U.S. Joins Past Empires in Afghan Graveyard

President Biden announced a removal of all U.S. troops by September 11, but he failed to include some important details.

By Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies

Global Research, April 16, 2021

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).

***

An Afghan taxi-driver in Vancouver told one of us a decade ago that this day would come. “We defeated the Persian Empire in the eighteenth century, the British in the nineteenth, the Soviets in the twentieth. Now, with NATO, we’re fighting twenty-eight countries, but we’ll defeat them, too,” said the taxi-driver, surely not a member of the Taliban, but quietly proud of his country’s empire-killing credentials. 

Now, after nearly twenty years of a war that has been as bloody and futile as all those previous invasions and occupations, the last 3,500 U.S. troops and their NATO brothers-in-arms will be coming home from Afghanistan.

President Joe Biden tried to spin this as the United States leaving because it has achieved its objectives, bringing the terrorists responsible for 9/11 to justice and ensuring that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for a future attack on the United States. “We achieved those objectives,” Biden said. “Bin Laden is dead and Al Qaeda is degraded. It’s time to end the forever war.”

What Biden did not admit is that the United States and its allies, with all their money and firepower, were unable to vanquish the Taliban, who currently control about half of Afghanistan and are positioned to control even more in the coming months without a ceasefire. Nor did Biden admit that, in two decades, the United States and its allies have been unable to build up a stable, democratic, popular government or a competent military in the country.

Like the U.S.S.R., the U.S. is leaving in defeat, having squandered the lives of countless Afghans, 2,488 U.S. troops and personnel, and trillions of dollars.

A U.S. withdrawal—especially one not based on conditions on the ground—is, nevertheless, a bold move for Biden. He is going against the advice of the U.S. intelligence community and top Pentagon officials, including the head of the U.S.-Afghan Forces and the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Biden is also coming under attack from Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Senator Mitch McConnell artfully slammed Biden’s decision, accusing him of helping U.S. enemies “ring in the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by gift-wrapping the country and handing it right back to them.” Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the withdrawal “undermines our commitment to the Afghan people, particularly Afghan women.”U.S. Joins “Rules-Based World” on Afghanistan

But while Biden is being pilloried by some for pulling out too soon, the truth is that he is violating a May 1 deadline for U.S. troop withdrawal that was painstakingly negotiated under the Trump Administration.

Ironically, Biden acknowledged in his speech on Wednesday that the withdrawal agreement the United States signed with the Taliban in February 2020 was a solemn commitment, but then he said U.S. forces would begin their withdrawal on May 1 and complete it by September 11, which is not what was agreed to.

After it was clear that the United States was going to break the May 1 withdrawal agreement, Mohammad Naeem, the Taliban spokesperson in Qatar, issued a statement that the Taliban would now not take part in the ten days of U.N.-led peace talks scheduled to begin in Istanbul on April 24, nor would it take part in any further peace negotiations until the last foreign soldiers leave Afghanistan.

This is a reversion to the Taliban’s long-standing position that it would not negotiate with a government backed by foreign occupation forces.

U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad spent years of his life negotiating with the Taliban to arrive at the 2020 withdrawal agreement. Secretary Blinken took a potentially historic step back from U.S. unilateralism when he invited the United Nations to lead a new Afghan peace process. And Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov set the stage for a ceasefire and a peaceful transition of power by bringing the two Afghan warring parties together in Moscow in March, where they agreed to keep talking.

By reneging on the May 1 deadline, President Biden has squandered much of the hard-won goodwill and trust that was painstakingly built up through these diplomatic efforts. It was not impossible to meet the May 1 deadline. The Trump Administration was steadily withdrawing troops, Biden’s transition began in November, and he’s been President since late January.

It is also unclear whether the United States will continue the war by providing airpower for the Afghan military and carrying out covert operations. Throughout these two decades, the United States has dropped more than 80,000 bombs on Afghanistan and waged a secret war with special forces, CIA operatives, mercenaries, and paramilitary units. Ending U.S. airstrikes and covert operations is as vital to peace as withdrawing U.S. troops.

It’s true that a U.S. withdrawal may lead to setbacks in the gains made by Afghan women and girls. But those gains have been mainly in the capital city of Kabul. Two thirds of girls in Afghanistan still receive no primary education, and Afghan women will never achieve significant advances while their country remains at war.

The United States and NATO military presence has made an end to violence impossible for twenty years, as the Taliban have long made clear that they will keep fighting as long as their country is under foreign occupation. And as long as the U.S. continues to prop up a weak, corrupt government in Kabul, instability and political fragmentation is inevitable.

Ending the fighting and investing a small fraction of U.S. war spending in education and health care would do far more to improve the lives of Afghan women and girls.

The United Nations, even with the full support and cooperation of the United States, will have its work cut out to convince the Taliban to rejoin talks. If the U.N. fails to negotiate a lasting ceasefire before the occupation forces withdraw, the U.S. and its NATO allies will be leaving a country still at war with the Taliban, the Afghan government, and various warlords vying for power.

We must hope that, in the coming months, the U.N. will find a way to bring the warring parties in Afghanistan together and craft a ceasefire and a workable peace process based on power sharing. After so many decades of war and intense suffering, much of it perpetrated by the United States and its allies, the Afghan people desperately need—and deserve—an end to this war.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on The Progressive.

Medea Benjamin is co-director of the peace group CODEPINK. Her latest book is Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic.

Nicolas J S Davies is the author of “Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.” He is a researcher for CODEPINK: Women for Peace, and a freelance writer.

Here’s A List Of The US’ Top Failures In Afghanistan

16 APRIL 2021

By Andrew Korybko

Source

Here

The US’ War on Afghanistan spectacularly failed to accomplish anything positive of significance.

US President Biden’s announcement that his country will initiate its full withdrawal from Afghanistan on 1 May and complete it by the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks presents the perfect opportunity to reflect on America’s top failures there over the past two decades:

Topple The Taliban

Not only does the Taliban still control a significant swath of Afghanistan, but it’s poised to return to power through peaceful means via the planned establishment of an inclusive transitional government.

Defeat Terrorism

While Al Qaeda’s reported capabilities to plan international attacks from Afghan soil have successfully been destroyed, the entrance of ISIS to the battlefield from 2014 onward means that such threats still remain.

Build A “Democratic” Afghanistan

Far from being the regional beacon of Western-style “democracy” that America envisioned, modern-day Afghanistan is a cesspool of anti-democratic practices, corruption, and extra-judicial killings.

Support Human Rights

Some women now enjoy broader rights in line with the new socio-political model externally imposed upon parts of the country, but many Afghans have also fallen victim to the occupiers’ vicious human rights abuses.

Extract Rare Earth Minerals

Despite having an estimated $1 trillion of rare earth minerals under its soil, the Western occupation forces have failed to extract these on any large enough scale to make a strategic difference due to Taliban attacks.

Destabilize The Central-South-West Asian Regions

Late US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski’s plans to divide and rule those three regions through externally provoked “Balkanization” processes didn’t succeed due to the targeted states” Hybrid War resilience.

Avoid A Vietnam 2.0 Scenario

The US ignobly repeated the same Vietnam scenario that it hoped to avert by ultimately withdrawing from Afghanistan following a dishonorable defeat at the hands of militarily less sophisticated foes.

———-

All told, the US spectacularly failed to accomplish anything of significance in Afghanistan. None of its objectives, whether stated or speculated, succeeded. The only ones who benefited from this war were the military-industrial complex and especially those within it who stole at least $19 billion in public funds.

Biden Calls the “Killer”

Biden calls the “killer”

Source

THE SAKER • APRIL 13, 2021 

The big news of the day is that Biden decided to call Putin. Here is how the Russians reported this:

At the initiative of the American side, a telephone conversation took place between President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and President of the United States of America Joseph Biden. The current state of Russian-American relations and some relevant aspects of the international agenda were discussed in detail. Joseph Biden confirmed his earlier invitation to the Russian President to take part in the Climate Summit, which will be held via videoconference on April 22-23. Both sides expressed their readiness to continue the dialogue on the most important areas of ensuring global security, which would meet the interests of not only Russia and the United States, but also the entire world community. Moreover, Joseph Biden expressed interest in normalizing the state of affairs on the bilateral track and establishing stable and predictable cooperation on such pressing issues as ensuring strategic stability and arms control, the Iranian nuclear program, the situation in Afghanistan, and global climate change. In this context, the US President proposed to consider the possibility of holding a personal summit meeting in the foreseeable future. During the exchange of views on the internal Ukrainian crisis, Vladimir Putin outlined approaches to a political settlement based on the Minsk Package of Measures. It was agreed to give instructions to the relevant departments to work out the issues raised during the telephone conversation.

This is t he US version:

President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. spoke today with President Vladimir Putin of Russia. They discussed a number of regional and global issues, including the intent of the United States and Russia to pursue a strategic stability dialogue on a range of arms control and emerging security issues, building on the extension of the New START Treaty. President Biden also made clear that the United States will act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to Russia’s actions, such as cyber intrusions and election interference. President Biden emphasized the United States’ unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The President voiced our concerns over the sudden Russian military build-up in occupied Crimea and on Ukraine’s borders, and called on Russia to de-escalate tensions. President Biden reaffirmed his goal of building a stable and predictable relationship with Russia consistent with U.S. interests, and proposed a summit meeting in a third country in the coming months to discuss the full range of issues facing the United States and Russia.

Why the difference in tone? Because the Russians don’t believe in loud statements before a negotiation and, unlike “Biden”, they are not insecure in their legitimacy (both the legitimacy of their policies and the legitimacy of their government). As for Biden, he just produces the exact same type of hot air which the Trump administration became so infamous for. I can tell you what most Russians think when they hear this. They think: “sure looks to me like the old man is desperately trying to encourage himself!”. I totally concur.

This being said, there is also some very premature triumphalism in Russia. A lot of “hurray patriots” are saying “Biden caved in first”. Their arguments go something like this:

According to Defense Minister Shoigu, the US/NATO have about 40,000 soldiers along the Russian border (ostensibly as an exercise) and about 15,000 weapons systems. In response to that threat, Russia deployed 2 Armies and 3 Airborne Divisions along her western border. That is something of the size of 200,000 soldiers. The US Americans saw this and understood that the Russian “fist” could smash them. This is why Biden caved in.

Well, I am not at all so sure that “Biden” caved in or “blinked first”. Why?

  1. “In the coming months” is too late to defuse the current risks of war. They might meet in the upcoming climate conference on April 22-23. But that is the wrong format.
  2. The first rule of military analysis is “don’t look at intentions, but look at capabilities”. This is even more true for “declared intentions”. And what are we reading into “Biden’s” supposed intentions? “Pursue a strategic security dialog” is the best I can find, and I am really not impressed.
  3. Let’s assume that they meet before a full-scale war breaks out, and so what? Did Trump not meet with Kim Jong-un – did that do any good?

Last Sunday, Margarita Simonian, the head of Russia Today, said something very interesting on a Russian TV show (I paraphrase and summarize here):

We will never be able to reach a real agreement (to coexist) with the USA. Why? This is a country built on violence from Day 1. This is a country stuck with several ideological doctrines, including the Doctrine of Discovery to the Doctrine of Manifest Destiny. All these doctrines say the same thing: “we have the right to do whatever we want and we have the right to rule over everybody else. This land was ours, but those Indian SOBs had the arrogance to live there. So we will massacre them all and then create a beautiful feast when we will celebrate that they taught us what to eat (Thanksgiving Day). This was true not only in the 17th century. I remind you of the year 1831 when we already had the Decembrist revolt while the USA was engaged in a massive ethnic cleansing operation (the Trail of Tears) under the personal supervision of

President Andrew Jackson (a Democrat, by the way!) who deported 5 Indian tribes which were settled, had their own schools and many were Christianized. He deported them to Oklahoma using methods which resulted in thousands of deaths (one tribe lost ¼ of her people. My family was deported by Stalin (we were Armenians) and I can tell you that the methods used by Stalin during his deportations were a “gentle ballet” compared to what the “democractic United States” did.

We will never reach an agreement with them because we cannot agree to collapse. We will never reach an agreement with them because we cannot agree to become paupers. We will never reach an agreement with them because we cannot agree to give up our nuclear weapons. We will never reach an agreement with them because we cannot agree to forsake all our national interests and we cannot agree to only do that which they tell us to do (including to the detriment of our own interests). We will never reach an agreement with them because we will never agree to forget our history and we won’t agree to have our next generations consider themselves as a totally different nation. We will never reach an agreement with them because we will never agree to any of that, and they will never accept anything less! (emphasis added).

Frankly, I can only agree. From the First Crusade on, the core value and even identity of the political West (in its various manifestations) has always been imperialism. This is true of the Latin Papacy as much as it is true about Hitler’s National Socialism, and it is still true for today’s main ideology of the United States. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun. We can call these various manifestations of the united messianic West by many names (today I call it “Zone A”), but this changes nothing to its essence, nature and behavior: the pretextes (ideologies) change, the policies stay the same.

This is why I have been saying that Russia and the AngloZionist Empire are locked in an existential war from which only one party will walk away and the other one will be either destroyed (Russia by the USA) or profoundly change (due to the internal dialectical contradictions of capitalism and the unsustainable nature of the US society today).

And don’t assume that it is “only” Simonian who is “seeing the light”. The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Riabkov, made the following statement about the USA:

“They talk about a high price, but they never mention it. What they have done so far, we have, firstly, studied well, and secondly, we have adapted. We do not believe that such terminology is generally applicable: price, payment, and so on. We simply defend our interests and the interests of our citizens, the Russian-speaking population, and we will continue to protect them”. “The question is what conclusions are drawn from this situation in Kiev and from Kiev’s patrons. These conclusions do not set up a positive mood, these threats only strengthen us in the belief that we are on the right course: the United States is our enemy, doing everything to undermine Russia’s position in the international arena, we do not see other elements in their approach to us. These are our conclusions”.

Pretty clear, no?

Years, even decades, of non-stop US threats against Russia have (finally!) achieved their full effect: the illusions which many Russians had for centuries about their western neighbors have almost completely disappeared from the Russian society and the Russian consciousness. What is left is a firm determination to survive, to live, to do whatever it takes to prevent the Empire from “assimilating” Russia.

Russians now also clearly see another truism of western policies. I would express it as so: it really does not matter whom Russia fights – it maybe even be Satan in person (and in many ways it is, let those with ears…), the West will always, always side with our enemy, even if it is Satan in person (again, let those with ears…). Let me just give you one example which says it all:

The USA claims that it was al-Qaeda which did 9/11. Fine. A high-school physics can prove the opposite, but fine. Yet that self-same USA totally backed “al-Qaeda” (all the various denominations and aliases included) in both Chechnia and Syria (and in Serbia too, I would add). And they are still at it.

Another example? Sure.

The West always supported the worst, most violent, rulers in Russia. Conversely, the very best rulers in Russian history are vilified, slandered and despised in the West, and they are, of course, described as obscurantist tyrants, even when compared to the western leaders of the same time period they look like saints (which some of them literally are!).

Want to try one more? Okay.

Let’s look at religion. In the history of relations between Russia and the West, we see something interesting: it does not matter which branch of western Christianity (Latin or Reformed) is in power, the rulers of the West will always side against their putative “Christian brothers”, even if that means siding with non-Christians! Not much has changed between the 15th century, the Crimean War and today: the West always created an ad-hoc “ecumenical coalition” to try to finally conquer Russia.

The bottom line is this: Simonian is 100% correct. The West’s “program for Russia” has not changed and it remains the same: Russia must vanish. Nothing else is acceptable for our western neighbors.

So where do we go from here?

Frankly, I don’t know. I don’t think anybody does. But I can express my hopes.

I hope that the current Russian stance (we are willing to take on the combined might of the USA+NATO+EU and “why would we want a world without Russia?”) to overcome the West’s delusional narcissism (We are almighty! Nobody can stop us! We will crush you!) and get enough folks back in touch with the “real reality” (as many were during the Cold War). Next, I really hope that the Empire will not unleash the Ukronazis in the Donbass (yes, hope dies last, and I have to admit that I currently don’t see how the Ukies could deescalate). I hope that the people of the EU will liberate themselves from their current colonial status, and that they will regain at least a modicum of real sovereignty. Lastly, I hope that the US society will defeat the Woke-freaks currently in power and that the USA will become a powerful, but normal, country (like so many empires have done it before). The slogan “we want our country back” has my total sympathy. But that is a lot of hope, I know.

Now for a pessimistic shot of realism.

First, Biden, the man, not the collective “Biden”, is in no shape to negotiate with anybody. Neither is his Harris. At best, he can do what microbrains like John Kerry or Josep Borrell did: meet with their counterparts, declare A, then fly back home and immediately proclaim non-A.

Tell me – why would the Russian be interested in this kind of silly circus?

What about the collective “Biden” then? Well, Blinken is definitely smarter that this arrogant imbecile Pompeo, but he sure hates Russia no less. Is that an improvement? Maybe.

I am afraid that this proposed meeting will never happen, I think that the White House sees this as a subtle ruse to try to lower the Russian defenses (both military and political). Won’t happen. It is too late for that.

Could it be that “Biden” is throwing in the towel and seeking some kind of arrangement with Russia. Never say never, but I find this exceedingly unlikely. Why? Because of the centuries long ideological messianic narcissism and sense of impunity of the US rulers: they simply cannot fathom that their “city upon the hill” has been placed in a kind of a “mate in three” situation by a horde of vodka guzzling asian barbarians (just like they can’t fathom how those evil “Commie Chinks” have built an economy vastly superior to theirs).

A famous leader of the “united West” also had a hard time accepting that he, and his putatively “invincible armies”, had been comprehensively defeated by Russian subhumans. Even while he could hear the sound of Soviet cannons in his underground bunker.

Truly, some things never change.

’Every Year We Dig Mass Graves’: The Slaughter of Pakistan’s Hazara

5/4/2021

’Every Year We Dig Mass Graves’: The Slaughter of Pakistan’s Hazara

By Shah Meer Baloch – The Guardian

Ahmed Shah had always dreamed of bigger things. Though just 17, the high school pupil had taken a job in the coalmines of Balochistan, Pakistan’s south-western province, one of the harshest, most dangerous working environments in the world. Shah was determined to earn enough to educate himself, so he could escape the tough life of the Hazara Shia community, the most persecuted minority in Pakistan.

But Shah never saw a brighter future. He was among 10 miners who were resting in their mud hut near the mines in the small Balochistan town of Mach when armed militants burst in. A gruesome video from the scene shows the young men blindfolded, with their hands tied behind their backs. A security official said their throats had been slit. Daesh [the Arabic acronym for terrorist ‘ISIS/ISIL’ group] claimed responsibility for the massacre.

The prime minister, Imran Khan, called it an “inhumane act of terrorism”, but for the Hazara, minority Shia Muslims who have been targeted for three decades in Pakistan by extremists among the majority Sunni Muslims who view them as heretics, this was not enough.

Shah’s mother, Amina, was on her rounds as a healthcare worker in the nearby provincial capital of Quetta when she heard about the massacre.

“I wanted to see my son one last time, but I was told that I would not be able to bear that,” says Amina. “The killers were not humans. They killed them so brutally.”

The Hazara community, after decades of injustice and neglect by the state, were driven to act, and in a protest unlike anything seen before in Pakistan, the families of the 10 men brought the dead bodies out on to the streets, and sat beside them, in the freezing cold, to demand protection and justice.

For a full week, they did not move, stating they would not bury the bodies until the prime minister listened to their demands.

In response, Khan accused them of trying to “blackmail” him, and said he would not visit until the bodies were buried.

