Iran: Arabs-Syria rapprochement positive step toward Islamic solidarity

Tuesday, 28 February 2023 8:07 AM  [ Last Update: Tuesday, 28 February 2023 8:34 AM ]

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, (3rd R) meets with a delegation representing various Arab parliaments in Damascus on February 26, 2023. (File photo by SANA)

Tehran says a recent visit by Arab parliament speakers and senior legislators to Syria is a positive step toward Islamic solidarity, emphasizing that dialogue and regional approaches can solve the woes in the region.

“The recent progress in relations between Arab countries and Syria, including the visit by Arab parliamentary delegations to Damascus to express solidarity with Syria following the recent devastating earthquake, in addition to being a realistic approach, is a positive step toward Islamic solidarity,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan’ani tweeted on Tuesday.

He added that regional countries will be able to resolve their problems through “dialogue and regional mechanisms” if they act realistically, adopt an independent national stance, and pay no heed to the demands of the hegemonic powers.

The high-profile Arab lawmakers arrived in Damascus on Sunday amid attempts by certain countries, above all Iraq, to restore Syria’s membership in the Arab League, more than a decade after it was suspended from the 22-member bloc.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry also arrived in Damascus on Monday in the first such visit by a top Egyptian diplomat since the foreign-sponsored militancy erupted in Syria more than a decade ago.

In a meeting with President Assad, the top Egyptian diplomat reaffirmed his country’s solidarity with Syria and its preparedness to continue supporting Syrians in the aftermath of the devastating February earthquake.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has met with a delegation from the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union, which aims to restore Syria’s membership in the Arab League after more than a decade of suspension from the 22-member bloc.

In a meeting with the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union later on Sunday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said, “The delegation’s visit to Syria today means a lot to the Syrian people as it indicates the support to the Syrians … who are exposed as a result of the terrorist war and the repercussions of the earthquake.”

According to the latest figures, more than 50,000 were killed by the disastrous earthquake that hit Turkey and neighboring earlier this month.

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NATO planned to supply Ukraine with antidotes for Sarin, Soman: Moscow

Feb 28, 2023

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

A senior Russian official reveals that the US plans to organize a provocation in Ukraine with the use of toxic agents while blaming Russia.

Lt. Gen. Igor Kirillov, the head of the radiation, chemical, and biological defense troops of the Russian armed forces (Russian MoD)

    A structure within NATO has planned to supply Ukraine with a large batch of protective equipment, with antidotes for such nerve agents as sarin and soman being in priority, the head of the radiation, chemical, and biological defense troops of the Russian armed forces revealed on Tuesday.

    “The Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre has planned to supply Ukraine with a large batch of personal protective equipment … Priority is given to antidotes for organophosphorus poisonous substances such as sarin and soman,” Lt. Gen. Igor Kirillov told reporters.

    West claims Russia can use mass destruction arms

    Kirillov pointed out that the West regularly declares the possibility of Russia using weapons of mass destruction, but such projects have already been implemented more than once by the United States itself.

    “We have repeatedly noted that the leadership of Western countries regularly makes provocative statements about the possibility of Russia using weapons of mass destruction,” he said, noting that such projects have already been implemented more than once by the United States itself to reach political goals.

    The Russian official recalled one of such cases, when Washington used a test tube containing “washing powder” as a pretext for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, which led to the death of more than half a million citizens.

    Read more: Ukrainian soldiers could be preparing chemical attack: Russian embassy

    US plans to carry out provocation using toxic agents

    In the same context, Kirillov also revealed that the US plans to organize a provocation in Ukraine with the use of toxic agents while blaming Russia.

    According to the Russian official, on February 22, an influential US non-governmental organization held a conference on the events in Ukraine, and former US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan claimed that Russian troops planned to use chemical weapons in the area of the special military operation.

    “We regard this information as the intention of the United States itself and its accomplices to carry out a provocation in Ukraine using toxic chemicals,” Kirillov indicated, pointing out that Washington hopes that during hostilities it will not be possible to properly investigate the planned chemical provocation.

    He warned that in case the provocation does take place, the Russian Defense Ministry will identify and punish the true culprits, underlining that the West mistakenly hopes that the provocation will be successful because the Russian Defense Ministry can identify the country that produced the toxic agent.

    Read more: Kiev preparing armed provocation against Transnistria: Russian MoD

    US still able to synthesize precursors of BZ agent

    Lt. Gen. Kirillov mentioned that the United States is likely to try to use the BZ military incapacitating agent in Ukraine, adding that it retained the ability to synthesize precursors of the agent at the basis of pharmaceutical production facilities in the amount of up to several tens of tonnes per year.

    He told reporters that despite the US announcing the complete destruction of BZ stocks back in 1990, the samples remained.

    Train with chemicals arrived in Kramatorsk

    Elsewhere in his statement, the Russian official revealed that a train carrying a cargo of chemicals arrived in the Ukraine-controlled city of Kramatorsk in Donbass and the cargo was later delivered to the line of contact.

    “The Russian Defense Ministry received information that on February 10, 2023, a train arrived in Ukraine (Kramatorsk), in one of the wagons of which there was a cargo of chemicals, accompanied by a group of foreign citizens,” he said.

    “The wagon was uncoupled and towed to the territory of the Kramatorsk Metallurgical Plant named after Kuibyshev, where chemicals were unloaded under the control of the security service of Ukraine and representatives of the command of the armed forces of Ukraine,” he added during the briefing.

    According to Kirilliov, the cargo consisted of 16 sealed metal boxes, eight of which had a chemical hazard sign — the inscription “BZ” and marking with two red lines — which corresponds to the class of poisonous substances with a temporary detoxifying effect.

    “The cargo was placed on US-made armored vehicles, which, as part of the convoy, left for the line of contact,” Kirillov added.

    The head of the radiation, chemical, and biological defense troops of the Russian armed forces also revealed that on February 19, 11 wagons with shrapnel ammunition with special markings were unloaded in Kramatorsk, indicating that earlier, such ammunition was modernized in the United States for damaging elements with liquid formulations of irritating substances.

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    The Tragedy Caused by the Syrian Earthquake Exposed the West’s Humanitarian Claims

    Feb 27, 2023

    By Ali Hassan

    Damascus – About two weeks after the devastating earthquake that struck both Syria and Turkey and the unprecedented human tragedy it left behind, the scale of Western hypocrisy and the falsity of its repeated claims about human rights and the defense of humanitarian issues for which it set itself up as its advocate, or rather as a judge under the pretext of which it flogs whomever it wants from its enemies under the pretext of defending them, have been revealed successively.

    In the most recent chapter of this strange paradox which amounts to a scandal is what a UN official announced that the rate of response in Syria following the devastating earthquake did not reach the minimum required so far.

    Ghada Mudawi, an official at the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, confirmed that the humanitarian appeal launched by the United Nations to meet the needs of those affected by the earthquake in Syria received only 17% of the total value requested, which amounts to $397 million.

    The UN official stressed the need to provide more resources to support life-saving relief efforts in Syria and Turkey, noting that the most urgent needs of those displaced by the devastating earthquakes are food, shelter, winter supplies and cash, according to the United Nations Information Center.

    With the exception of an Italian aid ship and a Norwegian plane that landed at Damascus airport, the European Union did not provide any aid to Syria despite all the false tears that European officials were shedding allegedly in grief over the Syrian people for their freedom.

    Generous Only in Arms

    Regarding this apparent Western hypocrisy in dealing with humanitarian issues, political analyst Khaled Amer told Al-Ahed news website that the tragedy of the earthquake completely exposed the Western allegations and revealed their falsity.

    Amer asked: “Where did the overwhelming human emotion of the European officials for the Syrian people go and they were the ones following the Syrian crisis in all its details and made the UN Security Council convene in a semi-permanent condition to discuss the Syrian issue?”

    He continued, “Why do Europeans skimp on the Syrians with a small part of the basic necessities of life, when they spent tens of millions pumping arms and mobilizing the media to stir up confusion and sedition among the Syrians and push them to kill each other?”

    He stressed that Syria, despite all the difficulties it faces and the tragedies that befell it, does not need those who trade in the tragedies of peoples, especially since it has allies who stand by it in all crises and share with it what they possess in order to heal its wounds. He added that both their bloods mixed in the war on top of which are the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Lebanese Resistance, Iraq and its Popular Mobilization Units.

    Accordingly, Amer believes that with all these allied and sincere forces, there is no fear for Syria, stressing that it is able to overcome all these pains and rise again to regain its health again.

    The US scapegoat: Europe dragged into yet another conflict

    27 Feb, 2023

    Source: Al Mayadeen

    By Mohammad Al-Jaber 

    The United States, like the great ally that it is, has dragged Europe into another conflict, this time right at home, and bleeding it dry economically and politically under the pretext of fighting Russia.

    The US scapegoat: Europe dragged into yet another conflict

      It is a tale as old as time; ever since their declared allyship in the wake of World War II and the global status quo amid the Cold War, the United States and Europe – at least Western Europe – have been as close as allies can be. However, the United States is quite the abusive partner, forcing Europe to bear the brunt of any conflict it gets into as it emerges unscathed from its far-away lands across the Atlantic Ocean, and the Ukraine war serves as another prime example of how the US treats its allies.

      Months before the Ukraine war, the United States and its European allies began bolstering their eastern flank through NATO member states. Little did Europe know what it was diving headfirst into: years of brewing tensions between Russia and the United States over Ukraine and its treatment of the people of the Donbass, as well as its usage as a political tool in the face of Moscow, exploded, and Europe was covered in ash while Washington was watching everything unfold from the comfort of its distant lands.

      The situation hit the fan; Russia was now knee-deep in Ukraine and the United States started using everything in its power, including Europe, to curb Moscow and bolster Kiev’s standing. Washington had many tools at hand, most notably sanctions on Russia and arms shipments to Ukraine, both of which would be quite costly for Europe, especially due to how inconvenient the time was, given that the world was just now going back into full throttle after the pandemic brought the entire global economy into a grinding halt. 

      The West, somehow underestimating the repercussions of an economy as tremendous as Russia’s being thrown out of the global market, sanctioned the country in a bid to “punish” it for going against their expansionist aspirations, and the sanctions in question were not your run-of-the-mill sanctions because we are not talking about your run-of-the-mill economy here. The sanctions at hand affected everything from natural gas to gold – key pillars in any economy aspiring not to crash – which had massive reverberations throughout the West, all the way from Germany to the United States. 

      Gas prices reached all-time highs, and the global economy was bracing for disaster as inflation was affecting some of its biggest players. Economic powerhouses such as Germany, France, and the United States were being driven up walls due to the economic woes they were experiencing, all of which they were attributing to Russia itself rather than admitting to having committed numerous mistakes when it came to the measures they took against Russia.

      US economy holding up better

      A swift study of inflation rates and energy prices would be more than sufficient to exhibit the suffering inflicted on the West in the wake of war:

      According to Eurostat, the European Union’s official statistical office, inflation in the EU in November 2022 was 11.1%, a stark year-on-year increase from November 2021’s 5.2% inflation rate. The Eurozone, meanwhile, was also suffering, just a little less. In November 2022, the inflation rate in the Eurozone was 10.1%, a less significant year-on-year increase from November 2021’s 4.9%. 

      Energy prices, on the other hand, are something else entirely. What had been 82.81 euros per megawatt-hour in terms of monthly electricity wholesale prices months before the war in August 2021 in Germany rose to a whopping 469.35 euros per megawatt-hour, an increase of 466.7%, a year later in August of 2022, six months after the start of the Ukraine war and about three months after the West to decided to try and take Russia entirely out of the global energy market.

      Other countries were not better off. In fact, some were dealt even worse hands, as energy prices in Italy soared 382.4% to 543 euros per megawatt-hour, in Hungary, they rose 354.4% to 495.65 euros per megawatt-hour, and in Switzerland, they rose 490.5% to 488.14 euros per megawatt-hour. France was by far the worst off, with a striking increase of 536.9% to 492.99 euros per megawatt-hour.

      At the same time, energy prices in the US averaged $167 per megawatt-hour in August 2022, a very mild year-on-year increase from August 2021’s $144 per megawatt-hour, showing that the energy crises barely affected the United States as it was not at all reliant on Russian gas.

      Historic lows

      Of course, the governments of the EU states had to heavily subsidize electricity as their citizens would not be able to pay off their bills if they were as high as they were driven up due to the sanctions on Russia, which led the governments in question to print more money in order to cover all the new, extra costs they had, plunging the Eurozone into record-high inflation, the likes of which had not been seen in decades. 

      The euro had not gone down below a dollar per since the early 2000s when it hit the low of $0.98 in January 2000, a year-on-year depreciation of 15% against the USD. The euro went through more woes, dropping to as low as $0.83 before bouncing back above the threshold three years later. What must be understood is that the decline of the euro in 2000 was the consequence of a free market reigning in the West, with many investors selling the euros they were holding in anticipation of an appreciation in the Eurozone’s currency after it had been tied with the greenback for some time at that point, with impatience prevailing, which led the euro to lose value. Securities had dominated in the euro, but as it had been at near-parity with the USD, investors felt forced to sell as the US government was making various moves that made the US economy more attractive for investors, such as the US Treasury’s 30-year bond posting strong gains and the US government reporting that orders for durable goods sharply increased before the new years, prompting experts to speculate incoming interest rate hikes. 

      Many things just happened to go right for the USD at the same time, making the greenback tremendous gains and putting it above the euro until the dollar fell in 2003 and made for one of the causes of the 2000s energy crisis. All in all, the euro was holding strong against the USD for nearly two decades before it made a sharp drop throughout 2022 that culminated in the Eurozone’s currency briefly dipping below parity against the USD in August amid fears of a worse energy crisis. 

      The euro was doing tremendously for decades, but European countries being forced to subsidies energy for their citizens and businesses so as not to leave their economies in shambles led the USD to rise above the euro due to the inflation the money-printing machines caused. The euro reached a low of $0.97 in September 2022 after having been at $1.17 a year earlier. It managed to slightly recover since, selling at $1.10 in early February, nearing pre-war levels, but the latest data shows that the euro is now on a downturn even against a struggling USD that is being bolstered by austerity measures from the Federal Reserve.

      Struggling across the Atlantic, still doing better

      In light of all the suffering in Europe, the United States was doing quite badly for itself. With energy prices reaching all-time highs and inflation soaring uncontrollably, Washington was between a rock and a hard place.

      However, it wanted to ensure that Europe was just in a bad a position and wanted to ensure its own prosperity at the expense of the Europeans’, selling them energy with stark hikes that were unbearable, which largely affected the euro and gave further impetus to the USD. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Mair even went as far as taking shots at Washington, saying it should not be allowed to dominate the global energy market as the EU suffers the consequences of the conflict in Ukraine, stressing that it was unacceptable to let the US export LNG at prices four times higher than those paid by companies in the country.

      According to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) measurement, inflation in the United States increased by 7.7% in a year until October of 2022, rising at its slowest rate in nine months after topping a forty-year high of 9.1% in a year until June of 2022. The inflation rates, though better than the EU’s, were mitigated by the Federal Reserve raising interest rates consecutive times, increasing the rate by 4.25% between March and December of last year.

      Meanwhile, as the US economy showed growth in Q4 of 2022, increasing by 2.9%, the Eurozone was left in the dust with a mere 0.1% in growth after experts were expecting a recession for one of the most significant economic players in the international arena. At the same time, the European Union’s economy was stagnant, remaining stable in Q4 of 2022.

      Despite the lack of a recession in the Eurozone as a whole, the German economy contracted by 0.2% in the last quarter of 2022, prompting experts to believe that the economic powerhouse was heading into a recession. 

      Italy, the EU’s third-largest economy, also experienced negative growth, as its GDP contracted by 0.1% in Q4 of 2022. Both Germany and Italy were among the hardest hit due to their heavy reliance on Russian gas, the stream of which was cut off from Europe in light of the Ukraine war.

      The latest signs are showing that the Eurozone is heading for a recession in Q1 or Q2 of 2023, with experts saying that the European Central Bank’s policy of economic tightening through various austerity measures will cause the region’s economy to struggle as households themselves struggle with the cost of living crisis and sluggish demand.

      Buddy-buddy with the wrong guy

      One key aspect of the crisis that the EU and the Eurozone have been hit by is that they were caused by a conflict that spurred out between Russia and the United States that Washington sought to turn into a proxy war by using its allies in Europe against Moscow rather than embroiling itself in any direct conflict.

      The European Union is no stranger to getting dragged into conflict by the United States, but the extent to which Washington is alienated from the ongoing war is quite stark in comparison to previous wars.

