota and has begun earning profit once again; something it seemed incapable on its own.

BP has fallen from its formerly unassailable status as world’s top oil company and may be subject to “hostile takeover.”  The fact that the Deepwater Horizon explosion has been blamed on faulty sealing work on the seabed drill hole done by Halliburton (Cheney’s company) should set-off alarm bells.  It is worth recalling here that Halliburton was at the center of another international/environmental catastrophe, the Kuwaiti “cross-drilling” operation that ignited the “Gulf War” and the resultant hundreds of oil well firings.  (SEE: Sperry Sun) ]

“Toyota’s shares had earlier plunged as much as 18 percent over the last one week amidst the massive global recall of as many as 2.3 million units.”

“Toyota shares plunged 5.7 percent to 3,400 yen ($38) with jittery investors dumping stocks in the wake of the Prius woes in the U.S. and Japan.”

Toyota’s Fall is Speeding Out of Control

General Motors Co.’s retail sales are up 9% so far this month while rival Toyota Motor Corp.(TM ) has seen a 12% drop,

Toyota…fell to 360th from third in Forbes magazine’s annual list

Ford Motor Co. led the way with a 43 percent jump, which let it seize the monthly top spot from General Motors Co.

BP at Risk as Share Plunge Fuels Takeover Speculation

By Brian Swint and Stanley Reed

June 2 (Bloomberg) — BP Plc’s failure to stop an oil leak from spewing millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico may leave the biggest oil and gas producer in the U.S. in a fight to stay independent.

BP shares have plunged 36 percent since the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig leased by the company exploded on April 20, wiping more than 40 billion pounds ($58 billion) from the company’s value. That may make BP cheap enough to attract acquisition interest, investors said.

“The market value of BP has eroded substantially, so it could be a takeover target,” said Dirk Hoozemans, who helps manage about $4.5 billion at Robeco Group in Rotterdam, which sold its BP holding last year. What matters now is how forceful BP’s Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward is in tackling the disaster and the aftermath, Hoozemans said.

With a permanent end to the leak depending on so-called relief wells that are some two months from completion, Hayward faces costs that may reach $22 billion, or more than last year’s profit, according to ING Wholesale Banking. The company also faces a criminal and civil investigation in the U.S. into the disaster.

“There is a 10 percent to 20 percent chance of BP being taken over,” said Gudmund Halle Isfeldt, an Oslo-based analyst at DnB NOR ASA, in an e-mailed this week. “The only real candidate, in size and with similar operations globally, would be Royal Dutch Shell.”

Shares Fall

BP shares fell for a third day in London today, dropping as much as 3.5 percent and trading at 416.2 pence at 9:02 a.m.

BP spokeswoman Sheila Williams declined to comment for this story. A spokesman for Royal Dutch Shell Plc in The Hague declined to comment.

In addition to being the largest oil and gas producer in the U.S., BP is the biggest operator in the Gulf of Mexico, where it holds more than 500 leases and pumps 450,000 barrels of oil a day. The company plans 10 projects in the Gulf during the next five years, more than other regions of the world, according to a BP presentation.

Some analysts estimate the potential for criminal investigation and civil lawsuits facing BP could be as high as $40 billion, which would justify the roughly $50 billion loss in market value, said Gordon Kwan, the Hong Kong-based head of regional energy research at Mirae Asset Securities Ltd.

President Obama

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether any criminal or civil laws were violated in the spill, Attorney General Eric Holder said yesterday.

Holder announced the investigation at a news conference in New Orleans, the same day President Barack Obama called the spill “the greatest environmental disaster of its kind in our history.”

Obama last week extended a moratorium on deep water drilling permits by six months. He has dropped plans to open waters off the coast of Virginia to drilling, canceled a lease sale in the Gulf and suspended the permit process for Shell’s planned wells off Arctic Alaska. He said new safety rules will be imposed on drilling.

BP has spent $990 million on trying to stop the gusher on the seabed about a mile below the surface and on cleaning up oil from the Gulf. Payments to landowners, hoteliers and fisherman claiming losses from the spill will cause the bill to rise.

