Ure Chessmates ‘The Middle East Chessboard’

The Mideast Chessboard, www.urbansurvival.com, George Ure, Today

Since the botched terrorist event onboard the Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit this weekend, there’s now concerned being expressed about the possible impact of additional security measures on business air travel.

 What conspiracy theorists will find especially interesting is that there are reports out now that the family of the alleged terrorist says he had cut off family contact with them – and there’s even talk of an accomplice. Another report claims the “…suspect’s family warned authorities of his Islamic radicalisation…”

 Another bit for the conspiracy theorists, who  was the sharp-dressed man in the shocking MLive report “Flight 253 passenger: Sharp-dressed man aided terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab onto plane without passport“?  One of the PTB’s fix-it types?

Meantime there are a large number of events all seeming to ‘pop off at once’ in the Middle East.  For example, Yemen has announced the arrest of 29 al Qaeda suspects after a raid.  Related to this is that the “U.S. military attacks al Qaeda in Yemen for second time” over the long weekend which raises an interesting Constitutional question in my mind.  All in favor of busting up terrorism, but isn’t going into Yemen’s territory and Act of War and isn’t there something Congress is supposed to be involved in first?  Just asking…you know…like a declaration of war/hostilities, maybe?

1,300 miles north/northwest of Yemen, it’s now one year since the Israeli attack on Gaza – the one with the reported use of white phosphorus, remember?  Time Magazine has a review of the situation in “Once year since Israel’s offensive, Gaza still suffers.”  Not that anything is going to change anytime soon, despite “UK protesters blast Israeli blockage” since the Israeli attack was not without provocations like missile firings and such.

 The continuing controversy over Israel’s border expansion has spilled over into the US with some very good perspective is available in “Changing the Jewish State and the State of Jews: J Street and the Future of Israel ” at the Religious Dispatches web site with regard to the philosophical differences between J-Street and AIPAC.

So let me see here…scratching on the back of an envelope, we have the US warring in Yemen to some degree, a developing schism over how far Israel should expand borders and whether a two-state solution is a solution at all, and then we have the messes in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Now, toss into that demonstrations in Iran where a round-up of anti-government protesters is expected, and

 the report in the Jerusalem Post that a “Maverick Iraqi politician claims Iran could go nuclear within weeks” at a time when the “US to push for Iran sanctions in January.”

 The question is pretty simple:  With Iran having trouble at home and with a schism developing on territorial expansion, how long will Israel wait?

 My guess is not very.  Reason?  Little noticed in the Western/corpgov press is that Israel is holding a first-ever ambassador’s conference in Jerusalem.  While on the surface, one agenda item is to talk about tense relations and whether Turkey could moderate talks with Palestinian leaders, I’d bet there’s another item being discussed in background:  How will Israel’s diplomatic corp respond when Israel moves proactively against Iran?

 From putting together a few more stories, like the most informative one in the Jerusalem Post today under the banner  (foreign minister) “Lieberman: No peace deal in next 10 to 20 years” we learn that Israel has “the country’s 140 ambassadors and consul-generals who are participating.”

 Was it worth flying most all of the Israeli diplomatic upper crust to Jerusalem to hear a headline grabbing speech about “no peace deal in 10 to 20 years”?  No, since some foreign media have noted this is the first ever  meeting of it’s kind. 

 Best guess:  Israel isn’t going to wait for US sanctions which will no doubt be a long time coming and hotly debated even then.  Especially when the pro-bomb-Iran groups now have a headline that claims Iran will be nuclear capable ‘within weeks.”

 If I were a betting man – not just a nut-job in the outback of East Texas, I’d wager that the Iranian – and rest of world – response to an Israeli launch is the real agenda at Jerusalem and that this is a planning meeting for how to communicate Israel’s regional security concerns.  Especially if, as linguistics have previously suggested, there’s more than just political fallout from the attack.

 The intrepid investor, faced with a mountain of detail, may be able to watch the two indicators this week that should foreshadow military action against Iran:  The price of oil – which seems to be holding over $78 a barrel today and the price of gold, which has popped up a few more dollars.

 Should I mention that the “Iraqi and Iranian forces stand off in oil well row” sets up the Iranian army invading Iraq if Israel throws bombs its way?  In the linguistics there have been references to massive military casualties and an Iranian army move into Iraq 

 One more indicator?  Sure…I’m having an after-Christmas special on them, LOL  Copper is up more than 2½ percent in early trading.  And you know what copper’s used for making, right?

 Oh – all this is not lost on the Iranians.  Iran’s Press-TV headlines it as “Israel summons envoys from all over the world” and then notes in their story:

“This is the first time a conference for all of Israel’s heads of missions has been held.”

And that would include the Six Days War, a couple of oil embargoes and more.  Is it wise to expect fallout shortly?  You get to decide how to define ‘fallout’, but my expectation is yes to at least one definition and soon enough. I think Israel is unlikely to accept sanctions as an alternative, especially when Iran has been running the clock for over a year.

 The reason I expect and Israeli launch on Iran would go nuclear from the outset?  The US may be running the clock a bit as the Iranian press is also reporting that “Financial problem delay new US bunker buster bomb”  while other headlines advise that deployment is a year out – next December.

Oh, and I expect the house will move up it’s Patriot Act vote which had been about to expire since that allows more government spying on you than was permissible before 9/11. Which gets us back to the MLive report of the sharply-dress ‘helper’ doesn’t it?

 And the Next Terror Item is…?

The UK’s Sun headlining today that “COPS fear that 25 British-born Muslims are plotting to bomb Western airliners.”  Is it all a build up to our topic above?  Or, do the Brits have anti-terrorism laws that need renewing, too?

 Airline Woes

All this circles around to a very interesting investment question this morning:  How long will people keep flying with the lines are getting longer and longer and “Ramped up US airport security deepens holiday travel misery.“?

 Back in my airline management days it was axiomatic that “Airplanes don’t make money on the ground” so if you’re looking for an easy way to analyze airline financial performance, look at how many hours a day the average plane is flying (12-13 is nice) versus how much time they spend on the ground.  Then, if you have a decent revenue passenger load factor (75%+ is nice) the airline has to almost work to loose money.  But as PLF and block times drop, well – things get ugly about there. 

 Something to ponder if you’re playing airline stocks short today…


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