      As discussed previously in “Analysis of Euro-paralysis: Uncle Sam’s last Afghan stand” while shedding light on the United States dragging Europe into the Afghanistan war, when Washington dragged NATO into a multi-generational war in Afghanistan, the organization’s first commitment outside European territories, the United States is not the best ally one could have by their side.

      In the end, the European hand was forced into Afghanistan, and the burden was basically split in half, with Europe reaping fewer benefits, the US was in control of a geopolitically significant country, and it was intimidating its regional foes, namely Russia, China, and Iran.

      Europe has been the chief bearer of consequences whenever there was a US-related flop anywhere in the Eastern hemisphere, such as the Syrian refugee crisis that took place in the wake of the war on Syria. Alongside many other crises, this is a fine testament to Washington’s strategy toward Europe.

      All that Europe gained from Afghanistan was more refugees, more dead soldiers, and wasted taxpayer money. The UK and Germany, the second-largest troop contributors, spent an estimated $30 billion and $19 billion, respectively, throughout 20 years of war in Afghanistan.

      The situation today is not too different from how it was back during and after the Afghan war, as the United States is now emerging with loads of profits made from the war after having Europe spend hundreds of millions on Ukraine, with the Kiel Institute for the World Economy reporting that: “The United States, for example, spent more than 3 times as much per year compared to their expenses in the Afghanistan war after 2001 (measured as a percent of GDP). Germany committed more than 3 times as much to Allies in the Gulf War of 1990/91 compared to what it has committed to Ukraine (again measured in percent of GDP).”

      According to the institute, “The Americans have earmarked a total of just over 73.1 billion euros for Ukraine support. For the EU, the comparable figure is 54.9 billion euros.”

      The head of the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce said the Ukraine war will have cost the German economy around 160 billion euros ($171 billion), or some 4% of its gross domestic output, in lost value creation by the end of the year.

      ‘Give’ only to take

      Though the United States gave more aid to Ukraine, around $20 billion more, Europe is still doing worse than the US. The US economy is doing far better than expected, especially as key companies, especially energy companies, and firms within the military-industrial complex, are making bank off the suffering of Europeans and Ukrainians alike.

      The share price of Lockheed Martin was up 37% by the end of 2022 as the production of Javelin anti-tank missiles by the company increased from 2,100 to about 4,000 a year. The arms company signed a $7.8 billion contract on the modification of the F-35 aircraft and $431 million to deliver new HIMARS and “support services for the US Army and its foreign allies.”

      Meanwhile, in November last year, the US awarded Raytheon a $1.2 billion contract for the supply of six National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) to Ukraine. Last year, it was reported that Washington was intending to send 6,500 Javelin anti-tank missile systems made by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin to Ukraine. Other contractors, such as Boeing and Northrop Grumman, are among other profiteers from the war.

      The EU is not making similar profits in light of all the losses it is dealing with. Even when it comes to post-war reconstruction efforts. “The Ministry of Economy of Ukraine and BlackRock, the world’s largest investment company, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing on a framework for consultative assistance in developing a special platform to attract private capital for the recovery and support of Ukraine’s economy,” the Ukrainian government announced in November, meaning the US is making profits when it comes to the destruction of Ukraine and is making profits when it comes to its reconstruction. 

      One conclusion can be drawn from the whole debacle surrounding Ukraine: The United States is using the situation to subvert Europe and leave its economy in shambles, prompting many to talk about the de-industrialization of the European Union, with numerous economic sectors, such as glass, chemicals, metals, fertilizer, pulp and paper, ceramics, and cement suffering in light of the ongoing crisis.

      Additionally, with gas prices four times that of the US and six times higher than they were before, several industries are considering the option of relocating abroad for cheaper energy prices, meaning that at the end of the day, many European powerhouses might be left with nothing, or just crumbs, if this situation is upheld.

      Europe is before a grim reality once again because of the United States, with its economy heading toward the ghastly unknown and its industry dealing with the repercussions of terrible policy-making. Europe, once a US ally, might become a vassal for Washington as it grows more dependent on a country that only seeks to exploit it to bolster its standing in the international arena.

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      Jewish Settlers Injure Hundreds of Palestinians, Torch Cars, Homes in West Bank (VIDEO)

      February 27, 2023

      Jewish settlers set Palestinian houses on fire in the village of Huwwara, near Nablus. (Photo: via

      Illegal Jewish settlers killed a Palestinian man, injured hundreds of others and set on fire numerous homes on Sunday evening, in the latest escalation in the occupied West Bank, The New Arab reported.

      According to the Palestinian Health Minister, a 37-year-old Palestinian, Sameh Aqtash, was shot dead in Zaatara village near Nablus during the attack.

      Jewish settlers shot Aqtash in his abdomen near his home in Zaatara Village, as they attacked at least 30 homes in Nablus. Aqtash had just returned from a volunteering trip to help Turkiye quake victims, according to reports.

      More than 350 Palestinians were also injured, most suffering from tear gas inhalation, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said.

      On Sunday, after two illegal Jewish settlers were killed in a car on the main road through the town of Huwwara, Israeli media reported the attack by Jewish settlers as “seeking revenge” near the village.

      Illegal Jewish settlers, some of whom were masked gunmen, assaulted 30 houses and burned 15 cars in Nablus, according to The New Arab.

      In addition, at least 35 houses were completely burned, 40 houses were partially burned and 100 private vehicles were burned and destroyed in the area, according to the Palestinian Red Cross.

      The New Arab reported that Jewish settlers also ran over a journalist covering events in the town of Huwwara.


      From Russia with Love: Su-35s to Iran will strengthen defense ties

      February 27 2023

      Iran’s possible purchase of Russian fighter jets would further solidify the existing strategic partnership between Moscow and Tehran, and impact their global power competition with the west.

      Photo Credit: The Cradle

      ByYasmine Rashid

      The news of a potential deal between Iran and Russia to supply Tehran with 24 Sukhoi Su-35 combat aircraft is significant and not a passing event, as tensions between the two states and western nations continue to escalate.

      If Iran also sends short-range precision-guided ballistic missiles to Russia in conjunction with this agreement, those tensions will further intensify.

      While there has been no official announcement yet about the deal, Iranian officials have expressed interest in acquiring the Su-30 and Su-35 fighter jets, in addition to the fifth generation Russian Su-57.

      On 15 January, a member of the Iranian National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Shahryar Heidari, confirmed that the fighter jets will arrive next March, and that Tehran requested other military equipment from Russia, including air defense systems, missile systems, and helicopters.

      Farzin Nadimi, an analyst specializing in security and defense affairs related to Iran and the Persian Gulf region, tells The Cradle that the deal, “if it takes place, will lead to closer defense relations between Iran and Russia.”

      ‘Confrontation with the west’

      This action coincides with global geopolitical shifts and a deepening of ties between Moscow and Tehran. Today, the Russian-Ukrainian war is the most prominent theater of conflict between two axes: a western one led by the US, and another opposed to western policy that includes China, Russia, Iran, and their respective allies.

      According to Muhammad Saif El-Din, a researcher in Russian-Atlantic relations, this arms deal “comes within the broader confrontation with the west,” and the determination of China, Russia, India, Iran, and other countries to challenge dollar dominance through trade in local currencies:

      “These factors encourage more countries to coordinate to form alliance blocs, especially in South America, the Middle East [West Asia] and Africa. The outcome of the confrontation in Ukraine will determine the shape of the crises that follow, and thus the shape of the new world order.”

      It is highly likely that the Iran-Russia deal will lead to polarizing international reactions as it will be “a great boost to the Iranian Air Force,” says analyst Nadimi. This could potentially spark a “mini arms race” in the region, with the possibility of Washington delivering advanced weapons to Persian Gulf states and accelerating the delivery of F-35 aircraft to the UAE.

      Nadimi believes that Arab countries in the Persian Gulf “will try to downplay the importance of the deal, but they will certainly work to strengthen their air defense relations with Israel and the United States.”

      Russian reluctance?

      Iranian military analyst Amin Berto believes, however, that Russia will not grant Iran fighter jets such as the Su-35, nor the S-400 missile system that “changes the rules of the game in Ukraine.” He points to an understanding between Moscow and Tel Aviv, Riyadh, and Abu Dhabi to contain the sale of qualitative weapons and technology to Iran – which is also a tacit agreement with Washington and NATO. As Berto explains to The Cradle:

      “The Russians know that this step may push Israel to provide Ukraine with Israeli weapons, while Saudi Arabia and the UAE may resort to increasing oil production and reducing its price, which would be a fatal blow to the Russian economy.”

      Although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has considered sending military aid to Ukraine, columnist Stephen Cook at Foreign Policy believes that Tel Aviv is unlikely to arm Kiev, given its desire to maintain a constructive relationship with Moscow and “areas of common interest between the two sides, including Syria and security.”

      Cook views the proposed sale of Russian fighter jets to Iran as a move to encourage Tehran to provide more assistance in the war against Kiev – although it remains unclear whether Iran is willing to participate further in that conflict.

      Growing military cooperation

      On 5 February, 2023, the Wall Street Journal reported that Iran and Russia are planning to build a new factory in Russia that would produce at least 6,000 high-speed drones for use in the conflict in Ukraine. Despite this development, Cook believes that Washington and its western allies will not impose additional sanctions on Russia, saying: “What the west will do in response to the agreement is to intensify pressure on Russia by providing Ukraine with combat aircraft.”

      The head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), William Burns, has previously expressed concerns about a “a full defense partnership between Russia and Iran.” In an interview with US media outlet PBS, Burns said that Washington “bears responsibility for the rapprochement between the two countries after its freezing of the Iranian nuclear agreement and its attempt to isolate Russia.”

      “The Russians are beginning to look at ways in which, technologically or technically, they can support the Iranians, which poses real threats to Iran’s own neighborhood, to many of our friends and partners in Iran’s neighborhood as well,” he said.

      Meanwhile, Iranian observers speculate that Washington will likely send positive signals toward Iranian nuclear talks in order “to destabilize the relationship between Moscow and Tehran.”

      Mutual and conflicting interests

      Iranian-Russian military cooperation has a long history dating back to the Soviet era, and the two nations have previously concluded deals to supply the Islamic Republic with various types of military equipment, including the S-300 air defense missile system, Su-30 combat aircraft, T-90 tanks, and Caliber cruise missiles.

      Despite their cooperation, the relationship between Iran and Russia has been complicated by a number of conflicting interests. For example, Russia has supported some UN sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program, while Iran considers Israel an enemy and supports resistance formations against it. Moreover, Russia enjoys good relations with Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, which consider Tehran to be their main rival in the region.

      However, in recent years, Moscow and Tehran have developed their cooperation over some key regional and international issues, including mutual political, diplomatic, and military support for Damascus in the Syrian war. The western blockade imposed by Washington and its allies against the two countries has also prompted the strengthening of economic cooperation and financial ties between them.

      In terms of finance, Tehran and Moscow have linked their banking systems to circumvent US control and oversight over financial exchanges – in an attempt to mitigate the effects of the western embargo on their transactions after their separation from the global financial network “SWIFT” for bank transfers.

      Additional de-dollarization policies include an agreement to transact in the Iranian rial against the Russian ruble in financial exchanges, and the decision to trade in the two national currencies on the Iranian currency exchange.

      In 2021, trade volume between the Iran and Russia exceeded $4 billion. That same year, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi announced that his country’s trade with Russia would increase by 80 percent. Russia and Iran have also discussed cooperation on infrastructure projects, including railways, energy, and communications systems. In the field of agriculture, Russia exports wheat and other foodstuffs to Iran, and imports fruits and vegetables in return.

      The energy sector represents an area of significant cooperation between the two states. In 2022, Russia loaned Iran $1.4 billion to build the Sirik thermal power plant. A memorandum of understanding was signed between Russian energy giant Gazprom and the National Iranian Oil Corporation last June – worth about $40 billion – to develop the Kish and Northern Pars gas fields, in addition to discussing the development of six oil fields and the establishment of gas pipelines for exports.

      Last October, Tehran and Moscow signed an agreement for Iran to supply about 40 gas turbines to Russian thermal power plants. According to Russian media, this deal represents Iran’s largest technology export in modern history.

      However, the future of the relationship between Russia and Iran is uncertain and difficult to predict. While their ties have strengthened, the potential for a comprehensive alliance still depends on several factors.

      These include their ability to resolve their differences and effectively manage challenges in the region, particularly the ongoing Syrian conflict where their interests have slightly diverged. Despite this, it is not out of the question that a stronger alliance between the two countries could emerge, given the current trajectory of their relationship amid the escalation of global geopolitical conflict.

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

      Palestinian carries out operation in Jordan Valley, killing settler

      27 Feb, 2023 

      Source: Al Mayadeen Net

      By Al Mayadeen English 

      An illegal Israeli settler was killed after sustaining injuries during an operation in the Jordan Valley, with numerous injuries reported in various areas.

      Israeli soldiers set up a roadblock following a shooting operation in the West Bank at the Jordan Valley, occupied Palestine, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022 (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

      An illegal Israeli settler was killed after he was shot during a resistance operation in the Jordan Valley, Al Mayadeen correspondent reported on Monday, noting that the Palestinian who carried out that operation has so far carried out five similar ones in the same area.

      Israeli media had admitted Monday that two shooting operations were carried out concurrently in Areeha, leading to numerous injuries, several of which are critical.

      The Israeli Maariv newspaper reported Monday that a shooting was carried out near the “Almog” junction in Areeha, with several injuries reported and emergency crews rushing to the scene.

      “The army shut down several roads in the Jordan Valley in a bid to get those who carried out the operations,” the Israeli Channel 11 reported. “The second operation near Areeha led to four injuries, some of which are critical” amid concerns about further operations in the area.

      Less than an hour before there were any reports about the second operation, Israeli media said Magen David Adom, or the Red Star of David, was tending to a critically injured settler following a shooting on Road 90 near the “Beit HaArava” Junction in the vicinity of Areeha.

      Israeli media reported that the man who carried out the operation was able to escape the scene without being detained, adding that the Israeli occupation forces were on a manhunt for him.

      Israeli media reported Sunday that two settlers were killed with an M-16 rifle in a shooting operation near the town of Huwara, Nablus, in the occupied West Bank.

      Israeli Channel 12 reported that the one behind the operation rammed the car of the two Israelis, then got out of his car, shot them then left the scene. The channel indicated that the Israeli occupation forces went to the area and are now looking for him.

      Following the incident, Yoav Gallant, the occupation’s Minister of Security, stated, “We will soon conduct an assessment of the situation and take decisions regarding the Aqaba summit.”

      The head of the settlement council in the northern West Bank described the process that took place in Huwara as “difficult”.

      In the same context, the head of the regional council, Yossi Dagan, called on the government to turn the tables on the Palestinian Authority and launch a military operation.

      الزلزال يُعيد وصْل «الإقليمَين»

      القاهرة لدمشق: ولّى زمن القطيعة

       الثلاثاء 28 شباط 2023

      أبدى الوزير المصري حرص القاهرة على تعزيز علاقاتها مع دمشق وتطوير تعاونهما المشترك (أ ف ب)

      علاء حلبي

      من البوّابة الإنسانية، عبرت مصر نحو رفْع مستوى علاقتها مع سوريا، من التنسيق الأمني غير المعلَن، إلى التواصل المباشر بين البلدَين اللذين فرّقتْهما قطيعة مؤقّتة، تَبِع انتهاءها موقف مصري متذبذب، سرعان ما فارقتْه القاهرة في أعقاب وقوع الزلزال الكارثة في السادس من شباط. وعلى رغم التكهّن بأن الخطوة المصرية الواسعة إزاء دمشق قد تكون، في جانب منها، مدفوعةً بالخلاف المستمرّ في ما بين القاهرة والرياض، إلّا أن سياقها ينبئ باندراجها في إطار الحَراك العربي الأوسع الذي تقوده أبو ظبي ومسقط وعمّان نحو سوريا، والذي يُتوقّع أن لا تتأخّر الرياض في الانضمام إليه

      في تطوُّر يفتتح فصلاً جديداً في العلاقات السورية – المصرية، حلّ وزير الخارجية المصري، سامح شكري، ضيفاً على دمشق، حيث أجرى لقاءً مع نظيره السوري، فيصل المقداد، والرئيس بشار الأسد، في زيارة هي الأولى من نوعها لمسؤول ديبلوماسي مصري رفيع المستوى إلى سوريا منذ عام 2011. الزيارة التي حاول شكري إضفاء الطابع الإنساني عليها، عبر تأكيده أكثر من مرّة أنه جاء ليعلن تضامُن بلاده مع سوريا على خلفيّة الزلزال المدمّر الذي ضرب البلاد في السادس من شباط الماضي، تتزامن مع حَراك عربي على مستويات عدّة، تلعب فيه كلّ من الإمارات وسلطنة عُمان دوراً بارزاً لتقريب وجهات النظر، والتوصّل إلى صيغة مناسبة لجميع الأطراف تعود من خلالها دمشق إلى لَعِب دورها الاستراتيجي، خاصة بعد وصول الأزمة إلى حالة استعصاء أفرزها فشَل جميع محاولات تغيير نظام الحُكم في سوريا.
      وخلال لقائه الأسد، نقَل الوزير المصري رسالة من الرئيس عبد الفتاح السيسي، أكد فيها الأخير تضامُن مصر مع سوريا، واستعدادها لمواصلة دعْم السوريين بمواجهة آثار الزلزال، واعتزازه بالعلاقات التاريخية بين البلدَين، وحرْص القاهرة على تعزيز هذه العلاقات وتطوير التعاون المشترك. وردّ الأسد على ذلك بشُكر الضيف المصري، وإبداء حرْص سوريا على الصِلات مع مصر «في إطار السياق الطبيعي والتاريخي»، معتبراً أن «العمل لتحسين العلاقات بين الدول العربية بشكل ثنائي هو الأساس لتحسين الوضع العربي بشكل عام». وتأتي زيارة رأس هرم الديبلوماسية المصرية إلى دمشق لتعيد إحياء روابط تاريخية بين البلدَين، بعد قطيعة بدأت عام 2011، ووصلت إلى ذروتها خلال تولّي «الإخوان المسلمين» حُكم مصر بقيادة الراحل محمد مرسي، الذي أعلن في حزيران من عام 2013 قطْع علاقة بلاده رسمياً مع دمشق، والانضمام إلى الحلف المناوئ للحكومة السورية، محتضِناً نشاط قسم من المعارضة السورية، وداعياً إلى فرْض حظر جوّي على سوريا. وتروي مصادر مصرية عدّة أن موقف الجيش المصري الذي كان يقوده في تلك الفترة السيسي، الذي شغل آنذاك منصب وزير الدفاع، ظلّ معارضاً لموقف مرسي، وهو ما أكّده الكاتب المصري الراحل، محمد حسنين هيكل، خلال لقاء تلفزيوني، ذكر خلاله أن الجيش المصري رفض سياسة الرئيس الراحل، غير أن الأخير استمرّ فيها.

      أعادت زيارة رأس هرم الديبلوماسية المصرية إلى دمشق إحياء علاقات تاريخية بين البلدَين بعد قطيعة بدأت عام 2011

      وبعد انهيار حكومة «الإخوان»، وصعود السيسي إلى السلطة، عادت العلاقات جزئياً بين البلدَين، الأمر الذي أعلنه الرئيس المصري صراحة خلال زيارة أجراها بُعيد تولّيه السلطة إلى الولايات المتحدة عام 2014، حيث أشار إلى متانة الصِلات التي تَجمع جيشَي البلدَين، وأكد أن وحدة سوريا تُعتبر جزءاً من الأمن القومي المصري. ومع ذلك، لم ترقَ الروابط إلى مستويات رفيعة، بل انحصرت في نطاق اللقاءات الأمنية، قبل أن يأتي اللقاء الذي جمع وزير الخارجية السوري، فيصل المقداد، بنظيره المصري في نيويورك على هامش اجتماع الجمعية العامّة للأمم المتحدة عام 2021، ليشكّل علامة فارقة. وإلى جانب التعاون الأمني والعسكري الوثيق، لعب مستثمرون سوريون نقلوا استثماراتهم من سوريا إلى مصر خلال الحرب، دوراً بارزاً في تعزيز العلاقات بين البلدَين، بعدما بلغ حجم تلك الاستثمارات نحو 23 مليار دولار.
      وأبدت سوريا، مرّات عديدة، خلال تصريحات أطلقها الأسد والمقداد، تفهّمها لموقف بعض الدول التي تتواصل مع سوريا بشكل غير علني بسبب الضغوط الغربية والأميركية، وهو ما يمكن أن ينطبق على مصر، التي مرّت بظروف اقتصادية وسياسية صعبة خلال الأعوام الماضية، شكّلت عائقاً أمام اتّخاذ خطوات «انفتاحية» كبيرة. إلّا أن هذه الظروف يبدو أنها بدأت تتحوّل خلال الأشهر القليلة الماضية، في ظلّ مبادرات عربية عديدة بقيادة الأردن والإمارات وسلطنة عُمان لكسر الجمود السياسي، شكّلت التداعيات الكارثية للزلزال فرصة للمضيّ بها قُدُماً، وفتْح الباب أمام مصر التي بادر رئيسها، فور وقوع الكارثة، إلى الاتّصال بالأسد، والإيعاز بإرسال مساعدات عبر الجوّ والبحر. وفي وقت يَجري فيه الحديث في بعض الأوساط السياسية العربية عن وجود خلافات سعودية – مصرية يمكن أن تكون قد شكّلت دافعاً إضافياً لاتّخاذ القاهرة خطوتها الواسعة نحو دمشق، تُنبئ التحرّكات العربية بأن الانفتاح المصري يندرج في إطار نشاط عربي واسع النطاق لا يستثني الرياض، التي أعلن وزير خارجيّتها، فيصل بن فرحان، تغيّر موقف بلاده من سوريا، مشدّداً على ضرورة التواصل مع دمشق التي من المنتظر أن يزورها خلال الأيام المقبلة.
      وعلى الرغم من الانفتاح المتواصل لعواصم عربية على دمشق، سواءً قبل الزلزال أو بَعده، تُواجه هذه الخطوات معوّقات عديدة واختبارات صعبة، أبرزها الموقف الأميركي الرافض لهذا التطبيع، والتهديد بالعقوبات الأميركية أحادية الجانب المفروضة على سوريا، بالإضافة إلى امتلاك واشنطن أوراق ضغط عديدة قد تبادر إلى استخدامها خلال الفترة المقبلة.

      مقالات ذات صلة

      Three Reasons (Other Than Age) Why Joe Biden Should Not Run Again For President

      FEBRUARY 27, 2023

      Photograph Source: Matt Johnson – CC BY 2.0


      Joe Biden’s recent performance in the State of the Union message delivered to the U.S. Congress is being hailed as the start of his campaign for reelection as President in 2024. Nevertheless, the best thing that Biden could do right now would be to announce that he will not be a candidate, thus inaugurating an open contest for the Democratic nomination.

      According to a new poll, 63% of U.S. Democrats think that Biden should not run again, and the reason cited by virtually all of them is his advanced age (80) or characteristics related to age (halting speech, for example). These seem to me the least important reasons for Biden to decline to run again. In fact, the cavalier ageism of many people who would not dream of opposing someone’s candidacy on the basis of race or gender is contemptible. Three factors seem far more important: the advantages of an open fight for the nomination, Biden’s deficit of charisma, and, most important, his uncritical commitment to a bellicose, imperialist foreign policy.

      An open contest for the Democratic nomination

      An announcement by Joe Biden that he will not run again for President would inaugurate an open campaign for the Democratic Party nomination. A series of wide-open primary contests would dominate the news cycle and give U.S. public time to get to know a range of politicians on the left-of-center side. Whatever one thinks of Donald Trump, the campaign that produced his nomination in 2016 fascinated the public, revitalized the Republican Party, spotlighted a new generation of leaders, and gave the party’s rank-and-file the chance to debate influential policy issues in public.  A Democratic nomination battle would do at least as much for the Dems, who badly need to debate the issues that a Biden campaign will sweep under the rug.

      Conversely, failing to unleash this sort of competition will force the Democrats to campaign as the party of the Establishment, with the most significant question presented to the electorate being “How do you feel about Joe Biden?” This seems to me a serious error. Most Americans, whether they lean right or left, are anti-Establishment. If Trump runs again, they may again prefer Biden to the Orange Menace – but not if an unstable economic situation worsens, war clouds continue to darken, or political errors multiply. Moreover, if someone other than Trump is the Republican candidate, he or she will campaign as the candidate of fresh ideas as opposed to old-style bureaucratic politics, and the Biden-led Dems will be in serious trouble.

      A deficit of charisma

      There is a good deal of misunderstanding about charisma, which does not mean the ability to give a rousing speech or to evoke admiration. It denotes a special type of personal authority that induces people to say, “He (She) says exactly what I am thinking and feeling,” and “She (He) really cares about me.”

      Many Democrats have difficulty understanding that the Republican base does not consist simply of idiots and bigots, but rather of mostly decent people, many feeling hard pressed and insecure, who believe that right-wing figures like Donald Trump care about them, and who have been effectively abandoned by the Wall Street Democrats. Both parties appeal to many of the same working class and middle class Americans. But in a society fairly equally divided between the “Red” and “Blue” tribes, charismatic leaders can carry the day.

      Joe Biden is a decent man who has been a competent but unremarkable President, at least if one doesn’t object to his conflation of patriotism with U.S. global hegemony. But he remains an old-style bureaucrat with little appeal to most voters. It’s time to permit other potential leaders to mount center stage, to interrogate the voters and be interrogated by them, and to formulate new principles of leadership for the people of a divided, problem-ridden nation.  If this process does not produce a charismatic, genuinely progressive candidate, many voters may turn to a third party, but at least they will be making an informed choice.

      The costs and risks of imperialism

      The most disturbing feature of another Biden term in office, in my view, is the President’s apparent inability to think outside the assumptions and methods of what used to be called “neo-con” imperialism. The pursuit of U.S. global supremacy through military threats and actions is a policy embraced by nationalist politicians of both parties, the Pentagon, and American oligarchs controlling a broad swath of industries ranging from arms producers and IT giants to the major banks and credit institutions. Joe Biden is a charter member of this club, and while his non-candidacy would not disband it, it would at least open the door to discussion of the nation’s current slide toward uncontrolled Great Power conflict.

      This is not a new problem. Ever since Lyndon Johnson combined domestic reformism with imperialist war-making in Southeast Asia, blatant empire-building presented as the principled defense of global order has been a hallmark of U.S. presidential leadership. How to combat this policy is too large a question to discuss in depth here, but a wide-open primary campaign would permit contestants for the Democratic nomination, as well as public groups generally, to debate the rising costs and dangers of what some now call “the new Cold War.”

      These dangers include not only the growing possibility of a U.S. hot war with China in the Pacific, but the starvation of domestic programs by a military budget headed toward the $1 trillion mark. If public expenditures for social welfare and infrastructure programs do not increase substantially, the danger of violent civil conflicts fueled by poverty and inequality will grow apace. But (as Lyndon Johnson, among others, discovered), you cannot simultaneously make major increases in the production of guns and butter.

      It pays to read again about the social chaos that overtook Rome well before the Goths put an end to the Western Empire. Imperial overreach is an old, old story. Empires that cannot stop being empires soon stop being successful states. For this and other reasons noted, Joe Biden could do himself, the nation, and the world a big favor by deciding not to run again for President of the United States.

      A version of this can also be found online at Transcend Media Services.

      The West’s Narrative of the ‘Russian Threat’: A Tool for Destabilization and Hegemonic Control

      February 26, 2023

      Erkin Öncan, Turkish journalist focusing on war zones and social movements around the world. Twitter: Telegram:

      Erkin Öncan

      The Western world’s threat narrative seeks to disrupt the concept of multipolarity by imposing sanctions and military deterrence.

      On February 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a speech at the Federal Assembly, which received significant attention, particularly from Western media, as the first anniversary of the Ukrainian war approached.

      Although Western analysts anticipated an aggressive tone from Putin’s speech, it did not materialize. Their expectation was primarily that Putin would make statements about “shifting gears” in Ukraine and declaring the beginning of a new phase in the operation.

      However, Putin’s speech focused more on domestic issues in Russia. He recalled how the Soviet economy faced difficulties in its final days, stating that the Soviet Union began creating a market economy, similar to that of Western countries, but the result was the Russian economy becoming “dependent on the West as a source of raw materials.”

      While these are well-known facts following the collapse of the Soviet Union, what made this repetition significant was that it was directly declared by the President of Russia during a time of war. In the same speech, Putin’s use of the phrase “ordinary Russians did not feel sorry for those who lost their yachts and palaces abroad” in reference to oligarchs, was also significant and complementary in this regard.

      Regarding the war, Putin’s speech had an ideological tone rather than military, contrary to expectations. In a more clichéd expression, Putin explained how he viewed the “big picture.

      Putin openly declared that the war with Ukraine was not only fought against Ukraine but also against the “masters of the Kiev administration,” and that Russia defended not only its interests but also the principle that the world should not be divided into “civilized countries and others,” stating that “Western elites have turned into a society of unprincipled lies.”

      The decision to freeze Russia’s participation in the START agreements was undoubtedly one of the most critical issues addressed in the speech. Putin’s remarks preceding this decision indicate that it was made from a historical perspective: “There was a time when the USSR and the USA did not view each other as enemies. That time has passed. Our relations have deteriorated, thanks to the USA’s desire to build a world order based on its model and with only one master.”

      The local and regional crises since the USSR’s collapse and the Maydan coup in 2014, which has escalated into violent conflicts, are significant indications that Russia is on the brink of a political and economic transformation. Although the Russian leadership is unlikely to return to a “Soviet model” as feared by the West, this transformation will not only impact Russia but also the emerging new world outside the so-called “Collective West” (US/EU, NATO).

      This transformation has already been named: Multipolarity.

      Following Putin’s speech, the visit of Wang Yi, the head of the Foreign Affairs Commission Office of the CCP Central Committee, to Russia can be considered as the first handshake of this new era.

      As expected, the meeting between Wang and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov conveyed the message that “China and Russia are moving forward confidently towards a multipolar world formation.” During his meeting with Putin, Wang also noted that China-Russia relations are “resisting pressure from the international community and progressing steadily.”

      For almost a century, the intellectual circles and policymakers of the West have associated all their theses on the region with first the Soviet and then the “Russian threat”. Because the Russian threat is essential for the consolidation of Europe and the existence of NATO and media design for the Collective West.

      With this awareness, Putin said the following not only last year, in 2014, but also exactly 16 years ago in his famous speech in Munich:

      “I think it is clear that NATO expansion has no relation to the modernization of the Alliance itself or to ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary, it represents a serious provocation that reduces mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended?”

      The answer to Putin’s question was clear, and all the developments of the last 16 years have confirmed it. However, the fundamental perception of the Western public, including Turkey, is that NATO’s expansion and the aid to Ukraine started after the February 2022 attack by Russia.

      The Western media had predicted a similar outcome for China’s expected peace proposal. However, unlike the doomsday scenario painted by Western media, China’s peace proposals included rational and practical solutions:

      Putting an end to the Western sanctions on Russia, avoiding the use of nuclear weapons, establishing humanitarian aid corridors for civilians, and keeping the grain corridor open.

      Regardless of China’s “centralistic” stance, the Western media has echoed the same concerns about China’s alleged military and economic aid to Russia.

      Although these analyses may point to specific “threats,” they could also be considered the West’s ’wishes.’ Despite their messages of peace, the Western elites are not afraid of escalation; on the contrary, they seem to want it. This has become the main intellectual preoccupation of the Western ruling classes as the “Russian invasion” narrative.

      The threat narrative is designed to undermine the idea of multipolarity, which is being led by Russia and China, through sanctions and military deterrence.

      Simultaneously, as the sanctions against Russia backfire on the European economy, the perception of “Russian involvement” is being used to destabilize the socio-economic concerns of the European people, who are becoming an increasingly organized force. This tactic has been frequently employed by Europe, as evidenced by the theories about the Yellow Vest Movement in France, which emerged long before the Ukrainian conflict, suggesting that “Russians are leading the movement.”

      Furthermore, the threat is being exploited to propagate the notion that the far right, which has gained strength by taking an “extra-systemic” position amidst crises like the migrant crisis and economic recession, is being “strengthened by Russian support.” By latching onto the “Russian outbreak,” the West is deflecting crises caused by its own policies.

      These crises include the global economic crisis of 2008, the Arab Spring of 2011 and the resulting migration movements, the 2014 Ukraine Maidan Coup, the Brexit, and the COVID-19 pandemic that began on December 31, 2020.

      The Western world’s threat narrative seeks to disrupt the concept of multipolarity, led by Russia and China, by imposing sanctions and military deterrence. These sanctions, which have hit the European economy like a boomerang, are being used to destabilize the socio-economic concerns of the European people with the perception of “Russian involvement.” This method has been frequently used in Europe, as seen with the theories about the Yellow Vests Movement in France.

      Furthermore, the far-right, which has gained strength due to crises such as the migrant crisis and economic recession, is being portrayed as “strengthened by Russian support” through propaganda. The West deflects even the crises caused by its own policies by attaching them to the “Russian outbreak,” including the global economic crisis in 2008, the Arab Spring, the Ukraine Maidan Coup, Brexit, and the COVID-19 epidemic.

