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Arab Spring – Is the West After Gold?

December 14, 2011 1 comment

In the last 60 years, the West has lost ‘market share’ in gold from more than 50% to nearly 20% of global gold reserves!

(Cartoon courtesy - cagle.com; Cartoon by John Darkow, The Columbia Daily Tribune, Missouri.).

(Cartoon courtesy - cagle.com; Cartoon by John Darkow, The Columbia Daily Tribune, Missouri.).

Rivers – shallow and dry

Arab Spring protests have petered out into directionless change – and the outlook seems bleak.

The unspoken element in these regime changes is the ‘personal’ wealth of the Egyptian and Tunisian rulers.

After Ben Ali, the Tunisian leader came to France, fleeing from his own country, the French Government seized a plane reputedly containing 1.5 tons of gold – that ‘belonged’ to the Tunisian ruler.

Gaddafi’s assets have been frozen in UK, USA and Switzerland.

Mubarak’s wealth

Estimates abound.

There is a lower range estimate of US$ 2-3 billion – which most reject as too conservative. CNN’s Tom Foreman puts in an astounding figure of US$40 billion-75 billion. Based on a video transcript, ‘Mubarak is worth somewhere between $40 billion and $75 billion, CNN’s Tom Foreman estimates’. An unsubstantiated report, estimates Mubarak’s gold holdings at US$ 9 billion.

Average prices of gold in February 2011, were in the region of US$45 million per tonne of gold. That would be 2000 tons – one of the largest hoards in the world. More gold than the national reserves of any country – except the Top 5 reserves.

Just carting around 2000 tons of gold – or its cash equivalent would be inviting trouble.

More on Egyptian gold

As the legs on Mubarak’s throne wobbled, gold prices also wobbled downwards – significantly?

Now why would that happen?

Egypt is not a major producer of gold. Production from the Sukari mines (started production in Jun 2009) is now at 1 ton – expected to go up to 14 tons (500,000 oz). Miniscule in comparison to global output at more than 2000 tons.

Alexander Nubia, a Toronto-based mining operator owns gold exploration properties at Abu Marwat that is expected to start production next year – with a potential of 500,000 oz – i.e. another 14 tons.

Total production in Egypt – less than 30 tons.

Egypt is also not a major buyer of gold. Total annual consumption of gold in Egypt is around 50 tons – about 3 weeks of India’s consumption.

Is it that players in the market expected Mubarak’s gold hoard to be dumped into the market?

Libyan Treasures

Libya’s official gold holdings are in the similar range as Egypt’s – some 143 tons. International bodies have estimated Libya’s reserves higher than 143 tonnes.

In March 2011, the IMF estimated Libya’s reserves even higher but the official amount remained 144 tons that were registered by Gaddafi-controlled Libya’s Central Bank.

This apart, Gaddafi surrounded himself with some gold trinkets – pistols, golf clubs, etc. After the capture and killing of Gaddafi, it is unclear the where and what of Libyan gold.

The Fall Of USSR

Western media has been tom-toming how Xerox and fax machines were behind the Soviet collapse.

Not quite. The real story …?

A lot of Nazi and Soviet gold came into the markets, it is surmised, during the 1999-2005 Central Bank Gold Sales agreement – which was put in place to depress gold prices. These depressed gold prices, that coincided with price declines in oil, platinum and other commodities, bankrupted the Soviet economy – and not Xerox and fax machines.

Is Arab gold the reason for this mayhem of regime changes?


2ndlook posts

External posts

Welcome to Libya’s ‘democracy’

November 27, 2011 Leave a comment

 

Why does every US military intervention end up with politics dependent on terrorism and economies subverted by drugs?

The neo-colonial mirage. Does Libya own its oil - now or then, too! |  Graphic source and courtesy - http://thesantosrepublic.com  |  Click for larger source image.

The neo-colonial mirage. Does Libya own its oil – now or then, too! | Graphic source and courtesy – http://thesantosrepublic.com | Click for larger source image.

A large Benghazi-based “revolution” sold to the West as a popular movement was always a myth. Only two months ago the armed “revolutionaries” barely numbered 1,000. NATO’s solution was to build a mercenary army – including all sorts of unsavory types, from former Colombian death squad members to recruiters from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), who pinched scores of unemployed Tunisians and tribals disgruntled with Tripoli. All these on top of the CIA mercenary squad – Salafis in Benghazi and Derna – and the House of Saud squad – the Muslim Brotherhood gang.

