Friday, June 23, 2017

Iranian Revolution and the Islamic Republic

Danilo Anton
The Iranian revolution, also known as the Islamic Revolution, was the revolution that transformed Iran from an absolute monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, into an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was due to go into exile in January 1979, after strikes and demonstrations paralyzed the country, and on 1 February 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Tehran and was received by millions.
The final collapse of the Pahlavi dynasty came shortly afterwards, on February 11, when Iran's army declared itself "neutral" after guerrillas and rebel troops overtook troops loyal to the Shah in the armed street fighting. Iran officially became an Islamic Republic on April 1, 1979, when the Iranians overwhelmingly approved a national referendum to do so.

The ideology of the 1979 Iranian revolution

The ideology of the revolutionary government is populist and nationalist Shi'ite Islam.
Its constitution is based on the concept of velayats-e faqih the idea advanced by Khomeini that Muslims require "guardianship", in the form of rules issued by recognized Islamic jurists. Khomeini served as supreme leader until his death in 1989.
The capitalist economy was replaced by Islamist and populist policies. Much of the industry was nationalized, laws and schools islamized, and Western influences restricted or prohibited.
Following the events of the revolution, marxist guerrillas and federalist parties rebelled in some regions (Kuzistán, Kurdistán and Gonbad-e Qabus), resulting in serious clashes between the rebels and the Islamist revolutionary forces. These revolts began in April 1979 and lasted between several months. The Kurdish uprising, led by the PDKI, was the most violent, lasting until 1983 and causing about 10,000 deaths.
From; "Lands of little rain and much blood", Danilo Anton, Piriguazú Ediciones.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Survival of an ancient culture: the selknam nation

The Selknam nation, also known as Ona, lived in the Strait of Magellan since ancient times. It had developed a way of life adapted to the harsh conditions of the cold waters of the south. They were hunters of guanacos, seals, seabirds and fishermen. When the states of Argentina and Chile expanded, the Selknam were displaced, assaulted, hunters were organized to eliminate them and seize their lands, and their culture was lost until almost disappeared. Within a few years, the once healthy Selknam communities were reduced to a few survivors. The states of Chile and Argentina have expanded their territories and the peoples of the south suffered this expansion. Anyway, not everything is lost, there are some survivors who try to recover some elements of culture, in particular the language. They deserve our support.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Destruction and death in the country of two rivers

Reflections on the war in Iraq and the emergence of the Islamic State (ISIS)