      While this situation strengthens the demand for security, stability, and prosperity among the peoples of Europe, the potential left-wing centers that could have addressed these demands have been liquidated since the Cold War. The far right has been maintaining and increasing its mainstream position in European politics for years, as evidenced by the rise of far-right parties in Italy, Sweden, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, and Belgium.

      As a result of this erosion, those who are showcased in the name of the left in the USA and Europe are now positioned against “Authoritarian Russia.” In summary, the immigration wave, economic crises, and far-right tendencies in Europe are basically the result of the Collective West’s actions, of which Europe is also a part. However, the Western media focuses on the “Russian threat.”

      The aim of prohibiting or restricting Russian and Chinese media under the guise of “freedom of the press” and accusing them of disinformation and propaganda is to solidify the “Russian threat” narrative. The “Free West” continues to silence alternative voices.

      We should recall the US media campaigns against the Soviets in the past and their current operations against Russia in Europe through the US Global Media Agency (USAGM). Organizations such as Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) (formerly Radio for the Liberation of Bolshevism) have been established directly by the CIA, using Nazis, and have expanded to include countries like Cuba and China. However, it is Russian and Chinese media organizations that have been banned, restricted, and labeled as sources of disinformation.

      In summary, all these events are connected to the disintegration of the Soviet Union and, even earlier, to imperialism’s attempts to use Ukraine as a base against the USSR/Russia in the last century.

      As a result, Ukraine has been turned into a stronghold of czarist supporters during the October Revolution, Nazism during World War II, and extreme right and neo-Nazism after the Maidan coup.

      The competition between those advocating complete surrender to the West and those seeking friendship with Russia began in post-Soviet Ukraine and culminated in the victory of the former with the Maidan coup in 2014.

      This is the underlying reason for the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine, which is now in its ninth year, with the Russian operation merely ushering in a new phase. The fact that the crisis took on an international dimension was only a matter of time.

      It is evident that this longstanding conflict aligns with the picture that Putin drew in his speech. The war’s participants are following a well-defined course.

      Even Ukrainian leader Zelensky, in his motivational speech on the war’s first anniversary, highlighted Western weapons such as “Himars, Patriot, Abrams, IRIS-T, Challenger, NASAMS, Leopard” as proof of his country’s resistance unifying the world. However, the new world order extends far beyond the West.

      Also by this author

      How MKO indoctrinated refugees in Germany to be ‘child soldiers’ against Iran

      Monday, 27 February 2023 8:59 AM  [ Last Update: Monday, 27 February 2023 10:03 AM ]

      Around 3,500 MKO members, many of them child soldiers, were living at the notorious Camp Ashraf, 40 miles north of Baghdad, when the Iran-Iraq War ended in 1988. (File Photo)
      Syed Zafar Mehdi is a Tehran-based journalist, political commentator and author. He has reported for more than 13 years from India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir and West Asia for leading publications worldwide.

      By Syed Zafar Mehdi

      Luisa Hommerich, a Berlin-based investigative journalist with the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit, couldn’t hide her joy and thrill on February 10 as she triumphantly announced the end of a protracted legal battle against a terrorist cult.

      Hamburg district court had a few days ago dismissed a lawsuit filed by the German branch of the dreaded West-backed terrorist group, Mujahedin -e-Khalq Organization (MKO), after a legal fight that lasted more than ten months.

      The lawsuit, in particular, took umbrage to an investigative report published in Zeit Magazine on October 28, 2021, which laid bare how the anti-Iran terrorist cult, with overt and covert support from German authorities, trained refugee children from the city of Cologne as “soldiers” in a military camp in Iraq’s Diyala Governorate in the 1990s.

      Hommerich, who painstakingly worked for months on the explosive story, took to Twitter to declare that the MKO had been “unsuccessful” in the legal battle, and hastened to add that the original article was removed from the paywall “to celebrate”.

      MKO, she explained in one of her tweets, was “once on terror lists (of Western governments)”, but “are today engaged in lobbying work and maintain contact with (Western) politicians”, pointing to the collusion between the terrorist cult and Western states.

      Lawsuit ‘rejected’

      In a press statement released on February 23, Zeit publishing group said the lawsuit filed by the MKO terrorist cult had been “rejected” by the Hamburg court, paving way for the re-distribution of the October 2021 report “in its original form”.

      The default judgment in the case was issued on January 28 and delivered to the publishing group on February 7, which announced it through a press statement on February 9, which editors at the publishing group shared with the Press TV website.

      The statement said the Albania-based terrorist cult and its local branch in Germany were “supported by some members of the Bundestag”, referring to the German federal parliament.

      The lawsuit filed by the MKO, in particular, took exception to “eight passages” in the Zeit Magazin article and pressed for their removal. The magazine stood its ground, triggering a long-drawn-out legal battle that ended earlier this month.

      In a preliminary verdict on January 19, the Hamburg court found most passages “lawful” and “rejected the request for an injunction”, the Zeit statement noted, adding that the main protagonist of the story, Amin Golmaryami, an Iranian-German national, was indeed recruited as a by the terrorist cult.

      The court battle kicked off in April 2022, almost six months after the article was first published. In a Twitter post on April 22, Hommerich said she had reported about Golmaryami being “smuggled into Iraq” by MKO sleuths and was ready to “defend the investigation” before the Hamburg district court.

      Later that day, after appearing in the court, the Die Zeit journalist said Golmaryami and five other victims of the terrorist cult had turned up to “testify as witnesses” but “were not heard”.

      “One of them demonstrated in front of the courthouse, and in front of about 30 MKO supporters brought by the other side,” she wrote, sharing pictures of a person holding a placard that read “I was a child soldier, I demand justice”.

      Anti-MKO protesters at a court in Hamburg in April 2021. (Twitter)

      Key protagonist

      The report, originally published in Zeit Magazin on October 27, revolved around Golmaryami, who came to Germany as a refugee child in the early 1980s.

      At the tender age of 15, he and many other young Iranian refugee children in Cologne were forcibly taken to Iraq to be trained as “child soldiers” against the Islamic Republic.

      While other victims chose not to narrate their harrowing ordeal in the captivity of the MKO terrorist cult due to safety concerns, Golmaryami decided to break his silence.

      “Blame the man himself with his wishes – and the family. You have to renounce all of that. Only through devotion to a leader can one become “pure”,” the Zeit Magazin report cited Golmaryami as saying, recalling how he and his compatriots were indoctrinated by the Maryam Rajavi-led extremist cult.

      The investigation revealed that at least 40 children and young people, who had come to Cologne as refugees without their parents, were smuggled into Iraq in the mid-1990s.

      Golmaryami, born in southwestern Iran’s Abadan city, was one of them who spent at least 12 years at Camp Ashraf, the notorious headquarters of the terrorist cult at the time.

      The camp has since been closed and shifted to Albania on southeastern Europe’s Balkan peninsula, where among others, Golmaryami’s mother also lives.

      She was “brainwashed”, her son exclaims, distraught and helpless.

      Golmaryami was allowed to see his mother last time in the summer of 2019, in a restaurant in Tirana. When he offered to help her escape the camp, she became aggressive. 

      German magazine Die Zeit’s article about the former MKO child soldier, Amin Golmaryami, published in October 2021. (Die Zeit)

      “Only traitors and agents of the Iranian regime say things like that,” she yelled at him, the report noted. “He no longer hopes to be able to save her.”

      The report quoted Golmaryami as saying that he “internally resisted being brainwashed” by the MKO. “Only rarely did he express his true thoughts. That’s how he kept a clear head.”

      “Most of the 40 minors who are believed to have been smuggled into Iraq from Cologne (by the MKO) have reportedly gotten out in the meantime. Many are said to be living in Cologne again,” the report stated.

      “At least 10, however, are said to be with the People’s Mujahideen (MKO terrorist cult) somewhere in the world. Some are said to have died in attacks in Iraq.”

      MKO’s German wing

      In a follow-up article for Zeit Online in November 2021, reproduced by other news outlets, Hommerich said Golmaryami and others like him were “manipulated and detained” by MKO agents using “psychological techniques”, “mind control”, and “brainwashing”.

      Based on months-long research, archive material and internal documents, Zeit Online revealed that the terror cult operates in Europe and the US under the label of the ‘National Council of Resistance Iran’, with German headquarters in a posh neighborhood of Berlin.

      The group enjoys the support of the German Solidarity Committee for a Free Iran (DSFI), which has, among others, former Bundestag President Rita Süssmuth on its advisory board.

      German lawmakers – including Thomas Erndl (Christian Social Union), Lukas Köhler (Free Democratic Party), and Bernhard Daldrup (Social Democratic Party) – have often participated in the events organized by the MKO and DSFI.

      Norbert Lammert, who served as the 12th President of the German Bundestag (federal parliament) from 2005 to 2017, has also been seen attending events hosted by Rajavi.

      Norbert Lammert, the former President of the German Bundestag, addressing an MKO rally in front of the German Parliament, in October 2020.

      Zeit Online report, citing anonymous sources, revealed that senior German politicians like Süssmuth worked with the DSFI to take many of these young refugees after they left Camp Ashraf in Iraq, and most of them ended up in a villa in Berlin-Wilmersdorf after their arrival.

      “We thought we were coming to Europe, to freedom,” one of them was quoted as saying in the report. “But in Berlin, the organization’s officials continued to monitor us mentally, emotionally, socially, and financially.”

      Task cut out

      They had their day’s task cut out: wake up at seven o’clock and started working, including collecting donations on the street. In the evenings, they would attend “ideological meetings” wherein they had to reveal their forbidden thoughts – including about their own family.

      These helpless MKO cadres were also subject to “sleep deprivation” as political meetings sometimes continued throughout the night, from around 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.

      “Destruction of social ties” was another diabolic technique used by the cult. They were not allowed to contact family, friends or even fellow cadres. The “mission” was what mattered.

      They were also shielded from any outside information and barred from reading newspapers and magazines or listening to the radio or music. Internet available was heavily censored.

      This manipulation and mind control, the report cited “dissidents” as saying, was designed to have “cheap workers” who would work for the terror cult’s goals – propaganda against Iran.

      “Some would have looked for politicians or kept the German-language websites of the organization up to date. Others organized demonstrations,” the report stated.

      Most of these people were also required to collect donations for the terror cult, by standing in pedestrian zones and showing doctored pictures of “victims of torture and starving children”.

      This practice also extended to stealth ‘clubs’ that were run from the Berlin villa. Some of these ‘clubs’ are still functional, operating under the names of ‘Aid for Human Rights in Iran’, the ‘Association for People and Freedom’, or the ‘Association for Hope of the Future’.

      Lobbying and donations

      A former MKO member was cited as saying that all they require for lobbying is “one or two famous names,” shower them with attention and compliments and dole out gifts. In the next step, the person is asked to form an association that campaigns for the MKO.

      “It’s a psychological trick: when you ask someone a favor after so much flattery, people think they owe you something and they can hardly say no,” the person asserted.

      Donald Trump’s former security advisor, John Bolton, according to award-winning MSNBC journalist Richard Engel, received upwards of $180,000 for speaking at MEK events over the years.

      Former US National Security Advisor John Bolton speaking at an MKO rally in New York in September 2017.

      A report in The Guardian in July 2018 said Bolton’s ascent as Trump’s security advisor “reinvigorated the group”, and helped it “bury its murky past and portray itself as a democratic and popular alternative to the Islamic Republic”.

      Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, has also regularly featured in MEK rallies. Engel says Giuliani “doesn’t remember how much money they paid him over the years”, and believes the group’s past designation as a foreign terrorist organization was “a mistake”.

      The terror organization has also been involved in party donations. The far-right group Vox, which is the third-largest bloc inside the Spanish parliament with 52 lawmakers, was created in 2013 with around €1 million funded by the MKO, as reported by El Pais newspaper in January 2020.

      Two lawmakers for the far-right political group, Santiago Abascal and Iván Espinosa de los Monteros, received party salaries for eight months from MEK donations, around €65,000 in total.

      This political lobbying has helped the group, which was on the US list of terrorist organizations until 2012, escape scrutiny for years, with even courts coming to its rescue on several occasions.

      In March 2019, a German court ordered the weekly magazine Der Spiegel to delete passages from an article that accused the MKO of engaging in “torture” and “psycho terror”.

      The court in its ruling said it would fine the German magazine 250,000 euros (about $282,000) if the passages about a MEK “psycho terror” camp in Albania weren’t removed.

      Die Zeit’s significant legal victory against the terror group, however, could be the beginning of the end of its criminal activities in Germany and other European countries.  

      Syed Zafar Mehdi is a Tehran-based journalist, political commentator and author. He has reported for more than 13 years from India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir and West Asia for leading publications worldwide.

      Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:


      Related Articles


      FEBRUARY 17TH, 2023

      Professor David Miller is a non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Islam and Global Affairs at Istanbul Zaim University and a former Professor of Political Sociology at the University of Bristol. He is a broadcaster, writer and investigative researcher; the producer of the weekly show Palestine Declassified on PressTV; and the co-director of Public Interest Investigations, of which and are projects. He tweets @Tracking_Power – though he has been shadow-banned by Twitter.


      The Israel lobby is working directly with the Canadian government and with Silicon Valley corporations to quash the voices of those critical of its expansionist policies and systematic oppression of its indigenous population.

      One clear example of this came last September when an international parliamentary committee met in Congress in Washington, DC, to demand that Twitter remove the account of Palestinian-Canadian Laith Marouf. Marouf is a multimedia producer who currently serves as a senior consultant at the Community Media Advocacy Centre and the coordinator of ICTV, a project to secure a national multi-ethnic news television station in Canada. He also has a long record of active support for Palestinian rights.

      As such, Marouf – whose Community Media Advocacy Centre is funded by the Canadian government – faced official consequences for comments he made critiquing Israel. But the Trudeau administration went further to secure his erasure from social media, which should concern all those who believe in free speech.

      Marouf’s case is just one in an endless stream of such acts happening all over social media and beyond. Marouf, in other words, was not the first and certainly will not be the last. Furthermore, his case opens the floodgates for the stream of suspensions to become a torrent.

      As a major human rights abuser engaged in apartheid and military occupation of Palestinian land, Israel’s working relationship with big tech and the Canadian government is showcasing how antisemitism is being weaponized to target, flag and now vanish accounts critical of the apartheid state.

      Marouf’s case also highlights the existence of a nearly fifty-year alliance between a Canadian national and a former Soviet dissident – a relationship that began as part of an Israeli intelligence operation. This history directly ties what happened to Marouf to Israel’s foreign policy strategies developed between 2000 and 2016.


      The Interparliamentary Task Force To Combat Online Antisemitism is, as the name suggests, an international grouping of parliamentarians. Launched in September 2020, the task force is focused on increasing awareness of and developing responses and solutions to allegedly growing online antisemitism. Its first hearing was held on September 16, and the committee called executives from Twitter, YouTube, Meta, and TikTok to testify and explain how and why accounts like those of Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, were still in existence. Khamenei’s English Twitter account has nearly a million followers. At the time of writing, it and its Russian, Spanish, Arabic and Farsi alternative accounts remain live.

      Former Canadian member of parliament (MP) Michael Levitt went over his five allotted minutes in his enthusiasm to denounce Marouf’s tweets. Another member of the task force devoted some of her time to arguing that “Zionism as an identity” should be included as a “protected characteristic.” She elaborated, “Zionist is an integral part of the identity of the majority of Jews and many non-Jews who self-define as Zionists.”

      But who is on this committee, and why would they make such an argument? Answering this question accurately involves peeling back several layers of the onion and tracing back the origin story of this latest assault on online Palestinian speech.

      CUTV Montreal Protests
      An exhausted Laith Marouf and his CUTV crew report live from the ground in Montreal, May 20, 2012. Alexis Gravel | Flickr

      It is claimed that the committee consists of “bipartisan legislators” and parliamentarians from Israel, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Yet this claim of “bipartisanship” is quickly scotched. The task force’s four South African members identify as Zionists and are part of the controversial Democratic Alliance, the party for whom most White South Africans vote. No African National Congress (ANC) members are involved in the group. At the hearing, one MP denounced the ANC, reportedly claiming, “The greatest proponents of antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment comes from our government.”

      Members of the Task Force from the US include Democratic Congresspersons Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who has visited Israel on an AIPAC-sponsored tour, and Ted Deutch, the newly-appointed CEO of the Zionist lobby group, the American Jewish Committee.

