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Secret Seven Sisters: Rise and Rise of the seven sisters.

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On August 28, 1928, in the Scottish highlands, began the secret story of oil.

Three men had an appointment at Achnacarry Castle – a Dutchman, an American and an Englishman.

The Dutchman was Henry Deterding, a man nicknamed the Napoleon of Oil, having exploited a find in Sumatra. He joined forces with a rich ship owner and painted Shell salesman and together the two men founded Royal Dutch Shell.

The American was Walter C. Teagle and he represents the Standard Oil Company, founded by John D. Rockefeller at the age of 31 – the future Exxon. Oil wells, transport, refining and distribution of oil – everything is controlled by Standard oil.

The Englishman, Sir John Cadman, was the director of the Anglo-Persian oil Company, soon to become BP. On the initiative of a young Winston Churchill, the British government had taken a stake in BP and the Royal Navy switched its fuel from coal to oil. With fuel-hungry ships, planes and tanks, oil became “the blood of every battle”.

The new automobile industry was developing fast, and the Ford T was selling by the million. The world was thirsty for oil, and companies were waging a merciless contest but the competition was making the market unstable.

That August night, the three men decided to stop fighting and to start sharing out the world’s oil. Their vision was that production zones, transport costs, sales prices – everything would be agreed and shared. And so began a great cartel, whose purpose was to dominate the world, by controlling its oil.

Four others soon joined them, and they came to be known as the Seven Sisters – the biggest oil companies in the world.

In the first episode, we travel across the Middle East, through both time and space.

“We waged the Iran-Iraq war and I say we waged it, because one country had to be used to destroy the other. As they already benefit from the oil bonanza, and they’re building up financal reserves, from time to time they have to be bled.”

– Xavier Houzel, an oil trader

Throughout the region’s modern history, since the discovery of oil, the Seven Sisters have sought to control the balance of power.

They have supported monarchies in Iran and Saudi Arabia, opposed the creation of OPEC, profiting from the Iran-Iraq war, leading to the ultimate destruction of Saddam Hussein and Iraq.

The Seven Sisters were always present, and almost always came out on top.

Since that notorious meeting at Achnacarry Castle on August 28, 1928, they have never ceased to plot, to plan and to scheme.

At the end of the 1960s, the Seven Sisters, the major oil companies, controlled 85 percent of the world’s oil reserves. Today, they control just 10 percent.

New hunting grounds are therefore required, and the Sisters have turned their gaze towards Africa. With peak oil, wars in the Middle East, and the rise in crude prices, Africa is the oil companies’ new battleground.

“Everybody thought there could be oil in Sudan but nobody knew anything. It was revealed through exploration by the American company Chevron, towards the end of the 70s. And that was the beginning of the second civil war, which went on until 2002. It lasted for 19 years and cost a million and a half lives and the oil business was at the heart of it.”

– Gerard Prunier, a historian

But the real story, the secret story of oil, begins far from Africa.

In their bid to dominate Africa, the Sisters installed a king in Libya, a dictator in Gabon, fought the nationalisation of oil resources in Algeria, and through corruption, war and assassinations, brought Nigeria to its knees.

Oil may be flowing into the holds of huge tankers, but in Lagos, petrol shortages are chronic.

The country’s four refineries are obsolete and the continent’s main oil exporter is forced to import refined petrol – a paradox that reaps fortunes for a handful of oil companies.

Encouraged by the companies, corruption has become a system of government – some $50bn are estimated to have ‘disappeared’ out of the $350bn received since independence.

But new players have now joined the great oil game.

China, with its growing appetite for energy, has found new friends in Sudan, and the Chinese builders have moved in. Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir is proud of his co-operation with China – a dam on the Nile, roads, and stadiums.

In order to export 500,000 barrels of oil a day from the oil fields in the South – China financed and built the Heglig pipeline connected to Port Sudan – now South Sudan’s precious oil is shipped through North Sudan to Chinese ports.

In a bid to secure oil supplies out of Libya, the US, the UK and the Seven Sisters made peace with the once shunned Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, until he was killed during the Libyan uprising of 2011, but the flow of Libyan oil remains uninterrupted.

