The Saker interviews Jorge Valero, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

Source

February 19, 2019

[This interview was made for the Unz Review]

I am continuing to try to understand what is really happening in Venezuela by talking to those who actually know that and, following my interview with Michael Hudson, it is today it is my immense privilege and honor to present you with a full interview I made with His Excellency Mr. Jorge Valero, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. Permanent Representative of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva.

I am immensely grateful to Ambassador Valero for taking the time to answer my questions in extenso just a few days away from what might well turn out to be a US false flag or even invasion of Venezuela (promised to all by Trump and Guaido for the 23rd of February).  May God grant him and the Venezuelan people the wisdom, courage and strength to defeat the Empire!

The Saker
——-

The Saker: My first question is about you personally.  There is a Wikipedia entry under your name (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jorge_Valero) but since Wikipedia is, at best, a hit-and-miss kind of source, what could you tell our readers about yourself which they ought to know before we turn to the issue of the current situation in Venezuela?

Ambassador Valero: I was born in Valera, State of Trujillo, Venezuela on November 8th, 1946. I graduated from the University of Los Andes (ULA, for its acronym in Spanish) as a historian. I did my graduate studies at the University College London, in Latin American Studies. I am an expert in diplomatic archives. I was an undergraduate professor and the University of Los Andes and a graduate professor at the Central University of Venezuela (UCV, for its acronym in Spanish). I was elected as a Congressman to the Legislative Assembly of the State of Trujillo, and later Congressman to the National Congress. I was Venezuela’s Ambassador to the Korean Republic. When, President Chávez, was elected in 1998; he appointed me as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. I presided the Presidential Commission appointed by President Chávez, which was in charge of organizing the II OPEC Summit, in Caracas on September 2000. I have been Ambassador – Permanent Representative of Venezuela to the OAS; the UN – New York and currently to the UNOG. I have written a literary work in various genres. More than 20 essays; poetry; diplomacy and social-political analysis. Dozens of national and international conferences.

The Saker: One of the major efforts of Hugo Chavez was to establish a number of multi-lateral frameworks and agreements like the ALBA, CELAC, UNASUR, and projects like the SUCRE, the Petrocaribe, TeleSUR or PetroSUR.  How effective have these frameworks and projects been in supporting the Venezuelan struggle against US imperialism?  Do you feel that these entities are playing a helpful role or not?

Ambassador Valero: Hugo Chávez was a paradigm of Latin American and Caribbean integration. In this regard, he was a key factor in the creation of ALBA, UNASUR, CELAC, PETROCARIBE, and TELESUR. Chávez reclaimed the integrationist ideology of our Liberator Simón Bolívar, who prosed the creation of “La Patria Grande,Nuestroamericana” (Great Our American Homeland), to defend the interests of our peoples and face any foreign threat raising the flags of unity, peace, sovereignty and self-determination of the peoples. PETROCARIBE is a solidary initiative in favor of developing countries, notably, the countries of our Caribbean surroundings that benefit from an oil bill with discounts and with long payment terms. Chávez has also been a paradigm in the promotion of a multi-polar world, where foreign affairs are founded by sovereign equality of States, overcoming the decaying North American Empire unilateralism. Thus, the Empire’s fury has been unleashed against the Bolivarian Revolution: coups d’état, oil sabotage, the promotion of violence and terrorism against the Venezuelan people. Henceforth, the continuous coup d’état promoted by the supremacist-racist-xenophobic and war-mongering government of Donald Trump that aims to impose a governing puppet and the threats of a military invasion in our homeland, which are part of the above-described context.

Hugo Chávez advocated for a new type and renewed multilateralism. Respect for the founding principles of international law and the Charter of the United Nations. Multilateralism is disrupted by Trump’s government, which has disregarded universal agreements on climate change; withdrawn from both UNESCO and the Human Rights Council; disregarded the agreement on the peaceful use of atomic energy with Iran, signed by USA, Germany, France, United Kingdom, China and the European Union; retraced the path to normalizing the bilateral relations with Cuba; unleashes a commercial war against China, and threatens the Russian Federation with an atomic war in his dispute to control outer space. Vis-à-vis those reckless and aggressive policies that threaten human existence it is necessary to raise the flags of multilateralism even higher.

The Saker: The Empire has created the so-called “Lima Group” which is just a typical trick to bypass the UN or legitimate regional organizations.  This is exactly what the USA did with the so-called “friends of Syria,” and the goal is the same: to overthrow a democratically elected legitimate government and replace it with a vassal puppet regime.  Yet countries like Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, and Peru all agreed to participate in this anti-Venezuelan farce.  How do you explain such a betrayal by so many of these Latin American countries?  Does their agreement to betray Venezuela and serve the Empire’s interest not show that these states have no real sovereignty or foreign policy and that they are all de-facto US colonies?

Ambassador Valero: Certainly, the self-proclaimed “Lima Group” is a cartel made up of satellite governments of the imperial government to break Latin American and Caribbean unity, and, due to the failure of using the Ministry of the Colonies, which is the OAS to isolate Venezuela in this organization. The empire and its minions couldn’t approve Article 20 of Inter-American Democratic Charter of the Permanent Council of the OAS and resort to the United Nations Security Council, where they also failed. The creation of puppet governments by the US is not new. It has happened in Iraq, Iran, Libya, and Syria. The puppets imposed in those countries where supported by armed terrorist groups, including, mercenary armies trained and financed from abroad.

Nevertheless, in Venezuela, the puppet has no support from the people nor the military, since in our country there is a consistent and patriotic civilian-military alliance, which guarantees and will guarantee -come what may- the defense of the sovereign and sacred jurisdiction of Simon Bolivar’s homeland. The US satellite governments against Venezuela are a minority even in Latin America and the Caribbean. Of the 193 countries that make up the United Nations only 34 support the puppet, which translates into 17.6%. For example, a single country in Africa and there are 54. One in Oceania and there are 15. One in the Middle East and there are 16. 15 countries in Europe, and there are 50. And 16 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and there are 35. You are right, the satellite countries that follow the Empire’s orders have no autonomous and sovereign foreign policy. Some of these governments, particularly, in Latin America are presided by people that have a criminal background: drug trafficking, corruption, genocide, paramilitarism, sexual offenses. Some are the result of a coup d’état.

The Saker: Another interesting initiative was the creation of Petro-cryptocurrency.  Now with the inflation making the Bolivar almost useless, how effective do you believe this alternative currency is to 1) bypass US sanctions, and sabotage and 2) serve as an alternative currency to help the Venezuelan economy recover from its current plight?

Ambassador Valero: The Petro-cryptocurrency was created to free us from the tyranny of the US dollar in the international financial market. Therefore, Trump’s government has established Draconian measures to block the flow of this cryptocurrency. Incidentally, the economic war and the unilateral coercive measures bring about galloping inflation, migration and relocation of people abroad. We are blocked from accessing the capital markets. They rob the Venezuelan State’s property in the US. They kidnap the Venezuelan State’s bank accounts in that country. The unilateral coercive measures and the sanctions cause, as expressed by the former UN Independent Expert, Alfred de Zayas, death and suffering. Measures against international law and the Charter of the United Nations and deny the Venezuelan people their human rights. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures, Idriss Jazairy acknowledged this.

The Saker: Russia and China have been working on an alternative to the SWIFT.  Is that something the Venezuelan government is also looking into?

Ambassador Valero: Experts from China and Russia provide expert advice to the Venezuelan State to successfully overcome the financial blockage and criminal sanctions of Trump’s government.

The Saker: What can you tell us about the current state of the Venezuelan petrochemicals industry?  Now that the US has stolen 7 BILLION dollars belonging to PDVSA, how can the PDVSA continue to operate after being robbed from such a huge sum of money?  At what levels is Venezuela currently producing and refining oil?

Ambassador Valero: The damage caused to the Venezuelan economy surpasses 35 billion dollars in the blockade of assets and accounts. They try to rob the Venezuelan peoples from the company CITGO that operates in Dallas, Texas that distributes gasoline and fuels to thousands of gas stations in the US East Coast. The Bolivarian government will undertake all the necessary legal actions to avoid that the Trump government steals the national patrimony. PDVSA, our national oil company, is completely deployed to guarantee the production, distribution, and commercialization of our crude oil. We have found new partners in the hydrocarbon’s market in the world, mainly, China, Russia, India, and Turkey.

The Saker: Since the US-backed coup attempt by Guaido, there has been remarkably little actual violence in the streets of Venezuela, and all the signs point to the fact that Guaido does not have the support of a majority of the people.  Yet he sure does have enough support within some sectors of the Venezuelan society (the kind of folks who go and protest against Nicolas Maduro while carrying US flags).  How did the government succeed in preventing that minority from doing in Venezuela what was done in Libya and Syria: instigate enough violence to justify a “humanitarian” foreign intervention?  In Kiev, there were snipers shooting at both the security forces and the protestors (which also happened in Caracas in 2002 I believe), and I was expecting that to happen in Caracas, but it did not (at least so far).  How do you explain this?

Ambassador Valero: Since the National Constituent Assembly was elected peace reigns in the republic.

The puppet that the US aims to impose has neither the people nor the military’s support to disrupt public peace. In general, in Venezuela, there is peace and tranquility. The Venezuelan people love peace. Peace is an essential part of State policies. Nevertheless, terrorist and violent groups financed from abroad, especially, the USA and Colombia act in popular districts in some cities in the country. The puppet and the puppeteer, Trump’s government try to disrupt public peace. They call to destroy the democratic rule of law and justice in Venezuela. They refuse to dialogue and promote intolerance and violence. The puppet asks the puppeteer to send US troops to invade our homeland. Infertile calls since our people remain presto to defend our participatory and protagonist democracy, as well as, the democratic institutions.

Trump’s government tries to reproduce the format that the Empire used in Syria and Libya: a parallel transition government. Prepares mercenaries in neighboring countries to foray in the national territory. They aimed to use the OAS and the Human Rights Council. Remember that Libya was expelled from the Human Rights Council through a Resolution, which was later confirmed by the UN General Assembly immediately after a Resolution was approved in the Security Council, which approved the creation of a no-fly zone. What followed is well known: cask missiles against Libya that caused thousands of deaths and destruction in civilian and military infrastructure. Trump’s government wants to implement the same strategy against Venezuela. He has called upon the Security Council to validate his objective for a military invasion in Venezuela. Fortunately, for both world and regional peace, the governments of Russia and China declared that they would use their right to veto in the UN Security Council to block such criminal objective.

Peace in our region is crucial. CELAC proclaimed Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace. A military invasion from Trump’s government in Venezuela will have continental and worldwide consequences. President Nicolás Maduro affirmed that a Yankee invasion would create a new Vietnam.

The Saker: Does Venezuela feel sufficiently supported at the UN in general and at the UNSC specifically by Russia and China or do you feel that Venezuela needs more help from these countries?

Ambassador Valero: Russia and China are Venezuela’s strategic allies. With these two military, commercial, and technologic powers we have cooperation agreements in many fields. Likewise, Venezuela has abundant solidary backing and support from most of the countries in the world.

On January 26, 2019, Trump’s government indented to condemn Venezuela in the Security Council. They ran off with their tails between their legs, since no resolution was approved against our country. Most of the permanent and non-permanent members of this Council rejected the interventionist objective, and, contrarily approved to promote dialogue among Venezuelans. We are in a condition to overcome motu proprio our challenges. The dialogue between the government and the opposition, without preconditions, is the path to follow. Henceforth, our government has enthusiastically supported the “Montevideo Mechanism” proposed by the governments of Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia and the member countries of CARICOM.

The Saker: It is pretty obvious that Mr. Guaido has committed a number of violations of the Venezuelan law ranging from calling for an illegal demonstration to being involved in an anti-constitutional coup attempt.  In a normal situation, that man ought to be legally charged and prosecuted for his crimes (including, in my opinion, subversion and treason).  Yet the USA threatened to go to war against Venezuela (aka “serious consequences“) if Guaido is arrested which, by itself, is a gross violation of international law and of the UN Charter.  What can, in your opinion, the Venezuelan government do to do what any other government would do and restore law in order without risking providing a pretext for a US invasion?

Ambassador Valero: The puppet has continuously violated the Bolivarian Constitution. Likewise, he disregarded the fundamental tenets of international law and the Charter of the United Nations. The Venezuelan State is made up of five powers. If something has characterized, the Bolivarian government is being a devoted defender of the independence of each of those powers. It will be the National Constituent Assembly and the Public Ministry who will make the necessary decisions. And you are right: these are crimes of subversion and treason. Breaking democratic legality and wrongfully usurping functions should not be tolerated.

The puppet’s permanent calls for violence and destabilization, his self-proclamation in a street in Caracas, and his call for a foreign military intervention place him against all nation and international law. Makes him a criminal that should be punished with the force of the Venezuelan laws.

The Saker: Speaking of a possible US invasion – do you believe that these are just the usual empty threat of Donald Trump or do you think that there is actually a real risk of overt US military aggression against your country?  How about the covert aggression already taking place?  What can you tell us about US/Colombian (some say Israeli?) covert operations against Venezuela?

Ambassador Valero: Donald Trump’s threats are not empty. The aggression is in full swing. Trump is the bombastic spokesman of war and foreign intervention. His threats are part of the Empire’s recolonizing goals. The government of Uncle Sam’s nation and its allies and lackeys impose neoliberal policies on the peoples of the world. Trump dusted off the Monroe Doctrine and the Roosevelt Corollary. Recruits and trains mercenaries in its military bases in Colombia. Prepares his arsenal to wage war against Venezuela. This is why we should turn a blind eye to provocations. The governments of the US and Colombia are experts creating false positives.

We insist: the threat of a military foray by the empire is a possibility that should not be ruled out. Both our people and our National Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB, for its acronym in Spanish) are prepared to react with heroism and determination in case of such an event. Patriotism has rekindled as never before in history. We are ready to guarantee our definite independence.

Venezuela became the subject of discussion in the whole world. Our natural wealth, our geographic location in the American hemisphere, our political tenet of building a model of society where social justice prevails, our relations of solidarity and cooperation with the other countries of the world, our firm decision of being a free and sovereign country, emancipated from all sorts of domination make us –as people say- the crown jewel.

The Saker: It is pretty clear that the Israelis have never forgiven Hugo Chavez for speaking up for Palestinian rights and for openly denouncing Israeli policies.  As far as you know, are the Israelis currently involved in anti-Venezuelan activities including economic sabotage, political subversion, covert operations, etc.?  How relevant is Israel in what is going on today?

Ambassador Valero: The Israeli government has nothing to forgive us for. Our condition of sovereign country grants us the right to decide how we relate to other countries in the world. Defending the Palestinian cause is in the center of our foreign policy. We denounce in multilateral for Israel’s genocide against the Palestinian people. Demanded the cessation of the cessation of the occupation of the Gaza Strip, to end the extermination policy of Israel against Palestine and the Occupied Arab Territories. We recognize Palestine as a free and sovereign country with which we hold strong bonds of cooperation. There lies Israel’s hatred against the Bolivarian Revolution. It is no news that this government is involved in the interventionist plans against our country. The Israeli government bets on the overthrowing of President Nicolás Maduro, by Donald Trump’s government. It has recognized his puppet.

