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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Russia Card?

In the hoopla over health care reform, this geopolitical story went largely unnoticed.

Israeli President Shimon Peres said Wednesday that the Kremlin has promised to reconsider the planned delivery of powerful air defense missiles to Iran.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made the pledge during their talks Tuesday in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Peres said.

"President Medvedev gave a promise he will reconsider the sales of S-300s because it affects the delicate balance which exists in the Middle East," Peres told reporters via video link from Sochi.

The most important unreported business and geopolitical story of the year was this one.

On Jan. 18, just hours after a cease-fire began in the Gaza Strip, Israel announced the discovery of a major natural gas field off its northern Mediterranean coast.

The news sent the Tel Aviv stock market sharply higher on Sunday as the size of the find appeared to eclipse the negative impact of the recession the country is now facing. Shares of the Israeli partners in the Tamar-1 drilling site jumped between 42% and 124%, though profit-taking pulled some down on Jan. 19. Even the Israeli shekel joined in, climbing by up to 1.6% against the dollar on Monday before settling the day up a half-point.

The discovery of this natural gas pipeline immediately made Israel a player in the natural gas market. It's an open secret that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to create a pseudo OPEC cartel in natural gas.

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent chills through Western Europe when he discussed the possibility of forming a gas-producers' association with countries like Libya and Iran. "A gas OPEC is an interesting idea. We will think about it," he said. "We are not going to set up a cartel. But it would be correct to co-ordinate our activities with an eye to the solution of the main goal of unconditionally and securely supplying the main consumers of energy resources."


Here is a government that already uses its control of vital energy supplies as a weapon against its neighbors proposing to join forces with a charter member of the Axis of Evil—the better to intimidate rival nations all over the world.

Everyone is well aware that Iran is moving quickly towards developin nuclear weapons and has threatened to destroy Israel. What hasn't been reported as much is a series of high level meetings between Israeli officials and Russian officials. The latest of which I just cited.

It continues to be more and more clear that Israel has no confidence that the U.S. will do anything to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. The Israelis can attack Iran before that happens but they would clearly like to find a better way to resolve this.

That's where Russia enters this geopolitical chess match. Iran's nuclear weapons development depends in very large part on Russia's support. That's because most of the equipment and weaponry comes from Russia. With the discovery of the natural gas pipeline in Israel, Israel becomes a major player in the natural gas market. They would be a very natural part, pardon the pun, of a natural gas cartel headed by Russia. Russia has no interest in Iran attaining nuclear weapons per se. They would gladly cut Iran off if it meant securing Israel's place in their cartel. This latest meeting appears to have been a step toward Russia cutting Iran off and thus cutting off their nuclear weapons program.

Israel cannot have Iran get a nuclear weapon. They have no confidence that the Obama administration will help them in this cause. As such, that country is now reaching out to other geo political players to ally themselves. Russia has much more influence on Iran than the U.S. anyway. So, it appears the geo political balance of power is changing with little scrutiny. Israel is moving away from their alliance with the U.S. and moving toward an alliance with Russia.

Russia increases its influence in the world, and with Israel in their back pocket, they are one step closer toward creating a natural gas cartel. Meanwhile, in its quest to reach out to Iran, the U.S. is pushing away its long term ally Israel. Israel also has plenty of business dealings with China, another country with influence over Iran. Of course, if Israel were to ally itself with China and Russia, that would end any hope that the U.S. could influence Israel into a peace agreement with the Palestinians. It would also create a formidable alliance that would challenge the U.S. both militarily and economically. It appears that it is unfolding with little notice.


Anonymous said...

Israel has always been a disloyal ally to the US. From the USS Liberty to their sales of US military technology to China, Israel has always done whats good for itself without regard to US interests, this would be no different.

mike volpe said...

every country acts in its best interest but I seem to recall scud missiles reigning down on Israel in 1990 and Israel didn't retaliate because that would have screwed up the alliance against Saddam and so your statement is pure nonsense.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you think what you just said makes sense.

"Israel didn't retaliate because that would have screwed up the alliance against Saddam".

Let's think about that statement for a moment. The implication is that Israel should have attacked Iraq in response to the Scuds because that would have been in its best interests, but they sacrificed their best interests in order not to "screw up the alliance against Saddam".

Nevermind that Saddam was already being attacked by the US and "the alliance against Saddam", its only good for Israel if Israel itself attacks, is that what you're saying?

The very fact that there was an "alliance against Saddam" WAS in Israel's best interests. Apparently you think sitting back and watching other people fight your wars for you is nonsensical.

Now I know why I chose Michigan over Illinois for schools.

mike volpe said...

Yeah, that's it. Israel had scud missiles launched at its citizens and they didn't respond and that was acting in their own self interest.

Like I said, all countries act in their own self interest but if you think that Israel is not a good ally that is your business.

Digs at UofI aside.