Ukraine war: USA forgets about the Greater Middle East and remembers the Asian pivot

Ukraine war: USA forgets about the Greater Middle East and remembers the Asian pivot

Due to the Ukraine war and its atrocities, the Western media don´t care about other regions than Europe anymore. Former military advisor General Erich Vad said in a Phoenix talk that the West also killed hundred thousands in the Iraq war and Afghanistan, caused refugee waves and had also elimination lists for special operations by death squadrons in these countries. After the withdrawal of the West in the Greater Middle East from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan there are no reports anymore about the upcoming humanitarian crisis. Another example is the Tigray war which caused half a million deads due to the war, Corona, economic slump and starvation. As the Jerusalem Post reports:

“As many as 500,000 people have been killed in the Tigray war, some from the fighting, more from starvation and many from a lack of medical attention, Belgium’s Ghent University estimated in a report last month. Yevarkan also cited UN reports of over two million displaced and over nine million hungry in Ethiopia’s war-torn north.”

The likely drop in agricultural production of wheat and other agricultural productss from  Ukraine and Russia will also cause a humanitarian crisis, even a food crisis with starvation int the Greater Middle East and Africa as also the UN food aid relied on these sources for all these states. Catalysing this development the spread of Islamism and the climate change are other factors as the CCP´s mouth piece, the Global Times reports about the drought in South Iraq and around Basra:

“Worried about the future

Iraq’s farmers pushed off land as drought and heat cripple crops  (…)

Iraq is the fifth most vulnerable country in the world to extreme temperatures and water shortages, according to the UN Environment Programme.

The Basra region – already stifling in the summer, with a top recorded temperature of 53.8 C – is among the worst-affected areas.

As harsher drought and heat hit food production and the incomes of people dependent on agriculture, about one in 15 Iraqi households in late 2021 saw at least one family member migrate to seek new economic opportunities, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), which researches the issue.

Less water

The pressures are evident in Abu al-Khaseeb, south of the city of Basra along the Shatt al-Arab river.

New German agriculture minister Cem Özdemir is now talking about a Russian strategy to occupy wheat chamber Ukraine and starve these regions, Afriaca and the Greater Middle East to become a agricultural empire besides its resource empire of oil,gas and raw materials, make this countires dependent from Russian food aid and cause regugee migration to destabilze these regions and The West. That might be not wrong in the consequene and results, but the question is, if Putin really has this sort of master plan or it  is not more coincidence of several factors beyond the Ukraine war.

However while the West and especially Germany and the EU is in a discussion about an oil or gas import embargo against Russia and its possible consequences for its industries, consumers and economic competivness and enegry transitition of the New Green Deal, Israel also discusses, if its and the Mediterean gas could replace Russian gas and be a contribution:

“If Europe boycotts Russian gas, can Israel meet their needs? – opinion

Israel and Egypt are producers of natural gas and the question is whether they or other east Mediterranean potential producers are relevant to the current situation.

B Oded Eran

Published: April 11, 2022 21:29

A senior German minister has called for a discussion about boycotting the import of Russian natural gas in reaction to the alleged atrocities of Russian soldiers in Ukraine. Morally, an absolutely correct stand. It is easy to imagine the discussion, if it takes place when fellow European politicians will point to their countries’ dependence on the importation of oil and natural gas and even coal, yes, coal to the continent in which the Green Deal is its new flagship.

The European Union imported 155 billion cubic meters (BCM) from Russia in 2021. Half of Germany’s imported gas arrives from Russia, 46% in Italy and a quarter in France, the three leading economies of the EU and all members of the G7. Not surprisingly, the EU has not imposed sanctions on the this sector, but the issue has been very high on the agenda.

Following his three summits with the leaders of the EU, NATO and the G7 on March 25, President Biden declared that the US will inject 15 BCM of natural gas to the world market in 2022 with more to come in the future. They will release one million oil barrels a day in the next 6 months from its strategic reserves in an effort to lower supply and price pressures. The president must have had his own country on his mind and its economic indicators showing growing inflation in which rising fuel prices are a key factor.

Israel and Egypt are producers of natural gas and the question is whether they or other east Mediterranean potential producers are relevant to the current situation. Given production capacity, existing supply contracts and conveyance capacity, Israel may have 10 BCM annually to add to Europe’s demand, while Egypt is mostly engaged in its domestic market.

Egypt though becomes a key player if Israel is asked to help mitigate a crisis in Russia’s natural gas supply to Europe, since currently it holds the sole connection for the Israeli gas to Europe. There are two ways to convey natural gas – pump it into pipes or liquefy it, load it on specially built tankers and re-gasify it at the other end, close to the client. The liquefacation of natural gas (LNG), its shipping and regasification require investments of billions of dollars.

