MBS: Despot in The Desert

July 31, 2022 

Nicolas Pelham- The Economist

No one wanted to play football with Muhammad bin Salman. Sure, the boy was a member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family, but so were 15,000 other people. His classmates preferred the company of his cousins, who were higher up the assumed order of succession, a childhood acquaintance recalls. As for the isolated child who would one day become crown prince, a family friend recounts hearing him called “little Saddam”.

Home life was tricky for bin Salman, too (he is now more commonly known by his initials, [MBS]. His father, Salman, already had five sons with his first wife, an educated woman from an elite urban family. MBS’s mother, Salman’s third wife, was a tribeswoman. When MBS visited the palace where his father lived with his first wife, his older half-brothers mocked him as the “son of a Bedouin”. Later, his elder brothers and cousins were sent to universities in America and Britain. The Bedouin offspring of Prince Salman stayed in Riyadh to attend King Saud University.

As young adults, the royals sometimes cruised on superyachts together; MBS was reportedly treated like an errand boy, sent onshore to buy cigarettes. A photo from one of these holidays shows a group of 16 royals posing on a yacht-deck in shorts and sunglasses, the hills of the French Riviera behind them. In the middle is MBS’s cousin, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a billionaire investor dubbed “the Arabian Warren Buffett”. MBS, tall and broad-shouldered in a white t-shirt, is pushed to the farthest edge.

Fast forward to today, and MB has moved to the center of the frame, the most important decision-maker in Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy but MBS’s 86-year-old father, though nominally head of state, is rarely seen in public anymore. It has been clear for several years that MBS is in charge. “In effect,” a former Saudi intelligence agent told me, “King Salman is no longer king.”

At first glance the 36-year-old prince looks like the ruler many young Saudis had been waiting for, closer in age to his people than any previous king – 70% of the Saudi population is under 30. The millennial autocrat is said to be fanatical about the video game “Call of Duty”: he blasts through the inertia and privileges of the mosque and royal court as though he were fighting virtual opponents on screen.

His restless impatience and disdain for convention have helped him push through reforms that many thoughts wouldn’t happen for generations. The most visible transformation of Saudi Arabia is the presence of women in public where once they were either absent or closely guarded by their husband or father. There are other changes, too. Previously, the kingdom offered few diversions besides praying at the mosque; today you can watch Justin Bieber in concert, sing karaoke or go to a Formula 1 race. A few months ago, I even went to a rave in a hotel….

But embracing Western consumer culture doesn’t mean embracing Western democratic values: it can as easily support a distinctively modern, surveillance state. On my recent trips to Saudi Arabia, people from all levels of society seemed terrified about being overheard voicing disrespect or criticism, something I’d never seen there before. “I’ve survived four kings,” said a veteran analyst who refused to speculate about why much of Jeddah, the country’s second-largest city, is being bulldozed: “Let me survive a fifth.”

The West, beguiled by promises of change and dependent on Saudi oil, at first seemed prepared to ignore MBS’s excesses. Then, in late 2018, Saudi officials in Istanbul murdered a Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi, and dismembered his body with a bone saw. Even the most pro-Saudi leaders turned away.

…. After Putin invaded Ukraine in February, the price of crude shot up. Boris Johnson was on a plane within weeks. Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, previously a sworn enemy of the crown prince, embraced MBS in Riyadh in April. War even forced America’s president into a humiliating climbdown. On the campaign trail in 2020 Joe Biden had vowed to turn Saudi Arabia into a “pariah”. But on July 15th he went to make his peace with MBS– trying to avoid shaking MBS’s hand, he instead opted for a fist bump that left the two looking all the chummier. Even critics at home acknowledged MBs’s victory. “He made Biden look weak,” said a Saudi columnist in Jeddah. “He stood up to a superpower and won before the world.”

For MBS, this is a moment of triumph. His journey from the fringe of a photograph to the heart of power is almost complete. He will probably be king for decades. During that time, his country’s oil will be needed to sate the world’s enduring demand for energy.

A kingdom where the word of one man counts for so much depends utterly on his character. The hope is that, with his position secure, MBS will forswear the vengefulness and intolerance that produced Khashoggi’s murder. But some, among them his childhood classmates, fear something darker. They are reminded of the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, a one-time modernizer who became so addicted to accumulating power that he turned reckless and dangerous. “At first power bestows grandeur,” a former Western intelligence officer told me, of MBS. “But then comes the loneliness, suspicion and fear that others will try to grab what you grabbed.”

During the early years of MBS’s ascent, I was vaguely aware of him as one prince among many. I probably wouldn’t have paid him much attention if an old contact of mine hadn’t joined his staff. His new boss, my contact said, was serious about shaking things up. He arranged the meeting at a faux-ancient mud-brick village on the outskirts of Riyadh in 2016. As my Economist colleagues and I approached, the gates of MBS’s compound suddenly slid open, like a Bond-villain’s lair. In the inner chamber sat MBS.

Reform has often been promised in Saudi Arabia – usually in response to American hectoring – but successive kings lacked the mettle to push change through. When the Al-Saud conquered Arabia in the 1920s, they made an alliance with an ultra-conservative religious group called the Wahhabis. In 1979, after a group of religious extremists staged a brief armed takeover of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the Al-Saud decided to make the kingdom more devout to fend off a possible Islamic revolution, as had just happened in Iran. Wahhabi clerics were empowered to run society as they saw fit.

The Wahhabis exercised control through the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, otherwise known as the religious police. They whacked the ankles of women whose hair poked through their veil and lashed the legs of men who wore shorts. The arrangement suited the House of Saud. Wahhabism provided social control and gave legitimacy to the Saudi state, leaving the royals free to enjoy their oil wealth in the more permissive environments of London and Paris, or behind the gates of their palaces.

I’m loth to admit it now, but as the prince talked in Riyadh about his plans to modernize society and the economy, I was impressed by his enthusiasm, vision and command of the details. He gave what turned out to be accurate answers about how and when his reforms would happen. Though he was not yet crown prince, he frequently referred to Saudi Arabia as “my” country. We arrived at around 9pm. At 2am, MBS was still in full flow.

MBS was affable, self-assured, smiling. His advisers were more subdued. If they spoke at all, it was to robotically repeat their master’s lines. Yet when MBS left the room to take a call, they started chatting animatedly. As the prince re-entered, silence fell.

Like many in those early years, I was excited about what MBS might do for the kingdom. When I returned to the capital a few months later I saw a number of men wearing shorts. I kept looking over my shoulder for the religious police, but none came – they had been stripped of their powers of arrest.

As crown prince, MBS introduced a code of law so that judicial sentencing accords with state guidelines, not a judge’s own interpretation of the Koran. He criminalized stoning to death and forced marriage. The most overt change involved the role of women. MBS attacked guardianship laws that prevented women from working, travelling, owning a passport, opening a business, having hospital treatment or divorcing without approval from a male relative. In practice, many Saudi women have found these new rights hard to claim in a patriarchal society, and men can still file claims of disobedience against female relatives. But MBS’s reforms were more than cosmetic. Some clerics were jailed; the rest soon fell into line.

For foreigners, Riyadh is less forbidding these days. “I’m afraid I’ll be caught for not drinking,” a teetotal businessman told me. “There’s cocaine, alcohol and hookers like I haven’t seen in southern California,” says another party-goer. “It’s really heavy-duty stuff”.

When MBS first entered public life, he had a reputation for being as strait-laced as his father, rare among royals. That quickly changed. Many of the people interviewed for this article said that they believe MBS frequently uses drugs, which he denies. A court insider says that in 2015 his friends decided that he needed some r&r on an island in the Maldives. According to investigative journalists Bradley Hope and Justin Scheck in their book “Blood and Oil”, 150 models were recruited to join the gathering and were then shuttled “by golf cart to a medical center to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases”. Several international music stars were flown in, including Afrojack, a Dutch dj. Then the press blew MBS cover.

Thereafter, the prince preferred to unwind off the Red Sea coast. At weekends his entourage formed a flotilla by mooring their yachts around his, Serene, which has a driving range and a cinema. According to a former official, “dj MBS”, as his friends called him, would spin the discs wearing his trademark cowboy hat. The yacht is only one of the luxuries MBS has splurged on. He also bought a £230m ersatz French chateau near Versailles, built in 2008 (the meditation room doubles as an aquarium). He is said to have boasted that he wanted to be the first trillionaire.

We put these and other allegations in this article to MBS’s representatives. Through the Saudi embassy in London, they issued a broad denial, saying “the allegations are denied and are without foundation.”

MBS’s loosening of social mores reflects the values of many of his youthful peers, in Saudi and beyond – as does his taste for the flashier side of life. Yet despite the social revolution, the prince is no keener than Wahhabi clerics on letting people think for themselves. Shortly before lifting a ban on women driving in 2018, MBS’s officials imprisoned Loujain al-Hathloul, one of the leaders of the campaign for women’s rights. Her family say jailers waterboarded and electrocuted her, and that Saud al-Qahtani, one of MBS’s closest advisers, was present during her torment and threatened to rape her. [A un investigation found reasonable grounds to believe that Qahtani was involved in the torture of female activists. Qahtani allegedly told one of these women: “I’ll do whatever I like to you, and then I’ll dissolve you and flush you down the toilet.”] Hathloul was charged with inciting change to the ruling system. The message was clear: only one person was allowed to do that.

MBS is ruthlessly ambitious – he reportedly loved reading about Alexander the Great as a teenager – but he also owes his rise to some extraordinary twists of fortune. Succession can be an unpredictable affair in Saudi Arabia. The monarchy is only two generations old, founded in 1932, and the crown has so far moved from brother to brother among the founding ruler’s sons. That has become harder as the prospective heirs age. MBS’s father wasn’t tipped to be king, but after his two older brothers died unexpectedly in 2011 and 2012, he was catapulted up the line of succession.

When Salman became the heir-designate aged 76, he needed a chief of staff. Most courtiers expected him to choose one of the suave, English-speaking children of his first wife. Instead he appointed a son who spoke Arabic with a guttural Bedouin accent. [MBS has learned English fast since then: when we met in 2016 he sometimes corrected his translator.]

The choice to elevate MBS was less surprising to those who knew his father well. Salman had dedicated himself to his job as governor of Riyadh rather than chasing more lucrative commissions, and was a stickler for 8am starts, even in his 70s. He was known as the family disciplinarian, not averse to giving wayward royals a thwack with his walking stick or even a spell in his private prison. He clearly saw something of himself in his sixth son. MBS might love video games, but he was also a hard worker and keen to advance.

MBS put few limits on what he was prepared to do to achieve control. He earned the nickname Abu Rasasa – father of the bullet – after widespread rumors that he sent a bullet in the post to an official who ruled against him in a land dispute [Saudi officials have previously denied this rumor]. He was fearsome in private, too. “There are these terrible tempers, smashing up offices, trashing the palace,” says a source with palace connections. “He’s extremely violent.” Several associates describe him as having wild mood swings. Two former palace insiders say that, during an argument with his mother, he once sprayed her ceiling with bullets. According to multiple sources and news reports, he has locked his mother away.

It’s hard to say how many wives he has; officially, there’s just one, a glamorous princess called Sara bint Mashour, but courtiers say he has at least one more. MBS presents his family life as normal and happy: earlier this year he told the Atlantic magazine that he eats breakfast with his children each morning [he has three boys and two girls, according to Gulf News – the eldest is said to be 11]. One diplomat spoke of MBS’s kindness to his wife. But other sources inside the royal circle say that, on at least one occasion, Princess Sara was so badly beaten by her husband that she had to seek medical treatment.

We put this and other allegations in this piece to MBS’s representatives, who described them as “plain fabrication”, adding that “the kingdom is unfortunately used to false allegations made against its leadership, usually based on politically [or other] motivated malicious sources, particularly discredited individuals who have a long record of fabrications and baseless claims.”

MBS finally got a taste of political power in 2015 when Salman became king. Salman appointed his son deputy crown prince and minister of defense. One of MBS’s first moves was to launch a war in neighboring Yemen. Even America, the kingdom’s closest military ally, was told only at the last minute.

There was an obvious obstacle in MBS’s path to the throne: his cousin, the 57-year-old heir-designate, Muhammad bin Nayef. Bin Nayef was the intelligence chief and the kingdom’s main interlocutor with the CIA. He was widely credited with stamping out al-Qaeda in Saudi after 9/11. In June 2017 bin Nayef was summoned to meet the elderly king at his palace in Mecca.

The story of what happened next has emerged from press reports and my interviews. It seems that bin Nayef arrived by helicopter and took the lift to the fourth floor. Instead of the monarch, MBS’sagents were waiting. Bin Nayef was stripped of his weapons and phone, and told that a royal council had dismissed him. He was left alone to consider his options. Seven hours later, a court videographer filmed the charade of MBS kissing his cousin, then accepting his abdication as crown prince. King Salman kept a back seat throughout. Bin Nayef is now in detention [his uncle, who also had a claim to the throne, apparently intervened to try and protect bin Nayef, but was himself later detained]. The staged resignation – an old trick of Saddam Hussein’s – would become MBS’s signature move.

That was just the warm-up act. In October 2017 MBS hosted an international investment conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh. At “Davos in the desert”, the likes of Christine Lagarde, Son Masayoshi and other business glitterati listened to MBS’s pitch for Saudi Arabia’s post-oil future, including the construction of Neom, a new $500bn “smart city”. The event was a hit. Diplomatic grumblings about the war in Yemen or the fate of America’s security partner, Muhammad bin Nayef, faded.

The gathering was also an opportunity to invite back royals who were often abroad. Once the foreigners had left, MBS pounced. Hundreds of princes and businessmen were swept up. According to a biography of MBS by Ben Hubbard, a New York Times journalist, one of them realized something was amiss only when they got to their hotel room: there were no pens, razors or glasses – nothing that could be used as a weapon.

MBS held the detainees in the Ritz-Carlton for several weeks [the Marriott and other hotels were also commandeered to house the overflow]. Prisoners’ phones were confiscated. Some were said to have been hooded, deprived of sleep and beaten until they agreed to transfer money and hand over an inventory of their assets. All told, MBS’s guests at the Ritz-Carlton coughed up about $100bn.

Even royals previously thought untouchable, such as the powerful prince who ran the national guard, got similar treatment. Princess Basma, the youngest child of the second king of Saudi Arabia, was jailed for three years without charge or access to a lawyer; after being released she still had to wear an electronic ankle bracelet, according to a close associate of hers.

The crushing of the royals and business elite was billed as a crackdown on corruption – and undoubtedly it netted many corruptly acquired assets, which MBS said would be returned to the Saudi treasury. The methods, however, looked more like something from a gangster film than a judicial procedure.

Interrogations were overseen by Saud al-Qahtani, who reported directly to MBS whenever a detainee broke and gave out their bank details. [All the allegations in this piece concerning Qahtani were put to him via his lawyer. No response was given.] Qahtani had installed himself as one of MBS’s favored henchmen, though earlier in his career, he’d plotted against Salman and his son, trying to sideline them with rumors that Salman had dementia. Qahtani was so loyal to the former faction that he’d named his son after his then boss. According to a former courtier, on the day of the old king’s funeral the two men had it out: MBS slapped Qahtani in the face. Later, MBS let Qahtani prove his worth and brought him on to his staff. Qahtani duly named his younger son Muhammad.

On paper, Qahtani was a communications adviser, a former journalist who understood Twitter and used an army of bots and loyal followers to intimidate critics on social media [his office included giant screens and holograms that staff used for target-practice with laser guns]. In practice he was entrusted with MBS’s most important and violent missions – the ones that established his grip on power.

His remit extended far beyond Saudi’s borders. In 2016 he kidnapped Prince Sultan, a minor royal who had been bad-mouthing MBS. MBS offered his jet to fly Sultan from Paris to Cairo – instead, the plane was diverted to Saudi Arabia. According to Hope’s and Scheck’s book, Qahtani posed as Captain Saud, an airline pilot, though surprisingly one who had an expensive Hublot watch.

Even people who have nothing to do with politics have become afraid to speak near a functioning mobile phone

With rendition strategies like this, and the cash tap shut off, even royals who weren’t inside the Ritz-Carlton felt the pressure to divest themselves of ostentatious assets. The father of the Saudi ambassador to Britain put Glympton Park, his beloved 2,000-acre estate in the Cotswolds, up for sale. Riyadh’s jewellers did a roaring trade pawning the diamonds of lesser royals. “It’s like the Romanovs selling their Fabergé eggs,” said an adviser to an auction house.

Many commoners rejoiced at the downfall of their entitled elite. Princes and princesses who once lived off huge handouts began looking for jobs. Their titles became irrelevant. Unable to afford the cost of irrigation, their green ranches became desert again. Banks turned them away. One financial adviser recalled his response to princes trying to get credit on the strength of their royal status: “You call yourselves princes, but they say there’s only one prince now.”

The Ritz-Carlton episode was just one element of an extraordinary project of centralization. MBS yanked control of various security services back from the princes. He took charge of Aramco, the semi-autonomous state oil company. He installed himself as boss of the sovereign-wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund. “He destroyed all the powerful families,” says a retired diplomat. By late 2017, law, money and security in Saudi all flowed directly from him.