Ahmed Shah was one of four from his family to die in the Mach massacre. So too did his cousin Sadiq, the sole breadwinner for his wife, children and six sisters.

Sadiq, a father of two daughters, had had breakfast with his wife before dawn at his home in Quetta before leaving for Mach. One sister, Masooma Yaqoob Ali, saw the news of the Hazara miners on Facebook and stumbled upon the picture of her brother’s blindfolded body.

“These monsters have not only killed 10 people, they have killed 10 families,” she says. “It has been two decades that we are being mercilessly killed but no one has been arrested yet.”

The Hazara Shia have been targeted over many years by Sunni extremists, such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahaba and now Daesh. According to a 2019 report by Pakistan’s National Commission for Human Rights, an independent watchdog, at least 509 Hazara have been murdered for their faith since 2013. The non-profit Human Rights Commission of Pakistan says that from 2009 to 2014, nearly 1,000 Hazaras died in sectarian violence. Thousands have been injured.

To curb attacks on the 600,000 Hazaras living in the towns of Mariabad and Hazara Town in Quetta, authorities have built military checkpoints, roadblocks and walls around the areas.

In 2014, the international organization Human Rights Watch published a 62-page report on the persecution of Hazara Shia in Balochistan entitled “We are the walking dead.”

“We are living in two prisons. Our men and young can’t go outside. If they go, they will be killed. Our graveyards are full of young men with barely any space left,” says Ali. “We are tired of carrying their coffins. Every year we dig mass graves. Yet Prime Minister Imran Khan says we are blackmailers. Khan is heartless.”

The majority of Hazara in Quetta originally came from Afghanistan and Iran to seek work in Pakistan, with many ending up in the mines of Balochistan.

For 15 years, Chaman Ali, another of the Mach victims, would travel from Afghanistan to Quetta every winter to work in the coalmines.

“I would be worried for his life when he was here and when he went to Afghanistan. I would think ‘what if he gets into the hands of the Taliban?’ I thought he was safe here, but this is where he got killed,” his sister Zara says.

Chaman Ali is survived by his wife and eight children, the youngest just three months old. Aziz and Nasim, from the Daykundi province of Afghanistan, came with Chaman Ali to work in the mines for the first time. They were also murdered.

Nasim, 22, started work to fund his education and had arrived in Pakistan just a week before he was killed. “Afghanistan is in a very bad situation and we think that something is better than nothing, which is why we come to Pakistan just to make a living,” says Abdul Rahim, Nasim’s father. Along with other members of his family, he could not get to his son’s funeral from Afghanistan, when the security forces closed routes out of the villages across Pakistan’s porous border.

Victims of the Mach massacre were all eventually buried in a mass grave at Hazara Town, on the outskirts of Quetta. The Hazara community is running out of space to bury their dead. The graveyard is full of photographs of Hazara Shia men, women and children, many of them murdered.

Having Mongolian ancestors, many Hazara are identifiable by their distinctive appearance, and it is along the single road that leads to Mari Abad and Hazara Town that thousands have been attacked by extremist groups.

“Our generation has grown up in a cage. We make houses on the mountain and are afraid of going out to see other parts of Quetta,” says Arif Hussain Nasry, 21, founder of the Future is Young campaign. “We are even afraid to gather with Hazara from other nations and communities. We have to live to survive in these two ghettoes.”

But for Naseem Javed, an author and political activist, the attacks on the Hazara are not just about sectarianism. “I don’t think Hazara are being targeted just because of their faith,” he says. “They also are being targeted to divert the attention from the Baloch separatist movement.”

Balochistan, the most impoverished province of Pakistan and wedged between Iran and Afghanistan, has a separatist movement that has been active in the province for the past 20 years. “The region also has become a hub for international proxies, including the Taliban,” Javed adds.

Javed shows the pistol he keeps close to him in his shop, where he sells prayer mats and prayer beads. “We live under shadows of weapons and fear. None of us has a normal life. We are being slaughtered. If the security establishment has no role in this genocide, why have they not arrested any attacker?”

For many Hazara people the solution is simply to leave. Amjad Ali, 21, has made three attempts to leave Balochistan for a new life in Europe. He was first deported from Turkey and handed over to Iran, from where he was sent back to Pakistan. The second time he was deported from Iran.

During his third attempt to reach Europe, with 25 other Hazara Shia, Ali was caught a few miles from the border by Jaish ul-Adl, another Sunni militant group that operates mainly in south-eastern Iran. Pretending to be Iranian security forces, the jihadist group took Ali and others to a mountain camp in Pakistan, close to the Iranian border.

“They were very well updated and informed. As soon as we reached their camp they shot four Hazaras with Kalashnikovs. Two of them used to work in the Pakistan army. Two, as Jaish ul-Adl claimed, were going to be part of the Zainebiyoun brigade, an Iranian-backed militant force [fighting in Syria],” Ali told the Guardian.

The rest were held and their families sent random demands. Ali spent 55 days in the camp before his family members managed to raise thousands of dollars in ransom money for his release.

“If I get a chance now to go to Europe, I will try again,” says Ali. “There is no life for Hazara Shia in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

How Eurasia will be interconnected

How Eurasia will be interconnected

April 04, 2021

by Pepe Escobar posted with permission and first posted at Asia Times

The extraordinary confluence between the signing of the Iran-China strategic partnership deal and the Ever Given saga in the Suez Canal is bound to spawn a renewed drive to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and all interconnected corridors of Eurasia integration.

This is the most important geo-economic development in Southwest Asia in ages – even more crucial than the geopolitical and military support to Damascus by Russia since 2015.

Multiple overland railway corridors across Eurasia featuring cargo trains crammed with freight – the most iconic of which is arguably Chongqin-Duisburg – are a key plank of BRI. In a few years, this will all be conducted on high-speed rail.

The key overland corridor is Xinjiang-Kazakhstan – and then onwards to Russia and beyond; the other one traverses Central Asia and Iran, all the way to Turkey, the Balkans, and Eastern Europe. It may take time – in terms of volume – to compete with maritime routes, but the substantial reduction in shipping time is already propelling a massive cargo surge.

The Iran-China strategic connection is bound to accelerate all interconnected corridors leading to and crisscrossing Southwest Asia.

Crucially, multiple BRI trade connectivity corridors are directly linked to establishing alternative routes to oil and gas transit, controlled or “supervised” by the Hegemon since 1945: Suez, Malacca, Hormuz, Bab al Mandeb.

Informal conversations with Persian Gulf traders have revealed huge skepticism about the foremost reason for the Ever Given saga. Merchant marine pilots agree that winds in a desert storm were not enough to harass a state of the art mega-container ship equipped with very complex navigation systems. The pilot error scenario – induced or not – is being seriously considered.

Then there’s the predominant shoptalk: stalled Ever Given was Japanese owned, leased from Taiwan, UK-insured, with an all-Indian crew, transporting Chinese merchandise to Europe. No wonder cynics, addressing the whole episode, are asking, Cui Bono?

Persian Gulf traders, in hush hush mode, also drop hints about the project for Haifa to eventually become the main port in the region, in close cooperation with the Emirates via a railway to be built between Jabal Ali in Dubai to Haifa, bypassing Suez.

Back to facts on the ground, the most interesting short-term development is how Iran’s oil and gas may be shipped to Xinjiang via the Caspian Sea and Kazakhstan – using a to-be-built Trans-Caspian pipeline.

That falls right into classic BRI territory. Actually more than that, because Kazakhstan is a partner not only of BRI but also the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU).

From Beijing’s point of view, Iran is also absolutely essential for the development of a land corridor from the Persian Gulf to the Black Sea and further to Europe via the Danube.

It’s obviously no accident that the Hegemon is on high alert in all points of this trade corridor. “Maximum pressure” sanctions and hybrid war against Iran; an attempt to manipulate the Armenia-Azerbaijan war; the post-color revolution environment in both Georgia and Ukraine – which border the Black Sea; NATO’s overarching shadow over the Balkans; it’s all part of the plot.

Now get me some Lapis Lazuli

Another fascinating chapter of Iran-China concerns Afghanistan. According to Tehran sources, part of the strategic agreement deals with Iran’s area of influence in Afghanistan and the evolution of still another connectivity corridor all the way to Xinjiang.

And here we go back to the always intriguing

Lapis Lazuli corridor – which was conceptualized in 2012, initially for increased connectivity between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.

Lapis Lazuli, wonderfully evocative, harks back to the export of an array of semiprecious stones via the Ancient Silk Roads to the Caucasus, Russia, the Balkans and North Africa.

Now the Afghan government sees the ambitious 21st century remix as departing from Herat (a key area of Persian influence), continuing to the Caspian Sea port of Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan, via a Trans-Caspian pipeline to Baku, onwards to Tblisi and the Georgian ports of Poti and Batumi in the Black Sea, and finally connected to Kars and Istanbul.

This is really serious business; a drive that may potentially link the

Eastern Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean.

Since Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan signed the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea in 2018, in the Kazakh port of Aktau, what’s interesting is that their major issues are now discussed at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), where Russia and Kazakhstan are full members; Iran will soon be; Azerbaijan is a dialogue partner; and Turkmenistan is a permanent guest.

One of the key connectivity problems to be addressed is the viability of building a canal from the Caspian Sea to Iran’s shores in the Persian Gulf. That would cost at least US$7 billion. Another issue is the imperative transition towards container cargo transport in the Caspian. In SCO terms, that will increase Russian trade with India via Iran as well as offering an extra corridor for China trade with Europe.

With Azerbaijan prevailing over Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh flare up, while finally sealing a deal with Turkmenistan over their respective status in the Caspian Sea, impetus for the western part of Lapis Lazuli is now in the cards.

The eastern part is a much more complicated affair, involving an absolutely crucial issue now on the table not only for Beijing but for the SCO: the integration of Afghanistan to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

In late 2020, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan agreed to build what analyst Andrew Korybko delightfully described as the PAKAFUZ railwayPAKAFUZ will be a key step to expand CPEC to Central Asia, via Afghanistan. Russia is more than interested.

This can become a classic case of the evolving BRI-EAEU melting pot. Crunch time – serious decisions included – will happen this summer, when Uzbekistan plans to host a conference called “Central and South Asia: Regional Interconnectedness. Challenges and Opportunities”.

So everything will be proceeding interconnected: a Trans-Caspian link; the expansion of CPEC; Af-Pak connected to Central Asia; an extra Pakistan-Iran corridor (via Balochistan, including the finally possible conclusion of the IP gas pipeline) all the way to Azerbaijan and Turkey; China deeply involved in all these projects.

Beijing will be building roads and pipelines in Iran, including one to ship Iranian natural gas to Turkey. Iran-China, in terms of projected investment, is nearly ten times more ambitious than CPEC. Call it CIEC (China-Iran Economic Corridor).

In a nutshell: the Chinese and Persian civilization-states are on the road to emulate the very close relationship they enjoyed during the Silk Road-era Yuan dynasty in the 13th century.

INSTC or bust

An extra piece of the puzzle concerns how the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) will mix with BRI and the EAEU. Crucially, INSTC also happens to be an alternative to Suez.

Iran, Russia and India have been discussing the intricacies of this 7,200 km-long ship/rail/road trade corridor since 2002. INSTC technically starts in Mumbai and goes all the way via the Indian Ocean to Iran, the Caspian Sea, and then to Moscow. As a measure of its appeal, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Oman, and Syria are all INSTC members.

Much to the delight of Indian analysts, INSTC reduces transit time from West India to Western Russia from 40 to 20 days, while cutting costs by as much as 60%. It’s already operational – but not as a continuous, free flow sea and rail link.

New Delhi already spent $500 million on a crucial project: the expansion of Chabahar port in Iran, which was supposed to become its entry point for a made in India Silk Road to Afghanistan and onward to Central Asia. But then it all got derailed by New Delhi’s flirting with the losing Quad proposition.

India also invested $1.6 billion in a railway between Zahedan, the key city in southeast Iran, and the Hajigak iron/steel mining in central Afghanistan. This all falls into a possible Iran-India free trade agreement which is being negotiated since 2019 (for the moment, on stand-by). Iran and Russia already clinched a similar agreement. And India wants the same with the EAEU as a whole.

Following the Iran-China strategic partnership, chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Mojtaba Zonnour, has already hinted that the next step should be an

Iran-Russia strategic cooperation deal, privileging “rail services, roads, refineries, petrochemicals, automobiles, oil, gas, environment and knowledge-based companies”.

What Moscow is already seriously considering is to build a canal between the Caspian and the Sea of Azov, north of the Black Sea. Meanwhile, the already built Caspian port of Lagan is a certified game-changer.

Lagan directly connects with multiple BRI nodes. There’s rail connectivity to the Trans-Siberian all the way to China. Across the Caspian, connectivity includes Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan and Baku in Azerbaijan, which is the starting point of the BTK railway through to the Black Sea and then all the way from Turkey to Europe.

On the Iranian stretch of the Caspian, Amirabad port links to the INSTC, Chabahar port and further on to India. It’s not an accident that several Iranian companies, as well China’s Poly Group and China Energy Engineering Group International want to invest in Lagan.

What we see in play here is Iran at the center of a maze progressively interconnected with Russia, China and Central Asia. When the Caspian Sea is finally linked to international waters, we will see a de facto alternative trade/transport corridor to Suez.

Post-Iran-China, it’s not far-fetched anymore to even consider the possible emergence in a not too distant future of a Himalaya Silk Road uniting BRICS members China and India (think, for instance, of the power of Himalayan ice converging into a shared Hydropower Tunnel).

As it stands, Russia is very much focused on limitless possibilities in Southwest Asia, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made it clear in the 10th Middle East conference at the Valdai club. The Hegemon’s treats on multiple fronts – Ukraine, Belarus, Syria, Nord Stream 2 – pale in comparison.

The new architecture of 21st century geopolitics is already taking shape, with China providing multiple trade corridors for non-stop economic development while Russia is the reliable provider of energy and security goods, as well as the conceptualizer of a Greater Eurasia home, with “strategic partnership” Sino/Russian diplomacy playing the very long game.

Southwest Asia and Greater Eurasia have already seen which way the (desert) winds are blowing. And soon will the masters of international capital. Russia, China, Iran, India, Central Asia, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Korean Peninsula, everyone will experience a capital surge – financial vultures included. Following the Greed is Good gospel, Eurasia is about to become the ultimate Greed frontier.

The Endless War: Afghanistan Goes On and On

APRIL 02 ,2021

By Philip Giraldi

Source

All indications are that the Pentagon will be able to maneuver more effectively in Washington than on the battlefield.

Given the present atmosphere in Washington in which there is no lie so outrageous as to keep it out of the mainstream media, a great deal of policy making takes place without even key players in the government knowing what is going on behind their backs. Of course, there is a long tradition of government lying in general but most politicians and officials have probably convinced themselves that they are avoiding the truth because complicating issues might lead to endless debate where nothing ever gets done. There may be some truth to that, but it is a self-serving notion at best.

The real damage comes when governments lie in order to start or continue a war. The Administration of George W. Bush did just that when it lied about Iraq’s secular leader Saddam Hussein seeking nuclear weapons, supporting terrorists and developing delivery systems that would enable Iraq to attack the U.S. with the nukes. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice knew she was not telling the truth when she warned that “the problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” She also was a key player in the Bush team approval of the CIA’s use of torture on captured al-Qaeda.

Rice is, by the way, not in jail and is currently a highly esteemed elder statesman serving as Director of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Likewise for her friend and patron Madeleine Albright who famously declared that the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children due to U.S. imposed sanctions were worth it. In the United States the only ones who are ever punished are those who expose the crimes being committed by the government, to include a number of whistleblowers and journalists like Julian Assange.

The active American military role in lying probably started at Valley Forge but it came into prominence with the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, which was an alleged attack by the North Vietnamese on U.S. Navy ships that led to an escalation in Washington’s direct role in what was to become the Vietnam War, which produced 58,000 American dead as well as an estimated three million Vietnamese. No one was punished for faking the casus belli and today Vietnam is a communist state in spite of the martial valor of the U.S. Army.  Overall commander of US forces in Vietnam General William Westmoreland, who died in 2005, repeatedly advised the media and the White House that the American military was “winning” and there would be victory in six more months. General Westmoreland knew he was lying, as the Pentagon Papers subsequently revealed, and he also proved reluctant to share his plans with the White House. He even developed a contingency plan to use nuclear weapons in Vietnam without informing the president and Secretary of Defense.

Prize winning investigative reporter Gareth Porter has written an article “Trump Administration Insider Reveals How US Military Sabotaged Peace Agreement to Prolong Afghan War” that describes how the brass in the Pentagon currently are able to manipulate the bureaucracy in such a way as to circumvent policy coming out of the country’s civilian leadership. The article is based in part on an interview with retired Colonel Douglas Macgregor, a decorated combat arms officer who served as an acting senior adviser to the Secretary of Defense during the last months of Donald Trump’s time in office.  He would have likely been confirmed in his position if Trump had won reelection.

Porter describes the negotiations between the Taliban and Trump’s Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, which began in late 2018 and culminated in a peace agreement that was more-or-less agreed to by both sides in February 2019. The Pentagon, fearing that the war would be ending, quickly moved to sabotage a series of confidence building measures that included disengagement and cease fires. In short, US commanders supported by the Pentagon leadership under Secretary of Defense Mike Esper as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continued to attack Taliban positions in spite of the agreements worked out by the diplomats, blaming all incidents on the Taliban. They also used their “perception management” media contacts to float fabricated stories about Taliban activity, which included the false account of Russians paying Taliban fighters bounties for every American they could kill.

After the 2020 election, which Donald Trump appeared to have lost, Esper, Central Command chief General Kenneth McKenzie and the senior field commander General Scott Miller took the offensive against any withdrawal by sending a memo to the president warning that no troops should be removed from the country until “certain conditions” had been met. An enraged Trump, who believed that the disengagement from Afghanistan was the right thing to do, then used his authority to order a withdrawal of all US troops by the end of the year. He also fired Esper, replacing him with Christopher Miller as SecDef and brought in Macgregor, who had openly expressed his belief that the war in Afghanistan should be ended immediately as well as the wars in the Middle East.

Macgregor and Miller reasoned that the only way to remove the remaining troops from Afghanistan by year’s end would be to do so by presidential order. Macgregor prepared the document and President Trump signed it immediately. On the next day November 12th, however, Colonel Macgregor learned that Trump had subsequently met with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley, national security adviser Robert O’Brien and Acting Secretary Miller. Trump and Miller were told by Milley and O’Brien that the orders he placed in the memorandum could not be executed because a withdrawal would lead to a surge in violence and would damage chances for an eventual peace settlement. Trump was also told that an ongoing US presence in Afghanistan had “bipartisan support,” possibly a warning that he might be overruled by Congress if he sought to proceed. Trump later agreed to withdraw only half of the total, 2,500 troops, a number that has continued to remain in place under President Joe Biden. A current agreement has the US withdrawing those last soldiers, together with allied NATO troops, by May 1st but it is under attack from Congress, think tanks, the mainstream media and the military leadership for the same reasons that have been cited for staying in Afghanistan over the past twenty years and predictably Biden has folded. Last week he announced that some American soldiers will remain in country to maintain stability after the deadline.

The story of Trump and Afghanistan is similar to what took place with Syria, where plans to withdraw were regularly reversed due to adroit maneuvering by the Pentagon and its allies. It remains to be seen what Joe Biden will do ultimately as he is being confronted by the same forces that compelled Trump to beat a retreat. The more serious issue is, of course, that the United States of America portrays itself as a nation that engages only in “just wars” and which has a military that is under control and responsive to an elected and accountable civilian government. As Afghanistan and Syria demonstrate, those conceits have been unsustainable since the US went on a global dominance spree when it launched its War on Terror in 2001. All indications are that the Pentagon will be able to maneuver more effectively in Washington than on the battlefield. It will continue to have its pointless wars, and its bloated “defense” budgets.