The Saker: Finally, what is your guess as to what will happen in the short-term to mid-term future?  Do you believe that the Guiado coup has already failed or do you believe that this was only a temporary setback for the Empire and that now we will see more and further attempts at crushing the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela and the rest of Latin America?

Ambassador Valero: The civilian-military union is categorically defeating the coup d’état. Nevertheless, the empire will not stop in its destabilizing and coup-mongering pretentions against the Bolivarian Revolution. As it has been demonstrated our people are inspired by the legacy of our liberators and the supreme commander Hugo Chávez Frías. And at the avant-garde of the fight for our sovereignty and self-determination is President Nicolás Maduro. Chavismo is the new face of being Venezuelan.

The Venezuelan people will resist with heroism and patriotic spirit the constant siege of Trump’s government. The Bolivarian Revolution conceived a new nation project, which aims to obtain happiness, equality, equity, freedom, and brotherhood of all Venezuelans. These are inherent principles of our democracy and the Venezuelan way of socialism.

The Venezuelan people have resisted with dignity and stoicism the terrible conditions it has been subjected to due to the imperial pretensions of impeding the advance of our revolutionary process. No foreign power and its domestic pawns will be able to stop the triumphal march of the Bolivarian Revolution.

The Saker:Your Excellency, thank you for granting me this interview!

Pakistan to Release Indian Pilot on Friday as ‘Peace Gesture’

Pakistan to Release Indian Pilot on Friday as 'Peace Gesture'

TEHRAN (FNA)– Prime Minister Imran Khan stated that the Indian pilot who was captured by Pakistani forces will be released on Friday, after New Delhi called upon Islamabad to release and return the Indian pilot who was arrested by the Pakistan Army after his aircraft had been shot down.

“As a peace gesture we will be releasing him tomorrow,” Khan told parliament in Islamabad on Thursday, RIA Novosti reported.

Khan, making the announcement in an address to both houses of Parliament, added that he tried to reach Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday with a message that he wants to de-escalate tension.

Talking about the incident, he stated that he had feared that India could have launched a missile attack, but the situation was later calmed.

Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated as the two countries engaged in an air battle.

Pakistan claimed on Wednesday that it had downed two Indian warplanes which entered its airspace over the disputed Kashmir border, and captured an Indian pilot.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Indian Armed Forces officials confirmed having shot down a Pakistani Air Force F-16, saying the plane was downed by an Indian MiG 21 Bison on Wednesday in a skirmish.

Indian Air Force officials noted that they were pleased with Pakistan’s decision to return Indian fighter pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, and looked forward to his return to India.

The Indian Armed Forces also stressed that the Indian Navy was put in a high state of readiness amid tensions between the two countries, with its surface, submarine and air components ready to ‘deter and defeat’ any ‘misadventure’ by Pakistan.

It came a day after Indian jets crossed into Pakistan to bomb a Jaish-e-Mohammad terror camp in the Kashmir region.

India’s air raids in Pakistan came after a deadly terrorist attack when a car carrying over 100 pounds of explosives detonated next to a security convoy, killing 45 Indian paramilitary officers. India named Maulana Masood Azhar, the leader of the Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist group residing in Pakistan, as the person responsible for ordering the attack and accused Pakistan of harboring and protecting terrorists. In turn, Islamabad has rejected the allegations of its involvement in the attack.

Also See

Arab Analyst: Assad’s Visit to Tehran Hits Severe Blow to US-Israeli-Arab Alliance زيارة الأسد إلى إيران… تتويج لانتصار حلف المقاومة وسقوط أهداف الحرب الإرهابية

Arab Analyst: Assad's Visit to Tehran Hits Severe Blow to US-Israeli-Arab Alliance

Arab Analyst: Assad’s Visit to Tehran Hits Severe Blow to US-Israeli-Arab Alliance

TEHRAN (FNA)- A prominent Arab analyst described the Monday visit by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to Tehran as a new stage in relations between Iran and Syria, saying that it showed failure of the US-Israeli-Arab coalition.

“The trip by Bashar Assad to Tehran hit a painful blow and heavy defeat at the alliance among the US, the Zionists and the reactionary Arab countries because their most important goal that has been launching a terrorist and global war against Syria was breaking the alliance between Syria and Iraq,” Hassan Hardan was quoted as saying by the Arabic-language al-Nashrah news website on Wednesday.

He referred to the US proposal, mediated by Saudi Arabia, to Assad to desist from his relations with Iran, and said the Syrian president’s visit was the peak of victories of the resistance front against the terrorists and their supporters.

“The trip emphasizes that the resistance front’s strategy to confront the plots hatched by the US, the Zionists and the reactionary Arab regime has been successful,” Hardan said.

President Assad arrived in Tehran on Monday and rushed to meet Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei.

During the meeting, Ayatollah Khamenei praised the Syrian nation’s resistance in face of enemies’ plots, and said the key to Syria’s victory as well as the United States and its regional mercenaries’ defeat is Syrian president and people’s resolve and resistance.

Stressing the necessity for prudence when encountering future plots, the leader said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran regards helping the Syrian government and nation as assisting the Resistance movement, and genuinely takes pride in it.”

Pointing to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s honest stance and staying by the government and the people of Syria from the beginning of the crisis, Ayatollah Khamenei added, “Syria, with its people’s persistence and unity, managed to stand strong against a big coalition of the US, Europe and their allies in the region and victoriously come out of it.”

Considering the victory of the resistance in Syria as the cause for the United States of America’s anger their desperate efforts to hatch new plots, the Supreme Leader made reference to an example and said, “The question of a buffer zone in Syria that the Americans are trying to create is one of their dangerous plots that must be firmly rejected and opposed.”

He counted the US’s plan for having an influential presence Iraq-Syria border as another example of their plots, and said, “Iran and Syria are strategic allies and the identity and power of Resistance depend on their continuous and strategic alliance, because of which, the enemies will not be able to put their plans into action.”

Ayatollah Khamenei referred to a calculation mistake that the enemies made with regard to the matter of Syria, and stated, “Their mistake was that they took Syria for some Arab states; whereas, (even) in those countries, the people’s movement was in favor of the Resistance and in fact, there was an uprising against the US and their mercenaries there.”

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution also highlighted the need for strengthening and developing the religious relations and exchange of religious scholars between Iran and Syria. Emphasizing the importance of maintaining the spirit of resistance and enhancing the power of Syria’s nation and government, Ayatollah Khamenei addressed Syria’s president, by saying “with the resistance you manifested, you have become a hero in the Arab world; and the resistance has gained more power and dignity, thanks to you.”

Syria’s president referred to some analysis that regarded Syria as done, and said, “Iran and Syria have nations who enjoy identity and faith; and today’s achievements although gained by efforts and losses, are surely the outcomes of persistence with the movement of Resistance.

Bashar Al-Assad reminded the huge losses that some countries underwent following their surrendering to the US and stated, “Many countries were submissive to the US and thought that the US determines the world’s fate and future; however resistance by some nations disturbed this false perception.”

Referring to cases of efforts made by US and allies in the region, trying to sow discord among ethnic and religious groups in Syria, the President of Syria went on to say, “These efforts have had reverse results, and today in Syria, the Kurds and nomads have good relations with the government and even some groups that previously had some conflicts and differences with the government, are today cooperating with it, despite what the US and Saudi Arabia desired.”

Assad called strengthening the ties between Syrian and Iranian scholars as an important opportunity for countering Takfiri groups, and maintained, “Iran and Syria should continuously develop their economic relations; because developments of relations will act as an important factor in annulling the enemies’ plots against the two nations.”

Also in his meeting with Assad, President Rouhani referred to Iran’s seriousness for cooperation and helping the Syrian government in the process of reconstruction of Syria and consolidating security and peace in the country, adding, “The Islamic Republic of Iran will stand by the Syrian government and people like before.”

A senior Iranian legislator said that Assad visited Tehran on Monday to ask the country for continued support for Syria and the resistance front.

“Bashar Assad’s visit to Iran was mainly aimed at appreciating the Islamic Republic of Iran and our nation for its efforts and supports and he demanded Iran to remain beside Syria and strengthen the resistance front as this companionship leaves important effects on the regional and international scene,” member of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Seyed Reza Naqavi Hosseini said on Tuesday.

He noted that Iran’s assistance led to the victories in Syria and foiled the US plots.

“Syria had for years been entangled in terrorism and aggressions of countries like the US, Britain, France and the Zionist regime and they clearly interfered in Syria’s affairs and endangered Syria’s territorial integrity and the legal government’s independence,” Naqavi Hosseini said.

زيارة الأسد إلى إيران… تتويج لانتصار حلف المقاومة وسقوط أهداف الحرب الإرهابية

 زيارة الأسد إلى إيران... تتويج لانتصار حلف المقاومة وسقوط أهداف الحرب الإرهابية

فبراير 27, 2019

حسن حردان

شكلت زيارة الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد إلى طهران في توقيتها ودلالاتها محطة هامة على صعيد العلاقات التحالفية بين سورية وإيران، وعلى صعيد التطورات الحاصلة في المنطقة والعالم..

أولاً: وجهت الزيارة ضربة موجعة للحلف الأميركي الصهيوني الرجعي العربي، وسقوطاً مدوياً لأحد أهمّ أهدافه التي أرادها من حربه الإرهابية الكونية على سورية وهي فكّ عرى التحالف السوري الإيراني.. فمن المعروف أنّ الولايات المتحدة حاولت عبر المملكة السعودية إقناع الرئيس الأسد بالتخلي عن علاقته مع إيران مقابل إغراءات مالية والقبول ببقائه في الحكم وبالتالي وقف الاحتجاجات المدبّرة ضدّه.. ولأنه رفض هذا العرض الأميركي بوساطة السعودية، عمدت واشنطن وبالتعاون مع مسؤول الاستخبارات السعودية في ذلك الوقت بندر بن سلطان إلى تنفيذ خطتهم لإثارة الاضطرابات في سورية لإسقاط الرئيس الأسد، ومن ثم حشد وتجنيد الإرهابيين من كلّ أنحاء العالم وتمويلهم وتسليحهم بأحدث الأسلحة وإدخالهم إلى سورية عبر تركيا والأردن ولبنان لتدمير الدولة الوطنية وتفتيت سورية…

ثانياً: انّ هذه الزيارة إلى إيران هي الأولى للرئيس الأسد، منذ بدء الحرب على سورية، فهي تأتي تتويجاً لانتصار محور المقاومة على حلف العدوان الإرهابي الذي مُني بهزيمة نكراء في سعيه لإسقاط سورية وتحويلها إلى دولة تابعة وعميلة لواشنطن، وبالتالي محاصرة وعزل الجمهورية الإسلامية الإيرانية والعمل على تقويض استقرارها وإخضاعها للإملاءات الأميركية الصهيونية.. لهذا يمكن القول بأنّ الزيارة كانت بمثابة التعبير الواضح والساطع عن نجاح الحلف السوري الإيراني، القائم منذ انتصار الثورة الإسلامية الإيرانية، قبل أربعين عاماً، في تحقيق النصر على أعداء البلدين، وتعزيز وتمتين أواصر حلفهما الاستراتيجي ليصبح حلفاً مصيرياً، معمّداً بدماء السوريين والإيرانيين في ميدان القتال ضدّ قوى الإرهاب التكفيري والعدو الصهيوني..

لقد بات من الطبيعي أن يُقال إنّ سورية شكلت عمقاً استراتيجياً لإيران، كما أنّ إيران شكلت عمقاً استراتيجياً لسورية.. وبات البلدان يشكلان عمقاً استراتيجياً للمقاومة الفلسطينية واللبنانية وركيزتين لمشروع المقاومة لتحرير فلسطين والمنطقة من الهيمنة الاستعمارية الأميركية التي تقف وراء الحروب المباشرة وغير المباشرة والفوضى الهدامة التي تستهدف الدول العربية وإيران وتصفية القضية الفلسطينية…

ثالثاً: عكست الزيارة عمق العلاقات بين الدولتين، ومستوى التقدير العالي لمواقف الرئيس الأسد وصلابته في مواجهة أشرس حرب إرهابية كونية تتعرّض لها دولة في العالم، حيث عبّر مرشد الثورة الإمام الخامنئي عن هذا التقدير للرئيس الأسد بالقول: لقد أثبتم بصمودكم أنكم قد تحوّلتم إلى بطل على صعيد العالم العربي، وقد اكتسبت المقاومة بواسطتكم المزيد من القوة وعززتم سمعتها .. طبعاً هذه شهادة كبيرة من قائد الجمهورية الإسلامية الإيرانية ومرشدها الذي كان، إلى جانب الإمام روح الله الموسوي الخميني، من قادة الثورة الإيرانية التحررية التي أسقطت نظام الشاه العميل لأميركا وكيان العدو الصهيوني..

رابعاً: أنّ زيارة الرئيس الأسد كان لها كلّ هذه الأهمية والأبعاد والدلالات، عبّرت عواصم الحلف المعادي عن انزعاجها وخيبتها من حصولها.. لا سيما أنها جاءت بعد وقت قصير على مؤتمرها المشبوه الأهداف في وارسو الذي سعى دون جدوى إلى تشكيل جبهة عربية إسرائيلية أوروبية ضدّ إيران.. حيث اقتصرت هذه الجبهة على بعض الأنظمة العربية المطبّعة مع العدو الصهيوني، وهي أنظمة تابعة لواشنطن لا تملك حرية قرارها أصلاً.. وما حصل لا يعدو كونه تظهيراً لحلف قائم أصلاً بين كيان العدو الصهيوني والولايات المتحدة وهذه الأنظمة الرجعية العربية، منذ انتصار الثورة الإسلامية، حيث كان هذا الحلف المشؤوم وراء دفع ودعم الرئيس العراقي صدام حسين لشنّ الحرب على الثورة الإيرانية لإخمادها وإطفاء جذوتها التحررية…

انّ زيارة الرئيس الأسد إذ تعكس كلّ هذه الدلالات، تؤكد أنّ استراتيجية المقاومة للمشروع الأميركي الصهيوني الرجعي نجحت في تحقيق الانتصارات.. وها هي الآن تخطط لتثمير هذه الانتصارات على كلّ المستويات، وفي نفس الوقت مواجهة الحرب الأميركية الصهيونية المستمرة بأشكالها المتعدّدة، لكن من نقطة جديدة أصبح فيها محور المقاومة أكثر قوة واتساعاً، وفي ظلّ معادلات إقليمية ودولية لمصلحته نتجت من انتصاراته الاستراتيجية في سورية، فيما الحلف المعادي يعاني من مآزق وتداعيات هزيمته وعجزه عن استعادة زمام المبادرة في الميدان…

ونجد الإمبراطورية الأميركية المتصدّعة في حالة من التأزّم والتخبّط بفعل انهيار هيمنتها الأحادية على القرار الدولي، ونشوء موازين قوى عالمية وإقليمية على أنقاضها.. وفي هذا السياق تتجلى الشراكة الإيرانية السورية في مواجهة الحصار الاقتصادي، الذي تفرضه الولايات المتحدة على البلدين، في محاولة يائسة للحدّ من تداعيات انتصار محور المقاومة… تتجلى هذه الشراكة في التعاون المشترك لاعادة إعمار سورية وعدم السماح للدول التي تآمرت على سورية وشاركت في تدميرها بأن تشارك في الإعمار وبالتالي منعها من تحقيق أيّ من أهدافها لابتزاز سورية بالإعمار…

انّ القيادة في سورية وإيران تدرك جيداً أنّ الحفاظ على الانتصار العسكري يتطلب النجاح في معركة الإعمار وإحباط أهداف الحصار الغربي الاقتصادية والسياسية في آن.. ولا شك في أنّ زيارة الرئيس الاسد قد بحثت في كلّ ذلك، وأيضاً في سبل مواجهة الحصار وخطط الغرب لمنع سورية وإيران من تثمير الانتصار سياسياً وعسكرياً، وهي خطط تتطلب بكلّ تأكيد الانتقال من الدفاع إلى الهجوم لجعل الحلف المعادي يدفع الثمن أيضاً إذا لم يتوقف عن هذه السياسات ويسلّم بالهزيمة والمعادلات العسكرية والسياسية المتولدة منها.

