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2015 Global Peace Index

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Recent report of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) on the Global Peace Index (2015) shows that the world is becoming increasingly divided with some countries enjoying unprecedented levels of peace and prosperity while others spiral further into violence and conflict.

Global Peace Index Results Map

“This is the ninth edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI), which ranks the nations of the world according to their level of peacefulness. The index is composed of 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators from highly respected sources and ranks 162 independent states, covering 99.6 per cent of the world’s population. The index gauges global peace using three broad themes: the level of safety and security in society, the extent of domestic and international conflict and the degree of militarisation.” -IEP.

Violence costs 13.4% of World GDP

Global Peace Index Results Map

Assad: I am ready to do everything that will benefit the Syrian people

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  • Syrian President Bashar Assad told the “Rossiyskaya Gazeta”, RT, First Channel, “Russia 24”, NTV, “Russia Today”, TASS and “Interfax” on relations with Russia, about why he was dissatisfied with the West, how to fight terrorism and under what conditions he agreed to go.

What do you think of the idea to share power and work together with the opposition groups who continue to openly declare that the situation in Syria does not have a political solution without your immediate departure? Maybe the opposition made it clear that it is ready to work with the leaders of Syria? At the beginning of the crisis, many of these groups have demanded political reforms and transformations. Is it possible to implement these changes against the backdrop of the current situation, the ongoing war and the spread of terrorism in Syria?

Assad: As to the first part of the question – the political process, from the very beginning of the crisis were in favor of dialogue. There have been several rounds of vnutrisiriyskogo dialogue in Syria, Moscow, Geneva. In fact, the only way in which we have been successful – a “Moscow-2”.Not Geneva and “Moscow-1”. At the same time, this step has been incomplete. And this is natural, because the crisis is very ambitious. Unable to find a solution for a few hours or days. However, it is a step forward, and we are waiting for the “Moscow-3.” I believe that in parallel with the fight against terrorism must continue the dialogue between the Syrian political parties and formations, to arrive at a unanimous opinion on the future of our country. We must continue to move in this direction.

We must overcome the terrorism and not only LIH

As for the possibility of any progress in view of the spread of terrorism in Syria, Iraq and the region as a whole: as I said, we need to continue the dialogue in order to achieve consensus.However, if we want real progress is not possible until people die while continuing bloodshed and until people feel safe. For example, we were able to negotiate with the political parties and forces that influence the political and economic issues, science and health care, or any other industry.But how can we implement these agreements, if a priority issue for the Syrian citizen – safety?

Thus, we can reach a consensus, but we can not realize anything until you defeat terrorism in Syria. We must overcome the terrorism and not only LIH. I’m talking about terrorism, because there are many organizations, primarily LIH and “Dzhabhat An-Nusra” that the UN Security Council declared terrorist groups. This is the question of the political process. As for the separation of powers, we originally implemented it with part of the opposition, which has agreed to it. A few years ago they joined the government. Despite the fact that the separation of powers is governed by the constitution and the elections in the first place parliamentary, because of the crisis, we decided to share power now to take some step forward – not focusing on the effectiveness of such a decision.

Western countries lament the refugees with one eye and the other – look at gunpoint

With regard to the refugee problem, I want to say that the position of the West and the ongoing information campaign, especially in the last week, said that these people are fleeing from the Syrian government that the Western media refer to only as “mode”. However, Western countries lament the refugees with one eye and the other – look at gunpoint. The fact is that in fact these people have left Syria, mainly because of the terrorists and the fear of death, but also because of the consequences of terrorism. Under conditions of terror and destruction of infrastructure is not possible to satisfy the most basic needs. As a result, people are fleeing from terrorism and are looking for an opportunity to earn a living in any other part of the world. Therefore, the West bemoans the refugees, while keeping terrorists from the very beginning of the crisis.

Originally called the West Syrian events peaceful protests, then – the performances of the moderate opposition, but now says the emergence of terrorism in the face of LIH and “Dzhabhat An-Nusra”, and the fault of the Syrian regime and the Syrian President. While continuing this course of propaganda, they will have to accept more refugees. The question is not that Europe or not to accept the refugees, and that the need to address the root causes of this problem. If Europeans concerned about the fate of refugees, even if they stop supporting terrorists. It is our opinion on this issue. This is the core issue of refugees.

What should the internal Syrian opposition to support you? Do you think if it will hold a “Moscow-3” and “Geneva-3”? Will it be beneficial to Syria in this situation?

Assad: We are at war against terrorism, which has the support of external forces. This means that total war is conducted. I believe that any society, all patriots, all parties that are really popular in these situations together against a common enemy – regardless of whether it is internal or external enemy. If today we ask any Syrian what he wants now, the first response will be – security and stability for everyone. Thus, political forces both inside government and outside government, are required to consolidate around the demands of the Syrian people. This means that, firstly, we must unite against terrorism. So I say that the political forces, the government, or the illegal armed groups that fought against the government, must unite to fight terrorism. And it happened: some groups previously fought against the Syrian government, and now oppose terror on our side. In this direction have already been taken certain steps, but I would like to take advantage of our meeting today to appeal to all forces to unite in the fight against terrorism. Because it is – a way to achieve political goals set by the Syrians, through dialogue and political process.

“Geneva-3” is unlikely to be successful if success is not achieved within the framework of the “Moscow-3 ‘

Speaking of the “Moscow-3”, it is a preparatory ground for “the Geneva-3.” International co-sponsorship of the Geneva meetings were not impartial, while Russia on this issue impartial and guided by the principles of international law and UN Security Council resolutions. In addition, there are fundamental disagreements over points of the transitional government in the Geneva Declaration. From “Moscow-3” is required to overcome these differences between Syrian forces in order to reach the “Geneva-3” with a consolidated position. This will provide conditions for the success of the negotiations in Switzerland. We believe that the “Geneva-3” is unlikely to be successful if success is not achieved within the framework of the “Moscow-3.” Therefore, we support the holding of a meeting in Moscow after the successful completion of training in this forum, which is particularly dependent on the Russian side.

