Taliban ousts its only Shia Hazara commander: Report

Taliban clashes with Mehdi Mujahid over a power dispute, ending an era of Hazara representation in its ranks

June 24 2022

ByNews Desk 

Clashes reignited on 23 June between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and locals led by Mawlawi Mehdi Mujahid, the only Shia Hazara commander in the ranks of Taliban, in Balkhab, Sar-e Pol province.

Mehdi was the first to be officially endorsed as a member of the group by its leadership in 2020, despite not being the first Shia to collaborate with Taliban in Afghanistan.

Over the past decades, local Hazara commanders, such as Turan Amanullah, have collaborated with Taliban to solicit more influence, setting a pretext for an unexpected alliance.

However, not long after Mehdi was assigned as the head of intelligence of Bamyan as a show of goodwill by Taliban towards the Shia Hazara community, the struggle over resources and influence caused a rift between the two.

According to footage shared on social media by locals in Sar-e Pol, Mehdi retreated to his hometown to escape possible arrest, rallying the Hazara community to fend against an imminent Taliban attack that was preluded by a siege.

Mehdi accuses the Taliban of persecuting Hazaras and sidelining millions of Shia after banning Jafari jurisprudence from universities and from courts in Shia-majority areas.

However, the straw that broke the camel’s back was the dispute over the revenue generated by the coal mines in Balkhab, which Mehdi used to invest into strengthening his leadership in the province and to advancing it economically, without sharing the revenue with the new leadership in Kabul.

Taliban accuses Mehdi of embezzling more than $600,000 from the coal mine export business.

But despite the accusations, the spokesman for the Taliban governor in Bamiyan Mullah Abdullah Sarhadi alleged that Mehdi would be appointed “in a suitable place in Kabul” upon his return.

Mehdi left Kabul in late May after failing in his bid to be appointed the deputy head of the Intelligence Directorate’s Dispute Resolution Council, after opposition by the acting Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani.

In the wake of the energy crisis caused by the Indonesian ban on coal exports and US sanctions against Russian fuel exports over the Ukrainian war, Pakistan’s reliance on coal imports skyrocketed.

In a report by Voice of America (VOA), Pakistani imports from Afghanistan rose from $550 million to $700 over a year, citing reports of increased purchases of Afghan coal and “extremely good quality cotton”.

“We intend to open several of the proposed gates every two or three months. We have discussed it with Afghan (Taliban) leaders and told them to arrange for manning these posts, so they know who is moving in and out,” a Pakistani official said to VOA.

“In the last six months, we have earned more than three billion Afghanis (Afghanistan’s national currency) from coal exports, and we want to make it easier to have more revenue in this area,” said Ahmad Wali Haqmal, a spokesman for the Taliban-led Ministry of Finance.

With the growing influence of Sirajuddin Haqqani – who is on the FBI’s most wanted list for his alleged connection to Al-Qaeda and terrorist attacks in Afghanistan – the Taliban has engaged in several sectarian and racial disputes with Tajik and Uzbek minorities since its rise to power, a factor that could threaten the status quo.

Inside the Secret Meeting Between the CIA Director and Saudi Crown Prince

May 28, 2022

Source

By Ken Klippenstein

In an unusual foray into diplomacy, William Burns pressed Mohammed bin Salman on oil production, prominent detainees, and the kingdom’s relationship with China

Last month, as part of a regional tour, CIA Director William Burns quietly met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah, a port city in western Saudi Arabia. The unusual meeting, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, is the first known encounter between the United States’ top spy and Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler — and, according to three sources familiar with the matter, the latest attempt by high-ranking U.S. officials to appeal to Saudi Arabia on oil amid rising U.S. gas prices. Also on the table, two of the sources told The Intercept, were Saudi weapons purchases from China.

President Joe Biden has so far refused to meet with MBS, as he is known, owing to the crown prince’s role in ordering the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But in February, Biden made an effort to begin repairing the relationship with the kingdom, asking King Salman to increase the country’s oil production in return for U.S. military support for its “defense” against Yemen’s Houthis. According to a Saudi readout of the call, Biden was denied. Though Burns again asked for an oil production increase last month, Saudi Arabia announced last week that it would be sticking to its production plan, once more denying the U.S.’s request.

A spokesperson for the CIA declined to comment on Burns’s travels. The Intercept’s sources — a U.S. intelligence official, two sources with ties to the U.S. intelligence community, a source close to members of the Saudi royal family, and a think tank official — interviewed for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

The meeting was also an opportunity to broach a subject of intense concern to Washington: Riyadh’s growing relationship with China. In addition to Burns’s ask on oil, the CIA director also requested that Saudi Arabia not pursue a purchase of arms from China, according to the two sources close to U.S. intelligence.

Saudi Arabia’s very public overtures to Beijing — most notably, exploring the possibility of selling its oil in the Chinese currency, yuan — have caused consternation in Washington. This week, in Senate testimony, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines warned of efforts by China and Russia to “to try to make inroads with partners of ours across the world,” mentioning Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as examples.

What is not publicly known, however, is that the Saudi government is planning to import ballistic missiles later this month from China under a secret program code-named “Crocodile,” the source close to U.S. intelligence said. (The other source with ties to U.S. intelligence confirmed that the discussion pertained to arms sales with China.)

Burns also requested the release of numerous high-profile Saudi royals whom MBS has detained, including MBS’s cousin, former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the sources said. MBN, as he is known, was heir to the throne before his ouster by Crown Prince Mohammed in 2017. Because MBN is a close partner to U.S. intelligence, the Biden administration has reportedly pressured for his release amid allegations of torture.

Relying on a CIA director to conduct high-level diplomatic engagement of this sort is extremely unusual, although it does offer at least one big advantage: discretion. Burns’s presence also served as a means of attempting to mend the fraught relationship between MBS and other top Biden administration officials, the source close to U.S. intelligence said. Last year, when Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan brought up the Khashoggi murder, MBS shouted at him, remarking that the U.S. could forget about its request to increase oil production, as the Wall Street Journal recently reported.

Burns’s meeting with MBS was one of several with leaders in the region, including in Qatar, the UAE, and Oman, the source also said. (A prominent think tank official close to the Biden administration confirmed that Burns had been traveling throughout the Middle East.) Burns’s meeting with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed echoed the theme of his meeting with MBS, urging him to stop warming up to China, specifically referring to the construction of a Chinese military base in the UAE. Last year, the Biden administration reportedly warned the UAE that China had been building a military facility at an Emirati port and that its construction could imperil their relations. In the case of Saudi Arabia, U.S. intelligence has assessed that the country has been working with China to manufacture its own ballistic missiles domestically — raising concerns about touching off a regional arms race.

“What’s different about this is the Saudis are now looking to import completed missiles,” the source close to U.S. intelligence said.

Burns has come under criticism for conducting diplomacy for the administration, which is supposed to be handled by diplomats at the State Department. Last year, as Kabul fell to the Taliban, Burns was reportedly in the Middle East, meeting with top Israeli and Palestinian government officials. Shortly thereafter, Burns secretly met in Kabul with Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar. Just last week, Burns met with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, urging him not to interfere with his country’s elections.

“Burns has been doing a lot of the diplomatic heavy lifting, which is terrible,” a U.S. intelligence official close to the administration told The Intercept, decrying what he called the “further castration of the Department of State.” This has rankled diplomats at Foggy Bottom, who had hoped that Biden would make good on his campaign pledge to empower diplomacy after years of neglect by the Trump administration.

Concerns about Burns’s role in diplomacy and sidelining the State Department have even come from figures like Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon official and now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. “Intelligence professionals can coerce and threaten unencumbered by the restraints of diplomacy,” Rubin wrote in a recent article for the Washington Examiner. “They are not there to debate and formulate foreign policy.” The Biden administration is currently without an ambassador to Saudi Arabia, having only last month announced its intent to nominate diplomat Michael Ratney for the position.

Who is the end user of the US weapons sent to Ukraine?

26 May 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen

Joe Joubran 

A detailed look into the deliveries of US armaments and weapons shipments to Ukraine.

The US has few ways to track the substantial supply of anti-tank, anti-aircraft, and other weaponry it has sent across the border into Ukraine

Introduction

The U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that the U.S. wants Russia’s military capability weakened so that it cannot carry out another invasion (April 25, 2022). So the U.S. is arming Ukraine against Russia. 

The Biden administration sees the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of equipment to be vital to the Ukrainians’ ability to hold off Moscow’s invasion. But the risk is that some of the shipments may ultimately end up in unexpected places. 

The decision of the given short-term needs of Ukrainian forces for more arms and ammunition will lead to the long-term risk of weapons ending up on the black market or in the wrong hands was accepted. 

Usually, the U.S. military has a great concern about the end-user of the US made weapons and equipment. They have specialized teams to track these weapons and equipment in almost all countries (except North Korea).

This strict rule does not much apply in the case of Ukraine, where there is a great risk. This conscious risk is up to the Biden administration to take. 

1- The goal  

The goal now is what Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called a “weakened” Russia, one that won’t be able in the future to “do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.” 

But first, the supplies of weaponry, notably long-range artillery, have to be delivered, and the Ukrainians have to be trained to use new Western systems, a process that is underway but will take time. 

The United States and its allies are speeding up the deliveries. But transferring them from Eastern Europe into Ukraine is going to require an unprecedented logistical effort at a time when the main supply lines are increasingly being targeted by Russian missiles.  

  • Figure 3: S-300 missile
  • Figure 1: Javelin missile
  • Figure 2: Stinger missile
  • Figure 3: S-300 missile
  • Figure 1: Javelin missile
  • Figure 2: Stinger missile
  • Figure 3: S-300 missile

2- The Russian Threat

U.S. Officials are less concerned that the weapons may fall into the hands of the Russians.

A source familiar with the US intelligence said that it does not appear that Russia has been actively attacking western weapons shipments entering Ukraine – although it is unclear exactly why especially since the US has intelligence information that the Russians want to and have discussed doing so both publicly and privately.

There are a number of theories for why the shipments have so far been spared, including that Russian forces simply can’t find them – the weapons and equipment are being sent over in unmarked vehicles and often transported at night.

It could also be that the Russian forces are running out of munitions and don’t want to waste them targeting random trucks unless they can be certain they are part of an arms convoy.

In general, Russia doesn’t have perfect intelligence visibility into Ukraine, and their air capabilities over western Ukraine, where the shipments are coming in, are extremely limited because of Ukrainian air defense systems.

The Pentagon says it has not yet seen Russian attempts to interrupt the weapons transfers or the shipments moving inside Ukraine.

3- Tracking the supplies

The US has few ways to track the substantial supply of anti-tank, anti-aircraft, and other weaponry it has sent across the border into Ukraine, a blind spot that’s due in large part to the lack of US military on the ground in the country – and the easy portability of many of the smaller systems now pouring across the border.

Both current US officials and defense analysts say that the risk is in the long term, because some of those weapons may wind up in the hands of other militaries and militias that the US did not intend to arm.

US intelligence sources have fidelity for a short time, but when it enters the fog of war, they have almost zero. “It drops into a big black hole, and you have almost no sense of it at all after a short period of time.”

In making the decision to send billions of dollars of weapons and equipment into Ukraine, the Biden administration factored in the risk that some of the shipments may ultimately end up in unexpected places.

4- The American politics

The Biden administration is giving new, heavier weapons to Ukraine because the US military is not on the ground, and the US and NATO are heavily reliant on information provided by Ukraine’s government. 

Ukraine has an incentive to give only information that will strengthen its case for more aid, more arms, and more diplomatic assistance. 

Top of Form

The US and western officials have offered detailed accounts of what the West knows about the status of Russian forces inside Ukraine: how many casualties they’ve taken, their remaining combat power, their weapons stocks, what kinds of munitions they are using, and where.

But when it comes to Ukrainian forces, officials acknowledge that the West – including the US – has some information gaps. Western estimates of Ukrainian casualties are also not accurate, according to some sources familiar with US and western intelligence. “It’s hard to track with nobody on the ground”. 

5- The risk

Recently, the US agreed to provide Kyiv with the types of high-power capabilities some Biden administration officials viewed as too much of an escalation risk, including 11 Mi-17 helicopters, 18 155 mm Howitzer cannons, and 300 more Switchblade drones.

a- Where weapons are used

The U.S. Defense Department couldn’t track the weapons sent for particular units, according to Pentagon press secretary John Kirby.

Trucks loaded with pallets of arms provided by the Defense Department are picked up by Ukrainian armed forces – primarily in Poland – and then driven into Ukraine, “then it’s up to the Ukrainians to determine where they go and how they’re allocated inside their country.”

b- Monitoring Tools

A congressional source said that while the US is not on the ground in Ukraine, It has tools to learn what’s happening, noting that the US has extensive use of satellite imagery and both the Ukrainian and Russian militaries appear to be using commercial communications equipment.

The US military views the information it’s receiving from Ukraine as generally reliable because the US has trained and equipped the Ukrainian military for years, developing strong relationships. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some blind spots, such as on issues like the operational status of Ukraine’s S-300s.

