Archive for category Saudi Arabia

UAE: Saudi Arabia And UAE Open Strategic Pipelines To Bypass Strait Of Hormuz

Highlighting the importance of the strait, Cyrus Vance, former US secretary of state, called it “the jugular vein of the West”, while Ali Fadavi, of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, said Tehran had the ability to “not allow even a single drop of oil to pass” the strait.
“Multiple pipelines would partly negate the Iranian threat to block [the Strait of] Hormuz,” said Rafael Kandiyoti, senior research fellow at Imperial College London and author of Pipelines: Oil Flows and Crude Politics. “Showing increasing pipeline capacity suits the purposes of Saudi Arabia.”

This is big news, just because it gives these countries an alternative to shipping oil through the Strait of Hormuz. Although my first thought after reading this is that Iran will want to attack these pipelines as a way to shut down oil shipments–if Iran is attacked by Israel (and the west) because of it’s nuclear program.

If Iran is attacked, they will no doubt try to strike back by shutting down the Strait of Hormuz. They will also try to attack and destroy any oil infrastructure in any of the countries whom have key oil partnerships with the west. Saudi Arabia and the UAE would be classified as such.

With that said, it makes sense why the UAE would want to plus up their military with combat veterans from Colombia. They are going to need some serious manpower to effectively cover down on 220 miles of pipeline to protect it from attacks. The pipeline also makes it’s way through some interesting mountainous terrain that small attack groups could certainly take advantage of if you do not have an effective defense.

Interesting stuff and we will see how these pipelines fair, if in fact Iran decides to target them after an attack. -Matt

 

The Habshan-Fujairah pipeline, UAE. Photo – Arabianoilandgas.com

 

Saudi Arabia and UAE open strategic pipelines to bypass Hormuz
July 16, 2012
Iranian threats to close the strategically important Strait of Hormuz in response to US and European-led sanctions and pressure over the country’s nuclear programme will seem less alarming with the opening of new Saudi-UAE oil pipelines.
Although the Middle-eastern super-producers did not specify that the pipelines, which bypass the busy shipping lane – responsible for carrying a third of the world’s shipped oil – were a direct response to Iranian sabre-rattling, the move is seen as a pre-emptive strike against an action that would spell economic catastrophe for the region and the West.
The opening of the pipelines comes as diplomatic tensions over Tehran’s nuclear programme – believed to be gearing up to produce weapons grade material – increase and Iran’s oil production, due to the sanctions, has fallen to its lowest level in more than 20 years. Read the rest of this entry »

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Industry Talk: Saudi Arabia To Raise A Multi-Billion Dollar, 35,000 Member ‘Facilities Security Force’ With US Help

In October 2008, Ford Fraker, then the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, called the facilities security force program “probably the single biggest initiative for the U.S.-Saudi relationship” and said the value of contracts associated with the program could reach tens of billions of dollars…..

The special security force is expected to grow to at least 35,000 members, trained and equipped by U.S. personnel as part of a multiagency effort that includes staff from the Justice Department, Energy Department and Pentagon. It is overseen by the U.S. Central Command.
The force’s main mission is to protect vital oil infrastructure, but its scope is wider. A formerly secret State Department cable released by the WikiLeaks website described the mission as protecting “Saudi energy production facilities, desalination plants and future civil nuclear reactors.”

Oh boy.  Now everyone was freaking out about the whole R2 contract in the UAE for an 800 man battalion, but a 35,000 man ‘facilities security force’ is way bigger and more valuable. I will say that the Vinnell Arabia contract is a sizable and long term contract and has been a source of employment for the industry for awhile, but this new force could take contracts there to a whole new level.

And that quote up top by U.S. ambassador Ford Fraker is quite significant. He said ‘tens of billions of dollars’ folks!  Now you can see exactly what Erik Prince was thinking about when he wanted to create a mega training facility in the desert of the UAE.  A 35,000 man force requires a ton of training to start up and maintain over the years, and training providers will be a premium in that part of the world.

It also makes sense why the US is not freaking out about Prince and his plans in the UAE.  For a force this large in Saudi Arabia, and with all the competition for trainers and manpower throughout the world in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, you can see that every competent and capable training facility out there will be very popular. Especially facilities that are close, cost effective, and deliver a quality service.  Of course the Saudis will also build local facilities for training and housing these forces. But for the really specialized stuff that I am sure R2 will offer, they could easily cater to forces like this.

Let’s not forget about what the national interest is for the US and it’s allies–keep the oil flowing.  Saudi Arabia is a key part of our energy policy, and their oil and refinery capability is vital to the US economy.  Any threat to that oil, be it from terrorists, internal uprising or Iran, is a threat to US national security.  That is the relationship we have right now, and we will continue to have for awhile.