«اتفاقيّة التعاون الاستراتيجيّ الصينيّ الإيرانيّ» ثورة في العلاقات الدوليّة…The Sino-Iranian Strategic Cooperation Agreement” A revolution in international relations


**English Machine translation Please scroll down for the Arabic original version **

اتفاقيّة التعاون الاستراتيجيّ الصينيّ الإيرانيّ» ثورة في العلاقات الدوليّة

العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط*

أفضت الحرب العالمية الثانية إلى قيام عصبة الدول المنتصرة في الحرب التي تولّت قيادة العالم وتحكّمت بمساراته وقضاياه صغيرها وكبيرها، ورغم قيام النظام العالمي يومها على الثنائية القطبية بين حلفين أطلسي تتزعّمه أميركا وشيوعي يقوده الاتحاد السوفياتي، فقد كانت الأرجحيّة واضحة لصالح الحلف الأول على حساب الحلف الثاني الذي كان الاقتصاد موطن الوهن والضعف الرئيسيّ فيه بعكس الحلف الأول المتمتع بخيرات ذاتية ومغتصبة بحجم أضعاف ما يحتاج، أما الصين خاصة بعد نجاح ثورتها في العام 1949 في بناء الدولة التي يقودها الحزب الشيوعي فقد كانت محاصَرة إلى حدّ التضييق والتهميش في كثير من النواحي. أما إيران قبل ثورتها الإسلامية ونجاحها في العام 1979 في بناء دولة السيادة والاستقلال، فقد كانت شرطي الخليج لصالح الحلف الأول في مواجهة أيّ تحرك إقليمي أو دولي يهدّد مصالحه.

انطلاقاً من هذا الواقع عملت كلّ من الصين وإيران وفقاً لاستراتيجية تناسبها للنمو، وكان الاقتصاد لدى الطرفين بؤرة الاهتمام الرئيسيّ مع اهتمام بالشأن العسكري متفاوت السقوف بين الدولتين للدفاع عن النفس وحماية المرافق الاقتصادية. أما ردّة فعل نادي المنتصرين في الحرب الثانية فقد اختلفت حيال كلّ من الدولتين في سقوفها، لكنها تماثلت في طبيعتها القائمة على رفض تشكل قوة إقليمية أو دولية جديدة تنازع الغرب مواقعه ومصالحه من أي نوع كانت سياسية أو اقتصادية أو عسكرية أو سيطرة ونفوذ. وكان العنف الشديد يمارَس بوجه إيران التي شنّت عليها الحروب ثم الحصار الخانق، وكانت المشاغلة والمراوغة في العلاقات مع الصين بحيث لا تصل إلى العداء المكشوف المستتبع لشن الحرب، ولا تدخل في مجال الصداقة والحميميّة المطمئنة بأيّ حال.

لقد شكلت كل من الصين وإيران هاجساً مقلقاً للغرب، الأولى على صعيد دوليّ حيث إنّ تقدّمها الاقتصادي الذي حققته نتيجة التركيز على الاستثمار بدل الانشغال بالحروب والنزاعات وهدر المال من دون طائل، والثانية على صعيد إقليميّ فسّره الغرب بأنه تهديد لمواقعه في الشرق الأوسط الذي به وبما هو عليه من موقع وثروة وتنوّع يمكنه أن يديم سيطرته على العالم، ولذلك كانت أولوية المواجهة للترويض أو القمع، مركزة على إيران التي رأى فيها الغرب العدو الذي لا يمكن تأخير معالجة خطره ، وأن تطويعه واحتواءه يخفضان من مستوى الجهد المبذول باتجاه الصين إلى النصف إنْ لم يكن أكثر.

بيد أنّ الغرب استفاد من تجربة حرب صدام الفاشلة ضدّ إيران وهي الحرب التي شُنّت بقرار أميركي ومال عربي وخيضت بسلاح متعدّد المصادر من الشرق والغرب، وامتنع عن تكرار التجربة بعد أن لمس أنّ عود إيران تصلّب وأنّ خبراتها في حرب الجيلين الثالث والرابع تعاظمت، لذا وما أن تفكك الاتحاد السوفياتي حتى سارع الغرب إلى تطويق إيران من دون غزوها فنفذ الانتشار العسكري في الخليج مقابل السواحل الإيرانية الجنوبية الغربية، ثم احتل أفغانستان ليقفل حدود إيران الشمالية الشرقية وأخيراً احتلّ العراق ليحكم تطويق إيران من الغرب، وظنت أميركا أنّ هذا التطويق والعزل سيسقط الجمهورية الإسلامية في إيران، لكن خاب ظنها.

ذهلت أميركا وكل مَن معها لفشل سياسة التطويق والحصار والاحتواء الممارسة ضد إيران، وشغلهم هذا عن متابعة ما يجري في الصين التي أطلقت «استراتيجية الانفتاح والإصلاح» وحققت بها ثورة نهضوية على أكثر من صعيد خاصة في السياسة والاقتصاد والإدارة والبناء العسكري، وظن الغرب بقيادة أميركا أن الوقت حان للعمل المتزامن ضد الطرفين، الصين وإيران عبر الانزياح إلى الشرق الأقصى عسكرياً للبدء بحصار الصين وتطويقها، أما إيران فتواجه عبر إسقاط محور المقاومة الذي نجحت في تشكيله، ونجح هو في قطف ثمار هامة في التحرير والمواجهة. وترجم الغرب اتجاهاته هذه في المفهوم الاستراتيجي الذي اعتمده للحلف الأطلسي في العام 2010 ليعمل به خلال عقد من الزمن ظن الحلف أنّ بإمكانه من خلاله إسقاط سورية، وتالياً إيران وحزب الله ومحاصرة المقاومة الفلسطينية وامتلاك قرار الشرق الأوسط والتفرّغ للصين في الشرق الأقصى.

بيد أنّ محصول البيدر الغربي لم يطابق حساب الحقل المشرقيّ، فمن جهة فشلت الحرب الكونية على سورية وصمدت إيران في مواقعها وأحرزت عبر حلفائها من سورية والعراق ولبنان وصولاً إلى اليمن انتصارات استراتيجية مذهلة، ما منع أميركا وحلفاءها من تحقيق أهداف حرب العقد – الكونيّة في الشرق الأوسط، ومن جهة ثانية استغلت الصين انشغال أميركا بالحروب منذ 1991 وعرفت كيف تتعامل مع الفشل الأطلسي وكان تركيزها على الاقتصاد والإنتاج وتطويره في الداخل وإيجاد الأسواق للصناعة والاستثمارات الصينية في الخارج.

وبعد أن كانت الصين قد بدأت بشن «هجوم اقتصادي استثماري» على الشرق الأوسط وعقدت الاتفاقات الهامة مع العراق و»إسرائيل» وآخرين ما أغضب أميركا وجعلها تضغط لتعطيلها، صنعت الصين مع إيران «القنبلة الاقتصادية السياسية العسكرية الاستراتيجية الكبرى» تحت اسم «اتفاقية التعاون الاستراتيجي الصيني الإيراني» فأحدثت ثورة في العلاقات الدولية وشكلت «كارثة استراتيجيّة على المشروع الغربي في المنطقة»، وجعلت بايدن يبدي بألم «قلقه العميق ومخاوفه الكبيرة» منها.

 لقد وقّعت الصين وإيران في 27/3/2021 هذا الاتفاق الاستراتيجي من دون اكتراث بالعقوبات الأميركية – الغربية اتفاقاً سيُعمل به خلال الـ 25 سنة المقبلة ويتضمّن «التعاون في المجالات السياسية والاقتصادية والتقنية، إلى جانب التعاون الدفاعي والعسكري، بما في ذلك إجراء مناورات عسكرية مشتركة»، فضلاً عن الاستثمار والمساهمة في بناء وتطوير البنى التحتيّة في إيران وخطوط المواصلات والنقل من مطارات ومرافئ وسكك حديد، ولذلك ننظر إلى هذا الاتفاق بأنه بحق ثورة في العلاقات الدولية من شأنها أن تفرض إيقاعها على الكثير مما تعمل به أميركا ضدّ أعدائها وتعوّل عليه لاستمرار سيطرتها وهيمنتها الدوليّة. ففي هذا الاتفاق من النتائج والدلالات ما لا يمكن حصره الآن، لكن نذكر بعضه كما يلي:

1

ـ أكد التقاء العملاقين الصيني والإيراني في هذه الصيغة فشل أميركا في خطط الحصار والعقوبات وإخفاق الحرب الاقتصادية عليهما. وبهذا كسر ذراع الضغط الثالث الذي كانت أميركا تعوّل عليه في الضغط على خصومها، إذ بعد فشل الذراع السياسية وفشل استراتيجية الحروب بالقوة الصلبة أو الناعمة ها هي سياسة الحرب الاقتصادية والعقوبات تلفظ أنفاسها على أبواب إيران والصين، وبهذا تثبت نتيجة المواجهة أنّ أميركا ليست قدراً لا يُردّ بل إنها مكوّن فيه من الوهن ولدى خصومها من القوة ما يجعلها تخسر ويُلوى ذراعها.

2

ـ خروج الصين من خلف السور العظيم واقتحام المنطقة المركزية في العالم من الوجهة الاستراتيجية ودخولها بقوة وثبات إلى غربي آسيا، حيث مصادر الطاقة والبحار الخمسة ما يعني أنّ حلم أميركا باحتكار السيطرة على الشرق الأوسط بات من الماضي الغابر.

3

ـ تعزيز فرص إحياء طريق الحرير التي تربط الصين بالغرب الأوروبي عبر آسيا الوسطى وبشكل خاص إيران، مشهد ستكون إيران فيه منطقة الوسط والتفريع وستعطيه دفعاً وزخماً هاماً. وسيلقى التسونامي الصيني الاقتصادي أبواباً تشرع له في الغرب رغم كلّ محاولات الحجب والمنع.

4

ـ تعزيز فرص نجاح مشروع «الحزام والطريق» الصيني الذي استماتت أميركا لمنعه وإسقاطه. وسيكون أكثر من سوق وميدان عالمي في القارات الثلاث قارات العالم القديم متهيئاً للاستثمارات الصينية.

5

ـ زعزعة موقع الدولار الذي لن يبقى متسيّداً على عرش الاقتصاد العالمي باعتباره العملة الكونيّة الوحيدة التي تتحكم أميركا باقتصاد العالم عبرها، حيث إنّ التحوّل إلى عملات أخرى محلية وإقليمية سيهزّ عرش الدولار من دون منقذ.

6

ـ لن يكون للعقوبات الأميركية أثر قاتل ومعطل لاقتصاد إيران والصين، فبترول إيران سيجد مَن يستهلكه والاستثمارات في إيران ستجد من يقوم بها وستبقى أميركا تراقب الأوراق تفلت من يدها.

7

ـ أما عسكرياً فإنّ شمول الاتفاق جوانب متصلة بالتسليح والتدريب والمناورات ففيه إشارة هامة إلى بناء نواة تحالف دفاعي ورسالة هامة بأنّ للاتفاقية ما يكفي من القوة العسكرية لحمايتها وحماية مَن ينظمّ إلى صيغ مثيلة لها مستقبلاً.

نكتفي الآن بهذا القدر من الإضاءة على هذا الاتفاق التاريخي الهام في أبعاده الاستراتيجية والسياسية والاقتصادية والعسكرية، ونقول إنّ فشل الحرب الكونية على سورية ومحور المقاومة وصمود هذا المحور غيّر العالم وفتح الطريق لإنهاء عهد سيطرة نادي المنتصرين في الحرب الثانية واستطاعت الدول التي تشكلت أنظمتها بعد الحرب تلك أن تتفلّت من الهيمنة الاستعماريّة وتهيّئ الفرص لنظام عالميّ مختلف يقوم على التوازن المبنيّ على الاستقلال والسيادة.

*أستاذ جامعي – خبير استراتيجي.


فيديوات ذات صلة


The Sino-Iranian Strategic Cooperation Agreement” A revolution in international relations

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is %D8%A3%D9%85%D9%8A%D9%86-%D8%AD%D8%B7%D9%8A%D8%B7.jpg

Brigadier General Dr. Amin Mohammed Hatit*

World War II led to the establishment of the League of Victorious Nations in the war that took over the leadership of the world and controlled its paths and issues, small and large, and despite the fact that the world order was based on the bipolarity between two NATO allies led by America and a communist led by the Soviet Union, the clear economic superiority was in favor of the first alliance that enjoyed self-benefits and usurped at the expense of the second alliance that it needs, as for China, especially after the success of its Communist revolution in 1949, it was besieged to the point of restriction and marginalization in many respects. As for Iran, before its Islamic revolution and its success in the year 1979 in building a state of sovereignty and independence, it was the policeman of the Gulf in favor of the first alliance in the face of any regional or international move threatening its interests.

The reaction of the Victors Club in the Second War differed from both states in its ceilings, but it was similar in nature based on the rejection of the formation of a new regional or international power that the West disputes its positions and interests of any kind, political, economic, military, control and influence. There was extreme violence in the face of war-ravaged Iran and then the suffocating siege, and the confusion and prevarication in relations with China were so that it did not reach the open hostility that entailed the waging war and did not enter into the sphere of friendship and comforting intimacy in anyway.

Based on this reality, China and Iran have worked for a growth-friendly strategy, mainly focusing on economy , with an interest in military affairs, with varying ceilings between the two countries for self-defense and protection of economic facilities. As for the reaction of the victors’ club in the second war, it differed vis-à-vis each country in its ceilings, but it was similar in nature based on the rejection of the formation of a new regional or international power that competes with the West and its interests, political, economic, military, or control and influence. Therefore, the priority was focusing on confrontation taming or suppressing Iran, whose danger could not be delayed, and whose compliance would be cut the half if not more than the level of effort required towards China.

However, the West benefited from the experience of Saddam’s failed war against Iran, which was waged by an American decision and Arab money and was fought with a multi-source weapon from the East and the West. The West refrained from repeating the experience after noticing that Iran’s power had hardened and that its experiences in the third and fourth generation war increased, so as soon as the Soviet Union disintegrated, the West rushed to encircle Iran without invading it and carried out the military deployment in the Gulf off the southwestern Iranian coast, then it occupied Afghanistan to close Iran’s northeastern borders and finally it occupied Iraq to close the encirclement of Iran from the West, and America thought that this encirclement and isolation would bring down the Islamic Republic in Iran, but was disappointed.

America and its allies were stunned by the failure of the policy of encirclement, siege and containment practiced against Iran, which distracted them from China’s renaissance revolution, investigated on more than one level, especially in politics, economics, administration and military construction, and the West led by America thought that it was time to act simultaneously against the parties, China and Iran by shifting to the Far East militarily to start the siege and encirclement of China. As for Iran, it facing through the axis of resistance, which it succeeded in forming, the axis succeeded in reaping important fruits in liberation and confrontation. The West translated these trends into the strategic concept that it adopted for NATO in the year 2010 to work with it within a decade, which the alliance thought that through it it could overthrow Syria, and next to Iran and Hezbollah, besieging the Palestinian resistance and owning the Middle East decision and devoting itself to China in the Far East.

However, the western threshing crop did not match the expense of the Levantine field, on the one hand the global war on Syria failed and Iran persisted in its positions and achieved through its allies from Syria, Iraq and Lebanon to Yemen amazing strategic victories, which prevented America and its allies from achieving the goals of the decade-global war in the Middle East. On the other hand, China took advantage of America’s preoccupation with wars since 1991 and knew how to deal with the Atlantic failure. Its focus was on the economy, production and its development at home and creating markets for Chinese industry and investments abroad.

And after China had launched an “economic and investment attack” on the Middle East and concluded the important agreements with Iraq, “Israel” and others, which angered America and made pressure to disrupt it, China created with Iran the “major economic, political, military, and strategic bomb” under the name of the “Strategic Cooperation Agreement” causing a revolution in international relations and constituting a “strategic catastrophe for the Western project in the region”, that made Biden express painfully his “deep concern and great fear” of it.

On March 27, 2021, China and Iran signed this strategic agreement without regard to U.S.-Western sanctions, which will be in place for the next 25 years, including “political, economic and technical cooperation, as well as defense and military cooperation, including joint military exercises.” Investing and contributing to the construction and development of Iran’s infrastructure and transportation lines from airports, ports and railways, so we see this agreement as truly a revolution in international relations that would impose its rhythm on much of what America is doing against its enemies and counting on it to maintain its control and international dominance. In this agreement of results and implications, there is no limit now, but some of it is as follows:

1-The meeting of the Chinese and Iranian giants in this formula affirmed America’s failure in the siege and sanctions plans and the failure of the economic war against them. And with this breaking the third pressure arm that America was relying on to pressure its opponents, as after its political failure and the failure of the strategy of wars with hard or soft power, here is the policy of economic war and sanctions breathed at the gates of Iran and China, thus proving the outcome of the confrontation that America is not a measure of weakness and its opponents have the power to lose and twist its arm.

2-China’s exit from behind the Great Wall and the storming of the central region of the world from a strategic point of view and its strong and steady entry into Western Asia, where the sources of energy and the five seas, which means that America’s dream of monopolizing control of the Middle East is a past.

3-Enhancing the chances of reviving the Silk Road that connects China with the European West through Central Asia, especially Iran, a scene in which Iran will be a central and branching area and will give it significant momentum and impetus. The Chinese economic tsunami will open doors for it in the West, despite all attempts to block and prevent.

4-Enhance the chances of success of china’s Belt and Road project, which America has called for to prevent and bring down. More than one global market and field on three continents will be the old world, preparing for Chinese investment.

5-To destabilize the position of the dollar, which will not remain on the throne of the world economy as the only global currency through which America controls the world economy, as the transition to other domestic and regional currencies will shake the throne of the dollar without a savior.

6-U.S. sanctions will not have a fatal and disruptive effect on iran’s economy and China, Iran’s oil will find those who consume it and investments in Iran will find who is doing it and America will keep watching the cards get out of hand.

7-On the military side, the inclusion of the agreement has aspects related to armaments, training and exercises, which are an important reference to the building of the nucleus of a defence alliance and an important message that the Agreement has sufficient military force to protect it and to protect those who organize to similar formulas in the future.

We say that the failure of the global war on Syria and the axis of resistance and the resilience of this axis is not enough to end the era of the domination of the victors club in the second war, and the countries that formed their systems after the war were able to escape colonial domination and create opportunities for a different world order based on balance based on independence and sovereignty.

*University professor – strategic expert.

Related Videos

Related Articles/Posts

US/NATO vs. Russia-China in a hybrid war to the finish

US/NATO vs. Russia-China in a hybrid war to the finish

March 27, 2021

The unipolar moment is six feet under, the hegemon will try to break Eurasian integration and there’s no grownup in the room to counsel restraint

By Pepe Escobar, posted with permission and first posted at Asia Times

Let’s start with comic relief: the “leader of the free world” has pledged to prevent China from becoming the “leading” nation on the planet. And to fulfill such an exceptional mission, his “expectation” is to run again for president in 2024. Not as a hologram. And fielding the same running mate.

Now that the “free world” has breathed a sigh of relief, let’s return to serious matters – as in the contours of the Shocked and Awed 21st Century Geopolitics.

