The Zionist Psy-warfare: ‘Israel’ Used Fake Accounts During Gaza War

March 23, 2023

By Al-Ahed News

In a piece entitled ‘Israeli’ Army Conducted Online Psy-op Against ‘Israeli’ Public During Gaza War, Haaretz detailed how the Zionist military used bots and fake social media accounts during May 2021 war on Gaza.

The ‘Israeli’ military spokesperson’s unit conducted a psychological warfare operation against Zionist settlers during the May 2021 campaign in Gaza, the ‘Israeli’ paper noted.

“Israeli” soldiers took to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok and uploaded images and clips of the army’s strikes in Gaza using the hashtag #Gazaregrets with captions such as “Why do they only show ‘Israel’ being attacked instead of our own strikes in Gaza? We have to show everyone how strong we are!” and “Share so that everyone can see how we retaliate big time” or “Making sure Gaza regrets…”

According to Haaretz, this “propaganda campaign” was launched several days into the fighting, after the ‘Israeli’ military Spokesperson’s Unit felt that the ‘Israeli’ public was more impressed by the rocket strikes launched against ‘Israel’ by Gaza than by the ‘Israeli’ military’s actions inside the Strip. According to internal discussions, the unit’s use of fake accounts – “bots” – was meant to prevent its “attribution” to the army. This, the Zionist military hoped, would make it look authentic, as if it originated organically from the public.

To echo the campaign further, the Spokesperson’s Unit discreetly teamed up with two popular ‘Israeli’ Instagram accounts – @idftweets and @pazam_gram – which have hundreds of thousands of followers. On the first day of this campaign, @idftweets shared posts and stories of an ‘Israeli’ military strike with the hashtag #Gazaregrets. The content received hundreds of likes and enthusiastic comments like “kill them all” or “why are any buildings still standing in Gaza?” @pazam_gram followed suit with stories on their accounts.

The Zionist military Spokesperson’s Unit also intended to use social media influencers in order to sway the ‘Israeli’ public opinion.

It is unclear if the Zionist military paid the Instagram account holders for their services, Haaretz said. According to a source familiar with the inner workings of the unit, this is not the only time such cooperation has taken place.

The Campaigns Unit within the department operates as a kind of media office for the Zionist military and organizes internal and external campaigns to raise awareness of the army’s different units and military issues. It was headed at the time by Yuval Horowitz, a settler contracted as a marketing campaigner, who now works for Keshet Media. The unit is staffed by reservists who work as advertisers and designers.

The ‘Israeli’ military had employed for years

By Al-Ahed News

In a piece entitled ‘Israeli’ Army Conducted Online Psy-op Against ‘Israeli’ Public During Gaza War, Haaretz detailed how the Zionist military used bots and fake social media accounts during May 2021 war on Gaza.

The ‘Israeli’ military spokesperson’s unit conducted a psychological warfare operation against Zionist settlers during the May 2021 campaign in Gaza, the ‘Israeli’ paper noted.

“Israeli” soldiers took to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok and uploaded images and clips of the army’s strikes in Gaza using the hashtag #Gazaregrets with captions such as “Why do they only show ‘Israel’ being attacked instead of our own strikes in Gaza? We have to show everyone how strong we are!” and “Share so that everyone can see how we retaliate big time” or “Making sure Gaza regrets…”

According to Haaretz, this “propaganda campaign” was launched several days into the fighting, after the ‘Israeli’ military Spokesperson’s Unit felt that the ‘Israeli’ public was more impressed by the rocket strikes launched against ‘Israel’ by Gaza than by the ‘Israeli’ military’s actions inside the Strip. According to internal discussions, the unit’s use of fake accounts – “bots” – was meant to prevent its “attribution” to the army. This, the Zionist military hoped, would make it look authentic, as if it originated organically from the public.

To echo the campaign further, the Spokesperson’s Unit discreetly teamed up with two popular ‘Israeli’ Instagram accounts – @idftweets and @pazam_gram – which have hundreds of thousands of followers. On the first day of this campaign, @idftweets shared posts and stories of an ‘Israeli’ military strike with the hashtag #Gazaregrets. The content received hundreds of likes and enthusiastic comments like “kill them all” or “why are any buildings still standing in Gaza?” @pazam_gram followed suit with stories on their accounts.

The Zionist military Spokesperson’s Unit also intended to use social media influencers in order to sway the ‘Israeli’ public opinion.

It is unclear if the Zionist military paid the Instagram account holders for their services, Haaretz said. According to a source familiar with the inner workings of the unit, this is not the only time such cooperation has taken place.

The Campaigns Unit within the department operates as a kind of media office for the Zionist military and organizes internal and external campaigns to raise awareness of the army’s different units and military issues. It was headed at the time by Yuval Horowitz, a settler contracted as a marketing campaigner, who now works for Keshet Media. The unit is staffed by reservists who work as advertisers and designers.

The ‘Israeli’ military had employed for years psychological warfare against its enemies in an attempt to undercut their narratives, influence the population [in Gaza, Lebanon and Iran for example] and tout its operational achievements. A psychological warfare unit was formed in 2005 under the aegis of Military Intelligence. They also tried influencing an enemy’s public discourse to sow uncertainty, undermine the credibility of the ruling power’s messaging and encourage public pressure on their respective leadership. Most of these activities were conducted covertly and relay information intended to serve the Zionist entity in one way or another.

Israel Palestine Gaza IsraeliMilitary

warfare against its enemies in an attempt to undercut their narratives, influence the population [in Gaza, Lebanon and Iran for example] and tout its operational achievements. A psychological warfare unit was formed in 2005 under the aegis of Military Intelligence. They also tried influencing an enemy’s public discourse to sow uncertainty, undermine the credibility of the ruling power’s messaging and encourage public pressure on their respective leadership. Most of these activities were conducted covertly and relay information intended to serve the Zionist entity in one way or another.

Israel Palestine Gaza IsraeliMilitary

Zoom-in Video: Hezbollah Not Giving ‘Israel’ Breathing Space on Lebanon’s Border

 March 22, 2023

The Islamic Resistance Military Media Department posted a zoom-in video that shows the evacuation of the Zionist soldiers injured in the landmine blast on Lebanon’s border.

Three Israeli soldiers were injured on Tuesday in a landmine explosion off the Lebanese town of Aita Al-Shaab, according to Al-Manar reporter.

The high-quality video displays all the Israeli operations of evacuating the injured soldiers and their screams with the arbitrary movement of the enemy’s vehicles.

The Zionist enemy has been accustomed to Hezbollah media messages which carry strategic implications pertaining the conflict between the two sides.

Source: Al-Manar English Website


Syria: A State that Withstood a Global War and Emerged Victorious (Part I)

 March 21, 2023

Illustrative photo prepared by Al-Manar Website on the 12th anniversary of the war in Syria.

Somaya Ali

Translated by Areej Fatima Husseini

“No external factor enables a government or an army to stabilize, unless this government and this army enjoy a popular support that safeguard them.”

Egypt’s former Assistant Foreign Minister Hussein Al-Haridi in a recent interview

The pre-planned war in Syria has spanned twelve years and is still ongoing. It is well known that this warfare is not limited to battlegrounds but rather takes various economic, social, and political forms, in a bid to deplete President Bashar Al-Assad’s government. Surprisingly, all of these endeavors, however, were futile.

The Gloomy Tunnel

The arrest of two men in Daraa in March 2011 and the eventual outbreak of sporadic demonstrations in several regions, formed the full-fledged launch of a bloody scenario or even a global war that later appeared that it has been previously plotted. That was at a time when the entire region was experiencing “revolutions” dubbed as the “Arab Spring.”

It has been clear that all intents and schemes including the normalization of ties with the Zionist enemy- through subduing all resistance movements- as well as compensating for the defeat in Iraq, pass through Syria.

Soon after, Western powers, led by the United States, joined Arab countries in raising slogans such as “the freedom of the Syrian people” and “human rights in Syria.” Such moves were aimed at overthrowing the Syrian government’s legitimacy, neglecting thousands of Syrians who protested in support of President Al Assad.

In June 2012, world powers assembled in Geneva to declare “the necessity of a political transition.”

This declaration was only a pretext for escalating the demonstrations into a major military clash, resulting in the formation of organizations such as the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) and the ” Jaysh al-Islam” (Army of Islam). These organizations comprised Syrians as well as a significant number of mercenaries from other Arab and Western countries, all with diverse backgrounds and agendas, who flocked to attack Damascus.

Since then, Syria has entered a dark tunnel: the country’s unity and sovereignty have been shattered, with almost all areas divided into pro and anti-regime factions. The emergence of Takfiri factions such as “Jabhat Al-Nusra” and “Ahrar Al-Sham” on the battlefield heightened the tensions.

Then in January 2014, the ISIL terrorist group took control of Raqqa and set out to govern vast areas of Syria and Iraq. Backed by regional and Western governments, these organizations have committed the most heinous terrorist acts against the Syrian people, as well as looting riches and systematically destroying the country’s infrastructure.

In addition to the military conflict, fierce media campaigns have intensified, relying on false flag chemical attacks in a bid to defame the Syrian government while disregarding the crimes committed by so-called “opposition factions.”

Syria Battles Bravely

Amid this reality, the Syrian state and its army stood firmly to protect the governing system and fortify Damascus, which had become a target for terrorists. The fall of the capital would have dealt President Assad a tremendous blow.

In September 2014, the US directly engaged in the struggle, organizing a coalition and assisting Kurdish factions under the pretext of eradicating “ISIL” in northern Syria. Later in 2015, and under the request of the Syrian government, Russia joined the war in a bid to aid Damascus in counter-terror operations.

This was a crucial turning point in the warfare, along with Iran’s and Hezbollah’s key roles in the battlefield and victories in more than one strategic battle, such as the clashes of Qusayr and Aleppo.

This video diplays scene of the couter-terror operations in Syria.

Such turning point reflected on Damascus’ recontrol of swathes of the Syrian territory, as well as keeping the threat of terror away from the capital and Aleppo. This was in addition to preventing Turkey, which aided the armed groups, from reaching its aim of dominating that region and eventually beating “ISIL” in the Syrian Badiya battles.

At the time when the military developments were unfolding in Syria, there was a political course emerging. Hence, when Russia, Iran, and the Syrian Army imposed a new status quo in the battlefield, the “Astana Talks” was established. The peace process came after the West and the UN yielded no substantive progress in the negotiations between the government and the so-called opposition, which remained split and withdrew the battlefield in favor of terrorist organizations.

Wary of Kurdish presence in Syria’s north, Turkey joined, afterwards, the Astana Talks as a guarantor state. This political process, which culminated in several rounds, concluded in a settlement, primarily brokered by the Russians and Turks in September 2018. The settlement involved Idlib and the northwest, which has been under terrorist control, resulting in a halt to fighting on those fronts.

Syria’s Outlook in 2020

On the eve of 2020, the Syrian state maintained control, as it had not done for the past nine years, except in the north, where the conflict created a kind of status quo represented by the limited presence of the US forces through several military bases. Undoubtedly, those bases were later utilized as a springboard for stealing oil and wheat. Also, there was a limited Turkish presence in the area under the pretext of countering the so-called Kurdish expansion.

On the other hand, the Israeli enemy found no means to voice concern over the failure of its allies and the victory of its foes. Thereupon, it occasionally breaches Syria’s airspace and launches strikes.

Despite this scenario in the country’s north, almost 12 years of war did not affect Syria’s Arabian identity, as the idea of its federalization had been buried.

This war has resulted in creating a powerful “Axis of Resistance” that extends from Iran through Iraq to Syria, then to Lebanon and Palestine. Consequently, Washington unleashed an economic warfare through the “Caesar” sanctions, depleting the Syrians who stood by their government.

In mid-2020, the Coronavirus pandemic spread all over the world, resulting in a stalemate in the Syria negotiations. Yet, the sanctions remained the most prominent feature in Syrians’ diaries.

Then in 2022, when the pandemic subsided, the war between Russia and the West in Ukraine commenced, casting a shadow across the entire world. The impasse was broken here by multiple communications reaching the gates of the presidential palace in Damascus, indicating what may be dubbed the “great turning point.” So, what happened, and what were the causes and effects?

To be continued in Part II.

Source: Al-Manar Website

In the War Between Judaism and Democracy in Israel, Anything Is Possible

March 19, 2023

Former British diplomat, founder and director of the Beirut-based Conflicts Forum.

Alastair Crooke

Bibi is by nature cautious – even timid. His radical ministers, however, are not, Alastair Crooke writes.

Michael Omer-Man writes: Almost exactly 10 years ago, a young star rising in the Likud party, spoke to an audience committed to the outright annexation of the occupied Palestinian territories, laying out his blueprint. A year later, this same speaker set out certain prerequisites to full annexation: Firstly, a shift in the way the Israeli public thinks about a ‘two-state solution’ for Palestine; and secondly, a radical recast of the legal system “that will allow us to take those steps on the ground … that advance sovereignty”.

What was reflected in this statement is the structural dichotomy inherent within the ‘idea’ of ‘Israel’: What then is ‘Israel’? One side holds that Israel was founded as a ‘balance’ between Jewishness and Democracy. The other says ‘nonsense’; it was always the establishment of Israel on the “Land of Israel”.

Ami Pedahzur, a political scientist studying the Israeli Right, explains that the religious Right “has always considered the Israeli Supreme Court to be an abomination”. He points out that the extremist Meir Kahane “once wrote extensively about the tension between Judaism and democracy and the need for a Sanhedrin [a biblical system of judges] instead of the extant Israeli judicial system”.

In Israel’s attempt to balance these opposing visions and interpretations of history, the Israeli Right sees the judiciary as deliberately having been tilted toward democracy (by one part of the Israeli élite). This simmering tension finally exploded with the 1995 Supreme Court claim that it possessed power of judicial review over Knesset (parliamentary) legislation deemed to be in conflict with Israel’s quasi-constitutional Basic Laws. (An Israeli constitution has been considered since 1949, but never actuated.)

Well, that ‘young star’ of 10 years ago – who asserted so forcefully “We cannot accept … a judicial system that is controlled by a radical leftist, post-Zionist minority that elects itself behind closed doors – dictating to us its own values – today is Israel’s Justice Minister, Yariv Levin.

And with time, Netanyahu has indeed already brought about that first prerequisite (outlined by Levin almost a decade ago): The Israeli public perspective on the two-state Olso formula is radically changed. Political support for that project hovers close to zero in the political sphere.

More than that, today’s Prime Minister, Netanyahu, explicitly shares the same ideology as Levin and his colleagues – namely that Jews have a right to settle in any, and all, parts of the ‘Land of Israel’; he also believes that the very survival of the Jewish people is dependent on the actuation of that divine obligation into practice.

Many on the Israeli Right, Omer-Man suggests, therefore see the Supreme Court as “the central impediment to their ability to fulfil their annexationist dreams, which for them are a combination of messianic and ideological commandments”.

They saw the 1995 Supreme Court ruling as ‘a coup’ that ushered in the judiciary’s supremacy over law and politics. This is a view that is hotly contested – to the point of near civil war – by those who advocate for democracy versus a strict Judaic vision of religious law.

From the perspective of the Right, Ariel Kahana notes that although

“they have continued to win time and again – but they have never held power in the true sense of the word. Through the judiciary, the bureaucracy, the defence establishment, academia, cultural elites, the media, and some of the economic wheelers and dealers, the Left’s doctrine continued to dominate Israel’s power foci. In fact, regardless of who the cabinet ministers were, the old guard has continued with its obstructionist insurgency”.

Today, however, the numbers are with the Right – and we are witnessing the Israeli Right’s counter-coup: a judicial ‘reform’ which would centralize power in the Knesset – precisely by dismantling the legal system’s current checks and balances.

