Archive for October, 2006

China: Oil at any cost

Monday, October 30th, 2006
China’s Sinopec sees crude imports rising 21% this year
According to Zhang Yuqing, deputy head of the Chinese National Reform and Development Commission (NRDC)’s energy department China imported 38.34 million tons of crude oil from Africa in 2005, accounting for 30 percent of its oil imports.
In 2005, Saudi Arabia was China’s largest source of crude oil, followed by Angola. Four African countries, namely, Angola, Sudan, Congo and Equatorial Guinea, were among the top 10 oil exporters to China in 2005. By the end of 2005, China had invested in 27 major oil and natural gas projects in 14 African countries, including Sudan, Algeria, Angola and Nigeria. Zhang said the government will encourage Chinese firms to expand their cooperation with African countries in the energy sector. (China Daily)

“China’s fast-growing economy has created a deep thirst for oil that has pushed it to do business with some of the most corrupt and dangerous regimes on Earth, several of them in Africa. [...]

“Beijing’s guiding philosophy of noninterference with the affairs of other nations, and its growing financial involvement in the developing world, are having an overwhelmingly negative effect on stability and human rights. Setting aside China’s stonewalling on efforts to crack down on nuclear threats posed by Iran and North Korea, its reluctance to impose tough sanctions on Sudan (where it has significant oil interests) is contributing to the ongoing murder, rape and displacement of hundreds of thousands of people in the Darfur region.[...]

“Chinese banks haven’t signed on to the Equator Principles, a voluntary set of environmental and human rights guidelines adopted by 80% of the world’s commercial lenders. This makes it easier for Chinese banks to do business with corrupt government officials. “

Meanwhile, in the Persian Gulf:

“the importance of energy cannot be underestimated when examining Sino-Arab relations. China is the world’s second-biggest energy consumer and third-biggest importer. Its oil consumption surpassed Japan’s in 2003 and now stands at 6.5 million barrels per day, compared to 20 million barrels per day for the US. [...]

“Today, 58 percent of China’s oil imports come from the Middle East, mostly from the Gulf. China has adopted a strategy of geographical diversification by investing in foreign oil and gas fields in more than 20 countries including Venezuela, Nigeria and Australia. But diversification away from the Middle East has its limits. Two-thirds of proven oil reserves are located in the region, mostly in the Persian Gulf. Similarly, many of the oil reserves in non-Middle Eastern countries are rapidly being depleted. The I.E.A. predicts that Chinese oil imports from the Middle East will rise to at least 70 percent by 2015, underpinning that the future of the Chinese economy is inextricably tied to the Middle East. [...]

“China has the closest relations with Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer. China is now Saudi Arabia’s fourth-largest importer and fifth-largest exporter. Saudi Arabia is China’s biggest oil supplier, accounting for almost 17 percent of China’s oil imports. Trade between the two has grown an average of 41 percent a year since 1999, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

“Saudi Arabia’s oil exports to China increased to some 500,000 barrels per day in 2005, up from 440,000 barrels in 2004. This is set to increase further after Saudi oil giant Aramco agreed to provide the China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) with 1 million bpd by 2010. Abdallah Jum’ah, president of Aramco, described China and Saudi Arabia “as among the most important energy relationships on the planet.”

“In April of this year King Abdullah became the first Saudi king to visit China. This was Abdullah’s first trip outside the Middle East since ascending to the throne in 2005, potentially signaling a new strategic alignment. During the three day visit, King Abdullah told Chinese legislative chief Wu Bangguo that Saudi Arabia considered China a “truly friendly country” and hoped that their relations would become “better and better.”

“The summit saw the signing of five agreements, including a landmark pact for expanding cooperation in oil, natural gas and minerals. Saudi Arabia also granted China a loan to improve infrastructure in China’s oil-rich Xinjiang region and offered Chinese companies investment opportunities in Saudi’s enormous infrastructure sector. “

We’ve been beating on this drum for a while. Further reading:

The Sino-Saudi Connection

U.S., China Are on Collision Course Over Oil

Fueling the dragon: China’s race into the oil market

China’s oil rush in Africa

Chinese Quest for Crude Increases Focus on Africa

As Set America Free’s Anne Korin said to UPI:

“‘We don’t want to see it escalate to a resource conflict’ [...] The Set America Free Coalition says the best solution is to help China help itself [..] allowing Beijing to be steered away from its oil dependence.