Among those who lost out were the fellow princes who had pushed a young MBS to the edge of the family photo on the yacht all those years ago. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, in the center of that shot, surrendered part of his $17bn wealth. As the shakedown widened, MBS’s elder half-siblings put up their yacht for sale. Many of his cousins were locked up. “Payback time,” one victim said.

While MBS was squeezing the elite at home, he was forging some important friendships abroad.

MBS and Donald Trump, who was elected president in 2016, had a lot in common. Both had the hunger of the underdog and loathed the snooty policymaking establishments in their countries; they reveled in provocation. The historic compact, by which Saudi Arabia provided oil to American consumers and America guaranteed the country’s security, had frayed in recent years. Barack Obama’s hurried exit from Iraq in 2011 and his nuclear deal with Iran in 2015 had left Saudi Arabia worried that it could no longer rely on American protection. America’s development of its own shale-oil reserves had also reduced its dependence on Saudi oil. Then Trump and MBS got cozy.

With the Trump administration’s tacit [and sometimes explicit] support, MBS set about treating the entire Middle East much as he did Saudi Arabia, trying to push aside rulers whom he found to be inconvenient. He announced a blockade of Qatar, a tiny gas-rich state to the east of Saudi Arabia. In 2017, angered by Lebanon’s dealings with Iran, MBS invited the prime minister, Saad Hariri, a long-time beneficiary of Saudi patronage, on a starlit camping trip. Hariri turned up, had his phone confiscated and soon found himself reading out a resignation speech on tv.

Both moves ultimately backfired. But Trump’s Middle East adviser, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, did little to discourage such antics. Together, he and MBS dreamt up a new regional order over WhatsApp, calling each other “Jared” and “Muhammad”. Their rapport was so great that, at Kushner’s prompting, MBS started the process of recognizing “Israel”. His father, still officially king, put a stop to that.

MBS visited America in March 2018, hanging out in Silicon Valley with Peter Thiel and Tim Cook, and meeting celebrities, including Rupert Murdoch, James Cameron and Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson. Many people were keen to meet the man who controlled a $230bn sovereign-wealth fund. To his frustration, they were less willing to reciprocate by investing in the kingdom.

That October the intercontinental bonhomie came to an abrupt halt. I was due to go to a conference in Turkey that month. A Saudi journalist I knew, Jamal Khashoggi, got in touch to suggest meeting up: he was also going to be in Istanbul, for an appointment at the consulate. Khashoggi was a court insider whose criticisms of MBS in the Washington Post and elsewhere had attracted much attention. He seemed to be making more effort than usual to stay in touch. While I was at the conference a friend of his phoned me: Jamal still hadn’t emerged from the consulate, he said. By the time I got there, Turkish police were cordoning off the building.

The full story soon came out in leaked intelligence reports and, later, a un inquiry. A Saudi hit squad, which reportedly coordinated with Saud al-Qahtani, had flown to Istanbul. As they waited for Khashoggi to enter the consulate, they discussed plans for dismembering his body. According to tapes recorded inside the consulate by Turkish intelligence, Khashoggi was told, “We’re coming to get you.” There was a struggle, followed by the sound of plastic sheets being wrapped. A CIA report said that MBS approved the operation.

MBS has said he takes responsibility for the murder, but denies ordering it. He sacked Qahtani and another official implicated in the intelligence reports. The fallout was immediate. Companies and speakers pulled out of that year’s Davos in the desert; the Gates Foundation ended its partnership with Misk, an artistic and educational charity set up by the prince. Ari Emanuel, a Hollywood agent, cancelled a $400m deal with the kingdom.

The crown prince seems to have been genuinely surprised at the animus – “disappointed”, says an associate. Hadn’t he committed to all the reforms the West had been asking for? Perhaps he had underestimated the outcry provoked by going after a well-connected international figure, as opposed to a royal unknown outside Saudi Arabia. Or perhaps he understood Western governments’ priorities better than they did themselves. They had done little when Muhammad bin Nayef, their partner in battling terrorism, had disappeared; they had shrugged at reports of torture in the Ritz-Carlton, and at MBS’s reckless bombardment of Yemen. Why did they have so much to say about the killing of a single journalist?

Three years after the Khashoggi killing, Davos in the desert opened with the singer Gloria Gaynor. As images of smiling children flashed up on a giant screen behind her, she broke into her disco anthem, “I Will Survive”, asking the audience: “Did you think I’d crumble? Did you think I’d lay down and die?”

The chief executives of private-equity giants BlackRock and Blackstone were back, as were the heads of Goldman Sachs, SocGen and Standard Chartered. Even Amazon sent a representative despite the fact that its boss, Jeff Bezos, owns the Washington Post, the paper that employed Khashoggi. Meanwhile, Qahtani was creeping back into favor at the royal court – although he had been implicated by the un for Khashoggi’s murder, a Saudi court took the decision not to charge him.

MBS revitalized the near-dormant sovereign-wealth fund, pumping tens of billions of dollars into tech, entertainment and sports, to create a softer, more appealing image of Saudi and co-opt new partners. In April 2020, the fund led a consortium to buy Newcastle United, a premier-league football team [the deal took 18 months]. The following year it launched an audacious bid to create Saudi’s own golf tour, the LIV series, hoping to lure players with a prize pot of $255m, far larger than that of American tournaments. At the first LIV tour this year, some top players boycotted the event, others went for the cash.

Joe Biden has proved tougher to woo. Soon after becoming president, Biden withdrew American military support for the war in Yemen. He wouldn’t talk to MBS, insisting that communications go through King Salman instead. He didn’t even nominate an ambassador to Riyadh for 15 months. The chat everywhere was that Saudi-American relations were in a deep freeze. Then, in February 2022, MBS had a stroke of luck: Russia invaded Ukraine.

In the days after war broke out, Biden himself tried to call MBS. The crown prince declined to speak to the president. He did take Putin’s call, however. The two men were already close. MBS had personally brought Russia into an expanded version of the OPEC cartel in order for Saudi Arabia to keep control of global oil production. Putin cemented the friendship in 2018 at the g20 summit in Buenos Aires, which took place weeks after the Khashoggi killing. While Western leaders shunned MBS, Putin gave the Saudi ruler a high-five before sitting down next to him.

MBS’s defiance of America seems to have paid off. After months of evasion, Biden reluctantly agreed to meet MBS in Jeddah in July, on the prince’s own turf and his own terms. The visit gave MBS recognition but did little to rebuild relations. There wasn’t even a concrete assurance of increasing oil production.

Some in the American foreign-policy establishment remain hopeful that MBS could become a helpful partner in the region, pointing to his recent retreat from confrontation with Qatar and his eagerness to find a diplomatic exit from Yemen. Perhaps, they say, he is maturing as a leader.

This seems optimistic. MBS’s disastrous campaign in Yemen was ostensibly in support of the country’s president but in April, hours after being summoned to a meeting and offered Arabic coffee and dates, Yemen’s president was reading out a resignation speech on tv. MBS took it upon himself to get rid of him personally – suggesting that his mode of international diplomacy remains as high-handed as ever. “What they’ve learned”, says one foreign analyst, “is don’t murder journalists who dine regularly with congressmen in the United States.”

The West has taught MBS something else, too – something that autocrats the world over may draw comfort from. No matter the sin, they would argue, if you sit tight through the odium and fury, eventually the financiers, the celebrities, even the Western leaders, will come running back. At 36, MBS has time on his side. Some observers fear that he may become only more dangerous as oil reserves start to decline and the treasure trove shrinks. “What happens when he’s a middle-aged man ruling a middle-income country and starts to get bored?” asks a diplomat who knows MBS personally. “Will he go on more adventures?”

Earlier this year, I visited an old friend in his office in Saudi Arabia. Before we started talking, he put his phone in a pouch that blocks the signal, to prevent government spies from listening in. Dissidents do that kind of thing in police states like China, but I’d never seen it before in Saudi Arabia. It isn’t just people involved with politics who are taking such precautions: most Saudis have become afraid to speak near a functioning mobile phone. People used to talk fairly openly in their offices, homes and cafés. Now, they are picked up for almost nothing.

As we chatted over the whir of his office air conditioning, my friend reeled off a list of people he knew who had been detained in the past month: a retired air-force chief who died in prison, a hospital administrator hauled away from his desk, a mother taken in front of her seven children, a lawyer who died seven days after his release from prison. “These people aren’t rabble rousers,” my friend said. “No one understands why.”

Officially, the government says it has no political prisoners. Rights groups reckon that thousands have been swept up in MBS’s dragnet. I’ve covered the Middle East since the 1990s and can’t think of anywhere where so many of my own contacts are behind bars.

Few ordinary Saudis predicted that when MBS was done trampling on the elites and the clerics, he would come for them next. Bringing Saudis into the modern, networked, online world has made it easier for the state to monitor what they are saying. A Red Crescent employee called Abdulrahman al-Sadhan used to run a satirical Twitter account under a pseudonym. In 2018 MBS’s agents arrested him and held him incommunicado for two years. American prosecutors later charged two former Twitter employees with allegedly handing over the real names behind various accounts to a Saudi official – al-Sadhan’s family believes that his name was among them. [The trial of one employee is ongoing; he denies passing on information to Saudi officials.]

On the face of it, MBS has nothing to worry about. Public opinion polls – if they can be trusted – suggest he is popular, particularly with younger Saudis. But there is a growing sense that discontent is brewing beneath the surface. MBS has broken crucial social contracts with the Saudi populace, by reducing handouts while, at the same time, dispensing with the tradition of hearing the feedback of ordinary people after Friday prayers.

It isn’t hard to imagine some of the issues they’d raise if they had the chance. Many people are struggling as the cost of living rises. When other governments were cushioning their citizens during the pandemic, MBS slashed fuel subsidies and tripled vat. Unable to afford the cost of pumping water, some farmers left crops to wither in the field. Fees for permits and fines have spiraled, too. Though MBS speaks eloquently about the country’s youth, he is struggling to find them jobs. Unemployment remains stubbornly stuck in double digits. Half of the jobless have a university degree, but most white-collar workers I met on MBS’s mega-projects were foreign.

Saudi Arabia’s attempts to diversify its economy – and so compensate for the long-term decline of oil reserves – isn’t going well either. The pandemic delayed plans for a rapid increase in international tourism. Extorting billions of dollars from your relatives may not be the best way to convince investors that the kingdom is a liberal haven.

The young prince has reversed even the baby steps towards democracy taken by previous kings. Municipal elections have been suspended – as a cost-cutting exercise, explains the supine press. The Shura Council, a consultative body of 150 people, has only met online since the pandemic [other institutions have gathered in person for months]. “I wish I had more of a voice,” said one member. Whenever I mentioned the prince, his leg twitched.

A frequent visitor to the royal court says MBS now gives the impression of someone who’s always thinking that people are plotting against him. He seems to be preoccupied with loyalty. He fills key posts either with young royals, foreigners with no local base to threaten him or people he has already broken. A government minister, Ibrahim Assaf, was one of those locked up in the Ritz-Carlton – two months later MBS sent him to the World Economic Forum as his representative. A senior executive on one of his construction projects is someone who says he was tortured in one of his prisons. “He went from being strung naked from his ankles, beaten and stripped of all his assets to a high-level project manager,” says a close acquaintance of the man.

All remain vulnerable to MBS’s tantrums. Saudi sources say he once locked a minister in a toilet for ten hours. [The minister later appeared on tv blabbering platitudes about the prince’s wisdom.] A senior official I’ve spoken to says he wants out. “Everyone in his circle is terrified of him,” says an insider. And that could make it hard for him to govern a country of 35m people effectively. Former courtiers say no one close to MBS is prepared to offer a truthful assessment of whether his increasingly grandiose schemes are viable. “Saying no”, says one, “is not something they will ever do.”

If MBS has a mission beyond extending his power, you might expect to find it in Neom, the city he promised to build in the desert. Neom would be nothing less than “a civilizational leap for humanity”, he said in 2017. Head-spinning details followed. The city’s food would be grown on hydroponic walls on a floating structure. It would be powered by the world’s largest green-hydrogen plant. Thousands of snow-blowers would create a ski resort on a nearby mountain. One day it would have driverless cars and passenger drones.

According to the official timetable, the main city would be completed by 2020. Further districts would be added by 2025. The prince’s tourism minister, Ahmed al-Khateeb, dismissed rumors that the timetable was proving over-ambitious. “Come see with your eyes and not with your ears,” he urged. So, I went.

Finding Neom was the first problem. There were no road signs to it. After three hours’ drive we came to the spot indicated by the map. It was bare, but for the odd fig tree. Camels strolled across the empty highway. Piles of rubble lined the road, remnants of the town bulldozed to make way for the mighty metropolis.

The designated area is nearly the size of Belgium. As far as I could tell, only two projects had been completed, MBS’s palace, and something Google Earth calls “The Neom Experience Centre” [when I drove to see it, it was obscured by a prefabricated hut]. The only other solid building I could see was a hotel constructed before Neom was conceived: The Royal Tulip. A poster in the lobby urged me to “Discover Neom”. But when I asked for a guide the hotel manager cursed my sister with Arabic vulgarities and tried to shoo me away. There was no sign of the media hub with “frictionless facilitation”, “advanced infrastructure” and “collaborative ecosystems” promised by the Neom website. Neom’s head of communications and media, Wayne Borg, said he was “out of Kingdom at present”.

The hotel restaurant was teeming with consultants – all the ones I met were foreign. I later found a Saudi project manager. “We think we’re about to start working, but every two months the consultants coin a new plan,” he told me. “They’re still doing plans of plans.” There was a kind of manic short-termism among these foreigners. Many were paid $40,000 a month, plus handsome bonuses. “It’s like riding a bull,” one of the Neom consultants told me. “You know you’re gonna fall, that no one can last on a bull longer than a minute and a half, two minutes, so you make the most of it.”

Despite the high salaries, there are reports that foreigners are leaving the Neom project because they find the gap between expectations and reality so stressful. The head of Neom is said by his friends to be “terrified” at the lack of progress.

Eventually, I found a retired Saudi air-force technician who offered to drive me around the city for $600. He took me to a sculpture standing in the desert with the words, “I love Neom”. A short way farther on we found a new stretch of tarmac, said to mark the edge of the dream city. Beyond it, the lone and level sands stretched far away.

Exclusive: Arms flow to Ukraine will not bring peace – Corbyn

July 31, 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen

By Al Mayadeen English 

Former British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, in an exclusive interview with Al Mayadeen, discussed his stances regarding the latest international events and internal British politics.

Former British Labor Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

in an exclusive interview with Al Mayadeen, former British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn addressed many issues, including the war on Yemen, the war in Ukraine, the Palestinian cause, and other topics related to the United Kingdom and its international role.

Jeremy Corbyn affirmed his opposition regarding the war in Ukraine, deeming Russia’s military operation in Ukraine “fundamentally wrong.” 

“Pouring arms in isn’t going to bring about a solution, It’s only going to prolong and exaggerate this war,” he asserted, expecting that this war will drag on for years.

The former Labour Party leader touched upon NATO’s expansion and the implications it has to the global economy and world peace: “Expanding NATO isn’t going to bring about a longer-term peace, [but it] will only bring about greater, greater strain and greater stress.”

“Then the world woke up and suddenly realized that Russia and Ukraine are the world’s biggest grain exporters and something has to be done. So they came to an agreement , and I hope it holds, to export grain through Odessa and through the Bosphorus to the rest of the world. That is a good move, but at the same time, putting more and more arms into Ukraine isn’t going to bring about it [peace].”

It is noteworthy that last month, the British government announced that it will be providing $1.2 billion in military aid to Ukraine. 

Corbyn continued, “Ukrainians are dying. Ukrainians are going into exile here; Thousands and thousands. And Russian soldiers are dying, conscripted. Young Russian soldiers are dying. This war is disastrous for the people of Ukraine, for the people of Russia, and for the safety and security of the whole world. And therefore, there has to be more much more effort put into peace.”

Corbyn spoke of the racist, double standards that Europe holds towards refugees: “Europe has been very welcoming of Ukrainian refugees, and that’s good, that’s right. Sadly, they’re not so welcoming and not so enabling of refugees coming from Yemen or anywhere else.”

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Dead Men Tell No Tales: Why Kiev Bombed Its Own Imprisoned Soldiers In Donbass

Jul 30 2022

Source

By Andrew Korybko

It certainly seems to be the case that Kiev panicked that its imprisoned soldiers would soon spill the beans about the wide range of war crimes they’ve been accused of committing and therefore decided to kill them with HIMARS before they could talk.

Friday morning’s shelling of a detention center in Donbass killed at least 50 people and injured an estimated 75. Russia and the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) both accused Kiev of carrying out this war crime against their own imprisoned soldiers that were being held there, while that former Soviet Republic ridiculously alleged that its opponents bombed themselves. Objectively speaking, the first-mentioned’s interpretation of the incident is much more realistic than the second’s.

To explain, there’s a certain logic inherent in Kiev using US-supplied HIMARS to kill its imprisoned soldiers – including those who were captured during Azovstal’s surrender – so that they don’t spill the beans about their war crimes. It wants to silence its militants at all costs so that they don’t provide evidence that can be used against Kiev in the court of law or at the very least give Moscow a so-called “propaganda victory”. As they say, dead men tell no tales.

