Greed, usury and the world

January 30, 2023


by Naresh Jotwani

The Saker recently posted an article (here) on the important subject of the quality of leadership in the US. In a comment to that article, I asked him the following question:

From what you have accurately pointed out, is it possible also to draw the following inescapable conclusions?

1. Money which was poured into the think-tanks came not from the Neocon minions themselves but their paymasters, who are presumably very wealthy people.

2. Therefore “big money” of some variety wanted and presumably still want to “take over” US foreign policy. The money paid in is an investment seeking return.

3. Greed and arrogance drive big money.

So we are forced to conclude:

4. Unbridled greed and arrogance of certain people are creating difficulties for billions of people around the world.

Your opinion will be greatly appreciated!

Promptly, the Saker replied as follows:

1) yes
2) yes
3) yes
4) and yes again

I agree with every point you make.
Actually, the root of most evil on our planet is usury and its “byproducts”. I recommend Michael Hudson as THE authority on this topic 🙂

We see that the two words ‘greed’ and ‘usury’ are central to the two excerpts cited. We can hope therefore that an understanding of the meaning and background of these two words will add much to the background and significance and of Saker’s article.


Greed is a character trait, like a dark and bottomless hole, deep in the emotional make-up of a person. It distorts the affected person’s all-round outlook, and affects the entirety of his or her life and relationships. By its very definition, greed is insatiable. A need may one day be satisfied, but never greed. Unlike a need, greed has no connection with the essential material necessities of rational human life. It can therefore be dubbed an irrational trait, a character flaw. Since a greedy person is never contented, contentment as a goal of life is denied to him or her.

Does nature or nurture play the bigger role in the growth this trait in an individual?

While nature – genetics? – may indeed play a role, a far bigger role is probably that of nurture, as reflected in the person’s upbringing, education, social environment … et cetera. For example, severe deprivation may accentuate the expression of greed in an individual.


Usury is defined as ‘the lending or practice of lending money at an exorbitant interest’. ‘Exorbitant’ here implies that the rate of interest is designed with the specific aim of cruelly exploiting, impoverishing or even ruining the borrower.

The ideal of a healthy free-market economy is premised on both parties to a transaction benefitting from the transaction. Usury goes against that spirit in the sense that the borrower – the weaker party – is forced into a transaction which is not in his or her long term interest. A short term critical need knowingly or unknowingly pushes a person into a ‘debt trap’.

Usury is an expression of greed – but not the only possible expression of greed. Greed manifested in a schoolyard brawl, a family dispute or in bureaucratic corruption does not involve usury. Of course we must assume that usury does always involve greed as its core drive, since it is difficult to imagine an usurious practice not driven by greed.

Institutionalization of usury

While greed is a personal trait, the practice of usury can and very often is institutionalized. The institutionalization of usury requires immense cunning and cleverness. The stated mission of any such institution cannot say out loud the part about exploitation or impoverishment. If that part became known, the truth would chase away most borrowers; truth is bad for the business of usury. Therefore the underlying usurious nature of such institutions must be disguised by words such ‘helping the needy’, ‘free market’, ‘financial services, ‘modern lifestyle’ et cetera. Institutionalized usury can only prosper with the help of lies.

The stereotype of the usurious moneylender in an Indian village is based on the harsh reality of a not-too-distant past. An individual village moneylender may not formally ‘institutionalize’ the business, but a ‘caste network’ of such moneylenders across a few dozen villages behaves pretty much as an informal institutionalized structure.

In that sense, a moneylender family and caste – or, equivalently, tribe – must be understood as the earliest forms of institutionalized usury. In a traditional moneylender family, we assume that a child would learn about usury at the grandfather’s knee.

Far more imposing institutions of usury come with ‘progress’ and ‘development’ – institutions such as banks, regulators, central banks, innumerable laws, finance schools, hedge funds, law firms, lobbying firms … and so on. People soon learn that, since there is much easy money to be made through such rackets, there is no longer a need to bother with hard work.

Institutions provide nurture and selection

Once institutions of usury come into being – families, castes, tribes, banks, finance schools et cetera – nature is hugely supplemented by conscious nurture in enlarging and empowering the usurious class. The interplay of nature and nurture then becomes deep and thorough-going. Political power, which is usually spineless, yields readily to financial power, and the healthy economy of a society comes under the iron-grip of the non-productive usurious class.

Historically, between usury and greed, the latter certainly has to be older. Greed can exist even in the absence of money as medium of exchange and store of value; but usury depends explicitly on the use of money. Money in the form of clay tablets – or whatever – was invented about five thousand years ago, and therefore usury would have followed soon. Quite plausibly, greed might well have spurred the initial development of instruments of usury. Necessity is the mother of invention, after all.

Institutionalized usury is a powerful vehicle giving traction to unrestrained play of greed in society. This is because the disguising verbiage which serves as cover for usury displaces any other truly human values which the society might earlier have cherished. Older values and traditions are derided as not being ‘the best business practices’. In the absence of truly binding values – family, community, citizens’ duties to one another – the society crumbles.

In such a society, the most ruthless ‘players in the game of usury’ are shaped, toughened and honed by years of nature, nurture and relentless competition. Suborning the pliable political class from behind the curtains is second nature to them. While such ‘players’ may be admired or venerated by many, they shun any commitment or responsibility for the public good.

Tribal factors

A ‘caste’ or ‘tribe’ – or even ‘nation’, in the original sense of that word – is like a very large extended family, bringing people together who are of similar background and traditions. In a heterogeneous world, such groups provide secure identity for family and community life. As people migrate from place to place, and interact with alien groups, staying together in the form of a cohesive group becomes a central and essential mechanism of survival.

Inevitably however, that survival mechanism engenders a strong feeling of ‘us’ versus ‘the others’ or ‘the other groups’. The inevitable result of that strong feeling is the attitude that (a) helping one of your own is a virtue, (b) hurting one of your own is a vice, and (c) virtue and vice simply exchange places if an alien individual or group is involved. Thus one wins group acclaim – and brides? – by robbing others to the benefit of one’s own group.

Group acclaim plays a big role in nurturing and reinforcing characteristic trends within a tribe. If a tribal hero who robbed a neighbouring tribe of ten pieces of gold wins laurels – and brides? – then some young boys will surely dream of out-shining their hero by robbing twenty pieces of gold. Vice practiced against another tribe is seen as virtue. In this sense, around the world, tribal values often fall far short of any notion of universality.

Therefore if we think about greed in a tribal context, then we must admit that its aggressive expression towards ‘others’ is not only permitted but often held up as virtue or exemplar, whereas its intra-tribe expression is moderated by intra-tribe relationships.

Oh, the irony of it all … !

Bright, western-educated children of Indian village money lenders are today making their careers in western financial businesses. One can imagine such a bright young ‘finance expert’ visiting his ancestral village and donating some money to the local school. For his generosity, the villagers would fall over one another to garland, fete and all-but-worship the ‘village boy done good’. The proud father would puff at his beedi and look on. But the simple-minded villagers would not be at all aware that, back in the shining capital city, the very same village boy lobbies aggressively for laws which facilitate the financial exploitation of communities such as theirs. Insufficiently aggressive lobbying will cost the bright boy his lucrative job.

Present status and geo-economics

Today institutionalized usury operates relentlessly, at peak efficiency – aided by powerful technology and by thousands of years of practice and refinement of art. Its unforgiving iron clutches extend all around the world. The current conflict in Ukraine is the latest and the most prominent symptom of the tectonic geo-economic stresses it generates.

Behind geo-politics lies geo-economics, and unfortunately greed plays a huge part in today’s global economic systems. To be fair, greed has probably always played a huge part in global economic systems – but it is only the current system which we witness first hand.

To an outsider, geo-economic issues seem to be THE central issues in the conflict. Nobody fights a war for democracy, or liberalism, or a third person’s well-being. Wars are always about riches, about ‘us versus them’. All other verbiage is at attempt to throw dust in other people’s eyes.

A major conflict on core issues has to be existential for both sides. Therefore talk of ‘the end of our civilization’ by a prominent financier does not come as a surprise. The civilization based on usury and fraud should feel threatened by the ongoing conflict. But then history has shown us again and again that – while civilisations come and go – life goes on.

Misfits of two types

Imagine that an individual who is not really greedy at heart finds himself or herself working with overtly greedy colleagues in a brazenly usurious institution. Clearly such an individual will be a misfit there. Over time, the individual must make a difficult choice: either become like everybody else around, or change jobs.

Conversely, an overly greedy individual may find himself or herself working with a group of contented and honest colleagues. This individual will also be a misfit. One imagines that such an individual will find it impossible to become contented and honest. Therefore the choices open to him or her are: try to corrupt everybody else around, or change jobs.

Other manifestations of greed

Like usury, price-gouging is also a form of economic violence. Like usury, price-gouging is also driven by greed, and often becomes institutionalized. The recent shameless hawking of certain types of vaccines is an example of price-gouging.

Different types of fraud – usury, price-gouging, corruption et cetera – are combined by clever people to multiply hugely their returns on investment. An example: Lend money at an exorbitant rates to country X so that she can ‘develop her economy ’; in simple language, force the country to mine A, B or C mineral and sell it to the lender at rock bottom prices. That would be usury, price-gouging, corruption and slave labour combined in highly synergistic manner, as taught by the best ‘business schools’ around the world.

But obviously price-gouging, usury, financial fraud, bonded labour et cetera are all siblings, all born out of limitless greed and sociopathic behaviour. While the present article discusses specifically only usury, clearly many of the observations made herein apply to all types of exploitation of the economically weak by the economically strong.

عملية خيري علقم زلزال ضرب «إسرائيل» وكشف حقائق هامة

الثلاثاء 31 كانون الثاني 2023

 العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط*

عندما شكّل نتنياهو حكومته إثر الانتخابات الإسرائيلية الخامسة التي جرت في غضون سنتين وصفت تلك الحكومة بأنها الأكثر تطرفاً في تاريخ حكومات الكيان الصهيوني، خاصة أنّ أعضاءها يتبارون لفظاً وسلوكاً وأعمالاً لإيجاد وتنفيذ خطط تصفية القضية الفلسطينية والنيل من الفلسطينيين في وجودهم وأمنهم ومعيشتهم دون أن يُفسحوا بالمجال لتحقيق أيّ مقدار من حقوقهم، ومعظم الوزراء يتنافسون في ممارسة الوحشية والإجرام واغتصاب حقوق الفلسطينيين من غير وازع او رادع ذاتي او داخلي او إقليمي او دولي. فحكومة نتنياهو الحالية هي عصابة من اليمين المتطرف ومن المتوحّشين الذين لا يقيمون وزناً لحق او كرامة إنسانية.

لقد كان واضحاً منذ اليوم الأول لتشكيل تلك الحكومة انّ هذه الأخيرة اعتمدت «استراتيجية الرعب والقوة المفرطة» لحمل الفلسطينيين على الاستسلام دون أن ينالوا شيئاً من الفتات الذي وُعدوا به في اتفاقات أوسلو، وظنّت تلك الحكومة انّ الإفراط بالعنف والقتل والهدم سيحقق لـ «إسرائيل» ومن غير مقابل، الأمن الذي تدّعي أنه هدفها الاستراتيجي الأول نظراً لارتباطه الفاعل بوجودها واستقرارها واستمرارها.

لكن هذه الحكومة غفلت عن حقيقة كان يجب أن تتنبّه لها، وهي أنّ الشعب الفلسطيني الذي لم تنسِه العقود الثمانية المنصرمة، قضيته ولم يتنازل عن حقوقه رغم كلّ الضغوط، هو اليوم أشدّ تمسكاً بهذه الحقوق وأصلب إرادة وأمضى عزيمة على التصدي والمواجهة. وانّ «صفقة القرن» التي خطها ترامب ودخل فيها بعض العرب لتصفية القضية فشلت في تحقيق المبتغى بعد أن ووجهت بالرفض الفلسطيني المحتضن من قبل محور إقليمي قوي هو محور المقاومة الذي أفشل معظم خطط الصهاينة وأميركا معهم. لذلك كان منطقياً القول إنّ مزيداً من التطرف وممارسة الجرائم بحق الفلسطينيين لن يؤدّي الى الاستسلام بل على العكس تماماً سيؤدّي الى انفجار شعبي مقاوم يجهض آمال المتطرفين ويردّ على جرائمهم بما تستوجب.

وعلى المقلب الصهيوني اليهودي ظهر من الصهاينة من يرفض هذه الحكومة واستراتيجيتها بسبب خشية هؤلاء من ان تتسبّب هذه الحكومة باستفزاز الفلسطينيين ودفعهم لإعادة تزخيم المقاومة وإطلاق انتفاضة ثالثة تتقدّم في أساليبها ومفاعيلها على ما حصل في الانتفاضتين السابقتين، ولذلك خرجت المظاهرات الرافضة لحكومة نتنياهو في أكثر من مكان في فلسطين المحتلة تدعو لإسقاط هذه الحكومة.

لقد كان واضحاً لأصحاب المنطق السليم انّ هذه الحكومة وضعت فلسطين المحتلة والمنطقة أمام واحد من انفجارين او الاثنين معاً: انفجار شعبي فلسطيني مقاوم بكلّ ما أوتي او أتيح للفلسطينيين من قوة للحؤول دون نجاح هذه السلطة الصهيونية المجرمة في ضمّ ما تبقى من فلسطين والإجهاز على آمالهم باستعادة شيء من حقوقهم الوطنية، و/أو انفجار داخلي يتمثل بانفجار الحكومة من الداخل او انفجار صهيوني بوجهها لمنعها من فتح باب الشرّ على «إسرائيل»، وتهديد الكيان في أمنه ووجوده.

بيد أنّ هذه الحكومة لم تعر اهتماماً كما يبدو لتلك المخاوف والهواجس والتوقعات ولم تتأخر في إثبات عدوانيتها ونزعتها الوحشية والإجرامية ضدّ الفلسطينيين، إذ إنها ومن غير سبب مباشر او تبرير مقنع قامت باقتحام مدينة ومخيم جنين في عملية عسكرية وحشية يبدو أن حكومة نتنياهو شاءت منها ان تفتتح استراتيجية ما تسمّيه «الشدة والحزم» لا بل العنف المفرط الذي يزرع الرعب في نفوس الفلسطينيين لردعهم عن أيّ عمل يمسّ او ينتهك ما يسمّى «أمن إسرائيل»، وبالفعل نفذ الاقتحام بأقصى درجات الوحشية والعنف واستهدف الحجر والبشر معاً فهدمت المنازل وقتل وجرح او اعتقل فلسطينيون تجاوزوا في مجموعهم الـ 30 في أقلّ من 48 ساعة انسحبت بعدها قوات العدو مخلّفة وراءها الخسائر تلك وأهمّ منها ما خلّفته من النقمة والغضب الفلسطيني.

لقد ظنّت حكومة نتنياهو الشديدة التطرف أنها نجحت في افتتاح استراتيجية العنف والإجرام المفرط بحق الفلسطينيين، إلا انّ ظنّها خاب وانهار دفعة واحدة وبشكل مدوّ عندما نفذ شاب فلسطيني واحد مسلح بمسدس واحد فقط عملية بطولية انتقامية في شمال القدس المحتلة وعلى بعد أكثر من 100 كلم من جنين، حيث ارتكبت «إسرائيل» مجزرتها وجرائمها، فجاءت عملية البطل خيري علقم صاعقة مدمّرة لكلّ ما توخته «إسرائيل» من جريمتها في جنين. حيث إنّ مقاوماً واحداً استطاع ان يقتل او يجرح أكثر من ١٧ صهيونياً في أقل من 10 دقائق ولم يقوَ عليه أحد إلا بعد أن فرغت مخازن مسدسه من الذخيرة. لكن بعد أن أتمّ العملية البطولية بنجاح كلي مدوّ، العملية التي أحدثت زلزالاً في كيان الصهاينة وجعلتهم يشعرون بالعجز والهوان والذلّ أمام بطولة فلسطيني واحد قتل جدّه بيد صهيوني قبل ٢٥ عاماً أيّ قبل أن يولد بـ 4 سنوات فانتقم له ولشهداء جنين في عملية رسمت صورة بليغة تجهض مزاعم «إسرائيل» عندما قال ارباب الفكر فيها انّ «القضية الفلسطينية سيصفيها الزمن والوقت» حيث «إنّ الكبار يموتون، والصغار ينسون»، فإذا بالمشهد ينقلب خلافاً للظنّ، وانّ موت الكبير لم يترافق مع نسيان الصغير بل سيولد من الأصلاب وفي الأرحام الفلسطينية من هو أشدّ تمسكاً بالحقوق وأقوى مقاومة على استعادتها وأكثر عزيمة على الاستمرار في المواجهة حتى النصر.

لقد أكدت عملية البطل خيري علقم والتي تلتها عمليات أخرى في غضون 42 ساعة نفّذها أبطال آخرون منهم من لم يتجاوز الـ 13 ربيعاً، أكدت هذه العمليات حقائق هامة منها:\

اولا ـ عجز «إسرائيل» عن الوصول الى منظومة الأمن الوقائي الفاعل التي تحول دون تنفيذ مثل هذه العمليات النوعية الفريدة من نوعها، أو تحول دون النجاح في تنفيذها انْ وقعت، حيث تبيّن أنّ الشهيد «خيري» بطل فرد خطط وتجهز وتدرّب وأعدّ واستعدّ وقتل بمفرده وظهر أنه بمثابة «جيش في فرد» عصيّ عن الاكتشاف، عصيّ على المعالجة، وانّ عمليته تلك لا يمكن لأحد في الكون أن يكشفها او يمنعها او يفشلها.

ثانيا ـ فشل مبكر لسياسة حكومة نتنياهو القائمة على «العنف والإجرام المفرط»، أو لما تصحّ تسميته بـ «إرهاب الدولة» الذي تمارسه حكومة نتنياهو، فبدل أن يرتعب الفلسطينيون بعد مجزرة جنين حدث العكس حيث إنّ دماء شهداء جنين وأحجار منازلها شحذت الهمم ودفعت البطل خيري علقم الى الردّ السريع في أقل من 24 ساعة وقتل 9 صهاينة مقابل 9 فلسطينيين قتلهم الإجرام «الإسرائيلي» في جنين.

ثالثا ـ تأكيد وهن ما يُسمّى «أمن إسرائيل» الذي تدّعي حكومة نتنياهو أنه في رأس أولوياتها، ما يستتبع من تفشّي الشعور بالخوف لدى الصهاينة الذين ستتراجع ثقتهم بجيشهم وقواتهم الأمنية التي عجزت عن منع مثل هذه العمليات.

رابعا ـ التأكيد على أنّ الوقت لا يعمل لصالح «إسرائيل» وان مقولة «تصفية القضية بالموت والنسيان» مقولة غير واقعية، كما أنّ مقولة «فرض الاستسلام بالإجرام» مقولة عقيمة في ظلّ إرساء معادلة فلسطينية هامة مفادها «لا جريمة صهيونية بدون عقاب فلسطيني»، ما يعزز الردع الفلسطيني ويعطي زخماً للواقع الذي نشأ بعد معركة سيف القدس.

وبعد هذه الحقائق يبقى أن تستثمر النتائج بدءاً من الساحة الفلسطينية حيث يجب أن يلغى نهائياً التنسيق الأمني، وتتوحد الإرادة الفلسطينية حول المقاومة دون أيّ شأن آخر وتحتضن هذه الإرادة كما هو قائم من قبل محور المقاومة الذي تتحطّم على أسواره موجات العدوان بقيادة أميركية صهيونية.

*أستاذ جامعي ـ خبير استراتيجي.

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A panicked Empire tries to make Russia an ‘offer it can’t refuse’

January 30 2023

Photo Credit: The Cradle

Does US Secretary of State Antony Blinken think a Washington Post op-ed will move Russian Armed Forces Chief Valery Gerasimov to postpone his planned military offensive on Ukraine?

Realizing NATO’s war with Russia will likely end unfavorably, the US is test-driving an exit offer. But why should Moscow take indirect proposals seriously, especially on the eve of its new military advance and while it is in the winning seat?

By Pepe Escobar

Those behind the Throne are never more dangerous than when they have their backs against the wall.

Their power is slipping away, fast: Militarily, via NATO’s progressive humiliation in Ukraine; Financially, sooner rather than later, most of the Global South will want nothing to do with the currency of a bankrupt rogue giant; Politically, the global majority is taking decisive steps to stop obeying a rapacious, discredited, de facto minority.

So now those behind the Throne are plotting to at least try to stall the incoming disaster on the military front.

As confirmed by a high-level US establishment source, a new directive on NATO vs. Russia in Ukraine was relayed to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Blinken, in terms of actual power, is nothing but a messenger boy for the Straussian neocons and neoliberals who actually run US foreign policy.

The secretary of state was instructed to relay the new directive – a sort of message to the Kremlin – via mainstream print media, which was promptly published by the Washington Post.

In the elite US mainstream media division of labor, the New York Times is very close to the State Department. and the Washington Post to the CIA. In this case though the directive was too important, and needed to be relayed by the paper of record in the imperial capital. It was published as an Op-Ed (behind paywall).

The novelty here is that for the first time since the start of Russia’s February 2022 Special Military Operation (SMO) in Ukraine, the Americans are actually proposing a variation of the “offer you can’t refuse” classic, including some concessions which may satisfy Russia’s security imperatives.

Crucially, the US offer totally bypasses Kiev, once again certifying that this is a war against Russia conducted by Empire and its NATO minions – with the Ukrainians as mere expandable proxies.

‘Please don’t go on the offensive’

The Washington Post’s old school Moscow-based correspondent John Helmer has provided an important service, offering the full text of Blinken’s offer, of course extensively edited to include fantasist notions such as “US weapons help pulverize Putin’s invasion force” and a cringe-worthy explanation: “In other words, Russia should not be ready to rest, regroup and attack.”

The message from Washington may, at first glance, give the impression that the US would admit Russian control over Crimea, Donbass, Zaporozhye, and Kherson – “the land bridge that connects Crimea and Russia” – as a fait accompli.

Ukraine would have a demilitarized status, and the deployment of HIMARS missiles and Leopard and Abrams tanks would be confined to western Ukraine, kept as a “deterrent against further Russian attacks.”

What may have been offered, in quite hazy terms, is in fact a partition of Ukraine, demilitarized zone included, in exchange for the Russian General Staff cancelling its yet-unknown 2023 offensive, which may be as devastating as cutting off Kiev’s access to the Black Sea and/or cutting off the supply of NATO weapons across the Polish border.

The US offer defines itself as the path towards a “just and durable peace that upholds Ukraine’s territorial integrity.” Well, not really. It just won’t be a rump Ukraine, and Kiev might even retain those western lands that Poland is dying to gobble up.

The possibility of a direct Washington-Moscow deal on “an eventual postwar military balance” is also evoked, including no Ukraine membership of NATO. As for Ukraine itself, the Americans seem to believe it will be a “strong, non-corrupt economy with membership in the European Union.”

Whatever remains of value in Ukraine has already been swallowed not only by its monumentally corrupt oligarchy, but most of all, investors and speculators of the BlackRock variety. Assorted corporate vultures simply cannot afford to lose Ukraine’s grain export ports, as well as the trade deal terms agreed with the EU before the war. And they’re terrified that the Russian offensive may capture Odessa, the major seaport and transportation hub on the Black Sea – which would leave Ukraine landlocked.

There’s no evidence whatsoever that Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the entire Russian Security Council – including its Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev – have reason to believe anything coming from the US establishment, especially via mere minions such as Blinken and the Washington Post. After all the stavka – a moniker for the high command of the Russian armed forces – regard the Americans as “non-agreement capable,” even when an offer is in writing.

This walks and talks like a desperate US gambit to stall and present some carrots to Moscow in the hope of delaying or even cancelling the planned offensive of the next few months.

Even old school, dissident Washington operatives – not beholden to the Straussian neocon galaxy – bet that the gambit will be a nothing burger: in classic “strategic ambiguity” mode, the Russians will continue on their stated drive of demilitarization, denazification and de-electrification, and will “stop” anytime and anywhere they see fit east of the Dnieper. Or beyond.

What the Deep State really wants

Washington’s ambitions in this essentially NATO vs. Russia war go well beyond Ukraine. And we’re not even talking about preventing a Russia-China-Germany Eurasian union or a peer competitor nightmare; let’s stick with prosaic issues on the Ukrainian battleground.

The key “recommendations” – military, economic, political, diplomatic – were detailed in an Atlantic Council strategy paper late last year.

And in another one, under “War scenario 1: The war continues in its current tempo,” we find the Straussian neocon policy fully spelled out.

It’s all here: from “marshaling support and military-assistance transfers to Kyiv sufficient to enable it to win” to “increase the lethality of military assistance transferred to include fighter aircraft that would enable Ukraine to control its airspace and attack Russian forces therein; and missile technology with range sufficient to reach into Russian territory.”

From training the Ukrainian military “to use Western weapons, electronic warfare, and offensive and defensive cyber capabilities, and to seamlessly integrate new recruits in the service” to buttressing “defenses on the front lines, near the Donbass region,” including “combat training focusing on irregular warfare.”

Added to “imposing secondary sanctions on all entities doing business with the Kremlin,” we reach of course the Mother of All Plunders: “Confiscate the $300 billion that the Russian state holds in overseas accounts in the United States and EU and use seized monies to fund reconstruction.”

The reorganization of the SMO, with Putin, Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, and General Armageddon in their new, enhanced roles is derailing all these elaborate plans.

The Straussians are now in deep panic. Even Blinken’s number two, Russophobic warmonger Victoria “F**k the EU” Nuland, has admitted to the US Senate there will be no Abrams tanks on the battlefield before Spring (realistically, only in 2024). She also promised to “ease sanctions” if Moscow “returns to negotiations.” Those negotiations were scotched by the Americans themselves in Istanbul in the Spring of 2022.

Nuland also called the Russians to “withdraw their troops.” Well, that at least offers some comic relief compared with the panic oozing from Blinken’s “offer you can’t refuse.” Stay tuned for Russia’s non-response response.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

TotalEnergies, Eni transfer 30 percent stake of Lebanese economic waters to QatarEnergy

January 30 2023

(Photo Credit:AP)

Qatar now has a 30 percent stake in Lebanon’s economic zone, with TotalEnergies and Eni having a 35 percent stake each

ByNews Desk- 

On 29 January,  France-based TotalEnergies and the Italian corporation Eni transferred a 30 percent stake in Lebanon’s economic zone to Qatar’s national energy corporation for gas exploration in blocks four and nine.

This agreement entails that QatarEnergy has a 30 percent stake within these zones, while 70 percent of Lebanon’s economic zone will continue to be distributed among the two European energy corporations. Qatar’s entry into the partnership came after the withdrawal of Russian company “Novatek,” which previously owned a 20 percent share in Beirut’s economic zone.

The agreement was ratified during a ceremony attended by Lebanon’s Minister of Energy and Water, Walid Fayyad, the Qatari Minister of State for Energy Affairs and CEO of QatarEnergy, Patrick Pouyanné, and the CEO of TotalEnergies, Claudio Descalzi.

“We are very pleased to welcome QatarEnergy to our exploration acreage in Lebanon. The recent delineation of Lebanon’s maritime border with Israel has created a new momentum for the exploration of its hydrocarbon potential. Along with our partners, we are committed to drilling as soon as possible in 2023 an exploration well in Block 9, and our teams are mobilized to conduct these operations,” Pouyanné said.

Due to the global energy crisis incited by western sanctions against Russia, Qatar has to expand bilateral cooperation with nations on a regional and international scale, facilitating liquefied natural gas (LNG) to countries in need.

Saad al-Kaabi, Qatar’s Energy Minister, claimed that the dire need for LNG would persist “for some time to come,” as little new LNG would enter the market until 2025.

Earlier this month, Qatar and US-based Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LLC signed a multi-billion dollar deal to invest in an energy complex that would boost Doha’s status as a top petrochemical supplier in the world.

The Gulf kingdom also signed deals with China and Germany to export large quantities of LNG from the ambitious North Field East (NFE) expansion project starting in 2026.

Biden says ‘no’ to US sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine

31 Jan 2023

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Amid Kiev’s calls for the West to provide it with fighter jets, the US President says he is not in favor of the decision.

US President Joe Biden speaking at the Steamfitters Local 602 in Springfield (AP)

United States President Joe Biden claimed on Monday that he will not be sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.

“No,” Biden said when asked by reporters at the White House if he was in favor of sending the jets, which Ukraine’s leaders have said are at the top of their latest weapons wish list.

This comes despite a group of US military officials quietly lobbying for sending F-16s to Ukraine, Politico reported, citing three anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

According to the newspaper, the campaign for F-16s to Ukraine is gaining momentum in the Pentagon, while Kiev is bracing for a planned offensive this spring.

A senior Pentagon official told Politico he did not think the US Department of Defense (DoD) was opposed to the idea, noting that there was no final decision on the possible supplies yet.

However, there is no appetite in the Pentagon for this proposal, US officials revealed, according to Politico.

Elsewhere, the US President also said he will be visiting Poland. “I’m going to be going to Poland. I don’t know when, though,” he told reporters when asked about a visit.

Earlier, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki pointed out that Poland can hand over its F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine only in coordination with other NATO partners.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said last week however that he wants the West to send long-range missiles and jets.

Last Monday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Kiev expects to receive fighter jets from the West in the near future and it would take Ukrainian pilots at least six months to learn how to operate them.

A couple of days ago, Colonel Yurii Ihnat, the spokesperson for the Air Forces Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said Kiev intends to obtain 24 F-16 fighter jets from its international allies.

Read more: US complicit in Kiev shelling of Lugansk hospital: Russia UN envoy

Macron does not exclude France providing Ukraine with fighter jets

In this context, French President Emmanuel Macron said he would not rule out France delivering fighter jets to Ukraine but warned against the risk of escalation in the conflict.

“Nothing is excluded in principle,” Macron said after talks with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte when asked about the possibility of sending jets to Kiev.

However, the French President set out a series of “criteria” before making any decision, as Ukraine steps up calls for more advanced weapons from the West just days after its allies pledged to deliver tanks.

These included that Ukraine must first make the request, that any arms would “not be escalatory,” and that they would “not be likely to hit Russian soil but purely to aid the resistance effort.”

Macron stressed that any arms delivery “must not weaken the capacity of the French armed forces.”

He noted that the Ukrainians “are not making this request at the moment for fighter jets.”

Dutch politicians have recently suggested the idea of sending F-16 jets to Ukraine, but Rutte echoed Macron’s cautious comments.

“There is no taboo but it would be a big step,” the Dutch Premier indicated.

“It is not at all a question of F-16s, there has been no demand (from Ukraine),” he added.

The French and Dutch leaders made their comments a day after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he would not send fighter jets to Ukraine.

Scholz only just agreed on Wednesday to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and to allow other European countries to send theirs, after weeks of intense debate and mounting pressure from allies.

Scholz’s decision to green-light the tanks was accompanied by a US announcement that it would send 31 of its Abrams tanks.

It is noteworthy that even though the West has not yet decided on the deliveries of fighter jets, Ukraine has already compiled a list of some 50 pilots, who are ready to start training on F-16s, speak English, and have a track record of “thousands of combat missions,” Politico revealed, citing a Pentagon official and a Ukrainian official, as well as three other people familiar with the matter.

Read more: Germany reiterates stance not to send warplanes to Ukraine

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فلسطين تفرض إيقاعها على ملفات المنطقة

الإثنين 30 كانون الثاني 2023

لم تكن عملية الشهيد البطل خيري علقم مجرد عملية بطولية تضاف إلى سجل عمليات المقاومة الفلسطينية، بقدر ما هي إعلان مرحلة جديدة يقول فيها الفلسطينيون إنهم قادرون على التعامل منفردين مع نتائج وصول اليمين المتطرف إلى الحكم في كيان الاحتلال، وإن التطبيع الذي قامت به حكومات عربية مع الكيان لم يقدم ولم يؤخر في موازين المواجهة مع الكيان، وإن سقوط خيار التفاوض والتسويات لم يدفع الفلسطينيين الى اليأس بل الى المقاومة، وإن المقاومين الأفراد الذين لا ينتمون إلى أي تنظيم فلسطيني يشكلون عماد العمل المقاوم، وهم لا يحتاجون مالاً ولا سلاحاً ولا شكلاً تنظيمياً ولا قيادة.

المسار الفلسطيني الجديد يمتلك أدوات استمراره وتطوّره في ذاته، وهو قادر على النمو والتصاعد في ظل الحصار والاحتلال، بل إن الحصار والتصعيد والقتل أسباب نموه وتصاعده، وبالتوازي لا يبدو أن الكيان قادر على الاستدارة او على التوقف او التراجع، ولذلك تبدو المواجهة الى تصاعد قد يبلغ في مدى أسابيع مرحلة الغليان، خصوصاً مع قدوم شهر رمضان وتقاطعه مع أعياد يحييها المتطرفون الدينيون في الكيان في المسجد الأقصى، الذي ترتفع رمزيته المقدسة مع ليالي رمضان، ما يجعل المواجهات الدموية نتيجة حتمية مقبلة.

ملفات المنطقة الساخنة تقع بين شعوبها وحكوماتها من جهة والإدارة الأميركية من جهة مقابلة، سواء التفاوض على الملف النووي الإيراني أو الصراع في سورية ومعها وعليها، او الاستحقاق الرئاسي في لبنان، أو مستقبل الاحتلال الأميركي في العراق وسورية، او مستقبل الحرب في اليمن، وواشنطن سوف تقيس مواقفها من كل هذه الملفات وفقاً لمقاربة قوامها، أي الخيارات يعرّض أمن كيان الاحتلال لمزيد من الخطر، وأي الخيارات يوفر للكيان حماية أفضل، لذلك قد ترد الحروب الكبرى والتسويات الكبرى من هذا الباب بعدما كانت مستبعدة حتى الأمس القريب.

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Putin just pulled off the ULTIMATE sneak attack against the West | Redacted with Clayton Morris

January 29, 2023

Ben-Gvir to Propose Law Allowing Death Penalty for Palestinians

January 29, 2023

Far-right Israeli politician Itamar Ben-Gvir. (Photo: Shay Kendler, via Wikimedia Commons)

Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has announced plans to introduce legislation allowing the death penalty against Palestinians, Israeli media reported.

According to The Times of Israel, the far-right politician made the announcement following a security cabinet meeting held late on Saturday night after an attack was carried out in a Jewish settlement that killed seven Israelis and wounded three. The incident came a day after the deadliest Israeli military raid in the West Bank in years, which left at least 9 Palestinians killed and 20 others wounded.

“I hope we will pass it with a big majority,” Ben-Gvir said in a statement, adding that the security cabinet’s newly announced measures are “important”.

Palestinian Youth Succumbs to Wounds Sustained by Israeli Gunfire in Jenin

A Palestinian young man died on Sunday from injuries sustained last Thursday in an Israeli military attack on the Jenin refugee camp, the official news agency WAFA reported. The Palestinian Ministry of Health said in … Continue readingPalestinian Youth Succumbs to Wounds Sustained by Israeli Gunfire in Jenin

Palestine Chronicle

He also said he wanted “a lot more and I will continue and will strive for more and more decisions for combating terror.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said the security cabinet had decided on a series of steps to “combat terror and exact a price from terrorists and their supporters”.

Without providing further details, he added that steps will be taken to “strengthen settlements” in response to the attacks.

In November, Ben-Gvir made the introduction of capital punishment against Palestinians found guilty of killing Israelis a condition for his faction to join Netanyahu’s coalition government.



Douglas Macgregor – We are co Belligerents

January 28, 2023

دلالات الردّ الفلسطيني المقاوم السريع على مجزرة جنين وخيارات العدو المسدودة

 الإثنين 30 كانون الثاني 2023

حسن حردان

ان يرتكب جيش الاحتلال الصهيوني مجزرة جديدة خلال عدوانه على مخيم جنين في الضفة الغربية المحتلة، فهذا أمر ليس متوقعاً وحسب بل كان شبه محتوم، خصوصاً في ظلّ حكومة بنيامين نتنياهو الجديدة التي تضمّ عتاة المتطرفين الصهاينة الذين يدعون علانية إلى إباحة قتل الفلسطينيين وسلبهم أراضيهم ومنازلهم ومقدساتهم.. لكن ما كان مفاجئاً للجميع للعدو والصديق على السواء، سرعة الردّ الفلسطيني المقاوم، بعمليتين نوعيتين في القدس المحتلة، الأولى نفذها المقاوم خيري علقم، قرب كنيس يهودي، أدّت إلى مقتل 7 مستوطنين وجرح 17 آخرين، والعملية الثانية نفذها المقاوم محمد عليوات قرب سلوان وأسفرت عن إصابة ضابط صهيوني ومستوطن بجراح بالغة، وذلك رداً على مجزرة العدو في جنين، وهي سرعة لها دلالاتها العديدة من حيث التوقيت والمكان والنتائج:

أولا، من حيث التوقيت، أن يسارع فدائيان في غضون أربعة وعشرين ساعة إلى القيام بعمليتين نوعيتين قرب مستوطنتين صهيونيتين في القدس المحتلة، ودماء مجزرة جنين لا تزال ساخنة، فهذا يدلّ بوضوح عل مدى الجاهزية والاستعداد اللذين بات يتمتع بهما شبان المقاومة وقدرتهم على تنفيذ عملياتهم بالتوقيت الذي يريدون، للقول لحكومة العدو والمستوطنين انّ المقاومة قادرة وقوية وانّ مجزرتكم لم تنجح في كسرها أو إضعافها أو ليّ ذراع مقاوميها…
ثانياً، من حيث المكان، فإنّ اختيار مكانين في القدس المحتلة، قريبين من مستوطنتين صهيونيتين، وفي ذروة الاستنفار العسكري والأمني الصهيوني، إنما يؤشر إلى مستوى القدرة التي بات يمتلكها المقاومون:

1 ـ على صعيد التدريب، حيث أنّ تنفيذ مثل هذه العمليات يتطلب مستوى عالياً من التدريب وامتلاك القدرة على الوصول إلى الهدف، في ظلّ الاستنفار الأمني والعسكري الصهيوني.

2 ـ وعلى صعيد المعلومات، يتطلب تنفيذ مثل هذه العمليات امتلاك المقاومين قدرة على الاستطلاع ومعرفة أدقّ التفاصيل الأمنية بشأن أماكن تواجد قوات الاحتلال وحواجزها الأمنية المنتشرة في كلّ مدينة القدس المحتلة تحسّباً من عمليات المقاومة.

3 ـ كذلك على صعيد النجاح في تنفيذ عملياتهم وتحقيق أهدافها… بما يؤكد مستوى القدرة التي بات يحوز عليها المقاومون الذين ينفذون مثل هذه العمليات، في ذروة الإجراءات الأمنية الصهيونية.. وكذلك مستوى الكفاءة القتالية التي بات يتمتع بها منفذو العمليات من الشباب، وهو الأمر الذي اعترفت به وسائل الإعلام الصهيونية، حيث أشارت «القناة الـ13» الإسرائيلية إلى «احترافية منفّذ العملية» الشهيد خيري علقم (21 عاماً)، لافتة إلى أنّ «منفذ الهجوم أطلق الطلقة وراء الأخرى، وأصاب بصورة دقيقة. وعلى ما يبدو، لديه خبرة في الإصابة»… وما أقلق بشكل أكبر كيان العدو، أنّ الفدائي الفلسطيني الذي نفّذ عملية القدس بدا واضحاً أنه كان خاضعاً لتدريب دقيق حول ضبط النفس واغتنام الفرصة واستخدام المسدس بشكل دقيق».

ثالثاً، من حيث النتائج، فإنّ العمليتين، حققتا جملة من النتائج الهامة:

النتيجة الأولى، تأكيد جديد بأنه مهما أوغل العدوان الصهيوني في ارتكاب الجرائم والمجازر بحق الشعب الفلسطيني، فإنه لن يتمكن من إسكات مقاومته وفرض الاستسلام عليه، بل على العكس تماماً، فإنّ استمرار جرائم الاحتلال يؤدّي الى تأجيج المقاومة المسلحة، وانضمام المزيد من الشبان إلى صفوفها، للدفاع عن شعبهم وكرامتهم وحقهم في وطنهم، ولهذا فإنّ الردّ المقاوم جاء سريعاً وقوياً، فور ارتكاب العدو مجزرته في مخيم جنين..

النتيجة الثانية، توجيه ضربة موجعة للمنظومة الأمنية والعسكرية الصهيونية، وكشف عجزها وعدم قدرتها على حماية أمن الكيان، مما ولد إحباطاً صهيونياً وشعوراً غير مسبوق بالعجز، واعتراف الخبراء والمحللين الصهاينة باستحالة وقف العمليات الفردية.. وفي هذا السياق ذكرت وسائل الإعلام الإسرائيلية،» أنّ نتائج العملية (الاولى) في القدس فظيعة وقاسية».

وأشارت القناة 13 الإسرائيلية إلى «أنّ هجوم القدس (الاول) تم تنفيذه من تحت أنف الشاباك في القدس»، لأنّ العملية وجهت للجهاز الأمني الإسرائيلي ضربة مزدوجة.. ضربة لأحلام ورهانات حكومة المتطرفين الصهاينة على فرض الأمن عبر ارتكاب المزيد من المجازر.. ومن جهة ثانية كشفت مستوى عجز منظومة الأمن الصهيونية في القدرة على منع العمليات، مهما امتلكت من قدرات واتخذت من إجراءات.

النتيجة الثالثة، اهتزاز حكومة نتنياهو، واندفاع وزرائها للتنافس في إطلاق المواقف وتقديم الاقتراحات لاتخاذ إجراءات انتقامية من الفلسطينيين، والتي شملت، الدعوة لهدم منازل منفذي العمليات فوراً، وطرد عائلات منفذي العمليات من القدس إلى الضفة الغربية، وزيادة منسوب الاستيطان وتشديد الإجراءات الأمنية حول الأحياء والمخيمات الفلسطينية، وزيادة تسليح المستوطنين، وحشد قوات اضافية إلى القدس والضفة، استعداداً لتنفيذ المزيد من العمليات العسكرية والأمنية، تشمل اجتياح مدن ومخيمات وبلدات، وتوسعة دائرة الاعتقالات، والدعوة إلى إقرار الإعدام بحق الأسرى إلخ… وهذه كلها إجراءات عقاب جماعي ليست جديدة وهي أصلاً معتمدة ويجري اتخاذها اثر كلّ عملية فدائية، وإنما تؤشر إلى أنّ حكومة نتنياهو ليس لديها من جديد سوى الاتجاه إلى مزيد من التصعيد، وهذا يعني أنّ الوضع يتجه نحو التدهور والانفجار الواسع لأنّ مثل هذا التصعيد الصهيوني لن يقود إلا الى تصعيد في المقاومة والمواجهات الشعبية مع قوات الاحتلال، وقد يؤدي إلى اندلاع انتفاضة جديدة شعبية مسلحة، هي مزيج من الانتفاضتين الأولى والثانية.. كما قد يؤدي إلى عودة دخول المقاومة في قطاع غزة على خط المواجهة وبالتالي خوض معركة جديدة في سياق تأكيد وحدة الساحات والصراع المستمر بين المقاومة والاحتلال.. لن تكون نتائجها بعيدة عما آلت اليه المعارك والمواجهات السابقة من فشل العدو في تحقيق أهدافه في النيل من المقاومة والصمود الفلسطيني، وبالتالي نجاح المقاومة مجدداً في تكريس معادلة توازن الرعب والردع ..

النتيجة الرابعة، تأكيد جديد باستحالة طمس او تصفية قضية فلسطين، خصوصاً في ظلّ إصرار الشعب الفلسطيني على رفض الاستسلام ومواصلة الصمود والمقاومة، الشعبية والمسلحة، وبالتالي فإنّ الصهاينة لن ينعموا بالأمن والاستقرار طالما أنّ الشعب الفلسطيني ظلّ يعاني من الاحتلال واستمرار عمليات القمع والإرهاب والاعتقالات وهدم المنازل والاستيطان والتنكيل الصهيوني، وطالما أنه لم يحصل على حقوقه كاملة في وطنه.. أما إذا اعتقد عتاة المتطرفين الصهاينة انهم يستطيعون طرد الفلسطينيين ثانية من أرضهم وتهجيرهم خارج فلسطين فإنّ ذلك أيضاً تأكد انه حلم صهيوني لن يتحقق، لأنّ الشعب الفلسطيني تعلم الدرس من النكبة الأولى، والأجيال الجديدة منه التي نشأت بعد اتفاق أوسلو باتت أكثر وعياً وإدراكاً بأنّ الاحتلال لا تنفع معه سوى لغة القوة ولهذا يتجهون نحو انتهاج طريق المقاومة المسلحة.. وهذا يعني أنّ الصراع سوف يستمر إلى أن يتمكن الشعب الفلسطيني من استعادة حقوقه بالتحرّر من الاحتلال والتخلص من المستوطنين المستعمرين الذين تمّ جلبهم من دول عديدة وتمكينهم من الاستيلاء على أراضي الفلسطينيين وبناء المستعمرات عليها.. وهذا يعني أنّ خيارات الاحتلال مسدودة، فلا هو ناضج لتسويات حقيقية، ولا هو قادر على القضاء على المقاومة وفرض الاستسلام على الشعب الفلسطيني، ولا هو يستطيع تكرار نكبة ثانية، ولا هو قادر على إجبار الفلسطينيين على العيش في أرضهم، تحت حكم احتلال عنصري يسلبهم حقوقهم.. وبالتالي كلما وصل العدو إلى طريق مسدود في الخيارات التي يلجأ إليها كلما ارتدّ ذلك بمفاقمة أزماته الداخلية وزيادة حدة الانقسام والصراع بين مكونات الكيان الصهيوني…

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Dozens Killed or Injured in Peshawar Mosque Blast: Video

 January 30, 2023

Source: Agencies

Pakistani police and security officials inspect the site of a mosque blast in Peshawar (Monday, January 30, 2023 / image by AFP).

An explosion in a mosque in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar killed at least 25 worshippers and wounded dozens more in on Monday.

Deputy Commissioner Shafiullah Khan told the media that 25 people were killed and 120 others injured in the powerful blast.

Many of the casualties were police officers who had gathered for daily Duhr prayers, as the mosque was located close to a police housing block, hospital officials said.

Some 260 people inside when the blast occurred, according to police.

“A portion of the building had collapsed and several people are believed to be under it,” police official Sikandar Khan told Reuters news agency.

Powerful Explosion

A local police officer Zafar Khan told AFP that the attack was caused by a bomb, adding that the impact of the explosion collapsed the roof of the mosque and injured many.

Meena Gul, a police officer, said he was inside the mosque when the bomb went off. He said he did not know how he survived unhurt. Gul could hear cries and screams after the bomb exploded.

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera reported that said details were emerging that the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber.

“We are also getting details … the suicide bomber himself was sitting in the front row of the congregational prayer inside the mosque,” Al-Jazeera correspondent in Islamabad Kamal Hyder added.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing but the Pakistani Taliban have been blamed in similar suicide attacks in the past.

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan took to twitter to condemn the attack, calling for exerting efforts in order to confront terrorism.

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Enigma’s third episode: Socialism in Cuba and Washington’s schemes

January 30, 2023

Source: Al Mayadeen

By Al Mayadeen English 

The third episode of Enigma talks about post-revolution Cuba and highlights the measures taken by Havana in Cuba and the US role in inciting against the revolutionary government.


The third episode of Al Mayadeen‘s Enigma documentary series, aimed at shedding the light on the Cuban revolution and the impact it had on the world, highlighted the most prominent figures in the Cuban revolution and the circumstances that led to it altogether.

The third episode touched on what it was like in post-revolutionary Cuba and the measures taken by the revolutionary government in light of incitement by the United States against the government in Havana.

On January 8, 1959, through the road known as Malecón, Havana, officially the Avenida de Maceo, the freedom convoy led by leader Fidel Castro marched onto Havana. They had thwarted Fulgencio Batista’s US-backed dictatorship and came from the east, from the mountains of Sierra Maestra, from where they had begun 25 months prior to their final battle for victory and national integrity.

They were accompanied by popular support from the people of Cuba, and at the capital, the support of the Cuban people and their eagerness for change climaxed: they now had a new leader.

By that time, all main government strongholds that used to be controlled by the Batista regime had been under the control of the revolutionary authorities. Commander Ernesto “Che ” Guevara had taken over the Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña, or the Fort of Saint Charles, and his comrade Camilo Cienfuegos over Camp Columbia, the stronghold of dictatorship in Havana. That is where Castro went that night, and he was surrounded by a sea of people chanting in support of him and celebrating the ousting of the US-backed dictator whose reign caused nothing but misery. Castro called for the unity of the Cuban people, unity for victory, and he also warned that as of that moment, everything could either be smooth sailing or be extremely difficult.

Since the beginning, the revolutionary government took impactful measures, with the people being thought of first when it came to policy-making. The economic, political, and social changes were implemented swiftly, with rents and electricity prices getting halved, medicine prices getting decreased, and civilians being allowed to go on the beach after they were denied such privileges by the dictator.

Despite the various policies taken by Castro’s government, the measure that had the most repercussions at the time was the first agrarian law passed in May 1959, which granted the right of ownership of land to those who cultivate it and worked on it. Cuba started changing course and began reimbursing the people for their work after they had been exploited at the hands of the US-backed regime. And with that, the United States began weaving its first plots against the revolutionary government.

US anti-revolutionary schemes

With the onset of the revolution, the United States signed a decree imposing the first ban on trade with Cuba. The decision was made to stop all exports to the island, except for food and medicine. A few months later, on January 3, 1961, diplomatic relations were severed, and a few days later, the decision was made to restrict the travel of American citizens to the island. The Eisenhower administration ushered in a new era and drew up the basics of Washington’s policy toward Cuba, which would go on to shape US-Cuban relations to this very day.

Many of the destabilizing elements between Cuba and the United States were policies taken during the 60s and are still in force to this day, and the Cuban people are bearing the brunt of the US anti-revolutionary rhetoric.

Another aspect that shaped Cuban-US relations was the countless operations carried out by the CIA to try and destabilize Cuba, such as Operation Peter Pan, which was orchestrated by the CIA, the US State Department, and the leadership of the Catholic Church in Miami.

All measures of change in the country were taking place in the face of violent confrontations, and in fact, the country was subject to a permanent terrorist threat, as sabotage, threats of invasion, and hijacking of planes and fishermen’s boats were commonplace. 

Not far from the Escambray Mountains in central Cuba, in the ancient province of Las Villas is the city of Trinidad, a World Heritage Site. Right in the heart of that region, some of the fiercest counter-revolutionary gangs operated between 1959 and 1965. It was a counter-revolutionary movement funded, armed, and run by the CIA.

The CIA wanted to take advantage of this situation in the Escambray region to carry out a sea and land landing of a military brigade and take control of a coastal outpost in Trinidad. US plans revealed that Washington would form a provisional government there and demand international recognition and military support to overthrow the revolutionary government.

In March 1961, Havana carried out Operation Cage, an operation aimed at counter-revolutionaries, trapping them before conducting an offensive against them. The offensive was called Operation Escambray Purge, and it saw more than 70,000 fighters from all over Cuba taking up arms in the face of the anti-revolutionaries.

On the dawn of April 15, 1961, eight American B-26 bombers carried out attacks against three Cuban airports; Santiago de Cuba, San Antonio de los Baños, and Ciudad Libertad. The bombing was an attempted false flag operation. The bombers flew in disguised with the emblem of the Cuban Air Force in order to make it look like an internal mutiny from the air force. However, the other goal behind the operation was destroying the humble revolutionary air force on the ground so that it would not possess the capacity for a confrontation during an invasion.

On that day, seven Cubans were killed and 50 others were wounded. One of those murdered by the United States wrote the name of Fidel Castro on the wall in his own blood before succumbing to his wound, embodying the decision to resist.

Cuba adopts socialism

From the heart of the Cuban capital of Havana and as a funeral was underway for those martyred during the bombing, commander Fidel Castro declared a general state of alert to face the imminent invasion. He also declared the socialist aspect of the Cuban revolution, turning Cuba into the first country to adopt socialism as a social and economic system in the Western Hemisphere.

A military campaign was orchestrated by the United States to topple the island nation’s socialist government, with Washington allocating some $13 million to form a brigade of 600 mercenaries who, according to the US dream that would stand the test of time as a dream, were supposed to completely eradicate the revolution within two days. Some of the mercenaries were sent to train in training camps set up in Guatemala and Panama.

The e 2506th Mercenary Brigade, financed by the Kennedy administration, landed at the Bay of Pigs on April 17, 1961. However, the fierce and brilliant resistance of the Cuban Revolutionary Militia, personally led by Fidel Castro, thwarted this aggression in less than 72 hours. The time factor was important because the goal of the invaders was to control a coastal outpost, form a government, and seek recognition from the puppet governments of the corrupt OAS.

The mercenaries were only able to make it a couple of kilometers into Cuba from the shore before they were completely crushed by a resilient Cuba. 

The most dangerous event that both countries and indeed the entire world faced during the Cold War period was in October 1962. Humanity was on the brink of nuclear fallout. USSR intelligence confirmed what Cuba already knew: the American invasion of the island is imminent. The Soviet Union then suggested to the government and the leadership of the revolution that Moscow deploys defensive nuclear missiles on Cuban soil.

President Kennedy demanded that the Soviet nuclear missiles stationed in Cuba be handed back. To realize his goal, he imposed a naval blockade on the island. This prompted the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces to respond by putting all its units on combat alert, as a direct attack on Cuba seemed imminent.

Despite the unwavering position of the people of Cuba and its armed forces, who were all mobilized and prepared in the face of this threat, the Soviets decided unilaterally to take the missiles back from Cuba during negotiations that took place between Nikita Khrushchev and Kennedy without the involvement of the Cuban leadership.

Socialism unites

The proclamation of the socialist nature of the Cuban Revolution was a decisive step towards uniting all the revolutionary political forces: the 26th of July Movement, the Popular Socialist Party, and the Revolutionary Directorate of the 13 March Movement agreed to dissolve themselves independently and individually in order to later unite into a single party: the Communist Party of Cuba.

It was a Monday not like any other, as the streets of Cuba were unusually silent. The news of Che’s martyrdom has made it into every street, house, and heart of Cuban citizens. Children went to school, but they were silent. That is what a local newspaper said in Che Guevara’s obituary.

About half a million Cubans participated in the anti-colonial wars in Africa. Men and women from the Caribbean island supported Algeria, Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde Island, and Ethiopia, in their wars to defend their sovereignty. The Cuban forces supported Angola in its struggle against the system of discrimination and apartheid as well.

In the long list of attacks against the Cuban people, 1976 stands out as one of the most blood-stained years since the revolution. Another terrorist act was organized by members of the Cuban-American mafia in Miami, and the CIA had a hand. The terrorists bombed a Cubana de Aviacion airliner while in the air, killing 73 people. Those who masterminded this terrorist attack were the Cuban terrorists Orlando Bosh and Luis Posada Carriles. They were later protected by the US government after the victims’ families demanded that they be prosecuted.

On September 18, 1980, the first Latin American man to make it to space, Cuban astronaut Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez, took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. This event was the fruit of space cooperation between the Soviet Union and other socialist countries.

Ties between the USSR and Cuba were very warm despite being almost non-exist pre-revolution. They began to develop due to transformations undertaken by the country. From the start, these ties helped resist the US blockade imposed on the Caribbean island.

By 1974, Cuba had joined the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) on preferential terms. In practice, this meant that Cuba would be granted loans on soft terms and had incentive prices set for its products, as well as partaking in joint construction of industrial facilities while receiving effective assistance in the scientific sector.

The 90s brought upon the world an array of changes; the Berlin wall fell, Soviet republics were no more, the USSR collapsed, and with that CMEA was no more either. It was believed at the time that Cuba was isolated from its “eco-system”, from the system that allowed it to maintain its economic equilibrium. This political and economic isolation would have isolated or re-isolated Cuba at a time when the United States was escalating its hostilities against the island nation. However, Cuba was not to be isolated just yet due to the creative resistance of the Cuban people.

The people and their revolution were unwavering in the face of the challenges and hardship thrown in their direction. None of the public services that the revolution implemented for its people were abolished. None of them were privatized. Schools remained open and Cuba remained safe from the neoliberal policies that had taken the entire Latin American region by storm at the time. Those who were hoping that the Cuban revolution would falter and that its end was near were greatly disappointed. The Cuban Revolution survived, and it continues to live even after the death of most of its leaders.

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Qatar Partners for Joint Exploration in Lebanese Gas Blocks: A Ray of Hope?

 January 29, 2023

Lebanon, Qatar Energy, Eni, TotalEnergies sign an agreement in Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023

Batoul Wehbe

Lebanon witnessed on Sunday the signing ceremony of ‘The Revised Appendices to the Exploration and Production Agreements for Blocks 4 and 9’, an agreement for Qatar Energy Company to join a consortium that will search for gas in the Mediterranean Sea off Lebanon’s coast.

As soon as the good news of the gas agreement circulated this afternoon, the exchange rate of the dollar recorded a decline on the Lebanese black market to below than 57,000 Lebanese Lira, giving hope to perpetually overwhelmed people.

The Lebanese government, together with two leading international oil companies, entered into an agreement with the state-owned Qatar Energy Company, resulting in the latter becoming a partner in the consortium exploring the oil and gas potential of Blocks 4 and 9. This marks a significant milestone in the quest for oil and gas in Lebanon’s maritime domain.

“Today marks a historic event in Lebanon as we sign the amended addendums to the exploration and production agreements in blocks 4 and 9, in the presence of the CEO of Qatar Energy Company, and with the support and attendance of the Prime Minister’s Office of Business Administration Nijib Mikati in the governmental palace,” the Ministry of Energy stated.

The Minister of Energy, Dr. Waleed Fayyad, signed on behalf of Lebanon, while the State Minister of Energy from Qatar, the CEO of Qatar Energy Company, Engineer Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, signed on behalf of Qatar, the CEO of Total Group, Patrick Pouyanné, signed on behalf of the French company, and the CEO of Eni, Claudio Descalzi, signed on behalf of the Italian company, in the presence of ambassadors from Qatar, France, and Italy.

PM Miktai, Walid Fayyad, Al-Kaabi

“This step comes after Qatar Energy Company became a partner in the consortium of petroleum companies with the rights to explore and produce in blocks 4 and 9 in Lebanese waters, as an undeveloped oil owner, joining Total E&P from France and Eni from Italy,” the Lebanese Ministry added.

The ownership share in each of the consortium’s companies will be divided among the four partners, and they will work together to explore and produce oil and gas in these two blocks as follows:

“ Total Energies: 35%
    Eni: 35%
   Qatar Energy: 30% 

This new partnership coincides with the operator’s ongoing efforts to carry out exploration and drilling activities in block 9 this year. Lebanon’s share ranges from 54% to 63% after deducting operating and capital expenses if a discovery is made.

“We are thrilled to welcome Qatar Energy to our exploration efforts in Lebanon. The recent determination of the country’s maritime boundary with Israel has generated a new opportunity for the exploration of its hydrocarbon resources. Total Energies and our partners are fully committed to drilling an exploration well in Block 9 as soon as possible in 2023, and our teams are ready to commence these operations,” stated Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman and CEO of Total Energies.

This partnership further strengthens the collaboration between Total Energies and Qatar Energy in exploration activities, bringing the number of countries where the companies have partnerships to nine.

“Our concentration will be on block number nine,” al-Kaabi, Qatar’s Energy Minister, said, adding that this could be a first step for Qatar Energy to play a bigger role in future explorations.

“It is an honor to be in Lebanon with these two companies,” said Descalzi, the CEO of Italy’s state-run energy company, ENI, said in turn. “We will work all together to give the best to your country.”

During the press conference held after the signing ceremony, Lebanese Energy Minister Fayyad hailed the deal that “marks the beginning of a new chapter that reinforces Lebanon’s standing as a major player in the regional oil industry.”

“This indicates the continuation of confidence in Lebanon despite all the ordeals and crises that it is going through, and the hopes pinned on making commercial discoveries in the exclusive Lebanese economic zone,” Fayyad pointed out.

For his part, PM Mikati affirmed that the initiation of exploration and petroleum activities in Lebanon’s waters holds great potential to generate short- and medium-term benefits. “This marks the initiation of a new stage in the exploration and petroleum operations in Lebanese waters, poised to have a beneficial influence, both in the short and intermediate term, on the creation of opportunities for Lebanese companies involved in the petroleum services sector and providing employment prospects for Lebanese youth, particularly those with technical expertise,” Mikati said.

“This partnership between Qatar Energy and its acquisition of a 30% stake in exploration and production agreements for Blocks 4 and 9 is a significant and unparalleled event in the oil exploration and production sector in Lebanon’s maritime waters, given Qatar Energy’s reputation and expertise in the gas industry globally,” he noted.

The US Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, Amos Hochstein, who mediated the Israeli-Lebanese maritime border negotiations, has lauded the agreement between Lebanon, Qatar Energy, TotalEnergies and ENI. In a tweet, Hochstein exclaimed, “Congratulations to Lebanon on Qatar Energy joining as an investor with ENI and TotalEnergies. This is a welcome addition of new investment in the Lebanese energy sector and further evidence of progress from the maritime agreement.”

Light at the End of the Tunnel?

The Lebanese people pin hopes on this landmark agreement that would save its economy from deteriorating to an untenable level.

The Lebanese economy is in a state of profound distress, with the Lebanese pound experiencing a severe devaluation of nearly 90% since the onset of the economic crisis in May 2019. The latest reports indicate the exchange rate of the Lebanese pound reached a record low of over 60,000 to the dollar on Friday.

In addition to this, food prices have skyrocketed nearly tenfold, leading to high levels of unemployment and putting three-quarters of the population into poverty.

The absence of a president has been a persistent issue in the country since the expiration of Michel Aoun’s presidential term on October 31st. Despite the Parliament convening on 11 occasions, efforts to elect a new president have been unsuccessful.

In the same context, MP Gebran Bassil, head of the Free Patriotic Movement, stated in a press conference that the country is facing the consequences of a breakdown, including a surging dollar, increasing poverty, sky-high gasoline prices, disarray in the pharmaceutical market, a threatened education sector, lack of administration, and employees and transactions being ignored. Additionally, he mentioned that judges are airing their grievances and acting based on political agendas.

MP Bassil urged for a unified approach and prompt discussions among all parties, either in a bilateral or collective manner, to come to an agreement on a streamlined and swift action plan. He also called for reaching consensus on a list of potential candidates for the presidential election, or if not possible, to vote based on an agreed upon list.

“We are ready to conclude a new understanding with Hezbollah and with any political component on building the state in partnership, provided it is implemented,” Bassil said.

Bou Saab in the DC

All the way to the United States, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Elias Bou Saab, has departed for Washington on an official visit. During the trip, he will engage in talks with US administration officials, members of the Senate and Congress, as well as high-level representatives of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Bou Saab will also participate in joint meetings alongside Representatives Neamat Freim, Yassin Yassin, and Mark Daou.

It is foreseen that on the first day of his visit, Bou Saab will commence with a meeting and dinner facilitated by Wael Hashem, Chargé d’Affaires at the Lebanese Embassy. The US Special Presidential Coordinator, Amos Hochstein, will also be in attendance, giving a joint speech with Bou Saab regarding the aftermath of the maritime border demarcation and its effect on Lebanon. The dinner will be attended by prominent Lebanese parliamentarians, members of the Senate and Congress, and high-level American officials.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

US to Send Abrams Tanks to Ukraine: Will it make any Difference?

January 29, 2023 

(Brian Berletic – New Eastern Outlook) –

The recent announcement that the United States will be sending at least 31 M1 Abrams tanks along with a growing number of German Leopard 2 main battle tanks comes as Ukrainian forces find themselves losing ground across much of the line of contact.

Articles like the Guardian’s, “US joins Germany in sending tanks to Ukraine as Biden hails ‘united’ effort,” claim:

Joe Biden has approved sending 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, a significant escalation in the US effort to counter Russian aggression as international reluctance to send tanks to the battlefront falls away.

The reversal of the US’s previous position came after Germany confirmed it will make 14 of its Leopard 2A6 tanks available for Ukraine’s war effort, and give partner countries its permission to re-export other battle tanks to aid Kyiv.

It also says:

“Putin expected Europe and the United States to weaken our resolve,” Biden said in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. “He expected our support for Ukraine to crumble with time. He was wrong. He was wrong. He was wrong from the beginning and he continues to be wrong.”

Yet despite the apparent uptick in support, upon closer analysis it appears practical support for Ukraine has long-since been exhausted and the West has now resorted to “wonder weapons” that will have even less impact on the battlefield than previous aid packages.

Not the “Game Changer” Many Think 

The idea that the West transferring their main battle tanks to Ukraine will be a “game changer” is rooted in the myth of Western main battle tanks being “superior” to their Russian counterparts. In turn, this myth is owed to their performance in Iraq in 1991 and again during the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 where modern US and British main battle tanks went up against Soviet-era export versions of the T-72.

Not only do several experienced US military officers warn against this misconception, the performance of Western main battle tanks in recent conflicts tells a much different story.

Former US Army Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis in a recent article published by 1945 helps dispel the myths surrounding Western tank performance in Iraq and asked the question whether or not these high-tech tanks will make a difference – allowing Ukrainian forces to drive Russian forces from territory Kiev claims is Ukrainian.

He points out the critical factors that actually lead to a US victory in Iraq. He explains:

In Desert Storm, U.S. M1A1 Abrams tanks wiped out Saddam Hussein’s fleets of Soviet-made T-72s, and again the American Abrams-led invasion in 2003 revealed the T-72 was no match for U.S. tanks. And truly the American tanks were witheringly successful. During Desert Storm, for example, the U.S. and its coalition partners destroyed more than 3,000 Iraqi tanks. Saddam’s armored force, however, did not destroy even a single Abrams tank. It’s understandable, then, why anyone would want to have an Abrams or equivalent tank, especially when it has proven so effective against exactly the type of tanks Russia has.

Lt. Col. Davis omits, however, that the tanks used by Iraqi forces during Desert Storm are not comparable to the type of tanks Russia has today.

The T-72s operated by Iraqi forces during Desert Storm were protected only by the steel armor they were originally manufactured with. They lacked night vision and thermal imaging sights, as well as computerized fire control systems that automatically calculate firing solutions for tank gunners taking in account a number of factors including temperature, munition type, wind speed and direction as well as barometric pressure.

Also not mentioned in Lt. Col. Davis’ article is the fact that the US deployed upward to 1,900 Abrams to fight against these far inferior Iraqi tanks and that this immense tank force was supported by an equally massive amount of supporting air power, artillery, and mechanized infantry which when combined is referred to as combined arms warfare.

Lt. Col. Davis does, however, mention a very important factor that worked almost entirely in America’s favor, training.

Training is Key and Training Takes Years

Lt. Col Davis in his article explains:

First, the U.S. crewmen were highly trained as individuals. In my unit, tank drivers, loaders, gunners, and vehicle commanders had all mastered their individual jobs, then for more than a year before battle, had conducted considerable time training as platoons, then at company-level, and later we trained in squadron and eventually regimental levels. No one could have been more ready to fight than we were. 

Conversely, Iraqi forces had none of this training. Lt. Col. Davis explains that many Iraqi tankers had little if any practice firing their main guns, little if any unit-level training, and maintenance programs required to keep heavy weapons like a main battle tank operational on the battlefield were “virtually nonexistent.”

The disparity in training was so extreme that Lt. Col. Davis concluded that even if US tankers were operating Iraq’s T-72s and the Iraqis were given American M1 Abrams, the United States still would have won.

He then explains:

In tank fights, the side that accurately fires first almost always wins. In Desert Storm, we almost always fired first, and because of our training, almost never missed. But even when the Iraqi gunners got off a shot, it was rarely on target. The results were fatal for them.

Russian tanks today have computerized fire control systems, night and thermal sights, as well as sophisticated explosive reactive armor (ERA). They will be at least as capable as Western main battle tanks transferred to Ukraine. Russian tanks will also be many times more numerous. Training aside, if tank battles in Ukraine become a matter of who sees who first and delivers the first accurate shot, there will be many more capable Russian tanks looking for and firing at Western tanks.

It takes nearly half a year to train an entry-level tanker to operate a modern Western main battle tank (22 weeks according to the US Army’s website). Western tank crews consist of a driver, a gunner, a loader, and a tank commander. The tank commander will often have years of experience operating the specific tank in question, meaning that there are no Western tank crews composed of just entry-level tankers.

This is an insurmountable problem for Ukraine. While the Western media even admits that it will take months for Ukrainians to learn how to operate and then deploy Western tanks, this is only if crews are given crash courses on how to operate their own individual tanks, omitting any training on how to use tanks together as units.

Many argue that training can be abbreviated and that Ukrainian forces are “highly motivated” and thus somehow capable of compressing years of necessary training and experience into a few weeks. This is simply not true.

US Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling (retired) in a recent thread on Twitter agrees.

He warned that training can’t be “hand-waved.” If it is, crews will be ineffective on the battlefield while actually causing damage to the tank itself.

The M1 Abrams is propelled by a multi-fuel turbine engine that requires a significant amount of careful driver training to avoid damaging it. A damaged engine needs to be replaced – a non-trivial task on the front line in Ukraine. The engine cannot be maintained by a general mechanic but requires a technician trained and certified to work on it specifically.

Lt. General Hertling points out that virtually everything that breaks on an M1 Abrams will need to be replaced, requiring an 800 km-long logistical line to be established as Ukrainians themselves will not be able to perform the repairs inside Ukraine.

He also points out that other nations using the M1 Abrams including Iraq and Saudi Arabia required a 5 and 7 year training program respectively before standing up their fleets. Both nations still depend on General Dynamics (the tank’s manufacturer) to perform maintenance since technicians in either country have yet to acquire training and equipment to do it themselves.

It is easy then to imagine the complications that will arise attempting to deploy such weapon systems on such short notice in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Western Tanks Will Fight Alone 

Lt. Col. Davis in his article also pointed out that “tanks cannot fight alone or they die.” 

He is referring to combined arms warfare – the air, artillery, and mechanized infantry support the US had in abundance when advancing into Iraq – support Ukraine doesn’t and will not have throughout this current conflict.

The example of Ukraine’s offensive toward Kherson was mentioned, pointing out that Ukrainian tanks rushing forward were targeted and destroyed mostly by artillery shells, rockets, and anti-tank missiles. Very few if any tank-on-tank engagements ever took place. Russia eliminated brigades worth of Ukrainian soldiers and equipment during the multiple offensive waves Ukraine launched at Russian positions. Lt. Col. Davis surmises the same outcome would have resulted even if Ukrainians were operating M1 Abrams and Leopard 2 tanks instead of T-72s.

This is because in addition to tanks, Russia has air power and significantly larger amounts of artillery than Ukraine does on the battlefield. Russia has also developed and possesses large numbers of a variety of anti-tank weapons from anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) launched by armored vehicles, helicopters, and warplanes, to ATGMs and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) operated by infantry.