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Arab Paper: Assad’s Visit to Iran Aimed at Making Strategic Decisions

Arab Paper: Assad's Visit to Iran Aimed at Making Strategic Decisions

TEHRAN (FNA)- A leading Arab newspaper stressed that the Monday visit by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to Tehran indicated that Tehran and Damascus are preparing to take highly important decisions given the recent regional developments.
نتنياهو في موسكو: انتقاء الكلمات

“The balances and equations in the region, specially in Syria, are in a sensitive stage and they need decisions at a level that necessitated the meeting between Assad and Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei,” Nasser Qandil, a prominent Arab analyst, wrote in the Arabic-language Lebanese newspaper al-Binaa on Tuesday.

He added that the trip was also made as time is ticking for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to find a way out of the dire situation in Idlib to prevent the Syrian army’s military operations against the terrorists in the province.

The analyst wrote that Assad’s meetings with the highest-ranking Iranian officials also came at a time when the US has adopted a tricky approach towards withdrawal of its forces in Syria after targeting the country’s territorial integrity and unity.

Bashar Assad’s visit also outpaced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to Moscow and sends this message that Israel should pay the price for any possible future attacks against Syria, he added.

President Assad arrived in Tehran on Monday and rushed to meet Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei.

During the meeting, Ayatollah Khamenei praised the Syrian nation’s resistance in face of enemies’ plots, and said the key to Syria’s victory as well as the United States and its regional mercenaries’ defeat is Syrian president and people’s resolve and resistance.

Stressing the necessity for prudence when encountering future plots, the leader said,

“The Islamic Republic of Iran regards helping the Syrian government and nation as assisting the Resistance movement, and genuinely takes pride in it.”

Pointing to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s honest stance and staying by the government and the people of Syria from the beginning of the crisis, Ayatollah Khamenei added,

“Syria, with its people’s persistence and unity, managed to stand strong against a big coalition of the US, Europe and their allies in the region and victoriously come out of it.”

Considering the victory of the resistance in Syria as the cause for the United States of America’s anger their desperate efforts to hatch new plots, the Supreme Leader made reference to an example and said,

“The question of a buffer zone in Syria that the Americans are trying to create is one of their dangerous plots that must be firmly rejected and opposed.”

He counted the US’s plan for having an influential presence Iraq-Syria border as another example of their plots, and said,

“Iran and Syria are strategic allies and the identity and power of Resistance depend on their continuous and strategic alliance, because of which, the enemies will not be able to put their plans into action.”

Ayatollah Khamenei referred to a calculation mistake that the enemies made with regard to the matter of Syria, and stated,

“Their mistake was that they took Syria for some Arab states; whereas, (even) in those countries, the people’s movement was in favor of the Resistance and in fact, there was an uprising against the US and their mercenaries there.”

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution also highlighted the need for strengthening and developing the religious relations and exchange of religious scholars between Iran and Syria. Emphasizing the importance of maintaining the spirit of resistance and enhancing the power of Syria’s nation and government, Ayatollah Khamenei addressed Syria’s president, by saying “with the resistance you manifested, you have become a hero in the Arab world; and the resistance has gained more power and dignity, thanks to you.”

Syria’s president referred to some analysis that regarded Syria as done, and said, “Iran and Syria have nations who enjoy identity and faith; and today’s achievements although gained by efforts and losses, are surely the outcomes of persistence with the movement of Resistance.

Bashar Al-Assad reminded the huge losses that some countries underwent following their surrendering to the US and stated,

“Many countries were submissive to the US and thought that the US determines the world’s fate and future; however resistance by some nations disturbed this false perception.”

Referring to cases of efforts made by US and allies in the region, trying to sow discord among ethnic and religious groups in Syria, the President of Syria went on to say,

“These efforts have had reverse results, and today in Syria, the Kurds and nomads have good relations with the government and even some groups that previously had some conflicts and differences with the government, are today cooperating with it, despite what the US and Saudi Arabia desired.”

Assad called strengthening the ties between Syrian and Iranian scholars as an important opportunity for countering Takfiri groups, and maintained, “Iran and Syria should continuously develop their economic relations; because developments of relations will act as an important factor in annulling the enemies’ plots against the two nations.”

Also in his meeting with Assad, President Rouhani referred to Iran’s seriousness for cooperation and helping the Syrian government in the process of reconstruction of Syria and consolidating security and peace in the country, adding, “The Islamic Republic of Iran will stand by the Syrian government and people like before.”

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Lies America’s News-Media Tell

Lies America’s News-Media Tell

ERIC ZUESSE | 27.02.2019 | WORLD / AMERICAS

Lies America’s News-Media Tell

Here are America’s recent targets for regime-change (against which have been used economic sanctions, invasion, and enormous destruction) — and all of them are nations that never invaded nor threatened to invade America:

Iraq 2003, Libya 2011, Syria 2011-2018, Yemen 2015-now, Ukraine 2014, and Venezuela 2017-now.

Because all of these were and are aggressive wars by the US against nations that never invaded nor threatened to invade the US, they all ought to be subject to mega-criminal prosecutions as was done by the US, Britain, and USSR, against Germany at the Nuremberg Tribunals after World War II. That was merely victors’ ‘justice’, applied by the US, Britain and USSR, but this would instead be actual international justice, the first instance of such in all of world history. It’s desperately needed — especially now.

America’s Government and news-media were and are remarkably unanimous in saying that these invasions and coups are and were done in order to advance democracy and human rights in the given target-nation. However, what it actually brings and has brought, in each and every case, is, instead, massive bloodshed, death, poverty, destruction, and outpourings of refugees — and an increasingly dangerous world, the current world.

Is this lying, by the US and its allies, and their ‘news’-media, mere hypocrisy, or is it something even worse — far worse? In any case, only a fair and international juridical tribunal that’s controlled by no nation and by no alliance of nations can possibly deliver a credible verdict on this. And, so, such international criminal trials must be organized and carried out, or else even worse can be expected to occur. Impunity is desirable only by and for gangsters, and no land where it exists can reasonably be called “democratic.”

America’s news-media — especially the mainstream ones — not only cover-up important truths, but they routinely lie. Both the Democratic Party’s media and the Republican Party’s media report the same lies, which are the Government’s lies, on these international matters. These are lies on which there is bipartisan unity by the nation’s press (and by both political Parties), in order to deceive the public, into support for invading and occupying, or overthrowing via a coup or otherwise, some foreign government. Their target is always a government which America’s billionaires who control international corporations want to replace, and so the US regime unanimously lies against that targeted government, as being dangerous and evil, even though the given takeover-target has never invaded, nor threatened to invade, the United States — is no real national-security threat to the American people. Only on the basis of lies can that succeed. This is the main function of the press, in such countries: deceit, on those international matters.

In other words: the US Government is fascist, like the Axis powers were in World War II. This is worse than, for example, merely wasting billions of dollars on building a border-wall against Mexico in order to protect Americans, but it receives far less press-attention (perhaps because the press is so unanimous in endorsing and supporting these atrocities — and that’s yet further evidence of the American regime’s fascism). The press is owned by, and funded by ads, and donations from, America’s billionaires, the very same people who fund our politicians and who also own controlling interests in the weapons-firms such as Lockheed Martin, which can’t survive without these weapons-sales, and which therefore demand constant conquests, in order to create new markets for their wares, new “allied nations.”

So, naturally, America’s military is mainly the enforcement-arm of the billionaires who control US-based international corporations (especially the weapons-firms and the extractive firms such as mining and fuels, which corporations crave to control foreign natural resources), and those people also control America’s Government and press, and this produces the unanimity for these regime-change operations — which likewise fits the fascist model.

The US is clearly the world’s leading fascist nation, and there is no close second (and none of the nations that the US regime is trying to conquer is fascist at all). What Germany was under Hitler, the US is and has been at least since the time of US President Ronald Reagan. The US has been a dictatorship since at least 1981.

Coup or invasion (either form of aggression) is an international war-crime, but the deceit against America’s public usually succeeds, because the public trust especially the billionaire-controlled mainstream press, which is always leading these lies-for-conquest.

Furthermore, almost all of the ‘alternative news’ media are likewise owned by (and funded by ads or donations from) wealthy interests that participate in and benefit from this mass-deceit — from the stenographic ‘news’ reporting, the Government’s accusations against the particular target-nation that’s about to be (or has been) regime-changed.

For example, all of America’s ’news’-media were stenographically reporting the US Government’s many lies about ‘Saddam Hussein’s WMD’, in order to ‘justify’ America’s kicking out the UN’s weapons-inspectors and simply bombing Iraq and invading and militarily occupying, and basically destroying, that country (which had never invaded ours) in 2003. All of America’s ‘news’ media did the same, but especially all of the mainstream ones did, of both the right and the left, all the way from Fox News to the New York Times. They all were hiding the truth and lying to support an illegal invasion — an international war-crime under international law, and violation of the UN’s Charter. Did Americans stop buying those ‘news’papers and watching those ’news’ channels, and buying those ’news’ magazines, after the truth became reluctantly exposed (during 2002-2005) that those ‘WMD’ didn’t exist and no longer had existed after 1998? No, those same ‘news’-media still are successful. (They all ought to be long-since out-of-business, but such accountability doesn’t exist in the news-business. Not only does a major ‘news’-medium hide its own corruption and lying but it hides that of all other major ‘news’-media, because otherwise the entire ‘democratic’ system of control by the nation’s billionaires would simply collapse.)

America’s ‘news’-media report just as much false ‘news’ (not merely what they call “fake news,” but actually false ‘news’) today, as they did back then, because America’s ‘news’-media cover-up not only for themselves, but also for each other, since they all lie so routinely in order to ‘justify’ their Government’s aggressions, coups, military invasions, foreign mass-murders, etc., and those invasions and coups are part of the unspoken business-plan of them all, for growth or expansion of their global control.

These atrocities are all done for ‘national security’ reasons, and in order to ‘spread democracy’, and in order to ‘protect human rights around the world’ — and Americans continue to believe it, and to believe the regime, and to subscribe to those same mainstream (and hangers-on) ’news’-media. Accountability against lying doesn’t exist in a hyper-aggressive ‘democracy’, a would-be all-encompassing global empire, which America has certainly become.

Today, these ’news’-media hide that they’ve been lying when they report that Russia ‘hacked’ Hillary Clinton’s email and John Podesta’s computer. Just click onto that, right there, and you will immediately see the latest documentation that it’s all mere lies against Russia, which is the only nation that does actually possess the military wherewithal to stand up against the US regime (since it inherited the arsenal of the former Soviet Union when the Cold War ended in 1991 on their side — though that war secretly continued and still is continuing on the American side).

These fabrications could have many reasons, but perhaps the likeliest is in order to increase weapons-sales by Lockheed Martin and other US weapons-makers, all of which are 100% dependent upon their sales to the US Government and to its allied governments. (There are consequently interlocking directorates between the ‘news’-businesses and the armaments-firms, and the Wall Street banks, and the think tanks, etc.; and all of this is intensified by the revolving door between Government officials and the private sector, such as generals becoming directors of ‘defense’ firms.) But this fraud that ‘Russia hacked the election’ has been exposed before, though not with the same thoroughness as it is in that latest news-report, which comes from the “Sic Semper Tyrannus” blog. You might happen to think that it must be ‘fake news’, because it’s from a non-mainstream site? It comes from Bill Binney, who is the NSA whistleblower who was the NSA’s top signals-intelligence analyst before he quit in disgust at the Government’s lying. Of course, he had tried all the mainstream ‘news’-media as prospective outlets for this news-report, but they’re not interested in exposing the truth — because that would expose themselves to be liars. Once a major lie is told, and told repeatedly, by a major ‘news’-medium, exposing that lie would be exposing itself — and none do that.

They also hide that they’ve been lying to report that America was justified to bomb Syria on 11 April 2018, justified to do it in order to punish Syria’s Government for having perpetrated a chemical weapons attack on 7 April 2018 in the town of Douma — a chemical weapons attack that was actually fabricated by the US and its allies, and which US Government lie is still being protected (hidden from the public) by the US regime’s ’news’ media, which media, for example, fail to report that the OPCW did not find any such attack to have occurred:

“OPCW Issues Fact-Finding Mission Reports on Chemical Weapons Use Allegations in Douma, Syria in 2018 and in Al-Hamadaniya and Karm Al-Tarrab in 2016”

Friday, 06 July 2018

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 6 July 2018 — The Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), issued an interim report on the FFM’s investigation to date regarding the allegations of chemical weapons use in Douma, Syria on 7 April 2018.

The FFM’s activities in Douma included on-site visits to collect environmental samples, interviews with witnesses, data collection. In a neighbouring country, the FFM team gathered or received biological and environmental samples, and conducted witness interviews.

OPCW designated labs conducted analysis of prioritised samples. The results show that no organophosphorous nerve agents or their degradation products were detected in the environmental samples or in the plasma samples taken from alleged casualties. Along with explosive residues, various chlorinated organic chemicals were found in samples from two sites, for which there is full chain of custody. Work by the team to establish the significance of these results is on-going. The FFM team will continue its work to draw final conclusions.

If those “final conclusions” are ever made public by OPCW, will you trust your ’news’-media to report them honestly? And, if the conclusions never are published, will you think that the US regime and its ’news’-media are war-criminals there, just as they were in Iraq, and Syria, and Yemen, and Ukraine, and so many other countries?

According to Russian Television, or “RT” — which all major ’news’-media in the US and its allied regimes say is ‘untrustworthy’ — “Real ‘obscene masquerade’: How BBC depicted staged hospital scenes as proof of Douma chemical attack”. That op-ed by the great British investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley, who specializes in Syria, isn’t published by the BBC, or by ABC, NBC, CBS, NPR, PBS, Fox, MSNBC, CNN, New York Times, Guardian, or Washington Post. It’s too honest, for that. Could this be part of the reason that they call RT ‘fake news’? If so, maybe RT should replace them, at least for international reporting.

And, before that, there was the claimed 21 August 2013 sarin gas attack in the town of Ghouta by Syria’s Government, which was actually done by the US Government’s allies who were trying to overthrow and replace Syria’s Government — it’s what’s called a “false flag attack” — one that’s designed to be blamed against the other side, in order to serve as an ‘excuse’ to invade. The American Government and its ‘news’-media keep making suckers out of the American public this way, and yet the American public continue to subscribe to them — to pay their good money, for such evil propaganda. Apparently, nobody is even embarassed. It simply keeps happening, again and again.

Another recent example is the ‘democratic revolution’ in Ukraine in February 2014, which was actually a US coup that destroyed that country.

And the latest example is the US-and-Canada-led effort to impose a fascist regime in Venezuela.

Furthermore, as one of the perceptive reader-commenters to that latest Binney article on ‘Russiagate’ noted: “Craig Murray, in a very revealing but neglected interview with Scott Horton, said‘I should be plain that the Podesta emails and the DNC emails of course are two separate things and you shouldn’t conclude that both have the same source. But in both cases, we’re talking of a leak not a hack, in that the person who was responsible for getting the information out had legal access to that information.’” Murray, a whistleblower and former UK Ambassador, had been personally involved in that, by transferring a thumb-drive from the DNC whistleblower to Julian Assange, and he also said there, “If you are looking to the source of all this, you have to look to Americans,” and not at all to any Russians or other foreigners.

The comprehensiveness of the deceit by the US regime is beyond what the vast majority of Americans can even imagine to be the case. It is simply beyond the comprehension of most people. And that false ‘news’-reporting then becomes basic to, and enshrined in, false but best-selling ‘history’-books, so as to deepen, yet further, the deception of the public.

On Sunday, February 24th, the “Zero Hedge” independent news-site headlined “WaPo Quietly Deletes Branson’s Venezuela Concert From Article After ‘Fake’ Attendance Figures Exposed” and reported (and documented) that the British billionaire Richard Branson’s free pop-concert on Friday February 22 at the Venezuela-Colombia border in support of Washington’s attempted coup to overthrow Venezuela’s democratically elected President had drawn less than 20,000 fans instead of what had been reported in the US regime’s Washington Post, which had reported that 200,000 attended, and that as soon as the US regime’s fraud was publicly exposed — which was done by means of a photo of the crowd which had been taken by Dan Cohen of Russia’s RT, plus careful independent calculations by the “Moon of Alabama” blogger — the US regime’s ‘news’paper retroactively removed their ‘news’-report’s crowd-size-estimate from the online version of their ‘news’-report. Of course, the ‘error’ had already been physically printed in that trashy ‘news’paper, which might (at its discretion) subsequently publish a printed correction, saying that they’d only been trying to fool their subscribers in order to assist propaganda supporting the US regime’s grab for control over Venezuela.

The problem isn’t ‘fake news’ from RT or from small online sites (such as all of the major media claim to be the case), but false ‘news’ from mainstream US (and allied) ‘news’ (propaganda) media. They’ve all got millions of victims’ blood on their hands, and they’re not even a bit ashamed of any of it — and of shifting the blame for it to the targeted nations.

PS: Max Blumenthal is an investigative journalist who formerly believed the lies from the (think tanks and other agencies of the) billionaires who finance the Democratic Party. He was the star journalist at one of the Democratic Party’s leading ‘alt-news’ propaganda-sites, AlterNet, until he lost his employment there after starting to expose the rot that he had previously been fooled into supporting. He increasingly moved away from liberalism to progressivism; and the Democratic National Committee doesn’t want any of that, except as window-dressing — and Blumenthal decided he could no longer do that. He became unemployed for a while and then established, along with another former AlterNet reporter “The GrayZone Project,” in order to continue being employed. Blumenthal recently issued a YouTube video in which he interviewed star Democratic Party Presidential aspirant Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other members of Congress “Is the US Meddling in Venezuela? Max Blumenthal Asks US Congress Members.” As you can see there, all of them are either mildly or very supportive of Trump’s coup-attempt in Venezuela. Unfortunately, Blumenthal didn’t interview Tulsi Gabbard, who might possibly be an exception to the depressing rule that corruption reigns, and who recently announced her candidacy for the US Presidency. Nor did he interview Bernie Sanders, nor Sherrod Brown, nor Elizabeth Warren, all of whom likewise are competing for the progressives’ votes in the upcoming Democratic Party Presidential primaries. As for the other Democratic contenders, they’re competing to become instead the new Hillary Clinton — the American billionaires’ favorite. Instead, with Trump, we got in the 2016 Presidentials their second choice.

On February 18th, Blumenthal and a colleague, Alexander Rubinstein, headlined at one of the few sincere and honest US-based international-news sites, “Mint Press,” “Pierre Omidyar’s Funding of Pro-Regime-Change Networks and Partnerships with CIA Cutouts”, and they exposed Omidyar, the owner of a famous ‘news’ site that’s targeted at naive progressives, “The Intercept.” Whereas Mint Press is called ‘fake news’ by America’s billionaires’ ‘news’-media, The Intercept (which isn’t nearly as honest as Mint Press is) is not. The dictatorship’s aim is to crush the truth, and (like The Intercept does) they let in just enough of truth so as to keep hidden what’s most important to them to keep hidden from the public — things such as what Blumenthal and Rubinstein are now disclosing.

Everybody except America’s 585 billionaires should be reading sites such as the ones that publish Blumenthal and Rubinstein, and other honest investigative journalists (which are banned at all of the mainstream sites). Propaganda that poses as ‘news’ has to be crushed, in order for truth itself not to be crushed. But can their exposé of Omidyar win a top national journalism award without thereby bringing down the entire rotten and corrupt superstructure of lies? And that would also bring down the enormous international crimes this superstructure has supported and continues to support, such as Iraq 2003, Libya 2011, Syria 2011-2018, Yemen 2015-now, Ukraine 2014, and Venezuela 2017-now.

If such news-reports cannot win top journalism prizes, then what hope is there, realistically, that things will ever be able to improve?

Only by removing the blinders from the public, can the public see the light and the actual truth, about the world in which they are living. That’s what is needed in order for democracy to be able to exist. What now exists is, instead, dictatorship. That’s the current reality. It includes the European Council, which is the unelected government of the EU, which clearly is a dictatorship (and this is true even if Brexit is wrong), and it also includes every other ally of the US regime. The EU was created by the US and its allies after WW II. It “always was a CIA project.” FDR was dead, and maybe whatever there had been of US democracy died along with him. The UN that exists is not the one that he had intended and so carefully planned. We’ve been living in a charade. It didn’t start in 1981. There is this, and there also is this. It’s FDR’s vision turned upside-down and inside-out. That’s the actual world of today. It’s based on lies.

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رتجاجات شرق البحر المتوسط والعالم في شبه القارة الهندية

فبراير 28, 2019

محمد صادق الحسيني

ليس مستغرباً أن تصل تبعات التحوّلات الاستراتيجية الكبرى في غرب آسيا وشرق البحر المتوسط إلى الساحة الهندية لتوقظ نزاعاً تاريخياً وجغرافياً وسياسياً مريراً حول مصائر شعوب وأقوام شبه القارة الهندية من جديد…!

قد يكون العامل المباشر في التصعيد الجاري حالياً بين دولتي شبه القارة الهندية النوويتين هو التفجيرات الأخيرة التي حصلت في الهند والتي وجهت نيودلهي أصابع الاتهام فيها الى حكومة إسلام آباد، لكن هذا ليس هو أصل الحكاية، فالرواية الحقيقية لا تكتمل إلا بقراءة بعض فصولها المحجوبة عن الأنظار بسبب صراع الإرادات الإقليمية والدولية المحيطة بالدولتين اللدودتين…!

فرغم كلّ التعثر الذي يرافق إعادة صياغة السلطة في الباكستان على قواعد جديدة بعيدة عن المعسكر الوهابي الإرهابي إقليمياً والامبريالي دولياً من بعد فوز عمران خان برئاسة الحكومة هناك، فإنّ محاولة الصعود الباكستاني المستقلّ نسبياً عن دوائر القرار الدولي أثار ولا يزال حفيظة الهند الخصم اللدود لدولة المسلمين الجديدة الدخول الى نادي لعبة الأمم منذ نهاية الحرب العالمية الثانية…!

فباكستان عمران خان التي استقبلت محمد بن سلمان أخيراً والتي يُراد لها من وجهة نظر أميركية وسعودية ان تصبح ولو في الظاهر «لاعباً إسلامياً» مناكفاً أمام الجمهورية الإسلامية الإيرانية، رافعة لواء المقاومة بوجه الإرهاب الوهابي ولاحتلال الصهيوني، باتت تشكل من جديد بالنسبة للهند قوة يُحسب لها حساب في الصراع الأميركي الروسي في شبه القارة الهندية، وهذا ما يثير حفيظة الهند الواقعة في المدار الروسي عملياً منذ عقود…!

ولأنّ حكومة عمران خان النازعة نحو استقلالية القرار النسبي عن واشنطن قامت مؤخراً في هذا السياق بتكثيف التنسيق السياسي مع الاتحاد الروسي في بعض الملفات الدولية، فإنّ ذلك زاد الطين بلة بالنسبة للهند التي تعتبر نفسها الدولة الأكثر رعاية لدى الروس منذ زمن الحرب الباردة الأميركية السوفياتية، فكيف تدخل الباكستان الى حرمها الدولي هذا دون استئذان…؟

من جهة أخرى فإنّ التحوّلات الجيو سياسية والجيواستراتيجية بين إسلام آباد وبكين إنْ من زاوية الطاقة أو الطرق والمواصلات براً وبحراً أو من زاوية تنامي المشاورات السياسية التي هي أصلاً محكمة بين الجانبين منذ أمد بعيد قد وضعت الباكستان من جديد حليفاً لا يمكن تجاهله للصين الصاعدة عالمياً فإنّ من شأن ذلك أن يثير حفيظة الهند أيضاً لأنها سترى نفسها بين كماشتي واشنطن وبكين من جديد…!

كلّ ذلك جعل نيودلهي أكثر تحفزاً لعمل أيّ شئ يوقف هذا الصعود الباكستاني الإقليمي والدولي المستفز…!

ثم انّ الهند التي تعتبر الباكستان في الأساس وليداً غير شرعي خرج من رحمها قسراً في نهاية الحرب الكونية الثانية، فكيف بها ان تتحمّل هذا الوليد وهو يتحوّل امام عينيها كائناً شرعياً بنظر الدول الكبرى، بل ولاعباً إقليمياً وقوة وازنة في الصراعات الدولية، إضافة إلى تقدّمه بخطى واعدة باتجاه أبواب الدخول لمجموعة بريكس ومنتدى شنغهاي اللذين تعتبرهما الهند جزءاً من الحيّز الحيوي لها دولياً…!

في مثل هذه اللحظة التاريخية الباكستانية الصاعدة يصبح من غير المهمّ لدولة تاريخية عريقة مثل الهند ان تظهر أمام العالم متهمة في كسر قواعد الاشتباك التاريخي – التي تمنع التفجير – والتي حكمت البلدين المتنازعين على الحدود منذ توقف القتال بينهما حول إقليم كشمير منذ عقود، ولتكون هي البادئة بالقصف الجوي على الأراضي الباكستانية لا سيما أنّ الذريعة جاءت مؤاتية، ايّ مكافحة الإرهاب وتحت مسمّى قصف معسكر «جيش محمد» الذي تتهمه نيودلهي بأنه يقف وراء تفجيرات الهند الأخيرة…!

انها لحظة تبدّل موازين القوى في أكثر من ساحة دولية وشبه القارة الهندية ليست استثناءً في هذا العالم المتحوّل في كلّ لحظة وكلّ حين…!

بعدنا طيّبين قولوا الله…

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UK Must Justify Hezbollah Ban Expansion – Labor Party

By Staff, Agencies

UK’s opposition Labor Party stressed on Tuesday that Home Secretary Sajid Javid had to provide evidence to justify his decision to widen a ban on Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement.

Britain said on Monday it plans to ban what it referred to as ‘all wings of Hezbollah due to its destabilizing influence in the Middle East’, branding the resistance movement as a ‘terrorist organization.’

“The Home Secretary must therefore now demonstrate that this decision was taken in an objective and impartial way, and driven by clear and new evidence, not by his leadership ambitions,” a Labor spokesman said.

Asked about the comments, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said it was for Labor to explain their decision.

“Hezbollah itself has publicly denied a distinction between its military and political wings,” the spokesman said.

The British ban, which will come into force on Friday subject to parliament’s approval, means anyone who is a member of Hezbollah or invites support ‘will be committing a criminal offense with a potential sentence of up to 10 years in jail.’

Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn has previously been criticized for his approach to Hezbollah, whose members he once termed friends. The remark is regularly seized upon by opponents for criticism.

Hezbollah was already considered a ‘terrorist organization’ by ‘Israel,’ the US and members of the Arab League.

In 2013, the European Union placed Hezbollah’s ‘military wing’ on its ‘terror list,’ and London had proscribed the group’s external security unit and its military wing in 2001 and 2008 respectively. Now, the UK plans to add the ‘political arm’ to that list too.

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Pakistan Turned The Latest Bollywood “Surgical Strike” Flick Into Reality

By Andrew Korybko
Source

India thought that it pulled off an infowar coup by pretending to have carried out a “surgical strike” against 200-300 Jaish-e-Mohammed fighters in Azad Kashmir in the early hours of 26 February, but this vote-grabbing stunt by Indian Prime Minister Modi totally backfired on him after Pakistan turned this latest Bollywood flick into a reality by defending its airspace and downing two Indian MiGs that violated the Line of Control.

The Movie That Came To Life

The hottest Bollywood flick in the world right now is “Surgical Strike 2.0”, which is the big-budget and high-stakes sequel to its predecessor that India claims to have carried out in 2016 with no evidence either. The author wrote about this in his piece titled “’Surgical Strike 2.0’ Or Big Bollywood Spectacle?”, which compared India’s lies about a second “surgical strike” in the early hours of 26 February to a re-election movie by Prime Minister Modi, one which he hoped would amount to an infowar coup that would simultaneously boost his own nation’s international “prestige” while denigrating Pakistan’s. It was predicted at the end of that piece that “Like all Bollywood productions, ‘the show must go on’, but the “surgical strike” series won’t have a happy ending for India” after Pakistan promised to retaliate “at a time and place of its choosing”, which is exactly what happened the next day.