D, Anton

The situation in northern Iraq is extremely complex. 
The predominant population in the northeast of the country is of Kurdish origin. Iraqi Kurdistan consists of about 8 million inhabitants in 78,000 km2, with capital in the city of Erbil with 1.5 million inhabitants. 
Most of the population in this area is bilingual in Kurdish and Arabic languages. Also Aramaic (Assyrian neo-Aramaic), Turkic and Armenian are spoken by their respective communities.
Sunni-affiliated Islam is the main religion with little expression of Shiite Muslims (who are mostly in southern Iraq). There are other religious groups of varying importance. Assyrians of Aramaic speakers (about 80,000 people) are Christians, Yezidis, who are ethnically Kurdish but not Muslim (estimated at about 500,000) have their own religion that is related to ancient Persian Zoroastrianism.
To make the situation more complex, it is known that in Iraqi Kurdistan there are vast hydrocarbon deposits (at least 45 billion barrels) that make it the sixth oil reserve in the world. Several companies have signed agreements with the Kurdish government (usually with opposition from Baghdad) including Exxon, Total, Chevron, Talisman, GenEnergy, Hunt Oil, Gulf Keystone Petroleum and Marathon Oil. Effective extraction under Kurdish control began in 2007. Due to its economic power and geopolitical position, the Kurdish state (which is not internationally recognized) in fact is functioning as such.
The northwestern sector of Iraq (outside Kurdistan) is composed of mountainous and arid areas and is crossed by the Tigris River whose sediments generate the main agricultural lands. The population of this area is predominantly Sunni with small Shiite, Assyrian-Christian and Yazidis minorities. The main city of this area is Mosul with more than 1.5 million inhabitants.
The successive wars in Iraq, the US invasion, the overthrow and the death of Saddam Hussein, led to deep political instability triggering contradictions that were controlled during the dictatorship of Hussein.
The Kurds took advantage of the situation by creating a controlled area that has practically transformed itself into an independent state.
On the other hand, the continued military, political and cultural intervention of the Western powers in the Middle East led to an energetic reaction of the radical sectors of Islam, particularly the Iraqi and Syrian Sunnis, which led them to connect with the violent groups of Al Qaeda. From this alliance emerged an ultra-radical movement seeking to build an Islamic state (called the "caliphate") in northern Iraq and Syria. This group (ISIS) is extremely fundamentalist, trying to convert the non-Islamic groups by force and terror. The local communities (mainly Assyrian-Christian and Yasidis) who have managed to conserve their religions for many centuries do not wish to convert to Islam. 
The strategy of forcing the conversion led to measures of extreme cruelty with these populations. The details of these abuses are only partially known, and disturbing images have appeared in the media. It is clear that ISIS is systematically violating the human rights of Assyrian Christians, Yasidis and Kurdish communities in the territory they control. The only force capable of stopping this advance of ISIS seems to be the Kurdish army (peshmergas). With the support of the US and Western European countries the Kurds have recovered part of the areas previously under the power of the ISIS. The complexity of the situation makes it difficult to anticipate the political future 
However it seems that there are two ethnic-religious causes that deserve international support: the survival of the religious minorities, and the right of the Kurds to have their own state. For this to happen, the Kurdish communities have committed themselves fully to the autonomist struggle including the female peshmergas brigades. This fact, in violently patriarchal societies, shows a social, political and military aspect that calls attention and allows us to hope that in the future this discriminatory situation may begin to change. The Islamic State, on the other hand, represents the unbridled, discriminatory and fundamentalist reaction to the cultural and political changes that have taken place in the Iraqi.East Syria regions.
In fact, the extreme sectarianism of the Islamic State has managed to unite the political protagonists against it and it seems that it will not last long as a viable territorial force.  
However, after the disappearance of ISIS the conflicts for control of the area will continue. These territories are very important from a strategic point of view, particularly because they are the regiona thorugh which oleoducts and gasoducts are planned to transport the valuable Gulf hydrocarbons towards the Mediterranean coast and Europe.
From "Lands of Little Rain and Much Blood", Danilo Anton, Piriguazu Ediciones.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Structural location of some important oil fields

Danilo Anton

Many oil fields are found along certain geological structural lines or island arcs of great extent, often several hundreds or thousands of kilometers long.
An example can be seen in the island arc of Indonesia where there is several fracture lines that suggests a planetary opening for the rise of hydrocarbons.
Similar features can be observed in the oil and natural gas fields in the American ontinent. Many of them are aligned along and to the East of the mountain ranges according to the following sequence from South to North:
a) oil and gas fields of Patagonia, Neuquén, Mendoza, and Salta in Argentina
b) oil and gas fields in Tarija, Chuquisaca, Santa Cruz in Bolivia
c) hydrocarbon fields in the Andean foothills in Eastern Peru
d) oil fields in the Amazonian slopes of Ecuador
e) oil fields at the foot of the Andean mountain in eastern Colombia
f) oil fields at the foot of Andean Mountains and adjacent watersheds in Venezuela
g) oil fields in the eastern coast of Mexico (Veracruz)
h) oil fields in the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains (Texas, Oklahoma, etc).
i) oil fields on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada
j) oil fields on the shores of the Arctic, Alaska and Northwest Canada sea.
A similar sequence occurs at the foot of the mountains and plateaus of Anatolia (Turkey) and Iran (Zagros Mountains) where several major hydrocarbon fields in the world are in a structural line beginning in northern Iraq and extends along the Gulf Coast.
The location of numerous oil fields in the continental limits, which are generally areas of fracture, is also easily explained by the rise of oil in those weakened areas of the cortex.