These ATGMs and RPGs have proven effective in recent conflicts around the globe specifically against Western main battle tanks like the British Challenger 2, the American M1 Abrams, the Israeli Merkava, and the German Leopard 2. Often these losses were suffered at the hands of irregular forces armed with older Russian anti-tank weapons and without the benefit of combined arms support like air power and artillery or their own tanks.

Dragging Out a Lost Conflict 

At the beginning of Russia’s special military operation in February 2022, Ukraine had large numbers of modernized Soviet-era tanks, artillery, warplanes, and mechanized infantry.

Russia systematically destroyed it prompting a deluge of equipment from NATO’s Eastern European members still in possession of Soviet-era equipment. This “second” army was likewise destroyed during Ukraine’s Kharkov and Kherson offensives.

Now NATO is building Ukraine a “third” army consisting of equipment Ukrainian forces have no experience using or sustaining on the battlefield. It is also equipment that offers no substantial advantage over Russian equipment even if training and sustainment issues did not exist. Worse still, Russia has a much large amount of any given type of equipment on the battlefield including main battle tanks and an industrial capacity to replace tank losses at rates the collective West are not capable of.

The transfer of Western armor to Ukraine will certainly draw out this conflict longer, lead to more casualties on both sides, and more thoroughly destroy Ukraine itself, but it will not alter the outcome of the fighting.

Western tanks without the benefit of artillery and air support, crewed by inexperienced Ukrainian tankers will fare worse than Ukrainian forces did operating equipment they had years of experience operating. Suspicions that Western tank operators will crew these weapon systems are well-founded. However, even if Western operators crewed these tanks, they would still be going into battle outnumbered and without the type of combined arms support the US required to prevail in Iraq.

At the end of it, Ukraine will find itself back to where it started, in need of another army’s worth of equipment to replace their substantial losses and a shrinking pool of trained manpower to operate it.

Brian Berletic is a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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Number of martyrs in Jenin massacre rises to 10 Palestinians

January 29, 2023

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

The Palestinian Ministry of Health pronounces dead the Palestinian youth Omar Al-Saadi, who was critically injured during the Jenin massacre.

Palestinian martyr Omar Al-Saadi

The Palestinian Ministry of Health announced on Sunday the martyrdom of Palestinian youth Omar Al-Saadi after he succumbed to the injuries that he sustained last Thursday during the massacre that the Israeli occupation committed at Jenin refugee camp, north of the occupied West Bank.

According to the Ministry, Al-Saadi, 24, was critically injured by Israeli bullets during the Israeli occupation raid on Jenin and was pronounced dead this evening.

Al-Saadi’s death brings up the number of martyrs in the Jenin massacre to 10 Palestinians.

It is noteworthy that following the Jenin massacre, Palestinian presidential Spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh said the Palestinian authorities have officially decided to halt the so-called “security” coordination with “Israel” and contact the UN Security Council.

Following the bloody raid, Israeli occupation police announced on Friday that seven illegal Israeli settlers were killed and at least 10 others were wounded in the aftermath of a shooting that took place in Nabi Yaqub, occupied Al-Quds. And on Saturday, two settlers were seriously injured in a shooting attack in Silwan, occupied Al-Quds.

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Sayyed Al-Houthi: Quran Burning Amounts to Declaration of War Against Muslim World

 January 29, 2023

By Staff, Agencies

The leader of Yemen’s Ansarullah resistance movement has severely censured the desecration of the Holy Quran by a far-right Swedish-Danish politician in Stockholm and Copenhagen, terming the sacrilegious move as a declaration of war against the Muslim world.

Addressing a ceremony in the Yemeni capital city of Sanaa on Friday evening, Sayyed Abdul-Malik al-Houthi stated that the spread of Islam in European and Western societies has been a source of constant worry for enemies of Islam, and prompted anti-Islam individuals to set fire to the copies of the Muslim holy book in a show of desperation.

He stressed that the burning of the Holy Quran in European countries falls within the framework of their hostile war on human societies, and their efforts to distance societies from Quran, and create animosity towards Islam.

On Friday, Swedish-Danish right-wing extremist Rasmus Paludan torched copies of the Holy Quran near a mosque and outside the premises of the Turkish Embassy in the Danish capital Copenhagen.

Paludan had already infuriated the Muslim world by staging a Quran-burning protest in Sweden’s capital Stockholm on Jan. 21. The right-wing extremist has vowed to continue the stunt every Friday until Sweden is admitted into the US-led NATO.

“The burning of the Holy Quran is not justifiable by any means. It is considered a hostile, criminal and profane action against all holy books,” Houthi said.

The Ansarullah chief noted, “Oppressors are trying to put up a barrier between world nations and the Quran, because they view it as the biggest danger for themselves and the biggest savior for human beings.”

“Burning of the Holy Quran and declaring enmity towards it and Islam amount to a blatant disrespect for all Muslims. Such an approach also attests to the extent of satanic forces’ anger towards Quran and their weakness in the face of the sacred book,” he noted.

Houthi went on to condemn the burning of the Holy Quran as the gravest act of hostility against Islam and Muslims, emphasizing that the pro-Zionist lobby stands at the forefront of the aggressive campaign against Islam, Quran and Muslims.

“Satanic forces try to perpetrate grievous sins and despicable crimes in the name of freedom of thought and speech, and enlist political and legal support for them,” the leader of the Ansarullah movement said.

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Hamas reveals it downed IOF military hexacopter drone in Gaza

January 29, 2023

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

The Al-Qassam Brigades said they took control of a drone during the recent aggression on Gaza and extracted sensitive information related to the occupation forces from it.

Picture of the capture IOF drone. (Al-Qassam Brigade)

Palestinian resistance movement Hamas said on Sunday it downed and captured an IOF military remote surveillance small drone over Gaza.

In a published statement on Sunday, the Al-Qassam Brigades said they took control of a drone during the recent aggression on Gaza and extracted sensitive information related to the occupation forces from it.

Below are some of the pictures that were released along with the statement.

“Israel’s” occupation forces had reportedly kept the disappearance of this drone secret until Hamas announced it was in their possession. 

This comes days after the IOF carried out violent raids in Jenin in the West Bank, resulting in at least 10 Palestinian deaths and 20 injuries.

Three days of national mourning were proclaimed by the Palestinian Authority.

Palestinian resistance factions in Gaza retaliated later by firing a salvo of missiles at the occupied city of Askalan.  

Read more: CIA chief arrives in “Tel Aviv” amid raids – reports

Some Thoughts about Neutrality and Peaceful Multi-Ethnicity

January 28, 2023


By Eduard Rosel

The emissary from Kiev to the WEF in Davos, Switzerland, Olena Zelenska, the wife of the Ukrainian President, said in Davos to an international audience that in the current situation neutrality cannot be permitted. She spoke about the children. Speaking to the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung and asked about Switzerland not sending weapons to Ukraine, she replied with restraint and thankfulness regarding the reception of 50’000 refugees.

Switzerland has been neutral since the year 1815. The great powers at that time guarantied the territorial integrity of Switzerland in the borders of 1815 provided that Switzerland would remian neutral in future conflicts. But even before 1815 the independence of the confederation from the great powers Austria and France was intertwined with its neutrality.

Neutrality has been an issue in Switzerland since the latest Ukraine conflict began. A few months back the Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis was considered to be negligent in the matter of neutrality and as a result a referendum is now being prepared by the Swiss People’s Party which will confirm, clarify and strengthen Switzerland’s neutrality. Switzerland is not unique. Austria is also neutral, meaning that it is not a member of NATO, and in this way it avoided being partitioned after World War II as Germany was.

Switzerland is also a multi-ethnic country. Despite its population of only 8 million, there are four cultural groups and four official languages. There is an unofficial custom which parliament always observes when electing a new government: the three main regions must always be represented in the government. All ministers are bilingual. There are no ethnic tensions.

If you want to talk about values, think about neutrality and peaceful multi-ethnicity! Switzerland’s last war was in 1848 and it was a very short civil war. It is also said that the neutrality of Switzerland allows it to be an honest broker. Thus many international agencies and summits are hosted in Geneva. Switzerland is a go-between the estranged nations United States and Iran.

The change in government in Kiev in 2014 can be considered to be a coup d’état since the elected government was replaced by a government according to the wishes of the United States, as was evidenced by the leak of an infamous telephone conversation between the US ambassador and the US diplomat (who is now known for her undiplomatic language) Victoria Nuland.

The Maidan coup d’état resulted in severe ethnic tensions in a politically fragile country, which at that time had only been a nation state for a total of 28 years including the years from 1917 to 1922. There was for example a massacre in Odessa in which 46 anti-Maidan demonstrators were killed.

When the conflict in Ukraine broke out in 2014 after the troubles on the Maidan square and the violent change of government, Switzerland held the presidency of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe OSCE. Therefore the Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini (called “the facilitator” and praised by Bloomberg) was allowed to work on a ceasefire agreement which resulted in the Minsk I and the Minsk II Protocols, both signed for the OSCE by Tagliavini. She was supported by Swiss President Didier Burkhalter who at that time was President of the OSCE. He cautioned all parties not to pour oil on the fire. For those two diplomats Minsk was not a sham, it was an attempt in good faith to bring peace to Ukraine. Burkhalter retired prematurely from politics two years later.

Minsk I was signed by Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE. Minsk II was signed by Germany, France, Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE. Minsk II was also adopted as the Resolution 2202 of the Security Council of the United Nations.

As we have recently learned from Petro Poroshenko, Angela Merkel and François Hollande the Minsk II Agreement was intended to “buy time” for Ukraine. This is what Angela Merkel said in an interview on the 8th of December 2022. On the one hand she says that her aim was to prevent a war both in 2008 and in 2014. Then she says that Minsk was to give Ukraine time and “as one sees today, Ukraine used this time to become stronger”. Today the NATO states can do much more to help Ukraine, she said.

So the Minsk agreements bought time and permitted Ukraine to establish massive fortifications within the very regions or oblasts that should have been granted autonomy from Kiev according to the agreement signed by Ukraine! Does Merkel think or did she think at the time that this was a good idea? Was this not a preparation for more civil war?

Presumably she bowed to the US wish to use Ukraine as an instrument against Russia according to the Brzezinski doctrine of 1997. She may have been cowed by the revelation in 2013 that her mobile phone, which was supposed to be tap-proof, had been listened to for the last 10 years by the US Embassy in Berlin.

In essence there was to be no accommodation for the Russian language ethnic group as foreseen by the two agreements. Merkel apparently quickly realized that this was not what was intended by Kiev and Paris.

With Poroshenko one gets the impression it might have gone either way. Under pressure from the American “friends” he went to the cynical side. Hollande is a typical European Atlanticist, which is the opposite of a Gaullist. This in my view is a mistake for reasons given here.

Since then there has been no end of accusations, recriminations, and very clever argumentation leading nowhere but to more verbal strife, increased hatred and the impossibility of finding a solution. Let us stick to the relevant issues and those are war, peace and modest prosperity. Maybe I have missed something, maybe my sources are one-sided, maybe my reasoning is faulty, but this essay is written in good faith.

As we have learned in the last months, the United States has a great interest in the war, enabling it to weaken Russia by using the ethnic tensions in Ukraine and using Ukraine as a proxy. Repeatedly there are calls in Washington to prolong the war as long as possible! There seems to be an affinity for long wars as was the case in Vietnam and Afghanistan. In the end they will tire of this game and leave Ukraine in the lurch.

The massive Ukrainian fortifications in the Donbass are now in the process of being destroyed by the Russian Special Military Operation. One might ask why there is currently such a controversy about delivering German Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine when it is clearly too late to save the fortifications in Bakhmut. Perhaps the answer is that this is not the purpose. The purpose is not to end but to prolong the war.

Would it have not been in the interest of Ukraine to vacate the Donbass and to grant it autonomy, thus adhering to the Minsk agreements? Would it not have been in the interests of Ukraine to avoid the conflict by not aligning itself with NATO? Would neutrality and a fair multi-ethnic society not have avoided the unneccessary suffering that has ensued?

An astute political commentator, Victor Gao, had this to say on the 4th of June 2022 on the Chinese television channel CGTN: “I think that the best case scenario for Ukraine is that it will be one of the, if not the wealthiest, richest, happiest countries in Europe if not in the world at large. Why? Because if you look at the situation involving Ukraine it really has all the ingredients (he is referring to the fertile lands, the industries, the strategic location and the well-educated population) to make a great success that the Ukrainian people deserve. If I use the wisdom of Deng Xiaoping a little bit to apply that to Ukraine, Ukraine can make huge successes and a great transformation of the country but they need to satisfy one or two preconditions. One is to maintain stability (he is referring to non-discrimination on ethnic grounds, the fight against corruption etc.) and secondly is to be friends with all and be enemy with none.”

So why has the opposite happened? It has happened because Ukraine did not choose neutrality, opting instead to be an instrument of Western geopolitical conflict against the very Russia of which it was for the most of its history a part and where many of its older elites were educated and held important positions. It has also fanned the flames of ethnic tension. What a colossal mistake this was, made in the only 31 years of its history as a nation state! And Europe is the accomplice.

At the end of last November Ursula von der Leyen said that 100’000 Ukrainian military personnel had died. She was quickly silenced and her tweet was deleted since these numbers are not meant to be made public.

Colonel Douglas Macgregor has estimated the Ukrainian losses up to now at over 150’000, not including the wounded. “The biggest losses are usually in the last phase of a war when the losing side is retreating.” According to him there no chance that Ukraine will win this conflict. The United States can only fight against an inferior enemy, he says. The situation is “not pretty” for Ukraine.

Whenever the spirits might be lagging, high ranking visitors from the US and the UK seem to make an appearance in Kiev. Brian Berletic of the New Atlas points out that a hodge-podge of weapons is not very helpful. I would also imagine that a host of different NATO and other officials telling the people in Kiev what to do next might have a disruptive effect. M. K. Bhadrakumar has pointed out that bravado and grandstanding will not win a war. Andrei Martyanov has pointed out that it is not the GDP but the Comprehensive Index of National Capability that matters and cautions against underestimating Russia.