Israel has been able to avoid these investments because after deducting sufficient quantities for long term Israel domestic consumption and that by close regional buyers, about 500-600 BCM are left for exports, assuming no new fields are discovered. That quantity does not justify huge investments.

The most feasible financial and technical option is a pipe that would connect east Mediterranean gas fields to Turkey’s web of pipelines, which connect central Asia gas fields to Europe. The political feasibility of this option is marred by Turkey’s President Erdogan’s unpredictability, let alone conflicts, such as those between Israel Syria and Lebanon, the Exclusive Economic Zones of which the shortest route of this pipe will have to cross, or the conflict between Turkey, Cyprus and Greece. In the last decade, Israel and Egypt have forged close cooperation with the two Hellenic Mediterranean neighbors, which they would like to preserve while finding the miraculous formula that will enable all these old conflicts to be pushed aside seems unlikely.

What is left in this situation if Israel can relatively quickly move about 10 BCM to Europe but has no immediately available way of doing that, is to use floating liquefying installations, which are movable and can be located close to gas fields. They are costly but less than the fixed ones. This option does not rule out continuing the use of the pipeline from the Israeli gas fields to Egypt or pursuing the study of a pipeline to Turkey.

All these options depend, of course, on the European decision to purchase natural gas from the east Mediterranean. The EU has financed a study of a pipeline from the gas fields of the region to Europe but seems indifferent to this project.

When considering the LNG from the region, the EU and the US should also consider the probability, though not high, that Lebanon, a declared bankrupt state, would come to its senses and agree to settle the maritime border dispute with Israel in an equitable manner. That may unblock its ability to start the production of natural gas in its economic waters. The foreign companies involved, Chevron on the Israeli side, Total and Eni on the Lebanese side, will then find it easy to reach operational agreements on the joint use of pipes and liquefying equipment.

The pace of Israel depleting its natural gas reserves by local and regional consumption, and preferably with European demand, will also determine how fast it moves towards reliance on renewable energy sources .The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a human, moral and economic disaster. It may be also remembered as a major catalyst in the elimination of dependence on fossil energy resources, not just Russian ones.

The writer is a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies, Tel Aviv University, and a veteran Israeli diplomat.

It means that Israel and the Mediterean gas can only replace a faction of Russian gas and that you might have to build a pipeline through Erdogan- Turkey which like Qatar that German superminister Habeck visited is supporting Hamas and the Muslimbrotherhood and other Islamists in the Greater Middle East. Therefore Israel is discussing at he moment how much to engage in the Ukraine war, to be a mediator, to engage with Islamist and unreliable Turkey, reacting to the Iran deal talks in Vienna, the US drift to easen the oil sanctions on Iran and Venezuela,  and how to position itself against Russia as it is part of the West, but needs the Russian cooperation to fight Hisbollah and Iran in Syria. However, the EU also is working on a study if a pipeline through Turkey was not replacing Satan Putin with the devil Erdogan and run into the next geopolitical problems and dependency.

All this is not a focus of Western media attention. However, after the USA reengaged so intensively in Europe, it wants to show its Asian allies that the USA has not forgotten the Asan pivot and the Indo-Pacific strategy. But  Myanmar is also not a big deal after last year´s media focus on it. The war is also continuing in Myanmar without any media attention. . According to The  Irrawady, 1,128 attacks by the people’s army in Yangon alone, the vice governor of the central bank was shot, the Burmese military is said to have burned down 700 villages and now the yakuza is also involved:

“US Arrests Yakuza Chief Who Sought Missiles for Three Myanmar Ethnic Armies

The question is whether the CIA and the Japanese secrat service was not involved by some proxies and the yakuza involvement was then exposed because they shouldn’t sell their filth in the USA but rather in Europe or somewhere else. DEA and CIA have such a love-hate relationship there. Also interesting that two ex-military men from Thailand are involved.”

However, interesting, but not a big issue. Important is taht the USA now ants to show its determination to the Indo- Pacific by a possible Taiwan visit by the speakrer of the House of Representative and the ruling Biden- Demoncrtas Nancy Pelosi, US secretary of State and defense Blinken and Austin to India as Biden critizised India for breaking the oil sanctions against Russia. After India made clear that it didn´t want to create an Euraisn finance system which decouples from the US dollar and that the USA should critizise the European as they imported huge amounts of Russian oil and gas while India only a small proportion, the US representatives now agreed on the following agenda:

THE TIMES OF INDIA | Apr 12, 2022, 20:29:37 IST

“India-US 2+2 dialogue live updates: India’s ties with Russia developed when US was unable to be its partner, says Blinken

India and the United States have reaffirmed their commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific following the fourth India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue held in Washington. Stay with TOI for the latest dev…Read More

20:29 (IST) Apr 12

He asserted this in response to mild criticism from US and searching questions from reporters about why India had not condemned Moscow’s aggression and whittled down energy purchases from Russia.