What happened in the past few days between Anchorage and Guilin continues to reverberate. As Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that Brussels “destroyed” the relationship between Russia and the EU, he focused on how the Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership is getting stronger and stronger.

Not so casual synchronicity revealed that as Lavrov was being properly hosted by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Guilin – scenic lunch in the Li river included -, US Secretary of State Tony Blinken was visiting NATO’s James-Bondish HQ outside Brussels.

Lavrov made it quite clear that the core of Russia-China revolves around establishing an economic and financial axis to counterpunch the Bretton Woods arrangement. That implies doing everything to protect Moscow and Beijing from “threats of sanctions by other states”; progressive de-dollarization; and advances in crypto-currency.

This “triple threat” is what is unleashing the Hegemon’s unbounded fury.

On a broader spectrum, the Russia-China strategy also implies that the progressive interaction between the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) will keep apace across Central Asia, Southeast Asia, parts of South Asia, and Southwest Asia – necessary steps towards an ultimately unified Eurasian market under a sort of strategic Sino-Russo management.

In Alaska, the Blinken-Sullivan team learned, at their expense, that you don’t mess with a Yoda such as Yang Jiechi with impunity. Now they’re about to learn what it means to mess with Nikolai Patrushev, head of the Russian Security Council.

Patrushev, as much a Yoda as Yang Jiechi, and a master of understatement, delivered a not so cryptic message: if the US created “though days” for Russia, as they “are planning that, they can implement that”, Washington “would be responsible for the steps that they would take”.

What NATO is really up to

Meanwhile, in Brussels, Blinken was enacting a Perfect Couple  routine with spectacularly inefficient head of the European Commission (EC) Ursula von der Leyen. The script went something like this. “Nord Stream 2 is really bad for you. A trade/investment deal with China is really bad for you. Now sit. Good girl.”

Then came NATO, which put on quite a show, complete with an all-Foreign Minister tough guy pose in front of the HQ. That was part of a summit – which predictably did not “celebrate” the 10th anniversary of NATO’s destruction of Libya or the major ass-kicking NATO “endured” in Afghanistan.

In June 2020, NATO’s cardboard secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg – actually his US military handlers – laid out what is now known as the NATO 2030 strategy, which boils down to a Global Robocop politico-military mandate. The Global South has (not) been warned.

In Afghanistan, according to a Stoltenberg impervious to irony, NATO supports infusing “fresh energy into the peace process”. At the summit, NATO ministers also discussed Middle East and Northern Africa and – with a straight face – looked into “what more NATO could do to build stability in the region”. Syrians, Iraqis, Lebanese, Libyans, Malians would love to learn something about that.

Post-summit, Stoltenberg delivered a proverbially somnolent press conference where the main focus was – what else – Russia, and its “pattern for repressive behavior at home, aggressive behavior abroad”.

All the rhetoric about NATO “building stability” vanishes when one examines what’s really behind NATO 2030, via a meaty “recommendation” report written by a bunch of “experts”

Here we learn the three essentials:

1. “The Alliance must respond to Russian threats and hostile actions (…) without a return to ‘business as usual’ barring alterations in Russia’s aggressive behavior and its return to full compliance with international law.”

2. China is depicted as a tsunami of “security challenges”: “The Alliance should infuse the China challenge throughout existing structures and consider establishing a consultative body to discuss all aspects of Allies’ security interests vis-à-vis China”. The emphasis is to “defend against any Chinese activities that could impact collective defense, military readiness or resilience in the Supreme Allied Commander Europe’s (SACEUR) Area of Responsibility.”

3. “NATO should outline a global blueprint (italics mine) for better utilizing its partnerships to advance NATO strategic interests. It should shift from the current demand-driven approach to an interest-driven approach (italics mine) and consider providing more stable and predictable resource streams for partnership activities. NATO’s Open Door Policy should be upheld and reinvigorated. NATO should expand and strengthen partnerships with Ukraine and Georgia.”

Here’s to The Triple Threat. Yet the Top of the Pops – as in fat, juicy industrial-military complex contracts – is really here:

The most profound geopolitical challenge is posed by Russia. While Russia is by economic and social measures a declining power, it has proven itself capable of territorial aggression and is likely to remain a chief threat facing NATO over the coming decade.

NATO may be redacting, but the master script comes straight from the Deep State – complete with Russia “seeking hegemony”; expanding Hybrid War (the concept was actually invented by the Deep State); and manipulating “cyber, state-sanctioned assassinations, and poisonings – using chemical weapons, political coercion, and other methods to violate the sovereignty of Allies.”

Beijing for its part is using “force against its neighbors, as well as economic coercion and intimidatory diplomacy well beyond the Indo-Pacific region. Over the coming decade, China will likely also challenge NATO’s ability to build collective resilience.”

The Global South should be very much aware of NATO’s pledge to save the “free world” from these autocratic evils.

The NATO interpretation of “South” encompasses North Africa and the Middle East, in fact everywhere from sub-Saharan Africa to Afghanistan. Any similarity with the presumably defunct “Greater Middle East” concept of the Dubya era is not an accident.

NATO insists this vast expanse is characterized by “fragility, instability, and insecurity” – of course refusing to disclose its own role as serial instability perpetrator in Libya, Iraq, parts of Syria and Afghanistan.

Because ultimately…it’s all Russia’s fault: “To the South, the challenge includes the presence of Russia and to a lesser extent China, exploiting regional fragilities. Russia has reinserted itself in the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean. In 2015, it intervened in the Syrian Civil War and remains there. Russia’s Middle East policy is likely to exacerbate tensions and political strife across the region as it extends an increasing amount of political, financial, operational, and logistical assets to its partners. China’s influence across the Middle East is also growing. It signed a strategic partnership with Iran, is the largest importer of crude oil from Iraq, wedged itself into the Afghanistan peace process, and is the biggest foreign investor in the region.”

Here, in a nutshell, and not exactly in code, is the NATO road map all the way to 2030 to harass and try to dismantle every relevant nook and cranny of Eurasia integration, especially those directly linked to New Silk Roads infrastructure/connectivity projects (investment in Iran, reconstruction of Syria, reconstruction of Iraq, reconstruction of Afghanistan).

The spin is on a “360-degree approach to security” that will “become an imperative”. Translation: NATO is coming for large swathes of the Global South, big time, under the pretense of “addressing both the traditional threats emanating from this region like terrorism and new risks, including the growing presence of Russia, and to a lesser extent China.”

Hybrid war on two fronts

And to think that in a not so distant past there used to be some flashes of lucidity emanating from the US establishment.

Very few will remember that in 1993 James Baker, former Secretary of State under Daddy Bush, advanced the idea of expanding NATO to Russia, which at the time, under Yeltsin and a gang of Milton Friedmanesque free marketeers, was devastated, but ruled by “democracy”. Yet Bill Clinton was already in power, and the idea was duly discarded.

Six years later, no less than George Kennan – who invented the containment of the USSR in the first place – determined that the NATO annexation of former Soviet satellites was “the beginning of a new Cold War” and “a tragic mistake”.

It’s immensely enlightening to relieve and re-study the whole decade between the fall of the USSR and the election of Putin to the presidency through the venerable Yevgeny Primakov’s book Russian Crossroads: Toward the New Millenium, published in the US by Yale University Press.

Primakov, the ultimate intel insider who started as a Pravda correspondent in the Middle East, former Foreign Minister and also Prime Minister, looked closely into Putin’s soul, repeatedly, and liked what he saw: a man of integrity and a consummate professional. Primakov was a multilateralist avant la lettre, the conceptual instigator of RIC (Russia-India-China) which in the next decade evolved towards BRICS.

Those were the days – exactly 22 years ago – when Primakov was on a plane to Washington when he picked up a call by then Vice-President Al Gore: the US was about to start bombing Yugoslavia, a slav-orthodox Russian ally, and there was nothing the former superpower could do about it. Primakov ordered the pilot to turn around and fly back to Moscow.

Now Russia is powerful enough to advance its own Greater Eurasia concept, which moving forward should be balancing – and complementing – China’s New Silk Roads. It’s the power of this Double Helix – which is bound to inevitably attract key sectors of Western Europe – that is driving the Hegemon’s ruling class dazed and confused.

Glenn Diesen, author of Russian Conservatism: Managing Change Under Permanent Revolution, which I analyzed in Why Russia is Driving the West Crazy , and one of the best global analysts of Eurasia integration, summed it all up: “The US has had great difficulties in terms of converting the security dependence of the allies into geoeconomic loyalty, as evident by the Europeans still buying Chinese technologies and Russian energy.

Hence permanent Divide and Rule, featuring one of its key targets: cajole, force, bribe and all of the above for the European Parliament to scotch the China-EU trade/investment deal.

Wang Yiwei, director of the Center for European Studies at Renmin University and author of the best made in China book about the New Silk Roads, clearly sees through the “America is back” bluster: “China is not isolated by the US, the West or even the whole international community. The more hostility they show, the more anxiety they have. When the US travels around the globe to frequently ask for support, unity and help from its allies, this means US hegemony is weakening.”

Wang even forecasts what may happen if the current “leader of the free world” is prevented from fulfilling his exceptional mission: “Don’t be fooled by the sanctions between China and the EU, which is harmless to trade and economic ties, and EU leaders won’t be that stupid to totally abandon the China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, because they know they would never get such a good deal when Trump or Trumpism returns to the White House.”

Shocked and Awed 21st Century Geopolitics, as configured in these crucial past two weeks, spells out the Unipolar Moment is six feet under. The Hegemon will never admit it; hence the NATO counterpunch, which was pre-designed. Ultimately, the Hegemon has decided not to engage in diplomatic accommodation, but to wage a hybrid war on two fronts against a relentlessly demonized strategic partnership of peer competitors.

And as a sign of these sorry times, there’s no James Baker or George Kennan to advise against such folly.

Biden’s ‘Greater Middle East’ Peace Push Lacks Any Meaningful Progress

By Andrew Korybko

Source

Biden

The reason for this is that the US refuses to learn from its mistakes contrary to its post-Trump rhetoric, which has resulted in scant progress being made in Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya.

The Biden Administration isn’t serious about bringing peace to the four countries in the so-called “Greater Middle East” whose suffering the US is responsible for. Whether it’s his over-hyped policy pivot in Yemen, the stalled peace processes in Afghanistan and Syria, or the seemingly forgotten war in Libya, the new American leader appears to be all talk and no real action, at least for the time being. The reason for this is that the US refuses to learn from its mistakes contrary to its post-Trump rhetoric, which has resulted in scant progress being made on any of those four fronts. What follows is a brief review of the current situation in each of those countries, after which some policy suggestions will be shared for jump-starting those peace processes.

Yemen

Biden’s decision to suspend all US military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen was a positive move, but his subsequent ceasefire proposal failed to live up to expectations. It doesn’t fully lift the blockade that’s responsible for what the United Nations previously described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. This suggests that his administration is playing a Machiavellian game with the Ansarullah (“Houthi”) rebels whereby the threat of famine is being weaponized as a means of politically pressuring them into unilateral concessions. Instead of being treated as an equally legitimate party to the peace process like the Biden Administration officially regards them as after lifting their prior terrorist designation, they’re treated as a junior one.

Afghanistan

US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad appeared to follow in the diplomatic footsteps of his Russian counterpart, Zamir Kabulov, by recently suggesting the creation of an interim government that includes the Taliban. Despite being officially designated as a terrorist organization, world powers have pragmatically engaged with the group over the years in an effort to support the country’s fledgling peace process. No political solution is possible without the Taliban’s participation. The problem, however, is that the Biden Administration is under internal pressure not to complete former President Trump’s previously promised military withdrawal by this May, which risks undermining last year’s peace accord with the Taliban and thus prolonging the war.

Syria

Out of the four examined conflicts, the US is the least serious about bringing peace to Syria, which it no longer even tries to hide. It bombed the country last month on the pretext of targeting allegedly Iranian-affiliated militias that it blamed for attacking American forces in Iraq. The US also continues to tighten its brutal sanctions regime against Syria with the intent of forcing its democratically elected and legitimate leadership into submission. There are also credible reports from official Syrian, Russian, and Iranian sources that the US’ illegal occupation forces support terrorists. The US hasn’t learned anything despite the disastrous war that it’s waged there through hybrid means over the past decade. Its present policy is therefore doomed to fail.

Libya

Most of the world seems to have forgotten about this conflict, but a ceasefire was surprisingly agreed to late last year between its main warring sides: the UN-recognized government in Tripoli and the rebellious Tobruk-based administration in the east most prominently represented by General Khalifa Haftar of the Libyan National Army. This in turn led to the creation of an interim government that’ll preside over the country until elections this December. All of this sounds good on paper, but the problem is that Libya has already been down a similar path before but with no success. That’s because its internal divisions are exacerbated through the involvement of foreign forces, but such external actors aren’t negotiating between themselves to pursuit of peace.

Policy Suggestions

In the order that they were mentioned, here’s what the Biden Administration must do in order to jump-start the peace processes in Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya:

* Demand the full and immediate lifting of the Saudi-led blockade on Yemen without any preconditions in order to satisfy the Yemeni people’s humanitarian needs and influence the Ansarullah to agree to a ceasefire;

* Respect last year’s peace agreement by withdrawing all US forces from Afghanistan by this May in parallel with accelerating the creation of an interim government with the Taliban to facilitate a forthcoming ceasefire;

* Respect the outcome of this spring’s presidential elections that will likely lead to President Assad’s re-election and use that as the long-overdue pretext for entering into talks with Damascus without preconditions;

* and convene international talks between the US, France, Russia, Turkey, Egypt, and the UAE with the intent of coordinating each major external party’s post-war vision ahead of meaningful intra-Libyan peace talks.

The Bamiyan Buddhas: an Afghan tale

The Bamiyan Buddhas: an Afghan tale

March 03, 2021

by Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times

In the beginning, they were the Bamiyan Buddhas: the Western Buddha statue, 55 meters high, and the Eastern, 38 meters high, carved for decades since 550 A.D. from porous sandstone cliffs, the intricate details modeled in clay mixed with straw and coated with stucco.

Xuanzang, the legendary traveling monk of the early Tang dynasty who journeyed to India in search of Buddhist manuscripts, saw them in all their – colored – glory in the 7th century.

Then, with Islam taking over these high central lands of Afghanistan, local Hazara folklore slowly turned them into the Romeo and Juliet of the Hindu Kush.

They became “Solsol” (“year after year”, or, more colloquially, the prince of Bamiyan) and “Shahmana” (“the king’s Mother”, or colloquially a princess from a remote kingdom). As lovers, they could not be united as a couple in this world; so they chose to turn into statues and stand close to each other forever.

And then, twenty years ago, after a millennium and a half of living history, the Taliban blew them up.

Killing Romeo and Juliet

Solsol and Shahmana lived since their inception among the Hazaras, who speak Dari, a Persian dialect with numerous words of Mongol and Turk origin. The Hazaras are partly descendants of Genghis Khan’s troops who infiltrated these mountains in the 13th century. Hazaras – who I had the pleasure to meet mostly in Kabul in the early 2000s – remain essentially Mongols, but linguistically Persianized, having adopted the old agricultural tradition of the Iranian mountains.

The Hazaras are diametrically opposed by the Pashtuns – who had an extremely complex ethno-genesis before the early 18th century, when they coalesced into great federations of nomad tribes. Their code of conduct – the Pashtunwali – is straightforward, regulating most of all a mechanism of sanctions.

The number one sanction is death: this is a poor society, where sanctions are physical, not material. Islam added moral elements to pashtunwali. And then there are juridical norms imposed by hereditary noblemen – which function like the carpet tying the room together: these come from the Turk-Mongols.

The modern Afghan state was created in the late 19th century by Abd-ur-Rahman, the “Iron Emir”. He pulled that off via a “Pashtunization” of the region that was locally known as the north of Turkestan. Then he integrated the Hazaras in the central mountains via bloody military campaigns.

Hazara lands were opened to Pashtun nomad tribes – who featured not only shepherds but also merchants and caravan entrepreneurs. Increasingly plunged into debt, the Hazaras ended up becoming economic hostages of the Pashtuns. Their way out was to emigrate to Kabul – where they hold mostly menial jobs.

And that brings us to the heart of the problem. Hazaras are Shi’ites. Pashtuns are Sunni. Pashtuns consider themselves the owners of Afghanistan – even as there’s persistent, major infighting among Pashtun groups. Pashtuns simply detest the Westphalian concept of the nation-state: most of all they see themselves as an empire within an empire.

This implies that ethnic minorities are marginalized – if they can’t find some sort of accommodation. Hazaras, because they are Shi’ites, were extremely marginalized during Taliban rule, from 1996 to 2001.

The Taliban rolled out en masse from Pakistani madrassas in 1994: the overwhelming majority were Pashtuns from rural areas between Kandahar and Paktiya. They had spent many years in camps scattered along the Pakistani tribal areas and Balochistan.

The Taliban became instantly successful for three reasons:

1 – Implementation of Sharia law.

2 – Their fight against the lack of security after the 1980s jihad instrumentalized by the Americans to give the USSR its “own Vietnam” (Brzezinski’s definition), and the subsequent warlord anarchy.

3 – Because they incarnated the return of the Pashtuns as the leading Afghan force.

No reincarnation?

All of the above supplies the context for the inevitable destruction of Solsol and Shahmana in March 2001. They were the symbols of an “infidel” religion. And they were situated in Shi’ite Hazara land.

Months later, after 9/11, I would learn from Taliban officials close to ambassador Abdul Salam Zaeef in Islamabad that first they blew up “the little one, which was a woman” then “her husband”; that implies the Taliban were very much aware of local folklore.

The destruction process started with the legs of the Great Buddha: one of them was already cut at the knee and the other at the femur. It took them four days – using mines, explosives and even artillery. The Taliban forced local Hazara youth to drill holes in the statues: those who refused were shot dead.

Yet that was not enough to kill oral tradition. Even the young Hazara generation, born after the smashing of the Buddhas, still delights in the tale of Solsol and Shahmana.

But will they ever reincarnate as living statues? Enter the usually messy “international community”. In 2003, Unesco declared the site of the Bamiyan Buddhas and the surrounding caves a “World Heritage Site in Danger.”

Still, Kabul and Unesco can’t seem to agree on a final decision. As it stands, Solsol will not be rebuilt; Shahmana, maybe. On and off, they resurrect as 3-D holograms.

What happened so far is “consolidation work at the Eastern Buddha niche”, finished in 2015. Work at the Western Buddha niche started in 2016. A Bamiyan Expert Working Group gets together every year, featuring the administration in Kabul, Unesco experts and donors, mostly German and Japanese.co

Ishaq Mawhidi, the head of the Culture and Information Department of Bamiyan, is sure that “90 percent of the statues can be rebuilt with the debris”, plus fragments of smaller statues currently preserved in two large warehouses on site.

The Afghan Ministry of Culture correctly argues that reconstruction work will require a formidable team, including Buddhism scholars, archeologists specialized in Gandhara art, historians, ethnographers, historiographers specialized in the first centuries of the first millennium in Afghanistan.

It will have to be eventually up to wealthy donors such as Berlin and Tokyo to willingly finance all this – and justify the costs, considering Hazara lands barely have been granted with working roads and electricity by the Kabul central government.

It’s always crucial to remember that the Bamiyan Buddhas blow up is a crucial case of deliberate destruction of world cultural heritage – alongside appalling instances in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Libya and Mali. They all connect, directly and indirectly, to the causes and consequences of imperial Forever Wars and their spin-offs (never forget that the Taliban initially were fully courted by the Clinton administration).