It is clear that after the decision of the Iranian nuclear issue, Tehran will play an increasingly active role in the affairs of the Middle East region. How do you assess the latest Iranian initiative regarding the settlement of the situation in Syria? And how much is important to you the support of Tehran? Does it, for example, military aid, and if so, what?

Assad: There is currently no formalized Iranian initiative. But there are preliminary ideas and principles for it, which are based mainly on the principle of the sovereignty of Syria and, of course, the decision of the Syrian people and the fight against terrorism. Naturally, the relationship between Syria and Iran have a long history of more than 35 years. We are bound by the allied relations and greater mutual trust. Therefore, we believe that Iran plays an important role. He is on the side of Syria and its people. This country supports the Syrian government in politics, in the economy and in the military sphere. Under military support did not mean that some Western media are trying to present as the sending to Syria of Iranian military units – this is not true.Tehran is supplying us with military equipment. Naturally, there is an exchange of military personnel between Syria and Iran, but the exchange was carried out always. Of course, this bilateral cooperation is activated under conditions of war. And yes, the help of Tehran – the main elements contributing to the stability of Syria, this barbaric war.

You recently talked about coordination with Cairo in the field of security and the fight against terrorism, that the two countries are on the same side of the barricades the fight against terrorism. What today is your relationship with Cairo, which, meanwhile, has been meeting some of Syrian opposition organization? You communicate with him directly or through Russian mediation, especially given the strategic nature of Russian-Egyptian relations?

Assad: Relations between Syria and Egypt have not been interrupted in the past years, even when the Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was belonging to a terrorist organization “Muslim Brotherhood.” Even during his reign various Egyptian authorities insisted on keeping the relationship even in a minimal volume. Firstly, this is due to the fact that the Egyptians are aware of what is happening in Syria. Secondly, the fact that the battle that we are now – it’s a battle against the common enemy. Of course, now it has become apparent to all, because terrorism has spread to Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Iraq and some other countries, including Islamic, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan. So today I can say that we have with Egypt have common vision problems.Currently, however, there exists only on the level of security. Political contacts are absent, for example, there is no communication between the foreign ministries of the two countries. At the same time, we consider that both Cairo and Damascus may be under pressure to prevent the emergence of strong ties between us. Of course, our contacts do not go through Moscow. But today we are pleased to witness the improvement of relations between Russia and Egypt. At the same time, Damascus and Moscow are bound by historical, strong and good relationship. Russia, I believe, will be pleased with any progressive development of the Syrian-Egyptian relations.

How do you feel about the idea of creating a zone free of terrorists LIH in the north, on the border with Turkey? In this context, how can you comment on the indirect interaction between the West and the terrorist organizations like “Al-Nusra Dzhabhat” and others? Who are you ready to fight together against the terrorists?

Assad: If we say, on the border with Turkey would not be terrorists, it means that in other areas they will stay. Such rhetoric is unacceptable to us. Terrorism must be eradicated everywhere. For more than three decades, we call for the creation of an international alliance to combat terrorism.With regard to cooperation with the West, “Al-Nusra Dzhabhat” it is – a reliable fact. We all know that “Al-Nusra Dzhabhat” LIH and arms, money and volunteers supplies Turkey, which has close relations with the West. Erdogan and Ahmet Davutoglu and a step without stepping without the consent of the United States and other Western countries. The growth of its power in the region as the “Al-Nusra Dzhabhat” and LIH obliged patronage of the West. He sees terrorism as a trump card, which can be periodically pull from his sleeve. Today, he wants to use “Dzhabhat An-Nusra” against the LIH, it may be due to the fact that the LIH in some way went out of their control.However, this does not mean that they want to destroy LIH. If you would like, then we could do it.For us, LIH, “Al-Nusra Dzhabhat” and other similar armed groups that kill civilians, are extremists.This raises a very important question – with whom to negotiate? From the very beginning we said that we are ready to conduct any dialogue if it could reduce the terrorist threat, and as a consequence, to enhance stability. Naturally, this applies to political forces. We also entered into negotiations with some armed groups and concludes with their agreement, according to which the problem areas in the world to come. Elsewhere, gunmen joined the ranks of the Syrian army.They fight on an equal basis with others and give their lives for their country. That is, we are in dialogue with all, except those whom I have mentioned – LIH, “Al-Nusra Dzhabhat” and the like.For one simple reason – these organizations are based on the ideology of terror. It’s not just the organization against the state, as some others. No, they feed on the ideas of terrorism. Therefore dialogue with them can not lead to any actual results. They need to fight, fight a war of annihilation. There is no dialogue with them can not be.

If we talk about regional partners with whom you are willing to cooperate in the fight against the terrorists?

Assad: Of course, we are cooperating with friendly countries, especially with Russia and Iran. Iraq, which is as much as we fight against terrorism. As for other countries, then we are open to cooperate with any of them if there is a serious desire to fight terrorism. But we do not see in the case of so-called anti-terrorism and “antiIGILovskoy” coalition, led by the United States. Although this coalition began its operation LIH continued expansion. They have nothing. The coalition does not affect the situation “on the ground”. At the same time, countries such as Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, as well as France, the United States and other Western nations, patronizing the terrorists can not do to fight terrorism. You can not be both terrorists and together with them. However, if these countries decide to change their policies, and they must take into account that terrorism – like a scorpion: if you put it in your pocket, it definitely will bite you – we will not oppose cooperation with them, provided that this is real and not illusory antiterrorist coalition.

In what state is now the Syrian army? The armed forces are fighting more than four years, they bled white by the war or became stronger in the fighting? Is there any provision, in order to increase the activity? You talked about the fact that your opponents and former opponents of the Syrian army moved to your side and fight in the ranks right now the government forces. A lot of them, and how they help in the fight against radical groups?