20:29 (IST) Apr 12

„We watch what’s happening in the world, like any country does, and we draw our conclusions and make our assessments. And believe me, we have a decent sense of what is in our interest and know how to protect it and advance it,“ India’s external affairs minister S.Jaishankar said.

20:28 (IST) Apr 12

India asserts self-interest in Russia-Ukraine spat

US has not yet made determination on potential sanctions or waivers to India under CATSAA law: Blinken

The US has not yet made any decision on potential sanctions or waivers to India under CATSAA law for its purchase of the S-400 missile defence system from Russia, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said. The US administration is required under its domestic law, Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) to impose sanctions on any country that has significant transactions with Iran, North Korea or Russia.

11:16 (IST) Apr 12

The Biden administration has reaffirmed its commitment to support India’s permanent membership in a reformed UN Security Council and New Delhi’s entry to the Nuclear Suppliers‘ Group.

11:04 (IST) Apr 12

In a joint statement on the fourth India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, the Ministers unequivocally condemned civilian deaths in Ukraine and sought immediate cessation of hostilities.

10:57 (IST) Apr 12

Amid the ongoing Russian military operation in Ukraine, India and the United States reviewed mutual efforts to respond to the worsening humanitarian crisis in Kyiv and assessed its broader implications.

10:28 (IST) Apr 12

The ministers reiterated their commitment to the take forward the initiatives announced by the leaders, to empower the Quad as a force for global good for the Indo-Pacific region; welcomed discussions in Quad working groups on vaccines, climate change: India-US statement

10:22 (IST) Apr 12

US monitoring some recent ‚concerning‘ human rights violations in India: Blinken

India and the US are restarting their bilateral commercial dialogue and the CEO’s forum later this year to deepen their bilateral trade and investment relationship, US secretary of state Antony Blinken has announced.

10:08 (IST) Apr 12

India’s relationship with Russia was developed over decades at a time when the US was not able to be a partner of the South Asian country, secretary of state Tony Blinken said as top officials of the Biden administration on Monday showed an understanding of New Delhi’s position on Ukraine war.

10:08 (IST) Apr 12

The demand for action by Pakistan was made through a joint statement issued after the 2+2 Ministerial attended by the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

10:01 (IST) Apr 12

The ministers welcomed the progress made in the last year on developing a positive and constructive agenda for the Quad to deliver peace and prosperity to the region in pursuance of their shared vision for a free& inclusive Indo-Pacific: India-US statement on 2+2 ministerial talks

10:00 (IST) Apr 12

India, US call on Pakistan to ensure its territory is not used for terror attacks

In a joint statement issued on the fourth India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, defence minister Rajnath Singh, external affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar, US secretary of state Antony J Blinken and secretary of defence Lloyd J Austin III welcomed the convening of the 18th Meeting of the India-US Joint Working Group on counterterrorism and the 4th Session of the India-US Designations Dialogue in October 2021.

09:35 (IST) Apr 12

US monitoring some recent ‚concerning‘ human rights violations in India: Blinken

The US is monitoring some recent „concerning developments“ on human rights violations in India by some government, police, and prison officials, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said. Blinken made these remarks at a joint news conference with Defence secretary Lloyd Austin and their Indian counterparts — external affairs minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh — after the conclusion of the 2+2 Ministerial on Monday.

09:04 (IST) Apr 12

India and the US have signed a bilateral space situational awareness arrangement, adding a new dimension to the growing defence relationship between the two countries, US defence secretary Lloyd Austin said.

08:59 (IST) Apr 12

The diplomatic and defence leaders of India and the US have discussed expanding their cooperation into new defence areas like space and cyberspace to enable their militaries to jointly meet the challenges of this century, according to a readout of their 2+2 meeting that stressed „common strategic interests“.

08:29 (IST) Apr 12

America is our natural ally, no two-ways about it …We want to maintain good ties with all the countries…,“ defence minister Rajnath Singh to ANI on India-US relations and the latter seeing India through China’s prism

08:28 (IST) Apr 12

Defence minister Rajnath Singh urges American companies to come and invest in India and support the ‚Make in India‘ programme.