The Buddha of Dushanbe

In the end, I never managed to see Solsol and Shahmana. The Taliban would not issue a travel permit for foreigners under any circumstances. After 9/11 and the expulsion of the Taliban from Kabul, I was negotiating a safe passage with Hazara fighters, but then something bigger came up: bribing a Pashtun commander to take a small group of us to Tora Bora to see the Empire B-52 Show against Osama bin Laden.

Instead of Solsol and Shahmana – either standing up in their niches, or blown up to smithereens – I finally managed to see the next best option: the reclining Buddha of Dushanbe.

Afghanistan may be the “graveyard of empires” – the last act being enacted as we speak. And, to a certain extent, a graveyard of Buddhas. But not neighboring Tajikistan.

The original Buddha of Dushanbe saga was published by Asia Times in those heady 9/11 days. It happened as my photographer Jason Florio and myself were waiting for days for a helicopter to take us to the Panjshir valley in Afghanistan.

Eighteen years later, like a Jorge Luis Borges short story, it all came down full circle before I traveled the Pamir highway in late 2019. I went to the same museum in Dushanbe and there he was: the 13 meter-long “sleeping lion”, found in the Buddhist monastery of Ajinateppa, resting on pillows, in glorious parinirvana, and fully restored, with help from an expert from the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.

Somewhere in unknown spheres beyond space and time, Solsol and Shahmana will be benevolently smiling.


Recommended to open this Wikipedia page for existent photography of Pepe’s tale.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhas_of_Bamiyanbrz

The art of being a spectacularly misguided oracle

February 22, 2021

The art of being a spectacularly misguided oracle

By Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times

The late Dr. Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski for some time dispensed wisdom as an oracle of US foreign policy, side by side with the perennial Henry Kissinger – who, in vast swathes of the Global South, is regarded as nothing but a war criminal.

Brzezinski never achieved the same notoriety. At best he claimed bragging rights for giving the USSR its own Vietnam in Afghanistan – by facilitating the internationalization of Jihad Inc., with all its dire, subsequent consequences.

Over the years, it was always amusing to follow the heights Dr. Zbig would reach with his Russophobia. But then, slowly but surely, he was forced to revise his great expectations. And finally he must have been truly horrified that his perennial Mackinder-style geopolitical fears came to pass – beyond the wildest nightmares.

Not only Washington had prevented the emergence of a “peer competitor” in Eurasia, but the competitor is now configured as a strategic partnership between Russia and China.

Dr. Zbig was not exactly versed in Chinese matters. His misreading of China may be found in his classic A Geostrategy for Eurasia published in – where else – Foreign Affairs in 1997:

Building in Beijing

Although China is emerging as a regionally dominant power, it is not likely to become a global one for a long time. The conventional wisdom that China will be the next global power is breeding paranoia outside China while fostering megalomania in China. It is far from certain that China’s explosive growth rates can be maintained for the next two decades. In fact, continued long-term growth at the current rates would require an unusually felicitous mix of national leadership, political tranquility, social discipline, high savings, massive inflows of foreign investment, and regional stability. A prolonged combination of all of these factors is unlikely.

Dr. Zbig added,

Even if China avoids serious political disruptions and sustains its economic growth for a quarter of a century — both rather big ifs — China would still be a relatively poor country. A tripling of GDP would leave China below most nations in per capita income, and a significant portion of its people would remain poor. Its standing in access to telephones, cars, computers, let alone consumer goods, would be very low.

Oh dear. Not only Beijing hit all the targets Dr. Zbig proclaimed were off limits, but the central government also eliminated poverty by the end of 2020.

The Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping once observed, “at present, we are still a relatively poor nation. It is impossible for us to undertake many international proletarian obligations, so our contributions remain small. However, once we have accomplished the four modernizations and the national economy has expanded, our contributions to mankind, and especially to the Third World, will be greater. As a socialist country, China will always belong to the Third World and shall never seek hegemony.”

What Deng described then as the Third World – a Cold War-era derogatory terminology – is now the Global South. And the Global South is essentially the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) on steroids, as in the Spirit of Bandung in 1955 remixed to the Eurasian Century.

Cold Warrior Dr. Zbig was obviously not a Daoist monk – so he could never abandon the self to enter the Dao, the most secret of all mysteries.

Had he been alive to witness the dawn of the Year of the Metal Ox, he might have noticed how China, expanding on Deng’s insights, is de facto applying practical lessons derived from Daoist correlative cosmology: life as a system of interacting opposites, engaging with each other in constant change and evolution, moving in cycles and feedback loops, always mathematically hard to predict with exactitude.

A practical example of simultaneously opening and closing is the dialectical approach of Beijing’s new “dual circulation” development strategy. It’s quite dynamic, relying on checks and balances between increase of domestic consumption and external trade/investments (the New Silk Roads).

Peace is Forever War

Now let’s move to another oracle, a self-described expert of what in the Beltway is known as the “Greater Middle East”: Robert Kagan, co-founder of PNAC, certified warmongering neo-con, and one-half of the famous Kaganate of Nulands – as the joke went across Eurasia – side by side with his wife, notorious Maidan cookie distributor Victoria “F**k the EU” Nuland, who’s about to re-enter government as part of the Biden-Harris administration.

Kagan is back pontificating in – where else – Foreign Affairs, which published his latest superpower manifesto. That’s where we find this absolute pearl:

That Americans refer to the relatively low-cost military involvements in Afghanistan and Iraq as “forever wars” is just the latest example of their intolerance for the messy and unending business of preserving a general peace and acting to forestall threats. In both cases, Americans had one foot out the door the moment they entered, which hampered their ability to gain control of difficult situations.

So let’s get this straight. The multi-trillion dollar Forever Wars are “relatively low-cost”; tell that to the multitudes suffering the Via Crucis of US crumbling infrastructure and appalling standards in health and education. If you don’t support the Forever Wars – absolutely necessary to preserve the “liberal world order” – you are “intolerant”.

“Preserving a general peace” does not even qualify as a joke, coming from someone absolutely clueless about realities on the ground. As for what the Beltway defines as “vibrant civil society” in Afghanistan, that in reality revolves around millennia-old tribal custom codes: it has nothing to do with some neocon/woke crossover. Moreover, Afghanistan’s GDP – after so much American “help” – remains even lower than Saudi-bombed Yemen’s.

Exceptionalistan will not leave Afghanistan. A deadline of May 1st was negotiated in Doha last year for the US/NATO to remove all troops. That’s not gonna happen.

The spin is already turbocharged: the Deep State handlers of Joe “Crash Test Dummy” Biden will not respect the deadline. Everyone familiar with the New Great Game on steroids across Eurasia knows why: a strategic lily pad must be maintained at the intersection of Central and South Asia to help closely monitor – what else – Brzezinski’s worst nightmare: the Russia-China strategic partnership.

As it stands we have 2,500 Pentagon + 7,000 NATO troops + a whole lot of “contractors” in Afghanistan. The spin is that they can’t leave because the Taliban – which de facto control from 52% to as much as 70% of the whole tribal territory – will take over.

To see, in detail, how this whole sorry saga started, non-oracle skeptics could do worse than check Volume 3 of my Asia Times archives: Forever Wars: Afghanistan-Iraq, part 1 (2001-2004) . Part 2 will be out soon. Here they will find how the multi-trillion dollar Forever Wars – so essential to “preserve the peace” – actually developed on the ground, in total contrast to the official imperial narrative influenced, and defended, by Kagan.

With oracles like these, the US definitely does not need enemies.

ARRANGING THE MIDDLE EAST NARRATIVE TO PUSH THE AGENDA FORWARD

South Front

The United States is returning to a level of activity in the Middle East unseen in nearly 4 years. This development has become obvious over the weeks since Joe Biden became US President, firstly with a large deployment into Syria, and subsequently with smaller ones.

On February 9th, the Pentagon said that it was no longer in Syria to protect and exploit oil fields.

It is now back to hunting ISIS. Back to the square one of 2014 and the Obama era. ISIS somehow obliged by ramping up their activities throughout Syria.

It is a mystery that they were able to make such a sharp and sudden resurgence. It should also be noted that the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces allegedly have about 10,000 ISIS terrorists imprisoned.

This statement of intent denotes a massive shift in posture for the US.  When defending the oil fields the US troops were mostly static, when hunting ISIS they can, once again, roam around and carry out various operations.

It appears likely that Idlib is now also in focus – US combat drones were observed surveying Greater Idlib. Idlib is a mixed bag – it has Turkish troops, Russians, the Syrian Arab Army along with terrorists and the moderate opposition, although confusing these two groups can be forgiven. The newest, future, US ally is there – the soon-to-be-rebranded Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham.

An indication of expected escalations and attacks are the Russian and Syrian military drills being carried out near Aleppo during effective wartime. Russia, separately, carried out a naval drill near Tartus.

And, as if by design, long-range missiles attempted to strike Russia’s forces at the Hmeimim Air Base. Drones occasionally attempt to infiltrate its airspace, but missiles are a rare sight.

Meanwhile in Western Daraa, the rebel leaders submitted to Damascus, likely fearing the upcoming chaos and wanting to choose a side.

Finally, the Biden administration is also working to secure Israeli support. The State Department said it doesn’t endorse Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, but doesn’t oppose it. It also provided a $9bn weapon sale as consolation. Tel Aviv is likely to use these weapons to counter its nemesis – Iran. It does so by targeting alleged Iranian interests in Syria.

Syria remains the lynchpin of US Middle East policy but the US posture in Iraq and Afghanistan has also changed. Withdrawing from the region is now out of the question – ISIS is making a resurgence, and there are other groups targeting American forces and convoys.

In Afghanistan, specifically, if the withdrawal does not move forward, the Taliban are also likely to begin targeting the US again.

The democrats are back in control and back to spreading democracy in the Middle East.

Compare, Contrast and Analyze – Mr Lavrov and Mr Borrell

Source

February 08, 2021

Compare, Contrast and Analyze – Mr Lavrov and Mr Borrell

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission Josep Borrell, Moscow, February 5, 2021 – https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4553286

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

I had a substantive discussion with High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission Josep Borrell.

We reviewed in detail the state of relations between Russia and the EU. Clearly, they are going through a rough period, partly related to the unilateral illegitimate restrictions imposed by the EU under far-fetched pretexts. We expressed this openly today.

Importantly, both sides confirmed their interest in maintaining and expanding our dialogue, including on matters where our positions differ, which are numerous. We noted a mutual willingness to maintain pragmatic cooperation in areas of common interest that may be beneficial for both parties.

We share the opinion that further degradation of our ties may lead to negative and unpredictable consequences. We hope that during the strategic review of relations with Russia at the next EU summit scheduled for March 2021, its participants will opt for constructive, professional and pragmatic interaction. Our differences may not go away, but it is better to have as few as possible. We are neighbours and we are responsible for maintaining stability on our common European, or rather Eurasian continent, for ensuring most comfortable lives for our citizens in this vast geopolitical space. Russia and the European countries share common centuries-old history, culture and people-to-people contacts. We have a lot in common in the economy, although trade is almost half of what it was in record-high 2012 and 2013. We are witnessing a positive trend now where the EU remains our largest trade and economic partner. EU businesses are the biggest, or at least among the biggest, foreign investors in the Russian economy. Despite the pandemic, the bilateral trade numbers continue up. Our relationship, especially energy interdependence, must be used for the benefit of both sides. We have an understanding that we will look for other areas to apply our joint efforts as part of building renewed relationships.

Today, we covered healthcare, climate change, science and education as areas in which the experts and ministers from both sides can come up with significant agreements. We will do our best not to delay this effort if our European colleagues are ready for it. At least, we heard them say they were, during the talks.

We want to continue the political dialogue. Today’s talks are proof that it is useful regardless of everything else. There are preliminary agreements to expand cooperation in a number of promising areas, including combating terrorism and the drug threat that continues to come from Afghanistan, and other areas.

We paid special attention to the situation in the Middle East and North Africa. We also discussed the settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. We see eye to eye on the need to resume the activities of the Quartet of international mediators, given that the new administration in Washington is disposed favourably to this idea. We both realise the need to use the Quartet’s capabilities to create conditions for resuming direct dialogue between the Palestinians and the Israelis in order to help the parties find a solution that will fit into the two-state formula approved by the UN and as part of the Arab Peace Initiative.

We discussed other crisis-ridden regions, including Syria and Libya. We understand that continuing instability continues to weigh down the situation in Europe, including in the context of the inflow of migrants and refugees to the EU. We believe it is necessary to overcome the existing problems, but not to forget about the events that preceded everything that we are now witnessing. Clearly, there would be much fewer of the problems had many Western states refrained from reckless geopolitical gambles in the Middle East and North Africa.

We will continue implementing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on settling Iran’s nuclear programme. A critical moment is coming. We hope that in this area, too, the US administration that held the talks and signed the JCPOA, will decide to what extent it will be ready to return to this major international document that is acknowledged as an achievement of multilateral diplomacy and shows what efforts must be made to ease tensions in various hot spots and to consolidate the nuclear arms non-proliferation regime.

We are willing to cooperate on other conflicts as well and regional issues in general. We will continue to inform each other on the approaches that are taking shape in the European Union and the Russian Federation.

I would like to express our regret that during the coronavirus pandemic when it would seem that all countries in the world should unite and act as one, some forces in the EU have used this issue to accuse Russia of disinformation. Russia has proved by deeds its willingness to help all of its interested colleagues, including in the EU, to counter this dangerous virus. If we really want to stop these information wars and false rumours, we must agree with the European Union to create one more channel and to buttress our talk about disinformation with facts that will allow us to consider mutual grievances at the professional level. Our proposal remains valid.

We are willing to discuss issues linked to the EU’s plans on the post-Soviet space (the South Caucasus and Central Asia) in which the EU displays substantial interest. We hope that in drafting its policy, the European Union will consider Russia’s lawful interests near its borders and in its relations with its next door neighbours and allies. It would be right to agree on principles that would include commitments not to interfere in the affairs of sovereign states, be it in the post-Soviet space, West Balkans or anywhere else.

This was an honest discussion. We did not conceal our differences but were motivated to discuss them in the open rather than harbour a grudge against each other. At the same time, we tried to promote our contacts wherever it was beneficial to both sides. We are ready for this. Today, we heard assurances that the same opinion is forming in the EU.

I would like to thank Josep Borrell and his team for the good talks.

Question (addressed to Josep Borrell): A third meeting of the Joint Cuba-EU Council, which you co-chaired, took place recently. What can you tell us about EU-Cuba relations today? Can this format help reduce the differences between Cuba and the US?

Question (to Sergey Lavrov): What can you tell us about current EU policy towards Cuba?

Sergey Lavrov (speaking after Josep Borrell): Josep, I see no surprise in that you were asked about Cuba. When I travel to various countries, I am always asked about Ukraine. You were asked about Cuba because you have fairly obvious and important relations with this state. I think this is a positive example of being guided by common sense, avoiding unilateral unlawful pressure, not to mention any form of blockade or embargo.

We have the same approach with the European Union: international partners must resolve their problems exclusively through dialogue. Power pressure, ultimatums, sanctions and penalties through exterritorial restrictions on those who want to develop normal relations are methods and instruments from a colonial past.

Unfortunately, the European Union increasingly resorts to these instruments, which are a US invention. This is sad. I hope upcoming international events, including the UN Security Council Permanent Members’ summit, which was proposed by President of Russia Vladimir Putin and supported by others (President of France Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed his willingness to take part in it yesterday), and other conferences will be used to figure out what king of world we are building. Will it be a multipolar world that ensures equality for all major actors, including the EU, or will it be a so-called multilateral world which is a cover to justify the methods of a unipolar world arrangement?

Today, we have started talking about the nature of genuine multilateralism and I hope we will continue this discussion. We are convinced that this is a format in which all states are represented. In other words, the United Nations. When initiatives on effective multilateralism are proposed, for example, by France and Germany, we begin to look into this slogan. It appears that the European Union is assumed to be an ideal of multilateralism, while others must follow in its wake.

These are philosophical issues, but they are related in practice to real politics. I am happy that today we talked honestly about them as well as about the questions that our European colleagues have for the Russian Federation. I believe this is the only constructive approach.

The example of Cuba graphically reveals the malignity of unilateral approaches and the need to revise them.

Question (retranslated from English): Regarding shared interests that can bring together the European Union and Russia rather than divide them, I want to ask you if you see the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine as a tool for rapprochement or as the opposite influence that will sow even more seeds for discord between the two blocs?

Sergey Lavrov: We are not talking about whether the Sputnik V vaccine might play a positive role but about establishing cooperation between all vaccine producers on an equal footing.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the Sputnik V vaccine had been created, this news received a negative response – opinions varied from the skeptical “it is too early and nobody knows anything as yet” to “the Russians have rushed it for geopolitical advantages.” However, as the vaccine started to be given, the perception of it has changed, largely because at the very beginning Russian President Vladimir Putin, while announcing this achievement by Russian scientists, called for the broadest possible cooperation in this field with our foreign partners.

Yesterday, during the conversation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken we talked about the Sputnik V vaccine. Mr Blinken congratulated us on the vaccine being effective. We agreed to promote contacts between our laboratories, scientists and producers and see if there is the potential for cooperation in this area.

We are maintaining contact with our European colleagues on a wide scale regarding this issue. A number of countries are interested in buying and producing the vaccine domestically. In her recent telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel supported the idea to see if there is a possibility for cooperation between Russia and Germany.

The Gamaleya National Research Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology has established contact with AstraZeneca to see if a mixed version of the vaccine that combines the positive effects of both vaccines might be produced.

I believe that not only can cooperation in this area play a positive role but it is already doing so. We welcome this in every way.

Question: You said a revision in the European Union’s attitude towards Russia is in the offing but for now, as I see it, the EU is proceeding from the five principles of Federica Mogherini. Does Russia have principles we are guided by in building our relations with the EU? I must also ask you about the videos that were given to High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell and your Swedish colleague Ann Linde earlier. Doesn’t this move remind you of the old Soviet joke: “And you are lynching Negroes”?

Sergey Lavrov: I have expressed my view on “the five principles of Federica Mogherini” more than once. I’ll just mention one principle, the one that says relations with us will be normalised as soon as Russia fulfils the Minsk Agreements. In parallel, President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky says he doesn’t like the Minsk Agreements but will have to keep them because this will allow him to maintain the sanctions against Russia. This trap into which the EU has put itself is indicative. We have asked Berlin and Paris, as the co-authors of the Minsk Agreements in the Normandy format, what they think about such statements by President Zelensky but our questions remain unanswered. Any more or less sensible person will understand that this condition is absolutely artificial.

Therefore, I would rather not invent counter principles but suggest relying on international law, the norms and principles of the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and other OSCE documents adopted at top level. These documents provide for respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs and free access to information (something we do not see being ensured by our Western colleagues). They also envisage many other principles, such as equitable dialogue, mutual respect and the search for a balance of interests. These principles underlie any dialogue that is aimed at achieving results rather than deriving some geopolitical advantage. Of course, reciprocity is a must. You recalled the Soviet saying “And you are lynching Negroes.” But this is not the point. This is just a witty interpretation of the principle of reciprocity.

If you are so concerned about human rights and the treatment of protesters, it is necessary to also look at the images we gave our Swedish colleagues as well as to Brussels on the eve of the current visit. Look at them. They show how a policeman drives his jeep over the demonstrators lying on the ground and many other things. The entire world saw footage how a young woman was squeezed against the wall by a stream of water from a fire hose in the Netherlands, after which she left the place covered in blood.

We had nothing like this. The police were repeatedly attacked during the recent demonstrations in Russia but did not use any special force. Demonstrators used teargas against the police.

