Putin Tells Raisi in Phone Call: Russia Ready to Upgrade Cooperation with Iran

January 20, 2023

By Staff, Agencies

Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country is ready to upgrade cooperation with Iran in different fields as he held talks with President Raisi for the second time in less than ten days.

The Iranian and Russian presidents discussed bilateral ties and regional developments during a phone conversation initiated by the Kremlin on Thursday.

During the phone conversation, Raisi stressed the need to boost bilateral cooperation and coordination in various fields.

He also described as “positive and constructive” the agreements between the two countries for expanding cooperation in the fields of energy and transit.

For his part, Putin said Moscow is ready to boost cooperation with Tehran in the areas of energy as well as transit.

Iran and Russia are working to advance the North-South corridor which will facilitate transportation and greatly reduce transportation time.

In 2002, Russia, Iran, and India signed an agreement for the International North-South Transport Corridor [INSTC], a 7,200 km multi-mode network of ship, rail, and road route for moving freight between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe.

The INSTC is seen a game-changer that will shorten the distance and lower the cost of transportation from South Asia to Europe through Iran and Russia and potentially serve as an alternative to the Suez Canal for East-West trade.

The two leaders also discussed the situation in Syria during the conversation. Raisi stressed that Iran supports solving the Syrian crisis through the Astana Format.

Putin also highlighted the role of Astana talks in solving the Syrian conflict, noting that all sides are committed to the format.

 Iran and Russia, as the allies of the Syrian government, as well as Turkey, which sides with the opposition, set up the Astana peace process in January 2017 intending to put an end to the Syrian conflict through the involvement of the Syrian government and the opposition.

The leaders of Russia and Iran also agreed “to maintain contacts at different levels,” the Kremlin’s press service said, TASS reported.

The two leaders had discussed issues of mutual interest on January 18. Raisi had then expressed Iran’s readiness to play a positive intermediary role in ending the war between Russia and Ukraine.

“The Islamic Republic invariably lays emphasis on the [importance of] strengthening of regional convergence and [points out] the detrimental effect of the foreign intervention [in the region],” he said then while referring to developments in the Caucasus region and Syria.

The latest phone conversation comes a year after Raisi made a two-day visit to Moscow. After arriving in Tehran on January 21, 2022, Raisi told reporters that “fundamental agreements” on expanding all-out bilateral relations were clinched during the trip.

‘Fragmented world’ sleepwalks into World War III

Wednesday, 18 January 2023 10:31 AM  [ Last Update: Wednesday, 18 January 2023 10:31 AM ]

By Pepe Escobar

The self-appointed Davos “elites” are afraid. So afraid. At this week’s World Economic Forum meetings, mastermind Klaus Schwab – displaying his trademark Bond villain act – carped over and over again about a categorical imperative: we need “Cooperation in a Fragmented World”.

While his diagnosis of “the most critical fragmentation” the world is now mired in is predictably somber, Herr Schwab maintains that “the spirit of Davos is positive” and in the end we may all live happily in a “green sustainable economy.”

What Davos has been good at this week is showering public opinion with new mantras. There’s “The New System” which, considering the abject failure of the much ballyhooed Great Reset, now looks like a matter of hastily updating the current – rattled – operating system.

Davos needs new hardware, new programming skills, even a new virus. Yet for the moment all that’s available is a “polycrisis”: or, in Davos speak, a “cluster of related global risks with compounding effects.”

In plain English: a perfect storm.

Insufferable bores from that Divide and Rule island in northern Europe have just found out that “geopolitics”, alas, never really entered the tawdry “end of history” tunnel: much to their amazement it’s now centered – again – across the Heartland, as it’s been for most of recorded history.

They complain about “threatening” geopolitics, which is code for Russia-China, with Iran attached.

But the icing on the Alpine cake is arrogance/stupidity actually giving away the game: the City of London and its vassals are  livid because the “world Davos made” is fast collapsing.

Davos did not “make” any world apart from its own simulacrum.

Davos never got anything right, because these “elites” were always busy eulogizing the Empire of Chaos and its lethal “adventures” across the Global South.

Davos not only failed to foresee all recent, major economic crises but most of all the current “perfect storm”, linked to the neoliberalism-spawned deindustrialization of the Collective West.

And, of course, Davos is clueless about the real Reset taking place towards multipolarity.

Self-described opinion leaders are busy “re-discovering” that Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain was set in Davos – “against the backdrop of a deadly disease and an impeding world war” – nearly a century ago.

Well, nowadays the “disease” – fully bioweaponized – is not exactly deadly per se. And the “impending World War” is in fact being actively encouraged by a cabal of US Straussian neo-cons and neoliberal-cons: an unelected, unaccountable, bipartisan Deep State not even subject to ideology. Centennary war criminal Henry Kissinger still does not get it.

A Davos panel on de-globalization was rife on non-sequiturs, but at least a dose of reality was provided by Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto.

As for China’s vice-premier Liu He, with his vast knowledge of finance, science and technology, at least he was very helpful to lay down Beijing’s five top guidelines for the foreseeable future – beyond the customary imperial Sinophobia.

China will focus on expanding domestic demand; keeping industrial and supply chains “smooth”; go for the “healthy development of the private sector”; deepen state enterprise reform; and aim for “attractive foreign investment.”

Russian resistance, American precipice

Emmanuel Todd was not at Davos. But it was the French anthropologist, historian, demographer and geopolitical analyst who ended up ruffling all the appropriate feathers across the collective West these past few days with a fascinating anthropological object: a reality-based interview.

Todd spoke to Le Figaro – the newspaper of choice of the French establishment and haute bourgeoisie. The interview was published last Friday on page 22, sandwiched between proverbial Russophobic screeds and with an extremely brief mention on the bottom of the front page. So people really had to work hard to find it.   

Todd joked that he has the – absurd – reputation of a “rebel destroy” in France, while in Japan he’s respected, featured in mainstream media, and his books are published with great success, including the latest (over 100,000 copies sold): “The Third World War Has Already Started”.

Significantly, this Japanese best seller does not exist in French, considering the whole Paris-based publishing industry toes the EU/NATO line on Ukraine.

The fact that Todd gets several things right is a minor miracle in the current, abysmally myopic European intellectual landscape (there are other analysts especially in Italy and Germany, but they carry much less weight than Todd).

So here’s Todd’s concise Greatest Hits.

– A new World War is on: By “switching from a limited territorial war to a global economic clash, between the collective West on one side and Russia linked to China on the other side, this became a World War”.

– The Kremlin, says Todd, made a mistake, calculating that a decomposed Ukraine society would collapse right away. Of course he does not get into detail on how Ukraine had been weaponized to the hilt by the NATO military alliance.

– Todd is spot on when he stresses how Germany and France had become minor partners at NATO and were not aware of what was being plotted in Ukraine militarily: “They did not know that the Americans, British and Poles could allow Ukraine to fight an extended  war. NATO’s fundamental axis now is Washington-London-Warsaw-Kiev.”

– Todd’s major give away is a killer: “The resistance of Russia’s economy is leading the imperial American system to the precipice. Nobody had foreseen that the Russian economy would hold facing NATO’s ‘economic power’”.

– Consequently, “monetary and financial American controls over the world may collapse, and with them the possibility for the US of financing for nothing their enormous trade deficit”.

– And that’s why “we are in an endless war, in a clash where the conclusion is the collapse of one or the other.”

– On China, Todd might sound like a more pugnacious version of Liu He at Davos: “That’s the fundamental dilemma of the American economy: it cannot face Chinese competition without importing qualified Chinese work force.”

– As for the Russian economy, “it does accept market rules, but with an important role for the state, and it keeps the flexibility of forming engineers that allow adaptations, industrial and military.”

– And that bring us, once again, to globalization, in a manner that Davos roundtables were incapable of understanding: “We have delocalized so much of our industrial activity that we don’t know whether our war production may be sustained”.

– On a more erudite interpretation of that “clash of civilizations” fallacy, Todd goes for soft power and comes up with a startling conclusion: “On 75 percent of the planet, the organization of parenthood  was patrilineal, and that’s why we may identify a strong understanding of the Russian position. For the collective non-West, Russia affirms a reassuring moral conservatism.”

– So what Moscow has been able to pull off is to “reposition itself as the archetype of a big power, not only “anti-colonialist” but also patrilineal and conservative in terms of traditional mores.”

Based on all of the above, Todd smashes the myth sold by EU/NATO “elites” – Davos included – that Russia is “isolated”, stressing how votes in the UN and the overall sentiment across the Global South characterizes the war, “described by mainstream media as a conflict over political values, in fact, on a deeper level, as a conflict of anthropological values.”      

Between light and darkness

Could it be that Russia – alongside the real Quad, as I defined them (with China, India and Iran) – are prevailing in the anthropological stakes?  

The real Quad has all it takes to blossom into a new cross-cultural focus of hope in a “fragmented world”.

Mix Confucian China (non-dualistic, no transcendental deity, but with the Tao flowing through everything) with Russia (Orthodox Christian, reverencing the divine Sophia); polytheistic India (wheel of rebirth, law of karma); and Shi’ite Iran (Islam preceded by Zoroastrianism, the eternal cosmic battle between Light and Darkness).

This unity in diversity is certainly more appealing, and uplifting, than the Forever War axis.

Will the world learn from it? Or, to quote Hegel – “what we learn from history is that nobody learns from history” – are we hopelessly doomed?

Pepe Escobar is a veteran journalist, author and independent geopolitical analyst focused on Eurasia.

(The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)

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



A Moscow Meeting Shatters Fantasies of a Syrian ‘Confederation’

January 11 2023

Photo Credit: The Cradle
A geopolitical writer and journalist who previously worked at leading Lebanese daily As-Safir.

Malek al-Khoury

Russian-brokered Syrian-Turkish rapprochement will bury prospects of a divided Syria, with the potential for opposition factions to be co-opted into the armed forces.

The newly-initiated Syrian-Turkish rapprochement talks are headed in Damascus’ favor and the “Turkish concessions” derided by opponents are just the start, insiders tell The Cradle.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has already abandoned his dream of “praying in the Umayyad Mosque” in Damascus. But sources say this will be swiftly followed by further concessions that will throw a wrench into the ambitions of Syria’s opposition factions.

An undivided Syria

There will be no “federalism” or “confederation” – western codewords for the break up of the Syrian state – at these talks, but rather a “Turkish-Russian” acceptance of Damascus’ conditions.

For starters, Ankara plans to open the strategic M4 highway – which runs parallel to the Turkish border and connects all the vital Syrian cities and regions – as a prelude to opening the legal border crossings between Syria and Turkiye, which will re-establish trade routes between the two countries.

This move, based on an understanding between Damascus and Ankara, will essentially close the door on any opposition fantasies of breaking Syria into statelets, and will undermine the “Kurdish-American divisive ambition.”

It is not for nothing that Washington has sought to thwart communications between Ankara and Damascus. Under the guise of “fighting ISIS,” the US invested heavily in Syrian separatism, replacing the terror group with “Kurdish local forces” and reaped the rewards in barrels of stolen Syrian oil to help mitigate the global energy crisis.

Now Turkiye has closed the door to that ‘federalization’ plan.

A Russian-backed proposal

The Syrian-Turkish talks in Moscow on 28 December focused mainly on opening and establishing the necessary political, security, and diplomatic channels – a process initiated by their respective defense ministers.

While resolving the myriad thorny files between the two states is not as easy as the optimists would like, it is also nowhere as difficult as the fierce opponents of rapprochement try to suggest.

The Moscow discussions centered on mild, incremental solutions proposed by Russia. The Kremlin understands that the minefield between Ankara and Damascus needs to be dismantled with cold minds and hands, but insists that the starting point of talks is based on the political formulas of the Astana peace process that all parties have already accepted.

On the ground, Moscow is busy marketing satisfactory security settlements for all, though those on the battlefield appear to be the least flexible so far. The Russian plan is to “present security formulas to the military,” intended to be later translated into the integration of forces – whether Kurdish fighters or opposition militants – into the ranks of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).