On the other hand, this US-led NATO proxy’s claims don’t hold up to scrutiny. Russia and/or the DPR could have just quietly killed those imprisoned soldiers if they really wanted to cover up torture like Kiev speculated. Furthermore, those people were prized assets in proving that their opponents aren’t the innocent angels that they present themselves as. It doesn’t make sense to kill them off, let alone by bombing themselves in such a dramatic way that adds to the infamy of that US-supplied missile system.

The reader should also be aware that Russia and the DPR claim to have found wreckage of some HIMARS missiles at the site of the incident, which adds further credence to their claim Kiev was responsible for the strike. It also doesn’t help that former Soviet Republic’s cause any that a senior American defense official already started making excuses for his country’s proxy during a press conference on Friday when preemptively arguing that Kiev “didn’t mean to do that”.

The exact quote from the Department of Defense’s official website reads as follows: “Here’s the last thing I’d say, if it happened to be a Ukrainian strike, I promise you, number one, they didn’t mean to do that, right? They certainly care about their own people and they care about the civilians and military in uniform of their own army.” It’s not very convincing when the same institution responsible for spewing countless lies over the years starts covering up for its partner ahead of time by alleging an accident.

That in and of itself suggests that American intelligence is likely very well aware of the high probability that Kiev used the HIMARS to kill its own imprisoned soldiers so that they wouldn’t share evidence of the war crimes they were tasked with committing in Mariupol and elsewhere. There’s no other logical explanation for why the Department of Defense would behave so suspiciously if they were supremely confident in their proxy’s innocence like they’re attempting to make it seem.

Additionally, a senior Ukrainian official told Newsweek just the other day that his side was “shooting blind” because they “do not have the technology to find and correct targets for artillery strikes.” He later clarified that “his comment was intended to highlight the necessity of Ukraine’s Western partners continuing to provide a full complement of military equipment, and not that Ukraine was improperly identifying or striking its targets”, but it still raised eyebrows in light of what happened days later.

This slip of the tongue might have been intentional in hindsight, the purpose being to preemptively manufacture a cover-up in the event that evidence was discovered (as it later was) implicating Kiev in the strike that it carried out a couple days afterwards. This also explains why the US defense official started speculating that Kiev’s complicity in the attack could simply have been an accident. They’d rather make the HIMARS look bad in a couple headlines than take responsibility for what just occurred.

That’s unrealistic though since the HIMARS are praised for their accuracy so there’s no reason to believe that the strike was anything other than intentional. Nevertheless, this excuse might be sufficient enough to distract the Western public if Russia succeeds in convincingly making its case that Kiev was responsible. The US can just point to that senior Ukrainian official’s claim in his Newsweek interview and blame improperly trained troops for “accidentally” bombing their own imprisoned soldiers.

Despite that explanation going against everything that the US-led Western Mainstream Media (MSM) hitherto claimed about the HIMARS’ accuracy, it’s still much more believable that Kiev’s conspiracy theory. After all, there’s no coherent explanation for why Russia and the DPR would bomb themselves to cover up alleged torture when they could very easily just silently do away with the supposed witnesses without drawing global media attention to that facility.

Returning back to the incident in question, it certainly seems to be the case that Kiev panicked that its imprisoned soldiers would soon spill the beans about the wide range of war crimes they’ve been accused of committing and therefore decided to kill them with HIMARS before they could talk. This cover-up might ultimately have been all for naught though since some might have already provided their testimony, which would mean that Kiev killed them for nothing.

From Balkh to Konya: Discovering Rumi’s spiritual geopolitics

July 30 2022

By Pepe Escobar

Source

While Jalal al-Din Rumi is synonymous with Islamic mysticism, a deeper dig brings to light the West Asian political changes and upheaval that shaped his world and other-worldly view.

KONYA – Mystic poet, Sufi, theosophist, and thinker, Jalal al-Din Rumi remains one of the most beloved historical personalities in history, east and west. A wanderer in search of the light, he famously characterized himself thus: “I am nothing more than a humble lover of God.”

The era of Rumi’s father – Sultan Bahaeddin Veled (1152-1231) and son (1207-1273) – was an extraordinary socio-political rollercoaster. It’s absolutely impossible for us today to understand the ideas, allusions and parables that trespass Rumi’s magnum opus, the six-volume Masnevi , in 25,620 couplets, without delving into some serious time travel.

In the Masnevi , written in Persian – the prime literary language in West and Central Asia in those times – Rumi used poetry essentially as a tool for teaching divine secrets, explaining them via parables. The Rumi Project is to show Man the path to Divine Love, leading him from a low stage to the highest. Squeezed and subdued by the techno-feudalism juggernaut, we may now need to heed these lessons more than ever in history.

The Masnevi became hugely popular across Eurasia immediately after Rumi’s death in 1273 – from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan to Central Asia, Iran and Turkey. Then, slowly but surely, the man and the opus ended up reaching even the collective west (Goethe was mesmerized) and inspiring a wealth of learned commentaries, in Persian, Ottoman Turkish, Urdu and English.

“The master from Anatolia”

Let’s start our time travel in the 11th century, when some Turkish tribes, after crossing Transoxiana, began to settle in northern Persia. These new Turkish tribes – from the Ghaznavids to the Seljuks (actually the branch of a Turkoman tribe) – constituted fabulous dynasties that played a key role in the inter-mixing of Turkic and Persian culture (what the Chinese today, applying it to the New Silk Roads, call “people to people contacts”).

Islam spread very fast in Persia under the rule of the religiously tolerant Samanids. That was the foundation stone for Mahmud of Ghazna (998-1030) to form a great Turkish empire, from northeastern Persia to very remote parts of India. Mahmud made a great impression on Rumi.

While the Ghaznavids remained powerful in eastern Persia, the Seljuks established a powerful empire not only in parts of Iran but also in the remote lands of Anatolia (called Arz-I Rum). That’s the reason why Rumi is called Mavlana-yi Rum (“the master from Anatolia”).

Rumi as a kid lived in legendary Balkh (part of Khorasan in northern Afghanistan), capital of the Khwarazm empire. When he and his father were still there, the king was Ala al-Din, who came from a dynasty established by a Turkish slave.

After a series of incredibly messy kingdom clashes, Ala al-Din saw himself pitted in battle against the king of Samarkand, Osman Khan. That ended up in a massacre in 1212, in which Ala al-Din’s soldiers killed 10,000 people in Samarkand. The young Rumi was shocked.

Ala al-Din wanted to be no less than the absolute ruler of the Muslim world. He refused to obey the Caliph in Baghdad. He even started entertaining designs on China – where Genghis Khan had already conquered Pekin.

Ala al-Din sent an envoy to China who was very well treated by Genghis, who had an eye on – what else – good business between the two empires (the Silk Road bug, again). Genghis sent his ambassadors back, full of gifts. Ala al-Din received them in Transoxiana in 1218.

But then the governor of one of his provinces, a close relative, robbed and killed some of the Mongols. Genghis demanded punishment. The Sultan refused. Well, you don’t want to pick up a fight with Genghis Khan. He duly started a series of massacres in Persia, and inevitably the Khwarazm empire – along with its great cities, Samarkand, Bukhara, Balkh, Merv – collapsed. By then, Rumi and his father had already left.

Like Baghdad, each of these fabulous cities was a center of learning. Rumi’s Balkh had a mixed culture of Arabs, Sassanians, Turks, Buddhists and Christians. After Alexander The Great, Balkh became the hub of Greco-Bactria. Just before the coming of Islam, it was a Buddhist hub and a center of Zoroastrian teaching. All along, one of the great centers of the Ancient Silk Roads.

On the road with 300 camels

The hero of Rumi’s Masnevi, Ibrahim Adham, like the Buddha, had relinquished his throne for the love of God, setting the example for the Sufism that later came to flourish across these latitudes, known as the Khorasani school.

As Prof Dr Erkan Turkmen, who was born in Peshawar and today is a top scholar at Karatay University in Konya, and author, among others, of a lovely volume, ‘Roses from Rumi’s Rose Garden’ says, there are two top reliable sources for the extraordinary pilgrimage of Rumi’s father Bahaeddin and his family from Balkh to Konya, with books, food and house ware loaded on the back of 300 camels, accompanied by 40 religious people. The sources, inevitably, are father and son (Rumi’s account is written in verse).

The first major stop was Baghdad. At the entrance gates, the guards asked who they were. Rumi’s father said, “We are coming from God and shall go back to Him. We have come from the non-existent world and shall go there again.”

Caliph al-Nasir summoned his top scholar Suhreverdi, who immediately gave the green light to the newcomers. But Rumi’s father did not want to stay under the protection of the Caliph, who was noted for his cruelness. So after a few years he left for Mecca on a Hajj and then to Damascus – which was an extremely well organized city at the time of the Abbasids and the Seljuks, crammed with 660 mosques, more than 40 madrassas, 100 baths and plenty of famous scholars.

The final steps on the family journey were Erjinzan in Anatolia – already a center of trade and culture – and then Larende (now Karaman), 100km south of Konya. Today, Karaman is only a small Turkish province, but in those times extended as far as Antalya to the south. It housed a lot of Christian Turks, who wrote Turkish using the Greek alphabet.

That’s where Rumi got married. Afterwards, his father was invited by Sultan Ala al-Din Kayqubad I (1220-1237) to Konya, finally establishing himself and the family until his death in 1231.

The Seljuks in Anatolia erupted into history in the year 1075, when Alp Arslan defeated the Byzantines in the legendary battle of Manzikert. A century later, in 1107, Qilich Arslan defeated the Crusaders, and the Seljuk empire began to spread very fast. It took a few decades before Christians started to accept the inevitable: the presence of Turks in Anatolia. Later, they even started to intermix.

The golden era of the Seljuks was under Sultan Ala al-Din Kayqubad I (the one who invited Rumi’s family to Konya), who built citadels around Konya and Kayseri to protect them from the coming Mongol invasion, and spent his winters at the beautiful Mediterranean coast in Antalya.

In Konya, Rumi did not get into politics, and does not seem to have had close relations with the royal family. He was widely known either as Mevlana (our master) or Rumi (the Anatolian). In Turkey today he is simply known as Mevlana, and in the west as Rumi. In his lyrical poetry, he uses the pseudonym Khamush (Silent). Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP – a highly materialistic enterprise wallowing in dodgy businesses – is not exactly fond of Rumi’s Sufism.

Under the Green Dome

As we’ve seen, Rumi spent most of his childhood on the road – so he never attended regular school. His early education was provided by his father and other scholars who followed the family to Karaman. Rumi also met many other famous scholars along the way, especially in Baghdad and Damascus, where he studied Islamic history, the Quran, and Arabic.

When Rumi was about to finish the 6th volume of the Masnevi, he fell ill, under constant fever. He passed away on 17 December, 1273. A fund of 130,000 dirhams was organized to build his tomb, which includes the world-famous Green Dome (Qubbat ul-Khazra), originally finished in 1274 and currently under renovation.

The tomb today is a museum (Konya holds astonishing relics especially in the Ethnography and Archeology museums). But for most pilgrims from all lands of Islam and beyond who come to pay their spiritual tributes, it is actually regarded as a lover’s shrine (Kaaba-yi Ushaq).

These lines, inscribed in his splendid wooden sarcophagus, may be a summary of all that Rumi attempted to teach during his lifetime:

“If wheat is grown on the clay of my grave, and if you bake bread of it, your intoxication will increase, the dough and the baker will go mad and the oven will also begin to recite verses out of madness. When you pay a visit to my tomb, it will seem to be dancing for God has created me out of the wine of love and I am still the same love even if death may crush me.”

A Sufi is by definition a lover of God. Islamic mysticism considers three stages of knowledge: the knowledge of certainty, the eye of certainty, and the truth of certainty.

In the first stage, one tries to find God by intellectual proof (failure is inevitable). In the second stage, one may be tuned in to divine secrets. In the third stage, one is able to see Reality and understand It spiritually. That’s a path not dissimilar to reaching enlightenment in Buddhism.

In addition to these three stages, there are paths to follow toward God. Choosing a path – Tarikat – is a very complicated business. It can be any Sufi order – such as Mavleviya, Kadriya, Nakshbandiya – under the guidance of a sheikh of that particular Tarikat.

In these absurdist times of grain diplomacy barely able to remedy the toxic effects of imperial sanctions, part of a proxy war of civilizations, a Rumi verse – “The celestial mill gives nothing if you have no wheat” – may open unexpected vistas.

Rumi is essentially saying that if one goes to a flour mill without wheat, what shall we gain? Nothing but the whiteness of one’s beard and hair (because of the flour). In the same vein: “If we have no good deeds to take with us to the other world, we will gain nothing but pain in the heart, while if we have developed our spiritual being, we will gain honor and Divine Love.”

Now try to explain that to a crusading collective west.

Europe hypnotized into war economy

July 29, 2022

By Jorge Vilches

Thirty two years ago Germans enthusiastically took down the Berlin wall. Now, captured by cunning Anglo-Saxon global elites, Germans are helping other European “useful idiots” to erect a much higher and thicker wall to cut themselves off from Russia leading them into a war economy. But as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has warned… “the approach has clearly failed — sanctions have backfired — and our car now has 4 four flat tires” … Question: vehicles don´t carry more than 2 spare tires on them, do they? So, one quick and innocent way to explain such unfathomable European miscalculation is to assume the EU leadership is immersed in a deep hypnotic trance and just blindly following US-UK instructions under Stoltenberg-Johnson war-mongering policies. Per “The Telegraph” Ref #1 https://www.rt.com/news/559682-johnson-uk-nato-ukriaine Ref #2 https://www.rt.com/news/559785-orban-eu-gas-war-economy/

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suicidal non-supply

The supply lines that up to 2022 successfully linked Europe and Russia took decades of very hard work to develop. This now means that almost all of such over-abundant contracts necessarily have no effective substitute because (a) no other vendors have such high quality at low price plus decades of vetting and proven experience + (b) the un-replaceable short freight distance and shipping time from nearby Russia. So, by definition, both (a) + (b) mean that today no equivalent supply lines could ever be found no matter how much Europe tried simply because it would be either too soon or too far …and always too hard and too pricey. So short cuts will be taken and corners rounded-off…. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. The impact of the above cannot be overstated though as the now-broken Euro-Russian supply lines were essential for the Just-In-Time strategy that Europe and world markets still require and cannot wait years to develop and iron out. Logistics 101: proven experience and performance with excellent price plus quick delivery from nearby sources cannot be substituted fast enough, or possibly ever. On purpose, Europe´s worst enemies couldn´t have inflicted worse harm than what a US-UK mesmerized Europe (what else ?) is doing to itself.

So EU sanctions are now cutting off dozens of key and highly varied Russian produce without which Europe as we know it will cease to exist. This involves foodstuffs, minerals of every sort, energy re oil & gas & coal & refined products thereof, etc., etc., plus key technologies and products from space rocket engines to nuclear fuels. Even Roscosmos announced that Russia will withdraw from the International Space Station (ISS) project with the West after 2024 while by that time with an orbital station of its own. At any rate, the new European vendor problems for hundreds of products include each and every aspect of sales & procurement, sourcing & logistics, negotiations, pricing, contract terms, payment, banking procedures, sampling and testing, delivery pathway coordination, additional trucking, roads, vessels and inland waterways for shut down pipeline delivery, on-the-fly solutions for new problems, railroads, loading and unloading yards, ports, process alignment & upgrade, synchronization, scheduling, building and adapting key infrastructure, insurance, guarantees, new administrative matters, buffer storage, vendor vetting, multiple regulatory compliance, etc., etc. So the most efficient and swift Euro-Russian trade routines have today turned into logistical and management nightmares. Europe now and for the near future — in most unfavorable circumstances — needs to run unexpected risks to re-do all such hard work in a hurry and for every banned Russian product, not just coal & oil & nat-gas. And it is not a “plug & play” process either. It takes time. Tons of changes have to be made even after finding a trustworthy vendor. It is costly, cumbersome, and prone to project creep & fatigue. All fully unnecessary and chaotic.

No country in the EU is anywhere ready for any of the above, let alone all of Europe at the very same time with the very same deadline. Furthermore, an impaired Germany would mean a very different Europe something which at this late stage cannot be avoided even if Germans wanted to get their feet wet in a hurry. Jim Rickards now says that “Almost everything you heard about the war in Ukraine from U.S. media over the course of March, April, and May was a lie.” Furthermore, the Western news regarding the impact of the Ukraine war contained very few truths that can confuse just as much. Per Rickards “The economies of the U.S. and the EU are in or very near to recession. Inflation is out of control in the West and commodity shortages will lead quickly to food shortages and more empty shelves in supermarkets… as economic sanctions have backfired ”. And now labor unions add fuel to the fire fully knowing they have the leverage to worsen inflation which is the hottest political topic nowadays. So they now demand better working conditions “with protests turning up at all spots in the global supply chain, including railways, trucking, warehouses, and ports…” At any rate, today Russia is taking full control and will probably retain for itself what up until 2022 were Ukraine´s best assets. That includes its industrial core, its enormously large and specialized natural resources, a most fertile land reminiscent of the Argentine Pampas, and all the ports and the major rivers with Russian territory unscathed. No wonder Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán wants plain “out” of the current European non-strategy despite that Euroclear is raking in dozens of millions in profits from seized Russian bank accounts.