Pakistan downed two Indian MiGs that violated the Line of Control (LoC) and even managed to capture a pilot who was recorded on camera as proof against India’s original fake news assertions that it didn’t suffer such a humiliating military defeat. Speaking of false claims, India says that it downed a Pakistani F-16 that violated its airspace, yet just like it bragged about killing 200-300 Jaish-e-Mohammed fighters in its “surgical strike” the day earlier without presenting any evidence whatsoever that anything other than a few trees were destroyed (and even those were targeted accidentally after its jet released its payload to jettison extra weight as it fled Pakistani airspace), so too is this also fake news intended to deceive the domestic and international audiences. What actually happened on the morning of 27 February is expectedly much different than how India is portraying it.

Fake News Has Real-World Consequences

Islamabad acknowledged in an official press release that it retaliated tit-for-tat by striking non-military targets in Indian-Occupied Kashmir in order “to demonstrate [its] right, will and capability for self defence”, not to escalate the situation. It also hinted at carrying out actual anti-terrorist “surgical strikes” against the Indian-backed terrorists participating in the Hybrid War on CPEC when it declared that “If India is striking at so called terrorist backers without a shred of evidence, we also retain reciprocal rights to retaliate against elements that enjoy Indian patronage while carrying out acts of terror in Pakistan.” Had India’s elected leadership and its military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) not fancied themselves starring in a Bollywood film and took Pakistan’s words seriously, they wouldn’t have even staged “Surgical Strike 2.0” after Islamabad promised there’d be a response should that happen, but regrettably, New Delhi decided to escalate tensions even further.

Instead of letting Pakistan’s principled tit-for-tat retaliation be the end of their recent tensions, India turned up the notch by dispatching two more of its MiGs to violate the LoC and possibly stage another episode of its “surgical strike” drama, though they were predictably shot down by the Pakistani Air Force. Displaying the maturing that a rising Great Power such as the global pivot state of Pakistan is expected to have, Prime Minister Khan promptly went on national TV to reiterate that his country doesn’t want to take the situation any further but that “No sovereign country can allow another country to become judge, jury and executioners” by using unverified claims such as the Pakistani state’s involvement in the Pulwama attack to violate its airspace and stage a “surgical strike” stunt. India refused to jointly investigate that “trigger” incident with Pakistan, instead choosing to unilaterally act aggressively against it.

Pakistan Is Protecting The Rules-Based International Order From India (And Its US & “Israeli” Allies)

This pattern of behavior is strongly influenced by the modus operandi of its new American and “Israeli” allies, who never have any compunction against striking whatever state they feel like, though once again, India’s Bollywood delusions deceived it. Nuclear-armed and battle-tested Pakistan isn’t anywhere in the same league as “Arab Spring”-afflicted Libya or war-torn Syria, so Modi’s fantasy of carrying out an American- and “Israeli”-like strike against it – to say nothing of an Iraqi-style “shock and awe” campaign – with impunity was a fantasy from the very beginning, though one which the Indian leadership has dangerously decided to play out in real life. Unlike those aforementioned targeted states, however, Pakistan is strong enough to defend the principles of international law, especially sovereignty and territorial integrity, by militantly upholding the UN Charter, which is why it promptly shot down both Indian jets that tried to stage another “surgical strike” provocation.

It’s become fashionable over the past few years for world leaders to lament the demise of the so-called “rules-based international order”, yet Pakistan just proved that it’s possible to defend it if states have the political will and military capabilities to do so. Whether it’s India, “Israel”, or America, this actual “Troika of Tyranny” (unlike the Latin American one that US National Security Advisor Bolton spoke about late last year) is destabilizing South Asia, West Asia/Mideast, and the whole world, respectively, and doing more than any others to throw International Relations into chaos as they desperately try to stop the emerging Multipolar World Order at all costs.  It shouldn’t be seen as coincidental that India is the US’ only “Major Defense Partner” and bragged about using “Israeli” missiles in its latest “surgical strike” stunt that it intended to indirectly destabilize the Belt & Road Initiative’s (BRICPEC megaproject.

Russia’s “Balancing” Pragmatism At Its Finest

Russia expressed concern about the US’ geopolitical intentions for India earlier this week when Foreign Minister Lavrov presciently warned against using the South Asian state to “contain China” through the “artificially imposed” “Indo-Pacific Region” concept, and Head of the Second Asia Department Zamir Kabulov (who’s also President Putin’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan) confirmed his country’s pragmatism by “balancing” between its traditional India partner and its newfound strategic one in Pakistan after refusing to take sides and reiterating that both are “friendly to Russia”. This would have been unthinkable had Moscow believed that New Delhi was on the right geopolitical path, but it evidently places such importance on Islamabad’s role in protecting the rules-based international order which India’s American patron is trying to destroy that it decided not to take New Delhi’s side this time around, which speaks volumes if soberly analyzed by objective observers.

Concluding Thoughts

“Surgical Strike 2.0”, the latest Bollywood flick to come out of Modi’s India, was supposed to be an action-packed comedy that would highlight the “bravery” of the Indian Armed Forces as they “humiliated” Pakistan, but the movie abruptly transformed into real life after New Delhi forgot that military stunts have real-world consequences and Islamabad showed that it’s more than willing to turn this comedy into a tragedy for its main protagonists. This “plot twist” revealed that far from being the “heroes”, the Indian Armed Forces are actually the antagonists while their opponents in the Pakistani Armed Forces are the real protagonists fighting to safeguard the principles of the UN Charter upon which the rules-based international order is based.

Usually when a movie is going as bad as this one is, it’s a good idea to walk away even if the viewer can’t forget that the experience ever happened, but Modi seems to have a morbid fascination in seeing how much worse things will get. He’s forgotten that he’s not in a flick but is the main player an ultra-risky high-stakes gamble over the fate of his entire nation. The “surgical strike” charade was exposed as the fake news infowar that it was from the very beginning, but unless Modi wakes up and realizes the damage that this vote-grabbing stunt has inflicted on his country, Pakistan will ensure that “Surgical Strike 2.0” has the worst ending in Bollywood history.

The Hero of the Arab World

Wednesday, 27 February 2019 08:15

President Bashar  Al-Assad’s recent   historic visit to Iran and the talks held with Sayyed Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran and President Hassan Rouhani, has indeed been a historic, landmark and  fruitful visit as a message of gratitude,  true friendship, solidarity, peace and amity.

President Assad was received by Sayyed Ali Khamenei as the victorious ‘ Leader of Arabs’, as outlined by the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution; President Assad has been for years leading his country and people away from  dangers, poverty, and sinister terrorist plots and conspiracies. The last 8 years of the terrorist war launched against Syria, unfortunately backed by some  whom President Assad, Syrian Army, brothers and allies, were defending, has indeed made of his visit to Tehran, the capital of the Resistance against oppression, aggression and terrorism, a landmark visit by all accounts.

It has been a visit of gratitude to the brothers in arms who firmly supported Syrians in their war against terrorism, and defense of the entire globe. The wise worldwide do recognize that without such  a strategic unity in blood against Al-Qaeda and ISIS affiliates, the region would have been turned by now into  huge slaughterhouses!  President Assad visited the country which has been standing with his own people and their interests; Iran has been able with the wisdom of its leaders and people, to save the region from being totally and entirely exploited by warmongers and occupiers.

 

Syria’s war against terrorists, mainly exported to Syria from all around the globe, has achieved big strides on the way of all-out cleansing of every span of the Syrian soil from Arab and foreign backed and financed terrorists. The visit is but a definite stop on the way of the more of withstanding, steadfastness and hardships to face as to remain independent, steadfast and victorious. The war is still waged against those who adore freedom, sovereignty and independence.

Actually, President Assad, in light of his heroic and brave stances, and rejection to be subdued and kneel down to the colonialists and ewes with their greed, threats, or even carrots, is but the world number. 1 Leader when it comes to fighting oppression and terrorism on behalf of all as to save what he has been able to save.  One day, history would cite this President as the Man who stood tall and fought the most of terrorists and their backers and could save the most of the region, if not the world, from terrorists.

The visit, probably for the wise, is a message of peace. Neither the Syrians, nor the Iranians, have ever been aggressors. It is a visit of a definite everlasting stances of defense, not only against terrorists and their backers, but occupiers too. As underscored, governments of the region, if not the whole world, should refrain from being a satellite in the US orbit! US and Western interests are not in line with peoples’ interests.

Submission and yes-sir policies by those who lost their resources and souls to Lucifer are indeed catastrophic with dire consequences against the majority of humanity. It has been a message for the necessity as to formulate and adopt balanced and equilibrium policies on the basis of common respect for the sovereignty of states and non-interference in their domestic affairs.

Indeed, Syria and Iran are their each other’s strategic  depth and with a clear message of standing on vigil as to preserve the victories and achievements accomplished against terrorism and its backers. Syria’s victory against terrorism is but for all lovers of humanity, freedom, peace and fraternity.

Dr. Mohamad Abdo Al-Ibrahim

Editor-in-Chief

alibrahim56@hotmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/Mohamad.Abdo.AlIbrahim

http://syriatimes.sy/

http://www.presidentassad.net/

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How The Western Anti-War Movement Became Poisoned Against Pakistan

By Adam Garrie
Source

As has been the case many times in the past, the events of the last two days have demonstrated India’s willingness to risk the consequences of committing acts of aggression against Pakistan, mainly because India remains convinced that Pakistan’s side of the story will never get a fair hearing internationally. As such, whilst Pakistan has produced photos of a downed Indian jet, complete with video confirming the lawful capture of the pilot, in addition to further footage of the pilot drinking tea with a well mannered Pakistani interrogator – there are still some who believe the totally un-evidenced and downright bizarre claims made by India in relation to the events of the past two days.

Clearly, much of the world is starting to see the truth about India’s deceptive military and even more deceptive hybrid military-political campaigns that many in Pakistan have cautioned the world against believing for decades. And yet there is one segment of western political activism that continues to turn a blind eye to the injustices facing Pakistan, whilst automatically sympathising with India. This is the self-proclaimed anti-war movement, whose name is betrayed by the fact that many otherwise consistently anti-war Europeans and North Americans, become unhinged when faced with the prospect of having to condemn India in the context of its hostility against Pakistan.

The root of this problem has comparatively little to do with India and Pakistan’s role in the Cold War rivalries between China and the Soviet Union, but instead has much to do with the events which transpired in Afghanistan between 1978 and 2001.

In 1978, the pro-Soviet People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan overthrow the Republic of Afghanistan ruled by Mohammed Daoud Khan during the Saur Revolution. This triggered an internal backlash against the new communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. The indigenous backlash then triggered Kabul calling for the USSR to aid the central government against the uprising, whilst the United States firmly backed the Mujahideen rebels by supplying them with weapons, other material goods and high level combat training.

Ironically, many members of the anti-war movement in the west during the 1980s actually remained neutral or opposed the USSR’s entry into Afghanistan. This is due to the fact that while technically, the USSR was acting on the request of a UN recognised government, the American war in Vietnam was likewise technically at the “request” of the government of South Vietnam – a nation that had strong associations with the UN, without ever attaining full membership (incidentally, no Vietnamese state held a UN seat until 1977, by which time the country was unified).

In spite of these legal nuances, the American war in Vietnam was an unmitigated disaster and the Soviet war in Afghanistan likewise proved to be disastrous. It has only been in the 21st century that the next generation of western anti-war activists have gradually come to wrap themselves in the flag of The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. This is the case for several crucial reasons.

After the 9/11 attacks in the US, the anti-war movement was struggling to have its voice heard in an America that became hellbent for military revenge against anyone thought to be behind the attacks. Americans wanted revenge as was understandable, but worryingly, they were willing to get their revenge even against those who had nothing to do with 9/11 (if this sounds like India in 2019, it is because the same logic applies).

Desperate to stay relevant in a country that was overwhelmingly pro-war after 9/11, members of the US anti-war movement began to rehabilitate the People’s Republic of Afghanistan because on paper (key term), it stood for everything those accused of committing the 9/11 atrocity opposed. The People’s Republic of Afghanistan had a secular government that was far-left, anti-religious and opposed to the US backed Mujaheddin. As Osama bin Laden was once a leading figure in the Mujahideen, the US anti-war movement finally had an argument that in theory they could use in order to revive the general relevance of the anti-war movement in a pro-war age.  Their argument went as follows: “America helped the Mujahideen in which Osama bin Laden was a leading figure. By contrast, the USSR and the People’s Republic of Afghanistan opposed the Mujahideen and stood for an ideology hated by the Mujahideen. Ergo: America’s support of the Mujahideen led to 9/11 and if the USSR and their communist Afghan allies won the war, there would be no 9/11”.

Although the “logic” employed by such members of the western anti-war movement is simplistic to the point of being a straw man argument, this is actually what many anti-war westerners, as well as many knee-jerk pro-Russian international commentators have said and continue to say when trying to find an ideological/pseudo-strategic link between the events of the 1980s and the post-9/11 anti-war movement. Ironically, modern Russia has welcomed peace talks with the Taliban, whilst perhaps not surprisingly, few in Russia now think that their war in Afghanistan was a good idea and almost no one in modern Russia thinks that the war was properly executed. In this sense, the western anti-war movement sounds a lot more like the old USSR than many scholars and even many policy makers in modern Russia.

Be that as it may, due to the fact that Pakistan was an opponent of People’s Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, many of these same anti-war westerners continue to blame Pakistan for the failure of the supposedly “good” communist Afghan government to beat the Mujahideen. What such people fail to realise is that Pakistan’s support for those opposing the communist regime in Afghanistan had nothing to do with ideology and everything to do with Pakistan’s national survival.

Between 1947 and the present day, literally every Afghan government whether monarchical, republican, communist or theocratic, has refused to recognise Pakistan’s otherwise internationally recognised western border along the Durand Line. As such, Pakistan feared that the revolutionary communist regime next door would act even more vociferously in pursuing Afghanistan’s notorious expansionist tendencies than even previous Afghan regimes. There were several logical reasons which led Pakistan’s leadership to this deduction. First of all, as a country with good relations with the USSR’s main rivals of the time (China and the United States), Pakistan feared that a Soviet victory in Afghanistan would lead an exuberant, emboldened and war hardened Kabul regime to expand its territory at the expense of legally defined Pakistani territory. Secondly, the communist ideology of the Afghanistan after 1978 sought to disguise traditional anti-Pakistan Pashtun ultra-nationalism (aka separatism) in order to create an old fashioned “Greater Pashtunistan” under the guise of “proletarian expansionism”. In this sense, from Pakistan’s perspective, it was better to ally with rebels who supported an Islamic political ideology which in theory would minimise notorious Afghan expansionism aimed at Pakistan, than it would have been to go soft on a secular Kabul regime that was willing to use ethno-nationalism as a means of spreading communism to a Pakistan which had no appetite for becoming a communist state against its will.

As such, Pakistan opposed the communist regime in Afghanistan not only for these practical rather than ideological reasons, but also because domestic terrorists seeking to destroy the Pakistani state were sheltered by communist Kabul, therefore making it clear that Afghanistan was prepared to harbour individuals and groups whose stated goal was the overthrow of state institutions in Pakistan. In this sense, Pakistan was not “in love” with the Mujahideen, but was instead looking to strategically protect itself against a clear threat on what was then, a widely exposed north-western border.