I also think that we cannot afford to see Saudi Arabia collapse via uprisings.  Libya or Egypt collapsing was one thing, but losing Saudi Arabia to political collapse would be unacceptable. And in the case of this massive facilities security force, we either train their forces to stand the line, or it could potentially be US troops standing that line if Saudi Arabia were to explode. Contracts like Vinnell Arabia or the future contracts for this current force, are insurance for the west pure and simple. -Matt

……The forging of closer U.S.-Saudi military ties is so sensitive, particularly in Saudi Arabia, that the Pentagon and the State Department declined requests for on-the-record comment and U.S. officials rejected a request for an interview with the two-star Army general, Robert G. Catalanotti, who manages the project to build a “facilities security force” to protect the Saudis’ network of oil installations and other critical infrastructure. The Saudi Embassy in Washington did not respond to two written requests for comment. -Understanding Saudi Stability and Instability: A Very Different Nation, By Anthony H. Cordesman, Feb 26, 2011
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U.S. quietly expanding defense ties with Saudis
By Robert Burns
Thursday May 19, 2011
WASHINGTON — Despite their deepening political divide, the United States and Saudi Arabia are quietly expanding defense ties on a vast scale, led by a little-known project to develop an elite force to protect the kingdom’s oil riches and future nuclear sites.
The U.S. also is in discussions with Saudi Arabia to create an air and missile defense system with far greater capability against the regional rival the Saudis fear most, Iran. And it is with Iran mainly in mind that the Saudis are pressing ahead with a historic $60 billion arms deal that will provide dozens of new U.S.-built F-15 combat aircraft likely to ensure Saudi air superiority over Iran for years.
Together these moves amount to a historic expansion of a 66-year-old relationship that is built on America’s oil appetite, sustained by Saudi reliance on U.S. military reach and deepened by a shared worry about the threat of al-Qaida and the ambitions of Iran.

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Maritime Security: Al Qaeda Considered Targeting Oil Tankers

I am sure we will get more of these reports leaking out from the Bin Laden raid material. This is of particular interest, because this supports the jihadist privateer concept I talked about awhile back. If economic attacks are on their mind, then using pirates to seize these vessels and then sink or crash them into a port is definitely something they could benefit from. Or just sinking a vessel in a key water way like the Straits of Hormuz.  There are a number of things AQ could do with a vessel like an oil tanker, and the imagination is the only limitation.

This article also mentioned AQ’s prior attempted attacks on oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.  Attacks on oil, be it facilities or tankers, is a symbolic attack as well as an economic attack.  For this reason, it makes perfect sense that countries like the UAE or Saudi Arabia would invest their oil money into measures that would protect their golden goose.

Finally, this only emphasizes to those security contractors out there that are protecting these vessels, that you have a very important and dangerous job. You are floating on a ‘gold goose’, and it certainly is an attractive target to pirates and terrorists alike. -Matt

Al Qaeda Considered Targeting Oil Tankers
MAY 21, 2011
By KEITH JOHNSON
Intelligence seized from Osama bin Laden’s Pakistani hideout suggested that al Qaeda is interested in attacking oil tankers, Homeland Security officials said, a discovery that has prompted the agency to warn industry officials and local law enforcement.
The warning comes on the heels of indications of continued interest by al Qaeda in attacking other favorite targets, including planes and trains.

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Bahrain: Saudi Arabia Sends Soldiers To Defend Government In Bahrain, So What Will Iran Do?

 

Wow, this is some news that needs to be put out there.(obviously the disaster in Japan, and uprisings in Libya are taking up the stage right now)  My question here is if most of the protest base is Shia, will they now be justified and inclined to accept help from Iran? Especially since Saudi Arabia (which is mostly  Sunni) has decided it is within their best interest to send troops to Bahrain? I think so…

Or will Iran send advisors and lots of weapons, much like they do elsewhere in the Middle East? And of course, Iran’s little puppets in Iraq are firing up the Shia there, and joining in support of the protesters in Bahrain with their own protests in Iraq. Things are moving fast and this fire burning in Bahrain and elsewhere in the Middle East is in some very dry tinder. Especially if footage of Saudi troops shooting or beating protesters comes out–and I know Iran will be all over that. Interesting times. -Matt

Saudi soldiers sent into Bahrain

March 16, 2011

Hundreds of Saudi troops have entered Bahrain to help protect government facilities there amid escalating protests against the government.

Bahrain television on Monday broadcast images of troops in armoured cars entering the Gulf state via the 26km causeway that connects the kingdom to Saudi Arabia.

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Black Swan Events: Earthquake/Tsunami In Japan, Uprisings In The Middle East

     This is tragic, and my heart goes out to all those impacted by these disasters.  I was watching the tsunami in Japan on television and the footage was remarkable.  The tsunami was a result of an earthquake and it has pummeled Japan. There is a tsunami warning for Hawaii, other Pacific islands, and the entire West Coast in the US. To follow this stuff, definitely track the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and your local news to get updates.