Ostensibly this schism constitutes the crisis bringing hundreds of thousand Israelis on to the street. Prima Facie, in much of the media, at issue is who has the final word: the Knesset or the Supreme Court.

Or, is it? For, beneath the surface, unacknowledged and mostly unsaid, is something deeper: It is the conflict between Realpolitik versus Completion of the Zionist project. Put starkly, the Right says it’s clear: Without Judaism we have no identity; and no reason to be in this land.

The ‘less said’ fact is that much of the electorate actually agrees with the Right in principle, yet opposes the full annexation of the West Bank on pragmatic grounds: “They believe that the status quo of a “temporary” 55-plus-year military occupation is the more strategically prudent”.

“Formally [annexing West Bank] would make it too difficult to convince the world that Israel is not an apartheid regime in which half of the population — Palestinians — are denied basic democratic, civil, and human rights”.

That other unresolved contradiction (that of continuing occupation within ‘democracy’) is also submerged by the prevalent mantra of ‘Right wing Orbánism versus democracy’. Ahmad Tibi, an Palestinian member of the Knesset earlier has wryly noted: “Israel indeed is ‘Jewish and democratic’: It is democratic toward Jews – and Jewish toward Arabs”.

The mass of protestors gathered in Tel Aviv carefully choose to avoid this oxymoron (other than around the kitchen table) – as a Haaretz editorial a few days ago made clear: “Israel’s opposition is for Jews only”.

Thus, the crisis that some are warning could lead to civil war at its crux is that between one group – which is no longer content to wait for the right conditions to arrive to fulfil the Zionist dream of Jewish sovereignty over the entire Land of Israel – versus an outraged opposition that prefers sticking to the political tradition of buying time by “deciding not to decide”, Omer-Man underlines.

And although there are ‘moderates’ amongst the Likud lawmakers, their concerns are eclipsed by the exultant mood at their party’s base:

“Senior Likud officials, led by Netanyahu, have incited Likud voters against the legal system for years, and now the tiger is out of control. It has its trainer in its jaws and threatens to crush him if he makes concessions”.

The flames lick around Netanyahu’s feet. The U.S. wants quiet; It does not want a war with Iran. It does not want a new Palestinian Intifada – and will hold Netanyahu’s feet to the flames until he ‘controls’ his coalition allies and returns to an Hebraic ‘quietism’.

But he can’t. It’s not possible. Netanyahu is held limp in the tiger’s jaws. Events are out of his control.

A prominent member of Likud’s central committee told Haaretz this week:

“I don’t care if I have nothing to eat, if the army falls apart, if everything here is destroyed … The main thing is that they not humiliate us once again, and appoint Ashkenazi judges over us”.

The ‘second Israel’ genres have wailed against ‘the ten Ashkenazai judges’ who discredited their leader (Arye Dery), whilst breaking into a song of praise for the ‘only Sephardic judge’ who was sympathetic to Dery. Yes, the ethnic and tribal schisms form a further part of this crisis. (A bill that effectively would reverse the Supreme Court decision barring Dery from his ministerial position over previous corruption charges is currently making its way through the Knesset).

The appeal of Religious Zionism is often attributed to its growing strength amongst the young – particularly ultra-Orthodox men and traditional Mizrahi voters. What became abundantly clear and unexpected in recent weeks, however, is that the appeal of a racist such as Ben-Gvir, is spreading to the young secular left in Israel. Among young Israelis (ages 18 – 24), more than 70% identify today as Right.

Just to be clear: The Mizrahi ‘underclass’, together with the Settler Right, have ousted the ‘old’ Ashkenazi élite from their hold on power. They have waited many years for this moment; their numbers are there. Power has been rotated. The fuse to today’s particular crisis was lit long ago, not by Netanyahu, but by Ariel Sharon in 2001, with his entry to the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif).

Sharon had earlier perceived that a moment would arrive – with a weakened U.S. – when it might prove propitious for Israel to complete the Zionist project and seize all the ‘Land of Israel’. The plans for this venture have been incubating over two decades. Sharon lit the fuse – and Netanyahu duly took on the task of curating a constituency towards despising Oslo and the judicial system.

The project’s content is explicitly acknowledged: To annex the West Bank and to transfer any political rights of Palestinians remaining there to a new national state to the east of the River Jordan, on the site of what now is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. In the confusion and violence which would accompany such a move, Palestinians would be ‘persuaded’ to migrate to the ‘other bank’. As Hussein Ibish warned two weeks ago:

“We’re getting awfully close to the point where the Israeli government, and even Israeli society, could countenance a big annexation – and even expulsion [of Palestinians] – done in the middle of an outbreak of violence, and it would be framed as a painful necessity,” Ibish said. Such a move, he added, would be justified “as the government saying ‘We’ve got to protect Israeli settlers – they are citizens too – and we can’t let this go on anymore. Therefore we have to annex and even expel Palestinians.’”

To be fair, the unspoken fear of many secular protesters in Israel today, is not just that of being politically deposed, and their secular lifestyle circumscribed by religious zealots (though that is a major driver to sentiment), but rather, by the unspoken fear that to implement such a radical project against the Palestinians would lead to Regional war.

And ‘that’ is far from an unreasonable fear.

So there are two existential fears: One, that survival of the Jewish people is contingent on fulfilling the obligation to establish ‘Israel’ as ordained; and two, that to implement the consequent exodus of the Palestinians would likely result in the demise of the Israeli State (through war).

Suddenly and unexpectedly, into this fraught situation – with Netanyahu buffeted by a whirlwind of external and internal pressures – arrived a bombshell: Netanyahu was stripped of his ace card – Iran. In Beijing, China had secretly orchestrated not just the resumption of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, but laid down the framework for a regional security architecture.

This represents a nightmare for Washington and Netanyahu – particularly for the latter, however.

Since the early 1990s, Iran has served both these parties as the ‘bogey man’, by which to divert attention from Israel and the situation of the Palestinians. It has worked well, with the Europeans acting as enthusiastic collaborators in facilitating (or ‘mitigating’ – as they would see it), Israel’s ‘temporary’, 55-year occupation of the West Bank. The EU even financed it.

But now, that is blown away. Netanyahu may ‘huff and puff’ about Iran, but absent a Saudi and Gulf willingness to lend Arab legitimacy to any military action against Iran (with all the risks that entails), Netanyahu’ s ability to distract from the domestic crisis is severely limited. Any call to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities is an obvious non-starter in the light of the Iranian-Saudi rapprochement.

Netanyahu may not want a show-down with Team Biden, but that’s what is coming. Bibi is by nature cautious – even timid. His radical Ministers, however, are not.

They need a crisis (but only when the ‘prerequisites’ are all lined up). It is clear that the wholesale stripping of Palestinian rights, in tandem with the emasculation of the Supreme Court, is not a project that can be expected to quietly proceed in normal circumstances – especially in the present emotive state across the global sphere.

No doubt, the Israeli Right has been watching how the Lockdown ‘Emergency-crisis fear’ in Europe was used to mobilise a people to accept a compulsion and restrictions to life that in any other circumstance they would never rationally accept.

It won’t be a new pandemic emergency, of course, in the Israeli case. But the new Palestinian Authority-led ‘SWAT-squads’ arresting Palestinian resistance fighters in broad daylight is bringing the West Bank ‘pressure-cooker’ close to blow-out.

Ben Gvir may simply decide to follow in Sharon’s footsteps – to allow and participate in the Passover ceremony of sacrificing a lamb on Al-Aqsa (the Temple Mount) – as a symbol of the commitment to rebuild the ‘Third Temple’, permission for which, hitherto has always been denied.

So what happens next? It is impossible to predict. Will the Israeli military intervene? Will the U.S. intervene? Will one side back-down (unlikely says ex-Head of Israel’s National Security Council, Giora Eiland)? Yet even if the ‘Judicial reform’ is somehow halted, as one exasperated Israeli forecast, “Even if this time the attempt does not succeed, it’s likely that they [the Right] will try again in another two years, another five years, another 10 years. The struggle will be long and difficult, and no one can guarantee what the result will be.”

Mass Funeral for Palestinian Martyrs in Jenin after Brutal Israel Raid

March 17, 2023

Funeral of 4 Palestinian martyrs in Jenin (March 16, 2023).

Palestinians bid farewell to four martyrs who fell after Israeli occupation forces raided Jenin on Thursday.

Mass funeral were held in Jenin, hours after the attack that claimed the life of four Palestinians, including a 16-year-old boy.

Among the martyrs were Nidal Hazem, a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement’s Al-Quds Brigades and and Youssef Shreim, a member of Hamas’s Al-Qassam Brigades.

Another 20 Palestinians were wounded by gunfire, four of them seriously.

Thursday’s raid saw special forces from the Israeli occupation military along with the Shin Bet security service and Border Police enter the city center in the middle of the day.

A witness said the attack started after occupation forces arrived in two cars and stopped in the middle of a street.

Following the raid, Palestinian resistance movements warned the Israeli enemy that the blood of the martyrs won’t go in vain, vowing that the Palestinian people will go ahead with all forms of resistance against the occupation.

Israeli raids in the West Bank have become increasingly deadly since the start of the year, with occupation forces brutally attacking the Palestinian cities and towns, causing high number of casualties.

The number of Palestinians martyred since the start of 2023 has surpassed 80, Palestinian media reported.

Source: Palestinian and Israeli media (translated and edited by Al-Manar English Website)

Russian-Turkish ‘co-opetition’ from Syria to Nagorno-Karabakh

March 17 2023

At a time when conflicts are increasingly interconnected, and provide tactical levers to assert pressure elsewhere, the competition between Russia-Iran and Turkiye in Syria and the South Caucasus is destined to overlap.
Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Yeghia Tashjian

Despite their robust diplomatic relations, Turkiye has been in direct competition with Russia and Iran in two major Asian conflict zones, Syria and Nagarno-Karabakh, tying together the fates of the Levant and the South Caucasus in any future resolution.

While Ankara seeks to establish its authority over northern Syria and advance Turkic hegemony in key Caucasian states like Azerbaijan for geopolitical advantage, Moscow and Tehran’s goals in these two theaters are to reduce US influence and promote long-term economic interdependence between regional and local states that will stabilize and enrich the region.

Despite these differences, there has been a flurry of meetings between senior Syrian and Turkish officials, with Russia hosting direct dialogues between their respective defense ministers and intelligence agency chiefs.

The desire to garner pre-election voter favor by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the devastating earthquakes that struck the Turkish-Syrian border towns, have played a role in facilitating the recent rapprochement between Ankara and Damascus.

However, it is unlikely that there will be full diplomatic normalization anytime soon due to the status of Idlib, the militant stronghold in northern Syria currently controlled by Turkiye and its proxies. Russia currently appears to favor maintaining the status quo in Idlib until rapprochement talks advance further.

Leveraging conflicts against each other

The resolution of the Syrian crisis depends on the outcome of regional developments, international disputes, and ongoing diplomatic struggles between Ankara and Moscow as they seek to consolidate or expand their influence in different regions, including in Syria and the South Caucasus.

The two conflicts, particularly the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, share some similarities. Both regions are characterized by significant ethnic and religious diversity, are heavily influenced by regional powers Russia, Iran, and Turkiye, and are in the strategic sights of global superpowers such as China and the US. As a result, the two conflicts have become internationalized, and local actors are unable to reach a resolution without external guarantees.

The South Caucasus is composed of three states – Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan – each with a different foreign policy orientation. Georgia is committed to partnering with Euro-Atlantic and European institutions, while Armenia is a member of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) military alliance.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan and Turkiye are military allies that share similar worldviews, to the extent that Ankara’s decision to support one of the conflicting parties in Ukraine may prompt Baku to adopt a similar stance. Such is today’s increasing connection between local and international conflict – largely because major powers have inserted themselves into these regional disputes.

In addition, instability in the South Caucasus – a strategic geography for future trade routes that will empower Asia’s new hegemons – could create challenges that will impact trade and economic relations between regional states and their neighbors.

Recent developments indicate that Moscow believes its current troop deployment in Nagorno-Karabakh is sufficient to secure Russia’s long-term interests in Baku. However, this position is constantly challenged by Turkiye-backed Azerbaijan, especially following the signing of the Shushi Declaration on June 2021.

Azerbaijan: A major non-Nato ally

The declaration aimed to strengthen military, security, and diplomatic ties between the two Turkic countries and has led to Ankara’s regional ascension at Moscow’s expense. The Shushi Declaration has solidified Azerbaijan’s military and security relations with key NATO member Turkiye, with Baku reforming its army and increasing its special forces units using NATO standards.

According to Ahmad Alili from the Baku-based Caucasus Policy Analysis Center, Azerbaijan has transformed into a “major non-NATO ally” for Turkiye, similar to the role of Israel, Egypt, and Japan for the US:

“With Georgia having publicly declared NATO and EU aspirations, and Azerbaijan having closer military and diplomatic links with NATO member Turkiye, the region loses its ‘Russian backyard’ status and becomes a ‘Russian-Turkish’ playground.”

This development has prompted Moscow to increase its soft pressure over Baku and sign an “allied declaration” in February 2022 to solidify its political presence in the region. In the process, however, Armenia has found itself encircled by Turkiye and Azerbaijan without any land connection to Russia and thus, pushed into a corner.

Russian and Turkish ‘frenmity’  

Though Ankara and Moscow have an understanding of each other’s red lines in Syria, Turkiye’s aspiration to play a greater role in the South Caucasus has put its relationship with Russia to the test.

The 2020 outbreak of the second Nagorno-Karabakh war provided Turkiye with a unique opportunity to expand its influence in its immediate neighborhood – which has remained, since 1828, in Moscow’s sphere of national interest. To challenge Russia, Turkiye provided full active military and diplomatic support to Azerbaijan in its war against Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh.

During the war, both Moscow and Ankara played tit-for-tat against each other. Observers noticed that while Russia was rather defensive in its own South Caucasus “backyard,” it was prepared to go on the offensive in Syria by bombing Turkish and Turkiye-backed rebel positions in Idlib.

By exerting pressure on Ankara in the Syrian theater, Moscow was attempting to balance its vulnerabilities and put Turkiye on notice over their other competitions. It didn’t seem to work. Turkiye made an offensive play in Russia’s own backyard, inaugurating, in November 2020, the connection of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) to the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), which enables Caspian Sea gas to reach southern Europe through Turkiye, bypassing Russia.

This project is crucial for Ankara as it transforms Turkiye from an importer to a transit route for gas. The geopolitical nature of this project aims to decrease Europe’s gas dependency on Moscow.

Not seeing eye-to-eye

On the diplomatic front, Turkiye has attempted to launch an “Astana style” deconfliction process for Nagorno-Karabakh. However, Moscow has not been keen to engage on a purely bilateral track with Ankara in its post-Soviet regions, as this runs the risk of legitimizing Turkiye’s intervention and presence in Russia’s backyard.

For this reason, Maxim Suchkov, a Moscow-based expert at the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), explains that Russia chose not to directly intervene in the war, taking a “watch and see approach,” which distressed its Armenian ally to no end.

Suchkov noted that if Azerbaijan had managed to occupy Stepanakert, the Nagorno-Karabakh capital, Turkiye’s gambit would have paid off, and its influence in the region would only accelerate. But this would have led to the ethnic cleansing of Armenians and to Yerevan blaming Moscow for its inaction – and by losing its only regional military ally, Russia would have potentially lost the whole region. Instead, Russia tried to satisfy Baku while not completely alienating Yerevan, which was crushed during Baku’s autumn 2020 blitzkrieg.

Consequently, the 10 November, 2020 trilateral statement brokered by Russia that ended the Nagorno-Karabakh war did not favor Turkiye’s aspirations. Despite pushing for a complete Azerbaijani victory – or at least the deployment of Turkish peacekeepers alongside Russian forces – Ankara’s requests were denied.