As a Cold War ally of the USSR, India had multiple vested interests in supporting the People’s Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. First of all, India’s relations with Afghanistan have always been centred on New Delhi’s desire to gain leverage against Pakistan through the use of hybrid threats originating from or being sheltered on Afghan soil. Secondly, as in the 1980s Afghanistan shared a border with the USSR, a grand Soviet, India, Afghanistan alliance could have helped to economically isolate Pakistan in an age before Pakistan’s all-weather friend China became the economic superpower that it is today. As such, the idea of a northern CPEC lifeline for Pakistan in the 1980s, would have been virtually unimaginable.

And yet, these deeply important details seem to be lost on a western anti-war movement that especially since 9/11, has partly internalised the western far-right and Israel’s Islamophobia. In doing so, many in the western anti-war movement have reached the simplistic conclusion that “secular terrorists and murderous secular regimes are automatically good, whilst anything Islamic is automatically a reactionary and pro-terrorism”.

Whilst this shift in the western anti-war movement towards secular supremacy aimed at Islamic movements or governments with Islamic (particularly Sunni Islamic) characteristics was a phenomenon based on the west’s own post-9/11 mass hysteria, it had the effect of helping India to revive its own seemingly dead Cold War narrative which claims that “secular leftists of the world and Hindus of the world must unite against CIA back Sunni Muslim extremists”. Forgetting the fact that as the 21st century moved on, India grew closer to the US, further from Russia and continues to maintain hostility against China – this narrative continues to poison many otherwise dutiful anti-war westerners against Pakistan.

This is the case because based on their total misreading of events in Afghanistan in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, far too many western anti-war activists think that there is in fact an unbroken alliance of Mujahideen style groups, modern Pakistan and the CIA and that this alliance can only be counterbalanced by a mythical alliance that includes “sometimes Hindu/sometimes secular India”, a Russia that the western left imagines to still be the old USSR and any country in western Eurasia (Syria and Iran in particular) that has dispute with actual Sunni extremists (mainly Daesh) who happen to have nothing to do with Pakistan.

The fact of the matter is that a mixture of the USSR’s rehabilitation among the western far-left, a gross misunderstanding of Pakistan’s position in the 1980s and Indian propaganda that is aimed at both the western far-right and simultaneously at the ultra-secular western far-left, has poisoned the anti-war movement against Pakistan. This is all the more reason why Pakistan needs a 24/7 news channel to help dispel these canards.

From Lebanon to Iraq: US-Iran escalation shows no sign of abating

Lina Khatib is the Head of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House.
Both the United States and Iran are sending messages of no compromise to one another
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei greets Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (L) in Tehran on 25 February during a rare visit (AFP)

On Monday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited Tehran, only his third trip abroad since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011, following trips to Russia in 2015 and 2017.

Assad’s Tehran visit is largely symbolic, marking the declared “victory” of his forces with the support of Iran, but it can also be read as part of an escalating American-Iranian showdown that is playing out in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

Iran’s narrative

The visit came shortly after US President Donald Trump declared victory against the Islamic State group (IS). Trump boasted on Twitter that: “We have defeated ISIS”, with the “we” referring to the US-led international anti-ISIS coalition.

Of course, Iran is not part of that coalition, but it has been justifying its own military intervention in Syria as being about countering what it calls “takfiri jihadis”, of which IS is a component. Trump’s statement- indirectly – completely dismisses this Iranian narrative.

Iran is widely viewed in the West as a destabilising force in Syria, even by countries that remain committed to the nuclear deal with Tehran, which the United States withdrew from last year.

Iran – like Russia – firmly believes that IS and other “takfiri” groups are part of an American plot to destabilise the Middle East

Iran-backed militias, led by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah, have been fighting alongside the Syrian Arab army since at least 2012.

Iran’s support has enabled Assad to survive the conflict, although whether Iran would have managed to achieve this outcome without Russia’s own intervention remains questionable.

Iran – like Russia – firmly believes that IS and other “takfiri” groups are part of an American plot to destabilise the Middle East. Both Russia and Iran say they are intervening to stand up to American meddling and to stabilise the region.

American plots

During Assad’s visit, Ayatollah Khamenei praised what he referred to as Syria’s “victory”, presenting it as another example of Iran’s victory – not against IS, but against American “plots” in the Middle East, according to Khamenei. The choice of the word “victory” is a direct response to Trump’s “victory” statement about IS.

US soldiers in Syrian city of Manbij in March 2018(AFP)
While the US is withdrawing its forces from Syria, many are due to be redeployed to the Iraq-Syria border (AFP)

The tension between Iran and the US is not rising in the Syrian context alone. In Iraq, Iran-backed militias from the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) have recently started questioning the continued presence of American troops there now that the Iraqi government has also declared military victory against IS.

Qais al-Khazali, a prominent PMU militia leader and politician, said in an interview with Reuters that he sees no reason for US troops to remain in Iraq.

The tension between Iran and US is not rising in the Syrian context alone. In Iraq, Iran-backed militias have recently started questioning the US presence in the country

PMU fighters have been deploying in larger numbers to the Iraqi-Syrian border, saying they need to be there to support the Iraqi Army in securing the border and preventing an IS resurgence.

Although President Trump announced that the United States is to withdraw all but 400 American troops from Syria, the troops that are leaving Syria are mainly going to be re-deployed in the Ayn al-Assad military base in Iraq near the Syrian border.

Keeping some troops in north-eastern Syria and augmenting the numbers present in Iraq is a way for the United States not just to continue the battle against IS insurgents but also to “watch Iran” from Iraq, as Trump declared in late January.

This was not lost on Khamenei, who declared during Assad’s visit that the US plan to be actively present on the Syria-Iraq border “must be decisively rejected and resisted”.

The escalation in Lebanon

The escalation in US-Iranian tensions also extends to Lebanon. Coinciding with Assad’s Tehran visit, the UK announced on Monday that it was designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation. Previously, the UK had made a distinction between the military and political wings of Hezbollah.

The UK is now following in US footsteps on the status of Hezbollah. UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid has announced that: “We are no longer able to distinguish between the already banned military wing and the political party”, while Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt added that the UK government’s action is a signal that Hezbollah’s “destabilising activities” in the Middle East “are totally unacceptable and detrimental to the UK’s national security”.

Hezbollah: The real winner of the Syrian war?

Read More »

The UK designation comes four months after the US announced it was imposing further sanctions targeting “foreign persons and government agencies that knowingly assist or support Hezbollah and Hezbollah-affiliated networks”, in the words of White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.

Trump emphasised that the Hezbollah sanctions are part of the larger plan to increase pressure on Iran.

Another major event coinciding with Assad’s trip and the UK’s designation of Hezbollah is the surprise resignation of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

Many have linked the timing of his resignation to Assad’s visit to Tehran, which Zarif did not take part in, while noting the prominence of the leader of al-Quds Force and the architect of Iran’s interventions in Syria and Iraq, General Qassem Soleimani, in Assad’s meetings in Tehran.

Soleimani’s rising public profile is an indicator that Iran’s response to pressure by the United States and its allies is going to be in the direction of taking a harder line rather than engaging in international diplomacy regarding its foreign policy and interventions in other countries in the Middle East.

With both the United States and Iran standing firm in sending messages of no compromise to one another, it is likely that the nuclear deal will all but unravel further down the line and that prospects of engaging Iran in diplomatic talks on Syria or other Middle Eastern files are going to be dim.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Assad Says No to US’ Offer

 on 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Advisor to the Iranian Parliament Speaker Hossein Amir Abdollahian said that the Monday visit of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to Tehran was a negative response to Washington’s offer to Damascus to enjoy US’ support for Assad’s lifelong presidency in exchange for cutting ties with Iran.

Amir Abdollahian said on Wednesday that the recent visit of Assad to Tehran foiled enemies’ plots for parting Syria from Iran and Hezbollah.

“The Syrian President’s visit to Tehran bore a hidden yet great message. The visit of Bashar Assad with the Leader and the president of our country at this time was carried out with several goals,” he added.

The first goal was to express congratulations on the 40th anniversary of Islamic Revolution victory and the second was to appreciate the support of the Islamic Republic for the Syrian people during the imposed war on terrorism.

He added that the secret message of the trip was Assad’s response to the Americans’ new political game in which they are trying to convey this message to Assad that they can guarantee his lifetime presidency provided that Damascus distances itself from Iran and Hezbollah.

Assad responded to enemies’ message with a “loud voice” that the Islamic Republic of Iran and Syria, beside their allies, will guard the Resistance Axis and regional peace and security, he noted.

Syrian President paid a one-day visit to Tehran on Monday and held separate meetings with the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Elsewhere, touching upon the issue of Foreign Minister Zarif’s resignation after Assad’s meetings in Tehran, Amir Abdollahian said that some media want to decrease the importance of this historic trip by making false analyses. Enemies want to imply that part of the government did not agree with this visit, he added.

He added that Zarif has continuously welcomed Assad’s trip to Tehran in previous meetings between the officials of the two countries.

Zarif resignation was rejected by President Rouhani and he is now back in the office. Zarif was present in a ceremony to welcome Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan in Tehran on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, senior Iranian legislator Mohammad Dehqan said that Assad’s visit to Tehran indicated the stable situation in Syria and failure of the ISIL terrorist group and their supporters in the region.

“The visit showed internal stability in Syria, failure of the ISIL, the US and Europe in the region and Syria’s loyalty to the causes of the resistance front,” Dehqan said.

“Bashar Assad’s visit to Iran sent this message to the world that the Syrian people have won the proxy war launched by the US and its allies in the region,” he added.

Dehqan said that President Assad came to Iran to reiterate his loyalty to the Islamic Republic of Iran as a pivot of the resistance front and appreciate Ayatollah Khamenei for his supports.

Immediately after arriving in Tehran on Monday, President Assad rushed to meet Ayatollah Khamenei.

During the meeting, Ayatollah Khamenei praised the Syrian nation’s resistance in face of enemies’ plots, and said the key to Syria’s victory as well as the United States and its regional mercenaries’ defeat is the Syrian president and people’s resolve and resistance.

Stressing the necessity for prudence when encountering future plots, the leader said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran regards helping the Syrian government and nation as assisting the Resistance movement, and genuinely takes pride in it.”

Pointing to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s honest stance and staying by the government and the people of Syria from the beginning of the crisis, Ayatollah Khamenei added, “Syria, with its people’s persistence and unity, managed to stand strong against a big coalition of the US, Europe and their allies in the region and victoriously come out of it.”

Considering the victory of the resistance in Syria as the cause for the United States of America’s anger their desperate efforts to hatch new plots, the Supreme Leader made reference to an example and said, “The question of a buffer zone in Syria that the Americans are trying to create is one of their dangerous plots that must be firmly rejected and opposed.”

He counted the US’s plan for having an influential presence Iraq-Syria border as another example of their plots, and said, “Iran and Syria are strategic allies and the identity and power of Resistance depend on their continuous and strategic alliance, because of which, the enemies will not be able to put their plans into action.”

Ayatollah Khamenei referred to a calculation mistake that the enemies made with regard to the matter of Syria, and stated, “Their mistake was that they took Syria for some Arab states; whereas, (even) in those countries, the people’s movement was in favor of the Resistance and in fact, there was an uprising against the US and their mercenaries there.”

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution also highlighted the need for strengthening and developing the religious relations and exchange of religious scholars between Iran and Syria. Emphasizing the importance of maintaining the spirit of resistance and enhancing the power of Syria’s nation and government, Ayatollah Khamenei addressed Syria’s president, by saying “with the resistance you manifested, you have become a hero in the Arab world; and the resistance has gained more power and dignity, thanks to you.”

Syria’s president referred to some analysis that regarded Syria as done, and said, “Iran and Syria have nations who enjoy identity and faith; and today’s achievements although gained by efforts and losses, are surely the outcomes of persistence with the movement of Resistance.

Bashar Al-Assad reminded the huge losses that some countries underwent following their surrendering to the US and stated, “Many countries were submissive to the US and thought that the US determines the world’s fate and future; however resistance by some nations disturbed this false perception.”

Referring to cases of efforts made by US and allies in the region, trying to sow discord among ethnic and religious groups in Syria, the President of Syria went on to say, “These efforts have had reverse results, and today in Syria, the Kurds and nomads have good relations with the government and even some groups that previously had some conflicts and differences with the government, are today cooperating with it, despite what the US and Saudi Arabia desired.”

Assad called strengthening the ties between Syrian and Iranian scholars as an important opportunity for countering Takfiri groups, and maintained, “Iran and Syria should continuously develop their economic relations; because developments of relations will act as an important factor in annulling the enemies’ plots against the two nations.”

Also in his meeting with Assad, President Rouhani referred to Iran’s seriousness for cooperation and helping the Syrian government in the process of reconstruction of Syria and consolidating security and peace in the country, adding, “The Islamic Republic of Iran will stand by the Syrian government and people like before.”

A senior Iranian legislator said that Assad visited Tehran on Monday to ask the country for continued support for Syria and the resistance front.

“Bashar Assad’s visit to Iran was mainly aimed at appreciating the Islamic Republic of Iran and our nation for its efforts and supports and he demanded Iran to remain beside Syria and strengthen the resistance front as this companionship leaves important effects on the regional and international scene,” member of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Seyed Reza Naqavi Hosseini said on Tuesday.

He noted that Iran’s assistance led to the victories in Syria and foiled the US plots.

“Syria had for years been entangled in terrorism and aggressions of countries like the US, Britain, France and the Zionist regime and they clearly interfered in Syria’s affairs and endangered Syria’s territorial integrity and the legal government’s independence,” Naqavi Hosseini said.

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3000 KM GAS PIPELINE FROM RUSSIA TO CHINA 99% COMPLETE

3000 km Gas Pipeline From Russia To China 99% Complete

Construction of its gas pipeline from Russia to China is 99% finished, Russian energy giant Gazprom has announced. According to reports, the company is planning to start delivering gas to China via the Power of Siberia line as early as December 2019.

Gazprom’s Investor Day presentation in Singapore revealed that in 2019 the company is planning to invest about $2.24 billion into the project. The pipeline is set to deliver 38 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas to China annually.

Gazprom and the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) reached a 30-year agreement for gas supplies via the Power of Siberia gas pipeline in 2014. In September 2018, Gazprom reported that the Russian part of the pipeline, running from Yakutia gas production centers to China’s border, was almost complete. The construction of pipeline on Chinese territory is also almost completed.

Cohen’s Explosive Testimony: Trump A Racist, Conman

By Staff

US Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen arrived on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to deliver explosive testimony before a Congressional oversight committee, blasting the US president as a “racist”, a “conman” and a “cheat” who committed wrongdoing as a candidate and as president.

In his opening remarks to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Cohen – who has been sentenced to jail for crimes related in part to his work for Trump – expressed regret for his past loyalty.

“I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience,” Cohen said. “I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is.”

“He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat,” he stated.

“I regret the day I said “yes” to Mr. Trump. I regret all the help and support I gave him along the way,” he said.