Conclusion

Finally, the western supply to Ukraine is certainly the largest supply to a partner country in a conflict. The Biden administration and NATO countries say they are providing weapons to Ukraine based on what the Ukrainian forces say they need, whether it’s portable systems like Javelin and Stinger missiles or the Slovakian S-300 air defense system.

Javelin and Stinger missiles and rifles and ammunition are naturally harder to track than larger systems like the S-300. Although Javelins have serial numbers, there is little way to track their transfer and use.

The biggest danger surrounding the flood of weapons being funneled into Ukraine is what happens to them when the war ends. Such a risk is part of any consideration to send weapons overseas. 

For years, the US sent arms into Afghanistan, first to arm the “mujahidin” in their fight against the Soviet army, then to arm Afghan forces in their fight against the Taliban.

Some weapons ended up on the black market including anti-aircraft Stinger missiles, the same kind the US is now providing to Ukraine. Some US officials feared that they could be used by the Taliban against the United States.

Other weapons have ended up arming US adversaries. Much of what the US left behind to help Afghan forces became part of the Taliban arsenal after the collapse of the Afghan government and military. The problem is not unique to Afghanistan. Weapons sold to other countries found their way into the hands of terrorists.  The risk of a similar scenario happening in Ukraine also exists.

In the Defense Department, there are raising concerns about the end-use monitoring of weapons being sent to Ukraine.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

Everything’s Getting Messy Again In Afghanistan

15 MAY 2022

Source

By Andrew Korybko

Afghanistan’s internal insecurity, border tensions, and the potentially Pakistani-backed US military factor are combining to create yet another storm in the New Cold War that threatens to destabilize the region.

Russia’s ongoing special military operation in Ukraine and the US-led West’s unprecedented response to it have distracted the international community from Afghanistan, which is once again becoming an issue of regional concern. The foreign occupiers’ chaotic evacuation from that country last August and the Taliban’s return to power in the aftermath haven’t stabilized the situation all that much. The group is still designated as terrorists by most of the world and their leadership remains unrecognized despite all stakeholders – including Russia — still interacting with them for pragmatism’s sake.

Afghanistan somehow avoided the full-scale humanitarian crisis that many were worried about but its people’s most basic needs still aren’t being adequately met. Observers also feel very uncomfortable about the Taliban returning to its old ways by once again banning women from showing their uncovered faces in public. The comparatively more secular and ethnically cosmopolitan northern part of the country that’s majority inhabited by Tajiks and other Central Asian people might not take too kindly to this decree, which could fuel anti-government movements there.

In fact, it was reported just this weekend that the “National Resistance Front” (NRF) has returned to fighting against the Taliban in the Panjshir Valley. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was asked about this on Friday following the CIS Foreign Ministers Council meeting in Dushanbe where he reiterated Moscow’s stance that the only sustainable political solution is to form an ethno-regionally inclusive government. He also expressed optimism that “our allies in Tajikistan with serious influence in Afghanistan, primarily the country’s north, will also keep helping us achieve our common goals.”

That former Soviet Republic is a key stakeholder in Afghanistan since it exerts influence over its co-ethnics across the border and was previously suspected of supporting anti-Taliban forces there. President Putin also spoke to his Tajik counterpart Rahmon on Friday, during which time the two discussed Afghanistan and confirmed that they’ll “continue to cooperate to ensure security on the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border.” This is especially important following reports that ISIS-K terrorists from Afghanistan recently claimed credit for a cross-border attack that Tajik officials nonetheless denied.

On the topic of cross-border terrorism emanating from Afghanistan, neighboring Pakistan reportedly carried out several strikes there in the middle of last month against TPP terrorists who martyred several of their soldiers days prior. Islamabad also reportedly just handed over two top TPP commanders to the Afghan Taliban, who’ve been mediating peace talks between them. Amidst all of this, Pakistan remains mired in political uncertainty following its scandalous change of government in early April that former Prime Minister Khan claims was orchestrated by the US as punishment for his independent policies.

While its internal security situation is expected to remain stable considering the world-class professionalism of its military and intelligence services, speculation abounds about the trajectory of its foreign policy. Newly inaugurated Foreign Minister Bhutto’s upcoming trip to the US is inconveniently occurring at the exact moment that its political, economic, and international uncertainties are converging. The relevance of this to Afghanistan is the US’ recent reaffirmation that it retains the capabilities to strike terrorists in Afghanistan if it so chooses, perhaps with speculative Pakistani support.  

Former Prime Minister Khan claimed that the alleged US-orchestrated regime change plot against him first started when he publicly said that his country will “absolutely not” host any American bases in the wake of the US’ withdrawal from neighboring Afghanistan. Critics of the new authorities who replaced him suspect that they might be secretly negotiating some sort of military arrangement with the US to facilitate American anti-terrorist strikes there, which could possibly target ISIS-K but also the TTP that Washington also officially regards as terrorists just like Islamabad does.

While there’s nothing of tangible substance to base this speculation on, it’s still a matter of public record that the US said on multiple occasions that it’s actively seeking out regional bases to facilitate its so-called “over-the-horizon” strikes in Afghanistan. Russia was concerned that its American rival might poach one of the Central Asian Republics from its informal “sphere influence” into this scheme, though that hasn’t materialized, at least not yet. Even so, Moscow must be watching Washington’s reported $20 million unarmed Puma drone deal with Dushanbe with suspicion to see where it might lead.

On the topic of cross-border attacks, it also deserves mentioning that reports came in a few weeks back alleging that tensions were boiling along the Afghan-Iranian border. Tehran denied that any clashes took place but most observers still consider ties between it and the Taliban to be very complicated, to say the least. Taking stock of the overall situation, Afghanistan’s domestic stability has been rocked by ISIS-K suicide bombings and the latest reported “NRF” offensive while international tensions are dangerously growing between the Taliban and its Iranian, Pakistani, and Tajik neighbors.

Against the backdrop of the Taliban imposing its strict socio-religious standards onto the rest of the population in spite of the risk that this will only worsen resentment from some minorities against it, as well as the country’s humanitarian crisis being far from resolved even though it hasn’t yet exploded, it can be concluded that everything risks spiraling out of control if all these counterproductive trends aren’t soon reversed. Pakistan’s crossing of the Rubicon by kinetically defending its objective national security interests through reported anti-TTP strikes also adds an unpredictable dimension to this too.

The same can be said for the pivot towards the US that the new authorities’ critics suspect is unfolding and which might manifest itself through those two unofficially teaming up to occasionally fight terrorism in Afghanistan. The US is still actively searching for a regional base, which can only realistically be in Pakistan if it ever comes to pass since its new Tajik partner can’t legally host one without Russia’s approval due to its legal commitments through the CSTO mutual defense pact. Any enhanced Pakistani-American anti-terrorist and/or military cooperation could greatly reshape regional dynamics.

All the while, there’s also some positive news too even though it pales in comparison to the negative. Foreign Minister Lavrov spoke at the beginning of the month about the need for mutually beneficial economic engagement with Afghanistan, which he repeated on Friday after the CIS meeting that was hyperlinked to earlier in this analysis. New Taliban-appointed Afghan charge d’affairs to Russia Jamal Nasir Garwal, who also reportedly attended the Victory Day parade in Moscow, publicly reciprocated this interest by emphasizing how much his country needs Russian energy resources right now.

These signals prompted speculation that a Taliban delegation might soon travel to Moscow to discuss such deals, though Russian Special Presidential Envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov denied that anything of the sort was in the cards at this moment. Still, that would represent a positive development if it comes to pass and would complement the Taliban’s planned economic cooperation with China. The larger trend seems to be that while Afghanistan’s ties with Iran, Pakistan, and Tajikistan become more complicated, its ties with Russia and China are becoming more comprehensive.

To be absolutely clear, correlation doesn’t mean causation so nobody should think that regional stakeholders are dividing into pro- and anti-Taliban blocs, but it’s still an important trend to pay attention to since it suggests that Russia and China might soon be able to exert more influence over the Taliban than previously expected. In the event that Pakistan strikes some sort of anti-terrorist or military deal with the US as part of its speculative plans to repair ties with it through such arrangements that critics might describe as concessions, then those two might become more suspicious of its intentions.

After all, Pakistan has unofficially frozen talks with Russia over what former Prime Minister Khan insists were his previously active negotiations to purchase fuel from Moscow, including at a 30% discount, but which the new Energy Minister claimed had never happened. The latter said this in spite of there being documented evidence from credible sources confirming that his statement was factually incorrect, including Foreign Minister Lavrov revealing while in Islamabad on 7 April 2021 that there was “mutual interest” in this, “appropriate proposals have been put forward”, and Russia is “waiting for a response”.

The scandal over Russian-Pakistani energy talks concerns much more than just those two countries since all interested observers can now see that the new authorities are publicly distancing themselves from their predecessors’ negotiations with the Kremlin for whatever reason, even going as far as to share factually incorrect information with the public about this. The impression that they’re probably left with is that this might be done under American pressure, which in turn adds credence to former Prime Minister Khan’s narrative about the US being behind his ouster and now influencing his replacements.

This insight is pertinent for Afghanistan since it also adds credence to suspicions that Pakistan and the US might be secretly negotiating some anti-terrorist or military deals focused on that war-torn country, with Islamabad possibly even conceding on some issues that its prior government never would have in pursuit of clinching such an agreement in the hopes of repairing its troubled ties with Washington. The reintroduction of US forces to the region, even clandestine ones such as CIA drone teams, could be very destabilizing and thus contribute to even more uncertainty about Afghanistan’s overall situation.

The scenario of Pakistan’s new authorities, who rose to power through scandalous circumstances that the ousted premier attributed to a US-orchestrated conspiracy, facilitating the American military’s and/or intelligence’s return to the region would certainly be frowned upon by all regional stakeholders. No matter what’s said between their diplomats, it’s doubtful that they place much trust in that country’s new leadership after its Energy Minister passionately insisted that former Prime Minister Khan was lying about his energy negotiations with Russia in spite of the official facts contradicting him.

The uncertainty about Pakistan’s grand strategic trajectory after its recent change of government and the credible concerns that its new leadership is preparing to decisively pivot towards the US contribute to the larger uncertainty about everything associated with Afghanistan right now. The overall situation is negative and there’s too much “fog of (hybrid) war” to confidently predict where everything is headed. Afghanistan’s internal insecurity, border tensions, and the potentially Pakistani-backed US military factor are combining to create yet another storm in the New Cold War that threatens to destabilize the region.

Seems Like the US after Monkeying Around in Pakistan is Primed for a Relationship Reset

9 May 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen English

Shafei Moiz Hali 

The US’ swift moves and clear contrast instances unmistakably point at foul play in Khan’s ouster.

Seems Like the US after Monkeying Around in Pakistan is Primed for a Relationship Reset

In 2021, as the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan was planned, news of Pakistan and US discussions for the use of Pakistan’s airspace for counter-terrorism in Afghanistan post-US withdrawal started to surface. However, such news and rumors were put to rest in June 2021, during an interview of then-Prime Minister Imran Khan by Jonathan Swan from Axios on HBO. During the interview, Khan’s famous words “absolutely not” regarding the allowance of the CIA’s use of bases on Pakistani soil were not only a surprise for Jonathan Swan but also alarmed the decision-makers in Washington. The messy US withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021 spawned tremendous criticism from global media, which termed the US’ two-decades-long campaign in Afghanistan as a failure. The failure scrambled the US officials to search for a scapegoat, which led to blaming Pakistan for its role in undermining the war effort, and Pakistan’s efforts for bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table in 2019 and 2020 and also in aiding the US coalition forces in their exit from Afghanistan did not receive any acknowledgment. Such cold behavior from the US officials left the Pakistan government weary and critical of the US as a strategic partner. The Pakistani government started thinking regionally and multilaterally to secure the country’s interests, and this directed Imran Khan’s government toward Russia.

Khan visited Russia from 23-24 February 2022, and it was during this official state visit that Russia’s operation in Ukraine began. Following Khan’s Moscow visit, Pakistan was amongst 35 nations that abstained from voting at the UN against Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Such steps taken by Imran Khan’s government irked the US officials, and surprisingly, 44 days after Imran Khan’s Moscow visit, he was voted out of government. The public in Pakistan is baffled and aghast by Imran Khan’s ouster as he is the same Prime Minister who is credited for reducing the country’s external debt to GDP ratio from 31.6% to 28.5% and is also credited with successfully steering the country out of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was also praised internationally and by the World Health Organization. The Economist’s normalcy index ranked Pakistan among the top three countries that handled the pandemic well. Khan’s strongman style of governance and anti-corruption drive were responsible for making enemies at home, and it is speculated that the same were used as tools for Khan’s removal.

A few days before Khan’s removal from office, on March 27, Mr. Khan addressed a public rally and spoke about foreign conspiracies hatched to knock down his government. In subsequent days, he revealed that the foreign country behind the conspiracy is the United States. Khan had received a diplomatic cable from Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Asad Majeed, in which the latter informed him of a peculiar meeting with Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs Donald Lu, and the US’ annoyance with Mr. Khan’s ‘independent foreign policy’ and visit to Moscow, warning him against repercussions at the level of the Pak-US relations.