“‘In the same way (developing countries) skipped wires by going right to wireless, they could leapfrog oil and go right to alternative energy sources’”

And the U.S. should lead by example.

So who pays for it?

Monday, October 30th, 2006

Mark Steyn in his new book America Alone:

“What gives the jihad its global reach? It’s not difficult to figure out: Wahhabism is the most militant form of Islam, the one followed by all nineteen of the September 11 terrorists and by Osama bin Laden.  The Saudis, whose state religion is Wahhabism, export their faith and affiliated local strains in lavishly endowed schools and mosques all over the world and, as a result, traditionally moderate Muslim populations from the Balkans to South Asia have been dramatically radicalized.

“That kind of operation doesn’t come cheap.  So who pays for it?

“You do. After September 11, George W. Bush told the world, ‘You’re either with us or with the terrorists.’ [...] why should anyone take the president’s demand to choose sides seriously when America itself refuses to:  the United States is both ‘with us’ and ‘with the terrorists.’ American taxpayers are in the onerous position of funding both sides in this war.  In the five years after September 11, the price of oil rose from $12 a barrel to hit an all-time high of $70 – so, if you sell oil, your revenues are five times what they were.  And there’s nothing like bigger oil windfalls to drive powerful despots down ever crazier paths. ‘Looking at it another way,’ wrote Frank Gaffney in his book War Footing, ‘Saudi Arabia – which currently exports about ten mbd [million barrels of oil a day] – receives an extra half billion dollars every day.’ Where does that extra half-bil go? It goes to the mosques and madrassas that the Saudis fund in every corner of the planet. Oil isn’t the principal Saudi export, ideology is – petroleum merely bankrolls it.”

A trip around the world

Friday, October 27th, 2006

Australia:  In a Ramadan sermon refering to gang rapes in Sidney carried out by a Muslim gang headed by Bilal Skaf, Australia’s most senior Islamic cleric, Sheik Taj Din al-Hilaly said the following:

“When it comes to adultery, it’s 90 percent the woman’s responsibility. Why? Because a woman owns the weapon of seduction. It’s she who takes off her clothes, shortens them, flirts, puts on make-up and powder and takes to the streets, God protect us, dallying. It’s she who shortens, raises and lowers. Then, it’s a look, a smile, a conversation, a greeting, a talk, a date, a meeting, a crime, then Long Bay jail. Then you get a judge, who has no mercy, and he gives you 65 years.”

“But when it comes to this disaster, who started it? In his literature, writer al-Rafee says, if I came across a rape crime, I would discipline the man and order that the woman be jailed for life. Why would you do this, Rafee? He said because if she had not left the meat uncovered, the cat wouldn’t have snatched it.”

“If you get a kilo of meat, and you don’t put it in the fridge or in the pot or in the kitchen but you leave it on a plate in the backyard, and then you have a fight with the neighbour because his cats eat the meat, you’re crazy. Isn’t this true?”

“If you take uncovered meat and put it on the street, on the pavement, in a garden, in a park, or in the backyard, without a cover and the cats eat it, then whose fault will it be, the cats, or the uncovered meat’s? The uncovered meat is the disaster. If the meat was covered the cats wouldn’t roam around it. If the meat is inside the fridge, they won’t get it.”

“If the woman is in her boudoir, in her house and if she’s wearing the veil and if she shows modesty, disasters don’t happen.”

“Satan sees women as half his soldiers. You’re my messenger in necessity, Satan tells women you‘re my weapon to bring down any stubborn man. There are men that I fail with. But you’re the best of my weapons.”