Yesterday I talked with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. He mentioned the situation around Alexey Navalny and the demonstrators. I asked him if he had any information that would clear up the location of those who were detained during the events at the US Capitol. In some estimates, there are about 400 people. Several dozens of them are charged with attacking the police. Under US law, this is punishable by a term in prison from one to 20 years. There were numerous attacks against the police during the recent demonstrations in Russia and all of them are documented. These facts are being processed now.

There are many cases in Europe where the courts are suspected of passing politicized verdicts. I would like to draw your attention to what has never been mentioned in our public statements, notably, the case of three prisoners in Spain who were sentenced to 10 and more years in prison for organising referendums in Catalonia, something we were accused of provoking without any evidence. I recall this because our court was accused of passing a politicised verdict. The judicial authorities in Germany and Belgium urged the Spanish leaders to revoke the sentences for these three Catalonians. This is what Spanish government authorities replied: “You know, we have our own judicial system. Don’t even think of calling into doubt the decisions that we adopt in our courts under our laws.” This is exactly what we want from the West as regards reciprocity.

As for transparency in our relations, we have simply become stuck on an issue that the West is trying to push into the background for some reason, drawing all attention to the protests and demonstrations in the Russian Federation. I am referring to the issue of finding the truth of what happened with Navalny, when and where. I have spoken about this many times. Neither Russian nor civilian German doctors have found what supposedly went into his body. This was discovered only by German military doctors. This is a tell-tale fact. Our numerous requests to receive the results of these tests from Germany, France, Sweden or the OPCW Technical Secretariat, which has become so tame and obedient, have remained unanswered. They simply do not answer our questions. All they say is “You know everything yourselves.” But this is simply disrespectful, to put it mildly.

I think this arrogance on behalf of a supposedly cultured Europe is absolutely unacceptable and inadmissible. But if our partners believe that we do not deserve to have information that would confirm their accusations against Russian leaders, let this be on their conscience. We favour honesty and transparency. No need to count these principles again. A mathematical approach is unnecessary. I think we all understand what we are talking about.

Question (for Josep Borrell): Which messages did you convey to Mr Lavrov regarding the sentence against Alexey Navalny and the repression of the peaceful demonstrations? Do you think it is possible that the European Union will adopt in the near future sanctions against the eight people named in the list of oligarchs elaborated by [Alexey] Navalny?

Sergey Lavrov (speaking after Josep Borrell): I have already spoken about this issue. I will not speak at length about Navalny, the demonstrations and protest rallies or, most importantly, about the double standards when it comes to the media coverage of these events. Western media outlets mostly report on police response without showing what they were responding to, whereas their coverage of demonstrations in the West is focused on the riotous behaviour of protesters.

We believe that there must be double standards here. It seems they are beginning to hear us. However, the EU countries’ allied collective stand is that no facts are provided to us. We understand that this stand is formulated in Berlin. It has decided that this should be so from the very beginning and has announced this decision to the others.  It was followed by France and Sweden. I am not surprised by this, considering the EU’s principle of solidarity. I am sure that the majority of European politicians are aware of the absurdity of this stand. This is obvious, provided there is respect for international law. Roman law, which has survived in a large degree and is applied in Europe, says that “the burden of proof rests on who asserts, not on who denies.” This is exactly what we want.

As for sanctions, we regard them as an internal affair of the European Union. We have grown used to Brussels applying unilateral sanctions without any legal substantiation more and more often. We are proceeding from the assumption that the EU is not a reliable partner, at least at the current stage. I hope that in future strategic attention will be given to the EU’s fundamental interest in its closest neighbours and that the talks we have held today will promote movement to a more constructive trajectory. We are ready for this.

In conclusion I would like to say a few words to journalists. This concerns the problem, or the deadlock created by the results of the tests made in Germany, France and Sweden. I am surprised that journalists, who often show interest in less significant events, making them part of their reports and the questions they put to politicians, have been incredibly passive this time. I cannot understand the reason for this. I hope that the intrinsic features of journalists – inquisitiveness and a desire to get to the truth – will prevail, after all.

Maybe you will conduct a journalistic inquiry (not an investigation). Has it ever happened anywhere in the past that a politician, or someone claiming to be one, called on foreign states to adopt sanctions against his homeland?  If any journalist looks into this matter, this will produce an interesting brief, which all of us will accept with interest.

As it is said in media circles, good news don’t sell; everyone needs a scandal. However, we can offer you positive results in the spheres we have mentioned, that is, healthcare, science, education and climate change. These issues are of fundamental interest for large neighbouring players on the Eurasian continent. There is no doubt that we will try to translate these interests into practical agreements, which will help address global problems in a way that is comfortable for all participants.

I would like to thank Josep Borrell and his team once again.


Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the European Commission – My visit to Moscow and the future of EU-Russia relations – https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/92722/my-visit-moscow-and-future-eu-russia-relations_en

Short Extract – please read on the site itself from the link provided.

“I have just returned from a very complicated visit to Moscow, on which I had embarked to discuss the fraught state of EU-Russia relations. They have been  low for a number of years, and deteriorated even further after recent developments linked to the poisoning, arrest, and sentencing of Alexei Navalny as well as the related mass arrests of thousands of demonstrators. The purpose of this mission was to express directly the EU’s strong condemnation of these events and to address, through principled diplomacy, the process of a rapid worsening of our relationship with Russia, and to help prepare the forthcoming European Council discussions on EU-Russia relations.

“The Russian authorities did not want to seize this opportunity to have a more constructive dialogue with the EU. This is regrettable and we will have to draw the consequences.”

IRANIAN-BACKED FORCES RECEIVE NEW MISSILES AS TENSIONS GROW IN IRAQ

South Fronts

The second month of 2021 began with preparations by Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) for new round of hostilities.

Kata’ib Hezbollah received short and medium range rockets through Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Kata’ib Hezbollah is a key member of the PMU, actively participates in the fight against ISIS since the emergence of the group in Iraq, and is a vocal supporter of the current attempts to oust the US presence from Iraq.

At the same time, the PMU are subject to more and more frequent ISIS attacks in recent days. As the terrorists appear to be popping up all around. On January 31st, the PMU said they repelled an ISIS attack in the region of Jurf al-Sakhar in the province of Babil.

These apparent appearances by ISIS members coincide with reports by pro-Iranian sources blaming the US for airlifting them. On January 31st, in an interview with the al-Maloumeh news website, Sabah al-Akili claimed that the US military airlifts ISIS units into areas behind PMU positions in the Jurf al-Sakhar region.

So far, US President Joe Biden’s policy for the Middle East is incredibly unsurprising. Any potential withdrawals appear to be nothing more than a pipe dream. The first-ever African American Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw was being reconsidered. Not only that, but it is likely that the deployments need to be increased.

Attacks on US supply convoys have become commonplace, all of them being blamed on the PMU. However, responsibility for the most recent attack was assumed by the Qasim Al-Jabbarin group, which does not declare its affiliation with the PMU.

With the US still leading the way for NATO in the entire region, any exit also from Afghanistan becomes more fiction than reality. This will, in turn, lead to increased Taliban activity, since the peace deal is not being honored.

US troops remaining in Syria is also indisputable, judging by the deployments that have recently taken place.

The responses to these refusals to withdraw will lead to more frequent attacks and accusations from the Axis of Resistance. The answer from the Iran-led group will be not only against the US presence, but also against its allies in the face of Israel and Saudi Arabia. Yemen’s Houthis are responsible for dealing with Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabian fighter jets continue their attacks on reported Houthi targets, but mostly civilians. The ceasefire in al-Hudaydah is not being honored. Despite the Kingdom’s best efforts, the Houthis still have the upper hand in the conflict. On January 28th, at least 150 members of the Saudi-backed forces switched sides and went over to the Ansar Allah movement (the formal name of the Houthis). Additionally, drone attacks are more frequent. The Kingdom reported that it repelled several attacks, but such reports were not as common until recently.

That is when Iran deployed brand-new loitering munitions to the Houthis, and a new group made its appearance to target Riyadh’s ambitions on the Arab Peninsula.

Tensions in the Middle East continue deepening. The advent of reports of the airlifting of terrorists is something that’s been rare since the Obama-era. It appears that the region is once again subject to this known and proven method of “diplomatic intervention.”

Russian Attack Helicopters Purge ISIS Cells In Central Syria

South Front

January 29, 2021

The Syrian Army and its allies continue active efforts to hunt down and neutralize ISIS cells in the Homs-Deir Ezzor desert.

In a recent series of raids, government forces eliminated at least 8 ISIS members that were involved in recent attacks on civilian and military columns moving between the towns of Kobajjep and al-Shoulah. Three pick-up trucks armed with machine guns were also destroyed.

The Russian Aerospace Forces also deployed attack helicopters to support security operations of the Syrian Army. The very same helicopters are involved in providing security to important columns moving along the Homs-Deir Ezzor highway. On top of this, Russian warplanes carried out a few dozens of strikes on ISIS targets across the region.

Pro-government sources argue that now the highway is fully secured. However, it is unlikely that the ISIS threat will be fully neutralized anytime soon. On December 30, at least 25 people were killed when ISIS cells ambushed a bus near Kobajjep on the M20. On January 24, a similar attack left three people dead near al-Shoulah.

The increase of ISIS attacks took place amid tensions between the Syrian Army and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in al-Hasakah and al-Qamishli. The SDF security unit, Asayish, is seeking to limit the freedom of movement of Syrian personnel and pro-government militias in these areas. These attempts have faced a strong resistance from the local Arab population that does not support the pro-US and separatist posture of the Kurdish leaders. Damascus and the Kurdish leadership are allegedly being involved in negotiations to settle the existing issues. Nonetheless, the SDF is not hurrying up to demonstrate any kind of constructive approach. It seems that the leaders of Syrian Kurds will find out that they are also Syrians and should cooperate with Damascus to receive protection not earlier than the Turkish Army once again launches an advance on SDF positions.

Meanwhile, the situation is escalating in Iraq. The new US administration seems to be not going to reduce the number of troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan in a move that goes contrary to the agreements and policies of the previous US President.

During his confirmation hearing last week, the new Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that Washington was set to reexamine the plan announced by the administration of Donald Trump for reducing the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan each to 2,500.

This move is not only putting end to Trump’s attempts to reduce the US involvement in conflicts around the world, but also antagonize a large part of the Iraqi society and political leadership. In January 2020, the Iraqi parliament passed the law demanding the US to withdraw troops from the country. This decision followed the US assassination of top Iranian and Iraqi military commanders, Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in a drone strike in Baghdad.

This act of the US aggression also led to the increase of activity anti-US armed groups (often linked with Iran) that have already carried out dozens of attacks on supply convoys and targets affiliated with the US-led coalition. This trend will continue to strengthen as long as the main source of tensions, the large-scale US military presence in Iraq, will not be removed.

Related Videos

Related News

Which nation will US Democrats try to destroy in the next 4 years?

Wednesday, 20 January 2021 2:09 AM 

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo of protesters outside the Capitol
Which nation will US Democrats try to destroy in the next 4 years?
Ramin Mazaheri is currently covering the US elections. He is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

by Ramin Mazaheri (@RaminMazaheri2) and cross-posted with The Saker

John Kennedy’s “Camelot” was a magical time for US leftists. Too bad its promise was not fully realized – his attempted armed overthrow of the Cuban Revolution failed to return Washington’s fascist allies to power.

It’s so interesting how Lyndon Baines Johnson was brought down by mass protests which were not equaled until Donald Trump. The difference is that the anti-LBJ protests were completely anti-imperialist and internationalist in nature – against his continuation of Kennedy’s war on the Vietnamese people – whereas the “never-Trump” movement is totally self-absorbed in Americanism and vitally concerned with immediately reasserting American dominance and prestige.

Coinciding with the current installation of Joe Biden, Jimmy Carter is being whitewashed (again) in a popular new movie called “Rock & Roll President”. His creation of the Taliban, looking the other way on death squads of progressive clergy in El Salvador and Guatemala and his attempted destruction of the Iranian Revolution are all apparently less important to his legacy than his taste in music.

Bill Clinton was the first Baby Boomer president and he certainly changed things. He totally rolled back the Reagan-Bush Cold War policy of not attacking socialist nations by bombing Yugoslavia into an unstable fragmentation which persists 30 years later.

Barack Obama deserved his Nobel Peace Prize for perhaps as long as five minutes into his presidency – then he bombed seven Muslim countries, increased the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq and armed horrific wars in Libya, Syria and Ukraine to advance US interests.

It is fairly said – given the wars on American Indians – that Donald Trump, for all his fomenting of instability in the few nations courageous enough to openly oppose US imperialism, was actually the least belligerent president since Thomas Jefferson. During Trump’s tenure US Democrats drew gapes around the world with the way they virulently criticised Trump for his reluctance to extend Obama’s military conflicts and to start new ones.

But why such surprise at the warmongering of today’s Democrats? Listed above is the post-WWII legacy of Democratic leaders, and it is consistently refreshed by non-American blood.

Joe Biden is about to take the reins of foreign policy, and a bigger creation of the totally anti-internationalist, fake-leftist Democratic establishment could not be found. History shows we need to be prepared, so it’s worthwhile to look at the countries which Biden is likely to try and destroy.

After all, Democrat presidents always try to destroy somebody.

Countries too strong to be invaded, but whom Biden will try to provoke into war

North Korea: Pity the families still devastated by the last remnant of the Cold War: the US-divided Korean Peninsula. A united Korea would almost certainly create a hyper-competitive, top-5 global economy. That’s why Japan and the US won’t allow it – fear of Korean strength. Biden is certain to reverse Trump’s negotiations – despised across the US mainstream – for a minor detente. But victory in war here is impossible – it was tried and it failed, and despite perhaps the most horrific US war crimes ever.

Iran: Due to 70 years of sanctions North Korea is the performance straggler in East Asia, but in the Muslim World Iran is the performance leader despite decades of murderous sanctions. Fear of Iranian strength is the reason why Biden isn’t likely to spectacularly reverse US policy Iran. Washington and Tel Aviv will not consent to see two things: Iran as a thriving, peace-promoting regional leader in the Middle East, and a thriving, progressive Muslim republic anywhere. Biden will likely rejoin the JCPOA but merely return to Obama’s policy: not honoring it, intentionally subverting it and yet publicly claiming the opposite. This time-wasting is unfair for Iranians but very useful for Pentagonians and lobbyists, who have only ever had one policy: to implode Iran’s revolutionary government. There won’t be a military attack on Iran because it would only end in disaster – it’s the same as with North Korea, but Iran doesn’t need a nuclear bomb: they are the Muslim World’s performance leader.

China: For all his anti-China rhetoric Trump wasn’t as belligerent militarily as Obama was – his “pivot to Asia” proved that US-China detente was over. One simply cannot compare a trade war to a Cold War and remain credible, after all. Biden will only ramp up these provocations, as Washington simply cannot tolerate a competitor which rejects the neoliberal form of capitalism in favor of “mutually-beneficial cooperation” in business. The US lost the war against China long ago – now they are losing the battle for global political-cultural attention: China was the only major economy to grow in 20202, and one of the few to defeat the coronavirus. Biden will continue to uselessly beat America’s head against the wall here, and also try to force US allies to uselessly do the same.

Russia: US military supremacy is not only excluded from the Iranian waters of the Persian Gulf but also in the skies – Russia’s involvement in Syria proved that. Fomenting war in poor, neighboring Ukraine was proof that the US knows that direct involvement in Russia is totally unwinnable. The only way that Washington can keep detente – the only solution between equals – off the table is to hysterically and pathetically insist that Russian operatives (such as Trump) are destroying America from within. Absurd, but America is still fighting a Cold War, one must remember: the fight for everyone to accept the American Dream.

Both US parties in disarray after stunning elections
Both US parties in disarray after stunning elections
Both mainstream parties in the United States are profoundly shaken by the election results from November 3rd.

Countries which Biden may attempt to destroy so they can live the American Dream of ‘stability for the 1%’

Cuba: Far-right Latin-American immigrants (from Cuba, Venezuela and elsewhere) have entered their second and even third-generations in the US. The 2020 election showed their essentially reactionary natures shining through – they were credited as being the force which swung Florida in favor of Trump. In order to turn Florida blue we could see Biden building on Trump’s appalling increase of the US-led blockade on the Cuban people. The vagaries of the circus which is US politics may demand a reboot of Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs attack, as useless as that would be against an almost supremely-united Cuban people whose political intelligence is among the best in the world.

Venezuela: Venezuelan strength is always underestimated in Western media, but there is no indication Biden has any intention of pulling back on Washington’s longstanding “Monroe Doctrine”, which declares Latin America to be Washington’s backyard. Iran and Venezuela keep bravely enriching the obvious ideological ties between the two socialist-inspired nations with commercial ties – could Biden force the US Navy to intervene? Trump showed a reluctance for open war, but did Biden ever vote against a war?  

Mali: Defeated in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria – whither Washington’s two-decade war on the Muslim world? Could the US reverse its longstanding policy of ceding West Africa to French imperialism and open up a new front on the opposite end of the Muslim world? France invaded Mali in 2013 without UN approval but there is now unprecedented grumbling about their own “endless war”: If any Western nation could possibly elect a semi-leftist president it would be France, and that could happen in 2022. Surely Biden is open to ideas here, given how many of his cabinet were involved in the destruction of Libya. Are we really wise to imagine Biden will peacefully pull out of the Muslim world? He has certainly promised nothing of the sort.

The United States: This is not an unnecessarily provocative addition. Biden, whom I refer to as “Corporate Joe” due to his half-century of turning his home state of Delaware into perhaps the world’s biggest tax haven for big business, already helped destroy Main Street in order to pay for bailouts of Wall Street during the Great Recession. The economic catastrophe in 2021 is going to be even worse for Main Street than it was in the awful 2020, so the path for America is crystal clear: massive economic redistribution and Roosevelt-era levels of government-controlled investments. Of course, those two things are totally anathema on both sides of the aisle in the US, but they say the times make the man: Just like Obama, Biden has the same chance to break with the failed decades of “trickle-down”, economic right-wing ideology – will “Corporate Joe” admit how spectacularly wrong he has been for so long? On a cultural level, Biden has not condemned the hysterical, vengeful, McCarthy-era tactics being shockingly threatened against 75 million Trump voters – will Biden foment civil discord as a way to distract from even more neoliberal, far-right economic policies that will surely prove unpopular? Is “never-Trumpism” never-ending?


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

www.presstv.ir

www.presstv.co.uk

www.presstv.tv

Related

Results are in: Americans lose, duopoly wins, Trumpism not merely a cult (1/2) – November 5, 2020

Results are in: Americans lose, duopoly wins, Trumpism not merely a cult (2/2) – November 6, 2020

4 years of anti-Trumpism shaping MSM vote coverage, but expect long fight – November 7, 2020

US partitioned by 2 presidents: worst-case election scenario realized – November 9, 2020

A 2nd term is his if he really wants it, but how deep is Trump’s ‘Trumpism’? – November 10, 2020

CNN’s Jake Tapper: The overseer keeping all journalists in line (1/2) – November 13, 2020

‘Bidenism’ domestically: no free press, no lawyer, one-party state? (2/2) – November 15, 2020

Where’s Donald? When 40% of voters cry ‘fraud’ you’ve got a big problem – November 17, 2020

The 4-year (neoliberal) radicalisation of US media & Bidenites’ ‘unradical radicalism’ – November 22, 2020

80% of US partisan losers think the last 2 elections were stolen – December 3, 2020

Trump declares civil war for voter integrity in breaking (or broken) USA – December 5, 2020

Mess with Texas via mail-in ballot? States secede from presidential vote – December 8, 2020

Biden won? 2016-2020 showed what the US does to even mild reformers – Dec 18, 2020

Alleged Nashville bomber not Muslim: Western media disappointed – January 2, 2020

This week in the US: The ‘model nation’ for no nation anymore – January 7, 2020

Biggest threat to global leftism returns to power: US fake-leftism (1/2) – January 8, 2021

US post-Capitol: Armed, hysterical, depressed and yet out for blood – Jan 13, 2021

Baghdad on the Potomac: Welcome to the Blue Zone

Via The Saker

Baghdad on the Potomac: Welcome to the Blue Zone

January 19, 2021

The star of the Joe and Kammy Regime Change Show

The season opening of the Joe and Kammy Regime Change Show could not be a more appropriate roomful of mirrors reflecting the self-described US “political elite”.