And supposing that Ukraine would launch an offensive with Western “Wunderwaffen” or superweapons and retake the Donbass and Crimea as its President has pledged to do? In 2019 he was elected on a platform of improving relations with the Russian Federation. This is what the people wanted in a country that supposedly is democratic, especially in the East of the country from Kharkiv to Odessa. He has delivered exactly the opposite. Retaking Donbass and Crimea would be a new civil war and a crime against the population there which wishes nothing more than to return to Russia. Think of the children. The Charter of the United Nations condemns unnecessary violence and promotes self-determination.

Richard Wolff, who according to the New York Times is America’s most prominent Marxist economist, even argues that the conflict is intended to weaken Russia because it is an ally of China, and that China is the main target. He also has pointed out that this has not worked out very well, because Russia’s economy has not suffered to the extent that it was hoped and it still has the support of the second and third worlds, which prefer to steer clear of lose-lose geopolitics.

“China is the big issue for the United States, not Russia. Russia is an ally of China and vice versa and therefore a target … It is an attempt by the United States to destroy the Russian economy in large parts and by doing so to “weaken” (that’s the word of the U.S Secretary of Defence), to weaken Russia as an ally of China.”

If this is accurate then it is ominous. What are the elites that control our democracies up to and how dangerous will this get?

The United States has pushed Ukraine into this conflict. Do they even care who wins? They have to a certain extent won the sanctions and public relations war against Russia, that is what matters to them. They are masters of dubious argumentation. Divide and rule is the age old maxim of empires and in this case it has been carried to excess.

Stay neutral and protect your country!

Of course it is much too late to be rueful about what might have been. But insight into the mistakes that have been made by the leadership of Ukraine as well as the leadership of the Western friends, if one may call them that, might lead to an acceptance of the results of those errors and to an idea that is quite shocking for most people, going beyond neutrality and peaceful multi-ethnicity.

The word for it is capitulation. The time has come to utter this word. What is there to negotiate? Ukraine will be partitioned. Bakhmut has fallen or will do so in the next two weeks and it is Zelensky’s Stalingrad. Capitulation would not be problematic for Ukraine. Why? The hatred is only one-sided, Russia has no interest in stoking more hatred in its next door neighbour. In the Mahabharata there is a passage where a leader asks, “is it permitted to wage war against one’s brothers”? The answer given is, “it is permitted, but only if there is sorrow in your heart”.

And why should the Eastern oblasts be returned to Ukraine, when the Russian-speaking population there would consider this to be an invitation to ethnic subordination, reprisals and persecution, seeing as the Minsk Accords have been a pretence and this has been happening all along? This might result in new prolonged civil war.

It is time to accept the partition of Ukraine and the neutrality of the Western part. The losses will be cut and rebuilding enabled. This can only be done against the apparent wishes of the current leadership in Washington. We cannot change the past. It is time to stop nursing hatreds and to look forward. This will surely happen anyway, but when? Surely they do not wish to wage war forever.

Humanity is plagued by a propensity to make mistakes but one can learn from them and correct them. The path ahead follows a zigzag course. To err is human. To compound one’s errors is foolish and even self-destructive. To err and undo one’s errors is wise.

Eduard Rosel lives in Switzerland. After retiring from a technical profession he began to study philosophy. Pictured is a monument in Berne, commemorating the foundation of the Universal Postal Union in 1874.

Dr Michael Vlahos interviews Col. Douglas Macgregor (MUST SEE!)

Dmitri Shostakovich – “Leningradskaia”: The End of the Siege and the Triumph of the Spirit

January 24, 2023


by Nora Hoppe

In Celebration of the End of the Siege of Leningrad… 27th January 1944

Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony was written in 1941, primarily during the Siege of Leningrad by the Nazi forces. When it had its premiere in the war-torn city on 9th August 1942 – performed by the emaciated, surviving musicians of the Leningrad Radio Orchestra that was supplemented with military performers, before a starving but euphoric audience – it was hailed as a universal beacon of resistance to barbarism.

The conductor, Karl Eliasberg, concluded that “in that moment, we triumphed over the soulless Nazi war machine”.

* * *

“On that peaceful summer morning of 22nd June 1941, I was on my way to the Leningrad Stadium to watch my favourite Sunday football game,” Dmitri Dmitrievich Shostakovich wrote, “But Molotov’s radio address found me hurrying down the street… Our fruitful, constructive existence was rudely shattered!” The Nazi invasion of Russia had brought Hitler’s hordes to the gates of Leningrad.

It was on that very date that Adolf Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa (the plan for the invasion of the Soviet Union)… Hitler was allegedly so confident of capturing Leningrad and obliterating its population that he already had invitations printed for the victory celebrations to be held in the city’s Hotel Astoria.

According to the German plan for the Eastern Front, the original task of the German strategic formation known as the Army Group North was to conquer Leningrad by mid-September 1941. However, this proved impossible early on. The mobilisation of the civilian population to create defensive lines in the south of the city – mostly women, as the men were either employed in the factories or had to go to the front – and the stalwart resistance of the Red Army prevented the Germans from taking the city by storm.

In July 1941, Franz Alfred Six, leader of the “Advance Commando Moscow of Einsatzgruppe B”, told German military officials: “Hitler intends to extend the eastern border of the Reich as far as the line Baku-Stalingrad-Moscow-Leningrad … a ‘blazing strip’ will emerge in which all life is to be erased,” he said, adding: “It is intended to decimate about 30 million Russians living in this strip through starvation, by removing all foodstuffs.” Six told the men that Leningrad was to be razed to the ground and that all Germans were “forbidden on pain of death to give a Russian even a piece of bread.”

Under Field Marshal Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb, the “Army Group North” advanced on Leningrad from the south while Finnish military forces were stationed in the north (their participation in the blockade mainly consisted of a recapture of lands lost in the Winter War). The goal was to encircle Leningrad, thus cutting off all communication with the city and preventing the defenders from receiving any supplies. The Germans starvation policy was the primary weapon to be used against the citizens; German scientists had already calculated the city would reach starvation after only a few weeks.

* * *

On Friday, 27th June 1941, the Council of Deputies of the Leningrad administration organised the “first response groups” of civilians. In the next days, Leningrad’s civilian population was informed of the Nazi menace, and over a million citizens were mobilised for the construction of fortifications.

The 34-year-old Shostakovich, who, at the time, was head of the piano department at the Leningrad Conservatory, submitted three applications asking to be sent to the Red Army, and then to the People’s Militia, but he was refused by both on medical grounds – due to his poor eyesight. The composer was instead advised to “beat the enemy with the weapon he possessed”.

But Shostakovich insisted on participating in the anti-aircraft defence and volunteered with the Home Guard in Leningrad. Together with other comrades, he dug trenches and kept watch during the night air raids, while arranging light music to be played at the front. The following month he was reassigned to the fire-fighting brigade at the Leningrad Conservatory, where he was photographed in his fireman’s uniform, standing on the conservatory rooftop.

On 15th July 1941, impelled and galvanised by the ominous atmosphere of war and the great trepidation he felt for his motherland and his beloved city, Shostakovich began to work feverishly on the first movement of a composition that was to become his seventh symphony.

The first movement of the symphony was written during a relentless bombardment of the city. Shostakovich recalled: “Neither the savage raids, nor the German planes, nor the sinister atmosphere of the besieged city could hinder the flow. I worked with an inhuman intensity that I had never achieved before.”

On 2nd September, the day that the Germans intensified their bombardment of the city, Shostakovich began work on the second movement. Working at high intensity in between dashes to the nearest bomb shelter, he completed it within two weeks.

On 8th September, Leningrad was locked in the fateful Siege.

On 16th September, the composer made a special radio broadcast (an excerpt of this broadcast) to encourage the soldiers at the front, saying: “An hour ago I completed the second part of my new work. If I manage to complete the third and fourth parts of this composition, and if it turns out well, I shall be able to call it the Seventh Symphony…. Despite the war-time conditions, despite the danger which is threatening Leningrad, I have written the first two parts in a comparatively short time. Why am I telling you this? I am telling you this so that listeners tuned in now should know that life in our city is normal. Despite the threat of invasion, things are going on as usual in our city. All of us are soldiers today, and those who work in the field of culture and the arts are doing their duty on a par with all the other citizens of Leningrad… Soviet musicians, my dear, numerous comrades-in-arms, my friends! Remember that grave danger faces our art. Let us defend our music, let us work honestly and selflessly… Comrades, I shall soon be completing my Seventh Symphony. My mind is clear and the drive to create urges me on to conclude my composition. And then I shall come on the air again, with my new work and shall nervously await your stern, friendly judgment. I assure you in the name of all Leningraders, in the name of all those working in the field of culture and the arts, that we are invincible and that we are ever at our posts… I assure you that we are invincible.”

That same evening Shostakovich had invited several musicians to his apartment to hear what he had written so far. After he finished the first movement, there was a long silence. An air-raid warning sounded. No one moved. Everyone wanted to hear the piece once more. But the composer briefly excused himself to take his wife Nina and their children Galina and Maxim to the nearest air-raid shelter. When he returned to his guests, he repeated the first movement to the blasts of Luftwaffe bombs and anti-aircraft fire and then proceeded to play the next movement. Their deeply emotional reactions encouraged him to start that night on the Adagio – the third part. He completed this movement on 29th September.

After a month of harrowing conditions in Leningrad, Shostakovich was ordered to evacuate the city. He initially resisted this, but Stalin was determined to protect the most renowned assets of Soviet culture. The composer finally agreed to be evacuated with his family to Moscow and took the first three movements of the symphony along with him. In an article written on 8th October, Shostakovich wrote that his new composition was to be a “symphony about our age, our people, our sacred war, and our victory”.

With Moscow itself under threat, Russian artists as well as industries were transplanted eastward. Two weeks after their arrival in the capital, Shostakovich and his family boarded a train, along with composers Aram Khachaturian and Dmitri Kabalevsky and members of the Bolshoi Theatre. Their destination was the temporary capital Kuybyshev (today known as Samara on the Volga), over 600 miles east of Moscow. There the family settled into a three-room suite with a grand piano.

Distraught by the devastation he had witnessed in Leningrad and the perils now facing Moscow, Shostakovich felt paralysed and was unable to focus creatively for several weeks. But in early December, when the Red Army succeeded in repelling the Germans before they could reach Moscow, he experienced a renewed burst of energy… and in a matter of two weeks he brought the composition to a triumphant conclusion – on 27th December 1941.

An inscription was written on the title page of the music score, “Dedicated to the City of Leningrad. Dmitry Dmitrievich Shostakovich” and on the final page, “27.XII.1941. Kuybyshev”.

Conceived on the banks of the Neva and completed on the banks of the Volga, this musical opus became the most legendary musical composition of the entire World War II period… not to mention a social and political achievement on a global scale.

* * *

The conditions in Leningrad during the 872 days of the Siege were horrific. Thousands of soldiers died gruesome deaths trying to defend the city, while its inhabitants succumbed to various diseases or famine. The city had become a living hell, with dead bodies littering the streets, since few people could spare the energy to give them a proper burial. In February, special teams removed over 1,000 corpses a day from the streets. Eyewitness reports told of people who had died of cold and starvation lying in doorways in stairwells. “They lay there because people dropped them there, the way new-born infants used to be left. Janitors swept them away in the morning like rubbish. Funerals, graves, coffins were long forgotten. It was a flood of death that could not be managed. Entire families vanished, entire apartments with their collective families. Houses, streets and neighbourhoods vanished.”

On the battlefields, winter temperatures made it impossible to dig pits in the frozen ground, and congealed cadavers were used instead of logs to reinforce trench walls and shelter roofs.

According to official statistics presented at the Nuremberg Trials, as reported by RT, the incessant bombing and shelling of the city killed a total of 17,000 people, while the bitter cold and the famine – as planned by the Germans through the disruption of utilities, water, energy and food supplies – took the lives of another 632,000. Meanwhile, 332,000 soldiers perished. Moreover, many of those who had been evacuated (1,400,000 more – mainly women and children) died during evacuation due to starvation and bombardment.

Historian Michael Walzer summarised that, “More civilians died in the Siege of Leningrad than in the modernist infernos of Hamburg, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki taken together”. The Siege of Leningrad ranks as the most lethal siege in world history, and some historians speak of the Siege operations in terms of genocide, as a “racially motivated starvation policy” that became an integral part of the unprecedented German war of extermination against populations of the Soviet Union generally.

An article entitled “How Saint Petersburg survived the bloodiest blockade in human history” reported that in October of 2022, the Saint Petersburg City Court finally recognised the Siege as genocide. President Vladimir Putin remarked in November 2022: “Just recently, the blockade of Leningrad was also recognized as an act of genocide. It was high time to do it. By organising the blockade, the Nazis purposefully sought to destroy the Leningraders – everyone from children to the elderly. This is also confirmed, as I have already said, by their own documents.”

The article goes on to describe how President Putin, who was born ten years after the end of the Leningrad Siege, was himself directly affected by the tragedy: “At the beginning of the blockade, the one-and-a-half-year-old son of Vladimir Putin’s mother, Maria Ivanovna, was taken away for evacuation, but he never made it out of the city. According to the official account, the child, Viktor, died of an illness. The only notification his mother received about this was a death certificate. As the Russian leader himself said, she only managed to survive due to the fact that her husband, Putin’s father, had been wounded at the front and received augmented rations, which he passed on to his wife during her daily visits to the hospital. This continued until he fainted from hunger, and the doctors, who understood what was happening, forbade further visits. After leaving the hospital on crutches with a shattered leg, he nursed his wife, who had stopped walking from weakness. Vladimir Spiridonovich had fought on the Neva Bridgehead.” It was on the Neva Bridgehead that he “had had his heel and ankle shattered by a grenade, had to swim across the river and was only able to make it to the right bank with the help of a comrade-in-arms.”

* * *

Few important compositions have been performed under such ruthless circumstances as Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7. At the height of the horrors of the Siege conductor Karl Eliasberg, received orders to begin rehearsals of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony with the Leningrad Radio Orchestra. The city had been under siege for so long that, of the original 40 members of the Leningrad Radio Orchestra, only 15 remained in the city, the rest were dead or fighting on the frontlines. An order had to be issued to soldiers at the battlefront, calling for anyone with musical ability to join the orchestra. In this way, the formation of the symphony united and inspired the people of Leningrad and demonstrated that the people of Leningrad would never give in to their enemies.

With winter temperatures below minus 30 degrees Celsius and no electricity or heating during the second winter of the Siege, the orchestra’s pianist Alexander Kamensky kept his hands warm by placing two piping hot bricks on both sides of the piano to radiate some heat. The conductor Karl Eliasberg was so weak he had to be driven to rehearsals on a sledge.