     A couple of things that come to mind on this.  This event, along with what is going on in Libya and potentially in Saudi Arabia, are all combining to make a Blackswan Event. Events that were not predicted, and change the dynamic dramatically. What I mean by that, is that the shock waves from both disasters, could have drastic consequence. The price of oil will rise, and all the business and economies that depend upon the stability of Japan will be negatively impacted. If Hawaii and the West Coast of the US are hit, that could have consequence as well. I will further update this post as events unfold and we will see how it goes…. -Matt

Update: 03/12/2011- Now the latest deal is the Nuclear Facilities in Japan are in dire straights. If they melt down, the fallout is of concern.  In the comments section, I have put up an article that discusses the fallout potential, and especially how it would impact North America via the Pacific Jet Stream.

Major Earthquake, Tsunami Hit Japan

Saudi police open fire at protest

Oil Rises in New York as Libyan Violence Intensifies, Refinery is Bombed

Major Earthquake, Tsunami Hit Japan

March 11, 2011

A massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake has struck off Japan’s northeastern coast, triggering a four meter tsunami that washed away cars along parts of the coastline.Video from national broadcaster NHK showed dozens of cars, large ferries and some buildings being swept out to sea in the port city of Kamaishi in the province of Iwate.The Japanese Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warming for the entire Pacific coast of Japan following the quake that struck about 125 kilometers off the eastern coast, at a depth of 10 kilometers.  Residents in the coastal areas have been urged to immediately evacuate to higher ground.The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in the U.S. state of Hawaii said a tsunami warning was also in effect for Russia, Marcus Island and the Northern Marianas.  It said a tsunami watch was issued for Guam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Hawaii.

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Libya: Reports Of Gaddafi Using Mercenaries To Quell Uprising

     Interesting, but this is not very solid yet. I have been trying to find any information I could about Gaddafi’s supposed use of mercenaries to quell the current uprising there, and this is what I have found so far.  Although this is hard to verify because there is a media block there, and Gaddafi has shut down the internet in his country.

    I do know that guys like this have lots of money because of all the oil and foreign investment. There are reports of part of his military defecting because they are being ordered to attack the protestors. I don’t blame them for leaving and I wouldn’t want to bomb my own countrymen either.  Which both points bring up the question of mercenaries as a possible solution for the dictator.  Would Gaddafi hire thugs from outside of his country to do this dirty work?

     Also, it would be easy for people to confuse the evacuations of expats and oil workers with some kind of mercenary invasion force.  These PSCs are landing at airports to simple provide a secure transport for folks to get out.  From what I gather, companies like SOS International will be involved in evacuations in Libya, similar to what they did in Egypt.

    Finally, Libya is important to watch because it is an OPEC nation.  If oil workers are being evacuated, then oil facilities could be shut down or in danger of being attacked.  Not good and this will impact the oil markets.  And if Saudi Arabia fires up as another domino in this string of uprising dominoes, then stand by for a major shock to the oil market. This will only get more interesting and complex as this fire continues to rage.-Matt

Edit: 02/23/2011 – Check out the comments below. I have posted some really interesting stories that have elaborated on the history of mercenary usage in the middle east, and especially Libya. I will continue to dump stories that are relevant in the comments.

U.S. struggles with little leverage to restrain Libyan government

By Mary Beth Sheridan and Scott WilsonMonday, February 21, 2011

…..Libya’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, who broke with Gaddafi on Monday, urged the international community to impose a no-fly zone over the country to prevent mercenaries and arms from reaching the government. But no other major power echoed the call.

Link to quote here.

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Libya ‘uses mercenaries’ to keep order on streets as 200 die in violent clashes

20th February 2011

….Security sources suggested the leader has hired foot soldiers from neighbouring states to maintain law and order.

Marc Ginsburg, former U.S. ambassador to Morocco told CNN: ‘First and foremost he (Gaddafi) has security support from Sudan and Pakistan and his intelligence advisers have received significant intelligence support from former KGB officials who were part of the Eastern Bloc countries such as Bulgaria, Romania and Belarus.’

Link for quote here.

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Gaddafi recruits “African mercenaries” to quell protests

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Libya recruited hundreds of mercenaries from Sub-Saharan Africa to help quell a popular uprising that is threatening to unseat veteran leader Muammar Gaddafi after more than 41 years in office, witness told Al Arabiya from the eastern city of Benghazi on Sunday.The witnesses said protesters in Benghazi caught some “African mercenaries” who spoke French and who admitted that they were ordered by Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Khamis Gaddafi, to fire live ammunition at demonstrators.

The witnesses, who refused to be named for security reasons, added that they saw four airplanes carrying “African mercenaries” land in Benina International Airport near the city of Benghazi, the second largest city in the country. Read the rest of this entry »

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