American Resistance To Empire

Pakistan Denies Saudi Request For Pak Army Troops Guarding Saudi Borders

Pakistan Declines to Join Saudi Arabia’s Anti-Iran Alliance

Pakistan won’t help guard Saudi Arabia’s border with northern Yemen, which is controlled by Iranian-backed Houthi Shiite forces.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrives at the Chancellery to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Nov. 11, 2014, in Berlin, Germany.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrives in Berlin to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Nov. 11, 2014.

By: Bruce Riedel, Contributor for Al-Monitor

Saudi Arabia’s campaign to build a broad Sunni alliance to contain Iran has apparently suffered at least a setback from Pakistan. Islamabad has opted, at least for now, to avoid becoming entangled in the sectarian cold war between Riyadh and Tehran.

Earlier this month, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was invited to the kingdom for urgent talks with King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud and his advisers. The king met Sharif at the airport to underscore the importance of the talks. The main topic was Iranian aggression in the Arab world and the impending deadline for the P5+1 negotiations on Iran’s nuclear project. The king wanted firm assurances from Sharif that Pakistan would align itself with Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Arab allies against Iran, especially in the proxy war now underway in Yemen.

Salman specifically wanted a Pakistani military contingent to deploy to the kingdom to help defend the vulnerable southwest border with Zaydi Houthi-controlled north Yemen and serve as a trip-wire force to deter Iranian aggression. There is precedent for a Pakistani army expeditionary force in Saudi Arabia. After the Iranian Revolution, Pakistani dictator Mohammad Zia ul-Haq deployed an elite Pakistani armored brigade to the kingdom at King Fahd’s request to deter any threats to the country. In all, some 40,000 Pakistanis served in the brigade over most of a decade. Today only some Pakistani advisers and experts serve in the kingdom.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, is received by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia at King Khalid International Airport on February 23, 2015 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


Saudi Arabia Prepares for Iranian Nuclear Deal

According to Pakistani sources, Sharif has reluctantly decided not to send troops to Saudi Arabia for now. Sharif promised closer counterterrorism and military cooperation but no troops for the immediate future. Pakistan also declined to move its embassy in Yemen from Sanaa to Aden as the Saudis and the Gulf Cooperation Council states have done to distance themselves from the Houthis.

The Pakistanis are arguing their military is already overstretched facing the traditional enemy, India, and the increasing threat from the Pakistani Taliban. Pakistan has its own serious sectarian tensions and violence. About 20% of Pakistanis are Shiite and sectarian violence has been intensifying in recent years. Groups linked to al-Qaeda such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi have targeted Shiite mosques and schools for suicide bombings. Iran also has proxies in Pakistan that have attacked Sunni targets in the past. Faced with these difficulties at home, Sharif is telling Salman not now for troops.

Sharif is by nature a cautious man and a very deliberate decision-maker. He is carefully leaving open the option of deploying troops to the kingdom in the future if the security situation gets worse. He will also be clear with the king that Pakistan remains a close Saudi ally. The ambiguous and mysterious Pakistani nuclear connection with Saudi Arabia will remain in the background.

The king has doubled down on his Egyptian connection this month. Crown Prince Muqrin pledged $4 billion in investment in Egypt at the Sharm el-Sheikh conference this week, and Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates each pledged the same. But Egypt, too, is reluctant to send troops, especially for operations around Yemen. Egyptians still have bitter memories of their disastrous intervention in Yemen in the 1960s. Ironically, the Egyptians then were fighting Saudi-backed Zaydi royalists.

So for now Saudi Defense Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the king’s son, will have to plan on dealing with Houthi threats on the border alone with Saudi troops. They have not fared well in past clashes with the Houthis.


Cyprus Gas Opens for Export–Natural Gas Find Aphrodite Pronounced “Viable”

NICOSIA, March 17 (Reuters) – Noble Energy is expected to declare its Aphrodite natural gas reserve off Cyprus commercially viable within weeks, paving the way for exports, Cyprus’s energy minister said on Tuesday.

The move would be an important milestone for Cyprus, which required an international bailout in 2013 and is now looking at an economic turnaround based partly on offshore reserves.

“This is very important for Cyprus because it will be the first time we go beyond the phase of hydrocarbons exploration to development and exploitation,” Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said after a meeting with Noble executives and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.

“This sends a message to foreign buyers that we have natural gas to sell,” Lakkotrypis said.