“…The woman was behind Satan playing a role when she disobeyed God and went out all dolled up and unveiled and made of herself palatable food that rakes and perverts would race for. She was the reason behind this sin taking place.”

France:  Michel Thooris, head of the Action Police trade union said “We are in a state of civil war, orchestrated by radical Islamists. This is not a question of urban violence any more, it is an intifada, with stones and Molotov cocktails. You no longer see two or three youths confronting police, you see whole tower blocks emptying into the streets to set their ‘comrades’ free when they are arrested. [...] We need armoured vehicles and water cannon. They are the only things that can disperse crowds of hundreds of people who are trying to kill police and burn their vehicles.”

Nearly 2,500 police officers were wounded in the first half of this year, an average of 14 more are wounded each passing day.  Today two more buses were torched, following yesterday’s bus torchings.


“The leading imam in Manchester confirms that he thinks the execution of sexually active gay men is justified, the rights group Outrage reported.

Arshad Misbahi of the Manchester Central Mosque confirmed his views in a conversation to John Casson, a local psychotherapist.

Casson said: “I asked him if the execution of gay Muslims in Iran and Iraq was an acceptable punishment in Sharia law, or the result of culture, not religion.

He told me that in a true Islamic state, such punishments were part of Islam: If the person had had a trial, at which four witnesses testified that they had seen the actual homosexual acts.”

“I asked him what would be the British Muslim view? He repeated that in an Islamic state these punishments were justified. They might result in the deaths of thousands but if this deterred millions from having sex, and spreading disease, then it was worthwhile to protect the wider community.”

FRANCE UPDATE: A woman was burned on 60% of her body during another bus torching, and “only” 200 cars were burned Saturday night (“only” because the number often reaches 100 a night so 200 isn’t that much of an exception)

AUSTRALIA UPDATE 11/02/06: Andrew Bolt writes in the Australian Herald Sun:

Excuses over. The disgraced mufti of Australia set Muslims a test last month and they failed.

That test couldn’t have been easier: make Sheik Taj el-Din al-Hilaly pay for preaching that unveiled women invited rape.

Prove that Muslims can’t be led by a man who says raped women must be “jailed for life”. Prove we have nothing to fear from your faith.

Simple? Yet yesterday 34 Muslim groups signed a petition backing this bigot, while others plan a big rally for Sydney tomorrow, denouncing not Hilaly but the non-Muslims who criticise him. [...]

The Muslim Women’s Association, which first admitted to being “shocked” by Hilaly’s sermon, now said he was “very good to all Muslim women”. Said founding president Aziz El Saddik: “Those who say bad things about him, they have very bad manners.” His sermon on rape was for Muslims only. Not our business.

But we can’t afford to believe that any more. They weren’t Muslim women, after all, who were raped by a Lebanese gang in Sydney, which called them “sluts” and “Aussie pigs”.

It wasn’t a Muslim teenager who was pack-raped in Sydney by Pakistani brothers, whose father told the court: “What do (the victims) expect to happen to them? Girls from Pakistan don’t go out at night.”

(hat tip LGF)

Why various and sundry dictators prefer doing business with China

Thursday, October 26th, 2006


“We don’t want the development models, ideologies and values of other countries foisted on our country,” [China's Assistant Foreign Minister Zhai Jun] said. “Likewise we don’t impose our development mode, ideology and values on other countries — not least on African countries. So, it has been the consistent position of the Chinese government when conducting aid with African countries that we do not attach conditions.”

In plain English: Dear dictator: we’ll give you money, you give us oil, end of story (oh, and if you’d like, we’ll throw in some development money).  China is not going to bother you about your human rights abuses, not going to ask why you don’t let women vote, not going to demand you increase religious freedom.   

In case you are wondering whether China’s oil interests in Sudan is what has ensured a Chinese veto in the UN Security Council of any attempt to saction the Islamist Arab government of Sudan for carrying out genocide first against Christian and animist Africans and now against Sufi Muslim Africans, Mr. Zhai assures that nothing of the sort is going on: “I believe the Darfur issue and China’s economic and energy cooperation and trade are two separate issues. It is not the case that because of the good relationship and cooperation with the Sudanese government that we’re turning a blind eye to the situation in Darfur.” Righto. Well, at least he admits they are turning a blind eye.

