3 Other Massive Explosions that Left Us Wondering When Tactical Nukes Will Make Their Debut

(Vic Bishop) The world has been watching footage of the massive explosion in Beirut’s main city port yesterday, causing widespread speculation as to whether or not this was a covert military operation employing some new generation of tactical small-yield nuclear weapons.

The post 3 Other Massive Explosions that Left Us Wondering When Tactical Nukes Will Make Their Debut appeared on Stillness in the Storm.

THE EXPLOSION IN BEIRUT — High Octane Speculation

(Joseph P. Farrell) First off, let’s start with the obvious: I’m not a scientist, nor an explosives expert, nor anything even approximately close to the two. So take what follows with a grain of salt. In fact, probably a whole bag of salt. With that said, as one might expect, my inbox has been stuffed in the last two days with emails, videos, tweets, and so on, of that very large explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, that leveled a district of the city, sadly killed several people, and left many others -hundreds of thousands according to some reports with devastated homes.

The post THE EXPLOSION IN BEIRUT — High Octane Speculation appeared on Stillness in the Storm.

Western interventions in the Middle East failed – French PM

Entire cities have been destroyed by seven years of intense warfare in Syria [Xinhua]

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has called the West’s method of democratization by force a mistake and said that change must happen over time.

“Military interventions like we have seen in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya to impose democracy through fire failed to achieve their objectives,” Philippe said at the opening of the 2018 World Government Summit in Dubai.

Philippe’s comments are poignant because they fall within the scope of the Summit’s theme – Shaping Future Governments – and come at a time when Syria, Iraq and Libya appearing to be crumbling states after US-led coalition invasions and regime change.

More than a third of Iraq was controlled by terrorist forces like the Islamic State while dozens of militias impose their style of rule today with a weakened central government.

In Libya, different factions backed by different regional states continue to war over control of the country and its vast resources.

In Syria, while the Islamic State has been largely defeated new conflict has arisen with regional players like Turkey and Iran taking military action to protect their interests.

In just these three conflict zones, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and there has been an exodus of millions of refugees to Europe and neighboring Middle Eastern countries.

Philippe said that democratization cannot be exported. He pointed to the examples of European states which took centuries to progress toward democracy and libertarianism.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

In 2018, kiss the oil glut good bye

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih told reporters in early December that OPEC will monitor oil output and production to ensure that the agreement to curb output is met by all until the end of 2018 [Xinhua]

If you haven’t heard by now, 2017 ends with oil prices well breaching the $60 a barrel mark leaving producers much more confident as they head into 2018.

This is a boon on two fronts for the world’s biggest oil producers Russia and Saudi Arabia.

The Russians over the past three-and-a-half years have weathered the storm of crude oil prices plummeting from over $100 a barrel to $26 a barrel at one point.

To make matters worse, they were hit with punitive EU and American sanctions over the Ukraine crisis at the same time leaving their economists struggling to find an alternative path for economic growth.

After a number of state and banking interventions, the Russians were able to bounce back from the recession zone in late 2016, and from March of 2017 largely because they had rearranged their economy and based it on the $40 threshold.

The little momentum on the Ukraine tract since US President Donald Trump came into the White House and with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s successful intervention in the Syrian war, the rise in crude oil prices is only set to strengthen Russian influence in the Middle East and beyond.

Similarly, Saudi heir apparent Mohammed bin Salman consolidated his power base in the Kingdom with higher oil prices now only likely to boost the Saudi economy and that of many Arab Persian Gulf countries.

In the interim, this will serve his ambitious socio-economic and political reforms in the works for 2030.

Saudi Arabia’s most pivotal step in the oil markets has been its ability to coerce OPEC and non-cartel members to stick to the 1.8 million barrels a day production cuts since last year.

Hand in hand with the Russians, this has been one of the leading factors on boosting oil prices in 2017.

The two countries, once at loggerheads over Syria and Iran, have set aside their differences in favor of oil market stability.

2017 began with oil prices climbing in the $45-55 range to end the year near $67 a barrel.

With Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al Falih pledging that oil cuts will continue till the end of 2018, oil prices are likely to range between $60 and $70 a barrel for much of the year.

The biggest threat to market stability, of course is how quickly shale oil production will be back on line.

When the oil glut of 2014 hit, some speculated that Saudi Arabia had orchestrated the drop to stall shale oil research and development.

Whether the Saudis can take credit or not, big oil retreated from shale production over the past three years.

Will they make a comeback?

Any such threat will likely be offset by geopolitical instability in the Middle East.

The Saudi-Lebanese rift rattled markets in late November, and now tensions in major producer Iran – if prolonged – will likely do the same.

That’s yet another plus for the Saudis who are expected to sell shares of their oil giant Aramco to much public appeal and fanfare this year.

And it hurts none that their main rival in the region Iran is feeling the domestic heat.

By Firas Al-Atraqchi for The BRICS Post

Assad tells Putin: Ready to move with political process in Syria

Al Assad meets with Putin in Sochi, Russia on Tuesday November 21, 2017 [PPIO]

Russian President Vladimir Putin will call his American counterpart after Syrian President Bashar Al Assad concludes his trip to the Russian port city of Sochi.

“Already a talk is planned with the emir of Qatar and tomorrow—with the President of the U.S. Donald Trump, while afterwards (I will speak) with leaders from countries in the region,” a statement from the Kremlin quoted Putin on Tuesday.

In addition to President Donald Trump, Putin is expected to call the Qatari Emir to discuss resolving the Syrian civil war.

Al Assad had arrived in an unannounced visit to Sochi on Tuesday to coordinate peace initiatives ahead of an expected summit involving Iran, Russia and Turkey in the same port city.

The Syrian State news agency SANA quoted Al Assad as saying that “Russia’s military and economic support to Syria has achieved important results in various fields, such as humanitarian relief and military gains”.

“We still have a long way to go before we achieve a complete victory over terrorists. But as far as our joint work in fighting terrorism on the territory of Syria is concerned, this military operation is indeed wrapping up,” Putin told Al Assad, according to the Kremlin.

SANA said that Al Assad informed Putin that he was ready to move forward with a political process which will put an end to the Syrian civil war.

“We believe that the situation we now have on the ground and in the political sense permits us to expect progress in the political process. We count on the support of Russia to ensure the non-interference of outside players in the political process,” Al Assad said.

Syria has in the past year gained the upper hand against Islamist extremist rebel groups, such as Al Nusra and the Islamic State, largely thanks to Russian air support.

Read more: Alliances Shift in the Middle East as all Roads Lead to Moscow
Russia: Islamic State Routed in Syria

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

Russia: Islamic State routed in Syria

The Syrian army said its soldiers have surrounded Islamic State elements in Deir e Zor along the eastern border with Iraq [Xinhua]

The Russian military says that the Islamic State in Syria has been nearly routed even as the Syrian Arab Army announces that it has retaken yet more territory from the extremist group.

On Tuesday the Syrian Army’s 4th Mechanized Division said it had liberated east Hama city and destroyed the Islamic State’s largest training facility there.

The Syrian Army is now fighting its way into Deir e Zor in the east along the border with Iraq, backed by Russian fighter jets and bombers.

This follows the liberation of the town of Mayadeen, also in the east, from the Islamic State.

Sergei Rudskoi, chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff, says that the Islamic State now controls less than eight per cent of Syrian territory.

Meanwhile, US-backed rebel group the Syrian Democratic Forces, comprised mostly of Kurdish militia, said it had fully liberated the city of Raqqa from Islamic State fighters.

Raqqa had been the self-styled capital of the Islamic State caliphate for the last three years.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies