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Posts Tagged ‘Suez Canal’

Iran Sending Warships Past Israel’s Coast

Posted by Steve Markowitz on February 16, 2011

In a move likely related to the turmoil in some Arab countries, the Wall Street Journal reported that Iran is sending two naval vessels through the Suez Canal on their way to Syria.  That route will take the ships off the coast of Israeli, something Iranian warships have not attempted since the Iranian Islamic revolution in 1979.  Israel has called Iran’s move a “provocation”.

While the movement of two Iranian military vessels is not a serious military threat to Israel or Arab countries in the Middle East, the timing is not coincidental to the protests occurring in Arab cities.  The Iranians have two motivations.  The first is to flex their muscles during a time of weakness in the Sunni Arab world.  In addition, the Iranians need to create an external threat; i.e. Israel, as they attempt to avoid internal democratic protests that hit Tunisia, Egypt and other countries in the region.



Posted in Iran | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Middle East Turmoil Proves the Need “Drill Baby Drill”

Posted by Steve Markowitz on February 2, 2011

With the 24-hour news showing pictures of the Egyptian chaos continuously, many are focused on the lawlessness in that country.  Many are also concerned as to what form of government will emerge Egypt after the chaos subsides.  The outcome of these issues will have far-reaching effects on the Middle East and greater world.  This will play out in Egypt and the other countries that will be enveloped in similar situations with the Untied States being but a bystander.

The current Egyptian events again bring the forefront the issue of America’s dependence on oil from unstable regimes in the Middle East.  While Egypt is not an oil producer, the Suez Canal is important in the supply chain for oil.  In addition, the instability with other Middle Eastern countries increases the shipping risk at the chokepoint that is the Straits of Hormuz.

The danger of America’s oil dependence on risky sources should have been addressed years, if not decades ago. However, politicians, mainly on the Left, banded together with radical environmentalists to hinder America’s production in coal, oil and nuclear energy.

Besides the national security argument that clearly shows the insanity of America’s energy policy, there is also a strong economic argument.  Below are two charts; one showing crude oil spot prices and the other natural gas spot prices from January 4, 2010 to February 1, 2011.  While both commodities serve similar purposes, their pricing history during this period has been quite different.  Crude oil prices hit a record high for this period this week and will probably go higher . For the same period, natural gas prices have significantly decreased from its highs.  The reason for this discrepancy is simple: we are dependent on shaky governments for crude oil with natural gas coming from within United States.

If the United States was lacking in its own energy resources, our use of foreign oil could be justified.  However, given the massive amounts of energy resources in North America, there is no excuse for America to be dependent on foreign sources.  Environmentalists and their comrades have come up with all sorts of excuses and legal moves to stop America from developing its energy resources.  While some of their concerns are valid, there is no greater threat to the United States, both economically and for national security, than being dependent on energy supplies from countries that have disdain for our culture.

The United States must immediately embark on a strategic program towards real energy independence, a goal that is doable.  Unlike previous false efforts, this program must include a plan with mandated dates for achieving predetermined goals, such as amounts of new energy supplies discovered and putting  nuclear power plant production on the fast-track.  Such a program would be similar in size and scope of President Kennedy’s plan to put a man on the moon within the decade of the 1960s.  However, the program would require bold leadership, something our current President has shown little of during his first two years in office.  In fact, his tactical approach to energy issues has hamstrung energy development in United States, focusing excessively on green technologies that do little to cut America’s dependence on foreign energy and merely creates large for companies such as General Electric.

During the presidential campaign, Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin used the slogan; “drill, baby, drill”.  This should be a national rallying cry for what will should America’s most important program of this generation.

Posted in National Security, Oil | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Joe Biden Lectures Israel

Posted by Steve Markowitz on March 11, 2010

On Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden blasted Israel for “prejudicing the outcome” of peace talks.  This unusually sharp rebuke is in keeping with President Obama’s strange policy of lecturing America’s allies while codling adversaries.