Assad: Any destructive war, any war weakens society and the army, no matter how rich and strong or a country. However, there is always a positive side. In particular, the war would unite society in the face of the enemy, and the army has become the most important symbol of any society at a time when the country is subjected to aggression. The Company cares about the army, supports her, including human resources. In addition, the war gives the armed forces of any experience in conducting military operations. In other words, there is always both positive and negative points. You can not put the question in this way – has weakened the army or become stronger. Asked whether there is a reserve, say, of course, if the army did not have a reserve, it would be impossible to survive for four and a half years in a very difficult war, especially when our current enemy has unlimited human resources. In Syria, are fighting terrorist operatives from more than eighty countries around the world, that is the enemy uses multi-million support in different countries. As for the army, our reserves – only Syria. But they are, and it allows us to continue to defend the country. Also we have the persistence – in fact reserves are not limited to human resources, it is also the will. Today our will to fight and defend their country against terrorists stronger than before. This situation has led to the fact that some militants, initially for various reasons, had fought against the state, they realized that they were wrong, and decided to join us. Now they are fighting together with the army, some joined the armed forces, while others were weapons and act together with the Syrian army in different parts of the country.

Now, it seems, the world sees a new model: the occupied territories creates LIH courts, the administration plans to issue its own currency. That is, there are formal signs of statehood, and perhaps it is also attracting more and more supporters from different countries. With whom are you still fighting: it is a huge group of terrorists, or it may be a new state, which intends, in general, radically redraw the borders of the region and the world at large? What LIH now?

Assad: Of course, the terrorist group LIH aimed to form the state to recruit as many volunteers who live in the illusions of the past. This – the dream of creating an Islamic state exists for the sake of religion. But this approach – idealist, which has nothing to do with reality. You can not just impose on society and the state from nothing. Society must establish this state. It should be a natural result of the development of society, be it a reflection, albeit sometimes not perfectly accurate. You can not take someone else’s country, and to impose its society. And then we wonder – whether “Islamic state” something in common with the Syrian people? Definitely not. We have terrorist groups, but they do not reflect the character of our society. In Russia, too, there are terrorists, but they have nothing to do with the diversity and openness of the Russian society.Therefore, even if the LIH and try to print money, stamps, issue passports, or to acquire any other attributes of the state, it does not mean that they have a state. Firstly, they have nothing in common with the people, and secondly, the people living in the occupied territories by terrorists or run into a real state – to their homeland, or fighting with militants. Only a small minority believe in their lies. Of course, LIH – not the state, and the terrorist group. They – the third wave created by Western political organizations for distribution poisonous ideology. They pursue political goals.With the first wave in the beginning of the last century came “Muslim Brotherhood”, the second – “Al-Qaeda”, which fought against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The third wave – a – LIH, “Al-Nusra Dzhabhat” and other similar organizations. It – Western extremist project.

Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis has been more discussions on the Kurdish issue. And before you and all the official Damascus strongly criticized for its policy towards the Kurdish minority. But now, at some point in the battle against the Kurdish formation LIH actually your allies in the war scenes. Did you see you have a clear understanding: one for you and who you are Kurds to the Kurds?

Assad: First, it is wrong to say that the state pursued a specific policy was against the Kurds, because the state can not allocate some of their subjects, otherwise it would be fraught with a split of the country. If we actually discriminated in society, most of it would not be today on the side of the state, and the country would be split from the outset. Kurds for us are part of the Syrian society, they are not strangers, they live on this earth, as well as Arabs, Circassians, Armenians and many other nations and religions, co-existing in Syria for centuries. Unknown, when some of these nations have appeared in the region. Without these components can not exist in Syria monolithic society. So, whether Kurds are our allies? No, they are patriots. In addition, it is impossible to generalize how and any other constituent elements of Syrian society, the Kurds are represented by different currents belong to different parties, tribes, and also differ in other characteristics. That is, when we talk about the Kurds as a single whole, it is biased.Some Kurdish parties put forward specific requirements, but they do not represent all Kurds.There are Kurds who fully adapt to society, and I want to emphasize that at this stage they are not simply allies as they try to present some in the army because many fallen heroes from among the Kurds. They harmoniously exist within Syrian society. On the other hand, we have the Kurdish parties, which were different requirements, and some of them we met in the beginning of the crisis. But there are other questions that are not related to the state, and it can not satisfy them.These issues are in the competence of the people and the constitution. They require people to agree with those requirements before we as a nation will take an appropriate decision. In any case, any question should be within national boundaries. So I say, we are now with the Kurds and, together with other elements of society together to fight the terrorists. This is what I have just said, we have to unite for the sake of confrontation LIH. After a LIH, “Al-Nusra Dzhabhat” and other terrorists will be finished, it will be possible to discuss the demands of the Kurds and some Kurdish parties in the national format. Therefore, no taboo issues do not exist, as long as they remain within a unified Syrian state, nation, borders, in the spirit of the fight against terrorism, freedom of ethnic, national, religious, and religious diversity of our country.

Some Kurdish forces in Syria require, for example, to change the constitution to introduce local government until the establishment of an autonomous Kurdish state in northern territories. And most often heard such statements at a time when the Kurds are fighting successfully to LIH.Can the Kurds count on this kind of appreciation?

Assad: When we defend our country, we do not expect gratitude, because it is – the debt. And when you perform your duty, you do not expect gratitude. However, a topic that you raised at the beginning, is directly related to the Syrian constitution. If you want, for example, to change the existing constitutional order in Russia and re-conduct the administrative-territorial division or give some subjects of the federation powers other than the powers of other entities is outside the competence of the President or the government, and the competence of the constitution. The President does not own constitution, as well as the government. The Constitution belongs to the people. Consequently, any amendment to the main document needs a national dialogue. Syrian state have no objection to any claims if they do not affect the unity of Syria, freedom of citizens and national diversity. If any of the parties, groups or sectors of society are the requirements, they should be in the national framework, in the format of dialogue with other Syrian forces. When the Syrian people have agreed to take similar steps associated with federalization, decentralization, introduction of autonomous control or complex change of the political regime, it requires a universal consensus with the subsequent amendments to the constitution and the referendum.Therefore, these groups have to convince the people of Syria in support of its proposals, since their initiatives – not dialogue with the government and with the people. For its part, the Syrian people will decide when to move in a certain direction, we will, of course, agree.