This will be achieved via committees led by both Syrian and Turkish intelligence services, a Russian source involved in coordinating the talks tells The Cradle.

Occupied areas of Syria, in 2023

Co-opting the Kurds

The Russian proposals, according to the source, rely on two past successful models for reconciliation on the battlefield. The first is the “Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood model in northern Aleppo,” an area once controlled by Kurdish forces who began to coordinate with the SAA after the sweeping 2016 military operation that expelled opposition militants from the eastern neighborhoods of the city.

The Russian source says that the “Sheikh Maqsoud” model succeeded because of “security coordination,” revealing that “Syrian state security is deployed at the entrances to the neighborhood with checkpoints that coordinate with the Kurdish forces inside – in every way, big and small.” This security coordination includes “arresting criminally wanted persons, and facilitating administrative and service services” in coordination with Damascus.

The second reconciliation model used by Russian forces in Syria succeeded in bringing together the SAA and Sheikh Maqsoud Kurdish militias in a joint military maneuver conducted near the town of Manbij in the countryside of Aleppo last August.

While the Russian source confirms that the experience of “security coordination” between the SAA and the Kurdish forces was “successful,” he cautions that these models need “political arrangements” which can only be achieved by “an agreement in Astana on new provisions to the Syrian constitution, which give Kurds more flexibility in self-governance in their areas.”

Opposition amnesty

A parallel proposal revealed to The Cradle by a Turkish source, approaches ground solutions from a “confederation” angle, anathema to the Syrian authorities. According to him, “Damascus must be convinced of sharing power with the qualified factions of the (Turkish) National Army for that.”

While the Turkish proposal tried to move a step closer to Damascus’ aims, it seems that Russian mediation contributed to producing a new paradigm: This would be based on the tried-and-tested Syrian “military reconciliation” model used for years – namely, that opposition militants hand over their arms, denounce hostility to the state, and are integrated into the SAA.

Turkiye’s abandonment of its “demand to overthrow the regime” applies also to its affiliated military factions inside Syria, as the latter’s goals have dwindled to preserving some areas of influence in the north of the country. This is the current flavor of Turkiye’s reduced “confederation” ambitions: To maintain Turkish-backed factions within “local administrations” in northern areas where Turkiye has influence. This, in return for giving up on Ankara’s political ambition of “regime change” in Damascus and redrawing Syria’s northern map.

The solution here will require amending the Syrian constitution, a process that began several years ago to no avail.

From the Syrian perspective, officials are focused on eliminating all opposing separatist or terrorist elements who do not have the ability to adapt to a “unified” Syrian society.

Therefore, Damascus rejects military reconciliation proposals for any “sectarian” separatist or factional militias. Syrian officials reiterate that “the unity of the lands and the people” is the only gateway to a solution, away from the foreign interests that promote “terrorism or secession” – a reference to the Turkish and American role in Syria’s war.

Reconciliation on Damascus’ terms

There is no “confederation” in the dictionary of the Syrian state, and it is determined to stick hard to the principle of Syrian unity until the end. Damascus is intent on one goal: Reconciliations based on surrendering arms in the countryside of Latakia, Idlib, Aleppo, Raqqa, Hasakah, Qamishli, and al-Tanf, which are the areas that are still outside the control of the state.

According to the Turkish source, Syria refused to discuss anything “outside the framework of reconciliations and handing over weapons and regions,” which he says “makes it difficult for Ankara to undertake its mission,” especially in light of the fact that the Al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front controls large parts of these target areas.

A Syrian source tells The Cradle that the “Qamishli model” of military reconciliation is the closest one that applies to this case: Wherein “the SAA and national defense forces (the majority of which are pro-Damascus Kurds) coordinate fully.”

He makes clear that Damascus has already provided ample self-governance mechanisms for Kurds in the country’s north:

“The (Kurdish-run) Autonomous Administration in Syria already exists. It deals directly with Syria’s Ministry of Local Administration (in Damascus) and has multiple agencies that work through local representative councils to implement government plans in terms of security, tax collection, and services,” and of course it consists of the people of the region – Kurds.

The recent statement of top Erdogan advisor Yassin Aktay may throw a wrench in those works. His insistence that Turkiye should maintain control over the city of Aleppo – Syria’s second most populous, and its industrial heart – did not come out of nowhere.

Ankara considers that its repatriation of three million Syrian refugees should start from “local administrations run by the (Turkish-backed) Syrian National Army (a rebranded version of the opposition ‘Free Syrian Army),” says the Turkish source.

He is referring to Idlib, Aleppo, and their countrysides, and the areas in which Turkiye launched its “Olive Branch” and “Euphrates Shield” military operations. These locales in Syria’s north include the northern and eastern countryside of Aleppo, including Azaz, Jarabulus, al-Bab, Afrin, and its environs.

Turkiye may consider gradually handing over these strategic zones to its allied Syrian militias, he says.

“Call it confederation or not, these areas should be controlled by the Syrian National Army factions instead of the Al-Nusra Front – in order to ensure the safe return of the refugees.”

Steady progress

In short, the Russian mediation to bring Damascus and Ankara closer is moving slowly, but according to the Turkish source, “it is closer to reconciliation because the Syrian Ministry of Local Administration is beginning to take charge of regional affairs after holding new local council elections – in compliance with plans forged in the Astana process.”

Regarding Astana, the Turkish source says, “Let the Syrians treat the Kurdish and opposition areas as one, if the Kurds agree to dismantle their factions and join the Syrian army within a certain equation, the opposition factions will also accept.”

Regarding the complicated geopolitics of Syria’s east – currently occupied by US troops and their proxies – a high-ranking Syrian official who recently visited Saudi Arabia and Cairo, proposed “Arab intervention with the Syrian tribes to disengage tribe members in the Al-Tanf region from the US forces.” But according to the official, this would be subject to “the progress of relations between Damascus, Riyadh, Cairo, and possibly even Jordan.”

A few days ago, a video message was sent by Nusra Front leader Abu Muhammad al-Julani, in which he thundered: “Where are the armies of the Muslims?” It is a topical message from Al Qaeda’s Syria boss, who is angling to maintain his sectarian “area of ​​influence” in northwest Syria – strategic Idlib on the Turkish-Syrian border. Julani’s destructive narrative may be the last barrier to break for Damascus, Ankara, and Moscow to strike a deal on the ground.

UN Security Council Extends Al Qaeda Lifeline in Idlib, Again

JANUARY 9, 2023


United Nations Security Council extended its Resolution 2642, the Al Qaeda lifeline supplies through Turkey breaching Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity officially for an additional six months.

The resolution which was supposed to be met with at least Russia’s veto provides thousands of Al Qaeda terrorists in the province of Idlib enough material and a direct internationally-secured supply route from NATO member state Turkey to occupied Idlib province through the Bab Al Hawa border crossing currently manned by Al Qaeda terrorists.

The NATO-controlled United Nations Security Council with Russia and China despite being permanent members of it and despite being opposed to NATO proxy armies of terrorists have condemned up to 4 million Syrians to continue living under the mercy of the Al Qaeda terrorists for an additional six months as if the past decade is not already more than enough for them.

United Nations Security Council lists Al Qaeda Levant, aka Nusra Front – HTS (Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham) and its affiliated groups as terrorist organizations, yet this particular resolution seems to acknowledge the control of these terrorists over Syrian territories against the will of the Syrian people and the Syrian state, a founding member of the United Nations and one of the victims of the biased acts of the United Nations and its different entities.

UNSC Resolution 2642 is a continuation of a series of resolutions regarding Syria starting with resolution 2042 in 2012 adopted by the international body entrusted to preserve peace and security around the world, none of these resolutions favor the Syrian people despite its wordings unless some still believe that NATO is a defensive alliance responsible for spreading democracy and freedoms in the world and ignoring this ‘defensive’ alliance’s role, collectively sometimes, and unilaterally in others in the illegal invasions of a number of countries with Libya and Iraq as horrible examples with millions of people killed, maimed, raped, displaced, their countries ruined, and their riches plundered by the ‘defensive’ alliance.

UNSC 2642 Extending lifeline supplies for Al Qaeda in Idlib - Syria

The Syrian people continue to suffer with this same Security Council that refused to convene to discuss and condemn the repeated Israeli bombings against Syria the latest of which the bombing of Damascus International Airport, or the continuous illegal occupation of parts of Syria including not coincidentally the main oil fields and food basket farmlands by the US Army.

Meanwhile, 90% of the Syrians, especially those in the areas under the control of the Syrian government are living under the poverty line and watching the US Army stealing their oil, and wheat, and occupying their main gas field depriving them of their basics while the USA and its European Union cronies impose a complete blockade preventing them from importing these basic needs from other countries.

We have no clue yet why Russia did not veto the extension of Resolution 2642 this time, its officials signaled on earlier occasions that their previous approvals to extend the same resolution would be the last yet they still allow the resolution to be extended.

Those concerned about the well-being of the Syrians trapped in regions occupied by Al Qaeda and the army of NATO member state Turkey could rely on the humanitarian corridors into Idlib under the control of the Syrian authorities, bypassing these corridors implies that the intention of extending the 2642 resolution in its shape is meant to allow the continuous supplies of weapons to the terrorists in Idlib from their sponsors in Turkey and other NATO member states and to hold the Syrian people hostages to the conceits and control of Al Qaeda fanatics in Idlib.

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Hezbollah is ‘Israel’s’ greatest threat: The Jerusalem Post

6 Jan 2023

Source: Israeli media

By Al Mayadeen English 

An Israeli correspondent says most Israeli occupation security officials still emphasize that with its Radwan special forces, Hezbollah is the occupation’s greatest threat.

Israeli occupation soldiers on the border with Lebanon (Flash90)

    An article written by Yonah Jeremy Bob and published in the Israeli newspaper, The Jerusalem Post, indicated that “Hezbollah is Israel’s greatest threat.”

    The article highlights that most Israeli occupation security establishment officials “still emphasize – behind closed doors and sometimes publicly” – that Hezbollah, with its approximately 150,000 rockets and Radwan special forces, is the occupation’s greatest threat.

    The Israeli correspondent quoted an Israeli occupation soldier as saying that “Hezbollah is on the fence, so we get ready for everything. It is very real.”

    “Any unpredictable hit in the ‘war between the wars’ campaign [with Syria] could lead to a giant Lebanon conflict,” the occupation soldier considered.

    The soldier pointed out that “Hezbollah soldiers gained experience in Syria. They are more independent operators, have heavier firepower, use lookouts, battle formations.”

    “If Radwan got to Metulla…,” the occupation soldier said before his voice faded away “as if finishing the thought was too dark of an option,” the Israeli correspondent indicated.

    This comes after the military media of the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon – Hezbollah published on Sunday a video titled “We swear we are capable… and we will cross,” conveying a direct message to the Israeli occupation.

    The video simulates the scenario of the Resistance fighters crossing into the occupied Palestinian territories, after making a hole in the concrete wall between Lebanon and occupied Palestine. The video depicts how the Resistance fighters succeeded in infiltrating the occupied territories, where confrontations with Israeli occupation soldiers break out.

    The video also depicts scenes of confrontations, whereby the Resistance fighters target the occupation soldiers and storm their positions, starting from the northern border of Palestine and ending on Palestinian shores.

    “قسماً قادرون.. سنعبر”.. رسالة المقاومة الإسلاميّة في #لبنان – #حزب_الله إلى الاحتلال الإسرائيلي في العام الجديد.
    البداية من الحدود الشماليّة، والنهاية.. عند شواطئ بحر #فلسطين.. pic.twitter.com/adAsZSIpjN— قناة الميادين (@AlMayadeenNews) January 1, 2023

    Earlier, The Jerusalem Post considered that Hezbollah poses a great threat to “Israel”, which is similar to the danger of Iran’s nuclear program.

    The Israeli newspaper stressed the need for “Israel” to view Hezbollah’s growing arsenal of precision missiles as a major strategic threat on par with Iran’s nuclear program.

    It also pointed out that Hezbollah fighters have been increasingly active on the border with occupied Palestine in recent times and have set up dozens of observation points, increased their patrols, and monitored and documented the movements of Israeli occupation forces.

    On Monday, Israeli media, commenting on Hezbollah’s video, said “Hezbollah is maneuvering to storm northern Israel [occupied Palestine], and is showing the combat status of its fighters.”

    Israeli Channel 12 journalist, Sapir Lipkin, suggested that the publication of the video was linked to several factors, saying that “under the mandate of the Netanyahu government, Hezbollah has published a new psyops warfare film  it produced, in which it is trying to show its capabilities to storm the separation wall and act against Israel.”

    Read more: Soleimani, Muhandes, Mughniyeh prohibited US occupation: Nasrallah

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      Wars – How They Start and End?

      December 12, 2022


      by Marwan Salamah

      Expressing displeasure with a counterparty is the primary method of communication between countries regarding what they view as an encroachment on their important national interests, or what they perceive as threats to their security. Subject of course, that they had previously declared and clearly communicated what they consider to be their critical national interests and their essential security framework, which were deemed fair and realistic and not rejected convincingly by the other parties.

      The next step in any misunderstanding is some saber rattling and minor diplomatic or even kinetic skirmishes of sorts. These are employed in the hope of deterring the other party and inducing it to change its course of action or policy. These are the bottom-of-the-rack preliminary tools of belligerence. They are easy to freeze or cancel, once both parties wisely elect to sit down and address the issues in dispute in a bona fide manner and are willing to compromise in favor of peace rather than war.

      How Wars Start

      The basic problem is that the concepts of national interests and security are pretty wide and loose and can encompass the evil and ridiculous as well as the fair and rational, making it easy to “cry wolf” and claim that a country’s national interests or security have been threatened. It boils down to a matter of definitions:

      National Interests: it is not fair or rational to consider a country’s desire to exploit others as a fair national interest, even if it is presented as seeking needed resources that it lacks. Nor is it acceptable to strong-arm poorer and weaker countries to follow unsuitable policies or to collect from them unpayable debts that it originally helped load up. As for designating parts of the world as one’s own backyard, it has long become another passé national interests concept.

      Most countries have different religions, cultures, customs, values, local laws, practices, and political systems. Not only does changing other countries’ cultures not qualify as fair and just national interests, but also borders on the ridiculous when some countries unilaterally appoint themselves as heaven’s guardian on earth and incorporate such metaphysical concepts into their national interests. Does changing other people into one’s image make them more humane or Godlier? Or does it make them more pliable for exploitation?

      History confirms that such attempts have never been successful in perpetuating themselves, as evidenced by Alexander’s Hellenistic empire, Great Rome, Genghis Khan, the Golden Horde, the Crusades, the Islamic conquests, etc. – they were all eventually expunged or melded into the cultures that they tried to change, at a huge human and physical cost.

      Undoubtedly, an exploiter’s rewards can be attractive in the short term, subject that the infringement or exploitation being successful. But in the longer term, pressure will continue to be exerted to return to the original status, or a semblance of it, and again, at a huge human and physical cost.

      Defending a country’s national territory is considered a paramount national interest (is also a security objective). Consequently, territorial or border disputes are the most popular reasons for starting wars, especially for smaller nations. But if we dig only skin-deep into the history, we will quickly find that almost no country has, throughout the ages, maintained its theoretical or historical borders – it has always been a continuous ebb and flow of territory usurped or lost, more so in Europe and the ex-colonialized world. Nevertheless, many falsely justify this as a casus belli, or a rallying call, to regain what they regard as usurped national land. They do this with total disregard to the views and wishes of the current inhabitants of the territories in dispute, thus lending credence to the likelihood that it, in reality, is a camouflage to exploit another nation’s land. The sad part is that these wars regularly flare up despite the presence of the UN and the International Court, which were created, among other things, to adjudicate the validity of such territorial disputes and, unless a gross miscarriage of justice occurs, all grounds for territorial wars are unjustified.

      Fair national interests mean those objectives or activities that allow a country to exploit, unfettered, its own resources within its territory, without harming others. Harming others includes such egregious actions as polluting or blocking jointly shared rivers, seas, and air, implementing beggar thy neighbor policies, insidiously interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, and forcing weaker nations to act against their own interests while threatening them with a big stick, fully aware that whatever carrots are offered will in no way compensate the damage inflicted.

      Security Threats: Similarly, the concept of deterring security threats is wide and can be whimsically defined. No doubt, all governments are bound to protect their people and territory and must be prepared for defensive war, but always prioritize peace in both speech and action.

      However, if a historical enmity between two nations remains alive in a time of peace, which usually happens by design, and as embers under the ashes, clashes, and wars can erupt at any time making extra preparedness vital. Avoiding this requires that historical enemies exercise extra care when dealing or communicating with each other and avoid imprudent belligerent posturing which could easily be misconstrued or misinterpreted to their mutual detriment.

      If one nation has constantly, and for many years, regarded another as an enemy and continuously and unabashedly declares it as such and abuses it in its public media, then it is reasonable to expect the abused nation to be constantly alert with a great deal of trepidation of what belligerence could suddenly befall it. It is likely to be doubly sensitive to any threats that suddenly appear at its doorstep and to think or expect otherwise would be rash and foolish. Unless the abuser’s original plan is to trigger a response that it assesses is well within its capability of overcoming. In such a case, the abusing nation is on the warpath and is a danger to itself and to its neighbors, especially if the threatened nation is also powerful.

      People do not normally start wars unless they think they can win and make off with the proverbial loot. Only a fool starts a war that he is unsure of winning. King Croesus of Lydia in 547 BC comes to mind, but history abounds with such fools. Alternatively, some people try to avoid wars but are cornered into one by a bully, these could have quite surprising outcomes, similar to a cornered cat that turns into a raging lion.

      In other words, the causes of war can arise from factors other than fair national interests or realistic security needs, in many historical cases they have tended to be the products of pure avarice and hubris, the well-known very potent human herbicides.

      How Can a War End

      Once a war begins, it is unlikely to be aborted by either combatant as long as its outcome remains favorable – or at least, is not overwhelmingly unfavorable. Battles may be aborted or even lost, but the war would rage on until one or more of the following occurs:

      1. Decisive Overall Defeat: One of the combatants is decisively defeated. This means complete destruction of the loser physically and structurally, enabling its full exploitation, maybe forever, or until it is able to rebuild itself or allowed to do so.
      2. Undecisive Win or Defeat: In this case, a truce may be declared which means, sooner or later, a new conflagration is inevitable. In the meantime, some exploitation may be possible.
      3. Double Defeat: in the event the warring foes are extremely powerful, they may be able to mutually destroy or weaken each other, making it impossible to continue. Historically, one is reminded of the recurring simultaneous mutual defeats and weakening of the Byzantines and Persian Sassanids, for only then could they achieve longer periods of peace. Today, however, the nuclear-armed opponents are not only guaranteed to mutually destroy each other, but also everybody else on earth. If this happens, then the faraway meek or poor may indeed inherit the earth, or whatever is left of it.

      That however is not the end of wars. They are not entirely kinetic and never have been. Historically, economic weapons have always played an important and effective part in weakening an enemy and even bringing him down to his knees suing for peace.

      Sanctions are ancient, they go back thousands of years in the form of embargoes, blockages, confiscation of wealth and assets, and the classical sieges of cities and fortresses. Hitting the enemies’ sources of income and livelihood (including the destruction of crops) was a standard procedure in any ancient war. The Pericles embargo of the city-state of Megara in 432 BC is usually the first reference presented, although it backfired. So was the Ottoman blockage of the Silk Road to Europe in 1453. But the most interesting is King Mithridates of Pontus on the Black Sea who, unable to ward off powerful Roman incursions on his lands in 88 BC, decided to hit the economic jugular of Rome and ransack its money collection system in Asia Minor as well as destroy the trading centers there. The mayhem he created resulted in a collapse, that some historians compare to the 2008 financial crash but without a Fed to bail out the banks and the bondholders. Bankruptcies galore of the wealthy and bloody riots of the plebs whose grain subsidies were halted hit Rome hard. Even a small civil war erupted among the military leaders on how to address the crisis. This continued for four years until Rome managed to sign a peace treaty with Mithridates in 84 BC. But the troubles reignited until 63 BC when Mithridates’ son betrayed him inducing him to opt for suicide rather than fall into Roman hands – was that an early color revolution?

      But the cruelest of the economic wars were, as today, the sanctions, sieges, and blockades that starved the entrapped enemy, both civilian and military, until they accepted whatever abominable punishment was to be meted out. And the further we go into history, the crueler the punishment regardless of what the pre-surrender promises were.

      These economic wars increased in intensity and frequency with the beginning of the age of discovery in the 15th century, and by the 20th century had become more sophisticated, hybrid, and easier to implement and control. They now include economic sanctions on countries, products, companies, and even specific people. A powerful country’s laws are unilaterally applied outside its territory enabling it to carry out (unlawful) arrests of foreign citizens anywhere in the world and unlawfully confiscate other peoples’ assets and wealth without proper due process.

      The problem with economic warfare is that it has been craftily divorced from kinetic wars in that it continues even after the guns go silent in a truce or peace agreement. Such is the existing current hatred or the blind insistence on winning, no matter what. Does that make true world peace a hopeless dream? Or does it only make it more of a challenge to the sane?

      Russia Won’t Suffer Losses After West Imposes Oil Price Cap No Matter What – Putin

      December 10, 2022

      By Staff, Agencies

      Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the economic issues on Friday as he commented on the western sanctions limiting the price of Russian oil.

      Noting that the cap, introduced by the G7, the EU and Australia, won’t affect Russia at the moment, Putin stressed that “The imposed cap corresponds with the prices at which we sell today. In this sense, the decision does not affect us in any way. To be honest, it is not important,” Putin said at a press conference following his visit to Kyrgyzstan. “We will not suffer losses – no matter what.”

      He warned, however, that such a step may undermine global energy markets, resulting in an oil industry collapse worldwide if consumers are able to dictate prices.

      “Following some harmful non-market decision would be stupid for everyone, including the consumers; because they must realize – if they will insist on prices that are pleasant to them, even if they achieve this, and the prices will go down, investments will be reduced to zero. In the end, prices will skyrocket, hitting those who offer such solutions,” he noted.

      “As for the good results [in the Russian economy], it could have been better, we would like it to be better. The truth is, however, that the forecasts suggested a 20% economic recession in Russia; there is a recession, but it is at 2.9%. That’s, of course, a huge difference, and we understand that those who predicted such a development of events for us made a major mistake,” Putin said.

      The Russian leader noted that, despite a certain slowdown in the economy, “the situation is indeed better than in many other countries in a number of ways,” since Russia shows better inflation numbers than Europe.

      Putin also noted that Moscow would consider cutting oil output as a viable response to the price cap introduction.

      “As for our reaction, I have already said that we simply won’t sell [oil] to the countries that make such decisions. Maybe, we will even consider the possibility – I’m not saying that it is decided – we will consider, if necessary, the possibility of reducing [oil] output. We have an agreement with OPEC+ on a well-known production target,” he added.

      Since 2021, energy prices have been surging globally, but the situation deteriorated after February 2022, when the US, the EU, Britain, and their allies introduced sanctions on Moscow, responding to Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. As a result of the sanctions, gas prices have accelerated their growth, resulting in an energy crisis in Europe.

      Nevertheless, G7 nations and the EU [which as a bloc is closely associated with the group], as well as Australia, imposed a price cap on Russian oil, setting it at $60 per barrel.

      The cap, which came into effect on December 5, will be reviewed every two months to remain at 5% below the International Energy Agency benchmark. Moscow lambasted the price cap as an attempt to manipulate “the basic principles of free markets,” noting that Russia won’t sell oil to countries that adopt it.