‘The Tab Is Rising’

“The tab is rising every day,” said Fadel Gheit, an analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. in New York. “BP could be facing a huge liability in compensation, damages and other charges.”

The cost for the Exxon Valdez tanker disaster in 1989, previously the worst U.S. oil spill, resulting from clean-up costs, fines and settlements has reached at least $4.3 billion so far.

BP spokesman Scott Dean said in an e-mail May 19 that the London-based energy company is self-insured against losses and damage claims resulting from the spill.

Credit default swaps for BP leapt 52 basis points to a new record high of 220 basis points during early trading in London, according to CMA DataVision prices.

In a worst-case scenario, where hurricanes, technological difficulties, or unforeseen problems thwart BP’s attempts to contain the oil and seal the well, the leak could spout almost 4 million barrels of crude into the Gulf of Mexico by Christmas, petroleum geologists and industry analysts said.

Decades of Damage?

The oil could suffocate fish and other marine life, damage shorelines along the Gulf Coast, sweeping around to Florida’s Atlantic Coast, and harm the economies that are dependent upon fishing and marine life, according to marine scientists. Toxic crude from the spill could remain trapped in layers of ocean water for decades, scientists say.

BP pumped 3.95 million barrels of oil and gas a day last year, making it the world’s largest producer outside government- owned oil companies. Exxon Mobil, its closest rival, pumped 3.93 million barrels a day.

BP’s market value, which surpassed Shell at the start of the year, has fallen behind Petroleos Brasileiro SA, Chevron Corp., and Russia’s OAO Gazprom. Paris-based Total SA pumped 2.28 million barrels last year and is priced about $9 billion less than BP on the stock market.

“We’re getting into share price territory where analysts speculate about takeover possibilities, because the loss of market value is much greater than the estimated ‘worst case’ costs,” said Ivor Pether, who helps manage $9.2 billion at Royal London Asset Management, including BP shares. “But there aren’t any buyers at this point because the near-term uncertainty is so high.”

Debt Ratio

Hayward reduced BP’s net debt ratio to 19 percent in the first quarter from 23 percent a year earlier, giving him greater ability to meet cleanup costs and related liabilities. The company has an AA credit rating from Standard & Poor’s and made a record $6 billion profit in the first quarter on $73 billion of revenue.

“The liability could be tens of billions of dollars, but I do think BP has the balance sheet capacity to be able to handle a hit like that,” said Jason Gammel, an analyst at Macquarie Securities USA Inc. in New York. “It’s too early to say it’s a takeover candidate because no one wants to own an unquantifiable liability.”

BP is now trying to contain the spill by fitting a pipe over the leak to bring the oil to a drillship on the surface. The operation may temporarily increase the flow of oil into the Gulf before a cap can seal the pipe, BP said yesterday.

Hayward has promised to clean up “every drop” of oil in the Gulf and on the shoreline from the well that has gushed up to 19,000 barrels of oil a day, according to a government estimate. BP is drilling two relief wells to intercept the damaged well and permanently plug it, a process that won’t be completed until August.

–With assistance from Juan Pablo Spinetto, Eduard Gismatullin, Kate Haywood, Elliott Gotkine and Eric Burg in London, Yee Kai Pin in Singapore and Deirdre Bolton in New York. Editors: Will Kennedy, Jonas Bergman.

To contact the reporters on this story: Brian Swint in London at; Stanley Reed in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at

Petroleum Intelligence Weekly Ranks World’s Top 50 Oil Companies (2009)

