Ali Khamenei or Donald Trump: who understands the situation better?

Qasem Soleimani, Iran’s key military strategist, killed in a US drone strike, seems to have been a brave man.  He was certainly very confident.

Organising a near act of war against the embassy of the most powerful state in the world, located in the heart of a (nominally) allied capital city, was risky.  Flying into the scene of this triumph was, with hindsight, foolhardy.

The thing with politics – and other forms of conflict – is that while actors can shape events, they can’t wish away the underlying realities of the situation. Continue reading “Ali Khamenei or Donald Trump: who understands the situation better?”

Who made the bigger mistake in Syria: Trump or Putin?

This blog asked whether Donald Trump might have made a serious error – perhaps even a fatal one – when he acquiesced in Turkey’s attack on America’s Syrian-Kurdish allies. He managed to irritate key supporters in the US Senate and early polling suggested a drop in support for his Middle East policies among Republican voters.

Failure to stand up for allies, dislike of Turkish self-assertion, fears of an ISIS resurgence and a sense that the US was being railroaded, all seem to have played some part in this reaction.

But for an explanation of why this might work out splendidly for the US (and Donald Trump), look no further than the piece by Israeli political analyst Zev Chafets on Bloomberg. Continue reading “Who made the bigger mistake in Syria: Trump or Putin?”

The big question around spike in oil prices is when Saudi supply will return to normal

NZ motorists can brace for higher fuel prices with good cause. The attack on Saudi oil facilities poses one of the greatest threats to oil production and supply in recent years.

Crude oil prices posted their largest-ever jump in a single day, as Saudi Arabia counts the damage caused by aerial strikes on its state-owned petroleum giant, Saudi Aramco.

The Aramco plants targeted are crucial to the company’s operations. If they are offline, for even a short while, it will drastically reduce the output of Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter.

This poses important questions: When will Saudi oil production return to its level before the attack? The country aims to restore part of its output today, but when production and supply will return to normal remains unclear. Continue reading “The big question around spike in oil prices is when Saudi supply will return to normal”