      The Complete Destruction of Ukraine is Unavoidable (Douglas Macgregor)

      December 09, 2022

      US throws Khashoggi case under a bus after suit against MBS dismissed

      7 Dec 2022

      Source: Agencies

      By Al Mayadeen English 

      Prior to his electoral victory, US President Biden pledged he would make MBS a “pariah” and said he would bring justice to the dismembered victim. 

      A US federal judge ruled on Wednesday that the lawsuit against the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman be lifted after it was announced by federal authorities that he was basically “immune” from jurisdiction. 

      The reason for such entitlement was owed to his title as prime minister of Saudi Arabia which he was granted on September 27, just six days before the State Department’s court-imposed deadline to determine whether Mohammed was protected from legal action.

      “The US has informed the court that he is immune, and Mohammed is therefore ‘entitled to head of state immunity … while he remains in office,’”  reads a filing by Judge John D. Bates of the US District Court for the District of Columbia who heeded the motion to protect the Crown Prince despite there being “credible allegations of his involvement in Khashoggi’s murder.”

      The filing also dismissed the claims filed against two senior Saudi officials due to a lack of evidence in pushing for a ruling over their case.

      Read more: Amnesty: US immunity to MBS ‘deep betrayal’

      Civil rights organization, DAWN, founded by the late Jamal Khashoggi condemned the move as a “last ditch effort to escape the jurisdiction of the court.”

      “DAWN’s lawsuit against [Mohammed] bin Salman (MBS) for his ruthless murder of Jamal Khashoggi is only one part of our continued efforts for justice and accountability for this crime, and the many other crimes the Saudi government is perpetrating against its own citizens,” a statement reads by the organization’s executive director, Sarah Leah Whitson. “While we are disappointed in the decision, we will consider all options to continue our legal challenges to MBS’s criminal behavior.”

      Bin Salman admitted he was responsible for the death of Khashoggi but denied any direct involvement in the assassination. 

      Read more: US says MBS’ ‘legal immunity’ was unavoidable, albeit not so sure

      Prior to his electoral victory, US President Biden pledged he would make MBS a “pariah” and said he would bring justice to the dismembered victim. 

      But when Biden greeted MBS earlier this year with a fist bump, it was clear to the public that Biden broke his vow.

      In response to the outrageous move, Khashoggi’s fiance, Hatice Cengiz, urged the President to “uphold your promise to pursue justice for Jamal.”

      “President Biden, imagine yourself in my position, trying to move on while knowing that the people who killed your loved one are still free,” Cengiz wrote. “Imagine the trauma of knowing that what happened to your loved one can and will happen to someone else because the perpetrators know there will be no consequences.”

      Read more: 

      “Israel” Admits Its Army’s Readiness Is Eroding

      December 7, 2022 

      By Staff

      Yedioth Ahronoth military affairs commentator, Ron Ben Yishai, said that “A senior source in the security establishment presented two weeks ago an important piece of information related to the security situation in the ‘Israeli’ entity”.

      The source said, “A tremendous part of the regular ground occupation army is currently being recently invested in the West Bank with ongoing security missions, and this comes at the expense of training that it has not implemented.”

      “This matter directly harms the army’s readiness for war, whether in Lebanon or in other arenas. Indeed, if there is any escalation that deteriorates into a war on several fronts, we may enter it unprepared, as what happened in the July 2006 War in Lebanon,” added the source.

      Ben Yishai said that he has heard “these gloomy expectations more than once in the recent period from different sources talking about the capability of the ‘Israeli’ army and its readiness for a large-scale confrontation, in both regular and reserve soldiers.”

      He went in to say, “The data speaks for itself. At the end of the last year, 13 battalions of the ground army – the vast majority of which are regular battalions and some reserve battalions – maintained the ongoing security in the West Bank and along the line of contact. Meanwhile, at the present time and for several months, 25 battalions from the ‘Israeli” ground army are maintaining security in West Bank, along with special units that carry out special tasks and 16 companies of border guards,” stressing that it is a “huge” force by all standards.

      Besides, Ben Yishai said the situation will never improve and the “Israeli” army won’t hold training in the near future.

      By the same token, the military affairs commentator noted that “no responsible and reliable source in ‘Israel’ can currently estimate when this escalation will subside or instead deteriorate into a large-scale intifada. But the prevailing opinion among all professionals is that the region is volatile and can catch fire in the future.”

      Against the backdrop of tensions in the West Bank, Ben Yishai considered the coalition negotiations to have a special meaning, and said, “The most dangerous in them is the chaos and the struggle over powers, which not only characterize ministers and senior officials in the security, military and internal security establishment, but also all government ministries, which may lead to the lack of governance, both in the West Bank and in the occupied area west of the Green Line.”

      He, likewise, affirmed that the struggle over power and the political differences between ministers will probably spill over to the “Israeli” army, the “Shabak” [Shin Bet], and the police.

      The military expert concluded by saying, “The capacity and readiness of ground forces in the ‘Israeli’ army is rapidly eroding. The vulnerability to explosion in the areas of the West Bank, and perhaps in Gaza, is also increasing. Chaos in the government institutions threatens to cause fatal damage to governance in ‘Israel’ and the territories. Therefore, there is only one thing that can be said confidently and that is 2023 will be a challenging year.”

      11 years on… UK gets what it was always after; Libya’s oil

      29 Nov 2022

      Source: Agencies

      By Al Mayadeen English 

      British oil giants BP and Shell are returning to the oil-rich north African country just over a decade after the UK took part in destabilizing the nation with the 2011 military intervention.

      An oil and gas platform off the coast of Libya (Getty Images)

      Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) agreed last month for BP to begin drilling for and producing natural gas in a major project off the north African country’s coast.

      The UK corporation, whose board of directors includes former MI6 chief Sir John Sawers, controls exploration areas in Libya nearly three times the size of Wales.

      For a long time, British officials have sought to profit from oil in Libya, which contains 48 billion barrels of reserves – the largest oil resources in Africa, accounting for 3% of the world total.

      BP is one of the few international oil and gas companies with exploration and production permits in Libya. Muammar Gaddafi nationalized its assets in Libya shortly after seizing power in a 1969 coup that called into question the entire British position in the country and region.

      Following years of tensions between the two countries, Prime Minister Tony Blair met Gaddafi in 2004 and struck the so-called “Deal in the Desert,” which included a $900 million exploration and production agreement between BP and Libya’s NOC.

      Read next: UN calls for Libya ceasefire after deadly clashes

      BP re-entered the country in 2007, but its operations were halted by the 2011 NATO-backed aggression on the country, resulting in ousting Gaddafi and later killing him.

      BP operations resumed after the signing of a memorandum of understanding in 2018 between the NOC and Eni, the Italian oil major, to resume exploration, with Eni as the oil field operator. BP CEO Bob Dudley hailed the agreement as an important step “toward returning to our work in Libya.”

      The $8 billion BP-ENI project includes two exploration areas, one onshore in the Ghadames basin and one offshore in the Sirte basin, totaling approximately 54,000 km2. The Sirte basin concession alone encompasses an area larger than Belgium.

      The UK’s other oil major, Shell, is also “preparing to return as a major player” in Libya, according to its statement in a confidential document. After putting its Libyan operations on hold in 2012, the corporation is now planning to explore new oil and gas fields in several blocks.

      Oil bribery

      In September of last year, a third British company, Petrofac, which provides engineering services to oil operations, was awarded a $100 million contract to help develop the Erawin oil field in Libya’s deep southwest.

      Petrofac was at the time under investigation for bribery by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO). One of its executives, global head of sales David Lufkin, had already pleaded guilty in 2019 to 11 counts of bribery. 

      The SFO convicted and fined Petrofac on seven counts of bribery between 2011 and 2017 in the month following the award of the Libya contract.

      The company pleaded guilty to using agents to bribe officials to the tune of £32 million in order to win oil contracts in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

      “A key feature of the case,” the SFO noted, “was the complex and deliberately opaque methods used by these senior executives to pay agents across borders, disguising payments through sub-contractors, creating fake contracts for fictitious services and, in some cases, passing bribes through more than one agent and one country, to disguise their actions.”

      It works with BP in several countries around the world, including Iraq, Azerbaijan, and Oman, and in the North Sea.

      Backed by UK government

      All three British firms re-entering Libya have close ties to the British government. During some of the years when Petrofac paid bribes, the company was led by Ayman Asfari, who donated nearly £800,000 to the Conservative Party between 2009 and 2017.

      David Cameron appointed Asfari, who is now a non-executive director of Petrofac, as one of his business ambassadors in 2014.

      In May 2019, when Petrofac was under investigation by the SFO, UKEF provided £700m in project insurance for the design and operation of an oil refinery at Duqm in Oman, a project in which Petrofac was named as the sole UK exporter.

      Read next: Libya’s largest oilfield resumes operations after 2 months of shutdown

      Petrofac was one of five companies that sponsored the official reopening of the British Embassy in Tripoli in June of this year.

      Ambassador Caroline Hurndall told the audience, “I am especially proud that British businesses are collaborating with Libyan companies and having a meaningful impact upon Libya’s economic development. Many of those businesses are represented here tonight.”

      BP and Shell are close to Whitehall, with a long history of personnel revolving between the corporation and former senior civil servants.

      Control of oil

      Despite all that has befallen the north African nation, Libya was the UK’s third largest source of oil last year, after Norway and the US, supplying 7.8% of all British oil imports. Oil provides over 90% of Libya’s revenue, which makes it the country’s lifeline. 

      However, the country’s NATO-backed aggression has provoked a battle for control over the oil industry which has been described as being in “disarray”, with “little clarity on who really is in control of the nation’s most valuable resource.”

      UK ministers have long sought access to Libya’s oil in the international rivalry over access to the key resource. Documents obtained by the oil-focused NGO Platform in 2009 revealed that Labour ministers and senior civil servants met with Shell at least 11 times and possibly as many as 26 times in less than four years to discuss the company’s oil interests in Libya.

      Read next: Libya Announces the End of Division in Oil Sector

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      Do Not Apologize: Being Pro-Palestinian is Not a Crime

      November 26, 2022

      Canadian member of Ontario’s provincial parliament, Joel Harden. (Photo: via Wikipedia)
      – Paul Salvatori is a Toronto-based journalist, community worker and artist. Much of his work on Palestine involves public education, such as through his recently created interview series, “Palestine in Perspective” (The Dark Room Podcast), where he speaks with writers, scholars and activists. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

      By Paul Salvatori

      This week Joel Harden, a Canadian member of Ontario’s provincial parliament, made this unnecessary apology:

      “I would like to apologize unreservedly to the Jewish community for comments I made during an interview with the Ottawa Forum on Israel Palestine. I spoke in a way that perpetrated an antisemitic stereotype towards Jewish neighbours. I regret my choice of words and sincerely apologize to the Jewish community. You have my commitment that it won’t happen again and I will continue to work with Jewish leaders who can help me understand antisemitism.”

      Specifically, the apology was made in reference to this statement he made in the interview, in August 2021

      “If I were to name…the single greatest threat, the single greatest origin of violence in the Middle East, it is unquestionably the state of Israel and the way in which they feel absolutely no shame in defying international law, doing whatever they want.”

      There’s nothing wrong with this since, first, it’s no secret that Israel has absolutely no reservations about and is routinely breaking international law (as confirmed by the United Nations, Amnesty International, other major human rights organizations the world over) and, second, whether Israel is in fact “the single greatest origin of violence in the Middle East” is at worst only debatable.

      Given that Israel is constantly demolishing Palestinian properties, opening live fire and killing Palestinian civilians, illegally raiding Palestinian homes, physically and mentally (as through its military) harassing Palestinians, detaining them without any charge whatsoever, and holding them indefinitely behind bars (often referred to more nicely as “administrative detention”)—just to name a few of its crimes and in addition to its periodic bombing of Gaza (a densely open-air prison where Palestinians are wholly defenseless)—it is hardly a farfetched a view that Israel is the “single greatest origin of violence in the Middle East.” 