Ref #3 https://www.rt.com/russia/558846-us-uk-eu-sanctions/

Ref #4 https://news.antiwar.com/2022/07/24/hungarys-orban-says-us-russia-peace-talks-needed-to-end-ukraine-war/

Ref #5 https://dailyreckoning.com/needless-death-and-misery/

Ref #6 https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/labor-has-leverage-protesting-supply-chain-workers-threaten-worsen-worlds-inflation-crisis

Ref #7 https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-07-24/world-s-key-workers-threaten-to-hit-economy-where-it-will-hurt?sref=6uww027M

Ref #8 https://www.rt.com/business/559647-eurozone-profits-frozen-russian-assets/

Ref #9 https://www.rt.com/russia/559598-jens-stoltenberg-calls-allies-pay/

add a low Rhine…

The Rhine River directly affects trade and industrial logistics of several key European countries namely, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, France, and the Netherlands while indirectly affecting many others or, in some cases, all the others. In particular, the über-important German inland transportation system – and therefore its entire supply chains network – depends upon normal levels of Rhine River waters. Because it´s not only a matter of sourcing the right quality, quantity and price of any produce. It is just as important to receive it Just-In-Time at process destinations such as refineries or power plants as explained later. Simultaneously, all European stakeholders are competing with each other tooth and nail struggling to find, contract and retain exactly the same resources in order to solve the same unexpected problems all at once and by the same date. And it´s not only coal or oil or natural gas — and many other raw materials in and of themselves — but also for the means required to transport, deliver and process all of them.

So everybody and his sister would now in Europe be modifying the same things at the same time with the same resources by the same date. For example, looking for the very first – and certainly bad – resource, namely trucking fleets of every size and type and humongous amounts of EU-certified drivers thereof. This additional heavy truck traffic would require upgrading newer roads and building new ones. Also, the different processes required for these different commodities also require all-around modifications at refineries, new-feedstock power plants, petrochemical plants, etc., etc., etc. Furthermore, there were no plans for any of this nor for the abundant technical human resources required and/or vetted management staff. Managerially speaking, this is not a contingency. It is a fully unexpected European-wide revolution with a terribly demanding time frame and critical failures as the most probable result. This involves strategic value-chain upstream items with EU captive consumers cascading into multiple supply chain failures thru lack of nat-gas, rare earths, inert gases, potash, sulfur, uranium, palladium, vanadium, cobalt, coke, titanium, nickel, lithium, plastics, glass, ceramics, pharmaceuticals, ships, inks, airplanes, polymers, medical and industrial gases, sealing rings & membranes, power transmission, transformer and lube oils, neon gas for microchip etching, etc., etc.

Thousands of yet unknown people are needed to execute all of these projects with yet to be defined job descriptions, yet to be interviewed, hired, trained, teams put together, deployed, etc. Many oldies will be called back from retirement

For many good reasons – mostly obvious — roads & trucks many times cannot compete with seaborne or internal water-ways freight either by volumes shipped or final destination delivery requirements. Furthermore, the supply lines/production system is already set up in a given way and any change introduced to previous logistics is fully unforeseen. For instance, high-load storage facilities and high-consuming processing plants, refineries, power stations and the like are conveniently located for vessel access or pipelines or railways, not trucks. So, now with everyone scrambling for ultra-hard-to-find solutions, EU products will require higher transportation costs by, for instance, having to replace sintering ores with concentrates or pellets. And it is unlikely for higher costs to be absorbed by the market under current conditions of falling demand. So profit margins will get yet narrower – or negative – as already under heavy pressure from high energy prices and labor costs in an inflationary vicious cycle. Sooner or later this leads to either very high inflation, or recession… or even depression. Also, a tremendous food problem has arisen as a consequence of the EU sanctions, involving final produce and intermediate outcomes such as fertilizers which in turn affect yields.

hypnotized food

EU sanctions have prevented operations with Russian grain, including insurance and the admission of Russian ships to foreign ports and entry of foreign ships to Russian ports. Russia cannot solve that nor contribute to solving that in any way, shape, or form. Only the EU can solve that problem. What Russia can and will do is to develop its economy by counting on reliable partners instead of Western countries not willing or able to comply with the agreed terms of trade. No (Russian) gas no fertilizers, less (Russian) gas less fertilizers for everyone including Third World economies.

Higher oil prices – or no oil – mean more expensive distillates such as diesel oil required for farming food produce.

In view of less Russian gas, BASF has slashed ammonia production which is an essential component for fertilizers.

Ref #10 https://www.zerohedge.com/commodities/basf-prepares-slash-ammonia-production-germany-amid-worsening-natgas-crunch

hypnotized energy

Up until Jan. 2022, coal (“brown” coal, the dirtiest of them all) was only responsible for 33% of power generation in Germany… but not anymore (more on that later). Let alone the case of oil & gas with ultra simplified door-to-door delivery of excellent, cheap products through quick and clean pipelines. BTW, the case of now badly-needed coal is probably the worst of all, as its complete phase-out was planned for 2030 but now fully reverted with de-commissioned coal-fired power stations most probably returning as Germany´s first line energy suppliers. Less Russian natural gas means less heating, less hot water, less power and less fertilizer among other important things. And the EU cannot print natural gas or Rubles.

“ Despite the aggressive Western sanctions… Russia has been very restrained as far as counter-measures are concerned. So after loudly saying that the EU wants nothing to do with Russian energy or Russian pipelines, the EU should hardly be upset if Russia is tired of laboring not to give them what they asked for, an economic divorce. The problem is Europe is now upset that it’s getting what it acted like it wanted.” – Yves Smith – “Naked Capitalism”

Ref # 11 https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2022/07/the-end-of-cheap-russian-gas-turning-the-lights-out-in-europe.html

On a recent press conference Russia´s President Vladimir Putin explained that the EU energy security problem is definetly not Russia nor Gazprom. Very simply put: with long winters, less sun, low winds, and EU banks that will not finance fossil fuels investments, plus insurance companies that do not insure them, and local governments that do not allocate land plots for new projects, so then pipelines are not built… while demand keeps growing. Then for political reasons the Ukraine government shuts down a pipeline station. Then the Siemens-Canada problem as, by contract, turbines require regular maintenance and repairs. In sum, the EU has shut-down — on its own — two Russian pipeline routes as Ukraine and Poland effectively cut off the Yamal-Europe pipeline. Ukraine overtly, Poland by refusing to pay under the new gas for roubles scheme. The EU has also sanctioned one turbine while not commissioning North Stream 2, thus completely tying down Gazprom´s hands. Furthermore, the documentation that Gazprom received from Canada and Siemens did not respond to the turbine sanctions-waiver questions. Also, Gazprom is unable to fully use another route as Ukraine has been rejecting its transit applications. In sum, Europe does not have a strategy. Add to that the shut-down of nuclear power stations. And as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said, Russia no longer cares to relate to Europe – or the West at large — as it is not “agreement-capable”.

As if all of the above were not enough, many EU members now have to deploy the DE-conversion from natural gas and the RE-conversion into polluting coal. This back-to-coal ´solution´ is (a) very dirty and against Europe´s Green Plan plus other climate pledges and regulations (b) ultra-expensive (c) a major industrial, logistical and social upheaval that would not make it by this coming winter soon knocking on the European doors, and probably not even for next winter 2023-2024. This separate – yet overlapping – set of major madhouse back-to-coal projects also imply enormous logistics risks and major modifications and tight schedules all around, bids, bidders, contract oversight, certification, commissioning, etc., etc., etc for which nobody involved is prepared, neither regulators, nor vendors, nor consultants or engineering firms, nor end users, nor households, nor labor unions, nor the industry at large.

hypnotized renewables

Renewables have various serious problems including their variable power generation limitations. For example, in low wind or low sun seasons such as 2021-2022 which Europe suffers today. Renewables also have very poor optics – “not in my back yard” — plus impact upon bird life with unavoidable and undesirable consequences. And although there is more to be said, let´s conclude with the all-important de-commissioning problem in view of their rather shortish life-span. Furthermore — in order to see the light of day — manufacture of renewables requires humongous loads of nat-gas, oil, coal, minerals and commodities, all of them necessarily sourced in Russia not anywhere else. Unless the problem were to be compounded and worsened on purpose something quite in fashion today in Europe. For instance, manufacturing of wind turbines requires thousands of tons of nickel and rare earth minerals. Also, any such large structures and components thereof are to be transported to temporary and final destinations — and erected — with Russian fossil-powered equipment. Such is also required for the inevitable regular maintenance and end-of-life decommissioning. Solar photovoltaic energy requires humongous amounts of silver beyond belief, a process which also consumes (Russian) fossil fuels in enormous quantities, including the manufacture of the mining equipment required. Furthermore, as soon as renewables in large quantities are added to any electrical grid, costs go up – not down — as they have to be backstopped by fossil-fueled thermal plants that today should also run on Russian fuels. Please understand and accept that the more renewables added, the more natural gas that is needed. People do not accept rolling brown-outs let alone black-outs, so fossil fuel backstops are mandatory. With current existing technologies, promoting fully counter-productive and subsidized renewables expansion as Germany has and continues to do is reckless. EV lithium batteries require lithium mining which in turn has a whole new set of problems to be resolved Ref #12 https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/lighting-gas-under-european-feet-how-politicians-journalists-get-energy-so-wrong

hypnotized toilet paper

Per “Zeit On-Line” the new European hygiene status is now ready to deploy forces into rolling brown-out territory.

Is this another bad result of the hypnotic spell ? Ref #13 https://www.rt.com/business/559698-germans-warned-toilet-paper-shortage/

hypnotized fish´n´chips

Toilet paper orientation - Wikipedia

Russian sanctions would leave British pubs without fish’n’chips.

C:\Users\Jorge Vilches\Desktop\index.jpg

Ref # 14 https://www.rt.com/news/559748-fish-chips-uk-sanctions/

bottom line

Rachel Marsden at RT has summarized it very precisely as follows: “The conflict in Ukraine risks creating the ultimate nightmare for Western elites: an alternative group of allies over which the West has no control, but with the capacity to offer opportunities that are competitive with what their own governments or countries are offering… Western elites are doubling down in Ukraine to save the world order that protects their own selfish interests, thinking that it’s the way to prevent a parallel option from emerging. It’s as simple as that. And they don’t care if it’s the average citizen who has to pay the price”. Ref #15 https://www.rt.com/russia/558490-liberal-world-order-explained/

By banning Russian produce, the EU will bring the European sourcing matrix down on its knees, something which by now has already dawned on the average European also realizing that – at the very best and if not corrupted — their political class is just a bunch of ignorant fools. With these ´Russian sanctions´ EU politicians have unnecessarily set Europe up for hundreds of overlapping, cross-borders, gargantuan projects impossible to fulfill simultaneously, with absurd sequencing and scheduling coordination, plus peremptory timing limitations and deadlines, with countless of well- synchronized engineering specialties and very risky, highly demanding logistics, plus overwhelming legal, political, and environmental aspects. Accordingly, this glorious mismanagement in a decisive decade has the whole EU economy fully at risk with the obvious additional pain of potentially making non-performing rushed and poorly designed modifications everywhere.

Furthermore, Europe will spend a fortune it cannot afford while probably deploying soon-to-fail and trouble full reconversion projects ending up with many half-finished facilities that will not be anywhere ready on time, or ever.

The EU strategy regarding Russian sanctions and arming Ukraine has failed miserably as Europeans are being un-relentlessly ashamed with EU leaders despicably cheating on them and everyone else among other things per non-compliance of the Minsk Accords. Ukraine cannot ever come anywhere close to winning this war, corruption is everywhere rampant and the more weapons Ukraine receives from the West the longer their war will last and the larger territory that Ukraine will lose.

Massive migrations to Club Med countries (mostly PIGS) are highly probable even starting during 2022

Per The Guardian, “…Come October, it’s going to get horrific, truly horrific…a scale beyond what we can deal with”.

Ref #15 https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/apr/19/energy-chiefs-fear-40-of-britons-could-fall-into-fuel-poverty-in-truly-horrific-winter

additional IMPORTANT references

https://www.dw.com/en/eu-prepares-for-russia-to-cut-off-gas-supply-over-sanctions/a-62493092

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_22_4608

https://www.zerohedge.com/political/amusing-tales-coal-bottleneck-germany-failure-plan

https://mishtalk.com/economics/amusing-tales-of-a-coal-bottleneck-in-germany-and-the-failure-to-plan

https://www.eurointelligence.com/

https://www.rt.com/business/559561-russia-sanctions-removal-lavrov/

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/06/21/ukraine-war-europe-turns-to-coal-as-russia-squeezes-gas-supplies.html

https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20220620-dutch-join-germany-austria-in-reverting-to-coal

https://www.rt.com/business/557503-austria-coal-green-energy/

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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov : Member countries of the African Union

July 29, 2022

Editorial Comment: Mr Lavrov’s visits to Arab states, the Arab League, and African states can only be described as a stunning victory and a complete triumph for diplomacy. A short overview is included in the second part of this Operation Z situation report: http://thesaker.is/sitrep-operation-z-collapses-and-progress/
All of the various transcripts can be read at the MFA site: https://www.mid.ru/en/
Short comments and summaries can be found on the MFA Telegram Channel: https://t.me/MFARussia



Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to the questions during a meeting with permanent representatives of the member countries of the African Union and the diplomatic corps, Addis Ababa, July 27, 2022

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Representatives of the media,

Thank you very much for coming here at our invitation. I believed that being in Addis Ababa, it is absolutely important to meet with the African Union members, like I did during all my previous visits. We could not do this at the headquarters for, as far as I understand, scheduling reasons. And I’m glad that you’ve accepted our invitation to come here to the Russian Embassy to discuss issues which are on the top of international agenda.

Many of our Western colleagues try to send the message that the key, if not the only, problem in international relations is the situation around Ukraine. I tend to disagree with such an assertion and during my visit here and  in my previous encounters with my foreign colleagues, I sense a broad understanding that the issue is much more complex and complicated.

What we witness now, especially as the West launches an unprecedented campaign of sanctions, accusations, threats, vis-à-vis Russia and anybody who dares to support Russia or even not to condemn Russia. This campaign indicates that we are living through a very important historical period, a period where we will all be deciding what kind of universe we are going to have and to leave for our children and grandchildren. The universe which is based on the United Nations Charter, which says that the United Nations is founded on the principle of sovereign equality of states, or we will have the world where the right of force, the right of the strongest dominates.

Actually, what it is all about can be described on the following example. Is it our choice to have the world where we have the so-called collective West, totally subordinated to the United States and feeling free, feeling that it has the right to decide when and how to promote its own interests without following the international law, without any respect to the sovereign equality of states?

When our American colleagues felt in the past that there was a threat to their interests, tens of thousands kilometers from the American coast, be it Yugoslavia in 1999, be it Iraq in 2003, be it Libya in 2011, and many other occasions, without any hesitation, without explaining anything to anybody, very often on false pretexts, they just started military operations levelling cities, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, like it happened in Iraq in the city of Mosul which was literally levelled. The same happened to Raqqa in Syria, where dozens and hundreds of corpses have been lying for weeks unattended and I don’t recall the progressive civilized community raising any big noise about that situation.

When the Russian Federation, not just overnight, but for the last ten long years has been drawing the attention of the United States and its allies to the unacceptable policy which they have been promoting on Ukraine, building Ukraine as a stronghold to contain Russia, pumping more and more modern arms in Ukraine, planning to build naval and military bases in that country and encouraging in all possible ways Russophobic policies of its leaders; when in 2014 we categorically protested to the West that in spite of its guarantees, the opposition in Ukraine staged a bloody coup and when they came to power, the first thing they did was to demand to cancel the status of the Russian language which has been the historical language of Ukraine from the very beginning. They also demanded the Russians to get out of Crimea. They sent armed groups to storm the Parliament of Crimea and then the eastern part of Ukraine protested against the coup.

The putchists called them separatists, terrorists and started a full-fledged military operation against them. And the West as I’ve said, which had guaranteed only a few days before that – guaranteed a peace deal between the former president and the opposition, the deal which provided for creation of a government of national unity and early elections, – this deal was disrupted overnight and the opposition bragged that they created the government of the winners.

See the difference: the government of national unity and the government of the winners. This was an invitation for the civil war because the opposition called part of its own citizens “losers” while the opposition became “winners”.

So when this all started we managed, together with some other countries, to stop it in February 2015 – Minsk Agreements were signed – keeping Ukraine one-piece.

The eastern territories of Ukraine that originally after the coup declared independence were persuaded not to insist on independence and to agree to stay inside Ukraine by these Minsk Agreements, provided they are given a special status. First of all, the right to use the Russian language.

This was endorsed by the Security Council and this was systemically and totally ignored and sabotaged by the Kiev regime with the encouragement of the West.

There was no direct dialogue between Kiev and those territories in spite of the fact that this was directly demanded from the Ukrainian regime by the Security Council.

And few weeks ago the former President of Ukraine P.Poroshenko who signed the Minsk Agreements, proudly stated to the media that “When I was signing it, I never intended to implement it. We just needed more time to get more weapons from the West in order to enable us to resolve the problem of Ukrainian East by the use of force.” Very honestly.