The US is known to have orchestrated regime changes across the world. Some examples from contemporary history comprise: March-1949 Syrian coup d’état and 2012 to present attempts at regime change in Syria; 1953-Iranian coup d’état and 2005 to present; 1954-Guatemalan coup d’état; CIA’s Tibetan Program (although it failed, the Dalai Lama and Tibetan insurgents in Nepal continue to receive subsidies); 1956-58 US meddling in Indonesia; 1959-Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba;1960-1963 interference in Iraq, later in 1992-96 and the 2003 invasion; 1960-65 Congo Crisis engineered by the US; 1961 regime change in the Dominican Republic; 1963 CIA-backed coup in South Vietnam; 1964-Brazilian coup d’état; 1966 military coup in Ghana; 1973 Chilean coup d’état; 1976 Argentine coup d’état; 1979-89 interference in Afghanistan; 1980 Turkish coup d’état; Poland 1980-89; Nicaragua 1981-90; Venezuela 2002 coup d’état attempt; Somalia 2006-7; Arab Spring 2010-2011; 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.

The series of events leading up to PM Imran Khan’s removal from office seems like a page out of the CIA’s book of regime changes. Most of the above examples of US interventions start with the identification of local opposition leaders whose loyalties can be bought. Then these leaders in the opposition are funded to spread propaganda and mobilize protests and unrest within the country; making people lose faith in the government. Later, these same leaders are supplied with money to buy out people from the government and state institutions to further weaken the government until it is toppled. The resemblance is uncanny between what happened with Khan and the CIA’s actions in other countries for regime changes.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, some analysts believe that there was no foreign hand in Khan’s ouster; rather, his removal has been due to his failed economic policies and other unpopular domestic political actions. The same analysts state that Khan is using the US conspiracy theory as a political ploy to save face and garner public support for re-election. In order to check whether foreign intervention played a role in Khan’s ouster, a simple test can be run by comparing the Biden administration’s stance toward Pakistan during Khan’s government and after Khan’s government.

During Khan’s government, Pakistan sought economic cooperation rather than security cooperation with the US, which is why Imran Khan categorically refused to discuss options for offering military bases to the CIA in Pakistan. In response, the Biden administration rejected Pakistan’s proposals for economic cooperation. It has been less than a month since the new government in Pakistan has assumed responsibilities and on May 4, 2022, the US State Department during its press briefing hinted at Pak-US counter-terrorism assistance and cross-border security vis-à-vis Afghanistan. On May 6, the newly appointed Foreign Minister of Pakistan Mr. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari received a congratulatory call from Secretary of State Antony Blinken who agreed with his Pakistani counterpart that engagement with mutual respect was the way forward for both countries. There is a striking difference between the US stance in Blinken’s phone call and the diplomatic cable received by Khan’s government.  In the coming days, more is expected to happen as the new Foreign Minister of Pakistan has received an invitation to visit the United States to attend a Global Food Security Meeting this month. Such swift moves and clear contrast instances unmistakably point at foul play in Khan’s ouster.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

The Removal Of Imran Khan and the Popular Push Back. How Pakistan Helped Foster “The War on Terrorism”

May 07, 2022

Global Research,

By Michael WelchJunaid S. Ahmad, and Prof Michel Chossudovsky

All Global Research articles can be read in 51 languages by activating the Translate Website” drop down menu on the top banner of our home page (Desktop version).

Visit and follow us on Instagram at @crg_globalresearch.

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“I am saying to you today, that for the first time, Pakistan’s policies won’t be for the few rich people, it will be for the poor, for our women, for our minorities, whose rights are not respected. My whole aim will be to protect our lower classes and to bring them up.”

–  Imran Khan, 2018 election campaign speech [1]

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

https://www.bitchute.com/embed/Rph1tf60Fnph/

Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

In the early hours of April 9, the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, faced a no-confidence motion in the country’s National Assembly resulting in his removal from power. This was the first time ever that an official of his stature was removed in such a manner. [2]

What makes this move so geopolitically significant was the unique significance of this state as a square on the tabletop of the grand chessboard between the United States, and Russia and China.

On the one hand, Pakistan has traditionally used the country’s military and the intelligence services, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), as partners. Over the course of the last twenty years, the Islamic State was a leading local site from which to launch air and ground operations in favor of America’s War on Terrorism. And as Michel Chossudovsky wrote back at the time of the infamous September 11th terrorist attacks, the ISI played a key role in acting as a “go-between” between the CIA and the Islamic jihadists in Afghanistan going back to 1979. This would in large part lead to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union. [3][4]

On the other hand, Pakistan has gained partners both in Russia and in China. There was a vital 1100km gas pipeline project between Lahore and Karachi in which the goods would be provided from Russia. And in November of 2014, Russia and Pakistan signed a defense cooperation pact followed by a military-technical cooperation agreement all of which would serve toward “Strengthening of mutual trust and international security, counter-terrorist and arms control activities.” [5][6][7]

And then there was China’s “One Belt One Road” initiative, which would ultimately help undermine dependence on the Strait of Malacca and building a conduit between China and West Asia and the Middle East. [8]

These alliances have been tightening under the new leader Khan. On the same night Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized the Ukraine intervention, Khan had been meeting with him to discuss a wide variety of subjects including economic and energy cooperation. He did not announce a formal disapproval of the intervention in Ukraine then, nor did he do it when he returned home. [9][10]

Did Khan then cross the rubicon and slot himself in the bad books of Washington? Maybe it’s a coincidence, but in the lead-up to the National Assembly vote of no confidence, Prime Minister Khan cited the following quote of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu as evidence the U.S. was behind this move:

“If Prime Minister Imran Khan remained in office, then Pakistan will be isolated from the United States and we will take the issue head on; but if the vote of no-confidence succeeds, all will be forgiven.” [11]

Was this yet another plot of regime change by the United States? And how would the people coming out in unprecedented number in support of their removed Prime Minister prevail in his return to power? We will examine these questions on this edition of the Global Research News Hour.

In Part One of our series, we will talk to Professor Junaid Ahmad, who has a background in Pakistan about the details of the coup, the reasons for Khan to go, and the resulting push back from the people of Pakistan. And in our second half hour, we present a repeat broadcast from October of 2012 of an interview with Professor Michel Chossudovsky, founder/director of the Centre for Research on Globalization. His talk mostly deals with Afghanistan and 9/11, although he touches also on Pakistan’s then pivotal role in the military-intelligent quagmire surrounding the whole affair.

Junaid S. Ahmad teaches Religion, Law, and Politics and is the Director of the Center for the Study of Islam and Decoloniality. He is a regular contributor to Global Research.

Michel Chossudovsky is the author of thirteen books including The Globalization of War: America’s Long War Against Humanity (2015), and the international best America’s “War on Terrorism”  Second Edition (2005). He is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Center for Research on Globalization. 

(Global Research News Hour Episode 354)

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

https://www.bitchute.com/embed/Rph1tf60Fnph/
Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

The Global Research News Hour airs every Friday at 1pm CT on CKUW 95.9FM out of the University of Winnipeg. The programme is also podcast at globalresearch.ca .

Other stations airing the show:

CIXX 106.9 FM, broadcasting from Fanshawe College in London, Ontario. It airs Sundays at 6am.

WZBC 90.3 FM in Newton Massachusetts is Boston College Radio and broadcasts to the greater Boston area. The Global Research News Hour airs during Truth and Justice Radio which starts Sunday at 6am.

Campus and community radio CFMH 107.3fm in  Saint John, N.B. airs the Global Research News Hour Fridays at 7pm.

CJMP 90.1 FM, Powell River Community Radio, airs the Global Research News Hour every Saturday at 8am. 

Caper Radio CJBU 107.3FM in Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia airs the Global Research News Hour starting Wednesday afternoon from 3-4pm.

Cowichan Valley Community Radio CICV 98.7 FM serving the Cowichan Lake area of Vancouver Island, BC airs the program Thursdays at 9am pacific time.

Notes:

  1. ‘Imran Khan’s speech in full’ (July 26, 2018), Al Jazeera;https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/7/26/imran-khans-speech-in-full
  2. No-Trust Motion: Imran Khan Becomes First Prime Minister To Be Voted Out Of Power (April 10, 2022), The Nation; https://nation.com.pk/2022/04/10/no-trust-motion-imran-khan-becomes-first-prime-minister-to-be-voted-out-of-pow/
  3. https://asiatimes.com/2021/05/pakistan-leans-towards-giving-us-military-bases/
  4. https://www.globalresearch.ca/september-11-2001-the-crimes-of-war-committed-in-the-name-of-911/5311561
  5. https://cscr.pk/explore/themes/trade-economics/pakistan-russia-china-emerging-coalition/
  6. https://www.ilaan.com/news/gas-pipelines-to-be-laid-from-lahore-to-karachi
  7. https://dsm.forecastinternational.com/wordpress/2019/05/03/russia-and-pakistan-a-new-arms-deal-on-the-horizon/
  8. https://cscr.pk/explore/themes/trade-economics/pakistan-russia-china-emerging-coalition/
  9. https://www.gulftoday.ae/news/2022/02/24/pakistan-prime-minister-imran-khan-in-russia-to-meet-putin
  10. https://www.globalresearch.ca/regime-change-islamabad/5776219
  11. https://www.globalresearch.ca/pakistan-pivot-russia-ouster-imran-khan/5777970?utm_campaign=magnet&utm_source=article_page&utm_medium=related_articles

The original source of this article is Global Research

Copyright © Michael WelchJunaid S. Ahmad, and Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2022

Terror from Balochistan: a menacing tool to disrupt Sino-Pakistani economics

A Baloch suicide bombing targeting Chinese workers in Karachi comes a mere month after the US-backed ousting of PM Imran Khan. Pakistan is a critical BRI hub in Beijing’s vast Eurasian connectivity project, and it looks like CPEC is the ultimate target of this disruption.

May 05 2022

Balochistan can only benefit from Chinese infrastructure investment in the immensely impoverished Pakistani province. But an uptick in attacks on Chinese workers by militant separatists suggests that external agendas may be in play. Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Pepe Escobar

This is the concise story of how a suicide bombing may carry the potential to subvert the whole, ongoing, complex process of Eurasia integration.

Recently, the Balochistan Liberation Movement (BLA) had released an ISIS-influenced video threatening “Chinese officials and installations” in Pakistan’s vast province.

Yet what actually happened in late April was a suicide bombing outside of the University of Karachi’s Confucius Institute – not Balochistan – and targeting Chinese teachers, not “officials and installations.”

The suicide bomber was a woman, Shaari Baloch, alias Bramsh, who detonated her vest just as a van carrying Institute staff members approached the entrance. The attack was claimed by the BLA’s Majeed Brigade, which stressed that this was the first time they used a female suicide bomber.

Shaari Baloch was a schoolteacher with a Zoology degree, enrolled to pursue a second Master’s degree, married to a dentist and professor at Makran Medical College in her hometown of Turbat, in southern Balochistan. Her three brothers include a doctor, a deputy director at a government-funded project, and a civil servant. So Shaari Baloch was far from being a mere destitute online-indoctrinated Salafi-jihadi.

The Pakistani Foreign Office had to stress the obvious: this was a “direct attack on the Pakistan-China friendship and ongoing cooperation,” always qualified, by both sides, as “iron brothers.” Pakistan is an absolutely key node of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to connect the Eurasian landmass.

This was no standard terrorist attack. Its reverberations are immense – not only in one of Pakistan’s provinces and South Asia regionally, but for the whole of Eurasia. It may be a harbinger of serious turbulence ahead.

Shaari Baloch’s act of desperation should be seen, to start with, as the embodiment of a deep-seated Baloch alienation felt by the educated middle classes, from lawyers and traders to students, constantly permeating the complex relationship with a distant Islamabad. A significant part of the puzzle is that 26 Pakistani intel agencies never saw it coming.

Baloch leaders instantly made the point that the best possible reaction would be to call a Grand Jirga – modeled on the Shahi Jirga practiced at the time of the partition of the subcontinent – that would unite all tribal elders to address the most pressing local grievances.

Round up the usual suspects

Balochistan, geostrategically, is as valuable as rare earth minerals: an immense desert positioned east of Iran, south of Afghanistan, and boasting three Arabian Sea ports, including Gwadar, practically at the mouth of the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

Comprising nearly 48 percent of Pakistan’s area, Balochistan is rich in uranium and copper, potentially very rich in oil, produces more than one-third of Pakistan’s natural gas, and sparsely populated. The Baloch account for the majority of the population, followed by Pashtuns. Quetta, the large provincial capital, for years was considered Taliban Central by the Pentagon.

Gwadar, the port built by China on the southwestern Balochistan coast of the Arabian Sea – directly across from Oman – is the absolute key node of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and doubles as the essential link in a never-ending pipeline saga. The Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline, previously known as the “peace pipeline,” with plans to cross from Iranian to Pakistani Balochistan (India still has not made up its mind) is absolute anathema to Washington since the George W. Bush era.

CPEC remains an endless source of controversy even inside Pakistan. Beyond all the links planned between Gwadar and Xinjiang by the year 2030, most of this ambitious connectivity corridor deals with energy, industrial zones and road and rail projects in different parts of the country – an overall improvement of its lagging infrastructure. The Chinese, for years, have quipped that in fact “all of Pakistan is a corridor.”

The US security establishment, predictably, has been planning for years to instrumentalize an insurgency in Balochistan to – what else – “disrupt” first the possibility of an energy pipeline from Gwadar to Xinjiang, and then the overall CPEC project. Usual suspects like the US’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) are very much present in Balochistan. WikiLeaks had revealed a great deal of the game back in 2015.

A Carnegie Institute report noted how “many Baloch nationalist leaders now come from the urbanized districts of Kech, Panjgur, and Gwadar (and to a lesser extent from Quetta, Khuzdar, Turbat, Kharan, and Lasbela). They are well connected to Karachi and Gulf cities, where tribal structures are non-existent. In fact, while there is violence all over the province, the insurgency seems to concentrate mainly in these urbanized areas.”

Suicide bomber Shaari Baloch came from Turbat, the province’s second largest city, where the BLA is very much active. From the point of view of the usual suspects, these are choice assets, especially after the death of important tribal leaders such as Akbar Bugti. The report duly noted how “the educated and middle-class Baloch youth are in the forefront” of the insurgency.

The anti-China instrumentalization of the BLA also ties in with the regime-change parliament operation in Islamabad that recently deposed former prime minister Imran Khan, who was always a fierce adversary of the American “Forever War” in Afghanistan. Khan resolutely denied Pakistan’s use in “over the horizon” US military ops: that was one of the key reasons for him to be ousted.

Now, with a pliant, Washington-approved, new regime in town, a miracle has just happened: the Pentagon is about to clinch a formal agreement with Islamabad to use Pakistani airspace to – what else – keep interfering in Afghanistan.

Beijing, as well as other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), won’t be amused. Only weeks before the white coup, Khan had met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and once again underscored how Pakistan and China are “iron brothers.”

Imran Khan was a serious thorn in the side of the west because he kept impressing on Pakistanis that the Forever War in Afghanistan was militarily unwinnable. He knew how all the proxies – including the BLA – that destabilized both Afghanistan and Pakistan for decades were, and continue to be, part of US covert operations.

Not an Iran-India plot

Balochistan is as deeply tribal as the Pashtun tribal areas. Local tribal chiefs can be as ultra-conservative as Islamabad is neglectful (and they are not exactly paragons of human rights either). Most tribes though bow to Islamabad’s authority – except, first and foremost, the Bugti.

And then there’s the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), which both Washington and London used to brand as a terrorist group, and then forgot about it. The BLA operated for years out of Kandahar in Afghanistan (only two hours away from Quetta), and already in the previous decade – simultaneous to the announcement of the New Silk Roads and CPEC – stressed it was getting ready to attack non-Balochis (code for the government in Islamabad as well as Chinese foreigners).

Balochis are inclined to consider the BLA as a resistance group. But Islamabad has always denied it, saying their support is not beyond 10 percent of the provincial population.

An ample controversy has raged in Pakistan for years on whether the BLA was totally hijacked by the CIA, the MI6 and the Mossad. During a 2006 visit to Iran, I was prevented from going to the Sistan-Balochistan province in southeast Iran because, according to Tehran’s version, infiltrated CIA from Pakistani Balochistan were involved in covert, cross-border attacks. It was no secret to anyone in the region that since 9/11 the US virtually controlled the Baloch air bases in Dalbandin and Panjgur.

In October 2001, while waiting for an opening to cross to Kandahar from Quetta, I spent quite some time with a number of BLA associates and sympathizers. They described themselves as “progressive, nationalist, anti-imperialist” (and that would make them difficult to be co-opted by the US). They were heavily critical of “Punjabi chauvinism,” and always insisted the region’s resources belong to Balochis first; that was their rationale for attacks on gas pipelines.

Stressing an atrocious, provincial literacy rate of only 16 percent (“It’s government policy to keep Balochistan backward”), they resented the fact that most people still lacked drinking water. They claimed support from at least 70 percent of the Baloch population (“Whenever the BLA fires a rocket, it’s the talk of the bazaars”). They also claimed to be united, and in coordination with Iranian Balochis. And they insisted that “Pakistan had turned Balochistan into a US cantonment, which affected a lot the relationship between the Afghan and Baloch peoples.”

Two decades later, and after the whole ISIS saga in Syria and Iraq, it’s a completely different story. BLA sympathizers may still be prepared to remain within a Pakistani confederation, although with infinitely more autonomy. But now they seem to be willing to use western imperial help to strike not only at the central government in Islamabad, but also at the “near abroad” foreign profiteer (China).

After the Karachi suicide bombing, a narrative started to emerge in some Pakistani circles that Iran and India were in cahoots to destabilize Balochistan.

That makes absolutely no sense. Both Tehran and Islamabad are tightly linked to Beijing through several nodes of the New Silk Roads. Iran would draw less than zero benefit to collude with India to destabilize an area that borders Afghanistan, especially when the SCO is fully engaged in incorporating Kabul into the Eurasia integration process. Moreover, the IPI has its best chances ever to come to fruition in the near future, consolidating an umbilical cord from Southwest Asia to South Asia.

During the late years of Barack Obama’s administration, the BLA, though still a fringe group with a political wing and a military wing, was regrouping and rearming, while the chief minister of Balochistan, Nawab Raisani, was suspected of being a CIA asset (there was no conclusive proof).

Already at the time, the fear in Islamabad was that the government had taken its eye off the Balochistan ball – and that the BLA was about to be effectively used by the US for balkanization purposes. That seems to be the picture right now. Yet the heart of the matter – glaringly expressed by the Karachi suicide bombing – is that Islamabad still remains impervious to the key Baloch grievance: we want to profit from our natural wealth, and we want autonomy.

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

The Value of Russia’s Contract Army in Modern Warfare (Rostislav Ishchenko)

May 05, 2022

Source

Attacks on headquarters and “what did we do?”

https://ukraina.ru/opinion/20220422/1033832507.html

April 22, 2022

Translated by Leo V.

Modern warfare is very difficult to wage. Especially a long war. On the one hand, the population of any country is easily excited and demands severe punishment for the insidious enemy, smashing his capital to rubble in response to the theft of a chicken from our territory. On the other hand, people like war only as long as the losses associated with it do not personally concern them.

After the very first difficulties, cries of “the German queen”, “treason in the palace”, “incompetent leadership” began. And after a couple of months, deputies and generals shouting about treason, under the hooting of armed gopoti (feminine men), they force the abdication of their own monarch, not considering it a betrayal.

The task of any leading government is to maintain a balance between victories at the front and peace in the rear. The ideal is achieved if these two sides of life do not intersect at all: the army is fighting somewhere, the media reports every day about the captured settlements, destroyed enemies and equipment, advancement for tens of kilometers and other “flags on the turrets”, and behind that lives a familiar life, weakly distinguishing on the screen the frames of the past war from the frames of the current war.

A modern contract army allows such a war to be waged. The American Army, its NATO allies and PMCs suffered cumulative losses in Afghanistan comparable to the losses of the Soviet Army in the Afghan war. But if for Soviet society 13 thousand dead in 10 years became a terrible tragedy that shook the foundations of the USSR, then the West simply did not notice its losses. Although earlier, during the colonial wars of the 50-70s of the last century (up to the Vietnam War), they really noticed.

The fact is that both the West, up to and including Vietnam, and the USSR in Afghanistan, had a draft army. That is, each family of a conscript, until he served, felt the threat of sending their son (or grandson) to the front and subsequent death or serious injury. The human psyche is so arranged that we perceive an eventual threat more acutely than a real one. When a real danger comes, you can fight it and the brain concentrates on the fight, forgetting about fear. If the danger is postponed for the future (“hovering in the air”), the brain concentrates on this danger, the person feels helpless in the face of the threat, since it is impossible to fight what has not yet come, the psyche begins to decompose.

The fighting that is waged by a contract army (or a mixed one in which only volunteer contract soldiers go to hot spots) is not perceived by every family as a threat. Only contractors who voluntarily chose such work associated with risk can die. Working in the police is also associated with risk, as well as the work of rescuers and many other professions. Society long ago, centuries ago, got used to the presence of constantly risky professional groups and did not react to it too sharply. In the same way, medieval Italians were absolutely not interested in the fate of the condottieri (soldiers signing the “condotta” – this is how the Italians of that time called a military contract. The results of the battles were of interest only insofar as they could bring profit or cause damage to their city, and therefore to its entire community.

In terms of the psychological stability of society to war and losses, a contract army has serious advantages over a draft one. But it also has its shortcomings. The contract army does not have such a large trained reserve. This is a group of professionals that can only be replenished by the same professionals whose previous contract has expired, but they do not mind signing a new one. The conscripts of such an army (if it is a mixed conscription army, as it is now in Russia) are needed mainly to protect the rear at home, maintain order in the barracks and military camps, but most importantly, to get acquainted in practice with the terms of the future contract – the bulk of contract soldiers (at least in peacetime) are conscripts or recently served, who have decided, have chosen a military specialty for themselves and who have decided to continue their service by contact.

The limited reserve makes each individual soldier a valuable resource, which, in turn, determines army tactics that involve the maximum preservation of personnel. The captain of the condottieri or the commander of the European mercenary army of the XVII-XVIII centuries, only then does it mean something if he is able to attract the maximum number of soldiers under his banner, and they will go to him, if he fights successfully, his people eat well, earn a lot, and rarely die.

Therefore, European tactics until the advent of mass armies of the XIX century (in which the soldier became expendable) consisted entirely of maneuvers and small fights. The commanders tried to defeat each other, eliminating the risk of a general battle. Modern generals, commanders of contract armies, quickly come to the conclusion, which has been fairly forgotten over two centuries of domination of mass armies on the battlefields – a well-prepared and trained professional soldier is an independent value, he must be protected more than technology. The workers will make new equipment or repair the old one, but military professionals is something that “women don’t give birth to.” A professional must be brought up, recruited for military service, motivated, trained and prepared. It takes years and it becomes truly golden.

Times have changed and in order to save personnel, they are now using not a maneuver, but the consistent destruction of the enemy by artillery, aircraft and missile weapons. Ideally, infantry and armored vehicles set in motion and occupy cities and villages when the enemy has already completely or partially lost combat capability. They do not break through battle formations, but finish off an enemy that has already been brought to this condition. Bloodless or almost bloodless blitzkriegs, like the Crimea in 2014, are rare and, as a rule, due to a combination of circumstances, among which the surprise of the strike is the final task, the main thing is the demoralizing lack of reliance on the local population by the defending side, as well as the complete military-technical superiority of the advancing side, which moreover, has the massive support of the local population.

So, a modern contract army in its classic form fights for a long time and economically. But this does not impress the population, which is hungry for beautiful victories on TV (especially since family members do not die at the front, but watch the same TV). Even more, it does not suit politicians. A long war does not make it possible to accurately calculate the political risks. Everything that is outside of six months or a year is subject to sudden critical changes and is not calculated.

Faced with the need to wage a protracted campaign, politicians (at least part of the political elite) prefer the conclusion of a compromise peace, without achieving the decisive goals declared in advance, to uncalculated risks. This is how it was with the Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq. We recently encountered a similar attempt during the Russian special operation.

However, our main enemies (the US and the EU), having used sanctions weapons against Russia in the hope of an economic blitzkrieg, they found that a quick economic victory is impossible – the Russian economy survived, and in the medium term (2-4 years) their sanctions will destroy their own economy. As a result, there were statements about the need to defeat Russia on the battlefield.

But for Ukraine, this is not enough. Ukraine can drag out the conflict for six months, a maximum of a year, but its resource base does not allow it to last longer. That is, the time during which Ukraine can hold out, the West would need to spend on expanding the theater of operations and bringing in new members of the anti-Russian coalition, ready to field armies. This is not a trivial task, but, given enough time, it can be solved.

Accordingly, Russia needs to either reduce the activity of the West in order to wait for the collapse of its economy, after which it will not be able to wage an active hybrid war against Moscow. Or minimize the duration of hostilities in Ukraine in order to deprive the West of a pretext and opportunity to expand the conflict.

The latter is possible either with the help of a compromise peace, which not only will not be accepted by Russian society, but the West will not allow Ukraine to conclude it. Either with the help of intensification of hostilities, which is in conflict with the basic tactics of a contract army, but is achievable with a large number of former contract soldiers who have served, but still romanticizing the war (including those with experience in PMCs) of a medium (35-45 years) age.