Rank2007 Rank2006 PIWIndex Company Country State
Ownership %
1 1 30 Saudi Aramco Saudi Arabia 100
2 2 33 NIOC Iran 100
3 3 37 Exxon Mobil US
4 5 51 PDV Venezuela 100
5 7 53 CNPC China 100
6 4 55 BP UK
7 6 63 Shell UK/Netherlands
8 8 83 ConocoPhillips US
9 9 88 Chevron US
10 10 90 Total France
11 11 91 Pemex Mexico 100
12 12 99 Sonatrach Algeria 100
13 12 102 Gazprom Russia 50.0023
14 14 103 KPC Kuwait 100
15 15 111 Petrobras Brazil 32.2
16 24 116 Rosneft Russia 75.16
17 18 124 Petronas Malaysia 100
18 16 126 Adnoc UAE 100
18 17 126 Lukoil Russia
20 19 141 NNPC Nigeria 100
21 19 144 Eni Italy 30
22 21 159 QP Qatar 100
23 23 162 Libya NOC Libya 100
24 22 166 INOC† Iraq 100
25 29 173 Sinopec China 71.84
26 28 176 StatoilHydro Norway 62.5
27 26 177 EGPC Egypt 100
28 25 180 Repsol YPF Spain
29 27 187 Surgutneftegas Russia
30 30 215 Pertamina Indonesia 100
31 31 223 ONGC India 74.14
32 34 246 Marathon US
32 32 246 PDO Oman 60
34 37 264 EnCana Canada
34 264 Uzbekneftegas Uzbekistan 100
36 36 273 Socar Azerbaijan 100
37 35 288 SPC Syria 100
38 39 290 Ecopetrol Colombia 89.9
39 42 291 Apache US
39 44 291 CNR Canada
41 37 294 Anadarko US
42 41 296 Devon Energy US
43 40 297 TNK-BP‡ Russia
44 43 298 OMV Austria 31.5
45 48 305 Hess US
46 44 310 Occidental US
47 47 312 BG UK
48 51 316 CNOOC China 66.41
49 50 322 Inpex Japan 29.35
50 52 323 Kazmunaigas Kazakhstan 100

Taleban suicide squad attacks peace talks in Kabul

This image shows the giant tent housing the “peace jirga” in Kabul. President Hamid Karzai is rolling out his program to lure Taliban and other insurgent fighters off the battlefield, addressing the conference starting Wednesday aimed at building a national consensus on how to end the nearly nine-year war. –AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq

Preparing Grand Assembly tent for Loya Jirga

Jerome Starkey

A Taleban suicide squad disguised in Afghan army uniforms clashed with security forces this morning as President Karzai welcomed hundreds of dignitaries to a massive peace conference in Kabul.

Three rockets aimed at the oversize marquee fell short of their intended target, police said, but fighting could still be heard more than an hour after the first explosion. At least one of the attackers was reported to have blown himself up.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Interior said police had surrounded a house around 500 yards from the giant tent, where the meeting is taking place.

“There is terrorist activity going on in a house in Afshar. The house has been surrounded by police,” said Zemarai Bashary.

The fighting erupted just as President Karzai was addressing guests at a the Consultative Peace Jirga — which is designed to garner a consensus on how and when to negotiate with the insurgents.

Eyewitnesses said the President, who has survived three assassination attempts, calmly tried to reassure the delegates as some of them began to panic. “Sit down, nothing will happen,” he said. “I have become used to this. Everyone is used to this.”

The attack is likely to embarrass security chiefs who swamped the capital with checkpoints in the run up to this morning’s well publicised conference.

Despite record numbers of Nato and Afghan forces, the Taleban have repeatedly shown their ability to strike seemingly well-guarded targets. Last month they launched two audacious attacks against the two main US and Nato bases, at Bagram and Kandahar Airfield.

President Karzai had delayed the conference, due to take place last month, so he could travel to Washington to meet Barack Obama.

Mr Karzai has been widely criticised for filling the meeting with his allies and failing to invite any senior Taleban representatives.

The Taleban have publically boycotted the event, while fighters loyal to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a semi-autonomous insurgent group, also refused to take part.

Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taleban, said a group of four suicide bombers disguised in Afghan army uniforms had attacked the Jirga. He said they were aiming “to sabotage and destroy this peace jirga” and vowed all four would fight to the death.

The meeting is taking place in Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga, or Grand Assembly tent, in the grounds of Kabul Polytechnic University. The site is overlooked by hills on three sides.

