17, February, 2011
For the first time in decades, two Iranian warships plan to transit the Suez Canal on route for Syria. Israel has denounced this as a provocation. At a time when Egyptians are in a delicate state of political and religious turmoil this is a brazen signal of growing Persian outreach. It is directed at the popular revolts igniting regime-changes across the southern Mediterranean.
Iran wants to show itself powerful and sympathetic to the religious masses. But not at home. Iranian mullahs have ruthlessly crushed popular demonstrations in Iran. Their aim is to stoke up problems elsewhere and train aggressive bandit regimes like Hamas in Gaza, HizbAllah (Party of God) in Lebanon (armed to the teeth with missiles and rockets) and spread war tensions in Syria and Jordan and now boost its influence in Egypt. Non-Iranian cargo ships loaded with Iranian missiles, arms and ammunition have previously been stopped for violating UN resolutions against this traffic.
It has a clear goal to antagonize Israel. But is it part of a larger goal — Europe and whole of the European Sea, the Mediterranean?
The ships — a frigate and a supply ship — are symbolic of Iran’s entry into the area where it has been banned or barred for thirty years. It has little military significance but huge propaganda value. It reinforces a religious message that is at the same time a political one. As exposed in the last commentary, Iran resumed plane flights to Egypt after three decades. The resumption occurred just a few months before President Mubarak was forced to resign. It indicated Iranians had already grabbed new powers to change policy inside Egypt. Mubarak was loud and outspoken about the ‘Persians’ who he called the greatest enemy of the Arabs. Some Iranians have a dream — 1500 years ago Persians under Darius 1 once controlled the pre-Suez Canal linking the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean. A continuous struggle for supremacy occurred under competing Islamic flags.
For Iran, which today holds the chairmanship of the oil cartel OPEC for the first time in 36 years, the latest story has had a very profitable effect. Oil prices moved to their highest in more than two years, rising 2.40 dollars in a single day. That rise was more than a whole barrel cost before oil became the plaything of the cartel. In 1973 oil was transformed into the Oil Weapon in the war against Israel and the West.
Why does the Iranian regime say it wants to make an armed naval entrance into the Mediterranean? Hold your breath! Ostensibly to tackle bandits — that is pirates. Have the Iranian captains lost their way? The pirates in question are 5000 km away — off the African coast of Somalia.
“During the mission the Iranian Navy cadets are due to be trained and prepared for defending the country’s cargo ships and oil tankers against the continued threat of attack by Somali pirates,” the semi-official Iranian Fars report said.
Why don’t they try 5000km in the opposite direction — the Antarctic?
Will the presence of Iranian gunships help the Mediterranean States build democracy? Will it help build respect for human rights and religious harmony?
If we turn to the source of the Iranian religio-political philosophy, it is clear that Europe is in the middle of an ideological war. Europeans with wishy-washy ideas are in no position to fight. The European Community is based on firm, supranational values, that is, absolute values such as telling the truth in national statistics, honest money, correcting corruption and requiring democratic backing for public decisions. Robert Schuman the founder of European democracy said that it must be based on Judeo-Christian foundation such as the search for truth, not dogmatism. A clash is inevitable.
This is what the Iran’s revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Khomeini said:
‘We know of no absolute values besides total submission to the will of Almighty.
(He meant his own ideas of the Almighty, his politics and human conduct.)
‘People say: ‘Don’t lie!’ But the principle is different when we serve the will of Allah. He taught men to lie so that we can save ourselves at moments of difficulty and confuse our enemies.’
The WikiLeaks indicate that the Gulf States — now under pressure again — recognize this mendacious Iranian tongue. ‘Don’t believe one word in a hundred of what the Iranians say.’ That was what thirty years of experience taught the emir of Qatar. The world has only to observe the reality of today’s Iran.
World peace requires either peacefully agreed common values or armed and verbal resistance against untruth. Human rights and responsibilities are a goal to attain for all societies. In Europe, the first legal convention for free States was created in 1950 when Robert Schuman and other Founding Fathers signed the Council of Europe’s Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
Europe’s initiative arose because in WW2 much of the Continent was under a slave system — forced labour, extermination camps and destruction of religious values. Slavery was applied under both the neo-pagan Nazi regime as well as the atheistic Soviet regime. Those two systems had their own propaganda systems that twisted and distorted the truth. In the West many people were duped in the years before WW2 and during the Cold War. Free media including electronic media help make that difficult today.
The Convention guarantees that all signatory States must assure freedom of religion and the freedom to be able to change one’s religion as well as the freedom of conscience and the freedom of communication including criticizing religious and political ideas.
Schuman maintained that only a society based on Christian principles that recognized the potential of all individuals for salvation provides the basis for equality under law or democracy. A society based on Christian principles allows open discussion for Atheists, Jews, Christian sects, Muslims, animists, Buddhists and Hindus. The same applies to the Jewish State of Israel where there is freedom for Christians, Baha’is and Muslims and all who do not revert to violence. This contrasts starkly with the Palestinian Authority and Hamas in Gaza. Both demand a Jew-free territory with a death penalty to any Muslim or Arab who would sell a house or land to a Jew.
Atheism treats religious believers of all types as second-class citizens. Nazism treated Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the confessing Lutheran Church as enemies to be destroyed. Islamic States are in the logical impossibility of maintaining a democracy because non-believers in Islam are treated as second-class citizens, either as outright infidels or at best people of the Book, (the Hebrew Bible which is not generally read or available in Islamic societies, only mixed ones). They are then granted second-class citizenship involving higher taxes etc as dhimmis. That is not democracy.