For more on the impact of China’s quest for energy in Africa on that continent’s dismal human rights situation, read China’s Oil Rush in Africa by LCDR Cindy Hurst.


Thursday, October 12th, 2006

President Bush in Missouri today: “Let me just put it bluntly: We’re too dependent on oil. [...] And see, low gasoline prices may mask that concern.  So, first, I want to tell you that I welcome the low gasoline prices, however it’s not going to dim my enthusiasm for making sure we diversify away from oil. [...] this country has got to use its talent and its wealth to get us off oil. And I believe we will do so, and I believe — I know the best way to do so is through technological breakthroughs.

“[...] we envision a day in which light and powerful batteries will become available in the marketplace so that you can drive the first 40 miles on electricity, on batteries, and your car won’t have to look like a golf cart….In other words, it will be a technology that will meet consumer demand and at the same time meet a national need, which is less consumption of gasoline. These are called plug-in hybrid vehicles. [...]Most folks in the cities don’t drive more than 40 miles, so you can envision consumer habits beginning to change: You drive to work; you go home; you plug in your automobile. And you go — ride to work and go home the next — and you’re still on electricity. It’s going to change the consumption patterns. This new technology will change the consumption patterns on gasoline, which in turn will make us less dependent on crude oil, which meets a national security concern, an economic security concern, and helps us deal with an environmental concern.”

Only 2% of US electricity is generated from oil today – later in his speech the President noted this by saying, “I don’t know if you know this or not, but electricity is generated from natural gas, about 18 percent; coal, 50 percent; nuclear power, 20 percent; and then — solar and wind. “

He also emphasized the ease of manufacturing flex-fuel vehicles: “it doesn’t require much money to convert a regular gasoline-driven car to a flex-fuel automobile. See, the technology is available. It takes about $100-something to change a gasoline-only automobile to one that can use E85. And it works.

Buying the support of a third of humanity

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

Saudi Arabia Woos China and India:

“In January 2006, Saudi king Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud visited China and India, a trip some commentators labeled “a strategic shift” in Saudi foreign policy and reflective of “a new era” for the kingdom. It was King Abdullah’s first trip outside the Middle East since taking the throne in August 2005, and it was also the first trip by a Saudi ruler to China since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1990.

“Abdullah’s travel was significant. His reception suggested both Chinese and Indian recognition of the House of Saud’s role in regulating global oil prices and the impact that Saudi oil policy has not only on Western economies but on the Chinese and Indian economies as well. Riyadh’s relations with Beijing and Delhi are not shaped by energy alone, however. There is a major political component to Saudi strategic thinking. The royal family wishes to engage China and India in order to create a political alternative to its relationship with the United States. Saudi thinkers may believe that an Asian alternative will make the kingdom less susceptible to Western pressure on such issues as democratization and terror financing. [...]

“Many Saudi officials, annoyed with U.S. pressure to cease funding Islamist and terrorist groups, find Beijing’s no-questions-asked policies attractive.” 

Read the whole thing.

Also read:

The Sino-Saudi Connection

Fueling the dragon: China’s race into the oil market

How Iraqi Oil Smuggling Greases Violence

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

Bilal A. Wahab in the Middle East Quarterly:

“Oil is the lifeblood of Iraq. As Iraqis work to emerge from years of war and sanctions, oil exports are the government’s greatest source of revenue. Since 2003, the new Iraqi government has exported US$33 billion in oil. But rather than just fund reconstruction, oil has become a primary commodity on the black market and a central component of the web of corruption, terror, and criminality in Iraq. Oil smuggling has led to a convergence of crime and terrorism that increasingly destabilizes the country [...]