Regardless, Turkiye has managed to become an active player in shaping the new geopolitical landscape of the region. While Russia has expressed dissatisfaction with Turkish intervention in its traditional sphere of influence and has established some “red lines,” it has also been forced to recognize Turkiye as a junior player in the region, though parity in the post-conflict regional order still remains in Moscow’s favor.

Post-2020 regional order

However, the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine has had a significant impact on the balance of power in the South Caucasus. As hostilities between the west and Russia continue to spike, the region has become a new confrontation zone, with Azerbaijan and Armenia both seeking to secure their vital interests under cover of the Great Power competition.

While Yerevan’s immediate interest is to protect the safety of the local Armenian population in Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan seeks to resolve the Karabakh issue through brute force, which, if successful, could greatly reduce Moscow’s regional clout, particularly as its peacekeeper mandate is set to expire in 2025.

Despite the 2020 trilateral statement, it appears that a long-lasting peace is still far off. A prime example of the many differences that remain unresolved between Yerevan and Baku is their contrasting interpretation of the statement’s ninth article.

Azerbaijan insists that Armenia must provide a “corridor” through Syunik (southern Armenia) to connect the Azerbaijani mainland to the Nakhichevan exclave, which Baku calls the “Zangezur corridor.”

Armenia rejects this claim, arguing that the article only references the restoration of communication channels (such as highways and railways), with both sides able to access and utilize the routes. But Baku has raised the stakes by threatening to block the Lachin corridor if Armenia does not provide access to the Syunik corridor. Yerevan, in turn, maintains that the status of the Lachin corridor should not be linked to the opening of these communication channels.

Iran’s red line

This has prompted neighboring Iran to make a “comeback” to the South Caucasus, by warning that any territorial changes to the Armenian-Iranian border would constitute a red line for Tehran. Iran believes that such changes could threaten its own geopolitical interests, which include its stake in the strategic Moscow-Tehran-New Delhi-backed International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

With Azerbaijan’s brutal blockade of the Lachin corridor – the only land route connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia – Russian troops remain the sole guarantors of the security of Karabakh Armenians. But contrary to what many analysts have predicted, the defeat of Armenia in the 2020 war has not diminished Russian influence in Armenia.

In fact, Russia has gained even more influence there, despite Yerevan’s growing frustration with Moscow’s inability to deter Azerbaijani attacks on sovereign Armenian territory. Baku officials have exacerbated matters by stating that they are not in favor of renewing the Russian peacekeeping mandate in 2025, and will instead push for the “reintegration” of the region into Azerbaijan.

If Baku succeeds in its objective and engages in demographic engineering in the region – forcing Armenians to leave Nagorno-Karabakh – there will no longer be a justification for Russian presence in the region, and Moscow will lose its leverage over the entire South Caucasus.

A Nagorno-Karabakh scenario in Syria?

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has highlighted Moscow’s success in preserving its influence in the region, despite Turkiye’s attempt to shrink Russian clout. However, the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, and its uncertain outcome, is also playing out in the South Caucasus.

As the world shifts from a US-led unipolar order to multipolarity, Azerbaijan and Armenia, like many other nations in conflict, are having to make strategic decisions on whether they align their interests with Russia or the west. Neutrality – when the major power stakes are this high – is unlikely to serve the vital interests of either country.

As such, mounting pressure on Erdogan to consolidate his power in Turkiye’s upcoming elections may force him to make concessions to one axis over the other. Such a move could have a significant impact on Baku and may lead to these “brotherly” nations ending up in opposing global camps.

Furthermore, the possibility of the US withdrawing its troops from northeastern Syria, coupled with the unclear political future of Syrian Kurds, their parallel economy, and autonomous governing structures, creates a risk of a sub-regional power vacuum.

This could push Turkiye and Russia towards managing or enhancing their cooperative rivalry, though it remains to be seen whether Russia can strike a game-changing deal between the Kurds and Damascus – which could gain Moscow leverage with Ankara in the South Caucasus.

The Ukraine war could present an obstacle to Russian diplomatic initiatives. Russia’s reluctance to counter Azerbaijan’s incursions and ceasefire violations after getting mired in the Ukraine war suggests that Moscow may not be up to the task of brokering a Nagorno-Karabakh-style peacekeeping scenario for Syria’s Kurds.

Hence, the Syrian crisis may remain frozen until relations between Ankara and Damascus are normalized – or Turkiye threatens further military attacks. The outcome of the Turkish elections on 14 May 2023 will undoubtedly play a significant role in this regard, both in Syria and the South Caucasus.

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

Remembering Peace Activist Rachel Corrie, Killed by Israeli Bulldozer 20 Years Ago

March 16, 2023

Rachel’s parents during a protest in Palestine (Photo: ISM)

20 years ago, American peace activist Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli bulldozer that was preparing to demolish a Palestinian home in southern Gaza.

On March 16, 2003, two years before Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, Corrie acted as a human shield in hopes of stopping a bulldozer operated by Israeli forces from demolishing a home in the Palestinian Rafah refugee camp.

Israeli forces operating a 60-tonne D9 bulldozer built by Caterpillar Inc continued moving toward Corrie as she stood her ground, running her over.

Twenty minutes after the bulldozer backed away, Corrie was pronounced dead.

Israel has since denied claims of responsibility, saying the incident was an accident, and accusing Corrie and other activists of illegal activity.

Born on April 10, 1979, in Olympia, Washington, Corrie dedicated her life to defending Palestinian rights. In 2003, she went to the Gaza Strip as a member of the International Solidarity Movement.

She was known for her love of peace and for defending Palestinian rights, frequently broadcasting photo essays exposing Israeli rights violations in the occupied territories.

The people of Gaza received news of her murder with grief and horror, describing her as a “martyr” and staging a massive funeral for the American activist.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

Israeli Forces Kill Four Palestinians, Including Child, in Jenin (VIDEO)

March 16, 2023

Omar Awadin, 16, is among the four Palestinians killed by Isreali undercover forces in Jenin. (Photo: via Social Media)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

Undercover Israeli occupation forces on Thursday killed four Palestinians, including a child in the city of Jenin, north of the occupied West Bank, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

The Ministry said in a statement that four Palestinians were killed by undercover Israeli occupation soldiers who broke into downtown Jenin.

The four Palestinians killed by Israeli forces were identified as Nedal Khazem, 28, Omar Awadin, 16, Yousef Khreim, 29, and Louay Khalil Al-Zughair, 37.

The Ministry added that over 20 Palestinians were injured, including five minors and four who are reported in critical condition.

Since the beginning of the year, Israeli forces have killed at least 88 Palestinians, including 16 children, in the occupied West Bank.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

Nablus resistance fiercely responds to Israeli incursion

March 16 2023

Israeli troops violently stormed Nablus’ Balata region to protect settlers who were on their way to Joseph’s Tomb

Settlers entering Joseph’s Tomb under protection from Israeli troops. July 2019. (Photo credit: IDF)

By News Desk

Israeli troops and settlers raided Balata village in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus in the early hours of 16 March, injuring three Palestinians and subjecting dozens to suffocation from tear gas, Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

The military raided the area to protect dozens of Israeli settlers who were being accompanied by the troops while on their way to visit Joseph’s Tomb.

According to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), three Palestinians were hit by live ammunition and were taken to the hospital. Palestinian ambulances were reportedly prevented from entering the Balata refugee camp.

As the Israeli army stormed Nablus’ eastern region, they deployed snipers across several buildings. Clashes started as a result, and Palestinian resistance fighters belonging to the Lions’ Den resistance group and other factions confronted the Israeli troops with gunfire.

Israeli troops were also targeted with Palestinian explosive devices, resulting in several injuries among their ranks.

“There are confirmed injuries after an Israeli infantry force was targeted with an explosive device during its storming of the Dahiya area in Nablus,” the Lions’ Den said in a statement.

تفجير عبوة ناسفة وسط جنود الاحتلال الذين يقتحمون المنطقة الشرقية في نابلس

— Hisham Abu Shaqrah | هشام أبو شقرة (@HShaqrah) March 15, 2023

“Our fighters also targeted a military jeep with a locally made explosive device on Amman Street in the eastern region of Nablus city,” the statement added.

🎥لحظة استهداف قوات الاحتلال بقنبلة محلية الصنع خلال اقتحام المنطقة الشرقية لمدينة #نابلس

— وكالة شهاب للأنباء (@ShehabAgency) March 15, 2023

There has been a marked increase in the use of explosive devices against Israeli troops by the Palestinian resistance, resulting in significant concerns across Israel’s security establishment.

Settlers are regularly escorted into the Joseph’s Tomb holy site under heavy protection from Israeli troops, who violently storm the area for the settlers to enter.

On Thursday morning, Israeli troops stormed other areas of the West Bank, detaining several Palestinians.

As the Palestinian resistance in the occupied West Bank spreads exponentially, Israeli troops have stepped up their violent raids.

Since the start of the year, Israel has killed at least 84 Palestinians. With Ramadan approaching, tensions are expected to ignite even further, as Israel is known to step up harsh security measures during the holy month.

On 14 March, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) resistance movement called on Palestinians in all the occupied territories to take up arms and launch a third intifada.




It has now been one week since Seymour Hersh published an in-depth report claiming that the Biden administration deliberately blew up the Nord Stream II gas pipeline without Germany’s consent or even knowledge – an operation that began planning long before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Based on interviews with national security insiders, Hersh – the journalist who broke the stories of the My Lai Massacre, the CIA spying program and the Abu Ghraib torture scandal – claims that in June, U.S. Navy divers traveled to the Baltic Sea and attached C4 explosive charges to the pipeline. By September, President Biden himself ordered its destruction. But, according to Hersh, all understood the stakes and the gravity of what they were doing, acknowledging that, if caught, it would be seen as a flagrant “act of war” against their allies.

Despite this, corporate media have overwhelmingly ignored the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter’s bombshell. A MintPress News study analyzed the 20 most influential publications in the United States, according to analytics company Similar Web, and found only four mentions of the report between them.

The entirety of the corporate media’s attention given to the story consisted of the following:

  • A 166-word mini report in Bloomberg;
  • One five-minute segment on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” (Fox News);
  • One 600-word round-up in The New York Post;
  • A shrill Business Insider attack article, whose headline labels Hersh a “discredited journalist” that has given a “gift to Putin.”

The 20 outlets studied are, in alphabetical order:

ABC News; Bloomberg News; Business Insider; BuzzFeed; CBS News; CNBC; CNN; Forbes; Fox News; The Huffington Post; MSNBC; NBC News; The New York Post; The New York Times; NPR; People Magazine; Politico; USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

Searches for “Seymour Hersh” and “Nord Stream” were carried out on the websites of each outlet and were then checked against precise Google searches and results from the Dow Jones Factiva news database.

This lack of interest cannot be explained due to the report’s irrelevance. If the Biden administration really did work closely with the Norwegian government to blow up Nord Stream II, causing billions of dollars worth of immediate damage and plunging an entire region of the world into a freezing winter without sufficient energy, it ranks as one of the worst terrorist attacks in history; a flagrant act of aggression against a supposed ally.

Therefore, if Biden did indeed order this attack, it is barely possible to think of a more consequential piece of news. Indeed, according to Hersh, all those involved – from Biden, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, Secretary of State Antony Blinken to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan – understood that what they were doing was “an act of war.”

The Nord Stream attack was also one of the world’s worst ecological disasters, constituting the largest single leak of methane in history – a gas 80 times worse for the planet than carbon dioxide at accelerating climate change.

“The media system has, predictably, tried to marginalize the report,” Bryce Greene, a writer and media critic who has closely followed the press’ lack of interest in scrutinizing the Nord Stream story, told MintPress, adding,

They don’t want to deal with the repercussions. It also reflects poorly on the profession…Even Jeffery Sachs in his Bloomberg interview said that journalists he knew personally understood that evidence, but also understood that the media system they worked in wouldn’t respond kindly to any suggestion of US complicity, so they kept quiet.”

Greene explained that bothersome facts about the war have consistently been swept under the rug, noting that,

This is indicative of the entire Ukraine War coverage. From hiding the history of NATO expansion, to calling Ukrainian Nazis Russian propaganda, to CBS even retracting a story about Ukrainian corruption. The fact that US media figures want to be seen as ‘on the good team’ or ‘on the right side of history’ means that they’re unwilling to confront reality as it exists.”


This complete radio silence from most of the country’s most influential news organizations is all the more remarkable, considering Hersh’s revelations have been all over newswire services. Reuters, for example, has published 14 separate reports on the topic since Thursday. Every large media outlet in America (and many medium-sized and even small ones) subscribes to Reuters, republishing content from their newswires.

One of the main tasks of a newsroom editor is to follow the newswire and follow up on Reuters’ content. This means that editors around the country have been bombarded with this story every day since it broke, and virtually every single one of them has passed on it – 14 consecutive times. Thus, even when repeatedly presented with free content to monetize, almost every newsroom in the U.S. decided against it. Independent, reader-supported media, however, have covered the story much more closely.

This is not to say that Reuters has been supportive of Hersh’s assertions. Its first article on the subject, for example, was entitled “White House says blog post on Nord Stream explosion ‘is utterly false,’” thereby allowing the Biden administration to set the agenda and downplay Hersh’s investigation as a mere blog post – something those in alternative media were quick to highlight. Hersh self-published his report on the online platform Substack – a fact that either undermines his findings or the credibility of the corporate media apparatus, depending on one’s perspective.

“The most incredible thing about the backlash against Hersh’s article on the U.S. blowing up the Nord Stream pipelines is the fact that it’s clear no establishment media outlet has any intention of carrying out the basic journalism needed to confirm or refute what he’s reported,” wrote journalist and MintPress contributor Jonathan Cook.

Other journalists, particularly those connected to the Western intelligence services, were scathing of the report. “The only people Hersh impresses any more [sic] are the sort of people who carry water for Putin and Assad, or the terminally dumb,” quipped Bellingcat’s Eliot Higgins. Christo Grozev, another Bellingcat writer, labeled Hersh “senile,” “corrupt,” and an “obsessive liar” whose “irresponsible single-anonymous-source reporting by a name with legacy authority is among the worst damage to journalism anyone ever caused.”

Fact-checking website Snopes also sprung into action, calling Hersh’s claim a “conspiracy” that rested on a single “omnipotent anonymous source.”

In an interview with the Radio War Nerd podcast, Hersh fired back, claiming:

The New York Times and the Washington Post have just ignored me. What they think I should do is use [the source’s] name, get him put in jail, stuff like that, which would end my career. I’ve been doing this for 50 years. My Lai started in 1969, and I will tell you something…I will protect people.”

He also noted that he actually cultivated multiple corroborative sources for the story.


According to Hersh’s source, last June, under the cover of an international NATO exercise happening in the area, U.S. Navy divers based in Panama City, Florida, planted remotely-triggered C4 explosives on a section of the pipeline. Then, three months later, the order was given to blow it up. Navy divers were assisted by the Norwegian military, who found the perfect location; calm and shallow water just off the coast of Bornholm Island, Denmark.

An earlier Nord Stream pipeline was already supplying Germany and Western Europe with Russian gas, providing a cheap and readily available source of fuel to heat and power the continent. With the introduction of the second pipeline, Europe would have become effectively energy-independent of the United States, raising the possibility that the continent might move in a neutral or independent political direction too, creating a powerful regional bloc of its own rather than the current Atlanticist (i.e., U.S.-dominated) model that prevails. The 760-mile pipeline travels along the Baltic Sea floor, from western Russia to northeastern Germany, transporting liquified natural gas into homes and businesses throughout Europe. As such, it represents a vastly more cost-efficient form of energy than purchasing American liquified national gas or fracked oil – something Washington had been leaning hard on Europe to switch to.

Successive White House administrations had long made their opposition to the new, multi-billion dollar project publicly known. But Hersh alleges that the Biden administration began planning the sabotage in 2021, many months before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Nord Stream 2 Sanctions Feature photo
Tubes are stored in Sassnitz, Germany, during construction of the natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 2, Dec. 6, 2016. Jens Buettner | DPA via AP

The choice to use Navy divers rather than members of America’s Special Operations Command was reportedly down to secrecy. Unlike Special Ops, by law, Congress, the Senate and House leadership do not need to be briefed about Navy operations. “The Biden Administration was doing everything possible to avoid leaks,” Hersh wrote.

Nevertheless, many in the know had cold feet. “Some working guys in the CIA and the State Department were saying, ‘Don’t do this. It’s stupid and will be a political nightmare if it comes out,’” Hersh’s source said.

In the end, Biden himself gave the mission the green light, and three months after it was completed, Washington pressed the button, destroying the pipeline.

In the immediate aftermath of the destruction, Western corporate media were coy about the culprit, even suggesting that Vladimir Putin himself was by far the number one suspect in the case. They also actively suppressed any other opinions on the matter, sometimes to a near-comical degree. Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs, for example, was abruptly taken off the air by Bloomberg as he ran through circumstantial evidence suggesting Western forces could be behind the attack.


Hersh’s account adds weight to Sachs’ assertions. But is it credible? On the one hand, Hersh is a veteran investigative journalist who has built a stellar reputation over decades, working closely with government sources to break important news stories. On the other, his bombshell relies almost entirely on unnamed sources. It is standard journalistic practice to name and check sources. The Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics states that “reporters should use every possible avenue to confirm and attribute information before relying on unnamed sources” and that they must “always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity” because too many “provide information only when it benefits them.”

Without a name to go with a claim, there are no consequences for sources (or journalists, for that matter) simply lying to further their agenda. Hersh, therefore, is implicitly asking readers to trust his credibility and his judgment. Moreover, Hersh’s sources are government and intelligence insiders. Part of their role is placing false or inaccurate information into the public domain to further the state’s agenda. Journalistically speaking, then, anonymous government or intelligence officials are about the least credible sources imaginable.

Nevertheless, it seems clear that, given Washington’s war on whistleblowers, no source would ever publicly disclose this sort of information unless they were ready to risk decades in prison. Therefore, they could reasonably qualify for anonymity.

Greene took a nuanced position on the story’s credibility, stating,

Is everything Hersh alleged correct? While it would surprise me if there were evidence of any other power being behind the pipeline explosion – which would mean Hersh’s report is a complete fabrication – it would not be surprising if a few of Hersh’s details don’t line up, but that is common in journalism, and not always the result of bad faith or incompetence.

“The thing to remember is Hersh’s sources are in the world of military and intelligence. They will lie, exaggerate, obfuscate – and of course get things wrong by mistake,” Greene added, “But The compartmentalized nature of any bureaucracy – and the intelligence world especially – means that the full picture is sometimes murky, even to those considered to be ‘in the know.’ The fact that Hersh’s source knows so much detail is remarkable but certainly not implausible given the history of high-level leakers.”


If the United States did indeed sabotage Nord Stream II, it was one of the least well-hidden and most signposted attacks in history. The U.S. and NATO had, for years, publicly made clear that they were exploring options to stop the project.

A few weeks before the Russian invasion last February, Biden summoned German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to the White House, where the president made him participate in a bizarre press conference in which Biden stated, “If Russia invades — that means tanks or troops crossing the border of Ukraine — then there will be no longer a Nord Stream II. We will bring an end to it.”

The event had the air of an adult chastising a misbehaving child, yet Biden was, in effect, telling Scholz to his face that his country’s infrastructure might face a U.S. attack.

To be fair to the president, he was merely repeating what many in his administration had been publicly saying for months. Both Victoria Nuland and State Department Spokesperson Ned Price had independently stated that “one way or another, Nord Stream II will not move forward.”

Likewise, after the attack, the U.S. barely tried to hide its satisfaction. “This is a tremendous opportunity,” Antony Blinken beamed. The Secretary of State continued,

It’s a tremendous opportunity to once and for all remove the dependence on Russian energy, and thus to take away from Vladimir Putin the weaponization of energy as a means of advancing his imperial designs. That’s very significant and that offers tremendous strategic opportunity.”

NordStream Pipeline feature photo
Police accompany a protest against sanctions on Russia while a banner with the inscription “Open Nordstream 2 immediately” is held, Sept 05, 2022. Sebastian Willnow | DPA via AP

Other prominent officials thought U.S. culpability for the blast was so obvious that they assumed that they would take credit for it rather than claim Russia carried out a false flag attack. Member of the European Parliament and former Foreign Minister of Poland, Radek Sikorski, for example, tweeted out a picture of the blast with the words “Thank you, USA.” Sikorski, married to U.S. national security state insider Anne Applebaum, later deleted his post.

For Greene, the United States is near the top of the list of potential culprits. As he explained,

The charge of U.S. complicity is supported by a good deal of circumstantial evidence: The clearest answer to the ‘cui bono’ [who benefits?] question is obviously the U.S. Even before Hersh’s reporting, German officials reportedly said they were open to the idea of Western complicity. So in that sense, Hersh’s reporting is in line with what we already know (and what the mainstream media refuses to seriously discuss).”

Certainly, Washington has significantly benefited from the explosion. Its major competitor (Russia) has been seriously economically weakened, and European purchases of expensive American liquified natural gas have more than doubled since last year. Norway, too, has gained from the blast and is now Germany’s principal supplier of gas, allowing it to make billions in profits.


Born in 1937 into a working-class Jewish immigrant family, Hersh cut his teeth as a crime reporter in early 1960s Chicago. He first came to national attention in 1969, however, when he exposed the massacre of hundreds of Vietnamese civilians by U.S. troops at My Lai – a scoop that won him the Pulitzer Prize. His revelations were far from welcome in establishment media, though, and he had to fight to get even a small startup newswire to take a chance on his story.

In 1974, Hersh again caused a national scandal after exposing a massive Nixon-era CIA spying operation targeting hundreds of thousands of left-wing activists, anti-war dissidents and other anti-establishment figures. Again, far from being heralded, the majority of the corporate press attempted to defend the national security state and discredit him and his reporting.

Thirty years later, he dropped yet another bombshell on the American public, exposing the U.S.’ widespread torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison.

Whether it was reporting on the U.S.’ role in the 1973 coup in Chile or undermining the Obama administration’s claims on chemical weapons attacks in Syria, Hersh has courted controversy and attracted flak throughout his career. Yet his fearlessness has won him respect the world over. As journalist Glenn Greenwald stated,

Seymour Hersh is beyond any reasonable dispute one of the two or three most accomplished, important and courageous journalists of his generation. Very few journalists on the planet – and virtually none who still work inside the nation’s largest media corporations – can even get close to him when it comes to having broken more major, history-changing stories.”


It is for this reason that Hersh’s reporting is so important – and why corporate media’s steadfast refusal to cover it is so noteworthy. If Hersh is correct, the United States and Norway essentially attacked their supposed NATO allies, something that could have gigantic geopolitical implications. Article 5 of NATO’s treaty states that if a NATO member is attacked, then all other NATO members must defend said country. Several NATO members, including the United Kingdom and France, possess nuclear weapons.

Of course, NATO will not declare war on the United States, precisely because it is, since its very inception, an unequal alliance. As Lord Ismay, the organization’s first secretary general, explained, “NATO’s role is to keep the Russians out, the Germans down and the Americans in”. In other words, it is a U.S.-dominated confederation meant to stifle the pan-European project that sought to reorient the continent away from serving the U.S. and towards becoming an independent regional bloc.

While the culprit of the attacks still remains in doubt, many of the consequences are not.

Germans – like much of Europe – have had to endure freezing winters amid enormous fuel price spikes. The dearth of energy has helped spark double-digit inflation in Germany that has eroded the savings of tens of millions of people. Energy costs are causing vast numbers of businesses to permanently close and presents a crisis of competitiveness for European industry, which is struggling to compete with American and Asian manufacturers enjoying cheap fuel.

Moreover, huge numbers of European businesses are closing or reducing their domestic workforce in favor of moving production to the U.S., where, alongside cheaper energy costs, the Biden administration is offering them financial incentives to do so. The European Union has accused Washington of breaching World Trade Organization rules.

Thus, it could be said that the invasion of Ukraine has marked a turning point in geopolitical history, whereby the United States is not only carrying out a proxy war against Russia, but engaged in an economic war against the entirety of Europe. If Hersh’s Nord Stream story is true, it could send a shockwave throughout Europe and should cause long held beliefs about the nature of Europe’s relationship with the United States to be challenged. Therefore, given the massive negative consequences of all this for Washington, perhaps it is no surprise that the revelation will not be televised.

Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

نقاش في الكونغرس الأميركي حول «اتفاقيات أبراهام»

الكونغرس: العمل أكثر في لبنان لمنع تأثير إيران

الجمعة 17 آذار 2023

التعاون الأمني بين إسرائيل ودول في المنطقة يحدّ من قدرة إيران على إيصال مواردها الفتاكة إلى حدود الكيان (أ ف ب)

غسان سعود  

قبيل ساعات من تتويج المباحثات الإيرانية – السعودية بـ«مصالحة بكين»، كان الكونغرس الأميركي يشهد نقاشاً بين نواب وخبراء معنيين بالشرق الأوسط حول «توسيع اتفاقيات أبراهام»، والتزام «الشركاء المفترضين»، وفي مقدمهم السعودية، بتنفيذ الأجندة الأميركية في ما يتعلق بالصين وروسيا وإيران وأسعار النفط. ويتبيّن، بالصوت والصورة، أن مرادف «التأثير الإيجابي» بالنسبة للإدارة الأميركية هو «حماية مصالح إسرائيل أكثر، فقط»، مع تركيز واضح على تسويق الولايات المتحدة كصديقة للشعوب تتطلع إلى ازدهارها ورفاهيتها، تمهيداً لإدخال الدول في مسارات التطبيع… مع اعتراف ضمني بأن عدم وجود رؤية مشتركة بين الولايات المتحدة وشركائها لمواجهة «النفوذ الإيراني الخبيث» يهدد كل الطموحات الأميركية في المنطقة

عُقد الاجتماع الدوريّ للجنة الفرعية للشؤون الخارجية في مجلس النواب الأميركي حول الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا، الخميس الماضي، عشية إعلان «مصالحة بكين»، تحت عنوان «توسيع اتفاقيات أبراهام» (فيديو الجلسة). حضر الاجتماع، إلى جانب أعضاء اللجنة، كل من رئيس معهد اتفاقات أبراهام للسلام روبرت غرينواي والجنرال الأميركي المتخصص في شؤون الشرق الأوسط جوزف فوتيل والسفير الأميركي السابق في إسرائيل دانيل شابيرو مدير «مبادرة N7» (الحرف الأول من n أي تطبيع، و7 للدلالة على إسرائيل والدول العربية الست التي طبعت معها: البحرين، مصر، الأردن، المغرب، السودان، الإمارات).

وفي مداخلته، أشار شابيرو إلى تقدم مسارات التطبيع عبر مجموعات عمل تشمل أكثر من 150 مشاركاً من الدول السبع في أبو ظبي في كانون الثاني الماضي، إضافة إلى اتفاقية التعاون في مجال الأمن السيبراني بين البحرين والمغرب والإمارات وإسرائيل والولايات المتحدة. أما الطموحات الكثيرة لتكريس التطبيع فأبرزها برامج تلفزيونية «تثقيفية وترفيهية»، ليخلص المجتمعون بسرعة إلى ضرورة أن يتجاوز الدعم الأميركي في المنطقة التعاون العسكري، إلى المجالات التجارية و«المناهج التربوية والتعليمية» والتعاون الصحي و… «مكافحة الأوبئة»، مع تركيز خاص على لبنان. فبعد إشارة النائب الديموقراطي براد شيرمان إلى نجاح إدارة الرئيس جو بايدن في إنجاز الاتفاق بين لبنان وإسرائيل حول الحدود البحرية، قال رئيس اللجنة الفرعية الجمهوري جو ويلسون إن هذا الترسيم مهم للاقتصاد اللبناني، ويسمح لإسرائيل بمواصل إنتاج النفط وإرساله إلى مصر لتكريره وتصديره إلى إيطاليا للتخفيف من اعتماد أوروبا على روسيا، في سلسلة تبيّن الترابط الاستثنائي بين الملفات: لبنان يفوز، إسرائيل تفوز، مصر تفوز، إيطاليا تفوز ومجرم الحرب بوتين يخسر. وقال ويلسون «هناك أهمية كبيرة لدعم لبنان الذي يجب أن يكون عظيماً لكنه ليس كذلك». هناـ تدخلت النائبة الديموقراطية كاثي مالينغ لافتة إلى أن «لبنان على وشك أن يصبح دولة فاشلة»، فيما «سوريا مصدر مشكلات لا حصر لها في المنطقة»؛ ما يدفع إلى السؤال ما إذا كانت لدول «اتفاقيات أبراهام» القدرة على «التأثير الإيجابي» في هذين البلدين؟ ليجيب فوتيل، كما تفهم الإدارة الأميركية «التأثير الإيجابي»، بالقول إن «التعاون الأمني والدفاعي بين إسرائيل ودول أخرى في المنطقة يعزز فرص اتخاذ تدابير تحدّ من قدرة إيران على إيصال مواردها الفتاكة أكثر فأكثر قرب حدود إسرائيل». وأكد أن القيادة المركزية الأميركية «تحاول» وضع شبكات استشعار وطائرات من دون طيار لمراقبة حركة «نقل المساعدات الفتاكة»، بحراً اليوم وجواً غداً، ومع مزيد من الاستثمار يمكن معالجة «بعض من النفوذ الإيراني الخبيث» الذي ينتشر في سوريا ويؤثر على إسرائيل. ورداً على سؤال مالينغ عن كيفية توسيع «اتفاقيات أبراهام»، قال شابيرو إن هناك المفاوضات التي ترعاها الولايات المتحدة وهناك «التعاون الأمني الذي تقوده وزارة الدفاع والجيش مع جيوش المنطقة، وهناك مجالات صحية وثقافية وتجارية يمكن تحقيق اختراقات مهمة بواسطتها». أما غرينواي فركز على «توفير القدرات لشركائنا بما يمكّنهم من الدفاع عن أنفسهم بشكل أفضل، ويخفف في المقابل العبء الملقى على عاتق الولايات المتحدة للدفاع عنهم». ورأى أن الممر الإلزامي لتكريس التطبيع هو التبادل التجاري بين هذه الدول وحاجتها الاقتصادية إلى بعضها البعض.
بدوره، شدد فوتيل على أن «المشاركة الدفاعية المنسّقة للتعاون المعلوماتي» هي الأساس، عبر ربط المعلومات الأمنية بين مختلف «شركاء الولايات المتحدة»، فيما قال غرينواي إن عدم وجود اتفاق مشترك بين الولايات المتحدة وهؤلاء الشركاء على كيفية التعامل مع التهديد الإيراني يحول دون إحراز تقدم، حتى على مستوى التعاون الأمني. وأكد أن الصراع الإسرائيلي – الفلسطيني يهم دول المنطقة، لكن ليس بقدر «التهديد المباشر لبقائهم من طهران اليوم»، و«الحاجة ماسة لقيادة أميركية مباشرة رداً على هذا التهديد الإيراني»، مشيراً إلى أهمية دعم الولايات المتحدة لإسرائيل في هذه المرحلة، حيث تراقب بقية دول المنطقة هذا الدعم عن كثب «بشكل لا يصدق».