The origin of coal: a different approach
While there have been discussions about the possible biotic or abiotic origin of oil from the nineteenth century and still continue, in recent decades there was virtual unanimity that the coal was of biological origin.
In many cases, the fossilized plants have been well preserved.
Occasionally it is possible to appreciate that even the smallest details of leaf morphology, stems and many other features that undoubtedly have a vegetable origin.
However, despite these apparent evidence, Thomas Gold (2001) argues, with good arguments, that coal is also of mineral origin.
According to the theory of Gold, carbonaceous ascending fluids, increasingly enriched in carbon impregnated the accumulated plant remains resulting in carbonization of the formations without destroying the plants morphology.
This would be similar to silicification processes, where various fossils (eg fossil wood) are traversed by siliceous fluids replacing atoms and molecules of the original timber producing  the petrification.
Silicified wood or xylopals are relatively common. According to Gold, the same phenomenon occurs with coal.
This author argues that many carbonaceous layers are up to 10 meters thick with a mineral content of only 4%. 
Most of the carbon material includes some hydrogen, oxygen and sulfur.
Imagining a marshy origin for these layers with 300 meter accumulations a mineral contents less than 1% would be required.
 Such wetlands do not exist currently, and “ even if they existed at some point, it is unlikely that plants could grow in such circumstances.“
The abiogenic theory can explain the formation of coal in a more logical way. It would be the result of the rise of carbon enriched fluids through the organic layers. Thomas Gold concludes that, in its opinion, the coal deposits would be still forming today.
Other arguments raised by the author are:
1) If the coal was produced by the transformation of organic matter, it could not retain the morphological details.
In many cases it is possible to see perfectly preserved pieces of wood, sometimes without charring, even without signs of starting a process of carbonization, surrounded by nearly pure carbon. 
Gold concludes that these remains were not impregnated by the upward carbonaceous fluid.
2) The coal deposits are often found above the oil fields, which in turn are superimposed on gas fields. This sequence would be related to the enrichment in carbon of rising hydrocarbons.
3) The continuous emission of methane observed in the coal mines, which is one of the main problems of their exploitation, causing fires, explosions and asphyxiation of workers.
From "Unexhaustible? Natural gas and petroleum", Danilo Anton, Piriguazu Ediciones.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Influence-rich Saudis blow through Sunni unity