“Up to 30 percent of Iraq’s imported gasoline has been lost to smuggling networks, half of which is pocketed by the Iraqi insurgency [...] Not only have funds for vital projects been lost, but a portion of the missing revenue helps fund insurgency. Terrorism, in turn, hampers foreign investment. Attacking the oil pipelines could be a criminal enterprise but, regardless, insurgents benefit by extorting protection money from oil trucks. Terrorists and criminals have established a dangerous symbiosis[...]

“While problems associated with subsidies and oil industry corruption may seem mundane amidst continued kidnapping and car bombs, until U.S. and Iraqi authorities manage to constrain Iraqi oil smuggling, violent crime and insurgency will continue to flourish.”

Read it all.

More on this:

Fencing in looters and saboteurs in Iraq

Iraq’s Oil Sector One Year After Liberation (June 2004 paper)

Forced to make compromises

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

Voice of America: 

The war of words between Venezuela and the United States reached new heights last month, when Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called U.S. President George Bush “the devil” and a “world dictator” in an address to the United Nations General Assembly. But, despite escalating diplomatic tensions, the United States remains Venezuela’s Number-One oil customer, a commercial relationship that appears likely to endure.

[...]“During the Arab oil embargo in the ’70s, we [the United States] imported 30 percent of our oil. Today, we import over 60 percent. And that dependence is growing,” commented Anne Korin, who co-directs the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security in Washington.  “And it causes us to be dependent on regimes that we do not like, that do not like us, whose values are very different from our own. And it causes us to be forced to make compromises, in terms of how we would like to deal with certain countries.”

Omitted a little detail, didn’t she?

Monday, October 9th, 2006

Patricia A. Woertz, ADM’s new chief executive:

The idea that ethanol could one day replace more than half of gasoline is not out of the realm of possibility, either, she said, but will require successful development of ethanol from agricultural waste like corn stalks, or hardy grasses like switchgrass. The technology to efficiently produce this so-called “cellulosic” ethanol is most likely many years away. In any event, “We will be there when it’s there,” she said. “We want to intersect the future and still be a big player in the bio-energy world.”

Well, if one REALLY wants to increase ethanol supply quickly, one would call for the removal of the onerous 54 cent a gallon tariff on imported ethanol, which would throw the game wide open to the 100 or so countries across the world, including many in our own hemisphere such as Brazil, eager to produce sugar cane ethanol (which is 5 times more efficient to make than ethanol from corn, and thus cheaper) rather than being one of the biggest opponents of its removal wouldn’t one?

Just saying.

Gulliver and the Lilliputs

Friday, October 6th, 2006


Nations that historically have had little impact because of past trade relations or possession of raw materials of limited value are now capable of influencing American foreign policy actions. These nations have either a direct linkage to or indirectly affect America’s economy. For example, the United States has attempted to seek oil sources from other than Persian Gulf nations. Some of the largest sources of available non-Middle East oil imports are from Venezuela and Nigeria. This reliance on Venezuelan and Nigerian oil gives those nations greater influence on U.S. foreign policy, or at least a stronger bargaining position with Washington. Failure to consider them or problems within their regions can produce hefty economic penalties to the nation and the global economy. Although the amounts of oil imported from Venezuela and Nigeria is smaller than imports from Saudi Arabia and some other oil producers, upward spikes in oil prices can slow down the American economy by directly “taxing” consumers and production due to higher prices at the gas pump and for many products. However, the effect does not stop there. Higher world oil prices also threaten the economic health of many small nations. This, in turn, affects their ability to produce exported goods and services and can seriously reduce their ability to buy imported American goods. Economic hardship can create disruption that leads to political instability and conflict.

In the words of Senator Lieberman: “The growing global dependency on oil endangers our nation. Failure to act will leave us a pitiful giant, like Gulliver in Lilliput, tied down and subject to the whim of smaller nations who have oil.”

Recall also the words of Secretary Rice: “I can tell you that nothing has really taken me aback more, as Secretary of State, than the way that the politics of energy is — I will use the word ‘warping’ diplomacy around the world. It has given extraordinary power to some states that are using that power in not very good ways for the international system, states that would otherwise have very little power.”