Cyprus is seeking to develop the energy sector to bolster an economy that relies mostly on tourism, business services and shipping.

Cyprus and Egypt are looking into the possibility of transferring gas from the Aphrodite deposit to Egypt via an undersea pipeline. The island has, for now, shelved plans to create its own liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal.

Noble is the only company licensed by Cyprus to have made a discovery, with an estimated 4.54 trillion cubic feet in its Aphrodite field.

Keith Elliot, senior vice-president for Noble in the Eastern Mediterranean, described the field’s prospects as a tremendous opportunity.

“We hope (it) will bring prosperity to both the people of Cyprus and the government of Cyprus, as well as the other countries in the region,” Elliot said.

(Writing by Michele Kambas; Editing by Jason Neely and David Goodman)

Aramco Hiring Laid-Off US Fracking Oil Engineers To Help Saudis Develop “Dry-Fracking”

US shale boom may be over by end of 2015 – OPEC

Saudi Arabia Woos Fired U.S. Shale Workers


(Bloomberg) — Workers fired from U.S. shale fields after the collapse in oil prices could soon have a new boss: the nation some blame for driving that decline.

The state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Co., also known as Saudi Aramco, is posting new job ads online aiming to snap up experts in extracting oil from shale as the country seeks to become a leader in that rapidly expanding effort. Tens of thousands of U.S. workers have been fired since November as oil prices plunged because of oversupplies, driven in part by an OPEC decision supported by Saudi Arabia.

That’s now giving Saudi Aramco a better chance to lure experienced workers to its own shale formations. Difficult living conditions had previously made the country a hard sell, said Tobias Read, chief executive officer of Swift Worldwide Resources, a recruiting firm.

“We’ve seen people who have historically been reticent to look at Saudi Arabia who are now more accepting of a job there,” Read said in an interview.

For decades, the Saudis have recruited workers from the U.S. for its conventional drilling programs, offering hefty salaries and benefits as lures. Even so, “it’s been hard for us to put people there,” Read said. “The conditions are just quite difficult.”

Previously, Saudi Aramco didn’t need expertise in shale oil and natural gas exploration because it has large conventional oil reserves that don’t require expensive extra steps to develop, such as the hydraulic fracturing or horizontal drilling used in shale rock.

‘Unconventional’ Oil

As those highly productive fields age, however, development of shale resources, along with other hard-to-reach oil categorized as “unconventional,” may help Saudi Aramco maintain its dominance in the oil market, according to John Kingston, president of the McGraw Hill Financial Institute.

“With the layoffs, it’s a great time to do it,” he said about the recruitment effort.

Nigel O’Connor, a spokesman for Saudi Aramco didn’t answer questions on the specifics of the company’s campaign, or its timing. “To support the implementation of our strategy and continued growth, Saudi Aramco continues to hire expertise in a number of technical areas across the unconventional gas resource value-chain,” he said by e-mail.

In November, the Saudis led a decision by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to maintain production levels of its 12 member countries despite falling prices. The hiring campaign comes after some U.S. oil chiefs, including Continental Resources Inc. CEO Harold Hamm, blamed the Saudis for causing the North American cutbacks.

New Ads

In February, Saudi Aramco posted several new ads on websites including Rigzone and LinkedIn that focused on shale expertise. One recent LinkedIn listing for a petroleum engineer with shale experience drew 160 applicants in a month, according to data from the professional networking website.

“Consider the opportunity to join our team and help shape the future of key global unconventional resource development,” the ads say, referring to shale-rock exploration that’s led to a renaissance in U.S. oil and natural gas production.

Additionally, since the start of the year, Saudi Aramco has added an “unconventionals” category to its recruiting website, where 35 job listings require specific experience in shale. A recruiting company, Whitney Human Resources, has also written directly to prospective employees on Saudi Aramco’s behalf.

A February letter from Whitney obtained by Bloomberg News said there are three areas of the country where Saudi Aramco has an “active exploration program” for unconventional gas resources.

‘Exciting Development’

“Senior managers from the company will be in North America in the forthcoming months to meet professionals with your background who are interested in joining this exciting development,” the letter said.

A recruiting professional at Whitney declined to answer questions about its work with Saudi Aramco.

The nation is interested in developing natural gas in its shale formations to help replace the equivalent of 900,000 barrels a day of domestic crude and fuel oil used to generate local electricity supplies, according to a March 10 research note by a team of Barclays Plc analysts including David Anderson in New York.

On a recent trip to the region, the analysts learned that Saudi Arabia fears damaging its oil- and-gas-rich formations with shale drilling, which could hurt future production, Barclays said in the note. To date, only eight shale gas wells have been drilled in the country with plans to drill 135 wells over the next 3 years.

Recruiting Efforts

“Soon, Saudi Aramco will be known not just for conventional oil and gas production, but as a leader in full life-cycle unconventional gas development,” the company said in a recent ad.

Saudi Aramco’s shale recruiting efforts are akin to a Chinese factory running a U.S. factory out of business, then trying to hire the unemployed workers to improve operations in China, said Michael Webber, an associate professor at the University of Texas and deputy director of the Energy Institute.

After watching the U.S. shale revolution collapse on low prices, Saudi Aramco is seizing the opportunity to bolster its own expertise in shale.

“They don’t want to start from scratch,” Webber said. “They have no experience with shale and they have to hire outside workers. It’s a way to leapfrog.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Kelly Gilblom in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Susan Warren at Will Wade

U.S. Omits Iran and Hezbollah From Terror Threat List

U.S. Omits Iran and Hezbollah From Terror Threat List



Lebanese Hezbollah supporters gesture as they march during a religious procession to mark Ashura in Beirut’s suburbs November 14, 2013. Sharif Karim/REUTERS


An annual security assessment presented to the U.S. Senate by James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, has excluded Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah from its list of terror threats to U.S. interests, despite both being consistently included as threats in previous years.

The unclassified report, issued by Clapper on February 26 and entitled the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Communities, was published by the Times of Israel amid Israeli concerns that Iran was omitted simply because of Tehran’s efforts to combat ISIS.

In a previous report from January 2014, Clapper included Iran and Hezbollah in the ‘Terrorism’ section, writing that both “continue to directly threaten the interests of U.S. allies. Hizballah [sic] has increased its global terrorist activity in recent years to a level that we have not seen since the 1990s”. Iran was also given its own sub-heading in the ‘Terrorism’ section of such assessments in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Yet in the latest report, Clapper omits both Iran and Hezbollah from this section, only mentioning the Shiite Muslim militant group once in reference to the threat it faces from radical Sunni groups – such as ISIS and the al-Nusra Front – on Lebanon’s borders. In regard to Iran, the report names it as both a cyber and regional threat to the U.S. because of its support for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

However, the report speaks of Tehran’s assistance in preventing “ISIL [another term for ISIS] from gaining large swaths of additional territory” in Iraq. It adds that the Islamic Republic has “intentions to dampen sectarianism, build responsive partners, and deescalate tensions with Saudi Arabia”.

The report fails to mention that Hezbollah is labelled as a terrorist organisation by both the U.S. and the European Union, while it receives the majority of its funding from Tehran. The omission comes as Washington and other world powers continue to negotiate with Iran to strike a deal over its nuclear program and capabilities.

The assessment adds that Iran has “overarching strategic goals of enhancing its security, prestige, and regional influence [that] have led it to pursue capabilities to meet its civilian goals and give it the ability to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons, if it chooses to do so.”

The Israeli thinktank Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center has claimed that the removal of both actors from the U.S. terror assessment comes amid Iranian support in the fight against ISIS, where Tehran’s shadowy former spymaster Qasem Soleimani is directing the offensive on the Sunni-majority city of Tikrit.

“We believe that this results from a combination of diplomatic interests (the United States’ talks with Iran about a nuclear deal) with the idea that Iran could assist in the battle against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and maybe even in the battle against jihadist terrorism in other countries,” the NGO’s assessment of the report said.

Max Abrahms, professor of political science at Northeastern University and member at the Council of Foreign Relations, believes that the omission signals a “quid pro quo” between Washington and Tehran.

“I think that we are looking at a quid pro quo, where Iran helps us with counter-terrorism and we facilitate their nuclear ambitions and cut down on our labelling of them as terrorists,” says Abrahms. “The world has changed. The Sunni threat has gotten worse, the Islamic State is a greater danger than al-Qaeda ever was, and the Iranians have really come up big in terms of helping us out in combating the Islamic State.”

Hezbollah has been accused of responsibility for a number of terror attacks against U.S. or its partners interests, such as the 1983 bombings of the U.S. embassy and American military barracks in the Lebanese capital, Beirut; the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community centre in Argentina and the 2012 Burgas bus bomb on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria.

Heavily-Armed Venezuelan Civilian Militias Prepare For Potential US Invasion

“I can’t imagine why Venezuela needs 100,000 AK-47s,” Rumsfeld told reporters

“In 2012…equipment acquired by Caracas from the Russian defense industry at $4.4 billion…includes…100,000 AK-103 machine guns…and 5,000 SVD sniper rifles.”

Massive military drills in Venezuela as govt stands up to perceived US threat (VIDEO)


Executive Order – Blocking Property and Suspending Entry of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Venezuela

white house


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By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) (NEA), the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-278) (the “Venezuela Defense of Human Rights Act”) (the “Act”), section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (8 U.S.C. 1182(f)) (INA), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,

I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, find that the situation in Venezuela, including the Government of Venezuela’s erosion of human rights guarantees, persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, use of violence and human rights violations and abuses in response to antigovernment protests, and arbitrary arrest and detention of antigovernment protestors, as well as the exacerbating presence of significant public corruption, constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat. I hereby order:

Section 1. (a) All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in:

(i) the persons listed in the Annex to this order; and

(ii) any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State:

(A) to be responsible for or complicit in, or responsible for ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, or to have participated in, directly or indirectly, any of the following in or in relation to Venezuela:

(1) actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions; 2

(2) significant acts of violence or conduct that constitutes a serious abuse or violation of human rights, including against persons involved in antigovernment protests in Venezuela in or since February 2014;

(3) actions that prohibit, limit, or penalize the exercise of freedom of expression or peaceful assembly; or

(4) public corruption by senior officials within the Government of Venezuela;

(B) to be a current or former leader of an entity that has, or whose members have, engaged in any activity described in subsection (a)(ii)(A) of this section or of an entity whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order;

(C) to be a current or former official of the Government of Venezuela;

(D) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of:

(1) a person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or

(2) an activity described in subsection (a)(ii)(A) of this section; or

(E) to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.

(b) The prohibitions in subsection (a) of this section apply except to the extent provided by statutes, or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the effective date of this order.

Sec. 2. I hereby find that the unrestricted immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens determined to meet one or more of the criteria in subsection 1(a) of this order would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of such persons, except where the Secretary of State determines that the person’s entry is in the national interest of the United States. This section shall not apply to an alien if admitting the alien into the United States is necessary to permit the United States to comply with the Agreement Regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations, signed at Lake Success June 26, 1947, and entered into force November 21, 1947, or other applicable international obligations. 3

Sec. 3. I hereby determine that the making of donations of the type of articles specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to section 1 of this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in this order, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order.

Sec. 4. The prohibitions in section 1 of this order include but are not limited to:

(a) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; and

(b) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

Sec. 5. (a) Any transaction that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, causes a violation of, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

(b) Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

Sec. 6. For the purposes of this order:

(a) the term “person” means an individual or entity;

(b) the term “entity” means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization;

(c) the term “United States person” means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States;

(d) the term “Government of Venezuela” means the Government of Venezuela, any political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including the Central Bank of Venezuela, and any person owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, the Government of Venezuela.

Sec. 7. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render those measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in this order, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1 of this order.

Sec. 8. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA and 4

section 5 of the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights Act, other than the authorities contained in sections 5(b)(1)(B) and 5(c) of that Act, as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order, with the exception of section 2 of this order, and the relevant provisions of section 5 of that Act. The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government consistent with applicable law. All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order.

Sec. 9. The Secretary of State is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA, the INA, and section 5 of the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights Act, including the authorities set forth in sections 5(b)(1)(B), 5(c), and 5(d) of that Act, as may be necessary to carry out section 2 of this order and the relevant provisions of section 5 of that Act. The Secretary of State may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government consistent with applicable law.

Sec. 10. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to determine that circumstances no longer warrant the blocking of the property and interests in property of a person listed in the Annex to this order, and to take necessary action to give effect to that determination.

Sec. 11. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to submit the recurring and final reports to the Congress on the national emergency declared in this order, consistent with section 401(c) of the NEA (50 U.S.C. 1641(c)) and section 204(c) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1703(c)).

Sec. 12. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

Sec. 13. This order is effective at 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on March 9, 2015.


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