08:25 (IST) Apr 12

India working towards mitigating global volatility, unpredictability: Jaishankar

The discussions during the India US 2+2 ministerial here has helped the two countries to strategize on mitigating the volatility and unpredictability that the world is currently experiencing, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said. „It has helped us today to strategize on mitigating the volatility and unpredictability that the world is currently experiencing. That will be naturally reflected in our policies,“ Jaishankar told reporters addressing a joint news conference with defence minister Rajnath Singh and their American counterparts secretary of state Tony Blinken and the defence secretary Lloyd Austin.

“US jabs China as it backs India as ‚defence industry leader in Indo-Pacific‘

The 2+2 dialogue between India and the US comes at a time when Europe is witnessing its worst war in decades. 

The United States „supports India as a defence industry leader in the Indo-Pacific and a net provider of security in the region,“ US secretary of defense Lloyd J. Austin said after the two countries held the crucial 2+2 ministerial dialogue on Monday. „We all understand the challenges that we’re facing. The People’s Republic of China is seeking to refashion the region in the international system more broadly… in ways it serves its interests.“

„I am pleased that we have identified new opportunities to extend the operational reach of our militaries. And to coordinate more closely on the expanse of the Indo-pacific. Last summer, the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group conducted the first-ever combined anti-submarine warfare and air exercise with the Indian Navy and Air Force, and we’re looking more to this sort of cooperation,“ he stressed.”

After Blinken and Austin vistit US president Biden will make his first visit to Asia to show that the USA is still a reliable partner in the Indo-Pacific, AUKUS, the Quad  and has not forgotten the region because of  the Ukraine war. However, Japan already wants to demonstrate the USA that it is a reliable partner. As a reaction to Russia´s war of aggression, Chinese bullying and assertiness in the Indo-Pacific and Northkroea´s new missile tests, it wants to renew its military strategy and install “enemy base strike cpablitities”, means a shift form the mere defensive deterrence of the Japanese Dfense Forces to an offensive deterrence  which also threatens military bases of “the enemy” in China and Northkorea and not just rely of the USA and its missile defense.

“LDP to propose enemy base strike capability as part of Japan security review

Apr 12, 2022

A Liberal Democratic Party national security panel has agreed to propose acquiring a so-called enemy base strike capabilities ahead of a planned revision to its National Security Strategy this year — a dramatic shift in the country’s exclusively defense-oriented policy under the pacifist Constitution.

Members of the LDP’s Research Commission on National Security told reporters Monday that there was no opposition to the controversial idea of possessing the capabilities during their meeting to discuss the party’s proposal, which will be made later in the month for the revision of the NSS.

The review of the long-term security guideline coincides with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has added to fears that China could be emboldened to pursue unification with Taiwan by force. Advances in North Korea’s ballistic missile program have also raised doubts about the defense capabilities of Japan, which relies heavily on the United States’ military presence.

Some panel members also called for a rewording of the term “enemy base strike capability” in a bid to emphasize that such means of counterattack would be purely for deterrence and defensive purposes.

The party apparently hopes to gain support from the public as well as the junior coalition partner Komeito, which has been cautious acquiring such capabilities, for the major policy review.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said the government will “examine all options” for bolstering Japan’s defenses, including strike capability.

Japan also wants to engage more in the ASEAN countries by a tour of the Japanese new elected prime minister in Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand befofe Biden´s plsnned Asia visit while he also wants to make a visit to Europe to strengthen the Asian- EU relations:

“Kishida considering Southeast Asia trip as Russia and China concerns grow

Apr 12, 2022

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is planning to visit Southeast Asia during the Golden Week holidays starting in late April, seeking to strengthen cooperation amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s growing assertiveness in the region, diplomatic sources said Tuesday.

Kishida is planning to travel to Thailand in early May during his trip that will include Indonesia and Vietnam, while he is also considering visiting Europe in the holiday period.

During the upcoming Southeast Asia trip, Kishida is expected to underscore cooperation toward realizing the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific amid China’s rise.

In Thailand, Kishida will meet with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha. The visit coincides with the 135th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and Thailand is this year’s host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

In Europe, Kishida is expected to discuss how to respond to Russia’s continued aggression in Ukraine and support people who have fled the war-torn country, according to the sources.

While the coronavirus pandemic long stalled in-person meetings, Kishida, who took office in October, has been increasing face-to-face diplomacy after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.

The prime minister visited India and Cambodia in late March, quickly followed by a trip to Belgium, where he and other leaders of the Group of Seven vowed to keep a close watch on any attempt to help Russia evade sanctions, in a possible warning to countries such as China that may seek to align with Moscow.