      Among the British representatives is Andrew Percy, the Conservative MP who converted to Judaism in 2017 partly because of “a wholehearted commitment to support of Israel.” The other British representative is Alex Sobel, a longtime supporter of the Zionist affiliate of the Labor Party, the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM). The Canadian representatives included the former MP Michael Levitt, who is now President-CEO of the Zionist Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Also from Canada was Anthony Housefather, who in 2019 wrote, “I have always been and will continue to be a huge supporter of Israel.”

      Along with two Members of the Israeli Knesset (MK) was the former MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh. Widely respected journalist Gideon Levy has described Cotler-Wunsh as both “an expert on human rights, an enlightened intellectual” and “nationalist, racist, cruel.”

      At the hearing itself, three more Zionists were present. The first was the Israeli special representative for antisemitism, Noa Tishby. Recently Tishby denounced Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Bella Hadid – all Muslim women – as anti-Semites for condemning the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by Israeli soldiers. Tishby reportedly “singled out only criticism of Israel from Muslim Americans,” showing an apparent “effort to cast their anger as the product of ethnic or religious bigotry.” Another Zionist at the hearing was Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, the State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, appointed in March 2022. According to Ismail Allison of CAIR, Lipstadt has a “history of using bigoted rhetoric, including Islamophobic … talking points.”

      Well-known Canadian politician and jurist Irwin Cotler was also in attendance. He is Canada’s Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism, a position receiving CA$ 5.6 million over five years beginning in 2022. He is also the stepfather of Michal Cotler-Wunsh MK, mentioned above. As it turns out, Cotler is the most significant actor in this story, being deeply embedded in Zionist lobby networks.

      Unsurprisingly, no representative of Arab or Palestinian origin is involved in the task force.


      Marouf claims that “in 2021, I began to be stalked and harassed online by Zionists in the Broadcasting sector in Canada.” These efforts led to his Twitter account being shut down for “hateful conduct” and promoting “violence against or directly attacking” people with protected characteristics like race, ethnicity or national origin.

      In fact, Marouf has spent much of the past two decades years combatting Zionist efforts to censor him. The first such instance happened at Concordia University in 2001 when he was the first Arab candidate to be elected to a student union executive in Canada. Within months of his appointment, he was “expelled summarily … for writing that ‘Zionism is Jewish Supremacy’”. He won an ensuing six-month court battle with the university. After that, however, the attacks continued; the next was from the Chair of the Department of History, who, as Marouf noted, was also the chair of a Zionist lobby group.

      Among the interlocutors back in 2002 was then-MP Irwin Cotler. Cotler’s reputation was at that stage not nearly as great as it is now. Perhaps this is why Marouf’s comrades were able to occupy his office, following which the police were called. Marouf has confirmed to Mintpress that he was “part of the organizing of the occupation” but was not present in the office.

      At the time of Marouf’s clashes with Cotler, Cotler’s wife, Ariela, was also involved in the events. She was President of the board of Montreal Hillel in 2001 during the most heated period at Concordia. Hillel is the Zionist student organization on campus in Canada and the US. She “played a major role in the pro-Israeli activity” at that time, according to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, an Israeli think tank.

      Before that, Ariela had been parliamentary secretary for Menachem Begin. As can be imagined from this, Ariela is a hardline Zionist and claims to have been involved “at the cradle” with the creation of the so-called Birthright program, which takes young Jews to “Israel” despite there being no “birthright” for Jews in Canada or elsewhere to colonize Palestine.

      Ariela Cotler has also been involved in a wide range of other Zionist lobby groups, including the Canada Israel Committee and the Federation Combined Jewish Appeal, the largest Zionist fundraiser in Canada. The Federation CJA, as it is known, has promoted Canadians joining the Israeli army.


      Cotler’s public persona is that he has some sympathy for the underdog. At the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, he notes he has been described as “Counsel for the Oppressed” and as “Freedom’s Counsel.” His 600-word profile does not use the words “Israel,” “Zionism,” “Jewish,” or “antisemitism”; his decades-long advocacy for the crimes of the State of Israel are not even hinted at.

      Born in 1940, he took degrees at McGill University and then secured a Law postgraduate degree at Yale in 1966. In 1968 he was hired as a speechwriter for the then Justice Minister for four years. In 1970 he was appointed as an associate professor at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto before being appointed Professor at McGill in 1973. That same year he helped found and became President of the pro-Israel Canadian Professors for Peace in the Middle East, and he then “spent his summers travelling the Middle East.”

      By the late 1970s, he was already heavily involved in Zionist advocacy, being the lawyer for Anatoli Shcharansky. A Ukrainian Zionist activist, Shcharansky was active in agitation as part of an operation run by a secret Israeli intelligence organization, Nativ, to access new settlers from the Soviet Union. Was Cotler aware that he was involved in an intelligence operation?

      Irwin Cotler Benjamin Netanyahu
      Cotler is welcomed by Benjamin Netanyahu during a 2014 visit to Israel. Photo | Israeli GPO

      In 1978 while working with Shcharansky, he was living in the Jewish quarter of Damascus and, not surprisingly – given his Zionist contacts –  drew the attention of Syrian officials. He also spent time in Egypt in 1975, 1976 and 1977, making contact with the political elite, including the foreign minister, and was introduced to President Anwar Sadat. Knowing that Cotler would later visit Israel, Sadat “asked him to deliver a message to … prime minister Menachem Begin.”

      Cotler claims he said “he didn’t know” Begin “particularly well.” But when he arrived in Israel, he was “invited to lunch with members of the Knesset.” There he met a Begin staffer named Ariela Zeevi, who took him to meet her boss. The message was, “Egypt was prepared to enter into peace negotiations with Israel.” Cotler later married the staffer in 1979 and became a “close personal friend” of Begin.


      In 1980, Irwin Cotler was appointed President of the Canadian Jewish Congress. Four years later, he participated in a Jerusalem conference entitled “Hasbara: Israel’s Public Image.” (Hasbara is a Hebrew word meaning “explanation,” which is used as a synonym for “propaganda” in English). The American Jewish Congress ran the event, a group with a history of working directly with the Israeli intelligence agency Nativ, a campaign to recruit new settlers from the Soviet Union. Though referred to only as a professor of law at McGill, Cotler made it clear that he was a committed partisan of Israeli hasbara, complaining that “hasbara efforts are discriminated against” and that “Israel itself has become some kind of illegitimate entity.”

      Since this public declaration of commitment to the cause of Zionism, he has taken up a dizzying number of appointments in Zionist organizations. He is or has been affiliated with a wide range of Zionist groups on three continents, including,

      All of these groups are closely related to the State of Israel, some with intelligence connections, some in receipt of funds, or created by Tel Aviv. None of these roles are listed in his biography at the Wallenberg Center, to which he is currently attached. Nor are Cotler’s interesting links with the far right in Ukraine; he is reportedly on the advisory board of “Ukrainian-Jewish Encounter,” which honored Ukrainian Nazis who collaborated with Nazi Germany and massacred Jews in the 1940s.


      But it is in the policy planning process of the state of Israel that Cotler seems to have made the most significant impact. Cotler has been, as British writer Antony Lerman puts it, “probably the most significant and influential international figure in the propagation of the concept of the ‘new antisemitism.’” As codified and finally published in its current form in 2016 by the International Holocaust Remembrance Association, the “working definition” of antisemitism is the weapon of choice of the Zionist movement to intimidate and bully supporters of the Palestinians.

      While the idea of the new antisemitism has roots back to the 1940s and was a subject of renewed interest from the early 1970s, the administrative infrastructure to redefine antisemitism flourished from the late 1980s when Mossad was given the lead in the coordination of the strategy. As Lerman has noted, the Monitoring Forum on Antisemitism, established in 1988, “aimed at establishing Israeli hegemony over the monitoring and combating of antisemitism by Jewish groups worldwide.” It “was coordinated and mostly implemented by Mossad representatives” working in Israeli embassies.

      A key step in the process was the first Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust in  January 2000. The resulting Stockholm Declaration “became the founding document” of the International Holocaust Remembrance Association. Cotler headed the Canadian delegation to that event. He was also a key figure in responding to the 2001 Durban World Conference Against Racism, which concluded that Zionism is racism. In a hyperbolic reply for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, he denounced “what was supposed to be a conference against racism” [emphasis in original], saying it “turned into a conference of racism against Israel and the Jewish people.” He also decried what he called a new “genocidal antisemitism – the public call for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people.

      Cotler was engaged directly with the state of Israel’s response to Durban in co-founding the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA) in 2002 “in collaboration with Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Rabbi Michael Melchior.” This venture, however, collapsed, its main problem being that it was obviously an instrument of Israeli foreign policy. Even an arch-Zionist like Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League observed: “If a lot of its strategy and implementation is coming from Israel, I won’t be supportive of it.”

      In 2003 a new body, the Global Forum for Combatting Antisemitism, was created by Melchior and Cotler’s friend and former “client” Natan Sharansky (formerly known as Anatoli Shcharansky, he changed his name to Zionise it, as do many incoming settlers). Sharansky was also – as an Israeli government minister in charge of antisemitism —chair of the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism, which had been set up in the 1990s. “The State of Israel has decided to take the gloves off and implement a coordinated counteroffensive against antisemitism,” Sharansky said.

      Natan Scharansky
      Scharansky, right, holds the Congressional Gold Medal presented to him by President Reagan, center, as President-elect Bush looks on, Jan. 11, 1989. Barry Thumma | AP

      In his “3D test of antisemitism,” Sharansky took up the idea of discrimination against a nation-state, trialed by Cotler. It focused only on the occasions where it was claimed that criticism of Israel became antisemitism:

      • “demonization” is “when Israel’s actions are blown out of all sensible proportion”;
      • “double standards,” when criticism of Israel is “applied selectively”;
      • “delegitimization” when Israel’s “fundamental right to exist” is denied.

      These are tendentious arguments. Who is to judge what is “sensible” or “selective”? No regime or even state has a “fundamental” right to exist.

      Cotler and Sharansky would frequently connect again over the course of the ensuing decade. For example, they both attended the February 2008 Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism. It was here that the plan to extend the event around the globe was announced. Though it has been claimed that the subsequent London event was independent, the 2008 event it was seen as simply another GFCA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) event. Minister Tzipi Livni personally thanked British MOP John Mann for ‘volunteering to host the Global Forum next year.’

      Tellingly, the new body used the identical name to the previous 2002 effort: the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA). Sharansky was an advisor.

      In 2009, Cotler was on the steering committee of the ICCA. Also, there was Fiamma Nirenstein, an Italian writer and politician who has lived in an illegal settlement in East Jerusalem since 1998. Cotler led a delegation of 11 Canadian MPs to the event. Together, they decided to form a Canadian coalition. Thus was the Israeli network extended to Canada: the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism. It met in November 2010 and produced a final report the following year. Canadian groups which were critical of the redefinition of antisemitism to equate it with anti-Zionism responded to the consultation, but their submissions were “excluded from the hearings.”

      The ICCA would host conferences in London in February 2009, Ottawa in November 2010, Brussels in June 2012 and Berlin in March 2016. A “task force” report on “internet hate” was published in 2013. In addition, an Italian parliamentary report was published in 2011, having reportedly taken “inspiration” from the ICCA. Similar German parliamentary reports came out in 2011 and 2017. These reports, commissions and groupings laid the groundwork for the American hearing late last year that removed Marouf from social media.


      As the State of Israel developed its strategy to redefine antisemitism as opposition to Israeli government policy, it embedded a number of Zionist lobby groups in the process. For example, advisors on the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism included the following: The U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL), B’nai B’rith International (BBI), the World Jewish Congress (WJC), and the U.K.-based Community Security Trust (CST). Some of these advisors to the state of Israel were carried over as advisors to the European Union Monitoring Center, which first introduced the “working definition” of antisemitism in 2005. Both the ADL and BBI were there, as was the EU branch of the WJC, the European Jewish Congress and the UK-based CST.

      When Twitter started to appoint advisors on content, these same groups were again in the frame, with no indication that they were essentially assets of the Israeli government. In 2015, Twitter launched a safety center and listed a number of ‘trusted partners’ in the US, Australia, and Europe.

      In the area of offensive speech, it listed both the ADL and CST as concerned with antisemitism. Twitter executives have referred to the CST as “empowering” Twitter to “take action.” The big tech platform takes advice from precisely zero Palestinian organizations or grassroots Muslim groups on how to regulate its content.

      From 2018, the list of groups working with Twitter evolved. In addition to the ADL, two new European groups were added: the Board of Deputies of British Jews in the UK and the Centre Européen Juif d’Information [European Jewish Information Center] (CEJI) in Brussels. Both these groups are strongly pro-Israel. The Board of Deputies unblushingly admits in its 2020 Trustees report that it enjoys a “[C]lose working relationship with the Embassy of Israel in the UK, including with the Ambassador, diplomats, and professional staff, and strengthened links to the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs and the IDF Spokesperson Department.”

      The CEJI is a Zionist organization that advertises working closely with a range of other Zionist groups as “partners,” including B’nai B’rith Europe and the CST. Scandalously, amongst its funders are a host of social media firms, including Twitter itself. So Twitter funds a Zionist lobby group to lobby Twitter on issues relating to the question of Palestine. It is not surprising, therefore, that when pressure is brought to bear from apparently bipartisan lawmakers, and Twitter turns to its trusted advisors, pro-Israel decisions are routinely made. The whole process of both pressure and response is entirely corrupted by Zionist influence.

      Israel’s government is also heavily involved in censoring pro-Palestinian content online. According to 7amleh – The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, the Israeli Ministry of Justice Cyber Unit sends requests to remove Palestinian content to tech giants. Through Israel’s access to information law, the government said requests to social media companies led to the deletion of 27,000 posts from Facebook, Twitter, and Google from 2017-2018.


      After all these years, Cotler continues to spearhead illegitimate attempts to subvert solidarity with Palestine under the guise of fighting antisemitism. Shored up by a constantly evolving Zionist movement with its front groups, lobby initiatives and covert operatives (many of whom are embedded in Twitter’s own editorial structures), it is not a surprise that Twitter censored Laith Marouf’s account.

      The Israel lobby’s cancel culture depends on the decades of work done by Cotler as an Israeli asset and by his close co-conspirator, the former Soviet prisoner and Israeli government minister Sharansky. Both have been central to forging the “criticism of Israel is antisemitism” weapon which is put to daily use by the lobby through their operatives on the ground, via inter-parliamentary front groups or via the editorial structures of Twitter itself, to do the bidding of a foreign state.

      Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News

      West Bank Operation Sends Resounding Message to Aqaba ‘Security’ Summit, Israeli Terrorism

      February 26, 2023

      Two Israeli settlers have been killed in a shooting operation within the occupied West Bank as Israeli and Palestinian representatives were holding talks in Jordan’s Al-Aqaba resort.

      The incident occurred in the center of the West Bank town of Hawara, south of Nablus, where a Palestinian youth reportedly opened fire on a car, leading to the death of two settlers, according to reports from the Palestinian Information center on Sunday.

      No resistance group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

      The Israeli military says it is pursuing the gunman who has left the scene.

      Senior officials from the Israeli occupation and the Palestinian Authority (PA) held a meeting in the Jordanian resort city of Aqaba for an Israeli-Palestinian security summit organized by the White House after the Israeli military’s fatal raid in Nablus.

      Hamas and Islamic Jihad, two resistance movements based in Gaza, have praised the shooting, stating that it is a natural reaction to Israeli crimes against Palestinians.

      The most recent of these was the deadly raid in Nablus, which killed two Palestinian resistance fighters.

      Islamic Jihad said that this operation was carried out in line with their promise of revenge for the blood of those fighters and sends a message to the security meeting in Aqaba that the resistance will continue to confront the occupying regime and Israeli settlers as long as aggression against Palestinians persists.

      Hamas has slammed the Palestinian Authority’s participation in talks with the Zionist entity.

      The meeting is “a blatant attempt to cover up ongoing [Israeli] occupation crimes, and a green light for it to carry out violations against our people and land and holy sites,” Hamas said in a statement.

      An Israeli minister called on its government to withdraw its delegation to Aqaba talks following the shooting in the occupied West Bank. “The terror attack in Huwara requires an immediate return of the Israeli delegation from the Aqaba summit,” tweets National Missions Minister Orit Strock, but her call met no response.

      Israeli Violence

      As usual, Israeli settlers began to do what they know most. Settlers assaulted Palestinians and set fire to a number of homes in the West Bank town of Huwara.

      One Palestinian was hurt after being stabbed and three homes were set alight.

      Citing eyewitnesses and the Huwara municipality, dozens of settlers in the area were involved in the attack.

      Aqaba Summit with Obstacles

      At Aqaba, a senior Israeli official said the summit concluded with an accord to establish a ‘joint security committee.’ The committee’s mandate is to assess the viability of rekindling Israeli-Palestinian ‘security’ cooperation, according to Israeli media. Moreover, the parties have agreed to convene another meeting, facilitated by Egypt, before Ramadan, which is less than a month away.