In need of funds for rebuilding, Libya is now back to pumping more than a million barrels of oil per day. And the Sisters are happy to oblige.

In the Caucasus, the US and Russia are vying for control of the region. The great oil game is in full swing. Whoever controls the Caucasus and its roads, controls the transport of oil from the Caspian Sea.

Tbilisi, Erevan and Baku – the three capitals of the Caucasus. The oil from Baku in Azerbaijan is a strategic priority
for all the major companies.

From the fortunes of the Nobel family to the Russian revolution, to World War II, oil from the Caucasus and the Caspian has played a central role. Lenin fixated on conquering the Azeri capital Baku for its oil, as did Stalin and Hitler.

On his birthday in 1941, Adolf Hitler received a chocolate and cream birthday cake, representing a map. He chose the slice with Baku on it.

On June 22nd 1941, the armies of the Third Reich invaded Russia. The crucial battle of Stalingrad was the key to the road to the Caucasus and Baku’s oil, and would decide the outcome of the war.

Stalin told his troops: “Fighting for one’s oil is fighting for one’s freedom.”

After World War II, President Nikita Krushchev would build the Soviet empire and its Red Army with revenues from the USSR’s new-found oil reserves.

Decades later, oil would bring that empire to its knees, when Saudi Arabia and the US would conspire to open up the oil taps, flood the markets, and bring the price of oil down to $13 per barrel. Russian oligarchs would take up the oil mantle, only to be put in their place by their president, Vladimir Putin, who knows that oil is power.

The US and Putin‘s Russia would prop up despots, and exploit regional conflicts to maintain a grip on the oil fields of the Caucusus and the Caspian.

But they would not have counted on the rise of a new, strong and hungry China, with an almost limitless appetite for oil and energy. Today, the US, Russia and China contest the control of the former USSR’s fossil fuel reserves, and the supply routes. A three-handed match, with the world as spectators, between three ferocious beasts – The American eagle, the Russian bear, and the Chinese dragon.

Peak oil – the point in time at which the highest rate of oil extraction has been reached, and after which world production will start decline. Many geologists and the International Energy Agency say the world’s crude oil output reached its peak in 2006.

But while there may be less oil coming out of the ground, the demand for it is definitely on the rise.

One cant help but wonder what happens when oil becomes more and more inaccessible, while at the same time, new powers like China and India try to fulfill their growing energy needs.

And countries like Iran, while suffering international sanctions, have welcomed these new oil buyers, who put business ahead of lectures on human rights and nuclear ambitions.

At the same time, oil-producing countries have had enough with the Seven Sisters controlling their oil assets. Nationalisation of oil reserves around the world has ushered in a new generation of oil companies all vying for a slice of the oil pie.

These are the new Seven Sisters.

Saudi Arabia’s Saudi Aramco, the largest and most sophisticated oil company in the world; Russia’s Gazprom, a company that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin wrested away from the oligarchs; The China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), which, along with its subsidiary, Petrochina, is the world’s secnd largest company in terms of market value; The National Iranian Oil Company, which has a monopoly on exploration, extraction, transportation and exportation of crude oil in Iran – OPEC’s second largest oil producer after Saudi Arabia; Venezuela’s PDVSA, a company the late president Hugo Chavez dismantled and rebuilt into his country’s economic engine and part of his diplomatic arsenal; Brazil’s Petrobras, a leader in deep water oil production, that pumps out 2 million barrels of crude oil a day; and Malaysia’s Petronas – Asia’s most profitable company in 2012.

Mainly state-owned, the new Seven Sisters control a third of the world’s oil and gas production, and more than a third of the world’s reserves. The old Seven Sisters, by comparison, produce a tenth of the world’s oil, and control only three percent of the reserves.

The balance has shifted.