يمكن تحقيق اختراقات مهمة عبر التعاون الأمني مع جيوش المنطقة وفي المجالات الصحية والثقافية والتجارية

ولا يمكن لدول المنطقة أن تكون أكثر تأييداً لإسرائيل من الولايات المتحدة. مع العلم أن «بناء الدعم يضيف نفوذاً وشركاء للولايات المتحدة»، مطالباً الإدارة الأميركية في ختام مداخلته بتأمين الموارد أو إعادة النظر في الموارد الحالية لاستخدامها بشكل أكثر فعالية لدعم «اتفاقيات أبراهام» والمبادرات التطبيعية الأخرى. وهنا، أشار شابيرو إلى أن الرواية المتداولة في الشرق الأوسط عن «انسحاب أميركي أو غياب أميركي أو تحول أميركي نحو مناطق أخرى» مبالغ فيها ومضر جداً. ولا بد من القول بوضوح «إننا ما زلنا هناك»، و«لا تزال القيادة المركزية الأميركية الجامع الرئيسي والشريك الرئيسي لجميع هذه البلدان، تتقدمها إسرائيل». «قد تكون لدينا وجهات نظر مختلفة حول طرق التعامل مع مشكلة ما، لكن الولايات المتحدة ملتزمة بشراكاتها، وملتزمة بالتأكد من قدرة شركائها على الدفاع عن أنفسهم، وملتزمة بالتواجد هناك كسند نهائيّ. ونحن نتوقع أن يتصرف شركاؤنا الإقليميون بما يتماشى مع المصالح الأميركية الأساسية عندما يتعلق الأمر بالصين وروسيا وأسواق النفط، حيث لا بد أن تتوقع أن تتدفق الشراكة بالاتجاهين، حين تكون شريكاً جيداً ومخلصاً. ولفت في ختام مداخلته إلى أن التدهور الأمني بين الإسرائيليين والفلسطينيين سيؤدي حكماً إلى زعزعة استقرار الأردن، ويصعّب الأمور على مصر، ويوتّر علاقة إسرائيل وشركائها العرب الجدد، ويؤخّر التقدم بين إسرائيل وشركاء لم ينضموا إلى «أبراهام» بعد، مركزاً على أهمية إظهار الولايات المتحدة دائماً بمظهر «المستثمر المهتم بمحاولة تحسين أوضاع الشعوب الاقتصادية والاجتماعية، قبل وقت طويل من إمكانية التفاوض فعلياً للوصول إلى حلول تطبيعية إضافية».

باخموت: المعركة الفاصلة والتراجع المستحيل

 الأربعاء 15 آذار 2023

ناصر قنديل

تدور معارك مدينة باخموت منذ شهور ببطء شديد وضراوة عالية، ولم يعُد مهماً النقاش حول أهمية المدينة الاستراتيجية، سواء بصفتها عقدة وصل الطرقات الكبرى بين الشرق والغرب والشمال والجنوب، أو مفتاح السيطرة على منطقة دونباس، بعدما صار محسوماً أن القوات الروسية تضع نخبتها القتالية إلى جانب قوات فاغنر بهدف السيطرة على المدينة، وتقابلها القوات الأوكرانية بقتال مستميت لعشرات آلاف جنود القوات الخاصة، وتتمركز من حول معركة المدينة وصولاً الى الخطوط الخلفية في القوات الروسية والأوكرانية وما تحتويه من مئات المدافع وراجمات الصواريخ، وطلعات القوات الجوية القتالية والمسيّرة للفريقين في أجواء المدينة وما حولها، وصار واضحاً أن أحداً لن يتراجع للآخر ويصرف النظر عن معركة المدينة، بصورة تجعلها أم المعارك في أوكرانيا.

لم تنفع النصائح الغربية في إقناع القيادة الأوكرانية بالتخلي عن باخموت، ولا أدّى التقدم الروسي الى إقناع القيادة الأوكرانية بأن الثبات في المدينة ميؤوس منه، ووفق الخبراء تتشكل في المدينة أضخم التحصينات الأوكرانية، ما يجعل التقدم كل متر بمتر بكلفة عالية اختصاراً للمشهد من الزاوية الروسية، وهذا يعني عملياً أنه كما كانت معارك في أول الحرب علامة على وجهة المرحلة الأولى منها، وتأمين تدحرج انتصارات شواطئ بحر آزوف والبحر الأسود لصالح روسيا، قبل أن تستعيد القوات الأوكرانية زمام المبادرة في جبهتي خاركيف وخيرسون وتفرض على القوات الروسية الانسحاب، تبدو معركة باخموت بتراضي الطرفين هي المنازلة الحاسمة التي سيكون لمن يربحها فرصة التقدّم السريع بعدها نحو النصر، ونجاح القوات الأوكرانية في الصمود ومنع النصر الروسي في باخموت، سوف يكرّس موازين قوى متعادلة، لا يمكن للروس إنكارها. وهذا يعني فتح مسار تفاوضي على قاعدة ميزان قوى راجح لصالح أوكرانيا، رغم صعوبة الحديث عن شعار إخراج القوات الروسية من كل الأراضي الأوكرانية الى حدود عام 2014، لكن اندحار القوات الأوكرانية سوف يعني أن ما سقط بيد الروس ليس باخموت، بل أوكرانيا بكاملها، حتى لو لم تدخلها القوت الروسية.

المعركة الاستراتيجية الفاصلة محطّة معروفة في كل الحروب، حيث يتمسك الطرفان المتقابلان بنقطة مفصلية في الجغرافيا، سرعان ما تتحوّل إلى نقطة معنوية، تواكبها مواقف معلنة وقرارات عملية تدفع الحرب باتجاه يربط مصيرها بمصير هذه المعركة. وهكذا هي باخموت اليوم، كما كانت معركة العلمين في الحرب العالمية الثانية، والقصير أو حلب في الحرب السورية، ومعارك بنت جبيل وعيتا ومارون في حرب 2006، وواقعياً لا تكون ميزات النقطة التي تقع فيها المعركة الفاصلة هي التي قرّرت لها هذه الصفة، بقدر ما يكون الإصرار السياسي على المعنوي سبباً في العناد العسكري بقبول الزجّ بأهم المقدرات في معركتها، وكلما كبرت الخسائر في خوض المعركة زادت قيمتها الى حد يجعلها موازية لحجم التكلفة التي ترتبت عليها، وليس لأهميتها بذاتها بمعزل عن هذه التكلفة، ويصير العناد السياسي والعسكري تعبيراً عن عدم القدرة على التسليم بهدر هذه التكلفة العالية، والمضي قدماً، على طريقة المقامر الذي يخسر ماله وتصبح قيمة اشتراكه في اللعبة بحجم ديونه وخسائره، أملاً بتعويضها كلها بربح يجمع خبراء الغرب على أن النصر الروسي في باخموت حتميّ، ولذلك نصحوا الأوكرانيين بعدم تحويلها الى مقبرة للجيش الأوكراني، بحيث يصبح محسوماً مصير كل المعارك اللاحقة مع إعلان الجيش الروسي إكمال السيطرة على باخموت، ويصرخ القادة الأوكرانيون اليوم طلباً لمزيد من الذخائر الصاروخية والمدفعية الذكية، ويرد قادة الغرب أن مخزونهم نفد، ويصرخ القادة الأوكرانيون انهم يحتاجون فوراً إلى طائرات مقاتلة لتغيير الموازين، ويتردّد الغرب في تقديم طائراته وقوداً لمعركة محسومة الخسارة.

ايام أو أسابيع وتصبح باخموت في قبضة الجيش الروسي، وتكون حرب أوكرانيا ولو استمرّت في جبهات أخرى، قد حسمت، لأن من خسر باخموت لن يستطيع النصر في سواها.

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لقمان عبد الله  

كانت المفاوضات بين الجانبَين اليمني والسعودي قد قطعت أشواطاً كبيرة بالفعل (أ ف ب)

حفّز إعلان السعودية وإيران استعادة علاقتهما الثُنائية، تساؤلات كثيرة حول تفاصيل الاتفاق وما إنْ كان يحتوي ملحقات سرّية، خصوصاً في شأن الملفّ اليمني الذي انعقدت جولات تفاوض عديدة بشأنه بين الرياض وصنعاء في مسقط. الأكيد أن الاتّفاق ليس مثار قلق لدى حلفاء طهران، بقدْر ما هو كذلك من وجهة نظر أصدقاء الرياض الذين بنوا برامجهم واستراتيجيّاتهم على تأجيج الصراع بين الجانبَين الإيراني والسعودي. بالنسبة إلى دول «محور المقاومة» وقِواه، فإن الخلاف الرئيس مع المملكة يتمثّل في التصاقها بالمشروع الأميركي، وتماهيها معه، وتمويلها تطبيقاته الهدّامة في كلّ من سوريا واليمن والعراق ولبنان؛ وعليه، فكلّما ابتعدت الرياض عن واشنطن في أيّ ساحة من ساحات المنطقة، كلّما سنحت الفرصة لتكون أقرب إلى خصوم الولايات المتحدة.

ومن هنا، لا خشية مطلقاً لدى هؤلاء من أيّ ملحق سرّي أو غير معلَن للاتفاق الإيراني – السعودي، خصوصاً في شأن اليمن. فطوال السنوات الماضية، طُرح الملفّ اليمني على الجانب الإيراني من قِبَل أطراف وازنة مِن مِثل روسيا والاتحاد الأوروبي، ودول خليجية كقطر وسلطنة عُمان، وأخرى آسيوية على رأسها باكستان، وأيضاً من قِبَل الأمم المتحدة، لكن الجواب الإيراني كان واحداً في كلّ المرّات والفترات، ومفاده أن مناقشة هذا الملفّ مكانها في صنعاء وليس في أيّ مكان آخر. كذلك، حاول الجانب السعودي طرْح المسألة اليمنية في مفاوضات بغداد مع الوفد الإيراني، ولكن من دون جدوى، فيما لم تفوّت الرياض وسيلة لتفادي التواصل المباشر مع حركة «أنصار الله»، إلى أن اقتنعت العام الماضي بعقم خيارها تجاهُل صنعاء، وانسداد كلّ الأبواب لتجاوزها، فلجأت مرغمة إلى التفاوض المباشر معها.

يُضاف إلى ما تَقدّم، أن المفاوضات بين الجانبَين اليمني والسعودي كانت قد قطعت أشواطاً كبيرة بالفعل، ليس في ما يختصّ بوقف إطلاق النار وتوسعة الهدنة فقط، بل وصولاً إلى مناقشة صيَغ للحلّ النهائي. وبحسب معلومات «الأخبار»، فإن من جملة ما طُرح في تلك المفاوضات، مسألة خروج القوّات الأجنبية من اليمن تمهيداً للبدء بحوار يمني – يمني. وفي هذا المجال، لم تمانع الرياض تلبية مطالب صنعاء، بل وأبدت استعدادها للانسحاب خصوصاً أن كلّ ما تملكه من قوّات على الأرض لا يتجاوز الـ200 جندي وضابط، بالإمكان إجلاؤهم خلال دقائق، لكنها أوضحت أنه ليس في مقدورها دفْع واشنطن أو لندن أو أبو ظبي إلى اتّخاذ قرار مماثل، وهو ما مثّل إحدى الإشكاليات التي اعترت طريق التفاوض. إذ اعتبرت «أنصار الله» أن السعودية التي قدّمت نفسها بوصفها قائدة لـ«التحالف» الذي يضمّ الأميركيين والبريطانيين والإماراتيين، مسؤولة عن إيجاد الحلّ المناسب لإقناعهم بالخروج، مصرّةً على ضرورة انسحاب جميع «القوّات الأجنبية» بلا استثناء. وبالنتيجة، كاد الاتّفاق بين صنعاء والرياض يُعلَن لولا التدخّل الأميركي الخفيّ لعرقلته، بدافعٍ من سعي الولايات المتّحدة إلى إبقاء الوضع الراهن ورقة مزدوجة بيدها، تُستخدَم من جهة من أجل ابتزاز وليّ العهد السعودي، محمد بن سلمان؛ ومن جهة أخرى في الاستمرار في خنْق اليمن وشلّ قدراته ومنْعه من استخدام موقعه الاستراتيجي، أخذاً في الاعتبار خصوصاً مصالح إسرائيل.

جرت أخيراً نقاشات شاركت فيها موسكو وطهران وصنعاء بهدف إيجاد مخرج للرياض من المستنقع اليمني

في الفترة الأخيرة، جرت نقاشات شاركت فيها موسكو وطهران وصنعاء وعواصم أخرى، في محاولة لإيجاد مخرج للرياض من المستنقع اليمني، يحافظ في الوقت نفسه على المطالب اليمنية الأساسية. أريدَت، من خلال ذلك، خصوصاً من جانب روسيا، محاولة تكبير المسافة الفاصلة بين السعودية والولايات المتحدة، على رغم إدراك الجميع أن الخلاف متركّز حالياً مع الحزب «الديموقراطي»، فيما لا تزال علاقة المملكة بالدولة العميقة الأميركية قائمة، وفق ما يؤشّر إليه مثلاً وجود خمس مجموعات عمل أميركية في الرياض لتعزيز التعاون الأمني والعسكري والسياسي بين الجانبَين. لكن الإيرانيين والروس، وحتى الصينيين، يُجمعون على ضرورة السعي إلى الابتعاد بالسعودية عن أن تكون «أداة» بيد الولايات المتحدة في النزاعات الإقليمية، وهو ما يصبّ في خانته اتّفاق عودة العلاقات الديبلوماسية بين طهران والرياض، برعاية صينية.

على أن الأطراف كافّة، بمَن فيهم الأميركي، يدركون أن حجر الرحى في ما يتّصل باليمن قائم في صنعاء. صحيح أن «أنصار الله» لا تُنكر تلقّيها مساعدات عسكرية من طهران، لكنها تؤكّد أن هذه المساعدة ليست مشروطة، وأنها مستعدّة لتلقّي أيّ معونة من الدول الصديقة الراغبة في ذلك، على أساس احترام السيادة الوطنية للبلاد، فيما تتعاطى إيران، من جانبها، بواقعية سياسية مع حلفائها، مدرِكةً ضرورة مراعاة خصوصيّاتهم الوطنية. وفي هذا المجال، أكد السفير اليمني في طهران، إبراهيم الديلمي، أن «السعودية طلبت من إيران في الجلسات السرّية في بغداد ومسقط خلال الأعوام الماضية، الاتّفاق أوّلاً على الملفّ اليمني، فكان ردّ الإيرانيين صريحاً وواضحاً بأن القرار في ما خصّ هذا الملفّ موجود في صنعاء وليس في طهران». كما اقترح الجانب الإيراني على السعوديين وقْف العدوان ورفْع الحصار، وأبدى استعداده، بالاتّفاق مع اليمنيين، للعبِ دور الميسّر من خلال استضافة مفاوضات بين المملكة و«أنصار الله»، منبّهاً إلى أن إيران ليست وسيطاً في هذا النزاع، بل هي دائماً ما أعلنت انحيازها إلى جانبه اليمني. ومن هنا، انحصر النقاش في مسألة استعادة العلاقات الديبلوماسية، علماً أن إيران كانت تخضع حينها لعقوبات أميركية قصوى، مترافقة مع تهديد بشنّ حرب عليها، فيما كان اقتصادها يعاني أزمة كبرى. وإذا كانت تلك هي حالها في ذروة الحصار، فما الذي سيوجب عليها اليوم، بينما تعاظمت قدراتها العسكرية، وتعزَّز حضورها السياسي، وتَحسّن وضعها الاقتصادي، تقديم تنازلات سواءً ربطاً بملفّاتها الداخلية، أو الملفّات الإقليمية ذات الصلة بها؟

من ملف : اتفاق بكين: لا «ملحق» يمنياً

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Anticipating Israel’s Counter-Attack: Make the ‘One Democratic State’ Solution Mainstream Again

March 13, 2023

A pro-Palestinian protest calling for the end of Israeli apartheid and occupation (Photo: Raya Sharbain, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Mazin Qumsiyeh & Alain Alameddine

The settler-colonial apartheid state of Israel is facing unprecedented pressure on at least three fronts: The burden of its own internal contradictions which is taking it on the path to civil war, armed and unarmed Palestinian resistance inside Palestine which is laying bare Zionism’s claim to provide a “land without a people” as a “safe haven” for colonizers, and BDS and awareness efforts in the West, dubbed “Israel’s greatest threat” by the Institute for National Security Studies. 

The odds of these three pressure fronts increasing this year and in the coming years is real , and Israel is feeling the heat. How will it counter-attack? And how can a narrative that is solidly anchored in the One Democratic State solution protect our efforts and struggle?

Anticipating Israel’s Counter-Attack to BDS and Other Pro-Palestinian Efforts

When Herzl established the World Zionist Congress in 1897, he and all subsequent Zionist leaders realized that the main obstacle to achieving the goals of Zionism was what to do with local indigenous people of Palestine. The bride (Palestine) was indeed beautiful but she was married to another man (Palestinians), as said to be put succinctly by two visiting Zionists. 

This was and remains the main challenge to making Palestine the Jewish state of Israel. In the 1920s, Ben Gurion created a public relations campaign that sought to brilliantly talk about splitting the country, portraying colonialists as peace agents while continuing to take land and displacing Palestinian refugees. This hasbara strategy slowly evolved into the paradigms we see today: Western leaders speak of a two-state “solution” while Zionist leaders continue to advance their colonial project. This delusion over 100 years allowed Israel time to grow its military might, its political power, and to leave Palestinians with access to only 8% of historical Palestine. Yet, this era is coming to an end and a new reality needs to be reckoned with.

Through amazing resilience and despite horrendous efforts to drive them out, half of the Palestinians still live in historic Palestine. Thus, a system of deepening apartheid was needed and developed to control them and even use them as indentured labor to build the Jewish state. Movements seeking real liberation were targeted and principled leaders were assassinated while other (autocratic) leaders were domesticated. 

This latter phenomenon of mental colonization was a most troubling aspect of the evolution of the struggle. Out of ignorance or corruption, many Palestinians and other Arab leaders fed the delusion of a political settlement with Zionism even against the most compelling of data. Many Palestinian intellectuals wrote books warning that the trend only strengthens Zionism and colonialism. Indeed, the history of what happened since 1993 proved the warnings were right. Yet, those professing “pragmatism” continued because they had already been colonized mentally and reversal is rare. Many even deepened their ties to neo-liberal and neo-colonial structures. For example, the Palestinian capitalist class strengthened its relationships with its Israeli counterparts. 

The trends seen over the past few decades are unmistakable: deepening Israeli hegemony over the Palestinian economy (captive market), more land confiscation, increased human rights violations, destruction of the environment, growth of Israeli colonial settlements, growth of corruption within the (Israel/US approved) leadership of the Palestinian Authority, and increased fascism and racism within Israeli society. 

The tragedy is that this was foreseen by many of us and we warned that this is unsustainable. It is understandable that colonizers divide to conquer and that they fight democracy and human rights. Palestine will never be at peace or free without facing these realities and challenging hegemony. The increase in population and increase in access to social media makes it difficult for oppressors to control the narrative. It is becoming more and more difficult to sustain the delusions of so-called “liberal or left Zionists” or of “pragmatic Palestinians”.

Those who hijacked movements cannot also continue to tout the previous liberation struggle as their own. And on the Israeli side, the ascendance of lunatics like Ben Gvir and Smotrich within the apartheid regime should have been sufficient evidence of the failure of trying to accommodate political Zionism. 

The attempt of the ultra-right to reshape the judiciary branch of the Zionist regime is an interesting example of the identitarian rift within the colonial society. But regardless of the outcome of this particular issue, this is only a harbinger of deeper issues to surface: Even if the ultra-right is pressured to compromise here, it will only gain strength and proceed to further demands. The recent pogrom in Huwwara forewarns increased attempts at finally “finishing the job Ben Gurion started in 1948”.

The above serves as an indicator of Israel’s possible counter-attack: Domesticating pro-Palestinian efforts by making them compatible with Zionism, as happened with Oslo. 

This could take the form of mere “improvements” such as less oppression in the West Bank or less discrimination among Israeli citizens, whereupon it could be argued that Israel’s policies no longer meet the legal definition of occupation or apartheid. This is a moment of truth where we have a choice that is very simple: To identify Zionism’s politicization of identity and its endeavor to establish a state exclusive to Jews as the root cause of injustice and suffering in Palestine and the Middle East, and to put our boycotting and awareness-raising efforts in the context of a political vision that forms the fundamental antithesis to Zionism, that is, a vision that depoliticizes identity and proposes the transition to One Democratic State, from the river to the sea.

Publicly and explicitly rallying around the ODS solution as the objective prevents focusing on Israel’s actions and normalizing with its nature as a sectarian settler-colony, or turning the Palestinian liberation struggle into a mere moral or real estate issue that should be resolved by goodwill. It also prevents the infiltration of Palestinian or pro-Palestinian efforts by so-called “liberal” Zionists who criticize Israel’s practices but are keen on maintaining its existence as a state exclusive to Jews. Remaining focused on the central question of the “Jewish state” versus a “democratic state” further lays bare Zionism’s reality as a settler-colonial entity that can never be a democratizing or a liberating endeavor for Jews or any other. 

It ensures we do not get side-tracked by hasbara ‘whataboutist’ tactics and thus giving space for oppression. Activists, allies and potential allies can rally around this call for a transition to democracy and human rights and close our ranks around a political project for genuine liberation and decolonization.

The ODS Initiative: An ODS Tool

Launched by Palestinians and allies, the One Democratic State Initiative describes itself as “a political endeavor that identifies Zionism’s politicization of identity and establishment of a Jewish state as the root cause of suffering and violence in Palestine, and that, accordingly, proposes the transition to a secular, democratic, non-identitarian state in Palestine as the only possible solution. The purpose of the Initiative is thus to mobilize individuals, entities and political parties, in Palestine and abroad, behind such an endeavor.”

The ODS Initiative thus aims at reaching a stage where the main issue, “A democratic state or a Jewish state?”, takes the front stage in the political discourse regarding the occupation and liberation of Palestine. To accomplish this, it is reaching out to Palestinian and pro-Palestinian individuals and groups, as well as to all willing to listen, by means of online campaigns and on-the-ground meetings.

Practical examples include the reporting of the Huwwara rampage and the Aqaba meeting, the commemoration of Baruch Goldstein’s massacre, the displaying of Palestinian art, or sharing of existing material such as Visual Palestine’s infographics, articles by Awad Abdelfattah or videos displaying Zionist racism, all in the context of an ODS solution.

The results so far have been a reach of close to 1.5 million persons, most of whom are in Palestine, over 100,000 of whom have interacted with us and thousands have signed up and shared their contact details as supporters of the One Democratic State solution.

The ODS Initiative has also particularly placed emphasis on reaching out to the several existing ODS movements in a bid to create a collaborative platform that would allow all to work together on specific campaigns and activities. 

This includes, for example, putting ODSI sign-ups in contact with local ODS activists or groups, organizing joint events that put well-known ODS supporters in contact with interested ones, co-authoring articles such as this one, or collaboration for the purpose of making use of existing material, such as colonial activities documented by, and environmental justice issues documented by studies by, and presenting them in laymen’s terms in Arabic, English and Hebrew.

Would You Take Part?

The first step in any revolutionary endeavor is to build a solid narrative based on facts that challenges existing widespread hasbara/propaganda, that energizes existing activists and activates support for action including boycotts, divestments, and sanctions. Envisioning and working for a better future is certainly along the line of “lighting a candle is better than cursing the darkness.” 

We urge Palestinian and pro-Palestinian political movements, media, activists, solidarity groups and celebrities to push forward the One Democratic State solution in their discourse regarding Palestine, its occupation and its liberation. We further invite all those willing to sign up as supporters of the ODS solution and/or to contact us to help build a decentralized yet organized network. The settler-colonial apartheid state will be dismantled, One Democratic State will be established in its stead, and Palestine will be free.

– Mazin Qumsiyeh is a Palestinian scientist and author, founder and director of the Palestine Museum of Natural History and the Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability at Bethlehem University.

– Alain Alameddine is a member of Lebanese political party Citizens in a State and an activist in the One Democratic State Initiative. They contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle. 

انهيار النظام المصرفي العالمي وراء الباب

 الثلاثاء 14 آذار 2023

ناصر قنديل

واهم وأحمق من يثق بالنظام المصرفي العالمي الذي يشكل النظام المصرفي الأميركي نواته الصلبة، والذي تهتز طبقاته التكتونية هناك عبر زلازل وهزات ارتدادية لم يظهر أعظمها الآتي حكماً، وغبيّ من يترك أمواله في النظام المصرفي المهدّد بانهيارات لا يستطيع أحد التنبؤ بها، وربما يكون اعتماد الخزنات المنزلية وشراء الذهب هو الطريق الأمثل للتحسّب لمخاطر الإفلاسات المقبلة، كما يقول خبير مالي تعليقاً على إفلاس مصرف سيليكون فالي الأميركي، لأن القضية ليست في عيوب تتصل بأداء المصرف يمكن تجنب انعكاساتها على النظام المصرفي، بمجرد قيام الاحتياطي الفيدرالي الأميركي بسداد الودائع ومطلوبات المصرف المنهار، والفساد المصرفي الذي يشير إليه بعض الذين يحاولون تبرئة النظام المصرفي والدعوة للوثوق به، هو جزء من النظام، كما كشفت أزمة 2008، ولم تتمّ بعدها أي إجراءات لتنظيف القطاع المصرفيّ وتحصينه من هذا الفيروس القاتل، الذي ظهر في 2008 بصفته نظرية مصرفية للنظام الجديد، قوامها الاستثمار في المخاطر الأعلى والاستفادة من التأمين ضدها، وبيع دراسات الثقة بالتصنيفات الآمنة وشراء سندات المضاربة عليها. وهذا جرى في أزمة سيليكون فالي ويُرى في غيره، لكنه ليس سرّ الأزمة ولا سبب الانهيار، بل علامة الفساد في مواجهتها.

الأزمة التي ظهرت على مصرف سيليكون فالي وتهدد خمسة مصارف كبرى في أميركا خلال الأيام المقبلة، كما تقول نيويورك تايمز، هي واحدة من تداعيات الزلزال الكبير الذي أصاب الاقتصاد العالمي بفعل العقوبات الأميركية والغربية على روسيا والصين، بعد حرب أوكرانيا، والتي أصابت قطاعي الطاقة والتكنولوجيا، فقد كانت أول نتائج العقوبات على روسيا إنهاء الثقة بحياد النظام المصرفي عن السياسة، حيث تمت ملاحقة المودعين على أسمائهم وأقفلت حساباتهم وبعضهم تمت مصادرة ودائعهم أو تجميدها، وصار كل مودع يشعر بالقلق على لحظة تسييس ينطبق عليه دفتر شروطها، كمثل التهرب الضريبي، أو الصفقات غير المشروعة، وكل وديعة في العالم يمكن أن تكون معرّضة للتحقيق تحت هذين البندين، بعدما كانت العقوبات التي تطال حكومات مثل إيران وسورية بعيدة عن مودعين أفراد، بمثل ما هو حال المودعين الروس بعشرات الآلاف الذين يعيشون كمقيمين وبعضهم كمواطنين وهم فاعلون كبار في الاقتصاد الغربي، رجال أعمال وأساتذة وفنانون ورياضيون على مساحة دول الغرب الأوروبي والأميركي، والعقوبات ما قبل الحرب الأوكرانية واستهداف روسيا، كان يجري تقديمها بصفتها عقوبات على دول بتهم جرمية جرى تسويقها في الثقافة الغربية العنصرية وتقبلها الرأي العام، بينما كانت الصدمة بتهافت الأسباب التي قال الرئيس بايدن إنه يريد محاربة الروس، وليس الحكومة الروسية فقط، معلناً أنه يتطلّع بموجبها إلى مصادرة اليخوت والبيوت التي يتمتع بها الروس في بلاده، ويريد أن يرى أبناءهم خارج المدارس والجامعات التي يرتادها أبناء النخب الأميركية بتكاليف باهظة. وفي النظام المصرفي يشكل القلق من دخول السياسة، حتى السياسة التي يؤيدها المودع، على خط التعامل مع مودع آخر سبباً كافياً للذعر، لأن لا شيء يضمن ان لا تتغير السياسة، فتطال سياسة أخرى المودع نفسه، الذي اعتاد ان حساباته محمية وخصوصياته مكتومة، والحصانة شاملة كل وجوه تعاملاته المصرفية، ولا أحد يستطيع وضع اليد عليها دون إرادته، ودون حكم قضائيّ فرديّ بتجريم صاحبها بعلل قانونية بائنة لا تقبل الشك.

هذا الشك شكل بذرة الاهتزاز الأول، والمصيبة هي أنه بدلاً من أن يؤدي إلى ترجمة الشعور الوطني الأميركي وفي كل دولة غربية بالزهو بالنصر، وترجمته رؤية الانهيار الاقتصادي والمالي الروسي ومقابله الانتعاش الاقتصادي والمالي في دول الغرب، بما يتكفل بطمس التلاعب والعبث بصدقية النظام المصرفي، جاءت النتائج تقول إن روسيا نجحت بتجاوز واحتواء العقوبات، وقامت بإعادة تصديرها إلى الغرب بصورة أزمة طاقة خانقة، وصلت الى جيوب المستهلكين بصيغة ارتفاع في أسعار الاستهلاك انطلاقاً من المحروقات وصولاً الى كل السلع التي يدخل النقل في تركيب أسعارها، وتدخل الطاقة في تسعير تكلفة إنتاجها، وتبع ذلك ارتفاع تكاليف الطاقة المنزلية والتدفئة قبيل فصل الشتاء، وبدأ الحديث عن التضخم، فردت المصارف المركزية الغربية بالإجماع بوصفة واحدة، رفع أسعار الفائدة، لكبح جماح التضخم، بينما ردت الحكومات بمزيد من الاستدانة لتعويض تراجع مواردها بفعل الركود، وبدأت سلسلة تصاعدية عنوانها المزيد من الدين والمزيد من رفع أسعار الفوائد، حتى تجاوز المعدلات القياسية، وبلوغ مراحل غير مسبوقة. والنتيجة مزيد من الركود وتراجع الاستثمار وعجز الدائنين عن السداد، وبدء تسييل الأصول والأسهم لتغطية النفقات التشغيلية منعاً للإفلاس، وصولاً لسحب الودائع المجمّدة، وهو ما تجمع كل التقارير المالية التي قاربت إفلاس مصرف سيليكون فالي، وبعده مصرف سيلفر جيت المتخصص بالعملات المشفرة قبل ساعات، والفارق الوحيد الذي ميز هذين المصرفين عن سواهما وجعلهما في مقدمة الانهيار، هو انهما يتصلان بقطاع التكنولوجيا الذي أصيب ايضاً بالعقوبات على الصين، لكن هذا جعل منهما البداية فقط، لكن الأزمة عامة وشاملة والباقي غير محصن وقد أصابته شظايا الزلزال والمسألة مسألة وقت حتى يتكرر المشهد الكارثي في عشرات المصارف، بمجرد وقوع الزلزال الكبير، ويبدأ الذعر المالي في التوجه لطلب الودائع.

ما يجري في بريطانيا والهند وكيان الاحتلال مع شركات التكنولوجيا بداية مشهد زلازل جديدة سوف تجتاح قطاعات جديدة، ومصارف جديدة، والحبل على الجرار.