At the same time, one must understand that they will present higher requirements for security and monetary maintenance. But the most important thing is that this is far from an inexhaustible source of endless reserves, as in the usual mobilization of a draft army. It is possible to attract several tens of thousands, and perhaps even a couple of hundred thousand people at a time. But that’s where the main line ends. That is, all the problems of current operations will have to be solved based on the finiteness and limitations of the available forces and the absence of a ready and trained reserve to continue high-intensity operations outside the autumn of this year.

So, we again return to the contradiction, which consists in the need for strict economy of available resources on the one hand, and the acceleration of the breakdown of Ukrainian resistance on the other. Part of our society, instinctively feeling the presence of this contradiction, offers a radical way out in the form of the promised “attacks on headquarters”, and demands to hit directly on Washington and London.

This option could be considered as a working one, but society is not morally ready for the possible costs. The same people who demand a massive nuclear strike on the United States, as soon as they hear the term “nuclear war” and “retaliation strike”, in the best Ukrainian traditions, they start shouting “what is that for?!” and “how dare you even think of a nuclear war!”

Such reaction confirms that, despite all the problems of recent years, we are still one people. But this also means that the possibility of a sharp increase in rates, and the option of destroying convoys with weapons for the Kiev regime in the territories of Western countries has been exhausted for us at this stage. The people, accustomed to seeing the war on TV, are not ready for the possible consequences of such decisions outside their window.

Consequently, the value of a prompt, effective and successful operation against the Ukrainian group in the Donbass is greatly increased. In fact, a general battle is now beginning there, on which depends not the fate of the “special operation” with all its “stages”, but the fate of Russia’s war with the West for its existence.

Andrei Martyanov: They are terrified when seeing this banner

April 28, 2022

Please visit Andrei’s website: https://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/
and support him here: https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=60459185

IRG Gen. Survives Deadly Ambush in Restive Region

April 23 2022

By Staff, Agencies

An Islamic Revolutionary Guard [IRG] general is said to have survived a deadly attack that caused the martyrdom of a bodyguard, according to a report on Iranian state TV Saturday.

Brigadier General Hossein Almassi, a Guards commander in the restive Sistan-Baluchistan province, was traveling in a vehicle near a checkpoint in the provincial capital Zahedan when it came under fire by gunmen, Reuters reported Saturday, citing Iranian TV.

The general sustained no injuries, the report said.

The bodyguard who was slain was identified as Mahmoud Absalom, the son of a senior IRG commander in the region, according to a report by the Islamic Republic News Agency [IRNA].

Authorities have arrested some suspects but did not identify them, the report added.

Sistan-Baluchistan is the site of occasional clashes between Iranian forces and various militant groups.

The province, bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan, is a base for a Sunni separatist group affiliated with al-Qaida and known as Jeish al-Adl, or Army of Justice.

Iranian security forces have also clashed with drug traffickers in the province, located along a major smuggling route for Afghan opium and heroin.

Sitrep: Zone B

April 18, 2022

Source

By Amarynth

By now everyone has read Andrei (The Saker’s) excellent essay on what he termed Zone A and Zone B.

Zone B exists, thus there is hope, I promise you!

This sitrep will look at three Zone B country actions, all driven by those that understand we are in a civilizational moment of change in our world.

Mexico:  A week ago, AMLO fulfilled his promise to the electorate and had what is generally called a re-call vote.  Simply, if you don’t like what I do, you can recall me right now and we will have new elections – a direct democracy action.  He won, by an astonishing 91.86 percent of the vote — or 15.1 million out of 16.5 million votes cast.  We can conclude that he is a popular president and the Mexican people are with him.

Yet, he has been under pressure for the same reasons that other Zone B countries are being pressurised.  He refused to criticize Russia’s actions and refused to join the sanctions regime.  In a moment of harsh pressure, he made a statement that again did not criticize Russia per se, but criticized war.   Today is the day that there is a discussion on energy sovereignty, and whereas I don’t know the minute details, this is a long term objective of AMLO.  I would read the tea leaves and suggest that the pressure on AMLO had to do with where Mexico sells its oil.

Given Mexico’s geographic position in the world, this looks like a very gutsy Zone B move to me.

Pakistan: Imran Khan was removed as Prime Minister of Pakistan via a very easy mechanism of regime change. A few of his key legislators joined the opposition and he found himself without a majority. He (and his remaining legislators) walked out, minutes before a new leader was elected, as they refused to be part of a US-imposed government structure. It did not end there. He called people to the streets to fight for the sovereign principles of a Zone B country.

Take a look:

Then, as usual, we find out the reason for this regime change. After the change of leader, Pakistan sent air attacks against Afghanistan. Under Khan, they refused to give space to US forces for a new attack base against Afghanistan, whether the Taliban is in control or not. China somewhat ‘adopted’ Afghanistan and is doing much work there to bring the Taliban into a fair governance position.

This is early days and we will see if the massive Zone B populace in the streets of Pakistan makes a difference.  Early elections are being called for.

And from Russia:

Do read the full article:  https://thecradle.co/Article/news/9248

Can Europe overcome hatred, racism, embrace universalist spirit of refugee convention?

April 17 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen

Ruqiya Anwar 

The hardship of white Ukrainian refugees was humanized by the United States and Europe, while the West showed racism and double standards when it came to hosting refugees from the global south that were escaping western funded wars in the first place.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov described Ukrainian refugees as Europeans concluding “These are intelligent individuals”

The Ukraine crisis has caused one of Europe’s greatest and fastest refugee migrations since World War II ended. A massive amount of people had fled to neighboring countries. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as many as four million people could evacuate the country in the next weeks. The European Union (EU) estimates that there will be seven million refugees by the end of the year. 

It has revealed significant disparities in the treatment of migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Africa, particularly Syrians who arrived in 2015. However, Europe’s radically divergent responses to these two crises serve a warning lesson for those seeking a more humane and generous Europe. The distinctions also explain why some of those fleeing Ukraine, particularly African, Asian, and Middle Eastern, are not receiving the same lavish treatment as Ukrainian citizens (Tayyaba, 2022).

However, we are aware that this is not how the international protection regime has worked in Europe, particularly in countries now hosting Ukrainian refugees. Racist and xenophobic language towards refugees and migrants, particularly those from Middle Eastern nations, pervades public discourse in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania, and hostile actions such as border pushbacks and draconian detention measures have been taken in the past.

Notably, Hungary, since the 2015 refugee crisis, the country has refused to accept refugees from non-EU countries. Non-European refugees, according to Prime Minister Victor Orbán, are “Muslim invaders” and migrants are “a poison”, and Hungary should not welcome refugees from diverse cultures and religions to preserve its cultural and ethnic unity. 

More recently, in late 2021, the atrocious treatment of refugees and asylum seekers stranded on Belarus’s borders with Poland and Lithuania, most of whom were from Iraq and Afghanistan, provoked an outcry across Europe. Belarus has been accused of turning these people’s misfortune into a weapon by luring them to Belarus to travel to EU countries in retribution for EU sanctions.

Whereas hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian migrants pour into neighbouring nations, clutching their children in one arm and their valuables. And leaders from nations like Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Moldova, and Romania have greeted them.

While hospitality has been praised, it has also brought significant disparities in the treatment of migrants and refugees from the Middle East, particularly Syrians who arrived in 2015. Some of them claim that the language used by politicians currently welcoming refugees is upsetting and cruel.

According to Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, “These are not the refugees we’re familiar with. These are Europeans. These are intelligent individuals. They are well-educated individuals. This is not the type of refugee surge we’ve seen before, with people whose identities we didn’t know, people with murky pasts, and even terrorists”.

However, when over a million individuals walked into Europe in 2015, there was initially a lot of support for refugees fleeing crises in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. There were also instances of animosity, such as when a Hungarian camerawoman was caught on camera kicking and potentially tripping migrants near the country’s Serbian border (CNC, 2022)

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the Arab Uprisings of 2011 increased the number of refugees attempting to enter Europe. Even Turkey, which already hosts over 4 million migrants and asylum seekers, including 3.6 million Syrians, could not effectively accommodate them. However, the reception of these minority refugees in European countries has been overwhelmingly unfavourable.

Hundreds of Afghan, Syrian, Iraqi, and other asylum seekers were stranded in Poland-Belarus woodlands and marshes in 2021, without shelter, food, or water in subzero temperatures and facing constant assaults from Polish and Belarusian border authorities. At least a dozen people were killed, including children. Yet, the European Union refused to open the border.

Significantly, although walls are an inadequate means to handle the movement of refugees and migrants, wall-building has been on the rise in the region since the 1990s. Then, the European continent celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall. According to a 2018 Transnational Institute analysis, the primary goal of these walls is to dissuade refugees and asylum seekers from the Global South.

Greece finished building a wall along its border with Turkey in 2021 to keep Afghan asylum seekers out. The Spanish government now intends to construct the world’s tallest wall in northern Morocco, where it claims the power to block migrant access into Spain, which is only 250 miles away.

Lithuania has been constructing an 11-foot-high steel fence with 2-inch-thick razor wire on its border with Belarus since 2021 to prevent migrants from the Middle East and North Africa from entering the country. EU states have agreed to accept Ukrainian refugees for up to three years without requiring them to seek asylum. Poland has stated that it will absorb 1 million Ukrainians. Lithuania, Hungary, Latvia, Romania, Moldova, Greece, Germany, and Spain are among the countries that have already opened their borders.

Unfortunately, these double standards have shown in the attitude of non-Ukrainians leaving Ukraine’s conflict. Students and refugees from the Middle East have been subjected to racist abuse, obstruction, and violence while attempting to exit Ukraine in increasing numbers. Many others said they were barred from boarding trains and buses in Ukrainian cities because Ukrainian nationals were given precedence; others said they have violently moved aside and halted by Ukrainian border guards when attempting to pass into neighbouring countries.

There were tales about non-white refugee communities that had gone unrecorded and unpublished. Despite their huge number and agonizing battles across countries and continents, millions of Syrian refugees remained anonymous and blankly depicted in the media. While standing in line at the border and seeking to get crucial services, a number of non-Ukrainians of colour, including Africans, Afghans, and Yemenis, have experienced prejudice.

The astonishing double standards were on full display in the aftermath of the Ukraine crisis and the early phases of the conflict that followed. The hardship of white Ukrainian refugees was humanized by the United States and Europe, as well as their different political spectrums. When the refugees were Arabs or Muslims, Black or Brown, however, it remained vehemently divided.

Moreover, the Polish authorities detained people and refused them to enter the country. The refugee crisis in Ukraine provides Europe with not only an important opportunity to demonstrate its generosity, humanitarian values, and commitment to the global refugee protection regime, and it also provides a critical opportunity for reflection, Can Europe’s people overcome widespread racism and hatred and embrace the universalist spirit of the 1951 Refugee Convention? All member states must apply the provisions of this Convention to refugees without discrimination as to race, religion, or country of origin.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

Iran warns of foreign ploy to sow discord with Afghanistan

Amid the release of videos allegedly showing Afghan refugees facing abuse, Iranian officials say that a militant opposition group is behind the disparaging campaign

April 11 2022

(Photo credit: AP)

ByNews Desk

On 10 April, the Iranian embassy in Kabul issued a warning about a “foreign conspiracy” to spoil the relations with neighboring Afghanistan.

The warning comes following the publication of several videos on social media allegedly documenting abuse against Afghan refugees in Iran.

Using the Twitter hashtag #AfghanRefugeesInIran, the videos show refugees allegedly kept in cramped conditions, reportedly facing punishments from security officials, and being subjected to attacks from the general public.

A majority of the videos have yet to be independently verified.

In response to the controversy, the Iranian embassy in Kabul issued a statement denying the allegations of abuse, highlighting that “the information currently circulating is a conspiracy to undermine relations between the two countries.”

“Despite the economic hardship and sanctions, the Islamic Republic of Iran has placed no obstacles in front of Afghan citizens seeking refuge – and continues to receive them today,” the statement went on to say.

It added that the images being published online are staged.

During a meeting between Afghanistan’s Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and Iranian Ambassador Bahadur Aminian on 10 April, the Taliban official said that a message should be delivered to Tehran to instruct relevant security authorities to “stop abusing Afghan refugees,” especially in border areas.

In response, Aminian said that, following last week’s deadly stabbing attack at Imam Ali Reza shrine in Mashhad, a number of individuals launched a propaganda campaign to create division between the two countries.

Speaking with TOLOnews a day before, the Iranian diplomat blamed an Iranian militant opposition group for the defamatory campaign.

“We have a group called the People’s Mujahideen Organization of Iran, which has appointed thousands of people just to release clips… they are active in Afghanistan and Iran,” Aminian said.

He also said his government has no intention of mistreating Afghan refugees but always seeks to build trust between the two countries, further adding that Tehran is ready to assist Afghanistan in becoming economically self-sufficient.

“We hope the Afghan issues will be solved, a national reconciliation will be ensured and all tribes will see themselves in the government,” the Iranian ambassador told reporters.

From Korea to Libya: On the Future of Ukraine and NATO’s Neverending Wars

April 6, 2022

Ukraine needs peace and security, not perpetual war that is designed to serve the strategic interests of certain countries or military alliances.

By Ramzy BAROUD

Much has been said and written about media bias and double standards in the West’s response to the Russia-Ukraine war, when compared with other wars and military conflicts across the world, especially in the Middle East and the Global South. Less obvious is how such hypocrisy is a reflection of a much larger phenomenon which governs the West’s relationship to war and conflict zones.

Like every NATO-led war since the inception of the alliance in 1949, these wars resulted in widespread devastation and tragic death tolls.

On March 19, Iraq commemorated the 19th anniversary of the US invasion which killed, according to modest estimates, over a million Iraqis. The consequences of that war were equally devastating as it destabilized the entire Middle East region, leading to various civil and proxy wars. The Arab world is reeling under that horrific experience to this day.

Also, on March 19, the eleventh anniversary of the NATO war on Libya was commemorated and followed, five days later, by the 23rd anniversary of the NATO war on Yugoslavia. Like every NATO-led war since the inception of the alliance in 1949, these wars resulted in widespread devastation and tragic death tolls.

None of these wars, starting with the NATO intervention in the Korean Peninsula in 1950, have stabilized any of the warring regions. Iraq is still as vulnerable to terrorism and outside military interventions and, in many ways, remains an occupied country. Libya is divided among various warring camps, and a return to civil war remains a real possibility.

Yet, enthusiasm for war remains high, as if over seventy years of failed military interventions have not taught us any meaningful lessons. Daily, news headlines tell us that the US, the UK, Canada, Germany, Spain or some other western power have decided to ship a new kind of ‘lethal weapons‘ to Ukraine. Billions of dollars have already been allocated by Western countries to contribute to the war in Ukraine.

In contrast, very little has been done to offer platforms for diplomatic, non-violent solutions. A handful of countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia have offered mediation or insisted on a diplomatic solution to the war, arguing, as China’s foreign ministry reiterated on March 18, that “all sides need to jointly support Russia and Ukraine in having dialogue and negotiation that will produce results and lead to peace.”

Though the violation of the sovereignty of any country is illegal under international law, and is a stark violation of the United Nations Charter, this does not mean that the only solution to violence is counter-violence. This cannot be truer in the case of Russia and Ukraine, as a state of civil war has existed in Eastern Ukraine for eight years, harvesting thousands of lives and depriving whole communities from any sense of peace or security. NATO’s weapons cannot possibly address the root causes of this communal struggle. On the contrary, they can only fuel it further.

If more weapons were the answer, the conflict would have been resolved years ago. According to the BBC, the US has already allocated $2.7bn to Ukraine over the last eight years, long before the current war. This massive arsenal included “anti-tank and anti-armor weapons … US-made sniper (rifles), ammunition and accessories.”

The speed with which additional military aid has poured into Ukraine following the Russian military operations on February 24 is unprecedented in modern history. This raises not only political or legal questions, but moral questions as well – the eagerness to fund war and the lack of enthusiasm to help countries rebuild.

After 21 years of US war and invasion of Afghanistan, resulting in a humanitarian and refugee crisis, Kabul is now largely left on its own. Last September, the UN refugee agency warned that “a major humanitarian crisis is looming in Afghanistan”, yet nothing has been done to address this ‘looming’ crisis, which has greatly worsened since then.

The amassing of NATO weapons in Ukraine, as was the case of Libya, will likely backfire. In Libya, NATO’s weapons fueled the country’s decade long civil war.

Afghani refugees are rarely welcomed in Europe. The same is true for refugees coming from Iraq, Syria, Libya, Mali and other conflicts that directly or indirectly involved NATO. This hypocrisy is accentuated when we consider international initiatives that aim to support war refugees, or rebuild the economies of war-torn nations.

Compare the lack of enthusiasm in supporting war-torn nations with the West’s unparalleled euphoria in providing weapons to Ukraine. Sadly, it will not be long before the millions of Ukrainian refugees who have left their country in recent weeks become a burden on Europe, thus subjected to the same kind of mainstream criticism and far-right attacks.

While it is true that the West’s attitude towards Ukraine is different from its attitude towards victims of western interventions, one has to be careful before supposing that the ‘privileged’ Ukrainains will ultimately be better off than the victims of war throughout the Middle East. As the war drags on, Ukraine will continue to suffer, either the direct impact of the war or the collective trauma that will surely follow. The amassing of NATO weapons in Ukraine, as was the case of Libya, will likely backfire. In Libya, NATO’s weapons fueled the country’s decade long civil war.

Ukraine needs peace and security, not perpetual war that is designed to serve the strategic interests of certain countries or military alliances. Though military invasions must be wholly rejected, whether in Iraq or Ukraine, turning Ukraine into another convenient zone of perpetual geopolitical struggle between NATO and Russia is not the answer.

commondreams.org

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

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InterventionismIraqNATOUkraineWar

Gonzalo Lira: News & Views 2022.04.04

APRIL 04, 2022

Imran Khan takes on America

The government in Pakistan has alleged that Sunday’s no-confidence motion to oust Prime Minister Imran Khan from power was masterminded in Washington

April 02 2022

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan rallies his countrymen against a US-backed plot to unseat his democratically elected government.Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Ejaz Akram

After a humiliating defeat in Afghanistan and loss of credibility over Ukraine, the era of US unipolarity seems to be entering its terminal phase, marked by lashing out ferociously in all directions. The most recent of these offensives occurred last week when the government of Pakistan alleged that Washington was trying to engineer regime change in Islamabad.

This time the US was caught red handed. The claim was not made via a leak or a fringe observer, but by the prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, himself. While the US State Department has denied any involvement, the political drama has only just begun.

Emerging from a crucial meeting of Afghanistan’s neighbors, China’s top diplomat took a public whack at Washington’s behavior. Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China will not allow the US to drag smaller nations into conflict and sharply rebuked the ‘US Cold War mentality.’ Beijing is determined not to allow the US to steal Pakistan from its inner circle of vital Asian partners that today include Russia, Iran, Afghanistan, and others.

On Wednesday, when a coalition partner of the governing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) announced its seven members would switch to the opposition, Khan essentially lost his majority in the National Assembly, consisting of 342 parliamentarians. More than a dozen of his party members also threatened to cross the political aisle.

But the Pakistani opposition had mistakenly believed that as soon as they showed their required numerical majority in the parliament, the prime minister would either step down or resign. But that is not what appears to be happening.

Instead, in the next 24 hours, the voting will begin in parliament to count the actual numbers. Many analysts see this as the end of the Khan government in Pakistan; others believe the prime minister’s hold on power will be consolidated and the opposition and their foreign underwriters will suffer a permanent blow.

If the courts entertain the government’s petition to look into the foreign meddling and bribery cases, then Khan may have more time to develop a full court reaction. In just a few days, Khan has already displayed a modest demonstration of his street power. The mood and sentiment across the social media spectrum, as of now, is lopsidedly in favor of the prime minister. Large segments of the public has loudly rallied around him as the spokesman of their aspirations, while opposition party leaders are being characterized as corrupt individuals who want to topple an elected government.

The country’s main opposition parties are the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), both dynastic groups that ruled for decades until Khan came along with his campaign promises to root out the rampant corruption and cronyism that has plagued Pakistani politics for years.

The letter

Millions of Pakistanis poured out to see PM Khan speak on 27 March, when he alleged that “foreign powers are engineering a regime change in Pakistan.” Waving a letter drawn from his coat pocket, Khan threatened to reveal direct, written threats to Pakistan and himself.

Top cabinet members [Minister for Planning, Development, Reforms and Special Initiatives] Asad Umar and [Minister of Information] Fawad Chaudhry held a joint press conference where they revealed further details of this controversial letter. Khan then invited several members of his cabinet, media and the Pakistani security community to view the document first hand.

Government opponents dismissed Khan’s allegations outright, amidst an enormous amount of hubris and posturing soon to follow. Pakistani opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif (an aspirant for the prime minister position) proclaimed that he will jump ship and join Imran Khan if the letter is real and the PM was speaking truthfully. Similarly, prominent anti-establishment TV anchor Saleem Safi said that if the letter were real, he would retire from his position and drop out of media altogether.

But within hours, a mysterious petition was filed in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) with the Chief Justice Islamabad Athar Minallah issuing a legal opinion that Imran Khan may not share this letter in public because of his secrecy oath. Such a swift ruling could not have come from Pakistan’s highest judicial authority about a fake letter, surely?

The next day, the country’s National Security Committee (NSC) convened for a meeting. In attendance were Pakistan’s prime minister, the army chief, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and naval chiefs, the National Security Advisor (NSA), and several other important officials.

Opposition members boycotted the meeting, but participants took a unanimous decision to reprimand the United States for its actions and ensure that Pakistan would not allow US authorities off the hook so easily. Subsequently, the Foreign Office called the acting US ambassador and reprimanded him – none of which could have conceivably been done on the pretext of a false letter.

What’s in the letter?

According to statements made by Khan during the NSC meeting, senior officials from the US State Department (believed to be an Undersecretary of State) sent the letter on 7 March via Asad Majeed Khan, the Pakistani ambassador in Washington.

The document reportedly states that there will be a no-confidence motion (NCM) against the prime minister soon, that Khan should know that it is coming and that he should not resist the NCM but go down with it. If he tries to resist it, the letter allegedly continues, Khan and Pakistan will face horrible consequences.

The letter mentions the NCM about eight times. The next day, on 8 March, a no-confidence vote was indeed announced. According to Khan, he has security agency information on how the illegal buying and selling of votes took place among Pakistan’s parliamentarians during this time. Then, on 9 March, the nation’s military leadership declared itself ‘neutral’ between the opposition parties and the prime minister.

Khan criticized the military for taking a neutral stance, saying a vital institution of the state should not show “neutrality” to those openly and willfully being used as tools of regime change, orchestrated by the adversaries of Pakistan. But after Foreign Minister Shah Qureshi’s return from Beijing, the military now appears to be favoring Khan’s position. It seems that either a phone call or a message must have come directly from Beijing.

Consequences of US involvement

If the foreign meddling case is a priori to the no-confidence motion, then it is possible that Khan will have legal relief and those accused of collaborating, aiding and assisting an external regime-change conspiracy will be indicted. This would include opposition political party members and Pakistani media personalities who have purportedly been traipsing to and from the US embassy in the days, weeks and months preceding the motion – now set for a seat-gripping vote on Sunday. If this can be proven in a court of law, many opposition leaders may end up behind bars.

According to Pakistan’s highest national security office and judging from the IHC notice, it appears clear that the letter was legitimate and the US is guilty of meddling in Pakistan’s internal affairs. But this is not 2001 when former Pakistani president, General Pervez Musharraf, capitulated to the Americans upon receiving a single phone call. Today’s Pakistan has a stronger self-identity after two decades of grueling and unrecognized sacrifices for Washington’s unsuccessful war on terror. Equally, they now also understand that the US is a declining power.

Most Pakistanis do not care about US sanctions any longer, especially as they watch other nations circumvent them with new allies. The public mood and sentiment is to dismiss sanctions threats, recognizing that there will be consequences from the Pakistani side which could lead to the expulsion of American diktats from the Af-Pak-Iran region.

During his 1 April interview on national television (PTV), Imran Khan exhorted the Pakistani nation to reject the alliance of corrupt parties and western-backed media. He believed that the west’s next step will be to take his life. Pakistan’s information minister had said the same only a day earlier.

If Khan didn’t have the ability to rally the street, they could have spared him, but his current popularity and obstinate resistance to US bullying tactics make him a prime target for assassination. Most Pakistanis have long considered the killing of leaders such as Liaquat Ali Khan, Z.A. Bhutto, Zia al Haq and Benazir Bhutto to be the work of US intelligence. To those citizens, any perceived threat to PM Imran Khan’s life is a real and imminent danger. Very rapidly, the security around him has been reshuffled and new measures have been taken to provide him with extra protection.

Khan’s narrative about US interference has gained heavy momentum in the past week. The storyline is one of two sides butting heads at a critical juncture in the country’s history: on one side, an Indo-US alliance, corrupt Pakistani opposition parties, the country’s corporate media, and a handful of western-styled liberals. On the other side, a legally elected, popular and feisty prime minister, supported by the Russo-China alliance and an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis.

With those odds, it may be politically and legally impossible for Pakistan’s military to maintain its ostensible posture of neutrality no matter how much US pressure comes at it. Time may be on Khan’s side.

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

Is Qatar the means for a US comeback in Eurasia?

Energy-rich Qatar’s designation as a major non-NATO ally may upset the Persian Gulf balance, but could be a means for the US to counter a Sino-Russian lockhold on Eurasia.

March 21 2022

Washington’s sudden upgrade of Qatar to a Major Non-NATO Ally is not only about gas, but a means to get a foothold back in Eurasia.Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Agha Hussain

The US’ designation of Qatar as a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) carries more geopolitical significance than is immediately evident. It in fact can be viewed as one of Washington’s first steps toward a new strategy for a US riposte against Russia and China at key theaters in Eurasian great-power competition.

On 31 January, US President Joe Biden hosted the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hammad Al-Thani in Washington and declared Qatar an MNNA. Also discussed was gas-rich Qatar’s potential role in alleviating Europe’s reliance on Russian gas for its energy supply – a key leverage point for Moscow to dissuade European NATO members from confronting it over Ukraine.

It should be noted, however, that Qatar itself has cast doubt over any speculation that it could unilaterally replace the continent’s gas needs in case of a shortage.

Indeed, there is no western military response to current Russian operations in Ukraine. Whether US or European Union (EU), the western strategic calculus does not deem Kiev important enough to rescue from Russia.

Nonetheless, Ukraine is still crucial for the US as a means to help counter Russian influence in vast, resource-rich Eurasia. Namely, through connecting China to Europe via the multimodal Kazakhstan-Azerbaijan (via the Caspian Sea)-Georgia-Ukraine (via the Black Sea) route and thus helping China reduce reliance on its currently most-used land route to Europe, i.e. via Russia and Belarus, a close Russian ally.

Photo Credit: The Cradle

This strategy would give the US a rare opportunity to leverage China’s global economic expansion through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which it usually tries to counter with limited success, to reduce Russia’s geo-economic depth in Eurasia.

However, the aforementioned Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR) is more time-consuming, costly, and closer to conflict areas than Russia-Belarus. And Moscow and Tehran have all but blocked the Caspian Sea as a transit route for pipelines. Moreover, to justify the investment needed to improve Ukraine’s transit capacity and to ensure that traders even use the TITR, the EU needs to sanction Moscow and render the Russia-Belarus route untenable.

Thus, the EU hypothetically replacing Russia with Qatar as its gas supplier, and subsequently becoming more willing to confront Moscow, unlocks a major roadmap for the US to counter Russia.

In this scenario, the EU could enhance and leverage China’s own interest in tilting to the TITR from Russia. According to a 2016 study in the European Council of Foreign Affairs, Ukraine’s harmonization with EU trade standards boosted China’s interest in increasing its Ukrainian food imports, which necessitated enhancing Ukraine’s transport infrastructure since these imports cannot travel to China via the Belarus-Russia route due to Moscow’s sanctions on Kyiv. Indeed, China signed agreements with Ukraine last year to develop the latter’s transport infrastructure.

Afghanistan

The freezing of Afghan central bank assets are burning US bridges with Afghanistan – where the US fought its longest war (2001-21) in its short history. However, the US’ withdrawal from Afghanistan in July 2021 provided an opportunity for Russian and Chinese influence to fill the void. Thus, as the US’ great-power rivalries with Russia and China deepen, the case for rebuilding contacts and connections in Afghanistan will strengthen in Washington.

Afghanistan is central to the US’ goal of building new international transport routes for the Central Asian Republics (CARs) that do not transit through Russia, whose territory and infrastructure the CARs disproportionately rely on. This is an official US objective, as represented by the C5+1 platform and Washington’s official ‘Strategy for Central Asia 2019-25’.  Afghanistan is the transit state for this strategy, to connect the CARs to its own neighbor Pakistan and Pakistani Arabian Sea ports for access to global shipment.

For a proper ‘return’ to Afghanistan as a Eurasia-focused great-power, the US appears to have selected Qatar as its conduit. In this vein, Washington shifted its operational command for Afghanistan to Qatar during the withdrawal and designated Doha its official diplomatic representative in Kabul in November 2021.

Moreover, the US picked Qatar from amongst a broad mix of options for military involvement in post-withdrawal Afghanistan. Such options included negotiating with Pakistan to allow US aircraft to transit its airspace into Afghanistan for combat purposes and even Moscow’s offer, made during the withdrawal, for the US to use Russian bases in Central Asia for intel gathering flights over Afghanistan.

Qatar stood out as the best choice from the US’ great-power perspective. Pakistan’s close regional rapport with China and emphasis on cooperation, made it unlikely to facilitate an inroad for the US. Furthermore, Qatar’s retention of its own diplomatic channels to Afghanistan makes it yet more suitable to the US’ great-power sensitivities.

Qatar hosted US-Taliban peace talks since 2013, years before platforms such as the Moscow-led ‘Extended Troika’ or Beijing’s ‘Quadrilateral Coordination Group’ (QCG) were launched. Doha was not party to either platform, or of other multilateral dialogues on Afghanistan.

Hence, the US can integrate Qatar into its bigger-picture for Afghanistan without making the Gulf state feel as if it is sacrificing its positive bilateral relations with Afghanistan’s other external stakeholders.

Aside from Ukraine and Afghanistan, Washington has another potential front against its Eurasian rivals: Qatar’s home turf in the Persian Gulf region, where common ground exists between Doha’s own ambitions and the US’ containment efforts aimed at China in particular.

The Persian Gulf and China

China and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states are especially important trading partners to each other given the unmatched size of the former’s market for the latters’ energy exports. Beijing also invests heavily in the GCC to turn it into a commercial and logistics hub for the (BRI), the single most consequential driver of Eurasian geoeconomics.

The US views China’s expanding role in the Gulf – whether in the BRI, tech investment or security realms – as a challenge to its own decades-old status as the GCC states’ main security guarantor. How the Sino-GCC embrace pans out is therefore of special interest to Washington.

As noted by Jonathan Fulton, a specialist on Sino-GCC relations, the extent of GCC participation in the BRI is dependent on each Gulf state’s own development plans with BRI. Saudi Arabia and the UAE lead the way in this respect, hosting the bulk of China’s BRI supply chain in the region in the form of industrial parks and ports heavily invested in by Beijing.

In contrast, Chinese-Qatari relations lack this connectivity dimension and are more restricted to just trade.

“In general, Qatar and China maintain a very warm relationship,” noted Gulf affairs analysts Giorgio Cafiero and Anastasia Chisholm in August last year. “The Sino-Qatari partnership is mainly energy-oriented. Beyond the cooperation in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) sector, however, there is much less to Doha’s relationship with Beijing compared to Saudi Arabia or the UAE’s relations with China.”

China has also signed ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnerships’ with the Saudis and Emiratis in contrast to the lower-level ‘Strategic Partnership’ with Qatar.

Since Chinese investments in Qatar do not springboard the BRI the way those in Saudi Arabia and the UAE do, it makes sense for the US to boost Qatar as a hedge against complete Chinese monopoly over the Gulf’s integration with Eurasia via BRI.

The end of the three-and-a-half year, Saudi-led blockade against Qatar has not necessarily led to a halt in Doha’s rivalry with Abu Dhabi and Riyadh. Rather it has grown more central to its foreign policy as it reclaims its place in the GCC without letting its guard down. This is a reality of Gulf affairs that will likely accompany the GCC’s closer integration with the BRI.

Qatar can offset its GCC rivals’ gains from the BRI by increasing its military engagement with the US. Both the Saudis and Emiratis still rely on the security umbrella that complying with the US’ great-power priorities brings yet have also strengthened ties with China.

This dilemma could also turn Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s increasing defence ties with both China and Russia into driving factors of a partisan pro-Qatari slant in the US’ Gulf policy. After all, Qatar has kept its own defence dealings with China and Russia minimal compared to those with the US.

The UAE recently suspended talks with the US to import the latter’s F-35 fighter jets. One of the reasons for this impasse is Emirati resentment at the US tying the deal to Abu Dhabi’s 5g contract with Chinese telecom giant Huawei, which Washington sees as means for China to compromise the Emirati-imported F35s’ technology. Meanwhile, Qatar’s own talks for the F-35s proceed with less complications and are arguably boosted by its MNNA designation.

China does not want its regional investments getting caught up in the intra-GCC competition for primacy in the Gulf, which could happen if the US greenlights the F-35s for Qatar but not for the UAE, thus setting a precedent for deeper rivalry.

After all, intra-GCC competition has increasingly exhibited zero-sum tendencies. This was seen last year when Saudi Arabia told companies doing business in the kingdom that they would lose their government contracts unless they shifted their regional headquarters to Riyadh from Dubai and then also excluded imports from Emirati economic zones from their preferential tariffs.

Such “zero-sumism” is antithetical to what China wants in the Gulf, which is the harmonization of each Gulf state’s trade and connectivity policies. Beijing needs this to synergize its various Gulf investments into serving a broader, unified global strategy as per the BRI.

Thus, the US could use its ascendant ties with Qatar to cause China a significant headache in the Gulf, especially considering how far Beijing stays from contributing to zero-sum rivalries and standoffs due to its neutrality-oriented foreign policy.

Mutual convenience

However it pans out, the emerging US-Qatari alliance in Eurasia is highly convenient to both sides.

At the very least, the US can try to leverage Qatar’s potential energy role in Europe, its diplomatic role in Afghanistan and its ambitious Gulf policies relative to growing Chinese influence there for its own geopolitical interests.

As for Qatar, the fact that these roles do not threaten its bilateral relations with either China or Russia is a major plus point. Neither of the Eurasian great-powers is zero-sum in its foreign relations outlook and is unlikely to deem Qatar’s prospective participation in the US’ Eurasia strategy a major problem.

Eurasia is once again at the forefront of geopolitics and great power rivalries. Following the US exit from Afghanistan last summer, the incumbent superpower, was perceived to be scaling back if not withdrawing from this strategically important region, however in its relationship with Qatar, the US has shown it may be down but not quite out of Eurasia.

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

FM Lavrov presser after talks with FM Hossein Amir-Abdollahian (Iran)

March 16, 2022

https://mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1804343/

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have held talks with my colleague, Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. The talks were held in a traditionally friendly atmosphere and were frank, concrete and useful.

We discussed the further development of our broad and multifaceted bilateral cooperation in accordance with the agreements reached by President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of Iran Ebrahim Raisi during his visit to Moscow on January 19-20, 2022. We are continuing to work on a new, big interstate treaty at Iran’s initiative. We expressed mutual interest in signing this basic document as soon as possible. It will reflect the current state and development prospects of the entire range of Russian-Iranian relations. We reaffirmed the principles of our interaction on the international stage.

We highlighted our trade and economic cooperation and noted the steady growth in our mutual trade despite the illegal sanctions and the pandemic. In 2021, it increased by nearly 82 percent, to more than $4 billion. We agreed to continue working to build up our business ties and enhance their quality, including at the interregional level. We confirmed that no illegal sanctions would hinder our consistent progress.

We had a constructive discussion on current international matters. We have a common stand on the promotion by our Western partners, led by the United States, of the “rules-based order,” which they want to take the place of international law. This rules-based order is the epitome of injustice and double standards, alongside the afore-mentioned illegal unilateral sanctions, which are targeting ordinary people.

We spoke up firmly in favour of making international life more democratic, based on all countries’ strict compliance with the UN Charter and its principles, and on the strengthening of the UN’s central role in international affairs. We decided to continue strengthening our effective cooperation within the framework of the UN, where our positions are traditionally very similar or coincide.

We expressed support for the decision taken at the 21st SCO summit in Dushanbe in September 2021 to launch the procedure to grant the status of full member to Iran. Tehran plays a major role in Eurasia and has been working closely with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation for a long time. This interaction will now be given a new, comprehensive quality.

We facilitate a negotiating process that was launched in November 2021 to conclude a full-scale free trade agreement between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union. We are convinced that the liberalisation of customs tariffs will positively influence the development of Russian-Iranian trade and economic ties.

We held a detailed discussion on the current situation with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding the Iranian nuclear programme. We support the soonest possible resumption of the full implementation of the agreement, which was formalised by UN Security Council Resolution 2231, based on a balance of interests initially stipulated by it. We are expecting the United States to return to the nuclear deal’s legal framework and to cancel the illegal US-imposed sanctions that have a painful effect on Iran, its people and a number of other countries.

We exchanged opinions on the military-political and humanitarian situation in Syria. We expressed our mutual striving to closely coordinate our actions to further attain a lasting peace and improve the humanitarian situation in this country. We agreed to continue to work together for these purposes within the framework of the Astana format, which has proven effective and which includes our Turkish colleagues.yem

We coordinated our positions on other important regional matters, including the situations in the Caspian region, the South Caucasus, Afghanistan and Yemen.

We touched on the situation in Ukraine and around it. We thanked our Iranian colleagues for their objective and well-thought-out position and for understanding Russia’s security concerns, which were caused by the destabilising actions of the United States and its NATO allies. Once again, we noted that our actions are to protect the people of Donbass from the military threat posed by the Kiev regime and to facilitate the demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine in full compliance with the values contained in the UN Charter and within the framework of documents, approved at the top-level.

I believe our talks were very productive. We have agreed to maintain contact on all issues under discussion.

Mr Minister has kindly invited me to pay a reciprocal visit to Tehran. We have accepted the invitation, and will coordinate the dates soon.

I would like to use this opportunity to congratulate our Iranian friends and, in their person, all those celebrating the springtime Nowruz holiday in the approach to this bright event.

Question (translated from Farsi): They say Russia has demanded written guarantees from the United States at the talks in Vienna, so that any sanctions against Moscow would not affect its relations with Tehran. Can this prevent agreements from being reached? Or will the American side’s illogical demands lead to this?

Sergey Lavrov: We have received written guarantees. They are actually included in the text of the agreement on the resumption of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear programme. All projects and areas of activity envisaged by the JCPOA have been protected, including the direct involvement of our companies and specialists, including cooperation on the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, which is a flagship cooperation project, and in the context of all existing plans associated with it. The Americans try to accuse us of slowing the agreement process almost every day. This is a lie. Certain capitals have yet to approve the agreement, but Moscow is not one of them.

Question (translated from Farsi, addressed to Hossein Amir-Abdollahian): Yesterday you spoke on the phone with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmitry Kuleba. He wanted to give you a message for Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. How would you comment on this?

Sergey Lavrov (adds after Hossein Amir-Abdollahian): During our meeting, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian spoke to me about the phone call he had with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister. He conveyed to me Dmitry Kuleba’s wish that we need to “stop the war” as soon as possible. This is exactly what we are doing – we are stopping the war that the Kiev regime has been waging against the population of Donbass for the past eight years or more. This war must stop. Especially now, when once again we can see the true face of the radical nationalists in Kiev. Yesterday, they used Tochka-U systems to fire cluster munitions at the centre of Donetsk killing 20 and injuring even more civilians. All these facts are being hushed up in the West, which continues to whip up hysteria by spreading patent fake news.

We have handed over some materials to our Iranian friends (we are distributing them to all our counterparts). They contain concrete facts to show what the current Ukrainian government is like, what approaches Ukrainian officials (starting with the president) express, and how they treat their obligations under the United Nations Charter, UN resolutions, the OSCE and the Minsk agreements. They signed the Package of Measures and then ignored it with the connivance (or even encouragement) of our Western colleagues.

The negotiations are ongoing on Ukraine’s neutral military status with security guarantees for all participants in this process; Ukraine’s demilitarisation to prevent any threat to the Russian Federation from its territory ever; and the termination of that country’s nazification policy supported by a number of Ukrainian legal acts, including the abolition of all discriminatory restrictions imposed on the Russian language, education, culture and media in Ukraine.

Question: Russia has repeatedly said that there is no alternative to the JCPOA. There are some reports that the United States may suggest a new agreement without Russia’s participation. Does Moscow have any counter proposals?

Sergey Lavrov: This is yet another attempt to lay the blame at the wrong door. We have never made any excessive demands. All our rights in cooperation with Iran on JCPOA projects are reliably protected. If the Americans have not yet made a final decision on resuming the JCPOA, they probably want to shift the blame for this on somebody else. Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said that at this point, the obstacles are being created by the US’s excessive demands.

Question: The nuclear deal could unfreeze Iran’s oil exports. Would this affect Russian oil exports? Is there any mechanism to smooth over such consequences in relations between Moscow and Tehran?

Sergey Lavrov: The nuclear deal is bound to unblock Iran’s oil exports. We enthusiastically supported this important part of the agreement.

As for the impact of Iranian oil on the world market, this will affect all exporting and importing countries. There are mechanisms to prevent volatile surprises. First, there is OPEC+, of which Iran is a member. When new amounts of hydrocarbons appear in the world market, it drafts an agreement on an optimal distribution quota. I am sure that constructive work lies ahead as soon as all issues linked with Iran’s oil on the world market are settled.

Question: Having cited considerable evidence, Russia raised the issue of bio-laboratories in Ukraine. Is the international community interested in this issue? Is it ready to talk about this? Will Moscow return to this issue?

Sergey Lavrov: I would not describe the reaction of the international community as “interest.” The reaction is sooner a negative surprise and wariness. The revealed facts point to the enormous scale of the US’s unlawful activities on spreading its military bio-laboratories all over the world. There are hundreds of them, including almost 30 in Ukraine. Many of them have been established in other former Soviet states right along the perimeter of the borders of Russia, China and other countries.

We will demand that this issue be reviewed in the context of the commitments assumed by all participants in the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction. We will do all we can to force the Americans to stop blocking our proposal from 20 years ago on the need to create a special mechanism for verifying any alarming reports on the appearance of substances that may be used to develop biological weapons. They are against this mechanism because it would make any bioactivity transparent. They do not want transparency because they find it more expedient to do everything under their own control, as they have been doing up until now.

I am convinced that the international community has realised (and will realise again) that such activities are unacceptable and fraught with lethal threats to civilians on a massive scale.

Amir abdollahian: War No Solution to Crises Anywhere in World

 March 12, 2022

The foreign policy of Iran rejects war, without any double standard, in all parts of the world, be it in Ukraine, Yemen or Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir abdollahian said.

In a telephone conversation on Friday, Amir abdollahian and his Polish counterpart Zbigniew Rau discussed the bilateral ties, Vienna negotiations, as well as regional and international developments, including the crisis in Ukraine.

The Iranian top diplomat thanked the Polish government for its efforts to assist the displaced and the refugees in Ukraine, especially in the case of the repatriation of Iranian nationals.

In turn, the Polish foreign minister pointed to the historical background of ties between the two states, especially the Iranian people’s humanitarian move to host Polish refugees in the course of the World War II, describing the relations as a source of pride for both countries.

He said 1,400 Iranians have so far crossed the Ukrainian border into Poland and the country’s authorities have attempted to assist them after the sad events in Ukraine and in order for them to leave Poland with a good memory, the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s website reported.

Amir abdollahian said the existence of a mutually positive mentality between the people of the two countries is important in long-running relations between the two governments.

He also expressed Iran’s readiness to hold a joint ceremony commemorating the 80th anniversary of the hosting of Polish nationals by Iranians at the same time as Poland’s foreign minister visits Tehran.

The Iranian foreign minister referred to the dispatch of a plane carrying humanitarian supplies in cooperation with Iran’s Red Crescent Society and the International Red Cross, expressing Tehran’s readiness to send relief aid to Ukraine’s refugees.

He said Iran’s aid groups are prepared to offer any humanitarian assistance to the refugees in Poland in coordination with the International Red Cross.

Amir abdollahian also reaffirmed Iran’s stance on the need to end the Ukraine crisis via a political solution and said, “Based on the principles of the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy and without any double standards, we do not see war as a solution neither in Ukraine, nor in Yemen, Afghanistan, or anywhere else in the world.”

Rau said it is necessary to set up humanitarian corridors aimed at facilitating the evacuation of women and children as well as the delivery of food and medications to the displaced in Ukraine.

The Polish top diplomat said some international organizations, including the International Red Cross, are making efforts to establish a humanitarian corridor.

Poland has so far hosted 1.5 million refugees from Ukraine, with the figure likely to reach 5 million, he noted, adding that it is thus of vital importance for Ukraine’s neighbors to be provided with international support.

The Polish foreign minister also welcomed the dispatch of an Iranian aid team to Poland to offer help to the refugees in coordination with the Embassy of Iran in Warsaw and the Department of Regional Cooperation at Poland’s Foreign Ministry.

He also expressed hope that the international community would further step up the provision of humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and its neighbors.

Source: Iranian media (edited by Al-Manar English Website)

Nasrallah: In Ukraine, US imperialism threatens world peace

March 06, 2022

Speech by Hezbollah Secretary General, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, on March 1, 2022, devoted to the thoughts of his predecessor, Sayed Abbas Mousawi (assassinated by Israel in 1992).

Source : video.moqawama.org

Transcript: resistancenews.org

Link to video:  https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x88l4ue

Transcript:

[…] Allow me to devote the few minutes I have left to the current situation (in Ukraine), because I cannot avoid talking about it, although I will content myself with a few quick comments for now.

What is happening today in the battle between Russia and Ukraine is of (great) concern to the whole world. It is already clear that the impact and repercussions of these events are far-reaching and dangerous for the world, especially for Russia and Europe. We do not know in which direction the situation will develop nor how far things will go. There are serious fears among some people that this will go further than a Russian-European conflict, that is a Third World War, God forbid. Either way, what is happening is very dangerous, and anything is possible.

Regardless of the stance anyone may take on the battle going on there —some support Russia, some oppose its intervention, some remain neutral, but I am not going to address this issue now—, I want to make an appeal, something many people already did, but I want to add my voice to them: I call on (everyone) to follow (closely) this major international event in its developments as well as in its implications and consequences, and to draw lessons from what is happening every day and every hour. Because the events that are unfolding are full of lessons and teachings on which we, the inhabitants of this region, of this country, can and even must base ourselves, in our struggles and in what is happening at home, both for our present and for our future.

I will only cite a few examples (of the lessons that we must learn). First, one such example that many people talk about—thank goodness a lot of people see clearly—is double standards. Double standards. Russia intervened in Ukraine and carried out a major military operation, a war. And we see how the whole world reacted. Of course, there is a fear that European countries will go to war with Russia, that the United States will go to war with Russia, but apart from directly fighting (Russia), they have done everything they can to do (to punish Russia): blockade, sanctions, whether for the media, the economy, the banks, closure of airspace, straits, seas, ports, sending weapons in Ukraine, opening doors for volunteers from all over the world to go (fight) there, supporting Ukraine, glorifying the so-called “Ukrainian Resistance”… You see how the world is reacting.

Speaking of double standards, when the United States invaded Afghanistan, how did the world react to the Americans? You know the answer. When the United States invaded Iraq, and in truth (completely) destroyed it, killing hundreds of thousands of people, just as they ravaged Afghanistan and killed tens of thousands of people at least, how did the world behave with the United States? And in all the wars started by the United States, which constitute the majority of the wars that have occurred in the world, how has the world reacted? And how does it behave now (against Russia)? How does the world deal with the Israeli enemy, this temporary entity, in the face of its past and present wars against the Palestinians, its wars and its blockade against Gaza, during the recent battle of the “Sword of Al-Quds (in May 2021)? Or in the Israeli wars against Lebanon, the massacres it perpetrated there, the 33-day war in July 2006… How did the world behave? And how is it currently behaving (in the face of Russian intervention in Ukraine)? And what about the war against Yemen, which has been going on for 7 years and is entering its 8th year? Years of bombardments, massacres, destruction, children (killed by the hundreds), epidemics, blockade, famine, etc. How does the world behave in the face of this? This point is clear (double standards).

We must therefore base ourselves on this reality to understand things. We live in a world that only respects the powerful. The United States, because they are powerful, arrogant, hegemonic, holding by the neck many (countries and governments that are enslaved to them), can commit all (kinds of aggression and) injustice without the world protesting. One of the latest acts of oppression by the United States was the seizure of $7 billion from the Afghan central bank on deposit in the United States. With one signature, Biden took half of that money to give it to the victims of the September 11 attacks—while the Afghan people had nothing to do with the attacks in New York, so this decision is totally unjustified—and will decide what to do with the remaining 3.5 billion for Afghanistan. With the stroke of a pen, he stole 3 billion 500 million dollars from the Afghan people who today suffer from hunger, cold and basic needs. Has anyone in the world opened their mouth (to condemn this act)? It’s pure and simple robbery, it couldn’t be more blatant. No one dared to open their mouths! Whereas if it was another State that had done even much less than that, the whole world would have been outraged and turned against it—the world would have stood up against this country, and would not have sat down (anytime soon).

Among the lessons to be learned from these events is to see the fate awaiting those who lay down their weapons, handing them over to others [reference to Ukraine’s 1994 renouncement of its nuclear arsenal inherited from the USSR, and/or the incessant calls to disarm Hezbollah] and relying on guarantees given by such or such country to ensure its security. Then, when war breaks out, all they can do is call for help, asking for arms and support.

But one of the most important lessons to be learned from today’s events is the responsibility of the United States in these events, confirmed by His Excellency Imam Khamenei shortly before my intervention in a televised speech. The responsibility for the current events in Ukraine lies with the United States. The United States instigated and pushed things in this direction, and never worked for a political and diplomatic resolution of this crisis, which is (by no means) a crisis between Russia and Ukraine. It is a crisis between Russia and Europe, between Russia and the United States, between Russia and NATO. The United States did nothing to prevent the situation from coming to this, quite the contrary: they did EVERYTHING to get it there, to push things towards war. And in the end, those who will pay the price are Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, Russia and the Russian people, and Europe if we expand the scope a little, while the United States remain undisturbed far away, observing the situation, inciting, sending arms, preventing (peaceful) resolutions to the conflict and negotiations, setting conditions, making things worse, and pushing the situation in that direction. Everyone will be a loser, but the United States is trying to be the winner in this battle, while the whole world is in (great) danger. The United States instigated and pushed (Ukraine) to this war, but now they are abandoning them, doing nothing more for them than praying: Biden called to pray for Ukraine, he will send some weapons, impose some sanctions, hoping God will provide the rest, and then we’ll see.

It is also a lesson for everyone, especially those who trust the United States, who place their hopes in them, who count on them. We must all know that the current crisis, its difficulties and the dangers it poses to the whole world, it is in the first place the United States which bears the responsibility, (they whom we designate as) the Great Satan. This must be clearly present in our minds and in our stance. […]

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