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Ambivalence of the Arab spring in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The series of protests and demonstrations across the Middle East and North Africa that commenced in 2010 has become known as
the “Arab Spring”,  and sometimes as the “Arab Spring and Winter”,  “Arab Awakening”  or “Arab
Uprisings”  even though not all the participants in the protests are Arab. It was sparked by the first protests that occurred
in Tunisia on 18 December 2010 in Sidi Bouzid, following Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation in protest of police corruption and ill
treatment. With the success of the protests in Tunisia, a wave of unrest sparked by the Tunisian “Burning Man” struck
Algeria, Jordan , Egypt , and Yemen , then spread to other countries. The largest, most organised demonstrations have often
occurred on a “day of rage”, usually Friday afternoon prayers. The protests have also triggered similar unrest outside
the region .

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As of September 2012, governments have been overthrown in four countries. Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi
Arabia on 14 January 2011 following the Tunisian revolution protests. In Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak resigned on 11 February
2011 after 18 days of massive protests, ending his 30-year presidency. The Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown on 23
August 2011, after the National Transitional Council (NTC) took control of Bab al-Azizia . He was killed on 20 October 2011, in his
hometown of Sirte after the NTC took control of the city. Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh signed the GCC power-transfer deal
in which a presidential election was held, resulting in his successor Abd al-Rab Mansur al-Hadi formally replacing him as the
president of Yemen on 27 February 2012, in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

During this period of regional unrest, several leaders announced their intentions to step down at the end of their current terms.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir announced that he would not seek re-election in 2015,  as did Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-
Maliki, whose term ends in 2014, although there have been increasingly violent demonstrations demanding his immediate
resignation. Protests in Jordan have also caused the sacking of four successive governments by King Abdullah .The
popular unrest in Kuwait has also resulted in resignation of Prime Minister Nasser Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah cabinet.

The geopolitical implications of the protests have drawn global attention,  including the suggestion that some protesters may be
nominated for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize . Tawakel Karman from Yemen was one of the three laureates of the 2011 Nobel Peace
Prize as a prominent leader in the Arab Spring. In December 2011, Time magazine named “The Protester” its ” Person of the Year “.

Another award was noted when the Spanish photographer Samuel Aranda won the 2011 World Press Photo award for his image
of a Yemeni woman holding an injured family member, taken during the civil uprising in Yemen on 15 October 2011.

Back in December 2010 , no one was aware that the suicidal gesture of a young Tunisian street vendor would trigger a tidal wave of
unprecedented popular uprisings in his country and others .

The media reverberations have shaken the whole planet. However, in Sub – Saharan Africa , the impact was more profound than in other
continents . There was a spontaneous identification with the popular protests going on in Tunisia , Libya, Egypt , etc. not only because of
the geographical proximity , but also because of the many similarities as regards the socio – economic and political situations , and the
deep -rooted links between the nations north and south of the Sahara .

A glimpse of hope for Africa ?

Many Africans were saying in whispers: ‘ If they can do it , why can ’t we do it too?’

When demonstrators in Tahrir square , Habib Bourguiba avenue, or Al Mahkama square (Benghazi ), shouted their anger against protracted
dictatorship, resources plundering by ruling party members , the Head of State and the First Lady’ s relatives , against sham elections ,
deterioration of health , education and public services , etc . many Africans felt they had been victims to the same evils for ages . Even
those countries with a degree of political and media pluralism coupled with formal electoral competition , were not immune from that
identification . Actually, the immediate and more pressing needs of the African populace is neither political pluralism nor fair and free
elections , but primarily : decent conditions of living , equitable resource distribution , equality of citizens before the Law , and above all :
jobs !

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Joblessness , spiralling poverty and hopelessness are made more and more intolerable, in comparison to the unashamed luxurious life – style
of the regimes’ cronies .

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It was no surprise,then , to see demonstrations, albeit limited , erupting in a dozen of African countries , with open reference to the Arab
Spring . Many Africans were saying in whispers: ” If they can do it , why can ’t we do it too ?”
As for the African governments , there was a real sense of anguish and even fear . In Eritrea and other countries, media coverage of the
popular protests was officially forbidden. In Zimbabwe activists were arrested for circulating videos of the Arab uprisings . In the republic
of Chad , senior military officers and members of the parliament , some of them from the ruling party itself, have been imprisoned [ Fr ]
for months , for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government through an ” African Summer” inspired by the ” Arab Spring ” .