“The last time I appeared before Congress, I came to protect Mr. Trump. Today, I’m here to tell the truth about Mr. Trump,” Cohen said.

“Mr. Trump is a racist. The country has seen Mr. Trump court white supremacists and bigots. You have heard him call poorer countries ‘shitholes.’ In private, he is even worse,” Trump’s former lawyer said.

“While we were once driving through a struggling neighborhood in Chicago, he commented that only black people could live that way. And, he told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid,” Cohen recalled.

الفساد :حزب الله يعلن معركته “الوجودية”

الثلاثاء 26 شباط 2019

“ليبانون ديبايت” – علاء الخوري

على مدى أكثر من ثلاثين عاما، لم يدخل حزب الله في معركة صعبة مثل تلك التي دخلها اليوم تحت عنوان “مكافحة الفساد”، هي حرب ليست ككل الحروب الميدانية التي راكمها الحزب منذ انطلاقته في اوائل ثمانينات القرن الماضي، فالأساليب التي سيعتمدها اليوم ستكون جديدة على من حمل السلاح بوجه اسرائيل والارهاب، وتكتيكاتها الحربية لا تعتمد على التضاريس والمقومات البدنية، بل الى اسلحة من نوع آخر ليست في متناول اليد، ويُعول على قدرتها في هزيمة السلوك “المنحرف” للمواطن اللبناني وتربى عليه على مدى عقود.

حزب الله اليوم أمام معركة وامتحان صعب جدا يمكنه أن يفعل ما لم تستطع فعله اسرائيل وغيرها، وهنا كل شيء على “المحك”.. هي معركة “الثقة” التي اختار الحزب أن يخوضها وجها لوجه مع الطبقة السياسية المستحكمة في البلد فهل سيهزمها؟

لن يكون سهلا على السيد حسن نصرالله الخروج من هذه المعركة “خالي الوفاض”، فالسيد أمام الرأي العام اللبناني والعربي وحتى “الاسرائيلي” مصدر ثقة وكلامه صادق ولا يختلف اثنان على أن الرجل عندما أطل على الاعلام مؤكدا البدء بهذه المعركة، كان مدركا للصعوبات التي يواجهها من قبل الاطراف المتورطة والتي جاءت اليوم لتقول انها “في الخندق نفسه”، فكيف سيتصرف ووفق أي قاعدة ومعيار ستكون المحاسبة؟

الخبير الاقتصادي والمالي حسن خليل يؤكد في حديثه لموقع “ليبانون ديبايت” أن الامين العام لحزب الله قرر خوض المعركة بعد اقتناعه بأن فشل القوى بهزيمة حزب الله عسكريا تريد أن تهزمه من خلال “تسويس” البيئة الحاضنة للحزب وهي معركة “استراتيجية ووجودية” بالنسبة لهم، في حين تتحدث الاطراف الاخرى عن محاربة الفساد تلبية لمطالب “سيدر الاصلاحية”، كإقرار قوانين تتعلق بمكافحة الفساد، موضحا أن بعض الاطراف يصوب معركته على الفساد للدخول بالشراكة القائمة بين “التيار الوطني الحر وتيار المستقبل”.

وبالنسبة لخليل فان البعض في البيئة الشيعية متورطين بشكل كبير في الفساد، سائلا: ” هل سيتجرأ حزب الله على تسميتهم؟”، لافتا في السياق الى ان هذا الامر ليس واضحا حتى الان، ولكن في المقابل الحملة التي يقوم بها الحزب في هذا الملف تعني أنه كسر الخطوط الحمر المرسومة، متوقعا في المقابل أن تأتي خطوة “التراجع” من الفاسدين داخل البيئة الشيعية قبل أن يبادر الحزب.

ويستبعد خليل شمول “المحاسبة” كل من تورط في السنوات الماضية ومن يعتقد ذلك يكون “موهوما”، مذكرا بأن السلطتين القضائية والامنية مرهونتين للسياسيين وبالتالي على الحزب أن ينشئ سلطة ردعية بوجه الطبقة السياسية لينجح في المهمة.

لطالما اعتاد اللبناني على “الوعود” التي لم تصل الى نتيجة، وشهد على مسؤولين حملوا “لواء” محاربة الفساد والفاسدين ليتبين لاحقا أنهم رفعوا السقف للدخول الى “جنة الملايين”.

لن يأتي حزب الله بجديد إذا بقي “الكلام على ورق”، يقول مرجع وزاري سابق، لافتا الى ان الجميع يعلم بأسماء الفاسدين والجهات السياسية التي تغطيهم والادارات والمؤسسات التي يعملون بها، مذكرا في السياق بأسماء الضباط الذين احيلوا الى القضاء بتهم رشاوى وفساد، موضحا أن “مستندات” النائب حسن فضل الله لن يكون لها قيمة أمام القضاء في حال لم يتم اتخاذ التدابير السريعة والقبض على المتورطين واصحاب الوظائف الكبيرة لا الاكتفاء بصغار الموظفين.

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Britain and Hezbollah: The House of Commons under “Israeli” Tutelage! بريطانيا وحزب الله: مجلس العموم تحت الوصاية الإسرائيلية!

Britain and Hezbollah: The House of Commons under “Israeli” Tutelage!

By al-Akhbar Newspaper, Translated by Staff

The UK’s Home Secretary Sajid Javid tabled a draft resolution on Tuesday to include Hezbollah’s political wing on the terror list. The issue was debated within the British House of Commons amid a clear split between the conservatives supporting the resolution and some Labor MPs who asked Javid to explain the reasoning behind the move.

It is clear that the British minister of Pakistani origin, who has ties with a lobby of “Israel’s” friends, is seeking to appease Jewish voters in his quest to reach the premiership at Theresa May’s expense as she faces difficulties in the government and within the ruling Conservative Party. After he was appointed home secretary, Javid exclaimed that if he were to live with his children in any country other than Britain, he would choose “Israel”!

Meanwhile, the Labor Party’s position was weak. Its deputies discussed the decision but did not object to it. This comes in light of media campaigns against the party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, which accuse him of anti-Semitism as well as efforts by the pro-“Israel” lobby within Labor itself to divide the party. Diplomatic sources familiar with the Labor Party’s stance described it as “cowardly”, pointing out that “Corbyn is now on the defensive after receiving several blows.”

In their questions posed to the home secretary regarding his decision, a number of Labor MPs relied on a letter sent to them by the Lebanese Embassy in London, which included clarifications. The letter was reportedly sent to more than 250 deputies. It included a detailed explanation that “the wrong decision limits the margin of British action in Lebanon and in the region. Hezbollah is a faction with wide popular representation and represented in parliament, government and municipalities. It is difficult to distinguish it from the general Lebanese public.”

“Hezbollah has never targeted British citizens or British territory, which should be considered as part of the decision making mechanism when it comes proscribing it to terrorist lists, which is supposed to be an objective and fact-based mechanism rather than an arbitrary political decision that does not serve Lebanon or Britain,” the letter added.

On the other hand, the interventions of the conservative MPs appeared to be completely hostile to Hezbollah, involving some false information and lies. One of the MPs claimed that “Hezbollah is attacking Christian refugees in Lebanon!”

The draft resolution will be presented to the House of Lords on Thursday, before returning Friday to the House of Commons for a final decision. In the absence of objections, it is likely to be passed without a vote. In the case that there is an objection, the decision will likely still be approved.

Aside from the activities of the Lebanese Embassy in London, the question is why has the Lebanese state not moved in recent months to communicate with the British government and to sway it from its decision? Lebanon’s foreign mission in London has been sending reports for the past six months regarding preparations for the draft resolution. Hence, the decision could have been avoided or delayed if the necessary efforts were made. All this as the Lebanese government holds the upper hand since the UK needs to sign a trade agreement that will ensure the continued flow of its products to Lebanon after its exit from the European Union.

Meanwhile, the EU High Commissioner for Foreign and Security Policy Federica Mogherini met with senior officials as well as former MP Walid Jumblatt as part of her visit to Lebanon to inaugurate the new EU headquarters in Beirut. Moghrini offered assurances that Lebanon’s relationship with the European Union remains intact.

بريطانيا وحزب الله: مجلس العموم تحت الوصاية الإسرائيلية!

إعلان وزير الداخلية البريطاني ساجيد جافيد عن مشروع قرار لإدراج «الجناح السياسي» لحزب الله على لائحة الإرهاب، كان أمس موضع نقاش داخل مجلس العموم البريطاني، وسط انقسام واضح بين حزب المحافظين الذي يؤيّد المشروع وبعض نواب حزب العمال الذين طالبوا جافيد بشرح الاسباب الموجبة له. وبات واضحاً أن الوزير البريطاني ذا الأصول الباكستانية، فضلاً عن ارتباطه بلوبي أصدقاء إسرائيل، يسعى إلى استرضاء الناخبين اليهود في سعيه للوصول إلى رئاسة الوزراء على حساب تيريزا ماي التي تواجه صعوبات في الحكومة وداخل حزب المحافظين الحاكم. علماً أنه صرح، غداة تعيينه وزيراً للداخلية، إنه لو قدّر له العيش مع أولاده في دولة اخرى غير بريطانيا، لاختار إسرائيل!

في المقابل، جاء موقف حزب العمال هزيلاً. إذ ناقش نوابه القرار لكنهم لم يعترضوا عليه، في ظل حملات إعلامية تخاض ضد رئيس الحزب جيريمي كوربين واتهامه بمعاداة السامية، وأيضاً في ظل حملة انشقاقات داخل «العمال» بتحريض من اللوبي المؤيد لإسرائيل داخل الحزب نفسه. ووصفت مصادر دبلوماسية مطلّعة موقف «العمّال» بـ«الجبان»، مشيرةً إلى أن «كوربين الآن في موقف الدفاع بعد تلقيه عدّة ضربات».

واستند عدد من نوّاب حزب العمّال في مداخلاتهم إلى رسالة وجهتها لهم السفارة اللبنانية في لندن أمس، تضمّنت توضيحات للاستفادة منها في مساءلة وزير الداخلية حول القرار. وبحسب المعلومات، فقد وُجّهت الرسالة الى أكثر من 250 نائباً، وتضمّنت شرحاً تفصيلياً عن أن «القرار الخاطئ يحدّ من هامش تحرك بريطانيا في لبنان والمنطقة، فحزب الله فصيل يتمتع بتمثيل شعبي واسع وممثل في البرلمان والحكومة والبلديات، ويصعب تمييزه عن عموم الشعب اللبناني». وأضافت رسالة السفارة أن «حزب الله لم يسبق أن استهدف مواطنين بريطانيين أو الأراضي البريطانية، مما يعزز الاعتبار السياسي في آلية اتخاذ قرار الإدراج على لوائح الإرهاب، والتي يفترض أن تكون آلية موضوعية ومستندة إلى وقائع، وليس إلى قرار اعتباطي سياسي لا يخدم لبنان ولا بريطانيا». وفي المقابل، بدت مداخلات النواب المحافظين معادية لحزب الله تماماً مع كمّ من المعلومات المغلوطة والأكاذيب، مثل قول أحد النّواب إن

«حزب الله يعتدي على اللاجئين المسيحيين في لبنان»!

المشروع سيطرح غداً على مجلس اللوردات، قبل أن يعود الجمعة إلى مجلس العموم لاتخاذ القرار النهائي. وفي ظلّ عدم الاعتراض عليه، من المرجّح أن يسلك طريقه إلى الإقرار من دون تصويت. أما

في حال الاعتراض، فإنه حكماً سيكون في صالح إقراره.

وبعيداً عن نشاط السفارة اللبنانية، فإن السّؤال هو حول سبب عدم تحرّك الدولة اللبنانية طوال الأشهر الماضية للتواصل مع الحكومة البريطانية وثنيها عن القرار، علماً بأن تقارير السفارة في لندن أفادت منذ ستة أشهر عن التحضيرات لمشروع القرار، وبالتالي كان بالإمكان تفاديه أو تأخيره لو بذلت الجهود اللازمة، مع إمساك الحكومة اللبنانية أوراق قوّة في ضوء حاجة بريطانيا إلى توقيع اتفاقية تجارية تضمن استمرار تدفّق منتجاتها إلى لبنان بعد خروجها من الاتحاد الأوروبي.

وفي السياق نفسه، جالت المفوضة العليا للسياسة الخارجية والامن في الاتحاد الاوروبي فيديريكا موغيريني على المسؤولين، والتقت الرؤساء الثلاثة والنائب السابق وليد جنبلاط، في إطار زيارتها إلى لبنان لافتتاح المقرّ الجديد للاتحاد الأوروبي في بيروت. وحملت تصريحات موغريني تأكيدات على أن علاقة لبنان بالاتحاد الأوروبي ثابتة.

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Iranian, Syrian Top Diplomat Discuss Closer Ties

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February 27, 2019

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Syrian counterpart, Walid al-Moallem, held talks on a range of issues, including the latest efforts to boost strategic relations between the two countries.

In a telephone conversation on Wednesday, Zarif and Moallem also exchanged views about the outcomes of a recent historic visit by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to Tehran.

Assad paid an unannounced visit to Iran and met with Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei in Tehran on Monday.

Speaking at the meeting, the Leader praised the resistance of Syria’s government and people that led to the defeat of Washington and its regional mercenaries.

Ayatollah Khamenei emphasized that the triumph of the resistance front in Syria has made Americans angry and prompted them to hatch new plots, adding, “The issue of the buffer zone, which Americans seek to establish in Syria, is among those dangerous plots that must be categorically rejected and stood against.”

Conflicts erupted in Syria back in 2011, when a small group of opposition forces took up arms against Damascus.

Soon, however, a mix of international terrorists and paid mercenaries mingled with and then largely sidestepped the armed Syrian opposition groups, effectively turning the Arab country into a battlefield for foreign governments opposed to Assad.

But the Syrian military, with advisory military help from Iran and Russia — and a Russian aerial bombardment campaign — has retaken control of much of the country, and the conflict is generally believed to be winding down.

Source: Tasnim News Agency

Russia Slides Towards Internal Political Crisis (MUST SEE SouthFront video report!)

Source

February 26, 2019

Saker note: a rather harsh criticism of the Russian Government and the Kremlin in this SouthFront analysis.  Sadly, I cannot say that I disagree with what they say.  In fact, I think that they are spot on and that all the “loyal” Kremlin-bots who deny that there is a serious problem in Russia are wrong.  Supporting Vladimir Putin’s struggle to truly make Russia sovereign again and built a new multi-polar world does not at all entail being blind to all the very real mistakes and even faults of the Russian government.  I can only say that I hope that SF is right and that the current lack of support of the Russian people of the government’s neo-liberal/capitalist policies will force Putin to correct the course and return to the kind of social policies the Russian people clearly want.  It is also high time for Russia to take a harsher stance on the Ukraine, if only because the situation in the Ukraine (political and economic) is a total disaster and because some kind of military escalation in the Ukraine seems inevitable.  All in all, yet another absolutely superb report by SouthFront who sober analysis contrasts favorably with what both flag-wavers and fear-mongers typically produce.

https://southfront.org/wp-content/plugins/fwduvp/content/video.php?path=https%3A%2F%2Fsouthfront.org%2Finternal-political-crisis-russia%2F&pid=1583

Transcript:

This is a critical look at the situation in Russia. The video is based on an article of one of our readers and additional data.