For more than a year, an international coalition of US-led air strikes on deals in Syria. At the same time they operate in the same areas where applied airstrikes on positions LIH air forces of the Syrian army. Despite this, there were no clashes between US-led coalition and the Syrian air force. Is there a direct or indirect coordination between your government and the coalition in the war against LIH?

Assad: You’d be surprised, but I will answer “no.” I understand that it does not sound very plausible – we fight, so to speak, the common enemy, to strike at the same targets in the same place without any coordination, and would not face each other. This may seem strange, but it is – the truth. Between the government and armed forces of Syria and the United States there is no coordination or contacts. They can not recognize and accept the fact that we – the only force that fights the LIH “on the ground”. From their point of view, collaborating with the Syrian army would be an admission of our effectiveness in confronting “Islamic state”. Unfortunately, this position reflects the short-sightedness and stubbornness of the US administration.

That is, there is not even an indirect coordination, for example through the Kurds? It is known that the United States interact with the Kurds and the Kurds, in turn, have links with the Syrian government.

Assad: There is no third party, including Iraqis. In the past, the Western coalition notifies us through the Iraqis before the attacks. But for a long time we have not contacted them, exchange of messages through the other side.

You have lived in the West for some time spinning in circles of Western leaders, who from the very beginning of the crisis strongly support the armed groups, to seek your overthrow. What are your feelings, if you have to work again with the same leaders and shake his hand again?Can you trust them again?

Assad: First, it is – not a personal relationship, and the interstate. When we talk about the relations between the two countries, we are talking about certain mechanisms, rather than trust. Trust – the category of personal, you cannot rely on political relationships between people. That is, I am responsible for the 23 million citizens of Syria and the other person, for example, is responsible for tens of millions of people in another country. You cannot put the fate of millions of people dependent on the confidence between the two people. There should be a mechanism. When it is, you can trust and talk. But, another trust, not personal. In addition, the main objective of any policy of the government, the prime minister or president work for the good of his people and country. If the meeting or shaking hands with someone else will benefit the people of Syria, I have to do it whether I like it or not. Thus, it is not about me, not about what I want, or I suppose. It’s about what kind of added value will the step that I was going to take. I am ready to do everything that will benefit the Syrian people.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the creation of a regional coalition to fight LIH. However, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said that for security coordination with the governments of Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia require a miracle. And how do you see this kind of coalition? Can it benefit? Are you ready to coordinate their actions with these countries?

Assad: With regard to the fight against terrorism is a global and ambitious theme, which are cultural, economic, military, and that is directly related to safety. Of course, in terms of preventive measures, all other aspects are more important than the military and security. But today, given the realities of the fight against terrorism, especially when we are confronting are not separate gangs, and the whole terrorist army, which in the presence of both light and heavy weapons and billions of dollars to recruit, you must first of all pay attention to is the military aspect and issues security. So for us it is clear that the coalition should act in different ways, but above all must fight against terrorists “in the field”. It is logical that such a coalition must be created by those countries that believe in the fight against terrorism. In the current situation it is possible, to the same people and supported terrorism, and fought with him. Namely, it is now engaged in Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. They pretend that they are a part of the anti-terrorist coalition operating in northern Syria, although they also support terrorism on the same north, the south, the north-west. In general, the same areas in which they are virtually fighting terrorism. I stress once again: if these countries decide to return to the correct position, changed his mind and will to fight terrorism for the sake of the common good, then we of course accept this, and we will cooperate with them and with other states. The problem is not categorical and not that we think in terms of the past, because political relations change frequently, can be bad, and change for the better, can become an ally of the enemy, and the enemy can become an ally, and that’s fine. Whoever he may be, we will cooperate with it against terrorism.

Now there is a huge flow of refugees – to a very large extent from Syria – to Europe. There is a perception that these people actually lost to Syria, because they are so offended by the fact that the Syrian government has failed to protect them, they were forced to leave their homes. What do you think about those who have left Syria, considering whether their future as part of the Syrian electorate? Will they return, according to your feelings? And if Europe is to blame for the mass exodus of refugees?

Assad: Anyone leaving Syria – is undoubtedly a loss for the country, no matter what his position or capacity. Well, except for terrorists. So for us, this migration – a big loss. In the past year in Syria held a presidential election. Outside the country, especially in Lebanon, there were a lot of refugees. If you believe the propaganda of the Western media, they all fled from the Syrian state, which they were persecuted and killed. It served as if they – the enemies of the state. What surprise Westerners, when most of them went to the polls to vote for president. The man who allegedly killed. It was a serious blow for the promoters. To organize voting abroad, need certain conditions. We need an embassy. Syrian state should control the process of voting. It depends on the relations with foreign countries. Many States severed diplomatic relations with Syria and closed at the Syrian Embassy. In these countries, the vote could not take place, and the citizens had to go to another country, where there was a polling station. This is what happened in the past year.

How can I grieve for the death of a child in the sea and did not notice the thousands of children, elderly, women and men who are victims of terrorists in Syria? These shameful double standards

In Europe, of course, she is guilty. Today, Europe is trying to present the case as if her fault is that it did not allocate funds or failed to ensure orderly migration to him, because of what the refugees drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean. We mourn for all the innocent victims, but not life drowned in a sea of something more valuable than the life of those who died in Syria? The more expensive it is the life of an innocent man, beheaded by terrorists? How can I grieve for the death of a child in the sea and did not notice the thousands of children, elderly, women and men who are victims of terrorists in Syria? These shameful double standards Europeans no longer acceptable and clear to all. Defies logic, how can one feel sorry for the victims and other interested. The principal difference between them. Europe is responsible because it has supported and continues to support and cover terrorism. She calls the terrorists “moderate” and divides them into groups, but they are all – the extremists.

Your opponents – those who fought against the government with weapons in their hands, and political opponents continue to insist that one of the main conditions for peace in the country is your withdrawal from political life and as president. What do you think of this not only as the head of state, but simply as a citizen of the country? And – theoretically – you are ready to go, if you feel that it is necessary?