Those were the immediate reactions , but with time, things have evolved in different directions . Those ” down under” (“ceux d ‘ en bas ” , in
French ) became concerned about the turn of events in the Arab Spring countries . Interrogations turned into disappointment ,
disappointment turned into suspicion and , sometimes, outright rejection . On the other hand, the authorities gained confidence about their
ability to prevent, or at least circumscribe, any popular movement .
Fears and conspiracies

There are a number of reasons for that negative evolution , the more prominent ones being : the NATO military intervention in Libya , the
political pre – eminence of Islamist political parties , the sudden rise of the Jihadist / armed groups in Northern Mali and Syria , and the
armed forces interference with the political process in Egypt.

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As for Libya , we should bear in mind that late Colonel Gaddafi had gone a long way to assert himself as the champion of African
sovereignty and unity in the face of the West. Besides , many believed that the NATO military intervention went far beyond its no -fly
zone mandate, and that the bloody showdown in Libya could have been avoided, had the members of the UN Security Council given a
chance to the African Union initiative for a negotiated post- Gaddafi transition.

We must admit that some African intellectuals , particularly those with dogmatic conception of pan- Africanism , not so enthusiastic about
any criticism against Gaddafi , tried to reinterpret the Arab Spring phenomenon in an exaggeratedly negative way . Some governmental
circles had either encouraged or directly got involved in the recruiting of mercenaries for the benefit of Gaddafi . They began rubbing
their hands with glee , advocating that ; the brutal increase of security threats in Mali and in the Sahel- Sahara region at large , the
persistence of militia groups in Libya, as well as the horrid scale of illegal immigration- related humanitarian disasters , are proof that
the world without Gaddafi is far from being a better place.

Conspiracy theories started to flourish. For some , the popular movement has been hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaida
organisations with help from Gulf countries . For others , the whole process should be reassessed as a Western scheme , secretly crafted
years before the events , aiming at disorganising, if not directly destroying the concerned states , in order to weaken them.

If we add the complaints about the harassment of Sub – Saharan Africans by militia and security operatives in Libya and the mitigated
attitude of the Algerian authorities towards the international military intervention against Jihadi groups in Northern Mali , we can
assume that there is a serious misunderstanding between the Sub – Saharan Africans and their Arab “ brothers ” , and that the so much
trumpeted Afro – Arab solidarity and cooperation might be seriously undermined .

The way forward

In order to avoid putting the long standing Afro- Arab relationship in jeopardy, the elites in both regions should rise to their historical
responsibilities and bridge the gaps that start to take shape.

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African democracy advocates must emphasise the most important lessons of the Arab Spring . That being ; Bouazizi ’s sacrifice and the
social and political earthquake it has triggered, is proof that any autocratic regime , no matter how mighty and how bloody, can be
defeated by poor, downtrodden , ordinary citizens . Furthermore , the spark thrown around by the heroic people of Tunisia , has not only
burnt down the thrones of many a tyrant , but will reshape the whole course of history in the Arab world, in Africa and even in the whole
globe ; as did the storming of the Bastille prison , during the French revolution , which heralded the historical demise of absolutism and the
rise of republics throughout Europe and beyond .

They must also, unequivocally , distantance themselves from any attempt at depreciating the Arab Spring by instrumentalising the
shortcomings and contradictions absolutely unavoidable in such a titanic and complex struggle as the one which the Arab peoples have
been engaged in . These shortcomings would turn out as an invaluable gift , if we understand them as an opportunity for the rest of us to
draw the real lessons from the mistakes that were made , avoid reproducing them in our countries, thus enabling us to shorten the long
and rough road to liberty and dignity .

Arab democrats also should assume their share of the responsibility . They must keep in mind , and make their public opinions understand,
that Africa is far from a homogeneous entity . Dictators , only concerned about their longevity in power perhaps even at the price of
comprising Afro – Arab solidarity , should not be confused with the peoples . Narrow – minded chauvinists should not be confused with
genuine patriots..