عندما يستعير الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن خطاب حاكم المصرف المركزي في لبنان رياض سلامة، وهو يعتمد الوصفات ذاتها التي علّمها المصرفيون الأميركيون لسلامة، زيادة الفوائد على الدين وزيادة الاستدانة، فيقول بايدن، العملة بخير والنظام المصرفي متين، يتذكّر اللبنانيون ما سمعوه قبل سنتين، وعلى غيرهم أن يعرف بما ينتظره بعد أسابيع.

فيديوات ذات صلة

مقالات ذات صلة

Yemeni PM meets with Hamas officials to discuss latest developments

March 12 2023

(Photo Credit: AP)

Ansarallah’s official affirmed Yemen’s full support for the Palestinian cause during the meeting

ByNews Desk

The Prime Minister of Sanaa’s government, under the leadership of the Yemeni resistance group Ansarallah, Abdulaziz bin Habtoor, met with representatives of the Gaza-based resistance faction Hamas to discuss recent developments in Palestine.

Bin Habtoor confirmed that Hamas’s acting representative in Yemen, Moaz Abu Shamala, was present during the meeting, where he affirmed to the Palestinian representative that “the Palestinian cause was and will remain present in the conscience of the Arab and Islamic nations,” adding that one of the several moral positions of the Yemeni people is supporting the people of Palestine against Israeli suppression, as well as the sovereignty of a Palestinian state.

Bin Habtoor also praised the Palestinian faction’s resistance against the Israeli occupation and its mission to combat Tel Aviv to ensure regional security.

In response to Sanaa affirming its dedication to supporting Palestine, Abu Shamala expressed his appreciation for Yemen’s position.

Since the formation of Israel’s new far-right coalition government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel has increased its aggressive acts against the Palestinians in an attempt to wipe out the Palestinian resistance and acquire more control over Palestinian territories.

Last month, Yemen’s National Salvation Government (NSG) condemned the UAE’s eviction of residents from the Abd al-Kuri Island of the Socotra archipelago off the Yemeni coast, which Abu Dhabi has been carrying out as part of its long-active plan of transforming Socotra into an Israeli-Emirati military and intelligence hub.

This was confirmed by Yemeni journalist and activist Anis Mansour, who on 20 February strongly condemned the “bringing in of Israeli and Emirati forces to the island without the knowledge of the leadership or authorities, in a blatant challenge to Yemeni dignity and sovereignty.”

Mansour also claimed that the Saudi-led coalition plans to ‘secure housing’ in Hadhramaut for about 1,000 fishermen from the island to limit the island to the presence of Emirati-Israeli military and intelligence officials.

Israel is interested in the strategic archipelago because it serves as a potential flashpoint for a confrontation with Iran. In 2020, the Washington Institute published an analysis examining how Israeli submarines could potentially strike the Islamic Republic from positions near Yemen.


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اتفاق السعودية وايران ينظّم المنافسة المستمرة: ملف لبنان رهن تغيّر مقاربة الرياض

ملف الرئاسة رهن تغيّر سعودي لا إيراني

الإثنين 13 آذار 2023

 ابراهيم الأمين

فوجئ كثيرون، في المنطقة والعالم، بالبيان الختامي للمحادثات السعودية – الإيرانية برعاية صينية. البعض لم يكن على علم بأصل التفاوض الجاري منذ مدة غير قصيرة، وفوجئ باتفاق سيُعمل على تنفيذه خلال أسابيع. فيما يتصرف آخرون بشيء من الخشية من أن يحمل الاتفاق مفاجآت ليست في الحسبان، ومتناقضة مع السياسات التي كانت تعتمدها السعودية خصوصاً.

أهمية الاتفاق بين البلدين أنهما يمثلان مركز الصراع على ملفات المنطقة، وأن الطابع التنافسي طغى دائماً على علاقاتهما حتى عندما كانت في أفضل أحوالها. وهو امر تعزز بعد سقوط نظام صدام حسين، وتغييرات المشهد اللبناني بعد اغتيال رفيق الحريري، والتطورات التي عصفت بكثير من الدول بعد 2011. وقد تواجه الطرفان بشراسة في ساحات عدة، من العراق إلى سوريا والبحرين واليمن وصولاً إلى لبنان وفلسطين، وزاد الوضع تعقيداً بينهما إثر تولي محمد بن سلمان السلطة الفعلية في السعودية.

من الأفضل العودة إلى أهداف كل طرف كي تكون مراقبة الاتفاق أكثر واقعية، وحتى لا يذهب أحد بعيداً في التحليلات أو التمنيات، خصوصاً أن مسائل كثيرة عالقة في المنطقة يعتقد كثيرون أن حلها رهن اتفاق البلدين. وهذا تقدير خاطئ، ليس لعدم رغبة الطرفين في المساعدة على فضّ النزاعات، بل لكون الأطراف الأخرى، الإقليمية والدولية، تملك من القوة والنفوذ ما يمكّنها من عرقلة التفاهم، وتفجير ساحات كثيرة، وصولاً إلى تفجير الاتفاق نفسه.

منذ تولي آل سلمان الحكم في السعودية وإمساكهم بمفاصل القرار فيها، تصرّفت الرياض كطرف قادر على المبادرة إلى خطوات كبيرة تعزز نفوذها في المنطقة. وهي قبل أن تشن حربها المدمرة ضد اليمن، شاركت بفعالية في تعزيز الاختلال الأمني والسياسي والاقتصادي في العراق، وفعلت الأمر نفسه في سوريا عندما انخرطت في معركة إطاحة النظام، كما لعبت دوراً كبيراً في الانقلاب الذي قاده الرئيس عبد الفتاح السيسي في مصر. وكذلك الحال في فلسطين. فإلى البرودة التي سادت علاقتها بالأردن والسلطة الفلسطينية، قادت السعودية معركة قاسية ضد ابرز قوتين في المقاومة، معتبرة ان حماس تمثل امتداداً لحركة الإخوان المسلمين، وتصرفت مع الثانية على أنها ذراع إيرانية. وفي البيت الخليجي، قبضت الرياض على مركز القرار في البحرين مانعة أي مصالحة وطنية، وعاقبت قطر وحاصرتها، وكبّلت حكام الإمارات والكويت، وحاولت مراراً فرض ضغوط على سلطنة عمان. وتمثّلت ذروة هذه السياسة في حرب وحشية وعبثية ضد الشعب اليمني، قامت على حسابات خاطئة من كل النواحي، وأدركت السعودية بنتيجتها أن الولايات المتحدة والغرب الأوروبي لن يتوليا هذه المهمة عنها.

مطالب وهواجس سعودية

بعد كل ما حصل، تريد السعودية تحقيق الآتي:

أولاً، توازن فعلي مع الدور الإيراني في العالم العربي، وتوازن أكثر فعالية على صعيد إدارة ملف التدفق النفطي عبر الممرات البحرية.

ثانياً، الخروج بمكاسب من حرب اليمن، من خلال اعتبار إيران طرفاً يمكنه المساعدة على تحقيق تسوية تجعل السعودية طرفاً رابحاً أمام الحوثيين وبقية الأطراف اليمنية.

ثالثاً، تفاهم يعطي الرياض حق الفيتو في العراق، من خلال تفاهم مع السلطات العراقية، وليس عبر نفوذ المملكة على بعض القوى والشخصيات العراقية.

رابعاً، عقد مصالحة مع الدولة السورية، مع محاولة لجعل دمشق أقرب إلى السعودية، سواء في ملف اليمن، أوفي الموقف من حركات الإخوان المسلمين وقوى المقاومة، باعتبار أن ذلك سيؤدي حكماً إلى إضعاف نفوذ إيران في سوريا، وتالياً في لبنان وفلسطين.

خامساً، التوقف عن لعب دور الثري الذي تُفرض عليه خوات في لبنان وفلسطين ومناطق أخرى. السعوديون مستعدون لإنفاق الكثير، لكنهم يريدون مقابلاً واضحاً، وهم أعطوا من يسعى إلى التحالف معهم درساً من خلال طريقة تعاملهم مع ابنهم «المدلل» سعد الحريري.

سادساً، تريد السعودية أن تثبت للغرب، وللإدارة الأميركية الحالية خصوصاً، أنها لم تعد البلد الذي لا يحرك ساكناً من دون موافقة أميركية، وأنها تجيد قراءة المتغيرات العالمية، وتريد انتزاع هامش حقيقي في السياسة والأمن والاقتصاد، من خلال طريقة تعامل مختلفة مع الأطراف الدولية المؤثرة، وفي مقدمها الصين.
على هامش هذه المطالب الجوهرية، يمكن إيراد كثير من النقاط التي يجري تقديمها كمواد سجالية يومية، من نوع أن تكبح إيران جماح حكومات وقوى محور المقاومة، وأن تضغط لإسكات قوى بارزة من أنصار الله في اليمن إلى حزب الله في لبنان إلى قوى المقاومة في فلسطين. كما يمكن، أيضاً، طرح الكثير من العناوين التفصيلية، من بينها مثلاً ملف الانتخابات الرئاسية في لبنان.

الاسد وضع استراتيجية تمنع ابتزازه: علاقات ثنائية ومصالحات موضعية مع العرب

… ومطالب وهواجس إيرانية

أما من جهة طهران، فإن الأمور واضحة أيضاً، وتتمثل في الآتي:

أولاً، كسر العزلة المفروضة على إيران بسبب السياسات الأميركية التي تنصاع لها دول كثيرة في المنطقة من بينها السعودية، وألا يكون هذا الكسر سياسياً فقط، بل اقتصادياً أيضاً. وهي ترى في السعودية دولة كبيرة في الإقليم، لها قدراتها الكبيرة، بما يساعد طهران في تحقيق هذا الهدف.

ثانياً، احتواء الحملة التي تصوّر الجمهورية الإسلامية رأس حربة في معركة شيعية ضد السنة في العالم الإسلامي. وهي تدرك أن للسعودية دورها الكبير في هذا السياق، خصوصاً بعد الوهن الذي أصاب مصر من جهة، وتراجع قوة الإخوان المسلمين في المنطقة، وبعد تطبيع العلاقات بين دول وقوى عربية وإسلامية مع إسرائيل.

ثالثاً، تسعى إيران إلى عزل برنامجها النووي عن أي ملفات أخرى تتعلق بعلاقاتها مع دول الجوار. وهي أكّدت دائماً للسعودية وغيرها، واستعانت بأطراف عدة من بينها الصين، لتوضيح أن برنامجها النووي وبرامجها للصواريخ الباليستية لا تستهدف دول الجوار وفق الدعاية التي يروّجها الغرب.

رابعاً، تريد إيران تحقيق استقرار مستدام في منطقة الخليج، وهو أمر يحتاج إلى تسوية واقعية مع السعودية، تمكّنها من إشهار وتطوير علاقاتها الجدية مع بقية دول الخليج. كما تدرك طهران أن الرياض قادرة، بقوة، على المساعدة في تحقيق استقرار جدي في العراق وسوريا، وحتى في ساحات حليفة لها، كلبنان وفلسطين.

خامساً، تهتم إيران ايضا، بتطويق التدخل السعودي في شؤونها الداخلية. خلال جلسات التفاوض، عرض الإيرانيون على نظرائهم السعوديين الأدلة التي تثبت تورط السعودية استخباراتياً وتمويلياً وإعلامياً في الأحداث التي تشهدها إيران بين فترة وأخرى. علماً أن طهران تتفادى حمل هذا القميص علناً، كما تفعل الرياض بالحديث عن تدخل إيران في شؤون دول المنطقة، وهي لا تريد مساعدة السعودية أو غيرها في معالجة مشاكلها الداخلية، بقدر ما تريد من هذه الأطراف عدم التورط في مثل هذه الأحداث، لأنه سيكون لهذا التدخل ثمنه الكبير مع الوقت.

سادساً، تعتقد إيران أن لتطوير العلاقات مع السعودية تأثيراً كبيراً على النفوذ الأميركي في المنطقة، ويمكن أن يؤخر – أو ربما يعطل – المساعي لضم السعودية إلى برنامج التطبيع مع العدو، وهي تراهن على أن ابتعاد الرياض عن مشاريع التطبيع سيكون له أثره على الدول التي انخرطت في هذه المشاريع، وتشعر اليوم بأنها لم تجنِ أي مكاسب منها.

أي نتائج متوقعة؟

من خارج الدولتين، ثمة حسابات ورهانات وتوقعات تتعلق بتداعيات الاتفاق على ملفات المنطقة. وفي هذا المجال، يبدو واضحاً من معطيات وصلت الى جهات معنية، بأن ايران لم تدر ظهرها لمطلب المساعدة في معالجة ملف اليمن. لكن ما لا يعرفه كثيرون، هو انه خلال جولات التفاوض المباشر بين السعوديين وأنصار الله، سواء في صنعاء والرياض او تلك التي تحصل برعاية مسقط، باتت السعودية تدرك الهامش الضيق الذي يمكن لايران ان تتحرك فيه في اليمن، وأنه لا يمكنها ان تفرض على انصار الله خيارات تتناقض مع رؤيتهم. ولذلك سارعت الى عرض مشروع اتفاق يسمح لصنعاء السير قدما في مشروع حل. وفي هذا السياق، فقط، يصبح لايران دور جدي في تعجيل الامر.

أما في سوريا، فلم تبادر ايران أساساً الى حض دمشق أو منعها من اعادة التواصل مع أحد. لكن الرئيس بشار الاسد نفسه، وهو من له مصلحة باعادة الحرارة الى علاقات بلاده مع كل العالم، وضع استراتيجية تهدف، أولاً، إلى تعطيل اي محاولة لابتزازه. ولذلك، لا يبدي حماسة كبيرة للعودة الى جامعة الدول العربية، ولا يطرح الامر كحاجة ملحة. لا بل ان الاسد الذي يعرف تماماً محدودية تأثير الجامعة، يفضل السعي الى علاقات ثنائية ذات فعالية مع الدول العربية البارزة. وهو قادر على صياغة علاقات قوية مع السعودية ومصر والاردن والامارات، من دون ان يضطر الى علاقات مع قطر ودول اخرى تورطت بقوة في الحرب ضده. أضف إلى ذلك أنه يرغب في اعادة تنظيم العلاقات الثنائية، من دون رهن ذلك بطلبات منه في ملفات اخرى. فهو لا يجد نفسه معنياً بموقف يناسب السعودية في اليمن، ولن يقبل نقاشا حول حزب الله في لبنان. وحتى في ملف الاخوان المسلمين الذين خاض معهم حرباً شرسة، فإنه يميز أولوية الملف الفلسطيني. فهو لم يقبل مصالحة حماس ليحوّلها ورقة مساومة مع الاخرين. أما في العراق، فيرى الاسد نفسه طرفاً معنياً لا طرفا ثانوياً، وكذلك الأمر في لبنان، لكنه لا يجد نفسه مضطراً الآن لتحمل هذا العبء فيما اولويته اعادة اعمار سوريا وتنظيم موقعها في المنطقة.

وعليه، فان من ينتظر من اتفاق بكين نتيجة مباشرة على صعيد المعركة الرئاسية في لبنان، يكون قد قرأ بصورة خاطئة الاتفاق. لا السعودية ستغيّر موقفها الآن، ولا ايران تعتقد ان عليها الضغط على حلفائها في لبنان. وبالتالي، فان الخطوة المنتظرة تتعلق بمراجعة مرتقبة من الرياض لكل ما قامت به في لبنان طوال عقود عدة، وخصوصا في العقد الاخير.

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Frankfurt Undermines Human Rights by Canceling a Concert by Roger Waters

MARCH 13, 2023

Photograph Source: GabeMc –CC BY-SA 3.0


After a highly acclaimed run in North America, Roger Waters will take his “This Is Not a Drill” tour across Europe. The long journey includes shows in Germany, with the final concert in the country originally planned to take place in Frankfurt on May 28. On February 24, however, Frankfurt’s city council and the Hessian state government announced the cancellation of the Frankfurt concert, for “persistent anti-Israel behavior,” and called Waters an antisemite.