As for the president, he comes to power with the consent of the people, through elections, and if you go – at the request of the people, not by the decision of the United States, the UN Security Council, the Geneva Conference and the Geneva Communique.

Assad: Since the beginning of the information campaign of the West has focused on the fact that the whole problem is really the president. They wanted to create the impression that the Syrian problem is reduced to one person. Consequently, the natural reaction of people to this propaganda was the assumption that if the question is one person he cannot be a more important country, and must go, and that’s when everything will be fine. That’s the way the West is easy. However, in reality what is happening in Syria, similar to what is happening in your area. Notice what happened in the Western media with the beginning of the coup in Ukraine: for them, President Putin has turned from a friend of the West the enemy dictator who suppresses the Russian opposition, who came to power undemocratically, despite the fact that he was elected democratically elections recognized in the West. This is the western media campaign. It is said that in the event of the departure of President things will get better, but what does it mean in reality? For the West, this means that as long as he is president, they will continue to support terrorism, as they follow the principle of the change of leadership, the so-called regime in Syria, Russia and other countries. Because the West does not accept partners and sovereign state. And what are their claims to Russia? Syria? To Iran? It is a sovereign state. They would like to remove one person and put another in his place, who will act in the interests of these countries, and not in the interests of their country. As for the president, he comes to power with the consent of the people, through elections, and if you go – at the request of the people, not by the decision of the United States, the UN Security Council, the Geneva Conference and the Geneva communique. If the people want him to stay – the president is, and otherwise it should leave immediately. Here is my principled position on this issue.

The fighting continued for more than four years. Was that a turning point when you realize that the war cannot be avoided? And who launched the mechanism of the war? This influence in Washington or neighbors in the Middle East region? Or is it, and your mistakes? Do those things that you regret, and if it were possible to go back, would you change them?

Assad: In any state error. This is, perhaps, every day. But these errors are not fatal, it is – a common occurrence. What is so happened that these errors have led to what happened in Syria? You may be surprised, if I tell you that a turning point in the events leading up to the Syrian crisis was the 2003 war in Iraq, when the United States invaded there. We were categorically against this aggression, as we understand that it is socially divisive. And we – Iraq’s neighbors. We understand that as a result of the Iraq war split along confessional lines. In the west, we border with another divided on sectarian lines by the state – Lebanon. We are well aware that we are all affected. Therefore, the origins of this crisis lie in the war that led to the division of Iraq on sectarian basis, which partially affected the situation in Syria and simplified the problem of incitement to inter-confessional conflict in Syria.

The second, equally important turning point was the support that the West is officially provided to terrorists in Afghanistan in the early 1980s, calling them “freedom fighters.” Later, in 2006, in Iraq under the auspices of the United States appeared LIH, and Washington did not struggled with this group. All these factors together have created conditions for the beginning of the unrest, with the support of the West, the financing of the Gulf states, particularly Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the logistic assistance of Turkey, especially given that Erdogan ideologically belongs to the organization “Muslim Brotherhood”, and, therefore, believes that the change in the situation in Syria, Egypt and Iraq would mean the creation of a new sultanate – no Ottoman and owned by “Muslim Brotherhood”, which will extend under the rule of Erdogan from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. All these factors have brought the situation to the current state. I emphasize again that there are mistakes and failures, but they did not justify. Otherwise, why there is no revolution in the Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia, which has no idea of democracy?

Mr. President, we thank you for what you gave us time and detailed answers to our questions. In September, you have a personal holiday – the 50th anniversary. The main wish in this situation – to Syria to land as soon as possible back peace and tranquility. Thank you.


Cheap oil could boost the growth

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Along with the weak Chinese demand, one of the causes of declining oil prices in the world energy market has been highlighted as the increasing production limit of Saudi Arab to “retain” its market share; however, some scholars have the opinion that this was to “expand the market share” in various regions. This decline was seen as an indicator of potential and current gloomy growth, but on the other hand “all recent occasions when the price of oil was halved – 1982-1983, 1985-1986, 1992-1993, 1997-1998, and 2001-2002 – faster global growth followed…and every global recession in the past 50 years has been preceded by a sharp increase in oil prices.” Even metal prices may well increase as the after effects of an oil-price collapse.

  • the world burns 34 billion barrels of oil every year, a $10 fall in the price of oil shifts $340 billion from oil producers to consumers. Thus, the $60 price decline since last August will redistribute more than $2 trillion annually to oil consumers, providing a bigger income boost than the combined US and Chinese fiscal stimulus in 2009.
  • According to the International Monetary Fund, the fall in oil prices this year should boost 2016 GDP by 0.5-1% globally, including growth of 0.3-0.4% in Europe, 1-1.2% in the US, and 1-2% in China.
  • Geopolitics-driven supply boosts are likely in the years ahead.
  • Given the enormous advances in oil-extraction technology since the 1970s and the immense size of Iran’s reserves (the fourth-largest in the world, after Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Venezuela), restoring output to the levels of 40 years ago seems a modest objective of Iran.

(Full story by By Anatole Kaletsky at:

‘Hard times’ ahead for producers: Daniel Yergin

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An interview by Brian O’Keefe

In a Q&A, the vice chairman of IHS explains why crude prices are plunging anew and predicts “there’s going to be a lot of turmoil and hurt.”

It’s getting ugly in the oil patch again.

On Monday, the price of benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude closed at $38 per barrel, the lowest level since the depths of the financial crisis in 2009. But that’s just the latest low in what has been a gut-wrenching ride for the oil industry over the past year.

As recently as June of 2014, WTI prices were above $100 per barrel. By January, they had tumbled by half thanks in large part to a supply surge driven by booming U.S. production of shale oil (which I wrote about in a Fortune magazine piece called Oil’s New Math). Producers got a reprieve when prices rallied to around $60 in early summer—only to see a new swoon in recent days.

The immediate reason for the current drop in oil prices is largely the same as the overall market sell-off—new fears about weakness in the Chinese economy. But the stocks of big oil companies have suffered much more than the broader market so far this year. Shares of majors such as Exxon XOM 0.52% , Chevron CVX 1.85% , and Shell RDSA 0.00% are all off by more than 25% year-to-date vs. an 8% decline for the S&P 500.

To get a better sense of where oil prices might go from here and what the consequences will be, I called up Daniel Yergin, author of a pair of essential books on the history of the energy industry, The Prize and The Quest and easily the most erudite expert on the oil and gas industry. As vice chairman of global information and analytics company IHS, Yergin has access to incredible stores of data about what’s happening in the field. His view? Hard times are coming. Edited excerpts:

We started 2015 with oil prices falling dramatically. They rallied in the early summer to above $60 per barrel. Are you surprised to see prices plunging again?

No, because [in the spring] we could see that the companies thought that they were in for a longer period of low. I don’t think anybody was thinking this low. We were hearing six weeks ago how $70 was the new $100 and $65 was the new $90. But the thing that we kept seeing was that the oversupply of oil was actually growing, not decreasing. Since the big price collapse started last fall, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and the U.S. have added about 2 million barrels per day of new production to the world market. And with demand growing at about 1.4 million barrels per day, it was clear that this renewed optimism about higher prices was misplaced.

What’s the catalyst for the price reversal happening now?

I think the new factor, although it’s been a factor all along, is the apparent greater weakness and economic uncertainty in China. What we’re seeing now is that what China giveth, China taketh away. And in this case China really gave us the supercycle of commodities. But the relative weakness of the Chinese economy and how it affects demand for commodities is the big new factor because it’s become so much more apparent.

So the China-driven demand story has really turned?

My colleagues in Beijing point out that as the Chinese economy shifts, and there’s less construction, less expansion of cities, less heavy industry, that leads to less demand for oil—because an awful lot of the oil consumption is the form of diesel is really trucks that were part of the giant build-out of China. And if that slows down it means a disproportionate decline in oil demand. Even though people are buying more cars in China than they are in the U.S., they’re not driving them anywhere near as much. People always say ‘China,’ but it was really the build-out of China that was driving global commodity markets.

There has been a confidence that the Chinese really controlled the levers of their economy and could act in ways that other countries could not, and keep this amazing growth story going. But now, obviously, the concern is whether that is in fact true. Or is China in for a weaker period? They’re committed to 7% growth for all of the economic, social, and political reasons, but maybe they don’t control all the tools.

U.S. oil production, including shale oil, has stayed pretty robust this year despite lower prices. Can that continue?

What we’ve seen is not just momentum, but also that the industry got a lot more efficient. We have this tool that we’ve created at IHS called the Performance Evaluator that allows us to look at every oil well, every oil field, every shale play, and what you see is a very wide disparity in the performance of these unconventional wells. In 2014, 30% of the wells were responsible for 80% of the growth. So costs have come down a lot—and the balance between company and service provider has certainly changed a lot in favor of the company—and companies just became a lot more efficient and cut out the peripheral activities. And that’s how they’ve been able to keep going.

So you’ve had companies saying that with oil at $65 they would be back in business with as many rigs as they would have at $100 per barrel. We expect that at the end of this year every dollar spent on unconventional oil will be 65% more efficient than in 2014. This is a very innovative, flexible industry. With that said, I think that with prices where they are, it’s basically panic level.

What will that panic mean for oil companies?

It means that in the autumn as banks are reviewing their loans, if oil continues as this level for another couple of months, we’re going to see a lot of distress in the oil patch.

Back in the winter, there were dire predictions of bankruptcies and acquisitions this year but that scenario hasn’t materialized as quickly as some thought.

Exactly. So I think the dire straits that were anticipated—it’s a delayed reaction and we’re going to see it now. The banks review loans twice a year. I think they could be more flexible in the spring. But at this level, there’s going to be a lot of turmoil and hurt.

Do you see signs that the major oil companies are dialing back their expectations even more than they were earlier this year?

Yes, I think companies are now expecting that prices are going to be in a lower range, longer. This is definitely not a V-shaped recovery. And it’s going to be more of a stretched-out U, with the right-hand side never quite getting back to the level of the left. Because certainly the [Persian] Gulf producers have made it clear that they don’t want to see $100-a-barrel oil again because of what it does to their competitive position.

It was the refusal of the Saudis to cut production last fall that caused prices to really tank. They wanted prices lower to slow down non-OPEC production, such as U.S. shale oil. With prices this low and perhaps staying low for longer, will the Saudis be forced to buckle and cut production?

We don’t think so. We think they’re going to stay resolute. I think this is a shock. But I think from their point of view this is probably a one- to two-year process. They have the wherewithal to withstand it. And were they to step forward and cut now, they would have to ask themselves what they accomplished. They’re whole thesis starting last year was that if they cut production they’d have to cut again and again. So I think they’re going to stay the course.

And then there’s the other key factor, which is the nuclear agreement with Iran. If it goes ahead, that means that some time early next year Iran starts putting maybe 400,000 to 600,000 barrels per day into the market. This is a battle for market share and market position. Given the geopolitics in the region now, the Gulf producers are not keen to make room for Iran. So they’re looking at not only who’s in the market now—and of course Iran is in the market but not with full volumes—but also next year with Iran coming back in. That’s adding to the more bearish outlook of the market.

It’s hard to see what would push prices much higher any time soon.

Yes, it’s kind of like everything has been turned upside down. In recent years we’ve had strong demand growth and tight supplies. Now we have tepid growth and oversupply. But this is part of a cycle. The impact of the cutbacks will not be seen quite as quickly as might have been anticipated last November when OPEC made its historic decision. But it will show up in supplies that are not developed a few years from now.

Can you attach a dollar figure to the projects that won’t get done now?

The industry response is canceling, delaying, and postponing projects that, if you add it all up, would be worth hundreds of billions of dollars. If you exclude the impact of lower service costs, IHS projects as much as a $600 billion reduction in upstream oil and gas spending between 2015 and 2019, compared to what was expected a year ago.

Play prognosticator for me: By the end of the year, are we more likely to have oil prices below $40 or above $50?

Well, who knows because events will intervene that will change things. But at this point for the fourth quarter we’re seeing Brent crude prices below $50. We think that the next few quarters are going to be tough, really into the spring when oil demand goes down and Iran is presumably coming into the market. You say, What could change things? Well, something from left field, some geopolitical event that affects supply. But if you look at it from the point of view of supply and demand, the downward pressure on prices is going to continue.

So oil’s new math is getting enough harder?

Yeah, the new math is going to be even tougher. There was a period of renewed optimism but I think the hard times are really now at hand.


Debate on American crude oil export ***by Matt Piotrowski

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Momentum for lifting the 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports continues to gain pace on Capitol Hill, with a House panel voting on Thursday in favor of allowing producers to ship volumes overseas. Despite the vote, the likelihood of a repeal under the current Congress still seems far-fetched. Kevin Book with Clearview Energy Partners, for instance, puts the odds at 15 percent because of significant hurdles in the Senate.

The House panel’s vote comes after the Senate energy committee passed legislation in July (see below) that would lift the ban on exports, which was put in place during the 1970s after the Arab Oil Embargo. But there is not sufficient support of 60 votes to pass a floor vote in the upper chamber.

  • “Now that the campaigns for the 2016 presidential election are moving at a quick pace and the possibility of a government shutdown is looming, partisanship will likely ratchet up a notch, meaning any chances for compromise are dimming.”

Backers of repeal have received support from the “Blue Dogs,” a coalition of conservative Democrats. But even with this group of Democrats supporting a Republican-backed initiative, the issue is still mostly split along party lines, with skeptics focusing on the potential impact on gasoline pump prices. Now that the campaigns for the2016 presidential election are moving at a quick pace and the possibility of a government shutdown is looming, partisanship will likely ratchet up a notch, meaning any chances for compromise are dimming. For legislation to pass both chambers of Congress (and for President Obama to sign), Republicans would likely have to foster a concession to Democrats and include repealing the crude export ban in a broader energy package.

Obstacles to legislation to overturning the ban “don’t just include partisanship, time constraints and the ‘Keystoning’ of the crude oil exports issue, but also the challenges Democrats may have in crafting an acceptable bargain with the GOP,” Book wrote in a report yesterday.

While legislation is being debated in both the House and the Senate, advocates for repeal are stepping their media and advertising drives up a notch. The American Petroleum Institute (API) is launching a multi-state campaign to argue the export ban helps oil-producing foes such as Russia and Iran. Groups favoring repeal are also putting forth the economic argument that allowing exports will help producers and lead to more jobs in oil-producing states. At the same time, they say more oil on the global market as a result of opening U.S. exports will bring down international crude prices, benefiting U.S. consumers with lower costs at the pump. Producers have been pushing for ending the ban amid U.S. crude trading significantly under international prices—but the gap has narrowed to just $3.

Those against repeal worry that allowing exports will pull up pump prices for motorists, reduce energy security, and lead to job losses in the downstream sector. Refiners have in particular pushed back against repeal, with Consumers & Refiners United for Domestic Energy (The CRUDE Coalition) being the loudest voice on their side.

The debate over lifting the ban on crude oil export is heating up again among U.S. policy makers and key industries involved in the fight, and the topic has found passionate voices on both sides. This week the Senate energy committee passed legislation that would lift the ban on exports, and it will move onto the Senate floor at some point. The action in the Senate is a reflection of how far the issue has progressed in just the past year or so—but given how controversial the measure is, it is very clear how far it has to go before a sweeping change is made.

Any serious discussion of sending crude oil overseas would have been unfathomable just five years ago, but the sharp increases in shale production has significantly changed the calculus and given the U.S. a massive surplus of crude oil.

  • “Any serious discussion of sending crude oil overseas would have been unfathomable just five years ago, but the sharp increases in shale production has significantly changed the calculus and given the U.S. a massive surplus of crude oil.”

Recent discussions are part of the broader debate on energy security as the country transitions from dealing with an energy deficit to becoming an energy superpower. Against this backdrop, does it appear likely that a president will at some point lift the ban on crude oil exports? If so, how would sending crude to foreign buyers affect the U.S. domestic market? How would the public see such a change?

Who is for lifting the ban, and why?

The main advocates for lifting the ban on crude oil exports are the oil industry and lawmakers from oil-producing states, with Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota) out front. The main argument for allowing exports is that the ban was put in place during the 1970s at a time of scarcity, but now the situation has reversed with the U.S. experiencing a glut of crude as a result of a revolution in drilling technology that has allowed output to soar. In fact, domestic production has almost doubled since 2008 and crude commercial inventories are hovering near all-time highs.

  • “Those in favor of lifting the ban are making both economic and national security arguments to make their case.”

Those in favor of lifting the ban are making both economic and national security arguments to make their case. The economic benefits, supporters argue, surround U.S. producers being able to capture higher crude prices—which are roughly a $5 premium to those in the U.S.—by selling to buyers on the international market. Producers receiving more for their crude would help stimulate output growth—crucial now with U.S. prices under $50 and supply is in danger of contracting—and support jobs in the oil patch. These positive effects would arguably ripple throughout the entire economy. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says in a study that U.S. Nymex West Texas Intermediate (WTI) would average almost $14 under Brent from 2015-2015, based on a scenario of continued export restrictions andhigh U.S. production. Numerous other studies from consultancies and think tanks have noted similar wide disparities if the ban is not lifted. “The original rationale for crude export restrictions no longer applies,” said Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.

The other economic argument is that sending more crude into the international market would alleviate global prices and therefore help U.S. consumers. Although U.S. crude is below other benchmarks, gasoline prices are still linked to the global market because of refined product imports from Europe, which are closely connected to European marker Brent. The Nymex RBOB gasoline futures price tends to move more in tandem with Brent than with the weaker-priced Nymex WTI.

Besides the economic argument, supporters of nixing the ban are also pushing a national security angle to assert the need to lift the ban. The perception that oil is a scarce resource, the mindset that began in the 1970s, called for keeping as much as possible at home and finding as many suppliers as possible outside the country. Now, however, lifting the ban can bolster the U.S. into a global energy superpower and help allies receive stable sources of supply while also undercut any rivals that are producers such as Iran and Russia, according to those who want to liberalize export policy. Senator Murkowski has said that the U.S. government is essentially “sanctioning” U.S. producers by not allowing them to access the global oil market.

Why in the world export crude if the U.S. is still importing large volumes?

The U.S. still imports 7.5 million bd of crude oil. That is down from more than 10 mbd, the peak reached from years 2004 through 2007, but still a very high number. So, it begs the question: Why is there a dispute over exporting crude oil when the country still buys a lot of it from elsewhere? Much of this centers around distortions in the markets for different crude grades. U.S. refineries, particularly those on the Gulf Coast, are geared toward taking in heavy crudes, such as those from Venezuela, Mexico, and Canada. But the quality of crudes being produced from shale fields is mostly light, which means that U.S. refiners do not have a huge appetite for the types of grades that U.S. producers are now pumping out. Against this backdrop, much of this excess light crude is “stranded” in storage tanks, putting extra downward pressure on U.S. prices.

Who wants to keep the ban in place?

The main advocates for keeping the status quo are U.S. refiners. They have reaped the benefits of the oil and gas shale boom. For the most part, U.S. refiners have a strong competitive advantage versus their counterparts in other regions. They can purchase their feedstock at sharp discounts to global prices, while their costs are low due to cheap natural gas. What’s more, while crude oil producers are constrained by an export ban, refiners are not. As a result, they have penetrated markets outside the U.S., sending a steady flow of refined products to Europe, Latin America, Canada, and Asia while at the same time feeding the high-demand U.S. market. They truly have the best of all worlds right now.

While there have not been many studies supporting keeping the ban in place, the voices that are against liberalizing crude export policy have become louder as of late. They have also pointed to both economic and energy security arguments to back their position. In a study published this week, which was commissioned by Monroe Energy and Consumers and Refiners United for Domestic Energy (The CRUDE Coalition), the authors said that both crude and refined product prices will rise if the export ban is lifted. The study says that exports would weaken refinery operations by lifting U.S. crude prices to parity with those on the international market. Allowing exports would also force the U.S. to import more crude and refined products and dampen refinery utilization, which would crimp supply of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel in the U.S.

While this study is obviously being taken with a grain of salt, its conclusions have some merit. U.S. crude prices would rise (that’s likely true, but on the flip side, international prices would theoretically come down) and downstream utilization may very well drop as U.S. refining economics would change if the ban were lifted. Lower refinery utilization could translate into less refined product supply in the U.S. market, a situation that would go against the wishes of U.S. consumers. The best argument this side has is the status quo: Why mess with the current situation that is bringing about low pump prices?

  • “The best argument for those wanting to keep the ban in place is the status quo: Why mess with the current situation that is bringing about low pump prices?”

The energy security argument is noted on this side of the debate, too. Although the U.S. is now seeing a sharp rise in domestic crude production and lower imports, there’s no guarantee this state of affairs will continue indefinitely. For the past 40 years, the U.S. has sought to improve its energy security by boosting access to affordable and stable sources of supply. Now that this goal is closer to realization, the question is why the U.S. would want to be seen as possibly compromising gains in energy security, particularly if circumstances may reverse course at some point.

Is the ban likely to be lifted?

Will a U.S. president ever sign legislation that says U.S. producers can freely export crude oil? It’s not likely, particularly in an election year. First of all, a bill may never make it to the president’s desk. Right now, even though the bill passed through the committee, less than a third of the Senate right now is in favor of scrapping the ban. In the House, the numbers are about the same.

  • “The question the public will ask during this debate is not why there is a wide differential between light and heavy crude grades, but why after the U.S. struggled for so long seeking security of supply, the country is now casually shipping volumes outside its borders?”

Politicians, even those who tout the benefits of the free market, will likely balk at supporting a bill that allows crude exports, given how sensitive the public is to changes in gasoline prices. High gasoline prices have been noted as a key factor in the past in hurting a president’s approval rating. If the ban were lifted and prices were to rise, no matter what the cause is, any lawmaker or president who supported getting rid of the ban would be vulnerable to attack ads and constituent outrage. There’s also the issue of U.S. foreign policy over the past 40 years so heavily revolving around oil supplies: The question the public will ask during this debate is not why there is a wide differential between light and heavy crude grades, but why after the U.S. struggled for so long seeking security of supply, the country is now casually shipping volumes outside its borders?

Published on by Matt Piotrowski

Market share of Saudi Arabia remained intact in Asia

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EIA in it recent post explains that in the first half of 2015, Saudi Arabia exported on average 4.4 million barrels per day (b/d) of crude oil to seven major trading partners in Asia, making up more than half of Saudi Arabia’s total crude oil exports over that period. Even as global crude oil prices fell in 2014 and 2015, Saudi Arabia increased production and kept its export levels high, enabling it to maintain its market share in these countries. However, long-term trends within Saudi Arabia’s energy sector may reduce its global crude oil market share.


In many past situations where global oil markets have experienced a supply glut and relatively low prices, Saudi Arabia has adjusted production levels in an attempt to raise prices. In 2014 and 2015, however, Saudi Arabia decided to focus more on maintaining its crude oil market share among its customers, particularly in Asia, where much of the recent growth in liquid fuels demand has occurred.

From January to June 2015, total crude oil imports reported for seven Asian countries averaged 19.1 million barrels per day (b/d), about 700,000 b/d higher than during the same period in 2014. The share of these crude oil imports from Saudi Arabia averaged 23.2% from January to June, compared to 23.9% in the same period in 2014. Saudi Arabian crude oil import shares were nearly unchanged in China, Japan, India, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand, while declining in Singapore. Read the rest of this entry »