Let see, when Iran was killing protestors in its streets the President made statements like: “It is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran’s leaders will be,” and “that we respect Iranian sovereignty.”  But when Israel announces plans to build 1,600 homes in Jerusalem, now that’s a real problem.

Let’s put aside for a moment President Obama’s strange foreign policy approach and dig a into Loss-Lip Joe’s specific comments.  Israel’s actions are “prejudicing the outcome” of peace talks?  What perverted logic.  These two sides have been feuding for six decades and the announcement of a few more homes one side is the problem?  Such logic only matches that of the Palestinian Authority President Abbas who said: “We call on Israel to cancel these decisions.  I call on the Israeli government not to lose a chance to make peace.”  So Mr. Abbas, if the Israeli’s give up the 1,600 homes there will be peace after 60 years of fighting?  History demonstrates that the real issues are much deeper:

  • If there is a start date for the problem it is in 1948 when the United Nations partitioned what was called Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states.  Prior to then the land was under the rule of the British.
  • The Arabs rejected the UN patrician and in 1948 the armies of Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon attacked Israel.  The Arabs were unsuccessful and an Armistice was signed in 1949.
  • The Arab countries continued their belligerence toward Israel in a desire to win the war that was put on hold in 1949.  As an example, Egypt intercepted or destroyed Israeli cargo ships attempting to pass through the Suez Canal against a UN Security Council resolution.  This played a role the next Arab-Israeli war of 1956 that also involved the French and the British, which again resulted in an armistice.
  • In 1967, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser demanded the removal of the UN troops that had served as a buffer between Egypt and Israel since the 1956 war.  He amassed 1,000 tanks and nearly 100,000 soldiers on the Israeli border and closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships.  This lead to Israel’s preemptive strike and the winning of the Six Day War in which they occupied the Sinai Desert, West bank and Golan Heights.
  • The third Arab-Israeli war was in 1973 when the Arab countries attacked Israel in what became known as the Yom Kipper War.  While the Arab armies had initial success in this war, they were ultimately routed and another armistice was made.
  • In 1979, a peace was made between Israel and Egypt with Egypt getting back all of its territory in the Sinai Desert captured by Israel in previous wars.  Since then there has been no fighting between these countries.
  • In 1994, peace was made between Israel and Jordan.  Jordan had captured the West Bank in the 1948 war and annexed it in 1950.  However, when it became clear that the people in the West Bank wanted the PLO to govern them, Jordan acceded and renounced claims to the West Bank.
  • On September 12, 2005, Israel made a total withdrawal from Gaza, turning over control over to the Palestinian Authority.  In June 2007, the terrorist group Hamas was elected to lead Gaza and forcibly kicked out the corrupt Palestinian AuthorityHamas the started sending rockets into Israel proper leading to another war with Israel.

The last real peace effort between the Israelis and Palestinians was at Camp David-II in 2000 under President Clinton.  According to the Clinton Administration, significant compromises were made to the Palestinian, but in the end Yasser Arafat rejected an agreement for two key reasons.  1) He wanted full control for the PLO over East Jerusalem, and 2) he wanted the “right of return” for Palestinians.  These are the two issues hindering an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, i.e. peace, not a few more Israeli houses being built in Jerusalem.

Given Hamas’s actions in Gaza since Israel unilaterally withdrew from there it is little wonder the Israelis would be uncomfortable giving up control of East Jerusalem to a corrupt government.  The right or return is an even greater divisive issue.  Under this claim, Palestinians and their decedents that left Israel proper since 1949 would have the right to return to the Jewish portions of Israel.  No Israeli government can or will agree to this demand as it would result in the end of Israel being a Jewish State.

The Israelis are not blameless in the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians.  At the same time for the Obama Administration to focus on trivial issue like a few new buildings that can always be knocked down is naive.  The President should instead start by taking clear positions on the real issues that divide the parties.  But this would be the type of bold leadership missing from this Administration.  Sending a hack like Biden to talk nonsense will not result in any progress in the Middle East.

Posted in Israel, Palestinian Authority, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »