Israel assists the Middle East through oil and trash

A couple of stories caught my eye this week through which a common thread runs – that of Israel being able to provide a solution to assorted Middle Eastern problems.

A Lebanese man passes a pile of garbage blocking a street in east Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015. AP

Lebanon is in the throes of a trash crisis, as a simple labour dispute has degenerated into widespread  violent “You Stink” demonstrations; the army has moved in and people have even been injured. Hundreds of tons of uncollected rubbish are strewing the streets causing an environmental and health danger.

Incredibly the UN urged restraint! Do they ever urge anything else? What has restraint got to do with civic protests against the lack of refuse collection?

A wounded woman is moved on a stretcher by medics during a protest against corruption and rubbish collection problems near the government palace in Beirut, August 22, 2015. (Reuters)

However what should have been a relatively minor domestic labour dispute has the menacing potential of turning into something much worse as it emerges that Hezbollah might be trying to exploit the political tension behind the crisis in order to topple the government:

The goal of Hezbollah, the Lebanese politicians told Al-Arab, is “to create a power vacuum amid the [Lebanese] parliament’s failure to elect a new president who is acceptable to everyone.”

These politicians see proof of this in the fact that at the beginning of the “You Stink” protests, Lebanese citizens critical of the government’s inability to deal with trash were holding up signs to this effect. But, as soon as Hezbollah operatives joined in, placards suddenly appeared, calling for the toppling of the government, with a focus on two of Hezbollah’s political foes — Prime Minister Salam, and Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk.

But help might be at hand from an unlikely source! An Israeli startup has provided a solution to the Bedouin of the Negev for their manure disposal problem. (In fact I blogged about this almost a year ago).

HomeBioGas, based in the Beit Yanai moshav in central Israel, has invented a portable “anaerobic digester” that turns kitchen waste and livestock manure into cooking-gas.

Installing a HomeBioGas ‘digester’ in al-Awja in the Jordan Valley.

“Families in these areas not only live off the grid,” HomeBioGas sales manager Ron Yariv told The Algemeiner. “But they dwell in tents or tin huts.” This, he said, forces them to burn wood from trees or goat manure to generate fire for cooking.

“This is arduous and dangerous,” he said, adding that more than four million people across the world die annually from the toxic fumes emitted during this process. “It is also very harmful to the environment.”

So far, the company has installed 37 systems, one per family. Most of these are in the Palestinian village of al-Awja in Jordan Valley, with a smaller number provided to Negev Bedouins. In two months, another 37 will be delivered.

The portable product is 1.6 by 1 meters, as unobtrusive as the individual gas tanks commonly used in Israel, hooks up to the stove, also provided by the company, with a pipe.

The families in the pilot project were given instructions on how to save and funnel their organic waste into the device for optimal use. And subsequent follow-up visits have been regular, according to Yariv.

The project, in conjunction with Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Peres Peace Center, is funded by the European Union to the tune of half a million euros.

Gas is produced in the “digester” through fermentation of organic waste mixed with water and certain bacteria, which then multiply. An added benefit, said Yariv, is that a liquid is created from the process that can be used as organic fertilizer for crops. The price for consumers has not yet been determined, but the device itself costs a few hundred dollars in materials and construction.

Well, you can’t argue with success can you? If it works for the Bedouin why shouldn’t it work for the Lebanese? Think how much fuel they could produce at the same time. It’s a win-win situation as far as I can see. They just have to get round that little problem called Hezbollah who won’t be too happy to see any cooperation with Israel.

On a much more serious note, Israel needs oil and ISIS are a menace to the entire world. Israel’s latest oil purchase has the potential to solve two problems at once.

Israel Hayom reports that according to the Financial times, Israel bought $1 billion worth of oil from the Kurds, thus financing their fight against ISIS in a roundabout fashion:

Israel has imported around 75% of its oil in recent months from the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, the British Financial Times newspaper reported on Sunday.

A Kurdish oil ship off the coast of Israel | Photo credit: Reuters

The report called the Israeli oil purchases “a vital source of funds” for the Kurdish fight against the Islamic State group. Other major purchasers of Kurdish oil include Italy, France and Greece.

According to shipping data, trading sources and satellite tanker tracking cited by the report, Israeli refineries and oil companies imported more than 19 million barrels of Kurdish oil between the beginning of May and August 11 this year, a total worth around $1 billion based on international prices during that period.

The report said the sales to Israel represented “another fissure” between the Erbil-based Kurdistan Regional Government and the federal government in Baghdad. The Iraqi government does not recognize Israel and has no official ties with it.

So much for the American attempt to install a pro-Western (and therefore pro-Israel?) government in Iraq.

The Kurdistan Regional Government said it did not sell oil “directly or indirectly” to Israel, but, according to the report, ties between the Kurds and Israel go back several decades.

“We do not care where the oil goes once we have delivered it to the traders,” a senior Kurdish government adviser in Erbil was quoted as saying. “Our priority is getting the cash to fund our Peshmerga forces against Daesh [Islamic State] and to pay civil servant salaries.”

Good for the Kurds for turning a blind eye to where their oil goes to, and I’m sure they know very well that its destination is Israel. I hope that it’s only political necessity that makes them deny any connection to Israel, and not enmity. Good for Israel too for turning to unconventional sources for our fuel needs, although we Israelis are still waiting for those natural gas fields to start delivering.

A side-effect of this deal is yet another possible confrontation between Netanyahu and Obama, as the blogger War Sclerotic reports via Debka:

That Israel and other nations were buying oil from the Kurdish republic of Iraq had been published before and was no secret. The Financial Times broke its “discovery” Sunday, Aug. 23, just by chance? on the day that Britain and Iran reopened their respective embassies in Tehran and London after a four-year breach resulting from a mob attack on the Tehran embassy.

Even before sanctions were lifted and Tehran had demonstrated its compliance with the nuclear deal signed with the world powers in Vienna on July 14, European ministers were knocking on the door in a quest for financial relations. The Islamic Republic was deemed rehabilitated by the nuclear accord; and the UK saw no reason to lag behind the others. And so Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond was personally in attendance at the ceremonial reopening Sunday of the Tehran embassy.

The FT’s report’s timing fitting in perfectly with the British government’s plans to quickly develop profitable ties with the Islamic Republic …

The pejorative depiction of Israel’s purchase of Kurdish oil was meant to gain London points – not just with Iran and Iraq, but also with the Obama White House.

In serving this purpose, TheFinancial Times found no editorial need to fill in the pertinent Middle East background of the trade.

Exactly a year ago, debkafile discovered and reported that Kurdish oil was being delivered to Israel. Several media discovered an American warship that was described at the time as stalking the United Kalvyrta tanker which carried a million barrels of Kurdish oil. The warship planned to prevent the oil being unloaded at any port, since Washington viewed the cargo as the legal property of the Iraqi government – not the KRG which had put it up for sale. Had the oil reached its purchasers, it would have been nearly impossible to cut off Kurdistan’s export trade to clients outside Iraq.

This American step was part and parcel of the US negotiating tactics for a nuclear accord, then at one of their critical moments. The Obama administration was anxious to show Tehran how closely the US would play ball with Iran and Shiite-dominated Iraq on the vital issue of oil, once the nuclear accord was in the bag.

But the episode did not pan out as expected.

This is what happened: “The partially full Kamari tanker carrying Kurdish crude oil disappeared from satellite tracking north of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Two days later, the empty vessel reappeared near Israel.”

No one in the trade doubted for a moment that the vanishing oil had been unloaded at an Israeli port.

Since all matters relating to energy are made in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office, it stands to reason that the decision to buy oil from the KRG came from the top.
Netanyahu’s readiness to go head to head with the Obama administration on this issue had two motives:

First, Kurdish oil was cheap. Irbil denies undercutting the market, but debkafile’s sources report that it was willing to do so in the case of Israel.

Second, the Netanyahu government and the Obama administration don’t see to eye to eye not just on nuclear Iran, but on Middle East policy in general – and the autonomous Kurdish republic of Iraq, in particular.

This week, as Netanyahu marked the first 100 days of his fourth term as prime minister, his critics described him as weak and lacking in accomplishments. The Kurdish enterprise was one of several cases in which he quietly took a strong initiative.

This is a very interesting theory – and I hope it’s correct and not just Debka day-dreaming.

I like the idea of Israel putting one over the White House, and I also like the idea of Israeli trash recycling saving Lebanon from terrorism. It all fits so nicely!

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4 Responses to Israel assists the Middle East through oil and trash

  1. DP-PT says:

    I like this statement:
    This is what happened: “The partially full Kamari tanker carrying Kurdish crude oil disappeared from satellite tracking north of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Two days later, the empty vessel reappeared near Israel.”
    Now how exactly did Israel manage to hide the tanker from satellite tracking for those crucial 2 days? Or are these satellite’s Israeli?

    • anneinpt says:

      I don’t know but I do love these conspiracy theories where Israel looks like a country-sized version of James Bond. 😛

      I just hope we’re not believing our own propaganda. That could be dangerous. it’s so tempting though.

      • Brian Goldfarb says:

        If we want to be real conspiracy theorists, we should be asking not whether those tracking satellites were Israeli, but to whom were the technicians reporting? A year or so back, there were reports that relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel were warming. I suggested that this might lead to a situation of Israeli warplanes en route to Iranian nuclear facilities overflying Saudi territory, with Saudi air traffic control reporting no unusual movements in their skies.

        So, how about satellite technicians doing the same? Without being Israeli.

  2. Pingback: Britain’s rush to warm up relations with Iran | Anne's Opinions

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