But this is totally neglected by the West. So we have been knocking on the door of our Western colleagues at least since 2013, telling them that this is absolutely a red line when you create a direct threat to the Russian Federation just on our borders. When you create a Russophobic state, which during all these years, managed to pass series of laws, prohibiting – physically, literally, – the use of Russian language in education, in culture, in media, and even in day-to-day life.

And at the same time, legislation was passed to legalize neo-Nazi theories and practices. Neo-Nazi battalions with swastikas and insignias of Waffen-SS, have been mushrooming in Ukraine and becoming the cornerstone of the Ukrainian Army.

It’s a very radicalized country. They glorify the collaborators of Hitler condemned by the Nuremberg Tribunal and all this is being done with silent encouragement by the United States and the European Union. And the process which I’ve described was accompanied by the Western attempts, not attempts – policy – to pull Ukraine into NATO.

Dozens of military exercises of NATO with Ukraine were held on Ukrainian territory with an obvious anti-Russian dimension. The efforts of Russia during all these years – it was not just, you know, we say today that this is a threat and excuse us, but we need to remove this threat. It has been happening for at least ten years.

When we’ve told our Western colleagues, “Guys, why are you pulling Ukraine to NATO? You know that this is a hostile organization vis-a-vis Russia, they were telling us, ‘Don’t worry, it will not be detrimental to your security.’”

Russia, as any other self-respectful country has the right to determine itself what is good for its security and what is not. In that case, NATO members led by the United States, opted to decide for us what is good for the Russian Federation.

We reminded them that many years ago in 2010, they all signed up a declaration saying that the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe will be based on the principle of equal and indivisible security, which means that any country can choose alliances, but no country has the right in choosing alliances to increase its security at the expense of the security of other countries. And that no single organization in Europe can pretend to dominate the security space.

NATO is doing exactly this. And NATO, of course, is strengthening the security of its own at the expense of the security of the Russian Federation, because the borders of NATO have been moved just to the borders of Russia.

So we told them, “Guys, political commitments to which your presidents and prime ministers put the signatures don’t work. Let’s make this principle that the security is indivisible and must be equal for all, let’s make it legally binding.”

And we suggested to them respective treaties several times. First, back in 2009 and the last attempt was in December of 2021. And they told us, “Look gentlemen, first there would be no legally binding security guarantees except for NATO members. And second, as regards Ukraine, the relations between NATO and Ukraine are none of your business.” And that was the end of it.

And parallel with this absolute rejection of constructive efforts we have been undertaking for many, many years, parallel to this the Ukrainians, in violation of the Minsk Agreements, started to accumulate huge military force on the line of contact with the eastern part of the country where the two republics have been under siege, basically. They intensified radically the shelling and bombing of those territories.

When we understood that there would be no agreement on security guarantees in Europe which would be equal, when we understood that there would be no implementation of the Minsk Agreements because the Ukrainian leadership publicly renounced this, and when we understood that the only way to save the people in the east of Ukraine was to recognize these two republics, we did so.

We signed the Treaty on Mutual Assistance with them and at their request, we are now exercising a special military operation aimed at saving lives of the citizens of the Donbass and removing any possibility for Ukrainian territory to be used to threaten the security of the Russian Federation.

I am sure that you have been following the events. I know that the Western media presents the situation in a totally distorted manner. If only to mention the so-called food crisis, as if nothing was of concern before February this year.

If you read the reports of the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization, you will refresh your memory and establish the fact that the problems in the world food market started at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when in an attempt to fight this virus and the pandemic consequences the US, the EU and Japan have made an emission for eight trillion dollars’ worth without any economic substantiation, and they use this empty money to buy food and all other goods which they believe would be necessary in case pandemic takes long and there will be closure of countries.

Then there were, of course, increases, long ago, of the price of fertilizers because of the reckless policy of the Western countries on the so-called Green Transition, because the energy supplies, the classical energy resources were more or less discriminated and all this has brought the price of fertilizers high, which of course affected the price of food, and so on and so forth. And then there were not very conducive climate conditions for a couple of years.

And yes, the situation in Ukraine did affect, additionally, negatively affected food markets. But not because of the Russian special operation, rather due to the absolutely inadequate reaction of the West, which announced sanctions, undermining the availability of the food on the markets.

When we explain this to them, they say, “Food and fertilizers are not covered by sanctions”. Yes, but you know, half-truth is worse than a lie. And the truth is that the list of sanctions does not contain an item saying “food”, but what it does contain is prohibition for the Russian ships to call to the ports in the Mediterranean, prohibition for the foreign ships to call on the Russian ports, to pick up food and other cargo, prohibition to insure the Russian ships, because of which insurance prices quadrupled overnight. And of course, prohibition for the main Russian bank, Russian Agricultural Bank, which has always served the payments for Russian food exports – it was listed in the European Union sanctions.

So the latest attempt by our Turkish friends and the Secretary General of the United Nations resulted in a deal between Russia and the United Nations, whereby Secretary General Guterres committed himself to press the Western countries to lift those restrictions, which I just quoted. We’ll see whether he can succeed.

And the same deal as you know, provided for Ukraine an obligation to demine its coastal line for the ships which have been locked there, I think 70 ships from 16 countries since February, to allow them out of the Ukrainian territorial waters, after which Turkish and Russian fleet will ensure their safe travel to the straits and then to the Mediterranean.

So those were the agreements, which could have been announced long, long ago, if not for the Western stubbornness in insisting that they are always right, and all those who don’t agree with them, of course, are always wrong.

A similar situation is taking place with the energy markets. Many years ago, before February this year, the West started discriminating Russian energy projects. First, the project called Nord Stream 1 was limited by 50% of its capacity for no good reason at all. Europe deprived itself of 50% of Russian cheap, accessible gas.

Then Nord Stream 2 was blocked by absolutely illegal action when the legal committee of the European Union ruled that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline was built and financed and invested, fully aligned with the existing European norms.

But after that, the European Commission changed the rules retrospectively and applied the new rules to the investment which took place legally several years ago.

So Nord Stream 2 is also not available. Poland, several months ago, stopped taking gas from a direct pipeline from Russia. Ukraine stopped one of the two transit lines through its territory from Russia. And there was some hassle with that turbine which went for maintenance to Canada, then Canada didn’t want to bring it back.

I listed five or six factors which immediately negatively affected gas supplies to Europe volume-wise. And, of course, the less you buy from Russia through a pipeline, which is a price established for long-term, the more expensive prices on the spot.

It reached yesterday, I think, $2,200 for a thousand cubic meters. So the attempts to blame us for everything which goes wrong is an attempt with not very clean purposes and intentions.

What is my point? My point is that it’s a period of history where we will have to choose either to go down the current, which the West tries to move, saying that the world must be run not by international law, but by the rules.

They coined an expression “rules-based world order”. And if you analyze the behavior of our Western colleagues in the international arena, you will understand that these rules differ from case to case. There is no single criteria. There is no single principle, except one. If I want something, you have to obey. If you don’t obey, you would be punished.

This is the picture for the future offered to us by the rules-based world order promoted by the West. Basically, this is the unipolar world where the United States, which subordinated to its own will everybody else in the European Union and allies in Asia… This is the offer. Not even an offer, it is an ultimatum actually.

The alternative to this, and I’m sure that the overwhelming majority of the world countries do not want to live as if the colonial times came back, that the vast majority of the states want to be independent, want to rely on their own tradition, to rely on their own history, to rely on their old friends, don’t want to betray their old friends.

And this is basically evident from the fact that except two or three developing countries, no one else in Africa, Asia or Latin America joined the illegal American and European sanctions.

And back to the United Nations Charter. I believe, when we speak about more just, more democratic world order, we don’t need to invent anything. Once again, I quote the Charter which says that the United Nations is based on the principle of sovereign equality of states.

And to recognize that each state is independent, each state has the right to determine how it wants to live, what kind of economic, social, political system it wants to choose on the basis of the will of its people. And I have no slightest doubt that any normal state wants to be like this. Nobody wants to have enemies. This is also an absolute truth. Neither Russia nor any other country present in this hall – I have no doubt.

But if countries, like we witness now the behavior of the West, if they do want to have enemies, as they publicly declared in their doctrines, in the decisions of the latest NATO summit in Madrid – they do want enemies, they appoint enemies, they appoint the order in which they handle these enemies. Now Russia is the first, China is earmarked as the existential challenge for the long term. And all this manifests in renewed thinking about how the world economy and the world system operates.

If the US and the European Union – under the demand of the US – decided to freeze the Russian reserves – and now they seriously start a legal process to prepare the basis to confiscate the Russian money – who knows… If they become irritated by somebody else tomorrow or the day after, they might do the same.

In other words, the reliance on dollar as the instrument supporting the world economy is not very promising, frankly speaking. And it is not by incident that more and more countries are shifting to using alternative currencies, shifting to use national currencies more and more, and this process will be gaining momentum.

This is not to say that we are suggesting some kind of revolution against the dollar, against the United States – this is to state the obvious: the West created a system which was based on certain principles – free market, fair competition, sanctity of private property, presumption of innocence, and something else. All these principles have been thrown down the drain when they needed to do what they believe is to punish Russia.

And I don’t have the slightest doubt that, if need be, they will not hesitate to do the same in relation to any other country which would irritate them one way or another.

I mentioned China as the next target. It’s a very interesting example of how the Americans consider fair competition in practice. Actually, China developed into the number one world economy – everybody recognizes this – and China did so, China achieved those results, working and acting on the basis of the rules established by the West. The IMF, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the rules to settle disputes, competition and the stuff. China accepted those rules in developing its own economy and China defeated the West, economically and trade-wise, investment-wise, on its own turf, on the basis of the rules invented by the West.

And what happened next? Already a couple of years ago, the Secretary of Treasury of the United States and some other officials started saying, “We need to reform the Bretton Woods Institutions, we need to reform the WTO and we need to organize this reform between the US and Europe not to allow anybody else to participate in developing new rules.”

Guys, it is absolutely obvious, how they want this world to be operated. And I believe, as long as it is not too late, we would be ready to talk to our Western friends when they come back to their senses about how they think they should live together with all of us in the future. But this conversation can only be made on full equality, with full respect to the legitimate interests of all of us.

If I took too long of your time, I apologize. And I understand there might be a couple of questions, right?

Question: Your Excellency, Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation,

On behalf of the people of South Sudan, the Government and on my own behalf, I wish to take this opportunity to express my personal gratitude to the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Ethiopia for inviting me and my delegation here.

We are grateful that our two countries, the Russian Federation and the Republic of South Sudan enjoy cordial bilateral relations, dating back to the day of our declaration of independence, where the Russian people and their Government were among those who recognized our statehood on July 9, 2011. Since then Your Excellency, the people and the governments of two countries have stood with the people and the Government of South Sudan in many ways.

The people of South Sudan wish to express their gratitude for your immense support in the UNSC, the Human Rights Council in Geneva and other activities where you supported us. First of all, as you explained, Your Excellency, you outlined your view on sanctions. Now we know what’s really going on.

On the current political situation in my country I would like to inform Your Excellency the Minister that the signed revitalized peace agreement of 2018 is holding despite the challenges that you have mentioned. These include numerous sanctions by Western countries and their allies, and an arms embargo. Other factors of concern are natural disasters, such as heavy rains…

Sergey Lavrov: I apologize, can you pass on this text? Because it would be useful and more polite to the others. Ok? Please, pass it. Thank you!

Just one remark. We are against those sanctions which are intended to punish people. And don’t forget that the initiators of these sanctions against you are exactly the same countries who wanted to create South Sudan out of Sudan.

Question: Thank you very much for giving a very detailed and covering all important aspects in your briefing. A short question: How the hegemony of dollar can be controlled by international community because right now the countries like Pakistan and many developing countries are suffering from huge debt that continues to grow. The problem is getting worse. I would like you to clarify the situation.

Sergey Lavrov: I am not an expert in monetary affairs. What I said was it’s an obvious feeling by many countries that the dollar is not reliable, because the capricious behavior could be aimed at anyone in the future.

I know that you can feel this on yourself, if you compare the situation of 20-30 years ago and now. So, it’s life. It’s life. And nobody wants to go to war because of the dollar and I believe this is crazy.  But people want to have some insurance as regards the reliability of their economic and trade relations with their partners. And there are examples, including the use of national currencies, including barter, including clearing mechanisms. Some might say this is going back to the past instruments of conducting trade. But there would be digital currencies, I don’t have the slightest doubt, which are already being developed in China, for example, in Venezuela, in Iran.

We are thinking about this as well. It’s the beginning of a process. Now we have accumulated the elements of the problem and we know that it must be addressed.

Question: With an approach of winter during which gas importations increase. How does Russia going to export its gas and circumvent the sanctions imposed? 15 African countries import more than 50% of their grain from Russia. The situation also affected the exports from African countries to Russia. How does Russia intend to manage trade relations with Africa?

Sergey Lavrov: I think I addressed both issues in my remarks. I hope you listened to me. Antonio Guterres personally promised to make sure that the US and EU remove any obstacles to the export of Russian grain. If you add your noble voice to his efforts, I think it would be useful.

And on gas prices – I also explained how Europe systemically, during the last almost ten years, was creating barriers on the way of bringing to European countries cheap and accessible Russian gas.

I listed five or six specific decisions which were cutting more and more of Russian exports, vacating the room in Europe for much more expensive LNG from the United States, just like, you know, the US insists that Europe sends all its weapons to Ukraine, vacating the arms market in Europe for the import of American weapons. It’s “nothing personal, it’s business.”

As regards your country (Algeria), the Europeans are now thinking of alternative sources of supply. They have suffocated themselves with their own hands the pipeline routes from Russia. Now they are  looking for alternatives. And I know that the Mediterranean, including Algeria, is one of those sources.

They would be asking you to help, and it’s up to your companies to decide, it’s up to your government to decide.

In our case, according to our experiences that when we had long-term contracts with Europe, these long-term contracts protected our interests. But, a few years ago, Europe started cutting long-term contracts saying, “Let’s shift to the spot market”. And the spot market does not guarantee that you will have a long-term investment justified.

So, what we see now is not a scientific, not a responsible approach to the energy markets – it’s a hectic search for something which can save you this winter, with the green agenda shelved for the time being.

The coal is coming back, polluting the atmosphere – it’s a mess, if you take a look at the energy and environment policy that Europe is promoting. I am sorry to say this. We are not getting any happiness or joy from what Europe is experiencing, but they have been doing this to themselves for quite some time already.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have to apologize because the minister – my colleague from Ethiopia – is   waiting for me for the next event. Once again I want to thank you whole-heartedly for accepting our invitation. I hope it was not a waste of time. I tried to be as frank as I can, and we would be ready to promote dialogue with the African Union.

Unfortunately, we could not meet at the headquarters. And we would be ready for a dialogue on all these and any other issues of interest and of importance with you bilaterally. With all of you we have good relations and channels of communication.

I wish you all the best and keep healthy. Thank you very much.

Sayyed Nasrallah: If Oil Extraction from Karish Began in Sept. & Lebanon Didn’t Get Its Due, There Will Be A Problem

29 Jul 2022

Subtitled by Staff

Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warned the “Israeli” entity that “If oil and gas extraction from Karish began in September and Lebanon did not get its due, then there will be a problem”.

His Eminence’s remarks came in an interview with the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen channel on Monday as part of the “Dialogue of the 40th Anniversary” about the achievements of the Resistance over the past several decades.

With English and French subtitles

Macron Hosts MBS Regardless of Outrage over Khashoggi Murder

JULY 28, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

French President Emmanuel Macron is hosting Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [MBS] for talks in Paris on Thursday, regardless of criticism that the invitation is deeply inappropriate barely four years after the murder by Saudi agents of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The meeting is seen as the latest step in the readmission of the de-facto ruler of the kingdom into the international fold, after US President Joe Biden met him earlier this month.

The topics set to loom over the meeting include energy supply as concern grows over possible power shortages in wake of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, as well as reining in the nuclear program of Riyadh’s top regional foe Iran.

“I feel profoundly troubled by the visit, because of what it means for our world and what is means for Jamal [Khashoggi] and people like him,” Amnesty International secretary general Agnes Callamard told AFP, describing MBS as a man who “does not tolerate any dissent.”

The visits mark MBS’ first trip to the EU since the murder of Khashoggi by Saudi agents at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in 2018, a crime that a UN probe described as an “extrajudicial killing for which Saudi Arabia is responsible.”

It also said there was “credible evidence” warranting further investigation of the individual liability of high-level Saudi officials, including MBS.

US intelligence agencies determined that MBS had “approved” the operation that led to Khashoggi’s death, though Riyadh denies this, blaming rogue operatives.

The killing drew outrage not just over the elimination of a prominent critic of the Saudi regime, but also for the manner in which it was carried out. Khashoggi was lured into the Saudi consulate on October 2, 2018, strangled and dismembered, reportedly with a bonesaw.

His reception by world leaders is “all the more shocking given many of them at the time expressed disgust [over the killing] and a commitment not to bring MBS back into the international community,” Callamard added, denouncing the “double standard.”

But despite the concern over Saudi Arabia’s rights record, the kingdom is seen by many in the West as an essential partner due to its energy resources, purchases of weaponry and staunch opposition to Iran.