The Russia of 2019 is in a complicated economic and even political situation. Smoldering conflicts near its borders amid continued pressure from the US and NATO affect the situation in the country negatively. This is manifested in society and in national politics. The approval rating of the Russian government and personally of President Vladimir Putin has been decreasing.

According to VCIOM, a state pollster, in January 2019, Putin’s confidence rating was only 32.8%. This is 24% less than in January 2018 when it was 57.2%. At the same time, the confidence rating of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was 7.8%. The approval rating of his cabinet is 37.7% while the disapproval rating is 38.7%. Opposition sources show data, which is far worse for the current Russian leadership.

This tendency is not linked to the foreign policy course of the Kremlin. Rather, it’s the result of the recent series of liberal-minded economic reforms, which look similar to the approaches exercised by the Russian government in the mid-1990s. The decision to increase Value Added Tax amid the slowing Russian economy, especially in the industrial sector, and a very unpopular pension reform increasing the retirement age were both factors contributing to the further growth of discontent in the population.

Russia’s GDP increased by 2.3% in 2018 compared to 1.6% in 2017. However, the Ministry of Economic Development, in its document entitled “Economic Picture” stated that this is linked to “one-time factors” and is not “stable”. The ministry maintained its earlier forecast stating that GDP growth in 2019 will be 1.3%. It confirmed increasing capital outflow. In this case, the repayment of funds to Western creditors by the Russian private sector is one of the causes.

The Ministry of Economic Development also pointed out that the expendable income of the population decreased by 0.2%. Statutory charges, including the increased taxes, are named as one of the reasons. The document says that statutory charges grew by 14.8% in 2018.

Additionally, the population is facing an increasingly restrictive administrative pressure: new fines and other penalties for minor violations in various fields and additional administrative restrictions limiting the freedom of actions of citizens. Restrictive traffic management of big cities, increasing fees for using federal highways as well as policies that are de-facto aimed at small business and self-employed persons are among its landmarks.

Meanwhile the general population has no effective levers of pressure to affect or correct government policy. The public political sphere has become a desert. United Russia (Edinaya Rossiya) is the only political party still de—facto existing in public politics. By now its ideological and organizational capabilities have become exhausted. Other “political parties and organizations” are just media constructs designed to defend the interests of a narrow group of their sponsors. It is hard to find a lawmaker in the State Duma or the Federation Council, who is not affiliated with the cliquish top political elite and oligarch clans.

In the media sphere, the government has failed to explain its current course to the population. A vast majority of the initiatives of Medvedev’s cabinet face a negative reaction from the population. A spate of scandals involving high and middle level government officials made the situation even worse. These cases revealed blatant hypocrisy and the neglectful attitude to duties of some Russian officials.

Some of the officials even became heroes of nationwide memes. Probably, the most prominent of these heroes are Minister of Labour and Employment of the Saratov region Natalia Sokolova and Head of Department for Youth Policy in the Sverdlov Region Olga Glatskikh.

Sokolova advised Russian pensioners to eat “makaroshki” [a derogatory term for maccheroni] to save money and to thus become able to survive on the subsistence minimum of 3,500 RUB [about 50 USD] per month.

“You will become younger, prettier and slimmer! Makaroshki cost is always the same!”, she said during a meeting of the regional parliamentary group on social policy in October 2018 adding that discounted products can be used to create a “balanced, but dietic” menu.

Glatskikh became a meme hero thank to her meeting with young volunteers during the same month. Commenting on the possible financing of youth projects, she told volunteers that the government did not ask their parents “to give birth” to them. So, they should expect nothing from the state.

In the period from 2018 to 2019, there were multiple arrests of officials caught exceeding the limits of their authority and being involved in corruption schemes. In comparison to previous periods, this number had increased by 1.5-2 times. The most recent detention took place right in the Parliament building on January 30. A 32-year-old senator, Rauf Arashukov, is suspected of being a member of a criminal group involved in the 2010 murders of two people and in pressuring a witness to one of the killings. On the same day, authorities detained his father, an adviser to the chief executive of a Gazprom subsidiary, Raul Arashukov. He is suspected of embezzling natural gas worth 30 billion rubles ($450 million).

However, these actions do not appear to be enough to change the established media situation. After a large-scale corruption scandal in the Ministry of Defense in 2012, which led to almost no consequences for key responsible persons including former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, who even continued his carrier in state-linked corporation Rostec. The general public has serious reservations about any real success of anti-corruption efforts.

The aforementioned factors fuel the negative perception of the Medvedev government and Vladimir Putin as the head of state among Russian citizens.

The 2014 events in Crimea showed to the Russian population that its state is ready to defend the interests of the nation and those who describe themselves as Russians even by force of arms. This was the first case when this approach was openly employed in the recent history of Russia. Therefore, the population was enthusiastic and national pride was on the rise. However, the Kremlin failed to exploit these gained opportunities and did not use them to strengthen the Russian state. In fact, up to February 2019, the policy towards eastern Ukraine has been inconsistent. At the same time, Moscow continues to lose its influence in post-Soviet states. This can be observed in both the Caucasus and Central Asia. Even, their close ally, Belarus, occasionally demonstrates unfriendly behavior and focuses its own efforts on the exploitation of economic preferences granted by Russia.

Evaluating the current internal political situation in Russia and its foreign policy course, it’s possible to say that the Russian leadership has lost its clear vision of national development and a firm and consistent policy, which are needed for any great power. Another explanation of this is that the Russian leadership is facing pressure from multiple agents of influence, which stand against vision of a powerful independent state seeking to act as one of the centers of power on the global stage. One more factor, often pointed out by experts, is the closed crony-caste system of elites. This system led to the creation of a leadership, which pursues its own narrow clannish interests. Apparently, all of these factors influence Russian foreign and domestic policies in one way or another.

The aforementioned large-scale anti-corruption campaign, regarding the people’s show-me attitude towards its result, could be a sign of a new emerging trend, which would lead to a purge of the corrupt elites and to strategic changes in Russian domestic policy.

It is highly likely that Russia will face hard times in the next two years (2019-2020) and face various threats and challenges to its economy, foreign policy course and even to its statehood.

Pakistan’s Restrained Self-Defence is a Wake-up Call to an International Community That Continues to Ignore Kashmir

By Adam Garrie
Source

Two jets down 

This morning, in broad daylight, Pakistan downed two Indian fighter jets which had breached Pakistani airspace. One of the jets landed in Indian occupied Kashmir (IOK) and one landed in Pakistan’s Azad Jammu and Kashmir province.

Subsequent to the downing of the jets, two Indian pilots were taken into custody. One is currently receiving medial treatment.

Why it happened in a specific sense

According to Pakistan armed forces spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor, today’s action taken in the morning light, was a necessary and non-lethal effort which demonstrates that Pakistan will never tolerate any illegal infringements of its air space as was witnessed today and moreover as occurred during yesterday’s attempted but ultimately failed Indian aerial assault on Pakistani territory.

Speaking at a press conference Major General Ghafoor further elaborated on the situation as follows:

“Pakistan’s armed forces have capability, will, resolve and nation’s support. But because we are a responsible state and want peace, we decided first of all that we won’t take any military targets.

Secondly we decided that there be no loss of life or collateral damage in our engaging of targets.

Our planes locked targets, then in open air we carried out strikes. We locked all targets with accuracy, and when we had option to fire, we acted responsibly from a safe distance. We have capability to do anything, but we don’t want escalation. We don’t want to go towards war”.

Why it happened in a wider sense 

Although the Kashmir crisis has burnt since 1947 and has been rapidly escalating into a major human rights crisis since 1989 in particular, the international community has come to ignore the Kashmir crisis more so than just about any other lingering conflict on the planet. By contrast, the Israel-Palestine conflict, wars against Daesh terrorism in the Arab world and even elements of the ongoing civil conflicts in Myanmar, tend to receive far more international attention.

As a result, India has been able to act with impunity against the people of occupied Kashmir, while India’s narrative which blames Pakistan for inciting a resistance to occupation that has in reality been incited by India’s own policies in occupied Kashmir – is rarely challenged outside of Pakistan.

The reason this reality has come about is because of the fact that in today’s age of modern warfare, there is little chance that a conventional war between India and Pakistan would directly impact the security of any other nation. In this sense, the vastness of the wider south Asian space has given the wider world a convenient excuse to ignore the crisis, with the noble exception of Turkey.

As such, whilst China refuses Indian calls to scapegoat Pakistan and label local groups as “international terrorist groups”, China nevertheless does not want to risk a further deterioration of its relations with India by taking a firm stance on the Kashmir issue. For the United States that in recent years has pivoted closer to India and further away from Pakistan, Washington seeks to balance its rhetorical support of the Indian narrative against a desire not to totally alienate a Pakistani state that even Donald Trump now realises is required to secure any lasting and meaningful peace process in Afghanistan. Finally, whilst Russia tries to maintain its strong Cold War bond with India whilst also availing itself of opportunities that a Pakistani partnership presents, Russia tends to say as little as possible while at times, an historic pro-India basis is still detectable.

As such, when Pakistan is faced with a large Indian neighbour that seems unchecked in its arrogance and its willingness to use military force in order to engender domestic political gain for the ruling BJP, there is no choice for Pakistan but to demonstrate its material capacity for self-defence.

This is why Pakistan did not attack India under the cover of night, but instead used its military power to actively punish Indian jets that had violated Pakistani airspace with utter impunity. Pakistan wants the world to see the situation for what it is. Beyond this, the only way to break this cycle is for India to realise that bullying a geographically smaller but still nuclear armed neighbour, is totally unacceptable and that moreover, the root cause of all hostility between India and Pakistan is the fact that New Delhi refuses to grant Kashmiris their UN mandated plebiscite on political self-determination.

A wake up call for the rest of the world 

Almost every country in the world has issued a statement on the Israel-Palestine conflict at one time or another. Similarly, the US continues to criticise the Chinese and Russian military superpowers. China makes very firm statements criticising the US when it violates China’s maritime rights in the South China Sea, Iran and Israel constantly criticise one another, Russia constantly criticises the military policies of the United States – and yet this same international community continues to fall silent on the Kashmir issue, in spite of the fact that Kashmir’s crisis is the sole cause of tensions between nuclear neighbours in south Asia.

In this sense, the wider world ought to listen to the following statement, also given at this morning’s press conference by Major General Asif Ghafoor:

“The state, government, armed forces and people of Pakistan have always conveyed a message of peace to India. The road to peace goes through dialogue. Both countries have the capability and capacity but war is the failure of policy which India needs to understand. We do not want to escalate and follow a path which leads to peace. The people of both countries and region at large have a right to live and live in peace. War is not the solution to problems. India should think with a cool head on this offer from Pakistan”.

Conclusion 

Both India, its traditional partners and other major members of the international community must think with a cool head on Pakistan’s offer. Pakistan’s doors to dialogue continue to remain open, but likewise, Pakistan will always respond robustly to any acts of provocation committed by any of its neighbours. If the world truly cares about peace, the international community must tackle this matter at its root. This is to say, the international community that for decades has ignored Kashmir, must cease to do so.

Balakot and Batgram

Spearhead Analysis – 27.02.2019
Source

Pulwama happened and even a moron could connect two dots and decide that its roots lay in India’s disastrous policy in Kashmir. PM Modi (no doubt assisted by his National Security Adviser) jumped the gun, mounted his bandwagon and made the hare-brained unilateral determination (without an investigation) that Pakistan was behind the attack. He also committed India to retaliation closing the door to any deniable response. The die was well and truly cast. The world ignored the mounting evidence of linkage behind the Pulwama and Zahedan attacks and the conclusion that India was the sole beneficiary of the two linked attacks.

India’s retaliation (that is now being seen as a damp squib) came in the form of a pre-dawn attack by Mirage 2000 aircraft loaded with bombs from India’s Avantipura base. The bomb load clearly indicates the intention to bomb an area target and in this case it turned out to be an open area near Village Jabba close to Balakot in Pakistan’s KPK province. Did the pilots have wrong coordinates or was an area chosen, rather than a specific target, to lessen the impact of the attack hoping that Pakistan would not respond and India’s baying Hindu population and its frenzied media would be satisfied. The problem is that India chose a target area outside the disputed Kashmir area well within Pakistan. Pakistan’s interceptors responded and their rapid response has led to the perception that the Indian pilots exited hastily jettisoning their bombs. What was meant to be a retaliation to Pulwama turned out to be a disaster and within the Indian Armed Forces the feeling grew that they had been used for political purposes with no strategic or even tactical goal assigned. The only success for India was that it did not lose a Mirage in the attack because its pilots hightailed it out quickly. Subsequent press conferences and briefings by Indian officials have been confusing but the people and the media celebrated without restraint till reality began to kick in.

India’s second intrusion into Pakistani airspace came today with MIG 21 aircraft. It came in response to Pakistan’s carefully calibrated standoff early morning air attacks on six infrastructure targets in IOK— carefully selected to avoid human casualties. Pakistan Air Force (no doubt flying CAP-Combat Air Patrol Missions) swooped on the MIG 21 aircraft and shot down both aircraft. One fell on the Pakistan side of the LOC and Pakistan claims three pilots captured. The other aircraft fell in IOK and apparently the pilot was killed. India had perhaps decided to make cross border air intrusions and attacks a regular feature of its coercive policy on the LOC—that was so far restricted to cease fire violations on the ground. Pakistan’s measured response has put paid to any such policy and also signaled its competence and capacity as well its desire not to escalate to war. The DGISPR made this clear in his briefing.

What India does after this incident is unclear but another facet of the situation is the post- Pulwama crackdown in IOK that is inflicting unbelievable atrocities on the Kashmiris presaging a major upheaval in the valley. India’s economic attraction may have shut the world’s eyes to the gross human rights violations by India but the escalation of state sponsored terror in IOK and subsequent irresponsible actions could lead to a conflict that in the Pakistani PM’s words ‘no one could predict how it would end”.

Pakistan has rightly stated that all it is doing is defending. After the Balakot bomb run Pakistan had reserved the right to respond at a time and place of its choosing. And it responded responsibly through carefully calibrated attacks from within its territory and within IOK. Now with Indian aggression fully exposed and its policy in tatters Pakistan does not have to respond further and it can keep its right to respond reserved for the time being. The Indians have had their celebration and just as they were basking in the after-glow they have been given a dose of reality. It is time for introspection in India. It is time for diplomacy to kick in so that madness does not take over. Rein in the media. Educate public opinion. Listen to the voices advocating sanity. It is easy to plunge into the abyss but you cannot climb back out. Pakistan has again offered unconditional dialogue to defuse the situation and set the scene for regional stability. The world needs to support Pakistan especially as it moves to eradicate militancy from its soil in its own interest.

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