The challenges facing us are of the same nature ; therefore , understanding and mutual support are central to the success of each of us.

Posted by Aduari Tekena. Teks4u200@gmail.com

When tears mean nothing to a leader

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Syrians president Bashir Al Assad has epitomised brutality in his reign as president, perpetrating with impunity several fatalities around the country he took oath of office to protect, bringing him at par with dictators of the past which historians wish was fiction when they study and write about them e.g. Adolfus Hitler, Idi Amin, Mohammed Gaddafi most recently.  Indeed we will struggle to convince our great grand children that Bashir Al Assad and all his predecessors perpetrated all these fatalities for a just course which they claim to be fighting.
But what really goes on in the mind of a leader when he puts the blood of the people he swore to protect as price for his throne, and sees nothing wrong with it? How does a leader like that sleep at night? Maybe when they start, they don’t envision that its going to get so bloody, and then later they feel they are too far in to go back. It is hard to think a leader will envision the pain and suffering of 60,000 of his citizens and go ahead with his plans.

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When you look at all these pictures you will stuggle to believe this was done by their own leader. How do you reason with a man without conscience

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What does one do when a civil war escalates to the class of world war. The war in syria has brought lots of questions to be asked to the world at large that has not found answers for 2years into the crisis.
But one thing is certain there is no place in the world for people that commit genocide.

Inside Syria

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Fighting on the ground in Syria is as fierce as ever . It has been messy from the start , but now the battle is further complicated in the
face of an often vicious propaganda war between the government and the rebels.
The conflict has been unfolding for more than two years now , and much of the focus has been on what the Syrian government , its army ,
and its supporters are doing to their own people.
Most recently , pro – government militias were accused of killing as many as 200 people in the town of Baniyas.
Our position in this case is very clear , we will name the crime as a crime and we will not give any cover to anyone who commits them .
Especially the crimes that violates the very principles of humanity and of our revolution .
Louay al -Mokdad , political and media coordinator for FSA
It is one of several such accusations, but the al -Assad government has never acknowledged any of them . They say all operations target
what they call ” terrorists ” .
But this is a war , and war has two sides . Therefore, the opposition rebels can be just as guilty of atrocities.
In Syria in April , the head of one opposition group , al -Nusra Front , formally pledged allegiance to the al – Qaeda leader Ayman al –
Zawahiri .
Now there are reports that a large numbers of fighters from the opposition Free Syria Army (FSA ) – even entire units in some cases –
are defecting to al – Nusra .
Al – Nusra was established in January 2012 and since then has used car bombs and suicide attacks in its efforts to bring down the al –
Assad government . In December, the US state department put the group on its list of terrorist organisations.
And this week , the FSA faced criticism after a video was released that apparently shows a rebel commander cannibalising the body of a
government soldier .
When the video became public , the opposition Syrian National Council ( SNC) released a statement, saying : ” The Free Syrian Army is a
national army above all … formed to defend civilians and deliver the Syrian people from the mentality of revenge and crime .”
The SNC said it ” completely rejects the ill- treatment of the wounded and the disfigurement of the dead ” . It also promised that if the
video is confirmed to be genuine, the perpetrator will face justice.
Most serious analysts recognise that this is not in fact an indigenous movement who are protesting the Assad government but an attempt
[ by] the western powers to dismantle Syria in accordance with a plan designed by the Israelis .
James Fetzer , professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota
But the FSA has made similar promises before , following reports of summary executions of al – Assad supporters .
Rights groups like Human Rights Watch ( HRW) remain unconvinced.
” It is not enough for Syria ’s opposition to condemn such behaviour or blame it on violence by the government . The opposition forces need
to act firmly to stop such abuses ,” said Nadim Houry , HRW ‘ s Middle East deputy director.
” One important way to stop Syria ’s daily horrors , from beheadings to mutilations to executions, is to strip all sides from their sense of
impunity .
The United Nations is now calling for a full investigation into reports of atrocities on both sides.
So , is this week ‘ s report of abuse merely an isolated incident, or has the opposition committed more such atrocities? And despite its
shocking nature , is it any worse than what the government has been doing?