During the 2000s, I came face to face with Baghdad’s Green Zone multiple times. I always stayed, and worked, in the hyper-volatile Red Zone – as you may check in my 2007 book Red Zone Blues.

We knew then that blowback would be inevitable.

But still, we could never have imagined such a graphic simulacrum: the Green Zone fully replicated in the heart of imperial D.C. – complete with walls, barbed wire, multiple checkpoints, heavily armed guards.

That is even more significant because it ends a full “new world order” geopolitical cycle: the empire started bombing – and cluster bombing – Iraq 30 years ago. Desert Storm was launched in January 17, 1991.

The Blue Zone is now “protected” by a massive 26,000 plus troop surge – way more than Afghanistan and Iraq combined. The Forever Wars – which you may now relieve through my archives – have come back full circle.

Just like an ordinary Iraqi was not allowed inside the Green Zone, no ordinary American is allowed inside the Blue Zone.

Just like the Green Zone, those inside the Blue Zone represent none other than themselves.

The D.C. Blue Zone map

And just like the Green Zone, those inside the Blue Zone are viewed by half of the population in the Red Zone as an occupying force.

Only satire is capable of doing poetic justice to what is, de facto, the Potemkin inauguration of a hologram. So welcome to the most popular president in history inaugurated in secret, and fearful of his own, fake, Praetorian Guard. The Global South has seen this grisly show before – in endless reruns. But never as a homegrown Hollywood flick.

When in doubt, blame China

Meanwhile, trapped inside the Blue Zone, the White House has been busy compiling an interminable list of accomplishments.

Multitudes will go berserk relieving the appalling foreign policy disasters, courtesy of American Psycho Mike Pompeo; debunking the official narrative partially or as a whole; and even agreeing with the odd “accomplishment”.

Yet close attention should be paid to a key item: “Colossal Rebuilding of the Military”.

This is what is going to play a key role beyond January 20 – as Gen Flynn has been extremely busy showing evidence to the military, at all levels, of how “compromised” is the new Hologram-in-Chief.

And then there’s the rolling, never-ending November 3 drama. Blame should be duly apportioned. Impeachment, digital witch hunts, rounding up “domestic terrorists”, that is not enough. “Foreign interference” is a must.

Enter Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe, adamantly stating that “the People’s Republic of China sought to influence the 2020 U.S. federal elections.”

Ratcliffe was referring to a report sent to Congress on January 7 by the DNI’s Chief of the Solutions Division, or analytic ombudsman Barry Zulauf, side by side with an assessment about “foreign interference”.

A legitimate question is why it took them so long to finish this report. And it gets wackier: the full intel on the report about foreign interference was scotched by none other than CIA higher-ups.

The ombudsman states that the groups of analysts working on Russian and Chinese interference used different standards. Russia, of course, was guilty from the start: a categorical imperative. China had the benefit of the doubt.

Ratcliffe actually states that some analysts refused to blame Beijing for election interference because they were – what else – Never Trumpers.

So Langley, we’ve got a problem. Pompeus “We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal” Minimus is CIA. He qualifies the Chinese Communist Party as the greatest evil in the history of mankind. How would he not influence his minions to produce, by any means necessary, any instance of Chinese election interference?

At the same time, for the Dem Deep State faction, Russia is perpetually guilty of…whatever.

This rift inside the Deep State roomful of mirrors delightfully reverberates the Blue Zone/Red Zone schism.

Needless to add, in both the ombudsman’s report and Ratcliffe’s letter, there is absolutely no hard evidence of Chinese interference.

As for Russia, apart from election interference – once again, no evidence – the Dem Deep State Dementia apparatus is still busy trying to blame Moscow also for 1/6. The latest gambit centers on a MAGA chick who may have stolen Pelosi’s laptop from her office at the Capitol to sell it to the SVR, Russian foreign intel.

The whole Global South – Baghdad’s Green Zone included – just can’t get enough of the greatest show on earth. Do they sell bananas in the Blue Zone?

Compilation – Amerika: who we are!

Are You sure about that Joe?

MILITARY AND POLITICAL TRENDS OF 2020 THAT WILL SHAPE 2021

South Front

2020 was a year full of surprises. It marked the advent of a new reality which may, with an equal probability, lead humanity to a new dark age or to a global digital dystopia. In this context, there is little room for a positive scenario of sustainable development that would benefit people in general, as opposed to just a group of select individuals and special interest groups. The heft of shifts in 2020 is comparable to what European citizens felt on the eve of another change of the socio-economic formation in the early 17th  and 20th centuries.

The past year began with the assassination of the Iranian military genius General Qasem Soleimani by the United States, and it ended with the murder of the prominent scholar Mohsen Fakhrizadeh by the Israelis.

Iran's top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh assassinated near Tehran -  YouTube

In early January, Iran, expecting another aggressive action from the West, accidently shot down a Ukrainian civil aircraft that had inexplicably altered its course over Tehran without request nor authorization. Around the same time, Turkey confirmed the deployment of its military in Libya, beginning a new phase of confrontation in the region, and Egypt responding with airstrikes and additional shows of force. The situation in Yemen developed rapidly: taking advantage of the Sunni coalition’s moral weakness, Ansar Allah achieved significant progress in forcing the Saudis out of the country in many regions. The state of warfare in northwestern Syria has significantly changed, transforming into the formal delineation of zones of influence of Turkey and the Russian-Iranian-Syrian coalition. This happened amid, and largely due to the weakening of U.S. influence in the region. Ankara is steadily increasing its military presence in the areas under its responsibility and along the contact line. It has taken measures to deter groups linked to Al-Qaeda and other radicals. As a result, the situation in the region is stabilizing, which has allowed Turkey to increasingly exert control over most of Greater Idlib.

ISIS cells remain active in the eastern and southern Syrian regions. Particular processes are taking place in Quneitra and Daraa provinces, where Russian peace initiatives were inconclusive by virtue of the direct destructive influence of Israel in these areas of Syria. In turn, the assassination of Qasem Soleimaniin resulted in a sharp increase in the targeting of American personnel, military and civil infrastructure in Iraq. The U.S. Army was forced to regroup its forces, effectively abandoning a number of its military installations and concentrating available forces at key bases. At the same time, Washington flatly rejected demands from Baghdad for a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops and promised to respond with full-fledged sanctions if Iraq continued to raise this issue. Afghanistan remains stable in its instability. Disturbing news comes from Latin America. Confrontation between China and India flared this year, resulting in sporadic border clashes. This situation seems far from over, as both countries have reinforced their military posture along the disputed border. The aggressive actions of the Trump administration against China deepen global crises, which has become obvious not only to specialists but also to the general public. The relationship between the collective West and the Russian Federation was re-enshrined in “the Cold War state”, which seems to have been resurrected once again.

The turbulence of the first quarter of 2020 was overshadowed by a new socio-political process – the corona-crisis, the framework of which integrates various phenomena from the Sars-Cov2 epidemic itself and the subsequent exacerbation of the global economic crisis.  The disclosure of substantial social differences that have accumulated in modern capitalist society, lead to a series of incessant protests across the globe. The year 2020 was accompanied by fierce clashes between protesters professing various causes and law enforcement forces in numerous countries. Although on the surface these societal clashes with the state appear disassociated, many share related root causes. A growing, immense wealth inequality, corruption of government at all levels, a lack of any meaningful input into political decision making, and the unmasking of massive censorship via big tech corporations and the main stream media all played a part in igniting societal unrest.

In late 2019 and early 2020 there was little reason for optimistic projections for the near future. However, hardly anyone could anticipate the number of crisis events and developments that had taken place during this year. These phenomena affected every region of the world to some extent.

Nevertheless, Middle East has remained the main source of instability, due to being an arena where global and regional power interests intertwine and clash. The most important line of confrontation is between US and Israel-led forces on the one hand, and Iran and its so called Axis of Resistance. The opposing sides have been locked in an endless spiral of mutual accusations, sanctions, military incidents, and proxy wars, and recently even crossed the threshold into a limited exchange of strikes due to the worsening state of regional confrontation. Russia and Turkey, the latter of which has been distancing itself from Washington due to growing disagreements with “NATO partners” and changes in global trends, also play an important role in the region without directly entering into the confrontation between pro-Israel forces and Iran.

As in the recent years, Syria and Iraq remain the greatest hot-spots. The destruction of ISIS as a terrorist state and the apparent killing of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi did not end its existence as a terror group. Many ISIS cells and supporting elements actively use regional instability as a chance to preserve the Khalifate’s legacy. They remain active mainly along the Syria-Iraq border, and along the eastern bank of the Euphrates in Syria. Camps for the temporary displaced and for the families and relatives of ISIS militants on the territory controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in north-eastern Syria are also breeding grounds for terrorist ideology. Remarkably, these regions are also where there is direct presence of US forces, or, as in the case of SDF camps, presence of forces supported by the US.

The fertile soil for radicalism also consists of the inability to reach a comprehensive diplomatic solution that would end the Syrian conflict in a way acceptable to all parties. Washington is not interesting in stabilizing Syria because even should Assad leave, it would strengthen the Damascus government that would naturally be allied to Russia and Iran. Opposing Iran and supporting Israel became the cornerstone of US policy during the Trump administration. Consequently, Washington is supporting separatist sentiments of the Kurdish SDF leadership and even allowed it to participate in the plunder of Syrian oil wells in US coalition zone of control in which US firms linked to the Pentagon and US intelligence services are participating. US intelligence also aids Israel in its information and psychological warfare operations, as well as military strikes aimed at undermining Syria and Iranian forces located in the country. In spite of propaganda victories, in practice Israeli efforts had limited success in 2020 as Iran continued to strengthen its positions and military capabilities on its ally’s territory. Iran’s success in establishing and supporting a land corridor linking Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Iraq, plays an important role. Constant expansion of Iran’s military presence and infrastructure near the town of al-Bukamal, on the border of Iraq and Syria, demonstrates the importance of the project to Tehran. Tel-Aviv claims that Iran is using that corridor to equip pro-Iranian forces in southern Syria and Lebanon with modern weapons.

The Palestinian question is also an important one for Israel’s leadership and its lobby in Washington. The highly touted “deal of the century” turned out to be no more than an offer for the Palestinians to abandon their struggle for statehood. As expected, this initiative did not lead to a breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian relations. Rather the opposite, it gave an additional stimulus to Palestinian resistance to the demands that were being imposed. At the same time, Trump administration scored a diplomatic success by forcing the UAE and Bahrain to normalize their relations with Israel, and Saudi Arabia to make its collaboration with Israel public. That was a historic victory for US-Israel policy in the Middle East. Public rapprochement of Arab monarchies and Israel strengthened the positions of Iran as the only country which not only declares itself as Palestine’s and Islamic world’s defender, but actually puts words into practice. Saudi Arabia’s leadership will particularly suffer in terms of loss of popularity among its own population, already damaged by the failed war in Yemen and intensifying confrontation with UAE, both of which are already using their neighbor’s weakness to lay a claim to leadership on the Arabian Peninsula.

The list of actors strengthening their positions in the Red Sea includes Russia. In late 2020 it became known that Russia reached an agreement with Sudan on establishing a naval support facility which has every possibility to become a full-blown naval base. This foothold will enable the Russian Navy to increase its presence on key maritime energy supply routes on the Red Sea itself  and in the area between Aden and Oman straits. For Russia, which has not had naval infrastructure in that region since USSR’s break-up, it is a significant diplomatic breakthrough. For its part. Sudan’s leadership apparently views Russia’s military presence as a security factor allowing it to balance potential harmful measures by the West.

During all of 2020, Moscow and Beijing continued collaboration on projects in Africa, gradually pushing out traditional post-colonial powers in several key areas. The presence of Russian military specialists in the Central African Republic where they assist the central government in strengthening its forces, escalation of local conflicts, and ensuring the security of Russian economic sectors, is now a universally known fact. Russian diplomacy and specialists are also active in Libya, where UAE and Egypt which support Field Marshal Khaftar, and Turkey which supports the Tripoli government, are clashing. Under the cover of declarations calling for peace and stability, foreign actors are busily carving up Libya’s energy resources. For Egypt there’s also the crucial matter of fighting terrorism and the presence of groups affiliated with Muslim Brotherhood which Cairo sees as a direct threat to national security.

The Sahel and the vicinity of Lake Chad remain areas where terror groups with links to al-Qaeda and ISIS remain highly active. France’s limited military mission in the Sahara-Sahel region has been failure and could not ensure sufficient support for regional forces in order to stabilize the situation. ISIS and Boko-Haram continue to spread chaos in the border areas between Niger, Nigeria, Cameroun, and Chad. In spite of all the efforts by the region’s governments, terrorists continue to control sizable territories and represent a significant threat to regional security. The renewed conflict in Ethiopia is a separate problem, in which the federal government was drawn into a civil war against the National Front for the Liberation of Tigray controlling that province. The ethno-feudal conflict between federal and regional elites threatens to destabilize the entire country if it continues.

The explosive situation in Africa shows that post-colonial European powers and the “Global Policeman” which dominated that continent for decades were not interested in addressing the continent’s actual problem. Foreign actors were mainly focused on extracting resources and ensuring the interests of a narrow group of politicians and entities affiliated with foreign capitals. Now they are forced to compete with the informal China-Russia bloc which will use a different approach that may be a described as follows: Strengthening of regional stability to protect investments in economic projects. Thus it is no surprise that influential actors are gradually losing to new but more constructive forces.

Tensions within European countries have been on the rise during the past several years, due to both the crisis of the contemporary economic paradigm and to specific regional problems such as the migration crises and the failure of multiculturalism policies, with subsequent radicalization of society.

Unpleasant surprises included several countries’ health care and social protection networks’ inability to cope with the large number of COVID-19 patients. Entire systems of governance in a number of European countries proved incapable of coping with rapidly developing crises. This is true particularly for countries of southern Europe, such as Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Greece. Among eastern European countries, Hungary’s and Romania’s economies were particularly badly affected. At the same time, Poland’s state institutions and economy showed considerable resilience in the face of crisis. While the Federal Republic of Germany suffered considerable economic damage in the second quarter of 2020, Merkel’s government used the situation to inject huge sums of liquidity into the economy, enhanced Germany’s position within Europe, and moreover Germany’s health care and social protection institutions proved capable and sufficiently resilient.

Coronavirus and subsequent social developments led to the emergence of the so-called “Macron Doctrine” which amounts to an argument that EU must obtain strategic sovereignty. This is consistent with the aims of a significant portion of German national elites. Nevertheless, Berlin officially criticized Macron’s statements and has shown willingness to enter into a strategic partnership with Biden Administration’s United States as a junior partner. However, even FRG’s current leadership understands the dangers of lack of strategic sovereignty in an era of America’s decline as the world policeman. Against the backdrop of a global economic crisis, US-EU relations are ineluctably drifting from a state of partnership to one of competition or even rivalry. In general, the first half of 2020 demonstrated the vital necessity of further development of European institutions.

The second half of 2020 was marked by fierce mass protests in Germany, France, Great Britain, and other European countries. The level of violence employed by both the protesters and law enforcement was unprecedented and is not comparable to the level of violence seen during protests in Russia, Belarus, and even Kirgizstan. Mainstream media did their best to depreciate and conceal the scale of what was happening. If the situation continues to develop in the same vein, there is every chance that in the future, a reality that can be described as a digital concentration camp may form in Europe.

World media, for its part, paid particular attention to the situation in Belarus, where protests have entered their fourth month following the August 9, 2020 presidential elections. Belarusian protests have been characterized by their direction from outside the country and choreographed nature. The command center of protest activities is officially located in Poland. This fact is in and of itself unprecedented in Europe’s contemporary history. Even during Ukraine’s Euromaidan, external forces formally refused to act as puppetmasters.

Belarus’ genuinely existing socio-economic problems have led to a rift within society that is now divided into two irreconcilable camps: proponents of reforms vs. adherents of the current government. Law enforcement forces which are recruited from among President Lukashenko’s supporters, have acted forcefully and occasionally harshly. Still, the number of casualties is far lower than, for example, in protests in France or United States.

Ukraine itself, where Western-backed “democratic forces” have already won, remains the main point of instability in Eastern Europe. The Zelenskiy administration came to power under slogans about the need to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine and rebuild the country. In practice, the new government continued to pursue the policy aimed at maintaining military tension in the region in the interests of its external sponsors and personal enrichment.

For the United States, 2020 turned out to be a watershed year for both domestic and foreign policy. Events of this year were a reflection of Trump Administration’s protectionist foreign policy and a national-oriented approach in domestic and economic policy, which ensured an intense clash with the majority of Washington Establishment acting in the interests of global capital.

In addition to the unresolved traditional problems, America’s problems were made worse by two crises, COVID-19 spread and BLM movement protests. They ensured America’s problems reached a state of critical mass.

One can and should have a critical attitude toward President Trump’s actions, but one should not doubt the sincerity of his efforts to turn the slogan Make America Great Again into reality. One should likewise not doubt that his successor will adhere to other values. Whether it’s Black Lives Matter or Make Global Moneymen Even Stronger, or Russia Must Be Destroyed, or something even more exotic, it will not change the fact America we’ve known in the last half century died in 2020. A telling sign of its death throes is the use of “orange revolution” technologies developed against inconvenient political regimes. This demonstrated that currently the United States is ruled not by national elites but by global investors to whom the interests of ordinary Americans are alien.

This puts the terrifying consequences of COVID-19 in a new light. The disease has struck the most vulnerable layers of US society. According to official statistics, United States has had about 20 million cases and over 330,000 deaths. The vast majority are low-income inhabitants of mega-cities. At the same time, the wealthiest Americans have greatly increased their wealth by exploiting the unfolding crisis for their own personal benefit. The level of polarization of US society has assumed frightening proportions. Conservatives against liberals, blacks against whites, LGBT against traditionalists, everything that used to be within the realm of public debate and peaceful protest has devolved into direct, often violent, clashes. One can observe unprecedented levels of aggression and violence from all sides.

In foreign policy, United States continued to undermine the international security system based on international treaties. There are now signs that one of the last legal bastions of international security, the New START treaty, is under attack. US international behavior has prompted criticism from NATO allies. There are growing differences of opinion on political matters with France and economic ones with Germany. The dialogue with Eastern Mediterranean’s most powerful military actor Turkey periodically showed a sharp clash of interests.

Against that backdrop, United States spent 2020 continuously increasing its military presence in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea basin. Additional US forces and assets were deployed in direct proximity to Russia’s borders. The number of offensive military exercises under US leadership or with US participation has considerably increased.

In the Arctic, the United States is acting as a spoiler, unhappy with the current state of affairs. It aims to extend its control over natural resources in the region, establish permanent presence in other countries’ exclusive economic zones (EEZ) through the use of the so-called “freedom of navigation operations” (FONOPs), and continue to encircle Russia with ballistic missile defense (BMD) sites and platforms.

