Saudis offer Russia secret oil deal if it drops Syria (Telegraph, UK)
I snipped out a bunch. Read rest at link. Yes, I know it's the Telegraph.
Saudi Arabia has secretly offered Russia a sweeping deal to control the global oil market and safeguard Russias gas contracts, if the Kremlin backs away from the Assad regime in Syria.
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard12:00PM BST 27 Aug 2013
We understand Russias great interest in the oil and gas in the Mediterranean from Israel to Cyprus. And we understand the importance of the Russian gas pipeline to Europe. We are not interested in competing with that. We can cooperate in this area, he said, purporting to speak with the full backing of the US.
The talks appear to offer an alliance between the OPEC cartel and Russia, which together produce over 40m barrels a day of oil, 45pc of global output. Such a move would alter the strategic landscape.
As-Safir said Prince Bandar pledged to safeguard Russias naval base in Syria if the Assad regime is toppled, but he also hinted at Chechen terrorist attacks on Russias Winter Olympics in Sochi if there is no accord. I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us, he allegedly said.
Prince Bandar went on to say that Chechens operating in Syria were a pressure tool that could be switched on an off. These groups do not scare us. We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role in Syrias political future.
Saudi Arabia could help boost oil prices by restricting its own supply. This would be a shot in the arm for Russia, which is near recession and relies on an oil price near $100 to fund the budget.
But it would be a dangerous strategy for the Saudis if it pushed prices to levels that endangered the worlds fragile economic recovery. Crude oil stocks in the US have already fallen sharply this year. Goldman Sachs said the surplus cushion in global stocks built up since 2008 has been completely eliminated.
Mr Skrebowski said trouble is brewing in a string of key supply states. Libya is reverting to war lordism. Nigerian is drifting into a bandit state with steady loss of output. And Iraq is going back to the sort of Sunni-Shia civil war we saw in 2006-2007, he said.
The Putin-Bandar meeting was stormy, replete with warnings of a dramatic turn in Syria. Mr Putin was unmoved by the Saudi offer, though western pressure has escalated since then. Our stance on Assad will never change. We believe that the Syrian regime is the best speaker on behalf of the Syrian people, and not those liver eaters, he said, referring to footage showing a Jihadist rebel eating the heart and liver of a Syrian soldier.
Prince Bandar in turn warned that there can be no escape from the military option if Russia declines the olive branch. Events are unfolding exactly as he foretold.