      To go any further at this point in listing Israeli crimes is simply to repeat what’s already been public for long. Motasem A Dalloul, in a recent article published in Middle East Monitor, succinctly notes what ultimately needs to be stressed:

      “For 70 years Israel has been the subject of numerous UN resolutions, statements of condemnation and rulings of the illegality of its policies against Palestinians and yet no sanctions have been imposed against it nor have Palestinians been given aid to combat its aggression.”

      In fact, as in the cast of Harden, we see the opposite, namely politicians and others apologizing for truthfully speaking to the illegality in question. Aside from such apologies being unnecessary they reflect four problematic issues, concerning Israeli ideologues.

      First, Israeli ideologues, including the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) that took exception to Harden’s statement, don’t want to be criticized about Israeli criminality. Ever. In their view, if you draw attention to any of the various modes in which they are engaged in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, whether outside the head (e.g. bombing of Gaza and Israeli settlement displacement) or inside the head (e.g. erasing Palestine from our memory and concerns), is already to have gone too far. And we know where that leads: being called “antisemitic.” 

      Stated bluntly, if you think that taking issue with what Israel is doing to Palestine is “antisemitic”, there’s something seriously amiss. Not with the person taking issue but with your thinking. It is so ludicrous to associate, at a very basic level, antisemitism with legit criticism of any state at all, let alone Israel, that the burden of proof is on you—not me—to explain the logic of that. Recalling, as I write, my time as a philosophy instructor, it would have admittedly made for an interesting assignment, where students would be challenged to demonstrate their argumentative abilities.

      But should you have handed in, say, an essay where the constant refrain throughout is that criticism of Israel amounts to “antisemitism”, despite the criticism focused exclusively on its actions alone, you’d of course receive a failing grade. By the same token—and if we’re sincere about being “modern” (a word progressives and liberals love to apply to themselves) such that we accept that truth requires justifying what we say with material facts—equating criticism of Israel as antisemitic is empirically bankrupt. 

      Second, Israeli ideologues lie about the Palestinian struggle for justice and history. And no one among them corrects them for doing so. One example that immediately comes to mind is how they do this with respect to the phrase “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” So often they, perfectly illustrated in this recent op-ed, attack it as a call to pro-Palestinian terrorism. Had Harden or any other Canadian politician done the same the ideologues would not come after them. It’s as if the Israeli ideologue cannot process the basic idea that the phrase refers to the rightful liberation of the Palestinian people, covering the geographic expanse of the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

      What they’d like the world to falsely believe is that it means annihilating Israelis. No doubt this is a kind of fear-mongering to not only vilify Palestinians and their allies but also to drum up further support for the continuation of Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Sociopaths act similarly. They manipulate you to believe in certain lies so you, acting accordingly, advance some particular agenda. Even when doing so is to your own or others’ detriment. 

      Third and finally, Israeli ideologues are selective about what they mean by “antisemitism.” Preposterous criticism of Israel, for them, amounts to such hatred but slandering or demeaning Jews as “self-hating” for supporting the Palestinian struggle for justice is not. An egregious incident where this happened, involving Palestinian solidarity expressed by Hasidic Jews in Toronto this year and detailed well by Montreal activist and writer Yves Engler, is a case in point. CIJA, among other Israeli ideologues, surely knows about this. They are, without fail, vigilant in documenting all antisemitic incidents that happen in Canada. They however do not respond to those where the targets of the incidents are pro-Palestinian. 

      Ignoring antisemitism when it occurs against pro-Palestinian Jews while condemning all other forms of antisemitism (perceived, such as criticism against Israel, or real, such as denying a person entry somewhere because they are Jewish), is more than turning a blind eye. It’s outright deplorable. It means that the pro-Palestinian Jew is “less” a Jew. Conversely, and following this perverse logic, being “Jewish” entails supporting the Israeli oppression of Palestine. Should you challenge that you are a “traitor” to other “real” Jews who will not come to your aid or safety? 

      Those publicly endorsing such thinking should be apologizing for offending being antisemitic. Those, however, fighting for Palestinian justice—Jews and non-Jews alike—have nothing to be sorry about. Remember this, dear Palestinian allies. As much as each of us is flawed, not perfect, and have things about ourselves that we have to work on, you do no harm when you oppose the unconscionable crimes that Israel—as a violent state and not the exclusive representative of worldwide Jewry—perpetrate daily against the Palestinian people. You will likely offend those who, lacking conscience, want it otherwise. But that is their failing. Not ours. 

      Do not let it deter you from engaging in the Palestinian struggle. There is lots of good, however difficult, work left to be done. 

      How it Feels to Visit an Apartheid Country

      An advertisement alongside the separation wall in East Jerusalem. Here the wall divides a Palestinian neighbourhood so as to limit the numbers of Palestinians in official Jerusalem. Photo by Philip Weiss.

      Philip Weiss

      Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° 

      Racial profiling in Israel is rampant. Abuse and invective are normal. This is the daily machinery of separating Jews from Arabs

      Every time I visit Israel and Palestine I come home so struck by the injustice that I say to myself, Well you are a writer, you should be able, in 1,000 words or so, to convey the enormity of what you have seen so that the system falls apart like a house of cards for an American reader. This is my latest effort to do just that.

      The main impression I had on this visit, is the feeling of Separation. I was bowled over by how separate the Israeli Jews are from the Palestinians, and the huge efforts undertaken to prevent mixing of cultures. When you go through the airport or West Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, you feel like you are in a city in Eastern Europe. I saw no men in the airport in traditional Arab dress. I saw a few women wearing the hijab. You don’t see many Arabic signs. You don’t see displays of Arab crafts or furnishings, you don’t see the sights and smells of Arab markets or street life. No, the Zionists brought their own society to the Middle East.

      All the time you are here you reflect that you are plunk in the middle of the “Arab world.” Not long ago, the culture here was largely Muslim. A few decades ago, you could catch a bus from Jerusalem to Damascus, or Beirut, or Cairo, or Amman or Baghdad. Now you can’t do any of that. Jerusalem has been declared the “eternal capital of the Jewish people,” and there are high walls topped by concertina wire to separate it from the Arab masses. A historic Palestinian neighbourhood was bulldozed so that Jews could sanctify the Western Wall, ala the Vatican. And even liberal Zionists idealize this separation. The late novelist Amos Oz said that Jews and Palestinians need a “divorce” and separate houses, and he is a hero to J Street and Americans for Peace Now.

      Israel really has established an outpost of civilization, as it conceives these matters, in a very traditional colonial mindset.

      Any time you cross over into that other world, you must go through militarized checkpoints, and the culture is entirely different. The roads are narrower, the signs are mostly in Arabic. Many people wear traditional dress, and the street life strikes this foreigner as Arab.

      The amazing thing about Israel is that it has pulled off colonization in an anti-colonial era. But I am not trying to analyze it, just to convey the feeling. It feels weird and unfair that the Zionists have imposed this order, and they understand this. They know it’s unfair, and so there are guns everywhere and the voters have lately elevated a racist fascist, Itamar Ben-Gvir, because Israelis know that Palestinians don’t like being a subject people, so they must preserve the order through brute force and power politics. You see the brute force all around. All the young soldiers on the buses or in the roads with their guns dangling at their sides. They’re not here for the Syrians or the Egyptians or the Jordanians, or Iraqis, Israel’s enemies of old. No, they’re here for the Palestinians on the other side of those concrete walls, because Palestinians resist the whole idea of a “Jewish state.”

      As you would too if it were established in your city.

      The racial profiling is rampant before your eyes. I sauntered through Damascus Gate at midnight. The young Palestinian just behind me got stopped by soldiers demanding his ID card.

      Of course, Israelis speak of what a bad neighbourhood they live in. The only answer to that propaganda is that if you throw people out of their houses and off their land and live there for 75 years without any gesture to make things right, no you just keep on taking their property, I promise you—you will live in a bad neighbourhood.

      Here is a simple proof of the unfairness. Every day Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories use money on which is imprinted the portraits of men who directed their ethnic cleansing and massacres. They travel inside Israel on roads named after these men too. I found this unsettling and embarrassing, being a witness to such humiliation. In talking to Palestinians in Haifa, I caught the name Ben-Gurion Avenue in my throat—I was afraid the mere utterance would damage their dignity.

      I often thought about the promotion back in the U.S. of the “startup nation,” with its biotech and cyber industries that are said to help the world. The miraculous startup nation justifies its presence with its material advantages and Nobel Prizes (one Nobelist came to a shiva I attended in Jerusalem) as if that makes its rule acceptable to Palestinians. But of course it doesn’t. They have fewer or no rights, and it is rubbed in their faces all the time. There is something crude and dispiriting about this; you don’t perpetuate apartheid without consequences to all concerned. The journalist Tom Dallal shared with me this photo of riding a train with a soldier who pointed his gun between his legs the whole time without regarding it as rude or unusual.

      When a Palestinian in Ramallah asked if it was offensive to American Jewish visitors to compare Israeli soldiers to Nazis, my colleague Scott Roth shook his head and said the Holocaust is pertinent. “You can’t build a society on trauma. They built Israeli society on trauma.”

      Roth says that Israel brings out the worst in people. He wandered into the King David Hotel lobby one morning and saw a group of American visitors looking at the famous signatures set in tiles in the floor, and one began jumping up and down on Obama’s signature, laughing as she called out expletives. This kind of abuse and invective is normal here. Just look at the picture Itamar Ben-Gvir posted recently of the Palestinian politician Ahmad Tibi wheeling a suitcase in Ben Gurion airport. “Great news. Leave and don’t come back” (Michael Koplow’s translation).

      You feel that crudeness and the tension. A Palestinian friend told me that when he visited New York recently he experienced visceral shock in a restaurant when he heard a loud Israeli conversation at a nearby table. “There is a word in Arabic that means to feel electrocuted—batkahrab,” he said. “These are the same voices that when I usually hear them, they are shouting at me that I have done something wrong.” Yes, young soldiers, barking at my friend, an architect in his 40s.

      You feel the tragedy of it. You observe that Palestinians are human beings just like anyone with aspirations and dreams and pride and dignity, and yet you see them being put down before your eyes and having to bear it to survive. I keep thinking of a girl of 20 or 21 with earphones and fashionable clothing getting off the bus at Qalandiya checkpoint with her bag over her arm, that said, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. She reminded me of me and my friends at her age, showing off our taste. But she has no freedom of movement, and no political rights.

      That’s my overwhelming sense of this visit. People not very different from me are persecuted at every turn. Many international human rights organizations have now laid out the apartheid argument in systematic legal analyses. I can only tell you about the feeling of it: Everywhere you go these Arab people are to be separated from the Jewish state and their culture erased. The shame I felt as a Jewish person is unquantifiable, and is the reason I will keep doing this work. Jewish values meant one thing when I was raised—“That which is obnoxious to you don’t do to another person,” in Hillel’s words. Or as Americans say, the Golden Rule. That value is trashed everywhere I went in Israel and Palestine.

      It can’t last. When you see an unfair arrangement balanced totally on massive military and financial advantage and power politics, but unbearable to the subjugated people, history tells you it can’t last. Even the State Department acknowledges this when they say “the status quo is unsustainable.” When and how it falls who can say. But it can’t last.

      Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005.

      This article originally appeared on Mondoweiss.net.

      US intelligence UAE report: Activities go beyond ‘influence peddling’

      15 Nov 2022

      Source: The Washington Post

      By Al Mayadeen English 

      The Washington Post publishes an analysis telling how the United Arab Emirates meddled in the American political system.

      US intelligence UAE report: Activities go beyond ‘influence peddling’

      The US newspaper The Washington Post published an analysis on November 14 that says “US intelligence officials have concluded the United Arab Emirates meddled in the American political system, including by hacking into computers in the United States.”

      This comes after Intelligence officials in Washington have put together a classified report showing efforts made by the United Arab Emirates to meddle in US politics despite Abu Dhabi being a close ally of Washington’s.

      According to the same newspaper, the activities include legal and illegal bids to influence the US foreign policies in ways that would serve its interests throughout various administrations in the White House.

      Meanwhile, only as per DoJ records, Abu Dhabi has spent over $154 million on lobbyists since 2016, the newspaper added.

      “Three people who read a classified report and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified information said the activities attributed to the UAE in the report go well beyond mere influence peddling,” writer John Hudson said.

      “One of the more brazen exploits involved the hiring of three former U.S. intelligence and military officials to help the UAE surveil dissidents, politicians, journalists, and U.S. companies. In publlic legal filings, U.S. prosecutors said the men helped the UAE break into computers in the United States and other countries,” Hudson added.

      “The report amounted to a ‘unique’ intelligence examination of a ‘friendly power,'” according to Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who once served on the National Intelligence Council, which compiled the report and typically writes such reports about adversaries.

      However, as per Riedel, “it also serves as a reminder that the UAE has sought to become a force in cyberspace and has made questionable use of cyberweapons, including by siphoning ex-U.S. officials into surveillance work against the United States itself.”

      For this purpose, the UAE has repeatedly been connected with the use of spyware known as Pegasus, a product of the NSO Group and Project Raven.

      Last September, former US officials Mark Baer, ​​Ryan Adams, and Daniel Gerek admitted to providing advanced computer hacking technology to the UAE, and the UAE agreed with them to pay approximately $1.7 million to resolve criminal charges in a deferred prosecution agreement, which the Ministry of Justice described as the first of its kind.

      “Under Project Raven, former U.S. government hackers aided foreign intelligence services in the surveillance of journalists, human rights activists, rival governments, and dissidents. That included the targeting of Americans,” the WP added.

      “And the pipeline continues. Just last month, my colleagues Craig Whitlock and Nate Jones reported that over the past seven years, nearly 300 military retirees have sought federal authorization to work for the UAE,” the newspaper wrote, adding, “That includes cybersecurity advisers.”

      In another investigation conducted by the Washington Post, more than 500 retired US military personnel, including top army officials, have taken high-paying jobs working for foreign governments since 2015, largely in countries infamous for human rights abuses and political repression.

      What would a Russian defeat mean for the people of the West?

      November 15, 2022

      Regular readers of the blog know that I separate our poor and long-suffering planet into two basic parts: Zone A, aka the AngloZionist Empire, aka the World Hegemony aka the “Axis of Kindness” and what I call Zone B, or the Free World.  Very approximately, we need to separate the ruling elites and the people they rule over separately.  Here is, very roughly, what we get:

      Zone AZone B
      Ruling elitesHate Russia/PutinSome fear the Hegemony, but others don’t
      Peoplemostly indifferent or hostilemostly support Russia/Putin

      Next, I propose to make a simple though experiment.  Let’s assume that Russia loses the war against NATO.  We do *not* need to spell out how exactly such a defeat could/would happen, we simply assume that Russia is unable to achieve her goals of denazification and demilitarization of the Ukraine (and, really, all of NATO), that NATO forces are successful in defeating the Russian military machine (again, it does not matter how, with or without amazing Wunderwaffen) and that Russia very clearly loses.

      We don’t even need to define what “defeat” would mean?  Maybe we can imagine that Russia gets keeps Crimea, but loses all her recently liberated regions from the former Ukraine, or maybe NATO manages to even occupy Crimea. I don’t see NATO tanks in downtown Moscow, but we can even imagine a purely psychological defeat in which both sides believe that Russia has lost and NATO won.

      Again, details, no matter how improbable and far removed from reality, do not matter.  What matters is only this: once all the four groups above realize that NATO has defeated Russia, how would they react?

      For the leaders of the Hegemony, this would be a dream come true.  In fact, the Neocons running the Hegemony will most likely decide that they need to “finish the job” which they did not finish in the 90s, and that Russia needs to be broken up into several parts.  This would be the West’s latest “final solution” for the “Russian problem”.

      For the leaders of the Free World, a Russian defeat would signal that there are no alternatives to the Hegemony and that like it or not, the AngloZionists will rule the planet.  Like the Borg in Star Trek like to proclaim: “We are the Hegemony.  Resistance is futile.  You will be assimilated“.

      For most people in the Free world, a Russian defeat would be a crushing disappointment for the simple reason that most people would see the AngloZionist plan for what it is: get Russia first, then take on and bring down China and then, eventually, Iran and any other nation daring to disobey the rulers of the Hegemony.

      Clearly, this is not about the Ukraine, this is about the future of mankind as a whole.

      But what about the people in Zone A who currently already live under the AngloZionist yoke?

      [Quick reminder: I have decided, for various reasons, not to discuss internal US politics on the Saker blog and I will try hard to stick to this rule.  Still, I will state the obvious: we all now know the outcome of the latest elections in the USA and the adults in the room understand what happened, no need to list various truisms here.  If there is anybody reading this who would sincerely believe that some variation of the Neocon Uniparty in power will change things for the better or even slow down the inevitable collapse I would recommend that this person stop reading here.  Now for the rest of us:]

      I think that the initial reaction of most people in Zone A will be a mix of relief (“Of course I knew that the West would win!“) and indifference (transgender issues are SO much more important!): their valiant “finest fighting force in the history of the world” kicked some rooskie commie ass which most definitely deserved some ass-kicking.  Some of the most sanguine defenders of the “western civilization” will even drop by our comments section and gloat “ha! ha! told you! your Putin and his clueless generals got their asses kicked by the most bestest US and NATO generals!“.  And for a while, they will feel really good.  Vindicated:  finally the dumbshit stupid Russians will pay the price for electing and supporting such a weak, indecisive, naive, corrupt, incompetent (and possibly even dying of cancer) leader!

      And if only the Kremlin had had the wisdom to listen to its “western friends”!

      But no, the Kremlin did not, and now there is going to be hell to pay.  Of course, if Russia’s “western friends” had been in charge, they would have executed a lightening fast blitzkrieg a long time ago, smashed Banderastan into smithereens (à la Fallujah if you wish) and quickly an decisively defeated NATO.  But those clueless idiots in the Kremlin did not listen, and so they deserve what is coming next.

      Okay, fair enough.

      But what about the regular people in Zone A?  The ones whose “side” supposedly “won”?

      Once the initial bliss and celebrations are over, what will happen to them next?

      Anybody want to take a guess?  If so, please post your thoughts in the comments section below.

      My personal take is that after the defeat of Russia, the defeat of China (by whatever means) would be next.  Once that happens, all of the following will become decapitated and irrelevant: BRICS, SCO, CSTO.  The next country on the Hegemony’s kill list is Iran which, having lost the backing of both Russia and China will not be able to successfully challenge the Hegemony.  That, in turn will have major consequences for the entire Middle-East.  Wannabe Pasha Erdogan would be very quickly brought to heel.  Ditto for MBS.

      The Israelis will feel like they “fixed the universe” well enough and that their Moshiach must be next 🙂

      With Russia and China out of the way, Central Asia would be frankly easy picking for the Hegemony. In fact, all the Russian limitrophes would quickly be absorbed into the Hegemony.

      The same goes for Pakistan and India, who would quickly lose most (or even all) of their sovereignty.  Afghanistan will be handed over to the (US-baked and run) ISIS.  Eventually, both Latin America and African will be fully recolonized (to the immense relief and joy of the local comprador class).

      Now I submit that anybody with a modicum of information and intelligence will agree that the gang of woke freaks currently running the USA and almost every EU country out there doesn’t give a damn about the people they rule over: they see them only as means of production, in other words, as slaves who need to be given sufficient amounts of (bad) food and immense amounts of (truly demonic) “entertainment” to keep them nice, and happy and, above all, obedient and ignorant.  So here comes my question:

      With Zone B gone, what hope for a better future, if any, could the slaves of the AngloZionist Hegemony keep in their hearts if our entire planet turns into Zone A?

      The current repressive apparatus available to the US ruling class which includes 17 “intelligence” agencies,  the biggest military aggression budget on the planet, the highest number of prisoners kept in jails, the total informational control provided by Google, Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, etc. etc. etc. militarized police forces and other agencies ready to deal with “internal terrorists” (sometimes defined as any MAGA person), and a school and college system designed to create obedient office plankton (white collar) and fast food employees (blue collar) with almost no awareness, nevermind any understanding, of the outside world.  EU states are not quite there (yet) but they are catching up fast.

      This is not a system which will simply collapse by itself or, even less so, be overthrown by its “deplorables”.

      I have mentioned this many times in the past: the US political system is neither viable nor reformable.

      The EU political system is basically an extension of the US political system, just with a more strongly pronounced colonial mindset (“fuck the EU” right?).

      So will the Hegemony turn our entire planet into a giant and “woke” Disney World run by Neocons?

      Not as long as Russia, China, Iran and others are standing firm.  But if these “resisting nations” are crushed, then its show over for the people of Zone A whose slavery will not only last even much longer, but whose living conditions will further rapidly deteriorate

      And once the “bread and games” thingie fails, you can bet that violent repression is next.

      ANY regime which seriously aims at colonizing the entire planet (which the Hegemony undoubtedly does!) will ALWAYS keep its own population in slave-like conditions, materially, culturally and spiritually.

      So, to paraphrase Malcolm Xthe only hope for the House Negros still remains the Field Negro.  Whether the House Negros themselves understand that or not is immaterial.

      Let me rephrase this in an even more shocking way: the last and only hope for the people of the USA and the EU would be a total Russian victory against NATO.  A NATO defeat will bring down not only NATO itself, but also the EU and that, in turn, would force the US to (finally!) become a normal, civilized, country.

      As for the EU, a NATO defeat would mean the end of one thousand years of imperialism.

      I get it.  For a civilization built upon the assumption of racial superiority (whether officially proclaimed or not) the notion that the only possible salvation could come from “inferior Asiatic barbarians” is shocking and can only be considered as an extreme form of doubleplusbadcrimethink.  Such a thought is, quite literally, unthinkable for most.

      Yet, as I mentioned above, what the House Negros understand or not is entirely irrelevant.  Not only do they have no agency, they want none (Poland anybody?).


      Russia won’t lose this war, most of us understand that.  But to those who don’t, I will offer one simple conclusion: a Russian defeat would be a disaster for Russia.  And China.  And the rest of the planet.  But it will also be a true calamity for the oppressed people of the West.  They, of all people, should be very careful what they wish for. And the next time they want to hallucinate and gloat about a “strategic Russian retreat/defeat” they should ask themselves a simple question: what might this mean for *me* and *my own* future?  Do I really have a reason to rejoice?

      Maybe they simply got used to being slaves and the idea of *real* freedom and diversity simply terrifies them?


      Al-Wefaq: Bahrain elections lack legitimacy, do not represent people

      12 Nov 2022

      Source: Al Mayadeen Net

      By Al Mayadeen English 

      The Deputy Secretary-General of the Bahraini political party Al-Wefaq, Sheikh Hussain Al-Daihi confirms that “the participation rate in the sham parliamentary elections did not exceed 35%,” which proves the awareness of the Bahraini people.

      The Deputy Secretary-General of the Bahraini political party Al-Wefaq, Sheikh Hussain Al-Daihi

      The Deputy Secretary-General of the Bahraini political party Al-Wefaq, Sheikh Hussain Al-Daihi said that “the participation rate in the sham parliamentary elections did not exceed 35%,” thanking the Bahraini people for “exposing the falsity of the electoral process despite the threats and intimidation.”

      “Bahrainis are living under the weight of a stifling political crisis and grave human rights violations, and they are committed to the need for a genuine political process that will lift Bahrain out of tyranny and dictatorship and take it to a democratic system and social justice,” Al-Daihi added in a speech on Saturday.

      “The authority should learn from the course of what happened today and take a lesson,” he said, explaining that “the people of Bahrain are not naive, and they cannot be deceived by the tricks played by the regime.” 

      Al-Daihi affirmed that “what happened today will result in a certain council that has lost legitimacy and true representation of the people of Bahrain, and the elections went with only one component, which is the government component.” 

      “Those who observed today’s scene in Bahrain noticed the reluctance to participate in the sham parliamentary elections process, as the very high rate of boycott among the youth group was remarkable,” he went on to say.

      “The people of Bahrain have proven to be conscious, civilized, and capable of accurate diagnosis,” he said, adding that it has a strong will and firm determination, and it “has passed the exam with remarkable success.” 

      On November 6, Al-Daihi formally announced that his party is boycotting the general elections in Bahrain and explained that the reasons justifying the boycott are diverse but mainly concern the failure to implement a crucial reform, ongoing political repression in the country, and authorizing the zionist entity to meddle with the country’s domestic affairs.

      He further said that Bahrainis are continuing to pay a heavy price for their freedoms by getting killed, imprisoned, displaced, dishonored, denaturalized, their mosques demolished, their basic rights infringed on, and the list goes on. 

      Bahraini cleric Issa Qassem told the people of Bahrain that the elections constitute a test of the populace’s awareness, explaining that to elect means opening the door for Bahraini-citizenship-bearing Israelis to vote for parliament members.

      Qassem called for tomorrow to be a day of mourning for the Bahraini people, stressing that participating in the election is like signing a document agreeing to make matters worse and signing a normalization agreement.

      Since 2018, the Bahraini authorities have prohibited members of former political opposition parties, not only from running for parliament but also from serving on the boards of directors of civic organizations, under the so-called Political Isolation Law and dissolved the two main opposition groups, namely Al-Wefaq and Waad parties, in 2016 and 2017 respectively, leaving no one else to dispute the autocratic rule of the Kingdom headed by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

      On Saturday morning, Bahrainis went to the polls to elect a new parliament, where over 330 candidates, including 73 women, took part in the run to compete for the country’s House of Deputies 40 seats. Not one of them was found to represent the opposition, as it was banned through the adoption of the Political Isolation Law that prohibits all activists and opponents belonging to the main political parties from running and voting.

      Since then, authorities have imprisoned hundreds of opposition figures, including Al-Wefaq’s leader Sheikh Ali Salman, denaturalized many, and executed others.

      November 12, 2022

      Bahrainis Protest, Groups Slam ’Repressive’ Climate as Regime Holds Election

      By Staff, Agencies

      Hundreds of Bahrainis staged demonstrations across the tiny Gulf kingdom to demand a mass boycott of the parliamentary elections, as the country holds the polls under what rights groups describe as “political repression” by the ruling Al Khalifa regime.

      On Friday night, demonstrators took to the streets in the coastal village of Dumistan, carrying pictures of Bahrain’s most prominent cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, imprisoned political dissidents as well as those killed at the hands of regime forces.

      They expressed solidarity with political prisoners and jailed activists, called on people from all walks of the society to stay away from the polls during November 12 elections.

      The protesters also called for an end to human rights violations and the release of political detainees.

      Elsewhere in the northern villages of Abu Saiba and Shakhura, groups of demonstrators called for an election boycott, a comprehensive political solution amid the Manama regime’s crackdown on dissent, and demanded a transition from the monarchy to the rule of the people, by the people, and for the people, and a new constitution.

      A similar rally was staged in al-Muthallath al-Samoud region as well, where participants demanded boycott of the November 12 parliamentary elections and a new constitution.

      Earlier, Sheikh Qassim reiterated the call to boycott parliamentary elections, saying participation in the elections amounts to betrayal.

      “The responsibility of Bahrainis is to boycott the election, and participation in it is a betrayal,” he said in a televised address broadcast live on Friday on several Arabic-language television networks.

      The distinguished Shia cleric noted that the Bahraini parliament acts in favor of the monarch and to the detriment of the Bahraini nation.

      Bahrain’s main opposition group al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, in a statement released on September 14, described the boycott of November 12 polls as a national duty, emphasizing that the ruling Manama regime maintains absolute control over the electoral process and seeks to install a weak legislature, whose main task would be to burnish the image of the corrupt Al Khalifa dynasty and cover up its human rights abuses.

      It added that the constitutional and political rift between the Bahraini regime and the nation is deepening day by day, the main reason for which, it said, is the lack of any social agreement between the two sides.

      In the absence of a real administration, the Al Khalifa regime continues its authoritarian rule by imposing its political, economic, security and social wills on the Bahraini nation, Wefaq said.

      Bahrainis head to the polls Saturday. More than 330 candidates, including 73 women, are competing to join the 40-seat Council of Representatives – the lower house of parliament.

      “This election will not introduce any change,” Ali Abdulemam, a Britain-based Bahraini human rights activist, said.

      “Without the opposition we will not have a healthy country,” he told AFP.

      The restrictions have ignited calls for a boycott of Saturday’s elections which come more than a decade after the 2011 popular uprising.

      Since then, authorities have imprisoned hundreds of dissidents – including Wefaq’s leader Sheikh Ali Salman – and stripped many of their citizenship.

      International human rights organizations have argued that the vote is being held in an “environment of political repression.”

      Citing Bahraini civil society figures, the rights groups said the retroactive bans have affected between 6,000 and 11,000 Bahraini citizens.

      The elections “offer little hope for any freer and fairer outcomes,” they said.

      Ayatollah Qassim Slams Participation in Bahrain’s Parliamentary Election As ‘Betrayal’

      November 12, 2022

      By Staff, Agencies

      Bahrain’s most prominent Shia cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim reiterated the call to boycott parliamentary elections, saying participation amounts to betrayal.

      “The responsibility of Bahrainis is to boycott the election, and participation in it is a betrayal,” Ayatollah Qassim said in a live address aired on Friday.

      He noted that the Bahraini parliament acts in favor of the ruler and to the detriment of the Bahraini nation.

      This parliament is a tool to exercise oppression, he said, amid growing calls to boycott the elections. 

      On Thursday, the cleric wrote in a Twitter post that the sham vote is meant to “slaughter democracy” in the Gulf kingdom.

      He said that voter participation would not result in the consolidation of democracy in Bahrain as communities are largely excluded from the political process.

      “How would it be possible to strengthen democracy [in Bahrain], whilst elections have originally been designed to destroy it? This is an election whose doors are closed to those who seek democracy,” he underlined.

      Meanwhile, Bahrain’s dissolved al-Wefaq National Islamic Society says opposition groups, in a show of outright rejection of dictatorship and repression by the ruling Manama regime, have unanimously agreed to boycott the forthcoming elections.

      “In light of the increasingly suffocating atmosphere, dictatorship of the ruling Al Khalifa dynasty, utter disregard to public demands and violation of people’s right to seal their own fate, foreign-based Bahraini opposition groups as well as social and political activists in the country have taken the decision not to cast ballots in the upcoming polls,” al-Wefaq deputy secretary-general Sheikh Hussain al-Daihi said in an interview with the Arabic-language Lualua television network.

      Wefaq, in a statement released on September 14, described the boycott of November 12 polls as a national duty, emphasizing that the ruling Manama regime maintains absolute control over the electoral process and seeks to install a weak legislature, whose main task would be to burnish the image of the corrupt Al Khalifa dynasty and cover up its human rights abuses.

      It added that the constitutional and political rift between the Bahraini regime and the nation is deepening day by day, the main reason for which, it said, is the lack of any social agreement between the two sides.

      In the absence of a real administration, the Al Khalifa regime continues its authoritarian rule by imposing its political, economic, security and social wills on the Bahraini nation, Wefaq said.

      UN Votes to Take “Israeli” Occupation of Palestine to Hague Int’l Court

      November 12, 2022

      By Staff, Agencies

      The United Nations General Assembly voted 98-17 to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the illegality of the “Israeli” entity’s occupation of Palestinian territories on the grounds that it can be considered de facto annexation.

      This resolution specifically asked the ICJ for an opinion on the status of al-Quds [Jerusalem]. The city is one of the most volatile and contentious points of discord between “Israelis” and Palestinians.

      The “Israeli” entity, the United States, Canada and Australia were among those who opposed the ICJ referral when the UNGA Fourth Committee held its preliminary vote on Friday in New York.

      The issue now moves to the UNGA plenum for final approval.

      “There is no authority that can declare that the Jewish nation is an occupier in its homeland,” the “Israeli” entity’s ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan tweeted defiantly after the vote.

      Erdan wrote that he had warned the UN nations that an appeal to the ICJ at The Hague was the “last nail in the burial coffin” of “Israeli”-Palestinian reconciliation. “Unilateral measures” such as an ICJ appeal “will be met with unilateral measures.”

      At issue is the question of whether after 56 years, the “Israeli” entity’s hold on territories it captured from Jordan Egypt and Syria in the defensive 1967 Six-Day War, can be considered tantamount to de facto annexation and thus illegal under international law.

      The international community does not recognize “Israeli” “sovereignty” in al-Quds [Jerusalem] and only the US accepts the entity’s annexation of the Golan.

      The “Israeli” entity withdrew from Gaza, but the international community still holds that its under “Israeli” occupation due to the “Israeli” Occupation Forces’ [IOF’s] control of much of its borders.

      An ICJ opinion on the matter is non-binding, but it would help codify into international law the Palestinian insistence that all that pre-1967 territory, should be within the final boundaries of its future state.

      At Friday’s meeting, the US and the “Israeli” entity charged that the resolution was an attempt to bypass a negotiated resolution to the conflict with the Palestinians and as such ran counter to past UN resolutions including at the Security Council which called for such talks.

      “The Palestinian’s have rejected every single peace initiative, and now they embroil an external body with the excuse that the conflict has not been resolved but the only reason why it has not been resolved is because of their rejectionism,” Erdan said. “They claim that they are ready to negotiate, but what they fail to mention is that they are only ready to do so if they are guaranteed 100 percent of their demands before they even sit down at the negotiating table,” Erdan explained.

      “Exploiting a UN organ by enlisting the UN’s politicized anti-‘Israel’ majority for the purpose of forcing your demands instead of negotiating, is clearly a unilateral step,” he added.

      The United States Representative Andrew Weinstein said that the “failure” in such resolutions “to acknowledge the shared history of the Haram al-Sharif [Temple Mount], a site sacred to both Jews and Muslims, is perhaps the clearest demonstration that they are intended only to denigrate ‘Israel’, not to help achieve peace.”

      After the vote, the Palestinian Authority Ambassador Riyad Mansour thanked all the nations that endorsed and supported the resolutions.

      “Nothing justifies standing with ‘Israeli’ annexation and occupation,” Mansour said, noting that these actions went against the UN Charter.

      “This occupation needs to end,” Mansour said.

      The request for an ICJ advisory opinion, submitted for the first time this year, was tacked onto a pre-existing annual resolution called “‘Israeli’ practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people.”

      The text of the resolution was read out by Namibia and Cuba.

      A number of nations objected to the inclusion of the ICJ resolution in an already existing text rather than as a stand-alone item, noting that the matter had been pushed through quickly with little time for review.

      The resolution asks the ICJ to advise on “the legal consequences arising from the ongoing violations by Israel of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination from its prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.”

      This includes, the resolution stated, “measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem and from its adoption of related discriminatory legislation and measures.”

      In addition, the resolution asked the ICJ to explain how Israel’s policies and practices “affect the legal status of the occupation” and what are the “legal consequences that arise for all states the UN from this status.”

      Among the nations that opposed the text were Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Guatemala, Hungary, Italy, Liberia, Lithuania, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, and Palau.

      Many European countries abstained including Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

      Ukraine, Ireland and Poland were among those countries that supported the ICJ referral.

      This is the second such ICJ referral. In 2004 the ICJ issued an advisory opinion against the “Israeli” entity’s security barrier, explaining that its construction in east al-Quds [Jerusalem] and the West Bank was illegal.