In view of the urgent and evident US preparations to be able to fight and prevail in a war against a nuclear adversary, by defeating the adversary’s nuclear arsenal through the combination of precision non-nuclear strikes, Arctic becomes a key region in this military planning. The 2020 sortie by a force of US Navy BMD-capable AEGIS destroyers into the Barents Sea, the first such mission since the end of the Cold War over two decades ago, shows the interest United States has in projecting BMD capabilities into regions north of Russia’s coastline, where they might be able to effect boost-phase interceptions of Russian ballistic missiles that would be launched in retaliatory strikes against the United States. US operational planning for the Arctic in all likelihood resembles that for South China Sea, with only a few corrections for climate.

In Latin America, the year of 2020 was marked by the intensification of Washington efforts aimed at undermining the political regimes that it considered to be in the opposition to the existing world order.

Venezuela remained one of the main points of the US foreign policy agenda. During the entire year, the government of Nicolas Maduro was experiencing an increasing sanction, political and clandestine pressure. In May, Venezuelan security forces even neutralized a group of US mercenaries that sneaked into the country to stage the coup in the interests of the Washington-controlled opposition and its public leader Juan Guaido. However, despite the recognition of Guaido as the president of Venezuela by the US and its allies, regime-change attempts, and the deep economic crisis, the Maduro government survived.

This case demonstrated that the decisive leadership together having the support of a notable part of the population and working links with alternative global centers of power could allow any country to resist to globalists’ attacks. The US leadership itself claims that instead of surrendering, Venezuela turned itself into a foothold of its geopolitical opponents: China, Russia, Iran and even Hezbollah. While this evaluation of the current situation in Venezuela is at least partly a propaganda exaggeration to demonize the ‘anti-democratic regime’ of Maduro, it highlights parts of the really existing situation.

The turbulence in Bolivia ended in a similar manner, when the right wing government that gained power as a result of the coup in 2019 demonstrated its inability to rule the country and lost power in 2020. The expelled president, Evo Morales, returned to the country and the Movement for Socialism secured their dominant position in Bolivia thanks to the wide-scale support from the indigenous population. Nonetheless, it is unlikely that these developments in Venezuela and Bolivia would allow to reverse the general trend towards the destabilization in South America.

The regional economic and social turbulence is strengthened by the high level of organized crime and the developing global crisis that sharpened the existing contradictions among key global and regional players. This creates conditions for the intensification of existing conflicts. For example, the peace process between the FARC and the federal government is on the brink of the collapse in Colombia. Local sources and media accuse the government and affiliated militias of detentions and killings of leaders of local communities and former FARC members in violation of the existing peace agreement. This violence undermine the fragile peace process and sets conditions for the resumption of the armed struggle by FARC and its supporters. Mexico remains the hub for illegal migration, drug and weapon trafficking just on the border with the United States. Large parts of the country are in the state of chaos and are in fact controlled by violent drug cartels and their mercenaries. Brazil is in the permanent state of political and economic crisis amid the rise of street crime.

These negative tendencies affect almost all states of the region. The deepening global economic crisis and the coronavirus panic add oil to the flame of instability.

Countries of South America are not the only one suffering from the crisis. It also shapes relations between global powers. Outcomes of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and the global economic crisis contributed to the hardening of the standoff between the United States and China.

Washington and Beijing have insoluble contradictions. The main of them is that China has been slowly but steadily winning the race for the economic and technological dominance simultaneously boosting own military capabilities to defend the victory in the case of a military escalation. The sanction, tariff and diplomatic pressure campaign launched by the White House on China since the very start of the Trump Presidency is a result of the understanding of these contradictions by the Trump administration and its efforts to guarantee the leading US position in the face of the global economic recession. The US posture towards the South China Sea issues, the political situation in Hong Kong, human rights issues in Xinjiang, the unprecedented weapon sales to Taiwan, the support of the militarization of Japan and many other questions is a part of the ongoing standoff. Summing up, Washington has been seeking to isolate China through a network of local military alliances and contain its economic expansion through sanction, propaganda and clandestine operations.

The contradictions between Beijing and Washington regarding North Korea and its nuclear and ballistic missile programs are a part of the same chain of events. Despite the public rhetoric, the United States is not interested in the full settlement of the Korea conflict. Such a scenario that may include the reunion of the North and South will remove the formal justification of the US military buildup. This is why the White House opted to not fulfill its part of the deal with the North once again assuring the North Korean leadership that its decision to develop its nuclear and missile programs and further.

Statements of Chinese diplomats and top official demonstrate that Beijing fully understands the position of Washington. At the same time, China has proven that it is not going to abandon its policies aimed at gaining the position of the main leading power in the post-unipolar world. Therefore, the conflict between the sides will continue escalating in the coming years regardless the administration in the White House and the composition of the Senate and Congress. Joe Biden and forces behind his rigged victory in the presidential election will likely turn back from Trump’s national-oriented economic policy and ‘normalize’ relations with China once again reconsidering Russia as Enemy #1. This will not help to remove the insoluble contradictions with China and reverse the trend towards the confrontation. However, the Biden administration with help from mainstream media will likely succeed in hiding this fact from the public by fueling the time-honored anti-Russian hysteria.

As to Russia itself, it ended the year of 2020 in its ordinary manner for the recent years: successful and relatively successful foreign policy actions amid the complicated economic, social and political situation inside the country. The sanction pressure, coronavirus-related restrictions and the global economic crisis slowed down the Russian economy and contributed to the dissatisfaction of the population with internal economic and social policies of the government. The crisis was also used by external actors that carried out a series of provocations and propaganda campaigns aimed at undermining the stability in the country ahead of the legislative election scheduled for September 2021. The trend on the increase of sanction pressure, including tapering large infrastructure projects like the Nord Stream 2, and expansion of public and clandestine destabilization efforts inside Russia was visible during the entire year and will likely increase in 2021. In the event of success, these efforts will not only reverse Russian foreign policy achievements of the previous years, but could also put in danger the existence of the Russian statehood in the current format.

Among the important foreign policy developments of 2020 underreported by mainstream media is the agreement on the creation of a Russian naval facility on the coast of the Red Sea in Sudan. If this project is fully implemented, this will contribute to the rapid growth of Russian influence in Africa. Russian naval forces will also be able to increase their presence in the Red Sea and in the area between the Gulf of Aden and the Gulf of Oman. Both of these areas are the core of the current maritime energy supply routes. The new base will also serve as a foothold of Russia in the case of a standoff with naval forces of NATO member states that actively use their military infrastructure in Djibouti to project power in the region. It is expected that the United States (regardless of the administration in the White House) will try to prevent the Russian expansion in the region at any cost. For an active foreign policy of Russia, the creation of the naval facility in Sudan surpasses all public and clandestine actions in Libya in recent years. From the point of view of protecting Russian national interests in the Global Oceans, this step is even more important than the creation of the permanent air and naval bases in Syria.

As well as its counterparts in Washington and Beijing, Moscow contributes notable efforts to the modernization of its military capabilities, with special attention to the strategic nuclear forces and hypersonic weapons. The Russians see their ability to inflict unacceptable damage on a potential enemy among the key factors preventing a full-scale military aggression against them from NATO. The United Sates, China and Russia are in fact now involved in the hypersonic weapon race that also includes the development of means and measures to counter a potential strike with hypersonic weapons.

The new war in Nagorno-Karabakh became an important factor shaping the balance of power in the South Caucasus. The Turkish-Azerbaijani bloc achieved a sweeping victory over Armenian forces and only the involvement of the Russian diplomacy the further deployment of the peacekeepers allowed to put an end to the violence and rescue the vestiges of the self-proclaimed Armenian Republic of Artsakh. Russia successfully played a role of mediator and officially established a military presence on the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan for the next 5 years. The new Karabakh war also gave an additional impulse in the Turkish-Azerbaijani economic and military cooperation, while the pro-Western regime in Armenia that expectedly led the Armenian nation to the tragedy is balancing on the brink of collapse.

The Central Asia traditionally remained one of the areas of instability around the world with the permanent threat of militancy and humanitarian crisis. Nonetheless, despite forecasts of some analysis, the year of 2020 did not become the year of the creation of ISIS’ Caliphate 2.0 in the region. An important role in preventing this was played by the Taliban that additionally to securing its military victories over the US-led coalition and the US-backed Kabul government, was fiercely fighting ISIS cells appearing in Afghanistan. The Taliban, which controls a large part of Afghanistan, was also legalized on the international scene by direct talks with the United States. The role of the Taliban will grow and further with the reduction of the US military presence.

While some media already branded the year of 2020 as one of the worst in the modern history, there are no indications that the year of 2021 will be any brighter or the global crises and regional instability will magically disappear by themselves. Instead, most likely 2020 was just a prelude for the upcoming global shocks and the acute standoff for markets and resources in the environment of censorship, legalized total surveillance, violations of human rights under ‘democratic’ and ‘social’ slogans’ and proxy wars.

The instability in Europe will likely be fueled by the increasing cultural-civilizational conflict and the new wave of newcomers that have acute ideological and cultural differences with the European civilization. The influx of newcomers is expected due to demographic factors and the complicated security, social situation in the Middle East and Africa. Europe will likely try to deal with the influx of newcomers by introducing new movement and border restrictions under the brand of fighting coronavirus. Nonetheless, the expected growth of the migration pressure will likely contribute to the negative tendencies that could blow up Europe from inside.

The collapse of the international security system, including key treaties limiting the development and deployment of strategic weapons, indicates that the new detente on the global scene will remain an improbable scenario. Instead, the world will likely move further towards the escalation scenario as at least a part of the current global leadership considers a large war a useful tool to overcome the economic crisis and capture new markets. Russia, with its large territories, rich resources, a relatively low population, seems to be a worthwhile target. At the same time, China will likely exploit the escalating conflict between Moscow and the US-led bloc to even further increase its global positions. In these conditions, many will depend on the new global order and main alliances within it that are appearing from the collapsing unipolar system. The United States has already lost its unconditional dominant role on the international scene, but the so-called multipolar world order has not appeared yet. The format of this new multipolar world will likely have a critical impact on the further developments around the globe and positions of key players involved in the never-ending Big Game.

قاسم سليماني أيقونة الثورة الإسلامية

ناصر قنديل

Photo of المضاربون وحدهم استفادوا
من الأرجوحة الحكوميّة

البحث في شخصية القائد الشهيد قاسم سليماني والمكانة التي احتلها في المقاومة التي خاضتها شعوب ودول المنطقة في مواجهة مشروع الهيمنة الأميركية من فلسطين الى لبنان وسورية والعراق واليمن وباكستان وأفغانتسان، لا بد أن يوصلنا إلى اكتشاف حقيقة أولى تتصل بكونه قد نجح دون تكليف رسمي أو قرار سياسي في الانتقال داخل وجدان حركات المقاومة من قائد إيراني يتولى تنسيق العلاقة بين قوى المقاومة والجمهورية الإسلامية في إيران، ويرعى حاجات هذه المقاومات المختلفة ويتابع معاركها كحليف صادق وصديق، إلى أن يصبح بالنسبة لكل من هذه الحركات والحكومات المعنية بمواجهة الهيمنة الأميركية، كأخ كبير ينتمي لكل من هذه الحركات والحكومات على حدة، بداية بصفة المستشار الخبير والحريص ولاحقا بصفته شريكا في القيادة التي تحمّل فيها خلال المعارك الميدانية مسؤوليات جسامًا وتعرض فيها لمخاطر كبيرة، سواء حيث تجسدت هذه الهيمنة بنسختها العدوانية التي يمثلها كيان الاحتلال، أو بنسختها التي يمثلها الاستبداد الخليجي، أو بنسختها التي تمثلها قوى الإرهاب التكفيري، أو بما جسده الاحتلال الأميركي المباشر.

قاسم سليماني أيقونة الثورة الإسلامية | ناصر قنديل

مع هذا التسلسل الزمني والخط البياني الذي رسمته مسيرة القائد سليماني، صار التنسيق بين حركات وقوى المقاومة متجسدا عمليا بوجود رئيس أركان لجيوش وقوى المقاومة مجمع عليه دون تكليف أو تعيين أو قرار، فقد صار سليماني العارف بظروف ومقدرات كل جبهة وخصوصياتها هو المؤهل ضمنا وبصورة فريدة وسلسة لتولي مهمة لم تنل صفة أو توصيفا، لكنها كانت عمليا رئاسة أركان جيوش وحركات تمسك بالكثير من نقاط القوة في المنطقة، وشكلت هذه الوضعية التمهيد الطبيعي لوجود محور مقاومة يتكامل ويتساند في الميدان قبل تظهيره كمحور، كان معلوما ان القائد سليماني هو رئيس أركان قواته .

لم يكن القائد سليماني بحاجة لصياغة نظرية عن أن القتال ضد الاحتلال في فلسطين وجنوب لبنان والتصدي للعدوان الرجعي الخليجي على اليمن ومواجهة المشروع التكفيري الإرهابي في العراق وسورية ولبنان والنضال لإزالة الاحتلال الأميركي عن أرض العراق وسورية، هي مجموعة معارك في حرب واحدة، وأن الرابط الأعمق بين الذين يقاتلون على كل هذه الجبهات يجب أن يكون إيمانهم بمكانة فلسطين والقدس في قلب مشروعهم الإستراتيجي، كي يستقيم قتالهم نحو الهدف المباشر الذي يتولون السعي إليه، لأن كل شيء يجري في المنطقة يرتبط عضويا بمصير هذا الكيان الغاصب لفلسطين، والقتال لإنهاء هذا الكيان هو ما يجد فيه القائد سليماني ترجمة مهنية عسكرية لتسمية القوة التي يقودها بفيلق القدس في الحرس الثوري الإسلامي.

قاسم سليماني أيقونة الثورة الإسلامية | ناصر قنديل

تاريخيا تبلغ الثورات مراحل نضجها التاريخي، وتثبت أهليتها للاستمرار كقوة دفع تاريخية، بعد أن يتثبت مركزها الجغرافي في قلب صناعة الأحداث، وتمتلك مشروعا تاريخيا وقيادة تاريخية، بأن تصنع رموزها الذين ترسم سيرتهم للشعوب والحركات النضالية مثالا وقدوة، ويتحولون الى ايقونات تجمع النظرية والممارسة، وتترجم بأعلى حالات التضحية مفهوم الثورة، فالإسلام كمحرك ثوري كرس رمزيته الثورية المستمرة بنموذج الإمام الحسين عليه السلام، وقبله وجدت المسيحية نموذجها النضالي المضحي في السيد المسيح عليه السلام. ومن يقرأ تاريخ الحركات التي استوحت من المسيحية والإسلام منهاجها الثوري سيجد لتجربة كل من السيد المسيح والإمام الحسين عليهما السلام مكانة خاصة، وسيجد لظروف عذاباتهما وتضحياتهما وبطولاتهما مكانة أشد خصوصية.

في تجربة اليسار العالمي يتميز اسم تشي غيفارا ويسطع كرمز للثورية والتضحية والنضال، خصوصا للبعد العابر للقوميات والوطنيات الذي جسده غيفارا ولظروف استشهاده على يد العدو الذي يختزن مشروع الاستعمار العالمي الذي تمثله أميركا، ومضمون ما مثله بأدائه الشخصي كجواب على قضية الدولة والثورة.

قاسم سليماني أيقونة الثورة الإسلامية | ناصر قنديل
القدس سره

في المسار الذي رسمه الإمام الخميني (قدس سره) للثورة الإسلامية في إيران، وجسده من بعده الإمام السيد علي الخامنئي، ثمة مفهوم ودور لبناء الدولة في الحفاظ على مفهوم الثورة، وكانت فلسطين تقع في قلب المشروع التاريخي للثورة الإسلامية، وكان بناء جيش من المؤمنين المتعبدين الطالبين للشهادة الهادف لتحرير فلسطين وحماية القدس، يشكل جوهر هذه الإستراتيجية، وكان هذا يستدعي نهضة إسلامية في الدول وبين الشعوب تحت عنوان فلسطين والقدس. ومنذ البدايات كان واضحا أن الثورة الإسلامية قد تعلمت الكثير من قراءة تجارب الثورات العالمية وتاريخ الحركات العابرة للوطنيات والقوميات، ولذلك سعت لتفادي تكرار تجربة الأحزاب الشيوعية، ووضعت الأمانة لفكرة المقاومة وفلسطين معيارا وليس الولاء للجمهورية الإسلامية والتبعية لها. وهكذا تشكّلَ خليط من التحالفات يضم حركات المقاومة في فلسطين على تنوعها وعدم تطابق مفاهميها الفكرية وتباين عدد من الاتجاهات الإسلامية بينها مع نظرة الجمهورية الإسلامية للإسلام، ويضم المقاومة الإسلامية في لبنان، والدولة السورية التي يقودها حزب قومي عربي علماني ، وحركات عراقية إسلامية ومثلها في باكستان وأفغانستان واليمن، لا تتطابق فيما بينها في الكثير من وجوه النظرة العقائدية والسياسية، لكنها تجمع بلا تردد او شبهة على مكانة قضية فلسطين ومشروع المقاومة. واذا كانت المقاومة الإسلامية في لبنان هي النموذج الأشد قربا بينها من الجمهورية الإسلامية فهما ودورا وموقفا، فإن هذه المقاومة بقيادة سماحة السيد حسن نصر الله، نجحت في تجسيد مفهوم محور المقاومة حتى شكلت مع القائد سليماني القاسم المشترك بين جميع هذه الجبهات.

في التجسيد الفكري ورمزية الدور كان القائد سليماني قد قطع نصف المسافة نحو ترجمة مفهوم الثورة الإسلامية، المتخذ من قضية المواجهة مع مشروع الهمينة الأميركية عنوانا له، وحيث لفلسطين مكانة الروح من الجسد، لكن القيادة في هذا المشروع تحتاج رجلا تكاملت فيه خصال الأولياء والشهداء والقديسين، بدرجة الإيمان والتشبع بأخلاق الأنبياء والأئمة، ليرمز للثورة كثورة إسلامية، بأبهى عناوين الحضور وتفاصيلها النابعة من عاطفة صادقة متدفقة نحو النبي والأئمة وأهل بيت الرسول (ص)، وبشجاعة وعلم حرب يقدمان نموذجا لا يضاهى بين قادة الجيوش مستوحيا من تجربة الإمام علي عليه السلام الكثير، واستعداد مفتوح لبذل الدم وصولا لطلب مستديم للشهادة على طريق الإمام الحسين عليه السلام، وصولا لسيرة عملية جمعت الانتصارات التي بلغ بعضها حد الإعجاز العسكري، كمواجهات الأيام الأولى مع تنظيم داعش الإرهابي حول بغداد، الى نماذج شديدة التعقيد في التخطيط والقيادة كانت في قلبها المعركة التاريخية لتحرير حلب التي أشرف على تفاصيلها وقادها في الميدان، وانتهاء بالاستشهاد غيلة على يد الأميركيين، لينتج للثورة الإسلامية أيقونتها التي تعمدت بها تجربة هذه الثورة كمسار تاريخي يقود الطريق نحو فلسطين.

اذا كانت سيرة القائد سليماني ورمزية قيادته لفيلق القدس منحت المصداقية لمشروع الثورة الإسلامية، فإن شهادته أكملت عدتها التاريخية نحو فلسطين.غرد النص عبر تويتر
(*) رئيس تحرير جريدة البناء | نائب سابق في البرلمان اللبناني

مقالات ذات صلة

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: