Iran Election Guide

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Entries in Oil (9)


Iran Live Coverage: The Oil Squeeze Renewed

See also Iran Video Feature: 50 Iranians Answer, "What's Your Wish?"
Iran Feature: The Fear in the Corridors of Evin Prison
Friday's Iran Live Coverage: "Widespread and Systematic Violations of Human Rights"

1758 GMT: The Battle Within. Prominent MP Ahmad Tavakoli --- who is also a relative of Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani and head of judiciary Sadegh Larijani --- has criticised both President Ahmadinejad and Mir Hossein Mousavi, the candidate in the 2009 Presidential election who has been under strict house arrest for more than two years, for "social mobilisation against the Supreme Leader".

1708 GMT: Oil Watch. Another problem for Iran's sagging oil exports, as Mercator Lines has stopped offering a ship for transporting Iranian oil to India because of US political pressure.

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Iran Audio Feature: How Serious is the Oil Crisis? --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24

Following the Iranian Minister of Oil's admission that oil exports fell 40% between March and December, I spoke with Monocle 24's The Briefing about the economic situation and the political consequences: could this crisis lead to the fall of the regime?

The discussion starts at the 11:16 mark.


Iran Feature: "Oil-Spill Sabotage To Block Strait of Hormuz" --- How Western Media Spreads a Scare Story

How Iran's head of armed forces, General Hassan Firouzabadi, might sabotage the Strait of Hormuz

A case study in how scary rumour and the "information" from Western intelligence agencies becomes headline news across the world....

On Sunday afternoon, an EA correspondent pointed me to a story in Germany's Der Spiegel magazine, "Environmental Disaster as a Weapon: Iran Is Planning Tanker Sabotage in the Gulf". The article's lead paragraph:

Mohammed Ali Jaafari, the hard-line commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and Admiral Ali Fadavi --- according to the Western intelligence --- have developed a sabotage plan that threatens the entire Gulf and could lead to an environmental disaster. The Top Secret plan, code-named "Murky Waters" and the classification "Top Secret", would widely contaminate the Strait of Hormuz through a deliberately-caused oil tanker disaster.

According to the supposed plan, Western nations would need Iran's technical help to clean up the Strait, a vital shipping lane, and restore transport of oil. The Islamic Republic, in return for this assistance, would insist on the lifting of sanctions.

The only problem? The story had no source other than the mysterious "Western intelligence" officials who were feeding it to Der Spiegel.

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The Latest from Iran (26 June): The Oil Squeeze

See also Iran Feature: The Week in Civil Society --- At Neda's Grave
Iran Snap Analysis: A Fight Within the Regime Over Egypt
The Latest from Iran (25 June): Doing the Currency Slide

1800 GMT: Oil Watch. Earlier we reported an apparent attempt by the National Iran Tanker Company to circumvent oil sanctions by re-naming 10 tankers and putting them under the Tanzanian flag (see 1100 GMT). It appears, however, that NITC has further problems....

Industry sources say the company has delayed the expansion of its fleet. A senior NITC official said the firm has yet to take delivery of a 318,000 deadweight tonne tanker "Safe", the first of 12 new supertankers the firm was to manage under a $1.2 billion contract with Chinese shipyards. Delivery was initially scheduled for May.

The delay also deprives the Islamic Republic of capacity to store oil on vessels as its customers cut purchases. Iran-based shipping sources said in April that Tehran had been forced to deploy more than half of its national tanker fleet to store oil at anchorage. That proportion has since increased, trade sources say.

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Middle East and Iran Audio Feature: "Oil and Politics" --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24

As OPEC announced record revenues from oil sales, but amid a fall in the price this spring, I spoke with Monocle 24 about the politics behind the production. Topics ranged from the squeeze on Iran to the place of countries like Iraq, Venezuela, and Libya to the role of Saudi Arabia as "first among equals" in manoeuvres between OPEC, the US, and Europe.

The discussion starts just after the 19-minute mark. To reach the programme, click on "Monocle Daily" for 19/06.


Iran Snap Analysis: Are the Oil Sanctions Tightening on Tehran?

We already knew about the US effort to persuade Japan and South Korea to reduce their supply of oil from Iran. What is striking now is the inclusion of China. Officially, Beijing is taking the firm stance that it will not agree to any stiffened sanctions. We have suspected that, behind the scenes, the Chinese might be more accommodating to a reduction of their imports from the Islamic Republic.  The New York Times observes, "This weekend [China's] prime minister, Wen Jiabao, will begin a five-day visit to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, perhaps to explore the prospect of increased energy imports."

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Africa Feature: Will Fuel Protests Ignite an Opposition Movement in Nigeria? (Campbell and Gambrell)

#OccupyNigeria: An activist-produced montage of the emerging protest movement

Is this the long-awaited Nigerian Spring? The conventional wisdom (which I shared but increasingly doubt) is that the country was too divided by religion and ethnicity and with too weak a sense of national identity for a popular opposition movement comparable to those that roiled Tunisia, Egypt or Syria. Yet, the protests are nationwide and peaceful; thus far, casualties have been caused by the security services, not the protestors. In some cases, protestors have organized themselves through the use of social media. Protestors in Kano are explicitly invoking the Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street movement. They refer to their encampment as "Occupy Kano" and its venue as "Tahrir Square".

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Iran Feature: China Curbs Iran Energy Work

Reuters reports that China is pulling the plug on plans to invest heavily in Iran's oil industry, in large part in order to escape US Sanctions and the ire of the US State Department. The opposite claim is being made by the Iranian regime and its state-run media, that China is set to invest $8.4 billion in the Azadegan oilfield.

China has put the brakes on oil and gas investments in Iran, drawing ire from Tehran over a pullback that officials and executives said reflected Beijing's efforts to appease Washington and avoid U.S. sanctions on its big energy firms.

The stakes are high for OPEC's second-largest producer, as China is one of the only powers on the international political stage capable of providing the billions of dollars of investment Tehran needs to maintain the capacity of its strategic oil sector.

Four energy executives in Beijing described retreats and slowdowns of Chinese ventures in Iran in recent months, even as China has bought more crude from its Middle East partner, which leans on Beijing for backing and investment to counter sanctions over its disputed nuclear plans.

Read full article.....


Libya Analysis: Explaining the Uprising --- "Libyans Have Written Their Own Epic" (Osborne)

Photo: ReutersTwo myths should be put to rest. First, the idea that Libya’s war originated as anything but a native conflict is nothing but paranoid speculation. Indeed, freedom fighters have systematically ignored international sanctimony and calls for a cease-fire. Libyans fought, and appear to have won, their own war, following their own plan. That they had help — from the sky, or via Egypt, or by sea — does not detract from the sacrifices of Libyans who refused to stop fighting and dying. They own their victory.

Second, the image of “ragtag revolutionaries” is also false. Freedom fighters have in fact been consistently clever and creative. While still undisciplined tactically, they have demonstrated good operational discipline and planning, and in fact have done a very good job of coordinating with air power despite the challenges. Never wavering in determination, Libyans have written their own epic, and it is a good one. All the allies did was help.

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