The cancellation of Waters’s concert is a threat to free speech and artistic freedom. It is designed to silence legitimate criticism of Israel’s government emanating from the world human rights community and within Israel itself. Waters’s music has captivated the world for more than five decades. Over that time, he has also become a respected human rights advocate. In response to the decision by Frankfurt’s city council, artists and human rights leaders, including Peter Gabriel, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, Susan Sarandon, Alia Shawkat, and Glenn Greenwald, have signed a petition calling on the German government to uncancel the concert.

In a more civilized world, Frankfurt would be giving him an award for his courage, not trying to silence him with state censorship.

To be clear, the position of Waters regarding the disparate treatment by the Israeli government of Jews and Palestinians—with numerous legal policies and laws that favor Jews over Palestinians—is well within the mainstream of the international human rights community.

A range of prominent human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, as well as United Nations agencies and experts such as the UN special rapporteur, argue that Israel’s policy has created an “apartheid” state within Israel through its occupation of the Palestinian territories. Indeed, in 2021, the respected Israeli human rights group B’Tselem issued a strong statement calling the Israeli government “a regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea” and concluding, “This is apartheid.” The statements Waters has made about Israel are entirely in line with these criticisms from these respected organizations and institutions.

The conflation of criticism of Israel and antisemitism is dangerous and perpetuates the common antisemitic perspective that all Jews monolithically support Israel. Because antisemitism is a real issue, its weaponization and distortion to stifle legitimate criticism of Israel is reckless, and undermines the fight against antisemitism.

The Frankfurt City Council’s statement offered no evidence for its claim except that Waters has “repeatedly called for a cultural boycott of Israel and drew comparisons to the apartheid regime in South Africa.” The statement about the “cultural boycott of Israel” is a reference to Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS), the Palestinian-led movement launched in 2005 that has since gained significant support across the globe.

We reached out to Waters for his response to the campaign against him, and he told us: “My platform is simple: it is implementation of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights for all our brothers and sisters in the world including those between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. My support of universal human rights is universal. It is not antisemitism, which is odious and racist and which, like all forms of racism, I condemn unreservedly.”

The official equation of criticism of Israeli policy with antisemitism is problematic, but it is not new in contemporary Germany. In May 2019, the German Parliament passed a nonbinding resolution that associated BDS with antisemitism. This resolution followed a series of attacks on organizations, including numerous Jewish groups (such as the Germany-based group Jewish Voice for Just Peace in the Middle East) whose advocacy on behalf of Palestinians was, at the same moment, being classified by the Israeli government as antisemitic.

In response to this targeting of critics of Israel’s government over its mistreatment of Palestinians, more than 90 Jewish scholars and intellectuals signed an open letter in defense of Jewish Voice for Just Peace in the Middle East. The last line of that letter called upon “the members of German civil society to fight antisemitism relentlessly while maintaining a clear distinction between criticism of the state of Israel, harsh as it may be, and antisemitism, and to preserve free speech for those who reject Israeli repression against the Palestinian people and insist that it comes to an end.”

In its attack on Waters, the Frankfurt City Council mimicked the current thinking followed by the extremist Israeli government in its weaponization of antisemitism to try to undermine critics of its official narrative.

The attack on Waters by the Frankfurt City Council is part of a disturbing pattern in contemporary Germany. The Berlin-based Jewish photographer Adam Broomberg, who is well-known for his work on the cruelty and irrationality of violence, found himself being targeted by the city of Hamburg’s antisemitism commissioner, Stefan Hensel.

Hensel has used his social media and various newspapers to attack anyone who supports the BDS movement as being “antisemitic.” His campaign against Broomberg raised the ire of the photographer, who was born in South Africa and who has an intimate and very personal understanding of apartheid. Broomberg told the art magazine Hyperallergic that he was confounded by this attack: “For a commissioner of antisemitism, for his first and most vehement and powerful attack to be on a Jew and to put a Jew’s life and profession at risk, is totally ironic. … I just buried my mother who knew the Holocaust and I come back and I’m accused of being a hateful antisemite advocating for terrorism against Jews. I couldn’t be more Jewish,” he said. “It’s affected me profoundly.”

In early March 2023, Hensel posted a photograph of Roger Waters on Instagram in the film version of his 2010-2013 concert tour “The Wall.” Alongside the picture, Hensel wrote: “The motto should be: ‘Roger Waters is not welcome in Hamburg.’” Adam Broomberg responded on Twitter that Hensel’s image of Waters appearing in character as a fascist villain was taken out of context from an “undeniably anti-war film by Waters and [Sean] Evans called ‘The Wall’ to depict him as a Nazi in an attempt to cancel his concert.”

This distortion, Broomberg wrote, is an example of “German propaganda.”

In July 2022, South Africa’s Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor while addressing a meeting of the Palestinian Heads of Mission in Africa said that “The Palestinian narrative evokes experiences of South Africa’s own history of racial segregation and oppression.” Reflecting on the findings of human rights reports and UN documents, Pandor said: “These reports are significant in raising global awareness of the conditions that Palestinians are subjected to, and they provide credence and support to an overwhelming body of factual evidence, all pointing to the fact that the State of Israel is committing crimes of apartheid and persecution against Palestinians.”

Nothing that prominent international artists like Waters or Broomberg have said would be alien to the content of these reports or different from what Naledi Pandor said at that meeting in Pretoria. Indeed, everything she said mirrors the library of UN resolutions demonstrating the illegality of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the apartheid conditions being faced by Palestinians inside Israel and its territories. The attack by the Frankfurt City Council on Waters is not actually an effort to call out antisemitism; it is, rather, an attack on the human rights of Palestinians.

This article was produced by Globetrotter.

Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor, and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter. He is an editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He is a senior non-resident fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. He has written more than 20 books, including The Darker Nations and The Poorer Nations. His latest books are Struggle Makes Us Human: Learning from Movements for Socialism and (with Noam Chomsky) The Withdrawal: Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and the Fragility of U.S. Power.

Katie Halper is a writer, filmmaker, and the host of the “Katie Halper Show,” a weekly YouTube show, podcast, and WBAI radio show. She is the co-host of the “Useful Idiots” podcast and YouTube show and the director of the forthcoming documentary “Commie Camp.” Her writing has appeared in places like the Guardian, the Nation, New York magazine, and Comedy Central, and she has appeared on MSNBC, Fox, Rising, and more. She is a member of Jewish Voice for Peace.

Exclusive: The hidden security clauses of the Iran-Saudi deal

March 12 2023

The Cradle reveals confidential clauses of the agreement struck between Tehran and Riyadh, which was reached courtesy of Beijing.

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Hasan Illaik

Under Chinese auspices, on 10 March in Beijing, longtime regional competitors Iran and Saudi Arabia reached an agreement to restore diplomatic relations, after a break of seven years.

In its most optimistic reading, the deal can be seen as a historic strategic agreement, reflecting major changes underway in West Asia and the world. At worst, it can be characterized as an “armistice agreement” between two important rivals, that will provide a valuable space for direct, regular communications.

The Sino-Saudi-Iranian joint statement on Friday carried strong implications beyond the announcement of the restoration of diplomatic relations between Tehran and Riyadh, severed since 2016.

The statement is very clear:

  • The embassies of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic Iran will reopen in less than two months.
  • Respect for the sovereignty of States.
  • Activating the security cooperation agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran signed in 2001.
  • Activating the cooperation agreement in the economic, trade, investment, technology, science, culture, sports and youth sectors signed between the parties in 1998.
  • Urging the three countries to exert all efforts to promote regional and international peace and security.

At first glance, the first four clauses suggest that the Chinese-brokered deal is essentially a mending of diplomatic relations between the two longtime adversaries. But in fact, the fifth clause is far from the standard text inserted into joint statements between states.

It appears to establish a new reference for conflicts in West Asia, in which China plays the role of “peacemaker” — in partnership with Iran and Saudi Arabia — in which Beijing assumes a role in various regional conflicts or influences the relevant parties.

Sources familiar with the negotiations have revealed to The Cradle that Chinese President Xi Jinping did not merely coat-tail a deal already underway between Tehran and Riyadh. Xi has, in fact, personally paved the way for this agreement to materialize. The Chinese head of state delved deep into its details since his visit to Saudi Arabia in December 2022, and then later, during Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s visit to Beijing in mid-February 2023.

More than one round of negotiations was held under Chinese auspices, during which the Iranians and Saudis finalized details negotiated between them in Iraq and Oman, during earlier rounds of talks.

It was by no means a given that the two sides would arrive at an agreement in their last round of discussions (6-10 March, 2023). But the Chinese representative managed to overcome all obstacles between the two delegations, after which the parties obtained approval from their respective leaderships to announce the deal on Friday.

China as regional guarantor

In the past couple of days, much has been written about the strategic implications of a  Chinese-brokered Saudi-Iranian agreement and its impact on China’s global role vis-à-vis the United States. The Persian Gulf is a strategic region for both powers, and the main source of China’s energy supply. It is likely why Beijing intervened to stem tensions between its two strategic allies. It is also something Washington, long viewed as the region’s “security guarantor,” could never have achieved.

Undoubtedly, much will be said about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MbS) “strategic adventurism” and his exploitation of  global changes to offset the decline of US regional influence. The rise of a multipolar, post-American order allows traditional US allies some space to explore their international options away from Washington, and in service of their immediate national interests.

Saudi Arabia’s current interests are related to the ambitious political, economic, financial, and cultural targets that MbS has set out for his country, and are based on two pillars:

  • Diversifying regional and global partnerships in order to adapt to global systemic changes that will help realize Riyadh’s grand plans.
  • Establishing security and political stability to allow Saudi Arabia to implement its major projects, especially those outlines in MbS’ “Vision 2030,” through which Riyadh envisions itself transforming into a regional incubator for finance, business, media, and the entertainment industry – similar to the role played by the UAE in decades past, or by Beirut before the Lebanese civil war in 1975.

In short, regional and domestic security and stability are vital for Riyadh to be able to implement its strategic goals. As such, confidential clauses were inserted into the Beijing Agreement to assure Iran and Saudi Arabia that their security imperatives would be met. Some of these details were provided to The Cradle, courtesy of a source involved in the negotiations:

  • Both Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran undertake not to engage in any activity that destabilizes either state, at the security, military or media levels.
  • Saudi Arabia pledges not to fund media outlets that seek to destabilize Iran, such as Iran International.
  • Saudi Arabia pledges not to fund organizations designated as terrorists by Iran, such as the People’s Mojahedin Organization (MEK), Kurdish groups based in Iraq, or militants operating out of Pakistan.
  • Iran pledges to ensure that its allied organizations do not violate Saudi territory from inside Iraqi territory. During negotiations, there were discussions about the targeting of Aramco facilities in Saudi Arabia in September 2019, and Iran’s guarantee that an allied organization would not carry out a similar strike from Iraqi lands.
  • Saudi Arabia and Iran will seek to exert all possible efforts to resolve conflicts in the region, particularly the conflict in Yemen, in order to secure a political solution that secures lasting peace in that country.

According to sources involved in the Beijing negotiations, no details on Yemen’s conflict were agreed upon as there has already been significant progress achieved in direct talks between Riyadh and Yemen’s Ansarallah resistance movement in January. These have led to major understandings between the two warring states, which the US and UAE have furiously sought to undermine in order to prevent a resolution of the Yemen war.

In Beijing however, the Iranian and Saudis agreed to help advance the decisions already reached between Riyadh and Sanaa, and build upon these to end the seven-year war.

Hence, although the Beijing statement primarily addresses issues related to diplomatic rapprochement, Iranian-Saudi understandings appear to have been brokered mainly around security imperatives. Supporters of each side will likely claim their country fared better in the agreement, but a deeper look shows a healthy balance in the deal terms, with each party receiving assurances that the other will not tamper with its security.

While Iran has never declared a desire to undermine Saudi Arabia’s security, some of its regional allies have made no secret of their intentions in this regard. In addition, MbS has publicly declared his intention to take the fight inside Iran, which Saudi intelligence services have been doing in recent years, specifically by supporting and financing armed dissident and separatist organizations that Iran classifies as terrorist groups.

The security priorities of this agreement should have been easy to spot in Beijing last week. After all, the deal was struck between the National Security Councils of Saudi Arabia and Iran, and included the participation of intelligence services from both countries. Present in the Iranian delegation were officers from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and from the intelligence arms of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

On a slightly separate note related to regional security — but not part of the Beijing Agreement — sources involved in negotiations confirmed to The Cradle that, during talks, the Saudi delegation stressed Riyadh’s commitment to the 2002 Arab peace initiative; refusing normalization with Tel Aviv before the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital.

What is perhaps most remarkable, and illustrates the determination by the parties to strike a deal without the influence of spoilers, is that Iranian and Saudi intelligence delegations met in the Chinese capital for five days without Israeli intel being aware of the fact. It is perhaps yet another testament that China — unlike the US — understands how to get a deal done in these shifting times.

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

Tunisian president seeks resumption of diplomatic ties with Syria

March 11 2023

(Photo credit: Reuters)

This represents the recent Arab embrace of Syria following the devastating earthquake that struck the country last month

By News Desk

Tunisian President Kais Saied said on 10 March that he is seeking a reappointment of ambassadors between his country and Syria, representing the growing Arab consensus to reintegrate the Syrian government into the regional fold.

“A decision must be taken on this issue,” Saied was quoted to have told Tunisia’s Foreign Minister Nabil Ammar during a meeting.

“Nothing can justify the absence of a Tunisian ambassador in Damascus and an ambassador from Syria in Tunis … The question of the regime in Syria concerns only the Syrian people, and we deal with the Syrian state,” the president added.

On 9 February, following the devastating earthquake that struck Turkiye and Syria, Saeid disclosed that the two countries were set to restore diplomatic relations, which Tunisia severed in 2012 as a result of what western and Gulf media claimed was the government’s ‘brutal crackdown on protests.’

Since 2021, Saied expressed an openness to upgrading his country’s diplomatic relations with the Syrian government.

This represents the growing embrace that Syria has witnessed from several Arab countries since the devastating quake struck the country on 6 February.

Countries such as Saudi Arabia, a principal instigator of the Syrian war, expressed the need to end the international and regional isolation of Syria – isolation which Washington continues to encourage despite its impediment of humanitarian aid to the disaster-stricken nation.

In 2017, Tunis reinstituted a limited diplomatic mission in Syria in order to track over 3,000 Tunisian militants fighting with the opposition.

The presence of foreign militants in Syria has been recorded as early as 2011, despite claims to the contrary by the opposition, which maintains until this day that there was no armed, anti-government activity in the country until 2012. This is despite the fact that armed men were filmed crossing the border into Syria from Iraq in 2011 by Al-Jazeera journalist Ali Hashem, whose video was suppressed by the Qatari-funded media outlet.

Militants from Tunisia, in particular, were present in Syria as early as 2011.

In 2014, writer and analyst on West Asian geopolitics, Sharmine Narwani, wrote – citing a Tunisian television report – that “a Tunisian jihadist who goes by the name of Abu Qusay, told Tunisian television that his ‘task’ in Syria [in 2011] was to destroy and desecrate mosques with Sunni names,” as well as to write “pro-government and blasphemous slogans on mosque walls” in order to incite sectarian tension and instigate defections from the Syrian army.

“It was a ‘tactic,’ he [said], to get the soldiers to ‘come on our side’ so that the army can become weak,” Narwani cited the Tunisian militant as saying. Actions such as this, as well as foreign funding, resulted in the Syrian military defections that triggered the rise of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in 2011.

The Tunisian television report has since been removed from YouTube.

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