Interesting article from Al-Monitor's Gulf Pulse, writte by Bruce Riedel

Less than a month after hosting US President Donald Trump and 50 Muslim leaders, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's alliance of Sunni states is in tatters, squandered on a vendetta. The Saudis' self-inflicted damage comes as tensions with its arch nemesis Iran are becoming more dangerous than ever. Support in the United States for the kingdom is polarizing.
King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud demonstrated the impressive convening power of the Saudi government last month by hosting the American leader and those of dozens of Muslim countries. With a few exceptions (Algeria, Oman), most Islamic heads of government came to Riyadh for the summit. The Saudis rightly announced that the summit was a strong display of unity against terrorism and Iran, one that probably no other country in the Islamic world could have arranged. Saudi wealth and the king's status as the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques account for the success.
The longstanding rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the world's only two Wahhabi states, is now shattering the unity built just last month. Qatar has long been an irritant and gadfly of the Saudi royal family and other leaders. While suppressing dissent at home, Qatar has encouraged it abroad. It shares an enormous natural gas deposit with Iran and together with Oman has been a voice in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for keeping ties open with Tehran. Saudi Arabia is apparently determined to put Qatar in its place.
Now the GCC is broken into three camps. There is the Saudi-Bahrain-UAE bloc, which has severed ties and closed borders to Doha. Then come outliers Kuwait and Oman, leaving Qatar alone. Although close to Riyadh, Kuwait is trying to mediate what has become the worst split in the history of the GCC.
Iran was quick to offer support for Qatar. Iranian officials are also blaming the Saudis for the Islamic State terrorist attack on Tehran. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has accused the Saudis of supporting Sunni dissidents in the Kurdish, Arab and Baluchi communities against the Iranian government. The Saudis broke off relations with Iran a year ago. Iran is stepping up its support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen, where the Saudis have been bogged down for more than two years. Iranian advisers are helping the Yemenis with their missile strikes. It's a cheap game for Tehran to exploit the Saudi vulnerabilities in Yemen, Iraq and elsewhere.
Turkey is taking the unprecedented step of deploying troops to the defense of Qatar. A century ago, the founder of the modern Saudi state, King Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, helped engineer the withdrawal of the Ottoman Empire from the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf, with British assistance. Now his son has precipitated the return of the Turkish army to both, and it's unlikely to leave.
Egypt is backing the Saudi boycott. The Saudis have rallied many poor African and Indian Ocean states to their side. The Maldives and Eritrea, for example, have little choice but to answer the Saudi call. But most Muslim countries are staying out of the squabble. The king visited Malaysia and Indonesia earlier this year, for example, and signed friendship agreements, but they have not broken their ties to Qatar.
Pakistan, which refused to join the Saudi war in Yemen two and a half years ago, is trying to calm tensions in the Gulf. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has good relations with the royal families of both Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Millions of Pakistanis work in the GCC states, with two million in Saudi Arabia alone. Sharif traveled to the kingdom to try to mediate a deal to end the siege of Doha, but there is no sign of a restoration of relations yet.
Saudi foreign policy has traditionally been cautious and risk averse. Salman's predecessors — his brothers Abdullah, Fahd, Khaled and Faisal — usually avoided confrontation and worked subtly behind the scenes. Money resolved most issues or at least helped smooth out rivalries. The Saudi military was rarely used in combat.
Salman and his son, Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Muhammad bin Salman, are much more belligerent and willing to take risks. The signature policy of their two and a half years in power is the war in Yemen, the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today, according to the United Nations. Operation Decisive Storm is a quagmire wrapped around a stalemate. Iran is the only winner. If Yemen is a harbinger for Qatar, expect a long, drawn-out and messy process.
Trump is profoundly unpopular with Muslims around the world. Even in the kingdom, only a handful of Saudi citizens when polled last fall wanted him to be elected. He is still trying to get his Muslim ban enacted in the United States. The Saudi royal family embraced Trump because he is not Barack Obama. He doesn't care about human rights or gender equality, he hates the free press and he loves strong men. His leadership means no more criticism of Saudi support for sectarian violence against Shiites.
Trump claims that he brokered $350 billion in arms and other deals with the Saudis at the summit, but The Washington Post and others have shown his claims are enormously exaggerated. The joint statement released at the summit makes no mention of any deals. A very modest half-billion-dollar arms deal for more munitions for the Royal Saudi Air Force to bombard Yemen barely survived a vote in the Senate this week. Of the senators who voted for the last Saudi arms deal in 2016, 20 switched sides this time to oppose the deal and the final decision was 53 to 47. The trend is against the Saudis as congressional opposition to the war in Yemen grows. Meanwhile, Qatar has signed a deal for 36 F-15 fighter jets and withdrawn from participating in the Yemeni war.
Tweets from the president are mostly pro-Saudi and have defined the Qatar quarrel as the epicenter of the war against terror. The administration's national security team is more focused on keeping the crucial American military base in Qatar and resetting GCC unity. Neither has spoken about Saudi Arabia's own interactions with extremists in the region or its extreme sectarian politics.
A nuanced approach to this very important American alliance is crucial. Saudi Arabia is America's oldest ally in the Middle East. The alliance dates to 1943, when then Prince Faysal visited the White House, and was sealed two years later when King Ibn Saud and Franklin Delano Roosevelt met on Valentine's Day 1945 on the USS Quincy. Together, they have confronted many challenges, from Soviet imperialism to Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda. It's a partnership that needs a sure touch, not a blind eye.
The Qatar affair combines American incompetence, Saudi bullying and Qatari game-playing with Iranian meddling and subversion. Too many outside players are getting involved muddying the waters. What began as farce may end as much worse.