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Do Afghan Taliban Use Saudi Cash To Buy Iranian Weapons?

[Does anyone else think that we have been played for suckers?  Every player, especially “adversaries” like Saudi Arabia and Iran, works toward the same American dictated goals.  What enemies?  There are only partners and co-conspirators.] 

Terror link alleged as Saudi millions flow into Afghanistan war zone

Anthony Loyd, Kabul

Millions of dollars of Saudi Arabian money have flowed into Afghanistan over the past four years, the country’s intelligence officials say, with the sponsorship of terrorism its most likely use.

According to members of the Afghan financial intelligence unit, FinTraca, the funds, totalling more than £920 million, enter from Pakistan, where they are converted into rupees or dollars, the favoured currency for terrorist operations.

“We can trace it back as far as an entry point in Waziristan,” said Mohammed Mustafa Massoudi, the director-general of FinTraca in Kabul. “Why would anyone want to put such money into Waziristan? Only one reason — terrorism.”

The revelations illuminate the difficulties in dividing the Taleban from al-Qaeda influence and the continuing involvement of Saudi donors in sponsoring the insurgency.

Authorities have demanded that Afghan insurgents renounce their relations with al-Qaeda as a precondition for any integration into the political process.

Direct al-Qaeda involvement in southern Afghanistan is seen as minimal. Coalition intelligence officers recently told The Timesthat only half a dozen foreign voices had been detected among 13,000 intercepted conversations in the area in April.

However, the flow of Arab funds to the Taleban poses a strategic obstacle to the counter-insurgency campaign.

It also suggests that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the offshoot, still has a potent and far-reaching financial ability. Although Saudi Arabia — the home of the bin Laden family — is considered a key ally in the war against terror, a US government report last year said that private Saudi backers were the chief source of finance for the Taleban.

Moreover, the influx of Saudi money is on the increase. The £920 million, or five billion Saudi riyals, monitored by FinTraca since 2006 has accelerated, peaking this year. Most of it entered Afghanistan through the Pakistani tribal area, in particular North Waziristan, which is infamous as al-Qaeda’s heartland.

Officials would not disclose the precise route that the Saudi money takes before arriving in North Waziristan — a repeated target of US drone attacks on al-Qaeda operatives and members of the Afghan Haqqani network. “That is a question for Pakistan to answer,” a FinTraca official said.

Mr Massoudi said that the Saudi riyals were moved from Waziristan to Peshawar, capital of the North West Frontier Province, where Pakistani nationals were used to exchange the cash for local currency or dollars.

Exactly what happens to this cash is unclear, given the murky nature of the transactions and the absence of controls on money leaving or entering Afghanistan. The riyals, in the hands of Pakistani money-changers, are recycled back into regular cash channels, also through Afghanistan.

“Pakistan has strict financial regulations so the riyals cannot simply be removed from Pakistan after they’ve been exchanged,” Mr Massoudi said.

Kabul’s international airport is where most of the riyals are declared officially, bound this time for Dubai and conversion into dollars.

FinTraca was established four years ago with British and American help — including input from the Serious Organised Crime Agency — as a semi-autonomous institution within the Central Bank of Afghanistan. To fight money laundering and the funding of terrorism, it monitors Afghan banks and informal hawala brokers as well as working with the Afghan intelligence service, the NDS, and international organisations.

Afghanistan has no foreign exchange controls and no restrictions on amounts in any denomination coming in or out, providing that it is declared.

Although rules have been introduced to control the activities ofhawala brokers — whose services are technically illegal in Pakistan — the insurgency allows them to operate without regulation in several Afghan provinces.

Kabul airport, which is constantly monitored by the Afghan authorities and intelligence officials, has offered a glimpse into the country’s financial traffic. Three Chinese nationals were recently detained there after they tried to carry €810,000 (£688,000) in undeclared currency out of the country in suitcases.

Last year a courier was found trying to enter Afghanistan from Saudi Arabia with hundreds of thousands of dollars stashed in his luggage.