While one can applaud a call for freedom, one should also be aware that too often in history the removal of one ‘tyrant’ leads to another sort of tyranny and the loss of freedom again. The criterion in Egypt is that the Muslim community should recognize the possibility of individual Muslims changing their religion to that of the Coptic Church. According to a recent survey, four out of five Egyptians are of the opinion that any so-called Muslim ‘apostates’ should be executed. That is far from democracy.
Tyrants do not like free media. Religious tyrants are especially edgy and cry blue murder when critical questions are raised proving that they are talking rubbish. Today we have the extra facilities of the electronic media but we should be under no illusion that this will provide a freer society in dictatorships. Egypt was able to close down Internet in the first days of the popular revolt. This is also a possibility in many of the Mediterranean despots, such as Syria.
Europe’s leaders are fast asleep while a major attack on European values is under way. The Suez Canal is vital for 8 per cent of world trade and 5 per cent of its oil. China is now making massive purchases for future oil. That alone would render oil much more expensive for Europe. According to WikiLeaks Saudi government say their oil reserves are possibly overstated by 40 %. The world’s largest exporter of crude will not be able to bail Europe out much longer. An oil crunch is inevitable.
If together with this easily foreseeable price hike, oil is again used as a religio-political weapon as it was in the 1970s, Europe could find itself in dire, dire straits.
Energy shortage is Europe’s most urgent danger. It needs to establish energy independence. It can do it within a decade. Energy penury lays us open to energy blackmail. The extra short European Council on Energy of 4 February 2011 will go down as one that refuse to provide a vision. It created a new sleeping pill. Instead of initiating something real like a supranational Energy Community to mobilize the whole population, it devalued the whole idea. An energy community was a ‘brand name’ in the words of President Jerzy Buzek of the European Parliament. In other words it is an unrealistic dream of the inter-governmentalists. They have no intention of opening their eyes to the mortal danger Europe is facing, and acting. They are afraid of proposing the new, democratically-agreed treaty that is necessary for a real Energy Community.
Is energy more important than the euro crisis? Listen to what the International Energy Agency told the European Commission at a meeting inside the Commission’s Berlaymont recently. ‘The rise in price of oil in 2010 cost the EU more than the combined budget debt of Greece and Portugal!‘ That was when oil rose from the 75s to the 90 a barrel mainly in the last quarter. Now it is above one hundred dollars and still rising.
The rise in oil prices in 2010 amounted to an additional cost for Europeans equivalent to HALF of the entire budget for the European Union in 2010. That is the RISE, not the total cost. Imported Energy (oil and gas) amounts to two and a half times the entire EU budget.
Oil is on a move upwards which represents a theft from the pockets of every European. Why theft? Because it is not a free market. It is being run by a multiple cartel system that ensures that the cartel-owners get the maximum price. In the early 1970s oil price was $2 a barrel. It was quadrupled by a political decision in 1973 using the oil weapon against Europe. In 1979 it was quadrupled again using the same method. A free market is when everyone is free to supply the demand on the market without secret cartels switching off the tap. All cartels involve theft by restricting supply, production, transport, financing, refinement and outlets. The Suez Canal is vital for Europe. It is becoming another tool for a global cartel.
Why has the European economy hit the doldrums? Part of it is dishonest politics and economic cheating. The other part is that the European economy is being sucked dry by ever-rising energy prices. Europeans need to use their native intelligence to create both energy independence and foreign policy independence. Strength comes through the democracy of the supranational Community system not inter-governmentalism.
Over the past year the oil import costs for the 34 mostly rich countries that make up the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development have soared by $200bn to $790bn at the end of 2010, according to an analysis by the International Energy Agency. It cost the USA $72 billion, the EU $70 billion.
The increase, due to high crude prices, is equal to a loss of income of about 0.5 per cent of OECD gross domestic product, according to the IEA. Oil consuming nations, meanwhile, need to accelerate their efforts to reduce their reliance on oil, especially for transportation, the IEA said.
Europe’s first priority must be to cut oil and gas imports. I asked the director of one of Europe’s most advanced technological firms the following question:
‘If politicians and the people set as their goal to have energy independence in ten years, is it attainable?‘
His answer is quite different from politicians and others who think they know.
He said that it was possible that over the course of the year Europe could be energy import neutral. That is on average it could cut its imports to zero. In the winter it would need some energy but at other seasons it could export energy.
Which politician has told you that? None that I know. Why? Is it possibly because the extra billions from the oil price scam is being used to persuade them that it is not possible?
Who would gain most if Europe ran out of power? Consider the exaltation of Iran in the Arab world if it did it. Europe should be aware! Iran is not a coy friend. What does a child do if you take away its toys. It tries to take yours. Europe has been talking to Iran about stopping its bomb-making programme. It has tried sanctions. Some of the Iranian nuclear programme has been sabotaged by the Stuxnet computer worm malware.
Will Iran take this lying down? Are the Iranians worried if European sanctions ruin their own country? Do they want to launch some sort of religio-political malware against Europe in revenge? Politicians assume sanctions would stop the mullahs in their religio-political goals. They should not rely on wishful thinking. They should rely on the facts.
How do you influence people who are mass-murderers of children? Consider the words of the leader who sent hundreds of young children to march through mine fields to explode them. Khomeini ordered half a million plastic keys to give to such children. Tied round their neck the key was a symbol to open the gates of paradise. Did he sacrifice other families’ children for Iran or for a religious idea? War with Iraq he said was ‘a divine blessing‘.
‘We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah. For patriotism is another word for paganism. I say let this land burn. I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam triumphs in the rest of the world.’
That world, that target, includes Europe.David Heilbron Price