Kishida is also scheduled to receive the leaders of other countries in the coming weeks.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is planning to visit Japan in late April for talks with Kishida, with the visit being his first since taking office in December last year.

The trip would come ahead of a planned visit to Japan by U.S. President Joe Biden. The U.S. leader said Monday that he is planning to visit Japan in late May for a “Quad” summit also involving the leaders of Australia and India.

Speaking at a virtual meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Biden said he is looking forward to seeing him in Japan “about the 24th of May.” It is expected to be the president’s first visit to Asia and Japan since assuming office in January 2021.”

The United States, Great Britain and Australia reportedly want to win Japan over to their new security alliance for the South Pacific AUKUS. As the right-wing conservative Japanese daily Sankei Shimbun reported, citing several government sources, the three states had informally asked the high-tech country Japan to participate in the alliance because of its capabilities in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum technology. The United States announced the South Pacific security alliance with Britain and Australia last year. Based on the English abbreviations of the countries involved, it is called Aukus. The participating states want to work more closely together in the field of defense innovations such as electronic warfare or cyber security. This includes the development of hypersonic missiles. Hypersonic refers to speeds above five times the speed of sound. Such weapons are difficult to intercept. Like ballistic missiles, hypersonic missiles can potentially carry nuclear weapons. There are positive voices within the Japanese government regarding participation. On the other hand, Japan already cooperates bilaterally with the three Aukus countries, according to the newspaper. In addition, Japan cannot cooperate on nuclear submarines. Japan is under the nuclear shield of the United States. However, it adheres to the principles of not building or owning any nuclear weapons and not allowing them to be stationed on its own soil.

After the change of power in Seoul, election winner Yoon Suk Yeol wants to move closer to the United States and take a tougher stance on North Korea and China. As a political newcomer, Yoon relies on a team of experienced advisors for the most important fields. In terms of economic policy, he relies on less government and lower spending. In terms of foreign policy, he wants to strengthen the alliance with the United States and take tougher action against North Korea. Yoon said his government would only prepare an inter-Korean peace treaty, which the outgoing President Moon was striving for during his term in office, if North Korea made „active efforts for complete and verifiable denuclearization“.

Yoon’s security policy credo is „peace through power“. Peace cannot be maintained without strength, emphasizes Yoon’s defense and security adviser, ex-general Kim Yong-hyun. In essence, the President-elect demands a reorientation of the defense strategy: South Korea must prepare for the worst case scenario of a nuclear attack from the North. The country should therefore develop the technologies to carry out a preventive first strike against North Korean nuclear bombs. This preemptive capability is known in South Korea as the „Kill Chain“. „We see two reasons for this: public safety and greater deterrence,“ explains consultant Kim. Closer proximity to the US also means Yoon wants to work more closely with the US-Australia-India-Japan Quad security alliance. During the election campaign, he had not supported South Korea’s membership. But the two US analysts Victor Cha and Dana Kim expect an integration at a later date. So South Korea would follow the US government’s Indo-Pacific strategy more closely. At the same time, Yoon would like to see closer cooperation with the United States in strengthening supply chains and in semiconductors and batteries, as well as in space and cyber security. As part of this strategy, Yoon would attempt a rapprochement with Japan. The former „shuttle diplomacy“ with regular meetings between the heads of government of the two countries is to be revived.

During the election campaign, the conservative politician also announced that he would abandon the supposedly „heavely China-biased“ foreign policy of his predecessor Moon. „Basically, Yoon promises a move away from strategic ambiguity in exchange for more principled orientation,“ says Southkorea expert Yoshimura, explaining the changed approach. So far, South Korea’s foreign policy has walked a fine line between its security partner, the United States, and its largest trading partner, China. Yoon wants to put an end to that. For example, he wants to set up a US missile defense system to protect the capital, Seoul. Moon had refrained from doing so after China imposed economic sanctions in response to the deployment of an initial system. However, the current geopolitical tensions limit South Korea’s room for manoeuvre. „Such a tougher foreign policy stance on North Korea and China carries significant geopolitical and economic risks,“ warned Gareth Leather, Asia economist at Capital Economics.

The USA nearly forgets the Greater Middle East with the exemption of Pakistan where Putin fan Imram Khan was just toppled, claimed that would be an US conspiracy against him and was replaced by the old Sharif clan by new prime minister Shebhaz Sharif of the Mulsim Leage- N  (next to the opposition PPP and  clan of the Bhuttos) . The Times of India reports about the new primeminster´s Shehbaz Sharif :

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