Read more:

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Pergamon, the Asclepion and Opium

The Asclepion, hospital of Asclepius in Pergamon, was founded in the 4th century BC. by the poet Archias, in thanks to the care he had received in the Epidaurus Asclepion sanctuary in the Peloponeso peninsula. 
The hospital of Pergamon was one of the best known health centers in the ancient world and, for some authors, one of the first hospitals for the mentally ill in the world, although some of the therapies that were applied in this center were also practiced in Epidaurus. 
In this hospital was formed and worked Galeno -who was original of Pérgamo- and where he had the responsibility of attending the injured gladiators. 
The whole installations were reminiscent of a modern spa, with its fountains, gyms and baths, but also has an odeon theatre where concerts were held with the purpose of applying a kind of protomusicotherapy - following the Pythagorean current - for the betterment of the sick

The hospital was surrounded by woods and gardens where priests cultivated the sacred plants of Asclepius (medicinal plants), mainly poppy plants for the production of opium. 
It also had a tunnel through which naked patients ran in the manner of a psychotherapeutic treatment, where doctor/priests installed on little windows on top of the tunnel would motivate or encourage the patients while they ran. 
There was also a theater where performances were carried out for therapeutic purposes, and a library that at the time, was second only to the Alexandria library in Egypt.

About the city of Pergamon
The ancient city of Pergamon, now Bergama, was located in north-western Asia Minor, in present-day Turkey, 30 kilometers off the coast of the Aegean, in the Misia region. Archaeological remains show their occupation from 3000 a.n.e. During the Hellenistic period (from the death of Alexander the Great in 323 a.m. to 31 a.m., the time of Augustus in Rome), Pergamum was, along with Alexandria, one of the most important cultural, scientific and medical centers in the classical world.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Earthquakes and tsunamis


Just as the theory of planetary degassing promotes a thorough review of the dominant beliefs about the origin of hydrocarbons and coal, also introduces removers elements in planetary geophysics.
The orthodox theory attributes earthquakes, earthquakes or tremors to the movement of crustal plates that colliide o subduce between each other.
These movements of large solid masses with plastic or rigid behavior, depending on the temperature, pressure and other factors, produce stresses which over time  would lead to fractures.
Fractures generate vibrations that reach the surface where they are perceived as “earthquakes” or “tremors”.
Similarly, when these fractures occur under the sea, they lead to disturbances and mass movements of water that come ashore in waves of long wavelength causing flash floods in coastal areas.
These “waves”, which sometimes have great destructive effect, are called “tidal waves” or “tsumamis”.

T. Gold has a very different interpretation about the causes of earthquakes and tsunamis.
According to the theory of planetary degassing, fluids are regularly expelled from the upper levels of the crust1.
A portion of these fluids rise along with molten lava in volcanic processes. Moreover it reaches the surface in a more continuous way and surges as hydrothermal emanations or mud volcanoes..
According to Gold, these ascending fluids generate fractures which in turn produce a decrease in pressure and the materials become less resistants.
These fractures occur not simply due to the release of accumulated tension, but also and primarily as a result of gas pressure, which in turn plays the role of lubricant for the lateral or vertical motions of rock compartments.
There is numerous testimonial evidence of the relationship between some large earthquakes and the simultaneous emission of gases from the earth surface.
Some of the testimonials are very old, others more recent, but in general, they provide clear evidence of the association between earthquakes, tsunamis and movement of gases.
Aristotle noted that the theory of gas causing earthquakes came from Anaxógaras which held that  “the natural movement of air is upward, causing earthquakes when trapped in holes in the ground” 2
Many phenomena preceding or accompanying earthquakes can be explained in a simpler way with the theory of planetary degassing.
There are numerous descriptions of gas surges before earthquakes. temperature. This phenomenon is perfectly logical in winter if we imagine that before the event there was ascent of warmer gases in cooler air.. This gaseous presence on the surface causes a slight temperature rise, resulting from the higher temperature of subterranean gases in winter, that can be felt on the surface.
Gassing can also be perceived by animals. Whether for its thermal differences or sense of smell, many animals feel the existing disturbance and change their behaviors. Some mammals that live underground leave their nests before the occurrence of the seismic event.
The registration and verification of changes in temperature and gas emissions were taken into account in the city of Haicheng in China and allowed to prevent destruction and deaths in the quake of this city in February 1975.
Moreover, there are many descriptions of gaseous emissions sometimes accompanied by flares that occurred during the course of a seismic event.

From:  "Unexhaustible? Natural gas and petroleum", Danilo Anton, Piriguazú Ediciones