Western countries resume their relationship with Riyadh after the isolation imposed on Ibn Salma

Hold Your Breath. Europe Is at the Tipping Point, As the Abyss is Closer Than We Think

July 28, 2022

Source

By Martin Jay

It’s Italy which will fire the starter’s gun on a turnaround on the EU’s policy on Russia and the Ukraine war.

It might well be Italy which marks the starting point of a demise of sorts of the EU, as the coalition government collapses. Mario Draghi, who might be remembering interest rate hikes like the ECB’s this week, which only happened previously when he was the boss overseeing the eurozone crisis, is out.

By resigning his post as PM, he must be that he sees the writing on the wall and that we are heading towards another eurozone crisis.

Right now, the euro has already slumped to parity with the dollar and Eurozone inflation averages about 8.6 per cent (although it’s now 10 per cent in Spain, 12 per cent in Greece and a thundering 20 per cent in Estonia). Have a heart for Croatia which is planning on joining the eurozone soon.

But it’s Italy which will fire the starter’s gun on a turnaround on the EU’s policy on Russia and the Ukraine war. In September a snap election is almost certain to put in power as a coalition two of Italy’s far-right groups, whose leaders both have an admiration for Putin.

Once this happens, others in the EU will see how ludicrous it is to continue the so-called punishment of Putin, which in reality destroys economies and ruins lives across the EU 27-member bloc. Other EU countries will see that Italy’s desperate situation of having debt at 150 % of its GDP and double-digit inflation can only be rescued by a radical political change. Elites in other EU countries will be scared that populist uprisings which throw out incumbent mainstream parties are heading their way once they see the Italian economy go from boiling to a gentle simmer. And once the Italian coalition is in place, dialogue — something which we haven’t seen yet from the EU — will begin with Putin.

Putin is laughing all the way to the bank in Ukraine with this present crisis that Europe has created for itself. There is no urgency on his side to really do anything. The EU is lowering itself into an acid bath all by itself and all he needs to do is watch it like watching a comedy on TV.

The Italian change in politics will be a huge blow to the EU as well, which is really spiralling out of control. Who could have imagined that a political has-been like Ursula von der Leyen would be quite as useless as she has turned out to be. By definition — and tradition — European Commission presidents are supposed to be pretty inept and servile to their masters France and Germany. But few could have guessed how Ursula would have messed up so badly on Brexit, Covid, Russia and soon the eurozone itself.

The EU is only as strong as the three giants of Europe — Germany, France and Italy — which it is supposed to protect. Yet for the first time in 30 years, Germany has a trade deficit and it talking about energy rationing with many factories in the country expected to close down or run on half production soon.

All the pressure will be in the ECB as another eurozone crisis looms when Italy is forced to pay back higher rates to its debtors due to the ECB slowing down printing of new currency. This is extremely dangerous for Italy and could bring about a total collapse of its economy like Greece. The difference is that Italy is a founding EU country and it is too big to collapse, which means that France and Germany will have to keep it on a life support machine. It is hard to imagine this scenario without a change of heart from Macron and Scholz with regards to the war in Ukraine and the EU’s view in general towards Putin. Germany has just recently started to show signs of wanting to take a different tact on Putin. Recently, it was revealed that an aid package of 9 bn euros, destined for Ukraine, was held up by Berlin, coupled with the Germans failing to resupply countries supporting Ukraine with tanks which it earlier promised. These are not ‘cracks’ appearing. These signs are more prolific than this and we are more likely to see squabbles soon between Scholz and von der Leyen in Brussels, with Macron intervening to look for a new dialogue with Putin.

The once golden relationship between the U.S. and the EU is also grinding to a halt. The EU will soon be more divided than ever about the war in Ukraine and Biden’s almost certain self-destruction at the midterms in November will see to a great reduction in the U.S. role of supplying arms to Zelensky. There will be a blame game which will be crafted carefully for weeks in the media beforehand which points to endemic corruption in the Ukrainian elite and the illegal sales of much of the U.S. hardware to Syrian jihadists. This has already started in fact, but has not yet shifted into top gear, which should be expected over the summer period before the Italian elections. The West needs to get out of the war in Ukraine and it needs a gilt-edged reason for the U-turn. Zelensky, as ever, will provide them with the perfect excuses, as he never fails in his primary role of useful idiot — that is of course if he survives assassination attempts from his own cabal who want a larger slice of the cake. The Left’s preposterous notion of fighting a full-on war in Ukraine with NATO forces will be nipped at the bud by fascists in Italy who believe in the power of feeding people and giving them public services rather than the folly of geopolitical chest-beating and the foibles which accompany such nonsense. Who would have thought that the descendants of Mussolini would direct the EU away from the abyss which it is hell bent on throwing itself over?

Gravitas: Zelensky poses for Vogue as Ukraine loses towns to Russia

July 28, 2022

Asking exactly the correct questions.

The Zelenskys’ Vogue Photoshoot Exposes What A Charade The Ukrainian Conflict Has Become

Jul 28 2022

Source

By Andrew Korybko

Westerners have been indoctrinated into believing that the First Family is struggling just like their compatriots. Zelensky, for example, almost never changes his shirt so folks assumed that life must be very difficult for the Ukrainian President if he can’t even practice proper hygiene. The last thing that they could have expected is that he’s actually living a pretty swanky life with his wife, both of whom come off as totally carefree and relaxed.

The Zelenskys allowed Vogue to do a glamorous photoshoot of them the other day in a move that triggered surprisingly sharp criticisms among many Westerners, with even Newsweek (which can’t by any stretch of the imagination be described as so-called “Russian propaganda”) reporting on how many people considered it to be inappropriate. Up until this point, it was considered “taboo” in terms of Western “political correctness” to ever criticize anything that this wartime leader and his family does. Those who did so were condemned as so-called “Russian propagandists” who were supposedly seeking to “divide the West”. Now, however, it’s apparently alright to give him and his wife a tongue lashing.

It’s understandable why many Westerners were so upset by the Zelenskys’ Vogue photoshoot. After all, they’ve been indoctrinated into believing that the First Family is struggling just like their compatriots. Zelensky, for example, almost never changes his shirt so folks assumed that life must be very difficult for the Ukrainian President if he can’t even practice proper hygiene. People imagined that he’s toiling away in a secret bunker somewhere while leading the war with his generals, all of whom are supposedly targets of shadowy Russian assassins. The last thing that they could have expected is that he’s actually living a pretty swanky life with his wife, both of whom come off as totally carefree and relaxed.  

Vogue went too far in their contribution to his cult of personality and thus inadvertently triggered an unprecedented backlash against the man who the West has painstakingly attempted to present to the public as a “secular god”. They’ve already failed to convince Africans to join their new cult as evidenced by only four of their leaders tuning in to listen to his virtual address to the African Union in late June, which was a major snubbing of the man whom the West demands that everyone pays their respects to without exception. Even so, American perception managers took for granted that their cult will continue to thrive among the Western masses, yet Vogue just messed everything up for them in a huge way.

Many Westerners have come to resent the tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer funds that have been given to Zelensky without them having a word in this process, let alone there being any oversight whatsoever regarding how he uses their money. Still, they mostly remained silent out of so-called “solidarity” with his “cause”, while those who spoke out were mercilessly smeared as “Russian agents” like was earlier explained. Now, however, the multitude of people who’d begun to resent Zelensky are finally speaking out after how disgusted they were with his and his wife’s Vogue photoshoot, which showed that he’s just another entitled member of the elite who isn’t struggling at all.

Any decent person would be furious to see a self-proclaimed wartime leader living the life of luxury that the Zelenskys enjoy, some of which is presumably funded by Western taxpayers. He’s supposed to be an icon of struggle, not elitism, yet he, his wife, and Vogue were so tone-deaf and caught up with taking his cult of personality to the next level that they didn’t think for a second how the Western masses would react to his photoshoot. All they wanted to do was make him and his wife out to be the most glamorous people on the planet, which incensed many Westerners who are openly disgusted with the easy life that they have at others’ expense while their own people are struggling.

This scandal is emblematic of what a charade the Ukrainian Conflict has become. Everything that Westers were told by their media has turned out to be false. From Snake Island to the Ghost of Kiev and now the “folk legend” of the Zelenskys supposedly “suffering in solidarity with their people”, the whole thing has been nothing but an unprecedented perception management operation waged by their own governments with the intent of misleading their people. Now that the Western masses are waking up and are no longer afraid to speak out and condemn the Zelenskys’ lavish excesses in life (some of which are presumably paid for with their tax dollars), other perceptions might soon change too.

For instance, it’s only a matter of time before some of these same newly enraged people start wondering why the conflict began in the first place if everything else that they’ve been told about it has proven to be false. Others might ask whether the Zelensky deserve any more of their taxes after seeing the life of luxury that they enjoy despite supposedly living under Russian missiles. All told, the “official narrative” over the Ukrainian Conflict is beginning to crumble after Vogue went too far in its attempts to take Zelensky’s cult of personality to the next level, which counterproductively inspired the Western masses to finally speak out against him and start asking uncomfortable questions about the conflict.

EU finds signs of Israeli spyware use on top official phones: Letter

28 Jul 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders stated in a letter dated July 25 that Apple alerted him in November 2021 of possible hacking of his smartphone by the Israeli Pegasus software.

Israeli cyber firm NSO Group’s exhibition stand at an Israeli security expo in “Tel Aviv” (Reuters)

The European Commission, the EU executive’s arm in Brussels, has discovered indications that the phones of some of its top officials have been targeted with spy software designed by Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group.

EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders stated in a letter dated July 25 to Dutch MEP Sophie in’t Veld that Apple alerted him in November 2021 of possible hacking of his smartphone by the Israeli Pegasus software.

Pegasus is Israeli spyware that targeted prominent and influential figures all around the globe, including politicians and journalists.

The Israeli NSO Group-developed spyware leaks stated that there are more than 50,000 records of phone numbers that NSO clients selected for surveillance since 2016.

An internal investigation did not “confirm that Pegasus had succeeded in infecting the devices, personal or professional,” of him or other EU employees as per Reynders’ letter.

But “several device checks led to the discovery of indicators of compromise”, the letter said, stressing that “it is impossible to attribute these clues to a specific perpetrator with certainty.”

The letter did not provide further details on the outcome of the Commission’s investigation, which is still ongoing, citing security concerns.

It is worth noting that in ‘t Veld is part of an EU Parliament investigation into Pegasus, which is looking into allegations of Pegasus spyware used by EU governments, including HungaryPoland, and Spain.

After a scandal involving the use of Pegasus to hack top politicians’ mobile phones, Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, vowed last month to tighten oversight of the country’s secret services.

The scandal broke in April, when Citizen Lab, a Canadian cybersecurity watchdog, revealed that the phones of more than 60 people associated with the Catalan separatist movement had been tapped with Pegasus spyware.

Reynders stated that the commission had sent requests for additional information on Pegasus usage to Hungary, Poland, and Spain.

Almost a year now, the world continues to react to the Pegasus spyware scandal as press reports continue to reveal how it aimed to target powerful and prominent figures, including politicians, journalists, and activists.

Read More

انطلاق المقاومة ضد الاحتلال الأميركيّ في سورية

 الخميس 28 تموز 2022

ناصر قنديل

-عام 2014 كان مفصلياً في حياة سورية عندما ظهر الطريق المسدود أمام مشروع إسقاط الدولة ورئيسها، وفشل الرهان على عشرات آلاف الإرهابيين الذين تم جلبهم من كل أنحاء الدنيا، وتكفل بهم الجيش السوري بدعم قوى المقاومة بإلحاق الهزيمة بهم، فجاء الجواب مركباً، تم تصنيع تنظيم داعش بقرار أميركي كشفه الرئيس السابق دونالد ترامب مشيراً بإصبع الاتهام إلى هيلاري كلينتون، ثم تمّ اتخاذ ظهور داعش وتمدده ذريعة للتمركز الأميركي على الأراضي السورية وعودتها الى الأراضي العراقية، وبالتوازي قام الجيش التركي الذي قدّم الملاذ لتكوين داعش وتنظيم صفوفه، كما فعل مع التشكيلات الإرهابية التي سبقته، بالتوغل داخل الأراضي السورية محكماً السيطرة على محافظة إدلب وأجزاء من محافظة حلب، وكما اتخذت أميركا من صنيعتها داعش ذريعة لاحتلال محافظتي الحسكة والرقة، وقامت بتشجيع نشوء كانتون كردي مسلح فيهما، اتخذ الرئيس التركي من ظهور الكانتون التركي ذريعة احتلال قواته للأراضي السورية، وتهديده الدائم بتوسيع عمله العسكري إلى المزيد من الأراضي.

نهاية عام 2015 بدأ التحول المعاكس مع تموضع القوات الروسية في سورية، وتناغم الأداء الروسي السوري الإيراني بمشاركة المقاومة لخوض حرب إنهاء داعش في سورية، بينما كان الحشد الشعبي مع المقاومة و الجمهورية الإسلامية الإيرانية يعيدون تكوين الجيش العراقي بالتوازي مع خوض معركة تحرير العراق، وتحقق ستاتيكو استراتيجي في البلدين، حيث الاحتلال الأميركي والاحتلال التركي يسيطران على الأراضي السورية في عدة محافظات تعادل ثلث مساحة سورية، وبعض الأراضي العراقية، لكن مشروع اسقاط العراق وسورية بات من الماضي، حتى جاءت قمة طهران وفتحت طريق كسر معادلة هذا الستاتيكو، حيث تموضعت روسيا الى جانب ايران وراء الدولة السورية، سواء بقرار رعاية مقاومة سورية وطنية وشعبية بوجه الاحتلال الأميركي، أو بقرار الجيش السوري مواجهة أي عمل عسكري تركي نحو الأراضي السورية، والمعادلة واضحة، إنهاء الاحتلال الأميركي ينهي الكانتون الكردي ويسقط الذريعة التركية، فيفتح الباب لوضع مستقبل الاحتلال التركي على الطاولة، بينما يتولى الحشد الشعبي في العراق تذكير الأتراك بجدية القرار، بحتمية وقف العمليات وانسحاب الاحتلال.

خلال السنوات التي مضت نضج وعي شرائح واسعة من أبناء سورية في مناطق الجزيرة، شرق الفرات حيث الاحتلال الأميركي، لصالح مشروع المقاومة، وبذلت الدولة السورية ومؤسساتها العسكرية والأمنية جهوداً جدية ودؤوبة على تنظيم صفوف قوى المقاومة السورية، وكانت قوى المقاومة في المنطقة المساندة للدولة السورية تنقل خبراتها لهذه المقاومة الصاعدة، وكانت إيران لا تبخل بما ينبغي لتكوين قوة المقاومة الواعدة، وخرجت تظاهرات عديدة بوجه الاحتلال الأميركي، ووقعت مصادمات شعبية مع وحدات الاحتلال، ونفذت عمليات محدودة متباعدة ضد مواقع الاحتلال، لكن قبل أيام قليلة بدا أن قرار بدء العمل المقاوم المتواصل حتى طرد الاحتلال الأميركي قد اتخذ، فكان كلام وزير الخارجية السورية فيصل المقداد عن حتمية انسحاب قوات الاحتلال الأميركي، والا فسيلقى مقاومة شعبية تجبره على الخروج، إشارة واضحة بهذا الاتجاه.

. لم يبق للاحتلال من ذريعة بعد حرمان داعش من أي ملاذ آمن، غير المناطق التي يسيطر عليها الاحتلال الأميركي نفسه، وفضائح قيامه بنقل بعض قيادات داعش الى أفغانستان قبل انسحابه منها ضجت بها وسائل إعلام غربية، وكلام ترامب العلني عن تبرير الاحتلال بسرقة النفط بحد ذاته فضيحة، وطرد الاحتلال سيعني حكماً تحرير ثروات سورية من النفط والغاز، وما يترتب على ذلك من عودة فورية للكهرباء الى كل المناطق السورية، وحل أزمات المحروقات التي يعاني منها كل السوريين، والأميركي معني بأن يفهم بأن قصف معسكراته هذه المرة بالصواريخ ليس إلا بداية لعمل سيتواصل، ويفرض عليه الانسحاب، وعليه أن يختار سحب قواته عمودياً، أي وهم أحياء، قبل أن يبدأ بسحبهم أفقياً، أي في التوابيت.

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Israeli Human Rights Violations in Occupied Palestine (Weekly Update 21-27 July 2022)

28. 07. 2022

Violation of right to life and bodily integrity:

Two Palestinians were killed and 16 others, including 3 children, a person with disability and journalist, were injured by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF)’s fire, while dozens of others suffocated in IOF attacks in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. Details are as follows:

On 24 July 2022, IOF killed two members of the Palestinian armed groups and wounded 4 civilians, including one in serious condition.  This happened during IOF incursion into Palestinian Authority-controlled areas and targeting a residential house with explosives and bullets in Nablus’s Old City.  Details are here.

Meanwhile, those injured were victims of excessive use of force during incursions into the Palestinian cities and villages and IOF suppression of peaceful protests organized by Palestinian civilians and they were as follows:

On 22 July 2022, 5 Palestinians, including 2 children, sustained rubber bullet injuries in clashes erupted following IOF’s suppression of Kafr Qaddoum weekly peaceful protest, northern Qalqilya.  At night, dozens suffocated due to teargas inhalation and sustained bruises after being beaten up following IOF’s incursion into Batn al-Hawa neighborhood in Silwan in East Jerusalem, where IOF raided several houses and violently assaulted their residents.  IOF also arrested a Palestinian and his son and later released them.

On 24 July 2022, a child sustained a bullet injury in his back in clashes after IOF’s incursion into Qabatia village in Jenin.  IOF arrested 3 Palestinians and later withdrew.  

On 24 July 2022, a Palestinian journalist was injured with a bullet in his leg while covering clashes that accompanied IOF’s incursion into Deir Abu Mesh’al village in Ramallah.

On 26 July 2022, a person with disability sustained serious wounds after being shot by IOF at Huwara checkpoint, the southern Nablus entrance, and then taken to an Israeli hospital.  IOF claimed that he did not obey their orders.  On the same day, 4 Palestinians were wounded in clashes that accompanied IOF’s demolition of 2 family houses of 2 Palestinian prisoners, from Salfit, in the Israeli jails.

In the Gaza Strip, 4 IOF shootings were reported on fishing boats off the Gaza Strip shore, and 10 other shootings were reported on agricultural lands in western and eastern Gaza Strip.

So far in 2022, IOF attacks killed 68 Palestinians, including 51 civilians: 14 children, 5 women (one was a journalist Shireen Abu ‘Aqlah), a Palestinian stabbed by an Israeli settler and the rest were activists; 6 of them were assassinated. Also, 984 others were wounded in these attacks, including 114 children, 5 women, and 20 journalists all in the West Bank, except 15 fishermen in the Gaza Strip. Moreover, a male and female prisoners died in the Israeli jails.

Land razing, demolitions, and notices

IOF conducted demolitions that targeted 3 houses and a tinplated room, rendering a family of 12, including 8 children, homeless. Also, IOF razed two commercial facilities and an agricultural land while they handed an order to seize a plot of land and handed 14 cease-construction notices for facilities in the West Bank. Details are as follows:

On 25 July 2022, IOF demolished a house sheltering a family of 12, including 8 children, in Um Qessa village in Hebron.  On the same day, IOF demolished an agricultural room of 90 sqms, western Bani Na’im village in Hebron.  They also handed 7 notices to cease construction works in dwellings and water wells in Eastern Yatta Badiya, Hebron. 

On 26 July 2022, IOF demolished a tinplated room, western Ethna village in Hebron.  IOF also handed 7 notices to cease construction works of 7 houses and a barrack in eastern Yatta, Hebron.  On the same day, IOF demolished 2 facilities (a smithy and a greengrocery shop) near al-Jalama checkpoint, northern Jenin.  IOF also demolished an under-construction house in Um al-Rayhan village behind the annexation wall, southwestern Jenin.

On 27 July 2022, IOF razed 75 dunums and uprooted 1000 olive trees in Hejah village, eastern Qalqilya.  On the same day, the Israeli authorities issued a military order to seize a 780-sqm land at the entrance to Tuwani village, southern Hebron.  This confiscation order came so that IOF establish a  fixed military observation post with steel detector gates at the village entrance, hindering Palestinians’ movement.  It should be noted that this is the 28th gate established at the village and city entrances in Hebron.

Since the beginning of 2022, Israeli occupation forces made 82 families homeless, a total of 489 persons, including 95 women and 233 children. This was the outcome of IOF demolition of 86 houses and 40 residential tents. IOF also demolished 61 other civilian objects, leveled vacant areas of land, and delivered dozens of notices of demolition, cease-construction, and evacuation.

Collective Punishment

On 26 July 2022, under its collective punishment policy against families of Palestinians accused of conducting attacks against Israeli occupation forces (IOF) or settlers, IOF demolished two family houses of two Palestinian prisoners in Salfit in the West Bank, rendering two families of 18, including 2 women and 8 children, homeless. During the demolition, clashes broke out between Palestinians and IOF; as a result, 4 Palestinians were injured.

So far in 2022, IOF demolished 8 houses and sealed a nineth after destroying its internal contents under IOF’s collective punishment policy. Meanwhile, there are many houses threatened of demolition on the same grounds.

Settler-attacks on Palestinian civilians and their properties:

On 22 July 2022, settlers attacked Palestinian shepherds in al-Juwaya area in Hebron, forcing them to leave pastures under threat.

So far this year, settlers carried out 160 attacks on Palestinians and their properties in the West Bank. In one of the attacks, a Palestinian was stabbed to death by a settler.

IOF incursions and arrests of Palestinian civilians:

IOF carried out 178 incursions into the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. Those incursions included raids and searches of civilian houses and facilities and establishment of checkpoints. During those incursions, 54 Palestinians were arrested, including 7 children, and 2 vehicles were confiscated in Hebron.

So far in 2022, IOF conducted 4,925 incursions into the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, during which 2,987 Palestinians were arrested, including 296 children and 26 women. IOF also conducted 24 limited incursions into eastern Gaza Strip and arrested 72 Palestinians, including 41 fishermen, 28 infiltrators, and 3 travelers via Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing.

Israeli collective punishment and closure policy and restrictions on freedom of movement:

Meanwhile, Israeli occupation maintains its illegal and inhuman 15-year closure on the Gaza Strip. Details available in PCHR’s monthly update in the Gaza crossings.

In the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, IOF continues to impose restrictions on the freedom of movement. On top of its 108 permanent checkpoints, IOF established 100 temporary military checkpoints in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.

On 22 July 2022, IOF closed roads in al-Tour neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem’s eastern Old City, blocking traffic.

So far in 2022, IOF established 2563 temporary military checkpoints and arrested 114 Palestinians at those checkpoints

Sayyed Nasrallah: We Have the Ability to Hit Any Target in the Sea of Occupied Palestine

July 27, 2022

Subtitled by Al-Ahed News

Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah revealed that Hezbollah possess “a certain maritime capability which is sufficient to achieve the required deterrence” against the “Israeli” entity.

His Eminence’s remarks came in an interview with the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen channel on Monday as part of the “Dialogue of the 40th Anniversary” about the achievements of the Resistance over the past several decades.

AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN PILGER: “ASSANGE IS THE COURAGEOUS EMBODIMENT OF A STRUGGLE AGAINST THE MOST OPPRESSIVE FORCES IN OUR WORLD”

JULY 27TH, 2022

Source

Oscar Grenfell

In an interview with the World Socialist Web Site, renowned Australian investigative journalist John Pilger has warned that the “US is close to getting its hands on” the courageous WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange.

Last month, British Home Secretary Priti Patel approved Assange’s extradition to the US, where he faces 175 years imprisonment under the Espionage Act for publishing true information exposing American war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. As Pilger explains, Patel’s order will be the subject of a further appeal, but the British judiciary that will adjudicate has facilitated Assange’s persecution every step of the way. This underscores the urgency of a political fight to free Assange, based on the powerful struggles of the working class that are emerging all around the world.

Pilger began his media career in the late 1950s. His first documentary, The Quiet Mutiny, exposed aspects of the US war in Vietnam in 1970. Since then, Pilger has produced more than 50 documentaries, many of them feature-length and centering on revealing the crimes of the major imperialist powers.

In a 2012 Rolling Stone interview, Assange was asked: “Who has been your most critical public supporter?” He replied: “John Pilger, the Australian journalist, has been the most impressive.”

Pilger has been unwavering in his defence of the WikiLeaks publisher. In 2018 and 2019, he addressed Socialist Equality Party rallies, demanding that the Australian government use its diplomatic and legal powers to free Assange.

Because of his principled defence of Assange and opposition to war, Pilger is hardly ever referenced in Australia’s official media, despite being one of the country’s most well-known and respected journalists.

WSWS: After Patel’s announcement allowing extradition, where is the Assange case up to? Are the dangers he confronts of a greater urgency than previously?

John Pilger: It is a dangerous, unpredictable time. Since the Home Secretary signed the extradition order, a provisional appeal has been filed by Julian’s lawyers. ‘Provisional’ is part of the tortuous process of appeal. The lawyers must submit what are known as ‘perfected grounds of appeal’ in the next few weeks, then the US and the Home Secretary file their responses. Only after that does it go to a judge (not sitting in a court) to decide whether or not he will accept it. It may sound meticulous but, having observed it, it looks to me like a finely spun blanket of obfuscation over a profoundly biased system.

Until the High Court hearing last year, I believed the country’s senior judges would reject the US appeal and reclaim something of the mythologised notion of British justice if only for the system’s survival, which partly depends on “face” within the arcane reaches of the British establishment. This show of “independence” in support of justice has happened in the past. In Julian’s case, the facts are surely too outrageous—no properly constituted court would even consider it—yet I was wrong. The decision by the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales last October that the US in effect had the right to fabricate and belatedly introduce “assurances” that had not even been part of previous due process was quite shocking. There was no justice, no process; the guile and ruthlessness of US power was on show. Might is right.

Today, the US knows it is close to getting its hands on Julian. Unlike previous parliaments at Westminster, there is not a single voice speaking up for him. In spite of a tenacious campaign emphasising the threat Julian’s extradition poses to a “free press,” he is barely acknowledged in the media, which remains intensely hostile to him. Journalists have never been as compliant as they are today, and Julian’s case is a reminder—to some—of what they ought to be. He shames them.

WSWS: You have consistently defended Julian for more than ten years. Over that period have you been shocked by the intensity with which he has been pursued?

JP: Perhaps not shocked; as a journalist, I have had my own taste of state ruthlessness. Remember the pursuit of Julian is a measure of his achievements. He informed millions about the deceptions of governments too many trusted; he respected their right to know. It was a remarkable public service.

WSWS: Do you think this is bound up with a broader assault on democratic rights?

JP: Yes, it’s the latest stage of the abandonment of what used to be called “social democracy.” The “rollback” of rights in the US and UK is in reaction to the uprising, in the 1960s an 1970s, of people and their conscientiousness and of ideas of equity. This was an historical “moment” when society was becoming more enlightened; minority and gender rights were gaining acceptance; workers were fighting back. At the same time, the so-called “information age” was launched. It was only partly about information; it was a media age, with the media establishing a ubiquitous, controlling place in people’s lives. One of the most influential books of the time was The Greening of America. On the cover were the words: “There is a revolution coming. It will not be like revolutions of the past. It will originate with the individual.” The message of its author, a young Yale academic, Charles Reich, was that truth-telling and political action had failed and only “culture” and introspection could change the world.

Within a few years, driven by new opportunities of profit, the cult of “me-ism” had subverted people’s sense of acting together, their sense and language of social justice and internationalism. Class, gender and race were separated; class as a way of explaining society became heresy. The personal was the political, and the media was the message. The propaganda was that something called globalism was good for you. Corporatism, its specious language and its authoritarianism, appropriated much about the way we lived, ensuring what the economist Ted Wheelwright called a “Two Thirds Society”—with the bottom third beholden to debt and poverty while an unrecognised class war uprooted and destroyed the power of labour.  In 2008, the election of the first black president in the land of slavery and the fabrication of a new cold war completed the political disorientation of those who, 20 years earlier, would have formed a critical opposition and an anti-war movement.

WSWS: Is there a relationship with the escalation of war, including the US-led confrontations with China and Russia?

JP: Events today are the direct result of plans laid in the 1992 Defence Planning Guidance, a document that laid out how the US would maintain its empire and see off any challenges, real and imagined. The aim was US dominance at any cost, literally. Written by Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney, who would play key roles in the administration of George W. Bush and the invasion of Iraq, it might have been written by Lord Curzon in the 19th century. They formed “The Project for a New American Century.” America, it boasted, “would oversee a new frontier.” The role of other states would be as vassals or supplicants, or they would be crushed. It planned the conquest of Europe, and Russia, with all the zeal and thoroughness of Hitler’s imperialists. The roots of NATO’s current war on Russia and provocations of China are here.

WSWS: What do you think of the role being played by the Albanese Labor government? Can you comment on the Declassified Australia report, with internal briefings for Attorney-General Dreyfus, which indicated that the only focus of the Labor government is a hypothetical prison transfer, after Assange has been extradited to the US and convicted of Espionage Act charges there?

JP: The Albanese Labor government is as right-wing and compliant as any Australian Labor government—only the Whitlam government in 1972–75 broke the mould, and it was got rid of. It was the Labor government of Julia Gillard that initiated Australia’s collusion with the US to silence Assange. The “prison transfer” idea may be seen as a weasel way of satisfying support for Julian in his homeland. Whatever happens, the US will decide and the Albanese government will do as it’s told.

WSWS: We are raising the need for workers and young people to come to Assange’s defence, as the spearhead of the fight against war and authoritarianism. Why do you think ordinary people should take up the struggle to free Assange?

JP: Julian Assange is the courageous embodiment of a struggle against the darkest, most oppressive forces in our world; and people of principle, young and old, should oppose it as best they can; or one day it may touch their lives, and worse.

WASHINGTON IS THE PROBLEM, NOT THE SOLUTION: WHY MAHMOUD ABBAS IS SEEKING NEW ‘POWERFUL’ SPONSORS

JULY 27TH, 2022

Source

By Ramzy Baroud

To judge US President Joe Biden’s recent visit to Israel and Palestine as a ‘failure’ in terms of activating the dormant ‘peace process’ is simply a misnomer. For this statement to be accurate, Washington would have had to indicate even a nominal desire to push for negotiations between the Israeli government and the Palestinian leadership.

Political and diplomatic platitudes aside, the current American administration has done the exact opposite as indicated in Biden’s words and actions. Alleging that the US commitment to a two-state solution “has not changed”, Biden dismissed his Administration’s interest in trying to achieve such a goal by declaring that the “ground is not ripe” for negotiations.

Considering that the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly announced its readiness to return to negotiations, one can only assume that the process is being stalled due to Israel’s intransigence. Indeed, none of Israel’s top leaders or major parties champion negotiations, or the so-called peace process, as a strategic objective.

However, Israel is not the only party to blame. The Americans, too, have made it clear that they moved on from that political sham altogether, one which they have invented and sustained for decades. In fact, the final nail in the ‘negotiating solution’ coffin was hammered by the Donald Trump Administration, which has simply backed every Israeli claim, thus shunning all rightful Palestinian demands.

The Biden Administration has been habitually blamed by Palestinians, Arabs and progressive voices within the Democratic Party for failing to reverse Trump’s prejudiced moves in favor of Israel: for example, moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, shutting down the US consulate in East Jerusalem, accepting the unfounded Israeli claims regarding its jurisdiction over illegal Jewish settlements built over occupied Palestinian land, and so on.

Even if one assumes that the Biden Administration is capable of reversing some or all of Trump’s unlawful actions, what good would that be in the greater scheme of things? Washington was, and remains, Israel’s greatest benefactor, funding its military occupation of Palestine with an annual gift of $4 billion, in addition to many other schemes, including a massive and growing budget allocated for Israel’s Iron Dome alone.

As horrific as Trump’s years were in terms of undermining a just resolution to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Biden’s policies are but a continuation of an existing pro-Israel American legacy that surpasses that of Trump by decades.

As for Israel, the ‘peace process’ has served its purpose, which explains the infamous declaration by the CEO of the Jewish settlement council in the occupied West Bank, known as Yesha, in 2018, “I don’t want to brag that we’ve won. (…) Others would say it appears that we’re winning.”

However, Israel’s supposed ‘victory’ following three decades of a fraudulent ‘peace process’ cannot be credited to Trump alone. Biden and other top US officials have also been quite useful. While it is widely understood that US politicians support Israel out of sheer interest, for example, the need to appease the influential pro-Israel lobby in Washington DC, Biden’s, support for Israel stems from an ideological foundation. The US President was hardly bashful when he repeated, upon his arrival at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport on July 13, his famous statement, “You need not be a Jew to be Zionist.”

Consequently, it may appear puzzling to hear Palestinian officials call on the US – and Biden, specifically – to pressure Tel Aviv to end its 55-year occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

Mohannad al-Aklouk, the Palestinian representative at the Arab League, for example, repeated the same cliched and unrealistic language of expecting the US to “exert practical pressure on Israel”, “set the stage for a fair political process based on international law”, and “meet its role as a fair sponsor of the peace process”. Strangely, Mr. al-Aklouk truly believes that Washington, with its dismal track record of pro-Israeli bias, can possibly be the savior of the Palestinians.

Another Palestinian official told The New Arab that PA President Abbas was “disappointed with the results of Biden’s visit,” as, apparently, the Palestinian leader “expected that the US President would make progress in the peace process”. The same source continued to say that Abbas’ Authority is holding meetings with representatives from “powerful countries” to replace the US as sponsors of the once US-sponsored negotiations.

Abbas’ political stance is confusing. The ‘peace process’ is, after all, an American invention. It was a unique, self-serving style of diplomacy that was formulated to ensure Israel’s priorities remain at center stage of US foreign policy in the Middle East. In the Palestinian case, the ‘peace process’ only served to entrench Israeli colonization of Palestine, while degrading, or completely sidelining, legitimate Palestinian demands. This ‘process’ was also constructed with the aim of marginalizing international law as a political and legal frame of reference to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Instead of questioning the entire ‘peace process’ apparatus and apologizing for the strategic plunders of pursuing American mirages at the expense of Palestinian rights, the Palestinian Authority is still desperately clutching on to the same old fantasy, even when the US, along with Israel, have abandoned their own political farce.