Oboist Ksenia Mattus, a survivor, had had to bring her instrument to a craftsman for repair as parts of it had decomposed after the first winter of the Siege. For payment the craftsman had asked her if she could find him a “pussycat” – for his next meal.

Flautist Galina Lelukhina, another survivor, remembers: “On hearing the radio announcement I took my flute under the arm and went. I entered and saw Karl Ilyich Eliasberg, looking dystrophic. He told me: ‘Do not go to the factory anymore. Now you will work in the orchestra’. We were few at first. Some people were brought in the sledge, others walked with a stick.”

The first rehearsal, on 30th March 1942, lasted twenty minutes as everyone was too feeble and exhausted to continue. Ksenia Mattus the oboist compared the conductor’s hand to “a wounded bird falling out of the sky“.

Members of the orchestra not only had to struggle for food each day, they also had to deal with the agonising deaths of loved ones.

As most of the surviving musicians were suffering from starvation, rehearsing was arduous: many collapsed frequently during rehearsals, and three even died in that period. Ultimately, the orchestra was able to rehearse the symphony all the way through only once before the concert.

Finally the big day arrived, and the half-starved musicians and their stalwart conductor Eliasberg gathered in Leningrad’s Grand Philharmonia Hall on 9th August 1942 for the grand premiere.

The performance of Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony was symbolic in many ways. Hitler had planned a banquet in the Astoria Hotel on the 9th August 1942, the very day of the Leningrad premiere. But not only hadn’t the Germans been able to enter the city, no German air raids interrupted the performance and not a single bomb fell on the Grand Philharmonia Hall on that night although the building was illuminated.

“There were no curtains, and the light from inside the hall was pouring out of the windows into the night,” Trombonist Viktor Orlovsky recalled. “People in the audience were screwing up their eyes as they were no longer used to electric lights. Everyone was dressed in their finest clothes and some even had their hair done. The atmosphere was so festive and optimistic it felt like a victory.”

The performance was broadcast from loudspeakers around the perimeter of the city – both to hearten the Russian people and to convey to the Germans that surrender was out of the question.

For the concert empty chairs were placed in the orchestra to represent those musicians who had died before the performance could be given.

“The halls were always packed – at every performance, which I thought was extraordinary,” Trombonist Viktor Orlovsky went on to recall. “During the hardest period of the Siege, when people’s daily ration dropped to 125 grams of bread, some would exchange their daily meal for a ticket to our concert.” Many Leningraders who didn’t have a radio at home would gather on the streets to listen to orchestral music coming from the loudspeakers. It was an affirmation, an opportunity to rise above one’s physical weakness, fear and starvation.

The 9th of August, 1942, was “a day of the victory at the time of war,” as was described by celebrated Leningrad poet Olga Berggolts, one of the blockade survivors.

Olga Prut, director of “The Muses Weren’t Silent”, a St. Petersburg museum exhibition focusing on the arts during the Siege, said the phenomenon of that colossal dedication to the arts during the blockade was much more than a simple distraction from fears, hunger and solitude. “No one listens to music with such depth as those close to death… Music performs a miraculous transformation on a concentration camp prisoner or the hopelessly ill, turning the slave into a free man. It is an emotional rebirth.”

Many years after the end of the war the conductor Eliasberg was approached by a group of German tourists, who had been on the other side of the barricades and who had listened to his orchestra performing Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony. They had come specifically to tell the conductor that back then on 9th August 1942 they realised they would never take Leningrad. Because, they said, there was a factor more important than starvation, fear and death. It was the will to stay human.

Tatiana Vasilyeva, a survivor of the Siege and a spectator of that legendary performance, was to later reminisce: “When I entered the hall, tears filled my eyes, because there were so many people, all in a state of elation. We listened with such emotion, because we had all lived for this moment – to come to the Philharmonia Hall, to hear this symphony. This was a living symphony – it’s the one we lived. This was our symphony. The Leningradskaia…”

* * *

This passionate work denounces the crimes of war and celebrates the just fight against evil and the people who persevere in the face of adversity. Commenting on the final movement of his symphony, “Victory”, Dmitri Dmitrievich Shostakovich said: “My idea of victory is not something brutal; it is best explained as the victory of light over darkness, of humanity over barbarism, of reason over reaction.”

This struggle continues till this day.

* * * * *

“Shostakovich 7th Symphony”

This short video features: excerpts of Valery Gergiev conducting Shostakovich’s 6th and 7th symphonies; footage of the Siege /Blockade; Dmitry Shostakovich speaking briefly and playing part of the first movement of the Seventh Symphony (in 1941); statements of Shostakovich’s colleagues and survivors of the Siege.

Шостакович. Симфония № 7 “Ленинградская”

(Shostakovich – Simfonia n. 7 “Leningradskaia”)

* * * * *

Some references: – “Siege memories” by Galina Stolyarova – staff Writer Alexander Belenky / The St. Petersburg Times

The Next Stage in Western Escalation

January 27, 2023


by Batiushka

Introduction: The Story So Far

So far the US has carried out regime changes and created military conflicts in countries friendly to or important to Russia: Iraq, Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq (again), Georgia, Syria, Libya. All this was to make Russia lose important interests or deploy its own forces. It has also staged PR events such as Litvinenko, Pussy Riot, MH17, Skripals, Navalny, Bucha, the destruction of Nordstream – in order to try and blame Russia and make it into a pariah state.

In particular, in 2014 in the Ukraine it carried out a $5 billion coup with the murder of and terror against Russian-speakers. It then installed a puppet government, promoted Nazism through racist indoctrination, besmirched the historic legacy through rewriting history and toppling memorials, terrorised and banned all opposition, set up US military biolabs, supplied and trained an army, made military threats against Russia, threatened the Crimea, and promised that the Ukraine could soon join the US-puppet NATO and install nuclear weapons.

A Message from Boris: Deaths and Sackings

When Boris Johnson turned up in Kiev a few days ago, you knew events would follow. He is after all the office boy for Biden. So last week came the resignation of Zelensky’s spinmaster, Alexey Arestovich, for telling the truth about the Ukrainian military – that it had killed civilians by destroying an apartment block in Dnepro in a military accident and could not win the war. The next day the interior minister Monastyrsky, a longtime aide of Zelensky, and his first deputy died in a helicopter crash in Kiev a week ago (‘caused by flying low in fog’). Strange, since the neo-Nazi militias operate through his ministry.

Then there was the murder of Denis Kireev, who was an important participant in the March peace talks with Russia. It is rumoured that he was too keen on peace – which the US and the UK are totally opposed to. He had to go, so the CIA/SBU (same thing) did the job. Next came a major purge on 24 January following corruption claims, involved a deputy prosecutor general, the deputy head of the president’s office, the deputy defence minister and five regional governors.

Interestingly, Poroshenko, last seen in a luxury hotel in London, living off his now very active cremation business in the Ukraine, promised peace with Russia in one week. Once in power he did not bring peace and lost the next election. He was replaced by Zelensky, who also promised a peace settlement with Russia in the Donbass, but instead prepared war and even sought nuclear weapons. The Ukrainian people are promised peace, but are not given it. Zelensky’s support base is small and there is a majority that wants peace. Is Zelensky the next to be purged?

Escalation: Germany Declares War on Russia Again

Germany is going to send Leopard tanks to the Kiev regime. For the third time since 1914 Germany is now, on paper at least, at war with Russia. The Russians have a choice: they can intervene in the Ukraine from the north-west (Belarus) and the south-west (the sea) and cut off the whole of the Ukraine from all its arms supplies, including several dozen German, American, British and other tanks – and it will take months for the promised tanks to arrive across the Polish border. Or else Russia can bomb anything that comes across the Polish border. It has already warned that anything coming across that border into the Ukraine will be destroyed. Thus, in any case, a barrier will be created. Western Europe must be cut off, for it has become the source of the evil, providing weapons to Neo-Nazis.

Otherwise, the Poles and their reservists too may intervene (in their Leopard tanks? Remember Tiger tanks?) to take over the west of the Ukraine. Is Russia really going to allow the division of the Ukraine into the Russian East and the Polish-led Western West, in other words, its Koreanisation or Vietnamisation? (And we know how those divisions ended). Otherwise, the Anti-Russia of the Ukraine will remain forever. Western Europe must be cut off. What began as a small operation to liberate the two Russian provinces of the Donbass, is now, as a result of Western (= US-led) escalation, an operation to liberate the whole of the Ukraine. Only total Russian victory can work. Only establishing a Russian-led Kiev Protectorate, like the situation in Belarus, can work. All those who disagree with that and have not yet fled for the West had better leave now.

Interestingly, we know that the Russian Black Sea Fleet with its landing craft left port last week. On 25 January Dmitry Medvedev wrote publicly that the Ukraine would have no need of submarines, as it would soon become landlocked. The day before, the President of Belarus, Lukashenko, rejected the offer of a Non-Aggression Pact from the Ukraine (= the US on behalf of Poland). Meanwhile, the somewhat senile Biden has blurted out that the US will support the Ukraine ‘for as long as it exists’. This is not what he used to say. Then it was ‘support to victory’. The only problem here is that the US never admits failure, it never admits that it backed the wrong horse at huge expense to the US taxpayer. How will it get out of this one?

The War

In the Ukraine the NATO war has killed and maimed hundreds of thousands in just the last eleven months is continuing with hundreds more victims today, the same as yesterday, and the same as tomorrow. The doomsaying pessimists with their conspiracy theories of nuclear Armageddon foretell that this war will continue for years, ‘perhaps even a decade’. Others, the optimists, are thinking that the Kiev regime may collapse within weeks, or in three or four months at most, or there will be a coup in Kiev with Kiev forces either surrendering en masse or else turning around and marching on their murderous US puppet-commanders in Kiev. It does sound like wishful thinking. With yet more NATO weaponry and tanks to be destroyed, I think it will all take longer. Not years, as those happy souls, the doomsaying pessimists with their conspiracy theories of nuclear Armageddon foretell, but another 15 months. But I really hope that I am wrong and that the wishful thinkers are right and that it will all be over very soon.

As the Saker in his penetrating analysis has pointed out, if the US cannot prevent a Ukronazi/NATO defeat, it can at least make the war as costly as possible for Russia. Find another attacker. Poland will do. Promise them the five provinces in the far west of the Ukraine, Volyn, Rivne, Lviv, Ternopil and Ivano-Frankivsk, and the Poles will do anything you tell them to. After all, there are Poles, and most of them seem to be part of its current incredibly stupid government, who still have a messianic complex, who still dream of glory, of ‘saving Europe from the barbarian Russian hordes’, of a ‘Poland stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea’, and of becoming the most powerful country in Europe, dwarfing those nasty Germans ‘who are going to give us back trillions’. Well, there have always been fantasists. Hitler was one of them. And the American Empire has always known how to manipulate them for its own ends, whether in Argentina, Iran, Iraq, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Venezuela, the Baltics, the Ukraine or Poland.

The fact is that the American Empire knows that it cannot defeat Russia in a straightforward war, so it has always used proxies. In 2008, it took the absurd step of using Georgia. This was far too small, far too weak and irrationally nationalistic. As a Georgian told me quite seriously just a few years ago: ‘God only speaks Georgian and does not understand any other language’. I was surprised to learn that God has such limited linguistic abilities, however, there are plenty of Ukrainians who believe much the same today, not to mention Poles.

And both the Ukraine and Poland are a lot bigger than Georgia. Hence the American choice. Once they are both defeated, the US will be turning to Germany – as they almost did in Churchill’s Operation Unthinkable plan to attack the Red Army on 1 July 1945, using British, American, Polish and German forces to destroy Russia (1). Or why not use Sweden, Turkey, Japan? Why not China? Why not just overthrow Putin with the ‘masses’ of Russians who do not like him? Such today are also the fantasies of ‘the crazies in the basement’ at the Pentagon. No wonder they get on with the Polish government. And don’t forget the biggest crazy in the US basement was Polish: Zbigniew Brzezinski.

For Russians, 2022 was simply a repeat of 1812 and 1941. The Third Great Patriotic War. The West doing its barbaric thing, as usual. The fact is that, though some historians deny it, history does repeat itself, simply because human pride, arrogance and hubris repeat themselves. German tanks with their black crosses trying to destroy Russia on the Ukrainian steppes? We Russians shrug our shoulders. We have seen it all before. The Anti-Russia of the Ukraine will simply never happen. Zelensky is on drugs and so is the Ukraine, addicted to Western transfusions of blood, money, mercenaries and arms.

Afterword: Another Future

Famously, or rather infamously, the British Establishment figure who was the first NATO Secretary General boasted that the aim of NATO was ‘to keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down’ (2). As for us, we wish to see a renewal of Kennedy’s ‘Alliance for Progress’, a World Alliance of Sovereign Nations, a global version of the Gaullist spirit (though not the precise words) of ‘l’Europe des Patries’ (Europe of the Nations’). We wish to see a for now geriatric Europe reattached to its historic destiny with Russia and so with Eurasia, where it is all happening. Therefore, our aim is: ‘To keep Russia in, the Americans out and the Germans up’.

Some write that Russia can only win the war in the Ukraine as long as it can help the US to save face after its defeat and then the collapse of NATO and the EU. Remember Saigon? Remember Bush and his ‘Mission Accomplished’? (The world laughed at his farce, but plenty in the US were convinced by it). Remember Kabul? The US just left them and pretended to be in denial about them. Like the British at Dunkirk in 1940, who left their French allies in the lurch, they just ran away back to their island, declaring victory, though leaving lots of their equipment behind them. The Americans can also run away, saying: ‘Forget it. They are not worthy of us’.

Self-isolation would be such a good thing. Go back to the big island of Northern America. If you want, build Trump’s long-promised wall across the south to keep those nasty Latinos out. Lick your wounds and at last start trying to deal with the massive internal problems that you already have: great poverty, racial division, mass shootings, debt, social injustices, lack of healthcare, unemployment, exploitation, an education system that deliberately makes people stupid, drugs, crime and so mass imprisonment. Leave the Europeans to sort themselves out. No more Americans are going to die for or pay for those lazy Europeans. Just don’t tell the American people that this would make those same lazy Europeans only too happy. The only problem is that the US never admits failure, it never admits that it backed the wrong horse at huge expense to the US taxpayer. How will it get out of this one?

27 January 2023




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