      This next gathering aims to review “advancements in the ‘security’ domain.”

      View of the Jordanian city of Aqaba, as seen from occupied Palestine
      View of the Jordanian city of Aqaba, as seen from occupied Palestine

      Israeli officials at the summit reaffirmed their position on legalizing nine settlement outposts in the West Bank and constructing 9,500 housing units.

      The meeting was attended by Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar and the so-called National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi, as well as PA intelligence chief Majed Faraj. US National Security Council coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk, as well as Jordanian and Egyptian security officials, were also there.

      Jordan’s King Abdullah told the US official that further efforts are needed to bring calm to the region amid an uptick in ‘violence’.

      Abdullah “highlighted the need to step up efforts toward calm and de-escalation in the Palestinian Territories” to the White House coordinator, according to a statement from the Jordanian government.

      Source: Al-Manar English Website

      Aqaba meeting… a broad Palestinian rejection
      The latest developments in Hawara after the qualitative Nablus operation
      The return of security coordination is one of the goals of the Aqaba meeting

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      قمة العقبة لا تملك زمام المبادرة

       الإثنين 27 شباط 2023

      ناصر قنديل

      يدرك الأميركيون خطورة انفجار الوضع الفلسطيني، ويعلمون أن هذا الانفجار يأتي بعد اليأس من جدوى خيار التفاوض والرهان على التسويات. وقد أمضى الفلسطينيون سنوات وعقوداً وهم يمنحون الفرصة تلو الأخرى لخيار التفاوض بلا جدوى. فالأرض الفلسطينية في الضفة الغربية تتقلص كل سنة بنسبة بين 5 و10%، والاستيطان ينمو في الضفة الغربية والقدس بصورة سرطانيّة، وعمليات طرد الفلسطينيين خصوصاً في القدس تسير على قدم وساق، لدرجة لم يعد فيها مكان لمشروع دولة فلسطينية عاصمتها القدس واقعياً في الجغرافيا، حتى لو بقي الطرح متداولاً في الحديث السياسي.

      يدرك الأميركيون أيضاً أن هذا اليأس الفلسطيني ليس ناجماً عن عامل فلسطيني مقاوم، بل إن نهوض التيار المقاوم فلسطينياً هو نتيجة لهذا اليأس وليس نتيجة له، لأن قضم الجغرافيا الفلسطينية وتهجير الفلسطينيين يتمان بإرادة إسرائيلية ومشيئة إسرائيلية، بتغطية أميركية. وقد تراجعت مكانة السلطة الفلسطينية تدريجياً في عيون الفلسطينيين، بسبب تنفيذها لما يطلبه منها الأميركيون، بما في ذلك التنسيق الأمني مع الإسرائيليين، وتسليم المقاومين وكشف خططهم وعملياتهم، ولذلك يدرك الأميركيون أن مشكلتهم في القلق من الانفجار ليست ناتجة عن راديكالية فلسطينية في السلطة ولا حتى خارجها، بل هي نتاج مباشر لطبيعة الحكومات الصهيونية وسياساتها الاستيطانية، وإعلانها دولة يهودية وترجمة هذه الهوية في مفهوم العاصمة الأبدية التي تمثلها القدس بمباركة أميركية، ومعنى تفريغها من العرب.

      الذي يعرفه الأميركيون أيضاً هو أن هذا المأزق ينمو ويكبر منذ ثلاثة عقود، وأن تبدل حكومات الكيان لم يغيّر في الاتجاه التصاعدي لهذا المأزق، رغم تناوب تشكيلات سياسية إسرائيلية في اليمين واليسار والوسط، لكنهم يدركون أن ما لم يكن ممكناً مع حكومات إسرائيلية مختلفة التوجهات، هو مستحيل مع الحكومة الإسرائيلية الحالية، لأنها أقل الحكومات الإسرائيلية استجابة، واستعداداً للاستجابة في كل ما يتصل بتجميد الاستيطان وعدم المساس بهوية القدس العربية، لأن القوة الرئيسية في هذه الحكومة التي يمثلها المستوطنون والمتطرفون دينياً، تحمل برنامجاً صريحاً فازت على أساسه في الانتخابات يقوم على توسيع الاستيطان وفق قواعد جديدة، وتهجير الفلسطينيين من القدس بوتيرة مختلفة.

      قمة العقبة التي عقدت بطلب أميركي ومشاركة مصرية أردنية إسرائيلية فلسطينية، أملاً بصناعة تهدئة تمنع خطر الانفجار، لا تملك زمام المبادرة، طالما أنها عاجزة عن ضبط الأداء الاستيطاني للحكومة الإسرائيلية، وعاجزة عن توفير الحد الأدنى من الحماية للسكان الفلسطينيين في القدس، وزمام المبادرة الموجود أصلاً لدى الفريق الجديد في الحكومة، موجود أيضاً لدى الفريق الفلسطيني الصاعد الذي يمثله عرين الأسود وكمية جنين، وشباب مثل إبراهيم النابلسي، وعلقم خيري، ولذلك لن يجدي الحديث عن تدريب آلاف الشباب الفلسطيني على أيدي خبراء أميركيين وتمويل نشوء ميليشيا فلسطينية تشارك الإسرائيليين حربهم ضد المقاومة، تحت عنوان منع الانفجار، لأنه عاجلاً أو آجلاً سيتفكك هذا الجهاز الجديد، وتبدأ خلايا المقاومة تتشكل داخله، كما حدث مع أمن السلطة الفلسطينية الذي يتولى التنسيق الأمني مع الإسرائيلي. فهؤلاء الفلسطينيون الذين يطلب إليهم خدمة الاحتلال هم أبناء العائلات التي تنزع أرضها وتنسف بيوتها ويجري إذلالهم على حواجز التفتيش.

      مشكلة الأميركيين أنهم يريدون الحفاظ على الاحتلال بأبشع أشكال توحشه، ويريدون فلسطينياً قادراً على تخديم مشروعه واعتبار جهاز الخدمة هذا، سلطة وطنية فلسطينية، والفلسطينيون يطلقون على هذا الجهاز تسمية واحدة هي العمالة.

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      The “Israel” Crisis: A Milestone

      Feb 26, 2023

      Yahya Dbouk

      Al-Akhbar Newspaper

      The “Israeli” government is moving forward with plans to undermine the judiciary and place it under its control.

      The Knesset passed the first reading of one of several planned bills that Benjamin Netanyahu’s opponents describe as legislation seeking to destroy the democratic system, deepen the social rift, and push “Israel” towards the brink of civil war.

      And while this narrative may contain exaggerations, it is all part of political push and pull. It is also worth noting that the leader of the Likud (Netanyahu) may be intending to conduct a loud maneuver with the aim of dragging his opponents into the negotiation box, and then entering into a settlement with them that will protect him from going on trial. At the same time, the hand of the fascists is slipping through.

      One thing is for certain: “Israel’s” years-long divisions have peaked and it is no longer possible to weld or bridge the gap that has been created.

      At a time when the internal crisis is escalating, the occupying entity is awaiting a seemingly inevitable response to the Nablus massacre. The massacre reveals the “gelatinous” nature of the understandings concluded between Ramallah and Tel Aviv under the auspices of Washington, and the former’s inability to leave behind its illusions, despite hinting that it plans to cancel a security summit scheduled in Aqaba with the United States, “Israel”, Egypt and Jordan.

      On the domestic front, the camp of “Israeli” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu completed its first legislative step on the road to changing the nature of power in “Israel”, deepening the rift with his opponents and complicating the internal crisis. All of these pave the way for scenarios that the occupying entity may not be able to overcome.

      This step has provoked Netanyahu’s opponents. They consider it a “coup” aimed at making the judicial system a mere “rubber stamp”. They also warn about “Israel” being transformed into a “totalitarian state”  and being ruled by parties and figures according to their own agendas, which include, among other things, the imposition of special ways of living on others – be it Jewish or not.

      The Supreme Court prevented these impositions when it came to the Jews, as these were seen as incompatible with “justice, logic, equality, and human rights.” Of course, it was a completely different approach when it came to the Arabs.

      Today, warnings are multiplying about the potential consequences of the Netanyahu government’s actions, whether in terms of deepening social divisions, the exit of capital and investments, the possible prosecution of army personnel before international courts, the decline of “Israel’s” standing and the disruption of its alliances, the urging of a counter-immigration that empties the occupying entity from its settlers, or even the start of a “civil war” that is constantly mentioned by a large number of officials, experts, and the media.

      In view of the aforementioned, the following conclusion can be drawn:

      First: Criticism of the “judicial reform” plan is clearly politicized. But this plan would inevitably harm the unwritten collective contract that enabled the various Israeli “tribes” to coexist and preserved the internal stability of the entity despite its many seeds of fragmentation.

      The “Supreme Court” has been, for decades, and according to established customs, examining every petition that comes to it regarding decisions or laws issued by the government, its ministers, the Knesset and its committees, or state and private institutions, with expanded and unrestricted authority unparalleled in the world.

      Based on this authority, the court played the role of a “guard” that prevents any “tribe” from changing the “rules of engagement” with other “tribes” or jumping over its own fence to pounce on “others” and harm them. This applies, for example, to its ban on secularists from imposing their will on religious people, and vice versa.

      Today, however, if the ruling coalition is able to remove the authority of the “Supreme” to consider the laws of the “Knesset”, then the fascists and the religious factions will be able to work on issuing “Talmudic” laws, which the secular factions and even the traditionalists among ordinary “Israelis” cannot coexist with.

      Some of these new laws may include electricity cuts and transportation disruptions on Saturdays, limiting the equality granted to women on multiple personal and public levels, limiting the type of food, clothing, and places that can be used by both genders, etc.

      In other words, Talmudic laws will take precedence over any military order issued by an officer or a non-commissioned officer, and the rabbi will become the chief of staff instead of the organizational chief of staff. Meanwhile, the situation is no different in the occupied territories, where there is an agenda that conflicts with the interests of “Israel”.

      Second: The secularists see all this as a threat to their way of life, their aspirations, and their collective and private stability. This explains their repeated escalations against the government.

      However, these escalations go hand-in-hand with exaggerations, manifested, for example, by bringing back everything that is “bad” at any level to the “judicial reform” plan or exaggerating the potential consequences of the plan on the future of the entity.

      Third: There are other aspects of the repercussions that are being discussed that should be paid attention to; the new laws imply a threat to democracy but will not lead to its downfall.

      Likewise, many aspects of the economic dilemma appear to be related to the distress being experienced by many sectors around the world. This extends to the technology sector in “Israel”.

      It is true that there is a crisis in the high-tech sector, and that money is leaving “Israel” faster than ever. Unemployment is on the rise and there is a decline in foreign investments, while strong economic institutions reduce their presence in the entity. However, this is a global phenomenon that transcends countries and continents.

      Fourth: What has happened so far is a vote on the first reading out of three readings that are binding for the bills to enter into force, bearing in mind that experiences tell us that many projects did not reach the last two stages.

      For the time being, it is not possible to predict the fate of the “judicial reform” plan. However, it is worth noting that Netanyahu, who remains the real engine behind this legislation, can stop driving it forward if he reaches some sort of a settlement with others from within his secular “tribe” that will protect him from standing trial over corruption and bribery charges

      It appears the Prime Minister wanted to pass the first reading to improve his negotiating position and increase pressure on the opposition with the aim of forcing it to lower the ceiling of its demands and enter into a kind of barter with him.

      However, if Netanyahu does not find a willing listener among his opponents and concludes that the consequences of proceeding with the “coup” against the judiciary are bearable and can be overcome, then he will continue down this path. Such a move is likely to lead to dangerous repercussions and could push “Israel” into chaos or internal strife. This will force him to step back and search for settlements again.

      The last scenario is a possible disruption of the march of “change” led by the fascist allies of the Likud leader, which will stir up his government and possibly lead to its downfall. This again opens him up to extortion from his allies.

      Fifth: While it is important not to fall for the exaggerations, some data cannot be overlooked. The most important is the following:

      –        “Israel” is plagued by years-long divisions, which have become increasingly entrenched with the passage of time. It is no longer possible to weld or bridge the gap that has been created.

      –        The division between the Ashkenazi and the Sephardic still exists, as recent protests have revealed, after many thought that it was about to disappear.

      –        What is happening now against the backdrop of the “judicial revolution” is a result of the internal division, not a cause for it, even if the former led to the nourishment and development of the latter.

      In a US-China confrontation, West Asia will bow out

      A significant increase in geopolitical and economic ties with China has offered West Asian states an alternative to the US, which has traditionally been the region’s security guarantor.

      February 24 2023

      Photo Credit: The Cradle
      F.M. Shakil is a Pakistani writer covering political, environmental, and economic issues, and is a regular contributor at Akhbar Al-Aan in Dubai and Asia Times in Hong Kong. He writes extensively about China-Pakistan strategic relations, particularly Beijing’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

      By F.M. Shakil

      The prospect of a US-China war has entered the realm of reality. Increased provocations from US military and political officials regarding the status of Taiwan – which China considers to be part of its historic territory – have heightened the possibility of confrontation in recent years.

      With only 13 out of 193 UN member states recognizing the government in Taipei as a separate entity, the global community’s reaction to a Washington-led assault over Taiwan’s status remains highly uncertain.

      Today, the reaction of strategic West Asia to a hypothetical conflict between the two superpowers is up for grabs. However, given the region’s reluctance to take sides in the Russian-US stand off, it is likely to be equally hesitant to do so in the event of a US-China conflict.

      In a memo released on 27 January, US General Mike Minihan, chief of the Air Mobility Command, wrote: “My instinct tells me we will fight in 2025.” General Minihan’s views align with Taiwanese Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng’s statement in 2021 that China will be capable of launching a full-scale invasion of Taiwan by the same year.

      In response to General Minihan’s remarks, Mike McCaul, chairman of the US House Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee, told Fox News: “I hope he is mistaken but I believe he is correct.” Adding fuel to the fire, US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on 29 January, “The chances of conflict in the relationship with China over Taiwan are very high.”

      A lot of hot air

      Days after the US general issued a warning that Washington may engage in combat with Beijing in the next two years, tensions between the two countries were further exacerbated by the spoof-worthy Chinese spy balloon incident.

      According to some senior Republicans and US military leaders, there is a growing concern that a full-scale conflict between the two superpowers is imminent, with the Asia-Pacific (AP) and South Asia (SA) regions likely to be the primary theaters of the conflict.

      Jan Achakzai, a geopolitical analyst and former adviser to Pakistan’s Balochistan government, tells The Cradle that:

      “The possibility of a war between the United States and China puts everyone on edge, especially the regions that are intricately linked with the US or China. Some nations will be compelled to choose between allying with the US in the case of war or keeping the status quo to lessen the possibility of hostilities.”

      Russian involvement in West Asia

      Despite nominal trade and geopolitical relations with Moscow, West Asian countries did not support Washington’s position in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. However, Russia’s veto power at the UN Security Council does have a positive impact on its relationship with regional states, particularly for its ability to prevent expansionist and anti-Arab policies by other permanent council members.

      Security and trade remain the two primary pillars of the relationship between Moscow and West Asia, and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s image has played a significant role in shaping these ties.

      The UAE serves as a major financial hub for Russia, and Moscow may attempt to leverage its influence in the region to urge the UAE to reconsider US-imposed banking restrictions, if it feels that its interests are being compromised.

      In addition, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Lebanon, and Egypt are among the countries that purchase wheat from Russia, which further solidifies economic ties between Russia and the Arab world.

      Moreover, since joining the expanded Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC+) in 2016, Russia and Saudi Arabia have worked closely to regulate oil output and price adjustments as part of OPEC+ agreements.

      Putin’s public image has, in part, contributed to a surge in support for Russia in the kingdom. In 2018, when Riyadh faced international criticism over the Saudi-orchestrated murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Russian president made headlines by high-fiving and grinning at the then-isolated Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) during the G20 summit in Argentina.

      Likewise, his prominent role in thwarting the NATO proxy war in Syria – a geopolitical game changer that, arguably, ushered in global multipolarity – has gained Putin fans across a region that has long suffered from western imperialist designs.

      Where will West Asia stand?

      Although still a hypothetical scenario, it is worth considering how West Asia would respond to a direct US-China conflict. Many prominent geopolitical analysts have speculated that if West Asia, and particularly the traditionally pro-US Arab states of the Persian Gulf, did not toe the US line against Russia – a significantly smaller regional trading partner than China – its loyalties to Washington in a potential US-China confrontation could be further strained.

      Compared to Russia, China has significantly larger investments throughout West Asia. In 2021, bilateral trade between Beijing and the region amounted to $330 billion, with approximately 50 percent of China’s energy supply coming from the energy-abundant Persian Gulf.

      China has conducted over $200 billion in trade alone with Saudi Arabia and the UAE. From 2005 to 2021, Beijing invested $43.47 billion in Saudi Arabia, $36.16 billion in the UAE, $30.05 billion in Iraq, $11.75 billion in Kuwait, $7.8 billion in Qatar, $6.62 billion in Oman, and $1.4 billion in Bahrain.

      In addition to its investments in trade and energy, China has also invested enormous sums of money in West Asian and North African infrastructure and high-tech development projects via its multi-trillion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

      Beijing has entered into strategic cooperation agreements with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Algeria, Egypt, and Iran, and has enlisted a total of 21 Arab nations in its ambitious, decade-long effort to revive the historic Silk Road and export its goods to markets throughout Europe and Africa. Currently, infrastructure developed by Persian Gulf nations serves as a transit point for two-thirds of Chinese exports to these continents.

      Egypt is a crucial hub for the BRI, with the Economic-Technological Development Area in Egypt’s Suez Canal Economic Zone, near Ain Sokhna, representing one of the major projects for which the two nations signed contracts totaling $18 billion in 2018.

      Iraq, the third-largest oil supplier to China after Saudi Arabia and Russia, has also received $10.5 billion from Beijing for BRI-related energy projects, and just this week, agreed to replace its dollar trade with Beijing for the Chinese yuan.

      In West Asia, the US plays second fiddle to Beijing

      Chinese collaboration with West Asia and North Africa is not confined to trade and economy; Beijing also provides defense equipment to several Arab nations. Since 2019, China and Saudi Arabia have reportedly collaborated on the production of ballistic missiles, and China also sells Saudi Arabia its HQ-17AE air defense system.

      Chinese Wing Loong drones have been purchased by the UAE, and Iraq has placed an order for CH-4B drones. Jordan purchased CH-4Bs in 2016, while Algeria acquired CH-5s – the next generation of the CH-4B type – to expand its aviation capabilities in 2022. In addition, Saudi Advanced Communications and Electronics Systems Co. and China Electronics Technology Group are partnering to build a drone factory for local UAV production.

      While US President Joe Biden’s administration’s relationship with Riyadh has been strained due to disagreements over human rights and energy policy, China is making significant strides in strengthening its ties with the country.

      As Beijing draws closer to Saudi Arabia, the message to Washington from Riyadh is unambiguous: “The people in the Middle East [West Asia] are tired of other countries’ interference because they always come with troubles.”

      Chinese President Xi Jinping received a royal welcome in Riyadh last December, marking a seismic shift in Sino-Arab relations and boosting China’s image throughout the Arab world. In contrast, US President Joe Biden’s visit to Jeddah in the summer of 2022 received a lukewarm reception. This may suggest that a recalibration of West Asian geopolitical alliances may be on the horizon.

      Despite these trends, analyst Achakzai tells The Cradle that West Asia will behave similarly to the way it did during the Russian-Ukrainian conflict – even given China’s increasing business and military presence in the region. and the US’s declining control over the oil-rich Arab monarchies.

      “Depending on the current situation, the motives of the various states in the region may change and divide into two distinct groups: those who would support the US and those who would support a neutral position.”

      China values economy over war

      In the Asia-Pacific region, the US and its allies are engaged in a contentious relationship with China regarding maritime boundaries, international trade, human rights, and strategic security issues. Despite signing numerous security pacts with regional players, China appears to prioritize building and strengthening economic ties over military cooperation with Asian-Pacific states.

      Due to a history of hostile confrontations and divergent geopolitical objectives, both the US and China seek to increase their military presence in the region. In response to China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, the US has expanded its military footprint by signing commercial and defense agreements with the Asia-Pacific region.

      The two nations have also been at odds over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which many viewed as an effort to contain China’s economic and strategic influence in its own backyard. Additionally, tensions have escalated between Beijing and its neighbors, particularly over territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas.

      These efforts have been emboldened by the 5-member Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), which is an informal strategic dialogue between the US, India, Japan, and Australia that seeks “to promote a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.” According to Achakzai:

      “Countries that have extensive defense agreements with the US, such as Japan, South Korea, and Australia, are most likely to help America. These nations, which have long benefited from their close connections to the US, must now contend with Chinese territorial ambitions in the region and the South China Sea. The nations having an informal security partnership with the US, such as the Philippines, are likely to back the United States in a confrontation.”

      The analyst explained that Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia are expected to remain neutral during the conflict due to their strong business and investment ties with China.

      “Other countries in the Asia-Pacific region may feel obligated to support the US if China initiates the conflict. This may apply to countries like Indonesia and Vietnam, which have recently been under Chinese pressure and may need to choose a side to protect their own security,” he noted.

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

      In Munich: West sounds alarm over Global South stances

      The recent conference on international security policy focused extensively on the significance of the Global South to the west’s security. As power competition with China and Russia intensifies, the west is compelled to reassess its approach to relations with these countries.

      February 23 2023

      Photo Credit: The Cradle
      Mohamed Sweidan is a strategic studies researcher, a writer for different media platforms, and the author of several studies in the field of international relations. Mohamed’s main focus is on Russian affairs, Turkish politics, and the relationship between energy security and geopolitics.

      By Mohamad Hasan Sweidan

      “I am struck by how much we are losing the trust of the Global South.”

      French President Emmanuel Macron during the Munich Security Conference 2023

      The 59th Munich Security Conference (MSC) held from 17 to 19 February, was attended by over 150 senior officials, including more than 40 heads of state and international organizations. The conference focused on three main topics: the war in Ukraine, the need to confront China and Russia, and the importance of the Global South in the struggle between the great powers.

      As in the previous year, Russia was not present at the Munich conference. However, this year marked the first time in twenty years that Moscow was not even invited to participate. With both Russia and Iran absent, the conference became a platform for attacking opponents of western policies.

      The Great Game for the Global South

      The conference took place against a backdrop of international turmoil and competition among great powers for influence in the emerging multipolar order. Several western countries expressed their dissatisfaction with the positions of Global South countries in relation to the conflicts involving China and Russia.

      During her speech, US Vice President Kamala Harris stated that:

      “We have invited a record number of representatives from the so-called “Global South,” because while we have this unity between us, when you talk to representatives of the Global South – and we had them on the podium this morning – you see that many countries sit on the fence.”

      Accordingly, Christoph Heusgen, chairman of the MSC, announced at the opening ceremony that this year’s conference would “put a spotlight on the Global South” and “listen to their concerns.”

      France’s Macron pointed out that efforts in reshaping the global order should be more inclusive: “The west has been losing the Global South and hasn’t done enough to respond to the charge of double standards, including by not helping poor countries fast enough with Covid vaccines,” he said. “One way to address the concerns of the Global South is to bring about reforms in the United Nations.”

      A wake-up call for the west

      While the discussions and outcomes of the conference suggest that western powers have come to recognize the significance of nations in the Global South, this appears to be mainly because of the necessity in rallying their support in major conflicts against Russia and China.

      The conflict in Ukraine fully demonstrated that the refusal of many Latin American, African, and Asian countries to support western sanctions was a significant factor in the failure of the west’s attempts to isolate Russia.

      The MSC’s final report states: “The wake-up call provided by Russia’s war and the diffidence of many countries in the ‘Global South’ has roused liberal democracies from their complacency, reminding them that the international order, just like democracy itself, is in constant need of renewal.”

      The report added that “countries in the Global South can become crucial ‘swing states.’ They can tip the balance between systemic competitors and therefore determine the fate of the international rules-based order.” It also recognized that:

      “Influential states such as India, Turkey, or Saudi Arabia are quite actively hedging their bets in the current geopolitical standoff – both when it comes to Ukraine but also on many other policy issues. Rather than being guided by deep feelings about the international order, their responses to the war in Ukraine and their stances in the broader international contest over the international order seem to be guided by much more pragmatic reasoning.”

      The report also found that:

      “Many countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America have steadily lost faith in the legitimacy and fairness of an international system which has neither granted them an appropriate voice in global affairs, nor sufficiently addressed their core concerns. To many states, these failures are deeply tied to the west. They find that the western-led order has been characterized by post-colonial domination, double standards, and neglect for developing countries’ concerns.”

      Legacy of colonialism

      It is clear from the statements made at the Munich Security Conference that the west recognizes the need to change its approach to development cooperation with the countries of the Global South, in order to counter the increasing influence of Beijing and Moscow.

      However, this will require a fundamental shift in attitudes and policies towards these countries, which have historically been viewed as objects of aid and development rather than equal partners in a mutually beneficial relationship. This too is pointed out in the MSC report:

      “The United States and Europe will have to rethink their approaches to development cooperation with countries in the Global South. They need to make their development models more attractive, as China offers an alternative model based on a narrative of solidarity and mutual benefits. To compete with China, the approach must focus on the novelty on short-term emergency relief as well as long-term financing enables sustainable and resilient systems in partner countries.”

      The colonialist legacy of the west continues to cast a long shadow over its relations with the Global South, and it will take sustained effort and genuine commitment to overcome this legacy and build a more equitable and productive relationship.

      This will require a shift away from the donor-recipient model towards one based on partnership and mutual benefit, and a recognition that the interests and aspirations of the countries of the Global South must be taken seriously and respected.

      Looting wealth, interfering in the policies of states, and waging wars are hallmarks of western policies in the developing world. Those states who do not adhere to western diktats are regularly subjected to ominous sanctions or extreme economic pressures.

      The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the support for authoritarian regimes and coups, the economic vise on countries like Lebanon and Venezuela, and the unequal distribution of vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic are just a few examples of the ways in which western powers have acted against the interests and well-being of Global South countries.

      In 2019, when former US President Donald Trump triumphantly claimed ownership of Syrian oil, it marked a clear example of the problematic and exploitative attitudes that continue to plague western policies toward the Global South. The fact that western leaders did not anticipate the rise of the developing countries to become decisive “swing states” – as noted in the final report of the Munich conference – is a reflection of the west’s ongoing ignorance and neglect of the interests and aspirations of these vital states.

      West Asia at the MSC

      The MSC also highlighted the increasing importance of West Asia in global energy politics and the west’s alarm about China’s growing influence in this region. The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) projection that West Asian countries will meet a large share of China and India’s growing oil needs has raised the region’s strategic value for these influential emerging powers.

      Washington’s frustration with Saudi Arabia’s standing in the Ukrainian conflict was also evident at the conference, as the west seeks to prevent a repeat of such behavior in the more important conflict with China. Per the conference report:

      “Amid the decline of the American presence in the Middle East [West Asia], liberal democracies are increasingly concerned about China’s growing influence. Deeper relations between China and the Middle East [West Asia] may evolve to include a stronger Chinese military and security footprint, which could undermine the west’s security partnerships with countries in the region.”

      In essence, the Munich meeting provided a platform for declining western powers to express their concerns about the growing influence of China in West Asia, as well as their frustration with Saudi Arabia’s perceived lack of loyalty. It highlighted the need for the west to adapt its strategies in dealing with the developing world and to foster new forms of international solidarity and cooperation.

      However, it is important to acknowledge that the term “Global South” itself reflects a colonial mindset that continues to shape the west’s perception of developing nations, and that such imperial policies will continue as long as such attitudes persist.

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

      Historic Year… Ukraine War Exposes U.S. Imperialism as Foremost Global Threat

      February 24, 2023


      Most people realize that the United States and its capitalist impoverishing-war-system must be defeated if the world is to ever live in peace.

      The war in Ukraine is now entering its second year, having reached its first anniversary this week. On February 24 last year, Russian forces entered Ukrainian territory. The conflict has taken many twists and turns over the past 12 months. But there seems to be one inescapable, paramount development. The contours of hostility have emerged to identify the primary global threat – the United States and its zero-sum obsession with imperialist hegemony.

      Strictly speaking, the war in Ukraine is entering its tenth year because the origins of the conflict are traced to the coup d’état in Kiev in February 2014 sponsored by the American CIA and other NATO agents. The NeoNazi regime that was installed then and which continues in power (headed up by a Jewish president nonetheless) was weaponized and covertly supported by the United States and its NATO partners to aggress the Russian-speaking people of formerly southeastern Ukraine. The bigger objective for the regime was to draw the Russian Federation into an existential confrontation that is now underway.

      The Western governments and their media propaganda outlets assert the nonsense narrative that Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an unprovoked aggression against Ukraine. The Western propaganda system – whose names include household brands like the New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, Financial Times, BBC, CNN, DW, and France 24, and so on – completely whitewashes the preceding eight years to the war erupting.

      Putin reiterated the claim this week in an annual state-of-the-union type speech when he said “the West started the war”. The Russian leader was predictably vilified in the West for saying such. But the facts of history are on Putin’s side.

      American scholar Professor John Mearsheimer is one of several eminent voices who confirm that the war in Ukraine was presaged by NATO and NATO’s relentless expansion toward Russia over many years. Ukraine was but the tip of the spear pointed at Russia.

      Other sources on the ground in the Donbass region – formerly of Ukraine – also confirm that the NATO-backed Kiev regime was escalating its aggression during February last year before Russia’s military intervention. This would account for why American President Joe Biden was confidently predicting at the beginning of last year that Russian forces would “invade” Ukraine. The American paymasters of the Kiev regime knew that Russia would be compelled to intervene in order to forestall an incipient deadly assault on the Russian-speaking population inside the then-Ukrainian border.

      The Donbass region has since seceded from Ukraine in referenda held last year and joined the Russian Federation following the footsteps of the Crimean Peninsula. Western media/propaganda outlets talk about Russia “annexing” the Donbass and Crimea, ignoring the referenda verified by international observers. But then the same Western media refuse to report on how the U.S. in an act of international terrorism blew up the Nord Stream pipelines five months ago. Thus, say no more about their craven credulity.

      Lamentably, the hostilities in Ukraine have been exacerbated and unnecessarily prolonged because of the massive flow of American and NATO weapons into that country. At least $100 billion of armaments has been pumped into the regime whose foot soldiers model themselves on Ukrainian fascists who collaborated with the Nazi Third Reich in World War II. This is while Western populations suffer record levels of poverty and austerity imposed by callous elitist rulers.

      Just this week, the Biden administration pledged another $2 billion in military aid to the Kiev regime, including the resupply of HIMARS long-range rockets. The sophisticated U.S.-supplied artillery is being used to target and kill civilians in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions which are now part of the Russian Federation. Reliable information shows that the HIMARS artillery units are being operated by NATO mercenaries, not Ukrainian troops.

      The grave implication is that the United States and NATO are at war against Russia. This is no longer a proxy war of indirect support. The visit to Kiev this week by President Biden and the ludicrous talk about “defending world democracy” against “Russian aggression” clearly demonstrates that Washington is commanding the conflict and its dangerous charade of hoodwinking the world.

      Russia’s stated aims of “denazifying” and “demilitarizing” the Kiev regime are far from met – yet. The aforementioned would-be offensive by the NATO-backed regime against the Donbass region in February last year was thwarted by Russia’s intervention and countless lives were no doubt spared. Nevertheless, the truth is that the people in the newly constituted parts of Russia are continuing to live under deadly conditions imposed by the NATO axis. Just this week, several civilians in Petrovsky near Donetsk City, including ambulance workers, were killed by NATO-backed shelling.

      The war in Ukraine has escalated into an existential one that Russia cannot afford to lose. Likewise, the investment of political and financial capital by Washington and its imperialist allies is such that they also face an existential challenge whereby they cannot back down without losing fatal prestige.

      There is barely any diplomatic or political effort to find a peaceful solution. China this week unveiled a 12-point peace plan to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, but the plan was quickly dismissed or undermined by the U.S. and European leaders. The ultimate problem is Washington and its imperialist minions are seeking a zero-sum hegemonic result, one where Russia is defeated, which will, in turn, pave the way for bigger ambitions of confronting China. Already, the American imperialists are well on their way to reinforcing the military encirclement of China.

      The war in Ukraine is really a manifestation of underlying historical forces. The supposed end of the Cold War in 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union led to subsequent decades of unbridled American military lawlessness and wars of impunity. Arguably, one can go further back and contend that the United States and its imperialist gang of powers are the inheritors of the Third Reich’s task to conquer Russia’s vast landmass. Western capitalist powers backed the rise of the Third Reich, and only for a brief period expediently switched sides to defeat Nazi Germany in 1945 because Hitler had gone rogue, only for the Western powers to quickly resume the historic objective of vanquishing Russia under the guise of the Cold War. The truth is the Cold War never ended. Because the American-led capitalist warmongering order never ended. (And there will never be peace under this order.)

      Russia’s envoy to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia, in an address to the Security Council this week cited figures that showed that the U.S. engaged in illegal foreign military interventions on over 250 occasions since the ostensible end of the Cold War some three decades ago.

      For its part, China this week denounced the United States as the major instigator of world conflicts, claiming that 80 percent of foreign wars and hostilities were attributable to covert and overt American actions.

      No nation has overseen the number of coups, regime-change operations, mass killings, and assassinations compared with the United States. Its ruling regime even assassinated one of its own presidents – John F Kennedy in 1963 – because he stood in the way of imperialist objectives.

      In the make-believe fairytale world of Western governments and media (a deluded global minority, it must be noted), the war in Ukraine is laughably portrayed as being about “defending democracy and freedom”. The reality is Ukraine has become a money-splurging war racket in which Western war and banking industries are drooling at the profits facilitated by a corrupt cabal in Kiev propped up by NeoNazi paramilitaries and NATO mercenaries who are killing Russian civilians. A gruesome video emerged this week showing NATO-backed murderers in uniforms hanging a man and his pregnant wife in the Lugansk region, an atrocity confirmed by the state prosecutor for the region.

      It is estimated that up to 200,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed over the past year, while the United Nations estimates that about 7,200 civilians have died. Russia claims to be trying to minimize civilian casualties.

      The United States and its NATO accomplices are fighting an imperialist war “to the last Ukrainian” and bequeathing another failed state as they have done elsewhere in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen among others. This time, however, the American Empire is pushing a war against nuclear power, Russia, which is not going to back down. Two existential forces are incrementally going head-to-head. And most people realize that the United States and its capitalist impoverishing-war-system must be defeated if the world is to ever live in peace.

      Judaizing Jerusalem: Israel’s ‘demographic’ plan to ethnically cleanse the Holy City

      The most right-wing government in Israel’s history is committed to advancing the Judaization of Jerusalem, including demolishing the Al-Aqsa Mosque and diminishing the Arab demographic in Al-Quds.

      February 21 2023

      By The Cradle’s Palestine Correspondent

      Jerusalem has been a sticking point in attempts to find a political solution between Palestinians and their occupiers ever since the onset of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Yet, the situation involving the Holy City and its Al-Aqsa Mosque has reached a critical turning point since the recent ascension of ultra-right-wing Zionist parties to power in Israel.

      On 3 January, Itamar Ben Gvir, the head of the Otzma Yehudit party, fulfilled his election promises by storming the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque under official Israeli security cover. In doing so, the extremist minister of national security became the first official figure to take such a step since former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s similar action in 2000, which triggered the Second Intifada (also known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada).

      Storming Al-Aqsa, a calculated move

      Many political analysts agree that Ben Gvir’s storming of the mosque – which was coordinated by the Israeli police and General Security Agency (Shin Bet), and with the prior knowledge of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – signals the new government’s policy towards the city of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa.

      They say that the most right-wing and extreme government in the history of Israel is in the process of strengthening illegal settlements and changing the historical status of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

      Analyst Ayman al-Rafati tells The Cradle that the storming of the mosque’s courtyard, as well as the prevention of Jordanian Ambassador Ghassan al-Majali from entering the mosque in mid-January, have two implications:

      “The first is an attempt to break psychological deterrence that was established after the Battle of Sayf al-Quds (Sword of Jerusalem) in 2021, which erupted due to practices like this; The second is to reduce the margin of Jordanian guardianship over Al-Aqsa.”

      The occupation authorities also seek to replicate the Ibrahimi Mosque experience in the West-Bank city of Hebron (Al-Khalil) by dividing Al-Aqsa in time and space between Muslims and Jews.

      Israel hopes that the storming of the mosque will pass over without any significant backlash from the occupied-West Bank and Jerusalem, from the resistance fighters of Gaza, or from the Israeli left and center parties who raise concerns about its potential impact on state security and stability.

      However, the actions of Ben Gvir and the Israeli police, while dangerous, do not align with the aspirations of the Jewish Temple group extremists who seek to build a structure on the ruins of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

      Judaizing Al-Aqsa

      On the day Ben Gvir assumed office as minister of national security, Aviad Fisoli, the attorney for the new Sanhedrin council (the central rabbinical institution of extremist Temple settler groups) sent a letter to the Israeli police commissioner in Jerusalem requesting an audience with the minister to inform him of their demands and to determine the level of support they could expect from the government and police.

      The letter stipulated 11 demands, all of which would lead to the division of Al-Aqsa Mosque. These include:

      1. Extending the hours in which the extremists could storm the mosque;
      2. Allowing them to perform prayers and religious rituals inside the mosque;
      3. Opening the mosque to raids throughout the week; Allowing “sacred tools” into the mosque, including Torah scrolls, the Ark of the Covenant, trumpets, and plant and animal offerings;
      4. Establishing a Jewish synagogue inside Al-Aqsa Mosque;
      5. Ending police escorting of extremists;
      6. Allowing storming from all doors, not just the Mughrabi Gate controlled by the occupation authorities since 1967;
      7. Not barring the mosque from intruders during Islamic events;
      8. Declaring “equal rights” for all religions at Al-Aqsa;
      9. Cancelling the policy of ejecting Jews from the mosque;
      10. Opening the door of the synagogue in the historical Tanziah school – which overlooks the Al-Aqsa grounds – and is currently controlled by the Israeli Ministry of Security, to all Jews.

      In April 2022, the temple group extremists began a campaign to obtain permission for performing the Passover sacrifice in Al-Aqsa.

      The “Returning to the Temple Mount” movement, led by an extremist Jewish settler named Raphael Morris, sent a message to Ben Gvir in early January, asking for his help in facilitating the slaughter of the “Passover offering” in the courtyards of the mosque.

      In their letter, the group stated that the formation of a real right-wing government “is a golden opportunity to return the crown to its former glory and to renew the Passover sacrifice for the first time in about two thousand years.” They believe that this act “will be recorded in the pages of history as the beginning of the building of the third Temple.”

      ‘Development:’ a pretext for demographic engineering

      On the ground in Jerusalem, the settlers’ ambitions are being matched by ongoing state-sponsored excavations and the construction of roads and bridges. Mahmoud Abu Arqoub, a Palestinian guard stationed at Al-Aqsa Mosque, reveals to The Cradle that the Israeli police are preventing Jerusalemites and “Mourabitoun” (guards tasked with protecting Islamic holy sites from hostile non-believers) from restoring the dilapidated parts of the mosque.

      Meanwhile, multiple projects are being implemented to accommodate the increasing number of settlers who storm the mosque.

      According to the Palestine Information Center “Maata,” last year, around 55,000 settlers stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque, compared to 34,000 in 2021. Abu Arqoub also noted that in 2022, the Israeli government initiated a project to expand the wooden Mughrabi Bridge that connects Mughrabi Gate to Al-Buraq Square, which is used by settlers and “tourists” to enter the mosque courtyards.

      Adnan al-Husseini, the head of the Jerusalem Affairs Department in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), believes that the bridge expansion project aims to increase the number of settler intrusions and paves the way for the implementation of a large settlement project by facilitating access for motorized vehicles.

      Abu Arqoub predicts that “major unrest may break out in the month of Ramadan (next March) around the Damascus Gate. The occupation is imposing more restrictions on this region in preparation for its Judaization and annexation.”

      Under the guise of developing the transportation network, the Israelis are racing against time to seize more land from Jerusalemites. In mid-January, the local planning and construction committee in the Jerusalem municipality approved plans to build a light-rail transit track connecting east and west Jerusalem.

      They claim that the project is part of the “modern transportation revolution in Jerusalem to ease traffic congestion.” However, Jerusalemite researcher Nevine Najeeb posits that the track, set to be completed in 2028, will provide an excuse for the occupation municipality to seize more land and properties belonging to Jerusalemites. As Najeeb explains to The Cradle:

      “In the future, the occupation municipality will demand the demolition of homes that Jerusalemites have owned for hundreds of years because they stand in the way of the train, or to strengthen security measures around its track. This scenario was previously implemented by the occupation in the town of Shuafat nine years ago, when dozens were forced to leave their homes under the same pretext.”

      In parallel, the occupation authorities and temple groups continue to excavate tunnels beneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque. On 10 January, sources in Jerusalem revealed the discovery of a new tunnel that penetrates the wall of the Old City, four meters wide, extending from the town of Silwan to a point near the Mughrabi Gate.

      “The goal of the tunnels is to provide conditions for the demolition of Al-Aqsa Mosque as a result of natural factors, such as an earthquake, in order to avoid a comprehensive confrontation with the occupying power,” Najeeb explains.

      ‘Strangers in Jerusalem’

      The most dangerous Israeli development, however, is the implementation of the “Greater Jerusalem” plan, which seeks to change the demographic balance in the Holy City in favor of the Jewish population, as revealed by the Applied Research Institute in Jerusalem (ARIJ).

      In a report published in late 2022, the institute indicated that Israel had begun adding four large settlement blocs – Givat Ze’ev, Ma’aleh Adumim, Gush Etzion, and Psagot – to Jerusalem. This move is expected to decrease the percentage of Palestinians in the city’s population from 37 percent to 21 percent.

      In a press release, ARIJ director Jad Isaac stated that in 2022, the Israeli government approved several settlement projects, including the construction of 4,900 settlement units in Jerusalem, 9,000 units in the Atarot area north of the city, and the “Silicon Valley” settlement project spanning over 710,000 square meters in the Wadi al-Jouz neighborhood.

      Additionally, there are plans to transform the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and Silwan town into mixed neighborhoods by increasing the number of settlers residing there and issuing orders to evict Palestinians or demolish their homes.

      In 2022, ARIJ documented 138 cases of house demolitions and 273 settler encroachments on the lands of Jerusalemites. Furthermore, the Israeli occupation authorities initiated the “Land Settlement and Registration” project to seize more property, which may result in 80 percent of the land being registered as “absentee property,” making Palestinians “strangers in Jerusalem,” as noted by Isaac.

      The existential threat to Al-Quds

      Palestinians in the city are facing systematic alienation, with the occupation authorities attempting to prevent Palestinian schools from teaching the Palestinian curriculum. Last year, two schools had their licenses revoked under the pretext of teaching curricula that allegedly included “incitement against the Israeli state and army.”

      Approximately 45,500 students in Jerusalem, attending 146 schools affiliated with the Palestinian education system, are at risk of being forced to study the Israeli curriculum, according to the Faisal Husseini Foundation.

      Since the occupation of Jerusalem in 1967, all Israeli governments, both right and left, have pursued projects to Judaize the city. However, the current Israeli government, described by Israelis themselves as the most right-wing in Israel’s history, poses a greater threat to the city.

      There is an unprecedented opportunity for right-wing groups to Judaize the city and demolish the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Such a step is likely to ignite another conflict that may escalate into a major regional war, as leaders of resistance movements in Palestine, Lebanon, and elsewhere have repeatedly warned.

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


      FEBRUARY 24TH, 2023


      By Miko Peled

      here is a story about the Roman Emperor Nero, according to which he set  Rome on fire just so that he could see the flames. The story may or may not be true, but when Palestine is in flames, history will remember who lit the match.

      Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime minister of Israel, will be remembered as the reckless politician who gave Itamar Ben-Gvir the green light to set a fire that will consume Palestine and cause death and destruction, the scale of which has never been seen before.

      Thanks to Netanyahu, Ben-Gvir has attained authority and command over every Israeli agency that deals with the Palestinian people. Now it looks like Netanyahu and Ben-Gvir are about to see exactly what happens when you push Palestinians into a corner. The only question that remains to be answered is how Ben-Gvir, who is now at the helm of Israel’s entire internal defense apparatus, will deal with what could be the largest Palestinian uprising to date.

      Known to be a coward, a madman and an opportunistic racist thug, Ben-Gvir has never in his life managed, much less commanded, so much as a small shop. A piece in the New Yorker describes him as an activist, recruiter, and even a role model for the hate-filled racist movement he was eventually destined to lead.


      One issue that touches the heart of every Palestinian is the fate of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners suffering in Israeli jails. Israel has twenty-six facilities it uses to interrogate, detain and incarcerate Palestinians.

      map created by Addameer, a Palestinian focused on prisoner support and human rights, lists them all, shows their locations and reveals other details obtained over the years by the organization.

      Map of Prisons in Israel
      Source | Adameer

      As Minister of National Security, Ben-Gvir has total control over the agency that governs Palestinian prisons, giving him control over even the most minute aspect of the lives of people he regularly refers to as terrorists but, in fact, are legitimate political prisoners.

      Intending to demonstrate the iron fist with which he treats “terrorists” under his jurisdiction, Ben-Gvir recently announced the closure of bakeries that supply bread to Palestinian prisoners. He followed that announcement with a proclamation that prisoners would be allowed only four minutes to shower moving forward, after which Israeli authorities would shut the water off.

      Palestinian prisoners did not delay in their response to Ben-Gvir. In a letter published in Hebrew, the prisoners declared a “revolt” against Ben-Gvir, which, if past occurrences are any indication, could ignite the entirety of Palestine.

      The prisoners’ letter, addressed to Israeli journalist Elior Levi, was written by the leadership of the Palestinian Prisoners movement. In it, they announce the beginning of a revolt in response to the harsh measures taken by Ben-Gvir. They also announced an all-out hunger strike at the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

      Ben-Gvir’s cruelty, the letter says, will not only lead to a revolt within prison walls but also threatens to ignite all of Palestine. As history has taught, this is no empty threat but an actual warning. Ramadan is around the corner, and it is a time when tensions between Palestanians and Israelis are already very high, particularly around Jerusalem.

      Ben-Gvir’s crackdown also extends to Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem, pushing the embattled city’s Palestinian leadership to declare a general strike and campaign of civil disobedience. The results are roads being blocked with burning tires, the Jerusalem police raiding neighborhoods, arresting Palestinians and sometimes demolishing their family members’ homes and other structures.


      The Muslim Holy month of Ramadan, which is based on the lunar calendar and therefore beings at varying times every year, is expected to begin around March 22 and last until April 21. The Jewish Passover holiday, also based upon the lunar calendar, takes place this year from April 5 to April 13, in other words, right in the middle of Ramadan. Under normal circumstances, this is of little consequence, but in Palestine, it is an explosion waiting to happen.

      During Ramadan, a holy month for Muslims where prayer and worship are central, Israeli authorities ease some restrictions on Palestinians wishing to travel to Jerusalem to pray at Al-Aqsa, the second holiest site for Muslims. Millions of Palestinians brave checkpoints and more to pray at Al-Aqsa during Ramadan, particularly on Fridays. But in the last few years, even before Ben-Gvir took power, tensions have risen as Jewish extremists, defended by heavily armed Israeli forces, have entered the Holy Sanctuary and Al-Aqsa, sometime defiling the holy site and almost always leading to clashes with Palestanians intent on defending their sacred place.

      Israel al-Aqsa
      An Israeli policeman stands by as medics rescue a man wounded by Israeli forces during Ramadan clashes at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, May 10, 2021. Mahmoud Illean | AP

      During the Jewish holidays, those same Israeli authorities impose a near-total lockdown on Palestinians. The ghettos of the West Bank are locked, and checkpoints are closed.

      During this most sensitive time, when a major Jewish holiday falls at the same time as a major Muslim one, one would hope for a leader with intellect who is sensible and, perhaps more importantly, sensitive to the needs of all parties. Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is in charge of these complicated and potentially explosive arrangements, is definitely not that person. Yet, Netanyahu has placed him in charge.

      So what are the odds that the palace will be set on fire to an extent which has yet to be seen? Very high. Take the prisoner issue, throw in Jerusalem, a checkpoint closure, and add the Jewish holidays and Ramadan altogether. Now put a racist madman who gets excited by the sight of Palestinian blood in charge of all of this, and what would you expect?


      For years, people have wondered whether another Intifada will break out. And indeed, an ongoing low-level uprising has been occurring this entire time. However, considering the abovementioned elements, a massive, all-out uprising can be expected soon.

      People of conscience worldwide need to get ready to throw their support behind the Palestinian people in unprecedented ways. It is not enough to march and demonstrate anymore. People need to push their local and national governments, the press, and the business community to support the Palestinian struggle actively.

      This volatile situation is just waiting to explode, so there is no reason to wait. We would do well to urgently demand guarantees for the safety and security of the Palestinian people. We must demonstrate to the communities in which we live and operate that a scenario in which Palestinian lives have no value cannot go on. Israel – and any governments supporting it or companies doing business with it – must be held accountable.

      The international community must sanction Israel and hold it to account for every hair that falls from the head of a Palestinian child. The time is now because Netanyahu and Ben-Gvir delight at the prospect of seeing Palestine in flames.

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