Even if, supposedly, China, Russia or India would agree to be the new sponsors of the ‘peace process’, there is no reason for Tel Aviv to engage in future negotiations, when it is able to achieve its colonial objectives with full American support. Moreover, none of these countries have, for now, much leverage over Israel, therefore are unable to sustain any kind of meaningful pressure on Tel Aviv to respect international law.

Yet, the PA is still holding on, simply because the ‘peace process’ proved greatly beneficial in terms of funds, power and prestige enjoyed by a small but powerful class of Palestinians that was largely formulated after the Oslo Accords in 1993.

It is time for Palestinians to stop investing their political capital in the Biden Administration or any other administration. What they need is not a new ‘powerful’ sponsor of the ‘peace process’ but a grassroots-based struggle for freedom and liberation starting at home, one that galvanizes the energies of the Palestinian people themselves. Alas, this new paradigm cannot be achieved when the priorities of the Palestinian leadership remain fixated on the handouts and political validation of Washington and its Western allies.

The Power Of The Pakistani People Will Defeat Their Unpopular Imported Government

Jul 27 2022

By Andrew Korybko

Source

The power of the people is unbeatable whenever the people are truly united behind a cause greater than themselves such as their country’s sovereignty and anything related to its existential defense. Pakistanis both present and past have suffered so much to preserve their hard-earned independence and won’t let it be stolen from them by elite echelons who betrayed the social contract between citizens and the state under the influence of a foreign party.

The imported government that was imposed on the global pivot state of Pakistan as a result of a US-orchestrated but domestically driven post-modern coup carried out through the superficially “democratic” means of “lawfare” has proven itself to be the most unpopular regime in that country’s history. Nowhere is this more evident than by the formerly ruling PTI’s landslide victory in the Punjab by-elections, yet instead of letting the constitutional process play out by peacefully ceding power to that party, PMLN and its allies made a desperate last-ditch attempt to stage a post-modern coup in Pakistan’s most populous region. This decisively failed after the Supreme Court ruled against the plotters and ordered that PTI ally Pervez Elahi be sworn in as its next Chief Minister.

None of this would have been possible had it not been for the Pakistani people pushing back against their unpopular imported government ever since it was imposed upon them against their will nearly one-third of a year ago in early April. Since then, they’ve braved vicious state-directed violence – most notably during their Long March on Islamabad in late May – and some of their most prominent journalists like Imran Riaz Khan were thuggishly harassed by the authorities. That, however, didn’t weaken their will but only emboldened them. The Pakistani people united in the face of this post-modern martial law and didn’t let it break them. It only made them stronger by becoming a formative experience for collectively building the New Pakistan that seems inevitable at this point.

Those stakeholders who’ve hitherto stubbornly resisted the people’s are now finally forced to confront the reality of what they’ve done. They arrogantly thought that they could impose a foreign-backed government onto Pakistanis and then gaslight the population into thinking that they’re crazy if they suspect that any foul play was involved. This was a severe violation of the trust that had hitherto been established between citizens and the state after people placed their faith in certain stakeholders to always tell them the truth and defend their objective national interests no matter what. Instead, this trust was taken advantage of and ruthlessly disrespected, though those dark days might soon be ending if recent developments are any indication.

Proponents of multipolar school of thought that became popular among some elite echelons in recent years were always opposed to their pro-American peers’ post-modern coup but lost the influence to shape events due to shadowy dynamics from the preceding months (particularly speculation about the scandal surrounding DG ISI’s appointment late last year). Nevertheless, their star might once again be rising as the pro-American school of thought now realizes that they pushed the country to the brink of collapse and even potentially domestic conflict all for the sake of satisfying their foreign partners. They might not yet have learned their lesson in full, but the fact that they didn’t stop the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Punjab suggests that their influence might finally be on the decline.  

The power of the people is unbeatable whenever the people are truly united behind a cause greater than themselves such as their country’s sovereignty and anything related to its existential defense. Pakistanis both present and past have suffered so much to preserve their hard-earned independence and won’t let it be stolen from them by elite echelons who betrayed the social contract between citizens and the state under the influence of a foreign party. What’s taking place in Pakistan right now is nothing short of revolutionary and is truly unprecedented since the time of its formation. The nation is being remodeled according to modern circumstances connected to the global systemic transition to multipolarity, which is giving its people the promising future that they deserve.

هوكشتين في بيروت آخر الشهر ولبنان يخشى مناورات جديدة: إسرائيل تظهر استعداداً لـ«تنازل» قبل أيلول

 الإثنين 25 تموز 2022

فلسطين خبر الأخبار 

هوكشتين عائد: تنازل واضح أم مناورة؟

يبدو أن كوّة فتحت في جدار مفاوضات ترسيم الحدود. المؤشر الأول اتصال الوسيط الأميركي عاموس هوكشتين بالمسؤولين اللبنانيين وإبلاغهم نيته القدوم إلى بيروت في 31 تموز و 1 آب المقبلين للقاء الرؤساء الثلاثة وقائد الجيش ووزيري الخارجية والطاقة، إضافة إلى اجتماع لم يعرف بعد ما إذا كان سيكون منفرداً مع نائب رئيس المجلس النيابي الياس بو صعب.

المؤشر الثاني جاء من تل أبيب عبر تسريبات، قد لا يمكن الركون إليها، تعطي إشارة إلى ما قد يحمله هوكشتين، علماً أن لبنان ينتظر من الوسيط الأميركي رداً واضحاً ومكتوباً حول طلباته. وصدر في ساعة متأخرة من مساء أمس كلام لافت في كيان الاحتلال تمثل في تسريبات إلى «القناة 12» العبرية التي كشفت أن «إسرائيل وجّهت مساء اليوم (أمس)، عبر الولايات المتحدة وفرنسا، تحذيراً شديد اللهجة إلى لبنان و(السيد حسن) نصرالله، خشية أن يحاول القيام باستفزازات حول منصات الغاز». وفي المقابل، بحسب القناة، «تضغط إسرائيل على الولايات المتحدة للوصول إلى اتفاق بحلول أيلول المقبل»، أي موعد انتهاء المهلة التي منحتها المقاومة إلى من يعنيهم الأمر للتحرّك لتحصيل حقوق لبنان في ثروته، بدءاً من إثبات الملكية، وصولاً إلى بدء أعمال التنقيب والحفر، تمهيداً للاستخراج (…) أو «فإن أحداً لن يستخرج غازاً من المنطقة البحرية كلها»، كما هدّد الأمين العام لحزب الله.
وقال مصدر متابع في بيروت إن التقديرات الأولية تشير إلى أن الوسيط الأميركي «يعرف أن أي جواب سلبي ستكون له ارتدادات ليست في صالح العدو، وهو اطلع من جديد على مطالب لبنان الواضحة في عدة ملفات، تشمل بداية الإقرار بحقوق لبنان في المياه الإقليمية، وتثبيت هذه الحقوق بما لا يقبل أي تعديل أو تغيير، ثم الإعلان عن ضمانات بأن تباشر الشركات العالمية المعنية، بمعزل عن جنسيتها، أعمال التنقيب والتحضير لعمليات الاستخراج فوراً، والإسراع في إزالة العقبات السياسية أمام صفقات توريد الغاز المصري والكهرباء الأردنية إلى لبنان». وتوقع المصدر أن يعمل الأميركيون على صيغة قد لا تحسم الأمور كلها بطريقة تظهر إسرائيل في موقع المتراجع أو المهزوم تحت ضغط تهديدات حزب الله.
ويبدو أن الإسرائيليين يريدون من لبنان، عبر الأميركيين، أن تتعهد الحكومة اللبنانية بمنع حزب الله من القيام بأي أعمال استفزازية أو عمليات عسكرية فوق حقول الغاز على طول الساحل الفلسطيني. وهو أمر «غير ممكن، وكلام المقاومة كان واضحاً في أن مجرد إعلان لبنان عن تلقيه ضمانات عملية موثوقة بالحصول على كامل حقوقه ومباشرة الشركات في العمل، فإنها لن تقدم على مهاجمة المنصات الإسرائيلية، وفي حال حصول أي مناورة لن تتردد في توجيه ضربة مباشرة، وهو كلام كان شديد الوضوح من قبل السيد نصرالله نفسه».
وبحسب المصادر، فإن الحذر اللبناني مردّه «عودة البعض إلى الحديث عن البلوك رقم 8». وفي المعلومات أن طرحاً يُناقش بعيداً من الإعلام فحواه التحايل على الملف من خلال إقرار الأميركيين بكامل حقوق لبنان في حقل قانا، لكن من دون أن يكون ذلك مرتبطاً بترسيم واضح، أي أن لبنان أمام احتمال مناورة جديدة تحت عنوان «خط هوكشتين» الذي قدم في شباط الماضي خطياً وفضّل لبنان عدم الإجابة عليه. الاقتراح يقتطع جيباً من حقل قانا المحتمل (جنوبه) بالإضافة إلى أجزاء من البلوك رقم 8 تقع إلى الجنوب منه. والحديث الحالي يتمحور حول القبول بترك تلك الأجزاء مقابل منح لبنان كامل حقل قانا، بمعنى إدخال تعديل على طبيعة الطرح الأميركي.

يطلب الاسرائيليون من لبنان التعهد بمنع حزب الله من القيام بعمليات عسكرية على طول الساحل الفلسطيني


الذريعة المُستند إليها غير علمية، وتدّعي خلو الأجزاء المُطالب بها من جانب هوكشتين من أي مكامن غاز ونفط محتملة، ويسعى الإسرائيلي للحصول عليها لإدخالها في مشروع مد أنابيب الغاز.
يشار هنا إلى وجود دراسات لدى هيئة قطاع البترول، تؤكد وجود مكامن في البلوك رقم 8 طبقاً لدراسات زلزالية أجراها العدو سابقاً وتمكن خبراء من الوصول إليها عن طريق شركات. كذلك، صرّح خبراء نفط لـ«الأخبار» بأن حقول الغاز عادة متداخلة في ما بينها وهي أقرب ما تكون إلى «مغاور» متشابكة تحت المياه. وأن إصرار العدو على قضم جزء من البلوك رقم 8 يأتي، في تقدير الخبراء، لرغبته بإلزام مبدأ التشارك مع الدولة اللبنانية في البلوك 8 في حال تخلى عن حيازته لجيب من قانا.
وفي تقدير خبراء أن ثمة أسباباً تقنية لا تخدم فرضية جرّ الأنابيب من الحقول الإسرائيلية صوب البلوك رقم 8، بحيث أنها تنعطف نزولاً. وهذه الانعطافة لا جدوى منها وإنما تتسبب بارتفاع الكلفة بالإضافة إلى أنها خاطئة من الناحيتين التقنية والهندسية. بالتالي، يصبح التذرع بمسألة الحاجة لاستخدام تلك الأجزاء لمرور الأنابيب ستاراً يخفي الوجهة الحقيقية لاستخدامها (فرض التشارك مع لبنان).

الاستنفار الإسرائيلي
وسط هذه التطورات، لا يحتاج الأمر إلى كثير من التدقيق لاكتشاف أن العدو الإسرائيلي، على المستويين السياسي والأمني، يتعامل بكثير من الحذر مع التهديدات المتكرّرة للسيد نصرالله. وينسحب هذا الحذر على تداول وسائل الإعلام الإسرائيلية التطوّرات والمستجدّات في القضية، ويظهر هذا من خلال التفاعل المحدود والمتأخّر مع التهديدات التي أطلقها نصرالله أول من أمس. إذ من المعلوم أن التداول بقضايا حسّاسة من هذا النوع يخضع لمعايير شديدة ودقيقة تفرضها «الرقابة العسكرية» على وسائل الإعلام، وإذا ما تقرّر الخوض في القضية، فثمّة خطوط عامة تحدّدها الرقابة، ومعلومات تتعمّد تسريبها المؤسّسة الأمنية إلى وسائل الإعلام، بشكل يخدم المصلحة الإسرائيلية. ويوم أمس، وفي ساعات بعد الظهر، بدأت تظهر التعليقات الصحافية على تهديدات نصرالله. وفي حين بدأت التعليقات بضرورة أخذ تهديدات حزب الله بـ«جدّية»، لأن «تصريحات نصرالله تدلّ على أن أيلول سيكون متوتّراً للغاية»، إلا أن «هذا لا يعني أننا في طريقنا إلى الحرب مع حزب الله»، لكن «بالتأكيد يهدف نصرالله إلى التصعيد».
وعلى صعيد متصل، كشف موقع «واللا» العبري، أمس، أنّ «سلاح البحرية الإسرائيلي أجرى تدريبات مكثّفة في الأشهر الماضية حول كيفية التعامل مع التهديدات الصاروخية المحتملة من قبل حزب الله»، مشيراً إلى أنّ «الإعلان عن تلك التدريبات (…) يأتي على خلفية تهديدات نصرالله». وأشار الموقع إلى أن «التدريبات حاكت تعرّض مختلف الوحدات لهجمات صواريخ الكروز والصواريخ الدقيقة وبعيدة المدى». وأكّد «واللا» أن «سلاح البحرية الإسرائيلية رفع حالة التأهب القصوى في البحر المتوسط، وتحديداً قبالة منصّة الغاز الطبيعي كاريش (…) وتم تركيب أجهزة استشعار متقدّمة للإنذار المبكر لتعزيز الطبقات الواقية». وقرّر الجيش الإسرائيلي «تشكيل هيئة قيادة عليا مكوّنة من ممثلين عن أجهزة الاستخبارات وسلاح البحرية ووزارة الدفاع وقسم العمليات وسلاح الجو للتعامل مع التهديدات». كما تقرّر «إجراء تمرين كبير الشهر المقبل من شأنه محاكاة السيناريوهات المتطرفة في الساحة البحرية»، وأفاد مسؤولون أمنيّون بأن «اللواء أهارون حاليفا، رئيس شعبة الاستخبارات العسكرية (أمان)، خصّص السلطة الكاملة والموارد المخصّصة للتهديدات في المجال البحري وحماية المياه الاقتصادية الإسرائيلية».
من جهة أخرى، أشار الكاتب الإسرائيلي يوسي يهوشع، في تقرير نشرته «يديعوت أحرونوت» أمس، إلى أن «الآراء منقسمة في الجيش الإسرائيلي: في حين أن هناك من يقترح التباطؤ، هناك المزيد من الأصوات التي تزعم أن تصعيد حزب الله يتطلّب عملاً انتقامياً». وتحدّث يهوشع عن «مناقشات حسّاسة في الموضوع في الأيام القليلة الماضية (…) جرت بمشاركة رئيس الوزراء يائير لابيد ووزير الدفاع بيني غانتس ورئيس الأركان أفيف كوخافي وآخرين، حول خيارات سلوك الحزب المتوقّع، والرد الإسرائيلي المحتمل». واستعرض ما اعتبرها «خيارات حزب الله»، وهي برأيه «مهاجمة المنصّة بطائرات من دون طيار، أو استخدام غوّاصين، أو على الأرجح، كما يقدّر الجيش الإسرائيلي، إطلاق مسيّرات لجمع المعلومات من دون المخاطرة بالمسّ بالمدنيين».
وفي المقابل، فإن «المعضلة»، بحسب تعبير يهوشع، تكمن في «الوجهة التي سيتمّ اختيارها كي لا يضطّر الطرفان للانجرار إلى أيام قتالية وإلى التدهور»، واستعرض الخيارات المحتملة أيضاً، و«أوّلها قصف أهداف للحزب في سوريا، وثانيها مهاجمة مواقع بنية تحتية بعيدة للحزب في قلب لبنان مثل مستودعات الصواريخ غير الدقيقة، وثالثها ضرب أهداف أخرى للحزب يُفضَّل أن تكون فارغة على الحدود الشمالية».

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This is Why Sayyed Nasrallah Choked up during Al-Mayadeen Interview

July 26, 2022

Source: Al-Manar English Website

In his final question during the interview with Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah on Monday, Al-Mayadeen’s Ghassan Bin Jeddo asked the Lebanese Resistance leader about whom his eminence would like to thank or deliver a message on the party’s 40th anniversary.

Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that Allah is the first one to be thanked for the achievements secured throughout 40 years.

“Talking logically, our victories were much more than our capabilities, thank God,” his eminence said.

“Meanwhile, I address people, whom I don’t flatter when I describe them as ‘the most honorable people….” Sayyed Nasrallah said as he choked up.

“Those people have been since 1982 supporting the Resistance. Actually they are the Resistance. The burdens they have been carrying throughout the years have been increasing. Those people have been always loyal. They neither abandoned us nor stabbed us in the back.”

“Ashoura is coming in few days, and you know that we always recall Imam Hussein when he permitted his 72 companions in Karbala to leave during the night, and they did not. Here in Lebanon, our people haven’t abandon us, neither in the night nor in the day, but rather they stood firm and sacrificed their selves and their sons for the sake of this path,” Sayyed Nasrallah told Bin Jeddo.

The Resistance leader then saluted those people who “have been loyal and sincere,” voicing full confidence that “along with them we will achieve prosperity.”

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