      US Ned Price Slams Ben-Gvir’s ‘Abhorrent’ Attendance at Meir Kahane’s Memorial

      November 11, 2022

      Ned Price slammed Itamar Ben Gvir for attending Meir Kahane’s memorial. (Image: The Palestine Chronicle)

      US State Department spokesman Ned Price has slammed Israeli Knesset Member Itamar Ben Gvir for attending the annual memorial of Rabbi Meir Kahane, the Middle East Monitor reported.

      The American-born ultra-nationalist Israeli politician openly advocated expelling all Palestinians from historic Palestine between the river and the sea.

      Kahane founded the Kach party which was later outlawed. He inspired the likes of Rabbi Baruch Goldstein who, in 1994, killed 29 Muslim worshippers at the Israeli-occupied Ibrahimi Mosque and wounded more than 125.

      A former member of the Kach movement, Ben Gvir and the coalition of ultranationalist parties have emerged as the main power broker in Israel following last week’s election, winning 14 seats. The 46-year-old is expected to also be given an important ministerial position.

      Denouncing Ben Gvir’s attendance at the annual Kahane memorial, Price said: “Celebrating the legacy of a terrorist organization is abhorrent. We are concerned by the use of Kahana’s legacy and rhetoric by extremist and violent right-wing activists.”​

      “There is no other word for it – it is abhorrent. And we remain concerned, as we’ve said before, by the legacy of Kahane Chai and the continued use of rhetoric among violent right-wing extremists.”

      (MEMO, PC, SOCIAL)

      Intelligence Online: MBS ‘purges’ politically aimed at certain clans

       November 9, 2022

      Source: Intelligence Online

      The purge is directed toward certain clans; commercial agents close to former King Abdullah and Mohammad bin Nayef.

      Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Athens, Greece, July 26, 2022. (Reuters)

      By Al Mayadeen English 

      Website Intelligence Online has revealed that Saudi Arabia’s purges are motivated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman using the pretext of tackling corruption and that the purge is directed toward certain clans; commercial agents close to former King Abdullah and Mohammad bin Nayef. Interestingly, agents of the Mishaal and Sultan clans are not being targeted. 

      Saudi authorities are trying via Interpol to get their hands on Salah Fustok, a former commercial agent for a clan of King Abdullah bin Abdelaziz. Fustok is the uncle of Muteb bin Abdullah, who commanded the Saudi National Guard (SANG) until he was ousted by MbS. Muteb then got caught up in the anti-corruption purge that took place in November that year. He is still under house arrest and cannot leave the kingdom.    

      Individuals close to bin Nayef are facing legal proceedings, and bin Nayef himself remains under house arrest. Bin Nayef’s former counter-terrorism chief and head of a financial empire, Saad Al-Jabri, in addition to Nader Turki Al-Dossari, a Saudi businessman, are both under intense judicial pressure.

      King Salman bin Abdelaziz’s brother, Ahmad bin Abdelaziz, is forbidden from leaving the country while businessmen close to him are avoiding the kingdom. 

      However, members of the late Mishaal bin Abdelaziz’s clan won’t be worrying too much about the purge.

      Although complaints against businessman Abdullah Al Shugair have been made to the Saudi Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority – Nazaha – no actions have been taken despite documented evidence. Shugeir was a factotum to Prince Mishaal, who allowed MBS and his son to prevail, after which he died a multi-billionaire in 2017. 

      Noting that Shugeir owns his Security Technology Company (STC), according to a 70-page complaint filed by US company DefensTech, he had stolen intellectual property related to body armor. The complaint puts down that Shugeir owes DefensTech over $5.6 million after selling 10,000 vests to the Royal Guard in 2014.

      The vests sold to the Royal Guard were not DefensTech’s, but rather counterfeits that they purchased through a scheme in which Saudi interior ministry officials were involved. According to Intelligence Online, although the US company made a strong case, Nazaha did not take action. 

      Read next: NBC: “Mohammed Bin Nayef Was Beaten & Biden Stepped in to Rescue Him”

      How British intelligence weaponizes the Sunni clergy class

      For decades, London has financed, trained, and sought to influence Islamic scholars, Imams, and their pious followers. The UK’s agenda is to mold Islamic influencers into promoting British narratives of the world.

      November 08 2022

      Photo Credit: The Cradle

      By Kit Klarenberg

      Leaked documents reviewed by The Cradle reveal the British Foreign Office is managing a number of covert projects to influence politics and perceptions across West Asia, by way of coopting the religion of Islam and its interlocutors – including local Imams, and their sermons and teachings.

      Much of this clandestine activity is officially conducted under the auspices of “Countering Violent Extremism” (CVE) campaigns. A counter-terror strategy concocted by London, the program was forcibly exported across much of the world in the wake of the events of 9/11.

      Core practical components of CVE doctrine include multi-channel on- and offline propaganda blitzes via ostensibly “independent” media and social media assets, the creation of “astroturf” NGOs and campaign groups, and funding community leaders to publicly perpetuate pre-approved “counter-narratives” intended to dent the purported appeal of extremist messaging in Muslim communities.

      British state sponsorship is never disclosed, and participants themselves are frequently unaware they are being exploited in this manner.

      In other cases, they are witting, although might not admit it. The globally-read Imams Online claims to be “a voice, information and career placement initiative aimed at prospective Islamic leaders, Imams, Chaplains, Alims, and Aalimah’s.”

      “We aim to provide the necessary information to aspiring Muslim leaders that will enable and encourage them to become the future beacons of the communities they serve,” the website states.

      In 2016, in response to suggestions that Imams Online could be receiving British state support, its parent company Faith Associates issued a firm statement declaring all the website’s content to be “authored by Imams and Scholars.” A leaked Foreign Office document related to CVE campaigns in Iraq, conducted by advertising giant M&C Saatchi and disgraced British government contractor Adam Smith International, strongly suggests this was an outright lie.

      In a section listing “relevant experience and campaigns relating to CVE and/or Iraq,” Imams Online is cited among many other examples of ostensibly grassroots, organic Muslim community content secretly operated by the pair – management that was ongoing at the time of the document’s submission.

      Elsewhere in that file, Adam Smith International and M&C Saatchi discuss ways of “[strengthening] the narrative around Sunni Arab self-governance in a positive manner,” such as “working with particular leaders to support them in articulating their ideas and vision through well-written articles, training them in how to deliver speeches and support on the organisation of events,” and launching an online media platform that “will harness and amplify credible and motivating Iraqi voices.”

      The two firms name a prior example of a similar connivance. The “pan-regional” myislamis.me – a website “inspired by the Hadiths of the Prophet Mohammad” offering “a distinctive window into Islam” – was said to have “generated significant media coverage,” achieved “80 percent reach throughout the region,” and garnered over 2.1 million online supporters.

      The pair also recommended engaging Imams to disseminate specific messaging, noting that they had recently “helped coordinate and amplify a collective response from British Imams to the threat of Daesh, online and through a series of high-profile government supported events and associated promotional activities.”

      ‘No More Palestines’

      CVE projects conducted by the Foreign Office give every appearance of feeding off one another. One program concerned shaping propaganda messaging around “Palestinian issues” in order to stifle legitimate public anger at Israel’s western-supported ethnic cleansing, and deter violent retaliation against the Zionist state.

      A review of Islam Online’s output on Palestine shows that while occasionally condemnatory of Israeli brutality in the West Bank and Gaza, articles overwhelmingly urge non-violence and the pursuit of peace as religious duties. A representative hagiography of UAE government-supported, supposed pacifist scholar Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayyah states that the “pain” of “our Muslim brothers and sisters [suffering]” overseas will “not be removed by additional destructive ideas.”

      “On the contrary, our duty is to do whatever we can to prevent further destruction of the Muslim states and societies,” the article fawns. “The Muslims today don’t need more Palestines.”

      The appeal of Imams to British intelligence is spelled out in some detail in a leaked Foreign Office file relating “lessons learned” on how to structure CVE campaigns effectively in Muslim-dominated East Africa.

      “It is important to engage youthful charismatic imams in any initiative that is geared towards spreading alternative narratives to youth,” the document states. “Behaviour change takes time, and in programming, best undertaken with a long-term project. Different at-risk groups best respond to and are generally really influence by their individuals they feel are in some significant ways genuine peers.”

      The granular records of a focus group conducted in Baghdad, in service of the aforementioned CVE project in Iraq, tells much the same story. When asked “whose opinion do you tend to trust,” one participant is reported as saying, “the only available news source after TV are the mosque Imams and Sheikhs,” and “they are 100 percent trusted sources. I have heard a lot of true news stories from them.”

      If necessary to sidestep Imams for British-endorsed propaganda messaging to reach local residents directly, “print distribution at the hands of grassroots activists” was said to “likely resonate most strongly with the intended target audience.”

      “Trust in ‘word of mouth’ and ‘friends and family’ over Sheikhs and Imams means messages should be resonant, relevant, local and perceptually organic,” the report concluded.

      The Neverending Story

      In a sense, it’s bizarre that research projects were conducted by London gauging the efficacy of Islamic scholars in promulgating British propaganda.

      In February 2020, it was revealed that Information Research Department, a Cold War-era Foreign Office propaganda unit that acted in close coordination and shared staff with MI5 and MI6, had decades earlier conducted “religious operations” in the Arab world in order to weaponize Muslims against the Soviet Union, and further London’s interests in the region.

      Along the way, the Department secretly distributed a series of pre-written sermons and pamphlets with “anti-Communist themes” across West Asia. University students were a particular target, on the basis that; “from among them come the Imams who preach the Friday sermon in every Egyptian Mosque; the teachers of Arabic in the secondary schools and all teachers in the village schools; and the lawyers specializing in Moslem law.”

      One representative top secret memo sent to London from Cairo in February 1950 noted that Friday sermons “[have] always been recognised as one of the important way [sic] of spreading propaganda in the Moslem world,” and “we have now devised a scheme for ensuring that anti-Communist themes are adequately dealt with.”

      Another, dispatched a decade later, from Beirut stated: “We hope to produce two short pamphlets or sermons a month on religious subjects. They will be written by Sheikh Saad al-Din Trabulsi…who is well-known as a pious Moslem.”

      “Two thousand copies of each would be distributed unattributably throughout the Arabic-speaking world. Recipients will be Sheikhs, other leading Moslem [sic] personalities, Mosques and Muslim education establishments.”

      The spy-infested Information Research Department closed its doors in 1978. Evidently though, the sun hasn’t since set on Britain’s “religious operations.” While there is no evidence to suggest London’s CVE approach is remotely effective in actually countering extremism, or that individuals being possessed of “radical” viewpoints leads to them perpetrating violence in the first place, these programs continue to be pursued by London at a cost of tens of millions annually, both at home and abroad.

      That Britain remains committed to a strategy which has apparently failed in its core objectives, particularly given its vast expense, might suggest its true agenda is something rather different. It might be instructive to consider that, on home soil, CVE’s primary – if not sole – success has been the effective criminalization of legitimate dissent against state malfeasance, and suppression of inconvenient facts from mainstream discourse from the public via manipulation and lies.

      Reinforcing that interpretation, in 2015, a CVE pamphlet distributed to private households in London listed alleged warning signs “specific to radicalisation” in children. They included: “showing a mistrust of mainstream media reports…belief in conspiracy theories [and] appearing angry about government policies, especially foreign policy.”

      In the context of West Asia, such efforts serve to keep target populations pacified, looking the other way while London – and other post-imperial, neocolonial powers in the region – get away with at times literal murder. Few residents of the region surely know that those they trust most in their local communities and look to for guidance and understanding have been weaponized against them.

      Still, readers of The Cradle would do well to consider, and bear in mind ever after, that just one Foreign Office contractor boasts of having trained “over 300 imams on CVE,” and carried out “CVE outreach programmes” in Sudan alone.

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

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