It’s hard not to be reminded of the UCK drug gang in Kosovo – the war NATO “won” in the Balkans. Or of the Pakistanis and Saudis, with US backing, arming the “freedom fighters” of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Then there’s the dodgy, Benghazi-based, Transitional National Council (TNC)’s cast of characters.

The leader, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, Gaddafi’s justice minister from 2007 until his resignation on February 26, studied sharia and civil law at the University of Libya. That might entitle him to cross rhetorical swords with the Islamic fundamentalists in Benghazi, al-Baida and Delna – but he could use his knowledge to press their interests in a new power-sharing arrangement.

As for Mahmoud Jibril, the chairman of the council’s executive board, he studied at Cairo University and then the University of Pittsburgh. He’s the key Qatari connection – having been involved in asset management for Sheikha Mozah, the ultra high-profile wife of the emir of Qatar.

There’s also the son of the last monarch of Libya, King Idris, deposed by Gaddafi 42 years ago (with no bloodshed); the House of Saud would love a new monarchy in northern Africa. And the son of Omar Mukhtar, the hero of the resistance against Italian colonialism – a more secular figure.

The new Iraq?

Yet to believe that NATO would win the war and let the “rebels” control power is a joke. Reuters has already reported that a “bridging force” of around 1,000 soldiers from Qatar, the Emirates and Jordan will arrive in Tripoli to act as police. And the Pentagon is already spinning that the US military will be on the ground to “help to secure the weapons”. A nice touch that already implies who’s going to be really in charge; the “humanitarian” neo-colonialists plus their Arab minions.

Abdel Fatah Younis, the “rebel” commander killed by the rebels themselves, was a French intelligence asset. He was killed by the Muslim Brotherhood faction – just when the Great Arab Liberator Sarkozy was trying to negotiate an endgame with Saif al-Islam, Gaddafi’s London School of Economics son now back from the dead.

So the big winners in the end are London, Washington, the House of Saud and the Qataris (they sent jets and “advisers”, they are already handling the oil sales). With a special mention for the compound Pentagon/NATO – considering that Africom will finally set up its first African base in the Mediterranean, and NATO is one step closer to declaring the Mediterranean “a NATO lake”.

Islamism? Tribalism? These may be Libya’s lesser ills compared to a new fantasyland open to neo-liberalism. There are few doubts the new Western masters won’t try to revive a friendlier version of Iraq’s nefarious, rapacious Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), turning Libya into a hardcore neo-liberal dream of 100% ownership of Libyan assets, total repatriation of profits, Western corporations with the same legal standing of local firms, foreign banks buying local banks and very low income and corporate taxes.

Meanwhile, the deep fracture between the center (Tripoli) and the periphery for the control of energy resources will fester. BP, Total, Exxon, all Western oil giants will be gratefully rewarded by the transitional council – to the detriment of Chinese, Russian and Indian companies. NATO troops on the ground will certainly help to keep the council on message. (via Asia Times Online :: THE ROVING EYE: Welcome to Libya’s ‘democracy’).

After American military interventions, many economies were subverted by drugs - and politics by terrorism. Why?  |  Cartoon by Charlie Daniels; source and courtesy - http://editorialexplanations.blogspot.com   |   Click for source image.

After American military interventions, many economies were subverted by drugs – and politics by terrorism. Why? | Cartoon by Charlie Daniels; source and courtesy – http://editorialexplanations.blogspot.com | Click for source image.

Oil … The Big Story

Pepe Escobar, specializes in seeing how oil influences the West – and dictates policy all over the world – from Uzbekistan to Uganda. He has also traced (in other posts) how China has moved across various geographies, to secure its oil interests.

The other element that Pepe Escobar touches on is the role of KLA-UCK, a significant part of the Serbo-Croat problem in Bosnia-Kosovo.

KLA being the English abbreviation of the Albanian name UCK (Ushtria Clirimtare E Kosoves) – a known entity dealing in drugs, well-funded and sufficiently armed.

Sources?

War, Drugs .Terror

Widely supported, trained and equipped by US and West European governments, the KLA-UCK targeted the Serbs and Roma Gypsies. Yugoslavia (now Crotia, Bosnia-Herzegovinia, Serbia, Montenegro), for long a legal drug-supplier to Europe, apparently continued this trade even after WWII, when it declared illegal.

After WWII, traditional opium supplies from (Greater) China, by Government granted opium monopolies of Yugoslavia and Italy, were replaced by Iran, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Mexico. It was the Golden Triangle and the Golden Crescent which dominated opium supplies from 1960s, after the start of Vietnam War.

Even though most drugs in the world originated in India; India remains a producer of these drugs - Indians are not major users.  |  Cartoon by Mike Keefe; on 25 March, 2009; source and courtesy - theipinionsjournal.com  |  Click for larger source image.

Even though most drugs in the world originated in India; India remains a producer of these drugs – Indians are not major users. | Cartoon by Mike Keefe; on 25 March, 2009; source and courtesy – theipinionsjournal.com | Click for larger source image.

The Pattern Behind Drugs

There is a pattern in Central Europe and Afghanistan-Pakistan, South East Asia. All these regions became major centres of drug trade. In an earlier post, we had seen how close US allies became terror hot-spots.

Golden Triangle in SE Asia; Golden Crescent in Af-Pak region; and the Russian-Eastern/Central European mafias. Drug flows from these new supply sources coincided with America’s Asian Wars in Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Korea, etc. These wars were justified under Eisenhower’s Domino Theory – which made Communism an enemy ‘under-your-bed’.

The subject of much research, many Hollywood films and significant evidence confirm that American armed forces and the CIA were behind drugs import into USA. The so-called Phoenix operation was run by CIA with some 200 Green Berets – whose major activity, apart from killings, assassinations and torture, was narcotics. For some time during the Vietnam War, the French intelligence also used drug money to funds its own operation. Like its British and American counterparts, French Government identified its intelligence agencies to manage drug trade.

In former Yugoslavia, the Albanian mafia made $45 million annually in 1990s by controlling the Turkish drug chain from Istanbul through Zurich to New York. A large chunk of this money returned to Kosovo to finance separatist activities inside the province as well as use the money to buy sympathies from the international NGOs that will implicitly advocate Kosovo Albanian separatist agenda.

Ethnic Albanians were initiated as the couriers for the Turkish and Bulgarian state mafia thirty years ago. These used smuggling of narcotics as the source of financing secret political, military and intelligence service operations. The majority of them were recruited in the “Kosovo triangle” Veliki Trnovac-Preševo-Gnjilane, marked on Interpol map as a black point on world drug routes.

French expert on narcotics, Alen Labrus described Kosovo Albanian drug smuggling operations to the Washington Post as being managed by tough, merciless bands that have displaced Turks as the leading smuggling clan:

“Powerful Turkish clans controlling Europe heroin market, realized that Russian, Caucasian and Albanian narco-mafia have invaded their territory in the last ten years, looking for their part of the market and profit. Kosovo ethnic Albanians have become so strong that they keep under their control 70% of drug market just in Switzerland. The war in the Balkans interrupted previous Yugoslav channels of drug smuggling. (via Balkan Death: The Albanian Narco-Mafia | Serbianna Analysis).

Who Pays

While the Oil and Terror linkage is much talked about, the role of Saudi Arabian funding much discussed, the global footprint of the drug trade is overlooked. As controls on gold sparked a global crime wave, the war on drugs is sparking another crime wave – a wave of terror. When the West wanted they imposed Opium Trade in the name of open markets. When the West wanted they declared a war on drugs.

Either way, someone else is paying.

PS

The usual story – cure is worse than the disease. Will the NATO-supported regime in Libya be better than Gaddafi’s?

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi | Source: AFP Photo / Mahmud Turkia; Courtesy rt.com  |  Click for image.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi | Source: AFP Photo / Mahmud Turkia; Courtesy rt.com | Click for image.

The most serious charge against Saif al-Islam Gaddafi that Libya managed to back with evidence is over his failure to obtain a license for his camels, the head of Human Rights Watch says.

Kenneth Roth cited on his Twitter account complaints of lawyers of the International Criminal Court, who said the case of Saif is a “legal black hole”.

According to the lawyers, Libya said it would not charge “serious crimes, such as murder & rape, due to lack of evidence” and has only managed to charge him with “the absence of a licence for camels, and irregularities concerning fish farms” so far.

The ICC forcefully demanded that Saif al-Islam were extradited to The Hague earlier on Thursday. But the Libyan government refused to do so, insisting that it will try him on its soil.

via Gaddafi son’s atrocity: Failing to license camels? — RT.


 

‘Progress’ in Libya

November 13, 2011 2 comments

Over the last 100 years, the West has been installing and removing puppets to rule over the Middle East.

100 years of regime changes in the Middle East have distorted the course of events in the Middle East. (War in Libya - Cartoon by Mike Keefe, on 23 Mar 2011; editorial cartoonist for the Denver Post; source and courtesy - counterinformation.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

100 years of regime changes in the Middle East have distorted the course of events in the Middle East. (War in Libya - Cartoon by Mike Keefe, on 23 Mar 2011; editorial cartoonist for the Denver Post; source and courtesy - counterinformation.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

Who said Gaddafi had to go?

Hugh Roberts

Gaddafi is dead, the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriyya over. But is what we have witnessed, Hugh Roberts asks in the new issue of the LRB, ‘a revolution, or a counter-revolution’? In 1969 Gaddafi and his Free Officers overthrew King Idris, who had cut Libya off from the rest of the Arab world out of deference to the Western powers that had put him on the throne. Once in power, Gaddafi made new friends in Africa: Boumediène, King Hassan, Idi Amin. He even planned to provide the Sahel countries with water from the vast reserves beneath Libya’s desert. This will not be possible, following the success of the Nato-assisted ‘revolution’. Western (particularly French) water companies are queuing up alongside the oil firms for their slice of the action. A system of dual power is emerging, whereby decisions about everything that really counts – oil, gas, water, finance, trade, security – will be made outside the country. Though the NTC occupies centre stage in Tripoli, the country’s formal government, Roberts argues, ‘will be a junior partner of the new Libya’s Western sponsors’. More

Good time and place

This extract linked above is good place to start understanding how Libya and Gaddafi came to a sorry end. And now is a good time to remind ourselves of recent events in Middle East. But before that, a short recap of the last 100 years in the Middle East.

West has decided that Libya 'goes' to EU. (Cartoon by Brazilian Carlos Latuff; released on August 22, 2011). Click for source image.

West has decided that Libya 'goes' to EU. (Cartoon by Brazilian Carlos Latuff; released on August 22, 2011). Click for source image.

Killing fields

At the end of 19th century, as British Empire expanded into Africa, capturing gold mines of Africa, the most significant objective of the Anglo-Saxon Bloc was to end the Ottoman Empire. Declared a leading ideologue of the British Empire –

Just as Europe turns upon the dismemberment of Turkey, so the Eastern question in Asia turns upon the continued solidarity of Hindustan – George Nathaniel Curzon Curzon (Marquis of) in Problems of the Far East: Japan–Korea–China; published in 1894.

Secret agents as historians

Between 1890-1920, Britain worked on plans to dismember the Ottoman Empire – plans that were executed after WWI. Renegades-warlords fighting against the Ottoman Empire were glorified as ‘freedom-fighters’ of the Middle East and installed as pliable rulers by Western masters. Western intelligence agents, posing as archaeologists and historians (Sir Charles Leonard Woolley, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell, TE Lawrence), part of the Arab Bureau, were sent into Ottoman territories to support supply and manage these renegade-warlords.

Who do we kill today?  Who is up for killing?  |  Cartoonist Ted Rall on 21st Oct. 2011; source & courtesy - rall.com  |  Click for larger source image.

Who do we kill today? Who is up for killing? | Cartoonist Ted Rall on 21st Oct. 2011; source & courtesy - rall.com | Click for larger source image.

‘Progress’ … they promised

These Middle-East despots, then potentates, were put in positions of power after WWI by Western powers. All the while, condemning the ‘regressive’ Ottomans, making tall claims about ‘progress’, these despots have run the Middle-East into the ground. Within 20-30 years after their installation, these Western-puppets, ran out of good-will and were overthrown in a series of mostly bloodless coups. 30 years after the break up of the Ottoman Empire, the template was reused by the British Raj to break up India – using Jinnah.

A cure worse than the disease

Muammar Gaddafi was one such coup leader who overthrew King Idris – a Western puppet. While no paragon of benign governance, Western cures seem worse than the Islamic disease. The numbers of people that Saddam killed was far less than the score of George Bush. We may see similarly, that Qaddafi’s dictatorship was a lesser evil than the NATO puppets.

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